Xander rolled into the garage on his new bike, coming out of the transporter last, and saw Dawn's and Micah's awed look. "Yeah, I found my alter ego," he quipped, grinning at them. "And my mate's tail looks very good on the back of it too," he said proudly. He parked and got off, patting his bike gently. "There you go, big guy. You play in here. The other bike's are Dawn's human bike and Rimfire's very jealous bike. Do don't take any crap from his girl either." His bike snorted, a deeper sound this time and Xander patted him again. "Just be yourself. They're used to me." He looked at Dawn. Then at Rimfire. "I think tonight's a good night for family talks. Micah, Plutarkians? Coming, destroyed? Where?"
"Siberia and other parts of the Far East," he admitted. "A few are in China. It took me seven hours to convince the president that he didn't want them here. He thought they were just environmental terrorists, like PETA and the Arbor Day Foundation." Xander snickered at that dry wit. "I'm not kidding." He shrugged and sipped from his bottle of water. "We checked on everyone here locally. They all made it through the blackout very well. Meg and Oz have decided to stalk you. Enamel's looking forward to seeing your back when he comes over tonight. He said he wanted you to call him. Does your bike have a name?"
"I don't know, bike, do you want a name?" He heard a whispered name. "You know, Soul Eater's kinda pretentious."
"Yeah, well, that's the demon who decided to pop up yesterday," Dawn said bitterly. "It thinks it wants to eat me."
"Huh." Xander looked up. "Only if you want to mess with the Powers." The demon's voice faded and he looked at Dawn. "So, ready for that bad family talk?"
"Bad?" she asked hesitantly. "Like sending me back to the ho's?"
"No, like worse than that." He put an arm around her shoulders. "Let Rimfire talk with Modo about his daddy while we do this." She nodded, glancing up at him as he and Throttle took her up to the office.
Modo looked at his nephew. "You need ta have a talk with your momma about your daddy, nephew. He was doing chaos magic. That's what killed him."
Rimfire sat down, staring at him. "I thought it was the war."
"I think he was doing something to try to make them go away," Vinnie admitted. "I looked at his diary." He tossed it over with a casual flick of his wrist. "Anything bad happen besides the new demon?"
"No, not really," he admitted, reading through it. "Charley, that customer got kinda mad that you ditched his ride when the power went out. He said you didn't need power to fix it. So I told him the baby was sick and you were out of town with him." He looked up at him. "That it was the heat and the baby was really ill."
"He was. Though it wasn't the heat it was where I got sick off Xander's chili," she admitted, heading over to the garage. She was nearly done. She found the hood closed, and popped it open, finding everything in place, clean, and tightened down. She checked it over, smiling at the sweet sounding engine, then called the owner. "I'm back," she announced. "It's purring. I'm giving her the last test now. Can you come pick her up tomorrow? I'm sorry about that. The baby was really ill. It turns out I had food poisoning and the baby got it from me. Yeah, like crapping orange everywhere sick." The man shuddered, she could hear it. "He's barely a month old," she told him. "I couldn't let him get that sick without help. I'm so sorry about leaving like that." She smiled. "Sure. I'll be here tomorrow." She held out the phone. "That's your engine," she called. She put the phone back to her ear. "I'm hearing a small thud still but that's from an untightened bolt so I can fix that immediately. Sure, tomorrow morning at eight is great. Thanks for being so understanding." She hung up and turned off the motor, going in to fix that one bolt, which threw something else out of whack, but she understood that change and had it fixed within minutes. She turned it back over and it was purring sweetly, more than to her satisfaction. "Thank you, Rimfire," she called as he strolled in. She looked back at him. "Good job."
"Dawn and Micah," he admitted, handing her the paper. "We responded that the baby was ill and you had to leave suddenly because of that. I think you should jack the price on him." He put the hood down and wiped off the smudges. "There you go. Baby?" He was taken off and handed over. "My daddy did chaos magic," he said, looking at her.
"So your mother said." She looked at him. "Were you polite?" He nodded, handing her that paper. She read it and smiled. "Thanks, kid." She kissed him on the cheek. "Any other support?"
"No, it stopped there. The editor stopped it there. He called to tell us there was an apology by the guy and he still didn't print it because it wasn't fair to him." He shrugged. "I can't imagine my father doing chaos magic."
"Yeah, well, even that Ethan guy looked normal from what I've heard," she said, giving him a hug. "Just don't follow."
"Oh, I'm not. I'm staying on the straight and narrow about that. What about my momma?"
"She mentioned your tail and her foot a few times," she admitted. "Modo and Vinnie both assured her that we're watching over you to make sure you don't follow him." He nodded, relaxing some. "She's not mad, but you do have a new brother-in-law and a stepdaddy."
"Shit," he said, shaking his head. "Who?"
"Plumb married your pregnant sister and there was a Commander Rotor who married your mom while we were there. Some people suggested that your uncle and the bros form an escort service for those people reluctant to marry when their families wanted it."
"I can see that, the poster with my uncle scowling. You don't wanna upset your momma, do you?" He burst out in giggles. "Or Vinnie's. Nice guys may finish last in some things, but not in this race. They get to keep the trophy girl. Just look at mine, and him pointing at you and the baby." She laughed at that one. "Xander's would be something like 'marry the good one. There's worse out there, I dated them'."
"Throttle suggested 'do it or I'll let Vinnie and Xander bounce you to death'," she said with a smirk. He broke out in mad giggles, curling around the baby so he couldn't drop him. She sobered up. "Do you know what they're talking about, Rimfire?"
"The Powers That Be." She pulled him into the office and shut the door. "Xander's pretty sure that if you two have kids down here then the Powers will try to take them. They'll be a champion or a slayer. He said the only way to prevent it is to have them on Mars, tie them to Mars, christen them on Mars, and bless them to a Martian deity." He took a deep breath and held the baby tighter, until he heard a protest, then he eased up and let out the breath. "Xander didn't know how to tell her before but he found out he had to this time. I'm warning you because you two need to talk about this and she'll probably be crying
"She's crying right now," he admitted softly, looking at her. "It's that simple?"
"That'll help the ten percent of the time they can't get the kid. If it's born up there they can't really touch it. They may still be able to make it a slayer or a champion but on Mars, what would it do? The present one is having babies. Lots and lots of babies."
He nodded. "I know Rivet." He sat down, looking at Vic, handing him back after a moment. "Ten percent?"
"That's the only way we could figure out that they couldn't get them."
He nodded. "I understand." He stood up. "Another good reason to wait a very long time. That and I've got two nieces and one on the way?" She nodded. "That's fine then. We'll talk about it tonight. Gods, ten whole percent?" he asked coldly, looking up. "You've already fucked up her life a few times, Powers. Let's not keep going."
"Don't, Rimfire, it won't help. This is like a big chess game to them," she said quietly. He shook his head and stomped off. She slumped and looked at her son, who blinked up at her. "I know. It sucks. At least you missed it." She looked out as the door opened, waving her customer inside. "Hey, come on in. It's done if you wanted it now."
"No extra charge for those days?"
"No. Just parts and the labor costs like we discussed." She pulled out the estimate and checked it over, doing the math in her head before handing it over. "The same as it was last time." He nodded and wrote out the check, then took that and his car with him. She slid the check into her special locking drawer, holding it for three days. She knew he'd try to bounce it on her and then she'd have to sue him and why would she want his car? She knew how much work it needed.
