Notes: Sorry about this one. I lost the original muse for about six months and then something near enough came back. So if it changes direction really suddenly, that's why.
Only Family Can Ruin You.
Ares looked around the group in front of him. "It's time, people, we've been hiding people now for years and it's now time to bring them home."
"But if we do that, it'll scare others," Athena said simply. "I don't want to cause a panic."
"Yes, well, neither do I," Ares said patiently, "but, it's time. Even the Fates said it's time." They all nodded, they couldn't argue with that. "Where are all yours, Athena?"
"I've got two warriors chosen but we all know I haven't went out to spread around my seed like some of the Gods have."
"Point," he admitted, looking at Hermes. "Yours?"
"Two daughters, a son," he shrugged. "Auto is around somewhere. The daughters are spread around somewhere but he knows where."
"Fine," Athena agreed. "Yours, Ares?"
"The kids with Aphrodite, the six or seven others here and there. Most of them are still alive. A few I'm not sure *how*," he offered. "A few I'm really not sure how they keep surviving."
"Well, some of your kids *are* a bit stubborn," Hermes said dryly. "Any we should be concerned about?"
"Not a clue," Ares admitted. "I have Cupid checking on them. He does it about every month. Cupid!"
Cupid appeared. "What, Pops? I'm trying to fix a tragic mistake in *someone*'s kid," he said bitterly. "I have *no* idea how Mom missed this one going so *wrong*!"
Ares looked at him. "My daughter?"
"No, not hers. Though she's got a few issues coming," he admitted. "No, one of her friends. That kid that we thought was yours? Him." He shuddered. "The shit is piling higher and deeper in his life. I swear, I've never seen anything so bad," he finished with a whimper.
"Did you ever figure out whose kid he is?" Ares asked patiently.
"Hell no! I can't get that close to him without getting sick, man." He flopped down, looking at the others. "Tara's a sweetie to his daughter, but their friends are just screwed. Oh, Auntie, your slayer? She's there too, mixed up in it."
"My daughter is helping a slayer?" Ares said flatly. Cupid nodded and Athena burst out giggling, nodding as well. "Why?"
"I don't know, why is she a witch?" Athena chuckled.
Ares glared at her. "She's a what?"
Cupid nodded. "True, Pops. She's a witch. One of Hecate's chosen. I still want to know who that boy's real parents are."
"Which boy?" Athena asked with a small smirk. "That walking disaster area Harris?" Cupid nodded. She sat up. "You mean he's not one of Ares'?"
Ares and Cupid both shook their heads. "Not a chance," Cupid assured her. "Little Willow is his. Buffy's your chosen. Then there's Tara, who is somehow related to 'Dite somehow," he offered. "Leaving us one odd person out."
"Plus the others here and there," Hermes pointed out. He looked at Cupid. "Where is Strife?"
"Not. A. Clue. Man." He shrugged and his wings flapped gently. "Strife!" He appeared, looking attentive. "The Fates said it's time to bring 'em home."
"Ah... one'a mine's kinda in the middle of a war." Ares looked at him. "Scotland." Ares groaned and put his head down. "So we need ta kinda move that way for a bit."
"The Fates said to bring them all home," Ares said, looking at him. "So, we will. Then we'll rearrange and regroup. It could be that one of mine can help him." He looked around. "When?"
"We don't have a date?"
"They never gave me one," Ares said sarcastically. "And?"
"Next weekend, it's a time off for most kids," Strife pointed out. "Spring holiday times."
"Sure," Cupid agreed. "The kids I've been watching are off too. All but that one." Strife looked confused and Cupid stood up, taking him there. They came back a minute later. "Do you have a clue?"
"Yeah, a big one," he said dryly, looking at Ares. "Are we missing anyone?" he offered with a smirk. They all shook their heads. "Not a one?"
"Not a one," Ares said bitterly. "We've even got Bacchus back."
"So, there's, like, no Uncle missing? Or maybe Uncle's offspring with a Goddess?" Strife asked/hinted. Ares sat up straighter, staring him down. Strife just smirked.
"Give," Ares growled.
"What is going on here?" Hera demanded as she appeared.
"The Fates said to bring them back."
Hera glared at him. "This is not a good time."
"And?" Strife smirked at her. "So, Hera, how many Godly births happened, oh, about twenty years ago?"
"None," she snapped, glaring at him. "Make sense for once."
"Sure." Strife pulled and the one kid showed up. He waved at him. "Sorry," he said, grinning at him. "You're part of a larger situation and we've got to do this now."
Xander swung the hammer in his hand around a few times, looking at him. "If you get me fired, I'm going to shove this up your ass sideways," he said dryly, staring him down.
"I'm sure," Ares said impatiently, standing up. "Mind toning down the attitude, kid?"
Xander Harris looked at him, then threw the hammer at him, watching as it bounced off his shields. "You don't scare me, leather daddy. So sit your overly tanned ass down." He looked at Cupid. "What did you do this time?" he demanded.
"You saw me?"
"No shit," he said dryly. "By the way, whoever the skinny, cackling dude is," he glanced at Strife. "The other one." He looked at Cupid again. "Said that you've already failed and that it's not your fault, it's just Fate biting me on the ass. Or, actually, he said the Norns but I got the translation from Willow."
"You know my daughter?" Ares asked dryly.
"Nah, ya think?" Xander said dryly. He looked at Hera. "Hey, Grandma." She sneered and let out a small growl. He smirked and walked over, kissing her on the cheek. "Daddy said to do that if I ever met you. Then again, he told me to kick you in the balls too." He looked at Athena. "Did you know Buffy's a fruitcake now?"
"You brought her back," Athena said dryly.
"Point. But then again, I couldn't work with Kendra full time. I'd get bored with no one to flirt with." He put his arm around Hera's shoulders. "So, what's the sitch and how can the Hellmouth gang help you now?"
"One of the other kid's is having a small war with wizards," Strife told him. "Also, there's a thing up here with the Fates and a lot of the kids around here. We have to bring you all up."
"Does that mean Dad's allowed back?" Hera shoved his arm off and he sneered at her. "Just think, I could have been *normal*," he said dryly. "But you hated daddy and had him sent away." Then he smiled sweetly. "Let the Fates kill you all." He looked at Strife, then summoned his hammer back. "Sorry, I actually have to earn a living. Dad said so." He wiggled his fingers. "I'll tell Willow to expect a call for help." Then he disappeared.
"Strife, how dare you!" Hera started.
"Hey, wasn't me," he said dryly. He looked at Ares. "He look familiar to you?"
"He looked a bit familiar. Why?"
"His daddy's Joxer," Strife said dryly. "His mommy's Loki. You tell me."
"Joxer. As in Jett's little brother, the one they gave the ambrosia to by accident?" Ares asked flatly. Strife beamed and nodded, then smirked at Hera, who let out a shriek. "Lachesis!" he bellowed. She appeared and flicked off a piece of lint. "You never told me to gather Joxer's kids. Should I?"
"It might help, yes," she offered dryly. She looked at Hera. "Payback time, dear," she offered sweetly, then smirked at Ares. "Unfortunately he is instinctive to the Hellmouth's defense system. He'll also be able to help that problematic son of Strife's a bit. Oh, and you do know that he's Jett's little love toy, right? So that means they've *all* got to come back."
"I will not have them here!" Hera shouted.
Zeus appeared and cleared his throat. "What is going on?"
"Time for the kiddies to come home, Zeus," Lachesis said dryly. "It's time for a family meeting." He blanched. "By the way, that *accidental* exposure God, Joxer, his son's got to come and he's dating Jett. You do the math, sweetie." She looked at Ares, then at Strife. "Yes, help your son, dear. He needs the help if he's going to win. There's a lot of shit on his plate."
"And the other question then becomes do we invite some others?" Cupid asked dryly. "Because there's some who only fit into the 'other' category."
She considered it, then shook her head. "Not this time, love. Next time." Then she giggled and curtsied, then faded out, just leaving her giggle behind.
"Oh, shit, she was cackling," Strife said, looking at his uncle. "That's a bad thing, right?" Ares nodded and created a mug of beer, gulping it. Strife took it and refilled it before swallowing it in one long chug. "Damn, I needed that. Okay, so who do I bring to Hogwarts?"
"Uh," Hermes said. "Hecate?"
Strife looked at him. "She told me to butt out."
"Ah." Hermes nodded. "Well, it's your kid, dude, who do you want?"
"Not a clue," he admitted, shrugging a bit. "Ares, I need help there. There's just too much going wrong in that war. Manipulations on one side, evil bastards controlling puppets on the other. My poor damn kid's stuck in the middle and getting ready to suffer."
Ares groaned and nodded. "Bring me a concise report, let me study it overnight." Strife clapped and a folder appeared in his hands, which he handed over. "This is a summary?"
"Yeah," he said grimly. "It's that bad." He shook his head and looked at Cupid, then at Zeus and Hera. "So, should I go and invite Jace personally or do you think Xander's going to do it?"
"Who is this Xander?" Zeus asked.
Cupid created a mirror and ran back the last few minutes before he had gotten there, which made him go even paler. "Him. Hecate!" She appeared, already snarling. "Honey, one of your chosen is Ares' kid and we're being told to bring them home."
"Which?" She glared at Strife. "Butt out of it."
"My son's there, I doubt it," he said grimly. She gaped and he shrugged. "You'd like the kid probably but you're too big a bitch." He looked at Cupid. Then he looked at Hecate again. "Willow is Ares' daughter."
"Shit," she sighed, shaking her head. "There's a major demon coming."
"And?" Ares asked, shrugging a bit. "We can kill them too. By the way, no more magical wars," he whined. "I don't want to deal with them and you always leave crap hanging for me to deal with. That's probably what this is." Strife nodded hard, moving most of his body. "Oh, man!" He leaned back and created more beer. "How bad?"
"We're talking half soul shades after nearly being killed. Manipulating good guys, puppet bad guys, pain and suffering for shits and giggles. Like that guy in Sparta, only with magic and with a bunch'a kids facin' off with him, Unc." Ares moaned and took another drink. "Which my son jumped in to help with."
"Fuck," he snarled, glaring at Hecate. "You, go help on the Hellmouth, we'll take care of this war. Watch out for Harris, he's in big fit mode. Must have learned that from Jace."
"Harris? I thought he was one of ours!" she demanded, stamping a foot. "I know that kid is Olympian."
"He's Joxer and Loki's," Strife told her. She let out a soft whimper and he nodded. "Yeah, makes sense, don't it," he offered dryly. "Cupie never figured it out either. Oh, and he's dating Jett. You might wanna lay low. Jett's coming back tonight from South America." Then he grinned smugly. "Have fun with that now, and write if you need us."
She flashed out with a moan.
Ares looked at Hermes. "Go get the others from Cheyenne Mountain. I need my other nerdly kid here too," he complained with a small sigh. He nodded, starting a list. "Athena, want your chosen?" She nodded, getting comfortable. "Cupid, any he can stop and pick up?"
"Nah, I've got Bliss on it, Pops." He looked back at their ruling couple. "You wanted to add a few names for us to grab? And should he grab Jace? He's technically family since he ate some of the ambrosia too when Jett forced it on him."
"Pity Joxer got him back for it," Ares snorted. "I think that was the only sweet thing Jett ever did, trying to make sure his family lived on even though he wouldn't." Athena nodded at that. "Spread it around to the others too, Hermes. Let's see if any other sudden family members show up."
"Sure," he agreed, getting up and flying off.
"You are not in charge," Hera snapped, glaring at him.
"Hey, you go against the Fates. I'm not that dumb or that suicidal," he noted, standing up. "Any other debates?" he asked. The others shook their heads and flashed out. Ares took his beer with him. The thought of that one kid was still giving him a headache. Then he realized that Daniel and that kid were going to meet, and that Strife's kid Percy and that kid were going to meet. How Strife ever had a kid like Percy he wasn't sure, but he was. He flopped down and put his feet up, finishing that beer and putting the mug aside. His doors slammed open and he looked at the man walking in. "Hey, Jace. Long time, no see. How's the nephew?"
"Oh, you met Xander?" he asked with a gentle smile. "What's going on?"
"Family reunion," he said grimly. "The Fates said so."
"A quorum?" he asked. Ares nodded. "Any idea why?" Ares shook his head. "Should I bring Xander myself?"
"Yeah, you might want to," he admitted. "Why is he sleeping with Jett? Does he not realize that's his uncle?"
"Yes, but he claims he's already so screwed up incest is a step down," Jace said dryly, waving a hand about. "My poor nephew is very wrong in the head sometimes and Jett makes him happy and saner. Therefore I leave it alone." He smiled as Zeus stomped in. "Hello again!" he said cheerfully, smirking at him. "It's a beautiful day outside. Thank you!"
"Go away," Zeus ordered. He looked at Ares. "Why did the Fates order this?" Ares shrugged. "I know you know."
