Notes: Um, Sunnydale timeline messed up
probably. Pre-avengers movie. Thanks to the ones on the list
who gave me ideas about this very formerly stuck story.
Fount of Wisdom and Information. And Sometimes Help.
Xander looked at the only person he had talked to about hunting.
His 'uncle' was not exactly normal himself. Considering his
'uncle' couldn't say what he did, or for who, or where, Xander had
figured he'd understand and be able to give him some advice. It
had helped when the girls were being hurtful bitches. It had also
helped on the nights when he couldn't sleep. Today, he needed
something more serious. "Uncle Paul?" he asked through the screen
door. His uncle waved him into his apartment. Xander closed
and locked the door, turning on the signal jammer at the front door
before sitting across from him.
"This looks bad, kid. Something going on in your life you need to
discuss?" he asked, smiling slightly. The boy was nicely paranoid
but Xander was about at the age to ask about girls.
"Two things. One of them thanks to chaos sorcerers. The
other .... Is just screwed up normal shit now. It's just
getting more intense."
"Chaos sorcerers?" he demanded. This was not why he expected his
nephew to be paranoid. He had heard about the hunting stuff a few
times, and was a bit freaked out, but he had taught Xander a lot about
how to stalk and hunt.
"Yeah. One that changed us into our halloween costumes last
year." His uncle gave him an odd look. "I took the cheap
option and just got a plastic gun from his shop."
"Oh, no. Who did you go as and why, nephew?"
"The principal made us go and escort little biters from the elementary
school." He smirked. "And I used that set of BDU's you left
in my closet that one time."
His uncle winced. "That's bad."
"Ya think?" he asked dryly. "Especially since I'm the only one
that seems to have kept long-term memories from it? Buffy
remembers more french now. Willow became a ghost." His uncle
winced. "We're not sure why since Willow didn't really buy
anything from his shop, and I'm not sure if the sheet ghost costume was
his or not. Others that bought from another store weren't
changed. But I seem to have knowledge I don't really feel
comfortable with, yet it's come in handy."
"I was wondering why we were talking about halloween in May."
"Because we had to handle something again," Xander said.
"Want to quit beating around the bush?" his uncle demanded. Xander
grabbed his remote and turned the channel to the Sunnydale public
broadcasting station. Every hour on the hour they ran a news
update. It was about ten til the hour.
"To this point, the Mayor and the Police Chief still have no idea who or
why some teenagers were who used a rocket launcher in the Sunnydale
Mall," the perky reporter opened with a smile. "All they have said
was that it was a problem and it was a gang-on-gang incident. The
security tapes from the mall are still missing, and it's assumed that
the gang members had it stolen right after the incident."
"Excuse me?" his uncle yelled.
Xander changed the station to the VCR setting and popped in the tape
from his pocket. His uncle watched then reached over to smack him
on the head. "Ow," Xander complained, rubbing it.
"How did you get that?"
"The person those BDU's belonged to gets what sort of access?" Xander
countered. His uncle stared, mouth slightly open, a bit of drool
coming down his chin. "Yeah! And I kept more than the girls
"Fuck!" his uncle shouted as he hopped up, making his neighbors pound on
the walls. "Oh, shut up! I'm talking to my idiot
nephew!" He looked at said idiot nephew. "You did *what*?"
"You know, that's the best date I've ever been on," Xander
admitted. He shrugged a bit. "What did you want me to
do? Couldn't be destroyed by anything man-made. We spent a
while picking up the blobs of blue crap later on, after the mall had
been shut down."
His uncle swallowed the drool, flopping down in his chair again. "I should recruit you."
"I need someone who can help us. Because they're not listening to me. I'm *normal*."
Xander nodded. "I'm a male too. That lack of a vagina is apparently making me worse than useless to them."
"What sort of help do you guys need?"
"I've been pointing out some common sense things. They don't
listen to me." His uncle nodded once at that. "And earlier
this week I had to lie to Buffy about Willow retrying the restoring the
soul spell from the hospital because she couldn't fight her ex."
"Keep going." He made 'go on' hand motions.
"She did fight him. Willow managed an impossible spell from a
hospital bed, right out of a coma, and Angel created a situation where
she ended up sending him to hell. So she snapped and ran."
His uncle slumped. "Damn it," he hissed.
"Which is why I need someone who has some ideas. We're filling in. Me, Oz, Giles, Willow."
"That Giles guy doesn't have any common sense?"
"Back in her first year there, there was a prophecy stating that the
slayer would die. Giles basically threw up his hands and let it
happen. I followed her with Angel at cross-point and did CPR since
she had drowned." His uncle whimpered. "He's a
researcher. Like Evie from _the Mummy_."
His uncle rubbed his forehead. "Okay," he decided, looking at him. "Do you have common sense?"
"Sometimes I think Oz and I are the only ones that do."
Xander shrugged. "They won't listen to me. I feel like Cassandra."
"Let them do it their way and say 'I told you so'?" his uncle suggested.
"Sure, let me attend more funerals, possibly my own," Xander said
dryly. "Especially since Willow doesn't think I'm very good at
patrolling." He scratched the bruise on his wrist. "I'm
about at the stage of saying 'fuck it' and walking off but I don't want
to go to their funerals," he said more quietly. "And I will.
Even if Buffy comes back, there's going to be a death within a year
most likely. I've already seen ten of my yearmates die this
year. I'm not sure how much more death I can take and I know
there's shit going on that'll be worse."
"There's got to be a puppet master. With the way things go on
around town, there's got to be a puppet master making sure things are
going the way he wants to cover his own butt." He took a deep
breath. "We've had hints of there being someone behind things
beyond Angelus and Spike. There's also the fact that patrols got a
bit routine so whoever it is sent demons that wouldn't work together by
their known characteristics attacking at the same time."
"Okay. So we have a puppet master. That's actually something I would've expected."
"How long before that puppet master moves directly against us instead of using us to help cover his ass?"
His uncle considered it. "Any idea who he is and where? Or why?"
"No." He swallowed. "I suggested there might be one.
Giles gave me a dirty look and assured me it was probably a vampire
master. Giles goes to vampires, demons, magic, then humans.
He doesn't really stop to think that humans are sometimes the problems,
or that there's higher demons that make plans."
"You don't have any idea who it is?"
"No. I know they've got dirty people in the city services.
Things get cleaned up way too quietly and quickly to be normal."
"So the puppet master might be in the city government," his uncle said. "Let me get online and do some searching, kid."
"Can I nap?" he asked.
His uncle looked at him, studying his face. He could see the
bruise-looking dark circles. The swollen cheek bone. "Can I
beat your mother?"
"Wasn't her. It was patrol. They were fighting all night
because my father lost his job again. I went on an extra long
patrol last night to stay out of the way."
"Wonderful," he muttered. "Sure, kid, take the couch."
Xander nodded, laying down after kicking off his shoes. His uncle
got into his computer to start looking at the newspaper in
Sunnydale. There were definitely hints of someone pulling
strings. Though some things started to stick out. He called a
contact to do a few name checks. Including on that Giles
guy. Something was really wrong about him too.
Xander walked into the library at the high school, looking at the
librarian and the principal, who were staring off with each other.
Xander cleared his throat. The principal sneered at him.
"Do you mind, Principal Snyder? I just saw one of the new bushes
out there run over a bus." The principal snorted but stomped
off. Xander walked back to lock the doors and pull down the window
shades. He came back. He sighed, looking at Giles, who
looked pissed off. "I was right."
"There being someone pulling strings."
Giles rolled his eyes and put back on the glasses he had been cleaning. "I'm sure it's a vampire."
"No, the mayor's not." Giles' mouth flopped open. Xander put
the file on the check-in desk. "I asked an unofficial uncle who
used to be military to help me figure out who because I think they're
going to come after us."
"Why would he?" Giles asked a bit too calmly.
"Gee, I don't know. For unraveling some plans?" Xander said dryly,
staring at him. "Or because my uncle found that the military is
doing something questionable around here? We're kind of stuck in the
middle of the crossfire of the two bad guys here."
"What would the military be doing here, Xander?"
"Well, there's a hidden research base under the college," he
offered. "That has a lot of scientific equipment that was ordered
recently. Including things to do DNA testing." Giles gave
him an odd look. "There's also rumors of certain demons
disappearing by the college."
Giles cleared his throat. "You think they're hunting them?"
"No. I think they're experimenting on them. There's hissed
whispers about it outside of town." He patted the file.
"Also, why would a century-old wizard be doing with the hellmouth?"
Giles took the folder to look over. "That's very odd," he said as he read. "He certainly doesn't look that old."
"There's *never* been an election," Xander said quietly, glancing at the
door. It had just rattled. He looked at their mentor
again. "What would he be doing here if that's all that we know?"
"There's not many rites that would extend a life," Giles said, going for his books.
"I think the real problem may be why is he extending his life?" Xander asked.
Giles paused to stare at him. "That is a very interesting
question. Are you sure the two groups aren't working
together?" Xander shook his head. "Why?"
"Demon underground said that a group of various demons, of various
species, attacked the base's people." The door was unlocked from
outside and Willow walked in. "Wills, give us a minute
please?" She huffed but stomped off, leaving the door open.
He went back and relocked it. He walked back to where Giles was
standing. "Also," he said with a point. "Didn't you used to
have more books?"
Giles looked at the magic books in the book cage, frowning at it. "That is a bit shorter."
"Yeah." Xander nodded. "Why would a coma make one stronger?"
he asked. Giles gave him a horrified look. "Which is a
whole other worry at the moment."
"She could have great potential."
"Yeah. She might. Isn't that sort of training like any other
sort of training? You learn the basics, you learn the harder
things, then if you have a real gift you go to college for it?"
"Something like that." He shook his head. "I'll look into
that later. Is there any means that we think this individual might
"That still narrows it down a bit." He got the books down on those
rites, looking them over. Xander found a book on the history of
Sunnydale, flipping back to the beginning. He groaned and put the
book down on top of Giles' book. He pointed at the name.
"Oh, dear," Giles said, taking it to scan. "So it's clearly a
"Why *here*?" Xander asked.
"That is troublesome." He took off his glasses to rub his left eye
then put them back on, going back to his research book. "What
made you think we have a puppet master, Xander?"
"How often has a serious mess been cleaned up quickly, quietly, and
never got noted?" Giles looked confused. "Like the last time
Buffy had to slay demons that didn't go to ash. There were five
"She left one injured but alive. It crawled off. Within an
hour of her stomping off from there, city services were cleaning up the
bodies. They seemed real good at it and didn't look around like
they might be attacked. They see one at least once a week yet
they're chatting like it's a fun job on the candy line. Even the
normals don't like to go outside and do tend to act a bit paranoid after
"So you believe they've got a free-work pass," Giles said. Xander grinned and nodded. "Any other hints?"
"We know we still have some of the Master's family around here. We
know that they've been taking over the town for over a century.
Why haven't they?"
Giles blinked a few times. "What?"
"How long would it take a strong vampire family like the Master's kids take to really take over Sunnydale if they wanted to?"
"That would leave no food sources."
"Yes it would. There's plenty of people within a short
drive. If it was any organized group, they would have made a safe
home base that they could defend. Their fort basically. They
don't have one?"
"No, we never found evidence of one."
"Why not? I'm sure at least one person that's gotten turned is
former military or at least had some planning ability. If me, who
got a lot of it from D&D, thinks of it why didn't they?"
"They seem to have fractured off sub-groups," Giles said.
"Who also haven't made a home base, worked overly hard to take over the
town, and are either really lazy or has a plan. We have sixteen or
so *major* enclaves of vampires. Plus the various demon species'
areas." Giles nodded at that, looking thoughtful. "Are you
telling me that none of them could've taken the town over in a
century?" He tapped the history book. "Also, from what we
learned about the Master from his lair, it was Wilkins who fought him
and trapped him."
"So you think they've left the humans to cover up their activities?"
"Probably, yeah. A small group of vampires, say the size of
Angelus' family, could've taken over Sunnydale within a few months if
they had wanted to and weren't stopped. There haven't been any
slayers here for how long?"
"Fifty years," Giles said, considering that. "Why didn't they grow exponentially?"
"Why didn't the death rate go *way* up when there wasn't a slayer
here? There's been a high one, there still is, but it never went
above twenty-eight percent."
Giles shook his head. "That does make no sense. It should
have gotten more out of hand until the elder vampires took care of the
young ones drawing notice." He got another book. "Which
would again speak to us having someone in charge." He pulled it
down to glance at a section then came back. "That does narrow down
a few rites."
"Would any of them give them *real* power?" Xander asked. "You
don't make plans like this without getting a lot in return."
Giles considered that then nodded. "That narrows it down to
three." He looked up those three. "Go get Willow so she can
"Why don't I do an inventory of the book cage first?" he offered with a smirk.
Giles looked at him. "I'm sure I took them home."
"I'm sure you didn't." He opened his backpack and handed it
over. "Stole it from the pawn shop." Giles scowled. He
pointed at the 'tag' on it to show who had pawned it. "That's a
Giles looked then groaned. "Please do one. Did you see any others?"
"Two other magic books, no tags." He went to get the inventory
list and took it to do the inventory. Willow came in a bit later
with a new frappe. "Willow, Giles needs help researching."
"What are you doing?" she demanded.
He looked at her. "Inventory. I spotted a magic book in a
pawn shop." He went back to it, glancing out of the corner of his
eye to see her blanche.
She walked into the office. "Giles, do we think Angelus got into the books?"
He looked at her. "I'm not sure yet," he said with a smile.
"We need to look over three possible reasons for us having plans going
"All right." She took the books to the table to go over them. "Ritual magic."
Xander leaned back to look at her. "Uncle Paul said hi." She
shivered. He knew then that she was in trouble and he couldn't
save her. It was clearly something she had to do for
herself. Paul could've helped if it was a legal problem, a moral
problem, a hunting problem, or a personal problem. But if she
reacted that way it was a higher wrong thing. Which made him
sad. And a bit depressed. Maybe Buffy had the right idea of
leaving Sunnydale for good.
Xander met his uncle that night at the mini-golf park's parking
lot. "Hey, Uncle Paul." He gave him a quick, backslapping
hug. "How was your day?"
"Not as interesting as my evening." He looked at him. "She's in trouble."
"I told her you said hi and she shivered," Xander said quietly, glancing
around. He pulled up his crossbow and got a vampire trying to
sneak up on them. "And?"
"I hope I got them all." Xander pulled out his cheap burner phone
to call someone. They strolled up a few minutes later.
"Giles, this is my 'uncle'." They shook hands. "I had him
look into that inventory problem as a favor, which means I owe him a lot
of training time." His uncle smirked and nodded. "I think
you need to see what he found."
Paul opened his trunk, showing off the boxes of books. Giles
muttered a few swears in Ancient Greek. "Where?" Giles asked
"The McNally house," he said.
Xander stiffened. "She used Jesse's house?" he demanded.
"A few were in her room, kiddo. I went looking there and her usual
hiding spot upstairs from the town library." He looked at Giles
again. "I'm not sure they're all yours. Some have stamps and
tags from the Sunnydale Public Library."
"They have magic books there?" Giles asked.
Xander nodded. "Chaos magic. Some of those 'written by wannabe Wicca' books too."
Giles huffed as he looked through the boxes. "This is not good. Where's the black bound book?"
"In the bottom of the box underneath that one," Uncle Paul said. "It was moving on its own so I weighed it down."
"That's a grand idea." He looked at him. "Can you drop these off at my apartment?"
"Yes. Definitely." He smiled. "Then I'd love to have a talk with her."
"Be subtle?" Xander asked quietly.
"Yup." He smiled at Xander. "Go on patrol, kid."
Xander nodded and left them to talk. He looked at Giles.
"He's a good kid. Has good bouts of common sense, which is pretty
rare at his age. I'm proud of how well he raised himself."
Giles nodded. "We'd like him to not get hurt as often."
"Then you should probably train the boy like you were," Paul
quipped. "Like the military would. I know *many* good
commanders who would *adore* having Xander to train. I had him
take the ASVAB a few summers ago to see where his skills and interests
lie. I know some who'd *beg* to have that boy to finish molding
into a great soldier."
"I'll keep that in mind. Is Xander interested?"
"Sure beats getting his soul eaten by the stress and strain of people who consider him painfully not useful."
"I'll see if there's a way we can help his training," Giles said quietly.
Paul smiled. "I think it'd be good for everyone if Xander kept living for a few more years."
"Yes, he does lighten things. Thank you." Paul nodded,
driving him and the books to his apartment so Giles could hide them.
Paul walked up to Willow about an hour later, looking at her.
"You're arching your back too much and lunging too far." She
flinched and turned to look at him. The branch she had been using
floated itself into the vampire. He stared at her. "I need
to ask you something real serious, Willow girl."
"Sure, Paul." She walked over. "Did something else happen to Xander?"
He snorted. "No. Xander's fine. He's got a good head
on his shoulders and I can help him learn the proper ways of hunting if
he needs me to." She snorted and shook her head. He
nodded. "Not much different than going on missions as Spec Ops,
little girl." She flinched. He smirked as he took her arm to
walk her off. "Xander asked me for a few favors. One was to
do a bit of subtle searching about things." She nodded.
"The second was that Jesse's house had signs of people using it."
She gaped, staring at him. "I noticed your shrine and I noticed
that someone had been stealing things in there. I gave them to the
librarian guy Xander said was all right. I also noticed that
there was a stash of things that shouldn't be in anyone's hands."
"Um... like what?" she asked.
"Like the weed, Willow." She shook her head quickly. He
still caught the look in her eyes. "Also like the magic
stuff there on the shrine. You weren't trying to resurrect him,
right?" he asked firmly.
"No. I know he got dusted during the Harvest thingy at the
Bronze," she said quietly. She floated a branch at another
He looked then at her. "Why are you exhausting yourself not doing it the normal way?"
"I'm not good at it the physical way. Neither is Xander."
"Xander's really good at it. I tested him." She slumped,
shaking her head. "Also, you may have a twat but it does not mean
that dicks are lesser constructs. It's the same organ only inside
out." He stared her down. "He didn't want to say anything
but something slipped out and I made him tell me. I will paddle
your ass." She nodded, looking down. "Good. Now go
home for the night." He shot the vampires coming toward them with
his crossbow. He looked at her again. "Bring your new
boyfriend over too. That way I can make sure he's worthy of my
niece." He patted her on the cheek and walked off.
She stared at his back then stomped off to yell at Xander. He was
already at home and so were his parents. The lights were on so
they were still awake and drunk. She'd yell in the morning.
She went home. She noticed the empty shelves and stared then
glared at the door. She and Xander were definitely having a talk
in the morning.
Giles stopped Willow before she could get farther than the door of the
library. He stared her down. "How did you get chaos books
from the book cage without me realizing?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, you did, Willow. You checked them out." He let her arm
go. "If it hadn't been for yours and Xander's pseudo-uncle, those
could have fallen into very bad hands."
"They were safe with me!" she said.
"Really? Because vampires can't break in when you're not home?" he asked in that genteel voice of his.
He frowned. "If you're not home and there's no soul presence in the building, they can get into a domicile."
"I didn't see that anywhere!"
"It's how they take over abandoned houses," Xander said from his seat
reading. "As for why Uncle Paul looked, he found one of them in
Jesse's house." He looked at her. "He also found evidence
that at least one other person was shacking up in there and they're
probably human since most vampy vamps don't smoke weed." She shook
her head quickly. He nodded. "He found size ten, men's size
ten, footprints out back, Willow. He was pretty sure there were
other people in there."
"You told him what?" she demanded, stomping around Giles to glare at
him. "I'm so pissed off at you and you're still normal!"
He stared at her. "Being a witch doesn't make you any less
normal," he quipped with an evil look. "It just means you can do
things like kill humans with your magic." She flinched. He
stood up. "Beyond that, Rosenburg, you're dirtying Jesse's
memory. Which I will not allow." She took a step back.
"Don't go back there. He might be pleased about the magic stuff
going on, he was whenever he played a wizard or whatever, but he
wouldn't want you to be raped or killed in his bedroom." She took a
step back shaking her head. He sneered. "He's also hate you
using his house for whatever plan this is." He closed the book in
front of him. "Since I saw him come down as a ghost
recently.... He was a bit pissed off at you."
"You can't have," she said firmly. "That doesn't happen! He
was turned, Xander! You don't come back from that!"
"There is the options of ghosts and other spirits," Giles said quietly. "As we've seen by those poltergeists."
"I caught the Magic Box's owner doing a seance and asked her to see if
he was at peace," Xander said more quietly, staring at her. "He
said he was worried about you for some reason. He was sure I'd be
fine but you.... He wasn't sure if you'd be dying soon,
Willow. And he wasn't sure you'd be joining him." She burst
out crying and ran off. He sat down with a huff.
"Was that really necessary?" Giles demanded.
Xander looked at him and nodded. "Yeah." He tossed something
onto the desk. "I snuck it after she left last night. Which
is why I asked my uncle."
Giles picked up the slim journal and looked at the last few pages,
blushing a bit. He moved backwards and paused, staring at
it. "Excuse me?" Xander looked then turned the page
forward. He pointed then sat down again. Giles read it and
his face went hard.
"After having met your old friend," Xander said dryly. "I'm starting to wonder a few things."
Giles looked at him. "I would not let her go down that path."
"How would you stop her?"
"That is a good point." He sat down to go over the non-personal
things in the book. "Oh, dear Christ," he muttered. He
looked up and found Xander had left for class, or so he hoped and
assumed. The boy really should try to attend more of his classes
and bring his grades up. Giles went back to reading. He got
up to find the book of rites. It was still there. He locked
it up and found the phone book so he could have the locks on the book
"Here Mr. Gooey Demon," Xander called softly as he walked around a cave
in the cliffs outside of town. "Nice Mr. Gooey Demon." It
roared and jumped out so he shot it with the crossbow. Not
killed. He pulled his short sword and got it instead. It
died and he grinned. "Cool!" He stripped off the demon's
shirt and vest, taking the magical things from it, then his pouch of
magical supplies. He moved to search the rest of the cave, coming
out with a lot of things that should not fall into others' hands.
He spotted Giles staring and shrugged. "Do you want vampy vamps
and other demons to get hold of his supplies?"
"No," Giles admitted. "What are those?"
"Mostly herbs, a few journal looking books, his altar set, and a few
minor weapons." He let him see them. "I'm going to put them
into the storage building I have rented." He took Giles there so
he could look it over. Giles stared at the marked piles then at
him. "It makes no sense to leave them there where just anyone can
pick them up and use them like the demon wanted to."
"No, it doesn't," he admitted. "That's very sensible,
Xander." He walked in to look over things while Xander sorted
things into their various storage boxes. Giles picked up
something. "That's magically charged and should be stored in
something so it can't leak."
"I can't tell magic," Xander reminded him. "But hey, go for it. Whatever you need out of here."
Giles nodded, taking the herbs and books with him, as well as the other
mystical artifacts. That would get sorted and stored somewhere
more official. It was a good idea for someone to handle.
Xander had shown he had some sense yet again, not that the girls would
appreciate it. They'd consider it stealing or some such probably.
Xander leaned into his uncle's apartment. "I found something some of your people lost. Want it?"
"Hell yes. No telling what you found." He put on shoes and
followed the boy out to the piece of crap car that was as big as a boat
he was driving. "Where'd you get this wrecked relic?"
"Uncle Rory. The 'rents made me buy it from him." He drove
him off. "After I stared at it for over an hour in horrified awe, I
figured we might want to get it out of the town."
"Am I gonna need help?"
"Could be." He turned on the radio, taking him to the warehouse it
was in. The warehouse itself was dusty and looked empty.
"Holy water grenade," he said with a grin. "Took out a vamp
clan." He opened the trap door into the basement and let his uncle
go down first.
Paul stared at the boxes crated on the end he was facing but Xander
walked him off to a tiny corner that was tilted. He could see a
tiny light blinking in the dark. Xander turned on the overhead
lights, letting him see it. He stared at the compact bomb that was
reading a few weeks of time. "Huh," he said, nodding
slightly. "Someone probably did lose that since it looks like they
broke apart a missile head to make it." He called in an older
friend. "It's Paul. My unofficial nephew just found a huge,
compact bomb under a warehouse. By LA. Sunnydale, yes.
No, do not send some of those torturing yahoos. We don't need
their help. Have to kill 'em for being so bent in uniform
anyway." He took a picture with his phone and sent it to his
buddy. "Should have it." He hung up and looked it over
without touching it. "You touch it?"
"Slightly to nudge it since it was back further in the hole. I
checked for linking wires first. I'm wondering if these people
realize we have earthquakes here."
"Probably not," he said dryly. His phone rang and he answered it,
walking off to check the other boxes. "That might work," he said
as the person yelled at him. "Yeah, I'm staying right here with
it. Nephew nudged it further into the light after looking at it
for an hour. He wanted to know if whoever planted it realized we
have earthquakes." He hung up and got into the other boxes then
took another picture to send him. Xander came over to look over
his shoulder, moaning some. "How do you think they got this
"Stole it from whoever put it into police custody? I know that's empty because that's the one we used."
Paul looked then nodded it was. "Wipe your prints, kid."
"Probably too late." He did it anyway and put on rubber
gloves. He had forgotten earlier. They heard someone come in
and Xander went up to talk to them. "Hey, Officer Doug."
"Harris?" Xander nodded. "Why are you here?"
"I was tracking someone's missing dog into the basement and found something that I had Uncle Paul look at."
"Wasn't your Uncle Paul military?" Xander nodded. "Should we know?"
"Nope. He called someone." He grinned. The officer
groaned and pulled his gun but Xander threw a knife and got him in the
stomach. "No, I don't think we're going to react that way, Officer
Doug." The officer was staring at him. Xander stared back
with a grin. "How has your day been?" He heard a truck and
glanced outside then groaned. "Okay, that's the military project
full of sickos." He got them both downstairs and hissed at his
Uncle. Doug got gagged with his tie but that was fine. He
didn't want taken into their custody either.
"The hostiles cleared out," one of the soldiers said. "We should
search for anything relevant." Xander and Paul shared a
look. Paul was holding the trapdoor closed. They heard
someone walk closer to it and over it. They were staring up to
follow the dust from them walking around. Xander shook his head
and pointed. Paul nodded he noticed one had stopped. They
had probably seen the cruiser or their car outside.
Then someone shot at the trapdoor. Paul got shot in the arm.
Xander had moved himself out of the way. Doug was in worse
shape. Xander snatched Paul's phone to put in the emergency code
his uncle had taught him. It took a half-hour to get help but they
could handle that. Xander knew how to use a gun. He had
another holy water grenade on him too. That might not do much to
the soldiers but the explosion itself would, plus some shrapnel
When the door opened he tossed the grenade up. It went off and
soldiers started to yell. Xander shot anything that got near the
trap door while staying out of easy visual range. The soldiers were
calling in reinforcements. Xander looked at the officer. Who
was shaking his head. Sunnydale PD would never show up for
this. Xander hit a few more and injured them. More people
were pulling up in a heavy truck. That was a bad sign. It
was probably a troop carrier so at least twenty more soldiers.
Xander looked in the box Paul was pawing at, tossing him a shirt in
there to put over his wound then grabbed a few things and tossed them
out. The soldiers laughed but Xander set them off. Not as
many moving people suddenly.
"Harris," one shouted.
Xander glanced to the side, where he could barely see someone. "Who the fuck are you?"
"We're military and you're under arrest."
"I was turning in the bomb we found to someone legal and you guys are
under charges for doing military operations inside the US since you're
not National Guard. They call that treason from what I'm
told." The soldier shot at him. Xander was ready and had
ducked down but got him and threw up a few more explosive things,
knocking them out. They weren't strong but they were handy.
They heard a helicopter and he glanced at Paul, who nodded that had to
be the help they wanted. More people ran in. "Boys, get the
idiots in uniform who torture people," Paul shouted. "I sent in
the emergency code." They shot a bigger gun through the
hole. Xander got them. "Okay, can't trust your own
government," he decided, sending out one last try. That went to
someone he trusted. He might not live that long but Xander
would. He was resourceful.
Xander handed him the gun and got the bomb, looking it over. He
fixed two things, which reset the timer. Paul was glaring but
Xander shrugged and stuck it on a beam under the floor. He got
Doug and Paul moved out of the way. There was a sewer entry.
They got down it in time to barely get hit with debris from the
warehouse exploding. Xander got them back to a safer area.
"Want to keep him?" he asked with a nod at the officer.
"Yeah, I do." They got out of the sewer and found some military
guys checking the area. Xander got them out and it was easier to
move them. A new helicopter was coming in. Paul
watched but it wasn't who he had called. "Shit." He looked
at his nephew. "I might have to send you to safety, kid."
Xander shrugged. "I know this town better than they do,
Paul." He got them through the backdoor of a demon clinic and
blatantly stole the first aid box. "Thanks, need this.
Military people who were capturing demons for testing are out and pissed
off." The nurse that spotted him yelled that and they closed
everyone in there safely. Xander got them into a car, which Paul
hotwired. Xander drove them out of town to a safe place he and
Paul knew about. He and Doug got treated and rested while Xander
watched and waited.
Paul woke up to a bad sound. Someone choking. He
looked. Xander had fallen asleep without waking him and there was a
vine trying to choke him. He got it off him. "Should've
woken me, kid." Xander pointed. A dead snake. "It bite
you?" Xander shook his head. "You sure?"
"I'm immune," he said quietly. "Won't matter." He got up,
rubbing his throat. "Thanks. I was moving away from the
snake when I tripped and hit my head."
"Happens," Paul agreed. They watched outside. There was a
car parked up the road. Not theirs, which had been reclaimed about
two blocks up apparently. The car was a black sedan. "I
have no idea who that is."
Xander grimaced. "Could be helpful or not?" Paul nodded. "Then how do we figure it out?"
"Got a handy thing?"
