you guys thought the muses were playing?
Before all the insanity started:
Xander looked at his twin, who was not his twin now. Tara had accidentally made a wish. A nice one, accidentally; she hadn't realized she was making a WISH, just voicing a hope that the twin would be a comforting presence for others the way Xander could be to her. Which...sure. Of course, somehow that meant his twin had turned into a very womanly woman. One built on guy's ideal woman shape with bigger breasts and nice hips and a pretty figure, flowing dark hair, and still a nerd. But a cute nerd with glasses. They were still staring at each other and then sighed.
"So," she said, looking at the others then at Tara. "Wow."
"Oops?" she asked with a wince.
"It happens around magic and the hellmouth," she said, giving her a hug. "I really should figure out how to shield the magic."
Xander nodded once. "Could help, yup." He winced. "Are you going to be safe around here?"
"No idea," she admitted. "But let's figure that out." The others all nodded at that idea. Was she safe there? Nope, no one was. Even Xander wasn't. No, they had to make some quick decisions. Including how to get Xandra Harris her actual new name and paperwork. And if she wasn't going to keep that name, to make her a new one of her own so she had her own identity to start growing into.
She got to watch Willow hack into various things to start her as a real, live person and learned a lot from it. Xander had always been a hands-on learner instead of learning from a book. It helped that Willow did a knowledge transfer spell for her so she had skills ready to go when she left the town.
Because demons were even more interested in her since she was felt to be an innocent being. She really had to fix that soon. Of course, the group was attacked by Glorificus' minions so Xandra had to hide a lot. They found out that the thing Glory was looking for was split into her and Dawn from that attack.
Great! Even more reason not to have her in Sunnydale.
Xander looked at his twin outside the town, where she was marginally safer. Minions didn't want to go ten miles to find an artifact, much less a hundred miles. Or the other side of the country. He stared at her. "So, writing?"
"Of course. I'm pretty sure I'll have some free time at Culver." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "It'll be fine."
"I'm sure it will be but let me keep track?"
"Of course." She punched him on the arm. "You'll be okay out here?"
"I damn sure hope so."
She grinned. "Good!" She smirked. "What do you think of the name Darcy?"
"It doesn't sound anything like Xander so probably safer."
"I was thinking Darcy Alexandra Harris-something normal and unremarkable."
"Like Smith or Jones or Lewis?"
"Lewis would work best," she said, tasting all the names. "Yup, that's it." She gave him a hug. "I'll be safe. You'll be safe. We'll meet up now and then to gossip and so you can get away from Willow," she said in his ear. He nodded with a smirk. "Good boy." She patted him on the cheek. "This girl stuff takes some getting used to."
"It would for me too." He looked down at himself then at her. "Tara was really thinking like a guy." She swatted him hard on the arm but grinned. "Have some fun with that?"
"Of course I will! Not like you haven't had some fun before."
"True." He grinned. She smirked back. "Muddle their minds like only a Xander can."
"That is fun...." She winked and got into the car he had gotten her to drive off. It was junky but it'd get her to Virginia. Where she'd start college in a few weeks. Willow had hacked her an acceptance and spot there. She'd figure out what she was majoring in on her way to her first semester.
The ladies had helped her outfit herself so she looked like a woman instead of a female Xander. Buffy had pouted that she had bigger breasts and looked fantastic with them but that's what tiny titted women did when they were jealous of the girls being so massive.
Xander went back to town, shaking his head. His 'sister' would do just fine. The comforting part of the wish...they'd see how that came out. He'd be creeped out if she had kids. Or if they somehow ended up sharing lovers.
The Inn At The End of the Universe.
Darcy glared at the agent in front of her. "You have no right or reason to take my iPod, you thief."
"It held data."
"It'd still better hold data since it was given to me by someone important in my life. Including precious indie tracks." The agent smirked. She wanted to hit him so badly. It'd send the wrong message. "Fine, I'll just sue you."
"You can't do that."
"Like hell I can't."
"We're an agency and that would definitely mean your little music box disappears."
She smirked. Then she summoned it. "Really?" He tried to snatch it but she didn't let him because she froze him in place. "Well, look at that. And I'm still suing you guys." She walked off.
"We'll be making you sign an NDA," another agent said, trying for the iPod.
She flipped him the middle finger with a grin. "I won't sign a damn thing and if you lock me up, well, someone's going to hear and become a *huge* problem for you guys." She shrugged but smiled. "Pity." She strolled off again. That agent tried to grab her but yelped in pain because the guy behind him had just hit him, hard, with the side of a sword. She smiled at him. "Aren't you out there hunting?"
"Not this me. I'm not from around here, Princess." He winked. "But let's see what I can do." He stared at an agent. "Interesting." His sword changed to a scythe, making the agent back up slowly. "Awwww." He spotted a few people and nodded once. "That figures." He summoned some things and grinned at her. "I've missed you. You haven't showed up at the bar in a few months in my time."
"Why do you have a scythe?"
"I won it in a poker game." He grinned. "I've got it for a week." He waved it and things appeared. Marks on the bad agents' bodies. Energy linked the marks to them. It also summoned some stuff from his garden. The leafy beings loved the energy in those marks. All the baby krakens he was guarding were happy with those marks. And the new friends they were making. He spotted two agents he wanted to talk to because they could stop things. He noticed he had marked one. He summoned a special kraken to play with that guy.
"Why are you feeling up my biceps?" he demanded. "Do you think I'm cute or something?" He was trying to get away but the plant was wrapped around his legs by now too. He was not getting away without a large fire that would burn him too or an explosion to blow them both up.
"Yes, she does," Xander said, then blew a kiss and let the kraken have him for real. "Learn from her and then fix your own shit, dude." He stared at the other one. "Delores misses you." He summoned that ancient kraken to handle that one and show him why. "Learn from her so you know what you and the other dude have to stop." He grinned and waved.
"Delores really does adore you, archer dude." He hugged his 'twin' and walked her off chatting. The lone agent left untouched, a senior agent, was wincing as he tried to get his agents free of the plants. Xander stared at him. "You might wanna help them, dude. Before your whole agency dies from HYDRA."
