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Handy Hunters

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Handy Hunters







Xander looked up as the woman who texted him to meet her in the park strolled up to him looking upset but not totally pissed off. "What's happened? New push to hurt mutant kids or my girls?" he asked, standing up to stare at her.

She pushed him back onto the bench and stared at him. "I got asked to please ask you a few things before the person who wants to know loses her shit, Xander."

"Okay. Sure. Which she?"

"Not important yet. She heard you know about the Hand, that assassin group."

He grimaced. "Yeah, I know a few things about them actually."

"She said you're marked as one of their trainees."

He shook his head. "No. I'm marked that they owe me a favor." She looked confused. He took off his top t-shirt to show her. "That mark's a favor owed." She took a picture with her phone. He grinned at her. "One of their trainees decided to summon a demon to make up for what he lacked as a warrior. So he could get some high spot in their hierarchy." She nodded slowly, recording that story. "So I was drunk, over there helping Hai. She's Cho Anh's youngest half-sister and had been taken by super yucky idiots who had ideas of selling her into marriage against her will.

"So I was helping her out and got injured, then nagged by Cho Anh, who said I shouldn't have went if I didn't know what I was doing. Her sister ripped her a new asshole for that nagging and then pulled up information about me that Cho Anh had a freak-out about. So I was getting drunk to ignore the broken rib and small embolism I had to get sucked out by a demon healer over there. And then in walked a man shaking because the demon that his fellow trainee had summoned tried to flirt with him. He was sent to look for Cho Anh and found me instead. So I went to rescue the warriors, that's all he said about them, and their special temple place."

"Temple place?" Jessica asked, sitting next to him on the bench but facing him.

"Yeah, something about all the new ones gain their rank there and all that." He shrugged but grinned at her. "All I knew was he said they were warriors. Then the demon told me who summoned him when he laughed about me fighting him with a broken rib and no axe in sight. One of the guys kindly let me borrow his katana, which I've only used a few times so I wasn't the greatest at using it.

"But the demon damn sure died in that temple and the power from it dying recharged something that had been dead since the late 1800's or something." He shrugged again. "Some really old guy came out with a creepy guy that leered at me to thank me and offered to do me a favor. I pointed out I didn't need one at that point but if there was a battle locally could I have Cho Anh ask them to jump in. So I'm owed a favor for a battle they need to help us with."

"Super creepy guy that leered have a name?"

"No. Weird glasses. Weirder glasses than Summers wears."

"Maybe Gorgon?"

"He didn't look like a Gorgon," Xander admitted, considering it. "I guess it's possible. I know he hit on me a few days later when I was sober and wellllll....." He looked at his hand and held up a thumb, making her laugh. "Not that great of a time but it was stress relief. It was sex or scotch and I really hate scotch after my parents."

She nodded. "I can see how that happens. Have you run into any of our other bad guys locally for that creepy guy reason?"

He grinned and blew a kiss at one watching them. "Well, there's a boyfriend there," he said with a point. "We weren't talking about you, Gary." Gary grinned. "Just a momentary stress relief some other time." Gary walked off grinning. He looked at Jessica again then grinned. "There's been a few over the years. I really needed some breaking down time after some of those battles and I really hate to drink thanks to having alchie parents. I don't want to turn into them."

"I can get that. What about the rest of the Hand?"

"A few have flirted. Which is kinda hard without doing more than winky looks with the mask on. One of the few women at the training camp when I took out that demon used me to break her virginity problem. The old guy asked if I would do her that honor when she cleared her throat after he told me I was owed a favor in return. He agreed she had a need of a problem solved and the local boys couldn't beat her in a fair fight.

"He said my form sucked but I might be able to beat her. I told him it was only about the third time I'd used a katana but I was more used to battle axes and european swords. They found me a short sword and I fought her and won so she could finally get rid of the stigma of being a virgin. She got happy too. I was nice to her for that and made her real happy. She even kissed my temple on her way out the next morning for morning warmups before breakfast."

Jessica stared at him. "Did they expect you to just grunt, thrust, and then move on?"

"Maybe. Don't know. I know she's still training for a higher position but the last I heard from Cho Anh she had helped her with something against orders so they were pissed at her. But hey, if she shows up over here I'll gladly see if she wants to date or just spar with my girls."

"I can see that, yeah." She turned off her recording feature then looked at him once her phone was back in her pocket. "There's a worry that the Hand know you for some reason."

"Probably that panty flirty reason, yeah. The same as some of the Maggia know me for that reason. That and I kinda turned their head bad guy in the Red Riding Hood cloak into a gerbil." He licked his lips and opened his water to drink. "I really do not want to see him try to interfere with the girls again. And if that sorcerer turned him back, he can watch over him."

"That's kinda mean, Xander."

He grinned. "I would've offered to shove that gerbil up a demon's tail but I was feeling tired that day. I didn't want to go lose a poker game on purpose."

She patted him on the arm, then got up walking off shaking her head. "I'll let that one know."

"Sure. Thanks. Tell them they can come ask me themselves too. I'm not mean unless you're out to hurt one of my girls or take over the world." She waved back but shook her head and tried not to smile. He looked at another staring past boyfriend. "We weren't talking about you either."

"I heard." He sat down next to him. "Your girls are safe."

"That's good!" He stared at him. "Did they hide from those televised battles?"

"Like there was no tomorrow. We got a hint that someone was going to try something so I called my brother down there. He kidnaped all the slayers but Sylvia and put them into protective custody for a few days. Sylvia had to tell Mor's mom to quit screaming at her about things. That you had handled it so they didn't make her baby daughter do it." Xander groaned with a wince. "So Mor's in school. Sylvia dropped her off." Xander looked at him. "She's safe, kid."

"Thanks." He grinned. "Any good news?"

"Not yet. A few people have wondered if you were twins."

"Not since Willow undid what the troll hammer did."

"I don't want to know," he decided, shaking his head. Xander just grinned at him. "Before you went down there?"

"Yeah, back in Sunnydale times. Before the last year out there."

"Good." He patted him on the knee. "What about Billy?"

"Is he alive? Pity."

"Was that Barton? I know he's worked with your girls."

"No. That was one of the boyfriends of a slayer." He grinned. "He was nice to help me when I was captured on purpose to nag that asshole for saying we were getting hitched. As I told him, he didn't make me lay back and think of England. I didn't even think of a Somali camp." His past date laughed, nodding at that. "I'm not into pathetic. Though I could use a good bit of boyfriend or girlfriend right now. Everyone's scared of me thanks to that. I can't even rent one anymore thanks to those being shown. They all think I'm going to break out in flashbacks or go all Jack the Ripper on them. I'm not mean or anything but they can't see that."

"It'll ease soon. They'll forget you, Xander." He patted him again. "That Hood guy is peeved at you."

"Is he not squeaking anymore? I'll have to nag the sorcerer for turning him back."

"Probably, yup. He said that was too extreme."

Xander gave him a look. Then he grinned. "Maybe I'll be less bored doing that today while the girls are in school." His past ex got up and walked off shivering and rubbing himself to get away from the cold chill. Xander considered it then headed for a bar he knew was around. He summoned the idiot to him there. He walked in and found someone unusual but Castle could sit there and sulk if he wanted. When the Hood stomped in, Xander grinned and got up from his poker hand to walk him into the back room that was marked as holding higher demons safe.

"Let's talk about you pissing me the fuck off. I'll even let you have a few allies in there." He kicked the door shut behind him as he noticed who was in there. Perfect. "This is Aragog, Laurent, and Meph. I stripped for a bachelor party for them once." He shoved the Hood into a chair, staring at him. "You're damn lucky I didn't feel like going to lose a poker game after I changed you into a gerbil. You really are." He waved a hand. "Have your allies explain to you why." He grinned.

Aragog, who was a tall, unnaturally skinny dark skinned man with skin that looked almost plastic, stared at the human sorcerer. "Xander, is he one of us?"

"He wants to be." He pulled a chair over to sit down beside Meph, putting his feet up. "Go ahead and tell him, guys. Apparently he's missing information that is going to be really bad if he tries the girls again."

The Hood was staring at the man next to Xander. "That's Mephisto," he said quietly. He had tried to summon that demon more than once and hadn't managed it. Yet this one sat next to him like they were friends.

"Yeah. He tipped really great when I was stripping." He grinned at the demon then at the bad guy. "But he has kinda chilly hands sometimes. Got bounced from the bar twice in one night for trying to grope.

"But he's a demon."

"Yeah, and I'm a demon hunter," Xander quipped with a grin. "At that time he wasn't causing me any problems. I was broken down and had to work at the strip club to get a new car while paying for regular expenses. Wasn't going to get it on my back but the club was okay. Oxnard had a small demon community from LA's community. They were pretty decent and a few recognized me from what I had been doing for a few years at that time. So when I had to dance fill-in instead of doing dishes they were happy to tip me." He grinned. "I was built better back then. But I was also eighteen." He stared at him. "I even had both eyes then." He looked at the demons. "Which demon prompted those idiots to put that on tv?"

"Not me," Meph said with a smirk at him. "Though I'm amused how many decided to pray."

"I wish they'd leave the girls alone," Xander said.

"I can grant that," Meph offered. "For a fee."

Xander snorted, looking at him. "Sure, you touch my soul and loose the hyena for good, Meph." He grinned. "Didn't you try that once in Sunnydale?"

"Yes, I did," he sighed. "And I was mistaken that it would make you easier to capture and turn to my side, Xander. Thankfully you only protected the harem from me."

