Mr. And Mrs. Harris Go To LA.
Natasha walked into the kitchen one morning, staring at her husband of two years and a few months. He was drinking some coffee and reading the paper, like usual. She had not expected to fall for him but he was most things she was used to, but gentler most of the time. Not that she hadn't laughed the first time she saw him fighting, he had a sword and it was cute. Xander made her laugh and it was a great thing in her life, something she needed. That's why she was keeping herself calm this morning. Because, she had to ask some bad questions. "That movie last night." She poured herself some coffee and sipped it, leaning against a counter.
Xander looked over and smiled at her. "I liked it. Did you?"
"I didn't dislike it but I have no good idea why we watched it." She took a sip of her coffee. She might need the extra energy.
"Because I wanted to watch an action movie?" he guessed. "It was the newest one out?"
She blinked. "So you weren't trying to make any allusions?"
He put down his paper, staring at her. "It's not like I don't know that you're a spy, Nat. By the way, I reloaded the guns you left partially unloaded in the oven's safe drawer." She blinked a few times. He grinned. "I already knew all that. I have known for years."
"How? Are you perhaps one?"
He laughed, smiling at her. "How many times have you told me I couldn't hack your job?"
"You don't use a gun very well, Xander."
"Perhaps but my job doesn't have daily gun battles. Swords sometimes but not guns." He picked back up the paper. "We watched it because I wanted to watch an action movie and it was my turn to pick." He blew a kiss at her when she huffed. "I've known since that time in Peru."
"What did I do then? I have almost no memories and my handler still believes you used some truth serum on me."
A side of the paper lowered and Xander smirked. "No, honey, the word you're looking for is tequila. A lot of tequila." He put back up the side of the paper and blew a kiss. "Tell him I said hi."
"I'm not planning on seeing him today."
He sniffed. "No, you always wear the Chanel when you go out to befuddle men's minds for your people," he said dryly. "You wear the other stuff whenever you're not working." He lowered a corner of the paper again and smiled. "Though I will be out of town for the next week."
"Why?" she asked.
"Work." He put back up the paper.
"You don't work in a job that requires traveling more than a few times a year." It was this sort of secrecy that made her believe they had watched the movie for a reason. It drove her nuts. She could tell something wasn't quite perfect about his job. He worked for a charity organization that ran a group home and a school. The swords plus the girls school didn't add up in her mind.
Xander put down the paper. "Someone called in an SOS code so I have to go help."
"Oh." She grimaced. "More paperwork nastiness like last time?"
"Not likely. Last time I ended up dealing with CPS and others." She shuddered. Xander grinned. "If it makes you feel better, you can do a better background check than they've done so far, Nat. I won't mind. Even if your ex comes over to help you do it." She stared at him. "What? I've met Clint. I'd want to sleep with him too and I have no idea why you got stuck on me when you used to have him."
"He was....more complicated."
"So I'm easy?" he asked with a smirk.
"Slightly so." She took a kiss. "Have fun. Which office are you going to be in this time?"
"LA probably." She nodded, pouring them both more coffee and making herself toast. "You need to buy more forty-five caliber bullets too. You're nearly out. I cleaned yours last night and reloaded for you when I ended up having nightmares."
"What do you have nightmares about?" He never talked about them. He had them regularly but not on a schedule and even when she asked him he evaded it. More oddness that made her uneasy with his current job and made her think that movie was a hint.
"No comment." He grinned. "You'll probably find out some day, dear. Mostly I try not to wake you up with them." She huffed. "Let's just say it has to do with high school and leave it there, okay?" He smirked. "If you want me to be that uncomplicated, you don't want to hear about high school." She rolled her eyes. He went back to his charming habit of reading the obituaries. "Call me if you need me. I'm taking a charter flight out to LA."
"Sure." She walked off to get ready for her day. He was already dressed in comfortable clothes he could travel in. She had gotten rid of the baggy jeans and t-shirts he liked so he at least looked decent enough in better jeans and a button up shirt. By the time she came down he had a t-shirt on again and was checking his pocket knife for sharpness. "Will you need that?" she asked, putting in her earrings.
"Maybe. You never know in LA." He kissed her. "Have fun with what's-his-name." She rolled her eyes but left. Xander went up to his office, pulling out his own weapons to check, load, and pack. Then he grabbed a few spare outfits and his spare boots to pack. He put on a leather jacket she had gotten him and called. "I'm done. Let me lock the house. I'll be on the back porch in three minutes."
He hung up and walked around the house, checking all the doors and windows. He didn't want to make Natasha kill someone at home, where she should be able to relax after a hard day of mind-fucking and killing men who only saw the pretty body. He stepped out back, hit the remote control for the house's alarm system, and then disappeared. He looked at the women staring at him. "Okay, what's needed?" He moved forward, putting his bag down beside him. "Has my weapons," he said when one of the mini-slayers reached for it. She shrugged and took it to check them over for him and toss his clothes onto a bed.
Natasha got the briefing on a group gathering in LA to cause harm and scowled. "He is not. He's in business. He's missing an eye," she told her handler, who was looking grim. Her husband's picture had been in the center of the group of surveillance photos. Clearly she had uneasy feelings about his job but she knew he wasn't a terrorist or anything like that. Xander walked stray dogs across busy streets.
"We think he's related to a native terrorist cell, Natasha."
"He's not. I would realize that. He doesn't even shoot very well. He practices with a crossbow and a sword."
Her handler frowned. "Why?"
"I don't know but anytime we go to the shooting range, his aim is off with a handgun or a rifle but spot on with a crossbow," she said dryly. "He's not a domestic terrorist." She tossed it back onto the table. "Beyond that, I can go watch to see what's going on but I know you're going to send someone with me because that's my spouse."
"I'm sending Clint."
"He knows about Clint. He spotted him once and said he'd have fucked him too. He was fully sure if I was cheating it was with him."
Her handler shook his head. "Any other odd things I should know about?"
"I had to question why we were watching that action movie that just came out with the two spies who don't know that their spouses are. He called me paranoid."
"It was his turn to pick and he likes action movies." She shrugged. "I asked quite well this morning."
"Fine. We'll send you with Barton and a backup team." She shrugged. "Even if we're wrong, maybe you'll find out what he actually does for a living because he's not a businessman. No middle manager level businessman has a file locked by the CIA."
"He said that his nightmares come from high school and if I wanted to still consider him simpler and less complicated than Barton I didn't want to know about it."
"It is from his high school years until about three years ago." He blinked. "I can't get them to tell us why."
"We cannot hack?"
"No, we can't."
"That's odd." She crossed her legs. "I'll gladly go watch him. I doubt he's having an affair. I know he left earlier on a chartered flight."
"There's no record of him flying anywhere and the cameras on your house didn't show him driving off. His car's still there."
"Yet he's in LA so how did that happen?" she asked.
"We don't know and that's what's so frustrating."
"Fine. I'll go spy on my husband. It might make him happy when I pounce him at the end." She stood up and walked off, going to gather Barton. He had the full file to go over. "Coulson is in a snit."
"Yes he is," he agreed. "Can your husband actually shoot?"
"Not at the range we go to. He can with a crossbow."
Clint Barton, master assassin and her former boyfriend, stared up at her. "Why?"
"I don't know. He wouldn't explain why he has that or his office has three swords." She shrugged. "Perhaps he was one of those ren faire people before." She was still trying to figure out why she liked guys with bows and other ancient weapons.
"Maybe," he agreed. He went back to it. "How did he get to LA?"
"He said a chartered flight. Said he'd be gone all week. Last time they called on him to travel he spent a few days dealing with things, mostly paperwork, and said earlier he had to deal with a CPS worker at the same time."
Clint sighed. "That makes no sense."
"His file is probably what he alludes to back in high school."
"It's so hack-proof even their own hackers can't get into it," Barton told her. "We don't know why but it's sealed with Presidential level clearance." He looked at her again. "He does what?"
"He does a lot of the administrative work for two different but connected groups, one that runs a group home and one that runs a private school."
"Okay." He stood up. "Let's head. I've already briefed our backup team." She nodded, pointing at her bag. She had everything she'd need; it was always in her locker. He followed her up to the quinjet. He hoped it was nothing huge or bad. Natasha would be torn up and wouldn't let him comfort her.
She looked back at him, smiling slightly. "He said I could invite you over. He said he would've slept with you too."
He grinned. "Of course he would've. I'm that fantastic." They loaded up and headed out to LA with him flying.
