We All Need A Bit of Help Sometimes. by Voracity2
Summary: Xander's clients are a lot like him, a bit broken a bit dented, and doing what they have to do. That doesn't mean they're not fussy, cranky, and have plots against them.
Categories: Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Avengers, Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Losers Characters: None
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 86627 Read: 283628 Published: 03/17/2016 Updated: 03/17/2016

1. Part 1 by Voracity2

2. Part 2 by Voracity2

3. Part 3 by Voracity2

4. Part 4 by Voracity2

5. Part 5 by Voracity2

Part 1 by Voracity2
We All Need A Bit of Help Sometimes.

The younger man walked into the bar he had been summoned to, spotting his target at the bar easily enough. He was drunk enough to be loose but still very uptight. "Hey," he said, sitting beside him, putting a hand on his knee. "You rang?"

"I did. I...." He gulped the rest of his beer. "I probably shouldn't be alone tonight."

"I get that."

"He your boyfriend?" the bartender asked.

"No, I'm his therapist," Xander said with a smile. "He knows I'll come pick him up and put him up for the night." The bartender handed over the keys he had confiscated. "Thanks. C'mon, Clint, let's go back to my place."

"Natasha's going to be mad."

"Nah, she knows you crash at my place sometimes. I won't even let you drunk call her this time." Clint winced. Xander grinned. "C'mon." He hauled him up and out to Clint's car. Xander had cabbed because he knew Clint would've driven. It wasn't the first time he'd answered this call. Clint got in the passenger's side, shifting to lean against the doorway. Xander got in to drive, checking the car over before starting the engine and pulling out of the parking spot. "Wanna tell me what happened?"

"Yeah, I guess I should," Clint sighed. He pouted. "He came back from the dead. But you knew that."

"I did see Phil, yes." He glanced at him at a stoplight. "I hinted."

"I realize that now. That whole 'coming back from the dead isn't a great thing' story."

"Um-huh." He got them to his house, parking and getting out. Clint got out to follow him inside. "C'mon, I'll even cuddle tonight. I won't let you drunk call Natasha or anyone. I won't even demand favors," he teased with a grin. Clint hugged him. "I understand. I really do." He led him upstairs to the bedroom, letting Clint strip down while Xander got down to his boxers so they could nap. Clint needed tactile expressions of peace. He had never been touched by someone who just wanted to hug him. It was sad, but that was another thing Xander understood all too well. So he cuddled Clint. That way he'd sleep without nightmares for a change. They could talk in the morning.

Of course, morning came much earlier than expected and in a noisy manner that probably would've made the neighbors complain. It came with the security alarm warning him people were coming up the front stairs. He put on a robe and headed down to answer the door before someone pounded on it for too long. He nodded at two of them. "Let him sleep, Natasha. He's had a crappy night. I had to pick him up from the bar."

She grimaced. "I've seen that. We can talk later."

"Thank you. Steve, go ahead up to your painting spot if you want." He grinned as he headed up the stairs. "Let Clint sleep. He needs it." He tightened his robe's belt, staring at the other guy. "Mr. Stark, why are you here?"

"You have possession of our archer."

Xander grinned. "Yes, he needed a hug. I'm his therapist." Stark gaped. Xander grinned. "We've had some comparing stories that've made him freak out at times."

"You're not one of us."

"No, I wasn't. I was doing other insane stuff to save the world." He pointed at the pictures around the hallway. "This is my directory of nightmares. I'm sure you recognize at least one's point of origin." Stark looked, staring at one that had the guy with a battle axe staring at a huge demon's head. "Hmm, that one. Not all that fun." He walked off. "I'm starting some coffee. Want some?"

"You...they all left," he said, following him.

Xander turned and held up a hand. "Two of us weren't in the house and they only took the *girls* who were out of the house. Giles had called a Council-wide meeting. We, me and Andrew Wells, were outside the house handling something bigger so we were running late when Willow cast the spell so humanity wouldn't be bothered with any more demon problems. He's presently working with a group that helps peaceful demons have rights. I'm being a therapist because I've seen worse than this." He shrugged but grinned.

"I've seen stuff that would make your last battle look like a playground date. Actually, I saw that last battle with the robot guy. I'm the one that had to reset the bomb at the last minute. He really needed to clean that nasty metal ass of his." Stark made whimpering noises. "The one who built it is Andrew. He went to law school. I went to school to be a counselor for guys just like we are. Not like normal therapists will handle hearing about battle nightmares." He went back to walking toward the kitchen. "Was that a yes on coffee?"

"Please," he said, following him. "Then how did you meet Hawkeye?"

Xander looked at him. "I've seen many agents over the last few years. For many reasons. He got referred to me after he got possessed. Which I've had happen so I could help him work up protections against it happening again plus help him rationally look at what happened." He started the coffee maker, pulling down a few cups. He looked up. "I told her to leave him alone. He's going to wake up upset." He poured a glass of water from the fridge and grabbed the first cup of coffee then walked off. "I'll be back in a minute." He carried them upstairs, handing Natasha the water before kicking her out of his bedroom. "You'll upset him. Stop it. Friends don't do that shit to each other unless your name is Buffy." He slammed the door in her face, which woke Clint up. "Natasha's here."

"You called her?" he moaned, not opening his eyes.

"Stark brought her and Steve." He handed over the coffee, getting a grin for it. "Stark's a bit confused. Steve's up in his painting corner. I just kicked Natasha out before she broke out markers or something else Buffy-like." Clint sat up with a moan, taking a sip of the coffee. "You can stay here for the day if you want," he reminded him quietly. "Sometimes it helps just having someone around you." He nodded, not looking up. "Of course, we could talk like normal therapist and client." He sat on the foot of the bed. "Up to you."

"Why am I naked?"

"You got naked and slept all night, since about two," Xander said with a grin. "It's a great, comfy way to get cuddles."

"Yeah, I guess it would be." He found his boxers to put on then settled on the bed again with the coffee. "I don't know. It just.... It caught up with me last night."

"You mentioned Phil in the car."

Clint nodded, looking up at him. "I spotted him at something." He sipped the coffee, grimacing. "Weak."

"Sorry, bottom of the container."

"It's fine. It's caffeine." He slumped, staring at him. "Did you know?"

"Yup. That's why I told you that story about friends who suddenly show up again after being dead."

"I figured that out."

"I couldn't break that confidentiality."

"I know. At least you hinted. It wasn't out of the blue and a horrible shock that would've gotten me dead in the field."

"Were you injured?"

"Stunned stupid for a few minutes but something fired on us so I snapped out to battle mode." Xander nodded, leaning over to pat his hands. Clint gripped his, staring at him. "It's one fucked up mess sometimes."

"It is," Xander agreed with a smile. "Then again, that's most everyone's life at times."

"True. Was he dead?" Xander nodded. "How did he come back? Magic?"

"No. It was techno-bullshit level of tech. Did you tell the others?"

"I thought they might've seen him."

"You can make sure later." Clint nodded, finishing the coffee. "What else was bothering you?"

"I saw Bobbi. She was working for him."

"Hmm. Bobbi's still a sore spot in your life." Clint nodded. "Now she's your handler's pet?" Clint grimaced but nodded. "Are you jealous of her or of him?"

"I don't know," Clint admitted. "Things weren't always great with Bobbi but she used to be mine, ya know."

"Kinda. The last time I was serious about someone I gave her up for her own good and then she died about a year and a half later, but we got back to being friends."

Clint blinked at him. "That far back?" Xander nodded. "I can't say anything, it's been that long since I dated."

"I think you have a romantic partner there but you two don't do dating the same way anyone else does, Clint. Or else she wouldn't worry about you." Clint stared at him. "Don't you love her?"

"More than anything. She's like my family."

"Is it romantic or otherwise?"

He snorted. "That might depend on the day with her."

Xander grinned. "Sometimes it does, yeah. There's plenty of days I was done with dealing with Anya so I walked off. It let her bother other people in the group."

"What would you do if one of them showed back up?"

"Willow was in scary goddess mode. She was going to sacrifice myself and Andrew to finish taking off the links to this realm. I about killed her but he banished her so I wouldn't have to take out another friend who had turned."

"One was?"


"Damn. That sucks."

"Yup. Wasn't totally planned but he was my first staking," he said quietly, staring at his client. "So yeah, I understand. It's a horrible thing when it's a friend that's the bad thing. But hey, Phil probably isn't the bad thing. He might be a bit cranked. After all, he's been stuck on a plane with some people that are a bit...my sort of date." Clint grimaced, shaking his head. "That one's a spunky little angry spitfire."

"Hold on," Clint said, sitting up straight. "Oriental?"

"Yeah, her." He grinned. "Saw you two in a picture in your wallet once."

"I'll be fucking damned," he said. "NATASHA!" She opened the door a second later. "Did you know Coulson's alive?"

She sipped the water, staring at him. "Are you still drunk?" Xander shook his head. "We are certain?"

"Yeah, he's been stuck on a plane with some spunky little people, and a hacker that reminds me of an angry Willow without magic," Xander said. "I could not tell him directly because hey, client confidentiality."

"The nice Asian lady in that picture has been with him," Clint said dryly.

"Melinda," she purred coldly. "Oh, dear." She sipped the rest of the water as she walked off. "Why have they been together on a plane?" she called.

"Because he's now in charge," Xander called.

"I saw him with Bobbi, Nat," Clint called after her. She came back to stare at him. He nodded. She stared at Xander, who nodded quickly. "He's in charge?" Clint demanded, realizing what Xander had said. Xander nodded. "Oh, fuck no! He could be compromised by however they brought him back or whatever!" He hopped up. "We have to find him and test him."

She nodded. "Yes, we shall. Thank you, Xander." He shrugged but smiled. "And for helping Steven find some steadiness in this time period." She walked off again to talk to Steve. She tapped before walking into the small attic space he had fussed up to be his art area. "Clint went drinking because he saw Agent Coulson alive."

He carefully put down his mixing brush and looked at her. "Excuse me?"

She nodded. "Xander verified it."


"I do not know but I know how to find him to ask. I know two agents who have been around him."

"Let's go chat, shall we? Xander knew?"

"Client confidentiality."

"Interesting." He went up to the bedroom area, somewhere he didn't usually go. "Xander? Clint?" he called as he walked. Xander opened the door pulling on a shirt. "He's alive?"

"I saw him, Cap," Clint said. "That's one reason why I went drinking last night."

Steve nodded. "That's a great reason. Especially with all that on the helicarrier." He looked at Xander, who shrugged slightly. "Any idea where?"

"I see one as a client. Sorry."

"Is it Coulson?" Clint asked.

"No." He smiled. "Nice guess though."

"I.... Yeah, we can go looking for him." He walked off with Clint following him. "Stark?" He looked over from staring at the pictures on the walls. Steve stared at one. "What is that?"

Clint looked then shrugged. "Xander said not to ask, it'd give him horrible nightmares that would make him get drunk to have nice, screaming nightmares instead of worse ones."

"Don't remind me," Xander said as he walked behind them. "I don't need those memories today."

Stark spun to stare at him. "Was that a battle?"

"Yes. In Sierra Leon." He stared at him. "It was so screwed up it wasn't funny. Thank you for reminding me." He went into the kitchen. "I'm probably making more coffee. Anyone need a refill?"

Stark was looking up battles in Sierra Leon, shaking his head. "Stark, they covered it up," Clint said quietly. "Just...stop." Stark put his phone away but rolled his eyes. "Thanks." He took his usual cup of coffee, smiling at Xander. "Thanks."

"Welcome. This is what I do. You're not nearly as hard as many of my patients." He gave him a hug. "Do you need the basement or attic to talk to him in?"

"Don't know," he admitted. "We'll see." He sipped his coffee. "The good stuff. Thanks, Xander. Guys?"

"I want to find this reanimated one," Stark said. "Since I heard you talking about it. Just to make sure of him." The others nodded and left. He looked at Harris. "Are you a doctor?"

"No," he snorted, waving a hand. "I didn't want that extra paperwork. I have a masters in Counseling." He grinned. "I only handle people who have problems that I understand a lot. Agents, officers, those sort that have problems from the stress of the job." He smiled. "Though I do have a partially open schedule if you need to talk about stuff."

"No, thanks. I have Pepper for that." He followed the others.

Xander shut the door, going back to the kitchen to make himself some breakfast. Clint and the others would be back later. Clint would need to rant and scream about not knowing his former handler was alive.


Bobbi Morse looked up and around at the noise she had heard. The warehouse was echoing, she had flinched at bird noise earlier. There, she heard it again. Not quite a footstep but maybe a stumble? She looked up at the rafters, frowning when she didn't see anyone. Then she was suddenly woozy, falling down but someone nice caught her before she hit the concrete. She caught a glimpse of red hair. She knew now. Poor people between them. Yup, there were familiar boots walking past her. She moaned. The man in the boots leaned down to kiss her on the temple then walked off. Oh, hell.

Director Phil Coulson looked up at a noise then flinched when he saw who was standing in the doorway. "Natasha." He was carefully moving toward a weapon but trying not to make it obvious. Not that it'd do him much good.

"Agent Coulson."

"Um, director," someone female said from the side.

"Shut up," Clint ordered. "Just...shut up." He stared at her. "Really, Skye. Just...stop."

"Leave her alone, Clint," Coulson ordered, standing up. "Your thing is between us."

"Actually it's between us and my therapist since I thought being possessed by Loki had gotten you dead," he said bluntly. "Someone could have told me that you weren't. I'll be talking with the other source later."

"We just ran into her recently. Bobbi is not to blame."

"She still could've told me." He stared at him. "Do you want to come talk to us quietly or not, Coulson?"

"I'll come chat with the team, yes. Skye, sit," he ordered.

"Hell no!" She stood up, pulling up her new powers.

"Sit down, Mini Willow," Xander said as he walked in. He shot something at her, making her shriek as it went off. "No using your powers that way! That's not on the Light's side." He stared at her. "I'd know since I stopped the last one." She whimpered, backing away from him. "What is it with hackers and powers and believing they're always right?" He looked at Clint. "You set off someone's health sensors." He looked at Coulson then shrugged. He walked off sighing. "He'll never understand the harm he caused, Clint. He's like Fury."

Clint nodded. "Could be." He stared at him. "Come on. Now please." Phil followed. "Any other dogs we should worry about?"

"Melinda's in the field."

"No, she's in the van," Natasha corrected. "Pity she's unconscious." They stopped to pick up Bobbi, Clint carrying her out to the van. Xander took her from him to tuck into the back comfortably. Then he walked off smiling. "Thank you," Natasha called.

"Not a problem. I like my clients. Even her. That's why I have the sensor for her."

Phil stared then at Clint. "Where have I seen his picture?"

"He's one of the survivors of the Council."

"Oh, that's him." He stared then at Clint. "He's your therapist?"

"Yup." He grinned. "He's really good." He pointed. Coulson climbed in. Natasha climbed in to drive, Clint got in to guard them.

They got back to the tower and Steve opened the door. "Guys." He stared in the back then at Clint. "Who're they?"

"The blonde is my ex-wife," Clint said with a grin. "I was gentle with her, so was Natasha."

"I respect Bobbi," she said. "The other we have an...issue with." They walked inside, Clint carrying Bobbi, Natasha and Steve walking Coulson to the lab floor. Clint laid Bobbi on a couch then went down to the labs.

"Must we really scan me?" Coulson asked.

"Yup. It picks up Loki taint and other issues," Stark said as the scanning stopped. "Hmm. Alien DNA?"

"It's part of what saved me," he admitted. "After many weeks of doing things." He sighed. "I did not want him to do what he did to me," he told his former agents. They stared at him. "I begged him to let me go a few times. He wiped my memories."

"Sounds like him," Stark said dryly, staring at him. "Anything else to declare before I let them beat the living shit out of you for not telling them you're alive?"

"I thought they would have heard or found out. Especially with the destruction of the original SHIELD."

Natasha shook her head. "We have been busy with HYDRA."

"So have we," Coulson said mildly. "Melinda's going to be mad when she wakes up."

Clint shrugged. "That gives me an excuse to kill her."

Natasha nodded. "Or be more mean to her if we choose." She sat down, crossing her legs. She looked imperial doing it and Coulson almost shivered at the ice she was putting out. "So, tell us what has been going on, *Director* Coulson."

"You're going to make me suffer, Natasha. We both know that."

She smirked. "Not at this moment. What I hear will set my limits of anger. My disappointment will never get any higher."

He sighed, pulling over a stool to sit down. "It's a long story. Clint, sit down?"

"I'll stand."

"Sure," he agreed. "I wouldn't trust me either." He looked at them then at his idol, who was giving him that Captain Bitch Face look that he gave to dirty agents. Stark was looking pissed off. He saw Pepper up the hall pause then stomp his way, wincing a tiny bit. She stomped in. "They brought me back."

"Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded. "Or them?"

"I couldn't. It was rated above their clearances. I expected them to hear the gossip and find out that way. Then show up to beat me to death," he admitted. He sighed, glancing at his two touchy agents. "I was going to approach you both to rejoin under me," he said quietly. Behind Clint something glass broke. "Clint, don't...." He stood up and walked over to pull him away from the table, sitting him on the stool. "Sit. Just...calm down. It took weeks. I thought you would've heard somehow."

"I didn't," he growled.

"I can see that. I'm sorry for that. I never meant to upset you."

Clint hopped up, staring at him. "I thought I had gotten you killed. That's not going to not upset me."

"He used experimental things on me that were close to torture. I wasn't fully right until about a month ago, Clint. Melinda was to watch me for aberrant behavior." Clint glared. "I thought you two knew."

"Fury kept secrets. It's not like it's a huge shock," Stark said. "Really, I'm not shocked. I wouldn't have been shocked if you had been a clone." Coulson shook his head quickly.

"The cloning program fell to many defeated messes," Natasha admitted. She leaned back, staring at him. "That does not explain why you did not tell us."

"I wasn't allowed."

"And yet, we would have informed you," she said simply. He slumped, leaning against a table. "I do not believe I could hire on with a group I could not trust to keep such things from me. I had my doubts about SHIELD over the years, but this goes well beyond that."

Clint nodded. "Me too. This isn't right, it's not going to be right. I can't trust people who do this."

Coulson winced. "That is not what I meant to happen." He looked at Natasha, then at Clint. "I'm the same handler I was before. I'm stumbling with the directorship." Someone burst in through the door. "No, Melinda." Before he finished, she fell to Pepper hitting her with something. Coulson blinked at her. "Miss Potts?"

She smirked. "Not like I'd tell someone like Nick Fury." She looked at the singed woman. "Should I have her tied up?"

"Dum-E, Butterfingers, tie up the agent lady," Stark ordered. The robots came over to tie her up for their master. "Use the glue stuff." Dum-E got that spray canister and used it all over the downed body. She was thoroughly covered with goo and ropes.

Coulson shook his head, staring at Stark. "She wasn't going to hurt anyone."

Clint snorted. "Yeah, right. We would've taken out the whole room to rescue you."

"Point," he agreed. "Though she doesn't have the temper you do. All this mess has tempered it."

"Yay," Natasha said dryly. Coulson flinched. She arched an eyebrow up then calmed herself down again. "So, tell us how things have been."

He nodded, going over what his team had been doing. When Bobbi wandered in, Natasha pulled out a seat for her and she flopped down to watch this going on. She'd guard him but she wasn't going to take on her ex-husband for him. When Melinda woke up she groaned but couldn't move. The robots had done a good job.


Clint showed up that night at Xander's, nodding at the other client there. "Hey."

"Clint, go start some coffee," Xander said quietly. He nodded, heading for the kitchen. "He's had a bad week."

"I've had those myself. Thank you, Xander."

"You're welcome." He gave him a brief hug and let him out the door. He went into the bathroom to wash his hands then to the kitchen. Clint was making sandwiches as well. Xander hugged him from behind. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"No," he admitted. "I'm not." He looked back at him. "Do you see my ex?"

"I can't talk about other clients."

"Sorry, I know that." He turned, letting Xander cuddle him all he needed. "Did the last guy have sex?"

"Whatever I do with him works for him the same as you work better when you're cuddled." He looked up. "We each have our quirks that help us. Though I don't have sex with my clients. It's against the rules."

"Good point." He gave him a squeeze then turned back around to making sandwiches, handing Xander one. "You probably haven't eaten all day."

"No, not really." They went to the sitting/office area to eat while watching some tv. Clint relaxed next to him, then finally felt like he could spew. "He didn't tell me because he thought I'd hear." He ate a bite of the sandwich he had been staring at.

Xander nodded. "Was he trying to protect you?"

"No. He just thought we'd hear." He ate another bite.

Xander patted him on the arm. "Did it hurt him to see you?"

"Maybe," he admitted. "Natasha's turned back into ice."

"If she needs to come talk, she can do that too. You know I can handle it, even if she can only talk while sparring I can handle it."

"I know. I'll let her know." He leaned on Xander's shoulder, getting comfort. "You cuddle nicely."

"Thank you. It took me time to learn." Clint glanced at him. Xander shrugged. "Not like my family would cuddle. It'd take them away from their beer."

"I know that feeling." Xander smiled. "Seriously?"

"Yeah. They didn't even realize when I started to hunt vampires. Willow did an okay job raising me since they were like zombies who craved liquor instead of brains."

"Eww. I definitely know that feeling." Xander kissed him on the head, making Clint grin. "Bobbi used to do that."

"It's a good thing. I did it to my slayers a lot."

"Do you miss them?"

"Some of them. Some of them...not at all." Clint laughed. "I had good working relationships with a few of the girls. Including a few that started out being snotty bitches until I saved their asses during a battle while nearly dying. That straightened them up real fast. Some of the others still had snotty attitudes about me being a guy who did the same thing they did."

"Huh." Clint nodded. "I can understand that. That'd be like Cap looking down on me for being a normal guy with training."

"A few of mine didn't even want to admit I had training, Clint. They weren't into that."

"Damn. Sorry."

"It's okay. We all have coworkers like that."

"Point." He shifted to get comfortable. "Is Bobbi okay?"

"Ask her."

"Sorry." Xander grinned and yanked on Clint's hair gently. Clint grinned back, going back to the tv and the sandwich. He did need to eat. He slowly relaxed, thinking about Phil Coulson. The Phil that used to handle him in the field. The one he had trusted to watch his back. The guy who had recruited him and taught him to be an agent. Now, all that was gone. The one who had taught Natasha how to trust him, that was all gone. Clint wasn't sure if he was more mad for himself or her. "Is it strange that I'm mad on Nat's behalf?"

"No. You were part of the saga of getting her used to more normal things," Xander said quietly. "That's not weird. You're mad on her behalf as much as you are on yours because you know she can't be mad like that. She can't purge it or let it go in any manner." Clint nodded that was true. "It's okay to grieve for her innocence she worked so hard to get back going away again."

"I hadn't thought about it being innocence."

"Only innocents trust, Clint. People who're very jaded can't trust. It takes some remaining innocence to trust anyone."

"It would," he said after thinking for a second. "I couldn't before Phil recruited me. I didn't know how either."

"Yeah," Xander agreed. "I still don't in many ways." Clint looked up at him. Xander shrugged. "You got to heal, and it's wrong that he ripped that from you. It's wrong on a lot of levels. If you weren't mad, I'd be doing a depression check."

Clint grinned. "Thanks."

"Welcome." He petted him a few more times then let Clint relax. He'd talk when he wanted to. When someone else showed up for help, Xander moved them down the couch to give her his other side. Bobbi sank down next to him, hugging him. Xander used his free hand to pet over her hair. Clint reached over to hold her hand on Xander's lap. She gave his hand a squeeze so it was okay.

"I asked if he saw you," Clint said quietly. "I was hoping you had someone great to complain to about stuff like us."

She gave his hand a squeeze. "I only see him now and then. Not constantly." She looked at him. "You come because of the possession?" He nodded. She smiled. "It's good you have someone to talk to. I expected you to show up on my couch to talk."

"I would've but you were somewhere else," he admitted. Xander gave them both a cuddle. "He's really good at this."

"I can tell. Usually I need to spar." Xander grinned at her. "It's good you get to cuddle though." Clint smirked at her. She grinned back. "Rest. It's going to be a long day making Natasha calm down."

Clint shook his head. "He broke her trust."

She winced. "Damn."



Across town, Steve walked into a sparring gym, picking up a staff weapon to face off against Natasha. She had already broken two practice forms. She stared at him. He waved a hand. She nodded, attacking him. He could handle her. She was still in that cold, clinical place with her fighting. "You know how many problems I had when I first woke up," he said quietly, blocking her blow and attacking back. She nodded once. "What Xander did is showed me that it's not all that much different. I kept saying that everything was so different, so wrong.

"He pointed me at my painting window, we were up there straightening out the attic's former weapons storage area. He told me to name three things that are different than they were when I was younger. Before the war." She frowned slightly, cocking her head some. "His whole street of old brownstones was real familiar. So were the trees. I got to see that underneath all the new things were the same things. The people were the same, just a bit more busy with stuff that took their attention.

"Trees were still trees. Houses were still houses, even if they were painted in ugly colors I hated to stare at or had features that I didn't really understand the need for." She smiled slightly. "I decided I wanted to draw again. He handed me a regular pencil and some copier paper. Told me if I needed something more artsy formal as he put it, to bring it next time." He smiled. "It helped a lot. I know he works with each of his clients in different ways. A few he cuddles. One he punishes because that's what he wants and thinks he needs. He spars with a few of us.

"One showed up after a really bad mission so he went down to spar with them while I painted upstairs. It was nasty sounding. I heard the poor lady scream at one hit but she cried and he comforted her, then got her talking in the kitchen. I accidentally intruded on my way to the bathroom but ran back upstairs. She came up to tell me it was okay." Natasha backed off to stare at him. "People are people underneath it all, Natasha. You're you, no matter that he broke your working relationship. You can talk to us, or you can go to someone like Xander. He's kinda unique in how he sees things."

"What did he do before being a counselor?" she asked, leaning on her staff. "I've only really met him through Clint when he needed something."

"You heard about those Council people?" She grimaced but nodded. "He hunted with one of them, then he ended up training a bunch of the girls after the mass calling. He's been in battles that even he can't talk about. He's seen such horrible things that he can only drink it away. He turned all that experience into being a counselor for those of us who see the same things, even if it's not against demons."

"I can talk to him tomorrow."

He smiled. "I just want you to be okay. I know he's got a good gym in there to beat things up on. He's used to faster, stronger, mouthy women. Not that I think you're mouthy," he said with a grin. "Most of the time."

"Perhaps not in public," she said dryly. She pulled up her staff. He did the same, them getting back into the sparring practice. It was helping. "Do you show your pictures?"

"Sometimes. They're not all good. Some are just blobs that I was getting stuff out of my head with." She nodded. "Some are kinda pretty. I've painted a few of them. They're in my suite if you wanted to come look. He took me to the park and made me draw there once. Those came out prettier." She smiled but nodded. "Even if it's not him, you can talk to me or Bruce or any of us."

"I know. I did not want to inflict this on anyone else's problems."

"We all have things going on in our pointy heads as Xander told me." He grinned, ducking a blow at his head and trying to trip her with his own staff. "Even if it's so different it won't hurt us to talk about stuff. My friend in DC, Sam, he does that for the VA if you want his number instead."

"I have it," she reminded him. He grinned. "I will consider it."

"That's all I'm asking, or you can come rant at me if you want."

"I may do that as well some day." He nodded. She attacked again so he defended, letting her work it out in her own way.


Xander opened up the door, holding a finger to his lips. "Clint's asleep on the couch in the office," he said quietly, pointing toward it. "Come to the back gym with me. It's soundproofed." She nodded, going with him. He tossed her some boxing gloves and put on some hand boxing pads to catch blows. He waved her on with one. "Let's talk."

"How did you know I came for that?" she asked, watching his stance. "I would knock you over."

He grinned. "Natasha, I'm very good at what I used to do, which is training the slayers. There's nothing you can do that I haven't seen one doing, helped correct, and taught her better. I'm used to multiple times stronger young women trying to take out pouty moods on me because I broke up their dates with the guys who wanted to eat them."

She snorted. "I read up on the slayers last night." She moved closer to punch at the pads. He swatted her with one when she was pretending to be weak so she let herself actually work against him. He could handle her, which was good. She only managed to bruise him once with a blow to his upper arm with her foot while he was deflected her punch. He only grinned and kicked back, making her dance out of the way. It was good. She was sweaty by the end of the sparring session. She was slightly out of breath. He dropped the pads, going to the small fridge in the corner to get them both some chilled water.

"Usually I ask if you want to talk," he said, staring at her. "But you're more fascinating than a slayer or a regular agent. You're a woman who uses others but doesn't let them use her back. You're a strong woman, who really could use a day of softness now and then." She stared at him. He grinned. "So tell me something that I haven't read out of your files or your body language."

"I used to dance."

Xander smiled. "That explains the grace when you kick. Ballet or something else?"


He nodded. "It did you good. It's an unexpected method that added into your fight training. The same as Buffy used a lot of cheerleading moves that freaked out vampires repeatedly. Especially since she was usually in a skirt and go-go boots."

"She did?"

He walked her to the tv room/office, turning on a battle he had on file as an example. "That's Buffy. The dyed blonde bitchy one in front." He grinned at her. "You can see how the cheerleading helped her style."

She stared. "I would not be in that outfit. I've had to fight in skirts but not that kind. Usually I also had on tights."

Xander grinned. "She dated two different vampires too."

"She was seriously weird," Clint said. "Who's the brunette?" Xander pointed. He shook his head. "The other one."

Xander looked then at him. "That's Kennedy, Willow's former girlfriend. It took me saving her ass and nearly dying doing it for her to respect me." He grinned. "She was born a princess. Her daddy talked the old Council into letting him have her trained privately so the family money wasn't wasted." Clint rolled his eyes and shook his head. Bobbi just snorted.

Natasha watched. "Were the ones in the back trained by you?"

He pointed at them. "I trained these. They got called up for that battle. Those two I only had six months with. The slayer spirit gave them a download of fighting styles and weapons they had to learn how to use."

Natasha shook her head. "Wow."

"Basically. The slayer spirit held a kernel of each and every slayer that came before them. Including Buffy, who used to think I was normal."

"Not likely," Bobbi said dryly. She got up with a stretch. "Let me make coffee." Clint grinned at her. "I know you're a caffeine whore, Clint." She strolled off.

Xander let Natasha have the remote. "That whole folder has slayer apocalypse battles. Including a few that their countries wanted to have covered up. Watch what you want. Come find me when you want to talk." He walked off.

Natasha got into another one, staring at it. It was Buffy and two other girls fighting a larger demon with horns. "She really did wear go-go boots."

Clint laughed. "Yeah, she did. He has a few pictures of them in those sort of outfits. She could've used someone like you to mentor her."

"Yes, she could have," Natasha agreed. "Or even Bobbi. She can dress nicely when she feels like it."

"Thanks," she called from the kitchen. "Who is it?" she yelled, heading for the front door. "Xander, did you order in the guy with the guns?" she called.

Xander came out to look at him. "Hi, Paul." He kissed him, frisking him at the same time. "Thanks, I needed a new toy." He grinned. "Did you need to talk too?"

The guy stared at him. "There's a demon problem."

"No there's not. That's why Willow did the spell."

"There's one that showed up."

"The spell means that he'll be sucked there."

"It's been two days and he's laughing he won't be."

"Well, shit. Let me change clothes." He walked off with the weapons, taking some coffee with him to change clothes. He came down the stairs fixing the magical bag full of weapons as he walked. He grabbed his jacket. "Guys, I'll be back later. Watch the house if you're staying. Don't eat all my donuts or replace them please. I know they're a day old." He walked out with Paul, being whisked away to the demon problem.


Stark watched the news that night. "I thought they were all gone."

"He has a protection," Steve said, watching Xander cancel it out. Then he blew up the demon with artillery. "Wow. I didn't know he still had those."

"Still?" Stark asked, turning to stare at him. "Still?"

"According to his file, he used to get the girls things for battles." He bit his lip then nodded. "Wow. Hold on. Can we zoom in?" Stark nodded, putting it in replay mode to do that. "Lower left quadrant, about two squares up." Stark zipped in. "Right about three people." He stared. "Bucky." He stood up, getting closer. "It's him. He was there. That's in DC?"

"Yeah, it was in DC," Stark said quietly. "Call Xander. Maybe he spotted him?"

Steve called. "Xander, Bucky was there!" He listened. "He is? Oh, thank you, God.... He still doesn't have all his memories? Damn it!" He paced while he listened. "Please? Thank you, Xander. Yeah, I can do that. Thanks." He hung up. "Bucky asked him something so he picked him up." He took a deep breath, like Stark was prompting him to do. "Xander has him, he's bringing him back up here to help him. Sam's with him." He took another deep breath. "He'll be okay with Xander. Xander can help him."

"Good. Sit down, Capsicle," he said, helping him into a chair. "Clint's there at his house. Warn him?" Steve called to tell him that. Stark got Steve a drink to calm down with. This was going to be an emotional wrench. The others could cushion Steve while this was going on.


Steve walked into Xander's house the next morning, heading upstairs. Xander looked up from helping Bucky's hair get brushed. "Xander?"

"He's okay, Steve, but he insisted on the handcuffs. He thinks he's dangerous." Xander rolled his eyes. "The demon last night was more dangerous and he was a pussy but James doesn't understand that yet."

Steve nodded. "Demons can be very dangerous but I'm sure Bucky isn't always dangerous when he doesn't want to be."

"James," Bucky ordered quietly. "I'm not him, Steve."

"Okay, James," he agreed, kneeling next to the bed. "I'm not the same Steve I used to be. The war and all that changed me. All that you went through changed you. Sam helped me figure that out." He gave him a tentative hug, getting one back. "Xander's great. He helped me when I felt like everything was wrong and stupid. I'll help wherever you want me to." He stared at him. "Okay?" James nodded. "Okay. I'm going to check on Clint so I'm not turning into a crying girl." He got up and walked off, blowing his nose once he was downstairs.

Xander smiled at him. "See? I told you so." He finished up with the hair. "Want me to pull it back for you?"

"Please." He let Xander pull his hair back. He sighed, looking at his hands. "I could still snap back and hurt you or someone else."

Xander nodded, taking him down to the tv room. He got into a file the trio of agents hadn't, letting him see that file. "That was my favorite weapon ever," he said, staring at James. "It was my baby. The one I liked above all else. It took it dying during this battle to make me realize I was going to end up the same way." Bucky sat down, watching Xander and two younger slayers fight with swords against something that looked like a giant, jiggly column of jell-o that blew acid from some sort of orifice. "It's going to be eewy soon," he apologized, walking off. He still hated watching his baby die that way.

Bucky stared then slumped. "He's kind of insane," he decided.

"Like the rest of us, he did what he had to do," Sam said, sitting next to him. "We all do what we gotta do, James. Even you. Now you get to decide it for yourself."

"Thank you," he said, not looking at him.

"Not a problem. Xander's got a touch with tough guys who've had problems like bad missions and things." He patted him on the arm, getting stared at. "You're more damaged than most but you can heal. If all the others around here can heal, you can."

"I still don't remember all I need to heal from."

"We can work on that too, plus teach you how to deal with it when they pop up suddenly. There's ways of dealing with things so they don't overwhelm you when they pop up."

Xander came back in, handing them both coffee. He stared at Bucky. "There's also meditations that can help you open up memories that have been repressed. There's ways to help you guard your mind so that even if they come back, you can hide things until you choose to pull them up." He grinned. "There's also ones to keep you from turning into a mindless zombie even if someone's using mind control spells on you. I use all of them myself." James nodded once, taking his coffee to carefully sip.

Xander leaned down to stare at him. "Do you really think I'd drug you or poison you?" he asked dryly. "I don't want to see the Captain America bitch face again. I'm pretty sure doing that to you would get it given to me forever and ever." James burst out laughing. "Relax. I'm not the mean Xander today. You're not a danger to humanity as a whole. You're not an evil demon with ideas or plans. So just...let it go to quote the movie." He walked off again.

James relaxed, sighing as he watched the battle be replayed. "How do I turn that off?" Sam did it for him. "Thank you. That was weird."

"Very," Sam agreed. "He's just like that. Then he got abandoned when she did that spell. He's made himself into a great guy, but a bit weird in some of his methods." James looked at him. "It's said that some of his clients only talk when they're sparring or cuddling."

"To each their own," Xander said as he walked past the doorway. "Some guys aren't helped by just talking or can't talk. It's the macho bullshit we feed ourselves." He leaned in. "You can't get a guy like me to *talk*. We're not like that."

"I've been in plenty of battles," Sam said, glaring at him.

Xander leaned down to look at him. "I doubt you get much out of talking either." He stood back up. "Beyond that, I'm not that sort of boy and battles like I'm in are a lot different, Sam."

"It's the same thing, only I used guns."

Xander snorted. "Dude, there's a huge difference in shooting a target a few hundred feet away and stabbing someone in the heart. Especially with a sword or a stake. I can show you the last few vampires on this plane if you want to test that."

"No thank you," Sam said dryly. "It's still the same war."

"Sam, dear, guys like me aren't in a *war*. Most of the guys I see aren't in *wars*. They're on missions, they're in battles, sometimes for their lives. They're not in a long term, you're backed up by the military war. There's been a few battles where I saved whole countries with less than ten people. Got injured a lot doing it, but we had to do it. If you guys in a war lose a battle, it's bad. It could be critical. If I lost a battle, the world would've went to hell in a flaming pile of demon goo. With most of humanity being food, or possibly slaves. Bit of a difference. Okay?" he asked with a grin. "Missions are a lot like that when you're guys like Clint or Steve."

James nodded. "They could've been but we were in a war then."

"Now, he's going on missions like the other agents," Xander said, smiling at him. "Doing just as stupid of shit. Speaking of, I have got to go yell at him for jumping out of a plane without a parachute." He looked up as somewhere upstairs a door shut. "That won't save you," he called. "You bragged once that your mom had a lot of common sense. I don't know when you lost it." He went to find Steve to talk to him about that incident.

James gaped then pointed. "Steve did what?" he demanded.

"It was a drop into water."

"Yay! He used to have sense!"

Sam smiled. "I'm pretty sure it dissolved in the ice."

"Not really. He used to do that now and then," James sighed. He relaxed again. "Xander's kind of weird."

"He's kinda uptight," Clint said as he walked past the doorway. "We're going out for pizza. Want us to bring you two back some?"

"No thanks," Sam said. "James?"

"I'm good," he said quietly. He watched the trio walk past the doorway. "I know the redhead."

She came back to the doorway, staring at him. "You may," she said. "But I don't remember exactly how. We will both figure that out. Beyond the time that you shot me."

He nodded. "I remember that one." She arched an eyebrow up. "I needed that one. You were in the way."

She smiled. "Yes, I was. That was my job." She walked off. Clint grinned at her. "I feel like I should trust that one."

"James had that gift a lot with the dames," Steve said. "Real often in the old days before the Army."

They paused when someone stopped in the middle of the sidewalk staring at them. "It's fine, Skye," Clint said dryly. "We've been helping Xander with someone who just came to talk to him."

"Who did he compare me to?" she demanded.

"Rosenburg," Natasha said. "We can look up her dossier for you. I believe he's worried about your lack of attention to your skills." Skye huffed but followed them so Natasha could educate her. Bobbi was still back at the brownstone guarding Xander. Skye read over Willow's file, getting a bit sniffly toward the middle. The spies ignored it. Steve patted her on the arm. He was like that with crying girls.


James watched the goings on with some amusement. Sam was creeped out by Xander. Xander was amused at Sam. James was amused with all of them. Steve was not hovering. He was popping in at random intervals to go paint upstairs. Without seeming to come check on him. Xander was amused at that too. The cute blonde agent was sparring with Xander now and then to have some time to talk to him alone. James agreed with that method, even if he didn't really understand her stick fighting approach. It looked too complicated to him. She seemed good at it though. Very tough.

The one hovering was Clint but he had his own problems to work through. Xander helped him a lot. He didn't seem to care about James ghosting around the house but he knew both agents and Steve kept track of his location by rote. Even if they weren't consciously tracking him they knew where he was. Xander was still pleased how things were working out. He stayed pleased until one agent showed up looking like he was a frozen block of ice. Then Xander quit sparring with Bobbi to go hug the guy. He got shoved off so Xander took him down to the bar in the basement to talk to him in private. They stayed down there all night and half of the next day but the guy left looking much more relaxed.

Sam didn't look all that pleased with whatever had happened but they did use different methods. Sam cornered Xander in his office while he was making notes. "Xander, did you sleep with your client?" Sam demanded quietly.

Xander didn't look up. "He's not that emotionally stunted, Sam." He glanced up. "I have a few who are. I have one that trained himself to only confess if he was getting off. I've moved him back to the point where he can masturbate to do that instead of needing someone else to help him." Sam gaped. "Sam, agents are trained differently than soldiers. We're all alone most of the time and we have to make calls that make guys like you uncomfortable. If you must know, his last assignment led to him having to get an orphanage out of the way of some assholes with uzis who weren't even part of his job, he just caught it going on.

"He risked his whole mission to bring down people sellers to save the kids, and managed to save most of them." Sam shuddered. "But he lost the people sellers for about three days and most of their hostages were dead when he found them again. Shit like that, you need to be held for." Sam nodded. "Like I said yesterday, guys like agents are different than soldiers. We deal with a lot of different shit that you've never had to see. I hope like hell you never have to see that sort of problem."

"Have you?" Sam asked.

"Yeah. I had to rescue a few people from one in Africa. Messiest shit ever by the time I got done and I pulled in some help from the peaceful demon communities near there. We still lost two people but the other thirty are safer now. I'm hoping that's still true about the two slayers I had to rescue who were tiny. They're young teens now."

Sam shuddered. "I can't even imagine working with tiny girls to make sure they could fight."

"I didn't. I made sure they could survive. Things came for slayers, Sam. They're always going to come for slayers. They came for the baby slayers because they were easier to kill. Also useful in some sacrificial rites." Sam shuddered harder. "It's realistic. Those of us who did this job, we're all realistic. Even if we'd love to be fanciful and think that some knight on a horse will ride up to save the girls, it won't happen. I'm as close to that ideal as the girls came and I'm not exactly a pure white knight. With the way I took down some people when necessary, I'm not that clean."

"What about what Natasha went through?"

"The original Council used to do the same sort of thing with the young slayers. They were tools to be trained to last as long as they could, then they'd be a report. That's why we hated them and not too many of us mourned them being blown the fuck up by the Bringers. In fact, a few of us cheered." He grinned. "It meant the girls were free. I couldn't do anything to help them when I was twenty-one, but then things changed and we made sure all that got changed. It stopped ages of bad things and ideas. We made sure it'd never happen again."

"What about over there?"

"We have no idea where the spell took them all. I'm sure they're on their own new Planet Cranky Bitch. They're handling it as it happens I'm sure. We can't even scry where they are to find out. I did years of mourning and anger about that spell. All the pre-certification therapy to make sure we're right in the head was to solve that anger. Which is why when Willow showed back up to do a sacrifice to stop something, I managed her problems and sent her home. Before she took out me and others."

"Crap," Sam muttered. "I had no idea."

"Which is the way guys like me want it, Sam. That way guys like you still have some idealistic innocence of how bad the world can be. Because guys like you can't do your jobs if you're worrying about the boogy man under your bed being real instead of a bad guy who's simply hiding to take you out."

"I guess I can understand that. Still, you're awfully touchy with them."

"Guys like me live without any sort of human contact for months on end, Sam. Sometimes a cuddle is the only healing thing there is. Sometimes that works, sometimes a sparring works, sometimes it's easier if I hire them a hooker then we talk." He shrugged. "I do what's best for the clients I have. The same as you do."

"Point. Thank you for helping Steve. He's stubborn."

"He needed an anchor. I helped him find one. Plus taught him how to email and stuff."

"Wow," Sam said. "Thanks." He walked off, thinking about that. Xander wasn't the sort of guy he was used to helping. His soldiers weren't as damaged as Xander was. Or as damaged as James was since he was in the kitchen trying not to lurk. "James, need something?"

"Just food."

Xander came out and pushed James over to a cabinet, opening it and pointing. "Food. Food is not coffee. You need solid things, not just liquid. Unless you're trying to get a girlish figure and fit into a corset dress for the spring dance?" he asked with a grin.

"Not likely," James said. He pulled down the peanut butter jar and Xander handed over the bagels. He got a look like that was heresy so handed over the bread. James nodded, making himself some toast in the oven. "Thanks."

"Welcome. There's real food in the freezers too, James," he said quietly. "Eat something. Don't make me nag. I'll have flashbacks to slayers who wanted to be fashionably thin while still needing over seven thousand calories a day." He gave him a pointed look. "None of us want me to get back there. I might not come out this time. Then I'd have to nag others. I can't imagine some of my clients liking that." He walked off after getting more coffee.

James shook his head but he was smiling. He understood guys like Xander. He reminded him of a few friends they used to have during the war. Sam got some toast of his own then James took his to the computer room so he could go back to updating himself on current events.


Xander came out when he heard the huffing noise from his front hall. "Hey, Pieter." He stared at him. "Huge problems?"

"Major. My bosses are idiots."

Xander nodded. "Yes they were. Though I heard someone handled that for you." He grinned. "C'mon, we can go down to the lab area."

"The lab?"

"I have two others here right now hanging out for their own mental stability. Steve's here and one other."

"I don't need to run into Captain America," he muttered in Russian. Xander led him off to talk to him. He caught sight of the other guy's back but didn't recognize him. That was probably a good thing with how his bosses were paranoid about things like him coming to see Xander.


At two that morning, Xander got up to hit the security system then sighed as he headed to his armory off his bedroom. He ran into James in the hallway pacing. "Relax. They can't get in here. They're probably not HYDRA, just bad Russian agents. They're not going to be happy when they run into my security system or me." He grinned. "I'm not all that nice when you wake me up with a vision of me being attacked." He walked into the armory and came out with something that looked like a machine gun on steroids. James whimpered, staring at it like it was a new toy. Xander grinned.

"I'm not nice about it. Never have been. If you need something, you can grab it, but clean it before you put it back please." He went down to wait by the front door. Two agents tried to sneak in and got fried by the security system. Xander reset the system with a sigh. That led to a strike team trying. Local PD's SWAT team showed up to stop them. They got shot at and had to back off. Xander stepped out onto the front porch and opened fire on the bad guys' van. The van blew up at the second hit. "Bitches, I have visions still," he called in Russian. "You're that stupid that you planned this in advance?"

One of the officers waved a hand. "Thank you, Mr. Harris!"

Xander grinned and waved back. "They're bad agents. They're mad that I'm one of their people's therapist's." He grinned at the bad guys. "Fucking morons," he said. "Do you think you're worse than a demon apocalypse?" One stared at him, eyes wide. Xander smiled and waved again. "Yes, it's me. Hi. Welcome to my street." They fled, running into the waiting officers. "You guys have fun with 'em. I sure as hell will if they come back." He went inside, going to clean his gun and put it up. James was staring in awe at him. Xander grinned. "It's nothing next to a demon apocalypse. Though one of the neighbors will be showing up to stomp and complain first thing in the morning if you'd like to sleep in." He went back to bed, falling asleep fairly easily.

James put his guns back and went back to his own room to think about that. Xander was fairly horrifying with some things. Not even Steve was that crazy.


Xander looked at the people showing up the next morning. He was on the front stoop drinking coffee to spare James the screaming neighbor fit. She had shown up but wasn't happy with things when he had just shrugged and said better them than his house and hers when the fire probably spread. Now there were agents. Xander sipped his coffee, staring at the one he had dealt with before. "Hi. You again?"

"Yes, Mr. Harris, me again," the agent from the State Department said. "What happened?"

"They got mad I was a therapist for one of their agents. They've been getting freaky about him needing therapy for weeks now. His higher ups are smoking the funky drugs again." He finished his coffee. "I had a vision, put on the security system. Then I came out to prove to them they're idiots. The locals nicely handled them after I made a few scream and run for their girly lives."

"Why did you not let the locals handle it?" the other agent asked.

Xander looked at that one then at the other one. "You didn't tell him a thing, did you?"

"Actually, I've read your file," the other agent said dryly.

Xander smiled. "Really? Which one?" The agent blinked a few times. "There's a partially right in one agency and a really wrong one that got passed around to the rest. The wrong one says I have a heroic issue in case you're wondering which it was."

"We believe that's right."

"Which is why you're an idiot just like those Russians were," Xander said with a smile. "Because you have no idea what you just stepped up to." He stood up, looking at the other agent. "Bitch if you want, Agent Dude, but I don't care. They came here, they got what they deserved. If their bosses bitch, I'm going to have their demon communities come out of the closet with their soul buying. Just because she took all the big plans doesn't mean it stopped the ones who are gathering power. That's not considered evil."