He grinned and shrugged again. "Pity but you're all thugs and assholes anyway. I speak from experience and laughed my ass off when they collapsed your group of morons." He walked his 'twin' off again to hang out. He wanted to know what she'd been up to, and if he could spread some info her way from the future he had been in.
She scooped up a lonely looking kraken to cuddle. "Hey, Mortimer. Are you a good boy today?" she cooed. The kraken hugged her chest before wiggling to plant himself in her bra and cuddle that way. He didn't really like the desert sun. Darcy being sweaty helped him not dry out and she did give great cuddles. "I'm so happy you emigrated to this realm, baby boy. I know you'd miss Dawn but it'll be okay. We love you."
Xander patted the tentacles sticking out. "He loves you too." They waved and cuddled again. Some of the agents were getting very...loud with their petting buddies. The local officers were showing up to complain but oh well. They couldn't get the kraken off without them being adopted too. They learned after the first one got sucked into Delores with the archer guy. He got spit out after a few seconds but her spit on him made the others show up to pet him even more.
"Will this harm them?" the agent demanded.
"Nope." He grinned and waved. "The stuff they drip is nutritious. It'll keep them healthy for days." He smirked. "If you're the evil in the universe, someone like me has to show up and handle it." He waved the scythe and the agent wandered off looking confused. He went with Darcy back to the car dealership/lab building, grinning at them. "You should introduce her to the HM's."
"I should but it's not exactly her field." She flopped down, pulling out the tiny kraken to pet. Her boss, Jane, looked at it then at Xander. Who grinned. "This is my twin, Jane."
"Hey, Jane. I'm Xander." He grinned. "Not from around here though. I'm traveling." He looked at Darcy, then went out to see who had just appeared. He had spotted the flash of magic. The blond young man was staring at the group of people being...teased by the krakens. Then he was shaking his head with a sigh. Xander took a kiss, earning a smile for it. "They're a bit evil. It's suitable and the krakens did need more playmates."
"I'm sure they're enjoying their play dates," he said in a British accent. "Though I do not want to know how many Delores has inside her strands."
"Only one but she missed him. She came from the inn so knew him from back during this time." He grinned. "Darcy's inside."
"Your twin of unnatural origins? Sure." He walked that way, nodding at the two women and one older man. "Hello."
Darcy grinned. "Xander wrote me about you, Draco." She got up to hug him then sat back down to pet Mortimer. "Mortimer missed Dawn but I'm the next best thing." He swatted her with a few tentacles so she hummed and he calmed back down. "Fine, I won't say bad things about myself." The kraken settled in to cuddle again. Jane was staring at her and so was Eric. She grinned at them. "Xander's got a really unique job."
Xander nodded. "And the me in this time zone is seriously going to be upset in a few days. I'm kind of hoping I can avoid him having the eye loss. Regrowing it sucked." He looked at Draco, who was staring outside. Xander used the scythe to summon more special things to handle the new group of agents. They all fell down to play with the krakens and the new creatures. He strolled out there. "Let's see how that goes...." He looked back at Draco. "Can you do an honesty charm?"
"Of course." He did that and put his wand back into his jacket pocket. He smiled. "There."
"Thanks, Draco!" He cast at them. "Hail, HYDRA," he called loudly, startling the head agent. Most of the agents yelled it back. He waved the scythe. "Yours I assume?" he asked dryly.
"Not if I have my way." He looked around. "Who are you and why pick those two specifically?"
Xander grinned. "I'm her twin. Not from around now though. Seeing HYDRA take down all those agencies that gave me so many damn problems was happy making though." He leaned on the scythe. "It meant they quit trying to violate the slayers I was working with to fight each other." He waved a hand.
"As for those two...yeah, they have their reasons. One's involved, you heard him sound off. The other's a good person to help stop it." He smirked. "Have fun with that. I'm going to catch up with my twin and get her boss's stuff back. After all, it's rather important when Asgard comes to visit in a few years in the middle of London." He strolled off.
Draco looked at him. "Is that scythe special?"
"Yup. Won it in a poker game for a week." He grinned. "You know I do the wacky and weird all the time, Draco."
"Yes, I do. It can drive one nuts, Xander." He walked inside with him, shaking his head. "Well, that'll be charming."
Xander nudged him with an elbow. "HYDRA is the ones who broke open the wizarding world to the press. They couldn't control them so they wanted them eliminated."
"Oh, *them*," he said then sneered. "Well, pity about them." He put his cloak around Darcy's shoulders. "You're shivering, dear."
"The evil is making me remember Sunnydale." Draco grinned and chuckled lightly. "You're...seriously wicked, Draco."
"Thank you, Darcy." He smirked. "I think that's why I like your twin."
She stood up to kiss him, making him moan. "You're an adult, right?"
"Excellent." She handed Mortimer to Jane as she dragged Draco to her room in the trailer. "We'll see you at breakfast, Jane."
"Okay," Jane said, petting Mortimer. She looked down. "You're a bit weird."
"He's a baby kraken," Xander quipped with a grin for her. Thor stomped in and he nodded at him. Then he slugged him in the jaw. "That's for Algernon." Thor blushed, staring at him. Xander smirked. "Darcy's my twin."
"I felt weird things around her," he said with a nod. "I suppose that comes from you."
"Yes it did." He looked smug. "So let's fix your shit so your brother doesn't fall, we don't have an invasion of New York, he won't be tortured, and we won't face Thanos. All right?"
"I...are you a seer and is your sister the same?" He looked around. "Where is she?"
"With Draco getting snuggly time. She about broke him of the snotty attitude the first time and made him learn how to be a real man instead of a whiny daddy shadow." He gave Thor a pointed look. Thor shrank backward. "Good." He looked out there and summoned a few more kraken because people were getting free. They all squealed at the new playmates. They hardly ever got to play with anyone these days.
Though Delores still had her favorite snuggly stuffed friend the archer in her tentacles. She could show him all sorts of reasons to go free his people from the problems. And maybe give her babies some new friends to play with. The other one, he was still trying to get free. He was complaining loudly that he wasn't 'like that' and then he'd moan when the kraken proved him wrong.
