Notes:  the Imaginings List gave me this very, very bad idea.   See, I tried, guys!  Off Dark GHS before he took a protector in Flack.  Even though they wanted the NYPD Lab crew to take him in.

A Hunters's GHS Dilemma

Xander had time to squeak before he was little.  That's about all he'd remember later on.  Of course, the jealous asshole who had cast the curse was now in deep shit with the demon bodyguard heading for him.  He pouted at the brothel's pimp Devi.  "This is *so* not fair!"

"I know, kid."  He stared down at him then at the very sorry prostitute.  "You're in so deep."

"He can go home now," he sneered.

Xander shook his head.  "My parents would go to jail now for child abuse.  There's actually social workers in Sunnydale again now that the Mayor's dead."

The pro moaned.  "Shit."

"Yes, you're in a deep pile of it," Devi agreed.  "Xander, sit down with the tape recorder in my office and record everything you remember about your past life in case you lose it.  Bulbous Nose, help him."  He walked the child down there, which made all the clients and pros stare in horror at the child.  He was linked into the security system and he saw it.  He glared at the pro, backing him into a corner so he could get into his face and beat the shit out of him himself.  He had just taken out his best money maker ever.  The guy needed to be beaten to death!


Sam and Dean Winchester looked up as their father walked into the motel room they were sharing.  It was the night he had rejoined them after popping out of the shadows.  Dean was antsy about things at the moment.  Sam was his usual sullen self about their father.  All that was about to change however.  Someone pounded on the door frantically so John opened it, one hand on his gun in his back waistline.  "Yes, Miss?  Did you need help?"

"Take him.  Protect him.  They want him and all the demons are fighting over him!"  She handed him a wiggling pile of blanket then ran off into the night.

"Let me down!" a tiny voice shouted.  "Fucking bitch!"

"Language!" John snapped automatically.  He put the child down, taking the blanket off him.  He was white, young, had dark hair, brown eyes, was wearing what looked like shrunken adult silk pajamas in a pattern that probably no child should have.

Sam looked at him.  "Hey," he said calmly.  "I'm Sam. This is my big brother Dean and our father, John.  What's your name?  Dad, close the door."  The boy stepped over the salt wards and looked at him.  "What's your name?" he asked, staying calm.  "She thought we could help you and we need to see how we can do that."

"Can you keep all the ancient and powerful demons from stealing my butt so they can raise me and keep me as a pampered purr kitten?" he asked dryly.

"We hunt demons, kid," Dean told him.  "Why are they after you?"

Xander shrugged a bit.  "The guy at the brothel where things went strange said I have a fera...phara...  Funky, smelly things that draw them.  That's why they were raided by the DPP and nearly all killed when an Ancient One wanted me as a pet."  He looked at John then at Sam again.  "I'm Xander."

"Hi, Xander."  He held out a hand.  The kid shook it.  "Did your mother or father work there?"

"No.  I'm not so sure I didn't work there.  Everyone seemed to know me and strange, weird things were going on the last two days.  Anytime I think back farther than that I get a blinding headache."  He grimaced.  "I don't know why.  Devi had tapes with my name on them but they were audio tapes and he said he was protecting me from things that wanted me in that bad way."

"Was Devi working in the brothel?" Dean asked.

"He worked in the office.  He did the books and the checks and stuff."

"So he probably ran the brothel," Dean decided.  "Where is the brothel he runs, Xander?"

"Um....  Big city, really tall buildings, on an island?"  He shrugged.  "I don't remember."  He rubbed his forehead.  "Then that one tried to get me away from the Ancient One before it took custody of me.  I'm nauseous and I have no idea what's going on or why you guys."

A glow started and John put the kid behind him, pulling his gun this time.  "How dare you try to touch a child," he sneered at the demon.

The demon smirked.  "I'm not the one after him, John Winchester.   I'm the DPP officer assigned to watch over him after he was cursed."

"Figured it had to be a curse," Sam agreed quietly.  "Deaged?"  The officer nodded.  "Why him?"

"Look up GHS, Samuel.  Right now, you three are his only salvation from a life of sexual slavery and worse."  They stared.  "Because of his pheromones, he attracts demons *and* humans."

"Maybe that's why you do it, Sammy," Dean said dryly.

"Dean," John growled.

"No, he's right.  It's why both boys draw demons, John."  He stared him down.  "As all hellmouth children like them would if that special GHS condition is activated in them.  They need to know about GHS anyway for their own protection."  He looked at Samuel again.  "Adam Pierson is the national head.  He's in Chicago.  He'll be watching for that one.  He'll have papers to protect him and his assets."

"He has assets?" Dean asked dryly.

"That is one Alexander Lavelle Harris, gentlemen.  White Knight to the Slayer Buffy and level ten GHS.  You'll understand about that soon enough.  Let's just say, he was on a road trip to find himself when his pheromones finally set themselves free.  Let's also say that his first night in the brothel earned him about seventy thousand dollars all told."  Dean and John both gaped at that.  "Including tips.  That was his share.  Devi was trying to protect him after one of the other pros cursed him.  They're incredibly sorry they got jealous that people used to go into bidding wars over him."

Xander looked around John's hip at him.  "Is that why I was there?"


"When do I get big again?"

"We have no idea if we can remove the curse.  We're asking.  We'll be in contact with Adam, young man.  Trust Adam and his Ray."  Xander nodded, looking grim.  "Also, this means they can get you some new clothes."

"Good, because these are kinda soft and shimmery; they make me feel funny."

"They should."  He tossed John something.  "That's part of one of his tips.  There's a place in the next town, in their underground.  You can cash them out there for expenses to get him to Adam, figure out how to handle things, and then to go on rescues.  By the way, watch out for the pout."  He disappeared.

"That's kinda a neat skill.  Can I do that?" he asked John.

"I don't know, Xander."  He sat down, putting his gun away.  "Sam...."

"Searching," he agreed, pulling his laptop over to hook into the phone lines so he could search the web.  He found the group's main site and groaned, letting his brother see.  Dean went pale.  John leaned over to look and blushed.  "That explains why we were talking about pheromones."

"Can I see?" Xander asked.

"Depends, can you read the big words?" Dean asked him.

Xander pouted and sulked at him.  "It's not my fault I can't read yet."  He pouted all the way to the dingy, lopsided couch and curled up in a corner of it.

Dean felt his stomach clench and sighed.  "We'll work on that while we travel, Xander.  Sammy can read really good after I taught him.  He went to college."

"Really?  Can I do that?"

"We'll see what happens," John told him.  Xander nodded, his pout easing some.  "Quit pouting.  There's no reason for it."

"I'm sorry she dropped me off here."

"No, if there's demons after you, we can protect you.  It's a good idea," Dean told him.

"Devi told me I had problems with people wanting me."

"We'll keep you away from that sort," Sam promised.  "Especially the demonic ones."

"Really?" he asked, looking pleased.  Sam nodded so he padded over to hug him.  He looked at the monitor.  "What's that word?" he asked, pointing at a short one.

"Um, that's a slightly bad word," Sam told him.  Xander pouted at him.  "Let me read it over and we'll explain it to everyone tomorrow after breakfast, okay?"  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Did she bring you other clothes?"  John looked at the blanket then shook his head.  "Dad, what's in the bag?"

He opened it and found the address he'd need to find the person who could change it for him and the order to bring Xander with him.  He grimaced at that.  "Some very pretty stones."  Xander climbed up to look inside so he poured them onto the table.


"Very pretty stones," Dean agreed.  A crack went off next to the door and before they could draw their guns a box was standing there.  "Let me."  He went to look it over.  Written across the top was 'these are Xander's from his room; his former life'.  "Looks like his stuff from before he got cursed."  He pulled out a pocket knife and carefully slit the tape, finding all sorts of lounging pajamas inside, some normal people clothes.  Some really expensive clothes.  Six wooden boxes.  A sword that was shrunken by the thing wrapped around the blade next to the blade guard, some sort of charm, and a few older looking pieces of clothes.  At the bottom was a wallet.  It had his old ID.  He tossed that at his father then put the rest back into the box.

Sam leaned over to look at the clothes.  "Date clothes.  Lounging pajamas.  Tight jeans and t-shirts."  He looked at the kid then at Dean.  "Anything like a letter?"

"On the inside of the top flap it says to find Adam and he'd have a good, detailed report of what we needed to know to protect him."  He closed the box back up and looked at the sleepy boy.  "Hey, kiddo.  Why don't we figure out jammies for you?"

"I'm wearing some," he pointed out.

"Yeah but until we can get you some real clothes tomorrow, let's wash those out?"

Xander shrugged. "I guess that's okay."  Dean got into the box to get him one of his older t- shirts, handing it to him.  "Shower?"

"Yup," John agreed, putting him onto his feet.  "Can you do it on your own?"  Xander nodded, heading in there to do that.  He took the laptop to read over the FAQ section of it.  Some of that did sound just like Sammy.  Not Dean, even though the strange demon had said he should be concerned.  Maybe he was the sort of keeper they mentioned?  Who knows with his boys.  He sure didn't.  He found the other areas of the site and the frequent problems page was very enlightening.  "These guys get kidnaped a lot."

Dean nodded.  "If he's drawing demons like that, then I'd expect it."

Sam nodded, leaning on his knees.  "That's probably why they tried to capture him already."  He looked toward the bathroom but Dean was staring that way already.  He went in to help the kid, who they could barely hear crying.  Dean shut the door to talk to him, calm him down, and help him work things over for the night.  Sam took his laptop back.  "I'm doing a search in the other window for this Pierson guy."  He went back to it.  If he was the national head, he'd have answers they needed.  Hopefully.


John walked the boy into the dingy store.  He had gotten Xander something to wear for the day.  He'd get the cash back out of whatever they got today.  He tried to grab the kid's shoulder before he bounced out of reach but he wasn't going to be able to do it this time.  He was more slippery than Sammy ever had been.

"Hi, aren't you a Gornax?"  The demon looked at him and nodded slowly.  "I'm a Xander.  Hi.  The DPP guy said to come see you."

"See me or see someone here?" he asked the adult, giving him an odd look.  He handed over the note.  "Why did you need to see the boss?"

"The DPP guy said so," Xander said, starting to pout again.  "We're not mean but the lady kinda gave me to John to protect me from the bad things that want me to be a purr kitty for them."

"Someone named Devi had him sent to us," John told him.

"I heard about that raid.  They said he had a kid there."

"I was cursed," Xander said matter-of-factly.  "I used to be bigger'n Dean."

"Probably about the same size, Xander," John corrected.  Xander pouted at him and he stared back.  "Don't start.  It's bad enough you pouted the waitress into sleeping with Dean when she wouldn't let him flirt."

The demon stood up, knocking over his chair.  "Oh, shit, that's him?" he demanded.  John gave him an odd look.  "That's Harris, right?"  John nodded.  "Let me get my boss.  This way, sir.  You too, Xander.  You're safe here.  We're not able to reproduce with humans."  Xander nodded, bouncing along beside him.  "Boss, customers!" he yelled before walking into the back area.  "DPP people sent these two to you."  He picked Xander up and put him into a chair.  "This is Xander.  Devi's Xander."

"I used to be big," Xander told him, shrugging a bit then he beamed.  "Hi."

"Hi."  He reached over to sniff him then nodded.  "You definitely are Devi's Xander," he decided.  "Why did the demonic police send you to me?"  John handed over the bag.  He looked inside and winced.  "That's a good reason."  He looked John over.  "Who're you?"

"John Winchester.  The half-demon last night handed him to us to protect."

"With the one after your family, that might not be the best idea," he said calmly.  "He'll want this one more than he will your younger son."

"You know about him?"

"Of him and of your vendetta.  I've heard rumors of Xander and of Xander's five weeks at Devi's.  I don't deal in information unless it'll save my life."

"I'm not going to bother you," John assured him.  He put Xander onto the floor.  "Don't touch anything, Xander."

Xander gave him a pitiful look.  "But I learn by touching things.  How else am I supposed to find out why things are neat?"

"We'll let you learn weapons later today," he said.  Xander smiled shyly and nodded at that.  He had watched Dean go over his weapons earlier.  He looked at the demon, who smirked.  "He did?"

"He did."  He poured out the bag to look at it.  "I can only do a third but I can give you a good price.  By the way, do something to help his hormones wear out soon; before you draw every demon in scent range."


"Pleasurable things."

"He's a child," John said firmly.

"Not all pleasures are sexual.  Take him to the park and let him wear himself out having fun."

John nodded.  "I can have Dean do that."  Xander beamed and bounced around cheering.  "Xander, please?  Bounce later?"  Xander came over to hug him and went to play with one of the pretty stones.  The guy looked at it then handed it to John.  "It's a keystone.  It opens portals."

He put that into his pocket.  "I'll make sure it's guarded better."  The demon nodded.  "Any idea where this would've come from?"

"Sarthna nest by the smell on it.  Probably a tip."  He decided which ones he wanted and went to get cash out of the safe.  He came back to find Xander sorting his pile for him.  "Did he shift any out?"

"The one ruby fell onto the floor."  He looked and picked it up, tossing it over.  That got a nod and the demon handed over the cash, then put the rest into the bag for him and handing it back.  Xander stared at him.  "You'll be fine, Xander.  He's not a mean guy, just a bit hard around the edges.  Think of him like a grandfather."  Xander beamed and nodded.  "Now, it's very important that you do things that will keep you from being bored and keep you from smelling too much.  Okay?"  Xander nodded more quickly.  "Good.  The happier you are the better off and the safer you are.  That wears out all the bad smells that attracts demons."

"I understand."

"Good boy."  He patted him on the head.  "Let John protect you when they come."  The boy nodded.  "Good.  That should get you to Chicago.  The National Head can deal with the rest.  GHS members get presents all the time so he's got ways of dumping them up there.  You can trust Pierson.  He's a good guy, even though he's a bit of a bastard now and then.  Xander was his favorite student in a long time."  John nodded, taking Xander's hand in his.  "Now, shoo.  He's making me want to mate with my spouse."

"Thank you."  He walked Xander out, taking him out to his truck.  Xander got put inside and buckled in then he walked around to drive.  He counted the money, groaning in pleasure.  He hadn't seen that much money in quite a while.  He stuffed it back into his pocket and headed back to the motel.  He found a cop waiting on them.  "Yes, Officer?" he asked as he got out.

"Sir, the manager reported that someone stopped by to give you a child?"

"One of my cousins is running away from home.  This is her child.  She wanted him safe so she snuck him off too.  I'm taking him to a better location for safety tomorrow."

The officer nodded at that.  "Your sons said a niece."

John looked inside the motel room.  "She didn't look like your niece," he called.  "She's your cousin."

"Whatever," Dean called.  His 'oof' a minute later made John smirk.  "Hi, Xander.  Did you find what you were looking for?"

"Yup and the Gornax said I have to be happy so I don't smell bad and that means I have to do happy making things.  John said we could go to the park.  Will you go to the park with me?" he babbled with a bright, happy grin.

"Sure, we can go to the park with you," Dean decided.  He stood up.  "Let me put on my boots."  Xander danced around, waking Sammy up from his nap.  "No, let Sammy sleep, Xander.  Sammy has a headache."  Xander stared at him.  "He'll be fine.  He took something for it."  He walked the boy out, looking at the officer.  "Not like I see them all that often, dude.  I haven't seen the in-laws in years.  We're going to the park."

"I was warned to let him wear himself out."

"Sure, we can do that."

"Can we slide and swing?  I haven't gotten to swing in a long time," Xander said, beaming at them.  He waved at the officer.  "Bye, Mr. Werekitty Officer."  He giggled as he climbed into Dean's car and buckled up so they could head off.  Dean waved at his father.

John looked at him.  "Really?"


"Don't.  Just don't.  We're protecting him because he draws demons."


"Basically.  Anything else we can do for you, Officer?"

"No.  I'm good.  By the way, I do lock myself up."

"Then I don't have to deal with you.  We'll be heading tomorrow."

"We'll keep an eye on him.  My dam said a lot about demon magnets."  He walked off, going to talk to the motel manager about what he had learned.  The guy was a demon, he should've sensed that.

John went inside to lay down, one arm over his eyes.  Then he decided to call Bobby.  "We're heading to Chicago but I'm sending you something very important.  How would you like to receive it?"  He listened.  "Who told you about Xander?"  He heard Sam groan.  "Go back to sleep, Sammy.  Dean's got him at the park."  He listened to one of his oldest friends tell him about the rumors going around.  "No, the kid's a demon magnet.  Severely drawing them.  The poor kid's already caused some asexual reproducers to go mate, Bobby.  Keystone."  He smiled.  "Sure, I can send it that way later."  He hung up and took a rest while he could.  Dean would feed the kid lunch and let him wear himself out.  He hoped.  If Xander had an off switch they hadn't found it yet.  Just riding in the car with him was tiring.


Adam Pierson saw a strange quartet walking down his street, but the young one with them was very dear to him.  He'd know that messy head anywhere.  He'd petted it many times.  "Xander?" he called quietly.  The boy had bat hearing when he wanted to.  Even though he was humming the boy stopped and stared back in his direction.  He smiled.  "Xander?"  He waved and the boy bounced over, letting him hug him.  "What happened to you?"

"I got cursed."

"I can see that."  He straightened out his t-shirt and stared at him.  "By who?"  He shrugged.  "Hmm."  He looked at the three large, overprotective looking men.  "Relax, gentlemen.  Why did you bring Xander to Chicago?"

"If you're Adam, you're supposed to know," Dean told him.

"Oh, dear.  I'd heard I was supposed to draw up papers and leave the name blank.  I was hoping it was one who was getting a real keeper that needed one."  He finished his coffee and put down the check's value while he fed Xander the rest of his muffin.  "Come along, gentlemen, we'll discuss this back at my flat for safety reasons."  He walked them off, smiling at the energetic young man.  "You have no need to be nervous.  I will not allow you to be hurt."

Xander stared at him. "They said demons want to make me a purr kitty."

"Yes, many have wanted you that way, and for other reasons," he agreed.  "We'll tell them why, Xander.  Do not fear.  You can even torment Ray into taking you to the masseuse with him."  Xander beamed at that.  "You've been?"

"He had a cramp and moaned the whole time Sammy worked it out of his calf," Dean told him.  "So this..."  Adam glared at him.  "Whoa, trying to learn how to protect him."

"Discussing this in the open is more likely to lead to all of you being taken."  He got them into his apartment building and up to their nice penthouse.  He locked the doors before settling in on the couch.  "Xander, there's chocolate in the refrigerator."

"Don't you dare," John ordered.  "You'll never slow down the bouncing."

"While it does make him hyper, it helps wear out the other problem," Adam said firmly, staring him down.

Xander patted his hand.  "The DPP guy said that Sammy and Deanny need the same talk," he said quietly, staring at him.  "Can I really have chocolate?"

"A small piece to start."  Xander beamed and went to find one with Dean's help.  John was still scowling.  He sighed.  "What have you found out about GHS, gentlemen?"

"Not much.  Only what's on the site," Sam said, sitting across from him. "I figured he was when he was...older."

"The first natural level ten in generations," Adam agreed.  "One of the strongest we've ever recorded."  John moaned, sitting down.  "One of the times Devi sent him shopping the guard with him had to steal him back sixty-eight times in one day."

John stared, mouth slightly open.  "How do we stop that from happening again?" Dean asked when he and Xander came back.

"First, you help him wear his pheromones and hormones out.  However you can do it at his age.  We don't usually manifest until after puberty but Xander does like to bend the rules of the universe quite a lot.  He's actually fairly well known for it and for warping prophecies."  John stiffened, staring at him.  "Couldn't find out much about his life?"

"No.  We were only given him two days ago."

"Ah."  He nodded, going into his office to bring back something.  He had done Xander's intake file himself.  Including the background and the detailed medical history.  He handed it to Sam.  "We'll need to test all three of you as well.  If the DPP says one of you is, they'd know."

"How hard is the test?" Dean asked.

"Bloodwork.  I won't put you through the traditional test."  Sam gave him an odd look. "Unless you have a weekend to spare?"

"No," he admitted.  He went back to reading, handing each page to his brother, who handed it to his father.  At the end he looked at the napping boy then at their host.  "So how do we deal with this?"

"He must be kept worn out of these particular problems. There's drugs that can help if he's backed up but they're very dangerous and can kill him if used too often or in too high of a dosage."

Sam nodded.  "Okay.  I understand how he'd do it when he was older."

"Any pleasure can wear out a slight amount.  Any boredom makes it grow.  His problem is that he's years away from the best sources of pleasure to wear those out."

"There's no half dose we can give him once a week?" John asked.

"Once a month in adults is considered risky."

John slumped at that.  "Its going to be nearly impossible to keep him safe."

"Yes, well.  Someone has to until we can get the stupid curse broken.  Do look on the bright side however," he said smugly.  "As demon hunters, you'll be seeing many who are dangerous and could use slain."

"Gee, thanks," Dean said dryly.  "How many on average do you think?"