The agent winced. "I had forgotten about that."

Xander grinned. "So have they. Maybe now they remember. It'd be nice if they did." He walked inside, closing the door gently behind him with a kick. "The agents are leaving," he called.

"Thank you," Steve called. "I could've helped last night."

"You needed your beauty sleep. You're falling down on it. It's my house so my duty to defend it." He went back to the kitchen to bake. "I'm making native Guinean bread."

"Thank you," James called.


Steve came down to answer the impolite knocking on the door, staring at the agent. "Yes? Are you one of Xander's therapy clients?"

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"Steve Rogers. Captain Steve Rogers."

The man blinked a few times then stepped back, falling down the stairs. "Captain?" he asked.

"Yup, it's me. Xander helped me adjust a lot when I woke up." He grinned and shut the door in his face, heading to the kitchen to make some coffee. "Thanks, Xander. Next time, let me help." He walked off. "I'm staying here at the moment so that gives me protection rights."

"Fine," he sighed. "Not that I didn't handle it well enough."

"He never gets to play with the big guns," James joked.

"Yes I do," Steve complained.

"Have you seen in his armory?"

"Most of that is hidden from most everyone, James. You've got stuff on you that let you see through that protection," Xander called.

Both soldiers turned to look toward the kitchen. "Does that mean those were going to go to the slayers?" Steve asked casually.

Xander leaned out. "No, I spent almost a year playing kitten poker like a mad bitch so I could go find them and bring them home. I didn't find out until later that Willow had done all that. Now and then I keep my hand in so I hear interesting gossip, like that guy's bosses are smoking the funny drugs to get out of their soul contracts." He went back to mixing the bread dough.

Steve and James shared a look then went up to the armory. James could see the fake wall into the other armory. Steve couldn't. James found out how to open it and let Steve see in there. Xander came jogging up and closed it then walked off turning off something on his phone. A few minutes later someone was knocking on the door.

"Sorry, I was going to check the inventory and clean it." He grinned. "You know you're not supposed to have me hacked, right?"

The agent standing there stared at him. "I don't care what you think, Harris. We still think you're a bad influence on the US."

"You say the sweetest things," he cooed then slammed the door in his face. "Just for that, I'm going to start winning nuclear weapons next." He walked off, going back to his bread dough. "Guys, they have me bugged for that stuff. I can't find the bug or I would've taken it out already. Anytime any gun gets moved from the armory or those doors open it sets it off. That's why the locals showed up last night to help."

"Doors?" Steve called.

"What nuclear weapons?" James demanded. "There's none on the black market right now."

Xander burst out laughing. "Wow, they only told you about the human underground, didn't they?" He walked up there. "You know there's tons of demon realms that have wars, right?" They both stared. He smiled. "Plenty of off-realm arms dealers to help the rebellions or whatever fight them too."

"They have nukes?" James demanded.

Xander nodded. "They have a few types the last I knew. I don't particularly care about the wars going off-realm because I figure most of them have a good reason. If not, I'll be told and I'll help them stop those."

Steve stared. "Wow. I didn't even think about those. I guess it'd be a major reason for immigration."

Xander nodded. "It can be."

"Is there something we can help with?" Steve asked.

"Nope." He grinned as he walked off.

"Stark would want to know if any of his were there," Steve said, following him.

"Yeah, he'd probably be really mad that some not nice arms dealer found the stuff that didn't get blown up when he left his capture over there. Then that one got it stolen by the off-realm ones."

"Do we know which arms dealer stole it from the wrecks?" Steve asked.

"Yeah. He's on my shit list and if I dealt with assholes I would've already handled him. I got told that's not my job. You might ask Natasha who's dealing with that idiot. I called Clint to tell him. He said that was her sort of job."

"I can do that," Steve said, walking off texting her. She called back to tell him it was a problem case and Fury hadn't wanted her to get involved. So she had worked with the agents against him. He asked if that was still going on. She admitted it was and they had no idea how. Those agents weren't talking to her any longer. He promised he'd help if she pulled up things to do the mission with. She said she was doing it then and would meet him for lunch. He left with a nod for James.

James walked into the kitchen. "He took the hint."

Xander smiled. "Better him than one of my clients that's been trying to clear his name for years. I had to stop them by proving how bad it was going to be. I had to have them kidnaped by a poker contact too. They didn't like his drooling on them but yay." He smiled. "Eat something."

"I'm fine."

"You've lost ten pounds in the last three days. Your metabolism is obviously very high. It's probably on par with Steve's or a slayer's. He eats constantly. The girls nibbled constantly. You need to at least eat regular meals and you've been forgetting most days." He pointed at the fridge. "Make yourself something carb-y and high protein please."

"Fine. Nag."

"Yup, I'm damn good at it too. I warned you not to put me back into the nagging mindset." He smiled and blew a kiss.

"Not sure if I was ever into guys or not," he quipped back.

"If you find out, we can talk about it when you want to."

"Thanks." He made himself some fried egg sandwiches and went back up to the armory to find that bug in the system.

"It's probably magical," he called.

"I'll see if I can find a wrong spot then."

Xander grinned, pulling the dough over to do the first punching down.


Stark looked at the files Natasha was pulling up in his lab. She had walked in and started to pull up information. "Is this an all team event?" he asked dryly.

She smirked at him. "This is the one that stole the things you couldn't blow up when you got yourself free. They've since went to an off-world dealer for something probably necessary." Stark lost his good mood right then and there. "Unfortunately this human has caused other problems." She pointed at those files for him. "Including things we may need you to disarm for us. I know a few agents had been looking into it but are not now thanks to how SHIELD had to go down."

"Great," he muttered, moving closer to read over the information. "Six military teams he's turned?"

"Not exactly. At least one was not turned or killed in action. They're trying to clear their names." Steve strolled in. "This is all that we have on that interesting topic he mentioned."

Steve stood, arms crossed over his chest while he read. "What's a sonic version of a nuclear bomb?"

"Totally green, very bad news, and the test sank a whole island," Stark said. "I saw the tape of the testing. Horribly bad news."

Natasha smiled. "He nearly set one off in LA's harbor area. That last team he tried stopped him. Now they're on the run to clear their names and fix things."

"How very A-Team of them," Stark quipped. "Are they good?"

"They're good enough," she said. "They will probably barely manage it but not with everyone alive."

Stark nodded, looking at that information again. "Can we stop him since we're not covered by any agency?"

"SHIELD's redone group could stop it," Steve said. "They're busy with HYDRA."

"True," Stark said. "Can we work on it?" he asked Natasha. "I hate talking to agents who interrupt my work and train of thought. Coulson used to do a lot of that."

"It was necessary to make you do anything but pout or create," Natasha said dryly. "You were much worse in those days."

He grinned. "You say the sweetest things." He blew a kiss. "Where do we start?"

"We make contact with that team, see if we know anything they don't. Including where he's been for the last six days." She looked them up. They made a bit of a stir when they moved. She ran into their tech ops guy, sending him information. He asked who she was. She told him and he said he adored watching her in battles but this was dirtier than she was used to. She corrected that assumption and gave him information he didn't have yet. He thanked her for it and said they'd be going after him again later. She pointed him at their travel plans. He thanked her again then logged off the internet. "They're moving in on him."

"Thanks," Steve said quietly.

"Did he have my stuff?" Stark asked.

"It all went off-world according to Xander," Steve said.

Stark just nodded. "Great. As long as they don't hate me for it too or use it for a bad reason."

"Xander said as far as he knows most of those have good reasons. If he finds out one wasn't then he'd make sure that one didn't get any more weapons."

"Good," Stark agreed. "How many does he have?"

"Some agents have his armory spiked somehow so they know when he opens it."

"Pity," Stark said. "How much?"

"A lot," Steve admitted. "But it's safer in his hands." Stark looked at him. "He has had to use it."

"Uh-huh. Do agents mind that?"

"They would if they had to deal with the last few demon problems on this realm," Natasha said. "They tend to ignore him but watch him for bad ideas because of that service."

"Hmm," Stark said, nodding. "Might be a great idea. But we can go into that one later. Let's go help that team. I'm offended that idiot thought he could steal my stuff." They walked out together.


Steve looked up as his motel room was invaded by two minions. "Do I know you, gentlemen?" They had gotten Max arrested but handed him over to that military unit instead of agents. It had seemed just to the three of them. Now they were on their way back to New York.

"Let's go, Corporal," one of the minions sneered.

"I think you have me confused, gentlemen. I'm a Captain." He pointed at his shield. They sneered but captured him. He saw Natasha notice and tell Stark to follow. He'd find this out. Who had they confused him with? They brought him to the main minion, who was glaring at him. "Your minions had me confused with someone."

"Shut up, Jensen."

Steve smirked. "I'm not Jake Jensen. I'm Steve Rogers."

"Sure you are." He took a swing and Steve moved to beat him and the minions. The head minion groaned.

Steve smiled. "As I said, I'm Steve Rogers. I haven't even seen Corporal Jensen's intake file." He looked back at Natasha since she was coming in to help him. "Do I look like that tech ops guy?"

"Nearly identical. Made me think maybe you had been made into a clone, Captain," Stark quipped. He pointed. "Corporal?"

He walked in. "Hey. Mr. Stark, my grandmother flirted with your dad once but we're not clones. It's coincidence. I had a lot of people ask that and the Army took blood to make sure." He grinned and waved at Steve. "They're sorry they're so stupid."

"Yes, they are," he agreed with a grin back. They shook hands. "Can we help you guys more?"

"We have to get the Army to admit they were wrong," Jake said. "Which may take a bit."

Stark pulled out his phone to call someone. "Rhodey, me. Come see me right the fuck now. No, I found someone who stole the remains of those weapons from Afghanistan but he got it stolen from him. Better known as sonic nuke guy's minions." He hung up but left his phone on so he could be traced. Jake blinked at him. "I don't put up with diplomatic or bureaucratic bullshit, Jensen. It makes me sleepy and I have too much to do to deal with that shit. Even Pepper doesn't put up with it." He walked over to search the first minion. That one tried to grab him so he punched him. "Don't try. I'll ask Hawkeye to come work some of his anger off with you guys." The guy moaned but fell backwards onto the floor.

"It works for us too," Jake said. They heard the whine of some sort of jet landing, looking out there. "Is that one the other guy in the shiny metal suit, Mr. Stark?"

"Yup, sure is." He grinned. "Colonel," he said when he walked in. "These are minions of the bad guy who stole from the bad guys who had me."

Rhodey put up his visor, staring at the mess then at the new guy. "Who're you?"

"Corporal Jake Jensen. The bad minions there's boss had my team screwed over and named treasonists for fun. We've been fighting back to clear our names."

"Great. The main bad guy?"

Jake smiled. "In a closet. We're all real mad at him right now."

"Even better." He called that in. "The closest Army guy is about an hour away." He looked at Steve, who grinned. "How did you get involved, Captain?"

"Well, tonight the minions thought I was the Corporal there. They didn't believe me even when I pointed at my shield."

"Great, stupid minions," he complained. "At least Stark hires better ones."

"Hey," he said with a grin. "I don't have minions anymore. Pepper has minions now."

"Uh-huh." Jeeps pulled up outside. "They a problem?"

"Yes," Natasha said, heading out to handle it. "Sorry, this is Avengers business, boys." They stared at her. "We're waiting on someone higher up in the Army, which you are not, but this has nothing to do with you."

"Ma'am, we heard there was a problem military unit here."

She raised an eyebrow. "The only one inside that has Army service is Captain Rogers." The driver shuddered. "I don't believe we need your help." Another jeep pulled up and the guys started to shoot so she shot them back. "See?" She smiled slightly. The marines backed up but nodded they'd stay there to guard them. When the general got there, she led him inside. "Boys, one Army general?"

"Hey," Stark said. "It's sad that your people let someone like Max do that to six different teams. Including this one," he said with a point where Steve and Jensen were talking.

The general looked at him then at the two, sneering. "You," he said.

"No, I'm still Captain Rogers," Steve said dryly. "We found out within minutes they weren't responsible. How bad is Army's intelligence network now, General?"

The man's eyes bulged while he backed up. "Rogers?" he demanded.

"Yeah. Apparently the corporal and I look a lot alike. The minions got us confused," he said dryly. "That was after we helped them take down Max."

The general spluttered. "He's not real!" he finally spit out.

Jake shook his head. "We've got him in a closet so we could hand him over," he said dryly. "I'm pretty sure he's real. As Clay said, there's a voice so there's a throat." He smiled. "We've already called the ones we need to hand him over to so we can clear our names, General Mitch. Thanks though. You can handle the minions if you want."

"I don't believe that'll work," the general said, pulling a gun. "There's a warrant out for your arrest." He got knocked out by Stark.

"They always forget the geek," Stark said. Then he grinned. "Are they coming here as well, Jensen?"

"Yup. The team'll be here in ten minutes." Natasha went to help them inside. Aisha was really pissed that Natasha was still around. No one was sure why but she was seriously pissed at Natasha. Clay wasn't even flirting with her. Jensen looked at his team leader. "Hey, Clay, why aren't you flirting with Agent Romanoff?"

"I like mine volatile, not deadly," he shot back with a glare. "Shut up, Jensen."

He grinned at Natasha. "I think that's a compliment. Most of his are slightly crazy."

She nodded. "I saw that in his dossier. I'm not his type. I have sanity." Clay snorted but smirked at her. Aisha was still glaring. Natasha looked at her. "You should be thankful no one has arrested you for your father's deeds," she said in Spanish. "Presently we are overlooking all that." She walked off with Max, Clay helping her. "Here, Stark."

"Hey," he said. He stared at him.

"It's sad that you ruined yourself by no longer making weapons," Max sneered. Rhodey got out of the way. Stark hit Max, making him scream when the armored glove broke his jaw, nose, and cheek.

"I don't think I ruined anything," Stark said.

Jake looked up from his tablet. "I think this general may be in Max's pay. Either that or he really wants the price on our heads. He's looking at a few lawsuits over a DUI and a few other problems." He went back to his searching. Their contact finally got there. Jake waved. "Hey. The minions got me and Captain Rogers mixed up."

"It really was rude of them," Steve agreed since the guy was staring so hard. He looked at Jensen. "Now what?"

"Now...we fight for our retirements instead. We fight if they want to charge us with something from an old mission or this one. Then hopefully we go home to our families for those of us who have them. Clay and Cougs can hang out with us though."

Steve smiled. "That's a good plan. I hope they don't try but I know the army can be vindictive these days. Especially to try to cover up something. All branches can be." Rhodey nodded. So did Stark.

The agent called in that they had Max, and a few minions. That the team had managed it with some help, plus they had a general here who had tried to interfere. People showed up to gather them and the team. Steve nodded at them.

"Let us know if you need more help, guys," Natasha said with a nod for the agents. "We had been working on Max's problem but the fall of SHIELD broke that investigation."

The agent in charge nodded. "I heard, Agent Romanoff. Thank you for helping us. Do you happen to know anything about that Council guy we have left?"

"Yes, he's a good therapist."

"Ah. We weren't aware he had done that. We've lost track of him and a few are worried he'll start being a problem."

Stark burst out laughing. "Sure, the guy who saved the world will become the next overlord sort? I'll be sure to tell him that theory so he can send you information or a card or something."

The agent winced. "I doubt he'd go that far but he does still participate in their underground."

"Yes, it gives him great information," Steve said. "Why wouldn't he? Wouldn't you?"

"Yes, but some are very uptight about that, Captain."

Steve grinned. "Then they're probably the sort that have soul deals. He said that wasn't counted as evil so many of those stayed."

"I hadn't thought about that," he said, walking off.

"I'll tell him to find you," Stark called, waving after them. Cougar was laughing. "Let us know if you guys need more help." He looked at Rhodey, who smirked and flew off again. "Let's go get a cocktail, people. We did good." They went back to the motel to rescue Steve's uniform and shield then went back to New York tonight. Stark made sure the whole team had a good legal team to help them when the coverups started to roll over them.


Xander looked up from his sharpening a sword with James as a witch appeared. "Clorisma," he greeted. "This is one of my clients."

"There's a huge demon coming up in Hawaii. We think it's harmful but not evil."

"There's been a few of those recently," he agreed. "What does it look like?"

"It looks like a river of watery, tarry snot," she said.

He considered it. "Probably salt it then."

"Can you go handle it? You know we don't take lives, even demonic ones, if we can help it."

"If you can get me there and back. I have clients coming later today." She nodded, pressing her lips together. "Sure." He got up, going to grab a few specific things and his sword that was sharper. "Here, James. Can you finish that one for me please?"

"Sure," he agreed. The witch took Xander with her. James shook his head. He was never going to get used to magic being real.

Xander looked at the monster then shrugged. "It's not really dangerous," he said loudly. "Just kind of ugly. Has anyone tried to talk to it? I think it can answer yes/no questions if you tell it how you want answered."

"No, we haven't," a male voice said from behind him. "This is supposed to be paradise."

Xander turned to look at him and grinned. "Long time no see."

"You too. What're you doing now?"

"I'm now a therapist for people like us." Steve McGarret smiled at that. "Beyond that, it's just ugly. I can kill it but there's really no reason."

"Yes there is. Hawaii lives on tourists."

"Let me go talk to it." He walked down there, sitting in front of it. "Hi, I'm Xander Harris. I used to train the slayers when they were here. Can you wave a tentacle if you understand me?" One waved. "Great." He smiled. "One for yes, two for no, okay?" A tentacle waved again. "The people here are worried you're dangerous to them. Are you?" Two waves. "Even better. Is there a huge reason you climbed up out of the water or something dangerous you spotted coming this way?" One wave and a wobble. "Was that a kind of?" One tentacle wave.

"Okay. Let's ask...was it a creature down there?" Two waves. "A ship in trouble?" Two waves. "Weapons?" Two waves and the thing was starting to change colors. Xander frowned, laying a hand on it, yelping as it got burned. "Dude, what did you swim through?" Something flowed. "Oh, I'm sorry, ma'am. I didn't realize. Is whatever's coating you the problem you came to tell us about?" One tentacle waving frantically. "Guys, she swam through something horribly chemical that's eating into her. She's warning about it. Can we figure out what it is? Medical treatment would be humane."

The governor nodded. "I have someone coming who can do that when you yelped. Do you need medical treatment?"

"Nah, I'll cream and rinse it off later. I'm good so far. They can swab it from my hand too to make sure what it is." The female demon moaned. Xander moved, grabbing his t-shirt to pull off and get wet, coming back to dampen her down. "You risked your life to come tell us and we thank you for it. That's really great of you. We appreciate that."

"We do," McGarrett said, coming down to help him with a few towels from their trunk. He sniffed her back. "That's heavy chemicals. Tell them to bring a sensor too, Governor. Maybe even a geiger." She nodded, calling that in. A short while later, a Navy team showed up and jumped out of the jeep to run down. "Guys, she swam through a huge chemical spill of some sort and came to warn us."

"That's really sweet of her," one of them said. He nodded at Xander, who grinned back. "Let's swab her skin if it's safe to use saline solution?"

"Probably not," Xander said. "Most water living creatures respond to extra salt. She's ocean living so how much higher would it be?"

"Not much. We have sterile water we can use too." They swabbed her, the two burns on Xander's hand, took fabric samples from the t-shirt and towels. "How far out is it? Over ten miles?" She waved two tentacles. "Within five? That was a no, right?" Xander nodded. "Within five miles?" She moaned again.

Xander rewet his t-shirt and Steve did the towels. She weakly waved a tentacle. "It's probably really close by with how strong it is. Can we get her into a safer bit of water?"

"Yes," one of the Navy people said, coming up to help. "We do it with dolphins. A team that helps them is coming. It was really brave to tell us. We could've seriously overreacted to her." Xander smirked and nodded. "I figured." The dolphin helping team showed up and got her into a sling to move her to a cleaner bit of water. She got strong enough to tell them where the spill was. The Navy sent out people to check it out, reporting a tanker ship had a leak they hadn't reported and they had to close area beaches that could be affected. Clorisma watched all this, moving in to help the poor thing. The demon patted her on the hand before she swam off.

Steve McGarrett looked at Xander then at the witch. "Are there harmful ones that aren't evil here?"

Xander nodded. "Mermaids might be migrating near here. I can hear one of them chirping angrily about the water. There's a lot of them that just *are*. Then again, Willow's spell specified evil so the ones that take in souls are still here." He shrugged. "Thankfully it got rid of most of Wolfram and Hart. They were behind a lot of problems. Including the LA invasion. Both of them."

Steve nodded. "I'll look to make sure none of them are here. How do we handle mermaids?"

"They just are but they eat people," Xander said. "They can also taint humans. Don't ask how I know that."

"I saw that in the file when the SEAL team was sent after you," he said quietly. Xander grinned at him. "Is that squealing noise them?"

"The higher pitched noise is them." He listened and pointed. "There's one just below the surface there," he said. He whistled sharply and waved. It popped its head up. Xander yelled something in one of the common demon languages. Clorisma huffed and did a translation charm. Xander grinned at her for it but repeated that the water was bad due to chemicals leaking into it. That the mermaids had to clear the area because it would kill them too. The mermaid nodded and waved, heading back under the water and swimming off.

"That's so weird," Steve complained.

"Yup," Xander said with a grin. "We used to have a colony by Sunnydale." McGarrett walked off shaking his head. "If you need me, I'm right outside NYC, dude." He gathered his stuff, letting Clorisma take him back. "Okay, handled. Thank you, dear." He kissed her on the cheek. "How's Andrew doing?"

"He's doing very well. His group has put up some strong regional rule choices recently and won a good portion of them. Though we do wish he'd quit being a vigilante at night."

Xander shrugged. "Like the Shadow, he knows what evil lurks in the heart of people. He saw it up close and personal with his older brother. If it helps him to go around stopping the minor problems that people like the Avengers are too strong to handle then so be it. It makes him happy and feel useful." He shrugged.

"Fine. Whatever. Any other issues you've got to tell us about?"

He grinned, walking off and coming back with an envelope. "I've already handed it to my lawyer." He handed it to her. "Someone's trying to reopen Sunnydale."

"Excuse me?" she demanded, opening it to pull out the notice inside. "Oh, dear Goddess," she moaned. "I'll bring this to the others and Andrew, Xander."

"I already texted Andrew the night I got it. That was the night he was drunkenly tinkering and nearly blew up parts of Toronto."

"I remember that night." She sighed but sent herself to the coven to share that bad news.

"What sort of vigilante?" James asked from the couch.

"The sort that puts on a costume and goes out to handle things without being lethal. Spiderman without the webs basically."

"Is he any good at it?"

"Yeah, he's pretty darn good." He grinned. "We'll have a huge problem if they try to reopen Sunnydale. They really will. Including that the hellmouth isn't considered evil and that one's still broadcasting. I even proved it to the judge as one of the reasons why he should make them stop it." He walked off to make himself a milkshake.

"Let me see your hand," James said, following him. Xander huffed but let him see it so it could be wrapped. "Don't want you to end up in the hospital. Who knows what would happen."

"I don't go to hospitals unless I'm nearly dead," Xander said. "Not in Africa, not here. Not even when I had a two foot piece of mystical spear in my intestines. I don't trust them." He grinned. "You do that nearly as well as I do. Thank you." He handed him a milkshake. "Add in any syrup you want to flavor it."

James smiled, adding strawberry syrup. "Thanks." They went back to the sword sharpening and talking. It was good for James and it kept Xander from worrying about that problem coming up.


Stark heard about the call to reopen Sunnydale and frowned at the tv instead of the tablet he had been working on, mentally considering his options. "Hey, Pepper," he called. "We have to move the Malibu facility completely. They're trying to reopen Sunnydale."

"What?" she shrieked. She came out of the kitchen to stare at the tv report. It had Xander putting an energy sensor in the center of the destruction, proving to the watching scientists and others that the hole was still radiating. "I thought it was closed."

"Stitched but it's leaked forever," he said quietly. "The same as Cleveland's not that bad at the moment."

She shuddered. "I'll get to work planning on how to move them away from there, Tony. We needed to when we found out, now's a good time with the interest rates being so low." She got onto her tablet to talk to some people about that idea. They didn't like it but when she told them why that changed a lot of opinions.

Stark sent out a text message to the other Avengers. They had to be warned something huge was going to happen because of this. He hoped they could find out who that state senator had sold his soul to so they could get it called in to stop the stupidity.


Natasha looked at her phone, moaning loudly. Clint snapped upright from the pool table, staring at her. "Were you drugged?" he demanded, walking over to check on her. She held up the phone to show that message. He stared. "That has to be a joke." He looked at his phone. She snatched it to look that up.

"It's not." She let him see that.

Clint stared at it then around the bar that had officers and agents. "Guys, someone in California is trying to reopen Sunnydale as a place to live and work," he announced. Most of the bar choked. "That means someone is going to cause a whole lot of problems and probably start another one in Cleveland." He sighed. "Can we put this around so people start to scream about it? Before that hellmouth reopens?"

"The thing wouldn't have been considered evil so it wouldn't have been moved by Rosenburg's spell," Natasha agreed. People were already getting online to spread that information. Twitter and Facebook were going to be swamped with outrage. No one wanted that danger to come back. They didn't have slayers there to protect them any more. They weren't going to let it happen without someone to protect them. Even the Avengers and their kind couldn't protect them this time.


A few days later, Xander was pacing in his bedroom, phone to his ear. "Steve, it's Xander Harris. I have a huge favor to ask. I'm being called to DC and I know very well someone's going to try to take me out. Because I still have visions, Steve. Exactly. No, just a name of someone you'd actually trust with me would be nice. Though, I have the feeling they're going to call at least a few of your type to testify about how dangerous Sunnydale really is. I can blow that all up by showing them the truth, but they're going to freak. The people in California have subtly put out a call to have me attacked so I can't testify.

"They've put it into the underground even so it's going to be demon run. There's also a few military guys who are pissed at me for being a therapist for guys like us who understands when things go really wrong. It kept a few they wanted to force to retire by throwing them into the shitpile repeatedly until they broke." He listened. "I can do that. Please. Thank you. Yeah, you can even borrow out of my arsenal if you need to. Thanks, man." He hung up and nearly flinched since James was lounging in the doorway drinking cocoa.

"I could guard you."

"Be honest, James. They're going to try to capture you if you show up in DC. With the HYDRA stuff still being worked on they're going to consider you still theirs."


"I need you here to watch over the weapons. Because while I'm gone they may try something against the house." He stared at him. "They're dumb that way."

"They are. You could ask someone like Bobbi. She was good."

"She is and she'll be there already. They're going to try to get the new SHIELD down at the same time. They hate people who save others without a lot of political oversight."

"I can understand why. It makes them nervous that the puppets will break free." Xander nodded. "What about Natasha?"

"I figured they'd either call her, as being as close to a slayer as one can be trained to be, or they'd make sure she was far away for the same reason."

"Are there ones against reopening it?"

Xander shook his head. "Not that I can tell. They think it'll bring in a lot of money to let it become an industrial park. Which means that someone else can try what Wilkins did. Or something worse. Technically that's not considered an evil plan as long as you're only planning on using it for personal power."

"I can see how that works. Then what?"

"They're likely to try to throw me into jail but if they do there's going to be a huge battle almost immediately. That means that no one guards the city and this city is on the verge of a war at the moment thanks to some demon street gangs. They might try to hold it off for six months or so to prove I'm not needed but it'll happen within a year." He stared at him. "I'm feeling like I should prove how bad it'll be by summoning something. Probably something that owns some of them."

"Is the demon community going to have a fit?"

"They've already started but no one's covering it because it's demons protesting that they're going to draw the evil back here." He licked his lips then shrugged. "There's been a huge outpouring of 'please don't do that' from humans too. They're not listening."

"Can you make them stay there for a few days?"

"Which the higher ups would make sure nothing happened during," Xander said.

"Could be."

"No, will be." He sighed. "Someone will make it happen. Not me, not Andrew, not the coven, but someone will." He rubbed his forehead, then sighed. "I have no idea what's going to happen beyond that vision of agents attacking me to get me out of the way."

James came in to make Xander look at him. "Take some of your own advice. Take a deep breath, let it out, then plan to thump the assholes." Xander smiled because that had been his advice to Bobbi recently. "I'll watch the armory. Will you need Steve there?"

"He's already on to testify. He has icon status so they won't attack him. I don't."

"You'd be shocked."

"No, I know what my rep is. I'm realistic, James."

"No, you're a worrywart. Call Clint. Call Bobbi so her group is aware it's going to happen. If you don't, I will," he said when Xander opened his mouth. Then he smiled. "It's a good thing to have friends. You have a lot. Warn your clients too so they know you might be in jail if you're attacked."


James plucked Xander's cellphone from his hand to look at his contacts list, starting with the bigger, louder guns. "Barton, Barnes. Xander had a vision of the testimony in DC ending up with him attacked and possibly put in jail so he's out of the way, then an attack within a year." He walked off talking to him. "I told him to call you. He's in high worry mode. Yeah, just like a dame would."

"Hey!" Xander complained. Though he was proud how James was coming more and more into himself through handling problems. It proved he was working hard on getting back to whoever he was after the brain washing.

"You are," James called back, going to the kitchen. "Yeah, it's going to get that bad according to him. Who was Wilkins?" Xander waved him out to put on that tape. James blinked. "Damn, what is that? I'm so glad the Nazis never figured that out."

"That's called an ascension. He turned into a pure demon."

"You have to see that mess, Barton. Broke out of his skin and turned into a giant snake. Like building sized snake. Ewww." He walked off shaking his head. "Anyway, he's in a near panic. I told him to call you and then your ex to make sure they know it'll happen but he was calling to find someone to guard his back in DC. The guy he talked to in Hawaii. Yeah, he's that worried. Please do. Thanks." He hung up and looked at the other numbers. "Who's Marge?" he called.

"She's technically my assistant but she works off-site to help agents with other issues. Like they ran out of clothes in another city or other things."

James nodded. "That'd be handy to know." He found another number to call, smiling at Steve's answer of his phone. "It's me. Apparently the DC thing about Sunnydale is going to be really bad. Xander even had a vision." Steve lost his happy sound. "That's why I'm calling. He wasn't going to impose or ask. He called someone else named Steve to talk to about guarding his back. Then he admitted you'd be there and needed guarding too. I'm watching his house to keep agents from trying me," he said dryly. "Exactly. That's what I was thinking. Please. I told Barton. Did you get to see the video about Wilkins?" He grimaced. "Don't eat first, Steve." He hung up. "He and Barton will be here in a few hours," he said cheerfully, heading to the kitchen. "You're out of bread."

"I'll order groceries," he sighed, going to do that from his desk. His bank account seemed to be down so he had to use something else. They were good. They even got him good antelope steaks.

Part 2 by Voracity2
Steve watched the video again, staring at it. He had seen it three times before his stomach quit wanting to rebel. Now he was watching it in Washington, DC with a bunch of senators. He looked at them. "Xander said that used to be the mayor out there. The one that set up the town to take advantage of the hellmouth."

The President of the Senate grimaced. "There's been a lot of stories about Sunnydale."

"Including mermaids?" Steve asked. "Xander said his high school swim coach chopped up one to make the team faster by tainting them."

The other senators looked at each other then at him. "Is that really relevant?"

"Yes. They're still there. They come up onto the land to find food, which would be a person."

"Any businesses there would have security," one senator said.

"How would that work against the hellmouth itself?" Steve asked. "It's still radiating. The meter on it is actually in the red as of last night. That's where Xander is, he's out there making sure it's staying closed since someone reported a tentacle."

"Is he making it worse?" one asked dryly.

"Xander doesn't have magic," Steve said, glaring at him. "Frankly, if he was capable of what you were accusing him of, he'd do it easier in Cleveland." That senator shuddered. "We've stopped a few groups trying that already."

Xander walked in with someone in chains being dragged behind him. He dropped him in front of the senators. "He's the one that was trying to open the hellmouths. Including the one that's open, fully open, in Belgrade. Thankfully the Devon coven is over there already to handle it for them." They all stared at him. He looked at himself then shrugged. "He had a partner that was sacrificing people." He pointed behind him. "Ask the SEAL guy that the Navy once sent to try to kill me."

McGarrett walked in tucking in a clean t-shirt. "Sorry, I took the time to change. This is the arrest report from the CHP and the FBI about the attempt to open the hellmouth in Sunnydale to call the slayers back to handle the mistake you're about to make. They were willing to possibly kill half the slayers to get them all back here." He put the report in front of the chair's seat. "The rest of their group of magic users is being talked to or arrested in the various countries of origin or hiding."

"Are you still a SEAL?" one senator asked.

"I'm now on detached duty to the Honolulu Police Department so I can find the bad elements in Hawaii while finding out who killed my father," he said. "He was an officer there."

"I've heard about you," one said quietly. Steve smiled slightly and nodded his head. "What about Mr. Harris' part of this problem?"

"All he did was stop it. He doesn't use magic, it tends to bend into a rainbow around him. He doesn't want the hellmouth to open because that means he'd be there to fight it without a whole lot of help. Not like the military is trained in how to handle it, still. The few of us who asked to take that training and have done it would be there but we're spread around to various bases in and out of the US. I probably would've been closest."

"Patrick O'Mara is in Oregon somewhere," Xander said more quietly. "He's in a wheelchair thanks to that shot to the spine but he'll show up with artillery."

Steve nodded. "I would too. You can't let things like that start or they'll never end without a lot of damage." He looked at the senators again. "You've managed to panic this group and others so they acted to try to protect humanity by calling slayers back."

Xander nodded. "They started with Willow but she's presently trapped in the spell. We think she can fight to stay there with the slayers. She's the only witch with them."

"Did they manage to summon any slayers?" one senator in the back asked.

Xander shook his head. "They managed to kill two trying." The man on the floor whimpered, moving away from Xander. He looked down. "I understand the panic. I understand the urge. The execution is sucky and we're *so* going to talk about this later unless you're in jail." He looked at the panel again. "Unfortunately the hellmouths aren't going to be fully closed again. It'd take more magical power than we presently have. Willow logged herself into the hellmouth and used it against itself."

"Can't that coven do that?" the chair demanded.

"No," Xander said. "That's what led to Willow having too much power that clouded her and made her become addicted to her skills. Even if multiple witches picked up the hellmouth that way, it'd still overpower them and possibly kill them. Willow was young, stupid, and believed she could do it. The older witches know what goes on when you do things like that. Knowledge will prove it to be so. Wishing and hoping and being *sure* something can happen because you will it to be so is for idealistic young ones without training. The same as you think you can do something and you manage it but once you learn how to do it you do it differently. I learned that real well because the first time I had to bust into somewhere to rescue someone, I did it differently and hoped it'd work. Once I learned how to do it correctly I do it differently and end up with better results."

"Like a young kid who stole a car but can't drive may manage to drive well enough not to wreck but once they're taught they know what they're doing and how to do it without wrecking," one said. Xander nodded. "So what can we do?"

"Evacuate Cleveland," Steve McGarrett said simply. "Before that one pops fully open. It's already halfway there."

The senator from Ohio stood up. "It is?" he demanded. "Why didn't you say that at first?"

"We had to report on why," Xander said. "Otherwise you wouldn't have listened." He stared at him. "I've already talked to the city council there. The ones they hired to handle it are on alert to watch for anything. The two magic members who were going to bolster that one into a safer state because there's still people there to help make sure it stays closed. Cleveland arrested them and the judge agreed that was their sentence at that time. Cleveland is almost safe at this moment. They've told the citizens that there may be a hellmouth opening event soon. They've put the city under emergency rules. They know that they may be told to evacuate certain areas at a moment's notice. So far they've went with the emergency plans they made with us when they first figured out why the whole slayer cadre was there. Which was after the first LA invasion."

The senator from Ohio took a deep breath then nodded. "So Cleveland's safe?"

"At this time it's in a prepared for emergencies state," Steve said. "If it opens and they can't get it closed fast enough, there may be some damage. They're working on it. I suggested they evacuate the immediate area due to the visible fluxing of the hellmouth and the possibility that it may not be able to be closed permanently again. They're considering it."

Xander nodded. "They've got a military unit from a nearby base on the way there to help guard the area. They're handling it but it may come down to an evacuation order. It's very likely at this moment. If so, the military unit has weapons. A lot of weapons. They stock that base that way on purpose thanks to that hellmouth."

The senator from Ohio nodded quickly. "We do, yes. So we're looking at a temporary evacuation most likely and some damage but no more than a tornado?"

"That depends on what comes out," Xander said honestly. "Right on top is a kraken. If they can close it while that's trying to get out, probably just the park being ripped up like the last few times. Anything else and it's a crap shoot. There's thousands of demons trying to get past the guardian kraken. It just depends on who makes it there first."

"Okay," that senator agreed. "Excuse me, I need to call there. Is there anything that could help with that?"

The magic user cleared his throat. "Some of us think that one of them opening may well ease some of the others," he said. "That's why we were going to open Sunnydale fully again. That and to make sure the town wasn't reopened so no one else tried what Wilkins did."

"We saw that incident," the chair said, covering his mouth for a moment. "What is that called?"

"An ascension." Xander smiled. "It's something that got covered up in Ghana that time, Senator. We nearly died to keep that secret until they realized that there was a huge amount of demons we still had to handle so their people were safer."

"I never heard about that."

"No one heard about that," Steve said. "We got sent to take him out for not being under firm military control about a week later. The government down there was still threatening and jailing anyone who had seen it to cover it up. My whole SEAL team nearly got caught up in that but Harris saved us by running to us for help and weapons he needed to handle something huge that showed up to eat everyone in the country."

Xander grinned at him. "You guys screamed nicely but were very helpful."

Steve scowled. "We didn't scream."

"Yeah. Sure ya didn't. Then again, I screamed when I saw the three story tall naked demon who was nibbling on a kid that was tied to a goat so it made a sandwich."

Steve nodded. "That would've been a good reason but SEALs don't scream, kid."

"Sure. That's cool. Must be part of the training." Steve nodded it was.

The chair cleared his throat. "Did anyone get anything on that incident that can be viewed?"

"Well, I have files," Xander said. "Of all of it. I had the baby slayer that was local there taping it for the others while me and the bigger ones handled things. I was told if I let it out they'd be killing me in as horrible of a manner as they can manage."

"We're going to view it without showing it to everyone else," another said. "That way it protects their reputations." Xander walked off calling home. James got into those files and sent it to his phone. Xander waited while they cleared the hearing room, letting them hook the file up. He selected which one it was and let it run, sitting down beside Steve Rogers. McGarrett was definitely not watching it from the seat behind him.

One senator heaved. Xander looked then at him. "That's really mild. In about ten minutes it's going to get worse. Then on the next day's it's going to get nauseous even for me." He looked at Rogers again, letting him watch it. That Steve gagged at something. Xander patted him on the arm. "It'll be worse when the day switches," he said quietly. The day switched but the things were quiet for a few minutes. Then the huge demon showed up with his snack. A few more senators gagged. Then one threw up. McGarrett got him a trash can then went back to not watching it. Steve Rogers gagged and almost heaved. Xander took his hand to work on the wrist pressure points.
A senator paused it, looking at them. "Does it get worse, Mr. Harris?"

Xander nodded quickly. "Yeah, I had her turn off the sound for a good reason in about an hour's worth of battle. Because that one's sister found a school." Rogers shuddered. "We killed her. She had been there for about a half-hour but we hadn't heard. As soon as we spotted her, the air support we had blew her head off. It was still a mess. She was laying eggs that would be hatching in another day switch's time. It makes the scene from _Alien_ look nice. The full tape is probably another two hours since we edited it for quiet times."

They restarted it after getting things to drink. Xander fixed both Steves something herbal he carried with him. "Here, something to keep it down," he said quietly. They drank it when their stomachs churned so they didn't throw up again.

"Oh my god," one moaned, then ran to get sick.

Xander looked then nodded. "Yeah, that was the school when we found her."

The chair fast forwarded through it, and it was still bad. The eggs bursting open made them all heave again so they stopped it so Xander could have his phone back. "Thank you for your service, Mr. Harris."

Xander nodded. "I'm just glad they never showed up in Sunnydale. No one would've tried to protect anyone there because the whole town was a food farm basically. We wouldn't have had military support or anything like it. Now you're planning on making another food farm only with industrial instruments for them to play with. If so, I hope whatever military unit is put there has really great luck. Because sometimes it's not training, it's pure dumb luck."

The senators nodded. "We can see what concerns you. What if we put certain types of high security businesses there?"

"Ma'am, we took down seven vampires to get to the hellmouth," McGarrett said. "The former town had a huge set of tunnels underneath it thanks to Wilkins. The town was set up to fully cater to the demon communities. There's even a condo complex underground."

Xander nodded. "It was built that way. The sewers were larger than some emergency tubes under bases. The old base under the college is still there but not in use. Some demons have moved into what remains of the town as well. Plus into the old college's dorms. Thankfully that cult wants the hellmouth to stay closed. They're meditating to keep it closed if at all possible by their higher power's will. They're the ones who called about the sorcerers opening it."

"Dangerous?" one asked.

"Only if you bother them," McGarrett said.

"Understood. What about a weapons maker?"

"Unless someone comes up with a biometric scanner that would tell that someone woke up dead, how would they keep a vamped worker out?" Xander asked.

"Is there such a scanner?" Xander shook his head. So did McGarrett.

"Could someone like Stark build one?" Steve Rogers asked.

"There's probably a lot of businesses that would like it," McGarrett told him. "If he manages it, I'm pretty sure it'll have a wide audience."

"I can suggest it to him when I get back there."

"He was called in to testify," one of the senators said. They shared a look. "Is there a way to make that area safe?"

"Only if someone like Stark figures out how to heal the hellmouth," Xander said. "Then to leach the radiated power out of the very ground. They might also have to dig up some things like the temple to the dark goddess that Willow Rosenburg almost used to end humanity. It's just outside town."

"Is the temple there because of the hellmouth or did they put the temple there after Wilkins formed the town?"

"The temple is actually ancient," Xander said, smiling slightly. "From the original demon societies. It's underground, fully hidden. It has to be pulled up by magic. As far as I can tell the hellmouth formed there after the originating demon societies died off. It had no reason to form near the temple beyond that it's a thin spot. That whole area was a neutral grieving area according to some of the writings we found after the city fell in. One of our former people was an archeology sort and he found evidence of the old grieving temple near there. No power but just grief, which that temple was part of."

"Oh. So coincidence?" Xander nodded. "Interesting to note. Is there anything else like that?" Xander nodded, pulling up an inventory list he carried. She stared. "Are those cursed artifacts?"

"Yup. Wilkins and other demons there collected them for power. They're mostly still there. They temporarily got moved to Cleveland but the hellmouth there reacted to that power so we reburied it out in Sunnydale. I could go dig it up to sell it but there's a lot of danger in that. How many tainted or possessed artifacts can really go into the underground at once?"

"That is an excellent point," the chair sighed. "Is there any way to reopen Sunnydale's boundaries without causing problems?"

McGarrett shook his head. "We saved most of the people trying while we were out there. The vampires had acted to keep their safe area safe."

"How many?" the chair demanded. Steve pointed at the report so he picked it up to glance through it. "Oh, dear. Is that the governor?" he asked, looking up.

"I only know Hawaii's," Steve said.

Xander shook his head. "Lieutenant governor the last I knew. Then again, he had been sacrificing some of the workers there over the hole when we found him."

"Shooting him with a crossbow meant the magic backlashed so he's not going to be doing it again," McGarrett said. "Which is why we came in...messy."

"We managed to save the people he had tied up, including a former state senator that may be the governor now," Xander added. "His helper was arrested by the CHP."

They went over the rest of the report, nodding. "How do we keep people like that from opening the hellmouth out there?"

"Guards, a really high gate, making a deal with the current denizens to guard it," Steve McGarrett said.

Steve Rogers cleared his throat. "Xander has many contacts still among the peaceful community. They may be able to set up a guard unit there of beings who won't be bothered by the power or the vampires. I'm sure there's some that vampires won't eat?"

Xander nodded. "They're usually used for other fun instead of food but the vamps that took over Sunnydale aren't the usual stupid minions. They would probably appreciate an honor guard for the hellmouth so the few that want to move there peacefully could."

"Could we make it a peaceful demon commune?" the one from Ohio asked quickly.

"No," Xander said. "The power there can drive multiple types of species nuts. Very few species can reliably live on a hellmouth without having something wrong start. Some will try anyway because it'd hide them easier but even in Cleveland it's caused a few cases of birth defects or power madness. That's only been a few in the last few years that it's started but there were healers in Sunnydale who'd probably be able to give you statistics."

"Would they act like the health departments do for that?" the one from Ohio asked.

"That and they do the census plus they've got the record keepers about births," Xander said. "Even places that have peace councils for the area let the healers do that. It basically became their jobs over the last few centuries"

"I'll gladly ask the ones in Cleveland about that. Maybe there's a way to set them up somewhere safe they can live."

"Most of the peaceful clans have things like jobs," Xander said. "Not always great jobs, especially if they look a bit odd, but most do support their families with jobs. A few are here to go to college."

"Also, the things that happened with the Native Americans," Steve Rogers said. "That might cause more problems."

"It would," the senator from Ohio agreed. "I'd just like them to have somewhere they're not scared to live and people aren't scared to have them live there either."

"That's a PR problem," Xander said. "You should talk to Andrew Wells."

"I hadn't thought about their group. Wasn't he one of you?"

"Yes. He was the housemother at the Council," Xander said, smiling. "I really adore how Andrew's helped the community and the guy's like a good brother to me."

"That's good," the senator from Ohio agreed. "I can talk to him about any ideas to see if they have some. I know he works with a demon rights group." Xander nodded. "That's good of him." He looked at the others then back at the trio. "Mr. Harris, how many weapons do you have?"

"Enough that if I could have, I would've went to rescue the girls," he said bluntly. "Or if we have a huge problem happen I can handle it while the regular humans run. The same as I had in Africa, sir."


"Do agents know about that?" the chair asked. Xander pointed at Steve Rogers. "He's not an agent, Mr. Harris. Not at this time."

Xander stared at him. "No but if something happens I'd expect Captain Rogers to be there when I'd expect agents to either be running for their lives or helping others run for their lives. Yes, I know some of my therapy clients do know I have weapons. Most of them think it's a good idea. Especially since I had to hold off Russian agents a few months back because they came to attack me for daring to be a therapist for one of their sort of agents. Though I am fairly upset that someone has my house bugged. It doesn't lead to good confidentiality for my clients."

"I'm not aware of that incident," the chair said. He looked at the others, who all shrugged. McGarrett looked it up and handed his phone over with a cough.

Steve Rogers grinned at him. "We found that and ended it, Xander." Xander punched him on the arm with a grin. "When are you going to change the attic back?"

"I might keep that up there. That one wasn't the first one that felt he needed punishment for what happened when a mission went FUBAR. The same as a few feel better in the bar area downstairs or in the sparring gym."

"About the weapons," one said.

Xander looked at him then called up another file to show them. It was him arguing with a US agent about needing weapons so he could handle the incident that they had called him about. Which then ate the agents, Xander ended up borrowing weapons suddenly, and then the local peaceful demons had been highly impacted so they had held a huge protest of those agents. He stared at the senators. "That was the second time. If there had been a third, I would've used the agents as bait. I have what I need to handle things that I need to handle for you guys or them. I may have a few extra things but I also know that in my hands, they're just pets. I even have a few named because I've had them since Sunnydale." He smiled. "If some agents don't like it, the offer for them to handle those sort of things themselves is still in play."

"I believe you having weapons is a great idea," one of the senators in the back row said. "Because it probably makes you safer." Xander nodded. "Do you generally see patients?"

"I see agents and those sort, Senator. Guys like me who had crappy missions. I don't handle the usual clients, but the ones who've been there, done that, and came back with the ripped up t-shirt to prove it."

"He helped me when I was dethawed so I had an anchor in the modern era," Steve Rogers said. "It helped me a lot. He's helped some agents I know as well."

"That makes sense. If anyone knows how bad things can go, you do," Steve McGarrett said. Xander handed him a business card, earning a smile. "I know a few SEALs who could use you." He tucked it into his pocket.

"Are you a psychologist?"

"Masters in Counseling," Xander said. "I couldn't stand more lecture classes to get the doctorate in psychology. Especially since guys like me don't do well with normal methods of talking it out. Most of the guys like me won't talk about things but it'll come out during other things."

Steve nodded. "I've talked down a few SEALs over beers in a bar playing pool."

