Weird Old Lines.
The three beings grimaced as they watched tv, almost snarling at the chaos going on just a few miles away from where they were. They couldn't show up to help but it was time to make a few moves that no one, not even the higher ups, thought would be possible. Because, yeah, they didn't want any other gods to show up on this realm without them knowing. Thor was bad enough, and his brother was living up to his chaos god rep. So for now they had to do some...fixing. They shared a look and went to talk to their cohorts. Not like most of them didn't already realize they were ...special beings.
Xander looked up from the battle then at the girls around him. "Ladies, scatter," he called. "The battle's falling. Go to civie support." They nodded, heading off to help. The ones who had already been helping evacuate got some backup. Xander looked at the two injured slayers and leaned down to check them. Neither one would survive those injuries, even with special healing. But he had to try. He sent a prayer up to the few demons who owed him poker debts. They wouldn't want to save slayers but slayers were preferable to alien doucebugs.
They glowed and he said a silent thank you. He got the into the transport with the injured civilians, nodding at an officer. The axe he carried got a dirty look. He pulled out his official ID to hold up, earning a quiet moan. "We weren't here," he said quietly but firmly. "Get them healed and they can make it to the local house. We know how some people feel about the girls." The officer nodded, going with that group just in case. Xander walked off. Sometimes he really hated humanity. Especially the ones who had been holding up 'greetings to our new alien overlord' signs.
He set one sign on fire as he walked past it and the dead bodies that it was resting on top of. An officer scowled so he pointed at the sign. "Not here it won't." The officer snorted but put out the fire after the sign was gone. Xander went back to checking on his teams. They were mostly healthy, just small combat injuries and scrapes or bruises. They could handle that. He spotted agents in dull looking black suits, wearing white shirts and sunglasses.
"SHIELD's here," he said into their comm system. The girls knew that was a cue to scatter. SHIELD had a huge meltdown over slayers when they had to come out of the closet thanks to LA's demon invasion. Even Xander had heard in Africa. He had shown back up to rescue the girls that were in custody. He had gotten caught but his helpers hadn't and the girls had gotten free, then they had gotten him out of there.
He snapped off a jaunty salute to an agent glaring at him. "It's our world too, dude. Thankfully I was local to help." He clicked over. "Been spotted by an agent, ladies. Can we come home?" He got sent to a safehouse. The slayers were back in the safety fallback outside of Cleveland that no one could get into if they weren't Council. Xander settled in to clean his weapons and then go take a shower. Because he was sore, he ached, and he needed some stress relief to kill off the last of the adrenaline. Normal guys had that reaction to battles.
The Avengers team winced when the phone was still ringing at the tower when they made it back to crash for the night. No one wanted to know who was calling. "JARVIS, must you?" Tony demanded.
"Yes, sir, it's for Lord Thor," the AI said. "His girlfriend spotted him and is most peeved at him."
Thor groaned but picked up the phone to answer it. "Yes, Jane?" He smiled. "Yes, I am well until you and Darcy can kick me around. No, I must escort my brother back to Asgard...." He winced. "I need rest, Jane. May we speak on this in the morning?" She apparently chewed him a new one. "No, do not do that, Jane. I apologize for not alerting you I was back for a serious problem that Loki was causing." He flopped down on a nearby mostly whole chair. It broke but oh well. It was better than staying standing. "Jane." Another tirade. "Darcy, please calm her down," he said gently and quietly. "Were it not an emergency I would not have been sent by my father to handle Loki's recent plots. Yes, I will call her once I wake up. Yes, I am tired and I know you both worry about me. Thank you, Darcy. Yes, once I wake up. I shall see if we took down the number."
"I have," the AI assured him.
"Thank you. Stark's AI has the number and I shall call once I wake up and before I eat. Please?" Jane said something but Darcy told him to get a shower before he slept or he'd be more sore in the morning. "I know. Thank you, Darcy. I shall talk to you both in the daylight." He hung up and made himself stand up. Stark pointed. "Thank you, Man of Iron." He went to shower and sleep. This battle had been harder than many he had been in. Longer as well. Though he longed to hold Jane to him so he slept tonight he could not do that at this moment. It would get her harmed.
Stark looked at the others. "Anyone else got a girlfriend who'll be calling?" No one said anything but Steve stared at him. "No, I've already heard from mine. Everyone find a spot and sleep. We deserve some uninterrupted sleep. JARVIS, no one in until the last one of us is awake and it had better be after lunch because I'm going to sleep that long." He went to his room and crashed. The others found rooms and slept in them. Clint and Natasha slept back-to-back in the same bed, the same as they had on missions, so nothing would bother them. Clint really needed to be in the infirmary but she was too tired to force him back there.
"We're going to have a problem," one of the lower level 'helpers' said quietly in his boss's ear. "A huge problem actually." That one looked at him, grinning slightly. Leave it to the newer recruits to panic about the simple things. "First, one of them is no longer in the US. Second, he's rated as 'do not touch' by a lot of people. We're not sure why. There's closed files dating from something that happened out west, something that happened in his actual former town of Sunnydale, and something that happened in Africa. The rest aren't going to want to show up."
"That's a big problem but I'm sure they can figure a way around it."
"You might want to read his file first. It's not pretty. At all." He handed it over. "This is *all* we could find. Out of almost thirty years."
He looked at the thin file. "That's bad." He flipped into it. Almost nothing, and the few things they had been able to find couldn't be verified. "Any idea if he's a spook?"
"No clue about anything. Anywhere. Even on the stranger sites. Though they do have him hunting vampires now and then."
"That's a problem. Thanks." He walked off, going to talk to the head trio. "Guys?" They looked over. "One problem with your chosen." He put down the thin file. "He's about thirty. That's all they could find on his background check. That and *maybe* he hunts vampires now and then. Plus three 'do not touch' orders based on incidences."
"That's weird." They looked at it then at him. "He's direct bloodline."
"The only time we've ever spotted him at something in the US was the other day at the battle in New York. He was protecting an area around one of the hospitals."
They nodded. "I like that action," another said, looking at the higher one.
"Me too. Nothing else?"
"Not that the security team could find. They don't think he's a ghost."
"Any way we can get a retired member near him?"
"Current location is listed as 'traveling back to Africa'," the second-highest said, pointing at it. "Is he native?"
"No. He's from that town that sank. One of the incidences is from there. One's from Iowa. The other's from Africa."
"So we know nothing about him," the highest one said then smiled. "It'll work out."
"If you're sure. How are we going to get him back here?"
"We ask someone for a favor."
"Got it, boss. Let us know when." He walked off, leaving it in their hands.
The trio shared a look. "Tommy?"
"Going," he agreed, going to look the guy up. That was beyond weird and if he was in the wrong sort of business it'd be a bad idea to include him. They had to know before they called the whole 'family' together to meet.
There was a concert. A huge concert. The ones the trio had to check up on had been given special tickets with backstage and after-party passes. All of them showed up, even the one that had been sent back from Africa for a torn knee ligament. Which he was on a crutch for. He looked very confused too. The party was lower key, mostly just the band, the security team from the Hong Kong Cavaliers, and the new members. The trio walked in and smiled. "Evening, everyone." He looked at the one. "Sit, that's gotta hurt."
"I'm good. I took some aleeve earlier and it's good now." He stared at them, sensing something was off. Great, demons or something. He glanced down at his shirt and the pendant under it. No glow so no magic. He got pushed into a chair. "I'm fine but thank you." He grinned.
"It's not what you think."
"You so sure about that? I heard someone was sniffing a file trail Willow left."
"I'm pretty sure." He walked over to the center of the crowd. "People, we invited you for a specific reason. Mostly family reasons. Doing some genealogy work, we're kind of related." Most of them grinned at that. "So we wanted to get to know you guys."
Xander nodded. "Wow, how were you related to the Harris'? I didn't think they had been out of Sunnydale since it came into being." If they were demons just saying the town's name should get some sort of response. Not an open one but a look sent his way. "They followed the wacky original mayor out there." He shrugged.
The lone woman stared at him. "Who're you? I've seen your picture recently. Mostly with some swearing that got covered up."
Xander held out a hand with a smile. "Xander Harris."
"Darcy Lewis." She shook it with a grin. "Why was my boss, Jane Foster, swearing about you?"
"The same Jane Foster that's doing the Einsten-Rosen bridge?" Buckaroo asked with a grin.
She grinned back. "I'm her very patient intern."
"Are you in the sciences?"
She laughed, shaking her head. "Poli Sci. She was the last internship open when I needed one at Culver."
"Good school," he praised. "Tell her I'd love to see her work to see if it's applicable to mine."
"I can do that." She pulled out her phone to text. She got back an auto response. "Thor's got her."
Xander shook his head with a sigh. "Great. Does she realize he's also a fertility god?" he asked her.
"There's birth control, nosy."
"Yeah, we've seen two of the Indo-European ones recently and they both went through it. I mention this because they both kinda died from the huge ass kids they had. One punched his own hole out."
Darcy paused for a second's thought. "I'll look that up for her."
"Look it up on Fergola's site. He's the creepy arcane guy in Italy. They're covering it up a tiny bit since one came out as Hindu blue as they put it. With four arms. If you find anything in a normal site it'll probably attribute it to demonic origins."
"Do you deal with that stuff?" she asked with a slight grin.
He nodded. "You could say that." He pulled out his wallet and handed over a card. "I'm the only field Watcher in Africa. I'm also one of the reasons we all changed methods after the First blew up Sunnydale." He looked at them. "So." He grinned.
"We're not demonic, kid," one of the guys in the back said.
"No, you're into chaos magic. I've been yanked a few times by Janus. We noticed the protections." He smiled. "Thanks for not having me possessed like Ethan did."
That one hopped up. "You're one of Ripper's kids."
"Yeah, I am." He smiled. "Have been since Buffy showed up. No matter what she thought about it." He sipped his soda. "So, now that we have relatives, that's cool and all. Why the special invite instead of just letters?"
"You need to have patience," Buckaroo told him. Then he smiled. "There's no other magic beyond protections here."
"You hope," Xander corrected then pointed behind him. "Because something that way glows." He grinned and pulled out his pendant. It was glowing brighter by the moment. Something kicked in the door and Xander moved first, throwing a dagger at it. It shrieked. "Dude, seriously?" he demanded.
"Knight!" it shouted. "We only wanted an autograph." He held up a picture. Xander stared. "It's for my son. He's in his first heat. He's leaking magic. And the witches in the parking lot are doing a love spell." Xander groaned, limping out to go handle the witches. "I'm sorry we alarmed anyone," the demon said.
Buckaroo smiled. "You know about him?"
"Quite a lot. The Knight is a bit uptight these days. Has been since he walked away from his almost-wife because it was going to be a bad thing for her." The picture got signed by everyone. "Thank you, Great Ones." He bowed and hurried off. The Knight was chewing the witches a new one and there was an officer standing by taking notes. He smiled and waved at them. "Love spells are as bad as drugging them."
"Yes they are. Though when I did it, and it got everyone but the one I was getting back at, I didn't take advantage of anyone." Xander stared at them. "You'd better learn, ladies. There's a huge coven just up the road that'd *love* to mentor you ladies into better versions of the craft." They ran for the cop, who gladly brought them in and then called the coven on them. Xander sighed, looking up. "So," he told the sky. "Really? Old Ones? Cute." Someone clapped and Xander looked at him then shrugged. "Not like you're the first I've seen."
"There were two living in Oxnard. They ran the strip club I ended up working in when my car exploded on my post grad roadtrip."
The guy groaned and shook his head. "They're not our kind."
"Thalia and Agripa? Probably not," he agreed with a smile. "They weren't musical at all."
"Listen, it's critical right now with what happened...."
Xander held up a hand, shaking his head. "I was at the battle. I saw them both and felt the remnants twitch when Janus yanked on me a few times. I've had visions about what they're going to do, including the next one in a year in London that'll be coming thanks to Dark Elves." He shrugged. "Which I really do have to tell Darcy about since I saw her and her boss there."
