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Humans Causing Hunts.

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Humans Causing Hunts.






Xander looked around New York City about eight months later. He had managed to bypass most of the bad things but the battles had still happened. He still had visions. Unfortunately. Willow was still going off the deep end of the magic addiction pool unfortunately. Tara had moved to the Devon Coven to protect her and Willow had thrown a fit about it. Some things had come to pass. The slayers had all been activated in time for the battle. The battle had sucked in the town. Xander was in New York for a few weeks on his way overseas.

Giles had gathered all the potentials and leftover watchers together before the battle, saving more than they had in the vision. Who were still active and cranky that a normal guy was doing their job with them. He hadn't gotten them any help though. His email had went unanswered until after the battle had happened, and the aftermath being on the tv. He sent back a 'I asked for help, you didn't answer' and left it there. So now he was in New York defragging for a few days before he had to hit Africa.

"Damn it, we need him," a male voice complained from the alley next to where Xander was checking his phone.

Xander looked in there. "Is there a huge problem?"

"Don't worry about it, kid."

Xander smirked. "I'm not a kid and I've handled some pretty bad shit on my own. Can I help? Or lend you a phone or something?"

The guy glared at him. "We need to find our friend, his girlfriend just got taken by someone."

"Anything unique and metal on him? I can find metal things but not people."

"Um... What?"

"Yeah, it's the world's best mutation ever," he said dryly. "It helps a lot on patrol and things too. Unique and metal?"

"He's got a katana?" the guy said, looking at the girl.

Xander used his senses. "Twelve of those in a seventeen block area."

"He's probably in a cab," the female said. "And he's got a lot of guns."

Xander considered that. "Two, one's in a tunnel or something," he said with a point. "The other's a walking gun factory and about two blocks that way." He pointed again. "If he's the one in the tunnel, he's nearly out."

"That explains why he didn't answer the phone."

"Now," Xander said. "He's in the open now."

They called again. "Hey, it's us. Your lady friend got taken, they want you to appear somewhere in an hour. They didn't tell us where, they're going to text message us. No, a friendly, nosy mutant sort helped." Xander shrugged and walked off. "Thanks. Yeah, here by the bar. I'll text when we get it." He hung up. "He's going to meet us back here in about an hour. He's that far outside the city."

"I never met that guy before and I've at least heard of all the local mutants," she said.

He shrugged. "It was helpful." They heard someone scream and looked. That guy was beating the living crap out of someone funny looking. "That's weird."

"No, I don't think the kiddy eating demon needs to be near a daycare," Xander growled. "Move it. Before I finish going Sunnydale on your ass."

"You're not a slayer," the demon moaned up at him.

Xander smirked. "Do you think I need to be? Really? With all the time I spent helping a few of them?" The demon got up and lumbered off. Xander grimaced. "Someone really has to do something about them." He huffed and walked off, heading for the overlord from the vision's area. Yeah, he was there. He smiled at the same guard that he had met in the vision. "I saw you in a vision when I came to tell the overlord I'm local. Can I do that and mention I had to beat the living crap out of a kid eater who was hanging out by a daycare?"

"Sure," the guard said, letting him in and going to tell the boss.

The overlord came out sneering. "Who are you, Human?"

"Xander Harris. On layover until I can go train the missing slayers."

The overlord flinched. "Why are you here?" he demanded.

"It's not Cleveland. It's not LA. It's slightly closer to where I'm flying out to in a few weeks." He grinned. "I'm told it's protocol to let you know I'm local and I don't usually hunt but I did just find a kid eater outside a daycare."

"That's bad. I'll have them found. Which type?" the guard said. Xander called up their page on his phone and showed him. "A few of those have moved here from Chicago. They got run out."

"I wouldn't want ones that eat little kids either," Xander agreed. "Anyway, I'm local, not hunting unless I have to, and I was taught this was protocol thanks to a vision."

"You...have visions," the overlord said dryly.

"Willow's spell went wacky and activated my latent gifts. I had a few before the hellmouth fell in thanks to the First Evil." He shrugged a tiny bit. "We do what we gotta do sometimes."

"True. I don't know what to do about you."

Xander grinned. "Like I said, I'm not hunting unless I have to. I'm being a good boy."

"Fine. Go play. Stay out of my hair."

"I'm trying really hard. Oh, you guys have heard that the old Council fell?" They nodded. "That Cleveland had the new hellmouth?" They grimaced but nodded. "That visions are saying LA's going to have an invasion late next spring?"

"That I hadn't," he admitted. "Any idea when?"

"Buffy won't be calling me back for it. She thinks I'm normal too."

"Ah. Late spring?" Xander nodded. "Is it a natural occurrence?"

"I saw a black rose with full stem and leaves over the portal. Little biting things."

"That could be bad," the guard said, looking at his boss.

"Bad is LA is the home of the selfie movement," Xander said. "There's cameras *everywhere* in LA. Even worse than they do around here."

The overlord winced. "That will be bad." Xander nodded. "Do you have general visions?"

"I think just about upcoming battles. So far it's only been about upcoming battles and Willow losing her effing mind again."

"Which could be another battle," the overlord agreed. "Thank you, Harris. I hope you have a good vacation in my city."

"I hope so too. I've never been outside Cali before." He grinned and left, going to his motel room to check in then to find something fun to do. New York had to have fun things to do, right?

The overlord looked at his minion, who nodded. "That's why I got you, Sire."

"Good idea. I can spread that around. I hope he's got a low percentage of being right." He went to call the others he leaned on in the city to let them know that not only was a hunter up there on vacation but he had seen demons being outed in about a year. They had to make plans.

***

Xander looked up from his nibbling for breakfast when someone got blown past the outside of the small burger place. He finished eating while the other people in there sighed in disgust and headed for the back. He headed for the front windows.

"You can always tell the tourists," one complained to her friend.

Xander grinned. "I've been in worse battles. I'm making sure I don't need to go jump in." He looked and sighed. "And I do. Fuck." He finished his soda on his way out the door, heading toward the huge plant demon that was presently flinging people around.

"Don't go near it!" someone shouted.

"I have something that'll kill the demon plant," he called back with a wave of the empty cup. He poured it into the cup and shook it then threw the cup on the plant. It crushed the cup, spraying itself with the potion he carried. The demon plant screamed and dropped the people it had as it started to wilt. "You poor thing," he said dryly, staring at it. "Don't make me behead you." It tried to slither off but got burned by someone with a flame thrower. "Dude, that won't kill it. You have to remove the head." He walked off with a sigh, going to hide from his ringing cellphone. Because yup, that was Buffy's ringtone. He hit ignore and kept going to find something new and fun to do.

"Hold it," someone yelled. "Who are you and why were you interrupting the battle?"

Xander looked at him. "I've had one of those trying to lick me to death before because it was in heat. In this case, I knew more than you did. That's how I killed it while you were being flung up the street. So blow it out your ass and leave me alone. Thank you." He rolled his eyes as he walked off again. Someone tried to grab him so he kicked them until they let go. "Thanks anyway. Your shiny battle suits mean that you're not trustworthy and you're pretty much high on the douchebag list. I've seen people like you before, buddy, and you're not my type. So don't try." He got a cab and headed for the big park. They had things to do there, right?

The agent looked at the others. "We need to ID him."

"Command team says they have," another agent said. "There's something weird in his background and we're to report back to base once the clean up is done." That agent nodded and got back to picking up dead plant parts.

***

Xander looked over as someone sat next to him at the park. "Hey."

"Hey. Nice work."

"Thanks." He grinned. "I'm not into talking to higher ups with ideas. I've seen a few of those. No thanks."

"That's fine. Not here to recruit, just to figure out something." He stared at the guy. "We found you in the California DMV."

"That's good, that means someone hasn't hacked my files recently," Xander said dryly. "So?"

"What happened to your town?"

"A battle." He stared at him. "Which I'm not going to share about. If you want to know, go find my higher ups and ask them. We did a report when we managed to make it out of the town."

