Congrats, You're Growing A Weird Little Family. by Voracity2
Summary: Multiple options for dealing with the HYDRA stuff. Also, mini slayers being helpfully cute helps many people.
Categories: Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Avengers Characters: None
Series: Congrats Series
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 22819 Read: 10713 Published: 08/01/2014 Updated: 08/01/2014
Congrats, You're Growing A Weird Little Family. by Voracity2
Congrats, You're Growing A Weird Little Family.







A few days later, Andrew was watching the news. "Hey, Xander?" he called. "Since when was our sixth grade english teacher some sort of superior soldier?"

Xander came in to look over his shoulder, staring at the tv. "That is him. Hm." He watched the battle. The two heros had been captured. "Get the girls down there to get me intel."

"Xander, that's hero stuff and we don't butt into that," Buffy said firmly.

"I'm not, I'm just going to break the jail cell. HYDRA won't win this one either." He walked off to gather things. Hill sent him a message saying she had it so he went down to find the guy. That guy might just be the lead they'd been looking for on Suzette's past. The local slayers had been tracking him through the underground. It made it a lot easier on him. Since Hill had the others, he didn't worry too much about them but left standing orders for them to be protected if necessary. He used one of his capturing traps on the guy as he was returning for processing. He had live feed to Andrew, who could handle the rest for him.

Xander took their new friend to a private location to get to know about him. He had things they needed to know. If he remembered them.

***

Suzette gasped awake, then struggled out of her bed to run and pounce her uncle. "Uncle Tony, they tried to blow up Daddy. Beth heard and she's hurt." She bounced on him and repeated it until he got up and went to check. She made herself calm down but it'd be okay. It had to be okay.

Tony came back an hour later, looking at her. She was still sitting in the middle of his bed, trying to catch her breath. "He's fine. He and Natasha are both okay. I warned Beth in time, she ran interference outside and let the other girls handle it. One of them is injured but not in the same way." She sighed but nodded, biting her lip. He hugged her, taking her out to the living room. JARVIS was tape delaying the news footage so she wouldn't see anything too horrible with her father. She rested her head on his shoulder and watched the news with her. Clint came out in uniform. "Barton?"

"That's bullshit and they know it. There's HYDRA people involved. Them blaming Cap is dumassery at its finest."

"I saw Uncle Xander. He was talking to someone," Suzette said quietly, looking at him.

"Good." He walked outside, calling Andrew. "It's me." He listened. "Can you please? It'll take some of the heat off them. Yeah, it's definitely HYDRA, Nat said so. Suzette got a dream vision." He listened and nodded. "Done. I'm heading." He got a cab and stared at the staring cabby. "I'm going to DC. Whichever means is closest." He put money through the screen and the cabbie took off as fast as he dared.

***

Andrew walked out and found a reporter, staring at her. She wasn't reputable but oh well. "It's HYDRA. Like those dirty agents they found. Xander got reported it by the girls in DC. They found a ton of them inside SHIELD, who's been clearing itself for over a month."

"Fuck!" she shouted, calling that in. Her editors called others, who didn't want to believe them but Xander shot a packet of information at them and Andrew went back to hacking. Xander needed to know the agents who were dirty. He could find that. Plus all the stuff they had already stolen.

"Crap," he said, staring at it. He called Suzette's special phone, getting Banner. "Tell Stark that HYDRA took Loki's scepter from SHIELD," he said then hung up. He got back to work. Willow tried to interrupt him. He looked at her. "They tried to take out the slayers and the US. Bite me. Xander needs the agents we can't trust down there near the girls." She shrugged and walked off, letting him handle it. He was covered and not like HYDRA would try to charge him with hacking. If they did, he'd destroy them. When the FBI got there a few hours later, he switched to destroying them. The agents stomped in. He held up a printout. "The HYDRA agents that were trying to stop Captain America and the Black Widow earlier."

"That was HYDRA?" one demanded.

Andrew looked at him. "Don't play stupid. Really." He smiled. "By the way, how's the baby snake your wife's carrying? Only one head, right?" The agent flinched back, shaking his head. "You're on their lists."

"I..."

The computer tech agent moved closer. "That's their recruitment list. You're wanted, Bob." He helped Andrew. "Don't steal anything," he warned.

Andrew grinned. "I'm crippling the guy that sent that warrior after Steve and Natasha. He was in charge of SHIELD." The computer agent shuddered. "Plus their European branches. They're really stupid and they have things like the power source that let Loki invade."

"Fuck," the other agent muttered. "Find it, have your people rescue it. At least we know we can trust you with magical stuff usually."

"On the way to being done," Andrew said, waving a hand. His computer was doing it on her own but he was helping in another area. The computer tech agent was giving him an awed look. Andrew grinned. "Magical tech." He got back to work. "Ladies, this does not excuse you from patrol or school!" he bellowed. Slayers ran for their stuff for patrol and a few went to bed since they were up past their bedtimes. Xander reappeared, handing over something with a smirk. "From?"

"Pierce's shitty office. He's relying on technical support." He smiled and disappeared.

Andrew shivered. "Xander's slipped toward evil. Good. It's a good day for it." He got back to what he was doing. That disc had a virus but the computer agent took care of it and found what they wanted. He looked. "That Soldier. That's one Xander's been looking for. We found some records when he found that lab near the Black Sea, where we found them growing some kids." The computer agent nodded and made note of that. He started another search for those answers. He had nearly forgotten but all their information was soon to be his anyway. He could make a better human race *so* much better than HYDRA could, and they'd be polite and not nag like Willow too. The watching agents just let them go at it. By the lists of compromised agents, they had snakes in their grass too.

***

Xander reappeared in public the next morning, staring at the senator decrying Steve and everything that had went on. It was the same one that had threatened to jail them for destroying a park. He cleared his throat. A few reporters stared at him. "He who takes payments from HYDRA should not spout shit," he said loudly. The reporters all gasped and stared at him. He stared at the senator, smiling. He held up the envelope.

"A real reporter can have this. An agent found their payroll last night." He waved it. A few made grabs. "I meant not a tabloid reporter, ladies." He stared at one, who was shaking her head. "Yeah, I know your boss is on here, and so is she," he said with a point. He looked at one. "Dude?"

"Man," he said, taking it. He looked in there, pulling out the forms. He found the senator's name. "He's been on the HYDRA payroll since before his first political run," he announced. "Eighty-four." The agents guarding him captured the senator. He looked up their names and looked at one. "Maybe you should call in for a replacement?" He smiled. The agent's eyes went wide and he turned and ran. He looked over but Xander was gone. Instead there was a hellhound there and it was drooling. "You probably can't eat them until agents have questioned them. But go fetch the running agent, dog." It sniffed him then loped after that one. It dragged the agent back and sat on it, butt on his face, and barked happily at the agents stomping his way.

The slayer in the crowd petted it with a coo. "Such a good puppy." One of them gave her a shove so she shoved back, using slayer strength. "Get off me, slime." She stared at him and smirked evilly. "We slayers know who's good and who's not. We may work with some bastards now and then during emergencies but today's not one for us."

She petted the dog until he got off the agent, then settled in to give him a bath. "Such a good pup. My sister would be really happy. Merideth, not Sonya, dog." It relaxed and went back to the happy puppy stuff. She smiled at the reporters. "We at the new Council of Watches *know* that Captain America was fighting against these sorts last night. He has our help if he wants it or needs it. We'll. Be. Damned." Gongs rang around her. She looked up then smiled. "Magical oaths. Great things. Let me go find my weapons so I can jump in."

One of the agents stopped her by grabbing her arm. "It's against humans. That's not the slayer way."

"Do I really think the beings who tortured people like that are human?" she asked. "Vampires used to be human too. Then they changed."

"Let us do it, Slayer. We'll gladly help the Captain and others who are fighting this battle while you protect your people and your kind. We're pretty sure HYDRA never went to them but you never know."

She snorted. "They tried to figure them out at one time but otherwise, no. They're not involved. For that matter, they don't touch slayers because they don't want us to lose a battle either."

"Neither do I. Wait for the second string. Let us regain some of our honor." She nodded and backed off, taking the dog with her. He looked at the reporters. "Go. Away." They kept filming. "Someone clear the civilians."

"Yes, sir," a few agents said. One was busy photocopying the list of dirty agents and their bank accounts while the reporter made sure he got back his copy. Which faded out whenever anyone but a reporter touched it.

***

"Well, if it isn't my favorite sixth grade teacher," Xander said casually, staring at the man waking up.

"Who are you?" he demanded. He looked around. "Where am I?" It looked like a darkened room without any windows on the walls and only a light behind him.

"You're safe," Xander said. "Mr. Andreyev is the only name I know you by. Do you have another one?"

"I... who? I'm not whoever you think I am. Let me go before I destroy you."

"The people who had you are gone," Xander said quietly. "They've been removed. The ones with the machines and the pain and the cryo unit we found are gone." The guy flinched. Xander stared at him. "I am not with them."

"The man. I knew him. I have to find him."

"You may have. I have no idea on that. I'm only here to ask you about a few things. Which I'm seeing may be a bit futile at the moment." He sighed. "Do you know anything about a lab that was making future children for soldiers?"

"No."

"Do you know anything about a specialist school for boys? Three boys were taken there from that lab."

The guy shook his head. "I'm not told those things. I am given an assignment and I carry it out."

"Okay," Xander agreed. "What do you know of slayers and watchers?"

"I know nothing." He shook his head quickly. "I know nothing."

"That's fine. We can help you recover those," Xander said, getting up and coming over. He tied the guy's hair back for him. "Has to be more comfortable with the way you need a shower." He sat down again, staring at him. "Do you want to be protected?"

"From what?" Xander flipped on the magical tv in there, letting him see the current news footage of agents being arrested, multiple senators and representatives. Multiple other world leaders. He said something quietly. Xander looked at him. "I was told my assignments changed the world. I changed history."

"You have. Now we're working on changing it back." He sat down again. "I can protect you. Let you hide somewhere you can heal. See if you can get back those memories." The man stared at him. "The only thing I want in return is help finding those children and their information. Your bosses had them."

The soldier nodded slowly. "They have many training facilities." Xander showed him the file he had copies of. He shook his head. "I don't know that one." He pointed. "They're like I am."

"Is that your designation?"

"I'm the asset," he said.

"What's your code name?" Xander asked.

"The Winter Soldier."

Xander nodded. "Then I think at least one of those boys is yours." The man stiffened, shaking his head. Xander nodded, showing him the files. "All they call them is Soldier. I need to find them before they do to them what they did to you. Or before they manage to take back the ones I've rescued. If you help me, I'll help you heal and give you a safe place to do that."

"It won't wait," he said. "Cut off one head and another two will take its place."

Xander shook his head. "Not if you burn the stump." He stood up. "Or you pierce the head but don't cut it off."

"I am a sniper."

Xander grinned. "I'm good with many weapons but you're probably better. That's why I'm asking for help."

"Are they yours?"

"One is," he said, losing the smile. "I'm pretty sure we've already lost him." The man nodded. "I'm going to leave and take you somewhere safe. This is a temporal fold inside something so you're safe in here. Rest. You need rest to heal." He left, and turned to close the trunk. He took it to the airport and then through to his vacation home that Willow could not get to. Only Andrew could get there without an airplane ride. And one slayer who he trusted not to nark. But Suzette was too young to know that. He found Kate Bishop at the other end, giving him a look. "Why are you here?" he demanded quietly, walking her off. He picked the trunk up from the baggage claim.

"The girls in DC thought you needed quiet help." He gave her a look. "What? There's still speculation that we're dating or you're training me," she said dryly then smiled, putting on her sunglasses. "I'm as quiet as you can get in this case."

"But this time I need secrecy, Kate. Total secrecy. His life may depend on it."

She nodded. "That's fine. I know how to do that too." She took the large steamer trunk's other handle. "I also recognize this. I rented a car." She tossed over the keys. He shook his head but let her help since she was so insistent. They got to the house up in the mountains and put up the strongest alarms and wards then she opened the case. She blinked at the man walking out. "Okay. Xander?" She had seen that guy on tv last night.

"I'm pretty sure they made him one of those kids' dad, Kate." He looked at the guy. "This is Kate Bishop. She wanted to help and she's one to fight against bad things. I've done some of her training. The only other two who can get here are Andrew," he said, pointing at his picture. "And Suzette. She doesn't know where here is yet." He took one of Bucky and put it into a spare frame. "Now you can cross it without help."

"Where is here?" He looked out a window. "Pretty. Jungle?"

"Volcanic island. This is a small vacation home I have," Xander said. "That is also full of slayer necessities." He pointed at a closet. "Through there is the armory if you need it." The man nodded, looking around again. "Everyone here knows I'm Council so they don't bother me. They know if I'm here there's usually a pretty good injury." He smiled slightly. "My rep does have that benefit." He walked into the kitchen, tossing Kate the keys. "Food please?"

"Got it," she said, heading out to the local markets.

He looked at him. "She's young and helpful and excitable," he said quietly. "But she's a good girl and she's very helpful. I trust her to be able to protect herself. Even if you lose it and go spastic."

