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Funny Plots and Plotty Plots.

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Funny Plots and Plotty Plots.







Xander went to the office the letter had ordered him to show up at. He was even dressed up in one of his suits today. "You wanted to see me?" he asked patiently as he was let in.

"You've violated a classified project and violated your NDA," the lawyer said smugly.

Xander laughed. This just figured and hey, he had proof. "First, no NDA. Never signed a thing when my group took down the torturing military unit. Second, not military so not covered by classified rules. Anything else you wanted to talk about today?"

"You are covered. You were part..."

Xander held up a hand, smirking at him. "No, I wasn't part of that project. I helped end it with my group of civilian friends who found them torturing demons for shits and giggles. I've never been military. Never will be military. Never signed anything saying I wouldn't go shout about that group on Oprah." He held up a folder. Xander took it to look at. "Yeah, that's their faulty file on me. Got it totally wrong from my birthday on." He tossed it back onto the desk. "Hell, they didn't even get my middle name right and that's on multiple government forms." He stared at him. "Anything else you think you know?"

"You were part of...."

"The Sunnydale team, yeah. I backed up the slayer out there. Did since high school. Anyone who did even the most minimal research on me would've seen that. It's been in the news, dude." He stared at him. "So, what's your angle and who's trying to make you shut me up?"

"The military wants you to not talk about classified things, Mr. Harris."

"I'm not covered by their shitty coverup. Never was. Never will be for that matter. I'm not military and I don't care what they bring. Put me in jail and I'll still make nice statements about their shit."

"We can have you detained as an enemy combatant."

"And I can use an owed poker buddy wish to kill all of them." He grinned. "Some of them would *really* like it if the Nazi-like military people were brought down for real instead of given cherry assignments and put to work against other demons." He walked off, going outside to where there were reporters. "Guys, were you here for me?" he asked with a grin.

"The lawyer upstairs called a press briefing to allege that you're under arrest," one said, pointing her camera at him.

He smirked a tiny bit. "Yeah, he had delusions that I'm covered by classified materials when I'm not. As I've never been in a government job, never been in the military, and never signed an NDA of any sort, I can spill the beans about the military using Sunnydale to torture demons for a few years." They stared. He nodded. "Yeah. Army, mostly rangers. That's actually where Buffy met Riley. He was one of them. And when the team brought down that group, twice to finally end it, the military gave them cherry jobs fighting other demons in Central and South America for our friendly drug dealers the US supports down there.

"Some went to Homeland but the scientists are mostly not in jail. They got moved to a duty assignment somewhere quiet to turn what they learned or stole from demons into a new super serum formula." He yawned. "I think it's great they have a mental gift mutant up there trying to make me nap or shut up. Won't work." He looked up and swished his wand with a grin. It knocked them out. "You guys have fun with the Initiative. We didn't but we saw first hand how bad they were." He walked off. "And if they come after me again they'd better have a better ploy than trying to claim I signed an NDA since they can't even spell my middle name right." He waved as he walked off.

Xander decided to go to the big lawyers this time and called in a favor. "Hey, Foggy, it's Xander. If you had to fight the government trying to cover up genocide, which lawyers would you use?" He listened to him choking but he did say a name. "Thanks, dude. Oh, it's so much huger than that, Foggy. So much bigger. Including why a whole lot of twinkies that'll cause cancer got recalled.

"Thanks, man. Have a happy day." He walked off to find that lawyer's office. They were in the phone book so maps could find their address. He walked in and smiled at the receptionist. "Hi, I'm Xander Harris and I have to fight the government trying to hide genocide in a few manners. I was suggested to come talk to Mr. Pillers."

"I'll see if he has a few free minutes, sir. Why was our government doing that?"

He grinned. "First they started on demons with some humans added in for spice. Then they decided to dose snack cakes to give everyone cancer. Which I can prove, yes." She nodded and called him. He came out. Xander smiled at the obvious demon. "Hey. Xander Harris." He held out a hand. "The military just tried to shut us up about the Initiative. And their later one to get all mutants cancer ridden by twinkies."

"I know of you from somewhere."

"I'm Buffy's Xander. Head watcher in New York," he said when the guy still looked confused. Xander pulled out his phone and got into the files he had downloaded last night. He held up the phone. "The group in Sunnydale ended that atrocity and now they're trying to cover it up further." The lawyer took it to look at, shuddering. "Yeah. That's why the Sunnydale team ended it. Twice actually." He stared at him, grinning slightly. "They also had one of their people to dose all mutants and anyone else who might've eaten twinkies with the same serum that gave people cancer out there. There's already nineteen known cases."

"That's fantastic." He handed the phone back. "I think that might be a bit dangerous to know about."

"Yeah but I wasn't part of them. I don't want them to come back. If you don't want to handle it, tell me who will please. That way I get to shut them down trying again. Because a few of their people are at colleges starting over."

"I..." He frowned. "Let me go talk to my higher ups?"

"Sure. I have nothing to do today really." He sat down and let him walk off to talk to his people.

The lawyer knocked on his senior's door, walking in at his grunt. "We have Xander Harris here." The higher demon snapped his pen as he stared at him. "To tell the military to stop it. Apparently they're trying to restart it. He was referred to us."

"We'd need proof."

"He has some visual files on his phone. Also, twinkies?"

"There was a recall a few months back because the same people dosed all the twinkies coming to this area with a known serum that causes cancer," he said quietly. "It took out one of the team's mothers out there. If we can prove it, they're in deep shit. It will be dangerous though."

"Or they'll shut them up by taking them out?"

"We all wanted that to happen before, when they got given demon hunting assignments. Let him in. I'll take this one." He went to get Xander, who came in. "You dressed up, Watcher."

"I had to talk to another lawyer." He turned on the tv to the local station. It was running a report on that. That lawyer had just come out to tell them that he was evil and lying. Xander handed over his phone. "All the files I have on the phone so I could compare and teach the girls better. If they weren't disgusted I got them therapy."

He looked through them, nodding. "Do we have more than this?"

"Yes I do. Willow downloaded everything from their computers when they ran that final time. Before they could destroy them. She was mid-download of one section when they did that actually. Which is all now sitting in my closet at the slayer house." He grinned. "Along with mine on the Great Twinkie debacle and the times I ran into them in Africa. Good place to start?"

"Great place to start, Mr. Harris." He smirked back. "What do you want out of this?"

"Real punishments for those who did it. Not retirements and cushy jobs in Homeland Security. Not them trying another thing that'll get a lot of people hit. I mean, I figure they used twinkies because I was known to eat them and if they got more mutants, then that's great." He tipped his head to the side. "You're not Wolfram and Hart reborn, right?"

"No. Though we did enjoy it when they went down."

Xander grinned. "They shouldn't have screwed with me. I accidentally broke their protection heartstone killing their time stop spell." He shrugged. "But they're evil and Cordelia got to have a good laugh over all that on her higher plane."

"Chase?" the lower lawyer demanded. "You knew Chase?"

Xander nodded. "I used to date Cordy in high school. I backed up Buffy for years. Angel had a jealous hate-on about me too for some reason. Really pitiful for a two hundred and something year old vampire." He shrugged but grinned. "Yeah, I'm the same Xander. Willow did an ignore him spell in our last year there because she got tired of people drooling on me. It's apparently gotten active again since she's pouty. She probably considers it protecting me." He looked at the higher lawyer, who had stood up to stare at him. "Not like I asked the Red Menace to do that. I was really happy when some friends turned her into a mule."

The older lawyer burst out laughing, nodding at that. "So were many of us. You were Buffy's hunter?" He pulled out a picture to hold up. "I see you were." He handed it back. "Now what?"

"Just make them suffer for it. Let the ones they gave cancer to sue? Get the military to punish their own and stop the new plans in the colleges?"

"I believe we can do that. We need to copy all that information."

He picked up his phone to call the house. "Brad, me. I need all the Initiative files copied please. The lawyer wants them. I know you were military, Brad. Can you tell Penny how to do that then? Or get Weasel to show up and do it for you? Thanks, man." He hung up. "A buddy who's a bartender will copy it without looking at it."

"That's fine. The community has wanted them to be stopped again."

Xander nodded. "All the communities have wanted them to be stopped again. The demon community, the mutant community, all that. And if I go tell the mutant community that, they're going to help start a war."

"Good point. I heard the rumors that you were one."

"Small metal finding ability," Xander said with a grin. "I can find lost earrings. But please don't test it. I get pictures of things that're lost. Really sucks during battles sometimes when someone's worried about their keys."

"You're Metal Finding Guy," the lower lawyer said. Xander grinned and nodded. "I've heard about you yelling at Deadpool about that."

"Yeah, he forgot his reloads." He shrugged. "He's a pretty decent guy. I like him a lot and let him spar with the girls." He grinned. "The girls need the practice against people who have bigger skills."

"Yes they do," he agreed. He swallowed, looking at his boss. "Should we start a file on those with cancer from that?"

Xander pulled up a list. "The ones I've seen in visions." He handed it over. "And you can add my name in but it'll be slower. I'm barely starting to show anything."

"I... yeah, we can do that," the lower lawyer agreed. He handed the phone back after sending that file to a nearby printer. "We can tell our PR person to start ads about it." He went to do that. That would bring in a lot of business.

"There's two old ones in town who survived Sunnydale and all that," Xander said more quietly. "One's The Ancient One up in Brooklyn. The other's upstate with the nuns."

He made note of that. "I can talk to them both, Hunter."

"Watcher, please. I'm over the local slayers." He grinned. "My girls are all good to the locals."

"They are. We've heard great things about them helping at the orphanage and tutoring at the schools."

"You might have someone pay attention to St. Augustine's. We think the new headmaster is going to cause problems. I'm about to go jump down his throat today for their winter dance bullshit."

"I can tell others that as well." He stared at him. "Are you going to tell the older mutants?"

"I don't know," he admitted. "I should. I've told Xavier. He didn't seem to care. Including that a few of his kids got hit by the twinkie plot."

"Oh, dear."

