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My ....Ship?

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Notes: Sere and wcw138 both prompted me to use the ship on the former page's front page as a bunny. Not exactly the Dread Pirate Roberts.... Now a series!


My ....Ship?




An older, wiser, stronger Xander stared at the younger him. "When was I really that young?" he muttered to himself. "So damn puppy. Damn."

The muttering apparently caught the younger Xander's attention. "Wow, I did not age well," he said a bit more loudly but mostly to himself. The older him had white/gray hair that looked a bit shaggy, like he needed a trim. His eyepatch wasn't covering all the scars at the moment. He had a prosthetic foot for some reason. This did not bode well for him. "Did I really seriously get into something I shouldn't have?" he asked a bit more loudly, walking closer to himself.

"Yeah but it was a good thing to do in that case." He looked down at his foot then at the kid of him. "Maybe you can change that." He held up a book. "Repeat after me. This is my new bible and I will follow the advice in it so I don't quite end up like this." He held it out.

"My new bible has advice on how to deal with the bitchiness?"

"Yeah, survive it. Just wait until there's over two hundred slayers," he said dryly. "Who all think we're *normal* like it's a disease. Even after you save their perky asses." He waved the book.

The younger Xander took it to tuck into his pocket. "So...how?" he asked with a hand wave.

"Don't worry, you'll get there. Maybe a bit differently than I did though." He grinned and winked. "Oh, and I forgot to put in there that Starbucks is actually an evil empire in the making, not just an annoying one. And that Franklin wasn't too bad of a bad guy to know, and fun to be around." He patted the younger him on the cheek. "Let me go back to helping destroy the earth before the slayers manage it. Oh, and make better friends with Andrew when the time comes. He's the guy that built the prosthetic and he can do a lot more with that stuff he took from Warren after he died." He clicked a remote that he dropped before being hit by a beam of light.

"Dude, we live in Star Trek's world?" he demanded to the little clicky device. He picked it up to put with the book and walked off to consider that ominous omen. He had looked really rough. Like not even coming down from a month of blackout drinking was that rough. That didn't make him happy about his future. "Especially if I'm destroying the earth," he muttered as he walked. He pulled out the book to look at.

First, the remote I left you, guard it with your life. It's your graduation present. You can go on that road trip you want. Just remember to bring food when you go up. You won't be able to go grocery shopping for a few weeks. And I do mean more than Twinkies, young me. Tried that, didn't work too well, that's why I learned how to set coordinates.

Younger Xander looked at the book then sighed. "What did I get myself into?" he asked himself as he finished his trek to his after school job. The book and remote went into his backpack. He would've removed the batteries from the remote but he wasn't sure if it was the kind you had to reset to the correct code. That could be a problem since he didn't have a code. Instead he put a note around it that said it was for a friend's garage so he didn't lose it. Maybe that would keep someone from stealing it and whatever it went to. He hoped it went to a garage anyway. It going to something else was going to be very weird.

***

After pre-reading the second entry Xander realized he couldn't read too far ahead or he'd get into trouble. He had nearly done it that time but he had self-corrected for the curse of Cordelia that had barely been mentioned. Though he did skim for important things. One thing kept sticking up at him as he read: Willow had bad magic in her. He had no idea how to handle that part. Giles wouldn't believe him. The book said that Giles wouldn't believe him and would call him petty for trying to lie that way. Maybe Joyce.... Yeah, he could sneak around to talk to her in the morning after Buffy left for school. He looked at the book. A new entry had popped up that said not to skip that test. He really had to graduate high school and be with the other students during graduation to protect them and do his part of the plan. So maybe he'd talk to Joyce later in the afternoon. He could handle this, even with the very weird book giving him advice.

***

Xander knocked on Joyce's door, getting Buffy. "I need Mom advice," he told her. She rolled her eyes and walked off, letting him head to the kitchen. "Hey, Mrs. S. Can I have some Mom advice?"

"Of course, Xander. What sort of Mom advice?" She smiled at him. "We're about to have dinner if you want to stay."

"Nah. I've got to get to my after school job soon." He looked for Buffy then pulled out the book to open to a page, letting her read it. She went stiff faced. He paged back and let her read that page. She winced. He went forward to show her a few other pages. She slumped and grimaced. "Like I said, Mom advice," he said quietly. "Because there's no way I could get other advice."

"How?" she asked.

"I looked really, really rough, had an eyepatch and a fake foot, and then I disappeared into some light. I got left a book and a clicky." He held that up. She sighed. He nodded. "And I don't know what to do about this."

"Could....no, he won't," she agreed, considering it. "Is it a current problem?"

"I'm expecting it to suddenly creep." Buffy came in so he closed the journal and looked at Joyce. "I don't know how to do more than watch for that problem."

"That should be a bigger duty than just you, Xander."

"It's usually my job," Buffy quipped.

Xander looked at her. "I got visited by myself from the future." She walked off laughing. He waited until Buffy was gone. "And he told me about how the two hundred or more slayers treated me the same way that one does," he said loud enough for an eavesdropping Buffy to hear and gasp about. He leaned back to look at her. "There's apparently a huge apocalypse a few years after graduation where we'll need more of you." He grinned. She moaned. "And we have not much chance of warping it at this point. And really, that problem helped be the solution but before then...." He looked at Joyce and shrugged. "I don't know how."

"We could just let it happen and keep this in mind," Joyce offered.

Xander grimaced, then shook his head. "It's already starting. You've seen her do it."

"True." She grimaced but nodded. "Let me talk to that...problem about that issue, Xander." He grinned and nodded. "Thank you for trusting me."

"Not like I could've went to anyone else." Joyce patted him on the cheek. He nodded before putting the book back into his backpack. "Let me get to my gig. Later for patrol, Buffy. I'll be about ten late since I'm on until seven." He left through the backdoor.

Joyce sighed and made herself some tea. Buffy came back in. "It is a problem."

"One that I have to handle?"

"No, it's a problem Willow has to handle," she admitted. Buffy grimaced but shook her head. "It really is, Buffy. Don't worry about it until it starts happening in front of you." She took her tea to her room to think about the fragile young children around her daughter, who was herself a child. The world needed better protectors who were older.

Buffy went to call Willow to see what she was getting into. She had no idea why Willow had to handle a problem Xander had been warned about but she guessed they'd figure it out soon enough.

***

Giles stopped Xander that night after he had reported the stats for patrol, staring at him. "I talked to Joyce," he said.

"Great. I talked to the older me that was missing an eye and a foot. He's the one that gave me the journal."

Giles winced. "Temporal travel is dangerous but can be used in emergencies. How bad did it get?"

"He warned me that the two hundred slayers they had still didn't respect him even after he had saved their asses." Giles shuddered. "And the problem that I went to Joyce about was why there were so many, which was the cure to an earlier apocalypse battle. One after she caused another."

"Oh, dear. May I...." Xander let him see the book. It had a charming spell telling him that if he reacted too soon, things would go horrendously wrong and the world would end. And to like having Tara around because unfortunately she wasn't there for long enough. "Tara?" he asked.

"An addition in the college years."

Giles just nodded, flipping through the book. Mostly that same message popped up but some pages he could read and it was emotionally tiring just hearing how bad it had gotten. He saw how bad the girl got then how it had helped while she still was in recovery. He sat down and slumped in on himself before handing the book back. "You were correct in going to Joyce," he said quietly.

