Imagine: The List
Fic posted by members of Vo's Imaginings YahooGroup
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From: "mm_contrary"
Date:Fri, 13 Jul 2007 01:22:30 -0000
Subject:[imaginings] Re: we've reached a new level...

Vegas and Sunnydale *are* awfully close together...The flip side of a CSI Xander story
where he is the suspect/suspected Don (head of a criminal organization). If he set up a
slayer training facility in Vegas he would likely A)always on site or nearby when a demonic crime scene is being investigated, B)have a lot of underage girls around him (runaway slayers), C)have the local shadow community living in fear of him so much so the regular criminals would avoid him as bad news, D)have a lot of mysterious shipments and private airflights, E)Oh! cool "criminal" nickname i.e. the Knight, Last Knight, White Knight...


Date:Fri, 13 Jul 2007 01:53:54 -0000
Subject:[imaginings] Re: we've reached a new level...

Not to mention all the weapons - casually playing with knives, swords, axes. Whispers
from the Shadow community regarding his past experiences with certain weapons (missile launcher), blowing up his school and the college (side effect of stopping Adam) and getting away with it. Random visits from black ops helicopters. Mysterious
visits out to the desert (to bury/burn some demon bodies or to perform some mystical
ceremony out in nature).

From another fic I read here (Psychic Ballistics?) - having the nickname Last Knight being misunderstsood as Last Night - attracting his attention will mean YOUR last night.
Adding to this impression - after he visits certain casinos or establishments operated by 1/2 demons or one of the Shadow community, they panic and leave or disappear in the middle of the night.

A classic example of what you see is NOT what you get.

From: "mm_contrary"
Date:Fri, 13 Jul 2007 02:15:22 -0000
Subject:[imaginings] Re: we've reached a new level...

Spot on! The poor poor CSIs trying to find someone, anyone, to give information on him, and having the informants kill themselves in various ways to avoid doing so if they couldn't run. Sending Greg in to chat with Xan after meeting him at Lady Heather's. Calling in reinforcements from other departments to help as Xander's People know all the local cops/csis.


"Huh?" Xander asked, staring at the men in front of him. He was in a nice, bright little room down at the local police station. He wasn't sure *why* he was in a nice, bright little interrogation room at the local police station but he was. And now they thought he did what? "Can you try that again in English maybe?"

"We suspect you of running some sort of terrorist training camp," the older man said bluntly.

Xander burst out laughing. "Okay. And you're on *what*?" He stood up. "You're obviously having issues if you think *I'm* doing something, dude. Sorry, wrong guy. Must be thousands of Harris' in the world but still the wrong one this time. Sorry you wasted your time." He walked off shaking his head. He saw a few worried looks. He stopped to look at one young guy who only looked confused. "Does he often say strange things that are supposed to make sense and don't? Especially to nice guys that he's got confused with someone?"

"No, he's usually pretty sure when he says something to a suspect," he admitted, looking amused. "What did he say?"

"He thinks I run a terrorist training camp. The girls I work and train are teenagers. They're terrors, yes, but not terrorists. That'd mess up their nails." He walked off shaking his head. "I hope he gets a nap. He clearly needs one." He went out to his truck and headed back to the compound. This was not going too well this week. Why had he let Giles talk him into taking the younger girls off to Las Vegas to train them? He'd have to go over that decision later, see where the spell and curse had been. Not only did he have ten young teenage girls in his custody to train and teach, but now the police thought he was training them to kill people. Someone had clearly laid a curse again. That was the only rational explanation. So he'd sic the girls on whoever had done it. He saw the worried faces as he walked in the door, waving a hand. "Somehow the local cops have decided you're all terrorists and I'm training you to be worse. *Please* quit annoying the locals, girls." He went into his office to shut the door and call Giles. "I hate you," he said in greeting.

/Why this time?/ the amused sounding older man on the other end asked.

"The local crime lab and cops just pulled me in to talk to me about this supposed terrorist training camp I'm running."

/Excuse me?/ Giles asked.

"You heard me right. Pulled out the big guns and all, Giles. So *whatever* your witches did to me this time, fix it!" He hung up and went to get some lemonade and go outside. He was going to be pissed for a while. He wandered around in circles a few times then looked at the house. "To fix things or not?" he muttered. He nodded, taking a sip. "Steph, you've promised that one casino owner you were going to fix that issue tonight. Do it." He took another drink. "Brit, do your homework. The rest of you too. No going out to terrorize the locals for a while." They groaned but did as ordered. Giles had made it very clear Xander was the only authority for the younger girls activated by Willow's spell to activate all slayers. Once they were older and trained they could move to one of the other areas, but for now they had to be here to learn how to train and spend some time being teenage girls.

One little blonde girl leaned out. "Can we go shopping, Xanny?" Xander gave her an odd look. "I need more tampons. I just started and I didn't get enough. Please?"

He sighed and nodded, taking his lemonade back to the kitchen to put it into the fridge. No one would touch his glass. His glasses all had 'X' marked on them so the girls wouldn't take his glasses. "Fine, let's hit a pharmacy." He grabbed the pharmacy list off the fridge and took her with him. "You could've added to it."

"I did but you didn't take it when they called you," she said miserably. She was only twelve, it was her first cycle, and she had to use the really small tampons, none of the other girls did. Plus she was pouting about starting already. He patted her on the back, taking her out to his truck. "Thank you."

"Welcome. I spoil you girls horribly." He got in to drive, taking his time. He didn't want to be accused of anything else tonight. Once they had gotten there and parked, Xander led her inside, nudging her toward the right aisle. He let her have the list. He knew that they needed more tylenol and advil, they went through cases of them both some months. She rejoined him with the list so he could pick up the rest. A quick smile with the checkout girl and then he headed back to the house. He noticed the van sitting on the edge of the driveway and paused beside it. "Guys, you're on the property. I'm going to have you thrown off," he shouted. Inside the van someone jumped. "Get off the lands if you're going to be nosy please. Not that there's any reason for you to be nosy but if you want to be that paranoid, do it somewhere else!" He drove on, shaking his head at her snickering. "They honestly think that somehow I run a terrorist training camp. These guys are supposed to be some of the best in the country and they think that about us."

"They don't understand, Xander," she reminded him, patting him on the arm.

"Thanks, Tray." He parked in his usual spot and let her out, making her carry things. Super strength was good for many things. "Don't forget to clean your room. We have inspection tomorrow afternoon." She groaned but went to deliver things where they were supposed to go and remind the others. Xander went back to his office, settling in his desk chair to relax. He even caught a short nap until the phone woke him. "What?" he answered. "Steph?" He listened to her babble. "Aw, crap. Be right there." He hung up and headed back to the truck. "Behave, I'm going to bail Steph out. Do *not* do things I wouldn't approve of and clean your rooms," he shouted as he walked. He drove back down to the police station, walking inside. "My foster child is here?" he asked the desk sergeant.


"Stephani Mays. She's about thirteen, redhead, loud." The guy gave him an odd look. "Apparently picked up when she went to help someone at a casino with a problem."

"Room three, sir."

"Thank you." He walked that way shaking his head. He tapped before walking in, looking at the same cops. "By law you are not allowed to question a minor child without an adult there to look out for her well-being. Is she under arrest?"

"She was beating someone," the cop of the group said.

Xander looked at her. "He pinch you again?"

"Yes! The scuzzy old thing grabbed my ass and said I'd be his this time. Of course I was beating him! That's self defense against a pedophile."

"It is," Xander agreed. "Was he the issue?"

She nodded. "He won't listen to them and he won't leave."

"Charming. We'll go talk to the man in question later. Maybe Faith could come out for a day or so." She shuddered at that. That would be a major battle. He smiled sweetly at the cops. "I repeat again, is she under arrest for that?"

"We're still seeing. Sit down," the cop said.

"I left twelve other young girls around her age at home alone. There's no way we're staying here all night, Detective. Get off the pot or piss. You've already had your fun for the night with me earlier." The detective looked smug. "Fine. You know what? If she's not under arrest, we can leave." He helped her up. "Come on. You can talk to Tray about her new period and we'll talk to him later." She nodded, walking out with him. He waved at the desk guy. "She beat up the pedophile that tried to grab her." The guy shook his head but he was smiling. He took her to the hotel, walking inside. The demon at the desk gave him a horrified look. "Where is the idiot who tried to grab my girl?"

"His room," he said weakly. He pointed at the elevator with a shaking hand. "Please don't create a mess, Knight."

"I'm not. We're going to have a discussion. He was wanted out of the city?" The desk guy nodded quickly, running off. "I can do that." He went up in the elevator, heading down to the demon's room. He pounded twice, then casually kicked the door in. "Out of my city!" he bellowed as he walked in. The demon gave him a horrified look. "You grabbed a slayer-in-training. You tried to rape an underaged human girl. Get out of my city before you become a lesson to others." The demon quickly grabbed his bags and fled. "Check out too!" he yelled after him. He checked the room then walked her back down there, watching to make sure he checked out. He even made sure he had a cab by calling ahead for him while he checked out. Then he and Steph stood there and waved, smiling as the cab left. He looked at the owner of the resort. "Next time you have him here, let us know in advance."

"He's been banned, Knight. Thank you both. I know you tried, dear."

"He grabbed me!" she said, then shuddered. "Eww! That's even worse than Buffy did with Angel." Xander snickered and nodded. "Sorry about the cops."

"An overzealous patron called, my dear, not us. I wouldn't have cared if you had beaten him to death for that." He smiled and patted her on the back. "Have a better night, Knight."

"You too." He walked her back to the truck and got her back to the farm, stopping and getting out next to the van. He walked around it and opened up the back door, looking at the men inside. "For the last time, you are on my property without permission. Get your shit off my land or else I am going to sue for harassment. I can do that and win because you people are annoying the piss out of me and it's already been a very bad day. Am I clear?" he asked coldly. They both nodded. "Then move your shit now." He closed the door and went back to his truck, watching as the van did back off his property. Of course, once they were across the boundary, Willow's protection spells kept their surveillance equipment from working. It was nice. He drove them back to the house, marveling at the transformation he had done on the former brothel and play ranch. It looked more like a real farm now, not somewhere you'd find prostitutes in the barn playing at being mares in the stalls. He let her out. "Homework, clean your room, inspection tomorrow right after school." She groaned but went up to do that. Her room was generally a mess. He went back to his office to tell Giles what else had happened. Someone needed to find that curse and stop it soon.


The local CSI and cops gathered to talk about the problem case they had. "He ordered you off the property?" Grissom asked the two surveillance officers.

"Yes, sir, he ordered us the second time he came in tonight and then he headed back out later. This time he opened up the doors and told us to, bluntly, move our shit. When we did for some reason it quit working."

"Did you get anything before then?" Detective Brass asked.

The second guy shrugged. "Not much. He does a lot of yelling around the house. He needs a PA system." That got a snort. "Apparently there's a room inspection tomorrow after school. They went to the pharmacy earlier by what the one girl was carrying inside. We could check there, see what they bought."

"Already did," one of the CSI said, pushing over the copy of the receipt. "Cotton balls, q-tips, six of the largest boxes of advil and tylenol they carry, tampons in all sizes, one bag of pads, some new ace bandages, a few ice packs." He smirked. "One soda and candybar. Not for the girl."