Xander picked up the dead snake and wrapped it around a crossbow
bolt. He fired it next to the car, which meant the guys in there
got out when the snake dropped onto the windshield. He looked at
his uncle, who smiled and nodded. "Good?"
"Good guys usually." He leaned out. "Hey." They stared
at him and he nodded. They came strolling over, watching around
them. "Thank you."
"Welcome. What happened?"
Xander told him what happened, from when he had found the bomb.
They stared at him. The other agent nodded. "Why didn't you
call someone official?"
"Because of the torturing sicko squad," Xander said. "Which got
sent when Paul told someone official. That's why we had to get
ourselves out of there."
"Sounds like you managed it and made a mess," the first agent said. "You guys good?"
"Officer Doug's probably going to need some stitches," Xander
said. "I got him with a dagger and then they got him in the
leg. I field treated him."
The agents stared at him. "Why do you know how to do that?" the second asked with a smile.
Xander smirked back. "In case you didn't realize there's an
unofficial protection patrol around here to lower our outstanding death
"I've heard," the first agent said. "Paul complained about you guys a lot, Harris."
Xander nodded. "It helps. Plus bad parents. I've done a lot of bandaging since I was about six."
One of the agents looked outside. "They've found you."
"Make sure the officer gets to a better hospital," Xander ordered,
shoving him over. "They'll kill him at ours." That got a nod
and the second agent took off with him. Xander, Paul, and the
first agent handled it when they were attacked. Xander and Paul
started out trying for wounding shots but they were getting back up with
them. So yup, they had to do the mean thing. Finally they
were down and the agent went to check, which got him shot in a bad
way. Xander and Paul came out to handle that and take the agent to
a safer location in another town. The agent was calling in his
bosses in the back of the soldier's jeeps. That got more agents
there and they were not happy! His partner led the way in when
they got him there.
Xander woke up in an interrogation room. He looked around then at
the mirror across from him. "Thanks, I needed the nap," he
quipped. He wasn't going to show that he was scared to death at
the moment. "How's my uncle?"
Someone walked in and closed the door again. "Paul's fine," he
said, looking at the young man. "The officer as well."
Xander nodded. "That's good. He's a jackass but he doesn't
deserve that." He looked him over. Agent standard dark
suit. Sunglasses in his pocket. Shiny shoes.
"Comic book agency?" he asked with a slight smirk.
"Slightly. It's been mentioned in a few." He sat down across
from Xander. "I have a statement from your uncle. I have a
statement from the officer."
"So it's my turn?" Xander guessed.
"There's probably not much you can add. How many vampires were in that clan you took out?"
"Eight. Two ran but got hit with a crossbow when they came back. Holy water grenade to get the rest."
The agent nodded, making a note of that. "Where did you find them?"
"I found plans online on how to make a grenade with knockout gas so I improvised."
"Interesting. That storage building you have?"
"That's stuff I've found after patrol took out something. I didn't
want it to fall into other hands. I've recently told our Watcher
"That's handy and we talked to him as well."
"Did he tell you about the mayor? We know he's going to do something."
"He did since we caught him researching." He stared at him. "You're not even curious why you're here?"
"I figure I'm either in trouble for shooting at the psycho posse, who
shouldn't have been doing anything in the US, or for something else."
"Well, there are a few things we have to discuss. Things
like....raiding a National Guard base for a weapon you unleashed in a
mall with civilians around."
"Paul had the security tape."
"We've searched his apartment after someone else did."
Xander considered it. "Mayor or soldiers?"
"We think the Mayor."
"Then he'd probably destroy it." Xander sighed. "There was a
huge lego demon called the Judge. He had been in pieces and
Angelus put him back together. He was going to destroy humanity
and couldn't be killed by any weapon made by man. So we figured
out we could at the very least dismember him again. It blew
him into blobs."
"That's about what we expected to hear. How did you get the codes?"
Xander grinned. "Did Paul have a yell about chaos people?"
"He told us about that costume incident." Xander nodded. "They had codes?"
"Okay." He made a note of that. "Do you know whose uniform it was?"
"Paul's little brother's."
"Even better. Looking him up, he's at least honest and Special
Forces as well." He looked at the kid. "You know that what
you're doing is blatantly illegal?"
"Blatantly illegal or not, we've lowered the death rate of those I go to
school with from somewhere in the twenty percent range to twelve.
We'll have the biggest graduating class in the last fifty years.
I'm really sick and tired of going to funerals of kids I grew up
with. I don't know and don't really care how the government sees
that. They let it happen. No one says a damn *thing* about
our high death rate, the high rate of disappearances, suicides, people
killed by gangs on PCP or wild animals, or even that we have some
that're killed by neck eating barbeque forks. If they won't handle
it, then the prey had probably better do it themselves to keep the herd
of food sources safe."
"That's a good point. Though I'm not sure how we would've known?"
"You hear yearly about the 'most dangerous city' based on federal
statistics." The agent nodded, making a note of that. "I'm
figuring even small towns like Sunnydale has to report *something* at
least to the state when so many kids don't get to finish their
educations due to death."
"They count those as drop-outs," the agent said. Xander rolled his eyes. "Your name appeared on that last year."
"The Troll tries really hard but I've had worse at home," Xander said
dryly, staring at him. "To put it bluntly, fuck 'im and his petty
bullying and power plays."
"That might be a good thing to look into as well." He made another short note.
Xander was reading it then him. "I had to learn to read latin for research stuff but you have very nice handwriting."
The agent cracked a smile. "Thank you and that's what I was trying to see."
"Just ask. I can vent about my friends considering me *normal*."
"Not with the bloodwork we saw." Xander glared. "Precautionary."
"Really?" he asked dryly. "You're not with the sickos, right?"
"No. We're not." He looked at him. "We're where your uncle's brother really works."
"Great." Xander stared at him. "Though I know where he works."
"I figured if you had memories that was one of them. We're trying to figure out what to do."
"Shut. Them. Down."
"The military project?"
Xander leaned his elbows on the table then leaned on his crossed
arms. "There's rumors among the kitten poker circuit that say they
have specimens in for testing. Which isn't humane." That
got a nod and a note made. "They've been gradually stripping a few
of each kind for testing. About five, six each species.
Paul found out they were doing scientific testing of them but they also
ordered things like cages with wide slots for inserting
instruments." The agent stared at him. "The community is
pretty sure that they're being tortured. One got free,
barely. It made it long enough to stumble onto the campus and fall
at a higher demon's door. Apparently the higher demon asked and
what he found out made the whole community, all the way to LA,
paranoid. We've only heard edges of what they've heard. I'm
told they had to burn his corpse because of the shape it was in and
their species tends to eat their dead to keep him within their clan."
"I had not heard that. We know they've filed reports of testing genetically."
"I'm thinking that if he had to be burned, he had injuries that his clan
thought was unholy," Xander said simply. "I doubt they took blood
from his arm veins for it."
"Probably not. We can work on that." He looked at him. "You stepped on some major toes tonight."
Xander nodded. "All I did was tell my Uncle I had found a bomb so
he could get someone to handle it. Then they sent the
sickos. Paul's contacts shouldn't have been involved in that."
"No, and that snafu was a commander. He's indebted to them somehow."
Xander nodded. "I'm really sorry about that for him. I only
defended us. The only *bad* thing I did was throw a dagger at
Officer Doug so he wouldn't shoot me."
"That's pretty bad," he admitted. Xander shrugged. "But
could be counted as self defense since he was arrested for buying
arms. He was there to buy what the vampires had gathered."
"Their boxes didn't have a whole lot. Uncle Paul looked."
"He noted explosive eggs?"
"I used most of them on the sickos," Xander said then shifted and shrugged. "To keep them away from the trap door."
"That's not a bad thing. The purple things in your pocket?"
Xander nodded. "Good to know. How do they go off?"
"Remote control that looks like a garage door opener. The carton has something that blocks it."
"Yet you had some in your pocket?" he asked.
Xander nodded. "I was traveling pretty light when I got us out of
there," he said sarcastically. "They didn't get the remote.
It got blown up. I could've stolen one and had Paul retune it or
"He probably could." He tapped his notes together. "We have to figure out how we're going to play things."
Xander nodded. "Stop the sickos. Stop the mayor?" He
shrugged. "Stop the vampires that like to eat high school and
"We're looking into all of those. Right now, I have a few agents
subtly helping thin out the herd of vampires. Are there other
"Yup, a lot. Giles has books on that if Willow hasn't stolen them."
"Good to know." He stood up. "Rest. It'll be a few hours."
"Can I have a soda?"
"Sure." He went to get it. Xander smiled and opened the can,
taking a drink. The agent went to check with his boss.
"Most of us would've done the same thing," he said when he ran into him
in the observation room. They had full cameras in there instead of
relying on one-way glass.
"How did he get the training?"
"According to Paul, that Halloween." His boss looked at him.
"Possibly some other on-the-job training from the Watcher."
"He said he hadn't."
"Then perhaps the boy found a way to do it on his own, sir."
"Good point." He considered it. "People are complaining."
"They usually do when they're found to be doing something like torturing victims for science."
"I know." He rubbed a hand over his bald head. "Now what?"
"Now...." The agent smiled. "How do you want to play this, sir?"
"Right now, I want to see if he's recruitable."
"His uncle had him take an ASVAB. He scored well enough to get
nearly anywhere outside his math scores. Looking at his school,
they're pitiful. They're not teaching a lot of useful things but
keeping them sedately studying things that don't appear to be too far
off. Just low enough that other schools would probably look at
them a bit oddly. They're using history books that are over ten years
old. Math as well." His boss nodded once at that. "The
PE curriculum is apparently dodge ball and basketball."
The director rolled his eyes. "Languages are minimal. First
year of french and spanish, but nothing further. Computer class
that's a 'this is how you email and type' level. Which the young
man in there almost failed." That got a head shake but a slight
smile. "Yet the school has produced three hackers. Two of which
were recruited heavily by a major computer company. One of which
is his friend Miss Rosenburg. The last one is one of the upper
level of geeks that we need to watch." He handed that minimal
file. "We were watching one."
The director looked them over then sighed. "Anything else to note?"
"Two things. The slayer that ran away from home is in LA but is
working up to coming back. Sources out there say she's considering
it." That got another nod. "And the town's
statistics? How did they get by with that?"
"They pay fines for not reporting." He handed back that file with a
slight smirk of his own. "People are wondering why."
"I agree, if others had seen the statistics they probably would've stepped in."
"Probably. Or studied it and gotten killed by that Mayor." They shared a look. "Plans?"
"Introduce a few subtle agents until graduation. I'm worried about
that from what we've heard." He crossed his arms over his chest,
the folder held between them. "Deal with the stupidness going on
in the military unit there. The boy was also correct that they're
not supposed to be doing that inside the US." He grimaced but let
it clear up. "Figure out a way to shut it down as a long-range
"The slayer's people won't like that."
"I don't care and apparently she doesn't much listen to hers." He
smirked at his boss. "She still has a mother so we know
something's not usual there."
"They missed her you think?" His agent nodded. "We sure?"
"Fairly so." They looked at the cameras but the boy was
gone. The soda can was in there on the table. The director
sighed. "I'll find him."
"With your luck, he's in the ceiling."
"We're midair. He can't get down, sir." He walked off,
talking quietly to security. They had no idea where the kid
was. Even searching out Sunnydale's unique, troubling energy
signature, which the boy did carry, would let them realize it. It
took them a day to realize he had snuck onto a routine supply shipment
and gotten off the helicarrier. The agent smiled when he saw that
film. "I'm going to recruit him." He walked off happier.
Xander showed up two days later, after some hitchhiking, and walked into the library smiling and happy. "Hey, Giles."
"Xander!" He jumped up and stared at him. "Are they done with the questioning?"
"Yeah. We're all good. So, anything new?"
"We have a new PE teacher."
Xander nodded. "Great." He grinned. "Maybe we'll do
something beyond dodge ball then. Anything else happen yet?"
"Buffy's shown back up."
"Wonders never cease." They shared a look. "I'll talk to her later. Did you tell her about the stuff?"
"I haven't. She didn't ask. She showed up at home to talk to her mother. We haven't talked yet."
"Good luck with that. Joyce seemed like the spanking sort," he
said with a grin. The principal huffed in. "Morning."
He looked at him. "Shelving for you today?"
"I believe you should go to class as you've been off for a few days,"
Giles said, taking off his glasses and giving Xander a pointed look.
"I have an excuse." He looked at the principal, the Troll as they
called him. He handed it over with a grin. "Doctor's
note." He walked off. "Let me get things for history."
"This doesn't excuse you," the principal sneered, ripping it up.
Xander grinned. "Oh well. That's your shit since I already
filed it with the school board." He smiled. "They were most
happy I'm not contagious after all." He bounced out the door and
to his locker so he wouldn't be tardy to home room.
Giles hid his smile at Xander's antics to piss off the principal when
the Troll turned to glare at him. "It really was bad."
The principal glared. "I don't like you."
"Yes, well, we're all cursed with those around us who are not our
preferred sort," Giles said genteelly. "I would much prefer to
have a good tea shop in town but there's not." The principal
huffed off. Giles settled in to make more notes. They
really had to do something soon about the problems around there.
Xander watched the new gym teacher. His excuse meant he didn't
have to do anything today. The guy was clearly trained. He
had a lot of muscles in places that lifting weights didn't usually get
you. He was light on his feet and nearly silent when he
walked. One shoe squeaked but otherwise he was silent. He
was also wearing a military haircut. He wasn't sure which side the
guy was on. Though he'd bet not the team's or the student's with
how he was yelling at them.
He got one kid onto the bench and helped by handing him his
inhalers. "He has asthma," Xander said, staring at him.
"Leave him alone. He can't run." He sat down again, looking
at the other kid, who was smiling faintly at him. "Need the
nurse?" He shook his head frantically. "I heard, dude.
Just calm down." He got the kid calmed back down and relaxed.
The PE teacher walked over. "Why doesn't he want the nurse?"
"Because there's plenty of rumors of her taking kids home by force and
them not reappearing," Xander said bluntly. "Three of which
disappeared from the school day and we're pretty sure since some of us
spotted her with one. Thankfully the Sunnydale PD never
investigates anything," he finished sarcastically. "None of us go
to the school nurse unless it's life threatening."
"I did not hear those."
Xander nodded. "Watch out for the chemistry teacher too. The
new one is a bit....mean. Unless he's been replaced he's a bully
and likes to throw things at the kids. Like books."
"Also good to know. Why are you sitting out again?"
Xander grinned. "Medical excuse. Which branch were you
in?" The guy stared at him oddly. "My Uncle was Spec Ops in
"I was in the Army as well. A Ranger."
Xander grinned. "I'll have to tell Uncle Paul in case he knows
you." The guy nodded and walked off but he didn't look happy at
that name. So he was probably with the military unit instead of
the agent's people. He looked at the kid, who stared back.
Xander grinned. "Have you ever met my Uncle Paul?"
"I think I've seen you two out at the Burger Barn," he said quietly.
"Yeah, it's close to his house. He's there about every Wednesday
for lunch." The kid nodded. He understood that hint.
Tomorrow was Wednesday. If something happened to Xander, the kid
could go tell his uncle. Hopefully. The principal huffed
in. The kid took another hit on his inhalers, getting sneered
at. Xander watched him. The principal sneered at him
too. If Xander had magic, the guy would be at least embarrassed
but he didn't and that was a bad thought to start to have. Of
course, Willow was in the class and she did so the troll tripped over
his suddenly untied shoelaces. The teacher snorted at that.
"Harris! Why aren't you dressed?" the principal demanded.
"Medical excuse for another two days," he quipped with a grin and a wave. "The school board accepted it earlier."
"That's who told me," the teacher agreed. He looked at him. "You look fit."
Xander grinned. "Sometimes. Depends on what measurement and what we're doing."
The principal sneered. "You have detention for a week for not being dressed and ready for class." He huffed off.
Xander smirked and waved at his back. "Sure, I'll tell my father
you wanted to talk to him again too." That got a shudder.
Xander relaxed. He had detention most weeks. This wasn't
anything new. The teacher was staring at him. He
shrugged. "I got it last month for having a mis-buttoned shirt
after PE. He *loves* to see me in there and I get a nap."
"Whatever," the teacher said sarcastically. "Let's get back to our physical testing."
Xander watched. The guy was seeing who was too slow for him.
Good to know. Xander could pretend to be a bit slower than he was
so he wouldn't get picked for anything *special*. Though he did
hope the guy didn't hear he had been on the swim team for a few days.
Xander walked into the library that night to find Buffy crying. He
gave her a hug, making her calm down. "You're okay. You're
back home. Your mom's not going to beat you to death." She
slumped, staring at Giles. Xander let her go. "By the way,
the PE teacher is looking for victims."
"I'll keep that in mind if I get to come back," she sniffled, taking a
tissue to blow her nose. "Why did we get a new one?"
"Huge shit went on," Xander said simply. She stared at him. "I found a bomb I had to turn in."
She slumped, shaking her head. "Why?"
"Because I didn't know how to disarm it, just reset it. Which got
us attacked." He grinned. "By that rumor up under the
college," he mouthed. She stared. He nodded. "PE
teacher." He looked around, finding the new listening
devices. He held one up when Giles gave him a curious look.
Giles moaned. Xander handed them to Oz and Willow when they walked
in and went looking for more. He found a different style one on
Giles' desk, under his top drawer on the left. He found one in the
book case in that style and one under the work table in a third
style. They got handed over too.
Willow looked at them. "I have no idea, Xander."
"Me either." He lounged in his chair. "Outside of breaking
the book cage's lock, anything going on this week, Giles?"
"Not a lot. We still have to research those few topics." He
was staring at them. "One of those is from the Council," he said
quickly, plucking those two up.
Xander looked at them. "Radio shack job," Oz said with a point at the mass of them. "That one's better."
Xander nodded. "Okay, so we need to handle that lock
fixing." He got up to grab the cheaper ones and put them into
Giles' blender to spin them. It made a huge racket but they were
dead. He poured them into the trash and grinned after rinsing out
the blender cup. He took the other one with a smirk for Oz.
"We can plant it," he said quietly.
"Why?" Willow asked. Xander got some paper and outlined what had
happened after he had told his uncle about that bomb. "Why would
they care?" she demanded. He added in a few lines and showed
her. She slumped, staring at him. "So the new...."
Xander pointed at a word. "You sure?" He nodded.
"Yeah, almost totally."
"Poop," she muttered, squeezing Oz's hand. "Then what?"
Xander pointed at the bug with a grin. Then he looked at
Buffy. "We have no idea but they agreed something needed to
happen. They're not going to bother us."
"How can you be sure?" she demanded quietly.
"Because I made it to class today after escaping." He
smiled. They all stared. He grinned. "It was giving me
a headache." He put the bug into his pocket. "So, Giles?"
"We have that one main topic to research. The others are later
worries at the moment unless they try something very stupid."
"I warned the new guy about the school nurse when he demanded to know why Peter wasn't going."
Willow shuddered. "I was hoping they'd arrest her after the last one." Xander snorted. "I know but still!"
"Willow, if they were going to arrest people for things, your parents
would've went for not being home for *months* on end," Xander said,
staring at her. "Because that's child neglect." She slumped.
"Even if you're a genius. They'd get mine for being drunk and
"The only way they'd do something is if someone higher up stepped in and
kicked butt, and they'd probably be removed," Buffy agreed. She
was tired. "Patrol?"
"There were no obits today," Xander said with a smile. She grinned back. "Or yesterday."
"Then I should go back to Mom's." She got up.
"Walk you home?" Xander offered. "It's on my way anyway."
She nodded so he and the other two teens walked her back to her mother's
house. Joyce opened the door when they got near the porch.
"Safe and sound, Joyce."
"Xander, did you know about this?"
"Yup. Because no one little girl should have to do that shit by
herself," he said. Joyce slapped him. He stared at
her. "Did you want me to let her do it on her own?"
Joyce shook her head, giving him a hug. "I'm sorry. I'm still working my way through all this mess."
Xander grinned. "We know." She huffed but took her daughter
inside. He went to his house. His father sneered at
him. "It's from a mother because her daughter needed walked home
for safety reasons." He went up to his room. His room had
been ransacked. Half of his clothes were gone. All the good
stuff was gone. His money stash was still well hidden
though. He went down to check the washer, just in case, but they
weren't there. He looked at his father. "Snyder said if I
come to school in more holey clothes he's going to make me home
school. Which means you'd have to do the lessons with me by
law." He went back up to his room. Apparently some of his
clothes had been hiding in his parents' room. His mother threw
them at him from the door. "Thanks for doing the laundry,
Mom." He put them up and settled in to go over the history
He walked in the next day. The principal was waiting and already
sneering. "What?" Xander asked, staring at him. "It's not
full of holes."
"You're clearly not wearing underwear," he sneered.
"My mother took them all. I have no idea where they are and
neither did she when I asked." He shrugged. "Can't make them
magically appear." He walked around him. "She'll be fixing
He glared at him. "You probably lost them making money for their booze habit, Harris."
Xander turned to look at him. "Do you honestly think if I was
making that sort of money, I'd let them have it?" He
grinned. "I'd be in my own apartment, with my own things, and I'd
never see them again, Snyder. For that matter, if I was making
money on my back, I'd be making better money since a few years ago
someone offered me a grand for another bit of oral sex. She was
really happy even when I didn't take the money." He smirked and
strolled off. "Some of us have ethics and not enough need to stoop
"I bet," he sneered. "You're suspended, Harris!"
Xander grinned. "Great! I have shit I gotta do today
anyway!" He smiled. "Thanks!" He walked off before the
principal could change his mind. It didn't hurt his feelings at
all to not have to sit in boring classes today. He could even
plant that bug somewhere nice while he goofed off all day with his
uncle. Once it was planted he went to Paul's house and knocked,
getting let in. "Snyder suspended me because Mom sold all my
underwear." He smiled. "Burger?"
"Bit early, kid." He let him in. "Make breakfast for
us. I doubt you got any at home." He went to shower and
finish waking up. Xander was a bit perky this morning. He
came down pulling on a clean t-shirt. "Why did your mother steal
all your drawers?"
"To sell. She got about half of my clothes." He handed him a
plate with bacon and eggs, then caught the toast when it popped up to
hand them to him. Then he got his own and sat down. "Snyder
accused me of being a boy pro so I kindly told him if I was, I'd be
living on my own and wearing better clothes. So he suspended
me." He smiled and ate a bite of bacon.
"Wonderful." He dug in to eat. They finished up and he took
Xander out to work on his hand-to-hand skills. The boy could
always use some more training and Paul could use some workout
time. During it he looked at his nephew. "Quit goofing off,"
he said quietly.
"One of your neighbors has a video camera." He turned a strike to
the side and kicked his uncle on the thigh as he moved around him.
Paul glanced and sighed. "I liked her. I hope she's not part
of that mess." Xander shrugged and they got back to it. The
kid would be safer if they thought he was weaker. Which sucked
for the kid but sometimes you had to save your own ass so you could save
Xander showed up the next day in one of his uncle's t-shirts. The
principal glared at him. "Uncle Paul said it's too small for
him." He smiled. "And he bought me new boxers." He
walked around him. There was nothing the principal could say about
his outfit. The t-shirt was even tucked in. His shoes were
tied and he had socks on. He was clean. So Snyder would have
to make up a reason to get him in trouble.
"You're disgusting," Cordelia sneered as she walked past him.
"Not like I took the money. If I had I would've already moved." She glared at him. He smiled.
She looked over his current outfit. "Who bought you that?"
"Uncle Paul. He said they were too small for him." He
grinned. "I hung out with him yesterday for sparring practice and
stuff." He got what he needed from his locker and was in his seat
before the first bell rang. Which was good since Snyder was in
there talking to the teacher.
"Harris, this 'uncle' of yours," Snyder said with an evil smirk. "Who is he?"
"He served with my grandfather's younger brother in the Army.
Grandad asked him to watch over the family if something happened to him
so he became an honorary uncle."
"You're not supposed to be anywhere but school or at your residence if you're suspended."
Xander smiled. "Couldn't go there. The landlord was spraying
it and that's not on the books, Principal Snyder. I made sure
before I went there."
"Spraying? Your parents have roaches again?" he sneered.
"No, he was spraying outside because the neighbor's trees had aphids or
something and he's deathly afraid of his houses getting termites.
So all his rentals got sprayed for it yesterday. He does it about
every six months."
Snyder stared. "Your parents rent?"
Xander shrugged. "Do you honestly think anyone would've given my parents a loan?"
"No," he sneered.
Xander smiled. "Good thing I earn my own money after school,
huh?" Snyder sneered. "By the way, the cone shop said that
your order's not going to be in on time. They can't get that jelly
stuff you wanted included to set properly with the ice cream.
Though they weren't sure why you wanted bitter almond flavoring in your
vanilla ice cream." The principal stomped off so Xander smiled and
waved at his back. "Have a better day."
"Quit baiting him before he takes it out on the teachers, Harris," she
complained. He grinned at her. "Bitter almonds?"
She stared at him. "You're sure?"
"Yeah, I had to deliver it to the cone shop when they needed a second batch."
She groaned. "Thanks for the warning." He smiled. The
other students ran in when the first bell rang. She took
attendance and passed out the few sealed envelopes that were notice of
punishments for no reason. Xander didn't have one. Which was
a nice change.
Xander came out that night to find an officer in the parking lot.
He stared at him since the cop was staring at him oddly. "Get them
on DUI again?"
"Your father beat the principal for threatening to make you stay home all day and learn from them."
Xander smiled. "Cool! When will he get out?"
"Bail hearing's tomorrow." He stared at him. "Probably won't be much."
Xander shrugged. "Tomorrow's his payday." He grinned.
The officer smirked back. Xander strolled off, going home to grab
his stash of money from the hiding spot just in case. His mother
was ripping his room apart. He cleared his throat, making her turn
to glare at him. "You sent him to beat the principal?"
"Boy, I know you have money stashed!" she shouted. "You should get him free for lying about that!"
"It wasn't a lie and no I don't." She tried to seem menacing but
he was nearly six inches taller than she was. He stared at
her. "I'm not paying for him to get out. He gets paid
tomorrow. Which means you won't have to go get him out after
another DUI with Rory." He stood up from his lounging spot and
grinned. "What's for dinner?" She took a swing at him but he
ducked. "Fine, I'll get my own." She tried to hit him again
but he blocked it with his bookbag while seeming to just move to the
side. She started to cry that she had broken her hand. He
called the cops himself. "Hey, it's Xander Harris. My mother
just took a swing at me and hit my bookbag. I think she broke her
hand. Thanks." He hung up. "They'll be here in a few
minutes, Mom." She huffed off to cry on the officers that he had
hurt her. Xander came down the stairs shaking his head. "I
moved to duck to the side when she took a swing at me and she got my
bookbag." He let them see the dent in his textbook.
The officer looked at him. "You didn't hit her back?" By the
look of contempt on his face aimed at Xander's mother, he wasn't going
to be helping her much at all today.
"No, if I had she would've went down the stairs." He stared at
him. "She was right at the top of them. All I asked was what
dinner was going to be." He shrugged. "I thought she might
want to cook tonight for a change since she was going through my
"He has money stashed he won't give me," she said firmly, glaring at Xander and pointing at him.
Xander stared at him then at the officer. "If I did hypothetically
have money stashed it would be from my after school jobs and I'm not
forced to hand that over to her for my father's new bail."
"No, you're not. Though we have a bank in town," one of the officers snorted.
"Yeah. One that hackers have gotten into twice in the last two months. Why do I want it stolen?"
"Good point," the second officer sighed. "Mine was." He
looked at the mother. "He doesn't have to turn it over to you."
"He does if he lives in this house," she sneered.
Xander smiled. "Good to know. I'll find a new place this
week, Mom. That means you can't go through my shit again or sell
my clothes so I get suspended because you sold all my underwear."
He went up to pack, including the stash of money and his weapons,
heading out. "Thanks, guys. Let me hit the motel."
"You're not old enough," one said.
Xander smiled. "Actually, we're not sure when my birthday is since
she didn't have me at the hospital and there's no birth certificate on
record for me." They groaned, they had forgotten about that.
"She tried to file my father's for my birth. Then again, she had
me and didn't realize for a few hours until I banged into her leg.
The paramedic that came to save her from the alien thing that was
trying to attack her told me about it a few years ago."
"I remember that call," the first officer said with a grin. "You were born in June so you're only seventeen."
Xander shrugged. "Not like the Motor Lodge is going to mind," he
quipped. He smiled. "Let me go before she blows since she
looks like she's going to rant and scream." He jogged off, heading
for the library first. "I'm free of the 'rents!" he said happily
as he walked in. "Mom's about to assault a cop for not taking my
roadtrip fund from me and that means no one to gather the checks
tomorrow or pay bail." He settled at the table, smiling at Buffy
and Willow since they were glaring at him. "So it's a happy day."
"Not really," Buffy complained. "Mom wants to see me train."
Xander nodded. "You did get out of shape when you were gone.
She's probably worried that you'll get hurt because of it."
"I guess." She slid down so she was slouched.
Willow grimaced. "Someone told my mother she was going to be charged with child neglect so she's home again."
Xander nodded. "Doesn't shock me any. Give it four
days." Willow grinned and nodded that was usually true. "So
later on I'm going to the Motor Lodge. One of the cops even
remembered when I was born so I know which month it was."
Willow grinned. "That's great! When?"
"Don't you have to file stuff on kids?" Buffy asked, looking
confused. Willow told her the story about Xander's mother trying
to file his father's birth certificate as a new one since no one had
given her one for her son. Who wasn't born at home or in the
hospital. Apparently the city didn't care to give her a new one
but she had never figured out how.
Buffy shook her head quickly. "That's so messed up." The
other two teens nodded with smiles. "Mom's going to love that
story and maybe she'll quit nagging me and asking questions soon."
The teens shook their heads. "Well, maybe for a night then.
I could use a night off."
Xander shrugged. "Only two obits today and neither one listed biting."
Buffy got the paper to look at them. "Car accident!