"I..."

Xander put on water for tea. "I have stuff for headaches." The man tried to attack him but Xander just stared at him when he grabbed him. "Go ahead." The man blinked, not able to kill him. Xander got free and made the tea. It smelled like moss. "I learned this in Africa. It helps with bad dreams and bad headaches. I use it for vision headaches."

"Visions?"

"Yes. I'm a seer as well." He looked at him. "Which sucks ass." He finished with the tea, handing a cup over then sipping his. The man had seen him do everything in the open so he knew it wasn't drugged. He sniffed and grimaced but drank it. Then he moaned and held his head. "Head rush? Give it two minutes. It did it to me the first time too." The man gulped the rest then went to sit on a chair facing outside. Xander came out to sit. When Kate got back, she handed over the bags of fruit, letting him take what he wanted while she put the rest up.

Kate came out to stare at him. "I am not going to harm you while you heal," she said. "I vow it upon my position as a helper to slayers." A tinkly sound went off. She smiled. "Magical oaths." She shrugged and went back to the kitchen.

Xander smiled. "She's good. I like having her at my back." Kate smiled at him and blew a kiss. "Make sandwiches?"

"Of course. Eat some fruit. You push it on the mini slayers but never eat any yourself, Xander."

He picked up an apple to eat. The man ate one and nodded, inhaling more fruit until he got a sandwich. "Thank you," he said. "I needed sustenance."

She nodded. "I'm sure you did. It's been a while." She sat down on the couch with Xander, looking at him. "What about 'Drew?"

"He's been busy tearing down HYDRA all day. He didn't even make school lunches. He paid for school lunches out of his own pocket." She shivered. He grinned. "They're very happy he's helping."

"I'm sure they are." She looked over then at Xander. "He know anything about the boys?"

"No. They wiped his memories a bunch of times we think. Andrew's gathering all we know about him." She nodded, eating her own food. "Aren't you busy being a Hawkeye?"

"Not this week. Clint's in DC backing up Steve and Natasha with Steve's friend from the VA."

"I like Sam. I met him over a few of the rescues." She nodded. "He's got that same upstanding yet crazy motherfucker thing going that I do."

"I can't argue with that designation," she quipped, finishing her lunch. The guy was staring at the meat in his sandwich. "It's ham," she said. "There's also turkey or bologna in there if you want."

"I've eaten this before."

Xander nodded. "It's pretty standard in most of the world so I'm sure you have," he agreed. "You'll remember it some day if it's important." The man nodded. "What do we call you?"

"What name did you call me at first?"

"You were sent to be my sixth grade english teacher," Xander said. "You were the best teacher we ever had and actually got some of us to read for fun." He smiled. "You disappeared after about two months. You called yourself Mr. Andreyev."

"I don't remember that. Will that name work?"

"That's up to you. It's your name," Xander said.

"Then that will work, even if it was an assignment. What is going on with those who sent me before?" Xander turned on the tv. He watched as more people were being arrested and some were talking to agents so they were making sure they had everyone. It was giving him options for tactics and ideas on what needed to happen next. This one needed his help to find children his bosses had hurt like they had hurt him. "The man," he said with a point.

"That's Steve Rogers. Or Captain America," Kate said. "He's a nice guy. Pretty uptight. He's an Avenger."

"I know him. He called me a name."

Xander nodded. "I can figure that out." The man looked at him. "What did he call you?"

"Bucky?" He rubbed his forehead.

"It's a flash," Xander said quietly. "A memory trying to come up. They'll come as you let them, but I can promise they won't all be good ones. You used to be a teenage boy and I'm sure you had bad days too."

"I killed people," Mr. Andreyev said.

Xander nodded. "So have I." The man nodded at that, looking at Kate.

"I try to just wound unless I'm helping a slayer and they're attacking someone. I'm like that."

"Wounding means you can ask questions," Mr. Andreyev said.

"So we'll call you Bucky Andreyev until you figure out who you were," Xander said. The man nodded at that and got another orange to eat.

"I got him stuff," Kate said, getting up and going outside. She came back. "Here. Some underwear, some shorts, some t-shirts, because it's too hot here to wear anything else. Also soap and shampoo." She pointed at them then smiled. "And a brush so you can get the knots out."

"Thank you." He looked at her. "Why are you helping him?"

"Because in a lot of ways I'm a lot like him. Only I'm a girl and I like bows instead of battle axes." She smiled. "I jumped into the battles slayers have to help them just like he did, because no one should have to do it alone. He's like a big brother to me as well. Me and all the slayers." Xander nodded. She sat down. "I'd never let anyone suffer like you were. It's wrong and it's evil. I fight evil."

He nodded. "Maybe it will help." He looked at the clothes. All darker colors but none in black.

Xander grinned. "When you think you're ready to not hide, we'll get you more clothes that you can sneak around in. For now, we want you to rest, to heal, to see if you can regain those memories of yours. You're safe here. HYDRA can't get here. Gods can't get in here. I've had a few hell gods who tried to get in here and couldn't." Bucky nodded at that. "So for now, just regroup and do what you gotta do."

"I...I can do that. Where am I bunking?"

Kate hopped up and led him to a room. "This one's usually mine because it's got the bathroom but you can have it this time." She smiled. "The water's really warm and it's got a great bed if your back or anything hurts. I've hidden here after a few bigger injuries." She left him alone to prowl around while checking all the sight lines, escape options, and how the bathroom worked. Xander gave her a hug. "Can you adopt me?" she asked with a cute grin.

"Sure, if you adopt me back." He grinned back. He liked the plucky little girl.

"We'll start a home. Barton's home for wayward normal guy heros."

"He'll kill us," he said with a grin. "But sounds like what I usually do anyway." She punched him on the arm. He gave her a hug. "At least you and the girls are safe."

"Suzette keeps having visions about Beth."

"She looks up to Beth. I'm sure she'll have some about her dad and the team too." She nodded. "Beth's just got a crappy line right now thanks the Powers That Be playing chess again. I'm about to upset their board." He groaned and held his head. "Shit, it's trying the girls. They didn't give me any ahead." He grabbed stuff from the armory and left, Kate going with him through the set up portal. Bucky came too because that had sounded bad. "Get the girls to safety, Kate."

"Going," she agreed, running off to do that. She did not want to see Xander open up his can of whoop ass.

Xander walked into the room that most of the agents were magically being held in and started to fire and hit them. Bucky followed, scowling because they were trying to hold girls hostage. Xander pulled out a dagger and stabbed one in the eye. That one he knew. "We need him," Bucky said. "He'd know of that lab."

Xander nodded. "Take him back there. We'll talk to him. Being in contact will let you take them across the portal." Bucky grabbed him and another one he knew was higher up to take with him. Xander got the rest and looked at the girls. "We okay? They gave me an as-it-happened instead of a head's up."

The girls all mobbed him for a hug. Kate came back to get them. "All the rest are in the safe rooms with the other puppy, Xander." He nodded. She picked up the dog and handed it to one of the slayers. "Let's hit the safe room, girls." They ran that way with her covering them.

Xander went to open the door when someone pounded, staring at the guy there with the briefcase. "Hi."

"I'm here to interrogate someone for Mr. Pierce?"

"Sure," he said, pulling him inside and knocking him out. "We'll see if you're helpful with Mr. Pierce or not. Bucky?" He came through. "Interrogation guy Pierce called?" He smirked and got him, carrying him off. Xander looked at the officers rushing up the walkway. "Clear the rest of the house for us please. Kate got the girls to the safe rooms. Anyone on patrol?"

"Two, we have them safe, Harris," one said, moving around him to go look at the mess he made. He winced. "Some are living."

"I'll toss two more later," Xander said. "Probably to the locals where they are. I'm about to head to handle them." They nodded and went to check the house. There were safe rooms on each level. One was around Giles' suite. Another was with the armory in the basement. The one by the kitchen was basically a sealed off living room. Xander caught his temper and breath, looking at the mess they had made. He nodded. "I need to do more of that." He looked at the officer waiting on him. "Let me head to handle this bullshit. At least two were HYDRA."

The officer winced. "Why try the slayers?"

"Apparently they didn't learn their lesson in the fifties," he said dryly. "When the old Council stopped them." He walked off. "Kate, going back there. Help here for at least an hour."

"Yup, I don't need to see you asking if they have any hostages, Xander." She shrugged at one. "I'm the other Hawkeye. I help New York's slayers." They nodded. Andrew rushed in, still wearing his apron from cooking class. "Chill, 'Drew, we got 'em and Xander's asking politely if they have any more with Mr. Bucky Andreyev."

"The english teacher?"

"Yup."

"Huh." He nodded. "Sure, I'm sure he'll tell me later." She hugged him. "Thanks, Katie." She pinched him on the cheek. "The girls?"

"Safe rooms. Buffy's with Giles."

"Good." He took off his apron and looked around. "They didn't mess up my kitchen. Oh, well, guess I get to finish destroying them anyway." He smiled and got his computer, taking all their funds and everything else. He hummed while he did it and Kate made him a chocolate and coffee smoothie. He kissed her on the cheek so she could go do other things with the slayers or Xander.

"Andrew, can we please have any information on them?" one officer asked politely.

Andrew smiled. "We gave most of it to the FBI but *sure*." He started the printer and pointed. "Add paper. It's a lot. I'll include links for a lot of it." They nodded and did that. That way they all knew how bad it was.

When a body reappeared in that same room and it looked like it had went ten rounds with a wrecking ball, they didn't say a word. Xander was doing it and they weren't going to interrupt because it was probably important.

***

Later that night, Xander walked into Bucky's room. The guy was staring at the ceiling. "Not sleeping is normal. I'm not." He pointed. "Radio. Tv." He pointed at that. "Computer." Another point. "Need to know how to work any of it?" He shook his head. "Okay. I'm going to make cookies." He walked off to bake. He baked when he couldn't sleep. Kate had seriously upped his baking game thanks to her mother teaching her. She had helped Andrew too.

Bucky stared at the empty doorway, then shook his head. He did need rest but he kept getting those flashes. Any time he closed his eyes he saw flashes of his past assignments. He didn't like those. Xander tossed in some cookies a few hours later so he sniffed them then took a careful bite. He smiled at the sweet and nibbled. It helped and he did eventually drift off. When he got up, he realized he had chocolate chip cookie smeared on his face so he went to take a shower. His new soap smelled nice. Not subtle, nothing that he could wear if he was going to do an assignment but good. It smelled clean. So did the shampoo and it made his hair staticky. He figured out how to handle that with the conditioner in there when he had tried it. He found Xander staring outside and went to sit with him on the porch. "I get flashes."

Xander nodded. "I have a few of those too. We did things we were told to, and necessary things, in the past. Mine were to save people and yours probably at least saved some, even under your old orders." He looked at him. "There's only so much you can do on your own while you're under mind control," he said quietly. "They saw you as a toy to make do things and we know you're a full grown man. Now you get to have the man take over the old toy parts until you find the man you were before the toy. If there was an easy way, I'd give it to you."

"No, easy solves nothing."

Xander nodded. "That's usually true but sometimes you'd love the easy way." He sipped his soda. "There's water in the pitcher in the fridge or soda in the bottles. Go make yourself something if you're hungry."

"I'm not yet. I ate yesterday."

Xander nodded. "I've been in plenty of places where that was the only possible answer." He sighed. "Sometimes I miss Africa but I felt myself slip. I was becoming a warrior and handling other things. I'm not meant to handle human issues, I'm meant to handle demonic ones."

Bucky looked at him. "Then what am I?"

"You're ... I rescued you and I can help you heal. There's a few others I've rescued from bad things but most of them had more physical injuries." He shrugged and looked at him again. "I can help you where I can't help the girls with theirs. They won't let me. Maybe you and I will stay friends after you're healed."

Bucky nodded, that sounded honest. "I think they saw me like those dogs the agents were holding back."

"Maybe," Xander agreed. "You attacked on their command, you probably fetched some people too." He grinned. "Want ear pets?" Bucky scowled. Xander smiled. "See, you're not a pet then."

"No, I'm not." He considered that. It was a simple concept but it fit him. There were still flashes. He went back to his room to the computer. He wanted to look up that man he had known. Kate had given him the name. He was popular. The search engine he had used in Russia had a lot on him.

Kate came in and reached around him to open a different tab with a different search engine. "Google is used more in the US," she said quietly. "Watch out for the cartoons, Bucky. They're kinda...weird." She left him to his searching.

He looked at those sites. Some were listed on both. A museum site. He opened it and saw the virtual display notice. He clicked on it and saw the virtual tour of the display. He froze, staring at one thing. He looked in the mirror on the other side of the room then at the monitor again. "I knew him," he said quietly. He looked up that name in a different tab. He went back to the man he knew. Now he knew why he had known him. This was the man before the Russian attack dog was created. Now he knew the other third of his soul. He just had to rediscover all of them and see how they fit now.

***

Xander got summoned and called instead. "What's up, Steve?" He listened. "Sure, I can mine contacts. Who?" He sat up, staring at the phone. "Hold on." He hung up and went into Bucky's room. He was staring at the display. "He's looking for you."

