The girls were falling, as were their support. The waves of demons were making a last stand, and Willow knew that she wanted one of her friends to live. Sending another volley of magic at the demons to kill their spell casters, she thought over her options. Buffy deserved her rest. Willow had been selfish once and now understood why Buffy needed to be here, it was her time. Dawn, while it would be good for her to have a normal life, she wasn’t normal like she wanted to believe. It wasn’t that she had anything against Dawn, but sending her away would be too tempting for the other demons to follow. Giles deserved his rest after a full life. He had finally gotten Ethan off of his addiction to Chaos Magic and both were attacking the demons with a mixture of magic and brawn that would make any Slayer proud. Faith was a slayer, and to send her off would be a punishment more than a reward for the dark Slayer, and Willow refused to hurt the reformed Slayer that way. That left Xander; her best friend. He had gotten his eye back after hunting down Slayers, rogue or not, protecting several shaman. His Hyena was a bit more active, but now he had use of both eyes, and he was using the gift given to him to protect some of the Slayers from the demons surrounding them. Smiling sadly, Willow began to chant a specific spell onto Xander and gave him a small shove after he saved one of the Asian Slayers from a rather nasty looking demon that was all arms and no head.
“Help him, keep him safe, tell him we love our Xander-shaped friend and want him to have the life he should have had.”
With those words, Willow let out a pulse of magic, forever blocking the demons from finding Xander, and removing the last trace of anything magical in their dimension. This was their last battle, and while they would die, she knew that she sent the one who deserved the gift of a second chance to live the life she knew he deserved in the first place.
Seven men watched in shock and awe as a blue shimmering circle appeared in their work area. As the small circle grew bigger, each man slowly moved a bit closer, hands on their weapons, and waited, still partially hidden to stay safe, to see what the circle was going to show them. The sight and sound of a body and metal hitting a carpeted floor was loud in the quiet room, and it startled the youngest as he looked at the body in shocked horror. The figure on the ground seemed to be dead as a soft voice was barely herd, begging anyone who was listening to keep the man, if that was what landed in the lobby was, safe from harm. As the voice faded from the minds of the people in the room, a soft groan had them all assessing the lump on the floor. The body shifted, and allowed the assembled people to gape at the wounds on the man. He was covered in blood, dirt and other things that made the men in the room want to vomit, and bruises were blooming on the golden skin. The clothes were ripped and torn limply hanging off the man, showing off hidden scars and gashes that needed to be cleaned. The man slowly sat up and opened his pain-filled eyes to look around the room.
The fall had been painful, but at least the ground was clean. That was the first thing that registered into the mind of the young man. Slowly getting his bearings, glazed brown eyes opened and looked around at everything and nothing. Brown hair was matted down with blood, slime, dirt and paste. Everything he fought for was gone. His girls, all his beautiful, strong and willful girls were dead and gone. Sightless, haunted eyes looked everywhere to find any trace of his girls, but he couldn’t see through the blood that was obscuring his vision. He raised his hand slowly to wipe away at the blood and finally got a good look at his surroundings. He was confused, wasn’t he dead? He was in a room, possibly that of an office as there were desks. Frowning at the sight, his mind slowly focused onto the bits of conversation that he heard. He tried to latch onto it, for he was more afraid of being alone in a new place than being dead.
“…Nasty looking head wound…”
“… Needs medical attention…”
Focusing on the voices, he could make out the shape of several men around him. They were all dressed in good clothes and suits, making him wonder when the Feds had shown up to bug them about another apocalypse.
“… Came out of …. Not normal…”
He snorted softly at that then winced at the pain it caused to his ribs and back. What was that man talking about? He’s the normal one, the Zeppo, the useless one.
“…Wicked looking axe…”
That was his axe thank you very much mister hyper person. It got him through many battles and helped him kill many demons and vampires that were trying to destroy the world, or take over countries, cities, and even people.
“…Seems to acquire…Relief is on its way…”
The tone was off, but the words were comforting. Big words reminded him of friends and family, and apparently held common sense too as he called for help.
Of course he looked lost. Where were his friends? His girls? The battle? He wasn’t supposed to be here, and he’d know if he was dead, wouldn’t he?
The last question made him look up into concerned blue-green eyes. A glass of water was given to him, and he gave the man in black a small, humorless smile.
“Others?” He asked once he drank a bit of the cool liquid. “Where are they? Alive? Safe?”
Blue-green eyes looked him over with a dark assessment and gave him a small, sad smile.
“You appeared alone. Something shimmered here in the lobby and you fell with that axe in your hands, startling all of us.” Brown eyes blinked in shock as the green eyed man continued. “There was a soft voice that seemed to whisper at us to help you and to keep you safe, but other than that, nothing else came.”
“I’m Chris Larabee, you are?”
“Xander, Xander Harris.”
Xander shut down after that and simply let his mind wander over what the man had said. He was alone in a new place, and it was probably Willow that sent him away. He could only hope that they survived, and that if they did die, that they took as many of the sons of bitches down with them. He was so deep into his thoughts on how the rest of the battle could have gone when he heard his name being called.
“Xander, our medic, Nathan, wants to look at your injuries before the ambulance gets here to take you to the hospital.”
“Ummm… Ok…” His tone was hesitant, but before he could change his mind, the black EMT pounce to look him over.
Xander was quickly stripped of his shirt while Nathan checked over each wound.
“Damn, we’re going to have to clean off most of the dirt and gunk off of you. It’ll be too hard to treat your injuries otherwise.”
As Nathan spoke, three of the men had left the room and came back a few minutes later with two bowls and a bag. After setting down the items, Xander noticed that one bowl was filled with hot water, and the other was probably filled with warm water. Also, the bag had a pair of sweats, a white t-shirt and a pair of sandals. As the men worked with Nathan to clean Xander up, the brunet looked at the assembled men around him in confusion, and with a hint or wariness. Why were they helping him? What did they want in return for their services?
