One Little, Two Little, Three Little Knights, Four Little, Five Little, Six Little Xanders.
Xander was kicked back around a firepit with the village when his phone rang that special, bad ringtone. The slayer he was working with looked over, frowning some. Xander frowned at his phone, answering it. "It's me." He listened, sucking in a deep breath. "First, who did that? Second, how did you get my number so I know who to thank for helping you reach me?" He listened, nodding once. "I'm about a full day's travel from there. Thank you. I can be there by then. Will I need anything beyond my fists to thank them for that gift?" He nodded. "Agreed. Thank you. I'll see you by sunset tomorrow." He hung up and nearly threw his phone. "I've got to go."
"A battle?" the young slayer asked, eyes wide.
"No, someone stupid did something really, really dumb." He stood up and patted her on the head as he walked past her. "I'll be back in a few weeks. For now, practice." He got into his jeep, driving off in a small plume of dust to be respectful of the village. He could speed up in a few minutes.
Xander parked and turned off the engine, staring at the two men there to meet him. "Guys. I'm Xander." He got out, walking over. "What's going on?"
"We were raiding this base," one of them said in fairly decent English. Xander nodded. "How do we know you're you?"
Xander grinned, pulling a gun. "Recognize me now?"
"Yes," the other said, shuddering and backing up, looking down. "I saw you when you rescued that young one."
Xander grinned. "It's a slayer, guys. I train slayers. The old Council is gone and now the slayers get to be raised at home like normal girls with gifts." That one stared at him, eyes wide. "I've got fifteen I'm working with around here. So, what's going on?"
"This group, we thought they were selling children."
"Okay," Xander agreed. "Were they?" They both shook their heads. "Then what do we know?"
"Our general looked at the files when they found them. It's a lab. It's a lab to make children."
Xander growled. That explains why they had found his name on the files. "Mine?" They nodded, both looking down. "Thank you. I'll make sure my babies are fine and find the other parents if we can." He shook their hands. They led him inside. He nodded at the 'general' he had nearly shot once before. "So, I hear they made me a baby?"
"They made you four babies," he said, handing over the files.
Xander looked then grimaced. "Are there other kids here?"
"Okay. I can get someone to come get them to their families." He looked at him. "I'll let them know you helped by taking down someone you thought were people sellers."
"I'm glad they're not." He shook his hand. "Don't let us be known about. They'll fuss." He left.
Xander read the files, looking at the kids napping in the room below him. Ten kids. Four were his. He gathered the other files then called in a contact. "I need a US agent I can absolutely trust," he said in greeting. "Because one of my contacts here found a lab making babies. I should hand out cigars." He listened to the spluttering. "Exactly. Here where I am right now. I'll be here for at least a week. There's six others that need regular parents found." He hung up, putting the phone beside him on the table. His phone had a GPS chip so she could track him. She had used it in the past to get reports on something happening.
He checked the whole facility. He found a few people hiding in a vault, leaving them there. The agents could handle it. He found out who had been doing it, frowning at the names on the file. "That's stupid," he decided. "Really dumb of them." He started to make something for the kids to drink when he found the kitchen/break room. They had to be hungry or thirsty. They were all probably mobile by how old they looked. That was a benefit. His phone rang with Willow's ringtone and he grabbed it. "Not. Now." He hung up. He didn't want to hear her judgmental BS right now.
Xander walked out with one of the kids on his hip. She was fussy from teething. "She's got a teething fever," he told the woman getting out of the SUV.
"Tell me exactly what's going on, Harris."
He grinned. "Three names from our past and two others I didn't recognize decided to breed better soldiers. So I need to hand out cigars and so do six others' parents."
She winced. "Yours have other parents I'm assuming since she's a girl?"
"She's not mine. Mine are all cuddling the other fussy one." He grinned. "The ones that thought they were child sellers left the files. There's some people presently committing suicide by hiding in a locked vault. I've got it boobytrapped in case they try to sneak out. We'll hear when they get blown into large chunks. I'm out of the special explosives so I had to improvise."
"I can get you help."
"Mine are coming with me. That's not negotiable."
"Are you going to tell the other parents?"
"Not sure," he admitted. "You can tell them and they can write to ask if they want visitation but they're my kids."
"I can try that." She followed him inside, going 'awww' at the kids playing together. Xander grinned at her. "The files?" He pointed at the two piles. "Yours?" she said with a point at the smaller one. He nodded. "Any sign of non-born ones? Embryos?"
"There's a whole locked section that miraculously has electric," he said dryly. "I hacked into it to get the kitchen working when the generator gave out."
"Even better." She looked at the kids then at him. "Let me start, then you can disappear with the kids." He nodded, going in there to feed them. She called her boss at the FBI. "Sir, Harris had a serious problem dropped into his lap. Someone he knew down here ran into a group of people they thought were slavers selling children. It turns out to be a scientific group making children, with a few still here hiding in a locked vault. We have possible embryos and six other kids who need to be given to their parents. From what I've seen, and he said, it's a breeding experiment. Yes, sir.
"No, he's taking his. He was adamant the other parents could ask for visitation. Thank you. Yes, I am and we will need a team with support for any embryos. Thank you, sir. He'll stay for a few days to help me, yes. I know I'm not very maternal and he's probably better at it than I am so he's agreed to save me the mushy feelings, sir." She hung up and walked out of the office to look around. Xander pointed so she went that way first. The vault was still sealed. She took a picture and figured out how to open it once Xander was out of the way. He wouldn't leave them anyone to talk to. She heard the cellphone ring and winced at the 'Witchy Woman' song it played.
"Not done yet, it'll take a week," Xander said then hung up. "Don't worry, guys. We'll figure out how to tell the others so they won't pounce you or yell at me for not being here. Sometimes those two don't really make a whole lot of sense." He petted his daughter on the head. "You'll be okay." She grinned at him. "I need to change the jeep out though." The agent nodded as she headed for the lab area. "I didn't break in there, just in case there was a failsafe," he called.
"Good idea. My boss will be here tomorrow with a science team."
"The locals have tried to come see what's going on. I told them I found someone had stolen my children and a few other's children. That someone was coming to gather the other kids." She smiled at him. He sighed. "Can you not tell Willow and Buffy?"
"Gladly. I don't like talking to the senior Council people. They tend to give agents headaches." He grinned and nodded. She took pictures of the lab to send in. Her boss promised they'd be there in ten hours. "Ten hours, Harris." He nodded, feeding the kids some mushy stuff. She settled in to help him. At least he knew how to change diapers. She had not a single clue about children or pets.
Xander finally got to the closest local watcher's house, nodding as he walked in with the kids around him. "We need to call Giles."
"Are they slayers? One's a boy."
"Three are boys and no. Some crackhead agent decided they wanted to breed better soldiers," he said dryly, giving him a look. The other watcher shuddered. "Yeah. So I've got to report that without talking to the ones that clearly are having PMS." He walked the kids in and settled in the office, dialing the office in Cleveland. "Marjorie, I need just Giles." She gave him a wide-eyed look. "It's really important and the girls will scream," he said quietly. "Just Giles." She nodded and he could hear her shooing Willow off. Then Giles came into view. "I need the forms to add dependents."
"Have you adopted?"
Xander plugged in his memory stick, sending over the files. "No."
Giles opened them, that's how Xander tended to report in for bigger things so he had learned how. "Oh. My. God," he breathed, staring at the picture on his computer.
"Which is why I haven't answered my phone in a week," Xander said dryly. "Because there would be screaming."
"Yes, there will be. The other side?"
"They can ask for visitation if they want. Agent Bethany came when I called in for an agent I could trust. Including moving what may be about two hundred embryos. Or more, they found more refrigerators in the back room they weren't sure were in use. My name's on about a tenth of them. Apparently they thought I'd be a good mom."
Giles pulled off his glasses to clean, staring at him. "How many do you have with you?"
"Four." He pulled them into his lap, pointing at the camera. "Can you guys wave at Uncle Rupert?" They smiled and waved like he had taught them to wave at the agents.
"They're charming looking," he said. "Any others of us that may have been hit?"
"No. A few embryos had Andrew's name on them but otherwise no."
"Good." He cleared his throat. "What are you planning on doing?"
"Ducking the screaming."
"That's a good idea," he agreed with a smile. Then he looked over the camera. "I'll get to that report in a few minutes, Wilbur." He hung up.
Xander hung up on his side. "We'll let him tell them," he told the kids, taking them out to show them off in the living room. "Giles is once again praying to Janus," he said dryly.
"I'm sure he's not the only one. Embryos?"
"One was mine with Andrew."
"Don't give me nightmares, Xander." He stared at him. "Are you going to be able to raise them while training the girls in the middle of nowhere?"
"Yeah. We can't travel as much. I had to change out the jeep for something bigger that had air conditioning. We're handling it so far for the last three days. Not like anyone else can come take over."
"You could set up an area and invite the girls in. You've seen all of them."
"I have but they're too far out of the way. I'll figure it out in the next few days." Wilbur nodded. "I've called most of the girls and asked them not to tell the higher ones."
"I can't even imagine the fit from *her*."
"Yeah. Me either. Giles can tell her." He grinned.
"Can she get here?"
"I hope not." He looked outside. "But that's a coven member that just appeared." He waved her in. "Willow send you?"
"Yes, she did," she said, staring at the children. "How? Did you adopt?" He pulled out his copy of the files to let her see them. "Oh, dear Goddess." She sighed, staring at him. "Are you going to give them to the other parent?"
"No. If gypsies can do it, I can do it."
She shook her head. "It's not practical. Infants need things."
"Which I can still give them while we drive a few hours every day. I always have food with me for the slayers. I always have water. We can buy diapers. We've done okay in the last few days. If not, I'll set up somewhere to train the girls and raise them. Far, far away from the screaming."
"Oh, yes, that's going on. Willow believes you should give them to the other parents, that you're going to warp them."
"She needs to butt out," Xander warned. "A lot. Today."
"I can see that point, yes. All right, are they healthy?"
"Yeah. The agents I called in for help with the other six that were born and the few hundred embryos they had waiting said they were just fine."
She winced. "Are others yours?"
"Yes, about ten percent of the embryos are mine." He grinned. "Apparently they decided I'd make a great mommy side. One's even mine and Andrew's."
"I don't even want to consider how warped that child would be, Xander," she complained.
"She'd probably be a sweet geek."
"Enough," she ordered. She rubbed her forehead. "All right. Let me go calm down Willow. The other parents?"
"Can ask me for visitation. I recognized most of their names. They're in even worse fields than I am."