Dawn came running out of the office and Modo grabbed her, hugging her. "We'll do what we can to help."
"You know too?"
"Xander told us all," he said gently. "So that one of us remembered and knew to get you up there in time and what to do." He pushed her hair off her sticky cheeks. "It's not like my momma or his momma would mind having you two permanently."
Xander came to the door. "It's not just you, Dawn. It's me. It was Willow or Tara. It's Faith, it's your sister, it's all of them. Fred and Wes are doubly indebted to them now. Their kids'll be worse than Connor." She sniffled and nodded, lunging at Rimfire as he walked up the ramp. "She told you?" He nodded. "We all know, that way we can help when the time comes." He nodded, hugging his girl and walking her off. "Take her for a ride, Rimfire. I've still got to tell Faith somehow." He went back into the office and closed the door, going to get a cuddle. He could use a cuddle at the moment. He hated the Powers anymore. Maybe that's why he had nearly gotten sacrificed. He was onto their little games.
Throttle kissed him on the head. "If it was, then we'll kick their tails too," he said simply.
"Yeah, hopefully." He looked up. "Cheer me up?"
"Go for a ride on your new bike? Get him used to his new turf?"
"Sure," he agreed with a big grin. "He could use it." He couldn't find it in him to move however. "I'm comfy," he decided.
Throttle laughed and gave him a squeeze. "I think the phone's going to ring. You usually get comfy right before then."
"Hmm," Xander agreed, grabbing it when it started. "Yeah?" He listened to the person on the other end. "Shut up, Fred. It's not like I believe you. Nor will I believe you. Really? Then let's start mentioning names. Caroline? She's not a slayer, she's a champion in another way. Connor? Male slayer if there ever was one. Have someone do a reading for Buffy's kids, Fred. What are they going to be? Or how about yours?" She hung up and he looked up at his mate, dialing his former boss's number. "Hey, me. Faith there? No, it's a major bad but a personal one. No, honey, I'm not widowed and I thank you for asking. It's a personal bad for her. Sure." He waited while Megan got Faith for him. "Faith, it's me. You do know that the Powers will turn as many of those children to their service as they can, correct? Ninety percent. Yeah, we've had to warn Dawn today too, in advance but I couldn't put it off any longer. Really? Have someone like Lorne, the Host, do a reading on Caroline. Really." He waited while Faith shrieked his name, getting someone running. "He's there," he told Throttle. "Hey, it's Xander. No, I figured this out by looking at Caroline actually. Ninety percent chance of the Powers taking over her life and fucking it up."
"Xander," Throttle sighed.
"Sorry, babe." He smiled and hummed, getting happy news. "That's all I ever wished for. Then again, I know when they abandoned me. Test Caroline. Tell me if I'm wrong. Then Test Faith's kids if you can." He waited while Lorne did that, appreciating the green skinned, red horned demon a lot. He heard Faith shriek and something break. "Lorne, Fred knows that I know. She called and I told her I know and that it'll be her kids too. Help them all you can, man. You're the doorstop at the moment." He hung up and snuggled in again. "Wes should be calling soon, or have Buffy calling."
"I'm all for being out on the road then," Throttle admitted. He stood up and pulled Xander up, taking him out and down to his bike. They rode off just as the phone rang.
Vinnie answered it. "Yeah?" He listened to the rant. "Buffy, do you really want to see Dawn with a kid like Connor? Or like Caroline? Yeah, well, call Faith. I think she knows now. I heard Xander calling her and talking to someone named Lorne." He hung up and got comfortable, looking at his son and Charley. "He's not, right?" She shook her head. "Good." He relaxed. "I'd hate to have to whip their tails when they tried to touch my son."
Xander grinned as he stopped his bike by the pretty lady on the street corner. "Finding a new job?" he teased.
"That's a huge bike, Xander," Buffy said, staring at him. "How did you know?"
"They abandoned me when Willow was trying to stop me from stopping her." He nodded and she shook her head. "I'm perfectly safe."
"So? It's still a bike. I don't like motorcycles. Not even Dawnie's. Speaking of, what happened to hers?"
"Rimfire's bike got jealous."
"Rimfire's *bike*?" she asked. The bike's front wheel turned to look at her and Xander didn't move it. "Possessed?"
"No, AI." He grinned brightly. "You can come back to the lair, Dawnie could use another hug."
"Sure, I can be the big sister again." She shook her head and pointed at the little rental Yugo she had. "I'll follow."
"Sure, I'm picking up lunch first though." He grinned and sped off, letting her get into her car and follow him up the street. He pulled into Chef Andy's and beeped, waving at him. "Like him?"
"I do," Xander," he agreed, leaning out the window. "He's a pretty bike. You here for food?"
"Of course," he grinned, getting off, letting his bike stay there for a moment. He walked over and handed him the list and a fifty. "We're starved."
"I figured as much. Go move your boy before he gets...." He watched as the bike parked himself. "One'a theirs?" Xander beamed and nodded. "Well." He patted him on the back. "I'm damn proud, son. You deserve it." He went to wash his hands and fix food for them. He came back with the large bag and a wink. "You didn't order enough so I made extra, I figure the blonde following you around could use a few good meals too."
"Probably," Xander agreed, giving him a hug through the window. "Thank you for letting us buy that. There were a lot of happy little kids that night." He grinned and took the bag back to his bike. "Dinner, let's go home, big guy." He got on and grinned as the backrest came up. "Sure, I could use that." He started the bike one handed and took off, heading back to the lair with Buffy following. He pulled into the garage and held up a hand so she parked out there.
"When did this appear?" Buffy asked as she got out.
"We had to expand," he said with a small shrug. "I designed this part too." He got off his bike, giving him a pat. "We're going for a nighttime ride later, that way you get used to streetlights too." His bike seemed to purr at him. "Cool. Maybe we'll go with Throttle instead of riding beside him." Throttle's bike beeped a laugh. "Up to him, dear." He nodded the confused looking Buffy to follow him, heading up the nearest ramp to the library. "Angel's assorted crap," he said, waving a hand around. "Food!"
"Kitchen!" Vinnie called back. He stuck his head in the doorway. "Hey, Buffy."
"Buffy?" Dawn yelped, hurrying out to hug her. "You're here?"
"Of course I'm here. I'm checking on you. That's what I do. And then I get to go be senior slayer and check on Faith." She gave her a squeeze. "Let's go eat."
"Sure." She took the bag and led the way to the kitchen. "Xander got dinner."
"Good," Throttle agreed, coming to get their dinner. He gave Xander a look and got a grin in return, and an image of them on a midnight ride. "I don't have anything to do tomorrow either," he offered with a smirk, taking his inner bag back to the couch to eat there.
Xander found his inner bag and sat down in his usual seat, at Throttle's feet, resting against his leg so he could have the table. Modo and Staff came in with theirs and Vinnie came back dragging Charley and the baby to eat. "Hey, baby mouse."
"Ooooh, how cute," Buffy cooed, taking the baby to hold. "You're a little furry mouse. You're so adorable!" He pulled a thumb up to suck on, but seemed to be smiling. "You're so cute."