"Yes I did, and made them happy, happy women." He smirked back. "They were more than happy to squeal prettily for me."

"I remember you turning my harem on me." He stared at him. Xander just grinned. "I could be extremely mean."

"You could also talk to Willow about her not cursing everyone with that J mark she created so they have to leave the slayers alone."

"Yes, I do love that unannounced apprentice she is turning into," he said dryly. "She should still be a pink mule."

The other demons choked while laughing but nodded they agreed. One of them looked at the Hood. "Xander is very much a knight of chaos sometimes. He does what he must to protect others but it's not always nice of him."

"Hey, blowing up bad demons isn't nice work," Xander agreed. "Damn sure beats being eaten though."

The demons nodded. They stared at the Hood, who was huffy. One licked his lips. "I could use a good minion."

"I'm not a minion. Thanks," the Hood said.

Meph laughed. "Of course you're not. But the only way you'll get the sort of power you yearn for is to sacrifice a lot of people and get people onto you for that, or making a deal, boy. Even if you do both you probably won't have the sort of power that Xander already carries since he's a walking hellmouth."

"Yes I am," Xander quipped with a smirk for them. "And she shot more power at me the last time she tried shit. Tara can't even weed it down now." Meph moaned a sexual sounding groan. "Yup, the succuba had to help. They were happy with the free meal. One's down hitting on Willow to distract her from magic." He pulled his wand and sent the huffy redheaded witch trying to bust in back to Cleveland. Then he pulled out his phone to send Giles a warning. "Sorry, she heard herself mentioned in pleasure by you guys." He put his phone up and looked at the bad guy again, grinning at him. "See, you're not worth my stress. I have nineteen hell lords that owe me favors, Hood." The man was spluttering and choking. "And two who owe me blowjobs."

"That would be a nice thing to have," one of the demons hinted.

Xander looked at him. "The only blowjob I'm giving anytime soon is one to my buddy Wade. He enjoys them from a glass." He looked at the Hood again. "Frankly, you're not evil enough to even attract my attention usually. If you were, you'd flirt. Only the really bad like to flirt with me." The demons nodded, all grinning. "I mean, if I've had super high demons, who would count as Lords of Hell, show up to watch me strip and tip me with real money, and then buy me dinner while knowing I'm not putting out that night? You don't measure up, dude.

"Now, do you want to leave my girls alone before I have to make them have happy evil tingles with what I'm going to do to you? Your choice totally but I've been gathering up bad ideas recently since all my boyfriends have fled thanks to one lying ass who decided I was going to marry his lousy fuck." He held up a pinky for the demons to see. "Seriously, the one that thinks I'm marrying him." Meph laughed but nodded at that. "And he thought I'd keep him? Shit, I've seen Molanic demons naked."

One of the demons moaned and shifted in his seat. Xander grinned at him. "Demon spa in Uganda after a battle. Damn he gave great back rubs. Fixed all my back strain in just about ten minutes. And then the stress with his tongue because I didn't want to touch his sperm. He seemed to like it though. I need to find a bad girl or boy with that sort of skill. Guys, set me up?" They all nodded. "Before I have to tell the girls the bad ideas?"

"Definitely. We don't want some of the slayers to have those sort of ideas," Meph said. "My life would much less interesting if they did, Xander."

"One read my journal. She squealed to Buffy, who called Penny's husband to see if he could find me a commando like he occasionally found her to play with. Which somehow got someone in the Hand called." He shook his head quickly. "They did talk to one of my ex's but they're out of the country at the moment. It'll be weeks of sexual frustration and two battles before he'll be back in the US at the earliest."

Meph looked at him. "I could send you an incubus."

"They can't feed from me," Xander admitted. "And they want to be pleasured, not play with me. Which kinda sucks. I hate the lovers that treated me like a sex doll that got happy." He looked at the Hood, grinning at him. The man shrank away from him. Someone opened the door and strolled in to sit on his knee. "Hey," he said, giving her a hug. He knew it was a play when he felt the powers she had sucking at his.

"Talking to a bad guy and some of the people who used to come watch me strip. Sarah, this is Meph, and Aragog," he said with a point. "That's Laurent." She smiled and waved. "Sarah's in on injury leave at the moment, guys." They all nodded at her. "She should probably be at the house though."

"I heard you were in here talking to a bad guy and demons." She pinched him on the arm. "Buffy said I was to stop you from flirting with a demon."

"I'm not flirting. We're sharing things that this bad guy who thinks the slayers will put up with his bullshit didn't hear through my ex's." He patted her on the back. "Go tease Frank out there." He nodded. "He's a semi bad guy because he's all about vengeance. Teach him how to play kitten poker for intel?" She nodded, going to do that. "It's sweet you sent for a slayer to save him," he said, grinning at Meph. "Very sweet of you."

"It's my day off, Xander. I didn't want to see blood spilled or a fight today. Or have to offer someone a gerbil."

"I can go lose a poker game if I change him again. Last time I was just lazy and warning him." He grinned at the Hood, who was trying to get away. "You're really wiggly. Should I use a ferret next time?" The man got up and fled from the room. "Thanks, guys." He grinned. "Let me go send Sarah home." He got up. "If someone wants to go stop Willow's case of crackhead syndrome about the people bothering slayers, please do. I hate having to rescue the girls from humans." He strolled out, staring over Sarah's shoulder. "The three," he told her. She nodded and discarded, letting Xander sit down to deal for them and teach Frank how to really play kitten poker.

Frank Castle looked at Xander. "They're demons."

"I know that." He looked up with a grin. "When I was broken down in Oxnard, I ended up working in the kitchen at a strip club but I had a few nights of fill in dancing. They showed up to tip me really nicely."

Frank Castle winced. "I think I have a headache." He shook his head. "How often does that happen?"

Xander grinned. "Not all that often but somehow I do seem to be a bit of a chaos source. Mostly thanks to the hellmouth I grew up on." He smiled. "That Red Riding Hood guy needed to hear some truths that he hadn't heard yet so we talked before I turned him back into a gerbil and then went to lose a poker game on purpose." Sarah coughed, shaking her head. "I know, not the slayer way but the guy's planning on a huge sacrifice to gain power. I think I should tie him to Willow for a few months so they can stop each others' bad ideas."

"That could backfire and they work together," Sarah reminded him.

"I know. That may take months though." She nodded that was true. "She make it home?"

"Yup."

"Good. You realize the demon summoned you?"

"He sure sounded like Buffy but Buffy had no idea when I checked on Willow." She looked at him. "Does that mean you were more scary than a demon lord?"

He grinned. "I'm without a boyfriend or girlfriend of doom to take the bad ideas out." She shivered. "Exactly."

She looked at Frank. "You could use some stress relief, right?" she asked with a happy grin. "Xander's supposed to be fantastic at all that stuff. All us slayers are like his sisters but none of us would complain about stress relief. We *all* think Xander could really use it sometime in the near future."

Frank Castle looked at her oddly. "I'm still grieving my family, young lady."

"Shit," she muttered then sighed when Xander bopped her on the head. "I know, I'm a good girl, I don't swear. That sucks though." She got back into the card game.

"I'll ask others," he offered, glancing at the grinning Xander. "Doesn't that merc bar you go to sometimes have anyone?"

"A few ex's but they're all out of the country. Which sucks. We have two battles in the next sixteen weeks." Sarah moaned. He looked around. "Hey, guys, there's a slayer level battle, minor version, in about three weeks uptown by Queens. Maybe even on the bridge over since it's a higher level water demon who hates the pollution problem we're creating. It keeps messing up her house basically so she's going to make sure it can't do that anymore.

"The other's in about fifteen weeks we think, and it'll be a major level battle with a set of twin teenage hell goddesses who want to come here to get some freedom to do what they want with their weak humans they can rule over. They're basically brainless, dog purse carrying brats but they're poisonous to humans in an addicting way and the addiction will make you a semi-brainless slave to them. But at least they won't eat you."

"Oooh, yay. The ones that came to New Orleans?" Sarah asked.

"Cousins to it. They took their cousins' idea and upgraded it to a better version with a few more magic users and maybe some male cousins who want to pick up a harem. You girls are all fully covered that day and artillery only, Sarah."

"I'll pass that back," she sighed.

"Good, and tell the brats to quit trying to volunteer to go to a battle on a beach so they have bikini time please. I know it's next year but *really*."

"I can do that too. Buffy had wishful thinking about it." She grinned at the groan Frank let out. "We are girls." She shrugged and went back to sending a message to the slayer bulletin board.

Frank looked at Xander. "They're volunteering for a battle...."

"For beach time in a bikini, yeah." He grinned and nodded. "We want the slayers to be mostly normal young women. Sometimes they have sense too." He smiled. "Not always though."

"Obviously." He put down the cards. "Let me go tell others about those battles."

"Please. And tell Jessica to not show up to the second one. They'll adore her so damn much. Any mutant skill that could be useful in a girlish way is like extra special candy topping to them."

"I can do that," he grunted, walking off shaking his head to clear it.

Xander grinned at her. "Nice work, evil minion. Now change back to the succuba you are, dear. Sarah's in Chicago today." She sighed as she changed. "Thanks." He kissed her on the cheek. "Let me go play some real cards." He strolled off.

She looked at the others, who all moaned. "Yeah, he's been without *way* too long." A few of the demons in there shuddered but the bartender warned the overlord for the area and some others who might know some of that boy's lovers. He could use a happy visit.