"That's a good point in your favor. Let me calm her down." Xander grinned and waved the babies' hands at her. She got sent back by the coven, who was trying to control Willow. "Xander said their other parents were in even worse fields. He'd allow them to have visitation but he does have plans in case he can't travel with them. He has three sons and a daughter. He said the agents he turned them over to said they're healthy. They're all about mid-toddler, so probably just over a year or so. They're darling children who all seemed very happy with Wilbur's rug." The witches all nodded. "A lot of the embryos they found are partially his as well. Ten percent, and one's a future charming young woman who's part Andrew's."
Andrew leaned into the room. "Excuse me?"
Willow huffed. "Xander found someone had made him children," she sneered. "Which he thinks he can raise down there while traveling."
"As he pointed out, others have raised children while traveling," the witch that had went said. "He pointed out many cultures are mobile, including gypsies and the nomadic tribes down that way." The other witches nodded. "He also said he had plans to set up a training area if he feels he must."
"That's sensible at least," one of the other witches said. "Is he all right?"
"He looked mildly peeved in that annoyed yet amused way."
"Which means he's steps away from finding them to blow them up," Andrew said.
"Xander can't do that!" Willow shouted.
Andrew snorted. "Yes he can. He blew up the high school." She gaped. "Not like he forgot how he did that since he had to use it to blow up a portal last month by the reports."
"Yes he did," Giles said as he came in. "I've talked to the agent he called. She agreed that the other parents of Xander's four are in mildly dangerous fields as well. That Xander may be the safer parent. She also praised him for how he helped with the others until the agents got there to handle things. Without blowing up the ones who were hiding in the vault so they could nicely be questioned." He smiled. "It appears a few of the names are from that one military project," he said with a nod at the staring slayer.
"Riley?" Buffy asked.
"One of the scientists."
"Grand," she said blandly. "How does Xander know anything about kids?"
"He has traveled to many villages to work with many young slayers, who probably have siblings," one of the witches told her. "Things do work like that in the natural world."
"So he's seen others doing it and thinks he can?" Willow snorted. "He can't do that! He'll ruin them or warp them or something! They'll probably get eaten when he dates!"
"Unlike some people, he doesn't date vampires," Giles said dryly, glaring at her. "We will be supportive of his decision, Willow." She huffed off. The witches followed her to make sure she didn't do something magical. He looked at Andrew. "Twenty of the found embryos had your name on them," he said quietly. "They're not sure how the other parents consider things but they wanted to know about destruction wishes?"
"All right. You tell Agent Bethany please?" He nodded, going to call her. She was the one that came to take statements after battles. Giles looked at Buffy. "At least you're calmer."
"I agree with Willow. I don't think Xander can raise a turtle, much less a baby."
"So! It's *Xander*, Giles!"
"Yes, and he's done an amazing job training the slayers down there." He stared at her. "I'm sorry you don't trust him but he's made his wishes known and unless he does something seriously wrong that would summon a social worker or Halfrek's successor, we are not going to be anything but supportive of him." She huffed off as well. He sent a warning to Xander then sighed and called some other agents. They had to prevent Willow from hacking in those files.
An agent walked up to the receptionist at the tower in New York, smiling her most polite look. "I need to meet with Mr. Stark please," she said, holding up her ID. "We've found some information he needs to know and deal with about his family."
She sent that upstairs in a message. "He's not taking visitors."
"Is Ms. Potts? I'm well aware she can handle things for him." She called up and nodded. A security guard came down to escort her. She smiled, shaking Ms. Potts' hand. "I'm Agent Bethany Carmichals, Ms. Potts."
"What part of the Stark family's records?" she asked, sitting back down behind her desk.
"The ones where a contact of mine found a lab in Africa making children, including one of his that's born but has been taken in by his other father and fifteen embryos with his name listed on them."
Pepper cleared her throat, nodding. "We're sure?" Weirder things had happened since Tony had become Iron Man but not by much.
"That is what is listed in their files." She handed them over. "This is the copy of what they had with his name on them. I unfortunately also need to see another of your head engineer's friends for the same reason. He has a few noted embryos."
"That's something a bit odd. A formerly closed military project that was doing disgusting things to beings created a few of the scientists. The rest were agents from a few different countries. My boss is not sure why and I figured Mr. Stark may be the best one to figure that out."
"He may be," she agreed. "The other one you need to speak with?" She handed over that file. "I can do that. Are they all known?"
"No. One of the born ones does not have any noted parents. We're not sure who the parents are. One of the ones that has been taken in by their other father has a strange looking result so we're rerunning it. We're not sure if they tried to genetically tamper to give gifts."
"Oh, dear." She nodded, calling Tony down. He stomped in. She handed over the files. "The one that's born?"
"She's a charming young woman. She's very happy, very bouncy, and loves to help her father do things. She followed him around the day and a half I was with him while waiting on agents to come gather the embryos and other children."
"Wait, hold up," Tony ordered. He stared at the guard, who nodded and left. "And don't tell anyone," he ordered. "Even your other boss."
"I'll probably do that later." He looked at her. "What, exactly, did you find?"
She smiled, pulling out a CD. "This is the file on the scientists that were involved, Mr. Stark. No known relation back to your company. Two of them are from a closed project that we're aware of how bad they were. Thankfully civilians shut it down for us before we found out. The rest seem to be agents of somewhere. My boss and I can't get clearance to look. We don't even have the clearance to know who to ask to look."
"All right. The rest?"
"Mr. Harris, who is one of the ones that took down that one project, is in Africa training some special young women. One of his contacts told him about what they thought were child sellers who turned out to be a lab. They spotted his name on files so called him to handle it because they knew he'd protect the children. He found out he has four lovely little hellions, one of them a daughter, and the other six that were born needed to be gotten to their parents. Which is when he called me.
"I showed up to look at what he had found and within a day, my supervisor had evacuated the other six children, the embryos they had, and the fourteen people hiding inside a vault hoping that no one was going to kill them." She smiled. "Mr. Harris has said that he'd allow the other parents visitation if they wished but he wanted to keep his children with him. He's settling things at the moment." She pulled out a picture. "This is him and his kids before they left the lab to us."
He looked at it. "So she's...."
"Half yours by their files. We're doing parental testing in case. He knows that and I can find him if I need to. Or you need to." He nodded once. "Though he has said that the other parents were in more dangerous fields so he wanted to maintain custody."
"I can understand why," Pepper said. "Especially if he knows what Tony's other job is."
"I believe he may, yes, and I know he knows how bad that can be." She looked at Stark again. "There's also a lot of embryos with your name on them in storage. We have no idea who is going to be gathering them for safety or disposal. So far we're taking into account wishes of disposal."
Stark sighed. "All right. So I have a daughter."
"You do. She's seventeen months by her birth certificate notes. They didn't give her a name. They gave her a number. Xander's named her Joyceline. Right now he's calling her Joy. It's apparently in homage to the woman who was like his mother who died a few years back."
"Okay," he said. "And...."
"I think you're one of the few people who can find out who those people are, and you're one who'd need to know. I know we can't and we're being blocked. Actively blocked by the higher ups in the FBI. There's Pentagon people who wanted to confiscate the embryos. Which is why I came up today, before all the testing is done." He tipped his head, smirking some. She smiled back. "If you wish me to talk to Mr. Harris for you, I can do that. I can tell you he's a good man. He's got a crappy job at the moment but it's important. As important as your other job." She stood up. "If you would find out things, this is my supervisor's number and mine." She laid both cards on the desk. "Though I'm hoping they don't take us out for finding this." She smiled at Pepper and nodded then at him. "Can I leave this in your hands?"
"Yes, you can," he promised quietly. "The other one you wanted to talk to?" Pepper handed over the file. "Yeah, he's going to flip."
"I'm really impressed Harris didn't blow up the people in the vault," the agent quipped with a grin. "Usually he would've." She left.
Stark sat down, staring at Pepper. "This is really wrong."
"Do the checks. Let me know if we need to subtly file for custody of Joyceline."
"Yeah, I can do that. You..." He pointed at the second file.
"Yup, I can do that."
"Good. Let me start with the whackjobs."
"Want me to call Fury?" she asked quietly.
"Yes. Have him show up in my lab." He walked off scowling.
Pepper made that call first. "Agent Hill, Pepper Potts. Tony just got a file dropped in his lap that's really very odd but relates back to people trying to make him and others children. The FBI agent who brought it to our attention said she's being blocked from finding the other parents and anything about the people doing this. He'd like to talk to one of you about this if you have time. Before he has to find out for himself?" She smiled. "That'd be fine. We are, yes." She hung up and took the other file with her. She took a calming breath as she walked off the elevator. "Clint?" He looked up, smiling at her. "May we speak for a minute?"
"Sure, Pepper. Huge problem? Did I run up the hot water bill?"
"No." She put the file down. "We just got a visit by an FBI agent who found a breeding program for better soldiers." He stiffened, losing the smile. She pointed at the file. "They found embryos with your name on them. Tony's looking at the idiots who did this, and incidentally made him a daughter with someone named Xander Harris."
"Never heard of him," he admitted. "Do I have one born?"
"Not that I'm aware of but she said they're checking the other six that weren't from Mr. Harris and someone. The tests weren't done but they were being blocked from doing anything plus there's people who want the embryos."
He nodded. "Hell no!"
She smiled. "Which is why Tony's looking, I called Agent Hill, and now I'm telling you."
"Thanks, Pepper. Let me.... talk to Hill so I don't duplicate."
"The FBI agent seemed very honest and they said they were taking wishes about disposal but she said she wasn't sure if someone would take them from them or make them disappear."
"Got it." He took the file as he walked around her. "Thank you, Pepper."
"You're welcome, Clint, and I hope it works out all right for you."
He shot her a smirk. He went to the lab. "Natasha, I need your help," he called into a gym as he walked past it. She came out blotting the sweat off her face. He handed her the file. "Someone made me pre-kids, Nat."
"Excuse me?" she demanded, opening the file to look at it. "Oh, damn," she said in Russian. "Who had it?"
"An FBI agent came to Stark because they were being blocked from handing them to the parents."
"We can help Stark." She led him to the right lab, walking in with him. "Stark."
"We have three things to look at right now," he said while typing. "The supposed scientists." He pointed at that set of running screens. "The other names." He pointed at those. "And who the hell is Xander Harris since he's the other father of my daughter." He looked at her. "Jump in any time."
"Pepper said she talked to Hill. She also said people wanted to confiscate the embryos."
"Hell no," Stark muttered. "Find a way to get them here safely, Barton."
"I can do that," Natasha said, calling in agents she trusted. She told them why they were gathering them to Stark and not letting anyone who legitimately had them be harmed. They agreed. "Tonight." Tony nodded. She frowned. "Go back." He did. "They are a group that is not much better than the ones that trained me." Stark looked at her. "They lord over some mystically chosen female warriors. Tend to take them from their families to train. Though there have been odd things recently about them. Including an explosion in their main compound."
