Mind Games.

John looked up when the frustration hit him.  Tony was probably doing the same since he could feel him sending calming feelings toward Xander.  He sent back a helpful suggestion of his own.  //Ask Cleveland if they can get rid of it for you.  If they ask, tell them Jack O'Neill gave it to you for your help in cleaning the weapons out of Sunnydale.//  Xander sent back that he had done that but no one was going to touch it.  //Demon bank?//  He smirked at the frustrated groan.  //Have fun talking to Angel.//  He blocked them out again, going back to his current leave requests.  He had one too many to go and all of them had family things.  That wasn't going to sit well with Woolsey.  He walked it in there.  "I'm not going to tell some guy he can't go see his brother being born or anything like that."

"I have six too many that're claiming family events too," he complained.

"Then check to see if we can send off more."  He walked off, going to find someone.  Xander was crowing.  So something was looking good out there.  He heard the base's alarm, heading to the area where the alert had come from.  He found a dead body.  "Aw, crap!  Woolsey, need you on the south pier."  He squatted to look at it, grimacing.  Long dead.  His day just got shit-tastic.   Woolsey jogged out.  John moved.  "You can see the intrusion."

"Well, get him up here."

"We can't move it, Woolsey.  Cops get pissed at that."  He gave him a dirty look but John stared back.  "Get a JAG person or an NCIS person or hey, even a CID person."

"We don't have one."

John thought at Tony, getting a recommendation from Gibbs.  "Call the local JAG guy named Pierson.  He's uptight but Gibbs trained with him and he's got a pretty high rating."


"Because otherwise we have to let cops onto Atlantis to bag him up," John said.  "Or we're in trouble.  That's the way the law works."


"Andana Pierson.  JAG."

"I'll look them up.  Pull the body up and cover it."

"That we can do," John agreed, helping do that.  The medical team covered it and John posted a guard.

Woolsey went inside to call.  He started with the general.  "Sir, we have a small issue."

"What now?" he asked, almost complaining.  The rest of the IOA had been giving him fits for days.  He was about to zat them all.  At least Woolsey had learned better most of the time.

"We just had a dead body wash up."

"That's bad.  What's the suggested idea?"

"Sheppard complained about my idea of handing the body to the police.  Said they'd want to come out.  He talked to DiNozzo, who got a recommendation of an Andana Pierson from the local JAG office."

General Landry considered it then nodded.  "That'll work.  Let me look him up."  He turned to his computer, staring at the rating.  "Yeah, he's got a very high rating.  He's worked cases on the base before.  Have Sheppard personally escort him so he can't go anywhere he shouldn't."

"Yes, General."  He hung up and called over the comm system.  "Sheppard, pick him up, escort him there and back to the mainland.  No deviation."

"Of course not."  He walked off shaking his head.  There were days he almost missed dealing with flying in space against the wraith.  He took the puddle jumper to the mainland's meeting area, landing and getting out to wait on the guy.   He was prompt.  He was also a demon.  John stared at him while Xander babbled about their species.  "Do you eat the bad guys?" he asked finally.  "So I know before we get back?"

"No, I feed off their negative emotions.  It stuns them."

"Then that's cool."  He let him into the shuttle.  "Were you briefed?"


"We're going to the base, it's closed in a diversion shield.  A body just washed up."

"That's reasonable."

"Woolsey wanted to fly the body over and hand him over."

"No, that's beyond protocol even for the military."

John took off, leveling off and heading back.  "I'm to escort you there and back.  If you need our med team, just ask."

"I can do that."  He watched the water.  It was nice.  The ship....well he'd heard of those things from his mother's family legends.  He wasn't going to even wonder.  People who wondered about classified military projects like this got conscripted.  Or disappeared.  They landed and he followed John out, glancing up.  "It's pretty."  He followed him to the body, nodding at the two guards.  "Thank you, boys.  Let me see."  He squatted down, uncovering the head of the body.  "Looks like he's been in the water for a few days.  Let's get the medical team to bag him up please, Colonel?"

"Sure.  Med team, can you please bag him?" he called over the comm.  He watched what he was doing.  Bodies weren't pretty that long dead.  Xander was keeping him calm.  Tony too.  The medical team came out with a body bag for him, doing it up.  "Let's get him to the shuttle."

"That'll work.  I'll call the local people to the meeting area to come collect him," Pierson said with a nod and a small grin.  They walked it to the shuttle on a gurney and got back inside.  Once John took off he looked at the young man.  "You've got a lot of negative feelings on base," he warned.

"We've just started to grant leave," John admitted.   "We're working on it."  He glanced at him.  "Resentment?"

"No, anger.  I don't know why but there was a lot of it, Sheppard."  He checked the body then looked at him again.  "Not how this was supposed to go?"

"No.  Not in the least.  We shouldn't be in the bay."  That got a nod.  "We're just off a combat tour too."

"That could be some of it.  You need to talk to your commanding officer.  You're going to have problems."

"I'll talk to him later.  Thank you."

"Not an issue.  Something like that needs to be taken care of."

John nodded.  "Before we get fights.  How did you know who I am?"

"There's all sorts of rumors about Harris's spouses."  He smirked.  "They spotted you in LA with the other one."

"Hmm.  Thanks for letting us know."

"Not a problem.  I know Harris only attacks those who're causing problems.  We heard he cleaned out Sunnydale of the weapons."

"Yup.  Got a few things for himself in reward since we found some higher weapons."

"The old mayor was said to be a bastard."

"So I heard."  He landed inside the building.   They carried the body inside.  "Let me take off again."

"Go for it."  He smiled as the young man took off, heading outside to call.  "This is JAG Officer Adana Pierson.  There's a classified military project that had a body wash up.  I'm at a neutral military location with the body and need it picked up."  He smiled at the detective's response.  He told him the address.  "I'll be here."  He hung up and looked inside.  The body was still there.  With what they say about the that project, that's almost amazing.  The detective he called showed up.  He let him see the body.  "Beyond classified project."

"That's all right.  I understand those things appear," he said dryly.  "Washed up?"

"Was in the water.  They pulled it out and called me.  Had guards standing over it."

"That's fine.  What's this?"

"Off-base meeting area."

"Okay."  He called people to come get the body.  He wasn't going to wonder about the military guys.  He wasn't sure he wanted to know even if he was curious.


Xander hung up with the lawyer that had dealt with Anya's will, letting him handle it.  It was a fairly reasonable rate.  It'd mean all the money was clean.  Because he didn't want to deal with the FBI over it.  Once was enough.  He had been sure to keep that from Tony and John.  He didn't want them to worry.  Worrying Tony would stress out McGee, Gibbs, and Abby.  Which would get him growled at.  Tony would stress more and there'd be a fight of some sort or Toy would get shot again.  He didn't want that.  The lawyer showed up and looked at the piles then at him.  "Cleveland didn't want it."

"I can see why.  It might taint them."

"Did the old Mayor taint it?"

"It does radiate hellmouth energy."

"So do I."

"Yes, you do."  He looked at him.  "You should fix that."

"I'll do a cleaning spell tonight.  Even if I do get another vision from it."  The lawyer smiled.  "That's a more complicated story," he said dryly.  "So, can we?"

"We can have that changed for you.  It's not that hard."  He called someone, who appeared.  Xander rubbed his forehead.  "Magic...."

"Can set them off," he said quietly.  "I'm good though.  Hi, Xander Harris."

"Mr. Harris."  He paused, staring at him.  "You are that Xander Harris."  He nodded.  "The old mayor's things?"

"The military had me going to clean out weapons.  They gave it to me because the IWC didn't want it."

He nodded.  "Why?  They could probably use it."

"Giles thought it might be tainted by Sunnydale."


"We know the hellmouth out there reacts wonderfully to me, tried to pull me into a hug actually."  The demons both shuddered.  "Exactly.  Can we do something with it?"

"I can definitely do that but Wilkins left a will with an amendment for his 'daughter'."

"Faith's in Mexico.  I can have her sent here."

"Please, that would suit us," the lackey said.

Xander called her.  "Faith, me.  The cleanout went better than expected.  The IWC gave me Wilkin's stuff.  Like gold, Faith, and apparently he had a will that named you.  Need you at my place.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "She'll get Willow to send her."

"That'll be fine."  He moved in to check it over.  "This one has a scratch or three?"

"I wanted to see how easy it was to manipulate one.  I'm working on forging weapons."

The demons stared at him.  "Like real weapons?"

"I've only been working on it for a few months.  I'm doing good with daggers carved with protection marks."

"Wonderful," the lawyer agreed.

"I'm going further.  It's how I can help out without having to hunt right now."

"Even better."  He went to look.  Faith appeared on the back porch.  The boy was back to rubbing his forehead.  "Slayer Faith."

"What's up?"

The lawyer called down the will to go over it with her.  They hadn't been able to get near her in Cleveland.  Someone had messed up by not spotting she had left.


Xander walked into the office in LA, like the letter had ordered him to.  It was only a week since the lawyer had laundered that money for him and Faith.  He smiled at the receptionist, handing it to her.  "I was annoyingly summoned?"

"You were, sir.  Let me get that agent for you."  She called him.  He came out a few minutes later.  "Him, sir?"

"You're younger than I expected, Mr. Harris.  Agent Don Epps."  He held out a hand.

"Xander Harris.  Why did you need me?"

"We had some questions about your town.  Which you were noted as being in the middle of."

"Oh, that stuff."  He followed him to an interrogation room, sitting down and pulling off his windbreaker.  He put three books on the table.  "Which year did you want to talk about?"

"First, how were you involved?"

"Turn off the tape or video recorder."  The agent glared.  He stared back.  "I have no doubt we're going to get into a classified situation."  The video camera was turned off.  Xander pulled out something else, putting it on the table and turning it on.  "Jammer."  He smiled.  "Which year?"

"How were you involved and didn't our security find that?"

"No, Willow made it."  The agent glared.  He stared back.  "Not like everything she does is electrical."

"So, you were ...what?  Beyond involved."

"It depends on which event and who you ask, also when you ask.  There were a few times the girls decided all I was good for was donut patrol.  Even though I saved them a few times."

"I see."  He considered it.  "There's three incidences we've wondered about."



"The old mayor was dirty as hell, dude."  He opened his journal, handing it over.  "The reason behind graduation.  Some of you guys removed his remains and you still didn't even wonder."

"A few of them remembered doing that.  That's why we're asking now."  He skimmed that information.  "Is there any information on any of this?"

"Not unless that box he left for Faith Lehane held some.  She was told about the will recently."

"Where might she be?"

"On duty in Mexico."


Xander stared at him.  "What do you think Buffy Summers is, Agent Epps?"

"Some sort of super soldier."  He handed back the book.

"Chosen as one of a long, historical line of mystical soldiers.  It's what made her faster, better, and occasionally ruins her clothes and hair according to her."

"I see.  She had a charge laid that she burned down a gym due to vampires."

Xander nodded.  "As we heard it, yeah."  He stared him down.  "How do you think they fight those things?  Especially when you're overrun?"