"It's nice he treated himself to a snack," another of the young CSI snorted. Greg was still training to be a field CSI instead of a lab tech. Xander had run into him in the halls earlier and talked to him so he was included. "Gris, he said earlier you needed a nap."

"I might after this is done with," he admitted. He looked at the other evidence. "We don't have anything?"

"Nothing," Brass told him. "All we have is evidence that there's thirteen young women living out there, going to school, and training for some future battle or something. We know he updated the house before they all moved in. All but one's doing very well in the local school and he's been nagging her and spending some time talking with her teachers about how to help her do better. There's still something off about this. They've been seen at any number of homicides recently. We've got recently filed missing persons cases that can lead back to a few of the girls. We've got strange things going on out there because they keep buying candles and herb stuff from one of the new age stores." He shrugged at that. "I have no idea. A cult?"

"Not with the way we've seen them be at those homicides and the way he walked into a hotel earlier to eject the person the girl had been beating because he had grabbed her," Catherine said as she came in. "Sorry I'm late. They're damn scared of those little girls and him. Called him Knight. Shook and ran away when he asked them a question and he answered. The guy he ejected they called a cab for and he ran for his life. I was late because I was trying to get him to talk to me at the airport and he demanded that I leave him alone. That he was not going to be coming back here. He didn't want to mess with *him*. Not the girls, him." She sat down, looking at them. "He acted like the guy would hear and kill him from a distance if he talked."

"He's from the mob?" Greg asked, looking confused. "There's nothing that hints at that in what little we've found of his background."

"Maybe he's starting a new one," Catherine offered. "We've heard that his rep came straight from LA."

Warrick Brown frowned at that. "We know that when he moved in a few of our tougher gangs moved too. We have two gangs that completely left the state because he moved to Las Vegas."

Nick Stokes nodded. "Plus we know that the hotel he was at earlier was a lot slimier before he got here. Now they're almost upstanding and doing some renovations so they look nicer. Could that be because they know he's going to protect them?"

"The warrant for his bank records don't speak of any insurance payments," Grissom countered. "Nothing major ever gets put in beyond what looks like a standard paycheck for him and a smaller one for each of the girls."

"He'd probably call it their allowance," Greg said.

"Probably," Brass agreed. "When he came for the redhead earlier he stared us both down like we were roaches."

"He was in a bad mood," Greg reminded him. Brass glared at him. "He was! You guys pissed him off!"

Nick nodded. "I was watching, Gris. You did piss him off and confuse him. He looked very confused there for a few minutes. Then it turned to pissed. Did surveillance have anything when he got home that time?"

"He yelled that we had decided he was running a terrorist training camp, ordered the girls to not terrorize the city for a while," the first surveillance officer told him.

"So..." Nick said, thinking about it.

"We can confirm he has ties to Cleveland now," the second one offered. "He called Cleveland to talk to an old guy and complain about that. Accused someone of setting a curse on him."

"That's where the payments are coming from," Brass said, looking at Grissom. "Cleveland?"

"Not where I'd expect an internationally known thug to be from," he agreed. "But you never know. Maybe the people in Cleveland are the original and he's the heir. Have we found anything on the group out there?"

"Special school, all older girls," Nick told him. "Cops out there seem to like them. Said the girls were generally nice, well behaved. One did say that one of the girls joked they had to be well-behaved or Buffy and Xander would beat them to death. The Buffy she was talking to nodded and grinned back, telling her it'd be brutal and include scrubbing the toilets with a q-tip too." That got a few smiles, especially from Greg. "They've got about twenty girls there at the moment, plus the same people that Harris was known to associate with in his youth by what rumors we have been able to get to."

"I'm starting to wonder why *no one* will talk to us about him," Catherine said. "Everyone I asked gave me this look like I was stupid and then fled."

Greg looked down at her. "I asked one of the guys in the club that he goes to now and then. He gave me the same look but he went missing that night. He didn't say anything but he went missing."

"Do we think maybe Mr. Harris eliminated them?" Brass asked.

Greg shook his head. "He told me he couldn't talk to me, it'd be safer if he hid for life if he so much as mentioned a word about the boy. He did say something about Angel and his crew backing that up. I don't know who Angel is."

"He's part of the LA connection," Catherine said, digging that out. She had done some checking through a few contacts out there. "They have a dirty cop in with them it seems." She tossed it down. "Angel, of Angel Investigations. A PI firm that takes limited, new age related cases. Stalking psychically and demons haunting you sort of cases. They used an old, abandoned hotel that they bought and fixed up until something happened last summer. Most of the team died within the last year. A few are still alive but they're in tighter with the Cleveland group now. Only one hasn't visited and he's a pouty, sulky sort and said to be Angel's son Connor." She passed down the picture of the boy their Internal Affairs people had taken. "They said he's the sort to rip your head off and spit down your neck if you piss him off and he's strong enough to do it. They saw him take the head off something a few months before they took that picture. Of course, that person had jumped him first so it was self-defense."

Brass gaped at her. "How?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "The officer who made the report took leave, went to a monastery and never came back. He's taken a vow of silence while he contemplates things. That's all they'd say."

"So they started in LA, moved to Cleveland? That makes more sense than an international group like this one starting in Cleveland," Warrick said.

Greg shook his head. "We all know I have some contacts up in the Bay Area, right?" They all nodded. "The people up there who know things, and strange things for some of them, all said the group is part British, and the guy in Cleveland is British, right?" They all nodded at that. "And the rest of them came from Sunnydale and then gathered others to help them. The guy in Cleveland was sent by the guys in England but then somehow they got destroyed. Blown up. Then the girls started to trickle in from all over the world. It seems like the main group had been training them for whatever reason and then Mr. Giles from Cleveland took over when they blew up. One of the guys in LA was with the same British group but he was killed during that same bad summer." He looked at the stunned looking Catherine. "Asking about the British group got a bit more information. The Watcher's Council was a very old organization. Some say it predates Roman times. They had a huge library, were interested in old myths and things. They trained a lot of girls through the years. Miss Summers, Buffy, not Dawn, was one of theirs that they didn't train in person. That's why Mr. Giles got sent to Sunnydale, to work with her. Apparently they had people in most major cities around the globe training girls for whatever reason since we started to form cities."

"So it's some strange, ancient cult that's been going on for a long time and now they're more open since the main group got blown up by an unknown element?" Grissom asked. Greg nodded. "Do we know anything more?"

"I called over to England on my own time, citing that we have a few questions about the group's members that're here in the US. Scotland Yard told me to drop it, the Watcher's Council was powerful, and they were sure that they would be getting in touch with me about my concerns with their current members. Then the hung up."

"Can we officially request information on the case with the explosion?" Brass asked.

"You can try. I filled one out and faxed it over. I haven't heard anything back yet," Greg told him. "They were giving me the same runaround we get when we have a politician or really rich person in trouble. Oh." He pulled out another paper. "Looking online for this Watchers Council group came up with a few odd listings and this one. They had the world's biggest collection of swords and other ancient weapons." He slid it down. "That was a few years ago. Some of them went on tour so archeologists could study them. They were said to be in *excellent* condition and all able to be pulled out of the cases and used at that moment. Sharpened, clean, ready to use. Also." He pulled out another paper. "They were hiring around the same time, looking for a world class geneticist and people in DNA to back them up. Looking at breeding issues." He slid that down. "I got offered that and I'm a pack rat. I went looking when the name sounded familiar."

"Ancient weapons, DNA, and mythology?" Grissom asked, looking confused. "That's a bit of a varied interest."

"DNA was new, within the last few years. They were looking for people who could teach it, do it, and work on breeding issues," Greg told him. "So maybe they were falling down in membership. Or they were looking to bring someone back maybe. Not sure, but the ancient things have probably been going on since they were new."

"That's a good explanation," Nick agreed. "Anything else you found out about them, Greggo?"

Greg shrugged. "Just that they were pushy bastards. One of my former frat brothers is State Department now. I called him to see if he could help us get the case file faster when I hadn't even heard a 'blow me' back from the request. He said the State Department knows of them but does not officially recognize their existence, even though they are pushy bastards who often have to bend rules to get, and I quote, their girls into specific areas for training purposes. Then he said that if asked, he's to deny all knowledge of them but no one he worked with was unhappy with the greater majority of them blew up a few years back. Or that the new people were nicer. The new person would be Mr. Giles. He's in full control of everything."

Grissom shook his head. "Out of the rubble comes a new leader?"

Greg nodded. "It's said he was working with Buffy Summers in a town called Sunnydale that no longer exists. It was where that strange earthquake happened."

"The one with the bus people?" Catherine asked, looking confused.

"Yeah, he was one of the ones responsible for the evacuation." Greg looked at her. "No one knew why, just that they had ordered an evacuation and everyone, and I do mean everyone, had went with them on the school's busses. His people last."

"Then it wasn't an earthquake," Warrick told him.

Greg shook his head. "No. It didn't set off any earthquake meter in the state but the one near there. By the geologist's first report he said it looked more like an explosion but the state made him go back and look it over so he hypothesized a very deep earthquake that basically created a bit of sucking that destroyed the town. What we see on top was the remains of what was pulled into that hole."

"Could it have been a mass explosion?" Brass asked.

Grissom looked at him. "At that level of destruction it would've had to been a nuclear device and we'd have noticed the fallout, Jim." He went back to reading over their requirements. "They only wanted the best. They have stricter guidelines than we had when we hired you, Greg."

"I noticed that," he agreed. "That goes along with uptight British guys though."

"Good point." He put that into the file. It was evidence without context at the moment. "What's our next step on the local threat? We can ask the other departments if they'll cooperate then integrate it once we have more information."

"Surveillance seems to not work if you're not on his land, sir," the second surveillance officer said. "We have no idea why. We tried everything. The film didn't turn out. Digital images didn't show up when we tried them. Nothing from the wiretaps, nothing at all, but it was all working equipment. We tested it on other things and it worked just fine."

"Just not on them," the other guy agreed. "What about getting someone out there? Are they hiring anyone like lawn guys?"

Greg shook his head. "It's a chore he's assigned to the girls. I took over someone's shift and saw one of the girls weeding the garden."

"So they're self-sufficient but what about travel?" Brass suggested. "We know a few of the girls have traveled. Maybe the departments there can talk to them the next time one has to leave for a while?"

"The last one went to Brazil and came home ten days later without any additional luggage," Catherine reminded him. "Either it wasn't a business trip or it was about something that wasn't going to need transported."

"How would we know?" Greg asked, leaning forward. "When she left, they left from a private airstrip in the desert. Granted we didn't see anything but have we checked to see who else has landed there?"

"Not yet, but I can," Nick said, making a note of that suggestion. "What about that bonfire they held a few weeks back?"

"It was the same day as the earthquake," Warrick told him quietly. Nick nodded at that. "So maybe some sort of remembrance or something. You know, the guy seemed nice," he said. "He seemed generally like a decent guy. I've never met a mob guy that didn't twitch something in me. The kid didn't. The girl didn't."

"They didn't," Brass agreed. "Maybe that means he's not that involved. Or maybe it means he's not mafia. Maybe he's training guerillas and doing some minor gun running. We know he's got a few out there since he registered two personal sidearms and a hunting rifle."

"Plus a crossbow," Greg reminded him.

