Title : Home Again
Author : Tenhawk
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners... none of which are me. If they knew what they were doing I wouldn't have to write this stuff.
Summary: Sequel to Journeys. Xander and Jarod settle into Sunnydale for a little rest, but trouble soon calls them back to work. This time, they need a little help.
Warning : I'm a B/Xer and this will be a B/X fic, but NOT FOR A WHILE. It will be X/Others in friendships and relationships for the first part of the story. Expect to see Buffy/Riley at one point as well... but I swear to God above that absolutely NO Buffy/Spike crap will be found within. (What kind of sicko thought that up anyway? Don't get me wrong, I liked Spike... until Buffy lost what little sanity she had.)
Warning : Crossovers ahead. (Yes Plural.)
Rating : PG-13 to PG-16; for cursing, violence, and demonic horror content... in other words a bit more grown up then the series... but only cause I don't have to suck up to censors.
Sunnydale, California - November 10th '99
"Hey Jarod," Xander stared at the massive amount of construction going on at the building they had purchased. "What the hell did you tell them to do?"
"Nothing much," Jarod smiled, "They're reinforcing the basement, the walls, the ceiling, the internal load-bearing structures, and all the doors and windows. I've contracted a technology firm to wire the house for an internal network and secure communication links, and the blue van is owned by an internal security specialist I helped out a few months ago."
Xander's jaw dropped, "Holy hell, Jarod. Why didn't you just have them rip it down and build a whole new building?"
Jarod shrugged, "Too many people around here would be curious as to what was going on. I employed contractors that owe me favors. They won't be free with the information, as far as anyone else is concerned this is a pretty standard renovation job. Which the place needed, I might add."
Xander nodded, that he could agree with. The building was an old brownstone apartment building about three blocks from the College, two stories of classic architecture that had seen better days. He had picked it up for a song after the previous owners, a college frat that had been known for their loud parties, had been forced out by the town. They had let the place run down to the point where it might have been condemned if an inspector had ever actually dared enter while it had been occupied.
He'd eyed the place for several days before making his decision, and had still been uncertain for days after he'd closed the deal, but it was turning out all right with Jarod's help. The outside had already been redone from top to bottom, and the contractors were laying the new flooring as they spoke.
"I hope you know what your doing...." Xander trailed off as Jarod just stared at him with some amusement. "Oh. Right... never mind."
Jarod chuckled under his breath, "Now we just have to figure out exactly what we're going to be doing with it."
"That I have some ideas on, J-man."
Jarod looked at him sharply, "You'll have to do better then that if your intention is to bother me like you do Mr. Giles."
Xander grinned and turned away, heading for the car. "Give me time. I'll find your soft spot."
Jarod shook his head and joined Xander at the mustang.
Sighing, Rupert Giles straightened from his books and stared at the two men who had just burst into his apartment. "How many times must I ask you to stop calling me that?"
"I don't know... why don't you try again, and we'll see if you've reached the magic number?" Xander smirked and hopped over the back of a chair, dropping into the large seat as he stared at the scattering of books across Giles' coffee table. He nodded politely to Riley, who was staring at him from the couch, and looked back to Giles. "We on Armageddon alert, or is it just a minor catastrophe?"
Giles pulled his glasses off his nose an wiped them distractedly, leaving Riley to answer for him "Buffy and I asked Giles to help up look for more information on the Yautja thing that came through here."
Giles coughed. Xander actually laughed. And Jarod looked confused.
"Yautja? Isn't that-" Jarod started.
Xander cut him off, "A 'demon' that Buffy *kicked the living crap out of* a few days ago."
Jarod stared at Xander for a few seconds, understanding dawning on his face. "Oh."
Riley watched the byplay with some interest. They know something... what?
"Forget about the Yautja, man." Xander said, "He's a hunter. By now he's blown town."
"Ummm... Yes." Giles added, "That would seem to agree with what I've found. By this time he has acquired his trophies and has moved on."
Riley nodded slowly, "Ok. I guess that's a good thing, since I didn't want to be the one who tried to eliminate him as per Walsh's orders."
"Walsh?" Xander asked, curious.
"Professor Walsh," Giles answered, "a very... headstrong woman."
Xander smirked, the term headstrong wasn't a compliment form Giles. "Professor? She's giving you orders? What rank is she?"
"She's the civilian researcher in charge of the project."
If Xander's jaw hadn't been firmly attached, it would have hit the ground, literally. "Civilian? You take order from a civvie? Man, I KNEW there was something I didn't like about you guys."
Riley straightened, his back stiffening at the tone Xander had used. At that point Buffy returned form one of the back rooms, "What are you talking about, Xander?"
Xander managed to keep from wincing under her accusing tone, "Putting civilians in charge of a military unit is bad mojo, Buffster. The only thing worse is a civilian *researcher* in charge of military unit."
