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For Want of Something Done.

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Happy Valentine's Day, my people. Or Singles Appreciation Day if you're that sort.
Started November 5, 2015

Note: canonical death of major Angel character off screen.



For Want of Something Done.



Xander looked at the girls who had just put him down, again. "Sure, I'll be fray adjacent this time. Maybe this time I won't stop the guys who're going to blow you and the school up." He walked off. He was done. Totally done. So totally done with all this shit. He didn't care if they died. Maybe some day he'd regret this but not anytime soon he was sure. He had ideas of what he was going to be doing when he left, it had just moved up his timetable.

He could totally survive somewhere else and probably thrive without all this shit piled on top of him by females. Maybe he'd think about guys instead while he was gone. They might be more sane around him. He hadn't had a guy around him since Jesse had been turned. It might be nice to have guy friends and guys he hung around with, all that. It'd certainly be more sane since guys didn't suddenly turn on you for not having special skills.

Though, the girls had underestimated him a lot. Special powers no. Special knowledge yes, and possibly a bit more if he could get three books to go with him. Not like he hadn't learned how to research over the last few years. He could definitely make an impression.

***

Six weeks later, Xander put the first research kit out on the internet. "Long live Amazon," he muttered as he hit 'sell'. "We'll see what came of it in a few days." Until then he was working a mundane job. It wasn't exciting but it paid the bills until he got better paychecks coming in. It also paid better than working minimum wage in Sunnydale. It seemed the rest of the world had a higher minimum wage than Sunnydale did.

He sent a note to someone he knew who had worked in minimum skilled jobs for years with a copy of the poster his current job had on the wall about how much minimum wage was in California. Maybe it'd help the poor guy who only wanted something menial to pay the bills but give him plenty of time to play around. Xander got dressed and left his efficiency motel room for his nightshift job of bouncing at a club. They hadn't cared he wasn't eighteen. They hadn't asked and hadn't said anything about his license when they copied it for the records. That was a great benefit of knowing how to find the underground in any city.

***

Xander answered the angry email from someone who had bought his first kit. "I'm sorry, can you not read?" he muttered as he typed something more polite. "It said you had to add in the two cups of sugar to the potion because the sugar would go stale and clump up by the time it was shipped to you. That would make it explode instead of summoning that djinn. It clearly says that on the online picture of the first page and the first page of the kit, which included all that was included in the package.

"If you couldn't read it then you should've had someone read it to you," he finished, typing in just that. Then he filed a grievance for the bad comments. "What an idiot. Though it's lazy, evil sorts who don't do their own research," he decided. "The other three who had bought the kit didn't have that problem. One had misjudged the clearance of his basement ceiling and had made the djinn mad, but it had worked because he read the instructions.

Xander made sure his next kit was completely together and added that to his list of selling items, then got to work on his third one. It was an apocalypse in a box, not merely a 'summon a helpful demon in a box' like the other two had been. Since he knew the Mayor in Sunnydale was trying something maybe he'd get someone to counter his with their attempts. There were a few people in Sunnydale he hadn't wanted to die yet. He had sent them little notes telling them to avoid graduation and to hide. It could only help create less of a mess that day.

***

Six weeks later, Xander was looking at his helpful demon who he had summoned by accident while researching it. He shrugged. The demon grimaced. "It's nice they survived."

"It is. It also shut down a longer term project that was bothering the demon community." The demon grimaced. "When are you going to call on me for help so I can go home? My lover's got to be pissy by now, Harris."

Xander grinned. "I told you what I wanted."

"I can't give you a how to manual so you can create more summoning packs. Though it's a good idea. A lot of power on our side, though some humans have cranked it. One wished for her mother to be healthy again. How evil is that!" the demon complained, grimacing.

"Humans consider things like that important. Sometimes. Not all of us but many of us do." He shrugged. "I had a few I would've done that for."

"Point." He pouted. "There's a six book set I can get you." He had offered it before.

Xander looked at him. "That won't help me. I've already got four of the six and they're worthless pieces of shit. That would affect my wallet and my future plans. You never know, some day I might use this to move higher up in society or something. Maybe even be a mayor myself, without the icky turning into a demonic tequila worm thing."

The demon looked at him. "So some day you want to be rich enough to go home, take over, make it sane, and then show all those idiots 'look I did it'. Right?" Xander nodded. "Wow. You know, you could probably go higher if you did protection runes."

"I'm working on those too."

"Point. You need to add three to your set of them you henna on." He called up the website with the research he'd need. "I'd rather have you around than have you wish me to fight the demon trying to marry you or sacrifice you again."

"I can fight," he said, glaring at the demon.

"I know that. We've all seen you fight. The stupid girls may not have looked but we make sure who all the players are just in case we have to get help." Xander smiled, nearly bouncing in his seat. "All right, can you wish me to get you all the protection runes you'll need? It really would help your future plans more if you're not evil. Lex Luthor may have done it but you're not bald and he was already a billionaire or whatever before he went evil."

Xander nodded. "I can see that helping. Thanks for the offer." The demon sighed but created those books. Xander wrote out ten titles and then considered it before adding two more then handed it over. "I wish for true copies of those books so you can go home to your snuggly, pissy one. Once I get all twelve you can go. If it takes over a week I'm adding another title that I just realized I had forgotten."

The demon stared at him. "Two are mythical."

"On *this* realm," Xander corrected, holding up a finger with a smile. He added that thirteenth name. "That's the other one if it takes over a week."

The demon stared, then sighed. "Let me talk to someone. They might like this. Then again they might like your evil plans too." He faded out, going to a higher demon. The higher one looked up from his playing with his new captive consort. "Sire, I have a wish being asked for that will annoy everyone but later on he wants to be a politician to prove he's not worthless."

"That's interesting. Who?"

"Harris."

"The..." He flopped a hand around. "That hunter?"

"The girls pissed him off so much he left. It was his apocalypse in a box set that let that other wannabe do the demon summoning that fought against the Mayor of Sunnydale's ascension attempt." He handed over the list. "He wanted the first twelve and if it took over a week the last one as well. He knows there are copies in nearby realms where it's more real there. I also pointed out him doing runes of protection would get him higher up and looked at more fondly."

"What is he doing?"

The wish demon pulled out the higher up's phone from where it sat on the dresser, logging onto the Amazon site to look them up. He let him see them. "He's made pretty decent money, though a few have complained about things. One didn't read and just pulled things out without adding sugar to the potion. One summoned the djinn in a small ceiling basement so that did not go great for him but close enough for him to only complain a bit since there was a warning." The two demons shared a look. "He's proving he's not worthless as they called him."

"Ah." The higher demon looked them over. "I know many who would like that new kit."

"It could get some of us fantastic business or favors," the wish demon agreed. "But if he's proving he's a good person that won't help. They'd use it if he had to run for office."

The demon nodded. "Good point."

"He still believes in comic books, Sire."

"Harris is like a dirty innocent in many ways." He considered it. "I know a few who could get all thirteen books but they'd want paid."

"If we can point him toward some demons who would want to be used that way, it may help his wallet but not his future plans," the wish demon said with a smile. The captive consort was trying to wiggle free. The wish demon bound her better for his higher up. "How should I handle this? He's been holding onto this wish for two weeks, Sire. My own consort would like to have me back I'm sure. Even if his pissy mood would become epic."

The higher demon smiled. "Tell him I will contact someone. Visit your consort on your way back." The demon nodded and left. The higher up sent a text message then got back to his new consort. He had to properly break her in. She had begged for his help and this was her price to pay. Though she was cute. He had chosen well in granting her wish.

***

Xander looked up two weeks later when that wish demon showed up with a large paper bag with handles. "My books?" he cooed, taking them to look over. "Ooh, that's in a language I've only seen." He smiled. "I can find a translation guide."

"You could ask someone else for that bit of help. Many would like to help you."

"Yeah, for a price," Xander said dryly, smirking at him. "I'm not into submission."

"Pity. May I go?"

"Sure. Thank you." The demon nodded and left.

Xander set out things he had researched, doing the language spell. It was very handy. It worked on everything but one of the demon languages apparently. He still had a translation guide for that one. He had gotten it from Giles. He settled in to read over the how-to-book on doing runes for protection and profit. It was just what he wanted.

Not that there wouldn't be a few more apocalypse in a box offerings over the years. Someone had to use them to counter other problems and ideas.

It was chaos for fun and pleasure, and it made Xander a happy boy. He might even hire someone to help him be happy later. It'd stop succuba from trying to flirt with him at work.

***

Six Years Later

***

Xander looked around the party. It was boring but necessary. It got him contacts in case he did decide to become more political. It also let him have something to do tonight to show off. Showing off was important in many ways when you were in an independent business. Especially now that the supernatural had come out of the closet so heavily. The rioting in LA had only been a year ago but Xander had been there helping protect the city with some of his inventions.

He had protected the local pack of weres who had shown up to help them fight the rioting as well. Then one wanted to take him in as a mate so he had to turn him down. He wasn't against a werewolf mate but it was going to cut into his fun times. He was too young to settle down. That talk had also incidentally let him duck Giles and Buffy after the battle.

Xander sipped his champagne the twin succuba had gotten him, smiling at them. "Remember, be good girls," he hissed. They nodded. One of their prior targets was there and staring at them in longing. "Go ahead if you can not piss off his current date." They strolled over to chat with him. Xander grinned at the hostess. "They knew him."

"I remember when he was seeing them. You do? With your business?"

Xander grinned. "I'm like candy to them but they're allergic to me. One of the reasons I got into that field is to protect myself from everything or everyone who wanted me." He winked and strolled off, making her laugh. That guy's date came over to him, earning a small shrug. "Howdy. Sorry they interrupted."

"No, he told me he had seen them once." She looked around then at him. "I know you from somewhere."

He held out a hand. "Xander."

She took a swing at him. "You're him," she sneered.

Xander stared at her. "Related to someone at the Council or to someone who bought one of my earlier kits?" he asked dryly.

"My aunt is with the coven."

"I'm sorry." He sipped his champagne then put the glass down behind him. "Let me guess, Willow said I stomped off in a pouty, girlish huff because they were trying to *protect* me," he said bitterly. "Then they heard how I had unleashed something that let someone else pull an apocalypse attempt up on the same day as graduation?" She nodded, glaring. "That was calculated to help them fight the ascension, dear." She moaned, shaking her head. "There's a whole lot of history there she glazed over with sweetness that never happened. Including them deciding I was worthless for being a guy."

"You still jumped in," she sneered.

"Yeah, because they took my soul's light." She shuddered, stepping back. "I went to get him back. That and no one little girl should have to shoulder that burden. That's not what good men do."

"Do they unleash apocalypse attempts?"

"To save humanity? Yeah, I do." He smiled slightly. "It worked. The Mayor couldn't eat everyone and was killed by the other demon, who only needed some silver buckshot to be killed. Buffy handled it and it was a better battle than it could've been. Considering the last known ascension took a volcano...."

She stared at him. "So you planned that to happen?"