"And a crossbow that wasn't legal," Brass agreed. "He said he'd send that off to a friend where it would be legal." He looked around the table. "Anyone have any ideas, people?"

"We need to see if we can find new sources underground," Catherine said. "It's clear he's got his own crowd cowed however he's doing it. What about the regular underground?"

"We can ask," Grissom agreed. "We have a few in custody. Start with them tomorrow. They usually like to talk to you."

"That's because I flash a bit of breast and they drool, Gil." She gave him a look. "Most prisoners do." She looked at Nick. "Want that or should I bring Warrick?"

"No, I'll go with you. There's a few in there I could talk to." He looked at Brass again. "Are there any other cities involved?"

"Not yet," he admitted. "If they go toward a city we have friendly relations with we'll contact them and let them help too."

"We could ask to see if they know anything about Cleveland's group," Greg offered. "We know two of the girls have hit Miami. Another one came from New York so maybe they have a clue."

"I'll talk to the lab people I know out there today," Grissom said, making that note. "Any other suggestions?"

"Can we talk to the girls at school?" Catherine asked.

"That'd be obvious. We don't want to tip our hand," Brass said. "Though it seems blown since he spotted the surveillance van."

"He knows we think he's doing things," Nick said. "We should try to talk to the girls. Warrick?"

"It could help but I don't get along very well with teenage girls. Most of them come across as snotty to me and I get my back up."

"I'll go with you on that," Greg offered with a small grin. "I'm closer to their age anyway and I am still hip."

"Sure. We can do that. Maybe we'll find something. They might talk to you if you let them play with your hair."

Grissom gave him a look. "I doubt he'd have to stoop that low." He looked around. "Any other suggestions?" No one said anything. "Then let's get back to work, people. We have other crimes to solve tonight too." They got back to work, those who needed to make calls checking the time. Calling dayshift people at two in the morning was *never* a good idea.


Xander answered the phone, listening to the babbling voice that started before he could say anything. "They did what?" he asked calmly. "Okay. All of you, get here now. I know she has a test. Damn it. Fine. You girls get home and I'll come pick her up personally. Or have her ask to take it home or make it up this weekend, something." He hung up and called Cleveland. "They pulled the girls out of class to ask them questions about what they're training for," he said in greeting. "Yes, I'm a bit pissed, Giles. Send someone to me to deal with the PD or move us." He hung up and went to the school. Most of the girls had been released but one of them had that test and they were badgering her. He walked into the school and met the principal in the halls. "They still have them?"

"Most of the girls have left. Sue is still with them. I've asked her teacher, she said she could have a makeup as long as she wasn't being arrested."

"No, for some reason they think the girls are mini-terrorists."

"Terrors," she said dryly. "Not that sort though. Vain, mouthy, annoying, fashionable, but not terrorists."

"Then you'll help?"

"Agreed, Mr. Harris." They walked that way. "Sue," she said as she walked in. "Your teacher is going to give you a makeup, dear. Go home."

"Truck's outside," Xander told her. She nodded and headed that way at a dead run. He glared at the two CSI. "This may have slipped your notice but they are all minors. You are not allowed to question a minor without someone there to guard them from your stupidity." He crossed his arms when one stood up, glaring at him until he backed away. "A very good idea. My temper is very high and I'd hate to destroy this school. The principal might mind a bit." He looked at her. "I don't care who they bring in. My girls are not to be pulled out of classes for anything short of an emergency, only with my knowledge, and I'll be there. They're not to say a word until I get there. If this happens in the future, please remind them of that."

"Of course. That's only reasonable. They're not bad girls, gentlemen. They're vain, smartassed, little teenage girls but they're not terrorists or anything else like that."

"Yet they train ten hours a week in physical combat," Warrick said.

Xander nodded. "I did more than that when I was younger. It helps them and does them more good than PE." He stepped closer. "I do not want you near my girls. Should you, I'm seriously considering suing the hell out of your department. This is harassment. You have no idea what you're doing or why. You're being a sheep and bleating stupid shit that's simply lies. If you come after my girls again, I'm going to do my best to see you removed." He turned and looked at the other one. "You, your name?"

"CSI Sanders."

"Good. I take you as newly in the field. You don't have the same flinch reaction when someone comes up to you yet."

"I'm actually a CSI in training."

"Uh-huh. When someone shows up, I'll call you. You can talk to them. Then you can talk to your people. Because if I see another one of you *anywhere* near my girls, even if you're in the same mall and I catch you, there will be a problem. The problem will be costing your department money and manpower when people are fired, and I will be brutal about it. Am I clear?" he asked in a cold, calm voice.

"We still have questions," Warrick started.

"I'm sure you do but you're barking up the wrong star, dude." He looked at Greg again. "Someone should be here relatively soon. I'll call." He walked out, going to take the last one home. One of the older girls was old enough to drive, barely, and she drove a large van to get everyone else. He calmed himself before he got in, looking at the young one with him. "Calm down."

"How can they think we're doing bad things?" she demanded loudly.

"They're stupid. It's not hard." He started the truck and backed out. "Stupid people are often scared of what they don't understand or want to understand. Look at how many people got into the witch trials." She nodded, slumping down some. "I called Giles. He's sending someone before I kill the next one."

"Yes, Xander. Are you all right?"

"I'm in a murderous rage," he admitted quietly. "Sparring today is canceled." She nodded, texting that to one of the other girls. "You guys aren't leaving the ranch for a few days either. Consider us in lockdown."

"But, Beth finally caught the nicest guy to date."

"She can bring him out."

"They're going to movies Friday, Xander."

"We'll see. Maybe whoever comes in can be a chaperone too." He sighed and hit the steering wheel at a red light but continued home. Once there he did a head count. "Who's got Tammy?" he yelled.

"She's in the bathroom," Stephanie said from behind him. He looked at her. "You look like you should go outside and beat something up."

"It won't be you guys. We're in lockdown. We'll see what we can do about Beth's date." He went that way, going to the physical training area. There was a nice padded post out there to beat instead of a heavy bag - it was cheaper to replace when one of the slayers broke it too. By the time he was done it was in pieces.


The older man walked into the station, smiling at the young cops. He hadn't been that young, even when he was at that age. "I'd like to speak to a CSI Sanders. He's expecting me."

"I'll page him, sir. Can I tell him who you are?"

"Dimitri Tolokov, Watchers's Council. He'll know." He nodded and put that into the page.

Greg came out, looking at the man. "Did Mr. Harris send you?"

"Mr. Harris? He's here?" He hummed. "No, I'm from the rest of the Council." He pulled out a very expensive cellphone and called a number. "I was just asked if I was sent by Mr. Harris, Rupert?" He listened to why then snorted. "Really? I understand. Who was coming? That's reasonable. I'll check on him later." He hung up and looked at him. "No but I have been apprized of the situation. We can talk about that as well. Shall we?"

"We should. Want a meeting area or an interrogation room?"

He smirked. "Tape it if you want, lad." He followed him to an interrogation room and sat his briefcase on the table, looking at him while he started the taping equipment. "Thank you. Now, for the record, I'm am Dimitri Tolokov, I am a former researcher for the Watcher's Council. You have been doing research on us and asking nosy questions. I will know why."

Greg stared at him then grinned. He loved overconfident people. "For the same reason I thought you were sent by Mr. Harris, Dr. Tolokov. By the way, I saw your mythology lecture at UCSF."

He waved a hand. "It was nothing. A blip in my boring studies now and then." He sat down, casually comfortable. "Why do you suspect Mr. Harris of doing bad things? He's always been a very upstanding young man. Very uptight for some of it as well. Most of us don't appreciate Mr. Harris but we do know why he does what he does. Most of us have at least taken rudimentary psychology, as I'm sure you have."

"I did." He sat across from him. "The facts are that he has thirteen young women living with him and training with him daily. They're training in physical combat and weapons. They're from all over the world. In today's world that is going to raise some concerns."

"Did you try asking him? Even the late, unlamented Mr. Travers learned that lesson the last time he assumed."

"We pulled him in here to talk to him and he stomped off after calling us all idiots basically," Greg told him. "When we later caught one of the girls beating someone he walked her out as well. The person she was beating refused to press charges or she'd be in jail right now."

"I see." He considered it. He knew of Xander, but didn't know of him very well. Just some basic facts that everyone knew. This had been an ongoing problem the Council had faced over the last few years' when paranoid governments found out they were training the girls. "I would suggest first of all that you've jumped to an assumption that's very harmful."

"If he or you would clear this up for us we'd be more than happy to change our minds," Greg told him. "Right now, all we can see is that he's been at the scene of a number of suspicious incidences. He's getting monthly payments from Cleveland. He's training those girls to fight something. He's also training them to handle weapons. They're going out of the country repeatedly in some cases. Anyone we ask either won't talk or disappears mysteriously. Now, where would you like to start weeding out our misconceptions, Dr. Tolokov?"

He laughed. "You have balls, young man."

"Yes, and the job requires them to be iron," he quipped back, giving him a look. "My research said that your organization is the one Mr. Giles took over."

"About half of it," he admitted casually. "The research Council has ever been separate. It was seen as a precaution to protect us." That got a nod. "Rupert Giles is actually one of us, or was before he got sent into the field."

"Are you doing intelligence work or just ancient research and genetics work?" Greg asked. "I'm one of the ones that you sent a job announcement to," he said at the opening mouth.

"No, that was the main council, Mr. Traver's people. Most of them are now dead, young man. That is the price you pay when bad things come for you and you underestimate what they can do."

"Was that like a clan war?"

"No. No, it was a group that came after us for being in their way and being good at what we do. Many of my fellow researchers died as well. There's some of us still in hiding because we can't tell them the problem is over with." That got a single nod. The boy was still watching him. "You would have done good in our job."

Greg smiled. "Flattery won't distract me, Doctor Tolokov. After the explosion, Mr. Giles took over?"

"Yes, he was our fall-back spot. His girl was exceptional you see. If anyone could handle such problems we hoped she could. Otherwise more would've died and the earth wouldn't have to worry about overpopulation for many more centuries." Greg shuddered at his perfectly reasonable tone of voice. "That's why those with girls sent them to Mr. Giles. We figured he could protect them and they might be able to help. At least most of them had some training."

"To do what?"

"To protect what you hold dear, lad. The same as all the girls have. Past. Present. And future." He waved a hand. "Mr. Harris has the very young out there to train. Rupert decided to only let older girls into the field and I can agree it's a decent thing to do. I'm sure Mr. Harris has had a few of them out hunting with him now and then when problems hit."

"We have seen him out with the girls a great many times. Including letting a few head out to do things on their own."

"Yes, well, the girls mature faster. It is part of who they are and their duties to humanity." He smiled. "They had been sent out much younger." He smirked a bit. "Mr. Harris is definitely destroying the old order. He has since the first day he met Buffy and jumped into a fight that wasn't his. Since then he's calmed down some, feel very lucky. He used to be hyper and bouncy." He stared at him. "So yes, he must train those girls. They must train until they're out of time and then some of them will go on to have normal lives. Some will stay in the business as it were. Some of them will have children and we'll check their children to see if they need trained."

"Not all the children are trained? And why not boys?"

"You know, we've never trained a male," he said dryly. "Never, in all our history."

"Which I heard predates the Roman empire."