Xander was standing there when both chosen ones got released. Clint patted the nearest tentacle. "Thanks, Delores. You protected me very well." He ignored that he was dripping with tentacle snot.
The other guy, Rumlow, was also covered in snot but not happy. He stared at Xander. "Did you have to do that?"
"Yeah. Because if you two don't end it, I'll have to. It'll upset the twin." He grinned. "Better you than me, dude. I lived through it once." He looked at Clint, who quit petting a tentacle to look at him. "Have some fun?"
"Yes, I think I will. Where's Coulson?"
"Senior Agent Walking Corpse? Somewhere around here being sulky that none of the kraken picked him?"
"That says something." He walked off. "Let me go handle a few things. Starting with Ward."
"I'll start with Pierce. I can get closer," Rumlow said, looking at Xander. "Are you really for real?"
"Yeah and the me in this time is really fun." He grinned. "You guys fix your shit so that me doesn't have to. I can go teach him how but others would get really mad about that."
"Yeah, whatever." He walked off slinging the slime off him. "I need six or seven showers."
Xander nearly added insult to injury by noting at least the kraken had lube for him, unlike being fucked by SHIELD or HYDRA. But he didn't. He didn't want to irritate him. He sent those two krakens to play in other areas and let the ones done with the agents go back to the garden to rest. They had a few days of fun already.
The one that had Rumlow was now in Faith's jail, enjoying her cellmates. Delores was happily reshelving Giles' books while he was drunk. It'd definitely scare the older man to sobriety again. Xander felt the pull from the scythe and went to grab it. He got brought to where the guy was, which was dark. He looked up then at him. "Hey."
The man stared at him. "It figures you'd come for me yourself."
"Not exactly." He felt, feeling a soul inside. "Dude, I'm not here for you tonight. I'm here to make sure you don't." The man flinched. "Are there children inside there? Do they deserve to find your cooling body?" he demanded quietly, staring at him. "Is that what you think being a father is?"
"Then you have a *duty*. An absolute duty. To get those kids to safety so they don't have to have your dead body on their mind for their whole lives. No kid deserves that. No kid should ever find their parent's body. So no, you're not going to make it until they're safely out of seeing you self destruct. If that's tomorrow, fine. If that's when they're adults, even better. You probably have things to teach them as they age. No one can do what you can so I'm assuming you can teach them things."
"It's ...I can't do this."
"Dude, I fought many battles. Including the one you're fighting." He leaned down, staring at him. "If they were dogs, would you leave them unprotected?"
"No," he said quietly. "They can protect themselves."
"No they can't. They're kids. They can't keep creeps off them, and the system is full of creeps who'd love orphans." The guy heaved. "Is that what you want to happen to them? If so then go ahead. If not, then you can keep fighting for a while longer. Even get some help."
"There's no help. I killed their mother."
Xander nodded. "I've stopped whole invasions and seen whole militaries not manage to help enough to save themselves. I've seen schools eaten by things and didn't get there in time to save a single kid." The guy heaved a second time. "Even if you meant to kill her, doing this means that you're sentencing them to a horrible life and possibly death in the system. Is that what you want?"
"No," he said, staring at him. "I can't do that to them."
"Then you got some time yet. I suggest you use it." He stepped back. "I'm the sub for a week but I can't gather you." He slumped but nodded. "If the big guy in charge debates that hopefully you'll have used the days wisely."
"I can do that. Thank you."
"Welcome." He waved the scythe and left, heading back to the town where Darcy was hiding. He ran into the scythe's holder. "I don't care if you're mad. His kids didn't deserve to find his dead body."
"No, they did not. They would not be the first."
Xander nodded. "I realize that. It still sucks for the kids. They both had slight timers if he had died. Within weeks."
"That's something I may have done. I have lost that sense of fixing things."
"Is that why you let me win?"
"I needed a vacation, a true vacation."
Xander grinned. "I understand that very well." He handed back the scythe. "I think that's yours."
"It's yours for another few days. He will not go by his own hand but he will make plans for those children. Perhaps they will show compassion and help others."
"That's the only ones who can. Someone who doesn't understand just doesn't...understand."
"True." He patted him on the cheek. "It is good you still feel empathy."
"I hope I always do."
"No mortal is perfect or everlasting."
Xander grinned. "Am I a mortal?"
"In certain circumstances every being is." He grinned and disappeared.
Xander went back inside. Draco found him and pulled him into his arms to hold. "Some guy was going to commit suicide with his kids in the house," he said quietly. "I can't let that happen."
"No, you can't." He walked Xander outside, taking him to walk in the moonlight. He ended up doing the preparation spells and stripped them off in the moonlight. He kept them standing, he was at a good height against Xander's own, and slid into him easily while holding him. It was gentle tonight. Xander was a source of comfort but sometimes he needed it. Even if Draco getting off did start a rain storm. Xander leaned back against his chest, letting the rain hit them both for now.
Darcy came out to cuddle them both once they were done. She was a being of comfort as well. They had made Draco help them with that but he was only a part-timer.
Giles offered the rather large kraken petting his antique couch a tea cup. "Want some tea, dear?" He was now fully sober, and Delores had drank all his scotch on him, then petted him while he slept it off. It was not the way he wanted to rest, or have a hangover, but she was rather nice to him about it at least. She hadn't tried to molest him, eat him, or smother him. "It's rather nice that you're sweeter than the one in the hellmouth, Dear." She petted him again and sucked down all the tea with a few tentacles. "Let me make us both some more." He did that, but she was nice enough to leave him a cup this time.
Buffy slammed in, stopping to stare at the plant. "Where did that come from?"
"She showed me a nice looking ancient inn from the Middle Ages apparently. I have no idea why she's visiting, but she's been rather a nice companion to me for a few hours." He sipped his tea. "She showed me her name was Delores."
Buffy stared. "How...."
"It was printed on a sign and she showed me a picture of it. They can apparently pass over messages by touching you."
Xander strolled in. He stared then scratched the sweet spot where the tentacles joined. "Hey, Sweetie. Are you the one in our hellmouth or another kraken?"
"Another. I checked that first thing." He blinked a few times. "How do you know where to pet them?"
