In ages past, Ares had two daughters that were acknowledged by the Gods. One went on to found a whole race of strong women, women that conquered, raised families, and eventually spread around the world when the world of men in Greece got to them. The other, she wanted to be a true daughter, marry and have children. Her father didn't understand. He did not agree. He was even charged with killing his daughter's husband. Though he was punished he felt no compunction about it. A mere mortal was not for his precious one. So he carefully chose her husband for her, making his son Cupid infect her with love for him. He was even good enough to grant him immortality. Her husband was strong, protective, and loved her for more than who her father was or what he could do for him. The pair settled near their family to raise their own. Even when the Gods had to disappear from the Earth so mankind would grow and learn more they brought their beloved family with them. She waited centuries to have a child. Until the time was right.
Others were watching.
They wanted the child for what Ares could give them.
That's why they took the son for their own greed and hid him among the mortals. Far away in both distance and time from his grandfather's nurturing care or protection. That's also why they gave him ambrosia beforehand and then bound him. One way or another they'd have a God on their side.
Grandson of War.
Xander Harris was sixteen. He hated being sixteen. His body felt unnatural. His feet rebelled and tripped him. His hands seemed to be twice the size they should. He had zits on his back that drove him nuts because they were in the spot he couldn't scratch without using something that would rip his skin up. And on top of it, he had been having a lot of headaches recently. Fortunately, his friend was an amateur witch and very smart in bookish things so she had looked up the cause of the headaches in the medical textbooks her parents had lying around the house. That's why he was sitting on her bed, feet crossed, elbows on his knees, chin on his joined fists while he watched her read.
"Well, there's three options," she said finally, turning from her desk to look at him. "You could have a brain tumor."
"It'd almost be welcome if they'd stop," he told her. "Or?"
"Or, it could be hormonally linked."
He shook his head. "I was in this growth spurt before my birthday and these started late on my birthday."
"Okay, then the third option is it's a Sunnydale thing. A spell of some sort. With how it started it seems more like a spell." She came over, smiling at him. "Want me to look?"
"Please. If not, we can make up some reason for me to find my medical card tomorrow and pretend to go to school while I sneak to the doctor's instead."
She nodded, pulling out what she needed. She had him sit across from her, taking his hands while she cast the small circle around them. She focused on him, finding all sorts of things in Xander's aura. She had done this part before because she had a massive crush on her best friend. So she wasn't surprised at the riot of colors he housed and put off. This time she was looking for something magical. A marking. A hidden bit of magic. A bracelet on his left wrist. An earring on his left ear. She looked over the rest of him. There was an anklet but for some reason she didn't want to touch that. It felt protective to her. She took off the cuff on his left wrist, and it unhid something around his waist. She reached around him to undo it, making them both blush because she was snuggled into his chest for a few seconds. It came off and he yelped so she took his hands to let him get rid of it. It turned out to be wrapped around his crotch like a diaper would have been. Or like it would have covered a diaper. "Maybe that's why you like such baggy clothes," she teased.
"Maybe." He tossed it outside of their area. The cuff went too. He felt along his neck. "There's something here."
"Well, there is, but I think I have to remove something else first." She was nearly blinded by an evil looking mark on his chest. "Shirt off and it's going to hurt."
"Why?" He did that for her.
She let him see the mark while she got her atheme, the knife she used in rituals. He winced but grabbed his thighs while she carefully cut around it. She kept her knife sharp. Well, he kept her knife sharp for her. They had recently found out about the strange things that went on around them and since they had to hunt vampires before they were eaten he made sure her weapons were the best they could possibly be. She finally got the area around it cut and then worked the knife underneath the spot to cut the flap off. He was hissing and bleeding but she couldn't help it. When it was gone a few other things appeared. She took off the earring and put it aside in a different spot. That one felt like the anklet to her.
She took off the wide band at his throat. The other cuff. Both armbands around his biceps. The one around his thigh she unhid and she let him go down his pants to get off his upper thigh. While down there he felt something and took off the cockring he was also apparently wearing. Then she looked him over. Just one more and it was certainly magical. She stood up, looking at his hair. Overtop of the fine black hair was a mesh of magic and glittering points. She found an edge and carefully peeled it up. She knew tearing it would mean she'd have to start over again. The others would fly up and remesh with his body and aura. She finally got it undone and looked at his back, following it down to peel it off his skin. "Hey, where the lines cover is where you keep getting those annoying back zits."
"Good to know. Magical whatevers are the cause of my acne," he said sarcastically. He let her work. The webbing ended just above the crack of his ass. It joined the other things on the ground and he groaned, grabbing his stomach. "Willow!" he said, clutching her hand.
"Shh. It's your natural being flowing back in, Xander." She sat down in front of him, taking his hands to chant something to calm him. The small sleep spell put him out and she made sure he stayed inside her circle but away from all those things. She put back on the earring, watching as his pain eased. She left him in there while she went to box up the other stuff, sealing it with tape and tossing it into her closet. Something odd was going on and she wanted to research those things first. She turned around, finding Xander floating slightly above the floor. She gaped. "Oh, damn," she said in awe. All across his back were golden lines of symbols she was slowly learning was Ancient Greek writing. She quickly took a picture of it, hoping the digital camera captured it. Then she took one of his earring and the anklet. She sent up a silent prayer for understanding. Her Goddess Hecate would surely know and stranger things had happened in Sunnydale than an ancient Goddess granting information.
An older woman appeared, looking at the boy. "How did you get here?" she asked, smirking at the sleeping boy. She looked at her witch. "Good job."
"Thank you. Um, are you Hecate?"
"No, child. I'm not." She raised a hand and Willow screamed a prayer at her goddess to protect Xander while she worked up some of her own magic. She knew it was futile. The person was very clearly stronger than she was but she wasn't going to let her hurt him. "Do not," she joked.
Willow grabbed the anklet for some reason. Something in her mind screamed at her to do that. She grabbed it, the blood on her hands from the removal of that mark hitting the symbols on it. A bright flash happened and then a middle aged woman screamed at the heavens.
"FATHER! I FOUND HIM! HE'S IN DANGER!"
A bearded man in black leather vest and pants appeared, sword in hand, sneer in place. "Who are you to touch my grandson?" he asked the other woman.
"He's ours. We had him raised," she sneered back.
"Yeah," Willow snorted. "By alchie parents who couldn't care less about him." The woman sneered at her. "Oh, please! I've seen better sneers on vampires we've turned to dust. I've seen better sneers on little girls in the mall." The woman growled and raised a hand at her. Light formed but a body knocked into her before it was released.
"Ya called?" the pouncing body asked, standing up and looking down at her broken body. "Good." He spit on her. He looked at the floating boy. "Usually we need wings ta do that," he said dryly.
"Could be the stuff I removed from him," Willow offered, pointing at the box. "Or the fact I've got him inside my protection circle. Who are you?"
The bearded man looked at her. "I'm Ares."
"Oh." She considered that. "Did Hecate send you?"
"No, the blood on his protections did," he admitted.
"Then she's the one who told me to grab his ankle." She just nodded. "Okay. Can I help more? I've already removed a ton of crap from his body."
The other woman blinked at her. "Who are you?"
"Um...." she said, looking at her father. "Dad?"
"I don't know either," he admitted. "Hecate!" he bellowed, blocking the rest of the house from hearing them. Two women appeared. "Mother. Look who she just freed. She's yours, Hecate?"
"She is," she agreed, knocking her out. "She's more curious than any cat Gaia ever owned too. Doing good work here on the hellmouth." Ares growled. She smirked at him. "He works with a slayer too, Ares." She uncast her follower's circle, letting the boy be caught before he floated to the ceiling. "Better." She looked at the pouncer. "Strife."
"Morning, Auntie," he said with a smirk. "She said she pulled crap offa him." He pointed at the box. "It's in there." She went to look while he pulled some cuffs from Ares' armory, putting them on the foreign Goddess. "All yours, Hera."
"Thank you. Are you sure this is your missing grandson, Ares?" He showed her the anklet Hephaestus had made for his grandson for his birthing present, one that would protect him and call to his family if he was in danger. "Very well then. We'll remove this back to Olympus before we infect the mortals. What do we do with the witch?"
"I'll block these memories," Hecate promised. She bent to adjust her memories so she'd know that she had treated his headaches and that he'd be skipping the next few days by their agreement. Then they took the sleeping boy with them. She appeared in front of Zeus. "The lost Grandson of War has been found. He was in the middle of breaking out of his childhood shell and protections." She dropped the box of hiding bands and the camera.
Ares and Strife appeared with the precious body between them, his mother behind him. Hera and their prisoner appeared together and she dropped her, walking back to her throne. "He was on the hellmouth. We'll need Apollo or Asclepias to check him over," Ares said calmly. Inside he was fuming and seething. Somewhere a war was getting bloodier than it had to be.
Zeus came down to look at the boy. "He looks much like his father. I see the Fates marked him as well." He read the words on his back. "Fates!" he bellowed to summon them. They appeared. "Must you do this to his grandson?"
One gave him a look. "He is the lynchpin to the hellmouth staying closed for good," one told him. "He will not die from it." That got a nod from him and Ares glaring at them. They shrank back.
"He was doing so before he broke out of his powers," Clotho assured him. "He volunteered by no fault of ours."
"Him being there was enough for our woven future when they dropped him off," Lachesis agreed.
Atropos straightened herself out. "He could use some training," she said grimly. "He trips often. He'll start getting injured soon."
"He's a teenager. He's in the middle of a growth spurt. Of course he trips. Even I did. Even Apollo tripped, not that he'll admit it."
"Whatever," Atropos told him. "Make sure he lives. We need him to live." He pointed at the bound body. "No wonder. They'd have a God with them one way or another." They disappeared.
"APOLLO!" Ares yelled. "GET YOUR ASS HERE NOW!" A bright flash happened a nanosecond after he finished. "My grandson was stored on the hellmouth, had binding objects on his body, and still won't wake up."
Apollo looked at him. Then at the napping, floating body. "Usually you guys need wings for that." He came over to look him over, finding something that hadn't been found or removed. It was Godly and only one of them could do that. "Hecate?" She came to look, taking off the chestplate and collar he was wearing. His dark gray wings unfurled and the boy sighed in pleasure, getting off in his sleep. "Well, he works. He's fully one of us too." He checked him over. "He's fully tainted too. He and Hades are gonna be great buds." He checked everything he could, then looked at him. "Who had him?"
"The witch who uncovered him said his parents were alcoholics," Ares said grimly.
"Yeah, and it's really apparent the boy needs to eat, he's got scars, and he's limping on his bound ankle because he tripped and fell earlier." Ares groaned. "Go for it. Blow off some stress."
"In a few minutes," Zeus told them. "Is he healthy?"
"The hellmouth's energy has warped his natural one," Apollo told him. "Originally he was meant to be an immortal or possibly the God of Scribes. Specifically making sure those who wrote war stories got it right." Ares nodded that he knew that. "Now... well, he's somewhere between Ares and Hades' jobs." Zeus moaned and went back to his seat. "He's also a full God." He looked at Ares. "He'll do."
"He will. Thank you. Healthy otherwise?"
Apollo nodded. "Fully. A bit banged up. He tripped earlier and there's some ash in one of the scrapes. I'm guessing he was hunting or fell into a fireplace."
"He's on the hellmouth hunting with a slayer," Hecate told him. "Would weapons do it for him? He's very good with them from what I'm starting to see."
Apollo looked then nodded. "Quite possibly." He grinned at the ruling couple on their thrones. "It'll go and he's still one of us."
"There's no way he can live with us," Hera said coolly.
"No, he's not meant to," Ares told her. "He was meant to be down there and the Fates just said so. Though I'm not going to let you bind him back up." Hecate called Hephaestus to handle the binding objects. "Who else?"
"It looks like some of the smaller cult deities did it to gain power," Hephaestus said, coming over to check the anklet, wiping the blood off his symbols. Ares calmed down at that. "Apollo, can you heal his chest?"
"I can." He healed the cut, smiling when a tattoo came up. "Huh." He sent another burst of healing energy through him, uncovering the rest of the natal bound picture. Ares smiled at the dragon and fire motif. It was very his. The large silver dragon had a sword in one paw and a long tube held in his curled tail. The fire it was apparently fighting was along his right side, curled around it. The dragon curled around his left and up his side and chest to his armpit. His back held only one up his spine - a black sword. "Ares, feel this."
Ares ran a hand over it. "When he's fully grown it's his symbol of power," he said happily. The Fates were really on the ball this time. He found another one around his anklet. More fire but this time it was caressing the silver Hephaestus had created it with. That got a smile from his brothers. "Well."
"Very," Apollo agreed.
"Father, must my son fight?" his mother asked quietly.
He looked at her. "The Fates said he made that choice without anyone's intervention," he reminded her gravely. "We can protect him." She nodded, slumping some. "We will be seeing him trained so he survives. That way you can get to know him and bake him cookies." She smiled and hugged him, going to tell her husband so he could come up and meet his son if he ever woke up. Ares looked at Apollo. "Why is he still asleep?"
"He's got power exhaustion. His natal powers were helping her uncover him." He shrugged. "Feed the boy. He's a teenager. Just like Cupid was when he was younger." He disappeared. He wasn't on the Council of Justice. He could kick back at his temple and watch the fireworks of Ares' temper from a safer distance. Unless that Goddess got help or escaped, then he'd have to help. Though he doubted she'd get very far. Even the gentle, sweet daughter that used to play with Gaia's flowers and nurse the kittens that the Dogs of War found and carried around as toys was going to kill her if she got free. Her temper showed who her father was very well when it was let loose.
Zeus looked at Ares. "This does put us in a bad spot. We all agreed to pull away from the mortals so they could grow and learn."
"He's a unique circumstance and the Fates said so," Hecate reminded him. She looked at Ares. "They bound him as a slave to their powers, Ares. He's very lucky she got them free. Especially the binding webbing."
He looked then at Hephaestus. "Need scrap metal?"
"I could always use more," he agreed, looking at it. "I know Brigid created them. She was conned into it by someone. She was drunk a few centuries back when she told me about it." He looked at his parents. "With your leave, I'll take this back with me and summon her to help me destroy it, before it's used on someone else." They nodded and he did that. She joined him in his cave on Lemnos, swearing at what he showed her. "It was on the Grandson of Ares." They got to work together.
Ares cleared his throat when the worried father showed up. "Less volume to the fussing," he said at his mother's wail. "He's got power exhaustion according to Apollo." He looked at Zeus. "We can ask the Fates what he'll be over now. Or we can work it out with Hades."
"He hasn't spoken to us since the last plague took his granddaughter," Hera reminded him.
Ares concentrated, looking off to the left side of the audience chamber. Poseidon showed up. "Why are you here?"
"He's been part of my realm a few times." He looked at the boy then smiled. "He'll be a good swimmer." He looked at Ares, clapping him on the back. "Congratulations."
"Thank you. Hades, if I have to pull you out of Tartarus you won't be happy," he warned. He appeared in a dull flash of black light. He got out of the way. "Apollo said he's hung between us instead of where he was supposed to be. He's on a hellmouth helping a slayer and he'll have to go back at least part of the time."
Hades gave him a horrified look. "That's the one who's been sending me bodies!"
"Apparently," Ares said smugly. "He any good?"
"Now and then." He came over to look at him. "'Sephie will fuss over you," he said with a fond smile. He checked him over. "He'll be over weapons," he agreed. "That's between death and war." He looked at Ares. "You can agree or not."
"I can agree to that as long as you don't mind me training him."
"Not a problem with me. A few of them have complained that they were watching the wrong person on the hunting team. The slayer's flashy, he's a jump in sort. Fair warning."
"Gee, thanks." He looked at the tattoo on his chest then at him. "Who's the fire?"
He ran a hand over it. "Some ancient enemies. He is our weapon and the way we can help the mortals survive this age of danger." Zeus whimpered. "Tough," he sneered. He looked at Ares. "Get him trained. One said he tripped and killed him by accident."
"I plan on it." His son-in-law gave him a long look. "Talk to the Fates, they said he had to go back to hold the hellmouth closed." He went to storm in on them and demand to have his son back. He looked at Hades. Then at Poseidon. "Do we have any qualms about confirming him? He's mid-break out anyway."
Poseidon shook his head. "It'll help his headache and it'll keep him safer. Make it so he's fully grown into them, he only has to call upon his powers to activate the last inch of it."
"Agreed," Hades told him. "With that we can help him." The boy yawned and blinked at him. "Nap, Alexander."
"Fuck off," he muttered. "Hate that name." He fell back asleep, rolling onto his other side in the air. Then he woke up and fell to the ground with a yelp. "What the hell!" he demanded, bouncing to his feet. He looked around. "I don't care what you do to me, I'm not giving up Buffy."
"Good," Ares told him.
The boy glared at him. "You can torture me but they'll still avenge me. You won't win against her."
"Uh-huh," Ares agreed.
The boy looked confused. "Usually demons brag by now."
"I'm not a demon, I'm a God," he informed him.
Xander looked very confused. "You're a what? God is a myth. Willow said so."
Ares burst out laughing. "It'll be all right, Grandson." The confused look got worse. "Your mother had that look whenever she woke up." She sniffled, then burst out crying. "Quit," Ares ordered. He rolled his eyes.
"You don't yell at a crying woman! They hit you and cry more!" Xander complained, giving her a hug. "It's all right. You don't have to cry. Whatever reason you're crying for can be fixed if they're really Gods. That's why people have faith." She gave him a hug, making him wince. "Ow." He looked down at himself. "I got a tattoo? Was I drunk? Is this Mexico and some funny tequila dream? Or maybe one too many tripping and fallings into a headstone?"