Doctor Tolokov looked at him then laughed. "Lad, there've been Watchers since before Man could do more than fingerpaint on cave walls." Greg gaped. "We've had the same duty all along, to train the girls."

"Then why are people scared of Xander Harris?" he asked.

"I do not know. I've never met the boy in person." He shrugged. "Personally I'm more scared of Buffy Summers. She's a bit odd and forceful, but a bit of an airhead from what I've seen. Rupert does well keeping her focused most of the time." Greg nodded slowly at that. "Xander has always been her backup and tactical person. We do appreciate the boy really. Even if we don't like that he warped the old order, we do appreciate him for what he's done for and with us."

"Why do a few of the younger girls head to Brazil, Miami, and Mexico now and then?"

"There's probably younger girls there that need to be checked over. He can't leave that many girls alone and I heard Rupert wasn't even allowing them into training until they were ten. That way they'd have some sort of life before they were summoned and called into service." He smiled. "Which is good of him but it'll create problems with cranky girls and the like. More power to him really. I'd never put up with it. I've always said that military style training would've been better overall but no one listened to me on that point."

Greg stared at him for a minute. "Are there other camps?"

"Not really. You'd have to ask Rupert about those, lad. As I said, the research council was kept a bit apart." He smirked. "I may be the head of them but I don't know what things Rupert has sent into motion yet. I'll be talking with him soon." He stood up. "Now, do you have any other questions about Mr. Harris?"

"No. Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. Oh, what happened to the main building? Are the same people going to be coming for the local ranch?"

He shook his head, smiling a bit. "No, Mr. Harris helped take care of them with the girls and Miss Rosenburg. They're why Sunnydale fell in." He walked off, heading out to the ranch. He had to buzz the gate and got an impolite grunt from the speaker back. "I'm Doctor Tolokov, Watcher's Research Council head. Let me in please," he ordered. The gate opened and he pulled up.

Xander came out to keep his car door closed. "I didn't know you guys still existed. Does Giles?"

"Yes, I talked with him earlier. I came to talk to a young CSI who was asking nosy questions."

"Did you tell them we're not a terrorist training camp?" he asked dryly.

"I did try, Mr. Harris."

Xander let him out of his car. "Come on. The girls are back from school and nibbling since school lunch was apparently baked beans today."

"Good, solid food."

"Gross, nasty stuff that was greasy and smelly," one girl countered. "Who's the suit, Xander?"

"Research arm of the Watcher's Council."

"Tradition had us separated, young lady. That way our books and knowledge wouldn't be endangered when apocalypses happened."

"Oh. Yay us." She walked off with her sandwich. "Sue's worried, Xander."

"You did fine, Sue," he called. "Bring me the test so I can see." She came down the stairs with it, still sealed. He looked at it then at her, smiling. "Better than last time but still not a high grade," he said, giving her a hug. "Good job. You're getting better." She looked then beamed and went to grab a cookie before heading up to her room. He looked at the amused Watcher. "They're all in the local public school. The local cops pulled them out of class the other day to talk to them."

Tolokov winced. "Oh, dear."

"Yeah. Did not make for a happy Xander. Who did you talk to?"

"CSI Sanders."

"He's the one I said Giles' person would talk to."

"He's sending Willow. She'll be here later tonight, Mr. Harris." He looked outside then at him. "They're not at practice?"

"Dinner then practice. It's close to a hundred degrees outside right now. It gives them time for homework, laundry, chores, those things." That got a smirk. "I'm not an idiot. Thirteen teenage girls with time on their hands equals destruction of the city at the very least. They'll practice later. Besides, that's why I have the younger group. Get them started, get them sorted out on who needs a specific style or who'd do better with martial arts training, and then get them to whatever lessons I can't teach them. We're having veggies for dinner!" he shouted. "Whoever's cooking, come help!" He looked at him again. "Staying?"

"I wouldn't care to. Then I've got to nag Rupert. He's left us without a purpose for a bit too long. All sorts of radical ideas, including aliens, are starting to come out."

"They're in Colorado," Xander told him, getting a stunned look. "They keep saving us from getting invaded. I'm hoping a few of the older girls who age out end up there."


Xander grinned. "Halloween." He walked off. "He was working on something and had seen some of the weapons requisitions. I said chores!" he yelled up the back stairs. "Do not make me assign punishment." A few girls came running and washed their hands, getting to work on the stuff he had laid out. "Bake it or fry it, ladies." They nodded, letting him lead the old Watcher to the office. "It's cooler in here than the kitchen will be soon. Plus less loud," he said when he heard the radio snap on.


The local CSI gathered for another meeting after both interviews had been done. They all stared at Grissom. "Okay, first of all, the first guy is clearly scared of him. He called him Mr. Harris most of the time," Grissom said. "The second one is the same age and a bit strange."

Nick nodded. "Yeah but she's a neo-pagan, Grissom. She kept saying Goddess when she wanted to swear." He looked at Greg. "You sat with them. Any impressions?"

"Tolokov was a cold snake sort," he said grimly. "The ice in the veins, if the world is going to end I'm going to be there to see it go sort." That got some nods. "I didn't get scared but I did get some respect for the boy. He wanted to respect the kid for what he had done. The only scary thing was the thought of him taking over completely I think."

Grissom nodded. "I still saw fear. Respect can come of fear even though it's not true respect, Greg."

"Yeah but I don't think this was fear-based, Grissom." He turned on the tape, pausing it. "See, that's not a fearful look. That's a look of 'he's badder than I am and did things I couldn't do' sort of respect. Like people respect you because you're so much smarter than they are about some things."

Grissom let it play, watching it again, nodding slowly. "I can see how you'd see that. You took him as cold?"

"It's in the eyes, Grissom. He sat down in that casually comfortable sprawl that was just enough to show that he wasn't bothered or intimidated by me, but he was alert. His legs were still tense. His back was still very straight. Now and then his fingers moved unconsciously." He paused the tape again. "Am I wrong?"

"No, you're not," Brass said. "I've seen it with lawyers now and then. They're ready to do battle but they want you to think they're relaxed and calm." He looked at Grissom again. "What about the girl?"

"She ... I'm not sure if she liked him even."

"They were friends," Greg said more quietly. Everyone stared at him. "We've all had friends that've outgrown us. She had that same look in her eyes." He started that tape, letting them see it when he paused it. "That look. That I love you but I pity you because I love you and you're not mine anymore look. I've had exes and friends with it."

Warrick nodded. "I've seen that look with a few exes too. Good catch, Greg."

"Thanks." He looked at Grissom again. "She doesn't think he's Darth Vader or anything but she knows he's out of her reach and circle of closest friends."

Catherine stared then nodded slowly. "Which one do we trust? We basically got the same story but Tolokov was more about the girls doing what they had to do. Willow was all about female empowerment, teaching them to be strong, that stuff."

"If it's an ancient cult, as Tolokov basically upheld, it could be about both," Grissom said. "They're still training those girls for a war situation."

"And have been since we were painting in caves," Nick reminded him. That got a grimace and a nod. "So maybe this is just the newest generation?"

"Perhaps," Warrick agreed. "Or maybe they think they'll end up going into combat. Too many things have went on this generation for them not to go on alert. Their main people were blown up. Their whole power base shifted. All their plans and safe places were raided and sent to another area, then they had to move after some sort of problem in that town. For all we know, they could have stepped up the training, which is about what we're seeing with his girls, and they're going to snap soon. What did Social Services say?"

"It's weird but teaching the girls self defense isn't wrong. He has all the proper paperwork according to the files they looked at from the school's records," Bras recited. He shrugged at the end. "Again, weird but not harming them. Keeping thirteen young teens in line is hard and if he has to go to some military tactics to do that, it's not against the law. He's not beating them. If they have bruises it's from practices and them learning new moves. Unless we can prove he has criminal motives we can't do a thing about the girls."

"What about any of the other cities?" Grissom asked. "Did anyone get anything?"

"Tolokov came because I asked Scotland Yard," Greg reminded him. "I think that was their answer."

"I got something from Miami. They haven't been watching him but they will start," Catherine offered. "Horatio said they haven't been correlating anything like that but then again, he's day shift and most of the crimes are night shift. He'll ask around. He wanted pictures of the girls just in case. I sent our surveillance file."

"Is that why you were looking at the phone?" Nick asked her, smiling a bit.

"Yeah, he saw Harris's picture and hung up without a word. I don't know why, he's not answering his cell at the moment."

"So it could've been something or it could've been a lab problem," Grissom told her. She nodded. "I called the lab I know in New York, they knew of the Watchers' Council. They hated them. Mac said he hated them. He didn't want to deal with them and Stella said she's glad they're mostly dead. They did say they'd had some odd things but nothing that could be proven." He shrugged. "They're watching too. Anything from LA?"

"Nothing further," Nick told him. "Or anything on that Sunnydale place. It's apparently listed as 'classified, shoot upon asking about it' according to one of their IAB guys. He wouldn't say why and he didn't sound like he was joking."

Brass grimaced. "That's bad."

"That's very bad," Greg agreed. "I emailed my contacts but I haven't heard anything new back yet. Just that Sunnydale was bad, was rough, had high death and disappearance statistics, that stuff." He shrugged. "Nothing concrete or why."

"Could this Harris guy be why?" Catherine asked.

Greg looked at her. "Only if he's a multi-generation thug. There's been a high death rate since the thirties when the town picked up population due to some new plants going in." She shuddered. "We didn't find a history of that though." He looked at Grissom again. "Do we have a next move or are we waiting and watching some more?"

"Wait and watch some more. Maybe more information will come to us. Maybe not. With the way some of the people in town are scared of him and those girls I'm not sure that some won't run off if we try to ask them again."

Brass coughed then nodded. "Two of the clerks at that one hotel he went to have disappeared. One of the ones that Catherine talked to. He quit then he left. He told his boss he was leaving. The other was found hung in his room and the ME said it was self-done."

"Were they scared of the questions or of him?" Nick asked.

"No one knows. No note was left that we found," Brass told him. "The other simply vanished into thin air after being questioned."

"I got that the guy the girl beat up was scared of him," Catherine offered. "I want to know who this guy is."

"Tolokov said to ask him," Greg said. "Maybe we should try to talk to him again."

"We probably won't get any further, Greg," Grissom complained.

"I'm not talking about bringing him in here to talk to him, Grissom. But a 'ha, caught you getting a burger, sitting down across from you to talk' session." That got an interested look. "Though I wouldn't send Warrick since he totally pissed him off by talking to the girls and pulling them out of class."

"Yes, he filed a complaint about that," Brass said. Warrick moaned, shaking his head. "Do we think the girls are being used as a cover or as part of a criminal activity? Is he pimping them out? Teaching them to break and enter?"

"We'll never know because we can't get that close to them without the overprotective person," Warrick pointed out. "Before he got there, I got a lot of scoffs, odd looks, and a few outright laughs with my attitude fix for the month. They all decided I'm stupid for asking questions."

Greg nodded to back that up. "They were not impressed that we think their teacher is doing something."

Catherine sighed. "Want me to pick one and have a go at her?"

Grissom shook his head. "There's every chance that even if they're involved they won't talk. If he scares innocents he's got to have them cowed."

