Xander was showing his baby slayer how to use a crossbow when the coven summoned him without warning. He stared at one. "I nearly shot you," he said dryly. "Give me two minutes warning please."
She pointed at the battle. "They need help. I thought you'd want to."
Xander looked. "At least a few others tried to step in." He sighed. "Summon my axe for me please? It's in full size form in my jeep." One did that and handed it over. "Got any meal bars?" One handed over a granola bar. Xander ate it as he hurried over, then jumped into the last bit, taking a downward swing as he landed on top of the demon. "Beheading," he told the girls. They groaned. "The coven summoned. I was helping Mya since a lot of activity is going on around her town." They nodded.
He looked. "See the guy with the claws? Back him up." They went to do that. "Logan, be a battle master," he called. "I'll take left point since everyone over there is down and groaning thanks to the poison spit." He hurried over and jumped up to take out one that was picking out a human to eat. They massed to attack him but oh well. Had to be done. A few of the slayers came to help him. "Aren't you both too damn young?" he demanded between swings.
"Yup," one quipped. "This shit sucks. I should be taking a history test today."
"Definitely. Why don't you go do that?"
"Because the principal pulled me out and drove me here," she said dryly. "With the weapons trunk from the office." Xander sighed and shook his head, taking another swing. "We could use more slayers."
"I do not do magic. Why didn't the coven get them?"
Xander sighed and nodded. "Oh, have me treated by the healers in Brooklyn please." They nodded. Xander hit another demon that lumbered toward them. "The portal?"
"The coven supposedly," the other slayer panted.
Xander looked at her. "Go get an antitoxin from them." She ran off to do that. Xander and the other slayer kept going until someone finally got the portal down. Then even the peaceful demons were out to help. He had to pounce one out of the way of Logan's claws. "He's peaceful and a baby doctor." He hit the demon coming their way. "You're not peaceful. You enslave humans by touching their bare skin. Get away from the slayers." The demon died. Xander looked over. "You, young lady, should be in school and I'm going to have *words* with your principal for that." She grinned. "Go study for that history test. There's no GED slayers." She jogged off. "And get an antitoxin in case," he yelled after her. He looked at Logan. "Thanks." He walked off shaking his head.
"Xander, can you take the antitoxin?" Tara asked.
He nodded. "I have many times in the past, dear." He smiled. "Thank you." He took two bottles from her hands.
She kissed him on the cheek. "The Goddess has great plans for you."
"Probably to see me naked. I keep feeling scrying whenever I'm naked for the last few weeks." She giggled and hugged him before the coven sent him back. Xander sighed and flopped down, looking at his baby slayer and her mother. "The coven called for the battle in New York." The baby slayer hugged him. "I know, kiddo. Here, take one of those in case any of the poisonous spit got on you." She took half and made sure he took the rest then got his medical kit from the jeep for him. He taught her how to do stitches and bandage wounds. It was a good practical skill, her mother showed she could do some of it too. Mya could practice on her doll later.
Logan looked around the messy street then at the standing beings. "Thank you for helping," he called.
"We really appreciate all the help," one of the slayers said. "Please don't endanger yourselves though. We know there's assholes out there who want to kill all of us for not being their ideal being." She pushed her hair back. "Thank you, Doctor." He smiled and nodded, going to check on the injured people. She looked at Logan. "Thank you for the help and the battle master stuff. Jump into any of our battles you want, Mister."
"I'm Wolverine, chit."
She smiled. "Sheila. The senior slayer in the local house." She shook his hand. That's when someone shot her. Logan caught her and started to treat the wound before the paramedics or healers could get to them. He handed her over then went to hunt that sort down. He nearly made it to their position when the guy went flying off a building with the gun halfway down his throat. He looked up. "Thanks, Wade."
"Welcome, Logan." He waved. "If I had been closer I would've jumped in too. I got here too late. Send me a text or something?"
"Yeah, if I hear you can." He went back to helping the girls. Natasha showed up. "Too far away?"
"I was in Montreal." She grimaced but stepped in to protect the girls from everyone else. They needed it and time to heal. She got them to a SHIELD base and infirmary, then went to run off the demons stomping up to protect their slayers. "I will not harm them. They're safe here for now. The director does not want more than a report on how that happened." Two still went in to guard the slayers. She smiled. "It speaks well of you to want to protect children." The director was having a fit. "The slayers are safe and guarded in our infirmary. They have two demons guarding them as well. They're going to heal well. The antitoxin they were taking appears to be working well and I got a bottle for us to manufacture it in the future if we need to. The few others who stepped in were very helpful. I would have been if I had been closer."
The director froze the replay with a press of his remote. "Who's the guy with the axe?"
"Xander Harris. He's part of the new Council and used to back up the slayers in Sunnydale."
Director Fury blinked at her. "Excuse me?" She called up the file she had put together for him to read. "Why isn't he up here?"
"He's training and protecting the young slayers in Africa," she said bluntly. "Plus young mutant children who might need his help." Fury stared at her. "He also made note that he was disappointed that no one had set up orphanages or anything to help the mutant children who didn't have useful gifts for combat. Got into the Professor's face about it during a pleasant chat in the park."
"So am I," he admitted. He closed the file and looked at her. "Is he sane?"
"Probably. I haven't had more than a fast chat with him."
"Hmm. Will he come back to head a house?"
"No. There's no one who can protect those girls down there."
"We can give them one."
She pulled up two other files. "One solved by the application of poker debts somehow and the other one the old Sunnydale team shut down with malice."
He read them, grimacing. "You're right, they won't trust us."
"Especially since we were warned something was going to happen in LA and we never showed up to help," she said then left. That had been his call and he had made the wrong one.
Fury grimaced. "If I had realized he wasn't a crackpot I would've sent everyone," he said. He considered how to handle this. The girls needed protected. He assigned two agents to go talk to the slayers in the infirmary to see what they'd like to have help with. It'd be a good starting place. The girls all referred them back to Cleveland and Buffy. Though one said they probably could use someone to make plans since Xander was in Africa again. The other girls grunted but didn't disagree.
He had agents who could do that. Some who wouldn't complain about demons too.
Buffy opened the door, staring at the girls there then at the agents escorting them. "Who're you two?"
"SHIELD," Natasha said with a smile. "We're going to see how we can help you. We guarded the girls while they needed healing as well."
"They were good but not too fussy," one of the slayers said, slipping past Buffy. "They demanded, Buffy. We referred them back to you so they came to visit."
"Sure, we can chat. We don't really like agents," Buffy said.
"I'm aware of why," Natasha said, holding out two files. "Anything we found that shouldn't be in there?"
Buffy stared at her. "What sort of agent are you?"
She smiled. "Usually undercover and sometimes a problem eliminator."
"Huh. Fine, we can chat. Andrew, we need chatting stuff," she called.
"I'll make tea once I have the girls fed," a male voice called back.
Buffy looked that way. "Xander?"
Xander pointed at Willow. "She summoned. Mya's going to kick her around. She said so." He looked at the agents. "Talk to the redhead, Buffy. She's one that the girls could look up to." Buffy nodded. "Her boss...I'm not sure. Her, I'd think would be a good role model and advanced lessons sort. The other one I have no idea. Name?"
Xander stared at him, blinking hard. "Wow, I hate flashes of visions too." He rubbed his forehead. "We gotta talk, Ward." Ward winced. "Now. Outside." He walked him out back, staring at him. "What I just saw should worry you considering I saw you killing some of your bosses." He stared at him. "And for some reason an octopus." Ward winced. "I don't want you or yours anywhere near these girls. Make up some excuse and head back on your little plane. Before I have to note why." Ward nodded and left. He went back inside, finding both women waiting on him. "He's got some flaws that aren't wanted around the girls."
"What sort of flaws?" Natasha asked.
"It's not a problem for a few years. Until after London is invaded and you should be wearing a cape." She frowned. "Check with him, not with me. I only got a flash."
"Fine. We can chat later." She went to sit with Buffy at the kitchen island so more of the girls could meet her and talk to her. Some of them had good ideas.
"Mystical weapons can use you instead of you using them," Xander said from his spot having coffee while Willow finished whatever up so she could nag him. "It's not always strength of will, sometimes it's a stronger personality." Buffy scowled at him. He stared back. "Some of the girls don't have self will, Buffy. They can't decide what they're wearing each day without help. Any mystical weapon would use them, not the girls using the weapons."
"We're working with therapists to help them," Buffy said.
"You're doing good with it," he assured her, smiling some. "But they're not ready yet."
"No, they're not. They're also usually younger so they're in school and staying there. Did you get to yell at that principal?"
"No, the coven sent me home before I could. Did you?"
"Giles went up to have a talk with him and the other principals." She grinned. "He does a lot of that."
Xander nodded. "I've talked to a lot of parents. Including removing two to better relatives."
Buffy nodded. "I'm guessing it's a cultural thing?"
"Not always. Some of the girls are from poorer families." Kennedy stomped in. Xander waved the coffee pot, getting scowled at. "Willow summoned me for some reason. Mya said she's going to kick her soon for that."
"Who were those agents?" she demanded. Xander pointed at the redhead. Kennedy stared at her. "Who are you and who are you with?"