Yes! Happy night at the Bronze?" They nodded and walked
off. Xander dropped his stuff off at the motel since it was on the
way. The girls waited but that was fine. Then they went to
the only all-ages club in town. Very few vamps in there for Buffy
to slay so she was happy on the dancefloor. Willow got her usual
drink and a table. Xander went to dance in his usual uncoordinated
way. It was a good night off.
A few days later, Xander walked into the school with his patrol backpack
on. "Harris!" the principal shouted, making him turn
around. "Did you actually bring *weapons* into this school?"
"Only an unloaded crossbow. Uncle Paul's taking me to the range
later and I don't have time to run back to the motel." He pulled
it out to show him. "See, no string, no arrows loaded." He
put it back. "Not like I can do more than whack people on the head
with it and I can do that better with one of our ancient
textbooks." He smiled. "And we don't have a weapons policy."
"Are you sure?" he sneered.
Xander pulled out his copy of the school's rule book to look.
"Doesn't say so," he said, showing him the index. He smiled.
"It's going in my locker." He walked off to stuff it in there and
put on an extra lock. That way they couldn't break it without a
bit of trouble. Then he went to class. The principal was
getting some lock cutters but they weren't going to work. All it did was
break the bolt cutters. Xander was giving him amused looks from
home room while he tried.
The teacher watched the principal then looked at the student. "Do you really want to be expelled?"
"Sure. Then I can sue the school." He grinned. "Half
the stuff he gives detentions and suspensions for aren't in the rule
book. I might not win until the appeal in the federal court system
but hey, I can wait that long."
She gaped, staring at him. "That's nearly evil."
"Did you know all those kids who've died got noted as dropouts to the state?"
"No, I did not. That makes no sense. It wouldn't matter to
the statistics." She pulled out her phone to call a friend in
another school district to check on that. That was very wrong on a
lot of levels.
Snyder finally gave up and stomped in. "Weapons, even unstringed
ones, aren't allowed in school, Harris. It gives me great pleasure
to expel you."
Xander smiled. "Sure, I'd enjoy that and the lawsuit against the
school because it's not in the rules. Which means you're making
non-legal decisions." Snyder went pale and backed up. "I'll
have a shitload of fun filing it in *federal* court later today."
He stood up. "But hey, day off. Already passed my GED
anyway." He smiled. "You have a *great* day, Principal
Snyder." He walked around him and got his locker open then took
his stuff with him. He walked off cackling.
"I'll get you!" Snyder called after him.
"Awww, was that a threat of bodily harm?" Xander asked, turning to look
at him. "That's so sweet of you. Usually people who threaten
me that way want to date me but I do have to turn you down. I'm
not gay or into guys of your...stature." He walked off happier
with that put down. A few listening students had gasped and a few
clapped but he was a happy boy.
"You'll never be allowed back here!" Snyder shouted.
"Don't want to be back here," Xander said with an air wave.
"Especially since my uncle noticed our books are about fifty years old."
"I'm going to have that uncle killed," Snyder vowed, stomping back to
his office. There were students staring at him. "You're all
in detention." A few of the students dared to laugh at him for
that so he glared at them. They were picking up bravery from some
source and that wasn't allowed in Sunnydale. He'd have to make
sure that trend stopped. Especially the head of it, Uncle Paul.
Xander went to Paul's house, finding it cleaned out. He found a
note, which had nothing on it beyond 'moved'. He held it up to the
light then cut his finger to let blood cover it. That showed more
information in a light coat of vaseline on it. That gave him some
good news. Those agents had taken him in to protect him. He
set the note on fire then headed off to go play in the sunshine.
He didn't see enough sunshine some days. He was getting a cheap
burger when jeeps pulled up around the shop. Not the agents.
He smiled at the cashier, taking his bag and heading out through the
back entrance. Another jeep but this one only had one guy in
it. "Hey," Xander said with a grin.
"Let's go see your uncle, kid."
"Sure." Xander got in and they headed off with Xander eating. "Thanks for the lack of patrol going on."
"Welcome." He pulled into a nice apartment complex and got
out, taking the kid upstairs. "We cleared out your room too."
"That's fine." He walked in and hugged his uncle. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, why do you look so happy?"
"The troll gave me an excuse to sue the school." His uncle gave
him an odd look. He grinned. "Maybe it'll be fixed in case I
ever have kids."
"You hope," Paul said dryly.
"Well, Snyder won't be there." He settled on the couch next to them.
The agent that had questioned him looked up from his laptop. "Our
listening device going to the military unit was very helpful, thank you,
"Welcome." He grinned. "I'm hoping he gets eaten by
something mean with the way he's picking on the weaker students and the
"He didn't make it in today because he got a broken arm fighting one,"
the agent that had picked him up said. "Want some water?"
"Soda?" Xander asked.
"Sorry, none in the house." He got him some water. "You need a better diet."
"Dude, my mother doesn't cook," he said dryly. "I live on take
out, sandwiches, and school lunch." He sipped his water, looking
at his uncle. "And the times I come to bum dinner or breakfast
"That does happen regularly," he agreed, sipping his own water. "Those soldier boys are mad as hell, Xander."
"I saw. They tried to get me at Burger Barn." He
shifted. "Thanks for the saving." He looked at his uncle
again. "They being nibbled on?"
"They've had a few chunks taken out," the other agent said with a grin. "Going to go back if it's offered?"
Xander shook his head. "For the battle that graduation is looking to be. Otherwise, I passed my GED last year."
"Good!" Paul said firmly. "I can get you put into my old unit."
Xander shook his head. "No way in hell, Uncle Paul. I don't
like to follow orders when I don't know a good reason for them.
Beyond that, all the soldiers I've seen are wearing Ranger tags in their
BDU's." Paul gaped. Xander nodded. "Three were at the
mall last night, including the PE teacher. We spotted them while
we were tracking something."
"Fuck!" Paul complained.
The senior agent cleared his throat. "I'm a retired Marine,
Xander. I can introduce you to a nice commander to recruit you."
Xander stared at him. "Patrol."
"That's a good point. We'll see." He went back to his typing. "The state has a weapons policy."
"It's set up so each school district has to set their own on what's
allowed and if it defaults back to theirs it's only guns and knives, not
crossbows. Especially unstrung ones, which makes it a plank of
wood with a trigger and a guard."
"Good point." He added that and sent the report in. Then he
closed his laptop to look at them. "They want you out of harm's
Xander nodded. "I'm still needed on patrol."
"How long can you stay at the motel?" Paul asked.
"Six more weeks but I can get another crappy part-time job." That
got a nod for that plan. Xander shifted to get comfortable.
"Now.... We handle things as they come," the senior agent told
him. "Would you like to be recruited to possibly be an agent?"
"I could get you assigned here after some minimal advanced training. Maybe six, eight months worth."
Xander stared at him. "They'd still think I was too normal. You don't know the girls the way I do."
"If you do, contact us," the senior agent said.
"Sure." Outside, a car got blown up. Xander was the first at
the window, having ducked under the arm of the other agent.
"Uncle Paul, that second group is back."
"Great," he sneered. "I might have to go into hiding."
Xander glanced at him. "Send me postcards or something so I know you're okay."
"I can do that." He patted him on the shoulder then hugged
him. "I'll try to be here for whatever graduation turns
into. Try to graduate, huh?"
"We'll see how it plays." He smiled.
"Sure." He and the senior agent snuck off together.
Xander looked at the junior agent and shrugged. "We have a drop box code."
"That's fine." He looked out there. "We need to lay down some suppression."
Xander pulled out his phone and called someone. "I'm by Morty's and
those military assholes are trying to capture my uncle Paul.
That'll help a lot. Thanks." He hung up. Soon enough, a
whole daycare full of baby demons rushed the military guys, climbing
over them, shooting snot on them, laughing at them and their puny guns,
and pulling on their uniforms to see what the mythical humans looked
like underneath. They were clearly children. The military
guys were trying to get free. One tried to hit a kid and got
bitten by poisonous fangs. Another tried to escalate it by
stealing his gun back to use it. That one got bitten by a
different set of poisonous fangs. They finally had to flee to get
their teammates treated. The kids cheered and ran back into their
"You used kids?" the agent asked quietly.
Xander looked at him. "First, they're orphans and to the local
community they're pretty much cannon fodder, even though I hate
that. Second, they weren't going to get hurt because the first one
that took a serious swing at one of them or something and I would've
let the kids learn what brain splatter looks like." The agent
relaxed. "Third, all but two of those kids are poisonous to
humans. Their snot, their drool, their bites...." He
smiled. "They might crash on the way back to their base."
"That's a good way to pick them up." He texted that to someone and
got back they had been following them. One of the kids had snuck
into the jeep and was gleefully poisoning everyone on their base by
spraying goo on everyone from a nasal orifice. The agent
looked. "Snot shooters?"
"Paralyzing snot," Xander said cheerfully. "I always wanted a
paintball gun full of pellets of it." He grinned. The agent
smiled but shook his head. "How shall we spend the rest of our
"We shall test your hand-to-hand, kid. Your uncle asked since you
held back last time." Xander nodded, taking off his overshirt and
throwing a stake at him before moving in to pounce. "Not bad," the
agent quipped and wiped the floor with him. But the kid was
learning a lot from him. That was so great and maybe some day he'd
be a real agent instead of taking out the bad guys here in this one
Xander walked up to Willow and Buffy that night. "What attacked
you?" Buffy demanded, pulling him over to look at his black eye.
"I sparred against the agents with Uncle Paul," he quipped, grinning at
her. "I held almost a half-hour but I tripped over something I had
thrown at him and got clocked." He put his hands in his pockets
and grinned at Willow. "Uncle Paul had to take a leave of absence
since he was nearly attacked," he said more quietly, glancing around.
"Is he okay?"
"Yeah. He'll be fine. He'll see us for grad." He grinned.
"Cool! He can watch us walk." They walked off together. "Why were you sparring?"
"Uncle Paul's been teaching me and wanted an honest evaluation of
it. I did okay enough. I was sparring against an agent so
they're all better trained." Buffy was giving him a funny
look. "Uncle Paul used to be a Delta guy, Buffy. That's
Ranger plus extra intense training." She shuddered. "Uncle
Paul can kick ass in a few different languages."
"Why did he retire?"
"He got stuck with an assignment to bring in some hooker that an evil
overlord sort was seeing to interrogate her and well...they nearly ended
up married there for a bit to establish their cover but she gave him
hepatitis so they medically discharged him when it turned out to be
pretty nasty. He spent six months getting treatments from
her." Buffy shuddered, ending up hugging herself. "But they
did get the evil overlord sort and his girlfriend into the US custody
without a lot of fuss. He had something like twelve years in."
"Wow." She looked at him. "Really?" He grinned. "Xander?"
He pointed behind them. "We're being followed, you know that, right?" She looked and turned to get the vampires.
"Twelve? I thought it was ten," Willow said quietly.
Xander looked at her and shook his head. "No comment. Or about Uncle Phil."
"Huh." She shrugged. "I guess it'll do. Who is he with?"
"Agents that work with Uncle Phil."
"Huh." She helped by floating a stake at one of the vampires
sneaking up on them while Xander got them with a crossbow. "We
haven't had this much activity in weeks."
"The agents have been helping."
Buffy groaned, shaking her head as she rejoined them. "Did he actually have to retire from that?"
"The first time. He got recalled to duty a few years later and did some more stuff." They walked on.
"Wow, I need to find a young guy like that. Strong, able to handle the patrol stuff, and kind of exciting."
"Uncle Paul's nearly fifty," Willow said. "And he hates blondes." Xander nodded to back her up.
"Why?" she asked. "Blondes have more fun," Buffy quipped.
"Yeah and have more STD's thanks to all that fun according to Uncle
Paul," Willow said dryly. "Right after them are redheads."
Buffy grimaced. "Eww, that's skanky hos, not blondes."
"Who are usually dyed blondes or redheads," Xander said dryly. "You don't see as many skanky brunettes."
"Maybe but that's not the type of blonde I am," Buffy said. She looked at him. "You got expelled?"
"In a way that means I can sue," Xander said happily.
She gave him an odd look. "How are you going to graduate?"
"Did the GED last year?" he suggested dryly. "And passed."
Buffy glared at him. He grinned. "Uncle Paul made me when he
made me do the ACT, the SAT, and the ASVAB."
"What's that one?" Willow asked. "I've never heard of that college admittance test."
"That's the military admittance test," Xander told her. "It tells
you what you'll be good at. I got high enough scores that I can
join anyone if I want to. I got high enough ACT and SAT scores
that if I really wanted to pollute myself with college and pay for it, I
could go. Which I'm not. So don't even start,
Willow." She closed her mouth.
"You could do more than just work menial after school jobs," Willow complained. "That's what college is for, Xander."
"Yeah, that and a lot of stuff that doesn't matter to me. No
thanks, I'd rather have something menial and not brain
destroying." He grimaced in her direction. "Since I know you
have a lot of acceptances, which country are you going to go to?"
"Country?" Buffy shrieked, glaring at Willow. "You're switching to a college out of the country?"
"I got accepted at one when my mother sent in the application for
me. It doesn't mean I *have* to go," Willow defended, glaring at
Who shrugged back. "Simple question since we're on the topic of
colleges. Your mom was bragging in the store that you had twelve
acceptance letters already and only two turn downs out of the
twenty-five you sent in."
"Twenty-five?" Buffy asked her.
"Mostly my mother's doing, Buffy. Calm down. I applied here
locally and got in too if you want to go locally. We can go
together." She glared at Xander. "I should apply for you."
"Sure, if you want to waste the hundred-fifty buck application fee," he
said dryly. "Then get turned down because of my disciplinary
"You can get that expunged," Willow said.
"No, the school board likes Snyder. They won't." He grinned. "Is that why you got the two turn downs?"
"My mother thinks so." She grimaced. "I don't. I mean,
how stupid! They say it follows you but from middle school?"
"You got in trouble in middle school?" Buffy asked her.
"She got two whole detentions her whole school career," Xander said with
a grin for Willow. "Once because her mother came in to complain
about the first incident and the first incident when there was a car
crash and she was late to class because she was giving first aid.
The teacher reminded her she was a child and not to do that."
"I should fix that and yours," Willow complained, glaring at him for sharing that secret.
"You can't do that. It's illegal and *cheating*," Xander said with a smirk.
"Good point," she huffed. "Stupid laws."
"Was the teacher like the Troll?" Buffy asked her.
"No, she was on a kick to get Willow to be a young girl instead of
Willow," Xander said. "She used to praise Cordy for liking fashion
and being a girly girl."
"Oh, that sort. I had one but Mom got her removed because she was
flirting with my dad. Guess he might not have liked that but oh
well." She smiled at Willow. "I have no idea if I want to do
college or not. It's really a lot more work and I have this stuff
to do." She waved a hand around.
"We'll see this summer," Willow said, sounding happy.
They finished patrol and Xander went back to the motel alone. The
girls were going to the Java Joint for a cup of coffee before
bedtimes. Xander was careful about his surroundings, which was why
he was aware when a few soldiers tried to sneak up on him.
"Great, and me with only a crossbow," he muttered, shooting at
them. "Don't even think about it."
"You're wanted for testing, boy," one sneered.
Xander kicked him in the nuts. "Like fucking hell, dude. Oh,
I'm sorry, is that GI Joe Dude?" He heard more feet running and
had no hope it was help. With his luck it was vampires and they'd
decide to feed him to them. He fired his last shot and took out
the third soldier with it then it was down to hands, feet, and a few
times teeth. The soldiers all were very unhappy he was fighting
back. The running two joined the first four. He got the
fourth guy down, leaving him two, and it was nasty. They were
better trained than the first two. "Great, just great," he
muttered. One of them got in a lucky blow to his kidney, making
him wobble, then there was pain from a boot to the head.
He didn't get to see the agent from earlier saving his ass and taking
out the one that was trying to get blood from him. Or hear
Cordelia let out a shriek and try to rush toward him but they stopped
her by taser. Which the agent kindly repaid for her.
Paul walked up to his captor/savior's boss, looking at him. "I want my brother to go mentor my nephew."
"He's in the Middle East," he admitted. "I can't pull him from that."
"Bullshit. You don't know what I know about the boy." He
handed over something. "Your junior agent said that they
found that out earlier."
The director read them over, going a bit pale under his dark skin. "This sucks."
"Yeah, which is why I've been helping the boy get better."
He looked at him. "You think they'll go after him?" He
handed over the mission profile of that unit, letting him read it
over. "How did you get this?"
"My ex, the slut. She's sleeping with General Mayhugh."
"Oh, her." He nodded, picking up the phone to call someone.
"Are you nearly done?" He listened to the honest answer.
"Because your nephew needs you desperately." He hung up. A
second later, Paul's phone rang. Paul answered it and walked off
talking to his brother, who he hadn't seen in six years. The
director called in that senior agent to look over that information
file. "No wonder he could get free of the helicarrier."
"He's good and I've offered recruitment with later posting out there."
"I only hope he lives that long. I just got a call saying he was pounced."
Xander woke up in a white room. A bright, bland white room.
He blinked at the ceiling lights for a second then looked around.
"Alien abduction and I woke up before they probed me?" he guessed.
A quiet snort from his left made him look that way. Then down toward the foot of the bed. "Not likely."
"Xander. What have you gotten yourself mixed up in?"
"Depends, which level of BS do you want to hear about?" he asked
dryly. He made himself sit up, noticing he wasn't hitched down, he
was in a hospital gown, he had a bandage on one hand and felt like one
around his stomach. He looked down the gown then at him.
"Did I lose something else?"
"No, we had to stitch the wound they caused." He stared at
him. "What, exactly, were you doing last night?" He knew if
he wasn't specific and Xander didn't want to share, he'd babble like
Willow until he was confused.
"I was on my way home."
"That's not how you get home."
"It is since I moved to the motor lodge."
"Okay, start there. Why did you move to the Sunnydale Motor Lodge?"
"Because Mom got to the point of intolerable. Wanted me to bail my
father out for assaulting someone. Claimed all my money was hers
even though she had sold half my clothes on me again."
Uncle Phil stared at him. "Still drinking?" Xander
nodded. "Okay, that's a good explanation." He opened the
folder in his lap. "Why were soldiers attacking you?"
"Because they'd had the misfortune to run into me a few times in the
past when I had to protect myself? Or were they looking for fish
taint?" he asked, checking the bandage on his hand. It had some
blood and his hand was stiff like it had been stitched. He looked
at his staring uncle again. "Uncle Paul was there."
"I talked to him briefly. He's somewhere around here."
Xander looked around then at him. "We're on the same flying thing that I snuck off the last time?"
Uncle Phil smiled. "No, we're on a land base this time." He
closed the folder and stood up, looking at his nephew. "I got
recalled from a mission about this."
"If I was telepathic I'd tell you. I can only imagine that there's
listening devices in here. Especially since the soldiers couldn't
have found out anything about me without having hacked your boss's
"There's a few trails in Sunnydale."
Xander shook his head. "Not that would relate to my blood, patrol, or anything close to all that mess."
What do you know about a group in England called the International Council of Watchers?"
"Not a thing. What sort of secret society are they?"
"They have a young, mystically enhanced female warrior," Xander said
quietly. "That's meant to fight the things that keep Sunnydale
Phil blinked a few times then texted someone. "Let me look them
up." He looked at his nephew when he was done. "So I take it
you're helping their warrior?"
"And they hate it. I've been told there's a small price on my head
to make me stop helping her. Which, admittedly, some days she
might like too but yay."
Phil stared at him. "I saw mentions of Willow."
"She who has magic and therefore is a special girl too? Yeah."
"I didn't see any mention of Jesse and you two were inseparable the last time I knew."
"That's because the vamps got him when we were fifteen." He stared
at his uncle. "Remember that story you told me when you were lit
that time with Uncle Paul? About one of the guys in your unit
turning on you?" Phil sucked in a breath but nodded. "He got
turned. I saved Cordelia but Jesse got turned," he said, looking
at his hands then up. "That was my first apocalypse battle."
Phil blinked a few times then licked his lips. "Excuse me?"
This was getting frustrating but it was also going in interesting
places. He knew his nephew could talk around a problem, Jesse had
taught him how when they were younger.
Xander smirked. "Yeah, it's like that sometimes." He stared
at him. "I missed your letter this year. Mom burned it."
"It didn't have anything important in it, just a tiny bit of news.
I didn't have time to write too much. I was in Japan on
assignment." Xander smiled. He stared at him. "Who
would have a dossier on you?"
"Outside the council and maybe your people? Hopefully no one."
"I can check." Someone tapped and handed in a file. "Thank
you." He took it to look over. "They seem like normal secret
society sorts." He kept looking. "Three million to have you
killed isn't minor, Xander."
"What's Buffy's for daring to do it in a non-approved manner?"
"About the same. Only one for Willow though." He closed the
folder to stare at him. "We have ways of downloading memories but
it'll give you a headache."
"That might be the safest thing," Xander admitted. "Though I'm not sure if you can through the past possessions."
Xander grinned. "Uncle Paul didn't tell you that he went on a rant
about chaos mages and Halloween when I wore your uniform for it?"
"No, he didn't. I think he and I should probably talk too.
What happened then?" Xander shifted to get comfortable and told
him about that Halloween. Phil stared at him. "I've never
seen magic work."
"Go watch Willow."
"I'll see if someone has been." A tv in the corner came up with
film of them on patrol. Sure enough, Willow was concentrating like
she had to take a major dump and branches were floating at people that
turned to dust. "What is that?"
Xander shrugged. "Patrol. Those are vampires. In a few
minutes we'll have a purple thing that Buffy's going to slay while I
distract her against her will by taking out a vampy vamp trying to grab
her." Sure enough, that did happen. "The only time I got to
wear that shirt before Mom sold it," he said when Phil looked at him.
Phil watched the video go on then finally walked over to turn it
off. He stared at his 'nephew'. "What are you messed up in?"
"Saving the world. There's those sort that want to own it or
destroy it. It's Buffy's job to fight that sort and no one little
teenage girl should have to do it on her own. Or two now since I
know CPR and used it when she drowned. Which is why the price on
my head is so damn high."
Phil licked his lips again then stared at him. "If it was anyone else, I'd say that they were going mental, Xander."
"Yeah, and yet we've lowered the Sunnydale death rate to under fifteen percent this year."
"They only have a three percent death rate."
Xander snorted. "With the missing persons rate and the suicide
rate plus the odd death rate, we have over thirty some years.
Thanks to Buffy and us backing her up, we'll have the largest graduating
class in fifty years. The death rate for the high school is about
twelve percent right now."
Phil blinked a few times. "That's not been noted."
"You guys have had a few agents there."
"I'll check with them." He paused. "You didn't have a weapon."
"I had a few stakes, a machete, and a crossbow with twenty bolts,"
Xander corrected. "Vamps need to be beheaded or staked in the
heart, or at least that species does. Most demons can be killed by
beheading or sometimes metal or wood. Depending on the
species. Giles knows all that. That's why he's a Watcher."
Phil considered that. "No guns?"
"Guns aren't useful, Xander. They won't dust a vampire and they
can get lost during a fight. I know I can keep hold of a stake
during one but the whole gun thing would totally get broken during a
fight," Xander mimicked.
"Willow?" Phil guessed with an almost-grin.
"Buffy?" he mouthed then shook his head.
"Ah." He crossed his arms and considered his nephew. "Why the blood?"
"Unless they heard that I got exposed to mermaid DNA? No clue."
"Swim team was turning into Black Lagoon monsters. We needed to see why. So I joined the swim team."
Phil blinked a few times. "How did that lead to mythical creature DNA exposure?"
"He was tired of losing. It was in the steam of the sauna. But they killed him for it," he ended on an upbeat note.
Phil slumped. "Let me get that tested." A new file was
handed in. "Thank you and I want to see the agent who's been
handling his town. Now please." He took it to look
over. "You do." He rubbed a thumb over one eyebrow and
looked at him. "And a few other things."
"Would that lead back to Mom and Dad letting that geek have me for the summer when I was eight?"
"Quite possibly." He went back to the results until the two agents
walked in. "Bartholomew. Agent Cresnis. Thank you for
helping my nephew. What happened?"
They gave him a succinct oral report and then Bartholomew handed him a
typed report set. Xander grinned. "If you guys saved me from
the weenies, thanks."
"You got four out of the six," Agent Cresnis said with a smile. "Remember, we need future agents, kid."
Xander smiled. "I still have to be there for patrol."
Phil looked at him and shook his head. "No you don't."
"Yes I do. There's no way I'm letting the girls go out alone," he said firmly. "Even if they're bitches at times."
Phil blinked at him. "We'll talk about it in the morning."
Xander snorted. "No we won't be. I have to be there, even if
Buffy doesn't always appreciate it, because otherwise it's one little
girl out saving the world by herself again."
"Sunnydale was officially put under a shelter in place warning due to a
chemical leak up at the college," Senior Agent Bartholomew said with a
smile. "They're not very happy but it will last for two
days." Xander slumped but nodded. "Those that are ignoring
it are being arrested by the DEA. Because they needed the training
exercise." He smiled at Phil. "He snuck off the helicarrier
last time, Coulson. You taught him too well."
"That was mostly Paul's doing." They smiled and left. "We'll
talk during PT." He looked at his nephew again. "That's
high praise from him. He's never directly recruited to the
agency." He walked back to his seat and sat down. Xander was
staring at him. "We can work on things until it's time for you to
be gotten home." Xander nodded, slumping down some. He
would keep his opinion that this was all a huge mess to himself.
The kid didn't have much of a choice about the soldiers wanting
He got up to hug him. "I'll bring you breakfast in the morning and
we'll talk about all this stuff." He kissed him on the temple
like he had when Xander was a little boy that used to hang on him for
stories and tucked him in. Xander smiled weakly. "Try to
sleep. I'll be back in about six hours." He gave him a pat
and walked out of the infirmary room, going to find out what hadn't been
told to him. They had surveillance tapes queued up for him and
could run it at time-and-a-half speed so he could get through
them. His brother had left him a long file as well. It was
going to be a long night but apparently his nephew needed him, and some
And to not sneak out of the infirmary because he had by the time Phil got back there.
Phil showed up in Sunnydale three days later. It had taken him two
to figure out how Xander was getting home. He smiled at the woman
who answered her door. "Mrs. Joyce Summers? Agent Philip
Coulson." She gaped. He nodded politely at Buffy.
"It's not an issue but I'm gathering intelligence on a few...unusual
things in town and I think that your daughter could fill some gaps in
for me. May we speak?"
"Is she in trouble?" Joyce asked.
"No. The people who are causing problems are in trouble. She
just seems to have tripped over it while doing her duty."
"Do all agents know?"
"No, but I'm loosely related to Xander Harris."
"You're Uncle Paul?" Buffy asked.
"No, I'm Paul's younger brother, Phil. When we had to evacuate
Paul due to the military interference, he asked me to help Xander and
you with issues."
"Let him in, Mom." She did and they went to the living room. "Where is Xander?"
"He got back here last night. Two nights ago, approximately ten
minutes after you broke patrol for the night, he was attacked by six
soldiers who are part of that project under the college." Buffy
groaned, sitting down and slumping. "He's fine. He only got
two cuts and he managed to protect himself very well for almost twenty
minutes." Buffy perked up at that. "My people took him back
to our nearest base for cleaning up and some rest so we could figure out
what was going on."
"How did all of this come to your attention, much less Xander's?" Joyce asked.
"Xander was taking out a vampire clan in a warehouse while your daughter was on leave."
"I ran away," Buffy sighed.
"Which is still a leave of absence from your duty. I have no doubt
you had a few reasons and I'm not going to debate if they were good or
not. That's not my job." She smiled at that. So did
Joyce. He looked at the mother again. "After using a holy
water grenade." Buffy moaned and shook her head. "Which took
out most of the clan, he was searching for anything that should not
fall into other demonic hands. He found a fairly powerful
bomb." Buffy whimpered and shook her head. "He called Paul,
who called some people he should have been able to trust but they were
compromised by the people under the college, who are apparently
torturing demons to find out what your Council has known for generations
now." Buffy nodded once. Joyce shuddered.
"The soldiers came to stop them by force. Xander and Paul fought
back, with the officer they had to wound because he was going to harm
Xander for finding their stash. Which led to Paul calling in some
former teammates, who were messed up in bigger and worse things to stomp
on them. Which led to Paul calling my desk and another senior
agent coming out to help them out of that situation. And later
raiding the base. Which led to your new PE teacher."
"Xander said he thought he was military," Buffy said. "I know he's
a douche bag." Her mother glared at her. "He likes to pick
on the weaker kids, Mom, and the girls. We just ignore him."
Phil smiled. "That probably upsets him more but it's a good thing
to do. He and his buddies were also made aware of Xander's fish
taint." Buffy winced. "Exactly. Which is why he got
attacked last time. That and they were going to remove him from
their way because Xander was talking about them to people like Paul, who
told myself and my director. We've had agents out here taking out
some of the rising ones for you to ease some of the stress on the town
while we looked into that program."
"Are they being shut down?" Buffy asked.
"Yes, hopefully they are. There's some higher ups who still like
them so they're trying to save them. We're hoping it's not going
to work for much longer." He stared at her. "As of this
moment, Xander is back in town. You are going to have a few more
agents here. We'd like to know what's going to happen at your
"We're not totally sure beyond the Mayor is behind it," Buffy
said. "Giles isn't sure why he's doing rituals to prolong his
"Okay, we can look into that." He sent that note home, getting
one. "We believe, based on what we've found out, that he's
Buffy shrugged. "Ask Giles. He doesn't give me more than
'this is killed how' sort of lessons." Joyce scowled. "Mom,
not like I'd remember," she pointed out. "I'm not Willow."
"You do fine," Phil assured her. "You may not be a book person but
there's many types of intelligence and you have others." She
smiled and nodded at him for that. So did Joyce. "I'll get
with him later. Tonight, no patrol. We'll have the chemical
ban lifted tomorrow."
