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Hunting in the New City.

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Hunting in the New City.







Xander appeared back in New York thanks to the coven. Giles was with him. They took a cab to the slayer house and Xander walked in first. "Morning, my lovely new slayers to train." They all stared at him from the table. He grinned and pointed. "Our beloved overlord speaks."

Giles swatted him again. "Behave, Xander. Yes, ladies, with all that happened it's my decision that Xander will take over this house. Kennedy, you're being assigned to London."

"They'd like to keep things quiet," Xander said. "That's why they forgot to warn a college." She groaned but nodded. "You've got three girls there who're all in school. Not a lot of work though. The peaceful community there is ancient and strong. They're almost absolutely quiet."

"That's good. Thank you, Giles. Any other big changes?"

"We'll arrange for you to go in a few days, Kennedy. Xander needs a few more days of rest anyway." They all nodded.

Xander grinned. "I'm a fierce nag about homework and all that stuff, ladies. I'll be going on patrol with you once I'm not limping. Is Mya coming up?"

"She and her mother, and she's vowed to kick Willow again," Giles said dryly. Kennedy coughed, shaking her head. "Willow had a rather...strong reaction to Xander being tossed in a gulag to be tortured thanks to them thinking he was a demon."

Xander nodded. "I adore Tara and I'll bear her babies in thanks for her help during that two months."

Kennedy stared at him. "Seriously?" Xander nodded. "What happened?"

"The guy who did the ascension shot at the meeting I was in. I asked to go to a demon healer due to the problems with my blood. They raided the clinic and threw them all in jail. Of course, I'm not the guy to let anyone be tortured while I sit there." She winced. "So I went from one gunshot wound to later on two and a pretty bad two months. So please no pouncing, ladies." They shrugged but nodded, eating again. "Anything I need to know right now before I unpack the few things I still have and go buy t-shirts?"

"School's out right now," one said with a smile.

"Great. That means you guys can get in more sparring practice to learn new things," Xander said, looking at Giles. "Do we take them to lessons?"

"We can if they wish to go to them," he agreed, looking at the girls. "Any sort you'd like, including art or whatever."

"Why would we do art?" Kennedy asked. She looked so confused.

"Because if your life is slay and repeat you get worn out sooner and die sooner," Xander said. "That's why I'm burned out and have nightmares."

She grimaced. "Huh. I never thought about that. I guess. Girls, do you want to do art or take cooking classes?"

"Or stuff that'll count toward college?" Xander asked. "There's probably some summer camps for that stuff too." He sat down with a sigh of relief. "Sorry. Two more days for the stitches to come out and another four of antibiotics." They all nodded they understood that. "If you guys find something you want to do, let me know and we'll work out a schedule." They nodded, going back to eating. Xander looked at Giles, who smiled and patted him on the shoulder. He frowned at Kennedy. "Your pendant's behind your dresser." She sighed but nodded, stuffing her mouth. "Girls, I have a tiny mutation that lets me find metal things like earrings." They smiled at him. "It drives me batty. Just ask. I've had people worrying about their keys during battles and had it pop up with the location." They nodded. "Also, I know we have an overlord, can I have a report on the local community, Kennedy?"

"Yeah, I can do that. We stay out of each other's ways. It's easier and safer."

"Great." He looked at the other girls. "Anyone got anything to do today?" They shook their heads. "Someone point me to where I can buy t-shirts?"

"I need new sneakers. You can go to the same mall," one said with a grin. Xander grinned back. "Buffy said you used to help her shop?"

"No, she used to drag me because I had mystical driving abilities and no opinion on her skimpy bathing suit tops and shoes." The girls all laughed. "Yeah. It was more traumatic than I think a few battles were. I'm very much the t-shirt and jeans guy. I get down and dirty with you ladies when you need me to. I go on patrols with you. We'll work out a schedule for that so you're not all overloaded."

"We get called to the morgue because the local cemetery's about three miles across and the others aren't any smaller," Kennedy said with a smile.

"That's great. Any we miss?"

"A few clubs."

"Even better! I haven't had to get down and funky in a while. There's nothing like the dance clubs in Africa. A few in South Africa at resorts but they're for pretty, rich sorts." The girls all moaned. "We had a few tea sipping bars but otherwise, not really any clubbing. You'll have to teach me the new moves, girls." They nodded. "Once my leg heals." They smiled at him. His axe hopped into his lap. "Oh, yeah. During the convergence, the pretty baby here flew down from Asgard to be adopted." He held it up. "It's a very nice and handy axe." They all cooed at it. The axe liked that and sucked it up. Then it settled down. He looked at Giles. "Can we go over the budget and all that?"

"Once they've eaten and you've had something. It's about time for a pill anyway, Xander." Xander got a piece of toast off the table to nibble on while he pulled out his pills. One of the girls handed him a glass of milk, getting a grin and a nod back so he could take that.

***

The day that Xander's stitches came out of course there was a problem. Xander was hauled out of bed by Kennedy, who was pointing outside. Xander looked. "Is that an us problem or a them problem?"

"It's a higher demon attacking youngish mutants."

"Okay. Let me put on pants and boots. Get crossbows. Most of them don't have silver or wood allergies. Just beheading and fire ones." She nodded, going to tell the others. They geared up and left together, the girls with the crossbows. Xander looked up at the large demon then sighed. "See the belly button jewel? It's holding the protection spell." They hit it after a few attempts and then shot at the demon to drive it off. They had to follow it. It went back to the river and that's when the mutant teams showed up. Xander pointed. "Beheading," he called. "Had a protection spell on it. Might heal itself."

The head of one of the teams nodded and passed that on. Xander got the girls out of the way. "We'll step in if they can't handle it. Keep any others off the teams." They moved to do that while Xander stepped in to handle one of the legs that wasn't being harried. The demon screamed and hopped around holding his sore ankle. "What? I'm cranky, you woke me up!" The slayers all giggled at that. The demon swatted at him but that let the others handle it while Xander distracted it. They finally got it down and Xander lit it on fire. Xander looked at the slayers, who motioned they were fine and watching all the asses in spandex.

"Harris," Logan said. "What're you doing here?"

"My appointed duty as the new head of the New York slayer house," he said with a grin.

"You're limping, kid."

"I just got the stitches out. I still have a few days of antibiotics too." He grimaced. "Shit got bad."

"I heard. You better?"

"Enough. I'll handle it. Call us if you need us, guys." He yawned, walking off with the girls to go back to the house for breakfast.

Logan looked at his teammates. "That's Harris, he was the watcher guy in Africa." They all shuddered because they had heard. "He also has visions." That got a mass nod. They cleaned up the mess before the NYPD stepped in to help them with it. They went to hide for the rest of the day. Hopefully the kid was calmer and less harried than Kennedy was.

***

Xander leaned down to pant, gulping air as he stood up. "I'm so happy that I didn't have to jog in Africa," he complained. He flopped down on a bench, staring at the guy who had been trailing him since he had gotten a coffee before his run. "So, who're you and what do you want?"

"You're a primal."

"No, I had a possession by a alpha hyena," he corrected. "She's still up there but more quiet. It helped a lot over the years."

"You smell like a primal," he said, moving closer.

Xander nodded. "I probably have a very weird scent matrix thanks to things like battles and being splashed with demon blood." He grinned. "I'm peaceful to anyone who's peaceful to me. You don't have to worry about me or my slayers attacking anyone in the mutant community unless they start it and then I'd have to handle it for them."

"Not all of us are, boy."

Xander smirked. "I heard and I'm staying the fuck out of it. That's politics and bullshit as far as I'm concerned because hey, neither side is doing what they should be doing to protect their own community. Like the little kids." The guy winced a tiny bit, just a flinch. "Exactly. I'll protect them but you big guys getting into battles, handle it yourselves and don't even think about coming near the slayers. I may be just a guy but I'm just a guy with artillery." He smiled. "Good enough?"

"Some wanted to know which side you stood on."

"Mine. Because both sides have major, fatal flaws that include not protecting little kids who are being killed for being born." He stared him down. "Got it?" The guy nodded and backed off. "Cool. Then let me go back to remembering how much fun I had in Africa not jogging." He stood up and jogged off, more slowly this time because he was tired.

The mutant went back to report to the head of his pack, who agreed that was the guy's usual methods and they had no problems with the guy. Though he corrected the guy about him being a primal in hiding. His new demon contacts had some interesting things to say about that boy.

***

Xander looked up during a battle and glared at someone. "Dude, quit thinking about metal things?" he demanded to the guy in the all covering red and black bodysuit. "It's a bit distracting."

"Sorry."

"Thanks. I can't help more than tell you that you left your spares in the car again." He shot the being trying to take them down. "It's so nice I didn't need my axe for this." He shot a few more and reloaded but oh well. There was SHIELD too. "We could all use reloads," he yelled. Someone tossed them boxes of shells so they got back to work on the aliens, which looked like green short-legged jellyfish. He ran out of bullets again and no one had any spares. "Damn it," he muttered. "Someone blow up the fucking ship!"

"We can't, they have a jammer," someone yelled back.

Xander looked at her then shook his head. He looked up. Then he ducked behind something and called. "Curtis, Xander. I need an emergency bit of help and I'll pay you later tonight, man. No, I need a non-jammable bomb. Like yesterday. Yeah, I'm with the jellyfish aliens. Thanks, man." He hung up. "One's coming." The agents looked at him. He grinned back. Two demons snuck behind the line to put the bomb on the ramp of the ship and set it off then ran like hell. It went off in a cascading set of explosions. "Awww, it's the snot bomb. That's so cute."

"I want that recipe," the guy in the bodysuit said.

Xander grinned. "You'd have to be able to get some demon byproducts to make it." He stole a downed agent's gun and shells, getting back to the few who weren't injured. The ship's fire was leaving a crater in the street but it was New York, they'd had worse recently Xander decided. They killed the last one and Xander looked around. "What's in that area they were guarding?" he called.

"Eggs."

"Squishy like acid would kill them?" One of the barely alive jellyfish groaned but got cut by the guy in the bodysuit. Xander walked over to look down at them, testing one with a foot. "Permeable shell but probably won't get eaten by an acid. Ask someone like Dr. Fuzzy?" he suggested to the agent.

"If you tell us how you knew to call those demons about that bomb."

"I called a contact that deals to off-realm wars. Which is the major reason for immigration to this world."

"Oh. Okay. What was it?"

"A few different demon byproducts put together with some silica and a put into a plastic tube."

The agent blinked at him. "What?"

