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A Fixing Hunter Fixing Things.

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A Fixing Hunter Fixing Things.








Xander watched the projected battle plan against the newest ascended demon, studying the faults in the agents' plans. He looked at the guy beside him, who shrugged. "You know that means the demon's going to eat them, right?"

Clint Barton nodded. "They're not listening to me."

"Or me," Natasha agreed. "Can you move the girls?"

"Yeah," Xander agreed. He whistled sharply. "Slayers, move!" he bellowed. "To the right please!" They moved that way. "The thing's going to come down the street, ladies."

Clint watched. "It's changing on the next block," he reported. "He's chanting."

Xander sighed, moving down to the slayers. "All right, the agents have a plan that'll allow most of them to be eaten," he noted. "The thing can catch you in his gaze and freeze you. So for now, take a side, move any frozen person in danger of getting eaten or smashed. Got it?" They all nodded. "Take the head off, somehow, since they didn't plan that part." They all nodded, checking their small artillery stash. He pointed. "If we have to do it like grad, use that building since it's condemned. We'll blow it up." They nodded and moved to their planned places. Xander looked at the glaring agent. "I'm not going to let my girls get eaten because you guys have ideas that won't work."

"We can trap it."

"Are you going to feed it a few people an hour?" Xander asked dryly.

"The witches will turn him back since someone did this to him," he said firmly.

Xander laughed, shaking his head. "Two wrong points there. He did it to himself. He had to take *years* of deals and sacrifices to change this way. There's only one way that a mage could've changed him and all the coven couldn't do it together. It'd take too much energy. Second wrong thing, they can't be changed back. As far as we know not even if they were changed. It'd take too much energy." He stared at him. "Since we know this person had this plan, because he bought a lot of the necessary things on his visa card, you wouldn't be able to change him back at all. Sorry but not realistic." The agent huffed off.

Xander looked at the staring agents. "His gaze can freeze you. It's not a gift or anything, just your mind going squeaky and shutting down. Move each other if you have to." They all nodded. "The head has to come off. We're using the condemned building if we must," he said with a point. "And we sent letters to everyone in the buildings on this block this weekend so they should all have it. If we have to, pull a fire alarm to get them out of there quickly." They all nodded. "Good. We're devolving strategy to Barton," he said with a point. "Since he's higher up and can see the whole thing."

"If it's who we think it is, will his mutant skills come through?" one asked.

Xander shook his head. "He's the first we've run into but we're sure it won't. It doesn't when it's magic. That's one of those things they have to give up." The agents mostly nodded. "If we're wrong, he can shoot fireworks." A few grinned. "Skin's really tough. It does eat people. It can and probably will land on someone to kill them."

"It's changing, eww," Clint called. "That's worse than the film of that. It's coming our way."

"We made hazards in the other directions," Xander quipped. "Like most snakes they don't like crawling over broken glass." The demon worm stormed into their area. "Go," he shouted. "Now." The agents scattered and started to work on the demon worm. The slayers were attacking at the sides since it couldn't really turn its head around far enough to bite them there. It meant he had to move from the protected spot between buildings. Clint fired on the demon's head. So did one of the slayers. They made a dent.

Stark showed up in his suit. "Move, ladies and Harris." They moved and he fired something. Bigger dent. "What is that thing made of?" he demanded.

"Scales," Xander called. "Really dense flesh too." A few demons rushed over to help. "Hey, guys. If we can kill it, you guys can have a good chunk if you want it. I know you're flesh eaters." They dove in again, Xander with his axe. A few cuts after a half-hour of fighting back. One agent had been eaten and another one slightly crushed because they had stupidly stood there daring the worm to get them. A slayer had a few cuts from her sister slayers. Xander frowned and pulled over a weapons case, opening it. "That isn't what I told her to get," he said, closing it. "Who checked the weapons?" he demanded. "You forgot one." He called. "I need the explosive things, not the cases we use for storage." He hung up and dove back in. Natasha gave him a dirty look. "Agents said they'd check it and I was busy with Macy's huge problem when they did it. Apparently they lied."

"Crap," she muttered. Kennedy showed up with some of her girls and a few more weapons. "Thank you, Kennedy."

"Welcome," she called, using it. Stark took one to make stronger then used it. A huge dent on the top of the skull but the demon's concussion didn't make it any less mean.

"Crap," Stark complained. "Absolute shit."

"Ditto," Xander called. He studied it then waved. "Kennedy, see the red spot?" She looked and nodded. "Hit it. Hard. Sword if you have to." He took a swing and hit it. She had the stronger swing because she worked out more than the other girls, so she hit the same spot with her lady's axe. The demon screamed in pain and tried to wiggle away. Stark managed to keep him there and they hit the same spot again. Stark fired onto it and it created a hole.

"Great. Grenade!" Barton threw one in and they all ducked away when it exploded. Huge dent, could see the spinal cord. The demon was desperately trying to get away now. Hulk showed up and slammed down on that spot from the building he had jumped off of. The demon screamed and flinched but was still alive. "The head has to come off, Hulk."

"Hulk have fun," he said, grabbing some of the demon to rip out. Xander helped. The slayers helped by chopping into the area between grabs of flesh. It finally died and they finished removing the head just in case it could self heal.

Natasha looked around, sighing in displeasure. "We really must have a better plan for the next one."

"I'm just glad this is the only one changing today," Clint complained as he came down. "Any others coming up somewhere in the US?"

"Not that I'm aware of," Xander admitted. "If so, no one's called us." He looked at Kennedy. "High school's was less nasty thanks to the explosion."

She nodded. "I bet. It was larger though."

"And he ate the troll," Xander quipped with a grin. "Thank you, ladies." They all smiled and left with Kennedy, even his. "They're going to a spa," he told Natasha. "It's safer over there."

"Probably," she agreed, walking off with him. "Did someone ask about changing him back?"

"Giles had someone research and they said they couldn't. The coven said they're not that strong even if they call in the adjunct members."

"Hmm." She nodded. "We should all clean up."

"At least we don't have to do much dissecting to see who he ate," Xander quipped. "We know he ate one and it shouldn't be all the way down there. The one in Central Africa they found twenty remains they had to identify."

"That's disgusting," Natasha told him.

He grinned. "Aren't you glad you're not a junior agent?"

"Definitely." She looked at one agent, who was using a laser from Stark to cut in to get that half-body the demon had managed to eat. She looked at Xander again. "Go shower since you don't have to fight for hot water." He skipped off to the house's car, driving home. She went back to talk to Stark. "He was happy we didn't have to dissect it to find out who it had eaten."

"I'm not an agent or a biologist, it's not my job," Stark quipped. "I'm damn happy about that." She laughed but nodded. "He home?"

"Since all the girls went to a spa in England to clean up, he has all the hot water."

"Good." He looked at the head then at her. He looked at the two demons who had helped. "If you guys want some, go ahead and take some before the biologists get here. They might try to figure you guys out too." They both took large chunks and ran off. "Thanks for the help."

"Slayers protect us too," one said with a smile and a wave of his clawed flipper.

Coulson walked over, staring at the mess then at his people. "Who was supposed to check the weapons?" he asked Barton.

"Pierce and Rantsor."

"I'll talk with them." He went to find them to chew them a new one. He checked both cases, staring at one a bit longer. "No, that would've been too large to use," he decided, locking that case again. "I'll have to ask him where he got it."

Stark walked over to look then groaned. "Why do they have that?"

"To close a portal like the LA invasion," Natasha said without looking.

"Great."

"I heard about it from one of the minis and asked him. He said he took it from a group in Africa that was being a pain in his ass so he made them show up to help with something." She walked off. "I need to get out of this goo." She patted the Hulk on the arm, making him stare at her. "You did good work, Hulk. Time to go home." He nodded and lumbered off, going to the tower. They weren't that far, only a few blocks. She and Clint hiked back as well. "At least you didn't get goo this time."

"I'm real happy about that too," he quipped.

"Take samples just in case," Stark yelled after them.

"Whatever," Clint called back. They disappeared in before more than a few press people caught their pictures. The NYPD had done good keeping them away from the battle area.

Stark looked at the teams of scientists showing up. "The head's there." He pointed.

"There's pieces missing," one complained.

Stark stared at her. "There were a few flesh eating demons that helped battle it so we let them pick up a few pieces. It's just muscle tissue, nothing like an organ."

"Fine. Where did this one come from?"

"Changed human," he told her. "It's called an ascension." They grimaced. "Takes a long time, lots of sacrifices and rites. This one's the fifty year version."

"Wonderful." They took it back to their college to formally dissect and study.

Stark looked at Coulson. "I had a flesh eater asking Pepper for help the other day. He looked mostly human but his girlfriend was a vegan and he's not. Vegetables make him deathly ill. He wanted help in how to talk to her."

Coulson smiled a tiny little smirk. "That's a normal problem with having a girlfriend. Did she give good advice?" Stark nodded. "That's good of her. Let me get the cases back to the slayer house. Then we'll figure out how many others are trying this." He hauled the cases off with an agent's help. He took them back personally to talk to Xander. They had to talk about that higher level bomb. He was incredibly happy it hadn't called for using a low yield nuclear device in downtown Manhattan to defeat that demon.

***

The press attacked the Sorcerer when he came out of the airport. "Why weren't you at the battle?" one yelled over the clicking of cameras.

"I was testifying at a court hearing that dealt with magic," he said bluntly. "I found out afterward that the prosecutor had been asked to call me that day specifically so I could not be here. Otherwise I would have helped against that being."

"Do you know anyone else doing that?" another reporter called.

"No, I do not, and if I should find one, we'll be having...words." He walked off, getting a cab back home. The cabbie kept looking back at him but he ignored it. He also paid him a slight tip. The cabbie looked amazed. Apparently some with magic were using their gifts to not pay fares. He'd have to talk to someone about that. He made it inside before the reporters there got more than a few pictures of him. He went to his study and called his helper. "Is there anything going on beyond the crass reporter infestation?"

"Not yet," he said. "They'll go away soon. Rosenburg's plotting something again." He groaned. "Are we going to handle her?"

"We probably should."

"That could get other higher powers upset. We should ask Agamoto."

"I'll call on him later when I meditate out the irritation from the reporters." He turned at the sound of someone appearing. "Harris." He poured himself a drink. Harris usually meant he needed one.

"We all want to beat Willow this time but she's possessed and we can't stop her. The PTB will just try with someone else. Even if it is making Buffy cry." He grimaced. "Also, we have two actual rogue witches in the area."

"Are they the ones using mind control or magic to get out of cab fares?" Strange asked dryly.

"No, I believe that was a member of the coven we have locally. Usually they're good but they have a few members that Tara would like to beat to death for dirtying her Goddess." He grinned. "I'm pretty sure Tara would win that fight."

"One would hope. Can we talk to those witches?"