"Do you guys have a group behind you?  Some sort of ... agency or anything?"

"There was a group in Britain, but the problem that took out Sunnydale also took most of them out.  They've reformed with the rest of my former group."

"Okay, so full agency out of the British government?"

"More secret society types.  A lot of ancient books, that they wrote, some minor reality-based research that we didn't want to know about.  A lot of them saw their chosen ones as weapons that were disposable when they broke down.  Our group ended that."

"Okay, so somehow these chosen warriors get chosen?  Bloodline?"

"I'm not really sure.  I know that none of the current ones are related except a pair of very distant cousins.  I know all the ones who're chosen have a huge mole that marks them.  I know they had some way of spotting them and missed Buffy.  That's why she had a real life.  Most of them were taken and trained.  Another thing we stopped."


"It might've depended on the parent.  We didn't care about them.  The only time we ran into the Council they screwed things up and pissed us off.  We were slightly sad when the First Evil's minions blew them up but most of them we could've lived without due to their narrow minded pigheadedness."

"So they were a bit biased against the girls being girls?"

"They were a bit biased against the girls being human.  They're not like that now.  Our people form the core of the new Council.  The girls are treated as girls.  They're offered a chance but not pushed beyond some warning about not taking it meaning they could be in danger."

"Mild guilt tripping but nothing too bad then," he said dryly.

"Remember what happened in LA a while back?  Those same things hunt those girls to kill them."  Epps grimaced.  "It's not their fault, it's nothing they chose to be, but they are and they have to know that it will come for them.  If they're at home, it'll come for their families.  That's why the new Council welcomes families learning how to take their own precautions.  Especially when the girls go to visit or head home after training."

"So you're training them, posting those who want to in problem areas, then letting the rest hit home if they want to?"

"From what I understand, yes."

"Okay.  How is the military involved in that?"

"They're not."

"The military was in Sunnydale last month."

"The aunts got their way and married me off to one.  My brand new husband heard there were weapons there and asked me to go back to clean it out.  I found their old armory was still full.  Plus other areas.  He works on a classified project and they came to get the rest out of there so nothing and no one could use it."

"I heard something about you and weapons."

"I do know a good bit about weapons and I'm learning how to make weapons at the moment."

"That's good to know."  He stared at him.  "There was noted military activity before?"

"They're in Homeland now.  After we had to shut them down for nearly ending the world.  They weren't particularly kind or nice and a lot of them were doing supposed research by testing living tissue samples and neat things like control chips in brains."

"You ...stopped them?"

"No, we stopped them.  Buffy fought the super warrior they were building.  We fought the rest.   There was a lot of shit going on up there, Agent Epps.  If you want to ask about that, talk to someone in Homeland."

"They told us it didn't matter."

"It probably doesn't now.   Like I said, they're in Homeland."

"Fine.  Got any names we can ask?"

"Who told you it didn't matter?"

"An Agent Graham Miller."

"Talk to him again."  He grinned at the dirty look he got.  Epps groaned, shaking his head.  "He'd know."

"I see."  He made note of that.  "Okay.  What sort of weapons did you find?"

"I'd have to ask my spouse for the inventory.  I wasn't keeping track.  It took us a little over a week."  He thought at Tony, getting a groan.  He said Epps was trustworthy a minute later.  John told him it didn't matter.  Xander put in that he wanted an inventory.  The room's phone rang a minute later.

"Epps," he answered.  He listened, grimacing.  "Is he bugged or something?"  He nodded once at what whoever told him.  "That's one thing we're worried about, yes.  Among other things.  Like weapons pipelines that might go through our city."  Xander took the paper to write down a few names and bars.  "And possibly if we're going to have more problems now here in LA."

Xander shrugged.  "I'm retired back to a local area and making weapons," he admitted, handing over the names.

"Could we have an inventory of anything that wasn't supposed to be there so we can correlate back to whatever pipelines we have?" Epps asked.  He nodded.  "That'll be fine. Thank you."   He hung up.  "NCIS too?"

Xander grinned.  "They worked with them about the weapons.  My spouse knows someone in the DC office."

"I guess that's understandable."  Someone walked in a bunch of papers.  "All that?"

Xander looked.  "Doesn't hold the armory."  He handed it back, grinning at the other.  "Hi."

"Hi, Charlie Epps."  He shook his hand.

"Xander Harris."

"I've heard rumors about you and a graduation."

"Could be true," he admitted.  "Depends on what they said."

"They said you led the battle."

"The one to get the civies out of the way, yes.  To give Buffy enough time to work, yes."

"They also said that the explosion was preplanned?"

"No comment."

Don Epps stared at him.  "Excuse me?"

Xander sighed and pulled out a DVD.  He knew someone would ask if they were going back to correlate issues in Sunnydale.  Which was about the only reason he could see for him to be called in now.  "The tape we confiscated off the police, who took it from a parent that had been taping the ceremony."  They took it to watch, coming back looking unhappy.  Xander had his journals back.  "So?"

"We're not going to ask about that formally, Mr. Harris."

"I'm retired to deal with a local area and learn how to make weapons."

"Good!" Don said, closing the door.  He stared at him.  "Problems out here?"

"Possible.  Usually your city is pretty calm.  They tend to hide from you normal guys.  If there's a problem it's usually handled in-house outside of the big things like Wolfram and Hart.  There was a team locally who dealt with that."

"I've talked with Connor Angel."

"Cool.  I haven't.  I was in Africa during the invasion."

"That explains why you weren't there."  He stared at the boy.  "How likely is it?"

"Ask Connor.  I barely have some old contacts in town, Agent Epps.  Like any underground contacts, they're usually bad within six months."

"I can understand that.  So ask Mr. Angel?"

"He's local and handling it from what I understand.  I'm handing up near San Fran and my local town."

"That's good to know.  Is Sunnydale going to cause more problems?"

"From what I understand, FEMA's razing what's left.  If the old hellmouth opens, yes, there'll be new activity.  Right now it's sealed off with a fence and they're keeping everyone out."


"There's a weak spot between dimensions or realms there.  Some are what you'd consider hell realms, and some aren't.  The thin spot was under the library."

"Was it able to be opened?"

"Many tried.  Our job was to stop them and everything that the power drew to the town."

"So wherever all those girls are probably has about as bad of problems?"

"Part of it.  They're in a city.  Also, Wilkins set up Sunnydale as a human farm for the demons to nibble on.  That's why we had such a high death rate, such crappy, on-the-take cops, and all those other problems.  He didn't want to stop it.  It gave him more power."

"Wilkins.  The mayor?"

"The only mayor we ever had until grad."

"So he was a thing too?"

"He used to be human.  He made deals to get to the point during graduation.  It took him about a century to do that.  A small deal here, a good deal there, making allies with some types of demons, letting them have the townspeople as food."  He shrugged.  "My group started back in my tenth year.  You saw a decrease in the deaths and all that."

"We did.  We wondered."

"Buffy moved to town.  Willow and I joined in.  Others helped now and then."

Don looked at him.  "Hunting former people and demons can't be healthy mentally."

Xander shook his head.  "No, it's not.  Which is why I'm retired."

"Would hunters pose a risk to others?"

"No.  Most of us only go after the bad things.  Those of us who actually hunt usually have a reason to be in the field.  One of them fucked up something in our lives."

"So you get a lot of obsessed people who want to destroy the other side."

"There's a few of those, yes."

"That can cause problems for normals."

"Most roaming hunters, which is what we're really talking about, don't make friends with normal people.  They show up to handle something going on.  Maybe use a mild scam to get information, and then handle it before fading into the shadows again."

"I've heard stories about that life from those who stepped forward."

Xander nodded.  "It's not a pretty life but most of us know that if we're not out there, then someone else will get hurt."

"What about the people they run into?"

"Some forget.  Some know to call later on if more things happen around them."

"What if they start to become the problem?"

"There's not many of us in the field.  With the old Council, there was maybe two thousand total around the world.  We're down to maybe two-thirds of that now.  If one of us becomes a problem and starts on people, we'll get them."  A file was tossed down.  He looked it over.  Then he pushed it away.  "He told me about that.  They were handling the thing that happened in the prison.  There was no easier way to do that and protect all those people."  He looked him in the eyes.  "I know that they hated that it happened.  I also know that the agent after them got it explained to him before something else got him."

"So they lied and confessed to crimes they didn't commit to get inside the prison?"

"From what I was told, yes."

"You know them?"

"Their father helped save my life when Willow's magic addiction got to her and she nearly killed me.  And everyone else on the planet."  Don shuddered.  "She got stopped, which is how I got hurt, and helped with her grief and addiction.  Like I said, we handle our own problems in-house, Agent Epps.  No, their plan wasn't the best but I don't think they had much of a choice.  If they had went to someone they'd be locked in a whole different place."

"Yes they would have," he admitted.  "Can you ask them for a full account of what happened?  Including whatever that agent knew?"

"I can talk to them later on."

"Not sooner?"

"No.  Because I don't want you guys to trace it."  He grinned.  "Most of us have a healthy paranoia for people with your job and similar jobs, Agent Epps.  After the Initiative, most of us don't like the military all that much either.  I'll trust you guys enough to let you tell me what you want to know and to make yourselves plain on intent, but I'd never give you anyone else.  I'm not going to risk anyone else that way.  And frankly, the life is hard enough without you guys breathing down our necks.  It's not like they make money doing this job.  Like I said, we don't do this because we get joy from it.  We do it because we need to do it so no one else has to go through what we went through.  To protect the normal people like your brother and you."

"I get that.  I know agents like that.  They often end up dying."

"No one said that hunting was easy on a body.  We have more injuries weekly than you do hopefully a year.  We get banged into things, clawed, stabbed, gooed on, bled on, and everything else that the demons or spirits can throw at us.  One of them told me he got a very nice armoire entertainment center thrown at him by a poltergeist.  With the electronics still inside.  He was against a wall."

"Ow," Don muttered.

"Exactly.  Demons fight back when you fight them and most of them don't use guns.  They have claws and sometimes swords and things."

"So you don't use guns?"

"Depends on what you're hunting.  Our team?  No.  Some of the roaming hunters?  Yeah.  They know how to use rock salt to help against spirits.  I'm told shotgun shells filled with it are very helpful."

Don shuddered.  "Okay.  Where are the current problem areas?"

Xander stared at him.  "I'm told if you don't already know, ask Connor."

"You're ...telepathic?"

"No, Willow's scrying and has my husband on the phone, he's telling me."

"He's telepathic?"

"Not exactly.  It's what the aunts did to marry us."

"I don't want to know, do I?"

"Probably not."

"Okay.  So is Sunnydale going to become a problem?"

"It should not be one.  The new Council has ways of monitoring it for intrusion.  We won't lie, power like that is like radiation in some ways.  That's why everything that came out of Sunnydale had to take some time before being handed over.  That way the energy could dissipate.  The town's lands itself have been soaked for over a century."

"So if we leave the dirt there it'd be safer?"