"My pool table is pitiful according to a few people. I do have a bar area in the basement for safe drinking. I have a client that really needed it on the anniversary of his wife's death. That way he's not getting drunk in public. I have clients that can only really talk about things during sparring practice."

"So you handle people like you that protect us all but aren't the sort that traditional methods work on," the chair said. Xander nodded. "Interesting. How do they hear about you?"

"Other clients. My first one was an agent I had run into all too often after an apocalypse battle that got covered up. He was shaking hard. I was still in my training time but I got him helped. I've seen him a few other times. I saw his partner when he needed me. It spread from there."

"That's good then," the chair decided. "We need our agents to be on good mental footing. Apparently you do that for them. What sort of weapons do you have?"

Xander smiled. "Things to handle a battle if I need to handle one. From swords on up."

"Oh. I forgot your people tended toward archaic weapons."

"It's really hard to behead something with a gun," Steve Rogers said dryly. Xander nodded. "I've done it but it took a lot more bullets."

"I figured it would," he said, grimacing. "Have any agents shown up to talk to you about learning demon classification or anything you used as a watcher?"

"Yes, a few have. I gave them the same fast training that I gave the girls and told them to come back to learn sword work better or when they needed things. I condensed the major things down to six months worth of books plus weapons training. Most of them are up to date on all that. Most have also found people in their local areas to help them get better with sword and crossbow work. I train anyone who asks because if there's another portal opening, we're all screwed if it's just me."

"The military would fall in," Steve Rogers said. Xander and McGarrett both shook their heads. "They didn't?"

"No," Xander said. "We had one slightly open in New York. We argued for the three days before when it was trying to open, but the military said it wasn't their job." He grimaced. "I ended up handling it with a few military guys who went AWOL for the battle plus the NYPD special units and some of their officers that were former military. Thankfully the coven was fighting against that one so we only got about a fifth of what could've come through."

"I know a guy who was there. It took nine hours once it opened," McGarrett said. "After six hours the military finally showed up to complain to their people, who handed over their weapons to their commanders so they could join the battle. The commanders looked and groaned but got people there. They tried to yell at Xander about it but he pointed out he had been arguing for three days about it with the higher ups."

"Where was I?" Rogers asked Xander.

"Cambodia rescuing a hostage if I heard right."

"Oh, during that mission. I didn't even hear about a problem."

"New York made sure it didn't get covered," Xander said dryly. "We saw Natasha during it. She showed up to help through most of the battle, except when she got a small stab wound to her arm so had to get stitches because they had poisoned claws."

"Huh. Next time, call me directly."

"Not like you could've gotten back from Cambodia that fast," McGarrett said. "I know other SEALs told him the same thing and he told them that same thing, they couldn't have gotten there in time."

"Call me before and I'll figure it out," Rogers said, staring at Xander.

"I tried. Your boss said you were in Cambodia and it was more important than us fighting against a small demonic force."

"Wonderful." Rogers shook his head with a sigh. "Would you call groups like that one we had to save from the arms dealer that they're trying to cover up now?"

"Yeah, I would've called Colonel Clay's team in a heartbeat," Xander said. "They could've helped a lot. It might've kept them away from Max's idiocy that got them declared treasonous as part of a plot."

The chair cleared his throat. "What now?"

They smiled at him. Xander pulled up files for them to view. "We had to help the team," Steve Rogers said. "The arms dealer had compromised a few teams, that one just managed to fight back because they didn't die like he had planned. We helped capture them and the higher few minions recently."

The senators looked it over. "The army's doing what?"

"Trying to cover it up," Xander said dryly. "They're presently trying to court marshal the team for daring to survive and fight back like real soldiers would."

"Let us look into that." Xander coughed and pointed at one.

"No, I'm going to recuse myself, Mr. Harris. I'm well aware of who was blackmailing my wife," that one said. They all stared at him. He nodded. "So was the Secret Service."

"We had started to look into him. Agent Romanoff was doing so but when SHIELD fell in the agents in other agencies felt it wasn't their duty to stop him any longer," Steve Rogers said.

"Wonderful," that same senator said. "We'll look at that as well." The panel of tough guys smiled. "Dismissed. Unless there's other matters someone should look into?"

"Can you please ask someone at the FBI why they expect me to keep track of others who're trying to ascend like Wilkins?" Xander asked. "I thought that'd be their job but they said it's mine."

"I can do that," he promised with a smile. "We don't want that to happen. I'd dare say it'd happen around here."

"Yes, it would've next year if I hadn't found a way to get two of your coworkers arrested last year," Xander said dryly. That got a few moans. Xander smiled. "You're welcome." They got up and left.

They ran into Stark in the hallway. "Yeah, I can work on a sensor like that, guys." He stared at Xander. "I'm getting into all those files you have. That way I know who to avoid."

"Most of them were covered up battles, Stark, and a lot of those are dead now."

"Still. I'd rather know. It would definitely keep it from happening again."

"You can't stop a higher demon from shifting to this plane or into a country. Neither can the coven. You just gotta handle it when it happens. That'd probably get a lot of people very upset if you did. Plus cause a run on the liquor store. Natasha saw me transferring a file over to another safer drive so watched it over my shoulder. She got seriously drunk that night."

"Romanoff?" Stark demanded.

"Yes, her." He stared at him. "Ghana wasn't the worst on there, Stark. Top ten but not the worst." Steve Rogers gagged. "So you may not need to do that."

"Still, better it can be known if something happens like they try to take you out for being somewhere."

"The US tries that," he said dryly. "McGarrett got the sniper that was trying to take us out in Sunnydale and he was FBI."

"Crap," Stark said. "Still?" McGarrett nodded. "Then thank you for that."

"Not a problem. I learned why you respect guys like Xander thanks to the Navy sending me to kill him."

"They thought I was rampaging around Africa like a warlord when I was handling things and setting up emergency plans," Xander quipped. "That was during Ghana."

"Then maybe I don't need to know but I'll be storing a copy just in case they virus yours." They walked over together. Press people tried to rush them but Xander glared and they backed off. Stark looked at him. "Teach Rogers that trick please?"

"They think he's pretty," Xander quipped. "They know I'm not pretty and I have at least a sword on me at all times. Startling me is *real* bad." He headed for the cabs. McGarrett pulled on his arm, taking him to their hired ride. It was safer and he could drop Xander at the hotel on his way to the airport.

Stark and Rogers got into Stark's limo. Tony looked at Steve, shaking his head. "Xander's real unique."

"He's a really nice guy."

"I'm sure he is. So is Barton most of the time. They're a lot alike from what I've seen."

Steve nodded. "They are only Xander drinks less coffee and doesn't have an ex-wife."

"I guess that's good but a good woman might help him a lot. Or even a nice guy to date I guess."

"From what I've heard about Xander's ex's, those aren't the types that like him."

"Then maybe someone will start to introduce him to some former agents. Is he staying here?"

"Yeah, he's going to check on a few clients then go home tomorrow."

"Is that safe?"

"Probably not but it's likely it's going to happen up there instead of so fast." Steve shifted. "There's people here to watch over him."

"That's good. You think they'll take the obvious hint to handle that Army thing?"

"Yup. Max had files on a few of them, not just that one. They'll want to make sure it's not going to ever come out because their careers would be gone."

"Good point." They got to the airport and onto Stark's private plane, heading up to the tower.


Xander walked out of the hotel the next morning and was nearly grabbed by someone but a stick broke the guy's hand. Xander grinned at the blonde next to him. "Thank you, dear."

"Welcome, Xander." She smirked back. "The boss nearly had a fit that you were here in the city all alone."

"I figured they'd retaliate against me back in New York where more people knew me. It'd be more embarrassing."

"Quite probably so we're going to watch over you again."

"You guys have too much to do and not enough people to do it with."

She patted him on the cheek. "You have clients who had no idea you'd be here." He winced. "Yeah, not all that happy but happy you stopped that plan cold." She walked him off. "Got everything?" He pointed at his bag on the trolley then grabbed it, letting her walk him off to her rental car. "Better idea, right?"

"Much nicer than most cabs," he agreed.

"Good." She drove him off, taking him to the airport outside Baltimore. Smaller flight but safer airport. Even if they did have to ride in a puddle jumper sized plane to New Jersey.


Colonel Clay sneered at the con bothering him. "I hope like hell I never get to the point where I leave kids in a building that's about to be destroyed. If the Army didn't like that, then they're not the ones I want to work for anyway." The con shuddered. "All that was Max's plan to discredit us then take us out."

"You're not the only ones here that got screwed by a mission on purpose to cover up something," another of the cons said. "There's whole teams here who're here for the same reason, without the higher powered puppet master in the background, Clay. Though you might want to calm Jensen down. Someone stepped into his face earlier. Even if a miracle happens that'll look worse on him."

Clay looked around. "Corporal, do I need to beat you to death?" he called.

"No, Clay. I'm good," Jensen said coolly, staring at the guy in his face. "Aren't we?" The guy backed off.

One of the guards sneered. "We have meds for guys like you."

Jensen smiled. "Sure, you do that. Watch me go fully homicidal and start taking out the guards. Someone tried that once when they had me captured. Didn't work that well for them when the team found the remains and me giggling in the center of them while I ate candy." The guard shuddered, backing off.

"Don't remind me of that, Jake," Clay ordered. "Damn that was a nightmare." He shook his head. The others in the jail left them alone. Even Cougar. They had trimmed his hair but it had regrown somehow. No one was sure how but it'd be amusement until it was fixed.

The warden walked out. "There's a tour by the higher ups coming, you maggots. Be on your best behavior or suffer for it."

One of the other cons snorted. "What're you going to do? Most of us were trained how to hold off torture and you're not that good at it."

The warden stomped off again. He'd have to stop whatever problem plan this was in the making.


Xander looked at the wish demon he was having over for lunch. "Surely the Pentagon has a fully unredacted copy of their records."

"Teams like that they shred, Xander." She sipped her water. "I wish it were so but that won't happen. So how are you going to help them?"

Xander smiled. "What about on the nearby realms?"

"Nope. They don't exist on the three nearest." Xander grimaced. "The further out the more changes as you know." He nodded. "Though there's one where they're working on Atlantis."

"Huh." He considered it. "Mirror?"

"Not admissible."

"Former members?"

"Mostly dead. There's a few but the army would shut them up."

Xander considered it. "Are the ones sending them in debt to anyone?"

"Two of the usual seven. Them going on those missions would look worse on them, even though they were ordered. The higher ups would never allow that to get out because it'd dirty the uniform and a government agency."

"Okay, then how should I use that poker debt to help them?"

"You can wish them to be found innocent."

"I'm pretty sure they're not the only ones there in that situation."

"No but they can work on it from the outside." She looked toward that jail then smiled. "The warden's a possible stressor point. They put him in there on purpose." Xander grinned. "It wouldn't help all of them. He could conveniently get loudly drunk near a reporter. They'd both probably get dead for it."

Xander considered it then sighed. "They're going to hate me for this." He got up to pull a file out of storage, bringing it back to hand to her.

She read it over, frowning. "How would this help?"

"Look at who handled it."

She looked. "Before they got their geek but that's nasty. How did you get that?"

"It was part of a poker debt. I wanted physical files on anyone who I might have to save for the next ten years. That was three years ago. I'm fairly certain that's the only one on that group."

"It'd still look worse on the team for doing the job they were ordered to do. Unfortunately. If I had known that I would've rewarded them a few years ago." She put it on the table. "I'll see what I can come up with. That file proves I owe them a few."

"Actually, a few others owe them a few." He opened it to point. "That's near that temple to D'Hoffryn." She looked and gasped, staring at him. He nodded. "Which means they saved the last known physical power point to him and a few others down here."

She looked up and her boss appeared, reading over that file. "That is true," D'Hoffryn agreed. "I would owe them for that. I can get them out of there."

"They're not the only ones unjustly imprisoned," the vengeance demon said. "That whole prison yanks on me each time I look that way."

D'Hoffryn stared at his vengeance demon over unjust punishments, grimacing. He checked that prison, sneering. "That's not uncommon but it's very wrong. I will work on it, Harris, but you must give up the last ball of power Anya held."

Xander stared at him. "It's in the safe."

"It's still around. It could be used to call her back."

Xander shook his head. "She made it while she was human, D'Hoffryn." He got up to get it, letting him test it. The vengeance demon slumped. "Her power center's remains are in there too but it can't be used to pull her back."

"You have a power center?" he demanded.

"I have like seven," he shot back with a grin. "You wondered what happened to Scotty's? Poker." The head vengeance demon growled. Xander led him to the special safe of mystical things. He laid out the seven of them, making the other vengeance demon moan as she touched one. He looked at her. "That was left to me in his will. His whole collection was left to me in his will. Because he knew I could keep it safe."

"I could use that one," D'Hoffryn said with a point. "The world could use them back."

"Yeah but the only people you could appoint over it would be psycho," Xander said dryly. "The world doesn't need a psychotic vengeance demon over evil plans. Otherwise I would've recommended Willow for it."

"She would've been good at it too," he agreed. He touched it, sensing the ones it would call out to. "You're right, they're not good enough for it."

Xander nodded. "Some day I may put that one on just to stop some of them." The head vengeance demon choked and spluttered. Xander grinned. "It'd help stop the bad ideas."

"No, that's a fairy's job," the lower vengeance demon quipped. Xander held up that power center. "Oh, dear. We wondered what had happened to him."

Xander looked at her then grinned. "He wasn't *great* in bed but good enough. It made him fall. Sure solved some of my problems too. It was a bet too. He bet me I couldn't make him fall." He shrugged. "All it took was fairly decent orgasms."

D'Hoffryn looked in the safe then at his pain in the horns. "How do you do that?"

Xander shrugged but grinned. "Just my charming nature?"

"Apparently too charming." He stared at them then sighed. "I will repay that debt to the ones that saved my temple. And others if possible because that sort of hell isn't good for humanity either. It will cause stress that will get us more work."

Xander laid a hand on his arm, showing him something. "You might send Anya's successor that way. He drugs them so they can't call out. He knows enough to know about your people and that will cause hell to break loose if it's not carefully managed."

"Thank you for that service." He and his vengeance demon left, though she took her sandwich with her. Xander closed up the safe again.

"What's a power center?" James asked.

Xander jumped. "I forgot you were here." James was like his house's friendly poltergeist at times. He was mostly silent but Xander woke up to things having been moved on him, dishes mysteriously washed, and sometimes there was even groceries he hadn't bought in the fridge. "A power center is what appoints someone to a certain type of demonic job. It's basically like the crown naming you the queen or king of that job."

"So how did you get some?"

"Most of those I inherited from someone who wanted them out of D'Hoffryn's hands." He grinned. "A few I won at poker."

"You play poker with some really interesting people, Harris."

"Want to go play kitten poker with me tonight?"



"I... Yeah, I probably should so you're safe." Xander shrugged, walking back to the kitchen to get back to lunch. James followed, making his own sandwich so he could sit down. "What's a vengeance demon?"

"It's a type of wish demon. My ex Anya had been one for over a thousand years. She was the vengeance demon over scorned women. Abused and hurt women called on her to punish the men who hurt them. And I guess a few women as well." He ate a bite of sandwich. "She got a lot of fun using the wishes so the people were punished."

"So women who get beat call on her to get out of it?" Xander nodded. "Must've helped before the laws helped 'em."

"The laws helped some but not all can take the help. A lot of them can't do it even with the laws helping them. Laws also aren't everywhere."

"Point. I've seen it in the news." He nibbled while he thought. "So if they wished their guys hurt for hurting them she'd have to do it?"

"If the ladies were specific she did it in accordance with the wish. If they weren't all that specific she got to be creative."

"That sounds gross."

"Yeah, Anya was *real* creative at times. Remember watching the movie _Tremors_? Someone turned her ex boyfriend into that in Sunnydale. He tried to eat her and me because we had been on a date."


"Yup. One she turned into a nest of spiders that was slowly eating the woman he had been cheating on the wishing girlfriend with. Of course, that was his legal wife, but possession being nine-tenths of the law and all that."

James blinked. "That's warped."

"Yeah, sometimes. It's like natural laws in some ways."

"Very warped." He dug in again. "What was that one over?"

"Unjust punishments."

"See if Coulson can use some of those teams to go against HYDRA. He's down people and if they're like that one team you were helping, they're used to handling weird and wrong things in the field. HYDRA shouldn't be too much worse."

"It's not a bad idea." He sent that message to Bobbi's phone. She sent back a 'he thinks it might be an interesting plan'. "She likes it."

"That's a good thing for them." He finished his sandwich. "No clients today?"

"Most of the time they just show up after things have went wrong."

"That's gotta help." He walked off thinking about that. A notecard floated down in front of him. He picked it up, reading the invitation to test for a vengeance demon job. "No, thank you anyway," he called, looking up at the ceiling. "I can't be that mean." He walked off texting Steve to talk to him. Steve called so he didn't have to type back. It was like therapy that helped him go over all the HYDRA stuff.

In the kitchen, Xander grinned at the ceiling. "Thanks," he mouthed. "It'll help him a lot to talk about that stuff." He finished his lunch and got seconds then went to the office to make some notes. These would be hidden from everyone.


Bobbi Morse knocked on the office door, leaning in. "Xander had an idea, Coulson."

He put down his pen. "Another battle or are others trying to reopen Sunnydale?"

"Someone out there is still trying but everyone's ignoring him since the last one so hot on it ended up sacrificing some of their coworkers over the hellmouth." She stepped in and closed the door. "The prison that team's presently in waiting on their rigged trial is full of teams who were in the same circumstance. They did their job and the Army got embarrassed. He suggested they're the sort of team that could probably react against HYDRA without a whole lot of oversight."

He considered it. "That might work but I'm not sure we could get them past General Talbot. He's still convinced we're traitors as well."

"He just wants the weapons, Coulson. We both know that."

"We do. Has he made a move against Harris?"

"I don't think Talbot wants to die by demon apocalypse battle either." She smiled. "If so, Xander's good at baffling him with bullshit. He handled it when they went after a slayer to test on. Mostly by blowing them up. He got cleared of those charges since they had one of the tiny ones that the FBI couldn't or wouldn't go save."

"I forgot about that incident." He considered it. "I can definitely see using those teams that way. I'll see if I can find a way to get them past Talbot."

"For all I care, let Talbot take down one or two of the bases, boss. Let's see how he likes it."

"Too dangerous. They could have anything there."

She smiled. "I know." She strolled off.

He smirked at her back. "That's a bit evil, Agent Morse," he called after her. But it was a good idea. It might take out some innocent soldiers though. He considered it then decided maybe a test base would be all right. One they knew didn't have a lot of problems or tactical points. Maybe one that had hostages. That would keep them busy for a few days.


Steve Rogers was let into the meeting room at the White House, nodding at the people in there. "You wanted to see me, sir?" He sat down.

"General Talbot is having a fit about the former SHIELD people still being out of jail."

"I believe, and I'm not alone in this belief, that he's only in it to get the speciality weapons that were developed. That if they had wanted to handle the mess that it had to become that they wouldn't have gone after the clearly untainted agents while letting some with obvious taints go."

"That's very political of you," the president said.

Steve nodded. "I've seen a few cases where the general let people who were obviously HYDRA, had the logo tattooed on their bodies, get out of jail free. I've also seen him going after clear agents who have no way that they're tainted. Including me."

"You wouldn't come in for questioning," Talbot sneered.

Steve gave him a look. "It's not like I could have been HYDRA. I helped take them down the first time. I helped take them down this time."

"The most heroic actions make you look less guilty," Talbot sneered back.

"Yes, but I'm not hiding things. Beyond that, I answered to those I was supposed to answer to. You are not in my chain of command. Should you end up there, I'll make sure I retire." The general sneered. Steve looked at the president. "Sir, what did you want to discuss about the search for HYDRA's people?"

"Are there still SHIELD agents working?" the president asked.

"Yes. I'm told there's a few who have signed on to other agencies." He smiled slightly. "Including a few I know."

"Is Agent Phil Coulson one?" the president asked.

"I have no idea what he's doing, sir. He hasn't asked me to participate in any raids or anything of the like. I thought he was still dead until about a month before the congressional hearing with Mr. Harris."

"No one told you?"

"No, sir, Nick Fury did not, and if he had been in front of me when I found out he would've eaten his cigar."

"I can't blame you there. Do his former agents know?"

"He was lucky to survive them finding out, sir."

"Wonderful. How did he survive?"

"Something about a serum and something Nick Fury did to him. I'm not certain on the details. It was classified higher than he felt comfortable sharing with us."

The president nodded. "That makes sense. We always called Coulson his good left hand."

"I know he was running a special response team that handled things like the clean up after the London battle."

"That was him!" the president said, slapping the table. "That explains a lot of things about that. For a while I thought it was Harris." He grimaced. "Okay, that's putting a lot of things into perspective. How were they doing that?"

"Plane, sir. Now grounded from what I've been told."

"Ah." He nodded. "That makes so much sense." He looked at the general and the general's second-in-command. Then he looked at Steve again. "Someone suggested that there is a special military prison that holds people who could help weed down HYDRA's menace."

"The one that holds the teams that got arrested to cover up that their commanders sent them on crappy missions that they thought would embarrass them?" Steve asked. "Yes, I'm aware of it and I'm hoping that the latest team put in there is exonerated."

"What team?" Talbot demanded.

"The one that the arms dealer tried to kill to cover up his plans so they ran Max into the ground," Steve told him. "Colonel Clay's team."

"They got those kids killed!"

Steve turned to look at him. "The team rescued those children from the compound that their higher ups were about to bomb. Max had them there to make it a great target for them. They put the kids on the same chopper that was supposed to take them home, and Max blew it up thinking it was the team." Talbot's second shuddered. "That wasn't their fault. That was Max's fault, and the dirty commanders above them that make me ashamed we wear the same uniform's fault." He sneered at him. "The same as you have been, General."

"*Captain*, I believe that's a bad statement," he sneered back.

"You can think that but I can guarantee I'll go be Captain England if you try to push your bad ideas toward me. I'm sure they'd be happy to house me."

"Enough," the president said. "Rogers, they are not to come near you."

"Yet, two of his goons tried to attack me in the park last week to capture me or take samples from me. Thankfully they went down and stayed down so I didn't have to kill them. That way they can face justice."

"I said enough," the president sighed.

"Sorry, sir. Strong emotions and all that."

Someone thumped open the door and stomped in. "Sorry to intrude," Clint said, dropping someone at the president's feet. "Sir, that one was restarting the program that tried to torture demons and slayers." He handed over the information. "I doubt his boss would be of any help. The rest of his group is in the van in the driveway." He stepped back. The guy on the ground groaned so Clint kicked him to knock him back out. "The papers were signed by General Talbot, sir."

The president looked it over. "You have convenient timing, Agent Barton."

"No, sir, I've been dealing with this all night. No other agency wanted to deal with this. They seemed to think they had presidential authority."

"No, I didn't agree to that." He looked at Talbot. "You're in deep if this is all true."

"It can't be. I'd never torture anyone."

Clint snorted, staring at him. "This started because one came for Agent Romanoff at Mr. Harris' house. She was over sparring with him to help another agent, a Brit one."

The president licked his lips. "That team?"

"Sir, they stepped up with weapons to take out Mr. Harris," Clint said dryly. "Xander's many things but not nice about that sort of thing." He grinned. "Then he called me to come pick up the mess so Natasha could quit questioning them in his foyer."

The president nodded. "Charming. Is this all you have on them?"

"No, sir. Stark's been hacking all night." He called him. "Stark, me. What more do you have on that group?"

"Sixteen orders, including one signed by the VP, who is a graduate of a fraternity that holds a lot of HYDRA members. Not sure if he's one but if eighty percent of them for the last thirty years are singing the HYDRA theme song then I'm pretty sure we should look at the others. Also, his wife's German and was apparently born on a supposedly abandoned HYDRA base. The same one we found the twins at, Barton. There's six that are seriously warped. Press the blue button on the side and put your phone on display." Clint did that. "Now, external." He did that. "Thank you." He beamed those files to him so he could show them to the president.

"I'll be damned," the president said quietly. He looked back at his guards, who nodded they had seen it and would handle it. He looked at the others. "Why were they after the pretty agent, Mr. Stark?"

"She got something like the serum he did," Clint said with a nod at Steve. "That was part of the records put out there."

One of the guards coughed. "The file on what the Russians did to their trainees, it was horrifying," he told the president. "Including what she was trained to be and do." Clint nodded.

"Thankfully she got free," Steve said. "I'm happy she could make her own choices about that sort of thing."

"Another file," Stark warned, sending that. Clint put it up for them. Steve hopped up, nose flaring as he drew in breath. "Easy, big guy. Don't turn into Thor, Steve."

"I'm not," he growled, glaring at the general.

"He's a turn-coat."

"He fell off a train and got captured," Steve growled. "He was brainwashed. They electrocuted his brain for *decades*. He's still fighting to get half of his memories back. I'll be damned if you try to touch Bucky."

The president held up a hand. "The Joint Chiefs looked at that issue thanks to a well written request and agreed he was a victim, not someone who knowingly turned sides," he said, staring at Talbot. "I'm not really liking how you're handling things, General."

"Sir," he started.

The president held up a hand. "Mr. Stark, are there other files?"

"Ten," he said. "Not that bad, just things like materials orders that potentially show torture. Or a lot of dental work." He sent those for Clint's phone to display.

"My battery's at the last bar," Clint warned.

"Nearly done," Stark agreed.

The president nodded. "General Talbot, you're being relieved of duty and command. Go back to the Pentagon and wait for the decision of the Joint Chiefs. Captain, sit. Please?" He sat down but he was nearly vibrating in anger. "We'll work all that out. Guards, go get the people Agent Barton nicely brought us."

"They're already in our holding cells, sir," one reported. "As soon as he pulled up the outer guards gathered them and helped him drag that one in." Clint grinned. "Did any escape you up there, Barton?"

"Two. They didn't escape from Harris." Clint shifted his weight as his phone went dead. It got put into his front pants pocket. "We're a bit concerned about the cannibal imps that Xander walked off mumbling about them meeting; apparently they had been at a battle a few years back."

Steve's phone beeped. "That's Stark." He opened the text message. "Stark said, and I quote, 'Harris said to say that you don't send a consecrated virgin into a situation where they'll be sacrificed' and 'it's clear that one of the higher ups in that unit is into some heavy rituals that are a very bad idea'." He looked up. "I have his number if you want me to clarify that."

"Well?" the president asked the general's aide. "Is that true?"

"Sir," he said, starting to sweat.

"Shut up," Talbot ordered.

"No, I want him to speak," the president said. "Strip the shirt off, Corporal." The guy shook his head but the guards moved to strip it off him. They handcuffed Talbot when he tried to interfere. Clint got out of the way, taking Steve's phone to take pictures of the marks to send to Xander. He sent back what they were for. The president took the phone to look at that message, grimacing. "Wonderful," he said. He handed the phone back to the owner. "What deal did you make?" he asked coolly.

"To take down HYDRA," he sneered back.

"HYDRA probably has others that have made deals," Clint said with a shrug. "Then again, there's also the matter of off-world arms dealers that could be in contact with them. We're not sure if the wars they're supplying are just or not."

"Would that matter?" the president asked.

"If they're fighting against a dictator, yes," Clint said. "If their leader is Nero or Caligula? Sure is to me."

"That I can agree with," Steve said. "I've never asked any about those sort of things. There's almost no way I can help them and me knowing won't make it any better. If they want me to help them, they'll come to me."

The president nodded. Clint grinned at him. "One asked me my opinion on sniper rifles," he said. "They were taking down a leader that was sacrificing all their eggs to supposedly call down a higher demon. I taught her how to shoot it too."

Steve nodded. "I'd do that. Or offer to come do it for her."

The president nodded, tapping the table. "Yeah, I probably would too in that case." He sighed. Another text came in. "Oh, more than one made the deal. A list of names courtesy of the peaceful demon kitten poker community here in DC. I see three of his top people and one from another group."

Clint looked then took the phone to text to Stark about telling Coulson. He said he had. "That way if he's out and about someone higher can stop him before he gets a bright idea." He handed Steve the phone back. Steve grinned. "By the way, that one didn't die. We managed to keep all the attacking ones from dying from their stupidity. So no sacrifice in a battle." The guy in custody started to kick and struggle. Clint hit him to knock him out. "Better."

"All you freaks need to go away anyway," Talbot sneered, stomping off.

Clint grinned and waved at his back. "I'm a perfectly normal guy. Just ask the circus I trained in." He looked at Steve, sitting down. "Make the play's call, Cap."

"I've got a few ideas. Is Xander's house okay?"

"Yeah. A few singe marks but otherwise they're fine. The one he's helping most often was there to help defeat the second attempt on the back door. Then some weird things happened like a portable swamp. Andrew was reading Harry Potter apparently." He grinned. "Then the rest of the protections came up. I took James with me to the tower. Natasha helped to make sure he was safe. She was about to chew on someone instead of sneering. I actually thought she was going to rip one's throat out with her teeth."

Steve nodded. "It's bad when she doesn't reach for a weapon."

"Xander sure did. James took the higher one from him and made him use the smaller weapon against them."

The president shook his head. "This is a mess, boys. It has to be cleaned up."

"Harris did offer some cannibal imps," Clint said.

The president stared at him. "I saw the video of that battle, Barton. I never want to see a furry little ball of teeth gnaw their way *out* of someone after they had crawled inside him again."

"Agreed," Steve said, covering his mouth for a second. "Sorry."

The president smirked at him. "I asked the general that wouldn't quit throwing up if he was pregnant, Captain. It should turn your stomach."

"Then I'm glad I can only imagine it." He got up. "Permission to go handle this situation, sir?"

"Granted. Send Coulson to me so we can chat, boys."

Clint sent someone a text message from Steve's phone. "I know an agent who knows where he is, sir. Neither of us are working for him." He handed back the phone and saluted then left. Steve saluted and followed.

The president looked at the guards. "I'm guessing someone got very disappointed that they found out the hard way that he was alive."

"Probably, sir. I would be pissed too. Especially since rumors had him being Barton's handler."


Xander looked up from cleaning his present gun, smiling at the woman that paused in front of him. "Hey, pretty one."

"Xander," Bobbi said. She sat next to him on the front step. "They've been stopped."

"There's always another asshole, Bobbi. You know that." He went back to cleaning. "Any new news?"

"Two things. The president asked to speak to Coulson."

"Have fun in DC."

"Not really." She shoulder nudged him. "Are you okay?"

"Bit of a temper," he admitted, then smiled at her. "But I'm sure those other assholes are going to show up later to help me solve it."

"They never help you solve it, they only make it worse. Don't you nag me and Clint about our tempers?"

"Not Clint." She swatted him. He grinned at her. "I'm in control. My temper's fine. It's just a bit out there because I had to use some of my explosive pets."

"Idiots do tend to make you do things you hate to prove them wrong," she agreed. "You sure you're going to be okay? You're here alone."

He snorted, grinning at her. "I'm good, Bobbi. Remember the first time you saw me?" She shuddered, curling up some. "I can go back there still."

"Don't unless you have to. The neighbors would be horrified to find you fighting nearly naked with artillery, Xander." She stood up. "Be safe. Want to give me something to teach Skye with?"

"Has she even found her boundaries?"


"How can she think she'll be effective in a battle if she doesn't do that?"

"She creates earthquakes."

Xander shrugged. "If she goes to someone like the coven or Andrew, they can probably help her find a place where that sort of thing might be helpful. If she doesn't know how much energy she's using and what her overuse limit is, she's of no tactical use with those powers. That leaves just her being a normal agent like you and Clint, and from what I've seen she's not like you or Clint."

"No, not yet," she admitted. "I'll tell her that."

"It's the same thing we tell witches who want to hunt."

"I can definitely share that." She patted him on the head before walking off again.

Xander went back to polishing his present gun, putting it up after a few minutes so he could pull another one to clean. A local police officer cruised by so he waved but didn't look up. The officer stomped over a few minutes later. "I just had to defeat more people who hated me for being me, and for helping former SHIELD agents who weren't bad." He glanced up, shrugging some. "Some of your folk got to clean them up."

"Is that why you think you should be cleaning guns on your front step?"

"Yup. I don't want to let them get near the house. It'd profane it." He grinned while pointing. "That one is one of them but he escaped earlier. I'm pretty sure he's got buddies coming to prove his useless point moot with more force. You're going to be lucky if I don't have to call in to bring a mop next time."

The officer called that in, stepping off to the sidewalk to look at that threat. He was trying to leave. He hung up his phone and looked at Xander. "You need to calm down."

"Sure. They leave me alone I'll gladly do that. They're not going to leave me alone though." A car slowed as it came up the street, Xander watching it. "Officer, move," he ordered, restoring his gun quickly. The guys in the car drove off in a squeal of tires. "Fuck me. That's a group from an African country. One of them was a former presidential guard," he muttered, calling that in. "It's Xander. I just saw the former head of Ghana's guard unit in a car doing a drive by of my house." He listened. "There's an officer here and no, I'm not going to let them be threatened. He's nicely probably got a life he doesn't need to risk to them being pissy." He handed over the phone. "That's even worse than US agents being dicks."

"This is Officer Mayhugh," he said. He listened to the precise orders. "I can do that, sir. Mr. Harris, are any of your clients here?"

"No, none of my therapy clients are here. I'm a therapist for agents, and I'm former Council," he said at the odd look he got. The officer winced and said that. Xander glared at the threat. Who turned and ran off while calling someone. Xander threw something at his head, hitting him hard enough to knock him down. Xander strolled after him to pick him up. "Hi, let's go talk about your mealy minded ideas so I don't have to deal with them and Ghana's people." He hauled him off, slightly growling now. He took his phone as he walked past the officer.

"I'm going to go talk to this one. If you want to hangout out here, go ahead. We'll come back in a bit so you can arrest him." He hauled the guy inside and up to the attic, where he had things that a former client had needed to be punished with. Xander had spent six months learning from someone to help that client and another one later on. Now, he'd use it for other reasons. A set of chains being applied, and the guy crying, Xander taking off his shirt, and then he grabbed a riding crop. "So, let's talk."

The officer outside looked up at the wailing going on. "I have no idea what he's doing and I'm not going to ask," he decided, calling that in to his boss. His boss could ask if he wanted to know. His boss told him how Xander worked and with who, so he probably had a clue what to do to make agents cry. The officer watched that same car cruise past, taking a picture of them with his phone to send in. Just in case. When the car came back for a third time, they hopped out. Upstairs, a window opened and a 'whoom' went off right before the car blew up. The ones that had gotten out ran for their lives. The officer chased, it was his job; he'd deal with the use of artillery in his city later.


Xander looked up as the lady walked up to where he was sitting in the police station. "Lady MacBeth," he said dryly.

"Shut up, Harris." She looked at the officers. "Is he under arrest?"

"He's in protective custody before we have to watch him blow up more people, ma'am. Are you his bodyguard?"

"This is the former second-in-command at SHIELD," Xander said. "Now she works for Stark."

"Ah," a few said, nodding.

She smiled. "It's a lot less hectic." She stared at Xander. "Are you in trouble?"

"I'm pouty; I had to use a few pets. People from Ghana showed up, Hill."

"Wonderful," she said dryly, crossing her arms over her chest. "Why?"

"Congress asked to see what had happened that they were covering up."

"Are you safe?"

He nodded. "I'll be fine. The last of the agents from earlier is hopefully out of surgery now and in handcuffs."

She blinked a few times. "What did you do to him?"

"We had a talk with the stuff I learned how to do for Gregorivich."

"Eww." She winced. "Is he expected to live?"

"Miserably," an officer said then cleared his throat. "Agents need that?"

"That depends on the agent," Xander said. "Some need to feel that they're not the only sane person. Some need to be absolved of guilty feelings. Some need to spar to talk. I have one I had to hire hookers to help him and slowly move him back so he learned to talk without the sexual stimulus from outside himself. Some I spar with, some need a hug."

"That makes more sense," the one doing the report at the next desk said. "There's been incidences where I really needed a hug too." Xander smiled at him. "Ms. Hill, we really would like to have him somewhere safer but we're also aware he has a lot of weapons at his house for many reasons." He stared at her. "Could you find someone who could watch over him for you and us?"

"I probably can, yes."

"Thank you. If you can guarantee he's got someone to help him so he does normal human things again, you can take him home."

"I can do that," she promised. She helped Xander up, walking him out to her car. "How much artillery did you have to use?" she asked quietly.

"Three things." He grinned. "Not nearly enough."

"Thankfully Barton's nearly back in the city," she said.

"And he'll be busy." Xander stared at her. "I'm good with a check-in system, Hill. You know that."

"No, you're not." She got him into the car, watching as he got in before she checked for bombs or new additions to the car. Then she got in to drive him home. She called Barton once he had went inside. "It's Hill. Harris had to yet again defend himself. No, after that, Barton. Locals wanted him to have a sitter. Do you want that?" She smirked. "No, if I left Barnes here with him, they might go out as a strike team. He's guarding Stark and Potts instead." She listened. "That's fine. I can coordinate with them. I'm here until someone comes to relieve me." She hung up, walking up to the door. It was locked. She picked the lock and walked in, ducking the net that automatically came out as a defense. "Harris," she said patiently. She couldn't avoid the three darts with some substance to knock her out.

Xander came off the stairs. "Sorry, Hill, but this is normal guy work. Not agent work." He picked her up, taking her to his safe room to put her in there. It'd keep her safe if someone broke in. Even if they set the house on fire this room would survive. Then he went back to gathering things he'd need and want. He could solve at least one of the problems easily enough. He was at his car when he heard a voice say 'There's this concept of teamwork, Harris'. He turned to look at Stark. "Wouldn't know. But thanks for the lesson." He grinned. "Shouldn't you be safely somewhere else?"

"Pepper and I are pretty able to protect ourselves from this."

"I'm not handling Talbot's remaining idiots, Stark. I'm handling the ones from Ghana." Stark winced. "I'm going to talk to a few ex's actually." He grinned. "You should probably be safe. Hill's in my safe room but there's no way for her to get out of there or you to get in without my help or it'll set off some lethal protections. And she's got a note beside her saying that." He opened his car door. "You should probably go pretend to need the guards. It makes them feel better to be needed." He slid in but Stark came over to pull him out. "Let go," he said patiently.

"No. You can come talk to the fussing ones about what you wanted to do. That way they know. And let Hill out. She'll get evil."

Xander looked at him. "No she won't. She might try to get a bit mean, but I've seen evil. She's not near there." He sighed. "You guys don't need my help with that problem. And besides, most of my ex's would never dream of touching me. If they do, I'll deal with them."

"Fuck no, fuck no, fuck no," was repeated over and over as Clint walked up the street. "Your dating pity party is not a great idea, even against the assholes who hate you for saving their asses. The last time you went to them, a government needed to change hands really quickly." He grabbed the two bags, wincing at the weight of one. "Weapons are good." He hauled Xander off, making Stark grin. "Hill won't be able to get out of there, Stark. It's got magical and mundane protections. Even if they burn the house she's safe."

Stark locked up the car and went to his own to go back to the tower. Someone had the heroic one well in hand.


Clint looked at James as he walked Xander into the tower's common area, handing him Xander. He set the weapons bag on the coffee table to look inside, whistling at what he saw. He looked at his therapist. "Were you going to start a one-guy war?"

"Pretty much if that's what it took to get Ghana away from me." Xander slid off James' lap. "Sorry."

"It's okay," James said, standing up to look inside the weapons bag. "How did you do that?"

"It's magic," Clint said dryly. He pulled out the more minor things. He heard a deep moan and grinned back at Natasha. "Xander was going to go handle the guys from Ghana that tried to take him out earlier."

"I am that good," Xander said dryly, staring at him.

Clint grinned. "Why take her fun, Xander?"

"It's my fun. They want to kill me because those senators asked."

"So? Still Natasha's fun if she wants it to be. You can't deny a lady those sort of treats." He pulled out a battle axe, staring at it. "Not your new baby, so you were thinking it'd be broken?"

"They're human, I don't need a blessed or a silver spiked blade," Xander said with a shrug.

"That's a battle axe," James said, staring at Xander for a minute. "You can't use that against guns."

"The hell I can't," Xander said dryly, smirking at him. "It wouldn't be the first time. Really."

"Yeah, don't remind me," Clint ordered. He got down to the guns, laying them out on the couch in order. "Nice choices, all one caliber, three boxes of bullets." He put them beside them. "Spare, pre-loaded clips." He put those down too. Then he pulled out a piece of weapon he wasn't sure about. "Is this a laser cannon?" he demanded, looking it over.

"Um...yeah, it is. Andrew made it for my birthday a few years back." He took it to check over and turn off. "That wasn't the safety, Clint." Stark came off the elevator with Pepper. "Sorry, Clint dragged me."

Stark looked at what he was holding, taking it to look over. "That's a laser cannon."

Xander took it back. "That's not the safety, Stark."

"That's fine. I want to test this. Who made it for you?" he asked as he walked off.

"Andrew did for my birthday. Which means I'd like it back."

"Let me see how strong it is," Stark called, heading for his weapons testing area. A few minutes later the rest of them heard an alarm going off and Stark came off the elevator nodding. "Damn strong. Wow. I need to see if Andrew has more ideas like this."

"Andrew's had a lot of ideas. Now he's a good guy though." He took the laser cannon back to look over. Then he took the one from Clint's hand. "Sorry, poker debt. It's in a frozen state until someone human touches it." He reset that holding.

Clint stared at him before sighing. "Damn I need to join your kitten poker circuit." Xander smiled at him. He put on his shooting gloves and took the bomb back to look over. It restarted but Stark snatched it to disarm. "Thanks. I don't think we need that sort of international incident."

"That was a backup plan," Xander defended.

Clint stared at him. "You're a bit scary, Xander. Really."

Xander blew a kiss. "Thank you, Clint. That's the sweetest thing anyone's said to me in years since a three-year-old slayer told me that."

"You're comparing me to a three-year-old girl?" Clint asked, smirking back.

"Well, a slayer so a bit more than average. The slayer spirit did taint her with the ideas about bad things. Like you, she learned I had my reasons when I become scary." He gave him a pointed look.

"Which means I'm probably getting to the good weapons," Clint decided, digging in there again. He handed something else to Stark and then handed one to Xander, who disarmed it. "Thank you both."

"I thought I had reset the freezing spell. So someone's screwing with it. There's another one in there." He got up to find it and turned it off. It had a key. Stark snatched it to look over and huffed. Xander shrugged. "The little sister to that one closed a portal in Portland once."

"Shut up, Xander," Stark said. "How much of your armory is this?"

"Less than a tenth," James said. He looked at Xander. "Does no one consider you scary until you have to do something overcompensating that way?"

"Pretty much. The slayers decided I was their normal guy, and that's why the spell didn't take me." He shrugged.

"First, you're not normal," Stark said sarcastically. "Combat does that to you. Secondly, if you were like every other guy, the demon poker circuits wouldn't let you come play with them. They don't let other humans just jump into a game if they bring in stuff to bet with."

"Kittens," Clint said.

"Kittens then." Stark stared at him. "Third, this is our sort of job, not yours."

"No, Ghana's my sort of problem. They're after me because Congress asked to see that film."

"Which means they're mealy minded, weak willed males," Natasha said casually from her seat.

"That's usually women's work to solve," Pepper said with a smile for her then Xander.

"I'd never let a woman fight all her own battles. I'm used to ones that wouldn't admit they needed help even if they were half dead so I usually just step in to help them even if they complain. Afterward I usually get nagged like I am now."

"If someone's bothering the spell work on these, could they be bothering the ones at the house?" Clint asked. "Like on the safe room you stashed Hill in?"

"No. I inscribed those myself."

"You don't do magic," Clint said, staring him down.

"Anyone can inscribe runes then I had Andrew power them."

"Oh, okay. Andrew probably won't screw with those then." Xander shook his head. "Can others screw with them on him?"

"No. Only Willow could and she's still trapped in the spell to call the slayers back."

"Your contacts checked?" Natasha asked. Xander nodded. "That's useful of them. Could she get free by pulling power from this realm?"

"No, they said it's a web and she's got to non-magically get herself free."

"That's fine. A good consideration to have," Pepper said, smiling at him. Xander grinned back. "You can't really take out the general's people."

"I'm not going to deal with them. They're not really upsetting me at the moment. The hit teams from Ghana I was going to deal with." She winced. "I'm more than capable of that. I've had to do worse in the past."

"Let agents do that," Pepper said.

Xander snorted, shaking his head. "They wouldn't care. They mostly see me as slightly in their way. They argue with me about doing anything until something happens and they need me."

"They do," Clint said. "Bobbi found one that was a threat from a group of agents for not taking out the demon in Hawaii that was warning them about that chemical spill."

"I wondered what happened to that. I was going to turn it over to their internal affairs people. Not that they'd do anything but at least it'd be on file."

"Bobbi had it handed to someone in another agency who bragged to their director that his agents were filthy." Clint grinned. "It's politics down there."

"I know but I hate politics." He sat down with a sigh. "I really can handle the hit teams out for me. Really. You guys are busy handling General Talbot's BS."

James shook his head. "I'm not handling anything and I'm pretty sure I can do that better than you can."

Xander patted him on the metallic arm. "I'm sure you could but I'm scarily creative and they're coming after me. Not you, James. It's my fight."

"I think Natasha was going to call dibs on it," Stark said, looking at her.

"I would like to see such units disbanded. It does look very bad on their country," she said dryly. She smiled at Pepper. "Could some preliminary PR work help that?"

"I told a few reporters," Xander told her. "Again, not caring because I'm not presently doing anything noteworthy. If I was a drunken starlette maybe but I'm not."

"The world needs fewer of them anyway," Clint said. "I'm just as much a target as you because they've seen me there, Xander."

Xander stared at him. "Clint, has it passed your attention that there's fandom conventions to you guys? That young kids dress up as you to honor all that you've done? Especially since all the SHIELD files became open, they've been squealing over you for weeks online." Clint blushed as he winced, shaking his head. "You should see some. There's some that change your uniform into stripper gear, some that stay true to it. A few who make their own versions and carry real bows. Archery's really picked up thanks to you." Clint walked off blushing brighter. "Sorry!" he called after him.

Stark shook his head but sighed. "I knew about the conventions. Watching the ones that go as Captain America are the most fun. That and the ones who create knock-offs of my suit out of things." He looked at Pepper, who smiled at him. "Thanks, Pepper."

"You're welcome. You're speaking at one in a few weeks. Clint, did you want me to arrange for you to go to one of them so you can answer questions?"

"Please don't," floated out of the bathroom. "I'll freeze in front of them."

Natasha giggled, giving them all a smug look. "I went to the one in New Jersey a few months back. The children were very nice. Even the middle-aged ones were nice. Though almost none of them recognized me." She looked at Xander.

"One of my clients was there with his little sister so he could threaten her boyfriend but it was driving him nuts so I showed up to talk to him."

"That's charming." She smiled at Stark. "The kids will love hearing from you. Remember to let them ask you questions instead of what you did at the expo." Stark walked off with the bombs, sighing. She got up to stop Xander from repacking things, taking the weapons bag with her to the vault. "We can use that later, Xander. For now, sit and rest. James can help you plan your assault if he wishes."

Xander rolled his eyes, looking at James. "And that sort of womanly nagging is why I'm mostly gay now."

James burst out laughing. "I can see why if you get nagged like that often."

"I do seem to yes," he said dryly, glaring at Natasha when she came back.

She smiled. "You need the nagging before you're of no use to your clients because you're dead."

"If the hit teams come here, I'm going to be just as dead, dear."

"No you won't. We would help you defend yourself." She went into the kitchen. "Clint, should I find pictures of the convention I went to?" she called as she walked past the bathroom doorway.

"No thank you." He came out, looking at Xander. "You're not being nagged like the slayers would."

"Bet me. They all thought I was incredibly normal too. Usually right before I had to do something they'd scream about to help them."

"Yeah, but we're not like that. None of us are normal and I know you're not. You do things like hoard artillery." He smiled. "Sorry but not going to make us let you handle it, Xander. And don't you even try to gas us to escape. The general's people will show up then."

"Probably true, which I'd never do anyway. The stuff I use would react poorly to the serum at least James was given." He got comfortable.

James shook his head. "How would you know?"

"It made Steve puke for six days straight," Xander said.

"Oh, that's what did that," Natasha said.


"I would like to know how you make those," she said. Xander grinned at her, shaking his head. "That way someone else could restock in case something happens to you like a broken arm?"

"No. Sorry."

"I could use such things to save Clint sometimes."


"Any of the other such recipes I could try out?"

"You'd need to find demon byproducts."