"Yeah. Damn handy and it burns like thermite." He grinned. He looked over as someone stomped over. "You're late. Is Dr. McCoy with you?"

"No. He's at the lab but saw the battle. He said to try a heavy base instead to dissolve them."

"What's heavy metal going to do to eggs?" Xander asked.

"The chemical kind, not the musical kind," the agent said dryly. "We can try. We're going to take them to a lab so he can show up to help us?" The big guy with metallic skin called that in and nodded. "Thank you, Colossus. Have you met our local head watcher?"

"Hey," he said with a grin and a wave. "I know Logan."

"Many do," he agreed. He looked at the one in the bodysuit, who was strolling off. "We will be talking, Deadpool."

"Yup, sure we will. Let me know when to come for tea." He disappeared into the nearest alley.

Xander pointed. "Can I touch your arm? I can find metal things and I'm thinking that someday someone may want me to find you." The mutant nodded, holding out his hand. "Hmm, organic but metal. Thanks." He smiled. "That way I know what I'm looking for if you get lost or something."

"That could be helpful at some point in time. Are the girls here? One is my penpal."

"Kara's at cooking class this morning." He grinned. "I told her to." The man smiled and went to text her instead. He looked at the agent, who was still giving him an odd look. "It's up to the slayers to decide if they want to patrol or be more normal girls. They're allowed to take any lessons they want and they had better all graduate high school at the least, if not college. Kara likes to cook so she's taking a cooking class."

"They get to decide?"

"Yeah. They get to decide. Over half of them take the training and then go onto have pretty decent lives, and maybe fall in for huge battles. Most of them protect those around them but don't really patrol. But if something happens in their towns they step up." He smiled. "We're not the old Council. Our girls have choices and they get to make them."

"You're raising most of them."

"Thanks to the emergency before they got activated, they were being killed off brutally. Most of them don't have families. The ones that do show up for a few years of training then go home or whatever. A lot of the girls on patrol only really patrol during college then they go to battle only status."

"Huh. We didn't hear about that."

Xander nodded. "I so had a happy dance when the old Council got blown up with the way they used to treat the girls. We had one show up in Sunnydale. I felt so sorry for her. Her watcher didn't even put her on a plane to Sunnydale. She hid in the wheel well." The agent winced. "Yeah, but he had raised her from a baby. No, we don't do that. That's why we're the *new* Council. That and the field watchers are expected to go into the field with the girls. If my girls are on patrol, I go with them on a rotating schedule so I'm out there four or five nights a week. If we get one of the trainees up here, I'll be the only one they go with constantly and the other girls can rotate both of us."

"Did your girls in Africa patrol?"

"Not really. Most were in smaller towns or villages. Only one was from a city and we had to evacuate her during the uprising in Egypt. My girls handled their areas and were taught about all the rest, but we had a shit of a time with huger problems down there. Every single year we had at least four battles. I'm just glad my girls are getting to grow up since most of mine were minis instead of at least above puberty and ready for the harder training. I did a lot of self defense training plus school stuff with my girls. The older ones I taught how to handle things and they're training the others as they get older. The ones that have kids usually bring one of the minis in for a few months at a time to work on her harder training."

"That's a good system. Thanks, Harris."

"Welcome." He smiled. "If you guys have a concern about a girl going out too young or something, come to me or Giles. We'll definitely look into it."

"We will. I'd still like to know about this ...you called it a snot bomb."

Xander grinned. "It's pretty neat too but you'd have to be able to get demon byproducts, which means playing kitten poker." He walked off happier. He tapped Colossus, nodding. "I'm going to pick up Kara if you two wanted to hang out." He nodded, following Xander to his truck. He sat in the back but he was too tall to put in the cab. Xander pulled up outside the community center with the cooking class, his girl hurrying out to climb into the back. Xander opened the slide window. "Should I ask about the black eye?"

"Someone who thought baby slayers should be in battles. I handled it and chewed her a new one before she punched me and I didn't hit her into the next room. I got praised for not hitting her back and damaging her. I pointed out she probably wanted to sue someone to get out of debt," she said dryly.

"Okay. Let me know if you're not coming back here. Want the park, the mall, or where?" He drove off.

She looked at him then in the cab. "The house?"

"Sure, if you want. I've got to do a gun inventory and order restocks." She giggled. "And you have sword cleaning this weekend, young lady. No putting it off or playing slayer rummy to hand it off. Mara sucks when she cleans it. Always leaves on extra polish."

"I can do that, Xander." She grinned. "We have tiny chores."

"So do we around the school," he agreed with a smile.

Xander parked and they got out, heading inside. Xander put the wards back on his truck and headed inside to start his inventory. One of the girls brought him some soda, getting a hug for it. She giggled and ran off to do fun things. "When does school start?" he called after her.

"Three weeks."

"Then make a battle plan to attack the mall, girls. I want it by tomorrow, including where you're shopping and your supply lists. Because I'll drop you off but I'm not walking into a mall unless I'm saving you. I don't need the flashbacks."

"Yes, Xander," the girls all called from where they were. They settled in to look up what they needed and Kara got her buddy's opinion about the better malls. He might go help the girls. It was better than listening to Kitty or his usual partner talk about shopping.

***

Xander woke up to a rude person shoving his shoulder. "I only got to sleep an hour ago," he muttered, not opening his eyes. "Unless it's an emergency, make your own toast."

"There's agents here looking pissed off," one of the minis said. Xander groaned and sat up, blinking at her. "They wanted you for some reason. Did you take out another huge thing? Giles said you had."

"I've taken out more than my fair share," he said dryly, smirking at her. "The girls in Africa were mostly younger than you." She grimaced. "Not like I was going to have them do anything." He got up and pulled on a t-shirt, heading down with her. He stared at the agents. "I've only been in bed for an hour," he complained. "Is it world ending?"

"Possibly, Mr. Harris. You had someone contact some of our people?" one asked.

Xander stared at him. "Let me preface this asskicking by saying I saw the octopus thing years ago when Grant Ward showed up to talk to the slayers, guys, and I wasn't going to butt in then. Now...I'm about tired of humanity at the moment." They both winced. "You come near me and mine and I'll have to react. You don't and that's all you on you action and I don't think I could care most of the time. Got it?" They nodded. One pulled a gun. Xander waved him on. "I've had worse, motherfucker. Come try it." They pointed it at him more firmly. Xander hit him with the door then kicked the other one back into the street.

"Have fun with that, dude. Really. If the octopus loving freaks come here, we'll handle their asses and make them good boys and girls again." He smirked evilly. "Because you just activated my asshole senses. We're going to have fun with that." He slammed the door, looking at the two awake slayers. "HYDRA is trying to take out a few agencies and a few governments. I hate visions. Never have visions if you can help it. And if agents come up to you, you don't know shit except how to get away from them. There's very few agents I trust and you saw a few of them saving New York during that last huge battle." They nodded. "Good. I'm going back to bed. Wake me up in time for lunch." The girls nodded again, letting him go nap.

The girls looked at each other then shrugged. "They said Xander had to be mean in Africa," one said.

Her sister slayer nodded. "Clearly. Before Sunnydale fell in, he was more goofy." They got to work on breakfast.

"The spoon you dropped is under the stove and yes, I'll notice," he called. "Quit thinking about missing metal things please."

"Sorry, Xander," they called. They moved the stove to get that spoon. He was so cranky sometimes. They sent a text message to Faith to talk to her about how to make Xander less cranky with others. He was always great to them, even the house's princess.

***

Xander was once again jogging when he ran into someone complaining about guys who wore way too many weapons. Xander rolled his eyes. One of them was watching him run. "I know I only draw the dangerous and deadly but damn it, I'm not pretty right now," he panted as he ran past them. He stopped to stare at one. "Must you really think about missing metal things?" he demanded, staring at him. "It's on him, like usual. If you asked *nicely* he might even give it to you considering it's giving him a rash." The guy groaned. "Thanks."

"Who're you?" one of the others demanded.

Xander smirked. "If you don't recognize me, you're not my type." He ran off again. "I take fix-ups and half the guys you know probably know about me."

"What?" the guy demanded.

"He's obviously got some sort of mental gift," the first guy said. "So maybe he's a mutant?"

"I don't know."

A pretty girl went running past. "Did Xander run this way?"

"Is he freaky and strange with a thing about metal?" the second guy asked.

She nodded. They both pointed. "Great. Xander!" He came running back. "Your axe is trying to get out to help with something that we weren't going to answer to." Xander took his axe to coo at then jogged off again. She sighed, walking off shaking her head. "I have no clue," she said, looking up. "Can't you make him date so he's more normal? Pretty please?" She went back to the house.

Xander got stopped by an officer at the edge of the park. "Sir, you're jogging with a battle axe in New York. Do you have a problem with people?"

Xander panted, leaning down. He looked up. "I'm the head watcher."

"Oh. Okay. So you're in battle training?"

Xander stood up. "There's no such thing as battle training. It's all the time training. I just didn't have to jog in Africa. There, battles were usually in a field, not running like they are here." He looked around at some fuming woman. "The metal thing you're looking for is under his bed," he said dryly. He looked at the officer, who was giving him a funny look. "I have the gift of finding metal things," he said dryly. "Anyone who's thinking about finding metal things around me tweaks it and I suddenly see it. That and the visions suck when they go together."

"I bet," the officer said. "Why do you have your battle axe?"

"One of the slayers brought him to me. He wanted out of the house. He's made on Asgard. He came down to be petted during the convergence in London."

The officer nodded. "Okay. Can you devise a cover for his head so no one has to panic?"

"I've been working on that but he doesn't like them," he said, looking behind him. "Um... shit." The officer flinched and winced. "Gotta go. The axe is going to be really handy." He ran off again. "Fuck this," he muttered. He sped up, pulling his axe off to hit the demon trying to kill the pretty woman. "Get off the ladies, dipshit! Don't you have better manners than that? Even I learned better manners from Rosenburg!" He took another swing, cutting into a paw.

"She's mine by right of poker debt, human."

"Prove it. I know the poker circuit and no one's able to bet anything as high as a slave contract." The demon sneered. Xander waved him on. "C'mon."

"I can handle it," she complained.

"Sure. It takes silver." He looked at her. Then he tossed her his hidden dagger. "You can help." He grinned. "I'm used to stronger women who go 'eww' a lot." He lunged in and got the demon in the stomach. She stabbed the demon in the head when it came nearer then kicked it in until it was a bloody mess. "Here, let me. Much easier but less stress relieving." He cut the head off. He took back his dagger with a sigh. He pulled out a card, handing it over without looking. "If you need us, call." He looked at her. "This is someone's dirty trick and I'm pretty sure we can help if you need us. After all, slayers handle demons." He grinned. "Want to get coffee?"