"I doubt anything normal would be able to do anything with the energy."  He looked up.  "Willow, ask Sam C?"  He got a note from John a few minutes later.  "I'm told that they can't harness the energy.  It's like a natural stream of energy that's flowing.  They can't create a way to harvest it, dam it, or anything like that.  I know mystically, you can soak up natural energies to help with spell work but I can't do that so I have no idea how."

"So no one normal."

"Not all sorcerers are good and not all are bad," he cautioned.  "Some of them can be really annoying too."  He grinned.  "I've got some very helpful memories from a possession a chaos sorcerer caused."

"How many of those are there?"

"Powerful ones?  Probably a few hundred.  All around the world?  I don't know.  I'm not sure if anyone would.  That's something to ask someone in the Council.  Which again, ask Connor to get someone out here."  A note hit his mind.  "Or Willow will be here in about an hour."

"She's coming to rescue you?"

"No, she's coming to answer the pesky questions that I can't."

"That'll work too," he decided.  "Do things like the invasion happen all the time?"

"Invasions, no.  Apocalypse attempts?  Depends on where you live and who's there.  Wolfram and Hart have mostly been stopped.  From what I'm told they were your major evil player in town.  That's something to ask Connor.  Where they are?  It'll happen a few times a year.  Spring especially."


"It seems the worst ones come in the spring."  He shrugged.  "I don't know why."

"I'll talk to them later then," he decided.  His head was starting to hurt.  The kid apparently realized it, he handed him a small bottle of tylenol.  "Thanks, kid," he said with a smirk.

"It should give you a headache, Agent Epps; you're a normal guy who never had to deal with it before.  Usually new people dealing with this either spend a few days in denial or they're just validating what they saw before.  A lot of them spend it in denial with a bottle in each hand."

"Could some demons be unclaimed John and Jane Does?"

"Yes.  Some do look human or have human forms.  Most of them wouldn't revert if they died human.   I'm also told by other hunters that sometimes you can't save the people who were possessed.  The demon that had them killed them or their hearts gave out during the exorcism."

"I guess that might make sense.  Why do it then?"

"Because the people trapped inside might be more horrified if we didn't.  And they're usually doing bad things that they wouldn't normally do.  Demons like to pick the most pure person they can.  It gives them a perverse pleasure."

"So nuns?"

"Not usually.  Those sort are annoyed by holy things usually.  But college coeds who have no idea about things worse than puppies being muddy.  Boys on spring break.  There's been a good bunch of possessions during spring break because you're not exactly paying attention to what's going on when you're that drunk and partying for a week.  There's hunters who lurk there every year."

"I guess that makes sense."

Xander nodded.  "It's fun to watch too."

"I guess that could be."  He shook his head quickly, taking one of the tylenol.  "So, what are you doing now?"

"Learning how to make weapons.  I'm working on swords, knives, those things at the moment.  Decorating pieces that're already around."

"So helping but not involved."

"If there's something going on in my area, I handle it," he assured him.  "A lot of hunters retire that way.  We're too sore to travel and hunt the old way so we settle down.  Or some hunters do have full-time jobs and hunt as a sideline because they need to be in one place.  Or can't handle the lifestyle."

"It would be hard," Don agreed.  "Always traveling.  Banged up a lot."

"Paranoid most of the time," Xander added.

"I would be too."

"They know that anyone could be out to get them for it.  From you guys to possessed people to those who can change shape."

"Is that highly likely?"

"Depends on where you are.  My tenth grade year we had one move into town, take out our biology teacher so she could take his place.  She wanted virgins to fertilize her eggs.  She was a giant preying mantis."


"Yeah, and I was way too geeky back then to get a date."



"Thank you."

"Thank Buffy."

"I can do that."  He shifted and cleared his throat.  "This military thing?"

"Not my thing.  I helped end it; talk to Graham Miller."

"He's not very informative."

"I have the feeling that the government is highly embarrassed about it.  They were caught torturing and killing sentient species without finding out if they were good, bad, or adult.  A special ops project got taken down by civies and one of their own that turned when he realized they were douches.  If I had been the military, I'd have kicked my own ass for years about that."

"That's why they're in Homeland?" Don asked.

"They were hunting for the UN.  Homeland apparently needed them more.  Demons do have spies in their offices to make sure that they're not going to go that way again.  Then the council has a feed back from that source."

"That's good to know.  There's intelligence networks among them?"

"There's an underground.  I don't think they have their own version of the CIA.  Though, there's a lot of demon dimensions and realms out there.  Some of them might."  He shrugged.  "I have no clue about that.  I know about the underground, the kitten poker circuit.  That information highway."

"Kitten poker?"

"Yeah."  Xander grinned.  "You didn't hear about kitten poker?"

"Kitten looking demons playing poker?" Don asked hopefully.

"Kitties being the poker chips, played by a great many demons sort of poker."

Don shuddered, gathering up his papers.  "That's ...disgusting."

"They say they taste best."  He shrugged.  "I don't know.  I do play a mean hand, or I did before, but we went to them to get information from some helpful demons."

"So there's good ones?"

"There's ones that just...exist.  They're not bad.  Like boys, they just exist."

"How do you tell the difference?"

"Among the new Council and the old Sunnydale crew?  We took out the hunters and those causing problems.  Roaming hunters hear about problems and handle it.  Some of them would take out any that they run into, peaceful or not, but not all of them."

"That's a good thing."

Xander nodded.  "We like it better.  We're like a quiet paramilitary force that has to work in absolute secret most of the time.  We're disavowed if we're caught.  We make crap wages and no hazard pay.  We have to be able to infiltrate at times or blend in fully with the normal people to handle things while they don't realize it."


"Depends on what you're handling and where.  Some of the slayers hate weapons."


"Girls like Buffy.  The old Council named them that back in cavemen days.  Hunters are just hunters.  Slayers are the mystically chosen females warriors."

"I saw many of them out here during the invasion."

"It used to be one at a time.  That's my fault.  I did CPR.  That made two.  Then Willow had to activate the others to handle the problem that took out Sunnydale.  I spent my time in Africa helping the ones over there that didn't want to come over for training."

"Interesting.  Demons are pretty much world wide?"

"Yes.  As a matter of fact, one of the things we handled over there was a Native American demon who went to visit a distant cousin to help them take over the area we were setting the slayer up in."

Don grimaced.  "That doesn't sound...decent of it."

"It missed the old days when it had an area it controlled.  A lot of higher demons do.  That's why they try to create an apocalypse."  Xander rubbed his forehead.  Magic was going on somewhere nearby and he was pretty sure of the reason.

"That's understandable I guess."  Someone knocked and a young redheaded woman was let in.  "Ma'am."

She smiled and held out a hand.  "Willow Rosenburg."

"Agent Epps.  Please, sit.  The local office has a lot of questions that we need answers to so we can help protect this city and others."

"Of course you do.  We do offer information whenever someone asks us."  She sat down after giving Xander a short hug.  "How's the headache stuff?"

"They're still being set off by magic but I can hold it off better."

"That's good.  I saw Cordelia.  She came to nag.  That way she could take a break."

"I'm guessing she and the other one have a lot of work to do."

"Yeah, I guess they do."  She looked at Don Epps then back at Xander.  "She reported some strange, foreign demon and so did you."

He nodded.  "I made a more full report after dealing with it with her."

"I never saw that one. I should look it up.  I've never seen them migrating."

"It missed the old days."

"Ah."  She nodded.  "So do I.  I remember being cute and shy."

"Yeah, I remember you that way too," he said with a smirk.  She pinched him.  "Not like I was shy."

"No, you never were."  She smiled at Don.  "So, what can we tell you to help you protect your city?"

"First, where is this new Council?"


He shuddered.  "I nearly got transferred there."

"There's a few people in our local office who know.  We've talked with them when they figured out something was going on."

"That's good.  We wish they had told the rest of us."

"Most people want to deny or ignore," she reminded him.

"Yes but if they're doing things like running weapons, I need to know."

She beamed.  "Which is why you're talking to us now.  We understand.  I don't know if there's a current weapons pipeline in the city.  I don't really like weapons.  Buffy only likes the sharp and pointy stuff."

"Henrich is still working in the city.  I caught one of his people in my city and he ran from me so I caught him and asked.  He wasn't happy."

"I doubt he would be.  Is he the demon that greets by blowing snot?"

"No, that's his toady.  He's the one in the pink suit."

"Oh, him!" she said with a nod and a grin.  "He's almost decent for being an arms dealer."

"He's very nice and helping run some to a few realmal wars."

"I guess that's a good idea.  Someone's got to before they keep going and spill over here."  She grinned at him.  "It's a lot better that you're not with us."

He raised an eyebrow.  "I'm sure it is for all of us."  She winced and shifted some.  "Beyond that, I'm sure we could handle it.  I'm not the only one that was born in Sunnydale."

"No, you're not," she agreed.  "I don't know why you sucked up so much more hellmouth energy than everyone else."

He shrugged.  "It loves me."  He looked at Don again, seeing the uneasy look.  He smiled.  "Long term argument."

"If you say so, kids.  Just the one demon arms dealer?"

"No, there's a few demon stores that sell weapons, a few who procure for collectors, some who specialize in very strange and unusual items.  What you're looking for depends on who you go see and how much money you have.  Heinrich is a nice guy who doesn't usually deal to earth-living demons.  Now and then he'll need something and makes a deal to get it.  Mostly he deals with weapons people off-realm who're having needs for things like wars.  I know he won't sell to most humans unless they're known hunters and then they'd have to have a demon introduce them.  Spike introduced me."

"That's interesting.  So he's more neutral and someone we might be able to get information from but he's not doing anything wrong here."

"He might be a funnel and a reason why some arms seem to disappear from the world," Willow said.  "Guys like him deal with the people elsewhere.  We don't have to worry about them unless we need something desperately.  Then we usually end up paying double."

"Depending on who asks," Xander admitted with a smirk.  He shifted, crossing his feet.  "Those sort of issues in town, Connor's team is here to handle.  That's why Angel moved to LA.  He formed his own team and all that to handle the problems here."

"Now they've got Connor doing that and a few other areas have their own teams formed by some slayers," Willow agreed.  "Miami's got two slayers in residence at the college and have a few down there to help her.  They're older hunters so they get some parental nagging but also some heavier backup.  Then the older guys go up to watch spring break and do a lot of exorcisms.  We're slowly setting up city houses in spots that need us."

"The ones at Lake Mead last year did seven or nine in three weeks," Xander added.

"It sounds like you guys have it mostly well in hand except for smaller areas that'd have to count on roaming hunters."  They both nodded.  "Then why do we hear about it?"

"It's really hard to hide an apocalypse," Xander pointed out.

"I guess that makes sense.  How were they hidden before?"

"Huge denial problem," Willow told him.

"Can you maybe let us know if we're going to have one out here?  That way we can be better prepared?  Last time, Agent DiNozzo told us that there was a rumored attack on the city coming around that date.  Not that we'd have half the city disrupted by rampaging demons."

"Tony said you wouldn't have believed him if he had told you the truth," Xander said.

"There's days I don't want to believe it happened now," Don admitted.