"Yeah. And I'm not into making the other one have flashbacks in rage. I agree with his premise, even though I don't support the movement, but I don't want to see that war."

"No, I don't either. I..." A man came in with boxes on a handtruck. "Is that all of them?"

"Six more loads from the trunk," Weasel said, looking at Xander. "You owe me for moving stuff on my day off."

Xander hugged him. "The same guys who did the twinkies are starting to kill all demons and mutants again to have fun with them. Are these the originals?"

"No. Tara copied them. Not sure how."

"It should've held. If not, ask and I'll make sure the originals are good." He frowned and swished his wand while muttering, then came back to there. He grinned. "I made sure it's all good. Tara was possessed so I had someone else copy it." He grinned at the lawyer. "Physically copied."

"That's even better. How bad can it get?" Xander pulled out a tape after searching and put it into the VCR in there. He flicked it on and let it run.

The lawyer watched as someone he had known was tortured to death. He flicked off the remote and looked at him. "I knew him."

"He managed to escape but got recaught a few days later from the healers they raided," Xander said. "We raided right after that the first time to get a friend free. They had Oz."

The lawyer nodded. "You leave this with me and tell that one mutant?"

"I can do that." Xander shook his hand. "Paperwork?"

"I'll bring it to the slayer house tonight."

Xander smiled and nodded, leaving with Weasel. The lower lawyers could haul the rest of it upstairs. Xander went to get one specific file and put out feelers. "I need to find Sabertooth," he told his contact. "For a meeting. It's a huge problem that he has to hear about and pass me up to his boss about. Thanks." He got sent coordinates and sent himself there magically. He stared at the two mutants. "The military is trying again." He held up a file. "I need him to hear before he hears we're stopping them legally." He handed over the file. It had pictures that made the mutant shudder. "Yeah. It's that bad. I don't want to cause a flashback though."

"Yours?" Sabertooth asked.

"No. I helped stop that. A few minutes after that was taken by their team out there, we busted in to get a friend they had free. That one managed to get out in the escaping. The team out there ended it for good a few weeks later."

"You have to explain it to him."

"I can do that. That's why I called. So he doesn't hear it on the news." He grimaced. "Or anywhere else since I hired a community lawyer for it. They've wanted justice for years."

"He's in the tent." Xander nodded, letting himself be searched and his wand confiscated. He took back his phone though. "You need that?"

"Has files on it." He walked with the group around him. "Hey." Magneto sneered at him. "I'm here in peace to let you know some things so you don't have to hear it through rumors or the news." The file was handed over and Xander sat down to get into his phone's files. "The US army." He handed over his phone. "We on the Sunnydale team stopped them twice. Once they had a friend and we went in to get him out.

"The second time we just stomped it because it was wrong. We knew it was wrong but not how wrong until the first attempt. Then they were trying to create an apocalypse monster so we had the second. Buffy stopped that and we released the rest of the demons and humans they had. Now they're trying to restart and they're the ones behind that twinkie thing."

Magneto watched the film pulled up and shuddered. "I cannot believe that they did that."

"They did that in the nineties. That was taken about a year and a half after I graduated high school in '99 but they operated at least five years before then." The older man stared at him. "Which is why I'm coming to let you know I hired a lawyer this morning because they tried to shut me up." He grinned slightly. "I personally want them all to suffer. They got cherry assignments. Everyone got mad over that. Now they've got a few restarting in colleges. They've got a few in the Weapons X program that got Deadpool and others or they borrowed them and now they're back there." Xander shrugged. "I'm doing what I can to stop that. I definitely don't want a second one to start."

"No, I can agree to that. It was kind of you to let me know about this. We knew they were against mutants."

"The new ones? Yeah. They wanted to rip apart the demons to see what they could steal to implant in humans to make super soldiers and the like. And some just for fun. Two colleges have research teams restarting it on mutant college kids though. And some demons. If they had a mutant program before, we didn't know. Sunnydale was insulated against outside news a lot of the time. We had barely heard about you guys before we left."

Magneto smiled grimly. "If they should restart?"

"I'm moving the girls out of the way and I'm going to help stomp some assholes. I'll. Be. Damned." The older man smiled and nodded. "I've shared this information with the lawyer. All the information we had gathered after they fell in went to him." He handed over a card from that office. "And I told them about all the upcoming cancer patients due to that twinkie thing. By their records they decided all mutants really craved the shit and used it that way to get most of us down. And it did get some of them, mostly kids."

"I was wondering if that was your cologne," Sabertooth said.

"Nope." He looked back at him. "I know a healer that can help me when it's more easy. I've passed on his name too." He looked at Magneto again. "I've already told your better half. Last year sometime. I gave it to Logan to pass on because they were annoying him about one of the kids who might have military level skills."

"Oh, dear," he sighed. "I heard about that and he got the girl to me." Xander grinned. "I...did he tell Charles?"

"I don't know," Xander admitted. "I've talked about it in front of him but he never said anything or asked. I really don't know."

"I can accept that answer." He stared at him. "You're suing them?"

"They're the government. They act faster to cover up their stupid by ending if it's on CNN. Shouting about it and their misconduct leads to people at least trying to hold people accountable and sometimes it does work. If not, and they come after me, I'll handle them. Not the first time since I took over the house in New York. Really it'd be the third time since I took over the house in New York. The higher ups behind that whole Star kissed one thing brought in Finn, who was one of them. Buffy really only likes predators. She thought they were mean but okay enough and only taking evil ones until they took Oz."

"Young girls never see the harder things in life as they are," Magneto said quietly.

"In her case, I think it was willful blindness. She needed someone who was there for her and understood her duty. She just has bad taste." He shrugged. "She led the way when we went in, both times."

"That's good to know. Is that the worst?" Xander shook his head, pulling up a file to show him. He read it, clenching his jaw until he turned it off. "You're right, that would remind me." He shoved the phone back.

"I had nightmares for six months over that tape and I only saw it on the tape we stole." He stared at him. "If I have to help start a new French Revolution, so be it. If we have to be the French Resistance, so be it. At least I'd get better food while we fought. MRE's are gross." Magneto burst out laughing but nodded. "Can you let the lawyer work on his own?"

"I can and if I find things I'll share with him. Though if I find them I will not allow it to continue."

Xander nodded. "Invite me along. Buffy said the same thing. Because we're not letting this restart." He swished and flicked, bringing an envelope with the old man's name on it. "Yours. Their file on you. Which is hella wrong," he admitted with a grin. "They thought all mutants were at least partially demons." He slid it over. "And in there is the employee list in case it comes in handy. Just let us help." He stood up. "Have a better day?" He bowed to the others. "Thanks, guys." He disappeared back to his room to change.

"He's got huge balls," Pietro said from where he was sitting. "I admire that in him but I hope my children can flee this problem."

"The last time a slayer got captured by someone military, Harris had a few poker debts go free them by eating people," Sabertooth said with a smirk. "Even from SHIELD." Pietro grinned at that. "Your mouthy kids should be safe."

"I'd hope so." He came over. "I can bring this to Rogers? He'll have the same response."

"Yes, you can," he said. "At least the information he gave over." He opened the envelope, looking at the contents. On top was a picture of a vial with his name on it. He knew what it was. And it was mostly recent according to the date on the picture and the address on the back. "Scout here," he ordered, handing that over. The rest of the file was gone over. It was laughably wrong in many ways. But it did mention he had some sort of organic tracker inserted. He had to search for that. It also listed his children, including one he did not know of.

"Interesting." He looked at the employee list. "Find them, and share it please, son," he ordered quietly. "We will not let that idea continue. I don't want a second Holocaust." He nodded, going to do that for him. Magneto put the file up and went to his personal tent to calm down. He and Charles needed to have another talk if he knew of this and hadn't stopped it. But first, he had to calm down. This was too close to what he had gone through and no one should have to handle that again. He rubbed his forearm as he paced. Yes, he and Charles had to meet. He called Logan to set that up.

***

Logan nodded as the group got out of the car, pointing behind him. "Gazebo. I'm sure you remember."

"I do," he said, staring at him. "Harris is suing the military people."

"We heard from the news. Charles threw a full decanter of scotch at a wall and burst out swearing that they hadn't managed to stop it."

"He's tried?"

"Subtly. Through the colleges. One did kick them out. The other's trying to kick them out."

"He always was too peaceful when the bad things started." He walked that way, Sabertooth and Pietro behind him. Pietro nodded and handed Logan a copy of those notes they had copied from the lawyer on a few memory cards in a case. He tossed one to Rogers too. Magneto looked at him. "This really is between us, Captain."

"If the US is trying to restart what they did in Germany, it's not just your fight. I'll be damned."

"Harris said the same thing." He smiled slightly. "That holds all that the lawyer has for information." Steve smiled slightly and tipped his head. "Please do. Sometimes the subtle way works, sometimes it doesn't." He looked at Charles. "What have you tried so I know not to copy?" Sometimes he was reminded how long he had actually survived. Looking at how old and tired Charles Xavier looked was one of them.

"I started with the colleges and those who gave them grants. They're not pleased. Nor are their backers in Congress that's getting them attention. They really do hate Harris for that."

"He helped stop the first one. That's a badge of honor," Steve Rogers said. "Even if he did say that their head watcher had handed over a chaos sorcerer to them for being annoying. Thankfully the guy got free a few days later and got found by Brit intelligence thanks to him telling him about Mr. Rayne's deeds. So the UK knows about them and that they went down."

"It doesn't surprise me much," Magneto said, sitting down and taking off his fedora. "We must stop this, Charles."

"Yes, we must. I don't particularly want this to turn into a vendetta against the whole military."

"No, I agree. They have some use," he agreed. "Hopefully they don't agree with this sort of thing." He stared at him. "How do we do this your way?"

"I'm helping expose it and I've given that lawyer, who is a higher ranking demon, access to the records we could ...find." He smiled slightly. "We weren't nice about it either. Having a technopath on your side is helpful."

"It can be. Do we know their bases so we can free the prisoners they have? Before they kill them for being found out?"