"That may be harder," she agreed. "Though I have been wondering about the poker circuit you play on. Clint's mentioned it a few times."

Xander grinned. "They eat the kittens."

"That's a good warning but I could handle that."

"We can go now if you want."

"No, it will have to wait until a better day," Clint said. "We don't want the ones after you to bother the poker circuit."

"They'd probably capture them," Xander said. "I've only had one I've given over but he was a really bad guy so I paid off a huge poker debt, because they were cheating, with him." James gave him an odd look. "He was a genocidal asshole who wanted to start on all the slayers. Win-win as they say."

"That's still not really right, but practical of you," Natasha said.

"Super bad guys who wear super bad guy suits get super bad things done to them in return," Xander quipped with a shrug.

She stared at him. "Was he ever freed?"

"They loved him so much. He had tried to take out a few clans in lower Asia before they ran him off. There was a hunt order on him anyway. Then I found him threatening my baby slayer I was showing up to check on. Pity." She smirked at him. He grinned back. "I think they still have him. The last I knew they were making him watch all the new birthings as punishment since he hated the thought so much."

"We wondered what happened to Jenris."

"Oh, no, not him. He died. He stepped into the wrong demon's face and got it munched off. No, I was talking about Servender." She sat up, staring at him. He grinned. "He really shouldn't have tried to take out the baby slayers."

Clint came out to stare at him. "That's been a great mystery of the ages. Any others that might've ended up with them? Bobbi wanted to know."

"She can go ask."

"I'll suggest that to her." He walked off shaking his head. "He was the enema bottle of the universe so I'm guessing it's better for humanity."

"His whole semi-group of morons pouted at me for it but the demons offered them sweet deals to follow if they wanted to. They ran for their lives like it'd include butt sex."

Natasha burst out giggling as she walked off. Clint grinned at her then at Xander. "Thanks, she hardly ever does that," he mouthed, making Xander grin back. He went back to making himself a snack, bringing James out a sandwich too. "Looking good with the girlish figure, James." He walked past the duo on the couch to go eat and laugh in private. His ex-wife was so giggling too wherever she had taken the call.


Bobbi Morse walked into Coulson's temporary office, smiling at him. "Clint just called me."

"Are they okay?" he asked, putting down his pen to stare at her. The only reason Clint would've talked to her now, while she was at work, was if it was important. Otherwise she wouldn't have told him about it.

"They are. He stopped Xander from going after the hit teams from Ghana by himself. Hill is locked in his safe room at the house instead of at Stark. I also heard that Xander one had to pay a poker debt with a person."

"Should we try to get them back?" She handed over the tablet she was carrying, which had his files pulled up. He stared then at her. "Seriously?" She smiled and nodded. "That's what happened to Servender?"

"Yup. He said Xander called it a win-win for everyone, and that the demons offered his group of imbeciles deals to go with him if they wanted but they ran, and I quote, like butt sex was offered too."

He smiled, handing back the tablet. "I'm wondering how many others got disposed of that way."

"Xander said that was his only poker debt payoff that way."

"Yes, but others may have done the same thing. Find out."

"I can go to the local poker hall to talk to them. Give me a list." He wrote out a list, handing it over. "I'll be back in a few hours." She strolled off, going to grab one of their cars from the garage. She knew basically where the poker hall was so it wasn't that hard to find. The only time she got lost she asked a panhandling demon but paid him five bucks for it. She strolled in and headed for a table that had demons she knew were in the demonic mafia, their sort ran it. She sat down and smiled. "You guys still have Paul Servender?"

"Why? You want to buy out the rest of his contract? He's still got a few years yet."

"Nah. We just wanted to know what happened to him and a few others. It's like a great mystery." She put the list down in front of him. "Any of those under the same sort of contract?"

He looked at it then nodded. "Could be." He smirked at her. "Who're you, pretty lady?"

"I'm Mockingbird." One of the guys at the other table moaned, staring at her. She grinned back. She grinned at the demonic mafia member again. "Hawkeye wanted to know when he found out about Servender. Made him burst out in giggles. He always called Servender the enema bottle of humanity."

"I'll suggest that punishment to them. They're running out of creative ways to make him suffer for taking out an orphanage."

"Kill him at the end for that," she said, not smiling now. "He deserves it. Anyone who takes out harmless, helpless kids deserves it." The demon smiled at her. "I was one of those once." He patted her on the hand. "So, any of the others being made to cry like babies?"

"Quite a number on the list for threatening us. This one bothered Andrew Wells," he said with a point at a name. "He was taken in for that because Andrew does important things. The knight...."

"He's helping those of us like him. He's our therapist because we can tell him anything. He's probably seen worse."

"Probably," he agreed. "Which is good since most of the protectors of your kind and mine are a bit weird."

"Weird is Skye's not training her new powers."

"Have her go see the coven. They can teach her how to safely figure that out," another demon said. "Or Andrew." He looked over then at the higher demon. "Is the one that was at Columbia the other day on there?"

"No, not yet. Though he is on my list to be dealt with."

She touched his wrist, smiling at him. "If he's our sort of bad guy, tell me he's been handled and how so we can note it into the system? That way I don't worry about someone like that haunting me or Xander?"

"We can do that," he agreed. He wrote out what or who had the few he knew on the list. "This one I know is dead. He stepped into a demon's face about something so it was bitten off and eaten." She shivered. "I believe she hosted her young in his body." He slid the list back. "If you need to make a deal, think of me? I'll set you up with someone nicer who'll use you properly instead of as a slave or concubine."

She kissed him on the cheek. "I can do that. Thank you for your time and your help." She got up and strolled out. She knew she looked excellent in her field suit. There was more than one demon in there staring at her ass. She went back to the base, running into Skye. "It was suggested you see the Devon coven about your new powers. That they could train you in how to find your limits and all you could do with it, but they could arrange for it to be done safely."

"I might. I was going to find that out during battles."

"Then you wear yourself out and become a liability," Bobbi said simply. Skye nodded, walking off researching the coven. She went into the office, sliding the list in front of Coulson. "I'm told there's been a problem person bothering Columbia but they're going to be annoyed at him soon."

He read the list, then stared at her. "Any other happy news?"

"I got offered help to find a good spot for myself if I ever want to take a contract for service." She strolled off.

Melinda May looked over the list, grimacing. "That explains so much in a few cases. Are we going to attempt to get them free?"

"No, I believe justice was served in those cases," he said, making notes and putting that list into a file. He smiled at her. "I would never think about interfering with justice being done for them."

She shuddered. "Still mean." She walked off to consider who else could be gotten rid of that way. She had a few on her personal list that might like their new lives as slaves.


Clint walked past Xander later that afternoon. "Why would a bigger name arms dealer be visiting Columbia University?"

"Maybe he knows someone there and is checking on them," Xander said.

"Not in his file."

"Your files aren't fully useful, Clint. They miss things. They missed both of Sava's kids until they nearly killed them by accident. It definitely made an impression when she blew up that whole station of SHIELD's." He stared at him. "I watched the kids for her because that was a dick move."

"Sava was a bad girl."

"She still is."

"She's dead."

"She's retired to keep her kids safe from guys like Fury. Every once in a while I get a post card from them as they travel. I'm one of the people on to take her kids in if she dies."

Clint blinked at him then wrote that into a text message to someone. "Fully out of the business?" Xander nodded. "Huh. Bobbi said that's better for her and if she's just being a mom then she's safe from her." He went back to wandering around on a security check of the area.

"How old are her girls?" James asked.

"The younger's almost thirteen now and the older's, I want to say, seventeen. I think."

"Is she going to go back once they're out of the house?" James asked.

"No. She's been out too long."

"That makes sense. Sometimes you have to drop back to protect what's important to you." Xander nodded. "How did you know her?"

"We dated. Not officially going steady or anything but casually dated. I used to count on her giving me a discount when I needed something huge I couldn't win at poker before a battle."

Clint came back to stare at him. "You dated Sava?"

"Yeah, casually dated. I didn't have a steady thing but I had a few I dated casually. Lovers that were good when you needed someone to be *there* or to help you calm down after a battle. Did you think I was celibate for that long?"

"No. I thought maybe some of the natives might've offered."

"That would've required marriage for most of them."

"Point." He stared at him. "Who're you dating now?"

"I have a few casual lovers but I'm not steady with anyone. They all know about each other. They pop in on a run-through. One showed up while you were talking to me that one day I was doing the back yard." Clint gaped, staring at him. Xander shrugged but grinned. "He needed lovin's and I'm great at it."

"I... Yeah, you probably are." He walked off shaking his head. "Should we warn him you're in protective custody?"

"No. He's overseas somewhere doing something horrific in the name of the Queen."

Clint shook his head with a sigh. He pulled up a profile to show Natasha, and Stark since he was in there. "He's casually dating him." Natasha gave him an odd look. "He casually dated Sava, who retired fully to keep her kids safe."

"We figured she might have." She handed back the phone and sighed. His file within SHIELD does mention he tends to date on the darker side of life."

"Apparently." They shared a look. "Can you think of any nearby that he might need help from?"

"Not right off the top of my head. I can go ask him about them so he can perhaps call someone if they would be willing to keep him with them. That way he's less edgy here." She went to talk to Xander about that idea. The only two he admitted to having in the local area were horrifying and on her shit list. She'd rather shoot them but them getting a last night of sex first would work for her. It made Xander scowl when she said that but oh well.

James was looking up those names on Natasha's phone. What he saw did not amuse him but at least Steve wasn't that dangerous.


Xander snuck out of the tower, running into Andrew, who was in his costume. "Hey." They hugged briefly, Andrew looking around. "They all know I date badasses, 'Drew. You good?"

"I'm fine. The one we're guarding is okay too." Xander grinned. "You okay?"

"It's like old times. Everyone thinks I'm too normal to handle things." He grimaced but shrugged. "I'll handle it as it comes."

"That's fine. I let the agent sort out of your safe room before she set off your alarms."

"Thanks. I was going to leave her there but she'd probably complicate things. Who're you after?"

"Your last date." He held up a picture.

"Client, not a date." He handed it back. "It was horrific and torturing him, 'Drew. He's not responsible."

"For that stuff, no. Recently though there's been someone doing the same work."

"Not James. Until today he was on my couch working on stuff."

"Huh. I'll look further. Maybe a mimic?"

"Maybe," Xander agreed. "There's a few in the city. I found one impersonating me and kicked him around until he begged for mercy."

"That's cool." He punched him on the arm. "Stark wrote me about my laser cannon." Xander grinned. "I should build more stuff."

"Do it so you're safe. If it wasn't for the guys from Ghana coming after me, then I'd be more worried about that General Talbot guy."

"I heard from him. He's in suspended animation in the office. The janitors are presently bopping him with mop handles I think." Xander laughed, giving him another hug. "Go find a new date, Xander. You're grabby and weird again." He jogged off looking smug.

"Have a good, safe night, 'Drew." He went to the bar on the corner, getting someone in there's attention. They came out of the back room to stare at him. He grinned. "Hey, Cougar." He gave him a hug. "Are you guys totally free?" He nodded. "Excellent. The others?"

"They're working on them," Jake said as he bounded out to hug him. "Thank you for the help."

"You're welcome too, Steve."

"How did you know?"

"Jensen and I got bouncy with each other one weekend at a comic convention." He smirked. "It was fun. We picked up school girls wannabes." He sipped his beer, following them into the back room. "Clay."

"Harris." He stared at him. "Are you okay?"

"I'm going to go fix my problems in a few minutes. I'm just sneaking out of the tower." He waved a hand that way. "Avoiding Clint and Natasha tracking me, all that." He winked and patted something on a wall, disappearing down the old bootlegger's tunnel to the underground and then into another bar, this time a demon bar. It took him to another demon bar and then he could relax more while planning how to be bad.

Clay shook his head. "I think he's weirder than Pooch is." The guys all nodded. He looked at Steve. "We knew. Where is our tech?"

"Helping Stark hack someone important to stop this. We agreed to switch spots so you guys would be protected too." Clay nodded that was good of him and let it go from there. They could handle things easily enough. Not like Steve Rogers was green at anything they'd get up to.


In the tower, Jensen smiled as his 'ears' on the team told him the jig was up. "Took them long enough." He got back to work, Stark shaking his head but smiling. "I found the one who's impersonating the half-tin man out there." He handed that laptop over and got to work on a different one. "They really should stop before he gets mad at them."

"Yes he should before I get mad at them," Stark said as he read. "You want a job, Jensen?"

"Ask me in a few months, after I've seen my sister and niece." He grinned. "They miss me."

"I'm sure they do." He got back to work, nodding at what they were finding. Including that Fury clearly wasn't dead. He was living off a prepaid card to avoid changing currencies since that created paperwork but it still left a small trace. Enough of one to track him with unconfirmed sightings on the underground sites. Enough of one to make him miserable to have done this to the ones that had counted on him. Enough of a trace for Natasha and Clint to find him to see why they hadn't been told about their handler being alive. Clint walked in. "The kid with his ex's?" he asked while typing.

"Demon bar let him escape to somewhere but probably." He looked at what Stark was doing, nodding. "He has a safehouse near there. We had to hole up there once because Coulson had his shoulder pierced."

Jensen looked up at him, pushing up his glasses. "Are you mad at him?"


"I would be too. I think that's pretty normal."

Clint grinned. "Xander said the same thing, Jake. Maybe you should become a therapist after you retire?"

"Maybe but the hacking is fun. Seeing what's underneath the rivers of the internet is very exciting."

"Yes it is, but it's a bit creepy usually," Stark said. "Make some coffee, would you?"

"Sure." Clint went to make them good coffee. Stark only drank good coffee. Jake would probably drink anything. "Should I touch the sacred bag of civet poop coffee?"

"No. That's Pepper's," Stark said. "I can't bring myself to drink that, no matter how much they clean it." Jensen laughed, nodding he agreed. He handed Stark something else, taking back the original laptop. "Oh, fuck you," Stark said, typing at that problem. "Seriously, just curl up and fuck yourself." Jake grinned while typing. "Hammer's out of jail."

"Charming. Can we use him as a butt plug for some huge demon?" Clint asked, nodding at the one staring in the window.

Stark looked at Clint. "Don't tempt me that way." He looked at the demon. "Yes?"

"Is the knight still here?"

"No, he left via the demon bar," Clint said. "We have no idea where he's plotting."

"I can figure it out. The local bar only has portals to so many places. Thank you, sweetheart." She walked off, shrinking as she walked.

Natasha walked in, staring out the window. "That's a nice braiding pattern she wears." She took a cup of coffee before walking off.

Stark shook his head. "Sometimes I wonder if I'm the normal one or not."

"No, you're not," Jake said. "Normal guys couldn't create a suit of armor in a cave in Afghanistan. Trust me, I tried really hard when I was trapped in one." Stark punched him on the arm but he was smiling. Clint gave them both coffee before walking off. "He seems really nice."

"I'd encourage him to date his therapist but it's probably against a lot of rules they have."

"Yeah, that could work well. Otherwise Xander might have to flirt with Clay while not seeing him anymore. Though Clay did say earlier he was having scary Roque flashbacks about Xander. Not sure if that's a good thing or not."

Stark gave him a sideways look then drank some more coffee before he could answer.

Part 3 by Voracity2
Pepper smiled at the reporter Stark International's head of PR had brought up to talk to her. "Is there a huge announcement?"

"Slightly," the reporter said, smiling at her. "I'm with the Times, Ms. Potts. We know that your...coworkers have been protecting the last of the Council people because they were attacked earlier."

"He was attacked by people that got distressed that their coverup of an incident was ended by Congress wanting to know," she said, leaning back. "That was put out earlier." They had found Xander earlier and brought him back for a while to make sure he was safer than a demon bar would make him.

"How many others are there?" the reporter asked. "Is it possible this is going to keep going?"

"It's entirely possible. I have no idea how many more he has in hiding or how many may be bad to his clients. He's a therapist now."

"I saw that." She smiled. "Can we talk to him to ask him that? If it'd help we can put out how many more there are."

"That would probably bring more problems," the head of PR said.

"The local demon council has related at least two other coverups," the reporter said. "One in Australia and one in Paris."

Pepper reached for the phone, calling up there. "Clint, give Xander the phone please. I have a reporter here who said that the local demon council is releasing information on other attacks." She waited for him to get Xander from the bathroom. "Paris and one in Australia?" She listened and winced. "So not horrible and not with you in attendance? That's at least something. How many more like that one are there that someone may have video of?" She listened, twiddling with a pen. "Who would have those?" She winced again. "That's bad. Where is that anyway? Oh, oh, dear. All right. What should I tell the reporter?" His 'I have no idea how to deal with those sorts' answer made her smile. "I don't tend to either, Xander. Anything you want to have known?" She nodded, smiling at the reporter. "Mr. Harris has said he was not at either of those events, most apocalypse battles were filmed by someone for later training needs, and if they're releasing Australia it's going to gross someone out because it's an ascended demon."

"Not that one. I knew about that one. I covered that one actually and ended up in jail for forty-eight hours until I agreed to not report on it. No, I'm talking about the one in the jungles? With the alien thing?"

Xander said something her ear. "Xander said that one's not that bad, it'll make some religious leaders freak out horribly, but he still wasn't there," Pepper said.

"Not that one. The other one. He was there. The same as the one in Paris was him taking out the underground movement."

Pepper looked at the phone but Xander came off the elevator a minute later looking upset. "Xander?"

He stared at the reporter. "Who let those out? They were sealed in a safe vault in a bank in England."

"There's a few former Watchers still, Xander," she said with a smile.

"Yes, and most of them are genocidal or insane." She pulled a gun. He smacked her on the head and took it from her. "Yeah, I recognized you. I helped your dad get arrested." He tossed the gun on the desk, away from Pepper, and stared at her. "That's not going to discredit me. Even the gang kid that died in the Paris riots isn't going to look bad on me." He grinned. "Beyond that, not going to work. I'll release the *full* film of it to someone legitimate." He smirked. "I'm the only one that has access to the vault in Leeds and the one in Bathe. The bank vault has edited ones and minor things.

"The really classified things are actually in Wales." She shuddered. "Only Andrew, myself, and Clorisma can get into that one and you *know* the head witch is already tired of this shit." He smiled at Pepper then at the PR lady. Then at the reporter. "You have a great day, Miss Watcher spawn. You're not going to get to discredit me or Andrew. If you save the real world, they tend to not care how you do it." He walked off. "Pepper, can you give me a name of someone I can ask if they want it if they keep annoying me?"

"I like the ones that're traditional. Miss Walters was very kind when she interviewed me," she said with a smile for the reporter. "Plus she does real news."

Xander grinned. "Thanks."

"I can call her office," the head of PR said, pulling out her phone.

Xander laughed. "I'll call a poker buddy. They have someone at her office." He pulled out his phone to do that. "Bob, Xander. A spawned watcher bratling is trying to release stuff in the vaults. Specifically the alien eating thing in Aussie and the Paris riots. I need to release the *full* film but it's in Wales. Can you ask someone *decent* to help me with that please? Yeah, I'll warn Andrew. Don't worry. I saw him last night. Thanks, Bob." He hung up. A minute later, his phone got a text message from Andrew saying he was releasing both of those to that same reporter, since he was over there for a hearing and for safety reasons, and another few files that were going to make people shut up about them. Xander sent back a 'thank you' and a virtual card. Andrew giggled back but it was good to hear.


Tony Stark looked at the news being displayed, blinking hard. "Damn. JARVIS, make sure Steve sees this please?" he said, blinking hard. "Oh, dear."

"Mr. Harris just made a joke about how people used to think he was warping the slayers by being an evil overlord sort," his AI said sarcastically.

"Yeah, I can see why." He watched the films that had been released. "Is this the demon council's version Pepper warned me about or the real one?"

"The demon council's version. The real one is showing on another station." The station was changed and that film was running. It was worse. Including how a young guy was killed trying to reach a hidden room to get the door open but Xander had yelled at him not to try it yet. "I believe his jacket's symbols means he's a member of a French anti-immigrant group," the AI said more quietly. "There's another dead human body off to the left side but the demons aren't trying to harm his remains."

"So they're not flesh eaters?"

"Two of the species are listed as one in their manual but they're not bothering them yet. Most of them are trying for the slayer and Mr. Harris. Who just used a Stark Industries prototype I believe," he said when Xander had blown up something with a larger weapon.

Stark nodded. "Yes it was." He watched how it went on and then they finished off the problem, then ran for cover once the problem started to shake the building. They brought the two dead bodies out and Xander had saved the people trapped in that room on the way out. Then they had disappeared as the Interpol people pulled up. A late demon ran out with a scream of rage but the Interpol people shot it until he ran back inside. One shot the car fleeing with the slayer and Harris a dirty look. "I think France hated slayers."

"By their press releases they loathed them in all manners. The young slayer had been listed as the slayer in lower Germany, sir."

"Great. Anything else they're going to try?"

"I believe that someone has released the full film of what happened in Ghana since they were so adamant that they had already released it to make them look bad. Their US embassy is having a lockdown alert and have recalled all their people to safely hide inside it. The full film runs for almost seven extra hours of another few battles."

Stark nodded. "I'm so glad I didn't get into that one. Is Ghana going to send more hit teams?"

"No. I think they're embarrassed about having covered that one up, sir."

"Great. I guess they'll all calm down soon then. Maybe Barton can go calm Harris down however they work on things."

"They're presently both on the porch avoiding the film being shown, which only Sergeant Barnes is presently watching."

Tony nodded. "I don't want to either. Shut that off, JARVIS. Give me a summary that won't make me drink or hurl dinner."

"Yes, sir, I can do so." Another screen opened with a running summary as the film went on.

Tony got back to work, not worrying about all that. Harris was safe here and he was a good guest so far. If it wasn't for him trying to find his weapons you'd hardly know he was there.


Coulson watched the film Skye had alerted him to, blinking hard at it. "That's bad."

"That's the edited version," Melinda May said, walking in and changing the channels on the tv. "That's the one Wells released to counter the smear campaign." She walked off shaking her head. "Are we going to talk to Wells about his vigilante moments?"

"No," Coulson said. "He does good handling things that are beneath us or the Avengers." He was watching the battle in Paris, shaking his head slowly. "I wouldn't have went in with that plan but it seems to have worked."

"I'd want more than one slayer," Skye said.

Phil Coulson nodded. "Me too. A whole unit would've been good." Colonel Clay stomped in. "They're countering the new smear campaign by releasing the full film of incidences."

"I guess that's one way of training the future slayers since they wouldn't have seen how bad it could be," he said, staring at the replay. "Only one slayer?"

"They seem to be able to handle it but yes," Coulson said. He winced at the gang kid dying.

"That's a French skinhead patch," Clay said. "We had to work against a branch of them once."

"Good to know." They watched it finish and then the 'newscasters' talked about it and how the smear campaign got started, and about that kid's death. Skye had sent in a twitter message to them since they were paying attention to their feeds for comments. They repeated that information, which made the 'newscasters' talk about why a skinhead would've cared about that. Someone on a demon Council in Europe pointed out that one of the humans had been related to him a few minutes later and pointed out why it had happened.

The newscasters went after that story instead, especially wondering if Harris had been there specifically to rescue that one young woman. Coulson burst out laughing when Xander called in to politely chew him a new one while noting he hadn't known there were human hostages. He was only there to handle the seven hundred demon attack force that the French had been ignoring for months. If he had known about the hostages, he would've done something a bit different, including blowing up another building first to keep them out of that area. The newscasters weren't happy with that or how Xander hung up on them.

"I guess he corrected the assumptions," Skye quipped. "Wow."

"I'm guessing the French aren't going to be happy but it happens," Bobbi said from the doorway. "I would've just blown them all up if I hadn't heard they had hostages." She smiled and changed the channel. "Ghana's going to heave." She strolled off.

Coulson watched. He got sick but he watched. That had been horrible. He could see why Ghana had tried to cover it up but it was too horrible and the hit teams had gotten out of hand again. This was going to be embarrassing for some people but not Xander. Maybe he'd have a talk with him about partially disarming himself. Then again, there were still some demon menaces. The teleplay was interrupted to announce a large demon had shown up in Times Square and was demanding to talk to someone in charge about something.

Xander walked into view and squinted up at him. The demon stared down at him. Xander made 'go on' motions. The demon leaned down to squint at him then nodded and picked him up to walk off talking to him about a problem in his home temple's court. A few minutes later they laughed together and then Xander climbed down so he could walk off and get a coffee. The demon went home to take the suggestions into hand. The newscasters were still wetting themselves over that but oh well. At least Xander hadn't needed any sort of weapon. That would've looked very bad on him.


Xander made it back home to find a reporter on his step knocking on the door. "No, I don't answer questions," he called. "Thank you anyway." The reporter spun to stare at him. "Hi." He smiled. "Did you need something?"

"Why were those things taped?"

"So we could train the later slayers with them. There's always the hope they won't have to do more than see film of it, but in case they need to know. Most of those things happen due to some really rare demons. Not something that's usually covered in training." He leaned against the railing around his stairs. "That way they can reference back to the problem, how it was solved, and learn how to handle big issues before they run into them in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn't always be there to train them in tactics for bigger battles or how to creatively end things like a battle. I can't be sure the ones that are doing it for them now have that skill either. That way, the girls could learn, even in a few generations."

"Interesting. That makes you smug?"

"No, the fact you're standing on the taser plate makes me smug." He waved his keychain and set it off, blanking out her camera and making the camera guy shriek. "I have some extreme security needs due to the nature of my clients. Sorry but I wasn't going to deal with you guys today. If I was, I would've handled the hit squads myself instead of letting others. I did get asked to be less visible for the last day or so. Sorry." He waved. "I can set off the other things if you wish to stay and chat." They stomped off. He waved. "Have a great day, ma'am. I hope more of those sort don't make your life interesting." He went inside to use the spell to recall his weapons from Stark's vault. They all reappeared to be petted. They were his babies.


One of Xander's clients showed up at his doorstep, ignoring the reporters trying to lurk.

Xander came out onto the doorstep. "You are interrupting my client's needs. You are interrupting my therapy practice. I don't care if you're on public property but you're gonna move or I'm going to make you move." A few sneered. "All right then." He dropped something so he could stomp on it. A few demon guards with weapons showed up. "They're threatening my clients," he told the guards. "Can you guys keep the reporters away from my place?" They grinned at him, going to menace the reporters. The reporters did run from the sharp, pointy encouragement methods. Especially when a few more showed up. Xander looked at his client, shrugging. "I'm not nice that way and I've got slayer family members coming in later to be checked up on. Wanna come in to talk about what your government wants to complain about?" he asked with a grin. It was a good cover.

"Yes I can do that. They sent me to complain at you about some information that you have hidden."

"I have tons hidden. People don't like to hear about those sort of things." He let him inside. His client sighed in pleasure. Xander grinned. "I have a lot of food. I stocked up just in case."

"Probably a good idea. My boss did wince a lot about the information that got released about the battle in Ghana." Xander rolled his eyes but walked off again. He followed because Xander probably needed to calm down and he was a good helper for that.

James shook off the rain as he snuck in, heading up to his room. Xander needed guarded. Pepper had told him to guard Xander instead of Steve. Steve had tried to shove his shield up someone's nose so he had that covered. Barton's protection too. Romanoff had his back. No one had Xander's. The agent leaned out to look at him then grinned and went back to talking to Xander.


Bobbi Morse walked up to one of her coworkers, handing him a card. "I saw you lost in thoughts yesterday," she said quietly, staring at him. He blinked at her. "He's a good guy and it's not like he won't understand all this. Catastrophic injury and all." She gave him a pointed look. "He's a good guy." She walked off, leaving it up to him.

He looked at the card, tapping it a few times before putting it into his wallet and walking off to get back to the lab. Maybe it'd help. It wasn't like he could talk to Simmons any more. She was different now. He was different now.


Xander answered his door, staring at the obvious agent on the other side. "Yes, can I help you?"

"Mr. Harris, I'm with SHIELD."

"Dude, I know about SHIELD. I've known about SHIELD before Sunnydale fell in," he said dryly. "Way back when I stripped for a few of you. So cut the cryptic and spill what's on your mind. I have a client coming in soon."

"We think you're hoarding an illogical and illegal amount of weapons," he said. "How's that for getting to the point?"

Xander laughed. "I have permission."

"We can get that removed as we think you could be used against us."

Xander stared at him. "Only if you're going to threaten humanity." He leaned on the doorframe. "Beyond that, I doubt you can get it removed, and even if you did, I've still got it put up in a way that you'll never make it through to even breathe on them." He stared at him. "Beyond even that, are you going to handle any demons that show up and are still dangerous but not evil enough for that spell to hit?"

"I don't believe it'll happen."

"Hey, Balli," Xander called. A demon appeared, blinking at him. "This agent thinks that there's no more threats and I'm *dangerous* with weapons." The demon burst out laughing. "Can you make sure he knows why? Maybe even show him why?"

"I owe you kittens, not the other way around," the demon said dryly.

"Yeah, but I think this is too important to lack translation into reality and this guy thinks he's SHIELD reborn."

The demon shook his head. "We know of all three groups and this one's is pathetic." The agent glared, pulling his gun. "That will not help you, mortal. Unlike you I don't die by bullets." He took the agent with him, smirking at Xander before they left. "This way you know so you quit hampering humanity continuing." He shoved the agent into the group of demons. "This one thinks that the Knight will have no more work and doesn't need weapons."

One of the demons looked at him. "The Knight has weapons because they are like his eggs."

One of the elders grimaced. "We can share information on the bad enclaves so the humans may be able to handle them. It will mean no politics going on if we end them." The others nodded at that idea, pulling the human over to teach him how wrong he was. When another human got walked in as a sign of respect, they all nodded at her and let her have what they knew about that the first human would never be able to handle.

"Are you an agent?" the first one demanded.

"Yes, and the sister of a former slayer," she said bluntly, staring at him. "I doubt you supercede MI-6." He grimaced. "Beyond that, I've seen Nick Fury recently. He's not as dead as you think he is. My bosses appreciate that information since he's handling problems." She handed over a slim piece of amber that showed a magically recorded scene to the demons. "We also agree that Coulson is the heir he always wanted and never made. That's why we work with him, not your group." She leaned on the table to point at something. "An agent said they were being rowdy the other day." She looked up. "Any idea why?"

"An anniversary. Did they hurt anyone?" one of the elders asked.

"The agent managed to save most of the hostages they had for sacrificing or whatever. He said it wasn't clear if they were all to be used as sexual toys or to be killed. The only one he didn't manage to save was already missing from the group by the time he got there." They nodded, making notes on that.

"How long have you known about this?" the other agent demanded.

She smirked at him. "Since the New Council took over once Sunnydale fell. They made sure that any humans who needed to handle things got what they needed to handle things, including training various militaries around the world to do that. When you have sixty people to handle things that used to take hundreds to hide, you learn to look for allies and teach them how to handle the piddling things themselves. Including a few agents within SHIELD." She went back to the map and her notes. "We've seen a few appearing around here. Any idea why? Usually considered large but maybe peaceful maybe not."

"There's a wedding of two higher profile demons being joined," one of the younger ones said with a smile for her. "They're not peaceful but they're happy right now. They shouldn't cause any problems until the honeymoon when they need to eat a virgin of at least fifteen to create the new egg."

"Male or female?" she asked.

"That would depend on what they want the egg to be," another said. "We've been watching over that problem. We've also sent warnings to the local convents as there's a few near there."

She smiled. "That's thoughtful. Thank you for saving me that work." They got back to work while the other guy seethed and made notes to spread around.


Xander looked up from his getting fruit when someone stomped up to him. "Why hi, my ex-date-who-slept-with-me-to-get-blood-samples." He grinned. "Pleasant day, isn't it?"

"Where is our agent, Harris?"

"He'll probably be back sometime tonight. He wanted to know about the various demon threats so I sent him to the Council that keeps track of the problem enclaves in the northern hemisphere. They work with other agents so they could help him make a list." He walked around her. She tried to touch him but yelped and held her arm. "Yes, I spotted you and turned on my personal safety protections. Especially since you tried to turn me into a germ sample." He shot her a look. "I'm not stupid, dear. Even if I stopped at the Masters level instead of the PhD, I'm not stupid." He smiled at the security officer walking their way with a hand on his taser. "Hi, this is a one-time sleepover helper," he said dryly. "Who tried to get blood from me. She's an agent full of bad ideas and is probably dirty as hell."

"What're you, sir?"

Xander grinned. "I'm a therapist. I counsel agents and officers who've had bad missions."

"That's nice. She's an agent?" He looked at her. "Do you have a warrant?"

"I can get one," she sneered at Xander. "To take your blood as well."

Xander pulled out his phone to call someone. "Hey, BillyBob, it's Xander Harris. I have a 'new' SHIELD person here who's trying to get blood from me and try to get me implicated in a few things I didn't even try to do." He put it on speaker when the agent said to. He chewed her a new one, ending in the information that there was a Presidential order to not touch Xander's blood. The woman huffed off. Xander described her and gave her name to his contact, who said he'd make note of it and the return of SHIELD. Xander paid and walked out, telling him about the ones doing the actual job and the first agent he had sent to find out what problems were still left. His contact burst out laughing, and thanked him for that happy thought of the day. Xander went home, finding someone waiting on his stairs. "I have an open door policy for clients," he said quietly, staring at him. "You'd be Leo Fitz, right?"

"I am. Who told you about me?"

"I see a few people you know and she told me about how you got injured." He nodded. "You can come inside, Leo. It's comfier than out here and less chance of someone stupid showing up." He nodded, following him inside. "I'm going to put up fruits and stuff. You can join me. I only use the office for talking if someone insists. I tend to do whatever works best for my clients. A few I spar with, a few need a hug, some need to be in the bar setup downstairs, a few in the more relaxed areas, and one I hired hookers for because he needed it to talk." He shrugged but grinned. "However you want to talk is great with me."

"I.... You're not that usual. I read your file."

Xander smirked. "Which one? There's a really wrong and one that's spotty but mostly correct."

"Both plus we hacked into the demon underground's files."

"Those are more right but one's got a shrine to me." He shrugged, finishing with the putting up. "Want lunch?"

"I'm good, thank you." Xander handed him a bottle of water and took him down to the lounge area by the bar setup. He looked in each of the areas. "You really can make them more comfortable."

"I do. Some people can't talk if they're not doing something else or if they're not having a beer or even without a hug."

"That makes sense. Not everyone works with the traditional versions of talk therapy."

"Especially the ones that need to spar."

"Have you heard about me?"

"I have. Slightly. I heard how you got injured. I heard how my other client was a bit worried about your healing. They said that you were healing more slowly than she had expected but she wasn't sure if it was also a bit psychological about your former partner."

"I didn't know Miss Morse paid that sort of attention to me."

"Not Bobbi." He grinned. "I work with a number of agents, Leo. Including two of the younger ones within the new SHIELD. It's hard to rebuild something so huge from the ground up while making sure the bad doesn't come with it. We did that with the Council after the First Evil blew them up. We had sixty of us doing the job of over three thousand former assholes."

He nodded. "That is a huge problem we've had. Finding and clearing former agents of being HYDRA. Then there's the general being a problem."

"I'm pretty sure the president told him to stop it before he shoved an aircraft carrier up his ass," Xander told him with a grin. "Something about finding some of his people doing demonic sacrificing and things." Leo gaped. "During a meeting they had with Talbot and Steve Rogers."

"Oh." He considered that, playing with the water bottle. "That's interesting. Did he talk to Coulson?"

"I know he asked Steve if Coulson was still alive. One of the agents on guard duty asked me if I saw him as a client so I could get in touch with him. I told him where to find him."

Leo nodded. "That's good. As long as they weren't compromised."

"No, I know that one wasn't HYDRA. He shot three of them."

"We thought Ward was clear too. He did all these heroic things. He jumped out of a plane to save one of us." He looked up. "Then he said later that doing those things make you look less guilty of being turned."

"It can but that one's from a warrior clan on one side of his family. They would've had him killed and ripped into component parts for being part of HYDRA. They did it to two others who thought about joining HYDRA." Leo shuddered. "Yeah, so I'm pretty sure about him." He grinned. "I have a list of people I trust. Only one of my clients ended up being HYDRA and he decided to turn himself in. He didn't want to uphold their means now that he was seeing how screwed up it was. They got him when he was young and idealistic. The sort that revolutionaries like. That's why the CIA hired him."

Leo nodded. "I've seen a few of those." He sighed and looked at Xander. "Do you miss anyone that was really close to you?"

"I miss some of my slayers like hell. They were like my little sisters. Not a few of them, those ones I might've fed to someone at times, but there were a few. Did I have someone who could finish my thoughts and all that? Yeah, he was turned when I was sixteen and he was the first one I ended up staking, though it was by accident." Leo slumped, staring at him. "There's pictures of us being in the same playpen and me teething on his ear. It's like a mythical city that I almost remember visiting sometimes but the ache to have him there, to have him at my back, is seriously painful some nights. Steve had the same thing with Bucky Barnes."

Leo nodded. "I had that with Simmons but we're broken now. My injury."

Xander leaned forward. "Leo, it wasn't your injury, or not all your injury at least. Some of that was hers. She got changed by all that too. She might even be scared that you're fragile and she'll get you hurt. Have you tried to talk to her?" He shook his head. "Not at all?"

"At all yes. It's stiff and we weren't that bad even when we first met."

"Sometimes you click, but life does get in the way of the ones that are basically your soulmate. Even if it's not romantic love." Leo relaxed but nodded. "You love your twin differently than you do your lover but you still miss them both with the same intensity when things go wrong. It's ruined a lot of people for the rest of their very short lives." Leo stared at him. "It's brought down a lot of people to the point where death was a reasonable option to them. They just picked a good time for it to be meaningful if they could."

"Death by stopping a robbery," Leo said quietly. Xander nodded. "I don't think I'll do that."

"Is she?"

Leo blinked a few times. "I... I don't think so. I know she went undercover for a bit."

"Did she come out of it okay? Sometimes that's like the stain on a shirt that you can't get out but you can only see the remains under certain types of light. I see a number of people for that problem."

"I think so. I..." He opened the water and drank, staring at it. "That's a good brand of water." Xander grinned. "I don't know how to ask her that. Before I'd just blurt it out and we'd sit and talk."

"Make it easier on you both. Tell her you're going to be stiffly British and invite her to tea for a chat. Make it so you have a framework to fall back on when it gets tense but you two get to chat about subtle things that can lead up to a real discussion. Do it inside a time-locked safe so you have to stay in there." He grinned. "You'll get some frustrated stuff from you both but a good clearing of the air, even a good shouting match maybe, would help. At least then you'd know where you stand with things."

"I'm not sure if she'd allow that."

"You work with some of the most sneaky people in the world, and Skye," Xander said dryly. "Some of them would help you as long as nothing was going on."

"Something's always going on."

"Leo, some advice my team learned early on. You have to take the time to ease it off. Take a moment of fun. Take a moment of ease. If it's all battle and danger, you die of it a lot sooner. Look at what happens in bigger, open wars and why people end up depressed and suicidal." Leo nodded. "I used to crack bad jokes during battles because it helped the slayers perk up and have that momentary ease of focus to resettle themselves. Sometimes a prank is a great idea because it breaks the tension."

"You don't like Skye?"

"I don't like that she's being irresponsible with her newfound gifts. You don't just start flinging around your new powers and expect things to become evident when you've used too much. You train that shit, you learn how to use it to the best advantage in multiple ways. You find your limits and what happens when you reach it. She ...hasn't. It's going to get her or someone else killed. She reminds me of Willow in a lot of ways."

"I can see that. We've already lost people." Xander leaned over to hug him. He sighed but smiled. "Thank you."

"Sometimes the most basic needs are the ones we ignore. Physical contact is sometimes the only healing thing in life because it's a *need* that your body and mind has. People have went haywire over lacking physical contact. I have one patient who jumps when he touches his own bare skin because he forgot what it's like."

Leo considered that. "I can see why. I'm used to running into her multiple times an hour as we work in the same lab together." He looked at him again. "How do I talk to her?"

"Sneak in tonight and put a clown nose on her then sneak back out. She'll get frustrated but she sounds like she could use a stress break as well. She might even come talk to you about it."

"She'd hate that. Call it childish."

"It is but a stress break isn't going to be highbrow. It's not a funny play by Shakespeare. It's Benny Hill and Monty Python that saves your sanity during the dark times. A laugh to make the tension break. That's why some people in emotional turmoil start laughing and end up breaking into crying."

"I can understand that. I'd hate to use a clown nose on her but maybe something else." He smiled. "You're very good."

"That's because I've been here. There's nothing you guys can tell me that equals some of what I've seen and been through." He grinned slightly. "After you go into the hellmouth with twenty-slayers and four other average people, and come out mostly alive after the battle, then watch your town be sucked into the hole, things look a lot different. Thankfully that night someone made me break and drink. I ended up in a fight ring to get the grief and battle stress out but it helped. The next day I could actually not snarl at people and I could move without being reminded of the battle."

"No humor?"

"At that time, I was grieving some people and most of my life. There wasn't a lot of humor around. If I had found humor instead of that bar and then the fight ring I might've ended up curled up in a bathroom crying instead to break it. I didn't find one. That next night I made one for the other girls by making them all watch Monty Python with me. Some of them got pissed off that I mandated it, and Giles agreed with me. They didn't get why but they didn't take the hard parts of the combat. They also died of doing the stupidly heroic thing in a bad way. The rest of them got to laugh and relax and then they had a great cry-off upstairs later. They understood why it helped. After the invasion in LA, they spent the night grieving those who had fallen while watching _The Meaning of Life_ on mute with closed captioning. Mostly they stared at the tv while eating ice cream and/or drinking but by the next day they could heal a bit more and that night it was a bit better."

"The doctors said healing is a process."

"Yes it is. It's one that never takes as little time as you think it should. That anger at the injury is useful, it's what makes you get better as fast as you can. Pushes you thought physical therapy."

"I created a nagging Simmons in my head."

Xander nodded. "I had a few times when I hallucinated a nagging Anya in Africa to get out of the hospital after catching something." Leo stared at him. Xander nodded. "So bad a few times. Once I had Anya as a nun telling me off for not having orgasms since it would help break my fever. The nuns were not amused when I showed them the film of Anya when I was getting better. Willow had taped a number of Anya-encounters in the store to put up for me." Leo shook his head quickly but he was smiling. Xander got into one to show him. Leo watched, smiling at the very blunt talk about things. "I nearly married her. Walked off at the altar because it'd make her happier."

Leo stared at him. "Where is she now?"

"Died in the battle with the First. Unrecoverable from the hole."

Leo nodded. "There's a great number of people I miss that died in SHIELD's downfall. A few from the battle in Manhattan too." He looked at him. "Do you see that one? The one Loki mind-screwed?"

"I don't give specifics about any of my clients, Leo. Just general stuff like any other health professional. Though I do know Clint Barton. He came over to watch a filmed battle to find out something."

"Oh. I suppose you guys did that for the later slayers."

"Yup. So they'd know what might happen before they run into in the field. I wouldn't be there to help them handle it forever. They had to learn how to improvise during battles and how to creatively problem solve outside of 'this is how you use a sword'. Better to learn that watching your predecessors have to do it than to figure it out during your first real battle."

"It would be." He finished his water, playing with the bottle. "What sort of schedule do you keep?"

"I'm pretty well open. Most of my clients pop in after missions or when they need me. There's been a few times of people being here together. Depending on the person and their style of needs, sometimes they can work together because the other one had been there and figured out how to help themselves or I have them sit and read for about twenty minutes. I've had clients who've decided to stay over for days because it helped just having someone there, even if you weren't talking to them."

"Not feeling like you're the last person on earth," Leo said. Xander nodded. "I can understand that." He sighed, looking at him again instead of the bottle. "I don't know where to go from here."

"To know that you have to know where the destination is. What's your goal of this operation?"

"Is getting things back to where they were before a realistic one?"

"Partially but it's never going to be as nice as it was. It's like losing innocence. You can still see unicorns but you can't touch them any longer. You're not screwed until you can't see them anymore but you can still talk about them and feed them or put out stuff for them to nibble on as a treat. You just can't pet them anymore. So maybe you buy a cat or a dog to pet while you talk about the unicorns."

"That's weird," he said, smiling slightly.

"Weird would be when you get to the point where you have to buy a dragon."

Leo laughed, nodding. "I can see where that level comes in." He considered it. "I need to write that down." Xander opened a drawer to show him notepads and pens. "You really are prepared."

"I have a few clients who like to draw while talking."

"That makes sense. Like art therapy." He wrote down that quote and tucked it into his shirt pocket. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Come back anytime, Leo. I'm usually here unless the news is spewing something about a huge problem. No one can get into my files. Even if they hack or have a warrant." He grinned. "It was in Willow's safety deposit box."

"That's an interesting idea. Are there other hackers who use magic?"

"No clue. I haven't met any but you never know who's hiding in the dusty corners of the world."

"Huh. Thank you."

"It's not a problem. You're welcome back whenever you need to talk. Next time we can try to talk while playing pool. That's math and I'm bad at it, but I let my clients win anyway unless they're being dicks." Leo walked off laughing, going back to the base. Xander got up to make notes into his specialty system then put it back into the safe. That had been good for him.


A young British agent walked up to a man at a café, sliding into the chair across from him. "General," he said quietly, earning a glare from the one-eyed man. "This was put into my hands by my supervisor. She works with the Determinant Council in the Northern Hemisphere on problems. She thought you should know that someone's trying something in your old name." He got up and walked off.

Nick Fury watched him go, checking the folder before opening it. Inside were three pictures and an information packet on the 'new SHIELD' that was trying to form. He sneered, snapping it closed. It looked like he had something to handle after he finished his lunch. At least the person he had heard was tracking him wasn't a horrible thing. Or Talbot.


Xander walked into the 'super secret' base and right up to Coulson's office, dropping the six files in front of him. "One of those is from Stark, who was pissed off that they tried for him." He stared at him. "The other five are idiots who've decided to come up to me and proclaim themselves to be you."

"Me?" Coulson asked. "Why me?"

"As in the job title."

"Oh. I've heard something on that." He got into them. "Which is from Stark?" Xander pointed. "Hmm. Wants the Avengers." He grimaced but got into the others. "I had heard we had one."

"One showed up at my house to try to tell me I had to disarm myself. I kindly sent him to Determinant Council so he could see just why he had already failed." He shot him a dirty look. "If they come for me, I'm going to have to go back to the Xander I was in Africa, Coulson. The US won't like that. Well, some parts of the US might like that. The news people...yeah, that'll look great." He grinned. "Remember, I've only gotten more creative."

"I've seen that. I'll see what we can do."

"The VP told them to stop it. They haven't."

"Wonderful." He sighed. "How not stopped?"

"Want the ones I shoved in the trunk of the car?"

"Please," he agreed, smiling slightly. "Thank you for the delivery."

"Had to come anyway. I hated to hear them scream as my security system took little nibbles out of their bodies. They really were throwing off my video game earlier." He walked off.

"Someone help Mr. Harris get the agents who tried to attack his house out of his car please," Coulson called, getting back into the files. One of the agents stomped in. "Melinda."

"They tried him?"

"Apparently. He also had files on some people who are also trying. Plus one who was going after the Avengers." He let her see them.

"Great," she said, glancing over them. "That's a bad thing to become."

"That's what he said." An agent brought in a camera with pictures of the ones they had pulled out of the trunk. "They were SHIELD," he said.

"They claim they're still SHIELD."

"I doubt that. Maybe they're trying to restart it in the open." He got up to come talk to them, bringing something Fury had given him. "Good day," he said. They all stared, one's eyes going wide. He put the device on the table. "I think you know why you're here. Beyond pissing off the last Council member on earth before we have another demon problem." Coulson heard someone complaining that 'someone has broken into my room to put makeup on me twice now' in the hall and shook his head with a sigh. "Harris has warned he's about to become creative and involve the press at the same time. Do we really want that?"


Xander saw the news pop up about an earthquake nearby and sighed. He saved down the report, copying it onto a memory stick. Then he called Bobbi. She was on assignment. Yeah, he could handle this. He printed off some forms and took the memory stick with him. On the way he called Rogers. "It's me. Find somewhere I can meet with the new Destroyer. Yes, that one." He nodded. "I can be there in ten minutes." He hung up, driving off. The park wasn't a bad place to meet. He walked up to her. "Hey." She flinched, staring up at him. "Here, I've got the forms so you can change your last name to Rosenburg since you're just as good as she was at creating an apocalypse." He handed them over with the memory stick. "Since what you did killed a few dozen people. Including injuring a children's hospital."

"We were attacked!"