"Ye olde denial issue," Willow said with a grin.

"Fine.  Go."

They walked out together.  "Boy, what was that you're carrying?" another agent demanded, getting in their way.  "You're not going anywhere.  You brought harmful materials into the federal building."

"It's a bug jammer," Xander said dryly.  "We were going to have to talk about classified things and I doubt I want to see my friend's ex over it."

"There's no way.  Our machines would've picked it up."

"It's not electronic."

"Really?  Then what is it?"

"It's mostly," Willow started.

"I'm asking him, girl."

"Well, tough noogies since I'm the one that made it, Mister Scowly.  Now back the heck off before I make you a pet for the agents who really do the job to take some stress relief out on."  He stepped back at that.  "I know someone didn't raise you right since you seem to think that women can't do things like tinker with electronics and be science oriented but welcome to the real world.  We're smarter than you because we can figure out how to pee sitting down without getting it all over the bathroom!"  She followed him backing away from her.  "How dare you try to make Xander miserable!"

"Yeah, that's her job," Xander said dryly.  "Dude, I'd so run.  Just save yourself."  His phone rang and he answered it.  "Yuppers.  Hey.  No, I'm in LA but I can be home in about a half hour.  I bought a return ticket.  I can do that.  Yeah, that note was in case someone stopped by.  They did ask but I said I'd ask the people involved later so they could tell Agent Epps what happened.  Sure, hour at the most.  Willow's about to blip out of her mind and change an agent into a pet.  Soon.  Make sure I have a soda waiting?  Thanks, man."  He hung up.  "They'll get it to the people in question, Agent Epps, and they'll find a way to send it to you anonymously."  He walked over and grabbed Willow's arm, walking her off.  "You'll get in trouble if you can't change him back."

"She'd get in trouble if she changed him at all," Epps said dryly.

"I'm in good control of my magic," Willow pouted.

Both men knew not to argue.  She'd turn them into something too.  Then Xander would never quit having visions and John and/or Tony would have to take up bestiality, which they'd probably hate.  The remark he got back from Tony along with the head swat from John proved him right.  "Hey, Willow, Tony said Buffy needs some buddy advice.  Something about dating another idiot?"

"He's not that bad," she said impatiently.  He stared at her.  "Better than Riley and Angel."

"I heard something about that Immortal guy in the underground.  They said Spike was better at everything and less evil.  So yeah, her type."

"Crap."  She disappeared.

Xander looked at the very stupid agent, ignoring the new headache.  "Next time, don't piss off a witch.  I can't reverse that shit."  He walked off shaking his head.  His phone rang and it came up Giles.  "It's me.  Talk to Connor.  He's the one who heard that the guy was beyond asshole levels and more evil than Spike ever was.  Yeah, basically.  Have fun with that by the way.  No, she was about to turn an agent into petting stress relief for the other agents because he tried to get me on having her bug jammer, discounted her totally.  It was a pouting, PMS, liberated Willow days apparently.  Thanks, Giles.  Yup, solved."

He hung up and hurried off before the day got any weirder.  John's quip that he should be used to that got a smartass remark back from Tony that John did stranger stuff than Xander did.  So John was pouting.  Xander sent a virtual puppy lick and John snorted, going quiet again.  Tony too.  Xander went to the demon bar and used their portals to get back to the one nearer to home.  He waved at the bartender.  "Willow was there."  They all shuddered.  "Buffy's dating again too."  That got a moan and some kittens exchanged hands.

"You guys betting on it?"  They all nodded.  "His name's 'the immortal'.  Not sure if he's a Highlander refugee or if he's just that big of an idiot to advertise that way.  Willow wanted to know though."  He smirked.  "That way she can best friend Buffy and break the news to her that she's dating someone who makes Satan sound like a kitten wrangler."  They laughed and a few did email the Council's public address.  That way the slayers would all know.  Xander found his car outside and drove home, parking and getting out to look at Sam.  "It's been a weird ass day.  Soda?"

"Two chilling," he said with a grin of his own.  "That bad?"

"Buffy's dating.  Willow's on a liberated girl kick against an agent.  Yeah."  Xander grabbed his head and nearly hit the floor, moaning in pain as the vision hit him.  "I thought I was through with those."  Sam helped him sit down without falling.

"Oops!  I didn't think you had them anymore," Willow complained.

"Freeze," Dean ordered.  "That would be more magic and set off something worse, Rosenburg.  Those are already causing brain changes in him."  She backed off.  "Now, why show up?"

"To thank him for getting some demons to tell us about Buffy's new boyfriend."

"He's like Satan as a kitten wrangler," Xander moaned.  Sam helped him sit up and calmed him down by rubbing his shoulders.  He blinked a few times, wiping off the tears.  "Okay, I'm going to be blunt.  Willow, why aren't you in Devon?"  She glared.  He stared back.  "Blue thing?  Tiger?  Sounding familiar or should I go on?"  She blushed, looking down.  "I'd head.  Tonight.  Get the witches in Cleveland to clean up that interrealm mess you helped create and go.  Now.  Just do it from the road please."  She sighed, going to the edge of the driveway to head off.  Xander looked at Sam, whispering in his ear.  He nodded, going to call Buffy.  Xander leaned against the edge of the couch.  "Where's my dog?"

"Hiding under your bed.  She saw Sammy and ran for it," Dean admitted.  "I think she peed somewhere."

"Probably in the bathroom.  It took longer than I thought.  The FBI does want to know what was going on with the prison thing."

"I'll have Sammy email them the whole thing and what the agent knew.  You good?"

"Fuck no.  Whistler's pissed as hell at her.  That's the last image I got."  They shared a look.  "She opened up a realm portal by accident."




"Yup."  His cellphone rang.  Xander blinked at it then answered it.  "What?  I just had a brain ripping vision thanks to Willow blipping in, Dawn.  I don't exactly feel charitable.  No, I want her in Devon and the witches you guys have to fix that realm portal she opened up last night by accident trying out that new spell in the park."  She babbled something.  "I'm sorry but my head's throbbing and I don't care, Dawn.  The last image I got was Whistler looking pissed as hell suggesting she be in Devon yesterday."  He hung up and tossed Dean his phone.  "Here, you talk to girls for a bit.  They like you."

"Most of them do," he agreed dryly.  He called Dawn back.  "He's sorry, Dawn, but he's literally ready to cry from the migraine.  Yeah, that's what he said. Sammy's talking to someone."  He grinned.  "Sure, we can fuss and help the dog fuss.  You behave and be careful.  Xander, what came out?"

"Two blue people who freaked out and committed suicide."

Dean repeated that, nodding at what she said.  "Good deal.  Have fun with that."  He hung up.  "She'll help her pack.  You okay?  Need meds?"  Xander's phone rang.  "Xander's phone.  Yeah, I can get that for him, Tony."  He hung up and went to get the medicine Tony had ordered him to shove down Xander's throat.  It'd help apparently.  Sam hung up.  "They good?"

"Buffy's freaking out.  I heard what Dawn told her."

"Yeah, well, the new Powers are apparently pissed."  He found the bottle.  "Daddy's home, Muffin."  She ran out to love on him.  Dean brought out the bottle, Sam got him a soda, and they watched him settle in to nap off the vision.  They'd get him in touch with Bobby later on.  After he slept it off.  Then they'd get help to get to Cleveland once their business was done since it sounded like Willow had called too many things there.


Tony leaned back, rubbing his forehead, closing his eyes.  "No," he moaned, shuddering.  "I'm going to kill her."  He listened to what Xander was saying and doing, calling the poor guy's cellphone once Dean was done talking to whoever.  "The medicine he needs is in the cabinet over the first sink in the main bathroom.  It's the same stuff Sam takes.  He takes two even if he says he only takes one.  Force it if you have to.  Let him nap it off."  He hung up and looked at his the people staring at him.  "Boss, Rosenburg *really* needs to be back in Devon last week."

"Again?" he demanded.

"She popped in to visit after the FBI interview earlier with Epps.  She nearly set one off showing up there but she appeared outside the room."  Gibbs moaned.  "Let's just say that Cordelia and her friend aren't very happy with her.  Something about a portal, people coming through, and being so horrified they offed themselves immediately upon seeing Cleveland."

Gibbs muttered something in Russian.  "Where is she?"

"Home.  They're encouraging her to go."

Gibbs called Cleveland.  "Rupert Giles please."  He made himself relax.  "Rupert Giles, Jethro Gibbs, Tony's supervising agent.  Not only did she set off a vision, it was about her opening a portal that got two beings killed by their own hand when they appeared in your city.  Yes, I do believe he's told others."

"Yeah, he told her since she was there.  Dean called someone," Tony said, rubbing his temples.  They were getting easier to take.  He wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.

Gibbs smirked.  "He told her he knows; Dean Winchester called someone to let them know.  Yes, I think it'd be a good idea.  Because her reckless actions caused my agent to have another one as well," he said dryly. "Thankfully we're in the office instead of in the field where it could've gotten him killed.  With the way things happened with him and your former protégé....."  Giles shuddered.  "Exactly, Mr. Giles.  Do have fun with her."  He hung up.  "He'll make sure she's on a plane by tonight."

"Thank God."  He looked at McGee.  "Do you have my medicine bottle for the lighter stuff?"  He dug it out and tossed it over.  "Thanks.  Thought I left it over there last time."  He took one with his cold coffee and got back to work.  He wouldn't need a nap with this stuff but it killed most of the pain.  He suddenly laughed.  "John wants to beam to where she is, smack her around, then go back to work."

"If they let him, have fun," McGee complained.  "What was she doing?"

"No clue.  She didn't have one either," Tony said dryly.  "Which is why she screwed up and there's an open portal in Cleveland."

"Should I call him back?" Gibbs asked.

"Dean told them."

"Good!  Any other revelations?"

"Yeah, the director's going to be kidnaped soon.  Yay us.  Ziva, don't kill the person we need to get her back by neck jabbing him, no matter how irritating he is in the elevator."  She gasped, staring at him.  He stared back then got back to work.  "I don't want to do a cheezy knock-off of Bernie."

Gibbs shook his head quickly.  "I don't want to see that happen either.  When?"

"Dinner at a hotel."

"Which one?" McGee asked.  "She does that a lot," he defended when Gibbs glared at him.

Tony shrugged.  "She was wearing a suit.  It wasn't business and not purely pleasure.  She had her driver but he died."  Gibbs went to tell her.  Tony finished up what he was doing then went to get a soda from the machine.  Caffeine did help his headaches a lot.  That proved he was going to turn into Xander soon.


John looked up, holding in his moan of pain.  Nothing in this one felt like it was coming his way other than the pain.

"Again?" Ronon asked quietly.

"Shh."  He let it pass by then looked at him.  "Willow showed up in that special way, setting one off.  Dean and Sam are with him."  He considered it.  "Think they'd let me beam to where she is, kick her ass, then come back?"

"Probably not," Ronon admitted.  "You should be seen."