"Yeah. Let them fight each other. It saved her life a lot." He shrugged. "So did me stepping in to help her. Including the night she wanted me fray adjacent. Otherwise we would've only had Faith during that ascension." The woman slumped, shaking her head as she looked down. "Make your own decisions on what I've done but I don't really care, dear. The opinions of others do not matter to me any longer. I grew out of that when I realized I may not be a special girl but I was one hell of a guy."

He strolled off, getting a clean glass of champagne that no one could have dropped things into. He wasn't stupid enough to drink from a glass he had put down around unknown people and demons. If they wanted to drug him they'd have to work a bit harder than that. He saluted one with his glass and went to chat with a lonely looking woman on the balcony. A youngish witch who was a trophy wife. He understood that ostracizing problem. He had some of it but some of the people in the room were more powerful and aligned to demons. Including her husband. Xander identified his mark from the balcony. It let her have something to hold over him when he did icky things, as she put it. It was great and maybe some day she'd help him with something.

When the party was livened up by a newly outed hunter jumping over the railings with his twin sister, Xander kindly shot them both in the arm before walking over to see what they were doing. It was stupid. So many hunters were worse than jocks with weapons. These two were after a certain demon-owned being so Xander told the hostess. That one fled and the hunters escaped before the police got there to chase after him. Xander had only minorly wounded them so they could handle it themselves. He went back to chatting to that young witch. She had been horrified but that was usual. Normal witches weren't used to hunters showing up to kill them.

***

Xander came up from his work space the next day at the sound of a crash, sighing. "You guys, it probably would've been easier to not blow in the door," he said sarcastically as his security system knocked out the two hunters from the party. He called his community's security team. "Is the team on the gate okay?" he asked patiently. "Two hunters. The same ones that tried to party crash last night. Thanks." He hung up and sat down to wait, sipping some ice water. "I don't know why you two came here since I'm not on your list, but *damn* I'm going to make you guys start paying for the repairs." The top level security team stormed in. "Can you get me the number for the repair guy again? I know I keep forgetting to save it. It's like I'm hopelessly optimistic that they won't come for me again." He took another drink of his ice water.

"We can call him, sir," the head of the security team said as he joined them. "The two on the gate are fine, just knocked out."

"Feel free to pay them back for it if you want," Xander quipped, waving a hand at the mess. "They tried to gatecrash a party I was at last night to get someone there. I wounded them then let them get away to get their target." He finished his water and put the glass down. "Has the mail run?" One of the new gate guards brought it up for him. "Thanks." He looked through it, putting the bills aside. He spotted the personal letter, opening it to read. "Huh." The head of the security team looked at him. "Can you search him for me quickly so I can work up a protection set? The kid's a lot like me, he desperately needs it." The head of the team nodded, taking the letter to look over.

"We haven't seen a single being trying to capture you to own you for months, sir," the head of the security team said.

Xander grinned, waving his pendant. "It helps a lot." He looked at the hunters, then at the security team. "Though it's not all covering. There's ten or twelve in town who like to sniff me each time I go grocery shopping."

"We can go with you," one of the security team said.

Xander shrugged. "We'll figure that out if I can't handle it. You guys know I compulsively check in so you know you have to find me if I get kidnaped again. Or at least tell the insurance people who will send someone to find me." They nodded, pulling the hunters out to their van so they could turn them in. One of them called the repairman, who hurried out to fix the damage for them. Xander paid him well for that. Many times a year currently. Xander waved a hand. "It would've made more sense to kick in the door or limit it but those two were like jocks, they're brainless with weapons."

The repair guy smiled. "I've seen their type on tv yelling at people for daring to protect themselves."

"Real hunters don't complain about having less work to do," Xander said simply. He got up. "I'm working on a warding set downstairs if you need me for something."

"Sure thing, Mr. Harris." Xander went down and the repair guy, who used to be a hunter himself, smirked some. The kid was right about the young wannabes these days. Too bad the guy rode the line between good and evil too often.

Xander came back up, holding up something to him. "By the way, saw your niece last night. She sneered until I pointed out that half of those apocalypse in a box offerings countered ongoing apocalypse attempts." He went back downstairs. "I'm putting out another one soon to stop another problem."

The guy texted that to someone before measuring the extent of the damage he'd have to fix this time. "Hey, Mr. Harris, if there's kids who need wards can they come to you?"

"I do some charity work doing that each year," he called back. "Especially for kids like I was that are wanted by something higher who think we're sexy. Just so they don't have to deal with Angelus or Spike. Or the werewolf pack that think I'd be a happy wolf with them."

The repair guy winced but sent that to someone. The real hunters kept track of a few kids who had that same sort of draw. It figured Harris had been one. They really didn't know much about him beyond the fact he had left his former hunting team due to bitches.

***

Xander sat down across from the reporter, staring at her. She had come to the bar he was in and had blatantly been staring at him. "What did you want, sweetheart?" he asked with a smirk.

"Someone at the Watchers Council said something about you. We were wondering some things."

"Hmm, the same people that had a price on my head for helping their slayer in my hometown when I was sixteen." He sipped his soda, without liquor, and stared at her. "I'm not real fond of their methods. They treat their slayers like garbage. They hated that anyone beyond her watcher helped her so they put a pretty darn high price on my head for it."

She grimaced. "We've only heard some from them when we outed them."

Xander grinned. "You want to out the Council? There's former members. The one I worked with got fired for giving too much of a damn about his slayer."

She winced. "They tried to take him out recently."

"That doesn't really surprise me any." He took another sip, staring at her. "You should ask Willow Rosenburg. Though I've heard she's gotten sucked into their magical arm, the Devon Coven."

"The what?" the reporter asked.

Xander took her notepad to draw things out on. "This is their structure as of when I left Sunnydale." He underlined one name. "He's the master of the web presently." He stared at her. "He's the one that orders the nice birthday test that has slayers without their powers facing a vampire they're trapped with." He tapped the paper a few times. "If you really wanted to know more about them, they're a secret society so you might have to ask an agent over there if they've infiltrated them recently."

"What if we want to know more about your old team?"

He smiled. "Then get someone to do a scrying spell, dear. I'm not the journal writing sort and it'd only complain about the girls being themselves."

She stared. "How strong would you have to be? I'm told your former town has a mystical problem."

"It has many problems. The major one is the vampire menace, followed by the hellmouth."

"What's a hellmouth?" She looked so confused.

Xander flipped the page, drawing something. "Normal places, there's a firm wall between the various realms. Sunnydale has a weak spot, a rip if you want." He stared at her. "The rip leads to multiple other realms, most of which are considered hell realms by at least someone. Then again, so is this one." She nodded slowly. "One's considered a hell realm because it has no sea life. One has no music and treats humans like work cows and slaves." She nodded faster this time.

"There's intentional open spots, portals for travel and commerce." She nodded again. "Sunnydale has a rip between them that's not all that useable except that it's pouring our energy. A lot of chaos mages can pull energy from it for higher spells and the like. Some demons as well. A lot of peaceful species of demons live in Sunnydale because they can hide in plain sight there. Buffy was a good woman because she only went after the harmful ones. It's a trend I hope starts among other types of hunters and later slayers."

He handed back the notepad and pen. "Sunnydale's is fairly open most of the time. I know at least once it was closed by Willow. They decided I was worthless so they sent me away that day. Instead I stopped the zombie trying to blow up the school from the basement." She moaned, so he grinned at her. "Yeah, it's like that and shortly after that I left because I'm not worthless. I have plenty of skills they didn't want to see because they're girls. They had no problem with other normal girls helping. Cordelia helped many times during incidences but she's a normal *girl* so that didn't count."

"So they drove you off?"

"Yeah, they did. Instead I used what I learned to do better things." He grinned. "I learned how to research a lot better with them. Sunnydale's school system at the time was bottom in the world. There's places where they don't read that are above the old school system."

"You sold something that let someone else summon a demon that same day," she said.

He smiled and nodded. "And I asked if she'd do it then because there was another apocalypse attempt going on. If she could beat that one, it'd mean more status to the one she summoned." She moaned again, shaking her head. "I've done that a few times. Have I put out other kits? Yeah. Including that same kit to others. None of them would've caused mass harm like what the old mayor was doing. He would've been able to take out a good portion of humanity if not stopped. Summoning a djinn is nothing compared to that. It's on you if it eats you but it won't mass murder most people."

"I guess that's a good point," she said, blinking a few times. "What about now?"

"Now, I do a lot of warding work. Stuff I learned to protect myself. The girls used to rag on me about drawing demons who wanted me as a special friend. Now I do help other kids just like me so they don't get sacrificed by people like my former best friend Willow. From what I've heard from various sources she tried about three months after I left the group. Then again last year. Apparently the moral monitors in the Devon Coven decided that wasn't bad. Their definition of being *good* witches appears to be cranked a tiny bit." He smiled at the waitress. "Can I have another coke please?" he asked, wiggling his glass. She nodded, taking the reporter's drink order then went to get them came back with them. Xander paid and the waitress strolled off. Xander sniffed then grimaced, putting it off to the side. "I'm not into being drugged today."

The reporter sniffed her own drink then his. "How could you tell?"

Xander smiled. "Practice."

"Oh dear."

"Oh yeah." He grinned. "It helps sometimes." He stood up. "I'm going to go dance. You have fun." He walked off to go dance while she called in the three possible stories. Including finding someone to scry the past of that team.

*** (sent to list to here in email)

Xander woke up to the news the next morning. Well, he actually woke up to a guard poking him on the arm and pointing at the tv he had turned on and changed to the news channel. The guard was even nice enough to bring him coffee. "Thanks." The guard nodded and left, blushing some.

Xander sat up, drinking his coffee. "Today, we're going to talk to the two witches who have held information from us that we might need to know to protect ourselves," the news anchor said. "Including that there's mystical power points that are infecting whole towns." The camera panned to Willow, who looked very uncomfortable, and an elderly British witch. "This is one of the senior coven members with the Devon coven. The other is the witch who closed the mystical portal at least once. We won't be mentioning their names because we know there's people who would hate them for their gifts and try to take them out for it. Ladies, what's this we hear about a problem called a hellmouth?" the man asked, smiling at them.

Willow cleared her throat. "There's more than one. The universe grew and this plane didn't grow with it so we have a few rips," she said quietly. "The one in Sunnydale is the most open. In some ways it's a problem but also a blessing. Demons who have immigrated here for their own safety or to be able to find work can hide somewhere there's a hellmouth safely. The power that leaks also draws bad things to it."

The witch stared at Willow then at the reporter. "We don't consider most species good."

"Some species immigrated here because their home realms were having horrible wars. Or famines. They don't hurt anything or anyone, they just want to be safe. Most of them came with their families and kids. We of the Sunnydale team have *never* taken out harmless beings and we hate that others think that harmless beings are evil for looking funny." She glared at the older witch. "We've had problems with the bigotry of the old liners many times though." She looked at the reporter. "There's actually eight hellmouths on this plane. Two in the US."

"Where's the other?" he demanded.

She smiled. "Cleveland. It's in a park, under a bandstand if I spotted it right. I've only scried it but not visited. That one's barely open enough to leak and hasn't ever been opened by anyone else."

"Is there a way to make sure it can't be?" he asked.