"You're seriously a watcher?"
"Against some of their wills. They consider me *normal*." He grinned. "They're wrong but I'm still doing the training for the girls in Africa so they can stay home."
Tommy shook his head. "That's so weird. We're supposed to be staying out of that stuff."
"I was born in Sunnydale. I carry more radiation from there than anyone ever met. I actually got some radiation sickness when I went on my roadtrip." He smiled. "What did you guys need help with?"
"Bloodline means that we can help you go up some so there's more powers available. The problem is the Powers above you."
"The Powers That Be hate me like I'm the evilist thing ever since I ...fixed some problems of theirs. Things like prophecies that make no sense."
Tommy moaned. He thought only Buckaroo did that stuff. "Really?"
"Yeah. That's why the blonde, perky slayer is still around, the first time." Tommy stared. Xander smiled. "Beyond that, I doubt I'd be much help outside of always having battles around me."
"You may have to retire."
"I don't see anyone stepping in to do my job so that's not possible. But thanks. Tell Darcy I'll write her about that invasion after I go freak out Thor if he's still in New York."
"He's not. They left earlier."
"Great. That means I'd probably have to tell SHIELD. Which sucks. They hate us. I've never had someone have an adult tantrum that way." He shrugged. "I'll figure it out I guess." He grinned. "You have fun and let me know if you need my help."
"You were going to be put under Wisdom."
Xander burst out laughing. "Does that mean it'll counteract a lifetime of hating books, a learning disability, and having to do things the physical way?"
"Yeah. I suck so grandly at book learning it's not funny." He shrugged then smirked a tiny bit. "I made it to graduation though."
Tommy cleared his throat. "Maybe we can find another one."
Xander shrugged. "I don't know. I know I'm the normal guy backup sort."
"We have to do it tonight or it can be another year."
"Or I can go back to the temple I found and ask to be the living avatar that I got offered," he quipped. "Would've freaked out Willow though." Tommy gaped. Xander grinned. "Chaos loves me for some reason." He shrugged and smiled. "It happens." He shifted his stance to relieve some of the pressure on his knee. "And since it's going to counteract my calling I can't do that in good faith. I'm sorry but the girls need me more than you guys do."
"You're the last in your bloodline."
Xander nodded. "Literally since I'm infertile. Which sucks but yeah." He stared at him. He felt magic behind him and looked. "Go inside please," he said, turning serious.
"I can handle it."
"I doubt it since it's one of the Wicca we've seen recently." He pointed. "Inside." Tommy moved to the doorway and called one of the guys. The witch appeared already laughing and Xander took a swing at her with his crutch. She yelped and ducked but he followed the swing with a swing back and then the knife he had stopped to pull out of the doorframe.
"Why can't you die!" she shouted. "If you die the sacrifice is done with and we'll all be happy!"
"I doubt that," he said. "And I'm not dying tonight. Thanks anyway." She lunged at him with a bottle in one hand. Tommy nicely shot the bottle for him. "Thanks. Go inside please?"
"Let me get you some help."
"No need." Xander leaned on his crutch and kicked her back then got her in the stomach. She screamed. "I'm not a sacrifice and I doubt any god *you'd* call on would accept me anyway. Not a virgin, not a blood innocent, and definitely not amused," he finished, staring at her. Cop cars showed up. He pulled out his ID. "This witch, as in black Wicca, wants me to be a sacrifice. They've been doing one a year for the last fifty years to work up to calling a higher spirit."
She climbed up with some help. "She'll still come," she sneered. "You won't avoid all of us. Even if you do die in a car crash you'll still die tonight."
Xander shook his head. "I doubt it. I know when I'll go. It's not tonight." She lunged at him and he punched her. She screamed and burst out crying. He sneered at her. "Let's try that again, shall we?" She pulled something out of her top and threw it at him. He batted it aside. "Don't touch that. That's Jimbara powder. It's toxic to humans." They backed away from it. "Wanna try again? That won't work on me, dear. I did get exposed to mermaids back in high school and I'm not the average young guy."
"Hellmouth babies will be the last step to call HER back!" she shouted. "You'll die in the glory!"
Xander snorted, waving her on. "Come on if you're coming." She got up and stared at him. He stared back. He pulled something out of his pocket, taking off the foil wrapper. "The only one Willow found laying around the house," he quipped, letting the sword grow in his hand. He tapped the point on the ground once it was finished, holding it properly. The crutch got tossed down. "C'mon. You want my blood, come take it, bitch." She pulled a gun and by the time she was pointing it, her neck was against the blade.
"You wanted what?" he asked with a slight sneer. "My blood instead of yours going?" She whimpered. "Drop the gun. Now. Before I cut the hand off too." She dropped it. An officer kicked it away from her. Another one came to cuff her. He stepped back, sword back in front of him with the point resting on the ground. "So, you thought you'd get a Knight?" he asked with a smile. "How very odd you are, dear. I should let Willow know." She swallowed. "You have a great life."
"If I bleed She'll still come," she sneered and tried to chew on her wrist. The officers stopped her. "You can't stop HER."
"Why not? We stopped a few others." She kicked at him but it let the officers bring her to the ground faster. "No, I don't think you're that much of a problem. Beyond that, I heard you did the fasting wrong by having smoothies." He shrugged and walked off.
"Sir, we need a statement and can you shrink that please?" one of the officers demanded.
Xander looked at the sword then shrugged. "I have no idea if it'll go back. Willow did the spell and while she's powerful, she's screwy too." He picked up the condom wrapper to put back around it. Nothing. He tried it in a different spot. Nope. So he called. "How do I reshrink the sword you gave me in the condom wrapper? Because there's a black wicca here who thought I'd make a grand sacrifice to bring back her mean goddess sort, Willow. We just had a chat so the cops can have her." He listened and put the wrapper over that spot. It shrank. "Thanks. No, handled nicely by them." He hung up and shook his head as the sword went back into his pocket. "Sorry it's such a night for this." He looked up then grinned at them. "Moon dark, it figures."
"Who are you?" one of the other officers asked.
Xander grinned. "Xander Harris, field watcher over the slayers in Africa. I'm making sure they get to stay home to protect their people."
"Oh!" He nodded. "That's nice of you, sir."
"I was grieving and now they're nagging like the ones here in the US. They think I'm normal too."
The officer shook his head. "I don't think so. Normal guys don't carry swords, sir."
"I'd hug you but you'd arrest me for that," Xander quipped with a smile. The witch cast something at him and his pendant sucked it in. "Thanks, it needed recharged." He grinned and waved. "Have a great life." She shrieked and struggled but then Willow appeared. Xander looked at the officer. "That's Rosenburg," he said quietly. Now the witch was trying to disappear.
Willow stomped over. "What did you think you were doing trying to sacrifice our Xander?" she demanded with a foot stomp. "How dare you!"
"Yeah, that's your job," Xander quipped.
"Shut up, Xander. You're a man and wouldn't understand anyway!" She glared at the witch, hands on her hips. "Well! I'm not this patient."
"She'll come back," the witch sneered.
"They fasted with smoothies from what I heard, Wills," Xander quipped. "I don't think that's the right way."
"Heck no, it's not." She stared at the witch. "I can call her to see if she can correct your dirty methodology."
"Wouldn't that cause the same problems?" one of the officers demanded.
"Yup," Xander quipped, looking at the officer. He nicely brought the officer with him and motioned the others to get out of the way. Willow was working her way into a hissy fit on the dumb, young one.
Tommy strolled over. "Guys, we've still got innocent fans here. Can you take it somewhere else?" he asked with a smile he used to calm hysterically crying fans when they got clingy. "This one was at our after party when he felt something wrong."
Willow blinked then squealed and hugged him. "You're Perfect Tommy! I love you guys! You're the only guys I still listen to!" She bounced some. "You guys are playing Cleveland soon?"
"Not real soon. I know we're going to Cincinnati soon."
She pouted. "We can travel. I introduced all the slayers to your music and they all adore it too. It can be a slayer field trip." She hugged him and took a picture then bounced over to nag the witch again.
Xander looked at him. "Wow."
"Well, I am Perfect," he said quietly with a smirk. "Can we have him back?"
"We still need a statement."
Then suddenly there was a roar from a female voice. A woman with a lion head and mane showed up. "See, now you can apologize for not only waking her up but for doing it the wrong way!" Willow ordered.
"Oh, goddess," Xander moaned. He looked up. Then at her. "Willow, send her home!" he ordered. "Before it gets someone hurt?" He nodded at the officers. "Please?"
"She'll be fine!" she said with a hand wave at him. "Shut up, man sort."
Xander groaned. He looked at the officer, who was calling that in. "She eats men." The officer added that and got the young witch and their people out of there. Tommy went to tell the others so they could evacuate most everyone. Xander went to his rental car to get into his kit and came out with three things. The lone remaining officer stared at him in horrified awe. "It's going to kick. If I get injured, my knee's twisted," he called.
"And don't do bloodwork on me. Ever. It's a bad idea and might trigger a virus laid into the system if it gets into it." He opened the case and fired on the demon queen, making her scream and burn but not die. He moved to the next one. Willow huffed but tried to banish her and couldn't. Other members of that coven up the road were showing up to help. Xander nodded at one and fired his last thing at the demon queen. She screamed in pain. "Blood." The witches got in his way and banished her. "Can you guys tell Willow why that was a bad thing?"
"It was not! I was proving to the young, dumb one how stupid it was!" Willow said with a foot stomp. "Where did you get that, mister!"
"Um... no comment," he said with a smile. He dove for his car and drove off before Willow could do more than try to flash something at him. He was calling his contacts. "Move me! Please move me! Willow just summoned a demon queen! They're going to throw down with magic!" He was suddenly in New York City. He sighed. "Thanks." He hung up, grabbing his bag that had come with him and his crutches. He hopped off to find a cheap motel. As he hopped he repeated to himself his new mantra of Willow: spanking Willow is not my job, I am not Giles and I thank the Goddess and Janus each and every night for that.
The next morning, Xander came out for breakfast and to make travel plans, running into a guy in a black suit, white shirt, and sunglasses guarding a young woman in a dark blue action suit. He sighed. "I need coffee," he told the agent. "Can you please wait?"
"No," the woman said. "We need to chat, Harris."
"Sure, and while I'm getting coffee we can chat about the visions I've had too." He stared at her. "Because if I don't get coffee I'm going to bite someone. I had to deal with Willow last night."
She arched an eyebrow up. "She was local?"
"We heard something happened but it was covered up."
"Probably made a whole police department go for God too," he quipped. "I need caffeine."
"I have a thermos," she said, handing it over. "Plus an egg and peanut butter sandwich since you're said to like those." She handed that over too. "Let's chat."
"Fine," he muttered, going back into the motel room. He settled in to eat and stare at her. "About?"
"You were at the battle."
"Really?" he asked dryly. "Why would I be at a battle for the world's fate? Not like I don't do that as a job," he said dryly.
"Were the slayers?"
"Yes, and two nearly lost their lives guarding that area."
"Thank you." He nodded and ate another bite. "How much did you guys do?"
"We guarded those two hospitals and kept people from panicking in that residential section plus got people out of buildings so they weren't killed."
She nodded, making that note. "That's handy and I'm sure if your girls had been closer they would've helped more."
"Probably. Willow sent the C team. A and B were both handling the rioting and panicking going on in Cleveland."
She nodded, making that note as well. "I heard something about that but not a lot. Thank you." She put the tablet against her chest, staring at him. "What did Miss Rosenburg do this time?"
"We had a witch wanting me as a final sacrifice to bring back her Goddess. So Willow called up her goddess to instruct the young one about how to properly do her rites."
"Oh, no," the agent sighed, shaking her head. "Handled?"
"Yeah. The local coven showed up. I held it off with some artillery." He smiled and sipped the coffee. "Thank you for breakfast."
"It's safer if you're kept inside right now."