Xander nodded. "I figured you'd tell me I was overreacting due to being thought of as normal again." He stared at him. "You know, there's probably a time line where I didn't stop the guy with the bomb in the basement. Let me know if you figure out how to blunt some of that, Giles." He left him to think.

"What bomb?" he demanded. "Xander?"

Xander turned to walk backwards. "I stopped Jack O'Toole, Giles. It was heavy gossip that they found out he had planted one." He turned back around to go through the doors. He avoided the principal, who had probably heard, but yay. The man was giving him a horrified look. Xander stared back. "Aren't you glad I found him baking that cake as he put it?" The diminutive evil source shuddered and walked off rubbing his arms. Xander went home to deal with the drunk parents. Some things probably wouldn't change even if he could leave town sooner.

***

Xander came in the next day and the principal was waiting on him with an officer. He stared at the officer. "What now?" he asked sarcastically. "Is he having me arrested for not having long enough laces in one sneaker?"

"No. We checked the tape, Harris."

"Which tape? Be more specific? I've got English Lit in twenty minutes."

"The basement tape." He stared at him. "I saw you talking O'Toole down."

"Yeah. I did." He shrugged. "Seemed like the thing to do. Where else would we get tortured the way we do?"

The officer stared at him. "You aren't that hard, kid."

Xander grinned. "You'd be shocked. Really. Especially since my father beats his wife better than you beat yours." The officer huffed. Xander stared at him. "So, why the talk? I did a good thing. Yay me. I have some ethics. We should *all* be happy I have some ethics. After all, not like ethics are taught in *this* school. Even though the state says it should be."

The officer nodded once. "I saw that article. Where is the bomb?"

"I can't move it. If they didn't, no clue." He shrugged. "I walked off after making sure it wouldn't go off accidentally."

"The furry thing?"

"Don't care. Whoever's fine with me. It was helpful. I'm sure they're not the only one in the area either."

"Point," the officer muttered, staring at him. "You know more than you let on."

"Yes I do. Including that your phone is blinking in your shirt pocket. It glows through." The officer looked at it then sighed and put the phone back. "Anything else? I really wanted to grab a soda for breakfast."

"No. If it happens again...."

"That night you guys wouldn't have come out of the office," Xander said bluntly. "Most of us are smart enough to realize that you guys only work in the daytime." He walked around them. "Have a great day, Officer Mike."

"Have fun in school, Harris." He looked at the principal. "Where did it go?"

"I'm guessing it's still in that room since I don't know anyone who can move a barrel of propane that way either." He watched the boy walk off then looked at the officer again. "There's still something wrong with him. He's been more mouthy than usual recently."

"It's being a senior and being about to graduate. We all did it," the officer complained.

"I can make sure he's held back," Snyder sneered.

"Sure, you have another year of him," Cordelia Chase said as she walked past them. "I'm sure you'd *enjoy* that." Snyder shuddered. She went to find Harris herself. She had noticed the weird things and the sudden presence of a journal. She pushed him against his locket. "What did that journal tell you?" she asked quietly.

He stared at her. "Not a whole lot. Why?"

"Uh-huh. Magical?"

"Temporal."

She blinked a few times. "Like from...."

"Older me. Yeah. And by the way, the IRS is not nice to you and yours." He closed his locker, staring at her. "Soon." She shuddered, going to figure that cryptic advice out. He felt the wash of magic go across the school, frowning up at the ceiling. He realized what it was when he went to class and Cordelia was giving him confused looks like she wanted to remember something and couldn't. So memory spell. So apparently he shouldn't be warning about bad things. Sure, he could live with that if he had to. Maybe he'd be more subtle later. After gym class he cornered one of Cordelia's sheep cheerleaders, who sneered at him for daring to be near him.

"What do *you* want?" she sneered.

"When I was at work last night two agent looking people were talking about Cordy's parents. I can't warn her directly, you know she won't take it from me. They were talking like they were going to make her an orphan." She winced. "Can you?"

"Yeah, I can tell her that. That's a good reason for you to get near my magnificence." She stomped off, going to the other cheerleaders to tell them that Harris had overheard bad gossip. Which Cordelia heard and glared at her about. She shrugged. "Maybe you'll get everything if they do of them," she quipped. "More party times in that big house of yours."

"Eww. Then I'd have to clean it," she shot back. "What sort of agents?"

"Harris didn't say, just that you wouldn't take that info from him." She shrugged and played with her hair. "Sucks ya know."

"Yeah but I need to find out what they're doing. Most of the time agents don't take out people without going after the whole family." The girls all grimaced but nodded.

"Hey, if you die, can I have your black sweater?" one asked with a grin. "It'd look killer on my pink dress."

"Yeah, fine. If I die you can have that sweater." She went to find Xander to thump him. "You couldn't tell me yourself?" she demanded.

He looked at her. "I did earlier." She paused then groaned. "Apparently something...Amy Madison happened," he finished more quietly. "IRS." She shuddered. "Yeah."

"Damn it," she muttered as she looked around then headed off to talk to her parents. She really had to do some moving today so she wasn't caught without. She knew what the IRS did to people they went after-they made them poor.

Xander went back to reading his graphic novel. "Maybe I'll become a space cowboy sort," he decided. "Someday we'll get up there and it might be an easy enough job." He flipped the page, watching Andrew and his buddies talk. That problem was for a later time. In a few years.

***

After the graduation battle, Xander was resting in his room. Trying to catch his breath. Trying to calm down his muscles. Trying to calm down himself. He looked at his hand, realizing he had grabbed a stake as soon as he had gotten home and his hands were white he was holding it so hard. He pried the fingers off it and let it drop onto the bed. He made himself suck in a deep breath. Then a second one. Then he went to throw up.

"What's wrong, too much liquor?" his mother sneered.

He glared at her. "I just saw twenty of my classmates killed. Do you mind?" he demanded, making her flinch away from him. "I'd like to finish having my reaction in private." He slammed the door with a kick and went back to trying to control the heaving. He finally got it back under control, getting up to brush his teeth and clean his face off with a washcloth. He stared at himself in the mirror. Yeah, he could see why older him looked so rough if he had seen worse than that battle had been. He sucked in a breath before opening the door, finding his father standing there. "I get to leave tomorrow."

"Want a beer?" he asked more calmly than usual.

"Won't help but thanks."

"You could sleep without nightmares."

Xander stared at him. "I doubt even being blackout drunk would help that. It didn't the last time I got to see one of my classmates dead." His father nodded once and walked off. "Thanks for trying, Dad." His father grunted and went back to his chair in front of the tv. Xander went to his room to finish his packing. He found the clicky device missing and groaned, going to find it in his parent's room. He walked off shaking his head. "It's to a friend's garage. Where I've got the car stored," he called. He remembered the advice to pick up groceries, taking his bag to his car so he could do that. Maybe the finding out what the remote went to would help him calm down.

It wouldn't work when he got into the car with the groceries. Until he got out of town. Then suddenly there was light, and no road, and a garage. He carefully turned off the car and got out, looking around the garage. There was a button that had 'exit' painted above it in red paint. "That's helpful. Thanks, future me." He looked around the garage. Clearly a car geek worked here. It had a lot of tools he couldn't identify but he had seen at his uncle's mechanic's job. He checked the big door. He was in something that was flying. He quickly closed the garage door before he got sucked out into thin air without a parachute. He went to the exit instead. It had to be safer, right?