"Maybe because so many of the kids are in danger, Zeus, did you ever think about that?" Ares asked bitterly. "Strife's kid is in the middle of a war. Joxer's kid is fighting on the Hellmouth with mine and a slayer and one of Aphrodite's get. My main son is traveling to other worlds to fight a war. You tell me why." The thought of Daniel's job made him refill his mug and take a long drink. This was going to be a bad day for him. He could tell it already. Maybe it'd end in a haze but he'd still have to remember. Zeus flashed him sober and Ares put back the alcohol content. "I needed that, thank you." He finished off that mug and looked at Jace. "Is Xander as bad as his father?"
"Possibly a bit worse. He's no longer that clumsy, but he's ... well, he's *special*," he offered delicately. "Joxer had the kid taken away from him by someone, we're not sure which God out of Asgard did it, and he was put somewhere worse, Ares. The boy is a wreck in love for a good reason and Jett's the best thing in his life. That's why we don't break them up and his other father can't visit him without getting random power surges. That's why he never met his other father."
"Who is this boy?" Zeus demanded.
"The same one they showed you, Zeus," Ares said tiredly. "He fights with Athena's chosen and my daughter." He shuddered. "Fine. We're doing a switch. Jace, Daniel is to go to Sunnydale to help Hecate. The slayer crew is to go with Strife to Hogwarts to solve shit there." He pulled the file to him to read, then moaned. "I'll have a battle plan drawn up by tonight." Jace nodded and bowed, disappearing. He looked at his father. "Go ask them. I have no clue why they're doing this. If I did, I'd be happier." He headed for his study with his beer and locked himself inside. Any of the other twats involved in this could come find him.
"I'm not coming!" Jett called.
"Sure, you can leave your boy all alone among the Gods and the wizards he'll be fighting with," Ares said dryly. Jett appeared in a small burst of flames. "If you singed the carpet again, I'm going to have to kill you temporarily," he noted without having to look.
Jett fixed the carpet with a snap of his fingers. "There, better?" he asked dryly. "What wizards?" Ares held out the file, leaning back to watch him read. He flipped to the summary of the summary and grabbed the beer to drink, sitting down to read it. "Just my boy?"
"No, all them. My son Daniel is coming to the Hellmouth to help Hecate fix that situation. Your boy and the others there are going to help that war, and then we're all coming up here to do the family meeting. You can go if you want."
"My son's the hero bending over and taking it anyway," Jett announced. Ares just moaned and took his beer back. "Which one's Strife's kid?"
"Percy? Straight laced, hates to laugh, focused on being a good toady Percy?" Ares nodded. "How?"
"He's a lot like his mother," Strife called. He appeared, looking grim. "He's doing what he thinks is right," he admitted. "I hate it for him. I can't change his mind however." He nodded at the folder. "Harry's yours?" Jett nodded. "Should've figured. He's got your focus in a battle." He looked up. Then back at Ares. "What am I going to do about Ron? Or the bushy chick?"
"Granger will survive and do great things," Jett assured him. He went back to reading. He had known most of this. "Hey, Ares, have them take the kids out of school for some 'special training' or something," he decided. "Get them all away from both sides. Oh, Strife, Ron's looking really angry down the line. He's exactly the sort to do bad things for the good of everyone. Think inquisition." Strife whimpered and shuddered. "So, let's watch out for the kid."
"You want another boy?" Strife asked. "I can arrange that."
"My first one might get upset, but he does have a thing for redheads," Jett offered with a small smirk. "We'll see what happens. I'll be heading with them." Strife relaxed and nodded. "It's going to have to be an 'ambush and attack' situation to solve it."
"Sure," Ares agreed. "Not a problem. Just get them back here safely."
"I can probably bring Percy up here at least," Strife offered. "That way you can have a secretary and someone to file scrolls."
"Please. My office is once again a wreck thanks to your mother floating off somewhere to screw with a politician."
"Actually, I think it's a cult leader this time," Strife offered. He looked at Jett. "You know your boy's a good candidate for that, right?" Jett beamed proudly and nodded. "As long as you know that."
"Oh, I know," he promised smugly. "I can definitely see him enjoying it too. Messing with heads is one of his favorite things outside the bedroom." Strife smirked at that. "What can I say? I had to take him from Anya, who was training him to perform, and bring him to my bed and train him to perform. Very pure too." He moaned a bit and shifted. "Very, very pure. Just a bit naughty now and then on purpose."
Strife nodded. "I saw. How's Loki doin'?"
"Not too horrible but he can't get near the kid, Strife. Xan gives him random power surges and he starts to cackle and glow and then has to release it. The last time was a halloween if I remember right."
"Cupe said something about that," Strife admitted, shaking his head. "So it's not going to be a boring meeting." Someone pounded on the door. "It's private!"
Willow walked in, glaring at him. "So? I was invited."
"Yeah, and I'm sending your whole team to work with another group of heros in a magical battle where the hero is bending over and taking it from both sides," Ares told her. "Jett's going with you."
"Can I bring Tara?" Ares shrugged. "Thanks." She beamed at him. "Then what?"
"Then it's a family thing," Jett told her, sounding grim. "The Fates said so."
"Aw, poopie." She leaned down to kiss Ares on the cheek. "Daddy, can I have a new cauldron? I melted my last one."
"Sure. Go have Hephie make you one," he said, patting her on the back. "Do you get along well with that Xander kid?"
"We're best friends." Jett stared her down and she blanched. "We are!" she defended.
"I bet," he said dryly. "Shoo." She stomped off, nose in the air. "Don't ask, there's a bit too much conflict there," he complained, shifting some. "Her girlfriend is very sweet. She's the definition of sweet lesbian girlfriend." He stood up. "I'm going to get jumped by my boy. Tell me when we're going and I'll allow him to put clothes back on." He faded out, leaving the folder there.
Ares shuddered. The thought of Jett and that Xander kid together was enough to give him nightmares. "I want to know everything about that Xander kid," he ordered Strife. "We need to know what he'll do in that other battle."
Strife coughed and handed over the folder. "Here ya go." He looked over as Willow came back with her new cauldron. "You're gonna go to a magical place ta work. That bother you?" She shook her head. "You sure?" She nodded. "Good! How will Xander react?"
"Will Jett let him come?" she sneered.
Ares glared up at her. "Yes, he will if I say so." She shivered and nodded, ducking her head. "What will he do?"
"He can't do magic, daddy." She looked at him. "He's a normal guy who jumped in and occasionally has bad luck in the fights. Demons like him. If we bring him, it could let him get hurt and then Jett would blame me."
Strife snorted. "Fat lot you know, chick. Trust me here." He looked at Ares. "Finish reading. I'll go tell Ron." Ares nodded. "We're sure? Before I have to announce it?"
"Go," Ares noted, flicking a hand. "Now. It'll be over break." Strife nodded and disappeared. Ares looked at his daughter, closing the folder. "Let me see your memories of Xander since you're so close. I've got to plan what he's doing." She sighed and opened her mind, letting him inside. He pulled back and rubbed his forehead. "Fine. It'll be a few days. Get things together." She nodded and disappeared. Ares put his head down. It was definitely one of those fights.
Strife appeared in a dungeon and looked around, whistling a bit. "This is cheerful." Ron gave him a horrified look so he grinned. "Sorry. You know me, kid?" Ron slowly nodded. "Good. You're gettin' help. Two witches of another sort, a slayer, a Watcher if we can manage it, and a demigod who's not all bad, but his lover isn't all good either. Got it?" Ron nodded slowly again.
"Mr. Weasley, what are you staring at?" the teacher hissed.
"The guy in leather standing there saying that we're getting visitors," he said, pointing at Strife. Strife only smirked and winked, then disappeared. Ron shook his head and looked at the teacher. "Sir, I, um, just got visited by a member of my distant family. I think. Kinda." He shook his head again, banishing that thought at the amused sneer. "Sorry, sir, Strife, God of Mischief, just appeared and said we're getting visitors. We're getting a slayer, her Watcher, two other sort of witches, one demigod and his lover, one who's not all bad and the other's not all good. I think I need to tell someone before my head explodes."
"Twenty points from Gryffindor for lying," he sneered.
"Yay. I've seen him before. Who do you think gave the twins your personal journal." Snape went paler and he shrugged. "Truth, sir. May I go see the Headmaster?" Snape's hand shook as he pointed. "Thank you." He gathered up his things and headed up the stairs, stopping in McGonagall's classroom to wave at her and point upstairs. He headed up there, still shaking his head. "Lollipops." The gargoyle guarding the office turned, allowing him. He rode up the stairs and walked in frowning greatly. "Sir, Strife was just here."
"Why?" he asked, dropping his pen to look at him. "Where was he?"
"Potions. He said we're getting visitors. A slayer, two witches that aren't like us I think from what he said, her watcher, a demigod and his lover, one who's not all bad and one who's not all good."
"I didn't ask that. Professor Snape took twenty points off for me seeing him." He scowled at McGonagall. "Did you just have an explosion? I know he likes to do that."
"He doesn't exist. That's a myth, Mr. Weasley."
Ron looked up. "You wanna get my ass outta trouble?" he called.
Jett appeared, cleaning his nails with a dagger. "Sure, kid." He looked at McGonagall, who went pale and grabbed her throat. "Minnie." He smirked at her, then at Dumbledore. "Two days. The whole Sunnydale group." He looked at Ron. "Does it bother you that Percy's Strife's?"
"No, but I would have expected the twins. Percy's not exactly what you'd think about as one of his kids. Then again, he has been causing a lot of problems recently," he noted dryly. "Which one are you?"
"Jett," he said with a smirk. "Assassin. Lover to Xander. Treat my boy well when he's here and I'm off doing something." Ron just nodded once and headed out, going to do something to make his head quit hurting. They could hear him banging it on the wall downstairs.
Dumbledore called the infirmary. "Poppy, Mr. Weasley was just banging his head against the wall. Please find him and treat him before he's hurt further."
"He just got a visitation."
"Ah. That's fine." She hung up and went to look for the poor thing with a few medicines.
Dumbledore looked at Jett. "You're coming as well? The lover who's not all good?" Jett smirked at him. "Fine. How many? What sort of witches?"
"Nature. Hecate's." Dumbledore shuddered at that. "Powerful too." He smirked at McGonagall again. "You were so much fun when you were rebelling."
"It's one of the things I regret about my youth," she said firmly, heading back to her classroom. There had been an explosion, all the students were outside waiting on her. She opened the door and stinky fog rolled out, making her gag and shut the door. "We'll finish the class outside," she ordered, pointing. "Now!" They marched that way. They were first years and still scared of her thankfully.
Dumbledore licked his lips as he looked at the God. "We really don't need that much help."
Jett snorted. "Really? You sure about that?" He faded out. He went to spy on his boy, finding him in Potions as well. He kicked back in the chair, putting his feet up on the desk while he watched him. He sent a thought to his head, helping him with the lesson, and the teacher still came down on him for doing it right. He smirked and waved a hand, watching as Snape suddenly seemed to stop and look horrified before walking off with his knees tightly clamped together so his underwear wouldn't fall off in class. He appeared and looked at them. "Let's start over, shall we?" he suggested.
"Who the bloody hell are you?" a blond boy sneered.
"Jett. As in the assassin," he said, smirking at him. He zapped him, making him scream. "I'm here to help with the war. I'll be here until it's allllll done with, boy." He smirked at him. "Doesn't that make you dance in joy?" Suddenly Draco started to dance in the most uncoordinated way possible, flailing around like he was having a seizure standing up. "And they say white boys can't dance," Jett sneered at him, letting him go. Draco sat down, looking horrified. "Empty that shit out. We're starting over."
"We've only got ten minutes," a young woman said primly. "The usual teacher will be taking points off us for doing as you say. I think we've lost enough today, don't you?"
Jett smirked at her. "Some people think you'll do great things. You want to live, yes?" She blanched and nodded, scrunching down some. "Good. Tonight, you're to look up a potion called Dreamstate. It's in a big blue book the last I knew. I'm to be given a vial by each of you by the time the Sunnydale crew gets here. For those of you who do it correctly, I'll be letting you help me restock my cabinets," he said smugly. "Those who fudge to stay out of trouble, I'll know. Now, scatter, kids." He looked right at Harry. "Not you. We're here to help you, kid."
"Another group of losers?" Draco sneered.
"Do you often talk to Gods that way, boy?" Jett sneered. "My pet can whip your ass and cackle pleasingly before blowing me for his pleasure. I'd shut up now and do as you're told. You should be good at that." He looked around. "I said scatter." Everyone but Harry ran out. "So, son."
"Son?" he asked dryly.
"Fine, grandson," he said with a smirk. "On your daddy's side actually. Sorry, but we had to have some kids. It's a Godly decree."
"Does that make me a demigod?"
