Xander woke to the feel of stiff sheets and a scratchy blanket. He absently reached out to find himself on a narrow bed and his axe next to him. This isn’t home. Not my bed. No Anya snores. Where the hell am I? He bolted upright in the bed as he remembered the night before. He flopped back on to the bed staring at the ceiling as he replayed his arrival.
It had only taken them twenty minutes more to actually get to where the SSR members were bunking. Steve was relieved when the building came into sight. He couldn’t wait to put his team down for the night so he could figure out the enigma of their guest. The young man was a mix of youth and battle weary. He’d seen that same weary look in the eyes of the veteran members of his team. He wondered how someone so young could get so battle worn if they weren’t a soldier. Even though the young man showed no signs of actual military training he held himself like a soldier. His musing was cut short as they opened the door only to come face to with Colonel Phillips.
“Rogers, you and your men are late. Curfew was at 2300 hours. What do you have to say for yourself? And who do you have with you? Why are you bringing a security risk into this facility?” Phillips glared at the strange young man with his supposed top team.
“He’s part of the reason we’re late sir. There was a bit of a…incident on the way back that caused our delay. The young man helped out with the problem to the benefit of all without it escalating. I offered him a bunk and a meal in the morning as a reward.” Steve stood tall as he explained the situation as best he could. “If you don’t mind sir, I’d like to get my men to their bunks. Afterwards I can give you a more detailed report.”
“See that you do Captain. I’ll be waiting to hear your explanation.” Phillips turned around and headed back toward his room.
Steve slumped a little in relief. “Come on guys time to get you all tucked in. Mr. Harris if you’ll follow me and help me get these guys settled that would be appreciated. Afterwards I can show you a bunk for the night.” Steve nudged his guys towards their rooms.
“Sure not a problem, call me Xander or Harris. Mr. Harris is my dad and makes me look around for him.” Xander followed behind.
“Then you can call me Steve, Rogers or Captain. I usually prefer Steve.” Steve gave the young man a friendly smile.
“I hope me being here isn’t going to cause you any problems. I certainly don’t want to cause any friction between you and your superiors.” Xander said.
“You’re not a problem. There may be a bit of tension but nothing I haven’t handled in the past and probably won’t face again in the future. Don’t worry about it.” Steve reassured.
“Okay, if you’re sure. But if there is, just say the word and I’ll go. I don’t want to be a hassle.” Xander made sure to emphasize his point.
Steve shook his head at the young man’s words. He’d known people like this young man in the past. Selfless, brave and willing to sacrifice their own wellbeing for others. Yeah, his instincts were right about this guy. Now it was just a matter of figuring out what to do with him.
Xander helped put the drunken men in the rooms he was pointed to. Stark unsteadily made it on his own to his private room down another hallway. Bucky got to his and Steve’s room without mishap. The others went down relatively easy except for Dugan but that was smoothed over by handing him back his hat. That left Xander awkwardly waiting for Steve.
Steve looked at Xander for a moment, for the first time he got a good look at him. His choice of clothing spoke of comfort, and in a style he’d not seen before. The axe he carried looked to be of a good quality while his clothes spoke of some wear. The bright colors were startling but seemed to fit the young man in an odd way. He decided that he liked it. “Come on you can bunk with Bucky and me. There’s an extra bunk in our room. Besides I don’t think bunking you down with the others will work. Once they sober up in the morning with foggy memories of the night things might get…touchy.” Steve explained.
“Um...okay. You sure it’s not a problem. I don’t want to be a bother and put anyone out. I can find a corner somewhere and sleep if you can spare a blanket and a pillow. I’m used to roughing it when needed.” Xander rambled. He knew he sounded a bit pathetic even to his own ears. But he was still trying to avoid being an imposition on Captain America than he already was.
“It’s no problem. Space is limited and the rooms are double and in some cases triple bunked. Since Bucky and I know each other from way back we ended up sharing. We ended up in a triple with a bed to spare. The rest of my team opted to double and triple up. So it’s no problem at all to have you stay in our room.” Steve smiled and tried to reassure the young man of his welcome.
“If you’re sure then I’ll accept.” Xander smiled shyly back.
When Xander had entered the room he’d noticed that Bucky was already dead to the world in one of the bottom bunks.
