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One Tin Soldier


Part Twenty-Six

Xander hadn't been released from the hospital yet, but that didn't save him from having to do paperwork. Even after twelve years of practice, paperwork was nothing more than a royal pain in the ass.

But there were reports to be signed off, requisitions to approve, rosters and schedules to update and service jackets to do through. And then the thing he hated the most... evaluations.

Personally, Xander thought evaluations were a bunch of crap, but the Army used them to determine who was advanced and who wasn't, even who would be allowed to re-enlist.

All the people in the Squad were top of the line, there were none better. Xander would be more than willing to put his people up against any special forces team out there. But the very things that made the Squad so good also made them piss poor soldiers, as far as the regular Army was concerned anyway.

Over seventy-five percent of the Squad had some kind of disciplinary action permanently recorded in their jackets. The rest were known as 'non-movers', people who would be 'encouraged' to leave the Army at the end of their enlistment. Usually by giving them total shit orders to some of the worst bases the Army had to offer.

The regular Army hot shots that tried for the Squad never made it past the first engagement. None of them had gotten themselves killed, but it had been close, too close, on many occasions. Pissing your pants was understandable in some of the situations the Squad found themselves in, but you still had to be able to act. Not just stand there like an idiot.

Jamison had been in the stockade when Xander had heard about the man. Jamison had one major fault. The man couldn't stand an idiot. Non-Comms, generals, Gods or demons, it didn't matter. If Jamison thought you were an idiot, he'd tell you about it. Hence his stay in the stockade. That four star just didn't have a sense of humor.

But Jamison's saving grace was his ability to cut through the bullshit and get to the heart of the matter. The man was a logistical genius. Since Jamison had joined the Squad, moral had improved and injuries had decreased. But to Xander, the most important thing was Jamison's honesty. Xander trusted his Sgt. explicitly, so did every other member of the Squad. Even Nelson.

Nelson was the Squad's only real hardcase. He'd been sent to the stockade no less than seven times for fighting. Or more accurately, kicking somebody's ass. Nelson wasn't really that big, actually, he was kinda small. Only 5'8" and about 150 lbs, Nelson looked like just another guy. There were no bulging muscles, or kick ass tattoos. Even his scars were minimal, and more the result of average wear and tear than any major trauma.

But Nelson could take on a vampire hand to hand and come out on top, as Spike had found out the hard way. To say that Spike had been impressed would be a serious understatement. The British vampire had even gone so far as to teach Nelson even more dirty tricks. Just what Nelson didn't need. By rights, and all rules and regulations, Nelson should have been dishonorably discharged years ago. But as long as Xander was in charge of the Squad, Nelson wasn't going any where.

Nelson had been with the Squad since the very beginning, one of only five men, including Xander, that had stuck it out this long. And it was up to Xander to make sure that Nelson's evals kept the regular Army off Nelson's back.

So, lying in his hospital bed, Xander prepared to perpetrate yet another lie, for the good of the nation, of course. But God was smiling today, before he could actually get started, Spike stuck his head in the door.

"Those lawyer blokes Marshall called are here."

Xander dumped the files on the floor next to the bed and practically levitated to the door, a huge grin on his face, "Well, let's not keep them waiting."

Spike shook his head, "You're a weird one, you are, Harris. Don't see what's got you so chipper about seeing lawyers. This isn't going to be easy, you know."

Xander shrugged, "It'll be a Hell of a lot easier than finishing that paperwork, trust me."


AJ grinned when he caught sight of his friend. Extending his hand he said, "you're looking pretty good these days, Ben. Life must be treating you right."

Ben clasped the offered hand warmly, "Not too bad, for the most part, but I'll feel a lot better when this mess is behind us."

AJ went back into his box and Admiral Chedwiggan, the leading lawyer in the Navy, came forward. With a nod at his aide, he said, "This is Lt. Cmdr Roberts, he'll be assisting me."

Ben nodded in greeting, "Cmdr."

Bud, who'd always had trouble keeping a military mindset, fought back the smile aching to come out and merely replied, "General. It's an honor to meet you, Sir."