Adam pulled up something on his laptop he had brought out with the folder.  "This is his main bank account.  He's got a few special purpose ones that are hiding some tips he doesn't like to deal with.  He was there for just over four weeks, four weeks and two days if I remember right."  He let Dean see the balance, watching his eyes bug.  "That's not his investments, that's not his shopping account, that's not his tips that he doesn't want to deal with or any of the gemstones he's received.  That's his paycheck that he was going to use to set up himself up once he left in another week and a half."

"How?" Dean wheezed, sounding weak.

"His hormones do draw them.  He's created many bidding wars over his tenure.  He was due to be there for six weeks."  John leaned over to look and choked.

Sam didn't look.  "So he was a special entertainer.  That's fine with us.  We were told he was there to find himself."

"Basically to answer questions about his sexuality, yes.  It was Devi who realized he was GHS and had me summoned so I could sort him.  His former reputation and now his hormones make him very wanted.  As demons want to take you three out for your reputation and take Samuel and Dean for their hormones."

"No way," Dean said, shaking his head.  "I can't be.  The site said things about confusion.  I'm pretty clear headed."

"You probably wear it out enough," Adam told him.  "I do and don't suffer those consequences.  He will."  He went to get a small test kit.  He put one testing pad in front of each of them.  "Three or four drops of blood please.  We can make certain."  They sighed and pulled out knives to do that.  Adam dropped in the test solutions, watching where they showed up.  "Samuel, you're backed up."  He looked at him.  "Have you been feeling confused?"  He nodded a little bit.  John moaned.  "Both boys test about a level five.  It looks like Samuel's a bit stronger than Dean is."

"If Sammy was, say, psychic or something, would that matter?" Dean asked.

"Beyond giving him another reason to be snatched?  Yes.  Being backed up can mean that you get more visions but they tend to be less focused and more surreal from what we've heard anecdotally.  More vivid colors, swirling clouds, strange body shapes."  He looked at Sam, who groaned and leaned forward to cover his face.  "There's many ways of wearing that out, Samuel.  Any pleasure, even the smallest, can help.  The best is still the most natural one but we have one level nine that completely discharges only when he's seeing his next child being born.  He has three wives and they've all had four children since he was found and diagnosed.  They do wish him to find another wife or another way but that is the only way he can fully delete his down to base human levels."

"You're going to have to start picking up chicks, Sammy," Dean ordered.

"I tried."

"I know.  Try harder.  Let Xander pout one into bed for you."  They shared a look behind their father's back.  "Want ice cream for supper?"

"Sure, I could stand that," he decided, looking at Adam.  "There's a lot we have to know, huh?"

"Quite."  He went to get the new member information packet and handed them each one. "Xander's is in your hands, John.  Level nines and tens often have more problems."  Someone used a key to get in.  "Ray.  These are Samuel, Dean, and their father John.  They've recently been given custody of Xander."

"Why?  He get hurt or banged up too hard?" he demanded, staring at them.  Then he noticed the boy.  "How in the fuck?" he demanded.

"A curse," John told him.  "We were told it was done by someone at the brothel."

"Then they're quite sorry.  He made Devi an enormous amount of money.  Devi probably had to be pulled off his mangled corpse."  He looked at his boyfriend. "Yes, curses do exist, even if you've never noticed them during your patrol.  Xander dealt with things like that.  I've got a call out to some sources to see if we can break it.  I did tell them not to alert his old friends since they decided they didn't want him to go home," he told Dean.  Dean nodded once at that, getting the message clearly.  "Do not seek them out for help.  Even Rosenburg.  Her girlfriend might be safe, I'm not sure."  He looked at the boy then at his boyfriend.  "We need to work on paperwork for him.  They hunt the sort of beings that would want to take him."

"That's good ta know.  Then you guys could probably figure out why I had a blue guy with spots earlier?"  They all nodded.  "He gonna be trouble in lockup for beating an old lady?"  They all nodded again.  "Oh, well, meant I put him in with the Bloods for a good reason."  He sat down next to Xander, stroking over his head.  The boy blinked at him.  "Hi, Xander.  I'm Ray.  Adam told me all about you."

Xander grinned.  "Ray?"  He nodded.  "Bathroom?"  He stood up and helped him that way.  "Thank you.  I can do this part."

"Of course you can."  He went back to the living room.  "So, now what?"

"Now, they get a fairly decent room with some privacy for the boy and Samuel both," Adam told him.  "By the way, Ray is not only my boyfriend but a level seven, gentlemen.  Dean and Sam both tested at level fives and Xander's still clearly a level ten."

Ray grimaced. "That's gonna suck getting him worn out."

"Yup," Dean agreed.  "But he can do happy kid things to help with that.  Even if he might not like being in the car a lot."

"We'll figure it out.  We had to figure out how to deal with these two on the road," John assured him.  "Is there a good motel for a few days?"

Ray snorted.  "Yeah, right."  He looked over at the bathroom.  "Xander, need help?" he called.

"No, looking at the tub."  He came out of the bathroom.  "What's with all the funny spots in it?"

"Those are jets to make your muscles feel better when they're tired," Adam told him.  "It feels very nice and creates excellent bubbles."

"Outside our means," John said quietly.

Adam snorted, pointing at the boy.  "There's many who would gladly pay their whole family's fortune to own him."  Xander yelped as something bit him on the ankle, glaring at it before picking it up to stare at.  "What is that?"

"Jeweled hissy thing."  He handed it over with a snort.  Then he looked up.  "I don't like hissy things!  Dean said I can't have a pet because I'm in the car all the time!"  The mechanical snake disappeared and a bowl of chocolate mousse appeared in front of them.  Dean stopped him.  "Hey!" he whined.

"Xander, it could be sent by someone who could hurt you.  You always let us test it first," John ordered.  The boy pouted but let him taste a bit before handing it over.  Xander happily ate it, sharing with Ray and Dean now and then.  It was his treat.  John looked at Adam, who gave him a smug look.  "What do they want in return?"

"This is their version of pre-courting.  Getting his attention so they can make their play more obvious.  In the past I've been showered with gems and gold, dressed outlandishly, taken on realmal vacations at their places of residence to show how good I'd fit in.  Oh, if you hear about a harem, it means the family you gather around you to help you.  Those who support you, protect you, help you when you're backlogged, all that.  I can also tell you any that come after him will not be the plebeian demons and vampires of the lower classes.  Ones such as Xander draw royalty and Old Ones.  Members of the Demonic Council.  They probably won't try too many petty power plays.  At this age, he's valuable but not as valuable as he'll be when he's sixteen and free of the family's control by their laws."

John nodded once.  "What about when he starts to wonder about that stuff?"

"Hold it off for as long as possible because his body will start to rely on that release.  By himself is one thing.  With another is something else.  I can tell you that Xander was very macho but he took well to being a bottom.  It seemed to resonate with him.  It made more sense with how his hormones were running backlogged constantly.  Xander, use some manners," he ordered.  The boy quick licking the mousse out of the details carved in the spoon.  "Level sixes and sevens can work," he said quietly.  "Level eights can sometimes work from home but need a lot of guidance.  Usually level sevens and up are housebound or nearly so to protect them and keep them on a schedule they can wear themselves out on.  Level nines often need more than one full time lover or spouse.  Level tens often need that and backup in case they wear someone out or they kill one.  Xander had one client who had a heart attack," he said very quietly.  "He was frustrated and bouncy."

John nodded slowly at that.  "In our life, that's not the easiest thing to do."

"He had a girlfriend and the constant threat in his former life was wearing it out enough for him that it hardly ever erupted or it was masked by the Hellmouth.  Whatever is held down will need to come out sometime however."

Dean nodded.  "I can understand that.  Like adrenaline rushes.  Only in reverse."  Adam nodded.   "We can handle that.  Think the higher class places have Magic Fingers systems?"

Adam smirked.  "There is one in the city that would meet that desire, have things for Samuel to cure himself with and a tub for Xander to play in for hours on end.  Before you ask, I can make his funds available for you to upkeep him.  He will be miserable otherwise and you'll probably need it."  The bowl disappeared and Xander smiled up and said a quiet 'thank you'.  "Very good manners."  He smiled at John.  "They were going to find him a protector until he found a decent enough keeper for himself.   He may be able to handle the life you live as long as he's wearing it out."

"That's going to be the challenge," John agreed.  Adam nodded.  "You're sure he won't mind?"

"Devi never gave him his last paycheck."  He held up the envelope.  "Ray put the letter on my desk and I hadn't seen it yet."

"Let me call the Riotville thing."  Sam gave him an odd look.  "Last year they had a comic convention that turned into a riot when a popular actor didn't get to show up in time.  SWAT was not amused."  He went to call them.  They were used to GHS.  The fact that GHS traveled with their family, their pets, all that.   He told them two GHS, their father to guard them, and their son.  They found them a good suite with a great view and promised to have the in-bed massage function on at least one bed.  He hung up so he could join them.  "It's got a good suite.  They have massage beds, Dean.  Samuel, they've got a good masseuse on staff who's used to dealing with us.  She's gotten me out of backlog many times. Adam too.  The tub's huge so he can play with bubbles for hours." They all smiled and nodded.  "I told them you were there to guard your boys," he told John.

"That's fine."

"What happens if a demon attacks us there?" Dean asked.

"Three very ancient vampires own that hotel but they're all in Switzerland," Adam said dryly.  "One of them was formerly GHS when he was alive during the Victorian times."  They all moaned.  "That's why it caters to us and if something happens they have security, a sorcerer on staff, and do cater to the GHS side of things.  Including call out services if you should need them."  He clapped his hands.  "It'll take me most of the night to draw up the appropriate paperwork."  He went into his office and came out with something.  "This is Xander's spare card.  In case he lost his other one.  He had one jealous coworker try to steal his paycheck once.  The pin is on the back."  Dean looked then nodded.  "Get him clothes and whatever he needs.   It will be for his benefit."  They nodded and left with the packets and the boy.  "I'll see you tomorrow afternoon, Xander."  The boy beamed and waved at them.  He leaned back with a sigh once the door was closed.  "That's the most difficult problem I've seen recently."

"Even worse than Mac?" Ray teased.

"Quite, he's only insane.  Xander will drive others to that point."  They shared a kiss as Ray settled into his lap to cuddle him into a better mood.  Xander would be young and pretty for a very long time.


Sam looked over all the paperwork for his father.  Then he looked at Adam.  "How in the hell, dude?"

Adam smiled.  "Xander is a very unique young man, Sam."  He had been told use Sam instead of Samuel because he felt like he was in school.  "He was well liked by many of the higher end clients and since he was there to find himself he got a few...unusual ones."

"Sarthna are what sort?" John asked.

"Digging demons.  Tunnelers.  Collectors as well.  There is one who seemed to favor Xander when Devi handed him over. The other boys were unhappy that the clients were going for the new thing instead of them.  Those wooden boxes in his box of belongings are the rest of his tips and his kidnaping apology present."

John shook his head.  "I thought the one this morning was bad."

Adam nodded.  "About average really.  Most of them know he can't be touched until he's over legal age to the demons.  Feel free to take out the few immoral ones."

John nodded.  "Gladly.  I can't stand it in humans and I won't in demons."  He looked at the one Sam handed him, going pale.  "He has how much overall?"

"That's without the boxes," Adam offered. "Or any gifts they might decide to send down.  Duck."  He pulled a pillow over his head.  Sam did the same.  It was nice that someone was feeding their chocolate habit with nice, tiny wrapped, expensive chocolates.  He tasted one and moaned.  "Oooh, Godiva.  Thank you, I needed that," he called.  "Still taken."  He put the pillow down and winced as something hit his head.  He took off the tiara.  "Nor am I royal."  It disappeared and so did half the chocolates.  He shrugged and ate another one, tossing one to Sam to eat.  The tiara ended up on his head.  "Protest if you want to."

"I'm grieving over my lost girlfriend, who a demon killed.  I'm not taking suitors."  It stayed.  He groaned and took it off.  It levitated back.  "Why don't you hit on Dean?" he begged.  "He's single and looking!"  It disappeared.  He grinned.

"Dean's going to thump you," John said.

"Maybe.  Oh well.  Xander will save me."  He grinned.  Adam burst out laughing.  "He will.  He'll use it to sneak attack Dean again.  Like last time."  John moaned, rubbing his forehead.  "Shrieking and giggling," he said at the odd look.

"That can do it to the strongest parent," Adam assured them.  "All that should be in order.  Now, about the curse.  I had the on-site sorcerer look at it.  It was a curse.  The pro who did it did it on purpose and with full intent due to jealousy.  It can be removed but only at certain times of the year and only under certain conditions.  One of them being that he has to be fully worn out.  The out clause was for Xander to become a normal man."  They stared.  "Yes, fully worn out means what you think.  Down to the normal levels John would show.  It can be done at any equinox.  It can be done by nearly any witch, sorcerer, or warlock if you want to do that."  He handed over a small journal.  "That's the ritual, the spell itself, and the timing charts."

Sam tucked it into his bag.  "We'll do our best."

"I do miss the annoying little imp.  He had some of the worst luck," Adam sighed, shaking his head.  He'd be there long after Xander had fully aged again and more than that he hoped but he did miss his smart mouth and wit.

"He'll be that Xander again sometime soon," Sam reminded him.  "Then you can nag him about being so little."  Adam smirked meanly at that.  "Any other special precautions we should know about?"

"Not that I've heard.  I have put around to contact me or Ray if anyone wanted to get serious about him.  That you three were guarding him and I was his protector.  They weren't happy but oh well."  He smirked.  "They did get the point."  Of his sword, in one case in the gut.  It had been a very good time that night.

"Dad, can you give me a few minutes for some nosy questions?"  John left.  Sam stared at him.  "I'm not trying to be rude or nosy or anything."  Adam gave him a dirty look so he grinned.  "But I ran across this fascinating site by someone named A. Q. Thomalson."  Adam groaned.  "That mentioned how some of us got strange feelings off others.  Is that a GHS thing he got wrong or not?  Because I only read two of the languages we've heard you muttering in and the only way you could know how to speak them was if you were there."

Adam stared at him.  "Why do you want to know, Samuel?"

He leaned on his knees, staring at him.  "Because I get this strange feeling whenever you get about a hundred yards away from me," he admitted.

Adam sighed.  There went his plan to lie.  This one would surely come over and he was guarding what was precious to him.  "He was correct."

"I know I'm not."

"Yet," he corrected.

Sam nodded once.  "Then that explains that problem.  Okay."  He stood up with a grin.  "When and if, can I come to you to get a recommendation for someone to help me get where I need to be so I survive as long as you have?  Someone's got to watch out for the family."

"I can do that," he agreed, smiling gently.  He wouldn't ruin the surprise of there being another in that family or that he was sure Xander was a pre-immortal as well.  "Protect him well."

"I will."  He shook his hand.  "Thanks, Adam."

"Not a problem, young man.  Just protect him as best you can."

"Protecting him protects us too," Sam assured him.  He left, going to pick on Dean about getting a tiara.  Of course, they found Dean had given it to Xander to dance around in to MTV.  He was doing what the dancers in the rap video were.

John glared and turned off the tv.  "That is not how men dance, Xander, and that was disgusting for someone your age."

Xander pouted.  "It's good exercise."

"Maybe, but still not appropriate for your age."  He went to find one of the tapes they had gotten, sliding it into the player for him.  "There, do that one instead."  Xander pouted but followed along with the tape, getting into it.

"Cute crown, Princess Dean," Sam teased.

"Yeah, well, he thinks I'm a royal pain and I am."  He smirked back.  "Thinks Xander's a princess too."

"Hey!  I'm not a princess!  I won't be one of those until I get my own keeper!"  He pouted and went back to his dancing/exercise period.

"That's not for many years," John assured him.  He looked at Dean, pointing at the crown.  "It looks better on him than it does on you."

"No, his looks very pretty and goes very well with his eyes," Xander said proudly.  "It's got green stones too."  He pointed at the box it was in.  "It was floaty and possessed so Dean put it in time out."

Sam let it out of the box, watching as it floated over to settle back in Dean's hair, no matter how much he swatted at it.  Sam even got a picture before Dean managed to finally get it off him and under the newspaper.  Xander was giggling and twirling around.  "Xander, need some play time?"

"Please!" he begged, giving him a puppy eyed look.  "Can we go see the fishes in the lobby too?  And maybe have burgers for dinner?  I like their burgers and their fries.  Please, Sam?"

"Sure."  He took him down there to do that.  Xander liked to stare at the fish.  It kept him out of trouble so they'd indulge him a bit.

John looked at his oldest son.  "Get rid of the tiara, Dean.  I don't want to have nightmares about you being married off like in the Princess Bride."

"Funny, Dad.  Really," Dean said dryly, glaring at him.  "I'm not that sort of royal pain."  He stood up and tossed him the tiara.  "See, it likes you more.  It's loving on you."  He went to the oversized bathroom to sulk for a bit.  Sam would get pictures of it on his father when he couldn't shake it either.


John walked into his friend's church three days later.  He was local.  He needed help.  He badly needed help.  He walked up to where Father Jim was praying and knelt beside him, mumbling his own for patience.  He got a sideways look from the priest.  "There has got to be an exorcism for hormones," he said quietly, glancing around.

"Not that I've heard of.  Which boy needs them?  The ever ready to please Dean or the grieving Sam ready to move on?"

"Neither."  He looked at him.  "I need complete silence."  Jim just nodded and took him to a room in the back of the basement where no one ever went.  It held the hunter's supplies and John sat down on top of a box, telling him everything quietly.  At the end, Jim was trying hard not to laugh.  "I don't see how I can't ruin him, Jim.  It was bad enough with Sammy and Dean.  I know I did wrong by them.  I realized that.  It took Sammy leaving for me to see it.  This new one is softer and he's more gentle in a lot of ways.  Though he's a violent little thing that wanted to stake a demon the other day."

"This is an odd situation but it does mean that they think you can protect the boy."

"Without turning him gun happy and stranger than he already was?"

"Perhaps.  Then again, perhaps he already knew the life.  Wasn't he hunting demons before?"

"Then he went on a road trip, decided to do the finding himself thing.  His friends don't want him back."

"I've heard a bit about his former town and friends."  He smirked.  "The boy's not helpless.  He's clouded by what you've been told.  You need to find a way to wear that out of him."

"He's too young."

"Well, yes, but there's other ways, right?"  He heard a footstep and looked out the ill-fitting edge of the doorway.  "Company."  He got up and grabbed something, opening the door to find Dean there.  "Coming to talk too?"

"Yup."  He sat down and tossed his father something.  "Sammy and Xander came back with that after their last trip that lasted about two hours."

John looked at the small, carved statue.  "What is it?"

"An inanimate pet.  It'll change when Xander says the code phrase.  So he can have a pet that can travel with us."

"The demon who gave it to him?"

"We have no idea how to kill it.  He told Sam he's not going to hurt him; he was keeping him away from another one that was going to try to kill him.  He told Sammy that  he was in love with Xander, showed him why and how, let him see some of the recordings he had done of his life.  Xander needed physical training back then according to Sammy."  John groaned.  "Then he gave Sammy a nice little bracelet that can help wear out some of the hormones by sucking it off.  It'll need to be emptied once a month but it'll bring him down to our level.  Which means we can do the spell easier."

John smirked.  "Who is this demon?"

"His name's Vesvold and he's on the Demonic High Council.  All Sammy's found so far is that they're nearly mythical they're so rare, and there may be very few ways of killing it.   He's one of the types that is, but isn't necessarily evil.  Even though he's a politician."

"Is the bracelet working?" Jim asked.

"Xander went down for a voluntary nap," Dean said with a proud grin.  "Him and his second little monkey/dog thing.  They're a matched set."

"He turned it on?"

"Yup.  Vesvold said it'd protect him while he slept and play with him when he wanted it to.  He also said it's toilet and plant trained."

"Even better."  John shifted on his box.  "Do we believe this demon?"

"We do.  Sammy said he believed him.  He didn't make a threatening move.  He told Sammy how to tell which present came from which demon.  He's got three major pre- wannabe owners and two who're kinda hedging their bets.  Two are definitely going to be bad for him.  He knows them socially and he'll be castrated upon marriage to them."  John and Jim both shuddered.  "Sam passed back a polite version of fuck off for the kid."

"Good," Jim decided.  "Can you help him wear out the rest?"

"We hope so."  He activated the dog/monkey statue, watching as it looked around, sniffed them all, then disappeared to guard its master.  "See?"  He looked at his father.  "Though, we do have to do another drop.  Sammy came back with shit out the ass to be courted."

"Why?" John moaned.

"Because one of them wants him badly, they even promised to guard him from the demon who took out Mom."  John stared at him.  "No idea if she'd give us information but Sammy didn't say more than that.  He looked a bit hysterical as well."

"John, don't rush into that situation.  She's still a demon," Jim warned.

"I'm not going to sell him off for it," John said with a glare at his buddy.

"I know you won't.  Still, let Sammy calm down about that first."  That got a nod.  "Can I meet the tyke?  He sounds nice."

"We're at the Palace," Dean told him.  Jim gaped.  "The guy who did the custody of Xander's stuff with us, the national head, said we can use his funds and insisted we stay there since they're used to GHS members."  He smirked.  "They even have yearly conventions somewhere."

"I doubt you can bring a child to them," John complained.  He didn't want to think about what happened at these conventions.