"When we were rebuilding the school, we had a lot of tentacles coming up. The guys got real fond of letting it hold tools and even playing fetch with it. Not sure if it's a boy or a girl kraken," he told Delores. "But it seemed very nice and a bit lonely." She made a breezy hum of noise as she cuddled him. "Aww, that's sweet, dear."
"She showed Giles her name is Delores."
"Awww, you might be the one in Cleveland?" She gave him a squeeze. "Such a good girl, Delores." He went back to petting her. Willow came in and squeaked then ran the other direction. "Hmm." He looked at Buffy, who went to see why that had happened. He grinned at Giles. "She showed me Darcy."
"Your twin?" he demanded.
"Yeah, and a wizard there too. So apparently she wanted it safer since she's got agents there annoying her. I checked earlier and she was being nagged by an agent sounding person. Something about a hammer and SHIELD."
"So she probably sent Delores here to guard her from the agents. Either that or she decided you were drinking too much."
"She did nicely drink all my liquor for me so I'm sober for a good, long while." He finished his tea. Xander grinned at that. "No work today?"
"Anya wanted me to come help Buffy with whatever made her panic."
"I was in the shower." He looked around. "I guess she thinks Delores is into hentai things." Delores made that same breezy, humming noise so he gave her a new pet. "I know, you have much better taste than Buffy or Willow. Most thinking people do. That's why she dates vampires." Giles moaned, going to make himself something subtle to eat to calm his stomach down. He handed Xander a piece of toast to eat. If he was chewing he couldn't give him a greater headache.
By the next morning, the whole SHIELD base was empty. It was still there but empty. All the agents had been recalled. They snuck in to help Thor get his hammer but Thor still could not lift his hammer.
Darcy hit Thor on the arm, staring at him. He was sulking and Darcy wanted to hit him better than on the arm but it wasn't time yet. "If the myths are true, then you have to be *worthy*, Thor. Are you worthy of being a king?"
"You're still not listening!" she shouted back while pacing. "Kings consider more than their own needs if they're good. They listen to the people, they help and protect their people. You just said when you get it back you have a pointless battle to get back to. Is that what a *king* does?"
He stared at her. "You do not understand."
"Bullshit. I've seen more than one king, Thor, and even bad ones aren't selfish assholes." She walked around him to lift the hammer then put it back down. "Real kings and queens care more about their people than their own comfort. Or their own wants." He huffed but still couldn't lift it. "Maybe you should meditate on what it means to be worthy to be a king."
Draco was shaking his head. "Many do not see the duty, only the benefits."
"Yeah, but he was raised to do the duty."
"They still never see it. That's why heros get created. To make up for the failings of those in power."
She hugged him. "I get that." He smiled as he petted her. She looked up. "I'm frustrated."
"I can help with that as I'm still here."
She grinned. "Yes you damn well can!" She walked him off again. "We're going to have some fun. Though I'll find a shady spot so you don't burn in the sun."
"That would be nice, thank you," he said dryly. Darcy grinned at him but it was cool between them.
Jane looked at Thor. "She's right. A real ruler of the people should care more about the people's needs than his own wants or pride."
Xander faded into view. "It may come back if you self-sacrifice but is that really *worthy*?" He stared at him then summoned the hammer before dropping it onto the ground. "Worthy means that you've got a duty that comes before your own happiness, Thor. Did you not see that?"
"My father would not care and it finds me worthy for his seat."
"Your father's a warrior and a heartless asshole who conquered people who just existed. Some just in his way, Thor. Odin is no hero, no good king, and not good for his people. If you want to follow Odin into bad kingly behavior, the sort that just parties and lets his people suffer, then by all means do a self sacrifice and then it'll come back to you.
"If you want to be a true *king*, a worthy king, then you've got to learn that the duty comes before your own wants. It sure as hell does when you're a real warrior in a real war." Thor yelled and attacked him but Xander fought him off. He sighed.
"Some of us became warriors younger than we should have, and did it because it was the right thing to do." Xander hit him again. "Some of you just show up to flick your hair back and be a figurehead with a hammer for show. Real warriors grieve each injury and each loss. Have you? Have you ever?"
"I do not lose people."
"Bullshit. There's no war that hasn't had casualties. No warrior would ever ignore it either." Thor glared. Xander stared at him. "Maybe you should learn how to be a true warrior, just a simple grunt in an army. Your princeliness is clouding your worthiness." He walked off. Thor tried to attack him but Xander mostly kicked him around. Xander got injured but Thor was injured.
Thor panted, looking up at him. "I should be worthy."
"That's a choice you make," Xander said dryly. "Completely. If you want to be worthy then make yourself worthy." He limped off looking casual. He had perfected that over the years.
Thor made himself get up and tried the hammer again then patted it. "I will think on that," he told Jane. Who nodded. She helped him back to the lab building and let him clean up and think about that on the roof. She considered that information then went to ask Darcy about Xander. Of course, Darcy was missing with Draco in the desert but she'd talk to her later.
Xander dropped Draco off back in the wizarding world then went to hand the scythe back. Back in the desert, Darcy was creating chaos. A lot of fun chaos. There was music and demons dancing in the sunlight, and the last few krakens having fun with the people. Jane was a bit creeped out but that happened. Thor was amused but confused.
Both of them thought Xander had left it when he left. When SHIELD agents showed up again, they were not amused. The kraken got all new special friends while Darcy got happy watching them have some fun. Jane went inside at that, she did not want to see more of that.
The same senior agent walked up behind her. "Will the kraken hurt them?"
"Nah. Their tentacle stuff is nutritious and life sustaining." She smirked at him. "They can keep them alive with just that for over a week, depending on how old they are." She looked at the happiness again. "I can't think of a better thing for evil douchebags of the universe to deal with." She stood up and dusted herself off then smiled at him. "I hope you all have fun with what you've started." She strolled off. The agent shuddered, going to free his people again. This time he had to free himself too.
Her name was definitely going on a list of people to be careful of.
Older Xander, back in his own time and in the inn he ran, looked around. He dusted off the bar area and opened the front doors. Not that they were locked. Anyone who got here could get in just by opening the door. If they didn't need or want to be here, they didn't get near it. The inn wasn't exactly a nexus point but Xander had been blessed to be a comforting being, one whose presence brought peace.