"Are they bad?" Stark asked. "Or misguided?"
A redheaded woman appeared, shaking her head. "That's not us anymore. The old ways are gone, they got blown up with the old Council." She stared at Natasha. "Though I do agree that Xander has no idea what he's doing. I love him like a brother but he's training the girls in their native environments and it's not going to be good for the babies. He should give them over to their other parents. Frankly, I think he's got some romantic notion about being a dad," she sneered. "His were crap and all he's seen are crap ones." She looked up, fighting. "Damn it," she muttered. "I'm helping!" She got summoned anyway.
"Okay," Stark said. "Who was that?"
"That was Willow Rosenburg," Agent Hill said from the doorway. "She's got a known magic addiction, has very bad ideas, and helps save the world at least once a year." She walked in, pulling up those files. "Which Council member are you looking at?"
"Harris has my daughter," Stark said.
She smiled at him. "He's a White Knight, Stark. He'll protect those kids with his last breath and destroy humanity if they're harmed. He's destroyed a few huge problems while training the girls in their native environments because they were coming for his slayers." She looked at Natasha. "She was right though, they have changed. It's no longer taking them in to train. They train at home to handle things and if they want to show up to extra training they can. Any in the vicinity fall in for huge battles."
"What huge battles?" Clint asked, starting to lose his temper.
Hill pulled up a file that wasn't sealed. "Did you see anything about this town?"
"Strange earthquake about a hundred miles from my other facility," Stark said. "Most of the survivors made it out on buses thanks to early shocks."
Hill shook her head. "The town was the site of a battle against a higher level evil entity. A supernatural one. That's what the Council handles. It took seven active slayers to get it sealed back in so Rosenburg, who that was, activated the whole line. So now it's not one slayer it's hundreds of slayers of all ages and abilities." Natasha growled. "Down," she ordered, smiling at her. "They're given a life. They're given training at home in how to protect themselves. They're given a choice if they want to use their gifts to patrol an area.
"The team out there did it that way. That's why the old Council tried to kill them." Natasha was still scowling. "Now the girls are shown how to protect themselves and their families. They're not pushed, not guilted, nothing. I know of Harris and he's working with the slayers in Africa. He's got fifteen in the continent and only two wanted to patrol so he's handling it with them while he travels to each girl to check on them, up their training, and help them be the best young women they can be. Since you can't remove the calling from them. Some higher power ordained it was their calling."
"So mystical bullshit, ordained fighters," Stark said. "The old one was as bad as Natasha's trainers and now they're better," he said bluntly. Hill nodded. "I don't want that around my daughter."
"Then ask him to show up so you can get to know her," Hill said. "Though he is highly overprotective of those girls. He took out a rebel group that was harassing one of them." Stark gaped. So did Clint. "He's also handled the battles down there with the older girls. The younger ones don't get more than self defense work. The new Council way is that the younger girls get self defense work however they choose. At puberty they start learning the different species and all that, and they're not allowed to even ask to patrol until they're at least seventeen unless there's a battle.
"Then it's by volunteer and you had better be at least sixteen to volunteer." She shrugged. "They're doing it the right way now and letting the girls make all their own decisions with their families if they have one." She pointed at the image of Sunnydale. "The one that did that took out a good half of the potentials that could've been called. Usually with their families."
"So he's a warrior," Clint said. Hill nodded. "Is he a good man?"
"Fairly decent. He's got a bad sense of humor and dates horrible people." She smiled at him. "I'm surprised you haven't flirted with him. You're his type, or Natasha."
"I've heard of someone who was dating Peitro Calas," Natasha said.
"Yes, that's him," Hill said dryly. "Only dangerous ones like him and most of them would love to help him with the slayers. Some of them get him things he needs." She pulled up other files. "Otherwise, I have agents going to gather the embryos. Without harming those FBI agents. The one that showed up is the one that goes to debrief the Council after events." She looked at Stark. "You want into the files on that closed project but we don't have it. No one has it. It was sanitized unless Rosenburg has a copy." She pulled up their page for him, getting a smirk. "The team out there, the one that took over, took out a military spec ops project to get it stopped. It was that foul."
"The scientists weren't punished?"
"Some went to jail. Some went to the UN. Some went to Homeland. Some of the scientists went to other special projects. Including breeding apparently. We're not sure about the others either."
"I want my daughter here soon," Stark said. "I don't like the sound of that guy."
Hill shrugged. "Work that out with him, Stark. He's offered visitation but we know he's fierce over protecting kids. No one else would take out a rebel base in Sudan to get them off a young woman."
"Hold on, that one base that was moving toward the refugee camp?" Natasha demanded. "Steve and I were prepping for that mission."
"Yeah, that was him. He found some artillery from a date." Hill shrugged, grimacing. "It was messy but they quit that. His trainee is safe. I'm pretty sure he moved them away from there anyway. I've also heard he's taken out a few enclaves of demons." She shrugged again. "He's the sort to do what he needs to do, even if it seems wrong at the time to outsiders. Then again, the top females at the Council aren't really appreciative of him. They think he's *normal*." Clint snorted, shaking his head.
"I'm fairly certain that Harris may never come back to the US again thanks to Rosenburg and Summers. Everyone who's talked to them hate dealing with them. The guy in charge is better. The housemother is a geek. Harris is their guy. The guy who fixes things and handles things and does things. The slayers confuse many because they shop before battles. The SHIELD agents watching over them subtly all got very confused why they went to find a perfect outfit to wear to the battle and bikinis for afterward." She sighed.
Natasha's eye twitched. "They did what?" she demanded.
"They could use sense," Hill said. "Summers runs the slayers. Rupert runs the Council. Harris trains the girls that Summers doesn't get to usually see. They tend to last very long and tend not to nag him about things."
"Still," Stark said.
"They can show up if you ask," she reminded him. "Harris has common sense. He actually uses it, unlike Rosenburg." She pointed. Natasha knocked her out. "Thank you. We can deliver her back to them before she destroys part of Africa." She looked at Stark. "We'll gladly let you see what you need to see, but we don't have everything."
"I can question her," Natasha said, looking at the downed witch.
"She can sneeze and blow up the world," Hill said bluntly. Natasha stared at her. She nodded. "She was deeply grieving at one point in time and nearly did."
"Fuck," Clint muttered. "Okay, so we're looking at damaged warriors."
"Sometimes but not always," Hill said. "Rosenburg, Summers, sometimes Harris, yes. Don't deal with Kennedy. She's a rich girl without sense and hates Harris for some reason. She's jealous. Faith is good, she's steady. She's healed since her turn toward bad once. Rona, Klia, a lot of the senior regional girls, they're good. They'll take help if it's offered. Klia's in England and when MI-5 offered, she taught them how to back up the slayers." She smirked. "I was going to send you anyway."
"Okay," Stark said. "Let me get into this. Can you get Harris back here?"
"I can get Harris to Turkey," she said. "He's actively avoiding the nagging people who believe he's going to be bad at what he's already shown he's good at." She sent off an email. "Hmm. Battle in the US soon but he's not recalled. Battle with him next week but he's letting one of the slayer's mothers babysit during it. He will be in Angola for that, then Oman for a regional watcher meeting, where he said he's expecting to nag some of them for being dicks as he put it, then he'll be in Turkey in one week." She looked at him. "He'll be in Istanbul for three days starting next Wednesday."
Stark nodded. "I can meet him there. I want my daughter."
"Work it out with him, Stark, but get to know him first. He's the sort he'll leave the plane to protect the kids if he thinks you're a threat." She walked off. "I'll see what sort of information we have."
"Thank you." He looked at Natasha then at the downed witch, then back at the spy-assassin. "You have fun." She smirked, carting the young woman off with Clint's help. Stark got back to searching. This was not looking good and his daughter was wrapped up in things that was going to give him an ulcer.
Stark was watching the news, glaring hard. "What the hell is that?" he demanded to the person on the phone. "That's an invasion! Why weren't we told! We would've helped!" The guy on the other end said he hadn't heard so he couldn't do that. "Whatever!" He hung up and looked at the ones staring around him. He got out of the way. "The same people," he told Natasha.
"I recognized them from my chat with Willow." She stared then pulled up footage from SHIELD's files. "That's the whole thing." Stark turned to watch it. She realized his pissed off face looked slightly evil. "They don't trust the agents enough to let us help them." Stark glared at her. "I asked Rosenburg while we chatted. Mostly because of some agents trying to pressure them to turn over the younger slayers into their training and keeping, plus that project that had been part of the Army."
Stark nodded. "That program was homicidally nasty, Romanoff. Absolutely nasty." He looked at her. "Not even the Nazi bastards would've liked that one."
She nodded. "Then it was a good idea for that group to shut them down."
"I'm sure the Army was real pleased that a construction worker, three female college students, and a former librarian did so," he said.
She smiled. "Sometimes a cover is the best thing in the world. The Council is now blown open and people are asking." She put up the other file. "This is what Harris was doing yesterday since Summers decided not to recall him."
Stark watched, tensing up. "I know that weapon."
"He bought it from a contact he dated," she said dryly. "You notice he took a blow for the girls and then hit it again?" Stark nodded, staying silent as he huffed. "He's heading for Oman today."
Stark walked off nodding. "I'll be damned."
She paused him by grabbing his arm. "I asked a contact he knew. It took me three different calls to find one but that one has said he would allow visitation because he recognized names and thought that the other parents' jobs were just as deadly. He can slow down. The others won't," she said quietly.
He smirked. "I have people I can hire to watch her."
"Which is a horrible fate for a baby," she said simply. "He grew up with people like your father, only poor."
"Understood." She let him go and he went to pack. He had to get to Turkey before Harris and the kids.
Clint nodded. "I'm not sure which side I'm on. I can see how he doesn't want the kids in danger. Then again, he does stuff like that." He pointed before walking off. "Not like we get warning before battles."
"It is a good point to think on," she agreed. "We are being sent to the Council for SHIELD. They're aware of our last battle." He smirked at her before going to pack and change into his action suit.
Xander limped into the café, settling himself down with the stroller beside him. He kissed the kids on the head. "Want water?" They grinned. He smiled at the waiter. "Water?" he asked in English. The waiter nodded. "Can I have some cold tea?"
"Later. We're just out of the market." He nodded, making that note and going to get their drinks. He poured their water into sippy cups and drank his, relaxing. Someone sat across from him. "Philip."
"Xander." He stared. "Stark's very upset."
"As opposed to ...." He took another sip. "He can find me. I told him my itinerary today."
"Point." He looked at the kids then at him. Xander grinned. "She's adorable."
"She tries. She got up at sunrise this morning."
The arms dealer smiled. "Some kids are like that. My sister was."
"Yeah but I work nights."