Buffy waved a hand. "The Mayor had all the DEA guys eaten already. We went back to business as usual yesterday."
Phil huffed. "They're not going to be happy with that." He
sent that note in as well. His director sent back a yell and a
threat to send him more agents. He said that might be helpful and
put his phone up. "We'll be getting a few more to help since they
no longer can. Tonight, still, no patrol. We'll meet with
your group tomorrow in the library as usual?"
"If Snyder will let Xander in."
Phil smiled slightly. "Principal Snyder is about to get a very
rude awakening because his school is being audited by the Federal
Department of Education and the California State Department of
Education." Buffy cackled. "We did not have to ask.
News had gotten back to the state that he was responsible for cooking
the books on his statistics. They are not happy and might pull all
funding from them."
"Willow was about to erase Xander's disciplinary file."
Joyce snorted. "What did he get into trouble for?"
"He got suspended last month for having no underwear on, Mom. He
said he got one for having a shirt buttoned wrong." Joyce gaped,
staring at her then at Phil.
"I have not looked into that yet. I will be and then talking to my
nephew." He stood up. "I'll see you tomorrow before lunch,
Miss Summers." He nodded at Joyce. "Thank you."
"Where is Xander staying?" Joyce asked.
"The Motor Lodge the last I knew. Our agents had him moved for a while but he went back there when he came back."
"I have a basement," Joyce said.
"I'll note that to him. See what his plans are."
"He was going to sue the school," Buffy said with a grin.
"I'd like to blow it up," Phil said dryly, cracking her up. "We'll
see which one of us gets our wishes granted. Good day,
ladies." He went to the Motor Lodge and found Xander on his bed
watching tv. He picked the locks on his room and closed the
"I knew you'd be here sometime today," Xander said dryly. "I thought I'd make it easier on you."
"Still dumb." He swatted him. "Do not sneak out of the infirmary."
Xander looked at him. "I didn't need to be there." Phil glared. He grinned back. "So?"
"We're meeting with your team tomorrow."
"Sure. Giles is the librarian."
"I know." He sat on the other bed. "Cartoons?"
"I like me some cartoons," Xander said.
"Classic ones at least. Some of the new ones are trash." He
settled in to wait. Xander would eventually break and talk to
him. He used to. It took longer now but by midnight Xander
was more than happy to remember.
Phil walked into the library the next morning and put down danish. "I know Xander didn't get breakfast."
"Uncle Phil?" Cordelia asked. He smirked a tiny bit and
nodded. She got up to hug him. "I haven't seen you in ages!"
"Paul called me when they had to move him for his safety." He gave
her a squeeze. "I've missed your wit too, Cordelia." She
sat back down. "They're low fat danish," he told her. She
smiled and got one. So did Buffy and Willow. He put one in
front of Xander and pointed. "Eat."
"Yes, sir." He grinned but did eat. "So what did you figure out?"
"Well, first, we found out that Mr. Giles' true employers are in trouble
with the UK for putting prices on children's heads." He looked at
him and handed over the file. "The contracts on your charge and
the other children have been removed." Giles gaped and looked at
the file. He looked at Buffy. "We believe, and we went back
over the math, that he's trying an ascension bid. Which means
he'll turn into a huge demon."
Giles looked up and stared at him. "You're certain?"
"Oh, dear." He got that reference book to look up what that really
meant. "We might need a volcano. They did last time."
Phil nodded. "We can figure something out." He looked at the
children. "We have made the president aware of what had been
going on in that project. He was not happy. We nearly went
to Defcon 4 status he was shouting so much." Xander grinned.
"He was not happy with us for not busting in there to end them either
but we pointed out we were gathering intelligence and stopping their
efforts whenever we could until we could get the situation with the
other higher ups in the way solved. He fired the lot of
them." Xander got up to snoopy dance. Phil patted him on the
arm. "They may still try something. They're being taken
down later. So you must be on your guard. All of you."
They nodded. "Especially you, Xander."
"Yes, Uncle Phil." He got a second danish to nibble on.
Phil looked at them. "We are going to be here until graduation,"
he told Buffy. "Including a few agents that you can spar with and
not worry about harming." She smiled. "We know it's
important and we'll be upping Xander's hand-to-hand at the same time,
plus Willow's or Cordelia's if they wish. Or Miss Rosenburg's
boyfriend that's not here."
"He's having a post-moon nap," Willow said then shoved some danish into her mouth.
"Someone had noted that but not given much beyond that. I'd like
to ask him how that works and see if there's anything that can help ease
the strain he must go through each change. Without testing on him
or anything." She nodded with a smile. "Good. Any
"PE teacher?" Buffy asked.
"Already gone. We caught him with his hand in an underage
prostitute last night." She smirked. He smirked back
slightly. Then he looked at Xander.
"Staying hidden for now. They were all Army and Paul hates
that. He basically vowed vengeance on them for dirtying the
uniform." He stared at him. "Paul stored my old Army BDU's
in your closet?" Xander smiled and nodded. "Why?"
"I was helping him clean out stuff and I needed to change. Why did you switch to the Marines?"
"They weren't challenging me enough in the Army." Xander nodded at
that. He looked at the girls. "Any other issues you can
Buffy slowly raised her hand. "We used to have a vampire that helped us."
"I've heard that. We checked underground rumors. If he
should show back up, we'll help you test him to make sure he's not still
evil and then figure things out."
Xander shook his head. "Hell. No." Buffy glared at
him. "He killed Jenny. He stalked you. He stalked all
of us. He nearly killed you when you were sick."
"You lied about her doing the spell," Buffy shot back.
Xander stared at her. Then he got up to get a book and bring it
back. "He couldn't undo it." He pointed. Buffy
teared up. "Beyond that, do you really think Willow should've been
able to do the spell after being in a short coma? Something that
took a *group* before? A spell that she had tried and failed to
do? Hell yes I lied, because it was *necessary* and the right
thing to do at the time. Giving false hope would've meant you both
"Hey!" Willow complained. "That's not unusual. Magic is hard
and sometimes it's the second or the third try that works! You
still lied to her."
Xander handed the book to Giles. "For the record, what does that say about him opening the portal?"
Giles looked it over. "It has to be stopped with the blood of the caster."
Xander looked at the girls. "Beyond that, he was torturing Giles
right before you two fought." He stared Buffy down. "If I
had thought and known you would've had that sort of pain and trouble I
would've gotten him sooner," he said quietly. "Dusted him during
the daytime or something." She shook her head, starting to
cry. "That way maybe we wouldn't have Jenny dead, we wouldn't have
Giles tortured, we wouldn't have had you broken that way because you
loved him." She got up and stomped off to cry in private.
Willow glared but followed her. He looked at Cordelia.
"I would've went with you," she reminded him. "I knew he was
dangerous and eww, dead penis probably not that great." She
stuffed her mouth again.
"Some people are ruled with their hearts and some with their heads,"
Phil reminded them. "Young love is often traumatic. That's
why they make afterschool specials about it and write poetry and
classical literature around it." Giles stifled a smile but nodded
he agreed. "Now, what exactly do we need to do to support this
team and make your remaining time in this school easy?"
"The agents taking out vampy vamps is nice," Xander said. "Meant
we got a lot more time off. Made it a lot easier until she came
"That will be continuing."
"We need better teachers," Cordelia said. She pulled out her math book to show him.
"I think I used that in school and it was outdated then," Phil said, taking it to look at. "This is thirty years old."
"That's the only math they teach in our grade," Cordelia said.
"We're all in the same classes with Willow and Jonathan and the other
geeks. That's why Xander has such a low grade."
Xander shrugged. "Did the GED thing thanks to Uncle Paul."
She looked at him. "Then why did you come back?"
"Uncle Paul said so?"
"Oh." She grimaced.
"A diploma is always liked over a GED," Phil assured them with a slight grin. "Any other classes?"
"Every. Single. One," Cordelia said. She handed over
her other books. He looked them over and you could hear a moan but
he wasn't showing it.
"I'm assuming there's world history beyond Vietnam," Xander
quipped. "But we'd never know it. It's a good thing we don't
have to take that test to graduate like most of the rest of the state."
"You do," Phil said. "Or you should be." He smirked slightly
at him. Xander waved a hand. "We'll see what the audit panel
says." Giles' eyes went wide and he went to move some books out of
view. Phil handed back the textbooks and looked at the two girls
coming back. "Are there any critical classes that you would like
to see added to?"
"All of them," Willow said. "I'm teaching the computer class and it's not too bad."
Phil blinked. "Why didn't they get a sub?"
"Apparently none available," she said then shrugged, glaring at Xander. "Apologize, Mister. Now."
Giles came back. "I think Xander was correct to withhold that
information," he told Willow, staring at her. "It was unlikely you
should have been able to do the spell or that Buffy could defeat her
boyfriend. She is emotional, she revels in her emotions, and while
I would not change that it does mean that it's something to take into
account for future battles."
"Some of us were meant to be emo and some of us weren't," Cordelia
agreed. "Do you really think you could've beaten him, Buffy?"
"He still opened the portal with his blood," Xander said quietly. "Which meant his blood had to end it."
She slumped but nodded. "I get that part. He would've sacrificed himself. He did."
"And I get that but I honestly wasn't going to lay hope on Willow being
able to do that spell. It was something that it took a group to do
before. She's not a group and it's not her natural version of
"I get that," Buffy said, lifting her chin some. "We're going to
forget that and never talk about it again." She sat down.
"Though, he showed up when I was sick?"
"Yup, to try to kill you. Taunted me a bit. We had a brief
tussle then he huffed off." Xander looked at her. "Someone
had to watch over you when you were down."
"Thank you." He shrugged but nodded. She looked at Phil,
taking another danish. "There's some scary suit wearing people
down by the office."
He nodded. "They found out the principal was rearranging the
numbers he reported." Buffy shuddered. "Oh, yes. This
will be costing the school money probably." He looked at
Xander. "Should I even look at yours?"
"We'll see." He looked at the ladies again. "We'll be in and
out for the next few days setting things up." He looked at his
nephew again. "You are taking up my spare room. Do not
"Thank you." He looked him over. "At least your shirts match." Cordelia laughed. "Thank you, Cordelia."
"Nothing a lot of nagging couldn't cure," she quipped.
Xander looked at her. "You are the queen of nag." She hit
him on the arm. "Did you get Harmony yet for her ho length skirt?"
"No. She's said she's going to try to flirt with the new teachers."
Phil shook his head. "If they should be interested, they will be
fired." He walked off. "Have a better day, kids. I'll
see you all in a few days." He went to the office. Snyder
was flustered and nearly screaming at someone on the phone. "I
need the full files of one Alexander Harris," he said quietly to the
secretary, flashing his ID. "His uncle has put him in for
specialist training since he's been working on his and I need to see
where he's deficient."
Snyder came to the doorway. "He's deficient in every way," he sneered. "He'll never amount to anything."
"Really? Is that why his SAT score was 1100? Or his ACT was
26?" Snyder gaped. Phil smirked slightly. "He has a
lot of promise if it was channeled in the right direction.
Frankly, a school using forty year old textbooks probably couldn't
handle doing that." He got handed the file and looked it
over. "Disciplinary as well please." She dug that out for
him. It was very thick. The principal was sneering.
Phil looked. "I thought he was joking when Paul said he got
detention for having his shoe untied." He walked off
reading. If he didn't know why Xander called the principal a troll
before, he did now. Thankfully Xander had escaped the library
before he was spotted. He was being harassed by an officer.
"He's emancipated and has his GED," Phil said as he walked past him.
The officer glared. "You should still be doing something beyond hanging around."
"I was having a meeting and now I'm going to the job service office to
put in a form." He smiled. "Better?" The officer
stomped off. Xander went to do that and then back to his motel
room. His uncle was in there scanning in pages. "Must you
tell people that?"
"I'm making sure the audit board has copies to go over with the
principal." He looked up. "You mouthed off to get expelled?"
"I wanted things to change," he said. "It was tactically sound since he can't really do anything to me."
"Good point, slightly." Xander shrugged. "How did Job Service go?"
"They updated my file said it was a shame I was only seventeen because
all the good paying jobs you have to be eighteen and have a
license. I pointed out I had one of those. They updated that
too and I'm due to go to the demon cab company next Thursday."
Phil blinked at him. "They have a cab company and the humans don't?"
"Yup." He settled on his bed, watching his uncle feed more sheets
into that fax machine. "How's Uncle Paul?" he asked quietly.
"Better. Still very upset that they're Rangers and dirtying his
old uniform. Which I understand." He looked at his
nephew. "I agree with Bartholomew. You should take the
training. We can assign you here."
Xander shook his head. "It won't make a bit of difference."
"Watch patrol," Xander said dryly.
"I can and will be. That way we can evaluate where you all need
some training." Xander dug something out of his bag and tossed it
over. He looked through the last few pages. "Did you tear
"No. The person written about did magically."
"Huh." He handed it back and finished sending the file. Then
he put it back together and tucked it into his bag. "For Paul's
"He heard about most of them." He settled in to rest. That
was paused when a spell went across the motel but Phil got up to handle
her for him. Which was really nice.
Phil smiled briefly at Joyce as he walked into the gallery with Willow. "Do you have a few moments?"
"I do. Is she in trouble? With the way you're dragging her I would expect it."
"Casting spells on federal agents would be counted as a very severe
felony I'd suppose if magic were included in the law books." Joyce
blinked at him then scowled at Willow.
"We don't need the help and they're going to make Xander train so he's
not Xander and he'll just end up getting more hurt! You know that
he's normal and he'll get hurt if we don't stop him!"
"I'd assume that keeping memories from possessions meant he wasn't
exactly normal. Or the mermaid taint," Phil said mildly.
Xander, Paul, and all of the agents who knew him would be running right
about now because of that tone of voice.
"So? We detoxed all that fish taint. The possessions haven't been helpful anyway," she snorted.
"You mean like how there's a nice listing in his files about stealing a
heavy grade piece of artillery from the local Reserve base?" She
glared at him. "For your slayer's benefit I might add."
"Still, he's *normal*!"
"So am I. Yet I still manage to protect the whole US and world
every single day. By the way, you didn't detox it, Miss
Rosenburg. Our medics treating him the other night found
it." He looked at Joyce. "Might you know who her adult
"Her mother's not in town. She left yesterday on a lecture tour
and her father's ... I'm not really sure. I know they wouldn't
believe in magic though."
"Most don't. I didn't." He handed her over. "As I saw,
you're one of the two reasonable adults in the group." Joyce
smiled. "Might I ask you to have a constructive talk with
her? Because I did not want an 'ignore me' spell put on
myself. Or any of the agents coming in to help in the next few
"They'll just get eaten like the last ones," Willow snorted. "You guys aren't qualified to handle it."
"Miss Rosenburg, I have two agents coming in that are federally
sanctioned assassins and snipers. Granted, they're not the top in
the agency but they do have a very high kill per year rating."
Willow went pale. "I'm fairly certain they can snipe the vampires
since we have managed to make a compressed wood bullet out of that
pressboard wood they use to make cheap furniture with." She shook
her head. He nodded. "We have." He popped out his gun,
noticing her flinch. He popped out the clip to show her.
"Banded with a tiny bit of silver just in case and another band of
steel." He put the bullet back in and the clip in the gun then the
gun into his holster. "Our weapons designers were thrilled by the
new challenge. They've been working on them now for over a year."
"You've known about this for a year?" Joyce demanded.
"No. We had one of our snipers run into something fairly
unkillable. He ended up getting them with a broken board when
traditional bullets and knives didn't work and they went to dust."
"Oh." She looked at Willow then at him. "So you've realized about vampires?"
"We've realized there was something odd. The director said if we
talked about vampires again he was going to put all of them into a
mental hospital. Now he's not willing to do that as often, even
though it still gives him a headache and indigestion."
Joyce smiled weakly. "I can understand that urge." Phil smiled slightly. "Let me talk with her and Giles."
"Thank you. Paul noted he had gotten back a lot of books for Mr. Giles from her care and was worried about her."
Joyce nodded. "I can see why. Let's talk, Willow." She
walked her into the office. Phil went back to the motel.
Her daughter needed better backup than a girl who stole books and a boy
that lied to her because he thought it was kinder and more necessary.
Phil came in that night from watching the kids on patrol, finding Xander
bandaging himself. He settled next to him to help him. "So
that was bad," Phil said quietly.
Xander snorted. "No, that was pretty normal, Uncle Phil."
Phil stared at him. "I meant the girls, not the fight. You
could have done better but you kept getting blocked by Willow when she
said she was protecting you. I saw the three you got behind
them." Xander nodded. "Even if they didn't." Xander
nodded again. "And then yelled at you." That got a third nod
and a grimace. He stared at him. "After graduation, I want
you to take the training," he said quietly. "Even if you don't
pass onto being an agent, it can help you stay alive." Xander
stared at him. "It will help."
Xander nodded. "I can probably do it for that reason but I don't think I want to be the guy in the suit like you are."
"I totally understand that." They both looked outside as something
went up in flames. They gathered their bags and left. Phil
hadn't had time to set up a safehouse out here yet but a few of the
agents were in so he went to their house. Which was also on fire
thanks to vampires. He spotted all but one and nodded at one to
find a safe spot for them. He had Xander to take care of, and he
was too injured to help protect himself.
That wouldn't stop him from trying but Xander had grabbed his own gun
and some of his spare bullets to stop the vampires before the agents had
realized then limped off to stake a few. He spotted Buffy and
followed to help her. That's when he spotted Xander. He was
surrounded by vamps and had just set off a light explosive as they got
there. It sprayed holy water, burning them. Buffy jumped in
to kill them with Phil. Phil looked at him. "You're too
injured thanks to Willow for that, Xander." He staked one backhand
and then Xander got another one. "Let's go."
Xander shook his head. "No, this is a threat and I have to help handle it."
Buffy snorted. "You're injured, Xander. You don't have faster healing like I do."
He stared at her. "I wouldn't be injured if Willow hadn't knocked me into a group of vamps." She snorted.
"He was," Phil told her. "Then he took out three of them."
Buffy gaped. "We've been working on his training, Buffy.
That way he can safely back you up."
"He's normal and I don't need the stress of watching out for him and worrying if he's injured," she said bluntly.
Xander shrugged. "That's fine. I'll go on my own." He
walked off growling. Phil scowled at her then followed.
"Uncle Phil, help her. I'll get the guys to somewhere safer.
Not like I don't know this town." He led them to a house that was
empty. It was fairly defensible. Had almost no windows.
Overgrown bushes around the walkway so it was hard to get into.
Still furnished because there had been no heirs to handle things like
having the electric cut off. The agents settled in to check
injuries. Xander looked. "Are we missing one?"
"He's with your uncle," one said, staring at him. "You need stitches."
"I need a bandaid," he countered. He got out of his shirt and went
back to treating his cuts and scrapes. When someone came up the
stairs he looked out there. "Anyone know him?" They looked
and shook their heads. Xander looked out the door. "Do we know
"Who're you?" he demanded, vamping out.
Xander grinned. "Xander." He staked him. "Let me set
up an automatic sprinkler." He got what he'd need from the garage
and came back to make holy water for it. He put a trigger on the
stairs and set it up to spray whoever walked onto the porch. His
uncle walked past him and around the trap. "Holy water."
"Reasonable. Thank you. Let me stitch your shoulder when you're done."
"I've got butterflies on it, Uncle Phil. Not like I didn't
learn." He finished up, going back to his chair to check his
stuff. He had gotten his whole bag, including clothes, out.
So he was set. The money was in there. He checked to make
sure and it was. "You get Buffy home?"
"Yes." He looked at him. "She has a point that it's a worry
any team leader has. She expressed it miserably. You'll be
taking extra training with me to make sure she doesn't have to worry as
Xander looked at him. "Sure, I can do that between my own
patrols." The agents with them were staring. "Because I
don't need that stress either."
"No, you don't, and I agree with your decision on that." Xander
relaxed and grinned. "You're taking an agent however."
Xander shrugged. "Fine. Set me up with a trainer type and I'll go with him."
"That's not a bad idea," he decided, pulling out his phone to text
someone. He looked at the others. "Where's Phipps?"
"We thought he was with you," one of them said, staring at him.
Xander pulled out his phone to call someone. "It's Xander.
Was an agent captured? Yeah, but my uncle's about to bring down
the wrath of hell on people for it. Cryptin's house.
Thanks." He hung up. "The head of the kitten poker
circuit. He's a peaceful species." That got a nod and they
set up a watch rotation. The agent got back there just before
dawn. He stepped on the trip switch, getting sprayed. His
screams woke up the other agents. Xander sighed. "Okay," he
said, reloading the holy water bottle. He let his uncle handle the
staking duties this time.
Director Nick Fury looked at the report that got sent in. It was
short and to the point. He looked up. "Hill." She
walked in and stared at him. "Does this say that Coulson lost an
agent to being turned into a vampire?"
She read it and nodded. "It appears so. Do we believe it was the military unit or the Mayor?"
"I forgot about him," Fury admitted, considering it. "Probably
him. He owns the vampires in town." That got a nod.
"Get me his special agents. He's got three."
"One's still MIA in Asia," she said quietly. "We have no idea where Agent Romanoff is, sir."
"Fine. Tell his brother too, just in case." That got a nod
and she walked off to do that. He considered it. Romanoff
would turn up. She always did. For all he knew this was how
she was taking a vacation.
Xander looked up from his searching when a mostly quiet person walked near him. He looked at him. "Do I know you?"
"I'm looking for Phil Coulson and the junior agents said he was with you."
"No, he wasn't with me. He was supposed to be with Buffy and she
got him lost. He's presently in the middle of some of the more
harmful demons around here and I'm trying to find the way into their
underground base. Another agent?"
"Yes." He grinned.
"Cool. Can you fight?" He nodded. "Even better.
I'm still training." He finally found the hatch and got it open,
then jumped down. He walked in and found his uncle on a chair and
demons sneering at him. "I've had enough," he sneered. The
demons turned to stare at him.
"Xander, totally unnecessary," Phil said. "Clint."
Xander smirked and pulled out something. The demons laughed.
Xander hit two with it and they screamed. "Not like I don't have
access to the books, guys. And the kitten poker circuit." He
grinned and hit the others with the other weapons on him. "Had
enough." More came running in. "Great, and I'm out of holy
water and grenades. Guess it's not a happy day for you
guys." He let his other half take over. She growled and
pounced, clawing and biting at the demon giving orders. It
screamed like a little girl and ran off. Xander huffed and spit
out the bad tasting blood, sniffing around. He nuzzled Phil's
cheek then prowled off to handle another demon he could hear.
"Get me free and go stop him," Phil ordered. His agent got him
free and went after his nephew. Phil stood up and got his weapons
back. Clint came back with Xander chasing him. "Xander!" he
snapped. Xander blinked and looked at him. "I'm supposing
that's the hyena?"
"Probably, yeah." He looked around. "Huh. She wasn't
that pissed off this time. Interesting." He walked around
Clint, going to the hatch. "Do you want to go out through their
enclave or this way?"
"That way's probably safer," Phil said. He gave Xander a pointed
look that they'd be talking later. Xander grinned and climbed up
into an ambush. That wasn't going to make them happy but Xander
did okay enough until they got up there.
Clint stared. "He's not bad. Clearly runs in the family, sir."
"Not exactly that sort of family but he's learning a lot." He took
out two more vampires and Clint shot the others. Xander was
holding his side and the claw mark. "Let's get that
treated." Xander held up a hand and pulled out a tiny, old plastic
snap case. He pulled out a tube of something to put around the
wound then a bandage. "Blocks the scent?" Xander nodded,
looking at him. "I need to test that." They walked off
together. "Buffy had to take off after a hellhound."
Xander looked at him. "I heard. I was playing kitten poker actually. I'm *so* going to kick her around."
"It wasn't intentional," Phil warned.
Xander snorted. "Yeah, right. In case you hadn't noticed,
she's said you're normal and a guy too. Therefore not part of the
special girl club." He watched around them. "I'll be damned,
he is back." Phil paused to stare. "Wonder if he has the
"We'll figure it out when you're not injured and neither am I," Phil said, walking him off. "Barton?"
"Just me, sir. Dietrich's in the infirmary in a bad way. His
last one hit him with a pickup truck to stop him from firing an RPG up
their asses. Widow's somewhere in Asia."
Phil looked at him. "Seriously?" Clint nodded. He
found his phone and called hers. "Widow. Sunnydale,
California. Tomorrow if possible. I need you here
please." He hung up. Clint shuddered. They made it
back to the house they were borrowing and got patched up by the medic
that had come with Clint.
Xander stared at her. "You're a half Mohra demon." She
flinched, staring at him. He waved a hand. "Don't care
personally as long as you don't hurt my uncles."
"No, I would not. I'm indebted to them for saving my family." She stared then sniffed. "What is that?"
"Mermaid taint? Past possession? The stuff I have around the claw mark?"
"No, that I recognized." She sniffed his throat then looked at him. "Hyena?"
"Past possession. I dropped for a bit." He grinned. "She's kinda nice about protecting the family."
"They would be." She settled in to treat his injuries. She
had things that would work better with his strange taints. "How
many do you have?" she asked quietly.
"Two possessions, DNA taint. Some strange geek when I was eight
that my parents gave me to for the summer since he nicely paid them
about five grand."
Phil looked over. "I did not hear about that."
"Ask Uncle Paul, Uncle Phil."
"I shall." He sent that text message and got a file number
back. He looked it over then at his nephew. "They were
trying to see if you had any gifts. Someone had thought you
The healer nodded. "The possessions are stronger because he
does. I'm also sensing some seer taint and possibly some later
healer taint. He might have to grow into that or have it opened
though." She finished up. "That gel is not to be used by
those with venomous DNA."
"It doesn't bother me. I was warned and tested it first."
She nodded. "Good enough." She patted him on the hand then
stood up to look at the senior agent. "Director Fury wanted a
She smiled at him. "I'm going to be at the demon clinic to see if there's anything new that's come out."
"Go to the one on eighth," Xander said. "The other one has those
last few military people watching it." She nodded and grinned at
him then left. Xander slumped down, grimacing. "Would
it be okay if I just ...blew up the town?" he asked his uncle.
Phil considered it then shook his head. "Probably not. We
want to keep it open because the other possible hellmouths are in bigger
cities and the like." Xander groaned. "Though we may be
able to solve some of the issues going on." He looked at Clint,
who grinned. That was one of his specialities. "I also need
you to go in as a teacher."
Xander looked at the guy then his uncle. "Have fun with that."
Phil smirked. "You're not expelled any longer."
Xander shrugged. "Still don't have to go." He grinned.
"You're going back."
"That would mean I'd have to put up with the bitches who nearly got you
killed earlier. I'm not sure I can act, Uncle Phil. Are
He stared at his nephew. "It was not intentional." Xander
snorted again, giving him a pointed look. "You will go back."
"Tomorrow," he said.
"You blackmailed Snyder?"
"No. He's not in charge. The state took over the
school." Xander smirked and shook his head. "Yes they have."
"No they haven't. Willow was still teaching today." Phil
groaned. "They might be wanting to. Which we'd probably
applaud at. You'll probably get a bunch of 'but it's hard'
complaints as well." He crossed his feet. "If that happens
I'll go back."
Phil called someone. "Did the take over happen today?" He
listened to the logistical nightmare going on. "Not until next
year? Interesting. No, I believe it should happen
sooner. Because we have rumors of the principal in with the one
causing the major problems in town. No, Miss Summers is not the
major problem starter. She's solving them," he said blandly,
making Xander cackle and shake his head. "As we've heard, the
Mayor is. Ah, you had a meeting with him. How
charming." He looked at one, who got them some help from a hidden
person in their agency. "That's fine. Thank you." He
hung up and called the director, walking off talking about things like
removing spells from bureaucrats.
Xander grinned at the other agents, who were all shaking their
heads. "So anyway, guys." They smirked at him when Phil
glared at him. "I was a good boy. I'm not the one that got
taken hostage." He got up to stretch, with a wince, and headed up
to his cot. Let his uncle do agent things.
Phil shook his head and looked at Barton. "Files' in my bag.
Get familiar with it. He goes on patrol with a training
agent. He has a nasty habit of getting nagged by the girls."
He went back to talking to Fury while his agent got the files to look
over. He had to laugh at a few things. Phil looked over so
he held up the disciplinary file. Phil nodded. "Principal is
"Clearly. Is there a bridge in his office?" Clint quipped, cracking up the other agents, who all nodded.
Xander did end up going back to school a few days later when Snyder was
forced to readmit him by the Mayor. For some reason no one was
sure about. Xander yawned through the 'I'm watching you'
speech. Then he went to class. The girls were ignoring him,
yay him and his life. But yay, he didn't care right now. He
watched the new chemistry teacher, who was an agent. They weren't
too bad at it and Xander even learned something. That was nice of
him. His uncle would be proud that the teacher singled out his
experiment as going the right way, even over Willow's. Which made
her huffy and glare at him.
The PE teacher was now Clint. He got them to do volleyball instead
of dodge ball. It confused the jocks a lot but it was good for
them to learn new sports. And bouncy girls....a wonder of PE
class. None of Cordelia's sheep had worn a bra today so it was a
bouncy good time in PE. The girls all huffed and complained until
Clint reminded them that they were less than usually dressed so had
brought it on themselves. Then it was time for literature.
The new teacher in there wasn't an agent he recognized but that tingly
feeling that the former Science sub had given him was back - and that
one had been a shape changing demon. He paid attention to
her. She wasn't exactly trying to be sexy but she was definitely
drawing attention. She went over Russian literature. Which
none of the students realized was real. Xander finally raised his
hand and grinned. "Miss Rushman, how much of our current reading
assignments were translated poorly? Should we worry about
that? I've seen some Greek that was mistranslated and changed the
meaning entirely. It went from a comedy to a gay sex romp."