"Six out of probably fifteen," Logan admitted as he joined them. "Harris has led a stealth group of demon warriors and a few others in the mercs to them." He handed over those notes. "He made Cable *real* mad he didn't let him help so Xander gave him two to go solve for him tonight."

"So about half then," Magneto said with a nod. "That's a good average for moving so quickly." He looked it over, handing one to Sabertooth. "Investigate and if it's still standing, free the hostages to the hospital in Brooklyn. We'll make sure they get paid."

"I can do that." He called that address in and Steve took it to do the same thing. He looked at him. Rogers just smiled and pulled up his cowl. "Fine, you help."

"Hell yes. And Stark can rip down a computer system like no one else. He went on a rant so long and loud he destroyed his bar when he heard the lawyer's press conference." He walked off to get into that battle.

Magneto smiled at his friend. "We have some very unusual but helpful contacts sometimes."

"We do," he agreed. "The boy came to you?"

"He said he didn't want me to hear it on the news and he apologized for any flashbacks it caused. He knew this would probably set off the old war's wounds."

Charles nodded at that. "I understand and I would have if I had known."

"It's fine, Charles. You don't have to look out for me but that boy is special. Thankfully most of the slayers are out of the way of this. The military knows not to get near them."

"He's pre-used three poker debts," Pietro said with a grin. "He warned the minis if something happened that certain demons would be showing up to get them so he could stomp on someone as he said. Bethy complained she wanted to help with that stomping for bothering her siblings."

Magneto looked at him. "Have you talked to her about how you grew up?"

"Wanda did. The fit lasted for over an hour, we had to pounce her three separate times to keep her from stomping off to take them on herself, and Darcy Lewis showed her how to do that non-physically so it was a better way to weaken them until bigger heros could stomp them for her. Then she could gloat and sneer as they laid on the ground in front of her." He looked at Charles. "Can you check Wanda's mind for tampering please?"

"I can and will," he agreed. "Has she been acting oddly?"

"Yes and I tried holy water. It did not work yet."

"I can do that." Pietro smiled and nodded. "Your youngest is here hiding by the way. Sarah's foster mother is up the road and someone tried to break in. The officers brought her here to protect her until her mother quit trying to kill people." He ran off to get his baby girl to fuss over for a bit. He looked at Magneto. "Your son is quite extraordinary."

"Yes he is. I'm quite proud of him." He smiled. "And his sister. And apparently a third I have not known." He handed over that file. Charles shuddered at the vial's picture. "I had them raided first, Old Friend. They destroyed both of ours. And three of Logan's." He smiled and tipped his head at him. "The files were downloaded so you can go through to make sure you don't have suddenly appearing children like my son did."

"I'd hope I didn't have thirteen kids," Logan said dryly. "Thank you."

"Welcome." He looked at Charles.

"That's one of the colleges I was pressuring to shut down. Supposedly they had kicked them out and shut their labs."

"It was in the genetics program instead. So they turned over samples."

"That is bad." He looked up. "How far are you willing to go?"

"All the way we need to go to make sure no one else has to go through what we did."

"We can limit non-participant damage?"

"If possible, yes."

"Good. I'd hate for them to turn on us again for protecting ourselves and others. We need to tell others."

"Let Harris finish his raids first," Magneto said. "That way they're not in danger of being killed for being found out." That got a nod. "We can call him later?"

"We can do that. Or Cable I suppose." He considered it and sent a mental thought out. "He's not on this coast. We will use Cerebro." He rolled off, letting Magneto come with him. With that computer he could find any mutant anywhere on this world. He could definitely find Harris or Cable that way. He could find Deadpool but his mind was as usual scrambled so he couldn't get through to him. He was with Cable though. He sent a thought to call him because Cable was busy.

***

In upper Minnesota, Deadpool frowned up then looked at his shooting buddy. "I think you need to call the X mansion. I just got a fuzzy call me thought that's clearly not mine since it sounded like an old dude."

"After this," Cable agreed.

"Okay."

***

Xander felt the call and shrugged, shooting another person in the leg. "After this," he ordered. "We call in. Get the victims." They ran that way. Someone was reaching for a button so Xander ended him. He ran off since that group was all gone. The guys standing on the doorway could handle the rest. He heard the mourning call and moaned, speeding up. "Guys, any savable?" he demanded. They shook their heads. All the victims, all fifty it looked like, had been shot in the head.

"All right, we get the ME's up here. Their families deserve to mourn." He looked around. "Check for any others. Then let's clean up and call in the official sorts." He called the local demon clinic to let them know they had bodies instead of living victims. They had someone create a portal to come gather them. "The families will want them back," he told one quietly. She nodded. "We're looking for any survivors now."

"Thank you, Knight."

"This shit sucks and I think we should've shot the original ones instead of trusting the military to handle itself." She smiled sadly. A shout went up. "Oh, thank you, Tara's Goddess," he prayed. "In here," he called. A healer was gotten and ran to her victim. When they had searched the whole base and the files were copied, Xander called in the local FBI agent he had warned he was hunting in the area and there would probably be victims he had to help with.

The guy got there with his team, a smart guy who apparently realized Xander didn't usually call in help. Xander went up to meet him. "We found a base of people torturing demons and mutants." A few of the agents glared. "The three victims we found still alive were moved by the healers. The rest are being taken so they can be given to their families."

He waved. "Let them in, guys. They're here for the idiots we didn't outright kill for this." He walked them down there, pointing. "Their lab and notes." He looked at the head agent. "The victim areas are in the back. Leave the healers alone please. They're being respectful so the families can have their people back."

"Of course they are. That's what should be done. If you had told me, I would've raided it myself, Harris."

"The guys who did it the first time were military and partially in Homeland." Xander gave him a pointed look. "And they're trying to shut me up so they can hide this one too." He led him back there. The agent moaned, reaching down to touch a victim's head. "You knew her?" he guessed but quietly.

"No. Her age. I have a daughter her age." He stood up. "How many and I need details so I can make sure these ones go to prison," he told the head demon. "Be damned if I'm letting this happen. Some agents, yeah, but not this one." They showed him what they had and what they were gathering from the labs.

The agent demanded they set any vials of samples on fire first and Xander got the healers to do that for him with Russell's help. He hadn't seen any victims but he could help with cleanup duties. Then Xander and his crew disappeared while the agents took over. Xander dropped a copy of those notes onto the lawyer's people at one bar with a pointed look. He went to the bartender and had a quiet word. Then he turned around. "People, the healers are getting any victims of the new Initiative program starting last night. The one in Minnesota so many were worried about is down, but I'm sorry. By about eight hours sorry." A few grimaced. One cried.

Xander hugged her. "We found a few survivors but mostly eight hours ago," he told her quietly. "The healers out there are going to give the families any bodies back probably tomorrow. The agent I warned and who showed up to clean up after us, he had an I'll be damned moment too." A few nodded at that. The lawyer looked at the files. "Straight download outta their files." He looked at the one he was hugging.

"There were three survivors," he told her quietly. "You'd have to ask them to see who it was. Two I couldn't tell what they were." She nodded, going to the bartender to have him call out there. "After the other teams are done, that leaves six. Mostly those are mutant ones but I'll keep the community informed." That got a few more nods. Xander got a bottle of water and left to go to the next raid.

***

The various parties joined at one location that night. "How many more?" Xander asked, sounding tired. "And how many went through a cleanse before we got there? I know one of mine did."

"One of ours," Deadpool said. "You can nap."

Xander shot over a dirty look. "I'm fine. Been a while since I was up this long. I'm back in the swing of apocalypse season." He looked at the others. "We got our three."

"We got our three," Cable agreed.

"We got our three," Logan agreed as he joined them. The other mutant team, who was down to a few people, nodded. "You got all yours?"

"That means we have three more?" Xander asked. "Or did we find more?"

"Four more," Cable said.

"We had fifteen," Xander said, frowning. "Twelve from fifteen equals three unless math lied to me. Which wouldn't be the first time," he admitted. He was still frowning. "How four?"

"One of ours was a double one and we got the victims but not the labs," that other mutant team speaker said. "We tried but we mostly got injured and are at the healers."

Xander nodded. "Okay. Can we finish that one?" They shook their heads. "Fire?" he asked hopefully.

"Mostly. Who's the kid?" the other mutant team leader asked. Deadpool glared at Xander.

"I've had him with the healers," Xander defended. "He's helping with cleanups. They had a few parasites that needed to be burned off and he's been doing that part. They know not to let him near the worst cases or to have him burn anything like a victim. They're really using him for lifting skills with some of the girls. Penny's got him. And Russell demanded before you get all judgy with me. He saw me planning and came over to tell me he could help because they had mutant kids like him."

"Being with the healers will be hard but he's seen worse probably at that orphanage," Logan agreed. "Colossus will be screaming later though."

"He's with him there, protecting the healers."

"That's something we didn't think would be needed," Cable agreed. "Has he had to?"

"Twice. Once because someone had a soul debt. The other time, the military was not pleased to find a defensive action around the hospital." He looked at the others. "The last few are mostly mutant centers instead of demon ones?" They nodded. "Okay, let's redistribute and we'll go raid those three?"

"What if they had taken out the kids?" Deadpool asked.

Xander stared at him for a second. "One of mine was a nursery. Had over sixty kids hooked up to IV's." Wade shuddered but nodded quickly. "I put them in order of hardest first and most likely to take out victims first. The mutant kids can fight back even with power limiters on. Plenty of them lived hard and they can beat an ass if they get a chance. The kids can't. The mutants in the 'wood based' one couldn't fight the fire they were using on them." Wade nodded again. "Beyond that, isn't that what Logan's been doing with you guys?"

"Point," Cable agreed. "We did take the most vulnerable ones first. Most of ours were mutants and demons mixed. The purely mutant ones are going to be hell." Xander pulled up a picture and showed him. "That's the mutant street gang."

"And their members will fight to get out of there," Logan agreed. "Half of them are missing." Xander pointed at Cable. "I'm going with you. They might listen to me."

"Agreed," he said. "Let's redistribute talent around." A few more walked over. "You're not really battle ready."

