To Take The Trip

Xander looked at the hellmouth then at Ethan.  "Are you *sure* this'll work?"

"That's how the others are doing it.  It should keep the relocation sickness from getting to you.  There's minor power points all along the way.  You simply have to concentrate on one and step out the other side."  He waved a hand.  "Do so now.  That way we can go back to hiding somewhere darker."

Xander sighed but stepped into the hellmouth's energy field, concentrating on what he wanted to do.  He felt himself slide and blinked when he suddenly stopped, getting out of the small dip in the magical spectrum.  He smiled at the people waiting on him.  "Morning."

"Not around here."  He looked the young guy with white hair over.  There was something seriously odd about him, it was making his skin itch.  "Bobby said you called him and asked to meet him here?"

Xander nodded.  "Unfortunately the way I took my vows to close the Sunnydale hellmouth means I can't get that far from the power or I end up in a shitload of pain."  That got a nod from both of them.  "He running late?"

"Just a bit," Sam offered with a smile.  "Nice to meet you, Mr. Harris."

"Xander," he ordered with a grin.  "I'm not the formal sort.  I may've taken the vow but I'm not a Watcher."  He shook the other guy's hand, noticing he was feeling odd.  "I know.  Sunnydale's the evilest place on earth.  It's the anti-Disney.  I was born there, raised there, hunted there, and hung out in the library overtop of the hellmouth.  That's probably what you're feeling.  That or where I have to keep closing the bastard."  A blue truck pulled up and he smiled.  "Hi.  Nice to finally meet you in person."

"I thought you'd be older," he said with a small smile.

"Yeah, well, the physical age has nothing on the 'feeling' age at the moment."  He shook his hand too.  "Ethan figured out how I can use the potholes of power for traveling purposes.  Do we need me in Cleveland?"

"Nope," Sam said with a small grin.  "We've got more than a few hunters handling it."

"Thank God, we've got one coming up too."  He came over to look at what Bobby had pulled out.  "Do we have any contacts on the other areas?"

"Not at the moment.  The Watchers?"

"Travers is still insisting it's not happening and if it is it's my fault so I should be shot.  They're all still in deep hiding," he finished with a grim look at his new friend.  That got a nod.   "Also, the math geek who helped Wes got turned.  I met his very protective big brother who came up to see what the hell was going on.  He was not amused.  I told him to take his little brother to Angel to see if he could help him."  He pointed at something.  "What's this mean?"

"That's a new case.  We usually don't have to go there," Bobby said.  "It's pack lands."

Xander nodded.  "I know a werewolf.  He's in Tibet getting control over his change."

"They're pretty calm usually but recently they've had two young'nes go rogue."

"Damn.  I'm sorry for their families."  He leaned on the hood of the truck to look at the map.  "What about this one?  That's not anything that I remember."

"That's an older problem that's just now starting up again. A demon cult."

Xander grinned.  "I'm *so* glad I don't have to deal with those.  They'd want me too.  I can just hear Buffy on whatever plane she's on complaining about them wanting me because I drawn those sorts."  He looked it over.  He could ignore Dean's look at his little brother that clearly said 'so it's not just you'.  "This next-to-last one.  Do we have *anything* on it?  Ethan hasn't been able to find a thing."

"Not that I'm aware of," he said, looking at the young man.  "The white hair from the magic stuff?"

"Closing the hellmouth after I made my vows," he said grimly.  "It was a grand case of 'someone has to do it' and even though mediums have issues with this sort of thing I'm a someone.  It was me or Spike really."  That got a shudder.  "Yeah, basically.  I've accepted it.  It'll be dyed some year probably."  He looked at him.  "Any word from Tara?"

"Willow's getting better," Sam said, coming over to look at the maps.  "What's that one, Bobby?"

"That's the girls and their protection stuff, plus all the attacks they've had," he said.  "I talked to her on the phone yesterday.  She said to quit worrying.  Her girl's getting better.  She's handled all the attacks so far.  They'll be out in a few weeks but not able to come back for at least a month after that."

"They can't anyway.  I'm having the town evacuated by the military or the FBI.  One of the two."  He and Bobby shared a look.  "It'll ease the hunting and the big brother agent agreed that it was a sound plan to save everyone else's life.  After all, demons have taken down part of the college, the hospital, and the police station.  We've lost about half the town already.  It should've been cleared long ago but the people who could've are still somewhere in Central America and he only showed up on anyone's radar the other day."  He slumped some.  "I'm missing something and I don't know what."

"Sleep and eating it looks like," Bobby said dryly.

"I've been working full time and then hunting every night, Bobby.  We've had enough of the psycho demons that we're not doing anything but getting injured.  Even Spike's starting to heal slower with how often he's been injured."  He looked at the two boys then at him again.  "If we can evacuate I can hunt the others down and kill them.  That would help me a lot and we'd be able to figure out who was doing things on the hellmouth.  Hell, I had to send our evil geek trio to Miami to get them out of the way.  They're good but I didn't need another problem."

Bobby gave him an odd look.  "Evil geek trio?"

"Yeah, three geeky guy who've managed to try to rule the world a few times.  Including making a robot Buffy."

"A robotic slayer?" he asked.  "How does that work?"

"Very well.   They took her with them but it works pretty well when she's tired or on vacation.  She's going to Miami with them."  He had a thought and called the number he had gotten off Warren's MySpace page.  "Andrew, Xander.  Where are you guys?"  He smiled at the 'we packed up the Super Evil Mobile and decided to drive' answer.  "Okay, where specifically are you?"  The answer didn't please him.  "You guys found the picture, right?  I want you guys *out* of the diagram, Andrew.  Because you guys are my backup support right now if I have techie questions.  Yeah, well, Willow's still in the hospital, Andrew.  I need you guys alive in case something comes up or for backup battle planning if I'm knocked unconscious.  I know you learned it the same way I did, Andrew, campaigning.

"Plus, hey, hellmouth taint," Xander continued.  "You're in a lot more danger than usual.  Warren's been turned?  I wondered why he looked dead the other night.  Yes, Andrew, the diagram is gathering power and with the stuff you sucked up from going to school over the hellmouth plus living there....  You're prime food, man.  Go south.  Go through Texas and over that way."  He smiled.  "That'll work.  So let him drive at night, dude.  No, don't take too long.  Miami's out of the way.  There's a point in Costa Rica but it goes through western Texas to get there.  Exactly.  Avoid the diagram.  Good luck subversing Miami, Andrew."  He smiled at his 'should be a cinch'.  "Ethan said to watch out for the crime lab.  Apparently they're really good.  Have a good road trip."  He hung up and shook his head.  "They decided to stop in Vegas."

"They sound young."

"I graduated with them."  He grinned at Bobby.  "I'm only twenty-one."

"Military?" he asked.  "People say you're her planner."