"A powerless one," he agreed. "For right now, we're here to help you, kid. In two days you're getting an experienced team. Listen and learn from them. Then evaluate those around you, especially those giving and taking orders. Even Ares is drinking because of this one."
Harry snorted. "Can I join him?"
"Sure, when you're older," Jett promised with a grin for him. "Good boy. You've got spirit. I like that about you. You'll do fine. Trust Xander. Watch Willow. Trust Tara." Harry nodded at that. "Listen to Buffy, she's been there and done that. Got me here?" He nodded again. "Good. Now, shoo. Ron's in the infirmary. He was banging his head against the walls."
"I wonder why," Snape said as he came back in, his voice dripping venom. "Who are you?"
"Jett. Harry's grandfather." He stared him down. "Yes, I'm that Jett," he purred with a smug look. "We're coming to help. The whole Hellmouth crew." Snape shuddered at that. "Do watch young Willow. Ares' daughter she may be, but clueless she often is. Watch my boy too if I'm not here. He seems to attract trouble." He stood up. "I'll let you out of that assignment, Harry. You've got more important things to do. Get in with Tara." He nodded and hurried out. Jett looked the teacher over, watching him swallow. "Good man. You'll do fine. I'm sure you've seen the inherent problems with the orders the boy's getting."
"I don't pay that much attention to him."
"No wonder he's being fucked by both sides."
"That was not a mental image I wanted or needed," Snape said bitterly, pinching the bridge of his nose. "What are you talking about?" He looked but Jett was gone. "I imagined it." A dagger landed in his desk, waving back and forth with the expended energy of the throw. "Never mind. Two days, I can have more headache medicine done by then." He went to take some, then start some more.
Buffy looked as everyone gathered around her landed in front of a castle, then looked at Jett. "They live in a fairytale?"
"It's a boarding school," Jett said dryly. "Pick up your shit and let's head, people."
"Have I ever mentioned you're annoying when you try to take charge?" Buffy asked sweetly, but she did pick up her bag and her trunk, carrying them after him. "Why can't you heft and tote?"
"Because I'm a God, dear, I don't have to. Xander has to until he begs me to make him one. You do because I'm never making you one."
"Who said I wanted to be one?" Xander said dryly. "I do not, nor will I ever, want to be a God like you." The people around them stopped to stare and he shrugged. "I don't. It's boring. I'd go odd." He looked at the older people facing them. "You called?"
"No, you got sent," McGonagall noted dryly. "You are?"
"Minnie McGonagall, that's my boy, Xander. Watch out for him when I'm not around." She shivered and nodded. "He's a fairly decent fighter, I've been working on his training. He's a lot like my brother some days." He looked at Dumbledore as he joined them. "Late?"
"Sending off an owl to let someone know you were here." He nodded at them. "Who is who?"
"I'm Buffy," Buffy said, waving the trunk. "Packmule and slayer. Behind me are Tara and Willow, my mojo backup and support. Xander's my normal and fighting support, and I'm guessing you already know Jett."
"Yes, we've met," Dumbledore admitted. "Though some apparently know him more than others."
"It was youthful rebellion," McGonagall said firmly. "Nothing more!" She saw Xander opening his mouth and glared at him. "I wouldn't, child."
Xander snickered. "I'm not that young and you'd be surprised at what I dare."
"That's one," Jett said firmly. Xander sighed and nodded, looking away. "Sorry, he's feeling frisky today. So, where are we starting? We need the current intel and a rundown of the major players. Ares only gave me some minor briefing. He's had Strife watching this one through his son."
"Ron?" McGonagall asked.
"Percy actually," he said with a small smirk. "How's my grandson, Minnie?"
"And who's the snotty hottie behind you?" Buffy asked, staring Draco down. "Hey."
"Muggle," he sneered.
"Slayer, dear, not a muggle. Get the titles right." She looked at Xander. "Thanks for that bit of lingo helpage."
"Not an issue." He put down his pack and stretched up. "Where is the Potter kid so I can spar with him? He's got to be better to win. Unfortunately Hecate's doing our Hellmouth at the moment."
"I'm guessing she's liking the lounging in mid-air eating chocolates thing," Willow offered. "Especially since Spike's her present servant and he's off killing things for her pleasure." She looked at Dumbledore. "Where are we setting up? We'll start with scrying spells to update the current intel."
"Most of them are shielded against it."
Willow snickered. "I'm the daughter of Ares. Do you think some puny wizard is going to block me?" His mouth fell open. "So let's settle in and get briefed, people. As much as I like the vacation, I've got a paper due in a week on genome testing."
"This way," McGonagall told her, heading off. "You're in school?"
"College." They followed. "It was decided Jett's giving Harry orders. We're taking it out of the usual methods and doing it faster because there's some big family meeting he's got to attend soon."
"Of course. How were you planning that?" she asked Jett.
"That depends on the current intel." He shrugged. "Give me a few hours to look and hear and then we'll make that decision. Where is Harry?"
"He should be eating breakfast. Mr. Potter!" she bellowed. He came out of the Great Hall looking confused. "You're coming with us. Finish up and head to the third floor east."
"Yes, professor." He watched them walk, then went back to finish eating. His two friends were watching him. "They're here. Hurry up. They should allow you two in too."
"They'd better," Ron said firmly. He finished his juice while the other two finished up then followed them out. Snape gave him an evil look. "I'm going," he told him. "Take points if it gives you a stiffie." He walked past him, following Harry into the room with Hermione behind him. "Welcome."
Jett looked at him and smirked. "Potion?"
Ron snorted. "I'm bloody horrible at 'em. Ask Hermione."
"I wouldn't ever use anything that dangerous," she said firmly. "It was a poison."
"No, really?" he asked dryly. "How are you staying so goody-goody in this war, chick?"
"First, I'm not a baby chicken," she said coolly. "Secondly, I don't sink to their levels."
"Then you probably want to step out of this battle," Xander told her. "Our timetable has the war ending in six days." She just gaped at him and he nodded. "Sorry and all, but yeah. It's going to be nasty and in the middle of the night. If you don't think you can handle that, then out, dear."
"Fine," she agreed. "I'll still have to help Harry prepare."
"We can do that too, that way you're not tainted by looser interpretations of 'good'," Willow pointed out. Hermione stared him down. "Ah. Girlfriend?"
"Bloody hell no, mine," Ron snorted. "So, we're going to kill 'em in the middle of the night or some other convenient time?" He sat down and looked at Jett. "For the record, does Mum know about Percy?" He shook his head. "I didn't figure she did." He got comfortable and smiled at the ladies. "Hi, Ron Weasley." He shook hands around.
"I'm Buffy, the slayer. The other two are my witches, Willow and Tara, and Xander there is my extra support staff," she told him with a grin.
Jett looked at her. "I can chain you down and beat you too," he promised dryly. "He's more than your gopher and chauffeur, Buffy. It'd be nice if you remembered that."
"Sorry!" she sighed.
"Leave it, Jett. It doesn't bother me anymore," Xander told him. He looked at Ron. "So, Jett said that if he's got to leave tomorrow night for a job, you're going to be the one who's supposed to keep me out of trouble. I had plans of breaking bad in the clubs. Wanna come?"
"I'm not sure if I can get permission for that, mate. I'm still in school after all." Xander sighed and shook his head. "But yeah, if you can figure out how to get us off campus without getting my arse in detention for the rest of the year, we're on."
"Xander, no teasing the demons this time," Jett said firmly. "I'm not going to explain how you went to Bacchus for real this time. Joxer nearly lost what was left of his mind the last time."
"Sure. I'll try really hard." He smirked at Ron. "So, I'm fighting helper. Harry, you and Ron are apparently going to be sparring with me." Someone pounded on the door. "Dude, it's open. Don't break it, the painting seemed kinda nice." He looked the boys over. "We'll go on the lawn since it's a pretty day out and I doubt we're going to be fighting inside if it comes down to it." They nodded. "You can come help as well, oh great bushy and moral one."
"That's Hermione," Ron said smugly.
"Sorry, Hermione. Buffy, can you help her with your stuff?" He looked at the people coming in. "Hey, cops. Wow. Do you guys want to test us or help us?" he asked dryly, with a smirk.
"Help mostly," the one in the lead noted. "Though, to arrest your boss."
"Touch my lover," Xander encouraged, staring her down. "Try. Really." She chuckled and Xander lunged, getting her against the wall. "Leave poor Jett alone. He was sent by Ares this time. Try next time, dear," he purred in her face, making her shiver. He stared into her eyes. "Leave what's mine alone or I might break fully. That would be a horrible thing on the world. He's keeping me in check." She nodded quickly so he let her go and stepped back. "Okay, who's doing the briefing?"
"For right now, I've got what Strife's collected and given to Ares," Jett said, waving the file. "Sit, Xander." He sat and Jett gave him a long look. "I won't punish you for that one, but you're treading on very thin ice. Like collared and kneeling all day thin ice." Xander nodded, slouching some in his seat. "Good boy." He looked at the cops. "Come on. Let's get this started. Time's wasting and I've got people to do."
"I'd hope you meant after you left," the head cop, or auror really, noted.
Jett looked at her. "Possibly. I know there's one here in the school. I've got victim sensing radar." She went pale at that. "So we'll see when he's easier to get." He looked at Harry and Ron. "Sorry, but gotta pay the bills somehow." He opened the folder. "All right. From what Strife's witnessed and seen, Harry here's getting it from one end because no one ever thought to sever the link to him, or wouldn't sever the link to him, from the bad guy, and from the other end by bad orders and people who want him to bend over and take it. Since there's manipulation on both sides, he's in the dark until he and his friends have to do something. This has led to unnecessary loss of life and health." He looked at Harry. "Strife said to tell ya he's fine and happy. He got what he deserved and you can see him when you come up for the family thing the Fates called," he said more gently. Harry nodded at that. "That's why we're taking over, kid. So you don't bend over and take one for the team by being shot up the ass and left to die." He looked at the aurors. "As of this moment, the last known position of the bad guy was in Devonshire?" Harry nodded and the aurors nodded. "Good. I know that area fairly well. I'm told he's got about a hundred and thirty members to his pitiful army of world domination and not all of them are there to rule the world, they're mostly there to get their shits and giggles for the day."
"They're with him because they enjoy the torturing," Ron told him.
"What I said, they're getting their shits and giggles from it," Jett told him. He smirked. "Sorry, I speak American most of the time." Ron snickered at that. He looked at the pages again, turning one. "The bad guy has one true weakness, that's his snake. He's milking her for nourishment." He looked at Harry. "How many of you did the potion?"
"Most of the slytherins in the class did," Hermione told him. "Some of us were too scared of you not to. Are you planning on using it on his snake?"
Jett shrugged. "I don't know. Willow, go ahead and break that bond and Tara, please be a sweetie and finish the anti-spying spells?" They nodded and Willow pulled Harry up and into the other room, cutting the connection to the bad guy. Harry yelped and Willow came out. "He okay?"
"Bad headache. He got a bit of backlash." Xander shifted and pulled something out of his pocket, handing it back to her. "Why are you taking seer's headache stuff?"
"Hecate gave it to me before we left. She said to keep it warm. Can you think of a warmer place than in my front pocket?"
"Fine. Thanks. Can I get him some wine to mix it into?" They all looked amused. "It works faster in it." She concentrated and a house elf appeared, making her smile. "I need a goblet of wine for some medicine for Mr. Potter. Would you mind getting me some?" He shook his head and disappeared, coming back with some. She looked at it, it was steaming. "Mulled?"
"No, missus. Professor Snape has it handy."
"Give it here," Jett said, holding out a hand without looking. The house elf handed it to him. He sniffed then tasted, then snickered. "He's poured absinthe in it. Joxer! Send me some wine for Harry? We're having to cure his headache!" A wineskin appeared on the table and he sniffed, then glared at Xander. "Not Bacchus wine, Dionysus wine!" A jug appeared and he sniffed, then handed it to Willow. "Here." She took it and the goblet to rinse out and use. Jett looked at the cowering house elf. "Tell Snapey nice try. I enjoyed it a lot." The house elf nodded and disappeared. He looked at Buffy. "You, take Hermione and talk to the potions master. He's turned sides, I want all the info he's ever had written down and legible this time."
"Sure. Come on, Hermione. This is girl work."
"Snape hates me," she said as she followed her out. "I'm not sure he's straight either."
"What do I care? I'm the slayer, sweetie." She smiled at her. "Jett lets me do stuff like this now and then." She tapped on the office door shown to her when they got there, smirking at the man in black. "Hi. I'm Buffy. Jett said he needs every piece of information you've ever had on the big booger eater. He wants it legible too." She pushed inside and looked around. "This is cheery. I'm surprised we didn't have a teacher like you in Sunnydale." She looked at him again, smirking at his sneer. "He sent me because I'm allowed to break every bone in your body, then let Hermione heal you, and do it again if I have to. It's getting out my bad and evil urges to torture and maim so I don't turn evil," she shared. "I only get to do it once a year or so, but it's really fun." He sat down and started to write. "Thanks." She smiled as a student stuck his head in. "You can come in. We're just chatting. I'm getting some information off him." They walked in quickly and sat in their seats. "Hermione, get them started." She nodded and looked at the lesson plans, then went to instruct the class quietly.