Bucky flinched, staring at him. He shook his head. "No."

"Okay. I'll keep you two apart." He patted him on the shoulder. "Until you're ready I won't tell him." Bucky relaxed. "Why didn't you tell me? I could've helped."

"I have to find out for myself. It's who I was."

"Okay. Let me know if you need my help, or just want it." He patted him again and used his transport option to get to DC. He found Sam sitting there and shook his hand. "How are they?"

"Better. Only one's still having flashbacks." He smiled at Steve. "The giant goofball rescued some soldiers while he was in Africa. One of them heard Xander had to rescue a team and had me meet him to help them."

"That's great," Steve said. He looked at Xander. "I'm looking for this guy." He showed him the file.

Xander took it and nodded. "He's hiding. He's still struggling with the forceful training they gave him to become a guard dog." Steve stiffened. "I'm not allowed to tell you more, Steve. He asked me not to."

"You know where he is?"

"Safe. He's got a lot of healing to do." He looked at Sam.

"How far back did they mess with his mind?" Sam asked.

"Everything. The only thing he told me was he needed to know who the man who knew him was. He looked him up and then kinda went silent. He and I talked and I got him somewhere safe to heal." He looked at Steve. "He'd like that if you can make copies?"

"I can do that," he agreed. "Why were you looking at him?"

"The mom of the kids? All they said was 'soldier'. I figured it might be related to what they did to him. Though, he did question Pierce for me."

Steve blinked. "We heard he was pretty well beaten to a pulp."

"That was before I got there. I got the other guy, who came out begging for mercy from any god who'd take him." He smiled slightly. "I'm not the nice fairy when I have to be. This one, he wanted space to heal and see what he could recover."

"I can help," Steve said, standing up.

Xander shook his head. "You'll hurt him, Steve. He remembers *nothing*. At all. Not even when they sent him on this mission. And I think at least one of those boys is his by the records we've been able to piece together. Andrew's doing that." He stared at him. "He's not ready for you to remember him."

"He was my best friend. You'd do it for Andrew."

"If Andrew asked me to give him time to see what he remembers, I'd let him have it."

Sam nodded. "He's got to do some of that himself and Xander knows he only has to ask to come find you, Steve."

"He found the museum exhibit first," Xander said.

"Crap," Steve said. He sat back down, looking at the file. "I'll have it copied for you."

"Thanks. I can't tell you how long it'll be. He's only got a few flashes of mission memories and they're freaking him out some. He's got people he can talk to if he wants to and I'm conveniently nearby if he needs me or he loses it and starts pulling his hair out."

Steve nodded. "I...thank you. Copy it for me?" Xander smiled, taking the file. "Is he okay?"

"No." Xander shrugged, hugging the file to his chest. "From what we found in that crypt they had his stuff in, they were torturing his brain to shut it down. We found cryo pods." Steve shuddered. "We found a lot of evidence that he's been in worse places than I have. Or than you have. How many scars did he have on his chest and back before he died?"

"A few. Maybe one or two bigger ones."

"Now, he's a road map," Xander said quietly. Steve nodded, pressing his lips together. "Right now, he's safe. He's starting to heal. We'll figure it out and when he's ready he'll come see you. He'll probably just pop up one day and go 'I know you'." He disappeared. He made copies then dropped the file on Bucky's bed. The copies got sent back to Sam. He knew where he was. Bucky looked at him. Xander turned off his phone's walkie talkie feature and took the one from Bucky. Who nodded. "Just show up one day and say hi."

"I will. Some day when I remember." He stared out at the sunset. "It's pretty."

"It is. Nature is the prettiest evil bitch ever. She'll give you beauty and peace and then she'll destroy everything. Then you start all over again and she'll do it again. You try to get away but you can't because she's everywhere. There's beauty in the destruction but also suffering and pain. It makes you want to help, even when you can't, and yet at the same time you're glad it wasn't your turn in her gaze."

Bucky nodded. "Pain and suffering happen to all, even without nature."

Xander nodded. "Yes it does. I've seen and stopped plenty from beginning."

"I've made people suffer."

"Sometimes, those people were the ones causing the suffering."

Bucky looked at him. "You think?"

"Probably at least a few times." He sighed. "And then there's people like Kate, who know the bad things happen yet tries to see the good in people."

"Even us?"

"Even us. Even after she saw me take down a whole village full of possessed people because no one could save them and they were going to cause more problems and start hell on earth for others." He shifted, grimacing some. "Not that I enjoyed it but I had to and I hated myself every day since then."

Bucky considered that. "Aren't there ways of undoing it?"

"Not with that demon, no," he said quietly. He looked at him. "Even if we could remove the demon from them, they'd have died but the demon would've been free to take over others. Then their deaths would've been in vain." Bucky nodded he understood that. "The worst of the two evils was to have to take out two villages instead of one."

"I understand that," he said. He could understand that horrorific but necessary duty. It was sparking a few of his memories. He went back to searching for himself. He found a file on his bed and it was him. Almost all of him. Or at least on the transition from human to trained attack dog. He sat down to read through it, keeping himself from feeling what the clinical words said. He heard Xander's phone ring and looked that way. Xander only said 'okay' and hung up. "Problems?"

"Andrew made you an email on the slayer server under your new name. He's put everything he could find on you in an email." Xander went to the kitchen. "B_Andreyev. Password's some Russian author that starts with a 'D'. I can't pronounce it."

He frowned but found how to get onto the slayer's page. It was bookmarked. So was their email server. He looked up authors to find which one it was. A lot of the information in that file was in the one that was on his bed. It did flesh out a few things. He sighed as he read it, going back to the precious paper file. He made copies of it for himself and put it into the safe he had found underneath the bed. That way it wasn't lost.

***

One morning six months later, Bucky joined Xander for breakfast, staring at him. "You looked happier when you hated books."

"I still hate books," Xander quipped, smiling at him. "I take it you remembered being sent to Sunnydale for some reason?"

"They wanted to know what was so different and if they could harness the gifts there. They thought it was another super soldier program. Then someone told my handlers why and they pulled me out." He frowned. "I think it was the others you work with."

"It probably was," Xander said dryly. "The old Council was full of bastards who needed to have their heads chopped off." He shrugged. "It's the past and all we can do is apologize for them." He did send that message to Andrew so he could look it up. He went back to cooking. "I need to go check on the minis again."

"I...I can come."

"You can or you can stay here. If you come, some of them are near Steve."

"I..." He considered that. "I can watch then. You'll get hurt. They still hunt for you."

Xander raised his good eyebrow, staring at him. "Why would that matter to me?"

"Because they won't bother with stabbing. They'll have you shot from a distance. I couldn't be their only soldier."

"Point. I can usually handle it if you want to stay here. You don't owe me anything but you've got to cut the grass once a week."

"I can do that," he agreed, considering it. Sometimes he hated having options. Xander never led him toward any form of opinion or decision but sometimes decisions were harder than he wanted to do right now. "No, you need backed up." That felt right so it was a good decision.

Xander nodded. "Okay. We can do that. That means going to Cleveland first." Bucky nodded. "Ignore the girls, they all squeal and pinch."

"I can swat?"

"Yup, you sure can. I do," he quipped with a smile. "They're teenagers."

"I have no idea what that means."

"You'll learn. They're a good lesson in teenage girls." He handed him toast and made more for himself. Bucky had figured out he needed a lot of fuel for this body and Xander could help him with that. Xander had him eating like a slayer so that was fine with him. They packed up and closed up the house, Xander calling his maintenance people so they could cut the grass for him, and they went to Cleveland.

Buffy looked up from reading a magazine. "Did you rescue someone else?" she asked.

Willow stared. "With that arm he's not military, Buffy."

"Yes he was," Xander said firmly. "Before mind fucking bastards got him." They quit. "This is Bucky Andreyev. You do not see him," he said firmly. They huffed but shrugged. "Thank you. Bucky, these are Buffy and Willow." He pointed at them. Then he led him to the back. "This is Andrew, I know you've seen him once or twice."

"He did," Andrew said, giving him a hug then patting Bucky on the arm. "Welcome to the house. Watch out for the girls. They're on a rip about homecoming and dress shopping."

"We're going to Africa later today," Xander said with a smile.

Andrew punched him on the arm. "Jackass. Leaving me with them."

"Go visit the girls in New York."

"Suzette wanted to see you when you showed up."

"Sure. Summer camp was great fun."

"It was," Andrew agreed, smiling at him. "The kids were little hellions this year." Bucky stared at him. "Slayer summer camp."

"I remember him going. I spent time with Kate. And hiding from the squealing."

"I'm so sorry," Andrew said. "But Kate's not warping like Willow and Buffy are. So at least you had an easy time."

"She laid in the sun and read," Bucky said. "She's cute. But too young."

"Yeah, but I need someone less physical and more geeky to be mine," Andrew quipped. "Xander, his passport's in the safe."

"Thanks." He looked at him. "The account?"

"I put half of the HYDRA funds in it," he said quietly. "You got a third, I got the rest." Xander smiled. "Have fun with the minis in Africa." Xander nodded, taking his car keys and Bucky out to the truck. They went to the mall to get Bucky kitted out, then to a demon supplier to get him better body armor. A few weapons Bucky really liked and it was good. They went back to the house, weathered dinner with Bucky avoiding the girls, and grabbed weapons to head out via portal. That helped and they went to visit the minis.

***

Andrew appeared, smiling at Suzette. He handed over the sheets with a wink. "Xander is on his way up next week." The teacher cleared her throat. He turned her into a bunny. "She's not nice." He smirked a tiny bit. "I'm off to be slightly evil thanks to Buffy and Willow." He walked off.

Suzette looked at her best friend Larissa, who shrugged. They went to pounce him and make him normal. Suzette got them back to the tower by calling Happy, everyone else was off on an assignment somewhere in the east. They tied up Andrew to calm him down. Cute girls were better than nagging girls any day. They called Kate to help and she showed up with Beth, who was still making plans about her wedding. Andrew helped her decide on a menu while the girls made him less evil seeming.

Larissa looked at the big slayer. "It's not nice to make Andrew help you pick out Kate's dress, Bethie. The big girls do that to him and it's part of what turns him evil. He needs guy stuff."

"He doesn't like sports. Or I'd take him to a sports bar."

Andrew shook his head quickly. "No thanks. Can I be untied, girls?"

"Nope," Suzette said with a happy grin. "Not yet. You're still slightly evil. The power of cute hasn't cured you yet." The elevator door opened and Clint came out. "Uncle Clint!" she squealed, running over to hop up and hug him. "Is daddy and them back?"

"Not yet. Probably this weekend. I got excused for injuries." He winced as he put her down.

"Sit your silly ass down," she ordered with a point and a foot stomp. "Let me look at it." He stared down at her, smiling some. "Don't make me call Auntie Darcy."

"I'm okay."

"I agree, sit your silly archer butt down," Kate ordered. She hauled him onto the couch by his good arm, making him yelp. The girls tied him up too, careful with his injury, and Suzette got the stuff to help bandage the injury. Kate taught them how to handle injuries with stitches so they didn't just pour alcohol over it. The girls even tied the overbandage into a bow for him. Clint looked at Andrew. "He was going to go evil."

"Our power of cuteness is going to cure you both," Larissa said with a smile. "My mommy said I can stay over to help because we all really like Andrew."

Clint stared at her. "Thanks, Larissa." She grinned and bounded into the kitchen, coming back with the lemonade they had made while Suzette got straws for those who were tied up. Then they snuggled each of their uncles, Suzette getting Clint since she knew him, and chatted with them about cute girl things so they got healed.

Bruce was the next home, late that night. He found them doing the same thing. He paused. "Ladies," he said with a nod. "Suzette, isn't it past your bedtime?"

"So? The power of our cuteness hasn't cured Uncle Clint's arm or Andrew's evil moment." She smiled. "Or our teacher of being a bunny rabbit probably. But hey, maybe Miss Willow will like some good witch time." She smirked at Andrew.

"You need sleep before you turn evil," Clint quipped.

Suzette looked at Larissa, who shrugged. "Sure. We can have a sleepover. Kate, help us get them in there?"

"Sure," she agreed. She and Beth carried both tied up ones to Suzette's room and left them in the corner. The guys were so doomed. The two mini future slayers were into My Little Pony and the guys were going to have to sit through a marathon before the giggly ones got to sleep. "We'll see you guys tomorrow," Kate called.

"After dress shopping," Beth agreed. "We are *not* getting you purple, Kate." She smiled at Bruce. "Have a nice night, Dr. Banner."

"You two too." He let them go then went to check on the guys. "Should I set you free?" He saw Larissa looking at some rope and escaped. He didn't need tied up. He was too old to sleep on the floor and it'd make him cranky. Though he did warn Pepper since she was due in tomorrow with Jane Foster and Darcy coming back for good.

***

Darcy walked into the girls' room the next afternoon and hauled Andrew up, letting him run to the bathroom. She looked at the girls. "You have to let your hostages have necessary things like potty breaks, girls."