"I have. I've talked to their head people. I've talked to those two in particular. They just snorted and said I didn't do true magic." Strange smirked since that's what Xander had once told him. "Then I proved them wrong by changing them and giving them to the slayers for a few days. They really adored the pets. I warned them the next time they did it, I'd let public opinion skewer them. Also, we're having a huge problem beyond Thanos. Though he's coming this way in about a year we think." He handed over the sealed envelope. "Your class of extraterrestrial demons. Have fun and ask if you want help. Why are there chains moving around you two?" He pointed at one then disappeared.

Strange looked and fought off the chains. He read the letter, nodding a few times. "Let us handle that," he decided, heading for his work area. That was his area of expertise so he'd make sure the slayers weren't bothered. They needed to be teenage girls more often. Then he'd deal with Rosenburg. Or perhaps he'd pull her to help him with this. It should prove ...amusing. He summoned her and handed over the information. "He's trying now and once he has me, he'll go after your slayers. Would you like to help me?" he asked dryly.

She scowled. "You're an egotistical jackass, but sure. I guess." She let him lead the meditation this time onto the astral plane so they could fight these demons. Once there, she managed to trip into a trap Thanos had left, it was shiny and she couldn't really avoid touching shiny magic, making her scream and fight back. Then suddenly there was light at her back but she pushed Tara away before she could be consumed. Willow fought off the trap and the being there was not amused. Especially when she called up her hellmouths to fight him back. He roared and fought the chains she transferred from the demon to him and then sneered as she sealed them with specific blood. The demon was destroyed by Strange a bit later and it was better. The world was safer. Willow came out and went to Connecticut. "I sealed the major bad guy to your blood," she told Dawn.

Dawn blinked up at her. "I've got time for a nap between classes and I could actually really use one, Willow. What sort of blood? If I have my period is he free? Because if so, I've got to go get pregnant or something immediately."

"No!" She scowled at her. "You're not allowed to have kids."

Dawn sat up, staring at her. "Your name's not Joyce," she said bluntly. Willow flinched. "If and when I want to have kids, I'll damn well have kids. You won't get to see them, just in case you lose your shit again, but if and when I want kids I'll have ankle biters." She stared her down. "Now, what sort of blood did you seal it to?"

"Heart's blood."

"Oh, good, so I just can't die or get shot in the chest. That's better. I can handle that. Thanks for the warning. Which bad guy?"

"Thanos."

Dawn blinked a few times. "Wow, when you draw bad guys, you *really* draw bad guys."

"He was going to show up here in a few months," she said, glaring at her. "You're mouthy."

"I'm nineteen, not nine." She shrugged. "I'm also in college, outside the Council, and all that. Next time, ask before you use me."

"The others could die, Dawn. You're the one that probably won't be."

"And yet, I had an agent try to crash the cab I was in when I came back from getting groceries the other day," she said dryly. "When I asked him why, he decided I'd be a good handle to get Buffy's cooperation. I proved him wrong," she said dryly. "The officers asked me a few times to please quit proving him wrong by application of my feet, but he's sure he's stupid now." Willow winced. "*Someone* told them I'm Buffy's sister."

"Shit. You have to change schools again."

"No. This school has been amazingly helpful with my security. I'm staying here probably for the rest of my undergrad, unless something huge happens. I'll handle the rest. I learned from Xander." She smiled. Willow rolled her eyes but left. Dawn got up to get dressed, asking a member of the coven to send her to New York. She landed in a living room and looked up. "I meant to Xander," she said dryly. She looked at the two people staring at her. "Hi, Dawn Summers."

"Related to Buffy?" one of them asked.

"Her little sister. Willow just told me something about an upcoming fight." She grimaced. "Apparently the thing with Thanos is now linked to my heart's blood somehow." A man came off the elevator scowling. "Lord Thor."

He paused and stared at her, mouth open. "How...."

"Don't ask. I'm not going to go into it here. Needless to say, my big sister Buffy is not amused at that possibly coming out." She put her hands in her pockets. "Willow just told me she somehow locked Thanos up a tiny bit and it's linked to my heart's blood."

Thor blinked then nodded. "Interesting news." Stark came off the elevator. "Stark, do you know this charming young woman?" He was still being stunned by the power flowing off her. He couldn't remember who had been at their last meeting.

"I have met Dawn," he agreed, shaking her hand. "She did what?"

"Somehow she chained him up or something and it linked the closing to my heart's blood. So if he gets free, make sure I'm still alive?"

He nodded. "Yeah, we can do that, kid. You're still at U Conn?"

"Yeah, they were real helpful when an agent found out I'm Buffy's sister and tried to use me to get her by crashing my cab when I was coming home with groceries. They were really good at figuring out things and why I was hiding. They agreed, I should hide that information to protect myself from militant yahoos, as Xander calls them."

Stark nodded. "Definitely. So to get free, he'll have to get some of your blood?"

"Specifically heart's blood. So that means I've got to be in a really seriously bad way. Like Aztec sacrifice or torture that cuts into my chest bad way. Or dead."

Stark nodded. "Okay, we can watch out for that. I'll set an alert to warn me if you're harmed up there." She grinned and hugged him. "You good?"

"She interrupted my nap before Econ and I'm sucking in there. I have no idea what he's talking about half the time. He's teaching us about beer economies for some reason. Most of the class isn't even frat boys." She waved a hand around. "I can't drop though, it's my first semester. Thankfully I can retake it or something." She smiled at the guy coming off the elevator. "Hi, Clint."

"Dawn."

"Xander's going to have a fit later."

Clint winced. "What did the witch do this time?"

"She somehow locked Thanos to my heart's blood."

Clint sent that information to Xander's phone. Penny answered back that she had stolen it because she was out of minutes so she'd tell him after she evacuated the house in case there was about to be a magic battle. The girls would be helping her buy baby clothes in about an hour. She smiled at that note. "How did she do that?"

"No clue." She shrugged. "Willow!" She appeared. "Can you explain that to them? I have no idea what you did and these are the guys who'd have to fight Thanos."

She scowled at Dawn. "You're mouthy."

"Feel lucky I'm not drunk," she said dryly. "How did you do that?" Willow huffed but told them about what had been going on. Dawn winced at the end but nodded. "That just exposed me," she said in Latin. "If his minions come for me, I'm using your powers to kill their asses." She stared at her. "Really." Willow winced and moaned but disappeared. Dawn rubbed her forehead. "Great." Thor was still staring at her. She stared back. "I know I'm beautiful, Lord Thor, but don't you have a girlfriend?"

"I know how she had to do that," he said bluntly. "I felt the powers moving."

"Yeah, she pulled on both hellmouths she's connected to." Dawn stared at him. "And summoned a drop of my blood. Which means I have to worry about some of your people showing up."

"The bridge is still broken," he said. She sighed in relief. "I will tell them thus about you, Dawn."

"Thanks."

"You're Asgardian?" Stark asked.

Dawn looked at him then shook her head. "I've had contact with a really powerful artifact that a lot of mages on Asgard would find desirable in the wrong way. So if they show up to try to grab me, I'll create a mess. Then I'll have Willow come clean it up."

Thor winced. "That may happen."

"Would someone like Loki come for her?" Clint asked Thor.

"My brother was not that unwise," Thor said. "That would be dangerous."

"Yes, I can be," Dawn quipped with a grin. "Xander made sure of it."

Thor relaxed and nodded. "It is wise to learn such. I will make sure those who can be trusted know to watch over your life, Dawn."

"Thanks. Let me go not skip Econ," she said, glancing at her watch. "Maybe he'll make sense today instead of talking about beer and pretzel economics." She waved a hand and the coven sent her back to her dorm room. Where she had an unholy level of fit. She also warned Giles so he could beat Willow to death with something harder than a shoe or a shovel.

Thor sat down with a huff. "It is good they are protecting her."

"Is that artifact like one of those stones?" Stark asked.

"Not exactly but it would do worse," Thor admitted, looking at him. "It opens portals."

"Oh," he said, considering that. "That's going to suck."

"Yes, it will," Thor agreed. "Thankfully she is not in the craft and wishes to protect herself."

"Well, we knew they all protected Dawn," Clint quipped. "I guess we know why now." His phone rang with a text message from Xander. He sent back what had been discussed. "Xander's text message back was that he was going to destroy Willow into her component elements as soon as he found that book again."

"I can create a machine for that," Stark said. "I'll lend it to him. That way we don't have worse problems thanks to magic."

Clint grinned, writing that back. "Xander said his would be more humane." He walked off. This was going to be so bad. So very, very bad. Maybe even apocalypse bad. But amusing for those not caught in the battle.

Stark looked at Thor. "Should we worry about her safety?"

"Nay, they should be able to protect her. Harris is ever a knight." He got up and went to think about that problem. Were his brother alive, he'd be horribly problematic about that young woman. Maybe he would ask warriors from home to date more than the slayers. It could only help her.

***

Xander called Giles. "It's me. It's bad. Sit down. Oh, hey, Buffy. You too. Get Giles." He waited, pacing around the living room humming while she got him to the office. "Take me off speaker, Buffy. Lock the door as well. No, you two only. Yeah, it's a Willow issue." Buffy kicked the other watchers out. "Willow was just helping fight something and somehow outed Dawn to not only Dr. Strange, which just confirmed what he knew, and to Thanos, who she locked up using Dawn's heart's blood." Giles threw a fit.

Xander winced. "Yeah, that's what I said. Dawn did show up here in town to warn the Avengers guys that Thanos would have to kill her to fully get free so they're warned if she suddenly dies." Giles was still ranting and screaming. "Also, got a message from Strange. That possession of hers right now? It shows on the astral plane and it's not the PTB. His higher power recognized it as a Celestial being." Giles went on a different rant. "Yeah, that's why I said just you two," he said dryly. "Dawn *should* be safe for at least a good while. Her present school is good about security."

Kennedy strolled in with the last few girls. "They're here."

"I'm listening to Giles throw a fit."

"What did she do this time?" Kennedy sighed, sitting on the arm of a chair. She could hear the screaming going on. "Wow, that's loud. What did Willow do?"

"She outed Dawn."

"Oh, fuck. Press?"

"Higher beings." He grinned. "She locked up that little threat we have in a few months with Dawn's blood."

"Oh my fucking god," Kennedy moaned, rubbing her face. "Is Dawn safe?"

"So far. Her school's good about her safety. They helped a lot when an agent tried to grab her." He winced. "Yes, Buffy, they helped get him when she kicked him around so hard the local cops up there had to ask her to please stop. Three times." He waved a hand in the air. "She's okay. Though she's hating her class she's about to have she's fine. I talk to her weekly."

He listened. "No, she had the officers call me to see why the agent had her cab crashed into. I told him why. The agent said he wanted your cooperation with his ideas." Buffy growled. "But she's fine. That agent's in jail or at least his higher ups know he's an idiot. No, Willow did that today. Something was coming after Strange and he was worried he'd have to take her out because he heard she was possessed, from me admittedly, so she showed up to talk her way into him leaving her alone again.