Snape glared at her. "It is my class, Miss Granger."
"She said so! I'm not arguing, I'm scared of her."
"Fine. They're doing page thirty. This will take me a bit. Do so quietly," he sneered at the class in general.
Buffy grinned at them. "Sorry, but we need some stuff he knows to stop the war faster. We've got classes in a week ourselves. Willow's got to write my paper on mythology for me." Hermione gave her a disgusted look. "It's not like I have time for homework, dear. I slay all night. I barely make it out of bed at noon because I'm up fighting all night. That's not to mention all the other stuff I've got to do, like think up cute quips for when I slay vampires and things. I don't have time to do the major research papers. Sorry! Truth, but how the world works. Besides, she makes some major bucks doing papers for others. I get a discount at ten a pop, but others pay up to fifty each." She shrugged. "She only does it for electives. They have to go to the higher priced and worse quality ones for their classes in their majors. After all, who expected most engineers to understand fuzzy and soft people skill classes anyway?"
"You're an engineering candidate?"
"No, right now I'm an english major."
"Ah." She nodded. "What are your electives?"
"Math." She nodded. "Science. I get extra help because of the slaying. Since she's my helper and all." She smirked. "Not to mention roommate, best friend, good girl witch and all that."
"What's her wand made of?" one student asked suspiciously.
Buffy snickered. "You guys use *wands*?" They all nodded and Snape glared. "Really? Wow. Willow just pulls it from thin air and stuff. She's got a ceremonial one she carved, but nothing else. I can't believe you guys use wands." She took the paper Snape held out. "Thanks, dear. Let's go, Hermione." She walked her out, heading back to the suite. She walked in and snickered. "They use *wands*, Jett."
He looked at her. Then at Harry. "You do?" He pulled his and waved it. "Why? You're so much more powerful than that! Hell, kid, Xander's more powerful than that, but don't tell him I said that."
"No, no Xander magic," Buffy said firmly. "A Xander doing magic is fundamentally wrong on every level in the universe. No Xanders doing magic!"
"Chill," Jett said dryly. "He's a demigod, of course he can do magic, Buffy."
"So! It's still wrong! The world would be taken over by a giant twinkie or something."
"I stopped the giant twinkie," Xander called from the other room. "Thank you very much for remembering that!"
"What giant twinkie?" Jett asked.
"One started to grow at school," Buffy told him. "That was right before you claimed him."
Jett snorted then shook his head. "I'm sure it was Strife." Xander came out and looked at him. "Or was it you?"
"No, it was actually Deimos." Jett shuddered at that. "He thinks I'm neat, cute, and a good lay," he said smugly. "He's cute too, even if he does wear little boy preppie shorts." He flopped down again. "Okay. Boys, let's go spar."
"Hold on, we can use our magic without our wands?" Ron asked. Everyone nodded. "Then why don't we?"
"It's easier and you have more control," Tara said quietly. Buffy looked at her. "I took the confidence potion," she defended.
"Cool. I like this non-stuttering you. Though you're cute when you stutter," she offered with a grin.
"Buffy, last I knew you were straight," Willow noted from behind her book. "Did you want us to take you in and teach you about witchy lovin'?" Jett snickered at that. "Tara would have to agree, and we'd help her find her first girlfriend. After all, it's got to be better than the idiots she dates." She looked at her best friend. "FYI, Buff, Riley? Skank, major skank. His aura glows oily green and black. Dump the poser with the decent tongue action."
"Fine," she sighed, slumping down some. "I try!"
"So did Xander, dear, and look how he ended up," Jett said dryly. "I'm sure I can find you some good dominatrix."
"Eww, Jett. I'm going to have nightmares now," she said firmly, glaring at him. She reached over to hit him. "You sick bastard! I'm going to be stuck with that mental image now for weeks!" She got up to get something for her headache, finishing off Harry's mug of wine. Then she fell down and started to snore.
"I didn't make it that strong," Willow noted, going back to her reading. "Then again, slayers react funny to some things. Boys, go spar with Xander. We'll have a plan by the time he's done with you." They nodded and followed Xander out. She looked at Jett. "Are we being overconfident?"
"No. Xander, Harry, and I can fix this in a few days time. You and Tara fix the wrong here. I want my grandson protected from the people who want him to die or bend over and take it up the ass from someone he doesn't like."
"Then it's probably a good thing I cut the ties binding him to the potions master, huh?" she asked dryly. "If he lived, he was going to be a virgin sacrifice." Jett glared at her and she nodded. "Yeah, exactly."
"Fix that," he ordered. She waved her book. "Thanks. Anything else I should know?"
"Yeah, find the kid a new home. Even if he does have to listen to you and Xander be gay it'd be better for him. Even if he has to live with Joxer it'd be better for him." Jett nodded and went back to his reports. "If you hinted, he might have a job for you," she said quietly. He looked at her again and she nodded. "The same as Joxer did with his adoptive parents. Harry might."
"Mental, some physical. So far."
"Done," he agreed, going back to his plans. He and Xander really could take out the whole army in one night, but there was that one prophecy so they'd have to bring the boy with them. He only hoped the kid could hang on. Xander had nearly broken and went bad from the slaying, he had brought him back and kept him from going over, but he wasn't sure about Harry. "Will he break, Willow?" he asked finally.
"He was seeing it in graphic detail. I think he'll do anything to make it end." She looked at him again. "Whether or not he's the same guy afterward? I can't tell. No one can. If he gets some support? Maybe." She shrugged. "Who could say?"
"Yo, Ares?" Ares appeared, having that 'headache' look on his face. "The boys?" He nodded once. "We can end it in one night. Do we really need to bring the kid?" Ares nodded. "Fine. Will we have to unbreak him?" Ares shrugged then shook his head. "Are you sure?"
"Probably," he admitted. "I'm not counting how others see it however."
"Point, fine. I'll be finding the kid a new home anyway."
"Good idea. I like the Weasleys. Or give him a house in reward." Jett nodded at that. "He'll need a keeper for now. I have seen that much. Someone to stick up for him and to keep him out of the limelight. He's bound to try to go wild for a bit. You'll deal with it and move on." He looked at Willow, then at Jett. "Since when did Xander watch Jet Li movies?"
Jett sent a dirty thought at his boy, making him quit horsing around and teach the boys correctly. "Thanks. Wasn't paying enough attention."
"It happens. By the way, Hecate's sealed the Hellmouth and made a lot of creatures run screaming into the night. She's also healed Spike from his curse of love for the insane." He looked at Buffy, but Willow glared back. "You, go train."
"I've already done my training this week. Thanks though."
"Go train," Jett told her. "Wake Buffy and take her too. You're here as muscle and in case something demonic this way comes, kid. I wouldn't put it past one of the sides." She sighed and went to stretch out and work on her hitting and punching at shadows. Jett looked at Ares, holding up the papers Snape had given him. "He knew. Someone bound the kid to him."
"Virgin sacrifice. It's also why the kid had no sex drive," Willow told him dryly, going back to her book.
"He didn't know about the binding?"
Jett looked up at him. "He's got to have consented at some point in time for it to be done."
"Point," he admitted, going back to his reading. He shook his head. "He may not remember if he did consent. I'll check on that." He glanced outside, then back at him. "They're back."
"Yay," Jett said sarcastically, going back to his plans. "I need house plans for there. Can you get Auto to make me some?"
"Of course." Ares disappeared, heading down to the dungeon. He stole the Potion master and took him to an empty room in a building far, far away. "We've got to talk." The man glared at him. "Don't try it. I've seen scarier kittens and warlords." He crossed his arms. "When did you consent to have the Potter boy bound to you?"
"I did no such thing!" he said hotly.
"Well, you did sometime," he said dryly. "We found one. It can only be put on by consent of the older party according to Jett." He stepped forward. "Mother?" She appeared. "I need Psyche to undo the memory blocks on him." She nodded and went to get the goddess out of her barred temple. "Psyche went a bit nuts a few years back with the Jung vs. Freud debates," he admitted, "but that's her area. We'll see who put it on you." The Goddess appeared, cleaned up and her hair neatly arranged for once. "Him. There's memory blocks. Someone bound him to a young boy and we need to know who."
She looked at the man in front of her, gently touching his temples and concentrating. "His mentor." She looked at the angry man. "I can release it so you'll know." He nodded once and she gently lifted the blocks. She handed him something in wine for the headache, then stepped back. "There you go, Ares. Anyone else?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "This is one of Hecate's hanging wars." He looked at her. "Why?"
"Supposedly for focus during battle." She glanced at him, then back at Ares. "Also as a punishment for them if they lived," she said quietly. "I saw his end. It was built on something earlier in his life."
Snape looked at the Gods. "When do I get to harm him?" he demanded.
"When Jett goes to harm him," Ares told him. "Work with Willow. Both of the conspirators are together at the moment." He looked at Psyche. "Anything else I have to know?"
"No, but something you should know. They know Harry's got a Godly relative. They're counting on it."
"Wonderful. I doubt they were counting on it being Jett?" She shook her head. "Then who were they counting on?"
"I don't know, but they're bleeding the excess magic off the students to power the shields. Just the incidental things and the excess energy all teenagers have. Harry's linked more directly, Ares."
He nodded. "Thank you. Where?"
"The hearth stone."
"I'll have Hestia find it." He kissed her on the forehead. "Are you better?"
"No, they're just making it more and more confused each day. Those who know aren't being listened to." She faded out with one last look at Snape. "I like him. He's got an orderly and uncomplicated mind."
"High praise from her," Ares noted. "Vent, we're over a thousand miles from the school."
Snape let loose a spell that burned the anger from him, then slowly calmed down again. "Thank you. Shall we?"
"One thing first. You don't want the kid, right?"
"I loathe that child and his whole family," he said plainly. "I have since his father decided I was his playmate to torment. I want nothing more than to never see or hear from that boy again. If it weren't for the war, I might have poisoned him in his first year." Ares nodded at that. "He is rude, obnoxious, does not listen, refuses to follow orders, and is as much a torment as his father was to me. I want him gone from my life and wish to never see any spawn he might create."
Ares nodded. "Sure. Just let the kid graduate. There's only a few more months, Snape." He brought him back to his classroom, finding Dumbledore standing there. "I needed to debrief him. Within six days, Headmaster." He disappeared, going to share that with Jett.
Snape looked at him. "However you're powering the shields over the school, I would quit for the next few days. Some of them might need that energy." He gave his students a cold look. "You had better be nearly finished." They bent back to their tasks.
Dumbledore looked at him. "Are you all right, Severus?"
"Surprisingly clear headed now," he said coolly, glaring at him. Dumbledore took a step backward. "It seems I had blocked out a memory of helping certain students in the future." Minister Fudge swallowed. "It was broken and will not be ever again. I believe his grandfather would be most objective." He sat down and looked at his students.
"Severus, were you hiding things from us?" Dumbledore asked.
Snape looked at him and shook his head. "No. The same cannot be said for others, but no." Dumbledore gave him a long stare. "He needed a more precise timeline." He looked over as his classroom door opened and Buffy Summers walked back in. "Why are you back?"
"Because I got told to come ask you about this problem," she admitted, putting the book in front of him. "Jett said she's coming and I've got to handle it. I don't know how and she's a bit insane. He figured she's a lot like the master you're no longer serving and a bit worse so you could be of the most help. Would you mind?"
Snape looked at the prophecy, then at her. "She' s a Hell God."
"I know that," she said smartly, staring him down. "With a bad case of craziness and destroying the earth. That makes her my next problem. Hence me getting sent to get your help since you deal with the functionally insane."
"Point," he admitted. "She probably is closer to Voldemort on his worst days. He wants to be a God." He shooed her off. "Let me read this over and look her up in my sources. We will talk tonight, after dinner."
"Sure. Thanks." She grinned and headed back out. She grinned at Willow as she passed. "He's helping me with the next problem."
Willow sighed and swatted her on the arm. "Not much better than Mr.-pointed-tongue-is- good-and-strong-but-dumb. I'm telling Aphrodite that you need desperate help." She went to hand Snape the other things she had. "The other stuff on Glory," she offered, handing it over. "If she does jump you, just don't make her cry too much. I'll have to listen to it." She walked off. She could see the attraction, somewhat, but eww.
"It will not be an issue," Snape's voice floated behind her. "I do not have that much patience."
Jett looked at Xander, who was chained to the bed. "What were your sins today?"
"Smarting off," he moaned. He shifted some. "I'm sorry my nature came out to play."