“Make yourself comfortable. I’m sorry about leaving but I need to report to the colonel before long. So just grab a bunk and if you’re not awake by the time I get back. Good night.” Steve once again gave Xander a reassuring smile and left shortly after.
Xander was left standing in the middle of the room debating if he should still sneak away. The sudden exhaustion and adrenaline crash changed his mind about leaving and finding someplace else. He just plopped on the bed, took his jacket and shoes off and made sure his axe was at hand in case of anything before he let sleep claim him.
Now here he was staring at a strange ceiling. His mind wandered over his situation. What exactly was it that the demon had said about his curse. He needed to figure out if there was a loophole he could use to get back. What did it say, “No going forward,” which meant he had no future. There was more than that though. Oh yeah, “You go back. Way Back. No words. No friends. No helpmate. Alone. All familiar gone,” which meant he should have been in the distant past. Considering it said no words, he was meant to have ended up somewhere so far back that the language would have been a problem for him. That probably would have led to him getting into problems because he wasn’t understood. And the rest of it made perfect sense taken in that context. He’d be alone in a strange land unable to communicate, without any aid and friends, unable to relate to the strange surroundings.
But like usual, magic and the Xan-man don’t ever mix well together. So instead of ending up in the ancient past he’d ended up in the last century during one of the most widespread wars ever seen. Instead of being among unfamiliar things he was with semi-familiar things. He was still able to communicate and make friends. Well at least gain help when needed. But that didn’t give him any clue of how to get out of here and back home.
Xander looked around the room and noticed that he was the only one in the room. He briefly wondered where the others had gone off to but figured they were doing soldier stuff. Either way it was no concern of his for the moment.
Xander wondered what his next move should be. He needed a plan or at least an idea of what to do next. First thing was to try and get a message back to the others about what happened to him. Hopefully, Willow would be able to do something and he’d leave shortly after sending the message to them. So the problem he really had to face was the best way to get the message back to the others in 2010.
He could try to summon Anyanka but considering she was currently a demon that wouldn’t work out well for him. Not to mention it would probably screw up the whole becoming human in the future thing. So he’ll have to figure out another way without summoning a demon. “Nope no summoning by the Xan-man, knowing my luck I’d end up with D’Hoffryn instead. That would sure end badly.”
The Watchers Council would work but then again they don’t like the idea of a Slayer with friends. So there’s no guarantee he’d be able to convince them to keep the letter and actually send it. Not to mention that in his current time they hated him and wouldn’t give him the time of day. Let alone help him if he was in trouble. Xander snorted, “Yeah right, The Council would help me. They’d rather see me dead first.”
Xander sighed his options were getting smaller with each idea. Maybe he could use the demon underground to his advantage. There has to be a place like Willie’s in this time, somewhere in town. Spike said not all the demons left London during the war and they had kitten poker in this time too. He’d just have to figure out what part of town they’re hiding in. But he’d need a beginning stake in order to get into a game and he didn’t have any cash for this time or a kitten to start with.
Xander got up and grabbed his jacket. He quickly emptied all his pockets to take stock of what he had on him that he could use as collateral in a game. He had two holy water vials, his water pistol, three wooden stakes, his axe, his cellphone, his wallet that had all his ID and twenty two dollars. Nothing in that collection outside of his axe and phone would be worth anything to anyone right now. But no matter how much it got him he couldn’t use his phone as collateral. That technology wasn’t even close to being invented yet. He quickly put up his wallet and things then sat on the bed to think some more about his situation. If he could at least figure out where to go for info he’d be able to figure things out from there.
Then an idea struck him. Wolfram and Hart, they were still around in 2010. But the big question was did he really want to get involved with a law firm for evil? Angel said they had offices around the world. Maybe he could get them to help him out. It was a sure fire way of knowing the message would get to the others. They could also probably help him get papers to fit in to the current time until he could go home. The problem was unless he could pay them he didn’t want to be in a position to owe them anything. “That’s not gonna work not with the law firm of evil. Though…” Xander trailed off.
Maybe he was on to something. A law firm could be a good idea. Xander had heard of law firms keeping things for their clients over a long period of time to be delivered after a certain amount of time. Didn’t rich people hire law firms to dish out their wealth at certain ages to their relatives? This wouldn’t be any different except it would be an action rather than money release. That might work. So what law firms are still around in 2010 that are currently in existence? He had not a clue.
