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Where It All Began.

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Where It All Began.




***
The Past
***


Carlotta Lewis-Stonager, formally just Lewis to keep people out of her business, got woken up in her on-duty apartment. "What?" she complained.

The agent there sighed. "Your daughter did your job for you."

She blinked a few times. "I warned her about that. But a woman's got to sleep sometime. Did she do it right?"

"She totally broke the back of that group and then made fun of them in the press." He let her see the laptop he was carrying. She read over the incidence file. "She's going to have to train or we must find a way to make sure she can't tell others."

"She's fifteen," she said firmly. "None of you can handle a fifteen-year-old girl, much less Darcy. Hell, you can't even put up with her when we were at a picnic and you decided to interrupt, which pissed her off enough for her to do my job the *last* time I had to spend too much time here."

He winced. "That's why most of us don't have kids. Cointreau."

She stared at him. "Well, you got me after I'd already had her so you've got to deal with the fact I've got a daughter. One who believes that the world can be better if you just put your mind and shoulders to it. I did a great job making her not turn into either grandmother's methods of doing that." She stared at him.

"You may go talk to her but Darcy's going to run you over again because you have no idea how to handle any sort of woman. Much less a teenage girl." She slammed the door in his face but did call her daughter. "What. Did. You. Do?" she demanded coolly.

Darcy babbled at her. "Not that and if I find that greasy little mudball on my couch without a reason like he's running away from home I'm going to throw him into the road in front of the school bus. What did you do, Darcy?" Darcy quipped something then hung up but she had heard other voices in the background. So apparently her daughter had friends over.

The agent sighed but sent someone to talk to the young woman. She was too young to conscript or train. She was too smart for her own good. She might fully bust Statesmen open if she wasn't cautious. Darcy really had no idea what she was doing beyond playing around.

He sent the secondary head of tech support, Cola. She could deal with the kid. She was a woman, she remembered being a teenage girl.

***

Darcy turned her desk chair around with a grin, shooting the person with a dart she had made in chemistry class. "Hey, Mom's boss!" She smirked and waved as the woman went down. "Yeah, let me handle that problem for Stella too. Bigots begone." She went back to hacking that bigoted asshole banker who was trying to claim Stella's family home.

He had no right to it, it wasn't in his job description but he hated that Stella's parents were in a mixed relationship. She hated to see Stella cry so Darcy was being a source of justice. The bank got to find out all that the bigot had done. Then the newspaper got to find out what the bigot had done. They were used to suddenly appearing emailed in news stories. This wasn't the first time Darcy had to find some justice to hand over.

Cola got up, dusting herself off. "Good thing I wore my vest."

Darcy smirked back at her. "It still got on you. That dart leaks like hell." She went back to it then finished with a flourish, smiling and waving at her computer. "You need to quit being a bigot! Have a great day!" She turned off the machine, turning to look at Cola again. "My friend Stella's got a huge problem. A bigot is against her parents being mixed so is trying to illegally confiscate their house."

She nodded. "That's a good thing to help but our duties, Darcy?"

Darcy grinned. "Mom was clearly out of it. You guys stole her again for six weeks." Cola winced at that reminder. "I had to get her free because a teacher *really* wanted to talk to her about my attitude against the idiot teenage boys. I had to tell them she was at a work conference, which nearly got us hit by social workers."

She smiled. "Thankfully I called Dr. Pepper and he sent a juvie agent over to pretend to be a boyfriend when they showed up. I left mom an email and didn't get an answer. If you don't want that to keep happening, don't keep mom that way."

"You're not supposed to know any of that."

"Yeah, I remember you guys trying to shut me up before, and how is their bank account doing anyway?" She smiled.

"We all thought that was mean of you, kid."

"I am a mean kid when I need to be. Mom taught me well about when I was supposed to be a mean kid." She stared at her. "But the social worker's coming back tomorrow if that's not her parking behind you." She looked then groaned. "That is her and an officer."

Cola called in, getting her minion sent home. She went to handle the problem herself. It was a point that had to be handled. "Hi!" She smiled. "I'm Darcy's mother's boss. She's on her way back from the airport. She should be here in about a two hours at the most. I came to check on Darcy again, been doing it about once a week."

"So her mother didn't abandon her?" the officer asked.

Darcy leaned around Cola's arm with a grin and a wave. "Did you see yet that the bigoted asshole brother of yours is illegally trying to create hell for people who married outside their races?" She smiled.

The officer stared at her. "What?" he demanded. She nodded. "Prove it!"

She left and came back with a few pages she had printed. She handed it over. "One of my crew can hack. Found it in the bank records trying to help another one of us. I've been alerting people. I thought you might want to handle the disgrace to your bloodline yourself."

"You're mouthy," he warned.

"But I'm also correct." She smiled at him. "And being a teenage girl means that yes, I'm mouthy and I have a sense of fixing injustices. That's what teenage girls do outside cooing at animals." She shrugged. "Some of us aren't fashion clones or interested in being sporty. Gotta do something else instead. Fixing injustices is third on the teenage girl list."

He glared at her. "I can confiscate that."

"That's fine. We've already told the newspaper." He groaned. She beamed at the social worker. "I told mom and she swore about you. Great job!" She gave her two thumbs up. "I didn't even ever earn that fit."

"Well, you are home alone as this proves," she said dryly.

Darcy looked at her. "I'm a senior in high school, having skipped a grade. I'm also slightly emancipated. You probably have a *ton* of other kids that legitimately need your help. I'm not one. My momma raised me to stand up for msyelf and to be able to handle myself. The only time I had to call for help there was a mouse between me and a cleaver so I could kill it. Then the neighbor nicely came over to shoot it."

"What if there's an emergency?" she asked.

"I can call 911 the bestest ever," Darcy said dryly. "I have in the past to stop an idiot being beaten to death by a few officers because he had been drunk." She looked at the officer, then at her again. "And on a few others that were breaking the law as they did their duties." He laughed. She looked at him again. "Hiring the underage hookers outta the high school means they're breaking the law. Is that who you really want to be your brother in blue?" He glared again. She stared back. "I mean, seriously?"

"You're mouthy, child," the social worker warned.

"Yes, but I'm still correct. That's why I turned that one in to the state police. Because she's really young and her mom's pimping her out and you haven't done a damn thing to help her yet." She stared at the social worker. "Instead you chose to come annoy me." She smiled. "Want her address?"

"Yes! Immediately." Darcy went to get the yearbook to show her who it was and then her address because she lived not that far away. She took the notes she'd need to start an investigation. "Most of us are just doing our jobs." She handed back the yearbook. "We can only do so much."

"We know the governor thinks you're immortal and superhuman with the way he slashed your budget and makes you handle way too many people, ma'am. Which is why I'm letting you go handle them instead of me. Who doesn't need the help. I'm okay. I'm really okay.

"I haven't even skipped more than one day of school and that day I was exhausted after talking to a girlfriend about her breakup. Though she went back to him." She sighed. "And he's still a dick and they broke up two more times but this time I think for good because his father stepped in to whip his ass for being a dick to her."

The social worker nodded. "Yes but reports were made by a mandatory reporter so we have to follow up."

"Well, I'm still alive and okay," she said happily. "I've been alive and okay. I haven't been assaulted, attacked, or broken in on more than once. And that point I had a bat. The guy from the mechanic up the street got to go to the ER. The officers nicely came to get him for me."

She smiled at the officer then at the social worker. "I'm more than old enough and smart assed enough to handle myself for a few days. Frankly that teacher hated me because I pointed out she had a lot of wrong in her theories. Which they are. Including that Native Americans participated in their own genocide. Bigots shouldn't be teaching us those ideas."

"No, she shouldn't," the social worker said with a nod. "Why hasn't anyone turned in this young girl?"

"The principal, care?" she snorted. "He only cares if we look trashy some day so he can embarrass us. He tried to pick on me about my boobs and I totally nagged him back for staring at my then fourteen-year-old chest." She shrugged but smiled.

"Some of the teachers do care but most of them handle the upper aged kids not the ninth graders. She's about to be held back in the ninth grade. The VP might care but he never pays attention to any student that's not in a sport. Football, yay," she said in a deadpan, cracking Cola up.

"I'll be looking into her situation later," she said. Another car pulled in. "Yours, dear?"

Darcy looked. "No. Not mine that I know of." Someone got out of the car. "Hi, Mom's coworker."

"Darcy. Did you do something with the bank?"

"I told them about the bigot who's foreclosing on houses for no reason other than they're in mixed relationships. But I don't hack banks."

He grimaced. "Someone got into our accounts."

"Look at that guy in England that did it last time?" she guessed with a head shake, looking at Cola.

"I doubt it was him but maybe," she admitted. She walked over to hear what had went on and sighed, going to use Darcy's system to fix that. She knew who that hacker was and they were being recruited that night by force. She came out. "I fixed it," she quipped. "He's waiting to be hired tonight."

"Great," the agent agreed happily. "Let me go introduce him to the training camp." He left to do that.

Darcy shrugged at the social worker's look. "Mom's got a side-job. He's part of that."

"Oh. Like a tech startup thing?"

"Yeah," Cola said with a nod. "I'm from there too. Her main job, I'm not too sure about. She hardly talks about it."