"I'm Agent Romanoff and I'm with SHIELD," she said calmly.
"We don't need the help from any agency."
"Yeah you do," Xander said. Kennedy glared at her. "Not like you're playing kitten poker for bigger weapons, Kennedy. They can bring those to battles and spare some of the girls."
"We don't need more helpless people like you!" she complained. He waved her on. "What, going to beat me too?"
"Sure as hell am." He stared at her. "I've been doing it longer than you have."
"I'm better trained," she sneered, attacking him. Xander slapped her down then smacked her around a few more times. "Hey!"
"I'm not even trying hard, Kennedy. I learned how to fight thanks to vampires. You're not that good. You're falling down on your training. Your bitchy attitude needs to end before it gets passed back to the slayer spirit and infects future ones. Your girls are being forced out of schools. You're shit to the local peaceful community. You're a shit girlfriend too, little girl, because I heard." He stared down at her. She kicked and he punched her this time.
"Hey!" Buffy complained.
"Yay." Xander stood up, staring down at Kennedy. "You are not worthy to train my future slayers, Kennedy. If you were one of mine, that attitude would be *gone*. Because every single one of you can't handle an apocalypse battle on your own. There might not always be this many slayers. The last I heard, the ones who Fell didn't get replaced. That means some day the minis will have very few helping them. If we don't have allies now, we definitely won't have them then and those girls will die. Do you really want that to be your legacy to the lineage?"
"No," she ground out, standing up. "How dare you!"
"Shut up, spoiled brat," he shot back. "I could've treated you like a real threat. You'd be dead now." She flinched back. Xander stared at her. "We may like all the slayers, but some of you are bitches. Worse than a teenage Buffy and Willow bitches. Do you want the future slayers to be like you?" She glared. He stared at her. "Well?"
"I'm a good slayer."
"You might be but you're a miserable human," he shot back. "We'd like all you girls to end up being at least slightly happy with their lives."
"We're *slayers*!" she complained. "That doesn't happen to us."
"It's up to you if you choose to patrol," Buffy said firmly, staring at her. "No one said you had to, Kennedy. You could go home, go back to all that stuff you used to do, all that. No one's going to do more than send you gossip emails and ask if you want to fall in for bigger battles if you do. You could go to college, find a nice guy or girl, all that. All you have to do is tell us that's what you want. I wanted to but I couldn't handle college."
"You have the same options," Xander said. "You'd just be the head training slayer instead, Buffy."
"I'd go nuts watching them go out to hunt without me. I do when the minis go on training patrols with anyone else."
Xander nodded. "It can happen that way when you feel responsible." He looked at Kennedy. "You don't have to be a slayer or a bitch. You chose to be a slayer and a bitch. You're free to change your mind about patrols and all that at any time."
"But...there's no other older slayers."
Xander stared at her. "You're only eighteen. By social services rules, you shouldn't be in charge of the house. You're barely old enough, you can't drive, you don't have a CPR card in case something normal happens. You can't cook, which is also on the list for most states. There's only three of you that actually are able by law to head houses. You can fix that if you want, but no one's forcing you to head a house. Though, New York is a cherry assignment. The peaceful community is tight, they're able to work with you if you need to, the healers are really nice. I talked to them when I had to bring a few mutant kids who got shot to them."
"Why?" Buffy asked.
"The hospitals up there won't treat anyone who has any sort of mutation," Natasha said. "Even the most benign one."
Xander nodded. "Definitely. Even some of the healers don't want to treat mutants. We had a talk about maybe the communities should start rowing in the same direction."
Buffy grimaced. "Would that impact you?"
"Yeah. If they knew, yup," Xander said. "Since a few people know, probably."
"Great," Buffy sighed. "How are you doing it down there?"
"The same way I did it in Sunnydale." He sipped his coffee and waved the pot at Kennedy, who huffed but pulled down a cup for him to fill for her.
"Thanks," she mumbled then went to talk to the other slayers.
Xander looked at Natasha. "We are trying very hard not to make the mistakes that the old Council did."
"I can tell and there will be adjustment issues," she said. "We realize you're doing the best you can with only forty slayers."
"Sixty-eight," Buffy said. "Over the age of puberty." She looked at Xander. "How many down there?"
"Three that don't have kids and are over the age of reasonably adult." He drained his cup. "Another four that have kids and the rest are all under the age of puberty. There might've been one or two who were in the age gap but not now."
She nodded. "We're seeing a lot of those in South America too. Asia only talks to Giles."
"Yeah, he thinks you're an airhead and he thinks the same thing about me but I blew up someone in front of him," Xander said dryly. "One of the higher demons in my arena kidnaped him and Ali to sacrifice with one of mine. I showed up with a nice rocket launcher I found conveniently not guarded hard enough in a militia camp." He grinned. "He was real impressed with how I splattered her against her temple's wall. When that militia came up to complain, the other watcher babbled about how nice it was that someone else handled things the same way he did and did they need to clean up her mess. I said no, and we blew up the temple. The militia was satisfied I had raided for a good reason and they didn't want me to make them handle something. They heard about the other one."
"I haven't," Buffy complained.
"Gee, ya think?" he quipped then grinned at her.
"I'd like to keep track of that for tracking problems," Willow complained as she walked in.
"I sent them to Giles, Willow. Is he answering his own emails?"
"They're supposed to be sent to me."
"Yeah, I send them to Giles so I don't hear bitching," he said, getting more coffee. "You can get them from Giles so he can sort out things that'll make you send me another howler knock off."
"You took out a huge group of people!" she complained.
"Yeah, because they were going to kill me, the slayers with me, and a few little mutant kids that they had chased towards us so we were all together," he said, staring at her. "And I didn't kill them. Mostly. The one that shot at the babies got it back and I let a poker buddy have his corpse to make a point. They won't be coming after the babies ever again. I've met a few who said they didn't want to deal with a slayer in their village but they'd never kill her for being so unholy because they knew their remains would be fed to a demon."
Buffy stared, mouth open. "Why?" she demanded.
"Um, stated already," Xander said dryly. "Shooting at baby slayers, baby mutants for being born. And me for daring to train them. I'll die in an apocalypse battle but I'm not dying for that reason." He got another flash and grimaced, rubbing his forehead. "The PTB think I'll die in a car crash instead." Buffy let out a huff. "Not my doing. Yell at them."
"No, I know why they think that," she said, scowling at him. "You've become mean."
He snorted. "I was mean before, Buffy. I was just under a compulsion to never hit a girl thanks to Willow taking my want to never turn into my father and changing it slightly." Buffy glared at Willow.
"He asked!" she defended, glaring at Xander.
"I was asking you to hit me if I ever did turn into him. You put on the spell three years later when you found magic, Willow. Though it has helped until we ran into a lot of bad girls."
Willow sighed. "I was trying to be helpful."
"I know that. That's why I didn't torture you to make you take it off." He grinned. "Remember, I can tie you up and make you sorry. Spike taught me how." She walked off shaking her head with a moan. He grinned at Buffy.
"Can you do that to the bad girl dates you've had?" she asked.
"No. That would mean I didn't get to have fun with them. We all need more fun."
"You clearly need a vacation."
"I just had one."
"Oh." She grimaced. "We could send a slayer down to help you."
"Make sure they can camp and travel all day in the heat. It never gets cold down there unless you're on top of a mountain." She looked so confused. "Africa's around the equator, Buffy. It's *always* hot and unless you're in the desert, it's always muggy."
"Oh. Eww. I'll see if any of the girls want to come help you." She sent out a slayer wide text message then looked at the agent again. "Sorry, sometimes things have to be handled before Willow sends Xander back down there."
"I texted Tara and she's sending up Mya." He grinned. "That way she gets to meet you and the other big slayers."
Buffy grinned. "Your picture had her being cute." Tara appeared with a young girl of about six or so. "Hi, Mya. I'm Buffy."
Mya smiled at her. "I've talked to you on the phone," she said.
"You have. Xander said you're doing really good on your school work and other training."
"I would be but the witch keeps taking him!" she complained then stomped a foot. "I can't learn things when he's up here."
Buffy grinned. "We're working on getting a big slayer to come help him. Willow summoned him this time."
Mya grimaced. "I should go kick her. My mother would want that too." She looked up at Xander, who leaned down to give her a hug. Then she went to meet the others while Tara and Andrew talked. They all heard Willow yelp and grinned.
Xander groaned, holding his head. "Damn it!" he shouted. "Giles, someone's attacking the coven!"
"Oh, dear. Agents?" he said, coming in there.
"No. Jackasses who hate witches." He looked at him. "Go. Find. Them." Giles nodded, taking Willow to do the transport spell. For some reason Tara couldn't. Xander looked at her. "The PTB want you here," he said quietly. "I don't know why but they're making sure you're not hurt."
Tara grimaced but nodded. "I can help from a distance." She went to scry from the working area. That could help Giles and whoever was helping him. Though, not even the PD was responding. That was bad.