"I'm fine.  No pain from it really.  Just a bit of a headache.  Xander's getting his medicine too."  He grimaced.  "Willow's an ongoing problem."  He walked off, going to talk to their base shrink.  "How bad is it to want to kill a magic addict for screwing up?"

"On purpose?"

"She was testing a hypothesis and created a very bad issue."

"She should be taken care of by her own kind.  What did she do?"  She looked him over.  "I heard those were over with."

"They're set off by magic and she appeared.  Teleported from Cleveland into the same room he was in."

"I'm sorry.  Is he all right?"  John nodded.  "Get her help, John.  Maybe they'll take it from her or something."

"She's being forced back to the same people who helped her last time.  If she can't learn I'm not sure what they'll do but I know Xander will be upset."

"That's fortunately not a fight you have to take part in," she said gently.  "All you have to do is cushion your husband so he doesn't grieve too hard."

John nodded at that wisdom.  "I still wanna smack her around."

"I'm sure someone will for you.  If not, maybe the dog will bite her."  John walked off smirking at that thought.  Tony enjoyed it too.  Xander was snoring mentally, which was somewhat cute, he had to admit that.

Woolsey spotted John and glared.  "Hit the infirmary."

"It's a mild headache.  Nothing major."

"I thought they were solved."

"We were seeing how things had went when Rosenburg suddenly appeared."  Woolsey moaned.  "Since it was about her magic addiction...."  He kept walking, shaking his head.  Woolsey could mind his own business for once.  He sent a suggestion at Tony to give him ideas about the anger problem.  Half of it seemed to be boredom from what he had seen.  Tony sent back something so he emailed Sam Carter.  She had the best handle on what Atlantis needed.  She'd get back with him soon.  Who knew where in the universe she was at the moment.  His email beeped ten minutes later, making him smile.  "That's good news."  He tapped his comm.  "McKay, come to my office."  He let it go and read over the list of projects that were overloading the main base.  Rodney grimaced as he walked in.  "Sam finally got you things that're overloading their base."  He let him have the screen.

Rodney looked it over.  "Half of those we're already working on.  I'll have people liaison to see if we're further ahead.  Thank you."

"I got warned there's some resentment and anger going on," he warned.

"For you making them do PT," he agreed dryly, walking off.

John considered it.  "That's not a bad idea."  He called the team commanders to his office, looking at them.  "I got warned that we're feeling some resentment on base."

"Are you psychic now?" one demanded.

"The JAG officer who came out was a demon," another said, staring at John.

"He is empathic as well.  He's also got the highest security level on this coast."  They all grimaced.  "He said there's a lot of anger and resentment on base."  They all nodded at that.  "So, let's work to figure it out.  Sam Carter just sent things for the scientists to work on so they're not blowing things up.  I was thinking team skill training maybe?  Maybe some team retraining," he said, looking at one leader, who just smirked.

One nodded.  "That could help.  Is there any chance of our guys to go back to the main base to join other teams?"

"There might be.  I'll send a letter to Landry with all the suggestions so we can get the materials we'll need.  What skills do we need?  So even if we do get recalled to the main base, we're ready to step into a team and do the work."

"Some language skills might help," one suggested.  "Some strategy work too.  Work on the field quiet commands.  Half of the people don't know hand code in a stalking or assault situation.  We need to go over those basics no matter where they end up."  The others nodded at that.  John was making notes.  "Also, could we maybe get some new off-time entertainment?  The one guy with the gameboy is hoarding it."

John started a separate list.  "Some game system and games, maybe things that'll help with strategy or endurance work?"  They all smirked at that.  "Hey, five hours of DDR and I'll count it as two hours of PT."  They all snickered.  John just smirked back.  "Board games?"  They nodded.  "New books too I think.  Okay, I'll send that list on.  I'll post up a list to see what games we want to get.  Maybe two or three systems so there's no fighting over it."  He looked at them.  "What about duty related things?"

"There's a whole bunch of war games."

"Some of my guys would rather have something to divert their memories," another one said.

"We can do both of them," John said.  "If we have to I'll borrow one."  He noticed the grins.  "I can."  He went back to his list.  "Any specific languages?"

"With the current wars, we could use some arabic," one said.  John nodded.  "We could use a general education system anyway, Sheppard.  Some people will want to get a degree since we're closer and able to get the stuff to the teachers.  Also, some of the resentment is guys who have families."

"Landry knows there's guys who have families.  We're working on how to get them more time without slighting the other guys.  None of us want kids on Atlantis in case something tragic happens."

"I can see that," that one agreed.  "But some guys have sweethearts and things."

"As Landry said, if they can sign on, have them sign on.  If not, he's working on it.  He knows it's hard.  I don't know but I'll make that note to him."  He added it to his list, then looked at them.  "I think most of them would rather commute at the moment but I'm not sure how we'd do that.  Or even if their families would move this way to do that.  Remember, we've got a lot of international people here.  Some might not be able to move to the US to be with them."

"Would you be one who wanted to commute?"

"Nope.  I'm not ready to live with anyone, guys.  Their morning routines don't click with mine and Xander working on his forge can drive you nuts."

"I imagine the constant banging can drive you nuts," one agreed.

John nodded.  "I have nothing to do at his house.  I'd need to import more things to do.  That and I'm not a nine-to-five guy."

"We can all see that.  You having a bouncy, hyper spouse against your will has really bothered you," one agreed.  John shrugged at that.  "Can't you make him go have more wild times?"

"We can.  Right now he's not sure he wants to.  He hunted since he was sixteen, guys.  He's having that special 'what the hell am I doing' time we've all had."  They all nodded or shifted.  "I do try but most of the time he's not against it.  He just never does it."  He leaned back.  "What else can we do to help the guys be more content?"

"Give them more city leave," one said.  "There's a difference when you can't find a hooker or a girl to date because you're surrounded by aliens and being next to one of the most sexed up cities ever."

John nodded, adding that to the list.  "I know it could help.  Within three hours' travel?"  They all nodded that'd be fair.  It'd get those who wanted a woods trip a few different places.  "Day passes?"

"That would work," one of the older ones agreed.  "The main base has Colorado Springs and the national forest if they need to get out.  We're stuck out here."

Woolsey leaned in.  "Why are there Area 51 people who're sending me requests for meetings?"

"No clue.  Sam Carter sent over their list of current projects for the science squad."

"That's good!  What's this meeting for?"

"The JAG officer noticed a lot of resentment and anger.  We're finding ways of making people happier and give them something to do."

"Thank you.  There's been a lot of boredom that I've seen."  He walked off, going to call her.  Her home phone had an answering machine so he left a short message.  He called the base.  "Is Captain Carter there?  It's Woolsey," he told Landry's secretary.  "Thank you and tell him he's getting a list of suggestions later from Sheppard please."  He got transferred over.  "Captain, Woolsey.  Area 51 people want to come visit.  I can do that."  He forwarded the email to her, listening to her look for it.  It popped up and she read it, growling some.  "I'll let you handle that," he said quickly, hanging up.  He hadn't realized how scary she could be.  He guessed her time in the Pegasus galaxy had been bad for her temper.  It had been for his.


Landry looked at his email, frowning.  "What now?" he complained.  Having Atlantis off the coast was annoyingly causing a lot of problems.  He read it over.  The reason was a good one.  He had things to help with that.  Mostly.  He didn't have a lot for the language lessons on hand but he knew who to talk to.  He called the Pentagon liaison's office.  "Major Davis, General Landry.  The boys and girls on Atlantis are getting bored.  They did send a suggested list, I'm faxing it to you," he said, turning to do that.

"Some of it's not exactly orthodox.  You can use a gaming system as training?  Really?"  He listened to the current programs using it.  "That's fine, whatever you can get for them.  They're getting to the point of anger."  He nodded.  "I'm looking into that.  I'm not sure how we'd do it right now.  If we'd do housing in the city or not.  I do need suggestions on that.  Please do.  Thank you."  He hung up and relaxed, sending one back to Sheppard that Davis was working on the list and he was working on the situation for possible city-living and commuting.   John Sheppard sent back a virtual hug.  Or someone did from his account.  Could've been that goofy husband of his or Xander.


Landry got the suggestions from Davis, smiling at it.  That may just work.  The military had once upon a time bought a building out there to house families off-base.  It wasn't much but it'd house about ten small families.  The Coast Guard had originally used it.  They'd send someone to check it over this week.  He sent that to Woolsey, who was happy.  The camera he activated showed him nearly dancing.  "Ants?" he guessed, scaring him.

"Fire ants.  Somehow a few made it into the ventilation system.  We've gotten most of them but we've got a few left.  Two were in my seat.  General, is there a new problem?"

"There's a building the local Cost Guard unit bought once for off-base housing.  Someone's going to check it over later this week.  It should comfortably fit about ten smaller families.  I'm not sure.  Or we have the option of moving this to Alameda, which is a bit farther away but there's an older, closed building down that way we can borrow that would have more room."

"How much more room?"

"Maybe for fifteen to twenty they think.  That'll be checked out too."

"That would solve a good portion of the problems."

"Do you need to remove base personnel to fix that problem?" he asked when he slapped at an ant on his desk.  So maybe he hadn't been too happy.  "Where does Harris live?"

"Um, no clue.  Sheppard?" he bellowed.  "He's out in the main lobby dealing with two people who were fighting."  John walked into view.  "Where does your...spouse live?"

"Just past Alameda.  About thirty minutes away if traffic is kind.  Why?"

"Two options to move families off base, Colonel.  One's in Alameda, one's in the city itself."

"The city would be a safer and easier option, sir."

"It's the smaller one."

"Oh."  He winced.  "Someone's going to complain."  The general smiled.  "Did you get mine?"

"Yes.  Major Davis is starting that buying spree.  Do you need to evacuate so you can be sprayed?"

"Spraying we could use but Radek's coming up with something, sir.  Rodney's locked himself in a lab looking over something odd that Carter said came from a world where they used magic to enhance weapons."

"Wonderful," he said dryly.  "I hate that world.  I almost considered sending Rosenburg there thanks to some of her last few things."

"She's in Devon," John said simply.  The general stared at him.  "She popped in the day the FBI wanted to ask Xander questions about Sunnydale.  Thankfully I didn't get any bleedover outside of a small headache.  Tony got to talk to Cleveland."

"Maybe she'll stay there."

"Someone would have to staff a house in England," John said dryly, cracking the general up.  "Oh, I got a head's up.  Someone is going to ask Mitchell and Carter if they would like to work with the slayers."

"I'll let them know the offer may be coming," he said.  "I'm not sure if they'd agree."

"They need good watchers, sir.  People who can handle it when the girls are being girls and when they need to be slayers, plus to handle weapons, house parent duties, that stuff."

"They probably could but I'm guessing that sort of job is very wearing on you."  John nodded.  "I'll let them know."  He saw another bug be slapped at.  "Let me see if we have anything for them.  Fire ants are dangerous.  Any other infestations?"

"Mosquitos," they said in unison.