After years of battles, he realized that's what he himself needed and he'd find it from the ones he helped. He had decided to take over this inn instead of setting up a house or a set of safehouses for people like him to find. A bar was sometimes the comfort you needed, he understood why. Even if he didn't like drunks.
Right now he was feeling the urge for music so turned on the radio he had set up to work. It got radio stations from his Sirius system in his original realm. He sniffed and made coffee because something was telling him he might need something strong to drink.
He noticed a certain lute had appeared in a chair and nodded, getting a few other things out. That guy usually needed a good meal when he got there. When the door opened, Xander stared for a minute then changed the station to a country station that played classic, sad country music. He looked like he needed the sad music.
"Thank you. That noise was very...strong." He sat down with a sigh. Xander leaned over to give him a hug. "Things are wrong."
"Things are always wrong. You deal with it all the time," Xander reminded him. He got him some stew and coffee, getting a smile for that and the cookie laid beside his bowl. Xander let him eat while he fussed at things. "You're lucky I'm back. I was visiting the twin and causing some chaos since she had people annoying her about being there.
"The garden got to play with a whole lot of annoying assholes who think they're in charge." The bard choked but was laughing. He grinned. "It's cool though. Delores got to reignite her playtime with an older friend. The others got to play with idiots who think they're special."
The bard smiled at that. "You always make me feel better."
"Of course I do. It's what I do."
"You and your sister are very special." He settled in to eat and drink and relax finally. It had been a long, bad week for him. Xander gave him seconds and some bread he had pulled out of the freezer to warm up, then went to dust the other areas of the bar. The rooms upstairs were always ready for people who needed it. This one, he often fell asleep in the bar area itself listening to the minor noise they had in there.
"Are there actually dragons out there?" the bard asked later that night, after a food induced nap.
"Yeah. Maybe not in your realm though. I've seen actual dragons, dragon shape changers, dragon blooded mages." He grinned. "Nearly got petted by all three."
The bard stared at him. "You'd sleep with a real dragon?"
"It didn't want sex. It wanted to cuddle. It was lonely and wanted to cuddle in the nest with something nice and comforting." He shrugged. "I can cuddle with the best of them."
"Yes you can, only beaten by your sister." He sipped some ale. "Did you learn anything from the dragon mage?"
"Not really. He wasn't sharing information. That one wanted sex." He smirked. "He thought I was hot."
"So evil then," the bard decided with a nod and another drink. He was smiling though. "Am I the only one you've slept with that wasn't evil?"
"You make public perception so that's evil under the right circumstances, dear."
"True, I can be popular." He finished that ale and leaned back, resting beside the fireplace he had started a fire in. "If I brought him here, he'd probably complain about the garden of oddities and tentacles."
"He might like them." He grinned. "There's some great specimens out there."
The bard stared at him. "He'd hate it, it might try to pet him. He's only into his horse and a certain sorceress."
"Those sort tend to not like me too much. Maybe I freak them out out with energy taint I carry." He shrugged then tried to look angelic. "I'm such a good boy too."
The bard snickered. "Yes, you do try, Xander." He got the lute that usually was waiting around there and strummed aimlessly while he thought. "I need a new song."
"I can do that sometime." He considered things while strumming and staring into the fire. He had ideas but no idea the music that went with it yet. Though he didn't want to roast anyone. A song came on that caught his attention. "What's that?"
"The Macarena is a wedding reception song. Usually it's tailored a bit to fit the new couple but this just became a thing that Americans dance to at weddings." He grinned.
The bard listened. "A tailored song would be more for high born people. But that sounds fun." Xander pulled him up and taught him the dance that went with it, making him laugh at the silly moves. "I can see why they do that at wedding parties." He got more ale and sat down to think about that idea. Xander really did give good ideas sometimes but that would be hard to accomplish and make popular.
"Some popular things were meant for the higher born to enjoy and some for the more common masses," Xander said as he started a new pot of soup to cook overnight.
"True." That gave him better ideas. There were a few upcoming higher born weddings in the spring. He could craft a song to gift to them.
Xander looked toward the doorway. "You've got a visitor that followed you."
"Is it him or her?" he asked absently.
"A female of some kind. Or maybe two." The bard looked at the door as it opened, nodding at them. He went back to thinking to the fireplace.
"What is this place?" the younger woman asked.
"It's safe and a comforting shelter," Xander told her. He looked at the sorceress. "Don't freak out at the energy here. Too many do and then I have to deal with ranting or fainting witches." He sighed in displeasure. "Or the redheaded demon of temper."
Behind him the music changed to a song called Jolene. He looked at the radio then sighed. "And she's still magicked the radio." He sighed, going back to starting his soup. "Need food, ladies? I'm starting some new soup but there's chicken chowder from earlier leftover in the cold box."
"May I?" the younger one asked so Xander got her the pot and a clean bowl and spoon, earning a smile. "Thank you."
"Welcome, kiddo." He looked at the staring sorceress. He grinned. "What?"
"What are you?"
"I was born on a power point."
"Oh." She nodded, looking displeased. She looked at the bard, who grinned at that look. "What are you doing here?"
"I spend time here often. It lets me rest and think in quiet, and recover many times."
"If you have to go to a wedding for your father, go as his son then turn into yourself to serenade the guests if you're gifting a song," Xander said.
The bard looked at him. "They'd realize."
"Would they? Do you look like a bard when you're in formal clothes?"
"Well, no. And I'm not wearing the hat. If I can come up with one that's not a bad idea. Thanks, Xander."
"Welcome." He went back to chopping vegetables. The young one was staring at him. He grinned. "I grew up helping someone who fought nasty monsters."
"No, in my world they're not that way. There's specially ordained female warriors, chosen at birth and called when the one before them died." She winced at that. "Yeah, and she was kind of a *winning* personality at times," he said dryly. "So this was my comfort and safety after I retired before I blew her up. Or maybe the world by losing the next invasion. I hate those things."