"He is," Charley agreed. "Probably needs changed to." Buffy handed him back. "Thanks. Anyone want this one?" Staff pounced her for the baby and took him off to change him. She brought him back a few minutes later and Vinnie stole his son back so she could eat, Modo was going to make sure of it this time. Charley accepted her bag. "Chef Andy's okay?"
"Yeah, and he made extra for Buffy."
"I was wondering why there were extra sandwiches," Dawn admitted, going back to grab the bag and hand Buffy her's, it was marked as 'for the pretty blonde'. She left Rimfire's in there, getting comfortable next to her sister. "So, why did you show up?"
"Because I thought you might need me," she said simply. She gave her a mild nudge. "That's what big sisters do."
Dawn looked at her. "It's true?" She nodded. "You're sure?"
"Fred said so," she admitted. She ate a bite of her sandwich and looked at it. "What's this?"
"Barbeque pork." Dawn dug into hers. "It's a family favorite."
"Sure." She ate another bite. "Fred was talking about a lot of gross food from when she was a slave." She took another bite and finished that one. "Oooh, we saw Cordy, Xander."
"How is the snarky one?"
"Still being a messenger, just a higher level one. She came down to rip Fred a new one for doubting." She looked at him. "She was not happy with that or with Faith for some reason."
"I tried, they said she jumped in." He bit into his next bite.
"It happens," Buffy sighed. "Could have been me or Dawnie, or even you," she said with a smirk.
"Then I'd never get good abs," he joked back, finishing that sandwich. "Speaking of which, I need help in the gym. I'm not getting results."
"Sure," Vinnie said, smirking at him. "We'll work out then soak."
"Sure." Xander grinned at Throttle. "So, are you riding with me, or beside me tonight?"
"We'll see," he offered. He worked on his second sandwich. "Buffy, need a room?"
"No, I'll be flying back about midnight. Wes said we've got a problem coming and you're going to hate him, but to please call him." She gave him another look. "Another bad chess move according to Cordy."
"Cordy can play chess?" Dawn asked.
"I'm guessing someone finally explained it to her, or it's from where she ascended to a higher being." Buffy shrugged. "I don't understand it. She said something about a sacrifice split play?"
Xander scratched the back of his head. "I'll call him before my ride tonight. Who?" She shrugged. "Fine." He looked back and grinned. "Do I get to save the world by myself this time?"
"Hell no," Dawn told him. "You alone is a scary mouse. You alone nearly painted Charley into a wall, nearly painted my room while I was sleeping, nearly bounced us to death before you latched onto the transporter, and then you probably went and bounced Mars to distraction and nearly to death. No more doing things alone!"
"He only bounced for two days," Throttle told her with a small smirk. "One of them was my momma's fault, but he settled down once he got up there and took a nap almost immediately."
Dawn looked back at him, frowning. "No halo. Super mutant mouse powers?" she asked.
Throttle smirked. "Cuddly mouse powers. We got him back to my momma's and settled in on the couch while she spoiled us, and he took a nap too."
"We all took a nap, bro," Vinnie reminded him.
"Remember, if you dump him, Primer wants him," Charley teased, smirking at Xander. "Then what'll you do?"
"Run screaming and hide behind Modo," Xander said firmly.
"I'd be torn, bro. She's my niece and I want her happy but I'm not sure you'd do it for her," Modo teased. Xander blushed.
"She's got a spouse now," Throttle said firmly. "Remember, I can flame tails. She touches what's mine and I will." He reached down to stroke one of Xander's antennas, making him shiver. "Remember, you guys said you'd help me protect this one."
"Yeah, until we have to protect you to protect him," Vinnie snorted. "How many psycho women are still going to come for him?
"I'll hurt them if they try," Xander said sweetly, grinning at him. "I'm not helpless. I can defend myself against evil women." Buffy gave him an odd look. "I can," he said firmly.
"I'm sure you can, but you never seemed to want to."
"All Sunnydale had were bad girls and lesbians," Dawn said dryly. "Feel lucky he didn't *actually* marry Anya." Vinnie and Throttle both shuddered at that. "By the way, are we sure Stoker's daughter isn't her?"
"Yeah," Xander agreed, digging in again, ducking his head. "Seen her a few times down here." He stuffed his mouth.
"I saw her during that nightmare," Throttle offered.
Dawn shivered and looked around, frowning. "She summons that easy?"
"Yeah," Xander sighed. "She's been hovering to watch us have sex. Might as well come out, Ahn." She faded into view, giving them a sheepish grin. "You see, she's not Stoker's daughter."
"No but she is cute!" Anya cooed. "Such a little me!" She beamed at Dawn. "You and your furry little guy are adorable too. Too bad all our stuff went to Anya's mommy. You two could have used it too. Xander, you need to show her where I used to shop."
"Already know it, babe," Dawn quipped. "I get a lot of straps from there."
"Oh, momma," Modo moaned. "Not again."
Anya pouted at him. "What?" she asked, stomping her ghostly foot. "I'm just like this."
Xander kicked at Modo's foot. "I nearly married her. Her boss showed me why I didn't want to. I could have brought her back with me when I came back."
"I'd never unblush," Vinnie quipped. Anya beamed at him. "So, having fun?"
"Lots. You guys are really hot," she assured them. "I never thought Xander would look so good taking it. I guess I should have begged him more to do that for me." Xander shook his head. "You wouldn't have?"
"Nope," he said dryly, unwrapping his last sandwich and looking at it. "Slaw. Vinnie?"
"Starved," he admitted, taking it.
"It's not like Andy to mix those up," Charley said, looking concerned.
"He was on the phone with someone he was calling nephew," Xander offered. "He was very impressed with my boy."
"I'll pop around on him tomorrow, see if he's okay," Charley decided. She looked in her bag and handed Xander her extra one. "I think that's yours. I never eat four."
"Wow, the fur made you a lot more hungry," Buffy said.
"I haven't really eaten in a few days, Buffy. I still can't eat when it's too hot."
"Sorry. So where were you? We tried to call recently."
"On vacation," Throttle told her. He reached down to stroke the back of his man's head, calming him down again. "Vinnie, you sure you wanna do the gym with him tonight?"
"I can. I need to work out." He looked at Xander's body. "Okay, stand up and take off the shirt. Let's see how bad you're doing." Xander finished his sandwich and took off his shirt, standing up so everyone could see. He turned around and flexed his arms.
Modo looked at his arms, then at his stomach. "You're not flabby. You've got good muscles. Just not definition."
Xander sat down. "I know, which is what sucks. I'm trying really hard."
"You could go on one of the bodybuilder's diets," Dawn suggested.
"I'm not into hurting my body," Xander reminded her. "I thought about some supplements but I'm not too sure of those either. That'd be like taking steroids."
"Which you probably shouldn't do," Buffy agreed. She looked over as a bike came up the ramp. "Wow, you guys drive all over the place. Do you drive into the bathroom too?"
"No, honey, it's too easy to take a piss when you're riding," Enamel said, taking off his helmet.
"Glad I don't ride with you," Dawn snorted. "Hey, doc."
"Hey, brat. Rimfire?"
"Wandering and thinking." She held up her extra sandwich and he shook his head so she held it up to the family and Staff snatched it. "Hey, it won't go to waste," he quipped, grinning at her.
"Did you have a good vacation?"
"Mostly. Xander figured out how to get into the brain factory of the old bike factory and he found us a few new bikes too. Plus the plans."