"I'm sure you are now," he said smugly. "Did I not order you to be on your best behavior while here? To stay out of trouble and to act like the mature guy you're supposed to be?"
"Those kids have never seen a damn bit of fun, Jett, and we both know it. Harry could be my mirror image!" Jett nodded calmly at that. "He needs to play. He's never been a kid before and now's the last time he'll have. Once the skank is dead, it'll only get worse in his life. He'll have to run and hide and he's famous for being alive. The kid needs my special brand of influence."
"Yes, but you didn't have to show it in front of everyone and daring Minnie was very stupid. She's very well trained, Xander. That's what drew me to her when she was younger."
"Whine, but yay. She doesn't scare me. What's she going to do? Give me detention? She's not my teacher. I'll respect her because you said I should, and I'll let her help if necessary during the fighting, but I'm not going to bow down and kiss her pimpled and hemorrhoided ass just because she's a damn teacher. I'm sorry, but I'm not built that way. You have to earn my respect and attention."
"Which is why you did so sucky in school," Jett pointed out dryly, smirking down at him. "You still knew better. I ordered you to behave and you didn't."
"Do you really think she would have hurt me?" Xander asked plainly. "I was more than prepared to have to really show my ass to prove my spot on the team, Jett. It's not like I'm magical by any means."
"You are, but you're still blocked on your powers, Xander."
"So?" He snorted. "Yay, I could create twinkies and make them grow," he said bitterly. "When do we see this helping me?"
"You could call stakes from the house the next time you're stupidly caught out after dark," he noted dryly.
"That assumes I'm going back there."
"Point," Jett admitted. Xander had told him before that he wanted to leave the fighting and do something different, this would be an excellent opportunity for the boy to disappear and start a new life. After all, they were in a different country and no one here knew him. He could easily change himself and go start over. "Is that what you want?" he asked. Xander shrugged a bit. "Fine. We'll talk about that after the battle is done."
"Jett, with the battle being done, we'll have to evacuate within hours," he said quietly. "They want to capture and kill you for a few different reasons. Not just because of your job either." Jett nodded at that. "We'll have to take the boys with us."
"They'll be going up to the family event with us. The only one who's not officially invited is Buffy and Athena's given her permission to show up too." He moved closer. "Let me plan that, Xan."
"I can plan," he said firmly. "You've got the main battle, let me do this part." Jett shook his head. "You still don't trust me?"
"Not with something this important. It's got to be subtle and flawless this time."
"And what would you call graduation?" he asked bitterly. He looked up and the shackles disappeared, then the boy got up and got dressed, heading out. "I'll be back. You can yell later." He headed out to gather what he needed, finding Ron outside. "Bored?" he asked as he started heading for the front door.
"Not really. Why? I was told to come bother you for a bit, that Harry was coming back up. He thinks everyone's staring at him in horror in the tower."
"He's probably right. Too many people have their hopes pinned on him and too many others want him to die or suddenly fall terribly ill and then become harmless," Xander pointed out, still going with Ron following him. He looked down at the stairs. "This way is out, right?" Ron nodded. He looked at the younger boy. "I'm heading out for some stress relief before Jett and I have one of our infrequent screaming matches. Wanna come?"
"I wouldn't mind," he offered quietly, glancing around. "I'd get my arse flamed for it though."
"Eeeh, it happens, kid. You've got to learn to live a little. Life's not that serious or else you become old and dour in your youth. Get Harry, meet me at the front door in ten minutes, wear something comfortable and that you can have fun and get sweaty in." Ron nodded, hurrying back to his tower to get Harry and get changed. Xander headed down to the front door, finding the Headmaster standing there. "I'm taking the boys out for some training."
"They do need to be able to attend classes tomorrow, Mr. Harris," he said mildly.
"I slayed all night and still made it to my SAT's; I'm sure they've stayed up all night before as well." Harry and Ron both came running. "Got everything?" Harry held up his wand and he sighed. "Put it away, kid. If you need it, I've got knives. They'll be easier." He walked the boys out, taking them past the barrier he could feel. He concentrated very hard as he walked, praying really hard to Hermes, who liked him. Hermes appeared, already grinning. "I'm going before I have to scream at Jett for thinking I'm an idiot again. I'm taking them with me. Can we hitch a ride?"
"Sure," he agreed. "Grab on. Where to, Xan?" He leaned down to whisper in his ear, getting a nod. "How close to that?"
Xander looked at Harry, then at Ron, then at Hermes. He considered it, then snorted. "Close but not quite. If worst comes to worst, we'll do something drastic."
"Fine." He grabbed the boys and Xander got his back, and he flew off with them. He put them down outside a small, dark building. "This is a safe spot," he told them. "You can get in because Xander can walk you across the boundaries. Ares is inside, boys. He wanted to check with Xander for a moment, then you guys can go get blasted and have fun." Ron nodded at that and Harry looked scared. "It's not a bad thing, kid. Xander can plan nearly as well as some of Ares' top people. That's why he's with the group."
"I'm still there because I'm stubborn bastard, but I'm seriously thinking about walking away," Xander admitted. He walked up to the door and concentrated, putting his hand on the knob. It glowed and opened so he grabbed the boys and turned around, walking backward over the doorstep. He grinned and winked at them. "That's all there was to it. Thanks, Hermes." He waved and shut the door. "Head straight. There's light wherever Ares is." They nodded, heading for the sliver of light they could see in the hallway.
Ron tapped on the door and opened it. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Somewhat, but mostly Xander," Ares said, looking up from his map. "Come help me, kid." Xander walked around to join him. "What do you think about that?"
"Showy, flashy. Unnecessary. Is Jace running it?" Ares nudged him and frowned so he smirked. "It is terribly theatric," he noted dryly. "I'd go for something simpler." He picked up the red grease pencil and drew a few lines. "There, channel and attack. You're in a valley, use the natural cover you've got or put up screens to hide you if you've got to."
"They've burned that free of camouflage years ago," Ares noted. "They keep coming back to do that."
"No caves?" Ron suggested.
"No, unfortunately not."
"Light bending screens, Ares," Xander said, handing the pencil back. "That way it looks like they're rocks." Ares nodded at that, making a note of it. "Either that or let them get through it and attack once they're on the other side. Let them relax after they pass the obvious ambushing spots." He looked at the boys, then back at him. "What did you need with us? I was taking them out to give them a few hours' fun."
"First, I can't let you leave Sunnydale yet," Ares said quietly, staring Xander down. "Next year, kid."
"Fuck it," Xander retorted. "I'm tired of it. Jett's now caught whatever everyone else in Sunnydale has." He glared as his lover appeared. "I'd leave unless you want hit."
"You can't hit me."
Xander suddenly moved and threw a dagger at him, hitting him in the stomach with it. "Really?" he demanded bitterly. "Out!" Jett flashed out, laughing as he healed the injury. He looked at Ares. "I'm tired of it," he said honestly, but quietly. "If he's caught whatever is making everyone there undervalue me, I'm not putting up with it. I'll go pimp my ass in New York or something." Ares nodded at that. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, let's look at the house plans," he decided, calling them over. "Auto finished them about an hour ago," he admitted. He unrolled them and let the boys see. "This is his present headquarters." Harry moved closer and Ron just stared. "What?" he asked him.
"I've seen that house. When I was younger."
Xander looked at him. "It sucks money butt when someone you know goes bad, kid," he said quietly. "It might not be the kids, but there might not be a family either." Ron nodded, swallowing. "Is the kid in school with you?" Ron nodded at that. "Then it's fine." He scratched the back of his neck. "Someone's watching." He bent down to look, then tapped something. "There, enter, sneak, and contain," he decided, looking at Ares, who nodded at that. "It'll be messy and cruel, but it'll be over. Either that or C-4."
"Either would work. What's Jett's?"
"Sneak around and contain."
"Fine. How would you get in that window?"
Xander pointed at the mark next to the window. "Auto's marks for easy entry." He smirked at him. "Jett has a few of his plans." He stood up and looked around. "That's Willow, right?" He nodded so Xander stared at him for a moment. "How is she and the dark doing?"
"That's why I need you there for another year."
"Fat chance," he said bitterly. "I'm not a battery, Ares. I'm not staying if I don't absolutely have to." He looked at the boys. "If you've got a problem with the plans, tell me now."
"That's going to mean...." Harry got sick.
Ron was looking a bit green. "I'm not sure I can do that," he admitted.
Xander shrugged and nodded. "So? No one's asking you to go, Ron. Harry has to do one. We can easily work on his duty. Got it?" Ron nodded. "If you come, you'll be lookout. You can warn us when the supposed good guys show up."
"They are, they're just panicking," Harry said, taking the bottle of water Ares held out to rinse out his mouth. "Thank you, sir."
"Not a problem, kid." He looked at Xander. "You're sure they're going to?"
"Yeah, I am," Xander told him. "I can look at Harry and see a mirror image," he noted dryly. "Besides, I looked at the file Strife left with us. They're doing it on purpose. We'll need to evacuate him, and possibly the other two as well. With permission of course," he finished with a smirk. Ares nodded at that. "Can we finish and get a pickup?"
"I can arrange that," Ares decided. "When?"
"Tomorrow. He'll have to do some time on the couch." Harry looked at him. "Harry, you're going to have to kill him. It won't be a duel. It'll be sneaking into his room and slicing his throat open if we're lucky. Can you handle that?" Harry shuddered and shook his head, looking away. "Then you'll do it when you have to and then we'll get you therapy. You too, Ron." He looked at Ares. "Anything else? Before he picks on some more kids?"
"No, but will that work?"
"It will by the time I'm done with him," Xander said dryly. "Like Hermes told them, I can plan." He walked the boys out, arms around their shoulders. "Don't worry about it, boys. Within a few days it'll be over with. You can ignore and forget. You can block it out." Ron nodded at that and Harry moaned. "Sorry, man. It sucks. You and Buffy will have a lot of time to talk during the family thing. It'll help, kid."
"You've killed before?" Ron asked quietly as they stepped outside.
Xander looked at him. "What do you think staking vampires and demons is, Ron?" he asked dryly. Ron shivered and wrapped his arms around himself. "Yay, they're bad guys. Doesn't mean it's not killing. Jett's got more formal experience, he does it for profit. I do it to save the world. This'll just be another case of that and another night drunk afterwards," he noted calmly. "You guys never have to do it again. Feel damn lucky." Harry nodded at that. "Now, enough gloom. We're heading out to get you guys some fun. Neither of you ever got to experience anything near fun and life before." He looked around, then concentrated and took them to a club he'd heard about from Ethan the last time he had come in to torment them. "Here we go." He walked them around the corner, smirking at the guard. "We're heading in."
"Who are you?" the bouncer demanded.
"Xander, son of Joxer, God of Immortality, lover to Jett, God of Immorality." The guard's eyes went wide. "This is Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley. We're going in." The guard opened the rope and let them inside. "Thanks, man. We're not here if anyone asks."
"I never say who is and who isn't, sir." He nodded at the boys and they followed him. He wiped the sweat off his brow and redid the rope, then went back to standing in front of it.
Xander grinned at the boys. "It has some perks," he admitted with a grin. He led them to the bar, smiling at the bartender. "I believe Ethan Rayne left something for me within the last few months?"
"Name?" He looked him over. "You're not legal, boy."
Xander grabbed him by the collar. "I'm Xander," he said with a small smirk. The bartender swallowed. "We're legal and safer here. Now, where is it, please?" It was gotten and handed over once he let the man go. He smiled and opened it, then put down a few Pounds on the bar. "Get them a nice beer, dude. We're going out there to dance. Get me something sweet that's not rum." The guy nodded and did so, taking the cash as a tip. Xander tucked the envelope into his inner jacket pocket, then led the boys out onto the floor to teach them how to dance. Harry was gulping his beer. "Slow down, Harry." He smiled and felt the vampires around them. "You're safe here," he pointed out. "I promise." He got them moving by dancing, showing them how it was done. Soon a few of the female demons moved closer and worked on their skills and he had a new dance partner as well. He looked at the vampiress and smirked. "Did Bacchus send you, pretty one?" he cooed, tapping her on the chin. She nodded, giving him a long stare. "Well, I'm fine."
"I know. He wanted to meet you."
"I'll be up for the family event. You can tell him he can meet me then." He gave her a come-hither grin and she moved closer, dancing right against his front. "Now, why don't you be a good vampy and take your nibble in payment, then fly off?" he suggested in a hiss in her ear. She shivered and nipped him, then left. Xander watched the boys, rolling his eyes at Ron's fear of the vampire. "She can't and won't hurt you, Ron. If she does, I'm going to have to stake her." The vampiress smirked back at him and he grinned at him. "I mean it. I'd hate to have to do that." The vampires nodded and went back to their normal, human visages. Xander picked out another person to dance with, a sorcerer he could tell. He stroked up his neck, making him shiver, and moved closer to his back. "I need you to explain something to my students," he whispered in his ear. "What's your price tonight?" The sorcerer turned to dance with him and Xander grinned, making him lick his lips. "Is that all?" he purred, moving closer. "Those two are my students." He threw a stake back, catching the one trying to lead Harry off in the lower back. "Shoot, I normally have such good aim," he said, staring her down. She ran off and he pulled Harry closer. "He's one who needs the explanation."