"I've been in full scale invasions and not made the mess you just made, Skye. You have to get control of your gifts. No matter what. Unless you want to change your name to the First Evil since you'll have killed hundreds?" She glared. He stared back. "At least Willow's wasn't intentional most of the time. She knew what and how to control her powers so it didn't hit somewhere eighty miles from your target area." He glared until she shrank away from him. "That sort of irresponsible usage is usually when you get a coven up your nose. Since I'm the last one here in the US, it's gotta be me. Now, how are you going to figure out the use limits on your gifts? Since you can't return it you need to learn how to use it properly and ethically."

"You don't understand."

"Bullshit." She flinched. "I've seen worse than you, but they were demonic. A few were still technically humans but still demonic." She shifted away from him. "You may be having a great amount of thrill privately from the use of your gifts, because that shit feels great when you let it out, that doesn't mean you have the right to do it to everyone else." The ground around them shook. "You go right ahead. I can make sure you're not a threat, little girl. I had to stop one that was using her healing gifts to kill people and she was a teenager killing an army that had tried to kill her. You're much less pure than she was."

The ground shaking stopped. "There's people who can help you get control. Here, England, Africa. I can suggest a few shaman here and in Africa. The Devon coven can help you learn how to harness it properly, as it's killing you to use it right now because you don't know how. That sort of power eats at your cells if you don't learn how to control it consciously. You are not going to be the next apocalypse battle I fight and if you are, I'll make sure it's sideswiped before I have to mourn more people I like. It is your choice to become a threat or not, but you'd better figure it out *damn* fast, little girl. Those of us who've saved the world, we're not going to be that patient. I didn't save the world six times in four years with minimal help to have it fall to you becoming a Rosenburg follower."


"Don't. Even. Try. That news story on the memory stick is really pertinent." He stared at her. "No more. If you're not going to gain full control then you need to stop using it. Before you become the next apocalypse battle we have to fight. Do you think someone like Stark won't take you out? Or Barnes? Or me? We've all saved this world at least once and if we have to save it from you so be it." He stared her down. "Am I clear?" She grimaced but nodded. "Then go find a method of control or ask someone to get a list of names of people who can teach you how to do that. Including a temple of people who're aliens who could help. There's a temple to Asgardians in Africa that houses some who left on quests. You could go talk to them."

"They don't consider me good."

"Neither do I. You nearly brought down a children's hospital on top of the sick kids' heads. You being on the side of good is up to you. This is your last and only warning. Because if I have to call in help to sideswipe the irresponsible actions so be it. I'm a fully trained shaman, Skye Rosenburg. I will call on others to help me. Oh, and I do know about your daddy. He flirted with me a few times and I told him he was a psycho. Which he still is." He pointed at him. "That won't save you or him if he tries. If no one else has, I've dealt with bigger and badder than you, dear. I don't want to have to do it again but I sure as shit will." He walked off. "I'll be home all day when you're ready for that list of names." He nodded at the staring two agents, quirking his eyebrow up. "What?"

Melinda shook her head. "She needed that truth."

Xander nodded. "Especially since I don't think it's a good precedent to bring down a kid's hospital." She winced. "I have a list of names who can help her. She should be ready for it soon. Even with dear old daddy showing up." Xander looked at him, unhiding his weapons. "Hi again." He backed off, hands up. Xander rehid them, smiling at Melinda. "Have a better day with the faux SHIELD people, dear." He headed back home with a nod for Steve Rogers since he had been watching and then Coulson because he was looking pissed off. Oh well. He wasn't putting up with a new apocalypse battle. He was tired of them.

Steve Rogers walked back to Coulson when he noticed him. "What did she do?" he asked quietly.

"I have no idea," Coulson admitted.

"Harris said something about a children's hospital about eighty miles off her target and a news story," Melinda May said. She was looking it up on her phone, then winced and handed it over. "I think he had a point comparing her to Rosenburg."

"It seems so," Steve Rogers agreed. "I have to agree. She needs to learn how. She's unable to fight beside anyone with that gift going so rogue. The same as I needed to learn how to use my new strength and speed, so does she."

Coulson nodded. "I've tried."

"Harris said he had a list of people," Ward said quietly.

"I'll get it for her," Coulson said. "We might need it later for someone else." He walked over to talk to her. Her father hurried off when he spotted them. He sat beside her, taking the papers. "It's nice he gave you forms to change your name." He put them into his jacket pocket. She looked up at him, eyes damp. "You need to learn control before it gets out of your control to destroy a good bit of the country," he said quietly. "We don't want to set off the faults in California by accident."

"No, I don't. I don't think I can," she said, making herself straighten up.

He stared at her. "I'm pretty sure you could, Skye. It's more than time for you to find some control of your gifts. Maybe however he knows to do that will help make you a great agent instead of just a good one." She grimaced but nodded. "I know if you go to shaman it'll probably start with meditation, which means you can do it at night."

"I... That might be good," she decided. She looked around.

"Your father saw Captain Rogers and ran," he told her, relaxing again. "Which is probably a good idea."

"Thank you."

"We have to fix the things we can. You can help with the cleanup or however quietly. I'm sure there'll be volunteers. It's responsible of one to take responsibility for their actions. Clint once had to take out someone he didn't know was carrying a liquid explosive to a swap. He helped clean up the explosion debris without letting them know what had happened. He was doing that before I could get to him to see what happened."

She nodded. "I can do that. It makes me a good person."

"Exactly, which we know you are. Right now you're just overwhelmed." She nodded. "So we'll work to make it easier and better. I'll get those names from him. Though I have heard him mention the Devon coven if you wanted that instead."

"It's not magical."

"It's probably a lot of the same sort of focus." He crossed his feet. "You have to focus the same way to use it."

"He said the energy was eating my body."

"You've seen that yourself." She nodded once, looking at her forearms. "So we'll figure out how to handle it. Before someone like him has to show up to take you out because you made a huge mistake."

"I can do that," she agreed, swallowing hard. "I really hurt a hospital?"

"According to the news feed, there was an unexplained earthquake a few towns over from where we were working earlier. It wasn't felt far away and there's no fault lines near there." She winced. "I'll help you get control of this, Skye."

"Yes, Coulson."

"Good girl. Let's go." She nodded, going with him, clutching the memory stick so hard it was making creases in her skin. The others gathered around him to go back to the base. They had some more work to do. It never seemed to end, even though Skye's skills were a side topic.


Xander looked up as a client walked in quickly then slammed the door to lean against it. "Big group of reporters?" he guessed. The guy shook his head. "Agents with guns?"

"Pissed off looking people."

Xander came over to look outside then opened the door to lean out. "Hi, Mrs. Hienners. What's wrong now?"

"Who keeps running in and out?" she demanded.

"You remember I'm a therapist, right?" he asked dryly. She glared. He stared back. "I see my clients here, dear. They do come in and out when necessary. Since I see agents and officers their schedules aren't standard. Sorry. Who were you worried about?"

"There's that one...damaged young man."

"That's James. He's a nice guy. He's just healing from the people that did that to him." She shuddered as she walked off. "Just say hi to him. He's a polite young man most of the time." He waved at her back then pushed closed the door while shaking his head and sighing while walking off. "Sorry. Three of my neighbors are nosy like that."

The client followed him. "I can see why with what's been going on."

"She was on vacation when the hit team was here," Xander quipped. "Speaking of here, I've got two others here." He looked at him. "Go make yourself lunch?"

"I can do that. I'm off and it's a nightmare coming."

Xander gave him a quick hug. "It's all good until there's a new demon apocalypse battle."

"I'm not so sure of that."

"We'll see." He went to talk to his two clients, who were now talking to each other. "Should I duck out?" he quipped with a grin.

"Just making plans for when the hit teams come back," Clint said.

Xander gave him a hug. "If I die, you can have my weapons. I gave you an out in case of problems like a new demon invasion."

Clint stared at him. "Is that possible?"

"Is them wanting to invade evil?" the other one asked.

"No, that's conquering a food source. It'd be like us taking over a corn field," Xander said.

"Fuck," the other client said. "A vision?"

"Six, seven months," Xander sighed. "I've sent out an all points to the other clients. I was going to get Clint today." He grinned at him and pointed at the envelopes on the table. Clint got his to look at it, moaning loudly. "Sorry."

"No. Thanks for the warning, Xander." He gave him a hug. "I'll be back later." He headed out. "James, did you see this vision?" he called. "We're having a meeting."

James came downstairs, taking the paper Clint held out. He read it, eyes squinting. "Was this the headache he had last night?"


"Great." He handed it back. "Tell me what I'm doing to help."

"I can do that." He left, going back to the tower. He walked into Stark's lab, typing in a call to assemble there. He handed Stark the paper when he came over to see what he was doing. "We're hoping Xander's wrong for once."

Stark read it over, wincing. "Damn." The others walked in so he handed over the vision. "How right is he?"

"Off time a few times thanks to plots." Clint looked at the others. "Xander warned others too."

Steve nodded, handing it to the others coming in. "I'm hoping he's wrong."

"Is that not considered evil?" Bruce asked.

"Would humans taking over a corn field be considered evil?" Clint asked.

"Ewww." Natasha grimaced. "The same species as last time?"

"Not sure. It's not mentioned and I didn't ask him. James heard him having the vision but didn't know what it was." Clint leaned against a table. "So it looks like it's bad again."

Natasha nodded. "We'd have to help."

"I'm hoping he can sidestep it, somehow," Steve said, taking it back to reread. "Who did he warn?"

"Some of his other contacts and clients." Coulson walked in with Bobbi behind him. "Did you get the vision?"

"In my email," she said. "I went to one of the demon bars I've seen. They agreed someone had that idea again since the slayers weren't here to stop them. Though they thought there may be a slayer left here."

"A designated survivor sort?" Steve asked.

"Not sure," she admitted. "There were a few who were injured and retired that could've been here."

"Even if not or so, we're still here," Stark said. "I'll be damned if I'm going to die by some little biting demon." He looked at Coulson.

"I agree. We need to find information on it. I was thinking Natasha could help or Clint." He looked at them. "You both have some stranger contacts."

"We do," Natasha agreed.

"Plus a demon bar contact," Clint agreed dryly. "I can go see them later."

"Thank you," Coulson said. "We need a firmer date too. The president asked. One of his guards sees Xander. He got the same information this morning."

"We need to train some of us how to handle visions," Natasha said. "I have no idea what to do about someone having one if I see him doing so."

"James probably wouldn't have either," Steve said.

"We can ask." Bobbi sent a text message and a few minutes later the AI was announcing there was a visitor as he came off the elevator. "Andrew." She let him hug her and kiss her on the cheek. "Thank you for coming."

"I got a head's up from Xander so it's not a surprise about a talk."

"How do we handle him having a vision?" Natasha asked.

"Ah, the hard question." He pulled up something that Stark broadcast for them to see. "This is the standard booklet we give to people who're having their first few visions. It's not real rare but it's pretty rare still. We've found a few that got infected and a few who wished for them just in case something bad was going to happen to them again." He pointed. "This is the herbal tea that Xander learned in Africa that helps with the headache afterward. It can be steeped or it can be brewed for strength. I've seen one so bad that Xander made it into chicken noodle soup for her."

He looked at Natasha. "It tastes like monkey ass from what Xander said. I figure he'd know what a monkey's ass at least slightly smells like since he had to catch a few to eat them." He grinned. "There's almost nothing we can do to ease that problem. Especially Xander's. Unfortunately. We're keeping track of the level of damage it's done to him since we knew a few who had visions who died from them." Clint shuddered.

"Including Cordelia if he ever mentioned her," he told Clint, making him nod. "She had some severe brain changes from hers." He pointed at something else. "This is the basic reporting outline of what we need to know and if they just record it in a journal that's fine. Though we do appreciate having them noted by officials so we can keep track of how right they are. Most of them are pretty right until someone hears they had a vision so they change plans. Then sometimes we get a newly updated version and sometimes we don't. Xander's one that doesn't tend to get updated because there's powers that hate him. Especially the one who was over the slayers." He grimaced. "But Xander's only been off time.

"There's sixteen who have visions we know about who are pretty right. They mostly have smaller things seen. Things in their communities. A car crash here or there. A fire sometimes. There's three that have visions about huge things. One's got an affinity for fires. He sees forest fires. He works for the state of California." Andrew grinned. "Every year he gets a run about what's going to happen. They make plans from it and he's only missed one fire but it was set by an idiot." He shrugged. "The other two that see big things see huge things.

"One sees military things, and he's been recruited for just that skill. He travels to each of the active warzones to see if anything hits. He's had sixteen in the last year about bases being attacked and only missed two because they stopped them. He doesn't see ones that originate from within the base unfortunately. We taught him the headache tea and they hate it but it helps keep him out of an infirmary bed at times. He gets horrible migraines from his. He travels with a medic for an assistant and guard."

"Then we have Xander's," Natasha said.

Andrew nodded. "Xander's aren't from the higher powers that had been over the slayers. Xander and I both think someone who hated the Powers That Be gave them to him because he's the guy that started the changes within the slayer line."

"How?" Natasha asked.

Andrew grinned. "He beat an older prophecy about Buffy dying by doing CPR. That started off a lot of changes since there were two now and Buffy figured out she didn't have to go along with prophecies or the oversight of the old Council. At one point in time she told them they were fired and to bite her. Travers didn't really appreciate that. Though he had a price on Xander's scalp before then for beating that prophecy. It seems to have thrown off the PTB's game board by a lot." He smirked. "They had planned for centuries in advance and expected it to be followed." Steve groaned, shaking his head with a wince. "Yeah, Xander had common sense with his stubborn nature. The PTB *hate* Xander for all that. So we think he got gifted visions to pay them back for being dicks to other powers."

"That would make the slayers stronger and better," Natasha said.

"Only if they listened to him," Andrew said with a grin for her. "Xander should've been a girl named Cassandra at times. Now and then they listened but a lot of the times his advice was ignored until it was absolutely necessary but maybe a bit too late."

"I've seen that in a few of the videos he has," Clint said. "So now how sure can we be?"

"So far I haven't heard anyone's moved things. I've been looking into it but I haven't heard if it's planned for that specific date for a reason." They all nodded. "If so they can't really, usually, move it. They might move the place it ends up happening. I'm still looking and we have six months." Everyone nodded again. "Give me time to research, guys."

"There's rumors of a slayer still being here," Natasha said.

Andrew shook his head. "We have family of some here but all the girls were at the meeting."

"No designated survivor or one in the hospital?" she pressed.


"The one at Columbia?" Stark asked.

"Twin sister of one," Andrew said, smiling at him. "Her godfather is that arms dealer." That got a nod from Clint and Bobbi. "She's not a slayer."

"Any chance that we'll have one born here again?" Stark asked.

"No idea," he admitted but he was smiling. "I haven't searched out any potentials. That would endanger them. There's plenty of people willing to take back up the old Council's ways by taking them in to properly train them from near-birth. None of us are searching for future slayers."

"That's reasonable," Coulson agreed. "Thank you for sending Skye things to learn from."

Andrew looked at him. "She needs to get some help with a few of the meditations. I'd suggest the guy teaching yoga in London that is a full shaman trained by some in Canada. He's got training from a few different manners so he can show her the right path to work on."

"I'll suggest that to her. Do we have his name?" Andrew wrote it down from his phone then handed it over. "Thank you, Mr. Wells." He looked at the vision then at him. "How soon before we know how changeable it is?"

"A few weeks probably. We did keep all the books and information from the old Council but it's in a special area in storage."

"She didn't bring the books?"

"It'd take too much magic to do that. We think she made a photocopy of everything in the building to take with them to limit the stress on her magic."

"Oh." Natasha grimaced. "Why did she do that?"

"She thought she'd save humanity that way. Which it did help but she didn't realize that evil isn't a huge category." He shrugged. "She didn't ask anyone's opinion or we would've beaten her to death for that idea. I even tried to go back to stop her from doing it but I got blocked by some of the other higher powers. Not the PTB but a few others. Though, we did have an interesting talk with a higher priest of Janus. He wanted me to do it because it meant he'd have to do a lot more work that wasn't amusing him or his god.

"Speaking of, I need to see if Xander gave this vision to him. There might be interference, which could help a lot." He sent that text message then put up his phone. "Okay, give me a few weeks. We'll work on finding out their methodology. I'll let people know. And then I'll go kick someone's ass in Detroit to make them see that their peaceful community is actually very helpful in keeping other peace." He smiled and left again.

"He and Xander are bouncy the same way," Stark said. "That's good to know." Coulson shot him a dirty look. "They are."

"He's busy, Stark. He does a lot of things and then goes out to handle things that're too small for your team to deal with."

"I've seen that." He looked at the others. "How do we prepare for all this to go on? Usually we wouldn't have the time to build up to an event."

"I'm going to start by going over the invasion in LA's battle footage to see if there was a better way than using a sword to defeat them," Steve said.

"One of the two apocalypse battles Xander wasn't at," Clint said dryly. "Buffy didn't call him back for it and he was coming down with malaria for the one in Sudan. He showed up to help the after battles while sick."

"That's nuts," Bobbi said.

"The slayers had died in the battle," Clint told her. "Someone had to handle it and the locals were panicking. He said they asked nicely at gunpoint but were very polite and made sure he had a good place to rest before they got there and after the battle they made sure he had excellent hospital care because he was unconscious from the fever and injuries. That was about his sixth month in Africa. He had just barely started to train regional militaries how to handle things."

"If he was Asgardian, would there be epic myths written about him?" Stark asked.

Clint nodded. "Yup. There already are in the demon underground," James said from his corner. "I asked to get a better read on how he handled things."

Coulson looked at him. "I'd like to hear those to add to his file."

"I doubt it'd help agents not annoy him since one of them was how he stripped to entice a demon goddess into leaving a village alone then killed her with explosives and poison."

Coulson blinked a few times. "He did what?" he demanded.

"I think that was his nickname there for a while," Clint joked. Coulson scowled at him. "He made me and Nat in Marakesh look kinda normal."

"The second time?" Natasha asked, shifting to cross her legs.

"The third, Nat," he said with a grin. "The one you like to forget existed." She grimaced but nodded once. "Yeah, his whole road trip in Africa was weird while he was training slayers. Plus nagging, sometimes bitchy, girls to train."

She considered it. "Was the chaos his version of stress relief?"

"I asked him once, when he was remembering things, and he said it mostly just happened around him. He had to handle it as it happened." He looked at James. "Did you get all the myths? I've got them in two books but I know there's one missing and a few that weren't recorded."

"May I borrow those?" Coulson asked. "Just so we get a good feel for what Mr. Harris will do the next time he's attacked?"

"He'll attack back. Not like he has minions to order around," Clint said dryly. "Sometimes he's creative but he does handle it as he sees fit."

"Like him sending the agent bothering him to the Determinant Council so he could see how many demon threats were left on this plane?" Steve asked. Clint grinned but nodded. "It seems to work but I'm more worried about him being attacked and the weapons being destroyed."

"Nah, that's all safely put up," Clint said. "If he's not there, no one can get into the vault or the weapons safe. The safe room's set up so only he or Andrew can get people out."

"What happens if he's taken and we need into his weapons safe?" Steve asked. He looked at James.

"I hacked and gave myself an in with it," he said. "Then I told Xander why. He agreed it was tactically sound."

"How many weapons?" Coulson asked. "I know that other attempt to restart SHIELD is worried about them."

James and Clint both snorted. "They're more worried that he's the sort that'll stick up for what's right, which is against them," James said. "That's why that one showed up. They thought he might be *dangerous*."

"I'm sure he is if and when he's forced to be," Stark agreed. "How often is he forced to be?"

"Only now and then," Clint said. "We've seen him be more crafty than out there as a warrior."

"I'm wondering if Thor would know any warriors like him," Steve said.

"Are there other warriors like him," Stark shot back.

"Probably not," Natasha said. She stood up. "Let me know what we have soon, people. I'm going to go check on Mr. Harris's weapons." She strolled off. James went with her since he could get into them.

Clint shook his head. "She'll come back happy."

Stark looked at him. "I did that a few times too, but only over my own designs." He turned back to his board. "Let me know what our plan is, Capscile."

"I can do that." He walked off with the footage pulled up on one of Tony's tablets. The others got to talk about ideas for strategy. How did one handle an overwhelming force of human eating demons with swords?


Xander walked out of the kitchen, staring at the two assassins who had walked in. "Problems, guys?"

"She wanted to look at weapons since we're figuring out how to handle the upcoming invasion that got foreseen."

"Be honest, James. Women like Natasha like weapons and I'm pretty sure if she found Anya's old trunk of toys and a way into the vault she'd be happy for weeks." He grinned at her. "But only I get to fondle my weapons, Natasha." He walked off.

"Should you be taunting clients that way?" she called after him.

He smirked. "Even if he lets you in there he can't get to all of them. So yup. It's a great collection that I like to sit in while I'm having bad days." He went back into the kitchen. "Beyond that, I'm pretty sure you've heard more sexist teases in the past, Natasha. You're a woman who inspires them." He shot her a look. "And if you had been insulted you'd have hit me."

"I have heard worse and said worse on assignment," she agreed with a smirk. "Though that is a charming proposition."

He grinned. "You're not the client I have to hire help for."

She blinked. "There's one of those?"

"No comment."

"I know men who have done that in the past. They can only talk when tied to a chair by a pretty woman." She followed James up to the vault, walking in and staring. "Very nice sword collection." He spun a panel of swords around to show guns. She ran a finger over one. "Nicer and more handy for things that I do." He showed her the others, letting her wander around to look at them and the knives. She found the drawer with electrical weapons and tasers, touching them. "Very nice." Everything had a holding space. She could see what had been used and not replaced yet. It was like a fancy closet organizer system had gotten used. "Is his closet this nice?"

"He's barely got a closet." He pointed at a doorway. She looked. "Yes, he has a half-bathroom in here."

"Hmm. It looks like he keeps a cleaning kit in here too, just in case he's indisposed while cleaning something." She closed the cabinet and followed the short hallway to the more open area. This was where the higher weapons were. She blinked, walking around them. The original cases were gone. Each higher weapon was in a lined glass case with any extra missile heads or anything of the like put in with it. She opened one. It opened silently and smoothly. There was nothing holding the weapon into place. It easily fit back into the case and the lid slowly closed itself. "Very nice." She checked, the walls didn't move. There was no other area. "Is this all of them?"

James casually reached over to punch a spot on the wall that turned out to hold a button. Stairs descended from the ceiling and a panel on the floor slid out of the way to show more. "He only keeps the favorite babies in here. I can't get up past one floor in either direction but I know there's more."

She went up first and he heard the moan, making him grin. She came back down. "That door is locked by magic?" He shrugged. "Hmm. Interesting." She went down to look at those. Another slightly lesser moan.

Xander walked in nibbling on a sandwich, handing James an apple as he walked past them. He walked up the stairs while nibbling and opened the next floor's doorway. He grinned at her and pointed. She walked up there and the moan made him a happy boy. He leaned in. "Sometimes you gotta have stuff for an apocalypse battle."

She ran a hand over a case. "This should be shown off."

"Nah, it's scratched. There's six that're in line to be put into the pretty cases if the ones in there get used." He grinned. "You're welcome for the happy girl time." She scowled but he smiled. "Anything else you wanted to pet?"

"How many more layers are there?"

"Enough. They're not all full." He finished his sandwich. She followed him back down but pulled him downstairs to open up the next one down there. The moans were reminding him of happy times with Anya and he wasn't beyond dick teasing dangerous women who might know someone he could date later.

James moaned at her moan of pleasure and pain down there. He went down to look, moaning at the weapons he hadn't seen. Very large weapons of moan making. James opened one's case to look at better. Xander pointed at the core that had been removed. Xander grinned. Natasha had just let out another moan at something she had pulled the sheet off of. James turned to look. He walked over to stare at it then at Xander. "How?"

"Stolen by a few demons so the dick wouldn't have them." He grinned. "It's at least safe with me."

She stared at him. "Can I bring Stark in here?"

"No one has sexy times on my weapons but me, dear."

She swatted him, giving him a look. "Those are too large not to have somewhere safer."

"People attack your building. They don't attack here and it's shielded beyond national vault standards if they try." He sat on top of something.

James came over to look at what he was sitting on. "Does it make you hotter to sit on top of the proton weapon?"

"It's not exactly a dick statement but I don't need one anyway, James. Just ask Anya's friend." He looked at the doorway. "Hey, Hallie."

She stared then at him. "We need to talk."


"I found family." He hopped up to come talk to her. She hissed in his ear, getting a nod. "I was answering for one of her friends she was sleeping over with."

"Is she safe?"

"So far. Others will try to make sure she won't be. They're looking like the old ways are better."

"Natasha." He walked in to hiss in her ear. "I think you know what's facing her."

She considered it. "US?"

"Canadian," Hallie said. "I'd come in but it's got anti-demon protections." Natasha came out to talk to her. She called someone to help that child. Hallie smiled, patting her on the shoulder. "I knew I could count on you or Xander to make sure she didn't grow up like you did," she said quietly then disappeared.

"Yes, I will," Natasha said. Once she was done she came in to look at the other weapons. She and Xander shared a look. "She was correct, it will not happen again."

"If they try, then maybe I have a little sister again," he said bluntly. She smiled and nodded slightly. "I'd show you more but that's my happy time and I'm only going to share that after marriage."

"Tempting but not in my plans at this time." She strolled off, clearly needing to clean up a bit of dampness.

James looked at Xander. "Go help the lady," Xander told him. James followed her. Xander went to get in some more weapons petting time while he thought. If his clients showed up, they'd come check the vault for him since he had put up a sign saying he was cleaning guns in the room off his bedroom.


Natasha got back to the tower an hour later, looking much more calm. She walked up to the lab, staring at Stark since he was alone. "Xander has confiscated weapons," she said quietly.

"Is that your sexy voice?" he teased. "You sound like you were moaning, Miss Romanoff."

"Perhaps. Then again, Xander was lounging on a proton bomb like it was a sex couch."

Stark sat up straighter, staring at her. "Seriously?" She nodded. "We should make sure they're safe."

"They are safe but it's most amusing what he's confiscated. Including some of the idiot Max's toys."

He smiled. "That's something to make me moan too."

"You should see his vault."

Clint strolled in with a bottle of water for Natasha. "You look like you were sweating. Did you get past the closet of doom?"

"How did you?"

"I had to come in from the emergency exit I found by accident. It's guarded but he's got certain clients logged in." She stared at him. "How many layers did you see?"

"The closet, two up and two down. James could only get one up or down but Xander opened the door for us."

He grinned. "You should see his confiscation vault, Natasha. It's very sweet."

"How far off that is there?"

"Right below the level with Max's bullshit toys."

She smirked. "We should see those." He hissed in her ear and she shivered. "That is a very nasty idea. Who had it originally?"

"Holly Pierce."

She nodded, eyes half open. "Interesting. How did he get them from her?"

"She was his for about a weekend. Then he found out what she was doing. That made her a threat to him so he...encouraged her to give it up. That's when she went to the spa in Greece for a week then decided to change careers for six months."

"I would love to see those."

"Xander knows I saw them. I found him napping in there. There's a way once you're in the sealed vault areas. Which are what James hadn't been able to get into." She nodded, walking off with him following. Stark came with them. The emergency exit Clint had seen had very few listed people allowed. Clint, Bobbi, two others who knew how to handle emergency situations and might need it for a good reason. He got them inside then showed them how to bypass the locks. They ended up on the next floor, which had wall cabinets that locked holding labeled baggies. Xander came down to swat Clint. "Just showing her the really nasty things," Clint said with a grin. "I love making Nat a happy girl."

"Then I can let her glimpse into the sealed area for you," Xander said dryly. "Not like I'm going to use the incubus created club drugs with biological weapons to turn people into mindless rutting beasts."

Natasha stared at him then at the wall. "Why is this lubricant sample here?"

He grinned. "Holly had laced it with smallpox. I'd rather I have this instead of her."

She nodded. "Me as well. Incubus club drugs?"

"Yeah. Bit stronger than they expected. It should have made people feel like an incubus or a succuba. Instead it makes them bitches in heat and you need to be filled to make it all better. For. Six. Days." She shivered. "Yeah, that's why I confiscated it." He grinned and wiggled a finger. He opened the vault door and turned on the light so she could see in there. She did moan in a way that created stiffies from all the men. He closed the door, kissing her on the forehead. "I have a napping safe spot on the next floor down. You're welcome. Happy birthday." He strolled off.

Stark looked at things. "Harris, can we have these destroyed?"

"No. I've used one to send to a demon realm that takes humans hostages as fun toys to break." He shot a grin back at him. "I'm not exactly a *white* knight. More like a gray one." He shrugged but grinned. "Have fun, guys." He went back to talking to Leo Fitz. "Sorry, a client got nosy about my weapons vault. They're having fun in there." He settled on the couch.

He blinked a few times. "Is it dangerous?"

"No. Very few people have access to it. Especially to those levels. Even if they get in there they can't get much beyond that and I've turned off the paralytic gas that would normally have gotten them. My weapons are very well protected, Leo. Don't worry about them."

"Our boss...."

"Doesn't have any permission to get in there. Sorry but I don't trust them. At all."

Stark walked in, staring at him. "I spotted that gel."

"You know the outside of that tube's coated in poison, right?" he asked. "The sign's still on it?"

"Yes. I saw it before I touched it."

"Did you take something for the plate you stepped on getting to it?" Stark's eyes went wide. Xander got up and led him up to the office, getting into his kit. He handed him a bottle. "A very good anti-toxin I carried with me in Africa. Wicca made but very strong. It'll cure the one on the floor panel anti-theft plates. Aren't you glad the security system said Clint was going there so I turned off the paralytic gas?"

Stark took it, nodding. "Thanks."

"Welcome." He grinned. "I'm not stupid, Stark. There's a ton of protections up there. Things are hidden more if I think they're more nasty."

"There's worse than Max's bombs?"

"Yes, there are." Stark shuddered. "You have to be a god to get into that vault. Which you're not." He grinned. "I keep all those sort of things out of evil hands. Though I do reserve the right to use them if I need to so humanity's saved."

"What good would that incubus drug do for that?" Stark asked.

"Well, first, it's sure stopped a battle cold a few times," he said dryly. "Almost immediately stopped because it works for six days and you end up so damn sore you can't fight." He grinned. "I used it against a rebel band that was about to take out a village I was in." Stark shivered. "They deserved it."


"Secondly, I sold some to a realm that was going to have to come here to eat women so they could breed. It created the breeding need so they didn't have to invade." Stark gaped, then shook his head with a sigh. "They're rich with kids now. No invasion. They took six hundred incubus and succuba with them to help with that." He grinned at the older genius. "It helped a lot."

"Yeah, I guess it did." He stared at him. "How bad can it get?"

"I have one thing that's sealed in a vault all by itself. I don't even think about the vault or its contents in case we end up with telepaths."

Stark nodded. "Good to know. Can I take some of that incubus drug to test? It could be weeded down to something to help like viagra."

"Only if you really like taking it. It's engineered to make you want to take it. It turns you into a bitch in heat."

"Now I see why it stopped a battle. May I?" Xander dug into his kit and tossed it over. "Emergency needs?"

"Not like I don't have a few special friends who have wanted to try it out." He shrugged. "I demand they get permission if they're testing it on a minion. Well, and the one master vampire douche nozzle that I drugged his drink on so he'd have to quit bragging about his prowess and he'd lose power in the local community." He shrugged. "I so got a happy card from the local demon bar for doing that to him. They all hated him."

Stark looked at the bottle then at him. "I won't ask. Let me go back to my lab with this. Maybe I can tame it down."

"Mix it with bourbon and for some reason it gets stronger. Even when the six days is done. You have about a week of being sensitive to something kicking it back into being."

"Thanks for the warning." He walked it off, shooting Clint a text message that he was going back to his lab with a sample.

Xander went back to Leo's time. He had been listening in. Xander grinned. "That master vampire was causing a lot of local stress that would've gotten the peaceful community up in arms. One of the groups gave me a two hundred dollar grocery store gift card in thanks."

Leo nodded. "I know a few I'd like to introduce that to for the same reason."

Xander grinned, punching him on the arm lightly. "It got made off some native demon realm plants. It's really handy to know when you have dates like some of mine."

"Do we have the recipe?"

"Not translated."

"Pity. I know someone who'd adore that."


Leo Fitz ended up at Stark tower that night. He asked for admittance to the lab and got let up by Stark. He nodded politely. "He has the recipe for that substance but it's not translated. He's got a few others he's collected over the years. One of the vault levels is a library of such things."

"That's great to know. Are you okay, Fitz?"

"Not fully. Things are still...still wrong."

"I felt that for months after I got back from Afghanistan."

Leo smiled. "I figured you would have. I thought you'd like to know that fact and that some of them are poisons."

"Even better for him to hide them." He grinned. "Want to see it?"

"Please." He came over to look at the chemical makeup of that formula. "He said it was from some plants that are native to some demon realms."

"Interesting. I wonder if we could cultivate them here."

"I didn't ask."

"I can go ask him." Steve walked in looking worried. "Leo Fitz, I'm sure you've at least seen pictures of Steve Rogers. Rogers, this is Leo Fitz, one of Coulson's top R&D people."

"Pleasure," Steve said, shaking his hand.

"The same, Captain," he said with a faint smile. "I came over to look at the things we had discovered earlier in Xander's hiding."

"I saw the swords and handguns," Steve said. "What's that do?"

"Turns you into a needy bitch in heat," Stark said. "For six days. Some incubus made it."


"Yes," Leo said with a grin. "Xander said he averted an invasion by things that needed to eat women to breed by dusting them with it."

Steve considered it then nodded. "That fits in with Xander's past exploits. I got the books, Stark." He handed them over. "Have you seen Natasha or Clint? I was due to spar with her tonight."

"They're in Xander's vault," Leo said. "Looking at things he's confiscated, like this was."

Steve nodded. "I'm glad he could confiscate it. I can't imagine what would've happened if HYDRA had control of it."

"Don't tempt me," Stark warned with an evil smirk. "That's one way to make sure they don't fight back."

"It's morally wrong," Steve said. "Though it would be easier." He walked off. "If you hear from her, let her know I'll spar with her tomorrow. Nice talking to you, Leo. I have to find something for this headache."

The two engineers shared a grin and got back to work on that formula. They could see using it during a real battle that they were about to lose. Not even Captain America could be upset about that use. Unless it caught him too.


Natasha showed up in Xander's bedroom that night, after he had laid down to read a graphic novel. "Teach me how to make this one?" she asked, holding it up.

He grinned, looking at it. "Not that hard if you can smoosh herbs and cook."

"I don't know what a few of those herbs are or how to smoosh herbs. It wasn't something I was taught."

He got up and took her shopping to get the few things he didn't have, then took her to his lab area. "One of my people can only talk while fiddling with things," he said. She nodded she understood that. She sparred for that same effect but not everyone could fight. He showed her how to crush and cook it down. "It'll take at least another day to fully gel, then you add the pectin to finish gelling it. In this state it's weaker until it's thick enough to coat a spoon. This level would probably only sicken a mouse."

She nodded, stirring it carefully. "Interesting. I was never interested in such studies before."

"Herbology can be very handy, and so can potions," Xander said with a smile. She smirked back. "We had to use it many times."

"I can understand why. Has this one been tested?"

"Yes. It's how I got a biological weapons guy out of my face. He was courting me to try to get me as a test subject." She shivered, nodding. "It meant he couldn't do that or spread anything else out."

"Good to know." She checked it. "Constant stirring?"

"Just enough to keep it from crystalizing. If it crystalizes up it'll get hella powerful and smell gross."

"Can it be used in that form?"

"Yeah, then you grind it up and spread it as a powder."

"How did you use it?"

"I cooked dinner." He grinned. "Don't touch anything else in here. He'll freak out at anything touching his stuff or herbs." She nodded. He let her stare at the cooking serum. That reminded him, he needed more antidotes made. He sent an email to the chaos mage he went to for that, getting one back when he woke up that they'd be done in a few days. He went to check on Natasha, bringing her some coffee. She had split the batch to let some crystalize and was testing it against a mouse she had found outside. It was presently writhing in pain as it died. The other one given the serum was limp but alive. "Having fun?"

"A lot. Thank you." She smiled. He grinned back, going to make them breakfast. She looked at the plate then at him before taking it. "I know you have no reason to poison me."

He smiled. "No. I don't. I wouldn't ever give me a reason."

"Point." She took a bite and he settled in to eat all of his with her while they talked. James still confused her and she was still unsettled after all the problems with the alternate reality machine the team had run into recently.


Coulson walked into Stark's lab and nearly got attacked by a robot but he managed to avoid the spraying from Dum-E. Unfortunately Butterfingers was behind him and hit him pretty hard, making him stumble. "Stark."

"Busy," he mumbled, looking up something. "Not today."

"We need to know what you saw in Harris' vault." He stood up and ducked another hit from Butterfingers and Dum-E. The AI set off a beam that kept him from moving. Stark couldn't hear him and he couldn't move even a finger while it was on. It gave him plenty of time to think while staring over Stark's shoulder. He had no idea why he was looking up ancient poisons. It wasn't really in his field of interest.


Clint walked into Stark's lab, ignoring Coulson's frozen form. He put a small vial in front of Stark, making him look up. "Xander taught Natasha how to make that one in both forms." He grinned. "She brewed her first potion and had breakfast."

"That's great. Does it work?"

"Yes. She's got all sorts of mean ideas on how to use it." He walked off.

Stark ran an analysis on that poison. It looked effective. Especially if it was gotten into a mucus membrane for absorption. He turned around to look at his lab, frowning even before he saw the frozen form. "When did you get here?" Coulson stared at him. "JARVIS, release him enough that he can answer questions." The beam lessened around the agent's head. "How long have you been there?"

"A few hours. Why are you and Natasha looking at poison samples?"

"I think she thinks it's neat." He smirked. "Harris opened up some of his cabinets to her and us."

Natasha strolled in. "Is it strong enough? I didn't fully cook it for the ten hours, only nine then I ended up needing a rest."

"It looks really strong, Natasha." He let her see. She smirked a tiny little kitty smirk at him. "How many more recipes does he have?"

"Many he's confiscated or won at poker."

"Then it's a good thing he felt like sharing." He swatted her on the arm. "How long has he been here?"

"Approximately five hours," she said. She turned to look at Coulson, who sighed. She looked at Stark again. "We have found out why James was able to get into his closet gun cabinet when the rest could not. Xander's working on how to fix that loophole for later things."

"It's good someone can help him with that," Coulson said.

"He does not need help with the weapons," Stark said. "He's been confiscating bigger things from the demon community for a few years now. Like this poison's recipe, it's in safer hands with him."

"We worry someone could get it from him," Coulson said.

"No one can get into his vault," Natasha said. "Clint has a way in to a few levels if something huge should happen. As do a few other clients he could trust. There's places in there that no one can get in and he doesn't even think about having in case someone reads his mind. Those he trusts have limited access." She looked at Stark. "That anti-inhibitor?"

"Could be very useful in certain circumstances, including some of your style of missions," he agreed smugly. "I've also tracked where he gets antidotes from and asked to see them so we can test them and then possibly hoard them." She smiled, nodding slightly. "It was very strong and I could tell why."

"I'll have to ask him for something to help later on then." She strolled off. "I'm going to rest."

"Steve was looking for you to spar but he said he'd see you today."

"That's fine. I'll do that after a rest and lunch."

Stark grinned at Coulson. "Xander's a great help in many ways." He got back to work. "JARVIS, let him leave." The AI let Coulson go so he could track down Natasha to talk to her. Unfortunately he was knocked out in the elevator. He woke up in a car in the garage. He went back to the office to talk to Bobbi. She was one of Xander's more favored clients. "What do you know of his vault?" he asked her when she walked into his office.

She shrugged. "I've seen a few things. I know if I need to I can access the main area that has special weapons. I haven't needed to or gotten curious enough to explore. Why?" She ate a bite of her apple.

"Harris let Natasha make a poison he had a recipe for and exposed that he had confiscated a drug that was an anti-inhabitant."

"I'm sure she'll love those for missions. It goes well with her mind screwing." She ate another bite, staring at him. "Xander's only dangerous if you make him be, Coulson. Just like any wild animal that's slightly domesticated." She walked off finishing her apple. She realized she couldn't stop this battle in the making but she could sit back and be amused. Xander didn't always fight in the same way everyone else did. And sometimes others might show up to help him without him asking. That's why she smelled the succuba appear and shook her head. She wasn't saving Coulson. Really, a bit of action might make him feel more secure.

Leo Fitz stopped her by popping out of a room and laying a hand on her arm. "May I ask you for a tiny bit of help?" he asked.

"Sure, Fitz. What's wrong?" She followed him to hear about his idea. Xander had some wacky ones that might be a good idea. Them being locked in a room to make them talk it out? Could be a good idea.


Phil Coulson didn't know what to do. It had been three days. There were now six succuba that were trying to entice him, and an incubus who had said Clint was pretty. He hadn't been able to banish them, brush them off, discourage them with logic, or order them to leave him alone. "Nick Fury didn't have days like this," he complained. He huffed, but looked up at the tap to his doorway. "Captain? Is there a problem?"

He smirked, handing over the note. "Clint sent it so he doesn't have to beat you yet." He handed it over. "You're having a rebellion?"

"No, Harris sicced some succuba on me and an incubus has been asking me permission to court Clint."

"Xander didn't sic them on you. He did laugh when someone told him, but he didn't do it. He was talking to James when that poker contact showed up. James told me about it. They thought it'd help you relax before you started something that would finish bringing down all the versions of SHIELD that're trying to reform."

Coulson sighed. "I'm not that uptight."

"You are," Steve said, smiling at him. "The other main group is just as bad. The other mini one trying to restart needs to be absorbed by whoever ends up on top." He stared at him. "Remember, we have an invasion in about four months." He walked off. Coulson could save himself.

Phil Coulson looked at the note, shaking his head. "No, I'm not going to sell you to an incubus." He put it aside and went to get something to eat. It'd help his mood and might give him an idea of how to drive off the insistent sex demons. He frowned as he passed the lab. The door was locked, the window was covered over. He started to knock but Melinda shook her head. "Problems?"

"They're talking," she said. "That's so they have to talk."

"Ah. That's not a bad idea." He went to get some coffee. When a succuba showed up with strawberries, Melinda nicely ran her off. "Thank you," he said quietly, sipping his coffee.

"Welcome. They're disturbing. Though maybe we should hire a few to take over the missions Romanoff used to do." She walked off with her strawberries. She could use some fruit.

Coulson nodded. "Perhaps but I doubt they'd conform to the rules."


Xander got tired of being the chess piece both sides wanted to capture and use. He called both 'directors' to a spot and met them there. "Sit. Down," he said when they noticed each other. "Now please. We have to talk, gentlemen. You're trying to use me and I've already seen another major demonic event in just under four months." Both 'directors' stared at him. "Sit. Please," he said with a small smirk.

Coulson sat down. "I've seen that vision."

The other one huffed but sat down. "I still think you're dangerous, Harris."

Xander smirked at him. "I'm only dangerous when you make me be. You're pushing me toward it and I'll gladly blow the fuck out of your people for it. Now, would you like to act like a big boy agent and help protect your people? Or are you going to keep throwing fits trying to gather power?" He stared at him. "Because I can gladly leave you out of all this and let you falter." The man shut up but nodded. "Thank you." He slid the file he had brought with him. "This is the second vision of the invasion. It gives more information on the type of demon. I've done some research on how they're killed, how many we could be expecting, all that."

They took their copies to look over, the new one nodding. "All right. So we've got a major event coming in twenty-six weeks," he said, looking at Xander. "How much support are you requesting?"

"Do you really think I'm going to be fighting an invasion on my own?" he asked dryly. "Because I know I can't. I'm good but I'm not that sort of God." He stared at him. "I thought you wanted to run a national security agency." He looked at Coulson. "I've given all my clients the newly updated one and this information file. The one that's in the Secret Service has shared. The higher one in the FBI got asked if he was pregnant with the way he was trying to settle his stomach over it." Coulson smirked a tiny bit but nodded. "So we're going to have to figure this out. Since it's due to another mystical alignment, they can't stop it to prove power moves or anything. They can try to keep them from coming over, but they're highly overcrowded. Like killing each other is considered fun, worse than Rome fun, overcrowded. So even if they try to prove me wrong there's still some coming. These ones don't eat people but they're dangerous and their touch is poisonous to us."

"So we'll need to arrange clothes that cover," Coulson said. "Any method of killing?"

"Beheading or at least cutting in half. Anywhere above their armpits coming apart from their bodies will work."

Coulson nodded. "Okay. We could conceivably use a shotgun to just hit the chest?"

"Regenerates if not disconnected. The kill spot is on the chest, but it will regenerate all the way from death. Like mohra if you don't break their forehead jewel."

"Okay, so we have to hit below that spot," Coulson said, looking at the notes. There was a figure drawing in there that marked the line they had to hit above. "Swords?"

"A lot of chopping," Xander said. "Large caliber shotguns will take multiple shots. We may not have enough to use artillery but we could conceivably do that to a large group then clean up."

"Is there any indication of them coming as an army instead of a group of fleeing people?" the other 'director' asked.

Xander shook his head. "I've asked the demons who can scry over there. They're all armed. Their military only wears hats to distinguish them and they have mandatory service to try to weed down the population. They're about a generation and a half off a really huge war that nearly killed their planet. They were breeding to beef that up then their enemies got taken out by a solar flare." Xander shrugged. "I couldn't tell the difference and neither could the ones scrying."

"So it's armed civilians versus an army," the other 'director' said.

"Who are all poisonous to us," Coulson said. "All they have to do is brush against us to poison us and if they get enough of us out of the way they could easily cure some of the overcrowding by taking over at least the city it's going to happen in."

"And the city's not all that friendly," Xander said. "It's in Detroit. Their gangs hate the demons, they hate everyone right now." Coulson grimaced but nodded. "Economically depressed areas means that we can't count on community support like we've had in New York and LA. Or even in Chicago when we had gang kids coming out to go 'hell no, it's our land and only we can have it'."

"I saw the film of that battle," Coulson said. "I would hope we could raise some support in Detroit."

"I've sent notice to the local government there and the governor. I nearly got killed by the governor's message back." He stared at him. "The president told him to stop it and he's still whining."

"Great," the other 'director' sighed. "So a battle in a powder keg environment and we might be attacked by the people as well as the demons." Xander nodded. "Now I can see why you called, Mr. Harris."

Xander stared at him. "I could go handle it myself but me detonating a dirty bomb in their world probably isn't considered polite and is something I should do as a last resort," he said sarcastically. The man shuddered. "I'm sure I can find someone to make me one if you want to do that instead."

"I think it'd make us more enemies," Coulson said. "Can we ask the first few if they're there to talk about a peace treaty? Just for form's sake?"

"Hey, if you want to stand in front of a group of running, armed, dangerous demons to see if they want to be here peacefully go for it."

Coulson nodded. "We'll see if that might be something that will ease some public protests. There'll be some, I know you've seen them."

"Yup, and told them to grow the hell up. PETA is stupidly rabid about battles." His phone rang. "Yeah?" he answered. He listened. "What the fuck?" he demanded, standing up. "Seriously? Anyone handling it? Anything come through?" He winced. "Yeah, I can come at least consult. Hey, if I had a debt to someone who could teleport.... Let me call the coven." He hung up and called her. "Sansara, it's Xander. There's a huge battle in the outside area of Budapest." He listened. "Please. No, I'm not at home. I'm about twenty from home and we don't have that time. I'll have to count on the locals."

He nodded. "Later, guys. I didn't order or anything so work it out. All right? HYDRA's bad enough but you two at war is going to cause everyone problems." He walked outside. "Okay, I'm in the open." He disappeared, hanging up as he landed. He looked around, pushing his sunglasses down from his hair. He spotted a cop car and stepped in front of it, making it stop. "I'm Watcher Xander Harris. Your people called for me to show up. Where is the portal?"

The officer called that in and got him into the car, taking him to there. "Here, sir," he yelled.

"I was meeting with agency people over an invasion in Detroit in four months," he said, shaking one general's hand. "What do we have?" They showed him to the portal. It was nearly open and he could see the other side's army being pep talked. "Fuck," he said, getting a cough but a nod from the general. Xander considered it. "Two choices. It opens and we blow them with something nasty. Or it opens, we fight them while the coven closes it and then send something nasty at the end," he said, looking at him.

"Their sort are shootable. Head shots only." The general walked him off to talk about it. They had no access to anything 'nasty' but Xander called some contacts and one brought him something he had 'confiscated' from someone by killing their group. The general thanked him for that service and let him leave before they looked up who he was. Xander grinned at his contact, kissing him on the cheek in thanks and hissing he'd see him later.