"Yeah, saw that. Pretty ...actually pretty decent pseudo-science BS, kid."

Xander grinned. "Thanks. You have a great day." He nodded at a strolling demon with her eggs in a stroller. "Pretty day, Whelping Momma."

"Yes it is, Harris. Thank you for handling that." She smiled. "We need someone like you up here again."

"They might sit a girl up here if they ask."

"I'll suggest it." She nodded at the agent and walked on.

The agent stared at her then at Xander. "Was she orange?"

"Yeah."

"Huh. Okay. That's interesting." He looked at the woman then at the kid again. "Who are you with?"

"I doubt you want to talk to them. At least until next year." He got up and walked off. "Have a happy day, Agent dude."

"Maybe." He stared at the kid, then had someone run a search on his cellphone. He had one, it had been on a waist holster. The kid also had a few hidden weapons somehow. That was very interesting. He went back to the base to report that contact. "Any idea?" he asked.

"Yes," the second-in-command said. "Unfortunately. It leads to places we hate to go."

"He said we'd be talking to them next year."

"I'm hoping we won't have to."

"Did we find out what caused the destruction?"

"A few people are wondering but most of them are ignoring it."

"Huh." He walked off. "Let me know if I have to track him some more. He's doing tourist things."

She nodded. "I will."

***

Xander looked up as the agent sat down next to him in another part of the big park. He had been followed and was tired of it so he was giving them a chance to figure things out.

"How did you bomb that town and what did you use, Mr. Harris?" the agent asked, staring at him.

Xander shook his head. "It wasn't a bomb, it was sucked into the portal there."

"The US government doesn't believe in such things. Also, we've seen your records, boy."

Xander laughed, shaking his head. "That was all made up by the former Mayor's people because he was dirty and our little protection patrol to lower the death rate bothered some of his things."

"What happened to him?"

"He died in the explosion that was our graduation. Which was his problem trying to attack our graduation." He stared at the agent then at the lady who was trying to be unobtrusive. "You've got a telepath with you, she can tell you exactly what happened." He looked at the agent again. "Beyond that, do you really think a teenager who has no money can suddenly start dealing arms?" he asked dryly. "Wouldn't that usually require an introduction, a lot of cash, and a few contacts? I hadn't been out of Sunnydale until my aborted road trip."

"Yes, we saw what you had to claim on your taxes. We thought perhaps you met a few there."

"Wrong thinking, dude. That road trip happened after graduation, not before, and those were serial killers. I have an unfortunate draw for those who are deadly." He grimaced and made a sucking noise through his teeth. "It happens. If any of my ex girlfriends were around you could ask them but the last one died in the same portal that sucked in the town. Body unfortunately unrecoverable with the other few people we know who died there." He looked at the telepath again. "Am I lying?"

"No. You're covering up a battle."

"Yes I am." He grinned at the agent. "Also, what does the name International Council of Watchers mean to you?" The agent flinched, shaking his head. Xander nodded. "I worked with one of their girls. Thankfully most of the old timers are gone and we're rebuilding it a lot better."

The telepath came over. "You're a primal," she said bluntly, staring at him.

"No, I fell into a shaman's working area trying to help another student and got possessed by a hyena. She's real friendly though." He grinned. Then at the agent. "Anything else? You're annoying my first touristy experience before I leave the US for a few years. Someone's got to go find the missing girls and teach them how to protect themselves."

The agent cleared his throat. "So that was one of their battles?"

"Yes, and the former mayor was one of the things that got handled. Especially since no one in your agency or any other tried to stop him for the ninety years he had free reign to kill anyone he wanted for his plans. Gee, thanks, for allowing the thirty percent death rate some years," he said blandly. "All of us that are left are really not amused at you."

"We had no idea."

"Bullshit. Even the state knew and California isn't all that good on knowing much," Xander said dryly. "You guys did know, you thought it'd be better if it was there instead of a bigger city like LA. You guys proved it by starting a torturing military project out there and we had to end it, even after reporting it a few different times. Showed us that the government's not really there for anyone not rich and east coast." He stood up. "Anything else you want to know, go talk to the Council. I'm not authorized to talk to you or any other agent. And if you make me I'm going to end up becoming very bitter. We don't want that. It'd hurt the slayers." He walked off. "I hope you get out of whatever slavery contract they have you under, ma'am. You can be doing so much better for the world."

She sat down. "He wasn't lying, any of it. He was hiding the battles but that's all."

"Then how did that area get destroyed?" he demanded quietly.

"The portal sucked it in," she said. "His mind had the picture of making it out onto school busses and watching the town get sucked in behind them as they escaped." The agent shuddered. "We should talk to them. They're in Cleveland."

"Why?" he demanded.

"That his mind didn't hold."

"Fine. We can find them there." He got up and walked off with her. "He's a pain in the ass."

"His reputation is as a white knight," she said blandly, looking at him. "He's disappointed that those who could've helped didn't and made teenagers do it. It sucks when you're a war veteran before you're seventeen."

The agent winced. "I suppose that's reasonable. Will he cause us problems or start a militia?"

"Only if we bother the slayers. He has the contacts now to do that."

"Good. Just wonderful," he complained. He turned off their car alarm and remote started it just in case, then got in to drive to the airport. Cleveland wasn't a city he liked but oh well.

***

Xander found an agent he knew could understand things and followed him to the parking garage. "Got a few?" he asked.

The agent sneered. "I saw you following me."

"Not like I was trying to be stealthy. That would make you paranoid." He leaned on a car, staring at the guy. "Some of your people are asking about what happened on the hellmouth."

"The what?" the agent asked, blinking at him.

"Don't play stupid, dude. I'm Xander fucking Harris and I backed up the slayers for years without the Council liking me. The government's digging into Sunnydale because I got asked what sort of bomb went off in Sunnydale."

"Oh, shit," he muttered. "All right, can I take that report? I know we have a suitable coverup version."

"Yeah." Xander tossed him a brand new USB keychain he had bought earlier and typed up at a library. "The real goings on so you can get them off our asses. Giles doesn't need their help while he's rebuilding the Council so it works."

"They are?"

"We are," he agreed with a slight grin. "That way the girls are supported and are girls and have a life."

"I can understand that. We've had a few reports of how bad they were."

"Not Buffy. We go on Buffy's methods. Meaning we're all too tired to deal with anything but a problem.'

"That's actually good. Are they coming into the light a bit more now?"

"By the visions, we're having an invasion in LA next year."

"Oh, dear."

Xander smiled. "Exactly. She won't be calling me back for that but the girls will need the help."

"How many are active now?"

"All of them. Thanks to that." He nodded at the USB keychain. "Just make sure whoever should hear does so they quit digging? That way no one tries to experiment on the girls or take them into custody. Anything like that. Because then we'd have to be...creative. I guess creative is the best word to use." He stared at the agent. "Plenty of beings appreciate and respect Buffy. If only because she's come back to life twice now."

"I...I can do that, Mr. Harris. Thank you."

"Welcome. Just don't let them or SHIELD or anyone come near the slayers. Outside battles. Then they could use all the help they could get."

"I can see that point. I'll let the ones who should know have it to read over."

"Thank you and have a better night after taking something for your stomach. We had a few cameras that caught the sucking part after the battle and that's included." He left, going back to pack for his trip in the morning.

The agent went back inside and called his boss back to go over that information. They had sent that agent earlier and now it was looking bad. That agent showed up as well. He didn't want to believe but the reports from everywhere else backed it up. On that device was a file 'since he asked' and it laid out what an ascension was and film from their graduation to the point where the old mayor turned into a huge demon. They could pass that up so people quit asking questions. Plus the information that something was coming in LA the next year. That poor office, they needed to be remade so they were tougher.

***

Six weeks later, Xander walked into a bar in South Africa, heading right to a back table. When a guard got in his way, he stared at him until he moved. He walked up to who he wanted, staring at him. "Some of your people reported that the slayers got taken by agents?" he asked. "Are you sure they were agents?"