"Um...you're flirting with me?"

"Yeah. I think you're really pretty." He looked at himself. "Or later so I can get prettier myself if you want."

"I...we can get a drink off the cart," she said with a point. This guy was making her really confused but she couldn't feel defensive about him flirting. It was so weird.

"Sure." He grinned, walking that way with her. "By the way, I'm Xander. I'm the watcher in charge of the local slayer house." He held out a hand.

"Jessica." She shook it. "That's really weird."

"Really weird is when they want to lick you," he said with a grin.

"Yeah, that is too. I...I don't usually date."

"I usually only date assassins and arms dealers," he quipped with a grin for her. "I think you're nicer than that and we can be casual friends if you want. It's nice to know someone here in the city. I generally don't know anyone but a few mutants."

"Are you one?"

"Yeah, that metal finding gift thing." He shrugged. "It's annoying but so are the visions I inherited." He paid for their drinks and they walked off again. "I've only been in the city now for six months. I've visited a few times on my way back and forth from Africa but usually only for a few weeks."

"I've been here for years," she admitted. "I'm a PI now."

"Wow, I'm feeling like Cordelia." She gave him a strange look. He grinned. "My ex-girlfriend, who is now gone, left our small town in California to go help and eventually be the vision source for a PI who was actually a souled vampire. So if I get a vision for you, I'll let you know. Though it might freak me out. She was the queen cheerleader of bitchy for a long time."

She shook her head quickly. "That's weird."

"Usually but then again, I jump into huge battles with a battle axe."

She nodded. "That's just as weird." She was trying not to smile. The guy was goofy but cute. Clearly not there to hurt her. "Where's the slayer house?"

"In the land of brownstones. All the houses on the street are brownstones." She nodded she knew where that was.

"Harris," someone male shouted.

Xander turned around to look that way while walking. "We're good. Someone sicced the demon on her. She's walking me home to make sure I'm a good boy." She gave him a dirty look. He turned around to grin at her. "He likes to scowl at me for some reason."

She looked back then at him. "You know Wolverine?"

"Yeah. I met him and a few others when their car broke down. I was working at a strip club in Oxnard and it was the only place with a kitchen open for about three miles. We talked a bit that night. Though I did ask him for help with a few battles and they never showed up. Thankfully teenage girls handled it." He grimaced. "I would've been there but I wasn't recalled from Africa and had a few huge problems around then anyway."

She shook her head. "You're nuts."

"Sometimes." He heard a man muttering and looked then at her. She looked scared, just in her eyes, and he nodded. "Need me to beat him?"

"You can't."

"Bullshit." He smirked. "I can and have." He waved a hand. "I've taken out hell gods by myself, Jessica. One guy who's stalking you?" He smiled. "Just let me know. I'm that sort of Knight too."

She punched him on the arm. "I don't need the help."

"Okay, just let us know. If you tell one of the slayers they'll probably tell me. Sometimes they're a bit bitchy and teenage girlish."

"I remember those years," she admitted with a frown back at the guy glaring at them. She looked at him. "You don't want him to get you."

Xander laughed. "Dear, I had a few possessions. One of which was a primal. All he'll do is wake her and I'll become more like my favorite hyena," he said quietly. "Or she'll drive me into a blood feud situation. He'll be pieces and I'll end up throwing up a lot after biting him. Telepaths aren't really able to get into my mind without a lot of pain." She gaped. He grinned. "Also, there's some books on shielding from telepaths in the library if you'd like me to get you a copy so you can read through it. We teach most of the girls just in case since there's telepathic demon species too. And sometimes you can get splashed with demon blood from certain species and suck up their talents, which is also telepathy. It can drive you nuts until you kill yourself if you don't know how to shield."

"Really?" He nodded. "I...I wouldn't mind looking at them."

"Okay." He sent a text message to Faith, who said she'd send them up. "Faith said she'd mail them this afternoon so they should be here by this weekend." He grinned. "You can pop over any time, you don't have to call first. Someone's always up. A few of the girls are actually morning people. Which is weird considering we work night shift usually."

She laughed. "They stay up?"

"Yup. Then crash all afternoon instead of doing homework." He winked. "Have a better day and let me know if you need my help. I'm the helpful guy sort. I even help friends move. Construction worker muscles and all." He smiled and jogged off again, heading home.

She tucked the card into her wallet and walked off sipping her water. Maybe, just maybe, some guys were worth knowing. That was so weird. But he did radiate good guy vibes. Very weird. She'd have to ask around about him.

***

A dagger came out of nowhere and hit the guy in the back of the neck. "Quit telling people not to come near me."

"You have demons that track you down to kill you," Logan complained, pulling the dagger out. "Get out here."

Xander walked out and used the little magnet in his hand to summon the dagger back. "You have bad guys who come to kill you too. Does that mean you're not allowed to have friends and date?" He stared at him. "Beyond that, you don't know me at all, Logan. So quit. I'm trying to make friends in this huge city and nothing is going to stop that. It's not going to make me leave. And frankly, if you piss me off enough I'll ask a poker debt if they'd like to test your immortality. Because there's mystical things that can remove it." He stared at him. "Friends are life and sanity saving in our fields. If you can't make one, that's you. I like making friends. So please butt out. Or better yet, go handle the shit I can't anymore because of the price on my head thanks to Egypt. I'd like to see you do it." He gave him a pointed look.

"I should kick your ass."

"You're welcome to try. I might end up in the ER but I can guarantee you'll be there beside me. After all, Xander takes on huge problems with a battle axe. You take on other mutants with your claws. I've dealt with bigger shit than you."

"Cute words."

Xander looked up something and held up his phone with a smirk. "Really?"

Logan snatched it to look at and went pale. "That was you."

"Yup, it was me." He snatched his phone back. "It'd be nice to be able to make friends again. It's been a long damn time since I had more than girls I had to make sure wouldn't die. Then again, if you were any sort of teacher you'd have the same feeling and need friends too." He walked off. "Leave me alone. Just...don't even show up if you can't behave like a normal person around us. I heard what you told one of the girls too by the way. So fuck you and leave them alone. I doubt you're a good teacher for them." He walked off shaking his head. "How the high and mighty need to wipe their own asses."

Logan glared after him. Then he stomped off. "Sometimes the truth is hard, kid."

"They live it more than you do." The sound of cars crashing stopped him. Xander looked at the two cars full of agents. "Wow, your agency's defensive driving class must've been full. What's up, HYDRA guys?"

"Harris," one said smugly. "A few agents want to talk to you."

"I doubt that. They never want to talk. And I don't succumb to torture. Sorry." They tried to grab him but Xander fought back. He got down two of them before one tazed him. Xander laughed. "Cute. Thanks. Drive me toward bloodlust, mother fucker." The agent backed off when he started to growl. "Come on if you're comin'." That agent backed off further. Xander looked back. "I can handle it. I don't need the help."

"I'm not here to help them."

"Great. More fun for me." He hit something on his watch then let the possession to the surface. She was good after years of honing her training and hunting skills. The one behind him went down fairly quickly but was alive. The other agents ran. One tried to shoot him but he dodged it and killed the guy by ripping out his throat with his teeth. Xander came to spitting and making grossed out faces. "I don't know why she likes blood so much." He looked at the mess. "Did you have fun with her? I'm pretty sure my hyena thinks you're great fun too." He turned off the beacon and walked off to get something to clean his face off with. He walked over one of the guys on the ground.

"I'm not the nice fairy. Did you think I took down multiple events without slayer help and not learn anything?" He looked at the mutant guy on the ground, who was curled up around his stomach. "You have a great night too, dude." He disappeared into the dark to make his way home. He walked in and slammed the door. The slayers going on patrol stared at him. He flapped a hand. "I ran into HYDRA agents. They weren't happy and brought a mutant with higher strength with them. So I let them meet my hyena." He grinned a bloody grin. "Let me go clean up and we can go out in a few."

"You're off tonight," one said.

"So?" He shrugged as he walked. "I could use the stress relief now." He went to shower and gargle with listerine just in case then came down in clean clothes. "Okay, where to tonight, lovely ladies of destruction?" They snorted but went out together. It was club hunting tonight. They could handle it with him helping. He drew plenty of vampires who wanted him.

***

Logan had watched how the kid had handled it, calling in a clean up team once the boy was gone. He shook his head. He didn't understand the sudden primal outburst but okay. The kid had handled it very well before then. Even without his battle axe. He'd have to report this to the team to make sure they realized he could do that. Maybe someone would figure out *how* he had done it.

***

Xander looked at the guy who had knocked him out. "You're not my type, why are you kidnaping me?" he demanded when the man came to his cell door.

"You're just a test subject, quit babbling, boy."

"I'm not babbling and I'm not a boy," Xander said, standing up. "Who the fuck are you?"

"Big words," he said dryly. "Quite pleasant ones as well." He stared at him, clipboard in one hand and pen in the other. "What blood type are you?"

"More than one." He smirked. "I got exposed to demon blood."

"Hmm, that will add some spice to my experiments. Anything else you want to talk about today?"

Xander smirked. "Do you have any idea who I am?"

"No, nor do I care."

"Great. When I call in some demon contacts, we'll talk again." The guy glared at him. Xander stared back. "I've taken down worse than you, dude. You're just a psycho with a pathetic streak. Hell, I went to high school with better bad guys than you are. They'd *so* laugh at you."

"Maybe I know some of your classmates. Where did you attend school?"

Xander smirked. "Sunnydale." The man flinched, shaking his head. "Yeah. I'm the same hunter that backs up slayers. Which means I've got at least forty pissed off teenage girls looking for me right now. Plus all my kitten poker contacts and the arms dealers I used to date. You don't want to keep me. I'd make you so damn sorry once I got free. And before then I'd amuse myself." He grinned. "Now, why don't we not?"

"I've already started the process while you were out. I'd have to start all over with another psychic resonance reading."

"What are you trying to do?" Xander demanded.

"See if possessions are possible from one realm to another."

"Yes, they are, but they come with the problem of joining the realms. So there's two realms or more, because if you look too far away the ones between can join to yours or theirs. Which means up to hundreds of realms involved. Do you really want that mess?"

"No." He sighed, walking off making notes. "How would you know?"