The sorcerer looked him over. "Well, he's pretty, but he's too pure for me." He looked at Ron, then at Xander. "Which one is your boy?"
"Neither yet. I'm here to help them with a matter." He grinned at them. Then at the sorcerer. "It's up to you," he offered with a small pout. The sorcerer swallowed and nodded, whispering in his ear. "Done, dude. I would have thought something more individual."
"No, I can't. I gave that up for Lent," he joked, leading them to a table and buying the next round. "What needs explained?"
"In short, how to use it without their wands," Xander said, lounging on his part of the bench. "They've only been trained that way. It's inconvenient."
The sorcerer nodded at that. "That's a study for many years."
"They're young, give them the basics. We'll be working on it later." The sorcerer nodded and looked at him. "Whenever you're ready."
"Fine. Let me bring someone over here to mark that I did you this favor." Xander shrugged and someone came over at his wave, bringing the small iron. It was heated with a small charm and then Xander let him put the small brand on his upper arm, only hissing at it. "You're very strong."
Xander smirked. "I'm Xander Harris, honey, what did you expect?" The man opened his mouth so he smirked at him. "Now, explain. Please. Lest I feel the need to retaliate."
The sorcerer turned to look at the boys across from them and licked his lips. "All right, you can and have already used wandlessly. It's the same as doing it with, but..." He glanced at Xander, who waved a hand. "It's like you're channeling it without the wand. A lot of you who switch over still use hand gestures, but it's not necessary. Magic is in the mind and the body, not the wood and the channel it created." They both looked clueless so he took their right hands. "You're both right handed, right?" They nodded. "Good. Now, create a small charm in your hand to counter mine." He cast a small charm, one to lift their hands and the boys both started to mutter the counter, and Ron's worked. Harry's didn't. "Yours should have been faster, Mr. Potter." He looked at him, then at Xander. "Who bound him?"
"Willow removed some. Is there more?" He nodded. "Then feel free to remove all that nasty binding shit the good guys did to him." Harry looked stunned. "This goes no further, boys, but *someone* also bound Harry here to his beloved Potions master. That's one of the things that Willow took off him. She told me that earlier." Harry shuddered and had to finish his beer and start on Ron's for that. "That's the other reason we're doing it this way, Harry." Harry nodded and concentrated, floating the empty glass up with just staring at it, then he let it fall and rubbed his head. "With practice it gets easier. The more powerful the spell the easier it can be, but that's dangerous to start doing." Harry nodded and Ron sat up straighter. "If you're not sure why, look at Willow." They both gaped and he shrugged. "Truth." He looked at the sorcerer. "Can they?"
"They can. I can remove the block tonight if you'd come back with me. Nothing funny, I promise," he swore, looking at Xander. "It'll take about an hour."
"Fine." Xander looked at Harry. "I'm assuming here, but yes?"
"Is it for a good reason?" Harry asked.
"So you listened to old fools with plans," the sorcerer told him. "Why do they want you to die? It's keyed into your life force and it's to make you die if you win."
Harry swallowed the rest of Ron's beer. "I don't know, sir. I'm only finding this stuff out now. It's been seven years."
"Well, that's too long," Ron decided. "You won't try anything funny?" he demanded.
"No, but if you want, you and the darling chaos magnet here can sit and neck while I work on poor Harry." Ron gave him an odd look. "Just assuming. Most of us would demand payment for this sort of service."
Xander snorted. "I see a mirror image, sorcerer. I just want to make sure no one else does it." The sorcerer nodded at that. "Of course, if Ron wanted to be cuddled and kissed, or groped, I could easily do that for him," he offered with a grin. Ron shook his head. "Pity, you're cute." He stood up. "Now?"
"Fine." He got up and walked out behind the boys, taking them back to his work area. He checked the alleyway, then locked the door behind himself. "Who's following you?"
"Daddy. He's not very subtle." He sent a thought at his father, telling him what they were doing and where they were headed after this. Then he cut them off and went to help Harry out of his clothes and into the proper position and mindset. "It'll be a bit painful," he said quietly. "You'll be fine. It's less than feeling what he's done to others."
Harry looked at him. "How did you know?"
Xander considered it then looked at him. "My adoptive parents used to be Demeter's. My mother got in with the wrong sort and nearly sacrificed me when I was ten, Harry. I knew as soon as I looked at you. I'm still under mine and no one, not even the Gods, can take it away." Harry hung his head and nodded at that. "So, you're not going to end up like me. You won't end up broken from the slaying. You won't end up with some nights of drunken revelry because you need it. This'll be your only time. Then you can take Ron and Hermione and hide. We'll be leaving as soon as it's done. Then you'll get to make some decisions on your own." He ruffled his hair and went to sit beside Ron, giving him a small nudge. "Anything you wanted from home before he disappeared?"
"Mum will be pissed," Ron said quietly. "She thinks of him like a son."
Xander shifted to look at the boy. "Ron, think. What happens when Harry wins?"
"He'll be celebrated."
"He'll be hounded and hunted. The press, those who want to try their luck, those who want to learn from him. Those who wanted him to die. Those who are now scared of him." Ron shook his head slowly. "Oh, yeah, kid. "Why do you think someone did this spell?"
"I don't know," he admitted, looking dejected. "I don't want to believe they could do this."
"Yeah, well, the side of the light is just as destructive. Look at Buffy if you have any doubts."
"Shh," the sorcerer called. "He's right. The slayers are just as dark as the darkest serial killers, son. The light isn't as light as everyone wants to think." He looked at Harry. "I'd say you're considered a loose end."
"I thought I was a person," Harry said bitterly.
"I doubt it," Xander told him. "Not to some. Do you want the morality monitor to come with you?"
"She'll probably demand," Harry said, glancing back at him. "We're a trio, but not *that* way," he finished quickly, blushing a bit.
"What did they do to your sex drive?" the sorcerer asked, sounding disgusted.
"Willow thought it was the bond she removed," Xander admitted.
"Fat chance!" He looked closer. "Bloody hell, boy, you glow with bad magic." He got to work releasing him. "It'll take a bit longer but I'm going to cut everything and everyone's magic. Even the protection and the charms to make sure you're all right." Harry nodded and took something off, tossing it aside. "The necklace too, Mr. Potter." He took it off and tossed it aside. "Good boy." He got to work once he had kicked them farther away, shaking his head as the layers peeled back. "Boy, you should kill whoever did this."
"That's vindictive," Harry said quietly.
"Jett's on it," Xander assured them. "That's one of the reasons he was sent." The sorcerer looked at him and Xander shrugged. "We could have handled this without him. He's there for reputation and to fix that part." The sorcerer nodded and Xander looked at Ron again. "You've got a few, kid. They're mostly protection. Things to make your mother jump up if you're in trouble. Things to make the bushy one scream in fear if you're in trouble. One linking you to Harry that's a few years old. That one's to make you die too," he said quietly. "Your protections were done after that." Ron slumped and nodded. "I can do this one but Harry's were too vast. Let me?" Ron nodded so Xander pulled the boy into his lap, wrapping him in his shields so no one would get anything back because of this. He kissed Ron stupid, then got to work. "Payment," he said with a grin when Ron managed to give him a dirty look. He stripped off the last one and found one trigger underneath, then smiled and hit it, making Ron shiver and shake. He stroked his back and arm. "It's all right. That's freeing you of the thing that started when you first accepted going to the school. It's to regulate your magic so you're not as powerful as you'll end up and to help the shields over the school stay strong," he soothed, continuing to stroke him.
"I'm not a pet," Ron said, wiggling back into his own sitting spot. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Like I said, most of them were things that your mother and girl did to make sure you're fine. Others weren't so benign." He shrugged and grinned. "The kiss was payment and your mother shouldn't have even felt a whisper of it. You can have her put them back on if you decide to go home. Once you know the risks."
Ron nodded. "Will people really come up to challenge us?" Xander nodded. "Why?"
"Because you've beaten a bad guy and that builds a rep, Ron," Xander said honestly.
"Shh," the sorcerer called harshly.
Xander leaned over to whisper it in the kids' ear, getting a nod and a sigh. Harry was finally stood up and looked over, the soles of his feet were examined as well, then he was let out and allowed to dress in some clothes the sorcerer had 'lying around', which Xander brought, but Harry didn't need to know that. He looked at Ron again. "I was going to go clubbing. Wanna come still or did you have something more wild in mind?"
"No, clubbing sounds good," Ron admitted. He stood up and hauled Xander up, walking him over to where Harry was coming out in jeans and a t-shirt. "I like you in that," Ron admitted.
"Thanks." He looked at the sorcerer. "Thank you. You saved my life."
"It's always a pleasure, young man. The fact I can call on Xander here later for a favor means a lot more to me." Harry nodded, letting it go at that. Xander gave him a real kiss on the way out, making him smile. Then they were gone. He slumped and looked around, then up. "Thank you, Goddess Hecate, for sending one of the Chosen to me. That bit of balancing will help me feel better and bring me closer to your image again." He went to set up his altar again and pray. He had no idea the world was going to rest on so frail of shoulders.
Xander looked up from his dancing as Ron tugged on his arm, pointing at the guy coming in. Xander nodded and nodded at Harry so they went to get him. Then he took the boys out the back way, heading into the alleyway. He looked at them. "We've got a choice. Go back to the school and report in, or follow and take care of things?"
"We can't," Harry hissed, pulling them deeper into the shadows. "We'd need help."
Xander grinned and shook his head. "Harry, I'm a God."
"You're a demi," Ron said, looking confused. "Strife said so."
Xander snorted and shook his head. "There's something in Sunnydale that makes everyone undervalue me, Ron. This isn't any different. Your choice, boys. What do we do?"
"We could cure it tonight?" Harry asked. Xander nodded. "How?"
"Easily." Xander shrugged. "Like I said earlier." Harry swallowed and looked at Ron, who shrugged. "Up to you guys."
"Please," Harry said. "I can't. I can't go back there knowing this. I...I guess you understand." Xander nodded, looking calm. "Do we have what we need?"
"Yeah, everything I need." He took their arms and took them to the house Auto had been watching. There were a few creatures walking around, and two humans. He looked at them, seeing the pale faces. "I'll get Dionysus to give us some of his strongest wine tonight," Xander promised, leading the way down and to the tree. Harry and Ron followed and Xander broke them inside. The lessons with his cousin Auto when he was supposedly on his road trip had been quite informative. He got them into the bathroom and watched them relieve themselves before checking the door and heading out. They were on the residential floor and it was a bad thing, but fine. Xander could easily do the sleeping and the boys would keep watch until the last one. They decided to help after watching him do a few more, and they finally made it so the house was clear. The last one was saved for Harry and Xander helped him stab him in the heart, leaving the blade there. Then he took them to the temple on Olympus, sending a thought to Strife to make sure the house burned once the others were found and alerted. He looked at Ares. "Mission accomplished, Lord Ares. The boys were promised a strong drink of Dionysus' finest since this was their first and last."
Ares tossed over a wineskin. "That's fine. Go hide, boys. Xander, Jett's pissed."
"Yay. Maybe he should quit going to Sunnydale and start to value me again." He walked the boys off, taking them to a room Willow had told him about. He walked them inside and concentrated, bringing the comfy pillows, couches, and the bathroom with it. "Here we go. Lock the door, Ron. That way no one but us can get in." Ron nodded and did so, sealing them in. He handed Harry the wineskin. "Drink, kid. It'll be your first hangover." He flopped down, noticing that some food appeared. He grinned and nibbled the soothing stuff, then took the wineskin from Harry and gulped down a good bit. It refilled, which was very nice. He handed it to Ron, who gulped as much as Harry had. "I suggest you find somewhere more horizontal, Ron. Before you fall." Ron flopped down into some pillows next to Harry's spot on a couch, then handed back the wine. The kid looked like he needed it and Xander drank enough to calm himself down but make sure the boys were totally soused. He looked over as Psyche came at his call, nodding at the boys. "They had to kill."
"I saw." She came over and stroked their foreheads, nodding at him. "They won't remember after tonight, Xander. Not even in their nightmares. I also shored up the weak spots in Harry's mind. Anything else?"
"Yeah, tell the pink one that they're going into hiding. I need to know if I've got to kidnap the bushy one for Ron." She smiled and shook her head. "You're sure?" She nodded. "Where am I sending them?"