"They had on suits and dark glasses. They could have been others," the demon said, staring at him. "You're very brave, human."

"I'm Xander. I may have human balls but sometimes you gotta work with what you have. Any idea where they are now so I can go fix that?"

"You can't. You're one man."

Xander smirked. "With poker debts in the US." The demon stared, mouth opening. Xander grinned. "If I have to lead an army of poker buddies to save the little girls they took, so be it."

"Why care now? It happened over a week ago."

"Buffy never told me." He smirked. "So I'm flying out tomorrow if you hear anything." He put his card down on the table.

"New Council?"

"We rebuilt it better this time. That's why the girls are staying home if they can and protecting their own peoples." He walked off.

"Hunters are getting stranger," one of the others at the table said.

"That one...he's always been that way." That demon called his contacts. He didn't want to see what would happen if that hunter brought demons down on the government. They had enough problems with the humans getting into demon things.

***

Xander got a visit at his hotel room that night by an agent from England. "Sir, are you Mr. Harris?"

"Yes, I am. And you're a British agent." He stared at him. "What's up?"

"I'm to inform you that the ones who had the young ladies from Cleveland are now safely back there. A group of demons went to break into that research center without needing any debts. Something about a Buffy being quite upset."

"The slayer Buffy? Yeah, she was since those were her minis. Are the girls all right?"

"As far as I was told, no one took any harm." He stared at him. "A slayer? In Cleveland?"

Xander pulled one of his cards out of his wallet and handed it over. "It got rebuilt the right way this time."

"Oh. We weren't aware of that."

"I'm the training watcher down here. Now the girls train at home to protect themselves and are allowed to make the decision to patrol or not."

"I see. A few of your kind were found there."

"Then they'd better hope that I never find them or Giles doesn't find them." He smiled. "I can make sure they regret ever doing that."

"I'm hoping the demons did."

"Me too but you never know. They might've left them open for punishment." He smiled. "Thank you for letting me know I don't have to fly back tomorrow. It means I can go handle a local problem that's growing near one of my slayers."

The agent cleared his throat. "We're not aware of anything of that type going on."

"Then I guess I've been doing good in my months down here." He smiled. "You're welcome for not causing a panic before next spring."

"Thank you for that. Can I get a detailed report on what you've had to handle? We've had a few agents go missing over the last few years and it might be related."

"No because if I do then it'll get into other hands. Which will then cause problems. I really hate talking to your sort of guy. Especially the US ones because they try to alpha dog me and that just doesn't work."

"I can see how that would get annoying. We Brits don't do that."

Xander smiled. "Mostly. I've seen one trying and walked off giggling. Sorry about his ego."

"He probably needed that busted anyway. Can we have a general overview of what sort of problems you've seen? That way I can make sure anything like that gets mentioned to your people?"

"Giles still thinks I'm tragically normal. So does Buffy actually. Willow's still trying to convince people I'm helpless." He gave him a pointed look then tossed over his journal. "My map's in the back."

The guy flipped through it, grimacing at what he read. He came to a few battles and made mental notes then found the map. "Are these points of problems?"

"Key's on the back."

He looked then back at the map. "Oh, hell," he said, looking up.

Xander smiled. "Almost none of the girls that are called on this continent are above the age of puberty and the few who are, are mostly married off. All but two with kids."

"That makes sense and I doubt you're the sort to have babies doing things."

"Hell no. If I run into that sort I tend to make them regret it. Two of them are presently trying to get free of the temple I locked them in with the rabid demon goddess who got woken up by them forcing a baby slayer into her temple. I apologized for them forcing the baby and got her out of there then blew the doorway."

"Excellent. That's something I would've done as well." He handed the journal back. "If I hear of anything I'll call your cell, young man. Thank you." He left, going to tell his section head. Who sent that report up the line. They knew about the Council of old, and apparently the new one was more in line with modern ideals. It also explained why the peaceful demons of that area had broken into that research facility. Apparently the new people were much better at their jobs.

***

After the invasion, Xander sent out a few emails.

//I told you so. Maybe next time you won't let a bunch of teenage girls handle saving your asses for you. Pity about you being such cowards and enjoy the merry hell that the battle lasting for hours longer than it could have will bring you when all that comes out in the open.//

That would hopefully help. Because if they hurt the slayers, Xander was going to have to go back and handle that problem as well as the one he was handling today. Buffy had defended her not calling him back for it when he called to check on her and the others. It was the first thing out of her mouth when she answered the phone. So he told her he already knew she wouldn't and he was handling something himself today anyway, but that they needed to guard the girls better. Demons were now on the international news circuit. She groaned and agreed, then hung up while yelling for Giles.

Xander smiled at the slight memory then looked at his enemy's forces across the valley. He hated these people. They tried to take him and a slayer out. Now, they were here to supposedly kill him for fighting back but instead they'd get to be heroically killed in battle with a higher demon showing up in a few minutes. And yup, there was that portal as the other group tried to attack. The other forces screamed and ran from it but the demon attacked them. "You have to kill the head," he bellowed over the loudspeaker he had stolen. "The head has to come off. And just think, you wanted to kill the ones who would've handled this for you. Have fun with him, boys." He smiled and waved. He looked at the military guys with him, nodding. "Head has to come off," he repeated. They nodded. Let the militant idiots fight for a bit while they got a bigger weapon in place. That boom-splatted the demon's head and the militant assholes were all but crying about it. It was so pretty.

***

Buffy was out and about in Cleveland before patrol when a reporter strolled up to her on camera. "What?" she demanded. "I don't talk to people like you."

"Miss Summers, what do you say to the fact that more demons are attacking as religion got weaker?"

"I don't because that's not true. Our records indicate that they appear more frequently when religion's more hardline and fanatical. So if that's actually related, then you've got it backwards." The reporter gasped, staring at her. "Sorry." She smiled. "You can ask Willow to look those up for you. She does that sort of thing for fun."

"But...the invasion? Religion's weakening."

"Not likely with all the hardliners out there. Beyond that, they've been working on that for a really long time. Most of the big events take more than a few years to plan. In some cases nearly a whole century." She shrugged. "There's been a ton of problems in areas where hardline religion sorts are growing, and they've been growing with the problems. We have people training the rest of the slayers who didn't make it to the US and they've all sent in reports saying that same thing. Including one using that against that sort because they tried to kill the local slayers, who were babies." She walked off. "Have a better day, people."

"Prove it," she demanded, following her.

"Go find Willow. She does that sort of records. She does most of the computer stuff for the Council."

The reporter huffed off to the main building, where the guards wouldn't let them in. But they did call Willow out. "Miss Summers said that demonic problems grow when religion's stronger?"

"Yup." She went back inside and came out a few minutes later with her laptop. "This is the reported attacks." She showed her the timeline of them. "See how it's picking up as we get more fundamentalist? Pity." She closed her laptop and handed it to a guard. "Can you give that to Giles and tell him to make the others report in? I haven't gotten last month's reports from anyone." The guard nodded, going to do that for her. "Beyond that, Miss Bad Reporter, because I've seen some of your reports and they're lacking in research, a lot of demonic activity isn't evil. We have a growing population right now due to a few realms having genocidal asshats in charge so they're fleeing the wars. They're not evil or bad or going to attack humans, they just have to be refugees and most of them find cheap little jobs to support themselves."

"So they're illegally immigrating?" the reporter demanded.

"Is there a way for them to legally immigrate?" Willow shot back. "The US has known about this from the start and during the surge in the fifties for the same reason they handled it quietly. You still wouldn't know if all the agents out in LA had backed us up sooner. And yes, they had warnings it was coming. A lot of agencies were told and look, no one showed up to help. Apparently they thought teenage girls could handle it for them." She walked off. "Have fun twisting everything but we'll be releasing the gate tape if you get it too warped." She waved before walking inside.

"Well I never," the reporter huffed. Her cameraman was trying not to smirk at her. She glared at him. "Let's get this back and trim it." She stomped off.