Ares shook his head. "No, it's not. You're not drunk. It's not Mexico. That was formed when you were born, Alexander." The boy scowled at him. He stared him down and the boy only snorted and rolled his eyes. "That is your natal name."
"Yes, I hear it slurred now and then when someone's mad that I didn't buy more booze," Xander told him. "If you're really not a hallucination of some sort, try Xander. If you are, try Xander anyway."
"Fine, Xander," Ares said patiently. He could hear Strife cackling in a dark corner and zapped him. "Quit! Go do something useful and watch the town for me." He disappeared. He looked at Hades. "Well, now we know."
"Now we know," he agreed. "Xander, I'm Hades, God of the Underworld and your great uncle. I'm an Uncle of Ares, your grandfather," he said when the confused look returned. The boy slowly shook his head. He nodded, smirking some. "I am."
"You're really a myth."
"I'm not and you've been giving me work again, nephew."
"Staking things, Xander."
"Oh. Sorry. I think. Maybe. I kinda have to now and then so sorry about the interrupting the vacation stuff but won't stop anytime soon probably. There's too many to run out totally."
"I don't mind."
"Oh, good. Then expect more. We've got a major battle coming up soon." That got a nod of understanding. He felt something move and looked behind him. "What the fuck?" His mother swatted him, making him duck and scowl at her. "Who're you? Not hitting!" He looked at his wings again, turning around trying to get a better view of them. "When did I get you? Are you why I had the headache?" Hades caught one and held it for him to get a look at the edge at least.
"Your powers were coming out, that's why you had the headache," Hera told him. "The wings mark your lineage."
"Huh? Big words bad."
"I'm the prince up here, you're my grandson," Ares told him dryly.
"Oh, okay. So why do I have wings if you don't?"
"My son does," he told him. "Cupid?" He showed up. "See, wings."
"Pretty wings. Mine are dingy and yours are much prettier."
Cupid smiled. "Thank you. Pops?"
"This is Xander, your nephew."
"Oh, wicked cool! We've been waiting nearly forever to get you back, dude." He gave him a hug. The wings twitched. "That itchy feeling means you need preened. C'mon, I'll show you while the adults talk things to death. Pops can find you at my place." That got a nod and Xander looked at Ares, who nodded for him to go. He followed Cupid out. "I can even teach you how to coast and fly too, Xander. It's pretty cool. Strife loves to go for flies."
"You mean they work?" If they worked then maybe that whole 'Gods' thing would be real too. Because only Gods had working wings that held up people, right?
Cupid flapped his and floated up a few feet. "Mine do," he said smugly. He landed. "We'll teach you how to use yours."
"Okay. It'll be a good thing I guess. I'm still confused."
"I know, dude. We'll get you some caffeine and it'll be better."
"I bounce," he warned.
"So does Strife. We can manage his, we can manage yours. Plus, hey, my son's probably flying around the house. I was trying to get him into a bath when Pops called." He walked him back to his temple, showing him around Mount Olympus. The boy knew their names from mythology but almost nothing else. It was a good place to start since some myths got things wrong. Some things they got *very* wrong.
Xander finally met his cousin, blinking at him since he was hanging upside down above his bed that night. "How do you do that?"
"I'm floating," Strife said smugly. "You'll learn."
"If you're sure." He sat up, staring at his upside down cousin. "So, are you going to teach me too and are you the reason why I nearly dated Ampata?"
"Nope and if Cupie said I was I'm gonna pluck me some feathers." He popped out and then onto the bed facing him, wearing pink and green plaid pajama pants and a tank top. "Better?"
"A bit. You were giving me a worse headache, kinda."
"I give many headaches. It's a calling," he said smugly.
"I bet. Will I have that sort of calling?"
"Nope." He got a smile for that. "You do it naturally." Xander laughed and nodded. "Good. Now, three things. You can't tell anyone. We pulled back so the mortals could move on."
"I got told that. Not even Giles? That way he knows where I can help Buffy?"
"What about Willow?"
"Hecate dealt with her memories. It's also how you're skippin' for a few days and she'll cover." That got a nod. "Because I can hear you thinking about it, you're safe at home now. Ares went ta do some anger management on 'em."
"Not very hard," Strife assured him. "Don't even try ta minimize it. It won't work, he'll get frustrated. He doesn't understand why people would protect those sort, even if they did try. I do it to my Ma and he doesn't get it either." Xander slumped but nodded. "The second thing? You can't show off to get broads."
"I'm not sure I like girls. Girls so far are evil. One tried to have me used as fertilizer and food. The other one nearly killed me and my friends."
"Not like we care, Xan. As long as it's not kids." Xander shuddered. "Or Hera's peacocks. She does get a bit pissed." Xander shuddered harder. "Good! Then it'll be fine. Third, we gotta find a way to get one of us nearer to you to work on your training without letting the mortals know."
"The obvious way would be using the suddenly missing 'rents." He considered it. "If they're still living, having them arrested for kidnaping me, if they did, or whatever, and having my so-called real parents there would help." He looked at him. "Who's my grandmother? I don't know much about mythology."
Strife smirked. "A muse. Pissed 'Pol off to no end that Unc took his funtime playmate."
"The muse 'a dance. Terpsichore. Ares decided it's make you better on your feet with a sword."
"Okay. Am I going to meet her too?"
"She'll pounce with cookies tomorrow. Her and your Ma both." He yawned and stretched out, making Xander lay down again. "There, better. Time for a nap."
"Um.... I'm not sure I'm ready for thoughts about guys or girls yet. I'm still confused about why girls want to kill me."
"They were both looking for power," Strife told him. "Relax, I don't molest anyone but Cupie in his sleep." That got a grin and Xander settled in to look at him. He snapped his fingers and Xander's breath was minitier fresh. "There, no more anchovies."
"Not an issue. I did the same thing ta Unc a few times." He gave him a hug. "Relax, Xander. It'll be okay. We'll get you used to us." That got a grin and a nod. "Then we'll work on your training so you don't trip no more." He kissed him on the forehead. "Sleep, cousin mine. I'll watch out for ya."
"Are we expecting another attack?"
"I always expect one and I can also make sure you don't get off and paint Olympus pretty colors while you sleep. Cupie did a few times before we figured out I wear those out since I'm over mischief." Xander beamed and hugged him again, settling in facing away from him to go back to sleep. Strife smiled at the young man's back. He was cute, but Cupid was cuter and would castrate him if he molested his cousin tonight. Maybe once he was more used to 'em he'd offer but not yet. He still had to get Cupid to straighten out his love life by placing some injunctions. He sent the thought Xander had to Ares so he could work on that. It was a workable plan and Sunnydale would get used to it. Besides, they could use it to keep some of the hell down. Literally.
Xander came back his first day. He was still ungainly but he had learned how to hide his wings and aura. Plus to hide his godliness from Willow if she called up his true aura to look at it. He was walked into school by one of his many cousins, this one an immortal. "Principal in?" Xander asked. "He's got paperwork for him."
"He's fuming by Chemistry, Xander. Are you going to hand in your doctor's excuse?"
The other man gave him a look, pulling out his Federal ID. "We had him." She went pale. "He's a kidnaping victim." He walked the boy out, letting him lead the way to Chemistry and the small siting area near there. "Principal Snyder?" he asked. The man spun and glared at him. He flashed his badge. "Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, NCIS."
"You're a Fed?" he sneered, glaring at Xander. "What did you do? I'll have the paperwork for your expulsion within minutes so we can all watch as they drag you out of here sobbing in misery for the future prison sex you'll be having."
"He was kidnaped," he said blandly. "It's my case because he's my cousin. We just found him and arrested his kidnapers." The principal gaped in horror. "The Harris' were the ones who took him from his natal family. They're on their way out because they don't think moving him so far into the school year will help him. Can we speak?"
"My office," he agreed coolly. "He knows the way." Xander nodded, leading him back there. He took a deep breath and called someone. "Harris showed back up," he said quietly as he stomped that way. "With a federal agent in tow. He was kidnaped?" He hung up and went into his office. "What's going on?"
"I'm here to return Xander, to make his absence excused, and to give you new contact information." He handed over a file. "For the school's records this is a minor amount of information you may need if something happens."
"When was he taken?"
"He was barely four months old," Tony told him. Xander looked at him. "You were."
"I thought Dad said I was closer to six months."
"I got told four. With the family, it's a matter of opinion sometimes. You know some of them are a bit odd."
"Well, yeah," he agreed. "Putting it mildly." He looked at the principal. "My real parents are going to show up in town and set up a house for at least the rest of this year. I may have other relatives who pop up to see me now and then but they all know not to bother me here. I know it'd annoy you."
"Not like it matters with your grades," he sneered.
"Really? And yet one of his many cousins teaches science and math in a very exclusive preparatory academy." The principal went pale. "They're trying to get him into there but it'll take the rest of the year."
"I still might need to be here," Xander said gently.
"They know." He grinned at him then at the odious little man. "So for now, I'm going to be with Xander today to make sure there's no repercussions. We spent the last few days with his parents and they should be settling in within a week. I know they've found a rental house. Of course I'm going to be one of the nosy relatives who pops around." This was really more of a 'bother him again and I'll make you suffer' talk done subtly but he knew the man understood very well. He could see it in his eyes. "Also, you should know that Xander's father is a very well known fencer in some circles. I'm sure he and Xander will be working out together. His father was wondering if that would qualify him to get out of gym?" Snyder shook his head. "I do know some do and some don't so he wanted to have that asked. Also he wanted to ask that you be a bit lenient with Xander. He's still getting over the psychological shock of finding out he's not a Harris by birth. There's going to be a lot of long talks with his family until he's comfortable with them. Many of us will be helping him with his schoolwork as well."
"It can only help since he's got a D average," Snyder said dryly. "I'll make sure the other teachers know what's been going on. You don't have to stay today."
"Yes I do. My boss said so. Only our director, the Secretary of the Navy, or the president countermand him." That got a gape. Tony shrugged casually and smirked. "I'm the senior agent on the top team in the country for major crimes involving Marine and Navy personnel, Principal. My lead agent is only overruled by the President, Secretary of the Navy, or our director. That and him being my cousin is why *I* was sent."
"That's fine. Don't interrupt the education going on."
"Not a problem." The bell rung. "I know we have to redo some paperwork. Can we do that while he skips home room?"
"You can." He went to get it, bringing it back. "There."
"Thank you. Have a better day."
"Whatever." He stomped off, going to terrorize others to make himself feel better.
Tony filled out the paperwork and smiled at Xander, winking a bit. "C'mon. We'll hit your locker."
"I hate school."
"Yay. You still have to do it. You know your grandfather would freak." He stood up, walking Xander out. "Here you go," he said with a charming smile for the secretary. Xander handed over the information file as well. "That too please. It's about the case against his parents."
"Oh, dear. What happened?"
"I was taken when I was a baby," Xander told her. "The Harris' aren't mine. It explains why I can't stand the smell of alcohol."
She smiled. "Then I hope you get along well with the others, Xander." He beamed and walked out with Tony, showing him where his locker was and how messy it was inside. She made a note for the home room teacher and sent it to her with her punishment student at the start of the next period. She went around to the other teachers too.
Xander walked Tony into the library at lunch. "I'm back!" he yelled.
"Xander, you are a bit too loud," Giles complained from the office, coming out. He blinked at Tony. "Officer."
"Special Agent," he corrected, shaking his hand. "DiNozzo, NCIS. Xander's my cousin. We found his kidnapers finally. His real parents are moving into town to be with him in a few days."
"Excuse me?" he asked, looking at Xander.
"The Harris' stole me when I was a baby."
"Oh, dear." He led them to the table and sat down, smiling when Willow squealed and rushed in to hug him. "Didn't see him earlier?"
"I'm just now getting here with Buffy, Giles. We had a late night." She smiled at Tony. "Thank you for bringing him back."
"Always happy to help. His real parents are going to be here very shortly."
"Wow." She smiled at Buffy. "Did I tell you Xander was stolen?"
"You babbled that at me last night," she admitted, waving at the other guy. "Staying long?"
"Today. I'll leave tonight." That got a smile and a nod. "I'm here to make sure Xander doesn't have a problem with any of the teachers or the local administration."
"So I take it you saw the troll?" Buffy asked dryly.
"First thing. He curdled breakfast." She snickered, punching him on the arm before hugging Xander. He looked at Giles. "Xander was four months old when he was stolen. We have no idea why they wanted him. There were easier ways to get what they wanted and they never told us who had him so we could negotiate with him." Giles looked confused.
"Tony's my cousin too, Giles. That's why they sent him with me."
"Oh, that's fine." He smiled at him. "So someone in his family will be here shortly?"
"Within a week we think. They're setting up a place to live and nurture him from long distance today."
"That's reasonable. I can certainly let him off some of his duties here to catch up with them."
Xander snorted. "My father's vowed to teach me fencing after I tripped over him the third time. He said it'll help with the growth spurts."
"As it did me," Giles admitted with a smile. "I look forward to meeting them, Xander. Now, shouldn't you be eating lunch?"
"I got him something out of the machine. Lunch looked like hamster food and pig slop," Tony told him.
"It usually does," Willow agreed grimly. "Snyder likes to make fun of us when we pass out from hunger."
"That man needs to go," Tony said dryly. "Well, it's something for your mother to work on, Xander. Beyond fussing over you and making you wear clothes that match." Xander stuck his tongue out at him. Tony smirked at him. "Keep it up. Grandfather told you what he'd do the next time you did that to him."
Xander shuddered. Ares had threatened to use an old rusty iron spike to pierce his tongue the last time he had done it and he had been getting ready to do it too. "Think Erin will come down?"
"I think he'll be down if he can," Tony offered. "I know his mother gets a rush being this close to the chaos." Their Aunt Discord's only American temple was in Hollywood with many prayers to keep the discord and mischief down. "We'll have to see who shows up now and then. They'll mostly all pop in and out on you."
"It'll be nice to have a supporting family." Strife had made sure he knew that he would have one now, and they were all nosy about things. A stunning brunette woman walked in wearing a leopard print wrap dress and low heels. "I know you're a relative but I don't know which one."
"I'm your Auntie Artie, Xander." She gave him a hug. "I was off on a hunt in India when you were found." She looked him over. "You do take after your grandfather instead of grandmother." She smiled. "Come, let's talk."
"It's the school day," Willow said, frowning at her. "He's got bad enough grades."
She snorted. "We'll help him with that, dear." She stared her down. Willow instinctively backed down. "Good girl. I'll have him back after next period. I've already cleared it with the principal or whoever that annoying penis zit in the office was." She pulled Xander up. "Come on, dear."
"Okay. Can we get me another soda?"
"Sure." She walked him out, letting him get one while they went outside to talk. She smiled. "You do know me?"
"Artemis?" he guessed. She smiled and nodded. "Are you over Buffy?" he asked quietly.
"No, she's under Athena," she said with a gentle smile. "You seem to be tainted to my area however." She ran a hand over his head. It'd look like smoothing down his hair to anyone watching. "Ah, a hyena. Very protective of her pack, Xander." He nodded, sipping his soda, walking her to a bench and sitting down with her. "Once you've finished your beginning training I'll teach you how to use a bow," she said gently. "Ares and Hades decided you'd be getting some weapons training and around here that's a practical one." He grinned and nodded. "Good boy." She smoothed over his hair again. "How has today went?"
"Most everyone's stared at Tony and he's talked up a few different careers when asked. They've been treating him like a show and tell." He took another drink. "Penis zit?"
"He is. Or perhaps the offput from a disease cursed by Aphrodite." Xander giggled at that, leaning on her shoulder. "Good boy." She punched him on the arm. "We'll have you as strong as your aunt in no time."
"I have an aunt?"
"She was the leader of my Amazons, Xander." He gave her a look. "It'll help you with Buffy."
"Chocolate and shoe shopping does that."
Artemis rolled her eyes. "I know she's not one of mine." He nodded. "Good. Now, do any of your classes impact my areas?"
"I'm in biology. We were doing fish last time I knew."
"That's more Poseidon. We'll figure out what else I can help you with since I'm about bored." She kissed him on the head. "Be a good nephew and try in class. Athena will appreciate it even if you don't understand. She's a bit fussy, just humor her, Xander. It'll make it easier."
"Good boy. You'll see me in a few weekends. Now, I was hunting down a rogue, diseased elephant before it gored another child. You be a good boy." She walked off and disappeared once she was out of sight.
Xander finished his soda on his way back to the library to pick up Tony for class. "Sorry, my Aunt Artie stopped in to tell me how to deal with another aunt." He grinned at the teacher. "This is Tony."
"I've heard many good things about you," she said, shaking his hand. "Xander, test?"
He groaned, taking it to try it. Not like he had been studying history.
Xander looked around his parents' new house, whistling at the spacious interior. It was much nicer than the outside. "Wow."
"Very," she said with a smug look. "Dad decided I needed spoiled." She walked him around to show him where everything is. "This is the sitting room. And this is the library and computer room. You can borrow mine."
"I suck at computer stuff."
"We'll teach you," she promised with a wink.
He looked at her. "What happens if I still suck?"
"Then we'll accept it." He nodded, liking that answer. "Even if you can't fence or fight with a sword, though you do need to learn since it's part of your future calling." He nodded, letting her walk him off. "Did you want to stay at that house or here, Xander?"
"I should probably stay here for appearance's sake."
"You should," she agreed happily. She led him to his room. "This is your room, Xander. All yours. You have your own bathroom and don't worry if you come in late from hunting. Someone's always up." He gave her a sheepish look. "I know you were sneaking in before. Hermes can teach you how to do that better." She winked and let him look in his closet. "Yes, I put in *real* clothes. Don't complain."
"I look like a dork in leather, Mom."
"So?" she snorted. "It's a family trait. Either that or you have to wear a kilt, like Cupid does." He shook his head quickly. "The girls might like it," she teased.