***

Xander walked into his usual bar, handing over two stapled sets of papers. Then he stood up on the bar. "Guys, two slayer battles in the next sixteen weeks. The first is minor and she's mad that we're all polluting her river home. She's going to try to take out the Queens bridge or near there in about three weeks. The second is a *major* battle. Any of their body fluids that touch you can addict you to be their slaves. And they don't eat them. They're like the ones that were in New Orleans, their cousins actually."

A few groaned at that. "That's in about fifteen weeks. They're supposed to bring more magic users and maybe even some male cousins who want a harem. So please, jump in." He climbed back down with a bracing hand on the closest commando's head for balance. He put money on the bar. "For a blow job for Wade. I promised I'd buy him one when I was taunting the Hood with some of my demon contacts to make him heave in a corner in envy." He grinned. "He got the point that fucking with the slayers is a really bad idea before I turned him back into a gerbil and went to lose a kitten poker game on purpose." He walked off. "Going home because the girls should be out of school soon. Don't want them to freak out."

"Great, you wanted us to freak out instead," he called after him. He looked at the others then at the bartender, who was shrugging while gulping a glass of beer. "Yeah, we'll spread that and see if we can find anyone who'll fuck him stupid." He started to call around to people.

Cable was in the usual corner trying not to smile. That was the Knight of Chaos that the history books had recorded. Good to know they were at least partially right.

***

Wade looked up from being on Blind Al's couch watching daytime talk shows when someone knocked once as they walked in. "What's up?" he asked, eating a chip.

Weasel put the papers on the table with a takeout cup of drink that Xander had bought for him. "Harris has managed to creep out or scare three major groups today by doing one thing. He bought you the drink. Those are on the upcoming battles. You're both banned for a week because he's being weirder than usual and you need to go talk to your bromance guy." He walked off, slamming the door behind himself.

Wade frowned then shook his head. He did sip the drink carefully but it was his usual blowjob, only a double this time apparently. He looked at the notes, groaning. "Two slayer battles coming up. Yay." Blind Al snorted but waved a hand at him. Wade pulled out his phone to call Xander. "What did you do that creeped out Weasel enough that we're both banned from the bar for a week? The only time I've been banned I was covered in ectoplasm and goo from something."

He listened to what Xander said, and the slayers complaining in the background that Xander knew really high level demons. When Xander told them how he knew them the girls all shuddered and stomped off to go shop that dirty thought away. "So, when you stripped, you had a night where some really higher level demons showed up...Even I know who Mephisto is, Xander." He rubbed his forehead. "Yeah, that's just wrong, dude." He listened to him about that night.

"Well, it's nice they didn't expect anything else than you stripping," he admitted, cracking Al up. He looked at her then shook his head with a sigh. "Yeah, that's creeping even me out, Xander. Why did you take a bad guy to talk to those sort? Oh, he's a magic user doing stupid shit...." He sat up. "Seriously? That hooded guy? Huh. Anyone else hear?" He grinned. "I can't imagine the Punisher in a demon bar at all actually. So...."

He listened. "Yeah, that was handy, Xander. At least he knows to go there now to see if he can suck his cock for favors and powers. No, I think a gerbil is too mundane. Try for a special type of bunny? That way if you go lose him in a poker game on purpose he's more than a nibble of a snack?" He switched ears so he could wipe that one off. "Yeah. Let me hear rumors to see if anyone's going to create a problem about you stripping when you were broke down at eighteen.

"No, I'll see if I can find one of your lovers at the same time. You've reached the creepy stage of needy, Xander. Use any hand, including yours? Soon please? Nah, I doubt he'd play with you. I'll ask around though." He hung up and groaned, hanging his head to shake it. "Jesus, I thought I was screwed up," he complained. "Xander's so warped. Damn it! I have thoughts I don't want or need!"

"I'd have watched that boy strip too. He sounds cute," Al quipped.

"One night he drew super bad demons to tip him, Al. I doubt you're that hard up or evil."

"Hard up yeah. Evil...only if I have to be."

He grinned, kissing her on the head as he got up. "Trust me, you're not evil enough for Xander. He dates an alarming number of arms dealers and assassins." He went to change and talk to others. Though he did come back for the notes on the upcoming battles. He walked into a mafia bar and put the notes on the bar when the bartender glared at him and everyone got *real* quiet.

"Harris had visions about the next two slayer level battles," he announced. "One's going to take out the bridge to Queens for us messing up her river. The other's going to be worse and everyone is invited to step in if you're local. Also, Xander's *seriously* missing his ex's at the moment if anyone can contact one. Before he strips again somewhere and draws even worse ones." He walked off shaking his head. He came back to stare at one. "I heard what he did. Is your hooded guy still sane?"

"Nope," he said, taking a drink of his beer. "He's hiding in his rooms and mumbling. What did he do?"

"Harris apparently had a time stripping when he was younger due to his car blowing up around him. One night a lot of higher demons showed up after a bachelor party. He said he introduced your boss to some of them."

"No wonder!" He nodded, looking smug. "At least that sorcerer changed him back from a gerbil."

Wade leaned down to grin at him. You could see the grin through the mask. "He said he would've went to lose him at a demon poker game but he was feeling lazy." He walked off.

"Yeah, that guy needs to hit a girl or something," he decided, passing that info up to his boss, who was upstairs. All that demon stuff was creepy to them. That was more the Hand's thing than the Maggia's.

***

Giles called Xander, sounding tired when Xander answered the phone. "Xander, why have the girls called to report that you were consorting with higher level hell lords?" he asked patiently.

"Back when I was broken down in Oxnard a few came into the club I had to work at. I introduced a pain in my ass to them earlier so he'd be a bit more scared to come near the girls since the guy was in town anyway."

Giles was rubbing his forehead and sighed at the beginning headache. "I heard you worked in an unsavory environment," he said.

"Yeah, I had to go work in the kitchen of the strip club because Willow blew up my car around me so I wouldn't come back to Sunnydale," he said dryly. "Thankfully I only had to strip a few times as fill in because I sucked at it. Though I did meet some really interesting beings there." He chuckled. "That night, one of the hell lords was having a bachelor party across town so the ones that left came to the club for the rest of their party. Meph was pretty decent and only he tried to grope me, and took being bounced out of the club twice for it with good humor for a demon lord."

"Meph," Giles said, sitting up. "Mephisto?" he demanded.

"Yeah. He tipped me sixty bucks and I wasn't even down to my g-string that night. It was nice enough that the guys bought me dinner and didn't expect anything else from me for it too, Giles. They were pretty decent to me even though one admitted he knew who I was. I joked that I had met Ethan and they all smiled at the nice little chaos guy who they said I should take up as a role model but not for Janus. They wanted me to go to another chaos entity to spread the energy around some.

"I told them I wasn't the praying sort but if they wanted to suck up anything I was putting out they were more than welcome to it. It might mean things didn't get as weird around me as often. As proven by having six hell lords in a strip club in Oxnard and then Lucifer at one other time. Who, again, tipped me pretty damn well even though I sucked at stripping."

Giles moaned. "They could have been trying to obligate you."

"Giles, that tipping is how a stripper makes money. It's like a cab driver being paid for services. Though that night I was down to a g-string and he said I gave him a few dirty ideas to use against some rivals giving him a headache. I teased him and told him if he wanted to make a golem of me to go torment them to make me prettier. He laughed and said that would be too evil."

"Yes, I believe it would be," Giles sighed. "So they didn't ask you to make any sort of deal?"

"They hinted but I didn't take the bait. Or when I brought the super bad sorcerer who wants to open a hellgate for power over his crime family thing to talk to them so he'd be a bit scared to come near the slayers again. He had tried to banish one who was on patrol but a vampire nearly ate him until he shot it. I have no idea why the sorcerer up here changed him back when I made him a gerbil but I guess he's having another pouty ethics day or something."

"You...why did you change him into a gerbil?"

"Because he was trying to take out a few of the slayers." His computer beeped. "I'm working on the report right now. Let me send it down."

Giles got into his dreaded machine to read it when it came in, shuddering. "Xander, why have you taken up chaos duties?" he demanded quietly.

"I haven't. It was a wacky plan that worked, Giles. He's been trying to call on them. It gave them a chance to taunt him and tempt him to try for a real deal, which would keep him out of my hair, and out of the girls' hairs. That way he has to focus on stuff and he knows now that I can do worse than he can." You could tell he was smiling. "My scary rep was sinking, that's why anyone came near the slayers. Now they won't. Not even one of my ex's trying to proclaim we're marrying, and I'd never touch that lousy fuck again because he was pathetic and tiny, will ruin it."

"I don't need to know about your past dalliances unless they're pertinent to the duty, Xander," he said patiently.

"No, he was bad stress relief."

"Wonderful. I've done that a few times myself."

"I had to tell all my ex's that one wasn't telling the truth and I was about to turn him in for it. Thankfully Brad, Penny's husband, backed me up that day when I went to talk to Billy."

"I see." He was still rubbing his forehead. "Does that have to do with this situation?"

"Nope," Xander chirped. "Just another wacky thing happening up here. And why I'm without stress relief."

"Xander, do go rent some if you must," Giles ordered. "Before you get more creepy."

"I'm not creepy, Giles. Just...bouncy."

"Which is rather creepy, Xander. Especially when you've got weapons around you. Go rent someone, young man." He hung up and printed the report to go put into the book. He walked into the library. "What sort of demon community does Oxnard have?" he asked.

"Mostly overspill from LA's community. Pretty quiet and Xander said they were peacefully living there as a group," Buffy said. "Why?" She looked up from helping one of the minis with her homework. "Something happen?"