Willow took her laptop back and sent that file and the gate film to a reporter that had done good while interviewing about the Council of old and new. That way the talentless cow was screwed for editing film.

***

Xander leaned into a bar. "Quit eating the reporters. They're saying you're evil and going to lead a group of people with flaming torches and pitchforks against you," he called. "Use them instead, people, so they quit thinking you're so mean and evil." He walked off to spread that message. When he got called into an embassy to defend Willow's research he sighed and got it from her. He even put on his cleanest jeans and overshirt, heading there. They sneered at him. "Not like you can wear a suit in the field," he said dryly. He looked at the ambassador. "Here, Willow's figures for the US and your country." He let him see it. "They had a small surge then because there was a rabble rouser during a time of sickness that had come from the humans." He pulled up those notes for him. The ambassador looked it over then looked up at Xander. "I don't do research. Willow likes that stuff. We let her do it because she enjoys it."

"We've had a few recently."

"There's some overcrowding in the hidden demon enclaves in your area plus some beings are testing their limits to perhaps be a bit more open. Most of the reported demon attacks your people report are humans beating them thinking they're mutants." He stared at him. "Which, civil rights aside, is wrong to me anyway." The ambassador sneered. "You know, the top ten scientists in the world today hold five mutants? One of them blue and fuzzy thanks to a lab accident.

"Some day you'll need him and others like him to save you. Why would they want to do that to the people who want to kill them? That's why I use the groups that try to hurt the baby slayers to fight things." He packed up the laptop again. "You can do your own research. I'm pretty sure you guys have universities with humanity programs? Willow suggested that because she's researching the next apocalypse battle. Thankfully it'll only hit parts of Germany. The next one in your area is probably in about five years." He nodded and left.

The ambassador threw a fit with Giles about his attitude but Giles agreed on what he had said. Including that for Xander that was considered polite because he didn't do political things and wasn't really up on all the social niceties.

Xander lost two reporters by going into a poker hall. Then he came out to grab one and dragged her inside, settling her at the table. "If you talk to them, they'll talk back," he said dryly. "Almost all the ones in here are peaceful and it's important that people know there's a difference." He sat down to play some cards. "I hate politicians." The demons grunted and nodded. "Don't play for her, guys. The regular people need to know that you're not out to eat them. They get panicky about that and anal probing." The demons mostly laughed.

"The aliens doing that seem mean," one of the demons said, looking at the reporter. "They only ate the annoying ones to keep them off the nurseries and the like. They would've led humans there and we don't want that sort of problem either."

"Amen," Xander quipped. "I hate it when I have to beat someone to protect a baby slayer too." He high-fived one of the demons. "Thank you for letting me pay off that poker debt that way."

"They needed it. They were threatening a five-year-old girl for being born," the demon said. "Scaring them was fun." He smiled at the reporter. "I'm an herbivore but I won't allow anyone to harm the girls. Even the ones that only protect their own families are still important to protecting all of us and you."

The reporter nodded. "I hadn't thought about that but they are. There's been attacks on the baby slayers?"

Xander snorted while nodding. "Many. Including religious cranks and others. Pity about them too. I nearly called down something to protect one of the girls from them. She was in the middle of labor and they were going to kill her and the kids. Thankfully I could handle it without having to summon something." He looked at her. "There's a whole lot like that in the world, miss. We'd all like them to quit causing problems. Then again, if they take out the slayers they'd better be prepared to handle the next problem themselves. Which they'll blame on us for not being there."

"He's made a few groups like that handle their own problems," one of the demons said with a smile.

Xander grinned back. "Yes I did because they needed to. If they don't want a girl protecting them then they'd better step up and do it. They think they're a military, they can do military things."

The reporter shivered. "That could be bad."

"Yup but they deserved it."

She nodded. "What about groups like Boko Haram?"

Xander smiled. "The local demon communities near them have managed to rescue some of their hostages and a few who buy labor for their needs have also released the ones that they bought off them. They hate them. We all hate them. Of course, they hate us right back and they can all die of it for all I care. They're a group who can handle their own problems." He grinned.

The reporter swallowed and nodded. "I can see that. What sort of card game is that?"

"Poker. Around here it's usually small, fuzzy thing poker. In the US it's kitten poker." He looked at her again. "The meat and flesh eaters use it instead of homeless people or assholes with agendas."

"Though those assholes with agendas do taste sweet," one complained. "We'd denude our food sources within weeks if we all nibbled on them." He looked at the reporter. "My kind do now and then take some that have plans to hurt humans. Doing that would normally bring retribution but the slayers applaud their sort going away since they want to torture and kill them and the local military is usually too stressed out dealing with them anyway."

"I can see why. Thank you for saving some humans from them."

"It's not a problem. They're tasty." He went back to his hand, winning the small groundhog. "Hmm, dinner. My mate will be pleased. She's with egg." He got up and walked off, taking that home.

"Remember to let me know if you hear about anyone going for the girls," Xander called after him.

"Of course. We'd hate to see you mad enough to summon something."

"I'm saving that for something huge." Xander grinned at the reporter. "You can take notes if you want."

"I turned on my body camera," she said with a point at it. Xander grinned and they got back to talking to this sensible human. She had good ideas apparently. Or at least the Knight thought she did.

***

A police officer ran up to Xander as they came out of the poker hall. "Watcher, we have a missing child."

"I can find things made of metal but not usually people," he said. "Or I can help physically search." The officer frowned. "Was she wearing anything made of metal? The more unique the better?"

"No, her father reported a plastic watch."

Xander nodded. He looked inside. "Guys, there's a kid missing," he called.

"If it's the little one with the red dress yesterday, those animals took her," someone inside called back.

"No," the officer said. "We hadn't heard anything about that."

"We can see. Same child?" The officer shook his head. "Lead me to where she was last seen. Let's see if I can find anything." The officer took him there, saying something to someone. Xander looked, frowning at something. "That's...yurga snot," he muttered. "They don't eat kids." He looked up and around then hurried off to find the few yurga he knew in the area. He found one and pushed her against the building. "One of you left residue where a child was taken."

"You know we don't eat humans," she complained.

"I know that. I figured one of you heard about it and I'm being mean enough so they don't try it themselves," he said in her native language.

She nodded. "Thank you for that, Knight. That priestess came for a child earlier."

"Do we know what priestess?" Xander asked in English.

She shook her head. "We know not of who she is with."

"Could she be with that group outside the town?"

"No. She has starless eyes, Knight."

Xander looked back at the officer. "Priestess that seems blind?"

"I've seen one wandering around."

"One of them took a child earlier from that area." He looked at her. "A little girl?" The demon nodded. "A little girl?"

"It was. We can look. The other option is where?"

"She's not affiliated with the ones outside town," Xander said. "Who got that little girl yesterday."

"Her parents gave her to them," the demon said.

Xander grimaced. "I hate parents like that." He repeated that for the officer, who grimaced. Xander looked around. "What neighborhood was that?" The officer answered so he looked at the demon.

"No, different child and that residue belongs to Charles, who went to the temple to pray."

"Can you get him?"

"I can ask. It's wrong to force him from the temple. As it would be your people." She went to do that.

"She's getting the community member who was there since that's apparently a different girl." That one came out of the temple to look at them. "There's a missing girl where you left residue."

"She was pushed down by some other children and they were going to blame me for working on the street there," he said in English. The officer groaned. "I did not touch her, I called your sort to help her. She's down that hole. The children sneered about me doing so."

"I'll look there. Thank you for your honesty. Did you tell the ones you called that?"

"Yes. We do not harm children. Children are sacred to us. We protect many special children."

"I know you do," Xander said, patting him on the arm. "Which is why I'd never do more than ask what you've seen." The demon smiled and nodded, walking off talking to the other one. "Let me see if I can find that priestess for the other one, and where that other group is."

"Please. Are they nice beings?"

"Very. I'd never threaten them but some of the others around here would." He smiled. "They see me doing it and won't themselves."