Chris watched the young face before him and silently raged at the ancient eyes looking warily at his team. He saw that his undercover agent, Ezra Standish, was also looking at the young man, but his eyes looked at him with an understanding look.
It took the group a good half hour to remove all the traces of blood, dirt and demon guts off of him, and just before Nathan was about to do a serious check on his wounds, the paramedics entered the office. Not wanting Xander to be alone at the hospital, Chris was about to order someone to go when Ezra stood.
“I’ll join you gentlemen in escorting our young friend to the hospital. It would be callous of us to leave him to his own devices while he is in a foreign city.” Xander blinked at Ezra and gave a small chuckle. The chuckle is what caused Chris to nod and watched as the pair left the building to go the Mercy’s General Hospital.
“Alright, JD I want you to start to set up a background for Xander. Once we see him at the hospital, we’ll be able to set up the rest of his identity while he’s here. Vin, Buck I want the pair of you to finish the reports from our last bust. The sooner we get those done, the more time we’ll have to helping our new friend. Josiah I want you to begin a profile on Xander, and Nathan can help you with the minimal medical background that he noticed while cleaning the gunk off of him.” Getting nods from his men, Chris picked up the axe and placed it in his office before going back and cleaning up the items on the floor. Making his way to the bathroom, he dumped the water down the sink before putting the dirty rags in the plastic bag and putting it in the garbage. Now all that was left was informing AD Travis. That wasn’t going to be fun.
The ride to the hospital was tedious as Xander told the paramedics the least amount that needed to be said about his injuries. Ezra watched in awe as Xander babbled on about anything and everything, yet didn’t say anything of importance to the paramedics. Upon arrival at the hospital, Ezra waited for the doctor to arrive and inform him about the extent of the injuries that ailed the young man. Xander Harris was a puzzle to Ezra, and it had been a good long while that he had a decent puzzle to work with.
The energetic young man seemed to be biding his time and Ezra knew that he would run if given the chance. He had a feeling that Xander could find what he needed to survive and get on his feet in, what was obliviously a new world and life. Putting his musings aside, Ezra smiled at the doctor as he came in to lead the way to the brunet’s room to give him the diagnosis of the newest patient within the walls of what Buck had dubbed ‘The Magnificent Seven Room’ as they always got this room when one of them were injured. Upon seeing the doctor and Ezra, Xander frowned and looked between the pair in confusion.
“What’s going on?”
“I was just about to inform Agent Standish about your injuries and the precautions that you need to take while you are healing. You are going to be in a lot of pain, and while I know that you want to leave, you have to remain here over night at the least.”
“No buts Mr. Harris. I know that your team will take care of you and that you really want to leave, but we just want to monitor your health for the night to make sure that there are no complications with your wounds.”
Ezra sat heavily into the chair by Xander’s hospital bed as he was given the young man’s diagnosis. He had three broken ribs on his right side, his left arm was cracked in four places and he sprained his left knee and right ankle. He also had a concussion as well as minor abrasions and many bruises.
After weathering the grumblings of the youth, Ezra had to hide a smile at the sight the brunet was in the hospital bed. The nurses had wrapped him up in blankets. Sitting there in bandages and an air cast, Xander had a dangerous pout playing about his lips, and his eyes shone with his displeasure at being stuck in a hospital bed.
“It could be worse, Mr Harris.”
Xander interrupted Ezra.
“Name’s Xander, Mr. Harris was my scumbag of a father.”
“Xander then, you could be stuck here for a week, eating the slop that they call a meal.” Xander shuddered at that and gave Ezra a dirty look.
“I hate hospitals. I mean, yeah I might be hurt, but I’m taking up a bed that someone with injuries worse than mine could use. Besides, I would have been fine with a bed and a shower, maybe a couple of bandages, but other than that, I didn’t need a hospital.”
Ezra could only smile sadly at the young man with his casual mentioning of his wounds. Like himself, Xander obliviously preferred to deal with his injuries in private. The only reason that Xander was in here at all was because he was in a strange place, and he had arrived in front of Chris and the rest of them.
“Well, if we are lucky, the others will arrive before the evening repast and bring some decent cuisine so that we can get some substance into you. Ah’m not sure about you, but Ah do not believe that they serve food in these establishments. Ah think of it as a reason not to return.”
Xander laughed softly at the words spoken with a southern drawl, nodding at the wisdom of the man beside him.
“I know that it’s supposed to be good for you, but that guarantees that it’ll never taste good.”
Ezra smiled and nodded at the bed ridden man and smirked.
“Ah do believe that you speak the truth.”
“Amen to that.” Ezra and Xander looked at the door way and saw the others slowly shuffle in.
Nathan reached for the clipboard at the foot of Xander’s bed and whistled at the injuries. Now that he could see the others better, Xander began to commit each man to memory.
Ezra had been godsend as Xander had waited for the others. The man’s dry wit and dark humor matched his own very well, and he was hoping that the well dressed, sharp tongued man would become a friend. It reminding him of his discussions with Giles and Cordy, as they allowed him to use his wit to get his point across, and he did enjoy learning new words.
The eldest sat by the window watching the room at large and gave Ezra a small smile. His face was weathered by age, but Xander could tell that he was pleased with his life so far, and enjoyed it where he could.
The tall man with the mustache was beside the older man and seemed to be playing a game of thumb war with the youngest man in the room. While the man may look relaxed, Xander could see the stiffness in the man’s shoulders and wondered if it was because he was trying so hard to win, or because he wanted to ask questions.
The youngest man seemed to be the same age that Xander was, maybe a year or two younger. He seemed to be worried, but was willing to let the others take control at the moment and give Xander a chance to catch his bearings around the group.
Nathan was pacing and asking Ezra questions about what the doctor had told him about the injuries that Xander had received, and he was secretly glad that it wasn’t him that was being asked. He’d be too tempted to say he was fine, and he knew that was the wrong thing to say to the man that seemed to be hell bent on mothering him.