"I'm the former training head watcher in Africa. I had to study it once upon a time." Xander sat down with a huff. He winced when he heard the gunshot. "Scientist dude?" he called. He got up to go look. Nope, no scientist dude. He had killed himself. Xander checked the door. "Great. And the one time I could actually kinda use some help I'm stuck with a dead body." He glared at the ghost he could sense. "Don't even try; you won't like the hyena." The ghost floated off. Xander groaned and looked around. He had a pipe in his cell. Probably a sewer pipe at that size. He took off a boot to bang on it. At least it might bring someone to investigate the noise. It took a few days of banging on the pipe but Xander had worse kidnapings. At least there wasn't any torture this time. Finally a pissed off maintenance guy slammed the door open. "Can you get the keys out of his pocket please? He shot himself when I told him how failed his science experiment is."

"Was that you banging?"

"Not like I can pick the lock. I never learned that skill. He shot himself all the way over there and I'm not a telekinetic so I can't grab the keys."

"Let me call the cops." Xander sighed and rolled his eyes, sitting down again. The guy came back. "So it was just you banging?"

"There's a clot just below the floor. I can hear the sluggish movements." He pointed. "I worked construction for a few years and lived in a house full of teenage girls. It's a tampon clog."

"Great. Thanks." An officer walked in. "I came in to see why the pipes have been rattling with banging," he said with a point at Xander.

Xander waved. "The guy kidnaped me to supposedly see if you could pull a spectral resonance from across another realm. I told him why that wasn't practical. He shot himself leaving me in here to bang on the pipes so someone would come let me. Can I get out now? It's been a few days."

The officer stared at him. "Most people would've started to scream."

Xander finished putting back on his boot and stood up, walking over to the cell door. "I'm the former watcher in Africa, Officer. I've seen whole villages after a militia full of yahoos with a book of faith run through." The officer shuddered. "So can you maybe get the keys from his pocket?"

"Once the crime scene people get here, sir."

"Thanks. How long?"

"Maybe an hour? Do you have water?"

"Barely. The tap he has in here is only dribbling." The maintenance guy huffed. "It doesn't look like he tapped it properly. It looks like he took a corkscrew or something and taped on a tap." The guy nodded. "I kinda expected someone yesterday."

"I was busy yesterday," the maintenance guy complained.

"Sorry. Didn't mean to be a bother," he said dryly. The guy shot him a glare but helped the officer fill out who he was. Xander pointed. "His wallet's on his table." They looked and got it. "I'm hoping he doesn't have any other prisoners to do supposed experiments on in his apartment or something."

"I can let the officers in his place in a few minutes. This is his storage area; he pays extra for it every month."

Xander waved at the new officers coming in. "I told him how wrong his experiment would turn out so he shot himself. Can I get out of here please? The officer can't frisk him for keys until you guys got here."

"How did you get in there?" the CSI asked. Xander pointed at the dead body. "He..."

"Apparently drugged and kidnaped me. The last time I remember I was out getting a burger on Thursday."

"It's Sunday morning."

"Great." He grinned. "He wanted to try to call another version of someone from another realm to see if they could possess themselves, which is possible but it's a hugely bad idea with the problems it'd bring. I told him why, and he shot himself. Which left me in here to bang on a pipe with my shoe until the maintenance guy came down."

"Okay," the CSI guy said. "Who're you?"

"Xander Harris. I'd hand you a business card but they're probably in my jacket, which is on the coat tree behind the door." He pointed. The guy looked and waved the wallet, getting a nod.

"You're a watcher."

"I'm the head of the local house, formerly the head guy in Africa." The CSI stared at him. "Egypt."

"Oh. I saw that on the news."

"They decided I was demonic and tossed me in a jail with others. Tried to starve us to death. I'm a good guy but not that good and I had been shot by their people then." He leaned on the bars. "Can I get out now?"

"I need to make sure the story is right," the CSI guy said.

"You're not leaving me in this cell," Xander said bluntly. "I've been trying *really* hard not to destroy things. Really I have. It's been three days though." The CSI let him out but handcuffed him. Xander huffed but hopped up to sit on a clear table. "How long is this going to take? The longer I'm here, the longer the slayers think they won a reprieve on homework. Because I'm a bitch about them doing it."

"Um...we can call them to tell them we found you," the CSI guy said.

Xander looked at him. "They're teenage girls."

"Oh. Yeah, not always sensible and might like not having a chaperone."

"Probably, yeah," Xander said dryly. "Probably clubbed all weekend. My phone's probably in my jacket too though." The officer got it for him. Xander called Giles, putting it on speaker.

"Watchers Council," a male voice said.

"Bangers, get Giles please. It's Xander and I'm here with the NYPD."

"What did you do this time?" he demanded.

"I got kidnaped and the guy killed himself. Just get Giles," he complained. "I'm about at my patience's end, Bangers. Just...get Giles."

"Fine." He yelled for Rupert. "Your problem child has been arrested."

"I have not," Xander said. "I was kidnaped and they're needing me to stay where I am because the guy shot himself three days ago. I'm not under arrest and right now I'm about out of my natural caffeine stores."

Giles cleared his throat. "The girls called to see if there had been a meeting they missed," he said blandly.

"This guy wanted to Perkins book me," Xander said. "I told him why it was a bad idea. Then he shot himself."

"Oh, charming. Are you all right?"

"It's been three days, Giles. I'm not at the point of flashbacks to Egypt but I'm out of caffeine. Did the girls do their homework?"

"No. I sent Buffy and they went clubbing. I'll tell Buffy to come get you if you're not under arrest?"

"We need him to stay with us until we make sure his story's what happened," the CSI said. "What happened to you in Egypt?"

"Two months in a cell because they thought I was a demon. I had to keep myself and others from being tortured. How blunt do you want me to be?" Xander said, staring at him. The officer walked off shuddering. "The nicest thing I came out with was two gunshot wounds and the desire to kill me some humans. Thankfully they wanted us to suffer and starve to death." The CSI shuddered. "So yeah, I'm not at the stage of flashbacks but I'm not a happy camper."

"I get that. The ME will be here in a few minutes. Can you wait that long?"

"I hope so." He looked at the phone. "So, Giles, anything world ending come up while I was in my cheap cell?"

"Not yet. We have that battle next week as you know. Why didn't you call sooner?"

"Because my phone was across the room in my jacket where he nicely hung it up."

"Oh, I see. That's ...no return spell on it?"

"No, and thankfully I didn't have my axe on me. Though I might've made my own exit if I had it with me."

"Yes, I can see you doing that. Um... Officer, is he in trouble?"

"As long as the guy shot himself, no," the CSI said. "If he didn't, then yup, maybe."

"If not, then someone invisible was in here and never used the doorway," Xander said dryly. A set of guys with a gurney showed up. "No ME?"

"Um, no, it was called in as a suicide," one of them said.

"No, we need an ME," the CSI said. "He said it's a suicide." They called that in and got an ME. "Hey, Hawkes. Strange thing."

"He shot himself because I told him how much of a failure his crackhead idea was," Xander said dryly. "He had me locked in the cell." He head nodded at it.

"Oh. Okay." He checked the body. "Clearly a shot under the chin and out of his skull." He looked. "I don't see anything saying it wasn't a suicide." He stood up. "Are you all right? Need an ER?"

"Need some caffeine," Xander said dryly. "It's been three days. I've been banging on the pipes but the maintenance guy was apparently busy."

"It's New York, they're always too busy," the CSI said. He unlocked the cuffs. "You can go. I'll come get a statement tomorrow."

"Fine. Call." He pulled out one of his cards. "I'll show up somewhere convenient if I'm out getting ho-hos or something." Xander slid off the table.

"What was he trying to do?" the ME asked.

"He had the idea of testing to see if you from another realm could possess yourself. Which you can but it causes problems. Namely all the realms between that would be smooshed together like marshmallows so they'd merge. Could be up to hundreds of realms all smashed together so you could talk to yourself basically." The ME whined. "Someone tried in the past. Fortunately he went insane while trying to get one from the next realm and never managed it." He grinned. "I probably would've been ...okay enough but not real happy. I've been possessed before and it's not all it's cracked up to be." He smiled and hung up on Giles since he had just sighed loudly on the phone. "Have an easier day, guys." He skipped up the stairs and out, going to the slayer house. He walked in shaking his head. "Crackhead scientists."

"Like Andrew?" Kara asked from where she was pretending to do homework.

"Like wanted me in other realms to come possess me here," he said dryly. "I'm pretty sure at least one of me is a lot meaner than I am when you guys blow off homework." He went to get some soda from the kitchen and came out. "I'm going to bed. I've been up for three days. Get me up when it's time for patrol please." He went to shower and collapse after gulping the soda.

Kara looked at her buddy Colossus, who was shaking his head. "Yeah, he's like that. He gives many people headaches and then he dates bad girls. Xander's just a bit unique."

"There's many unique mutants. Not quite as bad as him. Well, maybe a few but most of us think they're insane."

"Could be. No telling what he got exposed to in Africa." The guy smiled at her. "Math sucks."

"It does not and it's important. Do that and we'll go roller blading. I need you to help me learn how not to fall."

"I can do that." She finished up then ran up to grab her skates and came back down to help him into his so they could go skating outside. It was good exercise and practice. When some of his fellow schoolmates showed up she smiled and waved. "You guys can join us. I'm not a mean slayer." They smirked and came over to join in the skating and floating group. One of them snorted and settled on a bench in the park with her phone. Kara skated up to her, grinning at her. "I can go borrow Kennedy's skates. She left them in the closet when she went to London."

"I'd ruin them."

"Not really. We buy the really strong ones because slayers wear out and break stuff like no one else." She smiled. "It comes with being super strong." She called one of the other girls, who brought the spare skates and her own to join them. "Guys, this is Slayer Penelope. Or Penny usually." She smiled and waved. "She's our weapons expert for the house outside of Xander." She got the short haired girl into the extra skates and helped her move off so they could all have some fun. It was a pretty day. They needed some fun.

Buffy strolled over to sit on the same bench. "I'll make sure no one's mean, girls." She smiled and waved. "Hi, kids. I'm babysitting the house."

"Xander just got back. Said something about crackhead scientists and went up to nap until patrol tonight," Kara quipped. "He had some soda too. Said it'd been three days."

"Oh, yay," Buffy complained. "Did they date?"

"Not from what he said. You'd have to ask him."

"I'll wait until he's calmed down. Go play. I'm not that sort of slayer sitter. I was Penny's age when I was dating Angel."

"Eww," Penny said. "Just...gross! Talk about your boyfriend before him, Buffy. The last time you told that story, you ran off someone's date thinking that she'd have him turned if they got serious." They skated off. "C'mon, guys. Let's get away from the bad old days stories." They nodded and went to play further up the park. Buffy grinned. It was a pretty day and now she didn't have to babysit unless someone screamed for help. That was a great idea.