He sighed. "Demons suck, kiddo. If you ever run into one, remember that they're often tricky and have particular ways to die." He looked at her. "And sometimes they're actually helpful. Though they do cheat at poker when they can. I have two that owe me bl...sexual favors due to catching them cheating."
"That does not surprise me any," the bard complained quietly. "How many does your twin sister have?"
"Probably six or seven. She never uses hers." He shook his head. "Lucky girl. She's just got to deal with beings who think they're a God but they need humility and sense."
"How bad can he be?" the girl asked.
Xander flicked back some imaginary hair. "I'm a mighty warrior," he mimicked. "Beware my mighty hammer, and the metal one too! I'll smite you and then go drinking with my friends!" He looked at her. "Never met a warrior who had ever lost anything or anyone somehow. In all the battles, he claimed he never lost a person." She snorted.
"Exactly. He lost his special hammer and got super pouty about not being worthy. We had to explain that *good* and *worthy* kings cared more about their people than their own fun." She winced. "Yeah but he's dating my twin sister's best friend." He shrugged again. "You put up with it when special people come into your life in weird ways."
She shook her head. "I have no idea about any of that."
"Good!" Xander said with a smile. "You're too young for that. You should be having fun and growing up and learning how you find happiness and peace. Not seeing all the darkness." He gave her a pointed look. "Even if you have to sometimes, you gotta learn how to find a bit of happiness here and there or you die of it. Lessons I had to learn the hard way, dear."
"You've handled monsters."
Xander nodded. "I helped that chosen one from sixteen to about two years ago," he sighed. "Including training some of the young ones later on. Handling things that no one wanted to hear about, especially not militaries. I'm known as a breaker of prophecy by having some common sense too." He put the veggies into the pot and turned the stove on low then covered it and walked off. "Let that simmer and soak. It'll be soup tomorrow. There's rooms upstairs when you're tired, ladies. And you of course." He punched his buddy on the shoulder. "I can hear a problem."
"We have a problem trying to invade," the sorceress said.
Xander looked at her. "Your world doesn't have higher weapons than swords and magic, dear. I can destroy a lot of area but is that the help you're asking for?"
She blinked. "I wasn't actually asking."
He grinned. "Of course not." He looked at the bard. "Go up a note." He did that. "Now go back down." He did. "Start there." He nodded, getting into the new song. He hummed because it was working. Xander went to his office to look at his axe. It was still sharp. He still needed to change out the handle's wrappings too. But it was comfortable.
He settled in to watch the mystical tv that showed him what his sister was doing. She was mouthing off to an agent. Still had Mortimer though. It made the tiny baby kraken so happy to have a female witch to cuddle again. He missed his Dawn. Xander considered it then sent magic at her, which she automatically deflected at the agent.
She looked up on the screen. "Behave, Xander." She looked at the agent again, smiling. Her red lips looked like they were covered in blood today. "My brother's a bit overprotective."
"Your brother's weird. That guy that showed up saying he was your twin isn't in any system."
"No, not yet. That was him coming back a few years." She smiled. "In the future he will be. The one here you can't find. The system's clouded." She waved a hand. "Not that you'd like to see him." She stared at him, then at the woman walking in. "Hey, Janey."
"Darcy. The agents are wanting to know what's going on."
Xander grinned, going there. He appeared with his axe, staring at the agent. "What's wrong, dude? You can't find the me now? Awwwww. Pity. It means that shit I had to handle can't be changed. So I guess it's an invasion in a few years then." The agent backed away slowly. Xander grinned at Jane. "Hey, not Jane."
"She's Jane, she's got the marks I put on her," Darcy said, looking at her. "No, she's been drugged or something." Xander nodded with a hum. "Wow." She got up, letting Mortimer cuddle Xander for a few minutes while she did a healing spell on Jane, making her throw up in a corner with a moan but it ended whatever was going on. Then she took Mortimer back to cuddle. She grinned. "Hey, Jane!"
"Darcy," she moaned, straightening up. "They're worried you're evil."
"That's his job," she said with a point at Xander. "Sometimes."
Xander grinned at the new agent walking on. "Aww, it's the guy that Loki would've killed if I hadn't stepped in," he said dryly. "I remember when you showed up to try to tell us not to handle an invasion by demons in Madagascar in a few years. Pity about that policy of yours." He stared at him until the guy shifted his weight to show he was uncomfortable. "You wanted my sister for something?"
"We wanted to know more about you, Mr. Harris."
Xander grinned. "Nice. But the me back here isn't the me now, dude. He won't be for years. Nearly a decade." He waved a hand and disappeared. He took Darcy and Jane, with Mortimer, with him. "Go rest, ladies. Rooms upstairs. Jane, don't walk out any doors but into the garden. There's no telling where you'll end up. Darcy nearly started a war with the Fae that way by accident."
Darcy sighed but nodded, going out to the bar area with Jane. She paused to hug the Bard, who grinned and cuddled her back. "This is Jane, she's like my sister and boss. She studies the science behind star stuff." She grinned at Jane. "This is a very sweet bard guy, Jane." She dragged her upstairs.
"How did you nearly start a war with mythical Fae beings?" Jane asked her as she let herself be dragged off.
"I caught the eye of the prince. Even dirty and sweaty from beating a guard to death for trying to summon me accidentally on purpose." She shrugged. "It nearly boned his wedding plans. His future wife was skinnier and a bit plain. I gussied her up and he liked her like that. They didn't have underwire bras at all." She opened a door. "Here, stay in here." She went to her own room to rest and pet her baby kraken.
Downstairs, the sorceress was blinking hard. "Was that a kraken?" she demanded.
The bard grinned and pointed. "That's the garden of oddities and kraken babies. Though I think hers was named and came from another realm. The big one out there is a mother to most of them and her name is Delores. She's friendly. She pets me all the time when I'm sitting outside."
She went to look and whined then came back inside. Xander walked behind her giggling. "How did you do that?"
Xander smiled. "I saved Delores. She went after a group of militia members for me so I could steal their weapons." He patted a tentacle that came in. "Hey, baby one." It snuck in and went to examine people. It liked the lute so settled in the bard's lap to feel the vibrations as he played the lute. He petted her gently then went back to it.