Finally the one that had spoken upon entering was watching him with sharp eyes, even though he was sprawled in the other chair by his bed. The long hair suited the man and made him look harmless if you didn’t know where to look. Xander had a feeling that this man would be similar to Oz back home. He seemed like a man who was soft spoken, and who didn’t let anything faze him, unless it hurt his friends.
Spotting the laptop on the corner of his bed, Xander snagged it and pulled it closer. He was curious about the daily life in this new world, and he had to know if Sunnydale had ever been a part of this place. As he browsed the internet, Xander missed the curious looks being sent to him by Ezra, Vin and Nathan.
Feeling the bed dip by his side, Xander peeked from beneath his lashes and saw that it was Ezra who was sitting beside him. Checking out the web pages and internet maps, Xander silently mourned that Sunnydale never existed in this place. Finding out that Oxnard did, caused a wry grin to slowly spread on his face.
“Oh! Chris said that we had to set you up with identification. So we need as much information that you can give us. It’ll be things like name, parents’ names, date of birth, city of birth, schooling, job history, what your good at, and all that. Also, we need to know what you want to do for a living, and what you plan on doing to start.” The youngest jumped up and kept talking. His babbling reminded Xander of Willow when she was excited about something.
“Let the kid talk JD, and don’t forget to breathe!” The man with the mustache playfully ruffled the curly black hair on JD’s head.
“Buck!” Xander snickered at their antics and let JD take the computer from him.
“Well, I’m Alexander LaVelle Harris. Mock my middle name and suffer. I was born September 14, 1981 to Jessica and Anthony Harris. Since Sunnydale doesn’t exist here, I’d have to say I was born in LA and lived in Oxnard until three years ago.” Xander paused and drank some of the water that Ezra gave him, smiling in thanks.
“I went to an average school, have a straight D+ average, and yet have 1200 on my SAT’s. I know I have a learning disability as I can pick up languages really well, but my English sucks. I was a foreman in construction, and have a good grasp on demolitions as we had to level some buildings before we could do anything. I know my weapons, from archaic to modern, and I know how to modify weapons.” Xander smirked at the gob-smacked look on the faces around him and nodded.
“I can also plan assaults and I have a passing familiarity with undercover workings. I know how to sneak, hide, lie, kill and hunt, but I’ve never killed a human. I’ve wounded many, but I’ve never killed and plan on keeping it that way.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear Xander.” Chris’ voice startled the injured man, and all eyes fell on the door.
“Xander, this is our boss, AD Travis. He’s heard your tale and has come to basically debrief you on what your options are.”
“Mr Harris, I’m glad that you are cooperating with Team Seven as they set up your new identity. Now, I want to know what your plans are, so that I can help make sure that you get the best chances out there.”
“Call me Xander, please. I know I want to help people, but there are many ways to do that. But I love do weapons, so something similar to the job these guys are doing?” Xander looked hopeful. “I don’t want to be in the day to day on the floor shooting, but I would love to work with weapons all day.”
“So, a ballistics tech.”
“You’d be in charge of making sure that the weapons taken off the street matches the crimes that they go with. Like if we get a crate of guns and there are six that are linked to murders in other states, then you write that up and inform the labs at their locations.”
“That’d be cool. I can do a GED then start at a College to begin the training.” Xander shuddered. “I hate school.”
The others held back their snickers from the distraught young man. AD Travis smiled and shook the young man’s hand leaving the room to finish the paperwork needed to make him a real person. Before anyone could make a comment to break the silence, the doctor entered the room.
“Ah, I’m glad you made it Agent Larabee. You should have your men follow this young man’s example when it comes to letting us doctors in doing our jobs. He’s a wondrous patient, and for that, the nurses offered to order him Chinese.”
“SWEET! General Tao’s Chicken please!”
“That’s what they wanted to know. Also, you’ll need to be with someone when we release you tomorrow afternoon.”
“He’ll be with me.”
“Ezra, I don’t want to put you out.”
“Nonsense, I offered, and I wouldn’t make an offer if I didn’t have the means to help you.”
“Thanks Ezra. I appreciate it.”
“Good, now, your meal should be here in forty to fifty minutes. This will give you enough time to freshen up. Do you need any more painkillers?”
“I’m good. Thanks doc.”
“Very well, push the button if you need assistance.”
The doctor left the room and Xander gave an innocent look to the team as they looked at him, and Ezra, in shock.
“What, I’m a good boy.”
That broke the silence as Vin burst out laughing and patted Xander on the head.
“You’re going to fit right in with us Xan.”
Xander smiled and let the group talk over him. While he was upset at having to go to school, Xander knew that these men meant well. He was sure that he could count on them for help in doing the homework needed to pass his courses.
The smell of Chinese wafted through the door, and after flirting and thanking the nurse, Xander devoured his meal in record time. Team Seven watched in fascinated awe as Xander packed away the meal at a fast rate. Xander only noticed that he was being stared at after he finished his last bite and stared back in confusion.
“Was I supposed to share? Sorry ‘bout that.”
“Ain’t that Xan, don’t think that the boys saw someone eat food that fast.”
“Oh. At home it was ‘fend for yourself’ when it came to food.” He shrugged, “If the parents weren’t passed out and smelt the food, they’d try to take it from me.”
Xander’s voice was matter of fact when it came to the situation, and that bothered the seven men more than they knew. Ezra and Vin had an idea that there was more to the fending for himself, but they would ask Xander in private later. Wanting to break the tension before it made Xander more uncomfortable, and before one of the others embarrassed the young man more, Vin spoke up.
“Xan, I have a friend in Las Vegas who’s a Ballistics expert. I can have him come up and talk to ya if you wanted to know more about his trade. He’s realistic about what you can and can’t do, and he’ll know more about the ins and outs of the lab setting than we would.”
