The guy walking the cup of coffee and muffin into the lab got a funny look. "Who're you?" he demanded.
"Darcy sent me." He held up the items. "She said you haven't eaten in three days," he said, mimicking her voice and inflection pretty well. Then he grinned. "And if you don't eat and drink and then go call your boss, she's going to call said boss herself because you missed something yesterday while she was out on vacation with me at the museum." He put the items on a clear spot on the table. "So please don't piss off my sister, I don't need to listen to the bitching about you, Stark." He walked off, going back to where Darcy was nagging her Jane. He walked in grinning. "Wow, you do that better than the girls I ran away from. Did you take lessons?"
"Hell no!" she snorted but smirked at him. "I didn't need lessons from more than my own grandmother." She stared at Jane. "You're taking me away from time with my brother, Jane. Would you do that to Thor?"
"Thor hates his brother," Jane huffed. She glared at the guy. "Why are you here?"
"I'm presently running away from my last job before I went on a murderous rampage against the bitches I used to work with who think I'm helpless, normal, and useless even after I had just saved their asses again." He stared at her. "So I came up to visit my sister for a bit while I figure out where I'm going to hide from the bitches and find a new job."
Jane blinked. "That's very blunt."
"It you ever met the bitches I worked with, you'd agreed with me," he said dryly. "Darcy does."
"Darcy nearly grabbed one's sword off the wall to beat her with it," Darcy agreed with a nod. "Before I girl-fought her and kicked her ass over the way she treated my brother."
"Treats. I found a voicemail when I turned on my phone," he admitted. Two guys stomped in and he nodded. "I'm just here having a vacay with my big sister, guys." He grinned. Another woman stomped in and he smirked. "Didn't expect to see you here, Woofing Whore of Battle."
Maria Hill stared at him. Oh, shit. This was a very bad thing. "Why are you here?"
Darcy got between them. "Leave my little brother the fuck alone, Hill. You aren't immune to being tazed."
Hill blinked at her then over her shoulder. "I should have realized. She reminds me of you, Harris." He grinned. "Total siblings?"
"Half if you must know," Darcy said dryly. "My daddy had a fling he regretted."
"So did my mom." Xander shrugged. "It made her marry the alcoholic asshole she was already flirting with and drinking with." He leaned on Darcy's shoulder, giving her a hug from behind. "I'm on vacay after I walked away from the bitches before I went on a murderous rampage after Kuala Lumpur."
Hill moaned. "Oh, God, I heard," she muttered. "So you're...."
"Retired," he said firmly. "I'm catching up with my sis. We've been doing touristy things since Jane never lets her out of the lab. We've went to the good museums yesterday and some of the other touristy spots the day before."
"You've been here for two days and we didn't know," Hill said. "How?"
"Not like she runs into your type usually. I've been on her couch."
Hill nodded once. "Guys, back down. He can do you a lot of damage and then quip something stupid." She looked at him. "Are you making future plans?"
"Perhaps. I'm going to figure out where I want to settle while being retired first."
She nodded. "Give me a final list and I'll make sure you hear about any standing problems there."
"Thanks, Hill." He grinned. "That's real sweet of you. Does that mean you're going to send more victims to the girls to nag them?"
"Yes I probably will suggest it to some." She sighed. "Including some women since they'd probably support them more." She rubbed her forehead when Stark stomped in.
"Are you two dating?" Stark demanded.
"Eww, I'm not into incest," Darcy said dryly. "He's my little brother, Stark. Mind out of my panties and various online sites that have us fucking like weasels." Jane moaned at that. "Did you eat and call Pepper? She left me a text message of 'have. Him. Call'." She stared at him. "Apparently you missed stuff while my brother and I were out doing fun stuff."
Stark blinked at her. "You're mad."
"Fuck you," Xander said with a grin. "Quit picking on my sister before I have someone I know eat you." Darcy elbowed him, making him groan. "Yes, Sister."
"Thank you." She grinned up at him. "You give good cuddles."
"They're rusty from disuse so sorry if you need a tetanus."
"I don't." She turned to hug him. "You're a great brother, even if you an overprotective boob."
