Xander and the Problem
Disclaimer: I actually own some characters, but not any of these people. See the full disclaimer at the bottom.
A/N: Now, with awesome artwork by Methos!
Xander Harris was sitting with the guys in O’Malley’s bar. He was only having a coke, but he let the guys figure it was a rum and coke. He just didn’t drink, unless it was something major. Too many ‘Tony and Jessica Harris’ memories. Plus, it was nighttime, which meant he needed to keep a clear head. Even in a place as unmagical as Colorado Springs, there were sometimes things lurking in the dark. And when things that lurked in the dark knew you by reputation, that was usually of the bad. With him, they knew his name, his friends’ names, his reputation, his nicknames, his ex-fiancée, his enemies, you name it.
He was buying drinks for his construction crew. They had just finished working their asses off getting the house ready. Vi’s parents were having to sell their newer home, thanks to the recession and the sub-prime mortgage collapse. So they were retiring to their little bungalow back here in Colorado Springs, where they first met. Xander had had no idea Vi’s dad was retired from the Air Force, before she told him a month ago. She’d never told him that, in all the time they’d talked about how her parents didn’t believe in the supernatural. Not that every military guy in the world had to be another Maggie Walsh, but the Scoobies still tended to be a little suspicious about anyone who wasn’t one of Riley’s guys and gals. That was probably why Vi hadn’t brought it up. So Xander had pulled together a team of seven highly-respected local construction guys, and had re-built that bungalow, which frankly was a bigger dump than his basement bedroom back when Spike was sharing it with him. It needed a new roof, new drywall, upgrades on the electric, some repair work on the south footings, and better windows. So Xander had just redone the whole house, including putting in a new kitchen, plus adding on a sunroom like the one Vi’s mom was losing from their Florida home.
And the house was all finished, just in time. Vi’s folks were supposed to be showing up tomorrow morning. Boy, were they going to be surprised. Vi had told them that her ‘friends’ were helping out, but her folks still didn’t understand about the Scoobies, or the New Slayers And Watchers Council, or things that go bump in the night. Vi had tried to explain it, but her folks were too far in denial about the whole supernatural deal, as way too many of the new Slayers’ families were. This wasn’t the Sunnydale Hellmouth, where you understood something wiggins-making was going on, or else you were a late-night snack for something with fangs. This was the ‘real world’, where vampires were so scarce you could safely refuse to believe. So Vi’s family just knew Vi was insanely strong and fast, and she used her powers to help the good guys in some sort of international organization. Apparently, her folks thought she was like Sidney Bristow or something, and the whole ‘vampire’ deal was a weird cover for her international espionage activities, or really secret codewords for terrorist activities, or something.
The New Slayers And Watchers Council, or as Xander liked to call it, Scoobies Unlimited, had this problem all over the planet. If you weren’t near one of the thirteen Hellmouths around the world – make that twelve, now that Sunnydale was a huge hole in the ground filled with ocean water – or within twenty miles of one of the five primary Wolfram and Hart law offices, or in one of the really isolated places on earth where demons could have the place mostly to themselves without worrying about the few humans there telling anyone they were being eaten, then the supernatural things were either pretty much nonexistent, or so careful that even the local cops didn’t suspect anything. That didn’t mean Xander was going to get drunk off his ass and risk getting eaten by the one-in-a-thousand vamp who was traveling through Colorado Springs on his way to Los Angeles. But it meant he could lower his guard a lot more than he could in Cleveland or New York or Manila. And no place on earth was like Sunnydale had been. Back in Sunnyhell, Buffy had killed on average maybe thirty vampires and three demons a week for seven years running. Now she was calling Xander to complain about how boring Rome was, vamp-wise, even with the Wolfram and Hart office that was only four kilometers from Vatican City. It was almost funny that the little blonde girl who wrecked mommy’s car and had trouble with high school French and wasn’t good at math was now an expert driver in the raceways that people called Italian streets, and spoke flawless Italian, and could give amounts in kilometers and liters and kilograms.
It was almost funny how they had all had to grow up.