"No, she was possessed. She might still be possessed by some Celestial being, Giles. No, she had plans of uncalling the slayers by killing them horribly in a mass sacrificial event. Therefore no future slayers and no reason to keep fighting big things. Yeah, that plan. I warned him because it'd pull on his higher being's calling. Like you told me to. I noticed he was being surrounded by mystical chains so I notified him and let him handle it. Willow apparently helped and then they found Thanos. Yup, him. Showing up in a few months?

"Yes, that problem. No, that's who she sealed using Dawn's heart's blood." Kennedy let out a high pitched whining sound. "No, Buffy, that's Kennedy. She just dropped the last few girls that went to England off." He listened. "Hey, I'll gladly find that book with the spell to rend her into her component parts. Stark offered to build a machine." He listened. "You told me to warn him," Xander reminded him. "So I did. I have no idea how it transferred to fighting Thanos on the astral plane, Giles. I wasn't there. Ask her." He bellowed for Willow, who appeared with a squeak to justify herself. Giles and Buffy both screamed at her.

"Guys, she's still possessed," Xander said. "She'd be crying by now if not." They did the exorcism and she started to cry about that idea but he wasn't convinced. "Buffy, have her bind herself please. That way she can't do it anyway. Yeah, she's not crying crying, she's kitty crying. That crying, yup." He listened. "Yeah, but if she tries that I'm going to have to kill her to end the sacrificial circle and I'll be damned if I won't get there within nanoseconds of her starting one way or another."

He listened. "Exactly, Giles. You told me to warn him about her possession so I did. Nothing I did would've outed Dawn to anyone or used Dawn's blood in any manner. That was all her doing. I'm not taking responsibility for her problems. She decided to do that. Binding Thanos from coming may have helped but now he'll be really angry when he shows up." Willow defended it saved her life. Xander huffed. He sucked his teeth for a second then looked at Kennedy. She shook her head with a sigh.

"While that sucks, Giles, those things are probably really visible. Twinkly from what I've seen, but visible. The last time you went astral meditation didn't you see things waiting on you?" He nodded. "So how did she *trip* into it?" She admitted she looked at it. "Hmm." Giles was back screaming at her. Kennedy walked off shaking her head. "No, I don't believe that's a good idea. Because killing Dawn would be a horrifying problem in the making, Willow. Don't you even think about it."

Willow complained about Dawn and her attitude and about her saying she might have kids and a whole lot of other complaints. Xander looked up. "Tara, go protect Dawn," he bellowed. "Willow's wanting to kill her for being a cute young lady who has ideas about someday having kids." He felt the magic go off. "Giles, you yelled in my ear, you can take that one," he said dryly at the complaints.

Kennedy leaned out of the kitchen. "Want a hot pocket?"

"No, I want to get drunk," he said bluntly. "She just said Dawn was evil for being a young woman who some day might want to have kids and told Willow her name wasn't Joyce so she had no right to nag her about anything. Which I fully agree with."

Kennedy nodded. "I know I'm spoiled and a princess. She's not and she's a problem. And I don't mean Dawn. Ham or pizza hot pocket so you can go get drunk?"

"Ham please. Or one of the ones with cheese and broccoli so I don't get nagged about veggies." She nodded, going to make him two. He listened. "I can come paddle her, Giles. We all know that. Also, that's what just activated both hellmouths she's been on because even I felt the hellmouths react to her call. Are the girls going to have problems tonight?" Buffy yelled at someone to check the local hellmouth and to call LA just in case. Xander took the plate. "Thanks, Kennedy."

He settled in to eat while they screamed at Willow, who was crying again. "Still fake crying, Buffster. Yup, that is. No, she's good at it. That's her crying at her mom to make her give her things crying. That's how she finally got a bike that Jesse taught her how to ride." He ate a bite, chewing while she nagged Willow. "No, I'm going to get totally drunk, Buffy. I deserve it right now because I haven't smited anyone. Or is smote the proper tense in that sentence?"

"I think smote is past tense but not a present action," Kennedy said. "Way past tense, not recent past tense."

"Cool. Thanks. Kennedy said it'd have to be a while before it was smote instead of smited." He ate another bite. "I wondered why the girls all suddenly went baby clothes shopping with Penny again," he said dryly. "She had my phone because she was out of minutes."

Kennedy texted Penny, who told her where to send the other girls, just in case. "I'm going to get them to the mall, Xander."

"Have fun. If it's the city center one, it's about fifteen bucks cab fare for each cab." She nodded, calling a cab and raiding the house's petty cash jug for fare while she got the girls going. Including the napping one. She'd hate to die in her sleep. Xander finished his second hot pocket. "No, you guys have fun. If I show up there tonight, I'm going to bring my axe, Buffy. Yes, that sort.

"I don't play guitar right now," he said dryly. "Sure, you have fun with that and let me know tomorrow if I need to come help while I'm hung over. No, I don't usually drink, Giles. I haven't had more than a single beer every few months outside of after a few really nasty battles. The last one I got intentionally drunk after was so bad you'll never hear about it because that whole country is covering it up. Let me know when it's my turn to come spank her or if I need to find a perpetual spanking machine." He hung up with a groan.

He went up to his room to change clothes, put on sneakers, pare down his weapons so he wouldn't attack someone while drunk, and grab his wallet. He walked out after texting Penny that he was off-call tonight and to not bother him, he was getting wasted drunk before he walked to Cleveland. He walked into the mercenary bar, put down money on the bartop. "I'm going to get shitfaced drunk," he said bluntly. "I'm going to sit in a corner and drink politely and then I'm going to fall asleep there."

"You should go home."

"The girls don't need to see me in that state and it's a Willow problem. This is going to keep me from destroying a city to make sure I get her. I'm not into worrying about how good the liquor is, just make it strong."

"Tequila?"

"Preferably not. Or scotch or gin if you can."

"Sure, we can do that." He handed him something. "Have fun in your corner."

"I even pared down the weapons just in case someone jumped me. I tend to get a bit mean when I'm close to blacking out." He went to the corner to start drinking. When someone tried to worry about losing his keys, he glared at him. "Don't break into the drinking unless you want to see me summon Willow and kill her ass." He took another drink. "Please. Though, they're in a car. Underneath a seat."

"Thanks, Harris. What did she do this time?"

Xander waved a hand in the air. "She let out classified things that's endangering a lot of people and she did it on purpose. She was also possessed and planning on sacrificing all the slayers but Buffy to end the slayer calling, and she's still thinking it might be a good idea even though she's no longer possessed. I'd hate to destroy all of Cleveland to make sure I got her. That's why I'm going to nap in this corner later."

The mercenary nodded. "Yeah, we can make sure no one attacks you tonight, kid." He went to talk to the others. They all sent out messages to their friends.

At a poker hall uptown, Deadpool looked at the phone he pulled out of his spandex tights. "Wow, Harris is drinking hard not to smite Rosenburg."

The demons in the bar stared at him. "What?" the dealer at his table asked, sounding polite. Deadpool let him have the phone. He sent back a clarification email, with his name on it. He got what Xander had said. "Oh, fuck!" he bellowed. "Someone call the bar up by Dawn to protect her. And let the others know that Rosenburg was going to mass sacrifice all the slayers. Even though she's not possessed she's still got *ideas*." He handed the phone back. The bartender was texting a whole lot of people. "Harris is drunk," he announced. "He's staying at the bar tonight." They all sighed in relief. "He'll go bother her tomorrow by cutting off her head hopefully."

"The pool on when he'd do that has already gone long past the last bet," another demon said. "Which is a pity."

Deadpool looked at that demon then at the one dealing his table. "What happened?"

"Rosenburg has plans. It's a bad one. It'd take out all the slayers but Buffy to make sure no future slayer could be called. There's been a spell to do that for centuries but it'd take killing about two hundred of them total so it wasn't practical before."

Deadpool considered it. "Can we stop her?"

"Oh, plenty of us can stop her," another demon quipped. "She's able to be killed." He looked up. "The bar up there said that Dawn had a talk with Willow about not being named Joyce."

"Hmm, no, Rosenburg is not the Summers mother," the dealer agreed.

"She was mad that Dawn had plans about children someday."

"Great," the bartender complained. "Can we banish Rosenburg? Even if she was possessed it's too great a threat."

"Harris made her a cat once," Deadpool suggested. "Can it be redone?"

A few demons looked at each other then nodded. They got together to do the spell then one called the slayer house to let them know why. It was saving humanity and the slayers. They'd appreciate the pink baby mule.

***

The other mercenaries looked over as someone tried Xander. There was still that price on his head and he'd understand, if he lived. Unfortunately the guy didn't realize that Xander became a damn ninja when he was drunk. They nicely got him an ambulance when he didn't die, which was a pity since he had a good prize in the dead pool the bar had going on. Xander groaned but flopped down in his corner, nursing his newest drink with a pout. One of the working girls in there went to give him a hug, getting cuddled in return but he didn't even flirt with her, just wanted cuddles. He even paid for it. He was a pretty nice drunk.

Deadpool walked in, shaking his head. He walked over to Harris, squatting down in front of him. "I was at the pool hall on Mayview," he said. Xander grinned at him, sipping his drink. "They heard you were drinking hard and why you wouldn't go smite her. They turned her into a baby pink mule for the slayers to pet."

Xander hugged him. "Thank you. It means I don't have to smite her this week. I hope." He pulled the working girl around to cuddle more. "You smell good."

"Thank you, sugar." She petted over his hair, looking at Deadpool. "It's that bad?"

"The whole bar went onto a 'hell no' fit." Xander giggled but nodded. "Yeah, it was that bad." He patted the kid on the knee. "Want walked home?"

"No. The girls don't need to see anyone this drunk. I'll nap here in the corner. Thanks though."

"Welcome, kid." He stood up. "Sometimes it gets that bad."

"She nearly got humanity killed this time."

"That's bad," Deadpool agreed, walking off. He texted someone who he had found out knew Xander in a former snuggly time friend way. They showed up and hauled Xander up, getting swung at. They kissed him and Xander moaned, knocking him onto the table right there. "We don't need to see that," he called. "Let him help you find a bed, Xander."

Xander pouted at him. "I'm really only halfway drunk."

"I can tell. I saw the last time you got shitfaced. You were singing." He got up and took Xander with him. He was in a good mood so it'd be okay. He was keeping the other mercenaries from going 'awww' and cuddling Xander when he got more cuddly the more drunk he got.

Deadpool shook his head. "I'm guessing he only goes there when it's *real* bad."

"Baby pink mule?"

"She's a hidebound ass," Deadpool said dryly. "But a girl so she's pink."

The whole bar nodded and got a drink from the remains of Xander's prepaid drinking fund.

***

Xander came home the next morning, staring at Giles since he was waiting on him. "That's why I didn't come home last night," he said when the older man opened his mouth. "The girls didn't need to see me like that."

"No, they didn't. That's very wise and Kennedy stayed over."