"Point." He patted him on the head. "Try the bites of vegetables in phyllo. It's really good and the kids can nibble on them."
"I can do that once we're cooled down."
"Good boy. Don't react, just be calm. He's hyper like Willow but he's got sense." Xander grinned. "And he's here." He nodded politely. "Can I watch the others tonight? I need to get my mother off my back nagging for kids."
"Maybe. Depends on what I'm doing."
"Thanks." He patted the kids and Xander then left.
Xander looked back and pointed. "You can come sit, Stark." He sipped his tea. The waiter came over. "My friend suggested little bites of veggies in phyllo dough?" The waiter smiled and nodded. "Will it be small enough for them to handle on their own?"
"Yes. Very dainty. Sweets?"
"No. Veggies or meats please. They need to eat good things." He nodded and got them food. Plus some ice water for Stark. Xander paid and tipped him nicely so he left them alone for a bit. "So." He let the kids pick out which one they wanted. Joyceline pouted and tried to toss it but Xander took it back and handed it back. "It's good. It's veggies like Sanara taught you about." She nibbled, humming. He smoothed down her hair. "So, you're Tony Stark."
"And you're Xander Harris."
"I do try," he agreed with a grin. "Lunch?"
"Later. It's too hot to eat."
"They got up at sunrise thanks to Joyceline."
"I guess some kids would." He sipped his water, watching the kids. "You know they got caught handling the last battle." Xander nodded. "So did you."
"Yup, but they still consider me normal so they're ignoring I exist." He smirked a tiny bit. "That and Willow is back thinking I'm stupid again." He sipped his tea and nibbled on a bite of food. One of the boys held up his with a smile. "Thank you, Jesse. That's very nice of you to share." He fed him some of his, making the baby smile. "This is Jesse, Joyceline, Arlin, and Henry."
"They're good looking kids." Stark took another sip then leaned forward. "I can give her a good education and a lot of security."
"Until you get hurt doing something huger than I do, Stark. I get banged up and occasionally really hate head injuries. You nearly died during your last one."
"I can make sure she's safe with someone combat trained to watch over her."
"I can disappear into the bush and it's really hard to find me if I do. Even for teleporting demons." He looked over and scowled. The demon laid down a package then left. Xander opened it, frowning. "The local slayer's having problems." He tucked it into the back of the stroller. "I'll talk to her when we break for a few hours." He looked at the staring officer, waving him over and pulling his ID. "I'm in to check on our local girl. She's stationed here," he said quietly. The officer sighed. "That one just told me she's had problems."
"He was peaceful?"
"Yes, he was."
"Thank you." He nodded. "Do the higher ones know?"
Xander grinned. "You've seen the battle in LA?" He shuddered but nodded. "Thanks to last year's apocalypse battle, all the slayers were called. She's protecting her own people, as most are. I'll gladly talk to the higher ups in the city tonight if they wish. The local Council person here is an idiot." The officer smiled. "Let me finish eating and talking to him about a mutual contact then we'll go back to our hotel." He showed him his key. "We'll go find her on the way there so maybe three hours?"
"That would be fine. I can tell them that." He left after a nod at Stark.
Xander put his key and ID case back. "Sorry, the local guy is a stupid idiot," he said quietly. "He's sold the local slayer's address to someone. Who isn't trying to hurt her." He pulled out his phone, calling her. "It's your new watcher," he said in greeting. "Yes, it's me, Mara. I'm in a café on the north side of the market. I just got information that your old watcher sold your home address. I am there, yes. Please do. I need to meet you, go over things to make sure you have all the information you need, and see later on if we need to evacuate you. Thanks." He hung up. "She'll be here in about a half hour." He ate another bite of fluffy pastry with veggies. He handed ones down for the kids. They all nibbled and got cuddly since it was warm and they were sleepy.
"What if she needs evacuated?" Stark asked.
"That depends on the meeting later tonight as well. There's a few larger regional houses and we have agreements with them. That's up to her, her family, and the locals having a fit about slayers. Because we've had to evacuate a few for their own safety."
Stark nodded. "I've seen that." The waiter came to refill glasses. "Thank you."
Xander smiled. "Thank you." He nodded and left. Xander checked, putting the hood over the stroller so the kids were in the shade again. "You guys rest." He looked at Stark. "I don't want my daughter to be raised as some princess in a tower. I want her to grow up happy, content, well adjusted, able to protect herself, and knowing that her parents love her more than anything. Not in some off-site location so she's safe and where she never sees her parents." He sipped his tea. "I'm not against a good education later but right now she needs cuddles and stories and love."
"I get that," Stark agreed. "Your life isn't any safer and I doubt you could give it up, the same as I can't."
"I have a lot of people I can trust to watch her for me. Including a whole coven of people. I'll gladly let her visit you and your friend that is probably having a lot of girlish outrage over this stuff. I'm not giving up custody."
"I can fight you."
"I can remove us to a safer realm where I won't have to fight. Where we can put up a farm and all that." He stared at him. "I can get a way to bring the girls up there to train them." He looked at the feeling of someone walking behind him, smiling. "Morning, Mara." He handed over that information as she sat. "This is Mr. Stark. We're meeting over where I found some kids. Including mine."
She looked then at him. "They're adorable but tiny. Buffy's been having fits on the bulletin board."
"Willow's decided all men are bad again."
"I saw." She smiled. "They've done this before."
"Those sort?" She looked and grimaced. She shook her head. "Okay. One of the officers asked me to talk to the higher ups later tonight. Do you feel comfortable coming to that?"
"Turkey is secular but getting uptight in areas."
He nodded. "We had to remove two from Iran," he said dryly. "And one from Saudi."
She nodded. "I've heard from them. I'm hoping this area will be safe for me."
"I hope so too. The local watcher got my foot up his butt earlier for being one of the old liners that won't change."
"Good. I avoid him." He grinned. She grinned back. "We can talk to them. It would be nice to have people to help me when I have to hunt."
"It's always great to have backup. I train most of the village when I train the girls in Africa. The ones in England trained parts of MI-5 to back her up. The ones in Paris are presently being ignored hard."
She nodded. "I heard. We do love the bulletin board." He grinned. "I'm glad Andrew set it up."
"Me too. You girls need all the support you can get." He handed over the plate of food, letting her nibble. "These are my four."
"Buffy's still heaving a fit."
"Buffy can bark, Mara. I've told her and Willow both that."
"So have most of us. Including that you won't turn into your father or anyone like that."
"No, I hardly ever drink. I'm not turning into the violent drunk. She's the addict, not me." She grinned. "Stark, let's move this to my hotel room?"
"Agreed," he said. He looked at her. "We can escort you."
"That's fine. I'm a modern woman."
"And I'm still the Slayer's Knight," Xander said dryly. "I had one I had to get from Guinea." She shuddered. "Yeah. She's been on there?"
"A few times. She praised you saving her." They cleaned up and Xander took the rest of the food with them for the kids to nibble on later. They cleaned up the table and nodded at the waiter before walking off. Someone scowled at her so Xander scowled back. "He is a relative," she shot back. The woman huffed off. "I hate their ways are getting more common."
"We all do," Stark agreed. Xander nodded. He looked. "I can push."
"If you want," Xander agreed. He let him push the stroller for him while he went over what she had of the modern books. When they got there, there was an officer waiting and he called in that the slayer was there. Xander nodded, patting him on the arm. They went up to the room, leaving the door open for her protection. Pepper Potts came in while they were waiting and cooed over the sleeping kids. Xander grinned at her. "They'll be up in about a half-hour. They only nap about an hour at a time."
"That's cute of them," she said, sitting down. "You're a hard man to find anything about, Mr. Harris."
Xander smiled. "Often. It's probably a good thing." A man wearing a uniform walked in. "Excuse us for a few. We have to go over slayer things if you and Mr. Stark wanted to sit and talk." She nodded, taking the playpen off to the side with Tony. He waved him in. "Come in, Captain?" The man nodded, shutting the door. "I'm Xander Harris, I'm the training watcher over the girls in Africa." He stood up to shake his hand. "The local watcher is an idiot who goes on the old ways. He's tried to hurt her a few times from what I heard so I showed up to check on her." He sat down. "Please, sit. We can talk about her duty and how your people can help her if they want to."
"We would like to handle most of it. Women shouldn't have to fight."
Xander nodded. "Every single one of us who's in the *new* Council want to take the duty from the girls so they're normal and have great lives. It's not something we can do."
"As I understand," he agreed. He looked at her. "We knew someone was hunting the vampire enclave we have."
"I've had a few club hunts but they're hiding outside the city. As I'm not allowed to drive yet, I've done what I could. My father knows of my duty and he hates it but knows it's my choice to take it up and protect my people instead of just my own family."
"That is a decision each of the girls has to make for herself," Xander agreed. "And you're more than allowed to change it at a later date. Go to college, have a family, all that."
The police captain nodded. "That is sensible. We would still like to help her with it."
She smiled. "Backup is always appreciated. Your people can get places I can't because I'm female."
The captain smiled and nodded. "There's that as well."
"I can leave training materials for her to go over with whoever you decide can back her up," Xander said. "Including finding them someone to help them learn how to use a sword and a stake."
The captain nodded. "That would be appreciated."
Xander got up, coming over to adjust one of the kids in the playpen. Then he went to his bag and came up with three books. "These are the three main books we train the girls with when they wish to stay at home. There's special cases that no one hardly ever sees and we have numbers for her to call to find out about if you get one of those strange things. This one is on the lower demons from other realms," he said, handing that one over.
"The vampires, the immigrant demons from other realms, all that. Most of them are peaceful. The local community is very hidden but peaceful and ancient. This is the book on the various summoned sort of demons. They're usually harder to fight, sometimes take some strange skills or unsummoning. In the back is a list of priests, pastors, and three imams who deal with such things." He handed over the third. "This is a battle manual for the various things that we've seen, how we've handled it, and the unusual things we've had crop up.
"One in particular is probably going to be of interest as we're trying to block some guy in Cypriot from Ascending." He turned to that one so they could see it. "He's on the sixth step out of nine for his version. There's a whole book on the seven ways of turning into a rather large pure demon. This one's doing this sort and all of them die by their heads coming off. Just, some are larger than others. The smallest is about forty feet. The largest is close to a hundred." He grinned. "We blew up a high school to kill one."
He looked that over. "Is he able to be taken out?"
"Yes. Up until his last hundred days, when he'll be immortal. On the website we have set up for the slayers, there's a whole section on Ascending demons that she can look at to get the various steps and rituals so you can keep track. The website has all this and more. These are for traveling lightly with reference materials and those areas where there's no computers."
The captain smiled. "That makes much sense."
"We try, the new Council does try." He nodded. He looked at her. "You can call your dad if you want."
"He's pouting. My sister's getting married soon," she said. "If I did, she'd accuse me of trying to steal her attention again."