Xander really missed the whole gang. Even Kennedy, if he was going to be honest. But they had spread all over the world now, and chatting via webcam just wasn’t the same. Buffy was running the European branch of Scoobies Unlimited, and Dawn was with her when not working on her studies at Oxford. Giles was running the Council out of London, and being all tweedy again, now that his father had passed away and he was officially Dr. Rupert Giles, Baron Graybourne. (It still really, really bugged Xander that the Watchers’ Council had taken the Honourable Rupert Bredon Carothers Giles, Ph. D., only son of the sixth Baron Graybourne, and made him play ‘impoverished librarian’ at Sunnydale High.) Willow was off with Kennedy handling South America. Faith was being amazingly responsible, taking Chao-Ahn and a couple other Asian Slayers, and handling most of continental Asia. Since there were tons of places in Asia that were still pretty wild and demon-centric, Faith was kind of hogging the Slayer-iffic places, but that seemed to be good for her. After Willow had done that white magic spell with the Slayer Scythe and made him regrow his ruined eyeball, Xander had done two years in Africa, with plenty of side trips through the Middle East and western Asia, but now Sam Zabuto was covering Africa with Caridad and N’bogo as his lead Slayers.
Okay, Xander had needed a couple years in Africa, after Anya died. He’d nearly got himself killed more times than he wanted to think about now, but he’d needed that time to get over Anya, and how he’d screwed everything up, and how he’d never get a chance to tell her just how sorry he was that he’d screwed up, or how much he missed her. On the other hand, the only reason that damn N’trella demoness in Liberia hadn’t eaten his organs and then laid her eggs in his corpse was that he was still too hung up about Anya to go to bed with her. At which point the whole ‘liver-eating demon’ thing came out, complete with fangs and tentacles, and boy was she surprised that the dorky white guy she was planning on eating had a shortsword in a neck sheath and knew how to use it.
After twenty-two months of finding new Slayers and training them to fight demons, Xander had finally pulled himself together and had asked for a new assignment. He had figured Giles would give him a job like ‘facilities manager’ or ‘food coordinator’ or ‘call center monitor’ or even ‘guy who had to put up with Andrew’. He had just about fainted when Giles gave him all of North America. How insane was that? A dorky carpenter with a magically-replaced eyeball and no college background at all was running Scoobies Unlimited for all of North America. He was based out of Cleveland, since that was where the Hellmouth was, and where the Slayer school was. Robin Wood was principal of the Joyce Summers School for Gifted Young Women, and was doing a way better job of playing principal for a couple hundred super-powered girls than Xander could ever do.
And they so needed that school. Willow’s spell had not only powered up all the current Potentials who were between thirteen and seventeen, but it had kept on working. Now every Potential became a Slayer when she hit fifteen or so. They tried to get the girls to the school when the girls were about thirteen, so they could learn about control and martial arts and the supernatural before they became Slayers. That meant the school ran grades seven through twelve now. Willow’s mojo did a better job of finding all the Potentials than the old Watchers Council had managed, but they still missed a couple every year and had to do to damage control. In every sense of the word. Especially when some fifteen year old girl suddenly punched some full-grown guy through a wall. But this way was a jillion times better than the old system, where asshole Watchers took some helpless kid away from everything she knew, and brainwashed her into believing all the bullshit the Council was cramming down her throat, and turned her into a vampire-killing machine who had nothing to live for. That goddamn Spike was right: before Buffy, every Slayer eventually had a death wish, whether she realized it or not.
Now Slayers had families, and peers, and friends, and a school where they fit in. They could have boyfriends, or in the case of girls like Kennedy, girlfriends. They could grow up and get married and have families. Every Slayer was encouraged to be a girl first, and a Slayer second, because they already had a ton of other girls who could go out and save the world. They were still losing a couple girls a year, because the mini-Slayers just weren’t as strong and tough – and frankly, as horrifically desperate – as Buffy and Faith had been, but they were working on that. A girl didn’t get to go out and slay until she was eighteen and fully trained. Slayers no longer went out alone, either: Slayers worked in teams of two or three at a minimum, and they went out with backup too. If a girl didn’t want to be a Slayer, she didn’t have to. Not that any of them ever stopped being a Slayer inside, where it counted. Even the girls like Emily and Patrice, who didn’t like fighting vampires and just wanted to be Research Girl, still had that driving itch to go hunt at night and kill supernatural evils. Xander knew full well how Emily sublimated that itch: who the heck would have guessed that Andrew was actually straight?