"Happy to destroy stuff in the service of the homeworld," Xander said regally, nodding at her. She giggled and balled up the paper, tossing it at him. He grinned at Enamel. "I've got a bike," he said proudly.
"You do? Let's see." Xander got up and walked him down to the garage, waving at his bike. "Wow." He walked over, looking it over. "It's a strong bike. Naming it?"
"Him?" He looked at him. "Okay." He grinned. "Most are girls." The motor fired in a low rumble. "Never mind, you do sound male, boy." He patted him on the handlebars. "He's sweet, Xander. I'm surprised you let him stay out here."
"I don't want to deprive him of the girls' company," he protested. "He's still getting used to things down here." His bike nudged him and he hugged him. "I love you," he whispered. "You're so great!"
"I spent my first week sleeping on mine," Enamel offered. "Okay, shirt off again." Xander took his shirt off, going back to wiping his bike down.
Enamel pulled him up, looking at his back, pressing gently. "Good, you healed perfectly. No lost fur or anything." He patted him on the shoulder. "You feel okay? No more dizziness?" He checked behind his ears. "Ah, fixed." He flipped him on it. "Feel better?"
"Much and she used some botox on that extra tube in the human side." He turned at him, leaning on his bike. "I'm having problems getting definition in the gym. Do you think it's my diet?"
"Some guys aren't meant to be cut and buff guys," he offered, turning to lean against his bike too. He pressed on the seat. "He's very nice, Xander." He scratched his neck, looking at him. "Most guys who are that cut are on special diets, they're on high protein and no carbs for the most part. That way they burn all their body fat. Getting down too far is actually bad for you. Besides, you're still a pretty young mouse in that part of your life. As a human, yeah, I'd say you could do it. As a mouse, you're barely a teenager. You won't be able to build muscles like that for possibly years on your mouse side." He stared him down and Xander nodded. "Remember, you've got to take into account the growing mouse boy inside you," he said, poking him on the stomach. "That's harder than mine is."
"I'm still a comfy pillow," he said grimly.
"So's Vinnie and he's very cut. That's not muscles, that's more attitude," he offered. Xander shrugged. "So, working out is fine, but I'm still wary about your nutritional intake. Did you eat today?"
"Yeah, we just had dinner. I had four sandwiches."
"It's dinner. What happened to breakfast and lunch?" he asked patiently.
"Um...." He thought back. "I slept through breakfast and I had a shake for lunch," he admitted. Enamel swatted him with his tail. "Ow!"
"Let's go," he said, taking his arm and leading him back up the stairs. "Throttle, do I have to kick your tail to make sure he's getting good enough nutrition?" he demanded. Everyone stared at him. "Your boy missed one meal, had a milkshake for a second one, and just now ate."
"He'll probably snack later," Modo offered.
Enamel looked at him. "When you were about twelve or so, how much did you eat a day?"
"I'm not that hungry," Xander protested.
"So? Eat anyway! You need the calories. You don't want those muscles you want so much to come from starvation, right?" Xander shook his head. "Good! Sit! On your mate's lap." Xander went and sat on Throttle's lap while Enamel pulled out a small, round, red disc and put it on Xander's left upper chest, plugging his readout into it. He looked at it as it loaded and read Xander's general identity. He looked at it and then looked at Throttle, showing it to him behind Xander's back.
Throttle looked at the readout. Xander was listed as a twelve-year-old mouse with light starvation and generally good health so far, but his calorie intake was not equaling out. "How do we fix that?" he asked, handing it back. "We're not a great group for regular meals."
Enamel tapped a few things and then looked at him. "He's running about seven hundred calories a day short for what he's doing. That's a slimfast shake a day. Make him have two. When he's missing meals, he can have those. When he's being really active, like working all day, I'm not going to say anything but he'll be so far down he'll pass out again. You're starting to weaken his bones. He needs calcium, iron, protein, and calories. Not empty calories, but good calories. When and if he starts working full time again, if he's working as a construction worker, make that closer to a thousand or more."
"I was always ready to nibble while I was working," Xander admitted.
"That's because you're burning a lot more than you take in," Enamel said, swatting him gently. "If you were doing this and a kid, I'd report you to CPS. Got it?" Xander nodded quickly. "So let's work on getting you those calories. Let's try for some real food for most meals, and something to take the place of those ones you can't eat."
"He has troubles eating when it's hot," Vinnie told him.
Enamel sighed. "Those are the days when you eat those stupid diet shakes and diet bars and all that stuff. Or you find a good substitute. Something that's not a coke or a rootbeer." Xander nodded at that. He took the disc off and tucked it away again, unhooking his display from it. "We want you to be a big mouse someday, Xander. You're only twelve as a mouse. If you continue like this, I'm going to have to forbid sex."
"He's a kiddie mouse?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah, but sex ages him," Throttle told her. "He's still a twenty-four-year-old guy," he told her. "Just that his mouse side is aging too." He saw Vinnie shift and looked at him, seeing him mouth 'his birthday is next week' and raised an eyebrow, quirking a grin. He hugged Xander, giving him a cuddle. "We'll go pick you up some of those tonight, Xander."
"Sure. Can we go to GNC instead?"
Enamel looked at him. "As long as it's not bodybuilder's shakes, yes," he allowed. "Get more multivitamins too."
"Can I take the kids ones?" Xander asked.
"Sure, take two now instead," Enamel said with a grin. "You'd hate it if I had to forbid moving, riding, working, and sex."
"Yes, sir," he said happily, snuggling into the warm arms. "I can eat more often at McDonald's."
"Not too much fat," Vinnie complained. "That'll keep you from getting those muscles as you age. What about his aging? Is it too fast?"
"No," he said, shrugging a bit. "Give him a week before you make him age more," he told Throttle. "Let him catch up now and then."
"We take spells like that anyway," Throttle admitted.
"Soul Destroyer," a voice whispered. Anya squeaked and disappeared.
Buffy looked up. "Didn't I slay you last year?" The ghost left. "What a woose! Two foot tall, looked like a pokemon marshmallow. Really pitiful." The demon appeared and she pulled a knife, throwing it at it, pinning it against the wall. "You wanted another butt- kicking?" The demon struggled and Dawn muttered, raising a hand to incinerate it. "Nice job, Dawnie!" Buffy praised, giving her another hug. "You're really handy, as good as Willow without the accidents."
Dawn preened. "Thanks, Buffy." She grinned back at Throttle and Xander, who reached down to pat her on the head.
"Much better than Willow, who's still pouting that she can't make it snow on Mars."
Throttle looked at him. "When did you see Willow?"
"Shopping." Modo frowned at him. "With your mother," he agreed. "While we were looking for helmets. She popped in and made your mother grin at her happy babble and what she was trying to do. She thought she was cute, but tragic."
"Only some outfits were tragic," Buffy admitted after a bit of a hum. "Then again, Willow wasn't really a tragic figure, it was kinda her own thing and then she atoned and kinda got a reward I guess." Xander shrugged. "Yes?"
"Not a clue."
"Okay." She grinned at him. "Call Wes."