"We can so, we have to leave him in the room but we can bring him," Dean told him.  "Adam insisted so he could check on him."

John looked down, shaking his head.  "Are you sure there's not an exorcism for these hormones?" he asked his friend.

"I'll look to see."

"Xander's a medium," Dean told him.  Both older men groaned.  "Of the sticking to him variety.  Sam's background found one fully and one due to a spell."

"We can try to remove it more fully," John said firmly.

"Sammy tried.  Didn't work."  He smirked a bit.  "Xander growled at him for it."

"Was it a primal?" Jim asked.

Dean nodded.  "Hyena.  Vesvold's been tracking the boy since he was about this age the first time according to Sam."  He gave his father a smug look.  "The other gave him soldier's memories."

"Did he use them?"

"To lead a battle at graduation."

"Wonderful," John said.  "So if we can get him back down to a nearly normal level, he can be a normal boy?"

Jim nodded.  "But a caution because it may not stop them if they already know about him and it won't stop surges.  Everyone gets them."

"Yeah, about that, how did Xander pouting end up with Sammy negotiating to not get partial interest in the hotel?" Dean asked.  John just gave him a horrified look.  "They were.  Sammy was trying to get out of it when I left."

"Come over tonight, Jim?" John begged.

"Of course."  He smiled as father and son went back to save their younger two members.  Then he burst out laughing once they were safely out of hearing.  Only a Winchester got into that sort of trouble.  He went to call a few friends to tell them John had gotten custody of a younger son.  He wondered which car the kid rode in.


They walked into their hotel room, finding Sam on the floor underneath a pile of multiple colored fabrics and some loose threads.  "Sammy?" Dean asked.

"I don't care *who* he thinks he is.  God or not, I'm going to beat his ass if he tries to touch me again," he muttered.  "Can't breathe."

John pushed at the fabric with a foot.  Dean got down to uncover him.  They found Sam in the most fetching harem outfit, though it was pornographically thin.  "Did you have fun?"

"Don't make me kill you," Sam said with a sneer.  John backed off at that.  He looked at his brother.  "This one thinks he's a fallen one."

"Charming.  You good?"

"No."  He stood up with help, looking at himself.  "I want my own clothes back," he snarled.  They appeared, clean, folded, mended, on the sideboard in the living room.  "Thank you.  No more anything.  I'm not interested."  He stomped into the bathroom to change.

John watched his youngest son.  "Son, do you need a medic?" he called.

"He only played mind games so I'd agree," he called back.  "If he had come that close he'd be dead."  A flash of light went off in there and Sam stomped out about three minutes later, putting the head in front of his father.  "He decided I was the prettier son, bitchy attitude and all.  I'm going to the bar."  He went to change out of non-bloody clothes then headed down to get a drink.

Dean looked at the head, then nodded slowly.  "What type are they?"

"No idea," John admitted, staring at it.  "We've got to figure out how to protect you boys."

"Ya think?" Dean asked dryly.  His father glared.  "Dad, Sammy's now been taken at least three times that we know of.  Xander's twice as bad as either of us."

"I get that, Dean.  I have no idea how to protect you unless I move you three to holy ground."

Vesvold appeared, handing over something.  "The third of that set.  One for each of the boys to protect them at least a bit."  He looked at the head then sighed.  "Looks like his position will be coming open on the Council.  Pity.  He was finally starting to do things in a decent manner for the clans he represents."  He looked at John again.  "You might try an anti- teleporting charm but half of them would use portals."

"Who're you?" John demanded.


"You don't want the boy like the others?"

"Not until he's ready to come to me of his own free will," he promised with a smile.  "I admire Xander greatly and want the full ride with him. You're lucky my protection takes out the rest of the hierarchies for the most part.  Many still want him because he's a powerful young man.  Guard him well, Winchester.  He is more special than even you can know."  He looked at Dean.  "That one is for your protection.  The other is watching your brother.  If you're threatened they will activate on their own."

"So carry them with us?"

"Or have them near you as part of your wards.  Though I do think Xander's should be on as often as possible so there's no lag in the protection."

"Will it tell us?"

"It will fight for him but it is still an animal.  I didn't want to give him something poisonous."

"No, that's a good idea," John agreed.  "Any other handy charms that might help?"

"He does have latent magic.  Mostly of the plant growing varieties.  Portals he's becoming more attuned to as well.  The more he's used to them the easier it will be for him to work with them."

"Should we start the beginning Wicca exercises?" Dean asked.

Vesvold shrugged.  "Whichever takes his fancy at this point.  He wasn't doing anything but trying not to let it out before.  His best friend is a witch and made fun of him for wanting to shield after a few good accidents."  He smirked.  "She and her slayer are due to meet a very messy end because many of his former clients love Xander.  They were most peeved when they heard about them not wanting him back."  He looked at John.  "I can tell you his father once gave him to Strife if he could only win that hand of poker.  I can tell you other chaos gods love him as well."

"They all love kids because of the things they get into," John said dryly.

Vesvold sighed but nodded.  "As did my three."  He shook his head.  "He'll be fine.  I wouldn't encourage chaos magic but you never know with Xander."  He shrugged.  "I gave Samuel the draining spell for the bracelet.  Any nice, open area should do as long as it can connect with the earth.  If you use the same spot too many times it may become a popular make out spot but any rains will wash it out eventually."

"Good to know.  Any other precautions?"

"He'll still be bouncy on chocolate even when he's down."  He did something over the boy's bracelet and the boy sighed in pleasure, cuddling his pet better.  "There, it's drained for the month.  That took care of his backlog."  He smirked at Dean.  "You and your brother are both being lusted after.  Make careful choices, young man."

"I can't go to anyone until Xander's safe."

"That's a very wise choice but there are those who are pushy.  A few wouldn't mind taking the whole family to protect.  You two would be favored pets now while John raised Xander until he was of age."  He disappeared with that warning.  He wanted to go beat a monsoon demon for trying that move.

Dean looked at John.  "Were you thinking we were bored with the normal stuff?"

"Sammy said something about it always being the same," John muttered, shaking his head.  Dean laughed.  Xander yawned and woke up.  "Hey, kiddo. You want to keep napping?"

Xander blinked at him.  "See fishes?"

"Sure.  Get up and get dressed."  Xander went to get dressed.  They found him looking at the outfits that had joined his.  "Only normal boy clothes.  We can drop those off somewhere."  Xander nodded and pulled on normal boy clothes, then took his friend with him down to watch the fish.  The manager gave John an odd look.  "It was a present."

"He's already manifested?"

John nodded.  "Long story but yeah."

"Poor boy."  He got Xander a peppermint from the desk then looked at him.  "Mr. Pierson said you four were leaving tomorrow probably?"

"We are.  Check out is eleven or ten?"

"Eleven, sir."

"That's fine.  He'll be up by then."  That got a knowing look.  "We have a friend coming in tonight."

"Did you need a room service menu?"

"No, thank you anyway," Xander said with a grin.  "John, can we have steaks?  I want something I can chew on."

"There's a good buffet up the street, you can have one there."  Xander did his happy dance, making everyone watching smile.  "Spoiled," he teased.

Xander pouted slightly.  "I'm trying not to be."

"I know.  You're doing good so far, Xander."  The boy beamed and cuddled his pet, pointing out the fish he had named.  The dog/monkey stared then chattered at him.  Xander looked around then pointed.  "That's Pastor Jim.  He's a friend of the family, kiddo.  Jim, this is Xander."

He smiled, leaning down to shake his hand.  "Good afternoon, Xander."

"Hi," he said shyly, hiding behind his friend's back.  "Are you a nice guy?"

"I'm a very nice guy.  You don't have to be scared of me."

"Want to pet my monkey?"

"He looks like a good friend," he said, petting the creature on the head.  It chirped a few times at him then went back to staring at the fish.  Xander smiled and went back to telling his friend about them.  He smirked at Jim.  "Everyone still okay?"

"Sammy's in the bar.  Let me get him.  Xander, do not move from there or Jim's sight."

"Yes, John."  He grinned at the older man.  "Do you like fish?"

"I think it's a beautiful tank of fish."  He settled in beside the tank to watch him.  Dean came down with a smirk for him.  Sam and John came out of the bar together.  "Are we set for dinner?"

John checked Xander.  Dean handed over shoes, which got handed to Xander.  He sighed but put them on.  "Shoes are always worn when you're outside the room," he ordered.  Xander sighed again but nodded.  They headed out together.  Xander rode with the boys.  Jim rode with John to get filled in on what else had happened.  Sam got Xander his wishes from the buffet and the boy learned some faster table manners at the gentle swats John gave him for being so messy in public.  "In the room is fine.  In public is not," he said quietly.  Xander nodded, ducking his head.  "And tomorrow you start PT."

Xander blinked at him.  Then at Dean.  "PT?"

"Exercises to make you better," Dean told him.  "Like we all do."

"Oh, that stuff."  He grimaced.  "I'm already hyper."

"That'll help wear some of that out," John assured him.  "Then you can eat chocolate without bouncing."

"Fine."  He dug in again, eating more mannerly.  Even if Dean was eating with his mouth open and Sam was trying hard not to mention it.  Xander pointed at it for John's benefit.

John caught him.  "Your mother taught you better, Dean Winchester."  He swallowed and took smaller bites.  He shook his head, going back to eating.  Xander finally headed for the dessert part of the bar with Dean.  Both of them came back loaded and Sam had to help him steal cookies before Xander got hyper right before bedtime.  Xander whined but John glared so he quit.  "It's eight.  You still have a bath and bedtime in an hour and a half."

"Yes, John."  He dug in anyway.  He loved pudding.  Even if they had taken his cookies.  He detoured to get one on the way out, trailing behind them to nibble it on the way to the car.  His pet came out of his pocket once he was inside the car.  Dean checked his seatbelt visually.  "What?" he asked innocently.

"You can sneak one now and then, Xander.  We don't mind," Sam promised.  "It was that you came back with the half the bar that Dean didn't inhale.  That's way too much sugar at this time of night."


Sam grinned.  "We'll work that out.  We're heading tomorrow."

"No more Ray and Adam?" he asked with a sniffle.

"You'll see 'em in six months at the convention," Dean said.  "They said so."  Xander beamed at that and they pulled out, heading to the hotel.  Xander went to take his bath/play in the bubbles/pretend to get clean while the adults settled in to talk about things time.  Hunting was going to be a bit harder with Xander along.  Then again, the demons were naturally drawn to him and Sam....


John walked up to Jim the next morning, handing him two large shopping bags.  "Here, stuff Xander doesn't need.  I figured you've got at least one person who attends who can sew."  He gave him a clap on the arm then smirked.  "We're heading to Bobby's then the Roadhouse."  That got a nod and a grin.  "Don't warn him."

"I told him you got given a new son."

"Thanks."  He walked off.  Jim's choked spluttering behind him was so cute.  They hadn't needed all that fabric, or half the girlish jewelry.  They had plenty laying around at the moment.  He climbed into his truck and headed off.  The boys had each other guarded.  If anything took one of them it'd take all three of them, the car, and the weapons.  That'd protect them.  He hoped.


Xander hopped out of the car, running inside.  "Sorry, Mr. Bobby.  I gotta go!"  He found the bathroom and slid inside to use it.  "Demons were mean and took us at the last potty break so Dean wouldn't let us stop."

Bobby Singer looked at the door for a second then went to find Dean.  Had to be Winchester.  No other Deans he knew.  "That the new son?"

"Yup," Dean said, sitting on his hood.  "Sammy will be back in a minute.  Dad too."



"Huh," he said dryly.  "You don't seem too nervous, Dean.  You sure you're all right?"  He splashed him with holy water.

"I'm fine."  Xander came out.  "Put your pet up.  You won't need him."  Xander muttered but put his pet down to statue form and put him into his pocket.  "Thank you.  Say hello to Bobby.  Sammy and Dad will be back soon."

"I'm going to stomp the mean old demon," he said with a glare, stomping his foot.  He looked up.  "I'll make you sorry if you hurt Sammy!" he yelled.  "Leave him alone!"  John got sent back growling.  "I mean it!" Xander yelled.  He undid his bracelet and ran over to where John was, getting taken with him.  They all came back ten minutes later.  He beamed at Dean, going over to hug him.  "The mean one is very sorry.  He babbled and he cried and he even begged Sammy not to bring me back."

"That's a good job," Dean praised with a grin.  "What did you do?"

Xander gave him his meanest smirk.  "I went princess."

"Good job, Xander!"  He gave him a high-five and they looked at the other two.  "Need medical attention?"

"Could use a beer," Sam admitted, staring at them.  "He's a little hellion when he wants to be."

John nodded.  "Thankfully he doesn't do that to us."

"The fishes were pretty when they were let free to float around.  Even if they did bite."  He patted himself down.  "Hey, I want my pet back!" he shouted.  It appeared on the ground in front of him and so did a package.  He didn't touch it until Dean had looked it over.  The box spewed stuff and a note that said he'd be back for Xander when he was older to court him.  "Eww, girl clothes," he complained loudly.

Bobby looked very confused.  "Why did they give the boy girl clothes?" he asked John.

"Because some demons want Xander, Sammy, and Dean to be pets," John said bluntly.

"Fat fucking chance," Xander muttered, looking at stuff.  "John, can I wear this as jammies?"

"You're not allowed to wear any present any demon gives you.  It shows favor, Xander.  Only the stuff Vesvold gives you since he doesn't want to keep you as a pet."

"Yes, John.  They're cute though."  He held up the black soft pants.  "See, they'd make good jammies."

"They are pajamas and no," Dean said.  "If it had been a person maybe, but no."  Xander sighed but nodded, putting things back as best he could.  The gold and jewels got left out.  "Those too, Xander."  Xander frowned but they wouldn't go back into the box.  "That's fine, we can sell those off.  Remember, if you keep them they think they can keep you."

"I know.  But it still sucks."

"I know," John promised.  "It's still not safe."

"Yes, John."  He let Sam help him gather stuff up.  "Some of this should be yours."

"I don't need it."  Dean gave him an odd look.  "I don't."  Though one of the amber and gold necklaces was clearly meant for him.  Either that or for around the boy's waist.  He grinned at Bobby.  "Long story that cannot get out."  He got splashed with holy water too.  "Don't catch his pet.  It's to protect him from things like that."

"Sure.  Can I hear the story now?"

"Not in the open.  Someone might hear and try to take Xander again," John told him, walking him inside.  The boys knew what rules he had set down for demonic presents.   They'd handle it.  Inside was a bucket of live lobsters and a large cooler full of bottles of wine.  "He's too young to drink," John called.  The cooler expanded.  "And we're beer sorts, not lobster and wine sorts."  A chocolate cake was added on top.  He groaned, looking at Bobby, who was staring at him looking *really* confused now.  "You know about the upper levels of demons, right?  The ones that aren't hell born but are like demonic royalty, the High Demonic Council, all that stuff?"

"Heard rumors," Bobby admitted.

"Heard about people with hormones that go into overdrive and attract everyone, no matter what?" John asked.

"Have," he agreed.  "We have one that lives about ten miles away.  They say he doesn't come out of the house much thanks to the last kidnapper being a bit mean to him.  And?"

"Xander's one of them.  His hormones attract the higher sorts of demons *and* humans."

"Ah!"  He nodded, understanding that.  "Hold on, Sammy and Dean?"

"Both are but are only half as strong.  Xander's one of the strongest they've seen in centuries according to Adam.  He's the national head over the group of people like them.  They're trying to get Xander to agree to let them court him when he's old enough.  Many of them want Sammy and Dean so they'll take all three and train Xander in his future role until he's old enough."

Bobby went to get a beer for him.  "You look like you need it."

"It's been four days.  Xander's been taken six times.  Sammy twice."  He saluted him once he had it open.  "They're pushy.  We've had a great time hunting them.  There's one who loved Xander for real but he hadn't stepped forward so this is after he announced his protection of the boy.  Vesvold's on the High Demonic Council."

"So we're keeping him from them but he'll go some day?"

"No.  We're making sure he doesn't have to go then either," Dean said as they walked in.  "He's going to pick his own keeper when he's old enough to have one and probably a protector too.  He's not going to the demonic if we can help it.  Even Vesvold.  He can work it out with him when he's an adult."  He looked at the boy then at their friend again.  "They're very pushy.  They'd more than happily keep Sammy and me now and then take Xander later."

"Huh," Bobby said.  "So he's not going to go but they all want him anyway?"

"Take a sniff of his hair," Sam said.  Bobby did and felt the same urge to hold the boy steal over him.  He backed up, looking alarmed.  "He draws both sides.  Two of the last six kidnapings have been people who wanted Xander instead of demons who wanted Xander."

"Shit, kids. That's going to be a hard thing to deal with unless you guys set up a fortress."

"Being on the move might help protect him more. It means they have to find him," John said, taking a sip.  "Unless you can find whatever locating charm them have on him and break it?"

Bobby nodded.  "I could."

"We're dumping his sucking bracelet weekly," Dean told them all.  "Just in case he starts to get a bit backed up after so long in the car."  Sam nodded at that.  "It sucks off the extra pheromones he's putting out," he said at the return of the confused look.

Xander looked in the bucket. "Why are there snappy, brown things?"

"Those are lobsters and someone decided we needed a fancy dinner," John said dryly.

"They'd hurt us if we tried to eat them," Xander said, looking confused.

"You boil 'em first," Dean told him.  "They're cooked so they're dead and can't bite back."

"Ewww!  They're alive!"

"We can put them into the fridge first so they don't feel it," Sam assured him.

"We should let them go," Xander told him.

"They can't survive around here," Dean told him, squatting down to get on his height.  "They live in the ocean off Maine and places like that.  We can't release them into any stream, Xander.  They'd die anyway."

"Oh."  He pouted.

"What did you think beef came from?"

"I know that but I didn't have to see them alive."

"I know, kiddo."  The lobsters disappeared.  "See, they're going to put them back or something."  Xander beamed at the ceiling for that.  A large case of something that smelled like blood appeared in the bucket's place.  On top of a tarp so no one would yell about blood on the rug.  "Hmm.  Dad?"

John got it open and looked, blinking.  "Damn good, thick cuts of steaks."

"Ooh, steak?" Xander asked, coming over to look.  "That's a lot of steaks.  We can't eat all those.  Even Dean can't."

Sam coughed.  "Bobby, don't you guys have a homeless shelter or something in town?"

"A soup kitchen.  No real homeless in town.  Only one guy that's a bit off who lives in the woods."

"Whatever we can't eat, we'll bring down to them?" Sam suggested to Xander and his father.

Xander beamed.  "That would make them feel really good, huh?" Xander asked.  Sam nodded.  "Okay.  John?"

"That's a good idea," he agreed.  Xander beamed.  "We'll have to buy some baggies to seal them in.  They won't take them otherwise."

"I've got a vaccu sealer.  Buy a new roll of bags," Bobby told him.  They nodded.  Dean went to get one and they started the grill.  The wine got put into the pantry.  The cake got put into the fridge for now so Xander couldn't try for the frosting.  They pulled out one for each of them, and two extras in case someone was really hungry, then bagged up the rest.  Bobby called someone at the soup kitchen so they came to get it.

Xander stared at the guy, blinking at him.  "You know Adam," he said quietly.  The guy stiffened and stared at him.  He grinned.  "I'm Xander."  He held up a hand.  "These are Dean and Sam.  They're like us, and John's their daddy.   Bobby's their friend."

Dean looked at him.  "He had an early breakout so we got found," he said quietly, shaking his hand.  "Dean Winchester."

"I saw the memo welcoming you two and Xander."  He smiled at Xander.  Then at them.  "He's really under a curse?"  Dean nodded.  "Poor kid.  I'm only a level six.  He's got to be in hell."

"He's had some help of the strange variety," Sam said with a grin.  "Want to join us for supper?"

"No, that's okay.  My keeper's waiting on me.  These steaks?"

"Gifts," Xander said.  "I think it'd make some people really happy to have them."

"It would, Xander.  That's very thoughtful."  He smiled and patted the boy on the head.  "You be very careful, young man.  The more who know the less safe you are."

Xander nodded.  "I know.  But I could feel you know.  You have that warm, fuzzy feeling Sam has sometimes."

"I know.  I'm backlogged."  He winked.  "Thanks, guys.  Good luck protecting him."  He smiled at Xander.  "I'll see you at the convention?"

"He'll be in the room but yeah, we'll be there," Dean promised.  They nodded and the guy left.

"Keeper?" Bobby asked.

"Boyfriend or girlfriend with extra duties to help protect them," Sam told him quietly.  "Protectors are bodyguards and what they sound like.  Higher levels like Xander are often have multiple of both kinds."

"So no marriage for him?" Bobby asked.

"They'd have to have the same sort of energy Xander does," Dean told him.  Xander pouted.  "For when you're older.  A keeper, Xander."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "Adam said I could like boys or girls."

"We don't care either way," John assured him.  Xander beamed and hugged him then went to bounce around outside with his pet.  "Technically Dean and Sammy have custody of him," John told him.  "Adam had access to his funds so we're using it to support him and make sure he's safe.  He's got a good hand with weapons too."