"Well, being a lawyer is dull," Darcy quipped.

"True." She patted the girl on the back. "Her mother's not pleased that Darcy found injustices, I heard her ranting when I left to come check on her."

The social worker sighed. "I'll be back tomorrow."

"Okay. Have a good trip," she said with a smile and a nod, shaking her hand. "Help that poor kiddo. Maybe she has nice relatives."

"I hope so." She went to check on that child through the school. The officer huffed off as well. It was weird but a single mother working happened at times.

Darcy looked at her. "Even if you ended my backdoor I have another." She walked off. "Want some soda?"

"No thank you, Darcy. Let's talk though. Shall we?" She sat her down to nag her about getting into Statesmen business and how she wasn't able to be doing that. It put her in danger. Darcy got up to get something and came back to hand it over then went back to drinking her coke. Cola looked that over and moaned. "Who in the hell is that?"

"The new science teacher." She grinned. "He's a dweeb too. Total bowtie committee member and a psychotic dweeb. Part of a neat group too who wants to take over humanity. It's like looking at Grandma only her being evil." She finished her glass and put it down properly on a coaster.

Cola went to look that guy up and came back. "Not our job but I can make sure someone stares over his shoulder."

"That'd be great. We're pretty sure he's got drugs on campus. He helped a kid who was OD'ing by giving them a counter drug." She stared at her, wincing when her mother's car door slammed. "Mom's home."

"Good! You could use her more often."

"Then hire more like Mom," she shot back as her mother stomped in. "Before I have to handle it all myself. Mom." Cola handed over the papers.

Carlotta looked at it and winced. "Who's this?"

"The new science dweeb?" She shrugged. "Stella's fam got the bigot treatment for being mixed but married. Two other things that're huge. But I told the officer that came with the social worker about his own shit since he's the bigot's brother-in-law."

Her mother huffed, sitting down. "Really?"

"I sent you an email, Mom."

"I did not see that."

"I sent you one a day," she said bluntly. "To check in and tell you this stuff." She stared at her. "You're the one who raised me to be this way so I am, and I'm stupidly proud of it."

"You're fifteen," Cola reminded her.

"I know that! She got to miss my last three birthdays thanks to your idiots being stupid!" She smirked at her. "She'd better not have to do it on the next one or I'll become the evil you have to fight."

"You're nearly there now," Cola offered.

Darcy smiled. "You say the sweetest things. Let me handle that then." She got up and strolled off. Cola caught her but oh well. She'd just do it later. They settled her on the couch to nag her about reality again. Darcy knew she was right to handle things. She may be fifteen but she knew right from wrong. And a whole lotta wrongs had to be fought off or fixed. Including the head of the tech department being a dirtbag. Which she didn't point out yet.

"I say we put her in training," Cola decided, looking at the mother.

"I don't think we have much of a choice outside shooting her," she complained. "And I'm not having another kid."

Darcy stuck her tongue out at her. "Watch me tell Grandma." She looked at Cola. "Already doing it at home, dear. You're way behind the times." Cola looked flabbergasted. "I mean, seriously? I may have an anxiety issue and a bit of paranoia thanks to Mom and the Grandmothers of Doom, but I'm a realistic bitch. I've been training since I found out when I was ten."

Cola moaned. "And didn't let Mom know for years that I knew. Grandma Stonager tried to break it to me and I had to let her know I already knew. I'm not a theater kid. The only drama I have is teenage girl drama and the occasional boy one because teenage boys are gross. I know Mom thinks that's worrying about me being a lesbian, but I'm probably not. I just don't want grubby teenage boys on me."

Cola stared at her. "How have you been training?"

Darcy grinned, getting her schedule to show her. "Mom sent me to self defense. I'm in the highest class with two of your other junior agents because they're kids like I am." Cola sighed at that. "I'm also the better hacker between me and Mom. The other two are guys and action guys. I'm a thinker. A planner. A discoverer." She stared at her. "Corporate crimes sort of things I excel at. People things I excel at. Guns.... I can but I don't do great with it."

"I can see that." She looked at the verifiable points she could check on, taking that into the kitchen to call in to see if the kid wasn't bragging. She came out after slamming a door in anger. She looked at her. "Dr. Pepper set you up to follow us as a pre-agent?"

"It's better than the one who wasn't going to pass who went to visit an aunt in Ohio she didn't have." She shrugged. "There used to be four of us, Cola."

"Fuck!" her mother complained loudly. She looked at her daughter. "Why wasn't I told?"

"You haven't been home," she said bluntly, staring at her. "How would I have done that?" Her mother whined, sitting down. "I did happen to run into that one's uncle and asked how his niece was doing in Ohio. He looked very confused."

"I'll talk to Tequila," Cola said quietly. "We'll figure that out. You could've told me."

"And yet, your emails are all hacked and not by me." Darcy waved both hands in the air. "That would've exposed me." Both older women stared at her. She stared back. "I did get taught to be self protective even before Mom had to teach me that. Dad taught me that."

They groaned and went to investigate that through Darcy's system. Her mother was nearly crying at what she found on it but Darcy was doing things for the side of good. She had just found some wrong things that needed to be handled by full adults.

Darcy came in to grab a jacket. "Stella just called. I gotta go help her. The bigot showed up with an officer." She strolled off, going to find her buddy and help her. She walked around the officers screaming. "Hey!" They stared at her. "Yeah, some of our crew hacks, people. We know damn well their mortgage is paid on time.

"We looked into it when Stella got *so* confused about why they were threatening her for existing. She got death threats and where were you donut eating creeps this time?" She stared at one. "We showed them to you. You grinned. Which, by the way, I called the State on you for doing. Bigot!"

He took a swing at her so she ducked and tripped him. "Really dumb bigot too, huh?" She walked over him, going to look at Stella's mother. "Did Stella not tell you she got death threats sent by that guy?" she said with a point. "On bank stationary. Signed his own name!" The other officer grimaced. Stella got the file to show them. "We tried to go through it officially. You guys failed! Like totally got held back failed!" She stared at one.

"By the way, the girl you were flirting with was sixteen and not high. She was drunk but that was her boyfriend's fault, he snuck it into her soda. We had to get her home. Thanks for taking her home for us." She gave him a pointed look, making him wince. "You make a teenager fight for humanity and we do it with the biggest show we can, dudes! We're teenage girls! We're all about drama!" They groaned. "Including the newspaper!" She smiled.

Stella's mother looked the letters over then nodded. "I wanted to know this, girls."

"I told Dad," Stella told her mother. "He said sometimes people were unreasonable about mixed kids."

"That's not unreasonable. Did he see them?" she asked.

"I had only gotten verbal threats and taunts like I do at school," Stella said. "It got worse after that. I tried to do what Dad would, Mom. When I couldn't, and Dad wouldn't, I went to the besties." She gave Darcy a side hug. Darcy hugged her back properly.

Stella's mother nodded. "Thank you, Darcy. That's good you could help my kids." She kissed her on the cheek. "You mom?"

"Just now back from her work conference." She shrugged. "Bitching up a storm."

"I heard about the social worker call." She stared at her.

"I called BS on a teacher who was saying the Native Americans participated in their own genocide."

"Oh. That reason. That's a good reason to call BS. I would've too." She looked at the officers, seeing one wincing. "So, I noticed your family name as well?"

"Like the one at my house, he's related to the guy," Darcy said with a hand wave. "He wasn't impressed with his brother-in-law."

"Neither am I," that one agreed, coming over to see those letters. "We saw that?"

"The first six," Stella said. "That one was vile."

He got to that one, reading it with a grimace. "Yes that is. We should've done something then." He looked at Darcy, who beamed at him. "At least you're playing innocent."

"I'm not a theater kid. I can't act at all. Tried, failed miserably."

The officer sighed, calling his boss to come there. The bank people saw it and got arrested for their plots. The higher ups in the city and department showed up to protest so he let them see and they all agreed it was disgusting and needed to be fixed.

"Dude, make a teenage girl handle it and we will!" Darcy said with a smile and a wave. "Including in the news! We would've held a parade but only three of us can drive legally." Stella's mother laughed at that idea.

The mayor came over to smooth things over. He didn't manage it and just pissed everyone off so he got to leave and ignore this whole thing until someone asked him about it. The police chief got to 'implement new training modules' to cure that problem. Meaning he chewed them a new one about getting caught. It was Virginia, they had people like that. Always had.

The ones not like that in the department vowed to fix that problem if they could. The bank got totally embarrassed and closed that branch, then sold off the bank to a national chain later that month to avoid the bad press and lowering stock prices. So it'd work out. For now.

Darcy, well, she had to go finish facing the music.

***

Cointreau looked at her coworkers now that the venom had been taken out. Mostly by his own hand after they had discovered his doings. He had destroyed a few good agents doing it and a few who weren't. They had to reformat the tech department immediately. Which meant Cointreau could be in command but didn't want it. "I do have to be home now and then. I do have a teenage daughter," she reminded Ginger Ale, the guy in charge. Who she was sure was a bit dirty but wasn't sure why or how. She'd ask Darcy later if she had seen anything.

"Your daughter's a pre-agent in training," he assured her smugly.

She shot at his hat, making him yelp and duck. "She's sixteen. Keep it in your pants."