"I've got to make plans to get back to my trainees. Before I have to face down a pouty Buffy about Willow being all bad again."
She nodded. "Might be a sound tactic. It will definitely keep you out of the crossfire when they fight. I heard they were doing that this morning."
"Good! I keep reminding myself that spanking her is Giles' job and I thank Janus and Willow's goddess each night that I'm not Giles."
She let out a tiny smirk. "So do we, Mr. Harris. Visions? That's why I showed up this morning."
"Yeah." He pointed. "Grab my journal. The blue one." She took it out of his bag, letting him flip to the right spot. "That's the first one. That's why we knew to move the girls this way." He let her see it. "I emailed that one."
"I saw that earlier during the clean up." She sat down across him to go over them. She blinked a few times. "Dark Elves? Do we know this woman?"
"The blonde is Jane Foster and I met Darcy Lewis last night at a concert." She slumped, staring at him. He grinned and nodded. "Yup. Notice Thor's going to come back for a booty call."
She reread it and made notes, going forward. "That's bad." She paused. "What's this fire thing?"
"I have no clue," Xander admitted. "It was electronic fire in a needle."
"Okay." She took pictures of those pages, making sure they came out. She made notes as she went through them. "This last one. What is it?"
He looked then at her. "We think it's a godly being but we're not sure. It's taking on a mechanical body. It'll be a full world apocalypse and we'll have to all step in together. Especially since I saw some of your people not wearing patches. Octopus ones but I did not see a single SHIELD agent in the vision." She frowned. He drew out the symbol he saw on the napkin. "It was that patch. It wasn't someone they were working with but yeah, saw it a few times."
"That's....HYDRA," she said. "You didn't see a single SHIELD agent?" He shook his head. "Did you see them attack us?"
"No. I didn't see a single agent in an agent suit, not a single agent in an action suit, not your boss in his special leather coat of no damage. No one had a single SHIELD emblem anywhere. Even Captain America didn't." She scowled but made that note. "I don't know why. But if even the bad guys are panicking about this being, it's yours and ours. I was going to email later this week so it was on record, even though you guys tend to ignore them."
"Many aren't proven that right," she said. "But I know you've only seen battles." Xander nodded. "All right. Any others, let me know personally," she said, writing her email address in the book under the last entry. "Please."
"Granted," he agreed with a grin. "We're not mean to get along with if you guys aren't."
"We are," she said smugly. "We'd rather the girls got to stay home."
"Us too. The demons aren't going to allow it and you guys don't jump into our battles. So it's not a probable outcome."
"No, it's not," she agreed. "We're training people to help your girls with battles. By the way, I looked into the lack of battles in Africa." Xander stared back. "Nice coverup, Harris."
He grinned. "It'd get me nagged greatly. I don't want to see that."
"Me either. You might go win weapons from someone again." She stood up. "Have a pleasant trip back to Africa." She and her under-agent left together. She went right to Avengers tower, right to Stark. "Call a meeting," she ordered, using his system to call Fury. "Sir, the seer at the Council let me see his journal. We have five into the next few years. Including the last one that has a god-like mechanical being trying to take out the world and SHIELD not in existence. He said not even Captain America was wearing a SHIELD emblem. But he saw HYDRA responding."
Fury blinked. "Excuse me?" he demanded. "Which seer?"
"Fuck! I'll be there in twenty. We'll see what he saw." He hung up.
She turned to look at Stark, letting him have her tablet by putting it in front of him. "Go back by two. It's about you and Potts." He took it with a scowl to read. He stiffened, staring at her. "All he said was it was electrical fire in a needle. He did not know what it was."
"Extremis," he muttered. "JARVIS, bring Pepper to the meeting too please. Somehow."
"She'll be here within fifteen minutes, sir. She knows there's an emergency meeting being called immediately."
"Thank you." He looked at the others, pausing. "Wow." He stared at her. "I...."
"If you're working on something that may equate to that, don't," she said quietly.
The others came in and Pepper hurried in with Fury right behind her. "What's going on?" Pepper asked.
"I had to talk to one of the people at the Council this morning," Maria Hill said with a sigh at the end. "One of the senior members who is also a seer." Pepper winced. "A fairly accurate seer, who usually only sees battles." Everyone grimaced at that. Stark put up the different visions on virtual screens. Fury moved closer to the one. "He said he did not see a single SHIELD emblem anywhere, sir, and didn't see you either."
"I'd be there," he said.
"Unless you're dead," Natasha said reasonably. She read them over. "Harris?" Maria nodded. "Is he still in Africa?"
"He was at a concert last night in New Jersey which somehow led to the awakening of a demonic goddess by Miss Rosenburg to correct a younger witch who was doing the rites to raise that goddess wrong," she said. "I brought him breakfast and coffee so we could chat."
Fury looked at her. "Good!" He went over them again. He tapped one. "Stark, are you making another AI?"
"I was thinking about a robotic sentinel thing, something to help us or spare us for the bigger things. Apparently I'm not now though."
"Good!" Fury said, then looked at Potts. "What's the electrical fire in a needle?" She shrugged.
"Has to be extremis," Bruce said quietly. "We've just heard about that." Tony nodded, crossing his arms over his chest. "Which is really dangerous." Pepper grimaced but nodded. "At least we have some warning. They may still try it but we can counter some things."
Stark nodded. "Yes, I am." He pointed at one. "That's going to suck for London."
"He met Darcy Lewis, Jane Foster's assistant, last night at the concert," Maria Hill said. "He identified her as one and Dr. Foster as another. So Thor will be back."
"We need to find a way to tell him that," Natasha said. "That way they're warned as it looks like he'll be losing his mother."
"Ask Foster," Bruce said. "She's working on rebuilding the Rainbow Bridge." He put his hands in his pockets. "Now what?"
"Forewarned is armed and able to plan, even if they change slightly," Steve Rogers said. He looked at Pepper then at Tony. "The one about you two?"
"Oh, it'll be stopped," Tony promised with a growl. "I'm not the sort to play to someone else's tune."
"Good," Fury agreed. "Find out who that Manchurian or whatever is."
"He's Ten Rings," Clint said quietly. "We've run into them before and he's been noted as being a leader but everyone thinks it's weird."
Fury looked at him. "Got a case name or number to back that up?"
"Altina's last case, sir. I got the transcripts of the questioning because it went into my last field case."
"Huh." He looked at it. "Mandarin. Sounds like a stupid name." He looked at his spies. "Romanoff, handle this Mandarin person. Make sure he does not bother anyone."
"I can do so," she said.
"Good. Stark, don't make me confine you," he warned.
"I'm not going to make something to help us that way. I'd hate to have to work with the Council people and their underage warriors."
"Actually, those on patrol status are required to be at least graduated from high school," Maria Hill said. "The old Council didn't care but the new one is very uptight about such matters. Harris is the guy training the girls in Africa how to protect themselves at home."
"Great," Stark agreed. "Can't we take that duty from them? And why were they at our battle?"
"Guarding a residential and hospital area," she said. "We found out there had been a vision emailed up. They had predicted the battle and the only thing that kept them from heading toward that area to take the vulnerable out was the Hulk beating one and killing another. The Council teams took down six different flying skids of warriors trying for the hospitals. Their A and B teams were handling the panicking going on elsewhere."
Fury nodded once. "Makes sense to me. I saw that after the fact too. At least they tried to warn us." He looked at them again. "Hill, make copies. Captain, can I have you look into HYDRA since it looks like they're back?"
"Definitely," he agreed.
"Good. Thank you. Let me know where we're standing and what we find out, people. This is going to suck large."
"Sir, I did let Mr. Harris know I had went looking to see why there hadn't been any battles in Africa." She smiled.
"Hiding from the nagging?" he guessed with a smirk of his own.
"Give me details on those. Just in case. Also on what happened in New Jersey."
Fury's good eye twitched. "Sure. Give me details later, when I can drink them away." He stomped off.
"Okay, so apparently I need new projects," Stark said suddenly, then clapped his hands together. "Pep?"
"I'll help you figure that out, Tony." He grinned at her. "Keep me informed of what I need to know for the PR problems we'll have," she told the others. "Good luck, people, and let me know if I can help." She walked off looking calm.
Steve's head popped up and he blushed a bit, hearing her going off in the elevator. Super hearing did have some advantages.
Stark waved a hand. "Have fun, people, and let me know where I can help. I don't want to destroy humanity. I might have to work with the Council people." They nodded, going to talk about how to handle things. Hill left after them. Stark went into his containment chamber to have a drink and calm down in the quiet, dark area. He had nearly turned into a super villain. He didn't like that about himself.
*** (sent to list to here)
Xander finished setting up the prayer altar and stepped back to make sure it was technically correct. He stepped up and added some blood to the prayer plate then lit the herbs under it on fire. He sighed. "Lord Heimdall, I know you see all, but those of us with visions have seen as well. We have seen horrible things, including the loss of your Matriarch. Look to the dark elves for they return to finish what they started and are not amused. There are those in hiding who will show up as berserkers. That will lead to the loss of the castle and the Matriarch who holds those reins loosely." He blew out the fire and unassembled the altar then returned it to Anya's trunk. It went back into his rental car and he headed back to the main slayer house, against his will but Giles had ordered. He walked in and handed him his vision journal, waiting on him to read them.
"That explains why we got a call from a confused officer who was wondering why you were doing that in the park," Giles said, looking over the rim of his glasses at his young hunter.
Xander shrugged, putting his hands in his pockets. "Not like the girls would leave me alone long enough to set up the prayer altar to Heimdall. He who sees is also over seers as far as I can tell."
"Perhaps. I've never looked into that," Giles admitted, walking the younger man to his office to go over some paperwork he had sent in.
Up on Asgard, a resting Heimdall was awoken by the prayer. He looked down upon the person, looking confused, but the man's Norse was good enough to be understood. The words were clear enough for him to call Odin to him. Thor came with him, escorting his mother properly. "Lord Odin, I have just had a modern seer pray something at me." He bowed to his queen. "That one saw the dark elves coming back and you falling in battle, Frigga."
She arched an eyebrow up. "Interesting. One who sees to another?" Heimdall nodded. She came to look over his shoulder. "Show me?" He did. The boy's vision journal was open so they could look over all of them. Thor moaned at one, shaking his head. "I see," she said when they got to hers. She looked at her husband then her son. "It is nice that he said that Loki would help avenge me." She patted Thor's arm. He was tensed up. "We will ask our seers if we have seen thus and handle it as it comes, my son.
"Be aware that I will be watching over your intended. My daughter-in-law must get to know me." Odin scowled at her. She stared back. "I appreciate him liking one who has uses other than bearing future warriors." She walked off thinking hard about that prophecy. The seers were in a wing of the healer's building. She bowed as she walked past the healers, getting bowed back to. She knocked then walked into the seer's receiving area. "Good evening." They all smiled at her. "What do we know of a young human seer with one eye?"
"He was called the One Who Sees Too Much," one said.
"He used to date Anyanka," another said. "He braved her ire by doing what was best for them both and not marrying her."
Frigga raised an eyebrow. "Bravely stupid. What else do we know of him? Is he accurate?"
"He is afflicted with true sight of battles," one of the oldest said, staring at her with his empty, sealed eye sockets. "His gifts are not all hidden but were awakened with his blood being spilled by an enemy."
"His is often correct?" she asked. That one nodded once, looking serene. "So him seeing the dark elves coming back?"
"As some of us have seen, my Queen," that seer said quietly. "We will miss you much if you cannot defeat them. That one is not set in stone yet. It is mutable."
She nodded. "Thank thee." She patted him on the hands. "I wish you better sights." She left to tell her husband that. He was waiting on her. He didn't go to see the seers. They tended to see horrific battles when he did. Thor stayed respectful of them for the same reason. She nodded once. Odin's face tightened and he sucked in a breath then let it out. "I simply must train more, my husband. Let us spar."
"Yes, wife, we will make sure you are the equal of any of those elves." He walked her off.