But Sunnyhell was gone. The worst Hellmouth in at least five millennia was completely closed and sealed. All over the world, the forces of good were finally starting to take back the night. Good wasn’t winning. Not yet. But it was coming back from a sure loss, and was working its way back toward a tie game. Someone like Vi might live to be an old lady, and might even see the day when vampires were almost extinct. That was really Xander’s dream. That women like Faith and Buffy could grow up, and have families, and live to a ripe old age, and die of natural causes. Instead of ‘neck rupture’ or ‘gangs on PCP’ or a ‘barbecue fork accident’ or a ‘wild animal attack’.
And that was why Xander was so surprised when the demon walked into the bar.
Xander wasn’t even the first to notice her. Jerry, the roofing guy, nudged him after Cliff pointed the chick out.
Okay most every guy in the bar was looking her way. Even the guys who were there with dates or wives. She was an astonishing babe. Right up in the ‘Buffy and Faith’ category for hotness. And she was dressed in what looked like leather. Sexy leather pants, and one hell of a leather top. Faith would go for a top that tight and cut like that. But there was no way that outfit was out of a normal store.
Cliff laughed, “What, is it one of those role-playing chicks?”
Jerry smirked, “You mean cosplay? Like those Japanese girls at that convention last year?”
“Whoa, those girls were hot,” agreed Bob.
“I was thinkin’ more like SCA stuff. Society for Creative Anachronism? My old girlfriend Mina did that with her sister,” said Pete. “They had some pretty crazy outfits.”
Xander wasn’t thinking like that at all. He was thinking, “Oh holy crap, how do I get this demon chick out of here before she picks out her next dinner?” Because there was no way she was human. No way at all. She didn’t move right. When she turned her head, there was something eerie and unnatural about it. It reminded him of… Oh God, it reminded him of Drusilla. Or maybe that two-thousand-year-old vengeance demon that Anya and Halfrek had introduced to him one night at dinner. Whatever this demon was, she moved like she didn’t really know how to be human, or in the case of Anya’s friend, she had been a demon so long that she had forgotten how to pretend to be human.
Definitely not a vamp, though. She had a reflection. Xander checked that right away. There were mirrors on about a quarter of the ceiling panels, and she definitely had a reflection. Plus, there was no way a vampire had ever dressed like that. At worst, a vamp still dressed like the day they got turned, and at best like they were only a couple years out of date. Okay, Harmony still dressed like she was a fashionista, even if Xander had no idea how Harmony checked her outfit and did her makeup every morning when she couldn’t see herself in a mirror. Frankly, he didn’t want to know. He’d once heard Will and Kennedy having a ‘meaningful discussion’ about Harmony’s problems with looking good every day, and had promptly left the house for a donut run.
So that made this woman a demon. And if she wasn’t one of the types of harmless demons like Brachen demons, it made this woman a threat to every guy in this bar. Maybe even a threat to every woman in the bar too, since there were plenty of demons who only appeared to be human and had no idea whatsoever about male-female things. And then there was that apparently female demon last year who had decided to turn Willow into her next sex slave, only Kennedy put her foot down about that. Right in said demon’s skull. Along with an axe and two combat knives. Ever since then, Xander had felt a lot better about Kennedy being with Will.
But if she was dangerous, no one else in this entire town stood a chance against this thing, because no one else in Colorado Springs had a clue about the supernatural. Which meant Xander had to handle it. He kept his hand in his pocket as he speed-dialed the call center a Code Yellow and then texted them the code for ‘single human-looking demon’. He pulled his phone out just long enough to snap a pic of the demon and send it to the call center. Then he shoved his phone back in his pocket and left his phone on, so the call center could track him.
Amazingly, it had been Andrew who had the brainstorm about the call center. Every Slayer and Watcher and witch now had a magically-enhanced cellphone with GPS and the call center on speed dial. There were three speed dial numbers for the call center, so you could signal a code yellow, a code orange, or a code red with the press of one speed-dial button. Not that Xander had thought he would need to call anything in this week, but you kept your Council phone with you at all times. And he hadn’t had to dial in a code red for at least five months.