"Apparently Willow blew up his car?" he asked patiently.

"He said so. She said she didn't and said she didn't know anything about explosives but she wouldn't look at me when she said it so possibly. Why?"

"Apparently when Xander was there working at the strip club a few higher demons had gathered for one's bachelor party and some of the higher ones ended up watching him strip that night when they got bored." She went pale, gripping the table. "He nicely didn't take anything but his rightful tips from them but said they only hinted that they could help him." She winced, but nodded quickly. "Then somehow a sorcerer in New York was bothering the slayers so he introduced those demons to that sorcerer." He put the report on top of the Book of Problems. The watcher over that read the report and burst out laughing. "Without indebting himself apparently."

"I like the part about the gerbil," the watcher said, taking the book to put that report into it. "Is he still debt free?"

"Yes, he said he is, but one of his former stress relief moments has been lying about them staying together so he's been without any. I've ordered him to go rent some if he had to."

Buffy made a whining noise. "Oh, damn. His poor girls. Bouncy, uptight Xander." She shuddered.

The mini slayer kicked her under the table. "Behave! Xander does a lot more work than many of the watchers and he needs cuddles. Not like he gets happy from shopping like you do." She looked at Giles. "We can send him cookies?"

"He may appreciate that, Diedre," he said with a pat to her shoulder. "He does like sweets." He walked off. "He said next time he'd lose a poker game with the sorcerer changed over."

"That may destabilize the criminal element some but that may not be a bad thing," that watcher admitted. "It might even ease some problems." Buffy walked out moaning.

"She sounds like a ghost today," the mini quipped. "All moany and whining about stuff that's got nothing to do with her or us. Maybe she should go find a panty friend too."

"It might help her mood, yes," the watcher agreed. "We can have the older encourage her to do that later." Really, he thought that boy was like the eye of a hurricane, spinning chaos out and making others spin to steady themselves against it so it created whirls of chaos that spread all over. It would certainly explain those battles they hadn't been told about.

***

Xander was on patrol with a few of the girls when a reporter 'ran into him', making him snort when she said it was a lucky thing she had. "What do you want?" he demanded. "We at the Council don't really like the press."

"What do you say to the allegations that if you hadn't been down in Africa training people that some incidents wouldn't have happened? Like that one guy in Malawi?"

He snorted, staring at her in the most cold manner he could. "I say that guy in Malawi, who was a bigger town's mayor, was doing a rite that took over fifty years to complete and he had completed it three days before I got anywhere near that area. Kinda proves that wrong since I wasn't even born when he started it. People like that do it for the power, woman. Like some people run for president for the power, he wasn't getting enough and decided to get more.

"I hope like hell he likes what he got since he killed, by eating them, eighty-four people and killed another ten *children* by flaying the skin from their living bodies and then cutting out their working organs to burn in offering." She flinched back. "I think people who think things like that need to find a God of their choosing and learn to pray for mercy too because I sure as hell don't have any for them and their stupidness.

"Clearly it's becoming an epidemic that needs to be corrected." He stared her down, making her back away slowly. "Anything else tonight? I have to go handle a few undead people who snack on people like you." She turned and ran. "Have a great night," he called, waving and smiling after her.

One of the slayers looked over. "Way to make the reporter go find God," she quipped.

"Good, she could probably use some morals since she's one that printed a mini's address online so people would go attack Mimi." He walked off with the girls. "Six undead, right?" They nodded. "All here and the morgue?"

"Unless we find one walking," another slayer quipped. She pointed.

Xander looked then shook his head. "He's not like these others, Steph. Not him. He's too dangerous without major weapons. I have the axe with me but he's older and powerful. More than Dracula was when he showed up."

"Beheading," Steph guessed, staring at the amused looking vampire floating above the ground.

"No," Xander said. "Burning his heart. I don't have thermite on me." The vampire flew off laughing. Xander considered shooting at him but not this time. He didn't have the right weapons on him. "If we see him feeding, we'll do what we can and call for backup," he reminded them quietly. They nodded. They got the vamps there, then went to the morgue to handle their problems. They found a dead ME. Xander looked out the door at the guards. "Are you guys vamped too?"

They both shook their heads. "Did you not hear your ME hit the floor?" They came in to check. She was drained. Xander and the girls got the two vampires still trying to rise. The one that had gotten the ME had left a toe tag. "Get us an address on this one," Xander said, handing over the tag. "He probably ran home to get clothes and stuff." They called for help and the officers who showed up agreed that they could go with the team to check that house. He had been there, and eaten the family outside the dog.

One of the girls got the dog out of harms' way when it growled at the officers so they wouldn't hurt it. Xander found the kid's room and looked it over. "He's got a backpack at least," he said, looking around. "He's high school aged and there's no backpack. His drawers have been opened and almost shut so he's packed some clothes and probably supplies. Any indication that he camped or anything?" The officers shook their heads while calling that in. Xander went to look around. He found a ticket stub and pointed at it.

"He went to that party two days ago. That's where the others that got turned were picked up too." The officers bagged that up after making a note of it. Xander went to look outside. He threw a dagger at the vampired teen but it fled over the roof to the next house. He heard a gunshot. "That'll only work if it's thermal rounds," he called. "Shit." He went back inside. "He fled that way," he said with a point.

"If he goes back to where he got snatched, that's about seven blocks," Steph said. "I called Kara to let her know. She's heading there because they're having another party tonight."

"I hope she's not alone," Xander said. "C'mon, girls. Let's see if we can track him and go help Kara." They nodded and one looked at the officer. Xander rolled his eyes at her petting the dog. "Fine," he admitted. "We'll find it a good home." She squealed and took the dog with them. "Take it home. Meet us at that party." She nodded, jogging off to get a cab to the house then back there. Xander sighed. The others all smiled at him. "Sure, we'll handle having a dog for a bit. Then it gets adopted by someone, ladies." They all nodded, still smiling at him. "Kim's allergic."

"Crap." They followed the young vampire, finding him going to that club. The vampires were in high force there tonight. Kara was surrounded but holding them off from attacking her. Xander jumped in with his axe and got a few. The other girls went into battle mode. That one girl that had went back to the house didn't show up and that worried him but he had to handle this one now.

Steph yelped. "Fuck you too, undead bastard!" She beheaded that one and the one trying to get to her blood. One of them grabbed the blade from her but she had other weapons.

Xander tossed Kara something and she nodded, setting off the sonic grenade. It hurt anyone who had higher level hearing, like vampires did. They all shrieked and held their ears. It let them take them down faster. Xander got the last one and faced that unusual vampire. "Not tonight," he growled.

"I mean you no harm, Hunter."

Xander quirked an eyebrow up. "Seriously?"

"I was a young college student when I was turned. My feeding is kept quiet and still alive. I am not a threat to you or your girls."

"That's good to know but you're in the wrong place right now."

"I know. I was tracking these sorts to take them out myself. They're like roaches who can infect others." Xander nodded. "The one that went with the dog, her driver was turned."

"She made it home by taking him out," Kara said. "I called the house when I didn't see her." She stared at him then grinned. "Piotr told me about you. He's worked with some costumed sorts but on the sidelines, Xander."

"Okay. Then I won't try to battle him." He looked at the guy, who grinned. "Just don't come near my slayers, dude."

"I'd never threaten the warriors they are, Hunter."

Xander grinned. "That's nice of you. Thanks." He bowed and backed away before leaving. "Anyone get that one escapee?" They pointed at a pile of dust. "Good. I hate it when they escape by leaving a trail of bodies." He spotted one older vampire and smirked, waving. "Hi!"

"Shit!" He ran. Kara and two of the slayers ran after him. "I was only feeding not killing. They won't even remember!"

"Then you should've fled when we came in to handle the ones who were killing," Kara yelled after him. He managed to escape. "I'd keep being a non-killer," she yelled. She looked at the mess then at Xander, who grinned at her. "I know. I need to calm down. Sue me, I have a test tomorrow."

"I remember doing that in high school," he quipped. "All right, any others?" he asked loudly. "All you humans who don't drink blood, shoo. You're safer now." The few living beings in the club ran out and past the officers. "They're living ones," he yelled. He and the girls gathered up anything they dropped. Kara frowned around. "What?" Xander asked her.

"Someone stole my new leather jacket." She pouted. "I liked that thing." He patted her on the back as they walked out together. "Hey, guys, if you find it I have a pretty navy blue leather jacket that seems to be missing," she told the officers. "Can you let me know?" They just nodded.

Xander waved a hand to draw attention. "We were cleaning up the ones going to come up in the morgue and one escaped by eating an ME. We tracked them home, where they had eaten their whole family, and he ran here because that's where he was turned last night. It was set up by a local group of vampires to feed from. Some just got greedy."

"We made a small, dusty mess," Steph added. "But no more biters that'll hurt innocent girls who're just trying to get a groove thing on."

The head officer stared at her then at Xander. "How many vampires?"

Xander looked back then at him. "I counted fifteen."

"Seventeen," Kara corrected. "I got two before the group followed that one."

"Okay. Seventeen," Xander agreed, grinning slightly. "But no more deaths from here."

"No, that's a great thing," another officer agreed, nodding. "We were worried about the rates of sickness the next day and no one put it together with vampires." He cleared his throat. "We can get you home, people."

"We drove," Kara said. "Or I did anyway."

"We did," Xander agreed. "We were on regular patrol before the morgue." The officers let them go after signing a statement. Xander turned to look at them as they walked. "We had another slayer with us but she decided to rescue the one kid's dog he didn't eat. And ended up with a vamped cabbie she managed on her own." He turned back around, pulling out the keys so they could evacuate before the press got there.