"Good point. We have seen that in the past." They went to find the girl in the hole. She was injured but as soon as the other children started to say a demon did it the officer told them what he knew. One of them started to cry and confessed, so her friends tried to kill her for it before they got there. The girl apparently was thought to have a small mutation so she was 'evil' to them. The officer chewed on them and the parents.

Xander made sure the paramedics would help the girl. "The other kids decided she was evil."

"That happens," one agreed. "They're usually poorly educated." They looked at the girl. "She may have a slight mutation. We'll have to take her to the city hospital."

"Because the other won't treat her?" Xander asked. They nodded. "Hmm, education lacking professionals then too." They nodded. He put some money on the girl's chest. "To make sure she gets good care." They nodded, taking her off, letting the doctors take that payment up front. Xander walked off shaking his head. Sometimes he hated humanity. He went to find that priestess, walking in and staring at her. "We have heard you have taken children."

"They come to my goddess of their own free will, Knight," she said, her sightless eyes staring down at him.

"Really?" he demanded. "Will their parents see it that way?"

"Yes. They agreed she was destined for service with us."

"Because she's a mutant?"

"Yes. It is safer for her. We will protect our own." Xander grimaced. "As you've seen."

"I have. Frankly I think it's wrong but humanity is wrong that way."

"True. The parents agreed because it will save her."

"If the child wanted something else, can you and will you?"

"Yes. We serve Yorba, Watcher."

Xander nodded. "I know of her myths." He looked at the few children in there then at her. "Do you actually have the means to protect them?"

"We will tomorrow. Another priestess comes."

"Thank you. There's a worry about that gang outside town."

"They would use these for sport, being unworthy of being bought."

"I hate their sort. Greatly." The priestess smiled. "What of the boys?"

"Yorba only has females in service but I will see if another will come to the area. We know many here grow because of the problems." Xander nodded and bowed then left. "Sometimes, protectors have to be protective, girls. Otherwise people will expect them to react badly to such things and kill us to free you. He knew the truth and allowed it but had to make sure you were all safe. There are many that aren't." The girls nodded. "Now, let's go back to lessons."

Xander went to talk to that officer. "The priestess is of Yorba," he said quietly. "It's protective."

"That figures. Will she protect boys?"

"No. That priestess is asking another one who will protect them to come here. There's apparently some sort of growing problem that makes mutations come out faster near here."

"That's been heard but no one can stop it."

"Is it mystical?"

"No. It's something from long ago. We think it may be some sort of ancient temple."

"That I can look at for you." The officer smiled. "Do you want me to find that gang?"

"There is not much the higher ups are going to do about them."

"So they're going to leave those kids there being abused?"

"We would like not to but no one will take them in and the children will go back to those same families. We are free to drive them off."

"That sucks," Xander said bluntly.

"It does. We do not appreciate that but we have no way of protecting them. Would that temple take in the girls?"

"I have no idea. Would the local missionaries who run the orphanage?"

"They're overcrowded." Xander nodded once. "If we had a way...."

"There may be one. Let me go scout them. Some evil groups are better than others to their captives," he sighed. He went to do that, finding they were an offshoot of a group he knew about. He called them and told them what he saw and their leader agreed that was not their ways. They would come stop that one and make sure the children were given real safety. Xander had to leave it with that. There wasn't anything more he could do. At least that other group wouldn't raise them to be used and abused.

He hated humanity and some days he wondered why he worked to save any of them.

***

Buffy looked at the problem going on then at her watcher. "I have no idea how to deal with that, Giles. It's humans."

"I have an idea but the witches are being resistant." He went to talk to one, who complained about Xander not being human. "No, he was tainted by figuring out why people were being changed back in high school." He glared at them. "He is part of the team."

"He was wrong before then," one sniffed.

"I didn't know the Goddess hated some of her creations being born funny," Tara said, then looked at Giles. "We also can't reach him. His phone's going to voicemail."

Giles led her to a sink so they could run water and scry. "No, it appears he's just off one." He turned on the phone again, making the boy flinch and check it. "There. Will you need my help, Tara?"

"Andrew and I can do it," she said quietly. "The Goddess hates those who hate some of her creations." She went to get Andrew, who helped her summon Xander once he was dressed and had weapons. "There's a human cult."

"I've seen a few of those," he said dryly, hugging her then Andrew. "Please feed me dinner. I haven't eaten in two days." He walked off to go find Giles. "Human cults?" he asked when he found him. One of the witches glared at him. "Unless you want to save your own ass, stop it. I'm the same Xander I always was and if you don't appreciate me because I can find metallic things, then up yours, bitch. I have too much to handle in Africa to have tact with an old biddy who usually has manners." She huffed off. "I had to save a few kids yesterday that were going to be killed for being born," he said dryly. Giles patted him on the back. Xander looked over the information. "I saw this one happening in Germany in a year." He looked up.

"This is an earlier attempt by them and they're all possessed."

"Will they hate it when they're not possessed?" Xander asked.

"I'd like to say yes but I have no idea," Giles admitted. "We can't capture one to see."

"I can do that." He looked back. "Ladies, we gotta go capture a cult member."

"There's a hate group outside," one complained.

Xander went out to talk to them. "If you guys harm a single slayer's hair they won't ever come out to handle shit for you again. That means you'd better learn how to use a sword," he said bluntly, staring at the leader. He had the megaphone, he was in charge. "Unlike you guys, I've managed to do the right thing since I was sixteen. You're pathetic and trying to harm girls for being born."

"They're mutants too!" one shouted, throwing something at him.

Xander caught it. "No, they're slayers. That means a higher power anointed them to do this sucktastic, soul destroying job to protect all your dumb asses and they'll die doing it some day. It won't be from you and it won't be today, or else you'll go as honor guards."

"If that's true then they shouldn't need you," another one sneered.

"Yeah, let's see one girl doing it by herself. She can't be everywhere at once."

"There's more than one now."

"Yeah, we had to activate more to save your asses before our town fell in. Otherwise you'd already be dead. You're welcome. Now get off the private property before I blow your asses up. I'm not the nice one and I've just spent a *charming* sixteen months in Africa defending those tiny girls." A few backed off looking scared. "Shoo, go. You're not wanted here."

"It's a street, that means it's public property."

Xander stared at him. Then he smirked and went inside, coming out with a flamethrower. "You can go or you can *go*," he said bluntly. "I'm too tired to deal with your asses. I don't have tact, I never learned anything like it, and either you leave the slayers alone or I'll be the next evil and they can't take me out." He lit it up and the rest of them fled because they realized he was going to kill them.

"You become the next evil and I'm letting Willow change you into something that we can slay," Buffy said from the doorway.

Xander turned off the flame thrower. "If I become the next evil it'll be to protect you guys anyway." She rolled her eyes. "Let's go capture one."

"We can't. They can feel us."

"Fine. I can do it." He handed back the flame thrower. "I'd suggest doing gate patrols with it." He got a few weapons and headed out after a sandwich Andrew handed him disappeared into his stomach. The cult was easy enough to find. News crews were there. Xander shook his head and boldly walked in. "Sorry, gotta talk to the possessed people. They'll be trying to cause an apocalypse in Germany in six months." He grabbed one member and walked him out, hauling him to the car. The guy tried to have his possession move over but the guy screamed when that possession met his retained ones. "What, scared of hyenas?" he joked. He hauled him into the car he had bummed and drove him back to the Council. He handed him to Giles. "He tried to have his possession pass into me. Pity. It didn't like mine."

Giles looked at the boy. "You could use a break."

"Yup, but yesterday I kept people from killing little kids for being born different. Great things humanity does." He walked off, going to make kitty noises at Andrew until he got more food. Andrew smirked but gave him some. "Thanks. Maybe it'll make me less militant." He took his plate outside to look over the protestors coming back. "If you hate us that much, I'd learn how to use a sword, people. We're not going to let a single slayer sacrifice herself to save your asses."

"We don't need them," one of the women shouted.