On the other side was a training area. It had sanded wood floors and a large mirror on one wall. It had wooden swords on another wall and axes on the other whole wall. The last wall with the doors were open so he looked. One had a bathroom with just a toilet and sink. A lot of fluffy towels and a first aid kit. An automatic fan that came on when he flipped on the light. The other door led to a room that looked like a workroom for wood working things. He frowned a bit. Did this whatever-it-was belong to a colony of crafting geeks? Why had his future self been here?

He checked the next room and it was at least a bedroom. His bedroom by the clothes in the closet. He had some of those shirts in his present bag. He checked them, they felt thinner than his version so they were clearly washed more often than his had been. He frowned as he looked around the nicely appointed bedroom. Queen sized bed on a platform. Dresser to the right facing the bed. Closet at one end of the room. Mirror on the wall to check how he looked. Small desk that held things like a hairbrush and an eyewash kit by what was printed on the handmade case. So apparently this was made after he had lost the eye. He went to look at other rooms but he was exhausted. He decided his future self wouldn't mind if he fell asleep.

If some form of Fey were here and he insulted them he'd apologize and claim battle fatigue because he was legitimately exhausted.

***

The next morning, after finding the real bathroom with the real shower, which was really nice and had an adjustable showerhead that he wasn't sure existed yet, he went to find the garage again so he could unpack the groceries. At least he could have some sandwich stuff if he couldn't find the kitchen. Though, he couldn't find the garage. He frowned at the wall he had walked through the day before. "Okay, where is the garage so I can get the groceries and my bag of stuff?" he asked the air.

"The garage is presently in flux," a female voice said from thin air. "It will return in approximately six hours."

Xander looked up. "Are you an AI?"

"I am. You helped create me, Xander."

"That's cool. Do you have a name?"

"I'm Valkyrie. I am the ship."

"Thanks, Valkyrie. Can you lead me to some form of food? I left the bags of groceries in the car trunk when I showed up last night and I'm still trying to figure things out."

"Yes, I'm sure you are. The kitchen is mostly bare but it is out the door to your bedroom then up the hallway."

"Thanks, what door?" She opened it for him. He grinned. "You're really handy, Valkyrie. Thank you." He went to explore that way. A few more bedroom suites that didn't have the extra rooms attached but did have bathrooms. Apparently he really hated to share bathrooms. He found the kitchen. It had two hot pockets in the freezer and a diet coke in the fridge. So that was his breakfast he guessed. "Thank you for having emergency food for me."

"It's no problem."

"So, how did future me get you, Valkyrie?"

"All I know is you, Xander."

"Where did you originally come from?"

"You made me. Then you had to go back to save yourself so you gave me to yourself."

"Okay, that's cool." He could somehow feel she was amused. "I have no idea what's going on." He ate a bite of food and sipped some of his soda. "And what does flux mean? Does that mean the junker's been destroyed?"

"No, the room is presently out of phase. You had an accident with a phase generator in there and haven't been able to find it since then because it's shrunken. Every few days it takes the room out of phase for a few hours. Nothing is harmed, simply unaccessible."

"Okay, apparently I turn into a huge geek. I had no idea I could build ships." He finished his breakfast and went to look out a window that the shade had went up on. He found the latch and opened it then looked out. "Wow, we're a beautiful ship. I did damn good on you." She laughed. He looked up then back inside. "Rotors?"

"They run on unlimited power so we do not have to land at any given point in time."

"That's cool." He closed the window because it was pretty breezy out there. He went to find out the other nearby areas he might need. Including the medical bay since it was next to the kitchen. In some ways he guessed that made sense. "Who helped me make you, Valkyrie?"

"Andrew did a lot of the design work."

"I'll have to thank him when I get home." He patted her wall, moving on to look at the other nearby areas. He found the lounge with the wall of tv's, something he had seen on some rich person's decorating show. He sat down and the screen came alive with scenes of various areas. He tipped his head. None of them were Sunnydale. "Huh. Am I watching specific people?"

"Of course you are. You are watching over your slayers," the ship said.

"Okay. That's cool. Why no Sunnydale?"

"It was destroyed in the year 2003."

Xander looked up at the ceiling again, frowning. "We destroyed the town?"

"I am not aware of what caused that problem. That is blocked from me at the moment due to the temporal issue it could cause."

Xander nodded once. "Sure, I get that. Definitely something to keep in mind for future apartment renting though." He let the frown clear up and watched the young women. He could tell who the watchers were with most of the girls, they were being assholes to them. "That's seriously depressing. Can we change to regular tv but save the settings so I can come back to them when it's closer to time to meet them?"

"Of course," Valkyrie said patiently. She turned it to the cartoon channel. "This is your usual default channel. Did you want another?"

"No, I'm cool with cartoons. Thanks, Valkyrie." He settled deeper into the couch to think about what he had learned. "What was my job when I had to go back to save myself?"

"Lazy world domination expert and backup to the slayer forces," the ship said promptly. "Even when they complained about your other job."

Xander looked up then nodded once. "Sure. I can appreciate that job title I guess." He grinned. "Did I take over anywhere important?"

"That is locked information due to the temporal references."

"That's cool. Sometimes the fun part is getting there," he assured her. He laid on his side to watch cartoons. "Let me know when I can get stuff out of the car please. By then it'll be about lunch hopefully."

"I can do so." She sounded very chipper. "Are you going to rest some more?"

"Yeah, I probably am. I've been going for a while now thanks to the last battle yesterday." He yawned and let himself drift off. He woke up suddenly. "We won't be crashing, right?"

"No, Xander," the ship said patiently. "We won't be crashing anytime soon. Nothing is going to bring us down and I'm staying out of the flight paths of every plane. No one can find us or see us. You can nap."

"Thank you." He yawned and let himself drift off again to Tom and Jerry. He had always liked them.

***

Xander was back to exploring that night, after he had gotten his stuff out of his junker of a car. He had found an electronics workshop, which he barely understood how to use. He had found a few more bedroom areas. One had a shirt in the closet but nothing else. The others were basically bare outside of sheets. A few more workshop areas. Then he found the command center, which looked more like the tv array in the living room but bigger screens and a keyboard of doom in front of it with a throne to sit on so he could watch things. "Hey, Valkyrie?" he called quietly. "What was I doing before I came back to give you to me?"

"Lazy world domination expert," the ship's AI quipped, sounding happy. "Because the stupid was getting amazingly deep and heavy again."

"Ah. That explains why.... Huh. That's Tony Stark." He frowned. "Um.... Can we tell someone about that?"

"I can call in an anonymous tip. They might not believe me."

"Sure, do that." She paused then the call went up on one of the side screens. The one she called, only called The Colonel, had voicemail. She was nice enough to give him GPS coordinates. Then she hung up and he went back to watching people. He had no idea who a few of them were, yet, but he was sure they were interesting. He got up and went to look around the control area. He had a closet with a suit, like spandex suit, in it. In purple. He frowned because he had seen that one in a comic book. He closed that door and went looking in the other closets. He found a suit that would probably fit him, but he didn't think he was a superhero. "Um...."

"That is not yours, dear," Valkyrie said patiently.