She smiled. "That is a good question. The translations in
this case are good. The next one, not as well done but the meaning
wasn't changed. Simply some odd word switches and they didn't put
it into grammatical order." He nodded and smiled. "Though
that's a very good question. What did you read?" Xander
leaned over to grab it off the reading shelf and tossed it at her.
She flipped through it and laughed. "The translator only had
Latin in high school apparently." She put it down. "I'll
find the classroom a better copy. That's a piece of literature
everyone should read." She smiled at the hissing
cheerleaders. "Ladies." They stared at her. She
smiled. "When is your next game or competitive meet? My own
college did competitions so I know it's stressful leading up to them."
Cordelia shook her head. "We only play games. The next one is in two weeks."
"Excellent. Then I won't worry about your text next week on this
reading." She smiled at the class. "After each assignment
I'll be giving a short test on the reading material to make sure you've
actually read it." That got a mass of groans. "It'll be on
the level of a book report," she said dryly, staring around the
room. "You can do it easily if you read the reading. In
classes we'll be talking about various points. I expect a chapter a
night." A few slumped and Buffy moaned.
"Class participation is required for a decent grade." They all
nodded, looking depressed at that fact. The bell rang. "Read
the first chapter tonight, come see me again tomorrow." They
walked out. She stared at the trio that her handler was paying a
lot of attention to. She wasn't sure why but something odd was
going on. Since it was lunch she strolled off. She caught
that one young man's eye. Something was odd, a bit off, about
him. She ran into Clint, who grinned at her.
"Mr. Barton." She shook his hand. "We should catch up over lunch."
"We should," he agreed, taking her back to his office. It was the
most secure of all of them. He turned on the bug jammer and looked
at her. "We weren't sure where you were. Phil's in a
critical level of danger here."
"It seems like a charming town."
"That has a really high death rate." He smiled. "Due to vampires."
"Were you drugged?" she asked casually.
"No." He showed her the bite mark on his arm from fighting one off
last night. She slumped, staring at him. "By the way, that
guy who was watching you? That's Xander."
"He's Xander? His 'nephew' Xander?"
"Interesting. Why was he watching me?" He dug out the
journal he had 'borrowed' to let her read a section. She
stared. "I'll make sure he knows I'm not a praying mantis
demon." She handed it back with a huff. "How bad?"
"Phil actually got captured last night."
She stiffened. "He was?" He nodded. "That's not a good thing."
"No, it wasn't." They shared a look. He wrote down an
address. "We're there." She tucked it into her shirt pocket
and rebuttoned her vest over her shirt. "I'll introduce you to
some people." He walked her off to introduce her to Giles first.
Giles looked up as they walked in and he went pale. "Why is someone of your skills here, Miss Romanova?" he asked quietly.
She smiled. "Agent Coulson called me." The gentleman
slumped, staring at him. "So I'm teaching literature." She
looked around. "I might have to introduce the topic of library
work to the students."
Giles snorted. "We've had three students checking out books since
I've been here. That's nearly four years now." She stared at
him. "Good luck with them."
Cordelia stomped in and slammed the door closed behind her. "Okay,
what's with the freaky?" she demanded, looking at them. "Who the
fuck are you two and why are you in my school? It's kinda clear
you're not teachers."
"We're agents under Agent Coulson," Clint said quietly, staring at her.
"Uncle Phil sent you? Seriously?" She huffed, glaring at
them. "Do you really have to make the boys drool? We had
enough problems with the shape changing demon that went after
virgins. I'm pretty sure a few guys flashed back to it since they
just grabbed some of my cheerleaders."
"I did not mean for that to happen and if I had known about that history
I would have been more subtle," Miss Rushman said. "You are...."
"He's mentioned you a few times," she said with a slight smile, shaking her hand. "We're here to help and to protect you."
"Yeah, right," she snorted. "That's the blonde, whiny thing's
job." She looked at Giles. "What's her problem now?"
"She's still feeling the pressure and strain from before," Giles said simply. "It's a hard transition for some, Cordelia."
Cordelia stared at him. "So in other words, the special girl thing
came back and they tried it on Xander, who walked on them finally?"
"I did not hear such things." Xander walked in with a sandwich and a pint of milk. "Good you're eating."
"Yeah, lunch is almost edible today. Even if it is terriyaki tofu
on wonder bread." He sipped his milk. "Cordy, Uncle Phil's
on his way here to take some readings."
"Why were you staring at us earlier?" she demanded, glaring at him, hands going to her hips and one foot tapping.
"Because you all were *bouncy*. Teenage guys stare at bouncy
things. Especially breasts." She slapped him. He
shrugged and ate more of his sandwich. "Next time, tell your sheep
to look less like sluts and more like teenage girls who don't
charge. I think one of the agents asked her how much she
charged." Cordelia glared. He shrugged. "It's not my
fault you can't heckle them into bras! Guys think with their dicks
and their hormones too, Cordy. We see bouncy things and
drool." She stomped off again. He smirked and waved at her
back. "Have a good afternoon." He looked at Giles, writing
down something. "Dealt with them."
"Why didn't you wait for Buffy?"
"Because she's decided I'm too valuable to risk again," he said
bitterly. "So fuck her and her special girl status." Giles
gasped. Xander stared at him. "Fuck it and fuck her and fuck
Angel since we saw him last night!" He stared at him. "I
don't need this shit. I really don't." He walked off.
Maybe he'd cut the afternoon session. Of course he ran into an
enemy of him having sanity. He walked around Willow.
"Xander." He glanced over at her. "Is she a demon?" she hissed.
"The teacher you were drooling over. You only drool over bad girls."
He stared at her and almost said something about her former crush but
didn't. "No, she's not." Willow smiled. He walked off
shaking his head. There were days when he thought that being a
drunk might not be so bad. Today was one of them. He heard
screaming and looked. Soccer team chasing the semi-naked
cheerleaders. He whistled and threw a rock at one's head.
"Do you mind? The rest of us don't need to see them naked.
We'll have nightmares." One of the girls was crying. The
team glared at Xander. He stared back. "What? Going to
kick my ass? Try it. Leave the girls alone.
Apparently they said no and you're too illiterate to look that word
up." They huffed off. He looked at the girls. "I have
some blankets in the trunk of the car," he told the crying one.
"We have stuff in our lockers," Cordelia said, jogging over to help
them. "C'mon, girls. We'll make sure you're safe." The
principal and the coach were coming out. "How dare your boys
attack my cheerleaders!" she shouted at the coach. "They did not
need to attack them. They did not need to chase them through the
"They're just girls," Snyder sneered.
"Even just girls have the right to say no," Xander said bluntly, staring
at the coach. "You're damn lucky I didn't do more than throw *a*
rock at your people. How caveman are they?" He helped a few
of the girls up. "C'mon, let's get you guys somewhere safer so you
can press assault charges." A few of the other jocks came over to
help get the girls into the dressing room.
Clint came in after knocking. "I need names to make them
sorry." The girls told him who. He smiled.
"Good." He walked out. That was not going to happen any
longer. Not while he was there. They may be slutty girls but
even they could say no. Most of them had him later that day with
the other jocks. That was so sweet. He looked the various
teammembers over and smirked. A few of them realized that was
probably a bad thing. "We're going to work like soldiers today,
boys. Your conditioning is pathetic. Your fat to muscle mass
is overloading your guts. So we'll do it like I did when I
"You were military?" one asked.
Clint smirked. "Worse. Much worse." They shuddered and
he got them into the daily PT he would expect from them. They'd
learn from him and be too sore to try anything again. They were
whining when he finally let them go shower and change. Most were
shaky and needed help to stand up for the next few minutes. Clint
felt much better about them living.
Phil looked up as his late lunch was interrupted by Miss Rushman.
"Natasha," he said with a smile. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Are you is the better question." She stared at him. "I was told you got injured?"
"Captured as well?"
"Longer story there."
"I've heard from Barton." She stared at him. "That's your
nephew?" He smiled and nodded. "Interesting young man.
Asked a good question, did more than stare at my chest. Stood up
for the cheerleaders that were being assaulted."
"He's good at that. He's very much a white knight."
"As I've heard." She handed over a key drive. "On what I've seen." She looked at him. "How long?"
"We're deciding that."
"Fine." She smiled. "It's a nice vacation to teach
literature to teenagers. Their minds are like tired
sponges." She got up and strolled off. Someone dared to slap
her on the ass so she turned and grabbed their arm to break it in four
places. She looked down at the crying man. "I'm not your
pet. You have no right to pat me. In the future, keep your
hands to yourself." She strolled on like nothing had happened.
Phil hid a smile as he finished his lunch. Things would go all
right. He could have Natasha talk to Buffy and Joyce about female
warrior things too. Maybe his agent would be able to figure out
why Buffy went out on patrol in a skirt and heels.
"Mother fucker," Xander said as he walked in with the mail. He
handed something to his uncle. "Your boss wrote." He walked
off looking at the other stuff, handing it out. He ducked a few
blows as he walked past the pair sparring. "You're weak and
there's not that much room in here. We have a yard, guys."
They huffed but went out there. Xander handed over the last few
envelopes. "There." He walked back to the living room.
"Did your boss complain?"
"He's being complained at," Phil admitted. "Barton?"
"Yard with the other guy."
"Natasha?" he called. No answer. "She's around here somewhere."
"She's in the kitchen on the counter eating a sandwich," Xander
said. "If you're talking about the pretty redhead who's clearly
"I am and no hitting on her."
Natasha strolled out. "I doubt he would," she said.
Xander grinned. "Only dangerous women like me," he quipped.
"Like the mummy." He walked off shaking his head. "They're
still nagging about that and Cordelia."
Phil looked at his back. "You dated Cordelia?"
"No, we bitched at each other then made out in closets," he quipped back
with a smirk and a wave before going outside. He got a block from
the house when he was jumped. Not by demons. Not by
soldiers. By some of the jocks. Xander did pretty
good. He was bruised but so were they. Two were limping and
one was moaning about his broken ribs. Xander was sore but he'd
had worse. He looked at them. "Next time, learn what no
means because strong, brave guys like you that need five of you to jump a
single guy clearly need that education." He walked off. An
officer pulled up next to him. "What?" he demanded.
"Did you start a fight?" he asked with a mean smirk.
"No. Earlier I helped protect some of the cheerleaders when their
tiny, steroid shrunken cocks tried to rape them. They didn't like
that," he said sarcastically. "That's why it took five of them to
jump me." He walked off shaking his head. The officer tried
to stop him but Xander turned and glared. The officer slowly
backed up. Xander looked behind himself then at the officer
again. "Yeah, I'm about to lose it again."
"We know that blood tells, Harris."
"But I don't drink." He smirked. "So what do you think I do instead?"
"No. Not really." He smiled. "Don't worry, I'm sure
you'll find out some year." The officer turned and ran.
"Have a great day," he called with a grin and a wave.
"Pussbag." He walked off again, still shaking his head to clear
the ringing in his ear. He finally resorted to the finger wiggle
maneuver but that helped. Another officer drove past him so he
smiled and waved. They sped on. Xander grunted. That
was probably a bad thing but yay. His uncle would scowl, with a
full scowl instead of a partially hidden expression, but yay. He
ran into his new literature teacher at the Java Joint. He bought
her tea and handed it over then got his own drink and walked off.
Maybe he'd go hang out on the beach, see if he could find any of his
former swimteam mates.
Natasha watched, frowning at his back. She followed him
subtly. She saw him swing out of his path to check on a house that
was alive with screaming from a couple fighting. The man of
the couple stomped out.
"I see you're coming crawling back," he sneered when he spotted Xander.
"No, I'm trying to figure out if you died yet. I'm never coming
back. Thanks anyway, Dad." His father took a swing at
him. Xander ducked it and walked off. "You're not worth
it." His father shouted and lunged at him. Xander ducked and
let him fall. "Uncle Paul would say that was really pathetic."
"You'll never be the man Paul is or I am," he sneered, getting up and wiping off some drool.
Xander looked at him. "Uncle Paul thinks I'm a lot like him and
no, I'll never stoop low enough to be you. Thank you,
Goddess." That got a growl and the man took another swing at
him. This time Xander hit him. He stared at him. "Why
don't you leave town? It's not like you're not a disgrace and
pulling it down. You're a really bad example to kids and I'm
hoping the neighbors are tired of you and don't decide to burn the house
down." He walked over him. "You're not worth the stress of a
fight." He made it to the beach and looked at the woman following
him. "Did you enjoy my father's little show?"
"Most people wouldn't have been able to spot me."
Xander nodded. "Then again, I've been helping on patrol around
here for a few years." He stared at her. "I could use some
privacy. I'm having a teenage boy day."
"I think you're having some anger."
"That's part of being a teenage guy."
"Maybe not where you're from, but here it is." She rolled her eyes
and walked off. "Don't worry Uncle Phil either. He has
enough to deal with right now." He went down the beach.
There was a clan of demons down here that were causing trouble.
Maybe he'd scout them instead of going for a swim.
Phil looked around as dinner was served. "Where's Xander?"
"On the beach," Natasha said, looking at him. "Being angry."
Phil stared at her. "Why is he angry?"
"He was bruised when I ran into him at the coffee shop. Then he
talked with his father, who was not pleased, and then he went to the
beach. Where he asked I not tell you because you had too much to
Phil nodded. "Perhaps." He dug into his dinner. "If
he's not back in an hour I'll go look for him. He can handle
it." It was still dusk so Xander would be safe enough. He
Phil found Xander the next day, in a cage. A lot more bruised than
Natasha's report said he should be. He got the other people out
of their cages and safely out while he helped his nephew out.
"The soldiers were torturing the demons in the caves and spotted me." He stared at him. "They had bats and things."
"Great." He handed him to Natasha. "Take him." She
nodded, taking him to be looked over. Phil got some higher help
called in. The director was very displeased with this. So
was the governor when the Director admitted he had people here and
why. The governor flew down, landing his helicopter outside
City Hall. People were staring. Phil joined the discussion
when he was sent for. He walked in. "Governor." He
shook his hand. "As of this date, the removal of that one program
is going well. Today some leftover rogues were having issues."
"They're not under arrest?"
"They're supposed to be but a few got missed in the sweep so they're
waiting on implications to get them as I was informed." The Mayor
was glaring at him. "By the way, blaming my nephew for arms
dealing is fairly stupid as he doesn't. Now and then he'll find
something in a nest but he doesn't sell them." The Mayor
gasped. "We did a background check on all major figures when we
came in to solve that issue thanks to my nephew finding a relatively
large bomb in your warehouse district." He looked at the governor
again. "As discussed with the Department of Education people, we
have leant a few teachers to the school as theirs were without
accreditation or skills. Plus two were in that same military unit
to gather victims."
"That's fine," the governor said. "Should you really need to stay locally?"
"I'm on leave right now to help my nephew, sir. The other agents
could possibly be removed. They were called when we were
attacked." He smiled slightly at the Mayor. "I believe the
ones responsible have already been put before a judge." The Mayor
was glaring. He looked at the governor again. "I can send
the excess agents home as I'm sure all the problems will be solved."
"I'd hope so," he said, sneering at the Mayor. "Wilkins, you've
given me heartburn for years now. Now that I know why you're not
going to be in office again and the FBI is going to start investigating
your faulty policies."
"I've done nothing wrong," he said.
Phil smirked at that lie. "Really? Then why is there a
warehouse in your name that holds illegal gold coins and other stashes
to flee the country? The FBI agents were very interested in that
earlier today." The Mayor hopped up, nearly frothing at the
mouth. Phil gave him his best bland, pleasant agent look.
"It's illegal to own some of those by US and International law, Mayor
Wilkins. Though it's nice a few of them were from before the laws
were put into place. The agents thought the antique coins were a
lot nicer to look at. Very shiny as well. They praised your
cleaning of them even though that lowered the value of the antique
ones." He looked at the governor. "Would you like me to keep
the two agents in as teachers?"
"Please. With what they said, the school's about to be taken
over. I don't know why they didn't do it immediately.
Especially after meeting with this Mayor." He glared at him then
at the agent. "How soon will that group be gotten?"
"Long before my nephew's graduation but I'm here until then so I can
watch him walk." He smiled. "We got him to take the GED last
year but we'd still like him to get a diploma. It's more widely
"Yes it is." He shook his hand. "Earlier?"
"What about earlier?"
"I heard assault rumors?" Phil told him about what had happened
with the cheerleaders. And the later fight. The governor
smiled. "Sounds like your nephew's turning into a good man. I
hope you can recruit him as an agent. We could always use more
"A few of us have wanted to recruit him but he's not sure of his path
yet." He smiled. "I would let someone else handle him but I
think he'd do excellent at the training. He has with the training
I've snuck on him." That got a smirk from the governor. "If
you'll excuse me, I need to check on him. The soldiers had him in a
cage and he was joking about them having bats so I know he's injured
even if he won't admit it." He left the governor to glare at the
Mayor. He ran into a worried looking Willow, pulling her
aside. "Make sure the Mayor cannot harm the Governor." She
nodded, casting a protection. Phil walked off. He really did
have to talk to Xander about his temper problem. Not that he
didn't understand. He'd be angry too. Xander wasn't there
when he got home. "Hospital?" he guessed.
"Patrol," Barton said. "With Widow."
"Natasha can definitely handle patrol but why did Xander go?"
"He wanted to finish blowing off the fit from earlier," Clint said, staring at him. "I'm not sure if he's scary or not."
"I think it might depend on the day," Phil admitted. He gathered
what he needed and so did Clint so they could join the duo on
patrol. Buffy was huffy but she and Natasha were talking
weapons. Phil looked at them. "Buffy, Natasha is a very well
trained agent," he said quietly. "She's gone undercover and
handled many bad things." Buffy smiled at her for that. "You
can be mentored if you like. Natasha has seen some of the worst
of humanity and stopped it."
"I might like that. It's nice to have someone who realizes what I
do." They walked off talking. "Xander, why don't you go get a
"Because I'm going to finish my watching of a demon clan that just moved
in?" he said dryly. She turned to stare at him. He stared
back. "That way you can go beat things up and I'll have some
healing time from the jocks earlier."
"They didn't attack you," she snorted.
"Five of them pounced him by the house," Clint said. Buffy gaped at
him. Xander nodded. "Then he got into a fight with a few of
those soldiers who had bats. Which is why he should be at home."
"I can quietly sit and watch without seeing the pitying looks," Xander
said firmly. "I'm not helpless." He walked off past the
ladies. "I'll be by the Piers."
"Whatever," Buffy complained. "You should be in the ER."
"No thanks. Already handled it."
"What if a vampire gets you?" she snorted.
Xander looked at her then opened his jacket to show the stake, machete,
crossbow and bolts, and dagger. "I think I'm a bit slow but I can
deal with it. That way you don't have to worry about your
manicure." He walked off again, muttering this time.
She sighed and looked at Phil. "He's going to get hurt and I don't
want him to get hurt. That's why I don't want him on
patrol. He's *normal* and he keeps getting hurt because he can't
"I've taught him quite a lot of self defense recently," Phil said
blandly. He felt Clint shift behind him. "Also, normal is
relative and non-inclusive of those with fish DNA." Buffy
groaned. "Or that kept enough information from possessions to be
able to call them up now." He stared at her. "It may be your
duty but it's his choice to aid you and most of the past slayers
probably would've begged for help, Miss Summers. Even if they were
normal." He walked off. "I'll help him with that
scouting. Barton, help the ladies."
"Sure thing, boss." He looked at them. "What's our route tonight?"
Buffy stared at him. "What sort of agent are you?"
He smiled. "The special sort that they recruited when I was still
your age." Buffy gaped. "The sort that is *highly*
experienced with all sorts of bows, including crossbows. I'm also a
marksman." She slumped, staring at Natasha.
"I helped train him as an agent. He is an excellent one and one I
always appreciate at my back." They walked the younger girl
on. Maybe they could help her pull her head out of her ass.
Phil got the bad call a few weeks later. There was a critical
mission with his other agent. He had to handle it. He stared
at them. "Dietrich is about to be executed."
"Go get your agent," Xander said. "I can watch over myself, Uncle Phil."
"Natasha, can you please take him in? This safehouse isn't safe enough at the moment."
"I can and will. I have a nice apartment with a spare
bedroom." She smiled at the boy. "That way you actually do
"That's a waste of time. It really is," Xander complained.
"Yay," Phil quipped. He hugged him. "Behave. I'll call
in a few days when he's free." He packed and left. Natasha
was an excellent agent and could subtly ease Xander into taking the
proper training so his nephew didn't die from a bad patrol night.
She smiled at the other agents. "Do you have another one set
up?" They nodded. "Then let's scatter." They packed up
and she took the boy and his bag with her. Clint was in her
apartment making dinner. "Dietrich is in serious trouble," she
He nodded. "I heard. He need me?"
"He didn't say so." Clint called to make sure. He looked at Xander. "Relax."
"You guys should be guarding Buffy and her mom. They're vulnerable. I grew up a hood rat."
Clint shrugged. "So did I until I ran away to the circus."
Xander gaped. "I thought that was a myth that kids told each other."
"Not always." He smiled. "It's why I'm such a great shot though."
"Can you work on mine? Uncle Phil gave me that disappointed look
again the last time he took me." They nodded. Xander
grinned. "Thanks, guys." They smiled and Xander helped by
making dinner with Clint. He wasn't going to be a burden on her.
It took a week for Natasha to realize that Xander was not the innocent
young man he acted like. Nor was he the leche he pretended to be
when he stared at pretty girls. She wasn't sure if he liked girls
actually. Phil was no help, he was out of contact. She had
read over all the files she could on the boy. He wasn't exactly an
enigma but he wasn't what she thought a young teenage boy should
be. Even at seventeen. Even with bitchy girls surrounding
him to put him down, which he never seemed to let settle on him but she
had seen the slight flinch when a few had struck with a barbed
She and Clint had a few lunches over the boy and his needed
training. The boy was acting out. He was striving for
attention the wrong way. He was about to get it because Buffy had
demanded that he stay away from something that was going to happen
because it was too dangerous. They found out later what had
happened because they had went on patrol for Buffy.
Xander had pleaded homework. She should've looked in his
eyes. She would've seen it. The next morning, when she found
out what had happened, and about the talk with the zombie thanks to a
security camera in the hallway that had a good audio pickup, she staged
an intervention. She had seen Clint reach that point and
snap. He had nearly killed Phil when Phil had tried to get him
calmed back down.
She grabbed his arm and walked him off. "Let's talk about your
latest assignment, Xander. It was much better but you're still
going too shallow with it." She put them into her classroom and
locked the door. She turned to face him but he held up a hand and
plucked off the listening device. She snorted and pointed at the
jammer. "That will not work. They are pathetic."
"They run on magic instead of a battery, would that matter?"
"Probably not." She tossed them into her purse. She stared at him. "I heard."
She stared at him. "I hate it when people play stupid around me when they're clearly not."
Xander shrugged. "I'm not Willow or the geek trio. I'm not
really the brightest or sharpest crayon in the box either."
"You are much smarter than you put on." She pulled down her hair
and looked at him. "There is a camera right outside the boiler
room." He winced. "It was good that you got him to undo
it. The talk you had beforehand is a bit worrying." She
stared at him. "Are you really that depressed?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "I have no idea. I've learned a
lot about myself and some of it I'm not real happy with.
Including how often I let the bitches have a go at me and don't fight
back." She nodded, settling on her desk. Xander could pace
around, he often did while they talked. "Personally, I think my
uncles made a mistake. I'm not meant to be like them."
"You're a lot like your Uncle Phil. I've never met his brother but he says they're alike."
"They are. Paul's a bit louder."
"That happens when you have to be a covert agent." She stared at
him. "Beyond that, even if you don't think you can go into the
family business with your uncle, the training can still help you."
"Which I appreciate and all that, but they don't want the help. So
maybe I'll have to start over somewhere else. I don't know.
I really don't know and I'm not really sure I give a damn right
now. We're coming up on something huge again and we're so
fractured that we'll all die. And it's probably my fault."
"Not all your fault. I would have told that same lie."
Xander nodded, relaxing slightly. "Then again, I am more analytic
about things than emotional."
"I get that and all, but damn it it sucks. And he's back."
"I've noted that. They don't seem to mind."
"I'm wondering how Giles got over Angel torturing him." He looked
at her. "Then again, his books are missing from the book cage
Natasha nodded. "So you think someone has done something tampering?"
"I don't know. Really, I'm not sure if I should care."
"You should," she said. She shifted to cross her legs. She
noticed that Xander didn't look. "You had sex," she said with a
slight smile. She could always tell a virgin from an experienced
He snorted. "Yeah and it sucked ass too. A whole three
minutes and then she kicked me out because I had worked out her
"Faith?" she asked. He nodded. "Interesting choice." Xander gave her a pointed look. "Yours?"
"Hers. She was hot after a fight. I got yanked. And it
was pretty....fast. She was probably better than some in this
school because she had that fire going but...." He shrugged.
"Nothing to write home about. Not that I should probably talk to
you about that."
She smiled. "I have made many men want me that way as a cover,
Xander. I've taught junior agents the same thing." She got
up to walk closer to him. "Not everyone has a great first time,"
she said quietly.
"I'm not really sure if I see the point in it," he admitted.
"That's an entirely different matter. That may be because of the
depression you're showing." She tipped his chin up. "We will
work on that so you're healthy and you do not have to worry about going
into that battle alone," she said quietly. "Or else we wouldn't
still be here."
He nodded. "Maybe. I don't know. I'm screwed up right
now. I know I am." He shrugged and walked over to unlock the
door. "Busses are pulling in."
She stared at him. "I'll tell Clint you need a guy talk."
"I have no idea how guys talk, Natasha! The last time I had a guy I
could talk to we were talking about RC cars and boobs. He died
when we were fifteen because I ended up staking him."
She grimaced. "That is never an easy choice."
"Someone shoved him onto the stake." He looked at her. "I
can kinda understand about Buffy wanting to keep him. I would've
done about anything to have kept Jesse." He calmed himself
down. "But I can't and even without stepping back I can see all
the wrong that they're going through."
"It is," she agreed. "The least being the two century age
difference," she said dryly, making him grin. "We will figure it
out and start planning for graduation." He nodded, heading
out. She walked out, going down the gym. She smiled at
Clint, who was surrounded by cheerleaders. They all adored him
since he had stuck up for them. "Ladies, it's nearly class
time." They huffed but she smiled. "We have the pep rally
later as well." They smiled and went to talk about their
plans. She smiled at Clint, moving closer to pluck some hair off
his arm. "It hasn't been noted but Xander does not have a reliable
adult *male* role model," she said quietly.
He nodded. "I have noticed that. Especially when the girls
are talking to him and treat him like a really butch lesbian."
She looked at him. "It would be better if perhaps that was remedied."
"I can do that." He smiled. She smirked back and walked
off. He got the cheerleaders off to class instead of
practicing. The Troll was still in charge and he'd try to cancel
the pep rally. The kids needed the morale boost. He walked
out to find the principal sneering at the bomb. "Xander talked the
guy who set it into turning it off," he said bluntly, staring at
them. They turned to stare at him. "He found them planting
"Harris was looking sad earlier," one of the officers said.
"He's surrounded by bitches," Clint said bluntly. "He was still tired and trying to ignore them."
"Fine." The officers stared at him.
"We know you're an *agent*," the Troll sneered.
Clint smirked at him. "Yes I am. I'm one of the top rated
agents in the agency I work for and in the US. I've been doing it
since I was seventeen." The Troll shuddered and backed away from
him. "I doubt there's much that's going to phase me about
teenagers." The officers snickered but took the bomb off. He
stared at the principal. "For that matter, I'm working on
self-defense lessons against the jocks since they're clearly deficient
mentally." He walked off.
"We don't allow that here," the principal warned.
Clint looked at him. "Really? That's not in your handbook of rules." He went into the gym again.
"It's like watching an older version of Harris," the principal sneered,
going to look that guy up through the Mayor. He had very little
knowledge except that the guy was a sharp shooter of some sort and
supposed to be nearly perfect every single shot. Thankfully his
new literature sub wasn't one of those *agent* sorts. She didn't
even complain when he tried to flirt with her. She wasn't one of
those snobby pretty ones like Summers and Chase. She would
hopefully get their attitudes unscrewed too. Or at least teach
them to be better women.
Xander looked up as someone new walked up to the classroom door.
He was in Lit and the teacher had noticed him. Xander was staring
at him. When the bell rang, he was first up and out there, staring
at him. "Sir, all visitors have to report to the office," he
said. "So why are you glaring at my teacher?"
"You're real protective, kid. I like that." He smirked
meanly. Xander shifted for the rest of the class to run out for
their lockers and then lunch. "I just wanted to stop and see an
"Uh-huh. That's not what it looks like."
"Xander, it's probably her boyfriend or something," Chase said dryly.
Xander looked at her. Then at him. "Really?"
"No, he's not," Natasha said. "Though I do know him. Xander,
do not harm him. He won't harm me or the other students."
Xander snorted. "Sure he won't." The guy smirked.
Xander decked him. "I'm sorry, leaches should be in the football
field's west endzone with the swamp."
Natasha smiled at him. "That's a very good punch, Xander.
Thank you." He grinned. "Go eat. I made sure you had a
lunch today." He bounced out. She looked down at him.
"That is Coulson's nephew," she said dryly.
"You know there's a price on his head, right?" he asked from the
floor. He stood up with a groan. "He's not real strong but
he had a good swing."
"You're lucky he only decked you," Cordelia said smugly, strolling off. "I'll tell the hotty in the gym that he's here."
"Please do not. He'll get hit again," Natasha said patiently. She looked at the other agent. "Why are you here?"
"Coulson's not answering calls."
"He went after Dietrich."
"We know." Barton came humming up the hallway. "Spreading
important news. Coulson's not answering," he said quietly.
"Last we heard, Dietrich was captured by some funny looking cultists."
"So demons?" Clint asked. The other agent gave him a funny
look. "You should see this town at night." He looked at
Natasha. "Do you have anyone down there?" he asked, making sure
they weren't being watched. The camera in the hall was
disabled. They made sure each and every morning.