"Girls fight," Xander said with a nod and a funny look. "The main house is like a sorority and they're always fighting over something. Andrew threatened to film it and sell it the last time they got into a real one." She laughed. "Sixteen girls in one house."
The captain shook his head. "I cannot even imagine."
Xander smiled. "That's why I'm the trainer in Africa." He burst out laughing, clapping Xander on the shoulder. "We are open to hiring local people to be their watchers and helpers for the girl if you know someone who really likes to research and fight."
"I will consider that and talk to the head person over that."
"That would be Rupert Giles. Don't talk to the library ghosts. A few of them are still stuck in the supposedly glorious old ways." He heard the babies fuss and looked back. "That's an 'I need to sit up to burp' from Arlin, Stark." He looked at him again. "I just got custody of my kids."
"That makes much sense. We can work on that and with her." He looked at her, getting a nod. "We will work it out with your father?"
"Please." Xander handed over his card. "I'll call if I have problems instead of Watcher Corlin."
Xander shuddered. "His nephew is in England. He got fired for trying to snatch a baby slayer from her family and then got beaten nearly to death by the demon underground there protecting her. We have good relations with most of the peaceful communities in the world."
"I admire that approach," he agreed. "Will we have a new regional watcher?"
"I'm trying really hard. If you know of one, suggest he meet Rupert. We've got just about a hundred people to fill in where three thousand assholes were." The captain nodded. "So yes, we've hired spouses, we've hired backup hunters, and others. So yes, if you find one who'd like it, talk to Rupert. We've got the training for watchers down to about a year's worth of studying."
"I shall." He shook his hand. "Let me escort her home."
Xander laid a hand on his. "The Council has had to remove some slayers for their own health." He gave him a pointed look. "Should it happen, if you call us we'll come get her and help her get somewhere safer. I'm well aware of why we had to move a baby slayer from Saudi Arabia."
"We would hate to see such things but I know some are like that. We will gladly help her be evacuated."
Xander smiled. "Thank you." He shook his hand. Then he kissed her on both cheeks. "You, be safe. Call me for reports if you want to." She nodded and let the captain take her to talk to her father. Xander sighed, leaning his head back. Then he got up and came back to play with the kids. "Sorry."
"Sometimes you have to handle things," Pepper said.
Xander smiled and nodded. "I seem to do that a lot. It's almost my job description."
She smiled. "I can see that job. I did it for Tony many times." He grinned back. "So, what about her?"
"I don't want her to grow up being the pretty, protected princess in a tower. I want her to grow up to be a real little girl with real little girl ideals and real little girl plots for her future. Preferably without her hunting or being part of the Council."
"We'd like her to be safe," Pepper said.
Xander nodded. "I agree. I also realize that both of our career choices come with some risk of bad guys just suddenly showing up without warning. Mine are usually a lot easier to deal with than Loki. Though I did smack the living shit out of his high priest recently for trying to grope me."
"He has a high priest down here?" Stark demanded.
"Yeah. He's got three. Yolanda, Y'bara, and the dumbass Harold." He grimaced then shrugged.
"What if they start to swear?" Pepper asked.
He grinned at her. "They're going to be taught there's words they cannot say until they're adults. Or until they defeat their first enemy. Swearing and certain phrases to summon slayers are among those."
She nodded. "That seems reasonable."
"I'm swearing a lot less now. I spent the first day after being told to show up where they were made swearing in the jeep. I'm pretty sure some chaos god had to wipe off his ears with the way I was swearing at them."
"You drive a jeep?" she asked.
"I drove a jeep. I've switched it out for a fairly older Range Rover that has air conditioning."
"That's a better vehicle choice," she agreed. "Safer." He nodded. "I'm worried that your job will get her injured. All of them really."
"I'm worried the same way about his jobs, both of them. Because I've seen some greatly huge lab accidents that got reported blowing up the building."
Pepper winced. "I try not to," Stark said.
Xander looked at him. "And yet you did it not three days ago." Stark scowled at him. Xander grinned. "We knew about SHIELD. I did a pretty thorough background check on all the fathers through them. It's not your fault, it's the fault of the people that picked us all. They wanted better soldiers. We're all that sort of guy. Some of us jumped in because they took someone very close to us and the supernatural made their own war, and some of us did it when we found out we were a pawn."
Stark nodded. "Basically."
Pepper cleared her throat. "The demons took someone close to you?"
"He was like my twin in some ways. A vampire turned him." She nodded, looking at the kids. "Jesse's named after him." He grinned at her. "I was sixteen." She slumped. "We all do what we have to do when the time comes. I'm not against you guys having visitation or even partial custody but you're not taking her from me. Not you guys or the other fathers."
"There's other embryos, and you're, what, twenty-five?" Stark asked.
Xander looked at him. "I'm not fertile, Mr. Stark, I haven't been fertile for years. I'm really shocked they got past that to make them. So unless I use some of those stored embryos, they're my only hope of a family. Frankly, I'm pretty sure most of the other parents of those embryos are probably pretty horrified and will want to destroy them. Which I don't blame them for. It's a huge shock."
"Injury?" Pepper asked.
"Non-inherited genetic malformation," Xander said. Stark opened his mouth. "Long story short, there was a problem going on that was changing people into black, slimy creatures back in high school. I went to figure out why. After a full blood transfusion I'm human but I have a few extra chromosomes that I've been told would make it impossible to breed."
"Something like what Dr. Banner went through?" Pepper guessed.
"Mermaids." He grinned. "Our swim coach *really* wanted to win. Who would've guessed the sauna did it to us."
"Mer..." Tony started then shook his head quickly. "Okay." Xander grinned. "Seriously?"
"Can that be fixed?" Tony asked.
"No. Dr. Banner and I talked about that one night when I was getting him to rest after helping most of a village I had just driven into and helped save." He tipped his head up then grinned at her. "He might still think I was a hallucination. He thought I was the next morning when one of the village ladies asked him if I had been helpful to him."
"I'll have to ask Bruce about that," Stark said, staring at him. "How do you do that?"
Xander shrugged. "No clue. Willow used to think I was a probability generator. Now she's back to thinking I'm *normal*, useless, and warping. She and Buffy take those moods. It's why I don't talk to the nagging ones all that often."
"What if you took over training girls somewhere closer to visitation range?" Pepper asked.
"Two small problems. One, no one in the present Council can get to some of the girls. Most of them can't figure out how to travel when it doesn't include first class tickets. Buffy barely managed to get to Bermuda once for a vacation and she had flown before. Roughing it, there's not a chance. Secondly, it'd get me back in range of the nagging which means I'd end up punching someone a whole lot and then I'd get yelled at, fired, and ending up handling things on my own like usual." He grimaced but shrugged. "There's been times I've missed tv, microwave dinners that you only have to go to the freezer for, and candy bars being really close at hand. Unfortunately I'm about the only one who could make it to the backwoods areas of the world. The other one's in Asia."
"If someone like SHIELD had a few agents that wanted to get hired on, could that help?" Pepper asked.
"Yes and no. The girls won't trust them. We're called to it, one way or another. Either it affected us, the old lines were all hereditary, or they're called as slayers. Guys like you guys want to save the world but ours is a constant battle. Even on the minor nights we patrol. The girls in villages patrol the villages overnight. In cities they patrol the places where we've seen activity and in cemeteries to get the vamps as they come up." He shifted, picking up Jesse since he was fussy.
He burped him and he belched then grinned and snuggled in. "I know, you get gas really easy." He looked at them. "We all know to take time off for fun nights, that's why most houses have more than one slayer assigned. That and if it's something huge, they have backup. We'd love to have more backup, but we're probably not going to trust agents doing that. To them it's an annoying job, not the calling we have."
"It's like being a priest vs being a telepreacher," Stark said. Xander nodded. "Some guys would love to step in."
"And we welcome the backup. We've also been burned before. Thanks to that one program we closed, we had Riley Finn helping for a while." He rolled his eye. "He cheated on Buffy and undermined the team a lot. So did the vampires we worked with at times, because to them it was fun usually."
"You worked with vampires?" Pepper asked.
Xander nodded. "Two of them. One was under a soul curse, and the other one that project put a behavior chip in his head so he couldn't hurt humans. Then he ended up with a soul implanted later on."
She gaped then shook her head with a groan. "Oh, that's so wrong."
"Gypsies did the first one's soul curse way back when because he ate the wrong daughter," Xander said. "Willow just restuck it. Spike took his because he thought he loved Buffy. I'm told they both died during the thing in LA recently." She slumped. He stared at her. "I spent years staking people I used to know. Vampires like them younger so they looked better to hunt for food. They picked on the high school and the college kids." Stark shook his head, looking at his daughter. "While I'd love to go to a normal house with some of the girls, it's not looking like it'll happen anytime soon."
"What about the kids?" Pepper asked.
"Hopefully by the time they realize why I am sometimes injured or wonder about the missing eye I'll have trained a protege to take over for me. Yeah, I've already done paperwork that if I'm seriously injured or killed, the kids go to their other parents. I've filed that with the demon courts, there's a copy in Cleveland's courts, and I keep one in the glovebox with a copy of who their other fathers are."
"I can make sure she's always protected. They all can be."
Xander stared at him. "Then I'd never get to see them. And you can't guarantee someone won't come for them to use against you two. You're in the same position I am only you've got more tech and a faster way to travel. Some day I'll have to give up this life and retire. Are you willing to do the same thing?"
Stark slowly shook his head. "You'd still jump in if the end of the world was coming. The same as I would." Xander nodded. "We're both screwed then."
"Yup," Xander agreed. He smiled. "I'm willing to work things out. I'm not being mean. I'll gladly share her with you. Or all of them if you want to visit the other three. The kids could all use great role models." Stark looked at him. "I'll gladly share her with you but I'm going to be there."
"I get that," Pepper agreed. "I'm not sure how we'd get her back and forth from the backwoods of Africa."
"There are planes," Xander said with a grin. "I can maybe ask for a favor now and then to teleport her to you."
"That sounds really dangerous," Pepper said.
"Are there others that know about this mystical bullshit?" Tony demanded.
"Yeah. Including a sorcerer that SHIELD knows about. He hates Willow like hell. Thinks I'm playing and that it's his job to handle these things. Then again he can't handle things like we do. I'm pretty sure he showed up in LA and got knocked out by a slayer. The bulletin board had a few girls complaining about him nagging them about their duty. I really need to introduce him to people who can explain things to him." He sent a text message, getting an agreement back. "One of the demon councils can explain to him why there's more powerful magic users down here and how he's being a dick."
"Do the kids talk?" Pepper asked. "I've only heard cooing."