"Oh, good." He grinned at the ceiling. "I didn't think I was superhero sort. Not like Buffy and others who wear spandex, or in her case heels." He quit exploring and went to the woodworking lab. "How do I do this?" he asked since he saw a waiting piece of wood and a diagram of what was needed to be carved. Valkyrie pulled up instructions for him. It wasn't that hard to do, just to get perfectly right. But with practice he'd be able to build the ship in the future so he could come back and give it to himself. Which was weird to think about. He really did want to avoid having a fake eye and a foot if possible, but he still had to bring the ship back to himself or he'd have a paradox and those were never good.

***

By the time he got ready to go home, Xander had fixed all the little decorative areas that were broken, and a broken window that had been hit by a bird a few days earlier. He and the ship had worked out how to bring Xander from wherever he ended up renting so he could continue to build up his skills, and build things for her. After a lot of days, it became his stress relief. Including lying to Anya about not being available. When she decided they were moving in together things got harder but he just told her he was building on a speciality project. She hated that but thankfully everyone else ignored her complaining about it. So when he found someone who really could help him with a problem he was having...well, he had to get creative.

Valkyrie called him suddenly during a patrol and brought him up as soon as he could get out of sight. "Xander, this person is important to us."

Xander watched the screen, then nodded. "Can we snatch him? And what do we tell him?"

"He is like our second child," she admitted. She took the young man from the incident site, making him flinch as he landed and looked around. "Welcome, Scott."

He blinked, looking around. "What the fuck?" he asked impatiently.

Xander leaned in. "She's Valkyrie. Apparently you helped me build her in a few years. Want some water or need medical?"

"Ummmmmm....."

Xander grinned. "Dude, I've seen weirder than you. Seriously, seen weirder. Need medical?"

"No, I'm fine. Who're you?"

"Xander." He waved him out of the landing area. "This is the command center."

Scott looked around, blinking a few more times. "I built this?"

"Helped," the ship said, seemingly happy. "Then Xander had to come back to give me to himself."

Xander shrugged but grinned. "No clue. By the time I do that I was looking kinda tired and old, had a fake eye and a fake foot, and I'm guessing it got really horrifyingly bad."

Scott nodded just once. "Okay. That explains a few things."

Xander punched him on the arm. "Right now I'm working on upping some of her things that got broken before she came back. She said you needed to be rescued so she did."

Scott nodded a few times this time and grinned a bit. "This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen."

"I live in Sunnydale, it's not that weird. Weird is having a vampire who can't eat people being more trustworthy than your friends. And I don't trust him further than I can shotput him."

"Okay, I can see that," he agreed. He patted him on the arm. "Thanks for the rescuing." Xander grinned and waved a hand at the consol. "Thank you, Ma'am."

"You're welcome, Scott, and call me Valkyrie please."

"Sure, I can do that." He took his dark shirt off and stretched, popping his shoulders. "That's better. Um....water?" he asked Xander.

"Kitchen is this way and I've stocked it a few times so I have stuff when I'm carving stuff." He took him to look at the kitchen. "I have the feeling you're the guy that built the engines."

"This is a total paradox."

"Yeah but if we don't, then we're probably screwed later on."

"Yeah, I can see that happening. Was it just us?"

"And some from Andrew, who I know but he's still wrapped up in being an evil overlord wannabe. Apparently he also built my future prosthetic foot." He grimaced. "I'm hoping I can sidestep that and the fake eye the older me had." He got him into the kitchen, letting him scrounge. Then he handed over the journal. "Older me gave that to me."

Scott sat down to look through it, frowning as he read what he could. Some of it was blocked to him. "Well, damn." He frowned. "At least my daughter's going to be all right." He turned the page, frowning. "Huh." He shook his head, putting the journal onto a clear part of the counter. "So....." He sipped his bottle of water.

Xander shrugged. "I'm just making it up as I go along and figuring out how to build all this." He waved a hand around. "I'm doing great with the decorative touches. I've learned a lot of carving stuff thanks to working on her. She's really pretty too. Oh! And we have a phase generator that's shrunken and lost in the garage. It's been out of phase now for six days this time and I can't find it."

"I'll see if I can build a sensor." Scott finished his water and threw the bottle into the recycling bin.

Xander's phone rang and he sighed. "Yeah, Anya," he said as he answered. Scott winced when he could hear the ranting she was doing from twelve feet away without the phone being on speaker. "No, I'm working on the building project. Nope, I can't tell you. Sorry." He sipped his own water. "Taking a water break while I talk with a coworker. No, he's not going to flirt with me, Anya." He hung up on her next ranting with a sigh. "Sorry. Girlfriend who decided she's moved in."

"Dump her. Take it from my experience, women who yell like that aren't good for you."

"If I do that, she gets her powers back and I'd hate to be tortured by her and her buddies."

"Powers?"

"Anya used to be a vengeance demon."

"Demons are real?"

"Yeah," Xander said with a nod. He took him to the tv room and turned it to Sunnydale. "That's Spike, he's my present annoyance and the vampire I mentioned earlier. The three green things....are dangerous and trying to kill him. They take silver to kill." He considered it. "Hey, Val...." He disappeared and killed two of the demons then grinned and waved at Spike before hitting his remote for the ship, getting sent back. "And that was hunting bad demons," he said as he sat down, checking himself for goo or ichor. "They weren't even the spraying kind, that's a great thing. I hate doing the laundry some weeks."

Scott was making squeaky noises and pointing. Xander nodded with a grin. "My after-work job." He changed the view. "That is Buffy. She's what's known as a slayer. Mystically chosen by some higher beings to be the bane to the demon s who're causing problems. Some slayers have been less discriminating about what they took out, we only handle bad things if we can. Beside her is my girlfriend, Anya, being a bitch and complaining. The redhead is Willow. She's got strong magic and a growing magic addiction." He looked at the older man. "There's only two guys I know anymore. Giles, the old guy cleaning his glasses because Anya's being annoying, and Spike, who I just saved."

Scott patted him on the arm. "You need more sane friends."

"Yeah but if she falls then we're in real trouble. The next slayer is in prison." Scott winced. "Another one won't be called until Faith dies. Since we have the end of the world real often...."

"Real often?" he demanded.

"Like every six, eight months or so?" He grimaced and shrugged. "Some are smaller that could grow into horrible things. Some are horrible things that can get worse. Some are just downright bad."

Scott leaned forward to cradle his head then looked at the kid next to him. "How old are you?"

"Twenty. Nearly twenty-one. Been doing this now for five years in September."

Scott slumped. "I..."

"Hey, not asking you to help with that. Valkyrie has a crush on you helping her. Not asking you to help us in Sunnydale. Sunnydale drives people nuts." He grinned. "Which is probably why I'm dating Anya."

"Yeah, it might be," Scott said dryly. He sat back up to watch what was going on. You could tell by body language that Buffy was being irritated, Anya was complaining a lot about her breasts by the way she was waving her hands at them. Willow was getting huffy and finally moved her hands where no one there could see her and Anya suddenly went silent and glared at Willow, who just walked off. The older guy, Giles, got it undone and nagged her a bit so Anya stomped off calling someone's phone. Xander's phone rang and he sighed. "Does someone tape your town to make some cracked out soap opera?"