"I can pick locks," Pietro said dryly. "And they can't really hit me with a bullet usually." He nodded behind him. "Give us one center. We'll handle that one."

Xander looked at the notes with Logan then pointed. "You have this one. It's mostly younger teens, but they're mostly orphans or street kids." Pietro nodded. "They would probably help and I want them at the healers too unless someone like Hank's taking over or the Avengers infirmary. The local hospital near there is shitty beyond belief and may be in league with them."

"That's fine," he agreed, taking those notes to the others. "We're here. Younger mutants mostly, orphans and street kids." Sabertooth nodded. "Don't use the local hospital."

"I heard. We can do that. When are we going?"

"As soon as you get there?" Xander called. "Please. They've been trying to clean up and cover up their messes." He looked back. "Please?" Sabertooth nodded, going to handle that. He looked at Logan and Cable, pointing. "The other kids. Some were at a school in the midwest that they raided."

"We can handle that, and they'll probably listen to me," Logan agreed. "Cable?"

"Sure. Who's still walking on yours?"

"I have Rogers and Stark so he can break down any labs."

"Send Stark to mine," Xander said. "I've got a lab. Lots of unfriendly sorts but limited victims. Where they've been sending the samples." Logan nodded, calling that in. He looked at Deadpool. "Be damn careful please? That school had six kids with fire talents and we've had hints they were already fighting back."

"Can do," he said with a two finger salute. They headed for the quinn jet. "I'm nagging you for any injuries later, Xander."

"Sure, you can do that." He looked at his team, getting nods back. Stark stomped in. Xander handed the notes over. "Lots of lab stuff to break. Few victims."

"All right. Can you nap on the way?"

Xander shook his head. "Not without screaming nightmares. We already had one that was cleansed." Stark winced but nodded. They left on their quinn jet, courtesy of Stark's benevolence. Natasha was flying and Xander shook his head. "We're hitting a mostly lab center, Natasha."

"That's fine. I can break many things." She looked back. "Clint's going with Cable and Logan." He grinned. "Bruce is waiting on any injuries at the healers so he can help. Doctor McCoy as well." He nodded, relaxing at that. "Thankfully we've managed to save most everyone. Rest for now, Xander." Xander settled into his seat to rest as much as he could. This base was attached to a military base, just outside the barrier, so they could have extra backup. It was harder to get into but not impossible. SHIELD clearances would help with that. When it didn't get them into the lab, she blew the doorway for them and followed them in to clean up any remaining messes.

***

Charles Xavier came out of the demon hospital the next morning looking exhausted. Erik had left from the roof already to avoid being seen. "Last night, we found many mutants and demons who were in custody of groups that were torturing them for scientific messiness," he announced. "Thankfully we managed to save most of them with a few different response teams." Colossus came out with his girlfriend napping in his arms. "Take her home, Colossus. She's clearly worn herself out." He patted him on the arm.

"The slayers helped quite a lot where they could, as they're not able to handle human problems. Thankfully they could handle protecting here and helping the victims. Mr. Harris has done fantastic making sure the local slayers are socially responsible." He looked around. "There will be a formal announcement about the raids from Captain Rogers later at the Avengers tower. He's debriefing now and it will be in a few hours as far as I know." They nodded, letting him pass.

Xander came out, talking quietly to Russell, who was nodding but looked sad. "Go for the car," he said, giving him a shove. Russell ran for the car to hide. The reporters barely caught sight of him since Xander was coming out a side door. "People, the hospital has asked that you clear the emergency room entry," he announced. "You're preventing people who need help from getting it. Please move to one side or the other!" They got out of the way so the doorway was cleared. "Thank you."

"Were you in on the raids?" one reporter called.

Xander looked at her and nodded. "It's wrong that they restarted that idiocy that got hundreds of thousands of demons killed in Sunnydale. We shut it down out there when we found out. We shut it down out here when we found out. Be *damned* if I'm going to let anyone rip apart anyone to see how they work while they lay there and scream in pain." A few flinched back. "I'm just sorry we didn't get to some sooner. I would've stopped them yesterday if I had heard." He walked off. "Let me get the slayers home to rest. They've been helping the healers inside."

Penny came out rubbing her back. "Being super strong is good for many things, including moving patients. Ladies, car." They ran for the car, making Russell squeeze over. Brad showed up with the car Piotr had driven so the rest of them could go home. Xander got in to drive and they all left. The reporters faded to check on the press conference at Stark tower. Stark was so mad he was spitting. Rogers was frozen stiff and so angry you could see him wanting to punch something. Stark had pictures of the labs without victims in view. Thankfully Stark also had a cleaning crew to clean up the vomit they were doing from the reports and pictures they had.

The lawyers Xander had hired stepped up with information on the last group that had done this, and the few who were in both groups. And the information on the twinkie plot that the same people had come up with. Steve Rogers heard that and went jogging off to make someone go to the infirmary, just in case. They could hear the guy complaining from the hallway but oh well. Rogers was stubborn enough to make anyone hit the infirmary if they needed to. Stark shook his head with a wince but apparently they were handling things.

***

Xander was in bed when the others came in and collapsed. Cable's falling onto the bed nearly shot him off it so he grunted and flipped to his side to give them room.

Wade took off his mask, looking at Xander's simple t-shirt that had a few blood spots on it. He stole it off Xander's body and looked. Well treated cuts at least. "Nice. How many of those are going to infect?"

Xander shrugged, blinking up at him. "Hopefully none. Are you going to lay down? I'm cold. Both of you run warmer than I do." He took his shirt back to put on. "Trick or treating is tomorrow night. Penny said you have to take pictures." He yawned, going back to sleep.

Cable looked at Wade, who sighed but shook his head. They laid down, letting themselves rest. They'd talk to the kid when they all woke up. The giggling girls annoyed them into waking up too soon but Penny yelled at one of them about interrupting her husband talking to the baby so they giggled in embarrassment and ran away again. Russell's 'eww, that's nasty' joined the giggling but they were used to that.

***

Penny handed the last girl her costume, getting pouted at. "You'll like pretending to be Wade, Mimsy."

"I wanted to be a princess."

"So be Princesspool." She beamed and nodded, going to merge the two outfits. The tiara and pink princess dress went well with the mask and costume shirt.

Penny looked around. Her son was pouting but that was normal. "Mine," Bruno pouted, patting his chest.

Penny grinned. "We're all making Uncle Wade happy but you can show him yours first." He beamed and nodded, running off to find his favorite uncle. The rest finished their costumes. There was Clownpool. There was Dogpool. There was Princesspool and two Nightypools because one was Grandma Nightypool and one was younger Nightypool in unicorn jammies. They were warm and the girl hadn't really wanted to be anything this year.

The others were various versions of Wade's outfit, including a Pinkpool and a Purplepool. And one was Cablepool to get them both laughing. And one in the back was Anime Warriorpool. Complete with moving kitty ears and neon colored pseudo-Japanese armor. "Pictures." They gathered together to get their pictures taken. "Bruno, pictures," she called. He ran back in and pounced the girls in front to cuddle them for the pictures.

Brad came to the doorway and burst out laughing. "Let me get the camera, ladies." He went to do that. "Okay. Xander, you have to approve. Wade, they wanted you and Cable to do it too." Wade groaned but oh well. They were sat on the couch by Xander, who was taking pictures with his camera as the group came down. Bruno first and he jumped off the last few stairs and did a superhero pose. "Great job, son. Move for a bit. Let's line up."

Wade was staring at all the different Deadpools. He wasn't sure if he wanted to cry or laugh about that. Though, Princesspool made him finally break and laugh, getting up to hug her. Then the others. He was in costume even because he had a job later so the pictures came out great, and Cable was staring at the mini Cablepool, but got up to hug her demented self. She did like bugging him to teach her things.

Kara and Colossus came down the stairs together. "Dear, we need to fall into the family plan," Kara quipped. She was an assassin from a video game. Colossus was dressed up as the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. They got pictures taken with all the girls too. Then they and Penny, who had on a Deadpool baby shirt, to cover the baby bump joined in for one. Wade stared at her.

"The baby insisted," Penny quipped with a pinch to his cheek. "Wanna come on candy stroll with us?"

"No thanks. They might try to give me apples instead of the good stuff."

She beamed and they headed out together. "We're going to the good neighborhood, guys. After Avengers tower." They cheered. Stark gave out great candy according to some site online.

Cable waited until they were all gone to burst out in giggles. "Oh my god," he laughed. "Wow."

"Just pray that no chaos idiot wants to do what they did in my years. We don't need them turned into their costumes. Because Princesspool would either faint at things after beating them or just tell the others to get it for her."

Wade stared at him. "That's mean!"

"That was Penny's idea."

"I meant the chaos thing!"

"Ethan Rayne did it to Sunnydale in one of our years. We were forced to guide the little kids by our troll of a principal. I went in a pair of camos I found." He shifted in his chair. "Buffy went as a lady of the old times and fainted at cars and squirrels and vampires." He shrugged. "I'm hoping it won't happen this year."

"Yeah, they don't need that," Wade agreed quickly. "So damn weird!"

"Well, yeah, but hey, chaos magic." He grinned. "Could be worse I guess."

"True, they could all really turn into Wade," Cable said, pulling himself back together again. "I need to hug Penny for that." Xander sent the pictures and video to the bulletin board for the slayers. Buffy burst out laughing and a few girls worried about chaos magic because someone had a slayer dream. The ones who had met Wade all got giggly about it. Especially Animepool and Dogpool. Princesspool seemed to win though.

Wade went to handle his job, shaking his head. Cable sent photos of the group to his friends' phones so they could giggle too.

Xander skipped off to go have some fun with himself. Because he had lost a bet with Dawn and had to dress himself up. Then he had to sneak out so no one realized it was him. He would never live this down.

***

In Avengers tower, Natasha was on candy duty when the first mini Deadpool came in. He was a cute one. She smiled as she handed over a mini candy bar. "I know him and you do a very good version of him." The boy beamed and patted her hand then ran back to his parents. Clint and Steve came down to help her because she was getting mobbed by kids, and it was a bit creepy when she spotted herself as a costume. Three girls with red wigs and black clothes with chunky bracelets and fake guns in hip holsters.