Someone walked in and smiled then set down a book before walking off. "Reading is useful," Willow said. "And talking behind our backs isn't really feasible because I hear everything."

Greg took the book first, looking at it. "Hmm. A history of the Watchers' Council." He flipped to the front page and read, then handed it to Grissom and Brass. "Guess we know why they're training the girls. They're in case of an apocalypse so they can handle the problem creatures that'll be coming."

"Demons," Brass said. "Interesting."

"We knew it was a cult," Warrick said, taking it when Grissom handed it on. It gave them another peg in the wall but nowhere near a ladder yet.


Willow looked at Xander a few hours later. "I gave them the official history book."

"So they'll be paranoid and decide we're an apocalypse cult or an anti-apocalypse militia," he said dryly. She rolled her eyes. "Seriously."

"Maybe but they won't think you're terrorists. They had a lot of questions about how you tied into things and why people were scared of you."

"Because I'm effective," he pointed out dryly. "Steph?" She came jogging down the stairs, giving Willow a hug. Willow had been the one to gather her. "Can you get my file of who's where?" She nodded, going to get it off the computer for him.

"We have the same one," Willow reminded him.

"I watch over the pre-trained."

"Good point. Any local?"

"No. Closest is Miami."

"Hmm." She took the file to look over. "What about that situation in Brazil?"

"Handled." He shifted. "We could be boldly dumb and let them catch something." Willow glared at him. "Nothing harmful. We have a few new vamps in town for the gambling and show girls."

She shook her head. "I won't even think about that option." She went back over the file. "So, Cera in six months?"


"Your house is full?" Xander stared at her. "No, I don't have any other ideas but we could take a few of the older ones."

"I don't have any that are anywhere near adult," he pointed out patiently. "There's no way I'd inflict teenagers on the main house or any of the other ones."

"Fine." She leaned back. "Will you have room?" He gave her another dirty look. "Never mind. You can add on." He nodded. "Fine. Anything else that needs to go back with me?" He handed over his monthly report with a smirk. "If more happens, Giles will be out," she assured him, staring at him.

"Let him warn us and we'll make real food that night."

"Good." She gathered things and left, going back to the airport. This situation was probably not a good thing.

Xander looked at Steph. "Not my idea and no clue," he told her.

"I like Cera. She's bouncy, happy, not shy. She'll help us decorate our rooms."

"That's good. I like her being able to fit in fairly quickly."

"I'm just glad she's still got her 'rents," Steph said quietly.

"Her mother loves all you girls. Like Joyce did with us."

"I know. It's good but I wish I could still have mine." He gave her a hug. "Thanks, Xander. What crawled up her skirt?"

"No idea," he said dryly. "Sometimes Willow gets into that mood. We tend to avoid her because of it." She nodded, accepting that. "Go do chores." She left, going to tell the others. He relaxed, contemplating things. He had no idea what was going on or why they had twigged to them.


Xander waved a hand at the obvious cop in uniform that was watching him. "C'mon, half of the problem tonight is human, dude." He walked past him, pulling his machete out. It was unavoidable at this time but Miami was going to freak out and then he'd have to hear from Willow again. He kicked in the door. "Watcher's Council, asshole. Leave my minis alone!" The tree demon and his gang looked at him and one dared to laugh. So Xander beheaded him and fought off the other two obvious demons.

The officer was calling for backup before coming in to help by removing the civilians. "Cera, no," he ordered. She went with her mother and Xander go the last demon. "The other three are human," he told the officer. He walked outside wiping his machete off on a rag from his back pocket. "You good?" he asked the family, who nodded. "Cool." He grinned. "Can you move to the ranch?" he asked Cera's mom. "You have mom sense and the girls could use some this week."

"If I can find a job out there I'll gladly move to support all the girls, Xander. What was their idea?"

Xander looked at one of the thugs. "Well? Got an answer for the very worried mother?"

"She's worth a lot to some people," he complained. "It was just to get her to hand her over."

Xander rolled his eyes then smiled at the mom. "I'll go looking tonight to see which group it is." A hummer pulled in with lights and sirens going, parking and letting out an older redheaded man. "Lieutenant," he said with a nod. "They came after the one I watch over locally." He pulled Cera over to hug. She snuggled into his arms. "Start calling the others, Cera. They could use some sense. Thankfully you inherited it." Cera's mother laughed but nodded, hugging him too. He grinned at her. "I'd flirt but you're not deadly enough to be mine."

"I know, baby." She patted her daughter on the back. "They managed to call a friend once they had us corralled on the couch," she told the officer. "I have no idea who was going to show up or if they still will."

"We'll figure it out," Xander assured her. He let Cera go. "Let's get you two to a motel tonight. Even if they went to someone like Wolfram and Hart's people, they won't bother you at the Dusky Rose." Cera nodded, bounding inside to pack a bag for her and her mother. He looked at the Mom. "Las Vegas has the *wrong* idea about the girls," he said quietly. "But Willow spilled some so they think we're an anti-apocalypse cult now." She rolled her eyes. "Seriously, yeah." He looked at the staring redhead, grinning some. "Aren't you happy you don't have to deal with this too often?"

"Quite." He stepped closer, taking off his sunglasses. "What were they going for?"

"Apparently someone decided Cera's priceless and wanted to buy her," Xander said dryly. "They're wrong about the buying part. I dealt with the non-humans and tempted an officer to follow me to get the humans."

"That's fine. I'm sure he'll need some time to calm down. Do I have to clean up a mess?" Xander patted his machete. "I see."

"Cleaning people can do it," the mother said. "I hire one and she can use the carpet scrubber I have. She has in the past when Cera dragged in all manners of slime from playing with a few demons on the playground."

"And only one was dangerous," Xander quipped. Her mother nodded, rolling her eyes. "Cera's a great young lady, Maeve. I never worry about Cera. I worry about some of my girls getting into trouble but not yours." Cera came back with two bags and her school backpack. "Let's get you guys to safety and then I'll go ask someone impolitely about who wanted to own you, Cera. If we can, Lieutenant?"

"I'll be informed?" he demanded.

"If you want. Especially if they're humans." He walked the ladies off to his rental car and took them to the local safehouse demon hotel. The check-in agent blinked at him and moaned. Xander grinned. "This is Cera. Someone broke in to take her hostage."

"We will gladly protect the future Huntress," he said, bowing to her, making her blush and giggle. "Just them, Knight?"

"Please. I'm going to go find out why someone wanted them to be taken." He paid for it with the Council credit card he had and made sure their room was safe before leaving to find a demon bar. Two of the demons in there spotted him and ran screaming but the rest were waiting on the amusement. He grinned as he walked in. "People, why did I have to leave my minis at home to come rescue Cera?" A few moaned and another one started to cry. Xander walked over to talk to him. "Let me guess, you're part of that tree guy's gang?" He nodded. "Who was it that wanted my mini? That way I can go talk to them."

"My friends?"

"They had humans helping. The Lieutenant is very well liked though so he showed up to handle it. The rest....well, I was a bit mad." He stared at him. "So, who had the bright idea?"

"There's a call for virgin, powerful blood for a sacrifice to end the slayer line. They needed one and six other victims." He swallowed his beer, slumping down. "They were going to pay heavily for her. One slayer won't be missed will they?"

"Hell yes, especially that one." He stared at him, then patted him on the neck fin. "Go straight. Go away. Never let a single slayer see you again," he said quietly. "After you give me who was going to pay." The demon wrote down what he knew and got to flee in terror. Xander leaned back, calling Cleveland. "It's me. I saved Cera. There's another plan to take out the slayers. Six victims, one virgin slayer. Yup, saved her, Willow. I'll go looking for the others but it's that skull wearing gang up by you guys."

He hung up and looked up then at the bartender, who shrugged but stayed out of grabbing range even if Xander was at the bar. "Chill, dude. I don't care about you unless you're causing a problem that will get demons noticed in the press." The bartender nodded, hurrying off. Xander got up, going to find that local gang. Hopefully the victims were more local than not. And they were but they only had two sacrifices and the group were complaining that their person had been captured while trying to gather Cera. Thankfully they said they had another one coming so he could wait on that one to get there. So yeah, pity about them.

Xander looked up as the Lieutenant showed up in his hummer. More quietly this time, no lights or sirens. "So," he said with a grin. "Three of their sacrificial victims." He waved a hand. "No more demons. The rest of the gang is up by Cleveland. I warned Willow but you've met her I'm sure."

"Unfortunately," he agreed. "Why were they doing this?"

"A planned spell to end the slayer line," he said with a snort at the end. "There's billions of those a year. These guys got part way but I doubt the spell would've worked the way they wanted since the demon they wanted to call up to make a wish or plea with is long dead by my hand." He shrugged but grinned. "Damn thing wanted to take a whole school as tribute to hold a village in thrall. Fuck no." He smiled. "So it wouldn't have worked but you don't have seven bodies."

"Thank you for handling that. Are you aware that we've had some odd calls from the lab out by your present posting?"

"Yeah. They accused me of training terrorists," he said dryly. "Then they talked to Willow so now they think we're an anti-apocalypse cult for some reason." He shrugged but grinned. "I'm about to sue them over their shit too. They keep trying to talk to the girls." The lieutenant shuddered but nodded once. "You can clue them in if you want. Apparently they don't believe it even when it's in their faces."

"I can suggest they go talk to a few individuals in bars like the one you threatened earlier."

"Thanks. Means a lot to me." He smiled. "You'll probably need ambulances."

"Probably." He went in to check, having to shoot a small demon that showed up to grab one of the victims. Xander came in to stomp on it then carried the body off to present it to someone. It let the officers handle the victims so they were safe.


Back in Las Vegas, the lab's people were getting sent in information by some of their local contacts. Who all seemed to really like the girls and respected their guardian, even if most of them grumbled about him being an asshole with an attitude problem and an itchy sword finger as some put it. They gathered for another meeting to go over that information. "Itchy sword finger," the leader of the group complained. "Who uses swords these days?"

"People who need to behead." Their usual detective walked in with a file and a CSI from another lab. "We have a crossover, slightly, and when I asked if she had heard about this she went on a giggle fit." He waved a hand with a smirk.

"What is going on with that group?" Catherine Willows demanded to her female counterpart from Miami.

"Oh, dear, you don't have a clue," she said dryly, smirking at them. "C'mon. Let's go talk to a few people. If we're talking about who I think we're talking about, it's going to be a long night, people." She let them drive but took them to a bar she got texted directions to when she sent a text message home. She walked in and held up her ID case with her badge out. "We're just questioning about some locals, people, not here to raid. Don't call anyone higher up in the city." A few grumbled and one slumped. She headed for the bar with a smile. "So, I come up to help catch a gun runner and start hearing rumors that the Savior of Methalnes is angry. Any idea why?" she asked with a smile.

"Someone tried to take Huntress Cera to sacrifice but that's down where you are, Blonde Gun Lady."

"I'm Calleigh," she said with a smile. "You can use my name."

"Names have power," he warned.

"Yes but that sort don't want me."

"Yes they would. Wolfram and Hart," he said then looked around like they were watching. "They're very interested in your lab and they can do things with your name."

She nodded then smiled again. "Thank you for the warning. I'll gladly do something about them from what I've heard. Can you explain some things to my cohorts? Please?"