Xander grinned brightly.  "Part possession, part campaigning, part experience."  Bobby groaned.  "It's never failed me yet and I do plan a mean role playing session."  He smirked a bit at the boys who had groaned.  "Sorry but it's like LARPing around Sunnydale most nights.  But yeah, I did plan graduation and I did plan the Initiative assault."  Bobby nodded, accepting that.   He pulled out the papers he was carrying, handing them over.  "In case it is needed, like if I die or something.  This is Sunnydale as it stands right now."  He pointed at things.  "Used to be the hospital.  That's the college.  The other side is pretty much the safer side of town.  We've recently found out that they've been hoarding magic books.  Ethan's taken Spike up there to gather a lot of them.  They're in my spare room at the moment."  He pointed at something else.  "This is downtown.  I live here," he said, pointing at the red dot.  "Spike picked the color."  He grinned.  "He said two vampires in the house meant it should be red instead of blue."  He pointed again.  "This is the hellmouth.  It's in the ruins of the old high school.  The demons have long ago cleared a good path right to it."  That got a nod from them.

"When Agent Epps called this morning, he said he's going to evacuate all this area," he said, pointing at the green circle.  "Angel helped him with that.  That's the usual demonic areas.  His boss got into the Initiative's files when I told Don to have him find them.  He apparently has a minor hacker who could crack the easy code they were using.  He's horrified and they're still stuck in Central America with an upswing, probably overflow from the Costa Rica hellmouth.  His boss and I talked and he agreed only the hunters are staying in town.  He said he didn't care if we looted things or not as long as we got rid of the demons and kept things safe enough for now."  He looked at the boys.  "We have a battle coming right after the Cleveland battle.  By the prophecy it looks like a magical assault.  Ethan's getting me ready for that."

"Can you take out the magic user?" Dean asked.

Xander shook his head.  "Not unless I know he's not connected to something.  Ethan thinks that his death could cause more problems.  A preset spell or sacrifice that would bring something bigger.   We're hoping to knock him out and keep him under for a while."  He looked at Bobby again.  "I'll keep checking in.  Angel's still having troubles with the overflow from most of our town's demons running.  Apparently some peaceful, timid plant demons have joined a gang that's going around robbing humans."  He shrugged.  "Angel's got his own crew and Wes is still there.  With the agent's brother going to Angel for tutoring in vamp 101, I'm sure he'll use them as backup now and then.  They weren't fond me of walking up to some demons and using blessed iron rounds to rip them apart after they took down the hospital but we're in a bad position in Sunnydale."  He slid over the other sheet.  "This is where every Watcher in the world presently is as of last Friday.  His kinda hacker found them for us.  Her boyfriend was the agent's brother and she's a bit pissed that they're not handling their own shit."  He grinned.  "She's very unhappy.  She apparently reached Buffy nuclear PMS levels that make even psychotic demons run and hide.  Wes said he and Fred, their geek on the team, are both scared of her and Fred's a tough girl in the same field as she is."

"Anything on the Niagra situation?" Bobby asked.

Xander nodded.  "A new one showed up and got eaten."  They all groaned.  "But he was turned into that sort of demon so he's still there.  He's holding it steadier.  The Costa Rica Watcher was found and he's on his way back.  The one in Gibralter died last year.  His son was supposed to take his place but his son never took the vow.  His daughter took it recently so they're trying.  It's not a high demon area, it's a fairly small, dead hellmouth.  The one in Japan is about the same way and it's got a convent of Buddhist nuns sitting on top of it.  The Watcher out there is still out there.  The real problem is on the China/India border.  It's barely on the Chinese side and the military there won't let anyone stay in the area, even a supposed mystic that the Watcher came as.  They shot the last three for trying."  That got a groan.  "Ethan thought that one being uncovered is why the Sunnydale one is so active.  Then the Niagra Falls Watcher went insane thanks to a demon and shot his whole family.  He's catatonic in the mental ward.  Then ours went on vacation all at once.  Travers has decided this is my fault even though the prophecy mentioned there'd be a guy who jumped in and that's when it would start.  It would've been only half as strong or as bad if Giles had been on my hellmouth or anyone else with the vow.  Instead they had to take a sudden vacation to kick Travers' ass over what he was trying to pull this time."

"Aren't they over the slayers?" Bobby asked, looking confused.

Xander smirked a bit evilly.  "They never raised Buffy.  She's hated them since her Crucitanium or whatever it was called when they tried to kill her for daring to turn eighteen.  They fired Giles for giving a damn and she quit when they kept keeping information from us.  Travers was trying to pull shit to get her back under Council control so they went to take a few meetings and so Buffy could shop and see somewhere else."

"So they went to kick ass in a polite, British fashion?" Sam joked.

Xander grinned.  "Yup.  Plus Buffy bought about a grand of new clothes in the fashionable areas of London."  Dean gave him an odd look.  He pulled out his wallet to show him a picture.  "That's Buffy, Willow, Tara, and me," he said.  "The other one is Giles, he's trying to hide from Joyce's camera."  He looked at him.  "She's went on patrol in that outfit."

Bobby looked.  "She's tiny and cute."

"Yeah, she plays on it now and then too," he said dryly.  "Her mother only sighed at Giles buying her new clothes."  He put his wallet up.  "Okay, after our battle is one somewhere around you?  Think you'll need me for that one?"

"Nah.  It'll probably be around here?

"Probably.  This is the minor pothole of evil."  He looked at the spot then grinned at him.  "I can hop back if you need me to."

"I'll remember that.  Think you'll have a town at the end?"

Xander shook his head.  "It's already been a quarter destroyed, Bobby.  First the demons burning all of us out so we wouldn't have any support, down to the stores the girls shopped at.  Then the psychotic ones that stayed have been causing property damage too."  He looked at Dean.  "By the way, most of our Master vampires that had stuck it out are heading for Kansas City.  I have no idea *why* but they were acting like it's a comic con and it's going to be huge."  He wrote down something.  "That's a poison that kills vampires.  I laced some wood they were using for a bonfire a few months ago and it made them sick enough for easy staking."  He handed it to Dean.  "I don't know if you'll need it but I figured it could only help."

"Regional con or like the big one down in San Diego every year?" Sam asked.

Xander shrugged. "I'd say edging toward larger.  They were talking about meeting some from the east coast there too.  Some of the New York master vamps and them.  I know we had twenty left and they all left two days ago.  Their minions had been waiting on them out of town in the other direction from LA so they wouldn't have to deal with Angel too."

"Plane?  Car?" Dean asked.

"Cars.  A few vans and a few limos.  Maybe another u-haul."

"Think they traveled straight though?"

Xander shook his head.  "They were talking about stopping in Las Vegas to gamble, eat some showgirls, bag some pros, and help take down a chronic official problem out that way.  Someone in their PD knows enough to be troublesome.  I had Bobby send out a general warning two days ago for that area."

Bobby nodded.  "I heard back.  They tried him that night.  He thinks they're leaving tonight.  He said he got two but he's also got a broken collarbone now from saving one of the showgirls."

"Oh, that reminds me.  Spike overheard one saying that he was going to take the opportunity to rid the world of some bad plastic surgery.  So he was going after the unnatural boobs that were badly done."