One boy had went all out and he was wearing a version of her catsuit but had naturally red hair. She smiled at them all and patted them all on the head. "You did very good," she told them. The boy beamed and did a backflip. "Ooh, gymnastics. That's a great thing. I learned that and ballet." He beamed and got a second candybar from Clint with a wink. They were all handing over candy when the slayer team came in. She paused then broke out giggling.

Clint took out his phone to take pictures, making them all smile. "You guys did that so well! I'm pretty sure Deadpool was happy with that." He gave them all candy.

Dogpool looked up at Steve, grinning at him. "I would've went as you but you can't be a puppy dog and I'm always a puppy."

"I think you make a great puppy, Serra." He gave her a hug. "Good job." She beamed and stole a candybar before going back to where Penny was waiting. He grinned at the mini Cablepool. "You did a great job combining them."

"Thank you, Captain Guy." She bounced up to kiss him on the cheek then ran off.

"Stay with us," Penny reminded her. She came running back. "Thank you. Guys, we done? We have a lot of places to hit tonight." They chatted as they went out with Penny to hit the other buildings that had candy being given out. Then they went to the pricier part of Manhattan to hit up the Overlord's house. Then to some of the nicer houses there. Then they'd finish up with the demon bars.

Natasha looked at Clint and Steve. "Well."

"Penny had mean moments during her last pregnancy. I'm guessing she was picking on Wade. But Bruno does love him." Clint grinned at her. "They were so cute."

"They're kids, they should be cute, and this holiday is great for that," Natasha agreed, still smiling. She leaned down to adjust one girl's hair bow headband. "It was going to fall off." The girl beamed up at her, holding up her plastic pumpkin. She handed over a few pieces of candy.

"Say thank you, Mandy." The girl grunted, eyes wide.

Natasha smiled. "That was a nice thank you, dear. You have a safe night." The girl giggled and ran off, her mother chasing her. She straightened up again because they were having a lull at the moment. She looked at the others, who all smiled and pointed at one kid pouting at the elevator. "Little one, are you lost?" she called.

"Want Thor," he pouted, patting his Thor t-shirt. "Pwease?"

"I'll see if he's up there," Clint said, calling upstairs. "Jane.... Okay, Darcy, there's a kid down here wanting to show Thor his Thor t-shirt for halloween. Can you get him down here really fast? Thanks." He hung up. "She'll go find him." The boy beamed at him, showing he was missing a front tooth. Steve grinned back. "You can sit there, little guy. I know the hammer's heavy." The boy still looked amazed when Thor came off the elevator. He squealed and hugged his leg, patting his t-shirt.

"It's a mighty version of me, young one. I'm glad I could inspire your dreams tonight." He patted him on the head, letting Clint hand him some candy to hand over. "There. So you can have a happy night." The boy squealed and ran off. "Where are your parents?" he called.

Clint handed over his candy bowl, heading out after that little kid. He ran into a few more groups of kids, grinning at them. "Tower has mini candy bars, guys." They nodded, heading there. Clint kept following the kid until he ran into an officer then he pulled him with him, pointing. "Was at the tower," he said quietly. "Wanted to see Thor. No parents. No idea where he's going." The officer nodded, calling in that he had a lost kid. He looked up and sighed at the Spiderman going around. The he looked back and had lost the kid. He paused, watching around. There he was, in an alley. He walked over to him. "Hey, little guy, are you lost?" He squatted down in front of him. "I'm Hawkeye."

"I know," he said quietly, staring at him. "I'm going home."

"Okay, I can walk you there. I'm worried that some of the big kids might be mean because they wanted to be Thor and couldn't hold the hammer. Can I help you get home?"

"But you're a stranger."

Clint waved and the officer came over. "Is he one?"

"No, he 'ficer."

"I can walk you home, little guy," the officer said. "That way you don't get hurt crossing a street or get picked on by a big kid." He held out a hand. "Got enough candy?" The kid's eyes went wide. "Here, we can get a few more on the way home." Clint handed over one had snuck for later, getting a shy grin. He stood up, ruffling the kid's hair. "Okay, we'll go home. You tell me where and I'll walk you?" He nodded, going with him. "Thanks, Hawkeye."

"Never a problem. We've got candy at the tower." He went back there, pausing at one crying young girl who had her pumpkin split. "Here, let's make you a sack. It's even more cool because it can hold more." He showed her how to make one out of her costume's cape, making her smile. "There you go." He picked up all the wrapped stuff for her, ignoring the two apples.

"Better?" She nodded. "Did you hit the tower? We have mini candy bars." She squealed, running over to bounce around her mother's feet until the woman sighed as she walked her that way. Clint went back to the tower too. "Found an officer for that one. He's walking him home." Thor smiled at him. "Tonight can be dangerous for that. Kids should be protected." The parents in there gave him a look. "Lost kid." They nodded.

***

Xander walked into the demon bar's party with Dawn next to him. She was a fantasy warrior in tight leather pants, reasonably heeled boots, a tight bustier and an overcoat, all in dark crimson. She had a rather large fantasy gun on her back that she had borrowed from somewhere. Her hair was partially braided around her head in a crown and she had a few flowers tucked into it. She grinned when everyone stared at them, winking at one.

Xander, well, he *had* lost a bet. Dawn insisted he come as a sorceress. Fantasy but steampunkish. So at least he wasn't wearing the bikini top and long skirt. Instead, he had a longish cream colored top that did emphasize what little chest muscles he had that fell about panty length, and a crimson waist cincher on top of it to help push those chest muscles up to simulate small boobs. The leather ribbons were in silver and showed up nicely against the cincher. The waist cincher had a crimson peplum that was open in front to the few inches it fell but the back hit about mid-thigh. He had on skin tight silver leggings to mimic tights.

Boots in a matching silver that tied up the front that were reasonably heeled if he had to handle a problem. He was wearing a garter that held three vials that weren't marked and a dagger on the outer edge. He had two more knives tucked into his knee-high boots. He had on a mask to hide his face and a crown of crystals through his hair, which Dawn had fixed for him to look spiky and messy bedhair. He did actually look a bit hot. A few people were staring at him but behind the mask he was blushing. Thankfully it left his chin uncovered so he could get a drink. He walked around a few of the local poker circuit, nodding at a few. Dawn strolled after him, smiling and greeting others.

The bartender stared at him. "Do we know you, Miss? This is poker members only."

Xander tipped his mask up a bit so only he could see him. "I lost a bet with Dawn," he mouthed. "Beer me before I die of mortification?" The bartender's eyes went wide and he muttered but got him his usual brand of beer in a bottle. "Thanks," Xander muttered, paying and tipping him before turning back to the room. He turned down a few attempts to dance with him, earning pouts.

Dawn smiled at one. "My buddy and I are going to hang here for a bit." She winked at him. "Come back before we run away to turn into a pumpkin."

"I'm not a carriage," Xander quipped. "But I might turn into a housemaid." He sipped his beer. The demon's eyes went wide and Xander shrugged a bit. "I lost a bet."

Dawn beamed and nodded. "Yes he did." The demon nodded, going to spread that rumor but not who it was. Xander would never live this down if others realized it. As the night wore on they drifted out of the party to save their sanity. There was only so many mating demons they could be forced to watch before they lost some sanity. They were walking back to the house and of course ran into a problem. A magical problem. Dawn groaned.

Xander pulled his sword and tapped it on the ground, putting some magic on it. "Really?" he asked the being. "It's All Saints' Eve. It's a happy occasion. We don't need this tonight." The being stared at him oddly. Xander stared back. "C'mon. Touch a hunter, dude."

"You look more like a witch," the guy laughed. So Xander castrated him with his first blow. The demon shrieked, drawing more attention. "No! Only the Seeing One can defeat me!"

Xander smirked. "Well, I've been called the Unseen Seer before. That good enough?" The demon shrieked and tried to get up but Xander beheaded him. He looked at the other two. "Next?" They ran.

Dr. Strange, who had been fighting them, pushed back his sweaty hair. "Dawn, do I know of your friend?" he asked, walking over.

"Um, yeah, he lost a bet." She grinned. "I decided I was a bit evil tonight so I dressed him up." Xander glared at her from behind his mask. "You do look hot."

"If I get picked on even once, I'm going to send them to you," he shot back. "And if you tell your sister I'll kill you so damn dead, Dawn Summers. Even your new friends won't be able to find all the pieces of you."

The sorcerer glared at him. "You should not threaten her. She is not mean to you."

Xander lifted the mask to stare at him, making him gasp as he stumbled backward. "Yes she is and she enjoys it because no one's sexed her up recently." He put the mask back down. "At least it's not fantasy wench armor or something. I couldn't put up with the panties and filmy skirt." He walked off. "It's time for another beer. Have fun, you two."

Dawn waved at his back then grinned at Stephen, who was still choking. "I'm trying to find him someone nice who might like to cuddle the Xander. Though he does have a better ass than I do." She shrugged and grinned. "We're going back to the house after a long walk. Have fun. Need help with the cleanup?" He stared at her, shaking his head slowly. "Cool." She grinned and strolled off. The shoes really did make her strut and those pants were tight enough to show veins.

She decided to go to the Magic Users Ball when she had to walk past it. She walked up to the door and had to surrender her weapons but that was fine. Not like she was helpless. They at least stripped them off her after she was announced so everyone saw her being disarmed. She strolled down the stairs. "Wong!" She hugged him around the shoulders. "Saw your boss. Xander took out one of the things he was fighting and horrified him greatly." She grinned. "Introduce me around?"

"I can do that, Dawn." He looked her over. "You dressed up tonight."

"It is Halloween, Wong." He grinned. "The whole slayer house went as some version of Deadpool tonight too. Including Princesspool. Xander shared pictures." She showed him as they walked off. He was giggling so it was a good night. She nodded at the top sorceress in the room. "Evening, ma'am."

She tipped her head. "Do I know of you, child?" she almost sneered.