"Sure." Xander summoned over the phone, dialing the number with a sigh. "Hey, me, Wes wanted a confab? No, I'm fine, just apparently starving according to my doctor." He waited while Fred got Wes. "You wanted a confab?" He listened. "Huh?" He listened to him ask the question again. "What would I do if you told me two people had to die to save everyone in Chicago? Um, save them and solve the crisis?" he suggested. Throttle leaned closer to listen too. Wesley outlaid problem for them, making him frown worse. "Okay, who are they?" He nodded, memorizing those names so he could look them up. "Sure. How soon?" He shivered. "Done, dude. Yeah, it was great. I got to sightsee and nearly gave everyone food poisoning making chili." He snorted. "Sure." He hung up and looked at Buffy. "He reminded you to check on Faith today too." He threw the phone back at the charger and stood up. "I'm going to the office. Give me ten minutes." He went in there to do a google search for those names, finding a newspaper article that had their pictures and what they were. "They're cops!" he groaned.
"Problems I can help with?" Dawn asked.
"No, I've got to convince a few cops to take a day or six off." He came out, looking at his spouse. "I'm going to be at the police station tomorrow. If I get arrested, I'll bail myself out in two or three days. Maybe they'll stick me with Giles." He sat down again, getting comfy on his mate's lap.
"Ride?" Throttle asked. Xander beamed at him. "Come on, I'll ride beside you this time so you don't have to worry about calories." Enamel gave him a look. "You said he had to even it out."
"Get him a big sundae, it'll help today. Then you can have a ride on his bike."
Throttle smirked. "I had that in mind too. My girl'll watch." He swatted Xander and he got up, leading him down to the garage.
Buffy looked at her sister. "What is it with bikes? I don't get it. Why go for rides all the time?"
"Um, Buffy, they're going to end up going for a *ride*," she said, adding emphasis and a small leer.
"Oh. Oh!" she said, suddenly getting it. "Never mind," she said, blushing a bit.
Xander walked into the police station with a sigh, looking at the guy behind the desk. "I've got to talk to two certain detectives about something. Where do I go to do that?"
"Information on a case?"
He sighed. "No, someone called me and told me why their lives are in danger this week."
"Oh, Vecchio and Kowalski. Up the stairs, talk to their Lieu."
"Thanks." He wandered up there, nodding politely at the woman at the desk. "Hi. I was told to talk to two detectives or their Lieu about why their lives are in danger? One of my friends got told why, kinda."
She looked at him. "You are?"
"Pitiful," he told her with a small grin. "A lackey as well. Got a strange story that's serious and bad."
"Start with the Lieutenant," she told him, getting up to lead him to the office. She knocked then stuck her head in. "Sir, we've got a guy here who claims two of the guys are in grave danger and it's a strange thing."
"Sure, send him in. Can't be worse than one of Fraser's stories," he said dryly.
Xander walked in and smiled at the young woman. "Thank you." She nodded, closing the door and walking off. He looked at the man and took a deep breath. He was balding, overweight, had on a stained dress shirt and tie, he looked tired and fairly patient. "Hi. Xander Harris." He shook his hand. "First, it'll seem strange, but are you Catholic? These things always go worse and it's a harder talk. I'd like an easy talk."
"I am, but I'm used to the strange stuff."
"Oh, bless you!" Xander said, sitting down in front of his desk. "My name's Xander Harris. I worked with someone in Cleveland who gets...head's up from people above the normal levels."
"Technically, the Powers that Be."
"God?" the lieutenant asked.
"Not quite that high and he's not the only one, which is why most Catholics hate this speech. Anyway, my friend Fred, who is a geeky female computer person, has these visions. Has for quite a while. Proven to be true, saved the world a great number of times from her and others." The Lieutenant made 'go on' motions. "Okay, she saw, yesterday evening sometime, a bad thing. Two of your detectives are going to trip over something that'll make at least half, if not most, of the city explode. They're going to do this in about forty-eight hours, but with warning I'm going to bump it up to seventy-two just in case. I don't know what case it involves, I don't know why. I don't know why them. I do know that people are going to try to stop them from finding it or doing it or whatever's going to light the city on fire like Limburger was lighting the sewers and laughing. Now, I know your first inclination is to throw me in prison and laugh, and I get that, and if you do please put me in with Mr. Giles because I want to kick his ass very badly," he said with a sweet smile. "Unfortunately, if you have anyone who deals in the paranormal around here or they have contacts, they'll be able to prove to them what I'm saying and what I am."
"One of those people who are afflicted by dead people trying to wear them like today's suit. Speaking of, did you know you have three punk looking guys out there?" he asked, pointing behind him.
"No, three punk looking guys from way back when. Looks like the thirties, maybe the twenties. I'm not that good on fashion, just older clothes and one's in really old overalls."
"How long have you been in Chicago?"
"A year and three months," he admitted. "I'm from Sunnydale." He looked confused. "California?" The guy still looked confused. "Ah, you don't deal in that. Got someone who does?"
"Fraser," he admitted. "He's probably involved. Which two cops?"
"Kowalski and Vecchio."
"I knew it," he sighed. "They're a trio."
"They're a quad, his wolf isn't normal from what little I picked up," Xander said dryly. "Or else I'm going to start losing all my fur."
"That is fur?"
Xander held out his hand, letting him feel. "I'm a mouse, sir."
"Okay." He looked at him. "You stay here. I'm going to go get Fraser and them. You explain it to them and we'll see if he can verify you and this stuff."
"Sure." He got comfortable, pulling his hat down some.
"Got ears?" Xander took off his hat and let his tail come out. "You're like those bikers."
"I'm one of those biker's mates and one in training myself," he admitted with a small grin. "I used to be human. I was kinda bored and fortunately a witch helped with that so I'm really happy with my guy."
"Okay. Put back on the hat and hide the tail. We're used to strange, but not quite that strange."
"Sure. Just keep the wolf from eating me."
"You don't smell like jelly or powdered sugar, you're probably fine." He got up and went to the doorway, smirking at the men standing there. "Francesca call you three?" Vecchio nodded, giving him an odd look. "Fraser, go in there first, listen to the guy, see if it makes sense to you. He said he's from Sunnydale."
"The Hellmouth?" he asked, looking worried.
"Formerly," Xander called, getting up to look at him.
"Shit!" the skinny blond cop said, backing up. "I've seen what you guys are!"
"I'm not a bad guy," he whined. "I'm being helpful! I got told that you and the stylishly balding guy there are going to be killed because you're about to trip over something that's going to light the city on fire like Limburger doing the sewers again."
"You were there," the stylish, balding man noted, staring at him. "Where?"
"Um, on the back of a bike. I only got mine recently."
"You had the grenade launcher," he noted. Xander smirked and nodded. "Good shot."
"Usually am," he admitted. "Shall we?" They shrugged and walked into the office, closing the door. "First, um..." He looked at the guy in the red suit. "I know you're not Santa. What are you?"
"Constable Fraser, RCMP." He shook his hand. "You?"