"There's three girls over the age of eighteen, they can babysit the minis for a few hours. We don't have patrol or club hunting right now thanks to all the problems that still haven't fully ended."

"I've heard." He stared at him. "Fixed the hangover?"

"Drunk parents, Giles. I don't get hangovers. I get a bit touchy stomached but otherwise no headache or anything." Giles grimaced. Xander shrugged. "Bad genes."

"Point. I wish I had that gift many days." He sat Xander down. "Did you magic her?"

"No. I wasn't fully drunk when someone narked to my sometimes lover to come pick me up. I was going to sleep in the corner of the bar. It'd be safer since I tend to be more mean if I'm jumped."

"Then who magiced her?"

"Deadpool told me he was at the demon poker hall and they did. They had a hell no fit about her trying to sacrifice the girls. That's all I told them about."

"Hmm. That is heinous and it's quite nice of them to give us a pink mule. Though by city ordinances we're not allowed to keep her at the house."

"Send her to Devon? They live in the country. She's not going to bring zoological diseases over. They can probably nag her every day. It might get through her stubborn head. I think that's a beautiful and really correct thing to change her into, though she'd hate the pink."

"She is stubborn, yes." He stared at him. "I've never looked that good after a night of drinking."

"Giles, I have a huge tolerance," Xander said bluntly. "My parents tried to get me to drink with them plenty of times when I was younger. I could hold three cans of beer and be mostly sober when I was six. That's how we celebrated me going to school so I wasn't at home all day."

Giles winced. "That's horrific in its own way."

Xander nodded. "Yeah, pretty much." He grinned. "I don't get hangovers. I also don't drink all that often. A lite beer now and then. It's real rare I have to hit the harder stuff and it's usually been after horrible battles."

"What ones didn't I hear about?"

"There's been a few. They wanted them hidden. They wanted to forget it happened. Or that there used to be a village in a few spots." Giles winced. Xander pulled up the short reports he made on those and handed it over. "That's what you should have gotten on them. I emailed them."

Giles read the short, paragraph long reports from five battles then looked at him. "They're that bad?"

"Yeah. They're that bad."

"Higher level demons? Demon lords?"

"Two other worldly evil shits? One hell goddess higher than Glory. One mass extinction event that we had to make a wish to end by going back to stop it three months earlier." Giles winced. "D'Hoffryn came to ask my slayer specifically if she would make that sacrifice because she could probably die doing it. We both went. She did die, and I nearly died. Twice. In one day." He blinked at his pseudo father. "The other one....well it was with humans." He shrugged. "They started it and I didn't want to have to finish but I damn sure did. I had to blow some poker debts. A lot of poker debts. Plus blow two of my boyfriends to get help against that group. There's probably still people wondering where they went."

Giles handed back the phone. "Are you still drunk perhaps?"

"No. I'm fully sober." He shrugged. "I don't talk about those."

"I would like a larger report. Just in case something similar is run into by later slayers."

Xander held up a finger and went to get a journal he kept hidden in his room by magic. He came down to hand it over. Then he went to get Giles some tea. "You'll need that. Skip past that thing on the cliff. It should be after that. That's my huge problems being worked on journal." He went back to the kitchen to make himself some breakfast. Drinking did make him hungry, even if he was a bit nauseous.

Giles settled in to flip through that one, reading what happened on that cliff that night. "I did not know she did that. How did you weed out that energy?" he called.

"Demon bar. Succuba can do that."

"Charming."

"It's like ecstasy to them."

"I did not know that." He went back to reading, sipping the tea. Xander brought him the pot when he drained that cup. "When was that?"

Xander looked then shrugged. The Aztec wannabes weren't that bad on his scale. "You had me run down to help Cecily." He went back to save his breakfast.

Giles kept reading. He found the first one from those reports, reading it more slowly. He had to drink the tea to keep himself from vomiting. Xander brought him more tea when he had drank that pot. Giles scowled at him. "I should say something."

"Then you clearly haven't finished it yet. Want crackers too? We have stuff for Penny's morning sickness."

"No thank you, Xander." He went back to reading. By the end, he didn't want to say anything. He believed it was a good idea to hide some of those. He went to the next incident, bypassing a bad note about that date being a dick as it had been put. The next one did make him dry heave but he sipped more tea. He looked at the cup then at the kitchen. "This is tea?"

"It's pregnancy and morning sickness tea," Xander said dryly. "To keep the stuff in your stomach inside your stomach." He leaned back to look out at him. "You'll need it if you're anywhere near the fourth incident."

"I'm sickened by the third."

"Yeah, the fourth? I got horribly drunk after that one and the fifth." He sat up again to go back to his paperwork. Since Giles was here, no one could make sure he didn't get it this time.

Giles read that incident. It didn't get any easier to read. The fourth started off with 'fucking people eaters' and that was all the warning he got before the 'fucking people eaters' decided to attack a few villages that were in the middle of almost nowhere because no one was going to notice for a bit. Until the traveling doctors did notice and called it in. Then they had to get Xander from another country. Give him weapons. And then the army got out of the way. Even though Xander noted he'd need help because he wasn't an army. "Oh, dear." Xander gave him a pack of crackers and went into the kitchen again. Giles went back to reading that, nibbling on the crackers. He still dry heaved and nearly needed to vomit. By the end, he needed a break so he got up to go look in the armory then came back to find a post-it note on top of the usual paperwork he had to deal with from the boy. He sighed but sat down to read over that next incident. That time, he made it to the bathroom in time. Barely. He had only been a paragraph in but he knew about those demons.

Xander leaned into the bathroom. "There were eight of them in that village as I later found out."

"Your notes said four," Giles groaned.

"The others were laying eggs in a nearby cave. We stumbled onto them when we found tracks a few days later after another disappearance of a child."

Giles heaved again. "I did a report on them in the academy." He heaved and threw up.

Xander let him have some privacy and went to make more pregnancy tea. Kennedy was reading the journal, looking confused. He looked then at her. "They eat kids. Slowly and a piece at a time, like we do chicken." She shuddered and put down the journal carefully. "Giles wanted to know what was bad enough that I went to drink heavily."

"If they eat kids, that's automatically on my 'I need brain bleach' list." She looked around then at him. "What did the demons do to Willow?" she asked quietly. "One of them gave me condolences."

"They turned her into a pink baby mule," Giles said as he came out of the bathroom, all cleaned up but a bit damp. "Most of the minis thought it was truly fitting with some of her moods." He looked at Xander. "What was the fifth? Before I even try to read. Worse, better?"

"Invasion," Xander said. "No slayers within six hours flight. Scaredy ass armies. It took an hour for some of them to jump in but thankfully it was really large guards and only about twenty at first." Giles shuddered. "Yeah! I went to drink for a week while I healed so I didn't have to wonder why I could see my intestines." Kennedy heaved and shook her head as she walked off. "And that was the charming part," Xander finished with a grin. Giles stared at him. "That's why I didn't tell you. I was not going to listen to the bitching."

"Buffy would've had someone give you a soulmate immediately when she heard," Kennedy agreed from the kitchen. "The sort you see in stories that can't part from their love's side."

"With her doing it and my luck, she would've done it to Spike," he said dryly. "Then I would've freed myself really fast. Africa's really bright in most of the continent." He grinned. "It wouldn't last that long. Still better than the people that wanted to send us into alpha and omega status."

Kennedy leaned out of the kitchen. "Excuse me?" she demanded calmly. He grinned and nodded. "Why?"

"Little dicked scientist who had dreams of being an alpha," he said dryly. "Gone now. I liaisoned. Dawn was with one of my ex's so she came to wait in the plane."

Giles took off his glasses to stare at him. "How did you find that out?"

"Longish story," he admitted. "But that was during one of the hiding times."

"I figured it was with Dawn being in Africa." He stared at him.

Xander dug out the report to hand over. "I sent it in."

Giles read it over, eyebrows going up. "Interesting. His formula?"

"Destroyed. Stark handled it. The scientists were instructed to not remember anything."

"Good," Giles agreed. "Excellent in fact." He tucked that into his jacket with the other paperwork. He read the rest of those reports and handed the journal back, giving him a hug. "It's most extraordinary you managed to survive, my boy. Please keep doing that but do more sane things. I'd hate to lose you to something like that." He patted him on the cheek. "Also, buy some clothes, Xander. It was noted in the press that you have nothing to wear that's not stained or ripped."

"You know I don't go into stores, Giles. I asked the girls to pick me up t-shirts."

"I'll get you some clothes later," Kennedy said with a hand wave. "I'm going to meet up with my mother and stepmother later for tea anyway." She looked at Giles. "Food?"

"Not right now. Thank you, Kennedy." He smiled at her. "I'm most proud of how you've handled London, most of the time. The screaming...."

"They were driving me nuts," she said. "They deserved it. Even the neighbors said they deserved it."

Giles nodded. "I understand. Call the house and have Faith lecture the girls for you, Kennedy. It'll be easier on you." He gave her a hug then left to go to the airport. A few agents handed him folders on the way. "On slayer activities?"

"Yes, sir," the agent said. "One of the girls is dating an arms dealer."

Xander leaned out. "Is it one of my ex's? Most of them are more than happy to help the slayers when I ask."

"Probably," the agent agreed. "Can't you date someone nice?"

"Dude, I nearly married the vengeance demon over women scorned. That *is* nice for me."

"Oh, I see. Sure," he decided, walking off. "We won't bust people selling you weapons for the armories but we do not like them being so open about it. He had her at a restaurant and she did a lap dance for his birthday party."

"I'll remind the girls they're actually ladies when I get home," Giles said, reading those folders as he walked off shaking his head. He really did have to talk to his girls.

Xander looked at Kennedy. "I'm going to bed. Have fun with your mom and wherever you stashed the girls, you can tell them to come home. I don't get hangovers."

Kennedy stared at him. "They're decorating on Penny." He rolled his eyes, going up to his room. "I need your sizes."

He tossed down some clean clothes. "Those are clean, don't rip them up. The t-shirt's a bit stretched but a bit tight."

She looked at the sizes, making a note in her phone. She also stole his wallet and went shopping for him. She had plenty of time to find him t-shirts, jeans, and underwear. The girls had noted he went commando a few times so she was duty bound to fix that too. Then she dropped them off and went to tea with her maternal units. "Sorry I'm a bit late. I was shopping for Xander because he's mall phobic thanks to Buffy." She settled in with a smile for them.

Her mother poured her some tea. "He's mall phobic?"

"Buffy, the blonde one? She used to drag Xander with her as her approval committee. He doesn't go into a store but he only had four stained t-shirts left. Giles asked me to find him some."

"That's charming of you, dear. Isn't he the one you used to complain about?"

"Yes, then I realized I'm a spoiled princess." Her mother grinned and patted her on the arm. "He does a lot for us girls, Mom. He's great to us."

"Have we seen him?" her stepmother asked.

"The guy with the axe," she said.