Natasha found where her spouse was meeting old friends as he had told her when she had called. "That one and the blonde are both over the school that he helps do work for," she said quietly with a point. Clint was beside her. "The redhead I'm not sure about. That may be the Willow he has to talk to now and then, but he always seems to hate her. By the look on his face, he wants to kill her and can't. The old man that just walked out to join them is Rupert Giles. He runs the school and group home. Xander met him in high school. He's worked with him since their town fell in. He said once Rupert was British when I asked who he was talking to on the speaker about one of the girls."
Clint typed that into his system to see if they had a dossier on him. "Nothing listed. No green card. Permanent work visa? How did he get that?"
"I do not know. I almost thought he had me watching that movie the other night for a reason."
Clint shook his head. "He's not that subtle, Nat." They watched the group have dinner and chat over something. Though Xander was a bit bouncier than usual, probably from stress since it looked like he hadn't slept, and was showing off his new ....crossbow. "You weren't kidding."
"I got that for his birthday. It's good to know he loves it," she said. They watched the group finish up and go back to an old hotel. A run-down one that looked like it had been built back in the thirties. It didn't look like a place to hold a school conference. That was just another odd thing and there were no records in any system of the hotel's existence. It was like it wasn't there to LA County or anyone else. Though it was odder that two people in the group would not photograph. Their backup unit was complaining a lot about that.
The next morning, Clint and Natasha were on top of a building, watching the group. They had all gotten up early, taken showers, and then armed themselves. Their night shift of the backup team had thought that was weird so they had been called back to the site. Now they were sneaking toward a large building downtown. One that had a law firm using it. She and Clint were very confused. They couldn't be against a law firm, could they? And why were they holding archaic weapons? Not even eco terrorists used swords.
They watched as the group concealed themselves very well. The area was fairly silent for some reason. No traffic. No homeless people, and this was one of the prime areas since they had so many large, empty buildings after things had went out of business. Not even officers going by. Clint and Natasha were getting that very bad feeling. Clint was unconsciously putting on his quiver and pulling out his bow. She was adjusting her guns. The backup team was looking antsy. You could feel something was coming in the air.
Natasha blocked off any emotional response. She couldn't have one right now. If her Xander was involved in something bad, she could not be emotional about it. She knew Clint would handle it for her while she handled the rest. They had promised each other when they had met again after a year apart.
Then the building's doors blew outward. They shifted to stop whatever. The bomb's force was followed by strange creatures. Strange creatures all the people down there moved up to fight?
"What the hell?" Clint demanded.
"Are those... are those demons?" she asked. Clint and the others stared at her. "There was a hastily covered up event in New York three years ago and the file stated it was a demonic problem before it was cleansed and buried." She pointed. "We need to join them. They're children." Clint nodded and laid a grappling arrow down so they could slide down and join in the fight.
Xander sniffed and looked around, grinning and waving. "Hi, dear." He turned and shot a demon then beheaded the next one coming at him. He sighed. "Buffy, can't we blow up the portal yet?" he yelled.
"Gunn's people are trying!" she shouted back. "If you want it to go faster, you go lay it!"
Xander looked at her. "Don't tempt me." He killed another few demons and moved up. "B team, move!" he shouted. "Now, left! Shift left!" They did and took on the new surge while the right side got a slight breather as they moved to help. He looked to his right and found his wife's ex-boyfriend. "Hey."
"Hey." He glanced at him. "What the fuck is this? We thought you guys were domestic terrorists or something."
Xander cackled. "Not really. Welcome to killing demons the Watchers Council way." He beheaded another one and shot one that was farther back. "Inside the building is a portal spitting out all these *charming* guys who eat people." He got bitten and yelped but kicked that demon in the head, killing it by caving in the skull. "That's it, I'm going to go lay the damn explosive myself." He worked his way forward. Buffy gave him a heated look.
"Faith, take my team. I'm going to blow the shit out of this bitch." She nodded, shifting to his team. He hurried inside and to the guys that were trying to fight their way in there. He pulled out something and shot it off. The mini rocket went off in a pleasing crashing way against the law firm's people. "Sorry, but not today, dear. I've got a headache," he quipped. He took the bomb. "Go. Now." He nodded, taking his team out to help. Xander laid the explosive charge and shifted where it should go because this was bigger than he thought. It might get dislodged but he could handle that.
He used some wire in his bag to anchor it into the side of the portal and then set it off as he ran outside. It went off just as he cleared the doors, sending him to his knees. He shrugged and got up to help work his way back to his wife's side. She was not looking happy though so maybe she should find him after she had calmed down. Had a few drinks. Prayed a tiny bit. The usual things humans did when they found out demons were real. He killed another two and then pulled something out of his pack to throw at a group of them. They screamed as they lit on fire. He got another few groups of them. "Move, Merry!" She ducked and he shot over her head. The last of the demons were finally down and he sighed, looking around. "Damn we made a mess."
Buffy started to laugh. "Yeah, I think we did. We should run and hide before the officials get here. They never like us." The girls trudged off. The few that were injured got lifted up by the others.
"Hold it," Clint yelled. "I'm with SHIELD. We can get you guys to a quiet medical facility so you can tell us what the fuck just happened."
Buffy looked at him. "You're cute and all but we don't talk to government people. Sorry." She knocked him out. The other girls got the others. She smiled at Natasha before knocking her down and out. Natasha fought back. "Good, it's nice that Xander finally found a dangerous, good girl. Don't try to kill him later." She got pulled off by another of the slayers and they went to hide. She hauled Xander with her. "You can answer the wife's panty siren call later, Xander."
"Shut up," he complained. He got free, going back there to help Natasha up. "It's not safe to leave you laying out here and we don't need anyone to complain we let agents be eaten. So why don't you take you and Clint home and I'll be there tomorrow?" He grinned and walked off again.
"We are going to chat, Xander."
"Yup. Sure we can. I'll make lasagna?" He grinned back at her. "Like on our anniversary?"
She shook her head. "No, we'll be debriefing you before then." She got up and helped Clint up. LAPD was responding. She and Clint got the SHIELD agents out of the way and helped them with the clean up, telling them what they had seen. The officers just nodded and said it was nice there was a gas leak and left it there. By the time they got back to their hotel, their handler was there looking incredibly pissed off. "It was not my fault," she complained.
"What the hell was that?" their director demanded with a point from his seat.
"You ask like we know, sir," Clint complained. "You had us spy on her husband's little gathering. We did. We sent back film for people to interpret, all that. This morning, we watched them get up, shower, get armed, take up concealed positions, and then there was an attempted invasion apparently. We jumped in because we didn't want them to lose. What did you want us to do?"
"Not have your whole team knocked out."
"Well, not our idea," Clint shot back.
Natasha rubbed her forehead. "My husband and I are going to have a talk. Alone." Her director snorted. "What, exactly, is the Watchers Council?" He sat up, staring at her. "Because that's what he said they were when he talked to Clint."
"They're fruitcakes," he said bluntly. "They take in supposedly specially marked girls to train for shit."
"That's probably the school." She looked at Clint.
"I'm going with you." She smiled slightly. "How is he getting home?"
"Perhaps the same way he got out here?"
"Probably," he agreed. "Fine, we'll meet him at home?"
She shook her head. "No, we'll go in and bring him here."
"He's already home by the cameras," her handler said, holding up a picture.
"Then we'll go home." She walked off with Clint following. She had no idea but her chest was tying itself in knots. She looked at him. "We need more information."
"I can't find anything on them," he admitted. "Even on the occult bullshit sites. It's not a matter of hacking, there's literally nothing. They're ghosts."
She grimaced. "There were others that were not human who were helping all the girls."
"They're downtown. I had a guy track them. They're at a karaoke bar." She grimaced. "The one that was wearing the lounge singer outfit? He appears to be running it."
"Then let's start there." He nodded, following her to the car so he could drive them. She clearly had a headache. Not that he didn't. He had a huge headache. Natasha walked into the bar first, staring at the bartender. "I would like to know what my husband was doing earlier," she said simply and quietly.
"I haven't seen any husbands, sweetie. Was he here?" he asked with a grin.
She stared at him. "Do not play games with me. I was there earlier with my spouse, like you were helping the group he was with." He went a bit more pale green skinned. "What, exactly, is going on?"
"Who are you married to?"
"I'm Natasha Romanoff-Harris."
"Oh, crap. We knew him marrying a normal was going to be a problem." He stared at her. "We can chat but it won't make you any more happy."
"That will come when I go to ask my spouse why he was there."
"The same reason I was. I didn't want to see this planet overrun with little demons who ate people." She stared at him. He led her to a booth so they could chat. Clint pulled a chair over to sit on the open edge so no one was getting away. "What did you want to know?"
"All the slayers are marked with a mole on the shoulder and a higher power that gives them special gifts when they're chosen," he said. "Stronger, faster, better healing."
"They're children," she said.