“I’d like that. Do you think he’d let me pick at his brain?”
“Well, maybe not actually pickin’ at it, but I can see him answering questions.”
“Ha ha, smart ass.”
Vin shrugged and smiled a small secretive smile.
“Do you want to do more than just weapons?” Chris asked after he managed to calm himself down after the hidden bombshell that he found about the young man’s home life.
“What do you mean? I like weapons.” Xander pouted, causing Chris to chuckle.
“You could also do field. You said that you were good at pretending, if you were a field tech too, I could see about you doing undercover with Ezra.”
Both men looked at Chris with wide eyes, before assessing each other.
“You wanna try something tomorrow when I get out?”
“Ah do believe that would be a most excellent idea. We will have to see if we can pull it off together though.” Ezra raised an eyebrow at the wave of Xander’s hand.
“No worries Ezra. I have a feeling that we can pull it off. My legs will be fine tomorrow, and I have no doubt that we can prove our worth as a team.”
“Wanna bet?” Buck’s voice snapped the attention of both Xander and Ezra.
“What’s the prize?”
“Who’ll end up losing, buys the drinks for the next three days, at the Saloon.”
“How long do we have to get ready?”
“You leave tomorrow, I’d say three days from today. That gives you both at least one full day to get your bearings.”
“I’m game. You Ezra?”
“Ah do believe I will accept the wager.”
“I think they’ll be able to do it.” Vin spoke first.
“Not enough time.” Nathan spoke up and gave both an apologetic look.
“I think they can.” Josiah spoke for the first time in the room.
“I think they can do it!” JD’s enthusiasm made everyone smile.
“I think, like Nathan, it’s just too little time. Sorry boys.” Chris spoke with an apologetic shrug.
“So, it’s three for and three against. Nice.” Xander spoke and snatched a pad of paper from the side of the table.
“What are you doing son?” Josiah’s voice made Xander look up and give a wicked grin.
“I have three days old man. That means we have to start now!”
“Calm down Xan, the boys will be leaving soon, and that’ll give you and Ez a bit of time to get the basics down pat. Also, you’ll have tomorrow morning to start fleshing out your character while Ez does his at work.” Xander sighed and pouted at Vin’s words.
“Fine, I’ll wait.”
Before the others could start a new conversation one of the nurses came into the room.
“I’m sorry gentlemen, but visiting hours are over and the patient needs his rest. You can show up tomorrow, but I have to ask all of you to leave.”
“Of course; we will just say our goodbyes and leave Xander in your capable hands, my dear.”
“Now, Ah shall be down by noon the latest to pick you up. Here is my number to the office. Please call if you are discharged earlier.”
“Thanks Ezra. Night guys,” he yawned. “I’ll see all of you tomorrow.”
The seven men left the hospital all wondering what the next day would bring; now that they had a new friend to add into their circle. Xander snuggled into the thin sheets and smiled softly. While he was sad that Willow had sent him away, Xander was glad that he landed near these people. The seven men that were with him were all doing their best to make him feel comfortable, and they were succeeding. He only hoped that if he attracted anyone, that they would not be evil, and that he would be somewhat safe. Now it was time to find a job, so that he could invest and make what Anya had called baby money.
The next morning, Ezra was glad that he stopped by the hospital on his way to work. Xander had been dressed and ready to go, getting a smile from the undercover agent. Helping him into the Jag, Ezra drove in silence until they reached the Starbucks close to the office.
“Caffeine goodness, here I come!”
Ezra chuckled at the look of bliss on Xander’s face as he drank his sugary coffee, and followed him like an eager puppy to the car.
“I have a plan that we can use to get the guys to think we are someone different.”
“Do you have stage makeup? If we show up as a pair of girls and then tease and torment Chris and them we can use it to our advantage. Also, if we go to one of the sex shops we can get what they call ‘double sided breast forming tape’ it’ll let us attach fake breasts to our skin without causing irritation. Buffy liked it cause it let her go braless more often than not, which freaked Giles and me out when she went into share mode with us.”
“Ah do believe that this can benefit us. There are certain styles of dresses that’ll fit your frame better than mine.”
“Yeah, and we can use Nair when it comes to our legs and all as it’ll just wash away the hair and we won’t cut ourselves. We’ll also have to go out and buy the special padded underwear that’ll let us hide the fact that we have a penis too.”
Ezra burst out laughing and Xander shook in shock.
“Ah love the idea; now, accents or dialects.”
“We’ll be from New York, from the Bronx district. They have a heavy accent and mannerisms would show off two different people. New Yorkers are loud, rude and obnoxious. They are also very opinionated and like to speak their mind. We could have been street girls that take crap from no one and became very successful in our chosen field. Say, fashion? I know tons about fashion because of Willow, Buffy, Faith and Cordy.”
“Ah do believe that we have our bodies and tones. Now, we need names, and we need backgrounds, including what each person likes.”
“Well, I’ll be Cordelia Janna Kalderdash and you can be Anyanka Kendra Jenkins. I can tell you ‘bout Anya and you could use her attitude towards your part. She was blunt, and had a bunny phobia. She loved money and sex. She also knew her limits. She was a Cosmo girl and loved to shop and get sparkly things. If it shone or gave her money, she was happy. She had the best imagination when it came to torturing men for hurting women and girls who were scorned. She could walk circles around you with her words, but you have to remember that she didn’t use big words. While she wasn’t an airhead, she preferred to keep everything simple, unless she was psyching you up for some mental torture.”
Ezra licked his lips. “So, Anyanka Kendra Jenkins is a hard woman that keeps her girls safe with money and mental torture. She’ll do what she has to in order to survive and she does enjoy a good spot of violence. She loves sex, and the more she gets the better. She has a finical mind and loves it when she makes money. She has a deep sated fear of bunnies and rabbits, and is the financial manager of their clothing line.”