“Which puts me back to square one, needing information about the here and now,” Xander once again flopped back onto the bed looking at the ceiling. “Guess, I’ll need to do some reconnaissance. Tap into the underground and see what I can find out.” With that decision made Xander got up to face the day.*****
Steve came out of another meeting with Colonel Phillips about their unexpected guest. He was glad that the colonel was giving him the benefit of doubt about Alexander Harris, especially after last night’s revelations.
Steve knocked quietly on the Colonel Phillips’ door and entered at the sharp, “Come”. Inside Phillips stood behind the little desk that was in the room. Steve closed the door behind him and stood at parade in front of the desk as he waited for Phillips to speak first.
Phillips dropped down a file he was looking at and finally addressed Steve. “Well, what do you have to say for yourself Rogers? You’ve let a potential security risk into our midst. For all you know that boy could be a Hydra agent in disguise or even a Nazi spy. This whole thing can be Brooklyn all over again.” Steve flinched slightly at the Colonel Phillips’ reminder of the doctor’s death on the day of his transformation.
“What justification do you have for bringing him here, risking our security and some of our top resources including Stark?” Phillips growled out.
“Sir, the young man in question is named Alexander Harris from Sunnydale, California. Quite frankly sir, he saved both Sargent Barnes and Mr. Stark’s life tonight.” Steve replied.
“How do you know that it wasn’t staged, soldier?” Phillips countered.
Steve looked Phillips in the eyes as he answered. “Because from the look on his face after the incident was over. He wasn’t expecting to have lived through the altercation. Sir.”
“Tell me what happened, son. And don’t spare the details.” Phillips ordered as he sat down in a chair.
Steve described the events he had witnessed and what he had heard. He was not expecting the colonel to go pale upon hearing the names of the two who attacked Bucky and Stark. He continued the story until the point they were on their way back.
“Captain, I need you to be quite sure that you heard right. Did you say the boy called them William the Bloody and Drusilla?” Phillips held on to his composure with a tight grip.
“Yes, sir, is there a problem with that? Should I have attempted to apprehend them?” Steve asked a bit worried he’d done something wrong by letting them go.
“No, you did nothing wrong and there is no problem. Are sure that they said they were leaving for Spain?” Phillips pursued.
“Yes, sir, William or Spike, said that they had an invitation for Spain they were heading off to. Sir, may I ask. What’s wrong? Why such interest in these two?” Steve asked.
“The Strategic Scientific Reserve was formed in response to the scientific advances that were coming out of Hitler’s Hydra Research Division. We were to counter any technology that Hydra came up with. But Hitler doesn’t just believe in advanced science. He also believes in myths, magic and a lot of superstitious nonsense. Normally I don’t go for all that hocus pocus mumbo jumbo stuff. But others up the chain of command thought it a possible threat.
To combat that threat another program was formed. The Demon Research Initiative was to study all the mystical mumbo jumbo associated with Hitler’s Inner Circle.” Phillips reached for a glass of water that was sitting on his desk. Noticing that Rogers’ attention was totally focused on what he was saying he continued.
“The DRI has collected information on several creatures, beings, monsters, you name it. I don’t know much of what they do over there. I really don’t want to know. But one of their files they shared with SSR to keep an ear out for was on a quartet of vampires known as the Scourge of Europe. Their members were Darla, Angelus, Drusilla and William the Bloody who later changed his name to Spike. The file says that the name change is rumored to have come from him killing by using a railroad spike as his weapon of choice.” Steve frowned in discomfort at the images Phillips’ words brought to mind.
“There are orders to never engage these creatures one on one but if we ever come across one of them to capture if at all possible with limited casualties. I have no other orders about anything else that the DRI does.” Phillips drank his water.
“Do those orders extend to me and my unit as well or are we to only focus on Hydra and the overall war effort.” Steve asked not liking what those orders would mean for his unit.
“No Rogers, your team is tasked with defeating Hydra and their schemes. That was the sole purpose of Erskine’s formula, using science to create a fighting force better able to handle the advanced technologies that Hydra was developing.” The colonel rubbed his tired eyes. “Is there anything else of note that you have to say about the young man you brought in?” Phillips looked closely at Rogers to see if he had anything more to say.