"We all hate that for them. Before, before Sunnydale and Buffy, the girls were called as young teenagers. They fought, they died, another was called." She glared. "Now, since Sunnydale and Buffy, they're called, they train, they go to college, they go out in groups on patrol or if they want to be assigned to a posting house, they go there in groups. They're not alone, they don't die young and pretty, they don't die if they can help it. We have some that have been doing it now for ten years. Before it was on average about ten months."
"Why does no one know about this?" she demanded.
"All governments know. The Council was there first." He sipped his drink. "They made sure they weren't going to be interfered with. Before Sunnydale, they sucked huge. They sucked bigger than American Idol." Clint snorted at that. "They did. They took in the girls as early as possible and trained them. Since Buffy, that's not allowed. Now they're a sorority. They get support, families, all that. Your husband was instrumental in changing how the system was broken."
"We will come back to his place in it soon. What was that earlier today?"
"That was another realm invading. That was a plan by Wolfram and Hart to take over the world for the demons." He sipped his drink. He could tell she wanted to hit him. "No matter what you call them, they're still demons. So am I. I come from a different realm but I came here because we have music here. My people didn't." He shrugged. "Now I run this place, which has a sanctuary and a no violence protection on it." She growled. "The world is wider than you think, precious, and it's not your fault. Your new bosses made sure you didn't remember even if it broke free." He shrugged. "You ran into some when you were Russian."
"You know of me?"
"Does my spouse?"
"No. He's not worried about your past. He's worried about your present and future. He's practical that way. That and if he knows, he thinks you might hate him."
"Are they done the same as I was?"
"Before, slightly. Trained by a single watcher from as close to birth as possible. Trained to be a warrior and then die gloriously for the cause. Buffy broke that and Xander helped her break it. She broke it permanently and he's why there's more than one." She stared at him. "Before it was one girl is chosen, one girl fights, one girl dies, another girl is chosen. Now it's 'we're all chosen around sixteen' and then they train, they learn, they choose their own destiny of patrolling or not. They have a mandatory year of patrolling so they know how to protect themselves if the unthinkable happens and they're attacked at home. Or at college.
"That year gives them the skills they need to survive all this. They're only called out for things bigger than today. They had a few units of girls in reserve in case they needed them to show up. All the ones that decided to have normal lives were on call as it were." He took another drink. "Xander and others made sure that the girls had their families, their friends, they got an education, they got a life, sweetie. They may not be able to opt out of the calling, the Powers That Be poked them, but they can opt into life if that's what they want."
"Their training?" she asked.
"They do high school at the same time. They learn classification, how to defeat something, what's peaceful and what isn't. They learn protections and wards to put around themselves so the demons can't sense them and come for them. They learn weapons. They used to learn weapons from Xander but then Buffy decided he was a liability because he was teaching them more about free will than she thought they should get right off the bat. When they were older and ready to make decisions, yes. As sixteen-year-old girls? No. So they had a huge fight and Xander went back to Africa for a bit. Where you ran into him. Then to South America because they were having a huge problem, where he ran into you, and you two had dinner from what we all heard."
"You've been keeping track of him?"
He grinned. "The demon underground has a lot of people that gossip a huge amount. Someone like Xander? We know where he is most of the time and what he's doing."
"What was he doing this time last year? He mentioned paperwork and CPS."
"Two of the mini slayers, one eight and her sister's about five now so four then, had a father that went psychotic. Decided the girls had been possessed. Was doing home-made exorcisms complete with whips, poisons, all that. Xander got an SOS from one of the demon poker circuit near you and called Giles on his way out to save them. He got the mom out of her locked bedroom. He got one of the girls to the ER in time." She swallowed and nodded. "He ripped the father into pieces in front of the cops that were trying to arrest him for it. The other one had died about an hour before he got there. Which he still blames himself for. Willow said it wasn't anything huge so she wouldn't teleport him out. She's so numb now she doesn't want to acknowledge that."
"Numb?" Clint asked.
"When you start fighting the evil in the world as a fifteen-year-old girl, or sixteen in Xander and Willow's cases, then you don't really get to keep the happy thoughts," Lorne said with a slight shrug. "Willow's tried a lot but she's also been through a magic addiction, nearly destroyed the world thanks to it and grief, and then moved on. She's gotten to the point where her soul is in ice and no one's going to be able to thaw it. Xander let himself feel. He knew bad things existed. His parents proved it." He took another drink and cleared his throat. "When the one who protected the only piece of soul you have left is the thing that you're fighting because they're going to kill you and others, and then you stake him, you don't exactly come out on the other side smelling like roses."
She shuddered. "I have killed people who I knew before. It is never easy."
"In his case, it was his first staking or so. Girls like Buffy and the slayers are meant to kill vampires and other bad things in the shadows. Xander had a small bridge back from the edge of the shadows. One of them got turned. The other was Willow. Who joined him. She pulled up all the planks as she walked over them, leaving a rope bridge for you to rebuild." She nodded once at that. "It's not like it's fun. Patrol back then was going out with the girls nagging him about stupid shit like being a guy while staking the things that didn't want to stay dead. Plus high school." Clint shuddered. "Pretty much, yeah. He healed some in Africa. He was grieving, he was burnt out. He was on the edge of flaming out and becoming the bad thing. He let the innocent girls who were newly called, the ones he trained, help pull him back. Now he goes there each time one of them isn't good enough because he believes he wasn't good enough."
"I know that feeling," Clint admitted. "It eats you."
"Yes it does," Natasha said quietly. "I did not realize what those were."
"We didn't think you would." Lorne looked at her. "If you had and asked him, he would've told you. We know your present bosses have mind wiped anyone that came into contact with this world to keep it out of theirs. It's protection for both sides. He has a yearly meeting with one of them. Usually Buffy. Sometimes your spouse is there. I think last time he warned him to never touch your mind or else he'd see SHIELD in ruins. And I'm pretty sure Xander can do that. He's pretty well liked." He smirked. "Your husband has a gift for making people believe. Even if he can't do it for himself, he can make others believe."
"Because if you can't believe it in yourself it'll get you killed," she said.
He nodded. "Bingo." He finished his drink. "You should probably be asking him all this. By now at least Willow's nagging him. Buffy too probably. They were his only friends until he met you. He's going to need a counterbalance against the bitchy girl point. They still think he's helpless because of his missing eye."
"I think he's compensated very well," she said bluntly. "He proved it earlier."
"You didn't grow up with him as teenagers," Lorne said with a tiny grin. "They did. They consider him *normal* to this day. Sometimes that's special, and a reason to keep going; a hero on a pedestal to look up to because if he can so can you. Sometimes, they're still teenage girls inside because they didn't get to finish growing up. Slaying got in the way of that." He stared at her. "He might try to hide from you."
"There's many hiding places in the house. I know them all."
"He has others in town. Including the local sanctuary and poker hall. They'd probably be buying him drinks."
"I want to," Clint said. "He got teenage girls to listen to him."
Lorne smirked. "They all adore Xander but now and then they take up Buffy's attitude about him. That's usually when she finds him fixing the garage wall he's kicked a hole into."
"I've seen that a few times," she admitted with a sigh at the end. "How did he know about me?"
He waved a hand around with a smile. "We're more everywhere than American Express. We're ignored for the most part. People talk around us and don't even realize we're standing right beside them. We keep track of people that could cause us hell and problems. That's why when your husband got kidnaped last year and you called in, one of us called your handler with a tip. We like Xander. We like Xander a lot more than we like Buffy or Willow. Or Rupert Giles. He's been burned out for a very long time, even before he got handed Buffy as his slayer."
She slumped. "How do we stop another one?"
"Not your job," he said.
"We can help."
"Then talk to Rupert after everyone's calmed down. Not that your boss is going to be very happy. He and Buffy should be talking next week. You might wanna not go back to the base until after then. Xander was serious. He's got enough contacts he can talk into destroying SHIELD's bases and pretty new heli carrier, sweetcheeks. All over you." He grinned and got up, walking away. "There's a portal maker in later tonight. He can send you nearer to home."
"I'm right here," one called.
Lorne smiled. "Didn't spot you, Buddy. That's Xander's wife and her work partner." He groaned at them. Natasha looked over. "She just found out. She needs to go talk to Xander. She thought he was just sweet and did paperwork."
"I've seen him use a crossbow before," she admitted, standing up. Clint followed her. "Can you get us home?"
"Yup, sure can." He got up to make a portal on the bathroom doorframe. He waved. "That's a bar closer to where you live. You should be within ten or so miles. Easy cabbing distance." She nodded her thanks and stepped through. Clint said a quiet one and followed. He made sure they were over then closed it down. He got a free drink on the house. "So are we going to have SHIELD falling down now?"