“That’s right. I’ll be Cordelia Janna Kalderdash and I am the queen of snark. I can dress a man down with a verbal tongue lashing that’ll leave even the toughest man in tears. Fashion is my life, as is my dream to be an actress. Since we have so many friends that need to strip to survive, our fashion is suited more towards their profession. We do, however, also make clothes for the high class society and make a mint off of them. Cordelia has been known to be blunt and is devious with a computer. The girls on the street call her a techno-pagan as whenever she deals with electronics it’s like she’s working magic.”
The pair of them stepped out of the Jag once Ezra was parked at the office and they stopped in for a pass for Xander. Nodding to the receptionist, Xander went back to telling Ezra about their new identities.
“Both are all about the fashion, and love their fruity coffees. They are also very weight oriented. With my build, I had been a bouncer and a weight lifter in the underground networks. You would have been a kick boxer or martial artist with your build and worked best with a whip and knives. We can flesh out more later on because I think we’re at your floor.”
Ezra chuckled and led the way as Xander smirked at him. “Ah’ll enjoy working with you on this project, Xander, as Ah have a feeling it will give us delightful reactions.”
“Xander! I thought you were getting out later today.” JD’s voice brought the attention of everyone to the brunet and Xander smirked.
“Well, the doctor said that I had been such a good boy that he would let me leave early in the morning. I didn’t even have to call as Ezra seemed to have a premonition and picked me up at the hospital. I didn’t even have to ask about drinks, as we stopped for nummy coffee. Anything else?” Brown eyes batted at JD causing the others to laugh at the blushing and stammering computer expert.
Taking pity on the young Bostonian, Chris gave Xander a pointed look and got an innocent look in return.
“What, I’m a good boy. My knee and ankle are fine, as long as I take it easy, I know I won’t hurt my ribs or jar my arm. Now, do you have a spare computer that I can borrow? I wanna step up some accounts on line and start looking for a simple job to keep me busy during the day.”
Chris rolled his eyes and pointed at the spare desk and Xander practically squealed as he was between Ezra and Vin. This way he could plot with Ezra and get Vin’s input when it came to good jobs in the area. While he was staying with Ezra, he was going to have to go shopping and get clothes. That meant he’d have to find a way to get funds, or borrow clothes until he could purchase his own. He’d have to see if there was a Thrift store nearby, or a Salvation Army.
After turning on the computer, Xander quickly set up an account on hotmail, yahoo and Gmail. He wanted options of multiple emails if he needed and made one of them perfect for job hunting. Xander quickly wrote a note to both Vin and Ezra asking for information. He wanted to know the most about the city of Denver as possible.
Two emails quickly popped into his Gmail account and Xander’s wicked chuckle caused heads to turn as he bestowed the group with an innocent smile. Seven pairs of eyes were watching him now and Xander quickly ignored them in difference to hunting for the best places to get clothes and personal items for his stay in Ezra’s town house.
Finding several places that needed help, Xander was surprised that there were plenty within walking distance of the building. Xander kept browsing until he saw that a hardware store three blocks away was in need of a wood worker. Brightening up at the find, Xander sent the link to Ezra and Vin asking if it would be alright if he was that close to the building, and if it would be possible to get his information quickly so that he could apply at the store later today. Getting back two replies of yes, Xander’s face split into a wide happy smile and he began to hum as he now began to hunt for good thrift stores to help and make sure that he had enough clothes. He really did miss his shirts.
Seeing the banks that were nearby, Xander asked Ezra which was the best to deal with. Getting back a list of several banks in the area, Xander decided on the US Bank, which was a block from the office. Sending them a quick email, Xander got an appointment that afternoon at two to open an account. Sending that note to Vin and Ezra, Xander went back to hunting for more jobs, and slowly building more background for the persona that he was going to show off in two days.
“Alright ladies, I need those reports by five this afternoon, and we’ll get three days off. Xander, Ezra, for your bet, we’ll meet you both at the Saloon at noon to prove to us that you can win the bet.” Chris spoke to the group and missed the shared look between Xander and Ezra.
Vin spotted the shared look and wondered about the look of amusement that Xander and Ezra shared, but figured it had to do with their bet. He knew that betting against Ezra was a bad thing, and had a feeling that Xander wouldn’t be a disappointment either. The fact that they want to meet up in public will test the outfit better and cause the group to show a higher appreciation towards their undercover agent.
Ezra was laughing at the possible reactions that the group would give, and Ezra would make sure to tease their leader. If what Xander had said was right, then Anyanka was a woman that knew how to turn a guy on with the right words as well. Since she kept things straight forward, that implied she had no tact. He could work with that. He also knew that the use of his ‘thousand dollar words’ were more to aggravate the others than anything else. They expect him to act a certain way, so he had planned on capitalizing upon that. Now that Xander was here and understood those words like he was always around them made Ezra smile. He wouldn’t have to repeat everything to at least one person, and he knew that Xander would translate it for him if he head to now.
Xander was bouncing in joy as he continued to surf the net. Chris was giving them an audience, and Xander knew that he acted best with a large audience. His brief tour as a stripper showed him how much he loved showing off to those around him, and he had a feeling that Ezra was the same. You could melt into the groups better by acting the right way, and since New Yorkers loved shows, well, he was sure going to give it to them. Spotting the time, Xander mentioned his meeting with the bank and Xander practically skipped out of the office after clearing the computer in front of him, leaving behind a smirking Ezra and Vin, and the rest all confused. All Ezra had to do was wait for the young man to return and then they could leave to finish their outfits for the day after.
Six men sat at the Saloon a few blocks from the ATF building as they waited for their bets to walk in. The only problem was that they didn’t know what they would look like. Two young women watched the six men and smirked at their increased frustration and confusion. Catching the eyes of the blue eyed man both ladies left their spots at the bar and made their way over to the table.