"It'll take us about two days to get to Kansas City," Dean decided.  "A day longer for them if they drive straight through, so we'll be well set up by the time they get there."  Sam nodded at that.  "Thanks for the poison, Xander."

"Not an issue.  If you guys need us, yell.  We've got a gap after this battle for about four months but you guys have about two in that time."  He looked at Bobby.  "I should head back.  I can kinda feel Ethan tossing a fit as he puts it."  He shook their hands.  "Call if you need me, guys."  He walked back to the pothole of evil and concentrated.  Nothing happened.  He huffed and tried harder.  Still nothing.  He slumped and it happened.  Though he had have to come back for his pants and boxers then leave again.   He came out and put on his pants, weathering the amused looks from the military guys.  "Riley's people?"

"No, sir, regular army.  We were warned that might get asked.  You are?"

"Xander Harris. These are Spike and Ethan Rayne.  We're the ones who called for the town's evacuation.  We're staying to handle the reason."

"I don't have orders on that, sir."

"Call Agent Epps or his boss.  Whichever is here."  He nodded, moving to call them.  He looked at Ethan.  "Bobby, Sam, and Dean all seemed really nice.  Warren was turned, Spike.  I had them go out of the diagram before they got into more trouble."  Ethan gave him an odd look.  "Tell me they're not tainted?" he scoffed.

"Anyone here for a substantial period of time would be," he admitted quietly.

"Demons love hellmouth energy," Spike finished.  "They're in more danger."  Xander nodded.  "They okay?"

"Yeah, they're leaving Las Vegas today and heading south immediately."  The military officer hung up and nodded.  "We clear?"

"You are clear, sir, and Agent Epps will be at your place in an hour.  Where were you?"

"South Dakota."  He grinned.  "Talking with some of the other people handling this sitch."  He looked at the vamps.  "Make it home however.  I'll walk, Spike."  He nodded. He looked at the officer.  "Don't worry, they're vampires, they can make it home on their own."

"Yes, sir.  What about the other...unusual citizens?"

"If they want to leave, help them leave," Ethan told him.

"Some of 'em are barmy already," Spike warned, lighting up.  That got a nod from the officer.  "Mostly only them left."

"Most of them are violent too, that's why we're all bruised and limping," Xander warned.  He grinned.  "Have the base priest bless your rounds, that works of half of them.  The rest, fair warning about them being faster, having longer arms, and being a lot stronger than normal people on steroids."  He walked out, heading back to his house.  He waved at a few grumbling people.  They could be not happy but oh well.  He walked into his house, finding the agent waiting.  "Hey."

"Hey.   You sure this is the easier way?"

"You want them here and slowly dying instead?"

"No, not really.  You think you can handle it?"

"Even if I have to bring this town to rubble," Xander said honestly.  "It'll make it easier because I won't have to work and hunt.  More money for crossbow bolts and bullets, plus blood."  He flopped down.  "Sorry, had to take the hellmouth train to South Dakota."


"One of the other guys who're dealing with this issue is out there.  We've been playing fax tag.  It was time to meet in person and lay down some more delicate info."  That got an understanding look.  "How's your brother?"

"Better.  He's calmer.  He's starting on an 'I'm invincible' ego trip but Fred beat him last night so it was solved for the most part.  I told my dad with her help and he found a Rabbi."  Xander smiled at that.  "Dad's still uneasy but Angel creeps him out."

"He did that to us too when he was dating our slayer."

"He dated the person who's supposed to hunt their kind?"

Xander smirked and nodded.  "Yup.  They'd still be together if he wouldn't slip his soul when he gets too happy."

"You do stranger stuff than I thought," he joked.

"You have *no* idea," Xander assured him with a wicked grin.  He got up and got something, handing it over.  "Giles' journal for the Watchery bastards."  He headed into the kitchen.  "We have cocoa and coffee if you want some."

"Coffee please."  He listened to him heat water in the microwave while he skimmed the journal, gaping at the boy when he came back.

Xander smirked a bit.  "For us it was Thursday."  He sat down to sip his cocoa.  "You can borrow that but Wes'll want it when you're done."

"I can hand it to him.  Now what?"

"Now we make sure your guys aren't eaten for helping evacuate the toy and food sources.  Once they're gone we give the demons a night to party.  Then we bring hell down onto them.  Then I fight off the magic using idiot who's coming in a few weeks."  That got a nod.  "With all luck we'll be able to bring him to you unconscious and let you guys keep him that way.  Wes isn't sure killing him wouldn't cause more problems," he said at the start of the opening mouth.  He sipped his cocoa.  "Besides, I don't want to start killing humans.  Demons yes, humans I'm still a bit squeamish on unless they're doing horrible things in front of me.  I don't want to end up like Faith."

Don stared at him for a minute.  "I've had to fire in the line of duty, kid.  It doesn't get easier if you're staying on the side of good."  Xander nodded at that wisdom.   "Why do vampires have more sex?"

"No inhibitions.  Or as Spike said, the demon's don't care as long as it's got a hole or they can make a hole."  He shrugged.  "There's some that want it all the time, some that don't want any."  He grabbed his head as the vision started, blindly putting down his cup.  "Oh, damn it, I hate those already, even though it's the first one."  He looked at him through his watering eyes.  "Watch out for a female named Druscilla.  She's Angel's childe and Spike's sire.  She's insane, talks to the stars and her dolls, but she's a true seer.  Keep your brother away from her.  She likes to torture the new ones to make them as pretty as her dollies."

"I can do that.  Should we warn Angel?"

"She just showed up at Angel's.  Cordy's vision set off mine somehow."  He called Spike.  "It's me.  Dru's at Angel's.  Somehow Cordy's vision set off mine; she just walked into the Hyperion."  He smiled.  "I already warned him."  He hung up.  "Call your brother to warn him if he's there."

"He's at the college."  He called him anyway.  "Chuck, me.  There's a new vamp at Angel's and Xander said to watch out for her.  Yes, her.  Druscilla or Dru.  She's apparently a seer but she's more than slightly insane and likes to torture young vampires."  He smiled.  "That's fine.  He said she just showed up.  Sure, later tonight for dinner.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "He can eat, right?"

"Spike puts Lucky Charms in his blood.  Said it adds texture."

"Eww," Don said with a truly disgusted look.

"Yeah but he was my roomie because Giles was getting some.  He poured it into my cereal while I was eating once."  That got a shudder.  "So they can eat but it's not really necessary.  Enjoyment, companionship, grossing out humans."

"If my brother does that I'm letting our father beat him."

Xander smirked. "Watch out for Wheatabix too.  It's like Shredded Wheat.  Spike likes the frosted version since he can't get the real stuff."  That got another nod and Don stood up.  Xander grinned.  "Need me to go help?"