"They weren't interested in teaching them to talk," Xander told her. "I've been working on it." She nodded. "I just really need to make sure that was their only lab and they're not going to get to try again. Otherwise I will raise that one embryo that's half mine and Andrew's to defeat them. His power of geek and mine? She'll take over the world." He grinned at Stark.
"I've researched Mr. Wells." Xander laughed. "Yeah.... The other two?"
Xander lost the humor. "Willow killed Warren when he killed her girlfriend. That's when she was grieving and nearly suicidal. Andrew got tricked into killing Jonathan by the First Evil."
"Poor guy," Pepper said. Xander nodded. "At least he's found a good spot to heal from and move on."
"I'm hoping they're treating him good," Xander said. "I have no idea. I don't talk to the main house all that often."
She nodded. "I can see why. We did talk to Willow." He snorted.
"Definitely," Stark agreed. He picked up his daughter, staring at her. She stared back then reached over to pet his hair. "You can do that. I'm your other dad." She grinned and patted harder. He looked at Xander. "I'm not against switching off. What if we're both injured or dead after something?"
"My will gives her to you or whoever your will assigns. I figure if I'm dead most of the people I work with and would trust with her would be dead too. Otherwise I'd probably give her to Andrew."
Pepper nodded. "That's reasonable. Are they legal everywhere?"
Xander nodded. "As far as I can tell."
"Good." She smiled. "I can make sure his will states something reasonable."
Tony looked at her. "You, Happy, Rhodey." She nodded. "If we have to, Steve."
"I can make that note," she promised. He grinned at the baby. "You're a good girl."
"She tries but now and then she'll lean over to bite Arlin," Xander said. Someone pounded on the door. He got up to answer it, staring at the hotel worker. "Yes?"
"Are you gay?"
"Someone in a lab made me a kid with him," he said with a shrug. "We're settling custody stuff. The US government is in a sneering fit over them doing that. They wanted better soldiers. What better one than the White Knight of Kafka." The guy's eyes went wide. Xander grinned. "So we're working on custody. You can tell the nosy ones that." He nodded, looking down. "You have a good day." He gently closed the door, shaking his head on the way back. "Cuddles, guys?" They let him pick them up to cuddle. Joyceline pouted at him. "Cuddle him. He cuddles really nicely." She cuddled in and waved at Pepper, who smiled and waved back. "I got asked that a few days ago in Oman. The agents that tried to stop me from coming in were horrified that one of the scientists doing this was in their country now doing the same thing." He grinned. "They were real displeased."
"I'm real displeased they're alive," Tony said. Pepper nodded to back that up.
"Me too. Unfortunately I'm not the sort to walk into a lab and start shooting for making me kids. Well, unless it's been a hugely bad week with multiple battles." Stark stared at him. "There's been those weeks."
"We'll babysit those weeks," Pepper said.
Xander smiled. "Thanks. I'll see if the coven can make sure they get to you safely so they don't have to fly." He looked up while touching his pendant. "Hilda? Call me please?" he called. A mirror lit up near them. "Hey."
"Xander, huge problems?"
"Two. I just got asked again if I was a gay daddy." She rolled her eyes. "Secondly, these are Joyceline's other parent and his CEO." She stared at Stark then at him. "Can we make sure if something happens the kids get to him? There's paperwork laying in a few places to give them to the other parents if I fall."
"I can make sure they can be evacuated. You know Willow's still screaming, correct?"
"I know she's whining about things that don't concern her. Not like those science nerds created her kids. I'm pretty sure they decided she's scary again since she tried to curse me and the kids to die by summoning something again yesterday." He stared at her. She winced. "Thankfully it's one that I earned respect from for what I've been doing in Africa. She only cooed over the kids and told me they'd be great Knights some day if they chose."
"It's good they'll have the choice. It means humanity will keep going." She sipped her tea. "We'll talk to the young woman again."
"Can you have her go against that sorcerer guy who thinks he's so hot?" He smirked. "I heard he tried to get into the battle I wasn't recalled for."
"They wanted you and them safe."
Xander grabbed his laptop and sat up, pulling up footage to show her. "This is what I was doing the day before. Without half the slayers in the universe." Hilda stared, eyebrow slowly going up then she threw the cup she had been drinking from. Xander grinned. "So can you set her on that sorcerer guy who thinks it's his job to handle demons when he doesn't outside one class of them?"
"Definitely. It'd be a charming talk we'd all like to witness," another witch said, coming over. "Awww. What did you decide to name them?"
"That's Joyceline with her daddy and this is her daddy's CEO and best friend. That is Arlin, Jesse, and Henry."
"Awww. They're future adorable hellions, Xander."
"I wanted to make sure someone could evacuate them to at least this Daddy. I've got copies of my will and things that hand them to their other parents if I fall."
"We can definitely arrange that. When will you be in range of one of us?"
"Next month when I have to go handle something in Germany?"
"We have that covered with Faith's team. Where are you right now?"
She nodded. "We have a coven member down there on vacation to visit her granddaughter while convincing her to come home as the region's so dangerous. I'll have her pop around?"
"I'll be here tomorrow and the next day, pending someone throwing a fit that I have kids," he said, getting up to get that file and answer the door when someone pounded on it. He held up the file. "On the people who made my children for me." He snatched it and read, then groaned. "So I'm working out custody," he said, taking it back with a grin. "I'm a pretty good dad and one of the workers decided me being a good dad made me gay."
"So he said," he complained. "That's fine, Watcher Harris." Xander smiled, letting him see the babies. "They look healthy."
"They are. I'm arranging things so their other parents can have visitation."
"An excellent idea with what you handle. I'll calm them down."
"Thank you. I know one of the scientists was found in Oman. I was there yesterday for a regional watcher meeting." He leaned on the doorway. "I'm told they found him and got *real* mad at him for this sort of thing."
"As would we. Can one of our agents look that over?"
Xander nodded. "I don't want them able to do it again. They found nearly a hundred embryos with my name on them and these four of the ten already born."
The officer shuddered. "Oh, dear."
"Yeah. We'd love to have them not able to do that again."
"Agreed. I'll talk to someone about that." He nodded at Stark and left.
Xander handed over the file. "I'm not sure if you have more than that or not."
"Probably." He looked it over. "We hadn't seen one in Oman. That's got a few extra names."
"That figures," Pepper sighed. Xander picked up the playpen to take the kids to change the smelly things. She looked at the witch. "He does seem well able to handle it."
"He does. We're all happy that Xander has a grounding influence and an anchor so he quits walking into battles." She finished her tea. "I'll have the same witch put the markers on you both so the darling can be gotten to you, Ms. Potts. Let me call her." She hung up and went to talk to that coven member. "Xander really is doing better than we thought he would," she said to the other witch, who nodded back.
Xander came out with the playpen of happy kids, letting them down to crawl around. Joyceline got put onto the floor too and she went to look out the window. "She likes birds."
"I'll warn Barton," he joked.
Xander smiled. "She'd love more fussy people who'd read to her."
"I know a great many fussy people who might like to read to her. Or tell her stories in Thor's case," Pepper said with a smile at the young girl. "What about dressing her like a little girl?"
Xander cleared his throat. "There's places where that would put her into more danger, Ms. Potts," he said quietly. "The ones that found the lab thought they had found that sort and were going to take them out." She nodded but shuddered. "Exactly. When it's more obvious then we'll handle it appropriately for wherever we are. She's not going to be any more or any less than the boys if I can help it. Even if she does love rainbows and kitties, she'll still be taught to defend herself and all that."
"Good. Strong women are needed in today's world." She smiled at the baby that crawled into her leg then grinned at her. "You're adorable, Arlin." He patted her skirt then crawled off to get the food he saw on the table. Xander put it down for them all, turning Jesse around so he spotted it too. The kids settled in to nibble while the adults talked.
Xander walked into the village, seeing the upset looks. "What?" he asked, settling the stroller beside where he usually sat. "Did something happen to her?"
"Why do you have children!" one of the women complained.
"Because some idiots decided to make me children without my help. It was me raising them or the idiots who wanted to turn them evil doing it."
She blinked. "Why would they do that?"
"Because they wanted better soldiers." He shrugged. "We're doing okay right now. They're good kids and we're all handling it better."
She stared at him. "You're a man."
"Many men raise their children. What do those who had wives die do?" he asked.
"They get married," another older woman joked. "You could, Xander."
"I can't. Not right now. I'd only marry if I found someone I liked after seeing them for a long time. That's how we do that in the US."
The women both sighed, shaking their heads. They pulled the children over to talk to them with their babies. "They don't speak?"
He grimaced. "The one who made them didn't want them to. We're working on it. They're up to happy babbling at things. Nearly talking. They can walk." The women nodded, pulling them down to play with the other children in the village. The women looked at the single daughter then at him. "She'll be raised just like the boys will and the slayers are. She'll be able to defend herself and all that. Plus be as girly as she wants when she's older."
They smiled, letting their children teach the new ones. They all loved that. Xander settled in to help the older kids learn things while his trainee slayer finally got out of bed.
Stark met with the other three fathers of the kids, staring at them. "Have any of you heard from agents? Or someone named Xander Harris?"
One frowned at him. "I know of Xander."
"Have you seen him since he found a lab about a month ago?" Tony asked.
He shook his head. "I haven't." He texted his assistant then sat up, staring at him. "They did *what*?" he demanded.
Tony put up the information. "We're actively looking for these scientists who made us all parents with Mr. Harris." He smirked. "I've met my daughter and we're working on visitation agreements. He said he wanted to keep custody."
"Why is this important?" one asked.
"You have a son," Tony told him. He got growled at. "A crackhead scientist made you a son with this nice guy who battles demons." That one huffed. "Right now he's handling it all right but he was going to let you guys find out and come to him if you wanted to talk about visitation."
The one who knew Xander grimaced. "That is very like Xander. He is noble beyond a fault."
"Do I know of this one?" the other man asked.
"The one who fought that battle last week in Angola," the one who knew Xander said.
He sat up. "The new watcher one?" Tony nodded. "Why would they make children of him?"
"They wanted better soldiers," Tony said dryly.
"Xander is as noble as your coworker in the spangly suit," the one who knew him said. "We have sons?"
"You three have sons, I have a daughter." They nodded. He pointed at each one. "Arlin, Jesse, and Henry."
"I do not like that name," the third one complained.
"The ones who made them didn't name them. Xander named them. Jesse is named after a friend he misses. My daughter's named after a woman who was like a mother to him. Right now, he wants to set up visitation agreements."
The one who knew Xander nodded. "Is that why some of my contacts have been warning about Rosenburg having fits again?"
"She's went on a rampage to take the kids from Xander for some reason. We're not sure why but he seems to be handling it well enough. He has ideas."