“Well hello there, I’m Cordelia and this is my friend Anyanka. We flew in last night and were wondering if you’d give us a tour of the town.” A heavy Bronx accent and a light voice made its way to the table and the six men had to swallow.
Both women were dressed in designer threads. One was a larger build, but that was because of the obvious muscle mass that she had, and due to how she held herself. Sandy brown hair and bright green eyes looked at the assembled men before landing back on the blue eyed man, giving him a sweet smile, softening her look. Her green dress showed off her impressive cleavage and tapered off to show that she had long, strong legs. The other was a bit slimmer and had the build of a fighter. Her fiery red hair and blue eyes landed on the man in black and she sashayed over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. She was in a red wine cocktail dress and was letting the blond man pillow his head in her large chest.
“Well hello sexy. I can be sure to make you a very happy boy if you agree to show us around town.” Her voice was a deep purr and her accent simply oozed sex.
“Cordelia, Anyanka, we’re sorry to decline, but we’re awaiting a pair of friends. They have to finish getting a few things before they meet up with us, that’s all.” Nathan’s voice was a bit wobbly, but he managed to speak without showing how much their accents and bodies were affecting him.
“Well, are you sure that you don’t want to give us a tour? You see, a friend of ours told us that the men at this table would be more than happy to show us around. I can’t believe he was wrong.” Anyanka spoke with such sadness and before anyone could say anything, she pulled Chris in for a tongue tangling kiss.
“Ah, Anya, always able to get what she wants.” Cordelia spoke with amusement and she bent down to give the blue eyed man a kiss.
“We could have had great sex together blondie, too bad and too late now.” Anyanka spoke after her kiss, leaving a glazed eyed man sitting and looking dreamily at the one that controlled his mouth.
Anyanka waved Cordelia closer, after she finished sampling the blue eyed wonder and shared a smirk. The two stepped close to each other and linked arms. Looking at the six men who were looking between the two with expressions of lust, want and disappointment, they let loose a set of wicked chuckles.
“By the way, for the next three visits, drinks are on Chris, Nathan and Buck.” Ezra’s voice came from Anyanka’s lips making the looks of lust, want and disappointment to shift to shock, confusion and disbelief.
“See you boys later!” Xander’s voice floated from Cordelia’s mouth and the pair left six shocked men to dive into the fact that they were just cock teased by the two that they had been waiting for.
“Oh my God!” JD’s voice knocked them all out of their stupor. “I can’t believe it! They were like perfect! They acted like they were really women! I never knew that they could act so well. They even got the voices right. That and they could walk and show off that they were women. No trace of them being men, and they didn’t look anything like Ezra or Xander. My God! I have to know how they did that!”
Before JD could dash towards the door, Vin’s hand held him down.
“We should let them get changed before you chase after them JD.” He licked his lips. “While I have no doubt that they’ll answer your questions, I think they want to get changed first.”
Twenty minutes later Ezra and Xander walked back into the bar. The only thing that remained of their stunts at Cordelia and Anyanka was that fact that their hair was still the same colour as the girls wore. Upon seeing the fiery red hair, Chris’ eyes glazed once more at the reminder of the kiss and he sulked at his beer. Xander and Ezra sat by Vin and smiled sweetly at the assembled men.
“Well gentlemen, Ah do believe that Xander and Ah proved that we could slip in without you discovering who we were.”
“How did you guys make your chests look so real?” JD’s excited voice made Xander smirk at Ezra.
“Told ya it’d be the first question asked.” He put his hand out and Ezra slapped a fifty in the man hand.
“We had silicone falsies that we simply put in a bra and held them in place with double sided breast tape. Finding the right size bra was a bit difficult, but we managed. I think the sales woman had a good laugh at our expense for it, but it was worth it.” Xander gave a wicked smirk to the table, “Next question?”
“Where did ya learn to act like a girl?” Vin asked quietly.
“Well, I learned because I was surrounded by girls for most of my life; Buffy, Cordy, Anya, Willow, Tara, Joyce, Jenny, Kendra, Faith, and more. We lived, bled and cried together; just like a family. We loved, we lost, we fought and we did what we had to. But the girls were always given the chance to be girls, so after being around them for so long, I simply acted like they did.”
“Ah learned watching my Mother. As you know, Maude is all about appearances. If you acted rich, you were rich. If you acted like a sad, lonely widower, you were a sad lonely widower. The goal was to see behind the masks. Also, Xander told me how Anya acted, so I simply made myself act as she would have.”
“Yes Chris, Anya would have kissed you like that and then mourn the loss of a sex partner since you had declined her in the first place.”
“Be grateful, Xander mentioned that she had a very active imagination for people who insulted her, especially against men. She liked to describe the unspeakable acts of torture that she would rain upon them for hurting those she cared about, and apparently she was very graphic.”
“Yeah, Ahn was like that. She’d normally want sex right after it too.”
“WHAT?!” Six voices shouted at once.
“Yep; sex, money and torture were her favourite things.”
“Damn kid, you don’t do things by half do ya?”
“Almost married her to; left her when her friends intervened and told us how much we’d hate the married life together. I refuse to become my father, so I left.”
“What do you mean refusing to be your father?”
“Anthony Harris is a self-pitting drunk who regularly beat me and my mother. He hated the fact that he was stuck in a low paying job and that his son had dyslexia. His wife was so cowed by his anger and size that she took to drinking and popping pills to seem happy. I would have ended up beating Anya, and I refuse to even entertain the idea, so I left her. She died two years later when the town sunk from an underground cave collapsing.”
The table was silent after the revelation and Ezra patted his friend’s hand and Vin laid his upon the man’s shoulder.
“Why did you choose those names?”
“Ah went as Anyanka Kendra Jenkins. Xander wanted to honour the women he knew, so I was given those two names. You were told about Anya, but Kendra was a fighter. She enjoyed a good fight and had won many town championships. She met with Xander in his senior year and was killed by serial killer. She was compassionate and had a childish curiosity. Xander mentioned that she was almost like a child in her innocence.”