"Natasha taught them knots too well," Clint said. Darcy helped him up and he went to the bathroom too. Then he came back out to sit in his assigned spot again. A bit of soft torture from the cute girls was easier to deal with than having to baby his own injury or having to watch them torture Andrew. The girls were doing a makeover now. Andrew now had glittery temporary dye in his hair. Clint had some glitter and some body glitter powder on. It was making the girls happy and Andrew needed the happy time. Clint could escape before anyone got pictures. It kept Suzette from worrying about her dad. Darcy went to the kitchen. The girls followed to get lunch and ran back to feed their captives. Then they got their own and ate. Clint looked at Andrew. "Thank you for talking them into anime instead of My Little Pony," he said quietly.

"It's always better." He grinned at the guy staring from the doorway. "We're still here."

"I can see that," Bruce quipped. He walked off. "Stark's nearly back, Clint."

"I think the knots are magical."

"Nope," Andrew said. "Just good."

"Nat clearly taught them," Clint sighed. Bruce walked off laughing. A few minutes later, Bruce was tied up and the girls helped them out to the living room to use the big tv to watch stuff. Bruce more than most needed cuteness and happiness in his life. The guys complained at the girly anime but they took Andrew's suggestion and it was about warrior girls so that was much better. They liked warrior girls better than girly girls like Strawberry Shortcake.

Stark got pictures before he made it back to the tower thanks to his AI's warning so he said hi to the girls and retreated to 'take a nap' so they couldn't bother him. He watched it all on a security feed in there.

When Steve and Natasha got back, he stared at the three prisoners then at his daughter. "Why are they tied up?" He reminded himself it was important to be non-judgmental.

"They needed more cuteness and happiness in their life," she said with a smile. "It'll help Uncle Bruce be less grumpy and Andrew be less evil so he can change my teacher back from the bunny rabbit. And Uncle Clint could use it too because he's been grumpy and we've been taking very good care of his injury. We've cleaned it every three hours and put on clean bandages and all that." She smiled at Natasha. "They've been very good and Andrew's been teaching us about animes with strong girls in them."

"I'm sure he has. What do you want to let them go?"

"Why would we need anything?"

"You usually negotiate to get prisoners free," she said.

"You silly one. They're not prisoners," Larissa said with a smile. "They needed it to make them happier. They don't need to be let go of until they're happy and less evil."

She nodded. "Where is the agent who was supposed to be watching you?" Steve asked, trying not to smile. His daughter was so cute sometimes. "JARVIS, did you save down film of all this for me?"

"I did indeed save you down a copy, Steve," the AI said. "The supervising agent got a call while they were in school. Since he heard Andrew was here he decided he didn't need to come back."

"Ah," Natasha said, texting that to Coulson. "Send this address a photo capture of this moment please, JARVIS."

"I shall, Miss Romanoff."

"Thank you." She walked around them. "I need to shower. I'll be back out to help you with them in a few minutes, girls." They grinned and both of them hugged Steve. He cuddled both of them and sat down to talk about why they thought this was the best idea. Though he found arguing with little girl logic was futile. Something Andrew already knew apparently.

***

Back at the SHIELD base, Coulson looked up from his paperwork, feeling exhausted. He looked at the text message, staring at the cute picture. He carried his phone up to Hill's desk, showing her. "We need to recruit her. She's kept Barton tied up for three days so she could take care of his injuries."

She stared at the picture then at him. "I'll talk to her father about her bright future as a handler. Go find whichever agent let them do that and beat him?"

"Gladly. Who was overseeing them?" She handed over that file. He had done a report, how nice of him. He walked off to find that idiot and chew him a new one. Starting with a punch for leaving little girls alone.

***

Darcy smiled when Jane walked into the kitchen. "Why do we have people tied up in the living room?" Jane asked.

"The two mini warrioresses in there decided them being cute and shown happy things would cure them."

"Oh. Okay. Thor's trying to talk to them."

Thor walked in shaking his head. "I speak all languages but girl." Larissa pounced him and he looked down. "Were I the same size as Clint that would have worked well, Larissa. A very suitable pounce."

"Thank you, Mr. Thor." She smiled. Which was when Suzette tied him up. He didn't struggle and let them lead him back to the couch then they hauled Miss Jane out to sit in his lap so they could talk to Beth about wedding stuff. "We're still little girls, we don't know anything about wedding stuff," Larissa quipped with a grin then bounded off. "We can help them play Candyland, Suzette."

"Cool!" she agreed, running after her to find the game and bring it out. They could spin and move for everyone.

"I think this is the happiest night I've ever spent tied up," Clint told Natasha, who smiled back. "Though we should teach that German guy about My Little Pony."

She laughed and nodded. "I can see doing that, yes. It could make his life better."

"Ponies are love," Larissa said happily. Steve got down to play with them and move for the tied up ones. The big slayer and Kate were talking with Jane and Natasha about wedding stuff. Stark was still hiding from both the ponies and the girls.

Steve casually asked what would happen if they had a problem and Larissa told him she'd yell at the big booger heads so it'd be okay. He had to drop it. He couldn't really argue with a girl like her. Though his daughter would be finding sense soon. Even if he had to ask Peggy to talk to her.

***

Willow appeared next to Xander, staring at him. "Andrew's tied up but hasn't sent a save me signal."

"Kate put on the bulletin board that a few of the minis had tied him and a few others up. They decided a mass dose of cute and happy would cure them all."

She huffed and went there to yell at the girls. Xander looked at Bucky, seeing him shaking his head but smiling a tiny bit. Andrew got her before she could do more than appear and she was now a kitty. The girls cooed and petted her to make her feel better too. Miss Willow definitely needed more happies in her life since her last girlfriend was such a bad slayer.

Steve groaned, sending a message to Xander himself. Maybe he could save Willow before she got adopted. After a few hours, they were saved by Tony, who walked out and fake sneezed then said he was allergic to cats so Willow had to go home soon. They pouted but sent her back to the Council by her emergency pendant Andrew showed them. That helped and they got back to helping everyone calm down by being cute and sweet.

Plus the cookies Darcy had made. They did help everything be happier and nicer.

***

Andrew looked at Clint that night. They were back in a corner. "I think this is the nicest vacation I've ever had. Mine with Xander was cool, and it had girls, but not ones that played games and took care of me."

"It is the happiest time I've ever spent tied up," he agreed. The girls were singing in the shower together. The guys looked at Bruce, who was shaking his head. "You good, Doc?"

"I'm fine. I've had a lot of meditation time. Especially during animes." He looked at them. "They're very good at being cute little girls."

Clint nodded. "Yes they are." He looked at Andrew. "Don't introduce them to Xena."

"It's not allowed. Slayers start to emulate it and then knock into people with the staff weapons they can't use." Clint shook his head with a sigh.

Natasha walked in and knocked on the bathroom door, making the girls squeal. "Larissa, your mother said you have to come home tomorrow night," she called into the bathroom. "She misses you greatly and while it's nice you've got Andrew tied up he can't cook this way."

"Shoot. He's come up with a lot of recipes. We've written them down for him," Larissa called back. "Darcy tried them for him too."

"Which is wonderful but your mother said you must come home tomorrow night."

"Sure, I can do that. I kinda miss my baby brother," she quipped. "As long as he's not pooping any more."

"All children do that," Natasha said. "That's why I don't have any." She closed the bathroom door and looked at the men, pulling out a dagger. All three guys shook their heads so she left them there. The girls would be very upset if she untied their good works projects.

Stark walked in. "Bedtime story time!" he called loudly. The girls squealed again and came out of the bathroom in jammies, hopping into Suzette's bed so they could get read to. Tony did a pretty good job and even tried to do voices for them. Then they hugged and went to sleep. The guys settled in to nap. At least the girls had given them pillows and comfy 'nests' to sleep in as they had called the blanket masses. In the morning, all the guys got freed as long as they promised they weren't evil, were healed, and had happies now.

They got to shower and go home in Andrew's case. Steve drove them both to school and walked them inside, letting them run to their room while he went to explain to the principal why they hadn't been there in a week. She was highly amused at them. Thankfully Andrew had demanded they read them their homework and Bruce had went over math with them so they weren't behind.

Steve went to talk to Coulson so they could set firmer rules for watching Suzette when he was on a mission. Before she turned truly evil and tried to take Xander hostage too.

***

Xander read Andrew's report then sighed as he handed his phone to Bucky, who read it and laughed. "The girls are a bit too smart for their own good."

"They do good knots," Bucky said, handing it back. "But that's a bit evil."

"They didn't interrogate them or anything," Xander said. "Just made them watch stuff that made them happy girls."

Bucky looked at him. "Still mean."

"Very mean," he agreed but he was smiling. "Andrew said it was even nicer than the vacation I took him on."

"Are you and Andrew.... mates?" he asked.

"No. I like Andrew and I respect Andrew but Andrew's into girly girls and wannabe warrior women, not me."

Bucky nodded. "That's nice." Xander grinned at him. "Girls can be nice. Kate's nice."

"Kate's nice but too much like my little sister or clone at times." Bucky laughed, nodding. "If you want to flirt with Kate, go ahead." Bucky shook his head. "You sure?"

"She... I'm too impure for a girl like her."

Xander shoulder nudged him. "You're really not. Damaged but not impure. Not like you're an artifact full of unholy evil power."

"No, that I'm not," he agreed. He had seen one of those and the evilness from him reminded him of a few of his former overseers but he wasn't that way. He looked at him. "When are you going to tell me what happened to Sunnydale?"

Xander pulled up the map image, showing it to him. "It sucked into the hellmouth after the battle with the First Evil," he said quietly. Bucky stared at it then at him. "There was a whole bunch of shit after you got pulled out of there."

"Was it bad?"

"Sometimes." Bucky nodded. "At times the family we made of each other made up for it. Though sometimes that wasn't enough."

Bucky nodded again. "I... I have some memories of that with Steve."

"You two were best friends from what we're told."

"I guess. I don't remember all that yet."

"Are you going to talk to him?"

"No. He's much too pure."

"Actually he's a lot like Kate is. I'm pretty sure he'd accept all this."

Bucky shook his head. "No. It's not time yet."

"Okay. Did you call Sam like I suggested?"

"I did. He made sense." He looked at him. "How did you know?"

"Sam helped a few of the guys I rescued down here. Then I rescued more and met him through one of them I asked to come pick up the injured ones." Bucky nodded, looking at the fire again. "Sam's good people and his whole job is to counsel soldiers who need it after a war."

"Which war?"

"Whichever one you've been in I guess." Bucky stared at him. "You've been in a few. They made you the main focus of another."

Bucky sighed but nodded. "He said he wouldn't tell Steve."

"I think he's counseled Steve a few times too. Think of him like a priest. You can't say too much to him that would shock him."

"Have you talked to him?"

"No. Because what I do isn't a war. Or if it is, it's an eternal one and we're just existing in this part of it as time moves around us."

"Poetic," Bucky grunted.

"Not like it'll get any better. Beyond that, if I lose some of the anger, I might have to stop all my duties and just do paperwork. Right now it's a comfy armor."

"I know that feeling. I miss my old uniform sometimes."

"It's in your closet. You could have grabbed it."

"Then people would think I was him."

"Could be," Xander agreed. "But you were said to be a ghost story told to agents to scare them straight."

Bucky smiled. "I could like being a ghost story." He relaxed again, thinking about that. "Are you going to the wedding?"

"She didn't invite me. She didn't want me to have to drag in after handling something."

"Pity. You could use the happy time."

"I have happy times and I can always go clubbing that night."

"Sex isn't happiness."

"Sometimes it's as close as we'll get."

"I know someone else who said that once but I don't know who."

"Probably one of the guys in the military."

"Maybe. It sounds like something you'd say during war time." Xander nodded. He looked at him. "Andrew said there's a remembrance at Sunnydale."

"I'm not going to that. That's all politicians spouting that it'll never happen again. That they're watching now to make sure that no other towns get that corrupt and evil. I'd have to laugh at their clueless speeches about something they don't want to admit exists and would refuse to see if it did."

"He's going."

"I know. He still misses people from there. The girls will protect Andrew so nothing there can harm him." Bucky nodded. "If something happens during it, we'll hurry back to save them and then I'll go hide for a few days."

"Sure. We can do that." Xander's phone rang that special 'oh shit' ringtone as he called it. Xander answered while Bucky unmade the camp and packed them up. They hurried off to the huge demon trying to form and kill everyone. Bucky looked at the people flying in and got out of sight but he still covered Xander to help with the minions. He'd seen Xander use a sword before but now he had his special axe and it was a thing of beauty in his hand. The Avengers landed and fell in to help. He knew Sam spotted him because he was flying. Then Bucky shot a minion heading for Steve. That felt right. He watched out for Steve. Now he watched out for him by not dirtying his life with his problems. Maybe later. If there was a later.

He spotted another portal opening and pulled out one of Xander's few pieces of artillery, shooting at it. Xander turned to deal with that one while the guys got the rest of that bigger summoned demon. Portals always meant a problem. Bucky hit the emergency code to get senior slayers sent there and they ran down to help with whatever that portal was. The goo trying to slide out of it was nasty but the huge demon worm thing trying to come into this realm was worse. It looked like the portal was trying to birth the huge worm.