"That's probably going to save him a few times," Bobby said.  This was very strange, even for a Winchester.  John smirked slightly.  He shrugged.  He'd get used to the boy.  He gave him a shoulder nudge.  "Check on the boy.  I can't hear him."

"He's out behind the barn," Dean said from the window.  He opened it.  "Not too far out of sight, Xander."

"Yes, Dean."  He and the monkey/dog came out to play in plain sight again.

Sam stood up.  "That's not Xander."

"How do you know?" John asked.

"That's not the right pet either," Sam said.  He ran out to the construct.  It faded out and took him with him.  He found Xander, only an older one, facing off with a demon.  "Xander?"

"Huh?"  He glanced at him.  "Do I know you?"

"I'm Sam.  We've been protecting you for a week, since you were cursed."

"I was born cursed."  He snarled and lunged at the demon, killing it brutally.   Then he dropped the sword.  "I do not like this shit."

"Me either," Sam said, carefully moving closer.  The pet chattered at him.  He let it sniff him and it let him closer.  Xander gave him a confused look.  "You were cursed to deage, Xander.  You're about seven or eight."

"Oh.  That's gotta suck."  Sam smiled, nodding a bit.  "Huh.  We've got to find my other parts."

"Other parts?"

"Bright boy there tried to bind me and split me a bit.  We need to find them."  That got a nod and Sam picked up the sword.  Xander took it back.  "No offense but I don't want people at my back with weapons."

"Not a problem.  I've got my own," he promised.  "I'm not going to hurt you.  Adam told us to watch out for you."  Xander grinned at that.  They found a room with three Xander's.  A shy Xander.  A very princessly Xander.  And a little boy Xander.  The pet ran over to crawl on that one.  "How do we get you back together?"

"We think we only have to touch," princessly Xander said, tossing his long braid back over his shoulder before standing up.  He walked over to touch the warrior Xander and they merged.  The shy one got grabbed and he merged.  They looked at the child Xander and he sniffled.

"Hey, no, it'll be okay," Sam promised.  "I won't let you be hurt, Xander.  I've been protecting you.  You know that."  He nodded and came to get a hug.  Then he merged with himself.  He was older now.  Early pubescent.  Nearly ten.  He looked at the boy.  "You okay?"

"It ate some of the curse, not all of it," he said quietly.  He looked around.  "I have no idea how to get back."

"I do."  He winked and they found the exit, heading down.  They landed in....  Detroit it looked like.  "Huh."  He called Dean's phone.  "We're good.  We're in Detroit I think."  He hung up and looked at the boy, who shrugged.  "Huh."  The DPP detective appeared beside them, giving them a confused look.  "Someone who wanted him enough to screw up binding him by splitting him into parts."

"We saw the mess."  He took Xander and Sam back to where the others were.  Bobby gave them a startled look.  "Detroit."  He disappeared, shaking his head.

"What do I know," Xander muttered.

"It's been a year," Dean said dryly.

"Shit," Xander muttered.  John swatted him.  "Hey!  That deserved swearing!" he pouted.  He looked at Sam, then at Dean.  "The demon tried to bind me and split me into parts."

"Like arms and legs?"

"Like his warrior side, like his princess side.  A shy side.  A child side," Sam explained.

The DPP officer reappeared with something.  "You defeated the one who ruled," he said in a common demon tongue.  Xander knew it.  He had in his last life.  "You now rule in his stead."

"I don't want to rule anything," Xander complained.  "Why would I want to?"

"Then name an heir."  He handed the box to Sam.  "You were appointed regent in his place."  He smirked and pointed at where a trunk appeared.  "His."  He disappeared.

Xander sighed, sitting down next to Dean to sulk.  "I'm not liking this."

"Us either," Dean told him.  "You okay?"

"I'm fine.  I beat the mean demon then killed it.  I guess it took longer to get out than we thought."

John stared at him.  "How did you beat it?"

"It was wearing a sword.  The warrior part of me took the sword and did a good Conan impression until Sam showed up."

"Okay, that happened within minutes," Dean said.  "Then what?"

"He beat the demon.  We went to gather the other parts of himself.  That's when we found him aged some.  It took a while to find the exit so that's probably what took the extra year."

They all nodded at that.  "Trunk?" Bobby asked finally.  John went to check it over.  And the box too.  Inside was a pretty coronet.  Black metal with black and blue stones.  Bobby whistled at the sight of it.  "That's pretty."

"I still don't want a realm.  I'd be a sucky ruler.  Maybe he had kids?"

"He went after a kid to own him, Xander.  I doubt he had his own," Dean said.

"Well, he was talking about me carrying a worthy heir for him.  I didn't know boys could do that.  I've never seen a pregnant boy."

"And you won't outside a wish demon or a witch's curse," Bobby assured him.

"Oh."  He slumped down again, scowling some.  "Bobby, can I shower?"

"Sure, kid.  Go ahead."  He went to do that.  They went back to the trunk.  He had a lot of fancy clothes but nothing that was low brow enough for church going.  A lot of silks, satins, and velvets.  Some leather.  "Jim would not approve," he said dryly.

"No, neither would we," John said.  They shared a look.  "Dean?"

"Going," he agreed, going to get Xander some clothes.  Sam could shower and use his old clothes.  Xander had clearly grown a lot.

Xander came out in a towel and sat between the two older guys.  "Who would give a kid my age leather pants?"

"Someone sick who needed destroyed anyway," John told him.  "Dean's getting you clothes."

"I heard you tell him to go."  He gave him a hug around the arm. "I'm sorry I'm such a  pain."

"You're not, kiddo.  You need the protection and we'll gladly do it for you."  Xander grinned and dug into the trunk.  He'd never tell the kid how they had searched for them or taken out a few demon enclaves to get them back.  The kid didn't need that on his soul.  He came up with a wrist cuff.  He looked at his own.  "Um, my weeding bracelet is gone, Sam."

"Shit."  It appeared at his feet.  "That's helpful.  Thank you, Vesvold."  He tossed it over.  Xander stuck it on.  He looked at the cuff.  "Not until it can be checked for magic."

"Yes, Sam."  He put it back.  He pulled out a long robe.  "Can I wear it for now?"  They nodded so he put it on.  "Did I miss the convention?"

"You did but they understood and Adam heard where you were.  He called that night.  That's why we didn't panic and start ripping demon realms," John said, patting him on the back.  They had tried but Adam said to take out the frustration and they'd work on getting them back for him.  "You look good in black silk, kiddo."  Xander grinned at that.  Dean came back and Xander went to change in the bathroom.  "Any problems?"

"No.  I called Adam to tell him he's back.  He had heard but he was happy he was back and wanted to see him soon."

"We can swing that way," John agreed.  He handed it to Bobby.  "Give it to a church or something."  He stood up and put the coronet on top of it.  "Sammy, as regent you probably have to find someone to take that."

"Hey, Vesvold, want the crown?" he called.  The demon appeared outside the devil's trap. "Xander said he didn't want it."

"Being royal would suck.  I'd have to have more manners."

Vesvold smiled and took them with him. "They'll be waiting on him.  I know someone who can administrate for him."

"Until he has an heir?" Bobby snorted.

Vesvold sighed and looked at Sam.  "He is as you will be," he said quietly.  Then they disappeared.

Sam came back a minute later with a sandwich he was eating.  "Strange something I found out.  No, he probably won't have heirs unless someone fiddles with cloning or something."   He ate another bite and let Dean snatch it while he chewed.  "Longer than average story and one we need to have alone, Dean."  He looked at his father.  "Where's the Cleveland hellmouth?"

John stared at him then sighed.  "We figured they switched you but we didn't care," he said quietly.  "Ours died, Sam."

Sam nodded.  "I've heard that recently."  He gave him a small smirk.  "It's fine.  We'll talk in private."

"Hold on, this isn't Sam?" Dean demanded.

"No, he is.  Just...."

"Mom's baby was born stillborn," Sam said quietly.  "The hospital had one that had been abandoned.  Someone thought it would be kinder."  Dean gave him a flummoxed look.  Like someone had hit him in the head with a shovel again.  "It leads back to something that'll happen later on in life.  Then I'll really need training."

Bobby stood up.  "You know about them?" he asked.

Sam smirked.  "Yeah, I've met one who told me."  That got a nod.  He pointed at the bathroom and nodded.  "Him too."

"That's a good reason to train him," he agreed.

"I'm lost," Dean said.  John drew them outside to talk to them.  This needed to be cleared up.  Dean was shocked but he could deal with this revelation.  He looked at his father, who shrugged a bit.  "When did you find out?"

"About two weeks later when a social worker showed up being suspicious.  Mary gushed and we pretended we had no idea.  To us, he's always been our son.   Your mom agreed with me when we figured it out."

Dean slumped, nodding a bit.  "If it doesn't bother Sammy then I'm good."

"Not much you could do to change it anyway," Sam teased.  "Beyond that, with the new knowledge I found out, there's something amazing coming."

John looked at him.  "Amazing how?"  Sam leaned over to whisper it in his ear.  He moaned.  "You're sure?"

"Yup.  Adam was sure."

"Ah."  He looked at Dean.  "If you think he dies, don't do anything like bury him or hand him over."

"Why?" he asked, looking confused.  Sam whispered it in his ear, getting a moan as well.  "Sure, I won't do that."  He looked over as Xander peeked outside.  "We're good, Xander. Just talking about some older family stuff."

"Where did the trunk go?"

"Vesvold.  He'll appoint someone to rule in your place too."

Xander looked up.  "Thank you, Vessie!  I adore you for that!  I'd be mean to them!"  He hugged Dean.  "Thank you for getting me undies that fit."  He grinned at John.  "Can we really go see Adam?"

"We can really go see Adam," he promised.  Xander beamed and bounced out to see if Bobby had anything he could get in trouble with.  "We're stepping up his training," he ordered.  They nodded, going to start on that with him since he was so bouncy at the moment.  Sam made sure his bracelet was on so that was fine.


Adam found Xander at the door when someone extremely unkind decided to get him up before ten.  "Xander," he said, pulling him in to hug him.  "They let you out alone?"

"A demon attacked so Sam told me to come ahead after putting me in a cab."  He snuggled in.  "How do you get rid of a realm someone decided was yours because you killed the demon?"

"I have no idea," he admitted, taking him to the couch to cuddle and talk to him.  Ray had the day off so he stumbled out and into the kitchen in search of coffee.  Xander squealed and went to pounce him, making Ray wake up enough to grin and cuddle him.  "They sent him ahead since they were attacked."

"I'll make extra coffee."  He smirked at Xander.  "Wanna help?"

"Sure."  They puttered in the kitchen to make breakfast and brought it out to eat on the couch.  Sam showed up an hour later messy but okay.  "Are they okay?"

"They're fine, Xander."  He kissed him on the head. "It'll be okay."  He looked at himself.  "Let us check into somewhere then we'll come back to chat?"  That got a nod.  "Thanks, dude."  He headed off to check them into the usual hotel.  They were very discreet.  The manager gave him an odd look.  "We were attacked by people who wanted me and my brother.  We're GHS," he said quietly.  "Only light scrapes this time."

"Of course.  How many in your party?"

"Us three and Xander, who's ten and a level ten."

The manager gaped.  "I remember him on his last trip."  He got them booked into a nice room and sent them up there.  He also sent up a complimentary first aid kit.  Usually he'd send a fruit basket but these ones clearly needed that more.  He made a note in the system about them being GHS.  That would start better security precautions around them without them noticing.  They headed out an hour later, going to visit their local friend.  Must be the national head since he was local and the young one had such an unusual break out in skills.


Adam and John sat quietly alone later that night.  "How are we doing with him?" John asked finally.

"As far as I can tell you're done fine.  He's happy, a bit bouncy but that's normal for Xander, and he's content.  That's very important.  He's learning self defense, which is always an excellent choice.  He knows about demons since he draws them just as often as he does humans."

"Wish I could salt and burn them sometimes," he admitted.

"The rich and powerful will always want one of us.  We're a status symbol even now.  Having a concubine is still highly thought of as a way to attest to your wealth and status.  That's why the major players that steal us are in Asia and the Middle East, where flaunting your power is a way of life."

"Many disappear this year?"

Adam sipped his beer.  "Six total in the last two years."  He took another drink.  "We rescued four of them.  I'm very proud of our retrieval team."  He smirked.  "None were taken by the demonic.  Only those touched by it usually get taken by it.  Xander's an extreme case.  As are your boys."

"Sam told me that he knows," he said quietly.

Adam nodded.  "It's important in your line of work to not die anyway."

"I know."  He looked into the bedroom where Xander was crashed with Ray for a nap then at him.  "I'm trying really hard not to touch his money."

"I know."  He smirked.  "He's made more in interest than you've spent on the boy, John.  Trust me, he would not mind.  He's very much a generous soul.  The last time he went shopping he bought more for others than for himself."

"I can see why.  He's getting expensive tastes."

"All GHS members crave the soft, the exotic, and the pleasurable.  Of course he likes silk and leather."  He finished his beer.  "Even if he does have to fight."  A flash of light happened and a voice he had much missed whispered in his ear.  "We can?"  The mouth nibbled on his ear, getting a moan.  "I'll recommend that when he's older.  He's only ten."  He looked at him then at John.  "This is Strife, God of Mischief.  The one Xander got offered to."

"All level tens are part mine anyway," he said with a grin and a wink.  "There's a unique self defense style that could help him.  He'd have ta leave the plane to find it though.  You mind?"

"I might."

"He can take the boys.  Might be better anyway.  Plus he'd learn how to manage intrigue and power players better than screaming and pouting."

"He's only ten, Lord Strife."

Strife nodded. "There's that too.  It'll make him more flexible and give your boys a new style too.  Sword work that incorporates dance moves.  He'll probably be pretty good and it'll help with the bounciness."

John considered it.  "If he wants to go, next year, after the convention."  That got a nod.  "Lord Strife, is there a way to protect him more?"

"Yeah, but he'd have ta dedicate himself."  He winked and disappeared with a stroke over Methos' hair.

"I knew him better in my youth."

"All children swear allegiance to at least one chaos god for a while," John said dryly.

Methos snickered.  "Yes, they do.  All mine did."  John gave him a happy look.  "I married their mothers.  Sam told you correctly."  John slumped again.  "Are you sure you want to wait that long to send him?"

"He needs to get over his current growth spurt and we still have a demon to track down.  So far it's the only one who hasn't come to proposition Xander."

"Are you sure about that?" he asked.  John choked.  "He did try to talk him to his side.  Xander admitted as much.  The boys were getting something at a rest stop.  Xander snorted and told him he'd seen more evil girls his age."  John smirked, shaking his head.  "He does know and does want him."

"We'll have to see what we're doing then," John decided.  Adam nodded at that.  "Can you teach Sammy?"

"He's asked me to recommend a decent teacher for him to start with.  I don't do well with newbies and he'll need to do more than hack and slash to stay alive in our world.  After that, if he should ask it of me, I'd test him and see if I could teach him anything."

"Thank you."

"As I'll someday do for Xander."

John nodded at that.  "We're trying."

"I know.  You'll do what you can and then we'll finish it up.  Xander may end up buying something on holy ground to protect himself and those with him.  I have no idea."

John nodded. "I'll suggest that to him when he's older.  Would it help with the other demons?"

"Probably not.  Most of them aren't evil.  They just ...are."

"Then I'll suggest it."  Xander came out rubbing his eyes.  "Ready to head back to the hotel?"

"Sure."  He gave Adam a hug.  "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow go sightseeing.  I have to help Ray with something.  I'll see you at a decent hour the day after."

Xander blushed.  "I'm sorry I got you up."

"It was ten," John said.  "It was an assumption he'd be up by then."

"Not usually," Adam admitted.  "The joys of being wealthy and working from home."  That got a nod and he gathered Xander up after another hug.  He let them out, locking the door behind him.  He turned to find Strife and Ares both there.  "Problems?"

"One of our anchors," Ares said dryly.

"Ah.  So the trip...."

"He'll get that too."

Adam nodded.  "That's fine.  Talk to his new family all you want.  John wasn't disturbed by Strife."

"Sam might be," Strife admitted.  "That freakin' demon has a slight claim on him."

"Would coming over negate that?" Adam asked.

"No.  The demon won't be able to claim him without a trial."  He shifted his stance.  "The boy has to go."

"John said next year."

"That's a good time for it," Ares decided.  "It'll be a long trip there but not here."

"Agreed.  That can happen in the realms."

They nodded.  "Teach him an anchor's job, Methos," Ares ordered.  "It'll help him be monitored by Cupid and Strife.  Possibly keep down the problems as well.  Make sure they're teaching him Greek and Latin as well."  They disappeared.

"As you command," Methos said dryly, finishing his second beer before going in to lay with his boy.  He did love his Ray.  He'd miss him horribly when he died.


Xander found Pastor Jim in his church.  "Vesvold has a closet full of tasteless gifts we should go through for donation," he told him.  Jim jumped, staring at him.  "Hi."

"Xander."  He gave him a hug.  "You've grown a lot."

"Being out of time warped the curse a bit," Dean said as he walked in.

"Can we get into the closet Vesvold is holding stuff in to give it to Pastor Jim's church for charity?  I don't need leather pants."

"I don't know any who would either," Jim told him.  The boy shrugged a bit and went back to hugging.  "Off playing today?"

"Yup.  Adam's busy.  They were talking about me taking another trip to learn something else next year too.  John said I needed to learn Latin and Greek.  Adam said so."

"Of course," he said, taking the boy to the front of the church to work on it with Dean.  The boy caught on well.  It was clearly stirring old memories.  He switched to another one and Xander beamed, understanding that one too.  A glowing ball appeared and floated in front of Xander.  He looked at Dean, who checked it with a touch first, then nodded.  Xander touched it and it flashed, giving him some of his old memories.  Xander blinked away the spots the light had left in his eyes, then asked Jim a question in more detailed Latin.  Jim laughed and answered back.   By the time John and Sam joined them Xander was babbling in a few languages.  Jim smiled.  "Someone gave him back some of his old memories."

"That's good.  Of what?"

"Languages.  He said he learned it to do demonic research before."

"That's a good way to do it," Sam said, patting Xander on the head with a grin.  "We talked with someone about this trip they want you to go on for training and it sounds pretty cool.  We three can go and have a long vacation even though it'll only be a little bit here."

"We are?" Dean asked dryly.

"To teach him a style of self-defense that works better with how he moves," John told him.  "Then possibly to a temple devoted to Ares to learn some there."

Dean nodded slowly.  "So a training road trip."

"In another plane," Sam added.  "No cars."

"My car," he whined.

"We can bring the weapons and garage her with Bobby," John told him.  "She'll be safe, Dean."  Dean slumped but nodded.  "I'm told this defense style is unlike anything we have around here.  Meant to be done by flexible people with high hormones since it's supposed to be a bit...enticing."

"With swords," Sam added with a grin.

"Erotic with swords," Dean said, then he shuddered.  "I'm not sure I wanna get hot with swords, Sammy."

"Then who'll watch us when Sam and I learn?" Xander asked.  He gave him the best begging look he could.  Even with puppy eyes.  Dean caved.  He had to.  Not even Sammy had puppy eyes that strong.  Xander turned them on John with a hint of a lip twitch.  "Ice cream for lunch?"

John groaned, turning around.  "After lunch.  Jim, coming?  We'll hit that buffet place like the last time we were in town."  Xander whooped and ran for the car.

"He's an exceptional little boy," Jim told him.

"He talked two cops out of giving me a speeding ticket," Dean said happily.  "Totally made them pout for pulling me over."  He went to let Xander into the car.  Sam followed snickering.

John and Jim shared a look.  "He's going too evil with that pout," Jim warned.

"Sam got him for it," he assured him.  "Swatted him once the officers went to sulk at the station."  Jim cackled, closing up for the lunch hour so they could watch Xander and Dean inhale most of the food at the buffet place.


A few months later, Dean had to be stopped from going off the deep end.  "Remember, he'll come back," Xander said, stopping Dean from going to kill the other guy.  "Get Sam so we can protect him!  I'll get the evil thing."  Dean went to help Sam while the guy who stabbed him ran for the woods.  Xander faced the demon, staring at it.  "You're so toast."

"You could join me, Xander.  We could rule the world together.  Everything you wanted could be yours.  Including being normal again."

He snorted.  "Who said I want to be normal?"

"I could make those nasty hormones go away permanently."

"So?"  He shifted his stance.  "Who says I don't like the awe-inspiring worship some demons give me?"  He took off his bracelet and let it drop into the dirt.  Adam had told him a few things about protecting himself.  "You're so low you can't even suck a dog's cock," he said in Greek.  The demon sneered.  "You also don't read people very well.  You have no idea who I am."

"I do know who you were."

"I've seen flashes. Apparently I was boring."  He pushed his hair back off his face, willing his hormones to rise again.  He only had to trap it long enough for John to get there with the colt.  "Really.  All those girls who didn't appreciate me.  Slaying demons.  Dating demons from the flashes I've gotten.  A poor existence doing the right thing for no benefit?  If I wanted to do that, I could do it now, can't I?"  He smirked, moving closer. "By the way, you do know that you just signed a huge ass death warrant by having him killed?  There's no stopping the family now."  Sam gasped and sat up coughing.  The demon gave him a horrified look and shot power at Sam.  Xander tackled him but Sam was back out.  "He'll be fine," Xander called.  "Remember, unless his head goes bye-bye..."