***

Later that night, Buffy and the girls were looking for Xander. She decided to be mean. "Here, keys," she said, thinking hard about finding her keys.

"Stop it," was yelled by another guy. "Metal finding guy's presently lip locked with a mercenary."

"Maybe he's helping us get weapons for the thing in six days then," Buffy decided. She and the girls went in another direction. "The way of Xanders is strange but sometimes really handy, girls. I'm guessing that's how he got all the artillery he used in Africa. Though I think he stole a few pieces but that's sometimes necessary too. Did I ever tell you how he and Cordy got us some from a military base so I could blow up the Judge in a mall?" They shook their heads, listening to that story as they walked off. Xander could catch up and maybe he'd be a happier guy by then.

The listening guy was so confused. He'd have to ask which judge got blown up in which mall. Maybe he'd get him tips for finding the really heavy weapons somewhere useful.

***

Xander walked Buffy into the bar he had been called to, pointing at a stool. "Don't. Move," he ordered.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because these aren't the poker buddies, Buffy. These guys like to hurt others. More than Riley did." He grinned at the bartender. "What's up? You guys called for a problem?"

"Two problems. Who's she?"

"Senior Slayer Buffy."

"Oh! Pleasure, ma'am. We tend to be a bit rough around here." He shook her hand. "I have wine coolers if you want one."

"No, I don't drink in case the cave slayer thing comes back," she said with a smile. "Thanks though."

"I won't ask about that." He looked at Xander. "One, the price on your head just got doubled."

"Wow, I'm going to go kill me a watcher spawn," Xander said dryly. "By?"

"No clue. It's in code." He let him see it.

Xander snorted, shaking his head, handing the papers to Buffy. "That's the PTB's thing bringing people back. I heard they had Warren Meers."

"Like got skinned alive by Willow?" Buffy asked. "Because he tried to kill Tara?"

"Yup." He looked at her. "He has the Amy rat too." He grinned.

"Oh, fuck."

"Yup. And that star kissed guy? I'm pretty sure it's your other ex. And Riley's in that group with his wife too." He stared at her. She swatted him with the papers. He grinned at the bartender. "Okay, so more cheerful news?"

"One of your ex's died last month and left you stuff. His lawyer was here thinking you were one of us." He handed over an envelope.

Xander looked in it. "Awww. I liked him. He was a good playmate and he gave great backrubs after battles. I could usually count on him to help by at least lending me someone to back me up." He pouted but put it into his pocket.

"Look, he brought a pretty slut in," another of the guys said as he walked in.

Buffy looked at him. "You're not deadly enough for me. My last real term boyfriend was a vampire and the one before him was a commando. You're not built *half* as good." She gave him a pointed look, earning some laughs from the others. "Sorry, but a girl's got standards and I'm a princess, not a cheap thing. Xander, do you know any cheap things?"

"Only during battle stress moments and I've kept all the slayers from it." He grinned and waved. "Guys, I'm the watcher over the local house. One of my ex's was one of you guys and left me stuff when he got killed. We'll let you go back to your reindeer games, without the fetish overtones, in a few minutes." He grinned at the bartender. "Know anything on who got my ex?"

"No clue. No one's said anything."

"Which probably means that one of them is hoping like hell I don't come avenge someone. Cool. Thanks for letting me know." He handed over a card. "To my cellphone. We'll be in Cleveland in six days handling something supposedly huge which I haven't seen as being so big. I'm hoping it doesn't get to inflate or call minions. If it can't, it'll be like taking down a balloon at the big parade you watch on tv." He helped Buffy up. "Have a happy night."

"You too, Harris."

Xander grinned then looked at one guy. "You left your earring in some girl's panties, dude. Quit wondering. If you paid her enough she'll probably give it back since she can't pawn it. And take out the things that can be slid out when you're giving head. It's only smart. Especially in alleys since that's where I saw it happen." He gave him a pointed look.

"You're metal finding guy," one said, standing up straight.

"Unfortunately. Yeah. I'm also known as Xander, hey you, oh damn it it's him, and all sorts of other names."

"Including shopping buddy and slave," Buffy quipped.

"Hell no I don't help my girls shop. I only go into the mall now if I have to rescue one of them." He shot her a look. "You broke me of that one, Buffy." He looked at the guy. "We'll be in Cleveland all next weekend if there's a huge problem you need me for but just call." He handed over his card. "And please don't let anyone too old or rough hit on the slayers, guys. They could use good boyfriends but we'd like them to be at least *close* in age and experience." They all smirked and let them walk off.

"I hadn't thought about a mercenary for a boyfriend. They might be really good for the girls."

Xander nodded. "Much better than even regular commandos." He nodded at a couple walking past them. One of them had on a hoodie that was pulled low over his face. Then he rolled his eyes. "Thanks for doing it on purpose, dude, but your dick piercing's still in place. I didn't need to see that. Thanks anyway." He looked back. "Unless you're hitting on me, I don't need to see your dick. I've got fantasy material already, Wade." The guy burst out laughing. Xander grinned. "Have a better night and hopefully she doesn't bite." He walked Buffy off since she was spluttering. "He's one of our local guys who handle things."

"Oh, cute." She nodded, looking at him. "Damn."

"Yeah, I get a vision of where things are when people wonder." He looked at her. "Can you keep Josie from thinking about her labia piercing while I'm around too?"

"Yeah, I can." She patted him on the arm. "I'm so sorry you got that talent instead of something nicer." She walked off and burst out giggling. Xander followed, getting the muggers away from her. She only had to kick one herself and that was nice of him.

***

Buffy walked into the house. "Giles, we got problems."

"Did someone arrest Xander this time?" Willow asked.

Buffy glared at her. "Shut up." Willow pouted. "It's not his fault only psychos like him since you had that crush on him. Before then he got better girls." Willow flinched, shaking her head. "Yeah. And just think, you had major lusties after him when I got to Sunnydale. Besides, the big bad thing now is my ex's not his." She went to the office. "The PTB made zombies, Giles. Out of my ex's." She put down the papers from Xander's sources.

Giles read through them. "That's disturbing."

"Yes it was." She sat down to pout. "Xander's not picking on me about it at least. And he told the mercenary guys who told us about that to please date the girls in the house if they were close in age and experience. Some of them seemed okay and even like they took regular baths."

Giles looked at her over the edge of the papers then went back to reading. "This is not good."

"No," she said dryly. "It's not. So what do we do? Or do we go with Xander's plans of a snot bomb?"

"I don't think that's a good idea. Andrew!" he called. "It's important." He came in a minute later. "Shut the door, Andrew. We've just learned of a plan from the Powers That Be."

"Using me?" he demanded.

Buffy looked at him. "Using Warren. They made zombies of him and Angel and Amy." Andrew stared at her until Giles handed him the papers. "Xander said we should go blow them up."

"Yeah, I should," he said bluntly, reading through them. "How dare they!"

"They're playing chess again," Buffy said, patting his arm. "Are you okay?"

"I wanted to kick Warren a few times but not this badly." He handed the papers back. "Maybe I'll get a good swift kick in this time." He went back to the kitchen to sulk.

Buffy looked at Giles. "So how do we handle this? Especially since any agents we might have leaned on have turned into HYDRA?"

He grimaced. "Did they try the girls up there?"

"A few tried Xander but I heard he went hyena on one group of them and they haven't tried since."

"Oh, dear."

"I'm thinking it made less mess than his pretty new axe, Giles. How do we defeat my former boyfriends? I should probably switch to girls anyway, they seem to be saner. Oh, he asked that we talk to Josie about thinking about her piercings since he gets a picture of whatever metal thing we're trying to find."

"Why would that bother him?"

"Because she's been fussing with her new vagy piercing, Giles."

"Oh! She did what?"

"My only thought was 'eww' about it but apparently she's happy with it."

Giles just nodded, then shook his head with a sigh. "That's reasonable. I'll...."

"I'll have Faith talk to her." Giles smiled at her. "Faith, meeting, and bring Willow with you," she called. "Then we'll have a whole group meeting."

Faith leaned in. "What's up? Huge problem with the battle this weekend?"

Buffy looked back at her, grimacing. "The PTB hates me so much they brought back an ex boyfriend as a zombie and got another one into his group of zombies to take us out so we have to fall back in line. I think I need to quit driving stick."

"What?" Faith demanded, coming in. Giles handed her the information sheets. "Who's the star guy?"

"Angel," Buffy sighed, looking at her. "Riley and his wife are part of the group. I really need to not date another guy."

Faith nodded, patting her on the shoulder. "We'll find you a better dick, Buffy."

"Oh, Xander said he gets *pictures* when we start looking for lost metal things so can you talk to Josie?"

"And Virginia about her new nipple ring she let get infected," Faith agreed dryly. "No one needs to see that."

Buffy grimaced. "Why would she?"

"She said it's supposed to feel great." Faith shrugged. "Mine feel just fine whenever a guy appreciates them but I doubt the guys she dates do more than treat them like lumps of meat to knead." Giles looked grossed out. "They do at that age."

"Some of us had a clue what to do with a women by that age, Faith," he said dryly. "I'm sure Xander did as well."

"If not, Anya probably cured that fast," Buffy quipped. Faith nodded. Willow came in with a note pad and a pen. "My ex's are now a huge problem. I need to find a nice guy who won't be like that."

Willow took the information from Faith, grimacing. "That star... Angel?" Buffy nodded. Willow kept looking. "Great, we have a Warren zombie and an Amy zombie plus the Finns. Any clue how to handle it?"

"Xander wanted to make another snot bomb," Buffy quipped.

"Might help," Willow agreed. She handed the papers back. "So we need to guard the girls." Everyone nodded. "Okay, I can help figure that out and smite any of the old line that say it's expected because you broke the mold and have free will. We have a few still around."

"They might be working with them," Faith warned.

"I can figure that out." She grinned. "Maybe Xander met someone nice for you to date in New York, Buffy."

"Maybe. It could be nice if they were better than that. If not, I'll let you take me to the girl-lovin' bar and find my first girlfriend." Willow swatted but walked off. She looked up at Faith. "We need to tell the others."

"Yup. Let's do that. Andrew?"

"We told him first," Giles said. "I wouldn't be that cruel to him."

"Okay." They went to the kitchen, where everyone gathered for meetings. Faith got the trolls from the library in there too with a glare and a point. They were the sort that gave the other real watchers a bad name.