"Then the next one might kill me too," he said dryly, giving her a look. "Jeans?"
"You can bring yours and we'll show you how to integrate it so you don't look like a loud, patterned, walking advertisement for bad fashion. Before you ask, yes, Aphrodite did teach me how to dress."
"Does that mean you wear the barely there nighties all the time?"
"Dad threw a fit the first time I tried," she said, giggling a bit. "The look before he bellowed at her was really funny." She called up a portal to show him. He giggled at the look on Ares' face too. "She liked to do that to him."
"She tried to get me into lounging jammies. He was not amused."
"No, he probably wasn't. Go ahead and let your wings out in here, Xander." He took off his shirt and did that with a sigh of pleasure. "You don't have to hide them in here unless we have company." She kissed him on the cheek. "Hungry? I was making lunch." He followed her down to the kitchen and ignored the larger library full of books. He didn't like books that much. Giles made him work with books too. The research was the part of hunting he hated. She made him a big plate of pasta and vegetables, handing it over with some milk. He settled in at the table in there with her. "You'll have to eat ambrosia now and then too, Xander."
"I heard. It tastes nasty."
"It does," she agreed. "But we all have to choke it down."
"Can I mix it into stuff, like ice cream?"
"I do. Just don't let Zeus see you do it. He's a bit fussy about that." Xander snorted. "And other things," she agreed dryly. "Eat." He dug in and ate like he was starved. "What did you have for lunch at school?"
"Two granola bars and two sodas. Aunt Artemis showed up again too."
"Good! We were wondering where she was."
"Still hunting a diseased elephant who hurt a kid."
"Makes sense to me." She got up to get him seconds and more milk, then came back to her lunch. Someone pounded on the door so she called his shirt for him, handing it over before going to answer the door. "Yes?" she asked the woman standing there.
"I'm with the Department of Welfare, ma'am."
She let her inside. "Coming to make sure this house is better for Xander?"
"I am. The principal has reported he can't find you in any records search."
She smirked. "My husband's Greek. We've been over there for a while. We retreated back to the family's lands when we didn't have any luck finding our son for a few years."
"That's fine. Where might the boy be?"
"In the kitchen. Apparently the school's lunch was less than adequate."
"Not edible," Xander told her as the new person walked in. "Hi, Miss Gloria."
"Xander." She kissed him on the head. "It's already bigger."
"I've got my own suite with my own bathroom." He led her up to it, letting her see the room but closing the closet doors. She gave him a look. "My grandfather gave me a pair of leather pants."
She rolled her eyes. "Some grandparents do spoil." She looked at him. "Do you want to stay here?"
"I think I'd like to try," he admitted.
"That's fine then, Xander. I'll make notes in your new file. Your parents' file was closed out and their fate put into it." He nodded. "Good boy." She patted him on the cheek. "How's school?"
"It'd be better if Snyder wasn't in charge. He's been trying to use this to intimidate me. I almost lost my temper the last time," he admitted honestly, staring at her. "He nearly got hurt for it." Strife had made sure his temper hadn't come out to make him a very painful lesson in why you left him alone when he was in a bad mood.
"I'll have a talk with the school board about him," she promised. "Now, anything else?" He shook his head. "Do you want me to talk to your mother about your medical card? You're still entitled to it for another few months probably. We'd have to investigate their funds."
"They've got money and one of my uncles is a doctor."
"Good." She gave him another hug. "I'll put in that you're happy staying here with them. You come to me if you need help adjusting, all right? We've got a good few counselors who work with the kids we've adopted out." He nodded at that. "Good boy." She left, smiling at the mother on the way out. "Xander is on a medical card and may still be eligible until the paperwork's completely done."
"We have an uncle who's a doctor and he's already seen him," she promised gently. That earned a smile. "Thank you but we won't need more help from the state. We're more than able to help him with whatever he needs."
"Good. Let me know if there's any problems. As I told him we do have a few counselors who work with newly adopted children and it could be the same sort of issues."
"I'll remember that. Thank you." She shook her hand and watched her go. Another woman met her outside on the sidewalk and said something, getting a smile from the new woman. She came up. "Yes?"
"I'm Buffy's mother Joyce. I wanted to meet you and make sure you were going to be better to Xander than his last ones."
She beamed. "Excellent. Xander, Joyce is here?" He came jogging down the stairs. "Don't run, dear, you'll trip again." He quit running and came to hug Joyce. "Join us in the kitchen? He was nibbling."
"Of course." She walked the boy that way, smiling at him. "Are you going to stay here or at the old house? I know the landlord was posting something to the door earlier." Someone else slammed the front door. Joyce looked. "Your father?"
Xander looked. "Cousin Erin. What's on the old house's door?"
"An eviction order. You have thirty days to move stuff. We'll help." He gave him a hug. "Ignore the putz," he reminded him. "He'll get his when he's eaten some year."
"I hope so but whatever nibbles on him will have indigestion."
"They'll deserve it," he said dryly. He got his own lunch, sitting down in a sprawl to look at Joyce. "Yes, I'm beautiful."
She quit staring. "I saw a painting with you, Lord Strife." He blinked at her. She uncovered a mark on her arm, showing she was the daughter of Valhalla. "Freya sent me. I'm an unpowered daughter of Valhalla."
"You are?" Xander asked. She nodded. "Wow. Then how do you explain Buffy?"
"Her father's daughter," she said dryly. She swatted him. "Behave."
"I try." He went back to his eating. "Did you know before this?"
"No, dear. You were well hidden. We heard and felt the announcement and when you were uncovered. We all knew that Ares was looking for you and whoever had you was going to die."
"It was a few cult-sized Godlings," Strife told her. He looked at her. "You do good work looking over our boy."
She smiled. "Someone had to feed him. Not like his parents cooked."
"Good point." He nibbled and looked at his niece. "It's all right. She's a good one. She watched out for him even before she knew."
"Good. I like that. I've seen Buffy."
Joyce smiled. "I did try very hard."
"You did good most of the time," she promised. Joyce smiled at that. "I'll come to you if I have problems with him or the group."
"Take Buffy shopping, she'll adore you and worship at your feet," Xander said dryly. Joyce swatted him gently. "She will. She was unsubtly hinting that my mother was going to burn my clothes."
"Unc give you the leather yet?" Strife teased.
"I still look like a dork in leather," Xander said grimly. "Jeans; nice, comfy, loose jeans."
"We'll see, dear. You are going to have a fantastic body when you're finished growing," his mother pointed out. "We'll want to highlight it to the best possibility."
He gave her an odd look. "Then I'll draw more girls who want to kill me."
"Not if I get to them first," she assured him with a small smile.
Both men shuddered at that. Joyce smiled. "I've gotten Buffy to keep girls from him too after the last one tried to kill him. She thought they were adorable together."
"Does Buffy know yo know about her?" Xander asked.
"No, I'm waiting until she admits it to me. She really is going to have to own up to the sneaking out she's been doing soon."
"I know. I also know that you brought her back to life, Xander." She kissed him on the head. "Thank you for protecting my baby." She smoothed down his hair. "Get a trim, dear." She stood up. "I'll let you guys catch up." She left, going home much happier now. She and her daughter needed to have a talk anyway. She had woken her up sneaking in. Her daughter needed to quit wearing heels to fight in. They were loud when she climbed up the outside of the house and probably impractical in a fight situation.
Xander took off his shirt and let out his wings again. "Wow. It's gotta be the hellmouth."
"Probably," Strife agreed. His niece nodded, eating another bite. "Get it out," he said fondly, smirking at her.
"I'm just happy I've got backup if you guys aren't here. Has Hecate looked at her witch? She's got some extra energy she's been hoarding for some reason."
"She doesn't know how to ground herself," Strife told her.
"Charming. Okay." She dug in again. "Eat, Xander. We'll go move the other house's things later tonight." He nodded, digging back in, getting up to have thirds. "We'll have dinner afterwards."
"Sure. There's not that much stuff."
She snorted and shook her head. "We'll figure that out too." He nodded, finishing up his lunch. "Where is my errant husband?"
"DC with Tony over something Ares noticed," Strife told him. "Discord too. She's not a happy Mother by any means." He got up and walked out with Xander, watching as his wings automatically hid when he put back on his shirt. "Good idea. What if it rips?"
"It'll be a hallucination. Like the PCP that runs around here apparently," he finished sarcastically.
"Someone makes up some very stupid excuses," his mother sighed, shaking her head. They drove back to the old house, heading inside with Xander's keys so they could pack things and arrange to have them moved. Though Xander did make them leave the furniture there. It was only fit to be burned. A few things had bugs. Strife killed all the bugs in the boxes before anything could spread further. He was even nice enough to give her the cleaning supplies, letting her go do what fussy things she did. Her son gave her an odd look. "Someone has to clean it. Might as well be me."
Xander backed away slowly. "If you say so. Come on, Cousin. We'll move my crap back to my room." Strife snapped his fingers and everything but the furniture and washer and dryer from the basement left. "Wow. What about the furniture we're taking? The coffee table is ancient according to my ...what do I call her?"
"Stepmother," he advised, looking at it. "Only fifty years old. Could be worth something." He moved everything but the living room furniture and the beds there. "There. Needed the bedframe?"
"Good." He let the boy look around and grab the mail for the day. "We'll do the change of address thingies." He looked at his niece. "Be back in a few."
"Go for it."
They walked out together, heading to the post office to do that. The teller at the window gave Xander an odd look. "Go ahead."
"Where are they?"
"Send it to Tony, he'll pass it on." He smirked at her. "I'm his cousin Erin."
"We heard what happened. We don't have anything for you today, Xander."
"Change of address?"
"Oh, that." She pulled out two of the forms so he could change his and his parents addresses both. She filed them where they needed to go and gave him a piece of peppermint candy. "I'll make sure Bob and Earl both know tomorrow. She rented the Jenkins house?" He nodded. "I guess it'd be big enough."
"It's got plenty of room and I've got my own bedroom," he assured her, getting a smile. "Nothing for us? I thought she ordered something again. He was complaining about Fingerhut."
She went to look, coming out with a box. "HMC. Jewelry."
"Charming." He looked at it then at her. "Can you forward that on?" She nodded, marking out the address and changing it over for him. "Thanks. Have a better day." He left, heading back to the old place, finding the landlord in there. "We're working on it."
"I know you are. Who's she?"
"That's my biological mother," he said dryly. "Mom, you okay?"
"I'm fine, dear. Did you get the post office fixed?" He nodded. "Good." She smiled at him. "I've got oven cleaner in here. We'll let it soak for a few hours and I'll finish cleaning it tomorrow."
"That's fine. Which prison are they in?"
Erin frowned. "You know, I don't know where Tony put 'em. He's a Fed." The landlord shuddered. In truth, the parents were both gone. Long gone. Hades hadn't even seen their souls they were so gone. Ares had been a tiny bit pissed about all this. "You can send anything to Xander. Not like they'll have a use for the security deposit or anything."
"Good point. If they get it back. This place has roaches."
"We fumed it last night," Xander told him. "They're mostly gone now. We can do it again tomorrow night."
"That'll work. Thanks, Xander. You always were the sensible one in this family. We should've realized you weren't a Harris since you're good for more than sucking up liquor."
"Welcome." He waited until he was gone then closed the door, looking at Strife. "Teach me how to do that?"
Strife pulled him away from the door and got to work on that application of his powers. Xander concentrated, knowing what he wanted, he pictured it in his mind. And the house was suddenly clean, painted, the few holes fixed, the carpet unstained, and there were still roaches. "Even Hephie has problems getting rid of them."
She looked up and shook her head, making sure everything was totally clean. They left and Strife snapped his fingers to kill off the rest of the roaches. She bopped him on the arm. "Behave."
"I try so hard," he teased with a wicked smirk.
Xander looked at him. "As long as you don't make someone yell at me tonight. I've got another of those headaches."
Strife laid a hand on his head. "Growing pains of our kind." He walked him back to the house, enjoying the fresh air. It was nice here if it wasn't for the portal to hell. She went to do some mild grocery shopping while Xander picked up some chocolate. Strife snickered at that and paid for it since he had the money in the family today. By the time they got home it was nearly dark. He walked them inside, closing the gate behind them. Xander picked up the welcome mat off the front steps and carried it inside too. "Hestia will be pissed."
"I'd rather not wake up and find a vampire in my room," Xander said in a sing-song manner. "No overt welcome or invitation signs." He found Hestia in the kitchen, giving her a hug. "No welcome signs."
"I forgot, dear." She got the other one and pulled it inside. "There. That's safer." She gave him another hug. "You've grown."
"I've got the headache to prove it," he joked.
She concentrated. "Gaia?" She came up in the backyard and came inside, giving the boy a hug as well. "He's still having power flux headaches."
She checked him over, removing something from his wings. Then she nodded and created something, putting it around his throat. "That's the hellmouth's energy fighting against his," she told her. "The choker blocks that." She kissed him on the cheek. "Now, what are we making?" She created more vegetables and Hestia added a garden, making Strife beam since one bush was a chocolate bean bush. "I'm sure you'll get good use out of that," she said with a wink. Xander beamed at her and gave her another hug. "That's my boy." They got to work on dinner, serving a good, wholesome, large meal because Xander was still a growing boy. Around dessert someone knocked on the door. Gaia went to answer it, smiling at the young woman on the other side. "Buffy, do come in." She led her back to the kitchen. "Xander, it's your friend."
"Hey, Buff. Saw your mom earlier."
"She's getting freaky today. She yelled at me for wearing heels."
"She said your heels woke her up the last time you snuck in, dear," Xander's mother told her.
Buffy looked at her. "You must be his mother."
"I am." She shook her hand. "And this is my great-aunt Hes and her mother Gaia."
"Hi." She waved a hand. "I'm Buffy." She looked at Xander, ignoring the chocolate cake he was eating. Strife got her a plate and a chair, making her sit down. "Since you offered," she said with a smile. "Are we going out tonight?"
"Um....." he said, looking at his mother, who shook her head. "No?"
"No, because we didn't find a single pair of underwear without a hole in them, Xander. We are going to the mall. Then you can have an ice cream cone." Xander sighed but nodded. "Eat, Buffy. Every girl needs chocolate."
"You are so much cooler than my mother," she offered with a beaming smile. She dug in, looking at the only other male. "Which one are you?"
"I'm his Cousin Erin. He and I are already trouble buddies."
Hestia coughed into her napkin to hide her laugh. "I'd say."
Gaia smiled at the young slayer. "Maybe you should go with them, dear. You could use a shirt that actually covered things." Buffy blushed and dug into her cake. "Aren't you a bit chilly?"
"No, not really. It's very warm outside tonight."
Erin looked at her. "Her word is law in the family, Buffy. Even the Gods don't get past Grandma Gaia. Just do as you're told and nod." She nodded at that. "And call your mother to get permission. She seemed like the sort to swat."
"You have no idea," she told him. "When she used to spank I didn't sit down for days." She finished her cake, helping Xander clear the table since she had eaten something. Then Xander went to change clothes and handed her a t-shirt. "You have plain t-shirts?"
"Mom," he told her.
"Oh! So, we'll see you in *good* clothes? Clothes that even Cordy can't snark at?" He pulled out the pair of leather pants and she blinked. "Never mind. She'll still snark." She looked at his throat. "What's that?"
"It matches the anklet Grandfather gave me when I was born. It's just as sealed on too," he said, making it up off the top of his head. "It's a family thing. Probably has GPS or something in it. Grandfather's big in military stuff."
"Wow." She went into his bathroom to change shirts, coming out looking impressed. "Your mother has great taste in bathrooms." She took his arm, walking out with him. "Okay, I've changed as ordered. Let me call my mother." She did that. "Mom, me. Can I go with Xander so he gets something Cordy won't snark at? Well, his Great-Aunt Hes and his great-grandmother Gaia are going with him and his mom and his Cousin Erin. Please? I promise I won't get anything trashy this time. Mom, they made me change my shirt. They won't let me get anything too naughty. Thanks, Mom. I have it." She hung up before her mother could complain about her credit card being in her daughter's possession. "Okay, I can go."
"Call Giles," Erin reminded her. She blushed and did that. "That way he can tell the others," he said at Xander's look. "You said he keeps track of them."
"Giles, it's Buffy. I'm going with Xander and his family to do some shopping stuff so he has stuff that Cordy won't snark at. Yup, I'll do that afterward. Laters." She hung up and bounced out to the car, settling in next to Erin. "So, what do you do?"
"Get into trouble." He grinned. "I help designers who do pranks and stuff."
"Wow. Can you get a degree in that and would my mother be proud?"
"Probably not," he admitted.
"Never mind." She grinned at him. "So, you guys have been looking for Xander all this time?" He nodded. "Why was he taken?"
"They wanted influence over Grandfather but they never told him they had me," Xander said. "It was probably wiser. I think Grandfather nearly destroyed the others who helped them." Strife nodded at that. "Buffy, do you think the collar's really odd?"
"Kinda not the usual male statement, Xander, but we'll see." She kissed him on the cheek. "We'll explain it to her and she won't snark. Much."
"It's Cordelia. She'll do some," he agreed dryly. That got a nod from Erin. "You, no getting her in trouble."
"I'm not." Yet. Unless she hurt Xander again. Then, well.... He'd have fun. Xander gave him a look and he gave him his most innocent, sweet smile. The one that worked on juries. "What?" he asked quietly.
"Don't even think about it. Your mother would be highly upset since she's a lot like her."
"Shoot." Cordelia as his mother's priestess was an apt description. He'd check with Discord first, just in case she didn't want her.
"They say that you marry people like your mother if you're a guy," Buffy said.
"That's why I'm gay," Strife assured her.