"Not that I'm aware of," Willow said. "We mostly monitor Sunnydale's and make sure anything trying to use it goes down somehow. Plus the other huge problems that seem to only happen there. Like a military project that was torturing demons to find out how they're made. The Pentagon didn't do a thing when we turned them in."

"Are they still active?" the reporter asked, leaning toward her.

Willow shook her head. "No. We handled them and they ran. We have no idea what happened to them but I've got a computer program monitoring them to restart."

Xander considered it then pulled his phone over to send a message to the station's twitter account. They were reactivated and in North Carolina at a research oriented college.

The reporter got given a note by another reporter. "We got a note to our twitter account from a Hiding Man Sort."

He looked at it. "It appears they're in North Carolina at a research college."

Willow took it to look at, frowning. "Heck no!" She pulled out her phone to look that college up. "Oh, dear. They are. Hey, my parents are talking there soon. That's two bads together." She let the reporter see it. "Genocide is always wrong," she said simply when the older witch was clearing her throat in warning. She glared at her. "If you or the rest of the coven support genocide then the rest of us witches shouldn't listen to a thing you've said."

"We do not but we don't think that is a proper problem for a young witch with your skills, dear."

"I have my skills so I have to use them for good things," she said simply. "If not, I'm a horrible human being. Like some we know." She huffed and settled herself better on her chair. "I'll be looking into them later and I'll gladly share what I find. That's wrong on every level."

"There was one of you that left the team," the first reporter said. "We sent a young intern report to talk to him recently. She scried the past." Willow winced. "Did you know that the other demon during your graduation was planned by him to help you?"

"It couldn't have been!"

"We talked to the ex-husband of the witch that summoned that demon. He asked her to do that on that day specifically, told her it'd give her more status if she could beat yours."

"That may be but it's still wrong to start one," she said.

"Sometimes you have to do bad things," the senior witch sneered. "But we do not appreciate that *boy* or his doings."

"The fact that he warded all the children's hospitals in the US, and any other one that asked, so the sick children couldn't be taken?" the second reporter asked. "I appreciate that. I'm sure those hospitals do as well."

"A few good things don't counter his bad ones," Willow sneered.

"Hmm. See, we scried as he suggested. Did you know he saved you from being blown up?"

"Yes," she ground out.

"Yet you consider him worthless. Including that he somehow managed to sneak onto a military base to get you a weapon you desperately needed. By the way, the general we showed that to congratulated him and said he'd be checking that base for other issues. He said if a teenage boy could sneak onto the base that way, his soldiers were worthless at their job guarding them." Willow slumped. "Also, you considered him normal, yet we heard he was possessed by a hyena."

"He didn't keep any skills from that."

"We talked to the local demon council, they said he did," the second reporter said smugly. "Including hunting skills from it. And from his time as a soldier? Something about halloween costumes and chaos sorcerers?"

"No one kept anything from that," Willow said firmly.

"Yet, he had base codes," the second reporter said. "That's how he got onto the base, young lady." He leaned forward. "Also, did your team complain about normal young women helping? I believe there was a young woman named Cordelia?" Willow got up and stomped off. "Hmm. Good thing we scried." He smiled at the senior witch. "Also, would you like to make a statement about the price you've had on that young man's head since he was sixteen for daring to be born in a town and helping the slayer there because vampires had taken his best friend?" She huffed off as well. He smiled at the first reporter. "Sorry to interrupt but you're talking with nearly satanic beings while pretending they're good."

"I'd have talked to some other witches in the area but the Coven stepped in to protect their identities."

"Probably so they could get all the attention." He slid over a slip of paper. "One wrote our twitter to complain you talked to the evil ones. She volunteered to talk to you tonight."

The reporter smiled. "Thank you and her. I'll make sure to protect her identity. Would that one know where the various hellmouths are?"

"There's six," Xander muttered, sending them another message. "Plus other problematic mystical sites." He had to use two messages to get it all in there with the hellmouths and three problem areas.

"Oh," the secondary reporter said when someone flapped a paper just off screen. He got up to grab it and came back. "Sorry, Cleveland and ... he named the other five of them plus three problematic other mystical areas." They looked at the camera, smiling at him. "Thank you, Mr. Harris."

Xander waved at his screen. "Thank you for actually looking for the truth. Even the best good guys do some bad things too." He got up to go make some more coffee and get back to work. His security team would keep any reporters that showed up away from him. Hopefully they'd be able to keep any hunters, Council people, and witches away from him. Not that any magic except his own would work anywhere near his property. He had done a lot of work on his own wards. He had paid some nice mages to help him as well. All the magic sent at him would do is burn the lawn so he'd have to have it fixed. Again.

He even had some free time today. That poor kid he had been helping with wards had decided on a werewolf mate so he didn't need as many protections.

***

Xander came out of his house a few months later, figuring he was tired of hiding and if they were going to attack him at least he'd be somewhere with a lot of witnesses. So he was at a club in LA. He spotted a hunter, who only scowled at him. Xander looked in there then walked over to the hunter. "Vampires?" he asked bluntly. The guy nodded, still scowling. "Want me to bait them out for you? They all want me in many strange ways. That's why I learned warding. Are they stakers, beheaders, or some other type?"

"Beheaders," one of the hunters said. "They've got a young girl hostage to sacrifice later."

Xander nodded. "There's three major clans in the area and the Champion for the Powers That Be."

One of the hunters shook his head slowly. "Excuse me? The good guys?"

"Yeah, soul spell, really long story," he said with a shrug. "Jackass of the ages. If you go to Angel he'd probably help. Or he'd let Cordelia help." That got a nod. "Plus I've heard he works with some of the street gangs in the area." He looked at one and smiled. "They get the girl safely away, Gunn?"

The man stared at him. "Who're you?" he demanded.

"Xander." Gunn glared. Xander stared back. "Yeah, as in her ex. I walked to get away from bitches. Including that bitch that I dated."

"Since they outed her, she's had a huge amount of problems."

"Willow's parents once tried to burn her at the stake while they were possessed and seem to still think it's a good idea," he said dryly. "And so do I." Gunn shook his head, sucking in a breath through his nose. "Do we need help getting her out of there? Or just the vamps out of the club?"

"Vamps out of the club. The young girl's safe." He looked around the guy. "You a hunter?" They nodded. "Gunn. I work with a street gang who hunts the bad demons." They shook hands and exchanged phone numbers.

Xander waved. "C'mon, guys. Or better yet, wait out here. Let me...." He walked to the door, staring at the bouncer. He blew a kiss. "Do I need to pay cover?"

"Even VIP's do, sir," one said. Xander paid and walked in, going right to the dance floor. He spotted the vampires and did something to make them let the young girl they had in thrall go. He kissed the young one, making her moan and breaking the spell. "Hi, prettiness. Go be safe far from the blood sucking circuit." She ran off. He looked at them. "Boys." They glared and a few went to feeding face. "Let's go talk about this outside?" They lunged at him and he kicked two then led them out back chasing him.

A few stayed but Gunn's crew went in to handle them. Xander ducked one and pulled out his hidden sword to behead it. The others helped and they got the rest of the clan down quickly enough. Xander wiped off his short sword then hid it again shaking his head. He dusted himself off. "Well, I look like I hit it in the alley. That'll mean I'll go home with a wannabe model." He walked off, going back inside. The lone vampire that was doing a stand off got a dirty look.

Xander strolled over, getting his attention. He leaned on the vampire's shoulder, staring at him. "So, you're all alone. You're in a club keeping us from having fun. You're keeping me from finding someone to flirt with. Do you really want this to be your last stand?" The vampire was making whimpering noises. "Go. Shoo. Just flee and if they catch you, it means you're not good enough." He got off him. "Go." He pointed.

"Easy exit." The vampire fled. A few hunters ran after him. Xander shrugged at one. He made 'play it' motions at the DJ, making him restart the music. Others slowly got back into the dancing, but staring around in case more vampires showed up. He pulled one of Gunn's crew over to dance with, holding over a card. "If you need wards or just an extra sword, call me. I'm good to help with apocalypse battles."

"Who're you?" she demanded.

He smiled. "Xander."

"Do we know you."

He laughed. "Xander Harris, dear. I do wards and things?" She moaned, shaking her head quickly and looking down. "Yeah. Me. I learned because half of everything wanted to own me as a toy. Especially after Angel gave me to Spike one night as a ruse." He grinned, spinning her around. "If you need help, let me know. I do still help a lot."

"Yeah, I can tell Gunn that. Does Angel know you're in town?"

"I don't give a shit," he admitted. "Angel was jealous of me because I was helping his girlfriend of the moment and could be in the sunlight with her. That's why he tried to give me to Spike." She slumped, staring at him, stopping dancing totally. He smirked a tiny bit. "Angel can stake himself for all I care, but I'll protect Cordelia any day of the week. If you guys need me to help ward somewhere or something else I can do, let me know. Or if you need help with huger weapons. I'm really good with weapons." He let her go and winked, strolling off to get a drink from the bar.

She went outside to find Gunn, slugging him on the arm. "That's Cordelia's former boyfriend! The one she complains about?"

"Yup, guess so."

"He said if we need help with warding something or bigger weapons he can help." She handed over the card. "He also said he'd help protect her."

"That's good. He say anything else?"

"He didn't care if Angel staked himself because he was jealous and gave him to Spike once."

Gunn winced. "Wow. That's a story I hadn't heard from Sunnydale."

"He was?" she demanded.

"Yeah, that's the guy who walked thanks to Buffy and Willow. Now he mostly does wards and rune magic from what I've heard. I'll keep in mind about the weapons though. We seem to need them all too often." They left, going back to the hotel that Angel had taken over recently. He walked in. "I met a few hunters in the area," he said, letting Cordelia take down their numbers. She paused at the last card. "Yeah, saw him too. He baited them out and helped take the vamps out." She stared at him. He grinned. "He said if you needed him to, he'd protect you some day."

"Yeah, he probably would." She took that down too. "How was he?" she asked finally, looking up.

"Mouthy. Told my girl that he didn't care if Angel staked himself. We could go to him for help or weapons."

"Xander did have a good feel for weapons," she said. "Even the one we took from the military base." Gunn stared. "It was necessary thanks to Angelus."

"Is that when he gave him to Spike?"

"No, that was parent-teacher night. It was a ruse to get past Spike," Angel said as he walked down the stairs. "You ran into Harris?" Cordelia held up the card. "I've heard he's doing protections and apocalypse kits."

"From what he told the reporters that caught him, he did it on purpose to make the fight against the mayor easier," Cordelia said quietly.

Angel nodded. "It did help a lot. He used to have ideas that were weird but worked." He walked off. "If you had asked, I would've helped, Gunn."

"We had it and we ran into a few hunters."

"Good. Let me know if you need my help."

Gunn looked at Cordelia. "I'm pretty sure if you called him, he'd show up for lunch at least."

She nodded. "He would. The dork was like that. How did he look?"

"He drove up in a higher end sedan."

She stared at him. "So he's made some money."

Gunn nodded. "Apparently." He walked off.

She settled in to look Xander up online. He was mentioned in a few places. Plus a few bad things that apparently went for a lot of money. "He always said that evil was lazy," she muttered. She read the responses to them, smirking at the few that complained because he had noted it needed something tiny that they probably had in the house. "What, too lazy to add two cups of sugar for the potion?" she muttered. "Great. At least that sort won't manage it. They're too stupid." She looked at the ones who had managed it.