***

Xander looked at his phone, grimacing. "Wow, do I know anyone dirty enough to like Buffy?" He sighed and answered back. The girl who had graduated so was helping him do a house inventory for the insurance guy laughed. "I know one but he's in Africa. Think she'd like a black guy? I don't know how she feels about interracial dating. I know Willow's highly against it but not Buffy."

"She never said anything or even gave a few girls funny looks when they did," Penny said with a shrug. "Willow nearly had a fit until Andrew locked her in the laundry room for it."

Xander looked at her. "That comes directly from her mom. Just like her thing against mutants does."

"I didn't think she'd be that way, with the witchcraft and stuff."

"Yup. Her mother would've burned Buffy at the stake long before the group of demon possessed people tried if she had learned what Buffy could do."

"Great. Does she...."

Xander looked at her. "During that first vision in a vision I had, she drugged me with something that turns me cheerfully homicidal and did memory spells so no one could remember me." Penny grimaced, shaking her head. "She also wrote the special school to come get me. I bypassed all that and got into her face about her prejudice. She wasn't a happy witch by any means. She's slowly turning into her mother without the PhD because she never went back to college."

They got back to the inventory. "I'm actually kinda surprised she dated Tara and Kennedy. Her mother was against that too, called it dis-normative behavior and ethically unsound because there couldn't be babies. Our former friend pointed out not all het couples had babies. Also that sometimes really old folks married after they could have kids. She just huffed off at that." He waved a hand around. "Rosenburg ideology means that it's only their way and no one else's is valid."

"I've seen that. I think that's when Kennedy decided to go cheat on her," Penny said.

"That's just dumb. Kennedy's lucky she's still a human."

"Outside of a lightening incident Willow's just been pouty about her and Tara."

"Tara got in a lot of healing time with the coven." He grinned at her. "Tara used to be so shy she couldn't look at you if she could talk to you at all." Penny gaped. "Yeah, her parents? Buffy nearly killed humans over them. You should talk to Tara sometime. She's a great lady."

"She is. And she bakes really nice cookies." Penny grinned. Xander grinned back and they got back to the inventory. "Are we replacing the table?"

"Only if we can find one cheap at the resale places. I don't know what you guys did to the table but wow. At least it wasn't an orgy on top of it. A few of Riley's frat friends did that during a party thanks to a demon."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah. Frat boys and most sorority girls aren't worth your time. They're usually dumb and into the fast and easy fun. Some of them do grow up but a lot....no. Definitely not worthy. That's why I was against Riley at first, before I knew he was a torturing commando."

"Wow." They threw out the broken things and finished up with the rooms. Penny looked at one. "I'm not touching Kennedy's room, Xander. It's gross."

Xander sent her a picture and a message saying she had to clean it up when she got back and take the inventory of things in it for the insurance guys. Then he walked off shaking his head. Penny went to hang out to watch some tv. Sometimes Xander was such a guy.

***

Xander looked over at Buffy's sigh right after the fight in Cleveland. He rolled his eyes as he walked off. "No, let her have some stress relief. He's really good at it," he quipped to Faith.

"Don't feel weird, a lot of us have had the same feeling when the minis steal boyfriends," Faith quipped back. They walked off together. "C'mon, girls. Let's let Buffy have her fun."

Xander glared at one girl. "I did not need that mental picture, Josie! Every time someone thinks about losing metal things, I get a *picture*. Of which I don't usually want. Especially when it comes to body jewelry." He stared at her. "Get one with screw ball ends instead of a capture ball and that won't happen." She squeaked and blushed. "Thanks. Really! And for not doing it during the battle!" He waved a bit.

"Sorry, Xander. I'll keep my worries about my body jewelry to myself." He grinned and went back to walking beside Faith.

"I've seen him turn around during a battle to tell someone that yes, they had left their keys at home and to quit worrying about it unless they didn't want to make it home again," one of the girls said.

Xander air waved at her. "The really weird one was the demon doing it during that same battle. He was missing his good luck pendant of a silver teddy bear's head."

Faith burst out in giggles, leaning on his arm. "Seriously?" He nodded. "Wow."

"I'm just glad I'm not regularly telepathic. That's creepy and bad."

"Us too," one of the New York girls quipped. "Because then we couldn't have dirty dreams."

Xander looked back at her. "Have all the dirty dreams you want, Sil. I'd rather you have your hand or something like Anya used to have tons of instead of that dirty dick you've been dating. Because that boy never seems to bathe and that's nasty. There's no telling how many other girls he's had without a condom so who you're rubbing panty parts with."

"Eww!" she complained. "Xander!"

"Maybe she wants to give him a bath," one of the younger girls quipped.

Xander nodded. "Maybe but still won't make him much cleaner. Even if she used bleach."

"We've all seen guys like that," Faith said. "Don't worry," she said with a grin at Sil. "You'll get better guys as you get older. The really nasty ones will be scared of Xander."

"Yes they should be," Xander quipped. "And any vampires that try to date the girls."

"I'm sure they wouldn't have the soul curse that Angel had so you won't have to watch the soap opera that they had," Faith said.

"Still gross," Xander said. "Dead penises, yucky."

"Yeah, but some girls are with B on dating their ancient enemies: it's exciting."

"It's stupid. It's dangerous. And it's nasty," Xander said. "Dead dicks? No!" The girls all laughed but one was blushing.

"We all can agree it's a stupid thing," that blushing one said. "Bit loud though, Xander."

Xander looked at her. "If you're old enough to date I *hope* you've had the sex talk already, Mindy."

"Of course I have, and I gave it to a few of the younger girls because Giles stuttered."

"I think he let ours come from Joyce, Buffy's mom, or just figuring it out as we go. Dawn got hers from Anya." He grinned.

Mindy laughed. "I got a second one from Dawn. It was a lot more thorough. Because wow, blunt."

"Yeah, Anya was all about the blunt talk about sex. Especially in public."

"Thankfully I missed that part," Faith said dryly. "I heard though. Especially before the Sunnydale battle." She shook her head.

"No, Anya used to complain about her lacking orgasms," Buffy said as she joined them. "Loudly. A lot." She looked at Xander. "He's cute."

Xander nodded. "Yes he is. Especially when he's making a cutesy face during orgasms."

"Oh, okay." She blushed, ducking her head some. "Didn't mean to poach."

"He's not mine. I just borrowed for a bit." He grinned. "You need it more than most, Buffy. Have fun with him. He's a really great guy."

"Okay, thanks." She bounded back to talk to the guy some more. He could even put up with her needing a lot of food. Especially after sex, and Xander was so right, that face was cute.

Faith looked at Xander, who shrugged but grinned.

***

"Eww," Willow called as she stomped from the kitchen to the living room. "I did not want to know about more boy parts!"

One of the mini slayers looked up at her. "You had a boyfriend at one time," she said impatiently. "Even girls our age have friends we talk to about things. Including cute boys and boy bands at our age. If you're not that sort of friend, find her a better one! And quit yelling about stuff we'd have to look up on the internet." Willow gasped then stomped off sniffling. She looked at her buddies, who all grinned. "I don't know what her problem is. It's a friend's duty to listen to you daydream about boys. Or girls I guess." They all nodded and got back to work on their homework project.

Buffy leaned in. "Don't look up boy parts on the internet, girls. Those of you with parents would be horrified. And don't ask Dawn either. She's a bit blunt about stuff you don't need to know yet."

One of the slayers grinned at her. "One of the girls in my class already has breasts and is starting her girl cycle."

"You're nine," Buffy complained.

"Um, yeah, apparently that's starting sooner. We've all got boobs starting too. Speaking of, do we need bras yet?"

"We'll figure that out later," Buffy sighed. "But if so, we'll take you girls sacred girl shopping and celebrate the girlhood step." She smiled. "We'll see if you need the talk sooner but for right now, no drinking, no boys over, and no trying to find out if the stuff you looked up online is the same on real guys. It's not like real ones and it'll just disappoint you so leave that reveal for later when you can handle it better." She went to talk to Giles and Andrew. She pulled Faith with her when she ran into her. "One of the girls in Syd's class has boobs and a period."

"She's eight!" Faith complained.

"I'm hoping that girl got held back," Giles said, taking off his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose.

"Nine," Andrew corrected. "It's been on the news that girls are starting all that sooner. Two girls in Amee's class last year got theirs. They had to borrow stuff suddenly when they were doing homework in our library."

"Wow," Faith complained. "Nine?"

"Yeah," Andrew said dryly. "Nine. They even make pushup bras in little girl sizes. Starting around the five-year-old girl range." He grinned. "We don't allow those. Underoos only at that age."

Faith looked at Buffy. "I was twelve," Faith said.

"I was skinny and couldn't keep on weight. I didn't get boobs until fourteen and a period at thirteen." They settled down on stools to nibble. "I guess we have to move the talk up sooner?"

Giles shook his head. "No. It's not necessary."

Andrew shook his head. "The papers today listed a mommy at the ripe old age of twelve," he said, pulling it up to show him. "I have the feeling there was a mixed kid party and the parent had beer or something in the house so the kids played post office or seven minutes in heaven."

"That's freaky," Faith complained.

"Freaky was one of the girls in Sunnydale that had a threesome," Buffy said. "She got pregnant because her girlfriend blew a guy then licked her. Apparently he had super surviving sperm." Faith shuddered. "She complained a lot to her girlfriend about how she got pregnant. The girlfriend ended up bailing on her but she found a nicer one anyway once she was a momma instead of a mommy-to-be."

"I remember her," Giles admitted. He looked at the girls then at Andrew, who shrugged. "Your mother gave you yours?"

"I had the internet, Giles. I figured it out that way and with porn."

Buffy nodded. "Mom gave me mine, and tried with Dawn but Anya finished off hers. Without me knowing about it beforehand."

"At least Anya taught her the right stuff, about safety and things," Faith said, looking up the hall. "Andrew's only got veggies out, girls." They ran in to get some, the tub of dip from the fridge then ran back to the living room to go back to studying. "So we're agreed, they need the talk sooner?" Everyone nodded. "Should we call Dawn? G?"

"I fear I cannot give it," he said. "I have no idea how to do that. None of us were taught how to give our future slayers that talk."

"Be real, Giles," Buffy complained. "None of them would've given it. They didn't want them to have that stuff."

"Possibly true in some cases," Giles agreed. He looked at Andrew.

"I have no idea how to talk to girls about anything," Andrew defended.