She gaped. "You are? I think you're the only gay person in Sunnydale."
"Not hardly," Xander said dryly. "There's three or four on the south side of town. Two couples but I think one of the husbands disappeared."
"Wow. I didn't know we had gay folks here. I though the idiots who mass and pout would've driven them off. They seem to have driven off everyone who wasn't white."
"Someone's got to control the stupid white boys who do things," Strife quipped.
"At my last school there were black kids and Asian kids and all sorts of others."
"Any green ones?" Strife asked.
"No." He smirked. "Not unless you count the hippies who kept talking about going green on this or that issue. I guess going too much green would make them green. After all, you are what you eat and all they ate was salads."
He cackled, giving her a hug. "I like you."
"Thank you." She beamed. "I think you're pretty neat too. Can you maybe talk up the gay lifestyle to Xander so he quits dating things that want to kill him?"
"I've tired. My boy's tried. We'll see how it goes."
"Good! Xander could do very well as the poster child for gay boys. Especially with the leather pants. Though I don't think I want to have that mental image of him in a leather bar. Eww. Sorry. Squicked myself." Xander popped her on the head like Tony had shown him. "Ow."
"Tony's boss does that and Tony showed me," he said proudly. "It's how his boss stops him from having bad thoughts."
"I can see why. You messed up my hair." She straightened it out. "Go left. The better parking lot is back there." Xander's mother nodded and did that. They got out and headed inside to go do some shopping for their boy, letting Buffy advise them.
Cordelia Chase looked at Xander the next morning. He was wearing an opened collared shirt and pants. He matched. It was a miracle. "What happened to you?" she snorted.
"My mother and Buffy." He smirked back. "Anything else? Get it out now. Not in the mood to be here today."
She sneered. "Really?"
"Really. Anything else?"
"Yes. Are you a slave?"
"It's from my grandfather. It's a family thing. It matches the ankle cuff he got me when I was born." She gaped. He moved closer. "See, this piece of marble is from Greece. It's from the Temple of Ares. The onyx and obsidian stones are all set so they can't be caught on my shirts. The silver's done by a master silversmith and the runes lead back to the Greek Pantheon. My great-great-grandmother Gaia gave it to me."
She blinked. "She's still alive?"
"Oh, yeah, went to the mall last night with Buffy and me."
She shook her head. "It's still dorky looking. Can't you take it off?"
"There's no clasp. He's got GPS or something in it."
"Probably better with the way you got stolen. I never noticed an ankle cuff." He moved his pants to show her. "Tattoos too?" she demanded.
He smirked. "When they found me they found the Harris' had dyed some areas to cover up the tattoos they had put on me when I was stolen. I've got a few pretty ones on my chest and back too." Cordelia gave him an odd look. "I do. Not like I had them done."
She walked off shaking her head. "Go away, Xander."
"Tell that to the principal," he called after her. He headed inside, going to see Giles. Giles stared at his neck. "What?"
He lifted an edge of it, then sighed. "Buffy told me about your great-grandmother Gaia." He looked at him. "Your natal family are priests of the Gods?"
"Have been now and then," he admitted. That was a good cover, he should have thought of that. "My grandfather serves Ares."
"I can tell." He shook his head. "Is your father in yet? I was going to test you with a fencing foil."
"Not yet. He's still in DC helping Cousin Tony with something Grandfather found."
"Good." He smiled. "Go to class, Xander."
"Because you must even if you don't want to. I'm sure your mother would be most upset if you skipped today."
"Not really." He walked out, going to home room, running into the principal in the halls. "Morning."
"What is that?"
"Family heirloom. Before you ask, it's sealed shut, there is no clasp, and my grandfather gave it to me to match the anklet. It probably has GPS in it."
He looked at it, running a finger over the only seam he found. "Huh. Still ugly." He glared at him. "You can't wear that here."
"As you can see, I can't take it off." He walked off, looking down at his ankle. He could see the cuff hanging open. When he sat down he reached down to touch it but it still felt sealed. That's when he noticed that it was but he could still see another one that was open. The teacher gave him an odd look. "The cuff was made for me when I was born." The teacher smiled and handed him a note. He looked at it and groaned. "Why did I get detention? I've actually been good for days."
"Not a clue. Take it up with the man."
"I already ran into him once today." He put it inside his bookbag and waited, thinking pretty hard. //Grandfather?// he called mentally. //Why can I see a cuff that's open and one that's not?//
//What?// Ares sent back telepathically. Xander looked down and sent that to him. //Not a clue. Can you remove it?//
//No, it's stuck on something. It's feeling odd too. I can feel it flap. I don't want to reseal it because touching it hurt.//
//Give me twenty.// His voice left his head.
Xander blinked and got up when he noticed everyone else was, heading off to his first class of the day. The home room teacher gave him an odd look. "Long night. My mother took Buffy shopping." She shuddered. He nodded. "I'd rather be back in bed." He walked into his first period class and sat down, getting comfortable for now.
Ares appeared in the school, changing himself to look more like a grandfather should. Fake glasses, hair pulled back and longer, tied off in a low ponytail. Jeans and a good shirt, still in black. Boots. He found someone staring. "What?" She passed out. He smirked. "I still have it." He turned and found the principal there, staring in horror. "Yes?" He looked him over. "You must be the principal. Xander described you well. You do look like the troll from the fairytale." The man went purple. "No, they're usually greener." The man passed out. He shrugged and went to find his boy. He leaned into Xander's classroom, motioning him. "Grandson."
"Be back," he told the teacher, grabbing his things and heading out with him. He saw the two passed out people. "Huh." He nudged one with a foot. "Are you comfy? Really, really comfy?" Cordelia moaned and sat up, holding her head. "If not, I'd suggest napping on a softer spot than the hallway. Or hey, nurse's office." He pulled her up, handing her her books and turned her that way, giving her a nudge. "Go to the nurse, Cordy." She stumbled that way. He looked at the principal and shrugged. He wasn't going to touch him. "His attitude might be contagious if I woke him up." He sat across from Ares in the sitting area, letting him block off everything while Xander got the cameras. "All I know is that the troll out there touched my collar and then that one popped open."
Ares looked at the collar. "He spread something on it. It probably weakened the other bond." He pulled his foot up to look at the spare anklet, finding it attached to other things. "How did we miss more armor?"
"Because it's hidden?"
"Probably," he agreed dryly, giving him a look. "I get enough smartass from Strife."
"Sorry, Grandfather. Can we take it off me? I don't want more hidden things on me. Hidden things have got to be bad."
"They probably are," he agreed. He found another buckle and undid it. His powers had to get the others off since they went up the boy's pants leg. A full leg greave was pulled off and tossed aside. He saw the marking and groaned. "It is theirs." He saw the other one come out. Tracing it caught a duplicate set of materials to the ones they had already removed. "All right, we're going to do something fun." He stared at the boy. "I want you to go incorporeal, Xander. Just you and only you. Not your clothes, not the anklet or the collar, nothing but you and your essence."
"I don't know how to do that."
"I'm going to show you." He put his hands on his head, showing him how it was done. Xander nodded slowly and tried it. His clothes, collar, anklet, and a few other things fell into a heap in the chair underneath the glowing blue orb he became. "Now, come back. You can be naked. It would be better if you were." Xander reappeared in a flash of blue light, trying to cover himself. "You've still got the net."
"That was the last thing Willow removed too."
"This isn't the same thing but it was done by the same people to try to protect you. They apparently knew where you were going." He looked at him. "The one around your waist is still here too." He found the clasp and the boy shimmied out of it. This one was tighter to his body. He blushed when it uncovered him and something pulled out of his body. "Figures." Hera appeared looking very confused. "I found another set."
She looked then groaned and gave Xander a mental image. He concentrated on it and became a different sort of glowing orb. This one was smaller, darker, had lightening shooting through it. It floated off to the side and reformed into the boy, who was now wearing.... "Leather does run in the family I see," she said dryly.
"Of course it does," Ares said happily.
Xander looked down at himself then at them. "I know it's comfy and all but leather can't be this stretchy."
"That's something we all discover, grandson." Ares looked him over. "The net's still there, Mother."
She got it undone and found where it was anchored, removing the last thing from him. He moaned as his wings were freed too. There had been a band around the joint between his back and them. She dropped it onto the ground, wiping her fingers off. "At least they tried to protect you for us." She looked at him. "Why did Gaia put a collar on you?"
"The headaches came back. She said it was the local energy trying to taint mine again."
She nodded, digging them out. "Here." They flashed and returned to his neck and ankle. He sighed in pleasure. That felt better. "Now get redressed." He groaned and made the leather shirt disappear, grabbing his to put on. He turned around before making the pants go and putting on his underwear and pants, then his sneakers. He turned back around to find her gone and Ares looking at the pile of stuff they had taken off him.
"Hephie is going to be pissed. Someone remade some of his stuff," Ares told him.
Xander flopped back down. "Are we sure there's not a third set? I know that magic things run in threes, sevens, elevens, and thirteens."
Ares looked at him. "I'd hope not. Can you feel any?"
"I couldn't feel any of it so far until that cuff this morning."
"Good point." He ran a glowing hand over him, shaking his head. "Not that I can tell. Then again, the chestplate and the wing binder have brain matter on them. I'm guessing someone died to put that first set on you." He made it go away, looking at him. "Good idea to call."
"I knew I should." He gave him a hug. "I should get back to class." He checked his wings, they were hidden. He could still feel them. So he concentrated and they were hidden better. "There." Ares smirked. "I don't want someone to run into them. They might break and I have PE later."
"Fine. We'll work on teaching you how to use them later on this weekend."
"I've got patrol this weekend. We're coming up on a major bad thing."
"Of course you are. Which is why we'll work on teaching you how to fly this weekend and then work on your fighting skills. Anything else I should know?"
"Giles guessed that my family are priests of the Gods when he saw the collar."
Ares nodded. "That'll work." He stood up, pulling him up, looking at his ear. "You took it out?"
"Around here, that's clear sign of being gay. Buffy's already begging and I don't need the stress right now."
"Good point. We'll see you this weekend. Try to stay out of trouble." He disappeared and the shields fell. Xander removed the ones from the cameras while he grabbed his bookbag and headed off to third period since that's what his watch said it was. The principal was still on the floor. He was snoring though so he guessed he was fine.
Xander walked into the library later that night. "Sorry, detention for some reason," he said dryly.
Giles smirked at him. "Probably for mouthing off yesterday."
"I did not." He put down his bag. "What's on for tonight? And when do I have patrol this weekend? More family's going to pop around."
"I saw the hotty who came to grab you for a few minutes," Buffy told him.
"Hotty?" he said, looking confused.
"Black jeans, hair. Beard. Him?"
"Grandfather." She gaped. He smirked. "We stay young and pretty for a long time, Buffy." He looked at Giles again. "So, when am I on this weekend?"
"We could use you on Saturday night if you won't be busy," Giles offered.
"I can be not busy for patrol. Mom knows."
"Good." He patted him on the back, then frowned and did it again. "What is that?"
Xander shrugged, lifting his shirt. "What is it?" He knew it wasn't his wings.
"It's... The tattoo is textured?"
"It is?" He went to look in the nearest mirror, frowning a bit. "Huh." He put down his shirt. "Whatever."
"Was that a tattoo on your front?" Buffy demanded.
"Yeah, we found out the Harris' had it done and dyed it later on," he told her. He looked around then took off his shirt to show her, making her gape. He showed her his back too. "See? Pretty." He put back on his shirt before Willow could come in. "There's some around my ankle cuff too." He let her see before sitting down. "What's up for today, G- man?"
"Don't call me that and we're waiting on Willow."
"She was having one of her confused yet cranky days," Buffy told him. He blushed at that and went to get something. She looked at Xander. "Do you think something attacked the principal?"
"No, I think he passed out when he saw my grandfather. He was drooling and had nasty dreams on the floor. I should complain to the school board about him."
"I doubt that's why he was grunting," Giles called.
"Bet me," he called back. "He was drooling too and it was kind obvious with the stains, Giles." He looked at her again, watching her shudder. "Exactly and that's a bad thing to do in front of students. If enough of us complain, we can get rid of him."
"Yeah but then who would we have?"
"The English teacher?"
She considered it then went to call her mother. "Mom, the principal took a nap in the break area's floor and had dirty, nasty dreams that created spots on his clothes."
"Don't forget the drool," Xander reminded her.
"And Xander saw him drooling and grunting too, Mom. Yes, eww. Very eww. Thanks, Mom. Tell them you want him removed for having dirty, nasty, shudder inducing dreams? Thank you. English teacher?" she suggested hopefully. "Thank you." She hung up and called someone else. "Did you know that your daughter's principal fell asleep in the middle of our indoor break area and had dirty, nasty dreams that made him create stains on his clothes and drool? Yes, seriously! Earlier today. For four hours! No, we thought you should know. Willow was horrified when she saw it. Thanks, Mrs. Rosenburg." She hung up and went back to the table. "Willow's mother complains worse than anyone else."
"True," Xander agreed happily, putting his feet up. Buffy looked at the ankle cuff then at him. "I got it when I was a baby."
"Aww." She looked at it. "No precious stones but it's pretty." Willow came in. "I told your mother that the principal had dirty thoughts near you."
"It was freaky how he napped that way. But hey, maybe they'll remove him." She sat down. "Sorry I'm late. I was staring at the candy machine."
Xander patted her on the arm. "We told Giles you were having a confused and cranky day."
She smirked at him. "I can still hit you."
He looked at her. "I'll sic my Cousin Erin on you again." She shuddered and settled down, slumping down even. "Giles, she's here."
He came out shaking his head. "Are we done ratting out the principal?"
"Yup," Buffy said happily. "Willow's mom can complain for the rest of us."
"She has in the past," Willow agreed. "I wonder if any of the cameras caught him."
"The one in the west hall might have," Xander said. "Though there are the button cameras he had installed for blackmail potential." She smiled and went to lurk until the principal was gone and then she could scan the tape. "Now what? Any information on this new attack thing?"
"I'm still looking."
"Giles, did you know Xander had tattoos?"
"I did see the one on his back, yes." He looked at her. "With what his grandfather does I'm not surprised one was given to him. In some sects it's not that unusual to mark special babies upon birth."
"His cousin is in pranks too."
"I'm sure he is," Giles agreed dryly. "He seemed like a nice enough chap." He got back to his reading. "I do have a date for it, Buffy. It's the night of the dance."
"Yay me," she said flatly. "Why can't I have a normal dating life?"
"Special girls get special dates," Xander teased.
"When are you going to go gay so we don't have to worry about you dating?" she taunted back.
"Not this week. I'm still finding breasts fascinating." He nodded at her top, where a few extra buttons had come undone. She squeaked and did them back up while he looked at Giles, who glared at him. "What? Not like I could make buttons come open." He didn't have that much finesse yet. Big things maybe, little things nope. When he did, he was still a teenage boy. He heard Strife cackling in his head. He pointed out he was still a teenage boy. Even if Buffy did want to make him go gay.
Xander looked up from his cartoons Saturday morning to find his cousin and his father conspiring. "I still have patrol tonight," he reminded them before going back to his cartoon watching.
"What are you doing?" his father asked.
"Watching cartoons. I do it every Saturday and the mornings when I can't get up in time for school." He grinned at him. "By the way, I'm still flunking biology. The last test did not go well." He went back to watching.
"Shouldn't we punish you for that?"
"You helped me study," Xander reminded him.
His father sighed and walked off shaking his head. "When will those be done?"
"I'll have a half hour break for breakfast in two more shows, then another hour, and then I'm done."
Strife watched the cartoon and slid over the back of the couch to lean against him and watch with him. Might as well. "How long have you been up?"
"Two hours," he said grimly.
"You haven't eaten yet?" Strife asked. Xander pointed at the cereal bowl in front of them. He looked, then at his cousin. "Tried to create it?"
"Yup. Tastes like tasteless oatmeal."
"We'll work on that tonight," Strife promised. Xander grinned at that. "Can you manifest other things?" he asked patiently. Xander created a stake and handed it over. "That'll work."
"It usually does," he agreed happily.
His mother came out and reached for the remote but Xander snatched it. "Xander."
She glared. "Breakfast. Now! You have things to do today."
Xander looked at her. "Not like I'm not going to do them all afternoon, then shower, eat dinner, go on patrol, then come home and sleep like the dead."
She gaped. "You're not going on patrol tonight."
He nodded. "Yes I am." He looked at Strife. "Is there a family thing? I thought that was next weekend."
Strife considered it. "'Dite's got an orgy going tomorrow night but nah, that's the only thing I've heard." They both shrugged at his mother. "He can eat out here. It's a comfort thing. Taking joy in the innocent things." She huffed off. He smirked at his cousin, who hugged him. "What was that for?"
"For understanding." He leaned against him while they watched the cartoons. His father brought him a bowl and he grunted, eating absently while he watched. When a show came on that he didn't like he went to make some toast, finding a plate waiting on him. He brought it back to the couch and shared with Strife, who was happier. They nibbled their way through the rest of the cartoons and then Xander went to the practice area to learn how to use his new powers and body. Strife used his father to teach him the basic sword moves, watching as they practiced slowly. Xander was clearly getting it, even though he still tripped over his feet. It was why Strife also taught him how to relocate suddenly - the last time he had nearly fallen onto his father's sword at a very bad angle. His mother would have screamed if he had been stabbed in the stomach. By the time dinner came Xander was getting very good at blocking shots. Strife stepped in to move with him, showing him where he was going next. It was kinda cute. He clearly wasn't trying that hard but for a first day it was great progress. They came out for dinner and found Ares waiting on them, lounging in a chair. "Hi, Grandpa." He gave him a hug around the throat. "Let me clean up."
"I left you another pair of leather pants on your bed," Ares told him.