"Sorry!" He grinned at her. "We can bring her here so she can home school and study while learning."

"No, she's doing just fine in her school," she ordered. "She needs the normal things, not all this. Before she turns into my mother. Or her father's mother." A few grinned at that idea. "She will rule the world if you make her," she reminded them. "Remember how she got a bank and a whole city's police department shut down?" They all nodded they remembered.

"Beyond that, she's not an action star. She can't run," she told Ginger Ale. "She's weak on that thanks to her ankles." He pouted. "She's good at investigating and doing hacking things. Some day she'll be my coworker in tech support. Or like that one area that came open, special investigations."

"Special crimes," he corrected. "I can see her doing that someday."

"But that day isn't for at least two years," she ordered. "She can train formally next year if she wants but not until after she graduates." She stared at one guy, who grinned at her again. "You were getting chummy?"

"One of her fellow students is the daughter of a money source."

She waved a hand. "Did Darcy help you find that?"

"Told me that. I'm going to be her prom date so I can watch over that kid while we bust the father, make sure nothing comes back on her since it looks like he kept the family out of everything."

"That'll look weird but I guess. You look like you're college aged at least."

"Good. Thanks. I'll make sure she has a gown."

Cointreau sipped her coffee, staring at him. "Oh, you poor man. Darcy doesn't shop. Most things off the rack don't fit her well. She's got a short torso, big boobs, and she's proportionally more leg than chest." He winced. "Nothing off the rack fits her. Including most bras. I have to order from a special place in New York that does stripper gear for her."

"I'll keep that in mind. Is there a seamstress you guys use for fittings?"

"She'll grow into her legs," she offered. "And her mouth, but not really. She doesn't mind if things are a bit big here and there. It draws attention from her chest." That got a nod. "But I want my daughter to please look classy. Her senior picture she looked like a goofy goth teen."

"I'll do what I can. If I have to I can ask the new guy in Special Crimes, Campari. He's got a good eye. Comes from Long Island society stuff."

"Have fun with that. Darcy *hates* shopping."

"I can see why." He made himself notes to look up a seamstress. Not for a designer gown but to fit whatever they find to fit her. And to ask Campari for an idea of what to wear. Prom gear tended to be very glittery with sequins this year from what he'd seen in magazines.

Cointreau looked at her new boss, Milk, who grinned back. "She'll keep doing it if you keep me here all the time."

"I know. We'll figure it out. Does she have college plans?"

"She hacked herself an admittance after I crashed the car taking her to her SAT's." They all smiled at that. "She didn't have to but she didn't want to spend the money and do all the paperwork." They nodded at that. They'd help her handle her precious offspring.

***

Xander Harris, usually a nice enough late teenager, looked up as someone walked into the police station's interview room he was stashed in while the locals went over the problem he had turned in for them to handle. He hadn't wanted to handle it the serial killer. Nor had he wanted to be his victim, so let the cops who supposedly weren't as bad as his at home were handle it. "Yes?" he asked patiently. He put down the pen he was doodling on the margins of his statement with. "New questions?"

"No, Mr. Harris. I'm FBI."

He smirked a bit and waved. "I'm from Sunnydale but I'm on a post-grad roadtrip."

"That's interesting. So why are you in a kitchen scrubbing the remains from a strip club's bar food?"

"The car lit itself on fire on the east edge of town." He pointed. "By the gas-n-go and that little burger place. Thankfully I didn't have much in it I couldn't get out of it but the fire department was very amused at having something to do that day." He stared at him. "That was about the only open job in the area I was qualified for, that or fast food and that'd pay worse."

"I see." He nodded. "So this client of yours?"

"Not a chance, dude. I've filled in *once* and I froze up while the first song came on. The serial killer guy nicely got up to help me take off my shirt." He stared at him. "And I've never had gay sex, and I don't think I want to try. So when he drugged me, it didn't work real well. I found out, fought him off, then came to turn him in." He waved a hand around. "I'm assured the Oxnard officers are a lot better than the idiots in Sunnydale."

"Anything would be better than your town's officers by the rumors," he admitted. He stared at him then nodded once. "Did you loot anything from his house?"

"No. The thought hadn't even occurred to me. Usually I'm not a thief. I'll pickpocket the ones who try to fight me, but I don't generally steal things." He stared at him. "Just because my parents are trash doesn't mean *I* am."

"That's interesting. You could be doing more like college."

"My SAT was good enough but I hate classes. I learn best by doing."

"Hmm. Are you hoping to be able to move out of town again later?"

"No, after my roadtrip I'm going back home. I have things there I have to help handle." He shifted to lean back. "And if you're hinting that someone wants to hire me to do something, the answer's no. The same as it was when a poker buddy tried to hire me to take out his ex girlfriend," he said dryly. "Not my field of expertise."

"Was she...."

He held up a hand. "If you're talking about the other community members in Sunnydale, look my name up through them." He stared at him. "If not," he said with a smile. "Then no, and I'm not looking forward to that sort of employment. It seems like a lot of work for very little benefit."

"It can be. Let me see what that guy has been doing." He left to do that and call someone to look the cocky kid up. The file on him was basically his social services file. And some hidden news articles they couldn't get to because they weren't online. That whole town was behind on putting things online.

He went to 'help' the locals, who said that something was a bit weirder than normal. The guy had lists of people to handle as it was titled. The kid wasn't on it but it wasn't the first time someone darker had drooled about the kid that they'd seen. He looked that list over, sending it back to his call-in so they could look them up to see if this serial killer had been involved in something bigger.

Which meant a higher up saw it and called someone on said list to handle it themselves so his agents were free to handle other crimes.

***

Xander looked over from kicking someone around for being a dick in the bar, letting them fall then walking over them at the guy smirking at him. "So, let's see. You must be the twink determiner? Because I'm not for sale." He looked him over. "You look like a cheesy actor sort and I'm not into gay guys." He shrugged, going back inside to wash his hands and rescue the food in the fryer for the free snack bar that mostly fed the girls so they didn't get too drunk too fast.

The agent called that in. The kid was cocky, had little style in a fight, but had managed it. Somehow. The one he had beaten was getting up slowly and groaning as he walked off holding his chest. This new agent realized the guy had a piece of wood stuck in his lower chest and that was a nasty wound, but it hadn't killed him. Interesting.

He got the go ahead to see if the kid was recruitable. He went inside to see what the kid was doing. He was in the kitchen arguing with the bouncer, who was pouting that Xander had gotten the guy instead while he was in the bathroom.

Xander shot back the guy had tried to steal someone and the bouncer had been in the back so someone had to. The manager stepped in to remind Xander he wasn't a bouncer but it had been nice of him to protect Stevie. The talk broke up and the kid went back to the dishes, fryer, and ignoring the guys who wanted to hit on him.

Very interesting indeed.

***

Xander looked at the new agent there to bother him. "So, a twink sensor," he said dryly. Then smirked at the other one. "I guess that makes you the twin supervisor? Or are you just the manager?" The agent smirked at that. "Not into guys. Sorry."

"Not here for that, Harris, though I doubt that," the senior agent said dryly. "We wanted to talk to you about your future."

He pointed. "Sunnydale again eventually. Gotta go home to handle things eventually."

"No one knows a thing about your town."

"That's because you're looking in the wrong places, dudes." He sighed as fighting and screaming started. "Let me handle that." He went in there, grabbing a bag as he walked through the kitchen. The two vampires were trying to attack the strippers so he got one with his crossbow then staked the other when it turned. "Hey! It's like old home night," he told the staring vampire, he was in vamp face. "How's my town?"

"You're that sidekick guy," he said then burst out laughing.

"Ya think? That made me stronger, dude. I had to put up with the girls for years." He staked him and sighed, looking around. "Okay, let's get people treated," he ordered. "They've got blood loss!" The bouncer that had been knocked out stumbled to his feet to come help.

Xander helped by bandaging the smaller injuries. He stopped someone from stealing from the bar with a glare but they went back to their seat for now. Xander glanced up at the agents then sighed mentally. He'd have to do something about that. Quickly.

"Harris, why did you have a crossbow?" the manager complained as he stomped back into the club.

"It was in the car!" He shrugged. "It's not like I can't use it! As I proved." He waved a hand around. "Peter's got some bigger blood loss. Not above whatever the Red Cross takes I don't think but I can't be sure."

"We can get an ambulance. Oxnard has a good hospital," the manager assured him, calling that in. He came back to pull Xander up to stare at him. "Are you Rambo?"

"I should make a joke about speaking better and not having a bandana," he said dryly, staring at him. "I was there, I helped! Don't bitch at me. You're sounding like the girls I know who think I'm normal!"

The manager blinked a few times. "I heard about your friends. They're bitches, you're not normal, and you proved it tonight, but still, not your job."

"I was knocked out, boss," Bruce the bouncer complained.

"I was outside taking out trash," Xander admitted. "Then I heard screaming." He shrugged. "It worked!" He walked off. "Let me go wash my hands and put up my bag. Before someone gets an idea."

"Thanks, kid," the manager said, looking at his bouncer, who nodded. "Okay. We'll figure this out. We'll make Xander get unpissed. I'll find a way to make sure those things can't come back in." He looked at the dust then towards the back then at the bouncer.