"Bullshit. You'd already be dead if it wasn't for us. The one we fought for graduation would've killed most of humanity within a year. Or enslaved the rest. Which one did you plan on being?" He ate another bite. "Personally, I'd sit there and laugh at you being enslaved. It's sad when I've met truly evil things and people that're better than your supposed good ones. Hell, I met a few serial killers who have more ethics and morality than you, lady. Have a fun time solving your own problems."

Buffy leaned out. "If we do that, they'll blame us anyway."

He looked up at her. "I'm not going to let a single one of you out to handle anything when you'll be killed for doing so. You're not a sacrificial princess, Buffy. None of you are. They can handle it themselves if they hate us that much. The girls could probably use a vacay anyway."

"Probably. I know you could."

He nodded. "Yup. But hey, militant yahoos quit acting up around where I was because they know I'll make them deal with the shit going on." She smirked. "Seriously. One of them wanted to come kill me and one of the baby slayers so I led them into the area where a demon portal was opening. They got to handle that since they didn't want there to be slayers. I'd suggest these morons do the same." He looked at them. A few were trying to back away from the demon appearing. "He's peaceful, just really tall." He looked at the demon. "Huge problems?"

"The hellmouth is glowing."

Xander pointed. "They don't want the slayers to do anything and want to kill them for being born. I'd suggest they go handle it." The demon winced. "I'm not letting a single slayer be sacrificed for this bullshit. They want us gone, they need to handle their own problems."

"We're not trained for that!" one woman yelled, throwing her sign at them.

"I jumped in at sixteen without any training," Xander said bluntly. "You're older than I was. It's sad that you hate babies for being born." He looked at the demon again. "Serious threat or simple thing?"

"Simple thing probably."

"Then it'll be good training for the next few battles. They can do that. It's probably beheadable or stakeable?" The demon nodded, starting to smile. "Then have fun, people. You want to do the job, go do it. We're not going to come anywhere near any of you. Because if a slayer dies due to you guys, I'll kill you all. Happily." Most of the group stomped off to gather guns and go to the park where the hellmouth was. "Bert, please make sure it's not something peaceful?"

"Gladly, Knight. You've done good work down there."

"Yeah but I'm seeing way too many people like these ones. Though these ones would probably hate being compared to native Africans." The demon walked off laughing, sending that order by text message. Xander looked up at Buffy. "The witches hate that too."

"Well, witch is one way of saying insulting things," Buffy said dryly. "Some of them live up to it." Xander nodded, going back to his dinner. "Why didn't you eat for two days?"

"I've been protecting ten little kids who were dangerous because they were born with a slight mutation. The locals were going to kill them all." He looked up. "All the mutations are from an ancient temple. I've looked and it's not an artifact, it's radiating fro the temple itself. They're mad about that. I told them to move if they're that worried."

She smiled. "You've just lost all the tact we taught you."

"Yup, sure have. It was pretty useless." He put the plate down beside him and went back to watching the gate. "Tell the girls no patrols?"

"We're already on no patrol status." She went back inside. "Giles, is that weenie going to be more problems?"

"Yes, apparently it was of their free will and they wanted to be that way." He looked outside then at her. "I have no idea how to stop that."

"You blow up their goddess," she said. "See if Willow can do that?"

Xander groaned and held his head. "No, she can't. She's infected by another one. Go do a seance with Willow?" She went to talk her into it. That infection was a bad thing and the one inside Willow left when Giles did the exorcism. Xander came in to do his own, making Willow groan as more left her. "Someone forgot to do protections," he said dryly. He went back outside. Bert the demon showed back up with a report. The few that were harmless were saved before the 'yahoos with guns' got there. They tried to shoot at a demon and it ate them for it. So win-win in Xander's book. Maybe not in those guy's books but oh well.

***

Xander was on a vacation in New York City, mostly a vacation but also to handle an issue that the local slayer couldn't. Xander walked up to the problem then hit him as hard as he could on the chin. "You're interrupting my vacation from the assholes in Africa who believe kids are really demonic. Do you mind?" he asked dryly. The guy got up and Xander hit him again, and again, and again. The guy took a swing at him and hit Xander so Xander pulled out a bigger mystical weapon and used it. "That's better. Dumbass. Now I can go on vacation if you've decided to quit causing problems around the slayers?" The guy moaned but fell backwards.

"Suck it up, dude. You'll heal. Feel lucky. I could've picked up so many other mystical weapons to use on you. I picked something light because you're an easy fix and an idiot. Now, get the fuck up, limp the fuck off, and leave the slayers the fuck alone. This is your only warning and next time I'm siccing Willow on you." The guy moaned again but didn't move. "Good. You have a better life, dude." He walked off, smiling at the slayer. "Bad things begone stick," he said at her look at the weapon. "It works very well."

"I'm sure it does," she agreed, nodding slightly. "Did he deserve that?"

"Yeah, by the looking up I did, he did." She just nodded. "I had to trick a militia into handling a demon immigrating to Africa because they wanted to kill me. It's been like that down there."

She nodded again and pointed. "Have fun at the spa or wherever, Xander. Oh, Kennedy's taking over up here."

"Tell the tragic bitch I said hi and I don't know why Giles sent me up here instead of to a real beach area." He walked off. "I'm going to watch tv. I kinda missed tv."

"Sure," she agreed, waving at his back. She called Giles once he was out of hearing range. "Xander really needs a real vacation, Giles. He has some sort of mystical weapon and used it on the guy stalking Sargi. Said he'd seen worse too." She listened. "He said he didn't know why you didn't send him to a real beach area but he's going to watch tv because he missed tv while he was down there and something about tricking a militia into handling a major demon problem for him because they wanted to kill him. Yup. Thanks. No, the guy's still groaning. I'm going to call him an ambulance."

She hung up and did that. When an officer got there first she smiled. "He was bothering one of the younger slayers as a stalker," she said then shrugged. "Our normal guy showed up to teach him to leave her alone. I'm sure he's kinda feeling better since he was under some stress but I'm doubting the guy is going to be stalking anyone else." Her phone rang with a text message. "Oh, he's wanted on two rape charges too. One statutory and one without the age limit." She looked at the officer. "Our normal guy."

The officer called in the guy's ID from his wallet when he found it. He was wanted on two warrants. "Ma'am, next time tell the guy to be less mean and if this one wants to press charges he's still liable for them."

The guy shook his head while crying. "No," he mumbled. "Not."

"Okay, that's fine," the officer said, looking at her. "Some of us like you girls being up here."

"We're training some of the girls going overseas soon," she said dryly. "Our normal guy was training the girls in Africa."

The officer nodded. "I feel really sorry for him." Behind her someone got hit with something that sounded like a bolt of lightening.

"Oops, I think Willow found her ex-girlfriend. Let me go check on Kennedy." She hurried off to do that. Yup, Kennedy was in a moaning pile. Another ambulance call and the same officer came to see why. They had a talk about methods to stop a cheating girlfriend that didn't include magical lightening. She promised to pass those on to Willow.

***

Xander looked at the woman who was begging him to see if he had seen her child. "I haven't seen any kids, ma'am, but I've been at my motel all day. Is she wearing anything metal? I can help find metal things." She gave him an odd look. He waved a hand. "It's a gift."

"Her medic alert bracelet."

"Okay, that's unique so easier to find. What's the last two numbers?" She looked in her wallet then read it all off. He pointed. "Three blocks that way. C'mon. I'll help in case it's a case of a bad guy too." He led her to the playground, where the kid was trapped and asleep inside a falling in play structure. Xander looked at it while the mother got the kid woken up. Xander lifted a piece and the mom got the kid out. Xander smiled at the mom. "I hope she's okay, ma'am." He walked off.

"Thank you." She hugged her daughter. "You're getting it when we get home," she said, carrying her off. "You're in *such* trouble!"

Xander grinned. "At least that little one won't turn into a backup for a slayer," he said as he walked in the other direction. He was just out looking for dinner. He ran into a group of mutant kids and nodded. "Pretty night, kids. Be safe."