“No sir just that he seemed to know what they were and how to deal with them.” Steve finished but held back stating some of his own concerns over his observations.
“Alright Rogers, that’s all. Dismissed,” Phillips nodded toward his door.
“Yes sir,” Steve saluted and left the room.
Steve’s meeting with Phillips this morning was just more speculation on what Xander could know and whether or not to call in someone from the DRI to question him. Steve hastily derailed that idea by saying maybe they should talk to Xander first and hear his story. So it ended up he was given the task of finding out the truth behind Alexander Harris.
Steve sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He wasn’t looking forward to the talk he’d have to have with Xander. He headed upstairs towards his room.*****
Xander had just gotten back from cleaning up in the bathroom he’d been directed to when Captain America or rather Steve entered the room. “Um…hi, you wouldn’t happen to know how long I’ve been asleep, would you.”
Steve smiled at the young man to put him at ease. “It’s about 0900 hours. You’ve slept over nine hours. Are you okay?” He asked at Xander’s shocked look.
“N-nine…hours? Oh boy.” Xander ran his hand through his slightly damp hair. “Um…yeah. I guess I’m okay. It’s just…I can’t remember when was the last time I had nine straight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Normally I’m lucky if I get five or six. Usually less,” he rubbed his face in his hands. He knew he’d been knocked out for a long time after his initial arrival. The last thing he’d expected was to sleep much once he did get the chance. He tried to understand how he could have slept so long in a strange environment under his current circumstances. The only explanation was that the spell through time had taken a lot out of him.
“Maybe you were more tired than you thought.” Steve offered.
“Yeah, probably a side-effect of how I got here.” Xander mumbled to himself but Steve still heard it clearly and added it as one more piece to the puzzle.
In a louder voice Xander asked, “Um…is there still a chance that breakfast is being served or do I have to wait until lunch?”
“Breakfast is just almost ended but I’m sure the cook wouldn’t mind one last meal or two. Hurry up and we should be able to squeak by in getting some.” Steve grinned mischievously.
Xander gave a small laugh, “That look on your face just reminded me a bit of my friend Jesse. He had always angled for seconds no matter what it was that was being served.” His mirth was short lived as the sadness and grief associated with those memories crept in.
Steve noticed the sudden melancholy and recognized the look of haunted memories the young man was carrying. He’d see that look far too often lately on Bucky. So he changed the subject and decided to go to the heart of the matter. “After breakfast, Colonel Phillips would like to talk to you about last night. What you did for Bucky and Stark. Are you up to having what essentially is a debriefing on what happened last night?”
Xander was glad for the topic change and thought about the request. He answered as honestly as he could. “I’d be more than willing to but I really don’t know how much I can tell you. I can only answer what I know. I won’t compromise others’ safety with my answers.” He shrugged in apology and picked up his things to bring along with him just in case.
“That’s fair enough. You can leave your things here if you want. No one will touch them.” Steve encouraged.
“Not to sound paranoid or anything but I don’t go into strange situations without being prepared. Besides this,” Xander patted his axe, “is more like my baby than anything else. It’s gotten me through a lot. So it’s something of good luck for me. If anything were to go wrong I’d like to have it at hand.” He finished.
Steve looked at Xander to figure out if he was serious or not and realized he was. He wasn’t too sure what would cause someone to gain that sort of comfort from a weapon. Another puzzle piece to figure out later since now wasn’t the time to sort it out. “Come on let’s go before we miss our chance.” Steve opened the door and waved Xander out and downstairs.*****
Breakfast had been quiet as most of the others had already been and gone. The ladies in the canteen gave Steve fond smiles as they dished up a huge serving for him and another plate for their new guest. A fresh pot of coffee had been placed on the table for them to drink from.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone put that much away in one sitting.” Xander pointed out with a piece of his toast.
“My metabolism is quite high. So I tend to eat a lot more often than most. The ladies are nice enough to allow me to clean out the kitchen of whatever leftovers there are. That way the food doesn’t go to waste.” Steve shrugged it off as no big deal. Even though for him it was. He always stuck to normal sized meals when eating with others and ended up having snacks that would equal a meal in between. In the field he knew he wouldn’t be able to do that so he’d have to make sure he had some kind of provisions to help fuel his higher metabolism. He needed to mention that to Peggy or even Stark.