Xander felt that special tingle that meant weapons to him. "Send me," he said quietly. "I hate the old biddies who hate me right back but something's gotta be done." She gave him a funny look. "Fine, I'll finesse it from a distance." He called the number for that agent. "It's Xander Harris. Are you aware that British nationals are presently beating the crap and killing British and other nationals who hold immense power and can kill the whole country? While the first group also has banned weapons I'd love to confiscate? Yup, up there. Please do. Before I do. And you know I'll make a mess like I did in Madagascar."
He hung up when the agent shuddered. A few minutes later, helicopters started to land and Xander had Tara open some car's trunk. Giles grabbed one of the weapons and used it against the idiots. The agents weren't amused but all the weapons made them happy to confiscate. Unfortunately by then the ones who should've helped and didn't were also burning thanks to the witches. They watched, nodding at what was going on. The agents were getting down the bad guys. Giles was making the witches stop killing anyone not there. Then a huge demon showed up to glare at the witches for disturbing her rest.
"Oh, yeah," Xander said dryly. He called Giles' phone, hearing it in the kitchen. He looked at her. Andrew came in and helped her send him. Xander walked over and took one of the confiscated weapons. He fired it off at the demon, making her scream. "Go. Home. Now," he growled. "Before I have to lose *my* temper on more than the bigots." The demon screamed but left. "Thanks, really!" He waved at her spot. He tossed down the used part and walked over to one of the idiots fighting his cuffs. "Hi, howya doin'?" he asked with a smile. "You know, if you take out the warriors and their support staff, you gotta fight things just like that demon was. There's another two hiding and we're not going to save your asses. You have fun with that and hope like hell you get out of the cuffs before they appear."
"Xander, that's not how we do things," Giles said dryly.
"Yes it is. Because I'm not going to save the ass of someone like this. If they want to take out the people doing the saving, then they can save themselves. I'm pretty sure they *might* be smarter than a fundamentalist group of yahoos with ideology and weapons that had to handle a huge problem." He walked off. "Ladies, you burned half the town. I know they're evil for not showing up to help you but *damn*. Are you now Rosenburgs?"
One flinched and shook her head. "No, we're not. We need to confine ourselves to the ones who deserve it."
"Exactly," Xander agreed. He grabbed a few swords, tossing Giles one and pointing. "It's invisible."
The witches looked and groaned. "We're drained," one said.
"That's okay, they'll die," Xander said. "A lot. It'll be messy but the yahoos need to learn how to save themselves."
The lead agent winced. "We can't really let them go to do that."
Xander grinned. "That means it'll keep you here to help fight this." One of the demons appeared. He pointed. "The other's over there. She's wearing metal." The other demon appeared with a smirk. Xander looked at her. "Oh, hey, I took out your brother last week. How's your mom doing?" The demon growled. Xander looked at Giles, who was glaring at the other one. "He's got a weak spot, Giles. I got him there last month when he tried to take out a slayer's village. His stomach's still probably healing from it." He looked at the agent. "Don't let anyone you wouldn't implicitly trust treat me," he said quietly. "For multiple reasons," he ended at the opening mouth. He looked at the witches. They all backed up. "Could use some help with the weapons?"
"We know nothing about those. We're mostly pacifists, boy."
"I have a name," Xander said bluntly. "And I'd like the respect I've earned for saving your asses twice in the last year. You may be from the old Council but yay." They glared. He stared back. "Did *you* take down the Temple of Omi?" They flinched and shook their heads. "Yeah, I did. They wanted to sacrifice some slayers. Pity." The witches went to help the agents where they could. Xander looked at the lead agent. "Both will take beheading. Somehow."
"We'll do what we can to help." They went to clear the area.
Xander looked. "Giles, handle her," he ordered, walking over. "I can take him because he's the harder fight. It took me two weeks to figure out how to kill him. She's just a beheader."
"I can try. It's been a while since I used a sword."
"Like the other watchers, maybe it's time for a refresher?" He grinned. "That way more of them were backing up the girls in the field?"
"If they had that ability I would've already mandated it." He tested the sword. "Is that one heavier?"
"Yup. I gave you the lighter one with the better handgrip."
"Thank you." The demon stared at him, smirking really. "Well, are you done staring? I'm sure you consider Xander pretty but I'm too old for that." He took off his glasses and put them in his pocket.
Xander grinned at the male. "C'mon, I know you want me. You're not going to get it, but you can try if you want." He waved him on. "C'mon. I'm getting bored and I'll have to find some fun soon."
The demon laughed. "Such haste in your death, human."
"I'm not going to die. The PTB said I'd die in a car wreck in thanks for backing up the slayers. You're not a car." The demon growled and lunged. Xander moved and attacked back. The healing stomach wound got punctured after a few minutes and then the demon screamed and rushed Giles but Xander tripped him and one of the agents shot him in the head. Xander beheaded him. "That needs to be burned. Quickly."
"We can do that," one of the witches said. They got together to burn the body that was trying to heal itself.
Xander looked at the battle Giles was in then backed up two steps and took a running jump at that demon. Giles barely cut him but the demon screamed in pain as his sword went into her neck. She fell down and they beheaded her. The witches burned her as well. Xander looked at his arm then at Giles. "I had worse on dates back in Sunnydale." He walked off holding it. He handed back the sword. One of the witches pointed at the demon dog that just appeared. Xander looked then at her. "It's looking for a new head bitch." He gave her a look. "There's a few around here." He took a bandage from one of the agents. He looked at the chained up ones, who refused to look at him. "I say they help handle the invasion of London by Asgard in a few years. That way their lives have meaning."
"There's a what?" one of the agents demanded.
"It's a vision," Xander quipped. "It'll be a mess around one of the colleges. Something about weird sky portals and things going and coming, and I saw a special hammer flying around like it was lost. I'm not sure what prompted that one but I didn't see any demons. Weird looking elves but no demons."
Giles frowned, handing over his sword to the nearest witch. "There's an alignment event in about two years. One of the other research watchers ran into a mention and is looking it up."
"Could be, feels right," Xander agreed. He grinned at the agents. "Not our fault or any demons."
"Great," that agent said with a maniacal grin. "Just great."
Xander smiled. "Could be worse. You guys could have something like what happened in LA or New York."
"Can you go home to Africa now?" one of the staring agents asked.
"I would but Willow called me to nag about something and my baby slayer's in Cleveland to kick Willow a few times."
"Aren't you over all the girls in Africa?" the lead agent asked.
"I am but I was working with Mya when Willow summoned me. She wanted to kick Willow a few times for that." He used his t-shirt to wipe off his sweaty face and neck. "At least it's not as hot up here. It's a really nice day up here compared to where Mya lives."
Giles looked at him. "I forgot, it's in the hot part of spring where she lives, isn't it?" Xander nodded. "Then it's wonderful you could get a few cooler hours." He patted him on the arm. "We'll get you and Mya home tomorrow, Xander. I'm sure everyone's too tired to do anything like that." Xander shrugged. When another demon showed up it bowed to Xander and left a present. "That's rather new."
Xander picked it up to look at, smiling. "Leather pants. One of the succuba had him deliver it for her." He smiled at the witches. "She thought I'd look good during battles."
"You probably would but I don't consider you that way, Xander. You know I see you as a son." He got pounced and knocked down by the boy but Xander rolled and grabbed one of the swords the witches threw to handle the newly appearing demon. It died with a shriek of complaint and Xander had to change into the new leather pants thanks to his being eaten by the acidic spit the demon had used against him. Giles got up, looking at the boy as he came out. "We need to get you home and treated." He looked at the coven. "Can we or should we find a way to fly home?"
"We can get you there tonight," one of the agents said. "With flight time. Just so if anything else happens it follows you."
Xander grinned. "Thanks, guys." He blew a kiss at the staring idiots. "You're going to have to handle it for them since you're so against women saving you. Have fun with that. Find a sword or axe you like. It'll help with practice." He strolled off. "Are we leaving from here?"
"We've got a copter coming," another one reported. "They'll take you to the airport and then we're transferring you to SHIELD to get home faster." Xander nodded with a grin. One of the witches took the sword from Xander and they set up a pot of water from their well to start some tea so they could calm down before cleaning up. "We'll work on the protection of the coven, gents."
"That'd be most kind. Thank you," Giles said, putting back on his glasses. "We do worry about people like that. It seems there's more of them than the ones who don't hate these days. The slayer houses have all had problems with their sort."
"Which is why they need to start doing some of their own saving," Xander said dryly. "Before I have to come back from Africa full time. I can call up something light so they can get in some training while I'm here." The bigots all shook their heads and nearly ran for the troop carrier there to take them to jail. Xander grinned at the agents. "You know, we're hiring field watchers for the girls."
"We're too sane for that," one quipped. "Thanks though." The helicopter got there and they watched the two leave. A few agents prayed in thanks.
One of the witches looked over. "We feel the same way each and every time we run into that boy. He does so warp things." One of the others swatted her but they went back to some tea to calm down.
Xander woke up from the flight, smiling at the guy standing there. "Logan."
"Harris. You're weak on your right side?"
"I was cramping up a bit after the first fight." He walked off, hugging the tiny slayer that ran and pounced him. "Hey, Mya. What're you doing here?"