Don stared at him.  "With as tired as you look, I'd put you in the infirmary under sedatives if you tried to help.  Get some sleep and eat, kid."  He left, heading back to the checkpoint, calling his brother on the way.  "You don't want to put cereal in your blood, right?"  His brother spluttered but assured him it didn't sound good.  "Good.  No, Xander said Spike does.  Just making sure, Chuck.  Have a good class."  He hung up and went to check in.   "How are we doing?"

"Two soldiers injured from the other sort of residents.  We've since decided to leave them alone.  Any that're peaceful can sneak out."  David, his agent, looked back at him.  "How's the kid?"

"Tired.  He looks exhausted.  I told him he didn't need to help with the evacuation."  He came over to look.  "He's at home.  His two friends were at the school."  That got a nod.  "Charlie's doing okay.  We do have to be careful in case we run into one of Angel's other children, named Druscilla."  That name got typed into the database the witch in Philadelphia had sent to them.  The picture came up and he nodded.  "I'm sure Chuck already looked too."

"I thought you couldn't take their pictures," Megan said from her seat coordinating the radio chatter.

"Apparently you can with special gear."

Xander walked in and looked.  "Digital cameras with a special filter.  Spike showed us how."  He shrugged and handed over something.  "This just fell in my lap addressed to you.  Dru heard."  He walked off, going back to his house for a nap.

Don opened it, blinking at the flowery handwriting about how his 'kitten with the pretty curly hair' was not for her pleasure and her 'daddy' had made sure she knew that.  "I'm hoping that means she'll leave him alone?"  He let Megan see it.  She was a girl, she might understand better.

"I think so."  She handed it back, shaking her head.  "Hopefully.  I don't think I can take any more insanity in my life.  This is bad enough.  Oh, my new neighbors?"  She smirked at him.  "They're blue/green and have gray spots.  They have six eggs with them and two living children that've been hatched.  They're both female and their male that comes to make more eggs with them bakes really great brownies."  He groaned, walking off shaking his head.  "But they're very nice and there's more moving into my building because supposedly they live on the herd principle."

David gave her an odd look.  "Are you moving?"

"No.  Someone tried to break into their apartment last night.  The ladies manifested six- inch-long wrist bones that were very sharp and made them as pretty as anything Martha Stewart ever created for a dinner party.  They consider me nice."

"I guess your building will be safer then," he said dryly.  "What's the male like?"

"Two foot shorter, squeaky, a bit more smelly, and has a beer gut.  I caught him drinking and laid into him about doing it in front of the kids.  He walked off pouting.  The ladies enjoyed it a lot."  He snickered, going back to his job while she went back to hers.

Don looked over at them.  "Remember, within a year it'll be back to normal."

"Are you sure we won't still realize it's there?" she countered.

"We probably will but our cases won't be so involved."

"You hope," she said.

"I hope," he agreed.  "But hey, even my dad finally got used to Charlie's condition.  He made him breakfast."

She smirked at him.  "He'll be there to watch over any kids you might have."

"Definitely.  That's a good thought. Dad liked that thought too.  Though he still hates Angel.  Did you know that Angel used to date that Buffy girl?"

"Why?" she asked.

He shrugged.  "I don't know.  Xander told me."

She snickered.  "I'm sure that was an odd relationship."  She got back to work, making herself not think about vampire dating rituals.  Or pre-date rituals.  Whatever.


Xander sat on his roof with the binoculars, watching the demons still left in town wander around looking for something to eat.  He looked at Spike.  "If I had a bazooka," he sighed.

"It's in the garage," he reminded him patiently.  "Thanks for the warning on Dru, mate."

"Not an issue.  I'm more worried that she'll go after Agent Epps' brother."  He slid back into the window and headed to the garage to bother Ethan.  "Seen my bazooka?"

He pointed behind him.  "Storage closet.  Along with the grenade launcher and the MP3 player that you broke last week," he said absently, turning the page.

"Any idea on getting Giles back?"

Ethan snorted.  "Not yet.  I'm reading up on it however."

Xander found the weapon he wanted and headed back onto the roof, nudging Spike out of the way.  His binoculars had a distance reading so he adjusted his aim, hitting the main clump of them and blowing them to bits.  The bellow reached them without help.  He and Spike smirked at each other then laughed, watching them rip each other up for the food since nothing else was around.  "Raid the supermarket yet?"

"Did just after dusk," he reminded him.  "Got you twinkies and soda."

"Thanks, Spike.  I knew you loved me."

"Keeps you saner than not," he shot back dryly, giving him a look.  "Don't need you turning into Dru, now do we?"

Xander snickered.  "There's days that doesn't sound so bad."  They settled in to watch the demons fight each other.  It was a better sight than them burning the rest of the town.

By the fence, Don and Charlie Epps gave each other a look.  "That was probably Xander," Don told him.

"He sounds like he's got a good idea or six," he said, smiling some.  "Angel said I should say hi to Spike."

"Sunnydale's too dangerous to let you into it.  It could warp you or drive you insane."  He gave his little brother a look.  "You can meet them when they leave the area."

"If they can leave the area."

"Good point."  They watched the demons rip into each other, smirking some at the problem taking care of themselves.  A bigger demon stomped up and started to wail on them, then ate a few of the ones he had beaten.  A new missile came out and hit him, making him explode.  "Eww."

"He's having fun," Charlie said dryly.  A few more came out, these looked more like dogs, and they ripped into the remains.  He turned away.  "That's sickening to watch."  He looked at his brother instead, mapping his blood flow.  "What's wrong with your left wrist?"

"Sprained it earlier making someone leave their house."  He looked at him.  "You can tell that?"

"The blood flow's odd there from the swelling."

"If you even *think* about trying to eat me I'm going to kick your ass, Chuck.  Unless it's the end of the world or it's an absolute emergency."

"So you don't want me to turn you if you're dying?"

Don gave him a look.  "Let me think about that."  That got a nod.  "Did you store sperm?  I know Dad was going off on that."

"Yeah, I've got some at one of the local banks and at the college's research bank.  He and Amita are fighting about it right now."  He shrugged, looking back as Angel came up to the fence.  "Hey."

"Hey."  He looked out there, shaking his head.  "Scavengers.  They'll be fine."

"Xander's already shot two rockets from his house to take out some of them," Don told him.

"Harris and his toys," he muttered, shaking his head quickly.  "Any word from Spike?"

"Call 'im," Charlie said happily.  "He's probably at the house."

Don focused his binoculars on the kid's house.  "He's on the roof with Xander."  He called the boy's phone.  "It's Epps.  Angel and Charlie wanted to talk to Spike."  He smiled.  "That's fine."  He hung up.  "He'll be out in about an hour, guys."  They nodded, walking off to talk about vampire things - he guessed; he had no idea what Angel was teaching his brother tonight.  Hopefully nothing kinky.  His father had thrown a fit when he found Charlie reading up on bondage earlier. The bondage math he had started on had even creeped out Fred and Wes so that was a thought for sometime later in his nightmares.


Xander was on the phone with Bobby when Ethan stumbled in from patrol.  "Hold on, Bobby.  Ethan, problems?"

"There's more," he said, flopping down.  "Two new higher levels just moved in.  Spike's crawling back."