"Hey, it worked in my last job," he said dryly. "Otherwise I'd still have two eyes." She snorted but patted him on the cheek beside the eyepatch. "Ow, still sore from last month's cracked orbital bone." She sighed and pressed gently, letting him duck away from her. "It's healing. It's nothing they can fix, Darce."
"Fine." She looked at the two heroic types again, smiling at the one in the doorway. "Hey, Clint. Have you ever met my little brother Xander?"
"Once in Africa," he said quietly, staring at him. "I should've realized you two were related." Darcy burst out giggling. "Just visiting? I can tell some people to leave you alone."
"I quit after Kuala Lumpur before I turned around and killed every single one of the bitches I used to work with. But please don't scare off any possible dates I might find?"
"Yeah, I don't need to talk to that sort anyway. I'll...go distract some people." He walked off hurrying while calling a few people to meet him in the kitchen. He looked at Natasha as she walked in. "Harris quit." She stiffened. "He's Darcy's younger brother. They're doing touristy things and he's in the labs."
She grabbed the countertop. "I will stay up here," she decided calmly and quietly. "And keep others from him."
"He said he quit because he was going to kill them all."
She nodded. "I wish he could have done that to a few of them. They deserved it in many ways."
"Something happened in Kuala Lumpur."
She looked it up and stared at the battle footage, grimacing as she showed him. It caught the battle and the bitching afterward when he tossed down his sword and walked off with a 'bye, bitches'. "Do we believe he'll be going back to helping the ones in Africa?"
"I don't know, he didn't say that. I heard him say he was going to kill them all."
She nodded. "We should ask in case someone else needs to go handle their battles." She cleared the history off her phone and looked at her partner again. "Do they know?"
"No. I don't think so. Go ask Steve? I'll go talk to Bruce?" She nodded, hurrying to talk to him. He slipped down to Bruce's apartment, he was off today because he had a headache. He knocked and got the doctor himself. "What do you know about a guy named Xander Harris?"
"Way too much for my own peace of mind."
"He's Darcy's little brother, he's here to visit her, and it appears he quit his last job."
Bruce grimaced. "That's going to suck for the girls," he admitted. "Probably better for his sanity though." Clint nodded quickly. "It does figure that he's related to Darcy though. They're mouthy in the same way." He considered it. "I don't have a problem with him, or his past job. I'm thankful they handled it so we didn't have to."
"Okay. We're just making sure. From what I saw, Stark didn't know about anything."
"Aw, crap," Bruce muttered. "He's going to look and freak out. I'll stop Tony."
"Thanks. Nat's talking to Cap."
"That's going to be a weird talk." He went to find Stark to talk to him. He was yelling at Darcy for daring to have her brother in his labs.
Xander looked at him. "I have a security clearance rating that the president admires," he said impatiently. "I've seen worse than your little suit and your little plans, Mr. Stark. I have a 17 security rating." Stark flinched back. "So, please, let me and my sister finish my two days left of vacation so I can leave the day after that. I promise I won't let her send me to nag you again. Okay?" He smiled at him. "Because you're not worse than bitchy girls and you're not my type to flirt with so why would I bother you." He nodded. "Hey, Doc. How's it hangin'?"
"Better. That clinic's still standing," he said with a small smile. "You retired?"
"No, I walked off before I committed mass homicide."
"I remember meeting a few of the reasons for it. I feel sorry for them but not that much with the way they acted toward the people that helped."
"I got that for many years," Xander agreed. "The last one I just walked away from and I'm kinda proud of that."
"I would be too. I remember the redhead."
"Don't mention her, she'll show up and hurt people."
"Point. So two more days?"
"Two more days, then I have an appointment that last day before I leave for wherever. My last act before I change my number so they can't find me."
"Good. I hope it goes okay. C'mon, Tony, I'll tell you about him. You're really not his type, you're not dangerous enough." He walked Tony off by hauling on his arm.
Xander looked at Darcy. "Did you intend for that when you sent me to deliver him coffee?"
"No. I thought you'd shock him enough to get out of science mode so Pepper could nag him about whatever."
"Ah." He nodded with a grin. "That's cool. I like being a force of chaos sometimes." She grinned back.
"Go do sibling things," Jane ordered with a hand wave. "Please. Before I get sick from the sweetness."