"I know."  John came running with the colt.  "Xander, get off him!"

Xander quit holding the demon down and sneered.  "You can't even imagine as high as I'm worth, demon slug.  You're nothing to anyone.  Even the Ancient Ones don't know you and they know most of the threats.  Says a lot to me."  John shot the demon but only managed to graze it.  Xander attacked again and this time he felt his hormones spike.  The demon moaned and tried to grab him by the hair.  "Hair yankers suck!" he said hotly, kicking him in the nuts.  "And they should beg."  Dean got him out of the way and John took a better shot, one he had time to aim this time.  The demon died with a scream.  Xander spit on the spot.  "Insignificant little pissant."

He got free of Dean and went to check on Sam.  He liked all the Winchesters but Sam tried really hard to like him back.  "Sam, what did he do?" he complained.  "Your head's still on.  You've got to come back sometime soon."  He called Adam.  "How long should it take for Sam to come back the second time if he died, came back, and then the demon shot power at him?"  He checked his neck.  "No, not even a bit of bruising, Adam."  He smiled.  "Thank you."  He hung up.  "He said if the demon was trying to damage his brain or spinal cord it'll take the most time and it'll be about a day.  We have to get him cleaned up.  It'll help the nastiness."

Dean nodded, coming over to pick Sam up.  His father helped and Xander went ahead to get the doors to the Impala open.  They put him in the backseat and headed for the motel.  Xander rode in the truck this time.  John shot a glance at him.  "That was really stupid, Xander."

"It was not.  You needed time to get there with the colt.  Besides, it was the truth. I asked the last one who had me and Sam asked the one that took us both last time.  They never heard of him.  That makes him a gnat to them."

"Still stupid.  Where's your bracelet?"

"Ummm...."  He winced.  "I'll get it."  He concentrated and it flew in the open window of the truck.  "See?" he asked proudly.

"Are we practicing the craft?"

"No," he said with a small pout.  "Just enough to get myself undone from handcuffs and to summon keys."

"That's a good use for you.  You're too young."

"He tried to tempt me by saying he knew who I used to be or that he could bring my hormones down to a normal level permanently."

"And you said what?"

"Who wants to be normal?  If I wanted to go back to being a poor demon hunter I could do that."

John shot him a look.  "It's about honor, kid."

"I know that.  He'd never understand it.  I even mentioned that would mean I'd have to give up the worship a few of the demons seem to think I deserve.  It made him pissed."

"That's a good way to distract," John sighed.  He was still wondering if the kid felt like that all the time.

Xander poked him on the arm.  "There's more important things than money.  I know that.  Do you know how many of the demons have told Sam I used to be a White Knight?"

John smirked. "Good.  Let's hope you don't lose that this go-round."

"Me too."  They found where Dean had gotten them rooms, heading in to help him with Sam.  He had Sam in the tub.  "Let me."  Dean glared.  "I'm better at bath stuff than you are."

"I used to give him his baths, Xander."

"Now you're pissed and it's not helping.  Go be pissed outside and yell and scream at God."  Dean stomped off.  "I wouldn't want to wake up to that temper either," he told Sam.  He got the water temperature adjusted and got to work cleaning Sam's body up.  He'd hate to wake up feeling that nasty.  John went to set the wards on the room.  He could just barely hear Dean out back ranting at God.  When he was done he used the shower to do a final rinse while he let out the old water.  Then he ran new warm water and left the curtain closed.  He came out wiping off his hands.  "He's clean and I left him with clean, warm water."

"That's good.  How long did Adam say?"

"Maybe as long as a day since it happened right after the other and he looked like he was aiming to take out major organs.  Regrowing anything major takes longer."

"We can wait that long," John said, staring at him.

"You can go yell too.  I know Sam's your son and I'll watch him."  John smiled, going to comfort Dean and do his own ranting.  Xander sat in the doorway of the bathroom, watching Sam's still body.  "You know, this is not how today was supposed to go," he told him.  "It's supposed to be a happy day since the demon's gone."

Dean stomped in.  "He back yet?"

"Not yet.  Adam said it might take up to a day if he had to regrow anything too huge, like a major organ or his spine."

Dean swallowed.  "The light hit his chest."

"It probably only did some organ damage, Dean."  Dean nodded, sitting down next to him to stare at the body too.  "You okay?"

"I'm fine.  I wasn't in danger."

"You couldn't have stopped him.  He snatched Sam from a restaurant while you were in the car.  You had no way of knowing about it."  John stomped in.  "He'll be fine.  He woke up the first time."

"I know.  I talked to Bobby.  He heard word that the Sunnydale PD is looking for you because your friend accused you of rape."

Xander snorted.  "Yeah, right.  Not in this body and I doubt that was ever my thing."  He stared at him.  "Can we fix this?"

"I don't know how," he admitted.

"Well, I clearly can't and I wasn't in town."

"Good point."  John called him back.  He had a contact in town that could pass on the information that Xander had been traveling with them for over a year.  He wasn't there when it happened.  Bobby had passed that back so they'd have to see.  He came back calmer.   "We'll figure it out, kiddo."

"Why would she accuse him of it?" Dean asked.

"Because I wasn't there," Xander said, looking at him. "Right?"  John nodded.  "Would I have been there?"

"Frat house."

"I don't like drinking."  He got up and got some change from his bag to get them some sodas.  Then he came back to sit and wait.  There was nothing else to do today but wait.  Dean reached over and put the bracelet back on him then smacked him on the side of the head.  "It helped."

"Yay.  Still dangerous for you," Dean said, staring at him.  "You're still only ten."

"Yay me.  I kept his attention so he couldn't flee to the big problem area he was going for later."  John stared at him.  "Some big devil's gate thingy?  In South Dakota?  Ask Bobby, he knows."

"I can do that."  He called him back.  "We got the demon," he said quietly.  "What big devil's gate thingy was Xander talking about?"  He nodded once.  "That's a problem.  Who's going?"  He grimaced.  "I can meet you there.  Sammy's going to wake up sometime soon or I'll be back by tomorrow at noon."  He hung up and stood up.  "They're gathering to open a devil's gate."

"Go.  We've got to stop that.  I'll be with Sammy."  John nodded, gathering weapons from their stashes to head out.  Dean looked at Xander.  "You okay?"

"I'll be fine.  I only taunted.  We're buddies and I know he'll wake up.  You're his brother."

"I know."  Xander gave him a hug.  "Thanks, kiddo."  He went back to watching the lifeless body heal.


John got back at one the next day.  Sam was still out.  He slumped.

"He's almost gotten it once," Dean said quietly.

"Zap the water?" Xander suggested.  "Like the shocky pads they use for heart attacks?"

"Don't tempt me, I'll hook him up to the car battery," Dean said dryly.  "Sammy, you have one more hour or I'm going to make a deal to get your stupid ass back."  Xander plugged in something small and tossed it onto Sam's chest, making him scream in pain but come alive as Xander unplugged it.  "Xander!" Dean growled.

"It worked."

"Still not cool."

"I don't think I've ever been cool," Xander said flatly, giving him a look.  "I probably never will be."

"Not that meaning of the word," Dean shot back.

"Guys, headache, stop it," Sam growled.

"Did you come back evil?" John asked.

Sam glared at him.  "Don't you wish."  He looked at Xander.  "You did the right thing in a sucky way.  Dean's just worried.  He gets like that sometimes about me."  He got out and dried himself off, looking down at himself.  The slight burn was already healing.  "That's pretty damn handy," he decided.  Dean handed him the clothes he had pulled out yesterday.  "Thanks."  He grinned.  "So, I'm back."  His family smirked and patted him on the shoulder.  He looked at Xander, winking.  "This makes it easier for our upcoming road trip."

"You still want to go with me?"

"Of course."  He patted the ten-year-old's head.  "You did good keeping them from freaking out."  Xander beamed at that.  "Any food, I'm starving."

"Xander ordered a pizza earlier," Dean said with a point.

"You're always hungry when you get hurt," Xander reminded him.

"That's true.  It's the body taking some of itself to heal you."  He grabbed the pizza box and sat down next to Xander to eat it.  Xander beamed at him for that.  He could still read the uneasiness in his eyes though.  "Relax, kiddo.  I'm still Sam.  Just a slightly less destructible version."  Xander nodded, resting against his arm.  He looked at his father.  "It all done with?"

"The demon died.  Xander distracted him long enough for Dad to get there with the colt," Dean said.  Sam nodded, eating another bite, offering Xander a piece of pepperoni.  "So, this coming back, any problems?"

"No.  I'm guessing it took so long because I'm so young and whatever he threw at me was seriously powerful.  Relax, guys.  Only my head coming off kills me now."  They nodded, settling in to watch him.  At least Xander was just worried about him being mad about something.  "I'm not Lazarus, quit staring," he said between bites ten minutes later.

"It's just so unusual," John said quietly.

Sam nodded.  "To me too.  I freaked out when I died.  I wasn't sure that would qualify for a violent death since it took one to come over."  He finished that slice and put the box on the table after offering the last two pieces to his side cuddler.  Xander shook his head and went back to cuddling him.  Sam smiled at him, petting him until he took a nap.  "He been nagged or was he taking care of you two?"

"I had to help close a devil's gate that the demon had been trying to open," John admitted quietly.

"He's been doing the quiet fussing.  I'd reach for something and it'd be there already," Dean admitted.  "He's probably exhausted."  He activated all the demon pets, letting them cuddle up with the boy.  They didn't seem to mind Sam but they knew not to let demons near the boy so that meant Sammy truly wasn't demonic.

Sam looked up from watching Xander sleep.  "Do we need to do this the way Bobby does?"  John tossed over a vial of holy water and he drank it with a sigh.  "There, better?"  They both smirked and nodded.  "Thank you!  Now, quit staring!"  He went back to soothing Xander.  "We'll handle it better when it's your turn," he whispered.  He stood up and carried the boy to the couch, tucking him into his unused bed.  The pets checked their masters then curled around Xander to protect him while he napped.

"We're sure he'll go over?" Dean asked quietly.

"Yeah," he said, sounding a bit sad.  "Probably within a few years if he doesn't learn better self defense."  He looked at him.  "Let's hope he's not castrated by then.  It'll suck for eternity since they'll only grow back after he comes across."

John sighed.  "How are you taking this so well?"

"I had over a year to get used to it," he said with a small shrug.  "I actually thought about it, made plans, all that stuff.  Helping Xander learn how to defend himself will help me learn how to defend myself better."  He looked at Dean.  "If and when you finally spawn, I'll be watching over them for you."

Dean grinned.  "Good to know but you can't turn them all girl like or make them super brains unless they're already tainted."

"I won't," he sighed, sitting down again.  "I should call Adam."

"We did when you went out the second time," Dean admitted.  He looked at his father. "Xander's really worried you're still pissed that he distracted the demon that way."

"I'm not.  It was foolish but he was trying to help.  It was the only way he knew how.  The fact he taunted the demon means he needs to spend more time with normal guys instead of you two."  They both smirked at him.  "He taunted that the higher ups didn't know that one's name or that he existed, therefore he was weak and without the ability to climb higher."  He shrugged a bit.  "Sammy, you feel all right?"

"I'm fine.  A bit backed up."

"We can go celebrate you finally coming back," Dean teased with a smirk.

"Someone's got to watch Xander," Sam told him.

"Dad can."

"I'm old enough to watch myself," Xander said quietly.

Sam looked at him.  "That's dangerous and you know it."

"So?"  He looked at him.  "I'll be fine.  It's always dangerous and the pets will protect me.  Leave me a gun in case something comes."  He grinned.  "You should go celebrate the happies."

Sam leaned down to hug him.  "Are you sure?"  Xander nodded.  "Okay. But we're leaving you my cellphone so you can get us instantly."  He put it down and Xander handed him something.  "I don't need an allowance, Xander.  We have some cash of our own from the same guys who like you."  He tweaked him on the ear.  "We won't do what?"

"Answer the door, let anyone in, talk to any strange demons, or humans, or leave the room for soda."

"Good," Dean agreed, grinning at him. "Want us to bring you back a candy bar?"

"If you want."

"I can do that."  Xander smiled and nodded.  "You rest.  You were up waiting with me."  He tucked him in better, looking at the pets.  "He'd better be here and safe when we get back."  They chattered and clung more tightly to Xander.  He winked at the boy.  "Pretty soon you can go celebrate with us."  Xander grinned back and they left to have some Winchester family fun in the bar.  Which meant a bar brawl after some pool and Dean picking up some women probably.

Xander tried to go back to sleep but it was loud outside.  He finally got up and looked in the pizza box but he had gotten that for Sam so it wasn't right.  He looked in the wallet he had in John's stuff.  He had plenty of money in it.  He found a motel envelope and the local chinese place was still open.  He decided to order a good feast for them when they got back.  Drunks always needed to eat afterward, right?  He put the money in an envelope and taped it to the door.  He had even remembered a tip and to order a few sodas.  He was proud of himself.  So when someone knocked he looked out the spyhole by standing on the chair he had pulled over.  "Delivery?"  The man nodded.  "Money's in the envelope."  The guy took it off the door and checked it then put the bags down.  "Thank you."  The guy left and Xander waited until he saw the car pull out to open the door.  He nearly jumped when he found Vesvold beside the door.  "Hi, Vessie."  He hauled the food inside with some help.  "Why are you down here?"

"Because you're too young to be alone, even if you did give them the go-ahead," he said dryly.  He petted the creatures he had created and sat down to eat with the boy.  When someone pounded he sighed.  Xander grabbed the phone.  "It's the police, Xander."  He went to answer the door.  "Yes, gentlemen?  Can I help you?"  They came in and stared at him.  "I'm his guardian while his real guardians are out celebrating something."

"We had reports they left a child alone in this room."

"I'm not a child," Xander said dryly.  "No, Herp, don't sniff the officer," he told Dean's pet.  It ran back over to cuddle up next to him under the table.  The officer gave him an odd look.  "What?  I'm allowed to have pets and it's very protective of me.  Vessie gave them to me."  He ate another bite of food.  The officer scowled at Vesvold.

"It is to protect him."  He smiled at the curious person.  "I was a bit late coming to sit with him while his family's out celebrating Samuel getting better."  The manager looked at the food then at him.  "That's what he wanted and paid for out of his trust.  I assure you, the boy's more than capable of handling an hour while I was running late.  He's nearly eleven.  Not prone to playing with weapons either."

"I do know gun safety," Xander agreed.  "And lighter safety."  He ate another bite and smiled at the officer.  "Want some or do you need to keep staring at my underage ass?"  The office flinched at that.  His partner gave him an odd look.  "It's not fully his fault."

"Yes, it is," Vesvold said.  "Even if you were broadcasting, he's an adult and in control of himself, Xander," he corrected firmly.  Xander sighed but slumped down and went back to eating.  "Now, is there anything else, Officers?"  They shook their heads and left.  He looked at the manager.  "He's not two."

"Things like that get a bad reputation on a motel," he sneered back.

"Unlike the drug dealers six rooms up, we're not going to cause any problems."  The manager huffed off.  He closed the door then recalled the pet that had tried to follow the threat.  He called an anonymous tip to the state police's tip line about that one officer through his secretary and settled in to be with Xander until he was really tired again.  The boy was on edge and letting him talk about how bad this felt to be guarded by people who didn't really understand or like him a whole lot would help him deal with it.  Sam loved him and Xander knew that.  Sam saw him as a son they had adopted.  Dean did too some of the time but the recent strain had made that be pushed away for his brother.  Which he explained to the boy.

The boy had never gotten people before so he wouldn't expect him to now.  John's more aloof attitude had bothered him but he was doing his best to do as asked - protect the boy from those who would take him.  He didn't know why he couldn't see that Xander needed a *father* instead of a protector.  Maybe he was bad at people things too.  He'd explain it to him tomorrow by stranding his truck somewhere.  He tucked Xander back in and settled in to read the proposals he had been left for the Council.  Dean and Sam got back first, laughing and joking.  "He's fine."

"Someone turn him in?" Dean demanded.

"Indeed, but the officer who stared too long at the boy got his name passed on."  He rolled up the last scroll.  "He's finally asleep and he said to finish off the food, boys."  He stood up and packed everything back up, petting the boy and the pets on the head.  "Good boy.  You rest, Xander."  He let the boy fall deeper into sleep, smiling at Sam.  "Congratulations, but miss the next two towns.  A hunter prowls that area.  You dying for good would destroy the boy since he does look up to you."  He disappeared, taking his own carton of food with him.

Dean looked at the large stack of boxes.  "How did he order that?"

"The manager said he stuck an envelope with money on the door and had the delivery guy leave it outside.  He waited until he left then came out to get it.  That's when he found Vesvold waiting," John said as he walked in.  He looked at the food.  "Teenager stomach has struck I see."  He sat on his bed.  "You two okay?"

"We're good," Dean promised.  He laid down on his bed.  Sam got the roll away.  Xander was already out on the couch so they'd leave him there.  Dean sat up to finish off some more of the food.  He had worn out some energy with the ladies.  Sam waited until John was out to snag some for himself.  "You okay?" he asked quietly.

Sam nodded.  "I am.  I got over the freaked out part a while back."  He ate a bite and looked.  "Spicy."

"I think he got a bit of everything on the menu," Dean said.  He ate another bite.  He saw Xander shift in his sleep.  "We're back, Xander.  Go back to sleep.  You're safe," he said quietly.  The boy snuffled his pet a few times then went back to sleep.  Dean looked at him.  "So, staying in the passenger's seat?"

"Except for when we three go on that trip, yeah."

Dean smirked.  "Fine.  We'll watch you two get bendy with swords."

"You can too," Sam ordered.  "It'll be good for you to learn another style."  He stuffed his mouth then closed the box and put it into the fridge with the rest.  The mini-fridge in the room only had so much space so they ended up getting some ice for the bathroom sink and the rest of the food.  They'd have it for breakfast.  Sam looked at the two pieces of pizza and sighed.  "Xander," he said, smiling at the boy's back.  "You could have had the last two pieces, buddy.  I wouldn't mind."  He finished them off since Xander clearly decided they were special for him.  He belched then laid down.  "Night, Dean."

"Night, Sammy."  He shut off the lights and laid down to think about things.  Sammy was different now.  He didn't need the same sort of protecting.  He had to figure out where the new boundary lines were drawn since Sammy could protect himself better.  Well, after he got trained he could.  For right now, he was still Sammy, only he was a more invincible Sammy.  Super Sammy without the powers he guessed.  He fell asleep to dream odd thoughts of Sammy as Batman and Wonder Woman for some reason.  The chinese must've been bad.

Sam settled in, ignoring Dean's usual nighttime fussing around before he fell asleep.  His father was already snoring quietly.  He settled in to think about how to ease this for Xander.  Beyond getting him away from the staring people.  The kid wouldn't need that. He burped again but ignored it.  Heartburn would be stopped soon too.  He was nearly asleep when he heard Xander sit up and look around.  Then the boy padded over to curl up with him.  Sam smiled, letting the boy cuddle.  He clearly needed some reassurance tonight.  "Shh, I've got you," he said in his ear.  "You're safe and it's all good."  Xander went limp in his sleep, snuffling into his shoulder for now.  Sam fell asleep holding him.  It was good for both of them.  He'd have to pull something bonehead so Dean would realize he was still Sam, not some strange Sam creature.  So maybe tomorrow he'd trip over his feet or something.


John woke up and went into the bathroom, blinking at the sink full of ice and chinese containers.  "Didn't eat it all?" he muttered.  He went to the bathroom and grabbed a few  for breakfast.  He stopped when he saw Sammy and his extra lump.  Xander's bed was empty.  He frowned, then let it clear up.  Sammy had bonded with the kid like he was a new little brother.  Dean too most of the time.  So it was fine if Xander sought them out for nightmares.  He'd had a few last night about Sam dying permanently too.  He sat down to watch the morning news while he ate.  Dean woke up an hour later and went to do the same thing he had, only stopping to take a shower first.  The rest of the food got pulled out to be eaten for breakfast.  "Boys?" John called quietly.  "Time to get up."

Xander flinched then woke up, looking around like he was scared.  He relaxed after a minute, looking at Sam.  "Usually I sneak back when I need one of those.  Sorry."

"If you need help with the nightmares, come to us," Dean ordered.  He looked at the boy.  "Not like we don't have our own."

"I know."  He went to clean himself up.  Sam patted him on the way to take his own shower.  "Hot water's already iffy."

"It happens at most places," he assured him.  "Go eat."  Xander went to eat while they gathered things to head off into the daylight.  Sam came out to get dressed, taking his clothes back into the bathroom.  He looked at his back.  It had a scar.  He thought he had come to terms with this but the sight of the scar made him feel sick.  He pulled on his usual layers of shirts and then his jeans, heading out to eat breakfast too.  "Thanks for ordering, Xander."

"Not a problem," he said quietly.  He handed Dean back the gun he had left for him last night.  "Yours."