“It’s a not as much fun as one would think. You can eat practically anything but the fact that your body needs constant refueling can be a problem. Back home I have…had a friend like that. She could eat as much as a grown man twice her size in one sitting and then some. But whenever she thought she was eating too much and tried to cut back it tended to slow her down even more. She got hurt more often when she did that.” Xander said the grief welling up in his throat causing him to swallow quickly to keep it down. He missed Buffy so much and on top of missing everyone else it was almost too much.
Steve was surprised at Xander’s astute observation and noted the freshness of obvious grief. He looked down at his plate to give the young man a bit of privacy to get himself back in order. But he couldn’t stop but wonder how someone so young could have had so many losses in life.
“Yeah…I’m kind of worried about what it will be like. Out in the field where I’m more active than I was before. I’ve learned I can go for a long time on a single meal. Once the adrenaline wears off it’s like I haven’t eaten in months.” Steve quietly added.
Xander quickly pulled himself together. He had a suggestion that could help Steve with his metabolism problem. It just needed a little researching. “What you need to do is carry high calorie snacks that don’t take up much space in a pack or something that will travel well. I think I know of something that you could take with you if I can find the ingredients. I don’t know what’s readily available over here. I’d have to hit a store and see what I can come up with for you.” Xander offered.
Steve had a huge smile on his face. “Sure I’d be more than willing to show you to the nearest grocery. If you tell me what to look out for and can substitute to make it I’d greatly appreciate it.”
Xander couldn’t help but return the smile. “Sure it’s not a problem. Not like the recipe is a state secret or anything. It’s just simple things mixed together. A high calorie treat or snack that’s easily carried. A lot of people buy some or make it themselves back home.” Xander grinned, “When we make ours, it tends to lean heavily towards a greater ratio of chocolate than anything else in it.”
Steve grinned along with Xander as he could understand liking chocolate. It was one of his guilty pleasures as a kid. Sometimes, when he was really sick, his mom would get him a bit of chocolate for a treat to cheer him up. When his mom died Bucky had gotten him a whole candy bar, all for him, as a way to make him feel better. Steve heard the clock out in the hall chime and looked at the clock in the dining room. It was time to get the meeting between Xander and the colonel started before the day got any later.
“If you’re ready we can get the meeting with the colonel out of the way. Then you can show me this wonder snack I can take with me.” Steve said with a hopeful look on his face.
Xander laughed, “Sure. Let’s meet the head honcho. The sooner we get it done the quicker I can help you out.”
Both men stood up and bused their own dishes. Steve gave his thanks to the ladies and Xander added his own. Xander followed Steve out the door, wondering what he was about to face and how much of the truth will he have to tell.*****
Xander followed Steve as they wove their way through a few hallways to a door that had a sign saying CO Office above it. He steeled himself for the meeting to come but still had no idea of how much to tell them. He really wasn’t looking forward to this meeting. All he wanted to do was get out of here, help Steve out and then leave. But he knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. His luck never was.
Before Steve could knock on the door, Xander stopped him. “Um…can you come in with me? I really could use a familiar face if not friendly face there.” Xander asked sheepishly.
Steve was surprised but pleased that the other man trusted him at least a little to want him to be there. “Sure it’s not a problem. Colonel Phillips may be a bit upset but I think he’ll see reason with your request.” He gave the young man a reassuring smile.
Steve knocked on the door. When they were told to enter he opened the door and ushered Xander in. He noticed the young man’s reluctance to the meeting and could sympathize. But Steve knew that this needed to be done. That it was something that Xander needed to do. He had no idea why it was so important but it was.
“Thank you, Captain Rogers. That will be all. Mr. Harris. Please have a seat,” Colonel Phillips ordered without looking up from the report he was pretending to read. He pointed at one of the chairs in front of his desk in a non-verbal reinforcement of his order.
“Sir, Harris requested my presence at this meeting. And I gave him my word I would be here.” Steve stated in a firm voice.
Phillips looked up from the papers he held and looked at the super soldier that was both a godsend and bane to his temper. Then he looks over at the mysterious young man that had suddenly dropped into their midst. “Is that so? You feel more comfortable talking to me with Captain Rogers present?” Phillips narrowed his stare at the strange young man.