"Gotta be some way," he agreed.

"There is but it's a general uninvite," Xander called. "It'd be canceled by the welcome signs."

"Maybe not then," Bruce decided. Paramedics came in. "He got bitten on the throat. Lost some blood. Our kitchen guy helped bandage him, said he's lost a bit too much blood."

"That's fine," one of them agreed, looking around. "In here?"

"The guys who did it fled," he lied.

"Sure, I get that." One went to vamp face.

Xander leaned out, staring at him. "Hi!" He grinned and waved. "Should I come back out there?"

"No, Harris. You good?"

"I had the crossbow from the car to restring tonight on my break." He went back to his dishes and shutting the fryer down. The club was probably going to close early tonight.

"Yeah, that figures," the other one agreed with a nod. They got the bite victims taken to the ER and it was good. They could say the guys fled, they just fled to the Great Beyond.

The manager looked at the strippers, who were sharing some looks. "We're closing tonight," he said. "Be back tomorrow, people." They nodded, going to head home. He went to talk to Xander but the guys outside were trying to take his attention. "People." He stared at them. "Are you agents?"

"We wanted him to train with some," one said with a grin.

"How boring," Xander said dryly, going back inside. "I already shut down the fryer, boss. I thought we'd close early."

"We are. Go back to the motel. Don't take them in as tricks."

"Eww!" He stared at him. "I know I need a new car but I don't do guys."

The boss stared at him. "You should try it just to make sure. Just don't get paid for it. Go clubbing later. Draw the evil there, Harris."

"Yes, sir," he sighed. "I can go club though. It's been a while." He finished cleaning up and went back to the motel up the road where he had a room. He hid his crossbow before changing into clubbing stuff and heading out to club. The girls still didn't pay attention to him but the vamp baiting was good for him to destress with.

The agents had followed him subtly. They wanted to see if he realized and he probably had by how he glanced at them when he took a vampire out back and staked it then went back inside to get a drink and go back onto the floor. Yeah, he'd do good with training. It could help what few skills he already had. Because the boy had no rhythm.

***
More Modern Times
***

Tony DiNozzo, who was a very patient man usually, was trying not to roll his eyes at the antics of his 'partner', the agent he worked overtop of fairly often. "Why are you fussing?" he asked. "I know your bag got lost by the flight." He sighed. "We can pick you up something nice enough for tonight."

Darcy stared at him. "Didn't you tell me that the clothes made the op?"

"Well, yes," he agreed, nodding. "But we're going to a bar tonight to meet a contact. Tomorrow night is formal."

"And this body does not fit off the rack," she said, waving a hand at her chest. "Not a bit, I haven't since I was fourteen."

He considered that. "Oh, that problem." He nodded. "I hadn't thought of that. We can hit a higher end department store?"

Darcy stared at him. "And lingerie store because my boobs are outside fashionable sizes." She sighed when someone knocked. "Please let that be from the airline!" she said, going to answer the door. "CC?"

"You're on my present duty," he quipped, walking in. He looked her over once Tony had the file he had.

"This isn't ours," Tony said, handing it back.

Xander grinned. "Yes it is, it's his boyfriend."

"Are we certain? You said that before and he was bi. It took him two weeks to twig to you." Xander showed him pictures with a smug look. "Oh, he is."

"We're not the only ones here either. I've seen six other more official agents." He showed him pictures. "And one I can't get a picture of." He looked Darcy over. "That looks tight."

"It is tight. It shrank in the wash. That's why I wore it on the plane. Then they lost my bag."

Xander grimaced. "I hate when they do that. They tried mine but I have jewelry in mine so called someone about the theft." He grinned. "They gave up and found it almost immediately. Ten grand in jewelry means that they're liable for it." She shivered. "My last one gave it to me." He shrugged. "He thought I was a girlfriend so you can borrow it. No one up here should recognize it. It's pretty generic."

"Please. There's a gala event tomorrow night."

"That's a whole day affair. You can't just show up at night, they won't let you. You have to be there for the tea and the picnic. The invitation was specific. But I'm going as well." She winced. "My problem will be two former contacts there, but neither for a job. To be honest, they got me stuff in Sunnydale."

Tony rubbed his forehead, looking at the invitation. "It does say all day." He sighed. "Okay, so we need to outfit Darcy. We need to make sure you have a proper suit."

"Ginger Ale made me get one," Xander complained. "It's in my bag. I have stuff for the daytime."

"Okay. We can make sure in a few. Are you here?"

"Smaller hotel that's kind of connected. Not demon connected." Tony stared at him. He grinned. "The last one booked me into it. And it is cheaper. Not many amenities but super quiet and nice."

Tony just nodded. "Okay. Let's get Darcy outfitted. Somehow." He called that in so he could get funds authorized. Which they didn't want to do. Noting her bag had been eaten by the airline was laughed at. "Great. They ...."

Xander waved a hand. "C'mon, future countess."

"You're a what?" Tony asked her.

"Both grandmas are." She grinned. "I don't live like they'd want, though both were minorly annoying semi-rebels." She put on her shoes and took Xander's arm to go with her. Xander stopped at a bank to get money out then walked off with Darcy. He called someone.

"I have a girlfriend who had her bag eaten by the airline and she's going to the same event. Yes, that one I'm walking with, Peter. Where am I taking her?" He listened. "Where's that? I don't know Marseille very well." He nodded, getting them a cab and giving them the address. It took them to a quiet little shop.

He got out, handing her out and letting Tony get himself. He walked her inside. "A friend of mine told me to bring my *friend* here because the airline ate her bag and she's got to go to the event tomorrow." He put his invitation down on the counter.

The sales clerk looked at her then nodded once. "We don't have much made already. We tend to specially make for those of good breeding."

"I'm Darcy Lewis-Stonager," she said with a smile, holding out a hand. "Granddaughter of two countesses."

"Oh!" She nodded. "Understood. Are you hoping to find a spouse?" she asked, coming around the counter to measure her.

"Not particularly. If one falls into my lap...." She smiled. "I'll be thrilled but shocked. I'm about to go to college in another few months. This is my last formal event for a while."

"That's reasonable." She went into the back and came out with something. "We can adjust it for you. It will be extra," she told her.

Darcy smiled at Xander, who shrugged, handing over the cash pile. "She needs outfitted completely for tomorrow. Then we'll go find a better bra. Stupid airlines."

She sighed. "I wore stuff to be comfortable on the plane. Lufthansa lost my luggage."

"That can happen." She got her into the first daytime outfit, having to take out a few places, adjust the waist, and then lengthen the skirt. "Are you usually conservative?"

"Usually a bit. I don't want someone to imagine their head going into my cleavage but I don't mind if it's *there*. I just don't want to look trashy or like a porn star. Or like some of those actresses you see at awards shows." She grimaced. "I wear panties, unlike some of them."

She smiled. "I can understand that. Your grandmothers would be horrified."

"Considering one's trying to retrain humanity to be peaceful? Maybe." The fitter laughed but they managed it, letting Tony and Xander see, getting a nod from Tony for that look. The other daytime look got adjusted and he approved. The gown, the first one Tony grimaced at.

"That's way too tight, too showy, and she looks like she's advertizing," Tony complained.

Xander nodded. "Bit low cut, have to agree. Also, wrong color. My tux is basic black with gray plaid on the vest. And I need to shine my shoes before Tony swats me again."

Tony smirked at him and nodded. "Yes, shiny shoes are important. Or else you make a bad impression."

Xander looked at him. "There's not anyone there I have to impress. They can see that I'm not like them but can play in their leagues. Frankly, half of them think I'm looking to sugar baby and I'm not." He looked at Darcy again. "Deep blue maybe? Maybe a color?"

The fitter sighed, taking her back to look at what they had. They had one, but it was mid-construction. There was no way it'd get finished in time. One wasn't a good color on her. The other was green, fitted, too fitted. It could be let out with some lace. She got Darcy into it, barely. Pinning in lace and fixing that problematic bodice mistake in the making. It was a shame, every year the women they deemed below them disappeared from that event.

***

Xander handed over the jewelry from his bag, making Darcy stare at it then at him. "Last date." He shrugged. "They thought I needed to be a sugar baby." He went to shine his shoes and make sure everything was pressed properly. Darcy's outfits would be ready in the morning. Tony's suit was in his bag. Xander had already told their oversight they owed him money for helping Darcy. They had complained but he'd press the issue later.

They went over their objectives and who they were each there to handle. And the problems he had spotted. Xander was going to handle that little death problem they had as well if he could. Darcy had to get an arms dealer who was a pain in Xander's hair anyway. Tony was watching over them.

Not their first time working together as a team. Though Tony did have a 'dad' sigh down pat about them teasing each other.

***

Xander walked up to someone at the noon picnic. "Baron, can I sit with you?" he asked politely. "Not to flirt though."

The man stared at him. "Why? You have a charming companion."

"Darcy's a friend, not a girlfriend. We'd totally drive each other nuts. And if I sit with you my two ex's who weren't supposed to be here won't start shit." The baron laughed at that. "Seriously!" He sat down at that table and waved a hand behind him. "Bradley and Compte." Then he let out a deep sigh. "Bad ex's of little choice. They were helpful, but ..." He waved a hand in the air. "It was helpful but they suck in bed."