Thor went down to talk to his brother. "There was a prophecy given."
Loki looked at him. "Why should I hear such?" he asked. "I am still here, Thor."
"The dark elves come during the convergence. You did not know why they came but they went up at your direction to our mother's suite and killed her." Thor stared at him. Loki's eyes were colder now. "You did not know. It stated you were the reason she was avenged." Loki tipped his head at that. "Let us know if you should see such, Brother. Mother is preparing herself to battle them but none of us want such to happen."
"I would never hurt her," Loki said quietly.
"I know. Which is why I came to tell you of such. Do you know of many seers not up here?"
"I have heard of some on Midgard. Why?"
"The seer that had it was from there. He prayed to Heimdall as one who sees to another."
Loki smirked a cold smirk. "That one is very much acquainted with my type. Others who do chaos have long worked around him, both with and without his consent. No one else could be exposed to mermaid taint and live as a human."
Thor nodded. "He sounds interesting. What do you know of him?"
"Not much. Everyone seems to not see him as he is, just as their friend who happens to help somehow."
"Thank thee. Could he fight like one of our warriors?"
"You'd have to ask him how well he fought. He fights with the Chosen Valkyries of Midgard, Thor."
Thor smiled. "That is a hard job but it takes a strong warrior to do so. Thank thee, Brother. Rest well. We are handling it." He left, going to his suite to think. It had a positive that he'd be seeing Jane Foster again soon but losing his mother wasn't worth that price.
Xander looked up from cooking over the fire pit of his present camping spot, nodding at the man standing there. "Aren't you supposed to be somewhere more civilized?" he asked blandly.
"Probably," the mage said, sitting across from him. "You threw a spanner in the works, lad."
Xander grinned. "I'm not a boy, Ethan. Not anymore. And you're welcome. Did you want the elves to destroy parts of your old college?"
"Frankly I wouldn't care about that," he said dryly.
Xander shrugged, poking the fire logs. "What else is new beyond that I'm somehow a chaos source of inspiration?"
"Well, yes, you are," he said with an evil smirk. "Also, I have heard rumors that you denied your bloodline?"
Xander snorted. "They had a few good things going but they were against what I'm called to do." He stared at him. "That and they expected me to be in Wisdom."
Ethan shook his head. "That is not your strong suit." Xander smirked at him. "Now what? That could have helped you muchly."
"Or I could go to a few places and swear my allegiance and become a living avatar," he said blandly. "There's about nine of them I have a chance of making it in." Ethan gaped. Xander stared back. "Which, again, would go against the things I do daily."
"One of the higher beings thought you turned Anya down because you were scared of what you became."
"No, I'd make sure that never happened." He sighed. "I'm not afraid of being a construction worker for life, Ethan, and I knew then that something was seriously stupid in that. I was still living in Sunnydale and out of shape for patrol? I had kids I let live in Sunnydale?" Ethan gaped. "It was better for her if I didn't leave her behind because I fell during a battle. If I didn't leave her and my kids behind if and when I fall in a battle." Ethan slowly swallowed. "That and doing this isn't exactly soul defining. It's pretty wearing. I couldn't imagine Anya handling the end of all the old stuff and us moving that way easily. She would've had to have given up most of her stuff.
"I'd still probably be out and around training the slayers. Thinking back, she would've hated this life too. She hated that I helped Buffy and the group but she couldn't have stopped me because that would've meant we both died. She wanted kids and had no patience or compassion for them. Beyond that, I knew it was false when it showed we had kids. I'm infertile and have been since I was born." He shrugged. "It did make me pause to think about things I had been ignoring. Which I'm sure she figured out a lot of. We were back to friends when she died. I know it would've led her to cheat and I'm not going to put up with that."
"Yet you did."
"I barely kissed, nothing more. And I learned my lesson when Spike hurt Cordelia."
Ethan nodded once. "All right. Now what? You're about to have to prove yourself."
"I noticed you were a projection sent by something higher Ethan. There's a reason that they call me the One Who Sees Too Much." He grinned. "I'm going to have a good dinner then get up to beat the shit out of that problem. Isn't that the way the script usually goes?"
"They don't read the same books, boy."
"Neither do I. I read comic books and everyone has a tragic issue." He shrugged. "So what else is new?" He tasted his stew and settled in to eat. "I'd offer but astral projections don't eat, even when sent by higher powers."
Ethan looked smug. "You think you have it figured out?"
"No. But I think someone's screwy somewhere and I do see things like that too." He ate another bite. Ethan stared. Xander smiled before eating a third bite. Ethan disappeared. Xander finished his dinner and cleaned up his campsite then pulled something out to check it. The last little bit of the carvings were cleaned up before the higher being showed up. Xander sighed and cut himself on the blade then stood up, tapping the tip on the ground. The sword glowed. The being smirked and lunged. Xander avoided it and fought it back until it tripped into the fire. Xander sighed, throwing something onto it since it was screaming. The little bundle he had gotten off a native witch made the demon higher go up in a huge plume of blue flames. Xander settled in to clean up the blade again and then went to nap in his truck after driving off by a few miles.
He looked up once he found a new camping spot. "Thanks, Powers. I needed to prove that to myself."
Willow frowned at the new video that popped into her inbox. The demon network people she had...blackmailed via magic had produced a lot of stuff on what Xander was doing. She was worried about him being alone over there. No one to talk to. No way to talk to his trainees. All alone and without anyone to remind him to eat a real meal now and then. She watched the soundless video with him joking with some of the natives around one of the slayers. She frowned.
"They speak English over there? Huh. That's handy." She kept watching the video. At least he looked happy and when something larger attacked he did handle it then brought the girl over to show her how and why it had worked. So that was handy, even if he shouldn't be fighting anything. She took her laptop down to where Giles, Buffy, and Andrew were having a meeting, putting it in front of Giles to show him. "I was worried he was having to pantomime things but apparently they speak English too."
Giles gave her a long look then shook his head. "Yes, some countries do have a smattering after the dirty colonial periods but Xander has learned a few native languages, Willow."
"He can't speak regular english," she protested.
"Neither do you or Buffy," Giles said dryly. Andrew giggled. "Though it is good Sama is doing so well." He turned off the video. "However you got that, thank them for me. Xander has been filing field reports but nothing on anything major they've seen."
"Maybe they're not seeing anything," Buffy said.
Andrew stared at her. "Africa is a continent bigger than the US and Canada combined. Do you really think they have nothing going on down there?" he asked. She scowled at him. He sighed and pulled out his phone to get onto a site. "It's a demon site that tracks the slayers and all of us." He let Giles see the file on Xander and Sama. "A few of the girls have had problems and not told anyone. It's why I've been calling Destiny randomly and cheering her up. She just had a horrible break-up and needed a comfy shoulder." He leaned on his counter while Giles read it over.
Giles looked at him. "How reliable?"
"I'd assume some of the ones down there were paying attention." He smiled. "Sama's not going to be bad. She's a bit girly girl but she's happy with doing her duty because it means her family's protected. Her father got killed a few years ago. It means people leave her mother alone too. Her mother was hoping to remarry soon but Sama's told her that any man who came into the house has to be a *good* man and she'd never let her mother go to the ones that keep trying to bother her. She's very opinionated but right. They need to be good men.
"She pointed out she had a younger sister and brother that had to become good people and leeches like have been hitting on her aren't going to help them be good people. The priest in the village agreed too." Giles smiled, handing the phone back. "He's been busy but not too busy. He stays to train for a while then goes to check on the others, doing a rotation as they each find their own strengths within the gifts. Then he shows up every two months or so to go over new things as they grow up. A six-year-old can't really use a sword but the older girls are getting those skills first."
"That's sensible and since he's the only one it's reasonable he's traveling between them. Thank you, Andrew. We did worry about what that boy was getting up to down there."
"Mostly he's a bit tired right now. Too much traveling and he doesn't have the time to take a day off now and then because it could mean one of the girls gets attacked. Thankfully he got most of them to more safe areas. One girl had been in lower Sudan." Giles grimaced. "One had been in Nairobi too. He got them both moved to somewhere safer, even helped the families move from what I heard."
Buffy considered it. "He could probably use some help."
"Yeah but you can't send any of the slayers down there, Buffy. They'd die in the heat and the dirt," Andrew said dryly. "I'm sure he'd like it after he made sure it wasn't one of the snotty ones." He grinned. "Because I'm about to smack a few around too."
She nodded. "I've tried, Andrew."
"I can try, right?" he asked Giles, who sighed but nodded. "Thanks." He looked at Willow. "Why are you back from that coven already?"
"They were mean," she said, scowling at him. "Stay out of it."
"If I had summoned that goddess, I'd be dead," he said bluntly. She huffed off. He looked at Buffy. "By the way, the local community is making *grand* plans for her witch burning."
She winced. "Ow." She went to talk to Willow about her magical mistakes. Someone had to and the last time Giles tried someone had to turn him back from a mouse. Then the coven had talked to Willow for a few hours until she cried and stomped off. Clearly, not strong enough to stop her. Nicely, Buffy even interrupted Willow's spell to 'help' Xander. Thankfully.
Xander looked over from his current relaxation day at a demon mafia-run pool and spa, staring at the half-formed 'guardian spirit' that was floating next to him like a blob of butter. Then he looked at one of the demons in there. "Anyone want Willow's nagging helper?" he called quietly. "Before I have to talk to her about it?" One laughed but came over to capture it and walked off nibbling on the spell energy. In Cleveland, Willow screamed and held her head as the spell was ripped from her. Xander sipped his drink and relaxed again. He was mostly safe here and he really did need the day off.
Xander jogged into a temple, staring up at the living statue. "Sorry. Getting away from a witch on the rag."
The demon god/king sighed. "I am not over that one."
"Any idea who is?"
"The one she prays to?"
"She doesn't really listen to Hecate when she prays to her."
"She should stop her for that."
"Where's her temple?"
"I don't believe anyone has one these days."
"Then how do you expect her to be fixed?" Xander asked.
"There are ways."
"Yes, but if I go stomp on her for that, she's going to die for it this time." He pointed at the spell waiting. He stepped closer to the doorway and it lit up. "I do believe you're over the unnatural elements in this area."
The demon king came down to check the curse that was attempting to get the mouthy human. He frowned. "What witch is that?" he demanded.
The demon king looked at him. "You're that one."
"I am the one-eyed seer. She thinks I'm helpless and lonely." He stared at the demon king. "I heard she decided I'd never be able to communicate with anyone so I must be horrible at pantoming every bit of the training for the local slayers. Someone showed her a video of me training one of the girls and she decided it was good all of Africa spoke English." The demon burst out laughing while patting him on the head. "Is that curse for anything in particular?"
"It's to make you pregnant so you're not alone and she has an heir."
Xander sighed, looking up. Then at the demon king. "Can one of you go talk to her? Please?"
"For a fee, mortal," he said with a smirk.
Xander smirked back and pulled something out of his bag to hold up. The demon king laughed until Xander set it off and it burned the demon's physical form into atomic bits. "What fee did you want beyond being liberated?"
The demon's shade moaned. "You're mean."
Xander smiled. "I learned from Rosenburg!"
"Clearly. I will intervene since she is bothering my temple. You will leave my temple."
"Sure. As soon as the curse goes. Or else I'm going to have to stay here for the *whole* pregnancy." The demon shuddered and faded out to talk to that witch. Xander went to look at the altar, looting a few books and one demon part that was sealed up. Then he left once the curse was gone. Without that demon part, no matter how many souls he consumed he couldn't get a new corporeal form. He drove off calling a warning in to Dawn. "I sicced the demon king's shade on her for trying to make me pregnant." He hung up and turned on his satellite radio to a pop station. Two problems solved with one witch's stoning.
Dawn hung up and looked out at the screaming that was starting. "She tried to curse Xander into a male pregnancy so she'd have someone to spoil," she yelled.
"Oh, God, no," Giles moaned.