"Bobby, gotta go.  Yeah, bigger big bad.  The boys did okay in KC?"  He grinned.  "Glad to have helped, man.  Sure, call me tomorrow."  He hung up and grabbed weapons, heading out to find Spike.  He found one of the higher demons taunting him.  "Hey!" he shouted.  "Pick on someone your own size."

"You're a human," it sneered.  "Nowhere near my size."

Xander shrugged.  "Sounded good when I said it."  He opened fire, shooting it until it ran off with its buddy.  "Hey," he said, helping Spike up.  "C'mon.  You can nibble on me as long as you don't turn my stupid, heroic ass."

Spike snorted.  "Full of yourself," he muttered.

"Well, yeah."  He smirked.  "Of course I am."  He got him back into the house and turned, firing on the demon dog that was trying to follow them.  "No parts here, scavenger."  It yelped and ran off.  Xander led Spike inside and let him flop down next to Spike.  "Want me to warm some up or not?"

"No, could use fresh," he admitted, pulling Xander down to bite him.  They had found out the chip wasn't working, it was blinking on and off.  It wouldn't let him kill but it would let him feed.  He pulled back when the pain in his head got too much.  Then he collapsed.

Ethan got up to get the bandages for the boy.  "He'll live," he decided.   He was tempted to clean up the dripping with his own tongue but he knew the boy couldn't take that so he simply sealed the bite mark and bandaged him for now.  He'd be horribly bruised in the morning.  He pulled Spike up, bringing him out to his bed.  Then he came back to put Xander onto the couch.  He looked at the wards.  "They'll never do," he muttered.  He ran a hand over them then went to get a book so he could add higher level demons to the protections.  Just in case.  Plus a fire one.  Never hurt to be too careful.


Xander woke up with a moan, taking the cup the human above him was holding out.  "Morning," he grunted, sitting up to sip the coffee.  "What time is it?"

"It's Tuesday and it's after ten.  Bobby called me," Don said dryly, giving him a look.  "What happened?"

"Higher things went after Spike.  He needed to feed to heal."  He shrugged then winced, rubbing his throat.  "I'll live."

"You hope," he said dryly.  He stood up again.  "Hurt anywhere else?"

"Not yet.  How's Spike?"

"He's fine.  I already checked on him.  He's snoring."  Xander snorted, shaking his head but finishing the coffee.  "You sure you're good?  You slept for three days."

Xander looked at him.  "I probably needed it anyway."

Ethan leaned out of the garage's doorway.  "Actually, I linked you into the new wards while you were down, Xander.  Part of that was magical exhaustion since it linked into the hellmouth through you."  He looked at Don, shrugging a bit.  "It's safer."

"While he was unconscious?"

"He couldn't fight it then," he said, sounding totally practical.  He went back to his studying.  "I think I may have found how to pull him back but I'm not sure I can do it with what we have."

"We can ask Angel to find stuff for us," Xander reminded him.

"I'll need hair, skin, or blood from at least three people on the plane, Xander."

Xander grimaced.  "You have Giles'.  I have some hair of Buffy's in some of Willow's stuff.  The other people?  Um...."

Don snorted.  "There's a tissue registry.  I'll see what I can do."  He looked at him.  "This next battle that's coming up?"

"Tomorrow night," Xander agreed.  "Thanks for making go juice."

"Not a problem, kid."  He patted him on the head, watching the wince.  "Let's check the bandage.  That's got dried blood on it."  He peeled it off and winced at the bruise.  "That's gotta hurt."

"Some," he admitted.  "Then again, not the first bite."  He got up to look in the mirror.  "Spike, I'm going to kill your stupid ass!" he shouted.  "You damn near killed me this time!"

"Sorry, whelp," Spike called back, then the garage door slammed shut.

Xander shook his head, going to get some clean bandages and neosporin to cover the injuries.  "Thanks, Don."

"Again, not a problem."  He looked him over.  "Want a day out of town?"

"Will the higher demons try here?"

"Probably not.  C'mon, Bobby sent you messengers."

Xander grinned. "Sure.  Heading out with Don," he called.  He walked out once he had changed clothes and quickly washed his hair.  The rest of him could stink, he couldn't stand having dirty hair.  Don smirked at him.  "I'll take a full one when I get back."

"Sure."  They drove out to the barrier, watching the quiet streets in case anything decided to pounce.  He parked at the guard shack, getting out.  "At ease," he ordered.  "This is Mr. Harris."

"Sir.  Saw the missile work.  Nice shots."

"Thank you, Sergeant."  He smiled at the two guys.  "Should I squeal and pounce?"

"Please don't," Dean said dryly.  He handed him something.  "From Bobby."  Xander opened it to read, nodding slowly.  "What happened to your throat?"

"Spike," Don told him.

"He was injured and needed to feed," Xander explained.  "We just grew by two higher level demons, about the level of archangels of hell."  He looked at them, getting odd looks back.  He went to find the video surveillance cameras.  They had noticed them putting them up to monitor what was going on.  He rewound one when he saw a tail.  "Two of them went after Ethan and Spike as toys," he said.

Sam looked then shuddered.  "Those have got to be evil."

Xander looked at him.  "Yeah.  They're pretty high up the chain.  They're about the level of evil upper minions.  We figure it's like a multi pyramid scheme.  A few heads and then a network of their people below them.  They're about the third level down from the top."  He looked at Sam and grinned. "And they already hate me.  I'm so proud of myself."

"Death wish much?" Sam asked dryly.

Xander gave him an odd look.  "Are you possessed by Buffy?  That was *so* something she'd say."

"Not that I know of," he said, smirking a bit.  "Still a good point."

"No, not a death wish but if they're mad at me it makes tracking or trapping them a bit easier."  He smirked at Dean.  "Wouldn't it?"

"You can use it but it might backfire on you."  He watched the other cameras.  "What's that?  It's not like the demon dogs we know."

Xander shifted to look.  "Scavenger.  They eat anything dead or parts."  He and Dean shared a look.  "Annoying."  He grinned.  "Spike told me that they're fun to pet but I don't know yet."

"What about your magic person?" Dean asked.

Xander shrugged. "Haven't felt him yet.  I'm so tied in that if he gets near the hellmouth I should feel his first belch."  He turned the camera there onto it, looking at what was set up.  "Hmm.  That's...."  He called the house.  "Ethan, did you set up crap at the hellmouth?"  He nodded.  "Can they use it?"  He smiled.  "Thanks."  He hung up.  "Baited," he said with a small smirk.  "Anyway, why else are you two here?"

"To help you with yours.  We're not needed in Cleveland," Sam said.  "Bobby figured you could use the help since you're being slowly sucked dry keeping it closed.  Plus I need into some of the books."

"Sure.  You'll have to sleep in the room with the books unless you want to cuddle up to Spike and Ethan."

"We can do that," Dean promised.  He looked at Don.  "That good with you?"

"That's fine with me, guys.  As long as it gets solved and the world doesn't end.  I don't want that to happen on my watch, okay?"