The girls and Xander dug into the problem. The summoned one went down and they joined this one. The slime was flammable; Stark found that out by accident and put out the people who had temporarily lit on fire. Then they got back into it. The demon worm's head came off finally with application of Thor's hammer trapping it against Steve's shield. Then the girls got to complain about slime. Willow and the coven showed up to close the portal and get the girls home. He and Xander faded into the night to clean up. He made Xander ride in the back of the truck because he was covered in ash and slime. The few burns were minor and they'd have to uncover them to treat them.

Sam landed, putting up his goggles and holstering the laser gun Stark had made him. "Damn."

Steve nodded, slinging some slime off his shield. "Very. There's not any more of these, right?" he called.

"I hope not because we don't have enough water pressure to clean this off," Willow called back. "Who spotted it?"

"Barnes," Sam called. Steve stiffened, staring at him. Sam nodded and pointed. "He was covering Xander and us from up there. He's the one that fired the grenade."

Willow walked over. "Who?"

"Bucky," Steve said. "Xander's helping him heal."

"Oh, Mr. Andreyev, the former english teacher," she said, nodding and walking off. "I'll be that way for the wedding. After the remembrance."

Steve blinked at Sam, who shrugged. He had no idea. They'd call Xander later.

***

Xander moaned as he opened his phone. "It had better be an emergency. I've got someone working the kinks out of my sore back." He listened. "No, he was there, Steve. I asked and he said not yet." He looked at Bucky, who was on the next table. "Oh, that. Whoever sent him to my former town to figure out what it was doing to people in case they could harness it. Apparently the old Council told them why so they withdrew him after two months. He taught english our sixth grade year."

He put his head back down so the succuba could finish working on the kinks. "No, he's doing better. He's got about a third of his memories back. No, I'm not going to the wedding. Beth said she didn't want to make me come to a mushy event where I'd immediately have to run off to kill something dangerous to make up for the mush." He rolled his eyes. "I don't know. I'll ask. Bucky?" He held the phone out.

"Not yet," he said loud enough to be heard.

Xander put the phone back against his ear. "Working the kinks out of his back. No, he's not doing my back for me, Steve. I don't flirt with people. They hit on me or they don't. I don't make the first move. I look like a dork and they hate me on sight when I try. Massage techs, Steve. Sore from the battle? Some of us don't have super healing and our backs are really sore." He hung up with a sigh before dropping the phone onto his pants. "He's worried that I'm seducing you in your weakened state."

"I'm not ready for that yet either and if I was, I think I knew how to flirt before."

Xander shrugged. "I never got that lesson. I look like a dork so I don't. If they hit on me, great."

"The last one was an arms dealer, Xander."

"The last six have been arms dealers and the one before then an assassin," Xander shot back sarcastically. "What do I care as long as they're not selling to the people who'd hurt the girls."

"I guess that's a point," he admitted, looking back at the woman working on his back. "You can't hurt me."

"I could but I'm not that mean today." She smiled and got back to work on his injured shoulder. "I'm more worried I'll interrupt the neuro pathways that has to be hitched to."

"Shouldn't as long as you don't feed on him," Xander said, sounding half asleep.

"No, there's no sexual urges there to feed on," she said. She switched to his other arm. "Since a deep tissue massage won't do anything for that arm, I'll oil it when I'm done." He grinned at her but put his head back down.

The succuba working on Xander wore out all his sexual needs for the next little while and let him sleep it off. It was a great end to a battle.

***

Steve hung up and looked at Sam. "They are together. Xander said he doesn't flirt."

"He's got no game," Sam agreed. "I've seen him flirt with someone and they gave him the most disgusted look before huffing off. The eye thing I think that time." Steve grimaced but nodded. "He's not hitting on Bucky, Steve."

"They were groaning."

"Xander's probably sore after all that axe work so he's got someone cheap working on his back and arms," Stark said.

"That's what he said too," Steve sighed. "If I could just talk to him maybe it'd help."

"Or maybe you'd set off a major panic attack," Sam said. "The boy's doing good. How much does he got back?"

"Xander said a third." Steve looked at him.

"That's excellent considering what they did to his mind," Natasha said. "That sort of treatment often leaves brain damage, not erased or repressed memories."

Steve grimaced, sitting up to lean against the side of the quin jet. "So he's doing good you think?"

"I think it's a miracle he's gotten that much," she said. "I'm not sure how much more he could get."

Steve nodded. "So why won't he talk to me?"

"Because he sees the blood on his hands, the same as I do," Natasha said quietly. Clint pinched her on the arm so she smiled at him. "As you do sometimes." He nodded. She looked at him. "They made him do vile things. He may still be trying to work through them. Why would he saddle anyone else with that?"

"He's talking to Xander."

"Xander has had to do vile things himself," she said. Steve scowled. "There was a report a few years back that a major demon had infected a whole village. There was no exorcism ritual to cure them. If they managed to get the demon out of one of them, it would go infect someone else and nothing could stop it. What would you do to keep the evil from growing and taking over more?" she asked. Stark heaved but shook his head, going up front.

Steve shook his head. "I wouldn't want to make that decision." He looked at her. "Did he?"

"He did. He is just now twenty-six by our records. He was twenty-three then." Steve slumped more. "He defeats things that do vile things to others if they catch them. At the very least they eat the people they capture like vampires do. If anyone can accept all that he or someone like him has done it is him. That's why he dates people like assassins. They know he won't judge and he knows what it's like to take a life if he must."

Steve nodded. "So you don't think they're dating?"

"I think if he thought it would make him feel better, Xander might, but I doubt it will cure anything in his life." Steve stared at her sideways then nodded. "Sometimes the best counselor is someone who bears the same scars you do."

"I get that. I just worry that Bucky's not coming back to himself."

"He'll never be the idealistic young man he was," Sam said. "You can't do that in a war. Especially not how dirty the war you fought in was. Not to mention the first bout of torture, this new bout of torture and it was torture for him. He's not idealistic, he's not the same young guy. You've got to expect that he'll have changed. The same as you've changed. You're not young and naive any more. If they did everything they did back then today, you wouldn't have been forced onto a stage, you would've snuck over to join the war."

Steve nodded. "I would have." He looked at Sam. "Thanks."

"Welcome. Try writing him a letter. It could help you both. I'm pretty sure they can get stuff to Harris in the field and he does have email."

Steve nodded. "I can do that when I get all the slime off and let Suzette have her 'eww' fit for it being slime." Everyone smiled but they knew she would.

***

Xander looked at his phone since it was chiming a new email song. "Hmm. Willow letter about paperwork I'm ignoring again." He opened it and snorted then answered quickly. He handed it to Bucky. "You got one too." He went back to talking to the little slayer's parents.

Bucky opened the email to read it, frowning. "I didn't know Steve was a dame."

Xander smiled at him. "He's confused and he's worried."

"I get that. He says he is." He shook his head and answered it then put it up. "Sorry, old friend."

The father smiled. "Sometimes you get that." Xander nodded. The family laughed and went over what the girl was learning to do now. They could move her lessons up some. She was doing good.

***

The truck reappeared in Cleveland and Xander walked in first, Bucky following him with the bag of weapons. He stared at Willow. "You summoned?"

"There's a whole bunch of stuff that needs done before the wedding."

"I'm not going to the wedding. Beth saved me from mushy stuff." He stared at her. "But I can do the paperwork you hate to do. It means I'll get to reimburse myself sooner." He headed for the office.

"Xander, shower?" Bucky asked. He was dusty and it had been a week since a shower for either of them. Xander was muddy thanks to a demon dog pulling him out of the truck and into a mudhole.

"No, go ahead. It'll only take me an hour to do this." He grinned back at him. "Enjoy the shower and put up the weapons for me."

"I can do that." He put up the weapons and locked his armory case. He and Kate had conspired to make him get a fingerprint sealed armory case. It was safer with the girls who wanted to play with his axe. Bucky and Kate had gotten their own, with a few for the senior slayers that had special weapons. Then he went back to their house and got a shower there. The girls still scared him and he was worried about what he'd do if one of them tried to pounce him again. Last time he had managed not to hit her but she had giggled and bounced off bragging she had tackled him.

Xander finished up and went up to check on Giles, finding him still there. "Hey."

"The Powers are saying that Beth may not marry," he said quietly.

"Bullshit. They want Beth to hurt because she couldn't manage to save their oracle that she didn't know was in trouble." Giles smiled at him. "I've already warned her too."

"Then I hope she can get around it. Though I had heard her young man was in the hospital."

Xander snorted. "I can help there too." Giles stared. He grinned back. "Any other commands from on high?"

"Someone foresaw the remembrance being attacked."

"Willow's going to be there with Buffy and Dawn." He shifted his stance. "If something happens I'll run out." He nodded, accepting that. "I might go back after that. It's been three years."

"It could help if you moved on as well," he said quietly.

"That got me threatened," he said dryly. "I've dated a few times but they didn't want to stick with me, Giles. You know that. The only thing open to me outside them is probably some bimbo who'd want Anya's money and things. Who'd probably be destroyed by the girls."

"Probably, yes," he agreed. "Bucky seems to understand you."

"I understand some of his past too. Doesn't mean Steve didn't threaten me if I made a move on him." He grimaced. "Beyond that, he's not into me. He's not into anyone right now."

"That should come back some day. Willow was working on something."

"I'll warn him and make him protections." He shook his head. "I did all the paperwork again." He smiled. "Thank you for leaving me some."

"You're most welcome, my boy." He patted him on the cheek. "You are a good heir, Xander. I could have used a son like you when I was younger to straighten me out."

"I would've been a chaos mage too," he said dryly.

Giles laughed, starting him coughing. Xander helped him sit up more and wiped off the spit. "Perhaps. I found it quite fulfilling in my youth. Now, go shower. You're all muddy and I'm sure you got it all over my office again."

"All you gotta do is take it back. Before the old farts try to lynch me for doing the job." Giles snorted but gave him a fond look and another pat. Xander left to get a shower at home. His room at the center held all the weapons that needed fixed. He walked out of the portal and nearly into Bucky. "Giles thinks like Steve. I told him you weren't into me."

"I guess that's comforting," Bucky said, sipping some juice.

"I think he's missing his misspent youth." He went to get a shower and came out to find Kate tapping a foot. "I've got her present in the truck."

"Not the point."

"I'm not invited to the wedding, Kate. She didn't want to overload me with mush."

Kate snorted and waved a hand. "She didn't want you to have to trudge into the church after having killed something that got slime on you. Then find the priest is a half-demon of some sort."

Xander shrugged. "I've met a few priests that are half demon. I wouldn't care as long as he wasn't eating or tainting them. So what's up?"

"Franklin's in the hospital."

"The Powers hate that Beth couldn't save the Oracle."

"She didn't know she was in trouble and halfway across the world! Or at least the east coast."

"Yup," Xander said. "Let me get some stuff. Bucky, can you find my herb pouch."

"This again?" he complained but went to find it and the wedding present in the truck. He added in some headache pills because Xander would need it after whatever. He went back and handed it to Xander, who was wearing loose linen pants and nothing under them, and bare feet plus his ritual necklaces. He took things to tuck into a bag and went back with Kate, who had a witch bring her down there. Bucky got dinner ready because Xander would crash after whatever.

Xander looked at the man on the bed then at the machines. He hummed and nodded, pulling out his personal first aid kit and opening something precious to pour down his throat. Franklin choked but blinked up at him. "Howdy." He grinned. "Beth." She moved closer. "Stuff to burn herbs in," he told the nurse. Who glared at him. He stared back. "I'm Council." She ran off. They gave him an old bedpan. "That'll work. It's metal."

He did the chanting over Franklin to remove the curses on him. Then over Beth. Everyone heard shrieking and looked up. Xander shrugged. "She was over seven hundred miles away. Not her fault!" He waved at the ceiling then went back to it. Franklin was trying to fade so he pulled out the special stuff and a dagger. He wrapped the cord around their wrists then looked at the witch standing in the corner.

"I'll need you in about two minutes." She nodded. The priest in the doorway just got a nod. He figured out what he'd need and got something strange from the witch. She looked very confused. Xander did the chanting over the cord then mixed the herbs in his hand, feeding each one some of the mixture. Then some of the potion. Then a small bubble of something blue and pink. Then he chanted again and waved the witch over. "Do you want him to be yours for as long as you live?" she asked Beth.

"I do and want him to outlast me if possible," she said quietly, staring at him.

"Franklin?"

"I want her for as long as I live." He started to cough. "If she falls I'll guard any family we may have."

Xander considered it then changed the chanting he was doing over the cord. Then he cut their palms. "Share communal blood, be as one family, joined for eternity." They did and the cut glowed. He smiled at the witch, who added a blessing from the Goddess. The priest hurried in to help. Then Xander blew on the glow and sprinkled some different herbs on it, making her yelp. Then him moan as he got stronger. He kissed her on the head. "Happy retirement, Beth," he said in her ear. Then he stepped back. "The cord shall not be cut, shall not sunder, and if so, they will find each other in the next life they live." Lightening went off outside.