“Um…” Xander swallowed, “Yeah. Uh…I mean yes.” Xander took a deep breath to calm his nerves at the stare. “Yes, sir, I want Captain Rogers here with me in this meeting.”
Phillips took his time and carefully looked over the young man that Rogers escorted in as he took a seat. The young man was obviously nervous and looked resigned to be in the meeting. He wasn’t hostile or defensive even if he was armed with an axe. The clothes were worn but in an unusual style and the shoes were nothing he’d seen before. All told the boy presented a very puzzling dilemma.
The colonel had already gotten verbal reports on last night’s event from Stark and Barnes earlier that morning. Though Stark refused to discuss it more than to say they were accosted in an alley and someone jumped in to rescue them.
“Well then, Rogers, I suggest you take a seat as well.” After both young men got settled in front of him Phillips continued. “Mr. Harris, there seems to be some confusion here. I’m hoping that you can clarify it for me.”
“I’ll try but can you not call me Mr. Harris. That’s my father and that’s not who I am.” Xander gave a pained smile and shrugged sheepishly.
Phillips eyebrow rose at the telling statement. This was a young man who had issues with his father. He’d seen several soldiers under his command that felt the same way and he could understand the request. “Certainly, what would you prefer to go by?”
“Harris or Xander, I’ll even answer to Alex if I have to but never Alexander. It’ll just put me on the defensive and I don’t think we want that to happen right now.” Xander explained firmly.
Phillips reassessed his initial impression. This was a young man who respected but didn’t fear authority. “Fair enough, Harris. Captain Rogers there,” he nodded in Steve’s direction, “explained to me what happened last night. What I want is to hear your side of the story.” The colonel looked straight at the strange young man sitting before him.
Xander swallowed and gave a vague but truthful report. “I had been walking for a while when I heard your men’s voices in the distance. As I turned a corner I noticed two of them were well ahead of the others. Steve…uh…Captain Rogers was with the group that was further behind. I noticed movement in an alley up ahead of the first two men and saw them move toward it. It was a woman I recognized as being very dangerous who liked to prey on others.
I knew that the other men wouldn’t have been able to catch up in time to prevent them from getting hurt. Since I was closer to the alley I went in to help as best I could.” Xander took a deep breath and continued on.
“When I got into the alley her accomplice, a man I knew to be just as dangerous, was already there. Your two men were already in their clutches. Due to their obvious drunk state they couldn’t really fight off their attackers. I essentially blustered and bluffed my way through to get them to leave me and your men alone. They were leaving when Captain Rogers showed up and they left quickly when they noticed his arrival. Then I helped the captain to get his team back here.” Xander finished hoping it would be enough. But telling by the colonel’s face it wasn’t.
Steve stared at Xander in disbelief. He couldn’t believe that the young man was leaving out essential information in his story. He was downplaying the severity of the situation. Xander had been outnumbered two to one with the added hindrance of protecting Bucky and Stark. Why wouldn’t he tell the colonel the whole truth? Then he remembered Xander asking if they wanted make-believe or the truth. Normal people wouldn’t want the truth so. Xander was giving the make-believe while keeping it as close to the truth as could be handled.
“Is that so? Well, son I’m sorry to say that does not clear up any of my confusion. I’ve heard three reports of the incident and two of the three concur while one neither agreed nor disagreed. Your report tells me something completely different from the others but still close enough to the truth.” Phillips stared intently at Xander.
“Now, do you want to tell me the real truth and not a carefully edited half-truth?” Phillips glared.
Xander looked over to Steve to see what he was thinking. Steve gave him an encouraging nod. He knew Steve believed in this man but he knew from history that a lot of things happened during the war that otherwise never would have been considered. He wasn’t about to give information away that could jeopardize anyone even demons. “Why do you need to know since you obviously have the facts from the others? Why do I need to say anything?”
“Because we are at war and every security risk needs to be checked out. And right now…you…are…a security risk.” Steve went to protest but Phillips’ glare shut him up. “My men were attacked by strange beings last night. Beings you somehow knew and seemed quite familiar with. From the reports at least one of them seemed to know you in return. So I ask again what happened with my men last night.” The colonel growled.
Xander’s eyes narrowed and he looked closer at the colonel. “You know what they were, don’t you. That’s obvious. What I don’t get is why it is so important for me to admit to it. What is the U.S. military’s interest exactly? What is the information going to be used for?”