Xander looked at her. "I'm not sweetness and light, Jane. I haven't been since I was six. Definitely not since I was sixteen. I'm only goofy around my sister. And protective if she ever finds a shitbag boyfriend I can threaten." He gave her a pointed look. "Don't do what they did and underestimate people like me." He looked at Darcy. "Grab stuff and we'll go eat off a hotdog cart and go play in the park?" he asked with a grin.
"Sure!" She grabbed her sweater and hat, putting them on, grabbing her phone and wallet to put into her pockets, and they left together.
Jane looked at Hill. "Who is he? She moped about him a few times but never with any details."
"He's responsible for the world continuing a few times and he's not like the team," she said. "It's a long, bad story, Jane." She walked off to make that report to the hidden SHIELD people. They had to know the Council was vulnerable. They didn't need them to fall in a battle.
Darcy and Xander came back with dinner that night, running into someone in the hallway by the apartments. "Hey, Steve. This is my brother Xander."
"Hey," he said, waving his free hand.
"I learned about you earlier," Steve said with a nod.
"Yeah. The source was probably biased since half of SHIELD thought I was a tagalong sidekick sort who only happened to fix things now and then so therefore was useless and able to be taken out of the way without problem. Pity for the agents who tried that. Is she still alive?"
Steve blinked. "Natasha?"
"Yeah, the redheaded one. She tried really hard to discount me too so she fit in with my former coworkers but she failed a lot. You should ask her about Bert and Aaron." Darcy got them into her apartment. He looked at her. "I'm sorry if they rag on you because of me. Maybe I shouldn't have come."
"No!" She swatted him. "No! You needed the happies and the vacay. I needed to see you too since I haven't gotten more than emails in years, Xander. They can deal with their own ideas on their own and they won't nag me about anything. Though a few may ask if I can use a sword." He hugged her. She smiled and hugged him back. "If you weren't my brother you'd be my bestie or boyfriend." He laughed, giving her a squeeze. "Let's sit and eat." They settled in to eat the takeout while watching netflix.
Steve went back upstairs. "He told me you tried to take him out and to ask about Bert and Aaron?" he asked.
Natasha shuddered. "Please do not ask that and I was sent to integrate his former job into SHIELD. It was a failure for many reasons, most of them being a lot of teenage girls with super strength. I discounted him, and I admit that freely, because I thought the girls had the right idea about him. I did not see at that time how a normal person could handle their duties. Then Clint yelled at me, again."
"Repeatedly for days," Clint assured him with a grin. "If Darce and I had a kid, it'd be Xander. Only he really likes bladed weapons."
Steve sat down, staring at them. "And he just up and quit?"
Natasha pulled up the footage from the battle, having to get it from the country's official files instead of online because someone had hacked them all to erase them. "As usual, one of their people hacked the files so no one else can see." She let Steve have the tablet so he could watch it.
"That's more nuts than we had with Loki," Steve muttered, frowning as he watched it. He got up and went to talk to Xander. He saw the last few minutes and winced. Darcy opened the door. He held up the paused footage. "Why didn't they have military people there?" he asked. "Or agents or us?"
"Because the Council refused to let others help," Xander said, looking back at him. "They're women and they're like that. If you jump in they'll thank you, nag you, and then put you down behind your back while warning the girls about it. All but the African and South American teams. They're thankful for any help that won't kill them and told Buffy to fuck off a number of times about that stuff because they know a few special women can't handle saving the world all by themselves." He ate a bite of lo mein. "I almost went back to Africa but I'd end up doing the same job without pay and without backup. It's really not healthy."
"That's only one battle," Steve said.
Xander let out a bitter sounding snort. "Captain, I've been doing this since I was sixteen. Which means I have more battle years than you do right now." He stared at him. "I may have quit for my own sanity but it was a damn good idea before I told the girls about reality and other good things. Okay?" He smiled a bit. "You have a great night and I'll make sure nothing in my life goes near Darcy, like usual."
Steve stared at him. "I didn't mean it as an insult."
"Then you'd be the first," Darcy said dryly. "Just ask Hill." She shut the door. "Night, Steve."
"Night, Darcy and Xander." He went to talk to Natasha and Hill. He found her in the elevator and pulled her up there to talk. "He was doing that since he was sixteen?" he demanded.