The kid was blinking hard. "That's very weird."
The bard grinned. "Xander and his twin Darcy are just like that sometimes. Jane tries to create a non-magic version of a portal to travel. Darcy's her assistant and fierce guard. Xander runs here anymore."
The sorceress nodded at that. "That's still very weird." She looked around then at him again. "Are you going to come help?"
"If I can. Can I be of help?"
"I don't know," she admitted.
He nodded. "Can we talk on this tomorrow so we can all rest?" She nodded, letting him show her to a room upstairs. His room was taken by Jane but that was fine. He didn't have much in there. He could go curl up with Darcy but she was busy playing with Mortimer and he didn't want to interrupt, or have the baby kraken adopt him too.
He could go tease Xander, but it might upset the other two women. So he went to a spare room and settled into the bed. It was a comfortable, nice smelling bed. Which was unusual for most inns but that happened. He actually got to real sleep, dreaming and all, when an alarm went off.
"Damn it, Jane," Darcy called as she ran down the stairs. "Xander, it's the Fae again!"
"Fuck," he complained loudly, getting dressed from his odds and ends closet that held weird clothing and grabbing a few things before heading to save the Jane. He walked into the ballroom and nodded. "Lord Pybald."
"Lord Lavelle," he breathed. "The traveler is yours?"
"My twin sister works with her on her science stuff. She was warned not to walk out any of the other doors without asking first, but she's a scientist and curious."
The Fae local lord nodded. "She is very curious. Asked us about our ears and Asgard."
"Yeah, she's dating Thor. Or was dating Thor." The lord winced at that. "He lost his little hammer for a bit. Odin wanted him to prove he was worthy."
The Fae lord smiled. "I can see why. We do not like their sort."
"Jane's from regular earth. Darcy is her assistant."
"Ah." He sighed. "Your sister, she's still very pretty?"
Xander grinned. "Very but presently flirting with a bard."
"Ehhh," he huffed. "Pity. Fine, give the curious one to Lord Lavelle. Then we'll have dinner before they go. He could probably use a good meal."
"Sure. Jane can borrow some of my decorations." He went with the guards to make Jane up so she was appropriate. He stared as he walked into the room she was in. "Jane," he said patiently.
"I thought it was the front door."
"It is, it just goes to a few different places. We have to attend the formal dinner to be nice. Let's get you fixed up." He came over to help her into the dress and do her hair on her with a few of the pins on his jacket. She looked at herself and squeaked. He nodded. "I did plenty with the slayers at times." He pushed in one pin. "Don't lose that one. It's got magic on it." He walked her out so they could attend the special dinner. If they tried to stretch time, Darcy would show up to evacuate them.
Darcy came down the next morning. She listened at the doorway then sighed. "Formal Fae dinner," she muttered, going back upstairs to deal with a gown and her hair. The bard leaned out to look at her. "Going to save Xander and Jane from the Fae dinner of eternalness. Help me with this?"
"I only know how to get you out of one," he said dryly. She swatted him with a scowl but he did tie her into the gown. Then he put her necklace on her and let her put up her own hair. He stared at the hairsticks. "What're those?"
"Magic." She grinned. "They're connected to various world stones across the realms." She handed him Mortimer. "Let me go save them from the Fae before Jane gets married off. Or worse, they try to keep Xander this time." She stepped into heels and headed down the stairs at a trot, nodding at the two ladies. "Sorry, gotta go save the Jane and the Xander from the Fae dinner." She calmed herself and walked across the portal, smiling at the guards standing there. "Somehow my twin and my boss have disappeared over here."
The guard moaned. "Lady Darcy," he sighed.
She smiled and nodded. "Definitely." She strolled that way, staring at the herald, who announced her with a blush. She walked in and bowed to Lord Pybald. "Lord."
"Lady Darcy," he said, blushing as he stared at her. She grinned. "You were worried about your brother."
"Of course. Trouble does seem to find Xander and Jane all the time. Did she tell you how she met Thor by running him over with a van?"
"I had not heard that story," he admitted. Darcy told him, making him laugh. "Yes, that seems nice of her and yourself of course." He looked her over. "What are those sticks?"
"World stone linking." She winked. "I had to travel a few times by accident." He moaned at that, shifting in his seat. She winked at the wife she had helped win his hand. "If a true daughter of the lines comes I'll gift her with one." She went to get Xander and Jane. "Excuse us please, but he has to feed the krakens in the garden before they decide to ...visit again." She winked at one evil fuck of the universes, who shuddered. She walked off with her arm around Jane's arm and Xander on her other side after nodding at their host.
"Thank you for the excellent dinner," Xander said with a smile. "I look forward to the next time I am asked to dine with your peoples." He followed the ladies back to the inn, walking in and shutting the door then reopening it. Same portal. He shut it again and hit a rune on it, and it changed to the world where the bard should be again. He stared at the guy out there. "Hey, dude, it's your sad buddy." He went to take off the jacket with a head shake. "Fae dinners are very complex and their table manners are hard to emulate for a human who's not born to all that stuff."
"Sorry, Xander," Jane said quietly.
"It happens. Put the pins on my bed. Darcy, did she lose the one with the red cap?"
She looked. "Yup." She went to summon it, nodding at the guy outside. She caught the pin and sighed. Xander took it to go put up while she and Jane got less dressed. Darcy did launder the dress before sending it back since it was only a leant one. The guy blinked a few times. "There's a portal there to a Fae realm."
"Oh," he said with a nod. "Interesting. Are my friends here?"
"Probably. This is a comforting shelter." She let him inside. "You can put the horse in the barn. It's almost always safe."
"Go put the horse up so he can rest. You can at least rest long enough to eat," Xander ordered from upstairs. "No horse deserves to stand out in the rain it looked like outside." He went to take his horse from the safe shelter to the barn. He knew not to refuse hospitality of someone related to the Fae. He came back. Darcy was making food and teaching the young one what she was doing. He hummed as he looked at the other two, who shrugged.
"He stays here often."
"Xander's a very comforting soul," he shot back. "He's always welcomed me openly. I'd hate to break that."
"Never turn down the hospitality of the Fae."