She held out a hand. "Dawn Summers." The woman flinched back, looking alarmed. "Wow, did I get a reputation as being evil? I'm only evil to my sister and Xander." She put her hand down. "I'm usually a nice, normal girl. Who does artifact work."

The sorceress pulled on her glasses to stare at her. "You..."

"Yeah." She grinned. "I'm not here to cause problems."

"Someone may fix that for you. You are vulnerable, child."

"No I'm not. I was taught to survive by Xander." She winked and they walked on. "Have a happy night, ma'am, and pleasure meeting you." The sorceress was gulping her wine but that was about usual when magic users got near Dawn these days. "Am I leaking magic?"

"No," Wong said, shaking his head. "Not that I can feel."

"Cool. That's good. I'm trying to be a good girl tonight. Though I did dress Xander up since he lost the bet." She showed him the picture, making him give her a horrified look. She grinned up at him. "Which is why Stephen nearly choked himself onto the astral plane." He lost it and giggled, leaning against a pillar to laugh into it. "Exactly." She smiled and wiggled her fingers at a few staring people. "Hi. I only know a few of you. I'm Dawn." She held out a hand. "I mostly do artifact work."

One shook her hand. "I've seen you at Stephen's domicile," he said.

She grinned and nodded. "We've had to do a few things. One of them to Rosenburg."

"Ooh, don't say her name. She might appear."

"No she won't. Because I'll kick her ass back to Cleveland. Just like last time."

"You know of her?"

"I'm Buffy's sister. I usually run the other direction of Willow's BS."

"That's a good thing. Which is why you do artifact work?" She grinned and nodded. "You were doing protections when those aliens showed up."

"I was." She smiled at him then at Wong, who was looking worried. She looked at the guy again. "Dude, you can't suck my magic from me," she said quietly. "It's protected by a lot of things." He looked alarmed. "And if you tried, there's a lot of beings who'd suddenly really like you as a meal. I'm not a minor witch. As much as I seem like it." She smiled. "Okay?"

"Who are you really?"

"Dawn Summers. The same as I've always been." She walked off to go back to Wong's side. "Did he ever find that book on dragon's scales? The ones from another realm aren't for our form of dragon and that statue is really picky about what sort of oil I use on it."

"No, not yet, Dawn." He led her to some of the other sorcerers of his order. "Look who appeared."

"I got tired of picking on Xander for losing a bet." She grinned. "But he does look smokin' hot if someone wanted to go flirt with him." She turned and hit someone. "Get off my ass. Before I have to turn this into a show." He backed up, hands up. "Thanks." She looked at the sorcerer again. "Problems, guys?"

One of the sorcerers stared at her. "You aren't fully one of us."

"True. But I am a magic user." She grinned. "Aren't I?"

"Yes, you are," he agreed, shaking her hand. Wong let him take her. "Thank you, Wong."

"He's very gentlemanly and kept me from hitting someone. Plus everyone underestimates the guy who studies things from the corner. And he's a nice guy." She grinned at him. He blushed but ducked his head. "Some day I'm going to steal you from Stephen to have you come help me with the artifacts repository I'm working in." He grinned shyly and walked off to get a drink. She looked at the sorcerers. "Stephen was done with the things in the park when Xander helped him so he might be here later. Not sure. He really could use a good party to loosen up again."

"He is rather uptight." Her walking companion shook his head but he was smiling. "They can probably tell how you have magic, Dawn. As some of us can."

She grinned at him. "You already tried guessing that and were wrong."

"Yours is sealed."

"Not totally. I can do some huge things, I just have to have some prep time. Or an emergency when I blow my cover." He stared at her. She nodded. "This is my mundane identity." She winked at Ethan when she ran into him, then pulled up the picture of Xander. "He lost a bet. He's off getting a drink to hide from guys who think he's flirty." Ethan patted her on the head and sent the picture to himself. She already had his cellphone number. She winked. "He did look hot as hell."

"He did, chit. You did good."

"I could've made him wear more anime styled armor but he would've freaked out at the bikini top and skirt."

"Probably," he agreed, smiling at her. "Janus does appreciate such services."

"Yeah but he's never been mine. He just gets some by-blow of me teasing."

"True. I do wish I had been able to mentor you into the service of chaos. Rupert would've skinned me alive."

She pinched him on the cheek. "I would've skinned you alive, Ethan. I only cause chaos with wanting me." He walked off chuckling. She smiled at the sorcerer she had been talking to. "He used to be in the London coven with the guy in charge of the Council."

"That Giles guy?"

"Yeah. That's Ripper. He and Ethan and a few friends used to practice." She walked off with him again. "Ethan brought some chaos to Sunnydale more than once but it was helpful in some way usually. Mostly balanced even. Xander really appreciated some of it, outside the halloween thing for everyone else. That kinda sucked for the kids."

"What did he do?"

"He opened a costume shop to sell enchanted costumes that would turn you into whatever you were wearing when he activated the spell to raise power for Janus."

The sorcerer stopped, blinking at her. "He did what?"

"Years ago. Back when my sister was in high school. Their troll of a principal made them go with the kiddies. They had to dress up. My sister went as an airheaded seventeenth century lady. Xander said she fainted at squirrels."

He blinked a few times. "How did he do that?"

"You'd have to ask him how he marked the costumes. It was a bit before I was there." She smiled at the guy walking over. "Sorcerer Mordo."

"You are a creation."

She smiled at him. "Prove it." He blasted magic at her and she caught it then let the ball of it form on her hand, playing with it. He looked alarmed, backing away from her. "It's always a bad idea to attack me, Baron. Seriously." She tossed the ball up and made it dissolve into a shower of light sparks. She looked at him again. "Didn't age and experience teach you not to start the fight?" He shuddered, stomping off. She shrugged and walked off with her chatty partner on the way. "Anyway, you'd have to ask Ethan how he marked the costumes. We're just really hoping we don't have another one." She looked at the three elder sorcerers stomping her way. "I did not start it. I just finished it."

"You are...." one said then paused. "Oh, shit." He backed up and bowed. "Um..."

"I'm Dawn. Dawn Summers. I'm working on the artifact repository in Spain." She smiled and held out a hand. "I believe you're the Blood Lord of the Swiss coven."

"I am." He stared at her, then lifted his glasses to look at her. "How on earth?"

"Depends on what you saw?"

"A lock, child."

"Redheaded menace in my sister's life?" she guessed. They all groaned. "Is that why you guys all freaked out over?" she asked the sorcerer she had been talking to. He nodded. "Oh, no, that wasn't me. The redhead we don't mention in case she shows up was working on the astral plane and tripped into a trap because it was shiny. Then she told me she had used some of my blood to lock Thanos up," she finished grimly. "I'm going to kill her for that some day soon. Before he shows up in about six weeks."

The three seniors shared a look then at her. "Are we certain?"

She nodded. "Yeah. The seer I know, yeah he's certain."

"Oh, dear," the younger sorcerer said. "No wonder we're upping the wards tonight."

"Tomorrow night?" she guessed. "I'm supposed to be helping Wong and he said tomorrow night."

"It's after midnight," Wong called. He hissed in one person's ear, getting a nod back. "The chain is tightening, Dawn."

"Then I'd better enjoy it before I have to kill his skanky ass to get free, huh?" She smiled and bowed a bit. "Am I free to go?"

The female of the three looked at her. "Unlike them I know who you are, Dawn. I actually studied the order that guarded you." Dawn smirked at her. "They'd have hissy fits that you weren't immortally pure."

"So does my sister." The older woman cracked and smiled at her. "Right now, it's Halloween. It's a good night for a party and a great time for it before we all get snapped away." She flicked a hand in the air, stopping the spells coming toward her. She looked back. "Don't try that." The younger witch moaned and stomped off. She wiggled her fingers at the girl's back. "You have a great night, dear, and I hope you're not part of that coven that's been refusing to pay their cab fares. That's kinda petty." She looked at the older woman again, nodding at the one coming over. "She studied monks."

"That lock is getting more prominent," Stephen agreed.

"Six weeks. Late fall is coming late this year."

"Point." He looked her over. "Why did you dress that way?"

"Costume party at the demon bars. Usually you'd find me in jeans or jammies." She grinned at the elders. "I'm not usually this tarty. Flirty but not tarty. That's my sister too." They walked off smiling about her. She looked at her chatting companion then at him. "You okay? You look flushed. Want me to get you some water?"

"No, I'm fine, Dawn." He huffed. "That was Xander?"

She gave him the most evil smirk she had. "He lost a bet. I got to pick his costume for the party. I was hoping someone would pick him up and make him happy."

He nodded. "I know of many who would. He was slightly followed but they saw him use the sword to demasculate the demon." She grinned, poking him on the side. Two young witches stomped over so he stared at them. "Girls," he said with a nod at them. They pouted as they stomped off. "I have no idea...."

"They wanted your attention. It's power attraction, Stephen. Didn't anyone tell you about that stuff? How some magic will be on the same wavelength so it wants to make baby magic with yours?"

"I've read of it but never experienced it."

"It's almost always one sided. I had to get someone off my ass last month for it. The guy was a handsome enough earth witch but I wasn't into that or him and he wanted to do a virgin sacrificial rite to get rid of his. I'm not into that sort of rite. Though I did suggest he talk to someone who's across the room. I've heard he's into that."

Stephen stared at her. "You do give such headaches, Dawn."

She grinned. "That's because you're uptight and need to relax, Stephen. It's a party. It's a happy holiday and a party. You should always celebrate the happies."

"I know. It's been a long year and we have much work to do coming up."

"I know. I remember we're starting after sundown the next time it comes." He checked his watch and sighed. She took his hand and dragged him to the bar, getting him a steaming drink that she told the bartender to make. "Xander drinks this," she said, handing him the glass. "It was his 'not smiting a slayer' drink for years on end." She sipped hers.

He sniffed it and looked at the side of the glass before taking a careful sip. Then he shook his head quickly. "Yeah, a bit strong but it's good sometimes. One isn't going to hurt your focus or make you lose control. Not like we can see you table dancing, Stephen." She smiled and walked off to talk to a witch she had worked with on a possessed book.