The baron looked then at him. "Do you usually date such people?"

Xander shrugged. "For some reason I draw people like them. I can only date those who're attracted to me and none of them have ever been nice." He grinned at the man coming over. "Isn't that right? None of you who were attracted to me have ever been nice."

This new ex-lover nodded. "True, but it does let us know that they're our sort if they're attracted to you properly, Xander." He kissed him then smiled. "Helena's here too."

Xander sighed again. "Great. Now there's four of you here." He stared at him. "One more and I'm going to flee and let you guys talk about me behind my back."

He took another kiss with a smile. "I saw the other two weaklings. We can talk to them later about how to properly treat one such as you, Xander."

"Bradley gave me diamonds. I have a friend wearing them for me as I can't wear a girlish necklace."

The new ex sighed at that. "I really need to talk to that idiot about you not being a sugar baby." He walked off. "Be a good boy for the baron. He's your sort but not dangerous enough."

Xander looked at him. "I was trying to avoid that and if Helena's here, I might hide behind you if I could?" he asked quietly, then sipped his tea. "I did not expect this. I don't want to be their entertainment tonight."

The baron sipped his tea, staring at him. "Are you their...temporary fun?"

Xander stared at him. "Baron, let's be honest. You probably have a file on me somewhere because there's a secret society in England that wants to kill me for what I do in my off-hours to help save humanity. They're all people who've helped with that in the past." He smiled at the spluttering. "But I'm not their sugar baby if that's what you're asking. I'd like something permanent but I keep getting temporary fun who underestimate me. It's worse than my friends considering me *normal*."

"Which group?" he asked pleasantly with a smile. Xander pulled out his wallet to show his license, making the Baron look him up. Then groan. "Oh, those morons."

"Yes, those morons." He grinned. "I stepped in and they hate it. A lot. Is my price higher than the seventy-grand it was before we stopped a huge battle for our graduation?"

"Half a million," he said, putting his phone back. He stared at the others noted then him. "I can see how they would be helpful."

Xander nodded. "I took some training from them as well. It was so sweet of Compte to teach me how to make the grenades I need all too often." He sipped his tea again, smiling at the woman strolling over. "Helena." He got up to hug her, getting patted on the cheek with a smile. "I did not expect to see any of you here and if there's one more of you I'm going to run and hide."

She looked around then at him. "I only see three others." He nodded. "You'll be fine. Who is the girl you were with?"

"Darcy. She's a great friend." He grinned. "I like to spoil her. She's a future countess but not into me that way."

"Pity. You'd make a cute couple." She stared at him then nodded. "Calm down. Quit sweating. You're a good boy for us. We won't make a scene. We know how to act in public."

"I had to stop Pietre from stabbing a waiter last night." Then he sighed and sat down.

She looked at him. "That's a shame his manners fell down so far." She grimaced. "I need to remind him our masters taught him manners." She looked at his tablemate then smiled at him. "Baron, pleasure to meet you." She shook his hand. "Do try to keep Xander from being bouncy. He gets worried and therefore bouncy and then someone will pounce him for it." She strolled off to talk to the others she knew.

"You do bring some excitement," the baron told him.

Xander looked at him. "I can hide behind you, right? Because I just saw Joanna and she's a rabid little bitch."

"Yes, you can pretend to be with me today," he said smugly.

"Thank you." The other came in and complained loudly. "Hers got lost so I'm lending her mine," he complained back when she complained at him about Darcy wearing the jewelry. "Lufthansa totally lost her luggage and her family tiara. Of course I let my friend wear something I can't wear myself. Did you want me to bring it home to let Buffy wear it?"

"Well, no. She is adorable."

"Darcy's a good friend, Joanna," he said firmly. "But not my type. She's a humanities studying sort and I find her a great person to talk to when I'm tired of people." He gave her a pointed look. "You go near Darcy and I'm going to have to react."

"What are you going to do?" she cooed, pinching him cheek. He grabbed her hand and squeezed, making her moan. "Oh! You want to play."

"No, I don't play." He stared at her. "I have a sword on me. Make me prove it." She backed off shuddering. So he smiled again. "Leave my friends alone. Thank you! And have a great night tonight. I'm sure you'll have something pretty to wear to the ball."

"I hope so." She walked off pouting. Helena had seen it and got her taken out of the event by other agents. Quietly so as to not make a scene. The others in the know were amused at that, but it did get Xander some interested looks.

Xander sipped his tea. "I hate drinking alcohol but sometimes...it's not a bad day for it."

Zemo stared at him. "Did you date her?"

"No, I fucked her. Greatly. She picked me up when I was destressing at a club in LA." He grimaced and licked his lips then shrugged. "It was good enough. She squealed. A lot. It was good enough." He shrugged again. "I had fun for a few hours. She took a seven hour nap." He finished his tea and poured more from the teapot.

"You trust them not to be poisoned?"

"I'm immune to a few of them," he quipped with a grin. "It helps sometimes when you attract people like Joanna."

"You are quite confusing, Mr. Harris."

Xander grinned but shrugged. "Sometimes I gotta be me. I can't do someone I'm not."

Tony strolled over. "Xander, please quit being a bisexual disaster team member tonight?" He walked past them to get more wine.

Zemo finished his tea, smiling at that. "You have some unusual friends, Mr. Harris."

"Yeah but they're more fun than the ones at home I have to go back to soon." He looked at Darcy then nodded. "Let me go save her from the whore patrol." He got up and walked over there, pushing her hairpin back into place. He stared at the woman. "Future countess Lewis-Stonager is a very good friend of mine, Melissa. And I do know your daddy."

She flinched back. "While Darcy and I aren't together, I won't have you upsetting my friend that I allowed to wear the jewelry your daddy gave me for a fun night last week. Not like it'd look great on me unless I'm wearing the ballgown." He stared at her. "Don't make a scene, your father will be shamed." He strolled off again. He sat down again. "She's had more lovers than I have and she's a brat," he muttered. "Her father would be peeved but if I tell him he might hurt her."

Zemo looked at the supposed lady and then at the boy again. "Sometimes parents have to correct something."

He stared at him. "He'd probably not stop at spanking."

"Probably not. He seems like that sort." He got more tea since Xander showed it was safe. This event was turning out very interesting. Though he had spotted a few agents glaring at Xander. Xander blew a kiss at one, making him huff off to report he was there. "Is that your current one?"

"No. He tried to get the price on my balls. He lost but he tried really hard." He smiled at him. "I don't know how he's related to the Council or if it's an open contract now." He sighed. "I've barely learned anything about that world and I'm okay with that most of the time."

"So what else do you do?" the baron asked him patiently.

"Well, I was on a post-grad roadtrip and my car caught on fire. Literally. The fire department in Oxnard was very happy to have something to do that day." The baron winced. "And of course the only two jobs locally to there was in the kitchen at a strip club or a Mickey D's. Which has led to some interesting moments.

"I wanted to learn more about normal people. I'm seeing a lot of them and they're not always that different from the ones at home." He finished that cup of tea. "I shouldn't drink more, I'd have to find the men's room," he muttered, putting the cup down.

"Then I ran into someone who was *amused* at me struggling the one night I filled in. Of course, he was a serial killer," he said with a grimace. "And the usual happened so I had to get out of that, got him turned in to the locals, who didn't want to believe until I led them back to his house." He grinned. "They were not pleased with the mess they had to clean up."

"So you had to strip once?" the baron asked with a smirk.

"I had to fill in. Two guys were out. I can't dance. I have no rhythm. I totally froze as well for a whole song until someone came up to help me remove a shirt." He stared at him. "Which was the serial killer guy." He rolled his eyes. "The next one went better. I made pity tips. The place was low enough class that the guy trying to drug me wasn't really noted but I'm kinda immune.

"I got really giggly, kicked his ass, and then ran away. It worked well. The cops there had to call agents, who got mad, and then some more specific agents got involved since they found something saying he had noted one of them. That nice agent sent me on a trip to get me out of his hair and out of his way and also out of the US. Where I ran into more of my type of people. So what're you doing here?"

"I was invited to attend. Not sure why," he admitted. "My fiancee was most amused."

"They're good at that. Well, so are girlfriends but my last one left to save her own life because the town was having a super dangerous moment." He stared at him. "So not on the job then?" The baron stared at him. He grinned. "I recognized you from last week in Berlin, Baron Zemo. I was the one escaping that idiot moron who wanted to be a Xander owner. I'm also probably why you guys had to flee the gas grenade Compte taught me to make. If so, I'm sorry if that bothered your people."

"No, it was nicely noted that it hadn't went off. We didn't use the door and he was still unconscious so the boobytrap hadn't went off."

Xander grinned. "That's great. I saw you guys getting out of the van when I was coming off the fire escape. That fucking psycho thought I could be used as a sacrifice to call back someone who'd give him power. He's kinda wrong." He grinned again. "But your guys are okay? I don't want to hurt legitimate people who're doing some of the better problems so they won't date me."

"No, we're all fine." He stared at him. "You are most unusual."

"Why be normal?" he quipped with a grin. "And if you find film from something like my graduation, I don't answer questions on that until the statue of limitations runs out." He stared at him then got a bit more tea to sip.