Xander gave him a serious look.  "Why do you think I took the vow?"  Don nodded, understanding that.  "Did Dru leave him alone?"

"He hissed at her and she hissed back then giggled and tried to drag him shopping but Wesley got her in the thigh with a crossbow as a warning.  She huffed off to bother her daddy about what her dolls were seeing.  Apparently he's going to have problems."

"Next month," Sam and Xander said together.

Dean pointed. "What they said."  Don snickered.  "I let the super brain there do that stuff."

Xander beamed at him.  "I'm always underestimating my own brain.  Thank you."  He looked around.  "Okay.  Don, did you need another sit rep?"

"Nah.  You'll call when this guy's down.  My whole team is moved closer on rotation in case you need stuff."  Xander nodded at that.  "We need anything?"

"As long as the water and electric keep going we should be fine to scavenge the supermarket," Xander promised.  He grinned.  "We might have to call Angel to pick up some herbs and stuff for Ethan but he can send that up through you if he wants."  That got a nod.  "Thanks, man."  He shook his hand.  "The refugees settled in?"

"Most of them moved on.  Still blindly ignoring the problem."  Xander opened his mouth so he held up a hand.  "We had a first zone refugee center set up and Wesley found someone to somehow take most of the taint from them since we heard there might be a problem with that?"

"Yeah, the demons would be more attracted to anyone from here," Sam agreed.  "The nature of the energy could draw them."

"Then it's a good thing.  The geek trio you sent off?"

Xander gave him an evil smirk.  "Heading for Miami."  Don moaned.  He snickered. "With their Buffybot no less.  They're going to take over the city then the movie industry so they quit showing so many girl movies and produce more sci-fi."  That got a nod and Don walked off shaking his head.  "They're smarter than you think but they were trained in D&D.  Ask any geek and they'll be able to tell you how they plan."  He looked at Dean again.  "Not that it's a *bad* thing.  I learned a hell of a lot.  Come on, guys.  Let's go find lunch."  He led them back out, getting into the backseat of the car.  He waved at the guardian of the barrier and headed in.  "Turn left.  We ripped up the street the other night."  Dean did that and they were at the house a few minutes later.  "Ah, the beauty of a small town."  He nodded at the driveway.  "Ethan shielded it."  He parked and they went inside.  "Ethan, Spike, visitors."  He heard the moan and shut the garage door.  "Sorry, vamps, ya know?"  He walked them into the kitchen.  "We have instant coffee, soda, and cocoa."  He made himself some cocoa.  "Sam, the books are in the messy room."  He went to look at what they had.  He looked at Dean.  "We're not formal.  Make something if you're hungry."

"How're you holding up?"

"I'm exhausted.  Ethan did something to link the hellmouth into our wards through me while I was out.  Don woke me up earlier."  He sipped the cocoa he pulled out of the microwave, ceding it to him.  "Other than that?  I'll live.  I have to.  How did the KC thing go?"

"They were in a few hotels.  It was pretty easy to sneak in as room service or cleaning people then get them while they were unwary.  We lowered the strength of the poison and used it as a knock-out agent.  That made it a lot easier."  Xander grinned at that.  "How many demons do we have?"

"I don't know a full count.  I know we have sixty of the psychotic ones left.  I know we have the scavenger demons.  I'm not sure if I want to consider them harmful or not.  We have the new higher ones that just moved in.  The first we knew of them they decided to attack the vamps.  There could be others hiding, we're not sure."  He took another drink.  "We know that there's a small number on the other side of the college.  They're chaos demons and sucking it up.  They came to bow to Ethan because he's a high priest of Janus'."  Sam came out with a book.  "Anything good?"

"The higher level demons you told us about."  He let him see.  "Fourth level, not third."  He grinned.  "Killed by pure iron."

"We've got some pure iron swords," Xander admitted.  "We scavenged the Magic Box before it went up."  He read the rest, turning the page but holding it up in case Dean wasn't done.  "Huh.  Okay."  He let Dean have it.  "Now I know."  He finished his cocoa, looking over as Ethan wobbled out.  "You all right?"

"Fine," he admitted.  He looked over Dean's shoulder, humming in displeasure.  "Cold iron?"  Xander nodded.  "We have some in the garage."  He got some blood out of the freezer and found his mug, putting it into the microwave.  He saw Dean's look.  "Xander made it very clear he'd stake us if we used his mugs, boy.  Calm down."  He pulled it out and went to share it with his sire.  "I've called Angel for the spell's ingredients."

"Thanks."  He shrugged.  "He's trying to get Giles back here with Buffy so we've got some help."

"That could help," Dean agreed.  "Could she survive this?"

"Yeah.  I'd make sure of that," Xander admitted.  He put his empty mug down.  "She might rag on me for having to handle things on my own and ending up tied to the hellmouth in a permanent fashion but yay.  I had to, they weren't here and the Watchers woosed out.  Then again, she might end up in LA helping Angel."  He shrugged.  "We'd have to see how it went."  He looked at Sam then at Dean.  "There's the attic too if you don't want to sleep on the books."

"We've got sleeping bags," Dean promised with a small smile.

"Then you can squat up there.  I'm going to go back to my nap until around dinner time.  We still hunt at night."  That got a nod and Dean went to get their gear, bringing it up to the attic while Xander went back to his bedroom and flopped down in there.  He didn't know why Ethan had let him sleep on the couch for three days but he had missed his bed and the calming magic he had put on it.  It helped the nightmares.


Dean settled in and looked over at his brother.  "What do you think the chances of us having to jump in are?" he asked quietly.

Sam looked at him.  "I think Xander's the same sort of stubborn you are, Dean.  He'll do what's necessary to win the situation, even if he does die."  That got a nod.  "I'm sure we'd all rather he stick around but he'll make sure it'll be fine.  I have every confidence in him.  We might've been doing this longer but he's got more determination to stay in the fight than dad did."

Dean smirked.  "Think they're listening?"

"Doesn't matter.  I do think that."  He snuggled down into his sleeping bag.  "We should rest if we're going hunting with them tonight."  Dean nodded, laying down as well.

Downstairs Spike smiled.  The whelp would be protected if something happened to him and Ethan.  They had needed to hear that.  Now all he had to do was to get Ethan onto the boy's case so he'd finally heal and quit losing so much energy.  He went to talk to him about that.  "Any way for us to stop the gaping hole that's making the boy leak like a sifter?"

Ethan looked at him.  "Blow up the hellmouth."

Spike shook his head.  "Before then?"

"Blow up the hellmouth.  Or rearrange the way he's bound to it but that would take two sorcerers or witches working together.  The only ones he'd trust are on the other side of the country."

"We might be able to get Tara once Red's outta the hospital."

"Perhaps.  If we could make sure she'd be safe while Tara was gone."

Spike considered it.  "The evil geeks."  Ethan smirked.  "Miami's safe."