"If so, they need to pay me royalties for the acting I have to do," he said dryly. He called Anya back. "You caught me in the bathroom, Ahn." He listened, sinking into the couch and rolling his eyes. "I know orgasms are important to you but I'm busy right now. Yes, it is making me richer. No, I'm not bringing you a present. Because today I'm carving something. Did you want me to start carving you little figurines?" He grinned. "No, I know they're not worth anything but I'm busy. This is work stuff. Sorry!"

He listened to her complain. "Anya, go home, get into that one bottle, and take the little pill please. Keep it up, watch me not come home at all tonight. I don't need this after working all day and then dealing with patrol. No, I'm not going to give up patrol. I'd hate to die from not taking out something that would want me to sleep with them thanks to you bragging about how good I am at it." Scott tried not to laugh. "No, that's a coworker, Anya. The same one I told you about.

"No, he's a guy, Anya, and I'm not a cheating sort. I learned my lesson on that. You're not going to get me to cheat on you. Ever. Even under spell work. Well, I could go strip or something but I'm not going to do that either. Are you better now?" He listened to her complain. "Hmm. Yup, I'll see you tomorrow night." He hung up and turned off his phone with a sigh since he noticed that Willow on the tv was dialing her phone. His phone turned itself on and he grimaced, answering it. "I'm working, Willow. Because no one else I talk to routinely would hack in to turn my phone back on. What's wrong?" She complained.

"No, I got them on my way to my second job. No, I'm doing woodworking on a special project. Not all special projects are bad, Willow. Really, me doing carving stuff on someone's ship is a bad thing?" He listened to her splutter and complain. "Don't really care," he admitted. "I'm having a lot of fun working on the ship." He heard a banging noise. "That was a bird hitting a window so I need to go check it for leaking air. Anything else tonight? No, I'm not going home tonight. Because you made Anya scream and rant, Willow. Next time don't spell her."

He smirked a tiny bit. "She didn't have to say it, Willow. I noticed the change in her voice. She only gets that screechy when you've done something magically to her. Well, personally, she was a vengeance demon, so what could she do with those skills to someone around you the way you do it to her?" He hung up and turned off the phone then threw it behind the tv's. "That way I don't hear it ring next time. Let me go fix the window that pigeon got again." He got up to do that. "You can have any room but mine."

"Sure, thanks, kid." He watched him go then went back to watching Willow complain on the screens. He heard the phone ring but he wasn't going to answer it for the kid. Then a different ringtone started. Apparently she had done something to it because he felt he had to answer it. "Xander's phone," he answered. "He's in another room. No, I'm Scott. I'm working with him." He listened. This one was less screechy so probably Willow. "No, I'm an electrical engineer, miss. We're working together on this really pretty ship. Because he's doing a lot of decorative work and fixing a broken window right now. No, he left his phone so he could go handle delicate things."

He got comfortable. "I wouldn't know anything about that. I just found out he's got a girlfriend tonight when you made her call and scream at him. No, I'm not going to hand his phone to him. He's rather upset and probably doesn't need to be that upset while he's working with power tools." He felt the spell start to make him give Xander his phone so hung up and turned the phone back off and pulled out the battery. It almost turned back on but without the battery the spell took too much energy so it ended. He sighed in pleasure. "The guy needs more friends," he told himself. "Before those ones get him killed."

"At least they won't sacrifice me, probably," Xander said as he walked past the doorway. "Which one called back?"

"Willow. She tried to make me give the phone to you via magic."

"That's a compulsion." He came back. "Are you okay? Feeling the need to bark?"

"Can she do that?" he demanded.

"Um, yeah. Yes she can. Though she's more used to a witch that did it to herself and became a rat to save herself."

Scott shook his head quickly. "I'll watch out for fur sprouting." Xander grinned. "You need better friends."

"Yeah but that's all I have around me. I'm kinda needed, even if they ignore it." He shrugged. "You do what you gotta do. Rooms are up the hall this way," he said with a point. "Engine room is downstairs and the stairs are next to the kitchen in what looks like a closet. I'm going to go workout in the sparring room."

"Sure. Does the engine need help tonight?"

Xander shrugged. "I have no clue about anything enginey." He grinned. "But I know that she's set up to run forever if she has to. I don't know if we need to add oil or anything like that."

"That's just silly, Xander," Valkyrie said patiently. "I'd tell you and lead you to my oil intake tube if I needed some."

He grinned up at the ceiling. "I know you would but I still have no idea about anything enginey. I barely understand how they work. Do you need him to do something tonight?"

"No, he can look over my magnificence tomorrow. Both of you boys need to rest."

"I need to work on the anger before I build a death ray from a comic book's plans," Xander quipped as he walked off. "Because that would definitely cause a problem for the future of you."

"We have one of those," she said. "Scott built it from plans he found in Andrew's things because he was frustrated with the people he worked with."

Scott grinned at the ceiling. "Someone has a plan for a death ray?"

"The three geeks in Sunnydale have a lot of plans that are screwy. Warren built his own realistic girlfriend." He gave him a pointed look. "Andrew and Jonathan are both equal geeks of bad ideas. They want to be Lex Luthor."

"Do they have his skills?"

"I...." Xander shrugged. "It's possible they'll trip into it. One of them had a mystical plot that nearly worked."

Scott sighed again, shaking his head. "How old are they?"

"My former classmates."

"Ah." He nodded once. "Can we get their ideas?"

"Hell. Yes." He grinned. "Yes I can. And have." He pointed. "They're in the main electronics lab." Scott went to look at those. Xander went to workout to relieve some stress. He grinned when he heard Scott complaining loudly about geeks with weird ideas but apparently they were good enough to be built.

***

Scott was in prison for a month when he got his first letter. He stared at the sender's name, blinking at it for a few minutes before he opened it. Reading it meant he had to decode some seemingly normal phrases, which he knew Xander didn't do because of the time they had spent on the ship together. He frowned as he reread one section. If that was a code...the kid was probably in huge trouble. If it wasn't...Xander was probably in real trouble. "Sure," he decided, putting it into his book as a bookmark. He rubbed his eyes and laid down on his bunk to think about Xander and his messed up life. If the kid ended up in this prison he might have to help him protect himself. Xander's mouthiness would get him into fast trouble here.

His roomie looked down from the top bunk. "Bad news from home?"

"A friend I worked beside a few times with weird news. Including that they just ran a military group out of their town for torturing people." He frowned. "Xander's town is super weird."

"Where's he from?"

"Sunnydale."

"I heard about a guy from there in here. They have him in solitary because apparently he's haunted and screams all the time."

"I have no idea about any of that. I just met Xander a few months ago to work beside him on something." He frowned up at him. "Any idea why that town's so weird?"

"No idea but almost no one ever seems to come from there."

"Huh." He nodded. "Xander's a bit weird but he seemed pretty nice." He looked at the guard staring at him. "What?"

"Sunnydale?" the guard asked.

"I met a guy named Xander at one of my jobs. He's from there. Wrote to me."

"Sunnydale's just weird and no one talks about it, Lang. Things are worse than Hollyweird there." He walked off to let the others know that Lang knew something about Sunnydale but not anything real, just had a friend there.

Scott shrugged. "Sure, I get that. I won't wonder too much before I end up screaming at ghosts too." His roomie laughed but nodded that was a good idea.

***

A little over a year later, Xander looked at the book he checked each day. Today's...well, it was a bad thing. "Hey, Valkyrie, can we kidnap Tara?"