"You get yours when you're older," Dean promised with a slight grin.  He had no idea why the kid was upset.  He glanced at Sam, who shrugged a bit.  The pets got put back into statue form and they hauled everything of theirs out to the cars.  Only one box of food remained and John brought it with him for lunch.  They cleaned the room and checked everything then headed out.  Xander had to come running back in to get his wallet.  It had been on the couch with him last night.  Then he left again.  Dean took it to put into his back pocket.  Xander gave him a sheepish look.  "Next time, just use the card, Xander."

"They won't take a card from a kid my age."

"Good point.  You handled it well.  It was a good plan to stay safe."  He grinned back at him.  "Even if you do think we eat like the army."  Xander blushed and ducked his head.  "Better than we could've done this morning, kiddo."  He grinned and Xander gave him a weaker one back.  "You wanna talk about stuff with Sammy?  He can sit back there with you."

"No thanks.  Vessie and I talked last night."

"Sure," Dean decided, heading off into the sunlight.  "Which way, Sammy?"

"Vesvold said to avoid the next two towns.  There's a hunter who'll come after me," he said quietly.

"Good to know."  He called his father.  "Which way?"  He nodded, heading for the highway to go east.  They had to call on Adam to get Xander and Sam on their road trip.  Plus to stop where Xander's stuff was stored to pick up a few things probably.  He doubted Xander could wear an Iron Maiden t-shirt to another realm.  They might think he was strange there.  He turned on the music, thinking about the boy in the backseat.  He didn't look tired but he was nearly asleep today.  Was he getting sick?  He looked at Sam, who was using the mirror to check on the boy.  "Any idea?" he asked quietly.

"No."  He texted his father when he texted he had a flat.  "Dad's got a flat.  He said to text where we end up."  Dean nodded at that.  He glanced back at Xander since he was so quiet.  He was watching the scenery.  "Want to read something?"

"No, I'm kinda tired," he admitted.  He shifted the seat belts and laid down on his bag.  It was a good pillow.  He'd used it before.  His pet activated and came out to cuddle him.

Dean passed past the first two towns, and the next three too before stopping for gas and lunch.  He went into the convenience store for them while Sam pumped gas.  He saw the ice cream display and had an idea.  That was Xander's lunch.  He could be a bit bouncy today.  That and a soda.  Sodas for him and Sammy.  Then their usual out of the deli case.  He paid for it and the gas, then headed back out, nudging Xander's hand on the window.  "Food?"  He handed over the ice cream and soda, getting an amazed look.  "You look like you need it."  He smirked and tossed Sam the bag, taking his soda so he could drink it while he drove them off.  Sam doled out their food and they settled in to eat up more miles of the road.  Xander was nibbling his ice cream.  Literally.  Not taking large bites, licking the spoon, none of it.  "You feel okay, Xander?"

"I'm fine," he said quickly.

"Ice cream bad?" Sam asked.

"No, it's really good.  Thank you, Dean."  He ate another bite.  "I never noticed all the little flavors before."

Sam turned to look at him once he had swallowed.  "Want to talk about it?"  Xander shook his head.  "You can."

"It's nothing.  Just a mood swing."

"Uh-huh," Sam said dryly.  He gave him a look.  "What did you and Vesvold talk about?"

"This and that.  The road trip.  He said I'll like that style a lot.   It's got stories built into it."  He ate another bite and let his monkey/dog eat a bite too.  He drank the melted ice cream off and ate another bite.  "I asked about stuff when I was older.  He told me how to set up a real house if I wasn't going to take anyone up on their offers.  Which I don't think I want to.  I'd make a sucky pet.  I'd talk back and all that."

"You're not a pet, Xander.  You're a boy.  They're wrong to think of you like a pet," Dean told him.  Neither one saw the grimace the boy hid behind his drink of soda.  "Did you pick an area you wanted to settle in?"

"Not yet.  He said I should get a good sized house so I can have bodyguards who'll help protect me.  Plus room so I can get time away from my future keeper or keepers when we needed it.  He suggested a small town or a really large city I could get lost in if I needed to.  A small town would help protect me when someone came to kidnap me.  The in between sizes aren't big enough for me to get lost in and not small enough to protect me by knowing everyone."

"You can use that and a preference of climate to help you decide.  We'll look at maps and the weather site, Xander," Sam offered.  "Though I'm going to be really bored with only Dean to talk to."

"You guys can visit and not even have to protect me."

Sam stared at him.  "I'm not doing this because you need protected, Xander.  Protecting you is just one part of being a big brother to you.  We're more than your protectors."

"You are," he said quietly.

"No, we all are," Sam corrected.  "Even if Dad is a hard ass about things."  He reached back but Xander ducked away from his attempt to comfort him.  "Okay.  You and me, we're talking tonight.  It sounds like you need to and not like Dean'll listen to anything that might have an emotional bag attached."

"Sue me, some of us don't like to deal with those things," Dean complained.  He pulled over and looked at Xander.  "You're our little brother, Xander.  Protecting you is like protecting Sammy to me.  Same thing, different brother."

"But I'm not."

"Yeah, you are."  He stared at the boy.  "Really, you are.  Protecting you had let us learn how to protect ourselves better too, I won't deny that, but I'm not letting you eat messy things in my car because I'm protecting you.  Those I'm only protecting can eat in a diner."  Xander slumped at that.  "Got it?"  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Now, finish up before that drips?"  Xander nodded, going back to his ice cream.  He and Sam shared a look before he got back on the road.  He had no idea where the kid got that idea from.  "Did a demon tell you that?" he asked finally.  "Maybe that one shot back while you were taunting it?"


"Then where did that thought come from?" Sam asked.  Xander shrugged and finished his ice cream, putting the container into the plastic bag Dean had gotten lunch in.  He finished his soda and tossed it in there too.  He laid back down to go back to his thinking, pretending to nap.  They'd never know and they'd be happier without him.  They could be Dean and Sam like they used to be without him.  They were whenever he was taken so he knew they'd be better off.  They were calmer and more relaxed then.  The next time they stopped he managed to spill something on himself and groaned.  Dean pointed at the public bathroom.  Xander headed that way with his bag.  He came back to the car.  "Can I have my wallet so I can get another soda?"  Dean sighed but handed it over.  Xander bounced off to go change and skip out the other exit of the store.  The clerk gave him an odd look so he shrugged.  "They're better off."  He ran off with his bag.  Most places had a train or a bus station.  He could get to Chicago; Ray would help him.  He knew where he worked and lived so that was fine.  Xander found the train station and walked up to the ticket counter.  "I need to get to Chicago please?"

"You're very young," he said.  "Are you going to visit family?"

Xander stared at him and knew the guy thought he was a run away.  "Going from one family unit to another who'd like me more," he said quietly.  Then he turned and lifted up his shirt to show some of the scars on his back.  He put it back down.  "I'm going to family.  I can pay for it."  He put his wallet in the little window.  "I'll even agree to have a sleeper carriage.  I can get stuff from the pharmacy across the street to nibble on."

The guy stared at him.  Those scars had been horrible.  "Why can't you call someone to deal with it?  They'd send you there."

"With a stopover in some stranger's house," he said bluntly.  "I'm twelve, not four.  I can handle a train trip on my own," he lied.  The guy finally decided it was a good idea and got him the ticket.  "Thank you.  When does it leave?"

"Four hours.  It travels overnight and it'll be there tomorrow night.  You've got a sleeper, that comes with meals."  Xander nodded at that, heading over to the pharmacy to get some things to nibble on and read on the way.  He considered calling the cops but the kid looked pretty healthy and if he didn't want to go to foster care he'd probably lie and head off some other way.  At least this way they'd know he was safe.  He came back and settled into a quiet corner of the station where he could keep watch on him.  He was clearly good at hiding in plain sight.  He almost seemed to merge with the shadows.  So something was seriously wrong with the kids' family.  Two adults came storming in and he knew they were after the kid.  "Do not do anything violent in my station," he snarled.

Dean stared at him and knew the lie the kid used.  "We're not his family.  We're protecting him from his family and taking him to the other family."

"Then why did he run from you two?"

"Because he thinks we don't give a damn," Sam said bluntly.  "And he's wrong."  He pulled Xander up, tossing Dean the bags of stuff and the suitcase.  "Can he cash out his ticket?"

The guy nodded and did that for him.  He stared at Xander, who shrugged.  "I can call someone."

"They're trying to help but I'm a major crimp in their style.  It'd be better if I did it on my own."

"Shut up," Dean ordered.  He stared at him.  "You're not, Xander.  You never have been.  Maybe if you were in diapers, but you're not bothering us.  I don't know where this is coming from but it's wrong."  He walked the kid out to the car and tossed the things into the trunk.  Then he texted his father to hit Chicago without them.  Xander needed to talk.  John sent back a telling response so he called.  "What did Vesvold say?  Because Xander just ran away.  He thinks he's crimping our style."  He listened.  Then he let Sammy listen.  He got in to drive.  Sam got into the passenger's side.  They headed off to find a place to hole up for the night.  Sam finally hung up after a few quiet words.  Dean found them a good abandoned house to hole up in for the night.  It was ratty.  It was in the middle of nowhere so the boy couldn't run away again while they slept.  Xander had thoughtfully gotten them dinner to nibble on while they talked.  Sam checked the house then nodded it was safe and abandoned.  He walked Xander in there.  "What is your malfunction?"

"You're doing all this to protect me. I can go live with Adam and let you guys get back to your normal life.  You're good at going back to it when I'm not there."

Dean wanted to hit something so bad.  Not the kid, but he wanted to hit something.  He looked at Sam.  "Is that true?"

"No, I'm worried sick whenever he disappears, even with us."  He stared at the boy.  "It's not like that, Xander.  We see you like a new little brother.  You may not have been born a Winchester but you were once we found out what you needed help with."  He tipped the boy's face up to make him look at him.  "Where is this coming from?"

Xander pulled away.  "It's the truth.  I've seen it."

"If some demon told you that, they lied," Dean said bluntly.  "Usually we go into a panic."  Xander scowled at him.  "We do.  We did today.  You nearly got a manhunt called but the cashier admitted you headed to the station."  He stared him down, arms crossed over his chest.  "I have never seen you as anything less than a little brother once I knew you did the same job we did and you needed to be reraised.  Never, Xander."

"He may have a point with Dad," Sam said.

Dean stared at him. "Dad's problem is that he knows he can't turn Xander into us.  His hormones would never allow him to be the soldier we are.  He's not sure where the line would be for him."

Xander started to move but Dean stopped him.  "I can pee off the back porch."

"No you can't."  He gave him a look.  "You're damn luck you're not in cuffs."  He stared at him.  "I'm seriously disappointed, Xander."

Xander slumped.  "I'm sorry but it's the truth and I've seen it happen!"

"Xander, we have to protect ourselves just as much," Sam pointed out.  "They want us too.  It's no problem to protect you at the same time."  Xander stared at him.  "Really."

"You guys weren't having a problem until I came along."

"Really?" Dean snorted.  "Sammy there was the world's biggest shitbag and demon magnet on the planet before then.  When we learned about your problems, it told us why he had his."

"Not cute, Dean," Sam said.  He looked outside.  "Yes, Officer?"  He walked out to the door.  "We didn't kidnap him."

"Sir, we were told he was running away from an abusive family."

"Who gave us custody," Dean said.  He went to find the custody papers in the glove box.  The cop saw the gun and reached for his.  "Easy, sparky, I'm wearing one on my back if I wanted to shoot you."   He found them and handed them over then put his into the glove box for a while.  He sat on the car seat, watching him read.  "It wasn't us who hurt him.  He was taken from them and handed to us to protect.  He was trying to get to a family friend because for some reason he thinks he's a strain on us.  I have no idea where he got that idea but it's stupid and wrong."  He took the papers back.  "Really.  We love the guy like he's our little brother."

"The scars he showed?"

"Pre us."

The officer walked inside.  "They do have legal custody paperwork.  Can I see those scars, kid?"  Xander took off his shirt with a sigh.  Both officers winced at the scars. "How in the hell?"

Xander shrugged.  "They fought a lot," he said quietly.

"Why were you running from these two?" the second officer asked.  "And told the guy about that?"

"He wouldn't let me go on my own without it.  They don't need me.  I'm hurting their bond that makes them great brothers by being here.  I'm stressing them out a lot."

"No, you're not," Sam said firmly, glaring at the boy.  "I swear to God I'm going to beat whoever told you that, Xander."

"I saw it, Sam."

"No, you didn't.  You clearly misinterpreted whatever you saw."  He looked at the officers.  "It wasn't us that did that.  We travel with our father most of the time.  He's a bit colder toward Xander but we're not.  I love the little guy like he was  my real little brother.  I have since about the third day we had him."  He handed Xander his shirt.  "Please?  Before Dean gets upset?"

"I've seen 'em," Dean said as he walked inside.  He stared the boy down.  "If we didn't give a damn, Xander, you'd be kept in handcuffs most of the time because you have bad urges."

Xander blinked at him. "But..."

"We wouldn't put up with any of the wackiness you bring to our lives if we didn't like you.  Remember, we didn't have to take you in.  We were going to ask Adam to do that anyway."  Xander looked at them.  "Really.  We were."

Sam nodded.  "I about talked him into it before I realized he thought it was a good idea," Sam agreed.  He looked at the officers.  "I'm sorry he worried the guy."

"No, it sounds like he's had a crappy life and he's having usual abused kid traumas," the first officer said.  "This isn't that unusual.  We've seen this low self esteem in plenty of them."  That got a nod.  "Why are you two here?"

"So no one at a motel would call you guys," Dean said with a small grin.

"Probably a good idea," the second said.  He looked at his partner.  "They're in order?"  That got a nod.  He looked at the boys.  "His original parents?"

"In hell for all I give a damn," Sam said bluntly.  "One of his former friends accused him of raping her when he wasn't even in town during that time."  Xander flinched at that.  "He was younger too."

That got a nod and they made note of it.  "Which town?"

"Sunnydale, out by LA," Dean said.  "We got that straightened out.  We had certified proof he was with us instead of out there.  They knew he hadn't so all they needed was something to prove an alibi."

That got another nod.  "Are you two going to be able to handle this without ripping into him?" the second cop asked.

"The urge to spank is there but I'm holding myself back," Dean assured them.  They both nodded and smiled a bit.  "I'm sorry he worried the guy at the train station."

"I didn't mean to get these two in trouble," Xander said quietly.

The officer looked at him.  "You had a decent enough reason to run the first time, kid.  This time, I think it'd be better if you stuck it out.  He'll understand.  He did when they picked you up.  If you had kicked and screamed about going back we'd have met you at your car."  Xander nodded at that knowledge.  "Now, sit down and actually talk to them.  If they're really like you think they won't."  Xander slumped but sat down on the floor.  "Good boy."  He looked at his partner then at the boys.  "Where you two from?"

"Lawrence, Kansas," Sam said, "but we've been traveling for a while to keep his family off him."

"That's fine."  They had a quiet word with Dean about counseling helping that and then left to report the situation was fine.  The train station guy understood exactly why the kid was running away. That's how he had gotten to their town way back when.  He was more worried about why the kid had so much money on him.  Most kids that age didn't have thousands of dollars.  Clearly a trust fund situation.  Well, these two had to be better guardians.  None of those scars looked like recent ones.

Sam looked at Xander.  "Quit guilt tripping yourself, Xander.  I mean it."  He looked at Dean.  Then at Xander.  "Can we raid the stash you bought at the pharmacy?"  Xander looked at him.  "It's yours, we should ask."

"Go ahead," he said quietly.

Dean went to get some of the sodas and a few bags of chips, bringing them back.  They settled with Xander on the dusty floor, letting him pick first.  Xander picked at his chips, fingering his bracelet.  The pets had been left in the car, for now.  They'd come in at bedtime to protect them.  They seriously needed to talk and Xander needed to learn he could turn to them for comfort.  How long had this been going on in the kid's head?  Usually one of them would've noticed this starting.  Dean looked at Sam for how to start.  He knew nothing about this emotional baggage shit.  Sammy always did that for him.

Sam watched the boy.  "The next convention's in Las Vegas," he said calmly.  "Did you want to go on our trip before or after?"

"You don't have to go."

"I want to go.  I want to see your reactions to traveling.  It's never as much fun to do something like that on your own."  Xander stared at him.  "It isn't."  The boy looked so confused so he slumped.  "Xander, what gave you the idea we became happy when you were gone?"

"You two don't play around when I'm there."

"That's because I'm afraid of shoving the Jolly White Giant there into you," Dean told him.  "I still pick on him, play pranks on him, all that stuff, when you're there.  Mostly Dad stops that before it gets out of hand because he doesn't want to hear it."  Xander looked at him while chewing on a pretzel.  "Honest.  I don't cut it back just because you're around.  I cut it back because Dad's around."

"I've seen you do it when I'm gone.  The last time you made Sam change clothes because you got him with the shaving cream bomb."

"That was pretty cool," Dean agreed happily, smirking at Sam.

"That was over six months ago," Sam told him.

"Three and a half," Xander said.

Dean shook his head.  "Sammy's right.  That was over six months ago.  I'm overdue for a new prank."  He looked at him.  "Let me guess, we were wearing the same clothes?"

"We only have so many outfits.  Of course we end up in the same ones," Sam said, eating a chip.

"Both of you and Dean had the broken shoelace?" Xander asked.

"The last broken shoelace was about then," Dean said, thinking back.  "But I didn't shaving cream bomb you that day.  Stopped up the shower so you had to stand in disgusting water.  That's why you broke my bootlace."

"Did a demon show you that?" Sam asked.  Xander nodded while he ate another pretzel then reached for another bag.  "Why did you get it if you don't like them?"

"I might want them in two or three days.  I take those moods."

Sam stared at him.  "Dad was drunk and said what?" he asked after a few minutes of staring.  "Because I know he did.  He used to at me."  Dean gaped.  Sam nodded.  "It's not often and it's always when he's too stressed out."  He looked at the boy, then he took off his bracelet since he was playing with it again.

"I need that.  Otherwise the bad things will come again," he said, trying to get it back.  "They'll take us all and I'll be some disgusting sex slave."

Dean took it from Sam and put it into his pocket.  "You have some control over that, Xander, and you need to work on it now and then.  You can't always rely on the bracelet."  He made the boy look at him.  "What did Dad say?"

Xander slumped again.  "That I was a pampered and spoiled princess.  That he didn't know how I had done anything on my own before."  He looked at them.  "That he'd find me a keeper when I hit the right age so you two can go back to what you need to be doing to get rid of more evil demons."

"About four months ago?" Sam asked.  Xander nodded quickly, looking down.  "I was wondering why Dad couldn't look at you the next day," he said, looking at Dean as he pulled Xander over for a cuddle.  "Drunks say stupid shit they don't mean, Xander."

"Then the demon probably built on top of that," Dean realized.

Sam nodded.  He made the boy look at him.  "Demons lie, Xander.  That's a fundamental truth of the universe.  They lie to get what they need.  They cheat, they steal, all that.  They lie better than Dean does when he's picking up women."  Xander gave him an uneasy look.  "He probably arranged the viewing so it showed what he wanted.  Dean still pranks me all too often."  He gave the boy a squeeze.  "You being there doesn't stop that."  He felt the boy stiffen and looked around.  "Dean, incoming."  He tossed him his gun so he could roll to face the demon when it appeared.  "What do you want?" he sneered, shifting Xander to protect him better.

"You should not have to endure this hovel of filth," he told the boys.  "You all deserve better."  He took them and their disgusting dinner with him.  They were put into his harem's living quarters and he sent his spouse in to fuss over them.  She seemed harmless and they wouldn't protest her.  He went to call Vesvold.  "I rescued the one that you protect.  They were staying in filth on the floor!  They were eating disgusting things that have no nutritional value!  How dare you let ones of their kind live like that!"

"They had stopped overnight to talk to the boy about what some demons had said to him," he said bluntly.  "Put them back before they attack you and yours.  They are demon hunters."

He snorted.  "No longer.  That is beneath their skills.  They can watch over the boy until he is of age for you to have him."  He hung up and went to watch over them.  He would train the two lesser ones.  They were not as prestigious but he would not want to bother Vesvold or any other of his kind over a pretty one like the child would turn into.  He saw the two adults arguing and grimaced.  They would learn their places soon enough.  When one made a threatening move with his weapon he walked in there.  "Do not harm my wife.  She is trying to get you to bathe off the stench you carry.  It is very pleasurable.  We have had others of your kind and Quarth up here before.  I am not a bad owner of my pets."  He sent them into the bathing chamber then went to get their meager possessions so they wouldn't worry.  The loud one had an attachment of some sort to his car.


Dean stared at the locked door then at them.  "What the fuck?" he demanded.

"Welcome to my life," Xander said grimly.  "Two ways out.  Out stubborn or kill him.  We could try making him beg but I don't know how to force my hormones up.  It's still hit or miss."

"We can do that?" Sam asked.  Xander nodded. "How?"

"You think them into a spike.  You have to be careful because if they go too high then you're in danger of being cloudy headed."

Sam nodded, concentrated on smutty thoughts.  He felt his fuzzy feeling of backlog come back.

"Dude, making my eyes water with it," Dean complained.

Sam smirked.  "It works."