Andrew looked up. "If I ask, can whichever of you that's a chaos god bring her home to teach her common sense?" he called. "Please? I'll vow to do your will for a year if you teach her sense!"
Giles' phone rang with a text message. He scowled at Andrew before looking at it. "One of the Coven was scrying and she said if you should, she'll be burning you in your own oven."
"Not likely and they should start with that one!" He pointed out toward the front room. "Before I do. I don't want to be pregnant. People would start to think I was like that one guy and turning over from being a girl. Which I'm not!" He stomped off, going out there. "Hey!" he shouted over the screaming. "Stop it! She brought it on herself by casting curses at Xander to make him pregnant!"
"Ewww!" most of the slayers shouted.
Buffy sighed. "I knew Xander was tired of the protection stuff."
"That's not protecting him. He's somewhere they'd put him to death for being weird," Andrew said. "The same as they nearly did when she turned him into the puppy the last time." She winced and nodded, walking off sighing. "Ladies, let the demon king teach her some sense before we ask Illyria to do it for us." He pointed. They gladly left her alone. Andrew looked at Willow. "Not even Warren was as wacky as you've become. And he was fully mentally broken." He walked off, closing the door so he didn't have to hear if she screamed due to the torture.
Giles went in there to straighten this out and make sure she didn't do more than learn her lesson. One of the coven showed up to help defend her but the demon told her what she had done that day so it turned into a nagging of the witch for not mentoring her better and then yelling at the younger witch for having no sense.
Xander ended up inside another temple a few days later, shaking his head as the curse hit the shields on the temple.
"We do not like your kind here," the female demon queen sneered. "Especially with how you paid back that one that helped you."
Xander looked at her. "Then he shouldn't have tried to sleep with one of the slayers, huh?" He pointed. "She's praying to you."
She huffed but checked and groaned. "We need to do something to that one. Something permanent."
"Hey, bring back Tara without having to bring back the First Evil," Xander quipped. He grinned. "Before she curses me to more powers or something. I don't know why she wanted my fish taint to come back out....."
"It'd probably kill you since we're nowhere near the ocean," the demon queen said.
"We're within a hundred miles. I can swim in lakes and rivers." She groaned, shaking her head. "Sorry, but still makes no sense."
"Clearly neither do you. Mermaids are sea creatures, boy."
"Then explain the one I found by Victoria Falls," he complained. She stared at him so he pulled up a video of it to show her. She groaned and shook her head. "Yeah. So not all of us are. So I could go take over a lake. Then again, we detoxed most of it so I doubt I'd turn too far. Probably just far enough to get me killed."
"Probably," she said happily.
He stared at her. "Then you'd have to deal with one of the older watchers coming down to train this continent's slayers." He looked out there, frowning. "Why is there snow?"
She got up to look and groaned. "Oh, Gods Below!"
Xander called home. "Giles, why is Willow or someone making it snow in Africa?" he asked. "Yes, near the equator. I'm just below it, about the ten degree line actually and it's starting to have a blizzard. I'm pretty sure there's a witch somewhere and since the one up there that we will not mention the name of so she can't find me to come curse me with the fish curse in person is the only one I'd know who'd do that...." He listened. "Ah. So her curse to bring out the fish taint...." He grinned at the demon queen. "She's drunk."
"Clearly. The snow?"
"A very young witch who hates the heat." He sighed, rubbing over his forehead. "Tell me where and I'll travel there. Well, the jeep is open but I did pack a jacket at least, Giles. I'm prepared for very cold desert nights so I'll be okay enough until I can find her. Just...tell me where and please stop the drunken redhead with her fish thing?" He hung up. A few minutes later he got coordinates from Andrew. He sent back a 'thank you' as he looked that area up. "About fifty miles away. Great." He looked up then jogged out to his jeep to put on more clothes so he could go find that mini witch and instruct her so she wouldn't turn into Willow.
The demon queen groaned but went back to her throne after starting a fire in her fireplace.
Xander put up the video conferencing software and started it, pointing at the man there in the office then at the kid. "She really wants to talk to Giles about why she decided Africa needed a snow storm to freeze all the bad people who were bothering her village." The old watcher scowled at him. "She's looking up to Willow thanks to some news stories."
"That's a bad sign of her turning toward chaos magic," that watcher said with a grimace.
"Let me call him from nagging Andrew." He dialed the kitchen. "Rupert, your lost chick is calling about the witch that created snow in Africa who seems to look up to your one that you need to lose." He hung up. "Give him a minute, Harris. Has no one gotten any reports from you recently?"
"I send those to the main email. Who checks those?" he asked dryly, smirking some.
"I'll beat the redhead myself," he sighed.
"Please do. She tried to pull up the fish taint the other night."
The old watcher shook his head. "Charming of her." He got out of the way.
Giles sat down. "I see you've found her?"
"She looks up to Willow and did what she'd do to stop the bad men who were attacking her village," Xander said. "We need to instruct her as to having sense with her skills before she does the same sort of bad spells for a bad reason."
Giles nodded. "Yes, we should. We can instruct her in the basics and send her the books so she can find balance in her gifts."
Xander nodded. "Might help. Do we have anyone down this way that could help her?"
"One in Ghana I believe. We used to have one in Madagascar but it's been years since anyone's heard from her. I'll check on that later." Xander translated that for him. The young one said something back so Xander translated that. They had a good, long chat about her gifts and reasonable uses of it. Including defending her village. He taught her how to grow nibbling trees that would eat people like that instead. It was safer and wouldn't hurt anyone else like the snow had.
Xander looked up from eating at his campfire as he appeared somewhere else. Fire and all. Plus his jeep and the rest of his camp. He looked at his tent then sighed and packed it since people were staring at him. He shrugged. "I was in the DRC a minute ago," he said when a cop stomped his way. "I have no idea why I'm here instead."
"Who are you?" the officer demanded. "Put that fire out!"
Xander looked at him. "I'm Council, I was just in Africa until I got summoned here; give me a second to pack the tent and gun I have out that's more dangerous? Please?" He packed that away and used the bucket of dirt he had dug from the firepit to put it out. Then he packed the jeep and found his phone. "Okay, so I'm somewhere that we're speaking American English," he said in greeting, sounding sarcastic. "Why?" He blinked at the officer. "Okay, the slayers are having a battle in a few hours and we need help. Where am I needed?" He looked around. "Somewhere. I don't see any signs. Where am I?"
"I'm in Brooklyn, Giles. Where do I need to be?" He wrote down the address. "I can probably find that within an hour hopefully. Thanks." He hung up and held up the address. "How do I get there?"
"That way," he said with a point. "What battle?"
Xander shrugged. "This is the first I've heard of it. Three hours, some sort of park, something summoned, huge issue that'll take a weapon that the girls don't know how to use. That's all Giles said." He pointed. "That way? Bridge?" He nodded, calling that in. "Okay. Is it easily found?"
"No. The local slayer house is in an alley. Go .... take this road that way, across the bridge, and be in the right lane, then go left a block after the bridge and you're on the right street." He called that in and Xander smiled and nodded, jumping into his jeep to drive off. The higher ups in the police department and the city needed to know the Council was going to have *something* happen again. That way they knew what to complain about and when to hide.
Xander finally found the house and parked, walking over to knock on the door. Not a slayer since a guy answered it. "Aren't the slayers here?"
"You a boyfriend?" the guy sneered.
"No, I'm a Xander and I'm their tactician and weapons guy. I got yanked from Africa to come help with something?" The guy let him in. "Thanks. Are you a boyfriend?"
"Yeah, husband." He shook his hand. "I'm Sarabeth's husband."
"Cool." They walked into the meeting room. "Okay, give me facts." The girls stared. "Giles called me back to help you ladies."
"We need you to fire off the weapon," one of the girls said. She handed over the files they had.
Xander smirked. "I took out his sister two weeks ago. Are you taking down the summoning circle and arch too?" She groaned, leaning on the table. He grinned at them. "So just the demon? Sure, I have a few things that'll do that." He went to get it out of the jeep, unhooking the guy who was trying to tow it. He put his Cleveland parking sticker back on the rearview mirror, making the towtruck driver shudder and back off, shaking his head.
"We've got a battle in a few hours, dude. I just got summoned from Africa for it." The guy nodded and ran off, calling that in. Xander carried in the three cases and came back to get the rest of his stuff. "In case I nearly get towed again," he quipped as he put it into a corner. He checked the three cases he might need. "I can do that. How soon?"
"About an hour."
"Do you know how to get there since I don't?" Xander asked. They nodded. "Cool. Let's go set up early so we can scare the normals off." They took the cases for him since he was just a *man* and they were slayers. Xander looked at the other two guys in the house, who both shrugged. "I get that same sort of 'you're a guy' thing from Buffy and Willow. That's why Willow tried to knock me up last month."
They shuddered but followed. The park wasn't that far away. The ladies rushed in to drive off the picnicking people. Xander whistled. "People, I'm with the Council and we're having something here within an hour!" he shouted. "Do you really want to help us beat things?" The people who had sneered at the hyper slayers got up and packed in a reasonably fast time before hurrying off. They even took their litter. "Thank you." He grinned at the staring slayers. "No one wants to *help* during them. It works."
"We're supposed to be quiet about things," Sarabeth complained.
"And yet, there's huge amounts of press attention on you ladies thanks to the battle in LA. I had a mini witch in Africa who *really* looks up to Willow create a blizzard to take out the bad guys trying to invade her village. They don't even have the internet so she didn't get to see all the sites to you girls."
"Since when?" one of the other guys demanded.
"Since LA," Xander said. He pulled them up on his phone. "That's how I keep track of my girls. I showed Andrew one of them." The girls gathered to look at those, then one called Giles to rant about that and them supposedly having to lay low. Xander grinned. "Remember, that makes you a role model so there's no going out for anything but club hunting looking like a ho. They note when Buffy does and wonder why she's wearing booty skirts to go talk to principals."
"Yeah, we can do that," one said. She looked at her husband, who grinned and kissed her. "Thank you for not being too freaked out."
"Welcome." He looked at Xander. "Do you have one?"
"I have two pages on the various sites but they mostly just wonder how I did something." He grinned. "It helps." They nodded. "I found my last date that way." He walked the cases over to where he'd probably be at the best angle. "Okay, we're sure it's here?" They nodded, pointing at the circle. "Why can't we interrupt that?"
"We have no idea you can do that," Sarabeth said.
Xander walked over to look then he nodded. "We can do a few things to interrupt. Including setting it on fire with some gas poured over the lines. Or we can just be mean and find a shovel...." He got his camp shovel and dug up the circle. Someone started to scream and rushed at them but it was a park worker. The girls told him why. Then the sorcerer showed up crying that they had ruined all her work so she'd have to use blood to call it. Xander hit her with the shovel, knocking her out.
"No, I don't think you do," he said, staring at her while leaning on the shovel. "We want your shit less than we do Willow's when she's in a bad girl mood." He dug up the rest of the circle and the archway being held up by magic dissolved. "There." He smiled at the staring girls. "That's done with, right? No sensing anything?" They shook their heads. "Sometimes the most practical solution is the right one. You can't dig up all of them to interrupt them but there's some incredibly practical ways of canceling out summoning circles. Including cutting lines and burning them with gas or even a potion in a few cases.
"That one could've been taken out by a potion but it would've poisoned the nearby trees. They never gave you that book in training?" They shook their heads. "Wow. We need to get Giles to copy that and a few others to make sure the slayers all get those." He leaned on the shovel again. "Did you get the Brandurst book? The Ballinger books? The reference work on witches to stop one in the middle of something with a taser?" They all shook their heads. "Someone needs kicked."
He called. "It's me. We canceled it. Yes, that worked well, Giles, but the girls here didn't know they could do that. They haven't seen a lot of the books we read over your shoulder to figure out stuff. Brandurst might've helped today. Ballinger? Tolbert's book on witch ending? Klie's book on witch ending? The green book in Troll that's on mystical weapons?" He listened to him wonder about that one. "The lime green one, Giles. I read it back in tenth grade. Giles, Troll is a fairly known language among the gaming people. Andrew can probably read it too. Plus the two in Elvish. I'm not that fluent in that one."