"No, Xander. That might change the time stream too much."

"Hm." He grimaced but grabbed a few things and went back to Sunnydale for the day. He went to find Tara, finding them all at Buffy's house. "Tara?" She looked at him and smiled slightly. "I need you to get out of town for at least a week."

"Hey! She's fine!" Willow complained.

Xander looked at her. "I found a book that lists her death this week, Willow. I'd like to spare Tara if we can. Don't you?"

"Of course!"

"Then let's get Tara out of town for the week." He stared at her.

"It can't be right," she snorted.

"It's a historical account by a Watcher done in ten years." Tara winced. "So....can you do a great thing and go hit a music festival or something? Please?" He gave her the puppy eyes. "Pretty please?"

She pushed her hair back. "I can go hide. Where did I supposedly die?"

"Here, today." Tara winced and backed away from the windows. "Please?" She nodded. "Good. Giles, come get Tara to take her somewhere safe," he called. Giles came up the stairs looking confused. "At that special project is a book that was hidden. It was written in ten years by a Watcher. It listed today as being a reminiscing point for Tara."

"We can definitely guard her," he agreed, hurrying the young woman off. There were many times he liked Tara more than Willow these days. He hoped they could save her. He saw one of their super geeks and groaned. He was pulling away when he heard the shot but Tara was more important. He hoped it wasn't Buffy being hurt. Later that night he went to Xander in the hospital. Buffy had been grazed. Xander had gotten hit on the ribs but the bones had stopped the bullet that had went through Buffy's shoulder line. Xander blinked at him, shrugging some and holding his side. "What would have happened?" he asked quietly.

"She would've died from the same shot that got me. Better a new scar than a funeral."

Giles nodded. "Indeed. Are you staying tonight?"

"Fuck no," he agreed, sitting up. "I'm leaving," he called as he unhooked his IV and turned off the machine. The nurse brought him a bandage with a grimace but had his paperwork too. "Thank you. You guys were very nice to me today." He grinned and signed himself out, taking his clothes out of the bag in the drawer. He got changed and went to sleep on Giles' couch. Anya was huffy about that. She hadn't wanted him to change history. So he wasn't talking to his girlfriend at the moment.

Thankfully, Giles agreed with him so Anya could just complain a lot to Buffy.

***

Xander had kept up a casual letter relationship with Scott until he got released. Then he got to talk to him again. Things were weird. Very weird when Scott got his uniform. Though, Hope had spotted them talking once and just rolled her eyes when Xander had staked the vampire stalking her later that night. Then he grinned at her and waved the stake before walking off. From what Scott said, she hadn't even mentioned it to anyone but decided Xander was very weird.

So when Xander came up on a really hard spot that he knew was going to happen, but he was hoping to avoid, he understood why you made the choice to go in anyway. He warned Scott to tell Hope to evacuate the area around Sunnydale if possible. Then he went to the battle with the minion of the First Evil.

***

Scott got beamed onto the ship, looking around. "Valkyrie, where's Xander?"

"Resting in the infirmary," the ship said, sounding worried. "I called you because he's clearly running a fever."

"I'm fine," Xander called. He walked up the hall. Scott stared at his eyepatch. "It was too important, I couldn't not get this one. I'm still hoping to avoid the fake foot though." He leaned on the wall. "I'm fine."

"Bull." He moved closer, testing his forehead like he would his daughter. Xander ducked away the same way too. "Hold still. Cassie's better at being sick."

"She's a girl. They're always stronger." Scott nodded, pressing on his cheek gently. "I'm fine. I just really wanted some alone time to sulk. By the way, in two weeks, we're going to have a huge battle that will probably shut the town." He stared at him. "Get your female type person to please set off something to distract everyone? We're already working on evacuations."

"How bad is it going to be?"

"By the vision I had, the whole town's going to be sucked into the hellmouth."

"First, hellmouth?"

"Hole of evil that draws bad things." He grinned. "Under the high school no less." Scott winced, shaking his head quickly. "Yeah, so that's why I radiate a bit."

Scott stared at him. "Okay. Battle? We need help?"

"We need to get at least seven of the potential slayers we have into the hole, to the altar to bleed on it, then out of the hole." He grinned an insane grin. "We have twenty people, total. I don't think you'll be great help but if Hope has a mole on her shoulder...."

"She does. Crap."

"You can warn her. She'll probably get a funny feeling if she's not too old or whatever. I have no idea how the calling works."

"I'll...talk to her about it later. Let's get you looked over. Do you have antibiotics and pain killers? I have a questionable contact I can probably get painkillers from."

Xander snorted. "They don't work!" He stared at his buddy. "They've never worked." Scott winced a tiny bit. "Yeah so I'm in a great mood and why I wanted to sulk tonight. Valkyrie got fussy and called you."

"You could use the help. Let me tell Hope." He sent her a message and followed Xander back to the infirmary area. "Is it clean?"

"No clue." Xander shrugged and grinned. "Our hospital of killing people took out the damaged eye." He removed the eyepatch to let Scott see.

Scott looked and grimaced. "That is nasty." Xander shrugged but he kept him from putting the patch back on. "So is that. You've had some seeping, Xander. Let's clean the outside." He got some alcohol and gauze to clean the cheek area and then the eye patch. His phone went off. He looked. "That's Hope." He answered it, putting the phone between his shoulder and ear. "Yeah? No, I'm helping Xander. He just lost his eye, Hope. Oh, he said they're having a huge battle in two weeks and if that mole means you've ever heard about the Watchers Council you may feel funny then but we can't help. The town might be going down in the battle though. Yup, him. No, he's not one of them."

"No, I just jumped in because one tiny, blonde girl shouldn't have to save the earth by herself," Xander quipped. "Probably the best and yet worst decision in my life."

"Hear that?" Scott asked her. "Yup. No, he lost an eye, Hope. I...I don't know." He put the phone on mute. "Hey, Valkyrie, are you forbidden to bring up Hope?"

"No, Scott, not in the least," the ship said. "Especially if she can help you help Xander. I worry about him. His fever is still bad seeming and he's probably got an infection."

"And I have antibiotics, dear," Xander told her. "I'm fine. Really."

"You are not," she said firmly. "I will bring Miss Hope up."

Scott hung up when Hope appeared near them. He waved a hand. "I have no idea what happened."

"The minion had a pointy thumbnail," Xander said. "I'm okay. Really. They removed the eye and cleaned it up at the hospital."

Hope came over, tipping Xander's head up to look at it. "It could probably be rinsed out." She grimaced. "You have dried blood, kid." She looked around, finding the saline solution. "On your back."

"Usually only dangerous and deadly women say that to me," he quipped with a grin for her.

She snorted and pushed him back. "I'm not your type. I'm a good woman. Date Scott." She rinsed his eye socket for him and let him flip onto his side to let it drain into the bowl she handed him. She looked at Scott. "What is this place?"

"Xander's fortress of getting away from nagging girls," he quipped with a grin. "Apparently sometime in the future I helped build her." He took her to the window so she could open it and look at the ship. She moaned. "Xander in the future brought Valkyrie, the ship, back here to give to himself to save things."

"I'm still hoping I don't need the prosthetic foot," Xander complained. "This time was too important even with the probable injury happening."

"You're both nuts," Hope told them, smirking at Xander. "You really are."