"Doesn't shock us any," Clint admitted with a nod. "Their former town was a pit of hell. Kinda literally now."
Hill sat down and pulled up the file for them. "This is SHIELD's file on the group and it is very biased. The old Council hated that their special, mystical warrioress had helpers and got saved by him." She looked at Steve as he read it. "It's very biased and we've made notes in places where it was wrong."
He read through it. "He said something about Africa."
Hill winced but pulled up that file. "It's under a different name. We don't know why he was there, but we're pretty glad he was and he had sense to train them."
Steve read it, blinking hard. "What is that?" he asked, pointing at a section. She got into the film for him. He watched, going a bit pale and gagging. "That's nasty."
"Yes it probably was. The country was hiding it," Hill told him, getting comfortable. She pulled it up again when Stark stomped in looking pissed off. "It's a biased account. We took others' words for it without doing any investigation. Steve has the one from later on."
"I was on a mission to take out someone Harris was dating," Clint told them. "And found out that he was dating him to get help with an incident I had to help with. That was after Natasha bombed with the girls. We had no idea that Harris had sense, skills, and higher weapons if he could find a nice source." Hill shook her head with a sigh. "SHIELD failed so very hard with that guy's profile and history. He and I talked after I got recaptured by the boyfriend of the moment.
"The boyfriend decided to let me go and I decided he wasn't a target even though he was a problem. Because I wasn't about to let Africa fall to a battle like those. Fury hated that and yelled for days, threatened to bring me up on charges, and then Harris had a demon invade his office and nearly kill him for thinking that one guy was more important than the fate of a continent. The demon said so when he nearly ripped Fury's head off; I was handcuffed to a bolted down chair so I couldn't help."
"I ran in to help the director," Hill told them. "And got knocked out within two seconds by being shoved through a bulletproof metal wall. Thankfully not the window since we were in the air on the helicarrier."
Stark spluttered, staring at her. "Excuse me?" he demanded. She nodded. "Fury managed to kill it?"
"We had managed to talk a slayer into a SHIELD staff position. Mostly so they could keep an eye on us and we could hear anything from her. Her parents had been agents and we promised to protect her from the people that were trying to capture a slayer so they could rip her apart like they want to do to Dr. Banner. She ran in and killed it then sneered. Barton told her why and she swore at Clint for sticking up for Xander so he showed her why and she burst our crying, called Buffy, and got nagged for not making Xander retire. They're presently bitching about him having retired even though they tried to force it for years."
Steve looked up from his reading. "He needs a uniform."
"He'd never work for SHIELD because he considers the world a higher priority and he has the gift of talking ...not real helpful groups into helping him save it. He got a few militias in Africa to help him with battles."
Stark stiffened, staring at her. "Seriously? That's that guy?" He pointed. "The one that got the guys from Ten Rings?"
"Yeah," Hill said with a nod and a small grin. "That's him. He talked them into it and begged another group to help them. And they mostly died. One of the remaining ones put a contract out on his life but no one's going to take it at this point because they don't want the world to end if the girls lose. He has seven prices on his head right now."
"Six," Clint said. "One died at the last battle down there, while complaining he didn't see how Xander did this every few months. The demon that ate him supposedly purred about Xander because she'd like to own him as her own personal slave and couldn't do it. His second-in-command took out the demon before she did more than bite his boss's head off and then the local military came to clam up the battle by killing people they hated anyway."
"Fuck," Steve said, staring at him. "Seriously?"
Clint pulled up the file on that battle, letting them see it. "I saw it when it got filed." Steve watched the battle. Clint pointed. "Bad guy who had the contract right there."
"By the slayer reports they were a sorority group at a demon college off plane that came here to party," Hill said. "The girls were not amused. The local military escorted them back to their home to make sure they made it there, and reminded them that they were an evil necessity as the girls reported to Buffy."
Steve grimaced. "I would've helped them."
Hill looked at him. "They won't accept that. They hate that anyone helps because they hate it when people get hurt. They were always nagging Harris that he was getting hurt and he was normal and he wasn't as good as the girls. Which is why we're all so shocked he didn't stab Summers on his way out. Or the other one who you mention and she shows up." She pointed behind her.