Steve and Phillips were both taken aback because the young man before them was no longer easy going. His demeanor suddenly screamed fighter without him moving a muscle. He spoke with such vehemence and determination that they realized this was no ordinary civilian. There was far more to him that was apparent on first glance.
Steve tried reasoning with Xander, “The colonel is just trying to get to the truth, Xander. That’s all. The more information we have the better we can prepare the men to protect themselves from future attacks.”
Xander turned to look at Steve. “Really? If I told him the truth then that will go up the chain of command in some report. Who knows what ideas someone will get?” His glare returned to the colonel. “I’d probably end up disappearing and be held somewhere to be interrogated. I don’t think I want to put myself through that kind of nightmare.” He looked once again at Steve hoping he’d understand. “Some people aren’t always looking to accomplish the greater good in ethical ways. Expedience in battle is always the easier path to follow when people are feeling desperate.”
“But Xander you said last night and just now. That Spike and Drusilla were dangerous. If you know of any ways we can stop them from harming others then you should.” Steve pleaded.
Xander sighed and rubbed his eyes. He looked to Colonel Phillips, “Who has files on them? What do they want with them?” Then turning back to Steve he said, “I told you I would answer as honestly as I could about what I could tell you and knew. I also said I wasn’t going to compromise anyone’s safety and that included my own.” He turned back to Phillips waiting for an answer to his questions.
Phillips could tell that the boy wasn’t going to back down. Maybe if he gave a little bit of information the boy would slip and give him what he wanted to know. “One of our other research divisions, they were the ones to put out a warning about them. I have no clue what they want with them.”
“Fuck!” Xander’s exclamation surprised the room’s occupants.
Xanders mind spun with the ramifications of what the colonel had said. The Initiative already existed in some form even now. Eventually they would change and morph over the years into what would invaded Sunnydale and create the Adam monster. He couldn’t give them information on anything demonic that could be used in the future. He’d have to see if there was some way to reduce what they had now so they had less in the future. He knew he couldn’t totally stop them without messing up the future timeline. But if he could lessen their knowledge pool maybe Adam wouldn’t be as difficult to fight in the future. The only way that he could even begin to change that would be by joining with Captain America and his team. Just like Dru predicted. Xander tried to weigh the pros and cons of what to say and do when his attention was brought back to the room’s occupants.
“Mr. Harris,” Phillips snapped displeased.
“Xander, Are you okay?” Steve asked concerned.
Xander looked between the two men and then settled his gaze on Phillips. “I will tell you about how I came to be here. But first you need to turn off and destroy the tape recordings you have of this and every conversation in regards to last night.” His voice was deadly serious in his demand.
“Who do you think you are to demand something like that of me? I can have you locked up and put away for a long time until you are willing to cooperate.” Phillips threatened.
“Sir is that really necessary. I don’t think threatening Harris will get us anywhere.” Steve implored.
“He can try but it won’t work. I’d rather die first before I’d break a confidence and put others at risk. So which will it be? Put me in lock up and I’ll find a way to die rather than tell? Or trust me just enough to hear me out without making a record of what I say and what I’ve already done.” Xander stared the colonel down easily.
Phillips was dumbstruck. The look in the young man’s eyes was that of a man who has faced death and made friends with it. They weren’t the eyes of a young man just realizing the realities of life. They were the eyes of a combat veteran that had seen the worse things imaginable. One who had walked through the fires and survived. Against his better judgment he did as asked. “Okay, I’ll take the bait. But if I don’t like what you’re saying expect me to have you in the brig faster than you can stand.” He reached into a draw on his desk and turned off the recorder and pulled the reels off to put on the desk.
Xander reached over, grabbed the reels and started to pull the tape off while crumbling it in his hands. “Is there an ashtray and match I can use?” He kept undoing the reels.
Steve looked to Phillips who nodded over at a table that had an ashtray. He got up and brought it back over. Phillips plopped a box of matches down next to it when he put it on the desk.
“Thanks,” Xander was intent on his task but still started his tale. “I’m not from around here. Yes, I was born and raised in Sunnydale, California but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Since you know of Spike and Dru I’m assuming that this research division of yours is aware of demons. Well back where I’m from I got attacked by a demon and killed it. No problem until two weeks later its mate found me and cursed me with magic.” Xander lit a match and touched it to the tape crumpled in the ashtray.