"Alexander Harris. Buffy Summer's former knight. The White Knight of Sunnydale." He raised an eyebrow. "Also a medium and can we make the spirit quit sniffing my tail?" He glared at it and it yipped, thumping his tail and seeming to grin. "I know, I'm an open hole for possession, but please don't. You'll be in conflict with the hyena from a few years ago." He looked at him again. "I'm a medium," he admitted. "A very open medium. Anyway, the Powers That Be sent back two guardians for the Slayers. One of them had a vision. The other two with us are going to trip over something and it'll make the city explode, open to interpretation, and kill about half to most of the city, again open to interpretation. Fred said she didn't know what it was, she couldn't see it. The flames could have been figurative but she couldn't tell. All she knew was that it'd be within forty-eight hours, possibly upped to seventy-two with warning. There are people who are going to try to stop it using... unorthodox methods. They're going to kill them. Wesley was telling me about it so I could pass it on, or not, he wanted not, and started off with 'if you had to sacrifice two people to save the city, what would you do' and I told him very quickly, save them and avert the crisis. That's what I do." He tipped his head in the other direction. "That's all I know so far. I can interpret the fuzzy parts."
"Like you?" the blond asked. "What are you?"
"A mouse." He grinned. "Changed. I used to be a human." He took off his hat, releasing his ears, and let his tail back out. The wolf batted at it and he swatted the unnatural creature for it. He turned to look at the wolf, tipping his face up. "I don't care if the Gods sent you," he said quietly. "I'm not a Knight anymore, just stuck in the middle this time. I do what I have to do to save everyone. You can help or not." He let him go and turned back around. "Sorry. I'm presently not in love with the Powers and they're trying to make my life a living hell."
"You don't know what case?" Vecchio, the balding one, asked. Xander shook his head. "Just forty-eight to seventy-two hours?" Xander nodded again. He looked at Kowalski. "What do you have?"
"The same one you do. The Burgis stakeout." He looked at Xander. "You know stuff you're not telling."
"I know many things I'm not telling, including that the Powers like to play chess with lives," he said quietly, sounding very serious instead of hyper now. "I know that they've done it with me. That's why I'm not with them anymore. They abandoned me to die and I lived, and they hate that. It took me nearly four years to get past what they did to my life. I don't want to see another one sucked in."
"Then why warn us?"
Xander looked at him. "I have morals," he said dryly. "I find them inconvenient in survival situations but this isn't one of those for me, detective." He smirked at him. "Hey, I'm a good guy. I've been a good guy for way too long. It's in my nature. I'm married to a good guy. My bike's a good guy. Sometimes I do have to jump back into the good guy field and make a move of my own." He sat down, looking at the constable. "You knew what Sunnydale was. How?"
"My grandmother was a Watcher before she married."
He nodded. "We worked with Rupert Giles until he turned on me recently. You guys have him so if you lock me up for being insane, can you put me in his cell?"
"I know that name," the blond said, staring at him. "Where?"
"Attempted murder of me and my friends. They pulled him out of our lawn a few weeks back," Xander told him.
"Oh, him." He nodded. "British guy with a headache." He nodded again, looking at Vecchio. "You thought he was a crank too."
"He is a crank," Xander snorted. "He's a chaos sorcerer. They're all cranks. Him, Ethan Rayne, all of them." Fraser stiffened at that name. "He still in a coma?" That got a nod. "Good! I still think he called the thing that was trying to get me dead." He crossed his feet. "I'll go over it slower if you want. I'll interpret it. I'll follow you three around so I can try to protect you."
"What if they succeed?" Fraser asked.
"Crisis averted," he said plainly. "If I'm not good enough to save you then I'm really sorry. I wish I had been." He stood up, looking at Vecchio. "I have the feeling it centers on you and I don't know why. You might ask a certain priest in the city to help you too. His name's Philip Callahan. He's a nice guy."
"I know that name," Vecchio agreed. "He is a very nice guy. Very good with the kids." He pushed the kid back down, sitting on the front of the desk. "Okay, slower this time," he demanded.
Xander cleared his throat. "Can I get a soda first?" They nodded, leading him to the machines and then into a better room for this, an interrogation room. Xander laid a hand on the glass and zapped it, making someone on the other side scream. "I hate people who eavesdrop."
"You just used magic," Kowalski, the blond, said, looking stunned. "How!"
"I'm like that." He sat down, popping open his soda. "Okay." He got comfortable, putting his feet up and moving his tail away from Dief's nose and paws. He laid it across his lap. "Okay," he said again. "I'm from Sunnydale. I was her knight for nearly nine years before I left to move here. Frankly, the slayers drove me off. My present doctor, mate, and friends called what they did mental torture and brainwashing." They nodded. "I'm still one of the most experienced in the city but probably Father Philip. Wesley and Fred are the two present Watchers over all the slayers. We activated a lot of them a few years back." Fraser nodded, he knew that. "Wesley and Fred were called back into Service by the Powers That Be. They're great meddlers, but we all hoped for it because the girls needed a swift kick in the ass." He took a sip of his soda and calmed himself again. "Fred has the visions and Wesley gets to interpret. He had Buffy in town yesterday to check on one of the girls living here, Faith."
"I know her," Vecchio admitted. "I saw her talking to Father Philip."
"Good, she's a good girl sometimes. She could use the encouragement to stay there." He looked at Kowalski. "Fred's vision started off with you two, not the constable, stepping into a warehouse, and then fire. We're not sure if it was literal or not yet. She got the fact that it was a case, not something personal. Not something that directly related back to any of you but I got the feeling she felt Vecchio was more involved for some reason. Again, I don't why, I didn't get that vision, thankfully." He grinned at him. "She got a time sense, forty-eight hours. She saw other parts of the city going up in flames because of whatever you two stepped in. Again, no clue if it was figurative or not. That means it could be something as drastic as a city-wide riot." He nodded. "With the warning, I'd extend the time for at least another day. If it were me, I'd be taking a week long vacation. It's a nice, round number and most bosses don't mind those." He grinned at them a bit. "It sucks. It sucks badly but someone wants to keep you from setting off the flames. They've said that they're going to kill you, unfortunately not by something you can really guard again, nor can I fully. They're going to use magic. I can do something, but I'm not the best." He took another sip. "I'm being honest, guys. I don't want this to happen. I adopted Chicago as being under my protection too when I moved her permanently. I want this less than most. Destroying half to most of the city isn't protecting it."
"Then why not let us get killed?" Vecchio asked.
"Dude, I grew up on survival instincts. With my family. In Sunnydale hunting the things that usually only little kids fear. I saw things that would make your short and curlies straighten out. I fought things that made the military react and jump in fear, and come to my town to try to find an angle. I fought them too. We won. We won all the way up until hell broke open and we had to fight there too," he said bitterly, taking another, longer drink to calm down. "Then we moved to Cleveland. We started over with more slayers. I got used worse so I left and came here. Letting the others who protect the city with me die goes against everything in me, even beyond my morals, detective. Even if I didn't care if you two died or not, that's not strategically sound. My mate would kill me if he heard me say that," he admitted bitterly.
"He'd probably understand," Fraser told him. "He seems to be a fighter himself." He looked at the boy. "All right. So what would you do?"
"Running and hiding is always preferable to standing and dying," Xander said before killing the soda. "I don't know who's doing it. I don't know what method they'll be using. I don't know why they're doing it. If I knew that last one it might help pinpoint the case at least."
"The problem is, the only case that we've got open at the moment is one that has to be done at that time," Vecchio said. Xander groaned, holding his head. "Brainfreeze?"
Xander straightened up, staring at him. "Who's Luger to you and why is he with your mother?"
Vecchio pulled out his phone to call his house, but there wasn't an answer. He called his sister at the desk. "Find Ma. Soon, kid?" Xander shrugged but closed his eyes and considered it apparently. He seemed to look around, then he opened his eyes. "Well?"