Her mother shivered. "He's cute."

"Yes but he's into evil things," Kennedy said dryly. "I grew out of my evil years when I broke up with Willow. Who is now a pink mule." She shook her head quickly. "I don't even want to think about her."

Her stepmother patted her on the arm. "Is there anyone nice where you've been stationed, dear?"

"London is full of pretty women with class," she said with a grin. "I can't find one myself because they see I'm american and sulk." Both mothers rolled their eyes. "I've found a few college aged girlfriends who are nice. Two weren't fond of the calling but the other one was really nice until she graduated and moved to Norway. We still text and stuff."

"That's good, dear," both mothers agreed. "Eat, you need to eat." They shared a smirk and looked at her.

"If that's the look that you two messed up Daddy, I don't need to know." She sipped her tea. "I live with a living, bitching soap opera every day, Moms. Including teenagers that I'm watching over as my minis and their boyfriends." She took another drink and a cookie to nibble. "Sixteen minis in my country and four of them in the house. Fortunately the local community is really calm and great to the house." She ate another cookie. "It's a lot nicer than here or Cleveland. A lot less stress because we don't have hardly any of the militant yahoos that tried things here in the US." Her mothers smiled and nodded. "That's why I got to babysit most of the minis in the US for a while too. It was a great big huge sleepover with stressed out girls. We went to the spa a few times."

"That's always a great idea when you're stressed," her stepmother said. "It's a happy thing for most girls."

Kennedy nodded. "Especially after battles. It helps a lot and they can help clean off goo at some of them. It's *real* helpful." Her mother giggled, swatting her on the arm. "Seriously! *Real* helpful sometimes, Mom." She smiled. "So, how is Daddy?"

They grinned. "Dead when we find his new mistress," they told her.

"Oooh."

"She's your age," her stepmother quipped. "I think she's that old."

Her mother nodded. "She's eighteen."

"Oh, that's bad," Kennedy said. "Should I meet her?"

"You don't want to talk to that money grubbing ho," her mother said dryly. "She's a foreign model."

"She's probably searching for a green card," her stepmother said, sipping her tea.

"Or she's looking for stability," Kennedy said. "Some of the foreign slayers desperately needed something to hold onto because they weren't used to the open cultures and a whole lot of self decisions."

The two older women looked at each other then nodded. "That could be," her mother agreed.

"He hasn't been spending himself poor buying presents like he tried to do with me before I made him stop it," the stepmother agreed.

Kennedy cleared her throat. "He also gave you some of the jewelry that was passed down to me by my grandmother's will. Not that I need it during battles but just a point of order."

"I've already sorted those out to the safe and I only borrow on occasion, dear."

"Okay. As long as they don't disappear somehow. Some day I might decide to have a kid to pass things onto. Maybe that's what he's doing."

"She is young enough to be a daughter," her mother said dryly.

"He could be looking for a second heir," Kennedy said. "Because he's always known I was called. He had me store eggs just in case when I was seventeen."

Both mothers grimaced. "That's disgusting," her stepmother complained.

"That way he'd have grandchildren and I am not old enough for that," her mother said. Kennedy nodded while nibbling. "Well, we'll have to stop that. I am not ready to be a grandmother yet." She smiled at her fellow wife. Then at her daughter. "Any other good news, dear?"

"I let the girls adopt a dog for the house. It's so ugly it's cute. There's a few weird neighbors who aren't bad, but seem to not be home very often. They also seem to be beaten up a lot. I found out they're not the mob but the local community won't tell me what they do. I'm guessing it's covert or something." She shrugged and ate another bite. "One's cute. About my age. Has a pug. The girls like to coo at him when he takes it for a run in a baby carrier." Her mother shook her head but was smiling. "He doesn't flirt but he's sweet enough. Hands over mail when it gets mixed up. Helped when someone broke into the house to steal his girlfriend back and she just screamed like a girl instead of kicking him out the window like we taught her to."

"Interesting. Do you think there might be a chance with him?" her mother asked with a hopeful look.

"The boy doesn't flirt, Mom. So unless I majorly go lose my couth and throw myself at him, probably not. Though we have given him stuff for bruises and cuts in the past."

"That's sweet, dear. Maybe someday soon?"

"Mom, I do a lot of club hunting," she said dryly. "I can pick up something easy but it won't last."

"Point," she decided. "Well, let me know about that cute young man. Maybe if he's not interested in you, one of the other girls can find someone nice."

"Maybe if he's an agent I can set him up with Xander. He could use a tough guy with a nice nature."

"He is adorable. Is he straight?" her stepmother asked.

"Sometimes. I know he's dated both. Nearly married a woman but he was shown how horrible it'd be for her so he left her at the altar. It was her friends that showed him that." Her mother grimaced. "It was a mistake in all meanings of the word, Mom. He was dating a fallen vengeance demon."

"Oh, that's nasty," she said.

"Kinda. Anya was pretty weird about things sometimes. Especially about sex. Very loud about her orgasm count. Constantly." She shook her head again. "She fell in the battle out there."

"That's too bad." She patted her daughter on the wrist again. "When are you going back?"

"Tonight. I can't leave my minis too long or they'll start to have sleepovers with scungy things again. Some of them have *no* taste." Her mothers both smiled and patted her for it. When Kennedy finally got home, she heard a groan and went to look. "There's my favorite pug," she said, picking it up to look at. "Why do you have blood on you?" She looked around, finding the reason. She walked over. "Hmm. Hey." He winced and tried to move. "Stop. Now," she ordered. "Kylia!" she yelled. She came jogging over. "Here, take JB inside, get him a bath. I'll get his human."

"I'll pull out the first aid kit too, Kennedy." She cooed as she took the dog. "You're such a good boy, JB. Come play with Pommy. He's bored anyway. He's a very bored puppy today for some reason, no matter how much we try to play with him." They walked off together.

Kennedy looked him over. "Problems moving limbs?" He shook his head. "Neck or back injury?"

"No," he moaned. "I can move."

"Bullshit. You look worse than I did after the last apocalypse battle." He gave her an odd look. "You didn't see me fighting off major problems with a sword? That's weird, it was on the news for days. They kept saying I needed tighter pants like Faith." She helped him up and to their house. "C'mon. If I know Kylia, she's already called a healer."

"I know some docs," he said.

She looked at him. "So do I, and some who can do touch healing, Eggsy." She all but carried him inside to the bathroom they used for clean ups. "Okay. Off with the shirt. By the way, my mom wanted me to flirt with you but I figured you were gay with how you didn't notice I tried. So don't be embarrassed," she said with an evil smirk. She helped him out of his shirt and jeans, pulling out the bruise and cleaning potions. "This'll sting but it'll suck the bruise out faster." She dosed the injuries. "No, JB. Don't sniff that. It'll ruin your nose and it's not good for puppies. Go help Pommy." JB barked. She stared down at him. "Go eat, kid." She pointed. "The girls are eating." JB ran off to beg for food.

"I trained him not to," he complained.

"Yeah but he's a dog and they're girls. They'll feed him until he's a fat pug." She went over the other injuries. A person knocked. "Cleaning up injuries."

"That's why I'm here, Kennedy." She walked in. "Slayer Kylia said that you had a problem with a neighbor."

"No, I'm pretty sure Eggsy here had a problem with someone. He didn't realize we were slayers." She smiled and got out of the way. "I was using the coven's bruise potion on him."

"That's always helpful, Slayer Kennedy." She checked him over then laid a hand on his cheek, one on his chest, and hummed. "Nothing broken. Just a lot of muscle strain and bruising." She concentrated and her hands glowed.

"That's weird," Eggsy said, staring at it. "Warm too."

"Shh," the healer ordered. She finally got done and smiled at him. "There you go, my boy." She patted him on the cheek. "You really are a bit dense if you didn't realize this was the London slayer house, boy, but you're sweet enough. Go tease the girls. They could use some teasing. They're used to it from Xander you know." She cleaned up a few remaining injuries and then went to get dinner. The girls nicely handed over sandwiches and the two dogs to play with. It was sweet of them to take care of her.

Kennedy leaned in the doorway, smirking at him. "You'd figure you'd have seen it on the news. Especially since all we've heard about you was that no one will say who you work for but you're obviously covert."

"Not here about you ladies," he said.

"Obviously," she said dryly, smirking harder. "Or else you would've flirted back." She stood up. "Take a shower. There's a washer there and it's pretty fast. Put on a robe and come eat dinner." She strolled off.

Eggsy did close the door and turn on the shower, looking at the mirror. "Merlin?" he hissed. His handler was complaining loudly in his ear. "Sure, you do that. I'm gonna shower off the blood." He got in to shower and wash some of his clothes. He needed to do laundry at home anyway. Probably didn't have anything clean to grab. Merlin was throwing a fit about how he knew something was weird about all those girls living near him. Though they seemed nice enough. Eggsy had to put on a fluffy blue bathrobe while things washed but it was nice and comfy. Clearly a guy's size. He went to the kitchen, smiling when JB barked but stayed with the healer. "Thank you, ma'am," he said. "I'm really honored you healed me."

"Aww, you have manners. That's so sweet." She kissed him on the cheek. She looked at his glasses. "Tell that imp fucking little asshole that he still owes me sixty quid from that poker game and if he doesn't pay up soon, I'm sending succuba to strip for him." She patted him on the cheek. "Be a good boy. You too, JB. Be a good boy for your human." He barked and let Eggsy have him. She went home to giggle. The girls did have some luck.

Eggsy sat down, staring at the girls. "I had no idea this was the slayer house." They all grinned and a few waved. "Wow. That explains why you never need help carrying stuff." They laughed and handed him sandwiches too. "Ta." He dug in, feeding JB a few pieces of lunch meat. He was a happy puppy today. He was ignoring Merlin moaning but he'd ask him about that in the morning.

***

Once he was back in Cleveland, Giles called the people he had in Africa. "I recently read things that Xander had been hiding for my sanity." They mentioned a few things. "That last one wasn't in there but the others were. When was that?" He looked up the records. "Oh, he did send that in. Willow edited it as him being drunk for some reason." He corrected that. "Could you? That would be kind, thank you. No, I'm not distressed he hid them. I spent today reading them and throwing up," he said dryly. "Do tell us if there's more of that sort of problem. We'll send you help." He smiled. "Good. Let me know personally." He hung up and went to get something from the kitchen to help settle his stomach.

Andrew held up a rice krispy treat. "Helps with heartburn and other stomach issues. The rice soaks it up, the sugar gives the acid something to work against."

Giles took it with a smile. "Thank you, Andrew. Did you know Xander had been hiding some things?"

"Of course he did. Half the stuff he reported the braying one outside edited or discounted. If you put them all back we'd all hate Africa though." He looked at him over his cookbook. "Can we let her be adopted?"

"I doubt that's a good idea since she is human." He nibbled. "These are quite nice."