"I can't wear leather on patrol."
"Why not?" his mother asked.
"Because I can't run, pounce, or play in them. They chafe."
"Try them," Ares ordered. "These aren't that stiff, they should work all right." The boy nodded, going up to shower and change into them. He came down in them and a long t- shirt. "That covers up the best features of the leather pants."
"Um, yeah, which keeps the vampires from trying to nibble that best feature or thinking I'm one of them," he pointed out patiently. "They already like to try to nibble me or keep me, why tempt them more?"
Ares snapped his fingers and his t-shirt was tucked in. "Try it, let's see if it works," he ordered. Xander slumped but nodded. "Thank you." He looked at him. "You didn't look bad today. Tomorrow we'll go longer." Xander nodded. "How late do you think you'll be tonight?"
"Depends on them. Also depends on if we take a dance break in the center to hunt in there or not." That got another nod. "There's been some nights it's been midnight; there's also been some nights I've seen sunup from my usual booth in Denny's." He dug into the food that showed up, watching his mother when she gave him an odd look. "What? Breakfast was a while ago." She sighed and handed him extra, earning a smile. "Thanks, Mom." He dug in faster, moaning a bit because the food was good. When he was done he checked the time, kissed her on the cheek, punched his grandfather on the arm. "I won't get eaten tonight."
"Leather is stiffer than jeans. It should help you stay uncut too," he offered. Xander smirked and left. "Strife." He nodded, finishing his dinner and heading out to invisibly follow the boy. He leaned back, eating his dinner at a slower pace. "You could always work on the girls' training," he offered.
"He thinks of me like a babysitter," she complained.
"He's how old?" Ares pointed out dryly.
She slumped and nodded. "I know. He's not the cuddly, cooing thing I remember. He doesn't share things with me."
"For him this is still very odd and sometimes probably seems like a dream," Ares offered. "He also doesn't trust very easily. He probably never will. Right now he's cautiously moving closer. If you didn't have some connection he'd be very careful what he ate, he'd lock his room door, you'd probably never see him. Like the last ones did."
She nodded, digging in again, looking at her husband. He took her hand to hold. "I have patience and he'll be calling me Mommy and mean it someday soon," she said.
He nodded at that. "If that's what he wants." She grimaced. "He's a bit old for 'mommy' but he does call you Mom."
She nodded. "He does. Strife got called Mommy the other day."
"I've had Strife breaking him in gently," Ares reminded them. "Strife was fussing over his diet of ho-hos."
"Then he probably deserved it," she decided, finishing up. "Want more, Dad?" He held up his plate and she lifted a spoon, getting a nod and a point at something else too. She reloaded his plate and her own, getting back to dinner and happier conversations. Namely how they were going to fix her son's wardrobe. Even Strife couldn't wear some of his clothes, nor would anyone let him if he tried.
Buffy looked at Xander as he strolled in. "What's with the leather?"
"Grandfather insisted." He smirked at her. "I figure I'd give it a try, make him happy. Then I'll go back to jeans when I prove it's harder to fight in because they're stiffer. Even if these are pretty thin." He looked around. "Long night, short night, Bronze night in the center?"
"Long, long night," Buffy sighed, shaking her head. "Seven coming up. I've heard rumors about a party one's throwing in the park by the fountain. Then Bronze, then we'll see?" He nodded at that, leaning on the same headstone she was perched on. "He's one who'll come up."
"There's ground moving on that one," he said, pointing at it. She hopped down and went to deal with it while he checked the ground he was standing over. "I wonder if I can tell if he's moving or not?" he muttered, concentrating. He felt earth moving and looked. "Huh. Hey, Buffy." She came back. "He's got something in there with him. I think I heard something about going away presents in his casket."
"Crap. I hate those. The last one had his teddy bear when he came out. I didn't want to stake him." She saw a running vamp and frowned, stepping into his path to stake him. "Huh. Jogging vampires."
"That way they don't get a blood gut?" Xander offered. She smiled. "Willow still grounded?"
"Yuppers. Her mom threw a fit on the school board too." They both watched as the new vampire seemed to shoot out of the ground and held two knives in his hand. "Who were you before?"
"Part of the stunt club," he reminded her, moving in behind him. He kicked him on the butt, sending him forward into Buffy, who ducked both knives and moved to the side. He grabbed an arm to keep it from stabbing her and she kicked him in the stomach to make him drop them. He fell panting to his knees and she handed Xander the stake, letting him get him from his back. It didn't work. He frowned. "That's right, your's is on the wrong side of your chest." He moved it over and did it again. This time it worked. "I hate that freaky medical condition."
"You and me both," she agreed, walking off with him. She saw him go back and pick up the knives. "Eww. Dead guy property."
"Giles," he pointed out.
"True. Free weapons." She looked in the hole and pulled out something. "Pretty but not ours." She tossed it back down. She wiped off her hands. She turned and found three vampires staring at Xander. "Hey, Xander, is your grandfather aware that vampires like what he made you cover in leather?" She looked at his butt. "Which I gotta say, it does good things for it. I can see why they're all drooling at the moment."
Xander glanced back at her. "You're the one sleeping with Angel. I don't want to duplicate your relationship." She snorted, giving him a dirty look. "I don't. Eww. Blood breath."
"He brushes his teeth and we hardly ever kiss," she finished with a frown and a small pout. "Did you guys want Xander to go gay too? We've been trying very hard to keep him from dating women." Xander moaned. "We have. Even Cordy's agreed that you dating is a bad idea. It could make her hair frizz next time."
He shot her a look. "Gee, thanks, just stick up for my right to perform oral sex on girls." She shuddered. "I haven't had a complaint yet," he snapped back, smirking at her.
"You'll like it when he does it to you," one of the vampires told her. "But you're *obviously* a virgin."
She stuck her tongue out. "That's my decision. I want it to be special!"
"That's because you're a girl," one of the others agreed, looking at Xander's butt. "Though, yeah, whoever gave you those, good taste. You should sleep with them for it."
"It was my grandfather, eww," Xander said, staking him and then the other two when they gave him horrified looks. He shuddered. "I like my grandfather. He's pretty neat. I'm not going to sleep with him though."
"He was kinda a hotty from what Cordy babbled," she offered, walking off with him. He smacked her on the forehead. "Ow!"
"Incest is *wrong*, Buffy. W R O N G! Also ewwer than ewww. So jump off it unless you wanna hit on my grandfather." He nudged her and handed her a stake, nodding at her side. She backhanded one of the vampires and they kept going. "You do know he's single, right?"
"Single, wealthy, hotty, I could go for that," she teased.
"That'd mean I could call you Grandma." She gave him a horrified look so he smirked. "I could."
"I've got a few hotty cousins too."
She looked at him. "Then there's hope for you yet." He scowled. "Just saying, not the hottest under the sun. Though the leather pants help." She got another look when he stomped off shaking his head. "They help a lot." She dusted the vamp coming up behind her and kept going, watching that one. "Park?"
"I can hear the music." They went to watch it for a few minutes. "Dive in, dance closer?"
"They'll feel me."
"They probably already do." The music stopped and all the demons looked at them. "Hi." He grinned. "Pretty night, huh." Most of them fled but a few stood guard. "She's not going to go after the harmless things. We just want the vampires and the bad guys. Really." One burbled something and the others laughed. Xander realized he had understood the burbles. Had to be a God thing. "Yes, I'm very hot in the pants. I'm still not taking worshipers yet. Thanks anyway." He grinned.
Buffy looked at him. "It'd be a good opportunity to see if you could stand going gay to save the rest of us." He smacked her on the forehead, shaking his head. "He can only date nice demons who can't hurt us. 'Cause you know, best friends." That got a mass groan and most of the rest left. They had some who were still standing there. "What's the blue thing?"
"Harmless. So are the green with purple spots and the green with orange stripes on the face." She nodded. "Dust the vamps. Leave the rest for a rainy day when they'll melt." He had no idea how he knew that either. Huh. Helpful at least. They dove into the vampires who were still there and he had to duck being grabbed by one. He tripped and rolled back to his feet, getting back into it. Buffy was flipping and flapping and kicking. He shook his head and staked another demon he knew was harmful. Then he backhanded a vampire stroking his butt and turned to stake him too. "Bastard." He walked over, looking at what Buffy was doing. He concentrated on his hand behind his back, calling a crossbow to him, with enough arrows to get the things. He shot both the vampires she was hunting. "You're getting too sweaty to Bronze," he pointed out at her pout. "No one will dance with you and you won't be able to sex bait to the alley if you're that sweaty."
"Point. Let's take the long way, my hair has to dry." He nodded, walking with her, sending the crossbow back where it should be. She looked at him. "You going to help me bait?"
"Sure, why not. If they want me that much in the leather, might as well put it to good use." She beamed and nodded. "I'm still not letting them do more than look."
"I don't think you'll have a problem with that." She dusted a leaf off his butt, making him jump and frown at her. "Leaf. Where you hit the ground."
"Fine. Don't touch."
"I'm not. I'd end up going bad girl too." She pouted at him. "I'd look horrible as a bad girl."
"Uh-huh." He walked behind her, just in case, shaking his head most of the way to the Bronze. He could hear Strife giggling and sent back a 'save us' plea. Strife giggled louder so he was smiling. He sent a 'join us' plea and got a sense of agreement. "You know, my Cousin Erin is lurking around here trying to see what I do when people aren't looking so he can warn my mother. We might meet up with him."
"Is he the tall, skinny, vamp pasty one?"
"Huh." She looked at him. "He *really* needs a tan."
"I know. It's better he's pale with his line of work." They got to the Bronze and paid their cover, going in to deal with the vamp population in here for the night. Strife strolled in about twenty minutes later, changed to dark jeans and an open-necked t-shirt, plus his usual messy hair and tons of earrings. "Hey." He gave him a hug and a clap on the back. "Save my poor butt?" he muttered in his ear.
He smirked at him. "It's the leather."
"I know. Please?"
"Unc knows." He walked him out there so he could sit at the same table Buffy was talking to Angel at. "Hey." Angel gave him an odd look so he grinned. "Erin. You?"
"Angel. This is my boyfriend," Buffy said. "He's Xander's cousins."
"Really?" he asked, looking at him. It was a clear 'I know who you are' look. Strife smirked back. "Interesting." He walked Buffy out onto the floor. "He's a bit dangerous," he said quietly.
"He's a sweetie. He's here to make sure Xander can't go fully gay tonight."
"Buffy, I know about him. He's dangerous."
"He's a demon?"
"No," he said patiently. "He's still a dangerous person."
"Uh-huh. Whatever. I'm sure he's not going to be dangerous to Xander since they're related and they've been looking for him forever."
He just nodded, dancing with her.
Strife looked at Xander. "He knows."
"I got that from the look," he said dryly. "Can we make him forget?"
"I scanned 'im. He's thinking you're a mortal offspring."
Strife snorted and shook his head. "Nope, sorry." He clapped him on the back. "Go dance, I'll make sure you're not taken." He nodded, going to do that. He realized his cousin had no rhythm then. Even worse than his. He sent film of it to Ares. He heard the groan and the promise to help him with that. Having his grandmother be the muse of dance did *not* work for the boy. Though it was clear he was horny, the girl he was dancing with was on the US Assassin's list. Strife called Tony who sent back a 'send her to the office' request since he was busy with his own girlfriend. He shared the wider picture and Tony groaned a promise to help the boy learn how to dance. Then he shut him out. Strife went out there, nodding at Xander to get her outside. That got a nod and he winked and headed that way, letting her follow him. Once out there he bound her, gagged her, and sent her to the empty spot in front of Tony's desk. Someone would find her in the morning. It was nearly two out there. He walked Xander back inside to try to teach him what rhythm was. It was almost helpless. He danced worse than Hades. Yet he was still getting looks from some of the girls. Xander even got walked off by a few. He came out of the bathroom with one and dusting the other off his chest and pants. The other walked off in a daze. He looked at him then at her then back at him.
He shrugged with a grin. "Just a grope. Really."
"I'm *so* having Auntie help you."
"Please don't. She'll want me to go gay too." Strife cackled and nodded. "Angel and her done?"
He went to interrupt them. "Buff, patrol?"
"Go ahead, I'll catch up."
He sighed and nodded, heading out with Strife. They had a good walk, staked a few fledglings, and when he got captured by one the teleporting helped a lot. Got him out of the chains. He staked them and walked on, heading for the outer cemeteries. He ran into Willow. "She and Angel are at the Bronze."
"Wow. Still?" She checked her watch. "They're having dancefloor cuddles?" He nodded. That's when she noticed what he was wearing. "Were you turned?" she demanded, reaching for his pulse to check it. "Only vampires wear leather pants, Xander!"
"Grandfather made me. Yell at him," he ordered. She huffed. "He's at home." She stomped that way. He waved at her back. He looked at his ignored cousin. "Don't tell him?" Strife smirked and nodded for them to keep going. "Sure. I like a stroll interrupted with violence. It's like golf without the ball." That got a louder, longer cackle and they kept going. "So, where did you send her?"
"I'm sure he'll love us for the paperwork tomorrow."
"Probably," he agreed happily. "He's about to throw his back out with his lady of the night."
"Hmm. Well, if you pay for it I'd hope it's good enough to ache a bit in the morning."
"Tony's off Cupie's line, Xan. There's no paying for it."
"See, I need that skill."
"Wear more leather," Strife offered dryly. "It seems ta work for you."
He stuck his tongue out. "Meany. Not like they wanted to do more than grope." They went into one of the older cemeteries. "Did anyone get buried here recently?"
"Check the ground like you did earlier. Find any churned up earth with that 'new' feeling." He concentrated and nodded, heading for the new hole. "Hmm. Can you track 'im?"
Xander looked in the hole and pointed. "I think he crawled back in for something." The butt stiffened and the vampire climbed back out, staring at him oddly. "Hi. Sunnydale Society for the Living. You mind?"
"Can I leave instead of dying?"
"As long as you don't eat anyone on the way out," he sighed. The guy beamed and took his afterlife presents with him to the waiting car, heading out of town. He looked at Strife.
"Some people need to leave and not nibble," he offered. He shrugged. "Who knows. Maybe he had a hot date."
"Maybe." They walked off and he got another vampire before looking around. "We should go home."
"We should," he agreed, heading home with the tired young God. It had been a long night. He got him into the house and up to his room, watching as his shirt came off, his wings came out, and the boy collapsed on the bed without doing more than stripping off his pants. Strife walked down the stairs, smiling at Ares. "How is Willow?"
"I sent her home after shooting her down. She walked off pouting." He looked at him. "I'll let Tony work on his sense of rhythm. Probably no more leather for a while either." Strife giggled. "He is family."
"Yup," Strife said, sitting down. "We gotta train the blonde."
"I know." He looked at him. "Go for it."
"It'll keep you closer. It's probably better for him if you are."
"Probably, especially since Angel knows." That got a grimace but a nod. "Any other instructions?"
"Take him to the orgy tomorrow so he doesn't have virgin problems." He disappeared.
"Sure," Strife called. "I can do that." He put his feet up and floated a bit, feeling very content. His cousin was nearly as deadly as he was and just as much of a goofball. He wasn't alone on the Mount anymore! Zeus could worry a lot when Xander got his jokes.
"We'll all worry a lot when he gets your jokes," Cupid called. "I told Mom he's coming tomorrow night." His voice faded out.
"Cool with me." He went to lock down the house and check on his cousin. He was still asleep on his stomach, naked, wings up and twitching. He came in and stroked between them, letting the boy moan and get off in his sleep but fall deeper and let his wings go limp. He snuck back out, closing the door. He checked the house in case Xander had painted things pretty colors with his orgasm. None here so it was somewhere else.
"Damn it!" he heard from a distance. "Someone changed my clothes!"
Strife smirked. "Payback's a bitch when you want him to be one," he said dryly. Both Cordy and Buffy had gotten hit with the repainting charm. They both looked like the streetwalkers they were dressed as too. Angel had to walk Buffy home when one of the vamps asked how much she charged. He was not an amused vampire but it served him right for wanting his cousin. He went to lay on the couch and watch the all-night cartoon channel for now. It was a good thing.
Tony stomped in the next morning when his boss called, glaring at the woman. "You just *had* to hit on my sixteen-year-old cousin, didn't you?" he demanded of the bound woman, who whimpered and tried to hide behind Gibbs again. He looked at him. "She's on the assassins list from what I heard, boss. Have fun with her."
"Who put her here?"
"Your cousin Erin? The one that needs the tan and a good meal or six?"
Tony grinned and nodded. "Yeah, him. She was hitting on Xander since his grandfather dressed him in leather." He stomped off to go make some coffee.
Gibbs looked down, taking out the gag. "The leather worth it?"
"Yes," she whimpered. "Very worth it and I would've played bondage games if he had asked!"
He stuck the gag back into her mouth and called someone. It wasn't their department so not their paperwork. "Fornell, want an assassin? She was delivered here for DiNozzo. Thanks." He hung up and took his cup of coffee. "Fornell can come get her."
"How did Erin get her in here?"
"I don't ask those questions, boss. I might not like the answer," he quipped, walking off again. He ran into Fornell at the reception desk. "She hit on my sixteen-year-old cousin and my Cousin Erin got upset with her for her lust of the leather his grandfather put him in. So she's up there."
"I don't ask Erin those questions. Plausible deniability." He walked off, heading back to his girlfriend of the moment. She was a good cover and maybe he'd take her to the orgy tonight. She was hot and cute. She wanted to do a threesome last night. So maybe.
Fornell stomped off the elevator, looking at the woman then at Gibbs. "She was hitting on who?"
"The cousin they found recently that had been kidnaped," Gibbs told him.
He nodded. "Reasonable really. He's, what, sixteen?"