"Wait three weeks and tell me that then so I can have a vacation," he quipped back. "By then I'll be in LA recovering from a battle by the visions."

She winced. "That's going to suck for LA."

"It's going to suck for Sunnydale since it's going to fall in."

"Yeah, that would." She came over to check his eye socket again since it had quit draining. "It looks less gross." He rolled his remaining eye. Scott handed back the cleaned eyepatch, letting Xander cover the hole again. She tested his fever. "Antibiotics?" He pointed at the bottle. She looked then called someone, getting him something stronger. "You can't go into the battle with an infection. You'll die."

He grinned slightly. "Thanks, Hope."

"Welcome." She looked at Scott. "Where are we parked?"

"In air above the ocean near Sunnydale," he said with a shrug. "Apparently she can't get into Sunnydale itself for some reason Xander called a hellmouth."

"A what?" she demanded, looking at the kid. Who got up with a groan and led them to the library so he could get her the book. Then he laid down on a couch in there because he was dizzy. She flipped through it until she came to a diagram about a portal, reading about it. "That's...."

"Under his high school he said." He grinned at her. "Which is why Sunnydale is so weird."

"And other areas. There's a list in the book somewhere," Xander said.

She flipped until she found it. "We are never moving anything to Cleveland," she announced, letting Scott have that. "Where's that one that's just coordinates?"

"Africa. Upper mid Africa somewhere."

She sucked in a breath, going back to the book. It had semi-scientific testing on the portal, mostly done in the realm of magic, but she could examine that. It could only help their jobs later on. Scott could fuss a bit over his buddy. She would wonder about a flying ship later, when she could get Scott alone to interrogate him. He had not mentioned this in the past. Scott looked over and grinned at her. "How long?"

"He introduced me to Valkyrie before I went to jail. A few months before." Hope nodded once. "Then he wrote to me in jail about what was going on. Though everyone in the jail didn't want to hear about Sunnydale anything." Xander snorted, shaking his head. "By the way, good idea to let Anya finish growing into a more normal human, Xander."

Xander blinked at him. "We're back to being friends and she lost her job again due to having a conscience."

"Wow. Well, maybe after the battle you guys can date or something."

"Maybe. She considered dating a waste of time."

"I know girls like that," Hope told him. "They're basically trophy wives."

"Anya only wanted presents and orgasms. That's how she put it too. Loudly."

Hope shook her head. "She should move to Vegas. They have high rollers there who're used to women who want things."

"She might," Xander admitted. "After the battle probably."

"Wear a camera," Scott ordered. "Someone will want to know."

"Yeah, I had plans of that." He swallowed. "Let me rest. Napping will help the most."

"Sure, you rest, kid." He patted him on the head, going to the table Hope was reading at. "Anything good?"

"A lot of bad things we've been willfully ignoring." She looked up at him and shrugged slightly. "I'd hate to live there myself."

"Xander joked earlier he was radiated?"

"Yes, he probably is," she agreed, nodding slightly. "But it doesn't look harmful to his body."

"Okay, so nothing he'll want to go into detox for?"

"That I don't know." She went back to reading. "Go check whatever you built."

"Xander thinks I built the engines." She got up to go with him to look at those. It might have come from what she and her father were working on.

Xander grinned. "Those two should have happies," he said quietly. "It'll help them both."

"I can let them know that," Valkyrie offered.

"No, let them figure it out themselves," Xander quipped. "Half the fun is getting there."

"True. I'll point them at the half-finished backup engine he needs to finish."

"Sure. Let me know if I have to help."

"I will, Xander."

Xander drifted off, happy that his buddy was happier.

***

Buffy looked at the thing on Xander's chest. "Why are you wearing a camera?" she demanded.

"So later slayers know what happened without having to live through it. Wouldn't you like a hint of how to do this?"

"Well, yeah," she sighed, walking off to talk to her slayers. She gave her speech and they went inside to do battle with the First Evil.

On the way to LA that night, Xander finally took off the camera, putting it into his pack. He felt like shit. He was exhausted. He was shaky. It was worse than he had after graduation. Though he didn't think he could puke at the moment. He hadn't eaten anything in nearly a day. His phone rang, making him flinch. He looked at the number, answering it. "Hey, Valkyrie. I'm okay, yeah. Soonish. I've got...Anya fell during the battle," he said quietly. "I have to set up the memorial." He swallowed. "Thanks, dear." He hung up and tucked his phone back into his backpack. He leaned his head back, rubbing his forehead to ease the tension headache he was starting.

"You should probably go to the hospital," Willow said from her seat.

"It's post battle stress," he said, not opening his eyes. "I had it after Graduation, after ADAM, and a few other times."

"It could be your eye."

"I still had my eye at graduation, Willow. It felt the same then."

"That could be looking back bias," she said.

He opened his eye to glare at her. "I have things I have to do. Like set up the memorial for the girls that fell and Anya." She flinched. "I have to file for insurance things."

"I've got the forms filled out and signed for you."

"Which is fraud, Willow. What happened to the girl who nagged Jesse about shoplifting a cookie?" He gave her a pointed look. "I can do my own insurance forms and you're not listed as a beneficiary anyway." He closed his eye again and rolled his head back to looking up. That brought up a thought about Anya's insurance. He'd have to file for it too. He got up to get into Willow's bag, taking out the forms for both of them and tearing them up. Then the ones for Buffy and Dawn. He handed her the bag back. Buffy was glaring at him. "Unless she wants to go to jail for fraud...."

"No, I can do the insurance stuff," Buffy complained.

"That's good since Dawn's the listed beneficiary and you're still officially dead," he quipped, giving her a pointed look. Buffy winced. "Since Giles has custody of Dawn he should do those." He sat back down. "Beyond that, Anya didn't want Willow to get her things. Or mine since I'm still alive." He leaned over to look at her. "Did you want to help plan the remembrance for the fallen slayers?"

She swallowed. "Do we have to?"

Xander sucked in a breath. "Yes, Buffy, the same way we mourned you when you died." She winced. "Do you want to help make the remembrance plans? I have to do Anya's anyway."

"She doesn't have any friends," Willow complained.

"Really? You mean all the ones she worked with?" Xander asked. "D'Hoffryn asked me to make one for her so her friends could mourn her properly."

She slumped. Buffy swallowed. "You can. You helped me with Mom's. It was tasteful." He nodded at that. "Can you afford that?"

He stared at her. "Yes, Buffy, I can." She slumped but nodded. The bus finally got to the Hyperion in LA, letting them get out before he strangled people. He looked at Gunn. "I need to set up the memorial for the fallen slayers and Anya," he said quietly. "Who do I go see?"

Wesley cleared his throat. "I've got it started, Xander." Xander grinned at him. "I hadn't known about Anya."

"D'Hoffryn asked even though I was going to do it anyway."

Wesley clapped him on the arm. "We can finish the plans tomorrow, once we find out how many?"

"Twelve including Anya," Xander said quietly. "And I had to stop someone from filing out forms for us." He glared at Willow then looked at Wesley. Who patted him again with a small smile. "Can we crash?"

"Go ahead. Ladies, there's rooms upstairs on the third and fourth floors. Find a bed and rest. We'll figure things out tomorrow. Any who need medical let me know so we can handle it." He looked at Xander. "You eye?"