"Who knows," Lorne said. "Not even the Powers can say that."
Natasha got them a cab. A few of them were giving her long looks. She smiled at one she recognized from their block. "Xander did not tell me."
"He didn't think you'd understand."
"I do. All too well." She got out when they honked, with Clint following her. She stared at him once they were in the cab.
"I'm going to crash on your couch."
"Okay." She paid the driver when they got there, getting out and using her keys to open the door. She had seen his silhouette in the kitchen so she headed that way while Clint got a beer from the wine cooler that had already been in the house when they bought it, and sat on the couch to finish calming down to ESPN. She shook her head. Xander looked over at her. "I would've liked it more if you were a spy," she admitted, sitting at the breakfast bar.
He nodded. "Me too some days." He looked at her. "You're mad, right?"
"I'm confused. I'm hoping the girls do not get anything I used to."
"No, I made damn sure of that. I kicked Buffy's ass over it a few times." She smiled slightly. He shrugged. "I'm not going to let them do that to little girls. Ever." He got her some water and leaned against the sink, facing her. "So?"
"What, exactly, is that? I have heard nothing."
"That you remember."
"Why do I not remember?"
"Because three years ago, right after we got serious, you ran into a demon eating someone while on assignment and your boss had a fit." He stared at her. "I had a fit on him about it. And your handler. They got you, him, Clint, and the junior agent you had in training suddenly left the agency." She frowned, shaking her head slowly. He sighed. "Let me get something." He went to his study and came back with three journals, putting them down in front of her. "You ran into Faith and she told me. Which is why I had your boss's office invaded so I could get you out of there."
"These are from when?"
"Starting back in high school." She looked up at him. "That incident's in the bottom one. I don't keep meticulous notes, but I do keep enough to make reports from or when I need to get it outside my head. Ignore the teenage angst please." He looked at the pan behind him then at her. "Lasagna?"
"Sure." She opened the first one, reading it. "Clint's here."
"I saw big, tall, buff, and why I'm jealous," he said dryly.
She looked at him. "I have not slept with him since before we got together, Xander." He smiled. "You need to worry less."
"Measuring myself against that yardstick? I'm fairly faulty, Natasha. I realize that. For the longest time I thought you were using me as a brilliant cover story so you could infiltrate other places. I knew you weren't coming after the Council but I couldn't understand why you chose me."
"Because you made me laugh," she said quietly, staring at him. He grinned and got back to making dinner for them. She went back to reading. By the time she was halfway through with the first journal, she had a glass of vodka in front of her instead of water and it was not strong enough. Xander put a plate down and gave Clint some then went upstairs. She could hear him in their bedroom.
Clint came in to eat with her. "Anything huge I should worry about?"
"He staked his best friend a few weeks after meeting Buffy; he was his first kill during his first apocalypse battle," she said quietly. He tried to take the journal. "No. This is private."
"Okay, give me the book report version." She nodded, eating so she wouldn't be as hung over in the morning. There was no way she wasn't going to be drunk tonight. She got to the end of the first journal and wanted to go hug her husband but the second one needed to be seen. She got more dinner, more vodka, and sat down to read that one as well. She was working her way through the third one when Xander came down in the morning. She looked at him. "You do amazing things."
He shrugged. "Someone had to." He stayed on his side of the kitchen. She slumped some. "So do you still respect me?" he asked, trying to make it a joke.
She nodded. "Yes, I do." He relaxed. She got up and kissed him. "Thank you."
He cuddled her. "It's not a huge thing. I was the right guy in the right place." He looked at her. "Are you going to be okay with this knowledge?"
"I can manage it." He nodded, letting her cuddle. She looked at Clint, who was asleep on the breakfast bar. "I didn't let him read them. I read him sections."
"He can't hate me any more than he already does."
"He does not."
"Every time he sees me he scowls. I'll never measure up to what he thinks is good enough for you, Nat."
"I understand that." She kissed him again. "I need to rest."
He nodded. "Go rest. I've got our safety for the day." She nodded, taking the journals with her. He nudged Clint. "We have a guest room that she made have a squishy bed with big, squishy pillows. It's a lot more comfy than the counter." He nodded, going up there. Xander cleaned up and made sure the security system was on. There was at least one agent having a bad day somewhere and they liked to take them out on him when the big things happened. They tried to take it out on Rupert once but the girls had turned them into broken bits and pieces. So he was less guarded and easier to complain at or threaten.
Xander answered the door when they knocked. "At least you didn't try to blow up the damn house," he said, not letting the agent inside.
"Where is your spouse?"
"Sleeping. Let her." The agent sneered. Xander pulled out his gun. "Really? We're going to do this now? I still have to finish calming down." The agent slowly backed up. "Shoo. Go. I'm not in the mood for this. If you're going to bitch for everyone, do it another day." He stomped off. Xander put his gun back and shut the door, locking it again and checking the security system. Someone had nicely tried to bypass it. Thankfully Xander had a demon-created, magic-based system installed as well. That one was flashing a 'artillery on premises' light. He turned on the higher level, which shorted out anything electrical and called the cops.
"This is 2840 Hill Street. My security system is apparently shorting out because it's saying there's a guy with artillery in my back yard. Yeah, that is kinda weird. I looked out there and there is some guy but I haven't seen any artillery. I think I would like an officer to show up, yes. Though, do tell the officer this house has guns. My wife is a federal agent. Thank you." He hung up and went to sit and watch the back yard through the big, screened in sun room. Natasha hated that room so it could be destroyed. He'd build her something she wanted. The agent sneered and shot the mini RPG at it. And it went up against the shields he had on the house. He grinned and waved. "Hi."
Officers showed up a few minutes later, multiple officers. They headed right for the guy. Apparently his old lady neighbor had seen them and called it in. One of them spotted him and he shrugged, pointing at the guy. He got up to open the back door. "I'm the owner. Well, the husband. It's in the wife's name for tax reasons."
"Sir, you're awfully calm."
"I did some training work in Africa for three years," he said with a grin. "I've seen worse and gutted it with a machete, Officer. I'm controlling my temper *beautifully* today. Before you have to clean up a mess." Someone broke in the front door with a battle yell and rushed in. Xander turned and shot him in the head. "Like that one." They rushed in to get him and check for others. "We have my wife sleeping off a hangover and her partner in the guest room," he said. They nodded and checked everywhere else. One leaned out of his office. Xander smiled. "Africa."
"Never mind. I don't want to know why you have swords, sir."
"Probably not." The officer snorted. They cleaned up the rest of the mess and he shook his head, signing the paperwork the insurance company would need. He leaned out and smiled and waved at the nice neighbor lady who used to be a spy. "Thanks. Didn't want to deal with them today."
"Of course, dear. How's Natasha?"
"Has a hangover." He grinned. "She's napping. We don't want to wake her up." She laughed and handed over a few cookies on a paper plate. "Cool! I needed lunch." He grinned. "Hopefully they'll stop later."
"Save at least one for Clint. I do adore that boy's skills." He grinned and nodded, taking them inside to put on the counter. Clint was in there. "Oh, there you are." She came in to kiss him on the cheek. "You follow in my footsteps very well, dear. Good job." She pinched him on the cheek and smiled. "Ask a few British agents. We all know." She kissed Xander on the cheek and left.
"Thanks," Clint said. "Was that...." The handler in there nodded, looking a tiny bit confused.
Xander smiled. "She's a great neighbor, even though she's not always over there. She makes excellent cookies too."
"Sure. The female sniper that I was taught was a goddess is your neighbor." He nibbled on a cookie. "She does make good ones. I need that recipe." He looked at the handler. "Nat's asleep."
"I figured that. The director wants you both in."
"For more mind wiping?" Xander asked dryly. "I think not."
"I think that's not your call, Mr. Harris," he said. "We can terminate you."
"Not really and not without your whole agency going down in flames. In multiple ways. See, the Underground told me about you guys. I've stockpiled some very nice files. Some you've found. Some you were meant to find. The rest.... Well, magically hidden is the nicest thing. Two are on other realms." The handler stared at him, mouth slightly open. "I do protect those who are mine." He smiled. "Secondly, if I'm killed by one of yours, the Underground that all owe me shit knows they can pay me back by avenging me for Natasha so she doesn't have to get too messy doing it." He nibbled on a cookie.
"Victoria though it was highly amusing when she heard me making those plans with a poker contact. And the greatest thing? There's ones that owe me money that know I've deferred payment for just such an emergency and they don't like you either. They do know not to touch Clint though. Nat would be really pissed off if he got hurt. I have orders in there not to touch you but I'm not sure if everyone's seen it yet." He took another nibble and stared at him. "Welcome to my playing field, Coulson. I'm not the nice fucking fairy." He walked off. "By the way, Clint, quit looking for the bathroom in the basement. You nearly ran into the artillery stash for upcoming apocalypse battles. I did not want to explain that." He grinned. "Nat would be mad if I didn't share." He made them coffee, handing them cups.