"Sure. We've heard they're awfully confused." He looked at them, letting his illusion drop so he was now light purple and had orange hair. "You have confused the Guardian a lot. All the future Huntresses are upset and it's making his life miserable as well. Please don't make him that upset. We don't particularly like our less than nice population but that'd be a mess to clean up and mourn."

Calleigh considered it then nodded with a smile. "Yes, it probably would be if they're going to cause the girls problems." She looked at them. "The things you learn growing up in New Orleans," she said dryly. Greg spluttered. She patted him on the arm. "This is a peaceful demon bar. One with protections to keep things peaceful. There's sanctuaries all over the US, and this is one. Nothing here can cause harm while it's in here." She tipped Nick's chin up so he could close his mouth. "Those girls you were worried about? Way back when, before humans could read, they were appointed somehow to handle the bad ones of these guys. Some did better at that goal than others," she said with a sigh at the end. "But the new ones only handle the problems being caused and only with the beings born in other dimensions."

"Plenty of the earth-bound ones are too tired to be causing problems," the demon bartender agreed, leaning on the bar. He smiled at Greg. "You saw some of us. We heard about you in college and that weird result you got that once."

Greg hit himself on the head. "I thought it had degraded in a weird way due to radiation."

"They were half-human," the bartender admitted. "It was talk of the community because that could have outed us. We try extremely hard not to be outed. It's dangerous for us. People would take us out."

"Like those girls?" Nick demanded.

"No. Like the religious sort that shout at you because you don't believe their ways." He stared at him. "Though our own churches tend to shout back, we do have to keep secret from them." Nick slumped, staring at him. "Those girls protect us just as much as they protect your kind, CSI Stokes." He smirked a tiny bit. "We make sure we know who is around that might stumble onto the community." He looked at Greg then at Calleigh again. "He's down there rescuing Cera."

"Then he's probably seen Horatio at least once," she said with a grin. "Though I do adore Cera having sense. She brought in some kid the other day who was trying to hurt a teen hangout for some of the underworld, human and demon. The officer wasn't impressed but then Horatio heard and handled it for her."

"He's good at that. Nearly as good as the Guardian is," the bartender agreed.

"The Knight can be mean but only if you deserve it," one of the patrons complained drunkenly further up the bar. "He took out my wife. She was trying to eat a daycare though. I guess that's reasonable." He shrugged. "Humans have too many eggs."

"We have live young," Calleigh said patiently. "And I would've taken her out too." The demon blinked at her and she grinned, wiggling her fingers. "I may not be a Slayer but I did find out why there are slayers."

"Hmm. New Orleans is all sorts of messy," he agreed, wandering off with his drink. "She's one who cleans up messes," he called into the back room.

"We won't have one of those for another six months," another voice called back. "Pity LA's version though. They're having a huge mess in weeks."

Calleigh pulled out her phone to text that to someone. Who asked Xander apparently since she got the official notice sent to her. "Oh, dear. Yeah, Wolfram and Hart are going to try something again. Someone really needs to end that law firm." She put her phone back. "The one in six months here isn't them, it's a place that's going to send their jails here to get rid of them."

"Aw, fuck," a female voice complained. "We'll have a lot of slayers here then."

Calleigh looked back there. "Sweetie, you know it'll be a battle team and Xander." She shuddered but moaned and crunched in to protect her stomach and chest area. "Yeah, so vacation then...might be a good idea for all you undead ones?"

"Yeah, I think it's a great idea. Six months?"

"Yup. That's what he told Horatio."

"I'll tell the overlord so he's warned," she muttered, walking to the payphones to call someone.

Calleigh looked at the bartender again, smiling at him. "Nice." He grinned back. "Anything else we need to hear?"

"Yeah, you're making the mini slayers paranoid," he told the local CSI contingent. "Paranoid teenage girls are dangerous. Especially to themselves. Then they need stress relief and it's dangerous to the city because stressed out slayers draw shitbags in the club and they have to beat them. Or Xander has to beat them." He gave Greg a pointed look. "You saw the last one he had to beat off one of the slayers, though an adult one."

"Was that the guy that was in his bathtub?" Greg asked. The bartender nodded. "You know, we can arrest him for that."

"He found the guy drugging the slayer," the bartender told him. "He got what he deserved. If Buffy or Faith had gotten him instead...." Greg moaned. "Yeah, he would've been bits and pieces but living because slayers can't harm humans." He leaned on the bar, staring at him. "Just leave the girls alone for the love of the Goddess. Before you make Rosenburg act out. She's prone to doing stupid things like making the President a cat again." He grinned at him. "Okay?" Greg nodded.

"That's impossible," Grissom said. And then he was a rabbit with floppy ears and still wearing his glasses. He hopped a few times and looked at himself then around.

Nick picked him up before he could hide or get stepped on, or get eaten or something. "Can whoever please change him back? He's got to testify in a few days to keep a murderer behind bars."

"Fine," a male voice said. "I can undo what the Red Tide has done." He and a few others got together to do that. Nick put Grissom back onto his feet. "Better?"

"Thank you," Nick said with a forced smile. "Is the Red Tide the one that came to talk to us?"

"Unfortunately," that table agreed. "The next super chaos mage in the making if she doesn't stop soon."

"Remember, you talk about her, you draw her attention," the bartender called. "We don't need to rebuild this year, people. Bad enough that Harris is going to angst about his former trainees soon from the rumors."

Xander appeared, looking up. "I was busy," he called. "Protecting Cera." A note floated down and he sighed. "Fine." He looked at the bartender, ignoring the CSI outside giving Calleigh a one-armed hug. "You summoned?" he demanded sarcastically.

The bartender swallowed. "Is Cera all right?"

"Another douchebag tried to grab her from the Dusky Rose. Probably with the law firm. Andrew said he has them safe. So...." He waved a hand.

"Rumors state that two of your girls are going into a major battle in a week. Plus the one in LA coming up."

Xander winced. "Huh. I wonder why I didn't get told that," he said, glaring at the ceiling. They all heard the squeak of noise. "Yes, do go hide as a mouse, Willow Goddamn Rosenburg." He huffed and called. "Andrew, what's going on with my girls in Africa?" He listened. "Excuse me? I killed that one. Yeah, have them bait it here to me. I'll handle that cunt of a higher demoness myself again if I have to. Thanks, man. Cera? Oh, you sent Faith. Well, they do get along really good, yeah.

"That's fine if Faith didn't mind. Sure, she can probably have bikini time tomorrow. She could use some stress relief and Miami does have better clubs than Cleveland. Yeah, have the girls do that and I'll be waiting. Or send me back for the battle then bring me back so my present girls don't have to worry. You know they'll fuss and whine if I'm gone for a battle. The one in LA is going to be a bitch for that. Thanks. No, I don't think Willow can fill in for me. Giles can, you can, the witch is not allowed in the house. She keeps screwing up the protections on it."

He rolled his eyes, accepting the bottle of water from the bartender to take a drink. "Thanks, Herbert. Yeah, I am. Well, I was in Miami," he said dryly. "And my bag's still down there. You can have Faith toss it back at me if you can't. Thanks, Drew." He hung up and huffed, glaring around. "Harvers, I need to make a deal quickly by next week," he called. "A demon goddess I could've *sworn* I killed is trying to be brought over. Who knows what they'll get instead. Probably Glory's crack-smoking sister."

"Sure, Harris. Once you're not surrounded by cops."

Xander shrugged. "I'm covered. You know that." He smirked a tiny bit. "It's the one that I had to borrow a few units of terror believing assholes to sacrifice and their weapons to end."

"That was good work," Harvers admitted from his table, not looking over. "Paid them back nicely for being dicks to normal people too." Xander smirked. "The blue one?"

"No, the green one." Harvers and a few others shuddered. "Yeah, so no telling what they'll call instead. I'll have them divert her to the desert by the house."

"I'll warn the healers," Herbert the bartender said, sending out a mass text message. "Are your girls all right beyond that?"

"I still hate one's husband her family pressed on her but not enough to do more than use him as bait," Xander said dryly, finishing his water off. He tossed the bottle in the trashcan behind the bar. "Maybe we can do that this time. Though I heard she's knocked up....well, maybe she'll find a better second husband since her parents can't pick for her and do it because they hate her duty." He walked off shaking his head. "Let me go calm down my heathens. Tell me if there's problems, people. The girls all have test stress and we all want you to be safe." He left, catching a cab home.

Calleigh winced. "He really could use some stress relief himself," she said quietly, looking at the bartender.

"No one that evil's showed up recently," he admitted. "Your cohorts won't let them stay. Macia was here but she's been run out of town before she could try to rob the slayers' battle funds and storage area again."

Calleigh winced. "We saw her in Miami. She wasn't worthy of him."

"No but the only one around here," he said, waving a hand around. "I feel sorry for the guy with the stamina he has thanks to dating Anya but still nothing local."

"Pity. I'll see if we can send some of ours from Miami up." She smiled at her shocked looking cohorts. "Xander tends to draw the deadly to him. That's how we met him in Miami. He was taking out a huge demon problem but we caught him in a club with two minor assassins fighting over him. He left from our interrogation room and went to handle the huge demon. Horatio was not amused," she finished dryly.

"He forced Xander to tell him what that had been. So we got the full lecture on how not to worry our prettiness about them and then Horatio growled a bit. Xander flirted and Horatio walked off looking upset but bothered because he couldn't scare him. We tracked him down and we found out then he had to correct some assumptions about the girls. Plus defend two of us from things that tried to eat us in a club. So we learned. Though I knew a bit more from home. I told Horatio why things were happening."

"The Knight is a great teacher," Herbert agreed. "That's why he was teaching the girls who stay at home. And the ones who don't have a home. That and it got him away from the TWO."

Calleigh shuddered. "I met Buffy once." She smiled at him. The bartender whined. "Oh, yes. And I told her to grow up. Being an airhead was only for teenage girls and worthless trust fund brats who have tiny dogs to talk to."

"You're lucky you weren't a pet thanks to the other," Herbert warned her then waved a hand.

Calleigh looked back. "Miss Rosenburg," she said fondly, smirking at her. "I'm told we still have an arrest warrant for you in Miami. Nick, did you bring handcuffs?" Greg handed over his. She got up and Willow fled for her life. She sighed and sat down, handing them back. "There might be a federal one now too if she did turn the President into a cat again. They really hate her."

"They hate all the Council," Herbert reminded her. "It makes them mad that girls save them."

"Well, yes, but most of us women who can do that work realize that they're just little boys who need to find their thumbs and mamas again." She smiled at the staring CSI, shrugging some. "They really do."

"They do," Greg said. "Can we come back to talk about the girls if we have more worries?" Herbert nodded with a grin. "Thank you for explaining things to us." He helped Calleigh off her stool. "Guys, let's go tell the others." They went back to the SUV and headed back to the station. He looked at Calleigh once they were safely back at the station. "Is it always like that?"

"The peaceful ones? Yes. They're just like everyone else, only they can look funny." She shrugged. "The harmful? Sometimes they can look like people but most of those are undead." She sat down. "A word of advice; if they can get that portal here, you'll probably need a flame thrower to clean up the mess. The one we had in Miami we had to let the fire department burn for us because she was eight feet tall and went sploosh all over the sand as Eric complained."

Greg nodded once. "We can prepare for that. Is there some sort of manual or something so we realize when we run into one?"