He rubbed over the patch. "I can wash it myself but I should be fine." Wesley nodded. "He can do stitches and things like me and Giles, ladies. If not, go crash and we'll come back together for food and things." They nodded, hiking up the stairs. Xander followed, taking a free room and locking the door to sit on the bed and make himself calm down. He could hear Buffy and Willow hissing about him. "The walls are thin," he called. "And you're both bitches." Willow huffed off down the stairs.

Xander looked up then sighed. "Damn." He called Giles. "I have stopped certain redheaded menaces from filing my insurance for me and Anya's, Giles. And then plotting how to get it from me just now with the blonde thing." He listened. "No, that's fraud and she's not Anya's beneficiary. So she shouldn't get anything anyway. Hmm, she can take me to court over it too. Because if she keeps up, you can fly her to Devon too."

He hung up and laid back with a sigh. It wasn't going to help. He heard Angel going to talk to Buffy, who complained about him. He got up and went to nag her too. Angel tried to get out of the way but he got to hear all about the current plan and agreed that Willow shouldn't get anything if she wasn't listed in the paperwork. Buffy huffed too and slammed her door. Xander looked at Angel. "I need to blow off stress. Sorry." He walked off.

"Go to the bar on East Eighth, about seven or eight blocks to the west, Harris," Angel said quietly. Xander smirked a tiny bit and nodded as he walked off. When Xander came back he was a bit beaten up but he seemed more relaxed. "You good?" Angel asked, staring at the human.

Xander grinned a bloody grin. "Yes I am. It took six of them but I'm better now. Thanks for the rec." He went up to his room to find his bag gone through. So he went to take them back from the bitches. Including the camera, which he went out to mail. He came back with his bag holding a new lock. Angel smothered a smirk. "I'm not letting Willow steal from me," he said as he walked past the vampire and Gunn. "She needs to grow the fuck up and go back to Devon."

Wesley met him in the hallway. "I called the locals we work with. They said that Willow's proclaiming herself the head of the Council."

"Gee, I think that's Giles' job," he said dryly. "Can we watch him spank her?"

"Probably. He felt the same way."

"I can tell you if she steals from me I'm going to paddle her and it will be a public event." They shared a look then Xander grinned. "Let me know."

"I can do that. Do you need an ice pack?"

"No, I wore out the anger and stress the easy way. Five vampires and a demon." He went up to another free room and laid down there. Someone tried to get in so he threw a stake at them, making Willow shriek as she fled. He laid back down, waving at Gunn when he stomped up. "Breaking into my room this time. She's not even a good thief."

"Is it going to be okay?" Gunn asked.

Xander nodded. "She'll straighten up in a few days. When whatever crackhead plan she's got dies."

"We need it to restart the Council!" she sneered from the hallway.

"I could've sworn Giles was still alive," he shot back. "That's his job and you don't steal from me or from Anya for that, Willow. We'll see you in jail. I quit being nice years ago." She flinched back. "The only one that would've been nicely sneering at you was Anya and she's dead now." He gave her a pointed look. "You leave me and mine the fuck alone." She stomped off. "By the way, your mom's in Bermuda," he called after her with a grin and a wave. "She'd probably really like a letter." She let out a shriek and slammed her door. He looked at Gunn. "I'm sorry her Goddess-self is acting out and causing so much stress. I promise I won't smack her around until tomorrow."

"Is it going to be safe for you to go with them?" he asked.

Xander shrugged. "I don't really want to. I was going to offer to go after the missing slayers. Explain things to them so they know what's going on, do their initial training, that stuff. If only because they can't nag me in Africa or Asia. Or use magic that far since Willow's magic is getting out of hand again." Angel was walking past them looking grim. Xander grinned. "I'm going to paddle her tomorrow if Giles doesn't."

"I'm sure he can. He'll be here in the morning." Xander nodded, laying back down. Gunn shut the door and went to make sure Angel wasn't eating the young woman. Instead he was nagging her about how stupid she was being and how much stress she was causing. Gunn cleared his throat. "When did the kid lose his eye?"

"Few weeks back," Angel said. "It was all over the demon networks. They thought he might retire."

"He said he was thinking about going after the missing girls," Gunn said.

"It's a good plan for him," Giles agreed from the hallway. "If we're talking about Xander. Gunn nodded. "That would be helpful and let him have time to grieve and calm down." He looked at Willow, then at Angel. "Magic?"

"Some," he agreed. He got out of the way.

"Harris said he wanted to spank her," Gunn admitted, getting out of the way too. He knew the look on the old guy's face. He wanted out of the scene in case someone had to call the police to stop him. He went to his own room so no one could ask him what had happened.

Angel looked at Giles. "Apparently she was also talking about confiscating the insurance payments to restart the Council."

"We can do that easily without anything Xander or Dawn would get from their insurance policies." Willow backed away from him. He smiled slightly at Angel. "I'll do a muting spell so the others can rest." Angel nodded and got out of there. He had seen Giles going Ripper before. He knew what might happen. The muting spell went up and he could barely hear Giles yelling at her.

***

Scott got the small envelope, taking out the memory card. "Hope," he called. She came in. He waved the camera. "From Xander."

"I had wondered with what was reported." She took the memory card to run on her computer. Scott followed to watch it. They watched, both of them flinching at the first sight of the battle. It was hopeless. Then, it wasn't and they managed it and made it out, though Scott was wincing at a few things. "What?" she asked quietly as they watched the slayers run out over ground that was being sucked into the hole. "That explains the rest." She looked at him. "What?"

He rewound it. "That's Anya," he said with a point. She winced, watching the young seeming woman fall. "He's got to be torn up."

"Probably. You should probably call him."

"His phone's off. I got his voicemail."

"At least you know he made it through the battle well enough to mail this."

Scott nodded. "Still sucks that a bunch of young women, high school girls and college aged girls, had to do that. I'd hate that for Cassie."

"I'd hate that for your miniature clone too," she agreed dryly. She reran the battle footage to watch it again, more slowly this time. She paused it a few times then moved on. "That weapon?"

"Probably mystical since there's only one?" he guessed. "I have no idea about anything like that, Hope. Not my field of experience."

"Point." She tipped her head, zooming in to look at the scythe better. "It's got something carved on it that's sticking out through the blood." She unzoomed and let the film finish playing. "Are you going to run to LA to help him?"

"I'm not sure if I should or not. His friends, the redheaded witch and the blonde in charge, are nagging that he's *normal* a lot. I heard a lot about them doing that to him."

She grimaced. "So are you." He nodded, giving her an unimpressed look. "Great. Did you want to introduce him to my father?"

"No. I don't think Xander would help with that sort of problem. He's been doing that sort of problem since high school." She winced, shaking her head slightly. "He said they had nightly patrols up there."

"Vastly different than what we're working on then," she decided. "How often do you think it'll intersect?"

"I'm not hoping for not too often. I'm not sure I can behead or stake things." She grimaced but nodded once and took the memory card with her to show her father. He could be horrified by that happening so close to them. Then she got to tell him how Scott knew Xander, that one guy she pointed at, and they were basically acquaintances due to a work project. He groaned but said he'd look into things. Hope went back to her sparring room to get the nasty thoughts out of her head.

Scott went to hang out with his daughter. She was his calming point and she never minded watching movies with him to help him calm down.

TBC...
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