"Do British agents really know about all this?" Clint asked.
"Yeah. The Council was originally formed in England. Or at least that's where they've been for the last two thousand years. When they got blown up by the First Evil, we took over and made all that bullshit they had right. All the using girls as weapons, all that got stopped. We stopped all of it. Now they're girls who happen to have a destiny we can't get them free of. They learn to protect themselves at a special high school training camp sort of thing and then they go on with their lives. If they want to work as a slayer, there's mandatory physicals, evaluations, counseling when you need it, all that. And they only have to say 'I'm burnt out' to get off patrol. The girls went from weapons with gifts to girls with gifts who can be soldiers if they want."
"Still sucks," Clint said.
Xander nodded. "If we could get the girls unchosen, I would. All of us would. There's no way to take the markers from them. The mole's only an outer marker. There's ones in their blood, in their organs, in their soul. We can't block it, we can't remove it, and we've all tried to figure out how. The Powers That Be helped the original Council make the first slayer way back in cave days. All of them and all of us that work with them would love to take their duty from them. As is, we make it as good for them and as easy for them as we can."
"A year of patrol?" he asked.
"To teach you what you need to know to survive. There's a huge difference between knowing and *knowing*. In that case, they have to *know* to protect themselves. They do the year on and off through their training with some of the older girls. They can't even ask to go on patrol until they've graduated high school and have to be eighteen if they're not. A few might've tried to slip through otherwise. We make sure they know it's not glamorous. It's not fun, it's not partying, it's not happy making, it's dangerous, it's deadly, and they've had to sit through yearly remembrances and after each and every apocalypse battle we have another one. They know and the training we give them makes sure that even if they go on to college, have a family, all that, that nothing comes near them. Or they can handle it if it does."
"That's why you were in Africa," Coulson said. He had never thought Natasha's husband was this deep or that hard. Well, learn something new every day he guessed.
Xander nodded. "Someone had to go train the girls that were newly called in places that the old line couldn't get to. I taught them, I taught their families, often their whole village got a lot of the lessons. I gave them realistic ones for where they were and what was around them. I was also grieving Anya and dealing with things that were going to make me snap and kill people. It was healing and destroying and yet reforming all at once. Most of my girls there and the others I've trained are still alive. One of them died protecting her village when a nearby civil war got to them." He sipped his coffee. "I grieved for them and they were remembered, just like the others. Even if Buffy wasn't sure why."
"We'd like to keep that sort of knowledge down," Coulson said.
"Well, fuck you too," Xander said dryly. "Because the next one's in New York in six months." He smiled. "Have fun with that if you want to handle it instead of the girls. They'll take being stabbed by silver since they're allergic."
"We can't stop them before then?" Clint asked.
Xander nodded. "If I wanted to go to Asia, blow up their three compounds, take out all their families down to the eggs? Sure, you can do that. I don't kill kids. I don't kill innocent or peaceful things. Unfortunately their men are in bloodlust and want to take back over their rightful lands. Which the Native Americans drove them from. That's parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey had some of their outcast that were forming their own tribal group." He took another sip of his coffee. "Conditions where they're living are forcing them to act drastically. The old Council would've just sent people to firebomb them into extinction. We're not that way though."
"What if you leave the women and children?" Natasha asked as she came in.
"Then they could retaliate and it'd be right by their honor code and the honor code most demons adhere at least superficially to."
"That would be bad," she decided. She looked at the cookies. "Victoria?" Xander smiled and nodded. "I do adore her."
"Did you know who she was?" Clint asked.
"Yes. She's a charming older woman who used to be a sniper." She smiled. "We've talked a few times. She has some very nice recipes." She nibbled on a cookie and took Xander's coffee to sip. "Coulson."
"Fury wants you two in."
"And again, I'll have SHIELD blown open or up," Xander said with a grin. "Happily to protect my wife and her mind. I love her for her mind, why would I want someone to tamper with it."
"We can put you into custody," Coulson offered.
Xander laughed. "Sure, you do that. Then you tell the president why." Coulson blinked a few times. Xander looked around, spotting the phone in there on the table. He brought it over and put it on speaker then dialed.
"What?" a grumpy male voice demanded. "I thought I said no bothering me."
"Sure, I won't bother you. I'll just blow up SHIELD instead," he greeted.
"Please don't, Harris. Why would you this time? I know you nearly did after they tampered with your wife. It took us three damn weeks to calm you down and we had to bribe you then and get her help so she could loosen it if she found out about it."
"Same thing, different day. Their handler's here to bring them in. Just said I could go to jail. Fury sent them to tail us to the battle."
The president snorted. "Hell no. Speaking of, when's the next one?"
"Six months. New York. I've already got stuff gathering for it."
"I'll alert people so they can teach them to ignore it. Anything else cheery we have to talk about?"
"Just that. They seem to think that I'm easily cowed."
The president laughed. "Oh, no, no, not you, kid. Coulson."
"Yes, sir?" he asked.
"Leave Harris, his wife, his wife's partner, all of them be. You're in charge if SHIELD has to act with the Council. Now kiss and make up while I make your boss beg for belly scratches. I'm about to kick his ass anyway." He hung up.
"Sure," Xander decided, looking at him. "How do you feel about squealing teenage girls?"
"About like I was having dental work without gas," he admitted.
Xander grinned. "Welcome to the Council." He sipped his coffee and looked outside. "Victoria, they're heading for your yard!" he bellowed. Someone got shot. "Okay. She had it." He grinned at Natasha, taking a kiss. "Want to help me go over what I've got for New York later?"
"Where are you hiding weapons?" she asked.
"The basement's fake walls." He smiled. "We did renovate, remember? That way we have a game room." She huffed. He grinned. "It's also extra insulation."
She shook her head. "I can help later," she promised, taking another cookie to nibble. Clint got the last one. She looked at Clint then at Xander. "Are you better?"
"I have a headache," she admitted.
Xander kissed her on the cheek. "You drank most of a fifth of vodka on your own, dear." He walked off. "I have some leftover lasagna if anyone wants some."
"Please," Clint agreed. "It'll go well with the cookies." Xander let him scoop out some. Natasha got some. Coulson got some. He texted back a status report. His boss didn't immediately reply but when he did it said to leave them alone and they could liaison with the Council instead. It'd save Fury some headaches. Xander walked off, bringing back three large, slightly dusty books. He put them down in front of Coulson. "The history of the Slayers, the Council, and the usual protections we use around us." He sat down to sip more coffee.
Natasha looked at him. "You should probably eat as well."
"I never eat the day after a battle. I'm usually too wound up." He grinned. "I'll have the rest of the leftovers tomorrow if you leave me any." Her phone beeped and she groaned. "Oooh, shopping with Mercy?" he teased.
"I'll call her," she said, doing that. "I am barely home," she said in greeting. "Tomorrow?" She nodded. Their neighbor understood, she was retired SHIELD and CIA. She had known who Natasha was when they had moved there. "No, Xander and I are talking. Yes, about that thing that was on tv. How widespread was it?" She listened. "That's good to know." Xander shook his head, texting to Buffy's phone. He got back a simple 'I heard'. Natasha sighed. "No, I did not know until I saw it happening. I thought Xander worked with a private girls' school. Yes, we're chatting about that today. I'll tell him you thought he was hot with a sword." Xander grinned at her for that. "Thank you, Mercy. Call me tomorrow when you're free." She hung up. "It's hit the national news, it's on YouTube, it's all over the world."
"And half of Europe will shrug and go 'we already knew that'," Xander said dryly. "Though, the Vatican will bitch a lot. They always do."
"Not that unexpected," Clint said. He looked at his handler, who shrugged slightly. "So now what?"
"Now.... Natasha has to decide if this is too weird for her or if this'll mean less destressing time after you take her interesting places to kill people," Xander said. "And I need to quit freaking out that others know. I will run from press people if they show up." He sipped his coffee. "And then we'll figure it out and go from here I guess." He walked over to get more coffee.
"Xander, I am not that shallow," she said patiently.
He looked at her. "You've always come home to destress after missions. Is this going to change that?"
"I'd hope not." He relaxed slightly. She smiled back. "Get me more?" He refilled her coffee cup and then made another pot. He sat down beside her again. "Is that why you read the obituaries?"
"Yup. To make sure no one's going to come up." He took another drink. Someone outside had a crash, they heard it. He looked over Coulson's shoulder. "Great, news people." He grinned at his wife. "Wanna go on vacation? You, me, your bikini....."