"I'll talk to our maintenance people.  Give me a few days to work on the rest, people."  He hung up and went to find their head of maintenance.  He was in his office thankfully.  The man hopped up to salute him but he waved him back down.  "Our other project is having a few fire ants that managed to migrate somehow and a mosquito problems."

"I'll get them something mixed up today, General.  How big of an area?"

"A small city."

"I'll have a lot mixed up."

"Thank you."  He walked off, going to call Davis to see how long it'd be before their boredom busters were gathered.  Davis had most of it ready.  The rest would be in the next day.  That'd work.  Though he still wasn't sure what a DDR system was... hopefully it'd help with training or something practical.


Xander looked up from his spot on his bed, staring at the ceiling.  "No, there's no way that'll work," he decided.  He called Faith.  "Are you sure?"  She complained.  "Well, technically."  She started to complain louder and more vehemently.  "Want a sword?" he asked dryly.  She snorted and said something.  "You absolutely certain?  Because I don't want to be accused of taking it from you or anything.  Because you know someone will, Faith.  He did technically leave it to you."  He nodded at her reasoning.

"If you're sure.  Thanks.  No, it's bothering me.  No, one of the younger ones."  He grinned.  "If you're sure.  If not, let me know.  Not like I can go through it that fast at the moment."  She laughed and hung up, going back to tracking down some fun for her evening.  Xander flipped over, getting comfortable with the dog.  Muffin had decided to sleep with him tonight.  He felt the nudge into sleep from one of his spouses, letting it happen.  He met John on the dream realm, getting a hug.  "I don't want anyone else to tell me I'm stealing it from them."

"She's a spoiled brat, Xander."

"Yeah, but even spoiled brats can be loud enough to be heard by people like Willow."

"Willow knows you have it and why.  Quit stressing."  He stared at him, giving him a short hug.  "Which spoiled brat was it?"

"Kennedy.  Willow's girlfriend."

"Fuck her."


"Fine."  He gave him a kiss on the forehead, making him relax again.  "You'll be fine.  Kennedy won't do anything too stupid.  I'm sure they all know that we gave it to you since they didn't want it."  Xander shook his head.  "No?"

"No.  She had no idea.  I told her that, she accused me of lying.  This all goes back to me going to Africa.  She's one who thinks I ran."

"I'm going to kick her ass."  Xander gave him a squeeze.  "It'll be okay."  He nudged at Tony's mental spot, getting a swat back.  "I guess he's got a late case."  He looked down.  "There's talk about putting those of us with families off-base in Alameda."

Xander looked at him.  "You're annoyed whenever I'm working."

"Well, yeah.  The banging is loud."  He grinned.  "That's something we'll have to work out someday.  That and getting me things to do there so it doesn't drive me nuts."

"You can come help."

"I probably can," he agreed with a grin.  "It's doing great things to your arms."  He rubbed down a new muscle.  "We'll see."  He took another kiss.  "Sleep.  I've got you."  He sat down and let Xander curl up against his side.  They could sleep up here.


Tony called Buffy's cellphone.  "Buffy, Tony DiNozzo," he said, looking around the outside area he was in.  He was out to get some fresh air and wake up again.  "No, small problem.  Kennedy told Xander he had stolen that money from Faith and you guys."  He smiled at her complaining.  "Xander made sure with Faith, Buffy.  Exactly.  He thinks she's going to snap at him for going to Africa."  He laughed at her complaint.  "Exactly.  Can you handle that?  Please?  Thank you, Buffy.  No, John's making him sleep.  He wasn't thanks to worry because of her.  We do want to take care of him," he reminded her.  "We'd miss him and so would you."  He hung up, letting her handle it.  He could imagine the yelling going on out there.  Hopefully.  He went back inside to get back to work.  Things could take care of themselves for a few more hours.


Buffy hung up, looking across the dining hall.  "Kennedy, leave Xander alone. Permanently."

"That was Faith's," she started.

Faith strolled in.  She knew it was a problem from here when he had called to make sure it was still all right, for the sixth time.  "Listen, grumpy bitch.   Xander deserves that for putting up with all of us for years.  He had to put up with B and Red when they were teenage girls.  He had to go shopping with them.  He had to deal with them when they decided he was normal.  He deserves it and I don't need that much money.  It'll help make sure he's secure out there plus make sure his husbands don't need shit."

"He ran!" she shouted, standing up.

"No, he went to grieve in private since we wouldn't leave him alone," Buffy said.  "We all count on Xander for a lot of things.  We would've run him into the ground when we needed things.  He needed the quiet.  He did a kick ass job of training the girls over there.  There's no way he would've been able to grieve for Anya or anyone else that died while helping us set things up.  That plus what we saw when he was here, and the hellmouth reacting to him like he was its teddy bear was a bad thing.

"I don't like that Xander's still so confused but I can understand that.  He never had a chance to do the things you did as a teenager.  He was too busy helping Willow hide from bullies and then me hunt.  Too busy losing people he knew because we couldn't take all the vampires and bad demons out fast enough.  So lay off Xander.  He's not running.  He's handled a bunch of stuff out there so we wouldn't have to.  We'll never know everything he's handled because if he bragged we'd yell about it."

"Well said," Dean said from his seat.  They were in for a bit of weapons training for the younger girls.  "Xander's still hunting.  He's also the one who helped me save Sammy.   He had no reason to come to the apocalypse and fight but he did, and put himself in danger doing so because the spells going on out there caused the worst vision to date.  That night we weren't sure if we should get him to the ER or not because he wouldn't wake up."  She glared at him.  "You may not have learned to appreciate that hunters are human but they are."

"You're not...."

"I'm just as normal as Xander is, only we've had more training because our dad was a hardass about it."

Sam nodded.  "He's right, Kennedy.  All hunters are normal guys.  Every last one of us, even those who've made demonic deals in the past.  Even those of us who got demon tainted.  You girls have special gifts and a lot of skills we don't have; we still do the same job, night after night, like you guys do.  Xander had to heal a lot of emotional damage that the slayers who've actually done this for a while know about."

"The killing does get to us," Buffy agreed.

Faith nodded.  "It makes it hellishly easy to slip too," she agreed.  "No, Kennedy, I let him have it.  He deserved it."

"He made Willow go back to Devon for no reason!"

"She was casting spells without knowing what they were doing," Sam told her.  "Including one that opened a portal, sucked two people over, and made them commit suicide because they were sure she was going to sacrifice them.  That's only one of the problem spells the herb and power patrol had to cure.  She needed to be there weeks ago."

"You don't know a thing about her," she complained, glaring at Sam.

"Yeah, we kinda do," Dean admitted.  "Unfortunately we had to help clean up one of the messes.  Without slayer help because you guys were at the mall."  He stared her down.  "Willow needs the help, Kennedy.  An addiction isn't something that goes away after one treatment.  It's a lifelong problem that needs to be kept in check.  She slipped, again.  This is the third time since Sunnydale fell in."

"The witches said she was pulling hellmouth energy," Dawn said quietly.  Buffy glared at her.  So did Kennedy.  "I called to talk to them about her spell journals.  I found one hidden in the library that had dark magic in it."  She stood up.  "Kennedy, Willow has this blind spot about her magic and doing what she thinks is right and helpful, even if it's not.  The magic blinds her to what's good in a situation.  She's had this for as long as I've known her."

"She had it back in high school too," Buffy admitted.  "Black magic?"

"Dark magic.  Summoning dark magic."

"No.  I don't want that here," Buffy said.

"Xander had an idea that John liked," Sam offered.  "You guys have to set up an office in England or somewhere.  Let her head that one."

Buffy nodded.  "That's not a bad idea.  That way she's near there if something happens.  London is more chaos magic than natural magic with all the people there.  There's not a lot of power there if it's not an emergency.  If there is, there's some to draw on if she's careful."  She looked at Dean.  "The other hunters like you guys?"

"A few were ready to burn her back when she nearly ended the world," Dean admitted.  "Now they're very scared of what she'll do when she backslides.  Beyond setting off another brain ripping vision."

"The final bit of which was Whistler telling Xander to let her know he was pissed with her," Sam finished.

Buffy shuddered.  "I'm not sure if that's a good thing to know or not, Sam."  She looked at Kennedy.  "Xander supported us for years, Kennedy.  He dealt with the financial things when I couldn't or Giles wasn't around to handle it.  He helped me raise Dawn and protect her.  He helped me protect the hellmouth, even if my head was in my skirt at the time.  Hell, even Riley said I discounted him too much."  Kennedy slumped back into her seat.  "Yes, Willow needs help.  We know you're her girlfriend and that could help her best of all, but we're not going to let you trash people because of it."

"Frankly, a lot of the other hunters won't come near you girls," Sam told her.  "Because they've seen some spoiled moments and realized that not all of them are because some of you are so damn young."

"I remember being as young as some of them," Buffy agreed with a smile for the 'kiddie' table.  They all grinned back and one waved.  "At your age, I was still shopping every weekend with my friends."

"Can we do that?" one asked.

"Not unless we start printing our own money," Faith said dryly.  "Some of you learned bad habits from B and Kennedy."  She looked at Kennedy. "Be a supportive girlfriend but don't rag on others because you're having to be the supportive one instead of the pampered one.  And leave X alone.  He's got enough hell with two husbands he didn't really want, brain ripping visions, and learning how to make us special weapons."

"I do want to know if he can make a new scythe for practices," Buffy said.

Sam smiled.  "I think he was sketching one but he's not sure if he can do work that fine and curved yet."

"I'll ask tomorrow."  She sat down.  "We're sorry as hell that she was slipping again, Kennedy, and no one blames you for not seeing it.  Please quit pushing the stress onto others who don't deserve it.  We'll all support Willow, help her do what's best for her."

Kennedy stomped out.  Faith got out of her way before Kennedy shoved her.  "Okay then," Faith decided.  "Boytoys," she said, looking at Sam and Dean.  "Big, major demon like you guys handle in lower Texas making people run back across the border.  Think we can get some exorcism help?  I can't seem to do one for shit."

"Of course," Dean agreed with a grin.  "Want the name of the guy down there or you want Sammy?"

"Don't offer if I can't keep him," Faith teased.  Sam blushed.  "He's cute enough to be an arm attachment and a bedtoy."  She strolled off.  "Using the inter-house transport."

"If we could get the car down there, I'd do that too," Dean agreed.  "Saves on mileage and gas."

One of the witches looked at him.  "I don't know if we could move the car, Dean.  Let me do some research."  She beamed and took her dinner to the library.  She had been wanting to research teleportation.  Willow had made it look neat and useful.

Dean nodded.  "Let me know if you get it set up," he called after her.  "Have fun, Sammy."

"I'm sure I will.  I'm good at exorcisms.  That's why I got them out of Xander the last time."  Buffy gave him a horrified look.  "Him and his dog after the cleanup.  Dean got Tony and we told someone how to help John.  The bond meant it could pass between them if it we didn't hit them at the same time."

"Did they keep memories?"

"They all said no."


"Tony could identify his primary one.  Someone named Samantha Manners?"

"The town ho?" Dawn asked.  Buffy gave her a dirty look.  "She was!  She even hit on Mom."