"Why?" Buffy's tone had warmed slightly, and was now more curious.
"Civilians don't understand how a military operation is run. And, worse, they don't care. A civilian researcher is even worse because most of them lose sight of the road while they're watching for the destination. A damned dangerous attitude when you're driving a tank I might add."
Jarod and Giles were nodding in agreement, but Buffy was shaking her head. "Professor Walsh isn't like that. She cares."
Xander just looked at her steadily, "I think the question you have to ask, Buff, is 'what does she care about'."
Of the group only Riley, surprisingly, was staying out of the discussion. His gaze was instead directed toward Jarod, "Excuse me, but who the hell is that?"
Xander started, glancing at Jarod guiltily, "Jeeez... did I forget the intro's?"
Buffy and Riley nodded.
"Sorry guys," Xander extended his hand toward Jarod, "This is Jarod. We met in Colorado at the end of the summer, took down a demon worshiping cult in Billings together. Good times. Jarod, this is Buffy Summers and Riley Finn. Local demon bashers."
"Cool." Jarod said simply, having already been told all about the two.
Buffy raised an eyebrow, "Great. Another Oz."
Xander snickered, "Naw, he's no wolf-man."
"Wolf-man?" Jarod and Riley asked simultaneously.
"A werewolf friend of ours. Nothing ever phased the guy... You could drop a nuke in his lap and his last word would be 'cool'."
"I see." Jarod said, smiling slightly.
Riley didn't say anything for a long moment, "You guys were friends with a werewolf?"
Xander looked at him surprise, "Yeah, why? Hell we even had a vamp as a frie..." He dropped off fast as Buffy glared at him.
Riley's eyes widened, "You guys let a vampire live around you!?"
Xander shrugged, "Special case. The guy was an annoying putz," he winced under Buffy's redoubled glare, "But he was one of the good guys. He had a soul."
Xander looked Riley in the eyes for a moment, "Let's just say that if you're smart, you'll make it a point to never EVER tick off a gypsy tribe. They are real pricks when it comes to revenge."
Riley just sort of stared back blankly for a second, "I'll try to remember that."
After a brief silence Buffy turned back to Xander, still glaring. "What happened in Billings? You swore to use that you'd stay out of trouble."
Xander held up his hands, "hey! Not my fault, what was I supposed to do? This psycho bitch was summoning a demon to help her play the markets... Only catch was the thirteen people she had to kill to repay him. I sure as hell wasn't going to let her get away with it."
Buffy kept glaring, but held her tongue. Xander could no more walk away from thirteen lives then she could walk away from being a slayer.
"Anyway," Xander turned back to Giles, "You have those lists I asked for G-man?"
"What? Oh... ummm... yes. Here they are." Giles passed him a thin sheaf of papers.
"Thanks," Xander got up to leave, "Oh, and you guys are all invited to the house warming party in...?" he looked to Jarod for help.
"Four days." Jarod smiled, "We'll drop the address off with Mr. Giles for you. Feel free to bring a friend or two."
With that the two men left the small apartment, and its three occupants alone.
"May I ask what's on the list?" Jarod asked as they hopped back into the mustang.
Jarod waited a long time but no answer was forthcoming. He silently reviewed his words and groaned slightly to himself. "What is on the list?" He grated out, keeping his own chuckles buried.
Xander grinned, "Contacts for old books and tomes, as G-man calls 'em. I figured we could do with a research library to supplement what Giles has. Oh, and there should be a couple CD's in there too... The stuff we copied to computer a couple years ago."
"Excellent." Jarod said as he looked over the suppliers list. "Do they deliver?"
Xander grinned, "Some of them teleport the damned stuff to your home, but expect to pay for the service."
"Teleport?" Jarod's eyes perked up, "Really? Now this I must see."
Xander shook his head and lifted his cell phone, hitting an autodial button as Jarod drove them toward UC Sunnydale.
"Terry?" Xander grinned, "Yeah, its me. Look, I'm looking for some stuff. No... no... NO! Hell man, I don't need to take down a tank... ummm... on second though, yeah I might."
Xander shook his head, "Look, just some smaller stuff for now. Uh huh... really? That's interesting. You know anyone in the LA area who can supply that? Cool. Yep. I'll have a delivery address e-mailed to you. Cool. Say, I'm looking for an armorer who can make up some custom ammunition for those... really? He any good? Cool. Ok, I'll check him out. Thanks. You too man. Cya."
Xander hung up the phone and grinned at Jarod, "I think we may just be in the demon hunting business."
Jarod didn't say anything, he just shook his head slightly and wondered what Sidney and Broots would have to say about this when Miss Parker got back with them.