She smirked but swatted him. "I doubt I'll be allowed right now."
Clint looked out there. "There's a local CNN affiliate."
"Perhaps that's not a bad idea," she decided. She looked at Clint.
"I can't go on your second honeymoon," he said dryly. "People might think I'm poaching from you, Nat."
Xander grinned. "I'm only worried if it's a torrid affair behind my back that has nothing to do with work."
"Nope. We didn't quite work that way."
Coulson's phone rang. "Fury wants us to report and bring Xander with us." The 'bring the little shithead with you' was clear.
"I need to turn on the second layer of the security system then," Xander said.
Natasha looked out back. "What happened to the back yard?"
"The guy with the mini RPG," Xander said. "The cops nicely got him when Victoria called them. I had them on their way, she apparently told them about the artillery." He finished his coffee. "Nat, want something specific from your closet?"
"I can pack for myself." She followed him upstairs to do that. She looked at his closet then at him. "Pick something nice so we can go to dinner? Perhaps in Boston?"
He kissed her hard and fast. "I like that idea." He pulled out a few things and then a joint weapons bag for them. She smiled at that thoughtful gesture, adding her own favorites from around the house. He got a few of his and his new handgun she had bought him for his birthday. They left with Coulson. Xander clicked on the security systems at the highest level and texted the security companies that they were having to leave for a few hours. That slayer-sensitive things were inside. So when a reporter tried to break in, with the demon security systems people's blessing, the trap was set and fried her.
Natasha looked at his phone's video display. "I do not like picking bits of people out of the carpet."
"I get a bonus for apocalypse battles." He smiled. "We can replace it with something you like more."
"I would like hardwood floors."
"If I can buy a robot vacuum."
"Fine." Xander leaned against her shoulder, making those decisions and typing in a note on his phone. It displayed on the front window. //All trespassers will be killed in varying, each more horrifying, manners. The first one was only electrocuted. The next.....// She laughed at that bit of drama. Someone tried to knock and got to scream as her hand was eaten by the gas that the floormat discharged. "When did you do that?"
"Um... six months ago. Why?" He smiled. "It'll only go on at the highest level of security, which we only use when we're not home." He typed out a //Did you think I was kidding// text message for the window and left it there. The camera people got backed down the street thanks to the neighbors calling in complaints. One officer stared at the window so Xander flashed a license number and a 'look it up, Officer'. He did and groaned. Xander wiped that message once he was looking it up and put back on the standard disclaimer that they were going to kill anyone who approached the house.
Fury sneered. "I'm sure you've been here."
"No, I had someone else rescue her for me. I wasn't dumb enough to walk in here and steal my wife back the last time." Natasha and Clint both stared at him. He grinned. "He ripped up the machine and put you in that closet."
"We wondered how we had gotten there," Clint quipped.
"Yes I had." She shook her head. "How do I break that?"
Xander smiled. "You should have already broken most of it."
She looked up, thinking back to that point that Xander's journal had mentioned. Then suddenly she realized she did remember. "I hated that shirt on you."
"Thankfully it got bezoar slime on it the next time I wore it." He settled into a seat next to his wife. "You wanted to complain?" he asked Fury.
"I don't like you," he sneered.
"Yippee fucking ki-yay, mother fucker," Xander misquoted blandly. Fury glared harder. Xander just grinned. "I deal with teenage girls all day long. Do you really think you're worse?" Fury huffed off. Xander grinned and waved at his back but Natasha made him put his hand down. He shifted to get comfortable. Rupert Giles came off the elevator. "Hey, Giles."
"Xander. Natasha." He blinked a few times. "This is interesting."
"They thought he was in a domestic terrorism group," Natasha said. "This is my partner Clint Barton, and our joint handler Phil Coulson. The president said you'd be working with him."
Xander was giggling. "I'm sure to some malls the girls are, but we're not usually that mean." He shook his head. "Wow, someone had the good drugs that day. Especially since Fury's known."
Coulson stiffened slightly. "You're sure?"
"Who do you think meets with us each year?" Giles said.
Xander nodded, grinning at him. "Methinks the man doth protest his jealousy a lot." He kicked out a chair for Giles. "When is it?" he asked quietly.
"Tomorrow night." He patted him on the arm. "Buffy is most peeved."
"She can be peeved. I don't care."
"Good point. Though she heard that your wife did go ask Lorne at Caritas about what was going on first." She nodded she had.
Xander smiled. "He can read your future when you sing. That's why he owns the bar."
"That's a weird talent but probably helpful," she decided. She looked at Giles. "What can I do to help?"
"The girls could use more role models who have the same level of skills they do," Giles said. "More women to look up to."
"Instead of Xena," Xander said dryly.
"Yes, instead of that horribly inaccurate show," Giles agreed. "And their later preachy attitude that Xander tends to spar out of them." Xander nodded.
"I can easily do that. I'm fairly well skilled in many weapons and I'll gladly learn how to use a sword. I know how to use knives and machetes."
Giles smiled. "Then they'd like that and perhaps it would keep down some of the pouting about Xander having married someone not in the life as it were."
"If I can help, let me know," Clint said.
"He uses a bow, Giles. A regular one but we have some girls that would like to flirt with him while he straightens out their aims since I can't."
"I can do that. I do with rookie agents," Clint agreed. Coulson smiled at him slightly. He grinned back. "You could probably help too."
"The administrative end is usually fairly flowing," Giles said. "Anytime I have to make new forms Xander remakes them on me or fixes old ones to fit better. It's kept down the paperwork that the old Council used to require monthly to a manageable level."
Xander nodded. "Because I end up doing all that stupid paperwork. Speaking of, did you talk to the accountant?"
"Yes. Yesterday before the battle. Thank you for noticing she hadn't switched things over yet."
"I think we need an audit by an outsider," Xander said. "The girls can't be spending that much by what I've seen on the receipts, even if I add in twenty percent for snacks they didn't get receipts for. There's no way that each and every single girl spent sixteen-hundred bucks on school clothes."
Giles blinked a few times. "I had no idea it was that bad." Xander nodded. "Did you send me anything on it?"
"Twice and an email that Willow admitted she diverted. We have got to make the chain of paperwork command clear, Giles."
"I shall later tonight. That is unreal. I gave the girls three hundred each for school shopping. Not that much." Xander nodded. "I'll have someone I trust come in to audit it." Xander grinned. "Where do you think it's going?"
"Magical expenses and research have both went over budget. They may be trying to siphon it. I have no idea *why* since they're both sitting on their butts reading old dusty books for a living."
"Oh, dear. I'll have someone look into that. Perhaps an official one by the IRS?"
"They do hate us too," Xander reminded him. "So anything we've done wrong, they'll find."
"Which may be a benefit this time and they have been pushing to do a full audit."
"Hell, give me someone nice and I'll toss books at their heads so they can figure it out."
"I shall talk to them tomorrow." He made himself that note on some paper in his pocket. Xander stared at him. "I've been a bit forgetful recently."
"Which means someone's doing memory spells," Xander said bluntly. "Which means I get to hold a good, old fashioned witch burning. Tonight." Giles shuddered but nodded. "Which one?"
"I'm not certain."
"We can figure that out. I have a poker contact who can tell who did the spells and why." Giles patted him on the arm. Xander texted her and got one back. He held up his phone.
"Oh, dear," he muttered, taking off his glasses to clean them. "She needs to go back to Devon."
"I think they're the root of the problem," Xander said bluntly. "They hate how it is now. I've caught more than one complaining about the proper old ways." He stared at him. "They can *all* go back to Devon."
"I can arrange that." Xander nodded. "I know you're my very militant second-in-command. We can figure this out."
Xander smiled. "Yes, I can." He called someone. "Buffy, Xander. Actually, no, at SHIELD. Giles has memory spells on him. Someone's been cooking the money books. Hillia said it was a certain redhead and the coven has been nagging the girls about the 'proper old ways' again. What do you want to watch me do about it?" He listened to her choke. "Yup. Putting down Sargi because she's not willing to spend her life being chased by vampires while she limps. Among others. Nagging one girl that she's wearing pants on patrol. The girl shot back that she didn't want to be attacked and raped by a vampire so pants were more reasonable. I slugged the witch. Really, you don't remember that?" he asked dryly. "You yelled for ten minutes about it until you heard why then told the witches to go home." He listened. "Exactly. Which is why I'm worried. Hey, I'm having someone come in and audit. No, Buffy, I'm the second-in-command. Not Willow." He looked at Giles.