"Yes and the kid's grandfather dressed him in leather."
"Ah. Even better." He hauled her up, looking at the gag.
"Leave it. She still wants the leather."
"That'll work in someone's favor I'm sure." He walked her off, taking her back to his office so someone could find her identity and book her for him. It paid to be the guy in charge. He handed her over with a, "Here, she tried to hit on DiNozzo's underage cousin so a different cousin bound her and delivered her like a present. She's an assassin." Then he went to have pancakes with his daughter.
The agent looked at her, taking out the gag. "How underage?"
"Sixteen and in leather," she moaned. "So hot."
"Huh." He sat her down to process her and get her under formal arrest. Though it'd take him a few hours to figure out how to unbind some of those straps she was in.
Xander wobbled in Monday morning looking very content and calm. He beamed at Cordy when she snorted. "One of my aunts threw a party. Was fun."
"Find a new girlfriend?" she sneered.
"Orgy. Very pretty women." He beamed and walked off happier at her horrified look.
"No! That is wrong! So very wrong, Xander!" she yelled after him. She stomped after him. "You cannot go to orgies."
He turned to look at her. "Not like we're dating. I'm not seeing anyone. It was fun stress relief," he said happily. "Anything else you wanna know?"
"No! You already shared *way* too much. You're disgusting. I'm sure there wasn't one." He moved his shirt to show the hickeys around his neck. No bite marks, just hickeys. She huffed and walked off. "That doesn't prove it."
"I'd show you but you'd go evil...er," he called after her. He nearly skipped to his locker to get his things for the day. Willow saw him in first period, giving him a bad look. "What?"
"Orgy?" she hissed.
He nodded. "One of my aunts threw a party and it broke out during it."
She shuddered. "You were...safe, right?"
"Of course." Not like he was going to be able to catch anything now. "Very safe." And it had been great fun when the one girl had played with his wings. He didn't know they were that sensitive. She gave him another odd look. "What?"
"That smile's scary." She looked at the teacher when she came in. Later on she got Buffy and Giles together. "We should get Xander away from his family. His aunt had an orgy and invited him."
Giles looked at her. "Really?" She nodded. "I'm sure he was safe."
"So! We know women are bad for Xander!" she complained. "They go evil and try to eat him!"
"And a few guys with the leather pants his grandfather put him in," Buffy pointed out.
"That's the other thing! His grandfather dressed him in leather, Giles. *Leather*!" she said hotly. "How good can they be for him?"
"Just because a few of his relatives are a bit wild doesn't mean his parents are," he said dryly.
"I heard you say his grandfather worships Ares. That means they're bad people," she insisted.
"Yet you pray to Hecate," he said dryly, making her blush. "I'll talk with the boy about your worries, ladies, but I'm sure he's not going to be one of the wild ones in the family." They stomped off.
Xander appeared out of thin air behind them. "Don't worry, they'll forget soon and won't call social services." Giles jumped, looking at him. He grinned. "They're promising to teach me what a sense of rhythm is too."
"Orgies are probably not good for you, Xander. You could catch anything."
"My aunt is devoted to Aphrodite. I doubt she invited anyone who had stuff."
"Good point." He clapped him on the back. "I went a bit wild in my own youth, Xander. Every lad does go a bit wild for a bit. If you need to talk, let me know. All right?"
"Sure. Did you know you can taste the difference between women?"
Giles blushed but cleared his throat. "I did, but it's been many years since I tried that." He fled to his office.
Xander strolled out, thinking at his grandfather, who assured him he had blocked both women from calling the 'proper authorities' to have him taken away for expanding his horizons. Xander walked into the gym and headed for the locker room. He took off his shirt, keeping control of his wings for a few minutes. The guys all stared at him. "What?"
"You have a hickey on your back," one said.
"Yeah, one nibbled on my back while giving a backrub. Her friend was rubbing other things with her mouth," he said happily. He got given looks like he was The Man and put on his shorts and t-shirt for gym, heading out to stretch. He saw the balls and groaned. Dodgeball. Joy. Not! He popped his neck. Then he stretched his shoulders. Buffy gave him an odd look. "What?"
"The Harris' did it when I was younger," he reminded her.
"Oh." She pouted. "Why?"
"Probably because they could," he admitted, putting down his arms and covering his marks. One of the guys came out joking.
"Hey, Harris, that hickey mean you did other things too?"
"I was asked but no. Thanks for wondering." He looked at her, shrugging a bit. "Want me on your team or the other one?"
"No, you're on our team," she said grimly. "That way you can't hit me. Or Willow." She looked at his throat. "No fangs?"
"No, not a vamp up there," he said dryly. He yawned, leaning against the wall. The coach gave him a heated glare. He stared back impassively, making him back up. He and Buffy got picked for the same team so the coach had to pick Willow, even though she was a liability. He caught one of the balls, Buffy caught another one. They faced off across the line on the floor. The whistle blew and Xander got the guy who thought he was going to gay. Right in the chest, making him 'oof' in pain and fall down. He scooped up a ball that had narrowly missed him, going back to it. This was even better than sword training for fight training he realized. He had to keep himself from relocating a few times, and his wings from coming out but he was one of the last three on his side. He got the last one on the other side before his ball hit him. The whistle blew and he looked at Buffy, one of the other last ones left. "Hi."
"Hi." She tossed him a ball. "Good hits."
"Thanks. Oh, we did a bit more after we left you. How was Angel?"
"Freaked out. We're still wondering who changed my clothes on me."
He shrugged, keeping a straight face. "I was in by then from what you complained about yesterday morning. Erin and I headed home after that."
"Erin?" one of the guys sneered.
"Yeah, my cousin."
"The tall, pale, skinny one," Buffy told him. "With the dark hair."
"Who was that woman who showed up a few times when you got found?" one of the guys muttered.
"My Aunt Artie. She's a hunter."
"I'd be her prey," he said, walking off fantasizing.
Xander went to change, stretching once he was in there. His wings didn't come out and he was a happy boy once he got redressed. He came out and found the coach waiting on him. "What?"
"That collar of yours..."
"Doesn't come off. My grandfather gave it to me. It's locked and has GPS for me."
That got a grimace. "The rule is no jewelry in gym, Harris."
"I can't take it off. There's no clasp." He let him see it. "See?"
The man growled. "You still can't wear it."
"I don't care. I'm not taking it off. You can suspend me for all I care. Not like it's a reasonable request when you don't make the girls take off theirs." He walked off, heading to his next class. He was summoned to the office halfway through and shrugged at the receptionist. "Why is it my fault it doesn't open?"
"I don't know. The troll wants you."
"I'm hoping not literally." He walked in there, looking at him. "What?"
"Take it off."
"I can't. There's no clasp. You looked at it and you know there's no clasp."
"How did he get it on you?"
"He had my relative seal it on me."
"Then it can be taken off. You're not allowed to wear it here."
Xander stared at him. "You can't enforce that."
"It's a distraction to the other students and staff."
"Really? I haven't noticed anyone staring at it. Only you and the gym teacher."
"Is mad because she had a wet dream about me. Anything else?" The shocked look felt nice. "I don't care. I'm not taking it off. It doesn't come off, and if you try to take it off I'm suing the school and the town." Snyder snorted at that. "Remember, it's a big thing in the US now to do that." He went a bit pale but stiffened up. "There's no *reasonable* reason for me to take off something that's meant to protect me. If you don't like it, blow me." He walked out, calling his grandfather to tell him. He agreed with him and said an aunt was coming down. He barely made it out of the office when the cool, brunette woman walked in holding a briefcase. He looked at her. "Aunt Athena?" he asked quietly. She smirked and tipped her head. "Then let's talk to the troll."
"I'll let you decide that." He walked her inside. "My family's here to talk to him about my collar." He walked her in there, interrupting the call between him and the mayor. "Tell him I said hi." He flinched and hung up. "This is my Aunt Athena. She'd like to talk to you." He sat down, letting her do her worst.
"That...collar is a distraction to the students and staff."
"Only those who clearly spend too much time staring at him," she said dryly, putting down her briefcase. "I can promise you he's not going to take it off."
"He will or I'll expel him."
"Oooh, yay me," Xander said dryly. He smirked at him. "And again, I can sue the school and the town. Especially since we can prove you've wanted various members of my family sexually. Auntie, did you hear how he fell down on the floor and took a four hour sex nap, complete with stains, thanks to Grandfather?"
"I had. Do we have it on tape?" He nodded. "You're sure?"
"Willow's mother has a copy."
"I'll get it from her tonight." She looked at him. "You look a bit smug."
"I was at the party last night. It was a good morning."
"You're underage," the principal sneered.
"Not where the party was," Xander said dryly. "It's amazing where you can get to in a few hours' travel." He crossed his feet. "He and the gym teacher don't like it. Plus one teacher I had to explain it wasn't a slave collar from S&M practice. She was satisfied that it was a family heirloom and for my protection since it has GPS or something on it."
"Which is a good thing with the way you were lost to us," she agreed, looking at the little man again. Ares sent what he knew on him. Hmm. "So, do you enjoy staring at my nephew as much as you do my brother?" He went pale. "It was fairly evident with the way you're staring at him now. That is sexual harassment and I'm quite sure that the state's school board, plus the police over that special area would be most happy to hear about it." She leaned closer. "That is not coming off him. Neither is his anklet. They are on there for his protection." Because even she could feel the hellmouth. She felt another one of them show up and straightened up when the door opened. "Aunt...."
Hecate held up a hand. "I'm here to talk to one of my students," she said with a smile for the principal. "Surely you won't mind."
"It's the school day."
She sneered at him. "I know toads who do that so much better. Would you like to join them perhaps?" He went pale and backed up. "Good. My student?"
"She's in History and Giles is in the library. He lets us use the library for private meetings," Xander told her. She nodded, leaving with that information. He sent up a silent bit of information that the hellmouth was under the library. She sent back a gentle touch then a swat to his head. He looked at Athena again. "I hadn't seen her yet."
"She doesn't often come out these days." She looked at the pale principal. "Now." He went shaky. "Are there further problems with your lust for my nephew?"
"I don't want him," he sneered. "Maybe dead but I don't want him."
Xander looked at her. "We know the mayor has his hand in things around here. We know those two are close. He's the one who comes up with the stupid excuses, like kids on PCP for the violence issues around here."
She nodded. "It figures. A little mind would come up with things like that."
"I'll have you know I have a very good mind. I graduated college."
She looked at him then blocked out the office, showing her true nature. "I'm the founder of Xander's line," she said dryly, making him gape and whimper. "Am I clear?" He nodded, bowing and falling to the floor. "Leave my nephew alone." She lowered it again, appearing human. "Ah. I haven't done that in nearly forever." She smiled at Xander. "If you have more problems, call." She kissed him on the forehead. "Try harder in your classes."
"Some of us aren't meant to be book smart, Auntie."
"Good point. Try anyway." He nodded, getting up to walk her out. She did stop in the library, looking around, making a few books appear. "Those will be needed sometime soon." She looked at Hecate. "I claimed the head of his lineage."
"The little troll deserves worse."
"True." She smiled at Giles. "Rupert." She kissed him on the cheek. "Such a good boy." She walked out, heading back to the college she was teaching at.
Giles spluttered. He finally stopped and stared at Xander.
"She's part of the family, Rupert," she said, working on the unconscious Willow so she quit egging on the hellmouth for a while. Then she got done and released her. "There, dear, you passed out a bit. How do you feel?"
"Better," she admitted. "I must've needed a nap." She got up and hugged her. "Thank you for the help." She headed back to class.
Xander looked at his aunt. "So he knows?"
"He knows and the future toad in the office knows you're a relative and a beloved one." She got up and kissed him on the cheek. "We will talk about your training soon."
"Spells go screwy around me," he warned.
"I've noticed. We'll work on that so they won't. It will affect your gifts." He nodded at that and she left from right there.
He looked at Giles. "Hi." He reached over to close his mouth.
"Who is your grandfather truly?" he asked quietly.
"Ares, God of War." He leaned against the checkout table. "I'm kinda over weapons," he said with a sheepish grin. "You're the only one who knows. Are they still ranting about me having been at Aunt 'Dite's orgy?" He nodded, swallowing. "It changes nothing, Giles. I'm still in training. I just learned how to get out of handcuffs the other day." He relaxed at that. "I'm still mid-power breakout too."
"Very well then," he agreed, staring at him. "There were rumors that there was a missing grandson." Xander wiggled his fingers. "The Harris'?"
"I think Cousin Erin put it that he went to have anger management issues on them. I've heard they never showed up in the afterlife."
"Very well." He looked at the boy. "She was serious, do try harder with your studies."
"I try really hard now, Giles. I'm still not getting it. Some of us aren't meant to be book people." That got a nod. "Though it looks like she donated." He smiled and went to look at them. When he looked back Xander was back in class. With those orders he couldn't skip without getting into trouble. He smiled at the teacher, taking his bag from Willow. "The troll objected to me again so we had a talk with the family and him ending up on the floor begging for mercy," he said quietly. She patted him on the shoulder so he sat down in his seat. Buffy was nose-in-the-air ignoring him. Willow was rubbing her forehead but she looked happier. Cordy was sneaking looks at him and he ignored them. Ares had laid down the law, he was not allowed to date Cordelia. He got into the study of what they were doing, still lost. He had been lost all semester. He felt something in his mind snap into focus and it made a bit more sense but he was still lost. He heard a feminine sigh and she explained it to him. He asked where a few things came off of. That lead back to being lost last year and she groaned, giving up after a few minutes' effort. He tried the worksheet again. He could do the problems but he wasn't sure how.
Ares appeared in the meeting area of the Gods, nodding at Hecate. "How bad is the hellmouth?"
"Horribly open. Again." She sighed. "I did fix Willow's leaking problem. The last time the child closed it it linked into her powers and is draining through her so I connected her back to the earth so she could dump it. Alexander needs training in my area too. It's tainted him for a very long time."
"It still goes wrong around him too," he said dryly. He sat down in his usual seat. "Let me get him to the point where he doesn't trip over his feet again. He needs that more."
"Agreed. Also I have to find some information for Ripper. At least he's trying to train Willow." He smiled at that. "Things are a wreck down there."
Xander appeared. "We do realize that they were set up to feed into the problem and to feed the walking problems? That's the whole reason the town was set up by the mayor." They both gaped. "By the way, is he demonic? He was giving me 'you're tasty' looks again."
Ares checked then nodded. "Hecate, are you seeing something about an ascension coming up?"
"I am. In a few years."
"It's the mayor," he admitted.
"Charming. I was wondering why Athena put those books there." She looked at Xander. "Come here, boy." He walked closer, letting her feel his aura. "If we clean all the hellmouth energy off you, it'd leave you open to ours."
"If you do that I'll get hellishly sick, that's why I'm on the collar system," Xander pointed out gently.
She nodded, kissing him on the forehead. "It would. Gaia showed good sense to block that from you."
"Didn't she create that?" he teased, earning a laugh and a smirk back. "So, where do I go from here? Even Athena couldn't help with the sucky education."
"It'd be better if the town was evacuated and exploded," Ares told him.
Xander looked at him. "I know. I also know that it won't happen. You can't make everyone evacuate the town. You can fix things so it's harder for them to work. Remove the mayor, remove the principal. Remove their toadies and it'll be harder to work. We might actually get a school that prepares people for a career."
Athena appeared. "It could only help." She grimaced. "They were teaching the seniors things that other schools get in sixth or ninth grade."
Xander nodded. "Doesn't really surprise me since the school is only a diversion and time waster for most of the kids until they're eaten. Sunnydale is set up like a farming operation, Auntie. That's our grazing field to fatten us up for slaughter. Though, that analogy doesn't work perfectly since the school lunch isn't something you can eat."
"The hellmouth itself is forcing some of that," Hecate admitted. "It's the one who was prompting the mayor to set up the farming operations. Even if we destroyed the town it'd come back within a decade, Ares."
"There's too much power there and it'll draw more people like the mayor and Ethan," Xander said. She nodded. "Would minimizing it help?"
"It would," Ares admitted. "It'd bring down the death rate too." He looked at Athena. "Can it be fixed?"
She shrugged. "With time and enough spare parts anything can be fixed. That's going to need a whole overhaul."
"Some of the teaches are good," Xander countered. "They're being held back by the system and Snyder. He terrorizes the staff and the students. We even have a teacher who's tried to get Giles online."
"I wish her much luck," Athena said dryly.
"She kinda helped put a demon on the internet, so they're dating now," Xander told her. She walked off shaking her head. He looked at Hecate. "If we could start draining the energy now, would that help with the later plans to destroy the hellmouth?"
She thought about it then nodded. "Technically we can't *destroy* it, Xander, but we can drain it in a more permanent fashion." He grinned at that. "It'd leave it active but not as active or as powerful."
"Or as dangerous," Xander pointed out. "Which means the other reforms could work as well."
She nodded. "It could." She patted him on the cheek. "You're definitely in the right house, young man." She disappeared to look that up.
"It means less work for my people too," Ares agreed smugly. Xander beamed at that praise. "I'll also relent on the leather issue. It's clear your Godhood is reacting with it and drawing them to you."
"I think the girls freaked because they found themselves wanting," he teased. Ares smirked back. "Can I tell Giles?"
"You can." The boy disappeared. It was a solid outline of a plan. Yes, his grandson was definitely one of his. It was giving him a minor case of the warm fuzzies so he turned his mind to the overall plan before he *smiled* or something else that would scare others.
Xander appeared in the library out of sight and ran down the stairs like he had come in from the outer door. "Giles. Auntie H was here earlier. She thinks there's a way to drain the hellmouth down to a less active level." He blinked then gaped. "Also, we have some new information you should know *now* so we can prevent later." He felt a scroll hit his back belt line and pulled it out. "This is for you on one of them. I can tell you about the other."