Tony Stark looked up as his lab's screens all started to show a news report about a battle in Europe. "Get the others, JARVIS."

"Already showing, sir, and all but Captain Rogers is responding. He's in the bathroom."

"Tell him anyway. He can get dressed while he shits." He ran for his suit.

Upstairs, Natasha was complaining about Budapest, again, and Clint was nodding but arming up. Steve Rogers came out pulling on his uniform shirt. Clint stepped on the toilet paper his foot was trailing, getting a nod from Steve for it. They gathered extra weapons and headed for the quin jet. James climbed on at the last minute, settling beside Steve to check his guns and knives. Clint and Natasha flew them off.


Xander looked up at the landing jet, nodding. "Stark," he called, waving him over. He stomped that way. "Hype this bigger. It's going over as soon as that portal opens."

Stark nodded, getting into it. "Who had this?"

"Some group that hated others. A friend...confiscated it from them."

"Good on your friend." They heard the alarm that the portal was starting to open. They gathered. Stark sent the bomb over once it was opened. The army there got some damage before rushing over and the battle was on. Xander jumped in too with some weapons the local military had let him borrow. The other bombs were sent and the coven got there to end the portal. A few had to be gotten by the military behind the main group but they got most of them. Xander leaned down, panting hard when the portal fell. He felt someone rushing toward him, pulling up his gun as he stood up. James held up his hands, stopping. "Sorry."

"I do the same thing," he said dryly. "Medical?"

"Not a chance. I don't trust anyone with my blood," he said quietly. He put the gun up.

"Tough. They won't take any. I'll make sure, kid." Xander shot him a dirty look. "Now. Before I have to ask Barton to help me haul you over there." Xander huffed but let himself be moved to the medical tent for stitches. "He doesn't want any of his blood noted anywhere," he told the nurse in Russian. She grimaced but nodded.

"I got exposed to mermaid taint when I was a teenager," Xander said with a grin. "I don't want that in bad hands."

"I wouldn't either," she agreed. They finished fixing him and let him go with the team. Xander handed the weapons back and filled out a report on what he knew about those demons and why they had tried this. A new leader trying to prove his might wasn't that bright it seemed. He left one of his cards in case they needed him again. On one side it listed him as a therapist and on the other it listed him as a former Watcher. Both had his cellphone and home numbers.

The nurse told her supervisor that. "Mermaid taint?" she asked. "What does that do?" One of their people looked it up and they all nodded. It was contagious from blood contact. That was a good decision of that boy's. They could make notes for the military to put into a sealed file. Just in case they needed him to come back again.


Xander walked into his house, shaking his head at the two staring men. "What? I'm exhausted and not too polite right now."

Coulson stared at him. "Mermaid taint?"

"Yeah. Back in high school we had a swim coach that was tainting the team through the sauna. Since so many of them changed black and slimy before starting to snack on the students, I joined to see why. They detoxed me but I don't allow anyone near my blood. Usually I'd even do my own stitches." He leaned against the back of a chair. "Why does it suddenly matter?"

"It's not in your files," the other 'director' said. "We'd worry about someone having to treat you."

"I'd never let your medical people treat me," he said dryly. "Too many of them are into torture and experimentation on people. I destroy people like that." The older man stepped back but nodded once. "I didn't put up with it from the Initiative. I didn't put up with it from the NID people that tried the slayers. I didn't put up with it when the NID people tried to capture me twice in Africa. I'm damn sure not going to put up with it now. Especially with a presidential order to leave my blood the hell alone."

Coulson held up a hand. "I was not aware of that order but I can make note of it."

"Frankly, half of your science teams see me the same way they do Skye, Coulson. Inhuman." He gave him a pointed look. "They can keep their plots to themselves please."

"Gladly. I don't want them to even think about that sort of idea. It's wrong. Frankly, if they wanted to look at mermaid taint or blood, I'd let them find one to take blood from and release again without torturing them."

"Great. There's a huge group that's migrating past DC in a few weeks." He grinned. "They're migrating to the Keys."

"I'll make note of that." He looked at the other director then at Xander. "How much do you know about what HYDRA's doing?"

"I've got contacts who're watching them because they're not exactly the sort to make peace with the demon community." He shifted then turned the chair around to sit. "The poker circuit and the various overlording groups are very concerned about them. The Determinant Council is extremely worried about them trying the various demon communities like the Initiative tried."

"We'd like to stop that," the other director said.

Xander stared at him. "You're trying to be more open about things yet still hiding a lot of secrets that are detrimental to humanity. The same as Coulson's group is. Frankly, I hope you both merge and go under someone with some damn sense or logic. You both have faults. You're both looking at the wrong things. You're both fighting against the same enemy and against each other. Find some way to make 'the enemy of my enemy is my temporary best friend' come true." He stood up. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I really need a meal and a nap. Battles do that to one." He stared at them both.

"They do," Coulson said. "I've been in a few that were that bad. We'll come back tomorrow to talk about HYDRA?"

"Get Bobbi to go talk to the poker circuit, Coulson. They like her. They think she's pretty yet mean. The demonic mafia guys even like her. She can easily go ask so you don't have to have me translate."

"I hadn't thought of it but I can do that," the other 'director' agreed. "She can come report to both sides."

"You two need to be one side," Xander reminded him. "Even if you're two agencies. Neither of you are the SHIELD for humanity. I doubt you'll ever be a good SHIELD for humanity. Then again, neither was the original. It created problems that guys like me had to solve. Please, solve it for me so I can be a happy therapist who occasionally has to handle something."

They left him alone. Coulson looked at his counterpart out by their cars. "He's right, we do need to work together to stop HYDRA at the very least."

The other 'director' nodded. "We do. I don't like your methods."

"There were plenty of times I wondered why we did things but sometimes people don't want to know about things. Harris knows that too. The Council got a lot of flack for some of the things that came out of the closet." They shared a look. "Usually he is more polite but you tried to force him to work against you so you could legitimately take his weapons. He'd probably get more and meaner then use it against the ones against him. Remember, he grew up like Barton without the circus and has had to be worse than agents more than once." He walked off. "I'll get Morse to my office."

"Thank you. We'll meet tomorrow at noon." He left, thinking about that. He didn't want to make someone like Barton work against him or his agency. He didn't want to make someone like Stark do so either. He'd rather have allies like Harris than enemies. He could make peace with Harris and subtly move up to take over his duties to humanity as he got too injured. He spotted the man walking up the street, pausing to stare at him. "How," he said.

James scowled at him. "I hope you didn't piss Xander off. He's a bit mean right now thanks to the battle exhaustion. He'll be nicer after he sleeps and has some food." He walked inside without knocking and slammed the door, locking it. "Xander, I'm here," he called. He heard a snore and smiled, going to help Xander out of the kitchen and up to his bed. He could eat when he got up. James went down to make food for them both. He was starving after the battle too.

Part 4 by Voracity2
Clint showed up that night, staring at James, who was nibbling on a sandwich. "I'll show you where he orders groceries from," he said. "Xander won't go to the store for a few days to keep down anyone trying to get him for that." He found Xander's laptop, getting into that website. He texted Natasha to help him with whoever was trying to hack that laptop. Natasha showed up ten minutes later because she had been on her way there anyway.

"How do you handle battles like that with a sword?" James asked. "Using a gun wore me out."

"So did the one we had in New York," Clint said. Natasha took the laptop, adding to the grocery order then fighting the hacking. They were sorry quickly enough. Skye especially since she ruined her computer on her. Then she sent the order, paying for it from her own card since she'd be eating a lot of it. Clint grinned at her. "Thanks, Nat."

"Welcome. He does need to eat. He's been losing weight." She looked at James. "So do you."

"I've been eating."

"Clearly not enough. We will work up to it. There's ways of increasing calories and protein without adding more bulk." She got up to get the door since someone rang the bell. She signed the slip and took the box of groceries. "Thank you." She walked off, taking them to the kitchen. James came in to put things in their right spots while she made the three of them dinner. Xander was still asleep upstairs and he wouldn't mind unless they didn't save him something. She put a portion aside to be warmed up for him then the rest of them ate the nice stir fry with egg noodles. When Xander came down the stairs scowling she cleared her throat. "Yours is on the second shelf of the refrigerator and needs rewarmed," she said quietly.

Xander grinned at her. "You're nearly as neat as a non-nagging slayer." He went to warm up his dinner and came back out to eat it. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. You're losing weight," she said. She finished hers and took Clint's plate from him. James handed over his too.

"I'll wash later," Clint said. He looked at Xander. "You feel better?"

"Yeah. Came home to an ambush of Coulson and what's-his-name from the other version of SHIELD." He grimaced before stuffing his mouth.

"I'm guessing that's why Bobbi wanted me to go with her later," Clint said dryly.

"I suggested she could be their information source without them having to go through me."

"Then I definitely need to watch her back before they decide she's a good toy."

"You'll probably have help from Mack," James said. "He's been working with her a lot recently."

"That's fine." He got up to hit the bathroom then left to back up his ex-wife. He was sitting at a poker table when she and Mack showed up. He watched them deny Mack entrance.

"Why? Because I'm black?" he demanded sarcastically.

"We don't know of you, human," the bouncer said. "We don't let in trouble." He glared back at Clint, who grinned but got back to his hand of cards.

"He's my partner," Bobbi said.

"You vouch for your mate?" the bouncer asked.

"My *work* partner. We're here to ask someone to please share some information with us," she said, smiling at him. "He won't cause a problem. I'd have Xander hurt him if he did."

"The Knight could," he agreed. "He's probably mean right now too after the battle earlier." He let them in. Bobbi stared at Clint then rolled her eyes but moved past him. The bouncer smirked at Clint, who shrugged back.

Bobbi settled on a bench near a poker table. "My boss wanted me to ask if you would share information on HYDRA. We're trying to take them down and we've heard they're coming after your peoples so you've been keeping track better than we could."

One of the mafia guys smirked at her. "We usually ask for payment for information."

"I'd probably let you grope but you're dangerous," she quipped back with a grin.

"Yes I am," he agreed smugly. "I'll ask the bosses." He called one as he walked off. Then he came back. "You brought extra backup?"

"I did not know that my ex-husband was going to be here," she said.

"Coulson texted me from your number," Clint said. "Plus it's helping me calm down after the battle earlier." He laid down his cards, losing that hand. Fortunately he was playing for cash instead of favors, cats, or weapons. "Stark wanted me to ask if anyone knew anything about his weapons staying around down here. He didn't care if it was for a just war, but down here bothers him."

"The last of his are off-world as far as I know," the dealer said, looking at one demon. Who shrugged.

"Stark found out Xander had confiscated stuff from that guy Max," Clint told him. "It freaked Stark out a bit."

The demonic arms dealer nodded. "There's a few left in some military hands, and one not good hands, but otherwise they're all off-world and most of them did go to the just side of those wars. One's not but it's hidden."

"Stark might tell someone how to disable it so it's not used on the helpless," Clint said, looking at him.

"That would put me in an uncomfortable position." Clint nodded he understood that. "But I will note that he is worried about such. Would he pay a reward?"

"You'd have to ask him. That may depend on what it is and how bad it could be. And what Pepper tells him."

"Even men like you are dragged by your man parts thanks to women," the demon arms dealer quipped. "As are we."

"It's always better when the pretty, soft, nice ones are happy with you instead of making them pick up weapons to kill you with," Clint agreed. The others around him nodded they agreed. "Now if only we could find Xander someone nice. A lot of his clients would like that."

"Is he not seeing the one that lives with him?" the dealer asked, dealing the round of cards.

"No. That's James and he's still healing from HYDRA," Clint said, staring at him. "They did evil things to him. Including that arm."

"They have others they try it on," the demonic arms dealer said. Mack looked over at him. "They won't be able to take over humanity if they're not stronger than those they want to suppress. We would've told the Knight but it would've killed him to go release them and we all know he wouldn't trust others with important things."

"I'd gladly go release them for him," Bobbi said.

"Me too," Clint agreed. "HYDRA shouldn't be doing evil things like torture and reformatting people."

"If they want good results and humanity to cooperate with them taking over, they'd probably better stop that anyway. Their groups won't help them if they find out," Mack said.

"Probably true," the demonic mafia guy said as he came back. "Though none of us want them back."

"Me either," Mack agreed. "They're worse than the original group that spawned them."

"Yes they are." He smiled at Bobbi. "Pretty One, my boss will come talk to you. We don't want to have to tangle with those sorts either."

"Thank you." She smiled at him. "I can sit here and look like someone's lucky token." He laughed, but sat down to play again. "Have you been told about Xander's visions for the next battle?"

"Was it earlier?" one of the lower demons asked.

"Twenty-six weeks," Clint said dryly. "In Detroit."

A few of the higher demons moaned, shaking their heads. "That will cause problems," one agreed.

Bobbi grinned. "Xander talked to both versions of SHIELD trying to restart and told them to grow up if they wanted to deal with being SHIELD." A few of them laughed, including Clint. "Apparently there was a talk about those who should be protecting humanity." She crossed her legs.

"Yes there are," one of the other dealers agreed, rolling his eye stalks up then back on his cards. "Both groups have too many that would hate us for being from somewhere else as well."

"We don't like those sort either," Mack said. "Including the few science members who are going that way. We've had talks about them being bad for SHIELD and humanity."

"Yes they would be," Clint agreed. "Because then Xander would have to step in like Andrew does." He nodded with a grin. "And he'd be a lot less nice than he has been recently to Skye." He looked at them. "Has she gotten help?"

"Someone from her father's people has shown up," Mack said. Clint grimaced. "They'd know how to help her."

"I'd hope so since she nearly collapsed a children's hospital," Clint said.

"Xander handed her papers to change her name to Rosenburg," Bobbi quipped with a grin for him. Clint and a few others burst out laughing. "He chewed on her about it."

"He would know after watching the Red Witch," the demonic mafia guy agreed, still smiling when his boss stomped in. "The Knight took on the new Inhuman that is screwing up by suggesting she change her name to Rosenburg," he said at the glare he got.

"She could use it. Before she ruins whole areas." He looked at Bobbi. "Why send you?"

"Both of the groups trust me. Xander suggested me as well so they didn't have to keep annoying him about his weapons."

The demon smiled. "That is wise of the Knight. Plus keeping his temper. It does not come out often but when it does it's very bad for everyone." He helped her up. "Come, we will talk at the bar." He led her and Mack off.

Clint was still playing cards. A few of the demons looked at him. "If Bobbi needs my help, she'll tell me by killing someone," he quipped. "She's very well trained. That's what drew me to her. Her other ex-husband too probably."

Bobbi snorted, kissing him on the head. "You're sweet but goofy." She went back to their talk.

Clint took the listening/tracking device from his hair, tucking it into his pocket for now. "Natasha could use that later." The demons smiled at him.


Bobbi, Mack, and Clint made it back to the meeting spot. Clint sat down next to Stark, handing him a folded note. "Two militaries down here still have stuff of yours. Six off-world battles. One's not the good side. I told them if they asked you could probably tell them how to disarm it. One demonic arms dealer asked if you'd give rewards if he found some for sale. I told him to ask."

"Thank you," he said, looking it over before tucking it into his jeans pocket. "So?"

Bobbi looked at him. "Why are you here?"

"Because this concerns us more than you," Stark said dryly. "They've tried to take us out of the tower at least once to test us all. I'll be damned, Morse." She huffed.

"Stark's right, it does concern them as we'd have to get their help," Coulson said. The other one scowled. Coulson looked at him. "It's not like we'd be able to fight against some other super soldier they've made."

"Xander's helping him heal a lot," Stark said.

"A few of the demons at the poker hall thought they were together," Clint said. "I had to bust that idea."

The other director stared at him. "Why?"

"Because it's not true. Xander wouldn't care but his professional reputation would be hurt," Clint said firmly, staring at him. "Beyond that, James doesn't need that rumor being started either. He's still working on healing."

"We can help him with that," that director said.

"And he'll kill you all for trying to use him like HYDRA had," Stark said impatiently. "James has the right to make his own decisions. Even the Joint Chiefs saw that." He looked at Bobbi, smiling at her. "So, bad news? Good news?"

"Lots of good news, including things we didn't know," she said, settling at the table with Mack beside her to help her. She handed over the notes she had made. Mack handed over his. "They are trying to make more specialty soldier/weapons. We have where they're keeping three of them." Coulson nodded, taking it to look at. She put a hand on them to stop him. "They also noted that both attempts to restart SHIELD have the same sort of scientists." She looked at them both. "They're not real easy on that stuff, Directors." Stark grinned. "You knew?"

"Yeah. Skye had a few run-ins with people who sneered at her like she was evil for existing. She talked to Steve about it since she saw him getting it from someone." He waved a hand at the other version of SHIELD's director. "No one deserves that."

"No, they don't," Mack agreed. "Or the demonic community. By the way, we spilled about the upcoming thing in Detroit. They're really mad."

"It could easily get the communities there attacked," Clint agreed. "They'll call Xander tomorrow. They won't bother him right after a battle. He's a bit grumpy."

"We noticed," Coulson said sarcastically. "Thankfully I can't find anything that says he sent the succuba at me."

"Hermanda," Bobbi quipped with a grin. She looked at Clint. "I heard one wanted to court you."

"I'm fabulous but I require more than sex from an incubus. I require wooing and talking to. I told him that when Xander called him to ask him for me. He said he wanted me to join their side." He gave her a smug look.

"You'd be horrible as an incubus," Bobbi said dryly.

"Harris did confiscate their drug to help turn people," Stark quipped.

"I'd never take it, Stark. I'd have to stay on top," Barton joked back with an evil smirk. "You think you want to join their party? It does look like fun."

"I grew out of that sort of fun at least three years ago," he joked back.

Coulson shook his head. "We'd have to make sure neither of you turned. I can't imagine what the incubi would do with a technological genius."

"There's machines for that," Stark said.

"They eat sex hormones and feelings," Bobbi said dryly but smiling at him. "Those machines would just make them more hungry." She looked at her ex. "You'd be horrible and a lot of stronger women would have to hide from you."

"They can eat without killing," he quipped.

"True, but still mean."

"People," Coulson ordered.

The other director stared at Coulson. "How do you put up with that?"

"That's why I was their handler for years and Fury's extra hand," he said dryly. He looked over the information, handing it to the other one as he read. "That's much we didn't know."

"I knew some of it," he said.

Stark looked at him. "Fast, important disclaimer. The Avengers won't work for you. We might show up for huge things, but we don't know you and all of us have trust issues. Especially since you wanted to hand Bruce to someone." The man glared at him.

Clint nodded. "Ditto. Not that I'm working for Coulson but I'm not working for your group. Natasha said she didn't trust you and we'd never do the job for anyone we couldn't trust. Fury broke it too many times. Coulson was the only reason we stayed in SHIELD for as long as we did."

"I'm not sure you should be on field missions anyway, Agent Barton. You did attack us."

"I was under mind control," Clint shot back, glaring at him. "I'd like to see what you'd do under Loki's control."

"I wouldn't have. I would've ended myself."

"We can prove that," Stark offered. "HYDRA has Loki's scepter."

Coulson winced. "I'd rather we didn't. That is officially evil." He looked at Clint. "I have no doubt you've healed from all that. Your official evaluation was spot on and actually praised you for healing some prior attitude issues." Clint sneered at him. "Just reporting on what they said."

"You were in fuck-off land, so you don't get a vote," Stark said. "You broke their trust too, Agent. None of us trust you not to turn into Fury. All you need is Harris' eyepatch and a cigar."

"That is not what I meant, Mr. Stark," Coulson said.

"Yet it's what you said," he shot back.

"I can fight my own battles," Clint said quietly. Stark waved a hand. He stared at Coulson. "Unfortunately, there's nothing you can say to repair that damage you caused. Fury's going to be shot when we see him. Hermanda said the same thing and you know your rookie agent you were just starting in the field is rabid. Frankly, I'm shocked he's survived this long, or you. With the way you broke all possible attachments we might've had to SHIELD, or your present group, I doubt you should even ask us to help for bigger things. Thankfully Natasha and I have ethics." He gave him a pointed look. "She won't say it but you've done fucked up with us. There's no healing from this."

Phil sighed but nodded. "Not the place for this talk but thank you for that honesty. I thought he would have told you, Clint. Or you would've heard somehow."

"No. He hid it on purpose from us."

"Maybe Director Fury doubted your allegiance to SHIELD," the other director said.

Clint stared at him. "Shut up before I sink an arrow into your skull. There's a reason you failed at being a handler. I'm not even sure how you managed to gain control of your group since you're such a failure at command and generating loyalty. Frankly, most of the agents would follow Coulson if he hadn't made that fatal flaw with Fury's help. You...most of us don't trust you to guide us to wipe our asses or noses. I'd be real shocked if any agents with you were actually loyal and not HYDRA or some other group." He looked at Coulson again. "The Avengers are not SHIELD's toy."

"No, we're not," Stark agreed. "We have to be allies, we don't have to be friends. Some of your people I could see helping with things, but a lot....no."

"I understand," Coulson agreed. "The Avengers Initiative was officially ended by SHIELD after Manhattan anyway so you've been your own group for a while now, Mr. Stark. I will accept your offer to be allies for major problems." He looked at him. "We have to make new alliances with people that before might have not been friendly." He smiled at him. "You were never really part of SHIELD but an important member of the Avengers. I welcome working with you and your team for major problems. Including possibly parts of HYDRA?"

"Parts," Stark agreed. "Rogers is foaming that they're back."

"Barnes is ready to kill them all," Clint said.

"I'd more than welcome the help taking down their bases. The rest of General Talbot's people are still causing some problem as well."

"Yeah, one tried to capture Natasha," Clint said dryly, smirking at him. "Pity."

Coulson let out a tiny shudder. "Is she all right?"

"She used Xander's entryway."

"Then at least she got some calming down time afterward. Xander has been good to help many agents. I know he understands some of the worst things you've seen. His dossier is fairly scary actually."

Clint nodded. "Because the slayers all thought he was normal."

"I don't," Coulson said with a slight smile. "I've learned better. If even half the things attributed to him are true, he's too much like some of the more wild agents we used to have within SHIELD." He tapped the papers together. "I'll be asking him for an alliance as well for larger demonic and problematic things. I'm sure he would've been at Manhattan if he had been nearby."

"Two slayers were," Stark said. "I reviewed the footage. Three were in London during the convergence. One got lost through the portals but I think she's probably on Asgard. I'm going to ask Thor when I see him."

"We'd like to make sure we have a peace treaty with them as well," Coulson said.

"I'm pretty sure Asgard thinks we're backwards little rednecks," Stark shot back with an evil looking smirk.

"Quite possibly. They are ahead technologically. Have you talked to Dr. Foster?"

"Yeah. She's good and coming to New York soon."

"Good. Isn't Thor with her?"

"He's off talking to some warriors that got stranded down here on earlier quests," Clint said.

"Also good to know. Are they going to help battles?" Stark shrugged. "If so, let us know if you need help getting them what they need to train with."


"Thank you. Now, let's make a priority list for the HYDRA bases remaining."

"We need to get the weapons," Natasha said as she walked in, handing over a note. "The ones Talbot's people stole from HYDRA and the ones that HYDRA had when they took down the various facilities."

"There's more than that they found," Coulson said. "We had one captive that was surrounded by a gravity defying substance. Grant Ward showed them to him."

She winced. "I heard." He nodded once. "He's in storage in Albania. Soon moving to Latvia."

"That's excellent to know," the other director said. "Where to, Agent Romanoff?"

She stared at him. "I do not like that you have the same sort of people that trained me," she said bluntly. He winced. She looked at Coulson again, seeing the frown. "Xander heard." She walked off. Clint started to shift. "Stay." He settled in again. She went back to Xander's place.

Stark looked at Clint. "You make a good dog."

"Sometimes," Clint agreed, smirking a tiny bit. "I know not to argue with Natasha. It gets people hurt."

Bobbi nodded. "Yes it does. I'd rather not see that again." Mack looked at her oddly. "You'd have to have seen it. A rookie agent tried to grope her during sparring."

Clint grinned. "That wasn't the worst. The next trainee class, someone tried to give her an order as he was a male agent and she wasn't. The infirmary patched him up enough for life flight and sent a note about what had happened. I'm told that ICU trip lasted for nearly six weeks."

"Five," Coulson corrected then sighed. "I have no idea how she opened his chest cavity that way during the fight and managed to arrange his intestines with her kick."

"I don't need to know," Stark said.

"It was a fight shown to many rookie classes after that," Bobbi said with a smile for him. "Just so they knew not to do it ever again."

"Natasha had been in such a good mood that day too," Clint said, shaking his head.

"I never heard such information," the other director snorted, glaring at them.

"That just proves you were out of touch," Stark said, hacking into the files that had been put online. He showed him it. "It was part of the data dump." The man was glaring at him. "Not my doing but she is a thing of beauty while fighting."

"I thought you had Ms. Potts as your ...assistant," that man said.

Tony gave him a dirty look. "I'd never date Natasha. She's too hard for me. She's also very good at helping some of the people in the group with their malfunctions. She's a teammate, not a sex toy for the group. Frankly, she'd probably collar us on the floor at her ankles if we even thought about it."

"She has been helping Bruce with some of his issues," Clint said with a nod. "She's a good friend to have if she likes and trusts you."

Stark nodded. "I can see why. Did she really nag Harris about eating?"

Clint smiled and nodded. "And James."

"Wonderful of her." He looked at the notes again, making notes of his own on his phone. He got a text message from Steve, showing that to them. Then one from Xander, who sent in where some of the weapons were. "That's really handy too." He looked at Clint.

"We've all cleared out for the night. Xander has a date tonight."

"That's nice," Stark agreed. "Someone decent?"

"Not really. That's why we all cleared out for the night."

"That makes sense."

The other director rolled his eyes. "How do you people get anything done?"

"We've gotten everything done," Bobbi said. "Just because you haven't...." She looked at Mack. "Burger?"

"Burger," he agreed. "Um, Barton?"

"She's not mine. If she wants to feed you burgers and make you watch kung fu movies with her, go for it. I only want her happy." He stared at Mack. "I'll only interrupt if she's not happy."

"Thanks, man." They left after she scowled at her ex-husband.

The other director huffed off. Stark patted Clint on the arm before leaving. Coulson looked at him. "I remember right after the divorce," he said quietly.

"You're still a ghoul," he said bluntly, standing up.

"I'm alive, Clint, and I'd like to mend this."

"Is there a way?" he asked. "I'm not so sure of that."

"I understand but I'd like to try."

"Start with Natasha." He walked off, going back to the tower. James and Steve were off getting pizzas. Natasha was having tea with Bruce. He leaned down to hiss in her ear about Coulson's idea, getting a grimace back. "I told him to start with you."

"I agree with that sentiment though I am not sure I would want to go backwards on that matter." Clint patted her on the shoulder before walking off. She sighed, sipping her tea. Bruce looked at her. "Coulson."

"Hmm. That's a hard thing to deal with." She nodded. "I'm sure you'll figure it out." She smiled. "Are we waiting for someone to call about Harris' date putting him in the ER?"

"He doesn't go to the hospital." Bruce groaned, shaking his head. "Basically." He smirked so she wrote out why, that way if there were listening devices no one would hear. He stared then destroyed the note with a nod. "So if something should occur...."

"I'll be aware and ready."

"That would be helpful."


James showed up the next day, watching as Xander hissed as he stood up from sitting. He slammed the door, making Xander scowl at him. "Did your date last night stab you?"

"Battle? Big thing in Europe the other day?" he said dryly.

"You weren't injured on the side."

"Yeah I was. I did the stitches myself."

"Why didn't the med team?" he demanded, staring at him. "Is this the usual BS thing that'll get you dead some day soon?"

"I'm not dying anytime soon. The higher powers in the universe hate me like hell. They won't let me die during anything but a nasty accident. That way people don't think I died heroically." He stared at him. "The nurse didn't notice it. She got the visible stuff. I did the rest when I got home. As for dying from it, I'm taking my antibiotics like a good boy, James," he finished facetiously. "Really."

"What're your clients going to do when you die?"

"I only worry about what some of my lovers are going to lie about. You guys have a few others that could do the same thing if they wanted to go to college. Including you if you wanted to do that, or Clint. Or even Natasha. Though she might enjoy screwing with a few people's minds instead."

James huffed, staring at him. "How many did the med team miss?"

"Not that many. They were under my clothes."

"That would've been seen."

"They were busy and I warned them about the mermaid taint. She wasn't all that interested in being thorough." He shrugged but grinned. "It's nice you like me enough to care."

"I feel like I'm nagging Steve's clone," he said dryly. "He'd do the same thing."

"It happens and I'm more used to doing my own anyway." He finished smothering his toast with jelly then walked off. "If you're moving back in, go clean your room. It stinks like deadly socks." He went to his office. "And stay out of my weapons before more agents show up to demand them."

James stared after him, going up to see what stunk in his room. It turned out he had a dead mouse. That got tossed outside then he hauled Xander out to a bathroom so he could check his injuries for him. Steve still had his 'Bucky's mad' radar so he showed up to help. Xander moaned and shook his head but Steve nicely got the bandages to help James with them.

"I'm fine."

"Sure you are," Steve agreed. He even nodded a bit. "I think you're just fine. You just have a lot of injuries. Is this a bruise?" he asked, lightly touching next to it.


"Oh, that's sweet of whoever you had over." He got back to creaming all the injuries so they could replace bandages. Someone walked in slamming the door. Steve leaned out. "Hey, Leo. We're making sure Xander's injuries are clean."

"The med team in Budapest didn't catch some of them so Xander did them himself," James said dryly.

Steve looked at Xander. "Not even I'm that bad." He got the ones on Xander's back.

"I've done my own since I was a kid, unless Willow did them for me. Hell, she nearly took out my appendix for me and did redo some of the stitches that were crappy."

James looked at Xander. "Didn't you guys have a hospital?"

"It killed people for fun and profit."

"Oh. That reason." He got back to it with Steve, who smiled behind Xander's back.

Clint walked in. "Hey, Leo. Xander hiding?"

"Save me from them fussing, Clint."

He came to the bathroom door, staring at the injuries. "Did your date last night want bloodplay?"

"They were hiding under his clothes so the med team didn't find them," James said.

"Ah, that reason. Suck it up, Xander. It means we like you as a friend." He came in to look at the one on Xander's forehead. "Banged it on the bed or something there?"

"Fell on the stairs last night when I was half asleep because Pieter showed up."

"Hmm." He creamed it and James let him help. Xander was getting huffy but oh well. Clint grinned at him. "It shows that you trust us and we appreciate that, Xander. It means you like us like we like you. Guys like us only fuss over friends." Xander shook his head but he was smiling. "Should we suggest you strip?"

"You're not the client I have to hire a hooker for," he quipped. "Or the one that I had to quit seeing because he kept propositioning me back in college."

"No, I don't like hookers and while I think you're sweet I can take hints," Clint said dryly. He grinned. "Beyond that, only cleaning my bow and arrows is foreplay, not guns."

"I only wipe down artillery as foreplay," Xander quipped with an evil grin.

"For some reason I can see you looking like a pinup girl on a tank," James muttered, shaking his head.

"I did that in college for art credit."

"I don't want to know," Steve said with a grin. "I did some figure drawings but we had girls doing that."

"There's probably some guys that did, you just missed them."

"Probably," Steve agreed. They finished up and left Xander to do Xander things. Steve went to find Pieter, who was hiding upstairs. "Xander was hiding injuries."

"He usually does," he agreed. "Is he out of fussing mode?"

"Xander? Yeah. He's eating his jelly toast in the office." He leaned on the doorway. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. My superiors are being...unreasonable."

"I can call Natasha if you want," Steve offered.

"I've called a few others to talk to them about suddenly needing to move." Steve grinned, going up to his painting area. Pieter went to lurk downstairs. Xander was talking to Leo Fritz. James and Clint were in the basement playing pool so he settled in to watch. He couldn't get into much trouble watching them play pool.


A few days later, Xander answered his phone while he was trying to cook dinner. "It's me." He listened. "Excuse me?" He flipped the pork chop he was cooking. "That's weird. Need me to call the coven? Or...yeah, I can show up. Give me twenty to get there and get some backup. Thanks, Paulette." He hung up and sent out a text message as he headed upstairs to change. "Steve, me. Need backup in the main Central Park area for a realm opening. Not the Avengers, just you and maybe James. No, it may be temporal or it may be realmal. Not sure yet. Someone called me from the NYPD. I'm getting changed and grabbing dinner to go. Meet you there in about twenty." He hung up, grabbing better clothes to go deal with that situation in. He grabbed his pork chop to nibble in the car.


Xander walked over to the group of people complaining at the officers trying to keep them there. He cleared his throat. "Welcome to this realm, people." They stared at him. The white guy in charge glared at him. Xander stared at him. "Who are you? Let's see if we can get you home." It was an older white guy with an eye patch and a buzz cut haircut.

"I'm Nick Fury."

Xander stared. "Really? Ours is a black guy with an attitude that needs to be kicked out of him. Though he's supposedly dead but he's screwing up things in Europe." He stared at him. "Any idea how you guys got here?"

"There was some glowing woman," an older man said. "That's all we know." His eyes lit up. "Steve," he said, almost reverently.

Xander looked back. "Looks like a wish demon."

"Can we get her to undo it?" Steve asked. "Before things get really bad?" James stomped after him.

Xander looked up. "Well?" he called. "You got *any* ideas?"

"It was a geek," a female voice called. "He wished for an effective Nick Fury to cure the problems that SHIELD falling created."

Xander shook his head with a sigh. "Great."

"SHIELD fell?" that Nick Fury demanded. Xander nodded, looking at him. "Why?"

"Because after the war, you guys brought HYDRA scientists home with you to fight the cold war. They kept recruiting." He gave him a pointed look. "It got to the point where it nearly brought down a few different countries' governments. Including this one in the US." Fury gaped then turned and threw something. "Yeah." Xander frowned and shot someone. "Speaking of HYDRA. James, that's the one that was on Coulson's team." He nodded, going to get him. Xander put his gun up, shrugging some. "We're still fighting HYDRA's remains." He grimaced. "Let me call the coven."

"Coven?" one of the other guys behind Fury asked.

"Yeah. It's a long story but the Watchers Council fell to a greater evil, then we rebuilt it so it ran properly to support the girls but a witch decided she needed to remove all evil from this realm with the slayers to fight it. So they're on some other fucking realm." Fury gaped. "Leaving two of us here with some of the slayers' families. So I'm going to call the coven to see if they can undo this. Before we end up needing you here because someone creates an invasion or something." He called them. "Clorisma, it's me. We have a realm breach because we have sixteen SHIELD agents behind a white guy named Nick Fury," he said in greeting. He listened to her choke and splutter. "New York's Central Park. No, you can leave that version of him there." He paused. "You guys brought two others. Who's in Bolivia and who's in Tbilisi?"

Fury scowled. "Why should I tell you?"

"Because a little over a year ago we had a huge battle here in Manhattan that got news coverage for months. There's fan clubs to Clint Barton and the Black Widow. If it's them, do you really want them to have to deal with a squealing, fangirling teenager who thinks they're the heros that saved the world from Loki?" Fury groaned but nodded. "Them?" He nodded again, rubbing his head. "Okay." He listened to the phone. "I'll try to get them. If not, can you scry and tell them? I think our Natasha is in town, and I'm very sure Clint is because I saw him earlier." He nodded. "Thanks." He hung up, looking behind him. "Clint, call your old phone numbers, find yourself, he's in Bolivia and their Natasha is in Tbilisi."

"Crap," Clint said, calling his old phone numbers. He finally got one. "Hey, it's me, yes you, you're in the wrong realm, you need to get out of view. Because I've got a fanclub who'll come pounce you. Yeah, seriously. No, I'm in New York and we're going to get you up here. We're getting Natasha too. She got brought with you and Fury. A white guy Fury. No, ours isn't. He's in Europe though." He rubbed his forehead. "Yeah, we'll get you up here. Just lay as low as you can for a few minutes. Yeah, if you can get her, tell her the same thing. Natasha's got a fanclub like Coulson has for Cap."

"The witches are trying to find them to bring them here," Xander said. "And to send them back. There's a wish demon involved." He sighed, walking over to dig a diagram into the dirt. D'Hoffryn showed up once he was done. Xander pointed. "Do we need them?"

"Yes," D'Hoffryn said. "Unfortunately. In about three weeks." Xander and Clint both stared at him. "Not another invasion. We'll have to talk about Detroit after that."

"Why do we need more warriors if it's not an invasion?" Clint asked.

"Because it'll be worse." He stared at Xander. "You'll have to pull out the hidden stuff." Xander winced. D'Hoffryn handed over a scroll. "Otherwise I wouldn't have let them grant that wish." He disappeared.

Xander sighed, reading it over. "Fuck everything with a flaming, flying dick," he said. He handed it to Steve. Who read it and walked off muttering. "Great, it's bad enough to make Captain America swear." He grinned at Clint.

Who grinned back. "At least we'll have two Natashas to help."

Xander nodded. "Very true. Thank you for finding a sunny side of this cluster fuck." He looked at that Nick Fury, who had stomped off after Steve to get that scroll. He was swearing loudly. "They'll arrest you for that," he called. "There's kids in the park." He looked at the other guys then at Steve. "Can you...." He nodded.

"Yeah, we have room in the tower," he said. "Tony's already agreed."

"Okay. If you want to call our Fury so they can chat, great." A Clint and Natasha appeared, going back-to-back to guard each other. Their Natasha was strolling over.

James looked at the two new ones, shaking his head. "You're fine. Quit," he called in Russian.

"They're paranoid, James. The same as you are," Xander said with a grin. "They have their reasons. Especially since we warned about the Avengers fanclub members." He smiled. "Hi, I'm Xander Harris. I was one of the people who rebuilt the Watchers Council to actually train the girls like girls and now I'm a therapist for people like us."

"Like us?" Nick Fury snorted.

"I've saved the world by myself seven times," Xander shot back. "You've only done it with a war band or more behind you. Sit down and shut up until you save the world with a sword." He looked at the other Clint and Natasha. "You two talk to your other selves? That way we can figure things out until we're all needed in DC?" He caught the box that fell from the clear sky. "Thanks, 'Drew." He looked. "Oh, great. Yup, it's a portal situation. We'll need to blow it." Stark stomped over. "No!" he shouted.

"Demon byproducts that can kill normal humans." Stark pulled his hand back, nodding. Xander grinned. "Having that taint helps some things." He looked them over. "Okay, we're going to have a battle in three days. In DC. We'll need to blow the portal, which this will. We'll have at least thousands of demons trying to stop us so they can chow down here." He smiled. "It'll be like LA's only worse and without any slayers. That's why D'Hoffryn said he granted the wish."

"Can we wish it to be less bad?" one of the Clints asked.

"You can try," Xander quipped. "Please do try. They're not allowed to grant wishes for me."

"Have I heard that story?" James asked.

"I told you about dating one of them. D'Hoffryn said I destroyed her. She had been one of his for eleven-hundred years. I gave her a conscience back." He shrugged. "It went well with her demands for sex."

James squinted, shaking his head. "Please date more arms dealers."

"Gladly. They don't make many like Anya." He looked at Steve. Who nodded he agreed with that. He was even smiling slightly. "So?"

"We'll take them to the Tower," Stark said. "I need to know what you have outside of what Andrew sent you."

"You can come over tomorrow to see." Natasha looked over. He grinned at her, shaking his head. "No. Sorry. My toys. You'd want to take my fun away." He looked at Stark again, shrugging some. "Anyway." Stark smirked. "I'm free for at least a few hours around lunch unless Leo shows up tomorrow."

"That's fine. I can do that." He looked at the two Clints. "Tower, bird boy."

"Fine, Stark. Got us rides or are we cabbing?"

"I've got a ride coming." He looked at Xander. "Do you never eat?"

"I had a pork chop on the way over." He walked off. "Come see me tomorrow to let me know where I'm plotted to be."

"Sure." Stark got them into the quinn jet he had waiting, taking them back to the tower. Clint and Natasha were telling themselves about Xander, which was sweet of them.


Xander walked into an office in DC two days later, waving the scroll. "We have a prophesied battle here tomorrow." The receptionist grabbed her phone to call. "I'm hoping there's been enough wishes to make it not happen," he sighed. Guards came down to lead him up to the head office. He put the scroll on the desk then the plan in front of the guy. "I know you were Wolfram and Hart, dude. I know you guys aren't behind this one. So a little help maybe? Because even D'Hoffryn panicked enough to grant a wish that gave us some SHIELD guys from another realm."

The half-demon winced, looking over the scroll. "No, this was not us. We considered it but it was more evil than we're comfortable with after what happened in LA." Xander grinned. "Where were you?"

"Saving Malawi."

"Oh." He shuddered. "We've heard, Knight."

"Thanks. Any idea where the portal will start?"

"The ones doing the rites can do it anywhere."

"I'm kinda worried that we're going to have to go to a special address to stop them there. I can't see Congress liking us having to invade there to stop an invasion."

"No, I can't imagine that either," he said. "We'll harry them so they have to be somewhere in the open. Is that group here?"

"Yup. White, pouty, sulky, grumpy Nick Fury and all."

"Damn it," he said in a demon language. Xander grinned and nodded. "All right, we'll figure it out and try to tell you that morning. If not, be centrally located with a way to get there."

"Thank you. We'll let the peaceful community know next and that if they jump in to warn us first. That way no one panics." He took the scroll and battle plan with him, going to a demon bar to repeat that scene with the local demon overlords. Behind him the half-demon started off on a 'fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck!' rant.

It made his day to make people happy.


Six days later, after five days of fighting that war, Xander finally flopped down panting hard. "This had better never happen again," he said when someone stared at him. He looked up, hoping it wasn't a demon. Nope, a cop. "Hi."

"Mr. Harris?" Xander nodded. "The others are gathering at a coffee shop a few blocks away. Want a ride?"

"Please." He got helped up, holding his back. "Can we set that thing on fire?"

"Already called someone. Are there more?"

"I'll have the coven search as soon as someone finds where my phone landed."

"That's fine. We may have it somewhere." He got him to the car and took him to the coffee shop, calling in about the phone. Someone had found it at a battle clean up and brought it to him.

Xander grinned. "Thanks. Let me call the coven." He called. No answer. He tried the other number. No answer. He tried Andrew. "Any idea if there's more of them? DCPD wants to know." He listened. "Where are they? Why are they and you in New York and do I need to come up there?" He groaned, holding his head. "Damn it." Everyone stared at him. "Need my help? Okay, sure, if you borrowed, that's great, 'Drew. Do you need some of us? Some of HYDRA actually helped?

"Okay. Sure, they can flee. I'm all for anyone helping during emergencies as long as I don't have to deal with them afterward. Please. Yeah, just now killed my last one. Three left in town where?" He groaned. "Great. The portal's gone, right?" He nodded. "Okay, where is it?" He wrote it down with the officer's pen on a napkin. "They're minions? Even better. Can we talk to the one.... Yeah, I can handle that. Thanks." He hung up. "We have to get the last three, which have been taken as minions of a higher demon who's taking over an orphanage." He looked around. "My axe?"

"You can barely stand," Steve said.

"Yeah. That happens. Welcome to demon hunting." He looked at the officer, holding up the napkin. The guy took his pen back but nodded. Xander followed him out to the car. They went to the orphanage, with a few agents helping. One he even knew as a client. Xander nodded at them. "Andrew said they had New York's problem done?" he asked his client.

"Yeah, he had it, Xander. Are you okay for this?"

Xander looked at him. "The last I knew you couldn't banish things. So does it matter?"

"No," he agreed. "We'll get you an IV of coffee afterward."

"No hospitals, Paul. You know that." He walked in and upstairs where he could hear noise. "Okay, kids, let's go," he called, pointing behind him. A few got to run to the agents. The rest were frozen. Xander dropped a canister of something. That freed the rest of the room from magic. The kids ran when he pointed again. Xander looked at the higher demon. "Was this your version of helping stop them? Because if so, thank you but you knew we'd hate you bothering the kids."

The demon smiled. "They make good minions but one of the children here was marked to me." He pointed at him.

Xander looked then at him. "Dude, don't make do this when I'm this tired." The demon smirked. "You know it's going to make me mean," he warned. The demon laughed. So Xander lunged and killed the minions while chanting the banishing charm he knew. The demon screamed as Xander slit into his stomach and then throat, then planted a spike with explosive in his crotch as he finished the banishing. The explosive went off as the demon got banished. "Ah, meanness in the morning." He pulled the kid over, looking him over. "Someone was really evil around you, kid. Even this is better than that fate." He looked at the waiting agents. "Guys, we're going to need a priest who has a *real* clue. There's about six in the US right now. Three of them are Fallen and might not help."

"Is one local?" an agent asked.

"One of the Fallen is in Arlington at a small church. If you ask the local peaceful community they can find it. They can probably guard this one for you as well."

"There's demon families that're foster parents I'm sure," an agent said, pushing his way in. "I know of that church."

"Thank you, Mister Fields." He looked at the boy. "He's mean but he will not hurt you. He can't until that comes off." The kid nodded. Xander looked at the demon. "I want your *sworn* and vowed word that you will not harm him."

"I will not harm him, Knight. We don't need to get minions that way." Xander nodded, letting him take the kid. "I won't let anyone sick near you." He nodded. Xander let him go with the kid. "Get him to someone who can treat the infecting wounds."

"I'm fine. I'll take the stuff I have once I get home. Or get someone to get me some antibiotics."

"We can get you back to the coffee shop the others are at," an agent said. "They're fighting."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Sure. Great." They smiled, taking him back there. He walked in. The fighting was still going on. The coven was shouting at someone. They were shouting back. Fury was shouting at someone on the phone. "Fucking shut up, people. I already have a headache from blowing up the demon I was banishing." They all stared at him. "Thanks. Are we done?" he asked the coven witches.

"I hope so!" one said firmly. "I hope there's no more."

"Me too. By the way, a Regnis has the kid to be cured of his marking."

"I'll make sure he'll be fine," another said, pushing her way forward. She checked him over, nodding. "You need a bit of treatment."

"I need a nap," he said. "I'm so tired I'm mean."

"I figure you are. An ER?"

"No. You know how I feel about hospitals." He stared at her. "I don't want anyone getting my blood."

"Can they really do anything with it?" Stark demanded.

"Yup," the agent that had brought him said with a nod. "We sure can." Stark stared at him. He grinned. "I see him as a patient, Mr. Stark. Some of us know why he hates hospitals in the general sense, in case there's a huge emergency. The only two people who know for sure said yes they can be used."

Stark nodded. "Okay, I'll trust that. Can we get him treated without that? I can call in a doc, or Bruce. We can call Bruce if we can get back to New York."

"Only if you're flying," the head witch said. "We're exhausted too, Mr. Stark. By the way, your tower's fine but there's a huge mess in your city."

"As long as they don't blame us," Xander sighed. He sat down. "We can fly. Can we fly?" he asked Tony.

"Yeah, we have stuff to fly. No pilots but we can fly." Steve stomped in with James following him. "You figure that out?"

"Yeah, Sam's fine. In the ER but fine. He helped take out that enclave on the old SHIELD base." He looked at Xander. Then at the witches. "Are there more?"

"Not that we can find," one said, with a pat for his shoulder. "You can rest. We're getting you guys home. We'll let you know that there's a mess up there but we did a lot of work cleaning it up."

Steve nodded. "We've done it before."

She smiled. "That's why we like you, Captain. All right, get some food in you while they find pilots. None of you are fit to fly." She looked at Xander, who shrugged. "You need some antibiotics."

"I know," he said. "I'll get some as soon as I can." She smiled.

"I'll have Bruce get him some," Tony said.

Xander hugged him. "Thanks, Stark." He sighed as he sat back up, cuddling his axe. "Food? Do they have food here?"

"They have pastry stuff here," Clint said, handing him a paper plate.

"I adore you. I'll let you nag in a few days." He inhaled the food.

The witches and agents got things arranged. They watched over Xander just in case. They all knew that he was truly a normal guy in a battle with heros. Even if he'd hate that thought.


Sam Wilson looked up as Steve walked into his meeting room, then looked at the empty spaces before looking back at him. "I've got at least thirty before people start to show up. So what's wrong?"

"How did he, Xander, get up after that battle to handle more? He quipped 'welcome to demon hunting' but he was exhausted."

"If there was one more base to take down and you were exhausted, wouldn't you?" Steve nodded once. "Xander got into me because I tried to compare him to soldiers in a war. He pointed out how different hunters and agents do things. Including that he's not in a war, he's on a thing-by-bad-thing schedule."

Steve nodded, sitting down. "I would've had to get up to do it but we could've taken at least a few to rest probably."

"Probably but he couldn't at that time or it'd cause more problems. From what I heard, that demon had a whole orphanage full of kids stuck." Steve grimaced. "Sometimes you do what you gotta do, and apparently apocalypse battles last for longer than regular battles. He came out of five days of running battles in a lot better shape than I did."

"Me too," Steve admitted. "I was so tired I couldn't stay awake a few times."

"I remember that feeling. It's why I didn't manage to move far enough to not get shot in the arm." He grinned. "In his case, there was no army behind him. There were sometimes slayers, and he wasn't the sort to let a teenage girl do it for him. They followed him into battles, not them leading the way, which most of us would've expected since they had the special skills."

"I get that, but how do you build that up?"

"Practice, man. He had at least seven years of a huge thing every spring. Maybe not that bad, but still bad, and that built up to Africa, where he had things going on every few weeks at the very least. Have you seen him on patrol?" Steve shook his head, staring at him. "Every night you go out to fight things then you go home, treat the injuries, get some rest, and get up to do it again the next day hopefully. Though, he was working construction full time during some of it."

"I couldn't."

"Me either," Sam agreed, grinning at him. "And yet they all thought he was normal so he's going to force himself to prove his worth every single time. He's still proving to himself that he's just as good as the slayers are."

Steve nodded, looking at his hands then up at him. "Do you think he trains like I do?"

"I don't know. Ask the guy. He's open to asking stuff. You still see him as a client, right?" Steve nodded, smiling some. "Then ask him what he does to train. It's possible he's given up the older training methods and just does the sparring stuff now. I have no idea how the guy handled a demanding girlfriend and construction, much less hunting on top of it." He shrugged. "Some guys are born special, some guys are made special, some just want it bad enough to do whatever they gotta do then walk off complaining they're not special. Bucky was probably like him when he was younger?"

"Yeah. A lot sometimes. Me too. Or maybe I was just stubborn."

Sam nodded. "You still are."

"Thanks, Sam. Are you coming to New York?"


"I'll meet you at the airport." He got up to shake his hand and leave, thinking about Xander and how he managed that. He had to train with Xander. Him and Bucky both.


Xander woke up with a blink, staring at the man scowling at him. "Why are you scowling at me and this isn't my room. Were we kidnaped?"

"Nearly," he said. "The agents helping you with the last one were HYDRA."

"Shit, one was a client." He sat up with help, grabbing his ribs. "When did that happen?"

"When they shot at the car and made us crash. You have another twenty-something stitches in your side. Bruce redid your bloodwork, shared it with Stark, and then forgot he ever saw it while going to get really drunk from what I got told." Xander snorted, smiling some. "And we're all being yelled at for being at the one in DC, even though it started first and the demons who did that decided we were too busy to stop them."

"Fuck them. They do it to me all the time," Xander sighed. He blinked at him. "Food?"

"Not for another two hours. They had to remove part of your rib."

"Yay but okay." He laid back down. "Home?"


"Those SHIELD guys who scowled?"

"The Howling Commandos behind that Fury? Still here. Still growling at me."

"Yay," he repeated.

James smirked at him. "You need to date another arms dealer or play a lot of poker. Stark said that Andrew had to use a ton of stuff you had stored."

"I've got stuff hidden in other places. Why are they still here?"

"The coven said they have no idea how to get them home."

"I'll go to Cleveland when I get out, get into Willow's books for them."

"Not alone you're not. Both Bartons said you're not going alone." Xander grinned but shook his head. "Tough, Steve overrules us all. He said he's going too." He smirked. "I'll tell them you're up. Need painkillers?"

"I don't take that shit."

James shook his head as he walked off. The doctor had been listening. "How much do you have him on?"

"None. There's a note in a file that he became violent on it once."

"It brought up the hyena possession," Xander called. "I'm going home now."

The doctor walked in smiling at him. "Unlike a normal hospital, we're allowed to knock you out to keep you in that bed."

"You try, the hyena will definitely come up and it'll eat you." He stared at him. "I can go nap in my own bed. I know how to take care of stitches. I've lost two ribs completely already. Anything else I have to worry about?"

"You're still staying, Mr. Harris." He walked out. "Up his sedative."

Xander growled but got up and walked out. He nodded at James, who followed him. They came out of the infirmary and into something that looked like a warehouse. Xander considered it then looked at James. "We need weapons." James nodded, diving to get the weapons off the nurses he knocked out. Xander sighed and summoned something. "That'll work." He grinned at the stare at the staff. "It likes me. The guy who made it thinks I'd be his willing minion. I'm not, but he'll sure try again. That's okay though." He grinned and they walked out, Xander destroying things. "Dizzy but sure. They're bad guys." The fake people came running but their illusions got canceled out. They were still in New York. Just not in the right borough. Xander looked at the messy building's remains. "Huh." He looked around. "Are we in Queens?"

"Staten Island," James said, looking around. "We can take the train."

"You have money?"

"Yeah, I have both our wallets and your phone." He held it up. Xander grinned, tucking it into his hospital jammies' pocket. They found a train station and went back to his house, going to hide and heal.


In Manhattan, Stark looked up at the alarms going off. "Loki showed back up?" he demanded. The cameras zeroed in on what happened. "Wow, Xander is using Loki's staff." Steve rushed in. Stark got out of the way. "I thought he was at home."

"Me too, but that's Bucky." They stared. Xander destroyed the building and there were some not-thems. Then they went into the train station up the street. "I think Harris is more scary than Loki," Steve decided. "He's more mentally stable but has ideas."

Stark looked at him. "I was already scared of him." He called upstairs. "Barton, put down the bow. Turns out the shrink wasn't at home. He and Bucky had been captured. Somehow Harris got the Staff and he destroyed the base. They're on the train from Staten Island." He hung up on the swearing going on. "He's not happy."

"I'm not happy but happy he found it before Loki did," Steve said. "Wasn't it in SHIELD custody?" Stark nodded. "So...HYDRA had it. Great."

"Yup," Stark said. "We can go take it from him."

"Yeah, we can do that." He walked off. "I'll get Clint since he has the security codes." He walked off, going to stop Clint from throwing a fit. "Apparently HYDRA took it from SHIELD."

"It went back to Asgard with Thor!" Clint complained.

"No idea then. They're on their way home. Xander's wearing hospital pajamas."

"I can get us in there. He probably needs groceries." He stomped off. Steve followed. When they got there, they had to wait about a half-hour but Xander and James wandered up, James holding Xander up. Clint got out of the SUV, walking over. "Don't touch me with that thing."

"I'd never give Thanos the pleasure of giving him minions." He held it up. "Take it from me." Clint did. "That greasy feeling is Thanos. I got a vision on the train. He's coming for all the infinity stones." He and James walked off. "I hate vision migraines."

Clint stared after him. Steve carefully took the staff, which got taken from him by Melinda May since she was behind him. Clint looked at her. "Coulson saw. He sent me to check on him."

"He's limping, had a vision," Clint said.

"Good. We'll go mine that base to see what he didn't destroy with it." She walked off, putting the staff into a special carry case.

James came out to steal it back. "It's going in the safe. Before it gets stolen by whatever that Thanos guy is so he can have the power source back. Because that'll make him a god." He went back inside to hide it in the back levels of the safe. Xander had given him how to get in there. It went into a room with a thing in a vial that Xander said he didn't even think about having because it'd mean someone would come for it. When he came out, Clint had gotten Xander settled into bed with some tea and some cookies. "I had no idea," he told Steve. "All I saw was the infirmary. I only got out of a bed last night."

"That's fine. They're sneaky. They had people like us?"

"Must've been some sort of illusion. I couldn't tell," James admitted. "They let Xander wake up today and he started trying to get out. I'm not sure if it's because he knew. He looked shocked when we walked into the warehouse."

"Xander hates hospitals," Clint said. "Did they get his blood?"

"They told me Bruce ran it, handed it to Stark, then got really drunk to forget it," James said.

"Let me tell Melinda," Steve said, sending her that text message. She sent one back. He noted the staff was in Xander's safest safe area. She said they'd talk about it later. And about whoever Thanos was.


Natasha showed up the next morning. She stared at Xander until he woke up. "I'm going to ask a few questions so no one else has to get mad and pounce you for answers." He shrugged, shifting onto his side. "How did you use Loki's staff?"

"Technically, he was just the last user. According to the resonance in it, it belongs to Thanos. He made it with the stone." She nodded once. "As for how, I'm beloved of every single chaos being in the universe, Natasha. If I had wanted to I could have become a high priest of any chaos god I chose. Between the hellmouth I was born near and grew up near to the stuff we used to get into, and Willow supercharging me when I stopped her suicidal apocalypse attempt, I'm a bit full of energy I can't usually use. All I did was let the staff access it to release some, which made me feel better but yet sick to my stomach as it leeched out." She nodded again. He grinned. "The staff has its own power source. That's the stone that makes it so dangerous. It's why Thanos wants it back."

"What or who is Thanos?"

"Seriously bad news. We're talking a cosmic power. He has an artifact he can use the stones with to become godlike." She grimaced. "I don't know a lot about him but I read a bit on him way back when we were looking up what Glory was. She was in the same book, which is in Cleveland. I'll get it when I get the books from Willow's collection to send the SHIELD guys back."

"That would be appreciated by most everyone." She stared at him. "You could have trusted someone else to get that demon."

"Do you know how to banish demons?"

"You could have told us."

"It's a spell rite, Natasha. How comfy with those are you?"

"I am not," she admitted. "Could Clint have done it?"

"No idea. He's never asked to learn those."

"We'll look over that later so you're not the only one around here. In case you die."

He grinned. "It'll be some day but other cosmic powers *loathe* me. They'll never let me die in a battle. I'll die in dirty diapers in an old age home or I'll die in a car wreck, something stupid yet messy."

"There's many days I could wish to die in a car wreck instead of how I'll probably go."

He nodded. "I wanted to die in bed but not even Anya could wear me out that way. It was unfortunate."

She cracked a smile. "I don't know many women who could kill a man in bed."

"Anya could have. Six hours of sex, constant sex, would do it to some people." She stared then shook her head with a slight sigh. "Beyond that, if you want to go to Cleveland with me I trust you not to bother the stuff the slayers left behind."

"I shall. Can Clint?"

"Yeah, if he wants."

"Thank you." She stared at him. "I have never seen Clint worry and swear about anyone the way he does you."

"We're friends, even beyond the therapist/patient relationship."

"That's good. We could all use new friends." She stood up. "Is the staff safe?"

"If James put it where I told him to, yes. It's in a vault that I don't even think about having hidden in case some telepath shows up. Some of Skye's people do have that gift according to some demon contacts and her people probably know about Thanos."

"I'll see if she'll contact someone to let us know." She nodded. "You should get up and eat."

"I'm nearly naked; I'm being polite by not getting up in my man panties in front of you."

She smiled. "I've seen better and worse panties than yours, Xander." She walked off. "Your antibiotics are in the kitchen. Take them with food. We put food in last night. Use it before we have to nag you like you do James." She left the house to tell the others.

Xander got up to put on sweat pants then went down to get his medicine and some food. He was still hungry. "I'm hoping there's no other emergencies for at least a week," he muttered on his way to his office. He probably had hate mail to deal with again. It always happened after a battle.


Xander stepped out of the airport in Cleveland, looking around. He nodded at a demon that was being a guard for the airport. "We need to check the house and get into the books," he said quietly.

"We know you won't upset the fragile balance by turning into Rosenburg, Harris."

Xander grinned. "I'd look sucky as a redhead."

"Yes you would. I'll let the others know you're in and doing a remembrance." Xander nodded, heading for the rental car lot. Natasha and Clint followed him. He reported that to the city's demon council. They were amused that he had guards this time but protecting people from Xander was a hard job. It probably took assassins.


Xander walked up to the front door of the house, finding it open. "I'll kill someone," he noted. "Yo, who the fuck are you?" he yelled.

"It's me," Andrew called.

"Oh, okay." He let go of his gun and walked in. "I need into Willow's books."

"That's what I've been doing. The coven wanted me to since you're so injured." He looked at him. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." He gave him a hug. "Don't make me take your place, 'Drew."

"I won't." He grinned. "I'm making dinner too."

"I love that you cook." He went into the library, looking in there. Andrew had clearly been into some of them by the lack of dust. Xander tripped the lock into the special room, walking in to get into Willow's trunk of things from Sunnydale. He found the journals he wanted, walking out and relocking the room. He carried them into the kitchen to look through.

"Xander, who was this?" Natasha asked with a point.

Xander smiled sadly at the memorial case. "That stake is Mr. Pointy. He was made by Kendra, who was Council raised. We had no idea how bad the Council was to the other girls until we met her," he said quietly. "She hadn't been allowed to go to school, to talk to boys, nothing. She had a single outfit when she showed up. She had climbed into a plane's wheel well to get here instead of her watcher sending her properly. She had a naive grace and she was a beautiful young woman. She put all her frustrations and longings into carving Mr. Pointy. She gave it to Buffy when they settled which of them was doing which area." He looked at her. "Kendra was killed by Dru, which activated Faith."

"Wow," Clint said, staring at it. "That's...."

"We honor it and her sacrifice like we do the girls who went before her that we didn't get to know," Andrew said. "I didn't get to meet Kendra but I know why it sucked so hard for her."

"I flirted with her but she didn't even realize what boys were for thanks to her watcher," Xander said. "Which is why we didn't really grieve when the old Council died in a huge explosion and a bunch of killings from the minions of the First Evil. We grieve and hold a remembrance for the lost potentials."

"What happens if she gets rewoken?" Clint asked.

"Part of it means she'd have to have her seal opened," Xander said. "You can't get to her seal. We made sure the thing is covered. Nothing can dig to it, nothing can get into the lead cage around it." He swallowed. "It can't reopen without a whole lot of alarms going off. Willow created them with Andrew to alert everyone that it's opening." Andrew nodded, stirring the pan on the stove. He looked in the first journal, shaking his head. "Not in this one. This was her patrol journal."

"May I?" Clint asked.

Xander nodded, letting him see it. He and Natasha looked it over. "Ignore her thing about me being normal please."

"I know you're not normal, Xander. You kicked ass like an Asgardian."

Xander grinned. "Thanks, Clint." He looked in the other two. "Andrew, is this the spell?"

He looked then shook his head. "That would relocate something to a new realm. That's how she did the slayers." He found the other one, reading it over. "That's really going to be painful for them." He considered it. "I'm not sure if we could warp it or not."

"Can we warp the other one?" Xander asked. "Do it outside so it's not a house?"

"We'd have to make artificial limits or walls." He considered it, then nodded. "We can try." They got bundled into his bag. "I'm going to the coven later." He gave Xander a bit of food. Xander pouted so he got more. Xander grinned. "Are you okay?"

"I'm good. I'm going to the memorial later."

"Yeah, so am I. It's a bit early this year but we're here so we can do it now instead of on the anniversary." Xander nodded, digging in. "Guys, I made goulash."

They came in to get food and settled in to eat. They looked around a bit. Xander and Andrew returned the house to the prior condition before going to the park with the memorial. The two assassins followed along, being respectfully quiet. There was a demon in their way but Xander glared until he moved. "We know we're early," Xander told him. "We needed into Willow's journals to send the SHIELD guys home." He walked around him, Andrew following. Xander stared at the obelisk. "I still say I should fix the misspelling and add the two missing names."

Andrew patted him on the arm. "I've noted it a few times. They don't want to fix it." Xander shook his head. "Maybe we can do that." They stared at the obelisk then walked around it to the small area behind it. It had a single flame that would not go out. It was a fire nymph's nest. It had some crystalized flowers around it with real flowers around the crystal ones. Xander leaned down to pet the fire nymph. She smiled and patted him back then Andrew. Xander and Andrew looked around then Xander nodded and walked off. "Xander, no," Andrew said quietly.

"I hear sobbing, Andrew."

"Oh. That's fine then." They found the crying demon child and Xander squatted down. Andrew smiled at her. "Hey. Why are you crying?"

"Bad things are going to happen because you're here early."

"No it won't," Xander said quietly, staring at her. "We're here because we needed some of Willow's books." She stared up at him. He picked her up to hug. "We'd never let bad things happen. You know that about us." She nodded, resting against his shoulder. "Good girl. C'mon, we'll get you home. Is your dad the guy at the poker house or the other one?"

"He's a bartender."

"I know him," Andrew said. They walked her off, taking her back to the car. Andrew held her on the way to the kitten poker hall. He handed her over.

Xander walked her in, handing her to her father. "She was panicking about bad things happening. That wasn't a vision. It was a paranoid's statement," he said quietly. "Sometimes we need to be here to clear our own minds or to get into the books." He gave him a pointed look then left. "Okay."

"Do we have the books on Thanos?" Natasha asked.

"Yeah," Andrew said, handing it back from his bag.

She flipped through the _Gods, Goddesses, and Mystical Powers_ book until she found him. She read, frowning some. "He is not stable."

"Most people who want to rule the world aren't," Xander said.

"Point." She let Clint see it. He grimaced but nodded. They could read those over on the plane back to New York. Thankfully Stark had leant them his private plane so they didn't have to deal with cranky passengers.


Xander, Natasha, and Clint walked into the meeting area in Stark's tower. "Okay," he said. He handed the coven member there the right journal, letting her see it. "That's the better choice. There's another one that she had, but it was a lot more painful." He let her see that one. They had told Andrew to let Xander since they were holding this meeting at the tower.

"Thank you, Xander. Where were they stored?"

"In her special room." He grinned. "Still locked to my DNA so she couldn't get into it again." He sat down. "Natasha has the book on Thanos."

She opened it so the others could read. "I'm still wondering how the staff got back down here."

"There's ways," Xander said. "It'd take longer but there's doorways between each of the realms somewhere. As far as I've heard, the one from here leads to Alfheim."

"Which one is that?" Stark asked.

"Light elves. Not the ones that invaded London. Their doorway is to the realm with fire. The only direct bridge is up the tree or from this realm to just Asgard, the rainbow bridge."

"So it's possible there's other artifacts from somewhere in Asgard down here?" Natasha asked.

"Most of them were made by dwarves. That's Nidavellir. Sometimes in myths that's linked in with another realm, but they're the creators of the great things. I've always admired dwarves so I read a lot about their myths," Xander said.

Stark nodded. "I can understand that. Some of those things are fascinating." He look at the book on Thanos since it was his turn. "That really sucks. He made the staff?" he asked Xander, looking up. Xander nodded. "How can you tell?"

Xander sat up, leaning forward. "When you create something, you put your personal energy into it. Especially mystical or magical artifacts. You have to use your willpower and/or magic to make it form what you want it to be. In this case, he was merging a hella powerful artifact with a staff he created for it. He had to put himself into the staff to craft it and he had to bend the stone itself to his will to harness it that way. He basically had to make a deal with the stone itself to make it cooperate because it's a power of the universe. So he left...almost an imprint of himself on the staff. The stone showed me right before the vision hit."

"Was it prompted by the stone?" Natasha asked.

"They're not really sentient, but they're... I don't know how to explain that." He looked at the witch.

She cleared her throat. "Many mystical artifacts aren't *sentient* but the magic behind it does give it some will. It's like an infant. There's lights and someone's home but it's not really able to think on its own."

"Yeah, that," Xander agreed. "The stone was not amused by the way."

"How many are there?" Steve asked.

"Five," Xander and the witch said.

"It goes in a gauntlet," Xander said. "Which may be on Asgard as the dwarves made it."

Stark looked at Steve. "Can we call Thor yet?" Steve asked.

"I don't know. I'll be calling Jane tomorrow to find out."

Steve nodded. "Thanks. The others?"

"Scattered," Xander said. "No idea otherwise. Not here. We'd know if there were that many powerful artifacts down here. Each one sends up a spike of power, even when it's in hiding. That staff is like a black hole of local energy."

"It's easily tracked by that but we're not feeling any of them," the witch told him. "Even if it were on a hellmouth we'd feel the energy it'd be putting out."

"Good to know," Stark agreed. "Can they be on the same place?"

"They'll want to join," she said, looking at Xander. Who nodded. "Did it know where they were?"

"No clue. I didn't ask. I figured knowing would mean someone would show up looking for the information."

She nodded. "That is a great point." She patted him on the arm. "Take your antibiotics when you get home, Xander."

"I did earlier. I'm fine."


He stared at her. "I am. Really. I've had worse from date nights."

"Fine. Whatever. Train someone to do your job?"

"Sure, find me another hunter. You know I've been looking. I've trained everyone who's come to me for it."

"Point," she said, scowling at him. He shrugged back. "Fine. We'll see if some of the coven's sons want to learn. I'd offer the girls but they'd try to keep you."

"Are they evil?" he joked, grinning at her.

"No but they're drawn to the chaos you've sucked up."

"Sure, blame me for being born near and raised right near the hellmouth."

"No, I can't do that. Your parents I'd like to meet and smack around for you however."

"They're probably in hell," Xander said dryly.

"Point." She looked at the heroes. "How can we at the coven help you?"

"Do you have any more information on this guy or the stones?" Tony asked.

She shrugged. "We're looking. Wasn't there anything in the main library, Xander?"

"Three books might have but all three are in the suspended animation bookcase," he said, looking at her again. "The only one that might have it I couldn't find the copy of."

"Oh, dear. Giles never got around to preserving those?"

"No and no one's found any other copies in any of the probates or any of the other areas that the old Council had stuff stored in."

"We'll look at those too. We're closer to most of them." She looked at them. "How else can we help?"

"When and if this Thanos shows up, will we have your help?" Steve asked.

She smiled. "Of course. We're not great on offensive spells but we'll gladly help against that cosmic being. We don't want destroyed either." She looked at Xander.

"They know they don't have to ask me. I'll come back from hell to help with that battle." She swatted him, frowning greatly. "You know damn well they won't let me ascend into a higher being. The Powers That Be would rather I die of dementia and a UTI from dirty adult diapers than let me go anywhere *nice*."

"Point," she said. "You did jump in."

"And you're welcome for still being alive because I did," he shot back with a grin.

"Also a good point. Well, they're not paying attention. Otherwise we would not have seen Loki."

"I don't think the PTB can influence the Asgard," Xander said. "They're not that all powerful."

"Perhaps. They might be of that mindset."

"Just because they believe they're the ultimate god doesn't mean they are," Xander said bluntly. "I can think I'm cute, fluffy, and nice but I know I'm not."

"True. We've never considered you fluffy, Xander. Nice certainly until you're forced not to be." He smirked. "Or you date."

"I had my nice days. They're long ago, before I found hunting."

"I can understand why." She patted him again. "You really must fight that infection better."

He looked at her. "What infection? Nothing of mine's infected." She cast a checking spell, frowning at what she saw. He looked. "Is it that thing? That's not an infection, Morigan."

"No, not that." She showed him what she felt.

"That's the hyena. I don't think antibiotics will work on that." He snapped his fingers. "They had my medical records. They knew not to give me painkillers thanks to my hyena possession coming out on someone in Africa. That had to come from when I had malaria."

Stark nodded, making note of that. "We can go looking for them. Make sure there's no other copies. Or of your bloodwork."

"I'll make a deal with someone to kill everyone who takes my blood against my will," Xander said dryly. "They'll be happy to eat them."

Stark gave him an amused look. "Isn't that a bit overreacting?"

"I got diseases by falling into a burial chamber because the ghosts were mad, Stark."

Stark blinked a few times. "How in the hell!" he demanded. Xander shrugged but grinned.

"He is a medium. He sucks up spirits," Morigan said, looking at him. "Though that's weird, Xander."

"On Thanksgiving so the Native Americans were giving me a 'fuck you for killing us' present. They were offended by Willow too. Anya was nearly sobbing over me being that sick."

"Shit," the witch muttered, shaking her head. "All right, we'll see if we can figure that out. We do know a few very nice techno pagans." She looked at Stark.

"Oh, I'm going to search it out and destroy it," he assured her.

"Good. Saves us some work, dear." She shook her head. "Let me get these journals back to the coven so we can send those SHIELD blokes back." She disappeared after looking up and touching her pendant.

"They store up power for those moving events," Xander quipped. He stood up. "Let me go eat so I don't get nagged by some more witches."

"I... can I run your bloodwork?" he asked.

"Must you?"

"Yes. Please?"

Xander sighed, nodding. Bruce got what he needed and came back to draw the blood then went to run it. Xander went home. Let them talk about him behind his back for a bit.

Steve looked at Stark. "If I ever get that burned out, force me on a vacation, please," he said quietly.

"Gladly. I'll bring you with me on one. I'll even introduce you to giggly girls on the beach." He looked at James, who shrugged. "Are you going back to your nagging him later?"


"Make him take a vacation," Steve ordered. "Or date someone easy."

"I can do that. He knows quite a few. He needs to restock anyway."

"Always a good idea," Stark agreed. "I need to do more for our stores. I'll get on that once I call Jane Foster." He got up, going down to his lab.

Steve looked at the others. "See if anyone else knows anything about mystical artifacts and this Thanos being." They nodded, breaking up the meeting. Steve didn't hear when Bruce went on a fit ranting about Xander's blood but thankfully he didn't need to know that much about Xander. He wasn't seeing him that way.


Xander got out of the limo, looking at the man meeting him. "While it's nice to get a ride in that thing, is this really necessary?"

"Our client needs your specific sort of help," the lawyer said. "The ride was a nice touch." Xander smirked at him. "Inside, please."

"Small problem. I'm going to be armed. No matter what I'm going to be armed. There are people who will try to take me out. As far as I can tell, that's a prison. That would be a conflict of interest. You didn't tell me that first."

The lawyer looked at him. "The driver is a guard."

"Is he HYDRA?" Xander asked.

The lawyer blinked a few times. "No. I've had him vetted but I can see why you would be worried." Xander nodded. "We will make sure you're protected." Xander walked into the facility, letting the guards pat him down. The guard followed him.

Xander looked at the head guard glaring at him. "Sorry but I do have people out to get me. Including having had HYDRA itself taking me hostage last month. I don't really want to be trapped somewhere I'd have to bite people to death instead."

"The guards will make sure but if someone gets your weapons we're all in danger."

Xander looked around then at him. "I don't take your people as the type that need weapons for that."

"True." He smirked slightly, nodding. "We will make sure you are not harmed, Mr. Harris."

"Thank you." He sent a text message then handed over his phone once it was sent. "If I don't reply in two hours, that one will start rescue procedures."

"Agreed," the lawyer said. Though he rolled his eyes. He and the driver/guard followed Xander to the cellblock they'd need. His client was led to a bare room with just a bolted down table and connected chairs. Nothing that could be used as a weapon. On the way, they heard people start to hiss that 'The Knight' was there.

Xander paused to look at one. "Does your clan know you're here? I can tell Chryst."

"Please do, Knight."

"I'll do that when I get home." The guy nodded. Xander walked on, grinning at the staring prison guards. "I dated his teacher. I have the utmost respect for their clan." He got let into the room, nodding at the man in there. "Your lawyer thought you might need my therapy services." The man snorted, glaring at him. "I'm Xander Harris." He sat down.

The man swallowed, staring at him. "You know about saving things."

"Have done it many times," he said with a grin. "So, what's the what? Why are you in here?"

"I've been leading a coup attempt against an unjust group."

Xander nodded. "I've ran into many of those. Some of them are a good idea and some aren't. Some are frankly wackos with religion."

The man burst out laughing. "That is true. Mine are not. Mine are just. Our ruler is evil." Xander nodded, pulling out some paper and a pen. "Are you going to make notes?"

"No. All my notes are made at my office in a sealed area where no hackers or snoopy people can get to it. I know more about many people that others would like to hear than they have figured out." He grinned. "I know Mesca. He doodled while we talked."

"I heard about him." He sighed, looking at him. "My sister worries me." Xander nodded. "She is going to be married off by my people to keep the line strong but it won't be good for her."

"Does she need help getting out of the area? Depending on the situation I know people who could help."

"I need to not want to smite my second-in-command."

Xander grinned. "If your second is David? Too late. Someone smited him last week. Something about a peaceful group that had warriors so he got all offended...." He grinned again. The man moaned, nodding. "I heard they left most of your people alone though."

"That's good." He tapped the table a few times. "I have great anger."

"Great anger can change the world if you focus it or it can give you a heart attack if you don't. Which type do you have?"

"In here? I have the second. Out there I was doing good. All this is political," he sneered.

"Yup," Xander said with a nod. "It always is. You should see what the US has done to some of their quiet teams who handled problems for them."

"I've heard. Is Jensen's team all right?"

"The last I heard, yes. They got found innocent and taken from that horrible place to work for the people fighting evil. I'll tell him you said hi." The guy smiled. "Let's go over where you still have ways of getting the anger out. It's not good for you and if it gets too much it'll probably cause a riot that'll get you dead." The man nodded, slumping some while they talked. It was good for him. Xander gave him good ideas on how to get some of the anger out. Stagnant anger wasn't good for anyone, especially one that had a history of violent revolutionary actions.


Xander walked into a bar, nodding at the bartender. "At least I canceled the 'come rescue me' alert," he said at the heated look he got from a few patrons. He stopped at one table, staring at the young woman. "I just saw one of your clan at the prison I had a client at," he said quietly. The woman stared up at him. He grinned. "Thinning, dark hair, looking like he's got some liver damage from the yellow tones to his skin." She moaned, shaking her head. "I told him I'd tell someone in the clan that he's there."

"Thank you, Knight."

"Welcome. That place didn't seem that great or that right. The few I saw were people like leaders of unpopular revolutions."

She nodded. "I'll tell the leaders."

"Tell her I said hi?" She nodded, sipping her drink. "Thanks." He winked and walked off. Outside there was someone running toward him with a gun. He stared at them. "Why are you outside of lower Africa?" he called. The man pointed the gun at him. Xander threw something at him that made him scream as it ate him. "Poker debt, dude. It'll keep eating you. Tell me before you die?" He walked over to stare down at him. "Why are you coming at me with a gun? Why are you here?"

"You're going to be sacrificed to end the wars," he moaned. "Make it stop?"

"I'm not merciful. I've never been merciful to those who want to kill me." He felt someone come up behind him and turned, zapping them with his taser. They screamed and went down. "Sorry, Officer. I'm blind on that side. All I felt was you sneaking up on me." He helped him up. "Sorry. I thought you were one of his minions. He said he wants to sacrifice me."

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

"Former Council." He shrugged. "Apparently I stopped a battle or something that they're mad about." He waved a hand at the guy. "He's part of a group out of lower Africa."

"What's wrong with him?"

Xander grinned. "Demon byproducts I won at poker. I don't do playful with the people who're trying to kill me. That's his assault rifle laying there." He pointed at it.

"Jesus," he said, crossing himself. "I should still arrest you."

Someone walked out of the bar, lit a cigarette, then walked the other direction. "He's not a cop, Harris."

"Thanks. See you Tuesday?"


The officer attacked him and Xander tossed him onto the other guy, making them both scream. Xander grinned at them. "Hi. How're you?" He called someone. "I need to be me. Come pick me up please?" He hung up. The officer was trying to get the things off him. The other guy was begging for mercy. Xander looked at him. "You tried to burn kids to death inside a hut for being born," he said bluntly. "Fuck that shit." A car pulled up at high speed. Xander looked at them. "Hey, Steve. You shouldn't be down here. It's not nice people." He walked over to a nice sedan pulling up, getting into the back. "Thank you. Home? Either one?" The guy driving nodded, taking him home.

Steve Rogers looked at the car, taking a picture of the license plate to look it up later. He looked at the people being eaten, shuddering as he called in something to help them. The dispatcher was blunt that they did not send ambulances to that area. He told them why and she apologized but said it was against protocol because they got stolen from or killed. He called in to the remains of SHIELD. They could come get them to question them. Steve went into the bar to talk to a contact about HYDRA. He'd have to ask Xander when he saw him the next morning.

Part 5 by Voracity2
Clint and Natasha showed up at Xander's house the next morning, staring at him while he ate breakfast. "Should we even ask why you have a cult to you?" Clint asked, sitting on one side of him.

"Or how it affects your current job?" Natasha asked.

Xander grinned, putting down his bowl. "It was Anya and Dawn's fault. Anya spread a lot of information that no one wanted to get out, and it made a few younger demons curious. Most of them aren't the sort that have jobs, like Anya did, but they heard her complaining a lot about only getting five orgasms a night." Clint moaned, shaking his head. "She complained a lot until I stepped up my game with her. Which is why I have *fantastic* stamina." He grinned at them. "Then Dawn quipped one day that a few of the young ladies drooling on me should start a cult instead. It'd get Buffy to quit nagging and picking on me about them. So...a few have.

"They do things like heavy training and sword training for others. It's not a religious cult, though they do say that orgasms are a holy experience." He shrugged and grinned. "They're really nice. I love them. They're great young women. There's like ten of them the last time I knew. I love to sit and talk with them. I gave them Anya's trunk of toys too when I found them. I figured they'd like them more than I needed them."

"Trunk..." Natasha started then shook her head. "Like a steamer trunk?"

Xander grinned and nodded. "Two. I only found the other one last year in our storage area I didn't realize she had rented. That one had the more special ones. I suggested Andrew take a few of them out as unusual weapons."

"Beating someone to death with a dildo would probably inspire more fear among some people," Clint quipped, then shook his head quickly.

"Well, one's made of cold iron," Xander offered. "And it vibrates. Heavy as shit but real damn handy when used as a protection. Cold iron keeps out a lot of things." He shifted, crossing his feet. "I can build a protection circle out of the whole group of them. Plus have a few leftover that're just pretty."

Natasha blinked at him. "Whose car was that last night?" She wasn't going to think about that many sexual aids. She didn't need that sort of thing anyway.

"That was technically my ex's second-in-command." Clint stared at him, mouth open. "I was really sick. I had a high fever. I killed her ex-husband as he was changing into a demon. Her people made her marry me to protect her because otherwise she was just a lady in charge of an intelligence group in the Middle East." Natasha gasped, staring at him with her mouth open. "We had some fun, we worked it out. We're divorced and she's got a better spouse, or did before she died or something. Every now and then I need help from them. With the client call I got yesterday I had to activate a 'come get me if I don't come out of there' thing so they were expecting to pick me up. Though it is nice to have a driver sometimes."

Natasha closed her mouth and cleared her throat. "You were married briefly to *her*?"

"Yeah." He grinned. "She nursed me through the fever and everything. It was really sweet of her. I adore the lady, or did since I heard she had died, but we both knew she wouldn't help me go train the slayers."

Clint blinked a few times. "'Tasha, we're talking about...."

"Yes, we are," she interrupted. "We have no idea if there's listening devices around here or not, Clint."

"I know." He looked at Xander. "Well, she was dangerous." Xander nodded with a grin. "She was mean and deadly when she had to be."

"I know. She nearly killed one of the cult members who came over to try to save me from her." He grinned. "They worked it out. They were allies before she died. I wonder if her new husband is okay."

"No," Clint said. "His family did it to take her out." Xander grimaced. "Then for some reason they blew up without any bombs."

"Way to go, ladies," he quipped. "I should talk to Curtis, see if he's okay." He found his phone to call him. "Curtis, are you okay? I just heard last night I should've sent letters a few months back." He listened, smiling. "That's sweet of her but I don't need it. I have Anya's stuff." He laughed. "Good point. I'm figuring my ladies handled that since I heard about an explosion? Great!" He grinned. "Yeah, I'm good. I've finished my counseling degree so I'm doing therapy for guys like me.

"And ladies of course," he said with a nod at Natasha. "Yeah, that's why someone spotted her coming in here. Are they okay? Are they a problem? Oh, you found a HYDRA cell. Need help? They keep threatening me and I'm not amused. No, not amused like in Kenya. Not amused like I could open up a hellmouth and feed all their unworthy bodies to it. Then stand there and laugh while the kraken plays with her new toys. I think they'd make *wonderful* tentacle toys. Don't you?" He laughed. "Exactly!
"Yeah, I'm home. I have a few clients and friends here but it's cool. They just found out about you guys last night so they're a bit upset with me not sharing that, but then again I'm going to show them how to set protection circles later anyway. Thanks, Curtis. Let me know if I can help. Okay? Good. Be safe, man. The world doesn't have enough of us." He hung up then stood up. "Let's go teach you guys how to do protections."

"That HYDRA cell?" Clint asked.

Xander grinned. "Gone. Way far gone." Clint nodded. "Curtis said he's sending over things to Stark's tower. Protection circles so nothing can come near you guys? HYDRA was into the mystical before so I won't put it beyond them." They nodded, going up to the working area in the attic to be shown how to do protections, even using metal dildos as anchor points for the circle. Natasha was blushing a bit but it was okay. She looked into Anya's trunk and went bright red. Xander looked then pointed. "That one's a demon model but they can't mate with humans. That's them soft. Hard they'd rip us a new one. Literally. Though there are a few porn stars that can handle it. They're kinda popular in the demon porn circuit."

Clint looked then at him. "Wow. I feel inadequate. Just like when I caught Thor in the shower."

"His is equitable to his size," Natasha said, making herself quit blushing. "That's soft?"

"Yep," Xander said, calling up something on his phone to show her. The funky music showed what it was even before the sex started. "It's a cheezy 'worship me, my minion' plotline but one of my clients went mentally dead for a few hours when he found it online." He let them see it.

She watched, eyes wide when the woman actually managed to get the head of the enormous dick into her mouth. "She's got to be a competitive eater," Clint muttered. Xander burst out laughing but Natasha hit him on the arm. Then the actress mounted it and...well, Clint was in awe for one reason and Natasha was horrified for multiple others. She turned it off, handing the phone back to Xander. She cleared her throat. "I can see why another client went mentally dead. I want to wash my brain so I don't remember that." She walked off shaking her head.

"Let me send that address to Stark," Clint said, taking Xander's phone to get the web address. He sent it to Stark's address with a short 'found this thanks to Xander and Natasha' message. Then he walked off to get a beer and forget he had seen that.

Xander giggled, cleaning up the teaching mess. That was so cool! They needed the mental reset anyway. It was always good for their mental health.


In the tower, Stark got the email and clicked on it, blinking when the funky music started. Then he saw why. He had to rub his eyes. There was no way that thing was real. Then the bimbo proved it was. "Oh. My. God," Stark muttered. "Damn!" He looked around and turned it off, shaking his head quickly to clear it. He sent that to Coulson in case he needed to know about demon porn. The 'minion' had been wearing a HYDRA symbol on her chest in the center of her tattoos. Maybe she was a member too.


In Coulson's office, Bobbi Morse saw the email coming in and winced. "Coulson, I can already tell you that's going to lead to a demon porn video. The," she cleared her throat. "Actress has a HYDRA looking tattoo on her chest."

"How did Stark find demon porn?" Skye asked.

"From Xander. One of his other clients found it and Xander had to tell him about that species. It's...horrifying in some manners and impressive in others." Coulson stared at her oddly. She got into the video, fast forwarding a few minutes. "See?"

He looked, then blinked. "Okay then." Skye looked, went bright red, then walked off shuddering. He saw the 'actress' mount the demon. "Is that real?"

"Yeah. Anya had a fake one that was one of them soft and it's horrifying for normal girls to mount. Hard it would rip us apart. Clearly she's stretched a lot since she took it all in and then some. Then up the ass." She walked off. Coulson took something for his headache and went to lay down for a bit. She ran into Skye. "Yes, that actress is HYDRA. She's a failed agent trainee but an excellent sniper." She went to giggle to herself since Skye looked like she wanted to cry. Of course she'd have to tell Melinda May to get permission to go 'gather' the agent. Melinda's 'eww' in the showers a few minutes later was loud enough to set Bobbi giggling again.

She almost thought about going to see how much it'd cost to have demons take out more HYDRA cells. They might have fun with that. Xander certainly would.


Xander and Andrew ran up to where the witches were trying to send those SHIELD guys back home. "Stop it!" Andrew yelled. "You're doing it wrong!"

"You're going to merge the damn realms!" Xander yelled. The witch flinched, staring at them. "Don't make it worse!"

Andrew got into their casting supplies, taking the things they needed to do a defined border. "If you don't have the border, you pull their realm onto ours. Then we're all fucked with double the problems plus all the other things that Rosenburg took with them." He walked around the team, doing the proper borders around them so it was in a defined space. Xander sighed in relief. Andrew grinned, coming over to help the witches. She had another friend sitting and glaring at everyone. "All right, let's get this done."

"All our stored energy went there," she complained. "You ruined their chances."

Andrew stared at her. "I'm stronger than that and I'm a light powered witch," he said dryly. "If you're that weak, you shouldn't be trying this spell anyway. It'll drain you to the point of death if you don't have enough power to hold the portal steady for a few minutes." She huffed off. He waved at her back. "I'll let them know." He looked at Xander.

"You know magic and I don't usually get along, 'Drew."

"I know. Can you get another one?" Xander pointed behind them at the huffing matron witch. "Good! She didn't define the boundaries!"

"You could have killed her with the backlash!" the witch said, trying to swat him.

Xander got between them. "If we had let her finish, she would've merged their realm with ours. Which means twice the problems plus all the things that Rosenburg took with them. Without any slayers since their world doesn't have them." The witch went pale, shaking her head. "Yeah!" He nodded. "Now, want to help Andrew send them back properly? It could be a great help. Really." She huffed but shoved Andrew out of her way. "No, he wants to help. That way we make sure it's done properly and you don't kill them by accident. The spell calls for a balance of casters."

"How do you know?" she sneered.

"Because I read it," Xander quipped back, glaring at her. "Twice even while we were researching it." She huffed, turning her back on them. She started the portal spell. Xander looked at the guys. "Don't walk through until you see your own realm. Otherwise you'll get stuck somewhere." They nodded. The portal started to open and Andrew stepped up to stabilize the portal for her. The older matron slowly fell down, then groaned and gripped her chest. Xander got her help while he kept her alive. A few more witches showed up to help Andrew, and they did get the guys back home. Andrew collapsed in a sweaty mess on the grass. The other witches clearly needed help.

The paramedics rushing their way got a look from Xander. "They were sending the extra SHIELD people that got brought over home. She tried to power the portal spell herself and it's causing her heart rhythm to go off-beat. Andrew's got exhaustion. The other witches too probably," he said quietly. They nodded, starting with her while they got more help. A young demon came over with a large jug of apple juice. "Thank you, dear." He kissed him on the cheek, smiling at him. "That's really helpful." The demon grinned then ran off. "Here," he said, handing it over. "Apple juice."

"Did he add anything to it?" the paramedic taking the jug asked.

"No, his kind immigrated about ten years ago due to a horrendous civil war. They don't have any gifts like that." The paramedic nodded, letting the old ladies drink from it. Andrew got it last, gulping it. "'Drew, you good? Should I call your assistant?"

"I'll do it," he said, flapping a hand and handing the juice back for another round. "Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome." He helped lift the older witch onto the gurney. "There you go, guys." They nodded, taking her off. The rest got taken to the ER in the other ambulance to be treated for exhaustion. Xander followed so he could at least take Andrew home to rest on his couch. The witches were strong enough to nag so Xander glared when he heard them. "He did what he had to do. The first one was a snotty cow to him and her mom or whoever wasn't any nicer. They didn't read the spell, they didn't do any research, they didn't realize it'd take more than one caster, and that the spell called for balance. You're lucky it didn't kill the young one starting earlier when it would've backlashed into bringing their realm here. The vision showed that wasn't going to be a happy outcome by any means." That shut them up. He got Andrew out to the car and home to rest. The witches could handle their own things and complain to each other. They were good at it already.


Stark looked at Xander before the next meeting. "What do you call a male witch?"

"If they're nature path sorts, the sort-of Wicca or Druid following? A witch. A wizard has other sorts of skills that aren't related to natural power flows. A warlock is an oath breaker. A sorcerer is really a more powerful wizard, like the PhD level instead of the high school level of a wizard. A mage is super powerful, has more than one type of skills, and usually has studied a hell of a lot of stuff. Loki was probably a higher level sorcerer or a lower level mage." Thor looked over. "Wasn't he?"

"He was a lower level mage," he agreed. "We have a few of the higher powered mages on Asgard."

"Hm. So the witches calling Andrew a warlock was a bad thing?"

"It's something for us to scream at the old biddy patrol that showed up about," Xander agreed, sending that text to Andrew. He could scream at them. "Then again, we busted some of them for doing stupid shit. Including not even reading the spell before they attempted it. That's some Rosenburg level of BS there," Xander said when a witch appeared glaring at him. She flinched back. "How arrogant were they? It called for a balance, which the old biddy patrol didn't have. Didn't use. Nearly destroyed themselves and two realms attempting. Don't even blame us for them not having the sort of sense of a licking toad!"

She huffed. "I had no idea what happened." Xander told her then Stark produced the tape from the park's cameras. She groaned, taking it back there to yell at them. They heard the 'I do not like being rightly compared to Rosenburg' yell then they cut off the spell leaking that.

Xander grinned at Stark. "Thanks."

"Welcome. Let's go talk about this cult of yours, Harris."

"They're really nice ladies. Very protective. They handle some issues in their areas." He shrugged. "They're great young women."

Stark blinked at him. "It's a cult. To you."

"Yeah. To the guy that I became as a hunter." He grinned. "They're really good at protecting around them. I can trust them to handle things if I can't get there."

Stark shook his head with a sigh. "Do they have a shrine to you?"

"No that I've ever seen. If so, it's probably got me holding weapons." He grinned. "I was known for it before the Rosenburg Moving Day."

Stark trudged off shaking his head. Thor cleared his throat. "Is Allisandra one?"

"Yes. She is." He grinned. "She's a great trainer for footwork and staff battles. I take some time to train with them every year to keep up my skills."

"That's wise for a retired warrior," Thor said.

"I can't be fully retired, Thor. No one else handles demon problems outside of us," he said dryly. "I still get six or seven a year. This year's was just really nasty."

"I can agree with that," Steve said. He looked at Thor. "Are there warriors that are bored on Asgard? They could come help. That way they didn't have to worry about Xander being in the wrong part of the world."

"I have suggested such to Sif. She's asking to see." Xander hugged him then sat down. "Where is my brother's staff?"

"Technically, he was just borrowing from Thanos. It's Thanos' staff." Thor sat up straighter, staring at him. Xander grinned. "It left an imprint and I'm very open to possessions. Beyond that it's in a safe that I don't even think about having in case someone might want the other things in there."

"Anything new on that Thanos guy?" Steve asked. "His goals or anything?"

"Thanos is the Mad Titan," Thor said. "He wants to rule all so he can destroy it to please his lover, Death."

"Ah, Lady Death," Xander said with a nod. "Met her once. It was right after a huge battle. One of the slayers had been drawn into it by her people tossing her ten-year-old self into the battle. For which I blew them the fuck up. But she had prayed to Lady Death to spare her so she could someday be a proper woman with a husband and all that. I got her out of the battle as soon as I spotted her but she had gotten a few injuries. Including one that nearly cost her a hand." Steve grimaced but nodded.

"Lady Death came to see her handmaiden and praised her for lasting so long during the battle. The little one cried a lot over that, we had barely gotten her to the point of figuring out what a slayer was and she hadn't equated slaying with killing until then. I got her calmed down and talked to with the older girls. Lady Death praised her for making a choice that was right for her, to not patrol. She praised the other girls for being such good handmaidens too."

"So the Grim Reaper's a lady?" Clint asked as he came in and sat down.

"Yeah. The goddess over death is a lady. A pretty lady," Xander said with a grin.

"Hmm." Clint nodded. "They say death's a bitch and has bad timing." Xander burst out laughing, nodding a bit. "Okay, that makes sense. So this Thanos guy wants to destroy everything so he can give more death to his lady friend?"

Thor nodded. "As we have it written in tales, yes," he said. He looked at Xander. "Not many mortals have seen her."

"Thor, I dealt death to a lot of things trying to hurt others," he said bluntly. "I have since two weeks before my sixteenth birthday. I'm surprised I only saw her that once."

"I can see that point," Steve said. "Though I never think about any bodies I leave behind."

"Kinda hard not to since I've had a few battles where we've had to wade back through them. Turok-Han don't go to dust when you kill them."

"Who?" Thor asked.

"The minions of the First Evil. When my town sank, we were in the hellmouth seal's area to fight her and lock her back inside. We came out and one of our people dying was what led to the sucking and fully closing of the Sunnydale hellmouth."

Thor blinked a few times. "That takes seven slayers."

"Yes. It did. Willow activated all the line. That's why I spent the next few years in Africa training slayers at home." He grinned. "That way they got to be normal girls with a really crappy destiny problem but they knew how to handle it for as long as they could. The First destroyed the Council. We rebuilt it as it should have been all along, supporting the girls so they got to be mostly normal girls who had a choice about patrols and things like that."

"That makes more sense," Thor agreed. "How many were there?"

"Willow took six hundred and some with her. The only one not accounted for is one that disappeared during the convergence in London. She disappeared through a portal."

"Nay, she fell and was injured. They treated her but six months later her mind left her after a bout of screaming. We thought it an attack," Thor said.

Xander nodded. "That's about when Rosenburg decided to take all evil from this realm by moving them and the slayers to another one." Thor shuddered. "Yeah. She didn't think too far ahead either, especially since 'evil' isn't the only problem. It left a lot of others. Including vampires and demons willing to make deals and others that've caused some problems. Because it's not considered *evil*."

Thor nodded once. "How bad that was."

"Yeah, it was. I was healing after a battle. Andrew and I were in for the big yearly watcher meeting but we were out and about helping stop a minor problem so we'd have a few days of peace and quiet. That's why he and I got stranded here without all them. Now Andrew works for demons rights and sometimes goes out to handle bigger things in a super-armor costume. I became a therapist for guys like us and I handle what I gotta handle."

Thor nodded. "As was really the only choice." He patted him on the arm. "Can you use the staff?"

"It has an independent power source, Thor."

"A stone," he said quietly. Xander grinned but nodded. "Oh, dear."

"It's fully shielded. Not even the witches can find it in that safe vault."


Xander grinned. "I'm more worried about what other special weapons have made their way down here. The stuff the dwarves made. I always admired the myths of dwarves."

Thor smiled. "They are nice beings. I enjoy talking to them. They made my hammer."

Xander grinned. "I saw. Someone who does D&D stuff got their language right. Andrew and I can both read it."

Thor laughed. "That's good to know." He looked at his hammer. "The others have tried it if you wish to."

"No. Because of how easy it is to possess me it could harm the hammer or cause it problems in the future. Beyond that, I'm not the white light warrior you are, Thor. I've had to do some bad things to protect people. I'm very much a light gray knight, not a white knight. I'm honest about myself."

"Good. That's always healthier. Though I did not think my hammer possessing."

"If it wasn't, it wouldn't be able to pick someone worthy to wield her," Xander said.

"Good point." He smirked at him. "You show some of the wisdom of an Asgardian warrior."

Xander smirked at him, winking a bit. "I've only dated one. Must've been from contact with him." Thor burst out laughing, clapping him on the back.

"You dated an Asgardian?" Steve asked. Xander nodded. "When?"

"Africa. He's a displaced warrior. He was really fun and taught me how to fix the weapons easier than I had been. Really nice guy. Bit of an ego, thought he didn't have to give as much pleasure, but I proved it was worth his while since he said he hadn't gotten to see the heavens that way in years." He grinned. "He had a vision during it too."

Thor shook his head. "That is always the best there is." He patted Xander on the shoulder again. "Do you join the team?"

"Only for huge demon battles. Usually I'm the guy that you come work on your heavy thoughts with. I'm their counselor."

"That makes much sense and is something many warriors can use before they need an entire ale house to rest most nights." Xander nodded at that. "It is a wise man who works on his weaknesses."

"It's not a weakness to have battles affect you," Xander corrected. "It's a weakness to think that you don't have to work it out. The human mind can only take so much of seeing horrible things before it warps itself and that is what causes problems. Talking about it or working it out with someone else is always preferable to letting it warp you until you're unable to do anything but fight or unable to move thanks to your mind locking up on you."

"True," Thor agreed. "I had not thought of it that way. Many warriors tell their stories to the younger warriors."

"Which is both a warning and working out their own mental demons," Xander agreed, smiling at him. "My door is open to you as well, Thor. I know you can't share battle stories the same way down here. We can talk about whatever you need to, including the confusing things that women do."

"Aye, she does," he agreed, shifting in his seat.

"Tell me about it," Clint muttered, glancing at where Natasha was talking to Bruce in the kitchen. Xander grinned at him. "I've been married and they still confuse me."

"The slayers would've loved you," Xander quipped. "Both as a big brother and an object to tease."

"There's times that would've been okay." He grinned back. "Is Leo on your couch today?"

"I think he's going through the battle videos for Coulson while eating my dill pickle chips. Or that's what he was doing when the security system sent me an alert."

"Why would he want to see them?"

"He's trying to profile Xander," Natasha said.

"I think he wants to turn Bobbi and a few other females into slayers," Xander quipped with a grin. "So he's getting evidence of them being weirder than you guys are. Including the booty shorts during a battle thing."

"I saw the one that looked like a flashback to disco," she complained, sitting down.

"We got her out of the club."

"It was daylight," she complained.

"She was in Brazil."

"Never mind," she said, shaking her head. Xander grinned. "Was she native to there?"

"Panama. She went to Brazil to do college."

"Hmm." She shook her head slightly. "Is there any hope of getting them back?"

"We can't even find the realm they're on. If so, maybe. It'd take a lot of power. Which is why Willow didn't manage it when she tried, but she didn't know the proper name of that realm either." She nodded once. "Though I am going to kick Rosenburg's ass for it. I even made someone promise me I could come back from the dead for a few minutes to kick her ass over that."

"I would too," Clint agreed.

"She's now a whole category of stupid ideas. She's kinda their goddess. We use her as a verb sometimes." Clint burst out giggling, nodding.

"I knew there were some strong witches down here," Thor said.

"Yes, she was. She was linked into the two hellmouths. We weren't sure why she was so powerful. She went from closing the stupid hole in Sunnydale to resticking a soul." Thor gaped at him, looking worried. "She's the one that redid Angelus' soul spell." Thor slumped. "She's also the one that nearly took out humanity in her grief. There was a temple to some goddess she nearly pulled up in her grief."

Thor hung his head, nodding. "We had heard of that one."

"Same witch."

"Hopefully she is helped?"

"I really hope someone did and kicked her a few times for it too," Xander said. "I'm too close to the situation to get healed if she shows up. I can't get beyond the 'I'm going to kick her ass' feelings." He shifted to get comfortable. "So, why the meeting?"

"Detroit," Steve said.

"Oh, yeah, that one," he sighed, shaking his head. He texted someone, who sent back one a few minutes later. "Yeah, as far as the demon bartender circuit knows it's still on." He looked up, putting his phone back once he had answered about owing someone ten bucks. "Has the governor and mayor quit threatening yet?"

Steve shook his head. "No. They both sent us threats."

"I sent one back saying we could not show up if they were that adamant and they'd have to deal with it themselves," Stark said. He grinned. "That got an even worse threat. I turned the bomb over to the FBI."

Xander nodded. "I've done that twice. The agents huff then sigh then say they can't do anything about it because he's a governor." Xander grinned. "I promised if he sent me another bomb, with pictures of the bomb and his fingerprints on the second one, that I'd gladly return it to him. So I talked to another agent, who yelled at the two FBI agents, and got it turned over to the Secret Service so they can find his bomb maker for us." He grinned brightly at them. "And then I told him if he did it again, I was going to talk to the one that owns part of him to see if he'd call in his debt early. Surprisingly I haven't heard from them in about two weeks."

Steve burst out laughing. "That's nearly evil, Xander."

"So is what they've done to Detroit," he shot back with a grin. "Sending me a bomb two days after a battle? He's lucky I didn't freeze it and send it back." Steve shuddered.

"We'll let you rest for at least a week afterwards before we bug you," Stark quipped.

"Speak for yourself. I'll be over to nag about injuries if I can walk," Clint said.

Xander grinned. "You do have nagging rights about injuries. I let you have that. I'm too used to being nagged by the slayers so I let certain people do that."

"Sure, we can let him and James nag," Steve agreed. "It'll save me if I get too injured."

Stark looked at him. "Nothing's going to save you from being nagged if you get too injured. He'll stalk you all over the tower and probably all over the city, to nag you about injuries." Steve nodded that was true. "He does make a very good mother hen."

"It's the old instincts," Xander told him. "He used to have to take care of Steve so it's a good sign that his memories and old urges are coming back to the surface."

Steve nodded. "He's done good with that. He walked up to me the other day and swatted me because he remembered saving me from another fight in an alley."

"Did he get you yet for your habit of jumping out of planes without a parachute? Or out of the SHIELD building to fall on your shield?" Xander quipped, staring at him with a slight smirk.

"No. Please don't tell him?"

"That's up to you. Or him finding it on the news. They were replaying it the other day while praising you for handling the emergency in DC."

"I noticed that they only mentioned him and Natasha," Clint said, grimacing at Steve. "They said it was great how we had rehabbed the Russian assassin into being a heroine that saved a school from demons." Natasha rolled her eyes from where she was sitting and reading.

"I only worry if they mention me," Xander told him. "Because then we get protestors and the idiots who wanted to die that way." He smiled. "It makes things easier when people forget me."

"Where did you get the money to buy the house you use?" Stark asked. He turned to look more squarely at Xander.

"Short term loan while I was in college. I did a lot of the fixing up work myself. Why?"

"Because JARVIS was helping Hill run a background check, without my permission, and it came up that you basically bought the house for cash. You paid off that loan about four months later. Also, we share an investment guy."

Xander shrugged. "Must've been where Anya put her cash to make baby money."

"Anya?" he asked.

"My ex that I nearly married? Her. She had been a demon for over eleven-hundred-years, Stark. She saved some now and then. She still gave it to me when she died. Even though we had been screwed over by some of her coworkers to get her free and back to work." He shrugged. "We worked all that out. We were still friends and she didn't have anyone she wanted to leave it to. I haven't really looked at any of that. I used the insurance payout for the maiming," he said with a motion toward his missing eye. "Insurance is made for that sort of thing. I had put it into the bank to let it grow while I was training the slayers."

"You had disability insurance at your age?" Stark asked.

"I remember hearing about Anya but not why you two broke up," Steve said overtop of Stark.

Xander grinned at Tony. "Yes, I did. I didn't even realize it until I went to ask before graduation's battle but I did. It's meant to help you retrain to do something else I guess. Which it did, I retrained beautifully in Africa while it was making baby money for me." He looked at Steve. "Her coworkers interfered, mostly to get her back. Before the wedding, they showed me how horrible we'd end up. I'd turn into my paternal unit. We'd be poor, which she hated. We had kids, which I later realized and made her talk to me about it. She went on a swearing rant at her coworkers who had helped break us up."

"You didn't want kids?" Steve asked.

"Steve, mermaid taint, dear," Xander said, giving him a pointed look. "Nearly impossible by what we knew then."

"Still is," Stark agreed. "So they broke you up?"

"Yeah, so she could get her job back. Which she did, then she realized she had a conscience again, which made her lose her job again, and which is why D'Hoffryn hates me more than anyone but the Powers That Be do." He smirked at the group. "Which is why I know I probably won't die in a battle. That would give me martyr status and they'd hate that."

"So you made her start to care about people again?" Steve asked.

"No. She cared about people, she had some friends among the other wish demons. She was broken hearted when D'Hoffryn killed one of them because Anya had asked to rescind a wish that made her want to puke. Which sucked majorly since Hallie was one of the ones that's really needed in today's world." Steve slowly shook his head. "Halfrek was over lost childhoods."

"Oh!" He nodded. "I get that. And that one killed her to prove his power...." Xander nodded, grimacing some. "That sucks."

"Yes it did. There's been plenty of people I wanted to call Halfrek on but he never fully replaced her position. So someone has to do it the normal way."

The window burst inward as someone slid in from the roof on a rope. "There's a door right there!" Stark shouted with a point. "With stairs! Even Loki wasn't *that* stupid!"

Xander stared at the guy standing there with the automatic weapon. "Really? You chose to do that? Interesting."

"You're coming with me."

"I'm going to fuck you up in ways that'll make you think I'm a God, boy." The man menaced with the gun. "No, guys, let me," he said, standing up. "C'mon, you want me, come try me." He waved him on. "I'm even without a visible weapon." The man started to sweat. "C'mon. You want me, come get me." He waved again. "I'm right here."

"Come with me!" he ordered, then cleared his throat. "You must come with me. I won't hesitate to wound these ones." He blinked at the growl from the kitchen. "Um...."

"Oh, that's Dr. Banner probably. Or you've *really* pissed off the woman. She's not that nice and she's tougher than a slayer." He waved again. "C'mon. You want it."

"Our boss wants you."

"Your boss can come see me like a normal guy. I'm open to new patients." The guy with the gun snorted but by then Xander's little ball of goo friend had come out to roll towards him. The man shook the ball off but it grew each time he shook. "You probably don't want to do that. It reacts to kinetic energy," Xander said calmly. "In about two minutes of moving it'll swallow you. If you don't move at all, it'll take about ten. So we have the time to talk about why you thought that was a good idea and that I'd actually go with you that way." He moved closer. "So, your boss?" he asked with a slight smile.

"Reg..." he said, blinking at him. "You're not the mean one."

"Which one did you think I am?"

"You're Wells."

"I'm Xander," he said with a smirk. "Andrew would've killed you in interesting ways. I'm just gonna torture your dumb fucking ass for trying me. That's how I make sure others don't try a second time." He moved closer again. "Now, your boss Reg, was it? Is that his real name?" The man shook his head but the thing climbed further up him. Xander grinned. "I have the stuff to cancel it but it's at home. I can ask someone to get it for you but the only three people who can, one's out and about right now on a mental health road trip and the other two are here. So your choice of cooperating or you can suffocate because I can call the one that's in the wind first and chat with him to make sure he's still okay." He stared at him. "Now, Reg....?"

"Reginald White." He swallowed, looking at the stuff that was around his waist. "He wanted Mr. Wells to recruit him so we could use his brain."

"I doubt Andrew would like that."

"We wouldn't care," he sneered.

"We would and Andrew's got enough poker debts to have you all eaten." He stared then grinned suddenly. "Don't worry, you'll have fun with that. Who does Reginald White work for? What group or agency?"


Clint walked over to look, using a fork to pull the guy's wallet out. The goo got on the fork but Clint dropped it before it could climb up to touch him. He looked at his wallet. "Natasha, run him?" He looked him over, finding a pass card in his t-shirt pocket. "AIM?" he demanded, staring at him.

"Well, Andrew did have some crackhead ideas," Xander said dryly. "But he's usually too busy to use them now. Though it was really Warren that had the crackiest ideas. After all, he made his own robotic girlfriend and you couldn't really tell she wasn't real. Or the Buffy bot he made for Spike. There's plenty of times I couldn't tell she wasn't actually Buffy." He pulled out his phone to call Andrew, inputting the emergency code when it went to voicemail.

"Andrew, hate to bother you but someone from AIM just tried to kidnap me because he thought I was you and they'd adore making you want to work for them. So fair warning there's idiots looking for you? Yeah, them. Great. Thanks." He hung up, putting his phone back in his pocket. He smiled at the man, making him shake. "Andrew said he'd *adore* talking to your higher ups. I think I'll help him by being a genial backup." He walked off. "I'll see you guys later." He held up a hand, stopping Clint and Steve. "It's not a huge problem. I'm going to have some friendly tea." He smiled and got onto the elevator, going down.

Steve pulled out his phone, hitting a speed dial. "Please tell me you're somewhere in the city or near Xander's house. AIM just came for Andrew Wells and thought he was Xander. Xander's going to go *talk* to them." He winced. "That's why I'm calling you. He said Clint and I can't follow. So we'll meet you in ten minutes? Great." Clint grabbed his necessary things. Steve got his, and Natasha followed them onto the elevator. "Bucky's going to meet us."

"Great," Clint agreed. "We'll probably need it."

Steve nodded. "Yeah. He's a bit upset."

"He hates the idiot idea patrol. He ran into one of them in Africa. There's a hidden picture of them tied up like they were a big game hunt trophy and Xander ended up summoning animals with bait scent from what he said when I asked him about that picture in the safe."

Natasha shook her head. "It's a move I could appreciate. Why did they want him?"

"They think he'd make a great figurehead," Clint said.

Steve nodded. "He does. I'd hate to see him if he had wanted to start a cult." They got off the elevator. Outside there was a car waiting. They got in and went off. Bucky could help them straighten out Xander when they finally caught up to him.

Upstairs, Bruce and Tony were taking samples of that goo so they could figure out how to cancel it when one of their teammates accidentally got hit with it. The bad guy could be picked up whenever someone from security made it up to them.


In Scotland, Andrew hung up his phone and put it into his pocket then went back to the table. "Sorry, Xander just had to warn me that there's some psychotic idiots who want to kidnap me so I can go back to inventing full time." He sat down, smiling at the staring people. "AIM wants me and thought I was Xander." A few who had met Xander shuddered. "Yep. So that was kind of a timely warning." He turned and threw something at the door, the same sort of goo.

The person who ran in, who had been whistling, ran into it and screamed as it covered his head. "The more you move, the faster it suffocates you," he called. "Sorry but I'm not into AIM and I only create weird, wacky things for myself and Xander these days." He looked at the others, smiling. "Now, let's go back to talking about the local community?" he suggested. They nodded, getting back to it.

Andrew could go out as his not-real-well-hidden superhero identity later to deal with those.

If Xander left him any. Or gave him any of the toys. That might be nice. Of course he made better, but he was also sane, unlike AIM's people in charge.


Xander had nicely disguised where he was going so he got there first. Well, and he met Bucky there. "Did you lose them?" he asked.

"Yup." He pointed. "They're dealing with the guy buying stuff."

"Aw. That's sweet of them. I need to pick out Andrew's birthday present. Of course, he can make better." He held up a vial. "Antidote?"

"Gee, thanks." He took it before Xander could roll the thing in there. The rolly polly little ...thing giggled and a gas came out. Someone tried to shoot at it but it made it laugh more. More gas came out. More people shot at it. More gas. They were all really upset now. And then the giggly thing expanded and ate people. Bucky watched it. "That's gross."

"Yup. But I love the little thing." He walked in to pet it. It lapped him before lapping Bucky then rolling off to find new friends to gas and eat. "They're so great and they reproduce like tribbles under a certain dome in Saudi Arabia." He walked around it and inside the lab. "Knock knock. You guys wanted me to visit so I am." He grabbed a woman in a bun and a lab coat, spinning her out then back, dipping her at the end with a smile. "Hello, gorgeous. Are you evil and badass enough to be one of mine?" He kissed her, making her moan and go to her knees, staring up at him. "Hiya, Beatra."

"Xander," she moaned. "Why are you here?"

"Someone here thought I was Andrew." He grinned. "So I'm here since they wanted me to be." She started to cry. "Come help me pick out Andrew's new birthday present. He'll appreciate using it to make something better." He helped her, smiling at her as they walked off. "Oh, leave Bucky alone." They went toward the rest of the labs. The guards were panicking but oh well. Xander smiled at one, blowing a kiss. "I remember you in Tbilisi. You were so hot. Coming with us, baby?"

"Th...the bosses," he said, nearly crying.

"They invited me to show up at gunpoint. Of course, they thought I was Andrew but still. They even blew in a window to make an impressive entrance instead of using the door that was a few feet over. No, leave Bucky alone. He's a great guy." He walked that other former lover off. They found the lab and his ...friends had to get him into it because they knew that Xander would calm down with weapons. Bucky was looking so confused but oh well. Xander cooed over the weapons. He picked up a few to test, then put them into his bags. The former friends were helpfully pointing out things that would make Xander less amused. Him being amused was bad. Very bad. Then Andrew got there. "Andrew!" He grinned and handed over something. "I picked this out for your birthday."

"It's cute. What does it do?"

"It's a molecular atomizer," the scientist said.

Andrew grinned at her. "Thank you, sweetheart. I know you're probably one of Xander's so I won't even try for a cheek kiss or a friendly handshake." She giggled but Xander kissed her and they walked off together, going to the labs. People there were screaming in fear at the newly spreading demon. They walked around it with a pat. "I love those guys," Andrew cooed, pausing to scratch one behind the mouth. "Such great buddies." That one lapped him and then ate someone who was pointing a gun at them. "Thanks, sweetheart. Oh, a boy," he said when that one exposed himself. "Cool!

Xander patted another one. "Are you a boy?" It showed him. "Awww, a girl. You guys have a party. They're mean sorts and they wanted to eat Clint. They'd love you having celebratory fun." They walked on and found the bad ideas vault and then the disease vault. The scientist tried to block them from it but Xander picked her up and handed her to the guard. The gas was now making the humans want to rut with the demons. They were happy to have new fun things to insert. Xander laid a charge in the disease vault, downloaded the bad idea vault into his special carry bags. Then they went to the higher offices. Andrew downloaded all the computers onto his devices and they were done. Andrew handed over antidotes when they ran into the other heros. Xander grinned. "The antidote keeps their expulsions from bothering you." He strolled off. "Okay, I'm going home now. Thanks for playing," he called with a grin and a wave. He winked at his former friends. "Want to come with me?"

They ran to him so they'd be safe before the demons used them as sex toys too. Andrew got them sent home. Then Andrew looked at the heros. "He's insulted but he'll calm down sometime. I hope." He waved then disappeared. The heros got to go back to New York because they weren't going in there. They didn't want to deal with the demons. They didn't want to look at the demons. They didn't want to know what the demons were using the humans for and they especially didn't want to be included in that game. So they'd go calm down Xander.


Xander smiled as he let his two friends out of his house. "Have a great day, guys, and happy job hunting." They grinned and ran off together. They were going to go into hiding. Xander had worked out how for them. They could pretend to be married and all that good stuff. The agents waiting let them run past. They could talk to them later. Xander grinned and waved. "They quit last night and they were very helpful."

"Sir, we need to talk," one of the agents said with a smile.

Xander grinned. "Try it. I'm having a lot of fun today. AIM thought I was Andrew." That agent shuddered. "Exactly. So I had to play. Playing is fun and two of my ex's were there. Now they're going to hide and be together so AIM can't find them."

"Sure," one agreed. "What was that thing?"

"What thing?"

"The pink thing, sir. Please don't play stupid?"

"Oh! They're Lolli's. They're native to Saudi Arabia. They split to spawn but they have a few useful gases and they like to be shot at." He grinned. "They're so much fun. They love me. I'm like a favorite pet."

"There weren't that many humans when agents got in there."

"They need protein and stuff to reproduce."

"Um... If they split, how do they do that?"

"They eat them."

"I don't want to know," the second agent said. "You can't keep those things you got off AIM, Mr. Harris. The president said we don't need those for apocalypse battles."

"No, but I have a vault where I'm keeping things from bad hands. Like the club drug that succuba and incubi use to make new ones. Stark was fiddling with it a bit but it makes you insanely needy to take it hard for six days. I used it to stop a demon invasion but I'm making damn sure they can't release it in a club."

The agents nodded in unison, looking scared now. "Why did they make that?"

"They're down on recruiting."

"Oh," one said, looking at his partner. "Can we see in there?"

"You can see part of it. Part of it's so hidden I don't even think about having that vault so no telepathic people can find it from me."

"Sure, can you put the freaky things in there?"

"Yeah but it might go wonky from the staff that Loki used. HYDRA kinda had it. Pity they had me hostage and it at the same time."

"Can we confiscate that?"

"Have you made sure there's no HYDRA people in your agency?"

"No," one admitted. "We've tried."

"I know I'm not going to use it unless I have to. If HYDRA or someone got it again I'd have to use the AIM weapons to get it back, guys." They nodded together. "But, sure, I can brag on part of the vault. C'mon in. Oh, and you can tell Brad too. I see him and I know your boss knows I see him as a client."

"Are you a doctor?"

"Therapist for agents and officers." He grinned.

"I understand why, sir," the second agent said. "You've probably seen things worse than we ever will."


"Great. Let's call your client in. Can he get into it?"

"He's one of the few that's allowed on a few levels."

"Great," the agent repeated. He called that one in through their boss, who sent him over in the fastest car they had. They walked in together, going up to the vault areas. "So, you see him as a therapist?"

"Yeah. Bad incident when I was in the military."

"Hey, no judging. A guy like Harris has seen worse." Xander nodded. "Including last night." Xander nodded again.

"Last night?" his client asked.

Xander grinned at him, making him step back away from him. "AIM thought I was Andrew. They had a guy bust in to kidnap me from a meeting at Stark Towers." The agent whimpered. "I called a Lolli."

"Oh, God," the agent moaned, turning to run to the bathroom.

"We'll wait in the main area for you," Xander called after him. He got them into the security system, handing them the proper badges. "This'll keep off the security system for today. The code changes daily though." His client followed, grabbing his own badge. They went through the apocalypse vault level, getting nods from the agents staring at the weapons. "Sometimes you gotta have something big."

"Yeah, you do," his client agreed. "And I like that I have borrowing rights for emergencies."

"You do, even if I'm there. Someone's got to back me up sometimes." He grinned at Brad, who shuddered. "Oh, come on. Just because the next one's in Detroit and they're threatening to kill us for handling it for them...."

"Enough, Xander. Be giddy later please?"

"Sure." He led them into the confiscation vault, letting them look around. "Don't. Touch. Anything. They're all boobytrapped."

"Okay," the agents agreed together, walking around to look like it was a museum.

One pointed. "What's this?"

Xander grinned. "One of my former lovers infected that lube with a disease. I didn't want that in the open."

"Thanks," they agreed. They moved on, staring at something under a tarp.

"This one?"

"Confiscated from a demon who stole it off that idiot guy Max when he was bothering the world. I didn't think they needed a sonic nuclear weapon."

"No, I don't think most off-world demon wars would need something that big," Brad agreed. "Can Stark have that?"

"No. It's safer here. Here, someone breaking in to try to grab it would mean they'd die horribly. There.... Not as bad." He frowned, noticing a door was open slightly. He opened it and looked then smirked at the note. "Oh, Deadpool was here." He called Clint. "Find Deadpool and take back the bazooka if you can? He left me a 'thanks, needed this and the lube' note. Thanks, Clint." He hung it up. "No idea what he needed it for but if anyone runs into the stupid that I do, it's him." All three agents grimaced but nodded they realized that. They went back to looking. Brad pointed at something, looking at Xander. "That's from Cindra. Her suitor gave it to her to court her but she said I had to hold it until they could decide to be together. Then they got taken and he pouted but didn't want it back. It shoots poisonous goo."

"I'm surprised Deadpool didn't take that one," one of the agents quipped.

"I don't think he knew what it was," Clint said as he walked in. "He said your defenses are neat. Very unique ways of killing him repeatedly. He had to use it but they deserved it." Xander took it to check over then put back. Clint found the bags of AIM things, pouring them out to go over. Xander took a few things to walk them off and stuff them somewhere. The rest the agents took note of and helped Xander put away. Clint showed them another confiscated vault area. They were appreciative of some of those things being out of normal hands. Xander clearly wasn't normal. They watched as a guy in a red and black bodysuit with mask and swords ran in and upstairs.

Xander followed him. "Don't steal from me," he called as he walked. "Ask nicely, Deadpool. Before I sign you up for therapy."

"I could use it."

"Yup, but you're like my twin sometimes," Xander joked. He stared at him. "What is it?" He showed him the picture he had taken. "Oh, Bert. Bert's not harmful." He looked at the expanded picture, pinching it bigger. "Oh, oh, that's Corte, his ex-girlfriend." He looked around then led him to another room, handing him something. "Only killed by colloidal silver and mercury." He found something and held it up. "Know how to use that?"

"Yeah. Not that different."

"Cool. Oh, huge demon event in about four weeks in Detroit. The higher ups in Detroit are threatening the lives of anyone who dares to show up to handle it even if they're all killed." He grinned. "Jump in if you want."

"Yeah, I can do that. If I had been near LA I would've done it then. I keep missing all the big battles. I barely made the one in Manhattan. Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome. Tell Andrew happy birthday if you see him. It's in three days."

"I will." He smiled. "I like Andrew. He's like me only sane and doesn't like Mexican food or Bea Arthur."

"No, he had a thing for Bond girls and Marie Curie."

"He's a geek, that makes sense. Thanks." He left, taking the weapon to help Bert, who was one of his poker buddies and contacts.

Xander went back down. "Bert's ex Corte is here."

"I don't wanna know," Clint said with a grin. "Him helping in Detroit is most welcome too." He walked off. "I'm going back to the tower."

"Okay. Eat something. You're getting skinny and I'll nag you like your ex would. She said to."

"Yup, I will, Xander. Plus tell her to nag herself."

"Um, she ran into Ward and she's in the hospital. I called her last night and was going to visit after dinner." Clint turned to stare at him. "Find my phone." Clint jogged off to find it and burst out swearing. "She ran into Ward," he called.

"I can fix that dick too," Clint called back. "Thanks, Xander." The door slammed a minute later.

Xander grinned at the agents. "His ex-wife."

"Have one of those myself," one said. "Two actually. Who's Ward?"

"A HYDRA guy that had been put onto Agent Coulson's team to control him." He grinned. "When he was revived by Fury's orders."

The agents grimaced. "I'm so glad ours isn't like SHIELD. If we die, we just go and are honored." They shuddered but went back to make a report with Xander's client. The president was waiting on them too. He was slightly amused but agreed that some things might need weird AIM weapons. Plus Xander would keep it out of usual hands until he had to use them against someone like HYDRA, or Deadpool.

The president suggested that Xander perhaps take over AIM by making them a cult to his skills. By the time he got back to the office, he had a new doctor's appointment scheduled to make sure he was all right.


Xander came down to make breakfast the next morning, finding a few people waiting on him. "Huge incident?" he asked. "Did I suddenly grow a skill and fart while I was asleep, destroying a block?" he asked at the continued staring.

Clint shook his head. "No, not even you could do that, Xander. We need to talk."

"Sure. I'm here for that."

"About your dating habits and your collecting ones," Steve said, sighing at the end.

"Hey, I can only date who likes me, and if I have those weapons no one else does."

"We can hide them," Natasha said.

"You can't guarantee someone won't get them from you," Xander said.

"Neither can you," Clint said.

"Clint, did you notice that a three floor house has a seven story vault?" he asked dryly. Then he grinned. "Andrew and the coven did it for me so I could securely hide things. And if not, I can go hang out with my cult and they'll guard it for me."

"The fact you have a cult is worrying," Steve said.

"I didn't ask."

"Point," Clint agreed. "It's too bad you can't date people like the ones in your cult."

"I did. You drove off the last two."

"I did?" Xander nodded, giving him a look. "Huh. Sorry." He shrugged. "Can I help you get them back?"

"Probably not."


"Guys, I'm sorry you don't appreciate the ones who like me enough to date me but there's not much I can do about that. Me going out to pick up lovers never works, I tend to get thrown out of clubs for being creepy because I only have one eye. The ones who like me have never been nice though. I do try to keep you guys apart."

"We worry," Steve said.

Bucky nodded. "A lot. Your last one here was bad for you and everyone."

"Which one?" Xander asked. "None of mine are generally genocidal. A few have issues and are homicidal but not usually genocidal."

"The AIM twits," Bucky said.

"Oh, them, they aren't either. They're actually hiding together now. Um, no, one's a guard and a really good one. He got taken in when AIM overran his old job. She was a lab assistant that got sucked into a germ doc's thing after he paid off her college debts."

Clint nodded. "Still. Try? Please?"

"I have tried. It doesn't work. There's never been anyone interested in me who isn't at least badass or a bit warped. Even Anya was dangerous. That's why she got offered the job as a vengeance demon." He walked around them. "Let me get some coffee." Clint pulled him back and Steve handed him a cup. Xander sighed, staring at them. "Unless you're going to brainwash someone nicer than you guys are to like me, there's not a lot of hope that your intervention is going to be helped any. Unless you really want me to be celibate?"

"No!" Clint said, shaking his head. "I saw the last time you went without for a month. I'm pretty sure I got you drunk to cure it and you ended up with four gang members." Xander nodded, grinning into his coffee. "Can you at least *try*?"

"I do try but I don't usually ask them more than what they do for a living first. And hey, you haven't seen some of my one night stands. A few of them make you look like a pussycat. Though...." He snapped. "Sarah, that's her name, said hi." He went into the kitchen. "What'm I making for breakfast since all three of you are skinny?"

"I just ate," Clint complained.

Xander looked out at him. "I warned you not to make me nag you." He grinned. "Do I have eggs?"

"They were bad," Bucky said. "I threw them out last week."

"Oh, okay. Then maybe I'm not making breakfast." He put the pan back into the dish strainer and looked through everything. "Maybe I'm ordering food and then going grocery shopping."

"Have you ever dated a nice dame?" James asked.

"Yup." He smiled at him. "She just wanted a normal life because she had been chosen as an Incan princess."

Steve and Bucky shared a look. "Aren't they sacrificed?" James asked quietly.

"I think so."

"Yes, she had been, against her will," Xander said. He came back out with the coffee pot, refilling everyone. "All she wanted to do was be a normal girl, live a bit of life. She had to suck energy out of others to do that and I made her try me instead of getting Buffy when she was trying to stop her. She couldn't. I might've really liked her. Or Kendra if she could've gotten over the emotional blocking off that her watcher did to her. She had never even talked to a boy outside his view because he said so." He went back into the kitchen.

"You dated a reanimated mummy?" Clint demanded.

"She looked like the foreign exchange student she was pretending to be."

"Um...." Clint looked at the others, who both shrugged. "You couldn't tell?"

"We had barely gotten into our first date, which was a dance at school for the foreign exchange future victims the school drew in." He leaned out to look at them. "We had no idea."


"She was very confused by Buffy being such a girly girl though." He went back to making a grocery list.

Clint walked in to stare at his friend and therapist. "Have you never dated someone normal?"

"Normal is relative. The girls told me I was normal." Xander shot him a look. "Beyond that, it's not like nice girls who work in offices flirt with me. They won't let me flirt with them either." He shrugged. "I can only date those who like me since I'm not the rude sort that'd drug someone to date them."

"Point. We're just worried that they'll kill you."

"They all tried until Anya. She only tried to kill me in bed." He shrugged and grinned at him. "I love that you guys are good enough friends to try to talk to me about the bad ones who like me but there's not much I can do. They like me. No one else likes me to date." He shrugged again. "I can't really restructure that."

"I get that but can you take some precautions? What if one of them kidnaps you?"

"Then they'd better be prepared to pamper my ass like I'm a princess," Xander said bluntly. "And I'd set off an alert to you guys so you knew I wouldn't be here for sessions until I could destroy them."

Clint patted him on the arm, going to talk to Steve and James. Natasha was there for moral support more than anything, and to find out who he had dated so she could update their records. "Do we know anyone we can introduce him to? With the one that nearly kidnaped him the other day I'm still worried."

"I'll ask," Natasha said. "Someone must know someone dangerous yet slightly decent." She sent out a text message.

"If you get me new clients I'll gladly make you cookies," Xander called from the kitchen. "And Bobbi's phone was answered by someone else."

"Melinda May has it," Natasha muttered. "Though I do not eat cookies, Xander. They're not good for me."

He came out, tipping her chin up. "If you can't spoil yourself now and then with a small treat, then you're living a miserable existence. Are you?" She got free of his finger. He grinned, handing her a brownie. "The slayers adored the brownies I used to make when they were pouting about boyfriends. And don't feed it to Clint. He has to earn his own brownies."

Clint tipped his head back. "Since when have I been on the brownie reward system, Xander?"

"Since I feel like making brownies and to earn one, go shove the agents glowering on my doorstep so they quit drawing attention to me for the protestors they brought."

"Sure." He got up to go open the door and grinned at the staring agents. "Xander said to move it and take the protestors before he has them arrested for disturbing his peace. He's having a bad day and you're going to make it so he has to pet artillery to feel better. Or find another arms dealer to date." He stared at them until they slowly moved away. He grinned. "Better, guys, but shoo unless you have a warrant or you're a patient." He waved at the protestors. "If you don't like it, save your own damn selves. Not like we *want* to have the battles we'll be having soon in Detroit." They huffed off when officers showed up. The agents glared at him before storming off. Clint smiled and waved at the officers. "Thanks, guys." He shut the door, going into the kitchen. Xander pointed at a large brownie on a plate. "Thank you." He took it back to the living room so they could compile a list of people who Xander needed to date.

Steve got up to answer the door. "Yes, Officers?" He smiled. "Is there a problem since they left?"

"Sir, who lives here?"

Xander leaned back, waving a hand. "It's my home and my practice, guys. Problems?"

"Sir, who are you?"

"Xander Harris. I'm a therapist and used to be Council." One of the officers shuddered. Xander stepped back more fully, smiling at them. "They hated that I handle problems. They're whiny about it too. Would you guys like to get the death threats out of the mailbox and handle it or should I just hand them to poker debts?"

One officer looked, handing in the bills and other non-personal mail. Steve handed one back. "They reused the envelope. That's the third we've gotten in a Publisher's Clearinghouse envelope."

They opened it, looking at the note inside. "Someone's really bitter," the second officer quipped. Steve looked and plucked one out of the stack to open, letting him see it. "Yeah, that's definitely a death threat. I don't think even that magic stuff can make a tank fit up someone's ass. We'll take these in, sir. Thank you." He and his partner walked off talking about it. They went to talk to their supervising officer, who explained Xander to them. Yeah, they could help the poor guy.


Tony Stark showed up at Xander's house, staring at him when he opened the door. "Why are you driving my teammates insane?"

"I usually fix the insane, not drive them to it."

"Romanoff has been wandering around muttering about you."

He grinned. "She's been trying to figure out who I've dated in the past to update my files. I let her see a few of my journal entries."

"Do we really need to know?"

"She wanted to know."

"Uh-huh." Stark stared at him. "I heard you dated on the wrong side of the good guy line."

"I can only date those who like me and no one nice, sweet, gentle, and innocent has ever liked me, Stark. We're all really realistic about the people who adore me." He walked off again. "I didn't think you were interested in me."

"I'm not, only in the sanity of my teammates."

"Talk to them about it. Just like they came to me to talk about my dating, you can talk to them about why they're worried about my dating." His phone rang. "Hey, it's me." He smiled. "Well, Stark was just talking about my dating habits so you have weirdly good timing. Yeah, I'm free for dinner tonight. Where?" He winced. "Will I have to dress up? You know I barely have any dress clothes. Sure, I can do that. Just don't nag if I look like a dork. Sure, that's a great time. See you then." He hung up, heading upstairs to unbag his good clothes. "One of my dates wants me to go with him to his sister's wedding."

Stark was shaking his head. "Why?"

"Because he wanted a date he could talk to." He looked back down the stairs. "Not all dates end up in the bedroom, Stark. Or at least mine don't. Some of mine do like to talk to me about things." He went back to opening the vacuum bag so he could pick out which things he needed to hang up so they could unwrinkle. All of them made him look like a dork. He sighed, heading downstairs again to grab his wallet. "I've gotta go shopping. I look like a dork in all those." He left, going to his car. Stark could lock a door, he was that smart. Xander knew where the local department store was and walked in with a sigh. "I hate these places." He headed for the men's section. A saleswoman smiled at him. "I'm escorting a friend to his sister's wedding tonight. I look like a dork in dress pants."

"How formal?"

"Not a suit?"

"I can do that." She walked him over to help him find dress pants that didn't make him look like a dork. It even made his butt look nice.


Natasha walked out of her suite to stare at Clint. "Where does he keep personal information so I can finish filling in his file. It's wanted by SHIELD so they can push nicer ones towards him too as a test of their evilness."

Clint smiled, shaking his head. "Couldn't tell you. I know our files are in the totally sealed safe. No in or out options if you don't have his biometrics."

"Would his journal or anything be in there?"

"I'm not sure he always kept one." She grimaced. "You can ask Andrew. He might know."

"I may." She walked off texting him that question and why. Andrew told her to tell SHIELD to butt out before he told Xander's stalkers instead of his dates. They really wouldn't like that. She huffed but sent back they were trying to set him up to see if anyone was mildly rehabilitatable. He sent back to drop it and let Xander handle it. Xander got weird about being set up. The last two had been higher level peaceful demons. She grimaced but sent back they would like to send people at Xander to see if they were truly evil and handle the ones that were but perhaps add to his stable of friends with benefits. Andrew's answer back was a laugh.

"Fine," she muttered. She went to Xander's house to check on it. He was out of town with that date who had taken him to his sister's wedding. She frowned as she walked in. The house felt different. She put a hand on her gun as she checked. She ran into a doorway she never looked in and opened it, finding a hallway. There was no way that was in this house. She would've run into it before now. She texted Bucky, who showed up to help her. He frowned at that door too, going through it with her. The hallway was nice. It led to a spectacular drawing room that looked over a large yard and circular driveway. "Where is this?" she muttered.

Bucky shrugged. "No idea." They went to look outside, both inhaling the fresh air. "This isn't Europe."

"It's England," Xander said from behind them. "My security system said you guys had broken in while I was out and about?"

"I was hoping to find others you'd dated," she said. "SHIELD wants to use you to test how evil some are and let you keep any you wanted to."

He rolled his eyes. "No thanks. I'm not into arranged things." He stared at them. "So why come here?"

"I walked in and it felt weird. I thought it was your security system and perhaps someone else had broken in. This was a doorway I hadn't seen."

"Most people don't."

"Where is here?" Bucky demanded.

"Here is my house the Council gave me in compensation for me having to take out seven of them for harming the slayers." He waved a hand. "Welcome to England."

Natasha looked around then at him. "It's an estate?"

"It is."

"Do you have a title?"

"I could've claimed one but I didn't want that fuss. Though I was officially, covertly, knighted the year before Rosenburg's moving day."

She gaped. "Does no one know this?"

"You guys wouldn't trek to England to come talk to me and that house was mine before then. I had someone link a doorway." He shrugged. "The chaos mage was really sweet and great in bed when I gave him many bad ideas in payment."

She blinked, staring at him. "Does Clint know?"

"He's never asked."

"Does the weapons vault come here?"

"No. There's an armory here but it's not connected. The protections on it wouldn't let the link happen."

Bucky nodded. "That's sensible. Do you use this house?"

"I visit every now and then." He shrugged. "I'm not really the landed gentry type."

"Oh." They shared another look then at him. "Can we come here to defrag?"

"Yup, but they want to arrest you, Bucky."

"Good to know," he agreed. "I can be subtle."

"Sure. Want to go back to the regular house since the gate just opened?" He pointed. They went back there. Xander grinned and waved. "My patients, guys." He went back inside, locking the door behind himself, and followed them back to New York.

"Why have we not seen that doorway before?" Natasha asked.

"It only shows when I'm here alone or Andrew left it open. Which I'm guessing he did." He sent him a text message then looked at her when he got one back. "Really?"

She nodded. "They do want to do that, yes."

"That's nasty. No thanks. They can find me themselves." He smiled as he walked off. "You can tell Clint. He partied there when the original owner was alive."

She looked at Bucky. Who shrugged. "I don't understand that magical stuff either," he said.

"Good. It means you're sane."

"There's an assassin that uses magic. She's really good and you guys keep pretending she died," Xander called from the kitchen. "She's the scary bitch of the universe and she likes me but she's a stalker and not a date."

"Can we end your stalkers?" Natasha called.

Xander leaned out of the kitchen. "They're not scary about it usually but a bit confused. I've talked one of them out of liking me." He shrugged and went back to making sandwiches. "James, want a grilled cheese sandwich or two of them?"


Xander leaned out again to stare at him. "I warned you not to make me nag about your weight. You're looking *real* girlish." He held up a plate with a smile. "One or two?"

"Two please," he mumbled, going to get food. He got one for Natasha too. Then Xander came out. "Can you tell her about some of your other dates? That way they can maybe profile and slip one your address?"

"I don't mind talking about most of my dates but some wanted privacy." He looked at Natasha, who sighed but nodded. "How far back did you want to go?"

"Anyone who might be in the files," she said.

"Hmm, so stripping when my car broke down then. Though it was nice I had two agents who were mean enough to come tip me repeatedly. It meant I ate one week somewhere other than the strip club." He ate a bite of sandwich.

"Are they still agents?"

"As far as I know. They're both LA agents."

She nodded, eating a bite of her sandwich when Xander paused. "I should probably record this." She found Xander's tape recorder and settled with it, eating more of her sandwich. Xander would talk if she didn't make him nag her. She was hungry anyway.


When Melinda May got the tape, she had a lot of bad thoughts about agents. None of them had ended up being HYDRA but they weren't exactly nice, mentally stable agents most of the time. She wasn't sure if it was a bad sign that they were drawn to Xander or if they were trying to suck sanity from him and then became a bad sign.

Bobbi Morse slipped into the head office. "Xander has asked me to interfere with a plot," she said quietly, staring at Coulson. "And really, I think he's right."

He put down his pen to stare at her. "What plot? I haven't heard of any plots."

"That other SHIELD and a few of ours have decided to use Xander to test the badness of some people."

He grimaced. "I think that's distasteful at the extreme."

"So did he. He hates fix ups anyway."


"Natasha originally and now May."

"I'll stop it. I'd never use him that way. Send him clients from among the agents that need his help, but not set him up on dates. That's too personal and I've never been one of his so I can't speak to his tastes."

Bobbi smiled. "They were thinking he was a mildly evil detector."

"I doubt that would work, even if they are drawn to him." He got up to go stop that plot. "We are not a dating agency," he said when he walked into where Melinda was listening to a tape. "Tape." He held out a hand. She put it into his hand. "Thank you. Stop it. We're only sending Xander clients that could use his help to get back on a firm footing. Though I'd hate to see what he'd do to any he found were HYDRA. No more bad ideas, Melinda." He walked off to put that tape into his safe. Then he'd go talk to Natasha. She wasn't wanting to talk to him but oh well. He stared at her. "Do not upset Xander," he said quietly. "It is not up to us to help him date. It's up to his own personal tastes."

"Did you hear who he has dated?" she asked.

"I don't care. It's not my business. Frankly, as far as I've heard you're his type. Should we set you up?"

She glared. "I don't date. You know that."

"And I know why. That doesn't mean it's any less wrong to force yours to come to you." He stared at her. "You wouldn't do it to Clint, don't do it to Xander. Especially since that will probably harm your professional working relationship." She was glaring harder now. "I doubt he wants that sort of stress in his life. He has plenty being himself and a figurehead. It's like being an Avenger only a lot of people hate him for having to do it himself. Guys like Xander and Clint, they find a date somewhere when they want or need it. They don't need you to use them as a test. They'd hate that as you would."

He walked off. "Also, the police over there noted your presence. We knew about his gifted estate and title, Natasha. That other group may not but they don't look very hard at the important things." He looked back at her before getting on the elevator. "If you upset him, it'll upset others you do care about. Do you want to do that to Clint and Bobbi?" He got onto the elevator, going back to his office.

She huffed but considered that.

Clint leaned out of the kitchen, butter knife with jelly in hand. "I agree. Xander could use someone great. I doubt we'll find him one that won't end up harming him." He went back to making food. "Want a sandwich? I'm doing hazelnut butter and strawberry jelly."

"Please," she said. "That would not harm your professional relationship."

"Yes it would. Why would a full time lover allow us as much access as we need?" He brought her out one, already cut into quarters for her. He sat down on his own chair, turning on the news. "Besides, any true lover would make Xander slow down and he's not ready for that yet so he's probably going to keep it as playing around. That's why he's got six or seven casual friends with benefits." He looked at her. "You upset him and he'll have to drop you as a client, Natasha. Those are the professional rules he's got to go by. I'd hate that for you. You usually seem happier after you've talked to him." She glared but shrugged, digging into her sandwich. Steve came off the elevator. "SHIELD is trying to set Xander up with dates as an evil detector."

Steve moaned, shaking his head. "Has Xander heard?"

"He said to stop it," Natasha said.

Steve looked at her. "Please don't, Natasha. There's probably not that many who are good people who are drawn to his type since most of them seem a bit evil." He went into the kitchen. "Clint, did you use all the jelly?"

"Yeah, sorry. I put it on the shopping list." He ate another bite. "Coulson reminded her of how bad it could be too."

Steve came out, nodding. "I'm more worried about some of the HYDRA guys showing up to date him and how he'd have to handle it. He can't exactly harm clients by his ethics or professional code."

"He'd have to quit seeing them and then turn them in," Clint said. "If he played them to get info he'd be in violation and someone could yank his licenses."

Natasha grimaced but let that sink in for now. She needed a better plan. She wasn't sure why she wanted Xander to date someone but he could use it. It was the same feeling that used to make her try to set Steve up with a nicer girl. Maybe it was some sort of need of stability that she was projecting onto others. She'd have to talk to Xander during her later sessions about that. He'd understand, he did everything else, and was mostly mildly amused at them for it.

The End!
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