"I came to see you so we can go home. My mommy said it's okay if we stay over but I miss her and the bad guys up the road could come again."
"I'm sure they won't and I did put up that safe room for your mom, Mya. She should be okay." She nodded. "Let's get some food. We hopefully have enough time to at least get something from a machine?"
"You're not leaving for an hour," Logan said. "There's a fast food place up the street."
"Cool." He walked off with her, talking about the food she could find there. There were McDonald's in Africa so she knew what it was. It amused her that they tried to give her little toys too.
Logan looked at Giles. "There's a few others who'd like to be notified if and when the next big thing is happening. Can we work with you on that?"
"You can. We'd usually like the help, Mr. Logan. Come back to the slayer house with me and we can work it out with Agent Romanoff."
"I like Natasha. She's a good agent. Very strong." He walked after him. "Do all of you use swords?"
"It's rather hard to behead or chop into various necessary parts with a gun." He smiled. "It is one of the first things we all learn, even if we're research watchers. After so many accidentally summoned things, the higher ups decided they needed to learn that first. Before Latin."
"Figures. You guys read Latin?"
"Yes. Quite a lot of the library is in Latin. We spend a year of our formative training doing nearly everything in Latin. Even our health class was given in Latin so the teacher didn't have to be embarrassed describing the various human systems to the children."
Logan nodded, mentally wincing. That figured. Giles smiled at him. "You guys are a bit weird."
"Weird is relative, as I'm sure you've seen in your own fields."
"Yup, quite a lot some days." They went back to the house. The girls were talking to the pretty agent lady who had given one of the girls fashion advice. She had all sorts of good ideas. Logan nodded at her. "Natasha."
"Logan. Ladies, this is Logan. He's the one who helped in New York." The girls smiled at him.
"You're the claw guy on that mutant team," Faith said from her tea. Logan nodded. "Good. It's good you guys can do the same thing sometimes. Means a few less battles for us to handle." The girls all nodded.
"A mutant?" one asked.
Logan nodded. "We're all born this way, the same as you're born a slayer."
"There's plenty that lump you girls in with them," Giles agreed. He settled into a comfortable chair. "Xander and Mya are on their way back to Africa shortly."
"Little one was a cute thing," Faith said with a smile for him. "She stared at the battle on tv and vowed to kick the witches too."
Giles laughed, nodding. "It might be a good thing." He looked at the worried looking slayer. "What?"
"What if their bad guys come for us?"
"Why would they?" Logan asked. "They consider you guys tragic and necessary. Not someone who's going to help them take over the world. And Magneto doesn't want to deal with demons."
"Oh, okay then. Does that mean we have to go to the special mutant school?"
"No. You're not a mutant," Giles said. "Just born under the same sort of circumstances."
"Theirs is genetic, yours is a higher power poking you," Faith told her. "Bit of a difference and most of them are scared of us being like the idiot bigots too. At which point in time I'll kick everyone's ass for it."
Giles stared at her. "I'm sure it won't come to that. If they take up the coven's feelings on the subject we can correct them. All slayers must have a lot of tolerance. We do work with the peaceful communities, no matter where they came from," he told that slayer. "We have mutants who work here with us. Most of them you can't tell and two of them most of you think are from a peaceful demon community."
"And Xander," Logan agreed. The girls all stared at him. Logan nodded.
"He can find tiny metal things," Faith said. "Like lost earrings. It's not real useful all the time but it's handy around the house." The girls nodded at that. She looked at Logan. She knew he had tested the anti mutant feelings by throwing Xander under the bus. Pity for him when they sparred tomorrow. He tipped his head. She looked at the pretty agent lady. Who hadn't said a word. "We should spar with them, G."
"If they want to spar with one of you, Faith, that would be acceptable," Giles said. "It would also help Agent Romanoff see if the girls could use some training that she has." He looked at her.
"They could use some refining of some skills but we've learned they get a download from the slayer spirit. You have to train those sort of things into the muscles for them to stick?" she asked.
"It's more like waking us up to them," one of the minis told her, going to her knees to stare at her. "Our bodies know but we have to make it realize that it feels that way when we do things."
"That's a lot farther along than many people get," she said, smiling at the child. "It means you can protect yourself if you must but know how not to use it sometimes."
"Yes, we've had a rash of forgetting they're very strong when they do things like open doors," Giles said, looking at a few, who shrugged back. "I know you can't help it."
"That classroom door sticks," one defended.
"I've seen that. We'll work on how to help them fix it, ladies." They grinned. He looked at the agent and warrior. "They're to be ladies beyond all else. Normal young women who do normal girl things and have normal female ideals."
"Good," Natasha said. "That's much better than what it was."
He nodded. "Yes it is. Is Buffy on patrol?"
"In the tub having girl times," one of the minis said with a grimace. "I think that's gross but apparently it helps."
"It does," Faith said. "It's only gross for a few minutes after you get out. Then it's back to the normal stuff."
"It's all gross," she said.
"Yeah, but you're a girl and sometimes you get girl things," Faith said dryly. "When you're old enough we can find something to help you handle them and maybe slow them down but you'll still have a few now and then."
"I hope I don't," she said, pouting. "I don't want to have those sort of things."
"Some girls have no problems and some girls have a lot," Faith said. "Some girls are all but forced to stay in bed during theirs. The more you complain, the more likely you'll be one of those girls who has it real rough. That always happens when you complain about stuff you can't change."
The girl nodded. "I guess."
"At least it's not the old days when they didn't have medicines to help that," Willow told her. "They didn't have tampons or pads, all they had was strips of cloth." The girls all went 'eww'. "Yeah. And they didn't bathe all that often either. So consider yourself lucky that you're not back then. Back then the only way to control that stuff was to have kids."
"Even more gross. We saw that film in health class," one of the other girls said with a shudder. "So sick!"
"It's part of life for about eighty percent of all women in the world," Willow told her. "Some day you may be one of them if you want to be. If so, it won't seem as gross. Just painful and kids cry a lot." The girls all groaned. "They had a baby slayer in the house who had colic last month," she explained with a grin.
"Best birth control ever," Faith agreed with a grin for the pretty agent lady. "I'm never doing that unless I have to so the world doesn't end."
Giles looked at her. "That is a choice all women must make," he told her. "And you're more than welcome to change your mind sometime."
"That's fine, Faith." He looked at the younger girls then at the clock, then back at them. "I believe it's nine-thirty and some of you are to be in bed?" They groaned but got up to go to bed. "There's a curfew on school nights that varies by age," he explained.
"That's reasonable," Logan said. "We do the same thing at the school." Giles smiled, getting up to get something to eat. "I can probably spar with one of you tonight if you want, ladies. I'll pull my punches."
Faith stood up. "I won't." She stared at him. "Let's go to the gym. Ladies, you can watch on the cameras." They turned the tv to that station while he and Faith went in there. It was brutal and Faith came out pretty bruised by Logan but he wasn't all that healthy either until his self-healing kicked in. Natasha had watched and gave her a critique of what she could have done a bit differently to hurt him more. Faith appreciated that and she'd try that tomorrow against him.
Six weeks later, Xander looked up from a battle to glare at the woman up the hill. "Can you please quit thinking about your keys? They're in your purse on the table at home. It's a bit distracting," he complained when she gave him a funny look.
"Yeah, I can do that. Sorry, didn't know you were a telepath."
"I'm not, I can find metal things." They got back to work on the problem of the moment. He glared at another one. "Stop. It." The military guy nodded and they surged toward the demons again. "Now if only I had a neat summoning thing for the big slayers," he muttered.
"I've got a phone," the lady said, waving it.
Xander took it and called. "Buffy, me. We need the slayers here where I am. We have umpteen billion demons trying to immigrate the wrong way." He hung up and tossed it back before killing another one and getting cut on the thigh. "Ow! Bitch!" He hit the next one with his fist first then cut its head mostly off. It took about twelve minutes but nine slayers appeared and dove in to help. "Yay, the cavalry is here!" he shouted. The military guys all cheered too. The demons tried to flee but their portal was a one-way portal and more were trying to come through anyway.
"Fuck, we need something to work on that side," he muttered as he moved to protect one of the girls and kill the demon trying to stab her. "The portal's one-way," he reported, holding his side. It was aching. "They're really overcrowded and we're their ideal heaven. This is their world's way of reducing their population." She grimaced but passed that on. "Behead or anything above the second set of armpits. Stabbing is fine but they might get up, no one's sure." He ran over to help a group of military guys who were surrounded. Then they moved closer to the portal to handle more of the demons.
The slayers shared a look and one of them took a selfie to send then they hopped back into the battle. This was nasty. The little three armed demons sprayed when you stabbed them. "Don't we have explosives?" she yelled.
"Used them already," Xander called back. "Two hours ago!"
"Fuck!" one of the generals yelled. "We have another portal starting!"
Xander killed a demon and looked then got back to the present problem. "Kill the edges, not the actual portal," he yelled back. "If you hit the center, it warps and might cause even more problems. Like backlashing magic." He hit another demon then looked over at the military guy next to him. "Aren't you glad I got the idiot militia here first?"
"Yes! God will not be pleased if we lose this!"