Giles led him into the office, closing the door. "There's a camera out there."
"I know. And? If he's listening he knows we deal with this shit." He nodded. "That's either on why Angel's a bad thing for Buffy to have or on the future ascension." He went pale and read it. Either topic was a horrible thing. He looked up. "Angel?" He nodded. He leaned down. "The mayor is going to ascend, whatever that means, in the next few years," he said quietly. "We were talking about the farming operations around here."
Giles patted his cheek. "Thank you, Xander." He beamed, standing up. "You do know that the principal is going to have you expelled?"
"He can try. I doubt it'll work."
"Good point." He went back to the scroll. "A few years?" Xander nodded, making an assenting noise when he didn't look up. "Then let me work on this one first." He smiled at him. "Do thank your aunt for the books on that subject, I had noticed that. What about Willow?"
"She tied it off. It was draining through her."
"Oh, dear. No wonder she's had such an increase in power." Xander nodded. "Very well. It's nearly the end of the year. Any changes would probably take place over the summer. Are you going to be around?" He shrugged.
Ares appeared. "Not really. Now and then he will be. I'll have him training with some of the other grandchildren and later down the lines to help him."
Xander looked at him. "You mean I have more cousins like Tony?"
"Three," he admitted, smiling at him. "You'll be seeing two and Tony this summer." That got a nod. He looked at Giles. "You're right, doing it over the summer would be better." He smirked at him. "I want you to start working on strategy issues with him. He's got a good mind for it, even if he can't do math very well." He disappeared, going to where Athena was complaining about the troll to the school board. He walked in looking normal. "Did you mention that dream he had that day?" he asked. The school board looked at him. "She's my sister." That got a knowing look. "I'm the grandfather of Alexander Harris."
"I was getting to that," Athena told him. "Not only are your schools so far behind state and federal mandates, there's the issue that the principal of the high school, a Mr. Snyder, has shown tendencies to stare at our nephew's backside and front. Plus one day he laid down in the middle of the break area's floor and had numerous wet dreams where just any student could see him." She handed over a sheet of paper. "That's beyond the point that he's not accredited any more. He lost it after his last posting." They groaned. "That could cost your school funding. That plus the sexual instabilities he has shown will not look good when my nephew has to sue him for harassment."
"Can you prove harassment?" one asked.
"I can," Ares said, pulling a file out of thin air. "His disciplinary file is full of detentions for showing up." He handed it over. "My grandson has been under an enormous amount of stress due to the kidnapers being abusive alcoholics but this does not help him any. He got one the other day for wearing clothes that matched." That got a groan. "He's done it to other students as well."
"The mayor does like him," one of the people on the board admitted.
Ares smirked. "I work in defense contracting." They all went pale. "Xander will be following me into the field. He's already picking up the specialized knowledge he'll need, even if he does suck in French and math. If I have to twitch contacts to get the mayor to agree, I will."
They looked at each other. "You might have to," one warned.
"Done," Ares said. "Let me go make some calls." He walked out, heading to DC personally instead of calling. He appeared to the Secretary of the Navy in his office, making him jump and stare in awe. "We've found my grandson."
"I heard. Congratulations, sir." He looked at him. "What help do you need with him? Someone to oversee his self-defense training perhaps? I can assign Gibbs and your nephew if you'd like."
"I'll consider that offer. No, there's a problem out there. The mayor is being... problematic. He very muchly wants to control my grandson and the power point out there." That got a whimper of a groan. "Exactly. My grandson is on the protection patrol and it's putting him at odds with him. Though he is looking good at strategy and he'll be over weapons."
"I'll make sure DiNozzo has what he'll need to learn from the new ones." He looked at him. "Would a political scandal help?"
"He's over a hundred years old and he still looks like he's in his forties. It's that sort of power point." That got a nod. "I need him removed."
"Strike team, Lord Ares?"
"That's a thought. Let's start with a scandal. Right now, Athena is going over the school system. It's bad enough that they set it up as a farming operation." That got a shudder. "I need to start subtly and have him want to commit suicide."
"I'll get with my contacts, sir. What do you have?" He handed over the dossier his people had worked up. He looked it over then looked at his overseer. "You weren't kidding?"
"No, and that military project someone likes? Stop it before my grandson does. We're working on lowering the threat levels out there."
He nodded. "I'll do that, sir." He saluted him and Ares disappeared. He sat down again and went back over it, calling a couple of people. "I was just handed a dossier on someone who is hindering recruitment in his town. Others want him out too because he's endangering some heirs who were recently found there. Yes, DiNozzo's cousin. Please." He hung up and waited on his counterpart from the Army to come over and talk with him. He handed it over. "He's livid."
"He should be. We can't recruit from there. They can't pass the test." They both called some contacts to let them know about the small town problem. Including the senators from out there. By that night the president had heard and was fuming that the man was doing 'bad things' out there.
Xander came to school two days later and found FBI agents in there. "Wow, are we all under arrest?" he asked the one blocking his path.
"No, Mr. Harris. We were warned not to let you near our suspect, that he has been making sexual threats to you. Come with me please?" He nodded, letting the guy walk him to his locker then homeroom. "Will any classes take you near the office?"
"Not until lunch," he offered.
"Thank you. If he comes near you, let us know, sir." He walked off.
Xander looked at the confused looking teacher and classmates. "Snyder made a pass at me," he excused. "It's only one of the reasons the FBI is here I'm sure." They all nodded. "So I'm not allowed near the office."
"That's fine, Xander," the teacher agreed. "Your grandfather complain?"
"And my Aunt Athena. She's a college teacher," he said proudly. "She complained a lot. I did say that most of the teachers are very nice and being threatened by him." That got a smile and he shrugged. "You always tried to explain stuff to me when I felt stupid."
"He was holding us back."
The PA system came on. "This is the FBI Agent in charge, Darren Peters. Due to the files and information being found in the office at this time we are going to lock down the school. You are to go to the class you have for first period and stay there until we say otherwise. Thank you for your cooperation." The system went off.
"I'm wondering what they found," Xander said, frowning some.
"Probably kiddie porn," another one said grimly. "He leers at some of the girls too."
Xander nodded. "Not to mention that wet dream he had in the hallway." That got a few other nods, and one girl who shuddered. "That's just one thing she complained about. Did you know we're doing sixth grade work?" They gave him horrified looks. He nodded. "Yeah! Some classes make it up to ninth in the senior year." They all groaned. "So she was right to complain. Grandfather said that the military can't even recruit here we're behind so much." That got a nod and they were released to their next class by the agent who came to the door. He settled in next to Willow. "What did they find?"
"Evidence of a serial homicide series, kiddie porn, and a few other things," she said, looking at him. "Plus plans on how to destroy the school with the mayor's name on it." That got a single nod. "I heard your aunt joined my mother in her complaints."
"Yeah and about the school being behind standards and a lot of other things. Aunt Athena teaches at a college." That got a nod from her and she slumped. "Maybe they'll fix it so you can go great places," he offered with a smile.
"Maybe," she agreed. "It'd be nice to have higher classes to go onto." The teacher walked in. "We good?"
"We're fine. Xander, thank your aunt for complaining when the troll hit on you."
She smiled. "Now, we're going to work today. The other teachers are in agreement that we're going to work today. The state board is going to be giving everyone standardized tests to figure out where we are and if we should hold everyone back by a year to get people up to the standards of the rest of the state." That got a few groans and glares at Xander. "It wasn't his fault. His aunt was right to complain."
"My aunt said I'm doing things that most kids do in sixth grade," Xander told them. That got some horrified looks. He nodded. "Grandfather said that the military recruitment test isn't being passed by anyone here either."
The teacher nodded. "He's right. We don't pass it. We don't pass any of the state's tests and we drag down the state's average for the national one. I 'm surprised it didn't happen before. The mayor did something so it wouldn't." They all put their heads down. "So let's get to work today so you can at least get *one* area near your own level." They nodded, getting to work with her. Willow helped Xander since she was ahead and it went all right. The next day they'd be doing second period instead of first. They kept that for the rest of the week, just in case so the kids might pass *something*.
Xander walked in that night, looking at his mother. "I spent a whole day doing English." She gave him a hug. "Thanks. It's almost scary what they found in there."
"It was all naturally there too," she assured him. He just nodded. "Did you learn anything?"
"A little bit but my brain is fried." He looked around before taking off his shirt and letting out his wings. He sighed in pleasure. "Willow kept patting me between them when I got frustrated." She smiled at that. "Now what?"
"Clean up for dinner?"
He kissed her. "Love you." He went to do that.
"Take a nap too," she called after him. "It'll be a little over an hour."
"Sure." He was a happy boy when he got up to his room, having to hide his wings suddenly. "Buffy," he said loudly, alerting his mother. "How did you sneak in?"
"Sorry, bad habit." She looked at him. "Giles found bad things about Angel."
He sat down on his bed, pulling back on his shirt. "Sometimes that happens. He is a vampire."
"Not that. I knew those bad things. He found out that if he gets happy his soul goes away." She pouted. "That means we have to break up."
"Buffy, think about it this way. You're dating someone that your duty says to destroy," he said gently. "It wasn't going to work out." She looked at him. "It wasn't. It'd be like me dating Cordy."
She grimaced but nodded. "I know. But he's cute and he's sweet to me. He's handsome."
"And there's plenty of other guys like that in the world," his mother assured her. "Come on, we'll have a girl talk while Xander takes a shower." She nodded, following her down to the kitchen for cookies and tea, plus a girl talk. She understood very well about dating a boy who was bad for her. Her father had killed her first choice and she told Buffy some of that story. It made her feel better and she even promised to go with her when she broke up with him. She left dinner on the table for the boys and took her to do that, then taking her home to talk with Joyce over ice cream. She understood.
Xander peeked into the kitchen. "Food," he called. His father came out of the study. "Buffy had to break up with Angel. Mom had a girl talk with her."
"That explains the ice cream and tea," he said, serving them and heading back to his office. "I'm dealing with the checkbook. Don't go hunting tonight."
"I wasn't planning on it. Going to watch tv." He went to do that, finding the local news was covering the arrest and search of the school by the FBI. "Hey, Dad." He came in to watch what was being said. They all winced at the information they had found in the school. "I'm hoping Willow wasn't found," he muttered.
"She wasn't," he assured him. "I know the lead agent and I had a talk with him at lunch about the protection patrol you guys have." He clapped him on the back. "She's safe and so are you, son." Xander beamed at him and he smiled back. "You do know we want to be real parents?"
Xander looked confused. "I thought you were."
He smiled. "I guess it's just your mother worrying again." He went back to the study to talk to his father-in-law about those things. With the examples he had of parenting, outside of Joyce Summers, their casual roommate relationship was probably as close to parenting as he knew.
Xander flopped down after the last standardized test of the day, looking at his mentor. "Hey, Giles, I think it's a good night for Miller time."
"It might be but you're still too young to drink," he assured him. He came out of the office. "Done?" He nodded. "The girls?"
"Willow's in the bathroom doing strange girl rituals. Buffy's behind me somewhere. I have the feeling you're going to be seeing us for an extra year."
Giles smiled and nodded. "It's possible." He gave him a shoulder squeeze. He felt the brush of something. "Wings?" he asked quietly. Xander grinned and nodded. "Hide them better." He watched the boy concentrate and he quit being able to feel them. "Good job." He went back to his office. "We're expecting some other shakeups as well. The mayor was arrested earlier."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer demon," he quipped. Buffy and Willow came in. "Found her doing arcane girl things?"
"Yup. Mostly crying in stress." She sat her down and sat across from him. "So, what's up this weekend, Giles?"
He came out of the office reading another book. "We need to lay low while the agents are still in town," he said, glancing up at her. "Just in case." That got a nod. "Even though the lead agent does know about the Watchers. His grandfather was one of us." He smiled at Xander.
"My dad knows him. He made sure they knew not to come near Willow."
"Good. Even better." He went back to his reading. "We're starting on the usual summer slow down anyway. It shouldn't be creating more problems." He looked at Xander. "That idea of draining some of the power?"
Xander snapped his fingers and found the scroll in his back beltline, handing it over. "From Auntie H and Auntie Athena."
He smiled. "I'll thank them later." He looked it over, nodding. "It's not that hard and we could do it over the summer." He looked at him. "Are you going to be here?"
"Part of it. Grandfather wants me to meet a few of the other cousins like Tony is and get some training time in with them."
"What could you learn from Tony?" Willow asked. "He's a Fed, right?"
"He's a Fed that investigates Navy and Marine crimes and he was a detective for a while before that," Xander told her. "I do know at least one of them will be working on my self- defense skills. Tony's promised to fix my rhythm problem on the dance floor." She smiled at that. "The other two we'll have to see what they can teach me." Giles smiled at that and nodded, going back to his reading. "Will I need to be here for part of it?"
"We could use the help," he agreed. "Buffy, don't worry about yours. This will be magical mostly." She beamed and nodded at that. "If we're right, this should lower the threat levels around here."
"Could only help," she agreed happily. She punched Xander on the shoulder. "Bring me stuff from DC?"
"Sure. Postcard, t-shirt, or books?"
"Whatever. As long as it's something I can use or wear."
"Okay. Wills?" She smiled and nodded. "I can do that." He looked at Giles. "I'll get you book markers." That got a smile. The doors slammed open and he jumped up when he saw who it was. "What do you want?"
"I'll get you for ruining my plans. You won't stop me," the mayor sneered. "Nothing will stop me! I made this town! I took it from the natives who only guarded it! I built everything that's here!"
"We knew you were a demonic people farmer," he said dryly. "Anything else? Prison is already giving you bad breath." The man huffed and stomped off. He waved. "Thanks for the warning." He sat down again. "Okay, now I need a shower but the gym teacher is still there. Need me tonight?"
"No, there's no patrol until the agents leave unless there's a problem," Giles told them. "All of you go home for dinner." They left, heading home. Giles packed up his things and the precious scroll, heading home as well.
Xander stretched Friday night. "Can I hit the Bronze?" His parents nodded, giving him tolerant looks. "Thanks. I'll be home at a decent hour if I can." He went to change clothes, deciding on some clothes he could get into a fight in if he had to. The Bronze was still the major demon hunting ground in town. He came bouncing down the stairs. "Night. Don't wait up." He headed off into the night. It wasn't that far to walk. It was a pretty night too. He heard a 'be careful' from Strife that made him smile. He didn't take the usual shortcut down the alley behind the supermarket. The lights were out and he didn't want to be jumped. He turned down the right street for the Bronze, wincing when he was grabbed from behind and drug into an alley, then tossed down and kicked a few times. He hopped up and laid into the people around him. "Fat chance." His back started to itch but he had to ignore it for now. At least until one of them smacked him hard enough to send him back to the ground. Then he felt something move behind him. He felt a weapon behind him and picked it up instinctively. The flare of light from it made him pause. "Hello." He felt his mind drop and that was all there was of the attempted assault.
Strife looked at Ares. "He just broke out." Ares nodded, sipping his beer. "We should go to him. You know, help him?"
"He needs to know he can do it on his own," he said calmly.
"After we just found him? He'll feel abandoned," Tony said as he walked in. "Did we also forget that Xander's still got hyena taint?" Ares sat up and glared at the viewing portal Strife created. Tony looked too. "He's gone." They left, taking him with him. "What am I going to do?"
Xander felt the power coming in and focused on them, sword held loosely in his hand. "You are?" he sneered.
"Hmm," Tony said, carefully moving closer. "Xander. Xander, it's Tony. Come here please?" The boy gave him a confused look. "I'm Tony. You know me. Sniff me. You know me." He let the boy sniff his wrist like he would a dog. The boy licked him and cackled. "That's right, you know me. Come here." He pulled him closer, Strife getting his back. Xander sniffed him and groaned, shifting some. "Shh, we've got you. Can you drop the sword?"
"Mine," he said, staring at him. "Mine!"
"I know it's yours. We just want you to put it down for a few minutes, before you hurt us. I don't want to explain sword cuts to Gibbs." Xander sniffed him again, licking his throat. "I know. I taste good. Please put the sword down?" Xander let it drop and went back to nibbling on him. "Here, mark Strife as your pack." He let Strife have him while Ares floated the sword up and put it back onto Xander's back. It wouldn't stick and fell again. "He's out?"
"Fully out." He changed it, making it an earring. Xander frowned at him, then at his back when his wings came out. "Shinier now."
"Very," Tony agreed.
"Oh my God, he has wings too," Cordy breathed. "What sort of freak are you, Xander!" Tony glared at her and used what little power he had to bring her to her knees. "No fair!"
"Shut up," Ares told her. "Xander?" Xander hummed, going back to his nibbling. "You're chewing on Strife. Can I have him back?"
"No!" Strife said dryly. "You nibble all you want, Xan. Cupie won't mind." Xander looked up at him, frowning some. "My mate." Xander pouted. "You've got one somewhere," he promised. Xander nodded, giving him a hug. "You back?"
"You went feral," Tony told him. Xander blinked at him in confusion. "You did. Your sword of power came out and you went feral." He pointed at the mess around them. "What happened?"
"They were beating him pretty badly," Strife admitted, healing the bruises. It finished bringing Xander back. "There you go." He smiled at him. "Do I taste good?"
Xander frowned and nodded. "Like pink snoballs." Strife cackled and gave him a hug. He concentrated and his wings got hidden again. "Sorry. I know this'll cause problems, Grandfather."
He shrugged. "You handled it well until you went feral. We'll have to work on it." He clapped him on the back. "Want a beer?"
"I hate drinking."
"Good point." He smirked. "Aphrodite's?"
Tony gave him an odd look. "Let's clean up the mess and Cordelia?"