"Down the mountain. I put the local language into their mind as well. There's a nice farm set up near the ocean for them. I'll have Strife bring them there tomorrow once he steals everything and leaves a note for Hermione." She smiled and walked out through the walls, sealing them in until she sent them help. They all needed to be drunk, the waves of miserly flowing off Xander were intense and heavy, they were giving her a worse headache than the people who misinterpreted Freud. She went to tell Strife her orders, and got a nod and him going to the castle to meddle a bit. Then she went to get drunk.
Jett appeared in Ares' office the next morning, not looking happy. "Where's my boy?" he demanded coolly.
Ares looked at him then shrugged. "I don't know, Jett. He was here last night getting the boys drunk after doing the job. Then he escorted them to their house so he could find them again. He came back up, I felt Strife bring him and was told he did, but I don't know." He looked at him. "Why didn't you remove that spell to kill him?"
"Because I can't. Hecate can't, I asked."
"Badly," he agreed, sitting down again. "He's up here somewhere?" Ares shrugged. "What's his issue this time?"
"You caught Sunnydale fever, you quit valuing him. Did anyone find the bodies?"
"Early this morning. Someone called when they were asked to hurry and check with another idiot. That potion's guy went and made the official report to the cops. It wasn't so bad."
"It was still the boys' first and last."
"That's fine. Are they safe?" Ares nodded. "Here?"
"Up by the coast. Xander went to make sure of it. Psyche and Hestia fixed up their new farm."
"That's fine. What about the magic stuff?"
"They're so far from everyone no one would notice if they were doing complicated spells outside naked, and there's been some wandless people in the area. They're hidden and fine, Jett."
"Fine. I know Xander was thinking about leaving me."
"Yeah, well, not exactly the most spectacular thing in the world, Jett. You quit valuing him. You did what my daughter and Buffy do to him. If you find him, I suggest begging." He looked over as his office door opened and Hera stomped in. "Morning, mother. That war was mostly stopped last night. We've worked on the boys and gotten them set up somewhere else safely and hidden."
"What of that other one?" she demanded coldly, ignoring Jett totally.
"My boy's somewhere around here," Jett assured her. "If you'd tell me, I'd go find him."
She glared at him. "Do I care?"
"Sure, let him run around by himself," he noted dryly, standing up. "I'll check with Aphrodite. Maybe he's in her perpetual timeless orgy room." He headed that way shaking his head. He ran into Zeus and nodded at him. "Have you seen my boy?"
"You're sleeping with who now?" he sneered.
"Xander's his," Hermes said as he swooped down to pick up Jett. "Come on, I know where he is." He flew him to Bacchus' temple. "They're having tea." He dropped him off and then headed in to get a good view of the fight. He was sure there was going to be one.
Jett strolled in, looking around, then at the God and demigod on the dias. He looked his boy over. He had a hangover, which wasn't surprising, and he was glowing this morning. That was. He took a deeper look at him and flinched. "When did you do that?" he asked quietly as he walked up to them.
"Tell my former lover that it was when I was ten and rescued. He ignored it." He buttered another cracker and ate it, then looked at his host. "Are you sure I should?"
"I think you should. Your other father is very worried about you. I know he and Strife have talked a few times and so have he and I, Xander. He's unable to get that close to you because he gets random surges of power, but he does care for you and wants to meet you officially."
"Yay me. Then what? He wants to hand me over to someone to be their playmate?"
"No, Loki has never done that," he assured him.
"Loki still can't get near him," Jett reminded them.
"He can if they're in a neutralized area," Bacchus said, staring him down. "That's a new thing in your aura," he said, reaching down to tap into the spell. It faded slowly and Jett grabbed his head. "Ah, that must be it," he said when Jett just stared at Xander.
"Is that part of the sacrifice curse?" Xander asked seriously.
"No. Someone trying to blanket your powers so no one would know."
"Bitchin'," he said dryly. "When can you arrange that?"
"This...." He called to Loki, who said that night. "Your other father said tonight, Xander. Would that be acceptable?"
"Sure. Come get me from Cupid's. I'll be with the little trouble." He winked and disappeared.
Bacchus caught the plate of cookies that had rocked away from his power but otherwise nothing else had been touched. He held out the plate to Jett. "Cookie?"
"Bacchus, what was that?" he demanded, standing up straighter.
"The thing that made you undervalue that boy," he said plainly, smirking a bit. "The thing that made you think he was less than useful." He set the plate down and picked up a cookie to nibble. "He really is a very strong young man, Jett. Very injured in many ways, but still quite strong. I'm worried about his slaying however. He seemed to not be as drunk as the last time."
Jett sat down, shaking his head. "I don't know why he wouldn't be. It was clear he did most of them." Bacchus nodded. "You saw?"
"Ares had Hermes watching the boys, just in case they had issues." He sipped some of his blood wine. "Xander did do most of it. He also got the boys back up here and sorted out, even calling Psyche to help them. He did very well."
"I'm happy for him. Is he leaving me?" Bacchus shrugged. "You don't know?"
"I don't have a clue, Jett. You hurt him by being like everyone else. Perhaps if you give it some time and leave him alone it'll be fine. Perhaps not." He looked over as Cupid came in. "Did Xander wake you?" he asked with a fond smile.
Cupid nodded. "Yup. Big time waking by the giggling going on. He, Bliss, and Strife." He flopped down and created a cup of coffee. "Why is he down?" he asked Jett, frowning a bit. "The guy just made Mom frown and you know she's uber-worried about the wrinkles so she tries to avoid it."
"I got touched by whatever it was that makes people undervalue him," he admitted. "I'm not even sure what it's cause is."
"It's a someone, not a something," Bacchus reminded him. "Someone wants him to be less powerful than them and is trying to make it so."
"Well, gee, there's so few people on the Hellmouth," Jett told him.
Bacchus shrugged. "I wouldn't know. Hecate would and she's down there."
Jett nodded. "That's a good idea. Thanks." He disappeared.
Bacchus looked at Cupid. "I'm sure you'll get to repossess your child and mate later tonight. They have to sleep sometime and he's got a meeting with his second father later."
"Gee, thanks," Cupid said, grinning a bit. "It does free me to go do some work. Thanks for kicking him in the ass. He definitely needed it." He winked and disappeared from his lounging position, taking his cup with him.
Bacchus smiled. "Those are very interesting children of the Pantheon," he agreed. He saluted toward Gaia's temple. "Long live the lineage of non-boring children." Then he finished his wine. His priests were getting up and would have to have their morning taste of him for devotions.
Jett appeared next to Hecate, coughing to get the lounging Goddess' attention away from the vampires giving her a backrub. "Can we talk?"
"Why?" she asked, not opening her eyes.
"There's some sort of power blanketing Xander's, trying to make him less powerful than he is. It's why everyone undervalues him and it hit me recently. Bacchus released it."
"Is it here?"
"Bacchus said so." He shrugged when she looked up at him. "I was hoping you had an idea if it was native, was off the hellmouth right now, or if it was someone other than the group. Bacchus said it was a someone if that helps." She looked at his aura, then motioned him closer. He moved closer, kneeling in front of her. One of the vampires growled so he staked him. "Sorry. Force of habit."
"That's fine. There are plenty of others who will gladly do my shoulders for me." She ran a finger over his aura, then nodded once. "Rupert."
"Giles?" She nodded. "Why?"
"Envy? Perhaps the sacrifice curse got to him. Have you been able to remove it yet?" He shook his head. "I didn't think so," she sighed. "Someone will have to some day."
"You said you couldn't and you didn't know who could."
"I also said it'd take love to release it," she reminded him.
"Or Cupid. Either do love him." She patted him on the cheek. "Jett, do my shoulders? You have very good hands."
"Sure, Heccy." He stood up and got to work on her shoulders for her, making her purr. He sent a silent prayer toward Aphrodite, making her frown for the second time in one day.
"I'm going to get major wrinkles if I keep this up!" Aphrodite yelled, getting up from her plotting and scheming. She headed to Cupid's, knowing that Bliss was playing with the nice Godling. She found them playing basketball and smiled, watching his aura flash and move. The dark red and black swirls showed up on his back, an odd place, but they could be solved. She moved forward and reached into the middle of them, letting them swirl around her hand. Xander gasped and dropped the ball. "Cupie?" she called. He showed up and helped by grabbing the power flowing around him. She broke that enchantment, then wiped off her hand, watching the swirls slow down. "They're still there."
Cupid looked at it, then shook his head. "Strife!" He appeared, then frowned and came over to help, summoning others who could and should have helped in the first place. "Loki?" Cupid asked.
Xander panted but looked at him. "Hey, so I hear you're a sperm donor?"
"That blasted town drives me insane," he complained as he came over to help. "Who did that to you, son?" he asked calmly.
"She's dead, don't worry about it." He squeezed his eyes shut and hissed. "That kinda hurts."
"Sorry," Strife said, digging back into the spell. "That's nasty." They looked at each other. "Hera!" he called. She appeared, already sneering. "Someone cast a sacrificial curse on him. We're having a bit of trouble unanchoring it. It's unraveled but we've got to remove it."
"Why should I?"
"Because if you don't, I'm going to the Fates and having them appoint Buffy as the official decorator up here. Everyone's temple will look like Aphrodite's," Xander growled.
She snorted but came over to help. It wasn't his fault his fathers had stolen ambrosia. She looked at Loki. "You too?" she demanded.
"He's mine and Joxer's."
"Well, at least he's got one *decent* parent." She found the trigger and frowned. "Who did that!"
"She's dead, does it matter!" he shouted back. "Can we just fix it since it feels like you guys are digging into my chest now!"
Hera sniffed. "Fine. We shall be talking later."
"Talk to Jett, he killed her." Loki knocked him out, giving her a 'sorry' look.
"Fine," she decided. "It's easier this way without him 'helping'. He's had no training."
"He's been on the hellmouth, Hera," Strife told her. She looked offended at that. "Let's feel happy that he's *sane*. He was slaying. He's a favorite of Bacchus and he's slaying."
"Jett said he had to settle his mental issues," Loki said quietly, stroking the dark hair the boy had gotten from him. "What's anchoring it?"
"It's anchored into his spine," Hera told him. "Whoever did this knew what they were doing to make him suffer."
"His adoptive parents used to serve Demeter before they were sucked into a cult," Loki told her. She glared at him so he shrugged. "Truth. Even she said so."
"Fine." She finished removing the offending part of the curse, and the spinal cord. "Asclepias?" He appeared so she tossed the removed part of the body at him. "Fix him, dear. Someone cast a sacrificial curse on him."
"Who would dare!" he demanded.
"His adoptive parents. Had we known, we would have burned the town down to kill them," Loki assured him. "Can you please heal my son?"
"Sure." He looked up. "Yo, dad!" Apollo appeared so he tossed it at him, getting a glare at the Gods around the boy. "It was necessary."
"I'm sure it was. Who's this kid anyway?"
"Alexander. Son to Joxer and Loki," Aphrodite told him. "Lover to Jett. Helper of Ares. The usual around that temple."
"If I must," he sighed, coming over to replace the destroyed areas. "Who did this?"
"Mortals," Loki said grimly. "They're long gone. Jett made sure of it."
"Good! They should be very punished!"
"I'm sure Hades has them in a special section all their own," Cupid said, staring him down. Apollo shivered and nodded, getting back to work with his son's help. "Will he be in a lot of pain later?"
"No, no pain. Should I mess with the mental blocks someone did?"
"He's been slaying, Jett did them to protect him before he got lost and turned into him," Loki informed him blandly. "Please don't unless they're hurting him."
"I thought Athena's chosen were male," Asclepias said, looking a bit confused as he worked on the rest of the boy's body to keep it going.
"He's helping her," Strife said grimly. "It led to him breaking since his first kill was his bestest buddy ever. It was either that or letting him eat a lot of people." All the gods shivered and he shrugged. "He did what he had to. That's why Jett took him in."
"No, Jett found someone who could appreciate him and who he could dominate, but who wouldn't break if he played too roughly," Loki said grimly. "I don't like them together."
"Me either, Loki," Aphrodite told him. "Not to mention the ickiness of him being his uncle. I don't know who to set him with otherwise."
"As long as it's not his friends, I could care less as long as he's happy," Loki assured her. He gave her a pleading look. "Please, Aphrodite. Anyone?"
"We'll see, kiddo." She looked around. "What is that noise?"
"Hestia," Hera told her. "That's her singing to the pop station she likes. I don't know why she likes boy bands, but she does." The healers got finished and stepped back, letting her look the boy over. "He'll work right?"
"He'll be fine," Apollo said, smiling at her. "Good job, Hera. You only left a little piece. Easily corrected and cured as well." He dusted off his hands. "Let the poor guy sleep. He needed a lot of it. Have Psyche look at him too." She appeared, looking confused. "Have you seen him?"