"The girls might have one," she said. "You'd have to ask Xander that. I figure he had to train the girls with one."

"Point. Yeah, I can do that probably. Once I quit freaking out."

She patted him on the hand with a smile. "Freaking out and going to get drunk are normal responses according to him. Even he's had to go there a few times too." Greg grinned and went to have a quiet fit in the changing area about demons being real.

Detective Brass looked at the staring two CSI then at Calleigh. "What did you do to them?"

"I showed them what they wanted to know and Grissom got turned into a rabbit for a few minutes." She winced. "But the Red Tide did it from afar. Thankfully some locals could undo it. That doesn't always happen."

Brass sighed, rubbing his forehead. "I don't need to know."

"Xander will try to divert one of the battles his girls are having to him here since he's already killed the one they're calling on and he thinks they'll need him but he can't get down there that long with the local house's girls being so young." Brass just nodded. "He'll try that in the desert. Also, six months, here. Few weeks in LA. Feel lucky you're not in LA."

"Yeah, yeah I do," he said, walking off shaking his head. "We'll go over that gun runner later, Calleigh."

"Sure. I can go check into my hotel." She skipped off before the guys could ask her more questions.

Grissom looked at his senior CSI, who was shaking his head. "I think we were slightly wrong about the purpose of that group. Though I still don't understand why swords."

"Maybe it's the only thing that'll work, Griss. All I know is I need to get really drunk now. I'll see you tomorrow." He walked off to sign out for the night. It was either getting drunk or his brain exploding. He might miss Grissom if he was stuck in a vegetative state from his brain going bad.

Grissom went to his office to play with his bugs while he tried to reconstruct the puzzle of those girls and their guardian. Something still didn't seem right to him.


Xander walked into his slayer house, slamming the door. "Don't ask," he told the housekeeper. She took night shift so he could get some sleep without having to catch giggling teenage girls trying to sneak in or out of the house.

"You look like you hiked from town."

"Just about a mile away. That way the girls wouldn't hear me having a fit." He sat on the stairs. "The girls in Africa are going to have to divert a problem this way so I can handle it for them. I already killed the main problem so who knows what'll show up."

"That's going to be a problem," she agreed. "Can you handle that?"

"Yes. Probably. I did last time." He shrugged a bit. "But we've got that charming thing in LA in a few days. Then one locally in six months."

She patted him as she walked past him. "You can buy more weapons."

"I already told one I'd need some. That goddess last time took out a good portion of those I had conned into helping the battle. And the local military." He shook his head quickly, heading upstairs. "Cera's coming in about a month with her mom."

"That's fine. We have that apartment above the garage. She and her mother can live out there, Xander." He nodded. She went to make notes to send to Rupert. They had worried about Xander handling things here in the US. Of course, Rupert never heard about the other battles beyond little reports. Xander came down with his tablet open to a video so she played it and then sent the address to Rupert. He didn't like computers but he did know how to find things on YouTube. Too many battles got recorded these days. It was directly related to how many ulcers Rupert said he was getting.


Xander walked into the demon bar in LA, shaking his head at the wolf whistles he was getting. "Not tonight, my minis all have PMS with two having their first bout." A few of the demons laughed. "Seriously," he told one who was laughing. Spike just smirked. Xander swatted him on the head. "She's looking for you for up-to-date intel. Told me to fetch you so one of us has to bark, Spike."

"Heard cops asking about you," he said smugly.

"Yeah, they thought the girls were terrorists." He rolled his eyes. "Or in training to be one."

"Only to some stores," Spike snickered, shaking his head. He finished his card hand and Xander leaned down to hiss in someone's ear, getting a moan. Xander just grinned at that demon, who whined. Xander nodded. Spike lifted an eyebrow and lit up a cigarette. "What's that about?"

"His niece is in Vegas about to get married against her family's will. If I wasn't here this weekend I would've been her honor guard. Instead Colleen is." He shrugged but grinned at that demon. "Don't protest too hard. He's a stand up dude, even if he is from another species. And is looking for a new job since the local PD busted his last one. He actually ate the other guy who was trying to court her by threatening her eggs."

That demon winced. "I heard. Thanks for the warning of my sister screaming later."

"Dude, I'm gladly falling in for this battle to avoid that screaming. I promised her that Colleen could shut her up with duct tape if she had to."

The demon nodded. "We'd all like that some days. Even if duct tape is mean to our skin." Xander patted him again as he walked Spike off. "Anyone taking bets about my niece's wedding?" he called. "Harris just warned me it's on this weekend." A new betting board was set up so they could profit from that momentous event.

Xander drove Spike back and got out with him, barking as they walked in. "There, all fetched." He walked off to call the house. "Put Colleen on, Mara." He rolled his eyes. "Just put her on!" he complained back. "I know you feel miserable. Every one of you do that most months unless you go on medicines to stop it or get pregnant." She pouted but handed the phone over. "Teach her the ways of chocolate ice cream please, Colleen. I warned her uncle. They started a bet as soon as we walked off. Yup, and I warned about duct tape so have fun with them."

Buffy tried to take his phone. "Have the other girls teach her the important ways of curing the PMS. Have fun. Don't get the cops called please? They're just now starting to calm down." Buffy hit him on the arm as hard as she could. "Ow! Bitch!" He glared at her. "Watch me hit you back, Buffy." He walked off rubbing his arm and sighing. "Anything I have to ground for so far? No, I don't expect you to nark beyond sneaking out to meet a boy in the training yard again so watch over Mira.

"Yup, thanks. Let me know. I have voicemail for during the battle. Have them call if they need me before then. If the thing in Africa goes off, call and have me summoned immediately. You'll need into the heavy weapons. Yup." He winced and rubbed his throbbing arm again. "Thanks for the sitting, Colleen, and have fun at the wedding. Be scary like I will at yours some day." He hung up and glared at Buffy then stared at Giles. "The wedding should be peaceful. Hopefully. The one in Africa can be diverted so I can handle it with the higher weapons we have. And if the LVPD gets into them like they've been trying to I'm leading it there so they can handle it." Giles scowled, but Xander shrugged and grinned. "I have permission to hoard weapons, Giles."

"I'm aware of that and I'm happy about that most of the time. How much of that came with you?"

"A quarter of the stash. The practical parts." Buffy stomped over with a huff. He stared down at her. "Yes?" he asked dryly.

"I can talk to my minis about PMS, Xander."

"No you can't. The last one you talked to about it you suggested dating a vampire! I don't want my ten-and-a-half-year-old mini slayer to be dating *anyone*, much less a vampire!" He glared down at her, making her back down. "That's *your* kink, not a generally shared one. You don't see Faith dating a vampire do you? Or Sarah? Or even Kennedy or Rona?"

She huffed off again. "I can still tell them about girl things."

"Cera's mom is giving them a lot of older woman advice. She has sense and culture and couth and reminds me of a Southern version of Joyce but she'd beat an idiot boy to death with her shoe. Thankfully she's decided to move with her daughter." He looked at Giles again. "Two first time PMS moments." Giles winced but nodded he understood. He patted Xander on the arm, making him yelp. "Oh, damn it, please not be broken," he muttered, looking at his arm.

Giles felt along it, shaking his head. "I think it's just bruised," he told his protege. Xander relaxed. "You can wrap it for the battle."

"I probably will," he agreed with a nod. Two agents stomped in. "Which one are you here for because we can't let you have them until after the battle," he told them.

"We're here to talk to Miss Rosenburg about her pet problem," one of them sneered.

Xander pointed. "Two days from now you're going to have another huge problem thanks to a demonic law firm. Can't it wait?"

"The President is a cat!" the other one yelled with a point toward the north-east.

"Willow!" Giles snapped. She squeaked and undid the spell. He glared at her then at the agents. "After our upcoming problem we'll be handing her back to the coven in Devon so they can...mentor her again."

The agents stared at him then at Xander. "We know about you, Harris." Xander grinned and waved a bit. "Why are you here?"

"It's here or thirteen girls with PMS," he said dryly. "And a battle at a wedding. An apocalypse is just better than that." One of the agents shuddered. "Beyond that, I brought happy making things that go boom, like I'm supposed to."

"Fine. Afterward, we want an inventory."

"In two weeks I've got a battle being sent from Africa and then four months to one in Vegas," Xander said dryly. "Ask me after that."

"Do they know about you?"

Xander smiled. "They think the girls are future terrorists."

The agents both moaned. "We can talk to them," the first agent decided. "Can they have an inventory?"

"With how often I have to ship things around to the girls? It won't be accurate for long."

"Can we add an armory master to the Council?" the second asked with a hopeful smile. Giles pointed at Xander. "We can hopefully get you some in more legal ways."

"That would take away my dates," Xander said dryly as he walked off. "If you do, I get to go back to Africa."

"Hell no!" Willow called. "You can't go back there. You're getting mean."

"I was mean before, Willow. You just spelled me to be harmless to you two." He shot her a glare. "I had that spell eaten." She pulled up magic. "Do you want to not make it to that battle in a few days?" She tried to shoot it at him and Xander blew a graze on her ankle. She shrieked and backed down, covering her head. "Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say about not being my mother." He put the gun back and looked at Giles. "I'm going back to my hotel. It's safer."

"I'll have a talk with her tonight while I baby that graze, Xander. Though you are in trouble for going there."

"Last night she tried to blow my car up again. In the middle of Death Valley." Giles glared at her. "That's not counting how much she's tried to screw up all my girls. She tried to tell the girls in Africa they can't be *real* slayers because they don't live up to Buffy's style. Hate to say it, but those girls can all survive and hunt more than demons." He shot a look at Buffy then at Giles again. "Night, all." He left, walking around the agents. He heard Willow crying but oh well. She'd try to get into his face in the morning. Probably while he was in the hotel's gym. He nodded at the guard on the hotel, who was Council. "Rosenburg," he said at the odd look he got. "And Summers."

"There's bets you know," the guard said happily.

"If someone bet I'd graze her ankle, they just won." He went up to his room and went to take a shower plus check his arm. He put on a pair of sweats when he got out and traipsed up to get ice then back to his room. He ran into Giles' second-in-command, who was staring at his arm. "Summers. I blew a nice graze onto Rosenburg's ankle for her shit of trying to strand me in Death Valley." He went back to his room.

The senior watcher nodded. "It's good he's not in Cleveland, though I do fear that we'd have many issues fixed if he were." He got some ice for his drink and went back to his own research for the night. It was calming to him. He heard Xander yelling at someone but not what it was about. Then he suddenly stopped and it was quiet again. He almost sent him some liquor but he knew the boy didn't really drink. He wasn't sure why not after eight years of knowing Summers and Rosenburg.


Buffy looked up as Xander showed up for the battle. "Xander, we don't need your help," she called.

"Bite me," he called back with a wave and a smile. "I'm here so I might as well help." He handed Giles an envelope. "Updated for the current reality. Redone last week officially."

"I'll put that into the safe," he assured him. "Are you fit?"

"Nope," Xander quipped but smiled at him. "Am I ever?" He went to find his spot with the slayers he worked well with. A few glared at him and he stared back. "Yay, Claire."

"Fine. Why are you here again?"

"Because you guys need higher weapons work and none of you even know how to fire a gun thanks to Buffy." He smirked. "If you're lucky I'll let you pet the artillery first."