"Not at the moment. I used to but he died." They shared a
look. "Spring break is in a week. If we had a spotter to get
us information we could head in, handle it, and get back with days to
Clint nodded. "Still, that's almost a full week."
"You do not have Friday classes," she reminded him. "I can ask for a day off. That cuts it down to three days."
"I still don't like it. If they're cultists they could be planning a sacrifice before then."
"I know an agent a few countries over. I'll see if they have
anything." Clint nodded. She smiled at the agent.
"Anything to hand on?" He handed over an envelope. "Thank
you." He nodded and left. She looked it over then handed it
"I guess I'll have to push back the guy talk I scheduled with Xander tomorrow night."
"Why tomorrow?" she asked. "He didn't say he was doing something important tonight."
"He's going on patrol."
"The girls are being icy to him again today," she said quietly.
He nodded. "I noticed. No clue. I was going to trail him."
"Do so." She went to gather her lunch and eat outside so she could
keep watch on the children. She sat down with the cheerleaders to
talk to them about not looking quite so slutty. They really did
need taste outside of Cordelia.
Clint showed up at Natasha's door. "He's playing kitten
poker. Did you get anything?" She nodded, handing over what
little information they had. "So demons sacrificing warriors to
bring back their mean god. Okay then." He handed it
back. "The locals?"
"Cowed. They're living on the backs of some drug lords that had
taken over the area. I'm not sure how they got the drug
lords. Most of them are highly religious and not into demons or
"There's always an exception," he complained. "Anything on their compound?"
"Slightly. We have a map to it." She laid it out.
"That came from a European source. They had lost an agent to them
as well." Clint nodded, studying it.
Clint noticed the absence the next morning and nearly groaned. Of
course the kid had to get into trouble when they had to leave to save
his uncle. Which was a predicament. Maybe Buffy? Well,
maybe not Buffy since she was ragging on Xander abandoning her last
night. "Where did he go instead?" he asked.
She jumped and looked at him. "I don't know. He said
something about getting information on something huge." She
grimaced. "He totally blew me off. He was supposed to drive
me to the mall later."
"How about we buy you a mule you can abuse and name it PMS?" he offered,
staring at her. "It might be better for everyone." He
walked off. Xander was getting information about 'something big'
with demons. He leaned into Natasha's classroom. "Did Xander
She considered it. "I did not hear him," she realized. "Where was he?"
"He's not here. Last I knew he was playing demon poker and Buffy
said he blew her off to get some information from the circuit."
Natasha stared. "He wasn't watching."
"No, he wasn't. It's probably about something big coming up around here."
"Okay, if you're sure. Do you know how to play kitten poker?"
"No, I do not. I should remedy that."
"I think we both should," he said with a grin. He went back the
gym since the students were being let inside. Xander wasn't that
Xander stared at the head demon. "You have no right to snatch agents."
"They were all military, therefore warriors," he said.
"Not all military people are warriors. Some of them are geeks.
They do computers or use planes to run surveillance. Not all of
them did fieldwork."
"That is true. We do question them to make sure before we keep and prepare them."
"There's better warriors out there."
"Yes but they are usually protected by another higher source." He stared at him. "You are quite brave."
Xander smiled. "Yes, I am." He dropped something that didn't
break as he had planned. So he stomped on it. The demons
laughed until one started to choke. "And I'm creative." He
grinned. "You really shouldn't have stolen my uncle." He
jogged off, finding Phil. He was in a cell looking
miserable. He was bruised, cut, and looked like he had been
tortured, which he probably had. "C'mon, we gotta go."
"I need to find my agent, then we'll be talking," he said, accepting
help up off the bare floor. "What are you doing here?"
"Fucking up their plans. I do a great job of it," he said dryly. "What does he look like?"
"Blond, tall, fit." He looked around, limping toward a containment chamber. "We need him out of here."
Xander looked. "If we release him he could die." His uncle
glared at him. "We can move it with the pod if you can get us
help. I was going to call on another demon to make us a portal but
the charm he gave me feels dead."
Phil looked at it. "It's hair."
"It was green hair." He looked at it then at him. "If we
have to, we'll find a wheelbarrow and get him out of here with
you." He checked. "It's got feeding tubes."
"We need to kill the demons," Phil said.
Xander nodded. "I let the radioactive silver do it for me. A
few might still exist." He handed over a gun with a grin.
"I got creative."
"How did you get radioactive silver?"
"I paid someone hugely to make it glowy for me." Phil stared at
him. Xander shrugged. "It was my first blow job. Apparently I
wasn't horrible at it. It was important because you were being
held captive so we'll let you nag me about it later, Uncle Phil.
Okay?" he said in a rush, moving to look at the other pods. A few
were nearly changed over. Phil found a cellphone and called in
some help. He grabbed Xander. "I need to look at that."
"You don't. You need to stay here with me to help me protect
them." He stared at him. "Then you can disappear.
Tonight, I'm going to have someone pull some of your DNA to see if
you're related to Barton."
Xander shrugged. "Probably not." People rushed in but they
were other demons. Xander blinked. "Hi, guys."
"Puny hellmouth knight," one sneered and pulled up a gun. Xander
slung something at them and moved him and his uncle behind one of the
pods. The pretty little thing he had gotten off the local arms
dealer last night went off prettily. It only stunned them but it
gave them time to get out of harm's way and fire back. "You will
"We're just trying to get home," Xander quipped. "I already weakened or destroyed the ones that had my uncle."
"That will help our plans but you will make a good sacrifice to our own Goddess."
Xander popped his head up. "Not really. Had sex now.
It was really fast and not real great but not a virgin.
Sorry." He ducked down. "If you help us get these nice
agents, my uncle, and myself out of here, you can loot this base to your
"We would still like to keep you," another of them laughed. "You have many uses."
Xander looked around the pod at him. "Not really according to the
slayer. Then again, I don't listen to girls." They growled
and tried to lunge but Xander led them away from his uncle. Phil
had to shoot two of them, he heard him do it. They ran into a
weakened demon that was here originally and Xander ducked and slid so
they could attack each other. They did but then teamed up to get
"Just fucking brilliant," he muttered. "I need to learn how to
plan better." He found the armory but it was locked. He
killed the two that found him, using the local one's blood to open
it. That gave him the weapons the agents had been holding.
They were almost all full so that helped. He jogged back to Phil's
side, handing him half of them then taking off to lead the other demons
after him. He only heard Phil shooting one more time before
Xander managed to trick the last one into running out a window to grab
him. Xander came back down and stared at his uncle. "So,
anyway, you any worse?"
"No," he said. "Who did you have sex with?"
"Is this really the time and place?" he asked dryly.
"Until we can get a rescue, yes."
"Faith was post-fight hot. Took all of three minutes and she nearly choked me. Nothing to write home about."
Phil stared at him. "You could've made it better for her."
"She pounced me," he said bluntly, staring at him. "Not that I had
time to do more than squeak and then hold on for dear life." He
grimaced. "Beyond that, not the time." He looked
around. The charm in his hand was coming back to life.
"That's good." He heard help coming in via helicopter and looked
at his uncle. He made sure. "It's your people because it's a
SHIELD on them all." He waved. "See you soon. Get
better, Uncle Phil." He disappeared. The demon stared at
him. "His fellow agents were showing up to help. Thank
you." He hugged him and walked off.
The demon stared at the strange human's back. Then he shrugged it
off. Harris had paid him well for his help. That's all that
mattered to him.
Phil looked up as agents rushed in. "Dietrich is in that pod," he
said with a point. "He's only halfway changed over. Xander
said the pod probably can't be opened without killing him." They
nodded and techs ran in to check the pods over while medics got him and
the agents secured the building. He winced as he stood up, looking
at the director as he stomped in. "I need to paddle
someone. Do you still have that paddle that got used on that
"It's in my desk for the next time I get an idiot." He stared at him. "You good?"
"Been better." He tipped his head in the other direction to pop
his neck. "Xander was very helpful getting me free and taking out
the other demon clan that showed up." The director stared, mouth
slightly open. "Apparently he got some demonic help to get here to
save me. Then his plans had to change."
Fury nearly swallowed his cigar. "Really." Phil nodded
once. The medics were laying an IV and urging him to lay down on
the stretcher. "I want to beat him myself. He left you?"
"We saw you coming in and the charm to get him home was working
again." He blinked hard. "I don't need the painkillers."
"Bull," the head medic said. "You need more than we're giving you,
Agent Coulson." They carried him off. The medics got him
evacuated and came back for the people in the pods. An agent had
found the armory open and their wallets or ID cases in them. Only
two didn't have anything. So they'd be able to tell their people
and hopefully figure out how to reverse the change.
Fury walked out after the pods were removed. He was still fuming
and sent a direct order to Barton to paddle the kid and then handcuff
him so his uncle could do the same when he got out of the infirmary in a
Clint's phone rang and he looked at it. "Coulson's fine," he told Natasha.
She took the phone to look at, grimacing. "Xander?" she
called. He had shown up to shower and change clothes. No
answer. They checked, he was asleep. They shared a look and
she handcuffed him to the bedframe. "We need to make sure he's not
related to you," she said with a grin for him.
He shoulder-nudged her. "He's more insane than I am. I would've brought more backup."
"I taught you well," she agreed. They'd be sitting right outside
of Xander's room until he woke up. They clearly needed to have a
talk with the boy about how he had done what he had done. Then
they could paddle him for any transgressions. They had many ways
of making men talk, they were nearly experts in it.
Phil looked up as his boss walked into his infirmary room. "It's nice they gave me the same one Xander had been in."
"Everyone else who stays in here feels creeped out that they were in the
same bed as a civilian." He stared at his senior agent.
"How much do you want the kid recruited?"
"I think he'd do a very good job," Phil said, starting to sound
tired. "But I don't think he understands what it really
means. He's thinking zebras instead of the more mundane horses."
"That's probably true. Most new recruits do." He put his
hands in his pockets and looked at him. "Think he would if we
didn't send him back there?"
"I think he's determined it's his duty even if the slayers don't want him there."
Fury grimaced. "That's a lot like you."
"He's more like Paul, sir."
"He's loud like him. He's sneaky like you are. You taught
him the wrong things." Phil smirked slightly. "Beyond that,
if we're recruiting him, I'm assigning his training agent. She can
get to work with him tonight."
"Everyone compares your nephew to Barton so I'll let the one that best
handles Barton do it." He smirked evilly. "Romanoff
shouldn't mind *much*. Especially with you and Barton helping when
you can." He walked off happier.
"I'm not sure if I should apologize to Natasha or not," Phil mused,
staring at the ceiling. One Barton drove her nuts. Having a
second version with even more ancient weapons was going to make her quit
the agency and huff off.
Clint managed to find the kid the next day at lunch. He had
skipped out while he was in the shower and Natasha was making
breakfast. He had missed PE and Lit class both. Their fellow
agent in the science classroom said he had skipped him too. Clint
handed over a wrapped bowl. "From dinner last night. If you
had just come home, we would've fed you." He grinned.
"Thanks. I was exhausted."
"That's because you were doing stupid shit that's our job." Clint
rested his arms on the table, staring at the kid. "Though your
uncle's fine." Xander nodded he knew that. "They even gave
him the same room in the infirmary you snuck out of last time."
"Cool." He ate a bite and smiled. "She did great. I can't even taste the veggies in here."
"She does, yeah." Clint stared at him. "Make a decision,
kid. Taking the training or not?" he asked more quietly, glancing
"I still need to be here for patrol."
Clint stared at him. "Not a conflict right now."
"What if I go through it and don't like being an agent?"
"Then you come back here to patrol," he said dryly. "And use it to protect other cheerleaders."
Xander nodded. "Then I'd like some work on why I trip."
"That's a growth thing and there's ways to compensate. We'll start
doing it in gym class because others could use it too." He stared
at him. "Though you're on your own with Natasha and the homework
"Already done. Did it before I went to play cards." He ate
another bite, looking at him. "Why did you want to talk anyway?"
"A guy talk, Xander. You know, about guy things? Being a
male role model is hard, but I can fill in since I'm here and your
uncle's one of my favorite assholes."
"He can be, yup." He ate another bite then nodded. "That
might be nice." He looked around then at him. "Why did she
try to choke me?" he asked quietly.
Clint shook his head. "Some girls are like that. We'll go over all that stuff."
"I had health class."
"Yeah, I saw their version. It's wrong. That's why there's so many teenage pregnancies here."
"That and the life expectancy of thirty-two. So we're technically middle aged for this town."
"That's a depressing thought." He stared at him. "You going to skip the rest of the day?"
"No one else in my afternoon might handcuff me." One of the girls
at the nearby table gasped. He looked at her. "I broke
curfew. Woke up in handcuffs this morning." She cackled and
told the others. He looked at him. "Don't do that again."
"Yay." He smirked. "If you need it or deserve it, you'll get
it again." He stood up. "See me after classes. "We
can talk while I fix that ineffectual door that lets in things all
night." He walked off to talk to Natasha. She had been
watching. That was good. Maybe they'd make the kid less
angry too. Though he really wanted to check on the kid's
family. Something there was reminding him of home in a bad
way. Since he had a free period, he went to check on them.
They were drunks, which Xander had noted. They were mean drunks
but his father wasn't smacking his mother around like Clint's had.
They were risky drunks, they invited him in to talk about their poor,
lost, probably dead son. He told them he wasn't at the end of
their talk and they got really mad. Apparently they had taken out
insurance on the kid. Clint went back to the school, wiping at the
stink that was now all over him. He had to change clothes before
he had flashbacks to his own youth.
Xander came in from his long talk with Clint blushing when he spotted
Natasha. She smiled. "That's a normal reaction but we are
going to talk about other things. Like not telling us when you run
off to do things." She pointed at the couch. "Sit."
He slumped down onto it. "If you had told us, we would've went
"I wasn't sure if he could do more than two and that would mean leaving someone there."
"We could have gotten our own way made," Clint said, sitting in the other chair.
"I doubt you wanted to pay for it," Xander said with a grimace.
"While I have done that in the past on the job, it is not my favorite
means of payment," Natasha said, staring at him. Clint nodded he
had too. "We could have arranged other payment."
Xander shrugged. "I didn't even consider it. You guys are
kinda stuck here helping us. It was clearly a hard thing since they sent
Uncle Phil to rescue his agent and not anyone else."
"That was part of it, but handlers feel a lot of responsibility for the
agents they oversee," Clint said. "Me and Natasha have had
Coulson handling us since we started the job. It gets like a tight
knit group. Thankfully we don't have to work with many other
handlers very often but you get close. You learn how to read all
their little tells and moods."
"So like what I had with Buffy before she snapped?"
Natasha nodded. "Basically. It's the difference between a
team and a group working together." She stared at him. "That
sort of trust is rare in the field and having it at your back often
means you come home when things are at the worst."
"Which you won't be seeing for *years*," Clint said.
"I think I pretty well see a lot of that," Xander said, pointing at the
window. "We've had an apocalypse battle each spring." They
grimaced. "Sorry but truth. Even if I'm backup guy, I was
"Which is a good thing," Natasha agreed. "We can build on those
experiences and correct any unusual reactions that won't help you in
either field. Killing a human isn't exactly like killing a demon."
Clint put a hand on her arm. "Nat, he had a situation like Borkins."
She shivered. "That is one thing we never want to have
happen." She looked at him. "Usually after traumatic
incidences there's mandatory therapy."
"In this case, it was like everyone forgot," Xander said dryly, staring
at her. "Including Willow, who had known us since
kindergarten. If you ask her now, she might not remember much
"Which sucks," Clint said. "Most people would remember.
Everywhere but here." Xander shrugged and shifted to curl up
some. "Sit up."
"I meant actually sit up," Clint said, staring at him. "We need to
work on your flexibility and stamina." He looked at Natasha
again. "She tried to choke him."
"That's not what I would want to have happen for a first time.
Perhaps we'll find someone nicer who will show you how it's supposed to
be." Xander went bright red. She smiled. "Not me."
"I think you're more dangerous than the usual ones. At least
Ampata only killed to keep her form looking normal." He fled to
"Ampata?" Natasha asked him.
"Heard the girls ragging on him about a mummy girl? Her. She drained lifeforce to stay human looking and alive."
Natasha stared at him. "I heard something about a shape changing teacher."
"Science sub." He grinned. "If you had subbed in there, people probably would've freaked out more."
"She only wanted virgins to fertilize her eggs," Xander called. "We were in tenth grade."
"She was a giant praying mantis," Clint said. "She'd rip their heads off afterward."
"I can say I'm not one of those. I don't tend to rip heads off."
"Just heart's out," he quipped, getting slapped for it. "And
sometimes spleens or spines." He got up. "Kid, dinner?"
Clint leaned into the kid's bedroom. "Sorry, trainees have to eat
all meals until SERE training." He smiled. "Then you get to
decide to eat."
"I saw that through Uncle Phil's memories and I've eaten worse when my
mother tried to cook the few times she did. Besides, I'm kinda
tired." Clint came in to check him over. No fever. No
spots. "Probably another growth spurt."
"Maybe." He went back to deal with dinner with Natasha. They'd save Xander some.
That was, if the geeks in labcoats didn't take him. Which did not
please Natasha. Clint wasn't amused when he got the first one
stomping in either. "Who are these morons?" she demanded icily.
"I'm thinking they're part of the geeks that showed up when he was eight," Clint said.
"Our experiment is nearly ready to come back to us," one said in a snotty tone of voice.
Clint grinned. "Hi, I'm with SHIELD." The geeks all
fled. The few bodies they called in. Not like the local PD
would pick them up. Fury himself showed up the next morning.
"Director," Natasha said. "What project was he sacrificed to?"
"All I've heard is that they were looking for gifts," Fury complained. He looked around. "School?"
"It's Saturday, he's still in bed," Clint said. "He fell asleep
pretty hard last night. Didn't even hear them come in." Fury
rolled his eyes. "Might be because of them."
"Could be." The team got the bodies down to the van and took
off. He'd take the SUV with the guard agents. "Anything
Clint shook his head. "Not really, sir."
"Where is he on the training levels?"
Clint shrugged. "He still tries to hide things so he has an
apparent edge. Cresin said he did the same thing with him."
"Can't you two break that?"
"Just barely moved him here, sir."
"Tell me in two weeks how many years it'll take." He walked off grimacing.
Xander came out yawning. "I'm having cannibal imps crawl up his
butt." The two assassins stared at him. "They're really nice
and they like to clip my toenails for me." He smiled as he headed
for the fridge. Clint walked him from the kitchen to the
bathroom. "I'll shower in a minute."
"We're going to be doing a body check for injuries, scars, and things
like that." He grinned. "Any tattoos to declare?"
"I hate needles. Why would I?"
"Some guys get them to remember important things. I have one
overtop of my first gunshot wound scar. So does your uncle."
Xander shook his head. "No thanks." He went to shower.
He was sweaty. Though he was hungry for some reason.
Natasha came in with some paper on a clipboard and with plastic
gloves. He stared at her. "Got the naughty nurse outfit
too?" he quipped.
She smirked. "You wish. At least I don't have to do a body
cavity search. If you should escape to do something like that
rescue without telling us, I will arrange to have someone do one for me
while I watch." Xander moaned. She smiled. "I know,
very mean of me."
"I've mentioned all my ex's are kinda mean, right?" he asked her with a smirk.
"We'll talk about them later, though at least I am human."
"So was Cordelia. Or I'm supposing so anyway. Unless there's really a planet Cranky Bitch."
"Not that I'm aware of but we'll check." She pulled him into the
better light in the hallway and put on the gloves. Clint took
notes as she found each tiny scar. "We can bleach most of these
out. Though." She looked at one on his side again, making
him shift away from her touch. "Ticklish?"
"Yes. Please don't. I'll pee."
She looked up at him. "Surgery?"
He looked then at her. "Willow did some of her first stitches on
that. I was eight and had gotten between Mom and the chicken she
was trying to butcher while it was frozen. I got told later that
the knife slipped since it was frozen and hit me upstairs in my
bedroom." Clint snapped the pencil he was using. Xander
looked at him. "Calm down."
"I visited. They thought you were dead and had taken out life insurance on you."
"I heard. The insurance guy likes to flirt with me." He
smiled. "I changed the beneficiary to Buffy's mom." They
smirked at him for that bit of deviousness. "Do we have to do more
"You'll be getting a routine physical to make sure there's nothing we
have to worry about handling," Natasha said, taking off the gloves.
"You're calling in someone from somewhere else, right? Because no
one in town is going to come near me with a needle. One health
department nurse did for a tetanus shot at school. Then the nice
paramedics calmed me down with some valium after I had shoved the needle
in her ear. Twice." They were giving him funny looks so he
shrugged a bit, blushing a tiny bit while looking sheepish. "They
won't even see me in the ER anymore. And I was only twelve.
Thankfully, Willow had her mom's medical textbooks and I learned from
them too. I'm actually pretty good at stitching my own
injuries." Natasha took the pen and clipboard from Clint before he
broke them both. "Sorry?"
Clint pulled him into his room. "Let's get a history of all those. That way maybe we can do something."
Xander snorted. "Here? Our beloved PD doing something about child abuse? Like hell," he said dryly.
"Some of them may be felony or federal charges," Clint said happily.
Xander shrugged. "That geek guy thing?"
"Speaking of, they tried to break in last night."
"Huh. They never come near me but I've seen a few watching me in the past."
"Any idea who they were?"
Xander shook his head. "No. They said they were with UCLA or
something. They kept giving me this grape knock out
medicine. I didn't really see much of them. Lasted like six
weeks. If you ask Willow she might remember."
"I can do that. Anything else like that?"
"You might ask Uncle Paul. He told me once that he had to step in when they almost sold me to some Armenians."
Clint nodded. "I'll get his number from your other uncle."
He went to call his phone and leave a voice message. Natasha gave
him a pat on the arm but he was calm. He'd make sure no other kid
ever went through that around him but he was calm. They had
rescued Xander before he turned into his parents.
Phil got handed his phone by the nurse. He looked at the new
voicemail message, dialing in to listen to it. He moaned and sent a
text to Paul. Paul had the files on who they were and the
Armenians. Phil had been on military assignment during both of
Hopefully Natasha would help Barton get calm again.
Natasha blinked as a tidy pile of notes inside a journal got handed to
her by a guy who walked past her seat and into the school. They
heard someone scream and Willow came running out to hide behind her.
Paul came back out grinning. "Willow girl, what did we talk about with your theft of magic books?"
"I'm *borrowing*!" she shouted.
"Without permission, girl." He stared at her. "Let's talk."
"Hell no! You're mean!"
"Me or Phil, young lady. And he's in a crappy mood because he's
healing injuries." Willow whimpered and shook her head. She
looked around, finding Xander, who wasn't looking at her. "He
didn't have a thing to do with it, Willow. I went looking to make
sure you didn't backslide." He stared at her. "Now, let's go
talk, young lady."
"I'm not doing anything harmful!"
"Bullshit." Willow flinched. He grabbed her arm and walked
her off. "I heard about the temporal thing and the not-you."
"But...." she said. "That was months ago!"
He stared at her. "After our talk and you're still snatching
books. I found your stash above the library again." She
shook her head quickly. "Yeah, dummy. You checked the books
out in your own damn name." She started to cry.
"Whiny." He slammed her against his car and opened the door with a
point. "In." She climbed in and buckled up. He got in
"Wow, Uncle Paul's mad," Xander quipped from his seat.
Cordelia looked over. "Ya think?" she asked sarcastically.
"Uncle Phil was a bit peeved that the scientists from when I was a kid
showed back up." He grinned. She shivered. "So maybe
they'll have a talk together." He almost cackled.
"Phil will be in town again tomorrow," Natasha said quietly. "He
and you get to have a talk first, Xander." Cordelia cackled.
"For saving him without leaving us at least a note telling us it was
handled." That stopped the cackling and Cordelia stared at Xander
like he was unusual.
Xander shrugged. "Seemed like the thing to do when a demonic cult
took him." He sipped his milk and got up to toss out his
trash. "Ah, freedom." He grinned. "Study hall all
"You have in-school suspension, Harris, and you didn't show up this
morning," Snyder said from behind him. "That means five days of
Xander looked at him and shrugged. "Okay. So hey, I get a nap."
"We're going to put you to work."
"You're not allowed. You don't have a work permit for me or
permission from my 'rents." He grinned. "And I'm not forging their
signature any more." He strolled off. "Beyond that, there
was no notice given and no reason given."
"I don't need a reason," he sneered.
Xander stared at him. "Really? Ya think?" He
grinned. "Prove it." Snyder stomped closer to him.
Xander stared at him.
"Really, must we do this?" Natasha asked, turning the page of her book
without looking up. "The boy has been good all day, Principal
Snyder. He even turned in a B quality paper to me on a book he'd
read without my prompting." She looked up at him. Snyder,
like all men, fell for the pretty woman act.
"Fine, then it's detention."
Xander shrugged. "For what? Going to classes? I'd like
to see you spin that to the audit people." Snyder went pale and
he grinned back. "I saw them. Someone gave them my
disciplinary file too." Snyder huffed off more quickly.
"Thank you, Miss Rushman."
"Welcome, Xander. You still owe me another paper on that Ian
Flemming book however. Go check it out before you forget."
"Sure." He went to the library to look that up. Giles gave
him a curious look. "Just got assigned another book report.
Hold on, James Bond was a book? Huh." He went to find that
section, finding three of them. He came down to check them out and
then went to his study halls. At least he had time to read.
Giles stared at the boy's back, looking confused. "I've never seen
him pick up a book to read. I wasn't certain he could read," he
admitted to himself. "Apparently Miss Rushman is quite
inspirational." He made sure the cards were filed properly and
went back to his desk. He'd seen more male students coming in for
books from her than he had in the last few years.
Interesting. He wondered what her secret was and if he could use
it on Buffy.
Buffy huffed when Xander's report got a better grade than hers did. "How did you do that?" she hissed.
"He didn't do a book report on the movie," Natasha said dryly,
continuing to pass out papers. "Perhaps if you did the same, and
did some spell checking, yours would be higher, Miss Summers." She
sat down on the front of her desk again, crossing her legs.
"Overall, nicely done." The students smiled at her. "Our
next one is due to come on Wednesday. So until then, you are to
read anything random you want that is shorter than the Bible or anything
by Mr. King. Give me a two page report on Wednesday." They
groaned. She smiled. "Do not attempt to use a children's
book either. At least a hundred pages, any book you already like
would do." A few of the girls still looked put out.
"Yes, the ladies may use a trashy romance novel as long as it has more
plot than a pirate getting in her panties. Yes, the boys can use
science fiction or fantasy novels as long as it has more plot than the
knight getting in the damsel's panties." She smiled at the
students. "All right? Go a bit early but don't get caught,
children." They ran off to lunch. She smiled at Buffy.
"It's not that hard to read twenty pages a night. You can read it
to yourself when you're brushing your teeth or in the bathroom.
You could also get the books on tape version and have it playing while
you're in the shower." She stared at her. "Yes, I'm very
harsh on how bad it was. You have more brains than that piece of
"I'm not like Willow."
"I don't expect you to be like Willow, who got a very bad grade because
she over exposed, over thought, and over wrote the report. She handed me
twelve pages on that book and went into symbolic interaction between
the character's thoughts."
"Oh, hey, her mom's home again," Buffy said with a grimace. "Puts a
hold on our girls' night thing then." She shook her head.
"Yes. Even your specialness has to read. It's good and you
may learn something. That's why I pick the books I do,
Buffy." She stared at her. "Training comes in many forms."
"I guess. Anything I've already read?"
"As long as I can find a copy somewhere to look it over for correctness. Also, your spelling was atrocious."
"I typed it up that morning," she sighed.
"There's a spell checker. It takes ten minutes. Make notes
as you read so you don't have to struggle so much."
Buffy nodded, heading out to listen to Willow complain about her first D
ever. Buffy sat down with a huff. "She suggested I could
book-on-tape it in the shower." Willow stopped complaining at Oz
to stare at her. "She said you over thought and turned into your
mother. How did you turn a four or five page paper into a twelve
"Mom said she couldn't have wanted it to be that simplistic." She
pouted, looking at the ton of notes. There were three new pages of
outlined notes. Including critiquing her theories. She
groaned. "She's some super genius or something."
"I think she just likes to read," Buffy said.
"Maybe." She tucked it into her bag. "Mom won't be happy and I'll be grounded."
"Have her have tea with Miss Rushman," Xander said as he walked around
them. "Mr. Barton had a talk with my parents when he was starting
to worry about a few things." He tossed out his trash.
"Xander," a familiar voice called.
Xander turned and grinned. "Uncle Phil!" He jogged over to give him a hug. "Are you better?"
"I got a B. An actual, earned B." He grinned. "On a book report!"
"Congratulations." He walked him back inside. "Willow."
"Hi, Uncle Phil," she said weakly. "Can you shoot my mother so I can escape?"
He looked back at her. "We'll see. I nearly did when she
went to Helsinki and left you home alone that time." He walked him
inside, getting a hug from Cordelia as well. "Thank you,
Cordelia." She grinned. "I'm fine. They were all very
minor injuries." She gave him a pointed look. "Really, they
"Uh-huh. Then you wouldn't have needed the Dork King to rescue
you." She walked outside. "Rosenburg, if you're going to
wear something that shiny, for the love of all shiny things, sit out of
the sun! You're a reflective surface and we're all getting too
much tanning time in." Willow slumped down and changed to sit next
to Oz. "Thank you!" She sat down to eat her own
lunch. Harmony was pouting. "You're reading a romance
novel. She said that was fine."
"It has a plot like that." She grimaced. "It's more for smutty reading."
Oz looked over. "DeSade," he said. They stared at him. "Graphic, plot, intellectual but smut."
"Does Mr. Giles have it?" Harmony asked.
