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TJ looked at Xander that night. "This is really weird. There's no magical anything going on, right?"

Xander gave him a dirty look. "I don't use magic, TJ. If it's weird to you that's because you dated jackasses before and I'm only halfway to that point." He ate a bite of dinner. They had ordered from a chinese place he knew about.

TJ thought about it while he was chewing. "I've never just done this domestic stuff right off the bat."

"It's that feeling of normalness that you haven't had," Xander said dryly. "I wondered a few times if I was cursed when I settled in here. I may look up to a few comic book characters for inspiration but suddenly having a *home* felt really weird." He put down his fork. "I had two different magic users I've worked with test me to make sure someone hadn't blessed or cursed me to find a home but lose it a few days later."

"Are you not from a home?" he asked cautiously.

Xander stared at him. "There's a reason I know how to handle any drunken moments or any OD situation, TJ," he said dryly. "I come from a family of them. Even though Sunnydale enabled them it wasn't a lifestyle I wanted to live."

"Enabled?"

"They let my uncle keep driving an ambulance even during his thirteen suspended licenses for DUI, in four years." He ate another bite of vegetable, staring at him. "That's why I don't hardly drink."

"I do," TJ said.

"Sometimes it's a good thing. Not always."

"It's the lube for a good night."

Xander smirked. "Not always. I find a lot of things more fun without alcohol involved."

"I find it easier to pick up people."

Xander shook his head. "I can hunt, stalk, and capture prey without it." He grinned. "I did pretty good the other night, right?"

"You did," TJ agreed. He ate another bite. "You'd have a problem with me drinking."

"Probably. Then again I can make it so it doesn't affect you but can't stop it doing things to your liver if you wanted. That would break the addiction cycle at least."

TJ dropped his fork. "It's a problem I have," he said firmly, staring at him. "But I'd hate that."

"Okay. If you want support, you'll ask." Xander shrugged. "That's a personal decision that only you can make. I can only be supporting boy." He ate another bite, then swallowed quickly. "We all have our vices, TJ. Some of them are harmful and some of them aren't good for us."

"Then what's yours?"

"I still have to go hunt vampires now and then."

TJ slumped, shaking his head. "I can't figure out why you would want to."

"Because no one else is taking care of them and if I don't, some other kid will someday become me."

TJ considered it then nodded. "I can see that. Have you taught anyone how to hunt?"

"No one asks me for that. The majority of other hunters are like jocks, they think with their shotguns instead of their brains. They consider me a traitor for leaving Sunnydale. Frankly, I consider them annoying bait."

TJ nodded. "That's sad. We shouldn't be protected by airheads and jocks."

"No, but we are," he sighed. "Unfortunately. And we have one in a few weeks." He smirked, eating a bite of dinner. "I'll be there helping but I'll show you where you can hide in my safe room during it if you want."

"Yeah, I... I don't think I want to see that going on."

"It'll be huge enough to be on the news," Xander admitted. "We just hope others jump in."

"I can tell my mother."

"There's a few dates they could do it. If we knew exactly when, we'd be warning people. I've handed over what I've heard. The official protectors of LA have hopefully spread it to others." He sighed and ate another bite. "That means I need to sharpen swords tomorrow. Want to help?"

"I have no idea how to do that."

"You can do it with a whet stone or you can do it with a grinder," Xander said. "Grinder's faster but you have to be more careful about angles. Doing it with a whet stone can take hours though. Since I'll be bringing extras, I'll use the grinder tomorrow."

"I can sit and watch."

"Sure." Xander grinned. "You can help me pick out what I'm wearing to the invasion."

"Yeah, I can do that. Do you think they told someone like an agent?"

"I'd hope so. I don't know that Angel wouldn't." He shrugged. "No clue."

"Great."

Xander nodded. "A lot." They got back to eating then Xander got them a glass of ice tea each to go to the armory. He opened a door. "This is the safe room," he said, looking at him. "It's got a hotline to the security guards and a monitor that leads back to the security system."

TJ looked then nodded, following him to the swords. "Can't you use guns this time?"

"I'm hoping so but it's easier to carry a sword. I'll be bringing a few guns with me just in case they are useful. It's a beheading situation most likely."

TJ shuddered. "I can't even imagine how much that must screw with you."

"Like any other combat service," Xander said with a shrug. "You do what you gotta do when it's you or them." He took a kiss with a smile. "That's why we come home to rewards like you."

"I'm not a reward," he snorted.

Xander smirked. "I couldn't handle a pure, happy, clingy reward, TJ. One that's got some personality and flaws and character is always better."

TJ actually blushed but moved to watch what he pulled down to pack for the emergency. "If it's not soon when it is?"

"Next two months. They need a specific type of sacrifice and if they can't get it they can't do it."

"Can we stop that?"

"Angel said he's trying."

"Oh. Who's Angel?" Xander pulled up the hunter site on the tablet down there, letting TJ read it. TJ burst out laughing. "Seriously? It's like a teen novel."

"Should've lived next to it," Xander said dryly, looking at him. "He lost his soul for a bit and stalked us all. It was a creepy mind game. He killed Willow's fish and Giles' girlfriend."

TJ shook his head, looking up Xander on that site. There was a huge warning at the top that Xander knew about the site, had edited his own biography since it was wrong, and was considered a part-time enemy. "They really hate you."

Xander looked and nodded. "Yup." He looked at his bullets. "I need to have more picked up." He made a note for himself. "There's a site that has a better look at my past but it's by one of the wannabe bad guys in Sunnydale." He got into that one for him and went back to picking weapons. TJ hopped up on the worktable to read it over, frowning at what he saw. Xander shrugged when TJ glanced at him. "It happened. I escaped."

"Yeah, you did." He went back to reading. No wonder Xander counted him as nearer to a reward. With his family he would've too. They went up to bed a bit later and TJ let Xander cuddle. He was good at cuddling, it was nice. Very comforting.

***

Xander was getting coffee downtown on the day that the invasion might happen. That way he was closer. Sure enough, they were right. Xander called Angel's hotel. "It's Harris, it's starting. The Wolfram and Hart building is glowing a fetching shade of blood red." He hung up and finished his coffee, buying a cookie on the way to his car. He drove off, parking in a parking garage, then got out to grab his battle harness.

It held two swords, his axe, and a few shotguns, plus extra pockets of shells. Xander tucked a box into his jeans pockets and closed the trunk, putting the keys under the bullets. He walked out, getting some bad notice. An officer came running over so Xander grabbed his arm and pointed. "That's going to explode. We're going to have a problem very shortly," he said bluntly, staring at him. "Of the invasion sort. Apparently no one got to stop their sacrificing stuff." The officer called that in. Sure enough, within ten minutes demons were streaming out of the building. Xander moved in to help stop some of them. "I'm not an army," he complained. "I should not be doing this on my own."

"You have help coming, sir," the officer yelled. "How do you handle them?"

"Beheading works on most things."

"Sure." Agents screamed up with sirens blaring and jumped in to help. Then Angel's people got there to help. The officer stared then at the agents, who shrugged.

"They're your protection team," Xander called. "This is their job, I'm just temping for the apocalypse battle."

"Sure," an agent called. "We've got military help coming."

Xander pushed his sweaty hair back, looking at him. "Let's hope they can shut the portal."

"How do we do that?" another agent shouted.

"We have someone going in to lay the charge," Angel yelled. "Don't shoot the fire heads, they take silver."

Xander waved a hand and pulled one of his swords to handle them for the agents. "This is a mild trickle, guys. Let's work on this?" They nodded, LAPD showing up to help. More hunters showed up with them. Xander looked at one. "Don't shoot the fire heads, they take silver. So does the blue guy that's *helping* *us*!" One of them nodded. "There's a lot of the peaceful community *helping*!"

"Got it," someone yelled. "How do we take it down?"

"Application of explosives," Xander said. "To the boundary but not the portal itself. Or else it'll warp and cause us more problems." He moved closer. "This is just a trickle, the portal's barely open. The visions said it'd be like Niagra when they got it fully open." The hunters winced. "Exactly. That's a silver," he said with a point. "That's a lead, that's a killed by wood. And I've got a few extra bullets." He killed the next one coming their way. Suddenly the building shuddered and twisted. "Shit, they hit the portal and not the boundary," he sighed. "Oh, damn it!" He looked around. "Angel! They hit the portal instead!"

He looked and moaned. "We can handle it."

Xander winced, rubbing his forehead. "Someone blow the damn building! All the way gone! That way we can kill the things coming through!" The agents were calling that in and the military people were responding to do that for them. Sure enough, the portal was stuffed with something stuck while trying to come through. It finally made it and the team in there blew it up but the rest of that plane came through. "Not peaceful!" he yelled. "They're not peaceful! It's a ruse!" The ones in front killed the agent trying to make peaceful gestures so they had a new battle on their hands. Someone was working on the portal to close it. It shut to that realm and the original one popped back.

"It's like call waiting," a hunter complained. "And there's the falls!"

Xander backhanded one demon then went back to fighting. He looked at the agents around him, shaking his head. "Pray later."

"We might not make it to later."

Xander stared at that one. "If I could do this at fifteen without training, you can do it now, dude."

"Point." They dove back in. That agent got injured but removed by the military's people. He looked at them. "They're all suicidal."

The medic taking care of him shook his head. "Sometimes you do what you have to do so you survive. Just like combat vets do." They got more out of the way and more military groups showed up.

Xander stopped a soldier, pointing. "Break the frame of the portal but not the portal itself or it'll reset itself again."

"Got it. Who're you, sir?"

"Harris. I retired from the Sunnydale team."

"Got it." He called in that order and they could handle that. They had explosives experts on hand to blow up whatever else needed to be gone. The portal got ended. The last few demons got mopped up but everyone was exhausted. The soldiers looked around. "We have medics over there," that one called over his loudspeaker. "To the right, people, and we can treat any injuries. We only need to know that you saved us, not anything personal information wise." Most of the hunters went that way. "Army teams, Marine teams, go building by building to find any survivors and civilians."

"There are peaceful species," Xander said loudly. "Do not harm them, they were helping us."

"I'm told there's peaceful species," the soldier said. "Do not harm them. Only take out the ones we've been fighting for the last few hours." The soldiers nodded. "Navy teams, go search that building, find any survivors we can charge, make sure that portal cannot be put back together. Brass is on the way in." They went to do that. He looked at Xander. "There's peaceful species?"

"There's a lot of peaceful species. They immigrated for the most part but that got them away from civil wars, droughts, and to somewhere they could raise a family safely. There's some that were naturally already here but they don't tend to come to LA. London... but not LA."

"Good to know. Who would we talk to so we could find out about them?"

"Rupert Giles taught me." He walked off.

"Medics, sir."

"I'm good. I do my own. Thanks." He grinned. "I'm a good boy that way."

One of the medics got in his way. "We can stitch you without doing anything else, sir."

"I got exposed to mermaids when I was younger, Captain. A lot of docs are really freaked out when I have spots of blackish blood here and there."

"I don't care, sir. It's just blood and I'll be wearing gloves. We treated the non-humans."

"Okay, I can let you do my stitches for me. Thanks."

"Welcome, sir." He led him that way, settling him on a bed to help him out of the leather weapons harness and his torn shirt. "Local?"