"Was she wearing the blue polka dotted dress this morning?"
"She was wearing a housedress the last time I saw her," he admitted. "What was she wearing?"
"A blue, medium blue, polka dotted sorta dress, looked like vintage eighties from the movies but not off the shoulder. Kinda looked like a guy's dress shirt if that makes sense?"
"She doesn't own anything like that." Xander stood up and pulled his head closer, touching his antennas to his head, making him wince. "That's a dress shop, kid. Never had a girl?"
"Mine liked to order or do the mall. Do you know it?" He nodded, going out of the room, slamming the door on the way to find a phone book. "So, who's Luger?"
"I don't know," Fraser admitted.
Kowalski shrugged. "I don't know either," he admitted, sitting on the table. "So, kid, what's with you and the wolf?"
"He's a spirit, they like to put me on like clothes," Xander told him bitterly. "I'm working on it but it's slow going. Besides, I got possessed by a hyena spirit a few years ago so they'd be in conflict. I don't need that inside my head today."
Fraser nodded. "I agree with that. Thank you for that kindness."
"Not an issue. I don't need the headaches." His phone rang and he pulled it out to look at it. "Yeah?" he asked, listening to the new information from Dawn. He nodded and hung up. He looked at Kowalski. "Father Philip just called. He's got a hint of this too from whatever sources he has. He has Vecchio's niece and nephews with him to protect them. I'm thinking it's going to happen sooner. What are you guys doing today?" he asked dryly.
"Stakeout," Kowalski admitted, looking at Fraser.
"I have guard duty," he admitted.
Xander looked at the wolf. "Which way are you heading?" He nudged Fraser's leg.
"No, Diefenbaker, if you can help, I want you with these two. I'm not targeted at this moment." The wolf barked and moved to nuzzle Kowalski, getting petted.
"You sure, Fraser?"
"Definitely. If I'm not in danger, I'd rather have him where danger could be in this case."
Vecchio slammed back in. "Ma's with someone who I don't know and no one knows."
"Father Philip has your niece and nephews," Xander told him.
Vecchio looked at him, just staring for a moment. "Since when?"
"He just called." He held out his phone. "Go easy on the minutes if you can?"
"Sure, kid." He got into the last call menu and called that number back. "Father Philip please?" He paused and took a deep breath. "Father, this is Ray Vecchio. What tha fuck is going on!" he shouted. Kowalski flinched and groaned, shaking his head.
"Everyone backs away from my man when he starts swearing," Xander told him. "It's usually a really bad sign."
Kowalski looked at him and nodded. "Yeah, that about sums it up." He looked at Vecchio as he listened. "New information?" He held up a finger. "Okay." He looked at Xander. "A half to most?"
"She said most, but she thinks Chicago is the same size as LA. She's from Texas originally."
Fraser looked at him. "Winifred?" Xander nodded. "I've met her."
"Me too. She's the one with the visions."
"Ah!" He looked at Stanley. "That does lend a lot more credence and verisimilitude to his story."
"Use smaller words, Frase," Kowalski complained.
"I think he was being redundant," Xander told him. "The same word twice. I had a friend who liked to do that and so does Fred."
Kowalski nodded. "He does that to me kinda often too." He looked at Vecchio when he hung up. "Don't throw it, it's not yours," he said when he saw the signs.
Xander reached over and pried the phone from his fingers, putting it safely away. "I can't lose that. It's got too many secret numbers in it. Sorry." He stared at him. "Worse news?"
Vecchio turned and picked up a chair, sending it into the mirror. "I hate people who target my family."
"Okay. Why are they?"
"I don't know, kid, why would they?" Vecchio snapped.
Xander looked at him, then sighed and shook his head. "You're obviously not a dirty cop, either of you. You're too well respected for that. You're a protector but I'm guessing it's not that. You don't go after their families you go after them to discredit from what I've seen." He considered it. "So either you've already stepped in it or you're about to step on someone's toes. From what I've seen, you guys step on toes very well. And from what I've seen in the paper, you guys do it really often. Is it coming back to haunt or going to haunt?"
Vecchio growled. "I don't like this."
"You don't like this?" Xander snorted. "Try being on this end, detective. All the clues except the last one you need. Who's Luger?"
"He's a new priest at the parish. Ma's taking him out to help him meet some of the people in the church."
"The rasta thug is a priest?"
"Rasta thug?" Vecchio said slowly, frowning at him. "Huh?"
"Rasta thug. Dreads, tattoos, scarification marks, earlobes stretched, buff guy under his suit? He's a priest?"
"Priests are all sorts, kid," Vecchio told him.
"Hey, at least he can probably protect her." Xander stood up and looked out the window, then stopped and stared, kicking at Fraser's leg. He looked and Xander coughed. "Gee, detective, the guy with the sniper scope but no gun next door, is he a bad guy?"
Vecchio moved him and looked so Xander reached over to point at him. "Yeah, he's a bad guy.
"Yo, sniper across the way, no gun yet, just a scope," Kowalski yelled. People went running and he looked. "He looks like that Giles guy."
"Is he on bail?" Kowalski nodded. "Shit. I wish someone had told me."
"What did he do to you, kid?" Vecchio asked.
Xander sighed and sat down again. "Giles has decided I'm a traitor to the cause because I'm now a bit more hairy than I was. He's called me such. So when something came up that would require a sacrifice, he decided to use me and my family. He managed to do something to trap us in our nightmares, but made it so they could all get out, but me. He decided I had to die to stop this creature he and his little buddy released as far as we know, and then sent it after me again by sending me the book telling me why I had to fall on a knife. A special knife that came with the book." He glared at him. "Then he kindly showed up to tell me why it had been necessary after we solved it another way."
Vecchio shivered at the tone of his voice. "Fine. I'm sure you're good at what you do, kid."
"I could follow you around," he joked, smirking at him. "Me, my bike, my adopted daughter Dawn."
"I heard her name. Summers?" Fraser asked. He nodded. "We got those people who were trying to kidnap them on their way to her prom. A fairly dirty and disgusting individual if I remember right."
"Greasepit," Xander said bitterly. "Worked for Limburger." He looked outside, smirking at the people wrestling Giles to the ground. He looked. "Hey, any of you guys shaman or anything?"
"I know a few," Fraser offered.
Xander looked at him. "Any who speak to spirits? Real ones, not ones who have to take the pipe?" Fraser nodded. "Locally?" He nodded again. "Cool. Get him to come question Giles. He's never understood that form of magic or beliefs." He stood up and looked. "That's a Giles," he agreed. "I doubt he's here to help you guys." He looked at Vecchio. "Leave the kids with him. He works in the field." Vecchio nodded. "As in I dropped that demon off with him to send to a containment facility. If he can't handle it, he'll know who can." He looked over as Giles was shoved into the room, smirking at him, arms already crossed. "Gee," he said with a happy smirk and voice. "Look who's here!"
"Xander," he pleaded. "I'm not hurting them." He was sat down and stared at him. "I'm not the one."
"I don't care," Xander told him, shrugging. "Wesley told me so I could stop it. Whoever it is, will be toasty if I can do it. If it's you, you're going to be toasty. If it's not you, you probably know who I'm going to be making toasty."