"Miami is safe by the diagram and wasn't that unsafe when I was down there.  She could easily recuperate in the sun."  He shifted until he was sitting up.  "I'm still wondering if it's happening because he took his oath here, whereas most Watchers take them in England, or if it's because he's a medium."

Spike shrugged.  "You have no idea how well the boy warps magic," he said dryly.

"Good point.  I had forgotten about that.  I'll call Tara."  He dialed the hospital room's number, getting a tired sounding voice.  "Miss Rosenburg, is Miss Maclay there.  Yes, it is me, but I'm working with Xander.  Because the world is going to end," he said dryly.  "Why else would I be on the hellmouth after it was evacuated?"

Spike took the phone.  "Red, we need Glinda and we're figuring where you'll be safest to heal.  No, Red.  There's no homes here.  No people here but hunters.  Me, Ethan, and Xander, but he's got a few friends in for tonight's battle.  Because someone had to take the guardian's oath," he said dryly.  "Hand the phone to Tara, love."  He waited while she did.  "Tara, us.  We need to fix how the boy's bound to the hellmouth before he dies.  We can find someone to protect her we think.  The evil geek trio's headed for Miami."  He smirked.  "They could, yes.  Plus she'd be safer anyway.  Not much magic down there according to Ethan.  Well, he's my childe now," he said dryly.  "I can humor him.  Yeah, leaking like a sieve back into the thing.  Sure.  That'd work, yeah.  We're here.  No one else is here but we're here."  He smiled.  "Where's that Bobby guy so Glinda can get briefed?" he called, knowing someone was up.  Sam walked out and handed over the address.  "Here we go.  Lawrence, South Dakota.  Singer Salvage Yard.  Yeah, him. No, those two're here."

Sam took the phone.  "Tara, it's Sam."  He smiled.  "I don't know what they're working on."

"Getting Xander's link fixed so it's not gonna kill him," Spike said.

"Oh, okay, they're trying to help Xander a bit."

"It needs two witches and I could use her heft to help me call back Rupert and the annoying one's plane," Ethan told him.

"Plus Ethan thinks he can get the slayer's plane back from wherever it went.  Yeah, we're here.  We're the only ones here.  Xander's napping.  No, Spike had to feed off him because he was injured.  Sure, we're here.  Thanks, Tara.  Where?"  He looked at them.  "Miami?"

"The evil geek trio are headed down there," Dean reminded him as he walked in.  He took the phone.  "Tara, need help getting this way?"  He smiled.  "Get to Cleveland and call on Drew and Caleb.  They're both there for that battle.  Caleb's staying for a few extra days and getting Willow somewhere more hidden is better for her anyway.  Miami's got a nice motel called the Gabled Roof.  It's a lot like a cheesy porno looking place with gold leaf on everything but it's got heavy wards on it and the local witches all keep it up because they work there.  Tell her Ethan's working on getting the plane back now.  Yeah, we could.  Thanks, Tara.  See you soon.  No, we're here for at least another week.  Sure."  He hung up and smacked Spike on the head.  "Tara said to do that for feeding on Xander."  He walked off, going back to bed.  "Wake us up before we go hunting."

Sam grinned.  "He needs a nap.  He wouldn't let me drive yesterday."  He headed up to his own sleeping bag.

Spike shook his head quickly.  "Okay then."

Ethan laughed.  "I had that same feeling the first time I ran into the irritating little boy in the next room.  He does so like to mess in others' plans, doesn't he?"

"Now and then," Spike agreed.  "Treated me with respect though, even when I was harmless."  He flopped down onto the bed.  "Never forgot I'm who I am.  Treated me with a touch of caution even though he did snarl and snark at me as the girls say."  Ethan smiled.  "I like the boy for that much.  He did respect me, even when I'm injured."  He lit his next cigarette, looking at the pack.  "Need to hunt for more tonight."  That got a nod and they laid down, him taking Ethan's book and putting it aside so he could claim some of the sire's rights.


Tara hung up the phone, leaning down to kiss Willow's head.  "I've been telling you what's been going on."

"All you said was the hellmouth was acting hellmouthy again."

She gave her a look.  "You weren't listening, were you?"  She nodded.  "I told you when Giles and Buffy's plane got taken from this reality."  Willow sat up with a hiss, grabbing her ribs.  "The same as I told you that all of us taking a vacation at the same time led to a prophecy that could've been a lot easier if we hadn't.  They evacuated Sunnydale a few days back, Willow."  Willow whimpered.  "Xander's the one holding the hellmouth together.  He had to take some sort of vow to do that and it tied him to the hellmouth.  Even the vampires ran," she said more gently, stroking over her hair.  "They're down to the ones that're insane."  Willow let out another whimper.  "The Watchers don't want to read the whole prophecy so they're blaming it on you guys for jumping in because they decided that was the sign it was going to happen.  The prophecy said it'd happen after someone jumped in as part of the time code."  Willow flopped back down then nearly curled in a ball around her ribs.  "They're all hiding."


"No, silly, the Watchers.  Angel's overloaded because all the demons from home went to LA.  There's a bunch of battles going on and the nice guys who came to check on us for Xander are fighting those.  I need to get back there."

"That place in Miami...."

She leaned down to get into her face.  "Andrew and them are going there too.  You can work with them for now."  She nodded, getting that.  "Plus Ethan thinks he has a way to get Giles and Buffy back."

"Good.  Then she can take over and Xander can go back to supporting her, like he should," she said.

Tara gave her a look.  "Willow, Xander and Spike have held the hellmouth together since before we left.  Not like any of us patrolled the week before with finals and all that."  She went paler.  Tara nodded.  "Since then it's gotten worse.  Xander's partially tired because Spike had to feed off him or die."  She found the number she had been given, smiling at the gruff answer she got.  She had gotten a lot more confident around all these other hunters.  They treated her like she was a good girl with good sense and had her control in check.  It made her feel much better about things to know that she was respected by people who hadn't met her before this problem.  Hiding and protecting Willow for over a month had helped too.  Now she understood why combat changed a person's soul.  "Caleb, it's Tara.  Sam said to call you and so did Dean.  No, we're good but Willow's going to Miami to be protected with some guys who know what's going on.  I'm needed back home," she said quietly.  "Ethan thinks we can loosen the bond so Xander's not in as much pain.  Please.  I can meet you wherever you want.  Hiding here means that I've got the rest of our roadtrip funds.  I can put her and me both on a plane.  Or not," she agreed at his worried comment.

"Fine, I can go by bus."  She smiled, writing down a number.  "You sure?  Thank you, Caleb.  Sure, I'm here.  Thank you."  She hung up and called the other number.  "Warren, it's Tara," she said quietly.  She had done a confidence spell earlier in case they were attacked again.  It was the day for it.  It helped since they didn't really know who she was.  "I need you three to guard Willow for me.  Yes, Miami's a good spot.  Xander and them agreed.  Please?  Broken ribs and stuff.  Sure, you can get her to teach you some new magic.  You poor thing."  She smiled gently at Willow.  "I'll let her know.  When will you get there?"  She giggled.  "That's fine.  The Gabled Roof is what was suggested.  It's a protected area.  I'll send her down by bus.  Thank you."  She hung up and looked at her.  "They'll meet you down there in a few days."  She took a kiss.  "Sally's nearby so she's going to pick me up here.  I'll pick up your bus ticket on the way, sweetie. You be careful and behave."  She hurried to repack the stuff she had unpacked, going to clean up a bit as well.  Then she came out and got another kiss as the mercenary walked in.  "Hi."