She looked them up. Most of them hadn't realized that wishes were a double edged sword, but they had gotten what they wanted. Without anyone else being hurt. Only one had a needed sacrifice and it had to be a willing one or else the demon took you instead. "Sixteen kits bought, no comments," she said, then frowned. "Hmm. Proved that the instructions were probably right." Angel came back so she showed him. "Xander put that out, with the warning it had to be a willing sacrifice. Or else it ate you."

Angel nodded once. "Proved him right. Took out a few problems on their side." He walked off shaking his head but smiling slightly.

Cordelia looked at his other offerings. One of them looked familiar but they had cleaned up the mess thanks to an evil lawyer trying to summon something. "Figures," she decided. She looked up as Wesley came out of the office, letting him see that.

He nodded once. "Is that the same Xander?" he asked. She nodded. "Hmm." He walked off frowning. "At least he's found an amusing way of taking out some of the bad things that I've heard want him."

Cordelia laughed. "True, they probably did." She went back to looking him up online. There was a lot of speculation and pictures of him at fashionable parties with dates. She frowned at one picture. Succuba, it figured.

***

Xander was out at a party when someone stumbled up to him being mightily drunk. He hated drunks. Xander drew out something with a pen in his pocket then slipped the paper into the drunk's pocket. Immediately the alcohol stopped working on him and he started to sober up. Within a half-hour he was sober no matter how much he drank. The poor idiot was getting upset with his lack of being drunk. He even threw a fit when another drink didn't help him get back to drunk.

The hostess walked over, patting Xander on the arm with a knowing look and a slight smile. "Thank you, dear."

"I hate drunks," he said quietly. But he smiled back. "We didn't need that sort of entertainment."

She laughed. "No, we didn't. Do we have any that might call hunters?"

Xander nodded, looking around. "Three that have marks in the open. Including that nice one behind your ear." He looked at her. "Thankfully she's not that mean. She tends to use her offered ones as sex toys, not slaves."

"How did you know?"

"She offered once." He shrugged. "I wasn't into it that day. A few days earlier it might've worked a slight bit but I would've challenged her to win myself back." He sipped his bottled water. "You can try that."

"Could anything help keep me?"

"No." He looked at her. "Protections mean that there's no rightful way of getting through it. An offering mark would negate most of them. You might ask someone like a chaos sorcerer. They might have a way among their studies. I don't really practice magic so I can only guess about some more obscure things."

She smiled. "Thank you." She walked off.

"Try soon. She's coming for a visit in a week," he said quietly. She looked back. He nodded. "Poker buddies heard she's coming for a visit."

She nodded. "Thank you." She walked off to find a chaos sorcerer tonight instead of in the morning. She didn't have time to waste.

Xander finished his water and tossed the bottle out then went back to watching the people. One of them strolled over to him. He sniffed then smiled. "Pack leader."

"Harris." She touched his throat but he moved back. "I mean no harm."

"I've heard that before then had to dodge a bite," he said dryly.

She laughed. "I'm not going to do that to you. I only want willing pack members." He smiled. "Though one of mine knows of someone who has that same problem."

"If it's Sophia in that high school, she brought it on herself by accident. I've told her how to stop it."

"No, her sister."

Xander winced. "Probably radiating from her sister?"

"Could be."

"Bring her to me and I'll see if I can find out if they offered her or if I can help. At the least I can give her ideas and how to train to protect herself. She'll probably need it."

She nodded. "Are you busy tomorrow?"

"I see my doctor tomorrow at one but otherwise no."

"Good. We'll see you midmorning then." She patted him on the arm. "Some sort of ancient vampire put out a want order on you."

"Was it Angel? Because I'll stake his ass myself, Powers That Be or not."

"No, he's not that old."

"He used to date Buffy. He got a bit jealous."

She shuddered. "That's gross."

"Very. Which I pointed out a few times." He grinned. "Which one?"

"Ravenor."

He considered it. "Isn't he related to Lothos? Buffy told us about him."

"Yes, it was his sire."

"If he wants me to get back at Buffy that won't work. I'd never let it happen even if she might care."

"I'll let that be known. If not..."

He smiled. "I'm full of surprises, sweetie. No one can ever plan for me." She laughed as she walked off. Xander went back inside, looking at the complaining guy. "Sorry but drunks are a danger to themselves and others. Wouldn't want you driving that way," he said as he walked past him. "Pity." He left, going home. He made a note with the gate guards so they'd be expecting the young one needing help tomorrow. And possibly Cordelia sometime soon. Then he went to bed to not sleep for a few hours.

***

Xander didn't look up as his work area was breached by the pack leaders and the young girl. He had a pencil between his teeth and pointed at the circle in the corner. He took the pencil out to make a note and write out the rune he needed then used the pencil to mark the next area he'd need. He turned to look at the girl. "In the circle, dear. It'll expose anything like a marking on you." She nodded, walking over there. He walked over with some chalk in a holder to finish the circle then stepped back as it lit up. He stared her over, making 'turn around' motions. "Yup, one of the ones after your sister marked you but it's a protection." He tipped his head. "Turn more slowly." She did again, arms slightly out. "Oh, shit." The pack leaders both flinched. "No wonder Woma protected you. His brother's trying to get you and figured you'd run to him to get help." He scuffed the circle with his foot, waving her out and over to the bench. He pulled down a book and looked at the pack leaders, who came over as well. "What do you know about Woma?"

"Not a thing," the male leader said.

Xander nodded. "He's not real common here, but he followed some of his people who ran from a civil war of hell a few generations ago." He opened the book to show her.

She paused him, pointing at one. "I've seen that mark in the school."

Xander looked it over with a frown. "You've got someone who would love to do chaos magic and can't. We'll have to watch there for sacrificing for powers." She grimaced. "Sometimes people want things they don't have really hard. Think of it like extreme plastic surgery for magic."

"Eww," the girl said.

"Basically. Yeah." He grinned. "There's a few things going for you. Woma's sister hates him. Totally would like to rip his guts out and feed them to something foul hates him. She's laid a protection on you but Woma's got the ones after your sister coming after you so you'll run to him to protect you."

"If some other being took her in?" the female pack leader asked.

"No," Xander said, shaking his head. "Because then Woma will find a way to get her from them. Her being changed or turned or even gifted means she'll last longer as a toy." The male leader winced. The female growled. Xander looked at her. "These aren't the nice ones. His sister, Tham, isn't all that nice either and I'm shocked we haven't seen her asking the young one for a price for the protection.

"Which means we've probably got another huge apocalypse coming up and she'll play a part if she's not protected. Tham hates most of the apocalypse battles down here, it takes away her amusement. We're her favorite reality tv. She thinks humans are useless for more than that. Outside a few higher level mages and they're mostly jackasses." He looked at the young one. "We're going to have to make your sister either quit dick teasing all the ones who want her and make her make a choice, or we're going to have to protect her against her will, which means it'll fail. There's very few ways to get them off you without yours sister helping."

"My sister's jealous because I'm taking her attention. I've pointed out I hate it," the young one said.

Xander nodded. "Sometimes you want what you can't have and shouldn't want to have. Personally, I think your sister's really warped. I know what it's like to be hunted by half of everything, good and bad, and it's creepy. It's like being stalked by someone who wants to marry you so they can change who you are. It's why I learned protection runes." The girl grimaced but nodded. "Now, truth, is there *any* offers being pushed toward you that you're tempted to take? Because if so, we'll probably have to do things differently."

She slowly shook her head. "I've only seen a few who scent me and try to follow me. I don't know much about any of this."

"Okay." He looked at the pack leaders. "Do any of your kids know all the ones that's after her?"

The female nodded. "One does. I asked him to let me know." She pulled out a list on notebook paper.

Xander looked. "Dayam. I thought some of mine were bad." The pack leaders both winced. "But hey, Dru's not on here. That's a great thing." He looked the various ones up, making notes for her. He finally got her a bottle of water from his fridge then went over the notes on who each of them were. By the end, her eyes were wide, she was pale, and looked like she wanted to vomit. "So." He stared at her. "Are any of them finding favor?"

"No. Please don't let them take me?"

"We can work on that," he said. "For now, you can wear one of my alternate protection necklaces. I probably won't need it anytime soon and it'll protect you from most everyone. It might also drive off any pack members," he told the female leader. She nodded at that, sending a text message. Xander left and came back with a pendant on a simple chain. He put it around her neck then pulled her hair out of the way. It glowed slightly once it contacted her skin. "Feel better?" he asked.

"It feels warm and weird, kind of crawling feeling."

"That's the protection sinking in. If something huge comes near you, it'll get real warm. That's your warning there's a huge demon near you. That won't keep vampires, won't keep most weres of any sort, and it won't keep things like wish demons away from you." She nodded at that. "You go to school with the daughter of a wish demon. You go to school with someone who bought my pack to learn how to summon a djinn. I'm pretty sure someone knows and is watching him to see what sort of wishes he's making in case it goes to something like he wants the head cheerleader as his own against her will."

"Three of our young go to the same school but they haven't mentioned that one," the male said, looking at his girlfriend.

She nodded. "Yes one has. She warned him from coming near any girl with his genie. She said he didn't want a girlfriend, he wanted some specific guy but was making wishes to be worthy of him instead of making him want him."

Xander nodded. "That's always better."

"Why did you put out those?" the girl asked.

Xander grinned. "A few reasons. At first, it made escaping Sunnydale easier and paid back some of the pains in my ass up there for it. A few were used to counteract apocalypse battles going on to make them easier and safer to handle. The djinn one was the first one and I put in the warnings that anything too selfish would cause you problems because all wishes are double edged swords." He smirked. "Most haven't listened and a lot of lazy yet evil ones that could've caused later problems are out of the way. Sometimes you gotta be creative instead of handling problems head on."

She gaped then looked at the pack leaders.

"We know," the male agreed. "He was a hunter himself for a few years." Xander nodded. "Then they treated him poorly so he left."

"Willow still thinks I'm worthless. She sent me a twitter telling me that. I turned her in for cyber bullying and got Twitter to shut her account on her." Xander grinned. "Buffy's not much better. Not all that are on the side of good are actually good people. The Champion that the Powers That Be use are girls who are treated like warrior slaves and Angel, a vampire with a soul curse because he used to be a Scourge of Europe. Tells me all I need to know about the higher ups who want balance."

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

"So's Angel." Xander grinned. "I'm a pretty much good guy but now and then I have to use something less than good to handle a problem. Or to make the good things happen easier. If that takes letting the lazy, bad sort that would cause apocalypses do it to themselves, then so be it."

"I guess I can see that."

"Hunting and ethics aren't really a great set of friends," Xander told her. "Real hunters take out spirits that are just trapped. Or things that are causing problems. Or weres that don't lock themselves up so they terrorize a town." The female sighed but nodded. "Good ones, who have and want to stay in control of themselves have ways of protecting themselves. Young ones who don't have a pack nearby or just want to run free often don't last that long. There's unfortunately pelt hunters. My friend from high school who was bitten by his two-year-old nephew got free a few times and nearly got caught by a pelt hunter for being in the woods. A lot of hunters wouldn't care. Slayers who handle vampires, we're handling formerly living people who just didn't have the good sense to stay dead. If you're hunting in high school, when a lot of people are taken by vamps because it's a good hunting age, you're usually staking people you've seen before if your town's small enough."