Xander looked around the bathroom.  "If we don't bathe, he'll send someone in to scrub us."  He took off his shirt but Dean stopped him.  "He will.  They do that."

"Hostages are not cooperative, Xander.  We do not cooperate with anyone or anything that takes us hostage.  If they want us less dirty they can try to send someone in and we'll send them to meet their maker.  You don't have to give in until you can kill it."  Xander gave him a confused look.  "Sammy, didn't you go over this with him?"

"Most of the ones I've been taken on they were talking up their estates and realms," Sam told him.  "Not kidnaping him; letting him know the merits of letting them court him."

"I should have my bracelet back," Xander said.

"No, that's a weapon you can use, Xander.  We'll teach you how.  We should've before."

Sam shrugged.  "He didn't tell me we could think them higher.  Neither did Adam."

Dean sighed.  "Okay, let's go back over GHS 101 with me since I apparently slept through a few lectures and so did you.  How did you learn that, Xander?"

"Ray and Adam told me I could do that to stun someone and make them take me home."  He sat down on the bench that appeared.  Sam pulled him up and kicked it over.  "It was comfy."

"It's from that one and the more we comply the more he thinks he's winning."

Xander scowled.  "But then that makes it easier to lead him on so you can kill him."

"By then, we'd be slept with," Dean told him bluntly.  "Sometimes that works but sometimes it doesn't."  Someone knocked on the door then a basket with clothes appeared.  "No thanks, we like our regular clothes."

"They are not appropriate for men such as yourselves," a female voice called back.  "It is unseemly."  She walked off.  Her husband was monitoring the situation she was sure.  They always tried to get away at first.

Dean looked at the clothes then held up a pair of pants.  "Not my style."  He tossed them back.  He sat down on the side of the tub again, looking back when it started to fill on its own.  He looked at the boy again.  It'd keep itself from overflowing or not, he didn't care.  "How do you raise them?"

"I thought smutty thoughts to send myself into a surge like you get before you release," Sam told him.

Dean nodded, concentrating on his.  It worked and he smirked. "Good to know.  Are there any other offensive uses?"  Xander shrugged.  "What else did they teach you to do in emergencies?"

"I'd get that when I hit puberty.  I'm too young for that and his clan can kill him for taking me this way at my age."

"Demons don't like pedophiles either.  Good to know," Sam said.  He looked at the tub then at Dean.  "It even smells like your aftershave, dude."

"I don't care.  I'm not a demon whore."  He looked at Xander again.  "Okay, beyond that, do you have any other strategies if they try stuff?"  Xander slowly shook his head.  "Then we'll teach you.  We've ran into some sick bitches on the road with dad when we were younger so Dad taught us some stuff.  He should've been teaching you but he's had that shotgun up his ass again."

"Sideways some days," Sam agreed.  The water turned itself off and bubbles floated out.  "Someone's a literary demon.  He read Harry Potter."

Xander cackled.  "That's mean, Sam."

"He did."

"Maybe they came up with it first and she saw one," Xander offered.  "Maybe Vesvold has some guards that can come rescue us?  I know he has a few."

"Better to get yourself out than to wait for rescue but not a bad plan," Dean agreed.  "If you can contact him, ask for it."  Xander nodded.  The boy reached for his bracelet.  "No.  Leave it off.  You need to learn some control of it before you get all the puberty hormone surges we all had."  Xander gave him a horrified look.  "Puberty is when you hit manhood, Xander.  It's your body changing into the adult version of you.  That means things have to grow and that requires hormones.  Plus you get really horny.  We were going to ask Adam to have that talk with you when we got there.  Dad gave us lectures on how to control it before it controlled us."

"Which did jack the morning I woke up with my first hard-on," Sam complained.  He looked around the bathroom for weapons.  The demon was thorough but they were better than average.  "Xander, can you see if you can use your magical gift to call something like a sword?"  Xander concentrated, then shook his head.  "Just in here?"  He nodded.  "When we get out there, call one, okay?"

"Yes, Sam."  He looked at Dean.  "They're going to burst in here and scrub us.  That's humiliating."

"If they try, you get behind Sammy and let us kick their asses," Dean said firmly.  He pulled the boy closer.  "We do not cooperate with hostage takers, Xander.  Doing that means we give up sooner.  The longer you fight, the more it wears out their side."  Xander nodded at that wisdom.  "Beyond that, there's no way in hell some evil bastard is going to get me into flimsy pants you can see through in front of you, since you're still a kid, and there's no way in hell I'm putting up with some bitch taking us this way.  You need to learn more self defense."

"That's why the three of us are going on the road trip," Sam reminded him.

Dean nodded.  "I get that."  He stood up when the door was knocked on.  "What?"

"Are you three nearly done?"

"We're not cooperating," Dean said.

There was a sigh then the door opened and a huge demon walked in.  "The master wants you three bathed and appropriately clothed for dinner.  Otherwise he has said that he will destroy that which he brought up that you held dear."

Xander stared at him.  "He brought up the car?"  The demon nodded.  "Huh."  He looked at them then glared at the demon.  "I'm not of age for this yet."

"They will raise you until you are then the Councilor Vesvold will take care of you, as he has stated he would do."

"Fat fucking chance, dude," Dean sneered.  "No one touches the kid or us."  The demon sighed again and reached for him but Dean beat at him.  Sam got his other side.  Xander backed away and concentrated really hard.  A sword came in and he took a swing at the demon's leg.  It screamed in pain and limped away, the door being shut again.  "Thanks," Dean panted.  He took the sword.  "That's damn handy."

"Welcome," he said quietly.  He rubbed his head.  "It was on a wall outside the room."

They nodded and got ready for the next attack.  At least they only had a small gateway.  They never counted on the gas that came out of the air ducts.  So when they woke up the sword was gone and they were all freshly scrubbed and reclothed.  Dean could see his precious car outside their window.  He checked on the boys.  Xander was still out.  He checked his pulse, relieved he felt one.  Sammy was waking up.  "We got gassed."

"Then I got stabbed," he said, rubbing his stomach.  "They know what I am."

Dean shrugged.  "Won't help 'em any."  Xander moaned then rolled to his side and threw up.  "It was too strong for him."  They got Xander back into the bathroom before he could heave again and helped him settle his stomach down.  One of the demons brought in some water and a new set of clothes.  "You could've killed him.  We're not touching anything you bring us, lady."

"I did not drug him.  You were stubborn.  It did not have to be that way."

Xander stared at him then muttered something in Latin, making her scream and run off with her hair on fire.  "I don't feel very good."  He went back to heaving into the toilet.  "I want Adam or Vesvold," he whined a minute later.

Dean gave him a hug once he got him cleaned up.  "I know, Xander.  It'll be okay."  He noticed his dampening bracelet was back on so he took it off him again.  Xander felt better.  "Having that sucked off makes you feel rotten."  They let him change into the new clothes but that was it.  They came out to find the head demon scowling.  "You could've killed him."

"Then next time, don't be so stubborn."

Xander glared at him. "Vesvold would kill you for hurting me."

"You're merely a human," he reminded him. "He may grieve but not forever."

Xander snickered.  "Am I really?"  He pulled himself up to his full height.  "We do know that I'm under a deaging curse?  That I was a demon hunter in my own right before then?"

"That explains how you used the sword."  He smirked.  "Good to know.  I won't underestimate you next time."

Xander snickered.  Then he looked up, praying hard to Hecate and Strife.  He had gotten some prayers answered from Strife over the last year and a half.  An idea hit him and he chanted the words, drawing on the native power of the realm.  It started to unravel and his head was throbbing.  "Move," he said.  They headed for the car.  It wasn't native to the realm.  Dean got out to check the trunk but they hadn't touched it yet.  He got back in and Xander was on the hood finishing the chant.  There were screams and then a black hole started to open.  He shook his head, going back over it again, and then a third time.  The screaming finally stopped and they were alone.  He looked up.  "Hey, Vesvold, can we get home now? Before I have to puke again?"  They were taken by another demon.  "We want the car," Xander ordered.

"I cannot move something that size."

Xander snorted.  "I can and I'm less powerful than you are."  The car appeared behind them in the entry way.  "Thank you, whoever did that."  He looked at the demon again.  "We want to go home.  Now."

"That is not allowed.  You managed to destroy a noble family."

"Fuck 'em," Dean said. "He stole us."

"Your kind are meant to be pets," he said snidely.  They and the car were taken again.

Dean and Xander looked around.  The car was untouched.  Dean checked the trunk and tossed Xander a t-shirt since he wasn't wearing a shirt at all.  No Sam.  "Where's Sammy?"

"His kind can unravel a few realms," the female demon walking in noted calmly.  "I sent him to your natural realm so he would be safe."  She looked at Xander then smiled and bowed a bit.  "I mean you no harm, young one.  Relax and let the magic go before it fries your mind and you truly are nothing but a pleasure to look at and sniff."  He sighed but let it go.  "Very good."  She looked at Dean. "You are safe.  I could have sent your weapons with him.  I have no intention of making you my pet.  I don't need pets.  They do my kind no good.  Would you like some food?"  The boy turned green so she created a bowl before he could get sick on her rugs.  She let the human help the younger one of his own kind.  They were quite confusing.  She only needed a few things and then her plans would be complete.  "I brought you here so I could request an exchange for saving you."

"What?" Dean asked, staring her down.

She smirked.  "I need the blood of two hellmouth babies born.  You and he are both such.  I don't need much.  Enough to fill a small vial.  It is for a very strong spell."

"That does....?"

"Many things but will take out some of my enemies."

"Not humans?" Xander asked, staring at her.

"Not specifically.  I am in no way desiring the mudhole you humans have turned your realm into."

Xander stared at her.  "Swear it on your blood relatives?"  She stared at him.  "We would."

"I'll consider that.  Until then let me show you to a better place to succor him."  She led them to a nice bedroom with an attached bathroom and left them there, with the door unlocked.  That young one was crafty.  He had to be so he could get away she guessed.  She went to look them up in the book of demon hunters.  The young one looked too familiar.

Dean got Xander cleaned up and settled him into bed, heading out to the car for a minute to get them both real clothes and weapons.  He was not going to be unarmed at the moment.


Sam landed next to John, falling to his knees to heave his guts up.  "Oh, God."

"Sammy?" John asked.  He came over to help.  "What happened?"

Sam glared at him.  "You hurt him.  I'm going to kick your ass."


Sam shoved him off, getting to his feet, leaning against the truck. "You called him a spoiled princess?"

John went pale. "I was drunk.  I had no idea what I was saying."

"Xander decided we'd be better off without him and ran away.  Fortunately we got there before the train did and got him back."  He gave him another shove.  "Then we got taken with him."

"I was hoping that's why you were wearing the see-through pants."

Sam glared hotter.  "Xander believed the only way he could get free was by enticing and then slaying."  He gave him another shove.  "Did we not think about giving him the same anti-dirtbag lectures we got?"

"I didn't know he needed it!"

"Of course he did!" he shouted.  He glared at him.  Then he looked around.  "Vesvold, can I go help them?"

Vesvold appeared.  "No.  Such as you are would rip that realm apart.  They're safe.  A third, more dangerous, one of us has taken them but only wants a few drops of blood for a spell.  Xander had backlash from earlier.  I can't get to where they and the car are without causing an incident that would create a war for my people."  They shared a look.  "Did you not think to teach him?" he asked calmly.

"Dad was working on all his self defense.  Half the time I was the only one talking to the boy like he was family."

"It still hurts him.  Time does run quicker there.  He'll come back a bit older."  He looked Sam over. "I would change."  John tossed over his bag of clothes for Sam, letting him stomp off to change.  He looked at John.  "I know you did not have time to change after our talk.  I would hope you had seen some of the light afterward."

"I never meant to say those things to him."

"Hmm. Yet they do happen now and then.  Yes, Xander was meant to be a pampered, favored concubine but the life of a concubine is not all pleasure and quite often it is more fighting to not be murdered by those around you."  He left, leaving the family to argue while he tried to do something to get them back to their native planet.

John looked over as Sam came out redresesd.  "I'm going to apologize to him, son."

"You'd better."  He stared him down.  "Do you think Dean and I are the same sort of princess?  Because we can be just as bad as he is."

"You two are well trained to defend yourself."

"So was he before he was hit."

John slumped.  "I keep forgetting that.  I was hoping he'd find someone good to help him when he hit the right age without going to one of them."

Sam took a swing and hit him.  "He heard how you were going to find him one, Dad."  He got the truck's keys and got in.  "I'll be in Chicago."  He took off, leaving his father to handle things.  There were a few people at the gas station and they had seen it all.

John pulled himself up.  "I'm going to paddle them all later," he decided.  "Right after I apologize."  He went to pay for the gas and find a way to the bus station.  Sam would go to Adam.  They were close to Chicago.  If not, he was heading for Bobby or Caleb.  He found a payphone and called them both.  Thankfully he had his wallet on him.  "Caleb, John.  Sammy took my truck to go save Xander and Dean from whoever has them this time.  If you see him, find some way to let me know?  No, it was in the truck.  Punched me and took the keys.  Screaming fight because I had gotten drunk and said something I shouldn't to Xander.  Yeah, the liquor talked and the boy listened.  I've been trying but he's only ten."  He nodded.  "Thanks, Caleb.  Put it around for me?  Especially Jim or Bobby?  He's heading for Chicago probably but maybe to Bobby since one of those things took them."  He nodded.  "Thanks, man.  Heading for Chicago.  Bus."  He smirked.  "Wyathville?"  He nodded.  "Good to know.  Thanks, Caleb."  He hung up and headed for the local bus station.  By now it was all over town. Some righteous parent would be kicking his ass soon if he didn't leave.


Sam stormed into Bobby's house.  "I need to know how to get the various demon realms."

Bobby blinked.  "They take the boy again?"

"Yup.  And Dean and me but they kicked me out first.  Apparently being me would've hurt their pitiful little realm."  He growled.  "It's bad enough Dad got into one of his drunken complaining moods on the boy.  Then Xander decided we're better off without him so he tried to run.  Then we got kidnaped that night."  He stared at his family's friend.  "I need to get up there to save them."  Bobby handed over the note he had gotten.  He read it.  Then he snorted.  "I don't care if she is releasing them tonight.  I'm going to go destroy the bitch!"

"Calm down," Bobby ordered.

"No, I'm not!"

"Calm down!" he snapped.  "If they're hurt then we can go destroy her.  Until then, let's get ready to handle whatever's going to happen."  He stared the young man down.  "Did you really knock John down and steal his truck?"  Sam smirked as he nodded. "Good job, boy."  He smirked back.  "Every now and then your daddy needs his head rearranged."

"Don't tempt me.  I've been frantic for the last few days."  He sat down.  "Who called?"

"Caleb.  Your daddy got him and had him call around.  He thought you might be hitting Chicago."

"We were going there originally."  He found the house phone and pulled out his calling card to call Adam.  "It's Sam.  Our plans went to hell thanks to a kidnaping.  Can we meet you in Vegas in a few weeks?  North Dakota.  Hoping Xander and Dean get back here tonight."  He listened.  "That's what Vesvold said."  He listened to the reason for it.  "Uh-huh.  So I have to find her down here to kill her?  I can do that."  He snickered.  "Thanks, Adam.  And for making the reservations for us too."  He hung up and leaned back.  "He made reservations for us at the hotel the convention is going on at.  We're heading from here to take that road trip first.  That'll only take a week and the convention's in about three he said."  He rubbed his eyes.  "I so want to kill her."

"We'll find her and do her in too," Bobby soothed.  "Why don't you go shower and change into something that fits?"

"All my clothes are in the car."

Bobby pointed.  "I keep that emergency bag for John, Sammy."  He grinned and went to check it out, finding something in there he could wear.  He hadn't went up in jeans sizes in years and Dean's t-shirts still fit him too.  He showered and changed, coming out to find Bobby cooking.  "Before you say it, I was bored anyway."  He smirked.  "How's it been otherwise?"

"Dad didn't teach Xander about the assholes who prey on children.  Xander was using a bait and then kill strategy to get free."

Bobby moaned.  "That makes no damn sense."

"Dad looks at it like he's protecting Xander until he can hand him off to a keeper," Dean said as he came in the back door with Xander behind him.  "We've been talking."  He looked at Xander.  "I have no idea why he's aging so fast."

"Adam said someone higher up said he'd be going over the first time within six years," Sam said quietly.

"Ah.  So that's helping him not stay a kid forever.  Good to know."  He gave Xander a hug.  "See, Sammy's fine."  Xander pounced him to hug him.  He looked at Bobby.  "Can we clean up?"

"Sure.  You know where the bathroom is."  They walked that way.

"Where's Dad? I can see his truck."

"I kinda knocked him down and stole it," Sam told him.

Dean smirked.  "Way to grow balls, Sammy."  He went to shower and change.  Xander came in after him because he took longer.  He came back to the kitchen.  "Xander's thinking about growing his hair out."

"I noticed it was longer.  How long were you guys up there?"

"'Bout six months," Dean admitted.  "He seems to be a bit older though."

Xander came out talking to Adam on his cellphone, much happier.  "Of course I'll do that, Adam.  Sure.  Only a week is good and that'll give us more than enough time to hit Las Vegas for the convention."

"Ask him if he knows why you're aging so fast off the planet," Dean said.

Xander looked at him.  "Strife asked very nicely so I'm not stuck as some pimpled teenager forever."  He went back to listening and giggling, smiling at his buddy's words.  "Thanks, Adam.  With Bobby.  Umm.  I don't know.  Sam, Dean, he wants to know if he should run John through or just tell him to meet us in Vegas."

"Meet us in Vegas for the convention," Sam said.

"After," Dean corrected.

Sam looked at him.  "He's got to get comfortable with what we both are, Dean.  During."

"He'll freak."

"So?  About time he got comfy with the idea that we have hormone spikes too."

"Fine.  But if he goes on a drinking binge...."

"I'll throw him into the Canal in the Venice."

"That may work," Bobby admitted.

"They decided to have him show up and be silent during the convention, Adam.  I know, but he won't say anything and it'll be an extra, horrified, but protective person.  Thanks, man.  Love you."  He hung up.  "He'll tell him later once he has food poisoning."  He hugged Bobby.  "Can I help cook?  I should probably learn since it looks like I won't get to leave the house too much."

"Sure, we can work on that.  When are you guys leaving?"

"Tomorrow.  Strife said he'd send us."  Bobby gave him an odd look.  "My father offered me to him if he'd let him win a poker game."

"Shitbag," Dean muttered.

"Really?  No clue about that," Xander joked.  Sam gave him a hug and he relaxed.  "I'm sorry, Sam."

"After dad, of course you thought that," he soothed.  "The demons lied to you, we were grumpy.  I'm happy it didn't happen sooner."  The boy grinned.  "Do we have to shop?"

"No, she called in her tailor and had clothes made for him," Dean said dryly.

"Vesvold said I'd need the leather pants this time."

"Vesvold touches you before you're at least sixteen and I'm shooting his ass," Dean said.  "Eighteen preferably."

"Yes, Dean."

"Thank you."  He gave him a nudge on the shoulder.  "Wash your hands and help Bobby."  He did that while they set the table and went over the list of what they needed to bring.  Dean was going to be bringing guns and ammo anyway, no matter what Strife said, but that was him being him.  They'd get over it when he blasted the first thing that tried to hurt Xander.


The trio faced off with Strife early the next morning.  It was so early Xander was still pouty.  Dean gave him a soda so he'd quit being so pouty.  Strife grinned at that.  "A few questions?" Sam asked.

"Sure, go ahead," Strife agreed, hopping up to sit in mid air.


"Gems."  He pointed at Xander's backpack.  "I unloaded a few of his tip boxes and another one he had that Adam was dealing with."

"Can they be easily changed there?" Dean asked.  "I know pawn shops aren't universal."

"Gems are easier for travelers, no exchange rate," Sam told him.  "But every major village should have someone who can?"  Strife nodded. "Okay.  Clothing?"

"You're not gonna pass for native," he said dryly.

"I didn't figure we would but are there decency codes?  Like if we're caught without a shirt on we'll be stoned?"


"Language?" Xander asked.  "How easy is it to pick up?"

Strife considered it then ran a hand over their three foreheads.  "It'll help.  It's only tha basics, I don't know it all."

"We can learn from there," Sam assured him with a grin.  "Transportation is ours or yours?"

"Yours.  Can't use the car.  Have to buy nags."

Dean grimaced.  "I'm gonna hate being on a horse.  My ass'll never recover it's fantastic look."

Sam looked at him.  "Now and then you sound like the Queen of Hunters."

"Bite me, Samantha."

Strife cackled.  "You two are such fun."  He stared at Dean.  "Guns?"

"Yeah.  Just in case."

Strife grimaced and added the other three packs he had waiting on them.  Then considered Xander and added another two for him.  "Town's only a few clicks away."  They nodded at that.  "Do not get into trouble.  If Xander wants ta be a political person, let him.  He might find that level of intrigue good.  Goes well with his nature anyway."  They all nodded.  "By the time you come back, he'll be legal."

"He'll age that much?" Dean asked.  Strife nodded.  "Will I?"  Strife shook his head. "We're sure?"