Andrew had even come up with the idea that you could speed dial an emergency signal, and then text a code for the type of emergency. And, Andrew being Andrew, he had come up with a three-page list of codes. Xander had thought that was way too much. Right up until he hit that clan of Peri’aki’sel demons in Madagascar, right in the middle of their attempt at a virgin sacrifice with three human girls who turned out not to be virgins, which accidentally released one very pissed-off hell demon. After that, he had pushed real hard for everyone to have to memorize the entire list of codes. Okay, Faith only had one code, and everyone knew it: I am about to kick ass, don’t fucking bother me for a while. And she never entered that code, she just pressed one of the speed dial buttons before she got down to Slayer business. Andrew had been amazingly grateful when Giles put him in charge of the whole call center operation, which was now in the operations building in Cleveland, where plenty of under-aged Slayers and Slayers-to-be could man the phones instead of running around loose at night. Just seeing how grateful and amazed Andrew had been about the whole thing made Xander feel like a total dick for the way he – and everyone else except Emily – usually treated Andrew, even if Andrew was still the most annoyingly nerdy person Xander had ever worked with. And if people like Xander and Willow and Dawn thought you were annoyingly nerdy, then you had to be the king of annoying nerdiness.
Xander stood up from the table like he thought he was Mister Studly, and said to his crew, “You guys just keep on drinking. I might have a little business to attend to.” Then he headed straight for Leather Demon Girl.
The demon spotted him before he was five steps away from the table. Not that she did anything. She just watched him approach, and she looked him over the way Faith looked guys over. Or the way some vamps looked over some idiot who was about to be their next snack.
He gave her a big smile. “Hi. I’m Xander. Looking for someone in particular, or just looking around?”
She didn’t react normally to the pick-up line, which didn’t surprise him a bit. Lots of demons were not big on the whole ‘human interaction’ thing. At least not demons who mainly had interactions with humans that consisted of ripping out their organs or draining their blood. And if this demon was one of the non-threatening species who kept their heads down and tried to blend in, then she should have known how to act like a human. She said, “Hello… Xander. I am just looking around. I heard about this concept of ‘the bar’ and I was most interested in seeing how such a thing would function.”
Wow. Most demons at least pretended they were human when they were pulling this kind of crap. Or maybe she was trying to pretend and she was just worse at it than Anya had ever been. She certainly wasn’t any good at the ‘sexy female voice’ bit. No, she sounded pretty darn arrogant, and sort of icy. Kind of like Cordelia at her worst, but with some early Anya thrown in for that freaky non-human touch.
He glanced in a mirror behind her to make sure no one else was close enough to hear his next words. He smiled and said, “We don’t usually see man-eating demons in here.”
She turned her body slightly. He knew what it looked like when one of the Slayers turned her body to get into a fighting position, and this wasn’t it. This was more of an ‘I don’t know how to stand like a normal human’ movement. Still, he recognized that the expression on her face was surprise. Not shock, or fear, or threat.
She said, “I am not a demon. I did not even know any Tau’ri outside your government’s Stargate program were aware of the Gou’a’uld threat.”
Xander kept the smile on his face while he winced inwardly at how drastically bad this had suddenly become.
She continued, “You may call me Anise.”
A/N: Yes, we’re now officially AU.
 Here, the Gou’a’uld still constitute a threat. The Tok’ra have not been wiped out, and Anise is still alive.
 Also, the Scooby world is completely under the radar, with the gigantic Los Angeles disasters of the latter seasons of Angel being nipped in the bud so they didn’t happen, and the SGC has no idea.
 Everything in BtVS happened, with Sunnydale collapsing at the end of Buffy season 7. This story is not conformable with the Buffy Season 8 comic books.
 Also, Jacob Carter is still alive, just because I like Sam – and it facilitated the plot.
 As you’ll notice if you think about it, I jiggled the timelines a little too.
Disclaimer: If you think I own any of the characters from either of these series, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to buy. I own neither Buffy (and its sequelae) nor Stargate (in any of its variations).
Spoilers: Lots. Assume three years post BtVS season 7, and post SG season 10.