"Let's head to the conference room, gentlemen. We have a lot of ground to cover. The others will meet us there."

"Will we be meeting Ms. Rosenburg today, General?" Roberts asked.

Marshall shook his head, "Not today. Tomorrow maybe."

Chedwiggan frowned, "We should really meet our client before we do anything else, Ben."

Marshall sighed and scrubbed his hands across his face, suddenly looking ten years older. "We've moved her out of the containment cells and placed her in a special lockdown ward in the hospital. Her companion, Ms. Tara McClay, has insisted on accompanying her. All charges against Ms. McClay, as well as a Ms. Buffy Summers, have been summarily dropped."

"Why?" AJ wanted to know.

"We'll tell you everything, AJ. We're going to tell you more than you ever wanted to know."

The men were silent for the remainder of the journey to the secure conference room where the others were waiting.

Marshall made short work of the introductions. "This is Major Alexander Harris, leader of the 'Death Squad'." Chedwiggan and Roberts nodded, both men surprised by how young the infamous Major was. "This is Mr. Rupert Giles and Ms. Buffy Summers," Marshall continued, pointing out the only two civilians in the room.

Polite greetings were offered in quiet voices. Then Marshall introduced the final person, or rather, tried to. Roberts got one look at the blonde man in the black uniform and went pale. Then his mouth fell open. A split second later, the Lt. Cmdr. was across the room, moving with a speed and agility that gave lie to the fact that he was considered 'disabled'.

With an awe struck voice, Roberts said, "William the Bloody. You're William the Bloody."

Spike quirked a scarred brow, "Yeah. Heard of me, have you?"

Chedwiggan, never a man who appreciated being kept in the dark, snarled, "Roberts!"

Roberts turned with a huge smile on his face, "Sir! It's William the Bloody!"

Ben, who'd had the misfortune of being on AJ Chedwiggan's bad side, more than once in the last twenty five years, tried to head his friend off at the pass.

"AJ, this is Captain William Bloodwell of her Majesty's Special Forces."

Spike wiggled his fingers at the obviously irate Admiral. "Ta, ducks. Charmed I'm sure."

Xander snickered at Spike's tone while Marshall just rolled his eyes. There were days he regretted getting out of bed. This looked to be one of them.

When Roberts heard Spike's rank and branch, his eyes went wide again. "A Captain in the British Special Forces?"

Spike absently checked his nails, "Yeah. Only the best for Bessie, don't you know."

"But... but... you're a vampire!"

Everyone in the immediate vicinity heard the roar. "Roberts!"

"But, Admiral, he is. A vampire, I mean. He's famous!" Roberts paused with a slight frown, "Or infamous I guess. It depends on who you're talking to." Roberts boyish grin returned with a vengeance. "He was part of the Scourge of Europe. He, personally, caused untold hate and discontent across the continent. Then he moved onto China. The devastation was almost total."

Chedwiggan could feel the veins in his head bulge under the pressure pounding through his skull. "Roberts, I swear to God... "

Marshall grabbed his friend's arm, "AJ, calm down. I told you things were a little strange around here."

AJ jerked away from Ben's grasp, "A little strange? Roberts thinks he's talking to a vampire!"

The Captain moved around Roberts with a move that shouldn't have been humanly possible. As he got closer, his face started to change. His brow jutted out impossibly far. His eyes, which had been a bright blue, shifted to a malevolent yellow. But the most disturbing thing was the man's teeth. Far longer than they had been, they now ended in jagged points.

Once he was within touching distance, the Captain stopped his advance. "Yeah, mate, I'm a bloody vampire. You got a problem with that?" Spike hissed through his fangs.

Chedwiggan had never backed down from anyone, ever. But at this moment, in this place, he dearly wanted to. "If Ben doesn't have a problem with that, I guess I don't," Chedwiggan said with practiced calm. "But that still doesn't explain Roberts behavior."

Spike turned to look at his 'fan'. "True. How do you know so much about me?"

Bud grinned and practically bounced in eagerness. "That's easy. We're cousins. On my Mom's side."

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