"Thank you though we didn't make them. I bought this time. The store was out of marshmallows." He looked outside at the nagging mule sounds. "She's nagging the cat."

Giles looked out there. "Do stop now, Willow. Thank you." He ate another bite. "Can you pull up the originals?"

"If she left them and didn't overwrite them." He went into the office to work on that for him. He came out with a portable key drive. "Try those." He went back to figuring out what he was making for dinner. Willow was loudly braying. "Shut up before I use an African goat recipe on you," he yelled from his seat. She quit. "The city's about to make us send you to the pound, Willow. So shut up and stay that way please." She pouted but he didn't let her into the house either. That cat of hers was still on her back too. He had known she had summoned the cat from somewhere, it definitely wasn't normal. It looked in at him and he pointed. "No cats in the kitchen unless I'm cooking you." It went back to bothering Willow. It was apparently her new favorite thing to play with.

Giles came back from scanning those reports. "A few she had edited and saved it over."

"You can probably ask Xander to send you a new copy."

"I've sent that request. He said he'd fax them down when he found them." He sighed, going to answer the door. He stared at the officer. "The mule is a changed witch that was causing harm, Officer."

"We heard earlier, Mr. Giles." He pointed. "Three of your girls got into a fight at the mall."

Giles stared at them. "What did you three do?"

"They were picking on us!" one defended. "One had a knife!"

"One did have a knife," the officer agreed. "We broke them up after Slayer Cynthia broke that one's arm and leg and hip." Giles scowled at her. "It was saving them so we don't mind. Her mother's not pressing charges. We had hoped it was something minor like a girl fight and then one's father showed up in his pickup truck with the confederate flag and a 'slayers die too' sticker," he said dryly. "So we know they were defending themselves but we thought it best to bring the home tonight and explain that they weren't in trouble."

Giles stared at the three girls. "If that was the only way to protect themselves I won't punish them either. If there was another way, we'll be having a chat, ladies." They all slumped. "Where's Briana? She's usually with your pack."

"She came home to do paperwork about two hours ago," one of the girls said. "Andrew, have you seen Briana?" she yelled.

Andrew came to the door shaking his head. "No. She sent a text message asking what's for dinner about an hour ago, saying she was on her way. Haven't seen her since. Is she dating?"

"She's not really into dating. She understands why people do but it doesn't interest her," the second slayer said. "She's kinda looking asexual but we're okay with that."

Giles took off his glasses. "Andrew, go do the checking spell," he said quietly. He jogged to the office. "Inside, ladies. Officer, did you want to stay for a moment?"

"I gladly will and I'm hoping the girl just got sidetracked by someone."

Andrew came out shaking his head. "Her string's dark brown, nearly black. She's outside town by the old farm that we were looking at." He pulled up a map and pointed. "She's in this area and you've got maybe minutes."

He called that in. "We have state boys out there. Let us try to find her quickly." He heard a report and winced. "Oh, dear."

Giles looked at Andrew. "No going rogue."

"No, I'm gonna tell Xander. That's his job." He called that in. "We have an SOS. One of the girls got taken by some of the bigots and it's not looking good for her when I did a finding. Briana. She's out by that old farm." He winced. "Please." He hung up. "He'll be right down."

Giles stared at him. "That was nearly evil, Andrew."

"Well I am reformed but some day I'm still going to take over humanity in honor of Johno." He walked off. "C'mon, girls. Let's do a nose count just in case there's more missing."

"Cy snuck off to be with her boyfriend," one of the girls complained from the living room.

Andrew looked in there. "Ladies, Xander's acting as our SWAT team and vengeance demon. Someone took Briana." They all stared at him, one of them blindly using the remote to turn down the tv. "Her string's not looking good. PD can find her but Xander's now livid." They cuddled together. "So for now, do a head count. Get everyone back here. That way none of you go to prison tonight." They started a calling.

"I can't reach Cy," one said. "Her phone's going to voicemail."

"I can find her," Andrew promised, going to the office to find her checking string. It wasn't in bad health. He sighed as he came back. "It's reading emotional but not bad and they're at the hellmouth's park." The officer called that in so she could be checked on.

***

Xander appeared in the field and cursed everyone there then took the slayer from the burning pile of green wood and got her to the ER they used in town. "Guys, someone attacked her. This is Slayer Briana. Some of the bigots got her and she was limply chained to green wood that was burning." The nurse took her from him to put onto a gurney. He followed. "I'm Watcher Xander Harris, head of the New York house and the Council's handling it guy." They let him follow for a minute. He called Giles.

"She's in damn bad shape. The bigots are damn sorry since I called something to have them eaten from the inside out, and the cops that were pulling up can get them out of their own fire. They saw me do it by the way." He hung up. "She's got a medic alert somewhere." They found it inside her bra and ran the number, making him go wait for now. Xander looked at a half-demon nurse. She was wincing. "They were taunting her too. How her enhanced strength and healing wouldn't help her this time," he said quietly.

"There's only one group in town, Knight. I'm hoping the officers can finally act. They said sending threats wasn't enough for a restraining order." Buffy and Faith stomped in. "She's being treated, Seniors."

Xander looked at them. "I so summoned something to eat them from the inside out then put them into their own fire. State PD saw me since they were pulling up but I'll do time for that."

"We'll protect you and if you have to, go traveling again," Buffy ordered. She looked at the nurse. "We need to know soon. Giles is starting to call on Janus again." She went in to check. Buffy looked at him. "Thanks."

"You know damn well I'd never let most of you suffer. Willow..... If it was corrective?"

"The city wanted to put her into the pound earlier since we're not zoned for mules," Faith said dryly. "They're considering the ramifications of her being a changed bitch."

"I suggested she go to the coven so they could rant while they took care of her," Xander said dryly. "Though it was nice the poker circuit in New York did that for you guys."

"I'll send the overlord a nice card," Buffy decided. "That's much nicer than me skinning her alive."

"Andrew found a spell to keep her alive that way," Faith quipped. "The same one whoever did on Warren thanks to Angel's thing." Buffy nodded.

Xander grinned. "There's three versions of that. One's for when you turn someone inside out." The girls both shuddered. "You can find some seriously evil things in some supposedly white light books." The doctor came out. "Is Bri gonna be okay?"

"We're not sure yet. She's lost a lot of blood. The burns aren't that bad. We have her on a respirator because the smoke burned her lungs. She has a skull fracture. She's got multiple cuts and broken bones. Who did this?"

"Group of idiot bigots," Buffy said.

"We've called in someone to take forensic notes, Slayer Buffy. We hope she'll be okay. Right now I'm going to say fifty-fifty as long as she doesn't get an infection."

"I'll call Tara, see if they can get some healing stuff worked up," Faith said. "Then her mom."

"Oh, that's right, Bri has a mom," Xander said. "I'll do that, Faith. You call Tara. The coven still *loves* me." He looked at his phone, getting into the online phone book as he walked off. There it was. "Hi, Mrs. Skilds. It's Xander Harris. No, it's not a happy sharing news, ma'am. Sit please? No, not dead. Some of the local bigots got her while she was at the mall. Apparently she left to come home early and no one realized they had snatched her on the way. They had her for about an hour."

He took a deep breath. "I managed to save her from them but she's in some pretty nasty shape in the ER. Yes, here in Cleveland. Ma'am, you don't want that information over the phone." He listened. "No, they don't have to do that kit. They have to take a lot of forensics but I'm pretty sure they don't have to do that one." He looked at a nurse, who passed that back. She shook her head. "No, the nurse said they didn't need to. No, she's unconscious.

"I got her to the ER in time. She's got multiple broken bones and some smoke damage. No, they beat her pretty badly and then were going to burn her on some green wood," he sighed. He rubbed his forehead. "Yeah, me, Buffy, and Faith are here. Giles is doing a head count to make sure none of the other girls are missing. Please. Let us know and we'll help you get here. I'll let Giles know I notified you and to expect you to call him for directions at the least. Thank you, ma'am." He hung up and texted Giles. He put his phone up before he threw it and looked back there. "I'm getting air."

"Go for it," Buffy said. "I'm here."

Xander walked outside, nodding at the two officers. "She's back in bay three if you're here for Briana."

"I am, sir. What happened?"

"I came in late. I just rescued her. The state boys saw me doing it."

"They wanted to beat you for that," the other officer said.

Xander nodded. "I don't think they'll get very far either since they had that same fire going around one of the slayers they had tortured." They winced. "She's inside in bay three." He pointed. One of them went in there to ask about that with the forensics people. Xander looked at the other officer. "I didn't do near as much as I should have to them. They deserve worse and things eating them can be removed if someone wants to. It won't infect anyone. It's like a leach."

"How badly did they hurt her?"

"The way the doc said? Multiple broken bones and a skull fracture was the nicest."

"Okay, so they had her how long?"

"We think about an hour," Faith said as she joined them. "She had been at the mall with a few others that run in a pack. She left early for homework. We realized it when the other three got home without her. Frankly, if Xander gets in trouble for dealing with them we'll hire him a great lawyer that would make OJ's look like wimps. He's the big brother and handling it guy for the Council."

"Usually I would've beaten them for it," Xander quipped. "But she needed the ER too much."

"I can see that point," the officer said, making notes. "The State PD aren't saying to arrest you yet." He looked at him. "Are you usually here?"

"New York's house. I head that house."

"Good to know." He made that note as well. He stared at a note that popped up. "You're a past torture victim?"

"Yeah, Egypt decided I was part demon so they had me locked up for about two months of trying to torture me," he said blandly. "They apologized right before the convergence in London."

"Which one was that?"

"The elves," Xander said.

"Oh, that one. Hard to keep track."

Xander grinned. "Aren't you glad your hellmouth isn't nearly as bad as Sunnydale's was when the town got sucked into it?"

"Yes." His partner came out. "She good?"

"Not likely anytime soon. She have parents?"

"I called," Xander said. "She's calling Giles to get here sooner." They both nodded. "If I'm in trouble, I'll gladly go to trial for it, guys."

"So far you're not," the second officer said. "Just stay out of trouble." Xander pointed at the people sneaking toward them. "Gentlemen, is there a problem?" he asked. "We're taking statements."

"They're evil," one of them said.

Xander looked at him. "No, evil is hurting little kids for being born funny. I'm not like that. Are you, Faith?"

"No, not in the least. I'd never discriminate on anyone for being born a bit funny."

That group sneered. "You're still evil. You're a *slayer*."

"Yeah, that means some higher power decided she needed to be strong enough to have fairy tales written about her," Xander said. "Move along, people." They stomped off. Xander looked at the officers then at Faith.

"I'll go sit with B. I can't hurt people." She went inside where Buffy was.

Xander looked at the officers. "Thankfully I haven't had that problem yet."

"The bigots?" one of the officers asked.

"No, dealing with humans being proscribed by the powers," he said dryly. "I've had to handle a few different peoples who hated slayers." Someone yelled as they came at him with a knife. Xander ducked to the side, then kicked the knife hand, breaking it. He disarmed the guy then held him on the ground with his arm being twisted up and behind him. "Good afternoon. What was your plan?" he asked dryly. "Because I'm not amused."