"Yup.  Special dispensation.  No one wants a young teen in the game.  The last one was a huntah of bad proportions."  He hopped back to his feet.  "So this one, then our realm so he can take lessons at Cupe's and Ares, right?"  They nodded.  "Bring the horses too."  He opened the portal and let them carry stuff through with them.  Xander came back to give him a hug so he gave him an extra bag of jewels, in case he needed it for bribes.  Xander would make a fantastic courtesan some year.  The Fates had some interesting things to say about them too.  Especially after Dean came over.  He felt something go wrong and looked then sent the packs back to them.  He also put back all the gems.  Stupid spells.  Ares appeared and straightened it out for him.  "Thanks, Unc."

"Xander's still warping magic."  He looked at them then added another bag of gems.  Strife gave him an odd look.  "They'll need it for ransoms."  He disappeared.  Strife did too once the portal was closed.

Bobby had been in the kitchen watching.  He wasn't sure he wanted to be near a mischief or a chaos god.  So he had stayed out of the way.  He called John to let him know the boys were off on their trip.  The youngest did seem very excited.  He was way too bouncy that morning.


Dean saw the village first and sighed in pleasure.  "Civilization."

"I don't see a market," Sam told him.

Xander put his bags down.  "We can ask.  They should have an inn or something."  He pointed at the guy he could see riding their way.  "Or we could ask him."

The guard rode up toward them and stopped, looking at them.  "Foreign born?" he asked.

"I was sent to learn that dance style that could help with my self defense," Xander told him in the same language, kinda.

"Whoever taught you our language should be gutted," he said dryly.

"We're trying to be inconspicious," Sam said with a grin.  He was trying to look harmless, nice, and about a foot shorter so the man wouldn't think he was a threat.

The guard looked them all over.  "Why come this way?"

Xander pointed behind them.  "We got dropped off back there.  Is there a place in town we can exchange things for money and get horses?"

"Not this town.  It's too small for either thing.  What do you have to exchange?"  Xander pulled a stone out of the bag in his pocket.  The guard looked impressed.  "That's very nice.  I can tell you you'll need sturdy horses.  It's a fairly long journey."

"That's fine.  My guardians and I can handle that."

"You're experienced in woods lore?"

"In our native area," Dean agreed.  "We've camped on and off for years due to work."

He studied him.  "Soldier?"

"We hunt bad things that hurt people," Sam said.

"Ah."  He nodded, looking at the boy.  "Are you sure you want to learn?  It will change you."  Xander held up his hand.  "What?"


He did and moaned, weaving a bit in his saddle.  "You're one of the cursed.  You're very young."

Xander nodded.  "I got cursed from twenty-two to ten again too."

"You come to learn to protect yourself or to take up the dance and find a worthy spouse to protect you?"

"To protect myself but if it helps me find a spouse I'm not going to protest once I'm of age," he said with an impish grin.

The guard laughed.  "I can see that.  Let me tell my commander.  Having you in a real town could get dangerous.  Or the market.  The nearest one is a day in the wrong direction for you by horse or carriage but it would be safer."  He looked at them.  "Wait here.  I'll be back in a few hours."  He turned his horse and rode off.

"They know GHS here," Xander said.

"That's not exactly a bad thing," Dean said.  He counted bags.  "Xander, go find the one we dropped?"  He ran off to do that since he had more energy.  The boy got back before the guard did.  They settled down with the bags, Dean looking inside them to see what they had packed for them.  A few things got a dirty look.  "More skimpy pants."

"Maybe we'll need them to work out in," Xander said.

"Maybe," Sam agreed.  Dean glared.  "It won't hurt you to learn some of it either, Dean."

"Whatever."  He heard hoofbeats and repacked that bag, tying it shut and standing up.  The guard was back with another, older guy in the same uniform.  "Morning."

The guard smiled.  "That one is one of the cursed ones.  The ones that the legends speak of but we have not had for ages untold.  His scent showed me that because I am not attracted to children."

The older guard sniffed the boy's hair then moaned, nodding.  "He is.  Where are you three going?"

"I'm being sent to learn your dance style and self defense," Xander told him.  "These are my guardians, Sam and Dean."

The older guard nodded.  "Then it's best you go to the main palace.  No horses?"

"We couldn't travel with them," Sam told him.

"Hmm."  He looked then stabbed them both before his guard knocked out the boy.   He was a precious thing and rich.  It would bring a lot of money to the village.  They were finishing packing up their bags to be gone through when first one then the other gasped and came back.  "What are you?" he demanded.

"His big brother," Sam said, hopping up to snap their necks and take their horses if they had to.  Dean groaned, holding his head.  "I know about the buzz.  It'll get better soon, Dean."

"You knew!" he demanded.

Sam looked at him.  "No, I didn't know.  If I had I would've warned you."  He came over to help his big brother up.  "I'm sorry, Dean.  If I had known I would've told you."

"Don't you dare hug me or some girly shit," Dean growled.

Sam grinned.  "Fine, I won't.  Wake Xander up?"  He finished tying the corpses down and put the last few bags on the saddle, taking the reins to walk them back to the village.  Someone would surely want them back.  He heard Xander wake up and yelp in surprise, hugging Dean for both of them.

"I'm fine.  Quit hugging."

"Shut up!" Xander ordered, squeezing harder.  "I thought you died!"

"I'm tougher than that.  If demons can't, some queer little guards in tights sure won't."  He walked the boy after Sam and the horses.  "Can't we take theirs?" he complained.

"No, Dean.  That would be horse theft and we can probably be put to death for that."

"Fine."   He put an arm around Xander's shoulders, smiling because he was still short enough to do that to.  The gate had more guards and Sam handed over the horses once he had their bags off.  "They tried to take our little brother hostage.  They were going to tell us where we could get money exchanged and buy horses to travel with, plus how to get to the palace?"

The new head guard looked at them.  "Why would he?"

"I was sent to learn that dance style," Xander said quietly.  "The old guy tried to stab my family."

The guards all sighed and nodded.  They could see the spilled blood.

"There is not a good money changer here or horses for sale usually," one said.  "The best bet is the market a day's ride that way," he said with a point.  They nodded.  "Let me ask to see if anyone's going that way so you can go with them.  That way you can bring all your bags."  He went to talk to the head market seller in town.  Two days.  He came back.  "He said he's going in two days.  We do have a small inn but it's not much."  Xander held up a gemstone.  "That is worth more than the building."

"Can we use it to help pay our way up to the market?" Sam asked.  The guards all nodded.  "Then may we do that?"

"You may," the head guard agreed.  He helped get their things that way and brought the market seller to them to talk to them.  The inn owner promised to split the profits of the sale of the stone with him for their transportation fee.  They settled in to talk, rest, and work on repacking the bags so they made more sense.  Dean thought they were still missing a bag so Xander tried to summon it.  Then he tied it with another one since it kept getting lost.  Sam snickered on his bed but that was fine.  They decided to push the two beds together and give Xander the middle spot.  It was safer for him right now.  And them.


Xander felt like he should know the guy selling the horses.  He looked so familiar.  The guy was staring at him in horrified awe too.  He smiled.  "Do I know you?"

"You're Xander."

"It's a curse, dude," Sam said as he walked up behind Xander.  "He got deaged by one of the pros at the brothel."

"Ah!  No wonder."  He smiled.  "Why are you on this plane?"

"Learning that self defense and dance style."

"Interesting.  Why come to me?"

"We couldn't drive here," Sam told him.

"Quite true.  Has he picked out a teacher?"

"One of the guards at the last village said to go to the palace."

"Usually you need a special invitation and a lesser teacher to send you."

"Is there one here?" Xander asked.

"There is one at the inn.  What else did you need?"

"Horses or something to ride on."

Dean came back with four bags full of the local coins.  "I only sold three stones."  He handed them to Sam since he had the bigger pockets.

The seller looked at him then backed away slowly.  "I know of your reputation."

"That's why Xander's like a little brother."

"I see.  Go see the local teacher then come back.  I only have slightly used horses right now.  I'm expecting some better ones tonight."

"We have no idea how to ride," Dean admitted quietly.

"That would be fixed as well."  They nodded and he pointed for their benefit.  Xander bounced off to see the teacher while he went to see if anyone had a small carriage they were selling.

Xander found the teacher and beamed at him.  "I was told to come see you."

He looked the boy over.  "You're a bit too old."

"I just got sent to learn so I could defend myself better," Xander said.  "Besides, I'm only twelve."

The teacher stared at him then his guardians, then back at him.  "Do you know any of it yet?"

"Not yet.  Someone who does sent me here.  We were told to find a local teacher to look him over and recommend where he should be," Sam told him.

"Very well.  We will see if you have what it takes to learn the art of the body."  He took his purchases and walked them off to his rooms at the inn.  Xander was stripped down to his pants and shoes.  The teacher did the same so he could move with him.  Xander followed along, but it wasn't great.

"Xander, bracelet," Dean said.  Xander took it off and tossed it back.  Then he tried it again.  This time it was much smoother.

"That inhibits his rhythm?" the teacher asked.

"It's to keep his hormones down," Sam corrected.  "They surge in all three of us."

The teacher gave the boy a look then did something that required more grace.  Xander followed along and he nodded.  "He could use training.  He may not be one of the best but it does suit his body."  He looked at them.  "It could help you both as well."  Sam nodded at that.  "Do you have the funds to set up a small house and hire a lesser master as a trainer?"

"We have some funds," Dean admitted.  "We're not sure how that would translate in local money."

The teacher sighed.  "How much?"  Dean pulled out the rest of the bag of gemstones.  "That will probably keep you for at least a year.  At that time, he may be more eligible for training at the palace."  He sat down at his desk to write out a note.  "Go here.  It is in a major city.  Let the teacher I'm sending you to help you find a spot."  He added that at the bottom to help them since they were outlanders.  He handed it to Dean, who tucked it into his pocket.  "The training will help him but most boys get sent to us at puberty."

"He's got about a year before then," Sam said.

"That should be enough time to get him acclimated and settled down."  He stroked over the boy's hair.  "The Gods and the Old One love those who the dance calls to."  He looked at them.  "He may end up with a patron."

"He's not for sale," Dean said.  "For fun one's he's old enough but not for sale."

"There are those who would like him for that purpose."

"We're already very careful of him," Sam promised.  That got a nod.  "We'll make sure they don't take him."

"Very well then.  Head that way.  Are you leaving tonight?"

"We had to find a way to travel that way.  Our things are at the inn on the other end of the market since we came from that way."

"That's reasonable.  You could hire a coach."

"You can?" Xander asked.

The teacher nodded.  "You can.  If the horse trader doesn't have something for you, have him arrange it.  He can do that."  They nodded and shook his hand, leaving him to eat his lunch and think about that very strange young boy.  He was almost exotic in his pale skin and dark hair.  His large brown eyes.  The locals were all darker, some lighter from mixing in of bloodlines but mostly darker with short, dark, straight hair.  He'd grow into his grace someday soon and then they'd see who would be trying for his hand.


Dean found the horse trader just before diner  "Anything?"

"I have a small carriage but it's not covered.  There's not going to be any rain that we know of soon."

"How much?"

"Six hundred for all three."  Dean winced.  "The old owner was firm."  Dean counted what they had.  Then he held up an emerald.  The guy drooled.  "Not quite enough."  Dean pulled out a larger one.  He took it to look at.  "It has a large flaw."

Dean looked.  "Huh."  He pulled out the smaller one and added it, getting a nod.  "It's late, could we find an inn on the way?"

"No.  Not for another six travel hours.  I'll keep them here tonight for you."  Dean nodded, walking off.  "Thank you."

"Thanks for the help, dude."  He waved, going to tell them the good news.  If they had to, they could sell it once they were there.  They found everyone in the room.  Xander was staring at his stew like it was strange.  "What's wrong?"

"It's rabbit," Sam said quietly.  "He's not sure he can eat it."

Dean took the spoon and fed Xander a bite.  "It's edible.  People did it for centuries."  He sat down, looking at Sammy.  "You really didn't know?"

Sam shook his head.  "No.  I could tell.  I guessed about Xander.  I only know because I felt that buzzing feeling about Adam the first time."

Dean sighed, leaning back on his bed.  "We need to talk to Dad."

"Yeah, but we'll be back there sometime soon."

"Good point."  He got his own bowl of stew and dug in.  Xander offered the rest of his bowl, getting a dirty look.  The boy sighed but dug in.  "Thank you."

"It's got that aftertaste."

Sam took a bite of his.  "That's the herbs, Xander.  We'll let you learn how to cook while we're here."  Xander nodded.  He finished up and ate the bread to clear the taste from his mouth.  They used their nightly water allotment to take cloth baths and do their hairs then went to bed.  Sam stayed up a bit to protect them but even he had to sleep sometime.


Dean looked at the carriage and horses.  It looked okay.  "Pile the bags in a corner," he said.  "Xander can lean against them."

The horse trader coughed while opening the back compartment.  "For shopping.  It's usually a lady's carriage."  They smirked at that but loaded the bags back there.  It got sealed and Dean jammed the opening just in case it flew open on them.  The rest got piled on Xander's side of the carriage.  He got to watch behind them.  The dealer taught Dean how to use reins and it was good.  "Happy travels."

"Thanks."  Dean got to sit up front to drive.  Sammy and Xander could nap in the back.  Once they were outside the area Sam got some of the excess cloth they had been given during their last kidnaping and used it to put up a cover for shade.  Two swords and one behind Dean's back for him to get some too.  Then he sat down and smirked at the boy.  "Let's work on some of the advanced skills, Xander."  Xander nodded, settling in beside him to go over some of the stuff he had missed during his first education.  Math in particular.  The carriage stopped a bit later and Dean got out to find sticks to take the place of the swords.  They rearranged it with Xander's help and it was better.  Higher and off their heads.  More air circulation for their comfort.  When they got bored, Xander took a nap and Sam climbed onto the side and up to help Dean.  "How do we do this?"

Dean showed him and let him drive for a bit.  The horses weren't fancy and they were kind of plodding along.  Sam flicked the reins at them like the westerns on tv did and they sped up a little bit more, then slowed back down. "I think they're farm horses," Dean admitted.

"We don't need the fanciest of the fancy things," Sam assured him.  They saw a stand set up further up the road and shared a look.  Dean got out a few coins in case it was food related but otherwise Sam only slowed the horses down further when they got closer.  It was an older lady who had water and sandwiches.  Dean got them some and woke Xander up so he could eat too.

The woman looked at the young boy then at them.  "You'd expect favored sons to travel in higher gilt carriages."

"We're family," Sam said.  "It's what was available."

She grimaced, looking at the boy then at them.  "You should have a servant."

"We don't need one," Dean said.

Xander finished his current bite.  "I'm not the highborn type.  I do things for myself."

She snorted.  "Someone should take care of you, young man."

Xander stared at her.  "You're not demonic."  The two guys reached for a sword.

She laughed.  "You're right, I'm not."  She changed forms and stood staring at them in her usual glory.

Sam stared.  "Um....  Not to be rude, but are you Athena?"

"Artemis actually."  She smirked at him.  "Ares asked me to watch over the boy until you got settled in."  She looked at him.  "It appears you might be a bit important some year."

"Who he chooses to mate with?" Dean asked.

"That as well."  She patted the boy on the head.  "There is much to learn about putting forth the proper image."

"I don't want to appear to be royal.  Just to learn.  I'm already a princess some days."

She smirked.  "You are.  Around here, as in other realms, your kind are known as Cupid's Burdens."  Xander nodded at that.  "This sort of training suits your kind quite a lot."  She stepped back and looked at the horses.  "Exchange them at the next market.  You need better ones to pull the carriage that far.  It's a good week's journey at their rate or three days with regular ones that pull faster than plow speed."

"We can do that," Dean agreed.  She smiled and nodded.  "Do you have any other advice, ma'am?"

"Stay somewhere relatively decent.  Not too highbrow, not too lowbrow.  He was right about appearing above his station.  He couldn't pull off a highborn child but his condition will elevate him.  They will want him when he's older.  It's best he learn how to play some of those games so he knows when they're going on around him.  Like anyplace that royals grow up, there's intrigue."

Sam nodded.  "We'll keep him out of it as much as possible."

"Good."  She patted the boy on the head.  "I look forward to when you come to Ares' temple for training."  She disappeared.

"Don't freak out, Xander.  It's not a current worry," Sam soothed.  He got into the back with him.  Dean came back too.  "We'll handle it when it happens."

"Yes, guys."  He grinned.  "I'll try really hard to be good."

"Please do," Dean agreed.  "Sammy, go drive."  He went to do that while they settled in to rest in the back.  It was hard work making the horses stay on the road and not go into a field.  They found a market in the next town and they could use good plow beasts.  The new carriage horses were a bit more flashy and faster at pulling the cart.  They got all the way to the next town before they decided to get a room for the night.  Of course the inn was full so they had to stay in the lower class place.  It was kinda dark, dirty, and smelled a bit but it had clean beds and they managed to get some food from the market for the night so Xander wouldn't have to worry about furry creature stew.


Sam found the teacher they had been sent to.  Xander and Dean were looking for places to stay.  He knocked on the door, getting a young serving girl.  "I was sent with a letter for the teacher here," he said with a smile.  She let him inside and went to get the teacher.  The older man came out so he handed it over.  "Our younger brother was sent to be taught.  We're with him and he thought it might be good if we were all taught a bit."

He settled into a chair to read it.  Then he looked at him.  "Where is this boy?"

"Dean and Xander are looking at places for rent."

"I'll see him soon?"

Sam nodded.  "You can.  They're going to be this way in about an hour to pick me up from the market up the street."

That got a nod.  "Come back with the boy."  He handed back the letter.  "Do you know of our dances?"

"No, sir.  I was taught the more usual way of using a sword to defend myself.  My family hunts bad things that come after others."  A woman wearing too much perfume strode in and pushed past him.  He nodded politely and she sneered.  "Sorry I was in your way, ma'am."

"Do you know who I am?" she demanded.

"No, ma'am.  This is our first day in town and only our first week in this country."  She gaped.  He shrugged a bit.  "Our younger brother was sent to this one to be taught."

She snorted.  "You're too tall."

He smirked. "I can already fight pretty well.  He's only twelve."  She huffed off.  He looked at the teacher.  "I'll bring him back then."

"You can pay for a teacher?"

"I think so.  We were sent with some loose stones to help cover expenses."

"Hmm."  He stared at him.  "You're one of Cupid's," he said quietly.

"As we were told, around here all three of us are called Cupid's Burdens.  My younger brother is very strong in that gift.  He's also a bit hyper."

"All boys are," he said dryly.  "Lead me to him."  Sam nodded, walking out with him.  Dean and Xander were already in the market looking at the food and the local clothes.  Sam coughed and Xander beamed.  "Guys, this is the teacher we were sent to."

"Hey," Dean said.

"Sam, you have to taste this fruit," Xander said, handing him one out of the bag he was carrying.  "It's *so* good!"  He beamed at the teacher.  "Hi.  Are you going to teach me?"

"We shall see whether you rate teaching or not."  Xander nodded quickly.  He handed Dean the bag and took off the strange bracelet he wore.  "What is that for?"

"To keep him from being kidnaped by those who'd want him," Sam said, nibbling on the fruit.  "This is really good.  Tastes like grapes only with the texture of an orange."

"He liked it a lot," Dean told him.  Xander did what the other teacher showed him.  "He only got time to look him over for a few minutes."

The teacher nodded.  "We can arrange to teach him.  Come back to my house."  They followed him back.  "Did you find a suitable accommodation?"

"I found a decent place that has a good open area and came with beds and a couch, plus an indoor bathroom," Dean told him.  "The neighborhood was nice enough, near a market too."

Sam nodded.  "Sounds like it'll work."

That got a nod from the teacher.  He let Xander into the practice area, settling in to teach him how to move correctly.  The duchess from earlier was still off huffing but that was fine.  He had no idea why she wanted to learn male's dances anyway.  This one showed the start of grace and beauty.  He looked at the other two.  "Do as he did."  They stepped in to move as the boy had.  Not half as good but they were older.  Dean nearly tripped over his feet, making Xander giggle quietly.  "It happens to all of us doing unfamiliar things."

"Dean's usually not the one who trips," Xander told him.

"No, usually I'm a pretty good dancer," Dean admitted.  He tried it again.  This time the teacher nodded.  "We can learn off him if you can't teach us directly.  We were told only young boys got sent."

"In some, the need to learn is there even at the older ages.  It will definitely help you both protect all three of you."  He considered it then looked at Sam.  "You glow."

"I know I'm backed up.  I'll handle that tonight."

He nodded. "See that you do.  Having someone rush in to take you three would ruin my day.  I will see you at second bell tomorrow.  Here." They nodded.  "That's midmorning," he said at Xander's confused look.  "When the second temple's bells chime."  That got a faster nod from the boy.  "Be prepared to sweat.  Wear something comfortable."

"We will," Dean promised. "Should we keep the bigger space?"

"Do so.  He'll need room to practice and so will you."  They nodded and shook his hand, leaving him to his other student.  That one was just odd but one of them showing up usually meant good things for the teacher and the kingdom.  Especially if someone higher up took up the student as their own.  Though the older two seemed very possessive of the younger.  They'd have to see.


to part 2