"Third shelf toward the window, halfway up it," Willow quipped, looking
over. "It's alphabetical in that section and he has two books by
"Huh." She went to look. Giles gave her a strange
look. "I need something to read for a book report. Has to be
over a hundred pages but easy enough I can do a report on it. Oz
suggested it because right now I'm only reading for smut."
"He does have some very...unusual and interesting ideas about sexual
mores," Giles said dryly. "I'm not certain you'd find it pleasing
"I can at least try it. Right?"
"Of course. It's both deep and simple in its own way." He
checked it out for her with a smile. "Try it tonight, bring it
"I have a date," she complained.
He stared at her. "You can read while you do your hair, Harmony."
"Oh, I didn't think about that." She went back outside to look it
over. She was idly flipping through and ran into a sex
scene. "Wow, way graphic. Why is he tied up?" She went
further back and got into the story. She missed her next class
reading. Got detention to read in too. Then she went to see
the teacher. "How would I do a book report on this?"
She looked at it. "I did not expect any of you to go for that sort
of literature, Harmony. A lot of what he writes about is
allegorical." Her face fell. "He assumes a connection
between all of humanity or the culture he lived in. So when he's
talking about what his main character is doing, he's more stating what
every man would do."
"Oh." She considered that. "I never met anyone who had sex like that."
She smiled. "There are some but they're not very open about it."
"I guess that makes sense. So it's about how animal and evilly
needy people can be?" The teacher smiled and nodded.
"Thanks!" She jogged off to go home. She could read more
while getting ready for her date if she used the hot curlers instead of
the curling iron, and it was better for her hair anyway.
Xander grinned at her from his corner seat. "Oz suggested it."
"Perhaps she'll find something interesting enough to study."
"I certainly am. I didn't know the Bond movies were really books."
She smiled. "I tailored it to what I know most boys like: violence, action, and pretty girls."
Xander grinned. "Kinda, yeah." She smirked a tiny bit. "I got one nearly read."
"Good boy. Write the report on that." He nodded and
grinned. "Spell checking, because yours was lacking. Give
"Thank you. Now go to Clint for your daily PT." He went to
do that. She smiled. The children were adoring reading, it
was something they should have gotten back in first grade but she was
happy they were opening their minds finally. The principal walked
in stinking of too much aftershave and looking freshly showered.
"Principal Snyder. Is there a problem?"
"Harris actually got a B?"
"He did a delightful report on the book that included a lot of
projection of the characters. With a bit of coaching he's learned
how to write much better reports." She smiled slightly. "A
lot of my students have learned to like some of the more classical
"What are you doing next?"
"The _Art of War_." He shivered. "I think the girls will
find the instruction something they can use when they're in
relationships with someone who does something...unliked. The boys
would probably like it as most boys their age like action movies.
It's a bit flowery and more complicated though so it will make them
"I'm sure they'll appreciate that," he snorted. "The cheerleaders?"
"They all mostly got good grades. Only one C in the group.
They did earn them. I don't let anyone slide with shoddy
performance." He shivered again and she smiled a bit more broadly.
"They all seemed to like the Dracula spin-off novel last time.
I'm good at picking interesting books that appeal to their teenage
"I guess you're good at picking up on what men really want to see," he said smoothly.
She smiled. "I am but my first love is still a library." He
slumped a bit. "I do not mean to raise hopes. I would need
someone who would like to live with my three thousand books at my true
He swallowed. "We don't have that many in the library here."
"We have some similar books. I do enjoy English and Russian
literatures." He nodded. "I was reading Tolstoy last night
while making dinner. Fascinating historical viewpoints, don't you
"I haven't read him since high school I don't believe. I'll have
to pick up a new copy." He smiled and left. She was
apparently a bit frigid. Though she laughed and interacted well
with men. "Must be a lesbian," he muttered as he went back to the
Natasha smiled at the empty doorway, spraying some febreeze to take the
aftershave smell out of her room. She took her current book to the
gym to watch Xander and Clint spar or whatever since they were playing
basketball. Clint was being aggressive without seeming to
be. It was a good lesson for the boy to learn how to mimic.
Phil sat next to her. She smiled at him. "Good afternoon."
"Good afternoon." He watched them. "Xander seems much calmer," he said quietly.
"He hides it well. He has many masks that we've noted." Xander glanced over. "He's going to knock you over."
"Buffy and Cordy both think I should hit on him," Xander quipped,
cracking Clint up, which let him steal the ball and make a really
pathetic shot. Clint stopped him and taught him how to shoot a
basketball properly. That helped and he let Xander shoot a few
times until he made one then the game was back on.
"Xander, dropping your right shoulder," Phil instructed. "He's
going to use it soon to knock you down." Xander tried, he really
did, but Clint did take advantage of it, though Xander didn't fully go
down. Phil smiled, watching the boys play.
"Dietrich?" she asked quietly.
He lost his smile. "They're not sure how to release him or turn
him back. His DNA is showing mixed as well." She
nodded. "I don't know."
"Ask a healer," Xander called.
"I can do that. The one you identified doesn't know."
"She's young. There's a senior healer in the private clinic I sent her to."
"I can get an appointment. Thank you, Xander." Xander shot him a grin then tackled Clint.
"Wrong game, kid."
Xander cackled and stole the ball to make a shot. "Ha! Three." He grinned.
"Not bad. Out of the blue and a foul but not bad."
"What's a foul?"
"You guys didn't play basketball?"
"We have these balls for dodge ball. The jocks played basketball while the rest of us stood around being bored."
"That's not how you play dodge ball," Clint complained. Xander
shrugged and pointed toward the office. "Yeah, I get that."
He went over the rules of basketball as they tried again.
Natasha smiled at Phil. "I had him give Xander the big boy talk as well."
"Thank you. I was going to." He relaxed, watching the boys
play. He was safe in here. The Troll was gone for the day to
meet the Mayor, which was being kept under surveillance. So he
could rest and finish healing.
Buffy walked in. "Wow, what are you two doing playing one-on-one?" she asked. "I thought this was his private PT time."
"It's teaching him things like how to be subtly forceful," Natasha said.
Xander gave her a funny look then Clint, who grinned and nodded.
"Huh. I didn't even realize that. Sneaky of you."
"Well, I am a great agent," he said with a grin, stealing the ball and
missing his basket because Buffy stole the ball. He looked at
her. "You played?"
"Heck no." She grinned. "I cheered at a lot of games
though and used to date one. He was kinda handsy. We broke
up when I had to burn down the gym full of vampires."
Clint nodded. "Seems like a good reason to burn down a gym to me." He took the ball back and made a shot.
"Hey, no fair!" Xander complained, grabbing the ball to take his
own. "Cheating is wrong. Willow and her mom both said so."
Buffy looked at their lit teacher. "He suggested you have a chat
with Willow's mom like Mr. Barton had one with Xander's parents."
Xander looked at him. "Did they threaten you too?"
"No, just got alcohol stink all over me." He stole the ball. "Two second rule, Xander."
"Crap." He stole it back and took a shot, which Buffy caught when it missed to toss back to him. "Thanks."
"Welcome." She walked up there. "Willow's mom thought you couldn't have wanted something so simplistic."
Natasha looked at her. "How many degrees does she have?"
"A doctorate in psychology."
Natasha nodded. "I thought I recognized her name on a book I laughed at."
"Yeah, they write books and go on lecture tours."
Phil looked at her. "I heard." Buffy grinned. "Have fun with that, Miss Rushman."
She smiled. "I shall." She got up and looked at Buffy.
"Escort me there as you're concerned about Willow's mental state?"
"She so ranted. She's never got that low in her life." She
escorted her to Willow's house, chatting about boys on the walk.
Willow's father answered the door. She grinned. "This is
Miss Rushman, the lit teacher. I was kinda worried because Willow
was so bummed about the bad grade so she offered to explain to her why
she got it."
"That's an excellent thing." He let them in. Buffy left
after a quick hiss in Willow's ear. "I hope you weren't expecting
to go out tonight, young lady."
"No, Buffy just told me that my bra's halfway hanging out." She
adjusted her sweater and sat down next to her teacher. "I've never
gotten that low of a grade, Miss Rushman."
"Most of your class does not have the experience in writing
reports. Right now I'm upping your capabilities to write real
papers in college. Which yours was still overstated for. The
parameters of the paper stated no more than five pages, preferably
simply five pages. To give me a synopsis of the plotline and any
major events in the book and then write a single paragraph about how it
could relate to your life, which was purely opinion so you could get
used to thinking about that. You overstated the thesis. You
overwrote the paper completely, Willow."
"Mom though you'd want more plot analysis."
"No. What you were trying to do was Masters' level work at the
local school. Advanced bachelor's where I went." Willow
nodded. "Now, for your next one, follow the rules I set
down. Major plot points, single paragraph on how it relates to
your life. That develops critical thinking and allows you to take
the structure of the story to translate into a real world application."
"I can do that." She hopped up and came back. "This was my original paper."
She read it over. "Not very explicit in the plot summary but
adequate. Spelling needs work like most of the class."
Willow blushed, ducking her head some. "Not bad for a first draft
and you didn't have that paragraph on the end."
"I was going to do it during the computer class I teach."
Natasha looked at her. "You would be much too busy. I've
noticed that you're scheduling yourself a bit thin and you do have that
state exam for graduation coming up." Willow blanched. "The
audit committee noted it hadn't been given for the last few years so
they will have to give it this year."
"Shoot. How are the girls who're reading romance novels going to do that?"
She smiled. "There is something to learn in each book, even the
more putrid romance novels. Usually the heroine still has to
overcome some sort of trivial or major plot twist that puts her in
danger or puts her purse in danger."
"They do? Mom wouldn't let me read them."
"I don't prefer them myself. I think love is a concept that people
cling to without understanding the boundaries or the necessities of a
real bit of love in their lives. Usually I say love is for
children daydreaming of their prince or princess charming showing up on a
"They can do that a lot," Willow's mother agreed.
"Which is why I allowed them to pick their own choices for this next
report, due by Wednesday," she reminded her, handing that paper
back. "Think of doing the report like doing an outline or how you
would explain it to a friend over the phone. Tell me why it
interested you, what in the plot hit you and what annoyed you.
What led you further in and what kicked you out of the story."
"I can do that. What's our next assigned book? I can write
that tonight when I finish my current one but we have a math text next
"The Art of War." Willow stared at her. She smiled.
"You will find that some of the theory in there is actually helpful when
you have an argument with a future boyfriend. There's also things
that would interest the males in the class. Perhaps it will stop
the few that still believe fighting over who a girl likes is important."
"Sometimes you gotta be shallow," Willow quipped. "It clears the mind from all the stress."
"Yes, most girls shop for that," Natasha said with a smirk. "You
could use some. I have noted to Cordelia that her distaste for
other's outfits of choice has gotten a bit loud." Willow hugged
her. She patted her on the arm. "Perhaps you should let
Buffy guide you? Or her mother? She's got nice taste, very
subtly flattering without being like a few of the cheerleaders I had to
talk to about their skirt length."
"I can do that. They're going shopping this weekend for prom so
I'll ask if she can give me ideas." She looked at her parents.
"They've been picking on you?"
"Her shirt earlier had glitter that picked up sunlight," Natasha
said. "Cordelia and a few others complained it was blinding them a
bit too loudly."
"We let her pick out her own clothes," Willow's mother said, looking
over her current outfit. "We'd never understand what teenagers
"Most teenage girls still need some guidance and gentle, subtle pointing
out of things to avoid so they don't end up looking like they're
working during their school hours. Willow's went the to the other
end of the spectrum. I can only believe that she's actually scared
of her sexuality and body with a few of her recent outfits."
Willow blushed and shook her head. "Confidence is always the most
sexy and comforting accessory, even if one is naked. Real, true
women accept their bodies as it is, flaws and all, and know that they
could change a few things. They do not make the change or the
process to the change their whole life. Any true, real woman can
walk naked into a room filled with people wearing evening gowns and chat
like she's wearing the same sort of gown and jewelry as whoever she's
talking to is."
"I'll never get there," Willow said, staring at her.
Natasha smiled. "You are on the road to it. You need to
concentrate on what makes you special in your own right, and enhance
that so only your positive flaws show. Negative flaws are a
weakness that can be used against you in some fields of life. Like
"I hadn't thought about that," Willow's mother said, looking at her
husband. "We're expected to be in suits for the most part because
that's how people of our station dress."
Natasha smiled. "Perhaps but one of my favorite teachers wore
jeans and a sweater most of the time. He taught me much of being a
person with goals, with strengths and weaknesses, and how to use both
to get what I needed in life. Because sometimes a weakness is not
really a weakness to yourself, but to others." She patted Willow
on the knee. "Dress to show who you are, Willow. You dress
like a farmer's wife half the time." She stood up. "Talk to
Joyce later." She smiled. "What book are you doing it on?"
"Trotsky. Since you liked Russian literature I thought I should
give it a bigger try. I'd never really gotten it before but the
one we went over kinda sparked an interest in seeing how they were
relating things back to life."
"That is good for it. A bit depressing in many ways." She
smiled. "A fellow student picked a rather graphic choice that does
that same function and I explained to her why it did that. You're
all learning much from me this year." She patted her on the
head. "You'll do better next time."
"Yes, ma'am, I will."
"Good girl. Have a good night, Willow." She left, going back
to the apartment. Clint and Xander were talking with Phil about
patrol routes. Buffy was confused why. "You never want to
get things too stale, Buffy. Predictability is death when you're
in your life or ours."
"I suggested Willow talk to your mother about how to up her fashion sense."
"Mom and I are doing some bonding shopping this weekend but sure, I can include Willow for a few hours."
"Good." She went to change and came back to look in the kitchen. "Barton, you were supposed to grocery shop."
"I would've if I had gotten either of my checks. Sorry."
She called her bank. "I didn't either." She called the
director. "Do I need to come back to rend someone about my lack of
paycheck?" She listened to him splutter about the paperwork
issue. "That is not my concern," she said bluntly. "Though I
am not pleased that Barton was unable to go grocery shopping. I
was actually hungry tonight." She hung up with a huff. "The
ones from the school?"
"Wednesday," Buffy quipped. "Fifteenth and the thirtieth."
"Pizza?" Clint suggested.
"Dominos has a good special going on," Xander said. "But the local
guys are running a larger pie for the same price." He
pointed. "We have to clean this area out. There's been some
gathering demons and I'm not sure why or if they're harmful. I
can't get pictures of them to show Giles. They don't photograph,
even with the digital."
Buffy grimaced. "I'll swing past there tonight to see if I can find
them." Xander nodded, marking a spot on the map. She drew a
line. "That's an easy-ish walk."
"No, muddy hill," Clint said. "Go this way." He traced it
with a pencil. "There's a work crew here working on a sewer line
but this morning I nearly hit a thing ducking into it."
"That'll work." She memorized it, looking at Xander. "Coming?"
"No. Uncle Phil's just now home and he might have to leave again
tomorrow. Tomorrow night." She nodded and left. He
looked at his staring uncle. "You could."
"I'm on medical leave for the next week," he said quietly. "Unless
the fate of the world happens, not likely." He did let Xander hug
him anyway. It was nice to have his nephew being fussy over
him. Almost like having a wife that couldn't cook. His
stomach rumbled so he looked at it. "What other delivery places
exist beyond pizza?"
"Thai, but their kitchen is gross. Tofu Barn delivers for orders
over twenty bucks." Clint shuddered. So did Natasha. "Yeah,
me too but it's technically food. Two pizza places, the coffee
shop during the day, including their tasty muffins and
donuts. Willie's will deliver if you pay him extra."
"What's his style of food?" Natasha asked.
"That's the demon bar," Clint said. "I doubt we want tentacles, Xander."
"We heard allllll about how they were useful in multiple ways," Xander said with a grin.
"If you catch me sleeping with a squid, please shoot me unless it's the
fate of the world," Clint quipped back with an evil smirk for the boy.
"Not all tentacles belong to squids," Natasha said. "There's octopuses."
"There's nineteen species of tentacle demons. I asked Giles once,"
Xander said. "A few are just tentacles. Or there's ones
like kraken tentacles."
Phil looked at him, testing him for a fever. "Not warm."
"He has those moments," Natasha said, smiling at the boy. "It's
good to see. Does the Chinese buffet deliver?" Xander shook
his head quickly. "Pity. They had decent food."
"If it was before sundown, the BBQ place does," Xander said. "But they had too many delivery boys eaten."
Clint nodded. "I'd imagine so. A meal plus food for some things." He shook his head quickly. "Pizza?"
"That will work," Phil agreed. They called it in and ignored
Xander suggesting weird toppings like pineapple and chicken. "We
eat New York pizza, Xander. Not LA pizza," Phil finally had to
remind him. Xander shrugged and leaned against his shoulder, going
back to his book. Phil smiled at Natasha. That had to be
her influence. He had never seen Xander read for fun before.
When the delivery guy got there, Clint got up to get it, accidentally
inviting the guy in. When he turned into a vampire, Xander shot
him with Phil's gun. "Ooops, my bad," Clint said. "Well, I
paid with a debit card." He signed the slip and put it into the
guy's car then came back up holding a bleeding spot from an attempted
bite. Natasha huffed but got him the first aid kit, which Xander
used. "Let's eat before more things happen."
They dug in and it was better. They could deal with things.
Including keeping Xander from buying candy bars during the upcoming
candy sale. He didn't need more candy.
Things were going nicely toward graduation. Xander had three
really nice grades turned in to the school board, bypassing the Troll
completely. Xander held up his grade sheets from the teachers when
the home room teacher glared at his laughing thanks to his report
card. She looked over his shoulder and shook her head. It'd
be fixed by someone she was sure. Xander was doing okay.
They had plans for the graduation battle coming up in a mere few
weeks. Though Giles had made them on the team. Xander got to
look at them and then looked at his former mentor. "When exactly
are we supposed to stand by while he eats the civies, Giles?"
Giles looked at him. "What?" Xander pointed. "Yes, what about it?"
"Families. Little brothers and sisters seeing siblings
graduate? Teachers? Civilians?" he prompted. Giles
moaned and hit himself on the forehead. "Okay. We can handle
this." He settled in to make plans. "Giles, get me
Cordy. She's on the planning committee." He called her to
come in. She stomped in so Xander waved her over. "Where?"
She looked. "He's facing the eclipse during it. We already arranged that."
Xander pointed. "Civilians."
He looked. "Are we having things like bushes put up?"
"Fake archways from the theater people. Banners and streamers."
"Okay," Xander said. "We have one hard entry. We have one
good soft one here." He pointed. "Open for a good stampede
to start." He tapped his pen a few times. "Weaken that
"I can do that. We've only had a table there before."
"They'll trip and people will die." She nodded, making that note. "Chairs?"
"Folding. Enough for everyone to bring three people. I said
we could probably under-count but they said in the past they hadn't had
enough and it made them look bad. Snyder vetoed it."
"The ones for the dances."
"Those things suck and they're hard to sit on," Xander said. "Can we rent normal chairs?"
"Probably not. No budget."
He grimaced, looking it over. "Change the aisle so it's curved a
bit. Students, parents," he said, pointing at the sides. "So
the civies can run." He looked at her. "We don't need them
in the way."
"We'll need more fighters," Giles said.
Xander looked at him and nodded. "I realize that. I have no
idea how unless Uncle Phil calls the Marines he used to be part
of. We're working on that part." Giles nodded. Xander
looked at Cordy. "Can we do that artistically?"
"Yeah. Not an issue. If we shift it some from the wall the
walkway naturally curves and would save us having to haul out plastic or
rugs to walk on." She made that note and redrew it.
"That'll give you another few feet against the wall to let people out."
"We've heard he's going to call minions," Xander said quietly, staring at her. "So the hard gateway may be dangerous."
"I'll have them run a fire drill." She grinned. He smirked back. "Want me to talk to anyone?"
He sighed. "We might need the jocks to make sure people make it
out. Even the geeks will run if they tell them to." She
nodded, taking the plans with her to do that. He held his head for
a minute then looked at Giles. "Okay, we have us, we have Angel,
who said he's going to be on the gateway. We have Uncle Phil, we
may have Uncle Paul. We have the teachers. Well, some of the
Giles nodded, looking around. "I really must do something."
"Have them sent to summer storage so you can paint?" Xander suggested. "Just rent a place?"
"I can do so." He found the phone book to call around.
Xander went over the battle ideas in his head, making shorthand
notes. The only one who understood them was Willow so it was safe
enough. Natasha strolled in. He looked at her. "We'll
need an evacuation plan," he said quietly. "Cordy said we'd run a
fire drill or something."
"That's reasonable. I'll get with her in a few moments." She looked at him. "You are not commanding."
He snorted. "Since when are the kids going to listen to you guys?"
"That may be."
"Do the adult things, let the kids get their families and the other kids
out of the way," he said. "Then we splat it with a bait run."
She nodded. "That's the best way we've seen as well." She patted him on the wrist. "You do not have to."
"I do or else all the civilians will be in the way and be targets."
"That is true. It's volunteer only." Xander nodded he knew that. "We'll be there."
"I know. I'm really counting on it actually." She smiled and he calmed down again. "Let me go hit my PT time."
"Barton's making a report and eating some chocolate."
"Like the band candy that was so tainted by the youth spell?" Xander
asked. She moaned and got up to handle him. She had known
him when he was a teenager. He was more dangerous then because he
was half-trained and she had no idea what he might do. Xander
looked at Giles. "Didn't we confiscate all that?"
"The factory had a few boxes left but said they were going to destroy them." He wouldn't mention he had kept a few.
Xander got up to stretch. "Okay. I'm sure we can handle
it." He went back to the apartment, or the Bat Cave since they had
a lot of weapons there suddenly. He looked at his uncle, who was
looking smug. "I rearranged a few things on the plans Giles made."
"He didn't take spectators into account." Xander shook his head. "Is it done?"
"Cordy has it." He handed him the notes. "That's my shorthand."
He looked at it sideways then at Xander. "I need a code breaking lesson?"
Xander grinned. "Maybe." He went to his room to lie down. He had a thumping headache for some reason.
Phil stared at the notes. He could almost guess what a few
were. The symbols weren't really ambiguous. Some of them, he
had no idea. Natasha walked Clint in and he was grinning like he
was high. "Who drugged him?"
"The band candy. Someone gave him some. They repackaged the leftovers."
"Charming. Have fun, kids. Xander's taking a nap."
Clint looked at Natasha and leered. She sighed but nodded.
Clint cackled and found the bedroom. That was great for him.
He had dated Natasha in his early years and he could replay that now.
Phil got up to put on some music to cover their noise. Then he went back to his deciphering lessons.
Xander came out to stare at the other bedroom doorway. "Anya said
that being that loud was an invitation for others to join in.
Which I'm probably not qualified to do." He got some water and
went back to bed.
Phil kept himself from laughing, barely. He could hear Clint
complaining about the mood being broken. Pity but he'd eventually
wear the youth potion out.
Clint came out the next morning looking a bit sheepish. "I did not
realize it was potioned candy. I'm sorry, guys." Xander and
Phil both shrugged. "Xander, that was evil."
Xander grinned. "Thank you!" He handed over the last empty
bowl and cereal. Natasha had protein shakes for breakfast most
days or made real food.
She came out putting up her hair but still in her bathrobe. "I'm very glad today is a day off."
"Since when?" Xander asked. She stared at him then at the
calendar. "Sorry!" He smiled and waved. Natasha spit
out a swear in German and went back to get dressed. Clint was
grinning into his cereal. Someone knocked and Xander got up to get
it. "Anya? What's wrong?" he asked, looking at
her. He had taken her to the prom a few weeks back.
"I have needs you are not meeting," she said bluntly, walking in and
kicking the door shut. "You need to meet them now, Xander, because
I'm leaving town later and I might not be coming back so at least I can
have something to remember this hellhole by." She walked him into
his room and shoved the weapons parts off the bed. "I have no
idea why you have machine things. I don't care either." She
took off her shirt.
Xander's mind mostly shut down. "Okay, yeah. Our favorite
teacher said it was a day off." He locked the door and moved to
help her out of that pesky bra contraption. It had to hurt with
the way it made her all perky and full of cleavage.
Clint stared at the hallway. Then he looked at Phil. "You're his uncle."
Natasha pounded on the door when they got loud. "The neighbors
would like to sleep as they work nights, children. You have ten
"I need at least five more orgasms before I leave town tonight so I
don't die!" Anya shouted back. "Butt out! Xander, more of
that, whatever it is you were doing. My former husband never tried
that and it feels good."
Clint and Phil shared a look then shook their heads. "I had a girl
like that once. Nearly ripped my back up," Clint said.
Natasha stared at him. "Was she that blunt as well?"
"No, not really. Demanding but not blunt. Gave me a handjob
once on a city bus." He ate another bite of cereal. "I
didn't even realize what she was doing until I felt her cold fingers on
"A handjob ninja?" she taunted with an evil smirk.
"Yup." He grinned back.
"Oh my God! Xander! More of that! Much, much more of that!"
"He's doing laps tonight for PT," Phil told them.
"He's due to do the whole PT routine," Clint countered. "Shut the
hell up!" he shouted finally. "I don't think people in Tibet need
to hear you, Anya. Use a gag!" Phil cracked and
laughed. "On second thought, that girlfriend wasn't quite as bad
as her after all. She was quiet." He ate another bite of
breakfast. Natasha handed him some toast and he went to change and
Phil came home to pick Xander up. One of the neighbors was
pounding on the door. "I'll yell at him and make him break up this
"What round? He's been at it for the last seven hours! He's finally gone quiet and I think she might've killed him."
"That's his girlfriend, not Miss Rushman. She was not amused when
his girlfriend showed up and demanded sex." The neighbor from
upstairs across the hall blushed. "I'll check on him. Thank
you for worrying about Xander." She ran back up there. Phil
let himself in. He went to knock on Xander's door then opened
it. Anya snored. Loudly. Xander was a sweaty
mess. He had stains on his stomach that Phil didn't want to
identify. "Time for PT, Xander," he said cheerfully.
Anya woke up and glared at him. "He's still mine until I
leave. I've only had eight orgasms, thank you, and I need at least
another one. Can you shut the door? I'm not into showing
everyone my pussy while I bring him back up with a fairly good blowjob,
hopefully without teeth this time." She smiled.
"I need him for PT, Anya. You can have him back afterward."
"Sorry, but no." She flipped over to lick Xander clean and
hopefully back into hardness. "Maybe I should find some of those
drugs that help you get it up when you can't."
Xander blinked at her. "That's only for when you can't get it up
at all, Anya. We've been having sex now for seven hours. Let
me nap for an hour or so and I'll give you three." She smiled and
snuggled in, pulling the sheet over them. He looked at his uncle,
waving weakly. "Gatorade?"
"I'll make sure we have some on hand," he said blandly. "You still have PT, Xander."
Xander let out a weak sounding laugh. "No thanks." He passed back out.
Phil shut the door and got them some gatorade. By the time he got
back from the store, she had woken Xander back up and he was indeed
making her squeal some more. "I'm hoping he's using
condoms." Clint and Natasha came home. "They didn't stop
until right before I got here. The neighbor was worried she had
Natasha nodded. "Why is she getting loud again?"
"Xander begged for a nap then he'd give her three more."
"That wasn't one! It really wasn't! I need more, Xander!"
"Xander begged for gatorade." He handed it over. "I have no
idea how to handle that beyond embarrassing him totally."
"Oh my god, the tongue thing! I'm learning to really like that
tongue thing! Oooooohhhhh!" she squealed. Then paused.
"That wasn't an orgasm, just enjoyment."
"Even when I was married I was never that loud," Natasha said, going to
hide in her bedroom. Teenagers having sex held no interest for
her. It hadn't since she had been a teenager having sex.
Phil and Clint shared a look. Clint took the gatorade with a grin
and knocked on the door before opening it and leaning in. "We need
"But I'm not done yet!" she whined.
"If you have too many you won't be able to sit." He stared at
her. "Beyond that, have him teach you to use a vibrator."
"I have a few of those," she snorted. "They don't do the tongue
thing." She pouted. "Can't I have just one more? He's
finally been able to get it up again."
"You have twenty minutes then we're going to come take Xander." He stared at her. "Understood?"
She huffed but nodded. "Fine."
"Thank you." He walked off and left the door cracked open in case Xander needed to call for help.
Anya's voice started to climb then paused. Then she shrieked about
his fingers so it was apparently good for her. She finally came
strolling out dressed and smiled. "Thank you. I might be
back after the battle." She left.
Clint went to hand Xander the gatorade. "Can you move?"
"No," he said hoarsely. "At least she didn't try to choke me."
Clint patted him on the head. "Shower time, kid."
"No. Please don't make me move." He looked at the
bottle. "I'll drink that in a few hours, when I wake up." He
passed back out.
Clint checked his pulse. "His pulse is one-fifteen, Coulson."
Phil came to the door. "He did do a lot of cardio work today. Xander, drink." No response. "Sleeping?"
"Passed out I think." They got Xander untangled from the sheets,
wincing at the teeth drag marks on the poor guy's cock. "Ow,"
Clint said. "That's gotta hurt."
"She said she had accidentally used her teeth," Phil said dryly.
"Though, you're probably right and it probably does hurt." They
got him into the tub that Natasha was running for herself. She saw
the condition he was in and shuddered. "She used her teeth
"I can see that. I put in bubble bath oil." She walked off
shaking her head. She came back with the gatorade and a
straw. "How many rounds?"
"According to the neighbor they didn't stop until right before I got
here. So about seven hours then his half-hour nap, the forty-five
he just had, and now he's passed out again."
"I do not know anyone who can do that." She walked off shaking her head.
Clint nodded. "Me either. I'm fantastic but my limit's
always been about three hours." He went to his own room to blush a
bit and wonder how Xander had done it.
Phil patted Xander's face until he moaned and opened his eyes. "Are you all right? Need the ER?"
"Can't feel my tongue," he slurred. "Or penis." He shifted
and winced. "I think I threw my hip out like a little old lady
"She's gone. Soak, have the gatorade." Xander took it from
him to gulp then passed back out with a sigh of pleasure.