"Sir," the second officer said, pulling out cuffs. Xander let him have the guy. "Nice job."

Xander grinned. "Usually I'd do more damage but I figured you guys wanted paperwork."

"Not really but we'll gladly do some," the first officer said. He pointed. "That's that same group by what they reported."

Xander looked. "They're Klan. Not part of that other group." He walked over to one of them, staring at him. "One of the slayers got taken and tortured by people you might call friends. I'm making sure you're not here to be assholes to her."

"No, Harris, we're here to guard the slayer. We don't want eaten by anything either." The head of the group stared at him. "That moron's not one of us. He's part of that new group that formed by the college."

"Briana's going to either burn unit or ICU. Let us know if you spot trouble please."

"Gladly." They shook hands and Xander walked off. He looked at his people. "I'd be pissed too." They nodded, deploying around the hospital. Buffy glared at them. "Slayer Buffy, we don't want killed by their sort either. We might not like that it takes girls to save us but we're not gonna let you be harmed until we're damn sure we can handle it for you."

"Handle it with us," Buffy said. "We could always use more help. Some of us are real tired most of the time."

He nodded. "We can do that."

"Train for battles," Faith ordered from her seat. "They're harder and more frequent than we like plus give us bigger injuries. There's a 'you can come help' order in place for those." They smiled and nodded. "She's being moved to ICU soon. Her parents are on their way."

"That's fine. We can be noticeable so that other group doesn't show up."

An officer tapped him on the arm. "What other group? We thought you were all one group."

"Not hardly. We don't like having to be saved by tiny little girls but we'll be damned if we're gonna be killed by ET's cousin. We're not fond of any sort of alien, no matter which plane they came from." Buffy cracked up at that. The officer led them aside to talk to them about that other group. It could only help arrest them. Before the rest of them showed up to try to beat Buffy or Faith and got Xander instead. They walked out to break it up.

Xander was doing okay, though he looked like hell. There were already a few groaning on the ground. The two he was fighting were already looking bruised and bleeding. Buffy came out to kick one of the guys off Xander. Xander decked the other guy, knocking him down. The other one hopped up and Xander pulled a knife, waving him on. The guy pulled his own knife. The officer tackled that guy. "Harris, you not good enough at that yet?" the head of the bigots asked.

Xander looked at him. "Three weeks ago I took a bullet to the shoulder and I'm off getting really drunk last night and not eating most of today so I could sleep." Buffy shuddered. "Besides, there were six of them." He looked down. "Seven. Eight?" he guessed, looking at one guy. "When did you jump in?"

The officers led him off to get him cleaned up by the nurses. One of the nurses stared at them, blocking their way. "We don't handle mutants here," she said quietly.

"Tough shit for you," Buffy sneered. The lady backed away. "Hey, Doc?" He came out of Bri's room to look then groaned and took Xander to clean him up. Buffy followed. "The nurse said you don't handle mutants."

"Some of the nurses and doctors are like that," he admitted, glancing at her. "We're human too, Miss Summers."

"I know. Still sucks. Though demon healers are probably faster."

"Especially since I have patrol tonight," Xander agreed. "Because I'm not letting the girls go out but we've had some raising again."

Buffy nodded. "I don't let ours go out either. They can go in groups to the movies or something but not on patrol. Too big of a risk." She looked at Xander's wrist. "You dislocated it."

He looked then shrugged, pushing the bones back into place. "Hurts less than when I did it to my knee a few years ago." The doctor stared at him. "Doc, I've been in worse areas," he said dryly. "A lot worse areas. I can handle some pain. I haven't ever used local during stitches. We only had advil and tylenol at home."

"Oh, dear." He got him cleaned up and the few cuts stitched. The wrist got checked and he was given a brace. "I want you to use it."

"At least it's my off hand for my sword," Xander quipped with a grin. "Thanks, Doc."

"Welcome."

"Bri?"

"ICU. Her parents?"

"I called. They're calling Giles to get here as soon as they can."

"Good. Who has medical power of attorney until they get here?"

"Giles probably," Buffy said. "He does over most of the girls."

Xander nodded. "Any senior watcher would, whichever was nearby. So technically I do but I can go and leave it to Giles," he said with a point. Giles was staring at him from the doorway. "Hey, Ethan, that's creepy." He changed back. "Giles is at home doing a head count."

"I heard. I also felt your charming summoning of something I was going to send at an enemy."

Xander grinned. "They had tortured a young slayer and put her into a fire."

"That's worse than the one I was going to use that on," he decided. "I could call up a healing spell."

Xander grinned. "I'm good enough. Thanks though. I've had worse than this sparring during a date." Buffy walked off shaking her head and rolling her eyes. He grinned at Ethan, who smirked back. "Giles just pulled in. I can feel the protections on him."

"I was nearly brilliant when I created those," he said dryly, looking back at his former partner in magic. "I came to see why he summoned something I was about to use."

"They can be removed so you can have them back," Xander offered with a grin.

Giles looked at him. "Take something for the pain, Xander. Before you become evil."

"I've got patrol tonight since the girls can't go." He shrugged and smiled, waving his wand to disappear. He appeared in the park he needed, summoning his favorite sword so he could go on a hike with violence. It was like golf only there was no balls unless he cut someone's off.

Giles shook his head. "Thank you, Doctor. Does he need anything like an antibiotic? I'll have them sent to him."

"I think he should be fine. The ones that jumped him?"

A nurse leaned in with a smile. "The surgeons have most of them to stitch them up quickly so they can go to jail. Bed's open upstairs so we're moving the young slayer." They followed, Ethan doing a healing spell for her. That's why he had really shown up. Taunting Xander just was an added bonus.

***

Steve Rogers ran into Xander later that night, while he was on break. "What were you fighting this time?" he asked, looking concerned.

"The bigots that tried to torture and then burn one of the minis in Cleveland. Who then showed up at the hospital to be beaten. It was nice enough that they sent them to jail with stitches and stuff." He took another sip of his bottled water. "I'm good. The doctor down there took the time to do my stitches. Why are you and your shadow out and about?"

"We saw the vampire attacks in the paper," Steve said.

Xander grinned. "I got five. There's another ten or so around here that I'm waiting on while I have a snack. First food since breakfast." He finished up and tossed things into the trash can he was sitting by. He looked around the hero at his shadow. "This vampire species needs beheaded. I can summon a sword for you if you need one," he offered.

"Can't we shoot them?"

"Wooden bullets go funny and don't work that well," Xander said. "I've tried everything and it doesn't work right."

"If you use higher caliber bullets you could blow the head off," Bucky offered.

"If I'm in a fight with eight of them, that'll take more time than is wise."

"Backup?" Bucky demanded.

Xander waved his hand with the brace. "Idiot bigots who try to kill the girls. Still. I'm not letting them come out in this. And slayers pretty universally don't like guns for the most part. Like artillery but not guns. They got it from Buffy's part of the slayer spirit." He slid off the retaining wall and moved. "Let me go handle that."

"Sit," Steve ordered. "We can help and you could use a rest."

"I'm fine. There were seven of them." He shrugged. "I've already done half this cemetery and then I'm heading to their clubhouse." He walked off, checking his sword. "I have to sharpen you tomorrow." He pounced a vampire and stabbed it then beheaded it while it whined. He looked at the human out there. "Sir, yes, that watch you're looking for is buried but it's buried with a guy. I have a finding gift and I get pictures of that. He's not fully gone so not that long dead." The man grimaced but nodded and walked off. "Also, there's roaming vampires out here, sir. You should go be safe." The man hurried off. Xander went to find the other vampires. He didn't care if Steve and Bucky were giving each other odd looks. It was the life they lived and it made them happy to work together. He wasn't going to destroy their happiness.

Unlike the girls, who might speculate how they got happy, he wasn't that sort of guy.

"We can do heroic stuff, kid," Bucky said as he followed him.

"Of course you can. That's why one of you wears the skintight spandex now and then." He grinned back at them. "You can jump in but I've got it. Really."

Steve shook his head. "Body armor needs to be found for the girls."

"It stifles their movements. They've tried. Agent Romanoff let Kennedy try on her special outfit and it still stifled her movements. We all would adore it but it doesn't help."

"You could use a vest like Hawkeye uses," Steve said.

Xander grinned. "He looks a lot hotter than I would in it. I'm losing some of my construction guy muscles because I haven't had time to work out recently."

Steve stared at him. "You've only been healed for a week, Harris."

"I'm good. Actually it's more like a week and a half but I'm fine. Even when the guy tried to punch me there earlier it was okay."

"Do you still feel pain?" Bucky asked. "Even I'd say ouch sometimes."

Xander stopped walking to look at him. "Yes I do. I just learned how to ignore it. My parents taught me that *real* well. Then I learned how to hunt vampires." He stared at him. "I'm fine. Really. I'm okay and just a bit banged up. I've had worse than this when one of my dates misunderstood why I was getting out of bed one night." Bucky winced. "This isn't anything. I don't have any cuts that're deep enough to have seen body organs. Been there, done that a few times. Including an official surgery that the hacks botched really hard. It's not affecting anything but my skin. I'm not having to crawl through demon slime or shit to handle something or blow something up, so I'm okay.

"But thank you for worrying. You don't even nag like a slayer and that's really nice of you." He smiled. "I'd hug you but you'd stab me." He walked off again. "Here, vampy vampy vampy. Come meet my pretty sword, vampy. It'll really like playing with you." Two of them jumped him and he beheaded one then stabbed the other and kicked it so he could behead it. "Ha!" He grinned at the remains as they ashed up. "A few less suckers to hit on me in the club." He walked off again whistling.

Steve looked at Bucky. "He does get nagged by the slayers," he said quietly.

Bucky shook his head but followed. The next time the kid was jumped, he grabbed one of the vampires to hit and break the neck of. Steve beheaded it when he dropped it. Bucky knew knives, not swords. Yet. He'd have to learn apparently.

***

Steve walked up to Clint in the kitchen when they got back. "Is Xander depressed?" he asked quietly.

"No. There's just a lot that has to get done and they're really short of people." He looked at him. "Like how you felt that the war rested on your shoulders? He feels the same way about the Council. Why?" He poured himself some coffee from the pot he had been making.

"He got jumped earlier when one of the girls got caught by some of the bigots."

Clint nearly choked. "Here?" he demanded.

"Cleveland." Steve rested his hip against the counter. "He's pretty banged up. When Bucky tried to suggest we could handle it for him tonight, he thanked him for not nagging like a slayer."