"I'm not going to be pleased if we lose this, much less them." He gave him a look. "Hope and pray for more weapons."
"I am." They got back to it after a quick gulp of air because the shifting around them meant they had time to catch their breath at least. They dove back in again.
Xander winced as all the inferior demons froze, hearing the sound of clapping. "Oh, fuck," he said, looking at the slayers. One was taking a picture to send to Buffy's phone. "It's Tuesday, she's at the spa," he called. He turned to look at the demon. "Why hi there, Mr really huge demon. How're you today?"
"I can kill all of these pipsqueaks if you pray to me."
"The only being I pray to is a chaos god," Xander said dryly. "Because I'm hoping he quits cursing me." The demon laughed. Xander stared at him. "Why don't you go wait or take a few of the inferior demons to nibble on. We'll get to you in a few minutes." The demon snorted but tried to pick up a human to nibble. One of the slayers shot him with a flare, making him yelp and drop the guy. "I said a demon, not a human. There's not enough humans here as is." He heard aircraft and looked up then at a general, who looked tired all of a sudden.
"Girls, evacuate, now! They're pulling something end resort! Now, right now! People, move!" They ran for the nearby tree line. The demons were still in thrall to the demon when the fighter jets got there to fire on everything. A few military guys were falling behind so Xander got them out of there, getting hit on the foot but he'd handle it. "Ow, shit! Thank god for steel toed boots!" He sat down to check his foot, just a large bruise thanks to the steel reinforcement. He put the boot back on and stood up, taking some water someone handed him. "Damn."
"They didn't warn me, Watcher," one of the generals said.
"That's okay, we could use them anyway. If they can get the big sucker, we can handle the rest of the little ones." He looked at the slayers. "Hi."
"Where's the local girls?"
Xander took a drink and pointed. "Three-hundred-twenty-three miles due east for the nearest. She's five." They all groaned. "The nearest two adult ones? In the infirmary tent." They nodded at that. "This has been going on for two hours and a bit. I got a militant group into it too and made them help. I think they're all down?" He looked at a general, who nodded. "Plus this is half their national military, ladies."
"Fuck," one muttered. "The other senior girls are in training today out in the middle of nowhere to teach them how to track."
"Faith has a satellite phone," Xander said. One called her. Xander looked at the mess the jets had made. "All right, big guy's mostly down. We need him to be set on fire. Just in case. The little ones are mostly down but more are going to start coming through. Are your jets accurate enough to hit the edge of the portal and not the center?" he asked. The general asked and shook his head. "Okay. Then we need to blow the form around it. Then we need to mop this up." The generals gave out orders. Xander looked at the girls.
"I want you on this side's edge," he told them. "There's a peaceful commune about twenty miles away and these ones will go eat them. They're the earth healing sorts so they're real vulnerable." The girls mostly nodded. One scowled. "They've all been trying to run that way. Behind us is a small desert area and then mountains after a huge river they can't swim across. To the east is that same river and they're not running behind the portal. So cover the main escape way. With any luck we're down to mopping up and they can blow the portals." The girls all nodded at that. "If you get a chance, take it, but don't sacrifice yourselves. If they can't get the portal at the first try, they'll surge again. Then we're all screwed. Good girls. Remember the Scooby rules."
They nodded and broke up to go back to their spots. The jets were leaving. New military guys were showing up with weapons. Xander pointed. "Only do the frame. If you get the portal itself, it'll warp it and cause more problems." They nodded and moved to do that. "Get them both. No telling what's on the other side of the new one." He pointed. "Guys, let's clear them a shiny area to work in," he yelled. The military guys came to help at the general's orders. They got back to the main battle and it went. One portal went down. The other, to the big demon's world, didn't go down. It twisted but stayed open. They finished the clean up and the slayers went to check the portal. Xander leaned down then stretched up, hoping to end the stitch in his side. "Ladies, anything?"
"Magic. Lots of magic," one called. "My pendant's lighting up like a skyscraper on a holiday, Xander."
"Great." He came over, looking at things. He spotted the runes and looked then sent a picture to Giles' phone. He got back a simple instruction. "Here, cut these three," he said with a point. "Anywhere you find them, then blow the other edge so it twists in on itself." The military guys did that and got them out of the way to blow it. Finally it was down. Xander rolled his head, looking at the slayers. "See, you can tell Buffy I do call for backup." They snorted, giving him a dirty look. He smiled. "Go check on your fellow slayers and get treated, ladies." They trudged to the infirmary tent with some of the military guys guarding them. Xander looked at the waiting generals. "Well...."
"It happened and now it's done," one agreed. "We're happy you had the vision, Watcher."
"Me too. This is something I don't want to suddenly wake up to." He sighed as he looked at the mess then at the generals again. "We'll get the slayers home as soon as we can."
"We're not saying a word about the slayers, Watcher."
"Call me Xander. That's my name." He smiled. "Just think, I had this vision while I was in Ghana." They groaned. "Let me go check on my girls. Let me know if you need more help or if I can get you guys something to help with anything."
"Do they have any idea how to clean up this mess?"
"Fire," Xander said. "Lots of fire. That way there's no other place germs." They nodded, going to get their fresher people to pick up parts. "Flame thrower, just burn it where it sits," he called as he walked off. "A lot easier and if something's still alive it can't try to kill anyone back."
"Point. Thank you." Xander nodded, walking into the infirmary tent, going to where all the females were. There were only four females outside the slayers. "Ladies, we better?"
"No," one of the local slayers moaned. "I ache, Xander."
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure you will for a few days." He checked her leg. It was set and she had a brace on. "We can get you to a hospital, dear." He looked at the relief slayers. "We good?"
"Few cuts. They've been bandaged and we're healing at an acceptable rate," one said.
Xander nodded, patting her on the arm. "You guys did great for a sudden battle. Thank you for the help." The girls smiled at him. "Make Giles buy you guys chocolates or something. You deserve it after a battle." They smiled and called, getting sent home. The two local slayers went too. "Okay. Sure. They can get them treated." He was hauled off by his arm. "Ow, watch the cuts." The doctor looked at him. "I'm fine. I can handle most of it if you've got worse cases. I'll sit on a cot and do them." The doctor rolled his eyes but got to work on his injuries. Xander looked around. Most everyone still alive would heal and walk again. A few were questionable about living with their injuries. The dead were already moved to another tent. This tent was overflowing with battle injuries and bites.
Once Xander was cleaned up he went to his jeep and called Giles' phone. "Want a report from me too? No, a vision. I emailed it last week, Giles." He drove off. "By the way, they took the two local slayers. Yup, them. Both injured about forty minutes before I called. The only ones near enough to grab on the way here. I had been in Ghana." He nodded, then pulled off the road to rest. "I'm exhausted. I'm going to find a hotel and collapse." He listened to him about what the girls had reported.
"Yup, pretty much. I warned them on my way here once I figured out where it was. Yeah, that was my email." He listened to him, yawning some. "Sorry, falling asleep, Giles. Tomorrow." He hung up and drove to the town, going to find somewhere to stretch out and sleep. The locals gave him scared looks for how messy he was but he found a rooming house that had hot water. That's all he needed as long as there was a bed. He collapsed after a quick wash to get the worst off him.
Xander woke up to someone shoving him and grunted, glaring at her. "I paid for two days."
"Dinner?" she asked.
"No. Battle earlier. Sleep." He drifted off again. She left him alone for now, leaving the bread and water up there for him in case he got up before breakfast. He woke up about eight and ate on his way to the shower, then came out to put on clean clothes. He smiled at the lady at the desk. "Thank you. Is there a laundry here?"
"Nothing could get that stuff on you out," she said.
"For the rest of the clothes. Those I'll throw into someone's burn fire." She nodded and pointed. "Thank you." He went to talk to her, going back for his money and clothes in his jeep. Someone had searched it but hadn't found anything other than a knife he was missing. He dropped off the laundry and paid her then went to the market to buy a few new shirts and maybe some fruit. He called Giles on the way. "Okay, I'm awake." He listened to the older man chuckle and tell him that the reports were all done with. "I'm okay. A few stitches. Hungry. Dropped clothes at the laundry. Yup. Thanks, Giles."
He hung up and bought a few pieces of fruit to eat on his way to where they had shirts. They were colorful, which he preferred to hide stains, and loose so he wouldn't swelter in the heat. He bought two, going to check on the laundry lady. She assured him she could have them done by that afternoon, handing over something she had found in his pockets. "Thanks." He went to check his supplies again, going to restock in the market. Then he went to take another nap. He was still exhausted.
Xander was in Egypt for a conference with the local militaries about how to handle larger demon emergencies. It was time for the boring posturing about whose military was more might, which was basically dick measuring in more boring talk. Xander yawned, rubbing his jaw. "Guys, it doesn't matter how mighty you are. It matters who can get there fastest and with what sort of arsenal. Like the last one, they called in jets and conveniently forgot to tell us but it helped.