“I went as Cordelia Janna Kalderdash. Cordy was a powerful woman. She could knock a man down simply with a dressing down. In school we said she had a whip for a tongue as she would lash you to pieces, making you cry like a baby. She was all about saying what she wanted and didn’t care what you thought. While she projected a shallow image, Cordy had depth and helped out people, even if it wasn’t in the open like most people would think she would do. I remember her helping a girl from a lower income family get a good dress for the prom, and then only ask that if she was going to keep it that she help someone else like that some day.” Xander took a sip of his beer.
“Janna Kalderdash, or Jenny Calendar as we knew her, was a good woman. She was our computer teacher in school, and she had a wicked sense of humour. She was so good with computers she called herself a techno-pagan, simply because she made computers dance with very little effort. She dated our school librarian who was like a father figure to us and was killed two weeks before Kendra was by the same serial killer. He was sick and left her for dead in Giles’ bed, candles burning and everything romantic.”
“Jesus…” Josiah whispered.
“Yeah, but she went down fighting. She got the info together to help us get the facts to help the police.”
“Damn kid…” Buck muttered.
“We lived, and moved on, even though we missed her like mad. But those were the four women we used to introduce ourselves to you.” Xander spoke with fondness.
The six that hadn’t heard the story about the girls the first time were in shocked awe at what had happened. Xander watched them all through heavy lidded eyes, and slowly sipped the beer sitting in front of him. He was willing to take a chance with these men; he could only hope that they took one in return.
“So, I guess that means that we get free drinks for the next three visits, right?” Three groans were heard while five men laughed.
As the group chatted and spoke about what was going on in their lives, Xander sat back and let the conversations flow lover him. He knew that he would learn more about the people around him by listening to them talk, and he was surprised that only Nathan was in a relationship. As he talked about his date with a woman named Rain, Xander watched as Buck and Chris shifted and slid closer together. Smiling softly, Xander knew that there was a hidden component when it came to the blond leader and his second in command. He would keep their secret, and support them when they came out. He knew the dangers of the job would increase if others found out, and Xander refused to allow that.
“Xan, I got a message back from my friend in Las Vegas. Bobby said that he’d be willing to come up for a weekend to talk to you about it. He offered two weeks from now.” Vin spoke quietly, watching and smiling at the others as well.
“Two weeks from now is fine. I only start working after that weekend anyways. The new boss liked my credentials so he said I could start in two weeks.” Xander gave a wicked grin, “Helps that I began to rattle off construction materials. I explained it as working under the table for a few crews in my hometown when I needed the extra cash.”
Vin chuckled and both sat back and enjoyed the conversations flowing around them once more. Catching Ezra’s eye, Xander smiled and flicked his eyes to the door. While he did enjoy a good time out, drinking and alcohol still bothered him when he was surrounded by it.
“Gentlemen, Ah’m sorry to say that Xander and Ah must go. As we have the time off because of the last successful bust, Ah have promised him a tour of our fine city.”
“Alright, both of you enjoy the time off. Oh, and get the kid some new clothes.” Xander stuck his tongue out at Chris for that.
Waving as they left, Xander smiled at the thought that his new life was slowly coming together.
Two weeks passed by quickly and before Xander knew it, he was sitting in the Jag and pulling into Vin’s driveway. Over the past two weeks only Ezra and Vin really got past his defenses. Finding that the happy and confident young man was hurting worse than they could ever imagine, the pair did what they could to make Xander feel at home.
Willow’s single-mindedness to have him live a good and happy life, away from demons, struck him as egotistical in her regard to him. He knew that he wasn’t a Slayer and had finally gotten to the point where he could step back and let the girls fight. However, he wouldn’t have traded his time working alongside Buffy and the others for anything. The trials and battles that they had fought made him the man he was today, and Willow making this decision for him hurt him greatly.
They had been discussing what they might be like if they had never jumped into the Slaying business, and Xander said that he’d probably be working construction or dead by the hands of a demon some night later. Willow had gone quiet after that, and while Xander figured that she was planning something, he just had to remind her that this was his life, and he was happy that he lived it so well so far.
Before he could, however, the alarm sounded and everyone was getting geared up. The demons were trying to strong hold them by doing a surprise attack. Grabbing several grenades and other long distance weapons to help them out, Xander made sure to save as many girls as he could. He knew that a lot of girls, witches and watchers were going to die in this battle, but he had hoped to see it through.
He knew something was wrong when he felt a tug and then a hard push, and silently screamed at Willow for ripping his choice away from him again. Just as the portal closed, he felt his best-friend and everything he had called home be destroyed by Willow’s magic and mentally screamed in anguish at the unfairness of it all. He was supposed to die in that battle with the others, by sending him away, he was doomed to live alone without the family he loved and wanted to be with once more.
Ezra and Vin had to work past the post traumatic stress disorders that plagued Xander’s mind, and slowly began to build a new friendship base that helped Ezra as well. Due to Ezra’s past with the FBI and his mother’s teachings from a young age, Ezra had as many walls that Xander did, and knew the only way to help him was to slowly tear down his walls as well. While he still spoke with his bigger than average words, Xander and Vin enjoyed it as it let them know when he was exasperated or simply in a teasing mood.
The two weeks of working and playing together gave the three men a chance to feel more at ease in more and more activities that were held at Chris’ ranch, the Saloon and the others’ homes as well. Being around the others Xander slowly let the mask of a joker fall off his face, and was finally able to breathe without the constant strain of trying to stay in a mold from his youth.
During his stay at Ezra’s townhouse, Xander was the one to get his Southern friend to unpack his belongings, his words of wisdom struck a chord in Ezra that he doubt that he would forget anytime soon.
“If you expect the norm to be what will always happen, then you will always be proven right. The more you look for the bad things, the more they outshine the good. Try looking for the good things and you’ll see the same efforts that are being pushed towards me are still coming towards you.”