"They can," Clint agreed. "Often." He drank another gulp. "I'll check on him tomorrow. Remember after the huge battles and he had two that day?" Steve nodded. "He spent three days napping and not eating because the girls kept stealing all his food. I had to make him eat that next night when I found out. He kept passing out." He took another drink. "To him, it's something that has to be done and there's not a lot of people who can do the job. Some might temp, like us, but we're not fully trained if something weird happens. I actually found things that if you blow up, they grow." He grinned before finishing that cup and getting more. "One of the slayers sent me a text message saying it had to be killed by whale bone."

"I've seen the classification manual," Steve said.

"That's when I borrowed a copy for us." He walked off sipping his coffee. "I'll check on the kid tomorrow. That one slayer okay?"

"In the ICU from what he said. Not great but expected to survive."

"Good."

"Xander said the Klan group down there showed up to protect her. They weren't going to let anyone stop the little girls that were saving their butts too. Until they could handle it for the girls."

Clint paused, considering that, then walked off shaking his head but grinning. "That's sweet of them I guess." He went to his room to collapse for a few hours. Then he'd go check on Xander. Or he'd ask Kara's boyfriend to go nag him like he would his teammates. That might work. He sent him a text message and one to Logan about maybe helping patrol now and then since Xander was doing it all by himself and that wasn't safe. Logan didn't need swords, he had his claws. So much easier to end vampires than using a bow.

***

Xander leaned out of the kitchen when someone knocked then walked in. "Let me finish making mini kid breakfasts, guys." He went back to cooking eggs. "FOOD!" The girls stampeded down the stairs, pausing to hug Piotr and Logan, then running to the table. "You guys washed, right?" he asked dryly. Half the kids ran off to do that then came back. Xander brought out the large plate of scrambled eggs then went back to get the toast and jelly. The girls dug in, pouting at him. "We're out of bacon, guys. You ate three pounds already this week. I've got three hams in crock pots for dinner." They wiggled and got back to eating. Xander nodded and led the two heros the living room, closing the door. "Huge problems someone heard about?" he guessed.

Logan pointed at the wrist brace. "Heard about that."

Xander looked then shrugged. "Few bigots attacked last night."

"Here?" Logan asked.

"Cleveland. I had to run to save one of the girls. She's in the ICU by the morning briefing I got."

Logan stared at him. "She going to be okay?"

"Probably. We hope."

Logan nodded. "Where can we help while you're down with that wrist problem, kid?"

"It's really just a few raising vampires right now. We don't have a battle for a bit as far as I've heard. No magical holidays coming, no eclipses soon, no worrying dates that we'd usually hope we had off. Right now it's just some patrol. I've got it, but thanks, guys."

Piotr stared at him. "You made Kara scowl."

"You're her boyfriend," Xander quipped, waving a hand around. "Fix it, man. She'd probably like the cuddling."

"I tried. You're still injured and doing her job."

"Because there's people who took Briana from a mall and tortured her then were going to be burning her on a pole. I got her out of the fire." Both heros shuddered. "It was nice that the Klan group down there showed up to help protect her against that other group."

"You haven't had a day off since you were in the hospital after being shot," Piotr reminded him. "We can handle some patrol nights for you."

"If you guys wanna jump in, go for it. I can go club hunt instead. I doubt either of you guys would draw vampires with ass love shots. Because they adore mine."

Logan shook his head. "I don't club and big boy here probably can't either."

"Kara has taught me but I seem to scare them," Piotr said.

"You're a sweet guy and we know that. If vampires can't appreciate the muscles and the kind nature, they're stupid. Then again, dead brains aren't fully functioning, Piotr."

"Point," he agreed. "We can still take some of the patrols. It's very hard to kill either of us."

Xander nodded. "If you guys want, go ahead. Let me know and I'll go club hunt instead. I could use some getting down and dirty time."

"We'll take the next few nights," Logan said. "I'll let you know if something happens."

"Okay. Remember, those yahoos don't like you guys either and if there's a girl with you they'll try for her. One tried for me last night but spotted Rogers and ran for his life."

"Good," Logan agreed. "That's at least smart of them." He smirked a tiny bit. "Gumbo wanted to help too."

"The majority of the vamps I've seen around here are beheaders and a few psychic ones that take blood to kill."

"That's weird," Logan said.

"They feed on energy like succuba do but they feed on the full life force instead of the partial forces that succuba eat. They're fully solid but blood apparently takes them out because they can go intangible and the blood messes with them. Thankfully no one's ripped one apart to figure out why."

Logan nodded. "Good. Okay, we can handle that. You take tonight and tomorrow night off. We'll go do that. We have a few of the kids who want to join the teams that we can use a gentle patrol to test for battle worthiness."

"Okay. Make sure they have someone with them who can stake, behead, and all that." Logan extended a claw. "That's handy but some things that won't bother because it's not silver." He looked and got a book off the shelves. "Here, it's for the witchly sort and siblings. It explains why silver and why their siblings suddenly have a few extra pieces of silver jewelry."

Logan nodded, reading the back cover. "That's handy. Are there others?"

Xander pointed at that bookcase. "That's our lending library for those who want to know. Clint Barton has the spare classification manual."

"We can get it from him."

"I can handle tonight since they won't have a clue."

"Gumbo and I have both taken out vamps, Harris. He's from Cajun country, they've got tons down there."

"They've got royal ones down there and they're almost all beheading but stiff, uptight, and think humans are amusing. They tend not to cause too many problems outside the stupid young ones. Oh!" He snapped his fingers as he pulled out his phone to pull up a site. "Saw their meeting last night. Creeped out Rogers totally that there's a 'be a better holistic vampire' group." He let them see the meeting he had taped.

Logan stared then moaned. "They're doing yoga to get in touch with their demons?"

"Oh, it gets better. They go over self actualization and positive reinforcement. How to retrain your making master so they're more in touch with the modern life and how to be holistic. Even a few tips on how to pick out organic food eaters." Logan handed the phone back, shaking his head quickly. "We used to go to high school with one of their higher people. She's a former cheerleader from near LA."

"That explains a lot," Logan said. "Where do they meet?"

"That one was at a community center by Columbia. I ran into it on the way to the usual vampire hunting club last night." He looked and found their site, letting them see it. It had an auto-start video outlining why a self actualized, holistic vampire was the future and a better hunter because of it. "Sunnydale had ones that wanted to work on their image. That movement started in LA. They used to have a 'bring two, eat one' policy for meetings and to grow their movement."

"Too weird and new agey for me," Logan said. "But I'll let others know." He looked at Piotr then at Xander. "We can handle teaching the kiddies tonight and we'll be going with them if something bigger shows up. You rest tonight before one of your minis tells Bethy to come fuss."

Xander winced. "Yeah, she would. She's very good at it too." Logan smirked and nodded. "Fine. I'll take tonight off. Let me know how patrol goes because we keep stats."

"Fine. You rest. Want us to take the kids?"

"Are you going to torture the one that kinda was down on Kara for not being a mutant?" Xander quipped.

"No," Logan said. "Jean's just that way sometimes."

One of the minis leaned in. "Is everything okay? We heard about Briana."

"I beat their asses," Xander told her. "I even magiced demon leaches to eat them." She giggled and ran off to tell the others. They came in to pounce Piotr, who smiled and sat down to talk to the girls. "Okay, you guys play if he wants. Let me go finish the reports from the other houses." He looked at Logan. "We need people to do paperwork."

"If I find one, I'll send 'em to you." He went to the Avengers tower, pulling up that website once he made it to the common area. Natasha was in there. "He ran into them by Columbia. Creeped Rogers out."

She watched that first video. "I thought hipsters were weird," she decided. She was slightly frowning. "Why are they doing that?" Logan ran the first video for her. "Oh. I see." She called the others and Clint.

Steve came out, shaking his head. "Those ones are weird."

"Their *movement* came from LA," Logan said dryly. "Harris is going to rest tonight so we can field test some of the kids who want to go on patrol. Me, Piotr, and Gambit."

Steve grinned. "We can go too."

"Go club hunt, Rogers. None of us would get any ass love to quote the kid." Stark came off the elevator with Clint. "New vampire movement."

Clint stared at it. "My brain hurts," he decided, sitting down. He found the classification manual to hand over. "We made copies finally."

"Thanks. We're field testing the kids." Clint grinned. "We'll be fine. Go club hunting if you have to. We've talked Harris into taking tonight off. He's doing paperwork."

"Poor guy," Stark said. He was looking disgusted at the video. "They're actually real?"

"By Columbia," Steve said. "We ran into them last night. They were having a yoga meeting." Bruce looked at him. "Xander had a thought back to the former cheerleader he knew from high school."

Logan nodded. "He mentioned her to us too." He looked at Natasha. Then at Rogers. "Are they recruiting?"

"Among the newly raised," Steve said. "We asked the one we trapped. They said it was voluntary and unlike the group in LA they didn't bring in people to eat or turn. They only wanted organic food sources." Natasha moaned, holding her head as she leaned back. "They talked about how to find organic food sources last night," he told her. "How to spot them in the club and places other than Whole Foods."

Natasha held up a hand. "Don't. Please." She looked at the team then at Logan. "Do we have to infiltrate?"

"If they're not eating unwilling victims we can't really do that," Steve said. "If they're only doing willing ones, that means they're trying to stay peaceful." She stared at him. "We need to find out if they're taking unwilling victims."

"Why would anyone want to be eaten?" Stark demanded.

"If they made it a peaceful death, I know a few people in hospice that would," Bruce said. "Plus there's the goth kids that might want to be turned." Stark moaned, walking off shaking his head. "Can we deal with them anyway? Before that movement spreads?"

"It's online," Logan reminded him. "There's probably self actualized vampires all over the world now."

"It's a disease," Natasha said. "Much like Whole Foods is at times."

Steve grinned at her. "I like some of their stuff, but way too expensive. I'm still wondering why they're used in all those food article for comparisons when they're not all over the US."

"Because those sort of writers only consider the US to be New York, Chicago, and LA," she said dryly. "The rest of the country is supposed to follow along." She turned off the video before her headache got worse. "Can we suggest Harris go look for more artifacts? It makes him happy and others groan plus would probably make him rest for a bit."

"So far Cleveland hasn't tried to arrest him for last night," Stark said, pulling up the security footage that had been saved by their PD.

Steve blinked. "He did good." He looked at Clint.

"His shoulder's still sore," Clint said, tipping his head slightly. "He's battle lost."

Natasha nodded. "He does do that sometimes. All the way to his hyena at times. Thankfully she thinks Clint's nice."

"Mostly," he agreed.

"I saw him fall that way and bite a HYDRA guy's throat out," Logan told her.

She nodded. "She only huffs at me."

"Chuffing is their version of purrs," Bruce said.

"That's sweet then," she decided. "So patrol tonight?"

"Kids being field tested," he agreed. "We tried to talk him into two nights."

"We'll see if we can talk him into it tomorrow," Clint said. "Have fun with that."

"You too," he said, going back to the school to let the kids going on their first patrol look over the classification manual. Gambit got it for a while too in case they ran into something odd.

Not that hunting vampires was so usual. Even for mutants who saved the world.

TBC....
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