The male head nodded. "That is true. Sunnydale was a small town." Xander nodded. "Hunting ethics are flexible and it's up to the hunter to find and hold his own ethical line."

"Some of us have," Xander agreed. "Some of us slipped. I tried very hard not to slip. I still do. Otherwise I'd go take out Angel for being a future problem and a past one."

The female head smiled at him. "We heard he lost his soul."

"Yeah, he boffed Buffy for her birthday." She shuddered. "A moment of pure happiness makes it go bye-bye." He grinned. "Apparently breaking her in made him that happy. He stalked us for months before she finally defeated him and sent him to hell because he was opening a portal to there and had to close it with his own blood. He killed a few hundred people in those months, including Giles' girlfriend. But now he's back to being a good guy." He shrugged. "I'd rather not take that chance."

"Me either," the male agreed. He looked at the young one. Then at Xander. "What if we put her under our protection?"

"What happens if you lose the leadership?" Xander countered. "Would the next one protect her? Or would he fall for Tham's games? Would he even be willing to protect a human?"

"No," he admitted. "The ones who want to take over are all dumbasses."

Xander smiled. "Many weres are. I've heard from Oz, he's in the temple in Tibet. He said one of the packs there is full of those sort. He had to learn about pack dynamics the hard way because Giles never explained it to him and there wasn't one in Sunnydale."

"That poor boy," the female said. "Is he coming back?"

"I don't know," Xander admitted. "But he's why they went against the Initiative jackholes." She growled. He smirked and nodded. "Yeah."

"Are they still around?"

"There's a lot of pressure on that school in North Carolina but they bring in a lot of grant money for other research projects, including species genetics. The college has said they don't want anything unethical going on and are looking into them to make sure they're holding to ethical standards, but then again I'm not sure if they consider demons sentient enough to be protected. Many don't."

The pack leader nodded. "I know many in LA that don't," he admitted, looking at his girlfriend, who nodded she did too. "Didn't you bite one?"

"She deserved it. My sister's an idiot."

"No comment since she tried to bite me," Xander quipped then rolled his eyes. "How long did it take her to walk right after I stuck my boot up her ass?"

"Two weeks," she said, smirking at him. "Her pack leader thinks someone attacked her."

"No, I defended myself when she tried to bite me on a dance floor. I can't even go back to that club and I really did like it. Tell her I said hi?" He grinned.

"I can do that. She deserved it."

"No comment," her pack leader said. "That's why I encouraged her to switch packs so there wasn't any interbreeding."

"Eww, her having cubs would be foul," Xander said.

"Hey!" the female lead complained.

Xander looked at her. "Did you know she had grooth slime on her that night?" She stared then shuddered suddenly. "Yeah! And super fertile. Carry for nearly three years so you won't notice it for months. Would you want to give birth to a grooth?"

"No," she said, looking disgusted. "Eww!"

"What's a grooth?" the girl asked. Xander pulled up their page on the demon website he used. "That's so gross," she said. "But I think I go to school with a half one."

"You do," the male pack leader said. "I feel so sorry for that boy."

"And carried by a female were mother," Xander said. "Means it'll be at least a carrier."

"Don't remind me. I'll have someone check her to make sure." He looked at the girl then at Xander. "What else can we do?"

"Find the sister, talk to her. If she laughs, kick her ass and make her make a choice. Sometimes sisters are stupid."

"Good point. We can talk to her."

Xander looked at her. "Do not remove that pendant. Not to shower, not to swim. It'll show up the second you're unprotected." She nodded. "If you seriously decide to take something or someone up on their offer, then go for it and I'll make you one specifically against Woma and Tham but avoiding your future mate."

"Thank you." She shook his hand. "Thank you both for helping me as well."

"It needed to happen before your school became the spot where a demon comes to claim an offering." The female were gave her a hug. "Come, we'll go talk to your family and your sister."

"If they're the ultra religious sort who'll kick her out, have her talk to Gunn about people in the community where she can hide," Xander said.

"I hadn't thought about Gunn's street gang," the male said, shaking Xander's hand. "Good luck."

"You too. I hope you have many years in charge." They left. Xander settled in to consider things and make notes then get back to work. Things would happen as they would and he'd protect the innocent who needed it. Plus himself.

***

The time came when Xander was going to have to go see people he knew. He gathered the research and headed out that night, going to a certain karaoke bar. The bouncer gave him an odd look so he shook his head. "I'm passing on info." They let him in and he went to the bar. "Is Lorne in?" he asked quietly. "I've found out what the stupid are doing this time."

"He's in the office, Hunter."

"I'm Harris, dear. I'm not really a hunter anymore." She blinked then stared, mouth open. Xander grinned. "I get many looks like that." He went where she pointed, knocking on the door.

"Is it really that important?" a male voice called.

"Yeah, it is." He opened the door to lean in. "I know what Wolfram and Hart is doing, and how, and it's going to get us all screwed up the horns. I've had poker buddies who took deals so they could leave this plane."

"That's bad," the lounge singing demon said, waving him in. Xander walked in and laid things out in front of him. "We knew those."

Xander pointed. "They have hidden backers." He smiled a tiny bit. "Including a few world leaders."

"That's sucky," Lorne said. He looked it over, frowning. "What's this?"

Xander looked then pointed. "That's the rune pattern they have to use to open the portal. It'll need a hard boundary they can carve it into. It's been tried before but someone in the old Hellfire club accidentally stopped it." He pulled that out for him.

"That's really bad," Lorne said quietly. He looked up. "Your notes say invasion. Twice."

"Open the portal and spew warriors from what I've heard from the poker circuit."

"Oh, dear. I can call Angel down."

"Sure. I warded their potential sacrifice recently, and warned the ones watching her that they might be coming for her. That leaves six others. Including Fred. And Willow's girlfriend since I had her kidnaped and hidden for a week when she would've died. I've warned them to protect her against these sorts too."

"Where is she?" he demanded.

Xander grinned. "New Orleans with some bayou witches since Warren couldn't hurt her down there."

"That's been wondered about." Xander smiled. "Nice job but she'll kill you."

"Willow would've killed humanity if Tara had died. Visions were sent to me showing me that I needed to go stop her suicidal binge. So I moved around it."

"Not a bad idea. I'll call Angel but Buffy's with him right now. Something about her sister."

"I know about her sister and I've got stuff to protect her at home. Have her sent to me tomorrow afternoon, early."

"I can do that. You going to stay?"

"I can. As long as I don't have to deal with shit."

"No, there's anti-violence charms, dear."

Xander smirked. "It won't get violent but it'll probably get mean."

"You can handle it."

"Sure." He went to get a drink from the bar. He trusted the ones here not to poison him at least.

Lorne called. "Angel, it's Lorne. Xander Harris just showed up with more information on the Black Thorn things. I've got a ton here. Some we knew but there's more." He hung up and gathered it together. He had been working on the club's books but this was something more important.

Xander looked up as the door opened, nodding at the guy walking in with Buffy behind him. A few of the demons flinched. Xander looked at him. "You know she won't hurt you if you're peaceful and if she tries in here the anti-violence wards should hold, or come hide behind me." The demons nodded, calming down. Buffy hit him on the arm. He looked at her. "You break me you pay for the hospital bills."

"I don't think I will." She grimaced. "What did you hear?"

"Many things. I let Lorne see them first." He came out and went to a table so Xander followed. Angel and Buffy followed. "First, I talked to the poker circuit. I'm still hooked into some of the deeper areas that you're not," he told Buffy. "You'll need a lot of weapons." The waitress brought them all drinks. "Thanks, Miranda."

"Welcome, Harris." She strolled off.

"How does she know you?" Lorne asked.

"I helped protect the young one her pack is guarding," Xander said. "Because Woma was going after her."

"Eww, that poor girl," Lorne said, shaking his head. "Thanks for that."

"Not a problem. I help kids who need those things." He looked at Angel. "There's a few names that're behind everyone. Including a few world leaders."

Angel looked at that page of notes, grimacing. "That's bad. They have an inner group."

"They need a sacrifice soon," Xander said. "Has to be tainted by the supernatural but innocent. They wanted Fred."

"Do you know what happened to Tara?" Buffy demanded.

"Yeah. By the visions that got sent to me, Warren was going to kill her trying to get you. Then Willow would've killed humanity. Tara's being protected in bayou country by some strong, family oriented witches that I've met in the last few years. I get letters from Tara all the time."

She winced. "Willow's going to have a fit."

"Better that fit than the one where she decided all of humanity needed to feel her grief," Xander said simply. "She knew Tara got taken but not hurt. I had the poker circuit up there tell her that."

"Yeah, I heard that. I was hoping you knew where."

"I do know where. I'm the one that had the demon take her, and the cat."

Buffy nodded. "Great. I'll...tell her Tara's safely hidden. She'll hate that she hasn't written her."

"There's some strong witches down there," Angel said, looking at Harris. Xander nodded. "Which family?"

"Marabath, one of the secondary daughters."

"That's a strong sorcerer and his daughters are all uptight but strongly light sided."

"And think the Devon Coven are poser bitches," Xander agreed with a grin. "I heard from Tara last month. They were introducing her to nice girls at a tea. She had stressed about that."

"Good for her if she's happy then," Buffy decided. "Can I have her address?"

"I'm not sure if Willow should have it," Xander said. "I suggested she write to Giles or someone." He shifted. "I've heard from Oz too. He's second head of his pack at the temple."

"That's good," Buffy said, smiling a tiny bit. "He's happy?" Xander nodded. "Good. That's good for him."

"I'm glad he's found somewhere to be safe," Angel said, going over the rest of the notes. "Is this the warding pattern?" he asked.

"No, that's the portal pattern, minus two lines. Needs to have a firm boundary to have it carved in. If it's just drawn it can be erased by accident." He shifted to look at him better. "They have a framework from an older portal try already so they need to carve the symbols the last I heard."

"Good to know," Buffy said. "Any idea when?"

"If they can do the sacrifice this month, in three weeks. If they can't do it this month, it'll have to be near the next eclipse for the sacrifice then two and a half weeks later."

She nodded. "That gives us an idea. How many possible victims?"

"Tainted by the supernatural but innocent?" Lorne asked. "I can think of maybe twenty or thirty off the top of my head."

"Any kid in a pack," Xander said. "Raised by a vampy parent, or in the homeless shelter for families that's run by a vampire family." Angel shook his head quickly. "They don't feed on them. One's a former social worker. The succuba run one for kids with supernatural heritage. That's been warned and I did the wards myself so each kid in there is protected with alarms at the very least."

"So hundreds of possible kids," Buffy said. "Can we stop the ones doing it?"

"I hope so," Angel said. "If not?"