"I never use it," Xander admitted, looking at him. The medic nodded, putting on clean gloves to get into the stitching. Xander was doing the one on his own leg.

Buffy stomped over. "Why were you there, Xander?"

He stared at her. "Because it's an apocalypse battle," he said bluntly. "Why wouldn't I be here for an invasion, Buffy?" She glared. He stared back. "Do not take your post-battle stress out on me. I will beat you back, by hand if necessary." She stepped back, shaking her head. "I have my own stress I need to break, Summers. Go deal with your own however, but out of my face."

"Fine!" She stomped off.

Xander looked at the medic. "She thinks I'm *normal*."

"Normal guys don't use swords, sir. I consider you as weird as any comic book character come to life." Xander smiled and got back to his cleaning up.

***

TJ nearly pounced him when he walked in. "Are you all right?"

"Lots of stitches, but otherwise I'm good." He dropped the harness on the couch then flopped down beside it. He pulled TJ into his lap, cuddling him. "This is better than Buffy bitching at me in the medic's tent."

TJ shifted to look at him. "Need something for the pain?"

Xander stared at him. "I don't ever take it, TJ. I'm not used to it because I never had it. They took out my appendix and I didn't get anything." TJ shuddered. "I'm fine. I'd like to soak but I can't with the stitches. I'll take a washcloth bath later. Can I cuddle?"

"Yeah, you can cuddle." TJ let him, petting over Xander's hair until he fell asleep. TJ had made soup for dinner so that was good and he could help Xander calm down later. It's what boyfriends did as far as he knew. Though if he ever met Xander's parents or friends, they were toast. TJ answered the phone when it rang. "Hello?" He listened. "No comment, Marjorie. He's resting and calming down. Don't bother him right now please." He hung up but put the phone off the hook. Xander blinked at him. "Reporter."

"Pity." He laid down, pulling TJ with him.

"I made vichyssoise for dinner."

"Translation from the fancy word?" Xander asked quietly.

"It's a cold potato soup."

"Oh, cool. Later?"

"It's in the fridge and it's eaten cold." Xander nodded, letting himself drift off again. TJ settled in to be held and be comforting. What had been on the tv had been horrible but apparently it was worse than they showed.

***

Xander was out two days later, ignoring the people shouting at him. He glared at one that got in his way over the top of his sunglasses. "Watch me have something eat you," he said quietly. They backed up quickly. Xander walked into the building. He took off his sunglasses. "I got called to talk about the battle three days ago?" he asked dryly.

"Yes, sir, I'll call them down."

Xander nodded, getting through the metal detector then settling down to wait. It took nearly twenty minutes for an agent to come down. "You wanted to talk about that?" he asked, standing up to shake his hand.

"Who the hell are you?" he demanded.

"Xander Harris. Formerly of Sunnydale." He stared at the agent. "Are you not the one that wanted to talk about that battle? I could be being babied by my new boyfriend instead of this."

"No, we wanted to talk about that, sir. Why didn't you tell us?"

"I told the LA protection team. If they didn't tell you that's not my fault." He stared at him. "That's not my job. I left hunting for the most part. Well, I got driven out of hunting for the most part," he said dryly. "Thankfully I've found a better life without threats." He stared at the guy. "Anything else you wanted to know?"

"When did you know?"

"Angel's known something now for at least five months. When I got given concrete details three weeks ago I turned it over to Angel so he could handle it. While noting I'd be there to help when necessary because this was too huge for just them."

"We can't find this Angel person."

Xander stared at him then outside then back at him. "It's daylight. He may have a soul curse but he's still a vampire. I'd be really shocked if anyone can find him right now." He stared at the agent. "Frankly, if you asked some of his other teammates they probably knew just as much."

"We don't want to deal with a street gang member."

Xander snorted. "So you're going to discriminate against him for finding a way to protect a bunch of very vulnerable people because he's black and formed a gang to go hunt since no one else was? Sorry, but that's what hunting is, dude. We handle things because it affected us and we need to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else." He walked off, going outside. "Yo, I'm pissed off." The reporters stared at him. "The agent I was just talking to dissed Gunn for being brave and strong enough to form a gang to protect the most vulnerable in this city, the homeless. Any agent who's so down on them for protecting those who need it the most, the most snacked on people, isn't an agent I want to talk to. Can one of you guys tell others?" They all nodded. "Thanks." He walked off.

"Mr. Harris, we saw you with TJ Hammond at a club," one shouted.

Xander grinned, nodding. "He's cute." He got into his car and drove off. TJ gave him a pointed look when he got home but kissed him. "You are cute."

"I am," he agreed. "Don't bite back at the agents. It'll call more problems down."

Xander shook his head. "Not really." He took another kiss. "Let me go work up runes for Gunn to use in his protected spots."

"Sure. You go be a research nerd."

"Thanks." He went down to his work area to get back to it.

TJ sat down and waited on the phone calls. They'd come sometime he was sure. His mother had sent a text message to make sure he hadn't been at the battle but others of her people were going to fuss too. When someone broke in by kicking in the door, a forcefield hit them before he could move off the couch.

Xander came up the stairs, staring at them. "Are you really that desperate?" he demanded sarcastically. "Because I'm not happy and I'm about to blow some people the fuck up." He pointed. "Go, before I have your asses arrested." The security team ran in to handle them. "Thanks, guys. I'm working on stuff for Gunn if he shows up."

"Sure, Mr. Harris." He looked at the door. "At least we don't need the repair guy again." They hauled them off, nodding at TJ.

TJ looked at Xander. "Does that happen often?"

"The hunters who are like jocks," Xander said with a point. "They only think with their shotguns, not their brains or their dicks." He went back to work shaking his head.

TJ just nodded. "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome, sir." They cleaned up the mess and left them to calm down some more.

TJ just sighed. "They're better than the Secret Service. Plus they don't nag."

***

Xander settled across from Gunn at Lorne's bar, handing over a folded sheet. "These are runes that will protect the entries and windows at the shelter," he said quietly. "They will not allow anyone undead to get in there. It might keep some half-demons out if they have harmful intent but that'll take more runes and I've got a generalized warding pattern that would work for that if you want it. The same one the hospitals got would work."

"Thanks, Harris. And for sticking up for me."

"The agent was a jackass to sneer about you, Gunn. I've admired what you've done since I found out. Someone's got to do the real work and most of the hunters don't go near the poor or homeless." He smiled. "Be safe, man." He shook his hand and got up, going over to the bar to get a drink. TJ was at the bar. "This is Lorne's. They have anti-violence charms on the bar," he said in his ear. "But I'm here to meet with a procurer that has some books I want." TJ nodded, watching the people singing. Xander smiled when his contact came in but the guy winced. "No books?"

"Seven books but someone else wants them, Harris."

Xander smiled. "I'm keeping them out of bad hands. Plus I pay you a lot." He pouted at the pitiful look. "I pay in cash."

"I've still got five of the seven you wanted." He laid them out.

Xander winced. "Those two held a lot of bad knowledge and I'd hate to have to beat their ideas."

The demon slumped. "I can't tell you who it is."

Xander looked at him. "Only so many want the bad things, Derek. Not like I can't probably pinpoint them." He paid cash for the other five, then put the rest of the money back. The books got put back into the hidden bag, which Xander took. "Thanks. Got any of that special ink?"

"Not right now. No one's made any recently. Unless you're going to be doing magical markings?"

"I did learn how to use a tattoo gun for special ones," Xander said. "But I like to keep a stock in case. Ya know?"

"Yeah, I do," Derek the demon said. "Good luck, Harris." He walked off.

Xander grinned. "I'll talk to someone about getting them from the bad idea sources later," he told TJ. A few demons around them stared at him. He smiled. "I don't want to fight any more apocalypse battles, guys. It might keep Buffy here." They all shuddered. "My feeling too, guys. Anyone need my services?"

"One of the young scuts is setting up his own pack. They might need protection marks on their house," the bartender said, sliding over a card.

Xander grinned. "I can copy that for them." She smiled and walked off. He looked at TJ. "Let's go home then out?"

"We have to go home first?"

"I need to put the books in a safe."

"Hotel room?"

"Unsafe," he said with a point behind him. The growling one was sniffling him. Xander looked back. "I can negate the anti-violence charm just for me," he offered. "Get off my boyfriend." The vampire walked off pouting. He grinned at TJ.

"Sure, we'll hit home then go clubbing." They left together. "You'd steal them?"

"I'm keeping some bad sources out of bad hands," he said once they were in the car. "I don't want to let the worst things get out into the world."

"I can get that. Isn't that expensive?"

"Sometimes. Then again, I'll sell a few more 'summon a genie' kits." TJ laughed but let it go. Xander got them home and led him down to the safe room, opening the safe to walk in. TJ whistled, looking around. Xander grinned. "It's safe in here. No one can use it." He put those books up then came out and relocked the vault. He turned on the security protocols then they left to go tease at a club. He didn't think TJ would steal from him but you couldn't be sure about others.

***

Xander was out the next day and reporters found them. TJ was in the back of the grocery store. Xander had been loitering in comparing fruit. He still didn't like vegetables but fruit was okay. TJ agreed with him about that. He looked over at the staring person, getting out of her way with a slight smile. "I'm trying to remember if I like fruit."

The mother with the child in the cart snorted. "You shouldn't have to remember. It means you're eating wrong. Thankfully my kids will learn better."

"Home Ec tried with me," he quipped. He picked out a few and went to join TJ. That's when the reporter tried to pounce. He sidestepped the pounce, staring at the man who landed on the floor. "Don't pounce," he said quietly. "I'm trained to attack first and then quip." The reporter hopped up, staring at him. "Have a great day." He walked off.

"Mr. Harris, it's said that you know a lot more about all that nasty stuff that happened than you're letting on. The FBI still wants to talk to you. Do you have a statement?"

Xander looked back at him. "I gave them a chance to talk to me. The agent who was talking to me sneered about Gunn. If they seriously wanted to talk to me, they could call. I'd show up again to talk to some other agent who didn't sneer about Gunn." He shrugged. "They haven't mentioned a thing to me so I have no idea what they want. They haven't called, sent a letter, nothing. No agents showing up on my doorstep, or at my community's gates." He shrugged again. "As far as I know they've figured out that they should've been stopping Wolfram and Hart a few years back and didn't. Their failure isn't my problem until they make it so." He walked off.

"Are you gay?" the reporter yelled loudly.

Xander smirked at him. "I'm particular but not about how people have sex," he said dryly. "I prefer a certain personality type, brains, and beauty. Which is why you'll never make the cut, reporter guy. Have a great day before you embarrass yourself more."

"What if the people don't want gay people protecting them?" the reporter demanded, following him with his camera guy.

"Then I'd suggest they go take sword lessons," Xander said dryly, not looking back as he walked off. "Nothing says I'm the only one protecting people. I've run into a lot of hunters, and some even had the sense to be in the field instead of thinking their shotguns were their dicks." TJ looked over so he rolled his eyes. "Anything else, reporter guy? You're annoying me and I'm figuring out what's for dinner."

TJ held up a package of meat. "Pork chops?"

"I like me some pork chops so great idea." He handed over his carry basket so TJ could load it into the cart of things. "Anything we've forgotten?"