"Wow, Thor must be displeased," he quipped then grinned and pulled out the present. "Yours. It's to hang on the wall, not wear." She was sniffling and hugging Franklin. He undid the cord the right way and folded it properly, putting it into Franklin's free hand. "It goes in a rosewood box with your vows on it," he said firmly but quietly. They nodded. "Good. Try to get it there before someone attacks it. They could by the different communion qualities." He zipped the bag once he had everything in it. "With that, I need dinner." He disappeared thanks to the witch. Bucky handed him a plate. "Thank you. I need this."

"I figured you would. The last time you needed a lot of food. You ate like a slayer."

Xander nodded, digging in. "I just fixed it so Beth and Franklin are already married and the Powers interfering mean they'll just recycle and do it again." He ate another bite and hummed. "Nice, thank you."

"Welcome." He went back to eating, letting the flashes of 'familiar' happen. He had almost memories of him and Steve doing this same thing. With this same meal. He frowned a bit but let it go and kept eating. Xander grinned up at him. "I used to make this for Stevie."

"That's a sweet thing." Bucky grumped but kept eating. Xander went to crash on the porch swing and he loaded the dishwasher then went outside too. Sunset looked different here than what it looked like in the jungles in Africa. It felt safer here too, there was nothing trying to sneak in and eat Xander, including the young slayer from the headhunter tribe.

***

Xander looked at Bucky the next morning. "You could go back to Brooklyn, look around. Not everything could've changed."

"I tried that virtually through a tour and it was all wrong." Xander nodded, patting him on the arm. "Are you going back to Sunnydale?"

"Maybe. It's been three years since I lost Anya." He stared out the window. "I'm not sure yet."

"You can go. I'll follow to make sure nothing attacks you."

"The only things that would are vampires." He grimaced. "I hate vampires."

"I figured you did." He put his feet up on the coffee table. Xander was doing the same thing. Kate minded if she was here but she was getting pretty for the wedding tomorrow. "The day after the wedding? That way nothing can happen?"

"There's the officials doing their thing today," Xander said. "I'm supposed to be listening for problems." He looked at the portal. Andrew's photo was blinking. "Andrew's upset." They went back to Cleveland and he got Andrew soothed and down to just moping. "You could've went."

"I...I couldn't face it, Xander," he admitted. "What if Johno had showed up and was disappointed in me?"

"If he shows up, tell us so we can find the scythe under Buffy's dirty laundry and do the First Evil again," Xander said simply, staring at him. "Beyond that, why would he be disappointed? You just took down most of HYDRA, Andrew! He's going to be cheering that you did it on your own since he didn't think you could create evil or help them take over the world."

"I guess." He gave him a hug. "Thanks, Xander. Giles wanted you to come sit with him and watch it if you wanted."

"I can do that I guess. Bucky?"

"I don't mind." He got stuff for Xander to drink, and Xander got a few beers, then they went up to sit with Giles. Andrew joined them. Seeing Giles on the bed brought on more flashes. Steve being sick. A lot of Steve being sick before the serum. Andrew gently nudged his arm so he blinked at him. "What?"

"Steve's better now. He hardly ever gets sick and Suzette swears up and down she fusses at him."

Bucky smiled weakly. "That's good. I remember him looking that sick a lot."

"By his history he had a lot of health problems," Giles agreed. "Come sit, Bucky. Willow and Andrew said you had been in Sunnydale for a bit before I got there to see why things were so wrong."

"Two months as an english teacher." He sat down on the free chair. Xander had the loveseat and Andrew was curled up in his chair on Giles' other side. Giles flipped to the ceremony/speech making event. Politicians were already vowing that Cleveland would not turn into Sunnydale while ministers from a lot of faiths were behind them praying over the ground.

Xander tipped his head. "Hey, Giles, isn't that a tentacle?" he asked quietly.

"Oh, crap," he muttered, texting Buffy.

Her head popped up on the screen and she pulled her phone out to look at then out at the ministers. She ran out there, pulling her charmed sword out of her purse to save them. Willow pulled magic and followed. Yup, two tentacles. Willow reclosed the hole and the ministers all prayed over it while she did it. The politicians were gasping and complaining but it was best if they weren't eaten either.

Buffy smiled at Willow. "Good job."

"Yup, we fixed it again." They walked back together. Willow felt magic and looked around. "Um, guys, magic," she called. "Not mine." The ministers all started to pray on their way back to the safe distance markers. Buffy and Willow got out of the way. Suddenly magic hit the hellmouth and green things started to grow, including a large tree. "Wow," Willow breathed. "That's... thank you, Goddess for this gift," she prayed. The others followed and it was a quiet moment after that. She and Buffy were still arm-in-arm. The politicians were saying how it was now healed and things would be okay there. At least until the tree ate a monk. Then they fled like they were next on the menu. The remaining Sunnydale people just shrugged and went back to remembering what had been there.

Bucky stared at Xander. Andrew had drank half a beer and was now drunk. Xander was sipping his beer. "Is that tree that weird?"

"Not for Sunnydale," Xander said. "There were a few in the park before it sank." He took another drink and handed Giles the rest of Andrew's beer before he dropped it. Andrew was getting sniffly so Xander cuddled him until he passed out. Giles finished the beer and they watched Willow give the tour around town and how things used to be about ten blocks further out but the hellmouth had sucked some in. At the end of the day, the National Park Service agents came in to shoo everyone out. It was closed to everyone but academics and former residents who wanted to visit during the daytime. "That's sweet of them," he said bitterly. "I'm guessing things are still roaming there then." Giles nodded, finishing his second beer, Bucky had handed him one. Xander shook his head. "I don't think I want to go back," he said quietly. Bucky patted him on the arm. "Anya would understand."

"Anya would bloody well beat you from the afterlife if you risked your life that way," Giles said with a smirk for him. "You know she would."

"Yeah, she might," he agreed. He stood up and turned off the tv, looking at Andrew. "Let me get you to bed, 'Drew." Andrew got up and stumbled off, going to curl up in his bed. One of the slayers followed him to tuck him in and call his girlfriend. He needed her. Xander looked at Giles. "You're still not allowed to die. I'll feed you to that tree."

Giles laughed. "None of us are immortal, Xander."

"Then you'd better go after I do." He smiled. "Or else I'll go find Ethan."

"Could you? I'd like to see him before I get too bad."

"Yeah, I can do that. He's in Montana. I found him when I was looking at places for my evil empire compound."

"I thought you had that in Hawaii," he said dryly.

"No, that's my own compound, not the evil empire's." He smirked as he walked out, heading down to the truck. It was only a few days drive. He waved Bucky off and got in to drive, heading off.

***

Xander walked into the bar in Montana and right to Ethan, staring at him. He got sneered at by the people at the table with him. "Giles has a last request that you visit him."

"Last request?" he said sarcastically. "That's droll."

"Considering the intestinal cancer can't be cured?" Xander said. "Not really." Ethan dropped his beer. "He's been fighting it for the last three years and you're the only things he's asked for in all that time. Since I had the vision and told him he had it. This is the Powers paying him back," he said quietly. He handed over the address. "We're there. There's intent wards and Andrew will let you in." He walked off.

Ethan picked up his beer to drink what hadn't spilled and got up. "I need to go visiting Cleveland I suppose." He walked out scowling but the boy was gone. He went home to pack and get tickets from the local airport. He was not Rosenburg and he couldn't just send himself places.

***

Xander pulled up and parked, getting out of the truck. He stared at the town. The tree was already dying. The new grass was already browning up but it was that time of year. He walked over the boundary and felt the energy. It felt like home. He took off his shielding necklace, just that one, and it merged with the taint he carried. Yes, this was home. He walked around, saying prayers at Joyce's and Tara's graves. Then he went to the tree. The botanists there looked startled but glared at him. "It eats energy from the bodies it eats." They groaned. The tree reached for him but just patted him. He patted it back and went onto one knee to say a silent prayer. He didn't feel any lighter but at least he had gotten to finally say goodbye.

He stood up and patted the tree again. "You're a great guardian for the hellmouth," he told it. "If it opens, eat anything that tries to climb up you." It patted him again. He walked off. His family home was gone. Giles old shop was gone. His old apartment was still standing, barely. The mansion was still standing. He walked around it, making sure they had gotten everything out of it. He picked up a pencil that had been in a puzzle book, walking out fiddling with it. The Adams college area was still standing, mostly. The one fraternity looked almost new. He laughed. "I guess some of the taint remains." He ran into Bucky, who was smoking against one of the dorms. "Hey. You get that lonely?"

"Andrew was worried you'd do something stupid and Willow was sure you'd be eaten. I told her off and told Andrew you'd be okay but he sent me anyway."

"They do worry about me being too normal at times." He nodded. "Come meet my hellmouth." He walked him off. "Buffy nearly got eaten at that frat and the college ended up shutting down because that fraternity had been sacrificing virgins to their pet demon for boons."

Bucky looked at the building then at him. "Why?"

"When it fell, a whole bunch of politicians and others with power fell," he said quietly, looking at him. "That's why they joined that fraternity. I used to wonder if that one at Yale was the same thing but from the movie I guess not. Buffy slayed it when she and Cordy nearly got sacrificed." He walked him off to show him the other important things. Including the old Initiative base. "I shot my first human here," he said, staring down the tunnel. "And I wasn't really sorry because he deserved it. They had a friend." Bucky nodded. "It's all clean. We made sure they didn't leave any parts to be disrespected. Buffy and I came back a few days later with a demon healer to have her check for any survivors that hadn't made it out and to make plans. People and demons are easier if they have bodies to bury after the bad things."

Bucky looked at him. "I made plenty of bodies."

"Yeah, I did my own share but they weren't human." He led him off, showing him Willow and Tara's dorms. They ended up out by the cliffs. He walked around it and pointed. "There's a temple here to an ancient hell goddess. Willow nearly ended humanity in her grief over losing Tara with it," he said, looking at Bucky. "There's days I used to wonder if not feeling like that over Anya was wrong."

"No, very few people get that sort of feeling," Bucky said, hitting him on the arm. "You and Anya were good but not soulmates."

"True. Anya was a bit dirty minded most of the time." Bucky snorted but smiled. "She went in the hellmouth battle. Her body's inside the seal so if someone opens it, I hope the tree has a good lunch." He looked out at the sea and smiled, pointing. He grabbed Bucky's metal arm. "It's one of my former swim team." He waved at the waving mermaid.

"That's a mermaid?"

"Yup."

"Gross."

"Kinda." He grinned. "At least they cleaned up the mess the coach had made by eating him and taking her remains back to the sea."

"That is good." He looked at Xander. "You better?"

"No." He shrugged, looking at him, eye bright. "I don't think there is a better." He put back on the shielding necklace. "We should go. It's nearly dark and there's probably vampires around here again. They do love to hide in the underground tunnels the former mayor built."

Bucky nodded, making sure they made it back across the barrier Willow had erected with the coven to keep all the radiation inside. Xander adjusted his necklace and for a minute he felt that then it went away again. "You feel like that."

Xander smiled. "I was born really close and for some reason I sucked up a lot of the radiation when we were working overtop of it in the library." He shrugged. "I don't know but I have shielding on in case it draws stuff. Frankly, that's a good reason for succuba teasing. They can suck some of it off me so I'm not so glowy with it." He got into the truck but Bucky shoved him and got in to drive instead. "Sure, you drive."

"With the way yer mopin', yup."

"Not like I'd crash the truck, Bucky."

"Shut up. I'm being nice."

"Thank you."

"Welcome." He drove them off and got brought back to Cleveland to find a fuming Andrew. "What?" Bucky demanded.

"He had us invaded by a chaos mage."

"Giles asked for him."

"Whatever. He's still a bad guy."

"He's in with Janus, 'Drew. Very little of what he did was intentionally harmful. If they hadn't picked monster costumes they wouldn't have eaten each other. The deaging candy was at a bad time and I do fault him for that because the mayor managed that sacrifice, but the rest was mostly just raising energy for chaos. Like sex magic only it's got to have panic and hell."

"But...the costume shop was full of bad costumes. I got a super villain one there."

"Who made you pick that?" Xander asked. "I got a toy gun there." He shrugged. "I learned a lot by being turned into a PFC."

Bucky stared at him. "Really?" Xander nodded with a grin. "That's weird."

"It was his chaos raising event," Xander quipped. "Buffy went as an airhead and Willow went as a ghost who Buffy had dressed like a slut."

"She was a seventeenth century noblewoman," Ethan corrected as he came down the stairs.

"She was still an airhead that fainted at the drop of a hankie," Xander shot back with a smirk. "But thank you. I learned a lot from the soldier. It came in very handy more than once. He and the hyena get along great."

Ethan gaped, staring at him. "You kept it?" Xander smiled and nodded. "How in Janus' name did that happen?"

"No idea," Xander admitted. "Maybe like how I sucked up so much hellmouth energy?"