"That mark," he said with a point. "Sets it going to a certain realm that has flesh eating species. They've been at war for generations due to overcrowding. Coming here to take over is not only imperative for their survival but also fun and worthwhile for them." He looked at Angel. "It's going to be open portal and spew. You'll need higher and lower weapons because there's no way we can fight a battle for hours with a sword."

"We?" Buffy asked.

He looked at her. "You think I won't help by falling in this time? I've helped you subtly a few times in the past. Even if I did prompt someone to do something slightly evil to counteract your evil thing." He grinned. "You're welcome."

"I'm not getting into that topic of discussion or the Coven's thing," Buffy said firmly.

"I didn't turn them in. When a reporter asked me I just told them who the coven were. They went looking. And at Sunnydale's failed schools." He grinned. "That means they have it better."

"Good. My sister needs to find a real life outside all of this."

"Is she eligible for that sacrifice?" Xander prompted. Buffy groaned, sending her a text message. "If she's here in LA, I can take her a to a club and be a lame guardian sort."

"Yeah, she is, but she's with Willow," Buffy said. Xander shook his head. "I'll have her come here. We can go clubbing together later."

Xander grinned. "I can do a few things so she won't pick up anyone who has something."

"Thanks. Do an anti-pregnancy one?"

"Yeah, I can do that. Not that hard. All the stuff's at home though."

"That's fine. I trust you that far."

"I'm not going to debauch her, Buffy. I might introduce her to some hunters though."

"That might work," she decided. "They'd at least know why." Xander nodded. "That's a good idea."

Xander sent a text message to a hunter. He said he wasn't local but one was and he'd protect her. He pointed out she might have magic and he said he'd call someone else in that case. "I'll bring her to my place so they can put up protections." He looked at her. "I'll ward her at the same time."

"Thank you, Xander." She looked over the notes, frowning. "It really will take hours."

"We'll have to destroy the frame of the portal to bring it down," Xander said. "Without disturbing the magic in the center. Doing that might do funky things instead, maybe even change the location it goes to. That could help us or make us enemies. Or bring more problems."

"So destroy the door frame but not the magic door," Buffy said. Angel nodded. "Okay. Would it be in the open?"

"Somewhere in their building we'll have to fight our way into and then out of," Lorne said.

"That's going to suck," Buffy said. "Preplanning might help though. Higher weapons?"

"Would help," Angel said. "Can you find us something?" he asked Xander.

Xander grinned. "Got a few somethings in the basement that may work. Might need something higher like a tank though. That would get us into the building at the least."

"Will others jump in?" Buffy asked.

"Yeah, a full blown invasion would probably get agents who hate us," Lorne said dryly, looking at Xander.

"I have a few contacts. They would. They'd hate any demons helping."

"The community would probably jump in," Lorne said. "Warrior clans aren't heavy here."

"I'd rather have them guarding the vulnerable areas," Xander said. "It's safer if they guard the shelter Gunn's people run and the safe shelters for the local community. There's bound to be people who respond who'll think they're icing on top of the problem."

"I'll point that out," Lorne agreed. "We won't have enough even if we have an army."

"There's Marines and Navy guys about an hour away," Buffy said. "Willow and I went to see the ships."

"I'm sure we'll see them," Angel said. "There's a few other bases nearby."

Xander nodded. "If we warn them something's going to happen that day, they might get here faster. But with a few possible dates it'll be a problem."

"Point. I have a few agent contacts I can talk to," Angel said. Xander nodded. "Anything else you've been told, Xander?"

"Two visions from guys in the midwest that know about me. One said you're going to shanshu or whatever." Angel grimaced but nodded. "The other one said that this is going to blow things open even worse than Sunnydale did and he didn't see Buffy in the press later but she was clearly alive. Though the Council was trying to fix that for her and Faith."

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, they would," Buffy sighed. "I'd be toasty."

"I have a good set of guards," Xander said. "If you need their name, let me know?"

"I can do that. You have guards?"

"Yeah. Thanks to you and Willow, I have hunters who try to come in and kill me." He stared at her. "Thanks a lot." She slumped down. He looked at Lorne. "You look thoughtful."

"Can you go to somewhere tonight to save someone that could help you?"

"Sure. Why not. Where?" Lorne wrote that down with a description. "Who... Is that Hammond?"

"Yeah," he said. "TJ's in a lot of trouble. His dealer's been in here singing and he has plans to take him out. I think you two could help each other."

Xander leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. "Thank you for finding me a new friend." He got up and left. "Call, Lorne."

"I can do that, kiddo." He looked at Buffy. "Those stupid hunters who think with their shotguns? They think he's a toy of a demon. He's not but they hate him mightily."

"Not my doing," she said. "I haven't said a thing about him."

"We know, sweetcheeks." He looked at Angel. "I can call a few higher members of the community here."

"Please. This is going to be a huge problem."

"Yep," Lorne said. He went to his office to call them in, including the top few changers in the area. They had a lot of possible victims to guard and horrible beings to take down. Plus Buffy's sister to get uninnocent.

***

Xander walked into the other club, heading to get a drink then looking around. He spotted the one he was here for. He was already high and wobbly. Xander walked over to him, leading him off the floor by kissing him. "Hand," he purred in his ear. "Let me make you pretty."

"I'm already pretty."

"It's to keep you from OD'ing on the demon drug, TJ. I can protect you." He stared in his eyes. "Let me draw on you?"

"Please. I thought it was normal...."

"They can do things. There's a few different drugs from off-plane that are instantly deadly for humans." He settled them at a table to draw on his arm with a marker he usually carried. The young guy got sober slowly and heaved once so Xander got him to the bathroom, protecting him from the few demons in there. One of the incubi got interested but Xander shook his head. "No. Sorry. The Host sent me to him."

"Pity, Knight." He strolled off.

TJ came out and Xander helped get him to his car, taking him back to his place. He saw a hunter waiting and Gunn had Dawn there. He got the hunter in and held up a hand. "Give me ten minutes. Gunn, can you fill them both in?"

"Yeah. I heard why."

"Because the Black Thorn people need a sacrifice that's innocent but knows about the supernatural," he said, looking at Dawn. "And you'd be their favorite toy, Dawn."

"Yay me. How bad?"

"They're going to invade LA sometime soon." He grinned. "Full blown open portal and *spew*." The hunter groaned, shaking his head. "Yeah, we're working to get a lot of possible ones guarded. Let me get TJ to bed." He walked him that way.

"Your bed?" TJ asked.

"My shower," Xander quipped. "If you want in my bed you've got to be down. I don't touch those who can't consent." He kissed him then strolled off. "Let me get her laid. You shower and lay down. I'll be back in a bit."

"Sure, thanks. We can talk later."

Xander smiled. "Sure. I'd like that." He went back out there, telling them what he knew about Black Thorn. The hunter said he'd tell others. He took Dawn to the guest room to fix that innocent piece of flesh. Xander worked up a warding pattern for her. He handed it to Gunn. "That will protect her against any higher demon coming after her. These three will keep vampires from trying to claim her, but if she wants, even for a second, they'll fail," he said quietly. "The last three are both decorative and linking so they have to work together. They have to be inlaid in blood."

"I can get her to someone good to tattoo it," Gunn promised. "Her sister's going to bitch."

"Yay. Better to have her protected so she can make decisions for herself." He smiled. "She's a teenage girl. She's going to date even if her sister hates it." He felt the magic growing and pulled something out to toss in the hallway. It helped ground the magic into the house's frame so it went into the ground instead. "It'll also keep those that already wanted her off her," he said quietly.

"Thanks. I know Buffy worries."

"Probably." He leaned back, waiting until they were done. Xander nodded at the hunter. Dawn came out a few minutes after that, after a quick shower. Xander pointed at the wards. "Have to be laid in blood so they work together, but no knights, no higher or lower demons will come for you. The only out is if you want, they can break it."

"What if they're cut," she said.

"Laid into the blood properly, with the proper infused ink, and it'll last even if you're dead from cuts," he said. "It won't keep a physical problem off you. It'll minorly protect you from vamps who only want you as food instead of as a mate." He stared at her. "Knights too."

She smiled. "You know."

"I had days of double images thanks to that spell, Dawn. The protections held though." He held out a hand. "If you need me, come running back here. I'll teach you runes."

"Thanks, Xander." She hugged him then Gunn took her back to the hotel to talk to her sister and Fred.

"That's so weird," TJ said from the hallway.

Xander grinned back at him. "People with magic often get a bit overactive their first few times. That's why people want to sacrifice them." He got up and came back, taking TJ to bed. He was cuddly and it was a good thing. Xander could sleep with someone cuddly. They'd talk the next morning.

***

Xander blinked awake, staring at the man staring at him. "Why would demons want me?" TJ asked. "My family?"

"No, I think they were going to use you to pay off their debts. A get out of my soul contract sort of thing."

"I'd be too high to protect myself," TJ said.

"They might've thought you'd be fine since you were suicidal or something." Xander shrugged. "You'd have to ask them and I have no doubt they'd lie."

"Is there a way to make sure they can't do it again?"

Xander sat up, staring at him. "I can make it so you can take as much as you want but it won't affect you. There's a way I might be able to let it affect you but not harm you. Those two can't be put together. The real problem is that you care more for the drugs than your own life."

TJ glared. "You don't understand."

"You'd be shocked." He grimaced. "I had to run away from hunting because everyone thought I was worthless for being a guy. One of them tried to sacrifice me without warning me about six months after I left. The *only* light I had in my life died thanks to vampires and started me hunting when I was sixteen."

"I've...they've never seen me for me."

"Of course not. That'd be easy." Xander stared at him, making TJ look at him. "I think your whole family sucks for multiple reasons. Including their policies and their jackass moments."

"My mom cares."

"If your mom cared, she'd help you get out of the self destructive circuit instead of trying to hide you."

"How do you know that?"

"The security team." He grinned. "I went to the bathroom a few hours ago and had a text from them about you."

"You have guards?"

"Yeah, I have people who try to break in here to kill me because I can ward places or put out apocalypse attempts in a box." He smirked. "By the way, your big brother bought one last year."

"Mom's going to shit." TJ shifted to face him. "So why come save me last night?"

"Someone suggested I should and since he sees the future sometimes...."

"Oh." He blinked a few times. "Most people would've tried to get me into their bed for other reasons."

"I'm not like others, TJ. Beyond that it'd be raping you, I'm not that sort of guy. I get plenty of people who want me for bad reasons. I have very few people I trust. I've been hunted as a prize even before I entered the hunting life, but I didn't know that until later. That's why I learned how to protect myself." He pushed his hair back into place. "If Lorne said it was important I save you, he had to know. He could've sent anyone. The fact he sent me means I need you in my life for some reason." He got out of the bed. "Want first shower?"

"I'll take second. Let me lounge like a slob."

Xander laughed. "I doubt you're very slobbery. You didn't drool all night." He went to shower and change for the day. TJ came in while he was brushing his teeth, taking his own shower. Xander found his closet straightened out and frowned. "I didn't have a housekeeper," he muttered. He found what he wanted and laid out something that should fit TJ, then got dressed and headed out to the living room. "Morning, Cordelia."

"Morning, Xander. Your closet's a mess."

"That happens sometimes. My last housekeeper left last year after trying to steal from me. Someday I need to build my own comic book level robotic helper."