"Butter. You were supposed to hit the dairy aisle so no one saw you adding ice cream to the cart," TJ said dryly. Xander nodded, walking that way. TJ stared at the reporter. "If you hurt my friend I'm going to have to complain to your supervisor. I'm sure they'd *adore* that. Especially with you harassing someone in a grocery store. Get out of my face."

"Are you two together?" the reporter sneered.

TJ considered it then looked back at Xander then at the camera again. "As far as I know we're dating."

"We are," Xander quipped, not looking back. "Because you're the prettiest, meanest being I've ever dated."

TJ smirked at the camera. "Even my mother appreciates him." They backed off and the camera guy walked off first. TJ smiled and waved. "Have a great day, people. I'm sure your trash rag will be quite happy." He followed Xander, taking the extra two tubs of ice cream from him. "Get some butter pecan so we can get a frozen pecan pie?" Xander nodded, switching one of them out for that and the pie. They checked out and went back to Xander's place. "Should you call the FBI?"

"If they wanted to talk to me, they'd call or send a letter," Xander said. "Or if they're the asshole sort who hate hunters, they'd bust in here to try to arrest me. They haven't. Someone did try to search the house earlier. The security system told me, but if anyone breaks in certain areas are locked off so no one can get into my working areas or the vaults. Or the safe room without the biometric key." He smiled. "I coded you last night."

"I wondered why you were doing something with my hand. You could've just asked."

Xander took a kiss. "It's more fun when I'm sneaky." He got up to start on dinner. "Do you want the chops grilled or baked?"

"Baked," he said, looking back then going to help. "I can do that part. You make vegetables and stuffing?"

"I only have the box stuff."

"That's fine. You can add things to the boxed stuff to make it taste like homemade. Things like walnuts."

"I think I have water chestnuts." He looked in a cabinet. "I have mushrooms too."

"We can figure that out." Xander grinned, getting to work on the vegetables for now. TJ helped a bit to show him how to properly peel things but that was fine. Xander was younger and didn't cook all that often. His cabinets had shown that, as well as the dinner of popcorn chicken heated up with orange sauce to make easy orange chicken chinese style food. It had been interesting but you needed to use boneless wings to do that properly.

***

Xander called his head of security two days later. "We've had three different breaches into the security system," he said bluntly.

"They've had warrants, sir."

"Then they should probably come at me legally and honestly instead of continually trying the same stupid thing. Can you tell them that?"

"Yes, sir. They vowed to be back today."

"I can be home today. TJ, the agents who keep breaking in semi-legally are coming back."

"I'm going to call a friend in DC to pack some more of my clothes," he said, heading out once he had his jacket. Xander did worry a lot about him. It was sweet.

Xander looked at the head security guard, who shrugged. "Make sure he's okay?"

"I can do that, sir. They usually show up about ten minutes after you leave."

"If we have to and we're tired of waiting I'll let one of you drive the car off and wait."

"Thanks. That's a bad situation."

"They could've just asked. They didn't. That means they're probably demonic." The guard nodded, leaving him to make plots. Xander turned on the inter-house cameras and made sure they were recording, also feeding to a backup drive that wasn't accessed by anything else. They couldn't hack that, it was protected thanks to Fred. Xander came out when he heard someone fussing at the door. Xander opened it, staring at the agents. "Picking the locks is illegal and if you had an actual warrant you wouldn't have to," he said bluntly. "Secondly, no matter what you do, the security system is protecting everyone from getting near my work area and my safe room."

"We have a warrant," one of them said, holding it up.

Xander snatched it to look over. "No you don't. This isn't signed." He tossed it back. "I know my legal rights, boys. Frankly, I don't care which demon you're sucking the cocks of. Thanks anyway." He slammed the door in their face then called his lawyer, who went to talk to the local bureau supervisor for him. A few hours later he had an agent back there with a legal warrant to talk to him but not search anything. Xander waved a hand. "You wanted to know what?" He sipped his ice water.

"Sir, are you drinking?"

"I have drunk parents so no, I'm drinking water, Agent Oblivious." He stared at him. "Your petty ploys are pathetic. Just get to the damn point. I'm tired of this game and I have two other paying jobs I need to work up protections for." He stared at him.

"You should have cooperated when you were called in to debrief."

"I did, until someone sneered about Gunn being a poor guy who's done a lot more than that agent ever will for humanity." He stared at him. "For that matter, I've submitted, in writing, answers to all the questions that have been asked of me by everyone. Including Homeland Security." He stared at him.

"We don't like your attitude."

"I don't like being toyed with. I'm not a toy." He smiled slightly. "It downright pisses me off actually."

"Was that a threat?"

"No. It's a promise that I won't be at the next apocalypse battle. You can handle it all on your own if you want." He took another sip.

"We in the FBI don't like the hunters."

"That's a great thing. I don't care though. There's plenty of hunters I don't like either. They don't think, they assume. They don't research, and they're fairly brutal. Thankfully I'm not a hunter."

"You *retired*," the agent sneered.

"I tell you what, let's see what would happen if something took your only light at the end of the tunnel," he sneered back. "I'm pretty sure you'd do the same damn thing." He stared at him. "And end up in jail but thankfully no one cares at this moment in history if we stake vampires before they kill more people." He put his glass down. "Beyond that, this isn't a debriefing. This is your personal vendetta. Which is being taped," he said, pointing at the agent's tape recorder. He turned it off and ran it back to tape over it. "I'm sure that'll work real well since my security team does the same thing." He smiled a tiny bit again. "That notice was on the gatehouse in case you didn't see it."

"You have to turn that over."

"No I don't."

"It's illegal."

"By law, all I have to do is put up a warning saying that I tape all personal interviews. Which is on the gatehouse for the whole community. They do it for all of us that request it. If you want it that much, you have fun convincing the judge that you deserve it. Within minutes I'll have it downloaded to a Swiss safety deposit box if you wanted to fight that war too."

"You're a smug asshole who got in the way of the real authorities handling things."

"If it wasn't for me, you would've broken that portal in a way that meant it never would've shut." He stood up. "I think you're done. If your agency wants to further talk to me, they can send someone who's not marked to a certain clan of Blaw'ark." He looked at the guy's neck then at his face. "Tell Mira I said hi. We play poker sometimes." The agent stepped back, eyes wide. "Yeah, I'm that Xander too." He smiled. "Have a great day, Agent Peterson."

"I...."

"Bye." Xander waved. "Now please. I've cooperated and my patience is at an end since you clearly don't want to talk about the invasion you could've stopped a few years back when you refused to look at Wolfram and Hart because they were paying people off. A *good* agent wouldn't have been swayed by people who took bribes. Pity you're not one. Have a great day."

"We'll stop you hunters," he sneered.

Xander snorted. "That's how you make more hunters. We all lost something or someone to the supernatural so we're going to make sure others aren't just like us. Even if I don't really hunt anymore, I still make sure vampires can't get others in many interesting ways. Now, do you want to continue this?" He stared at him. "I can be civil but you're not going to get that response with the way you've acted today. Frankly, I'm pretty sure Mira's toddler is better behaved. Have a great day." He went to the kitchen to get more ice for his water. The agent stomped off. He looked at his lawyer, who downloaded a copy of the interview for the higher ups at the FBI he'd be talking to soon. "Have fun, Bob."

"I can try, Xander. If only I liked stress and mayhem."

Xander grinned. "I could vow to send this energy toward a chaos god if you think it'll help."

"No. Not really. Maybe later." He left, following the agent back to his office to show off that tape to the supervisors. They all glared at the agent. "My client has stated repeatedly that agents are more than welcome to ask him things if they're not sneering at him. Yours didn't manage that."

"That warning is on the gatehouse?" one of the supervisors asked.

Bob the lawyer pulled up a picture he had taken on the way out. "On the front of the gatehouse facing the road, gentlemen." He showed it to them. They all grimaced. "Also, my client is quite upset that agents with fake warrants have invaded his house a few times. As the thing wasn't signed it's not a legal order. Apparently they were trying to get into his work area or the vault where he stores artifacts he's won at poker that are dangerous to humanity."

"What's he going to do with them?" another supervisor demanded.

"Keep them out of bad hands," Bob said simply. "He may not be a hunter any longer but he doesn't want humanity to fall."

"He sold plans to call demons."

"Yes, they often coincided with others trying apocalypse battles so they could battle each other." That supervisor slumped, shaking his head. "Makes sense when all of us are counting on two young women, a witch with an addiction problem, and a vampire or two. Doesn't it."

"It does," the main supervisor agreed. "Is that the same agent who talked to him that first day?"

"No clue," Bob admitted. "Xander said the last ones that showed up with the not-signed warrant were different when he saw him pulling through the gateway."

The head supervisor nodded. "His tape of the talk?"

"He didn't get to record over it," another agent said from the doorway. "I took it from him to enter into evidence against Mr. Harris. Just in case." He stared at the lawyer. "Your client isn't exactly squeaky."

"No, but neither are any hunters. Mr. Harris simply retired before he got to the point where silence was an acceptable outcome." The head supervisor shuddered. "He had the two in Sunnydale nagging him constantly. Of course he walked off. Most of us would have." He looked at the agent. "That one that was talking to my client made various threats."

That agent nodded. "We know there's agents who hate hunters."

"Xander has said he'd gladly let you handle it yourself and he suggested you all take sword lessons."

That agent nodded. "Some of us have been. That Wolfram and Hart quip. When were they under investigation? It's not in the system."

Bob pulled out files, tossing them onto the table. "He kept track." They looked them over and groaned at the investigations that had been stopped and investigated but not restarted. "He's right, if your agents had taken care of it, they wouldn't have been able to pull off the invasion most likely." He closed his briefcase. "Should I tell my client that you'd like a more polite sit down discussion with him?"

"Yes," the head supervisor said. "Why didn't he tell us about the invasion coming up?"

"He told the people who should have told you but you don't have any contact with them," Bob said simply. "If the LA team had told you, would you have listened?" He left, going to tell Xander the bad news. Plus to move most of that protection vault somewhere else for safety reasons.

The senior supervisor looked around. "Why don't we have a contact with the team in LA?"

"Because they're freaks," one of the others said with a shrug. "We're not allowed to work with gangs, even helpful ones. We don't want to work with the non-humans. Most agents consider it too risky."

"From what we know, both vampires have souls again," the head supervisor said.

"So do half the prisoners in the world, but they won't bite us," another supervisor sighed, looking at his boss. "The best we can do is train someone to go in there and feed information back to us or ask them to email us for larger problems. Especially since the local team was almost decimated in the last year."

The head supervisor grimaced. "What about the slayers?"

"Cleveland, and we all feel very sorry for that office," the protesting one said.

"Poor city. I would've expected New York." The head supervisor grimaced. "Could we ask Harris?"

"He's not into every battle," the agent in the doorway said. "Nor will he be. Summers and Rosenburg drove him off." He smiled. "He's also told some people if they keep annoying him he's going to ask a genie to make him president some day. From scuttlebutt, there's plenty that'd give it to him."

"Which would mean more of those psychotic hunters in government service," the sneering one complained. "I'd quit immediately."

"It'd have to be at least twenty years from now thanks to his age," the head supervisor said. "We have to find a way to get information from the local protection team. One way or another."