He walked off sipping that weird drink. It was potent but nice going down. Not too warming but it tasted sweet. Not his usual brandy in the least. He ran into a few of his sorcerers. "Dawn is very full of life."

"She's young," one of them said. "She should be. Until she becomes a mother."

"I don't think that's a possibility," Stephen admitted. He looked at her then at them again. "Tonight for the protections?" They nodded they remembered. "I'll see you then." He went to save Dawn from Baron Mordo but Dawn just giggled at him like he was a silly witch and strolled away from him. She clearly did not appreciate the level of danger she had been in but then again, she was Dawn and Dawn did that.

***

Xander ducked into Sister Margaret's Home for Wayward Children, shaking his head. "Fuck." He wiggled his way up to the bar ignoring all the looks at his backside. "Hey, Weasel, please beer me before I go outside to punch the living shit outta the guys who think I'm easy?" Weasel was staring at him. Xander sighed. "Bet. Lost to Dawn. At least it's not anime armor. Please? Beer?"

"Um, yeah, Xander." He got him a mixed drink instead. "No rum or cranberry."

"Thanks. I don't need to be flirty in this outfit." He sighed. Someone pinched his ass so he turned and beat them into the floor then stood on top of their hips to get closer to the bar. "So anyway, the kids show up?"

"I went out to give them candy. They were so cute. Especially Princesspool." He grinned. "Penny?"

"Yup. Bruno insisted on going as Deadpool but Penny decided to tease him by having the rest of the girls go that way." Someone patted him on the back like they were trying to get around him and letting him know they were there so he turned to hit them but turned out to be Cable, who was shocked as hell. "Dawn. I lost a bet to Dawn."

Cable finally closed his mouth. He glanced around then at the younger guy. "Want walked home?"

"Hell yes. I nearly had to beat a few drunk guys on the walk here. I'm having a beer to make sure I don't." The one he was standing on groaned. He looked down. "Footstools should be silent unless you're in a Disney movie about mystical castles." It shut up. He looked at Cable again. "I can get Dopinder to bring me home."

"He's carting home drunk people as a public service," Weasel said. He looked Xander over again. "Don't hit me but you look hot as fuck."

He grinned. "Thanks. I know but thanks." He smirked. "All those dress movies the girls made me watch with them came in handy for the waist cincher." Wade walked in and Xander moaned. "Let me escape before he sees me. I'll never live this down." Cable took him out the back way and walked him back to the house then went back to the bar. Xander walked in and sighed in relief. The older girls all stared at him. He took off his mask. "Dawn. Never bet against Dawn in baccarat." They just nodded. "It's not as anime as she wanted, ladies." Penny just nodded again slowly. "You're married and Brad would hate the waist cincher, Penny." He went up to his room to collapse.

"Fuck," Penny said.

"My man could not wear those pants," Kara said. "And that makes me really happy so I don't have to get jealous." Piotr leaned out of the kitchen to stare at her. "Xander's costume."

"I saw him trying it on and felt much sorrow for his sore back in that waist belt." He went back to making himself a light snack. Which Kara would steal most of but that was his intention anyway.

Brad came in with the last of the girls, who had tried to sneak off to go to a community party. "Upstairs, you little Wades." They giggled as they ran up there. He shut the door. "We all in?"

"Unless Dawn shows up," Kara quipped. "We know she's local. She and Xander went out together."

Brad stared at her. "Why?"

"Dawn," she said dryly. "Xander even lost a bet."

Piotr nodded from his seat next to Kara. "He is very enticing in that outfit. I almost expected Bo Peep."

Kara elbowed him with a grin. "Dawn has better taste than cosplay with fetish costumes, Piotr. Xander would beat her ass for that." He kissed her. "Thank you, dear."

Brad went to look at the house's security system, downloading a picture of Xander in that getup. That was clearly blackmail worthy.

"Cable had to bring me home from the bar," Xander called. "Before I had to beat someone else."

"Damn," Brad complained. He still shared the photo with Faith and warned her not to spread it. Upstairs Xander's phone rang and he burst out laughing. "I guess she flirted." Dawn showed up before they were finished with the movie they were watching, letting them all drool at how she was dressed. "Damn squared."

"Yes but you're married so I won't even try to flirt with you," Dawn quipped as she walked past the living room area. "Sucks, but you picked a great one with Penny, Brad. Since I'm a good girl we don't poach."

"Thanks," Penny called. "I'd hate to let you have to take care of Bruno for weeks on end, Dawn."

Dawn came back down to stare at her. "Did you see Bruno trying to chew on Xander's possessed bookmark earlier?" She grinned. "Some day he'll be a great slayer." She strolled off again.

Piotr finally dropped the food he had frozen on the way to his mouth. "Well," he said. Kara looked up at him. "It is quite an artistic outfit but it would look better on your curves, Kara. Especially those pants." She grinned up at him. "You should steal it from her. I would appreciate that." That saved her being mean during sparring for him drooling at Dawn's hind end. She went up to tell that to Dawn, who did let her have the outfit. Piotr was in for a hell of a ride that night.

Penny looked at him. "Eat more for energy. Keep us all up. The kids are all knocked out." He blushed but did take the rest of their snack upstairs with him. Penny looked at Brad. "He's right, you wouldn't look half as hot in the waist cincher." He grabbed her to tickle her and make her regret thinking about that idea. She shrieked and squealed enough to keep Xander from falling fully asleep and covered up all the noise Kara was making.

***

Wade got handed a picture by one of the mercs, who was smirking at him. Cable took the phone from Wade's hand and glared at the merc, who scrambled off. "Xander lost a bet to Dawn. She got to pick out his costume." He let him have it back. "He hid from you so he didn't have to hear about it like you do Bearpool."

Wade blinked at the picture, enlarging it a few times. "Damn. I wonder if he stuffed that," he mumbled. He tossed the phone back to the guy. "Poor guy."

"He beat someone who slapped him on the ass," Weasel said dryly, smirking at him. "He was embarrassed but damn hot."

"Yeah, I can see that. Stuffed?"

"Muscles, he has them," Weasel complained, staring at him.

"I'm not going to pick on the guy. He doesn't pick on me if I have to dress up for a job, but I might steal that outfit."

"You don't have chest muscles to pull it off," Cable said, sipping his beer.

"He ducked in here because guys were being annoying and guys over what they thought was a hot girl," another merc said. "He got Brantlin after he spanked him. Told him footstools were silent except in Disney movies."

Wade grinned, nodding. "The younger minis have been on a Disney kick." That merc nodded he knew how that happened. Wade shook his head. "Xander's cute but he's not my type, people. I like things rougher than he does and he's not a self-healer." He took his shot to gulp, putting the glass back on the bar. "Suggest him to Cable or Domino."

"I don't like to squeal that way," Cable said sarcastically. "Though he has come home bruised from a few of them, mostly handprints on his arms." He took another drink, staring at the other merc. "Please set Xander up if you know someone."

"Yeah, I can do that. Is he slinky at home? The boots clearly changed his walk tonight because he was slinky."

"He was trying to hide," Weasel said. "Though, yeah, I've seen Xander on a club hunt. Damn, I nearly went gay that night." Wade stared at him oddly. "Seriously, that's how he hunts in the clubs and it works well."

Cable nodded. "He can draw when he's trying." He finished his drink and got another one. Wade was shaking his head. "Please fix Xander up. We'd all like him to have someone nice enough, like Brad is for Penny."

Domino strolled over in her harlequin bodysuit outfit. "It's sad but they napped in the same bed and no one even got morning wood," she said with a grin for Wade. "You might think about viagra."

"I don't need viagra. Want me to prove it to ya?" he quipped with an evil little smirk.

"Nah. I'm not into rough stuff either."

"Same bed?" Weasel asked, lifting his head to grin at them.

"Somehow Xander fights nightmares off," Wade told him with a pointed look. "I've barely had any dreams, much less the nastier ones. Though I did have one with Ness playing a harp in something flimsy but she was disgusted at them making her do that so she was swearing at God to the tune of the music she was playing, which was her favorite song to strip to." He accepted a beer. "But otherwise I've had really nice dreams. Just picnics and rain storms, and a lot of dogs showing up for some reason." He shrugged. "Maybe it's a gift. Maybe it's something about his magic. Maybe it's just that they're scared to death of Xander."

Cable nodded. "Mine left too after Wade dragged me in one night I couldn't sleep. Xander won't try to cuddle usually but no nightmares at all."

"Huh." Weasel nodded slowly. "That's a damn handy gift." Wade nodded, sipping his beer. "Picnics?"

"Yeah. For some reason I keep having one with a picnic with a few of the girls, who change into different slayers during it, and then a slight rainstorm starts so they squeal and run for the trees, where Piotr's waiting to let them shelter around him. I apparently clean up the picnic and end up feeding some ham sandwiches to a dog that shows up." He shrugged. "No idea. Never had it before then. Only when I'm collapsed next to Xander somehow."

"I never get that one," Cable said, frowning at him. "I get sitting on a porch swing somewhere wooded with some woman I can't identify when a gentle rain starts and we watch the puddles form. Some light instrumental music in the background just barely loud enough to hear. She laughs at something and fades out but leaves me there watching the rain form puddles on the walkway from the driveway."

Wade looked at him. "Are yours more detailed thanks to the metal virus stuff?"

"Could be because of the mental skills I built up to stop it."

Domino gave them both an odd look. "So, rain, puppies, calmness. Wow, maybe I should try to nap on Xander's shoulder to get some of my own sent off."

"No, I can nap by myself and they come back," Wade said. "Just like before."

"Huh. I wonder if he can bottle that shit." She walked off. Someone showed her that picture. "She's hot. New merc?"

"Xander lost a bet, we're not picking on Xander for losing to Dawn," Wade reminded them. "We'd hate to see you being cut into bait pieces." That guy nodded, hiding the picture again.

Domino blinked a few times. "I didn't know Xander had it in him. He's so...guy like." She walked off with that happy thought for the night.