"Why are you in Xander's files?" the redhead demanded.
Clint threw something at her and she froze it in midair but the building's defenses caught her in a light beam and froze her. Stark looked at Hill. "Let me guess, she uses *magic*," he sneered.
"She does, and has a slight addiction to her power," Hill said with a nod. Bruce walked in and paused then walked off. "We'll make sure she doesn't come near you, Dr. Banner," she called after him.
Xander walked out and stared then reached in and hit something on Willow's neck, sending her off. "Great. She found me already. I really need to have someone stop her," he muttered as he walked off. He came back and got into a set of files. "Lot less biased by people who know I'm not an idiot savant, Hill. At least use the real files instead of trying to get them to nag me like the bitches did." He walked off again. Maybe he'd go to a hotel. Though Willow would show up and destroy the hotel. Darcy and he warded her apartment so she didn't have to deal with the stupid witches of the world before they went to bed.
Hill looked at the source of those files. "A group of agents rampaging around Africa handling problems. Interesting sources." Steve got them into those and they all read them.
Stark sighed after a few, looking at Hill. "Is he going to be staying up here?"
"He'd never get Lewis involved. Almost no one outside this group knew they were related until today. Some of his boyfriends will hate that he's retired and think he's not as exciting or as useful to them but they shouldn't come after her."
Natasha nodded. "We'd hear if those sort show up in this city, Stark. They don't tend to be quiet about their travels." She looked at Hill. "There is a worry if he goes to one of them for work."
"I doubt he would. It might endanger more people," Hill said. "I'm trying to figure out who I could refer him to as a career."
"He could bodyguard," Clint suggested.
"He isn't known to have good focus," Hill said. "And I doubt he'd want that sort of stress in his life. He seems like he's tired."
"Teaching degree?" Natasha suggested.
"That might be good for him and he certainly has patience with teenagers," Hill said, texting that suggestion to Darcy's phone. She got back 'Xander hates classroom education'. "He's anti-college. Remembering anything about his former town's school system, it probably figures." She rubbed her forehead again.
"Why is it a former town?" Stark asked. She pulled up a single file for him to read the paragraph long report. He stared. "I remember when that happened. They said it was an earthquake."
"Not like they could tell people it was a battle for humanity," Clint said sarcastically. "You should see the remains, it's creepy. I went to look it over to find the old National Guard base. Which was mostly sucked into the portal to hell."
Stark glared at him. "What portal to hell!" Hill texted Darcy so she sent Xander out. He sighed as he walked in. "Portal to hell?" he demanded.
"Which one?" Xander asked. Stark was spluttering.
"He wanted to know why your town was former," Clint said.
"Yeah, that thing. Well, the hellmouth seal, which was not the hellmouth itself, got opened by the First Evil and sealing her back in sucked in the town." He looked at Stark. "Did you want to talk about hellmouths, which are thin spots that can be opened so you can get to a hell dimension or realm? Or one of the area specific gates to a hell realm or dimension? Because I've seen both," he said dryly, crossing his arms over his chest and canting his weight to the right. Something appeared and he punched it, knocking her out. He looked down. "I know Willow sent you, that's pathetic of her." He looked at Hill then at Natasha. "If you really want to get in with them, you can drag her home. They're going to need people with sense since I'm not there and most of the slayers with sense are on the DL so in Hawaii."
Natasha got up to look at her. "She's young."
"She's probably seventeen." He looked down. "That's Mirin, she's seventeen and Buffy's her goddess." He nodded a bit. "She tried to stab me for daring to tell her how to kill the demon that was going to kill her, and nearly did kill her because she didn't listen. She's a slay them all sort of slayer as well so pathetic for that as well." He looked at Stark again. "Which type of portal to hell did you want to talk about, Mr. Stark?"
"They can't be that common."
Xander pulled up things on his phone, smiling some. "Willow tried to hack my phone. That's sweet of her. Thankfully it's on a locked micro SD card." He let Hill have his phone and she read it over before Stark snatched it from her. "The list was at the end," he told Hill.
"I saw. I'm horrified."
He nodded. "Yeah, I was my first few times too. Then it was spring again." He shrugged. "They always seem to like the spring," he sighed.