"Then train one of us to hunt," the agent in the doorway said. "Or hire a hunter. Ask Gunn's group to add him or her in."

The sneering supervisor looked back. "We're not allowed to work with gangs."

"It's not really a *gang*. It's a protection group. So it's more like a small mafia family." He shrugged. "Consider it an undercover if you have to. Not like we'd ask you. You couldn't hold up to even a half hour of firing during the invasion." The supervisor glared at him. "It's the truth. Don't blame me because you're not meeting up to FBI physical fitness standards." He walked off. "Delores, your boss is being bitchy again. You might want to hand him the midol you keep for him."

That agent glared at him but made her boss a cup of laced coffee. It'd save her later when she had to hand in a report. That agent, who was smarter than the average high schooler, went to Gunn's people to talk to them. He smiled. "Hi, I'm Agent Schmidt, FBI. How do you want to work with us so we know when we're going to have another huge problem in downtown LA?"

Gunn shrugged. "Got an email address? We can pass on messages so you guys don't have to be creeped out."

"That'd be helpful. Thank you." He handed over his card. "I'll get you the address of a few others in case I'm not in the office. I just called my supervisor a fat slob for not being able to handle a half-hour with a shotgun the other day." Gunn laughed, nodding some. "Is there anything going on right now we should be aware of?"

"No. Not that I've been told." He looked at Buffy, who shook her head. "No, not as far as we know. The big things usually happen in the spring."

"Good to know. Thank you. Give us as far ahead as you can for a head's up please. That way we have time to make ineffectual plans that'll get in your way. How would some agents get lessons to be better able to protect themselves?"

"Sword lessons," Gunn said. "Crossbow and staking too."

"Good to know. Thank you, Mr. Gunn." He shook his hand and went back to the office to take volunteers. Some of the junior agents would gladly work with the local protection team so they never had to see another invasion again. Agent Schmidt told them about the group behind it, who had bribed an investigation into stopping. Those agents looked into Wolfram and Hart as well. That helped a lot of things. Agent Schmidt went back to the complaining session.

"Mr. Gunn has said he will email us as soon as he hears about anything huge coming up. He said most of them happen in the spring. He's got my email and I've gotten a few others to go hand him cards as well just in case I'm not here." He smiled. "Also, I've suggested a few junior agents look into that law firm. We're not their only office in the US. So what are they doing to those cities, including DC?" He left, going back to his desk to get into that case as well.

The head supervisor smiled at the empty doorway. "It's good when you boys have ideas and handle things without our having to consider it." The other supervisors went back to their offices to complain to the people above their current boss. Maybe he'd be replaced with someone who agreed with them. Or maybe the head office would send out an investigator who would fire them all as it happened.

***

Xander shook hands with the pack leader he usually worked with. "I've got the minimal set the young one setting up his own pack asked for. Is he sure he didn't want the full one? I don't charge much more for it and I'm easy enough to let him pay me off in a few months."

"He said he could handle the rest," the pack leader said, rolling his eyes. "He's young."

Xander smiled. "I remember being that age."

The pack leader's wife laughed. "You're close to it now, Xander." She kissed him on the cheek. "Be careful," she said quietly in his ear.

He nodded. "I usually am," he said quietly. She smiled. "Okay, I've got the repeating runes and the template to paint over for him." He showed her the meticulous template. "This one's easier if you just paint over the marks since it's so intricate. I could cast this in a 3-d printer and add a boundary. So you paint over the bare areas and it'll leave the runes."

She nodded. "That's nice. Some of those are worse than calligraphy." She held it up to the light, touching something dangling. "Is that extra?"

"No, that's a dot," he said, laying it against his hand. She nodded she could see that. "That one rune I'd love to find a replacement for but I don't have one that I can find. It's a good general purpose one but the only other types are personal use and they'll only work if the one who created it uses it."

"I understand. It's still a great thing. Could it be done as a single repeating sheet you only have to glue up?"

He smiled, holding up a roll of marked tape. "No, but I do it this way usually." She laughed, punching him on the arm. "Speaking of, that's a nursery one." She smiled, taking it to put up around their nursery since they had a non-turned woman having a cub in a few days. Xander looked at the leader. "So?"

"You know he'll try," he sighed.

"That's why I didn't bring TJ with me." The pack leader smiled, leading him to the meeting area. "Hola, mi amigos." They mostly smiled at him. A few sniffed him. "My new boyfriend is very happy with me, yes," he told one of the sniffers. He put the plate on the table. "Since it's so intricate I decided to use a 3-d printer to make the runes solid and the rest can be painted. So you'll be left with the runes unpainted. A few are dots and need to be pressed against," he said with a point at them. "That's the basic set, which is what he said he wanted. If you want to add in the other seven, we can do that easily enough." He straightened up, looking at the werewolves there. "Or if some day you guys need a nursery set, I've just handed the head woman a set of them on tape so they're up immediately until they can be painted on."

"That's very nice of you, Xander," one of the wolves said. "Why did he only want the minimum?"

"I even offered to let him pay me out over a few months but he said he only needed the basic set," Xander said with a shrug. "If you need the rest later, maybe you can do a second row of them or we'll figure it out." They mostly smiled at him. "I better than some know how plans change." They all nodded at that. The cub coming due soon was one of those plans that had changed drastically.

The new pack leader strolled in. "Harris." He shook his hand, looking at the set. "So we paint over it and it leaves the runes bare?" Xander nodded. "That's nice. How?"

"3-d printer. We could've done it the regular way with a simple plastic template but I remember going over the ones we put on this house seven times to get a few of them correct. I ended up drawing a few by hand to make sure they were correct because it was faster. TJ and I did a test paint; it seemed to work very well. Just make sure the dots are in contact with the wall before you paint around them."

"That's fine." He smirked. "You know, you could join the pack."

"I don't want to join the pack. Sorry." He smiled. "I've already been all but furry a few times. The hyena was enough."

"That's not a real transformation."

Xander looked at the young pup. "It was close enough that the others that got possessed ate a principal." The young werewolf grimaced. "It was as close as I want to come. Thank you though."

"I could..." He moved closer. "Be generous with you as a beta wolf."

Xander laughed. "I'm not a beta to anyone, Josef. I never have been." He stared at him. "Nor will I ever be. Sorry but no thank you."

Josef sniffed him. "It smells like you are."

Xander smirked. "Just because TJ and I switch off the bottom now and then doesn't mean I'm his beta, dear. We switch off because it's good, dirty fun. Not to be submissive to the other. I'm not into that scene." The wolf growled. Xander stared at him. "At one point in time I'd have been smartass enough to reach over and scratch you behind the ears since you're growling." He looked at the pack leader. "Anyway, I'll work up a permanent one for the nursery if you need me to. She wasn't sure if the cub was going to be staying here."

"We're not sure yet," the pack leader said. "She's not turned and doesn't want to be turned. It was a one-night thing that got out of hand."

"Condoms break, I'm living proof of that," Xander said dryly, cracking up the new father, who nodded. "All right, let me get back home. TJ's making dinner and then vowing he's going to find some way to play music even if he does have to buy a cheesy keyboard. So I've got a piano coming in a few hours." He scratched behind his ear. "I'll see you guys in a few weeks with payment?"

The young pup pounced at him. "Those in the pack don't have to pay for services of the pack," he said. Xander caught him and slugged him, knocking him into the table. "You'll submit and love it, Harris."

"I doubt that. I didn't even when I was younger. Submission to me means weakness and I'm not weak." He shrugged. "Even if I was a beta I'd never submit." He looked at the young thing then at the pack leader. Who sighed. "I'm not here to get into another fight. You know that."

"I do. I wish I knew why most of us wanted to bed you at least once, Xander."

"Me too! Though the runes I learned to protect myself have been very handy." The young pack leader lunged at him again with two helpers from his new pack. Xander backhanded one, making him yelp as he fell into the table. He kicked the pack leader at the same time then ducked the third one, making him fall over his back. "Do it again," he offered, sneering at them. "I will call a combat trial and I won't back down to human tactics. You forget, I had to help Oz more than once because Willow couldn't handle it. I don't play nicely and I won't be playing non-lethally. I'm not yours. Stand down or face me in a combat match."

"You're just a human," the new pack leader sneered.

Xander nodded. "With skills," he pointed out. "And silver." The wolf's eyes went wide. "I'm always wearing silver somewhere. Do you know how many other species react to silver?" He stared at him. "I was nice enough and respectful enough to put it into my pocket but I can easily take it out, dear." He stared at him. "Your choice. TJ will baby my poor, sore ass later when I've beaten you."

"I'll still win, human," the pack leader sneered. "Combat trial accepted."

"So be it," Xander said, pulling out something and snapping it open, throwing it on the guy. He screamed as the solution burned him. "Suspended silver in alcohol," he said dryly. "Remember, I'm paranoid thanks to guys like you. I'm never unarmed. I can be naked and not be unprepared for an attack. Do you still want to do that? You can back out and I'll graciously let you." The young one attacked again. Xander grabbed the wolf and flipped him before he could do more than scratch him. He pulled out a dagger and backed up.

"C'mon if you're coming. If you're that arrogant I'm sure your pack will find a better alpha male quickly. Most of the ones of this pack are good at that." The young one hopped up with a scream, coming at Xander, changing in the center. Xander stabbed him in the shoulder while ducking under the lunge. "Forgot I had to wrestle Oz back into the cage?" he asked dryly. The shoulder wound was serious but Xander wasn't going to let him kill him. Another wolf snuck up on him and he turned to take them down too. A stomach shot this time. Xander looked at the one in the doorway. "I offered to let him drop it."

"We heard, Harris. You're scratched."

"I've got protections so even if you spit into it, I still wouldn't change. He's not the first were who thought I was like candy." That alpha hopped up and tried to capture him again. He got Xander's arm but Xander used the dagger on the guy's snout, making him scream and change back holding his face. "I offered to let you stop it," he noted. "By combat rules I should take you out but I'm not the sort to do that to living, thinking, usually harmless beings. So if you need to end yourself, do it for me." He stared at hm. "It's not a weakness, it's a respect for the alpha you could've been," he told him when the guy glared at him.

"That dishonors him," the pack leader said. "I'd have to take him out."

Xander looked at him. "I don't want unnecessary bloodshed on my soul, Alpha. I hold no onus against him, it was his stupidity. Can't we count it as him being young, dumb, and gotten a lesson?"

"You chose combat."

"I thought he'd back down." Xander grimaced, looking at the wolf. "I still don't want to kill you. I consider it a waste." The rechanged wolf lunged at him again, mouth open to bite him. Xander slit his throat and stepped back as the body fell gasping for breath. "If they get you to a healer in under twenty minutes, you'll live but be scarred," he said quietly. "If you live, never make someone else take you out for an arrogant mistake like that. You don't own anything but yourself. You certainly don't own another being or a pack member." He wiped the knife off and looked at the alpha. "You know how I am about the peaceful communities."

"I do, Xander." He shook his hand. "It's an honorable standing point. We agree, if he wants a healer, he can call one."

"I wish he hadn't," Xander said. "I really do."