Phil walked off shaking his head. "Barton, go on patrol with
"Yes, sir," he called, pulling on a different shirt as he came
out. He had what he needed in a bag by the door. He met
Buffy in the library. She was scowling. "Anya was leaving
tonight and wanted a going away thing."
"It took him all day to buy her a present?" Buffy asked, looking
confused. "Shouldn't she have taught him better by now? And
about non-ugly shirts too? Because they made a comeback and
they're like sores on a leper or whatever they're called."
"Buffy, he had eight hours of sex at her demand. He's passed out in a tub," he said.
Her mouth popped open. "How?'' she squeaked. "No, I don't
need to know. He only dates bad and dangerous girls and I'm not
one," she said, holding up a hand. "Is he alive or should I send
"He'd stake Angel and himself if he got turned." He shifted his
pack. "Let's go." She nodded, going with him. She didn't
worry about him and his skills like she did Xander's. Mostly
because he had outshot her with a crossbow one night when she demanded
to test him.
"Eight hours? Like in a row?"
"Seven in a row, then a short nap for the last," he said dryly.
"We all hid from the noise. She's noisy."
"More than I ever need to know because I'm not going to give up driving stick to try her. Thanks anyway, Barton."
"Welcome." He grinned. "Every guy has some girlfriend like her."
"I've never been a slutty ho. I wouldn't know."
"She's not a ho for enjoying it."
"No, she's a ho because she slept with two football players at once and
then two of the teachers later that night to compare against him."
Clint took out his phone to text that to Phil. "We'll make sure she didn't have anything."
"Might be a good idea since there's no telling what she dated when she was a vengeance demon."
"Good point." He added that in a second text and put his phone up. It was not going to make Phil happy.
Phil got the text and went to talk to his idiot nephew.
"Xander?" He flinched awake and looked around then at him.
"Did you use condoms?"
"Until I ran out about one. Then I mostly had oral sex outside the single time. She was on the pill though."
"She slept with others besides you. We're worried we might have to get you medicine for something."
"I knew that and I asked. Both of the football players were
virgins. The teacher might've been too. The other one....
he's a swinger so no telling but they tend to test regularly." He
yawned and started to drift off again. "Why can't I feel my
"Teeth marks," Phil said dryly.
Xander moved some of the bubbles so he could see it. "I told her
to quit using her teeth. I think she did it so she wouldn't have
to reciprocate." He yawned and drifted off again.
Phil turned to look at Natasha, who handed him a sample collection kit. "I'm not experienced in how to use these."
She huffed but came in to get a swab. He purred at her so she
patted him on the head. "Behave. We are testing for
"Immune," he mumble. "Fishy said so."
"We'll make sure, Xander." She took it to be run at the college's
labs. She had a *friend* up there who would gladly run it for
her. He was nicely gay and needed a shopping buddy. They fit
well together. "My friend's nephew slept with a nymphomaniac
He winced and took the swabs. "Dry?"
"He was in the tub but it didn't get much water exposure. I could
barely get it in him though. Eight hours total." The guy
gaped at her. "And she was loud."
"Oh, dear. Sounds like someone that got caught on campus last
night." He ran the various tests for her, handing it over.
"Looks like she didn't have anything but you might try some cool
compresses to get the swelling down. He might've pulled his groin
"I've done the female version of that but he's in the tub." He grinned. "She had *teeth*. He has *marks*."
"Owwww. Tell your nephew to try my side of the fence. We're usually kinder and less loud." He grinned.
"I might at that. Thank you." She took the results back to
the apartment. Xander was snoring, she could hear him.
"Nothing on the swabs."
"That's a blessing. Paul wants to beat him for it," Phil said.
"My friend suggested he try gay sex instead." She put down the forms and got dinner from the freezer to microwave.
Phil looked them over, shaking his head. His nephew would never get to live this down. If he survived.
Fury looked over the faxed battle plan, grimacing. "They can't use
kids," he sneered. "Hill!" She came in to look at the
plans. "From the Sunnydale team. They need more agents
"I can arrange at least a strike team, sir."
"Send more. They're planning an actual *battle*." She took
the notes they had sent on what was going to happen so she'd know who to
send. Fury grimaced and sent Coulson an email that he'd have some
backup coming. He didn't know why he wanted that one healer but
whatever. If they were willing to not escape from her, it was
better than usual for Barton and Coulson, and probably Harris too.
Xander woke up and took a swing at whoever had a needle in his
arm. "Xander, it's one of the SHIELD healers," Clint said,
catching his fist before it could connect. "Calm down. She's
testing to make sure you're going to live since you wouldn't wake
up." He sat on the side of the tub and patted his hair down.
"Calm down. Deep breath." She pulled out the needle.
"He said he has extreme reactions to needles."
"I would too." She smiled at him. "We're doing tests to make
sure you're not that far out of whack, Harris. Was it an attack?"
"Of my prom date."
"She's clearly bad for you. Find a nice bad girl, Harris." He smirked at her. "Think you can get up?"
He tried and winced. "Maybe, if my hip didn't feel like it was dislocated." He settled in again.
"You probably pulled a groin muscle," she said, helping Clint haul him
out. She blushed. "She was clearly very mean to you.
Xander looked and winced. "Teeth."
"Ow." She dug out a pot of stuff to hand over. "Try that on
them. Should heal it in about a day." She checked his hips
and nodded. "Pulled groin muscle." She grinned. "No PT
for two weeks."
"Battle in a week and a half," he said dryly.
"Oh, dear. Well, I'll be here for that as well." She patted
him on the cheek. "Heating pad and ice any swelling." She
left them to have a guy talk. She'd listen to gossip to see who he
had slept with. When she heard, she sent an email to the director
to be on the watch for her because she was slightly mean and slightly
evil by Xander's usual tastes. Then she got to explain what a
vengeance demon was and did. Fury was not amused.
Clint looked at Xander. "Most guys have a former girlfriend like her. Yours was just a bit extreme."
"But not demonic and not fully evil like Cordy is," he said with a grin.
"True. Barely but true." He helped him put a shower chair in
there so he could take one once the water was out. He went to
make a big breakfast. He had to be hungry. It'd been a day
since he ate. Xander came wobbling out in Natasha's
bathrobe. Clint got him some pajama pants, soft ones to help
him. Xander leaned on a wall to put them on and kept on the
"Please, thank you, Goddess Clint."
"Not a girl, Xander." He handed over the plate. Xander
inhaled it and Clint's portion so Clint got up to make more. When
that disappeared too he made him pause to let it settle. He also
showed him how to handle a groin pull in the easiest way without
over-icing your dick or balls. Xander gave him a hug for it and
they settled in to talk about girls, again. Clearly Clint needed
to share more wisdom with the young trainee agent. Because,
damn! That just wasn't right to have happen.
Xander looked around the battle a week and a half later. "Fuck!"
he shouted. "Guys, move! Right flank, shift!" They did
and he dove back in to help keep the giant demon worm off the
civilians. Finally they were mostly gone. "Move,
people. Now!" Buffy took off running. The snake
followed her. The bomb didn't go off. He saw his uncle
running. "No, Paul, no, damnit! It has a backup switch!" he
yelled. Natasha stopped him from running after him. "He's my
damn family! Let me go!" The school went up and he
shuddered, shrinking away from her.
"It was his decision," she said quietly, staring at him. Xander
gave her a cold look. "We will gather Phil and watch to see if he
might have made it." She took him to Phil. Xander broke and
hugged him. "I had to stop him from going after him," she said
He nodded. "I don't think I could take losing them both today,
Natasha, thank you." She nodded, escorting him to a safer
location. He was still numb from the shock of losing his
brother. Xander was still in pain from everything. She stood
guard until Clint got there. This was emotional things and she
was not adept at them since she hid so many of her real ones.
Clint came over, shaking his head. Coulson swallowed and nodded. "Thank you for checking," he said quietly.
Xander turned to look at him. "You're certain he didn't survive?"
"No. He manually hit the bomb, Xander. We had eyes on it in
case someone tampered," he said quietly, patting him on the arm.
"I'm sorry." Xander nodded, stiffening up straighter. "No,
you relax. You've just been in a battle. Big shit just
happened. Relax, give yourself time to grieve."
"I'll do that later. When I'm alone." He looked over as the others trooped over. "How many?" he asked Giles.
"Seventeen civilians that got attacked or knocked over and trampled," he
said, looking not that concerned. "Seven students. The
agents took care of the injured ones quickly so they didn't get trampled
and didn't get killed by the minions and vampires he summoned."
He patted Xander on the shoulder. "It was a good job, Xander."
"If it was a good job, we'd have no deaths," Xander said bluntly, making
Giles flinch. "A well executed plan isn't the same thing."
He looked around. "Anyone see things like the diplomas?"
"Well, I did think to grab Buffy's," he said, handing it to her with a smile.
"Did you see mine?" Willow asked.
"I didn't think to look, Willow. Or for Xander's."
"Or mine," Oz said." He sat down with a huff. "Xander, sit."
"I'm wound, I can't. I need to go do something." He walked off.
"Xander, post battle medical," Phil said quietly and calmly.
"We'll go together, out to the cliffs." That got a nod and they
hiked off together. "Stay local, people. My director should
be here tomorrow to debrief and figure out what's happening now."
"The hellmouth wasn't destroyed," Buffy said. "Which sucks."
"The next mostly open one is in a real city," Clint told her.
"They're more than willing to Love Canal this area so it doesn't do the
same thing there."
"Love what?" she asked, looking confused. "Can you guys please quit teaching now?"
"No," Natasha said. "Love Canal was a town that was built on top
of some radioactive material. They fenced it and shut it down."
"Oh. Well, if they can do that, the vampy vamps can have the
town," she said with a shrug. "I'll move." She ran over to
her mother's SUV, getting a hug. "We lived."
"Thank you." She hugged her, looking at the group. "Xander? Is he injured?"
"He went with his uncle for a medical checkup."
Clint walked over. "The bomb was delayed and Xander's uncle set it
off," he said quietly. Joyce shuddered. "So they're off
being quiet together. Or Xander's blowing up trees. One of
the two." Joyce smiled slightly. "We're all good,
Joyce. All but Cordelia, who has a back injury." She
nodded. "Agents are handling it and Coulson said that the Director
will be here tomorrow to debrief and tell us what's going on.
We've been planning on having things happen anyway."
"Good. Thank you. Let's go home, Buffy."
"Giles grabbed my diploma," she said, holding it up with a grin.
"That's wonderful. Did he get the others'?"
"He said he didn't think to."
"We'll probably find it in the mess." She took her home. She'd wonder about that snub later.
Xander looked up from the grave side funeral, making himself not stare
at the casket. Willow was across from him. Her mother was
scowling but yay. Paul had helped Willow a lot over the
years. She had made herself come. Phil was beside him.
Paul's ex-wife had flown in and she was shredding his letters into the
grave. Xander took the rest of them to put in his pocket.
She glared at him. He stared back. She settled down.
The minister was looking nervously at his watch but it was only two in
the afternoon. Finally it was done and Xander quit standing at
parade rest. He was tense all over. He was high strung and
something was going to snap. As it turned out, Willow's mother was
a good reason to snap.
"I don't know why you had to come, Willow. We're not related. Even Xander's not really related to him."
"Because he helped your daughter many times," Xander said just loud
enough to be heard. "But you wouldn't know about shows of respect,
would you, Mrs. Rosenburg?" He glared at her. "It's not
like Uncle Paul didn't save her life twice in the last five years
because the house got broken into while she was home alone. So she
called him because we all know that the PD won't do anything." He
sneered slightly. "It was also Paul that put her back onto the
path of good behavior when she started to slip there for a bit because
she didn't have any parental guidance.
"If it wasn't for Paul, I wouldn't be here, Willow wouldn't be here, and
you could be on a fabulous book tour around the world like you want to
be. So I guess you can be mad that he saved your daughter's life
after all." She gasped and stomped off. Willow gave him a
dirty look but followed like the dutiful daughter she was. Xander
let out a slow, deep exhale then looked at his uncle. "I need
"We both need time. Would you like to go fishing?"
Xander shook his head. "I'm kinda morally opposed to fishing
anymore. I might catch a swim team member. Or hell, a Disney
version." Phil smiled slightly and patted him on the arm.
"I'm going to Mexico."
"That's where I was going. You can come with me and not fish."
Xander nodded. "I might like that." Phil nodded and they
went back to the apartment to pack up. Natasha and Clint had
already left for home. Phil left them a message and took Xander
with him. He could teach him a lot about the world from Mexico,
and if they had problems they were good enough to help stop them.
Or for stress relief.
Six months later, Xander was sitting in a bar in Asia. Phil had
called someone to help finish his training since he had to go back to
his regular duties instead of helping ease the drug wars going on in
Mexico. He sipped his beer, nodding at the familiar looking woman
who came in. "You look an awful lot like someone I used to know,"
he said dryly, smirking at her.
"There's a reason for that." She took his drink to sniff then sip. "Weak."
"It's before noon. I don't touch anything too huge before
dark." He stood up. "Want to borrow my seat? I'm going
back to my room."
"Escort me to mine, Xander."
He smiled. "Mine's got a present from my uncle for your birthday."
"Wonderful." She escorted him back after Xander put a few bills on
the bar. As they walked she studied him. "Are you drinking
"No. I only allow myself to drink once a week anymore." She
nodded at that. "And I never do it to get drunk. Just so I can
sleep without some nightmares."
She paused him by an alley. "Why do you have such problems?"
"That's in your present. He wrote you a letter from Mexico before his boss recalled him."
"Mexico," she said. He nodded, grinning slightly. "Good fishing?"
"I don't fish and he knows why now since he caught a swim team
member." She shuddered. "It was in heat, it tried to make
out with him." He pointed. "Shall we before the grungy
things in the alley try to attack us?"
"We should." She took him back to his hotel room, letting him
check it all first before handing her the pretty wrapped box. She
sat on the bed to open it, staring at the knife set inside. "Those
are beautiful. He has excellent taste." She smiled and hid
them on her, looking at the very thick letter. It was basically a
mission report and a request for her to finish Xander's training so he
could go back to the revamped Sunnydale. They were turning it into
an agent training area. Everyone not associated with an agency or
necessary personnel was being removed and relocated. He was due
back in three months and Phil outlined how he had trained his
nephew. She looked up. "He wanted you to help me for a bit."
"He told me." He stared at her. "I should apologize for the way I acted after the battle."
She stood up. "I lost my family when I was younger than you.
I understand that pain, Xander." He nodded, looking down.
She patted him on the arm and he hugged her. She froze for a
second but patted him back. "We will work on some of your skills
that will be useful when you're handling the problems in town with your
slayer team," she said quietly. "And possibly some other fun
things." She pulled back to look at him. "You need sleep."
"I can't sleep. I'm doing good to get three hours a night."
"Have you tried calling that ex of yours up? Though I would not encourage it now."
"She's over here with some big money person."
"Wonderful. I'll be on alert in case we run into her on a
mission." She looked around. "Pack the tasteful things."
"Take me tacky shirts and all, teacher lady." He packed his two
bags and followed her, getting them a cab since her hotel was halfway
across the city.
Once they were safely in there she looked over his things. His
weapons got a critical evaluation and passed. His clothes didn't.
She looked them over again. A few things might go if she matched
them properly. "Did Clint not teach you to match things in a more
"No," he snorted. "Besides, I can blend in very well with the ugliest of things and no one ever notices me."
She looked at him in that poor, pitiful idiot way. "That may be
true at home. Here it is not. While with me, you will be
dressed better, Xander. Even if I have to buy you clothes and have
them reimburse me."
"I can go flirt with my other new ex," he offered with a smirk.
"What other, new ex? That wasn't in the letter." She looked
it over to make sure. She had missed a tiny, end of a page comment
that was clearly written by a drunk Coulson, to ask him about his
girlfriend Milda. She looked at him. "Milda?"
"No, she was sweet. And into all sorts of nasty shit."
"Like kinky sex or like drugs?"
"Both." He grinned. "We were at a dance sort of club and
then I woke up two days later with the shakes and my mouth feeling like
cotton wool but she took good care of me and we had fantastic sex
because the next time she tried to drug me I tied her down and made her
scream about halfway up Anya's scale."
"Oh, dear," she sighed. "Were you tested?"
"Yeah, when I called Uncle Phil to come pick me up because her daddy got
mad that I was debauching his little angel yet not accepting her drugs
so he could turn me into a mule or something like that; he was not happy
when I set his warehouses on fire."
"You did that before you got picked up?"
"Yeah." He bounced some, looking pleased. "She told me I'd
make the family good money and she'd occasionally give me favored status
since I was so good to her orgasm count. So I kindly realized I
had a tiny bit of magic when I was high and set the whole compound on
fire. Magical fires burn *really* fast, did you know that?"
She sat down, staring at him. "Her father, not real pleased when
the family home went up around them and left all the furniture, the
papers, the safes.... none of the drugs but all the liquor in the wine
cellar and the tequila racks.
"Uncle Phil said he had some really good vintages and let me loot since I
had them mostly injured or tied up. Milda was not happy and was
screaming that I was evil and from another family. I pointed at my
uncle and said he was my only family and I didn't like drugs that
much. So Uncle Phil got to sit with me while I detoxed that shit
for about a week and I haven't really slept since then because somehow
it made me remember *everything* in my life in bright, brilliant
She stared at him. "If that was not the girlfriend you were talking about, which was?"
"Clorette? Uncle Phil had to go deal with her boss when he caught
us together and shot her. I didn't even get a chance to get
off. She was on top and getting loud so he busted in and shot
her. I didn't want to see that."
"Clorette Johnsome?" she asked.
He nodded slowly. "Think that was her last name, yeah."
Natasha resisted the urge to cover her face with her hands and moan
about Xander's taste in women. "She was a fairly well known, very
dangerous French assassin, Xander."
"She hit on me in the club." He shrugged. "Bad girls love me." He grinned.
"Your uncle must be unamused with that trait."
"Probably but he was less amused when the stray dog tried to adopt me."
"I would be as well. It's hard to travel with pets." She
stared at him for a moment. "Where were you and Clorette?"
"Mexico. She panted she was on vacation. Her wallet didn't have anything but a key. He took it with him."
"It probably led back to wherever she kept her information files."
She stared at him then texted Coulson's phone. She got back
one. "It did lead there and there was no money so he can't split
it with you as he bargained to make you quit screaming about her being
stuck on you."
"She was. It was kinda gross."
"I figure it was." She got back another one and got into one of
the bags, finding a spare wallet. "Where did this come from?"
"Kitten poker, same as the weapons did." He smiled. "I'm a good boy usually."
"I've noticed that." She counted the money and looked at
him. "We will get you something tasteful. My next
appointment is in Singapore and they would not respect you or me if you
were being slovenly. They would expect a suit. A very nice,
"Uncle Phil made me buy one. It should be in the green bag."
"It's hideous, Xander. He clearly wanted you to wear it on dates
so they left you alone." Xander grinned at her for that. "We
will look." She took him to the stores to fix that tragedy of a
wardrobe. He could sleep in the ugly t-shirts. She made him
pause when she found a new scar. "That is from...."
"We briefly went home and my mother threw a knife at me."
She grimaced. "Is she alive?"
"She threw a knife at me."
"Interesting." She handed him an undershirt. "We will
teach you to do this properly." He sighed but went to get changed.
She saw someone come into the store and mentally sighed in
displeasure. "Have we talked about you perhaps turning toward men
so the women who want you can't have you?" she asked casually.
Xander came out in the suit and smiled, walking over to her.
"Marta!" He hugged and kissed her hard, making her grip his
hips. "I haven't seen you in weeks. Are you still stalking
"Of course I am. You are a heavenly pleasure as I've heard.
I'm very interested in collecting such treasures." She looked
around. "Getting a new suit?"
"My uncle's ex-girlfriend is teaching me how to shop better. She
hated my clothes and I'm on my post-grad roadtrip" She
blinked. He grinned. "I'm just now eighteen in two whole
days." She shivered.
Natasha watched how he worked her. She was going to melt and suck
him there in the shop. "Xander, I do not want to hear another
version of the eight hour sex marathon you had when you were staying
He grinned at her for that hype. "I can get a hotel room, Auntie."
She smirked slightly. "If you're going to make her as loud as that other one got, please do."
Marta blinked. "Loud?"
"She got very loud. She was all about the O and wanted a lot to
remember me by. She limped onto the bus that night I'm told but it
was only about twelve or thirteen orgasms." Marta moaned and
kissed him again. He grinned. "Let me pay for this and we'll
find somewhere nice and soundproofed." She nodded, buying it for
Natasha bought a few more things, getting a look from the
shopgirls. She shrugged. "He is like my own nephew."
They groaned. "He has bad taste in women however." She paid
and walked out with the bags. She could have them tailored when
she rescued Xander. She did ask Coulson about 'Marta' and why she
was stalking him. What she got back amused her. She
remembered the Barton Drool and Ass Appreciation Society. She
really did have to see if he and Xander were related somehow.
Before those sort drove her nuts.
Xander finally showed up two hours later than she had texted him to
be. "I was about to leave without you. Next time I will
be. We have deadlines, Xander." He tossed her a
wallet. She looked inside and gasped. "Where?"
"Marta's husband. Or lover, one of the two. He called her
his woman. Then asked for a threesome. He laughed when I
said I was saving that for someone special." He looked at her then
tossed over something else. "Talk about not of the happy camper
variety. The one in Mexico's bodyguard. Which is why I was
late. I had to deal with him and why he was following me.
And then I had to clean up the mess, get around the locals, who didn't
know I was cleaning up the mess but they thought I might be part of the
local mafia group since I'm American.
"I bragged about post-grad world trips and I had found a woman down near
there so I was hiking back to my hotel." She rolled her eyes but
made 'go on' motions with her free hand. "I got asked if I had
seen anyone and I admitted that the guy looked familiar. I had
been in Mexico when a drug gang broke into the resort's hotel to ransom
someone and he looked like a guy there." He smiled. She
stared him down. "He did."
"It's on record?" He nodded. "Is that how you two met?"
"No, he was breaking in to try to grab me for ransom. He figured I
wasn't the normal sort after that fire. Especially since he just
told me whatever they gave me down there was experimental and the only
dosage. He was going to ransom me to Uncle Phil."
"Did we do blood tests to figure out what it was?"
"Yes. Which is the other reason Uncle Phil sent me to you. He even paid plane fare."
"He's getting reimbursed?"
"Not likely. Out of pocket at the counter." She sat down
hard, staring at him. That was not a Coulson-like move. "But
he wouldn't tell me what or why."
She sent him a message and he sent back a file number. She logged
into SHIELD and looked at it, then gasped. "That would awaken any
gifts you might have hidden, like magic or like some sort of enhancing
shot." She looked at him. "He thinks it relates back to
those geeks when you were little as he put it." She put her phone
back into her pocket. "We are leaving the hotel in twenty
minutes." Xander made sure all his stuff was packed, including
rescuing a few things she hadn't packed. Which got another eye
roll. He took his turn wiping down things, picking the bathroom,
which was usually the harder surface to get. Natasha checked his
work and nodded, letting him lead the way out the door so they could
If she had to, she'd treat Xander like she had Clint when they had dated
in Clint's younger years. Though, if that happened, she would
break him of his habit of making everyone get loud and needy. She
was not that sort of woman.
Buffy walked into the new training center the new agent-in-charge had
put up for their upcoming agents, staring at the man playing poker with
someone. Tight jeans, tight t-shirt with an overshirt, slightly
shaggy hair that needed a trim, expensive sneakers. "What're you
doing back here?" she asked.
Xander looked over with a grin. "I'm back to help your ass again." She gaped.
"We made sure Xander was fit for patrol and backing you up," Clint said,
staring at Buffy. "That way you don't have to worry about him as
often and Xander's women don't really get to come here." He
smirked at the boy.
"Did she tell you we ran into Anya and her current sugar daddy in
Asia? She said he had great stamina and knew a lot of moves but he
was kinda tiny and didn't care about her orgasm count. So she
stole his wallet, let Natasha into his office, and hiked off." He
looked at Buffy again. "Beyond that, I'm here to help. I
told you before I was going to make sure that one little girl didn't
have to do it on her own."
"I'm not a little girl!" she complained.
"You're almost a foot shorter than I am," he quipped. She
huffed. "Beyond that," he said, finishing the game but losing that
hand. He stood up. "Let's spar, Buffy." She stared at
him. "Only way you'll realize it." She nodded, so Clint led
them to a sparring room. Xander waved her on. "That's why
I'm wearing these. We have team training today."
"Yeah. Even Willow's getting team training. I'm told we'll
be having team training once a week and individual whenever we need it."
"What if that's going to counter our schedules? I'm busy, Xander."
He stared at her. "You have two free hours a week," he said dryly. "And I will be from the construction site."
"I like it. I work with my hands all day, I'm hauling, hefting,
and toting so I don't need as much time in the gym." He
shrugged. "Been doing it now for a week and I really like
it. Natasha made me take a test and all that to see what I was
She blinked at him. "She's here?"
"Somewhere." He waved her on. "C'mon."
"I'm not in clothes I can fight in."
He looked at her current outfit then at her. "I've seen you on a
patrol night date in them," he said dryly. She glared. He
stared at her. "It's my town to protect. I was born and
raised here. Frankly, someone asked the guys who responded to my
mother's report of me hanging on her and thought I might've been born
somewhere near the school." She gaped. "Sunnydale is *my*
town and if you're going to protect *my* town then you're going to have
me there." She glared and threw a punch, which he blocked.
He ruffled her hair, which pissed her off. Buffy attacked
semi-harder. Xander knocked her on her ass for it. He
grinned. "I had Clint working on my training for the last six
weeks straight, Buffy. C'mon. I can handle you with the way
he tried to bruise me." She lunged in an all-out fight.
Xander took it and dealt with it, blocking most of her hits and getting
some of his own in. It worked and there was no more doubt about
him being untrained by the time they were done. Buffy finally gave
up with a huff and stomped off. "Patrol, eight?" he asked.
"Normal starting place or the college?"
"You're not going," she said. She smirked. "I'm the
slayer." He threw something at her head, knocking her down.
"I'll go on my own then." He grinned. "Though that means
that you'll have to beg for shit later when you need it. Because
you and Giles can't repair crossbows and he's not getting new ones now
from the Council. Not since you fired them." She
gaped. "That's one of the jobs I have on your team, is your
armorer. I'm your weapons fixer, Buffy." She slumped,
staring at him. "I don't give a damn about your petty high school
shit. I'm willing to let it slide. Let bygones be
bygones." His phone beeped twice so he looked at it.
"Natasha's coming to talk to us in a minute and...." He changed
messages. "Hey, I have a date tomorrow night." He grinned
and answered her that it'd have to be an early or very late one because
he had a middle-of-the-night commitment.
Natasha walked in. "Tell her no, Xander. No dating while training."
"Too late," he said as he hit send. "It's even one you set me up
with." She scowled at him. He shrugged with a grin.
"You did." He showed her the name. She groaned and shook her
"I see you couldn't weed that out of him like the ugly t-shirts," Buffy
complained, standing up. She looked at what hit her. "Bean
"Useful for knocking out normal people and that has wood sawdust with
flecks of silver in the material." Natasha tossed it back at
Xander and looked at Buffy again. "You cannot do it on your
own. That way leads to a quick death." Buffy glared.
"It does. That's one reason why you have lasted years when the
prior girls lasted months." She stared the younger warrior
down. "We will work on it so your team is better integrated, as it
"Not going to do more than back you up. You are not his sort," she
said bluntly. "Even if he had childish hero worship for you
before, you wore that out of him in your senior year," Natasha
said. Buffy flinched and looked down. "Beyond that, having a
team means that your weak spots are covered."
"I don't have weak spots."
"You do or you wouldn't have been on the floor when I came in and the
spar would've taken less than thirty minutes. By the way, Xander, I
saw that shoulder drop and you pretending to be lesser to soothe
her. Do stop that." She didn't even have to look at him to
know he was looking embarrassed.
"Thank you." Buffy gaped. She stared at her. "I
contributed a lot to his training. The three of us that have
worked on him are quite proud that he's our equal in some things."
Xander grinned at her. "Thanks, Natasha."
"You still need work in many areas, Xander."
"I know, but I can be flawed and still great, like you guys are.
No one's perfect and if I was I'd already be in spandex and body armor."
She smiled slightly at him. "Yes, you would be. If you go on
that date with her I will make sure of it and that you're posted with
Clint so he can deal with your dates for a while."
Xander shrugged. "Okay, and the bad is? He's taken out three
of my last few dates. Wouldn't that make me bait and
Natasha blinked at him. "I did not think about that." Xander smiled.
Clint leaned in. "Four, kid."
"Which one did you get?"
"The one you were going to see tomorrow when she showed up to kidnap you with a few soldiers for hire just now."
"Well, I guess I'm free then. Did you leave me anything to
loot?" Clint stared at him. "What? She gave me tastes
for real food! You know what I'm making on the construction site
and how much rent is."
Clint rolled his eyes. "Your uncle did it for you." Xander
yipped and ran out to pounce his uncle. Clint looked at
Natasha. "You set him up with Emily?"
"They seemed well suited and she was only mildly dangerous, plus in my way. That got her out of my way."
"Huh. Well, yeah, a lot out of your way now." He went back
to overseeing the training center. It was his duty until the kids
could become a real team. Or were well on their way. He and
Natasha were rotating in and out while SHIELD, the FBI, and a few other
agencies used the town to train their new agents. The college got
some new classes offered. The high school as well because some
incoming agents were deficient. Which upped the level of the
education for the students, always a good thing. They had even
hired two witches from a very uptight coven to help around town with the
magic BS no agent wanted to deal with.
It's go. They'd fix the broken team, make it into a real team, get
Xander calmed back down, get Buffy to date someone nicer and human, get
Xander to quit leading on rich, evil women like Natasha had taught him
to, and they'd fix this town's issues too.