"Sure. Cabbie would be a good cover for a vampire who was feeding subtly," one of the officers muttered, nodding a bit. "And delivery drivers."

The others looked in at the mess, called it in, and stood outside to make sure no one else tried to get in there. They were lower level officers. They had higher ups who got paid a lot more to deal with things like vampire slayers having a battle in a club.

***

Xander sent the report to Giles, then turned to look at the guy watching him. "What's up, Cable?"

"Are you sane today?"

"Mostly. A bit tired but that's usual after a short fight in a club."

"Club?"

"Vamps were hosting a party again tonight to get feedees," Kara said, bouncing down the stairs. "Can I go visit Piotr at the college?"

Xander looked at her. "Why would I care if you visit your boyfriend as long as I know where you are?" She grinned and grabbed the keys to the car she liked, heading off. He looked at Cable again. "I like those two being together. They make a nice couple."

"I heard his ex-girlfriend was in town."

"Yeah, she hissed at Kara, who simply pulled out a dagger to clean her nails with." Cable shook his head but looked amused. "What else is going on?"

"People are wondering why you're not bouncing now."

"Those days, I needed food. The slayers don't leave me lunch all too often." He looked at the minis slayers who had cleaned out the fridge for a midnight snack and now looked guilty. "I've got some in my room, ladies. Eat." They dug in again with grins for Cable. Xander shrugged, getting an amused look back. "What else is up?"

"A few people were wondering if you still worked like in that club you worked in."

"I only stripped a few times to fill in. Mostly I worked in the kitchen." Cable gave him a dirty look. "No, I didn't *work* that way. Views, nothing more. I was a good boy mostly." He grinned. "The dancers did spread my mind a bit though."

"A few were wondering if you'd go back to that."

"Only if I have to. If I'm baiting or whatever. Or if Giles doesn't start paying me again since he forgot for the last month. Again."

Cable winced. "Well, they were hoping you'd be able to bait and maybe find someone ...helpful at that club down by where you were earlier." He handed over a card. "I got asked to hand you that and suggest it might draw someone who might like you."

"Aww, it's like high school," Xander quipped. "Passing notes." Cable smirked back. "I might think about it. I haven't been naughty in a while. And I could use a new boy or girlfriend." He strolled off. "Thanks, man. I'll consider it."

"Welcome. Are the girls all right? And where did we get the dog?"

"The biter earlier ate everyone in his family but the dog," Steph said. "So Daria evacuated the dog back to here and got the vampire cabby."

"He's going back to our house in Chicago with me and Steph," she said happily.

"You have fun with that and be careful walking him, ladies," Xander called from the office.

The girls looked at each other then at Cable. "Wanna spar? It's our time," one said with a grin for him. He nodded, heading for the sparring area. They went up there, without the dog, and one of them was texting the main house about that offer for Xander to go be a bad boy. Maybe they'd be able to fix whatever was wrong with Xander this time.

***

Giles called the house up in New York. "Xander, I've looked into the back pay issue and have sent up a payment for the last few times we've forgotten to pay you."

"Thank you," he said with a grin. "What prompted that since the reports didn't?"

"Word has gotten back to us that you're thinking about going back to baiting by stripping?"

"Not particularly. It was suggested by some guys who think they're badass enough to draw me but I'm not into that at the moment. Especially not with a pulled leg muscle."

"Are you badly injured?" he demanded.

"No. Just a pulled muscle, Giles."

"Oh, good then." He cleared his throat. "I'd rather you not have to go back to that horrible version of baiting."

"They didn't want me to bait vampires, Giles. They wanted me to bait assassins to get me a date."

"Oh, I say. Well....I would hope the girls wouldn't see that?"

"Me too. I'm not that great at it."

"I suppose that's good to know," Giles said then cleared his throat a few times. "Well, you should get that payment in a few days at the latest. We put it into your account. I do hope you find someone nice enough soon, Xander. You do deserve to find the happiness that Kara and Penny have."

"Thanks, Giles. That's nice of you. You have a good night and ignore Buffy's outfit for patrol since I heard she's got a date. The locals called me to let me know I didn't have to rush down to stake him."

"I'll ask her about that later. You have a good night, Xander."

"You too, man." Giles hung up. Xander hung up and looked at his phone then upstairs. "Thank you for telling Giles about that plan," he called. "He's very worried about what I'll draw this time."

"So are we," a tiny female voice called back.

Xander heard a door slam and looked out of the office. Kara stomped past sniffling so he got up to go talk to her. "Hey." She turned on the stairs, looking at him. "What happened?"

"Piotr's going back to his ex-girlfriend."

"Who is a mind fucker," Xander told her. "Was that his choice or hers?" She shrugged, sniffling as she pouted at him. He gave her a hug. "We'll figure it out. I know you're happy with him and I like that about you two. We'll talk to him tonight on patrol. Which you can be called off from. Go sulk with the girls." She went upstairs to talk to the other girls.

Xander walked off calling Piotr's phone. "You're needed for patrol tonight, and we're going to talk." He hung up then sighed and rolled his eyes. "Maybe I should prove the shovel talk with a shovel," he told his special axe. Which bopped him on the arm then went back to laying in its holder on the wall. Xander called in another person who could probably clear up some of this mess the jealous ex had created.

***

Xander walked up to Piotr and his former girlfriend. He maced her, making her shriek and try to bat it off her face. "Mind fuckers are evil, wench." She came up and tried him then screamed for a whole new reason. "Yeah, the hyena hates mind fuckers of all sorts." He looked at Piotr, who was scowling at him. "Really? Have you checked for mind control?"

"I am not under control, Xander, and you have no reason to harm her."

"I do have a reason to harm her. She tried to get someone to attack Kara and the girls." The younger guy winced. "And that demon thankfully told us about it."

"You're all evil," she sneered. "You're all demon tainted and you're evil!" She tried to scratch him but he punched her and knocked her down.

"Unlike you, whore, I'm a mutant too." He smirked. "And battle experienced. You're...pretty damn pathetic out of bed." He looked back. "Miss Frost, thank you for coming. Did you look at them?"

"I did look at Kara's mind. She was whammied," she said casually. She strolled over to Piotr and teased her fingers across his forehead. "So has he. Though she was not the only one." She looked up at the younger mutant, smiling at him. "Let me break that, Piotr," she said quietly. She broke both whammies on his mind, making him grimace. "There. Your own mind again." She stepped back, staring at the idiot female. "That is unworthy of your training. I'm not amused." She looked at Piotr again. "I would take a few days to think, dear. The girls are going to smite you for making Kara cry that way."

"I talked them out of it," Xander assured her. "Twice now." He looked at the young, crying idiot then at the older, wiser woman. Who smiled at him. "Is Kara all right?"

"She's fine and she did ask me a pointed question about who Mimsy could see to talk about her issues."

"Thank you. I've been looking. I know she's still having problems getting over her father's issues."

"Yes, but she's handling it better than you think, Xander. She was young enough to let it fade eventually. Her foster mother is very helpful as well."

"Yeah but she needs that sense of normal that I don't think she's getting enough of."

"She's fine," Emma Frost assured him, smiling at him. "Mouthy as all your girls are but she'll heal from that." He nodded. "The two that you found when you broke in to rescue the mini you knew was missing, they're a bit more harmed by it but they're getting help. I've recommended the same person to Mimsy." He smiled and nodded. "Good." She patted him on the arm. "What is that growl?"

"The hyena I got possessed by when I was younger." He grinned. "She does not like telepaths who try to snoop." He grinned at the one on the ground. Then at her again. "So far she's not attacked you but if they try to intrude on purpose in a bad way...she tends to snap and bite."

"Ah. I heard Charles wondering how you had done that."

"I accidentally stepped into a shaman's circle while trying to help a kid being bullied."

She walked off shaking her head. "That's just the man you are. Piotr, come. Let's go back to the school for the night so you can think in privacy and talk to Logan or Gambit about man things." He slumped but followed her.

"Call, Piotr. We like you even if you two don't get back together," Xander said. "I think you're neat and there's not enough decent guys around the slayers. Or me." The kid shot him a smile but did follow his leader back to her car so they could go back to the school. Xander walked away from the crying telepath, shrugging at the staring officer. "She was a mind fucking little brat to get her ex-boyfriend back. I went to a higher power."

"I can see how that's a good idea," the officer agreed, going to check on her.

Xander could handle patrol by himself. He had before. And if he got a bit injured that was fine too. Better him than the girls.

***

Wade walked into the slayer house the next morning, very early the next morning, and nodded at the girls. He wasn't even in uniform, he was wearing sweats because the call for help had gotten him out of bed. "Where's the man of the house, girls? He called in a come help me call." They pointed upstairs. "Thanks. Be safe today at school." He skipped up the stairs, running into a still sniffly Kara. "What happened? Did the big metal guy get hurt?"

"His ex-girlfriend mind whammied him to get him back. Xander got him free last night and he went back to the school to think but I think he'll use it to drop me because I'm not a mutant." She pouted as she went down to get breakfast.

"It'll be fine, kiddo. I'll talk to TNW about swatting him." He knocked on Xander's door, getting the guy himself. Xander looked pretty rough. "We have ER's," he said as he walked in and looked at Xander's shoulder. "That's out."

"Yeah but if I go, they'll fuss and complain," he said quietly. "Plus the healers were all off last night due to a holiday. Can you get my shoulder back in and do the stitches on my back?"