"We had used almost all their national supply of artillery as far as the generals knew. It matters more that there's people who can handle it if I'm in the Bahamas finally getting a real vacation." He looked around the table then at the glaring general at the head of the table. "Right now, it only matters that you work out a 'yeah, I'll come help you save us all' agreement. It doesn't have to spell out who shows up with what sort of weapons. Right now it just has to say you'll show up. Talking about specially trained units, the amount and placement of apocalypse vaults, all that, can be discussed later."
"Where would you suggest we store those?"
"Three of the major problem areas on my map, which I've only been over three-quarters of the continent so far, are in relatively safe and stable areas. Two more are screwed on that level and having a military that listens to anyone. That's why I tricked a militia into handling a problem." They grimaced and one rolled his eyes. "It worked. The remaining ones quit trying to kill me and the slayers while the ones that died gave us enough time to put together a weapon. Not that most people liked that group's ideology anyway." The generals nodded they agreed on that. "So for right now, we just have to work out a plan for circles of coverage. I don't expect Egypt to fly to South Africa to help but I might expect maybe South Africa to help if there's another problem in Madagascar."
"That's a good point," one of the generals Xander had worked with agreed. "Do you have your map?"
"I made a copy." He pointed at it. They pulled it out to look over. "Key's on the back." They flipped it to look then went back to the map side to look at things. "You guys would have a lot more intel than I would on how stable an area is and how large their usual forces are. Frankly, I'm usually found in smaller towns and villages training the girls. Only one's from a city and we had to evacuate her during the uprising here in Egypt." That general nodded once. "She's in Turkey right now backing up that slayer with a huge problem that some idiot woke up on purpose to prove demons weren't real." He grinned. "Then they're going to a spa in England. They've vowed it."
"I'm sure the girls would like that," he agreed. "How would we settle where we can cover?"
"How far can you realistically get in about two hours?" Xander asked. "If we're going to call on local militaries for help, that's a reasonably tiring battle. The last one lasted just over three. We ran out of artillery in an hour."
"Hmm. That would matter," one of the generals agreed. "This temple causes no problems?"
Xander looked at where he pointed. "She's asleep. We're all hoping she stays asleep. If she wakes up she'll be cranky and start to take minions that will help her lead up to taking over that whole area. It used to belong to her sister but her sister knocked her into the coma-like sleep. Then her sister died a few centuries ago."
"Okay. Where was that noted?"
"On her temple walls. Someone updated the original graphics with some painted on warnings."
"Charming. Are the other temples that problematic?"
"Most of them are older and not interested in more than dealing with their little areas. They're not looking to expand, or to take over tribal areas for minions and slaves. There's four exceptions and they're all temples that house artifacts. Two of which are responsible for the raising rate of those born with mutations." He stood up to point. "These two both have that sort of energy going on. This one's kind of a void in a sense that it's sucking in energy instead of letting it out but I couldn't get anywhere near it to see why. They still have very effective protections and since it's not causing problems I'm not going to trespass at this time. This other one supposedly houses an artifact but it was wide open and I'm not sure if someone stole it or not in the past but I don't want to be the guy who trips over a tree root and opens up the hidden door to it, and it being a huge problem." He sat down again. "Things like that happen around me too much already."
"I can see why," the Egyptian general agreed. They studied the map, marking out who could reasonably go to where quickly enough. "That leaves a few uncovered areas."
"I'm hoping a few of those never see a problem," Xander admitted. "Because in one of those areas it's all small war groups with ideas of grandeur." They nodded that was true. "Then again I had to take out one there," he said with a point. "Because he tried to take me as a hostage to work in his mine. Wanted me to be as happy as a Disney Dwarf he said. Then I collapsed his mine on his head." He grinned. "The demon they were digging out died too." They groaned.
"It helped. There wasn't an older demon being let out into the world. By the way," he said, pulling up a video he had on his phone. "This is an ascension." He let them see the important part. "There's five ways to get to that point. This particular one was the same size as a block and a half." They groaned. "There's at least six people we *think* are doing it based on what we've seen them doing." They all groaned. "We're not sure which version in a couple of cases. The slayer website has the details on how and relative size." He pointed at one general. "I'm really sure one of your coworkers is one and he's in his last hundred days, which means he's immortal. He can only change on an eclipse."
"That's in sixty days," he said after looking it up. "We're sure?"
Xander nodded. "I couldn't stop his spider shipment before he ate them. He smirked at me. That's why he swore so hard at the attack by Thebes." That general grimaced, shaking his head. "So around the eclipse, you might want to keep track of him. The only way you can take one of these out is to blow off the head. We blew this one up in a school." He grinned. "That was our graduation by the way." He let them see the rest of the battle. "That was us cheering our troll of a principal being eaten. Little toad hopefully gave him indigestion." He let them finish it watching it.
"Effective," one of the generals from lower Africa said. "Are any near us?" Xander nodded. "That industrial person?"
"No. Not him or anyone in his camp that I could tell. One of your justice ministers." He called up the slayer site. One of the generals took the phone to have it projected through the room's systems. "This is the five ways they can do it and their relative sizes. The exact ritual is listed on each one's name." He let them click through there to look at.
That general slapped the table and nodded. "That figures! I may know of another!"
"There's other rites that call for sacrifices," Xander told him. "Not all of them are to gain power. There's actually protection rites that call for multiple sacrificial victims. Mostly willing ones." That got a nod and a grimace. "Don't jump to conclusions but I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing at least one in the next three years. If that general got everything right it'll be in about two months. If he didn't, then he won't change during it and he'll die trying. If not, there's one in your country," he said with a point at one. "That I'm certain is. He's talked about it for years. His whole persona is leading up to it. He's bragged about it to his cult." That one sighed but nodded, leaning back in his chair. "If I'm right about which version it'll be about two years. If I'm not and he's trying another one, because there's a lot of similar steps, it'll be three. Sorry."
"No, it's better to know so we can watch him." They looked at each other. "How hard is it to create that sort of portal you just dealt with?"
"Not that hard," Xander said. "It takes a lot of magic energy, which can come from sacrifices like that one did. Opening the portal itself can take only a few hours. The planning to get everything you need, including sacrifices with the right qualifications can take longer. Some of them take virgins, some don't. A few of them take the sacrifice of someone who knows about the supernatural. Some don't." That got a nod. "If we hear about it, we warn and we stop it. Sometimes they're handling it all on that other side of the portal and if we're lucky we get visions. That's how I knew that last portal was opening. I had one in Ghana and had to rush back there when I figured out where it was."
"He warned us five days before," that general said with a smile for the young man.
"That was right after the second vision that showed me where," Xander said with a grin back. "Right after you, called the slayers I could get to on the way past."
"That was very helpful, and the ones that showed up later."
"One of them walked up to Buffy and yelled at her for not sending more with them. Even after getting pictures. They had a hair pulling fight in the back yard of the Cleveland slayer house." That general laughed. "Both those slayers are coming home in two days. They're flying in locally and I'll drop them at home." The local general nodded, making a note of that.
Someone kicked the door in and shot at the group. "You'll never stop me." He ran off.
"Fuck," Xander said, limping to help one of the generals. He hit his phone until it rang and was answered with 'Emergency' in Arabic. "I'm at the meeting with the generals," he said in bad Arabic. "Someone rushed in and shot people. We need ambulances." He winced, holding his own thigh as he leaned on the one he was holding closed. Officers streamed in. "Another general did it, we found out he's dirty," he told them. "Get yours." He pointed. "He's one of the worst after this one." They moved to help everyone until help got there for them. Xander pointed. "Phone!" It was handed over. He dialed, blinking back the darkness. "Buffy, ascension," he mumbled then dropped out of reality for a bit.
One of the paramedics hung up the phone for him. "I have no idea what that was about. Who is this one? He's not in uniform."
"He's our head watcher," one of the generals moaned. "Have him treated by demonic healers." They grimaced but found some to take him to on the way to get the others to real care.
Other military sorts would worry about there being demonic healers in their great city later on, when they could raid their clinics and fix the wrongness.
Fifty-eight days later, alarms started to go off. Xander winced as he stood up, looking out the windows of the jail they had been imprisoned in for supposedly being demons. "Hey, he went for the medium sized one," he said dryly. "Get us out of here," he yelled in a common tongue. The demon worm looked over. "We have healers here." It did bang into the old building to destroy it, those types of demons hated healers. Xander got everyone out and sent them to hide, him limping out.
Xander looked at the demon and the generals. He recognized one, who winced. "I'm all for you guys doing it yourselves. Thanks." He limped off. The demon came for him so he used his last few bullets to shoot it on the nose. "Don't even. I'm not amused." It tried him again, sounding like it was laughing. Xander grabbed some of artillery as he walked past that line, firing it at it. "The head has to come off," he said facetiously. "Have fun with that. We will." He used his phone to call someone. "Get me out of here please." A demon grabbed him. He collapsed into a seat once they were inside a building. "Ow."
"A healer will come help, Knight," one of the demons said. "We are still near there though."
Xander looked at him. "The head has to come off. I'm in no shape to go set a trap and blow it off."
"The military has it," the demon agreed. A healer came over to look, wincing at what she saw. "It's infected."
"I knew that," Xander sighed. "It was mostly healed then someone tried to shoot us for not dying of starvation. It hit right below the other one." The healer nodded, getting the bullet out and healing it as much as she could. "Thank you, great one. The others got out?"