"We know, lad. Go home. Let your new boy baby you." He patted the boy on the shoulder, letting him be escorted off by his wife, who hugged him. "Clean him up, boys. If he wants a healer, he can have one. If not, that's his choice." He walked off to hug his own wife. She cuddled him. "Xander was right to call it and to not take him out cleanly."

She nodded. "He was, my mate. Though I will rip him a new one if he heals and stays here." He smiled, kissing her. "Come help me with the tape." He nodded, going up with her to do that. It was important and an alpha's job to make sure all his people were protected.

***

Xander came home to find TJ playing on the new piano. It was a stand up model instead of a baby grand but it still sounded pretty. TJ looked at him and hit a wrong note before turning to stare at him. "The werewolf wanted me. It's happened a few times so we had a tussle."

"Tussle?" TJ demanded, standing up and walking over.

Xander nodded. "He tried to take me out or make me submit as a beta wolf. I took him down and possibly out, that's up to him." TJ hugged him. "It's why I got into protection runes. Half of everything wants me in that bad way and I don't want them back. Between the vamps who think I'm sexy and the others, I had to protect myself. Not like the others would. They just laughed and called me a demon magnet."

TJ kissed him. "You're not. You're just too sexy to be ignored." He smiled. "Need more than bandages?"

"No, a few claw marks. I could use a shower."

"We can do that." He took him to help him clean up. He did have some larger scratches and claw marks. He had one that had something wet in it. "Is that drool?"

Xander pointed at a marking tattooed on him. "Even if it is, I won't turn, TJ. I made sure of it after the first were tried to get me as his girlfriend." He turned to hold him again. "Do you like the piano?"

"It's great, thank you." He smiled. Xander kissed him and they scrubbed each other down before going out to eat dinner naked. Then Xander laid on the couch while TJ played for a bit. It was calming and they could both use it tonight.

***

Xander walked into the Hyperion a few days later, handing Gunn a bundle of papers. "Your buddy Bob left that on his way to the Bahamas right ahead of the IRS." He grimaced. "It's my will and other things. Can you find me someone slightly more bitchy and more uptight?"

"I probably can. Do they have to do anything with your clients?" He glanced at the papers. "That will's not going to be upheld." He looked up. "Especially with a new boyfriend who could contest it."

"TJ has his own money," Xander said. "And I know I need to redo it. The last one I had that was fully legal was done in Sunnydale." Gunn winced. "The rest is probably my legal portfolio."

Gunn looked and nodded. "I can find you someone, Harris. Are you okay? I know the FBI came after you."

"Yeah, Bob and I had a talk with an agent that consisted of 'grow up' and a few other choice words. I also have that talk saved down multiple places." He smiled. "I'm not the bitch to be fucked with. I'll go to London and deal with things over there instead."

"There's still a Council," Gunn said.

"Yeah, I've heard they still want me dead. So do others. Pity."

"I heard about that werewolf."

Xander stared at him. "He was the sixth or seventh that wanted me for the wrong reasons. Apparently they think I'm like some twink candy boy. I don't submit, I don't coo from your lap, and I don't tease you for it. Even TJ only gets some teasing in." He grimaced. "I was sorry it had to happen but I'll be damned and he started it. I tried to get him to back down. He didn't." Xander shrugged. "I can only do what I can."

"Good point. You still okay?"

"I went home to TJ babying me for being hurt and then playing me some music while I rested on the couch. He even made dinner."

"That's sweet of him. He seems much more wild in the press."

"They do that on purpose and we all have our wild moments," Xander said with an evil smirk. "They're fun too." Gunn snorted, smirking at him. "I have fun with it." He waved a hand at whoever had just walked in. "Anyway, thanks for finding me someone who's not going to have to rush off to avoid the IRS."

"Not a problem. I'll let you know if there's going to be more problems. Speaking of problems," he said. "You bought something before Angel could. What're you doing with a trapped demon?"

"It's staying in the vault so no one could use it." He stared at him. "I don't want them to want me either."

"Good idea. Is it safe?"

Xander grinned and nodded. "You can't even find it if you don't have the right biometrics to get to that level of the house." He walked off. "I paid for the best."

"Good. That's probably a lot of help. I'll let you know in a few days."

"Thanks, man." He went out and got into his car, driving off. One of the new cuts itched but he knew he wasn't infected. The protections made sure of it. So it was probably just getting infected. He stopped at the pharmacy to get some more alcohol and bandaids then went home to teasing poor TJ. He was going to be tied down later and teased until he gave up all his dirty fantasy thoughts.

Gunn looked over at Buffy, who shrugged. "We knew he was a demon magnet before."

"You ever figure out why?"

"No. It's just a Xander thing to be."

"There's been eighteen other kids who draw like him that he's done protections for, Buffy. If we could solve it, it might help them."

"I wondered where the mini got that necklace," she muttered.

"What?" Gunn asked.

"One of the minis has a protection necklace. A pendant thing with protections on it."

"Xander wouldn't have, Buffy. I can ask him." He sent a text message, getting one back a few minutes later. "He's pulled off to look that up. She didn't get it from him but there's been one that he did give one to who was killed by a human. It wasn't found with her remains. He asked specifically to see if it had failed." He looked at her. "You might ask her."

"I don't want to think she killed a human."

"Still, ask?"

"Yeah, I can do that once I get home tomorrow. If she did, I'll mail it to you so you can give it back to him." Gunn nodded, walking off with the papers to start calling around. She sighed, sending a text message to Willow, who said she could check that necklace. It didn't seem magical. Did runes need to hold magic?

Did that mean Xander did magic? Because if so, that was just wrong on every level.

***

While Xander was out and about doing his thing, TJ settled in to think to the piano. Did he see Xander as a boyfriend? He had basically been rescued then moved in, without considering anything. He had things that tied him to DC, including his club, but they were doing fine without him right now. That depressing thought got pushed aside. Xander. He had to consider this thing with Xander. Did he like Xander enough to be a boyfriend? Yeah, he did. He was goofy, kind, and hot when he wanted to be. Though he had a lot of home time that was boring to TJ. So did he see Xander as more of a protector than a boyfriend? Xander was definitely protective. He had made sure TJ knew it was up to him if they did more than cuddle at any given time. That was a bit frustrating. Xander would probably woo him and pounce him more if he suggested it. Maybe Xander was waiting on him. That was possible.

TJ shifted on his piano bench and let his fingers drift to another song without him concentrating on it. This life was too sedentary for him. They only went out a few times a week. There was nothing to take his attention. He knew himself, he'd be getting bored soon and bored landed him in trouble. Xander would probably dump him if it was too bad of trouble. Then again, Xander had that thread of 'bad boy' that made TJ a happy boy. That still left a few problems. Did he want to be a boyfriend? He wasn't sure how normal boyfriends were. Ones that went out to fun things. Ones that did more than one researching and the other sitting around with his depressing thoughts.

Xander walked in and paused to kiss him, then smiled a tiny bit. "I picked up fresh crab legs for dinner. The instructions seem easy."

"That's cool." He followed Xander into the kitchen. "Do you ever get bored?"

"Yeah, but it's safer if I don't go out flaunting myself around. I've had hunters attacking parties I've been at, TJ." He looked at him. "Though there's a party tomorrow night if you wanted to go with me. It's some of the people setting up a new clinic looking for funding. I've been invited since I'm an investor and I'll be putting on protections."

"So boring, pumping people for money while they're bragging about their new cars and houses?" he guessed, smiling some.

"Basically, yeah." He took a kiss. "Do you really like going to those things?" He walked off. "Did I start laundry earlier?"

"Not that I saw. You carried a basket that way and then pouted on the way out."

"Oh, yeah, I needed detergent." He shrugged and made himself a note then pulled TJ against him to kiss him stupid. "I've needed that most of the day." He winked and strolled off. "Let me go pick up some detergent. Do you need anything?"

"Do we have some wine to put in the crab legs?"

"They told me to boil them for a few minutes." He looked so confused.

TJ smiled. "You can add some to add some flavor."

"No clue about that. I can cook basic stuff, not fancy stuff. This is about as fancy as I've ever attempted to make."

"Get one of those single person bottles of white wine. And good butter if you don't have any here."

"I think it's in the freezer." He looked and waved it, leaving a stick on the counter. "Anything else I'll need? Garlic? Herbs?"

"No, that's cool. You have some chopped garlic stuff in the fridge." He smiled, letting Xander go handle that small bit of shopping. Xander was sweetly goofy sometimes. It made TJ wonder what he had done to deserve Xander. Though, the battle stuff they needed to get worked out because that would wreck his nerves. Xander came back, kissing him on his way to the laundry room. "No problems?"

"Two of them. We need a new car but thankfully cabs were fast today."

"What happened?" he demanded, following Xander.

"Hunters."

TJ blinked. "Are they that mad at you for some reason?"

"No, that one's mad at me thanks to Willow." He looked back at him before tossing a pod of detergent in then the clothes. He shut the washer's lid then turned to look at his boyfriend. "Willow told that one I'm about to bring hunters to even more notice. I don't know why but she's a bitch who doesn't think and has plans."

"Is that part of her addiction problem?"

"Not really. Sometimes it makes her think she's the goddess. I nicely took pictures of the blown up car and sent it to her with a 'thankfully I wasn't in there when your pawns showed up' message. Then a picture of the hunters being unconscious and tied up." TJ gave him a hug. "I'm okay. I doubt those ones will be doing it again because I'll kill their dumb asses." He cuddled his boyfriend. "It's all right. They don't usually want collateral damage so you're safe."

TJ looked up at him. "We should both be safe from that sort."

"Yeah, but quite a few of them think with their shotguns, not their brains. And possibly Willow did something."

"Can we get her busted for that?"

"Yup, I so called a contact I have that does real magic to get her busted with the higher coven that has her leash."

TJ gave him a squeeze then backed off, staring at him. "I was going to suggest we join a gym or something to get out of the house."

Xander grinned. "I have a gym membership. We can go if you want but it's an all species welcome gym."

"As long as it means I won't change or anything I'm fine with that."

"Okay. We can go tomorrow." He took a quick kiss. "Bottle of wine?" he said, holding out the tiny bottle.

"That'll work." He and Xander washed their hands so they could work on dinner. Xander had to stop chopping vegetables for the quick stir fry when the door got blown in but the three people standing there died. TJ took over chopping while the security team showed up. "Guys, they blew up the doorway," TJ complained. He was clearly getting too used to threats since he wasn't having a fit.

Xander shrugged. "The first time they blew up most of that wall, TJ. We had to repair the fireplace too." He looked at the security team. "How did they get past the gate?"

"They came in from the other direction, the one with the pass, sir," the team leader complained. "Isn't there a way you can stop them?"

"Willow Rosenburg decided to send them." The team all winced. "I'm going to beat her ass to death for it, and for blowing up my car." He looked at them. "That one was there. So apparently the police let him go." They looked then called the police again. They came to complain but oh well. Xander stared at the whining officer. "I tell you what. The next time a huge demon appears up the street to take out the kid that's now in foster care since her parents tried to sacrifice her, and isn't against taking out the whole school she's in, you handle it, mother fucker." The officer flinched, backing away from him. "You let someone who blew up my car go free. Then they came here to blow me up. I do pay taxes."