She snorted, shaking her head. "I see some things haven't changed." TJ came out. "I know you."

"TJ, this is Cordelia. We dated briefly in high school. She's one of my favorite bitches." He grinned at her. "No coffee?"

"I've had some," she said dryly.

Xander made coffee while he started on breakfast. TJ inhaled his first cup and got another one. He got eggs and toast too. They sat down on the couch to talk to Cordelia. "Huge fits?"

"Buffy hated the idea of tattoos but Angel agreed with you and added a few suggestions based on who wanted Dawn for the moment. Willow just had huffy fits."

Xander ate a bite of toast, nodding. "Tara's in New Orleans."

"That's good news," she said dryly. "Why?"

"Family of witches." He grinned. "They protected her."

"Good! She could use it. Willow used memory spells on her." She grimaced then shook her head. "How did you two hook up?"

"Lorne."

"Huh. Lorne can read the future so that's a great thing I guess. You still dress like a dork. How do you get into high class parties when you dress like that?" she demanded.

"Plenty have obligations," Xander said dryly then ate some more eggs.

"Them," she muttered, looking up and shaking her head. She looked at him again. "Would you go further into that life?"

"I'm a bit paranoid about so many of them being out to own me," he said dryly.

"He's a good foil for that," she said with a point at TJ. "You two can guard each other. His dad's on the news today moaning about his poor, lost son."

"I'm not lost," TJ said. "I know where I am, mostly." He looked at Xander.

"Hembly hills."

"Nice address," TJ said. "Does doing wards make you a lot?"

"Some," Xander agreed. "Sometimes it pays more to stop an apocalypse by putting out information on how to do one. A lot of evil is lazy. I had one complain they had to add two cups of sugar." Cordelia burst out laughing. "Seriously." He grinned at TJ. "Doing that sort of research and selling it on Amazon makes me a lot more money. I make them pay a lot for each kit. The one to summon a wish granting genie went for sixty thou each." He ate another bite of dinner.

"Which one did my brother buy?" Xander looked it up for him and handed over his phone. "Mom's going to shit pollsters."

"One of her staff is a fairly old vampire too," Xander said. "It shows in the pictures."

"Damn it. Can I? Did I have my phone on me?" Xander shrugged. TJ went to look then came back talking on it. "Yes, I need to talk to my mother. Because I found out my brother bought something magical and may be helping the member of the staff that's been turned. That's why. No, I'm not high. I'm here with a guy who does that magic stuff and found out." He got handed over. "Mom, it's me. No, I'm with Mr. Harris. Met at the club actually. He helped me last night when I got given something from a demon. Did you know my brother bought a kit to summon a demon?" He listened. "Yes he did. He's the one that put it out and told me. Also, did you know one of the staffers was a vampire?" He sat down, listening to her. "No, Mom. He's been very nice to me. He even made breakfast and didn't expect sex for the rescue."

"Sex has to be mutually wanted and rescues make bad bedroom habits," Xander quipped. "You're never more than thankful, not fun, when it's for a rescue."

"He said that rescues don't make for good sex." He listened to her. Xander handed his phone back so he read the description of the kit and which credit card had paid for it. His mother looked that up and groaned. "Have we seen that demon?"

"Yeah, he owns a few members of congress," Xander said.

Cordelia looked then nodded. "And our state governor. Parts of Hollywood too. I noticed a few agents had his marks."

TJ looked at her. "How do you find that?"

"They wear a tiny little mark that looks like a mole unless you're looking for illusions," Xander said. "It's not that hard to learn how to see through them."

"Can you teach me?"

"Yeah," Xander agreed. "Not hard." He finished breakfast, putting the plate on the coffee table. One of the guards came in with the mail, handing it over. "Thank you. Anything I need to know?"

"Water main work down the hill but I don't think we'll end up without it. If so, I'll warn you so you can go to a hotel, Mr. Harris."

"Thanks. Anything good?"

"Some demon tried to show up at a park earlier and got kicked around by the one he wanted to woo." He left, going to tell the others that he had guests in.

Xander looked at Cordelia. "They're having a marital spat," she said dryly. "He cheated by buying another soul to screw. She got totally mad and repudiated him." Xander nodded, smirking some.

"That's so weird," TJ said. "Mom, why was Dad on tv mourning my loss?" he asked. "Since I got given drugs that were tainted with demon drugs?"

"That's a really good question," Xander admitted, looking at Cordelia. She found it on the news channel. They all watched it, TJ growling. Xander looked at him. "You can make a statement. I'll back you up."

"I..." He listened to his mother. "Thanks, Mom. Yeah, I'll be safe." He hung up and looked at Xander. "That's going to give you a lot of attention."

Xander shrugged. "Some day I might lose my mind and want to be the evil overlord of the US," he said dryly. "If so, you'd make a great first husband."

"They'd hate me because of the gay. They already do."

"It'd be at least fifteen years in the future," Cordelia said. "And hey, if so, oh well. Besides, Xander only draws bad girls. I heard one of his was an assassin."

"She was a lot of squealy fun. I'm kind of looking forward to her coming back sometime soon."

TJ stared at him, smirking at him. "You date assassins?"

"Three now," Xander said. "Two were twins though so they should only count as one since they wanted to be together." He considered it. "I think I dated a serial killer too. I had to interrupt our last date due to a demon trying to kill me. I should thank that demon by stabbing it. He likes it that way."

"I'll tell Barry his devious plan worked and stab him for you," Cordelia said dryly. "Before you warp the rest of LA, Xander." She got up and left, going to groan in her car before driving back to the hotel.

Xander grinned. "We used to bitch at each other then make out in closets. It was so bipolar. She was the head cheerleader and I was the lowest of the low."

"Sounds weird."

"Sunnydale was just like that." He shrugged. "It'll be okay and I can play pretend boyfriend instead if you want. I'm not going to assume anything until you tell me."

TJ stared at him. "You have worse self esteem than I do."

"Yeah but I basically got raised by Rosenburg."

"Poor guy. I've seen her on the news." He took a kiss then finished his breakfast before calling someone that was a gossip columnist. "I'm TJ Hammond. My father's smoking someone's crack. I'm not dead. Not turned, nothing like that. No, I found a friend, and he had found out I had been given demon tainted drugs. He saved me from a nasty fate. Yeah, I can be at my dad's speech tonight. Thanks for telling me. You too, Brenda." He hung up and smirked. "Do you have better clothes?"

"Some. You know where my closet is." TJ went to look then came out to take Xander shopping for something nicer. They got lunch out too. They got a hotel room since the security guards said the water was off for the rest of the day, got changed so they were prettier, then went to the speech event. They were a bit late but the Secret Service guards only groaned when they saw them.

Xander grinned and waved at one. "Hi, Initiative guy." He stiffened. Xander stared. "You have a *great* day." He walked off with TJ, holding his hand.

TJ smirked at him. When his father started to talk about his poor, lost son, TJ coughed loudly. "Really? I didn't know I was dead. Though how did you know that someone gave me demon drugs last night, Dad?" His father spluttered and choked.

"We really do think it was a plot by someone to get TJ out of their way," Xander said with a smile and a wave at the guards. Then he looked at TJ, who smirked and kissed him. "Hmm, tasty." He looked at TJ's father. "Someone had to tell me he was in trouble but we do seem to be really alike in a lot of ways."

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

Xander pulled out a card to hand over. The guard moaned and stepped back. "Hmm, usually only my former dates moan about me yet I don't know you. Pity." He looked at TJ. "I've got a tiny bit of work to do tomorrow but go grocery shopping?" They walked off.

"Yeah, I can do that. You need better taste in butter. You use the cheap stuff."

"It works. If I was baking I'd use the good stuff."

"You can bake?"

Xander smiled. "One of my former part-time jobs was in a restaurant. I learned a lot. I can follow recipes. Including making cookies."

"Cookies can be nice." They left together, going back to the hotel to hide from everyone. Including his mother when she called. That tiny bit of showing his ass was going to make his parents scream at him, but it had been effective. His mother could use the help by repudiating her ex-husband better.

***

TJ watched Xander look around the club he'd never been to before. "Relax," he said over the music. "You're too paranoid."

Xander looked at him. "That's because there's plenty of people and beings who'd love to see me dead."

TJ smirked. "Some of us just want to see you have fun."

"I've heard that from some vampires. Do you suck blood?" he teased.

"Not blood." He kissed him as he drew him onto the floor. Xander proved not to be great at dancing but pretty good at keeping up with him. That was helpful. Putting Xander through his paces meant that TJ was having some happy boy thoughts. He'd have to see where they led later. Xander snubbed someone who came to steal him, making TJ laugh. "I'm not that possessive."

"I don't play around without permission." He stared at him. "Permission means that you're bored for now."

"Not yet. I don't even know how good you scream my name," TJ taunted.

Xander smirked hard. "Who said I'll be the one screaming?"

TJ moaned, moving closer. "Top?"

"Both but I like to hear squealing before I get happy."

"Hmm. We can work that out then. Are you bi?" Xander nodded. "That's good too. Do you drink?"

"Rarely when I'm out and about. It's dangerous for me."

"Sometimes danger is good for a boy."

"Yeah, but them taking me would be a bad thing when they use me to call something to end humanity."

"That's a good point. Can you loosen up?"

Xander draped himself across TJ and got back to dancing with him. That helped and TJ was definitely having happy boy thoughts against his back. A girl came over to dance with them and Xander made her moan a lot after pulling her closer. TJ let out a few moans too. So apparently it was good for him too.

TJ led Xander back to their seating area, letting the girl follow to tease them. Xander was good at making her squeal quietly while letting TJ watch in amusement. He got his own playmate then Xander leaned over to rest against TJ's leg. "I can do this," TJ complained.

"She's a succuba. I'm making sure she won't feed on you. They can't feed off me for some reason." The succuba moaned, leaning down to kiss him. He smirked at her. "Hey, baby."

"Xander," she moaned. "Can't I have him?"

"No. Sorry. Possibly mine." She pouted but got TJ off and left without eating off him. Xander looked at him. "Do they usually like you?"

"I have no idea. I don't think I've ever run into one before."

Xander smirked. "We can work on that. I find them fun playmates since they can't eat me."

"How do you do that?"

"I have no idea." He took a kiss then stood up, hauling TJ up. "I need worn out. I'm bouncy today."

"You get bouncy after sex?" he asked with a smile.

"Yeah. It just sets off my stamina." He smirked evilly. "It'll take at least four more before I get exhausted." He started to move on the floor.

TJ followed, watching how this new playmate moved. Xander did have skills. He'd have to see if it transferred into a bedroom. Or maybe a back hall if he could get him isolated for some better fun.

Then the bad thing happened and a demon stomped in throwing people out of the way. Xander looked at him, hand on his hidden sword. "Dude, are you stupid?" he demanded.

"I can claim you," the demon sneered. "The witch gave me how."

"I doubt that since she's got no hold on me." He stared at him. "Even if you tried, I'd be challenging you to combat." The demon sneered. Xander shrugged. "Let's go out back, dear. Talk about this like men. Ooh, sorry, not meant to insult you, young lady." He walked off. "Be right back." The demon tried to pounce so Xander moved and got him out and away from people, then fought the demon. He was more than good enough for this.