Because of Xander’s words, Ezra took a moment to look over the past year and saw that he was right. The team was trying to reach out, and hoping to befriend him. Slowly reaching out in return, Ezra was surprised at the warm welcome, and made a silent declaration to help Xander as well.
With a new ideal on life in place, Ezra worked with Xander and Vin to finish unpacking his home. When the final box was folded down and put away in one of the hall closets, where the linens and spare coats were hung, Ezra was startled by the doorbell ringing. Making his way to the door, in a pair of faded blue jeans and a dirty old t-shirt, he was startled to see the rest of Team Seven on his door step with beer, and food.
Now that Xander and Ezra were more comfortable, it was time to meet with Vin’s friend Bobby. They had been good friends in school and had managed to keep up with each other over the years, even with Vin’s bouncing around in the foster care system. Knocking on their friend’s door, Xander shifted in place, wondering what the guy would be like. He knew that he still babbled when he was nervous, and let him ask the questions that he needed to ask about the job.
“Xan, Ez, come on in. Bobby made the coffee and we got some snacks to go over the chat with and all.” Vin’s soft drawl allowed Xander to relax and both men smiled as they entered the small, tidy apartment.
Spotting the blue eyed blond on the sofa, Xander introduced himself.
“I’m Xander Harris, thanks for coming out to see me.”
“No worries. Grissom wanted me to use up my accrued leave, so it was a good time as any, and I haven’t seen Vin in a long time, so you just gave me an extra excuse to come see him.”
Vin snickered, causing both Ezra and Xander to look at him with a confused expression.
“His boss has more leave built up than our team combined does.”
“Yeah, but Grissom is a good man. He helped me out when my Ma got sick. So, Xander, what did you want to know about Ballistics?”
“Well, what are you hours like? What does the job entail?”
“Well, you have to understand that its sixty hours a week, if there isn’t a buildup of crime. Some weeks you might have very little to do, others you’ll be swamped faster than a flood in New Orleans. For the job, it’s basically a search system. You get a gun or a bullet and find out which one did the damage. If you got the bullet, it can help you figure out which model and bullet type is used, and can also determine the killer if they are using the most expensive types that are registered in the system. The majority of guns are registered, and locked into the system, helping us by winding down the suspects. Then there is also the fact that each gun has a unique firing pin mark as well as unique groves that can break a case wide open. Ballistics is also the simplest form of Forensics but also the most desired. DA’s like it when weapons like guns are used because it is normally the piece that locks the verdict against the person responsible.”
“Would it be better if I went through the Academy as well?”
“Depends on what you’ll be doing. You can always end up doing refreshers within your department that you end up at. This will also allow a better way for you to remain a part of your team and give a better cohesion. I didn’t go through the Academy, but I’m just a lab tech.”
“Does it make a difference when it comes to being hired?”
“Not really. One of the guys that I worked with is in the field now and he started off as a pure lab tech. He was DNA and now he’s a CSI level two. He was harassed a bit for it, but showed that he was able to hack the job. I know that the CSI’s that I work with do both lab a field, but that’s up to you for your preference.”
“What if I wanted to help in busts and undercover work?”
“That would be something you discuss with your bosses. I know that if you are the only Ballistics tech, then you’ll be shit out of luck. However, if there are several other ballistics techs, then you might be able to help with the busts on occasion.”
Xander pondered the information. Bobby was knowledgeable in his field and he might be able to give him the insight he needed to make the final decision.
“What if I wanted to do only field?”
“Well, then you might be asked to do a minor as well, but then you’d be dealing with the clean up, the scenes, and the bodies. As a tech, you only deal with one part of the crime, where as if you go into the field, you deal with all aspects of the crime, right to the capturing of the perpetrators. Now, nothing is stopping you from being both. A lot of CSI’s these days are going that route, and it also makes you more sought after by labs and government agencies.”
“Well, if you have field and another lab qualification, you are looked into by several different agencies. I know that there are a few agencies, like NCIS, that has one tech that does everything in their labs. However, Abby is a genius and they have a smaller case load than most other labs.”
“I’m sensing a ‘but’ here.”
“There are labs and agencies that do prefer to have their hires as either lab techs or field techs. A lot of the smaller labs prefer this as they don’t have the budget for anything else. This way, they get the county to either do the lab work, or they have a small lab that has to outsource to another lab for one or two things. Also, the better your marks in school, the better your internship will be. For your in-school one, depending on the University you’ll be at, I’m sure you could work here at the Denver ATF building. Elsewhere, I know that Grissom might give you a hand, or you could work with Abby at NCIS, but she tells me that they deal mostly in computers than anything else.”
“I know it may seem like a lot to remember, but as long as you do good in school, and are careful with your internship after you’ve passed, then you’ll be fine.”
“I can do that. Tutors are fine, right?”
“Tutors are fine.” Bobby said chuckling, and Xander relaxed.
“What made you choose Ballistics as a field?” Ezra perked up at that, seeming that he was just as curious.
“Well, Papa loved his guns and we were always going hunting when I was a kid. He and my Grandpa taught me to shoot, and showed me how to respect a weapon. When I found out that there was a job that let me play with guns all day, I was ecstatic, so I became a ballistics tech.”
They talked into the night about the different aspects of ballistics and why Xander wanted to go into that field. Just by having someone there to answer the questions that Xander had been thinking up over the past two weeks, had helped to remove any doubt that Xander had about this new turn of events.
After talking for over three hours, Xander thanked Bobby for his help and the information before stepping out with Ezra. Pleased with the gathered information, Xander now just had to find the right school to go to for the degree in forensic ballistics.
“Could you help me find the right school to go to for my degree?”
“I would be delighted to help you.”
Pulling into the townhouse, Xander smiled as his options began to look up once more. Now all he needed to do was go to school and pass with high enough marks.