"Hi, Tara.  What's up?"

"Ethan needs me at home."

"Are you *sure*?  It's been evacuated," she said grimly.

Tara nodded.  "I can help and Willow's going to Miami."

"We can stop and get her a bus ticket then bring it back," she promised, smiling at Willow.  "Channel ten runs an update on the stuff out there nearly nightly now, Willow."

"When did we meet you?" she asked.

"Oh, about six assaults ago," she said dryly.  "You were still unconscious but Xander called a hunter in our circle to get you ladies protection.  Since they took out everyone that they could."  She patted Tara on the back.  "Just the three things?"

"One's hers."  She made sure of it, then hurried out with her.  "We think we can loosen the bond Xander has so he's not so sick," she said quietly.

"I can only hope so too," Sally agreed.  "Bobby said he was a goofy kid who got sucked in."

"Jumped in," Tara corrected.  "But yes, he is."  She smiled.  "He jokes a lot but he's the best friend I've ever had."  Sally smiled at that.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem.  I'm heading where Caleb is and he's heading to Bobby after this, then Bobby can get you out there."  She patted her on the knee.  "Bus station first, right?"  She nodded, running inside once they got there to buy Willow's ticket, then they hurried back to the hospital.  Tara got another kiss and told the nurse about Willow's memory problems before leaving again.  Something was going on inside Willow again so someone should check it out.


Dean limped in from that night's battle, looking at Ethan.  "Damn."

Ethan smirked.  "Exactly.  The liniment's in the refrigerator.  Neosporin is in the bathroom.  Bandages as well.  Try not to track blood in please.  I'm still having some control issues."

Xander limped in, leaning on the walls before he slid down.  "Hey, Ethan, can I please have a hammer so I can club myself in the head?"

"No," he said patiently.  "Why would you need to?"

Xander looked at him.  "Found the magic user.  He's gone now.  The demon his death summoned was very nasty.  It tried to eat Sam instead of me, which is a nice change, but it was still nasty.  And it went sploosh very badly too.  Spike and Sam are outside using the garden hose because the slime was eating their clothes."

Ethan got up to help them, tossing bandages to Dean as he walked past him.  "Do each other."

"Thanks for the suggestion but not into boys," Dean called after him.

Xander snickered quietly.  "I have no idea if I am or not but I'm too tired to even think about it."  He stood up, grabbing some to put over some of Dean's injuries.  "Thank you," he said quietly.

"Not an issue, Xander.  We macho super hunters have to stick together sometimes."

Xander grinned at that.  "I'm still a normal guy who jumped in.  I will go with the macho part though."  He taped down a stubborn corner and moved onto the next injury.  "That's deep.  It might need stitches."

"Sammy does those for me."  That got a nod and he went to get Sammy for him.  He looked at the hole then nodded.  "Yeah, that'll need stitches.  I'm going to be in a lot of pain when the adrenaline wears off."

"No, ya think?" Sammy said as he walked in.

"No picking on him.  He got stabbed so you could get slimed," Xander reminded him.  He handed over the first aid tackle box.  "Should be in the bottom compartment."

Sam dug out what he needed, sitting Dean down so he could stitch the bigger holes.  "Xander, do you need some?"

Xander shook his head.  "No, I'm good.  Just banged up."

Dean looked at him.  "I can see at least four puncture wounds from this side alone, Harris.  Sammy, strip him if you have to."

"He said he's too tired for that," Ethan said dryly.

"I'm not suggesting he strip him for that purpose but not stitching them will make the injuries last longer and he'll be more tired."

"We get four whole months to finish clearing out the hellmouth," Xander reminded him.  "Then we've got another one coming in with even bigger and badder demons."

"Yay you.  Isn't that at the same time as the one in Cleveland is supposed to open slightly?"  Xander gave him an insane look but nodded.  "We'll probably be there."

"Figured you would be.  I might let you guys haul off the excess books around here so they're not lost."

Ethan shrugged.  "I don't need all of them.  As long as I could get to them."

"Any idea on getting Giles and Buffy back so she can handle Cleveland?" Xander asked.

"I still need something from a third victim."

"Damn.  Did Don say he could?"

"He said he'd try," Ethan promised.  "If I had a manifest we might be able to find something else."

"Or con their relatives into it," Dean agreed.  Xander gave him a dirty look.  "Sometimes we have to when we need information."

"Leave me out of that part," Xander said calmly.

Dean smirked.  "You're too nice for it anyway."

"Not really.  I'm too tired to have dirty, evil thoughts or draw my usual evil women."  He winced when Sam grabbed his shirt and took it from him.  "Hey!"

"Shut up," Dean ordered.  He and Ethan ended up holding Xander down so they could stitch the cuts and stab wounds he had.  "Was there something on them that makes us not hurt as much?"

"Welcome," Ethan said dryly.  "It's in the liniment."

"Thanks," Sam said.  "Can I get the recipe?"

"And the spell," he agreed.  He smirked.  "It does come in handy.  I used to make a lot for Ripper."

Xander looked at him.  "That's not a multiple personality, right?  Because if it is, would that count?"

"I'm fairly certain I'd need things from three separate victims.  I'm not sure how multiple personalities relate to calling spells."  He went to look that up.  They might have it if so.

Dean patted Xander on the head.  "It's an idea."

"It is," Sam asked, keeping his opinion to himself.  He finished with Xander and let him go once he had bandaged the last spot.  "There we go.  We need more of these."

Xander looked at him.  "The ER stayed up because it was off to the side in the new building.  We can raid tomorrow."  They both smirked and nodded. "Plus the grocery store.  I'm out of cocoa."  He sat up with a groan.  "I'm going to bed.  Night, guys."

"Night," they said together.

Dean waited until he was in bed to look at his little brother.  "We need to know what'll come out of Cleveland.  I've never dealt with demons this tough before.  All ours were lower level or possessions."

Sam nodded.  "We'll figure it out.  Maybe they have a manual for identification."  Ethan walked out and handed him one then went back out to the garage.  "Thanks," he called after him.  They sat down to look through it.  They had things for most everything but some of the more esoteric demons, but it never hurt to have a small sample of whatever they were killed by if it wasn't heavy and wouldn't take up too much room.

Spike came in and took the book, handing over another one.  "Better and more practical to the East Coast.  Some of those are nearly mythical."  He walked off again.  "Watch out for tentacles from the hellmouth.  The one here had a kraken."

Dean moaned, looking that up.  If they'd run into one in Cleveland they needed to know how to kill it.  Plus get this book to Bobby for future use.