TJ was watching and it gave him incentive to be better than usual. The demon died with a scream of pain and Xander stared down at him. "Go ahead and tell Willow to try again, mother fucker. Let's see what I do to her." The demon slowly faded into a puddle of goo and ickiness. Xander went into the bathroom, coming back with paper towels to clean of his sword then he hid it again. "Okay, now I need stress relief." He looked at TJ. "Let's go somewhere else?"

"Yeah, we can do that. You good? Injuries?"

"Few scratches but nothing huge." He shrugged. "I've had worse on patrol." They left through the back door, heading around to where the car was parked. The few demons out there stared at them then slowly backed away from the car. "Good idea. Can someone tell Willow that she doesn't have that right any longer?"

"She has some of your hair," one said.

Xander smirked. "I'm going to smite her."

"We can get it from her."

"I'm still going to be smiting her."

"We can tell the slayer."

"It won't save her from smiting," Xander promised. "If she keeps up, I'm going to use one of my kits to summon a djinn and ask for later political gains." They demons all whined and one was sending a text message. "Tell Angel I said hi." That one nodded and they backed further away so Xander and TJ could leave. Xander looked at him once they were in the car. "Usually I'm not seen as that scary but sometimes you gotta be."

"That was kinda hot," TJ admitted.

Xander blew a kiss. "A sword is a metaphor for a dick but you should see me with my battle axe." He winked and drove them off, going to a better club he liked. It was harder and nastier. People had sex in there and had fun with it sometimes. TJ looked around but they gave Xander respect and they had a good dance floor. They got all sorts of people to tease and play with so Xander didn't worry about wearing out TJ too much later on.

***

TJ woke up when someone knocked on the bedroom door the next morning. "What?" he yelled.

Xander flinched awake. "What's going on?"

"Mr. Harris, your special friend's mother is here," one of the guards called.

"Okay, let her into the living room and we'll be out in about fifteen minutes when we get dressed," Xander said, looking at TJ, who shrugged. "I know she's seen you naked, she changed your diapers. She probably hasn't seen me unless she's found a picture from the demon underground." TJ gave him a confused look. "Right after I left I ended up working in an underground, illegal strip club for three months. So there's probably naked pictures floating around somewhere." He got up, going to hose off in the shower.

TJ shook his head but followed, wincing some as he walked. "You threw out my back."

"Thankfully I'm great at massages," he teased with a smile. He took a kiss and handed over the bottle of body wash. TJ got clean too and they got dressed then went out to talk to TJ's mom. "Hi," Xander said with a wave. "Let me start coffee."

"That's nice of you, Mr. Harris."

"Xander please." He started coffee, handing TJ the first cup. TJ stared at him. "I'm still in a perky mood."

"You have way too much stamina, Xander." Xander blew a kiss and winked, starting on breakfast too. TJ sat down on the couch with a wince. "He threw my back out at a dance club," he explained.

"I'm sure that happens. Are you all right?"

He nodded, sipping his coffee. "I'm okay, Mom."

"We found out who slipped you the demon tainted drugs."

"I've heard. Xander let me talk to the guy who sent him to help me." He sipped his coffee. "Lorne's weird but a nice enough guy."

"That's good." She stared at him. "Your father's sorry."

"I'm sure he is." He stared at her. "I'm not sure I care."

"Point. Your brother bought that to see what it contained. He was going to use it against others who had markings."

"Xander taught me how to see through illusions so I can see the various marks." He took another drink of his coffee. Xander came out to hand over some toast then went back to cooking.

"How many have them?" she asked, looking toward Xander. He grinned at her. "You've seen some I'm sure, Xander."

"Lots." He smirked. "Most aren't openly marked. Very few demons would demand an open marking on a neck or an arm. Though you might want to tell one young woman that her special necklace she said her boyfriend gave her is actually the same as a demon's mark. I don't think he can take her for it but someone will ask sometime."

"I can do that," she said. "How many have you seen?"

"Seventeen in the press openly. We'd have to see pictures of them in panties or a bathing suit to find out how many for real since the local demon higher ups think that about forty to fifty percent have some sort of marking." He looked back at her with a grin. "Including a few in your husband's people. Also, you might want to look into some of the guards' former postings and not allow any who were Initiative. They were the ones who were torturing demons. You nearly got assassinated for that because your husband allowed that program to start. Though he did have it ended."

She nodded once. "I'll have that looked into."

"It's classified," Xander said. "Totally cleansed. There's a few ways they put that program into the duty location records. Including 'Sunnydale' and a few other bases."

"I'll have that looked into," she repeated. She relaxed, looking at her son. "Are you all right?"

"I'm good, Mom, but you woke us up."

She smiled. "It's nearly nine."

"We got in at two." He ate another bite of toast, then handed her one. She smirked, nibbling on it. Xander came out with eggs for them. "Thanks."

"Welcome." He settled on the couch. "Do you want me to talk to a contact to see which demons have people?"

"Could you?"

Xander nodded, sending a text message. He got one back with a list. "Hmm, six main ones. There's three with minor holdings." Another text message came in. He smirked. "I know you owe me something and no, you taking out Willow won't pay it off." He answered that one and got a third message. "Oooh." He held that one up. TJ's mother read it with a wince. He went back to the first message for her. She groaned. "That's a really bad thing."

Xander smirked and nodded. "Very. Especially since that one," he said with a point. "Is one step on the way to an ascension. Like the Sunnydale mayor had done."

She blinked a few times, looking that up. She stared at it. Xander looked then took her phone to find the video, handing it back. She watched it, shuddering as he changed. "That's gross."

"Very. Which is why I suggested someone else do their attempt the same day because fighting off that one would give her more status." Xander grinned.

She looked at him. "Damn." He laughed but nodded, eating some eggs.

TJ ate a bite then looked at him. "What sort of eggs are those?"

"Turkey."

"Oh. I thought they tasted weird."

"I use half and half to thin them." TJ nodded, digging in again. Xander wouldn't poison him. He was courting him and poisoning wouldn't help that any. He looked at his mother, handing over another piece of toast. She nibbled to calm her stomach then put her phone up. TJ smiled. "So, Mom, last night Xander threatened that if Rosenburg doesn't leave him alone he's going to call a genie to ask for political gains."

She looked at him. "I can introduce you. It'd be easier."

"Genies can do some amazing things," Xander quipped, smiling at her. "I don't want to but if I have to so others are protected... better me than Buffy or Willow."

"Good point. I'll keep that in mind." She stood up. "I'll let you two get on with your days while I go yell at his father. Nice meeting you, Xander." She shook his hand then left, going to the hotel. She called people in to talk to them. She stared at her ex-husband. "Go away." He huffed but stayed. "Boys, he is to go to rehab or whatever will help undo his mental issues." They nodded. "Also," she said, looking at one, the one Xander had pointed out. "What's this Initiative project thing?"

"That's classified, ma'am," he said.

She stared at him. "I doubt that." He flinched back. She called a number in DC. "It's Hammond. Put him on with the head of the Secret Service please." She waited, sitting down. "It's me." They said something. "I just talked to Mr. Harris, who has taken up with TJ after protecting him from a demon's idea of getting him. He has identified six demons who own at least forty percent of DC's powerful people. He has also identified what an ascension is and how three of them were going there."

She listened. "I do have the video he pulled up but look up the mayor of Sunnydale." The head of the Secret Service heaved when he found it. "He also suggested we talk about a program that is classified and cleansed called the Initiative because some of the guards here with me were part of them. Including that the program nearly got my whole family assassinated before Bud ended that project."

Her ex-husband winced, but sat down with a sigh. "It was so nasty even those who wanted to torture others thought they went too far," he said. "It was the army breaking down demons in any way they wanted to so they could understand what they could and were able to do. It was so nasty that when I got the first real report on what was going on, I nearly flew out to LA to shut it down personally but a demon attacked us and I vowed I was shutting it down. That team was taking them down when my chosen team was flying out." He cleared his throat. "The military tribunal said that most of them went to jail."

"Some of us went to the UN for hunting squads, sir, and some of us went to Homeland Security then switched around," one of the guards said quietly. "I was on the last month's team and helped shut them down. It was so nasty that many of us found God, ma'am."

She looked at him. "Did you participate?"

"No, ma'am, I was still in training to join a capture team when we were taken down. I did help make sure that some of them were released from the cages."

She looked at him then her ex-husband. "It was that nasty," he assured her.

She nodded. "We do not need guards with that stain on them," she said. The ones on the phone agreed. "I need to make sure that the local demon cultures know I'm not going to restart it." She listened. "Yes, that's an ascension. Harris said he talked someone into doing one to counter him to get more status. It helped that graduation."

"What graduation?" Bud asked. She pulled up that video to let him see it. "What the hell?" he demanded.

"Exactly," she said. "Three people in DC are presently showing marks to demons that help with that rite." They could hear someone on the phone screaming at someone else. She winced. "Don't yell that in my ear please," she said. "No, Harris is weird. He's the guy that does those rune protections on hospitals but also put out kits that let people do a shorter summoning of demons. Including the kit my other son bought to see who else was doing whatever." Bud grimaced. "Also, you need to talk to George. I inherited him from your people and he's been a vampire for years now, Bud."

"I can do that," he agreed.

"Jesus God!" the phone yelled loudly enough to be heard without the speaker being on. "You are not doing that in DC!"

She sighed. "Someone should probably call in to help the president get that demon wanting one down," she said dryly, letting the guards call in. She looked at the guards then at Bud. "Our son seems to be much taken with Mr. Harris."

"I'll have him vetted," Bud complained.

"TJ said he didn't care if you had died," she said bluntly. "And he's not sure he ever will again since you went on the news saying he had died of an overdose when he hadn't."

"Someone told me they had given him tainted drugs and he was going to die."

"And you didn't warn him?" she demanded. "Or any of us so we could warn him? Thankfully Mr. Harris got sent to save him by someone." She stared at him. "TJ thinks you should be forever far away from him. I'm not sure if I think Pluto is far enough away."

He grimaced but nodded once. "I'll make peace with our son."

"Good luck with that," she said sarcastically. "If Harris lets you near him. He seems a bit possessive yet happy with him."

"He put out an apocalypse in a box kit," one of the guards said.

"Yes, and he's used the ones who bought them to counteract some other apocalypse battles," she said dryly. "Then again, if I had went from being a hunter to an outcast thanks to bitchy girls I might've done the same thing," she said dryly. "Especially since he swore if Rosenburg tried to bother him again he'd call a genie to ask for a favor to get a political position." The guard whimpered, shaking his head slowly.

Bud cleared his throat. "TJ would hate that."

"It'd be years in the future. Harris is only early twenties."

The phone rang with another shout. She listened, then winced. "Someone just found his mark. Charming." She hung up and looked at her ex-husband. "So."

He nodded. "I'll make peace with TJ and his new boyfriend. If he wants political gain later on, I'll lend him help." He got up and left.

She looked at the guards, who all called their supervisors while she went to send out messages to her top helpers. Her other son also needed a long discussion from her.

***
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