"Yeah, I can do that." He checked the injuries, shaking his head. "Damn, kid."

"Nineteen vampires," he said quietly. "All newbies but all martial arts trained as a trap for the girls."

"Crap. You could've called."

"No time when it happened. Then I came home." He shifted and slowly took off his t-shirt to let him see how many he had already handled himself. "I just can't do the ones on my back without my back scratcher being taped to the pliers holding the needle. And I can't do that with a dislocated shoulder."

"You could use staples. Much easier."

"Can't do that at that angle."

"Point." He looked at the materials on the bed, getting the stapling gun to do Xander's back for him. Then he braced the shoulder to knock back into place, making Xander moan and grab onto the bed so he wouldn't hit the floor. "That's better." He looked him over, shaking his head with a sigh. "How many more of that group?"

"Six. They were in the back watching." He looked up. "Want to help with patrol tonight, Wade? Please?"

"Yeah, I can take your place."

"I can help. Some."

"You can't hope to swing your axe."

"I have thermal rounds made."

"I do like those for vampires." He nodded. "Sure, we can handle it while you rest." He knocked Xander out and tossed him onto his bed so he could clean up the mess. The kit got put onto the floor beside the bed and Wade strolled back down the stairs. The slayers all stared at him. He grinned. "You girls are letting us guys handle it tonight too. They tried to trap one of you last night to take you out."

"So he's injured?" Kara guessed.

"Ya think?" he shot back with a smirk for her. They all groaned. "He'll be fine. Just some stitches. I'll go handle it tonight with Logan maybe. He likes to take out ninjas and vampires." They all groaned. He nodded. "Yeah. They made specialty vampires to attack you girls. Let us guys handle it." He walked off.

"Wade, don't talk to him for me," Kara called. "Let him make his own choices."

"Not going to, little one." He grinned back at her. "I'm going to let Logan unscrew his head. That's why he's a dad sort at the school of virgins out there. Better him than me." He went to the mutant school, waving as he walked in. "Hey." He caught TNW's arm as he walked her off. "Piotr's still thinking about the way his ex screwed his mind?"

"Yup. He won't talk to anyone."

"Kara didn't want me to put any pressure or talk to him. Go tell Logan?" She grinned and skipped off to find Logan to talk to their friend. He found Logan right after she did. He grinned at Logan, making him pause and stare at him. "Wanna patrol tonight for Xander? They made special ninja vampires to trap the girls. He took out thirteen. He said nineteen but six hung back. I had to go put his shoulder back into place and do a few staples he couldn't reach."

"Yeah, I can help handle that. Find out where."

"Thanks." He grinned.

"What happened with Kara?"

"Piotr's ex." Logan winced but nodded.

Emma came out of the office. "I undid the mental coercion she did in both him and Kara. He's thinking, boys."

"Kara didn't want me to help," Wade quipped, grinning at her.

"I can hear those thoughts, Wade. Not a chance." She walked off. "He'll be fine. I have no idea if they'll get back together or not."

"Be a shame if they broke up because of his bad ex," Logan decided. "They're cute and good together." He shook his head. "We can go tonight. Let me know when and where." Wade ran off before more people showed up. He looked at Emma, who smiled at him. "Let me go play big brother." He went upstairs to talk to the younger mutant. He got let in when he knocked, staring at him. "Women can screw you up worse than anything," he said in greeting, closing the door. "Especially with the telepaths around here."

"I do not know what to do," Piotr said with a sigh at the end.

"Kara told Wade not to talk to you for her. He asked me to talk to you and TNW said you're pouty." Piotr grimaced but shrugged some, looking down at his bed. "So let's talk, kid." He sat in the desk chair. "If you could only save one, which would it be?"

"I do not know," he admitted, looking up. "Right now I'd like to drown one and the urge to shove the other away is strong."

"Is that because the one mind screwed you? Or because you're mad at her?"

"No, I am not mad at Kara." He slumped again. "She would have let me go with her."

"She would've fought but she was respecting your choices. Trust me, Emma's report said that she had to stop Kara from showing up to pummel the brat herself when she got free of the control she was under." Piotr looked at him. He nodded. "She removed it from Kara too." Piotr grimaced again. "You know very well Kara's always left a lot up to you. Slayers, they expect to be left for more normal people. Xander has the same thing. Most of us who battle do the same thing."

"I would want Kara safer."

Logan snorted, shaking his head. "Not likely unless she retires. Wade and I are going to take Xander's place tonight because someone made ninja vampires to take out the girls. Xander handled thirteen himself. Wade said he had to put his shoulder back into place." Piotr growled. "Yeah. If you wanna help we can do that. Sometimes you need to beat the bad thoughts out of you."

"I may." He pouted. "She...I would expect true love to be one that would fight to keep you."

"Yeah and she would but she knows that you'll eventually want someone normal who doesn't fight. Or so she thinks. The same as you think about her." He nodded. "You two are really good together. You need to see if this is the end of that or not." He stood up. "Talk to the girl, Piotr. It's the only way to know things and girls love to talk about problems." He left, going to talk to Emma. "Did Chuck do something?" he asked in her ear, getting a smile and a nod. "He's willing to see them both miserable?"

"He thinks it's doomed to end in pain."

"If she had been on patrol last night, she probably could've died." He walked off again. "Being a slayer is like that, the same as we get."

"I think that was what he was expecting." She finished making her tea and sandwich. "But I find young love a cathartic and healing salve." She went up to talk to Piotr herself. He opened the door to stare at her. "Let's talk about what I removed from your mind, Piotr." He let her come in and talk to him.

***

Wade met up with Clint and the others that night. "The ninjas are holing up in there," he said with a point. "I've watched them for a few hours. They picked well trained people to turn." He looked at Logan, who was checking his claws. "They're wearing Hand armor." Logan looked up at him. Wade grinned and nodded. "Yeah. They got some minor flunkies from the Hand, but not the top guys. Looks like a bunch of failed trainees when I asked someone who'd know."

"Interesting. Harris took down thirteen of them?"

"Harris took down nineteen and another six were watching," Xander said as he limped up to them. "I'm magic only tonight, guys. Sorry. Can't even fire."

"You should be in bed," Wade said with a point.

"Yup but the girls are watching musicals with Kara to commiserate. I wanted away from that." He looked around, firing at spell at someone, making them shriek and run away. "That'll help." He looked at the guys again. "Smoke screen?"

"Not necessary. Get any that get free of us," Logan told him. "Then go home and suck it up. They're your girls."

"I know. I still hate musicals after the musical life demon. If you suddenly start to sing like you're in a musical, it's a demon named Sweet that someone used his amulet to summon and whoever did that is supposed to be his future wife." He grinned. "Sunnydale, yay."

"You guys were nuts," Logan said. "C'mon, guys. Let's save the girls some work." They snuck into the warehouse. The vampires were waiting on them with a few more ninjas who weren't turned. Thankfully Barton had extra arrows, a few guns, and a knife since he was the only one without a healing gift. The others took out ninja after ninja after ninja. More rushed in. And got turned into mice suddenly. They could stomp them while fighting the still human and vampire ninjas. Xander walked in and cast a stop spell on the ninjas. He stared at one. Then he grinned and pushed up his sleeve, pointing at something. "Watch me use a wish to go back and not save your temple." They backed away. "Keep it up."

"We owe you a battle favor," one sneered.

"Yeah, which I gave to Cho Ahn. And you guys ran from. She told me you guys ran from a fairly minor demon that she was too injured to handle on her own. Which she could have if she didn't have a broken ankle. Hell, I took out one of those with a drugged drink, people. You guys be wooses." They attacked him and he magiced the group into glass statues. "Yeah, keep it up. Watch me call in a favor I'm owed by a demon."

A sorcerer stomped in. "What are you doing?" he demanded. "You should not change people into things!"

Xander looked at him. "Suck me! They're attacking me and the girls because they woosed out of a battle and it'll look bad on their group," he said sarcastically. "As for the one that you changed back from a gerbil, he's a demon summoner and I expect you to police his behavior instead because I'm tired of that shit and I'll gladly go lose a poker match with his fuzzy self." He stared at the guy. "Since you're not actually handling those problems, someone has to. Seems to have fallen on mine and the girls' shoulders. Again." The sorcerer huffed. "Hey, then handle him yourself. He was trying to open up a new portal to sacrifice people for power in. Do you want to clean that up?"

"You consorted with demons."

"Nah. I just introduced him to a few I stripped for once when I was eighteen and Rosenburg blew up my car so I had to work in a strip joint. They didn't do more than tip me, Strange. Not one asked for thing, not one hint of a wish, nothing but tips." He smirked. "When I brought Red Riding Hood there, one hinted he'd do that for me but then realized that it'd cause a problem and I wasn't like that." The Hood stomped in with a few more people. Xander changed the thugs into statues, this time wooden ones.

He stared at the head guy with a grin. "Hey! Did you finally do something?" The guy pulled a gun and some magic. Xander already had his wand out so he disarmed the idiot by turning him to lead. He looked at Strange again. "Just because I'm a neutral good person instead of a goody good person doesn't mean I'm lawful evil. Sometimes you gotta handle the shit in the simplest manner so you don't have to keep doing it. They're not harmed by that. If you change them back they won't have aged."

"They could have families that would care."

"Be realistic for a minute, Strange. If they have families, they expect to not get them back one night because they lost something. The same as all our families do for us. The same as the slayers do for each other. Because we may be lucky but one night that'll run out. Then we're screwed, probably dead, and in my case it's a good chance that something will try to use me to summon something or open a hellmouth." He licked his lips and looked up. "Stop it!" The scrying stopped. He looked at the sorcerer again. "The damn coven," he muttered. "Still probably spelled by Rosenburg."