"We want your money," one sneered.

Xander stared at him. "No you don't."

"You're a *normal*," he sneered.

"No. I've got a less than physical gift but I find metal things." He shrugged. "Beyond that, I'm the guy backing up the slayers. They get it just as much as you and I've been defending little kids just like you and them in Africa for the last year and a half. So, no, you don't." He gave one a pointed look. "The action figure's under your pillow. Quit thinking about it so loudly as a test."

He walked off. The kids groaned. He knew they probably couldn't find a good foster care spot for them, because some humans were assholes to each other. He felt sorry for the kids but he didn't have any idea how to help them. If his cash had helped he might've but they clearly weren't that sort of gang usually. They had no idea how to rob anyone. Yet. They'd probably learn. He heard a gunshot and hurried back there, kicking the ass of the person who had shot one of the kids. "They're little kids!" he shouted as he kicked the guy around.

"How dare you shoot a little kid for daring to look funny! It's people like you who are the problem with humanity and I hope like hell all of you die like you wanted to do to them!" An officer showed up. Xander moved to help the kid. "Hey. It's all right." He looked at the area. "That's not a bad one, only a graze. We can bandage that. I've had to do some. Anyone else injured?" The kids pointed at one of the little ones in the back. "Oh, shit. You got hit by the passing bullet. He's got a gut shot."

"Sir, he's a mutant."

Xander stood up to glare at him. "So?" The officer backed off. "Are you saying they aren't worthy of being humanely treated for injuries caused by someone just like you?" The officer backed off, running for his car. "You know what, I'm pretty sure I can get you some help. Put some pressure on it since it's not bleeding a lot but it'll hopefully stop the other stuff." He called the local house. "I need the number for the local healer's clinic, Kennedy. A little mutant girl got shot just now. Really? Are they that petty?" he demanded.

"Which one won't? That'll work. Thank you." He nodded and went to hijack the police car with the officer. "Good, we're taking her to a healer who will treat her humanely. You can help." The officer swallowed but nodded. "I don't let this shit go on around me. Humanity has to be better before I give up and the world falls when the slayers can't handle something." He gave the officer an address and they took off with the lights running. Xander carried the kid in, nodding at the reception nurse. "Hey. Gut shot thanks to an idiot, bigot human. I'm sure you've seen plenty."

"We do but we don't see too many mutant children. A few of the healers are touchy but the main one isn't. Who are you?"

"Xander Harris."

The nurse winced. "We have heard, Hunter. Thank you." She went to get the main healer. "A gut shot, m'lady."

Xander nodded. "An idiot human." He handed her over. "I can bandage the other's arm."

The nurse looked then pulled that one over to help. "We can do that just as easily, child. Most of the peaceful demon community would not harm you." The kid nodded, looking at the others.

"She's right, most of them get the same thing from the humans you do," Xander said quietly. "Some of the non-peaceful... Well... I can't lie about them." The kids settled around the waiting area. The officer made a report and called in then left them there. "Are there safer areas they could hide in?" he asked.

The nurse nodded. "There's a few but the peaceful demons are scared that they'll bring more attention or that we're going to be overtaken. I don't understand it myself," she admitted. "We've had mutants hiding in the community for ages."

Xander nodded. "That's what I figured. These ones apparently had to band together for protection." He looked at the oldest one. "Are you somewhere safe?" The kids all shook their heads. "Got an overlord pushing you?" They shook their heads again. "Then that's actually a good thing. Maybe we can find you guys somewhere safer to at least hide." The main healer came out and he bowed, then held out his mastercard. "I know you can't do it for free, m'lady."

"The injury wasn't so terrible. The bullet clearly was slowed by the graze the other one got." She stared at him. "We don't like to get involved in that, even though the humans see us the same way. It makes many feel weird."

"Which I understand but it's wrong," Xander said. "I've had to hide some of your kids and some of their kids both from the same groups in Africa. Unity makes communities stronger."

"True, Knight. Many of us agree. Just some reactionary blowhards."

"Yeah, I know about them. Real well," he said dryly, smirking at her. "Will the others be able to see her?"

"I can keep her for two days. It'll mean she won't infect," she told the older children, who all nodded. "We'll make sure she's safe and fed. If humans come here, we'd evacuate her with the other patients."

"I'm so surprised we haven't had a civil rights loudmouth step up," Xander said, staring at her. "I foresaw one."

"He got killed by the humans."

Xander smiled. "Not all of them." She shivered. "Exactly. They're coming out of the woodwork. Even if one is like Al Sharpton have to come out too."

She laughed. "It would be nice but he doesn't like our kind either."

"Of course not. He forgot the struggles of his forefathers." He saw lights outside then looked at her. "Usual problem?"

"They try," she admitted. "We have protections."

Xander nodded. "How far do they extend?"

"Beyond rock throwing range." The window got broken by something.

Xander took it with him to throw back at the light then went to yell at those guys. Two were cowardly enough to back away. One tried to get into his face. Pity about that guy's leg and arm. Xander walked over him because he wasn't worthy of concern. "I'm going to make sure you're treated like you want to treat others," he sneered. "I know a few witches who think that's a just and a good idea." The one on the ground got pulled up and hauled back to the truck so they could race off. "Bye now!" he called with a wave at their taillights. "Have a better night!" He looked inside then grinned. "Let me go be a big shiny target, dear." The healer smiled. "Take enough off the card to give them subway fare?"

"I can do that, Knight." She ran the card and handed it back to him. He winked and walked off. She sighed, looking at the children. "More humans should be like that one." They nodded. "You're safe. We have apples in the back if you'd like some?" The kids all nodded again. She got them something to eat. Another client came in and complained but the nurse glared at her. The healer looked over. "They got shot at by humans. Not like the human hospitals will treat them. They're treated just as poorly as we are."

"It's like we're cousins," the nurse agreed. "Of a slave species." The client piped down and let them handle her egg checkup.

***

Xander looked at the guy who was there to meet him. The guy was glaring. He stared back. "I don't care," he said bluntly. "You called the meeting. Why?"

"You are notably a mutant who people want to know about. What are you going to do about that, young man?" the man in the wheelchair said.

"I'm going to keep protecting the world, old fart. The same as I have been. The same as I've been doing what you haven't and protecting little mutant kids who don't have useful talents or because they look a bit funny."

"I...."

"If they don't have combat capable skills you don't give them a bit of care. Have you set up foster parents for some of them? No. Have you set up suitable hiding areas for the adult ones that are being burned and run out of their homes? No. So don't even *talk* to me about your agenda. Frankly, at least the other side is clear in their desires. Not one I like but they're clear about it. They never pretended to care for the kids who aren't useful to them. Unlike you." Xander stared at him. "I've seen plenty of people like you. They lead militias and military movements in Africa. They're never good for the whole of the people."

"Hey," Logan said. "He tries."

Xander looked at him. "Really? How hard is it to find someone who wants to be a social worker and use her to set up foster homes in the system for the mutant kids who desperately need some?"

"Probably not that hard. There's a few of us who do the work," Logan admitted. "That's a really good question though." He looked at his team's boss. Then at the kid. "The ones we heard you got to the demon clinic?"

"They'll all be fine the last I heard. They had banded together as a tiny gang for protection and were trying their first robbery with me. The guy after me shot them." Logan winced. "It's sad that even the peaceful community can't agree that you're in the same boat so should start rowing with you instead of against you."

"You're one of us too," the Professor said.

Xander snorted. "No, I'm nothing like you. I protect *everyone*, even the ones that don't have a use. You probably would've ignored the gunshot going off. I don't do that and I hope like hell I never do. Even if I have skills, great. I may have a tiny mutation as well. Super great. Frankly, you guys have pissed me off thoroughly over the last few years. When asked for help, you didn't give it. Twice now. Frankly, don't expect the slayers to help you even if demons do attack you." He looked over at one staring at them. "You can join in. I know you're part of the community."