Xander looked at her, smiling and waving. "Hi."
"You're a winged freak like in those comics you used to read," she pouted.
He walked over and changed her clothes. "No I'm not." She glared at him. He smirked. He pointed at Strife. "That's Strife, God of Mischief." She went pale. He smirked. "That's why you won't be allowed to tell anyone."
"They'll know anyway!"
"I've had the wings for a while now, Cordy. They haven't yet." He let Ares block her mind. "Thanks, Grandfather."
"Not a problem. Just don't date her. She's a shrew." He looked at Tony. "Go tell your grandmother that she's got to throw the coming out party."
Tony smirked and let Strife sent him back to Olympus for that. "Grandma!"
"Tony, sweetie, I asked you not to call me that," she called back as she came out of her workshop. "Why do you have blood on you? Grody! Go shower!"
"Xander just came out and went feral. His sword won't go back. Uncle Ares said you could throw the party."
She pinched him on the cheek. "That almost makes up for you calling me Grandma." She went to tell the others. Hermes was going to be finding some of the cousins Ares wanted the boy trained with. Plus some of the favored ones. They could all use a good party.
Xander looked around the party the next night then at Strife. "Everyone seems kinda bored."
"Everyone is kinda bored but it'll be better later," he promised. "This is the formal part of the preparty." He led him over to the sealed doors. "When they open, we go through in hierarchy order, get introduced, and then the party starts for the younger and hipper of us."
"Okay," Xander said, thinking about it. "So this is the old, stiff, boring guy part of the party?"
"Yeah and the political part," he agreed happily, leading him over to someone. "Yo, Auntie Demeter, this is Xander."
"Xander," she said, shaking his hand, staring at him. "You'll never be great in my areas."
He shrugged. "I can't be good at everything. Aunt Athena figured that out since I'm no good in school either."
She smiled a bit and nodded. "It's a wise God that knows his limitations but doesn't let them fence him in."
"Oh, I'm finding new stuff all the time," he admitted. "Like did you know that wings itch if you hide them too long?"
"Cupid has said that," she admitted. "Go hang out with the younger crowd, dear. They're much more fun and less political." He nodded, letting Strife drag him off. She smiled at Hera. "He's a nice boy," she told her.
"Very. A bit angry now and then but that's reasonable with the creatures who raised him. Did they ever appear?"
"Not that my daughter's told me. It's an interesting thought." Hades appeared. "You're late."
"Ares is looking for the boy."
She pointed. "That boy?"
He groaned and called him. "Strife has him," he said when Ares appeared.
He looked over and sighed. "It's probably a good thing. Xander's showing good skills in tactics." He looked at Hera. "Father?"
"Still fussing over his hair."
The Fates appeared and Zeus appeared behind them. "That'll work," Hades said dryly. "You might want to warn Xander." He went to do that. Zeus rang the gong and the doors opened. He, of course, walked through first.
Hermes announced each of them as they walked through in hierarchy order. When he came to Strife, he grinned. "Erin, God of Strife and Mischief."
"Xan hates his full name," he warned quietly. "Has a bad reaction."
"Rules are rules, dude," Hermes reminded him. Xander came to the door. "Alexander, God of Weapons and Tactics."
Xander looked at him. "I'll beg if you never call me that again," he said dryly.
"Rules, man. Change your name or get onto the big guy for permission."
Xander nodded, walking down the stairs. He created a small 'my name is' tag and had written on it 'call me Xander or I pop you one'. He stuck it to his chest and smiled at Zeus when he ran into him. "Since I have violent reactions to my actual name...."
Xander smiled. "You sure that's your final answer, Great-Grandfather?" He nodded, looking smug. Xander punched him on the arm. "That's fine, we'll just have to convince you differently." He walked off, already making plans. Strife burst out swearing and gave him an awed look so he waved at him. The waiter stopped by with champagne. "I don't drink. Soda?" One was gotten for him. "Thank you." He sipped then coughed. "Without the rum?" The waiter looked confused. He handed it back and walked over to Aphrodite. "I love you, Auntie."
"I'm sensing a but," she said happily, smoothing down his hair. He ducked away and undid it. "What's wrong?"
"I don't drink. Ever."
"Crap." She got him a soda and handed it over. "There, that's better, dear." She pinched his cheek. "You're so cute!"
"Then I take it you saw me nibbling on my new pack members?" he asked, opening it and taking a sip. She gaped and slowly shook her head. He nodded. "That reminds me, gotta find Aunt Artemis." He went to do that, interrupting her and Athena. "Hi, Aunties." Athena smiled at him. "I tried."
"I know you did, Xander. You tried very hard." She patted him on the shoulder. "You'll get to stay in the same grade."
"Cool. Will Buffy?"
"Barely. Both of you barely." He nodded at that. "Did you need a tutor?"
"No, I needed to know about the going feral things before I bite Strife for real next time. Or Tony." He looked at Artemis, who looked stunned. "When I got jumped, the sword showed up..."
"It was on your back," Athena told him. "Hidden in the tattoo. The Fates did it."
"Okay, that explains that. Why did I go feral when I grabbed it?"
"You could have been partially there anyway," Artemis offered, laying a hand on his forehead so she could read his memories. She nodded. "You were heading there. I can have some books to help you combat that sent down." He beamed and hugged her. "That's a good boy to ask," she said, talking down to him like he was an infant. "Now, go drink and be merry."
"With my family?"
She sighed. "We should have thought of that."
"Yeah, well, that and my full name," he said dryly. He pointed at his sign at the confused looks, just getting nods. "Who's with Tony?"
"That is one of the many cousins you'll be meeting soon," Athena told him, walking him over there. "Anthony, Don." They smiled. "This is Xander."
Xander waved. "Hi. I know Tony. Did I bruise you?"
"Very badly," he admitted but he was smiling. "We'll work on it, Xander." He pulled him closer. "Thanks, Aunt Athena. You might wanna go stop Grandma before the waiters all strip." She scowled and went to stop the Goddess of Love. He grinned at Xander. "What are you thinking up? Strife's still giving you horrified looks."
"I hate my full name."
"Ah, so going to get dispensation," Don said happily. "So, you do what?"
"I'm in high school," he admitted. "Other than that, I seem to spend a lot of time tripping over my feet recently."
"It happened to all of us," Tony assured him. He grinned. "What am I teaching you this summer?"
Xander shrugged. "I don't know. I figure you can teach me something and even if it's something I already know I can always learn it in a new way. Plus you promised to teach me how to dance."
"I did, didn't I." He grinned at Don. "You're going to the big city to stay with him for a few weeks too."
"I'll try very hard to stay out of your way," he promised, grinning at him.
"It's fine. I'm a cop, Tony's a cop, you can learn how we do things."
"Then who is he learning with?" Tony asked.
"I have no clue," Xander told him. "All I knew about was you and a few cousins I'd meet soon."
Don nodded. "Ares can be a bit like that. They've got to be here to meet you though. I saw your boss, Tony."
"I figured introducing him to Xander now would put him at ease." He looked the other direction, biting on his lip. "Ooh, there's Mac. Brought him?"
"Yeah, he's moping." He shrugged. "He's a buddy."
Xander shrugged. "I don't care if you two are getting it on like funky weasels. It's not my business." Don choked on his drink but nodded at that. He looked around. "Who's that?" he asked, pointing at the female.
Tony looked. "That's.... Crap who is that?" He frowned and pulled over the nearest God. "Who's that?"
"Apollo's date." He grinned. "She's a show girl."
"That explains it. Who else of the cousins is up?"
He looked around and pointed. "Jett's in the corner. He's a date, she's a date," he muttered. "There's 'Sephie with that girl from Texas." He shrugged. "There's one. Tibia."
"Who?" Tony asked, looking that way. "Oh, crap. No. No way in hell. The same as we shouldn't let you train with Jett either."
"Is he good in weapons?" Xander asked.
"He's an assassin, he should be," Don said grimly. He headed for Ares. "You're not sending him to Jett. Right?"
"It would do him good to learn how to sneak better," he said impatiently.
Don looked at him then burst out laughing. "I think he's got some of that. Me, Tony, and who?"
Ares frowned. "I'm sending him to you?"
"Okay, or Mac."
"Mac I'll admit to wanting to mentor him." He considered it. "I was going to send him to Tibia."
"Why? He needs to learn what VD and tequila is?" Don asked. Ares choked at that. "You know she is. She's the Typhoid Mary of that side of the family." Xander yelped and turned to slap someone hard, glaring at her. "Hmm, temper control. Good thing to learn," Don said, heading back that way. "Don't hit the girls, Xander, they hit back, especially her. Goddess Discord."
"I only pinched."
Xander glared. "No pinching. It's not yours. I don't plan on engaging in incest, thanks anyway."
She looked stunned then burst out laughing. "You'll do, Xander." She walked off much happier.
Xander sulked, glaring in her direction. He felt his wings twitched and concentrated on them.
"Behave," Tony said in his ear. "Also, let the wings out."
"They get in the way and bop people on the head or try to smother them."
"We're used to it from Cupid," Don promised. Xander checked behind them and let his wings out with a sigh of pleasure. "You sure you're not from 'Dite's side of the family?"
"Ares gave her Cupid," Tony reminded him.
"I was talking about the sigh of pleasure."
"They itch when they're hidden for too long." He felt a small hand touch one and looked back at the person back there. "Hi. You are?"
"Pan." He smiled at him. "They're nearly as soft as Cupid's."
"Thanks but I'm still a teenager, dude. Don't want to embarrass everyone." He snickered and walked off. He looked at them. "I am."
"Cupid used to get off when his wings were stroked too," Tony assured him, giving him a hug around the shoulders. The party started to wind down and they all winced. "That means Aphrodite's got something planned." He saw Strife start to pant in exertion and Discord too. "Oooh, no." The lights went down and a woman came up onto the stage to sing. "Oh, damn."
Xander looked at her. "It's a siren. Huh." He took a sip of his soda, then changed it back to soda from the liquor it had been. He had to do it a second time. The third time he used a reflection technique he had thought up and sent it back to the person doing it, drenching Discord and Hera since she was next to her. "Quit trying to spike my drink. Thank you," he called quietly, making sure they heard it. Hera swatted her daughter for it. Xander took a drink watching her. "Huh." He shrugged, nudging Tony and Don from the spell she was weaving. "You can kill them. It takes blessed sea salt."
Don looked at him. "When they said hunting I was expecting deer, things for the table."
Tony shook his head. "He lives on a mystical convergence point that leads to a portal to hell," he complained. "He's on their protection society."
"Well, you can definitely learn not to hunt this summer with us," Don told him. Xander grinned at that. "Think you can get Mac and Gibbs out?"
Xander looked over and then concentrated, goosing them both to make them jump and look around. Don waved. "Hi."
"Hi," Gibbs said, looking at the sign. "Have a thing about your name?"
"I've seen that before." He clapped him on the arm. "What is that thing? Since DiNozzo let slip that you handle those things."
"That's a siren." He looked around for Aphrodite, who was cooing at someone. He sent the thought to her. //Did we plan to enslave the whole pantheon, Auntie?// She looked up and swore, nudging Cupid. Then she nudged him harder. //Blessed sea salt in the face and throat, Auntie. That's how you kill those siren thingies.// He took another sip of his soda and found her staring at him in horror. He walked up there and kissed her, making her stop. "You mind? It's a party. You're not letting them have fun." She gaped and he grinned. "Hi." She swallowed and nuzzled him. "I know, I smell good." Ares growled and stomped up there, banishing her with Poseidon's help. "Hi, Grandpa." He hugged him then went back to his buddies, who were staring at him in horrified shock. "I draw bad girls who want to kill me," he admitted. "But Tony promised he'd teach me how to dance so maybe I can get a decent girlfriend. Before Buffy and Willow succeed in making me try being gay for a while."
Mac turned to cough and laugh in the other direction. "You're very blunt, Xander."
"I'm only delicate around women. I'm surrounded by them and I learned to fear PMS. Since they're still on different schedules I've only got one clear week a month." They laughed at that. "Not kidding!"
"You have to meet Buffy and Willow to understand," Tony told them. Gibbs gave him an odd look. "Really, boss, you do." The woman who was someone's date pulled out a grenade. "Xander, isn't that your area?"
Xander looked over and summoned it, then put the pin back in and stuck it in his pocket. "Yup. I'm sure it'll come in handy sometime soon on the hellmouth."
Mac and Gibbs both stared at him. "You're over what?" Gibbs asked.
"Weapons." Xander grinned. "I like weapons. Weapons pretty. Explosions prettier but weapons pretty."
Mac smiled at him. "We'll make you see normal people this summer, Xander," he promised.
"Okay. Can we maybe make me meet normal girls who won't want to kill me too?" They all nodded at that. "That'll be kinda nice."
Ares came over. "Grenade." Xander gave it to him. "Thank you, grandson." He patted him on the back of the head. "Your hair's messy."
"It's fashionable. Willow and Buffy said so."
He walked off shaking his head. "We need to find you more male friends."
"I have one of those. Strife's still a boy, right?" he asked him. He got a nod and a grin. "See, I have male friends, Grandfather. Don't worry about those. Worry about girlfriends."
Ares looked at him. "I'm starting to agree with Buffy, Grandson." He sent the grenade back to his temple. He muttered something and Discord cackled.
Strife looked over. "Yes, I'm still a male and a friend, Xander. Don't worry about guy friends. Definitely worry about the girls." He pointed behind him and Xander looked then waved and smiled at the siren, who was pouting. He kissed her again and she sighed in pleasure before letting herself be banished. Strife giggled.
"I'm going to agree with your female friends. You're dangerous to women," Gibbs told him.
Xander giggled and hugged him. "Thank you." He beamed at Tony. "Which one is Grandmother? She never did the promised pouncing with cookies."
"Terpsichore?" He looked then pointed. "The one in the blue gauzy thing with the other muses. 'Scuse us, guys." He walked him over there. "Don't draw the siren to DC, please?" he begged.
"Not unless I have to so I can get away."
"I'll accept that." He coughed. "Ladies. What's this I heard that none of you greeted the grandson one of you have?" They cooed and pulled Xander in to talk to him. "Watch out, the siren seems to like him." He walked back, getting a drink on the way. "He said he won't draw the siren to DC this summer unless he has to so he can get away," Tony told his boss, who grunted at that. "He could probably use more self-defense training. You can teach him to box, boss." Gibbs smacked him on the head. "Hey!" He grinned at Mac and Don. "You guys can find something to teach him."
"How is he in school?" Mac asked.
"Terrible. He's not a book guy. Not by any means."
"Then maybe some of the hands-on stuff would suit him," Mac said, smiling at Xander dancing with one of the muses. "Tony, he definitely needs help with rhythm." They watched as his grandmother took him in hand to slowly teach him what rhythm was. Half the older folk left and the party got a bit darker and funkier, including the waiters losing most of their clothes so they were in black loincloths.
"Aphrodite planned it, didn't she?" Don asked dryly.
"Yup, since last night," Tony told him. "I'm impressed."
Gibbs looked away from the kissing Gods on the other side of the room. "You don't sleep with the relatives, right?"
"I tried Cupid once but no."
"Good! Much better." He took another drink until a soft arm went around his neck. He looked back at the female person. "Yes?"
"Come dance with us, Studly." She walked him out there, making him dance with her. Xander spanked her and the spell ended. "Meany!"
"He's supposed to be a nice guy. Ask nicely if he wanted to dance and sleep with you. Otherwise it's not good." She pouted. He glared back. "It's not."
"Fine." She looked at Gibbs, pouting a bit. "Would you like to sleep with me tonight? Or me and the other two Graces?"
He smirked. "We'll see." She beamed and went back to dancing with him. The kid clearly had some morals. Even if they could be a bit loose now and then.
Xander wobbled in the next morning, smiling at Cordelia. "Hi. Family party. Just getting home. Danced all night." He wandered in to find his seat in home room. "Hi."
"Hi, Xander. Another party?"
"Family party. Everyone was there. I danced all night. I just got back. Hence the hipper than usual threads." He sat down and realized his wings were out. "Huh." He hid them and they folded up comfortably. "Sorry."
"That's all right. I'm sure it was a hallucination."
"One of my cousins is in illusions. Since it was a 'come meet the Xander' party he made me stand out really well."
She smiled at that. "Then that's fine. As long as they don't come back." He shook his head and got comfortable on his desk. She smiled when the first snore came out. "Poor boy. His family's overcompensating." Cordelia stomped in. "Did you see that wonderful illusion?"
She looked at her. "He has wings."
"They were a great illusion."
Cordelia sat down next to Xander, looking at his back. Nothing. When first period came she poked him until he woke up and followed him, letting Willow try to unhide them on him. She had told her and Buffy. They had both laughed. Willow looked at her and shrugged. She waved and she tried again. Xander gave them an odd look and they both smiled. He shook his head, turning back around. They went back to it. They created a lump on his back but no gray wings. Xander shifted a few times in his seat and the lump went away. At the end of class he handed Cordelia the feather that had fallen off thanks to Willow, teasing the back of her neck with it on the way out the door to make her jump. He grinned and handed it over before heading in another direction. She huffed and went to talk to Willow. "See, wings."
She looked at it. "It's a pretty feather."
"Xander had it. He teased me with it."
"Are you sure he wasn't flirting?" she asked. "That sounds like a Xander flirty thing."
"Fine." She used the feather to concentrate on. Then she got a splitting headache. "Ow." She held her head, handing the feather back. "I can't. I... Migraines bad." She went to the nurse while the others went to their next class. "Migraines bad," she said, tears in her eyes.
"I didn't know you had them." She laid her down on the couch in there after checking her over. A sleep mask and a period's rest should help the poor thing. She looked miserable.
to part 2: