For Want of Something Done. by Voracity2
Summary: My Nano 2015 fanfic

The girls finally make Xander leave, so he's got plans. Big plans. Dirty plans when he finds a boyfriend thanks to Lorne. And if the hunters don't like it, yay.
Categories: Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Other TV Characters: None
Series: None
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes Word count: 104814 Read: 67353 Published: 02/14/2016 Updated: 02/14/2016
Story Notes:
Happy Valentine's Day, my people. Or Singles Appreciation Day if you're that sort.

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

6. Part 6 by Voracity2

Part 1 by Voracity2
Started November 5, 2015

Note: canonical death of major Angel character off screen.



For Want of Something Done.



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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I'm working on those too."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That's interesting. Who?"

"Harris."

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

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

"What is he doing?"

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

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

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

The demon nodded. "Good point."

"He still believes in comic books, Sire."

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

"Pity. May I go?"

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

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

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

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

***

Six Years Later

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

He held out a hand. "Xander."

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

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

"My aunt is with the coven."

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

"You still jumped in," she sneered.

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

"Do they unleash apocalypse attempts?"

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The what?" the reporter asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"So they drove you off?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xander smiled. "Practice."

"Oh dear."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where's the other?" he demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It couldn't have been!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes," she ground out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Who're you?" she demanded.

He smiled. "Xander."

"Do we know you."

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

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

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

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

"Yup, guess so."

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

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

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

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

"He was?" she demanded.

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

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

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

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

"Is that when he gave him to Spike?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"He drove up in a higher end sedan."

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

Gunn nodded. "Apparently." He walked off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

"How did you know?"

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

"Could anything help keep me?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No, her sister."

Xander winced. "Probably radiating from her sister?"

"Could be."

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

She nodded. "Are you busy tomorrow?"

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

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

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

"No, he's not that old."

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

She shuddered. "That's gross."

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

"Ravenor."

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

"Yes, it was his sire."

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

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

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

***

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

"Not a thing," the male leader said.

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

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

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

"Eww," the girl said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xander nodded. "That's always better."

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

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

She gaped then looked at the pack leaders.

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

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

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

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

"I guess I can see that."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Are they still around?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I can do that. She deserved it."

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

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

"Hey!" the female lead complained.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Good point. We can talk to her."

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

"He's in the office, Hunter."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where is she?" he demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You can handle it."

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

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

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

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

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

"Welcome, Harris." She strolled off.

"How does she know you?" Lorne asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Marabath, one of the secondary daughters."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We?" Buffy asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Thanks. Do an anti-pregnancy one?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Will others jump in?" Buffy asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I can do that. You have guards?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

"I'm already pretty."

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

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

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

"Pity, Knight." He strolled off.

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

"Yeah. I heard why."

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

"Yay me. How bad?"

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

"Your bed?" TJ asked.

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

"Sure, thanks. We can talk later."

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

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

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

"Thanks. I know Buffy worries."

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

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

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

She smiled. "You know."

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

TJ glared. "You don't understand."

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

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

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

"My mom cares."

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

"How do you know that?"

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

"You have guards?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Lorne."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Hembly hills."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Can you teach me?"

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

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

"Thanks. Anything good?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sounds weird."

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

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

"Yeah but I basically got raised by Rosenburg."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You can bake?"

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TJ moaned, moving closer. "Top?"

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

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

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

"Sometimes danger is good for a boy."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How do you do that?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We can get it from her."

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

"We can tell the slayer."

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

"That was kinda hot," TJ admitted.

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She smiled. "It's nearly nine."

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

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

"Could you?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Turkey."

"Oh. I thought they tasted weird."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She looked at him. "Did you participate?"

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

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

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

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

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

"I can do that," he agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***
Part 2 by Voracity2
TJ looked at Xander that night. "This is really weird. There's no magical anything going on, right?"

Xander gave him a dirty look. "I don't use magic, TJ. If it's weird to you that's because you dated jackasses before and I'm only halfway to that point." He ate a bite of dinner. They had ordered from a chinese place he knew about.

TJ thought about it while he was chewing. "I've never just done this domestic stuff right off the bat."

"It's that feeling of normalness that you haven't had," Xander said dryly. "I wondered a few times if I was cursed when I settled in here. I may look up to a few comic book characters for inspiration but suddenly having a *home* felt really weird." He put down his fork. "I had two different magic users I've worked with test me to make sure someone hadn't blessed or cursed me to find a home but lose it a few days later."

"Are you not from a home?" he asked cautiously.

Xander stared at him. "There's a reason I know how to handle any drunken moments or any OD situation, TJ," he said dryly. "I come from a family of them. Even though Sunnydale enabled them it wasn't a lifestyle I wanted to live."

"Enabled?"

"They let my uncle keep driving an ambulance even during his thirteen suspended licenses for DUI, in four years." He ate another bite of vegetable, staring at him. "That's why I don't hardly drink."

"I do," TJ said.

"Sometimes it's a good thing. Not always."

"It's the lube for a good night."

Xander smirked. "Not always. I find a lot of things more fun without alcohol involved."

"I find it easier to pick up people."

Xander shook his head. "I can hunt, stalk, and capture prey without it." He grinned. "I did pretty good the other night, right?"

"You did," TJ agreed. He ate another bite. "You'd have a problem with me drinking."

"Probably. Then again I can make it so it doesn't affect you but can't stop it doing things to your liver if you wanted. That would break the addiction cycle at least."

TJ dropped his fork. "It's a problem I have," he said firmly, staring at him. "But I'd hate that."

"Okay. If you want support, you'll ask." Xander shrugged. "That's a personal decision that only you can make. I can only be supporting boy." He ate another bite, then swallowed quickly. "We all have our vices, TJ. Some of them are harmful and some of them aren't good for us."

"Then what's yours?"

"I still have to go hunt vampires now and then."

TJ slumped, shaking his head. "I can't figure out why you would want to."

"Because no one else is taking care of them and if I don't, some other kid will someday become me."

TJ considered it then nodded. "I can see that. Have you taught anyone how to hunt?"

"No one asks me for that. The majority of other hunters are like jocks, they think with their shotguns instead of their brains. They consider me a traitor for leaving Sunnydale. Frankly, I consider them annoying bait."

TJ nodded. "That's sad. We shouldn't be protected by airheads and jocks."

"No, but we are," he sighed. "Unfortunately. And we have one in a few weeks." He smirked, eating a bite of dinner. "I'll be there helping but I'll show you where you can hide in my safe room during it if you want."

"Yeah, I... I don't think I want to see that going on."

"It'll be huge enough to be on the news," Xander admitted. "We just hope others jump in."

"I can tell my mother."

"There's a few dates they could do it. If we knew exactly when, we'd be warning people. I've handed over what I've heard. The official protectors of LA have hopefully spread it to others." He sighed and ate another bite. "That means I need to sharpen swords tomorrow. Want to help?"

"I have no idea how to do that."

"You can do it with a whet stone or you can do it with a grinder," Xander said. "Grinder's faster but you have to be more careful about angles. Doing it with a whet stone can take hours though. Since I'll be bringing extras, I'll use the grinder tomorrow."

"I can sit and watch."

"Sure." Xander grinned. "You can help me pick out what I'm wearing to the invasion."

"Yeah, I can do that. Do you think they told someone like an agent?"

"I'd hope so. I don't know that Angel wouldn't." He shrugged. "No clue."

"Great."

Xander nodded. "A lot." They got back to eating then Xander got them a glass of ice tea each to go to the armory. He opened a door. "This is the safe room," he said, looking at him. "It's got a hotline to the security guards and a monitor that leads back to the security system."

TJ looked then nodded, following him to the swords. "Can't you use guns this time?"

"I'm hoping so but it's easier to carry a sword. I'll be bringing a few guns with me just in case they are useful. It's a beheading situation most likely."

TJ shuddered. "I can't even imagine how much that must screw with you."

"Like any other combat service," Xander said with a shrug. "You do what you gotta do when it's you or them." He took a kiss with a smile. "That's why we come home to rewards like you."

"I'm not a reward," he snorted.

Xander smirked. "I couldn't handle a pure, happy, clingy reward, TJ. One that's got some personality and flaws and character is always better."

TJ actually blushed but moved to watch what he pulled down to pack for the emergency. "If it's not soon when it is?"

"Next two months. They need a specific type of sacrifice and if they can't get it they can't do it."

"Can we stop that?"

"Angel said he's trying."

"Oh. Who's Angel?" Xander pulled up the hunter site on the tablet down there, letting TJ read it. TJ burst out laughing. "Seriously? It's like a teen novel."

"Should've lived next to it," Xander said dryly, looking at him. "He lost his soul for a bit and stalked us all. It was a creepy mind game. He killed Willow's fish and Giles' girlfriend."

TJ shook his head, looking up Xander on that site. There was a huge warning at the top that Xander knew about the site, had edited his own biography since it was wrong, and was considered a part-time enemy. "They really hate you."

Xander looked and nodded. "Yup." He looked at his bullets. "I need to have more picked up." He made a note for himself. "There's a site that has a better look at my past but it's by one of the wannabe bad guys in Sunnydale." He got into that one for him and went back to picking weapons. TJ hopped up on the worktable to read it over, frowning at what he saw. Xander shrugged when TJ glanced at him. "It happened. I escaped."

"Yeah, you did." He went back to reading. No wonder Xander counted him as nearer to a reward. With his family he would've too. They went up to bed a bit later and TJ let Xander cuddle. He was good at cuddling, it was nice. Very comforting.

***

Xander was getting coffee downtown on the day that the invasion might happen. That way he was closer. Sure enough, they were right. Xander called Angel's hotel. "It's Harris, it's starting. The Wolfram and Hart building is glowing a fetching shade of blood red." He hung up and finished his coffee, buying a cookie on the way to his car. He drove off, parking in a parking garage, then got out to grab his battle harness.

It held two swords, his axe, and a few shotguns, plus extra pockets of shells. Xander tucked a box into his jeans pockets and closed the trunk, putting the keys under the bullets. He walked out, getting some bad notice. An officer came running over so Xander grabbed his arm and pointed. "That's going to explode. We're going to have a problem very shortly," he said bluntly, staring at him. "Of the invasion sort. Apparently no one got to stop their sacrificing stuff." The officer called that in. Sure enough, within ten minutes demons were streaming out of the building. Xander moved in to help stop some of them. "I'm not an army," he complained. "I should not be doing this on my own."

"You have help coming, sir," the officer yelled. "How do you handle them?"

"Beheading works on most things."

"Sure." Agents screamed up with sirens blaring and jumped in to help. Then Angel's people got there to help. The officer stared then at the agents, who shrugged.

"They're your protection team," Xander called. "This is their job, I'm just temping for the apocalypse battle."

"Sure," an agent called. "We've got military help coming."

Xander pushed his sweaty hair back, looking at him. "Let's hope they can shut the portal."

"How do we do that?" another agent shouted.

"We have someone going in to lay the charge," Angel yelled. "Don't shoot the fire heads, they take silver."

Xander waved a hand and pulled one of his swords to handle them for the agents. "This is a mild trickle, guys. Let's work on this?" They nodded, LAPD showing up to help. More hunters showed up with them. Xander looked at one. "Don't shoot the fire heads, they take silver. So does the blue guy that's *helping* *us*!" One of them nodded. "There's a lot of the peaceful community *helping*!"

"Got it," someone yelled. "How do we take it down?"

"Application of explosives," Xander said. "To the boundary but not the portal itself. Or else it'll warp and cause us more problems." He moved closer. "This is just a trickle, the portal's barely open. The visions said it'd be like Niagra when they got it fully open." The hunters winced. "Exactly. That's a silver," he said with a point. "That's a lead, that's a killed by wood. And I've got a few extra bullets." He killed the next one coming their way. Suddenly the building shuddered and twisted. "Shit, they hit the portal and not the boundary," he sighed. "Oh, damn it!" He looked around. "Angel! They hit the portal instead!"

He looked and moaned. "We can handle it."

Xander winced, rubbing his forehead. "Someone blow the damn building! All the way gone! That way we can kill the things coming through!" The agents were calling that in and the military people were responding to do that for them. Sure enough, the portal was stuffed with something stuck while trying to come through. It finally made it and the team in there blew it up but the rest of that plane came through. "Not peaceful!" he yelled. "They're not peaceful! It's a ruse!" The ones in front killed the agent trying to make peaceful gestures so they had a new battle on their hands. Someone was working on the portal to close it. It shut to that realm and the original one popped back.

"It's like call waiting," a hunter complained. "And there's the falls!"

Xander backhanded one demon then went back to fighting. He looked at the agents around him, shaking his head. "Pray later."

"We might not make it to later."

Xander stared at that one. "If I could do this at fifteen without training, you can do it now, dude."

"Point." They dove back in. That agent got injured but removed by the military's people. He looked at them. "They're all suicidal."

The medic taking care of him shook his head. "Sometimes you do what you have to do so you survive. Just like combat vets do." They got more out of the way and more military groups showed up.

Xander stopped a soldier, pointing. "Break the frame of the portal but not the portal itself or it'll reset itself again."

"Got it. Who're you, sir?"

"Harris. I retired from the Sunnydale team."

"Got it." He called in that order and they could handle that. They had explosives experts on hand to blow up whatever else needed to be gone. The portal got ended. The last few demons got mopped up but everyone was exhausted. The soldiers looked around. "We have medics over there," that one called over his loudspeaker. "To the right, people, and we can treat any injuries. We only need to know that you saved us, not anything personal information wise." Most of the hunters went that way. "Army teams, Marine teams, go building by building to find any survivors and civilians."

"There are peaceful species," Xander said loudly. "Do not harm them, they were helping us."

"I'm told there's peaceful species," the soldier said. "Do not harm them. Only take out the ones we've been fighting for the last few hours." The soldiers nodded. "Navy teams, go search that building, find any survivors we can charge, make sure that portal cannot be put back together. Brass is on the way in." They went to do that. He looked at Xander. "There's peaceful species?"

"There's a lot of peaceful species. They immigrated for the most part but that got them away from civil wars, droughts, and to somewhere they could raise a family safely. There's some that were naturally already here but they don't tend to come to LA. London... but not LA."

"Good to know. Who would we talk to so we could find out about them?"

"Rupert Giles taught me." He walked off.

"Medics, sir."

"I'm good. I do my own. Thanks." He grinned. "I'm a good boy that way."

One of the medics got in his way. "We can stitch you without doing anything else, sir."

"I got exposed to mermaids when I was younger, Captain. A lot of docs are really freaked out when I have spots of blackish blood here and there."

"I don't care, sir. It's just blood and I'll be wearing gloves. We treated the non-humans."

"Okay, I can let you do my stitches for me. Thanks."

"Welcome, sir." He led him that way, settling him on a bed to help him out of the leather weapons harness and his torn shirt. "Local?"

"I never use it," Xander admitted, looking at him. The medic nodded, putting on clean gloves to get into the stitching. Xander was doing the one on his own leg.

Buffy stomped over. "Why were you there, Xander?"

He stared at her. "Because it's an apocalypse battle," he said bluntly. "Why wouldn't I be here for an invasion, Buffy?" She glared. He stared back. "Do not take your post-battle stress out on me. I will beat you back, by hand if necessary." She stepped back, shaking her head. "I have my own stress I need to break, Summers. Go deal with your own however, but out of my face."

"Fine!" She stomped off.

Xander looked at the medic. "She thinks I'm *normal*."

"Normal guys don't use swords, sir. I consider you as weird as any comic book character come to life." Xander smiled and got back to his cleaning up.

***

TJ nearly pounced him when he walked in. "Are you all right?"

"Lots of stitches, but otherwise I'm good." He dropped the harness on the couch then flopped down beside it. He pulled TJ into his lap, cuddling him. "This is better than Buffy bitching at me in the medic's tent."

TJ shifted to look at him. "Need something for the pain?"

Xander stared at him. "I don't ever take it, TJ. I'm not used to it because I never had it. They took out my appendix and I didn't get anything." TJ shuddered. "I'm fine. I'd like to soak but I can't with the stitches. I'll take a washcloth bath later. Can I cuddle?"

"Yeah, you can cuddle." TJ let him, petting over Xander's hair until he fell asleep. TJ had made soup for dinner so that was good and he could help Xander calm down later. It's what boyfriends did as far as he knew. Though if he ever met Xander's parents or friends, they were toast. TJ answered the phone when it rang. "Hello?" He listened. "No comment, Marjorie. He's resting and calming down. Don't bother him right now please." He hung up but put the phone off the hook. Xander blinked at him. "Reporter."

"Pity." He laid down, pulling TJ with him.

"I made vichyssoise for dinner."

"Translation from the fancy word?" Xander asked quietly.

"It's a cold potato soup."

"Oh, cool. Later?"

"It's in the fridge and it's eaten cold." Xander nodded, letting himself drift off again. TJ settled in to be held and be comforting. What had been on the tv had been horrible but apparently it was worse than they showed.

***

Xander was out two days later, ignoring the people shouting at him. He glared at one that got in his way over the top of his sunglasses. "Watch me have something eat you," he said quietly. They backed up quickly. Xander walked into the building. He took off his sunglasses. "I got called to talk about the battle three days ago?" he asked dryly.

"Yes, sir, I'll call them down."

Xander nodded, getting through the metal detector then settling down to wait. It took nearly twenty minutes for an agent to come down. "You wanted to talk about that?" he asked, standing up to shake his hand.

"Who the hell are you?" he demanded.

"Xander Harris. Formerly of Sunnydale." He stared at the agent. "Are you not the one that wanted to talk about that battle? I could be being babied by my new boyfriend instead of this."

"No, we wanted to talk about that, sir. Why didn't you tell us?"

"I told the LA protection team. If they didn't tell you that's not my fault." He stared at him. "That's not my job. I left hunting for the most part. Well, I got driven out of hunting for the most part," he said dryly. "Thankfully I've found a better life without threats." He stared at the guy. "Anything else you wanted to know?"

"When did you know?"

"Angel's known something now for at least five months. When I got given concrete details three weeks ago I turned it over to Angel so he could handle it. While noting I'd be there to help when necessary because this was too huge for just them."

"We can't find this Angel person."

Xander stared at him then outside then back at him. "It's daylight. He may have a soul curse but he's still a vampire. I'd be really shocked if anyone can find him right now." He stared at the agent. "Frankly, if you asked some of his other teammates they probably knew just as much."

"We don't want to deal with a street gang member."

Xander snorted. "So you're going to discriminate against him for finding a way to protect a bunch of very vulnerable people because he's black and formed a gang to go hunt since no one else was? Sorry, but that's what hunting is, dude. We handle things because it affected us and we need to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else." He walked off, going outside. "Yo, I'm pissed off." The reporters stared at him. "The agent I was just talking to dissed Gunn for being brave and strong enough to form a gang to protect the most vulnerable in this city, the homeless. Any agent who's so down on them for protecting those who need it the most, the most snacked on people, isn't an agent I want to talk to. Can one of you guys tell others?" They all nodded. "Thanks." He walked off.

"Mr. Harris, we saw you with TJ Hammond at a club," one shouted.

Xander grinned, nodding. "He's cute." He got into his car and drove off. TJ gave him a pointed look when he got home but kissed him. "You are cute."

"I am," he agreed. "Don't bite back at the agents. It'll call more problems down."

Xander shook his head. "Not really." He took another kiss. "Let me go work up runes for Gunn to use in his protected spots."

"Sure. You go be a research nerd."

"Thanks." He went down to his work area to get back to it.

TJ sat down and waited on the phone calls. They'd come sometime he was sure. His mother had sent a text message to make sure he hadn't been at the battle but others of her people were going to fuss too. When someone broke in by kicking in the door, a forcefield hit them before he could move off the couch.

Xander came up the stairs, staring at them. "Are you really that desperate?" he demanded sarcastically. "Because I'm not happy and I'm about to blow some people the fuck up." He pointed. "Go, before I have your asses arrested." The security team ran in to handle them. "Thanks, guys. I'm working on stuff for Gunn if he shows up."

"Sure, Mr. Harris." He looked at the door. "At least we don't need the repair guy again." They hauled them off, nodding at TJ.

TJ looked at Xander. "Does that happen often?"

"The hunters who are like jocks," Xander said with a point. "They only think with their shotguns, not their brains or their dicks." He went back to work shaking his head.

TJ just nodded. "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome, sir." They cleaned up the mess and left them to calm down some more.

TJ just sighed. "They're better than the Secret Service. Plus they don't nag."

***

Xander settled across from Gunn at Lorne's bar, handing over a folded sheet. "These are runes that will protect the entries and windows at the shelter," he said quietly. "They will not allow anyone undead to get in there. It might keep some half-demons out if they have harmful intent but that'll take more runes and I've got a generalized warding pattern that would work for that if you want it. The same one the hospitals got would work."

"Thanks, Harris. And for sticking up for me."

"The agent was a jackass to sneer about you, Gunn. I've admired what you've done since I found out. Someone's got to do the real work and most of the hunters don't go near the poor or homeless." He smiled. "Be safe, man." He shook his hand and got up, going over to the bar to get a drink. TJ was at the bar. "This is Lorne's. They have anti-violence charms on the bar," he said in his ear. "But I'm here to meet with a procurer that has some books I want." TJ nodded, watching the people singing. Xander smiled when his contact came in but the guy winced. "No books?"

"Seven books but someone else wants them, Harris."

Xander smiled. "I'm keeping them out of bad hands. Plus I pay you a lot." He pouted at the pitiful look. "I pay in cash."

"I've still got five of the seven you wanted." He laid them out.

Xander winced. "Those two held a lot of bad knowledge and I'd hate to have to beat their ideas."

The demon slumped. "I can't tell you who it is."

Xander looked at him. "Only so many want the bad things, Derek. Not like I can't probably pinpoint them." He paid cash for the other five, then put the rest of the money back. The books got put back into the hidden bag, which Xander took. "Thanks. Got any of that special ink?"

"Not right now. No one's made any recently. Unless you're going to be doing magical markings?"

"I did learn how to use a tattoo gun for special ones," Xander said. "But I like to keep a stock in case. Ya know?"

"Yeah, I do," Derek the demon said. "Good luck, Harris." He walked off.

Xander grinned. "I'll talk to someone about getting them from the bad idea sources later," he told TJ. A few demons around them stared at him. He smiled. "I don't want to fight any more apocalypse battles, guys. It might keep Buffy here." They all shuddered. "My feeling too, guys. Anyone need my services?"

"One of the young scuts is setting up his own pack. They might need protection marks on their house," the bartender said, sliding over a card.

Xander grinned. "I can copy that for them." She smiled and walked off. He looked at TJ. "Let's go home then out?"

"We have to go home first?"

"I need to put the books in a safe."

"Hotel room?"

"Unsafe," he said with a point behind him. The growling one was sniffling him. Xander looked back. "I can negate the anti-violence charm just for me," he offered. "Get off my boyfriend." The vampire walked off pouting. He grinned at TJ.

"Sure, we'll hit home then go clubbing." They left together. "You'd steal them?"

"I'm keeping some bad sources out of bad hands," he said once they were in the car. "I don't want to let the worst things get out into the world."

"I can get that. Isn't that expensive?"

"Sometimes. Then again, I'll sell a few more 'summon a genie' kits." TJ laughed but let it go. Xander got them home and led him down to the safe room, opening the safe to walk in. TJ whistled, looking around. Xander grinned. "It's safe in here. No one can use it." He put those books up then came out and relocked the vault. He turned on the security protocols then they left to go tease at a club. He didn't think TJ would steal from him but you couldn't be sure about others.

***

Xander was out the next day and reporters found them. TJ was in the back of the grocery store. Xander had been loitering in comparing fruit. He still didn't like vegetables but fruit was okay. TJ agreed with him about that. He looked over at the staring person, getting out of her way with a slight smile. "I'm trying to remember if I like fruit."

The mother with the child in the cart snorted. "You shouldn't have to remember. It means you're eating wrong. Thankfully my kids will learn better."

"Home Ec tried with me," he quipped. He picked out a few and went to join TJ. That's when the reporter tried to pounce. He sidestepped the pounce, staring at the man who landed on the floor. "Don't pounce," he said quietly. "I'm trained to attack first and then quip." The reporter hopped up, staring at him. "Have a great day." He walked off.

"Mr. Harris, it's said that you know a lot more about all that nasty stuff that happened than you're letting on. The FBI still wants to talk to you. Do you have a statement?"

Xander looked back at him. "I gave them a chance to talk to me. The agent who was talking to me sneered about Gunn. If they seriously wanted to talk to me, they could call. I'd show up again to talk to some other agent who didn't sneer about Gunn." He shrugged. "They haven't mentioned a thing to me so I have no idea what they want. They haven't called, sent a letter, nothing. No agents showing up on my doorstep, or at my community's gates." He shrugged again. "As far as I know they've figured out that they should've been stopping Wolfram and Hart a few years back and didn't. Their failure isn't my problem until they make it so." He walked off.

"Are you gay?" the reporter yelled loudly.

Xander smirked at him. "I'm particular but not about how people have sex," he said dryly. "I prefer a certain personality type, brains, and beauty. Which is why you'll never make the cut, reporter guy. Have a great day before you embarrass yourself more."

"What if the people don't want gay people protecting them?" the reporter demanded, following him with his camera guy.

"Then I'd suggest they go take sword lessons," Xander said dryly, not looking back as he walked off. "Nothing says I'm the only one protecting people. I've run into a lot of hunters, and some even had the sense to be in the field instead of thinking their shotguns were their dicks." TJ looked over so he rolled his eyes. "Anything else, reporter guy? You're annoying me and I'm figuring out what's for dinner."

TJ held up a package of meat. "Pork chops?"

"I like me some pork chops so great idea." He handed over his carry basket so TJ could load it into the cart of things. "Anything we've forgotten?"

"Butter. You were supposed to hit the dairy aisle so no one saw you adding ice cream to the cart," TJ said dryly. Xander nodded, walking that way. TJ stared at the reporter. "If you hurt my friend I'm going to have to complain to your supervisor. I'm sure they'd *adore* that. Especially with you harassing someone in a grocery store. Get out of my face."

"Are you two together?" the reporter sneered.

TJ considered it then looked back at Xander then at the camera again. "As far as I know we're dating."

"We are," Xander quipped, not looking back. "Because you're the prettiest, meanest being I've ever dated."

TJ smirked at the camera. "Even my mother appreciates him." They backed off and the camera guy walked off first. TJ smiled and waved. "Have a great day, people. I'm sure your trash rag will be quite happy." He followed Xander, taking the extra two tubs of ice cream from him. "Get some butter pecan so we can get a frozen pecan pie?" Xander nodded, switching one of them out for that and the pie. They checked out and went back to Xander's place. "Should you call the FBI?"

"If they wanted to talk to me, they'd call or send a letter," Xander said. "Or if they're the asshole sort who hate hunters, they'd bust in here to try to arrest me. They haven't. Someone did try to search the house earlier. The security system told me, but if anyone breaks in certain areas are locked off so no one can get into my working areas or the vaults. Or the safe room without the biometric key." He smiled. "I coded you last night."

"I wondered why you were doing something with my hand. You could've just asked."

Xander took a kiss. "It's more fun when I'm sneaky." He got up to start on dinner. "Do you want the chops grilled or baked?"

"Baked," he said, looking back then going to help. "I can do that part. You make vegetables and stuffing?"

"I only have the box stuff."

"That's fine. You can add things to the boxed stuff to make it taste like homemade. Things like walnuts."

"I think I have water chestnuts." He looked in a cabinet. "I have mushrooms too."

"We can figure that out." Xander grinned, getting to work on the vegetables for now. TJ helped a bit to show him how to properly peel things but that was fine. Xander was younger and didn't cook all that often. His cabinets had shown that, as well as the dinner of popcorn chicken heated up with orange sauce to make easy orange chicken chinese style food. It had been interesting but you needed to use boneless wings to do that properly.

***

Xander called his head of security two days later. "We've had three different breaches into the security system," he said bluntly.

"They've had warrants, sir."

"Then they should probably come at me legally and honestly instead of continually trying the same stupid thing. Can you tell them that?"

"Yes, sir. They vowed to be back today."

"I can be home today. TJ, the agents who keep breaking in semi-legally are coming back."

"I'm going to call a friend in DC to pack some more of my clothes," he said, heading out once he had his jacket. Xander did worry a lot about him. It was sweet.

Xander looked at the head security guard, who shrugged. "Make sure he's okay?"

"I can do that, sir. They usually show up about ten minutes after you leave."

"If we have to and we're tired of waiting I'll let one of you drive the car off and wait."

"Thanks. That's a bad situation."

"They could've just asked. They didn't. That means they're probably demonic." The guard nodded, leaving him to make plots. Xander turned on the inter-house cameras and made sure they were recording, also feeding to a backup drive that wasn't accessed by anything else. They couldn't hack that, it was protected thanks to Fred. Xander came out when he heard someone fussing at the door. Xander opened it, staring at the agents. "Picking the locks is illegal and if you had an actual warrant you wouldn't have to," he said bluntly. "Secondly, no matter what you do, the security system is protecting everyone from getting near my work area and my safe room."

"We have a warrant," one of them said, holding it up.

Xander snatched it to look over. "No you don't. This isn't signed." He tossed it back. "I know my legal rights, boys. Frankly, I don't care which demon you're sucking the cocks of. Thanks anyway." He slammed the door in their face then called his lawyer, who went to talk to the local bureau supervisor for him. A few hours later he had an agent back there with a legal warrant to talk to him but not search anything. Xander waved a hand. "You wanted to know what?" He sipped his ice water.

"Sir, are you drinking?"

"I have drunk parents so no, I'm drinking water, Agent Oblivious." He stared at him. "Your petty ploys are pathetic. Just get to the damn point. I'm tired of this game and I have two other paying jobs I need to work up protections for." He stared at him.

"You should have cooperated when you were called in to debrief."

"I did, until someone sneered about Gunn being a poor guy who's done a lot more than that agent ever will for humanity." He stared at him. "For that matter, I've submitted, in writing, answers to all the questions that have been asked of me by everyone. Including Homeland Security." He stared at him.

"We don't like your attitude."

"I don't like being toyed with. I'm not a toy." He smiled slightly. "It downright pisses me off actually."

"Was that a threat?"

"No. It's a promise that I won't be at the next apocalypse battle. You can handle it all on your own if you want." He took another sip.

"We in the FBI don't like the hunters."

"That's a great thing. I don't care though. There's plenty of hunters I don't like either. They don't think, they assume. They don't research, and they're fairly brutal. Thankfully I'm not a hunter."

"You *retired*," the agent sneered.

"I tell you what, let's see what would happen if something took your only light at the end of the tunnel," he sneered back. "I'm pretty sure you'd do the same damn thing." He stared at him. "And end up in jail but thankfully no one cares at this moment in history if we stake vampires before they kill more people." He put his glass down. "Beyond that, this isn't a debriefing. This is your personal vendetta. Which is being taped," he said, pointing at the agent's tape recorder. He turned it off and ran it back to tape over it. "I'm sure that'll work real well since my security team does the same thing." He smiled a tiny bit again. "That notice was on the gatehouse in case you didn't see it."

"You have to turn that over."

"No I don't."

"It's illegal."

"By law, all I have to do is put up a warning saying that I tape all personal interviews. Which is on the gatehouse for the whole community. They do it for all of us that request it. If you want it that much, you have fun convincing the judge that you deserve it. Within minutes I'll have it downloaded to a Swiss safety deposit box if you wanted to fight that war too."

"You're a smug asshole who got in the way of the real authorities handling things."

"If it wasn't for me, you would've broken that portal in a way that meant it never would've shut." He stood up. "I think you're done. If your agency wants to further talk to me, they can send someone who's not marked to a certain clan of Blaw'ark." He looked at the guy's neck then at his face. "Tell Mira I said hi. We play poker sometimes." The agent stepped back, eyes wide. "Yeah, I'm that Xander too." He smiled. "Have a great day, Agent Peterson."

"I...."

"Bye." Xander waved. "Now please. I've cooperated and my patience is at an end since you clearly don't want to talk about the invasion you could've stopped a few years back when you refused to look at Wolfram and Hart because they were paying people off. A *good* agent wouldn't have been swayed by people who took bribes. Pity you're not one. Have a great day."

"We'll stop you hunters," he sneered.

Xander snorted. "That's how you make more hunters. We all lost something or someone to the supernatural so we're going to make sure others aren't just like us. Even if I don't really hunt anymore, I still make sure vampires can't get others in many interesting ways. Now, do you want to continue this?" He stared at him. "I can be civil but you're not going to get that response with the way you've acted today. Frankly, I'm pretty sure Mira's toddler is better behaved. Have a great day." He went to the kitchen to get more ice for his water. The agent stomped off. He looked at his lawyer, who downloaded a copy of the interview for the higher ups at the FBI he'd be talking to soon. "Have fun, Bob."

"I can try, Xander. If only I liked stress and mayhem."

Xander grinned. "I could vow to send this energy toward a chaos god if you think it'll help."

"No. Not really. Maybe later." He left, following the agent back to his office to show off that tape to the supervisors. They all glared at the agent. "My client has stated repeatedly that agents are more than welcome to ask him things if they're not sneering at him. Yours didn't manage that."

"That warning is on the gatehouse?" one of the supervisors asked.

Bob the lawyer pulled up a picture he had taken on the way out. "On the front of the gatehouse facing the road, gentlemen." He showed it to them. They all grimaced. "Also, my client is quite upset that agents with fake warrants have invaded his house a few times. As the thing wasn't signed it's not a legal order. Apparently they were trying to get into his work area or the vault where he stores artifacts he's won at poker that are dangerous to humanity."

"What's he going to do with them?" another supervisor demanded.

"Keep them out of bad hands," Bob said simply. "He may not be a hunter any longer but he doesn't want humanity to fall."

"He sold plans to call demons."

"Yes, they often coincided with others trying apocalypse battles so they could battle each other." That supervisor slumped, shaking his head. "Makes sense when all of us are counting on two young women, a witch with an addiction problem, and a vampire or two. Doesn't it."

"It does," the main supervisor agreed. "Is that the same agent who talked to him that first day?"

"No clue," Bob admitted. "Xander said the last ones that showed up with the not-signed warrant were different when he saw him pulling through the gateway."

The head supervisor nodded. "His tape of the talk?"

"He didn't get to record over it," another agent said from the doorway. "I took it from him to enter into evidence against Mr. Harris. Just in case." He stared at the lawyer. "Your client isn't exactly squeaky."

"No, but neither are any hunters. Mr. Harris simply retired before he got to the point where silence was an acceptable outcome." The head supervisor shuddered. "He had the two in Sunnydale nagging him constantly. Of course he walked off. Most of us would have." He looked at the agent. "That one that was talking to my client made various threats."

That agent nodded. "We know there's agents who hate hunters."

"Xander has said he'd gladly let you handle it yourself and he suggested you all take sword lessons."

That agent nodded. "Some of us have been. That Wolfram and Hart quip. When were they under investigation? It's not in the system."

Bob pulled out files, tossing them onto the table. "He kept track." They looked them over and groaned at the investigations that had been stopped and investigated but not restarted. "He's right, if your agents had taken care of it, they wouldn't have been able to pull off the invasion most likely." He closed his briefcase. "Should I tell my client that you'd like a more polite sit down discussion with him?"

"Yes," the head supervisor said. "Why didn't he tell us about the invasion coming up?"

"He told the people who should have told you but you don't have any contact with them," Bob said simply. "If the LA team had told you, would you have listened?" He left, going to tell Xander the bad news. Plus to move most of that protection vault somewhere else for safety reasons.

The senior supervisor looked around. "Why don't we have a contact with the team in LA?"

"Because they're freaks," one of the others said with a shrug. "We're not allowed to work with gangs, even helpful ones. We don't want to work with the non-humans. Most agents consider it too risky."

"From what we know, both vampires have souls again," the head supervisor said.

"So do half the prisoners in the world, but they won't bite us," another supervisor sighed, looking at his boss. "The best we can do is train someone to go in there and feed information back to us or ask them to email us for larger problems. Especially since the local team was almost decimated in the last year."

The head supervisor grimaced. "What about the slayers?"

"Cleveland, and we all feel very sorry for that office," the protesting one said.

"Poor city. I would've expected New York." The head supervisor grimaced. "Could we ask Harris?"

"He's not into every battle," the agent in the doorway said. "Nor will he be. Summers and Rosenburg drove him off." He smiled. "He's also told some people if they keep annoying him he's going to ask a genie to make him president some day. From scuttlebutt, there's plenty that'd give it to him."

"Which would mean more of those psychotic hunters in government service," the sneering one complained. "I'd quit immediately."

"It'd have to be at least twenty years from now thanks to his age," the head supervisor said. "We have to find a way to get information from the local protection team. One way or another."

"Then train one of us to hunt," the agent in the doorway said. "Or hire a hunter. Ask Gunn's group to add him or her in."

The sneering supervisor looked back. "We're not allowed to work with gangs."

"It's not really a *gang*. It's a protection group. So it's more like a small mafia family." He shrugged. "Consider it an undercover if you have to. Not like we'd ask you. You couldn't hold up to even a half hour of firing during the invasion." The supervisor glared at him. "It's the truth. Don't blame me because you're not meeting up to FBI physical fitness standards." He walked off. "Delores, your boss is being bitchy again. You might want to hand him the midol you keep for him."

That agent glared at him but made her boss a cup of laced coffee. It'd save her later when she had to hand in a report. That agent, who was smarter than the average high schooler, went to Gunn's people to talk to them. He smiled. "Hi, I'm Agent Schmidt, FBI. How do you want to work with us so we know when we're going to have another huge problem in downtown LA?"

Gunn shrugged. "Got an email address? We can pass on messages so you guys don't have to be creeped out."

"That'd be helpful. Thank you." He handed over his card. "I'll get you the address of a few others in case I'm not in the office. I just called my supervisor a fat slob for not being able to handle a half-hour with a shotgun the other day." Gunn laughed, nodding some. "Is there anything going on right now we should be aware of?"

"No. Not that I've been told." He looked at Buffy, who shook her head. "No, not as far as we know. The big things usually happen in the spring."

"Good to know. Thank you. Give us as far ahead as you can for a head's up please. That way we have time to make ineffectual plans that'll get in your way. How would some agents get lessons to be better able to protect themselves?"

"Sword lessons," Gunn said. "Crossbow and staking too."

"Good to know. Thank you, Mr. Gunn." He shook his hand and went back to the office to take volunteers. Some of the junior agents would gladly work with the local protection team so they never had to see another invasion again. Agent Schmidt told them about the group behind it, who had bribed an investigation into stopping. Those agents looked into Wolfram and Hart as well. That helped a lot of things. Agent Schmidt went back to the complaining session.

"Mr. Gunn has said he will email us as soon as he hears about anything huge coming up. He said most of them happen in the spring. He's got my email and I've gotten a few others to go hand him cards as well just in case I'm not here." He smiled. "Also, I've suggested a few junior agents look into that law firm. We're not their only office in the US. So what are they doing to those cities, including DC?" He left, going back to his desk to get into that case as well.

The head supervisor smiled at the empty doorway. "It's good when you boys have ideas and handle things without our having to consider it." The other supervisors went back to their offices to complain to the people above their current boss. Maybe he'd be replaced with someone who agreed with them. Or maybe the head office would send out an investigator who would fire them all as it happened.

***

Xander shook hands with the pack leader he usually worked with. "I've got the minimal set the young one setting up his own pack asked for. Is he sure he didn't want the full one? I don't charge much more for it and I'm easy enough to let him pay me off in a few months."

"He said he could handle the rest," the pack leader said, rolling his eyes. "He's young."

Xander smiled. "I remember being that age."

The pack leader's wife laughed. "You're close to it now, Xander." She kissed him on the cheek. "Be careful," she said quietly in his ear.

He nodded. "I usually am," he said quietly. She smiled. "Okay, I've got the repeating runes and the template to paint over for him." He showed her the meticulous template. "This one's easier if you just paint over the marks since it's so intricate. I could cast this in a 3-d printer and add a boundary. So you paint over the bare areas and it'll leave the runes."

She nodded. "That's nice. Some of those are worse than calligraphy." She held it up to the light, touching something dangling. "Is that extra?"

"No, that's a dot," he said, laying it against his hand. She nodded she could see that. "That one rune I'd love to find a replacement for but I don't have one that I can find. It's a good general purpose one but the only other types are personal use and they'll only work if the one who created it uses it."

"I understand. It's still a great thing. Could it be done as a single repeating sheet you only have to glue up?"

He smiled, holding up a roll of marked tape. "No, but I do it this way usually." She laughed, punching him on the arm. "Speaking of, that's a nursery one." She smiled, taking it to put up around their nursery since they had a non-turned woman having a cub in a few days. Xander looked at the leader. "So?"

"You know he'll try," he sighed.

"That's why I didn't bring TJ with me." The pack leader smiled, leading him to the meeting area. "Hola, mi amigos." They mostly smiled at him. A few sniffed him. "My new boyfriend is very happy with me, yes," he told one of the sniffers. He put the plate on the table. "Since it's so intricate I decided to use a 3-d printer to make the runes solid and the rest can be painted. So you'll be left with the runes unpainted. A few are dots and need to be pressed against," he said with a point at them. "That's the basic set, which is what he said he wanted. If you want to add in the other seven, we can do that easily enough." He straightened up, looking at the werewolves there. "Or if some day you guys need a nursery set, I've just handed the head woman a set of them on tape so they're up immediately until they can be painted on."

"That's very nice of you, Xander," one of the wolves said. "Why did he only want the minimum?"

"I even offered to let him pay me out over a few months but he said he only needed the basic set," Xander said with a shrug. "If you need the rest later, maybe you can do a second row of them or we'll figure it out." They mostly smiled at him. "I better than some know how plans change." They all nodded at that. The cub coming due soon was one of those plans that had changed drastically.

The new pack leader strolled in. "Harris." He shook his hand, looking at the set. "So we paint over it and it leaves the runes bare?" Xander nodded. "That's nice. How?"

"3-d printer. We could've done it the regular way with a simple plastic template but I remember going over the ones we put on this house seven times to get a few of them correct. I ended up drawing a few by hand to make sure they were correct because it was faster. TJ and I did a test paint; it seemed to work very well. Just make sure the dots are in contact with the wall before you paint around them."

"That's fine." He smirked. "You know, you could join the pack."

"I don't want to join the pack. Sorry." He smiled. "I've already been all but furry a few times. The hyena was enough."

"That's not a real transformation."

Xander looked at the young pup. "It was close enough that the others that got possessed ate a principal." The young werewolf grimaced. "It was as close as I want to come. Thank you though."

"I could..." He moved closer. "Be generous with you as a beta wolf."

Xander laughed. "I'm not a beta to anyone, Josef. I never have been." He stared at him. "Nor will I ever be. Sorry but no thank you."

Josef sniffed him. "It smells like you are."

Xander smirked. "Just because TJ and I switch off the bottom now and then doesn't mean I'm his beta, dear. We switch off because it's good, dirty fun. Not to be submissive to the other. I'm not into that scene." The wolf growled. Xander stared at him. "At one point in time I'd have been smartass enough to reach over and scratch you behind the ears since you're growling." He looked at the pack leader. "Anyway, I'll work up a permanent one for the nursery if you need me to. She wasn't sure if the cub was going to be staying here."

"We're not sure yet," the pack leader said. "She's not turned and doesn't want to be turned. It was a one-night thing that got out of hand."

"Condoms break, I'm living proof of that," Xander said dryly, cracking up the new father, who nodded. "All right, let me get back home. TJ's making dinner and then vowing he's going to find some way to play music even if he does have to buy a cheesy keyboard. So I've got a piano coming in a few hours." He scratched behind his ear. "I'll see you guys in a few weeks with payment?"

The young pup pounced at him. "Those in the pack don't have to pay for services of the pack," he said. Xander caught him and slugged him, knocking him into the table. "You'll submit and love it, Harris."

"I doubt that. I didn't even when I was younger. Submission to me means weakness and I'm not weak." He shrugged. "Even if I was a beta I'd never submit." He looked at the young thing then at the pack leader. Who sighed. "I'm not here to get into another fight. You know that."

"I do. I wish I knew why most of us wanted to bed you at least once, Xander."

"Me too! Though the runes I learned to protect myself have been very handy." The young pack leader lunged at him again with two helpers from his new pack. Xander backhanded one, making him yelp as he fell into the table. He kicked the pack leader at the same time then ducked the third one, making him fall over his back. "Do it again," he offered, sneering at them. "I will call a combat trial and I won't back down to human tactics. You forget, I had to help Oz more than once because Willow couldn't handle it. I don't play nicely and I won't be playing non-lethally. I'm not yours. Stand down or face me in a combat match."

"You're just a human," the new pack leader sneered.

Xander nodded. "With skills," he pointed out. "And silver." The wolf's eyes went wide. "I'm always wearing silver somewhere. Do you know how many other species react to silver?" He stared at him. "I was nice enough and respectful enough to put it into my pocket but I can easily take it out, dear." He stared at him. "Your choice. TJ will baby my poor, sore ass later when I've beaten you."

"I'll still win, human," the pack leader sneered. "Combat trial accepted."

"So be it," Xander said, pulling out something and snapping it open, throwing it on the guy. He screamed as the solution burned him. "Suspended silver in alcohol," he said dryly. "Remember, I'm paranoid thanks to guys like you. I'm never unarmed. I can be naked and not be unprepared for an attack. Do you still want to do that? You can back out and I'll graciously let you." The young one attacked again. Xander grabbed the wolf and flipped him before he could do more than scratch him. He pulled out a dagger and backed up.

"C'mon if you're coming. If you're that arrogant I'm sure your pack will find a better alpha male quickly. Most of the ones of this pack are good at that." The young one hopped up with a scream, coming at Xander, changing in the center. Xander stabbed him in the shoulder while ducking under the lunge. "Forgot I had to wrestle Oz back into the cage?" he asked dryly. The shoulder wound was serious but Xander wasn't going to let him kill him. Another wolf snuck up on him and he turned to take them down too. A stomach shot this time. Xander looked at the one in the doorway. "I offered to let him drop it."

"We heard, Harris. You're scratched."

"I've got protections so even if you spit into it, I still wouldn't change. He's not the first were who thought I was like candy." That alpha hopped up and tried to capture him again. He got Xander's arm but Xander used the dagger on the guy's snout, making him scream and change back holding his face. "I offered to let you stop it," he noted. "By combat rules I should take you out but I'm not the sort to do that to living, thinking, usually harmless beings. So if you need to end yourself, do it for me." He stared at hm. "It's not a weakness, it's a respect for the alpha you could've been," he told him when the guy glared at him.

"That dishonors him," the pack leader said. "I'd have to take him out."

Xander looked at him. "I don't want unnecessary bloodshed on my soul, Alpha. I hold no onus against him, it was his stupidity. Can't we count it as him being young, dumb, and gotten a lesson?"

"You chose combat."

"I thought he'd back down." Xander grimaced, looking at the wolf. "I still don't want to kill you. I consider it a waste." The rechanged wolf lunged at him again, mouth open to bite him. Xander slit his throat and stepped back as the body fell gasping for breath. "If they get you to a healer in under twenty minutes, you'll live but be scarred," he said quietly. "If you live, never make someone else take you out for an arrogant mistake like that. You don't own anything but yourself. You certainly don't own another being or a pack member." He wiped the knife off and looked at the alpha. "You know how I am about the peaceful communities."

"I do, Xander." He shook his hand. "It's an honorable standing point. We agree, if he wants a healer, he can call one."

"I wish he hadn't," Xander said. "I really do."

"We know, lad. Go home. Let your new boy baby you." He patted the boy on the shoulder, letting him be escorted off by his wife, who hugged him. "Clean him up, boys. If he wants a healer, he can have one. If not, that's his choice." He walked off to hug his own wife. She cuddled him. "Xander was right to call it and to not take him out cleanly."

She nodded. "He was, my mate. Though I will rip him a new one if he heals and stays here." He smiled, kissing her. "Come help me with the tape." He nodded, going up with her to do that. It was important and an alpha's job to make sure all his people were protected.

***

Xander came home to find TJ playing on the new piano. It was a stand up model instead of a baby grand but it still sounded pretty. TJ looked at him and hit a wrong note before turning to stare at him. "The werewolf wanted me. It's happened a few times so we had a tussle."

"Tussle?" TJ demanded, standing up and walking over.

Xander nodded. "He tried to take me out or make me submit as a beta wolf. I took him down and possibly out, that's up to him." TJ hugged him. "It's why I got into protection runes. Half of everything wants me in that bad way and I don't want them back. Between the vamps who think I'm sexy and the others, I had to protect myself. Not like the others would. They just laughed and called me a demon magnet."

TJ kissed him. "You're not. You're just too sexy to be ignored." He smiled. "Need more than bandages?"

"No, a few claw marks. I could use a shower."

"We can do that." He took him to help him clean up. He did have some larger scratches and claw marks. He had one that had something wet in it. "Is that drool?"

Xander pointed at a marking tattooed on him. "Even if it is, I won't turn, TJ. I made sure of it after the first were tried to get me as his girlfriend." He turned to hold him again. "Do you like the piano?"

"It's great, thank you." He smiled. Xander kissed him and they scrubbed each other down before going out to eat dinner naked. Then Xander laid on the couch while TJ played for a bit. It was calming and they could both use it tonight.

***

Xander walked into the Hyperion a few days later, handing Gunn a bundle of papers. "Your buddy Bob left that on his way to the Bahamas right ahead of the IRS." He grimaced. "It's my will and other things. Can you find me someone slightly more bitchy and more uptight?"

"I probably can. Do they have to do anything with your clients?" He glanced at the papers. "That will's not going to be upheld." He looked up. "Especially with a new boyfriend who could contest it."

"TJ has his own money," Xander said. "And I know I need to redo it. The last one I had that was fully legal was done in Sunnydale." Gunn winced. "The rest is probably my legal portfolio."

Gunn looked and nodded. "I can find you someone, Harris. Are you okay? I know the FBI came after you."

"Yeah, Bob and I had a talk with an agent that consisted of 'grow up' and a few other choice words. I also have that talk saved down multiple places." He smiled. "I'm not the bitch to be fucked with. I'll go to London and deal with things over there instead."

"There's still a Council," Gunn said.

"Yeah, I've heard they still want me dead. So do others. Pity."

"I heard about that werewolf."

Xander stared at him. "He was the sixth or seventh that wanted me for the wrong reasons. Apparently they think I'm like some twink candy boy. I don't submit, I don't coo from your lap, and I don't tease you for it. Even TJ only gets some teasing in." He grimaced. "I was sorry it had to happen but I'll be damned and he started it. I tried to get him to back down. He didn't." Xander shrugged. "I can only do what I can."

"Good point. You still okay?"

"I went home to TJ babying me for being hurt and then playing me some music while I rested on the couch. He even made dinner."

"That's sweet of him. He seems much more wild in the press."

"They do that on purpose and we all have our wild moments," Xander said with an evil smirk. "They're fun too." Gunn snorted, smirking at him. "I have fun with it." He waved a hand at whoever had just walked in. "Anyway, thanks for finding me someone who's not going to have to rush off to avoid the IRS."

"Not a problem. I'll let you know if there's going to be more problems. Speaking of problems," he said. "You bought something before Angel could. What're you doing with a trapped demon?"

"It's staying in the vault so no one could use it." He stared at him. "I don't want them to want me either."

"Good idea. Is it safe?"

Xander grinned and nodded. "You can't even find it if you don't have the right biometrics to get to that level of the house." He walked off. "I paid for the best."

"Good. That's probably a lot of help. I'll let you know in a few days."

"Thanks, man." He went out and got into his car, driving off. One of the new cuts itched but he knew he wasn't infected. The protections made sure of it. So it was probably just getting infected. He stopped at the pharmacy to get some more alcohol and bandaids then went home to teasing poor TJ. He was going to be tied down later and teased until he gave up all his dirty fantasy thoughts.

Gunn looked over at Buffy, who shrugged. "We knew he was a demon magnet before."

"You ever figure out why?"

"No. It's just a Xander thing to be."

"There's been eighteen other kids who draw like him that he's done protections for, Buffy. If we could solve it, it might help them."

"I wondered where the mini got that necklace," she muttered.

"What?" Gunn asked.

"One of the minis has a protection necklace. A pendant thing with protections on it."

"Xander wouldn't have, Buffy. I can ask him." He sent a text message, getting one back a few minutes later. "He's pulled off to look that up. She didn't get it from him but there's been one that he did give one to who was killed by a human. It wasn't found with her remains. He asked specifically to see if it had failed." He looked at her. "You might ask her."

"I don't want to think she killed a human."

"Still, ask?"

"Yeah, I can do that once I get home tomorrow. If she did, I'll mail it to you so you can give it back to him." Gunn nodded, walking off with the papers to start calling around. She sighed, sending a text message to Willow, who said she could check that necklace. It didn't seem magical. Did runes need to hold magic?

Did that mean Xander did magic? Because if so, that was just wrong on every level.

***

While Xander was out and about doing his thing, TJ settled in to think to the piano. Did he see Xander as a boyfriend? He had basically been rescued then moved in, without considering anything. He had things that tied him to DC, including his club, but they were doing fine without him right now. That depressing thought got pushed aside. Xander. He had to consider this thing with Xander. Did he like Xander enough to be a boyfriend? Yeah, he did. He was goofy, kind, and hot when he wanted to be. Though he had a lot of home time that was boring to TJ. So did he see Xander as more of a protector than a boyfriend? Xander was definitely protective. He had made sure TJ knew it was up to him if they did more than cuddle at any given time. That was a bit frustrating. Xander would probably woo him and pounce him more if he suggested it. Maybe Xander was waiting on him. That was possible.

TJ shifted on his piano bench and let his fingers drift to another song without him concentrating on it. This life was too sedentary for him. They only went out a few times a week. There was nothing to take his attention. He knew himself, he'd be getting bored soon and bored landed him in trouble. Xander would probably dump him if it was too bad of trouble. Then again, Xander had that thread of 'bad boy' that made TJ a happy boy. That still left a few problems. Did he want to be a boyfriend? He wasn't sure how normal boyfriends were. Ones that went out to fun things. Ones that did more than one researching and the other sitting around with his depressing thoughts.

Xander walked in and paused to kiss him, then smiled a tiny bit. "I picked up fresh crab legs for dinner. The instructions seem easy."

"That's cool." He followed Xander into the kitchen. "Do you ever get bored?"

"Yeah, but it's safer if I don't go out flaunting myself around. I've had hunters attacking parties I've been at, TJ." He looked at him. "Though there's a party tomorrow night if you wanted to go with me. It's some of the people setting up a new clinic looking for funding. I've been invited since I'm an investor and I'll be putting on protections."

"So boring, pumping people for money while they're bragging about their new cars and houses?" he guessed, smiling some.

"Basically, yeah." He took a kiss. "Do you really like going to those things?" He walked off. "Did I start laundry earlier?"

"Not that I saw. You carried a basket that way and then pouted on the way out."

"Oh, yeah, I needed detergent." He shrugged and made himself a note then pulled TJ against him to kiss him stupid. "I've needed that most of the day." He winked and strolled off. "Let me go pick up some detergent. Do you need anything?"

"Do we have some wine to put in the crab legs?"

"They told me to boil them for a few minutes." He looked so confused.

TJ smiled. "You can add some to add some flavor."

"No clue about that. I can cook basic stuff, not fancy stuff. This is about as fancy as I've ever attempted to make."

"Get one of those single person bottles of white wine. And good butter if you don't have any here."

"I think it's in the freezer." He looked and waved it, leaving a stick on the counter. "Anything else I'll need? Garlic? Herbs?"

"No, that's cool. You have some chopped garlic stuff in the fridge." He smiled, letting Xander go handle that small bit of shopping. Xander was sweetly goofy sometimes. It made TJ wonder what he had done to deserve Xander. Though, the battle stuff they needed to get worked out because that would wreck his nerves. Xander came back, kissing him on his way to the laundry room. "No problems?"

"Two of them. We need a new car but thankfully cabs were fast today."

"What happened?" he demanded, following Xander.

"Hunters."

TJ blinked. "Are they that mad at you for some reason?"

"No, that one's mad at me thanks to Willow." He looked back at him before tossing a pod of detergent in then the clothes. He shut the washer's lid then turned to look at his boyfriend. "Willow told that one I'm about to bring hunters to even more notice. I don't know why but she's a bitch who doesn't think and has plans."

"Is that part of her addiction problem?"

"Not really. Sometimes it makes her think she's the goddess. I nicely took pictures of the blown up car and sent it to her with a 'thankfully I wasn't in there when your pawns showed up' message. Then a picture of the hunters being unconscious and tied up." TJ gave him a hug. "I'm okay. I doubt those ones will be doing it again because I'll kill their dumb asses." He cuddled his boyfriend. "It's all right. They don't usually want collateral damage so you're safe."

TJ looked up at him. "We should both be safe from that sort."

"Yeah, but quite a few of them think with their shotguns, not their brains. And possibly Willow did something."

"Can we get her busted for that?"

"Yup, I so called a contact I have that does real magic to get her busted with the higher coven that has her leash."

TJ gave him a squeeze then backed off, staring at him. "I was going to suggest we join a gym or something to get out of the house."

Xander grinned. "I have a gym membership. We can go if you want but it's an all species welcome gym."

"As long as it means I won't change or anything I'm fine with that."

"Okay. We can go tomorrow." He took a quick kiss. "Bottle of wine?" he said, holding out the tiny bottle.

"That'll work." He and Xander washed their hands so they could work on dinner. Xander had to stop chopping vegetables for the quick stir fry when the door got blown in but the three people standing there died. TJ took over chopping while the security team showed up. "Guys, they blew up the doorway," TJ complained. He was clearly getting too used to threats since he wasn't having a fit.

Xander shrugged. "The first time they blew up most of that wall, TJ. We had to repair the fireplace too." He looked at the security team. "How did they get past the gate?"

"They came in from the other direction, the one with the pass, sir," the team leader complained. "Isn't there a way you can stop them?"

"Willow Rosenburg decided to send them." The team all winced. "I'm going to beat her ass to death for it, and for blowing up my car." He looked at them. "That one was there. So apparently the police let him go." They looked then called the police again. They came to complain but oh well. Xander stared at the whining officer. "I tell you what. The next time a huge demon appears up the street to take out the kid that's now in foster care since her parents tried to sacrifice her, and isn't against taking out the whole school she's in, you handle it, mother fucker." The officer flinched, backing away from him. "You let someone who blew up my car go free. Then they came here to blow me up. I do pay taxes."

"Xander," TJ said quietly. "Calm down." He walked over, smiling at the officers. "Unless you want me to ask the Secret Service to step in, I'd actually do your jobs, Officers. I've already sent a complaint in to my mother's security team about this. I'm pretty sure someone's going to be complaining to your supervisor."

One officer shrugged. "He doesn't like hunters either."

Xander smirked. "That's fine. I'll make sure you guys can figure out how to fight it yourself. You can talk to all those newly grieving parents tomorrow too since that demon's due back then." One went pale, shaking his head. "Yeah. You have fun with that. I'm done. I'm going to lethal means to solve it. Pity." He walked off. "Clean up the mess please, security guys?"

"We've got someone coming to pick them up, Mr. Harris." One of them winced, shaking his head at TJ. "He's livid."

"I can't calm him down. I would've done worse a long time ago." TJ walked off, going to cuddle Xander. "Is the school protected?" he asked quietly.

"They wouldn't let me." He looked at him. "There's six hundred kids in that school, TJ. The demon could take them all."

"Who would handle it if you're injured?" TJ asked, settling them on the chair in the bedroom.

"No one. Gunn's too far away to get there quickly enough to save them. If they wait, the idiots out there harass them for being poor people in this neighborhood."

"Can we warn the school?" TJ asked.

"They can't do anything beyond herding all the kids together. That makes it easier to take them and I don't know what the demon's done to the school to grab them."

"Can we look?" TJ asked. "I'd hate that for that school. I don't like it when things prey on little kids."

"Me either. That one would probably hold off to try to prove us to be insane but it can only manifest in a corporeal body once every lunar month. I've let them know when it is. They've got that one girl out of the way of harm but the demon's not picky and it'll keep coming back until it gets her."

"So what can we do?"

"Usually they call a special hiding in place drill while I fight it so the kids don't see."

"Can the officers do that?"

"Yeah, they probably should," Xander said, glaring at the living room. He looked at TJ. "I don't want to endanger those kids but there's almost no one else to do it unless Buffy's here. I'm not sure if she's back in Cleveland or not."

TJ took out Xander's phone, finding Gunn's number. "It's TJ Hammond, Xander's boyfriend. Because of the stupid witch sending hunters at Xander to kill him for some reason, and they nearly managed it twice tonight, he can't handle that demon at that school tomorrow. Is there anyone else who can?" He listened to Gunn complaining to someone female, who complained back. "Willow decided you're going to take out the US."

"Why would I do that? It'd make my property values go down."

TJ smiled when Gunn complained about that comment. "The local police let the hunters that blew up his car go. They're sneering in the living room right now about the three he had to kill to protect us both, Gunn. He told them they could handle that school. They're still sneering and apparently think those kids are a suitable sacrifice for their viewpoints."

"The LAPD didn't say a *thing* when a demon attacked a school that was full of poor kids," Xander said bluntly. "They're all like that as far as I can tell. Frankly, fuck them and I hope they lose the lawsuit from those parents."

"That hasn't gotten into the news," TJ said.

"That's because the LAPD lawyers got a gag order on the parents," Xander said. "I got threatened for outing that fact but no one wanted to deal with them either. Frankly I'm waiting until election time to put that out."

TJ smiled. "That's mean. I'll ask someone when the best time will be to do that." He listened to Gunn. "Exactly. So what can we do besides possibly moving?"

"We can do that but the safe's not totally in the new house yet," Xander said quietly. "And it's a lot safer. No one can breech those gates."

TJ looked at him. "Which means more staying inside."

"That or me using an owed wish to change some things." Xander looked up then at him. "But that would be mean of me."

"Probably, and he just agreed that's an evil thought," TJ said, staring at him. Xander grinned, kissing him on the tip of the nose before getting up and heading out of the bedroom. "Gunn, he just smirked. Yeah, might help. Thanks, man." He hung up to follow Xander. He was in the kitchen working on dinner. "You have another house?"

"I just bought it last year and I've been working on having it flipped." He looked at him. "I've done that a few times. They're all security conscious. I was hoping that a pack would want that one. It's got a good bit of trees and land around it."

"How much is a bit of land?" TJ asked.

"Just under 40 acres," he said with a grin. "It's almost all woodsy areas too. We can go look at it when I show the local pack leader day after tomorrow."

"How long before we have a door again? That's a bit...making me nervous."

Xander took a kiss. "We can go stay somewhere else if you want. Once they're out of the house."

"Please. Should I look up hotels?"

"I have a condo downtown, but it's kept as a security fallback."

"How?" TJ asked.

"I wasn't going to tell you until I was ready to put you into the biometrics here. That would be dumb of me."

"Point." He took a quick kiss. "Finish that up?"

"I can do that if you start the water to boil them." TJ did that for him. Xander looked back at the staring security team. "How much longer before the bodies get off the floor?"

"Few minutes, Mr. Harris," one said quietly. "They're coming up the road according to the main gate."

"That's great. Want some coffee, guys?" One shrugged so Xander put on a pot of it for them. Xander looked at the other guard. "You know I'm not usually mean. I'm not going to risk TJ for their fun."

"What about that school?"

"They know it'll show up tomorrow," Xander said. "They know why and how. I've talked to Gunn to see if someone else can cover it. I'm really horrified those officers were willing to see that whole school taken out to make things fit into their minor world view."

"That proves the testing systems failed," TJ said without looking back at them. "Good officers aren't like them."

"We've heard you have a vault," the coffee drinking guard said.

Xander nodded. "Right now I'm the only one that can get into it. If I move, I'll have that reset so someone else can use the area and panic room."

"That's fine. Will these sort keep coming?"

"No, I'll make sure everyone knows I've moved." He grinned. "I'm not nice about our safety, guys."

"We know and we appreciate that, Mr. Harris." He carried a cup over to his partner, nodding at the ME's team that came in. "They blew in the doorway to get the resident." Xander waved the hand with the knife in it but got back to chopping vegetables.

"Your shots?" the ME asked.

Xander looked up. "No. It's my house and they rushed in to kill me. Fuck them." He stared at her. She winced. "The officers that responded were jackasses. They're willing to sacrifice a whole other school because I've had to hunt in the past. Thankfully I've asked a few others to be there to handle it. Also," he said, coming over to point at one body. "This one blew up my car a bit ago and the officers let him and two others go. If those other two come here, you can have them too."

The ME nodded. "I would too, young man. Let me clean up this mess."

"Thanks." He went back to the kitchen. TJ was looking worried so he hugged him from behind. "It'll be okay. They won't try again."

"If you're sure."

"I am. I'll call someone later to point out that I'm not the asshole of the universe but I'll gladly turn into one." TJ smirked a tiny bit. "I can be an asshole, TJ. I know that and others know that too. The real hunters know not to attack people unnecessarily and they won't hurt me anyway since I'm not a bad guy." He kissed him on the ear. "Are those nearly done?"

"Yeah, just got to boil the crab legs for a few minutes." He looked. "Finish the salad." Xander got back to that and TJ did the crab legs. They were a bit chewy but he had been watching Xander work since he had his tongue out while he chopped things.

***

Xander drove up to the gate, rolling down the window. "Hey, guys." The local pack leaders he worked with smiled. "All right, I've flipped this one fully. It is 46 acres of mostly untouched lands." They stared. He grinned. "By the way, did you get the email of the one I found in West Virginia? That looked nice for a pack enclave but a bit expensive."

"It did look nice," the pack leader said. "What about the neighbors?"

Xander grimaced. "I haven't seen any. I'm sure there's people in the houses but I've literally never seen them. Even with binoculars."

The pack leader looked impressed. "That's nice. Why this one?"

"It's only got seven bedrooms but plenty of room for guest houses. It has a small guest house by the pool that's more a poolside retreat with a kitchen and a bedroom for napping in." They nodded. "There's a lot of land. There's a waterfall. There's a pool and a spa. There's actually an amphitheater in the back beyond the pool, and that was a cool thing that made me decide on this one. Only needed some small updating things." They nodded and he opened the gate, going up the long driveway slowly so they could look around. Xander parked. "Three car garage but you can add more if you need it. Local regs say you can have up to seven stalls but you can put in one of those lift systems to give you a double layer if you need them."

They looked at the outside of the house, it was beautiful, a newer, rounder looking mediterranean entry that led back to two wings. "This is beautiful," the pack leader's wife said, smiling at the boys. "Are you two okay?"

"Yeah, the sort of hunters that have not a clue came after me thanks to Willow," he said dryly. "I had a verbal fit on someone for endangering us." He grinned. The pack leader shuddered. "I didn't quite send someone to eat her. Yet." He opened the door and waved a hand. "Five bedrooms in this house, six bathrooms and a few half baths. Gathering and media room in the basement." They went to look over the large kitchen. Xander pulled the pack leader to a spot. "This is the butler's pantry." She looked at the cabinets, two extra ovens, and pretty counters. He opened a door, making her stare. "That is the pantry."

"It's the size of a good bathroom at our present house, Xander."

He grinned. "I know growing boys eat a lot." He got swatted but she was laughing.

Her husband looked over her shoulder. "That could almost be another bedroom." They went to look downstairs. The media room had twelve seats and room for another ten seats if you wanted, plus a snack bar off to the side. The gathering room had a pool table and a bar area but other areas that could house games. There was a half bath down there on one side near the door to the outside and beyond the media room was a bedroom with a bathroom tucked into the hillside. Not a lot of light but a pretty nice room and bathroom. They went upstairs to see the other bedrooms. The pack leader gasped as they walked into the master bedroom, looking around. "This is huge. It could be three bedrooms."

Xander pointed at a good sized nook that didn't have a door but had a pretty archway around the entry. "This area is slightly enclosed to be an office or for a baby in a cradle." The wife shook her head. "I figured you'd use it as an office unless you're babysitting." She nodded, going to look in the closet. "There's two of those. And yeah, they came already like that." He showed off the other one. "This one's slightly smaller."

TJ looked. "I think my apartment in DC is that size."

"I think my current bedroom is," the pack wife said. They looked in the bathroom. "Hmm, no spa jets?"

"A lot of people aren't doing those because if you don't clean them monthly they mold," Xander said. "Or so the guy at the appliance store told me." She nodded. "There is a system to lay in there to help," he said with a point at it. "Sometimes ladies need to get away from all the guys." She swatted him but smiled at him for it. The shower was big enough for all four of them to fit in. "All I did was have it retiled. The last owners wanted to hold fun parties in here I guess." They went outside. "The deck wraps around and down to the nicely stoned patio." He led the way down there. "This is the way to the spa, then the pool," he said with a point. "That way is the more wild waterfall and tiny pond, amphitheater, and all the woods up and down the hills." He led them to look at the pool area then down to the amphitheater and hillsides.

"It's a bit steep but I can see running around here while changed," the pack wife said, holding her husband's hand. He smiled at her then at Xander. "Expensive?"

"I paid four for it all told. The insurance estimate of worth was closer to eight mil but I'd let the pack have it for four and a half. I know you guys need the security. The gate's already secure, with cameras and automated electrical output at night. I upped it to what Pauley has on his now."

"That is a nice system," the pack leader said. "Very expensive."

"Forty-six acres," Xander said with a slight shrug. "There were smaller ones. One had sixteen but it was really near some other houses. I had one other choice but it looks a lot larger than it is and it kinda looks like a hotel on the outside. A lot of squares of glass and overhead walkways. Less land too." He looked out at the sparse trees then at them. "Getting you guys safer and out of downtown LA would help everyone. Especially with the one young soon being born. You guys can't run down there where you are right now. The hunters are getting more and more dumb so it'd be safer up here."

"We've had a hunter stare at the house a few times," the pack wife said, looking up at her mate.

Xander nodded. "He's a pelt hunter. But..." He smiled. "The state legislature is going to be making being a were a disease so you're more protected."

The pack leader grimaced. "We don't like that."

"That means the pelt hunters can be charged with killing you guys," Xander said. "Otherwise it's a problem, but it does give you legal recognition and protections."

"That's a good point," she agreed, squeezing his hand. "We could use the legal protection from pelt hunters."

"I can agree with that part but it's not really a disease."

"They had to put it into language even the hidebound asses that are career politicians can understand," TJ said. "They're usually not all that smart."

"Good point," the pack leader sighed. He looked around, smiling at the amphitheater's seats. "This is really nice, Xander. Can we think?"

"Yeah. That's not a problem." He shook their hands. "I can give you guys a few weeks."

"Thank you. This is beautiful." She looked back at the house then at Xander. "Are you two moving somewhere safer?"

"Not sure yet," Xander admitted. "I have one in mid-flip and I have the condo but I don't have a working area and the vault's still back there."

She nodded. "That's important."

"I'm about to find Willow's sense and reinsert it." They walked back around to the cars.

TJ looked up then at Xander. "Would you want something this massive?"

He smiled and shook his head. "Nope. Maybe a few acres for some wandering. I don't need something this massive. Room for a bigger vault, but not all this."

TJ looked then nodded. "I live in an apartment."

"I did for many years but it's safer if I have a free standing house so I can ward it better. Otherwise you have weakened protections on one wall."

"I guess that makes sense." He looked around then got into the car, letting Xander get in to drive. "You only clear a half mil of profit?"

"And about sixty-nine bucks," Xander admitted. "If they don't want it, I'll be selling it at appraised value."

"That's sensible. It's just because they're a pack?"

"They need the security." Xander looked at him. "Pelt hunters ...well, it's not pretty but they find a changed being and skin them. Alive." TJ shuddered, shrinking down some. "Yeah, so they need the protection. For necessary and needed places I'll make a lot less profit. I'd probably let them talk me down to a few hundred above cost, but they know that because we've known each other for a few years. Them and the local children's hospital were the first ones to get my warding skills."

"No one mentions that about you."

"Of course not." He smiled. "Why mention the good things? That doesn't sell news." He started the car and drove down the driveway, locking the gate again. "Want to see the condo?"

"If you're comfortable."

"I probably am." He smiled, driving him that way. When his phone rang he hit the button on his hands-free system. "Talk to me."

"Xander," Cordelia said. "We have problems."

"Of course there are. It's a beautiful day and I'm out with my boyfriend. What sort of problems, Cordy?"

"Were you trying to get a demon hand?"

"No. I haven't heard one's up for sale. I have two in the vault but I know they're still in there because you'd have to break the magic then break the cases then the lockboxes they're in."

"What mage did the magic for you?" she asked.

"Three of them, independently. Plus I go to a crafter to get the boxes the lockboxes are in. The main system was done by Henry."

"Yeah, they found him dead last night," she said.

"Oooh, shit. I was thinking about moving too."

She snorted. "Do you have weapons?"

"Of course I do. Let me hurry home to grab some. Unless we need *weapons*?"

"Yeah, we might." She cleared her throat. "LAPD is giving me really dirty looks."

"Send me pictures so I know what pretty thing to pick out, princess."

"Done," she said. "Get here fast?"

"Twenty," he said. "You know that. Unless you don't want me to look in my vault?"

"No, do that later." She cleared her throat. "It's going to eat a school. The one you were worried about got scared off by this one."

"Yup, ten," he said, then hung up. He checked traffic behind him then turned the car around. He went to a storage area he had, waving at the guy at the gate. The guard waved back. Xander got out and went to his storage area, coming out with two heavy cases. TJ got out to grab one for him. "Thanks." He went back to get another one. Then locked things up and came back to the car. It went into the backseat then he got in to drive. He looked at the directions, going to that area. He parked behind the police cars, whistling.

"Guys, I've got what we need to kill it," he called. A police officer rushed over. "TJ, stay with the car. If it comes this way, move the car?" TJ nodded quickly, shifting to sit in the driver's seat; it was his rental anyway. Xander got the other two from the trunk, making the officer stare. "Sometimes you need it." They hiked off together. "Princess of Meanness." Cordelia turned around. "Help me here. I need a brace." She set up the cases to do that while he readied the weapon. He looked at the demon. "I have one of those in my vault," he said quietly. "If someone magical broke it, I'll kill them myself."

"We'd like to arrest them," an officer said, looking at him. "Harris."

"Yup." He waved a hand. "Poker debt for the invasion." He looked at the demon then pulled out his sharpie to mark on the small missile. Then he fired it off at the demon. It screamed and fell back a few steps then came at them. Xander fired off the second one, then kicked open the third weapon, firing it up at the demon trying to loom over them. "Bye, bitch," he said with a wave. It fell over dead. Xander looked at Cordelia. "Pieces."

"I got a sword," she said.

He looked back. "Tell TJ to get my machete from the trunk please? It's under the flap next to the tire." An officer called back to one nearer to the car. TJ came back with the machete.

"Thanks. We have to chop it into pieces so it can't regenerate."

"That's gross. I'll be back at the car," TJ said, hiking back there shaking his head.

Xander looked at Cordelia, who nodded. "I'm going to check the vault immediately after my shower."

"I can be there to help," she said. "Just in case it was the Queen of the Dark Ideas."

"Oh, if it's her, I'll be dealing with the bitch." They went to cut it up. Xander took the head with him, tossing it into the trunk no matter how many funny looks TJ was giving him. "It can't regenerate without it. I have a special box to store it in so it can't regenerate." TJ just nodded. "It means no one else can summon it." He got into the car, letting TJ drive back to their present house. It was a wreck but the reason was dead thanks to the things eating it that came out of the fireplace. "Thanks, fishies." He patted one. "Let me shower then I'll hit the vault." TJ got out of the way of the fish. "It won't eat you, TJ. The wards know you're supposed to be here." He took a quick shower then went out to get the head. He went down to the vault, looking around. "Someone did try to breach it but didn't manage it."

"How can you tell?" TJ asked. Xander pointed at a red light. "That's a warning?"

"Yeah. Someone with a magic nullifying something probably." He got into it, then put the head away. He came out, wincing at the sounds. "TJ, hit the panic room," he said with a point. "They can't hurt you." He locked himself in the vault.

TJ was getting into the panic room's door when the two hunters and an agent stomped in. "I'm just a guest, guys." He stepped in there, letting the door shut before someone grabbed him. He called the number he had gotten from Xander's phone. "Cordelia, we have two hunters and an agent breaking in here but he said the vault wasn't breeched. I'm in the panic room. Thanks." He hung up and watched on the security system. The agent couldn't break the lock with any federal code. Xander had designed his paranoid areas very well. The two hunters trying to get into the vault were being stymied too.

Cordelia stomped in with Gunn. "People," she said sharply. The hunters stared at her. "Xander's vault wasn't breached. Someone tried." She looked at the agent. "Then again, you're not a real agent." He sneered and moved toward her. "Try it, mother humper." She pointed. A real agent they trusted walked in. "Xander?" she called.

"If I come out, the wards will fall for a few minutes," he called back. "So I'm checking the inventory. I'm only missing one thing and that was what Wilfred took last time when he demagiced the whole city for a day."

"Okay." She looked at the agent then at the safe. "Where's TJ?"

"Safe room," TJ called. "It's got a security camera. I have no idea how to get out."

"Okay," she agreed. She smiled at the agent. "These two are known hunters. They tried to blow up Xander in his car the other day and the LAPD let them go."

"Xander had to shoot one of that group and a few more last night," TJ called. "No idea who the bait upstairs were."

"Those are great but fun," Cordelia said. She looked at the agent. "I'm getting out of the way." She walked off, going to the kitchen to make a snack. The biting fish were fine with her. She had a pet one for a few months before Angel had killed it for trying to eat him. Another officer came in and grimaced. "The fish only eat dead tissue."

"That's still gross."

"Then they shouldn't have broken in. Huh?" She sipped a bottle of water while making some honey toast.

"How can you eat?"

"You haven't lived until your graduation turns into a huge battle against a giant demon worm." She stared at him. "I've seen worse." He headed down to help the agent. She settled in to nibble while checking her email.

The officer walked into the area he heard voices in. "Agent Elier, you called for backup?"

"No, but I did," the real agent said. "That is not an agent." He pointed at him. "Though I called for FBI backup. So why did you show up?"

"They called Dispatch, Agent...."

"Toliver." He held up his ID. "Special Investigations." The officer winced.

Two agents stomped down there. "Agent Toliver, you called for backup?" one demanded.

"Yup. Two hunters and a false agent." He pointed at them. "Then this officer showed up without being called. They're trying to break into security sealed vault that holds magical artifacts."

One agent nodded. "We know this is Harris' house, sir."

"He's in the vault," Agent Toliver said. "Because it'd bring down some of the security system for a few minutes."

"That's good to know," one agreed. He pulled a gun, pointing it at Toliver.

"I've called the Secret Service for you endangering my life," TJ called.

"Who're you?" the other agent demanded.

"TJ Hammond."

The agents looked at each other then one fired at the safe room. Which set off the rest of the security system.

"TJ, pull Toliver in," Xander called. "Use the blue button to fade the door while protecting yourself."

TJ found that button and pushed it then reached out to grab the good agent. He got him inside the room before the gas came out. "I have no idea," he told the agent. "I just started to date Xander and he said he couldn't open the door without something happening."

"I get that," he said. "Thank you for protecting me. Do we have a phone line?" TJ let him have his phone. "I have mine." He called that in. "Director, Senior Agent Toliver, Special Investigations team in LA. I have a false agent, two dirty agents, two hunters and they're all trying to get back at the guy who wards hospitals. Plus I have the former first son who is his boyfriend, who saved me from whatever magical system Harris has on his vault area. We're both in the safe room thanks to Harris and Hammond. I have no idea, sir."

"Xander had to hurry back to check the vault in case that demon earlier was from it," TJ told him. "Xander said someone had attempted to breach it but it didn't work. That may be who was being eaten upstairs."

The agent repeated it. He nodded once. "Thank you, Sir." He hung up. "They're coming to help. It'll be about a half hour." He looked at the camera, shaking his head. "Whatever that gas is, I don't want to know."

"Me either. Though I know a few people I'd like to introduce it to."

"Me too," Agent Toliver said. They waited while their real backup got there. With a redheaded witch.

"Get Willow out of my house," Xander called. "Before I come out there to kill her for sending hunters to kill me."

"We need her help, sir."

"Cordelia can do it. She's upstairs."

"You can come out," Willow sneered.

Xander partially opened the door. "If I open it any farther she could summon something out of the vault full of stuff I'm keeping away from her and others like her. Including things to summon demons like earlier."

"No, you stay in there, sir," one agent said. "We can get a statement soon. Our other agent?"

"Safe room," Xander said with a point. "It'll only open for myself or three other people. Cordelia is one." He shut the door. The magic spell hit the doorway. "I'm going to smite her like she's a doll and I'm GI Joe." Another spell hit it. Xander sighed and found something in there, using the emergency teleporting stone he had made for Willow emergencies. He appeared out there and punched her, making her go down with a scream and start crying. He sighed, looking at the agents. He held up the stone. "I had it made so I could appear wherever she was fucking up this time. She's a magic addict." He walked over to the safe room, letting them out. "TJ, go hang with Cordy or go for a drive? It's entirely possible she's going to sling around more spells that could hurt you."

"They can't hurt you?"

"She nearly killed me the last time, TJ. Please?" he said quietly.

"Call for dinner." He stared at him. Xander smiled, taking a kiss so TJ would go. On his way out, he called his mother. "It's me. I'm safe. Willow Rosenburg's been trying to harm Xander. She sent hunters to kill him and today we had fake agents," he said in greeting. "No, I'm good, Mom. He sent me out of the house so he could deal with her." He got into his car and sped off. He paused. "Oh, damn, that school. I'll call back, Mom."

He hung up and called Cordelia. "I'm near a school. There's a huge demon leering at a playground with only a few kids." He hung up and called his mother back. "Okay, I'm back." He pulled off to the side of the road. Cordelia sped past a few minutes later. TJ didn't want to watch her deal with it. Though she had help that showed up as they drove past him. That was good. Hopefully someone saved those kids. He knew he couldn't do it even if he wanted to. Maybe he'd have Xander teach him how to use a sword or something.

Xander looked at the good agents, shrugging. "I'm sorry but she's apparently backslid. Should I call her minders?"

"No, she can call them for bail money," one of the backup agents said. "Your vault holds...."

"Beyond magic books and artifacts? There's an inner area that holds dangerous things I've been keeping out of bad hands, including hers. Most of them can't be destroyed."

"Thank you," Agent Toliver said. "Did anyone get into it?"

"No. I checked the holding box that holds a piece of that type of demon; it wasn't from the one I have stored. Now I have three pieces since I had two of the other one."

"Can they be destroyed?"

"The demon can remake it," Xander said. "Otherwise I would've held a bonfire."

"I did not realize that they could do that," Agent Toliver said. "You're not going to put them out as a kit, right?"

"Hell no. I'd have to fight it." He grimaced. "I usually send most of those out to fight other problems. Or the genie kit, which tends to weed out some of the weaker, stupid sort." He smiled. "Evil is lazy and doesn't like to do their own research. I'm more worried about higher level magic users who are desperate and need me to research but I never do personal jobs outside of protections."

"That's fine," Toliver said. "I get that. Our sort of evil tend to be lazy but smart."

Xander nodded. "Quite often. I had one that complained I didn't include the two cups of sugar."

Toliver laughed, nodding. "Understood." He looked then at the agents. "What does that gas do?"

"Makes them zombies so the fish in the fireplace can eat them. They only eat dead things." He grinned. "I gave one to my ex Cordelia but it kept trying to eat Angel."

The three agents nodded at that, picking up the idiots. "Anything to counteract it?" one of them asked.

"It takes about twenty-five minutes to fully kill them. Give them air and detox them fully at Beth Israel, they have someone who can do that. They should be fine."

"Thank you, Mr. Harris. Is there a way we can at least glance in?"

"No. If I do that, I'll have to fully reset the wards and that'll cause problems. Actually I'm looking to move somewhere a bit safer thanks to all of this. Before it was every few months. It's been six in the last two months now. I'm really tired of them and I'm about to handle it in a very bad way."

They nodded, hauling the bad guys and Willow out to arrest. Xander got things cleaned up, then went up to help the ME's people remove the dead bodies. Xander settled in to find a house that was better protected that he could work on. Though he was still going to smite Willow. Mostly to keep her from doing something like buying a genie kit to make a wish against him. He made up a protection set for him and TJ against that. Just in case.

***

TJ took the small box, looking at it then at Xander. "What's this?"

"A protection against Willow." TJ put it on. Xander grinned. "Want to help me pick out where we're moving?"

"Is that like buying a house together?"

"No. My money, my house, but I need someone to look with me. You have taste. Last time I took a stripper I worked with to find the current one."

"Sure, I can do that. I'm not ready to buy a house yet. Or get a pet."

Xander smiled. "I'd love a pet but it'd probably hurt the protections." TJ looked confused. "Dog fur."

"Oh. Okay." He settled in to eat dinner with his boyfriend. "Are we going back there tonight?"

"No. We're going to the condo tonight. It's safer."

"Good. That's kind of creepy."

"I know. I'm still waiting to hear if that group wants to take that one house."

"That's way too big."

"But if not, it's available for a few weeks."

"Good point," TJ agreed. "We can see." Xander nodded and they dug into the salads that came. "Did you order?"

"Just the salads."

TJ took a menu and picked out his main dish then Xander picked his usual. They dug in, talking about what Xander wanted in a new house. He had some specific needs and some weird wants. Six bedrooms? Maybe.

***

Xander looked at his favorite realtor, smiling at her. "I need to move away from the asshole-known place I'm currently in."

She smiled. "All right. That's probably doable. How soon do you need to move, Xander?"

"Soon. Today if possible."

"Hmm. Not your usual desire. I'm going to assume you want security?" He nodded. "Have you sold that one estate yet?"

"I'm waiting to see if the ones that I had in mind want it first. They have about another week to let me know. We can move in there if we have to and they don't want it."

"The condo?"

"No work area and I don't like being away from the vault for that long."

"Good point." She pulled up her listings. "What sort of style are you thinking about?"

"I like the mediterranean style personally. Though I do have a fondness for some fairytale towers now and then."

"I've seen that in the past." She looked up that style. "How much room do you need for your work area and the vault?" She looked at him.

"I'm not against putting them in a guest house but I'd need a fast way of getting to it. If the house is big enough, that's fine too."

"Are you going to have a lot of guests?"

"I have a current guest," he said with a grin.

"I've seen pap pictures of you in the tabloids. You're cute together." He grinned at that compliment. "Lots of entertaining room?"

"Some so I have places to wander. A library for the books. A tv area to watch the world freak out." She nodded, upping the square feet needed. "I'm picky but not that picky. TJ would be helping me look but he's back in DC to talk to someone about his club. I'd ask Cordy but she's got another migraine." The realtor nodded at that. "Once we get that one, I'll let you sell my old one, and depending on where the new one is, maybe the condo too."

She smiled. "I could like that. Your present house is very safe." He nodded. "Well, I have two options or one that's probably too small but it could be expanded."

He considered it. "Way too much time probably."

"Probably," she agreed. "We can go look at these two and I'll look at other options on the way."

"Sure. Are we taking your car and driver or my car?"

"Let's take mine. It's less known in case a hunter decides to lose his mind." Xander nodded, following her out to her car. She had a nice driver, who took the addresses they were heading to. Xander held open the door for his realtor then climbed in with her. They drove off, heading for the outlying areas of the city.

Xander looked back and sighed. She looked then at him. "I'll have a word with them. They're not usually the stupid sort so maybe it's a real life problem." She gave him a tiny smirk. When they stopped, Xander got out, walking back there. He stared at the hunters in the car. "I have to move thanks to the more stupid of your kind," he said in greeting. "Leave my realtor alone."

"Not here about that. We've heard there's a pack moving in."

"No. There's a few packs that I've offered a house to." He stared at them. "Even then, they tend to be peaceful around here. None getting out to attack others."

"That's fine but the one we heard is more of a street gang."

Xander frowned. "Really?" He pulled out his phone to call. "Pack leader, a hunter just told me there's a street gang of a pack coming this way that may possibly cause problems? Is there anything I should hear to work up protections for?" He listened, leaning on their car hood. "That's good to know. Oh, *them*," he said, grimacing. "No, I'm working on moving right now. No, I don't need something that massive, but I do need an area that's got less land and more security for the vault.

"Yeah, that thing. Thanks, man. Let me know if you need my help. I may not be of the pack but I'm more than happy to help protect the pack, especially that tiny one. Good luck." He hung up and turned to look at the hunters, tucking into his pocket again. "They are coming, a few are here, they're not causing problems. Yet. If they should they will call an all-pack event to deal with it." The hunter winced but nodded. "Yeah, and I'll help if necessary."

"Vault?" the other hunter in the car asked. He leaned closer.

Xander grinned. "I've kept a lot of things away from Rosenburg and others," he said dryly. "Including a few hunters the other day that pretended to be agents to get into it."

"They thought you'd be using it to summon something," the hunter driving said.

Xander smiled. "If I wanted to do that, I'd ask a poker buddy, guys." They groaned. "The vault is security for things like a part of a demon it'd need to be summoned back, magical books, some artifacts...." He made a hand wave in the air. "Things that should not be in hands I don't trust. I've done that since I used to confiscate things from nests back in Sunnydale."

"That's good to know. If we ask, can you look up a certain demon?"

"Probably. Depending on why. I try not to get into those things."

"One of us has one that's trying to court him."

"Is it that female hunter Courtney?"

"No," the other hunter said with a grimace. "Is one?" Xander nodded. "It's the one going after Darish."

"From what little I've heard about him, he asked for a boon. I got warned he had asked for one and to be careful about him." He stared down at them. "Getting him out of his deal might not work totally. I'm not sure about his deal or the contract's details. I'd need it to make sure."

"I can see if he'll let you see it," the driving one said. "Are you okay?"

"No. I have to move because there's been nine attacks on my house in the last three months thanks to the idiot ones that you need to say aren't hunters."

"Oh, them." The driving one nodded.

"Yeah, complete with an unreal agent and attempting to help Rosenburg break into the vault yesterday. With what's in there, there's no telling what they were really going to do."

"Destruction?" they asked in unison.

"Impossible. It'll summon them." He grinned. "I've got some mythical level stuff in there." He walked off. "Have a better afternoon, guys, and show up tomorrow afternoon if you need me."

"Sure, thanks," the driver said, driving off while his hunting partner called the other hunters they knew. "What do you think is in that vault?"

The other one looked at him. "They dealt with a demon that couldn't be destroyed so they had to blow it into parts. I'm pretty sure Harris is keeping a piece of that if not others like it. I would. You would. He's like us only he does magical research."

"If I had the things that are after him the way the rumors state, I'd be protecting myself too," the hunter said. "We've heard he's destroyed a lot of beings who have tried to get him. Including a werewolf the other day."

"I'm so glad I don't draw anyone like that." He considered it for a second. "What about that hellmouth thing?"

"Did you notice he wears three pendants?" his partner said. "One of them has marks of containment."

"I didn't. You think?"

"I don't know. Only he would." He paused. "I doubt he'd tell us."

"Probably not, unless it was to warn about others doing the same thing."

"Point. We can ask." He shrugged. "He might answer. You never know about Harris. He's really strange in a lot of ways."

"I think he's a lot like other hunters but he grew up with Rosenburg," the other one said dryly. "That might explain a lot of that."

"Probably."

***
Part 3 by Voracity2
Notes:
Yes, Xander's getting a bit militant here. He's just really done with all that stuff.
Xander walked into his house that night, staring at the agent. "Agent Toliver. Problems?"

"Few things. You flip houses?"

"I make them for specific communities. The current one is meant for a pack group. I've got it offered to a few in the area." He sat down. "You broke in here to ask about my real estate?"

"The FBI knows that certain types of people could use that same sort of protections."

Xander nodded. "It won't help someone who's turned evidence on the mob and they don't call on demons," he said. "No one even a bit religious would."

"We've only seen it happen once and that may have been a wish demon," Agent Toliver said. "If so...?"

"Ask. I do some charitable work every year for people that draw attention like I do."

"That's fine." He cleared his throat, shifting some. "The supervising agents in the local bureau wanted to know what's in your vault. They were considering getting a warrant."

Xander shook his head. "Some of it can't be identified because even writing the name could try to summon it."

"That's bad."

"Which is why I'm keeping it away from others."

"There's some worry due to your past."

Xander stared at him. "Which part of my past? The one where I was helping the slayer in Sunnydale? The one where I've kept problems out of LA when even Angel couldn't?"

"The part where you put out apocalypse kits."

"Usually to counter one that was already going on," Xander said dryly.

"But not always?"

"No, a few were to draw someone who was in the way of things. The stupid, lazy sort that would've given me a lot more work."

"We've subpoenaed the list of who bought those. Does your boyfriend know about his brother's two?"

"He knows about one. The other one was to summon a higher level djinn sort of spirit."

"That figures. It has taken out a lot of people that could have caused problems."

Xander smiled. "The other hunters would never understand that. A lot of them think in black and white. They see me as evil because I'm not fully good and never was. Hunters aren't white lighters. It's a blind spot that's making me move."

"Can we go over how normal people can't get into your vault? Without disclosing any secretive things like which runes, but just the layers on it?"

Xander considered it then nodded. "I can do that. First, there's a security system on the house. It extends all over the house, including my work area. There's specifically heightened areas in it that work as an alarm in case someone sneaks in while I'm working. There's alarms if anyone who isn't wearing a certain chip passes by some sensors. After that is a physical deterrent charm. It's in three parts on each of the two vulnerable areas. So if I have to hit the safe room near the vault room, it'll slow them down. We've had to do that twice thanks to hunters."

"Were they stopped from getting into the vault?"

"They didn't want the vault. They wanted to take me out for daring to study runes so I could ward a children's hospital from the demon that was eating the kids in there. Quite a few of them are biased against any sort of magic, even if it's helpful or protective. Then again, those sort don't care if it's eating poor kids either." Toliver grimaced. "Truth, that school that the LAPD let be taken over? Three hunters in the area were asked to handle it by the kids' parents. They refused, said it wasn't their sort of thing since apparently it was a kid sacrificed by their parents. I went on a hell no fit when I heard one say that in front of me and screamed at him about how all kids should be protected by us. Which got me another death threat and another three attempts to take me out. One by your brother. You two look a lot alike."

"He was my first cousin but we did look like twins when we were younger," Agent Toliver said. "Did you hit him?"

"Cordelia." He grinned. "She laid him out with a pretty beautiful punch. I stood there and clapped."

"Did they fix that?"

"No. The LAPD let it happen because they were poor kids and they didn't want to deal with it. I didn't hear about it until that first takeover, when a parent was asking if we could free the other kids." Toliver grimaced. "Yeah. We got them free, it just took almost six months to get them all. As far as I know most of the kids are safe. Maybe a bit dented mentally but safe. The one that her foster parents had tried to sacrifice is with a better set of parents in another state near a group of hunters that has never been that petty or stupid. She's got a set of rune wards on her that mean demons can barely sense her as a human."

"Good. That's great," he said. He shifted again. "Why do you wear containment? A few hunters who aren't stupid wanted to know."

Xander pointed with a grin. "Do you know about hellmouths?"

"Not a bit."

"That's a longer talk. It's why Sunnydale was the way it was before the demons kicked all the humans out to take it over."

"Great. How bad?"

"Very, very bad." He smiled. "Thankfully the only one in a big city is in Cleveland."

"That's a real city, Harris."

"Not my call and that one's never fully opened."

"I'm going to need briefed on that. Is my wire working?"

"No." He got up to get the book, coming back from his work area. He opened it, pointing at a passage. "That's what a hellmouth is."

The agent took it to look over, staring at the description. "Can anywhere form one?"

"No. It has to be a magically weak spot with a mystical energy sinkhole area. Basically it's a pothole of mystical energy. Only it's overgrown."

"Can you draw on that?"

"I don't do traditional magic. Can Rosenburg? Yup. She has been sucking on it like a teat since she figured out she had magic. She's closed it, she's sucked off the magic spilling from it, she's made it love her like the demon on the internet."

"There's a demon on the internet?"

"A teacher at the high school wanted to digitize Giles' books. He had one that was possessed. Those things are released usually by reading them. Scanning it in was enough." He grinned. "He decided Willow was his true mate. He tried to destroy a lot of things, including us, and there's still pieces of him on there. He's virtually stalking her a tiny bit. He contacted me a few months back wondering if she was still alive since she hadn't been online."

Toliver groaned, shaking his head. "Oh, dear."

"Gee, are you British? That was Giles' favorite saying too," Xander quipped with a mean grin.

"Not hardly but I might move."

Xander flipped pages, pointing at one. "There's three shrines to higher demons in England. They could open at any time to release the ones they're consecrated to."

"Good to know." He read that over, going back to the original page to move forward. "A guardian?" he asked, looking up.

"In Sunnydale there's a kraken. They were fighting it the night they sent me away for being useless, which meant I stopped the zombie from blowing them up."

"Is that why you left?"

"Yup. It got to the point where all I got was 'you're useless, go away' so I did." He shrugged. "They wanted it, they got their wish. Then they decided to trash me for it. They were teenage girls. I was a teenage guy. I couldn't deal with it so I walked. I made a plan so I could support myself, the djinn kit, and left." He shrugged. "Now Willow's proclaimed me to be a traitor with those hunters that don't think. She's gotten them to see her way of thinking and they don't see the addiction or the problems she's caused.

"They don't see that teenage girls aren't exactly reliable. You should ask Buffy how she nearly got sacrificed to a demon because she snuck off to a college kegger as a high school student." He pointed. "Your not-blonde hair is in the window," he yelled. Buffy stomped in glaring at him. He stared back. "Next time, pull your hair back." He looked at Agent Toliver. "Also, have you noticed that something's happened in England to the old Council?"

"How would you know?" Buffy demanded. Xander turned on the news, flipping the station to show her. She stared, wincing. "When was that?"

"Last night." He looked at her. "There's two ways that they could get that demon that the news crew caught stomping on someone. One is a bad resurrection." He stared her down. "Which isn't that hard to do, but it takes a lot of power. The second way is to summon it. The seal is in the old hellmouth. They had to torture someone over the seal to open it." She shuddered. He pointed. "That's a Bringer. That's what's taken out the old Council and a bunch of the minis I have running this way. The magic using circuit and the poker circuit is getting all the girls they can to you here in LA."

"Who could've done a resurrection spell?"

Xander got up to get a book, bringing it back. "The only known one that's reliable. She didn't trip it with Angel's soul but we were damn lucky."

Buffy looked it over, frowning as she read. "That's bad. Who died?" She looked up.

Xander shrugged. "I don't know. You and Giles need that book though." She nodded, tearing some of the newspaper on the table to mark the spot. "There's three hundred total potentials right now, Buffy. How many have you seen die?"

"Seven so far. Are they all...."

"Yeah. Every one of them if they can. The Bringers will blow up them and their families. The demons evacuating them are stealing them if they have to but they're supposed to leave notes for the parents."

Agent Toliver nodded. "We've had a few young women being stolen by a demon reports," he admitted. "Someone asked all those who have ties to hunters if we knew why since a lot of them led back to British people we can't correlate as being Council."

Xander took the book from Buffy and handed it to him. "Someone screwed up or someone's doing it on purpose. They have to have been bleeding and torturing someone over the seal. Which means they've dug down to the hellmouth itself since the seal is part of it, and why it's so damn open."

Toliver winced as he read. He called his boss. "It's Toliver, sir. I've asked Hunter Harris about the girls being taken by demons. They are in danger, the demons are saving their lives from another mystical source, and we need to get any of them that we can to Slayer Summers or her watcher. Immediately. We're also about to have a battle in Sunnydale. I can do that once I get back to the office, sir." He hung up and went back to seeing what sort of problem this was. He looked at them. "Could they have done this sooner?"

Xander nodded. "A resurrection could've been done at any time. The calling specifically has a time limit."

"All right," Toliver said. "Slayer Summers, I need to send this information to some people."

"If it'll help, whoever can help can. Even Xander."

"Xander did help a lot during the invasion," Xander said dryly, staring at her. "He also lasted the whole battle because he was there when it started." She scowled at him. "I've helped during all the other ones here too. I practice daily and I can probably kick your butt, Buffy."

"I'd never let you try. That would be bad of me." She looked at the agent again. "What if we have a problem that big again?"

"Call us," he ordered. "Not like the whole world doesn't know about you now."

"Willow was thinking about a mass memory spell or an ignore it spell," she said, pouting slightly.

"Which is unethical," Xander and the agent said together.

"Highly unethical," Xander said firmly, staring at her. "Like memory charming Tara was."

"Hey," she complained. "You used to like her."

"Then she did magical girlfriend abuse," he said. "Leading up to the point where she lost herself and went to black magic. I've more than kept track and that's why I helped hide Tara when she needed me to."

Buffy sat up straighter. "She's all right?"

"Yeah. She's fine. I got her to some magical contacts. By the way, you knew this before the invasion, Buffy. We talked about it during that meeting at Lorne's." She groaned, shaking her head. "It wasn't Tara's doing. She's with some witches that are so uptight they're squeaky."

"She hasn't spelled me."

He stared at her. "Ask an independent source, Buffy. They can tell you who it was." She frowned but nodded. "Go ask Lorne to find you one actually. He'd get you someone independent, plus he'll be able to help channel those girls into LA's safety."

"Yeah, we can do that." She stood up. "If there's a battle...." she started.

"Blow it out your ass, Buffy. It's my choice about what battles I step into. Not yours." She glared at him. He stared back. "I'm not your puppy or your knight. You're not my queen. I don't take orders. The only one who can order me is myself now. And occasionally the boyfriend when he wants more and begs prettily." She walked off shaking her head. Agent Toliver smiled at him. "It used to be like that only worse."

"I understand that," he agreed. "I probably would've walked away too." He stood up. "Let me get this information back. Where are they in the cycle of sacrificing?"

"They need to do it again in a few days. If they miss it might slow it down but if Bringers are out, then she's going to come out sometime. Prepping for the 'someday' is a great idea right now. I'll be doing more research but it's not going to be pretty. I'm figuring there's a reason she's the First Evil and not some lesser one."

"Got it. Thank you, Mr. Harris. I'll be back if I have more questions." He shook his hand, then went out to hurry back to his office. He walked and handed his supervisor the book. His boss opened it to the paper bookmark. "It's going to happen sometime. We're not sure which reason is the cause." He pointed at a line. "Buffy's not sure either but Harris found some potential memory charms on her."

"Great." He read that open. "Can we stop it?"

"Harris said that since the Bringers are out, she could come out sometime. That's why those girls have been moved here."

"Because they're future slayers," his boss said flatly. Toliver stepped back, nodding. "Charming." He went back to reading. "What's a hellmouth?"

Toliver smiled. "The thing in Sunnydale that drew all the demons to it."

"Do we know where it was?"

"We noticed a while back that the town centered on the high school. I'm guessing it's there."

"That's a bad idea."

"Wilkins was one too."

"Point." He got back to reading, frowning as he read. "That is really bad."

"Yes it is, sir. Harris already told Summers he'd show up for the battle, even if she complained."

"Good!" He looked up. "What else can we do?"

"Help the girls get here. The old Council got blown up by one of the Bringers. It was caught on the news."

"Even better. Is there any other news that'll be giving me an ulcer?" he demanded, looking at his agent.

"Harris is having to move thanks to the hunters who don't think, as he called them. The vault has multiple layers of security, both magical and not. A few of the things he's keeping out of bad hands he can't even write down because it can summon them. He also mentioned that school that the LAPD let be taken over again."

"That stunk," his boss said.

"It did, and he agreed with that. That's why Gunn's people took care of the one the other day at that school by Harris. The local LEO people tried to intimidate Harris into not handling it."

"Wonderful. They need their heads examined."

"Many people think so," Toliver said. "Which is why he had Gunn's people handle it instead of him doing it."

"Fine. We'll get a lot of talking over that with the locals in this office and others." He went back to reading. "Go get a drink, Toliver."

"Thank you, sir." He left, going to Lorne's bar to talk to him about a few things. He could get that drink there too.

***

Xander had made enough of a peace treaty to call a meeting of all the hunters in the region, walking into it with Gunn. He sat down at the table, staring at them. "I called this because it appears there's a huge problem coming up. I'm not sure which one started it, but there was a witch involved." He put down the copies of the information he had. "I've had a few demon poker contacts, and so have others, to save the potential slayers from them."

"Hold up," one of the older ones said. "What's going on?"

"Somehow we've got the First Evil showing up," Gunn said, settling into a chair. "We're not sure if it was a resurrection or a calling."

"I had a few sorcerers I know see if they could tell," Xander said. "I know they're torturing Spike for the opening spell's blood."

"Isn't Spike a vampire?" one of the younger hunters asked. Xander nodded. "Can we end him?"

"It'll mean the portal won't fully close," Gunn said. "Only his blood can fully close it permanently." He pointed at the information. "That's all we've found."

"I'd ask Spike who was doing this but the portal sucked him in to do the spell," Xander said.

"How many potentials are there?" the old hunter asked.

"There were originally about three hundred," Xander said. "Before the Bringers hit. Buffy's seen slayer dreams showing six have died. At least ten were in the building. The demon contacts have removed seventy-eight." The hunters winced. "The youngest is tiny baby aged. The mother started to protect her daughter, she's a witch, then the Bringers knocked in a wall so she sent them off instead. She's now an orphan. They don't care if there's others in the house, if there's non-family nearby. They blew them up. Bringers have no sense of subtle. You know they're there because they knocked in a wall."

"How do we kill them if we run into them?" another one asked.

Gunn shook his head. "The only sources we could find mentioned a mystical scythe that was part of the slayer calling."

"Which is in Sunnydale," Xander said dryly, looking at him. "I asked, then I told her where it was. She's going to find it. The demons in town are actually evacuating without prompting if they're sensitive enough to feel the opening." He looked at the hunters again. "One book described them as some sort of superior vampire-like creature. It said to take off the head."

"So...we have superior demons going after little girls," one said. Xander nodded. "How do we stop it?"

"It takes seven slayers bleeding on the altar that's inside the portal," Xander said. They all groaned and shook their heads. "And it's far enough gone that even if whoever can't finish it, she can force her way out sometime."

"Is there anything you can do it protect the potentials?" the old hunter said.

Xander slowly shook his head. "I can't find anything that would protect them from all that. The slayer essence has already marked them enough that they're not fully innocent. I tested one to see. The protection wouldn't take because the slayer essence tainted her. I'm looking but no one I've made contact with had anything that could help with that. Not up through the top chaos mages, who all offered to help us during the battle."

"I didn't hear that," Gunn said.

"I called Boris Yestra earlier, pissed him off totally thanks to the time difference," Xander admitted, grinning at him. "I let him swear for twenty minutes of international calling to Scotland. Then he demanded why I had bothered him to sit there silently so I told him. He wished us luck and he'll gladly channel magic to help us but he has no idea of anything that would protect the slayers. He called his contacts and no one knows anything. There may have been something in the old Council's building but's it's in ruins."

"What about magical other ideas?" the head hunter said.

Xander shrugged. "I can make a wish, but I asked the wish demon that owed me a favor. She said it can't do more than ease it. Even if they knew who had started it, we'd have to go back to the beginnings of their life to stop it. Most likely by making sure they were born differently."

"Which would change untold other things," the head hunter said. Xander nodded. "So we could end up worse."

"We could," Xander agreed. "Though we do have a high point. I asked Boris and he said that the kraken couldn't come through the seal, only the regular hellmouth. So we'll have thousands of Bringers, but not a kraken or the other millions of demons trying to immigrate here."

"I guess that's a hopeful thing," one of the young ones said with a frown at Xander.

Xander nodded. "Yeah. That really is. Kraken are really hard to kill and as soon as you do, it's no longer guarding the opening to the regular hellmouth so all those other demons can pour out with no way to stop them."

"Okay, I'll take that happy point," that hunter decided. "I wouldn't even know where to start with something like that."

"Beheading," Gunn said. "Like during the invasion."

"Don't remind me," the oldest hunter complained. "You guys did good though." Xander grinned, tipping his head slightly. "Do you do that often?"

"He's been in every major apocalypse battle here in LA since he got here," Gunn said. "I don't know *what* Buffy's problem with him was, but he's not useless, even when he had just left Sunnydale."

"I still don't like those kits," the oldest hunter said, scowling at Xander.

"You'd rather I hadn't countered those apocalypses with it?" he shot back with an evil smirk. "I could've let you handle the six other apocalypses on your own, without another being interrupting."

"No, that was handy," he admitted.

"I could've not let the lazy, stupid ones that wanted to do big things find a way to take themselves out because they didn't pay attention to the warning that wishes are double-edged swords. At least one of them would've managed something stupid by accident."

"No, that's okay," another hunter said.

"I could also be selfish and not guard the people that have the same sort of draw I do. Then what would you have done?" he asked one hunter. "Did you want the zombie, the master vampire, or the young pup of a changer as a son-in-law?"

"None of the above and I took out all but the young pup. His pack leader pulled him off by his ear while apologizing. Said it was a scent thing."

Xander shrugged. "I have no idea. I don't know a single bit why they think I'd be their candy or toy. I'd like to find out if you do." That hunter nodded. "Also, I'd like to note that I do have hellmouth taint. A lot of hellmouth taint, guys." He looked at a few. "I've heard the questions. Yeah, I can channel it sometimes. Do we want me to do that and make a new one? Or be sacrificed to make a new one open?" They shook their heads. "Do we all know where the other hellmouths are?"

"Is one in Canada?" one of the young ones asked. "We ran into a really weird town full of peaceful demons that hid from us like we were a plague."

"A lot of the hunters that think with their shotguns and dicks are a plague to them," Gunn said. "Though no, we heard back from up there that you guys were really nice to handle that problem."

Xander nodded. "They'd thank you but you might smite them. Though, no, that's not a hellmouth. It's about sixty miles from there in a former town." That hunter winced. "Yeah, that place? That's a hellmouth. Cleveland has one too."

"That figures," the head hunter complained. "Too many weird things there."

Xander pointed at the packets. "Last page." They all looked and a few sent text messages. Xander grinned at them. "If we're right and we have to go into the portal to stop the Bringers and First Evil, Sunnydale is going to end up falling. Visions have been seen a few times."

Gunn nodded. "We've braced the local community about the running in fear."

"If there's a battle, we should have them evacuate anyway," the head hunter said, getting a nod back. "Can we do that?"

"Yup," Xander said. "We can do that."

Gunn looked at him. "How?"

"Go talk to that community." He shrugged. "It works the same way."

"I thought they were no humans."

"Outside a few like Buffy," Gunn said with a slight shrug. "She can go tell them."

"I can," Xander said. "I have some poker buddies still up there." That got a nod. "Beyond that, we thought you guys needed to know since you're on the probable list of 'in her way' to be taken out."

"Thanks," the oldest one said with a nod and a slight smile. "What are you going to do about the ones that like to pretend to be hunters?"

"I'm going to move," Xander said bluntly. "So I can quit taking them out. I don't need that sort of stain on my soul."

"Good point. You have?"

"Yeah," Xander said with a nod. "A number." Outside the sky suddenly darkened and then a black haired Willow Rosenburg stomped through the portal. "How did she suck up that sort of black magic?" he asked quietly.

"Boys, scatter," the older hunter said. They all fled the area. "Boy," he warned.

"She'll come for me anyway. At least here has protections." The building around them went up in a sudden, intense flame that didn't touch anything else. "Wow, someone's going to have to talk to the diner's insurance people."

"I got sent back to stop you," she growled, staring at him.

Xander leaned back in his chair, staring at her. "I doubt that. Considering all I'm doing is warning the hunters."

"They don't listen to you," she sneered. "No one does. No one ever will." She raised her hand. "You're not going to be tainting anyone any more," she sneered.

"Try it," he offered. "Watch me dump all this hellmouth taint here, Willow." He stood up, walking over to her. "The lie detector function is going off," he said bluntly, staring down at her. "Gunn's protections have it."

Gunn looked at his protection pendant, nodding. "Yeah, it's blinking faster than a teenage boy at his first porno movie." He dove out of Willow's way, coming up with a weapon. "Let's not try that, Rosenburg."

Xander held up a hand. "She won't attack you. If she got sent back to stop me from doing something, then she can't attack you, Gunn. That's the way that spell works." She snarled and sent magic at Gunn, which his pendant sucked up. "See?" Gunn nodded. Xander looked at her again. "So, the lie? Really not that cute."

"You're still nothing."

"You'd be shocked."

"I've already ended all those *skills* of yours. Including on that vault."

"If that were true, Trudy would be back," he said dryly. "Because her head's in there." The hunter still there winced and moaned, shaking his head. "Since it hasn't happened yet, I doubt you've breached my vault." She threw magic at him. It hurt him, but he stayed standing. "I've had worse than that from Cordelia when we were having funsies, Willow." She shrieked and tried to hit him with more magic. He laid a hand on her forehead while she concentrated, forcing his hellmouth energy into her. She shrieked in a whole other key as she soaked it up. "No. More." She got free, sending more spells at him. He stared at her. "If it didn't work the first time," he said sarcastically.

"Some spells always work," she sneered.

"Wow, Voldemort." She shrieked again as the spell left her. Two members of the Devon coven appeared in the parking lot. He looked out there. "I'm going to end her."

"She was sent back to stop you, Mr. Harris."

Xander snorted, pointing at the necklace Gunn was wearing. "That's got a lie detector function, ladies." They looked and one groaned.

"She didn't get sent back," the head hunter said, walking over. "She's just shown her intent of getting into Harris' vault."

"Probably. She tried the other day with fake agents," Xander agreed. "Pity two were killed by the security system I have on it." The witches gave him horrified looks. "Ladies, I'm keeping some things from this one and a few other things hidden," he said bluntly. "Unless you want to handle another major invasion near your houses? Because I've got a key part of that shrine by the coven's meeting area so no one can open it again." One went limp with a moan. The other was going to cry soon. "She's the reason I'm keeping them away from everyone. The magic addict that did magical girlfriend abuse."

"Tara's dead," Willow sneered. "You know that."

Xander pulled out his phone, calling down there. "It's Xander. Willow's sneering that Tara's dead. Can we? Two members of the Devon coven watching her have a major black magic fit. Please? Thanks." He hung up. Xander pointed behind him and two witches showed up with a younger one in a cloak. "She's not dead, Willow. When she foresaw her own death, I helped her hide. Especially from you and your mystical memory charms on your girlfriend." She hit him with a pure bolt of magic, making him groan. He slugged her, knocking her onto her ass. She hopped up while drawing more magic.

"Stop. It," Tara said firmly but quietly. She walked over, taking off her hood. She stared at Willow. "I won't let you hurt Xander, Willow. It's bad enough you hurt me and others. What you did to him way back when was harmful enough. You're tainted and it shows."

"He's still useless and he forced me to kiss him."

"Not like I use magic," Xander said with a shrug. "You were there, I didn't rape your mouth. You kissed me, not the other way around. I'm not being blamed for your stupid behavior. Cordy and I were barely dating, and were in the process of breaking up. You and Oz weren't. You've broken his wolf enough that he may never find a mate."

"He's my mate. I'll get him back."

"You can't have two," Tara said. "It doesn't work that way, Willow." She threw magic at Tara but she caught it and dissolved the ball. Willow gaped. "I'm stronger now," Tara said. "A lot stronger. Xander found me mentors who taught me what the Goddess could do when she wasn't being womanly."

"The Goddess is a protector of her people as well as a destructive force," one of the Devon witches said. "Plus her nurturing side." She stepped up, touching Tara's hands. She smiled. "I'm glad you healed, child."

"Take that spell off her," one of the witches that came with Tara said. Tara shook it off, dropping it off her hands. "Good girl, Tara."

"Well, they are the Council's magical arm," Xander said dryly. "Considering you guys somehow loosed the First Evil...." The witches all glared at him. He nodded. "That's why we were meeting before Willow showed up. We're pretty sure she's coming out. That's why a few of us called in poker debts to save some of the potentials."

The older of the two Devon witches stared at her. "Since when? We've had some kidnaped but not saved."

"How do you think they saved them?" Gunn demanded. "The Bringers are blowing them up with their families or watchers. This way they're safe and so is everyone around them. We've had a number of them show up in LA so Buffy can protect them."

Xander looked at him. "We'll need Faith."

"I'll talk to someone later." He looked at Willow. "I don't know when you became the Goddess of Lies, but go away, Rosenburg. You're not wanted on this coast ever again. Especially not in LA."

"Who're you," one of the witches sneered.

"I'm Gunn. I'm one of the protection patrol in LA." He stared at her. "I've been doing it for a few years now."

Xander nodded. "I fully respect Gunn for the way he's guarded some of the most vulnerable."

"Children?" one of the witches said.

"No, the homeless and poor kids who no one seems to care if they're eaten," Gunn said, glaring at her. "Not like your kind care if the demons or vampires take poor people." One sneered at him.

Xander glared at her. "Watch it, bitch, before I take that sneer from you permanently. Gunn does something most hunters don't think about, which has reduced the death rate among them by fifty percent in the first year alone."

"Maybe they should be weeded out."

Xander snorted. "Just because most of them have problems, especially mental health problems, doesn't mean they deserve to be prey for vampires. No one deserves that fate. If you don't agree, you *certainly* aren't on the Light any longer." They threw magic at him. Willow smirked and joined in, adding a portal behind him. Xander fell through but he came out in DC a few minutes later local time with a sword, in leather, and sneering at the ones he had just killed. He walked out, letting the portal close. "Hi. I'm back."

TJ stared at him. "You were gone?"

"Yeah, there's a magical battle on the west coast. Let me get there to end it." He snapped and disappeared. He put down something and stomped on it, breaking the rune stone. Then he got out of the way. He pointed. "They're the ones who sent me to handle your world's problems."

The two dragons stepped through the portal to stare at Willow. "Hmm. Fully corrupt. Pity. The world could use more light." She was staring at them in horrified awe but she managed to guard against his fire, but the other one got her, making her scream as the fire cleansed all the magic from her. "Nice," he told his mate.

Xander smiled. "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome, Great One." The dragons nuzzled him. "Come back when you want to. We honor you for handling that for us."

Xander kissed them both on the nose. "I'm glad I could help." They went back home, letting the portal end. He looked at the staring witches and Gunn, shrugging some. "She sent me to a world at civil war. I helped by landing in the middle of a battle in a huge flash of light. It stopped a lot of shit." He looked at the witch curled up on the ground crying. He looked at Tara's coven, who shook their heads. "Can she be bound?"

"I'd dearly love to," one said. "Right now preferably." Tara helped with it. The two Devon witches were trying to fight it but Gunn threw one out toward the parked cars again. The other one had to block against him and Xander. They finally got done with the binding and let it happen. "Boy, you're glowing," she told Xander.

Xander grinned. "I need a new containment necklace. It's in the safe at the house. I kinda had to let some hellmouth taint out to help a huge drought problem."

"Good! Please get it soon."

"I will once I get home. The same as I'll get out of the leather," he quipped. "I look hot but I don't want a succuba to try to take me from my boyfriend again." They groaned and Tara smiled. Xander smirked back. "Go. Be safe. Thank you for your help."

"It was needed," Tara said. "Be safe, Xander. The world would be darker without you."

He grinned. "There's way too many interesting, naughty things for me to get into to die." She laughed but they disappeared. Xander looked at Gunn, who was staring at him. "What?" he asked with a grin.

"The leather and sword?"

"Huge civil war plus dragons staring at them like they were idiots. The leather was totally practical as light armor and the sword came in handy too. Especially when the two leaders tried to take me out."

"Figures," the hunter said.

Xander grinned. "I made them make peace by casting a love charm. The three of us *all* made peace and they had fun. Then suddenly no more war. You can't usually call up a war against the one you're sucking the dick of."

The hunter shook his head. "You're warped."

"Willow basically helped raise me," he quipped. "It explains a lot, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, it does." He walked off shaking his head. "If it's going to come to a battle, let us know, boys."

"I can do that," Gunn promised. "Can you stop the idiot ones?"

"We've been trying. I'll try harder later when I brief them that they're going to be cannon fodder. It's all some of them are good for."

Xander nodded. "If that," he agreed. "Some aren't smart enough to draw the fire to them."

Gunn nodded. "I've seen." He walked around the sobbing witch on the ground. "Let me head back. Cordy's migraines are getting worse."

"Have her send on the visions," Xander said quietly. "Or at least slightly change since it's being human that's the problem."

"I can suggest those. You know she's stubborn."

Xander nodded. "I remember quite well." Gunn smirked but went to drive back to the office. Xander looked at the witches. "You have fun cleaning up her mess. Especially since she destroyed the building that had been here." They glared at him. "It's not my fault you guys hyped her that way while making her think she had the right to tear down people. You did it, you clean up your doggy's mess, ladies. That's about all your coven is good for from what the rest of us have seen." He walked around them, finding his car was a smashed wreck. He got what he'd need from the trunk while calling a cab. Instead he got a state police officer. He pointed. "Addicted, bitchy witch," he said bluntly. "Who decided she's the goddess and the world has to conform to her will."

"Why do you have a sword, sir?"

"Because she sent me to a realm that was having a civil war plus dragons." He grinned. "It came in handy, like the leather did." He walked over to his cab, getting in and paying up front. They took off.

The officer looked at the mess then at the two standing people. "What happened here?" They glared at him. He called in for stronger backup then went to arrest the witches. Apparently someone's attitude was a bad idea in the making. Fortunately his backup got there in time to see him be turned into a floppy eared puppy.

***

Giles walked into the new headquarters of the LA team, scowling already. "Why did I have to come bail out two members of the Devon coven and Willow?" he demanded.

"No, you're here to escort Buffy to Sunnydale to get the scythe," Xander said, looking up from his reading a magazine. "The judge won't give the witches bail, especially not until they change that one officer back." He went back to reading. "Buffy, he's here."

She came skipping down the stairs. "We've found out why we've had a bunch of potentials showing up." She let him see the book Agent Toliver had given her once he was done copying it.

Giles skimmed it, frowning. "How on earth?" he demanded, looking up.

"Either a bad resurrection or someone intentionally summoning her," Xander said, turning the page. "That's who blew up the old Council too. A bunch of us with poker contacts have asked that they save the potentials and bring them to you or Buffy."

"That does explain why we have a few extra teenage girls in the house, yes." He looked at Xander. "You?"

Xander looked at him. "No! Why would I make the kits that take out the stupid, lazy ones in a way that would give me *more* work?"

"Oh. I hadn't thought about that." Xander smirked and went back to reading. "Are you hanging about today?"

"No, I'm going to Sunnydale with you because her talk with the local community went poorly. They called her a spoiled bitch, again." He stared at the older man. "I'm also waiting on Cordy to get dressed."

"She's barely out of the shower," Buffy said. "Not even I take as long as she does."

"You don't have to use makeup to cover up the vision damage," Xander said bluntly. "She's got brain ripping visions that fade nicely into migraines that can last for days. Your not-sleeping bags under your eyes aren't as deep as hers and you could cover those."

"I tried," she complained.

Xander nodded. "Figures you're using the wrong stuff. Get the name of the stuff Cordy uses, Buffy. It actually covers."

Cordelia came down the stairs looking impeccable. "Bare minerals, Buffy. They have some heavy concealers that work well." She looked at Xander. "I'm done."

"Cool. We'll meet you guys up there." He got up, walking out to his new car. He grinned at her glare over the hood. "The witches crumpled my last one. I had to have a ride. Not like it's easy to get around LA without one." She nodded, getting into the sports sedan. He started it and pulled out, heading out of town. "Maybe I'll get a car from those evil genius ads."

She looked over at him. "You're not that smart. Mastermind maybe but not genius."

"So I won't get the sports car the evil ones want." He shifted up as they hit the interstate, heading up to Sunnydale. "You sure you're up to this?"

"I'd like to see it again before it falls in."

"Cool with me. You're good company." She smiled. "And you can talk to the last few humans in town if you would?"

"Of course. That's the other reason I'm going. Not like they'll listen to you."

"Probably not," he agreed.

***

Xander walked into the Sunnydale City Council meeting room. "No humans in town," one ordered with a point.

"Shut the fuck up." They all glared. "You guys know the hellmouth's going to open soon, right?" They nodded. "You know it's not the hellmouth itself?"

"Of course it is," one sneered.

Xander waved and pointed. "Let's go check." He hauled one up and walked out with him. The others growled but followed. He took them to the former library, pointing. "That's what's opening."

"That's a seal, not the hellmouth," the one he had dragged complained.

"That's the Seal of the First," another of the Council said. "There's rumors about it."

Xander looked back and nodded. "We're not sure of which reason but yeah. The Bringers blew up the Council. We've had a lot of help getting the potentials away from them too, guys, but we're about to have a battle in your backyard and you didn't want to listen." He turned to look at the rest of them. "We can see the blood that's been dripped so it looks like a summoning. We know she stole Spike to torture for it. We know it's his blood that has to seal it for good."

"If we find Spike out of it, we'll gladly send him to LA," one said. "How does this impact us?"

Xander pulled an envelope out of his back pocket. "Seven visions. Sunnydale is going to fall. Completely fall."

They took them to go over, one wincing. "How do you fight that battle, Hunter?"

"You go in there with seven slayers and some mystical scythe that's hidden in some cemetery around here. Buffy's on her way up with Giles to get it. Otherwise you don't fight it and you guys aren't on the highest rungs of the food chain." He shrugged. "What Wilkins turned into would've been seen as a toy, guys. Honestly."

"How do you know of that?" one demanded.

Xander stared at him. "You lived up the street from me for ten years, Harold. I just wear better clothes now and I'm not surrounded by drunks."

"Oh, you're Harris," he realized. Xander nodded. "Oh, shit. You vowed you'd only come back for the end of the world." Xander pointed at the hole, nodding. "Oh, dear." He looked at the others.

"We've had some evacuating the area because they felt disturbances in the magic," another councilor said quietly. Xander nodded. "Do others know?"

"Yeah. We're calling in all the help we can get for that battle since it'll have to be inside the seal. I actually talked to some of the hunters that think I'm an asshole about this. That's when Willow attacked so hard."

"We heard," the angry one complained. "You could use her heft."

"She destroyed a diner, she lied intentionally to get people to attack me for my vault's contents, and she tried to destroy me by sending me to a realm that was at war. Thankfully I helped end that by showing up in a flash of huge magic and the dragons were most amused to help me get back here," he said dryly. "It's one reason why I'm moving too."

"Is your house going up for sale? It has many protections."

"I'm selling it once I find a new one," Xander said with a grin for him. "It has great security but the dumbasses among the hunters keep trying to take me out thanks to Willow."

"I might know of someone who would like your old house."

Xander smiled. "Thanks. I'm looking for a good, secure place right now."

"We heard you had one."

"I've offered that to a few packs."

"That's a good thing. They could use the room to expand." They went over what Xander knew of the seal and the First Evil. They agreed they could evacuate the town if they needed to and let Buffy go to that cemetery. They called their guards on the edges of the community to let them through. The locals didn't want to die thanks to that battle either.

"I have Cordelia talking to the remaining humans at the old Mocha Pump," Xander told them. "That way they understand too. I figured it'd be easier."

A few nodded. "She is cunning."

"She's also been blessed with visions," Xander said more quietly. "She inherited Doyle's from the Powers That Be."

"Changing her may help," one said, looking at him. "She doesn't have that long though."

"Can you tell her that? She won't listen to me."

"I can try, Harris." Xander smiled at him. "You should go."

"Guys, I sucked up so much hellmouth energy I used it to end that war," he said dryly. "It's comfy like a nightlight right here." They groaned. "I carry so much taint I glow sometimes. It's not going to affect me. Though, thank you guys for making sure no other humans turned into me. It was real sweet of you to make sure of that by sending all the humans away."

"Better them gone than being a problem," the one he had dragged complained. "Plus fewer vampires."

"Hey, ask, Buffy might take out some for you if you ask her. She's been a bit bored."

They all nodded they had heard. They went back to the Council room to call other Councils to see if they knew any more about that great evil one that was coming. Xander stayed to make notes and listen. That way Buffy would hear and so would the hunters later on.

***

Xander walked into the meeting he had called later that night. One of the younger changers got in his way so he stabbed him when the guy tried to hit him. "First, don't cause problems in a human place," he sneered at the wolf. "Second, I'm not yours to sniff or toy with. Learn respect or else I won't do the protections for your upcoming base." He walked into the back room, nodding at the alphas gathered. "Patrick," he said, shaking his hand. He was the senior alpha in the area. "We've had some bad indications and we know it won't directly affect you but the battle coming will."

Patrick nodded. "I've heard some. What do you have to inform us about, Xander?"

He sat down, putting the papers on the table. "First, this is what we gave to the hunters plus information I learned today. This way everyone knows and knows how to protect themselves if they can. Second, this is a huge, world ending problem." A few of the others in there snorted. "Hey, you guys want to handle the First Evil, go for it." Most of the snorters looked horrified. Xander nodded. "I dragged a member of the Sunnydale City Council to look at the seal and it's been bled on so it's probably a summoned one."

"You can't prove she's out," one complained.

"Who do you think blew up the old Council?" Xander shot back. "A news crew caught one on tape stomping one of the watchers trying to escape." He pulled out that photo capture. "This is what Bringers look like." They passed it around. One was grimacing. "You had a pre-slayer among yours. That's why that demon showed up and snatched her. She's with the other potentials here in town."

"We could have protected her," that werewolf complained.

"The Bringers don't fight. They blow up anyone in their way. Including families." That alpha nodded once. "It was safer for your group and her if she wasn't there. They probably won't come after her family if she's not there."

"Good point. Thank you."

"Not just me. A few of us got together to ask our poker contacts. We know that they've killed about thirty of the three hundred potentials at this moment. Some were in the main building, but the rest were at home with their watchers. A few were with their actual families. Buffy's had non-stop visions of them coming after the slayers."

"Why come after the potentials?" Patrick asked.

"Because it takes seven to leash her back in," Xander said. Patrick grimaced. He looked at one alpha, who rolled his eyes. "We might need Faith. Giles thinks he can somehow activate a few more for the battle. He's not totally sure though."

"I can see if we can get her parole hearing moved up." He leaned back. "You stabbed my guard."

"Your guard tried to attack me three days ago," Xander said firmly. "I'm not his toy. You're lucky I didn't kill him when he showed up at the restaurant I was in to make a scene. I don't know why guys like him think I'm candy but damn it." He stared at him. "I didn't use silver this time. Or then. I'm allowed to protect myself."

"You are," he complained. "I know you stay out of pack affairs."

"Usually you only see me when you call on me or sometimes at the grocery store. Or when I've got a new properly to flip."

"How long before you move into that one you showed us?" another alpha asked.

Xander frowned at him. "That's way too big for me and I'm not. I'm looking for somewhere more single guy with a boyfriend sized. What would I do with forty-seven acres?"

"Are you still taking offers?" another asked, looking happy.

Xander smiled and nodded. "Of course. We've even repaired the small bit of graffiti that one of the dumbasses did when the crashed through the gate. The PD response time to that was ten minutes by the way. I had the guys painting over it for whoever." They smiled. "Back to unhappy business, guys. The seal could open anytime in the next six months. Spike got spit out earlier tonight so she's on the last step of forcing it open." They all nodded, taking the information to pass around.

"We are not meant to do this sort of fighting," the alpha he worked with said.

"I'm not expecting or asking you to," Xander said. "I'm telling you about this so you guys can protect yourselves. There's not a lot of protections that can guard against a Bringer. There's only one against fires and explosives and I've already included those in the sets I worked up for you."

"We were expecting you to make us pay for a new one," one complained.

Xander stared at him. "I know you're new in town, but I don't work like that. I worked with Buffy protecting the peaceful community in Sunnydale until they drove me off. I could have just sent an email to Patrick to let you all hear about this. I'm here because you guys have people you'd want to protect too. The same as tomorrow I'm meeting with a few agents and higher ups in the LAPD because they're about to have a refugee fleeing moment from Sunnydale. It's your right to protect yourselves and I have what you need to know to do that. I don't charge for that."

"Xander has always been honest with us," Patrick agreed. "Even when he does work for us, he charges much less than he does those that don't need the work done."

Xander nodded. "It's not right to charge those who need it. I do have some ethics. Even if they are a bit warped due to Sunnydale."

"You were in that foul town," the new alpha sneered.

"Yeah, I'm the same Harris that backed up Buffy for a few years until she and Willow got shitty." The alpha growled. "For that matter, I helped protect Oz too." The alpha jumped at him and Xander ducked it, tossing him onto the floor. "I don't know what his problem is but make it his own," he told Patrick. "I don't need another fight. I really don't."

"Sit down," Patrick ordered. "Xander is a valuable member of our community. If he had to kill you we'd all shrug it off." He looked at Xander. "Is there any way to avoid it?"

"If she feels like she hates winter solstice and wants to wait until spring, like typical apocalypse battles? It's at the stage where all she has to do is push a bit and it'll open. We've had seven visions of it, and them caving the town in somehow. So the City Council said they'd warn people to get ready to evacuate anytime in the next few months. She's picking her favorite day to come out. Like Glory picked her favorite clothes before Spike helped by having her taken out by a few demons."

"That was an unusual strategy but a good one," Patrick said. Xander grinned. "I know he used one of your kits."

"You bet. The same one that took out your namesake in New Jersey who was going to create a mess we'd have to clean up. I don't know why he wanted to create a zombie football league...."

Patrick shook his head, looking down but smiling. "Neither were we. How did you let him take himself out?"

"Like certain witches, he never measured," Xander said with a grin. "That potion is *real* exact." The senior alpha smiled and patted him on the head. "It works really well. Even the djinn summoning kit. People who don't do their own research only want the end goal, they don't stop to read the directions."

"One of those created a huge mess," his usual contact said dryly.

Xander smiled. "He didn't get it to work. It said in the instructions if he didn't draw the symbols for the capturing circle exactly as shown they'd summon something else and that one would not be pleased to be summoned. It might even kill the summoner because that circle with the wrong symbols was to protect the human from it, not keep it inside. Apparently he can't follow directions either." He shrugged but smiled. "It's kept a lot of bad things down."

"It has," Patrick agreed. "There's been times we weren't sure who to root for." Xander grinned at him. He patted the papers. "How soon at the earliest?"

"Six weeks at the earliest. Sixteen months at the outside or she'll need a new victim, or to take Spike back."

"Can we just take Spike out to help?" one asked. "He's annoying."

"No. His blood is what'll seal the seal forever." They all groaned. "Also, Spike's been tortured for the last few months, guys. He's talking to thin air like he was Dru earlier. He's that out of it. He didn't have blood while he was there. He's got new scars and we all know vampires shouldn't scar. He was truly screwed up by that torture. I think he'll heal but I'm not certain." They all nodded. "Buffy thinks he'll want to go in to fight her when it's time."

"He could. Spike was truly messed up with that soul curse spell." Patrick shook his head again. "It's nice to see a vampire feeling love." Xander grinned. "I know, a few have professed their love to you too."

"Against my will," Xander agreed. "Going into protection runes meant I could hold them off." The alpha on the floor got up, sneering as he retook his seat. Xander glanced at him then at the others. "Most likely LA will be safe. We know the First Evil can appear as dead people. We know she's a grand hand at mind screwing. She tried that with Buffy, showed up as her mom." The alphas who knew Buffy all winced.

"Slayers aren't raised by their families, boy," the new alpha sneered.

Xander smiled. "The Council totally missed Buffy, dude. Not only did she grow up at home but even when she was called she stayed at home. Well, except for during the divorce because her father sank her into a hospital bed due to her burning down a gym full of vampires. That was probably a ploy so he didn't have to claim her any longer. I've seen other parents do that."

Patrick nodded. "Buffy was raised at home not too far from here. I saw her cheering at a few games against the school my grandson went to. She was perky."

Xander nodded. "Still is too." Patrick patted him on the arm. "Anyway, mostly you guys will have some running. I know there's a small pack up there. Oz's nephew, the one who bit him, is part of it as far as I've heard?" He looked at Patrick.

"There is one but I'm not sure about that young one. Where is Oz?"

"A temple in Tibet."

"Ah. I've heard of that one. That's good for him apparently." He looked at the others. "If that pack should have to evacuate and not be able to go back, we can make room for them?" The other alphas mostly nodded. "We know if they have to evacuate the town we'll have a few thousand extra demons."

Xander cleared his throat. "Last census by the healers said ten thousand demons, with a transitional group of about another three to five from the two colleges, plus about three hundred or so humans. I had Cordy up with me earlier to talk to them about what we knew, that way no one could forget."

"Would they?" another asked.

"Yeah," Xander said with a nod. "Some would intentionally forget to tell the pets and toys they were tired of. Or their minions to see if they were smart enough to see the problem and remove themselves. Three of the seven on the City Council up there are that way actually." He shifted to look at Patrick. "A few up there are *really* high up on the evil bastard scale too. Including the one that walks around wearing furs he's ripped off other beings. I heard he was up there earlier but he was visiting his brother for a long term visit from the realm he just sent into a war zone."

"That's good to know," Patrick said, grimacing. "That being is a menace."

"To everyone," Xander's alpha contact agreed. "His brother's up there?"

"Yeah. He wants his brother's wife from the gossip Cordy heard. She's the one that told me he was up there so I asked. I'll have to add some extra layers to the security on the vault." Patrick grimaced, shaking his head slightly. "Oh!" He smiled. "That meeting to let the hunters know so they could fall in for the battle up there? Willow showed up." The alphas groaned. "With two members of the coven. Fully black magic filled, lying to everyone Willow Rosenburg. She sent me to a realm that was having a civil war. I showed back up after helping fix it with a few new dragon friends who cleansed her magic for her. Then Tara's coven bound her." He grinned at Patrick. "The locals up there arrested her and the two Devon witches for destruction of property and other things. They can't even get bail until they change the one officer back from a dog."

Patrick burst out laughing, patting Xander on the head. "That's so evil, Xander."

"I didn't do that part. I left as the officer pulled up. He questioned the witches as I got into a cab. The other cops got there apparently as he was being changed. So three witches in jail. Giles is not amused."

"Some of us are not amused at that coven anyway," another alpha said.

Xander smiled. "They tried to spell Tara when I asked her to show up since Willow was sneering about her. Tara's coven were not pleased either."

"At least Rosenburg isn't such a problem now."

"We hope," Patrick agreed. "Will she be there for that battle?"

"Probably. Buffy prefers to have her there." He shrugged. "I'll be there even if she sneers about it. I'm thinking however the hellmouth likes me so much may help."

"It might. We're not sure why you sucked up so much hellmouth taint," Patrick said quietly, studying the young hunter. "You're without as much as usual."

"I dumped a lot over there to help stop that battle. I also used it to cast a love spell. It's really hard to start a war against the guy you're sucking the dick of."

Patrick burst out laughing, bending over the table to pound on it. "Oh my god."

Xander grinned. "It worked very well." The others were smiling and nodding. "Okay, I'll leave you guys on that happy note. I'll email or call if I hear more." He got up and left.

Patrick smiled at the others. "Xander is very unique but quite a credit to the community. Beyond the charity work he does, he's protected us beautifully for years." He straightened up. "I do adore that boy sometimes." The other alphas smiled. "Is anyone thinking about that property he just flipped?" A few raised their hands.

The alpha he had shown it to smiled. "It's beautiful. If you need more than six spacious bedrooms you'll need to put up a guest house or two, or split one that was oversized and he suggested doing so but didn't get around to it, but a lot of scrubby woods and hill area. Plus an amphitheater by a waterfall. Cordelia made a beautiful choice for him." They smiled. "He also doesn't charge us much over what it cost him, unlike if he sold it to others outside the community."

"That's a good thing," Patrick agreed. "Let's break to tell our worried and overly eager young pups. They can work up how to guard the various packs." They broke up to go home. Patrick made it home to his wife, kissing her. "Call the boys together, dear."

"Just the boys?" she asked.

"No. Everyone." She summoned the others in from the backyard. He settled in front of them. "Harris told us tonight the First Evil is going to come out within a few months. We have up to sixteen months of her possibly coming out." They all stared at him. "Visions state Sunnydale will fall after that battle. We'll have a lot of fleeing from up there." They all nodded. "He noted there was a pack up there."

"Sire, can we help?"

"Be aware she can show up as a dead person," he said, looking at one female werewolf in the back. "Welcome, ma'am."

She sneered. "You won't win against me."

"We're not the ones fighting you. We're just protecting ourselves against your minions." She snorted and faded out. He pointed. The others nodded. "Keep watch. Let us all know. It's going to get nasty." He called the others. "She was here when I was briefing my pack," he announced. "She knows but she also knows that we're not fighting her." He hung up and went to make sure he had important documents in a safe place outside the house. Just in case the worst things happened. His pack needed to be secure. He pulled his second-in-command up there with his wife to talk to them about those things. They understood why and how any power handovers should go.

This would be bad. He hoped the ones that could fight it were strong enough. They were stubborn enough, the boy alone proved that, but strong enough?

***

Xander walked into the prison meeting area, heading over to a familiar looking brunette young woman. He sat across from her, staring at her until she closed the mouth that was hanging open. He grinned. "Hi."

"Xander," she said, looking around then at him again. "You look good."

"Thanks. I've done a lot of work since I left the hell that was teenage girls."

She tipped her head. "I heard."

He grinned. "Oh, so much longer of a story probably." He slid over an unsealed envelope. "Your new lawyer."

"Why?" she asked, not touching it.

"Because hell is coming," he said dryly. "You're also not the sort that being in here will help a lot. Yeah, you needed the help then. Now you need a different sort of help." She nodded once, still not touching the envelope. He gave her a pointed look. "Am I the sort to screw you over?"

"I don't know. Red said you were dirty now."

Xander snorted, shaking his head but he was smirking. "Red went magic addiction so hard she's in another nice facility like this one after someone cleansed her magic from her." Faith winced. "Yeah, it's that bad. We're talking we'll need *seven* of you."

"Of me?"

"You, Buffy, the other five... I'm not sure. Giles is working on it."

"That the only reason to spring me?"

"No. I really don't think this is doing you any more good," he said quietly, staring at her. "You're not out of control. You're not as broken, though all humans are broken somehow. You're now broken differently than you were then. All this," he said with a hand flick in the air. "It's not helping you as much as it used to."

"My therapist helps me a lot."

Xander nodded. "Did you know the Council hired her?"

"No, I didn't." She slumped. "Why?"

"Well, it's not a worry anymore." He grinned. "The current problem blew them up." She stiffened, staring at him. "Eyeless sorts in robes?"

"I've seen," she admitted quietly, glancing around then at him. "They won't come here."

"There's two that's been here. Buffy took them out yesterday. There's one weapon that can do that."

"Shit," Faith muttered. "I wondered why I got moved earlier than everyone else this morning."

"To protect you, Faith. Me and a few others asked poker contacts to snatch the young ones like you so they were safe and so were their families. Out of the three hundred, we've managed to save about one-twenty." She winced. "Another forty no one can find."

"Damn." She looked inside the envelope, taking the calling card to tuck into her shirt pocket. She looked at the letter. "Do we know them?"

"Light side, not part of the invasion earlier this year." She looked up at him. He shrugged. "Wolfram and Hart, who were your old lawyers, are gone because they started that."

"Eww. I saw on the tv."

"She still nagged me about being there."

Faith snorted, shaking her head. "Still thinks you're just a guy?"

"Yup." He grinned. "Instead I became the guy to go to for protection runes. If they'd let me I'd have you with one but they said no to one. Sorry."

"That's okay. I can handle myself."

Xander leaned closer. "Those things, they don't die. You escape them." She nodded once. "Also, call, woman. I don't get nearly enough letters from you."

She smiled. "They do lighten my life. I saw you with a new boytoy."

"I really like him. He's broken in ways I get, and I'm comfy with. He's not the usual sort who'd freak out at my life. He had a night of 'oh hell' then went supportive. I kinda really like that guy and I'd probably even give him closet space in the new house when I find it. Even with the liability of his parents I still like the guy. Lorne was really sweet to set us up."

Faith smiled. "That's good to hear. B? She got a new boytoy?"

"No. She could use one to break the pre-battle tension and make her sleep but no."

Faith nodded. "I can see how that'd help. It'd sure help me some nights."

"Hey, call," he said, staring at her. "It's not like I won't understand, Faith. I'd like to go back to being friends with you."

She nodded. "I can see friendsies. But no with benefits."

He waved a hand. "If TJ and I want to play, we go club." He grinned.

She laughed. "That's a good thing to do anyway." She stared at him. "You grew up."

"Yeah, I did. Then again I wasn't the fluffy sort Willow encouraged everyone to see me as." He shrugged. "I had a few bad jobs while I was waiting to make it bigger. Though," he said, smirking evilly with a wink. "I have told the sorts that bother me while I'm trying to work that I'm going to use one of my own kits to call a genie and ask for political gains if they don't leave me alone. Lo and behold, they quit bothering me while I needed to work." She burst out laughing, shaking her head. "Yeah. TJ was amused too." He smiled. "You call when you need me. I have my phone with me most of the time. If not, I'm having fun with the boyfriend." She nodded, smiling at him. "And write, woman. I know you can."

"Yeah, I can do that. How soon?"

"Really? We're hoping we have a month but it could be anytime in the next sixteen months." She groaned, wincing some. "Yeah. We're trying."

"That's cool. Let me know?"

"Oh you will. We'll ride in to save your skinny butt. Speaking of, put on some weight, Faith. You're too damn skinny. I don't want to go missing you like I will be Cordelia soon."

"Why is she sick?" she asked.

"Visions. She inherited them from another seer. They're causing brain changes," he said quietly. She slumped, shaking her head. "So I'm hoping she'll be turned or something. It'll save her."

"That's a bad decision," she said.

Xander nodded. "It is. And you're about as skinny?"

"Bad food, boytoy. Not my doing."

"Hey, if I could bring in food I would."

"I know." She flapped a hand at him. "Go home. Sex up the boyfriend."

"Can't, he's in DC right now. For at least two weeks." She grimaced. "So, be safe?"

"I can do that." A guard walked over. "Time's up I guess."

Xander looked at the guard, who he knew was a half demon. "Protect her for us, please?" he said quietly.

"We do, Harris. What's going on?"

"No one's told the community at large?"

"I missed a meeting."

"The Seal of the First is getting ready to open," Xander said quietly. "Buffy took out two after her last night."

"Shit," he said, looking at the younger slayer. Then at him. "That's going to be bad."

"Yeah, real bad. We're hoping we saved half the potentials since they were going after them."

The guard nodded. "I'll talk to the boss."

"Thanks, man, and if you need my help. Yelp at me."

"I can do that." He led Faith off.

Xander left, going down to the LA team's office. It was a quiet, longish drive but he needed the calming time. Connor stopped him at the doorway. "She down with another migraine?"

"No," Connor said, grimacing. "Um..." He looked inside then at Xander. "She had a seizure." Xander winced but nodded. "Gunn's locked himself up for the moment, Xander. We..."

"Do I need to make arrangements?" he asked quietly. Connor nodded quickly. "When?"

"Earlier," he admitted. "About an hour ago."

Xander swallowed hard and nodded. "Okay. I'll... does anyone else know?"

"I called Giles to tell him. Not sure."

"Okay. I'll figure that out." Connor nodded. Xander hugged him. "It's all right to grieve, Connor. I know you're not used to that stuff, but it's important for your mental health." He walked off, going to find out a few things. He knew what Cordy would have wanted. He parked in the parking lot of the funeral home then couldn't get out of the car. He went to the gym to beat the hell out of something. It worked for him. It was what guys did, right? Then he went to the funeral home once he was sweaty, his hands bloody, and his body tired. "Hi, I need to make arrangements," he said quietly.

The receptionist handed him a wet wipe pack. "Let me get our funeral director from out back, sir." She went to do that while Xander cleaned up his hands. Some guys could cry and some couldn't.

***

Xander was meditating after the funeral, trying to calm down some anger. He found Cordelia staring at him. "So," he said.

"Messenger duty," she said with a shrug. "It sucks. Thanks for making them not make it a closed casket funeral when they screwed up my head. It would've hurt Connor more." Xander nodded. "It's going to be soon, Xander."

Xander stared at her. "It figures. We're weak right now."

"She'll quit attacking a few days before."

Xander nodded. "I'll let that be known. Thanks and be safer please? And if they give you another vision like that, beat their asses, Queen C."

She smirked. "Of course I will. I'll beat them like I beat bad clothes out of your closet. I can't go see them. Oh, Wes is on this side, Xander."

"I saw." He straightened up. "Thanks."

"Welcome. By the way, he's perpetually cute with you. I like that, even if it's not a full time thing yet." She faded out.

Xander woke himself up, going to the main office. He ran into Gunn, Connor, and Wes. "Gee, Demon, aren't you dead?" he asked dryly. Wesley smirked at him. "You've been dead since the invasion so I know you're not Wesley. Flee in fear, mother fucker. Before I open my vault and pull things out." The demon faded out. Gunn winced. "She's the PTB's messenger and can't show up to you guys. I only got the one visit probably."

Gunn nodded. "That's sad but she's okay?"

"Yeah but they put her in a skirt she hated." Connor smiled a tiny bit, ducking his head. "She said they'll stop attacking the potentials soon, and that's when it'll happen. A few days from that."

"I'll let the others know." He looked at him. "You good?"

"No. I'm not good," Xander admitted. "I'm tired of losing people. That's why I'm going to take this anger out on the bitch we have coming up."

Gunn nodded. "Probably not healthy but reasonable."

"Healthy isn't hunting."

"True," Gunn said, patting him on the shoulder. "Any other good news?"

"They quit trying to take out Faith."

"I'll call around now," Gunn said, going to the office.

Xander looked at Connor. "She's not happy but she'll survive the end of the world, Connor," he said quietly. "She'll show up to nag whenever she can."

"I hope so. It'd be nice." He looked at Xander. "Are you all right beyond the anger?"

"No. Wanna spar?"

"Yes," he moaned. "I can't deal with all this sniffling." Xander nodded, following Connor to the gym to work out with him. It'd help them both.

***

Xander woke up with a moan a few days later. "It's tomorrow," he said, looking around his bedroom. He called people. "It's tomorrow." He hung up. They'd warn whoever needed it. He got up to take a shower and go make breakfast before he got into the vault. He was bringing some serious power with them. They had to win this one. He paused while cooking to call TJ's phone. "It's me. Stay out there tomorrow. There's going to be a battle, TJ, and it'll be bad enough to possibly destroy a whole town. So be safe, okay?" He hung up. TJ was never awake this early so he'd get the voicemail later. Xander finished eating breakfast then went to the vault. He couldn't count on any demon not joining her side. He couldn't count on wishes. But he had owed favors in there. They'd have to help by the debt's limits.

And maybe he'd make a wish that everyone would be okay.

***

Xander came out of the portal carrying one of the new slayers over his shoulder. The others were hurrying out too. Buffy was pulling the other one that was down. Xander looked back then went back to grab Faith, hauling her and the one she was trying to get free from the Bringers out of there. Spike was lagging. "Spike!" he bellowed. "Come on!"

"'S my duty," the vampire said. He lit a smoke. "Go. Get the other one." He picked up and tossed the limp, injured body. Xander cushioned her fall then hauled the girls out of the way of the portal. Spike pulled out a lighter, lit his cigarette, then pulled out his pocket knife and cut his arm. The Bringers rushed to stop him but the first drop hit the portal before they grabbed him.

Xander looked around. "Let's go," he ordered. "Now, before it sucks or whatever!" Buffy stared at him. "All the visions said the town was going to fall in, Buffy. Now!" He pointed. They got the slayers and everyone out of the way. Gunn took Faith from him but they barely made it out of the school before the sucking started. Xander winced as they had to fight to gain ground. A few of the girls fell so he hauled them back up. There was the National Guard so he let them take the girls from him and hurried out of the way too. Gunn had Faith. Connor had Buffy. They were missing two slayers. They were missing a few of Gunn's people. A few of the others who had showed up too. They had went in with twenty of them and came out with twelve. Xander sucked in a breath, staring around.

"Sir," a soldier said.

Xander turned to look at him. "Move everyone back farther, Captain. It's going to get worse. The visions showed it was worse." He nodded and they evacuated them all by chopper. The chopper wobbled as it took off because the ground there was breaking and being pulled into the portal too. Xander watched, staring at the destruction. He blinked at the medic trying to take his axe. "Mine."

"I need to bandage your injuries, sir."

"How many of us made it out? I counted twelve."

"Fifteen. We got a few in the earlier rush," he said. "Can I treat your injuries?"

"I usually do my own."

"Not this time, sir. You probably can't stitch the one on your back."

Xander looked over his shoulder, wincing. "I didn't feel that happen."

"Adrenaline will do that to you," the medic said. They landed on top of a hospital and he got everyone out. "This one's still in a bit of shock. Needs stitches." The nurses nodded, putting him in a cubicle with his axe.

A nurse came in. "Sir, what happened? There's all sorts of agents here who want to know."

"Agent Toliver at the FBI was briefed," he said quietly, staring at her. "So the agents already knew."

She nodded, going to tell them that. Another nurse came in. "Can we do your stitches now?"

"I usually do my own," he said quietly.

"Not this time. We're a good ER, not like the one up there." Xander shrugged so she pulled out what she'd need. She cut off the remains of his t-shirt and cleaned up the mess with a baby wipe first. They needed to clean the dripped blood and sweat off so they could sanitize the areas. "You have what looks like five cuts that need stitches." Xander looked at her. "Are you all right?"

He nodded. "I've had worse."

"Are you a full time hunter?"

"No. Not anymore. I left that life years ago." She nodded, getting to work while chatting to keep him awake and present. An agent stomped in. "We told Agent Toliver so he could tell all of you."

"Harris," the agent growled. "What happened?"

Xander stared at him. "I'm pretty sure that's self explanatory. It was a battle. A huge battle. Twenty of us went in and we apparently lost five people while in there so we could make sure the hugely evil thing couldn't come out ever again. If you need to know more than that, you'd better wait until I'm calmer. Or Buffy's calmer. One of the two." He stared at him. "Right after a battle isn't ever a good time to ask questions."

"The president and the governor want to know," the agent said more firmly.

Xander snorted. "The president has two guards who are some sort of half-demon. The Secret Service does that on purpose in case a demon problem happens. The governor is a tenth demon. I'm pretty sure at least one of them heard from their local community leaders." He stared at him. "You're keeping me from calming down and that is a huge problem."

"You're obstructing the investigation. If you'd just cooperate...."

Xander pulled out something and threw it on the ground, where it broke. The smoke faded up. "I wish everyone knew what had just happened so we were left alone for a bit. Please."

The genie stared at him. "That's a fairly simple wish. Don't you want riches? Power? Fame?"

"Fuck no," Xander said bluntly. "I just want to be left alone long enough to calm down from the battle before I call something bigger that'll end humanity."

The genie nodded. "Good idea. Wish granted." He disappeared.

Suddenly the tv at the desk started to blare facts about what had just happened. The senior agent glared at Xander. "That was uncalled for."

Xander pointed at his axe. "I'm three seconds from losing my shit. I've lost seven people in the last month. Plus some friends within the community that I was acquainted with. Please go away before I have to start screaming because if I start screaming it's not going to be pretty. I'm trying to spare you and others that. Consider me heroic for it." The agent stomped off. He went to bother Buffy.

"Xander!" she called. "Please calm down."

"Fuck off," he yelled back. He looked at the nurse. "Can I go home now?"

"I'm not nearly done with the first injury, sir."

"I don't care. I need to get out of here before I lose my shit. I need to calm down from the battle and people aren't going to help that."

She nodded, tying off that stitch. "You have eight hours to get those stitched up or they won't be able to," she said quietly.

Xander nodded. "Thank you." He slipped out of the ER, going to find a way home. He found a cab and he still had his wallet. He tossed a hundred at the guy and gave him his address. The cab driver took off. Xander breathed and calmed himself down to a more meditative state on the way home. He had to pass the driver another twenty since it was just over a hundred bucks but that was fine. He walked through the gateway in his community. The guards waved and got out of his way. One of them pulled up in a golf cart. "Thanks, Craig."

"Welcome, Mr. Harris. That looked really nasty."

Xander grimaced but nodded. "I had to use a wish to make the agents leave me alone while I'm calming down. So if they show up, I'm at the condo if you can lie to them."

"I can try." He watched Xander go into his house then sped back to the gate. "He asked that we convince any agents he's at his condo."

His boss nodded. "It's not often you see him that upset but he's one that'll blow up and do unintentional damage. Then he'll apologize. Never hurts another person though." Craig nodded, going to check the rest of the neighborhood. When a hunter showed up, he stopped them. "Leave the boy be," he ordered. "He's post battle hot and he's going to destroy many people."

"That's fine. Tell him to call us," the old hunter said. "We wanted to know how bad it was beyond however he got it on the news."

"He told one of my guys he used a wish because agents were bothering him."

"That's not a bad idea. Let him know we'd like a report to keep track of." The guard nodded, sending an email to Xander's address. "Thanks." He drove off, going to tell the others. That was a smart idea to use a wish that way.

***

Xander looked up as the demon showed up in his yard that night. He had summoned him. Xander stared at him. "Did you get the ones that fell out of there?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah, they're with the local ME up by there, Harris. I wanted to be able to wish them not to fall but you're right, it would've meant some zombies or something. Then you or Summers would've had to take them out later." Xander nodded, finishing his glass of iced tea. "The other higher demons loved that wish by the way." Xander smirked. "You good?"

"No. Still tense."

"I can see that. Don't you have a boyfriend?"

"He's in DC. He's needed out there and I didn't want him out here in case it set off earthquakes."

"A few minor ones but nothing too huge. The local community is holding an honoring event tomorrow."

"I can be there. Thanks for the help earlier." He handed over the small box of demon parts he had asked for his help. "Please don't make us do anything for the next few weeks?"

"Nah. These are going to England." He grinned. "My sister's pregnant and she'll adore eating these." He disappeared to drop that off then go talk to Summers. Buffy flinched when he appeared. "Peace, Slayer Summers." She huffed. "The bodies of those that fell were delivered to the local ME's office near there."

"I was hoping he'd have made a wish that no one would fall," Buffy said.

"Then we'd be taking out former friends who were now zombies," Faith said.

"Yes, you would have," the demon agreed. Buffy grimaced, shaking her head. "The local community is honoring everyone tomorrow."

"We can be there," she said, looking up at him. "Is everyone else all right?"

"Someone left a dog up there but I'm pretty sure they were eaten by something else before the battle instead of being sucked into the hole. The earthquakes it set off weren't that bad." She nodded once, looking down. "We're all hoping for peace for at least a month. Even the local vampire groups are swearing they'll order in."

"Might be a good idea," Buffy admitted.

The demon leaned down to look at her. "Boys like Xander go to the gym to beat a heavy bag when they're like this. Perhaps it will help you too," he said quietly. Then he nodded at Faith. "I'm glad you're fine, Slayer Faith. Many see you as a beacon of hope. After all, you broke but you got fixed. They can do it for more minor things like addictions." He disappeared.

"I'm a role model?" Faith asked, looking confused.

"Yeah, you are. You're stronger than I am," Buffy said. "I nearly got lost from losing my mom. You've seen worse and were still mostly okay." She hugged her. Then she went to the gym to work out. Maybe it'd help.

Faith still looked confused but went to talk to Gunn and Connor. "The community's going to hold an honoring event tomorrow."

"I'll find out when," Gunn said. "You good? I'm making margarita frozen ice drinks."

"I could use one but they'll pee test."

Gunn nodded. "I get that. Here, have one without the alcohol." She smiled and took it to sip. Gunn sipped his own, letting Connor grab one as he wandered past. "We're having an honoring event tomorrow."

"I heard the demon," he admitted. "I was showering." He walked off, going to the karaoke bar to calm down. Lorne was good at that. His bar always felt soothing to him.

***

Xander walked into the community center, going up to add a name to the sign in the front. Everyone stared at him but oh well. "Spike was taken hostage and tortured but he closed it so it can't reopen. He deserves just as much honoring."

The minister nodded. "I hadn't heard but you're right, Xander. Go sit." Xander went to sit down near the back. The slayers came in together. Buffy cracked, letting out a small sob as she read the signs. She handed the minister pictures of those girls and Gunn's people. He attached them to the signs. "Thank you, Slayer Summers."

"They deserve it. We don't have one of Spike."

"I have an old one from Angel's stuff," Connor said, handing it over. The minister smiled at him for that, hanging it up. They sat down, looking around. Connor spotted Xander in the back, getting a nod back. When the agent tried to interrupt, Xander hauled him out to beat him.

"I thought he didn't show up," Buffy said quietly. "It's good he's here." She looked at the other slayers then at the other demons. Xander came back in and sat down again. She looked back but he was stretching his neck. The minister cleared his throat and started the service.

Xander walked out first after it was done, staring at the two agents out there. "How dare he disrespect them by showing up at their funerals," he said quietly in a growl. "They didn't lose their life defending all of you to be disrespected that way." He walked past them.

"Sir, we'd like to ask you a few questions."

"Talk to my lawyer," Xander shot back.

"That's going to make things harder."

Xander looked at them. "Really? You just threatened me at a funeral for the people that lost their lives defending all of you? Some of which I knew pretty damn well." They both stepped back. "You know what, from now on any agents need to find my lawyer first. I used to help you guys but now...no. Because you're miserable human beings. Otherwise you wouldn't be lurking outside a funeral."

"You did beat an agent."

"Then arrest me. I can pay bail," Xander said dryly. "And I'll damn sure make sure *everyone* knows how disrespectful you were to the ones that fell. Let's see how good of community outreach you have when you're shown to be tactless assholes." He stared at them. "Well? If you're going to arrest me, come on. Not like I'm avoiding it." He held out his hands. "C'mon if you're coming. If not, I don't want to hear another damn thing about this."

"Xander," Faith said. "Making them mad won't help any."

Xander looked at her. "You should get out of the way before they decide we're friends, Faith."

She nodded. "Could be but I've been inside. It's a quiet place to think."

"I have a lake cabin for that." She smirked. "And I'm about to deal with things in a way that would make people think I'm evil." The agents stepped back, forcing smiles. "Well? Are we going to arrest me for beating that tactless wonder?"

"No," one said. "We'd still like to ask you a few questions though. Like how the bodies reappeared."

"I asked for a favor. No one should have to mourn without a body. It makes it harder on everyone. Especially since some of them had families. They deserved better than to die for the thankless assholes that have been plaguing us all for the last few days. Next time, maybe the military and you guys should fall in too. We won't always be here to save your asses." He walked off. "Faith, come for dinner sometime soon?"

"I can do that. Let me know when you get back from that cabin."

Xander shrugged without turning. "Maybe. Right now I just want a heavy bag. I hate being jaded about humanity. It's like some of them ask to be unprotected so they can die as a way of giving others a way to bitch." He got into his car and sped off.

Faith looked at the agents. "You're damn lucky, boys. Sorry but this is not the time and you knew that when you showed up. Have some respect. Not even the assholes who picket from that church are as disrespectful as you guys are." She walked off, following Buffy to the van they had rented. Buffy stared at her. "If they violate my parole for speaking my mind, I'll go back to finish my last few years," she said with a shrug. "They deserve to hear it."

"Yeah, they did. Mom would've ripped them to shreds with her nails and tongue. I don't have that skill." She leaned on Gunn's shoulder. "The real funerals?" she asked quietly.

"Later this week. We've already filed charges to get one girl's back from the ones that wanted to keep her to examine in closer detail. The judge was disgusted with them for it." He patted her on the knee. "We'll be okay. If not, you can go hit another hellmouth or travel. We'll guard Faith." She grinned at him. "A few of the guys really want to spar with you."

"It's a good thing. I could use some good sparring time."

"And food," Buffy said. "You're still skinny."

"It happens. I'll put it back on this month. The chow's better out here."

Gunn nodded. "Yes it is." They went back to the office, letting the two slayers go deal with the young ones that were going home in a few days. They were calling their parents to see if it was safe to come home. If there weren't any parents, they were calling others to see what was going on. Giles was helping with that.

***

TJ knocked, staring at Xander when he opened the door. "It's been a week. I knew you were alive because the press caught you teaching someone manners for interrupting a community funeral." Xander shrugged but pulled him in to hug. TJ felt the first sob happen and got them onto the couch to hold him. It was all a boyfriend could do. Once Xander was calmer, he helped him into the huge tub he had so they could soak with some wine and just be there quietly. TJ turned on a jazz station since Xander had a streaming music player in there. He turned it down so it was background noise. Then they cuddled. Xander needed him and he was there for that. His mother hadn't even nagged him about it. She'd nag when he didn't make it to her event in two days.

***

Gunn got a call. "It's me." He listened then nodded. "That's a great thing, Craig. Thanks for letting me know. Yeah, we're not going to bother Xander until he's calm anyway. Yeah, it's all good. Thanks, man." He hung up. "TJ's back," he told the staring young woman.

Buffy nodded. "That's good for him. He needs someone like TJ. So do I." She walked off frowning. Her sister gave her a pointed look. "Xander's boyfriend is back."

"Cool."

"I could use one of those."

Dawn nodded. "Yes you could." Buffy rolled her eyes as she walked off. "Maybe when I'm in college you can hit on a college guy again."

"Maybe," Buffy said. "It might be nice. And hey, the invasion was moved up so it's not next year." She went to sit outside on the roof. It was a pretty afternoon for it.

Dawn shook her head, signing Buffy up on a dating site. It could only help her. Plus she sent a message to a hunter she knew to see if anyone wanted her sister. At least they'd understand her.

Gunn walked out of the office, staring at her. "What are you doing?"

"Sending the hunters network news that Buffy's looking for a real boyfriend again and signing her up on OK Cupid." She grinned. "She could use it."

"She probably could." He went to the kitchen, smiling for the first time in a while. Dawn was a zany breath of hyper air at times. It was good to have around. Thankfully she went to back to school in three days before they were driven nuts by so much fresh oxygen.

***
Part 4 by Voracity2
Xander was staring out back when TJ got up the next morning. He got a kiss and smiled, pulling TJ down to hold him. "What do you think about selling the cabin in Tahoe?"

"When did you buy a cabin in Tahoe and do you need the money that much?"

"No, I don't need the money. I bought it after I made my first million. I thought it was what the popular kids did, and back then I still thought being a popular kid would be cool. I realized about a year later I'll never be one of them even if I own the whole world. I finished growing up then. I never visit it. I've been there twice. I will make a nice profit if I sell it, I did a tiny bit of fixing up but it was in pitiful shape when I bought it off drug seizure auction." TJ nodded. "It's nice but I never get up there."

"Do you need somewhere out of LA to run away to?"

"Sometimes but I can go visit a hotel for that."

TJ nodded. "That's sensible. Are you sure you can sell it?"

"Yeah. Unless something's happened to the roof that the caretaker group didn't tell me about. I hired people to cut the grass and take care of it so no one broke in."

"That's a good idea." TJ snuggled in, looking at his boyfriend. "That's up to you. Have you found a new one out here?"

"Yeah, it'll be done in about a week. They just had to up the security." He grinned. "I think you'll think it's too big."

"Probably. This place is a bit too big for just you or us."

"It's slightly bigger. It does have a huge closet. We should go shopping to honor Cordy's memory."

"She died?"

"Yeah, the visions got to her." He looked at TJ. "She died about three weeks before the battle. The First also took out a group of stronger were alphas in town. Including the senior one in town and his second-in-command and wife. She was apparently hoping to disturb the local community so she could take it over easier or we wouldn't have any support."

"I doubt that. The local demon community is stronger than that." Xander nodded. "Are the werewolves okay?"

"Yeah. They're figuring out who is the strongest alpha right now. I'm staying away from anything that's not an honoring event for them. That way whatever draws young ones to me doesn't have time to act and cause issues." He gave TJ a squeeze. "I made juice but I never got to actual food."

"I can add toast to that." He got up to get some juice and toast. "Fresh squeezed?"

"Juicer, TJ. I'm strong and it's a good thing to do with the anger but I'm not quite that bad this morning."

"Anything I can do to help?" he asked.

"Yeah, just cuddle for a bit?"

"I can do that. I'm pretty good at it when it's necessary." He brought Xander a glass of juice and some toast too before settling next to him. Xander leaned on him and drank his juice. "Eat the toast too," he said quietly. "You'll need the energy later." Xander nibbled but just stared at the area out back. "Don't you have to mow?"

"I hired. I hate mowing."

"Okay. I can see why. I think that's why I went for a condo. Houses have lawns and scary things."

"Sometimes. At least in this area cheap lawn help is all around."

"Immigrants?"

"The company said they only hire legal ones."

"That's good." They settled in to watch the neighborhood's trophy wives take their kids out to the park to hang out together. Most of them came back without a single speck of dirt anywhere on them. "Even my mother let me play in the dirt," TJ snorted. "That kid's way too clean to have done anything but sit perfectly still so Mommy had a visible trophy to show off."

Xander nodded. "She drinks a lot too." He looked up. "My parents weren't like that."

"Are they alive? Someone in Mom's camp asked."

"You know, I don't know. Don't give a fuck but have no idea where they went after I left Sunnydale. If they're still alive I'm sure their neighbors view them as community amusement." He watched a kid covered in blood come out screaming. "That's bad. The first aid kit's under my sink," he said, getting up to run over there. "Hey, Tommy. What's going on?" He stopped the kid, making him look up. "Why are you bloody? Did you get hurt?" TJ came rushing out with the kit.

"My mommy!" he said with a point. "It's hers. She fell or something."

"Okay, can you stay with TJ while I go check on her? When the guards get here, send them." TJ was calling the guards while checking the kid over. Xander took his med kit into the house. "Hey, Annabella?" he called. "It's Xander Harris. Tommy said you fell. Make a noise so I can find you. Please?" He heard a groan and headed for the bathroom. "Yeah, you *fell*," he said, pulling her out of the tub of bloody ice water. "Fuck." He pulled out his gloves and a thermal blanket for her. He bandaged the obvious cuts up her arm. She blinked at him.

"I'm going to scream at you for doing this while your kids were home," he said bluntly. "Then I'm going to kick your ass so far you're going to *wish* for frequent flyer miles. How dare you do that with your kids in the house! Jesus, woman, have some damn sense! Do you want your kids to remember this?" She moaned and started to cry. A guard came in. "She was in ice water with slit arms. Get an ambulance before I beat her on top of it for doing it with her kids at home.

"See if the baby's here." The guard called that in and checked, bringing the baby out and grabbing something for Tommy to change into. "The Peirson whelping bitch just got back from the park in a spotless state, see if she'll watch them," he called after the guard. Paramedics got there a few minutes later. "I've got pressure on the upper veins, they're pressure bandaged. I've got a thermal blanket for the ice water exposure."

"That's good work, sir. Is she living?"

"Yeah, she's breathing. She just passed out crying because I screamed at her about her kids being home."

"That's not all that helpful when you're depressed."

Xander looked at him. "Her husband's divorcing her for someone younger without kids. She's not depressed. She's mad and making him pay for it. Two days ago they had a fight out back where she threatened to shoot herself and leave him with the kids, who he'd probably give to social services to raise."

"One of those, great," the second paramedic said dryly. "We've seen a few of those over the last few years."

"LA is full of that sort," Xander said dryly. "Her husband's at Merill Lynch as an investment guy. He tried to talk to me about my retirement account once until I told him I was in protection designs."

"Charming. Her kids?"

"The guard hopefully asked the neighbor that treats her son like he's fragile to watch them."

"That's fine then. We can alert him to that and she might have his number anyway." They got her fixed up and loaded her onto the gurney with his help. "Good work, sir."

"Thanks." Xander took off his gloves to drop into the bag and let them leave. He closed and locked his kit, heading out after them. He handed TJ the kit and went to the woman in the doorway of that house. "Tommy's mom was in ice water."

"The blood?" she demanded. "That was nasty."

"If I heard that fight the other night, I'm sure you did," he said quietly.

"Oh. That's charming. Did she?"

"Exacto blade. Have you called his father?"

"I have. Tommy was filthy with that nasty blood. He's on his way here now." The ambulance drove off. "Well I guess their divorce is going to get even messier."

"Not really. Unless he contests him getting full custody thanks to this."

"Could be." She walked off shaking her head. "I've got these two in the yard, Harris."

"Thanks." He headed back to his house. TJ was on the porch. "You should've heard the 'you're divorcing me, I'm going to kill myself and leave you the kids to inconvenience you' yelling match the night before you came back."

TJ nodded once with a grimace. "I know people like that. She be okay?"

"Unless they screw up? Probably." He looked over. "Tommy, your mom's going to be okay but she might have to be in the hospital for a few days. Your dad should be here in a bit." Tommy waved and smiled. "Watch your baby sister, kiddo. You want her to grow up normal." He walked in, taking a glass of tea that was sitting on the counter. "Thanks."

"Welcome." He sat down at the piano to play while Xander relaxed. "I can't believe she did that while the kids were home."

"I yelled at her about that," Xander said. "She deserved it." He took a drink and relaxed. Until someone pounded on the door then kicked it in, coming with rifles. Xander stared at them. "Warrant, guys?" They pointed guns at him. "What do you want?"

"We're here to talk to you, Mr. Harris."

Xander stared at them. "Fat chance."

"We can torture your friend."

"I can summon something to eat you. I doubt you'll get a chance to hurt TJ." He stared at them then waved. "Hey, Craig." The people got knocked out by a gas grenade. "Thanks, Craig." He got up to turn on the fan then laid back down. TJ groaned but went back to playing the piano. "Any idea who they were?"

"One's wearing a sheriff's badge. They didn't identify themselves, didn't say they had a warrant."

"They didn't tell us that either," Xander quipped. "Did you call it in?"

"We did." Cop cars came rushing in with lights and sirens. Craig flagged them down. "Mr. Harris' uninvited guests that came in to hold them hostage at gunpoint are knocked out due to the sleeping gas canister he has."

"We're here about a suicide," an officer said.

Xander pointed. "They already took the mom. The kids are with the neighbor to the left by two houses. These guys pounded, then kicked in the door. Didn't say who they were, who they were with, just threatened to torture my boyfriend if I didn't do what they wanted. Thankfully the security team here is excellent and helpful." He finished his tea.

The office came in to look. "This one's got a badge, sir."

"Yeah, unfortunately he didn't identify himself as an officer."

"State law said if it can be assumed..."

Xander held up a hand. "This is the eighth or ninth time I've had people break in here to make me give them things. Or to kill me. I've had some of the dumbass hunters actually blow up my door to come in to kill me. I don't assume they're more than one of them. Especially since they didn't announce who they were and they threatened to torture TJ if I didn't do what they wanted. That's not how police officers act unless I'm mistaken and you've changed the rules."

"No, we don't threaten to torture you," he admitted. "I guess I wouldn't assume either."

"Craig's the one who found the badge but then again I had fake agents with badges once trying to get into my security vault to get demon things. They were with the stupid ones too."

"I can see if he's an officer." He called that in, with the badge number. "He is but he's a hunter."

Xander smirked. "Figures. Does he want to kill me because I do protection rune sets, because I'm a hunter as well, or because someone's told him BS about me?" He looked then opened a drawer to throw something over. "That's an antidote dose." The officer gave it to that one. The guy gasped awake. "So, why did you bust in here again?" he asked dryly. Xander got up. "TJ, more tea?"

"Please." He let Xander take his glass to refill then hand back. Then Xander refilled his.

"Water, Officers?" Xander asked. "I have bottled spring water, nicely cold. I put it in last night."

"Sure, I wouldn't mind," one said, taking a bottle. "Who're you?"

"Xander Harris."

"I've heard something about you."

Xander nodded. "A lot have." He grinned but it was grim looking. "I don't know which reason he's come for me."

"You have things that are supposed to be in official custody," the downed officer said.

Xander shook his head. "No I don't."

"You have weapons."

"Yeah, that I do, but I also have permission because I help protect LA from the bigger incidences." Xander walked off. "Let me get that letter of permission from the office." He came back with it.

The officer who had taken water read it over. "It does." He handed it over. "Written by the last VP."

Xander nodded. "His demon minders asked for me." He settled on the couch again. "Beyond that, what makes you think the weapons are here and if that was why you were officially here you wouldn't have threatened to torture TJ."

"I didn't," he sneered. Xander picked up a remote to run back the security tape. He turned up the volume. The officers glared at the one on the ground. "I...." He looked around. "You assaulted an officer."

Xander stared at him. "Weak, dude. Really weak. Especially since you were breaking into my house." He turned off the replay. "Considering I've had fake agents trying to capture my vault and hunters blowing up my doorway I'm pretty sure you're one of them that only thinks with his dick."

"I am not!" he shouted, hopping up. "You make a mockery of hunting. You shouldn't even be in the field."

"Sure, let me not stop the things that took out the guy that kept me from going on a serial killing and torturing rampage when I was ten," Xander said with a shrug. "I'm sure they'd be happy if I wasn't. Thankfully I only jump into bigger matters now unless I have to hunt because no one else can." He stared at him. "Other than that I tend to do protections."

"For *demons*," he sneered.

"If you're that against peaceful beings, go where they came from to solve the problems there so you can solve the huge problems that made them immigrate. Some would like to go home but can't." He stared at him.

"Not all of them immigrated."

"Oh, you're against werewolves and the like. Well, pity mother fucker. Most of them didn't accept it and were infected with the virus against their wills. If you don't like it, go find a cure." He sipped his tea. The guy lunged at him but Xander stabbed him in the throat. "Feel better?" Xander demanded. "Because I sure don't and you're bleeding on me. I don't need that today. Thanks anyway." He kicked him off him. "Please get him out of my house before I kill him." He wiped at the wet blood. "Eww."

"Sir, you provoked him," the officer with the water said.

"Then arrest my ass," Xander said bluntly. "We can hash this out in a court of law. Especially since he didn't come in as an officer."

"Point. Most judges won't go against a department."

Xander smirked. "Is he acting officially? Is he even on shift today?"

"No," the one that had called in admitted. "He's not. His supervisor wanted to know what he was doing."

"The gate guards can give you a copy of the tape. They've had to do it before when someone came up to get the hunters that broke in." He looked. "Duck, guys. Craig, drive by!" he shouted as he moved. He got TJ down and protected behind the piano. Shots rang out and the officers mostly ran after them. Xander looked down. "You good?"

"I'm fine but we're moving. Today."

"Sure, we can move today. Want to start on the closet?"

"Yes." He got up to do that.

Xander looked at the remaining officer. "I recognized the car," he said before the officer could ask. "He blew up the door a few months back and only got a slap on the wrist and a weekend in jail." Xander walked off, coming back with a bottle to pour across the doorway. "That way no harm can cross for a few days."

"Thank you," the officer said quietly. "Will it stop bullets?"

"Yes." He walked off to look in the cabinets. "That's going to take some boxes. Hey, Craig, you okay?"

"Yes, Mr. Harris."

"Cool. Anyone got any boxes?"

"We can call an approved moving company, sir."

"Thanks. The new house won't be ready for a week but TJ's nervous here."

Craig leaned in. "I'm horrified you're not freaking out."

Xander shrugged. "Everything's weak after what happened last year, Craig."

Craig turned green and heaved a tiny bit. "Please don't remind me, Mr. Harris." He stepped in when the car came back. Sure enough the potion's shield caught bullets and a stick of dynamite that was burning down. Xander tossed Craig a domed pot lid to put over it. He dropped it in time to keep the damage down.

The officer looked at the doorway then at his arrestee. "I think you're an asshole. You can talk to Internal Affairs." The guy didn't even struggle. Xander looked at them. "We can arrest them once it's safer, sir."

"Thanks. I really didn't want them as dinner guests. Oh, Craig, remind me to tell the composting demons they probably can't have the backyard again."

"I can do that and there's a few areas they could really help in, like a few community gardens." Xander smiled at him. "I'll talk to them later. Are you going to the condo?"

"Hotel. I signed papers to sell the condo the other day."

"Great. I'll have the boss set up something for you so it's safer."

"Thanks. You guys have been great security guys. We'll miss you at the other place." Craig smiled, calling that in. TJ came out of the bedroom. "Craig, we can't move the vault until the other one's ready and sealed."

"We'll have a guard team in this house until it's all moved, Mr. Harris. The boss insists." Xander smiled and nodded, getting back to packing the food up. He took a kiss from TJ, handing him an apple. TJ smirked back. "The boss is arranging a hotel room, Mr. Hammond."

"Thanks, Craig. That's really sweet. You've been great and a lot easier to deal with than the Secret Service." Craig smiled, going to help the officers with the dragging of unconscious people. TJ bit into the apple, looking at Xander. "Is that going to crimp your plans?"

"No. Not in the least. I was thinking about a weekend away at the cabin to check on it before I sold it."

"That's a great idea, see what you want to update to get a better price."

Xander shook his head. "I'm not going to pour that sort of money into it, TJ. Anything I pick someone else will want to fix to their tastes. I always offer credit back for repairs if they find something or if they get pushy to remodel something they swear is far out of date. Which usually means practical instead of uselessly pretty. Some designs these days are worse than trophy wives for that. They're even worse than escorts." TJ choked but he was laughing. "Seriously." Someone ran up to the door and Xander looked. "I've got an intent ward up," he called when they couldn't cross.

"Help, Xander," she panted.

Xander looked out and went to get something, coming out to hit the person holding the officers and guard team hostage with. They got distracted by the beanbag thrower and turned to stare at him so the officers could pounce him. "Today's been a bad day. I'm about to say fuck it and find something to make me forget today happened."

"Pot?" TJ guessed. "Or clubbing?"

Xander looked at him. "Risky to club, TJ. There might be more."

"Point. Pot?"

Xander considered it then sighed. "I can't inhale. I can only choke on it." He grimaced. "Otherwise yeah, I might." He slumped, looking out there. The officers were staring at him. "Tell me you wouldn't need one after today."

"No, I'd be plastered in my favorite chair with my wife locked away from me so she didn't nag and I couldn't hurt her," one said.

Xander considered it. "I could go help the babies in the neonatal ward." TJ choked again. Xander grinned. "It makes you feel a lot better. I won't even go to the drug addicted babies ward."

"Dinner afterward?" he offered.

Xander smiled and nodded. "I could like that. Let me clean up." He went to clean up again and change clothes into going out stuff. He and TJ left, going to the closer children's hospital. Xander went up to the volunteer coordinator's office. "It's been a shit day, Sheila, can I do pity cuddles? Oh, this is TJ, my boyfriend."

The harried woman behind the desk smiled. "Sure, Xander, you've always been a great volunteer. I'd want pity cuddles too with what's been in the press."

"We had three different problems in the neighborhood earlier too. You're going to hear about Tommy's mommy almost making good on the fight the other night. With the kids home." She winced. "Then hunters broke into my house, and then one tried a drive by with cops sitting there."

"We can get you pity cuddles." She got up and handed them special badges. "Put them on, guys." TJ locked his on his shirt button hole while Xander put his on his waistband. She took them up to the nursery. "Hey, Dorothy. They've had a crap day. Can they do the pity cuddling and feeding?"

"It'd save me a ton of work for a few hours if they did. We're short today anyway." She smiled as they put on the protective gear she handed them. "Mr. Harris." He nodded. "C'mon, I have a sweetheart whose mommy walked out. She could use the pity cuddles more than most. We're worried she won't thrive."

"Poor kid," TJ said. "I know almost nothing about kids beyond which end goes up."

The nurse smiled. "It's all right, Mr. Hammond, I won't let you do the hard parts. Here, sit here," she said with a point at a rocking chair. He sat and she handed him a baby then a bottle. "Just let him suck."

"He's so tiny," he said, staring at the tiny thing that fit in one hand.

"He was born too early. His mom was in a car crash and it set her off into early labor. She's in traction so she can't come down to cuddle." Xander had taken his out to cuddle against his shoulder. The baby was already looking better by her monitor readings. TJ let the baby suck on the bottle all he wanted. Xander was cooing while moving around with the baby. "Go ahead and sit, Xander. She's too little to dance yet." He nodded, settling next to TJ to cuddle that one. Dorothy made notes then got back to the work she really needed to do. Including changing some diapers.

TJ looked at Xander. "You've done this before?"

"Yeah, after a few really bad days. I nearly came here after Cordy's funeral but I figured I would've cried on them and they don't need more of that." He looked at the one fussing. "Nurse Dorothy, she's blueish." She rushed over to help the baby breathe better. "And he's blue too," he said with a point. "Here, give me her." She handed over that one, letting him sit her up against his chest while she checked the other one. "Looks like you had a crap day too, kiddo. We can handle that though. You're strong. You can do just as good as I did and be a better guy too." A doctor rushed in at Dorothy's page. "I've got one of them and she's got the other. Hers was positional."

"Okay. Thanks." He checked the other one. "Looks like some snot dripping but you're right, the suction isn't helping much," he said. "We can handle that." He unhooked her, taking the baby to the next room to work on her snot problem with a nurse that came in to help.

Dorothy checked everyone else than came back, carefully taking that one. "You're a good girl," she praised. "Very calm."

"She's not blinking or reacting to words," Xander said. "Is she deaf?"

Dorothy nodded, smiling at him. "Nice catch, she is. She can feel the vibrations when you hold her and talk to her though." She put that one back into her incubator and made sure she wouldn't shift and wiggle again. "There you go, sweetheart." She reattached all her monitors and made a note. Xander went back to humming to his. TJ got a smile from his baby. "Let him burp."

"How do I do that?" She took the baby to burp for him then handed him back. "Oh, okay."

"Let him finish the bottle then do it again. Just gently pat, TJ." She made another note and let the guys calm down with the babies. They were good. TJ even gave a diaper a horrified look but tried a tiny bit when Xander changed one for her.

***

Xander and TJ walked into the Hyperion's office, finding a yelling parent. He cleared his throat but sighed. "We're moving in a week," he told Buffy. "But we're hiring movers."

"That's good. Means I don't have to haul a couch."

Xander nodded. "Pretty much." He looked at the parent. "Ma'am, why are you yelling at her for me and others saving your daughter by having her taken?" She spluttered. "The ones that came after her blew up entire families to get that one daughter in that family. It saved all of you and we made sure your daughter was safer until that threat got stopped. We're lucky we got to save a hundred and eighty of them out of the three hundred that were potentials."

"What if it happens again?" she demanded.

"It can't," Buffy said. "That threat's locked in unless someone tries to reopen it and that's nearly impossible. Especially since the whole town got sucked into that portal."

"At least Spike has smokes and liquor from the liquor store," Xander said dryly. She scowled and hit him on the arm. "He does."

"He does but bad thought, Xander." She looked at the mother again. "Merry was real safe. We were here with me and Faith, plus my watcher and a few of Gunn's people."

"They're a *gang*," she said, glancing around.

"Yeah, one that formed to protect the vulnerable, poor people," Xander said. "I admire Gunn a lot for finding a way to guard the most snacked on people in the city. They're not that sort of gang."

"Oh. I didn't know that."

Buffy nodded. "Gunn's people help a few shelters and patrol around the homeless and poor communities. A lot of LA would rather see them go so they didn't have to see poor people but Gunn's a real role model. He cares more about those people than others who work with them."

The mother nodded. "I can see how that's a good thing for my daughter to see, Miss Summers. Is she ready yet? We've missed her. Her father's really grouchy."

Buffy smiled. "She compared her father to a bear a few times and she bought an extra short skirt to taunt him with to make him complain about other things she said." The mother shook her head but smiled a tiny bit. "Merry, are you about packed up?" she called.

"I can't find my hairbrush," she called back.

Xander looked then stared at the tiny slayer to be. Who pouted at him. "Erica has it I think."

Merry brought her bags down and leaned down to kiss and hug that slayer, taking the brush. She did Erica's hair and her doll's then packed the brush. "Thanks, Erica. I'll see you sometime soon." She blew a kiss then looked at her mother. "They're even more overprotective than Dad is. They wouldn't let me go to the mall by myself."

"Not during an emergency and you're not used to LA," Buffy said with a shrug. "There's guys there who hang out at the mall to pick up young girls to hurt them."

"They're everywhere," Merry said.

"Yeah but at home there's probably only a few," Xander said. "Here they have gangs. We'd never let you out on your own until you were fully able to kick butt and use pepper spray at the least. That way you could protect yourself."

"I like that," Merry's mother agreed. "Thank you for protecting my daughter." She let Merry get hugs then took her to the car so they could drive back to Arizona.

Xander looked at Buffy. "How many left to go home?"

"Seventeen that have no home and another three that're flying out in a few days. They had to get official paperwork to get back home to Europe."

Xander nodded. "At least we managed to save them."

"Yeah, I'm happy we saved so many." She hit him on the arm again. "I heard a lot of freaky stuff from your neighborhood."

"Doesn't match the reality," he said dryly. "It got to the point where I volunteered for a few hours of NICU baby pity cuddling."

She winced. "Like newborns?" Xander nodded. "Why?"

"It's really chest warming," TJ said. "I don't like kids and I sat there for hours holding them and letting them coo on me. One even threw up on me and I thought it was cute. But I still hate kids."

Buffy nodded. "That's really weird, guys." Gunn came in. "Merry just left."

"I heard," Gunn admitted. "Thanks, guys." They grinned. "Xander, what did you do?"

"NICU pity cuddles."

"That's cool, man. That's actually one of those things that reminds you why we fight sometimes. I help my girlfriend babysit her sister's kids at the violence shelter." TJ nodded a bit. Buffy looked confused. "She had to run, Buffy."

"I didn't even think about them having kids."

"A lot do," Xander said. "And there's not enough room in the shelters. They had budget cuts again this year too. I'd like to stick a bezoar up some people's asses and let them eat them from the inside out about those cuts."

"Amen," Gunn quipped. "We'd all like that. They cut funding for all shelters. Even animal shelters and you know they have Hollyweird behind them. We do what we can though."

Xander nodded. "We do. Let me know if I can help?"

"Of course. You're the second person I hit up." He smirked. "The first is a lawyer we know who helps the violence shelter with legal paperwork and divorces." He walked off. "Erica, that's a pretty hairdo."

"Thank you, Gunn." She smiled, hiding her face in her doll. "Hi, Mr. TJ."

He looked at the tiny one that Xander had greeted. "Hi, Erica." He smiled at her, calling up all of his political greeting training. "That is a pretty hairdo." She blushed and ran off to hide and stare at him. He grinned at Xander. "She's cute."

"We'll get to see a lot of her," Buffy said. "She was in the system before we had her saved."

Xander grimaced. "Her watcher?"

"Got arrested," Buffy said with a shrug. "She'll be happier with us. Gunn's friend the social worker is helping us."

"Great. Let me know. I'll be supervising for the next week." Buffy nodded. "Don't you dare hit me again," he said when she was about to. "You bruise me too much and I'll beat you."

"TJ could kiss the booboos to make it better," she quipped, strolling off.

"That's not where I want to kiss him," TJ shot back, making her laugh through choking. They left, going to the hotel. It was safer and easier to decompress there. Xander had a message waiting from his relator friend that someone had signed papers for that pack house. Xander had a happy night making TJ gasp, pant, and beg. It was great they didn't have to wash the sheets in the morning.

***

Xander drove up to the car dealership, getting out with TJ following him. "Is my car fixed?" he asked politely, giving the repair department worker a puppy look.

"Which one is yours, sir?"

"Harris? Smooshed by a witch with a 'tude. Along with half a parking lot and a diner."

"She destroyed a diner?" TJ asked.

Xander looked at him. "No, she dissolved a diner." TJ groaned, shaking his head. "She's still in jail. The judge won't let her out, considers her a threat to humanity." He grinned at the guy, who was calling back to the repair department.

"Mr. Harris?" an older guy in a workshirt that said 'Stan' on it called. Xander walked over to him, shaking his hand. "Your car is a right mess."

Xander nodded. "I'd really like to stomp on her about that. The insurance company thought it could be fixed."

Stan shook his head. "No way in hell. Sorry. Though we wanted to ask you about the little area in the trunk?"

"Oh, shit, I left the apocalypse battle weapons in it. Can I get them?"

"Definitely. Please actually." He led them over to the car.

TJ paused to stare at it, then took off his sunglasses to see more clearly. "How did she do that?"

"The portal crushed it when she opened it a few dozen feet away," Xander said, looking at him. "Because she didn't control it. If you do it right, you can't feel a portal two feet away from the boundaries. But of course Rosenburg couldn't control herself."

"I thought I knew addicts," TJ muttered.

Xander nodded. "Me too. The last fit she had was bad enough." He opened the trunk to open the flap and pull out the weapons he kept in the car. "TJ, there's one under your seat."

"Good to know." He got into the crumpled front area, reaching around to find it. He brought it out and looked at it. "I think it's loaded."

Xander looked then took it to put into his back waistband. "Safety's on. I always keep the safety on and usually a trigger lock if I can." He pulled out a few daggers then reached around. "Ha! There we are. My second baby." He petted the assault rifle. Then the swords. He counted, frowning as he searched.

"We had one fall out on the wrecker's bed," Stan said. "What do you do?"

Xander smiled. "I do protection runes and I'm a part-time hunter during apocalypse moments."

"Oh. We had bets you were a drug dealer or something exotic."

"Sorry, pretty mundane but painful." He took that bagged dagger and nodded, carrying the stuff out to the present trunk.

TJ watched him for a minute then looked at the repair guy. "Has anyone told his insurance people?"

"We tried. They're still insisting it can be fixed." Xander carried out the rest of the things then came back. "They won't listen to us, Mr. Harris."

Xander called in. "Hi, Delbert. It's Xander Harris. I'm at the repair shop and we need you down here please. No, some paperwork stuff about my last car. Really? It can be fixed? Delbert, did you even see my car? No, it didn't roll over. You got me mixed up with someone. I had a witch cave it in with her portal of addiction. Yes I am covered for witches, Delbert. I have that speciality rider for supernatural damage," he said dryly. "I'm at the dealership I bought it from less than a year ago, Delbert. Sure, I can wait. Thanks, man." He hung up. "He said twenty minutes and he's swearing about my speciality rider."

"Think he'll try to cancel your policy?" TJ asked.

"Hell no. He works with the community. He knows I'm a good client and I hardly claim anything. I could've claimed all the times those hunters broke in and didn't. I just had it fixed."

TJ nodded. "That's insane. Expensive and insane, Xander."

Xander smiled. "The new place is much safer. Even if the ram the gate like they tried on the last place, it'll eat them. I made sure of it." He smirked. "I've set it so it won't catch you. You left a dirty t-shirt by the way. Thanks."

TJ smirked at him. "I'm in the protections?"

"Yeah, that way you can sneak in sometimes to surprise me." He took a quick kiss and grinned. "You're not on the vault, because that would be dangerous for you, but you're on the house's security system."

"Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome." His insurance agent huffed in. Xander pointed. Delbert looked and whined. "Yeah, that was my feeling too. Thankfully Rosenburg's still in jail."

His insurance guy came over to look it over. "I guess we'll have to replace it." He looked at Xander. "The higher ups hate your rider and all supernatural damage."

"That's why I only claim huge problems," he said. "I haven't claimed any of the times the hunters broke in, Delbert. Or when that vampire group tried to take me hostage so I could be turned and become their queen." TJ walked off giggling. "They promised to pick you up too, TJ," he called after him. "I called your buddy out there to warn you."

"I thought they were jealous of me."

Xander grinned at him. "They were. They were going to let you be my first feeding and play toy while I was properly mated to whichever one won the dominance fight. They thought you couldn't keep up with a vampire who needs viagra."

"I've never needed that help," he said dryly. But he was smirking. "You'd turn me?"

"That way I'd have someone fun to hang out with forever, dear. If Cordy was alive I'd have brought her too."

"You're warped, Xander."

"I need caffeine."

"There's a starbucks up the street when you're done."

"Cool. I didn't see that." He looked at his insurance guy, who was shaking his head. "At least I'm fun, Delbert, and I'm pretty easy to handle. I pay on time."

"You do," he admitted, finishing the paperwork and taking pictures for the claim. He showed Xander where to sign. "Are you renting that playboy car out there?"

Xander grinned. "I needed something fast and hot to match TJ," he purred. Delbert shook his head. "I do."

"I'm sure you do. Get an audi like the evil genius ads?"

"I thought about that but they're jaguars and everyone would think I had passed over." He batted his eyes at him. "How long?"

"Ten days probably, Xander." Xander hugged him and bounded off to get more caffeine. "Sorry about him. He does calm down when he's had caffeine."

The repair guy smiled. "We all took bets about him when we found swords. At least he's nice and not shrieking like some boys do these days."

"I think he only shrieks at his boyfriend." He handed the repairman a copy of the paperwork. "Maybe we can use it as a lesson to teenagers about driving poorly."

"I know someone who does that lecture set. I'll ask 'em."

"Thanks. Or sell it for scrap and tell me how much so I can deduct it from the payment please." He shook his hand again then left to go have a headache in his office. This year had been bad for supernatural injuries to houses, people, and property. Thankfully the higher ups couldn't deny that an invasion and then an apocalypse battle happened. Even if they had held most of the policies for the houses in Sunnydale.

***

TJ looked around as they drove through the gate to the new house. "Nice looking neighborhood."

Xander smiled. "I'm just outside a HOA area too. Thankfully. No monthly dues but I don't get to use the tennis courts I wouldn't use anyway."

"Tennis can be fun but it's not my favorite game either," TJ said. The driveway wasn't that long. The house sat closer to the front of the lot than the middle. TJ looked it over. "It's like a mediterranean mixed with a fairytale castle." In front of the tan house was a rounded, large entryway with the mediterranean styling but the tower room on top of it was turned into a more spire than a gentle tip on most of that style. The house flowed from the rounded entry area to wings on both sides of the house. The one on the right had a second story and the left mirrored for a bit then faded to a single level, it but you could tell by the windows there weren't rooms up there. The right side's second story faded down to the three car garage. "This is nice." Xander grinned. "Is it a fusion?"

"The relator's records called it a contemporary mediterranean. I just changed that one roof line and the walkways out back a bit to add in the fairytale castle look that I like but I didn't want to fully live in. I don't need a castle right now." He hit the opener, letting them park in the single part of the garage. Xander led him in, which was into the hallway next to the large kitchen. "It was originally all white with just dark counters and stainless steel appliances."

"Lots of cabinets," TJ said, looking at the slightly tinted toward green, just a hint of color in the paint, cabinets. They ringed the large square room and fit under the mixed glass island that was the size of a king sized bed. The caesar stone looked like cuts of geodes and marbles pressed into a slab, all in the blues and green shades. TJ looked at the other counters, smiling. They were caesar stone pressed glass ones in a rough grayish pattern that looked like it had been pulled off some mountainside but had removable places that held cutting boards in wood, marble, and clear glass.

The center island's bolder colors on the counter drew the eye there and let the rest look like a normal kitchen but the two patterns didn't clash at all. "This is really nice." He opened the door of the mostly hidden restaurant style refrigerator. The front had panels that matched the cabinets so you could only see the handles. It had a huge freezer section, which was reasonable since Xander didn't cook real often but often warmed things up. The stove was a six burner electric one with double ovens. "Not gas?" he asked with a point.

"I really hate using gas. I realize why chefs like it but the gas gives me a headache." He shrugged slightly. "There's a mircowave in the island and the dishwasher drawers are over here." He pointed at them. "The original owner put in dual ones so I changed one out to the drawer system so we don't have to run the whole thing if we just have a few plates. I have no idea how I'm going to fill all this or what to put in the few that have glass fronts instead of full doors."

"We can figure that out." He smiled, walking into the family room area, which had hardwood floors. It had nice french doors to the pool area. "Is that a party cave?"

Xander leaned against his back, kissing his neck. "It's a small lazy river. It let me join the three pool areas and take out the putting green I wouldn't use," he said quietly. "The hot tub's off to the side of the cave structure. If I had more time I probably would've made it a full loop instead of a line from one pool to the other one." TJ smiled at him. "I saw one done that way on an epic pool show on tv. That guy spent nearly a mil making his lazy river that covered over two acres and had a party cave as part of it."

"Way too much."

"He was in Texas too so really high water bill for the summer. They said it took seven pumper trucks to fill that pool. Ours only took two."

"That's nice. Nice deck chairs." He looked around. "What's that ivy covered area?"

"It originally had a picnic table but now has a set of loungers. That's the near the guest house area, which is now the work area and the vault," he said quietly. "But I have a few more surprises. Even I was shocked as hell at the closet. It's the size of our old bedroom." TJ gave him a look. "Really. All white too. The last owner apparently had issues with white." He led him to the formal living room, which had white marble floors and a fireplace between extra large floor to high ceiling windows. The main bedroom was nicely oversized, had their bed already, and they needed better lamps because Xander's old ones looked poor.

Xander let him into the en suite bathroom. It had a long two sink vanity on the left with a long mirror behind it. On the right was a clear glass modern looking shower but someone had etched the center body portions for modesty without sacrificing the overall look. At the end was a makeup table and a single stone marble oval tub. That was probably too heavy to replace or move. The toilet's doorway was behind the door and it had its own doorway for privacy. "This is a bit light." A lot of white again with hints of tan.

Xander nodded. "The last people had some sort of fascination with white. At least we have some tan. I would've replaced the tub with something more classic but no one could move it. That thing weighs more than the car does."

"That figures." He let Xander lead him to the closet. It had a doorway back in the bedroom. TJ blinked at all the white. White built in cabinets, like french style kitchen cabinets but with hanging rods. Most of them had two rows of rods, but one of them had a set of tipped shelves for shoes. There were two small windows on each side of the center white shelving unit that was longer hanging rods plus the end had clear glass doors with multiple drawers under that. He looked around then at Xander. "Paint?"

"I thought about stripping it and staining but..." He waved a hand. "I can't fill this and it doesn't have a few things I could use. I know that the last person probably had a wife or something, hence the dress hanging areas and all the shoe storage." TJ cracked a smile, nodding. "I'd want a bench in here, a set of real drawers for t-shirts and underwear. The few drawers in here are pretty short on depth." He looked around. "I'd take out that center area and put something along that wall with better drawers plus a bench to sit on while you're putting on shoes. It's way too fancy for me."

"It is, and really white," TJ agreed. Xander smirked at him. TJ looked around again. "I can see why you'd want to put in a bench and some more drawers. Right now it's set apart from each other so I guess she could get dressed without him staring at her." He walked around the huge room that was half the size of the kitchen. "This is bigger than the bedroom."

"Yup."

"Safe?" TJ asked with a point.

"No, apparently they needed decorative panels. Will there e a safe? Yup but not there. I like hidden ones."

"I can see how that's a great idea." He looked around again. "It's nice they arranged it so it was decorated with the cabinet detailing but I think whoever did this had OCD. That's the only reason for no color other than white."

"The whole kitchen had been white except for the stainless appliances and thin, dark counters. I'm so glad we got that painted."

TJ looked at the same hardwood floors that had been in the family room area then around again. "We can convert this easily, Xander. Probably without affecting resale value. We'll keep some of the shoe storage too for when you sell it." The walked on to look at the other bedrooms and one that had been sealed off as the upstairs safe room. TJ looked then nodded it was good. "We can add survival supplies for food and water."

"I have that planned but I have to go to the store. I haven't bought food yet." He took TJ's hand so they could use the elevator instead of the stairs to go to the basement area. "There's three areas down there. One is this party area," he said, letting him look around. It had a nice looking bar area that didn't have many mirrors to annoy anyone. It had a pool table too. "It came with the house." TJ smiled, looking around.

"We have a minor research and working area so I can run down to do fast things," he said, letting him see in there. "The security system's already up in both physical, virtual, and magical." He smiled. "There's a tunnel out to the real work area in here too." He walked TJ back to the other side. "This is just your area. Including a sleeping nook if you get tired and want to sleep without me cuddling." He opened the double doors and let TJ walk in and look around.

There was a baby grand piano in there, like the one he had at his apartment in DC. The floors were wood but a darker shade. The walls weren't padded with insulation against the noise. He had french doors that led out to the patio area. He opened them, smiling at the sound of the lazy river bubbling and sat down at the piano to play something simple. "The room sounds amazing, Xander."

He looked around then at his smiling boyfriend. "Absolutely great." Xander came in to kiss him then sat on the small loveseat in there. TJ settled in to play. The sound carried outside and all over the downstairs area, plus he had a small box sitting next to his music holder that was apparently his broadcast system for the downstairs area. He hit one to see how it sounded, pretty good overall. He went back to playing, smiling at how it merged well with the outside noises. He finally gave up and went outside with Xander, who let him look up at the new walkways he had put up. "So there's terraces back here?"

"I had them put on all the rooms and to the important areas."

"They look like the parts of a castle that people patrol on."

"Crenelations? I was hoping so." He grinned. "That's the other castley part I added on. I did hide some of it with the iron work, and more's coming tomorrow. A bit of it was running behind." He let TJ go look at the water and the outside of the guest house. It still had doors and windows but you couldn't see inside. TJ strolled back after a glance at the outdoor kitchen and new looking concrete tables out by the far swimming area.

"There's one neighbor who can look in." Xander pointed at them. "And I was warned she might be a crank if we ran around naked. I said to let her come, we're young people and if I want to run around naked in my pool area it was good for me." TJ laughed but nodded. "We have lights out here but they're not super bright. They're pointed toward the edges of the pool so the water area doesn't get too bright. The plants all have low water and reclaimed water systems to spray them so we don't need to use a hose."

"That's good." They walked around the rest of the property then went back in through the piano room to go upstairs. "Should I worry about any stashes of weapons?"

Xander opened one. It had looked like part of a media cabinet. "All rooms but the formal living room I figure we'll probably never use have a hidden stash of simple things."

TJ nodded, looking it over. A few handguns and bullets, a sword, a stake set, and a small axe and machete against the sides. "That's nice." They went back to the kitchen to work on the grocery list. The rest of their stuff was getting there the next day. So they went to the grocery store and TJ figured out what he wanted to cook for dinner. Xander could stare in awe at him. They picked up some barstools to be put against the island for easy eating there. Plus white plates. That way it wouldn't clash with anything and because Xander had a mixed up set of found plates, bowls, and glasses. TJ could cook while Xander put together the barstools. Then they went to christen the bedroom with some tv watching and cuddling. Sex would be later since Xander admitted they had to buy a new washer and dryer, he had forgotten.

They could find it at the same time they bought things for the other rooms.

***

Gunn looked up as Faith and a few of his guys came into the office. "What's up, guys?"

"Did you know Harris moved into some huge mansion?" one complained.

Gunn stared at him. "After how many times he got broke into? I'm happy he moved."

"It's still huge."

"It's four bedrooms now," Faith said. "Two got converted into a safe room and a workout room. Six bathrooms but most of the house is open area for parties. It's like most guy's dream."

"It's got a pool," one complained. "We're having a drought."

"All the stuff he has to water is cleaned and recycled," Gunn said. "He got some engineering guy at UCLA or wherever to make him one that goes into any house that has a pool."

"Why doesn't he get to donate to the shelters?" another asked more quietly.

"He does," Gunn said. "That's how the paychecks and food happened for the last two months." The guys all grimaced. "Harris may live large but he doesn't own a lot, guys. He takes whatever extra he makes when he updates properties for the community into the next house. He got that one with what he sold the last one for plus a bit extra. I've heard he bought a cabin in Lake Tahoe once and he's selling it now too. He doesn't charge us a lot of money for the protections. A lot of the ones doing that sort of work would. Or in emergencies jacking up the prices."

Faith nodded at that. "I heard one of the alphas asked that during that info meeting he did with them. He sneered back about not being one of them. X only really makes money from those kits of his."

"He's too well watched to put out another one," Gunn said. "Or else he might've recently."

"Nothing else would've fought her or the Bringers," Faith said with a slight shrug at the end.

"Point," Gunn agreed. "Maybe he'll put out a few new genie kits. Those are always fun to watch go on." She walked off smiling. "You got mail earlier," he called after her. He looked at his guys. "Xander already does a lot for us and the community, guys."

"He seems to care more about the demons than the humans," one complained.

"Well, yeah, we've been shit to him," Gunn said, staring at him. "Humans have attacked him, tried to kill him, tried to take what he's protecting out of the vault to use against him and others. If I was Xander I wouldn't have anything to do with most humans."

"That's the other hunters."

"Not all of them. Xander was at the grocery store the other night for soda and some lady walked up to him and hit him for daring to be around *normal* people." They all winced. "Went off on him about how he might be protective but he was just as bad as the demons were and we all needed to die. Xander just sneered. I would've hit her back."

"Me too," the guys mumbled.

"Does his boyfriend know about that?" one asked.

"Nope, probably not. He might've seen it a few times. I'm wondering if his mother's going to ask TJ to not date Xander for a while to ease her way or if she'll try to claim cred among the communities because of Xander. I know Xander's threatened if people don't leave him alone he's going to run for president some day." They all smirked at that. Xander hated to dress up, he'd hate that job. "Xander set them up a nice, protective nest, guys. TJ might not be permanent yet. He's got a few fatal flaws like a drug habit. I think Xander likes him because he's not perfect but he's broken in ways he understands. With his family and Rosenburg he'd never understand normal people. Though I asked," he said, staring at one. "He was flirting with you. You were stupid."

"I didn't realize. Huh." He considered it. "I might've taken him up on it for a while but I think I'd rather have a girlfriend overall. Maybe kids some day."

Gunn smiled. "They went to the neonatal unit recently to get pity cuddles with the babies when they had to move."

"Aww," one said, walking off. "Thanks, Gunn. You might want to explain that to others. There's some resentment over the wallet."

"I can do that," he promised. "Be damned if I want that to go on." He followed them back to the gang's meeting area, looking around. "Guys, let's talk." They all stared at him.

***

TJ followed Xander out of the furniture store scowling. His boyfriend was angry. "I would've hit her," he said.

Xander stopped to stare at him. "Then I'd get thrown in jail for assault. Unfortunately people like that are all over. He smirked at the evilly smirking bitch. "I hope your skin cancer kills you, bitch. You deserve it, you trophy wife slut. By the way, how is that porn habit going? I'm pretty sure I caught the last tape you put out." She fled crying. He looked at TJ. "Let's buy that couch somewhere else."

"Yeah, I'm all for that." He glared at that woman's back as she pulled out of her parking spot. "Let's walk off before she runs into us." Xander tossed down something when she tried. It crumpled the back of her car. Then he walked off. "Is that the stuff you put over the doorway?" he asked as he followed.

"Yup, sure is. I hope her insurance company doesn't allow the claim. I should find out who they are and have them get the store's security camera footage."

TJ smiled. "I can hear the hold music from her crappy phone. It's Nationwide. We can tip off the local office." Xander smiled at him. They got in, TJ driving, and headed off with a happy beep at her. He spotted a Nationwide office and went in to tell the receptionist about that incident so they could find her claim and that tape since it was apparently her fault. Then he got back in and drove off. "Ask Gunn where a good place is?"

"He thought there was."

"Pity. We can find somewhere better or a designer."

"I'm not used to that and I'm not totally made of money, TJ."

"That's fine. Designers aren't that expensive." He looked at him. "They can even test sit and match things."

"I'm not sure what I want."

"I get that. I have no idea what to do with that expanse of white either." Xander grinned. He spotted a road sign and smiled. "Can you buy more expensive stuff?"

"Yeah. Probably."

"What's our budget?"

"Under sixty thou to furnish the rest of the house and fix that closet."

TJ considered it. "We can live with the closet for a bit."

Xander sighed. "I can put out another few djinn kits or another version of that."

"That would get you more people like that."

"She was mad that the invasion bothered her hair appointment."

"Sure, we'll leave off saving the world so she can get a haircut," TJ said dryly. "I thought DC had shallow people."

Xander shook his head. "They come here then move to Miami." He shifted to look at him better. "Do you want to go to the neighbor's party? We got invited."

"I'm always up for a good party."

"I don't know these people, TJ. Or how they'll act."

"Hmm. We'll...go walking later and maybe meet a few neighbors that way?"

"Maybe," he agreed. "I could like that."

"Do you want pets?"

"I'm not sure I could handle having something needing me all the time."

"That's a good point," TJ decided, pulling into a parking spot. He smiled. "We can handle that furniture thing." Xander smiled back, getting out after TJ did. TJ drew attention, he was famous. A few stared at Xander in horror but most didn't say anything.

"Mr. Hammond," the shop owner said, smiling and shaking his hand. "What can we do for you today?"

"This is my boyfriend and he's just bought a house. He went from three bedrooms and about four thousand square feet to four bedrooms and ten thousand square feet."

"I understand perfectly. Where did you buy, sir?" He blinked at Xander. "Mr. Harris, I met you at a party last year."

"Oh, yeah, where the hunters tried to get in to get that senator." He shook his hand with a smile. "I bought in Calabasas. Just outside an HOA area thankfully. It was awfully white before." He pulled up pictures on his phone. "These are the bare rooms." He let him see it. "The old owner really loved white everything."

"I can see that." He walked them off. "Bedroom first I think."

The boys shared a look then at him. "We have a huge meeting area downstairs and a living room first," Xander said. "I've got a budget for today since I'm looking for a new project house to flip."

"What's your budget for this one?"

"I'm thinking about fifty grand."

"Per room?"

"For the house."

"That's not that unreasonable. What's your usual style like?"

"I've never really been that fashionable guy. I'm a comfy, lounging on the couch, occasionally napping on the couch, cuddling TJ on the couch sort. Eating dinner sometimes too."

"So probably nothing too modern, which is popular but that makes it expensive." He led them to the living room sets. Xander wandered over to one to test sit then another one. "That one does come with an option of a sectional instead, which would be good for the formal living room. Are you bleeding?"

Xander looked at his backside, letting TJ look. "No, it's not on him," TJ said. He pushed on the couch cushion but Xander moved him and looked, letting him see the body in there. "That's nasty. Though I did like the couch."

"We can talk about the options away from that," he said, getting someone over to look then call that in. "There's such a homelessness problem around here."

"I work with people who help them," Xander agreed, following him off. "Gunn's gotten a lot of flack for helping protect them from the vampire menace."

The salesman looked at him. "I didn't even think about that."

Xander nodded. "Gunn's people run a safe shelter and do a lot of good."

"I do like Gunn. He's a smart, good guy," TJ agreed. "I've met do gooders before but he actually walks the walk instead of just throwing money at it. I respect that guy for that alone."

"Huh." The salesman nodded. "Guys like that are rare today."

"Especially in LA," Xander said. "We were somewhere earlier and had to walk away because the invasion had upset someone's hair appointment so she let me know at the top of her lungs."

The salesman winced, shaking his head. "No, on this end of LA we're smarter, practical usually, and not that whiny, Mr. Harris. Even if this is near Rodeo Drive, we're not that shallow here." He led them to another set and Xander test sat then smiled and nodded. "This is great and it comes with a lot of options so we can probably do your big downstairs area with it. What's this room off to the side?"

"TJ's piano room." He smiled at him then at the salesman. "It sounds marvelous in there."

"That's sweet." He smiled at TJ, who grinned back.

"He spoiled me rotten with that one room. Plus he redid the kitchen so it's not a mess of white everything." He let him see the pictures TJ had taken to send to his mother.

"I know that house," he admitted. "I remember that white kitchen."

"Should see the master closet," Xander said, shaking his head with a sigh. "So much white cabinets."

"There's a nice closet organizing service up the road a bit. She can fix that." Xander smiled. "She's real reasonable as well. I know she didn't design that, the old owner did."

"That figures with as much shoe room as they had," Xander quipped. "And no bench to sit on when you put them on." The salesman laughed but nodded, going to get the information on that set of furniture. "Not white?" he asked.

"Definitely not white. Maybe a subtle stripe?" He sat beside him. "This is comfortable. I hope it has a sectional option."

"It does," the salesman said, handing over that packet. "As for fabrics, we can do it in anything in here. That's their company's book." He settled in with them to work on options and what they'd need. Five thousand each for two sectionals, another two thousand each for a few more sitting areas, plus a coffee table or three and a few other options for the bigger area downstairs. It spent all their budget but everything was covered outside that closet. They'd have it in four weeks. They went up the street to the closet place the salesman had recommended. Xander was calling his bank balance to check on them.

TJ looked at him. "Transfer go okay?"

"Yeah, it's fine, but I don't want to go over ten grand."

"That's fine," he agreed. "You should be able to fully redo it for that."

"The last owners spent sixty for that single room. I asked the realtor they listed it through. She bragged."

"That figures." They walked into the closet organizing place and Xander smiled since the young woman was a partial demon. "Hi," TJ said.

"Boys." She smiled, looking at Xander.

"I'm so glad you're not one of the haters I ran into earlier at the other furniture store."

"Even if I was that shallow I'd hate to be that way," she said.

"The nice furniture place back a few blocks suggested you," TJ said with a smile.

"Okay. Are we doing a new closet organizing system?"

Xander pulled up pictures to show her. "Not a single place to sit. Way too much shoe room, a lot of cabinetry."

She stared at it. "Wow. Huge closet, Mr. Harris."

"Yeah, and I'd like it to work for me. It doesn't have a lot of drawers and they're all shallow. It's way too kitcheny for me too."

"I can see that." She looked up at him. "That's not that hard to fix."

"I'd have no idea how to start. Beyond pulling out that center area."

She nodded. "That's a bit awkward," she agreed.

"I was thinking some sort of shelving there and a bench to sit to put on your shoes. There's a lot of cabinet panels that don't do anything beyond matching the rest."

"It's also blindingly white," TJ complained.

"Yes it is. I can definitely come see it to give you ideas." She handed back the phone with a smile. "When's a good time for you?"

Xander shrugged. "As far as I know I don't have a single thing for weeks."

"Not going to the wedding?"

"No. That way I don't have my scent drive someone nuts. I hate that."

"I can understand that." She looked at her book then at him. "I'm free tomorrow at three." He nodded. "What's your address?" He wrote it out for her. "That's a charming area." She smiled. "Some of your closer neighbors are all right but a few on the other end of that area are that same sort of hater."

"We had one yell at him because the invasion upset her hair appointment," TJ said dryly. She burst out giggling, shaking her head. "Yeah."

"It got to the point where I hoped she died from her skin cancer," Xander said with a sigh at the end. "That was mean of me but I couldn't take her and then she tried to hit us with her car."

She nodded. "There's a few like that around here and they tend to have tiny purse dogs but some of the ones that carry them are all right."

"I'll keep that in mind but most of the time I don't hang out with celebrities." He nodded politely at the woman walking in. He looked at her again. "I'd like to keep that closet under ten grand."

"I can probably do a lot for that budget, Mr. Harris. Don't you worry. We'll fix that white lady's closet tomorrow." He smiled and shook her hand, nodding politely at the purse dog lady as he and TJ moved past her. She smiled at her other client. "He had one of the shallow ones yell at him earlier," she said.

"Some of those are dumb," that woman agreed. "Isn't he that guy that was doing the invasion thing?"

"He fought it," she agreed with a smile. "That's Mr. Harris. He does the protection runes around hospitals and occasionally puts out a kit to let one who's lazy summon a genie."

"That's charming."

The designer smiled. "It weeds out a lot of the ones that'd cause huge problems by accident and then demand we fix it for them."

"My son's turning into one of those."

"Xander's kits come out at about twenty thousand on amazon."

"I'll watch my credit card too. So, my closet system?"

"It's all in and I have delivery coming in two days with the workmen to make sure they go up correctly. All you need to do is look it over and sign the papers then pick out hanger colors." She led her into the back, showing her what had come in. It was pretty but practical.

***

Faith showed up and TJ let her in the gate, paying the cab when she got out. The cabbie left again. Faith whistled, looking around. "This is nice."

TJ smiled and nodded. "It's very nice. The fountain out here has a crack he's going to fix this weekend but otherwise we're waiting on things to show up so we have couches." He led her inside. "Xander's out in the work area, let me call." He called his cellphone. "Faith's here."

Xander came in from the backyard a minute later. "Hey, Faith." He punched her on the arm. "Come see the kitchen. It's why I borrowed Gunn's girlfriend since she has good color matching skills."

She followed, whistling again. "This is bigger than the first apartment I lived in." She ran a hand over the pretty island's glass top. "That's beautiful and not too overpowering with the way it's only here." She smiled. "Gunn's girl did good."

"She did." He grinned. "What's up?"

"Gunn heard about the trophy slut. It was caught on the news."

"Did the store hand over the rest of the video?" TJ asked. He got them bottles of water. "You missed lunch," he told Xander.

"I'm trying to talk myself out of putting out a new kit that would probably cause some hell but it'd be funny hell. Remind me I have ethics?"

TJ stared at him. "You do have ethics. If you turn into an evil bastard I have to leave you. Mom said so."

Xander nodded. "I'd never go that evil. Maybe a different type of genie?"

"No, boytoy," Faith said. "That'd be bad. The other sort need sexual payment."

Xander grinned. "They do." TJ shuddered. "Or you can take their place if you don't note that in the wish."

"That'd still be mean, Xander. People that buy those kits don't read the directions."

"I know." He grinned. "There's a whole new group of lazy, stupid ones though."

"Still too evil," TJ said.

"Maybe you should take that evil from him," Faith quipped.

TJ smirked. "It didn't work earlier." She giggled, blushing some. He looked at Xander. "Put out the old one."

"Fine. I can do that. I just need to change some of the directions because they changed some of the summoning rite since they got so busy. They'd still show up but they'd be mad."

"Not something we need," Faith agreed. She looked out back. "I should've brought my bikini."

"You're welcome to come hang out in the pool, Faith."

"Thanks, boytoy." She sipped her water, looking at TJ. "They did release the rest of the video to the tabloid sort and the police when they demanded. One tab tried to edit it, the other one let it out uncensored. That TMZ guy said he'd have hit her."

"I wanted to," Xander said. "But I would've been arrested and been on the same ward as Rosenburg."

"They finally gave her bail and Giles arranged for her to go back to Devon."

"Considering two of them were with her and got arrested too?" TJ asked dryly. "Is that a good idea?"

"Only one he had outside of a burning pile of wood."

"She attacks me again and I'll do some chopping," Xander quipped.

Faith looked at him. "You remember she used to hack?"

"Yup, and the bank knows. So does my investment guy." He grinned. "I made a good decision early on to give myself a trust fund. That way I'm not ever broke enough to strip again."

She patted him on the arm. "You'd make tons, X." He smirked and nodded. "Serial killer there?"

"Master vampire and an alpha were from upstate." She moaned, shaking her head. "I made a lot for that week out of my three months there. I had to sit them down and remind them that they were doing stupid things in public."

"Damn," she said. "Anyone got film? It might help B's uptightness."

"Not that I know of. Besides, I'm always more impressive in person."

"I'm sure you are. Her birthday's coming up."

"I'll hire her a stripper."

"Little D signed her up on dating sites." Xander burst out giggling, leaning on the counter. "Yeah, we thought so too but she got a date out of it. He was kinda normal but in awe of her."

Xander looked at her, grinning. "Are they still dating?"

"Nah. His wife minded."

He grinned. "That's cool. Thank you, Faith. I needed that laugh." He hugged her then went to the fridge. "We have fruit I think." He looked. Then a few things got tossed. "We have peaches and yogurt." He looked at her. "You need to eat."

"I'm good. I gained it all back."

Xander looked her over then shook his head. "You used to have curves that made men stare in awe, Faith. They're tiny, like Buffy's, now."

"Fine, feed me up." She sipped her water, looking at TJ. "You get the same thing?"

"No, a lot of times I'm making him eat." He looked at his boyfriend. "He seems to work a lot."

"We can go have fun tonight," Xander said, smiling at him.

"Someone thought you snubbed everyone by not going to the wedding."

"I got asked not to go to the wedding," Xander said, looking at her. He handed her a plate of fruit and yogurt plus a spoon. "Patrick's successor wrote me a nice letter asking me not to come because whatever scent thing I have going on would upset the mating or drive a young one nuts."

"He's real anti-human anyway," she said.

"Could he shun Xander somehow?" TJ asked. Both of the hunters nodded. "Would that cause you problems?"

"Quite possibly," Xander admitted. "A lot of places I hang out at are community safe. They'd all start getting antsy about me. Plus the grocery store I like is run by a pack." Faith nodded. "The only real reason he could shun me is if I take one of the pack members out. Then I'd have the right to fight it among all the groups."

"He's had to take someone out in the past to protect himself," Faith said. "The packs are getting antsy about all humans again because of that new legislation. One tried to scare me off so I patted him on the head and told him to be a good furry toy somewhere else."

"I've had to cart one home that got out," Xander admitted. "I got some really hate filled looks." She nodded. "Something got said?"

"They said you were a snide, evil shit of a human."

"I saved the young thing from eating a bimbo and being taken out," he said. "I told them where I found him and how he was going to get into a sorority house."

"Yeah, they're still trying, X."

"Then I won't send my present of a special rune set for their nursery." He shrugged.

"They can't reuse it?" TJ asked.

"No. Some of those are based on location," Xander said. "Which way the room's facing and a few other things are taken into account too. If they're in that pack's house and they have one, it'd work for upstairs and downstairs but not if they're in a different house."

"I didn't know that."

"I can deliver it," Faith said.

"I can do that." Xander went to his office, which was off the family room area, and came back with a pretty envelope. "Thanks, Faith."

"Welcome."

"Let me know if they try something?"

"Of course. I wouldn't let you wander into that alone." She finished her snack. "Show me this pool area, guys. That way I know if I need to gussy up before I get here." They smiled, taking her outside to show off the grounds. She nodded because it was pretty. "I definitely need a pretty bikini. I'll be back tomorrow with one." She called a cab and left a few minutes later. She went to the pack house, paying and getting out. She looked at the two guards. "Huge shit I should worry about?" she asked.

"A few alphas meeting, Slayer Faith," one said. "That a problem?"

"Wedding present."

"They're in there," a pack second said from the doorway. "There's complaining."

"Usually," Faith said dryly. She walked in and handed the wife of that set the gift. "From Harris."

She sneered. "He's not one of us."

"No, but he's a vital member of the community," the head alpha said. "How is he doing, Faith?"

"Settling into the new house."

"His wards didn't protect Patrick," the future wife complained shrilly.

"He told everyone during that meeting that no runes would keep the First out," the alpha told her. "Everyone there heard him. Patrick also had the First show up at his house to overhear what we knew about her." She burst out crying. "I'm sorry your brother was there but even real magic users wouldn't have been able to save them."

"The only one we know who survived the Bringers was immortal," Faith said quietly, staring at her. "Xander's the reason that the kids had that safe spot to be at during the battle. Gunn couldn't have done that or gotten in the chaos mages in to help. No one could've protected that house. Don't you think he would've done something if he could've? I mean, he blew a ton of poker debts getting the minis safely out of harm's way to protect them and their families.

"He wouldn't have let the community die." That girl got up to stomp off. Faith looked at the future husband, who was sneering. "Anyway, he offered a special warding for the nursery. He said you can't really reuse them. There's something about location and the like." She shrugged, looking at the head alpha in LA. "Beyond that, he's settled in pretty well. He's got to get some couches but I have pool lounging rights."

The new head alpha smiled at her. "I'm sure it'll be a good point of relaxation for you, Slayer."

"I hope so. B's miserable without a new date."

The young one stomped back in. "I put forth a motion that Xander Harris be shunned from the community," she said, tossing down papers. "He's hurt us."

"Since when?" Faith demanded.

"You're not one of us," she sneered.

"No but I can make your wedding a funeral if you sneer at me again, little whelp," Faith assured her. "Since I'm a guardian of this community and so is he, officially named, you'd better explain yourself really damn fast."

"He brought home one of us, shaming him totally."

"As opposed to letting him be killed for breaking into a sorority?" Xander said from the doorway. He walked in and dropped something in front of the alpha. "Came from New York's community with a hunter." He stared at the little bitch. "He was about to rip up a lot of people. He would've died for that. It may have shamed him but it saved his ass. He had no reason to be changed that far from the pack anyway. That violates local pack rules that Patrick set down and he was still alive then."

"You killed one of us."

"I'll be damned if self protection still isn't a right afforded to people," he shot back.

"You could have submitted," the new head alpha said, smirking at him.

"Why would I have wanted that mangy curr?" Xander said icily. "I didn't want him. I have a boyfriend, he's fantastic. I'm not going to trade up for some deluded, scent addled little bitch who would have whined when I made him my bitch. Because I'm not a beta *anything*. I gave him the mercy because I figured he was scent addled for some reason. That was up to him and I would've forgotten it until he attacked and made it me killing him or me taking him out properly in combat. Which I did." The alpha winced.

"You were there and saw it. Your second-in-command was there too because I knocked him out when he had his friends attack me too. Did you want me to kill him? I could have. I can do it now if you demand it of me." He stared him down. The bitch shrieked and tried to hit him so he ducked and pushed her away. "You're not a pack protector and barely an adult. You don't attack me without me hurting you back," he warned.

"Sit down and learn something." He looked at the pack alpha again and she tried to attack with a knife. He broke her arm and took the dagger, tossing it to Faith. Then he pushed her into a chair and set her arm. "Pups shouldn't whine around adult business," he said firmly, glaring down at her. "You've just proved you're a pup." He backed off. "Anyway, the hunter told me one of the ones that only thinks with only his shotgun and his dick was the one that attacked that pack out east and they have a lot of kids in hiding. He stopped in on the pack leaders in Chicago, Baltimore, and now here. He knew not to come here, whatever scent thing I do he has some of."

The alpha read that letter, grimacing. "We'd be more than happy to accept some of the whelps, Xander. Let him know?" Xander nodded, sending that text message. "Who's the alpha out there?"

"His wife barely survived," he said, looking up. "That's good, he's got three of them headed this way on a train. They're too weak to fly." He sent back a message then another one. "I'm telling Petey at the train station. That way he doesn't freak out like last time at their injuries." He put his phone back to stare at him. "Petey has blood scent issues. It's why he's employed there, so he can sniff drugs and stuff." He shrugged. "Petey's really funny and he uses it to make beer money sometimes."

The alpha shook his head. "That's not a good use."

Xander nodded. "Yeah but he's twenty-three and he's bored. It's that or date."

"I'd rather have him showing off. It makes people feel better and safer with the unmated ones around," the second-in-command said. "Did it break, Hunter?"

"Sure did. I reset the bone. She'll be fine." He nodded. "Bitchy but fine. I'd hate to see what she does to her future kids." He looked at her. "You remind me of Rosenburg's mom but she's a shrink." She started to really cry. He looked at Faith. "Have you met Petey yet?"

"Yeah, I have. Great guy. Swatted me on the ass and grinned at me, said I needed it because no one else appreciated it the right way. I couldn't be mad at that grin of his."

Xander nodded. "He's cute that way."

The head alpha shook his head. "We should not be mingling that way."

Xander stared at him. "That legislation is to protect you. That's the only way they could figure out how to make it so killing one of you was illegal because the right wing nutjobs wouldn't admit you're human under the wolf. The governor even went to the supreme court justice he knew to get his advice on the wording."

"Point I suppose but it does open us up."

Faith shrugged. "Most everyone knows you're like Chinatown. Your own people with your own ways."

"In many ways we are," the alpha said. "Xander, you should not have hurt her."

"She attacked me and I do have the right to protect myself. That sets a very bad precedent. Including going against traditional laws and things like what happened to Rosie." The males all shuddered at that. "I still respect and protect the community but I'm not going to let any alpha dominance or bitch dominance bitching go on. If I hadn't beaten her here I would've done it the next time I saw her. And she probably would've died when someone stepped in to help me."

"Point," he agreed. "Still."

"She attacked me. You saw it too."

"I did," he admitted, staring at her. She was whimpering, giving him pitiful looks. "By the traditional laws, he's in his rights to kill you, Patrice." She burst out crying again.

"I'd never do that. It'd make it harder on the community," Xander said. "Otherwise I would've started by taking out the ones that got scent addled."

"Are you sure that's what it is?" Faith asked.

"It has to be. Oz didn't have it. It's got to be something about my scent that draws unmated ones, vampires, and some higher demons. I can't figure out anything else unless it's the hellmouth taint and I've gotten rid of a bunch of that recently thanks to that traveling holiday I got thanks to Rosenburg."

"Did you really come home with dragons?" the future husband demanded.

Xander smiled. "No, I opened up a portal to there with their permission and they cleansed her magic with their fire. I reappeared in DC. TJ said I was really hot in the leather with a sword." The alpha female stomped in with a sword. He looked at her. "I set the bone I broke when she attacked me." The alpha female attacked him with a scream so he sighed and looked at the alpha as he dodged her. "Well?"

"Leave him be," he ordered. His wife attacked anyway. "Please don't kill her, Hunter."

"I'd never do that. I'm sure you still love your wife." He stared at her and captured the sword the next pass. It cut him but oh well. Then he hit her, knocking her down. Xander looked at his hand and the bloody cut. "Cute poison, sweetie, but I'm immune." He stared down at her. "Have been for years." He handed the sword to Faith. "Be careful of the blade. You're not immune or wearing a protection for it."

She nodded. "I can do that." She sniffed it, grimacing. "What is that?"

"Bug killing stuff that you buy from the furry guys at the farmer's market."

"Oh, that stuff. Gunn said it worked great."

"Now you'll die, uppity human," she sneered.

Xander leaned down. "I'm. Immune. To. That," he said slowly and clearly. "Have been since my mother used to encourage me to lick the ant traps she put down." The woman shrieked and lunged up at him. He backhanded her into a wall, which knocked her out. He looked at the alpha. "I have no idea why she has this idea I was born to money."

"The house," he said dryly. "The ones you've flipped."

"I made my money weeding out the lazy and stupid sort by selling kits on how to summon genies." He smirked. "My parents, a lot like that one pup Darrien that you guys took in last year. I'm the same Harris I was in Sunnydale, guys." One of them gasped, backing up shaking his head. He looked at him. "Yeah, I'm that guy. I don't know why you guys didn't hear that. Everyone else knew. Buffy's lucky I talk to her at all these days."

Faith coughed. "Angel was a bitch anyway."

"Yeah but I don't speak ill of the dead, they might come haunt me and then I'd never get sex because King Angst was staring at TJ in pitiful mooning."

Faith nodded. "Could be." She frowned, looking at him. "I heard something about Queen C?"

"She died from the visions and now she's the messenger for the Powers That Be. Like that Whistler guy that visited you guys I heard."

"That sucks. Do your visions do that?"

"No." The others gasped, staring at him. He shrugged. "I do have visions, yes. They suck ass." He looked at her. "I've only had a few that gave me migraines. Much less the brain changes she had."

"Are you sure? You can ignore a lot of pain, X." She stared at him. "Don't think I won't tell TJ you broke your ankle earlier that day you were shopping."

"He found that out later and nagged as he wrapped it for me." He grinned. "He can fuss, I let him."

She rolled her eyes. "So as bad as hers were?"

"No. Not even half the strength. I doubt it's the Powers That Be that send them to me, Faith. After all, I'm the guy that did CPR to call you."

"She said Fang did that."

"I pulled Angel from his hideyhole to go save her at crosspoint," he said dryly. "Then he said he doesn't breathe so he can't do that." Faith snorted, shaking her head. "I let her believe it. I may've been grossed out by them being together, because eww, but she wasn't listening to anyone's council back then anyway. Including Giles."

"Slayers are not meant to date vampires," Faith said firmly, shaking her head. "Others, yeah. Vampires? No. It'd be like you guys dating rabbits," she said at one odd look she was getting. "We're meant to fight the menace among them not screw them into being better bad boys."

"Just think, the prophecy about the slayer that will end the line requires her to have broken all natural laws," Xander said dryly. "Including not being a virgin slayer."

She stared at him. "Where did you see this?"

"Book I bought off the Council a few years back. Yeah, Buffy changed it for good."

"Great! Tweedy seen it?"

"Nope."

"Can I?"

"It's at home."

"I'll get it tomorrow." She rolled her eyes. "Do I have one?"

"A codex? Yes. Is it horrifically wrong? You sure bet it is. They had you being a virgin slayer that was scared off men by your watcher and the reason you die is because evil ones use that against you by bedding you." She burst out laughing, shaking her head. "Yeah. It's *so* wrong. Whoever that seer was had a really low percentage of being right. The one who did Buffy's was earlier." He shrugged. "The next one called, Kennedy, is a huge cunt by the way. Rich girl, raised by her daddy in isolation at the insistence of the Council, he's had her eggs frozen so he can have a proper kid when she dies." Faith stared at him. "Snobby, shallow New York princess from a financing house." She rolled her eyes. He held up a hand with a grin. "She believes in shopping for apocalypse battles too. She went on a training hunt and brought her purse dog, which died." She shook with laughs, walking off. "Yeah."

"I know of her," the second-in-command said. "Her father's people give loans to the community out there."

Xander nodded. "Yeah, that family." He grinned. "She's the next slayer called if Faith falls."

"We like Faith," the alpha said, clapping his hands. "Xander, we would rather not have you need to worry about your scent, or whatever, most of the time."

"I only show up when I'm wanted or needed," he said dryly. "Though I do go to safe clubs. It's safer." He looked at the second-in-command. "TJ's mom is mildly worried so I'm putting out a few new kits with the new genie summoning set. The old ones got changed when they got mad about how many got summoned. TJ insisted that I not send out the kits to the other sort of djinn that would take you as a sex toy for payment. He said I'd be too evil then." He grinned. "Though, next year's apocalypse? I'm putting out a kit."

"Can we know sooner?" he asked.

"Yeah. Stop your brother from summoning whatever it is."

"My...Philip?" Xander nodded with a grin. "Fuck. I'm going to have something bite that brat so he can't change but has to stop it."

"I wasn't sure if he was looking up to Ethan Rayne," Xander said dryly. "He seems to like chaos magic and they tend to do some things by accident. That's why he had to move back home again. The spell to summon a spirit teacher blew up when he put too much power behind it."

"Thank you for that warning, Xander. How is the new closet?"

"It's not white!" he said happily. He pulled out pictures. "That's the old closet." The guy shuddered. "It was so kitcheny and cabinety. We took out the center portion last night and she's coming tomorrow to put in stuff we'd like better." He showed him the suggestion she had done.

"That's pretty."

Xander grinned. "Very and useful. The last owner had a thing about white everything. Walls, floors, everything." He showed him the before picture of the kitchen. "That was the before I fixed it." The guy winced. Xander found the other one. "That's the after."

"Much prettier and nice, subtle colors."

"TJ picked out the couches."

"That's nice, he has good taste."

"Of course he does, he picked me," Xander quipped. "Let me go be giddy at home with him. His mom wants him back in DC tomorrow." They waved and he left.

"Get that cut looked at," someone yelled after him.

"I'm immune to bug killers," he yelled back.

"I'm going to tell your mate, Xander."

"Fine, Miss Nag."

"Thank you. We'd hate to miss you, dear." She came down the stairs, looking at the alphas. "Leave the poor boy alone," she ordered. "He has it hard enough without all that bullshit you gave him. Patrick would've been ashamed." Since she had been Patrick's wife, she'd know. She pulled up that video on TMZ, letting the alpha wince through it. "I heard he wished her a death by her skin cancer." She walked off.

"I would've done that same thing, or put her out of her hair dresser's misery," the second-in-command said. The future husband nodded. "Xander's very strong. He's also very mean when he has to be. Xander also usually carries something with silver since it's a common demon fighting need." He gave his alpha a pointed look. "Xander has protected this whole community more than once. It was him that stepped in front of that nursery we used to use to protect the pups inside from those bigots." He walked off.

"I had not heard anything about that." He called his new contacts to see about that. They all told him many stories that no one else heard about Xander. No, he was safe from him.

***

TJ looked up as Xander walked in from the garage, seeing the bandage on his hand. "Did the car bite you?" he asked.

"No, the sword the demented pup bitch used did. Thankfully I'm immune to the bug killer she put on it first." He took a kiss. "It's just three stitches. Let me go change?"

"Sure, go change. Are we staying in tonight?"

"I can make sandwiches then we can go somewhere." Xander smiled. "I'm down for that."

"Good. Go change, get naughty." Xander smirked, strolling off to do that. TJ watched his ass and wondered what sort of pup bitch it had been. Sometimes it seemed like Xander lived by a lot of different rules than the rest of humanity lived by. "What pup bitch was it?"

"The one getting married soon that we don't have to worry about attending," Xander said, coming back checking his wallet and putting it back into his pocket. TJ was staring at the leather pants. "Not good? Faith got me to buy them."

"Not bad. Not tight." He shrugged. "It'll work to tease people with. Have you called some guy named Jim? I found a message on the machine."

"I did. He's disputing that I have a trust account when I know I do. I talked to Jim's boss and Jim's boss found it very easily and fired Jim for being a dick because he hates the demon community and us hunters."

"Are you okay with that?"

"It's still there. I'm going to visit them tomorrow after I drop you at the airport."

"I can take a cab."

"Dear, that'll be during morning rush hour. You won't get a cab unless you leave about six in the morning. Plus it's really expensive to get to the airport from here since it's nearly on the other side of the city."

"I didn't think about that. Sure, I'd love a ride." He took a kiss, letting Xander make them sandwiches. Then they went out to club, get loose, have fun teasing, and Xander made a few girls pant badly enough to try to take them. It was fun. It was necessary to blow off stress too. The kidnapings Xander got fixed before TJ got pissed off or endangered so it was okay until he could talk to his boyfriend about doing things like that.

***

TJ walked into his mother's office late the day he left LA, it took nearly forever to fly across the country, taking off his sunglasses with a smile. She stared at him. "I'm back, as asked for."

"Your grandmother wanted to find you. She thinks you're looking bad on us again."

"Was she drinking draino instead of wine?" he asked dryly.

"Not yet. She might if you keep seeing Xander." She got up to hug him and kiss him on the cheek. "If you're settling in, then I'm all for that." She stared into his eyes. "You could use the happiness he gives you, son. I'm proud you found someone who's mostly sane. Plus he doesn't want to hide it."

He grinned. "He drives me nuts. He came home last night with a bandage on his hand saying it was some pup bitch who had a sword she had laced with bug killers but he was immune." His mother moaned, shaking her head. "I like the guy. I really like Xander. I'm not going to lie and he said if you got down on him because of the politics he'd understand but pout a lot until I snuck out to have fun with him."

"Is your name on the new house?"

"No. I made sure. I'm not ready to buy a house yet, Mom. He's not ready for a pet either. Though he did make me a *grand* music room to play in. The acoustics are so great."

She smiled. "That's good. Anything I should hear about? Your grandmother got onto this when you two were spotted going to a hospital together. She thought you were doing bloodwork for serious reasons."

"He'd had a shitty day and talked me into going to volunteer at a NICU unit to get pity cuddles as he put it. It was...I felt really weird and warm and loving and I hate kids."

She smiled. "I've felt that before too, and I still hate kids." She sat back down. "We're having dinner at home tonight." He nodded. "No bags?"

"I didn't bring any out. I showed up because he looked miserable and I didn't want to visit him in the hospital." She stared at him. "In three weeks, he lost a former girlfriend, a few community members he was friends with, and then the huge battle."

"No wonder he made a wish so everyone would leave him alone," she said dryly.

"I thought it was brilliant." He grinned. "Let me go home and I'll show up at seven?"

"Seven's good." He nodded and left, putting back on his sunglasses as he walked. She smiled at his back. It was good he was happy, even if his boyfriend did drive him insane. That was almost a mark of love in their family.

***

TJ had been forced to a speech in a park, mostly to look like he supported his family, but he was bored senseless. He was about to sneak off when he spotted a flash of light blinking. He tipped his head to make it look like he was stretching his neck. Then the flashing got brighter. "Mom, move," he shouted, getting her out of the way. He pointed for the Secret Service guards. They stared and one went to investigate while they hustled his mother off. One of the guards actually stopped him from moving. "I'm dating a hunter, I don't know how to do anything," he complained.

"Still, sir, you know who to call. Please?"

"Yeah, that I'm about to do." He called Xander's phone, getting Buffy of all people. "Crap, I need Xander, Buffy. It is TJ and something that looks a lot like a portal forming in DC by a park my mother was speaking at." He looked around. "CNN's here. Guys, the hunter I'm calling needs decent pictures of the portal," he yelled, pointing at a reporter. "They're in LA." They rushed the camera crew over since the guards couldn't stop them for that reason.

"There's a battle there," someone shouted back. "I can see it. Looks human-on-human."

TJ repeated that. "Yeah, clearly magical if that's another realm, Buffy. Thanks." He hung up. "Xander's coming. Give him a minute to put on a t-shirt. He was in the gym sparring with Gunn."

"Thank you, Mr. Hammond. Please get to safety?"

"I'm safe enough here. It's not... it doesn't feel like when Xander reappeared in the leather."

"That's good." He was getting an odd look.

Xander appeared with a few witches, Buffy, and Connor. He studied the portal, shaking his head. "This isn't our form of magic and it's open," he announced. "Get out of the way. Move the cameras. Those aren't our sort of demons." The camera crew got moved by the guards. He looked at Buffy and Connor, who nodded back they could handle it. "All right. Buffy, those ones are higher and lower demons. The humans don't have black eyes. The bad guys do. Because I've seen this on a tv show." He looked at Connor, who had introduced it to him.

He looked. "That is that show with the hunters. I'll be damned. That's an angel-on-demon war with humans trapped."

Buffy nodded. "Can we stop the demons?"

"We need to stop both sides," Connor said. "And save the humans."

She nodded. "Will the scythe work?" She held it up. She had been sharpening it while watching the guys sparring.

"Yup, it sure will," Xander said. He pulled out his sword, letting Connor get his from the bag. "Guys, we need heavier weapons. That realm's in full on demon war decay," he noted. "It's off that show with the hunters if anyone watches it." A few of the people there nodded. "Good, let's see if we can keep them from giving ours an idea." He looked at his people and they nodded, stepping through.

"LA Protection Team and Slayers on site, people. Back the fuck down!" Connor bellowed.

One of the hunters stared. "You're a tv show!"

"You are to us too," Xander quipped. "But your portal just opened into our DC. Want some help?" They nodded. "Buffy, see the blondish guy?" he said with a point. "Bad guy on the Light. Bad guy on the Dark," he said with another point. "They're possessed." She nodded, diving in to help the hunters. Connor followed. Xander stepped back through. "Artillery, now please." They got some from a military unit showing up to help. "Great. Come help, guys. Because if we don't solve what started the portal soon, it's merging us. Then we'll all be stuck in the middle of an end times battle." They rushed over to help. Xander grunted as he picked up an artillery case and came over to blow up the altar stones.

"Dude, if you do that, my brother's trapped," one shouted.

Xander looked at him. "I'm a protection rune user, Dean. I'm also owed enough favors to end this shit here and now." Dean blinked at him. "Blow the section behind the altar," he called. "Not the altar itself. We need it to summon." The military guys nodded. "Get anyone with black eyes, anyone who's sneering about God's laws too. Theirs decided to take out humanity because their God's taking a long vacation." They nodded and a few said prayers but dove in harder. Xander killed a few on his way up to the altar with Dean. He drew on it with their combined blood.

"Buffy, need some blood," he yelled. She huffed but wiped her outer t-shirt on her cuts then tossed it at him. "That'll do." He squeezed a few drops out. "Or not." She ran up to drip more on it then back into the battle. The altar smoked up and when it cleared a body was laying on it naked. Xander tested him then started CPR. He used the blood to draw on him, protecting him while Dean was doing chest compressions. Sam gasped and sat up. Xander finished the last two marks and the angels all screamed in pain as they held their heads. The demons stared at them. Xander smirked and waved. "Hi, guys. Now, Buffy." She hit the spell to summon the other slayers to her.

"Wow," Dean said, staring at the girls. "Why..."

"Slayers," Xander said with a grin. "Lots of help sometimes." He handed Sam his t-shirt. "Here. Not quite long enough but it'll help. Let me go help the ladies." Xander got back into the fray, killing a few more demons. One tried to stab him and barely cut his side but his blood made the demons around him stop and sniff. "What?" he demanded. "I know I smell tasty." They lunged at him for whole other reasons. "It's going on again," he complained, beating them off him. Buffy and Faith put him behind them. "Sorry, let's see what we can do to split the realms again."

"We can't fully," one of the witches called.

"Leaving Xander here isn't an option," Faith yelled. She stabbed another demon.

"Not a good idea anyway," another witch called. "No, we can do it. Xander, it has a keystone!"

He jogged back to look and used his sword to chip at one mark until it broke off. The portal started to suck and whistle. "Ladies, fall back!" he shouted. "Let's go!"

The slayers fell back to the portal. The hunters came with them because they were working together. Sam and Dean joined back into the fight, even though Sam still looked a bit loopy. Then the portal sucked all the ones from their realm through, plus Sam and Dean. And one higher level demon. Buffy pushed her sweaty hair back, staring at him. "You cause the slayers one bit of problem and I'll kill your butt so hard you're gonna wish to be angelic again," she warned.

He held up a hand. "I have no intention of that."

Xander smirked. "Try it, Demon." The demon stared at him then took a sniff and moaned. Xander took a dagger from one of the girl's hair bun and a sharpie from TJ, drawing on the blade. He did his sword too. He tossed the sharpie to Faith and moved forward. "C'mon. You want me, prove yourself better." The demon lunged at him and Xander fought him off with both weapons. He finally killed the demon, making him shriek as he blew up in flames. "No, you lost. All of you." He blew on the ashes. The portal snapped but Xander held up a hand. "The portal will be a proto-portal for a few weeks. We can get the hunters home in a few days hopefully. If not, in a year's time we can open another portal on the Cleveland hellmouth. There's a way. Trevor DeLarant produced a paper last month."

One of the witches bit her lip but nodded. "We saw that but is that possible? It takes a mage," she said.

"Which we know a few of," Xander said dryly. "I'm not sure if they'd do it without cost but I can ask. So can others like Rupert." The witches lit up and nodded. "Okay. Let's get cleaned up. Thank you, ladies." They all nodded and came over to talk to the witches about getting home. Xander popped his neck, smiling at TJ. "I'm okay."

"You're bleeding. That's not okay."

"It's a small one, TJ. Nothing like a chest wound. I just need some bandages." He leaned over to take a kiss with a smile. "That way I don't drip sweat on you. It'd stain that shirt." TJ smirked at him but walked him off to the paramedics. "Guys, I'm fine. Just need a bandage. Buffy has a few more than I do."

"It's mean to nark on me," Buffy yelled after him. "C'mon, guys. Let's get you guys treated and maybe Sam some pants." She tipped her head to look. Sam hid behind Dean blushing hard. She smiled. "It's all right. You're cute. We appreciate cute guys." She walked them over to the ambulance with her girls. A few more witches appeared. "We need to send these two home."

"I don't think that's possible," one sneered at her. "You know nothing of magic, Buffy."

"Trevor DeLarant said it was," Xander called. "And I do know magic, thanks." He stared at her.

"That would take a lot of magic and unfortunately we don't have the heft of Rosenburg."

"No, but we have a cleaner hellmouth we can use," Xander said dryly. "That's if we can't reopen this one before it fully snaps shut." The witches huffed off.

Dean looked at Xander. "It'll be okay. We're used to weird things." Sam took the scrub pants one of the paramedics handed him with a tired smile.

Xander grinned. "Me too." The portal fluxed and nearly made it open. Dean and Sam ran back over there when they saw someone trying to come through. The angels trying to force Castiel quit trying and they had left some of the military weapons so the hunters had taken a bunch of the idiots with plans out. The boys dived back into the battle to finish it off.

Buffy sighed. "I need a boyfriend like them. Even if they weren't as cute but that tough is nice." The other slayers nodded.

"I met a few warriors but they're in that realm Rosenburg sent me to," Xander said dryly. "If we can find that stupid bridge again by accident you can go to Asgard to find one."

"The guard guy was scowly but built," she said. She smiled at the slayers. "Dawn accidentally found a piece of the Bifrost Bridge to Asgard when she was being chased by something before we had to leave Sunnydale." A few of the girls groaned and shook their heads. "Way hottie warriors are a way of life there so they might understand us pretty well. We need to find it again and set up relations."

Xander shrugged. "Don't ask me to be a spokesbeing. They might flirt."

"Then we'd wonder why they were kinda evil, Xander," Buffy chirped. He pointed at TJ with a smug look. "Yeah, we're still trying to figure out if he'll go evil some day." TJ glared at her. She grinned. "Most of his ex's have been kinda mean and evil. You met Cordy I'm sure."

"A few times," he said dryly. "I'm that sort of mean but not evil this week. You?" She huffed but smirked back. He looked Xander's chest over then into his eyes. "If you bring more hunters here, can they take your place in battles?"

"Maybe. Probably not totally though."

"That's what I thought you'd say." He stared at him. "You're hot with a sword, but I cringe each time I see you using it, Xander."

"I know. I've slowed down some in the last few years. I'm not the young thing I was. Age is really starting to catch up to me."

"That's fine, but if you get really disfigured I'm finding you a really good plastic surgeon to fix it."

"I could like that. I've learned vanity somewhere." He took another kiss. "I'm okay. Calm down. Go diva later when I have to find a way home."

TJ looked. The witches were gone and so were all the slayers. Only Xander and Connor were there. He sighed. "You can bum my couch, Connor. You can both use a shower too. Are they good to go?" he asked the paramedics.

"Certainly, sir. No direct washing of the stitches."

"We know," Connor said with a nod. "We've had plenty. Demon hunting is like that." Xander nodded he agreed. "C'mon. Let's get pretty so TJ doesn't take your princess spot, Xander."

"Hey," he complained but he was grinning. "I didn't inherit Cordy's tiara."

"Don't remind me. I look funny in it." They walked off with TJ guiding them to his car. "Will we get in trouble?" he asked quietly.

"No," Xander said. "Sorry, guys. Just another wacky magical thing that led to another wacky day in hunting. It happens. Especially around the LA team. It's being in LA," he told one of the reporters staring at him. "Apparently shallow is contagious." He climbed into the back of TJ's sportscar in the small bag space. Connor wouldn't be able to fit back there.

"Only a few blocks," he promised, driving off. He waved at his mother as they drove past her. "She said you looked hot the last time you showed up in the leather, Xander."

"Thanks. I try sometimes."

Connor shook his head. "I don't but I still look cute at least."

"You look really hot," TJ promised with a grin. "But we know you're straight, Connor."

"Thanks. Though I'm more confused about girls than anything. It was easier on the demon realm I got raised on."

Xander patted him. "Women are naturally confusing. It's their diversion and camouflage."

"That makes more sense. I thought the makeup and stuff was camo but the confusion does work better." TJ was trying not to smile. "Don't they?"

"Depends on the girl," he admitted. "Some are worse than others." Connor nodded he understood that. TJ parked in his spot and got them up to his loft apartment, letting them work out who got first shower and all that. He had workout stuff that would fit Connor and Xander so it was easier. They'd figure out to get them home sometime later, after they had rested from the battle.

***
Part 5 by Voracity2
TJ looked up from making dinner when Xander wandered over. "My brother said at least you're hot."

"I am smokin'," he said, taking a real kiss then smiled at him. "Your brother wouldn't know specialness if he spotted it because he never saw how special you are."

"I'm not."

"You are. You get me, that makes you special." He took another kiss. "Can I help make dinner?"

"It's nearly done. I'm just working on the vegetables for the grilled vegetable salad. I started when I heard you stop snoring." Xander smiled, nuzzling his neck. "Hmm, that's nice. Is Connor going to go 'ick' and run for the shower again?"

"Maybe. I'm pretty sure some day soon his hormones are going to pop up and go 'we only played, you're very sexual, just repressed'." TJ smothered a laugh but let Xander cuddle while he finished scorching the vegetables in the proper manner. Then he chopped them up a bit and put them onto plates. Connor came over scowling at him. "They will."

"They tried that. I don't let mine take over my life."

"Of course not but if you let them out to play you might find something beyond hunting." He hugged him. "I'm introducing you to the lady at the bookstore that Wesley said he was going to introduce you to."

"Everyone who's said that has died. I'll hate to miss you," Connor complained.

Xander smirked at him. "I'm not dying anytime soon, Connor. Only the good die young and I'm not exactly a paragon of virtue." He carried out plates for TJ. TJ pulled out the meat to let it rest while they settled in to eat that first course. Then they dug into the small loin. It was good. Connor moaned like it was sexual it was so good. It was good Connor at least loved something besides his weapons.

***

Connor came out of the airport, smiling and hugging Gunn. "You showed up to drive us home?"

"I had someone drive Harris' car over. Sorry, man, but you're in the wrong direction."

"Sure, I get that. Means I don't have to make dinner for everyone." He yawned. "Happy trip, guys. I've got half the city to drive." Gunn handed him the keys and ticket for short term parking. "Cool. Thanks, Gunn." He punched him on the arm and hiked off. He hoped his sunglasses were in the car. Otherwise he'd squint himself into a nap. Since there was no one he could call to come drive him... yeah, he'd have to fight off the nap he needed. The parking officer gave him a dirty look when he walked past yawning. "I know."

"Sir, you shouldn't be driving if you're that tired," the officer said firmly. "Driving while sleepy is nearly as bad as driving drunk and they can ticket you about that."

Xander looked at him. "Unfortunately I live in Calabasas." The officer winced. "I'll hit every single Starbucks on the way but I don't have someone who can drive me home safely. Or else I would."

"You could get a cheap hotel room for the night. There's a few cheap motels near the airport."

"Nothing around here is cheap but if I can't make it, I'll find one downtown. They're a bit cheaper on the outer edges, which is near my usual route. Thanks. I'll be okay." The officer was still scowling. "I've had to deal with battles while this tired. I can drive for an hour."

"At this time of day, it's closer to two, sir."

Xander paused to stare at him. "If I have to, I'll stop in West Hollywood. Thank you for worrying." The officer nodded and walked off. Xander found his car and got in, sighing as he found his sunglasses. He slid into them and started the car then put on his seatbelt.

Then something hit the parking garage hard enough to shake it.

Xander got out to look around, seeing a furry bellybutton. "Oh, charming." He looked back at the staring officer. "Is it eating things or people? Or is it trying to tear things down?" he called.

"Sir, do you know hunters?"

"I am a hunter." He closed his car door, pocketing his keys and walking over to look up next to the furry body. "Hey!" he shouted. "What the hell are you doing? Couldn't you wait twenty minutes for me to leave?" he demanded.

The demon blinked down at him. "I'm getting away from the dragons we have."

"The last time we had dragons I let a pair of ancient ones through a portal to straighten out Rosenburg. Has it been since then?"

The demon blinked at him. "Harris?"

"Just back from DC. Do we have more dragons?"

"My brother said they were chasing me."

"Let me come up to the roof," he sighed. He walked off, taking the officer with him. "Show me up there the easy way?"

"Elevator," he said with a point. Xander nodded, taking him with him. "Sir, I have kids."

"There won't be a fight," Xander said. "If there is, you can sound the alarm as you run to take shelter outside this freestanding building." The officer nodded, staying near the elevator. Xander walked over, looking around. "Where's the dragon?" he asked.

The demon pointed. "That's one there."

Xander squinted up at them. "That's a portal, yeah." He sighed and whistled, bringing a baby dragon. "Are you the only one?" he asked. It cried pitifully so he cuddled it. "It's a baby. Is your parent around? You're still pretty young too." The demon let out a peculiar sounding bellow. His big brother showed up. "It's a baby, I need an elder," Xander yelled. "Get your mom for me."

"Human," the older brother sneered.

Xander stared at him. "Don't make me tell your mom I shot you too." The brother huffed but headed off, coming back with his father. "Daknar." He waved. The adult landed beside his younger son. "We have a baby dragon that came through. Your younger one was worried it'd come for him thanks to some brotherly teasing."

The demon sniffed it. "That is a baby. I can fly and look at the portal. Show me, boys." The younger one flew up with him, pointing out the portal. "Hmm. That's still open." He flew back. "Let me hand over the baby, Harris."

"Please. Him being here would get him hurt by the same stupid ones that try to break into my house." He handed him over carefully. "There you go, baby. It'll be okay. He'll get you home."

"I will not harm you, infant. You're safe with me." He carried him up to the portal, handing him over to the warrior. "This one came through and scared my sons."

"Thank you. She is precious to us," the dragon said. He took the young one to sniff. "A human?"

"Harris." He pointed. "He works with the community to keep everyone safe."

"That is good of him. As far as I know this was the only one that came through because she was curious. We have no idea why the portal opened."

"It smells of magic." He flew down and came back with Xander riding on his shoulder. "Can you tell the magic?"

Xander touched it and nodded. "That's the coven. I can tell them nearly anywhere. The uptight bitch brigade," he told the dragon. "I'm glad he could get home to you. There's some truly stupid humans around here."

The dragon smiled. "She, human, but thank you for protecting her."

"She's young, innocent, and will hopefully do great things when she's old enough. She's peaceful and an infant so needs protected." He listened. "That's a weapon. Move." They moved and the dragon pulled away from the edge. Xander threw something at the portal and it shut. "Sorry," he called as he threw it. He patted the shoulder he was on. "Let me go yell at them." The demon landed him and flew off with his boys. Xander blocked the hunter from trying to hit them with another weapon by punching the idiot. "They're peaceful and helpful. They were helping since a portal opened up there and discharged a baby dragon." The hunter sneered, trying to shoot him but the officer pounced him. "Thanks." He pushed back his hair. "It's been a long day." He picked up the weapon to disarm, handing it over.

"Harris!" someone bellowed and Xander turned in time to move the officer away from the gunshot.

"Okay, I've had enough," he decided. He looked back. "I'm exhausted, I'm heading home, and if you don't like it, fuck yourself," he yelled back. "Preferably right up your nose since you're a dickhead already."

"Sir, please don't make me arrest you too," the officer said. That hunter got arrested by the backup he had called in.

Xander looked at him. "I'd never get a nap if you did that." He walked off shaking his head. Of course, one of the hunters had taken a sledgehammer to his car. He sighed. "Fuck it, I'm going to take a nap before I turn evil. Because I'm going to destroy a whole lot of people if I go evil and we can't afford to lose any hunters." He walked off. One tried to grab him but he stabbed the guy and walked over him. "Found one you guys missed," he said as he walked past the officers. "They can pay for my car they broke too."

"Sir," an officer started.

Xander stopped to stare at him. "I'm going to get a motel room and a nap before I turn evil, take over the city at the very least, and kill every single stupid hunter that the city holds. I'll leave the non-dumb ones but there's going to be a mass murder soon. Which do you want to deal with?"

"Please get a nap, sir. Which car is yours?"

"They took a sledgehammer to it," he said dryly. "Ask the guy on the roof. He was nagging me about needing a nap too." He walked off shaking his head. One of the motels around the airport had a shuttle and cheaper rooms.

***

Xander walked into a diner late that night, staring at the only hunter that had noticed him.

"Harris didn't do a thing about those demons," one of the stupid ones complained.

"Why would I? They're peaceful, helpful beings who only like to fly around," Xander said dryly, staring at him. "If you have a problem with me, you take it out on me in person. Don't hit my car. Don't try to hit my house. Don't try to shoot me from across a rooftop. Though I'm sure the LAPD love you guys for that." The hunter sneered and pulled a gun. "C'mon if you're coming," he encouraged. The guy shot at him and the bullet was stopped. Xander shrugged and stared at him. "Are you done being stupid?"

"We burned that new house of yours," another sneered.

"You burned my neighbor and I'm pretty sure someone wants to talk to you about that too."

"You'd kill us?" another demanded.

"Only the stupid ones. Unfortunately it seems to be epidemic again. How stupid are you!" he shouted at one. "You shot at the LAPD, one of the most brutally violent police departments in the nation. Are you seriously brain dead? If not, are you sure it's not coming? Their SWAT teams are some of the best in the country. You're damn lucky you've made it this long. As for those demons? Yes, they fly. Ooooh, so damn evil for being able to fly," he sneered. "They also helped since that portal opened thanks to the coven and spilled out a baby dragon. Did you want to fight that war too?" The hunter took a swing at him and Xander hit him back. "Sorry, I still need sleep. I'm still a bit evil." He kicked the guy around until he was begging for air and mercy. Xander sneered down at him. "Ya think you wanna keep doing that? Because I doubt it." He looked at the others. "The rest of you wanna be that stupid?" They all stared. He looked behind him. "Detective." He was wearing a badge around his neck on a lanyard, it showed what he was.

"Mr. Harris. We followed you."

Xander shrugged. "I don't give a damn."

"We can arrest you for beating him."

"Great. I could use the nap and meditation time." The detective huffed. "You want them, you have most of them. I'm pretty sure six of them in here had nothing to do with anything. They have brains they use. Even Cordelia thought they had sense."

"Where is your bitch anyway?" one sneered.

"The visions killed her," Xander said bluntly. "And if you say another word about Cordy I'll make sure you never say a word again." He stared at the guy until he put his hands up and backed off. "Now," he said with a clap and slight smirk. "I'm going to find a way home. Whoever burned out my neighbors, you have fun with this detective. Whoever shot at officers at LAX earlier, you guys have fun too. The rest of you, the smart ones, have a pretty night. I'm going to eat and have the rest of the sleep I need before I fully turn evil and start taking over." He walked off. The detective let him go. "If you want to arrest me for beating him, give me a few hours to nap please."

"He wasn't in custody and as long as he doesn't press charges, I don't care," the detective said. He motioned and SWAT officers came in. One of the officers was nice enough to get a cab for Xander when he started to call one. The detective looked at them. "I'm Detective Carmichals. We in the LAPD are really tired of the hunters acting up. Between all the ones trying Harris' old home and vault and the ones that tried in the last three days? I'm not sure even if the ones that have brains and sense are going to make it out of here."

"Some of us had nothing to do with that," the older hunter in the corner said. "I just showed up to see who was complaining about what this time. Some of us are smart enough to respect Harris and his ways. He's protected a lot of problems from coming for us by putting them in his vault instead." The detective smirked at him. "Some of us helped with the first. That one on the floor and his two cousins," he said, pointing at them. "Didn't. They ran from it."

"Hey!" one complained and tried to throw a knife at the older hunter. The detective had him knocked down before he could release the throw. "Ow."

"Good." He looked at the old hunter. "You have a great night. Any other stupid ones, send them to New York. They have more patience out there. We have to deal with airheads too often to have real patience."

"Most of them are in the midwest so feel sorry for St. Louis this week," he admitted. He got up and left. A few more followed him. One got arrested by the officers out there.

"You were in on the assault on the car in the parking garage," the officer said. "I doubt his insurance people will like that."

"Not with the way his last car got crushed by Rosenburg," the old guy quipped, heading for his pickup truck. He looked at the other hunters. "Peter?"

"He's got toast and coffee, he's going to sit there and enjoy it," that one said with a smile. "You know what he's like."

"Yup. Pity. Anyone breach the boy's gates?"

"One climbed over from a neighbor's house and managed to tag something with paint but police were there within minutes. His alarm system is good and the idjit was in the process of fighting off tentacles when they got there. Boy's already slightly evil sometimes."

"I don't blame him. Were the tentacles going to eat him?"

"No clue and I don't want to know honestly. Unlike Peter, I don't like seeing people in pain and misery." He got into his car and drove off. The old guy got into his truck and laughed until he could drive. The others could suffer for being idiots. Though he would share about the tentacles with Gunn in case someone there had to get in suddenly and the boy hadn't turned the system off yet.

***

Detective Carmichals showed up the next afternoon, looking around until Xander opened the door looking confused. "Mr. Harris, the LAPD is very worried about your vault."

"I've got it guarded heavily again. No one can break into it. The only way in is being me or being with me. I have beyond lethal measures again."

"Like that gas and the fish Agent Toliver mentioned?"

"I have some of that done too." He grinned. "It's really just an old fashioned library."

"Is there a way I can look, sir? That way they quit being anxious? They might even be able to talk to those hunters so they leave you alone."

"They hate me because I walked away from being a hunter with Buffy. Then Willow added onto it by calling me a traitor and other charming things."

"Still, maybe we can talk them out of their stupidity on their way to prison." Xander grinned. "Please? I can get a warrant."

"I can show you but no pictures." Detective Carmichal nodded, pulling off his body camera to put in his pocket. "It's out back in the guest house." He led him through the living room to the pool area.

"This is nice."

"Thank you. I've got a great water recycling system so I lose less than five gallons a day and it recycles into the watering system too." He smiled. "It works on water catchment system as well." He led him to the entry and held up a hand. "The pass is inside."

"You put it inside?"

"That way no one can break in and grab it. Only I can get in here without consequences." He walked in and came back a minute later. "Wrist." He held up his wrist for Xander to put the small bracelet on it. "Okay. You can come in." He led the way in. "The fish and gas system is in that outer area." He grinned. "It's very effective."

"I saw that when they broke in. The ME had laughing fit about the fish." He looked around the bigger open area. It had shelves everywhere and a work table. "Is this a work area or the other stuff?"

"Work area." He looked at him. "The bracelet won't get you into the actual vault but it'll let you near the doorway so you can look in. The system won't let anyone into the vault but me. It's got biometrics and other, more mystical, methods of telling me so even if I end up with more warped DNA it'll be fine." He led him over to the vault door, opening it by putting his hand on the door. It swung open and Xander let the detective see inside. "This is the least dangerous stuff. The extremely dangerous stuff is so hidden that even if you're standing near it you can't find it."

"Will you be putting whatever spouse you end up with in the system?"

"No, that'd be dangerous for them. Those same idiots might try to take him for it."

"Good. If you die will they fall?"

"No. I've left a coded and translated sealed letter for my heir to the library. She can't get in here and the only ones I'd consider putting in the system are the two brothers that nearly stayed thanks to the thing in DC. With what I've seen on their show they'd be able to handle it and could use the research. And my chosen heir would probably want to jump them a lot."

The detective nodded, looking up at the second floor as they walked back. Xander took back the bracelet and they walked outside. Xander smiled when he saw TJ lounging beside the pool. "You came back?" he said, grinning as he walked over to kiss him. "Thank you but I would've paid for the cab."

"Where's your car?" he asked, staring over the top of his sunglasses. "Is the detective looking guy here for a bad reason?"

"The same reason," the detective said with a smirk. "Those hunters."

"Shot at officers again," Xander quipped.

"Again?"

"Before I left back to DC, before we moved, they shot at officers who were helping us with a break-in," TJ said. "Including a Sheriff's deputy that wasn't there to do his job being part of the first break-in team."

"That's probably why it was covered up," the detective said. "Thank you, Mr. Harris."

"If you can convince them to leave me alone, I'd love that. It's dangerous for TJ and I'd hate to have to avenge him by taking them all out one way or another."

"Us too." He shook their hands and went back to the office to report. Agent Toliver was there looking smug. "He has a way for someone to get partially in. It's inside the vault."

"That figures," Agent Toliver said. "How is it?"

"A two story library and a vault area that's sealed off. The code bracelet won't let you in that at all. He won't give Hammond access so it doesn't endanger him, and his heir has to decode and translate the instructions to redo it."

"That's good," Agent Toliver agreed. "Very smart of him. Any other good news?"

"Hammond's back. He surprised Harris and had a question about the car."

"Poor guy. He'll be fussed over soon," his boss said. "Anything more protective?"

"We got told last night his security system has tentacles."

"That'd deter a lot of people," his boss agreed.

Agent Toliver nodded while laughing. "I saw the guy that they caught with them. They won't eat the guy but they'll definitely play with you. I heard it was playing catch when the officers responded to the attempted breach." He looked at the detective, smiling. "Is the house less white?"

"A lot. Someone's decorated in the few rooms I saw."

"Good. That'll make them happy boys." He stood up. "Harris has promised to send out more genie summoning kits and one for the apocalypse battle next year. We have no idea about either one." He left them alone to go tell his boss.

Detective Carmichals looked at his boss. "Can we convince the stupid among them to leave him alone?"

"I'd hope so. That way they don't try him when he gets out."

"What about the ones that shot at officers at his last house, sir?"

"There was?" He looked that up. "Oh, locked by IAB."

"He said one of the people breaking in before the shooting started was a deputy sheriff. I figured that's why we hadn't heard."

"Yup. We have the full security camera footage. The report from it said the guy did not identify himself and was not there as an officer. He's up on charges. That's good." He looked at the rest of the incident, nodding. "It has a note saying that a prosperous demon family, one that does money lending for the community, moved in. That's sweet and they could probably use that vault." He looked at his detective. "Go convince them and make sure they don't go to the old house."

"I can try, sir. I'll bring Detective Matra. She's persuasive in a way that makes you fear for your life."

"Good idea. She needs some evil time." He flapped a hand. "Go, have fun."

"Thanks." He left his boss to look up things. He knew, most of the unit knew, that their boss was some sort of eighth demon but he was a good guy so they appreciated him. "Matra, we're going to talk to those idiots."

"Let's have some fun," she said with an evil grin. "I could use the good girl fun." She followed him down to the cells. The guards down there were scared of her so she let him lead.

***

"What are you going to replace that car with?" TJ asked that night over dinner.

Xander shrugged. "I don't know. I'm waiting on the check from Delbert. He was groaning again. Not my fault but he was nearly crying."

"I doubt he'll turn it down. They beat your car nearly to death." Xander grinned. "Can they turn you down for someone wanting to kill you?"

"Not with the riders on my account." He smirked a tiny bit. "I pay huge amounts for all that though."

"Maybe we can pare it down soon."

"Not with a new one coming again next spring. That'll make more people hate me."

"Maybe they'll get used to it."

Xander stared at him. "I doubt it but I can hope so. I really hope so, TJ. Can we talk about happier things?"

"Can you afford a new car?" he teased with a grin.

"Yeah, I can do that. I got my self-set up trust fund all fixed. I'm getting this year's check early next month. I have money in the bank too. I was planning on getting another house to flip for the community."

TJ put a hand on his boyfriend's wrist. "Have you asked to see if there's a need?"

"I can probably sell it even without that."

"That'd be good. Are you sure?"

"I make them pretty, TJ. Plus safe. That's always a good thing. The other one I have going will be done in about a month. They're down to painting and finishing touches."

"Does your relator friend appreciate that?"

"Yeah, she gets a good commission for those."

"Cool." He snuck a kiss with a smile. "Can I see that one?"

"I thought you didn't want to buy a house," he teased.

"I don't but I wanted to see what your taste was like."

"I let her pick out a lot of things for sellability and lack of my personal taste overshadowing the style of the house. She insisted."

"That's reasonable I guess. Can we go look anyway?"

"As long as we find a way there."

"There's cabs. We can do that." He smiled. "Eat. I slaved all day making the call for takeout." Xander dug in again. "What happens if something happened to that house?"

"Has it?"

"Someone at the airport hissed that I was there and I'd tell you that the house was wrong."

Xander called his realtor friend. "It's Xander." He put her on speaker. "How's that other house?"

"We stopped work on it, Xander."

"That's funny, I'm still sending them money. It hasn't been returned," he said dryly.

"They had two fire headed demons show up to scare the crew. We're not sure if it's still standing thanks to them."

"Meet me there tomorrow?"

"I have a full day tomorrow."

"Then send that contractor. He owes me some money and I know he's your uncle. We'll see what's going on."

"Is the community going to want it? Selling it means you'll have to tell the new owners that people came after you there."

"They didn't come after me, they were apparently trying to scare me off. But I'll check on that in the morning before I meet him there. Or I'd better have a check back. Sorry but I've been in a bad mood now for days. Then I heard this."

She sighed. "I'll let him know, Xander, but I'm not sure how things will happen."

"He cashed the checks. I assumed you or someone was making sure he was still doing the work since I've been in and out of town for the last month or so."

"The threats came last month," she said.

"Hmm. Then I'd really better be seeing it done or a check. Thanks, dear." He hung up and looked at TJ, who shrugged. "Lawyer. I need a lawyer." He called his to get a recommendation. They knew someone who could use the work. Xander and TJ went over there that night then Xander went to his office to call around to see what had happened. The work had been stopped about two weeks after they had started.

The ones responsible apologized for it but said they were scared it would bring more hunters. It got explained by someone on that side and they worked it out. Though they didn't know anyone who needed a nice house soon. Xander thanked them, hung up, and put the notice of the house going to sale in a few months on the demon community's bulletin board. He went back to the kitchen, taking his cup of soda from TJ. "Take my mind off it?"

"Definitely doable. Pool time?"

Xander hummed, sipping his soda as he walked out there. He stripped off and dove in. TJ followed, getting just as naked and diving in. They could play in the water. Xander needed more lighthearted fun in his life. If the only neighbor who could see into the yard shined a light on them a few times, TJ just waved with a grin and kissed Xander, making her huff and turn off the lights. No police showed up. She didn't storm over to yell and scream. Her homeowner's association wasn't going to do anything since he wasn't part of it, and they didn't have that rule anyway. So they were good to have fun and she could close the curtains.

***

TJ woke up the next morning, rolling over to put his chin on Xander's shoulder. "What are you doing this early in the morning?" he asked quietly.

"Looking at an auto selector site." He looked over and kissed him on the nose. "I have no idea what I want."

"Get something subtle that won't push anyone's nose into your pocketbook but something nice. One or two years old so you can say you got it cheaper when Gunn's people give you dirty looks for driving something shiny. Something a bit safe." He looked at the site then selected a category. "You want to make an impression. Go for an impression car. That way when we go clubbing people are drooling before they see how pretty we are." Xander grinned but looked those over. "Check out the Jags."

"I'd like to not spend a hundred grand on a car."

"Look at last year's F-type. It's pretty and fast, plus fashionable."

Xander grimaced but looked it over, tipping his head some. "Black or red?"

"Dark blue. That's more subtle. Light interiors so we can spot anything we drop." He played around with the options. "Way expensive."

"But you'll be able to find it cheaper used. Those were all pretty standard options." He looked up. "Look at Lincolns? I noticed you staring at those old guy cars."

"The ones who had made it or had money drove lincolns."

"They're old guy cars and people who have money drive beamers."

"Not in Sunnydale. We had a lot of middle class people." He looked at his boyfriend. "If we had a beamer in town it was a state employee in to harass someone."

"Hmm. Lincoln makes a nice SUV." He selected that one to let Xander look it over. "Sixty-five new with the options you wanted, so less used." Xander nodded slightly. "Drive that when you go see Gunn or have to haul a lot of swords. Or Buffy since that one comes with good floor mats." Xander grinned. "You have it, you can flaunt it a tiny bit."

"A jaguar is more than a tiny bit and they're getting a rep for being driven by evil masterminds thanks to the commercials."

"Babe, you could do that but you'd hate all the paperwork. The same as my mother does."

"Am I like your mom?"

"No, she's glamorous and wants power. You have power and you hate to buy clothes." Xander nodded, putting the tablet aside so he could flip over to cuddle his boyfriend. "We can look at those later today." Xander reached back to grab the ringing phone. "Who's that?"

"Your people." He let TJ have his phone.

"Why did the Secret Service call you to tell you to buy something security conscious because of me?"

"I'm wondering if we have listening devices, which would piss me off, or they're tapping my computers."

"Could be either with some of them. We can look for bugs later." He draped himself over Xander's chest, earning a tolerant smile. "Not turning you on?" Xander shifted so TJ could feel how turned on he was. "Hmm. That's nice. We need to play with that, Xander."

"I'm always happy to play with you." He took a kiss, moving under the covers to tease TJ until he begged. If someone was listening in they'd know he was very good to TJ.

TJ just moaned and let Xander do whatever he wanted. He was so spoiled.

***

Xander looked around his last project, looking at his realtor friend. "They only had eight rooms to do."

"They got threatened, Xander."

Xander walked out back and two fire headed demons showed up. Xander gave them an unimpressed look. "Guys, really?"

"This is near our refuge, human."

"I'm Harris."

The demons stared at him. "This will be a community house?" one asked more quietly.

"If at all possible. I always offer to the community first." He stared at them. "How long has it been since you scared off the workers?"

"Months," the other one admitted. "They were not working anyway."

"I noticed. All right, we're going to finish flipping this house. Do you guys need the name of the security company I use to put some protections around your refuge? I know you guys won't put magic ones around because it could warp the young."

"Please," one said. "We will leave this house be." Xander wrote it out on a stone he picked up. They took it and nodded at him before leaving.

Xander looked at his realtor. "Not like disclosing that there's a nursery refuge about two miles away is going to really affect resale."

She grimaced. "Maybe." They went back to look around. "I thought they did more than this."

"Me too, and they still cashed those checks," Xander said dryly, staring at her. "They haven't called back either and the last message I left said I'm calling my lawyer tomorrow."

"I understand why."

"Especially since they seem to make more than most of the construction people in the city," Xander said. She winced. "Two months of payments."

"I'll try to talk to him myself."

"Thanks." He walked around with TJ helping him make some decisions. "What is that?" he asked with a point at the kitchen.

"I think that was meant to be an interior grill," she said, consulting the plans. "Supposedly."

Xander looked at her, looking confused. "Why? We have an outdoor kitchen." She went to look and sighed, making notes. He looked at TJ. Who patted him on the arm. "They had granite in here too but it was weird colors."

"It's sitting in the dining room," TJ said with a point.

Xander nodded, calling someone. "Can you call your buddy the contractor to meet me up at my new project house please? Yeah, by the refuge. No, they abandoned it after making some questionable choices and cashing the checks. It needs to be finished. Maybe a month of work. Thanks." He hung up. "He's working nearby and can hopefully be here in a few minutes." They walked around making more notes on what had to get done to sell it.

When the contractor got there, TJ let him in. "Xander's and the realtor are out back calling the last guy that totally did stupid things," he said in greeting. He led the way out there. "Xander?" He looked over and held up a finger then went back to unreasonably not yelling at the guy. TJ smirked. "Let me show you some of the stuff they weren't supposed to do." He led the guy around.

"We can reapply the granite. That's popular around here," the contractor said.

Xander walked in. "My realtor friend didn't like the colors."

"It's a popular one, even if it's a bit ugly to people with sense," the contractor said, shaking his hand. "Mr. Harris, I've seen some of what they've done."

Xander winced. "Did they botch something?"

"They wanted to update something your crew didn't. Usually they do really good work. I have no idea who did this."

"Me either," Xander said. "He just told me he subcontracted this job to his brother. And still cashed the checks."

"Ow. How much work are we looking at? Is this going to be one of the safe homes you've been working on?"

"It is," Xander said. "There's a baby refuge about two miles that way so we've had a few demons show up to complain. That's their supposed reason for abandoning this but I've talked to them this morning. If the community doesn't like it or want it, then I'm open to selling it to normal people."

"That's great." He looked at the mess of the kitchen. "How big is the list?" The realtor handed it over. He nodded as he read it over. "Mostly reasonable. This one surface we've seen replaced a lot recently." He pointed. "Plus that granite's popular in the area."

"I thought it really hideous," the realtor complained.

"It is," the contractor said with a smile. "But it goes well as a pop of color."

"I did that in my kitchen," Xander agreed. "The island has an eye catching top and the rest coordinates."

"Granite?" the contractor asked.

"Caesar stone," he said with a grin. "The one that looks like cut marbles there and the sea salt finish on the rest."

"That's beautiful for accenting," he agreed, looking around. "What do you ideally want and at what budget?"

"If I can get the money back from that other group, it'll go up to half a mil for the reno budget."

"You can rebuild it totally for that." He looked at Xander. "Realistically, you can do all the things on your list tastefully at forty, maybe fifty."

"That I have on hand," he agreed. "Can it be done soon? It's been two months."

"I've got a job right now and one scheduled that'll take about a week, it's a new roof and outdoor redo."

"Two weeks or so is a good starting point," Xander said, looking at his realtor, who nodded. Xander grinned. "I do tend to pop in now and then. I had been in and out of town with problems so I didn't do it on the last one."

"That's reasonable. I'd expect that."

Xander smiled, shaking his hand. "Let's do the contract."

"Sure." He got one from his truck and came back to work on it while on the porch. It had a wall they could use to write on.

TJ smiled at the realtor. "Did he have anything else going on or in the planning stage?"

"Not yet. He usually looks for a new house after he sells one." Her phone rang and she walked off answering it. "Hello." She smiled. "I can definitely show that family for you. What are they looking for?" She made notes for herself. "That's great. I know of six fully finished and one that's just now got a contractor since the last one crapped out. Sure. About an hour? That's fine. Thank you, Bill." He hung up. "I have a normal couple looking for a house that has six bedrooms," she said.

Xander looked at her, frowning some. "This has five. The one on the other end of my community just had a sign go up this morning. The pretty tan one with the german style."

"That is pretty. I'll look at it on the way back to the office. I'll talk to my uncle later, Xander." She shook everyone's hand and left.

"Did they have permits?" the contractor asked.

"They were supposed to. I started the paperwork for them when I bought the house."

"I can definitely check on that." He shook their hands again. "I'll let you know for sure the day I can start. We can make this one a great house to be safe in." He left, going to tell his crew they had another job coming. A few hated working on a possible future demon owned home but oh well. If they wanted to quit, he had plenty he could hire instead.

TJ looked at Xander. "This house could be really pretty."

Xander nodded. "That's what I thought." They walked off together, Xander making sure everything was locked up and the alarm system was activated. They got into the rental car and headed down to the city center. "I'm going to stop at the bank."

"That's fine. Are we going to the car dealership today?"

"I might, yeah. I hate renting cars."

"Me too. They're kind of junky after a few months of use." He patted Xander on the knee, getting a grin back. The drive to the bank was a longish one, but about normal for anything in LA if you didn't stay in your neighborhood. They went into the bank together, getting a bit of attention.

Xander smiled at the receptionist. "I need to talk to someone about my accounts please," he said quietly. "Just to settle what's where and all that."

"I can sign you in, sir. Name?"

"Harris. Xander Harris."

She nodded, making note of that and paging someone. They came out to greet them. "This is Mr. Harris doing a check, Mr. Hillers."

"Sure, we can do that. This way, Mr. Harris and Mr....."

"Hammond," he said, shaking his hand with a smile. "Xander's my boyfriend."

"That's great." They went into the office to look at Xander's accounts. "I see you have four total accounts with us," he said, frowning at something. "Your main one has a lock on it?"

"Against hackers. It shouldn't be a general one."

"Hmm." He looked at it. "Someone did try to breach it." He looked up. "So it was temporarily locked. We can work around that."

Xander nodded. They got things settled and his special draw account for the new contractor job was set up easily based on the contract. Most contractors liked doing things that way, that way the money came directly from the bank and couldn't bounce. They left, going to Xander's investment guy, who set up things better with the bank since they had almost been hacked too. They had turned that attempted hacking in to the government. Xander's car shopping budget was handed over to TJ's keeping since he had more pockets on him. Once it was all settled, Xander went to Gunn's hangout, going in there. "Hey," he said, shaking hands with one of the guys lounging around. "I need someone who can help me look at a few used cars. You guys know anyone who can?"

That gang member nodded. "My sister's great at it. I know you won't disrespect her."

"Nah, I'd never do that. TJ picked out what cars I'm looking at." The other guys all smirked at him. "He has great taste and he puts up with me anyway. Can we meet her somewhere to pick her up?"

"Yeah. I can have her meet you somewhere in about two hours."

"That'll probably work. I can take him to lunch first instead. Oh, we got the new house contracted for again. The old crew subcontracted and they left it a wreck." Gunn winced. "So probably a month or so. Up by the baby refuge."

"That's a good neighborhood," Gunn agreed as he walked in. "Looking for a new project?"

"Car looking."

"I heard, man. That sucked."

"Yup. TJ picked out a few I should look at but we know I know nothing about engines."

Gunn nodded with a grin. "We know."

"I'll call my sister to meet you in about two hours, Harris."

"Thanks. Let me know where. I've got my phone." He shook hands with him. "Later, guys." He left, going back to the car. "Two hours."

"That's a good amount of time for lunch," he agreed. He had slid over to drive. Xander buckled in and they drove off, going to a nice restaurant for an early light lunch. The valet sneered at the car. "It's a rental," TJ said dryly. The sneer didn't ease. It did when Xander got out of the car. They went in to get something light and easy and talk about things. TJ was certain Xander needed to have better clothes as well as a car. Xander liked his style but TJ was insistent that he at least get a few new shirts. They could do that later that night.

***

Atlantia, the young mechanic, walked into her big brother's hangout, shaking her head. "The hipper one has good taste but his boyfriend is so confused."

"Xander is often confused," her brother said. "He's goofy too."

She smiled. "That part was cute. Even TJ grinned at him being goofy and going into evil genius overlord sort of speeches." She settled on a couch. "He got a used Jag for the status ride and a slightly older navigator for the practical riding around in."

"Not bad choices," her brother agreed. "Pretty hip."

"Nice but a bit fussy. TJ was seriously into the features." Her brother nodded. "Who is he anyway?"

"You seen that lady that's running for Prez? Her youngest son."

"Really? Wow. Don't we bother her?"

"No. She seems to appreciate Xander. TJ said his grandmother was one of those but his mom seems to have sense."

"The one his dad was saying he died and he didn't?"

Her brother smiled and nodded. "They met that night. Lorne set him at TJ to save his butt."

"Lorne has good taste. They're cute together." Her brother nodded. "Also, he said to tell Gunn to tell him what the holiday list was."

"Gunn?" he yelled.

"Yeah?" He came in pulling on a jacket. "They get something useful?"

"The navigator will be. The Jag's just for pretty." Gunn rolled his eyes. "He wanted a holiday list?"

"He's the guy that donates all the toys."

"That's sweet of him." She smiled. "Both are dark blue. Xander insisted. Plus feeding me dinner."

"He's good that way," Gunn agreed. "He does for others. He could be a lot more stuck up. Thankfully he's brought TJ into that." He smirked. "Going on patrol."

"Be safe," Atlantia said with a wave. Her brother went with Gunn and she went home to eat her excellent dinner. TJ had great taste in food.

***

Xander looked up from frolicking in the pool when his phone went off. He climbed out to activate the security system, staring at it. "TJ, do you know this old lady?" he asked.

TJ came over to look. "That's my grandmother. You should probably let her in even if she will bitch." He grabbed a towel while Xander opened the gate from his phone, then he grabbed a towel too. They went inside, going to the kitchen for Xander to make sure they had things in there for snacks. TJ opened the door, staring at his grandmother as she got out of the hired car. "Grandmother." He kissed her cheek when she got closer.

"Is the fountain broken?"

"He patched it earlier this week now we have to seal it and then it'll be fully fixed. So by next week."

"I suppose those things happen when you move into a new house." She walked in and looked around, nodding. "Along with painting."

"The last owner had a huge fascination with the color white," Xander said as he came out of the kitchen with glasses of ice water. "I have add ins if you wanted lemon, limes, or tea mix."

"Thank you, young man." She looked him over.

He smirked. "There's tapes online of me stripping when I was younger if you're that interested," he snarked, making her smirk at him. "As for painting, we've agreed to leave this room mostly alone since we hardly ever use it. We're out by the pool if you'd like to join us."

"Of course." She followed them outside to the covered seats. "You actually run your pool with the current drought?"

"I have a low loss of water system installed. I only really lose some from evaporation. Plus I bought the initial trucks of water to fill it instead of using city water. The city water engineer praised me for the low flow and loss system I use on all the houses I've done." She nodded, sipping her water and putting it aside.

"If we didn't, we'd probably leave it empty," TJ agreed. "The drought is pretty bad."

Xander nodded. "It is. Higher in the state is better on that problem but down here it's miserable." He grinned at TJ. "The cabin in Tahoe sold to the second person that looked at it, and she wanted to redo a lot of things so I gave her credit to do some of that."

"That's great news," TJ agreed. "Are you going to pick up another house here in town?"

"Not right now. The local community's pretty saturated and no one's really thinking about moving. That new house might go to someone more normal, not sure yet. I haven't checked on the one who offered for it in the current shape. They wanted to be able to pick out all the finishes and would pay above what we have for the basic fixing. The contractor agreed it'd be fine and I signed with her late last night by computer. We'll get the official paperwork tomorrow sometime." TJ smiled at him. "So yeah, maybe no more flipping houses for a bit."

"You could use all that spare cash to finish fixing up around here," TJ's grandmother said, looking around. "The landscaping is a bit sparse."

"It's desert landscaping mostly with a few prettier bushes," Xander said. "I don't really like flowers or fussy landscaping anyway. The same as I left the other acre of land free to grow."

"We have two acres?" TJ asked, looking around. "Does the house take up a full acre?"

"Yeah, and we have almost three acres total. The house takes up just over an acre total, the stuff back here takes up the rest of that one. The driveway takes up about a quarter of one all told and the rest is the stuff that guy complains about."

TJ nodded. "That makes good sense." He looked around. "What about some evergreen things?"

"We're in Cali, TJ. Things grow year round out here." He smiled. "And evergreens take a lot more water. There's some desert versions and I've got one bush coming for that bare spot by the other pool."

"What about a christmas tree?" TJ's grandmother demanded.

Xander looked at her. "I tend to do a live tree that can be replanted at a tree farm. I didn't do more than that last year but we do decorate." He looked at TJ. "Did you want something other than that?"

"Party?" he asked.

"Not on your life," Xander said dryly, smiling at him. "You know I don't like people that much, dear."

"I know."

"There's a number of holiday parties I had planning on going to. I've already sent back the RSVP card on three of the ten. Those three are charity ones for kids."

TJ nodded. "Those are good things. The other ones?"

"Mostly just people who throw parties. I've been to their other parties. Another one from the neighbors on the right." He pointed.

TJ considered it. "Is that one person from the other neighborhood that complained about us being together and you being you going to be there?"

"Probably. I asked if she wanted us to be there knowing that she'd probably complain again. She's one that rolled her eyes at the lady the last time."

"Hmm. We can if you're comfortable with it," TJ decided.

Xander smiled. "I'm not uncomfortable with it but I don't want someone to make a scene about me being there."

"Point. Up to you. I can tag along if you want."

"That's a great thing. You make some of those boring parties fun. Usually I hang out in a corner watching people act weird or dumb." He looked at his phone when it beeped, opening the side gate. "The lady who can look at the pool area," he said quietly. He smiled at her. "Hi, welcome to our home."

She stared at Xander. "It's indecent how you two run around semi clothed, young man."

Xander stared at her. "It's not like we have kids who are here or can look in here. I'm twenty-five, ma'am. I'm in my naked fun years. If there were kids who could look in I might take that into consideration but you don't have kids and only your house looks into our yard."

TJ looked at her, staring over the top edge of his sunglasses. "Are you more huffy about him being naked and frolicking or because I'm a guy?"

"I have no problem with you two being together, young man, but I didn't want to see it when I'm trying to sleep!"

"We can frolic during the daytime," Xander offered with a smile.

"Good! Do so! At least leave me decent sleep hours! Your lights flash a bit you know." She left with a sniff of distaste.

Xander looked at TJ, who shrugged. "We can frolic in the daytime?"

"Sure, we can do that."

"Don't stop on my account," TJ's grandmother quipped, sipping her water.

Xander grinned at her. "If TJ wants to have sex in front of you, he's a big boy and he can ask me to debauch him thoroughly and loudly." She choked and spluttered.

"I don't mind an audience sometimes," TJ admitted, smirking at his boyfriend. "But not in front of my family, Xander."

"Sure, I get that." He sipped his own water.

"Not his family as well?" she asked her grandson.

"His family aren't anywhere that I can find them to berate them for being dicks," he said bluntly, staring at her. "Thankfully."

Xander nodded. "I'm hoping that if they got eaten by a vampire, that one enjoyed his drunk times from them." He took another drink and put the glass down.

"What about your last client?" TJ asked. "I know you were working late last night."

"I got it done and I let them know they could pick it up. I haven't heard anything yet and their request didn't say to bring it to them. If I don't hear from them today I'll try to call again in the morning." TJ nodded. "It was a private residence being warded."

"I'd guess that'd be a good thing," she said dryly.

"He's a bit worried that something will break in," Xander said with a shrug. "Also some fire wards and warnings to add to his security system."

"That's great fun," she said, looking at her grandson again. "Are you hanging out here all winter?"

"I haven't decided yet," TJ admitted, looking at Xander, who shrugged.

"I leave that up to you. We are dating but I'm not that clingy," Xander quipped. "I don't have leash rights."

"True, we're not like that," TJ agreed. "Am I needed back home more often? I fly back about once a month."

"I thought your club might need more delicate handling as it's become popular."

TJ shook his head. "I'm not sure if I'm not selling my portion to my co-owners and maybe opening one out here instead. It's a lot less stress out here in some ways."

"We have more shallow people," Xander said. "But they like to club more than out in DC probably. It seems to be a career out here."

TJ nodded. "We've seen that."

His grandmother shook her head. "That's a bad thing. Don't they work?"

"For some, that is their work," Xander said. "Even if they have mundane jobs, being seen among the right sort gives them a leg up at work."

"It's like politics light but it's about money instead of influence," TJ told her. "The ones with the most money in the younger years spend a lot of time clubbing to be seen."

"Some don't," Xander said. "But they also have sense and usually realize they'll have to someday take over. There's even heiresses that don't wear trashy clothes and carry around purse dogs." TJ laughed, grinning at him. "Seriously! I met one at the store. No purse dog, a real outfit that covered her ass and boobs. She went to Stanford, it was on her keychain sticking out of her purse and I pointed out it was sticking out in case it got stolen. She just smiled and thanked me politely."

"Wow. We need more of those," TJ said.

His grandmother looked at him. "In the old days you would've been married off to one of those."

"I'm sure many were but in those days, Mom wouldn't have been in politics either."

"True." She sipped her water. "This is a pretty area, boys."

"Thank you," Xander said.

"You didn't put his name on the house?"

"He's not ready to co-own with me," Xander said, staring at her. "We're not even ready for a shared pet yet."

"That's reasonable I suppose. What happens if you break up?"

"I have the feeling we'll be the friendly sort even if we do," Xander said with a shrug. "I still like most of my true exes, though not all my one night stands. I still talk to a great many of them." She stared at him. He smiled. "I'm not innocent by any means and like most people that do dangerous things I play hard whenever I need to. Even if we break up, TJ knows he's always welcome in my house unless we break up for something like abuse."

"Good. He could use that stability."

"Grams," TJ warned.

"You could."

Xander nodded. "Everyone could use stability in their lives. It what makes us free to have fun without worrying so much," he said. "If I give that to TJ I'm happy to do it. He does that with me and I know it doesn't worry him any."

She nodded. "That's a very prosaic viewpoint. Very realistic of you as well." She finished her water. "Are we having dinner in?"

"I planned on doing burgers," Xander admitted, looking at TJ again. He got a shrug back. "We can add on another burger if you wanted to join us for that."

"I can do that. Let me go rest so you two can have more fun. It was a very long flight." She got up and TJ showed her to a guest room. It was pretty, well decorated but simplistic. Clearly the first guest in it since the bed was still decorated with pillows like the decorator had done it. She took a quick shower and laid down for a bit. She'd see how well this young man did with her grandson. Maybe he'd be worthy. Her daughter thought so.

Xander kissed TJ when he came back, smiling at him. "At least she hasn't tried to produce a shovel yet."

He poked Xander on the arm. "No shovels needed, Xander. I'm my own man and I can make my own decisions."

"I know you can. You're greatly sexy when you do."

TJ smirked. "You're very see through."

"So I am. I like myself this way. Don't you?"

"A lot." He pounced this time. He never got to spoil Xander the way Xander spoiled him but this time it'd wear out some of the stress his grandmother was causing.

***

Buffy showed up a few days later, giving the older lady that answered the door a strange look. "Isn't Xander at home?" she asked.

"He's out in his work area. TJ, do you know this young chippie?"

TJ came out of the family room. "Hey, Buffy. This is my grandmother."

"Oh, hi." She waved. TJ let her in. "I need to warn Xander."

"More hunters?" he asked.

"Worse."

"Battle?"

"Worse." She winced. "It's a Willow issue."

"Oh, dear." He led her out to the work area, knocking on the door until Xander came out to answer it. "She said Willow's done something." He walked off.

"She's a bit of fluffy nothingness," his grandmother complained, taking a drink.

"That's the senior slayer, Grandmother. I doubt that. Occasionally an airhead but she's got a lot of strength in all meanings of the word." She grimaced. "You get to know people like that when you're around Xander." He walked off.

Xander looked at Buffy. "I'd let you in but the security system will eat you. Literally. What's she done this time?"

She winced, looking down then at him again. "She found your parents." She stepped back quickly.

Xander just stared at her. "What?"

"She found your parents."

"They're alive? That's weird." He leaned on the doorway.

"She's told them that you made money before you were eighteen."

"That doesn't mean they're entitled to it but of course they'll try." She nodded, wincing again. "I'm not mad at you but if you see the redheaded bitch, can you stake her a tiny bit?"

"She's human. You know I can't hurt humans, Xander. I'll ask Connor though. She showed up last night."

"No, I want her out of LA. She's a menace to the community."

"The city council sort for the demon community ordered her to leave and she just snorted."

Xander nodded, walking off. "Give me a second to get something from the vault." She shuddered but waited while he came out with a pretty little bottle. He grinned. "I have a few potions that will make sure she's not a problem."

"Will it kill her?"

"Kill the magic."

"That might be okay. I hate losing friends, Xander," she said quietly.

He nodded. "I know." He walked off with her. "Let me put on clothes." He walked inside, handing TJ the bottle. "Don't open that."

"Okay, I won't. Is it a potion?"

"Yeah. Rosenburg found my parents."

"Oh, shit," TJ muttered, looking at Buffy. "How bad?"

"She told them he made money before he was eighteen."

"So a lawsuit to get their drunken paws on his money," TJ said. She nodded. "Are they in town?"

"I didn't ask. The community's council thingy showed up to try to drive Willow out of the city. They consider her a menace."

"Us too," TJ quipped. Xander came out pulling on a t-shirt over his usual hunting jeans, so TJ handed back the bottle, taking a kiss. "Don't get too hurt?" he asked, staring at him.

"If at all possible." He smiled and took a second kiss. "Relax. I've got it. If anyone you don't know shows up, my mother looks almost exactly like me, we only talk to lawyers we know, and anyone with the community tell them to call my cellphone." TJ nodded. Xander took his keys to the Navigator and walked out with Buffy beside him. "I've done more protection wards on this one since I figured I'd be taking it to battles," he said as he got in.

"That's sensible." She had to hop to get into her seat but did and buckled up. Xander drove off, being a good driver. Much better than she was at it. They went to the demon community house, parking outside and going in. Buffy followed to see how he handled it.

Xander walked through the crowd, putting the bottle on the table in front of the council. "Permission to use that on the redheaded menace we all face?" he asked with a grin.

The head of the council picked up the bottle to look at it through the light. "That's nicely done, Xander. You have a good hand with potions." She put it back down. "Isn't that drastic?"

"She's causing harm on purpose to me and the LA team. Frankly, if I have to see my blood parents I'll probably need bail money."

The head of the council nodded at that. "I can see why with that information. We know she is causing problems."

"I can solve some of that but it won't solve the hacking or anything else. Though that does tell me who had tried to hack into my accounts recently. We turned that hacking into the government." She smiled and stood up to pat him on the head. "What is my damage limit?"

"Don't need bail money. It will look bad on you. We will help." The demons in there all nodded. "We were sending an emissary to Gunn to talk about her."

"I can call him," Buffy said. "Because I like being her friend but not the Willow she is now. She's kinda creepy and bad." She called. "Gunn, me. We need you and Connor at the Community House." She listened. "What do you mean you're being held hostage by Willow? Um..." She looked at the head of the community.

"Let the humans handle it," Xander suggested. "That way maybe she learns. And if she does something to them they will keep her this time. She's presently facing charges anyway so she's violating her bail."

The councilors looked at each other. "We have members among the local police."

"Do we have someone in SWAT?" Xander asked.

"Bit extreme, Xander, and there's kids there," Buffy warned. "They're at the shelter."

"SWAT teams have special protections," he told her.

"Still, they could hurt Gunn's people. Can we do it?"

"I can do it," he assured her with a smile. "With some of Gunn's people." She sighed in relief and nodded. He looked at the Councilors, who all nodded. "I can do that."

"Take the potion in case you need it, Harris," one said quietly. "She embarrasses them as well."

Xander nodded. "I can do that too." He looked at Buffy.

"I'm staying here," she said, holding up a hand. "Faith's somewhere. I can't reach her by phone. I tried when I hung up."

"Okay." He left, going to Gunn's people. He rolled up next to a few of them and rolled down the window. "Earnest," he said.

"Don't call me that!" he complained, glaring at Xander.

"Sorry, E-Boy, Willow has Gunn and part of the shelter hostage."

"Excuse me?" he demanded, drawing attention. "That batty witch has what?"

"Gunn and parts of the shelter hostage. We're not sure how many. Yet. The community wanted her taken out of the way but not killed. She's embarrassing them too."

"She needs a swift kick."

"Yeah, and I have a potion that'll stop that shit. I need some help though."

"You got it." He called out, heading for the coffee shop they were hearing problems at today. "Guys, Harris is here. The redhead has the shelter hostage." The gang members got up and paid for their stuff then went to join him in the car. A few had to sit in the trunk area but that was all right. They got there and found officers. "Guys, this is a shelter we run and protect," E-Boy said.

Xander got out and nodded at one. "She's a witch and a magic addict."

"She's on bail and violating it," that officer said.

"Good, you can have her back once we've freed the shelter."

"We're LAPD, sir."

"She's got magic. She's on bail for turning an officer into a puppy. The community is embarrassed by her. They want her back in jail but not with magic."

"Can you?"

"I have a potion for that." He smiled. "These are Gunn's people."

"We're aware," another one said. "We can help." They got what they needed, one of the gang holding onto the potion. They moved in with the gang members in front to get the shelter residents out of harm's way. Xander went right for the main area of the shelter they were probably near. They were in the dining hall and people were lining up outside. Xander pointed and an officer went to guard those ones and get them out of the way of thrown spells. The gang got with Xander and he nodded. They walked in and found Willow arguing with Faith.

"I don't care, it's still wrong!" Faith shouted. "You're hurting people! You know that's against the rules!"

"You're one to speak," Willow sneered.

"Oh, no, that's my job," Xander sneered. She threw a spell at him and his protections held. He stared at her. She huffed and threw more. He hit her, knocking her into a wall. She screamed and came up with full magic to hit him. It hurt him, he grunted in pain, but the potion hit her before she could try a second hit. She shrieked and held her stomach as it leached out her magic. Xander rubbed his chest, sighing as he looked at Faith. "You got free?"

"I got back ten minutes ago. B's text had a 911 code."

"Yeah, she was."

"I can tell." She looked at the officers. "I didn't help her."

"We were watching when you got here, Miss Lehane. We know that," one assured her. "We watch over the group in case someone tries to use them as a more traditional gang, and so we know when we're about to have huge problems."

"We tell you guys now," Gunn said, letting Xander untie him. "I promise we do."

"Two gun running gangs from South America tried to get a few of your people to help them," one of the officers said. "They said no but we're worried since you guys aren't meant to fight that sort."

"That's fine. We don't do too much that's wrong," Gunn said, standing up. They got the rest of the hostages free. "Thanks, guys, and Faith." She smirked.

"Lunch line is lined up," one of the guys called. The helpers went to work on that with Faith's help since she wasn't in trouble.

Xander walked over to the officers. "The potion will keep her magic from her for six weeks. She's got an extreme addiction to her magic. The coven she was working with was supposed to help her deal with that and has apparently made it worse. Her parents are shrinks who travel a ton."

"We can put her in for help, sir. I'm not sure if a rehab center will help with that sort of thing."

"No but a damn good spanking might," one of the gang said. "She thinks she's the Goddess and it's her way or wrong. She tried to correct an older lady who's been cooking since she was ten about how to make southern food."

"Willow can bake but not fry or things," Xander said. "The last I knew she could do simple things that would keep her fed while her parents traveled for months." He looked back at that guy. "She tried to tell Mama Celeste how to cook?"

"Worse, Nanny Abraham."

"Oooh." Xander winced. "She's lucky she wasn't beaten."

"She did but Willow tried to magic her. Thankfully she had on a protection. By the way, thanks."

"Welcome. Be damned if I want her to do it to anyone." He looked at the officers. "The community tried to have her banished earlier. They're really embarrassed by her."

"We can keep her this time. She violated her bail." They picked Willow up. "Any physical problems we'll have to have her treated for?"

"It just detoxed all her magic from her," Xander said. "I'm told that's like coming down from any street drug."

"Got it. We can handle that." They walked her off telling her her rights.

Xander sat down, looking up at Gunn. "You're going to the ER, white boy." Gunn smirked. "Don't think I don't realize you're in a lot of pain. Don't make me tell TJ to nag."

"His grandmother's in. She thinks scotch goes with breakfast."

Gunn nodded. "Charming."

"No, charming was Willow tried to hack my accounts and told my parents where I am."

"If we see 'em, we'll warn you," Gunn quipped. "Guys, get Xander to an ER."

"Can they actually handle that?" Xander asked. "I was going to the healer down by the Community House."

"That'll work too." They took Xander's keys and drove him down there. It was sweet of them. Gunn looked around. "Anyone need a healer or a doc?" he asked. They shook their heads. "Okay, let's get back to the normal stuff while we calm down. Let's hope she won't be back." They opened the door for the lunch line group. "Sorry, people. Had a bit of a witch problem today. LAPD has her well in claw for now." He let them come in to get food.

***

TJ came down to the healer's office, staring at his mate, who was obediently behaving. "A huge problem?"

"He'll have some pain surges for the next few days," the healer said, smiling at him. "He took a full blast of black magic to the chest. His protections held, mostly, but they were meant to take on something the power of a witch or a sorcerer, not a Goddess. So he'll have some pain. He has a bruise. I don't want him to drive just in case he gets wobbly. He nearly passed out earlier when the pain overwhelmed him for a moment. Baby him for the next two days?"

"Any meds I need to make sure he takes?"

"No. We have drained it, TJ. You're a good man." She patted him and left them to get Xander home.

Xander looked at him. "It held through the first two then I made her mad. She's in custody."

"Good! Before I have to beat her myself." Xander smiled. "C'mon, I cabbed so I could drive you home. We can have dinner in bed tonight." He helped Xander out to the navigator.

"Can we lock the bar tonight so we don't have to listen to her sing?" Xander asked quietly once TJ got in to drive.

"Yeah, I can cut her off tonight, Xander. It's not a problem. You need to rest." Xander nodded, tipping his seat back. TJ drove them home, settling Xander into bed for now. He went to talk to his grandmother. "Grams, he needs quiet tonight. Whatever she hit him with caused a lot of pain but no damage."

"I can give you two privacy." She finished her drink.

"You were signing loudly enough last night that you interrupted us having sex."

She smirked. "Then it clearly wasn't good enough."

"I nearly had a heart attack, it was great, you were loud. And off-key." He stared at her. "Thanks." He walked off to make them dinner. His grandmother's could go with her wherever she ended up tonight, as long as it wasn't his piano room again. He had locked her out of it after the first time she had tried to play it on him.

***

The next morning, Xander, who hadn't been able to sleep, and TJ, who had just gotten to sleep, were listening to his grandmother being a horrible guest. TJ groaned so Xander took his phone and found a contact to send a message to. "TJ's mother, can you please recall your loudly singing, overly drunk mother so TJ and I can get some sleep? I'm recovering from an injury." He sent it with a thirty second recording of her noise.

TJ blinked at Xander. "Who did you send a message to?"

"Your mom. Asking her to please recall her."

"I'm about to kick her out," TJ agreed. He cuddled, taking his phone to read the message. He sent his own as well. His mother sent back one saying she'd make up some need for her to come back to DC and for them to rest. "Do you need to work today?"

"I need to finish that set," Xander admitted then he yawned. "It's due in two days. I gave myself an extra day, I usually do."

"Good. We can rest for another three hours then." They both drifted off to the noise she was making. They missed the officers showing up to tell her to shut up thanks to the nearest neighbor. The officer woke TJ up by opening the door. TJ glared at him. "She's my grandmother and my mother wants her back in DC. Can you make her go? He needs to rest and I haven't gotten any sleep either."

"We could ticket her for the noise."

"I asked her to keep it down last night, that's why she got so loudly drunk," TJ said. "Good luck with that."

"I hate drunks," Xander said, blinking at the officer. "I grew up with drunks. I left that when I was seventeen, I've had nothing but nightmares thanks to her. I may love TJ but she's not going to make me give him up. Can you call her a cab too?"

"I can do that, sir." The officer walked off. "Ma'am, your in-law said he's tired, he's in pain, and you're being asked to leave." She huffed. "Your grandson said you're wanted back in DC anyway. Your choice is to go or to get a ticket and an overnight in the drunk tank. Since that'll mean seeing a judge tomorrow at ten am and it's barely eight right now do you really want to have all day as our guest?"

"I don't believe the nerve of him."

"Ma'am, they both know what you were trying to do and the in-law said that not even you're enough to make him give up his boyfriend," the other officer said. "Up to you which one you want to do. We'd get a break to fill out the forms to arrest you. Or you can call a cab."

She sneered and got another drink. "I'm allowed here. This is my grandson's house."

TJ walked out wearing only his boxer briefs. "Sorry, Grams, but it's Xander's house. I'm not ready to own anything with him, much less a full house. We're not even ready for fish yet." She stomped off in a huff. "I'll tell Mom to expect your call for a ride from the airport." She threw something at him. "Never mind."

"She just threw a vase that has an imp trapped in it," Xander called. "Make sure it doesn't follow you home to cause problems."

"That's a great reason," the second officer said, grabbing her to cuff her. TJ got her bag packed quickly and handed it to them with a smile. "Thank you, sir. For the records, I'll need your names."

"I'm TJ Hammond and that's my boyfriend Xander Harris. He was injured yesterday fighting with Rosenburg."

"We've heard about her. Good luck, sir, and at least he's not an animal. The witches that tried to get her free turned some of the prison officers into lizards and cats."

Xander came out to look at him. "There's a group in town that can demagic them," he said. "Let me get you their address and phone number." He went to his office and came back with a set of notes and that information. "That'll help too."

"Thank you, sir." They left, going back to the station with her. "So drunk she threw a vase at us when the owner asked for her to leave for the drunken behavior and it contained an imp."

The booking sergeant nodded. "Sounds like a good idea to me." He did the forms and took her through the system. He recognized that name, someone would be after her eventually. Though being an alcoholic was fashionable in some circles so he guessed it wasn't the scandal it had been during the Kennedy or Clinton eras.

***

A few hours later in DC, TJ's brother got an email from an address he didn't recognize but it was about his grandmother and had 'lapd' in the address. He opened it to see the booking photos and sheets. "Aw, damn it, TJ," he complained. He carried his laptop into his mother's office, letting her see it.

She nodded. "She had been causing stress on purpose. They both asked me to recall her to DC this morning. Then she made an ass out of herself by assaulting an officer who the neighbors had called to tell her to shut up." She showed him the full file. He rolled his eyes. "I wouldn't want her there either."

"People drink, he should get used to that," he complained.

"He's too used to it, and TJ hardly ever drinks around him thanks to his parents being drunks." She stared at her son. "You're judgmental and I like him with Xander. Xander actually supports TJ and gets him to do things to help him. Xander's not political, though he has threatened to start it if people don't leave him alone." Her first born son grimaced. "He's a nice young man and I appreciate Xander. My mother needs her head put back on straight." She played that clip of her mother singing off key at eight in the morning.

"That's loud."

"He's far enough away from the neighbors that they could hold a college frat party in the house and they wouldn't hear. If they could hear her...."

"Point. Still, he had her arrested."

"She had herself arrested by throwing a vase at the officers."

"Oh. Who do you want me to send to bail her out?"

"I'm not. She'll quietly get herself free and come home to behave again. Hopefully with a full apology to the boys."

"Fine. Should I send her a plane ticket?"

"TJ wrote once he got up. He had one sent over for her. It's waiting with her suitcase."

"Charming." He walked off shaking his head. He called their campaign's media person to let them know. She had a good laugh about TJ taking out the old harridan as she called her. So maybe it wouldn't look too badly on their mother.

***

Xander walked down to the gateway, staring at the lawyer waiting out there. "I don't think you're going to come into my residence," he said bluntly. "My protections would stop you from entering anyway. So what do you want, Wolfram and Hart lawyer?"

The man blinked at him. "You know of us?"

"I'm the same Xander that used to hunt beside Buffy in Sunnydale." The man blinked a few times. "I also fought your higher up's invasion ideas." He stared at him. "You're not crossing my gates."

"It won't obligate you, sir." He smiled.

Xander smirked. "Watch me destroy you with my wards, dude. Spit it the fuck out."

"Your parents have hired me."

"Good luck making them pay."

"They want what's rightfully theirs."

"There's no rightfully theirs."

"You came up with that idea under their roof as a minor."

"Yeah, not likely. I put out the first genie kit after I left. Sorry."

"I... You put out what?"

Xander smirked. "Go look me up." He stared at him. "Beyond that, my parents aren't getting a damn cent from me. Even if I paid them off to go the fuck away, I'd have them killed and eaten. Frankly, they're embarrassing the human race."

"You're not fully human," the lawyer sneered.

"I am fully human. I got exposed to mermaid taint in high school. If you don't believe me, ask Slayer Summers." The man blinked a few times, backing up. "Yeah, I'm *that* Xander." He smirked. "You have a better day before I hire a few dozen lawyers to come stomp on you like you're a fun toy."

"You put out that kit that made someone eat that mayor."

"Yup, I am that guy. That's how I fight apocalypse battles now. Now, you're taking me from my paying job. You have a great day somewhere else. And remember, don't come near the hunters. We get pissy about that." He closed the gate and walked off.

"I can make them settle for very little," he called after him.

"Unless you want me to have you eaten too, I'd flee in terror before I become the greatest evil ever told."

"I don't want to have to screw that mood out of you, Xander," TJ complained from the front door. "Just have someone eat the lawyer. That's all he's good for."

Xander took a kiss with a grin. "Actually, he's worth twenty grand from the FBI." He smiled. TJ looked up their number to call, sending the agent he talked to a picture of the guy from the gate camera. They found him that afternoon by chasing his car. TJ had the nice reward money within a few hours because they had found a few others that had been part of that law firm meeting with that first one.

***

"God damn it," TJ complained loudly.

"God bless you," Xander chirped from his office.

"I didn't sneeze," TJ complained, heading that way.

"It's to get the demons out of your head when they fly in during sneezes. I figured it'd send the ones that just took up residence too."

TJ gave him an odd look then sighed and shook his head. "That wasn't why I was swearing, Xander. I locked my music room from the inside and I can't get in. I didn't think about that when I was locking it away from Grams."

Xander dug out the key ring in the desk to toss over. "I had one made so I could sneak in and stalk you if you were hiding from my manly desires." He smiled.

"I might hide from the goofy moments but not from sex." He went to unlock the door then brought the keys back. "Thanks." He took a kiss.

"Welcome. My client's coming in about thirty minutes."

"That's fine. I'll be down there." He went back down there.

Xander finished pulling together his research and working on the outline of the template he'd need. His client was shady and would probably try to kill him instead of paying him but oh well. He had that problem fixed as well. That's why he was more picky about who he did wards and protections for. Sure, he could be evil sometimes but he wasn't a criminal.

***

TJ went home for a few weeks and nearly sighed in pleasure when he got off the plane. He went to his mother's office, ignoring his glaring brother. "I'm back."

"I can tell. You look tanned and happy." She kissed him on the cheek. "How is it going?"

"We're good together but I got home and it was like a weight came off me." He looked around then at her.

"You got that from your father."

"Great," he said dryly.

"Settling down drives some people nuts, TJ. I'm sure Xander knows that too."

"He's told me even if we break up for anything less than abuse I'd still be welcome back. A lot of people don't understand him so he doesn't really go out around people."

"Which means you can't ogle the others," she said.

"I didn't want that part of the heritage."

"Hmm. It's been eight months since you met him." He blinked, frowning some. She smiled and nodded. "That's longer than your father has ever held out. He couldn't go five months."

"That's good then, but I don't feel cooped up. When I'm there, sometimes I'm bored. I keep dragging him out of the house. He'd never been to a real zoo before. Just a short time at the one in Sunnydale for a class trip that got him possessed."

"Parents like his are like that." She fussed with his hair, making him frown and duck away. She laughed. "You're good to him, TJ, and I'm pretty sure he knows you've got at least a wandering eye. The fact that it doesn't feel constricting while you're there is a better sign."

"I know, but it's still weird. I'm not sure I can imagine years."

"So don't. Imagine a single year, which is in four months."

"That I can see."

"Some people plan for decades. Some people plan for weeks or months. Like sobriety, at first you count days then you count months."

"Yeah, I get that." He looked around then at her. "Sorry about Grams."

"I would've had her thrown out before then. She said she was blatantly trying to break you two up and she'll probably try again when we have dinner."

"She thinks I'm looking bad on you?"

"She's always thought you should do the more politically correct thing and have a trophy spouse that you play around on with your boyfriends."

"Xander can't be a trophy spouse. He works too much."

She nodded. "That happens at times. Does he let you take him out to play?"

"Sometimes he even suggests it because he's bored."

"That's wonderful."

"Thanks. Did you have these things with Dad?"

"A few times I wondered why I hadn't caved his skull in but by then it was too late, the wedding was already planned and mostly paid for." She grimaced, staring at him. He burst out laughing. "Seriously. The first time he cheated on me was six days before the wedding. He called it his last bachelor fling. I bought a shotgun and registered it then blatantly put it beside the bed once we got back from the honeymoon. He lasted four months." She rolled her eyes. "He wasn't the right one for me. We all knew that. You know when you've found one."

"How?"

"If you had to be stranded somewhere, would you want him with you?"

He considered it. "He gets bored and bouncy then has to do physical things. Plus he'd make sure we survived. I guess I would."

"If it was a fully stocked house in paradise but it was just you and one person?"

"I...." He considered it then shrugged. "I might. Yeah. He's ...there's some things that drive me nuts."

"That's love, my son. It happens to all of us." She smiled. "Don't listen to your father or grandmother. Be happy. I'm happy if you're a happy son."

"I'm a mostly happy son. His parents tried something in public and Xander sent them packing with a few snide words in their direction. The party we were at was most amused."

"They know about parents like that too. They happen all too often at our levels."

"Point. Thanks, Mom. Dinner tomorrow?"

"Dinner tonight?" she suggested with a smile.

"I was going to go out clubbing tonight."

"Your ex, the one that hid you like you were a dirty secret, got outed. He's looking to take you out so you can't talk about you two." He grimaced. "One of your friends called me to tell me he's been asking about you so he can remind you not to talk about your relationship."

"He's the sort of guy to drug me too," he said. She nodded. "Sure, dinner tonight." He smiled. "And maybe I'll think about selling the loft."

She smiled. "You could get something slightly nicer."

"For what my loft is worth I could almost buy up the street from Xander's house. That way I had my own area to chill out and relax in."

"Did you pay the taxes on it?" his brother asked from the doorway. "We've been told someone put a foreclosure paper on the doorway."

"I doubt that. I didn't have a loan or HOA dues." He left, going to his place to straighten that out. His mother's lawyer went with him to the bank to prove to them he hadn't taken out any sort of loan through them. High priced lawyers helped everything.

***

Xander looked at the people who came up to him at the restaurant they had chosen. Not that Xander was going to be paying for their lunches. They had their new lawyer with them. Xander stared at him. "At least you're not Wolfram and Hart like the last guy," he said dryly.

"I heard they got turned in by you."

"My boyfriend actually." He grinned. "He was most happy to help with that so they couldn't do another invasion." They sat down across from him. "You called this meeting."

"No legal representative today?" the lawyer asked.

Xander laughed. "I don't need one for this." The lawyer smirked. "Because they have not a legal leg to stand on."

"You were living with them when you made that first kit."

"No I wasn't. For that matter I didn't really live with them in a meaningful way for about two years before then. I slept at other places because of their drinking problem." The lawyer grimaced. "They can't prove I was ever there. The only things that came to their address for me was my medical card and any DHHR paperwork that may have been sent. The rest of it was sent to my rented PO Box. I rented it when I was sixteen."

"They won't allow you to do that."

"Sunnydale was a small town," Xander told him. "Everyone knew about their drinking problems. For that matter, state law didn't often apply in Sunnydale thanks to the old mayor." He grinned. "He didn't see a problem with it. Told the postal worker bluntly that I was probably ordering nudie magazines that I didn't want my drunk of a father or uncle to steal. Considering at that point in time he had nine DUI's that they did nothing about beyond probation they all knew about my family. My uncle had thirteen before they finally made him quit driving the ambulance. Mostly while driving the ambulance."

The lawyer winced. "That seems wrong."

"Welcome to Sunnydale's legal system," Xander said, getting comfortable. "Second, even if I had made money while underage, they are not legally entitled to any of it."

"They have a signed contract."

"Which would be illegal," Xander said. "Secondly, not even close. I never signed a single thing in my name for them." The lawyer presented it. Xander pulled out something to let him see the signature. "I faked theirs often enough to know that my father signed both of those. Not like they signed school paperwork or the paperwork I needed for after school jobs."

He compared the two signatures. "Hmm, that is similar. When did you sign this?" Xander flipped it over to point at the date. "I see it was signed later that year."

Xander nodded. "It was, yes." He smiled. "By the way, I've already moved from that apartment. That way they can't bother the current residents. They tried a few times even though their last lawyer found my current address somehow."

"They could've wanted a chat with their long lost son."

"Their son doesn't want a thing to do with them," Xander said bluntly. "I probably never will. Why would I want to be associated with such addicted people?"

"Your boyfriend drinks."

"Not around me. A few in the club and he's mostly sober by the time we get home. He knows how I feel about that and why."

"You owe us," his mother sneered.

"I owe you nothing. Ever."

"We raised you. We didn't have to."

"Yet you tried to sell me a few times," Xander said dryly.

"You can't prove that," she smirked.

"Unlike you, I know the value of keeping paperwork from government agencies. I've kept every single paper any agency sent at you about the whole family. That's how you found that sudden bit of paperwork for your medical cards that would've meant you lost it. I didn't want to have to deal with you when you got unhappy. I might've actually fought back. Of course I was eight so nothing would've happened to me if I had picked up that baseball bat that used to sit by the doorway." His father flinched. "Yeah, I'm the one who hid it from you before you used it on her again. Hmm, what a son I was." He looked at the lawyer again.

"We have a request to get the originals of those."

"You can have copies. You won't be getting any originals."

"That won't be good enough."

"Then take me to court. I'm not paying their court costs. Or them." He shrugged and smiled. "Beyond that, you have to have a judge to unlock CPS records first." The lawyer grimaced. "Or the Social Security records. Or the FBI records." The lawyer flinched, staring at him. "They tried to sell me to Armenians once. I have no idea who they were but agents in tacky suits showed up a few days later."

"That was a joke," his father complained. "They knew that."

"Yeah," Xander snorted. "They wouldn't pay the price you wanted them to. I heard you negotiating with them. We taped it. Willow gave it to the FBI. Pity she's now got an addiction."

"So do you," his mother sneered. "Plus unsuitable things like a boyfriend."

"I don't care what you think about my love life, Mother. You weren't asked for an opinion on it. Because I don't care about your opinion. I survived and escaped. Have fun with your life, because I don't care. You're not getting into mine. I'm not paying you off to go away. I'm considering this blackmail."

"That's such a dirty word," the lawyer said. "We prefer proper compensation."

"For being drunk and trying to kill me? I can give them proper compensation." The lawyer's eyes went wide and he scooted back unconsciously. Xander smiled, making himself look relaxed again. "I'll be damned if they're going to try this. You can get a judge. I still won't be paying them."

"Those kits don't work," his mother sneered.

"They do if you follow the instructions. You can't measure, but then again you never could cook. It does take those sort of skills and precision in how you draw the marks. It's a picky art. Almost everyone who's bought one has managed it. If you didn't that's all on you." He stood up. "You guys have a great day. I've had enough. I can't stand that alcohol stink that they're sweating out." He walked off.

"We'll see you in court, Mr. Harris," the lawyer called.

Xander turned and waved with a smile. "You do that." He walked off considering how evil he wanted to be. This was when he missed Cordy. She would've stopped him at a subtle level of evil. Instead he'd have to have some sense of evilness. He spotted a pap and walked over to them. "Which one are you with?" he asked politely.

"I'm not doing anything wrong."

Xander held up a hand. "I'm Xander Harris." The man winced. "And I don't care about you guys unless it's a battle. Then all I ask is you be respectful of any being's injuries on our side and make me look hot if you catch me. No, I have parents who just showed up wanting money."

The photographer put his camera down. "So why come to us?"

"I have them on tape negotiating to sell me when I was eight to some Armenians."

"Um.... Lawyer?"

"I have three." He smiled. "Theirs is a slimy dick and the last one had been Wolfram and Hart before TJ turned them in."

"Jeez. Huh. Um... the TMZ guy is a lawyer and a sleezeball."

Xander smiled. "Think he'd like that?"

"Does your boyfriend know? He might mind all that coming out."

"He's back at home and I don't have anyone to tell me I'm going too evil." He grinned his best good boy grin. "But it won't look like more than me discrediting them for being huge drunken assholes. His grandmother might even laugh her drunken ass off. He suggested I subtly get them away from me."

"Let me call their office to see if they can verify things and put them out there to help you, Mr. Harris. Is there another battle coming?"

"There's always a battle coming next year," Xander said dryly. "Or if Rosenburg gets her magic back before she handles the addiction. Again."

"We heard."

"I felt it. She hit me with black magic. I feel really sorry for her jailmates when she gets it back if she hasn't gotten it under control."

"Us too. I don't think they deserve her even if they're mass murderers," the photog said dryly. Xander nodded he agreed. He pulled out his phone to call. "Hey, I just got walked up to by Mr. Harris, who has drunk parents that just showed up with empty wallets. He's got papers and tapes. Including something that the FBI had to listen to. Yeah, that guy. He's here."

"And all that's at home in the magic vault. There's copies in the bank's safety deposit box so if they have it magiced it won't work," Xander said. Then he chuckled. "They tried that once already. "Pity about the rest of the Wolfram and Hart people."

The photog shivered. "I don't feel much sympathy for them with what they did but that's kinda evil, sir."

"Thank you. The one who would've told me to quit being so evil died before the battle in Sunnydale of her visions. I miss her."

The photog nodded. "I can do that. Can you show them?"

"Of course I can." He grinned. "I'm going home with a quick stop for milk actually. I'm sure he realizes where I live." He walked off.

"Yeah, he knows. Thanks, Mr. Harris."

"Welcome, guys. Thank you." He smirked back before getting into his navigator and driving off.

"He's in full evil mode, man," the photographer complained quietly. "They've totally made him miss the good guy side. Thanks." He hung up and went back to stalking celebrities. He had missed a few but that was fine. There were a lot of them out here today. It was a pretty day for beach sitting and shopping.

***

Gunn called up Xander the next day. "Cordelia would be really upset with how evil you went and Buffy's nearly crying, man. What did you do?"

"My parents wanted paid." Xander smiled at his speaker phone. "They're not happy I'm sure."

"Still too evil, Xander."

"But fun."

"Uh-huh."

"No one's here to tell me I'm too evil. I miss Cordy nagging me about evil."

"I can send someone to take her place," Gunn said. "That way you don't do it again. Oh, and we have realived people."

Xander looked at the phone again. "Are we sure it's them?"

"It's Wes, Xander."

"Oh, charming. The PTB?"

"Yes."

"Buffy tell him to tell them to stick it?"

"Twice now."

"Good. I'd feel the same thing."

"Got it. You coming in soon to help with the necessary winter shopping?"

"Can I just send money?"

"No. Money's great and all but you need out of the house anyway and TJ ordered me to find a way. Come help the kids."

"Yeah, I can be there tomorrow."

"Thanks." He hung up.

Xander got back to work, finishing the new protection necklace he was doing. If it worked for him he'd make one for Gunn's people and Buffy against Willow. He finally sighed and looked at his computer, which was loaded to his sales page at Amazon. He had six new genie kits being offered. He stared then burst out laughing. His parents had bought one of the old ones used. The new six had been sold out already. He decided to put out another three and set up the kits to be mailed out.

The first six were automatically mailed once they were paid for. He had an assistant in a small office that did that. She was protected when she was in there. She was probably the only being that drew demons worse than he did. She wrote back after dinner that she had sent out the other three he had couriered over. That was good and his bank account was more than healthy. Two of those kits worth would go to Gunn's people. They needed it a lot.
Though he found out his parents' lawyer had filed to lock his main account so they could go over that lawsuit. He took it out of another account instead and told his lawyers so they could counter that. They were happy to counter that actually.

***
Part 6 by Voracity2
Xander looked at the judge a few days later. "Yes, Your Honor?"

"Are you their son?"

"Unfortunately, as far as I know. My mother was drunk when I was conceived so there's no telling who she screwed to make me. I asked her that once and she said she didn't know, she didn't care, and why would it matter to me because I was going to end up just like him anyway. Thankfully I hardly ever drink."

The judge nodded, making that note. "We have a request for the originals of the forms you gave that reporter? And I do use that term loosely."

Xander smiled. "I told them they could have copies. The copies were in a bank deposit box that the lawyer had broken into." He handed over the forms from the bank. "That's what their investigators found about the break-in. It was handed over to the FBI. Also in there is the account of the hacking attempt at my accounts. Which seem to lead back to them because they asked for exactly, to the penny, forty percent of it."

The judge took those papers from the bailiff, grimacing as he looked them over. He looked at the other lawyer. "It does seem to lead back to your law firm, sir."

"I have no idea, sir. I did not order that."

An agent stood up. "We're taking him in for questioning after this hearing, Your Honor. We traced it to his assistant and secretary. We've traced the hacking to a Willow Rosenburg, who was Mr. Harris' former friend in high school and the one who told his parents where he was and how wealthy he was. We found her emails with a warrant." He handed that paperwork over. "Where might she be, Mr. Harris?"

"She violated her bail by taking Gunn's shelter hostage," Xander said dryly. "I had to demagic her again. You'd have to ask the LAPD where they have her."

"Thank you." He looked at the judge.

"This young woman took a shelter hostage?" the judge demanded.

"She's an addict, Your Honor," Xander said. "To her magic and the power it gives her. It makes her think she's the Goddess and she's wrong. She was telling Gunn, who runs a homeless shelter, that he shouldn't do that while he was tied in a chair with his helpers."

"Oh, I see. One of those." He handed the papers to the bailiff. "He can have those back and wait for this hearing." The agent nodded, settling into his seat again. "Mr. Harris, would you pay them something to go away?"

"Only if I could put a curse on it, Your Honor. I'm not supporting abusive drunks."

"It's said you do a few bad things yourself."

Xander shrugged. "Mostly I use those kits to handle problems, like making a problem that would counteract an apocalypse battle or start to weed out the weaker, lazy wannabe evil ones."

"You can?"

"They don't do their own research, Your Honor," Xander's senior lawyer said with a smile. "It has helped a lot of places. Young ones that would accidentally cause problems my client would have to fix can't because they're too arrogant to follow directions. Or they used the genie summoning kit for something useless that ended up taking them down. If you wish for a million dollars, the IRS shows up very often."

The judge burst out laughing. "I hadn't thought of that use."

Xander smiled and nodded. "The real power users, they do their own research. The same as I do for protections on hospitals and shelters. The young and wanting but not going to be more than an annoyance, they can try and a few have proven to themselves what they need to do. A few have used the genie kit to do better things and to better themselves with it. Some are smart enough to include that the IRS has already taken their cut. Some have given themselves greater power, which means they suddenly learned how to research. A few of them have become very talented and a great effecting force in the world."

"That's interesting." He made that note. "What if you pay them ten percent of what you earned before you were eighteen?"

"Why should I?" he asked. "They haven't earned it. I wasn't living at home when I made it."

"They have that contract."

"Which isn't his signature, Your Honor," his lead lawyer said. One of them handed over a file. "This is a sampling of Mr. Harris' handwriting through the last ten years. Including some things he forged for the school." The judge took it from the bailiff. "It's not his handwriting on that note and even then, he would've been sixteen. That means it's not a legal contract."

"It has a semi-legal status," the judge said. "Other parents have signed legal agreements with their children for things like paying rent."

"Yes but that wasn't for that and by the time that was supposedly signed Mr. Harris wasn't living at home most of the time. He'd show up one night a week to make sure everyone knew he was still there so no one got onto DHHR and he got punished for it."

"He lived where instead?"

"Different friends' couches," Xander said. "Some abandoned houses. Sunnydale's high death rate meant there were plenty open most of the time. My mail went to a PO Box outside of official things that had to be sent to the house. Not like the school cared if I forged signatures. They had met my parents in elementary school the one time they showed up and they tried to kill me for breaking up a fight and saving another kid. The principal was appalled at them for it. He turned them into CPS, which barely worked in Sunnydale, yet they showed up." He pointed at the file. "That's one of the first in there."

"Where are the originals?"

"In a magic proof safe. There's another six copies in there as well, some of the have official copies instead of just photocopies."

"So you have official copies of some things," he said. Xander nodded. "Why didn't you hand them to their lawyer?"

"I offered him copies. He tried to get smugly evil with me. Pity. There went all my patience and upped my amusement."

"You're amused by them?"

"I am. I'm not paying their lawyer and they signed a contract for soul pieces, Your Honor. I wouldn't have done it at sixteen. I wouldn't have done it at six. I wouldn't have done it for my drunk uncle either."

"Can you prove anything about their legal troubles? Their former town never reported those to the state."

"They'd have to answer for irregularities," the head lawyer said. He handed the bailiff the file he dug out of his briefcase. "On all three, your Honor. They got them mixed up a few times. Somehow they mixed up Mrs. Harris with one of the two males."

The judge shook his head as he read the files. He finally looked up. "The judges up there?"

"No clue," Xander quipped with a grin. "Or their dirty police department that was dirty to the former mayor. I'm just happy I don't usually have to deal with them. I know one had been upstate. He pulled me over for no reason on my way to Tahoe once. We had to remind him I was the other Harris and I didn't drink."

"Is he still an officer?"

"I saw an article stating he had been picked up in an underage prostitute sting. Apparently his hands were in the wrong teenage girl."

The judge nodded. "That's bad." He let the bailiff have the file. "Look them up." He went to his desk to do that. "There were a lot of drinking related charges. There was also the notice that Mr. Xander Harris had been arrested once."

Xander burst out laughing, shaking his head. "They thought my friend Jesse was me, Your Honor. He had shoplifted unsuccessfully at the comic book store. They tried to arrest him and his mother beat the officer in the head with something for daring to think her son was me. I pointed out I hadn't been there but she defended her son. The judge agreed Jesse wasn't me and according to the owner of the comic book store I hadn't been there. Sunnydale was a small town. He had seen me in there to drive a parent home."

"You were six."

"I know that." He shrugged. "The judge ordered me to learn how to drive when I was five. It was better than another DUI because he was really tired of seeing my family."

The judge stared at him. "Which judge?"

"Stephens."

The judge looked at his bailiff. "Committed suicide last year right before the judicial review panel got into him," the bailiff said. "Three others as well out of the seven total they had."

Xander shook his head. "It wasn't a suicide. One of the mayor's people was raising power and used them. The ME was one of his buddies and later got found out thanks to Angel's team."

The bailiff looked that up and showed the judge. "I see you're right. Who was Angel?"

"The head of the LA protection patrol until he died during the invasion."

"I see." He frowned and read over the results his bailiff found. "One's still working for the LA County Sheriff's department. Interesting." He put that aside. "We can talk to them later." He looked at the family. "I hate seeing things like this. Mr. Xander Harris." He looked up at him. "What are you going to do about this?"

"I'm going to sit back and watch them destroy themselves, Your Honor. If it was most others I'd help, but not them. Not with everything that's went on."

The judge nodded. "I can see that viewpoint. It's not very healthy."

"It's as healthy as I can get in my life."

"Point. Therapy?"

"Boyfriend."

"Fine." He looked at the others. "I find that contract may be valid and may not be valid but I find it unreasonable in this circumstance. I wouldn't pay them a red cent either. Mr. Xander Harris will pay them one hundred dollars each." Xander stared at him. "Without a curse on it. That way they cannot come back."

"That almost assures they'll come back," Xander's lawyer said. "They tried blackmail this time, Your Honor. Next time they'd probably try worse."

"They are not allowed to come back."

"People like them always come back, the same as they did this time," Xander said. "If I must I will but if I see them ever again I feel the need to assert my self defense in a fatal manner." He looked at them. They looked disgruntled. "Your choice of course." His mother stomped out. He stared at his father. "Well?"

"I'll get you, boy. You owe us for raising you."

"That's what parents are supposed to do and you failed at it," Xander said. His father yelled and tried to lunge at him but Xander let the chair catch him and then kicked him in the ass as he tripped over it. "I'm not going to spill your blood in this courtroom. I don't want that sort of karma on me. If you die, you die. You have fun with that." His father tried to stab him so he dodged it and broke his hand. "That was stupid." He tossed the knife in front of the judge's bench. Xander took out his wallet and tossed five twenties on his father then walked off. "Have a great life." His father screamed and tried to hurt him again. Xander looked at the bailiff as he held the man off. "Well?"

"If you assault him he can press charges," the judge said.

"I'm pressing charges against him for it." He slugged his father, knocking him out. "If I go to jail, I'll pay the fine."

The judge shuddered at the coldness. "Process the paperwork to arrest the father for multiple attempted assaults in my courtroom with weapons. He's not supposed to have one knife, much less two."

"Yes, Your Honor," the bailiff said, walking over to pick up the older Harris and cart him off with help from the other guards.

Xander nodded and left, going back to his house. Outside someone screamed and came at him with a knife. "Are you stupid?" he demanded. He ducked under the blow and came up to knee the guy in the gut then hit him down the stairs. "Thanks, I needed something stimulating today," he said sarcastically. "Anything else you want to try? And who sent you anyway? I know you're not a hunter in those dress clothes." He looked at the staring officers. "He's not a hunter."

"Are you demonic?" one demanded.

"No, I'm Harris. They hate me for protecting the hospitals and shelters."

"Oh, you're him. No, he's not a hunter in those dress shoes." He went to arrest the guy. "He's mumbling something about his boss is going to be mad."

"If I know who his boss is I can make sure of that," Xander said dryly. The agent dragging his parents' lawyer out paused to help the officer figure out who that was. "Any idea so I can go talk to them about their delusions?"

"He's got a security clearance," the agent said.

"Hm." Xander walked down there. "I'm dating a guy from DC who has political parents," he said quietly.

The agent nodded. "I've seen you two in the magazines, sir. I can look into that. Officer, help me get them back to the office please."

"Sure, Agent. I'll need a statement from you, sir."

"That's fine. It's not the first I've done." The officer grimaced but hauled off the groaning person. Another officer came over with his hand on his gun. "That officer wanted a statement about that idiot attacking me."

"Any idea why?"

"No." Xander shook his head. "It had nothing to do with the demon hunters network. The agent seemed to have an idea. All I know is I came out after having to fight off the greedy drunk parents and he screamed and tried to stab me." Xander checked his stomach and chest. "He cut my shirt. I need to get back to training." He looked at the officer, who was now giving him an odd look. "I'm Xander Harris, Officer."

"Oh, you're him."

"Yeah, I'm him. Which one did you hear about?" he asked with a slight grin. "The dragon and demons at LAX?" The guy nodded. "I'm glad the baby dragon got home and the peaceful demons were saved but I was in a foul, needing a nap mood that day. I was about to break out in evil. Thankfully the officers were okay, no matter what the other hunters wanted."

The officer shook his head. "You were here today for a hearing?" he asked, taking out his PDA device to take the statement.

"I have drunk parents who found out I have money. They tried to get some."

The officer nodded. "We see that a lot around here." He finished the statement, letting Xander read it over and sign it. "Thank you, sir, have a better afternoon."

"You too, Officer." He pointed with a cough. "That's probably a problem."

The officer looked back and sighed. "LAPD!"

Xander smiled and waved. "Demon hunters society member. Hi, why are you trying to hold a woman hostage?" The man fled. The officer ran after him. Xander left, going to see Gunn for a few minutes. The guys all glared at his jaguar until he got out. "I had to look nicer when I took the 'rents to court." He leaned on the hood. "Can you tell Gunn I need to be invited to sparring practice again, guys. I nearly got cut earlier by an idiot with a knife. He managed to get my shirt and I wasn't tired that time. I should be better." They nodded. "Thanks." He got back in and drove off.

Gunn's second-in-command looked at the other ones. "Hammond helped him pick them out." The others all nodded. TJ was all about the status things. So of course his boyfriend got a jaguar. Even a used one. "Usually Xander shows up in the navigator instead."

"I remember when we had Rosenburg," one complained. "Why is she out?"

"No clue."

"Think he knows?" another asked.

"No clue," he repeated but he sent that message to Gunn. Xander came back a few minutes later, handing over necklaces on a chain. "Thanks, man."

"Welcome. It's against more powerful magic. Just in case she loses her shit again. I've got one in there for Connor, Gunn, and Buffy too. If I'm short on you guys, because I only thought there were ten of you, let me know? I can make some more easily." They nodded.

"We'll need three or four more, plus maybe a few for girlfriends," one said. "I'm not sure what she'd do about that."

"She was dating a nice girl until she went to memory spells on her," Xander quipped.

"Yeah, please? Another seven or so?"

"I can do that in the next few days. I've got an extra one started." They nodded and put them on, heading off to do things and warn the others. "Thanks for the warning, guys." He headed to the bank to let them know. His account hadn't been breached again, that was nice of her. He went to the Community House. He walked in. "No one told me Rosenburg was out of jail."

The demon council stared at him. "What?" one demanded.

"One of Gunn's people told me Rosenburg's out. I've been making a lot of protection necklaces against her going full blown pissy mood again and handed them over."

"How did she get out?" one of them demanded. Xander shrugged. "When did you hear?"

"Forty minutes ago. I stopped in to have Gunn invite me to sparring lessons. Someone nearly managed to stab me earlier at the courthouse. I need more training and gym time. One of them texted me on the way out toward my house."

"I'll find out why she was released," one said, getting up to go to her office to call someone in the PD. She came back a few minutes later. "Someone intervened to get her out." She looked at Xander.

"Not me! I want her to get help, not get out of help."

"It came from DC."

"I'll call TJ but he wouldn't have either."

"It came from his father.

Xander called him, putting him on speaker.

"Speak to me, I'm bored," TJ quipped, sounding happy.

"My parents won a total of a hundred bucks each and my mother stomped off before receiving it. Someone with a security clearance out of DC tried to stab me at the courthouse, and your dad's people got Willow released. I was having a happier day earlier, and could use a cuddle now."

TJ groaned. "Seriously?"

"Yup. Are you nearby for a cuddle?"

"Not for another six days, Xander. I'll talk to him. Are you okay otherwise? Has she tried to kill you again?"

"Not yet. I gave over some protection necklaces I made. Yours is in the mail."

"I'll be watching for it in a few days. Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm tired. I need to do more training. The guy managed to cut my shirt earlier." He looked at it then at his phone. "Want me to come to DC?"

"No, I'll see you in six days. When I get in I'll cuddle. Otherwise you have to put up with my grandmother."

"Eeeeh," he said then sighed. "It's almost worth it."

TJ laughed, a happy sound. "Thank you, that was a great compliment. I'll talk to someone about two of those. Your parents?"

"Their lawyer got arrested for hacking the bank and hiring someone to kill the records I had in the safety deposit box."

"Great! So you had an okay morning and then you went to deal with stress, and now you're cuddly?"

"I am, yeah."

"Am I on speaker phone?"

"Yup. I'm at the council's meeting room about Rosenburg."

TJ snorted, but he still sounded pleased. "Go get a really good, fatty dinner and I'll call you later. Let you read me a bedtime story?"

"I can do that. You be safe in case there's more of them?"

"Of course I am. Mom's a bit pissed off about some things and it's not even my fault. This'll just please her to no end. Be safe, Xander."

"You too, TJ." He hung up and put his phone back, smirking at the looks he got. "We're cute together."

"You are," the head of the council agreed. "Very cute together. Go get dinner and then workout in your home gym. She can't get in there."

"I hope. Depends on what she sucked on to get power this time. If she got one of D'Hoffryn's or their level of demon to suck off of, there's no telling where she can go."

"Why have that thought?" one of the councilors asked.

"No idea," Xander admitted. "I had the same sort of idea to put the protection necklaces into the car too."

They all nodded. "We can check," they decided, all nodding. "Go home, be safe." Xander nodded, going home to be safe. The council looked at each other.

"He has visions," one said quietly. "We've known that for years." They all nodded. "It's possible it was that."

"Or that someone's not allowed to personally grant a wish but it's acting anyway," another agreed. They all sighed and went to figure things out. One summoned the slayers in to make sure they were still all right. Faith was upstate handling a problem with a few of the good hunters. Buffy walked in pouting. "Are you all right?" that councilor asked.

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"Willow's out," one said. "We do not want her in this community, still."

Buffy grimaced. "She said she's going to rehab and therapy. She's trying, guys."

"Our patience," the head of the council said gently. "Because we do not believe she is willing to do what she must do to heal. It is a hard thing and she would have to nearly give up magic completely until she healed the damage the black magic did. That could take years, Slayer."

Buffy grimaced. "She said she didn't have to. Giles won't talk about it."

They shook their heads and one of the magic using ones came to talk to her about that, and about that incidental thought that Xander had. They couldn't get one of D'Hoffryn's people to check.

***

TJ walked up to his father and his father's present girlfriend in the restaurant they were having a date night in, smiling at her then looking at his father. "You got a major menace out of jail. She's nearly been an apocalypse battle on her own, yet you got her out of jail. She had violated her bail by holding a homeless shelter hostage and you got her out of jail," he finished quietly. "The whole of LA would like you to go back in time and fix that before the whole city dies thanks to her. Also, your former helper sent someone to kill my boyfriend and I'm going to do it to you instead." He walked off, going to find the guard outside, who had guarded him once. "Did you guys get Douglas for sending the assassin at my boyfriend?" he demanded.

The Secret Service guard blinked but called that in, nodding. "Yes, we have, Mr. Hammond. Why else did you show up today?"

"Somehow Dad got Rosenburg out of jail. The whole community, normal, hunter, and demon, are all worried about what she'll be doing next."

"Shit," he said, calling that in. "The office out there is said to be aware, they have moved your boyfriend out of the area, with his vault. We were horrified by his weapons storage area as well."

"I only saw the outside of it."

"Not that one. He had a larger one, Mr. Hammond. We're going to talk to him to see why."

"Did you see the invasion?"

"Yes."

"Xander wanted really hard to have been able to use artillery then."

"Us too. I hope he never has to use it."

"Me too. Is he okay?"

"Yes. He's out of the area and in Las Vegas at the moment. His vault was put into a sub realm somehow." TJ nodded. "Can she destroy LA?"

"Yeah, she can. Xander said it depends on what she pulls on. She's the one that closed the hellmouth each time it acted up. He also thinks she might be able to pull from the Devon Coven without their permission or acceptance. We had a talk about her one night after she went back to jail. Kind of out of the blue."

"Sir, your boyfriend is known to have visions," he said quietly. "Did he have one?"

"No. I've seen those. Is there one that comes up as random thoughts? I have no idea. If so, he might have that kind too."

"Great. We'll alert the office out there."

"Xander was working on protection charms against her but it was going to Gunn's crew because they'd be hit first."

"Wonderful. We could all use those." TJ nodded. "I'll let you know if we find out more, sir, and if we have to move your boyfriend out here. If you hear something please let me know."

"I can do that. Thank you. Have fun with that problem."

"I hope it's an easy one." He watched TJ walk off and get into his car to drive off. He called that in and Xander admitted he didn't know if there was a sort of vision that way or if the thoughts might be prompted. The various agents on duty all got called into a conference call with the LA office. This might be bad. Especially with his last bout of random thoughts that worried him.

***

Dawn woke up with a gasp, looking around. She called her sister. "Get out of LA!" she shouted. "Now! Right now, she's going to explode at being thought of as unable to control herself. She's going to set off something huge. We're going to be lucky if she can put back the city. Get yourself and Gunn's people moving, now, Buffy. I just had a vision! Now!" She listened. "No, it was daytime. Just...go. Thanks." She hung up and called Xander. "I hate visions. How do you cure this headache? She's going to get huffy about being thought of as unable to control herself." She relaxed. "I can do that. Thanks, Xander. Where are you? I didn't see you. Oh, Vegas. That's cool. Call the hunters?" She yawned. "Yeah, I'm going to crash. Good luck." She went back to sleep, dropping the phone.

Halfrek appeared, hanging up the phone for her. "I'm sorry I had to prompt that vision, child, but it was necessary. Someone had to have it and he's too guarded." She tucked Dawn back in then went to stare at Xander from the outer room area.

Xander spotted her and came out. "Halfrek, another one that needs a protection?"

"All of LA. The vision was prompted."

"Is my random thought problem one?"

"No, it's your subconscious pointing out ideas. It knew she'd be one. This time it's a bit self fulfilling. Call the hunters. They won't listen to us."

"I've already started to call them. Can you talk to Gunn?"

"I can. Connor is still one of mine."

"Have them get to the council and have the council start the protections we put up during the last wildfire. That should help protect a lot of the city, including downtown."

She lit up and hugged him. "Thank you, Xander." She went to tell them that herself. "People." The whole council looked at her. "A vision was prompted to Slayer Summers' sister. Rosenburg is going to lose it. Harris suggested the protections you put up during the last wildfire."

"That will be a lot of problems holding it for over a day," one of them said. "Do we know when?"

"It was seen during daylight. We're not sure."

They nodded. "We can handle that and go on a sudden outing as a community tomorrow. Thank you, Halfrek."

"Welcome. Protect the hatcheries." She went to check on Connor. "We saw it during a daytime."

"So we have hours at least, if not days," Gunn said. She nodded. "Could it not be a true one? Dawn hasn't had one."

"D'Hoffryn had someone prompt it, Gunn." He slumped but nodded. "You need it to start today."

He nodded. "We can work on that. Is it tomorrow?"

"No idea." She looked up. "Two days." Gunn nodded. "Tell the community." He called that in. She went to tell Xander so he could tell the hunters. They'd never listen to a demon, even her kind. If someone changed it to discredit them, then they'd handle it.

If they moved it up, the vision would hold true.

***

TJ was out in LA, thanks to the Secret Service sending him to handle things. They wouldn't let Xander get close to her to handle her, just in case it got emotional or something, or so they said. They said he could handle it so he was. He was taken to where Willow was being held. He stared at her. "Willow." She glared at him. "Everyone's been having visions."

"I'm not bad!" she shouted. "I'm not out of control."

"And yet you're acting like a toddler," he said bluntly, staring at her until she looked away. "Everyone with visions, from Dawn on down, has seen you destroying most of this city. They saw you doing it today."

She shook her head. "I'm not. I have more control than that. I know I do."

"Which is important for any addict," he agreed, moving closer. "But you're glowing."

She looked at herself then frowned. "No I'm not." He pulled her closer to where he was, which was a darker part of the room. "Oh, I am."

"You are." He stared at her. "Addicts have to learn to handle the urges. In your case, you need to let it all go for a bit. Before you destroy the city and maybe parts of the state. Remember, most of the country eats off of this state's output."

She swallowed, shaking her head. "I don't have any extra power. My shields aren't down."

"How do you know?" he asked patiently. "Xander said there's ways to check yourself."

"I knew you're Xander's boyfriend."

"Yup and I got sent because I know addiction." She glared. "I've had some problems myself and so do some of my family. Xander actually saved my ass one night when I got given demon drug laced cocaine. I was really lucky Lorne sent him to hit on me."

She blinked a few times. "Lorne, that Host guy, set you two up?" He smirked and nodded. "Huh. I thought he picked you up in a sleazy club."

"No, we just go to those to have fun. Can you check yourself?"

"I...."

"Let me guess, that's a beginning lesson you skipped?" he asked dryly. He sent Xander a text message, getting one back almost immediately. "Scan yourself like you're sick, Rosenburg. That's what he said."

She closed her eyes and did that, wincing at the things she saw. "I'm holding the hellmouth." She concentrated. "I can't let it go. It won't let me."

"Is that what's giving you that glow that's getting darker?" he asked dryly.

She looked at herself then sighed and tried again. "I..."

"Let's get you up there. If you destroy the town more, no one's going to mind and it won't turn LA into an island." He waved at the guards. "We need to get her to Sunnydale so if she does vent it won't hurt anything."

"We hadn't thought about that." They walked her out with TJ following. "Sir?"

"They won't let Xander come handle it. They think the former friendship will cause problems and they don't want to see the people that help guard the city depressed. So they sent me and then told Xander. He threw an awesome fit I'm told."

"Probably. Young guys are often emotional," one of the guards said.

***

Xander leaned his head against the wall then looked at the guards. "She's going to need help dumping that."

"Sir," one of the guards said. "You have to stay here."

"If she hurts TJ I'm going to destroy her and whatever she's standing on," Xander vowed. "I protect people, especially my boyfriend." They nodded they understood that. Xander looked at his phone then called in one contact. "It's Xander Harris and it's a bigger emergency," he said in greeting. "No, Rosenburg's been sucking up black magic and can't figure out how to dump her link to the hellmouth in Sunnydale. TJ said they're taking her home so she can't destroy most of the state." He listened.

"Yeah, that's her. Actually, Sunnydale's a ruin now; it can't hurt it much more. His idea. No, he doesn't deal with that stuff. Magic kind of freaks him out." He listened. "TJ's message said she didn't realize she was glowing in the dark or how to feel her own magic to find the problems." He listened. "Please. Before I have to get there and stop her somehow. Thank you. No, we've evacuated half the city with the visions that came about her.

"The urge to panic about her is still around too. No, I let her be arrested the last time, she had people hostage to nag them for doing the right thing. No, Gunn about the shelter his people run. Exactly!" He sighed. "Yeah, I used that potion on her and it should still be in effect. Would that matter? No, she's never had control. She went from floating pencils to closing the hellmouth to resticking Angel's soul curse within six months. Then I left shortly afterwards.

"She just picked up books and stole them from Giles from what I heard. I walked because I became an unwanted being. Buffy actually joked with a few vampires she wanted me eaten instead of having me help her on patrol. Willow grew during it though she's always had problems with seeing ways other than what she wants. No one ever told her 'you can't do that' because her parents weren't ever there. Yeah, that's her parents," he said with a grim smirk at the wall. "Exactly, and now she's going to explode. We're hoping it doesn't make LA county its own island."

He nodded, making notes on a piece of paper. "I can tell TJ that. No, the Secret Service sent him instead of me because they didn't want one of the protectors that injured or depressed according to them but if she hurts TJ I'll call in that owed favor with D'Hoffryn." He smiled. "Yup. He does. Two actually since I saved one of his people from a slave auction the other week. Oh, yeah, that was me too. TJ was back in DC, I was bored. It's the right thing to do. Beyond that, how do I tell him to help her or can you send someone to help her without smiting her? Because I'm pretty sure that'll mean that hellmouth explodes in an uncloseable way. That was my vision last night." He nodded. "Thank you. Let me know if I can help you with a problem. Please. Thanks." He hung up and sighed. "He'll go help her." He sent a message to TJ.

The guard looked at him. "What could that D'Hoffryn do?" he asked casually.

Xander smirked evilly. "He's the demon lord over the vengeance demons." The agent shuddered. "Yeah. And he owes me twice now." He went to stare outside toward Sunnydale. This was bad. Gunn's people were up the hotel from them so maybe it'd be safe later on.

***

TJ looked over as someone stomped up to them. "You must be the guy that Xander said was coming."

The man nodded. "He did," he said in a slight British accent. "You step back before Xander vows to avenge you by destroying people."

TJ rolled his eyes. "We're not that together yet."

The mage looked at him. "Harris gets deeply affected by some people. That's why he helps some of Gunn's people more than most think. A few of the kids they protected were just like him only now they got saved." TJ blinked a few times. "He's a good boy. Go sit down before he has to mourn."

"I think I'm the voice of addictions to help her get right."

"You could be. That's a good reason to send you, that and you wear protections against her." Willow was staring at him. "He could have sent someone else," he said dryly. "Like Ethan. The dear chap is foaming and locked up right now so he can't come smite you for Janus' pleasure." He moved closer. "I'm Mage Archibald Maypers, Miss Rosenburg."

"I worked with the Devon coven," she said.

"They're weak and clearly messed you up more." He took her hand. "How did you link to that sacred temple?"

"Um, it's by the coven? They sent me there to meditate once."

"They clearly thought you had more training than you do. Let's start back at the beginning so we can free you before you do as the visions state and send this state into the ocean."

"Might cure some of the drought but not a great idea," she muttered, looking at the hole. Then at him. "How do I let that go?"

"We'll start with freeing you from all of those." He walked her to some rubble to sit with her and teach her how to touch her magic and let it go.

TJ started to scratch. "Something's growing. I'm feeling this urge to run."

The mage considered it then nodded. "That's a really large demon showing up."

"I can fight that," Willow said. "I helped Buffy for years."

The mage looked at her. "Which will create a wave of magic that will send this state into the ocean," he told her. "We will handle it with you however." She nodded. "TJ, go ahead and go. You can talk to her tomorrow about the true path to getting clean. Boys, take him before something dangerous happens." They nodded, walking TJ off. He looked at her.

"He's not like us. He's like Xander, normal."

He snorted. "Xander Harris not normal, Miss Rosenburg. He never has been. He soaked up an amazing amount of this hellmouth's energy before he walked away from you and afterward he turned his unique skills into a method of problem correction that most don't even realize." She grimaced. "It works, trust me." She nodded. They went back to her dumping the power. When the demon appeared, she let it go on him instead while the mage channeled it. The demon died and they finished it off by sunup. She was free of the hellmouth and all the other links but she was still full of magic. "Now to teach you to dump it before you become sacrificed."

"Was Xander?"

"He saved himself and destroyed them," he said bluntly, staring at her. "You cannot fight that same way. He learned before he left. You learned to float stakes. That's not exactly a helpful skill in the real world." She huffed but he taught her how to dump the excess magic.

"Can I channel it into rain?"

"Only if you wish to flood these remains and not the areas that truly need it."

"Can we go there?"

"No."

"Fine."

"The protections that hold the radiation in are holding your powers in, Miss Rosenburg."

"Can't you call me Willow? I hate being their kid."

"Your parents are a trauma you will have to deal with but I can do so. Now, let's get back to dumping it, Willow."

"Yes, sir."

***

An agent walked up to where the hunters were gathering. "How do we fight the giant worm? One came up when her doing whatever created an eclipse."

"Is it over fifty feet long?" Xander asked. Everyone was staring at him. The agent nodded, showing him the picture. "That's what Mayor Wilkins turned into. You have to remove the head. Buffy was going to blow up the school with him in it to do that. Vesuvius did the other known one. He must've taken advantage of the sudden eclipse because the last step can only happen during that."

"That's an ascension?" one of the hunters asked, looking at the pictures. "Huh. That's gross."

"Yeah, it is. Wilkins was about ninety feet. He chose to become the biggest version," Xander said. Buffy stomped over. "Someone doing an ascension took advantage of it."

"Great." She looked then at the agent. "Have fun with the artillery."

"I'd suggest something like the tank you guys stored in LA for the next invasion," Xander said. "Blow below that dent. Or just pulp the head."

The agent nodded, calling that in. He got live feed from it. The hunters watched, even the few stupid ones that hated Xander and Buffy. "Jesus," one said, backing away a few steps.

"Yup, that happened at my high school graduation," Buffy complained. "Then Xander's plan came in to fight him so we didn't have to use the senior class." Xander smirked at her. "Did you ever graduate?"

"Yeah, I did correspondence classes and graduated a year late thanks to Sunnydale being so far behind."

"Oh. That's good. Mom would've been proud," she said quietly. "Have you seen Dawn?"

"She's up the road at her apartment," Xander said with a point. "She just started at UNLV and they're here."

"Cool. Maybe I'll stop in to nag her about boys and stuff. Mom would've."

"Your mom didn't nag that much," Xander said, looking at her.

"To you. We got it a lot. It's how she proved she loved us."

He patted her on the arm. "Talk to her about boys instead."

"I can do that. I hope she finds one since I can't." They watched the tanks fire on the demon worm. One hit a building when the demon worm moved. The other one pulped the demon's head and they took artillery to make sure it was off. "At least he couldn't eat anyone," Buffy said. "Ours ate the principal and we all cheered because the guy was a troll."

Xander nodded. "Yes he was. I sent him a 'congratulate me for making my first million' card to annoy him." He grinned at her. She hit him on the arm. They all looked toward LA when a rumbling started. "Earthquake?" he asked quietly.

"Please let it be natural," Buffy begged.

"Release of magic," one of the hunters said, looking at his protection necklace Xander had made him.

Xander looked and nodded. "Not chaos magic though." Buffy relaxed. "I wonder what they breached."

"Maybe the rest of Wolfram and Hart's sacrifices," Buffy said. "Gunn had to save some of them." The agents all stared at her. "What?"

"We never heard a thing about that."

"You're agents. Of course not. That would've been LAPD's job and they walked off shuddering."

"If they're kidnaped its ours," one of the agents told her.

"Oh. Well, ask Gunn. He'd know." They went to find him to ask him about that.

"They breached a temple to a goddess," one of the agents said, holding his earpiece.

"There's a few in Sunnydale," Xander said. "One to Proprexia or something like that. One to an ancient demon queen who was over nurseries. That's under the former elementary school. It's what kept Wilkins from eating out of it. The other's under the bandstand in the park and it's to a party god of some kind."

"It's in LA," the agent said.

"Oh, then you've got seven," Xander quipped. "Four temples to various Gods and Goddesses. One to an off-world deity that the portal making ones go to and where they put their immigration portals. One to Discord in Hollywood to try to channel it. There's one to Aphrodite too but I'm not sure where. It was created by some B-level actresses back in the thirties."

"Wow," Buffy said. "Could you always do that?"

He looked at her. "I did the spell to read the languages Giles had books in. The same as he did on Willow."

"You did it on yourself?" she asked.

He smiled and nodded. "Yup. Not that hard. Potion based and he didn't use that part so hers faded as she learned it."

"Huh. Can you learn it without that?"

"I can read nine languages without it, Buffy. I could read four when I left Sunnydale." She slumped, staring at him. He grinned. "Yeah, me." He looked at the hunters. "I know a lot of you know Latin."

"You bet," one agreed. "That spell?"

"Not that hard. I can find you a copy."

"Thanks," another said. "How many languages are there?"

"Ninety that you see examples of from demon societies," Xander said. "Plus all the human ones."

"Ninety?" Buffy asked. "Giles said thirty."

"I have examples of seventy-four in the vault," Xander said. He smirked at her. "All really cheap but useful."

"Huh. Can Giles look at those?"

"He never asked."

"I'll let him know." She walked off calling him. "It's me, we're okay. Xander called someone to help Willow besides his boyfriend." She looked at Xander. "Who did you ask?"

"Archibald Maypers."

"Some guy named Archibald Maypers." She blinked. "He's choking."

"That's because he's the guy above Ethan," Xander quipped. "And he's a mage."

"Oh. Okay." She waited until Giles quit coughing. "Are you okay?" She nodded. "As long as he helps her, Giles. Xander said he has examples of seventy-four demon languages in his vault. He said you never asked. When can you get the vault back up?"

"As soon as I get home and if the subrealm is slightly broken by all that I'll have to make a deal with the demonic mafia to get it all back but they don't want it. It'd make them work harder." The hunters were staring at him. "A lot of portals are tuned to go there if they break as a safety measure. Otherwise it's lost into the void. And if it's lost, we've got bigger problems than that demon worm."

"What did you have in there?" one of the hunters demanded.

"I have seventy parts of various demons that can't be destroyed but they're needed to call back fifty-two demons." They blinked. "Including a few goddess level ones. Like Chiana." One of the hunters stared, shoulders slumping. He grinned. "I've got sixteen stuffed artifacts with everything from a few imps to genies to two possessing style demons."

"Like Moloch?" Buffy asked. "The one we put on the internet by accident?"

"Yup, and he's now on Match.com." He grinned at her. "Spotted him one day. He asked me if Willow was still around. He misses her." She groaned. Xander looked at the hunters. "I've got all my research materials in the outer levels. In the very inner area I've got three I summoned and trapped because I stopped the idiot doing it," he said with a pointed look at one guy. "So he couldn't call them up instead."

"I beat my son for that until he ran away to be a priest," he admitted. "And my daughter got some too even though she didn't help. Three?"

"Yeah. He wasn't the only one. One of my former coworkers before I made decent money was doing one at work. I hated that hotel's manager a lot but not enough to let it take all the guests hostage. The other one I found out Wolfram and Hart were summoning and summoned it first. He thanked me and agreed to stay down there because his wife was trapped in a vase near where he was. I moved her closer so they could chat."

Buffy looked at her phone then hung it up. "He went back into filthy, Ripper language. I don't need to know how guys his age used to swear." She walked off. "I'm going to visit my sister."

"I can drive you," one of the younger hunters said, following her. "Before my mind rots."

Xander grinned and waved at their backs. "Don't worry, I told the succuba following you that you weren't interested."

"Thanks, Harris."

Xander looked at the others and shrugged. "She tried to entice TJ too. Pity but I gave her to someone else who wanted a playmate then let the LAPD watch what the serial killer wanted her for."

"No wonder you don't let people into your vault," one agent said.

Xander smirked at him. "Those are the nicer things in there. Of course I wouldn't." The hunters all groaned. "I'm keeping them out of harm's way. Because if I have them no one can use them."

"Can we make sure that demonic mafia group can't use them?" one of the older hunters sighed.

Xander called them. "It's Harris. I'm checking to make sure I don't need to make a deal to get my vault back."

The demon snorted. "We made sure it would not rip or banish things to our realms, Harris. We like you keeping it all out of harm's way, including our higher up that is an annoyance who wanted to do drugs. Your house is all safe. So are the refuges and the nurseries."

"They didn't move them?" Xander demanded.

"They did, but the protections held. Gunn needs to do some cleaning up. The protections held but the attempted ascending one hit the shelter with his tail. Plus the wave of magic from the exposure of those temples."

"The ones in Sunnydale or the ones in LA?" Xander asked.

"Ours. They're not pleased. It woke up one. Are you local?"

"Las Vegas. The agents insisted. Can it be diplomatically solved?"

"It can, but we do not excel in that and all the council is gone."

"TJ's local somewhere. Agents had him to talk to Willow about addiction things."

"I will have him found. Thank you, that may save us all." He hung up calling out to find TJ Hammond. He could talk to the Goddess about going back to sleep.

Xander put his phone up. "They're actually really nice guys, just really tough and a warrior culture. They're only mafia related by structure. It made sense to them."

The hunters all nodded, giving him looks like he was crazy. But he was used to it from them.

***

TJ made it back to DC the next day, after another talk with Willow about how to handle getting clean. He walked up to his mother and hugged her briefly. "Thank you for teaching me what diplomacy means. I needed it."

"For that witch?"

"For the goddess that witch accidentally woke up," he said. "Xander suggested me to talk to her since no one in the community could from where they were hiding from that witch. Apparently no one else in LA has tact." He walked off. "I'm going to nap then talk to my boyfriend about threatening people if I got hurt."

"Boyfriends do that, darling." She smiled at his back. He just waved a hand. She went to giggle in her office while getting reports. The Secret Service was most complimentary about her boy. Her older son was amazed and pissed but oh well. It had been a good job.

***

Agent Toliver showed up after Xander had the vault checked over, staring at him. "Let me in please, Mr. Harris."

"You know the system won't let me do that and me bringing it down to include you as I rebuild it means it'll be vulnerable for a day and a half."

"Just inside please." Xander put the cuff on his arm and he walked in. "You're keeping three demons summoned?"

A demon leaned out of a side room, staring at him. "It means others cannot summon us to do icky things they want us do. They didn't even offer me willing sacrifices, as I desire. I didn't want their cast-off slaves." He pulled back, cuddling his wife's vase.

Xander looked at the agent, shrugging. "He's right."

"That's dangerous."

"Only if they find someone to break the protections. Which means it'll go back to that sub-realm or possibly the demonic mafia's realm if it totally breaks things."

"Can we prevent it from going there?"

"Yeah but that means it's totally gone into the void and that means those parts I'm keeping people from getting to can be gotten to and all my research stuff is gone."

"Okay, that's probably bad."

"Considering what can be put back together and come down to enact their revenge? Yes, it is," the demon said. "At which point in time my wife and I will gladly fade away so we don't have to see what they do to the humans."

Xander pointed with a grin. "He's very wise too. Philosophers used to sacrifice themselves to him."

Agent Toliver stared at him. "Really?" Xander walked off and came back with a book to show him. "Oh, they did." The demon laughed. "Fine." He handed the book back. "How do we stop that from happening again?"

"Most of the community has differing protections and they're getting together about those things. The regular humans? I'd suggest they maybe talk to someone like the community's protection specialists about how to protect important buildings. The ones I did in the hospitals would've held against most of it but nothing can fully protect against a wave of magic. It'd be like protecting against a water wave."

"Can we end whatever she was pulling on?"

"Sure, if you can heal the structure of this realm so there's no more rip. Which ...maybe some day some physicist will figure that out and work with a mage to do it. I can't. None of the mages I know can. We're not advanced enough to do that yet and the few demon realms that might've been have been decimated by wars over the knowledge and how to use it."

The demon leaned out. "There's one that may be able to help but they consider humans to be fun toys and snacks so they wouldn't." He sat back up again. "Xander, we're bored."

"I got you guys new coloring books." He went to find that box, carrying it in there. They smiled and patted him then picked out the ones they wanted. "I noticed you guys pirated the cable too. Just borrow the tv from the research area if you need to. Reconnect it when you're done."

"We can clone it," the other two said. They got together to do that and suddenly their confined area was bigger, had a great entertainment system, and a sound system. Each of the demons had comfortable lounging areas with pull over desks to help them color on. Xander got a splitter for the cable line so they could run it in there. That helped and made them happier higher beings.

Agent Toliver stared at Xander. "That's weird."

"They're helpful and out of harm's way. Plus they can't be used this way."

"I understand why. It's still weird to normal people."

"Only Buffy and Willow think I'm normal, Agent Toliver. So thank you." He smiled.

The agent nodded, taking off the bracelet as he walked off. "Mr. Hammond."

"Is my boyfriend hiding in there?"

"Helping the three beings settle in better. I think he has to put the bracelet on you himself." He went back to report to his boss. This time the body camera had caught a few images, though most of them had the overlay of a smirking demonic face over it like a trademark symbol.

"Xander?" TJ called.

Xander came out to pounce him to hug. "You came back."

TJ looked at him. "You can't threaten people who might hurt me."

"Bullshit."

"You can't because I'm not owned."

"Point."

"Thank you. Now, let me in there?" Xander put the bracelet on him and led him inside. TJ looked up and around. "I've seen smaller libraries in colleges." The three demons laughed so he looked. "Hi, guys."

"I'm protecting them by keeping them in there," Xander said.

"I get that." He looked around then at his mate. "Wow. No wonder you can hide in here. If you had a kitchen you could live in here."

"I have a mini fridge and microwave," Xander said with a point.

"I stand corrected." He pulled Xander closer. "I'm a boyfriend, not a pet."

"You're only a pet if he puts a collar and leash on you," one of the demons giggled.

TJ looked in there. "Sometimes humans like to play like that but they're not really pets." He looked at Xander again, who was trying not to laugh. "I can protect myself."

"Of course you can. You were just doing things I should've been doing. It could've gotten you dead. Willow nearly killed me once."

"Probably twice," he said. "That's why the healer made you rest." Xander winced. He pulled Xander closer by his belt loops. "Tone down the overprotective parts," he said quietly. "I can fight for myself."

"Yes, TJ."

"You can even teach me more about how to make sure succuba leave me alone. I might like that." The demons giggled. TJ stared at him.

"It really does keep them safe and us safe from them being used to do bad things. They're all really smart and we're like a soap opera to them. They like to scry Gunn's gang to watch them."

TJ smiled. "I'm not a soap opera kind of guy. Never had amnesia or had a baby that showed up suddenly after I left it somewhere." Xander burst out laughing. "Are you going to help Gunn's crew repair the building?"

"I hired the crew to repair the building. I barely know how to build things after a few weeks at a construction crew. I liked the work but I threw my back so badly I couldn't walk for a month."

"Good to know." He pulled him closer again. "Let me take some of my own fights. It makes me look weaker if I don't."

"I can do that."

"Thank you. You owe me dinner and a night of being spoiled rotten." Xander grinned. "Including a backrub please. The plane's seats were miserable this time. No first class." Xander cuddled him. "How far does this let me in?"

"To here."

"Is there other weird stuff I don't know about?"

"Yeah. A lot. But if I told you it'd put you in danger." He took another kiss. "Where do you want dinner?"

"Out."

"I can do that." He walked him out, taking the bracelet from him. "It has to stay in there."

"I guess that makes sense," he said dryly. He and Xander went into the house, where he got properly pounced. "Still pissed off that you were acting more like an owner than a boyfriend."

Xander kissed him then rested his chin on TJ's chest since he had nicely pounced him onto the master bed. "I know I don't own you. You'd hate to wear a pretty leash, TJ." TJ scowled. He grinned. "I know a few people who like that sort of thing."

"Uh-huh." He shook his head. "I'm not one."

"I know. Neither am I. I just went protective because I know how fragile life is. I've lost a lot of the important people and I'm not ready to lose you yet."

TJ stared at him. "That's really mushy and a lot more commitment-like than I'm really ready for."

"I do for friends too, TJ," he said dryly. "I did for Cordelia."

"I get that," he said, nodding slightly. "I can accept that level of relationship." Xander smirked at him. "With benefits of course."

"Of course because you're spectacular at it," Xander agreed. He kissed the nipple next to his head and got back to his good pounce. Then they could have dinner. Xander's stomach decided to speak up to reprioritize itself but Xander just shook his head. "Sometimes the inanimate is perverse and noisy."

TJ laughed. "Yeah, stomachs can be that way. Mine's about to answer it."

"I can order takeout."

"Take me out, Xander, not order."

"Okay." He took a kiss as he got up, going to clean off in the bathroom. "Pick somewhere nice but not too high class."

TJ watched him go. "I like some of the higher class places."

Xander leaned out, staring at his boyfriend. "Do you really want to tutor me in the manners I never learned tonight?"

"No." Xander grinned and got back to his quick cleaning up. TJ looked up mid-range restaurants near them. For some reason a burger place made that list. That was weird and he didn't want to stoop to common food. "How do you feel about Korean?"

"A lot of belching," Xander called back, and you could hear his razor in the background. "Ow! Damn it!"

"How did you cut yourself with an electric razor?" TJ called patiently. Something got thrown out of the bathroom so he stared at the little thing. "Is that a lizard?"

"Apparently it thought it lived in our shower."

TJ shook his head, getting up to release the lizard back outside before it bit someone again. He didn't want to spend tonight in the emergency room. He went to check the bite, just in case. Xander was horrible about those sort of things. He'd never let him know because it would interrupt the night's plans.

***

TJ looked at Xander as they came back that night. "Mom pointed out that we've been ...together for eight months now."

"Really?" He considered it. "I guess we have. Do you have any idea what you want to do for our anniversary of whatever you decide we're doing together?"

TJ swatted him on the arm. "We can be dating." Xander smiled at him. It was a goofy kid grin that made TJ's insides ache. "Quit that." Xander took a kiss and parked the car, getting out to make sure the garage doors were locked so they could go inside. "Do you want to do anything specific?"

"I'd like to go to an amusement park," he said. He stared at his boyfriend, locking the doors behind them.

"We have security systems," TJ said.

"That doesn't mean someone can't get in, or another lizard. The next one might nibble on you."

"Point." He took a kiss. "Like Disney?"

"Or Paramount's."

TJ considered that. "That's kind of kiddy."

"I wouldn't know. I never went." He walked off to check the other exterior doors. He ran into a problem with one of them, staring at the hunter out there being petted by the tentacles. "Did you try to break into my work area?" he called.

"Turn them the hell off, Harris!" he shouted. "Before I kill your dumb ass!"

Xander stared at him. "You trespassed, dude. Feel lucky it's only petting you. It does feel intent." The hunter shuddered, trying to get away. "You could've just sent a message. I had my phone with me."

"Get them off me!"

Xander came out to pet one of the tentacles. "Let him go for a few minutes please, dear." It let the hunter go. Xander stared at him. "You didn't call. I would've answered."

The hunter glared. "You have a demon held in thrall?" he demanded with a point at the tentacles.

"No, I have a kraken nicely stashed in a security portal." He smiled. "They really like to pet people since they don't eat them." The hunter glared. Xander stared back. "It's very handy as a security system."

"Whatever! We did try to call." Xander looked at his phone, showing the last calls and messages, nothing. "We used the number Gunn has."

Xander called Gunn. "For some reason I never got anything from you guys. Are they tapping your phone or mine?"

"Mine," Gunn complained. "We handled it. Is Hunter Bob up there?"

"Yeah, he was being petted by the security kraken."

Gunn shuddered. "That's so mean, Xander. We had a huge infestation and nest situation earlier."

"Do you still need me? TJ's here but I can show up. He'll only get mad at me."

"We used your spare holy water grenades," Gunn said dryly. "It's handled. Connor wanted you to make him more."

"I can do that tomorrow. I've only got one rune to work up for someone tomorrow so I can do it after that. How many does he need?"

"Probably a few. Bob, sorry. I didn't realize that the kraken would pet you."

"That thing's disgusting."

Xander grinned. "It sure keeps people from the less lethal protections."

"Still gross, boy."

Xander nodded. "Yeah but if people who break in to burn things keep going on, I'm going to think about running for political office." Bob backed off shaking his head, hands up. Xander grinned. "The kraken's only the second step of the security system. The next one would've slowly killed you. Want the antidote? Gunn has a lot of it."

"I'll get with him," he said, hurrying off.

Xander grinned at the phone. "Let me go back to being TJ's good boy. Let me know if you need me, Gunn." He hung up and bounced inside, locking the doors behind him. TJ had seen the whole thing but was only shaking his head. "The tentacles are really a distraction and holding thing so the lethal protections can act before they destroy my work area."

TJ held up a hand. "That's really weird and kinda wrong in a lot of ways."

"It's a very protective kraken."

"I'm sure it is." He walked off shaking his head. Xander followed to cuddle his boyfriend into the bed. TJ was good at cuddles. It was the greatest thing about him.

***

TJ looked around Xander's work area's outer area again. It still looked like a large library to him. "How do you know all of these?"

"About half I've had to skim through," Xander admitted. "Some I've read a few times. That section's the working runes section. I've got it separated out by subject."

"Like the library system or just by subject?"

"I did learn how to file by Library of Congress lists," Xander said with a smile. "But I personally hate it so I simplified by subject. I even have a free reading section in here for when I need a break." That bookcase was small and under a window. It was stuffed with obviously read paperbacks, and a few graphic novels tossed on top of the rows of books. TJ wandered over to look at those. A few were very well read. One looked almost brand new. "You haven't read that one yet?" he asked with a point.

Xander looked then shrugged. "I started to because everyone said that every geek should read that. It kinda knocked me out hard." He hugged TJ from behind, pointing at a section. "These are language research ones. It comes in real handy since half of everything is in Latin."

"You read Latin?" TJ asked.

"I read a few languages," Xander reminded him, smiling at him for it. "I only speak a few though."

"Anything that could get you diplomatic service?"

"I'd hate to have to release a new apocalypse kit while I had that sort of job," Xander said, looking confused.

"Why are you putting out a new apocalypse kit?" TJ sighed, staring at his boyfriend. "Is it the sort to take out another competing problem?"

"Almost but it's to take out a huge problem that's coming up in a year. It'll slowly gather power but it'll definitely take out the next few ascension attempts. It might compromise a few people but they're the sort that'd do it anyway."

TJ considered it. "If you tell someone about the other ascension attempts coming up, will they stop them?"

"It's not against the law."

"No but it's against good sense. Especially if they're politicians." He turned Xander to stare at him. "People would hate that."

"They've probably hidden it really hard. Otherwise the sacrifices would have been caught."

"We can still tell someone. See if they can handle it instead. That way people don't give you dirty looks for that kit."

"I've had a few demons who volunteered to be put into kits so they can get new minions." He shrugged a bit and grinned. "Plus they make a lot of money."

"But it's unethical."

"So's a lot of things depending on where you stand. A lot of people hate that I do protections. That's why we have the heavy security system."

"I saw the tentacles. That's weird."

Xander grinned. "But handy and it's not being destroyed."

"I can see that." He sighed, staring at his boyfriend. "Do you really need the money that way?"

"No but they pout if I can't do it. A few even want to fight off other problems. One's even for hunters, so they have a helpful spirit to go with them."

"Would they use it?"

"Some of them, yup. Those are good works so I don't charge much for them."

TJ shook his head. "See if you can do it some other way, Xander. If not, release away." Xander nodded, going to his desk area to look people up. TJ looked at the staring demons. "People would like him more if he's firmly on the side of good."

"Warriors aren't always good," one said. "Fighting does that to one."

"Point I guess." He took Xander back to his music room. Xander grabbed a book on the way but they went to relax in there. TJ ignored that it was work related. Xander did have to continue part of his career, the more legitimate part of it.

As long as the dangerous hunters stayed away and Xander quit doing the dangerous hunting things that drove him nuts. Worry did not look good on his face. He wasn't that sort of boyfriend.

The End.
This story archived at http://voracity2.e-fic.com/viewstory.php?sid=99