He took the phone. "Buffy, he is the second-in-command. Because Willow would never be able to hold the girls and the Council together if she were in charge. Things would start to crumble off to the sides. Exactly. So yes, I am ordering an audit. And that's a memory spell someone's doing, dear." He hung up. He went slack jawed but Xander pulled out something and snapped it, waving it under his nose. Giles went stiff and then winced, rubbing his forehead. He looked at Xander. "Do handle that for me. I can't really harm the old dears."
"I can do that," he promised. "They will go away and leave the girls alone. Permanently. Slayers don't need more shit on their plates." He texted someone else. "Yes, I know that blows that favor. Thank you," he muttered as he typed that in. The phone binged with a 'handled' answer. He put his phone back up. Fury was staring at him in horror. He grinned. "Memory spells are not legal or good magic. I'm having an I'll be damned flashback to Willow." His phone rang with a 'how dare you' from Willow, then one from Buffy, then one from Buffy saying all the witches were being driven out. Xander suggested she do the magic remover around all the slayers and herself. She sent back a 'fine' and did herself by what she wrote. Five minutes later she was screaming about wanting to kill the witches. Xander smiled and sent back an 'I knew that, that's why I killed a poker debt' answer. Then his phone went back into his pocket. "Handled."
Giles patted him on the arm. "Thank you, Xander."
Fury shut his mouth. "I didn't think you were that cold, Harris."
Xander shrugged. "You don't know me very well, Fury, and that's your own fault. Seriously, you thought I had let someone else rescue my girls?" He stared at him. "I've seen your dossier on me. As of six months ago it was pretty pathetic." Giles cleared his throat. "Really, it was. It didn't even have anything back in high school, nothing. They didn't talk to anyone in the Underground. Had almost nothing right, including my birthday." He shrugged. "I guess it's nice being beneath your notice. Means I was doing the job correctly."
Willow appeared, already huffy. "How dare you, Xander! They are not being evil!"
Natasha shot her with a tranquilizer dart. "I do not believe your input was asked for," she said as the witch struggled. "Nor does anyone believe that memory spells are a good idea." Giles got up to bring her home and then came back. She blinked at him. "How did you do that?"
"Magic." He smiled. "Willow and the coven set up a spell."
"That's how I get to work most days," Xander quipped. "I go to the gym, leave from there, come back to there, do my other workout, then come home." Natasha gaped at him. He smiled. "I like my muscles."
"As do I. We should spar."
"Okay. I'm not super great at it. I'm better with a weapon in hand."
She smiled. "We can make sure of it." He grinned back.
"Damn mushy shit," Fury muttered. "Stop it!" Xander stared at him. "I can have your marriage dissolved."
"I can knock her up." Fury gaped then glared at him. He grinned. "I can also recruit." He looked at her then at Clint. "Twenty grand more a year, only a few battles a year, helping the girls get ready that need it, and sometimes being a big brother or sister. Patrols if you opt into them once we know you can stake and handle one."
"If I retire from here, ask me again," Clint said.
Giles smiled. "We do have a very nice package, including on-site medical treatment for all injuries, past and present. We also offer a slight clothing allowance and not many clothing rules around the campus."
"It's mostly listed as 'wear something and if it's too slutty and you get pounced it's your own fault'," Xander quipped with a grin.
"I like that one," Natasha admitted. "So you can wear your sloppy jeans?"
"Thank you for straightening out his horrid fashion sense," Giles said with a smile for her. She smirked back. "The girls appreciated it too."
"They're teenage girls. If they're having butt love for me that's fine," Xander said. "As long as they don't try to act on it."
She stared at him. "No children yet."
He tipped his head. "Whenever you're ready, Nat." He grinned. "Though, we need to have all boys."
She nodded. "I can see that." She looked at his bosses again. "Some day I will take him up on that offer."
Fury scowled at them. "The president hates them."
"He hates me more for being Russian," she quipped.
"And me having been in a circus," Clint agreed. "He keeps calling me that archer hobo."
Xander grinned. "We have a beautiful campus I've been overseeing the restoration on in England. Very old estate, kinda in the middle of nowhere. The nearest village is twenty miles away. Slight hills, some farm land between us. Great farmer's market. Huge library. Looks like an ancient college campus because I picked the former old campus instead of their newer one that we have to clean up. It'll be ready in six weeks."
Giles cleared his throat. "I'd like to tour it."
Xander looked at him. "Then go to England, Giles. No one's stopping you from taking a vacation."
"Good point. I'll go over when you do for the final walk-through." Xander smiled. "Of course, your spouse can come and if her partner needs to for her safety he can as well. They can look at the new range building you had set up and tell me how outlandish it is."
"Only slightly." He grinned at his wife. "Three level range, all underground for muffling. One has a walk-through cemetery for patrol training. One has a specific moving target crossbow range. One level only has stationary targets for beginning lessons."
"Quit flirting with her," Fury ordered. "And Barton before I fire them both and make them your personal pets."
"I don't think Natasha would wear a collar," Xander said with an evil smirk for his wife. "You'd look a bit weird. That's why you don't wear that one necklace, right?"
"Usually. It's a bit tight." She patted him on the hand. "Not even for an assignment."
"Me either," Clint agreed. "Not into the whole submissive thing, sir."
"I'll try to keep the girls from pouncing you," Xander said with a grin for him.
Fury huffed off. "And they keep trying to save the fucking world," he complained.
"What is this 'trying' he talks of?" Xander asked Coulson. "I didn't see him defeating an invasion yesterday with a bunch of girls."
Coulson nodded to keep Xander and his boss from beating the director. "There is that. How many have there been?" It was always best to gather information when you had the chance. Right now, he had them willingly telling them things that no one could get into.
"Almost every single spring but every three or four years is a bad one," Xander said. Giles nodded. "This was a pretty bad one. The last really bad one was the First Evil, which sank Sunnydale."
"We cannot get into those files."
Xander dialed the phone on the table. "Hey, Bill, Xander. I'm reading Natasha, her partner, and her handler into Council things since they found out yesterday. Can you please release those records to Coulson? Thanks, man. Yeah, the wife was there. I know, she looked super hot with the blade. I nearly drooled on her and pounced in the middle of the battle but I had to go set the explosives instead. Thanks, Bill. Yeah, he's here. I've got the alarm system for the house on. If you need to go raid it to safe keep it for the New York battle coming up, let me know where it is. Yeah, that's all that. Yes, the stash in the basement, not the stuff in the attic. The attic are my babies and we'll come back to clean that up later if you want. Thanks, man." He hung up. "He said give him a few minutes and he'll release those files to you, Coulson."
"Thank you." He sat down. "What's in your attic?"
"Babies and toys." He grinned. "I love toys."
"Xander," Giles groaned, shaking his head.
Xander grinned. Then at his wife. "Did you remember to get more bullets?"
"I ordered some. They should be in tomorrow. We can check on the way home."
"I'm having a horrible idea about a future assignment to the middle of nowhere," Clint said quietly to Natasha. "While someone talks to your spouse."
Xander grinned. "And then like in Pokemon, a wild group of teenagers with a 'tude appears," he said quietly. "Beyond that, there's worse things to have happen as long as she's safe."
She stared at him. "I can handle myself."
"Of course you can. I've always adored that about you." He grinned. "Still, no tampering allowed. Or I get to go from mildly annoying to full out evil bitch."
Giles shuddered. "The last time you said that you nearly blew up a country full of people who desired your company in the wrong way," Giles said.
Xander smirked. "I've said it a few other times. Including to Willow. She thought I was joking. Her stint stuck in that bar in Arizona....." He grinned.
"Xander," Giles chided, pulling off his glasses to stare at him. "That was incredibly mean. She came out crying and had nightmares for months."
"Then she probably shouldn't have threatened to harm my wife by making her forget us."
"What bar?" Coulson asked.
"Willow, poor little lesbian, wannabe pacifist most of the time, Willow," Xander said with a happy grin. "Got stranded somehow in a bar in Arizona. A gun runner's bar in Arizona that had a lot of animal heads on the walls, thought lesbians were only for fun and to prove they really wanted a guy after all, full of a biker gang." Coulson stared. He grinned. "She knows not to do memory spells, that they're wrong. It only stranded her there for two weeks. She had to get a new ID made. Hers somehow fell into a shredder. So they had to send her a new ID, new bank cards, all that."
Natasha stared at him. "Mentally torturing but she was safe?"
"Yeah, two of my ex's were there and they had heard me rant and complain about her. They were more than happy to meet her." Giles nearly slammed his forehead onto the table at that announcement. Xander smirked. "They had some fun screwing with her. Though one pulled out a sex tape or two to share with her when she told them she knew me and I wasn't their type."
"The ones in the closet?" Clint asked. "She told me about them, I did not look," he noted.