He smiled at the ladies. "He said he'll have copies made for you guys so you can learn from them. "Yeah, might help. No, I dug it up. The archway dissolved. She's awake enough to start crying again about her plastic surgery nose." He looked at the witch. "Keep complaining that you paid five grand for the nose, sweetheart. I can make you spend another twenty to fix the rest of your face." She went limp and gave the officers a begging look. Xander looked at the same officer.
"I didn't learn to put up with whining from witches unless it was Willow." He listened. "Exactly. No, she summoned me campfire, jeep, tent, and everything. Which is nice, it means I didn't lose anything this time. Yeah, I said the jeep. No, I've got tags from Africa, Giles. Thanks." He hung up and looked up, shaking his head. "Giles will find some way to get me back there, hopefully with my jeep."
The girls smiled. "It could be worse. It could be Willow."
"Willow summoned a hell goddess a few months back so the goddess could instruct her worshipper who had done her summoning incorrectly," Xander said. They all groaned. "So not the wackiest she's done." He put his shovel back into a case and carried them off. "Plant a tree, it's always good for the earth," he told an officer. "The summoning is dead so it won't hurt anything."
"Thanks," one said. "Are you like the Lone Ranger? Leaving a silver bullet?"
Xander looked at his gun on his ankle. "I only have three left but I can make more." The officer glared. He grinned back. "I'm the trainer for the slayers in Africa. I hunted with Buffy in Sunnydale." The officer groaned, walking the witch off. "So...." He clapped his hand. "I need a cheeseburger badly if Willow hasn't screwed with my bank account again. Can we stop and get one on the way back?" The girls all nodded, taking him to a good local place to get one. Willow had bothered it but he had enough for a burger.
She put it back when he complained and threatened her with the FBI for embezzlement. Plus put the stuff she had hacked into his trust fund account. She also emailed him notice of how he was getting back to Africa. He had to correct the place, the fact he had heavier weapons, and that she had brought the jeep too. She sighed and said they'd reverse it later. So he got to go back to Brooklyn to make it easier on the witches. It took a few hours of sitting in the middle of the street but that was okay. He got a pizza too. He landed next to his former campsite and it was better.
Xander was in a hotel when the call for the meeting came through. Which is what he had planned. "It's me. I'm here," he reported into his headset. The others joined in thanks to Willow and another person, joining all the training watchers around the globe. Not that many of us. Xander mentally counted. "Are we missing two?"
"Killed in action I'm afraid," Giles said from behind his desk. He looked up. "Xander has brought up a point. We have books that the slayers should have learned and have not been exposed to, even here in the house."
"Then how is he training his?" one of them demanded.
"I made notes. When you're sixteen and learning new things, you take notes." He held up his binder. "That's the second edition including notes on things we've handled down here that aren't in the books. Including the few vampire species we have."
"Africa was never studied very well," Giles admitted. "We didn't fit in very well even during the colonial era." Xander nodded. "Can you send me a copy of those, Xander?"
"Of course. It's in your email. Willow wanted to know what I was teaching that they weren't about a week ago." Giles looked to his left and had some papers a few minutes later. "That's awfully thin."
"They're adding more paper," Giles said, flipping through them. "You did make notes about nearly everything."
Xander nodded. "The girls were amused about Moloch and wondered if that's why the watchers hate computers. By the way, we weren't the first to do that. There's two online and hints that ours is still in bits and pieces here and there." Giles stared at him oddly. "Someone found that name on Match.com."
Giles groaned, shaking his head. "I'm assuming that's a dating site?" Xander and a few others nodded.
Willow leaned into view. "It is?"
"It was. Sonia was dealing with one so I had her point her problem demon on the internet toward it. It's why that site went down for a day. They called it a denial of service attack." She shook her head as she got out of camera view. "Sonia's internet demon is still around because she can't figure out how to fix it. There's no way she can trick it into doing an exorcism on itself. The other's on the Indian servers somewhere. It likes gold and pretty girls."
Giles made notes, shaking his head as he got the rest of Xander's notes. He went back to it, letting the others see and discuss if the girls needed it. Xander sipped his tea and let them ask him stuff. He pointed out a few things had come in very handy, including how to unsummon things.
"If we teach the girls all these things they'll think they don't need us," one of the other watchers complained.
"What are they going to do if you're taken out by someone?" Xander asked. "Or you're not near where they are when they need to hunt something."
"Someone?" he asked coldly.
"In your area, you're more likely to be taken out by a someone than a something," Xander said. "Rebels, drug lords, assholes who are drunk.... You know, the same ones that took out the guy before you?" He shifted. "Beyond that, we're not with every single slayer during all their hunts. I've got nine underneath me in training and I'm doing great if I see them every two months. They need to be able to handle stuff when I'm not there and I always rush back to handle bigger things with them. But I'm still only one guy and I can't be everywhere at once. They have to be able to handle some major things without me. Down here, that would include some things that are usually more powerful. There's been no slayer hunting in Africa for generations because you guys pulled them out to Europe and the colonies in the Americas."
"Asia has the same problems but the locals developed ways of taking care of some of them," the watcher over that region said.
"We have some of that but we also have some smaller cult religions that've been wound into Christianity thanks to missionaries. I've run into three different temples recently, including having to take refuge in two to get away from Willow's wacky ideas."
"Hey!" was complained off camera.
"I'm not the one that tried to make me pregnant," Xander shot back.
"Sorry, I was a bit tipsy."
"AA," Xander shot back.
"Enough, children," Giles complained. "Yes, Xander, she has quit drinking again as we noted she was doing about the same as when she did that will spell."
"No, I haven't ended up drawing demons even more than usual and having to run and hide from *them*," he said dryly. "Have you ended up blind?"
"No," he admitted. "But enough of that. On to the things the girls need to know." He went back to the notes and the watchers arguing about the girls 'needing' and them 'wanting' them to know. Xander motioned his present slayer over, she was having a meal in the corner of the room shaking her head over the whole thing. "Oh, Ayo, correct?"
"Yes, Mr. Giles," she said in her native language and Xander translated while pulling up an online speech to text translator. He handed her the headset and went to get a drink while they asked her things. Maybe they'd listen to her where they wouldn't listen to him. By the end of ten minutes she was snapping at a few of them. He looked back and said something quietly, making her repeat that to them. That shut the group whining up and Giles was amused. Willow was pouting but yay.
Someone knocked on the door. Xander walked over to answer it. "Problems?" he asked the officer.
"You are a Watcher?" he asked in fairly broken English.
Xander smiled and nodded, answering in the local language. "I am. I'm Watcher Xander Harris. I came from the Sunnydale team and I'm the watcher over Africa's slayers. Is there a problem I need to handle for you?"
The officer nodded. "Very large, just nearby."
"Ayo, we've got an issue. We'll call them back."
She waved and signed off, packing their things up with the dinner to go on the way. They followed the officer out to the problem's area, finding the military there waiting. Xander stared, blinking. "I thought we'd never see another in my lifetime," he said quietly and calmly. He looked at her. Then he took a picture and sent it to Giles to explain what was so important. He looked at the stomping, glaring military guy with the medals. "It's called an Ascension. It's a human that turned into a demon, that's what's called a pure demon," he said. "It can only happen during an eclipse." The military guy nodded once, looking confused. "We have to blow the head off. Somehow. The only one in known recent history we had to blow them up in a building to do that. Otherwise, we need to blow off the head." The demon was watching them talk, looking very amused at them.
"Artillery?" Ayo suggested.
"Nothing I have will do that," Xander said, looking at what they had. The military guy was calling out for higher weapons and maybe air support. Xander nodded. "Maybe. Okay, people in the way? It does eat people."
"We cleared," the military guy said.
"Good!" Xander looked then sighed. "I thought we'd only have one in our life. My graduation with Buffy was that bad."
Ayo looked at him. "That's what was at graduation?" she demanded with a point.
Xander nodded. "Yeah. And like this one, he did the largest version. This one might be a bit bigger than that one. Ours was like ninety feet." She shuddered. "That's why we blew up a school with it in it."
The military guy nodded once. "If we had one...." He turned to start yelling orders. He looked at the team. "You two?"
"We're baiting it," Xander said. He looked at her. "You, sit and guard the jeep." She nodded, sitting in it. "She's only sixteen," he told the military guy, heading out there. "How long?"
"Twenty minutes," he called. "Air support."
"Okay." Xander cut his arm and waved it. "You couldn't even do as good as Wilkins," he called. "He at least had a whole hellmouth for his needs." The demon lunged at him with a laugh. Xander dodged out of the way, smirking. "So pathetic. I mean, even the slayer's decided you're so pathetic she doesn't need to come out here." The demon went toward her so she fired one of the weapons off at him. He grumbled but went back after Xander. Xander played dodge-snout with him until the plane got there then ran while the jet targeted the head.
He got blown off his feet with the blast but he'd be okay. "Not even a nibble," he sighed, flipping onto his back to pant and catch his breath. "Damn." One of the military guys helped him up. "Thanks." They handed him water, letting him gulp it on the way back to the jeep. He pulled out his laptop to get onto the right page. He showed the military leaders the page on that problem. He had a good translating program on the laptop so he did that. The military leader guy nodded as he read. "So...." He pointed. "Took ninety years in that form."
"We'll be aware on any eclipse. It was four days earlier."
Xander looked at him. "I'd hate to be the guy who has to cut into his stomach to count the remains he's digesting."
"Me too," he agreed, smiling some. "Glad I'm not that low in the military too."
Xander nodded. "Me too. Giles doesn't pay me or her enough for that." He looked at her. "What did you learn from that?"
"You're sounding like Buffy again," he joked with a grin. "Do a report for Giles." She waved his phone and went back to it. She had taken video and was typing in a short report to go with it. She sent it and let the military guy take it to copy down the film. They hadn't filmed it. They handed the phone back and tracked the demon snake's path back. A few of them got ordered to open the stomach area. They complained but let the watcher/slayer team go back to the hotel to rest. He deserved it for that bit of exercise.
Giles looked at the film, sharing it with the watcher meeting. "Ayo's only sixteen and they didn't have big enough weapons according to her report. He made her stay in the jeep while they got air support." They watched the film together.
Buffy and Willow both watched from the corner. "I'm *so* going to yell at Xander," Buffy complained. "How dare he risk himself that way!"
"Him or the sixteen-year-old trainee slayer," Giles said.
"Him," Willow sighed. "Unfortunately. We need to get him some help. He can't do that. Playing ...snout-soccer isn't a good way to fight that!"
"Whole lot better than running all the way through the school with one chasing you. At least he had open ground," Buffy said. "Though, yeah, Giles, he needs more help."
"There's not many who can handle such areas," he said dryly. "Unless you want to go, Buffy?"
"I don't think I can handle that stuff. Africa seems less happy than Cleveland and a lot more dirty. Xander was really dirty."
Giles looked at her. "He was not."
"The t-shirt was filthy, Giles."
"He got a bit dusty playing...snout-soccer," he said. He sighed, looking at them. "Though I agree, no area should only have one watcher. We really must have more of us trained to handle things as he does. Not many of us could handle Africa."
The guy in Asia nodded. "Or here. I've lost one to that and nearly lost two of the girls to sharing regional foods." He shook his head with a sigh. "If we could find some, I'd gladly take in apprentices to train."
"Xander too. Though he has been spreading how to handle things when possible so even if everyone is too far away, someone can handle an emergency until someone more trained gets there."
"I do that," the guy in Brazil agreed. "The natives asked and we can't be there with them. They hate us quite vehemently."
Giles nodded. "Many native peoples probably do as they see us as problematic for their way of life. If I could find more to send Xander I'd do so." He rubbed over his eyebrow. "So we're agreed we should share that information with the other slayers?" They all grimaced but nodded. "Good. I'll use Xander's notes as a template. Buffy can go over those things for the girls here in the main house."