Later that night
Xander glanced in the fridge, and frowned. "Jeez Jarod, do you eat anything *but* sweets?"
Jarod looked at Xander as if he'd just said something absolutely insane. "Excuse me? Aren't you the one who lived on nothing but twinkies for seventeen years?"
Xander shut the fridge and stared at Jarod suspiciously, "All right, who have you been talking too?"
"Willow." Jarod said simply, "Once she gets started it takes quite a lot to get her to stop talking..."
Xander snickered. "Tell me about it. Anyway, to answer your question I can't eat sweets anymore... Taste sickens me."
Jarod raised his eyebrows in question, "Really?"
Xander grimaced as he tossed on his shoulder leather, snapping the twin colts into place. "You try living off what you can find on alien worlds for over three months then come back to civilization. I tried to eat a burger at a fast food joint in San Francisco while I was hanging with Phoebe and damned near threw up. Sweets are too rich for me now."
"Oh." Jarod watched as Xander snapped the japanese short sword into place in an inverted sling behind his back. "Sorry about that."
Xander shrugged, "No big. I'm working my way back into 'normal' food, but its taking longer then I'd like. I know a decent grocery not too far from here, I'll only be a few minutes."
Jarod looked out the window as Xander shrugged into a black trench coat, "Why are you wearing that?"
Xander grinned, "Are you kidding me? With all these weapons I need something guaranteed to keep the cops off of me."
Jarod's eyes narrowed, "I would think that seeing someone in a long black trench coat would tend to attract police attention."
"Not in Sunnydale. Most people in town see something like this and you may as well be invisible, no one wants to take a chance at attracting the attentions of a vamp."
Jarod shook his head, "That seems... wrong somehow."
Xander shrugged, heading out the door. Jarod could hear his last words just as the door shut behind him, "Tell me about it."
Xander smirked as he left the grocery store, the cashier had watched him nervously the whole time he'd been there... until he bought actual food at any rate. He chuckled at the cashiers irate reaction as the door closed behind him.
Poor guy, I probably shouldn't have smiled at him like that.
Xander chuckled again and hefted the two grocery bags as he started the walk back to his home. He hadn't gotten two blocks when a five teens dressed exactly like him stepped out of the shadows and surrounded him.
"Uh... hey guys. Nice night huh?" Xander shifted his grip on the groceries and eyed the five 'people'. Vamps. My night just took a turn for the worse.
The leader of the group stepped forward and leered. "Check out Mr. Cool. Think we should help him with his bags?"
"Mr. Cool?" Xander grinned, and slowly kneeled down, depositing his groceries on the floor. "Don't think anyone ever called me that before. Too bad it don't mean much coming from Mr.'s Dead, Dying, and Doomed."
"Smart ass." The leader growled, as he shifted to his game face. "Get him!"
Xander shifted to a combat stance as the five vamps tightened the circle.
Buffy Summers was finishing up her patrol when she heard the sounds of a fight a block and a half away. She shifted direction instantly and headed toward to noise to investigate. As she caught sight of the combatants she instantly recognized Xander as one of them, and the rest as vampires.
She broke into a run, moving quickly to help her friend, when she saw something that caused her to stumble to a stunned stop.
A short distance from the fight the occupants of a black van were watching the scuffle develop.
"We should help him!"
"No." A second voice answered, "I want to see how this turns out."
"I won't allow you to let him die."
"Relax. I'm just interested to see if the kid's got the balls for this shit."
The group grew silent as they watched the fight shift into high gear.
The vampire behind him rushed forward and grabbed Xander in a crushing bear hug as the other four closed in on his front and sides. Xander jumped up, using the vamp at his back as leverage and slammed his combat boots into the faces of two of the vampires at his front, sending them staggering back from the blow.
His legs swept back down, spread wide, and passed behind the vamp that was holding him. Xander hooked his legs into the vamps, catching him behind the knees and buckling the creatures legs as he applied pressure. Xander straightened his body and kicked down, driving the vampire's knees into the sidewalk with Xander full weight behind each kneecap. Even Xander winced at the double pop that sounded when the vamps kneecaps busted against the concrete. He didn't let it slow him down though as he drove his head back into the vampires face and mashed the creatures features to an unrecognizable pulp.
The creature's arms loosened and Xander wrenched free, lashing out with a heavy kick at the next closest vamp that was grabbing for him. The creatures shinbone splintered under the powerful kick, dropping the undead being to the sidewalk in pain.
That left one vamp that was too close for comfort.
Xander spun around, still crouched down and caught a glimpse of the demonic visage inches from his face. He ducked his head and straightened up, climbing to his feet as fast as he could, mashing the vamp's face with the top of his own skull.
"My nose!" The vampire fell back, screaming as it held its face, "You broke my nose!"