"You could become a teacher," Clint said.
"I can't stand a classroom thing, but thanks, dude. I suck at classroom learning. I liked working construction but missing an eye means I can't be hired for that anymore. Or any of the associated specialty trades from what I've learned." Stark was making growling noises at his phone. Xander took it from him. "At least you're not in Cleveland. This city's demon underground is quietly uptight and stays out of everyone's way." He stared at him. "They aren't causing any harm and have helped a lot of things get calmed down. Even after your invasion thing because they operated shelters and food banks to help things get back to normal.
"They'd like respect but they know that humans aren't built that way for the most part." Steve cleared his throat. "Don't even, you sneered at a young one who was carrying his mother's purse and called him a purse snatcher, then broke his leg trying to bring him down for it," he warned. "We heard all about it as soon as we got into town. They warned me a lot to stay away from you." He looked at Hill again. "They're going to come looking for her."
"Probably," she admitted. "Go hide, Harris." He got his phone back and left them to handle it. Hill got her team to come grab the young slayer. Anyone looking would find her in the security office instead.
"The guy I stopped was being yelled at to stop," Steve said.
"My mother used to yell at me to stop too," Hill admitted. "I used to run ahead of her all the time." Steve winced. "We issued an apology but they're not going to be less than wary because you bring attention and them getting attention would mean they could die, Steve," she said quietly. "It's not your fault." He nodded, relaxing again. She looked at Stark. "A lot of people would like it if you found a way to heal those rips, Stark, but no one can figure that out so far. You can frustrate Richards by showing him about them."
Stark stared at her, then shook his head. "I'm not that mean, even to Reed Richards," he admitted. "Because that's evil." She smiled at him. "What do we do about all this?"
"Ignore it like you have for years," Hill said bluntly. "Until it happens around you."
"Does Lewis know about all this?" Stark asked.
"No. She probably has very little idea and he kept her out of it for her own safety and sanity. I'm fairly certain she can't stake or use a sword. Or Harris' battle axe."
"Do we need to know how to do those things?" Steve asked her.
"It might not harm things if you learned but I doubt it'll be a major skill set you'll need often," Hill said. "They've been hiding battles since time was invented. They've managed to hide two invasion level events in the last five years. So unless someone like Loki calls on demons you should be all right to just casually figure out how to use a sword."
He nodded. "I can do that." He looked at the others. "Stark, anything we should plan on needing weapons wise?"
"How would I know?" he demanded. "I had no idea that any of this was more than some tacky fantasy novel ideas."
"Okay, is there anything that might become easier if we have a sudden demon invasion show up?"
"Beheading," Hill said. "It's the most typical for any problem."
"Not many beings can work without their heads," Natasha agreed.
"Yeah, I..." Stark got up and walked off. "I can work on how to behead things if I have to. Apparently it'd be a really good idea." Too bad the doors in his tower didn't slam, he really wanted to slam something and throw a teenage girl fit right then.
Steve looked at Hill. "Can you get us some sort of manual that the slayers use to train about the various types of demons?"
"We have one stolen from them but I'm not sure where it ended up," Natasha said.
"In my office," Hill said. "I'll make it available to the team." She stood up. "Harris is a goofy, nice guy until you get into his face," she told them. "He has been before. Never underestimate him because he seems like a goofy guy; we made that mistake and the former director nearly lost his life for that. Harris is competent but not vocal about it thanks to the nagging he went through for years. Nearly ten years," she realized. "Don't think he's helpless because he lost an eye, don't wonder who he's dating because there might be a reason, or they're just fun, but if you see him heading for a problem, it's a big one. He doesn't run for anything short of a huge problem. If you see him with his battle axe and he's running, report in." She left them to talk.
Steve looked at Natasha. "How can I best help?"
"Jump in. They won't allow for anything else. Also, don't talk to Summers. She has an airhead act that's a bit too good. I've seen her giving people headaches with it."
"We can do that," Steve agreed. "Can you train with me?"
"I can. Though I don't know much about swords, I can learn with you." He smiled and nodded, going to lay down and think. These things had been around all along and he had never noticed them. How could a threat this big have gone on around him without him noticing?
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