"I don't know most of them myself," she said. "You left Xander and Willow in the books, not me." He looked at her. "You know I'm not the booky sort, Giles."
"Point, dear. I'll go over those with the local slayers." She grinned. "You will be doing sparring practice for the next week to spare Faith however. She needs to do something else for a bit."
"Fine. Even though the girls don't do as good with me," she sighed.
"It's that or retire and learn to do something meaningful for the slayers in some other way. We'd dearly love to see you graduate college, Buffy. Your mother would've adored it as well."
She winced. "I sucked at school. That whole not being booky thing again." She sighed. "I'll consider it." She got up and walked off to talk to the girls and Faith. Faith wasn't really like the other slayers either. "I just got told I'm doing sparring for you, Faith. Also, Giles is getting Xander's notes from the old books way back in high school because he found stuff the girls should know."
Faith nodded. "Okay. Sure. I could like that." She sipped her coffee, going back to the tv. She'd find out what Giles was thinking later since Buffy was horrible in sparring and tended to do more gossiping than teaching the girls how to defend their lives.
Buffy sat down. "We've got new video from down there. There was an ascended demon." Faith choked, shaking her head, feet flopping off the footstool as she sat up to clear her windpipe. One of the younger slayers patted her on the back to help. "He's okay. He played snout-soccer with it until they got a plane to blow it up."
Faith stared at her. "Excuse me?"
"Yup." She nodded, grimacing. "They didn't have a school to blow it up in. Ayo, the slayer he's with, is only sixteen so he made her stay in the car and went to taunt it." She grimaced. "Twenty minutes of dodging the snout then a huge thing from a plane hit it in the skull."
Faith got up and stomped into the office. "A what?" she demanded. Willow waved her over to show her that video. "Damn!"
"Language please," Giles said. "I'm on with the other watchers, Faith." He smiled at her. "We saw it together."
She stared at him. "We need to stop that! He could've gotten really hurt!"
"Usually we hear that argument from me," Willow quipped.
Faith glared at her. "I know what he means to the other slayers," she shot back. She took the computer out to put it onto the bigger screen. The girls all watched, a few sniffling some. They all sent Xander messages making sure he was okay. "Let's go over what you do when you see one," she ordered. "Beyond peeing yourself and demanding a military."
"Hope you have weapons and explosives," Buffy quipped. "And some way to taunt it into the trap you need to build."
One of the older slayer trainees raised her hand. "Can I send that to my big brother? He's in the Air Force and this way they know too in case we need them? That way we don't have to do more than point and whimper while begging for weapons?"
Faith nodded, handing her the laptop. "That's not a bad idea. Any other ideas beyond B's of trap it?" The girls went over what they could do and why Xander was able to bait it. Buffy suggested as a human it had wanted him as a boyfriend but they all ignored that. Even if the demon had been smirking at him and hadn't tried *too* hard to eat Xander, just knock him over.
That slayer sent the file to both brothers, one of who was an agent. The government needed to know too.
In New York, an agent in a nondescript black suit with a white shirt walked into a room. "Sir," he said, smiling at the guy not in a uniform. "We had a file sent from Africa about a huge problem that happens rarely. One of the slayers is my half-sister and she wanted us to know just in case we saw one. I got this early last night." He put down the keydrive in front of him. "It's a bit nasty. Looking at it, we had one a few years back out in Sunnydale. That's what happened during their graduation. This way your team knows as well. I still need to brief the director." He nodded politely then left.
Captain America picked up the keydrive to run in his laptop Stark had given him. He stared at the creature. "What is that?" He looked at the files, finding the 'ascension details' file. He opened it to look, frowning as he read it over. "Wow. At least he didn't have a red face." He got up and took it back to the tower and to Stark. "Hey."
Stark looked up from soldering a joint on his newest suit. "Huge issue? You look creeped out."
"I am." He put the laptop down, letting him see it.
Stark came over to watch the video. He frowned. "What's that demon? I recognize the guy from the Council."
Steve changed screens. "That's the file they gave me with it."
Stark skimmed it, grimacing. "So that's what that little bitch at Hammer was doing before she got stopped for sacrificing babies." He nodded once. "How rare?"
"We had one in Sunnydale, at some graduation. That's dated a few days ago in Africa."
"Great. Let's look up what they need to see how many more are doing it." He looked at his team leader. "You can help?"
"A lower SHIELD agent gave it to me. His half-sister is a slayer."
"Ah. So they'll hopefully be doing the same searching. If not, we definitely will. Show Bruce. Maybe he's got an idea better than blowing off the head."
"Sure. If we run into one, can we handle that?"
Stark smirked. "I may have something in holding that I never put up for sale, yes." Steve nodded, going to Bruce's lab with the laptop. Stark got back to work. "JARVIS, search out what you need to do that and find anyone who is. Before we find one slithering up the road here in a few months." The AI started to search out anything on ascensions on a side screen.
Giles had called a meeting so Xander was back in the US. Starting in DC since that's where the first plane landed so he could switch over. He was met outside Customs by agents. "What evil thing did I do?" he asked, not moving closer.
"As far as we know, nothing, Mr. Harris. We wanted to pick your brain and you have a two hour layover."
"Okay, we can do that. Just don't use truth serum. I react weird and I start to get a bit bloodthirsty. Someone found that out as I tried to stab them. They wanted information on the slayers." He grinned. "Pity."
"We don't need that sort and you hopefully won't be unwilling to give us what we need, sir. We've even got a ride to the other terminal so we can talk in a back hallway without anyone overhearing or panicking."
"Sure." Xander picked up his carry-on and followed them to the golf cart. It was nice of them to give him a ride. His legs were sore from the cramped seating.
The agents walked into an ambush of all the agency directors. "Oh, dear," one muttered. "Sirs, problems?"
"What did you find out from the wild card at the Council?" one asked.
"Many things. We asked politely to copy his classification manual. He gave us that and his notes, plus another notebook he's been working on of things the African slayers need to know that the others may not." He put down the copies they had made. "We found out why he was the one that baited the pure demon."
"His slayer was sixteen," the other agent said. "He didn't want to risk her for that."
"Do we know anything more about whoever did that?" their boss asked.
"Not that anyone's told him, sir," the second agent said. "He agreed, we should've asked a few years ago instead of panicking but we understood why we did and all the fits that got thrown as he put it. He's also noted that if anyone should ever try to capture a slayer for testing again, he'd have all the slayers in the US kidnaped, or from whichever country tries that, and they can therefore handle it themselves until the girls decide they want to go back to spare humanity."
The head of SHIELD nodded, smirking some. "Sounds like a mad young guy. Is he anything but that?"
"Crazily genius, Director Fury. He reminds me a lot of some of yours."
Fury nodded. "I've seen that comparison made before. I let Hill talk to him when we need to since he's used to women demanding information from him."
"Yes, he said he was going to his death of nagging," the first agent sighed. "He didn't seem too thrilled but he knew it'd happen. Apparently all the slayers wrote him emails about not doing that again when they saw that baiting time."
Fury nodded. "Me too." He looked at the others then at them. "Did he give you anything practical?"
"Yes, a list of books we'll also need to study to make our own groups to handle things so the slayers don't have as much work," the first agent said. He pulled that out of the copies. "There's ten, and we can make a treaty with Mr. Giles to get into their library to copy them, as long as we can read Latin, or we can perhaps give him someone to translate them into English for later watchers' needs as the old lines could all read that and the boy learned in high school so he could do the research back then."
"They're in Latin?" the FBI director asked, looking amused.
"Some. The ones we'd need, yes. The rest...." He sighed. "They have ones in everything from Troll and Elvish, to a few demon languages to many copies of books in the original languages because those were in storage off-site and the translated versions were blown up in the old building. We have some in Aramaic and other ancient languages. Only two people presently read some of those in the remains of the Council. They have been looking but no one really wants to be associated with those books. They don't want to trust someone untried to let them do it as their dissertation because a wrong translation has led to deaths in the past. We think that's slightly reasonable."
Fury nodded. "I've looked into some of the old Council's works. Even the CIA can't get that dirty at times." The other directors looked at him. "They took out a town that had a vampire feasting to stop it because they'd talk about it. That violated their former secrecy thing. That's why they had a contract out on Harris and Rosenburg for helping Summers."
"When Mr. Harris was joking about Miss Rosenburg's reaction to seeing him, we did get to ask about magic anonymous as he put it," the second agent said. "Apparently that's the purpose of the Devon Coven. She sees them often."
"She was grieving her girlfriend and nearly took out humanity," Fury said.
"Do you know what they've been doing?" the head of the FBI asked. Fury smirked and nodded. "All of it?"
"Nope. No one does but God possibly. We know the bigger things and some of the odder things they've been doing. We've kept track of the ones in delicate areas. Especially since Harris isn't really all that trained outside of what he got on the team in Sunnydale and he's in the harshest spot. Kid's done good, even I have to admit that, but he's handled things in a way that we all thought was notably weird. We've had a few agents run into him and suggest ideas for him to learn from so he'd know how to handle things easier in the future instead of blowing up their sewer system at one point." He smirked. "Took them out but it was probably nasty getting in there."
"So we can put all the ones that can back up the slayers in your people then," the head of the CIA said with a smug look. "After all, if there's people with ancient weapons knowledge they've got to be yours."
"Harris asked not to," the second agent said then coughed to clear his throat when they all stared at him. "While he respects a lot of agents, most of them are not SHIELD due to some of their past deeds. He said he feels about them the same way they feel about him. Sorry, Director Fury."
Fury shrugged. "That's another reason why I have Hill go talk to him whenever we need to find out things. She can put up with them and their weird, unusual ways. Though I don't think I have any agents that can use a sword."
"You have two," the head of the CIA quipped. "We sent them over when we found out they were learning after the LA invasion attempt."
The head of the FBI nodded. "I sent one of mine that I heard was too."
"Yes, they all washed out," Fury said. "Ours are higher goals and they wanted to do things with a lot more oversight. Hill called them thumbsuckers. She sent them to Homeland. What about Homeland?"
"Mr. Harris has stated that if certain members of Homeland Security show up, he has a kill on sight urge for them. I asked why," the first agent said. "He told me it led back to a closed project. That Homeland was their permanent duty assignment as he put it."
The head of Homeland nodded. "I remember them coming in and I wasn't pleased. One's at that meeting." He winced. "Hopefully he'll at least let them explain since they're there to give information. If not, not much lost really. I only vaguely know what they did and that it was disgusting and bad. Not much more than that."
"Genocidal fuckheads as Mr. Harris called them," the second agent quipped.
The head of Homeland nodded once. "Definitely not a loss then. I wonder what they'd do if they got fired."
"Hopefully prison," Fury said. He pulled up something on his tablet and handed it over. "We could only find the description of the project. It was sanitized by the Army and then by Rosenburg."
He looked it over, grimacing. "How disgusting." He handed the tablet back. "I don't blame them for ending the program then."
"They ended it?" the head of the FBI demanded. "How?"
"We have no idea how Harris, Summers, Giles, Rosenburg, McClay, and a vampire that had been behavior chipped by that group took them down," the head of Homeland said. "Besides the fact that the Army was very embarrassed and guessed that their person who turned after dating Miss Summers gave much help since he was a Ranger."
"I heard rumors of them going toward mystical bullshit," Fury said. "Rosenburg was drunk during the last anniversary so I had an agent go chat her up while feeding her rose wine. She's a bit of a cheap drunk and magic seemed to come *real* easily. He had to let the bunny ears wear off for two weeks. The tail faded after a day and thankfully she changed his size back first after she got tired of petting and cuddling him to cry on. Then she turned the rest of the bar back too. The agent nicely got her out of there before they lynched her."
"Mr. Harris said she had tried to knock him up while he was down there," the second agent quipped.