Xander reached under his coat, drawing the twin Colts from shoulder leather and sweeping them up at the first two vamps he had nailed.
"Guns don't hurt us, mortal." The first sneered.
Xander's own smile was a death's head grin, "Suppose not. But if you don't mind, I'll try 'em out anyway."
"Be my guest." the vampire smiled, and spread his arms in invitation.
"Idiot." Xander said and pulled the trigger, putting a round into each vamp at less than ten feet.
The two vamps grunted at the impact, and grinned at Xander for a few seconds. "Told ya. Bullets are useless agai......."
The vampire trailed off, then broke into screams of pain as he began smoking form the inside out. Both were screaming in pain now, as jets of flame erupted from under their skin and burned through their clothes. A few seconds later and the two were dust in the wind.
Xander turned back to the three vampires who were still clutching at broken bones and damaged flesh. "I'd tell you to be more careful who you mess with in the future, but..." Xander shrugged and put a magnesium bullet into each of them before slipping the colts back into leather. He then bent down, picked up his groceries, and walked away.
He ignored the screams behind him as the flares kicked in, and just shook his head in disgust when they died out. "What a waste. One of 'em was a pretty good football player in highschool."
He checked his walk as he heard a hesitant voice from behind him.
The first voice sounded smug when it spoke, "He good enough for you?"
The second was unchanged, no hint of emotion present. "He'll do. Arrange the fucking meeting."
A third voice came from the back of the van. "I wonder what he is packing in those pistols anyway?"
"I don't know, but I fucking hope he has some more at home." This time a smile could be heard in the first man's voice, even if it couldn't be seen on his shadowed face.
"Hey Buff." Xander said, slightly nervous as he shifted his grip on the groceries.
"Xander." Buffy was looking at him oddly. "I was going to help you, but I couldn't get to you in time."
"No worries, Buffster." Xander smiled slightly, restraining the impulse to smirk. "I had it under control."
"So." Xander shifted again.
"So." Buffy kept looking at him strangely.
"I'm heading home, care to come along?"
Buffy was silent a moment, "Huh? Oh... yeah." then she smiled, "You mean I get to see your place before the party?"
Xander shrugged, "Why not? The repairs are mostly done now, me and Jarod are just working on some of the fine points."
"Sounds very chic." Buffy grinned as the two started walking toward Xander's place. "So... Where did you learn to fight like that anyway? AND since when to you carry guns!?"
Xander winced, "Long story...?"
Buffy folded her arms and glared at him.
"...Which I'll be happy to tell you." he finished lamely. "Let's get home first."
Jarod heard talking from the front door and looked up from the newspaper he was studying. "Xander?"
"Hey, J-man." Xander yelled as he kicked off his combat boots. "Just me and the Buffster."
"Ahh... Buffy," Jarod smiled, "Good to see you again. Welcome to our humble abode."
"Thanks Jarod," Buffy smiled as she looked around. "I thought this place was falling down after Beta Thi were kicked out."
"It was." Xander grinned. "But its better now."
"I can see that." She noticed the new work done all through the interior. "The campus is buzzing about who took this place over, everyone thinks it's a software company or something."
Jarod smiled. "Well, I have been known to market the occasional computer program."
Buffy stared at Jarod for a second, then turned to Xander. "Is he serious?"
Xander shrugged, "I can never tell. Come on, the living room is through here."
The three people were settled into their chairs and talking earnestly. Or rather one of them was.
"So you learned to fight like that from the Halloween incident?"
Xander shrugged, "Mostly yeah. It comes back to me in flashes when I'm in trouble, or really stressed out. Pretty handy."
"I guess." Buffy stared at her friend.
"Uh... excuse me?" Jarod interrupted, "but... 'Halloween incident'?"
Xander snorted, "Sorry Jarod, we forget sometimes that everyone wasn't here during that. A couple years back some of us made the mistake of buying our Halloween costumes from a Chaos Mage. Bad plan if you want a peaceful night of trick or treating."
Buffy grimaced, "I dressed up as a old aristocrat... spent the entire night screaming and running from my own shadow."
Xander snickered at the memory, at least until Buffy through a pillow off the couch at him. "Watch it Buff, or I'll tell Riley about that night."
Buffy looked at him for a moment longer before backing down with a laugh, "you win. For now."
Xander laughed too, enjoying the back and forth he had missed over the last few months. "Anyway, I grabbed a set of used fatigues... don't know why he had actual army fatigues in the store... probably had to scrounge up some extra costumes on short notice or something. Long story short, I spent the night running around like G.I. Joe on steroids."
"G.I. Joe?" Jarod asked, almost tentatively.
Buffy looked at him as if he had two heads and Xander groaned. "You know J-man, we're really going to have to get you up to speed on the classics."
Buffy started giggling as Jarod just looked even more confused.