"Call Dawn," Buffy agreed. They all nodded at that sensible plan. "She can tone it down. Or you know, parents for the girls that have some." They all agreed and Giles went to help Buffy call the parents to talk to them about how to give the girls their talks. Some parents were really resistant, even if they got their womanly cycles. When Buffy pointed out a girl in their school had just given birth, those parents complained a lot. Buffy suggested they video or audio tape a lecture for their girls to play. The rest, they called Dawn home for the weekend. She could help.

***

Xander walked into the New York house and grinned. "Buffy is having to give the girls down there the sex talks, ladies. If you need one, we can go over it. I expect you all know what condoms are, how not to touch something skanky, that you don't have to give in when a boy begs, and it's perfectly respectable to decide whatever you want about your own bodies?" They all nodded.

"Why are they getting it?" Kara asked.

"A few girls in Syd's classes have PMS."

"They're nine," she said, staring in awe.

"Yeah, and a girl in sixth grade just gave birth," he shot back with a grin.

"Ewww. That poor girl!"

Xander nodded. "A lot of those early ones are because either bad parents or the king of teenage pregnancies - Budweiser. We all know that I'll pull out that cave slayer recipe to get you all if I catch you drinking underage? Or too much?" They groaned but nodded. "Good!" He smiled. "Anyone got any questions that I can answer or if you want, call Dawn. I had to teach Anya some things, like what birth control was."

The girls all shook their heads. "Dawn gave most of us one," Kara said with a smile.

"Cool." He smiled. "That's a great thing. Anyone need anything from the store? We're doing shopping tonight, those not on club hunting patrol." Those two groaned then went to get the lists. The girls added to them with a few fantasy items that were mostly chocolate in nature. Though the tampon list got added to as well. "I see I need to take the next week off," he joked. "The first one of you that grabs a knife to come after me will be very sorry."

"We know you're a guy so you don't understand," Penny joked, grinning at him.

"Yeah but it was Willow that came after me with a knife," he complained. "It was one of her first." They all groaned.

"Is it true Willow used to pant after you?"

"Yup, back in early high school. Until about six months after Buffy got there." He looked at the girls. "If you joke about it proving future evilness, she'll change you into a kitten." They all groaned but nodded they'd take that warning. Someone pounded on the door so he went to answer it. "Hey," he said, staring at the guy there. "Who're you?" He kind of recognized him from somewhere, maybe a bar.

"I'm Penny's date tonight."

"Okay. Penny, you have a date tonight?" he called, leading him back into the house without an invitation. Just in case.

"Oops, yeah, I told the other girls."

Xander stared at her. "All you have to do is change the schedule around, Penny. Go change and go." She ran up to do that. He looked at the ones on patrol tonight. "You're not Buffy, you can't patrol date." They sighed. "Change your personal schedule and let me know. Make sure it's at least slightly covered. I'm not going to stop dating unless the guy's a shitbag. And then I have an axe and knives." He grinned at the guy.

"Understood, Harris."

"Thanks. Have fun with Penny. She has a midnight curfew if she's not on patrol because tomorrow's Saturday." The guy nodded, taking Penny with him when she jogged down the stairs. "Remember my rule about condom use," he called. "It had better be used because I hate delivering slayer babies. I've had to deliver three, I don't want to deliver any more." Penny groaned but her boyfriend laughed. Xander looked at the girls. "Really, I don't."

"Thankfully we have some great hospitals in this city," Kara said. "They'll deliver it."

Xander sighed but nodded. "I'll still be there to help. No one else will let you break their hands. Willow might show up to protect the room but I'll let you guys yell at me." They smiled and hugged him before running up to change for club hunting. Xander and the one not on patrol went to the store. Slayer muscles could carry a lot of the food the girls all ate.

***

Xander answered the door, staring at the guy he knew by news casts and the other guy. "Do I know you?" he asked the other guy. "Huge problems that you need slayer help for?" He got out of the way so they could come in.

The guy he didn't know shook his head. "Some of my contacts suggested I come to you. We're looking for someone that has a metal arm."

Xander considered it. "That didn't bring up an immediate picture," he admitted. "I only know about one that has organic metal but it's his whole skin. Is it the same metal?" He leaned on the back of a chair.

"No. Not that we know of. We're not sure what it is," the other guy said. "Oh, this is Sam and I'm Steve."

"I knew who you were, Captain, that's why I asked if it was a slayer helping problem." Xander concentrated, shaking his head. "Any idea what type of metal? Is it iron, or some funky mix?"

"It's in plates and it's a bionic arm," Sam said. He showed him a picture of Bucky from the battle in DC.

Xander nodded, wincing as he saw where he was. "Right now he's sleeping somewhere in a basement but it's ...I have no idea which basement. It's too generic. Which was probably the point." He concentrated, frowning as he bit his lower lip. "There's no papers or anything there that would tell me where it was. Just an old mattress on a concrete floor with pipes overhead." He looked at them again. "Usually I get something that tells me *where* it is. If it's under a bed I see something that indicates whose bed it is." They both nodded. "It's real generic though. I'm pretty sure he did it on purpose."

"He's got memory issues."

Xander looked at him. "He's staring at a picture of you two, Captain." Steve stared, mouth open. "So maybe not as much or he's relearning." He held up a hand. "He's moving." He waited and the guy went upstairs. "He's in the city. I can see... it looks like that building on Broad that's a library but it looks like a bank. He can see it out of the former kitchen window. That way," he said with a point. "The building's on that side. The kitchen's empty, just the old sink but no cabinets or anything.

"It has running water. He's washing his face. He looks a bit depressed in his reflection." He considered it. "He's outside and there's a street sign, it's Lexington?" Steve smiled and nodded. "I hope I helped. If not, come ask me again and I'll see if I can spot him. He's moving toward the subway line but not going down. I think he's out to the grocery store or something. He doesn't look real focused by his reflection but he's trying to look bored and not succeeding very well if that makes sense."

"It sure does. Thanks," Sam said, shaking his hand. "We'll be back if we need more help." They ran out and to the car to go find him.

Xander smiled, making a note for himself in his journal. That metal was weird feeling and he'd be able to find it again if he had to.

"Xander, was that a problem?" Penny called.

"No. It was someone needing me to find something."

"Okay. That's good. We're going back to bed."

"Sure. You've got a few hours." He got back to work on the house's reports for Giles.

"Bitch, I need the bathroom, get out of it!" a female yelled.

"I'm nearly done!"

"I'm bleeding through!"

"Me too!" a third girl called.

"I'll look at what we'll need to add a second bathroom," Xander called. "Come use the half one in the kitchen." One girl ran down to use that toilet that didn't have a sink in the same room. Xander added that to his report. The house could use some minor repairs as well. Holes in the walls from thrown shoes at spiders mostly.

***

Xander looked at the guy that had sent a formal invitation to meet him. "Yes, Sorcerer, you wanted something?" he asked, sitting across from him.

"You were involved in a cross-realm situation recently," he said. He wanted to keep down the stress right now but this one needed to be faced down about wrong things.

"No. I was taken hostage by a guy who wanted to try to merge a test subject with another realm. When I informed him why that's a stupid idea he shot himself and left me in the cell to die," Xander said dryly. "I had nothing to do with that. The only thing I knew before then was I was out for a burger."

The sorcerer grimaced. "That's sad."

"Well, psychos do exist to amuse or annoy you," Xander said with a shrug. "I think he took some sort of resonance. He said he'd get someone else when I scared him by vowing to summon some poker buddies but he said he'd have to start over."

"That might explain why you seem to radiate cross realm energy."

"Instead of hellmouth radiation?" he asked. The sorcerer stared at him. This is not what he expected. Xander grinned. "I was born there. I grew up there. We studied next to it during high school."

"Why would you?" he demanded, looking confused.

"It was in the high school library."

The sorcerer groaned, shaking his head. "That's stupid."

"No, stupid was the guy who built the town was working toward an ascension," Xander said. "Which he did during our high school graduation." He pulled out his phone and looked up the film, fast forwarding it to the point where he did the spell. He slid the phone over on the table. "Ninety years to become that."

The sorcerer watched the spell go on, frowning. "An eclipse." He flinched back when the man broke out of his skin. "Oh, dear." Xander stopped the film with a nod. "I've never even heard of that rite." This one knew about things he had never been taught. It was interesting. He could learn some from this one hopefully.

"There's a few ways to get there. Five if I remember right. It's listed on the slayer info site for the girls. It's called an Ascension Rite."

"I have not heard a thing about that. Was he a sorcerer?"

"No clue. I know he was germphobic." Xander shrugged. "We only found out he was doing that during our senior year, when things started to fall into place about the town. Still better than the military." He shrugged again. "If you talk to Giles, he can lend you the book with all those rites just in case. They're immortal for their last hundred days, you have to cut off the head, and they're really nasty."

"You've run into more than one," he accused.

Xander grinned. "Yup, but the girls don't know that. They weren't anywhere near me at the time. The military of that country called the country I was driving through and had them send me to tell them how to deal with it. I called and told them to trap it and get the head off however they could."

The sorcerer stared at him. "Well. How did they manage it?"

"They tempted it with a staked out volunteer, I assume and hope, death row inmate with a bomb. It blew up his mouth so they called in a tank. I reminded them to make sure he hadn't eaten anyone. They were totally grossed out."

"I would be as well." He cleared his throat. "I know your people deal with multiple forms of magic."

"Yes. Mostly in the witch class."

"There's no difference."

"There is," Xander said with a smile. "It's divided by type of energy you count on. You, from what I've seen and been told, call upon a higher being. So you're doing the same as those who devote themselves. Witches tend to pull energy from whatever they can. Willow pulled dark magic from magical books. The coven in Devon pull from a small energy gathering spot near them. They set up there for that purpose." The sorcerer gaped. "You probably only learned your version, calling upon your higher power to aid your will being bent to a purpose."

He used the stuff on the table to set up a diagram. "You call, he answers, you use mystical artifacts to channel it sometimes." The sorcerer nodded. Xander changed it. "Witches, nature witches and a few other types, do it by pulling energy up and distributing it with their own bodies. Their bodies do the same thing you use an artifact for," Xander told him. That got a slower nod.

"They may or may not call on a deity, they may bless the power or rite to their name, or even send the energy from whatever they're doing in prayers. Some shaman do the same thing when channeling a possession but without prayers. They devote the energy and their will to the will of the possessing being. In the one rite I interrupted back in high school, the shaman was going to possess himself with a hyena."

"Interesting."