She nodded. "We've already hidden them. It was bravely stupid to protect them that way."
"I wasn't about to sit there and listen to them being tortured. Them locking us in was a better solution and thankfully Tara send some food stuff when she could." Somewhere outside jets were screaming into the area to blow up the demon worm. "That probably won't work. You guys need to evacuate."
"We can. Can you travel?"
"Yup, I sure can." He made himself stand up. "Go. Thank you. I owe you a debt. Call on me if and when you need me." She smiled and nodded, leaving with the other demons. Xander waited until they were gone then went out to watch the battle. He sighed. He used his axe as a cane and watched them not manage to kill it. Two slayers appeared. "Oh, no. Damn it, I'll have to save them too." He limped that way calling Buffy. "Recall the slayers," he ordered. "They'll kill them too!" The girls told them how to defeat the nasty thing and had to fight to get away from a few of the military units. Xander put them behind him when he got there, glaring at the soldiers. A few sneered. Xander stared back. "It won't work. It hasn't yet. Even if you kill all of us, you won't survive it." He looked at the girls. "Go. Now." They nodded and hit their 'please save us' pendants from the coven. They all got removed. Xander fell down, wincing. "Thanks," he called.
One of the coven came over. "That was stupid."
"Stupid was them raiding a demon healer and taking us all to torture." She gasped. "Then trying to kill us for the last two damn months. Can you call my girls to make sure they're fine?"
"Faith took over for you," another said. "Are you injured?"
"A healer managed to take out the new infection from the newer gunshot wound," he sighed. "I'm about sixty percent healed." He got helped up. "Thank you, ladies. Girls, you good?" They shook their heads. "There's certain groups in Africa that will never deal with any of us because of what you are and where I've been. Or because I can find metal earrings." He shrugged. "They decided I was a demon too. It was fight back or get tortured and listen to the others be tortured." They hugged him. He hugged back. "It'll be okay. They have plans on how to handle themselves. I've listed whole areas off my map to be covered because of groups like that. Thankfully it looks like they're going to be overthrown by others. Again."
"The new president is doing that," one of the coven said. "Xander, want some healing tea?"
"Please. If you can slip in some willow bark too it'd be great. Or ya know, morphine." They gave him some mixed tea and he sighed. "Willow still ranting about her high and mighty kick from where I tried to get her help?"
"Yup," one quipped. "That's why they shipped her to LA against her will."
"Good. Means I don't have to punch her right away." He sipped his tea and sighed. "Tara's been a Goddess, guys. She's sent food and medical supplies every few days." They smiled. "I owe her a life debt."
They smiled. "I'm sure she'll call it in the next time someone tries to hit on her against her will."
Xander nodded. "I've punched a few of those for her since Sunnydale." He sipped his tea, relaxing for the first time in two months. He fell asleep there.
One of the coven tossed a throw blanket over him while the others called Rupert. "He's here. He got them out by making the demon worm let them out. Of course I can, Rupert. No, he's exhausted. Fell asleep drinking tea." She hung up, looking at the slayers. "What happened?"
"The military guys tried to arrest us for being slayers," one said. She pushed back her hair. "Apparently they don't want us to save them. So they can do it on their own." She looked at Xander. "He could probably use a bath too. Maybe some food too."
"We'll work on that in a few minutes, ladies. Do a report for Rupert so he can complain."
Xander flinched awake, staring around then up. "The dagger's under your pillow," he called. He sighed, getting up with a wince. "I should go visit one of my girls. It'll be safer and they can't say you housed a fugitive."
"That'll all be settled, boy. Go take a shower. There's workout clothes up there that we change into before rites." Xander nodded, grinning slightly as he limped that way. The girls sat at the kitchen table to type in reports to Giles. He was not amused but he said he'd handle it.
Xander looked up a few days later from his doctor's appointment. He nodded at the agent who had snuck into the room. He was wearing a suit and plain tie, he had to be an agent. "Problems?"
"Sir, may we talk?"
"After this nice doctor tells me what else I need to do to heal my leg." He looked at the doctor. "He's sorry he barged in."
"It's not a problem, Mr. Harris. It's mostly healed. The bullets are still in the earlier wound though. That could cause later problems." Xander nodded. "We can go in to fish them out but it could mean the infection coming back."
"I can wait a few months on that," Xander said. The doctor nodded. "Advil?"
"Switch it on and off with tylenol. Take them off-time with the other." Xander grinned and nodded. "Are you going to need a crutch?"
"That makes me look weak and something will come to kill me," he quipped. "Thank you, Doctor."
"You're welcome. I'll send in your antibiotics." He left the agent to talk to the young man.
Xander looked at him once he had his pants back on. "I had to. I'm not about to sit there and listen to them torture the peaceful beings."
"No, I would've done the same thing, especially if I could've gotten us out of there."
"I tried everything to get us out of there sooner."
"I know. The ones with you?"
"Hopefully they're safely away."
"From what we've heard they are. They wanted to tend an apology."
"It can go on my wall next to the one from the US embassy when one showed up to sneer at me." He held in the sigh. "Right now I'm not even sure why I ever saved anyone."
"I get that. That's battle burn out."
"Hmm. Probably." He stood up. "I need to go get my antibiotic. If they're serious, I'll listen but I'm not going to be any happier. How long did it take them to kill that demon?" He walked around him.
"Most of the day. They had to evacuate an area to get it." Xander looked at him. "They said they did."
"I'm sure they tried," he said quietly. "I could have but...."
"No one expected you to do that and doing so would've probably cost you your life, Mr. Harris. It's not worth it sometimes."
"No, it's not. Thanks."
"I'll let them know you'll accept an apology." He called that in while Xander got his prescription and went back to the coven's area. He had a tent in the woods there. Apparently it was more comfortable for him. His boss was not pleased that any of that had happened. Their counterparts in the US were even less pleased, in both what happened and why. They could deal with their own hunter themselves though. Thankfully England had helped the young man.
Xander came out of the meeting with Giles and a few others, staring at the storm. "That's... Giles?" he called. He came out and looked up since his boy was. "It's the convergence isn't it?"
He checked the date on his watch. "It is today, yes." He looked back. "We warned that college. Have they been evacuated?"
"What convergence?" an agent demanded. He was already calling in. His boss told him. "The college didn't believe. Damn it!"
"Go evacuate the college," Xander said. "I saw the library and a few other buildings. Pull the fire alarms or whatever. Have a gas leak for today." The agents with them nodded and headed off. "Let's go be ambassadors to Asgard," he said, slumping some. He looked at Giles. "If I survive this, can I go somewhere where there's no chance of a problem?"
"Of course. I think you're going there tonight. That way we can calm down Willow."
"Make her go make nice with them." He limped off. "It'd serve her right for wanting them all to be tortured. Coming?"
"I can. Let me call the local slayers."
"They won't be of any help, Giles. It's mostly staying out of the way of the battle they're bringing." He grinned. "We don't have to help outside of getting out of the way."
"That's excellent news. I don't think you could handle another one."
"Me either." They took a cab to the right area and found a few people rushing around to put up metal doohickeys. Xander took one. "Where?" She stared. "Where?"
"Two more feet to the right." Xander nodded. "Push the red button when it's set up and stable."
"Okay." He did that and it beeped to life. He got the other few, helping keep her from being smashed by the winds. One of the elves came near them so he pushed her out of the way and shot the elf. It died nicely, without any demon goo for once. "Hey, I'm not being splashed with toxic goo today." He helped her up with a grin. "I'm a slayer trainer."
"Basically." They got the rest of them set up and he got her out of the area, or at least out of the way. He found her assistants and did the same thing. Then Thor came through the portal already fighting. Xander looked up then shook his head. "I don't need another axe," he told the scary feeling. "Thanks though." It got stronger. He caught the hammer that came flying at him, then shook his head. "Thor!" He looked over. Xander tossed the hammer back. "Yours?" Thor nodded as he caught it and used it. Xander went to get out of the area. Giles gave him an odd look. "There's an axe that really wants to love me. I can feel it from here," he quipped.
"That might be bad. A mystical artifact?"
"Yup. Sure is." It came flying out and Xander caught it. "Aww, you poor baby. No one's cleaned you recently." He petted it. "You're a good axe. We'll see if you have to go home again." He threw it at an elf stomping toward them with a sword then it came back to him. "Cool. We need to teach my regular baby how to bring things back too. It'll be like fetch." He cut an elf trying to get the pretty girls. "No, you don't get earth girls. They aren't easy, even if the movie said they were," he said patiently. "Sorry!" He got another one with a thrown axe then it came back. Giles had managed to stab a few of them. Thor pounced on a few from the other side and they were smooshed. Xander held up the axe. "It just wants to be adopted." He grinned.
"It's a true warrior's weapon, boy. I'm sure you can do it proud."
Xander hugged it. "Thanks, Thor. Behind you to the right." Thor turned and beat the guy over the head with the hammer. Xander caught it when it went flying off again and handed it back. The axe felt pouty. He looked at the head. "Even if I throw you at bad guys now and then or I touch other weapons, you're still my baby axe. I won't let you go." It cooed and settled in with him for good. Xander petted it, grinning at Giles. "It's very happy."