"Yeah, she stole them on her way out of town and handed them to us at the reception. Said it was better if no one else could see those. Then she glared at me."
"If I remember right, I got kissed on the cheek and he called over to Buffy that she was back," Natasha said.
"Mental damage does last longer than physical," Xander said with a sweet, innocent, good boy grin.
Clint got up and walked off laughing.
"That's how we mostly feel as well," Giles sighed. "Please calm down, Xander." His phone and then Xander's phone beeped. "Someone's in your house." Xander left and came back. Suddenly the two wannabe agents in his house left with nothing and the real agents got there in time to kill them. "Who is that?" he asked, watching the video feature.
"Our neighbor, Victoria. She's a really nice lady. Bakes great cookies." He grinned.
Giles stared at him. "What else does she do?"
"Used to be a sniper goddess?" He smirked. "I adore Victoria. If I ever have to adopt one of the babies that are future slayers, she's going to be an auntie."
Natasha looked at him. "Is that likely to happen?"
"It's nearly happened once, before we got married, and the others had better relatives. That one had a suddenly appearing out of jail biological father. Thank you for that, Giles."
"I can only imagine how hyper a child of yours will be, Xander. I'm saving my sanity when they use the hallway as a pingpong ball court."
A new agent came stomping off the elevator. Clint was behind him and shrugged at their looks his way. "What did you think you were doing?" the new agent demanded.
Xander looked at him. "Be a bit more precise please. What did we think we were doing when and how?"
"That ...." He pointed. "That *thing* in LA."
"You'd rather have this realm overtaken by people-eating demons?" Xander asked. The man's face was turning puce so it was probably a bad thing. "Dude, you might want to learn to meditate away that blood pressure problem of yours before you die of it." He stared at him. "We did what we had to do to protect your ungrateful ass," Xander said bluntly, staring at him when he had huffed. "We could let you be overrun and just protect ourselves and our families but most of us aren't that way. We did tell all the people we are required to inform.
"They did tell the LAPD so they could help us clear the area subtly the night before and to divert traffic that day. Did you want us to pop up on national television beforehand and go 'hi, we're the Council and there's going to be a demon apocalypse next week'? Because we could have and then not been believed until it happened. Then we'd have to deal with even *more* press problems than we've already got. If you didn't hear first, that's not our problem. We told the two generals, the president, and the head of the FBI, as we're required to do. We gave them nearly a month's warning when we found out about it. If you want, we can tell you about the next one."
"Yes, I do need to know," he ground out.
"Okay. It's in six months here in New York City. The demons coming are allergic to silver from what we've heard. They're also fairly thick skinned and pretty damn hard to stab so we've got some silver shooting weapons being worked on. The first batch of which is now being hidden from my house." The man whimpered, sitting down. "Now you know so you can get your agents up to speed on how to hit fast little things with a silver coated blade. Any other questions about them? On those you can take chest shots as they're allergic and will explode from it as long as you get it inside their skin."
"Hit whatever you can?" Clint asked. Xander nodded. "Would arrows work?"
"You'd have to have some great tension to get through their skins. It's like eight inches of leather." Clint winced. "But yeah, if you can arrange that, jump in." He nodded with a grin. "I'll be firing off specially made silver dust and lead ball canisters to get them. Hopefully they'll explode all over the slayers instead of me. Giles, remind them they'll want bad clothes that day from all the slime."
"I can do that," he agreed, making himself that note.
"Also, Georgina's mom goes up to trial next week."
"I'll call the poor dear tonight. Make sure she's all right. Have you?"
"Yes. I talked to her yesterday before the battle. I called most of my girls." Giles smiled and nodded. He looked at the agent who was now whimpering instead of angry. "Why are you blaming us for protecting your dumb ass? If you're really certain you don't want us to, we can stop doing it."
"Don't you dare," Coulson said calmly. "We can find and/or make weapons that will complement yours during that battle. If we can see one of yours?"
"Sure." He grinned. "They're at Victoria's. We can pop by and get one so you can see and she can warn her people. Just in case since they have a clan of them there too."
Natasha nodded. "I'm sure she'd adore finding new weapons." She patted Xander on the hand. "We are not allowing you to go into battle with teenage girls. We can help."
Xander kissed her soundly. "I'd love that." She smirked. "Bathroom? Or do I have to ask Vulcan lady for permission?" She pointed. He went that way with Clint showing him where it was. It was tucked into the other side of the elevator.
Fury looked over. "I hate your second-in-command. I would suggest you fire him but the president made it very clear that I'd be taking his ass in instead."
Giles smirked. "We do adore Xander, even when he's bouncy and on a kick to cause mental distress. I would be quite lost without Xander."
Fury grunted something rude and turned back around. "Get that strange agent off my deck and send him to cry on his mommy, Agent Hill. Coulson, you're now the guy who liaisons with the Council. Give me a report in a week."
"Yes, sir. The press attention?"
"Not like we can mind wipe all of the US," he complained. "As much as I'd like to."
Natasha looked at him. Then at Coulson. "We can have tea tomorrow, Mr. Giles?"
"That would be lovely, Natasha." He smiled. "The girls would adore that as well. Bring Xander and yourself, and your partner if you wish as well." She nodded. "Let me get home." Willow appeared and took him with her. "Willow, that was most rude," floated out of his empty spot.
Xander came out of the bathroom. "You guys are so Star Trek even in the bathroom. Wow." He looked at Coulson. "I take it something was decided?"
"We're having tea tomorrow."
"Cool. We're in Cleveland." He smiled.
"I can be there." He shook his hand. "Natasha?"
"I'm going to the hotel with my spouse. We clearly have things to talk about." Coulson nodded, wiping his hands off on his pantsleg when they were gone.
"He washed 'em," Clint said dryly. "The towel dispenser's not working again."
"That figures. It hardly ever does." He looked at him. "Coming for tea?"
"Yup, because teenage girls shouldn't have to defend the earth."
Coulson nodded. "That's my feeling as well." They walked off making notes and plans. Coulson had never really appreciated what Natasha saw in Xander; he had always thought him to be a middle management sort. Now he knew that Xander Harris was a bit dangerous, a bit weird, a bit stronger than he expected, and he had no compunction about screwing up people that bothered his claimed pack. The CIA files were very informative. They had apparently missed a lot of things about the Council. He sent a copy to Natasha for her reading and then he and Clint settled in to make plans on how to handle a house full of bouncy teenage girls. It wasn't their usual battle.
Xander looked around the heli carrier's deck then at his wife. "Need us?"
"We may," she said quietly. Xander hugged her, making her relax. "It's ...."
"We've dealt with people like Loki before, Nat," he said quietly. "Remember Willow?" She nodded, swallowing hard. "Clint's okay?" She nodded. "Okay then we'll go kick some ass as soon as we can. It's never helpless until the last slayer calls it quits and dies." He stared at her. "Remember, you live by the slayer code and the first rule is 'don't die' and then it's 'do everything you can to kick ass while following rule one'." She smiled and nodded. "Let me call Buffy. Are you guys going?"
"We are. We're tracking him."
"I'm going to New York. Willow's apprentice said there's some strange energy there." She nodded. He left thanks to the witches.
She went to talk to the others. "Scan New York, someone at the Council said there's an energy buildup there."
Tony Stark looked over. "You know someone at the Council?"
"Yes. I do. I'm married to them." Stark gaped, staring at her. He hadn't expected that after her undercover stalking him. She smirked a tiny bit. "They're going to help if they can."
Stark nodded. "That's good." They looked at the energy readings. That was bad and it was being narrowed down to Stark Tower so Stark headed off. The others followed. They could handle this.
Xander watched the aliens appear and called. "Buffy, me. Alien invasion of New York. Flying mostly, but not all. Huge amount, non human, Loki's in charge of them." He listened. "Please. Yup, she's heading where I am. Downtown, baby. All over Manhattan. Thanks." He hung up and called the NYPD. "This is Xander Harris, I'm with the Watchers Council. You guys need to shut down Manhattan for an emergency invasion by aliens. I'm standing here watching it start, Captain. No, I'm not drunk. Look out your window toward the river." He hung up on the shouting. The girls appeared and dove in to help. "Move the civilians if you can," he ordered. "Any of the uglies hit the street, they go under it."
"Yes, Xander," the slayers agreed.
"We've got SHIELD people coming." A few looked at him and he smirked. "Yes, including the wife and Clint so you can hit on him." They dove in harder and faster. They adored Natasha and Clint, kept trying to keep them from going back to work. They could definitely help their idols. The ones who had Clint's face on their cuddle pillows would get to sigh over him and maybe pinch him again. It was a pretty good day to be a slayer, even with an invasion of the earth happening.
Mr. And Mrs. Harris Go To LA.