"Xander," TJ said quietly. "Calm down." He walked over, smiling at the officers. "Unless you want me to ask the Secret Service to step in, I'd actually do your jobs, Officers. I've already sent a complaint in to my mother's security team about this. I'm pretty sure someone's going to be complaining to your supervisor."

One officer shrugged. "He doesn't like hunters either."

Xander smirked. "That's fine. I'll make sure you guys can figure out how to fight it yourself. You can talk to all those newly grieving parents tomorrow too since that demon's due back then." One went pale, shaking his head. "Yeah. You have fun with that. I'm done. I'm going to lethal means to solve it. Pity." He walked off. "Clean up the mess please, security guys?"

"We've got someone coming to pick them up, Mr. Harris." One of them winced, shaking his head at TJ. "He's livid."

"I can't calm him down. I would've done worse a long time ago." TJ walked off, going to cuddle Xander. "Is the school protected?" he asked quietly.

"They wouldn't let me." He looked at him. "There's six hundred kids in that school, TJ. The demon could take them all."

"Who would handle it if you're injured?" TJ asked, settling them on the chair in the bedroom.

"No one. Gunn's too far away to get there quickly enough to save them. If they wait, the idiots out there harass them for being poor people in this neighborhood."

"Can we warn the school?" TJ asked.

"They can't do anything beyond herding all the kids together. That makes it easier to take them and I don't know what the demon's done to the school to grab them."

"Can we look?" TJ asked. "I'd hate that for that school. I don't like it when things prey on little kids."

"Me either. That one would probably hold off to try to prove us to be insane but it can only manifest in a corporeal body once every lunar month. I've let them know when it is. They've got that one girl out of the way of harm but the demon's not picky and it'll keep coming back until it gets her."

"So what can we do?"

"Usually they call a special hiding in place drill while I fight it so the kids don't see."

"Can the officers do that?"

"Yeah, they probably should," Xander said, glaring at the living room. He looked at TJ. "I don't want to endanger those kids but there's almost no one else to do it unless Buffy's here. I'm not sure if she's back in Cleveland or not."

TJ took out Xander's phone, finding Gunn's number. "It's TJ Hammond, Xander's boyfriend. Because of the stupid witch sending hunters at Xander to kill him for some reason, and they nearly managed it twice tonight, he can't handle that demon at that school tomorrow. Is there anyone else who can?" He listened to Gunn complaining to someone female, who complained back. "Willow decided you're going to take out the US."

"Why would I do that? It'd make my property values go down."

TJ smiled when Gunn complained about that comment. "The local police let the hunters that blew up his car go. They're sneering in the living room right now about the three he had to kill to protect us both, Gunn. He told them they could handle that school. They're still sneering and apparently think those kids are a suitable sacrifice for their viewpoints."

"The LAPD didn't say a *thing* when a demon attacked a school that was full of poor kids," Xander said bluntly. "They're all like that as far as I can tell. Frankly, fuck them and I hope they lose the lawsuit from those parents."

"That hasn't gotten into the news," TJ said.

"That's because the LAPD lawyers got a gag order on the parents," Xander said. "I got threatened for outing that fact but no one wanted to deal with them either. Frankly I'm waiting until election time to put that out."

TJ smiled. "That's mean. I'll ask someone when the best time will be to do that." He listened to Gunn. "Exactly. So what can we do besides possibly moving?"

"We can do that but the safe's not totally in the new house yet," Xander said quietly. "And it's a lot safer. No one can breech those gates."

TJ looked at him. "Which means more staying inside."

"That or me using an owed wish to change some things." Xander looked up then at him. "But that would be mean of me."

"Probably, and he just agreed that's an evil thought," TJ said, staring at him. Xander grinned, kissing him on the tip of the nose before getting up and heading out of the bedroom. "Gunn, he just smirked. Yeah, might help. Thanks, man." He hung up to follow Xander. He was in the kitchen working on dinner. "You have another house?"

"I just bought it last year and I've been working on having it flipped." He looked at him. "I've done that a few times. They're all security conscious. I was hoping that a pack would want that one. It's got a good bit of trees and land around it."

"How much is a bit of land?" TJ asked.

"Just under 40 acres," he said with a grin. "It's almost all woodsy areas too. We can go look at it when I show the local pack leader day after tomorrow."

"How long before we have a door again? That's a bit...making me nervous."

Xander took a kiss. "We can go stay somewhere else if you want. Once they're out of the house."

"Please. Should I look up hotels?"

"I have a condo downtown, but it's kept as a security fallback."

"How?" TJ asked.

"I wasn't going to tell you until I was ready to put you into the biometrics here. That would be dumb of me."

"Point." He took a quick kiss. "Finish that up?"

"I can do that if you start the water to boil them." TJ did that for him. Xander looked back at the staring security team. "How much longer before the bodies get off the floor?"

"Few minutes, Mr. Harris," one said quietly. "They're coming up the road according to the main gate."

"That's great. Want some coffee, guys?" One shrugged so Xander put on a pot of it for them. Xander looked at the other guard. "You know I'm not usually mean. I'm not going to risk TJ for their fun."

"What about that school?"

"They know it'll show up tomorrow," Xander said. "They know why and how. I've talked to Gunn to see if someone else can cover it. I'm really horrified those officers were willing to see that whole school taken out to make things fit into their minor world view."

"That proves the testing systems failed," TJ said without looking back at them. "Good officers aren't like them."

"We've heard you have a vault," the coffee drinking guard said.

Xander nodded. "Right now I'm the only one that can get into it. If I move, I'll have that reset so someone else can use the area and panic room."

"That's fine. Will these sort keep coming?"

"No, I'll make sure everyone knows I've moved." He grinned. "I'm not nice about our safety, guys."

"We know and we appreciate that, Mr. Harris." He carried a cup over to his partner, nodding at the ME's team that came in. "They blew in the doorway to get the resident." Xander waved the hand with the knife in it but got back to chopping vegetables.

"Your shots?" the ME asked.

Xander looked up. "No. It's my house and they rushed in to kill me. Fuck them." He stared at her. She winced. "The officers that responded were jackasses. They're willing to sacrifice a whole other school because I've had to hunt in the past. Thankfully I've asked a few others to be there to handle it. Also," he said, coming over to point at one body. "This one blew up my car a bit ago and the officers let him and two others go. If those other two come here, you can have them too."

The ME nodded. "I would too, young man. Let me clean up this mess."

"Thanks." He went back to the kitchen. TJ was looking worried so he hugged him from behind. "It'll be okay. They won't try again."

"If you're sure."

"I am. I'll call someone later to point out that I'm not the asshole of the universe but I'll gladly turn into one." TJ smirked a tiny bit. "I can be an asshole, TJ. I know that and others know that too. The real hunters know not to attack people unnecessarily and they won't hurt me anyway since I'm not a bad guy." He kissed him on the ear. "Are those nearly done?"

"Yeah, just got to boil the crab legs for a few minutes." He looked. "Finish the salad." Xander got back to that and TJ did the crab legs. They were a bit chewy but he had been watching Xander work since he had his tongue out while he chopped things.

***

Xander drove up to the gate, rolling down the window. "Hey, guys." The local pack leaders he worked with smiled. "All right, I've flipped this one fully. It is 46 acres of mostly untouched lands." They stared. He grinned. "By the way, did you get the email of the one I found in West Virginia? That looked nice for a pack enclave but a bit expensive."

"It did look nice," the pack leader said. "What about the neighbors?"

Xander grimaced. "I haven't seen any. I'm sure there's people in the houses but I've literally never seen them. Even with binoculars."

The pack leader looked impressed. "That's nice. Why this one?"

"It's only got seven bedrooms but plenty of room for guest houses. It has a small guest house by the pool that's more a poolside retreat with a kitchen and a bedroom for napping in." They nodded. "There's a lot of land. There's a waterfall. There's a pool and a spa. There's actually an amphitheater in the back beyond the pool, and that was a cool thing that made me decide on this one. Only needed some small updating things." They nodded and he opened the gate, going up the long driveway slowly so they could look around. Xander parked. "Three car garage but you can add more if you need it. Local regs say you can have up to seven stalls but you can put in one of those lift systems to give you a double layer if you need them."

They looked at the outside of the house, it was beautiful, a newer, rounder looking mediterranean entry that led back to two wings. "This is beautiful," the pack leader's wife said, smiling at the boys. "Are you two okay?"

"Yeah, the sort of hunters that have not a clue came after me thanks to Willow," he said dryly. "I had a verbal fit on someone for endangering us." He grinned. The pack leader shuddered. "I didn't quite send someone to eat her. Yet." He opened the door and waved a hand. "Five bedrooms in this house, six bathrooms and a few half baths. Gathering and media room in the basement." They went to look over the large kitchen. Xander pulled the pack leader to a spot. "This is the butler's pantry." She looked at the cabinets, two extra ovens, and pretty counters. He opened a door, making her stare. "That is the pantry."

"It's the size of a good bathroom at our present house, Xander."

He grinned. "I know growing boys eat a lot." He got swatted but she was laughing.

Her husband looked over her shoulder. "That could almost be another bedroom." They went to look downstairs. The media room had twelve seats and room for another ten seats if you wanted, plus a snack bar off to the side. The gathering room had a pool table and a bar area but other areas that could house games. There was a half bath down there on one side near the door to the outside and beyond the media room was a bedroom with a bathroom tucked into the hillside. Not a lot of light but a pretty nice room and bathroom. They went upstairs to see the other bedrooms. The pack leader gasped as they walked into the master bedroom, looking around. "This is huge. It could be three bedrooms."

Xander pointed at a good sized nook that didn't have a door but had a pretty archway around the entry. "This area is slightly enclosed to be an office or for a baby in a cradle." The wife shook her head. "I figured you'd use it as an office unless you're babysitting." She nodded, going to look in the closet. "There's two of those. And yeah, they came already like that." He showed off the other one. "This one's slightly smaller."

TJ looked. "I think my apartment in DC is that size."

"I think my current bedroom is," the pack wife said. They looked in the bathroom. "Hmm, no spa jets?"

"A lot of people aren't doing those because if you don't clean them monthly they mold," Xander said. "Or so the guy at the appliance store told me." She nodded. "There is a system to lay in there to help," he said with a point at it. "Sometimes ladies need to get away from all the guys." She swatted him but smiled at him for it. The shower was big enough for all four of them to fit in. "All I did was have it retiled. The last owners wanted to hold fun parties in here I guess." They went outside. "The deck wraps around and down to the nicely stoned patio." He led the way down there. "This is the way to the spa, then the pool," he said with a point. "That way is the more wild waterfall and tiny pond, amphitheater, and all the woods up and down the hills." He led them to look at the pool area then down to the amphitheater and hillsides.

"It's a bit steep but I can see running around here while changed," the pack wife said, holding her husband's hand. He smiled at her then at Xander. "Expensive?"

"I paid four for it all told. The insurance estimate of worth was closer to eight mil but I'd let the pack have it for four and a half. I know you guys need the security. The gate's already secure, with cameras and automated electrical output at night. I upped it to what Pauley has on his now."

"That is a nice system," the pack leader said. "Very expensive."