The baron looked that up through his contacts, who found it for him. His team had him bugged just in case this was a threat against their team. They found that footage, sent it to him and he watched it without the sound on. Then he looked at the boy.

"Our former mayor." He grinned. "We just had ta handle it."

"I see." He put his phone up. "Well handled. Not many injuries?"

"I did what I could but he had a lot of people dirty to him," Xander said quietly, staring at him. "And I hate that I'm the one that picked those people because they could've maybe lived because they were stronger. It sucks. I totally hate that about command things."

"It sucks to all those who command teams," he assured him. "Do you anticipate more of those?"

"Yeah, unfortunately. Including that I'm hearing rumors about the US army getting involved in that sort of thing and taking test subjects. When I get home I really have to get nosy. Though I'd probably never get any help. But hey, I can put those lessons to more practical uses." He finished with an upbeat smile. "They've got to have air conditioning vents."

"They probably have air scrubbers but perhaps not. What of their subjects if they have some?"

"I don't touch anything peaceful and I'll be damned if I allow torture victims to keep suffering," he said, staring at him. "If I gotta be ...mean, so be it."

"Good point. That's what I'd do as well." The boy relaxed again and smiled like an airhead at the ex coming over to chat him up.

"Is that the friend you were having dinner with in Oslo, Xander?"

"Yeah, that's Darcy. Lufthansa ate her bag so I let her bum the jewelry." He grinned. "She's a future countess. She's also a humanities person and is going poli sci for college next year."

"Awww. It's good you know normal people."

Xander grinned. "She is and she's not. She just shrugged off something weird going on when we nearly got bitten by someone. Then sighed and went 'vampires, great' and left it there."

The arms dealer patted him on the arm. "Good boy. She's pretty?"

"She's not into me. She's way too normal. And nice. And healthy."

"Oh. That's good then. You could use better friends than your blonde one."

"Don't remind me I have to go home sometime soon. Please. I should not day drink here. It'd make me look bad and probably get me another boyfriend or girlfriend."

"There's a few in here who'd be adoring sugar daddies to you."

"I don't need one of those. I don't have the class to make them brag on me anyway."

"True, but you are exciting in bed." He looked at Zemo then nodded. "I'm sure one such as you could enjoy him."

"My fiancee Hieke would probably adore having him as a friend as well."

"Awww. Well, happy marriage." He walked off happier with that. He told the others then went to greet Darcy. "Dear!" He smiled at her. "I know Xander. I'm the one who gave him that charming necklace."

She smiled. "He's letting me borrow it since Lufthansa lost my bag and jewelry for tonight. Thank you for letting him have it so I could bum, Mr...."

"Duranga." She smiled and shook his hand. "You are?"

"Darcy Lewis-Stonager. Usually I just go by Lewis, but the grandmothers would be *most* unhappy if I ignored the old biddies' places in my life."

"Oh! You're not Rebecca's daughter."

"No, I'm Naomi's daughter. The reason the two grandmas are fighting was over my parents marrying. It's very Romeo and Juliette without the deaths. Well, until he ran away with his brother's wife and they died in a hurricane a year later."

He shook his head. "Then you're also Donald's daughter." She smiled and nodded. "How are your grandmothers?"

"Cranky. I paused in on them and they both huffed that I still exist and Mom didn't divorce Dad. Though Grandma Beatrice was looking at how to overthrow the world again to make it peaceful by force. I had to point out the threat would mean they'd get more violent.

"That would lead to a lot of deaths and she'd be evil. I'd hate to be related to that sort of evil. I told her about the charity work Mom and I do to help with all that in smaller ways. She huffed that it'd take too long and she's never get it done before she died."

He nodded. "Yes, your grandmother is much like that. Though, Rebecca's daughter...."

"Oh, you didn't hear," she said quietly. "No, there was a plane crash, Mr. Duranga. Like ten years ago. They were going on vacation to see Uncle's family."

"I had heard but I thought maybe one had lived."

"We have one cousin and I have no idea where she is. Or if she is. She kinda found some friends in lower places and disappeared. Which made that grandmother very upset with the world and her want to fix it again."

He nodded. "I can understand that. What of the other one?"

"Grandma Stonager? She's still a cranky old bat who believes the aliens are going to come fix humanity for us. I pointed out that wasn't likely, they'd see us like kids and we'd be worse off for it. She said at least then we'd be fixed. I decided not to argue with her and see if she had seen her doctor recently. I'm pretty sure her remaining son's going to get that title. He's got two kids. Rebecca Hanna and Junior. Or Vera, she goes by her third name."

"That's wonderful he had a family. We were sure that uncle of yours would never find someone."

"We're pretty sure he bought her off a wedding broker actually. Mom was certain that's how they came to be." She smiled when he laughed. "But his wife's now gone with my dad."

"That's a shame. Well, have fun later."

She smiled. "I probably will. I don't often do the formal circuit in the US. I find a lot of it boring but at least these people I don't know so haven't heard the same stories over and over again."

"True, that can happen, dear." He walked off happier.

She smiled at her seatmates. "Both of my grandmothers are countesses. Batty old countesses that were semi-terrorists in their youths to fix humanity. They're just fighting about methods to use for that goal."

"Wow," one of the socialites said. "College?"

"I'm on a gap year vacay." She grinned. "I decided on Culver. I didn't want to pressure myself with an Ivy so I didn't even apply. I got in at Culver without any pull or anything. It's a nice looking little school. Known for their sciences."

That got a nod from them. "Why not somewhere like Brown?" another asked. "It's got name recognition and is good for making contacts."

"I don't want to live in that world. I'm doing poli sci but I want to work with charity groups mostly for the next few years at least. I wanted to go straight politics I could've done Brown but I didn't want that sort of pressure. I want to have a few fun years in college.

"Culver offers me that anonymity and it's not that far from home if I need to run home to get away from brats. Plus it's nearer to some clubs in DC I've hung out in more than a few times. Not the green roped places, I don't want to do that sort of politics ever probably."

"Green ropes?"

"The politics exclusive places and for the higher ups in the government stationed in DC all have green roped off buildings and areas. Them and them alone, plus their madams of choice. Normal people don't see them at all." That got a nod of understanding. Darcy sipped her tea, then grimaced and put the cup down. "I let it get cold. My bad." She pushed it aside slightly. "What about you ladies? College soon?"

They shook their heads. One did nod slightly. "I'm thinking business so I can handle the family's needs."

Darcy nodded. "I can understand that. I took some minor civilian classes in money management so I don't have to just be stupid and stare at my advisor. I let him do the physical investing for me but I say where and when it goes or comes. It's just safer that way."

"It is," she agreed with a grin. "My family's financial advisor is good, and he gets us great interest, but I can't even read the forms."

Darcy patted her on the hand. "They're not that complicated once you get that first few classes in. By the end of the first accounting class you should be able to read those and then go on to think about investment strategies."

"That's a great idea. Accounting?"

"Yeah." She smiled and nodded. "I did it in high school and it taught us not only how to handle the books but how to read things like balance sheets and corporate earning statements."

"I didn't think about that but I know it's part of the curriculum."

"Often," Darcy agreed. "Even if you go into a side-business field like advertising."

"Did your mother want you in business too?"

"No." Darcy smiled. "My mother wanted me in engineering, preferably in computer or mechanical. While I can do it, I don't have a gift for it and it bores me stupid. Mom wanted me to do computers instead of gaming. She said it'd be better to be a hacker, it could come in useful later in life and video games taught you some things but not all of them were useful. Plus the guys on games tended to be worse than horrible at times to girls."

"So you learned to hack?" she asked.

Darcy smiled and held her fingers a bit apart. "Tiny bit." She smiled. "It let me get into some mischief over the years but nothing too obvious. I don't need a criminal record."

"I can fully see that," the girl agreed with a smile back. "My mother would've heaved a fit if I got more than a traffic ticket."

"Mine too but I'd get to nag her back since she was driving me to my SAT testing time and crashed the car because she had a raging case of the flu. I had to do a retake after two weeks in the hospital in traction." The other girls looked horrified.

"I didn't have my license then, it was a few days before I could get it legally by age. Her fever was so high the stoplights were turning into pelicans that were coming to attack her. We crashed into a tree. Wasn't fun. I had a good, long, induced nap for two days to let me heal from the pin in my ankle. Then traction for a few weeks." She shrugged but smiled. "Mom apologized a hell of a lot about that."

"Wow," another girl said, looking at her friend. Then at Darcy. "Are you okay now?"

"Bit weaker on one ankle but I don't play sports so I'm okay with that."

"Wow." The other girls considered that. "That friend they were talking about?"

Darcy looked then pointed. "That's Xander. We met at a club a few months back. He's on a post-grad roadtrip too. So we struck up a convo, danced a bit, decided we weren't going to flirt with each other because we're not each other's types, and we're friends." She smiled.

"He's a great listener. He just attracts people who're a bit...darker than average in morality. His prom date liked to torture cheating guys apparently." One moaned. "Yeah, he dated some woman named Anyanka or something." She shrugged. "I'd do it myself, not let another do it for me but not everyone can use a baseball bat. If you want introduced I can do that."

"No," they decided after sharing a look. "We'd like someone higher class," they agreed. Then smiled at each other.

"Sometimes that's fun and sometimes they're the most stuffy, boring people," Darcy admitted. "I just want someone fun who appreciates me. As long as he does work I'm happy. We live on Mom's income so I'm good with not being too high society and I don't shop that often." She looked at herself then at them. "Xander's friend told him to bring me to somewhere locally when my bag got lost. I was hoping they'd find it today."

"At least you could find something that quickly."

"They had to charge extra to do the fitting things." She grimaced a bit. "She was pretty nice though. A private little shop. Thankfully Xander has friends who have taste."

They nodded that was always a great thing. The tea ended and they went to mingle then change before dinner. Darcy came out of the bathroom in new clothes, hair put up, new makeup. Tony looked her over and helped her hair for her. She sighed but nodded. "There you go. Pretty."

"Thank you, kind sir." She smiled at one of the girls from earlier. "This is Tony. He's a friend of my mom's. We ran into each other on the flight a few days back and he's on vacation so I tagged along. That way I have someone to talk to about the sights and he's not bothered by bimbos."

Tony nodded. "Very many of them," he complained quietly. "All trying to be alluring and just look a bit trashy really." He looked at one girl, turning her around gently to fix her hair. "There, that's nicer and it'll stay up for later. You can wind that up into a bun."

She smiled and gave him a hug then went to check it in a nearby mirror. The other girls got nods from Tony and he adjusted one's jacket for her. It was bunched up around her shoulders. She was happier with that and having someone older who wasn't going to flirt or keep them from flirting.

Xander walked past, in his suit pants, dress shirt, and vest. His shiny shoes were nice. His hair wasn't fixed and looked messy. "Don't even ask," he told Darcy quietly. "Joanna's back though. Whoever took her earlier let her go." Tony tipped his face up. "No, she mugged me." Tony fixed his hair on him and let him go check. "Thanks, Tony."

"Welcome, Xander. Let's go to dinner, ladies and Xander." They went with him as a group.

Xander stared at the guy checking names then pointed. "That's me." He grinned. "And I am not sitting with that wench, right?" he asked quietly.

"No, you're sitting with the ones you were with earlier, sir. Not the one that got released to come mug you."

"Thank you." He smiled. "I'd like to avoid that." He went to find his seat. The girls were up the room from him and Tony was about halfway between. Xander looked, noticing there was a lot of younger guys on his end. Tony was by the baron this time. The young women had the one end of the room, the older people in the center, and the younger men on the other end. "Hmm. Not suspicious at all," he muttered. He tasted the water, tasting something in it. He looked in the glass then put it down.

"I believe theat was mine," the one on his right said quietly. "They set it for left handed people for some reason."

"I'm sorry I took your glass but it has something in the water," he said, more quietly than usual but not in a whisper. The guy looked alarmed and sniffed the glass near him, nodding that was true. "Hmm. I hope the ladies don't have that problem." He smiled at a nearby waiter. "I drank from his glass by accident," he admitted. "Can he have a new clean one please?"

"Yes, sir. We can do that." He took the glasses to do that and brought out fresh ones.

"Thank you," Xander said with a smile and a pat on his arm. "That's very kind of you." The man smiled back and went back to his waiting position. Xander handed over the other one and sipped his. Still dosed. He shook his head as he put it down. "There's times I miss ice in water."

The boy sniffed and put it down carefully. "Are you royalty?" he asked.

"No. I'm on a post-grad roadtrip from the US. I had to turn in a serial killer so an agent arranged for me to come to Europe for it so I'd be safe from him." He grinned at the shocked look. "Guys like that think I'm like candy for some reason." He shrugged but smirked. "At least they're usually willing to buy dinner. And the women too."

"That's...that's very odd."

"It is. I'm Xander." He held out a hand.

"Bradley." He shook it. "The girl you were with earlier?"

"That's Darcy. She's a sweetie. Also on a post-grad roadtrip but came over to see the two grandmothers of doom in England. She's a future countess but living like a normal."

"Oh! That's great. Is she Harvard or Oxford bound?"

"I believe she said Culver in Virginia. She wanted a small, private college."

"Oh, that's charming. Much nicer probably."

"Closer to home, around the clubs she's used to, near DC. She's going poli sci."

"That's a great field at times," he agreed with a nod. "The older one?"

"Tony's a friend of her mother's. He's on vacation after leaving a police position. They ran into each other on a flight a few weeks back and decided to hang out together. When I ran into them we all decided we could hang out. Tony knows some of the *best* food." He grinned. "The man has flaky, excellent pastry radar. Darcy complained her diet got shot weeks ago."

Bradley grinned. "That's a fun part of vacationing somewhere new. Where are you from?"

"California. Few hours from LA. Little town. I was on a post grad roadtrip and my car set itself on fire. So I was working and ran into the super creepy one."

"That's really weird."

"No, that's just kinda how it is sometimes." He shrugged but grinned at him. "Sometimes you gotta handle a sitch and then pout. Not my first job."

"That's good at least." He considered the others near them. He had no idea who anyone was. "The one who mugged you?"

"Joanna? She's... well, let's just say she's not your type. She's kinda the bad girl committee chairwoman. I know she's got an agent that's following her every move to see what she's doing. Which is why I didn't want to deal with her earlier."

"Oh!" He nodded. "That's great to know." He considered that. First a serial killer then someone on the wrong side of the law? His mother was probably heaving a hissy fit about her precious event being spoiled. "Are you hoping to find someone on your travels?"

"I'm not against it but I'm not actively looking. If one falls on top of me somehow then I might. But for right now, I'm just having some fun, seeing the world, learning more about humanity, that sort of thing."

"That seems like one does when they travel." He nodded and almost sipped his water but didn't. He noticed someone up the table had sipped his and grimaced. "I wonder what went wrong with the filter for the water?" he muttered.

"No idea," Xander admitted. "All I know was it wasn't normal. Water shouldn't be bitter."

That got a nod. "True, it shouldn't be." He smiled at the waiter as the first course was served. "Thank you."

"Thank you," Xander agreed, looking at the salad. "Oh, veggies," he muttered. "Huh. Let's see, those are cut up to eat." He did that and ate a careful bite of it. Nothing odd he could taste. That was good. The other food additive was with the main course, hidden in the sauce on the menu. At least it wasn't dessert, defiling dessert was heinously evil.

It didn't knock Xander out. Though the food was lulling him into a nap. Which was not a good thing. He made himself wake up and put down his fork and knife properly, as Tony had taught him. Tony had given him a five week intensive training in manners before they had released him from training. "I'm full," he decided. "There's such good food over here, I've been eating everywhere. I may even gain weight."

The other guys smiled at that and continued to chat up with each other. Some knew of each other but hadn't met. Xander considered his tablemates. No more than three from each country. All well to do young men of decent enough manners and looked nice. No one was ugly or ungroomed. They had all went to prep schools. No one had a higher title. It was odd but Xander wasn't here for fun anyway. He knew that things were wrong at this event and he was here to stop it.

***

Xander woke up, which was weird. He was on a wall, hanging in chains by his arms. He looked up then at the person in front of him. "What?" he demanded.

"You're not one of us, young man. You're not from a good background."

"Never said I was. You guys invited me, not the other way around." Someone hit him in the stomach and he let it go, breathing deeply. "Wow, my mother does better than that." The guy tried to hit him again so he kicked them. The woman laughed so he shrugged and got free. She blinked, looking horrified.

"You guys invited me. You shouldn't do that if you don't want me to show up." The guy took a swing so Xander got him back by ducking and then hitting him from the side like he would a vamp. The guy went down groaning in pain at the broken ribs. "Hmm." He looked at her.

"Clearly *you're* under *my* standards, lady. I mean, at least Joanna's pretty." The woman sneered, pulling a gun. Xander shrugged and held out his hands. "Go for it." She started to and got knocked out from behind. "Baron," he said with a nod. "Pleasure seeing you again."

"Why did you show up, Harris?"

"I got invited. And they sell people. I don't like that."

"You're out of your league, boy."

Xander grinned. "You'd be shocked, Baron. I'm not just the slayer's helper anymore. Some guys in the States made sure of it." The baron stared at him. He grinned. "Let me...go find Darcy to make sure she's all right."

"She and the other young are missing. They're going to auction most off to be good spouses. A few are just missing."

"Darcy probably has the highest noble status in the room outside the illegitimate heir in there." He walked off. "This way?"

"Yes." He followed. Xander grabbed a few weapons and was easier with them. He heard the boy take a deep breath and suddenly he was more cold, more battle centered. It was an old trick of those in battles. He understood that. And that Xander could shoot the guards but not kill them.

Xander paused to stare at one. "I know you're not one of these morons."

"No, I'm not. I'm here investigating why people disappear."

"Great. Come help me. That's why I'm here too, dude." He shot open the door, then nodded. "Go with the baron, he can make sure you get out of this people selling place, ladies." They ran with him. He looked then nodded, going to find Darcy and Tony. They ran into the guys and his contact there got them out. Then Xander snuck into the sales.

The other two agents would come after him sometime. Xander pulled something off his necklace and threw it into the room, letting the little bag fume up. It stopped the auction due to coughing and a few people passing out. It created a panic. People went to kill the remaining victims but the baron got there first with Tony.

Xander walked up there, shaking his head while tsking. "Really?" he asked dryly with a smirk. "Howdy, mother fucker to quote my boss." The man flinched back, looking alarmed. He knew the guy was Statesmen. He had been a fight trainer. "Does he know you do this? Or can I tell him?"

"I'll see you dead," he sneered. "You and Campari."

"And Limoncello?" He grinned. "You sure you wanna deal with her mom?"

The man shuddered, stepping back. "That's not her!"

"The fuck I'm not," Darcy said as she came in, limping. Dress torn. No jewelry. "It's somewhere, Xander."

"That's fine, Darcy." He waved a hand.

"Oh, I remember him." She swung on him and he ducked but she and he got into a brawl. Xander stepped up to double team the idiot. Then Xander casually picked up something to throw at the guy and used the cord on it to catch the guy's neck and strangle him. "Aww."

"You get to call it in. We missing anyone?" he asked Tony.

"Two women. Darcy?"

"Sore. There was a ...thingy."

"That sounds familiar. What sort of thingy?"

"Scaley, humanoid, wanted to eat me?"

"Green, blue?" Xander asked shaking his head slowly. "Nose, no nose?"

"Looked like a walking dark shaded dragon," she said.

"Oh, something like Juliette. Sure." He nodded. "Yeah, it would've eaten you." He let the guy go so Tony could get him. "Show me." She took him down there. His hidden sword came out and he cut the back of his off-hand. The demon sniffed and roared then came at him. "Oh, hey, you are like Juliette from Sunnydale High." He grinned and waved.

"Hey, I'm sure she'd say hi too." The thing attacked him so he ducked and dove into the fight. "Bulletproof," he called at the first shot. "Needs beheaded. Can't blow off the head." He panted a bit and swallowed then dove in again when she smirked at him. "Not like I don't work with a slayer," he told her quietly.

She reared back, looking horrified. He grinned. "I'm Xander!" He beamed. The woman ran screaming. "Oh, come on! I don't have a bad rep!" he called after her, chasing her. He found the two girls knocked out but not harmed.

"Oh, good. Victims here," he called, still chasing her. She disappeared but he could get her some other time. He came jogging back, helping the other agent help the victims up. He stared at him. "So why are you here? This isn't world ending."

"There's a lot of arms dealers here, Harris."

"I know, I ran into five different ex's. I nearly hid behind the nice Baron. I should go to a beach and see if I can draw them all to that area to come put lotion on my back for me."

"Don't even joke about that! They might do it," Tony complained, taking one of the girls from them. "Everyone else is being arrested. The baron's people were listening in. MI-5 is here too, Xander."

"Whoo! More people who probably hate the Council?" He shrugged. "Maybe they won't try to take me out for their price on my head." He came out to help Darcy, who had the jewelry back again. "You found it?"

"I did. Thank you for the lending."

"I'll sell it once I get home to set myself up again. I've got to go back to helping Buffy soon." One of the British agents gave him a horrified look. "What?" he asked patiently. "Not like any other agent showed up at our graduation! I don't see you saving the world instead of one short airheaded blonde girl!" He stared at him. "Someone's got to do it. At least I trust myself not to send the world into hell instead." He walked around him, helping Darcy. "Okay, I'm saying sundaes in our various hotel rooms."

Tony looked at him. "Where are you heading after this?"

Xander shrugged. "Two days on a beach and then home probably. No one's told me otherwise. If they need me, they'll send me on a weekend thing from Sunnydale as long as it's not in the spring."

"Point, they could."

Xander nodded. "I'd be okay with that. It'd get me away from Buffy." He let Darcy hop onto his back to be carried. "That's easier unless I have to use the sword."

"If you do, I'll hop down. My ankle's swollen."

"That happens when shoes are that evil like those were." He nodded at the baron, who gave him an odd look. He grinned. "Her foot's swollen."

He just nodded. "Going somewhere else, children?"

"Beach time," Xander quipped. "Maybe I won't pull some there." He looked at his ex who was giving him a horrified look. He blew a kiss with a grin. "I wasn't here about you! You were fun and all though. See me if you get out? If not, maybe this upcoming spring?" He carried Darcy off to get her into a cab. He went back to his own hotel room to pack up and head to a beach before others talked about him.

Let the agents have a meeting to see who was handling things. He did call in. "You need to call Campari. We found the stetson wearing Chocolate Milk there being the auctioneer. I'm on beach vacay for two days." He hung up. Then he packed and left for the airport before anyone got anywhere near him.

Tony's phone rang. "Yup?" he answered, walking off. "Yes, that one. I know, CC and I talked. He's going to a beach, GA. No, Milk's here but so is MI-5." The agent there stared at him. He grinned. "What? I'm an American officer. I really am." He walked off, going back to his own hotel room so he could leave. Darcy could go wherever, he'd catch up to her for the next mission. Xander was somewhere being chaotic neutral again. So the world was going on like usual.

The agent looked at the obviously trained person. "Which agency?" he asked.

That one smiled. "American. No comment otherwise. We heard about the auction and came to stop it. I infiltrated and told our people about their plans. Which somehow got Harris sent. I had no idea we had contacts like him."

"Name?"

The guy grinned. "I can't tell you that. They'd blow me up or trap me in an elevator for good, something weird that way." He walked off. His people at the IMF would be amused. Though he did wonder why someone IMF knew Xander Harris. Were they into him that way too? Were they that dangerous? Were they also into selling arms? In the IMF...that could be.

The MI-5 agent looked at the baron, who he knew about by reputation thanks to his handler telling him. "Will Eko Scorpion still need to be here?"

"Our two children are safe. We can escort them back to their families," he said patiently. "I had no idea why I was invited personally."

"Hmm."

"Welcome!" the american agent called back. "Thanks for the assist! We knew you'd want to get your own people help!"

"Oh, that reason." He nodded once. "That one young man?"

"We have no idea!" he admitted. "Beyond the fact that he's got a price on his head thanks to a group of morons who believe in the supernatural." The Baron let them see the battle footage from Xander's graduation his team had found. "What is that!"

"His graduation. The ones who hover over that one girl are the ones that have the price on his head." He stared at him. "Whoever sent him knew he'd chaos things."

"He clearly did." He grimaced. "That kid's nuts."

"Aren't we all at nineteen?"

"Point." He got his newest arrested person out to their transport. By then the commandos were gone, their two native peoples with them. So they had that handled. He just had to report to his higher ups, who were not amused by their comms. Another agent stared at him. "I know, I'm the team leader, I have to deal with them having the fit." That got a nod.

***

The baron found Xander on his beach day and sat down beside him on a chair at the ocean. "Did you make them have a convention?"

"No, thankfully not." He grinned. "You guys get home okay?"

"We did. Your people are very confused."

"I'm not Council. I just decided one little blonde girl shouldn't be saving the world by herself so stepped in." He stared at him over the top of his sunglasses. "I do the same thing, only slower and without a lot of training done by others. It happens."

"It does," he agreed. "Usually your sort turn into vigilantes."

"Then I'd never get laid again." The baron laughed at that, nodding a bit. "But you came to see me before I head home?"

"Six names that're your type and operating around LA." He handed over the list. "None of the rest of us want the world to end either." He stood up.

Xander grinned at him. "You know, you can join Darcy and I as bisexual disaster team members if you want," he offered. "We're always looking for more people we can chat with safely who won't want to kidnap us."

"I'll consider that if I run into either of you again."

"Probably more likely to run into them than me. I only play with Darcy and Tony infrequently."

"That's probably saner for everyone. Have a good trip home?"

"Tomorrow." The baron walked off looking smug. Xander looked at his list of names and tucked them into his wallet then relaxed again. He had already heard one of his former lovers on the beach complaining about him and wasn't about to prove he was there by complaining back that she was horrible in bed. She might try to prove him wrong and she truly couldn't do that.

***

Darcy handed over the Statesmen member to their heads. "Here, he tried to give me to a demon to eat." She gave him a shove. "Fucking moron. Probably the reason I got invited too. Trying to piss off my mother."

Her mother looked over from her seat in the corner. "Probably. I'm going to kick him around for that later, dear. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, Mom." She blew a kiss. "I need to get to Culver next week. Wanna help me shop?"

"Of course we can. Though I'm not sure why you hacked your admittance instead of applying."

"I didn't want to spend the money, Mom. You made me cheap." She walked off. "Campari's off doing something Tony-like before he moves to Baltimore."

"That's fine," their head people said. "We'll let you know if we have a mission for any SCU people, Limoncello."

"Thanks, dude!" She grinned at him. "Xander's at home. He said there's army people."

"We heard. We can't help a lot with that."

She nodded. "Well, I'll help hack if he asks me to. Gotta protect the guy who's like a brother to me at times."

"You two would've destroyed the world if you were in close contact for more than a day," her mother complained, following her out to go shop for her off-campus apartment.

The higher ups in Statesmen smiled at their soon-to-be former member. Who shrank down. They were going to do worse to him than Darcy chatting for two days straight had. Or worse than Xander could do. Or Tony, who was really a good leash holder for those chaotic disasters.

The End.
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