"He often does and sometimes they're good ones," the one who knew him said with a smirk. He called him. "Xander, it's Paulo," he said smoothly. He heard the quiet word. "I did find out. You were going to tell me when?" He nodded. "That's a good time, yes. I was going to be there in about two weeks so we could talk in person. I'm with the other fathers as well. Two I know are going to be at that meeting. The other's...not in the life that would be welcome there."
"I have formal paperwork drawn up for my daughter," Tony said.
He nodded, repeating that. He smiled. "That would be darling of you, Xander. Why were you going to be there.... oh, there is? When?" He made a note and slid it over to the man on his right. "All right, that makes sense. Were the children going to watch you blow up that one?" He smiled. "That would be a good time to take visitation, yes. We will work that out with you when we get there in two weeks. Thank you for trying to not shock us, Xander. No, we're not having fits.
"Though we want to know everything about who did this." Tony slid over a folder. "Mr. Stark has it. Excellent. We'll see you all in two weeks." He hung up, taking the file to look over. "Hmm. Two have been captured. The rest are somewhere and I recognize one's name as someone who is employed by Denmark." The others took the file to look over. He looked at Stark. "I can bring the custody papers with me if you wish."
"I wouldn't mind. What's going on now?"
"He found out someone else is ascending and I'm told that's a horrible thing," the one who knew Xander said bluntly. "He's got to handle it since he's in his immortal phase."
"I looked at the slayer's website. That's a really nasty thing. They have film from the one at his graduation."
Paulo nodded. "I've seen. Thanks anyway." He looked at the others. "He was going to show up at the meeting in a few weeks to talk to us. He knew I'd be there and he expected at least one of you two to be there." They nodded. "They're all under two years old. They're not verbal from what he said, but that was because they didn't want them to be mouthy like Xander is. They found others," he said, staring at Stark.
Who smirked and pulled up that file on who the other kids had as parents. "Plus embryos. A lot of embryos."
Paulo stared at the list, then nodded once. "My older brother is going to not save me any to destroy."
"Neither will Heiners," the third one sighed.
Paulo nodded. "That's my older brother." Stark grinned. "Thank you for breaking the news gently, Mr. Stark. I'll gladly carry those papers to him."
"Avoid Rosenburg," he warned quietly. "She's still throwing fits about Xander having kids."
"It's a good piece of life advice anyway," Paulo said. "She's a bit...odd." He stood up. "If you'll send me those papers I'll bring them with me. Thank you for informing us gently. I can only imagine the screaming that'll be coming."
Stark handed over an envelope. "Thank you. Pepper was charmed with them."
"She's a very womanly woman. Kids do that to their minds," the second one said, leaving with the information. He went back to his agency. The other two went to talk to their minions. He walked into his row and glared at his boss. "We have to talk. Now." Gibbs nodded, following him to the elevator. He handed over the file. "Someone made me a son, Boss. Some weird little scientist that the Army didn't manage to lock up made me a son with one of the Council people."
Gibbs looked at that file then at him. "Can we find them?"
"He's got the kids. All four. Stark told me. Us. Harris is offering visitation but he wants custody."
"He's the missing one. He's the guy training the slayers in Africa and why Rosenburg went back to Devon in chains and sedated."
"Okay," Gibbs said, nodding. "Who is handling this?"
"I don't know. Is that in there?"
"No." He looked at him. "Can you ask Stark which agents are overseeing it?" Tony called his office to talk to Ms. Potts since she knew. She told him who had the embryos, who had the other files, and that Xander was a good man but a bit hopeful about raising four kids in the bush. He thanked her and hung up. "SHIELD."
Gibbs blinked then nodded. "Weird terrorism things are their job." They went down to the car lot and headed for the parking lot. Gibbs got in to drive. Tony read the file over again on the way to their fancy, shiny building. They got escorted in and to a higher office when they showed they had a file of theirs. "You are?" Gibbs demanded.
He smirked. "I'm Director Nick Fury, Special Agent Gibbs and DiNozzo. What's happened that brought NCIS to our office?" Tony tossed the file onto the desk. "Oh, that clusterfuck." He stared at him. "Your name's on one of the embryos?"
"My name's on a DNA test to a kid named Arlin. Plus some embryos."
"Oh, that group." Fury grimaced but nodded. "Harris is a good man. He's a lot like one of mine."
"Who did this?" Gibbs demanded calmly. "I think we'd like to talk to them. Especially if they were military."
"Some were Army from a special project. They're in jail for real this time. Last time a few got shadow sentences and a new lab." Fury looked outside then at them. "The rest are agents in other countries that we're still trying to figure out what they were thinking. Their higher ups are very confused. We did confiscate the embryos. We're taking disposal orders if you want us to. If not, we can coordinate handing them to a storage facility of your choice. People have tried to pressure us about them but it hasn't worked yet."
Tony took a calming breath then nodded. "Why me?"
"No clue," Fury said. "All we can find out is that they wanted to build better soldiers. As far as we know they didn't do any tampering outside of taking out a genetic instability of Harris'. He got exposed to a bit of demon blood when he was younger and it added a chromosome," he said at the hard looks.
"Good to know," Gibbs said. "Does he know?"
"Yeah. He thought he couldn't have kids before this. He's really happy to be a dad. He's said he's willing to set up visitation."
Tony grimaced. "I'm not sure how that'll work with him in Africa and me here in DC."
"Neither's he," Fury admitted. "I can give you information on him. He said he didn't mind when an agent asked him about giving it to the other fathers."
Gibbs nodded. "That'd be appreciated. How many others know?"
"Your director tried to get them from us," Fury said dryly, smirking at him. "I told her to go sit in a corner and grow the fuck up."
Tony laughed. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Agent Hill would've ripped her head off. She doesn't like women pretending to have authority and power getting in her face."
A woman leaned in. "Harris just called in a vision. During the next eclipse in three days we have a human going ascending demon."
"Who had it?" Fury demanded, turning to his computer.
"Since when did he have visions!" Fury demanded, standing up to stare at her.
"Since his eye got popped. This is his fourth one and the other three were right, Director. He's handling the one that's turning down there a few hours later when it hits there." Fury grimaced. "He said it's not a member of Congress but someone in the power behind them, he wasn't sure but that's what he saw." Fury grimaced but nodded. "He also reported seeing something about Spain, he thinks. He said it looked like a postcard of Spain he saw online once. That one's a summoning, not an ascending one, and probably just about as nasty."
"He's not sure it's Spain?" Fury asked.
"He's never been to Spain or seen anything on Spain outside that postcard. Not like his family traveled, sir," she said. "He laid over in England and then Italy on his way to Africa."
"Great." He stared at her. "Can we corroborate?"
"The description of the one here is being searched. By the description we have three possibles so far but another hour for it to finish searching the DMV files. The one in Spain they were in robes and he couldn't see anyone. He saw the rite. We've contacted Mr. Giles and he's in 'oh, dear Lord' land while he looks it up because it sounded familiar yet horrible."
Fury grimaced but nodded. "The one down there?"
"He heard late. In the immortal times."
"He said he was handling that after the arms dealer meeting the others were going to soon," Tony said.
Hill nodded. "That's not the same timeline."
"Is the eclipse here the same as it is there?" Tony asked. "I know they happen in a certain area of the world."
She turned her head. "Someone look up when the eclipses in Africa and here in the US are," she called. "I need a list for the rest of this year." One got printed off the web for her. She came in reading it, handing it over. "We're due one in three days. They're due one in about a month. The ascension page lists a hundred days of immortality to make the final change."
"What's an ascension and can we help?" Gibbs asked.
She looked at them. "It's the nastiest thing you'll hopefully ever see, Special Agent Gibbs."
"It's a human turning into a large demon," Fury said. "So it can eat people, get stronger, and gather more power."
"You have to blow off the head," Hill said.
"Is he planning on bringing the kids near there?" Tony demanded.
"No. He's not planning on bringing any of the slayers or the kids with him. He's told the local military so they can plan to handle it," Hill said. "He'll be watching in case they need more help or something else shows up with the two senior slayers in Africa. The kids will probably be in the car and will coo at the weapons. They're his kids and he does like weapons." She walked off.
"The boy ran into an arms dealer, won three pieces of artillery at poker, took them outside that night, and blew up the demon showing up to try to take souls," Fury told them. "Then he kept the one he didn't use to pet and keep until they needed it. The arms dealer gave him a few more in thanks. Then they screwed like wild dogs from what we were told."
Gibbs shook his head. "The boy's insane."
"As he put it, they made their own war with him and now he's going to finish it," Fury said. "The boy reminds me a lot of some of mine." He nodded at the agent in the doorway. "What?"
"Priority call from the field, sir. Would only talk to you." Fury nodded, putting on his headset and walking off to take it in the hallway. He smiled at the agents. "Should I get you two coffee?"
"Hopefully we won't need too much more time," Gibbs said. "We know you guys are busy, just like we are at NCIS." Fury stomped back in. "We can go over the boy later if you need us to," he offered.
"Same kid just found a dirty agent," Fury said. He typed into his system, looking up the file he had been told to look at. It was locked to him by his own ID. He couldn't break it.
Gibbs and Tony stood up. "We'll come back when things are solved," Tony said. "Thank you for the help, Director."
Fury looked at them. "Just let Harris stay calm. If he panics he's promised to take the kids off realm to protect them from everyone."
"We can do that," Gibbs said. "Thank you." They left, going to talk in the car.
Fury got back to looking at that very wrong file and what had caused it. He didn't want dirty agents in his agency.
Xander walked his stroller up to a man he had seen on tv, nodding at the general beside him. "Thank you." He shook his hand. Then he looked at the man. "Did he tell you who I am?"
"You're our local watcher. We're having a problem soon I know."
"There's a bigger problem that's been seen by some of us. Unfortunately I have no way of contacting the people who could stop it." He pulled out a file to hand to him. "That has to get to the US Vice President, because the President himself is compromised by the same people, as well as a lot of US agents, or it has to get to Director Nick Fury of SHIELD. Unfortunately the ones who made the kids for me are sleeper agents in the US." The general gave him an odd look. Xander showed him the file on the kids. "I found one's new lab and questioned him before your people came to get him for me. They're restarting a bad group that was part of World War II. They were going to use the kids to breed better soldiers and then use the same formula they used on Captain America on them."
"I thought he was propaganda," that president said.
Xander pulled up a file to show them. "They found him. He was basically cryogenically frozen. SHIELD brought him back." The president moaned. "I don't particularly want to do this information this way, but there's no other real choice. The order to use my sperm came from the US president. Directly. That lab's able to be stripped of information but the worse thing is they're playing with mystical forces. The same thing that started the invasion in New York? It's in their hands. In Europe."
"So if we can't stop them we're going to have another battle like that," the general said.