"The snow incident wasn't her though," the first agreed. "It was a young witch who looked up to her and did what she would to save her village from bad people. She's eight."
"That makes sense," the head of Homeland sighed, shaking his head. "Drunk slayers talked a fraternity into stripping for them until Faith found them and screamed. They were told about some cave slayer beer incident on the way back to the house to be yelled at and grounded by Mr. Giles."
"Cave slayer?" the others mouthed then shook their heads. They did not want to know.
The first agent sent that to Mr. Harris. He sent back the recipe and what happened. He let them see it and they all groaned. "I need to save that down because my daughter's thirteen." His partner took down the recipe too. He had teenage boys. They could ask the magic response team to find them someone to do the spell parts.
The others let the meeting end with copying those files for everyone to have one.
Giles stopped Xander at the doorway. "He's here to give information. Do not harm him yet."
"Fine. Which Initiative weenie was it?" He dropped his backpack beside the door. "Also, I had two agents show up at the airport in DC to ask questions. I let them copy my classification manual and notes, and suggested which books they'd need and we could really use someone who could translate some of the library again. I also suggested that they not let agents in SHIELD or Homeland back the slayers up."
"Is that wise?"
"Do you know how badly the three agents I've seen handled the demons around them when they showed up on their assignments?" he asked.
"No, I don't believe that's something you wrote a report about," he said dryly. "Screaming?"
"One started to cry. The other two had girlish hissy fits and they weren't even related to their assignment. They were just in the local community. The one that had one with demons involved just got eaten as soon as they realized he wasn't a normal guy because he liked weapons. They thought he might be one of us. I asked when one dropped off his wallet. I mailed it back to SHIELD with a report from the demon." He shrugged. "Then Silima and I took them down and out for being that way."
"I did get that report. Thank you for telling me why they were evil."
"Did you want to hear some girlish screaming of your own?" he asked dryly but quietly.
"No, I do not." He walked them to the conference in the library. "He's finally made it."
"I didn't even miss my connection. The plane had to wait at the gate for the pilot." He settled into the chair, staring at the now-agent. "You have information?"
"I do," he said, trying not to look nervous. "My supervisor sent me to tell you and then I'm leaving Cleveland again, Harris."
"Thank you. Don't warp the girls."
"What did he do?" one of the other watchers complained with a huff at the end.
"He was part of the Initiative," Buffy said. "One of Riley's former team."
"While they were rough, is that really that evil?"
"Do we want the present Council to be associated with genocide?" Xander asked. They all shook their heads. "Then yes it was." He leaned on the table, tossing a notebook at Giles. "The Africa-specific notes I've found and taught the girls."
He flipped through it. "That's good. They don't have staking vampires?" He looked up.
"Two species, very small covens of them. Very out of the way. Most of them have to be beheaded instead."
Giles nodded, going over them. "That's interesting. This cult?" He looked up.
Xander grinned. "Happier now that their god is back asleep."
"Why is it not dead?" one of the old line watchers demanded.
Xander stared at him. "It's nine stories tall, I only had a sword, my axe, and a bit of C-4 with me, and the cult is over six hundred people large. Did you expect me to kill all them and then somehow chop it to bits?" The man piped down. "They wanted it to go back to sleep. We knocked it back out with an herbal thing I learned from a shaman." He flapped a hand around. "It fit the needs of the situation and kept everyone from getting really angry at me and killing me. Since I was between slayers and even then none of them could've taken him out....." He flapped again.
"Fine," he complained. "If you had something larger could you take it out?"
"If I knocked out the cult first? Maybe. It'd almost be easier to activate the portal it's sleeping on top of and send it somewhere else but that's kinda evil of me. We don't want to make another realm mad enough to invade," he said at the heated looks.
"No, we don't," Buffy agreed. "I hate invasions." She looked at Xander. "I heard rumors you saw one."
"You heard *rumors*?" he asked with a grin, staring at Giles.
"I did not share your reports, what few made it to me, with anyone else, Xander." He cleared his throat. "Yes, they had a small invasion in Gabon. It wasn't as large as the one in LA, and the creatures were less human eating...."
"Just wanted DNA and blood," Xander quipped. "No skin or anything icky." Buffy glared at him. He stared back. "I got woken out of a sound sleep in my camping spot on my way to Cameroon, dear. They panicked hard and heard there were watchers around. They flew me there and then back when we figured out how to end them. By the way, acid throwing, lower acid vinegar was what we used. Took a bit, made a gooey mess, but it worked, Giles."
"Thank you." He made that note. "Did you ever identify what they were?" Xander looked around the library and got up to get a book, bringing it back flipping through it until he found it. "These?" he asked, pointing at one.
"Only blue instead of purple and a bit larger. So I'm guessing a cousin. I remembered thinking about a game that had something like that attacking villages and you shot those. You can shoot them, we made shish kabobs with them but it didn't kill them. Then one ran into a food cart and some vinegar hit it. So we built spray guns out of bug spraying canisters and used it on them while some of us kept them from getting near people."
"Good work," he said, making notes on that. "Did you get any pictures?"
"I emailed them at the same time."
"Wonderful. I'll see if we can find them." Buffy was still staring at Xander like he was strange. "As before, he found a way to handle it when necessary, Buffy. You're not the only one that can do so."
"Why would a food cart have vinegar?" she asked.
"Because the Brits like malted vinegar on their fries," one of the younger watchers said dryly.
"I can see why," Xander said. "That one had pickled things that spilled."
"Oh," Buffy said. "Okay, I guess. Good work, Xander."
"You're still a normal guy."
"Yes, thankfully I am even though Willow tried to pull up my mermaid taint while I was traveling. I had to hide in an ancient demon king's temple to get away from her attempt. Then I killed it and took the stuff it'd need to get back to solid."
She blinked a few times then opened her mouth. "You did WHAT!" she demanded, hopping up.
He stared at her. "I had to hide from Willow somehow," he said dryly. "I've seen a few very old temples that still have inhabitants in them down there." He looked at the oldest watcher at the meeting because he was choking. "What?"
"Which ones?" he gasped out. Buffy came over to help him by pounding him on the back.
Xander went to get his pack and came back with his map and laptop. Giles got handed the laptop once he was in the reports files. He put the map on the table. "This is the one I work from. The key's on the back."
He flipped it over to look then at the map. "Do we know which ones they are?" Xander pointed at the laptop. "Rupert?"
"I'm doing a word search," he sighed. He looked at the file then at Xander. "How many pages should printing take?"
"Half a case of paper," he said dryly. "Save them down for later viewing?"
"That's a wise thing. How do I do that?" Xander came over to do that for him. "Thank you, Xander." Xander let the other watcher have the laptop to look up the temples. The old man huffed but looked it over. He was not amused by how sour his scowl got but his notes were not happy either. He kept underlining things with slashes of pen, sometimes two or three of them, and then glared at Xander after each underlining. Buffy was staring at the old watcher and looking amused at how frustrated he was at Xander.
Xander finally stared at him. "I handle things as they happen. I could've taken most of them out but why make myself that sort of target and that injured in some cases? I've only had two of the slayers with me when I ran into them. We've only covered half the continent."
"Why are you not traveling with one?" he demanded.
"Because the oldest is sixteen and married and the next oldest is sixteen and I just evacuated her from her family before they sold her off," he said dryly. "I took her to one of the other younger slayers' houses so she could be a big sister to teach her. There's some activity near there and that slayer's only five."
"No adults?" he asked.
Xander shook his head. "Not that you guys told me about. There may have been one but we know one died right before I left for my first trip."
"I see," he said. He went back to the reports, looking up one area. He looked at the boy. "Is that why you do most of these things yourself?"
"Unless it's something huge, yup. I'm not going to have a slayer who's underage doing anything unless it's totally critical to her survival. A few times it has been that bad and I gave the girls the truth and asked if they wanted to be there. I'm not going to force a slayer that doesn't want to fight to go into a battle. One of my girls is fifteen and has a kid. Most of the time I ignore her for any battles around her because her raising that future slayer is more important."
Giles nodded. "It is. We could perhaps send you an older slayer to help you. That way you had someone with some experience to lean on."
"Mostly I'm okay. Now and then I need to take a day off before I start to scream at people. Those days I could use someone else to answer the phone and handle anyone who shows up to nag. They do nag just like the American ones do but they aren't as ungrateful when we save a village."
Giles nodded, smiling some. "I've seen some of that, yes. Witcher, do you have anything to note from Asia?"
He looked at Xander. "I got the same sort of glares because I've got a lot of underage girls and no one else to help me now. Though I can't find any hell god temples."
"Cambodia has the only one I've heard about. A cousin to the one that I stole the stuff from so he couldn't regain a physical form." That got a nod and a note made. "Otherwise, I'm pretty sure you guys had monks and the like?"
"We have and they're an interesting community and resource. They've agreed about how the girls are now being trained and a few have suggested nun enclaves that could help if they needed it. I haven't had too many where I had to worry about early marriage. Only one of mine's married and it was arranged and done when she was a child. Her husband is not that much older than she is, they were both young children when they were married. He has said that her training has helped and they've been moved out of that village because the elders there were not pleased by her becoming a slayer. So we moved her toward where some of the problems were and I've kept in touch with her husband, who I made her watcher."
"I've done that to mine who're married too," the guy from Central America said. "Thankfully almost none of mine are that young. I've only got two under puberty."
"I've got one slayer I need to still meet," Xander said. "She's on the other side of the continent and I've called her. She said she's fine so far. We're going to meet in six weeks or so."
Giles nodded. "Is she older?"
"No but she's been protecting her village. She got a strong download and there's people there who helped. They may have worked with a girl in the past. She said she had some sort of classification manual."
"Good," Giles said. He looked at the one from the southern Americas. "Yours?"
"Like Harris, if they ask, we've handed over copies of the classification manual," the one from South America agreed. "There's not been too many that asked and we haven't had any large battles. They've been mostly hidden, thankfully. Though one did eat a drug lord who was bothering their community. I'm told it was nasty but necessary at that point. They're not usually flesh eaters but it made sure none of the others came back. Very interesting, very long history of the peoples down there. They even introduced us to some of the local native villages."
"Excellent," Giles agreed. "Do you have a native problems guide like Xander did?"
"We don't have too much that's unstandard by the old books but then again I learned to train from the original sources, not the last group's versions. My father taught me to train a girl from the three heavy books. That had some regional problems that were studied." He pulled them out and thumped them onto the table. "He always said this is the bible to train the girls by."
"Anything from my areas?" Xander asked.
"No. Almost no one's studied anything in Africa at all."
Buffy pointed. "I've seen one of those. Giles pulled it out when I first met him."
Giles nodded. "That's an older edition than the copy I had then."
Xander coughed. "Storage area."
"They sank," he sighed.
"Bullshit. I pay monthly for Anya's storage area," Xander said with a smile. Giles moaned and nodded. "It was farther out, by the college. Unless you used the one in town?"
"No, I had one there but it was mostly personal belongings that wouldn't fit in my apartment." He smiled. "I'll look into that." Xander nodded. He took the heavy books to flip through. "I've only seen my copy of one of these." He looked at that watcher. "Have you noted a lot that's not in the current books or is wrongly attributed?"
"Wrongly attributed, yes. A few things were noted that were actually crossbreeds as we know now. They've missed some of course, immigration has led to a few different species. So far I can supplement. I would like a copy of the notes from the others to include and perhaps even rework these into one more manageable book."
Xander handed over his and his classification manual. "It has notes too." The older watcher smiled and flipped through them, giving him an odd look. Xander glanced then shrugged. "It was a weird thing but not dangerous."
"That's good. I've seen one and it was like a hippie stoned on pot in some ways."
"They take poppy to do that. Eat pure poppies actually."
"Interesting to note." He made that note and got up to take those to the copy room with the notes from the other regional heads. That way they could be handed back and they all had notes from everyone. Xander's manuals and notes were very handy. They could definitely up the training materials that the girls had to get through before they were ready to patrol.
Weird Old Lines.