“If you accept that there are demons then you must be ready to accept that magic comes along with them as well. This demon wanted to remove me from all I was familiar with and knew. It’s my belief that by doing so it wanted to get me killed in a strange place where I knew no one and probably couldn’t speak the language.” Xander poked at the fire to make sure all of the tape burnt. “Unfortunately magic rarely works the way it should around me. So instead of ending up in a strange land where I couldn’t speak the language, I ended up here in London in a bombed out house.”
Colonel Phillips and Steve couldn’t believe the story they were hearing. It almost defied belief but considering the amount of weirdness they’d seen and read about Hydra they gave it the benefit of a doubt.
“I had been walking for well over an hour when I heard your people, colonel. I can’t even tell you how far and from which direction as some times I had to go around streets and debris. All I knew was that I followed the sounds of Big Ben and the chimes until it grew louder to my hearing. When I noticed that I was getting closer to a business district I was happy. I was hoping to find someone who could help me get my bearings. Instead I found your two men, Bucky and Stark, being lead into danger.” Xander looked away from the dying embers of the last bit of fire. His gaze locked with Phillips, “What you need to understand is that back home we protect those being preyed on. So I couldn’t just stand by and watch as your men died when I could have done something. It’s not who I am or have ever been.”
I’m not a security risk to you or anyone else under your command. I just want to find a way to get a message back home. Hopefully shortly after it’s sent I’ll be able to go back home. All I want at this very moment is to get back home to my friends who need me.” Xander finished on a weary note.
Steve looked over at Phillips with determination in his gaze. He believed Xander’s story and understood the longing to return home and to family. “I’ll help you in whatever way I can.” The super soldier had just set his sights on something. No matter who or what he was going to go up against. The same way he’d went against orders and rescued those prisoners from the Hydra base.
Phillips sighed at Rogers’ declaration. “Harris, I’m assuming you don’t want anyone to know anything about your arrival or predicament. I’m also assuming there’s probably more to your story that you aren’t telling us. I respect that. I do. I understand you not wanting to compromise others. I have to tell you son, I got the feeling that you wanting to get word back home isn’t as simple as picking up the phone or sending a telegraph. So I have no clue how to help you.” Phillips finished in exasperation.
Xander let out a sigh of relief that the colonel was willing to help instead of hinder him. “Your assumptions would be correct. And no, contacting home isn’t as easy as a phone call away. What I need is to talk to someone familiar with London, sir. That way I can make the right connections to get word back home.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Unfortunately, I don’t know how long I’ll still be here after my message gets sent. I can return home almost instantly or it may take a little bit. Then again I may be stuck here if they can’t figure it out. If that’s the case then I’ll need the proper papers to be able to live here indefinitely. I wouldn’t be able to return to the states.” He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat at that thought.
Colonel Phillips gave the young man an assessing look. He reviewed all that the young man had said and what he’d been able to puzzle together. This was a man that wasn’t able to sit by and do nothing about the injustices he saw. He was also fearless in that pursuit even to his own detriment. There was no way he was cutting this young man loose to be on his own. He could be a valuable asset at some point. “Let’s see about getting word back to your friends and family. We’ll see what happens afterwards. How’s that sound?” Phillips gave a small smile.
Xander nodded, “Sure, that’s what I was thinking of doing anyways. Send the message wait a few days then figure out where to go from there.” Relief coursed through him, things were looking up. He knew he wasn’t out of the woods yet but at least he’d get a chance to work on his plan.
“Colonel, if it’s alright with you, Harris can keep bunking with Bucky and I while he waits for news from home.” Steve offered as a way to help Xander stay with someone familiar.
“Why that’s an excellent idea, captain. You may want to take him down to the PX and get him a change of clothes at least. I’m sure he’d appreciate it.” Phillips filled out paperwork that would allow reimbursement for the clothing. “Bring this back to me filled out with the amounts and what was bought. I’ll push it through.” He held out a sheet for Rogers to take.
“Thank you, sir.” Steve took the paper and stood up.
“Um…thanks.” Xander added as he too stood up.
“Dismissed,” Phillips ordered.
Both Xander and Steve saluted and replied “Yes, sir.” Almost as one they turned and left the office together leaving behind an intrigued colonel intently thinking.