"I can tell that. We'll need to look it up to make sure it doesn't have a proper name."
"Not yet," Thor said as he fought. "It was in line to be sent to my son." He looked back. "By then you should be out of battle years."
Xander grinned. "There's always hope they'll end sometime soon." He cut one of the elves, Giles shot one, and the spunky assistant sort tazed one. "Cool." He got another one and accidentally got Thor's arm. "Sorry, Thor."
"Such happens in battles, young one."
"My name's Xander."
"Xander then." The portal started to close and sucked up the elves. Thor sighed, looking up. He looked at Jane. "I...."
Xander winced and held his head. "Go save your friends for paying for the plan, Thor. You can come back."
"Aye, I will." He kissed Jane, smiling at her. "I will be back shortly. Sooner than I would have been." He took another kiss then left again.
Xander looked at her. "You guys need medical or just a really big drink?"
"It's margarita time," the assistant said dryly. "I hope they're huge and free too."
Xander grinned. "I'd join you but I'm on antibiotics I can't drink on top of and this was kinda a nice battle compared to some." He looked at Giles. "Go drink with them so they get home safely while I hide? Because I can see cops."
"Go," he said with an eye roll. Xander hurried off. He took the ladies to a bar he remembered. "I spent much time here when I was a college student, ladies. It should be calmer than some places."
"Jane's a scientist and I'm her super assistant, and this is my assistant," the young lady said. "I'm Darcy."
"Rupert Giles, head of the new Council of Watchers." Jane gaped. Rupert smiled. "That was Xander. Until recently he was our trainer in Africa. Then something happened in Egypt." He sighed. "Most distressing. Let's have a good sniff, shall we?" They went in to get drinks. Giles could probably expense account it as a post-battle necessity for the yearly tax audit they had to go through.
Xander got off the train and spotted the agents. "You're going to arrest me for helping?" he demanded.
"You're insane," the agent said, coming over. "Truly nuts."
"Probably," Xander said. "I was mostly raised by Willow."
The agent broke and laughed. "That'd do it, yup. Are you going to need more medical attention?"
"I'm good. I even got my antibiotic with lunch."
"That's good. Let us get you hidden. What's that thing?"
"Mystical shiny thing," Xander said with a pet for it. "It adopted me from Asgard."
"Wonderful. At least it's not a gun." He took him back to the coven, who all stared at the axe. "He said it came from Asgard."
"Yes it did," one of the witches agreed. "Obviously." Xander grinned, cuddling it. "I'll get you things to clean it, Xander."
"Thanks. Giles took Thor's girlfriend and her buddies drinking."
"That figures," one of the agents said. "Any idea who she was?"
"Thor called her Jane."
The agents looked that up. "Jane Foster, PhD. So that must've been her assistant and all that. Wonderful that they tried to help." He looked up.
"Thor'll come back to reclaim his boyfriend spot in a while."
"That's wonderful too."
"His mom died," Xander said bluntly, staring at him.
"Understood. We'll pay some attention to them so they're not bothered by unsavory sorts." He looked at the boy. "Why are you in a tent?"
"It's comfy. I don't wake anyone up with nightmares or anything."
"That's fine. Are there others coming this way?"
"I haven't seen anything outside the one coming in Cleveland in about a week."
"Great. We'll see if we can get you back there." He handed over a card. "Just in case."
Xander touched it and whined, grabbing his forehead. "Damn it! That's what the stupid octopuses mean!"
"We can wait to debrief you," the other agent said. "How bad?"
Xander blinked at him. "The US and other agencies have a ton of bad things in hiding. All of them seem to pray to octopuses. They're infesting SHIELD. They're infecting everywhere else, including you guys. We're talking end of a few agencies bad."
"Okay, we can figure that out. Let's talk about what you saw, Xander." They led him to his tent to talk about things. At the end they all wanted drinks and Xander gave them the few he had seen and recognized. One he had met already. Then he told them to warn a certain redhead about a ghost from not only her past being awakened in DC in a bank vault. And to have kleenex handy. They reported that and he had to tell them who the redhead was but they called her semi-directly. They knew someone who'd know who she was and could find her number. They had a few days.
In the Atlantic ocean, Natasha looked at her phone, frowning at it. Steve Rogers looked at her, looking worried. "Someone hacked my phone." She showed him the message. "I met him. He's got visions."
"Ghosts from not only your past?" he asked quietly, looking at the team then at her. A new text message came in. //Trust no one outside the redhead and your team, and make Stark quit making AI's.// "Huh." He looked at her.
"Soon," she said, turning off her phone and tucking it away. "We'll handle it once we get back." He nodded, going back to the mission at hand. Something was seriously wrong. They had to fix that something.
Xander looked up from making stew in front of his tent when Giles came back. He grinned. "They're meditating," he called. "Come have stew with me, Giles?"
"I can do that." He came over to sit with the boy. "How is your new axe?" Xander pointed at it. "It's nicely cleaned. Good job." Xander grinned. "The Egyptians were not fond of you fighting back."
"I wasn't fond of being held to be tortured," he said. Then he shrugged. "I'm not the guy to sit there and listen to others being tortured without doing my best to stop that."
"I know. They said you were almost unreasonable."
"I had just woke up from blacking out after being shot in the leg," Xander said dryly. "By the same guy who did the ascension." Giles grimaced but nodded. "I woke up in a cell with two thugs there telling me I was a demon. I pointed out I wasn't and they insisted I was. It was fight back or die. For me and all them."
"I understand and if I had the strength I would've done the same thing."
"They decided to lock us in to make us weaker and starve to death," Xander said. "Thankfully Tara has compassion and helped."
"I praised her for that and helped her get what was needed." Xander smiled and hugged him. "Thank you. Are you better now?"
"Six more days of antibiotics. The stitches come out in another four days."
"I'd like to go back to my girls."
"I think that may be dangerous for you."
"Did the other generals fuss?"
"No. A few tried to help you but got deported." Xander rolled his eyes. "The girls down there have been moved to safer locations. Faith's on her way back."
"With how many of them?"
"Most of them for now," he admitted. "With the children for those who have them." Xander nodded, tasting his stew before adding some pepper. "Why aren't you inside?"
"Nightmares. That and I'm not exactly the pacifist ideal that they can deal with, Giles. I'm kinda more like a warrior anymore."
"I've noticed. We want to know what you've done down there. Faith heard stories she couldn't believe."
"Quite possibly true depending on which story," Xander admitted. Giles stared at him. He grinned back. "Where am I going instead or should I polish up a resume to find a new construction job?"
"You're heading the New York house. There's been a lot of activity up there."
"That means I'll have to step in to help the mutant kids too," he warned.
"I know that. I think it's a good idea." Xander grinned. "The peaceful community has gotten nicer to them recently. It should help. There's also a lot of costumed sorts to help with things."
"That'll be nice, no more tricking militias into handling things that're too huge to do on my own."
Giles took off his glasses to stare at him. "Have there really been more than one of those?"
"Three I think? A few of them we raided for weapons and they showed up to help against their wills when they saw what was going on. A few they actually just showed up to help. They didn't want to die so they helped."
"That's exceptional of them. Good job." Xander smiled. "I want a full report, Xander Harris. Every single little bit and date you had." Xander pulled out his phone and looked in it then handed it over. "Oh, I say, a journaling site." Xander nodded. "I'll read this while you cook."
"You might not want to eat."
Giles looked at him. "I've seen some rather nasty things."
"I had to flay a demon to get one of the babies of a slayer out of her."
"That's gross. We'll see though." He settled in to read. Some of it was gross. Some of it was goofy. A few dates. A few battles that the boy shouldn't have gotten into but they were probably necessary at the time. The bigger battles that were stomach churning in the short reports' details. He blinked at a few then looked at the boy, who shrugged. One got Xander swatted. "Quit dating, Xander." He got back to it. By the time the stew was nicely thick he was done and horrified but proud. "I'm appalled you had to do all that but rather excited that you could. How on earth?"
"Harris luck," he said dryly.
"Why didn't you call for slayers more often?"
"Why damage them? I would've if I thought we couldn't handle it with what we had. I nearly did a few times but then the tide turned and we managed it. I healed with a lot of talk with the god Ow." He handed Giles a bowl of stew.
Giles dug in, nodding. "Not enough salt but good." Xander handed a few takeout containers of salt and they settled in to eat. "You had at least four I would've expected you to call in for help. It was your right."
"Most of them were around yours."
"I saw. That's a bad precedent." One of the witches came out with some biscuits. "Thank you, Miranda."
"You're welcome, Rupert and Xander." She smiled. "That smells nice."
"You can have some too if you want but it's got cow in it."
"No thank you, dear. I'm a vegetarian." She smiled at him. "Your axe is radiating again."
Xander looked at it. "If you draw problems here I'm too tired to take you back from them." It quit glowing. He grinned at her. She walked off shaking her head but smiling. "Thanks, baby." He patted his axe and got back to eating.
Giles shook his head. The boy was goofy but unique. Very unique.
Humans Causing Hunts.