Darcy smiled at him. "We're not Fae. There's just a portal that Jane decided to investigate, dude. So she got invited to dinner."
"At least they were decent to her," Xander said as he came down. "Not that they're unmannerly but she was visiting without permission or warning." He walked into the kitchen, kissing Darcy on the cheek as he walked around her. "I started soup last night."
"It's tasty too," the bard agreed. Xander grinned at him for that. "Darcy, that's very fancy."
"Yes but it's tasty. And not all that fancy really." She dished up food, letting them all eat and rest for now. Outside, the rain started. Xander looked and checked the garden, going to put up the sheltering tarp. "Aww, they're getting too much water?"
"Yeah. Delores doesn't like water." He came back inside a few minutes later. "I need to put that on a pulley system so it's easier to do." She rubbed his sore shoulder for him. "Thank you, my beloved, slightly warped twin."
"Not a problem, even more warped twin."
Jane sighed. "You two are so weird."
"Thank you," they said together.
"Is this a normal hostel?" he asked in a language he had been taught that specific question in.
Xander took him to the doorway and pointed. "This is a Hostel of Sheltering." He stared at him. "So not quite."
"Ah." He nodded. "That makes even more sense. Of course they found their way here."
"I see him often. Whenever he's feeling upset." He clapped him on the arm with a pointed look then walked off again. He handed the sorceress a journal, letting her read over her breakfast of eggs and ham. She squeaked and stared at him. He stared back. "She got addicted to her skills and ended up driving me absolutely batshit insane for a few years. If that helps you with the upcoming war, use it."
She nodded, going back to reading. "She...what are those power points?" He held out a hand with a ball of magic on it. She felt it and shuddered. "That's not portals exactly."
"No. It's a multi-realm portal area that gathers power to it." He grinned. "I was born on one."
"Wow." She went back to reading. Maybe there was something in there to help. She found a few spells that were overly strong but would stop a war. It had clearly stopped one. Xander looked then shook his head and turned the page. "That stopped something."
"The slayers nearly dying stopped that. She goofed and miscast it on the wrong side." He went back to starting bread. Darcy took over, giving him a hip nudge. "Okay, sure. If you want to bake, go for it," he agreed happily. "You do it better than I do." He went to the office to putter.
Darcy came to look at the journal, turning toward the back to find something and handed it back with a grin. "They made sure it worked right that time."
"I..." She read that. That battle had nearly destroyed the realm but had destroyed the ones trying to invade. "Well." She blinked a few times. "That seems...powerful."
"Yeah. I usually go for the useful fire spell. A wide cast helps a lot. You can't differentiate though." She stared at her. "Most of the weapons Xander knows do the same sort of thing. Explosives and the like ya know."
"I hadn't thought of that application."
Darcy grinned. "Sometimes you gotta think outside the books."
"True." She went back to reading. The witch who had wrote that journal was drowning under the weight of her magic. And her attitude problems. "Was she finally stopped?" she asked.
"She's being an eternal guardian in a portal," Darcy told her. "She stepped into it to stop it from consuming more of the area they were in. It was noble but dangerous. It could have used her to power it more open. Every now and then the portal comes here so she can nag Xander. If so he tends to shut the door and walk away before she starts on the fact that she considers him normal again."
"He runs here, he's not normal," the hunter said quietly.
"True." Darcy smiled and nodded. "Very true. Jane, can you get Mortimer?"
"Of course. I'm getting used to your pet." She went up to get him and bring him back down while they had a hissed talk about magical battles. She handed him over. "He's pouty."
"I'm sorry. I had to go rescue Xander and the Jane from a Fae dinner, Mortimer. This is Mortimer. I inherited him." She let them see him.
The young one petted him gently. "He seems sweet. Last night he was playing with your hair."
"He likes my hair." She grinned. "He makes himself a nest most nights." She put him on her shoulder, letting him slide down into her shirt to rest against her chest. She looked down at the first snore. "Sure, you nap, little dude."
"Is it snoring?" the bard asked with a grin.
"Yeah, he does," she said with a grin. "He's the neatest guy in my life right now. Also a good way to see if my dates are going to be interesting."
Jane nodded. "It's driven off two fairly boring ones."
"Yes it has," Darcy agreed happily. "And Thor."
"Hey," Jane complained lightly.
Darcy smirked. "Yay, Janey."
"Fine." She sighed, getting more coffee and pouring more for the others. They all nodded their thanks and settled in to finish their resting. Xander came out to walk behind them and into a closet then came out with something cobweb covered, handing it to Jane. "Why do I need this?"
"Because Asgard's going to come visit during that convergence. Which'll suck greatly when it's Dark Elves." She winced at that. "But that's after they go after Odin and instead find his wife." He walked off again. "Have fun when big, blond, and boring comes back."
"Gee, thanks," Darcy called. "Am I going to have fun too?"
Xander looked out of the office at her. "That's up to you, sister dear." He grinned. "If Jane shares...." He pulled back in to go over what he needed to grab from some sort of shop. He was nearly out of meat and a few other things. Maybe he'd ask Darcy to shop for him again. She did great at it.
The four out there shared a look but went back to being comfortable for a little bit. The bard was nicely writing down a new song. "I always get inspired when I'm here." The others nodded at that. He could write two new songs today if he kept being inspired. He hummed a bit and grabbed the lute to strum to the new tune.
Darcy leaned over to kiss him on the forehead when he kept hitting a wrong note. "Go sharper, not flatter," she said with a grin, handing him a cookie. He hummed, trying that and it worked better. He wrote that down and strummed the whole tune now. It sounded nice but that part still sounded awkward. That was easily fixed later on. He worked out the words for the wedding song Xander suggested. There was a great wedding coming up that would enjoy him performing during the reception. He did get a second cookie handed to him and ate it absently while he created.
The other three shared a look and let him have his inspired moment. They wanted to know more about this inn. Jane was doing math things off to the side while Darcy fussed. Xander came out to hand her some money and a list, getting a nod back for that. She could handle that problem for him. They watched her walk out the door to another portal and leave then come back with bags full of food stuffs. Which she put up too and handed Xander the change, getting a hug since she handed him some sort of pastry thing.
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