"I am. My husband is a seller."

Xander grinned. "I bought from one of his clan for slayer birthday present weapons in Africa."

She smiled. "That's always a great idea. Which one are you?"

"Xander."

"Oh!" She covered her mouth with a flipper. "Oh, wow." He smiled. "Thank you." She bowed.

"I do what I gotta do," he said with a bow back. "I think your husband's job has to be harder than mine. He can't harm the ones that annoy him." She walked off giggling. "Can you introduce the topic of the mutants being in the same boat and rowing in the same direction?"

"Many have talked about it, but some feel it brings too much attention. Some feel that it's a wrong evolutionary step. You know how some of the old lines are."

"Yeah, they do the same thing the old line watchers do," Xander said dryly. "Unfortunately I had to take some baby mutants last night to a healer's clinic because they couldn't be seen by anyone and half the healers in the city won't see them either."

"It's a point that can be made, Knight. It's good you still care."

"There's days," he admitted. "But mostly I'm tired of the asshole community. I'm supposedly on vacation." She smiled and nodded, going on. He looked at Logan again. "They have their own social workers, their own orphanages, all that. Why don't you guys do that?"

"I don't know," he admitted. "Probably because we can't get anyone to handle that."

Xander pointed at the glaring older man. "Really?" He stood up. "Have fun. Oh, and this year it's in Germany in six months, and up here. And here's is going to be nasty as shit. It's payback for not helping in LA." He walked off humming.

"When for up here?" Logan called.

"Few weeks. I'll be gone by then." Logan groaned. "Beheading by the way and they have poisonous spit." He waved back at them.

Logan sat on the bench, nodding. "That's going to be horrible." He looked at the steaming mad old man. "He's right. We don't. None of us think about the kids who aren't useful so they're not invited to the school." A demon went running past them, but it looked like it was jogging. He looked at the Professor again. "Why did no one think about putting up an orphanage at least? There's plenty of mutant kids dumped into the system as soon as they're born or manifest. We have a few of them at the school."

"We don't have the means."

"Worthington does. Others do. It's also something that lets the kids find a life that might be safer than being pulled onto a team or over to Magneto's side."

"I can't believe he sided with them."

"He didn't, Chuck, he said he appreciated that they were clear in their goals. No one doubts why they do things. We all know what they're after. Plenty of us on this side have lots of secrets." He stood up. "You and I both know that." He walked off. "Let me see if I can find out from the kid when that problem's going to be."

"We don't have to fight it."

"It's our world too and we can defend it," Logan said firmly, glaring at him. "Not all problems come from mutants who want other agendas. Sometimes it's a bigger thing. Even their side doesn't want the world killed off." He walked off shaking his head and puffing on a cigar. He ran into a SHIELD agent. "Get me Romanoff. We gotta talk." The agent sneered. Logan quirked up an eyebrow. "Now, boy." The agent huffed off but called in that request.

***

"Send me Romanoff." The agent walked off to go find her. Maria Hill looked up. "We have an enigma."

"The man this morning?"

"Yes. Apparently he was Watchers Council."

The redheaded woman stared at her. "Interesting."

"Yes, he is. I want to find out more." She smirked. "You have fun."

"I probably will." She went to look up the young man. He was odd and that could be dangerous. She found him that night trying a fashionable pub but staring at the plate of not-food. She settled across from him. "Many places think it's fashionable then they charge a lot. I can tell you that will be sour."

Xander nodded, eating the two bites. "It was. Huh. Well, at least I've tried that." He smiled at her. "You're going to make my date mad."

"I already arrested your date for the evening," she said blandly. "Do you know what she did?"

"Yeah. I met her when I was in Oxnard for three months." He leaned on the table. "I don't talk to agents. It's not my job." He waved the waitress over, handing over a fairly large bill. "Let me head to the movies since my date ducked out." He smiled. "Keep any extra as a tip unless it's tiny then I'll add more."

"That'll leave about five dollars." He put another five on there with a smile then left. "Thank you, sir." She looked at the woman.

"I was only asking him a few questions." She left, following the young man. He did go see an action movie and then went back to his motel. It wasn't a bad place but not anywhere near the quality of even a Holiday Inn. She spent the night watching him and looking up the people around him. "Cleveland?" she asked dryly. When the boy came out for a soda a few hours later, she snuck up after him. He blatantly shut the door in her face and turned off the lights. She laughed. "He is very mouthy. Reminds me of a few agents I know."

"If they're good in bed, introduce us," Xander called. "Have a better night."

"Fine." She'd wait until he woke up in the morning. She showed up with coffee the next morning.

He stared at her for a minute. "I know evil women like me so why are you flirting?"

"I'm not but we need to discuss things. Before others try to interfere or get you to follow their ways instead."

Xander took his coffee to carefully sip then shrugged. "If it's drugged I'm pretty sure I'm immune and I'm leaving the city in a week and a half to go back to Africa." He settled on the bed. "Beyond that, I'm told I'm not allowed to talk to you, ma'am. The head people said so."

"I've looked up the ones around you." She shut the door and sat across from him in the lone chair. "How are you immune to drugs? Your mutation?"

"No. I can find tiny metal things for that. The resistance is from other things. Which I'm not sharing."

"We have ways of making people talk, even if that is a cliche."

He grinned. "I've probably had worse. After all, you guys are only humans." He smirked at her. "You have a great day." She nodded and left. He sent a report to Giles about that then went to hang out in Times Square. There were all sorts of shows down there, even the street shows were cool.

***

Logan walked into the mansion and down to the labs that only Hank McCoy used. "SHIELD's got their nose up about the kid. So does Chuck."

"Great." He looked at him. "What happened?"

"They had a talk about failures in the system."

"Charming."

"And he told me I could probably go help when the next battle hit New York, it'd be just as bad. He's still disappointed in no one helping the girls in LA." He stared at him. A female strolled in. "Natasha." She put down an older file from England. "What's this on?"

"A better background check and profile on the boy." She looked at Logan. "I was following him when I saw him chew on you. What happened?"

"The boy sent an email asking for a few people who could help fight in a battle," Hank told her. "I thought it was a joke."

"He told me a whole bunch of teenage girls handled it," Logan said. "He's real disappointed that no one helped in their last two even when he asked for help. He warned a lot about LA and no one stepped in. I agree, it still sucks that teenage girls are out killing demons," Logan said. "I don't like that."

"Neither do I. Harris said they can't take the calling from them."

"Figures." He grimaced. "We can probably offer them some training. The girls could probably use it."

"Indeed," she said quietly. "Including adding some agents to make sure that they're not going back to the old ways." The lab's phone rang with a voicemail. "That's convenient timing."

Hank played the message on speaker. "Putting agents into the Council will mean the girls will be harmed by the government. Which will mean I'll be blowing up agents," a certain male's voice said. "The visions on it are already dangerous and we'd feel honor bound to give the girls ways of killing everyone if we had to. Just let them do their things and leave them be, but please do jump into battles. They could use *that* support. Before you get them all taken in by someone just as bad as the old groups that had the same ideas are now." Then the message ended.

She sighed. "Someone has visions."

Logan nodded. "He's right, someone will want to know. They did about us mutants."

She nodded. "All too true," she agreed. "We can help protect them and be more subtle."

Hank cleared his throat and put up a site about that project. "Two someones have already tried. One the old group shut down and the other, a lot of demons went to rescue the girls."

They read it, grimacing. "It's good it's gone," she said. "I hope it stays gone. Can I have a printout of that, Hank?"

"Of course. Just so your bosses don't try to start it again." He looked at Logan. "Would any of our enemies try to take in a slayer?"

"Not with any ease," Logan said. "They'd hate the magic stuff."

Hank took off his glasses. "Magic?" he demanded.

"Yeah. They're mystical."

"Great," Hank muttered.

Natasha smiled. "We feel the same way about that subject. SHIELD will certainly not want involved in that."

Logan nodded. "We hope."

***
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