"From what Tony said yes."

"Hey, then maybe he'll keep some of the tendencies and make Xander very happy when he's in the same place."

"Dawn!" Buffy shouted.

"He's married.  He can have as much sex as he wants," she said dryly before stuffing her mouth.

"And isn't that a happy mental place to go," one of the slayers sighed, giving the others a happy look.

"Some of us are still straight and have no interest in seeing three guys doing that on a rug," Buffy complained.

"If it wasn't a happy place for you, you would've put them on a bed," Dawn quipped with a grin.  "We need to find more pinups for the girls since he's taken."

"I like my women a bit older than most of you are," Dean quipped.  "But you can have naughty pictures if you want."

"I've got a camera," one girl said happily.  "Bring a few guns and a sword, Dean."  He laughed.  She was serious.  She'd get him later.  Then the girls could pay her for their own copies.


Xander woke up the next morning feel tired and a bit horny.  "Damn it," he muttered.  "He's not here."  The dog jumped off the bed, heading for her food bowls.  "Thank you."  He sighed, looking at his lower body.  "You can't have him right now.  He's already awake. We can't even have dream sex."  His erection didn't seem to care.  "Come on," he whined.  "Go away?  Please?  Just for a few minutes so I can get up, go pee, that stuff?  Then you can come back and we'll pound out the frustration on the forge."  His phone rang.

"Yup, we're here and needy.  Oh, Sam!"  He sat up.   His penis decided to lose interest at the mention of her.  "Traitor," he hissed at it.  "Not you, Sam.  My body.  It's being a comedian at the moment."  She quipped something.  "No, I got a hug last night on the dream talking place.  What's up?"  He nodded slowly.  "Sure, I wouldn't mind as long as they weren't cranks like NID.  Why do you need to know about the merman taint?  Yeah, I can probably get you what we took and help you spot the ones in the Pacific.  What do you mean they're near San Francisco?"

He sent a shout at John to watch out for them.  "Sure, come over and get some blood, just don't make me hurt too much."  He glared at his penis since it came back up once he had shouted at John.  He knew he used to be bi but his body should still be reacting to Sam's sweet voice.  His penis was screwed up this morning.  "I'm here and up.  Let me shower."  He hung up and headed that way.  Maybe he'd fix his penis's orientation in the shower this morning.


Gibbs glared at Tony when he started to groan in that special way.  "DiNozzo!" he shouted, waking him up.

"Xander!" he shouted, then realized he was in his chair.  "Um, sorry, boss.  Xander was broadcasting a bit about his penis' distaste of women suddenly.  He's a bit confused that Sam Carter didn't work as well as we did."  He rubbed his eyes.  "Let me go take a cold shower, boss."  He got up and walked down there.
"I didn't need to know that," Gibbs yelled after him.  "McGee!"  He snapped awake, thankfully without the extra information.  "We need a bunk room," he complained.  He went to see the secretary.  "What's the chance of getting us a bunk room so I don't have to deal with sleeping agents acting like teenagers?"

She smiled.  "A little below Eisenhower coming back as our director?  I might be able to arrange a napping room with a couch."

"That'd work.  Even if they did hit it at the same time."  He walked off shaking his head.  Ziva was already awake and snickering.  Abby came up blushing.  "Ran into DiNozzo?" he asked dryly.

"Yup.  He was muttering under his breath about Xander complaining Sam Carter wasn't hot enough for his little Xander's filthy mind this morning."

"Gibbs stopped him from moaning," Ziva told her.

"Ziva," Gibbs warned.

Abby gave him a quick hug.  "I'll see if I can put a futon in my office, Gibbs.  That could help that.  Plus Ducky's couch in his office."  She walked off.  Tony probably needed coffee really badly after he got done yelling at Xander for being too gay this morning.


John walked into the command center, pulling up the underwater scanners.  "Watch these things," he ordered with a point.  "They're changed humans who like to eat people."  He walked off shaking his head.  The fun Xander brought to his life!  He'd have to talk to him about the dirty thoughts later since it was fairly ....strange.  Even he had gotten wood from Sam at least once.  Xander was clearly having some sort of problem this morning.  One he wasn't sure if he was happy about or not.

"What are they?" the technician called after him.

"Mermen.  Xander's swim team from high school.  Expect Carter.  Tell me if they decide to crawl up since they eat people."  He waved before jogging down the stairs.  He had PT to oversee.

Woolsey came in to start his shift.  "Was the night shift quiet?"

"Yes, sir," the technician said.

"What are we watching?  I hope no one patched the video into the showers again."

"No, sir.  Mermen."

"Mermen?" he demanded.  He stared at the screen.  "Why are there mermen in San Francisco?"

"Colonel Sheppard said they used to be Mr. Harris' swim team.  They eat people and they're sniffing around us.  We're to expect Captain Carter soon."

Woolsey walked off rubbing his forehead.  "For some reason I miss the wraith and replicators."

A few of the guys laughed at that.  They were in agreement but it was still funny.


Xander looked at Sam when she appeared.  "I have no idea why my body reacted negatively to you today.  It's like the switch is suddenly set on gay."

She stared at him for a minute.  "That might be good to know with your relationship," she said carefully.  "Is it important?"

"I don't know."  He pouted.  "Is that a problem?  It was too happy because John and I were cuddling last night on the dream realm.  Then you called and it got less happy but happier when I called him.  Is that a sign that my body's reset?"  He saw her funny look when he looked back up.  "Sorry, I'm used to having female friends."

She shook her head.  "No, it means that you like your husbands more than some fantasy woman, even if I am a good specimen of one."

He grinned.  "Thanks, Sam."

"Welcome, Xander.  Can I draw blood now?"  He nodded, taking off his t-shirt so she could do it.  "I didn't need that much access."

"Yes you do.  The last bit of mermaid tainted cells they found were on my right pectoral.  I had an open sore there when I was exposed to the mermaid tainted steam."

"That's how they did it?"  He nodded.  "Any other ways?"

"Possibly some in the water.  The coach wanted to win really badly so people would quit nagging him.  Some of them may've been fed some but I wasn't there that long."

"Okay.  I can take a small sample?"

"Sure.  Don't hurt me too much."

She smiled.  "I'll try.  I'm not the sort of girl you used to date."  He laughed and let her take blood.  Muffin barked at her but he got his puppy calmed down.  She took a small sample of cells as well.  She was even nice enough to help him apply bandages. Then she called the Apollo to take her to Atlantis.  She walked off her landing spot, heading for the infirmary and labs.  "McKay!" she bellowed as she walked.  "Meet me in the infirmary."  She walked in there, holding up the vials of blood.  "There's cellular and maybe genetic taint in this and the cell samples that relate back to the creatures that're trying to pounce the city to eat people."  McKay stomped in.  She tossed him one vial of blood.  "Mermaid taint?"


"Mermaid taint.  They're swarming around the city.  Figure out how to calibrate the shields so they get fried?"

"How in the hell!"

"A high school swim coach wanted his team to win very badly," John said as he walked in.  "He's sorry if he embarrassed you, Sam."

"He didn't.  It's nice that he likes me like a friend."

"This is Harris' blood?" McKay asked sarcastically.  It had to be.  No one else got into those sort of situations.  Not even Jackson could manage that level of strangeness and problems or deadly women.

"He went undercover to see why the swim team was changing from fully human to demonic.  Now they're trying to get up here to eat people.  They killed six or so people back in Sunnydale before they got the coach and hit the pacific ocean."

McKay shook his head as he walked off.  Maybe he could find a way to break the unholy link between those three.  That way he could save John.  He clearly needed saved.  Before he got as warped as the young one was.

John watched him stomp off.  "Thanks for making him not be so bored, Sam."

"Welcome."  She smiled.  "So was it a good cuddle?"

"Very comforting.  No nightmares for him.  The problems he was seeing from the girls quit worrying him."

"Good.  You okay?"

"I'm good.   I've been fine with it, Sam.  Really."

"You sure?  I don't mind if you need to talk since Xander feels that comfortable with me."

He smiled.  "I'm good.  It's cool between us most of the time."

"Good."  She pinched him on the arm.  "He looked slightly adorable pouting."

"He can be that way when he wants.  Tony was still asleep on his desk when you called."

"Oh, his poor friends."

"Gibbs went to ask the director's secretary to put in a napping room or something for those overnight cases."

She giggled.  "That is cute."  The doctor cleared her throat.  She didn't know this one, she had been sent over after her tenure on Atlantis.  Though she did wonder where Keller was.  She'd handle this with only a small giggle.  "The creatures who're trying to get onto the base tainted the man this blood was drawn from.  He said the cells showed a taint the last time he knew."

She took them.  "We'll see if we can weed it out.  What sort of taint is it?"


She looked at the captain.  "Are you feeling all right, ma'am?"

"They came from Sunnydale," John told her.

"Oh!  That makes more sense then.  Let me see if we can find it so we can make sure nothing like that gets onto base."  She went to separate the blood so she could study it.  She really would have to find out what made that one so special.

John looked at Sam.  "So, any other good news?"

"Davis is sending things via the Apollo in a few minutes.  The buildings are being looked at.  We'll know about that within a few days."

"You know, Xander saw this show the other day that he thought would've been the best idea yet.  They had a super science research center that was surrounded by a top secret town who mostly worked for them.  No entry without being part of it basically."

"If we could find a good, open town area we might do that," she admitted.  "If we could land Atlantis on the ground."

"We might be able to.  I don't know.  That's a question for Rodney or them."

"Good point.  When is the show on?"  He logged into the system, pulling his files off the multi-drive to burn for her.  She patted him on the arm once she had it.  "Thanks."  She went to the lab.  That was a better place for her to hang out.  The infirmary was full of people who'd want to stick her with needles.

John left, going to his office to deal with the daily things.  "Guys, the Apollo is sending things soon," he said as he walked into the command center/gate room area.  "Get ready for it."  They ran around to clear an area for the new things to come down in.  "Call me when it comes in."

"Yes, sir," one yelled.  They got the news of the shipment about a half-hour later.  It filled the room and had a note saying there'd be another load and a half coming.  They cleared out the first one.  "Colonel, it's here," he called.

"Thank you."  He came out to look at the manifest, smiling.  "The first load had things for boredom.  Evan Lorne to the gateroom," he called over the comm.  He came jogging in.  "Set it up in a spare room.  Make a few lounge rooms as well.  You're in charge of setting it up for after hours entertainment."  Lorne nodded, taking the pallet puller with him.  "Have Radek help if you need technical stuff," he called after him.  The next load had a few more things that got set aside.  The rest got sent to the cafeteria.  They'd have a good dinner tonight.

Lorne let out a cackle over the comm system, surprising some people.  John just smirked at them.  "Sir, should we worry?" one asked him.

"No.  It's the stuff the team leaders asked for so all the base could be less uptight.  Including stuff for training and fun."  He walked off happier.

"Maybe we should worry," one decided.  "He nearly got that happy after getting back from his aunts' torture."