"Forty-six acres," Xander said with a slight shrug. "There were smaller ones. One had sixteen but it was really near some other houses. I had one other choice but it looks a lot larger than it is and it kinda looks like a hotel on the outside. A lot of squares of glass and overhead walkways. Less land too." He looked out at the sparse trees then at them. "Getting you guys safer and out of downtown LA would help everyone. Especially with the one young soon being born. You guys can't run down there where you are right now. The hunters are getting more and more dumb so it'd be safer up here."

"We've had a hunter stare at the house a few times," the pack wife said, looking up at her mate.

Xander nodded. "He's a pelt hunter. But..." He smiled. "The state legislature is going to be making being a were a disease so you're more protected."

The pack leader grimaced. "We don't like that."

"That means the pelt hunters can be charged with killing you guys," Xander said. "Otherwise it's a problem, but it does give you legal recognition and protections."

"That's a good point," she agreed, squeezing his hand. "We could use the legal protection from pelt hunters."

"I can agree with that part but it's not really a disease."

"They had to put it into language even the hidebound asses that are career politicians can understand," TJ said. "They're usually not all that smart."

"Good point," the pack leader sighed. He looked around, smiling at the amphitheater's seats. "This is really nice, Xander. Can we think?"

"Yeah. That's not a problem." He shook their hands. "I can give you guys a few weeks."

"Thank you. This is beautiful." She looked back at the house then at Xander. "Are you two moving somewhere safer?"

"Not sure yet," Xander admitted. "I have one in mid-flip and I have the condo but I don't have a working area and the vault's still back there."

She nodded. "That's important."

"I'm about to find Willow's sense and reinsert it." They walked back around to the cars.

TJ looked up then at Xander. "Would you want something this massive?"

He smiled and shook his head. "Nope. Maybe a few acres for some wandering. I don't need something this massive. Room for a bigger vault, but not all this."

TJ looked then nodded. "I live in an apartment."

"I did for many years but it's safer if I have a free standing house so I can ward it better. Otherwise you have weakened protections on one wall."

"I guess that makes sense." He looked around then got into the car, letting Xander get in to drive. "You only clear a half mil of profit?"

"And about sixty-nine bucks," Xander admitted. "If they don't want it, I'll be selling it at appraised value."

"That's sensible. It's just because they're a pack?"

"They need the security." Xander looked at him. "Pelt hunters ...well, it's not pretty but they find a changed being and skin them. Alive." TJ shuddered, shrinking down some. "Yeah, so they need the protection. For necessary and needed places I'll make a lot less profit. I'd probably let them talk me down to a few hundred above cost, but they know that because we've known each other for a few years. Them and the local children's hospital were the first ones to get my warding skills."

"No one mentions that about you."

"Of course not." He smiled. "Why mention the good things? That doesn't sell news." He started the car and drove down the driveway, locking the gate again. "Want to see the condo?"

"If you're comfortable."

"I probably am." He smiled, driving him that way. When his phone rang he hit the button on his hands-free system. "Talk to me."

"Xander," Cordelia said. "We have problems."

"Of course there are. It's a beautiful day and I'm out with my boyfriend. What sort of problems, Cordy?"

"Were you trying to get a demon hand?"

"No. I haven't heard one's up for sale. I have two in the vault but I know they're still in there because you'd have to break the magic then break the cases then the lockboxes they're in."

"What mage did the magic for you?" she asked.

"Three of them, independently. Plus I go to a crafter to get the boxes the lockboxes are in. The main system was done by Henry."

"Yeah, they found him dead last night," she said.

"Oooh, shit. I was thinking about moving too."

She snorted. "Do you have weapons?"

"Of course I do. Let me hurry home to grab some. Unless we need *weapons*?"

"Yeah, we might." She cleared her throat. "LAPD is giving me really dirty looks."

"Send me pictures so I know what pretty thing to pick out, princess."

"Done," she said. "Get here fast?"

"Twenty," he said. "You know that. Unless you don't want me to look in my vault?"

"No, do that later." She cleared her throat. "It's going to eat a school. The one you were worried about got scared off by this one."

"Yup, ten," he said, then hung up. He checked traffic behind him then turned the car around. He went to a storage area he had, waving at the guy at the gate. The guard waved back. Xander got out and went to his storage area, coming out with two heavy cases. TJ got out to grab one for him. "Thanks." He went back to get another one. Then locked things up and came back to the car. It went into the backseat then he got in to drive. He looked at the directions, going to that area. He parked behind the police cars, whistling.

"Guys, I've got what we need to kill it," he called. A police officer rushed over. "TJ, stay with the car. If it comes this way, move the car?" TJ nodded quickly, shifting to sit in the driver's seat; it was his rental anyway. Xander got the other two from the trunk, making the officer stare. "Sometimes you need it." They hiked off together. "Princess of Meanness." Cordelia turned around. "Help me here. I need a brace." She set up the cases to do that while he readied the weapon. He looked at the demon. "I have one of those in my vault," he said quietly. "If someone magical broke it, I'll kill them myself."

"We'd like to arrest them," an officer said, looking at him. "Harris."

"Yup." He waved a hand. "Poker debt for the invasion." He looked at the demon then pulled out his sharpie to mark on the small missile. Then he fired it off at the demon. It screamed and fell back a few steps then came at them. Xander fired off the second one, then kicked open the third weapon, firing it up at the demon trying to loom over them. "Bye, bitch," he said with a wave. It fell over dead. Xander looked at Cordelia. "Pieces."

"I got a sword," she said.

He looked back. "Tell TJ to get my machete from the trunk please? It's under the flap next to the tire." An officer called back to one nearer to the car. TJ came back with the machete.

"Thanks. We have to chop it into pieces so it can't regenerate."

"That's gross. I'll be back at the car," TJ said, hiking back there shaking his head.

Xander looked at Cordelia, who nodded. "I'm going to check the vault immediately after my shower."

"I can be there to help," she said. "Just in case it was the Queen of the Dark Ideas."

"Oh, if it's her, I'll be dealing with the bitch." They went to cut it up. Xander took the head with him, tossing it into the trunk no matter how many funny looks TJ was giving him. "It can't regenerate without it. I have a special box to store it in so it can't regenerate." TJ just nodded. "It means no one else can summon it." He got into the car, letting TJ drive back to their present house. It was a wreck but the reason was dead thanks to the things eating it that came out of the fireplace. "Thanks, fishies." He patted one. "Let me shower then I'll hit the vault." TJ got out of the way of the fish. "It won't eat you, TJ. The wards know you're supposed to be here." He took a quick shower then went out to get the head. He went down to the vault, looking around. "Someone did try to breach it but didn't manage it."

"How can you tell?" TJ asked. Xander pointed at a red light. "That's a warning?"

"Yeah. Someone with a magic nullifying something probably." He got into it, then put the head away. He came out, wincing at the sounds. "TJ, hit the panic room," he said with a point. "They can't hurt you." He locked himself in the vault.

TJ was getting into the panic room's door when the two hunters and an agent stomped in. "I'm just a guest, guys." He stepped in there, letting the door shut before someone grabbed him. He called the number he had gotten from Xander's phone. "Cordelia, we have two hunters and an agent breaking in here but he said the vault wasn't breeched. I'm in the panic room. Thanks." He hung up and watched on the security system. The agent couldn't break the lock with any federal code. Xander had designed his paranoid areas very well. The two hunters trying to get into the vault were being stymied too.

Cordelia stomped in with Gunn. "People," she said sharply. The hunters stared at her. "Xander's vault wasn't breached. Someone tried." She looked at the agent. "Then again, you're not a real agent." He sneered and moved toward her. "Try it, mother humper." She pointed. A real agent they trusted walked in. "Xander?" she called.

"If I come out, the wards will fall for a few minutes," he called back. "So I'm checking the inventory. I'm only missing one thing and that was what Wilfred took last time when he demagiced the whole city for a day."

"Okay." She looked at the agent then at the safe. "Where's TJ?"

"Safe room," TJ called. "It's got a security camera. I have no idea how to get out."

"Okay," she agreed. She smiled at the agent. "These two are known hunters. They tried to blow up Xander in his car the other day and the LAPD let them go."

"Xander had to shoot one of that group and a few more last night," TJ called. "No idea who the bait upstairs were."

"Those are great but fun," Cordelia said. She looked at the agent. "I'm getting out of the way." She walked off, going to the kitchen to make a snack. The biting fish were fine with her. She had a pet one for a few months before Angel had killed it for trying to eat him. Another officer came in and grimaced. "The fish only eat dead tissue."

"That's still gross."

"Then they shouldn't have broken in. Huh?" She sipped a bottle of water while making some honey toast.

"How can you eat?"

"You haven't lived until your graduation turns into a huge battle against a giant demon worm." She stared at him. "I've seen worse." He headed down to help the agent. She settled in to nibble while checking her email.

The officer walked into the area he heard voices in. "Agent Elier, you called for backup?"

"No, but I did," the real agent said. "That is not an agent." He pointed at him. "Though I called for FBI backup. So why did you show up?"

"They called Dispatch, Agent...."

"Toliver." He held up his ID. "Special Investigations." The officer winced.

Two agents stomped down there. "Agent Toliver, you called for backup?" one demanded.

"Yup. Two hunters and a false agent." He pointed at them. "Then this officer showed up without being called. They're trying to break into security sealed vault that holds magical artifacts."

One agent nodded. "We know this is Harris' house, sir."

"He's in the vault," Agent Toliver said. "Because it'd bring down some of the security system for a few minutes."

"That's good to know," one agreed. He pulled a gun, pointing it at Toliver.

"I've called the Secret Service for you endangering my life," TJ called.

"Who're you?" the other agent demanded.

"TJ Hammond."

The agents looked at each other then one fired at the safe room. Which set off the rest of the security system.

"TJ, pull Toliver in," Xander called. "Use the blue button to fade the door while protecting yourself."

TJ found that button and pushed it then reached out to grab the good agent. He got him inside the room before the gas came out. "I have no idea," he told the agent. "I just started to date Xander and he said he couldn't open the door without something happening."

"I get that," he said. "Thank you for protecting me. Do we have a phone line?" TJ let him have his phone. "I have mine." He called that in. "Director, Senior Agent Toliver, Special Investigations team in LA. I have a false agent, two dirty agents, two hunters and they're all trying to get back at the guy who wards hospitals. Plus I have the former first son who is his boyfriend, who saved me from whatever magical system Harris has on his vault area. We're both in the safe room thanks to Harris and Hammond. I have no idea, sir."

"Xander had to hurry back to check the vault in case that demon earlier was from it," TJ told him. "Xander said someone had attempted to breach it but it didn't work. That may be who was being eaten upstairs."

The agent repeated it. He nodded once. "Thank you, Sir." He hung up. "They're coming to help. It'll be about a half hour." He looked at the camera, shaking his head. "Whatever that gas is, I don't want to know."

"Me either. Though I know a few people I'd like to introduce it to."

"Me too," Agent Toliver said. They waited while their real backup got there. With a redheaded witch.

"Get Willow out of my house," Xander called. "Before I come out there to kill her for sending hunters to kill me."

"We need her help, sir."

"Cordelia can do it. She's upstairs."

"You can come out," Willow sneered.

Xander partially opened the door. "If I open it any farther she could summon something out of the vault full of stuff I'm keeping away from her and others like her. Including things to summon demons like earlier."