She snorted but smiled. "No thanks. My boyfriend would get jealous."

"Did you manage to guard him from the Red Tide?"

"Yup. Thankfully. I was introducing him to Giles when she tried him." She popped her neck, letting him help her. "If I fall," she said quietly, looking up at him.

"I'll tell him if I can. Or make sure Giles does. He's arranged to block out most of the cameras so he won't see it that way." She nodded. "I give him a copy of my will before each major battle we know about beforehand. You can give him a letter for the boyfriend."

She smiled. "I might do that." She went to write one out quickly and handed it to him, getting a nod and a pat back. "For Brantley please, Giles."

"Of course, Claire. Do help Xander with the weapons today. Buffy bruised his arm rather badly."

"Great. Just what we need before a battle." She walked off shaking her head. "Brenda, Giles can hold a letter," she called after spotting her. Brenda looked over then ran over to write one for Giles to hold for her. "That's not a bad pre-battle ritual," she said at another girl's look. "I've got a serious boyfriend. That way he knows things." She stretched on her way back to her position in the battle line. She pulled Xander over, looking at the bandage on his arm. "You good?"

"Bruised. She punched me on it while I was talking to Colleen."

"How's that wedding going?"

"So far...she's had to duct tape three of the aunts and the mom but the wedding went off well enough. They're having the reception now and the moms are crying." He looked over the edge of his sunglasses at her. "Colleen said she's been danced with a lot and only two tried to grope."

"That's cool. Colleen could use the fun with your minis."

"Two first PMS events," he said dryly. "She's teaching them the ways of bigger slayers."

"Chocolate ice cream night, that's cool," she quipped, pulling her hair back as the crackling of magic stared to grow. "Guys, I can feel the magic," she called. Then she landed on her back thanks to Xander knocking her down. "What the hell?" She looked at herself. "Oh, hey, that's bad."

"I caught it before it did more than dent you. Medics are in the back, Claire, hit them." He pointed. "Giles, evacuate her," he called. "They're sending flying bullets that bite." People ran over to grab her but Xander hit one. "I *know* you're not with us today," he said dryly. "Drop the slayer before I drop you." The guy backed off, hands up and looking amused. "Giles, NID," he yelled. "Trying to steal Claire."

"Oh, bloody hell!" came from the back lines and Giles came up to get her and take her to safety while Xander beat the agent into nearly a puddle. Someone else could grab him so he wasn't a tripping hazard.

Buffy looked over. "Eww." She looked at Xander. "He's gross."

"Yes he is," he agreed. "That's why he's a crying mess. I'm going to feed you to these demons." He pointed at the building. The guy got helped up and off by his buddies. "All right, so we've had two incidences, who wants to bet on the third?"

"By order of the US...." started a female voice over a loudspeaker. Then she squeaked and shut up.

"Never mind," Xander quipped. "I guess we're ready now." And yup, the magic was gathering again. Then there was a portal opening. Xander opened the first few weapons, pausing until things came through. Then he fired on the portal. First one just damaged it. Second made the portal and casters scream. Third made it go up with half the building around it. "Oh, hey, a chaos magic built portal with sacrifices." A few slayers looked at him. "We figured out that certain types of weapons only work on certain types of portals." They just nodded and took on the rest of the demons. Xander moved up to help.


At the end, Xander looked around at the slayers on the ground. "Fuck," he growled. Giles stopped him but he shook free of his hand and went to check on them. "She's alive," he called. Medics showed up with military people. Xander stared at one. "Why do I not trust you?" he asked dryly.

"We can talk later, Mr. Harris. The SecDef said to come help and guard your girls."

Xander nodded, frowning at them. "They get more hurt or someone takes samples and I'm going to have a talk with you and him. Understood?" The medic nodded and more of the local paramedics showed up. Xander pointed the locals at the local team. They were more used to their battles. Two demon healers showed up and they took the remains of the demons to be dealt with and the locals that had helped with the battle went to get healed.

"Xander, are you the Godfather of the Council?" Buffy demanded, hand on her hip with the other one limp beside her because of her shoulder injury.

"Yup, it's what kept your ass safe for years," he shot back, walking off to help lift one of the girls. "She's got a twin sister but her twin's got a broken pelvis," he said quietly. "I'd expect her to show up or call and nag."

"That's fine," the paramedic agreed. "We've seen her twin." He grinned slightly. "Thanks for the help."

"I'm Xander," he said with a slight grin. "I was in Sunnydale."

"Thanks for the service, sir." He hefted the slayer to a gurney and took her off to the local hospital. All the slayers were being triaged there.

Xander ran a hand through his hair, looking around. "Fuck," he muttered, walking over to one. "Oh, Brenda." He checked, she was gone. He squatted down to say a prayer over her and close her eyes. He laid a hand on her stomach and said one for that one too. Giles cleared his throat. "She shouldn't have been here. She just found out she's expecting last night."

"I understand. Are you doing shaman duty for the others?"

Xander looked up. "How many others did we lose?" he asked quietly, standing up.

"Two more. So far."

Xander nodded, going to the ER to help them. He said prayers over those two bodies and nearly cried at one of them. She was young, way too young to have been there. "When did you get here, Stiva?" he said quietly. "You should have been safely at home."

"She insisted," Buffy said from her bed. "I yelled at her when she showed up."

Xander nodded, frowning at her sheet covered body. Then he looked at her. "How many others shouldn't have been here?"

"At least two others that're barely patrol cleared," she said with a point.

Xander looked and sighed. "And Brenda." Buffy winced. He nodded. "I already did her prayers." He walked over to stare at the two younger slayers, glaring at them when they whined. "You're. Too. Damn. Young." They shrank down. "We don't want to have to hold an honoring you bonfire, Stella and Marcy. Do we?" They shook their heads, looking down. "You're too damn young for apocalypse battles. You're barely patrol cleared! Let yourselves grow up first. Then jump into the serious, dangerous shit!" They nodded, looking at their hands. "You two have to tell your own parents. I'm not getting between you two and neither is Giles or Buffy."

"I told mine," Stella said, looking up. "She's mad."

"Ya think? You're seventeen!" he complained, staring at her. "You've got a ton of life ahead of you if you don't die here. Go have a life. Date some bad boys or girls. Go to college. Find out what life is really like, then jump into the dangerous, seriously bad battles. Okay?" They nodded, looking down again. He hugged them both. "Serious injuries?"

"Mostly bruises and a few scrapes," Marcy said quietly, looking at her hands. "Broken finger."

Xander looked and got the necessary things to treat their injuries. "You're going to become a teaching lesson for my minis." They pouted but nodded they understood.

Buffy looked at the other girls. "He's good with the minis," she told one, who nodded. "That'd make me run and hide too."

Faith looked over from her bed. "Ya think?" She looked over at them. "Hey, X?" He looked over at her. "Can you come straighten out my arm?"

"Yeah, two more, Faith." He finished up and straightened the broken finger so it could be casted. Then he hugged both girls before going to help Faith put her arm back into place. He checked. "Just dislocated."

"I think so. Did it the first time about two weeks ago thanks to something stupid in a bar."

He grinned. "I've done that myself. It was not fun. They tried both arms. I warned them I'd have to tell a boyfriend to come take care of me." He checked the arm then moved it suddenly, making her yelp and grab onto the bed but it was back into place. A nurse came rushing over. "I'm a post-battle medic for us," he told her. "She could use a sling. This is the second incident of her shoulder and elbow being pulled out of joint. They're back in. Can she have an ice pack?" The nurse scowled at him. He stared back. "We've all had worse and had to treat it, ma'am. Please? She could use a sling and some ice?" She stomped off to get it and the doctors came to check the rest of the slayers over before that one got to them.

One of the doctors pulled Xander over. "How did you learn?"

"The redhead's mother's textbooks. She was never there so we learned how to read them and do what was necessary for injuries." He shrugged and winced. "Just a bruise, Doc. I'm good."

"I'm a full doctor, that's my judgement call. Who are you?"

"Xander Harris. One of the trainers for the mini slayers. I'm the guy who runs the normal house for the orphans so they get family stuff and aren't forced into training before they're old enough."

"That's good of you."

"I grew up with the redhead and helped Buffy after that." He head nodded at her. "I'm also a fully trained shaman."

"Understood. Have you said the prayers or whatever?"

"Over our lost. They have guides to their afterlives."

The doctor nodded and checked his arm. "It's broken."

"It was only bruised when the quick care place scanned it yesterday."

"It's broken now. I can feel sharp edges." He got the portable x-ray over to take two pictures and let them move to the next patient. "Not a bad break," he said when they showed up in the system. "Pain killers?"

Xander frowned, shaking his head. "Never touch the stuff. Not my thing. Not even when they popped my eye." The doctor looked at his eyes then groaned. Xander grinned. "I'm just like that, Doc. Thanks though."

"Uh-huh." He got his arm wrapped better and checked for other injuries. A few cuts that needed stitches and he was done. "All right, take your healthy ones home. A few are staying."

"Some of us are staying to guard them," Xander quipped. "Before someone tries to snatch them for experiments again." He looked at the empty bed, pointing at it then looking at Faith, who pointed behind her. "Bathroom's fine. Those who're healthy can probably go to the hotel," he called. "This doc said that's fine." Most of the girls got to leave with Faith riding herd. Xander and Buffy stayed with the ones who had to be admitted to protect them. The doctors talked about it but Giles stepped in with their doctor at home, who told them what they needed to know to quit wanting samples from the slayers to figure them out. They got taken home the next day via the coven. Xander got to run away and hide again while Buffy pouted as she followed the girls back to their infirmary.


Xander looked up from sitting on his hood in the desert, rolling his eyes as the officer stopped next to his car. "I'm meditating," he said firmly. "Not out here to meet someone or bury someone."

"Sir, are you a local?" the officer asked patiently.

Xander stared at him over the top of his sunglasses. "I'm the head of the local slayer house, Officer. We just had a battle two days ago." The officer nodded once and stepped back. "Right now I'm meditating on the three slayers we lost at the battle and the possibility that I'll have to get my minis through a remembrance for at least another four of their sister slayers. Plus we're about to have a battle from Africa 'ported up here so it can be handled and not take out a country." He gave him another look. "That should be closer to the house though."

"I wasn't aware Las Vegas had a slayer in residence."

"You don't have an adult one. You have the orphans because this was considered a safer place." He shot him another look. "Now and then one of the older girls will come in to talk to the minis and make them do girlish things I'll never understand. Over the last week we've had one senior girl in to help with first time periods."

"I'm glad I don't have any daughters, sir. A few people reported you sitting out here by yourself."

"Yeah, well, I've got nine girls in my house under the age of fourteen."

"Understood, sir. Be safe." He got into his car, calling in that report before going on with his shift.

Xander went back to thinking about things. This wouldn't be his minis' first remembrance and honoring ceremony but it seemed to freak out most of them. He had to make sure they understood that all lives were equally honored, even if they didn't go on patrol. He finally got off his hood and went to make an ice cream run on the way home. The girls had eaten it all he was sure, and he could use some himself. He parked and walked in with the bags, letting the girls take them from him with a grin for them. He took one of the ice cream sandwiches before they got inhaled but that was about usual around the girls.

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