"Worse. From what I've seen a good quarter of every US agency is dirty to the same people. They've been planning hard. They have weapons of mass destruction. I'm not sure which ones though." That got a nod. "It has to get to Nick Fury at SHIELD or the US VP. Or both if you can." He looked down at the sleepy kids then at him. I tried to send information at a sideways path and they're blocked too. The phone line got mysteriously cut when I called to talk about my daughter with the other father."
"I can diplomatically call," the president said. "Thank you for trying to keep this down."
"I don't want to see World War II being called back with aliens this time." He nodded. "Thank you." He walked the kids off. He had to get the slayers out of harm's way.
The general nodded, escorting the president back to his office to call. Nick Fury wasn't near a phone somehow. The US VP was sick at home in bed. The general started to look into their people to see who might be compromised. It turned out they had a lot of them and they tried to attack them. Xander showed up to help them, then faded off into the night.
Willow appeared in front of Stark that night. "Xander found information that there's a ton of dirty agents," she said in greeting. She tossed over the keydrive. He ran it. "Including the ones surrounding you and your teammates. He tried to call earlier and they cut off the contact." Tony grimaced. "They have some sort of mass weapon."
"I can tell that," he said, looking at her. "Are your girls moved?"
She shook her head. "Why would we?"
"Because the way that works is they can focus the weapon on hundreds of people every second, Rosenburg. Your girls are in their way." She nodded, stiffening up. "Get them to a security fall back."
"I can do that. Can you spread that?"
"Yes I can." She disappeared. He started with one. "Cap, Stark. Come home now. We just found out most of your team are dirty agents. They're there to take you out. They're reviving HYDRA. Trust Natasha and no one else. Your second-in-command Rumslow is a section leader of HYDRA." He got a grunt back then Steve hit something. "SHIELD's covered in deep shit right now and I'm seeing names from other agencies. Be safe and be crafty." He hung up and called another number. "Hill, come see me now. Yes it's damn important. Like you guys have a ton of dirty agents thanks to HYDRA restarting? Up to the US president, Hill. Right now would be good." He hung up and saved the files to a few places then hid the rest of them. He had hidden archives no one could get to. The last file on the drive made him stare. //Do not start Ultron. It's a trap like Hal.// "Hmm." He saved that too.
Xander looked at the member of the coven he was SKYPEing. "Mystical artifacts are in evil hands," he said.
She grimaced. "So dramatic suddenly?"
"The staff, the glowy one that Loki had, it's in Nazi hands. Someone restarted HYDRA. Or they've just been hidden. It's been taken from SHIELD. It's in Europe and I don't know where. They've got some sort of weapon that can target thousands at a time to remove them. We're all on the list." She grimaced but nodded. "If they have Loki's staff and that thing, what do you think will happen?"
"For their benefit."
"Can you pinpoint it?"
"A lab. I know it's Europe and the head guy sounded German. He was fondling it but had gloves on."
She nodded. "We can do a searching. That staff should leave a huge energy spike."
"Take all the precautions you have, ladies. They were starting with the mystical back then too." She nodded and hung up. He sighed and called someone else. "I hate you but you're a good tool since Loki's staff is somewhere bad. The witches might need help."
"Pleasure to see you as well," she said. "How nice of you to call."
"Cut the shit, Melinda. SHIELD's core rotted with HYDRA. They have Loki's staff." She winced. "The US president is rotten. He was behind making me kids." He grinned. "I doubt those embryos are still in SHIELD's lab."
"I can check. I have a direct line to Fury."
"Until they take him out." She winced again. "Call Mystra. I laid all the information on her to hide but it's not the only copy. The girls are moving. The witches are moving. We're talking a quarter of all agents are dirty. Plus at least half of your people."
She nodded. "Understood. I'll get that from her or whoever as soon as I hang up. What are you doing?"
"I'm going to be an asshole," he said with a grin then hung up. He went to talk to a contact with the kids. The dwarf stared at him oddly. "I need to call in that favor you owe me." He put the kids in front of him. "Someone's got Loki's staff. Someone evil. They're going after mystical artifacts."
"We can help you gather them."
"They'd destroy you."
"They could. That one especially if rumors are true about what it is."
"I can get it. I can get the Staff of Anger thingy that's broken apart. I can't do that with my children with me. Can you watch them and have your clansmen watch the slayers?"
"Yes. That is a worthy quest. There will be many battles to earn honor in."
"With the slayers? Yup. It won't take me over two days," Xander said. "I have help." He grinned. He handed over the diaper bag. "Papers are in there in case I die." The dwarf nodded, taking the children to his house. Xander armed himself from his supplies and looked up. "Favor's due," he called. "And it's this or the world all dies." The demon appeared. "You heard?"
"I did. I can get you there but it's not that simple."
Xander checked his guns. "I know." He pulled out a few goodies and held them up, making the demon moan. "I can't let that fall into bad hands. Not the Council's, not anyone's."
"Agreed. Are you ready?"
"Yes." They took him to the first section of the Staff of Anger. Xander found it easily enough and could handle the rage. The other parts as well. That helped him when he landed at that base to get the staff. He was tired but it was a necessary thing and he had fought worse battles while exhausted. He nodded at someone he recognized. "Don't mind me. It's too dangerous to leave in mortal hands."
"The glowy stick of destiny?" Clint joked.
"Yup." He beat another guard and they moved forward. Xander grabbed it away from Clint. "If you touch it, it can summon him back to take you over again," he warned. Around him a breeze was cropping up. "No. We're not going to talk to Thanos and I'm not going to let that happen." He looked up. "Fuck you." He looked around then at Clint. He used the staff to destroy the base and anyone who wasn't a victim or innocent of HYDRA's crimes. That left a few victims. He nodded at them. "Guys, go with Clint. He can get you somewhere safe." He looked at Clint. "When Thor gets back, I'll give it to him. For now, it's going to protect the slayers." He bowed and left. The three high priests were waiting on him. "We're protecting the innocent and the slayers. Not even chaos gods want HYDRA in charge. Even Loki wouldn't like them."
"Yes, Sire," one said, looking at him. "Is that a...."
"Don't ask. I need to go rescue the kids' sitters. They're being watched by some dwarves I know. My kids will seriously warp them." He went to gather them, smiling at the staring dwarf. "How bad were they?"
"They were angelic, Xander. Are you sure you want to keep that?"
"It'll protect the slayers. When Thor gets here I'll give it to him." He grinned and disappeared with the kids. "Ah." He settled in, calling a slayer to him. He stared at her. "Tell them I'm protecting from the outside. Tell Willow to quit tracking me because they can track her back." She nodded, biting her lip. "Go." She ran off to go back to them. A demon contact took her and nodded at Buffy when they landed. Xander relaxed. "Okay, people, let's hunker down. This is tragically stupid in the making even if they don't destroy the US." They nodded.
Clint got back to the base. "I ran into Harris. He captured Loki's staff to protect the slayers."
Stark looked at him. "What?"
"He also said if touched it, it'd summon Loki back. He'll hand it to Thor when this is done."
Stark dropped his pencil. "He can't hope to use it."
"He can. It's got an independent power source by what they found out. We also have victims that I got to someone I trust to be safe." He let Stark have the paperwork. "He had some other artifact that made him stronger but mad."
"Like losing his mind?" Stark asked.
"No, like he should've Hulked out."
"Great," he said. "Okay." He looked that over, finding something. "Who is Grant Ward and why are they counting on him to take out a Cavalry?"
"Cavalry is Agent May's codename. She's another of Coulson's trainees." He called her. "It's Barton. We have new intel and HYDRA is using Ward to control you." He listened. "Is that...." He sucked in a breath. "We'll talk later, May. Get here without Ward. And yeah, bring the shade." He hung up then threw the phone. "Coulson's alive."
Stark gaped then cleared his throat. "How?"
"Don't know. Heard him behind May." He looked up. "JARVIS, I need Natasha."
She came off the elevator, staring at him. "You missed?"
"No. Harris has the staff to protect the slayers. He said he'll hand it to Thor. HYDRA is trying to take out May and I just heard Coulson's voice behind her giving orders."
She stared at him. "Interesting to note. A tape?"
"No. He told her to take the phone call away from him before I heard him."
She nodded. "We can find out."
"Ward is HYDRA."
"He may be useful then." She helped Stark look up Melinda's location. "Interesting plan. Command plane." She looked at Clint, who smirked coldly. "We can handle that."
"Bring him here," Stark ordered. "Cap?"
"Good. Brief him?" They nodded, going to do that. Stark called Harris. "Why are you using that staff?" He listened. "Really? Can you do that and not get warped?" He listened to the real facts, wincing. "The kids?" He tickled one, making him giggle. "Are they safe around that?" He sighed. "Okay. We need you here. No, I can't.... Good point, they'd use you to track us or the slayers. Okay. Now what do you have planned so we can go around it?" He listened to the simple idea.
"I can do that. Let me know daily, Harris, and if it's too much let me know. I will be taking those kids if the staff turns you evil like Loki." He hung up before he threw that phone. Steve came off the elevator alone. "They told you?" He nodded. "The staff's being used to hold up protections around the slayers. It's got an independent power source. He thinks Thor's going to react without thinking. Which is why he has the other staff. The kids are fine. Right now he knows how bad this is."
"How bad and how did HYDRA reform?"
"It may not have died," Stark said. "The US did take in scientists after the war so they didn't go to Russia. At least one was HYDRA by my father's notes." He let him see it.
"Yeah, he was the guy behind the Red Skull." They shared a look. "Can we get to Thor before he tries to smite the slayers or Harris?"
"Yes. Maybe. Foster's trying."
Willow appeared, shaking her head. "The bifrost's still broken. We can get word up there but it may not reach him within days. Though there's one chance and the only one who can contact her is an Agent Coulson?"
"He's dead," Steve said.
"Clint heard him. He's with Agent May and has a HYDRA goon on board to stop them." Stark stared at him. "They're going to bring him here."
"I like that idea," Steve said. "Any idea how?"
"I'm sensing the hand of Fury," Stark said dryly. He looked at Willow. "Any other way to reach her?"
"Only an Asgardian or one blessed to her could."
"Would Thor's girlfriend help?" Steve asked.
"But her assistant is Thor's adopted little sister," Stark said with a grin. "He told us about her and Jane."
"That could do it," Willow said. "Where are they?"
"Xander's there. Then maybe he can talk to her. We're all in hiding. Don't worry about us, Mr. Stark. Just get the bad guys down this time before we have an invasion again or something equally nasty." She disappeared, going to a few places before back near the coven, and that last part she drove.
Stark and Steve shared a look then Steve nodded, calling Natasha. "We need Coulson and however he can get hold of an Asgardian. As soon as possible." He hung up, looking over the plans.
One Little, Two Little, Three Little Knights, Four Little, Five Little, Six Little Xanders.