"You...those are not ethical rules," Strange said.

"Depends on your path of choice. Even yours has necessary actions to avoid problems. Agamoto is like that from what we have written about him." He wiped off his forehead. "Thankfully I follow the rules of the me's who taught me magic." He winced as he moved his shoulder. "Time for food," he muttered. "Let me go let the girls nag me." He walked off.

Wade threw a bolo to knock him down. "I'll get you home, Xander." He grinned at the others. "You guys have fun. Let me drop him and run away from the nagging. They do it very well." Piotr nodded he agreed about that. "Big guy...."

"Not yet."

"Fine." He picked Xander up, making him moan in pain. "Shit, you're running a fever. Okay, so healer." Xander struggled. "Stop it before I let Cable paddle you." He carried him out.

"That's not my thing," Cable complained.

"You could have a lot of fun with Xander," Clint told him, grinning at him. "He could use someone who liked it a bit wicked now and then since he's wiggly."

"Same could be said for you, Barton," Logan quipped.

"Not into guys that way at the moment," he quipped back.

"People, we have to let them go," Stephen Strange said with a sigh at the end. "It's wrong to make a statue garden. He is not Medusa."

"Half of them are vampires," Logan told him. Strange winced. "They did it to trap the slayers. Let them stay or you handle them from now on." He looked at his team, getting nods back and they went to check on Xander. The young one was annoyingly tough sometimes. Piotr could sneak off or go get nagged by Kara.

Stephen Strange sighed and looked at things. Then at the demon that appeared. "Why did you get summoned?"

He grinned. "The Hood wanted to summon me so I could open a hell gate for him to get power. He was halfway through my demanded work for it." He checked him, nodding. "Living statues. Nice of Xander. He must have been sick."

"He was injured."

"It figures." He let Stephen see the original battle that the boy had fought. "We do adore watching Xander work sometimes. He is a force of chaos that brings order somehow. And a mothering influence in some way that's less than fatherly. We love watching that boy work. That's why he survived the last battle he fought in Egypt." He disappeared, his smirk last.

Stephen Strange shivered, walking off rubbing his arms from the chill. He had nothing he could do here. He would talk to the boy in a few days about changing them so they could face justice.

***

The group of guys walked into the slayer house and upstairs to check on Xander. Piotr glanced toward the girls and Kara ran off crying. He sighed. Logan looked back at him. "I'd chase her."

"No. We are thinking."

"You are stubborn," Logan warned. "She's crying. Go talk to her like adults." He pointed. "Before the girls make you do it."

"Kara told us not to interfere," Penny called with a grin and a wave. "That he had to sort out all his mind from whatever she did to him the same as she did and we could only beat the ass of the girl that did it to them both."

"You're pregnant, no fighting, Penny," Clint called as he walked up the stairs.

"That's why I have a husband. He likes to beat people for me."

Logan looked at her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm hiding from all the pouncing. I thought it was my hormones that made me horny but he's got them worse than I do and I'm barely in my second trimester. I'm exhausted!"

Logan grinned at her. "At least he's happy. Where's the kid?" She pointed at the chair he was napping in. "We can escort you back so you're both safe." He followed Clint. Piotr followed him. Logan rolled his eyes but he'd let the teens sulk for a few days before smacking someone with something hard. It'd have to be really hard to get through the organic metal head. He walked into Xander's room and stared at the shirtless guy. "Shit."

Piotr stared. "How did that happen?" he demanded.

"Patrol last night," Wade said dryly. "Barton?"

"Few stitches are a bit loose but since he did them himself they're at a weird angle."

"He told me he couldn't do the ones on his back without strapping the pliers holding the needle to his back scratcher," Wade said. "I did the staples and put his shoulder back in."

Clint nodded. "Yeah. He's a lot like us." He got the gloves and what he needed from the medical kit. Kara brought in a bigger one and left without looking at her boyfriend. Clint kept from sighing. It was them being teenagers. It had to be them being teenagers. He and Logan got most of the injuries handled and Wade kept knocking Xander out. When he wasn't fast enough, Piotr held him down.

"I'm fine."

"Shut up," Clint ordered. "You're starting to infect." He finished cleaning them and nodded so they let him up. Clint held up a bandage. "You got an infection."

"I've got some antibiotics left around here somewhere."

"Good. You could use it." He stared at him. "Don't make me tell Natasha."

"Not like I'm dating her." Xander looked so confused.

"Yeah but she swats. She swats me, she swats Steve, she'll swat you too." Xander rolled his eyes but Wade swatted him for the group. "Thanks. All right, tomorrow night, who's going?" A few raised their hands. "I'm due out of town for the next week but I'll fill in for an hour or so since I don't leave until ten. Let me know if I have to come back early. I wouldn't mind." He took a few pictures. "There, for Natasha, so she knows to watch out for you." He looked at Xander, who was growling. "Suck it up. Friends do this." He walked off, going to a coffee shop before the tower. He held up the picture to Jessica, who grimaced. "Someone turned a whole bunch of Hand into vampire ninjas. Xander took out nineteen. Tonight he just magicked while we fought them."

"Fucking charming," she muttered, shaking her head.

He grinned. "We're all volunteering for patrols for a few days at least. If only so we can get away from Piotr pouting about his ex doing weird things to his mind and him being so screwed he tried to dump Kara."

"I have no idea about that stuff."

"Didn't figure you did. Watch out for the sorcerer, he tried to nag Xander about turning the ones tonight into a pretty statue garden." He smiled. "Some glass, some wood, the Hood's lead." She burst out laughing. "Yup. So if you want to jump in, do it. Logan's in tomorrow with Cable and Wade."

"Got it. Thanks, Barton."

"Welcome. I get to go tell Natasha so she can swat him." He walked off happier.

Jessica went inside to tell the others. Clint had texted her an address for some reason so now she knew. "A lot of the Hand are vampires." Matt Murdock sat up straighter to stare in her direction. "Harris looks rough after defeating some last night. Tonight the guys fought them and Harris magicked a lot into a pretty garden." Luke burst out laughing. "So we're covering patrol for a few days if we want to help. Tomorrow's Logan, Cable, and Wade."

"Yeah, we can do that," Luke agreed, smiling at her. "It's weird but helpful. Can we go see the statues?"

"Barton texted me an address. We can see if it's there." They went to check on that. Yup, that was a warehouse full of statue ninjas. They went to see if they could identify individual ones and enjoy an enemy being statues.

***

Piotr got ambushed when he woke up in the morning. He was blindsided by a blast of energy to his head. When he woke up he was in a containment cell. With someone. He looked. TNW was sitting there staring at him. "What did you do?" he demanded, sitting up.

"I'm stopping the stupid before Yukio makes me beat you to death for ruining her fairytale." She smiled. "She's getting Kara. You two are going to talk like big people instead of pouting like kids. Yukio said she even thought about having kids if they grew up like you two." She looked over as the door opened. "Hey, Logan." She smiled. "Yukio back?"

"Just now. Chuck's having a fit."

"We all know he doesn't like Kara because she's not a mutant. Sucks to be his slightly bigoted bald ass." She got out of the way so her girlfriend could carry in Kara and plop her onto the bed when Piotr moved for her. "There." She smiled. "Food," she said with a point. "Water, soda. Laters." She and Yukio walked out, letting Logan lock the door. The girls shook hands with a grin for each other.

Logan walked off shaking his head but he was smiling. They walked down the stairs, finding the Professor waiting on them. "We don't care if you don't like Kara and reinforced the mind screwing Piotr's ex-girlfriend did, which is seriously not only creepy but ethically black," TNW told him. "They need to talk like a couple about that stuff."

"I should expel you both for kidnaping," he said. "And I do not dislike them being together." Logan snorted. He glared at him. Logan stared back.

Scott Summers walked up adjusting his t-shirt. "What's up, guys?"

"We're letting Kara and Piotr have a fight in private about what his ex did to both of their minds," Yukio said with a smile for him. "As all couples need sometimes." She walked her girlfriend off. "If we get expelled, we can go for a picnic today."

Scott looked after them. "The gazebo is a great place for it, ladies. Go take an afternoon off." They ran out to find food and do that. He looked at Logan. "They in his room?"

"Confinement six."

"That'll work," Scott decided. "She okay?"

"Emma got them free."

"She's delicate. It won't have hurt them. Piotr has to learn how to talk about stuff sometimes. He's stoic. She'll be a girl. They'll work it out or she'll punch the door off the hinges and stomp off." He went to make some coffee while yawning.

Logan nodded. "Yup, probably. Seen plenty that have. I'll have Rogue bring 'em dinner if they're still in there." He walked off too. He'd talk to the other teenagers about not bothering the couple until they figured things out.

The Professor huffed off to his office to seethe. His protege had set that up but he hadn't wanted them to be so ...teenagerish. He winced at the sound of a door breaking upstairs but then he heard Piotr chasing his girlfriend and carrying her off so they could talk, he was telling her they would talk and figure this out. Thankfully he took it outside so they could yell at each other if necessary.

***

Xander waved as Giles walked into the house, holding up a clean cup. "Coffee's on."

"What did you do that made a sorcerer call me?" he demanded.

Xander stared at him. "Have you heard of a group called the Hand?"

"From a few reports."