Ethan moaned. "You're a bloody medium."

"And shaman," Xander quipped with a smirk. "Giles okay?"

"He's as fine as he was earlier." Xander nodded. "I did not intend to have that consequence. The candy incident, I owed a debt."

Xander nodded. "I've had a few of those from kitten poker. I paid most of them off by stripping and once by taking out someone's stupid son-in-law who was trying to eat their grandkids."

Ethan smiled. "He's right. You would have made the perfect son between us, boy."

"Xander. About time you learned it, Ethan, and if I'm your kid you missed a whole lot."

"I'd never spawn. Janus would make her a pure nun to give me hell." He stared at him. "You will do fine as his heir and proxy."

"Tell that to the older idiots who want to kill him," Andrew said dryly.

Xander shook his head. "They won't manage it. Nothing else has."

"His illness is a curse and the Powers granted it," Ethan said. Both boys glared at him with hard, cold gazes and the stranger's wasn't much better. "His was a punishment by them for letting you upturn things."

"They can get me if they want. They've tried and I'm aware of that," Xander said quietly. "Being a seer does help that." Ethan smirked and walked off. "Come back if you want to talk to him again."

"We have a standing appointment for tea on thursdays now," he called back.

"I'll mark it down," 'Drew said, doing that on the calendar on the fridge.

Xander walked off shaking his head. "I'm going to lounge." One of the girls squealed and pounced him to drag him to their tv room to lounge with them. "Sure, I can lounge and tell you you're too young to watch that show," he quipped.

Bucky frowned. "Tv shows have age ratings?"

"In the upper left corner at the beginning," Andrew said. "Like movie ratings. That one's a lot of blood, swords, beheadings, and boobs. I like it but I liked the books better. Want the first one to read?"

"Sure," he decided. Andrew smiled and found it for him. He went to stare at the tv in there. A few of the girls curled up around him and he had to give them funny looks but when there was a fight, the one next to his metal arm wrapped herself around it and held on while trying not to watch. It was...comforting. People besides Xander didn't mind touching him on that arm. That was nice of them. Even if the show was giving him a major headache and flashes.

"Girls, let Bucky go have flashbacks," Xander said suddenly.

They let him go and Xander got him back to their house so he could have it in private. That helped. Having people there would make him lash out. He could curl up in the corner of the armory and just breathe until all the flashes and pain stopped. By the time he came out, he had a mug of tea cooling beside him, a plate of cookies with one bitten in half, and the book next to him. He took a deep breath and calmed himself, eating the small snack. It did help and he could think about the new memories he had seen. When he finally came out, he found Sam sitting in a chair wearing a blindfold and listening to his headphones. "Did someone kidnap you?" he asked quietly.

"Yup." He took off the headphones and pointed at the windows. "Drop the blinds so I can take this off. Andrew said if I disturbed Xander's quiet spot he'd give me to something evil who would like to lick me all over."

"His name's Barney," Bucky said, but he did put the drapes down and put the dishes in the sink. He came back. "Why did they kidnap you?"

"Andrew thought you might like to talk to someone." He got comfortable. "Had another flashback?" He nodded. "Xander told him to clear out for you. New memories or something you already remembered?"

"New ones." He pointed at the book. "We were watching something with that and then there was a battle and blood... It was like the freeing of a base."

Sam nodded. "I've seen others that had those after freeing rebel held areas that had hostages in them." Bucky nodded. "You better? Calmer? Down out of it?"

"Yeah, I'm out of it." He looked at him. "I was totally relaxed. Just hit me."

"They can do that. Not everyone has known triggers." He tipped his head and stared at him. "If you want to get up and pace, you can."

"I'm good."

"You were trained to stillness as a sniper," he corrected. Bucky nodded that was true. "You're not sniping now so move if you gotta move."

"I... I'm not agitated that way."

"Okay. Want to talk about the war?"

"No." He looked at him. "People talk about those things?"

"They can't remember the rest of the times if they can't talk about it. The friends they made and may have lost. The guys with them in their unit. The poker games, the easy girls that tended to haunt camps." Bucky nodded he remembered those. "Tell me about your unit."

"The Commandos or the 107?"

"Either one. I've seen the documentary on the Howling Commandos. The Smithsonian exhibit too." Bucky stared at him. He grinned. "They praised you guys a lot for being one of the first integrated units. That your only qualification was 'able to kick an ass'."

"Pretty much. We were all leaders from where Steve freed us from that one base. From Zola and Schmidt."

"The Red Skeleton as they later called him."

"That's about right. It was freaky. He pulled off his fake face and he had red skin and it was pretty gross. I just looked at Steve and asked if he had one of those."

Sam smiled. "You still probably would've loved the goofball if he did."

"Yeah, probably. I never would've tried to set him up with nice girls though. Nice girls don't go for that sort of thing. Or Steve before the serum." Sam nodded with a grin. "Does he date now?"

"No. Even before he got his daughter he didn't really date. Natasha said she used to taunt him about that and try to set him up."

"Daughter?"

"Suzette?"

"I knew he was helping her but I thought he inherited her or something."

"No, she's his. The lab that Harris is searching out made her. He heard and found her there with another little girl. Her parents are overprotective so they're not getting near her and Suzette's well protected by the others."

"Wow, Steve's got a family."

"That he never had a thing to do with coming into being," Sam reminded him. "He said Xander delivered her at the tower and they talked for a few days then he had to rush off to help another slayer."

He considered it and nodded. "He'll make a great dad."

"So far he's still not understanding modern little girl things. She had people tied up for almost a week while he was on a mission. He tried logic to get her to let them go but she's a tiny bit stubborn."

Bucky smiled. "Andrew told us." He looked out the crack of window that he could see then at him again. "He's a good dad?"

"He's a great dad. She's a charming little hellion who loves to learn new things like how to bake pies. She's a dessert hound."

"I used ta be the same way." He shifted and got comfortable again. "Do we know the mom?"

"Xander's got all those files. You can ask him. He's looking for other ones."

"The three boys. He thinks one may've been mine," he said quietly. Sam nodded. "I'll ask to see it later."

"That's fine." He smiled. "How did your trip guarding Xander go?"

"I learned a lot. Including that the mini slayers are all vicious little things and are still scared of snakes."

"In that part of the world, that's a smart thing to be," Sam agreed. "You managed the environment and all the different people okay?"

"Usually. A few times I had to go out in the bush because it was too much or too loud, and in one case too smelly. They were dying wedding clothes for one of the girls in the village." Sam nodded. "Xander let me have my time and checked on me after an hour, telling me where he'd be and if I wanted to go nap in the truck." He shrugged. "It went okay. I did pretty decent." He looked at him. "You saw me at that battle."

"I did and told Steve I saw you. He's a bit upset that you won't talk to him yet."

"I'm not *him*."

"I've pointed that out. That he's got to get used to this changed you. One who's grown up, seen hell and back twice, and then found himself again. War changes everybody, even if you're only a bystander. As they put it on the internet: what's seen cannot be unseen." Bucky nodded. "You had some seriously bad shit in your past. That changes a guy from a goofy guy like Xander to a more serious and harder one."

"Xander's not as goofy as you'd think."

"I know. I've seen the layers even if most don't." He stared at him then grinned. "Steve's awfully worried you'll start to like Xander."

"I like Xander. He's a nice guy. I don't think I want to screw him though. I don't think I'm his type."

"His type is any type that likes him," Sam said. "He's not picky that way. He probably never was. Not many men could date the vengeance demon over scorned women. Fired or not."

"I asked him about her." He shuddered. "I think she could've won the war for us."

"Probably if the victims had been able to call on her. There's probably others that helped." Bucky nodded, relaxing slowly again. "Do you think of yourself as a victim?"

"No," he said, looking at his metallic arm. "Not really. Unfortunate but not a victim. Neither time I got captured really. Unlucky but not a victim and not to be pitied or pampered or cosseted or anything like that," he said more firmly.

"Does anyone do that to you now? I can tell them to step off."

"No. They don't. They don't over Xander's eye." He looked down then at Sam again. "Steve will."

"If you need him to nurse you like he needed you to do it, he'll probably step up. I can almost guarantee that. If you don't need it..."

"That's one reason why I'm waiting. I don't want him to see me this weak."

"The guy who followed the Walking Chaos Source through three continents in that many months isn't weak," he said. "You're not weaker than any other human. If you were, you'd still be in the corner sobbing over being a victim. Eventually you'd still get up and start to heal and move on however you could. That's how humans deal with big stresses and horrible things."

Bucky nodded. "I've done some of that but sometimes I just don't want to think about it."

"So don't. Does it startle you when you look at your arm?"

"Not usually. Now and then I'm feeling like a normal guy then I see it and I flinch and realize I'm not."

"You are. Plenty of vets have fake limbs thanks to the last two wars, Bucky." Bucky stared at him. "They do. IED's and other bad things blew up a lot of guys. There's a lot of injured vets these days and the ones that can, have prosthetic limbs. That's all that is. Even if it's super high tech and welded into your spine somehow or whatever." Bucky nodded, touching his metal arm with his real hand. "If a guy could run an olympic race on two fake legs, you can live with one fake arm. Even if he's not a good example since they think he killed his girlfriend."

Bucky nodded, staring at his hand as it flexed. "Still not the same as the guys who have a claw."

"No, yours is more delicate. They have to learn how to pick up the salt shaker, you can already do that. They work up to where you are, or as close as they can be."

Bucky nodded. "It's not horrible but I need to fix a few things."

"We can help you do that," Andrew said, handing over plates as he appeared. He disappeared and came back with coffee and tea. He looked at Bucky. "I'm not the great engineer Stark is but I can probably help with tiny repairs. If not, I know some techno demons who probably could."

"No thanks. I'm okay right now. I could use the star taken off." He covered it with a hand.

"Or we could paint around it," Andrew said. "I can look up ways of doing that. Or I can ask Stark."

"He's gotta hate me. I killed his parents."

"From what I've seen of Stark's biography, his parents weren't that great by the time he came. Maybe the war warped them too," Andrew said then left. "Let me know."

"Thanks, 'Drew," he called after him. He looked at the plate then dug in. "When I first came out of it, I was paranoid about my food. Xander handed me whole fruit and sandwiches he made in front of me." He dug in.

"A lot of guys are. It's an old, easy trick."

"But I never used ta eat, Sam. They asked me if I needed food before they froze me." Sam's fork dropped. "A lot of times I went back into the cryo pod without needing to eat because it had been a short mission."

Sam nodded. "You learn to live on short rations but that makes food all the more precious and even more reasons to be paranoid about it." Bucky nodded, getting that as he ate another bite. "Who cooked when you two were in the field?" He scooped up some egg with his toast. He noticed Bucky didn't have toast but maybe he didn't like toast. Some guys didn't like bread.

Bucky paused his eating to think about that then shrugged. "We mostly split it when we weren't eating with one of the minis. I helped their moms cook a few times. So did he. We always brought our own foods. Usually left most of it there too. Does Steve eat like this?"

"Steve's usually having at least four eggs for breakfast. Man eats more than farm animals."

Bucky grinned, ducking his head to get back to eating. "I know that feeling. It took me a few weeks to realize I needed to eat like this. Mostly because Kate asked me what my diet plan was since I was looking so girlish."

"Kate Bishop?"

"Yeah. Xander said she's like his little sister." He looked up. "I've seen her a few times."

"She never mentioned that."

"That's fine. I'm not sure if I asked her to or not." He finished his breakfast and got up. He hated having dirty dishes, that brought bugs. Especially here. Sam finished and let him have them too so they all went into the dishwasher. He heard a quiet moan then a yelp. "I thought Xander was still over there." He went to check on him. "Why are you bleeding?"

"Shut up," Xander groaned, sitting up holding his side on the way to the bathroom. "Morning."

"Another winning morning I see," he said sarcastically. "Coffee?" The bathroom door slammed. "And why are you bleeding? Before I have to tell someone?"

"It's nothing. Really."

"Uh-huh." He came back out, finding of all people Clint Barton. "Hi. I know you vaguely from your dossier and the pictures from Suzette." He didn't want to think about how he was reaching for the weapons he was wearing.

"She sent me because Xander's being plagued by a dream demon. Andrew sent me here."

"That's probably why he woke up with his side bleeding?"

Clint shrugged. "No idea, just the messenger." He waved a hand and grinned. "Morning, Sam."

"Morning, Clint." He looked at Bucky. "Any idea where the first aid kit is?"

"Probably in there with him or with his stuff from when he did the healing at the hospital." He looked in that bag, unpacking it because Xander was so messy. He found it and carried it into Xander's room, tossing it into his bedroom. "Suzette sent Clint Barton to ask about dream demons."

"She's got one on her?"

"She said you do."

"Well, yeah, but we're old friends. The Powers sent Spike to harass me." He shrugged, pouring a potion on it then putting bandages over the small cuts. "Go back to talking to Sam."

"You were in here all night?"

"Yup, just in case you lost it and started to pull your hair out again." He gave him a look. "Did you want me to go camp on the couch over there?"

"No. It's nice I have a rope in case I fall this time."