"Did you capture...." He looked at the others.
"Willow designed the rite. Dawn did the backup plan. We won. No blood other than a few drops needed. We trapped it and it'll be gone forever more as far as we can tell. No sacrifice needed. You? Which one of you called the thing anyway?"
"It was an accident," he said firmly.
"I bet. Like Eigyon was?"
"It was not like that!" Giles yelled, slapping his hand on the table and standing up.
"Siddown," Kowalski said coldly. "You still had a sniper scope spying on the station on the same day someone told us there's a death threat against some of us in this very room. We wanna know why." He turned around a chair and sat down in it backward, resting on the back of it. "You gotta story for that?"
Giles spluttered and Xander leaned down to get next to his ear. "Wesley turned this one over to me, Giles. That means it's my call," he whispered. "My job to stop it and save them. My job to punish probably." He stood up, giving him a serious look. "Now, you can tell me, or you can tell the potential victims. They're a bit harder than the coeds we used to save. They might want to beat the shit out of you instead. They might even stop me from doing it."
"Sorry, kid, the US doesn't allow torture," Vecchio said sarcastically.
"I know, it's a shame in some cases," he said dryly, glaring at Giles. "Then again, I have spent some time on another place recently." Giles went pale. "So, did you see my bike?" he asked happily. He shivered and nodded. "Did you *touch* my bike?"
"No, Xander. I wouldn't do that. I'm not here to harm them. I'm here to make sure everyone is saved."
"Yeah, so am I since I can stop whoever's trying to kill them and stop the crisis. I find a warning is a great thing."
"You can't!" he shouted, standing up. "More will die if you try to stop him."
Xander quirked an eyebrow then punched him, knocking him back into the wall. "Really? Because, ya know, if they figure out what it is that's going to set off the fire, riot, or whatever they can change it so it doesn't happen."
"If it's that one case, it may need to happen that way," Kowalski admitted. "But we may be able to change some things so it's done quieter or a bit differently." He looked at Giles, hauling him up to shake him and 'help' him back into a seat. "Sit down. We've still got to talk." He looked at Xander. "Nice hit. Wanna join the force?"
"I doubt they'd find a hat to fit my ears," he joked blandly. The wolf caught his tail. "Or that," he admitted, glancing back. "Mind much?" he asked. The wolf grinned at him and sat down again. He looked at Giles again. "Or, hey, he could always have a try for you," he offered. "I'm sure he can sniff out who's behind this and who you're protecting. Is Ethan still in his coma?" he asked, sounding like he cared.
"You did that," he sneered.
"The demon did that, Giles, that's why he sent me the damn book."
"Book?" he asked.
"Book, you know, those things we do researching in. This one was brown leather, in Watcher Latin, which you taught me how to read, and said exactly why I'd be throwing myself on the knife." The other man went pale. "Good thing I got hold of Willow, huh?"
"You traitor," he sneered. "You should have died!" He lunged and Xander caught him by the throat, holding him there with one hand over his windpipe, slowly choking him. "You abandoned us."
"No, honey, you drove me away," Xander said simply. "Too bad for you that I found happiness." He let him go, watching as he choked and gagged. "Now, let's try this again. Who's after them? Where are they? How are they doing it so I can stop them from dying and what case?"
Giles glared at him. "Mine, Xander. Since you contrived to put me in here."
Xander hummed. "Hey, I could have tortured and killed you," he said dryly, smirking at him. "Throttle wouldn't have really accepted it but he wouldn't have said much since you nearly killed him too. By the way, you did make Dawn miscarry." He gasped and Xander looked out the window at the floating body. "Hey, he can animate the near-dead." He opened the window and pulled something out of his hunting belt, which was under his shirt. He tossed it on the body, making it thrash and howl. He pulled out another vial and did it again, watching as it thrashed. "Nearly as much fun as a bug zapper."
Vecchio pulled him away and grabbed the body, and it tried to choke him. Kowalski grabbed the hand and tried to break it. Xander came over and kicked the body, making it howl and something float out. "What is that!" Vecchio yelled.
"Hmm, spirit?" Xander suggested, grinning and wiggling his fingers. "Hi. Been around long?" It headed for him and he pulled up a ball of fire. "I'm not in a good mood." The spirit backed off. "Containment, Giles," he sighed. He pulled out his phone and called Father Philip. "Got the thing, it was animating things. It's floating now." He hit it with the fireball when it tried to move, making it scream. "Had enough," he told it. "Solidify and identify yourself." It floated closer. "Containment field, father. Please." He put his phone away and stared at the spirit. "You wanted what?"
"You turned him in."
"Wasn't my idea. I wanted to torture him, the cops got insistent. Yell at someone else, moron." He heard someone chanting and sighed in relief, but it was banishing. "Try for containment, please. Before it comes back," he called. The chanting changed and Xander dropped something onto the floor, then watched as the creature writhed and shook. "Holy water, universal handy thing. More handy than duct tape in certain circles."
"Shouldn't you try to talk to him?" Fraser asked quietly.
"Nope. He's beyond talking. Containing, let him simmer, then we'll talk." He felt the circle take hold and sighed. "Not around me!" he shouted, breaking it and starting it over again, working with the other person now. The spirit was finally trapped and he groaned, holding his head. "I'm going to nap now," he offered quietly. "Someone here can deal with this. Ethan may still need to be in the hospital. Giles just needs to be planted on a pole again." He walked off, rubbing his forehead. He made it down to his bike and got on, relaxing against the backrest. "Thanks, dear." He started him and drove off, heading for home, his bottle of aspirin, and probably a long soak somewhere. At least now they could handle it.
Vecchio looked at the spirit, then at Giles. "Explanations, now," he growled. Everyone got as far from him as they could. You didn't want to get near him when he was in this sort of mood. "Right now." Giles swallowed and sat down again, staring at him. "Before I bring him back and put you both in the same cell for a few hours."
Giles stammered. "I, um, I don't know what you want to hear."
Vecchio snorted. "I'm sure. Frannie?" His sister came to the door. "Check on Ma, she's with that new priest. Then come tell this guy why he don't mess with our family."
Francesca Vecchio walked in and slammed the door. "Ma's at your desk, Ray. But I can gladly tell him."
Xander walked in and smelled the mineral spring going, all but crawling in there with him. Vinnie had to be in there. He wasn't, but it was set up so he'd be here soon. He stripped down and climbed in, putting his head down on the headrest. He closed his eyes and sighed in relief, then let himself drift off.
Vinnie walked Charley in and stopped to smirk and shake his head. "Looks like we've got napping company."
Charley looked at him. "Xander?" No answer. She moved closer, tying her robe tighter around her body. "Xander?" She gave him a little nudge. Still no answer. She checked for a pulse. "He's living."
"What?" he yelled back.
"Come get your boy out of our tub!"
"Coming." He walked in and grabbed Xander, taking him back to the downstairs bathroom to make him shower off. He didn't need an orange mouse. Xander was still limp in his arms once he got him rinsed off and into bed, and he almost worried about him but he knew Xander would be fine. He went to get a few of those shakes just in case, sticking them on Xander's endtable so he could see them first thing. He even curled up behind him to watch him nap, which was fairly boring but he liked Xander enough to stay with him. This time. Next time, he'd be yelling at him. He'd ask how the thing with Giles went later and what was next.
To part 43