"They're a ninja based group of thugs and assassins." Giles sat down, staring at him because this was apparently a story. "They owed me a favor for taking out a demon for them. I passed that favor to Cho Ahn with their knowledge that it'd be help for a battle."

"It seems like ninjas can probably use a sword."

"When Cho Anh broke her ankle last year there was a minor demon lord she could not handle due to the injury. She called in that favor and a few came, about what we expected, and then they woosed out and ran." Giles winced. "So to cover up that dishonor they had a lot of the flunkies turned." Giles slumped, staring at him. "So I'm in charming shape for taking on the first group because they were laying a trap for the girls. I got a bit injured and left patrol after that. The next night, a few guys went to handle it for me, some of the local hero sort.

"I went to handle it with magic with them. I stopped the battle for good by making statues. Living statues but still statues." Giles opened his mouth. Xander held up a hand. "They won't age or anything. It's not a huge bad thing. They can be changed back but damned if I want vampire ninjas hunting the girls. Sorcerer Strange showed up to bitch about that and I pointed out I'm not on his path and he should basically butt out of things that don't concern him in this case. So I'm guessing he called you?"

"He did and said you were trending toward evil."

"Not likely. I'm mostly neutral good and I told him that. I also pointed out his higher being likes to trap enemies into endless rooms so he had little room to talk when he called to try to bitch me out earlier." He sipped his coffee.

"That's an approach I can see as useful. If we need to throw minions at a battle sometime they could be useful there," Giles agreed. "Though that is trending toward chaos magic."

"Actually, I learned from a cursebreaker so I trend more toward earth magic."

"Point." He tested him via magic and nodded. "You show almost no taint." Xander let him see something on his injured arm. "Mermaid?" Xander nodded. "Charming."

"Nineteen vampire ninjas," he said quietly. "I told the girls there were four. Wade thought I meant in total but they held six back." Giles stared at him. "I ache like fuck. I did the stitches and let Wade put my shoulder back for me and do a few staples I can't reach. The next night he brought Clint Barton back to check them for me."

"We do have healers in this city."

"We're in a holy week."

"Oh, that thing. We have none working in Cleveland either." He sighed. "Are you well enough for patrol?"

"No. Wade's filling in with a few of the guys."

"Piotr?"

"Not sure," Xander admitted. "But he's having a fight with Kara."

"Something important?"

"His psycho ex tried to mind whammy them both so she'd have him back. Kara's cried most nights for the last few days. They kidnaped her this morning to make them talk so he'd quit moping too."

"Oh, dear."

"Yeah but it'll work itself out. I doubt those two will break up for long if they do break up. He'll get all morbid and after one of our upcoming things he'll finally break and check on her probably. Or that's how I read it."

"You do have experience watching the girls date. I hope they can work it out. They're a good couple." Xander smiled and nodded, sipping his coffee. "Have you eaten? You look thin and pale."

"Hell no. I'd throw up from the pain."

"Painkillers?" Xander snorted, staring at him. "Surely something works?"

"Not in many years no matter how often I would want one."

"Nothing?"

"Nope. The stuff they gave me in England doesn't work any better than advil. I've had a lot of advil."

"I can see why. How badly are you injured?" Xander lifted up his t-shirt and Giles winced. "That's bad. Do we have a report on that?"

"Yup. On the computer. I sent it this morning."

"Good. I'll check when I get home."

"During it, the coven decided to scry."

"I'll talk with the old dears too," he decided. Xander grinned. "Did the girls see any of this?"

"Nope. They don't need that level of threat. Especially with a battle in a week to save a bridge."

"Bridge...oh, that water demon who thinks we keep messing up her living room with trash and unfortunate bodies."

"Yup that one. Then in a few months we have another one." He smiled. "Which we'll need more help for."

"I've read that vision. It's unfortunate but we'll handle it as we always do." He stared at Xander. "Are you sure you're fine?"

"Just tired and sore and achy."

"I can understand why. We can give you a few weeks off."

"And who'll handle the house?"

"Brad and Penny?"

"She's expecting a second one." Giles smiled. "She's complaining that Brad won't quit pouncing."

"Some men are like that. I had hopes that some day you'll experience that."

"No working sperm."

"It's unfortunate."

"Giles, be honest. Some of the old liners that're still around would kill my kid so I didn't warp the next generation too. They outright told me that while lit during the last meeting."

"I thought I got rid of that one."

"The rest agreed. Go tell them that I think I've knocked up a lover of mine."

"I don't want to tempt fate, Xander." His boy grinned. "Anything else your house needs beyond you finding a vacation?"

"All of my ex's are still ignoring me. I could use some of that. Or take up the offer of one of the locals that wanted me to go back to stripping."

"I'd rather the girls not hear about such things, Xander," he sighed.

"They heard Cable asking me about doing it. A few got curious so I told them about when I had been broken down thanks to Willow blowing up my car."

"She said she didn't."

"Yeah, right. Because the magical blast that killed my car around me, without touching me or a single belonging of mine, was by someone like Ethan."

"Oh, dear."

"She was trying to make sure I didn't go back to Sunnydale. Oxnard has a pretty good peaceful community, mostly overflow from LA's, and they told me why she had done it."

"Has she done it since then?"

"There was an odd incident in Africa. Somehow I don't remember I ended up in a country I hadn't been in on a stage getting frisky but not naked, and drawing the attention of a demon lord. Then the magic suddenly ended and I woke up, and the demon woke up, and we shared a look then he put me back and slunk off to figure out what did it to us. I'm told he couldn't prove it."

Giles moaned but nodded. "I'll have to ask about that." Xander grinned. The girls came in from school, most of them stopping to hug him. "Good afternoon, ladies." They hurried upstairs. "Sparring?" he guessed.

"Two hours of homework time and no one gets tv until they're all done. Sparring is tomorrow after dinner." Giles smiled at him. "It's been fairly quiet recently. Though..." He snapped his fingers. "Someone come get my report file for me?" he called. One of the girls skipped down to get that and print the new ones off for them. "Thank you, Steph." He kissed her on the cheek. "Did you tell him about the dog yet?" She sat down to tell Giles how her future house had a dog suddenly.

"It's good you could save the dog, dear. Is there any family that might complain?"

"We told the officers," Xander said. "So if someone asked they could tell them where the dog is."

"That's good then. At least it's wanted and not in a shelter." He patted her on the hand. "Good work." She giggled as she ran up the stairs. "I didn't see Kara?"

"She may still be locked in a room with Piotr to talk."

"Ah. Well I hope they work it out. Let me know?"

"It's not a problem. We still like Piotr and Kara will pout for a bit but be able to work beside him. I had a talk with her about that and how I had worked with Cordy after we broke up. And how Buffy had worked with Angel, which made her nearly puke again."

"I can see why." He patted Xander on the hand. "Go get something thin you can drink for energy." Xander nodded, heaving himself up to do that. Giles settled in to read the reports, frowning at a few he'd ask about in a few minutes. Xander did some very strange things.

***

Xander was walked into the healer's office as soon as it opened. He waved at the nurse, who was staring at him. "I kept them clean."

"You still have two infected cuts," Wade told him, grinning at the nurse while he held Xander's arm behind his back because he had argued. "He really could use some antibiotics."

The nurse smiled. "Let me call the senior healers."

"I only need an antibiotic," Xander assured her. "I did most of the stitches myself and Wade did the one on my back."

The nurse smiled at him. "You are a stubborn human, Harris. Shut up and sit down." She pointed. "Before I have to get mean." He sighed but sat down. The nurse went to the back area. "Harris is in." The senior healers all groaned. "He insists he only needs an antibiotic and he tried to keep the stitches he did clean."

"At least our first day after our holiday won't be boring," one said, coming to get Xander. Wade walked Xander into the exam room and pushed him onto a bed. The healer smiled at Xander. "It's a great thing that you finally find someone who can be a proper mate."

"No, we're not dating. Wade got tied of me trying to scratch. Everyone suggests it but he's not into me."

Wade shook his head with a sigh. "We need to find someone who's not bouncy who'll keep our attention. We'd just laugh in bed." The healer patted him on the arm with a smile. "Really."

"It's fine. Perhaps you will find one. Single warriors are often more injured because they have no reason to go home." She got Xander's t-shirt off him and looked then huffed. "Well, you tried."

"I did try," he assured her. "I just need an antibiotic."

She looked at him. "You are too stubborn." She got to work checking each injury. A few were infected and got cleaned. The staples got pulled and replaced by smaller ones. She did get him an herbal antibiotic powder to take and did a small healing on a few to ease his pain. "There." She handed back the t-shirt. "Go lay on a couch for at least another week."

"We have to defend the bridge to Queens in three days or I would," Xander admitted, pulling back on his t-shirt. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." She patted his cheek. "Go be at rest, Harris." She let them go after making notes in his chart. He hardly ever came in for treatment but that meant it was never the usual thing with him.

Wade let Xander lead the way out to the car. They could go make him rest on a couch. He took Xander to Blind Al's house and pushed him onto the couch. "He needs to rest the stitches, Al."

"That's fine. He sounds cute."

"I'm Xander," he said, smiling at her. "Wade's being fussy."

"Well, you two are like brothers," she said dryly. "You rest, boy. Before I have to tell those fussy girls of yours." He groaned but laid down. "Better. Thank you. I hate to nag Wade about resting injuries."

"I'm trying to be a good boy."

"I'm sure you try real hard, boy." She went to get herself some more coffee. The boy would behave so Wade didn't have to spank him. Or she didn't have to.

But maybe she'd talk him into being a bit naughty. She could use some naughtiness in her life.

TBC....
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