Wade and Cable got back to their drinking while making sure nothing too huge popped up tonight to bother any partying. You never knew what some pagan somewhere would come up with. Or chaos sorcerer. Wade looked at Weasel. "Found out why the girls had rules for costumes. Apparently back in high school, there was a chaos sorcerer who turned the costumes he sold so the kids changed into them." Cable shook his head quickly at that. "Xander, Buffy, and that group had been made to take the kiddies out so he had on a pair of camos. Buffy went as some airheaded lady that fainted at everything." He smirked. "So now we know how Xander got military training."

Weasel considered it. "Could someone do that here?"

"Xander said he had specially prepared the costumes he sold." He paused then slapped himself on the forehead. "That damn wishing meteorite. The museum was having a kids costume party." He finished his drink, heading to make sure no kids would want to really become their costumes. How could you stop a six-year-old who wanted to be a killer clown or something? Or worse, the girls who wanted to be unicorns.

He found the meteorite covered with a magical grid around it. Not one like Strange built but a fully magical grid. He considered it. A young kid in a dragon costume was trying to touch it and giggling at his mother's orders to touch it so she could get a good picture. Most of the kids had already left so Wade pulled the fire alarm. Everyone ran out and Wade made sure no kids touched that stupid wishing meteorite. They really needed to hide that thing in a vault. And anything else that came out of Sunnydale's remains. Before he had stories like Xander's.

***

Dawn came out of the shower, toweling off her hair so she could pull it back into a braid. She slipped into her robe and nodded at the few other women using that bathroom to clean up before the ritual. She slid into her slippers, walking out to go look over the painted on runes and markings. She found hers and it was small but they were in a smallish room so that made sense. She looked up to make sure the glass ceiling was going to hold then around the room, nodding at the few sorcerers she knew.

One stared at her oddly. She grinned and wiggled her fingers. "I make an excellent battery for workings and protections." That one groaned. She looked at one mark. "Smudged." They went to get the stuff to clean it up and redo the mark. She made sure of hers, having to wipe off a small smudge. The paint had to be fresh, which made it a pain. She gathered her senses and sank to her knees in her spot.

She was the grounding pole of the North working form. Wong would be the lightening rod to channel it down to her while the other two in their group were going to bend it into the protections. They had five women, who were mostly doing the lightening rod job but Dawn knew that would cause problems so she was grounding. She nodded at one woman staring at her. "Hey, Doc." She grinned.

"You're grounding?"

"Yeah. I do a lot of protection work."

"Oh, okay." She looked around, cleaning up her smudged figures.

Stephen was groaning in his spot but the others all had to clean up little smudges. The female channel they'd all channel into to link everything together was led in and shown to her spot. Stephen walked around to make sure of all the markings, cleaning up a few smudges or letting someone else handle it for him if they were in place.

He came back to his spot in the center of the circle, taking his girlfriend's hand to help her onto her knees. All the other grounding ones were on theirs. He made one last check of the marks then nodded. "Let the Vishanti guide our workings," he announced, starting it. As he worked to draw the magic up and into the working he noticed Dawn had added some of hers.

It was nice of her, but a bit overwhelming. He looked at her. She shrugged slightly and pulled back, focusing on outer energy instead of inner. Wong blinked at her a few times, nudging her with a toe. She grinned up at him and held up a hand, getting helped up so she could magically cement the pole of magic into place with the others.

Stephen shivered as the magic built around the Sanctum Sanctorum, then flew back into the one grounding for him. She was shivering but she could handle it. He cast the final locking section and everything sank into the walls. Everyone sighed when it set itself properly. He helped his girlfriend up, kissing her gently to seal her part. She had a slight case of orgasm but tried to hide it. He looked around at his group. "So mote it be."

"So mote it be," they repeated back.

"We have three more works to do to protect those of us seeking sanctuary when Thanos gets here. They will be smaller but you are all allowed to shelter here." He bowed to them. "Go with peace, people." They bowed back and the outer rings left first, then the inner ones. He left last, leading his girlfriend to a bathroom she could clean up in. He looked at Dawn, who grinned slightly at him. "You channel very well."

"It woke up. Your stone got chatty." He rolled his eyes. She smiled. "We'll handle it, Stephen. The contents of your closets and your people will be safe." She hugged Giles, getting one back. Then she grinned at him. "We're okay, Giles."

"I know, Dawn. I expected Xander to have shoved you to another realm by now."

"I'll be going before he gets here in six weeks. I've got a part to play and I know that." He smiled and patted her on the shoulder, walking off with her.

Stephen sighed again, looking at the other sorcerers who had helped. "Thank you for your assistance. If you need to hide during the battle, you are allowed here."

Ethan smirked a tiny bit. "Just don't lock me in a closet, Strange." He walked around him. "Or her." The others left, talking about how strong the working had been.

Stephen went to rest for a bit. It had drained him and he was exhausted. His girlfriend was asleep in a guest bed, at her choice, so it was going to be a quiet night at least.

***

Dawn walked back into the Sanctum two days before Thanos was due to appear. She stared at Stephen, who was not happy. She walked forward, taking the amulet off his neck by pulling the chain over his head and put it on herself. "We'll be safe." He nodded once. She stepped back and opened the portal doorway she had created with Xander's help. She walked through into a throne room, the younger sorcerer Stephen had chosen following her. "King Xander, I wish to seek sanctuary for myself and my helper for the course of a battle that will destroy my people," she said quietly and calmly.

King Xander stared at her. "You're not quite our Princess Dawn but you are a Dawn."

She smiled, bowing some. "Dawn Summers. Still like yours only older and deeper into her protection studies. We must have an area we can fully protect. Or else my world fails at the snap of fingers of an immortal pussbag who wants genocide."

"I can grant you that but you will be explaining some things to me, Dawn. Like what you're wearing."

She touched the amulet. "One thing I'm protecting. It's my job in my world to protect artifacts." He nodded, leading them to an unused tower area. It was on the castle's side but no one used it at this time. She and the younger sorcerer warded the whole room and laid in supplies with Xander's help since they wouldn't be able to leave until the circle was broken.

He stopped her to stare at her. "I know of how our Dawn came to be," he said quietly.

"The same way I did," she agreed, smiling and patting him on the cheek. "We have a being named Thanos showing up soon. He desires Stones of Power." He shuddered. "Exactly. We guard them so he cannot touch them."

He kissed her on the forehead. "You have my blessing to draw from the magic of my kingdom and my protections on this castle and lands," he announced, spilling some blood onto the outer marks where it was called for. She bowed and sat down on the lounge chair she had pulled in there. The younger sorcerer was outside the center protections but there were two rings between him and the outside. "If he shows here, we'll give you what cover we can."

"No," Dawn said. "You'll hide. He's an immortal being, Xander. He only desires to see death and I would not see yours. Or your spunky, hidebound mate's." She smiled slightly. "We'll be fine." He nodded and left them to it.

The young one tested the magic and looked at her. "What is that slimy, oily feeling magic?"

"Hellmouth energy." She grinned. "Sunnydale held one. Cleveland holds one now. The slayers protect it and fight what comes out of it."

He blinked a few times. "The hole?"

"Yeah, the hole. It's called a hellmouth. The one locally is slightly twisted thanks to what feels like someone tried to open it. Each hellmouth is different. Willow's merged her magic with the Sunnydale and the Cleveland one. There's another eight and we'll someday need someone who can protect it. You can ask for research on it. Stephen has jack all about it. He actually thought that normal, Wicca witches were slightly evil for learning herbalism. And me for being born at all. Thankfully he and Xander had a talk." She grinned.

"Wow." He settled in to feel the magic around them in case he had to call any up. It wasn't like the magic at home. "What's that twisted or braided feeling?"

"The curse that changed this world."

"Oh. Interesting." He could study that while he was here. It was unusual and not something he'd run into again. The world of magic was wider than anyone thought. Dawn settled in to meditate and talk to the stones while he guarded the room. He had no idea why but he could feel the warmth of her magic and it felt like.... He stood up to stare at her. She shrugged but grinned. "They're kinda split. Which is why they like being together in the glove. Like twins who haven't seen each other recently."

"You hold one."

"No. Not exactly." She smiled. "Way back when, when demons roamed freely and ruled things, they had an artifact. It was a trans-dimensional lock- pick." He shivered. "And it was split from a higher source. As six others were. If I were stronger, I could summon them but what I am made me who I am so it's locked up mostly. I have to do a lot of work to get into any magic at all." He slumped but nodded. "But here, it's a bit easier. I can pull from the magic here. And the hellmouth. If I hadn't been able to come here, I would've set up the protections in the center of the old hellmouth in Sunnydale because it would mask me and protect me."

He swallowed, staring at her. "It likes you?"

"It likes those of us who grew up there. We're like its eggs in a way. It still has a few favorite kids. Xander's one. Willow's kinda one because she's nagging it all the time about opening and spewing." She shrugged but smiled. "Yeah, he knows."

He slumped down into his seat again. "That is very weird."

"Well, it was that or let a hell goddess pull her realm onto our world. Which did you want?"

"Your way is better." She smiled and nodded. "But your sister...."

"Supposed to protect me," she said dryly. "Which is why she's so bossy and hates to see me dating."

He groaned, rubbing his face with his hands. He looked at her. "Can you protect it if they come here?"

"Of course. I can draw on magic here. If I have to, I can lose my physical form. They will not get the stones I hold. Like the glove, they really want to be together to bask in the glow of their twinning."

"And yours...." She grinned at where the three stones were linked on her chest. "Wow. The amulet..." He leaned closer. "That's so weird."

"They think it's cute this one's not allowed to be naked." He grinned and nodded, going back to his sensing lessons. Someday he had to write all this up. But he had to protect Dawn too. So only Stephen or later Sorcerer Supremes would have access to it. It was his first book for the Order and it was such an important one. He pulled out a notebook and a pen to get to work on his notes.

Dawn smiled, fussing at her nails for now. She knew something would try to come. She was ready for it to come for her. Come at me, bro, was an understood phrase here too.

TBC...
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