The other guys all nodded.  They'd see later what had made Lorne that happy.  They didn't want to suddenly be in a telepathically linked gay marriage too.


Woolsey walked into a newly made entertainment lounge.  "Why do we have this stuff?"

"Because gaming can improve your hand-eye coordination, teach you tactics, a few are meant to improve your stamina, and a few are just for forgetting we're military and on Atlantis," John said bluntly.  "We have three game systems, a new DVD player because ours broke, and some educational materials that could help with future training.  Including assault hand-code and languages."

"I suppose that's not a bad downtime activity then."

"The guys need things to do," John said firmly.  "They can use these and get a bit happier until we can work out the off-base stuff."

"I don't disagree.  How will this help training?"

"Some of these are strategy games.  Some are to improve hand-eye work.  Some of them are interactive so they build stamina.  Some are more escapism.  There's even one that you can do yoga with in one of the rooms.  Or other sports.  That's why we got one of those systems and two regular ones."

Woolsey nodded.  "I suppose that's fine as long as they're not doing them on shift."

"Of course not.  They're for after hours unless the team leaders are using it for direct training.  There's a few soldier and war games they can use that way.  It's meant to help with training without being obnoxious in case any of our people end up back on the main base on teams.  Things like languages and assault maneuvers plus hand-code will help with that."

"It probably will.  Good job.  That off-base area for families?"

"Being inspected this week."

"Good.  Thank you."  He left, this was stuff for younger people.

John called a general command team meeting, smirking at them.  "Evan, read off what we have and where it is please?"

Evan pulled up the list on his electronic clipboard.  "We have a PS3 in the former tv room.  It has twenty games, half of them are military related, six are hand-eye building games, the other four are escapism.  The dvd player and tv that was in there is now in the former smoking lounge from the space trip, next to the shrink's office.  It has an extra sixty new DVD's that've been copied for us by Major Davis, our pentagon liaison officer, and General O'Neill.  Which means the Simpsons movie is in there probably.  There is a Wii in this room.  It has all the current games and pads, including the yoga game and the other stuff."

"Five hours of Wii active games, not billiards but the actual ones you move with, or DDR count as two hours of PT," John added with a smirk.

"DDR is in the small room off the dining hall," Evan continued.  "It's a four-player system."  He grinned.  "It's got all the packs for extra songs and moves.  There's an x-Box in the other tv lounge.  That tv system is staying there with the dvd player.  We don't have another enclosed lounge area.  The library has gotten about a hundred new books and some ebooks.  We also have training systems for language skills, new strategy, assault maneuvers, and other helpful things for team situations or those who just want to learn."  He put his clipboard down.  "We can buy the rest ourselves according to the notes in the DDR box.  Any other games you want, bribe someone.  It was signed General O'Neill."

John nodded.  "I did ask because the problem of off-duty boredom and lack of anything to do beyond guard duty and hauling things around got mentioned to me.  We're working on the off-duty situation and the problem of the family leave stuff.  I need to know if there's more dissatisfaction going on, people.  I can't get a cure started unless I know."  They all nodded.  "Good.  These are all open to all base personnel.  No fighting with the scientists or the maintenance and supply crews.  Betting on results is to be kept quietly away from Woolsey, because he'll yell and rant.  Tournaments are up to someone else to negotiate and run.  Any questions?"  One raised her hand.  "What?"

"How many hours are we allowed to use them?"

"Off-duty unless your team leader can convince himself that it'll be training time.  Most teams are going to be starting more training in case we have to move back to the main base to help with an issue.  We all know it happens.  Jackson and Mitchell are still out there pissing off the universe the way Jackson and O'Neill used to."  That got a few laughs.  "We'd get to fill in for the next alien apocalypse.  Any other training teams or individuals want to pursue, let me know.  Things like marital arts we might be able to get someone who teaches it on base to come out for a bit.  Got it?"  They all nodded.  "Any other questions?"  No one said anything.  "No fighting, act like adults, or I'm locking the doors.  The first time I get complained at, you'll get complained at.  Now, go spread the happy news."  They went to tell the others and start the gossip going.  He looked at Evan.  "Get someone very good to run training on how to use the systems."

"I had one of the guys in supply teach me how to use DDR, sir."  He walked off looking much happier.   This was hopefully going to solve a few problems.

John went back to his office.  Rodney leaned in a few minutes later.  "What's up?"

"We have video games?"

"Yup, we do.  Some are just fun, some are more training.  Make sure your people don't fight with ours.  They're for off duty use or training if the team leaders are really generous."  He smirked at him.  "There's new books and dvd's too."

"Thank you."

"Not a problem.  There's also some new educational things, including languages."

"That could help us a lot," he decided.  "We've figured out what the mermaid taint was and how to set the shields against it.  One did try to get onto a pier and was shocked back into the water."

"Even better."  He smiled.  "Anything else that's good news?"

"The off-base family situation?"

"Being worked on.  We may have some off-base housing being found so they can move their families closer."

Rodney smirked.  "Thank you.  A few of mine are complaining."

"Some of ours too.  That's up to them.  They're looking things over this week."  Rodney nodded.  "Training later this week in assault maneuvers before you forget and do some range time, Rodney."

He huffed.  "It's not like the wraith are going to come down here."

"How many times did the old base get invaded?" John asked.

"Good point.  I'll do that this week."  He went to tell the others the rules.  Including that any fights would mean Sheppard's husband would come beat them.  Xander scared more of them than anyone else on base did.  It was the only threat he could come up with for his scientists.


John came back from a weekend off base, handing the supply guy the bag he had begged for.  "Yours.  Rodney said the computer based games won't work on the native systems except the minor things that don't take much processor space.  Things like jewel quest.   You want other things, import a computer."  That got a nod and he walked off.  John went to sign back in.  "I'm back," he called as he walked up the stairs.  The shields came up and froze him in place.  "Huh," he said, looking around the prison.  "Would someone like to explain this?"  No answer.  He tapped his comm.  "McKay to the gateroom ASAP or I'm ruining your laptop."  Rodney jogged in, groaning when he spotted the problem.  "Either the shields are malfunctioning, they didn't react very swiftly when I walked in, or someone has some explaining to do."

"Someone has some explaining to do," he complained, rushing around him to release him. John sighed.  "She recalibrated it to include any sort of non-human taint.  It caught Ronon and Teyla earlier.  I thought it was off."

"I am human."

Rodney gave him a pointed look.  "You shared how many bodily fluids with one who has noted biological contamination due to radiation, alternate DNA exposure, and magic?"

"I showered."

"Did you also scrape any deposits out of yourself?" he countered.

"Um, not fully.  How is it fixed?"

"It's going down and I'll fix it later, after I lock her out."

"Which her?"

"Our beloved second-in-command in the infirmary.  She thinks it'll help fix you."

John nodded.  "Fix it before it catches Carter.  She's due in for that conference with you today."

"Shit," he muttered, working faster.  She would zat the doctor if the shields caught her that way.  Then him.  The shield went down.

John went to find the head guard for the day.  "The shields are down since someone nicely calibrated it to include anyone who's been exposed to other species or radiation."  He groaned.  "Make sure we have guards on the piers and one in the brig."  He went to arrest her himself.  "Doctor P, thank you so much for making my coming back eventful," he said as he walked in.  "I'd like to repay the favor with a nice little room that won't have any work for you to do for days on end."

"He ruined you!" she shouted, throwing something at him.

"Not really."

"You weren't that way before," she said.

"I was, slightly.  Hadn't really done more than play in college."  He glared at her.  "You can go quietly for endangering the city or not.  I don't really care."  Guards rushed in and captured her, dragging her away.  "Thank you, guys."  He went to his office to make a report.  He found the head guard in there.  "Many more of those?"

"Two, sir.  Do the higher ups know?"

"General Landry does.  Someone in JAG asked me about it after the drugging we took.  He said they can't charge me for that and won't be after it had to be finished off to save our lives."  He grinned at him.  "Really, it's fine.  I know there's people like her everywhere."

"She wasn't mad that you were gay, Sheppard, just that you didn't like women so she couldn't flirt with you."

"You know, I liked it when we had the chaos sorcerer working in the infirmary better," he said.  The guard snickered.  "We did.  Rayne?  Huge in the chaos sorcerer list."  The guy gaped at him.  He nodded.  "He was helping, he was a good nurse, and he wasn't annoying.  That or I want Carson back."  The guard nodded at that.  "Let me know if there's many others."

"I can do that.  We'll tell the main base."

"Carter's coming.  She can."

"That'll work," he decided, going to handle her.

John shook his head, sending a mental note to Xander.  Who sent back a sleepy cuddle.  He smiled because a sleepy Xander was very cuddly and very happy to be around him.  Tony was too.  Good thing he didn't mind being used as a pillow.  Xander sent back a cheek lick, earning a laugh from him and Tony.  They'd let him nap it off.  It had been very good.  Worthy of cuddles.  He was so mellow being caught in the shields hadn't irritated him too much.

He felt a warm mental nuzzle and smiled.  You had to when Xander was in that sort of mood.  He gave him a mental pat and the boy settled in again.  At least until the vision hit.  Then he hit the desk.  That wasn't good.  He barely tapped his comm earpiece.  "Rodney, can I have you in my office with the specs for our generators?" he asked, wincing because he sounded weak.  He hung up and rested there, managing to cushion his head with his arms for a bit.

Rodney walked in with an electronic clipboard and the pill bottle.  "Take them," he ordered.

John blinked at him.  "Our generators are going down in about three days due to a storm."

"We upgraded it," he complained.

"Waves, McKay.  Waves."

"I forgot about those.  Big?"  John nodded.  He managed to swallow a few pills dry then put his head back down.  "Why are you getting hit this hard?"

"Xander's asleep.  It's about us.  This one didn't go through Xander."

"You inherited his abilities with the mental link?" he asked dryly.

John looked up.  "I don't know.  Ask Cordelia.  They're in charge of that."  He put his head back down.

"Are you that tired after leave?" Woolsey demanded as he walked past the doorway.  "I can talk to them so they let you rest."

"He had his very first, very own vision," Rodney said.  Woolsey came back to stare at him.  "It didn't get shared like the others.  I have to fix the generators for when we get a hellish storm with huge waves.  We forgot to take those into account.  You, work on your shields," he ordered.

"I have been.  I spent most of yesterday working on them.  I'll figure it out."  He took a deep breath then sat up, fighting the nausea.  "Those suck."

"I'm sure they do," Woolsey agreed.  "Wasn't going ahead with all that supposed to stop those?"

"Unless they sent them directly to us, yes.  I didn't get the last one he had more than a bit of a headache.  Tony got a worse hit because he was thinking at him and his shields need work.  This one was specifically sent to me and for me.  Xander's asleep."  Woolsey walked off shaking his head.  John emailed Sam Winchester, he was a research geek.  Maybe he'd know how to block them out.  He'd even let a mystical tattoo go on if he had to.  There was no way he wanted another of those.  He wrote down what he knew and sent it to Rodney's computer.  That way he was warned.  The deflection shield going down would freak out the city.  Even San Francisco.


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