"No, you stay in there, sir," one agent said. "We can get a statement soon. Our other agent?"

"Safe room," Xander said with a point. "It'll only open for myself or three other people. Cordelia is one." He shut the door. The magic spell hit the doorway. "I'm going to smite her like she's a doll and I'm GI Joe." Another spell hit it. Xander sighed and found something in there, using the emergency teleporting stone he had made for Willow emergencies. He appeared out there and punched her, making her go down with a scream and start crying. He sighed, looking at the agents. He held up the stone. "I had it made so I could appear wherever she was fucking up this time. She's a magic addict." He walked over to the safe room, letting them out. "TJ, go hang with Cordy or go for a drive? It's entirely possible she's going to sling around more spells that could hurt you."

"They can't hurt you?"

"She nearly killed me the last time, TJ. Please?" he said quietly.

"Call for dinner." He stared at him. Xander smiled, taking a kiss so TJ would go. On his way out, he called his mother. "It's me. I'm safe. Willow Rosenburg's been trying to harm Xander. She sent hunters to kill him and today we had fake agents," he said in greeting. "No, I'm good, Mom. He sent me out of the house so he could deal with her." He got into his car and sped off. He paused. "Oh, damn, that school. I'll call back, Mom."

He hung up and called Cordelia. "I'm near a school. There's a huge demon leering at a playground with only a few kids." He hung up and called his mother back. "Okay, I'm back." He pulled off to the side of the road. Cordelia sped past a few minutes later. TJ didn't want to watch her deal with it. Though she had help that showed up as they drove past him. That was good. Hopefully someone saved those kids. He knew he couldn't do it even if he wanted to. Maybe he'd have Xander teach him how to use a sword or something.

Xander looked at the good agents, shrugging. "I'm sorry but she's apparently backslid. Should I call her minders?"

"No, she can call them for bail money," one of the backup agents said. "Your vault holds...."

"Beyond magic books and artifacts? There's an inner area that holds dangerous things I've been keeping out of bad hands, including hers. Most of them can't be destroyed."

"Thank you," Agent Toliver said. "Did anyone get into it?"

"No. I checked the holding box that holds a piece of that type of demon; it wasn't from the one I have stored. Now I have three pieces since I had two of the other one."

"Can they be destroyed?"

"The demon can remake it," Xander said. "Otherwise I would've held a bonfire."

"I did not realize that they could do that," Agent Toliver said. "You're not going to put them out as a kit, right?"

"Hell no. I'd have to fight it." He grimaced. "I usually send most of those out to fight other problems. Or the genie kit, which tends to weed out some of the weaker, stupid sort." He smiled. "Evil is lazy and doesn't like to do their own research. I'm more worried about higher level magic users who are desperate and need me to research but I never do personal jobs outside of protections."

"That's fine," Toliver said. "I get that. Our sort of evil tend to be lazy but smart."

Xander nodded. "Quite often. I had one that complained I didn't include the two cups of sugar."

Toliver laughed, nodding. "Understood." He looked then at the agents. "What does that gas do?"

"Makes them zombies so the fish in the fireplace can eat them. They only eat dead things." He grinned. "I gave one to my ex Cordelia but it kept trying to eat Angel."

The three agents nodded at that, picking up the idiots. "Anything to counteract it?" one of them asked.

"It takes about twenty-five minutes to fully kill them. Give them air and detox them fully at Beth Israel, they have someone who can do that. They should be fine."

"Thank you, Mr. Harris. Is there a way we can at least glance in?"

"No. If I do that, I'll have to fully reset the wards and that'll cause problems. Actually I'm looking to move somewhere a bit safer thanks to all of this. Before it was every few months. It's been six in the last two months now. I'm really tired of them and I'm about to handle it in a very bad way."

They nodded, hauling the bad guys and Willow out to arrest. Xander got things cleaned up, then went up to help the ME's people remove the dead bodies. Xander settled in to find a house that was better protected that he could work on. Though he was still going to smite Willow. Mostly to keep her from doing something like buying a genie kit to make a wish against him. He made up a protection set for him and TJ against that. Just in case.

***

TJ took the small box, looking at it then at Xander. "What's this?"

"A protection against Willow." TJ put it on. Xander grinned. "Want to help me pick out where we're moving?"

"Is that like buying a house together?"

"No. My money, my house, but I need someone to look with me. You have taste. Last time I took a stripper I worked with to find the current one."

"Sure, I can do that. I'm not ready to buy a house yet. Or get a pet."

Xander smiled. "I'd love a pet but it'd probably hurt the protections." TJ looked confused. "Dog fur."

"Oh. Okay." He settled in to eat dinner with his boyfriend. "Are we going back there tonight?"

"No. We're going to the condo tonight. It's safer."

"Good. That's kind of creepy."

"I know. I'm still waiting to hear if that group wants to take that one house."

"That's way too big."

"But if not, it's available for a few weeks."

"Good point," TJ agreed. "We can see." Xander nodded and they dug into the salads that came. "Did you order?"

"Just the salads."

TJ took a menu and picked out his main dish then Xander picked his usual. They dug in, talking about what Xander wanted in a new house. He had some specific needs and some weird wants. Six bedrooms? Maybe.

***

Xander looked at his favorite realtor, smiling at her. "I need to move away from the asshole-known place I'm currently in."

She smiled. "All right. That's probably doable. How soon do you need to move, Xander?"

"Soon. Today if possible."

"Hmm. Not your usual desire. I'm going to assume you want security?" He nodded. "Have you sold that one estate yet?"

"I'm waiting to see if the ones that I had in mind want it first. They have about another week to let me know. We can move in there if we have to and they don't want it."

"The condo?"

"No work area and I don't like being away from the vault for that long."

"Good point." She pulled up her listings. "What sort of style are you thinking about?"

"I like the mediterranean style personally. Though I do have a fondness for some fairytale towers now and then."

"I've seen that in the past." She looked up that style. "How much room do you need for your work area and the vault?" She looked at him.

"I'm not against putting them in a guest house but I'd need a fast way of getting to it. If the house is big enough, that's fine too."

"Are you going to have a lot of guests?"

"I have a current guest," he said with a grin.

"I've seen pap pictures of you in the tabloids. You're cute together." He grinned at that compliment. "Lots of entertaining room?"

"Some so I have places to wander. A library for the books. A tv area to watch the world freak out." She nodded, upping the square feet needed. "I'm picky but not that picky. TJ would be helping me look but he's back in DC to talk to someone about his club. I'd ask Cordy but she's got another migraine." The realtor nodded at that. "Once we get that one, I'll let you sell my old one, and depending on where the new one is, maybe the condo too."

She smiled. "I could like that. Your present house is very safe." He nodded. "Well, I have two options or one that's probably too small but it could be expanded."

He considered it. "Way too much time probably."

"Probably," she agreed. "We can go look at these two and I'll look at other options on the way."

"Sure. Are we taking your car and driver or my car?"

"Let's take mine. It's less known in case a hunter decides to lose his mind." Xander nodded, following her out to her car. She had a nice driver, who took the addresses they were heading to. Xander held open the door for his realtor then climbed in with her. They drove off, heading for the outlying areas of the city.

Xander looked back and sighed. She looked then at him. "I'll have a word with them. They're not usually the stupid sort so maybe it's a real life problem." She gave him a tiny smirk. When they stopped, Xander got out, walking back there. He stared at the hunters in the car. "I have to move thanks to the more stupid of your kind," he said in greeting. "Leave my realtor alone."

"Not here about that. We've heard there's a pack moving in."

"No. There's a few packs that I've offered a house to." He stared at them. "Even then, they tend to be peaceful around here. None getting out to attack others."

"That's fine but the one we heard is more of a street gang."

Xander frowned. "Really?" He pulled out his phone to call. "Pack leader, a hunter just told me there's a street gang of a pack coming this way that may possibly cause problems? Is there anything I should hear to work up protections for?" He listened, leaning on their car hood. "That's good to know. Oh, *them*," he said, grimacing. "No, I'm working on moving right now. No, I don't need something that massive, but I do need an area that's got less land and more security for the vault.

"Yeah, that thing. Thanks, man. Let me know if you need my help. I may not be of the pack but I'm more than happy to help protect the pack, especially that tiny one. Good luck." He hung up and turned to look at the hunters, tucking into his pocket again. "They are coming, a few are here, they're not causing problems. Yet. If they should they will call an all-pack event to deal with it." The hunter winced but nodded. "Yeah, and I'll help if necessary."

"Vault?" the other hunter in the car asked. He leaned closer.

Xander grinned. "I've kept a lot of things away from Rosenburg and others," he said dryly. "Including a few hunters the other day that pretended to be agents to get into it."

"They thought you'd be using it to summon something," the hunter driving said.

Xander smiled. "If I wanted to do that, I'd ask a poker buddy, guys." They groaned. "The vault is security for things like a part of a demon it'd need to be summoned back, magical books, some artifacts...." He made a hand wave in the air. "Things that should not be in hands I don't trust. I've done that since I used to confiscate things from nests back in Sunnydale."

"That's good to know. If we ask, can you look up a certain demon?"

"Probably. Depending on why. I try not to get into those things."

"One of us has one that's trying to court him."

"Is it that female hunter Courtney?"

"No," the other hunter said with a grimace. "Is one?" Xander nodded. "It's the one going after Darish."

"From what little I've heard about him, he asked for a boon. I got warned he had asked for one and to be careful about him." He stared down at them. "Getting him out of his deal might not work totally. I'm not sure about his deal or the contract's details. I'd need it to make sure."

"I can see if he'll let you see it," the driving one said. "Are you okay?"

"No. I have to move because there's been nine attacks on my house in the last three months thanks to the idiot ones that you need to say aren't hunters."

"Oh, them." The driving one nodded.

"Yeah, complete with an unreal agent and attempting to help Rosenburg break into the vault yesterday. With what's in there, there's no telling what they were really going to do."

"Destruction?" they asked in unison.

"Impossible. It'll summon them." He grinned. "I've got some mythical level stuff in there." He walked off. "Have a better afternoon, guys, and show up tomorrow afternoon if you need me."

"Sure, thanks," the driver said, driving off while his hunting partner called the other hunters they knew. "What do you think is in that vault?"

The other one looked at him. "They dealt with a demon that couldn't be destroyed so they had to blow it into parts. I'm pretty sure Harris is keeping a piece of that if not others like it. I would. You would. He's like us only he does magical research."

"If I had the things that are after him the way the rumors state, I'd be protecting myself too," the hunter said. "We've heard he's destroyed a lot of beings who have tried to get him. Including a werewolf the other day."

"I'm so glad I don't draw anyone like that." He considered it for a second. "What about that hellmouth thing?"

"Did you notice he wears three pendants?" his partner said. "One of them has marks of containment."

"I didn't. You think?"

"I don't know. Only he would." He paused. "I doubt he'd tell us."

"Probably not, unless it was to warn about others doing the same thing."

"Point. We can ask." He shrugged. "He might answer. You never know about Harris. He's really strange in a lot of ways."

"I think he's a lot like other hunters but he grew up with Rosenburg," the other one said dryly. "That might explain a lot of that."

"Probably."

***
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