Xander turned and punched him on the arm. "Anyone can fall at any time. Life sucks. Then you die. In your case, twice." Bucky snorted but scowled. Xander grinned. "It does."

"Then what about yours?"

"I'll go sometime. If the Powers have their way, not due to a demon attack so I look even more normal to the girls so they discourage anyone else from becoming me. Which...too late but yay for them." He smirked a tiny bit. "If not, there's umpteen billion apocalypse battles between now and the end of time. I'll fall during one of them probably." He shrugged. "They happen. We all get injured."

"You're depressing today. Stop it."

Xander blew a kiss at him with a smile to back it up. "I gotta be me sometimes. Besides, it's before coffee."

"I can have Andrew make you some."

"I'm going to Starbucks." He walked around him. "I'm going out for slayer style coffee. Morning, Barton." He walked around him to grab keys and head outside. He knew what Bucky drank, and what Sam drank. Clint would drink something he guessed. If not, more for him. He had to come back for his wallet but that was about normal first thing in the morning.

Bucky sat down once Xander was gone and Barton was in the kitchen. "He's morbid today."

"He's probably still in remembrance mode."

"Maybe. He showed me some of his town. I remember when it was pretty." Clint looked over his shoulder at him. "They sent me to figure out what was changing people out there to see if they could harness it. Someone at the old Council gave them a clue so they pulled me. I was Xander and Andrew's sixth grade english teacher."

Clint grinned. "I'm sure that was fun."

"I remember them being pretty good boys but I also imparted some manly sense at times about being nicer to girls."

"Apparently it stuck with some of them," Sam said.

Bucky nodded. "Xander did beat some father up and blatantly walk his baby daughter off because she was too damn young. He put her with an older girl he had paid the bride price for and freed to live a normal life then let her handle it. She had found a husband and they seemed happy enough."

"He paid the bride price then freed her?" Sam asked.

"Yeah. He said he did. Said that they were too damn young to get married and it was a bad marriage. He was a seer and he said he saw bad things. So the families couldn't complain because he paid for them but he wasn't going to marry them." Xander walked in with a tray of coffee, handing everyone one then taking his toward the bedroom. "What happened to those girls you freed from marriage?"

"I gave one a micro loan so she could buy some sheep to milk and knit yarn from. The others mostly found husbands that made them happy. Only one had problems and her whole town was taken out by assholes with guns and books of faith." He came back out putting on a shirt. "I had to warn that one slayer's father not to try it too. He thought she'd adore being a new wife at seven to save the village." He shook his head, sipping his coffee. "Turns out neither village was saved thanks to the grass fire that demon set and the rocks it threw. Glad we got her out of there with her siblings though. Last I heard the kids were fine and anyone who survived banded to make a whole new village with that other one." He hummed as he sipped, then went outside to stretch.

Clint sipped his coffee sludge drink, nodding. "He's hyper."

"He does that," Bucky said. "Then I usually see one of his ex's."

"None in Hawaii, Bucky. They drove them all off." They all heard a high pitched squeal and he carried in a bug. "Squish this one for me please? Let me go talk to the beloved local police?"

"Sure." He crushed that bug and handed it back. "We know who?"

"Tracking charm in my watch." He put it on and touched the former listening device to it then headed off to follow the little red dot. He leaned into their office with a smile. "Hi, I'm Xander Harris with the Council of Watchers and you assholes bugged my house. Why?" They stared at him. He stared back. "Be aware I'm not real civilized about some things, guys. If something had happened to someone I'm protecting because of you, you would've become kindling." He tossed the bug back. "Don't do it again. I have presidential authority to hoard weapons for the slayers and I will use them to defend myself and this pretty island too."

He smiled. "Have a better day, dudes." He walked off, getting another coffee drink from the lady up the hall with the cart before heading outside. Someone was on his hood so he kissed them hard enough to make them moan. "If those were your idiots with the bug, Danny, go stomp them for me please. I don't need that shit, especially when I could use a date." He got into the truck and drove off.

Danny's partner stared at him. "Who was that?" he demanded.

"Xander Harris. The guy with the Council. I had to work with him once and apparently he thought I was pretty." He shrugged. "Whaddo I know?" He went inside. He found the muttering, angry cops so they had to have met Xander. He walked in. "Okay, who pissed off the guy who took down rebel bands in Africa because they were bothering little kids?" The cops stared at him. "Yeah, he has." One sat down with a wince. "We wanted to know what?"

"He's never here and his neighbors said that there's strange things going on over there."

"First, his house has no neighbors that can look in. Harris is a bit paranoid and lives around jumpy girls who hunt vampires and shit," Danny said dryly. "Did you look at the house to see if there were any neighbors? Because if not, it's probably our dirty as hell law firm Wolfram and Hart. Ya know, the guys who did the LA invasion?" A few winced and one moaned. "Secondly, ya don't go near Harris without a great reason. The guy who brings a battle axe to a battle with a huge ass demon, he's kinda nuts in that needs spandex way. Even most of the Avenger guys use real weapons.

"Xander uses an axe or a sword unless he's really pissed at 'em, and then he uses explosives. And he's got presidential permission so don't even think about it." The rest of them sulked. "Third!" he said more loudly. "How dare you threaten this island by nearly having him killed! Do you really *want* us to be invaded! Do you know what would come to try him if they think he's weak or too injured! How stupid are you!" His partner walked him out. "Good! You go yell at the idiots!"

"I'm going to. You go calm down while you pull his file for me."

"Presidential permission to hoard any weapons he wants," Danny said slowly and clearly.

"Does that mean we can't borrow?" Steve asked.

"You two are nuts in the same way so I don't know," he admitted. "You can ask. He might letcha." He walked off to get that file from his former people back in New Jersey. Though, that was the worst nightmare for the islands: Xander and Steve having to hunt demons together.

***

Xander strolled back in. "There's a second group of people here who'd like to know about our weapons but he only wants to borrow the pretties to blow up the arms dealers he said are infecting us." He smiled. "He's a SEAL and he's kinda hot but way too straight for me." He went into the kitchen, putting the bags down. "By the way, Wolfram and Hart's local offices are no more. Be damned if I want them to infect here since they tried to fuck with me by turning me in for having weapons. Pity."

Sam shook his head quickly then looked at Bucky, who was staring at his phone. "What are you doing?"

"Seeing which ex is closer," he said, looking over at Xander. "Can I call an ex for you and disappear for the day?"

Xander smiled. "I just had a chat with Bartty. He said hi and he still wanted to hit on you, even after I spanked him like he wanted."

"When did you have time to blow up a law firm, have sex, and grocery shop?" Clint asked. "I can't even grocery shop in the amount of time you were gone."

"Bartty has a few magical artifacts and accidentally set the one off that's got a slight temporal gateway. It took me back to last night. So I had plenty of time for sex and grocery shopping, plus blowing up that law firm." He smiled. "Bartty's so nice and he even gave me new grenades." He pulled them out of the grocery bag and the few other things he had bought, tossing the fruit at Bucky, who ate some of it and tossed some to Clint and Sam. Xander cooed over his grenades on the way to the armory to put them up safely. "Such pretty little eggies. Yes you are. You're in good hands, little explosive eggies. We'll be great friends and we'll make pretty hell together, but until then you'll be petted and cleaned and taken care of very nicely. We won't let you get dusty or anything, babies."

"He's cooing over grenades," Clint said.

"He's like that," Bucky said.

Sam nodded. "I've seen him do it over a new knife someone gave him." He sipped his coffee.

Bucky nodded. "I saw him do it over the tank that his anti-magic device company made. The guy wanted a tank that'd be a bit better than the others. The only thing he and his people could come up with left the tank slightly sentient but only willing to fire on other tanks. They thought it'd be okay. Xander cooed over it when he handed it over." Clint stared at him, mouth open then he sighed and shook his head. "I'm not sure if Andrew helped with that or not."

Clint went outside to call Natasha and ask if that was sane or if he was slipping finally.

Sam shrugged. "Some people can take a bouncy Xander up close and some can't."

"I handed him to some village girls once," Bucky said. "They appreciated it because he helped them do their hair. They would've expected marriage to go farther."

Sam nodded. "There's a lot of women like that still in the world."

"Easy girls have been around longer than me, Sam. I had more than a few."

Sam smiled. "Sometimes that's a great thing." Bucky nodded. "You feeling better about that issue?"

"I...no. Still nothing."

"It'll probably come, unless they damaged the nerves or something."

"Xander had me do this test with paper. It worked then."

"So for now it's the mental component," Sam said. "You can deal with that eventually, when you're ready." Bucky nodded. Xander came out of the armory and went out back with the sword, making something or someone yelp and run off. Xander came running in and jumped over the couch, letting Bucky shoot the snake that was chasing him. "Nice," Sam said. "Thank you, Bucky."

"Thanks, Bucky," Xander quipped and went to hide in the armory again. It was a small house and there wasn't anywhere else to really hide from him and Sam talking. Though he did go bring Barton back through the portal. He handed him to Mira, who was sixteen. "This is Hawkeye. He's Kate Bishop's role model and other holder of the name. Suzette tied him up for four days to make him happy by making him watch anime and play board games with her."

She gave him an evil smirk. "We can see if that makes him happy again." He tried to get free but she and her sister slayers pounced him and carried him off. Xander grinned and waved. It was mean of Xander but they needed new guys to talk to about how to handle guys. Not like they understood guy things. He could probably even give opinions on date outfits.

Xander went to check on his local armory and then shifted things around for the next battle. That could help a lot. Plus it let Bucky have some space.

***

Clint found his phone when he was let into the bathroom that first time, calling in. "Hill, the slayers have me a bit tied up right now to ask about guys. Can you warn Coulson please? Or Natasha in case there's a mission?" He hung up and went to the bathroom then went back out before they came looking for him. Some of those girls were really aggressive. He didn't want to hurt them, or them to hurt him, but he needed to be a bit complacent to get them to ignore him for a while so he could escape. Clearly, good knot tying skills came from the slayer spirit.

Up at the SHIELD base by New York City, Maria Hill sent that message on to Coulson and a congratulations message to the slayers that had caught him. Not many could catch Clint Barton that way.

***

That night, Phil Coulson was on the doorstep. One of the girls let him in. "I'm here to retrieve Agent Barton."

"We need Clinty to help us understand guy things," that slayer said with a smile. "Aren't you that Coulson guy that Xander knows?"

"I am. I'm actually his uncle but we don't talk much."

"Ooooh!" she cooed, giving him a hug. Three other slayers knocked him out during the hug and they carried him off to tie him up so he could help Clinty teach them about guys. He had to know and he was related to Xander so he could probably explain stranger guys like him too. Or maybe Bucky. They all had a huge crush on him because he could hold up with a slayer on patrol and in other ways. Xander had even tortured him by making him shop with them once; he hadn't begged or anything so he was more than worthy. Even the dirty looks he gave them for forcing him to help them shop was cute.

When Coulson came to he was tied up next to Clint, who was grinning at him. "This is not the rescue I expected."

"Me either," Clint said. "They do knots better than Nat does too. She could take lessons from these girls."

The girls laughed at their silliness and got their dinner to hand-feed them. They were such nice guys and didn't even complain. Coulson was even polite. None of the boys their age were polite.

A male voice floated up the stairs. "They need to go to bed, ladies, and so do you. At their age and experience levels they need to sleep in a bed because they probably ache all night. The guest room's free, let them use it," Andrew called.

"Yes, Andrew," they complained back but took them that way. They even nicely untied them so they could shower and get comfortable. They bounded back to their rooms to go to bed. Or to sleep over and chat and squeal over cute boys.

Andrew leaned in with a grin. "You're welcome and thankfully I'm not like Xander, I don't charge sex for rescues."

"Thank you, Andrew," Coulson said. "It was very kind of you to rescue us."

"You're welcome. Would you like to join mine and Xander's evil empire?"

Clint grinned. "Yes. Please?"

"When we've got it set up, we'll send you information and directions." He left them alone to sneak out of the house however they managed it. Especially since the security system was on high.

***

Natasha looked at the two agents the next afternoon when they made it back to the base. "What kept you two?"

"Slayers," Clint said. "They tied me up, Nat. They asked me how guys thought about stuff and to approve date outfits as just this side of slutty. I'm pretty sure I know why Xander won't shop with them anymore."

"They did have exceedingly good knot and tying skills," Phil said. "They immobilized my arms completely and I couldn't get to any of my weapons." She walked off shaking her head.

"They were better than yours, Nat. You need lessons from them in soft torture too," Clint said.

She snorted but didn't look back. She could out-torture any young woman in any manner necessary, even so-called soft torture like My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake or boybands.

Coulson went to his office to make a report. Clint wrote out his and they both sent them to Hill, who praised her younger slayers sisters. She shared with Buffy to so they could get rewards and treats for it. The girls sent back squeals for the huge candy bars and fifty dollar mall gift certificates. She added that to the end of the report and sent them to Fury. Fury came out to get into her stash of headache medicine then went back to his desk. He was a man and not a slayer, he wouldn't understand.

TBC...
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