"Now, there's some witches who don't use that. Some do and some don't depending on what they're doing. You also have witches like Willow who use multiple goddesses and forms all at once as she mixes things in a magical blender and comes up with whatever happens. Which we really wish she'd stop sometimes." He grimaced. "There's also higher magic users. People like Ethan Rayne. He's devoted to Janus so he does a lot of the same things you do but he also uses energy like the witches do, only at a much higher level."

"How can you tell?"

"A normal level witch or your level of sorcerer couldn't turn a whole town into their halloween costumes. Even if you had specially marked or prepared them beforehand that's channeling a lot of energy into the spell and then gathering it and channeling it back to the higher power during it."

"I could not," he admitted. "Nor would my higher power wish me to."

"Then again he prays to Janus."

"That's reasonable," the sorcerer said, grimacing some. "I suppose. Though weird."

"Yeah, but then again Janus."

"Point." He cleared his throat. "Do your people deal with artifacts?"

"Yes. We have a storage area to store dangerous artifacts safely. Both old ones and new ones."

"Interesting. What of the one that's walking around?"

"That's a topic that'll get you dead," Xander said, staring at him. "She's not actually practicing magic. That saved *everyone*. Got it?" He smiled slightly. "We all protect her."

"I could have my God help."

"No you can't because that would kill her and you'd be dead." Xander stared at him. "Very fast. We all protect that young woman. That particular fact is a senior Council only secret and we'll expect you to keep it," he said quietly. "Permanently. Because harming her could end humanity." The sorcerer winced. "Dawn isn't the sort that would draw your attention anyway since your duty is to a certain class of demons and dealing with rogue witches and sorcerer level people. Dawn is neither of those."

"Are you certain she won't become one?" This one seemed so certain but many were yet were proven wrong.

"Yeah. I am. Her mom was a great mom. She's got support from a lot of people. Including those who do know all that story, which you do not."

"What if that being who could use such things comes back?" he asked dryly, leaning back looking smug. He had clearly tried to do some research on that artifact.

"We've got another thousand years before that can happen. Buffy beat her two years before Sunnydale fell in." The sorcerer gaped, slumping and staring at him. Xander smiled. "As I said, there's a lot to that story that you don't have and won't have. Leave her alone because the hell that would bring on your head won't be pretty and you're pretty well digging your own grave."

"I...I could help her change that fact, help her lock it up."

"Which would kill her and you'll be under her casket." Xander stared at him. "You harm Dawn or touch Dawn or even try to deal with Dawn and we'll have to reciprocate. Just leave Dawn be. It has nothing to do with your duty."

"She could be harmful if someone gets her."

"The only ones who know about that fact are four people and now you." The sorcerer flinched because that made him the threat. "You're not going to get her harmed. Because I'll destroy humanity. Willow might not but I will and her sister will help me." He stared at him. "We're protecting Dawn. Really."

"She's at a college."

"Yeah. She's a young woman. She wanted a normal life. That's just like the slayers do. She has sense and class. She knows what she wants to do when she's a big girl. We love her like a sister and she's a huge part of getting things set back up again because she had sense like her mother had. She's also the only one that can tell her sister to go screw someone because she's cranky."

"I see. What if someone comes for her?"

"No one can and will come for her. No one knows."

"It was clear."

"You were using the Eye on her," Xander said bluntly. "It was reported to me last week by some contacts who also watch over Dawn. The only ones who would come after Dawn is you, because we don't trust you or those of your methods, and someone you told."

"There's others who are interested."

"Yeah, they mostly died with the Council," Xander said bluntly. "The few mages who might try that are going to die. Giles was one when he was younger." The man flinched. "Beyond that, if they come for her she's got security down pat by now and knows how to behead, kill with a few things that are necessary around the Council, and how to get away. I made sure of it."

"They could kidnap her from class."

"Someone tried. The college went into lockdown to clean up the mess Dawn made with a knife." He grinned. "The team used to contain one of the Scourges of Europe and he taught her a lot about how to protect herself."

"Why would a vampire do that?" he demanded.

"He was dating her sister."

"Why?"

"We're not real sure, but she seemed to enjoy it." Xander shrugged. He sent a text message and Dawn got sent from her cafeteria by the coven. "Someone was checking you out."

"I heard. I asked the poker buddies to please eat him." She stared at the guy then ate a bite of salad. "I don't know who you think you are but if you come near me I'll destroy you and everyone you bring. Not a single jury in the world would convict me when they find out what would happen if someone tried to use me as a sacrifice." She smiled. "And I have ways of doing that plus owed poker debts. If I really wanted to I could go off like Rosenburg did with her grief. I'd rather graduate college before I destroy humanity though. My mother would be upset if both her daughters were college dropouts." She ate another bite, staring at him.

"I'm worried that someone will come, young lady."

Dawn smirked. "They won't come unless you tell someone. If you ask the other two magic users in here they'll tell you they can't tell I have magic."

"There's no...."

Xander pointed. "That is Ethan Rayne," he said dryly. "Next to him is Neville Chrossgold. He used to be Council but he quit when he found out he had ethics." The man nodded, turning around. "Thank you for showing up for some reason, guys."

"Dawn asked us to attend," Ethan said.

Dawn grinned. "Thanks, guys. Giles would be really upset if I had to destroy part of my college to save myself." She ate another bite, looking at the sorcerer. "They don't want me; they know the hell it'll bring."

"Most mages would not ever think of coming near her even if they could use her energy," Ethan said, turning around to stare at him. "It wouldn't do anything for us. Now, there is a qualifier, chit. Some of the Asgardian mages might. Including that insane one that showed up."

"I remember feeling Loki and going to battle status," Dawn agreed. "He didn't come near me."

"He would if he knew about you because the power source he had? It's very close to yours."

Dawn nodded. "Good to know. Do we have anything on that?" Xander groaned and held his forehead. "Oops, sorry, Xander. I didn't mean to start off a vision." She stroked his back until he came out of it, handing him her backpack so he could dig out a notebook and pen. She read, grimacing. "That's bad."

"That's real bad," he said. "We've got to stop that. And the current shit going on." He looked at Ethan. "That power source, is there five of them?"

"Mythically speaking, yes."

"No, the guy with the glove is coming."

"Oh, shite," the other mage said. "When?"

"A year." Xander got up to show them. They nodded and sent out messages. Xander sent one to the coven. Dawn sent a copy of the notes to her sister. She looked at him. He shook his head. "If and when it happens, I want you hiding."

"Oh, yeah, definitely. Somewhere he's not."

"Good!" He looked at the sorcerer. "Are you still worried that she can't handle herself?"

"What if they drug her?"

"I got rophied in a club at fifteen and still didn't let go of my shields," she said dryly. Xander looked at her. "Bronze! The last few days of the Bronze."

"Yeah, the vamps liked it. It made finding victims easier." He shook his head. "We'll fight if something should happen." He looked at the sorcerer. "She's got backup."

"She could do much helping someone with power on the right side."

Dawn shook her head. "I've seen plenty of heroic sorts by being with the new Council. Not only am I not that sort but my mother would be crying in heaven about that. She wanted one of us to be normal. I'm going to do great things and help the slayers on the side. Frankly, most of the magic users I know are creepy and I don't like creepy. That's my sister." She ate another bite of salad.

The sorcerer sighed. "Fine. If things do come for you...."

"You'll see a crater in Virginia," she quipped with a grin. "A huge, smoking crater. It might not be my crater but it'll be a crater. I don't play when someone tries to mug me, much less when they try to kidnap me."

"Amen, sister," Xander quipped. "Kidnapers are sucky."

She looked at him. "I heard my sister's dating?"

"Yeah and he's pretty decent. He's even alive."

"Wow, he's alive? Mommy would be pleased with that." She ate her last bite of salad. The sorcerer shook his head with a groan. "Seriously. She's dated at least two vampires in her life. We're all happy that she's dating someone nice and human."

"Oh, they're going to have you come talk to the minis. They're needing bras."

"Which minis?"

"The around ten-year-old group."

"Yeah, I saw stories on that happening. Poor girls. I'm so glad I was fourteen." She shrugged. "I can do that and tone down my usual one."

"One of their upper classmates had a kid."

"Wow. Poor kiddo. Yeah, I can talk to them."

Xander grinned. "Anya would be proud."

"I'm sure she would."

"Anya?" Ethan asked.

The other mage cleared his throat. "He nearly married Anyanka but left her at the altar."

"She had lost her powers before we dated," Xander told him. "Her friends showed us we'd be miserable and I didn't want to do that to her." He grimaced but shrugged. "She got her powers back."

"Then lost them about a year later because she had a conscience," Dawn added. "D'Hoffryn hates him for warping his oldest demons that way." Xander nodded.

"Hey, Ethan, he said I have more than hellmouth energy from that crackpot that wanted to scry across dimensions. Can you tell if I do? You worked around the hellmouth so I figure you'd be able to tell."

"You do," Ethan agreed. "Not that much though. You're still nearly radiating hellmouth energy."

"I dumped some, let a succuba feed on some so it'd lessen, and even dumped it during a battle to kill a demon. Am I naturally generating it?"

"It appears so," the other mage said dryly. "Which is a bit disturbing."

"I'll get a succuba to come eat some more of it for me."

Ethan grimaced. "Around the slayers?"

"I can rent a motel room, Ethan. Besides, the girls are amused by succuba. One of them was flirting with one of the younger girls. They were all amused."

Dawn shook her head with a sigh. "That so figures." She patted Xander on the arm. "You'll be okay. Maybe you'll find someone nice to date too since apparently hell needs ice skates since my sister's dating someone living." She wiggled her fingers and disappeared after a quick text message.

Xander grinned at the sorcerer. "See, she's fine."

"I suppose. If I hear of someone looking toward her I'll let others know. Have a better day, gentlemen." He left, going to have a drink and calm himself down. He had no idea about such things.

Xander grinned at the mages. "Thanks, guys. And you, ma'am. I didn't want to scare him with you, Merideth."

"It's fine, Xander. He needed to know. They didn't teach him any of the traditional skills. I doubt he could mix a potion or cast a ritual circle at all." She walked over to kiss him. "I can help you dump some of that energy."

He smirked. "What did you want it for?"

"To dump back into the hole in Cleveland. It might calm it down again."

"I was there this weekend for that fight. It keeps trying to cuddle me."

"We can tell, dear. May I?"

He smiled. "Sure, let me tell the slayers I'll be late." He sent that text message and left with her. The two male mages shook their heads and sighed but they needed to let others know about that sorcerer's presumption and lack of training in true magic. Maybe someone would lend him some books. Rupert was that sort usually. It could only help keep Dawn and the slayers safer if the poor, deluded one figured out he had not a clue what he was playing with.

The End.
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