"A few times. I'm the one who softened the many blows in his head. Why?" She came over and felt around then shrugged. "It's the best I can do, guys." She looked at Loki, smiling a bit. "Thank you for finally showing up. Can you take him back to Ares' so he can nap?" Loki nodded, going with his son. She looked at the healers. "That sacrifice curse?" They both nodded. "I hope it stays gone." She bowed to Hera then left.
Hera looked at Apollo. "Keep an eye on him. I want to know if it comes back. Even if he isn't one of the favored sons, he is still one of us and it would look back to the Asgardians if they found out." He nodded, going to do a bit of research on the boy, taking his son with him. Hera looked at Aphrodite. "Find him a lover, someone other than Jett. Someone who can help the boy."
"I'm not sure there is anyone," she admitted quietly. "Xander's pretty special." She played with a bit of hair. "At first, we thought Jett would suit him pretty well. Xan's a lot like his other daddy and he's a fierce jumper-in sorta guy." She let her hair go. "Then Jett had to start tampering with him to ease him back from the edge he got from slaying. It was, like, totally necessary, but it still sucked. That combined with that curse made sure his love life sucked the biggest of the big ones." She looked at Loki as he returned. "Do you have any ideas?"
"Not a one," he admitted dryly. "I haven't even gotten to sit down and talk with my son thanks to that town. I'm not sure how Strife does it when he visits."
"In very short times," Strife said dryly, looking at him. Then he looked at Aphrodite. "The boy needs a new career anyway, 'Dite. I don't like him working construction and I don't like him living there." He looked around, feeling visitors. "Jett brought the rest of them. Hide him for now." She nodded, taking Xander off. He looked at Loki. "Ya know, Bacchus offered him a primo spot in his lineup."
"Should my son be turned, I'd have to object and make all of you suffer for Bacchus' arrogance," Loki said, fading out. "I'll be back tonight after I talk with Odin and the other freeloaders."
Strife smirked, snickering a bit. "Yeah, like you'd do it better'n me," he said, smirking a bit at Hera. Who slapped him across the back of the head. "Sorry!" He disappeared, going back to Ares' temple. He waved at Willow as he moved around her, whispering in Ares' ear. He got a nod. "We're figuring later tanight?"
"That's fine. We can give them a neutral spot to talk. Go get Joxer. If Loki hasn't been able to get into the town I'm betting they're missing each other." Strife nodded, going to find Joxer and bring him up.
Willow looked at her father. "Where's Xander?" she asked bluntly.
He shrugged. "We're not sure yet."
"Yeah," she snorted. "And I'm a pony, dad. Where is he?"
He stared her down. "Right now, he's resting after having helped Harry and Ron." She shivered. "He did a good job. Nearly as good as Jett did when he was mortal. It was clean, quick, and quiet. Even Auto said it went well. He was watching the house when they went in."
She shuddered. "He's still up here?"
"Yes," he said patiently. "We can't make Hermes forget his son, Willow."
"Fine. Just keep him away from my butt this time. I don't need more pinched areas." She yelped and turned around, scowling at Buffy, who only beamed. "Don't do that!"
"Sorry!" She was still grinning. "So, where is Mr.-I-ran-away-from-my-scary- boyfriend?"
"Sleeping," he repeated. He stared her down and she only grinned more sweetly. "Athena's temple is halfway across the mountain. Head there, Buffy."
"No! I'm staying with Wills. She said it was okay."
"If not, I'll have her babble in geek speak to you and get Danny involved," Buffy said happily.
Willow looked at her. "I'm good, but Danny's *so* much better than I am," she complained. "I can't keep up with him yet. He's got way too many degrees already."
"And probably working on more," Ares sighed. "Leave, girls. I'm trying to work."
"Can we peek in on Xander?"
"No. He's with another God. That way he and Jett don't fight." He stared them down. "Out!" he growled. The girls giggled but left and he locked his office door before putting his head down. "Why did I sleep with her mother?" he moaned.
"You were bored," Joxer said happily as he showed up. He reached over and patted Ares on the shoulder. "It's all right. Strife and Cupid deal with her more often than not," he reminded him. "We see them all the time." Ares looked up at him so he beamed. "Where's my son? Where's my brother as well so I can kill his skanky, dominatrix ass?"
"Your son is shacking up with 'Dite," he said quietly. "They took the stupid curse off him by taking out where it was anchored and rebuilding it. Jett might be with Hecate."
"No, I saw him there and he ran." Then he grinned sweetly. "Tell me if you see him, please? I want to beat my brother senseless."
Ares nodded. "Sure. Now go away. Aphrodite is trying to find him a new lover anyway. Go help her!" Joxer nodded, bouncing out very much like a happy Xander did when he'd had a few candybars. "Gods, he's still horrible," he moaned, putting his head back down. He heard Discord snort from the doorway. "Keep Willow and Buffy away from Xander for a bit. He wanted some peace and quiet."
"Do we realize Xan's a God?" she asked. His head popped up and he glared at her. She nodded. "Jett told me so. He's hiding at my place." She smirked a bit, leaning on the door with her arms crossed. "He's not a happy assassin. He said that Xander's a full God. He caught him glowing at Bacchus' earlier for tea and cookies for breakfast. Speaking of, how's the kid's mind?"
"Psyche said he didn't have to get as drunk this time," he noted.
"Good! That means he's now fully broken. And he's a God." She smirked and strolled off, going to talk to Athena and rub her face in it. After all, the boy got broken helping her chosen one.
Ares sealed the door, then the temple once he felt her leave. He would get some peace to moan in private or else he'd have to start destroying people and owe Hades a footrub or twelve for bringing them back for him. Or worse, he might have to let his dog breed with Cerebus, and that would drive him insane. He put his head back down, wondering what he had done to deserve kids like Willow instead of kids like Xander. Xander should have been his, not Joxer's. Willow should have been Hermes' or someone else's.
"Yoo-hooo!" a cheery voice called. "Ares, let me in!"
"Fat chance," he yelled back. "I'm trying to kill myself!"
"Fine, leave me alllll alone with the studly junior God, let's see what I can find alone!" Ares unsealed the temple. He would not let Aphrodite find that boy a lover who would drive him nuts, especially since Xander would complain to him about it and that would finish off his poor mental state. He'd be as insane as one of the Titans. Aphrodite put Xander to bed then joined him with a list so they could check out all the folk she found suitable. "I tried to go dangerous and deadly since that's what draws him," she started.
He sealed her mouth shut and took the list, sitting back to check on them. "Willow gave me a headache. No babbling, no happiness, nothing," he said when he felt her trying to get her mouth unstuck. "I can't deal with it today."
"Fine. Buffy's peeking into my orgy room. I'm guessing Riley isn't doin' it for her," she sighed.
"He's working against her, 'Dite. His organization wants to kill her after they find out what she is." He looked at her. "Willow told her that he's a bad guy." He looked at the list again. "Why did you put six drug lords on here?"
"Well, Xan likes dangerous guys and they are the most dangerous."
"Yeah, but they'll try to kill him," he reminded her impatiently. "Let's try for some safety. Not someone who'll make Xander go evil and start against us." She shrugged and amended the list, taking them and a few of the other assassins off it. "Thanks."
"Welcome." She leaned over to get involved. After all, this was her area.
Xander looked at the people around him, then at the Gods around him. He silently got up and snuck out, heading out for some air. He had to get away from all the pompous asses. They were arguing stuff he didn't care about, he would never care about, and it was going to put him to sleep soon. He found a garden and didn't really care what Athena thought about him wandering through it at the moment. It's not like he was going to harm it.
"Xander?" Buffy called.
He turned himself invisible, getting away from her before she could run into him.
"That's no fair! You don't have powers at home!" She stomped a foot. "Come on! I just want to talk!"
Cupid coughed. "What's up?" he asked, looking her over. "Needed some air?"
"I followed Xander out and he suddenly disappeared."
"He's still up here somewhere. We're not allowed off the mountain until this is done with."
"Oh." She looked around again, seeing a piece of plaid fabric floating in midair. She stalked toward it and it moved. "Hey, Cupid?" She pointed at it. "New flower?"
He shrugged, putting an arm around her shoulders, which had the usual effect - she went numb, tingly in some areas, and drooling. "With some of us, no one can tell." He walked her back inside, silently telling Xander he owed him one.
Xander reappeared, giving their former spots a dirty look. "Yeah, because you haven't fucked up my life," he said sarcastically. He looked around, then giggled and headed off again. He wasn't needed. He made it all the way to the secret exit Bacchus had told him about before Ares brought him back, and he ended up back in his chair beside him. He glared at his sort-of relative. "I was fine, just getting some air."
"I bet," he muttered. He casually reached over and smacked him across the back of the head. "Behave."
"Fine." He focused on the boring topics again. What did he care if someone had kids? He wasn't going to, so it didn't matter to him. Aphrodite burst out crying and stomped out. He got up to follow her, giving her a hug. "It's all right, plenty of people will still have kids. It's not like they can mandate birth control."
"You don't want any?"
He snickered, shaking his head. "Why would I curse someone to my screwed up life, Aphrodite?" She sniffled and hugged him. "I'm going to sneak off. I could care less about this stuff and I don't see why I'm up here."
"They're going to have to confirm you," she told him. "Otherwise they can try to take away your powers," she said quietly.
He stuck his head in the room again, catching Hera's eye. "I'm going to get some air. Need me for anything like confirmations?" She shook her head. "Aphrodite wasn't sure."
"Go," she muttered, waving a hand.
He grinned and disappeared, heading out to the emergency exit and off into the ether. All his stuff was packed and had come with them from Sunnydale to Hogwarts, and was sitting in Ares' spare bedroom. He summoned it once he got to where he was going, a cheap motel on the other side of the world. Then he went to do something to make sure he had an uninterrupted cash flow for a while.
Zeus looked around, sighing. "Where is the irresponsible godling this time?" he called again.
"Hera told him he wasn't needed, he disappeared," Aphrodite told him. "I thought he'd be needed but she said for him to go."
Ares coughed. "You know that emergency exit Gaia put up?" he asked dryly, glaring at his mother. This was holding everything up. "He 'ported there, ran out, then 'ported off. He's somewhere on this continent, maybe." He shrugged. "I'll try to get him when he comes back for his stuff." Jett leaned back to look over at him. "Not my fault you couldn't pay enough attention to your boy."
"I'm going to kill you both," Joxer announced. "If my son's hurt, you're all dying."
"I doubt you can do that," Zeus said sourly, glaring at him.
Joxer looked at him, then at the Fates. "Why were we really called up here? I doubt my son is hanging in the balance/"
"No," Atropos said, shaking her head. "It was merely a way for him to get free and move on with his life." She looked at her sisters. "Did any of you plan anything about Xander?" They shook their heads. "That wasn't our idea."
Zeus glared at them. "Fine. Should we vote him rogue, his powers will be taken."
"Do it, watch your own fall," Lachesis assured him, checking her nails. She picked some dirt out from under one and glanced back at him. "So say we all, Zeus."
Hera cleared her throat. "We would have to activate his powers."
"Too late," Clotho noted. "He's been a full god since he was ten. Self-taught and fairly impressive," she noted patiently, staring Hera down. "You ignored too much of the family, Mother of the Gods. He's an end result of that ignoring and the hatred that keeps flowing from the showy places upon this mountain."
Atropos nodded. "We all agree, all those here are the children of Olympus and should be similarly honored, even if you don't like them."
"No matter what, the family is all among us. Any future children, all the past children, all of them. Even the ones you don't like," Lachesis finished. The three Fates waved a hand and nearly everyone in attendance glowed. "They're all demigods or something nearly there. Deal with it, move into the new millennia with the rest of the world."
Zeus looked at them. "How do you propose someone find jobs for them?" he demanded.
"Most of us have jobs," Daniel complained. "You're keeping us from them by this." He glared at the Fates. "You get to explain it to my boss."
"Already done, sweetie." They smiled at them. "Try not to get so lost, please?" they requested, each one saying a word.
Daniel snorted. "It's not like I *try*."
Willow stood up. "Hold on, Xander's a full God?" The Fates nodded, along with Bacchus and Strife. "Then why can't he do anything?"
"Why should he do Buffy's job?" Athena asked her. Buffy nodded. "He volunteered to help, not to do it all. He's been the backbone of your planning. Now you've pissed him off and he's gone. Get over it already."
Buffy looked at her. "He'll come back for that Glory stuff, right?" She shook her head. "I'm not sure I can beat a God."
"You'll have help," Athena said patiently. "We can't let her take over either."
"Okay, then I'm fine with him taking a long vacation."
Willow frowned at her. "I don't think he's coming back."
"He'll come back. What would Xander be without us?"
"Um, happy?" Strife suggested. "Carefree. Partying?"
Jett coughed. "I'll talk to him once I find him, Buffy," he assured her.
Aphrodite looked at him and shook her head. "Uh-huh. No. Nyet. Nope. No way. I'm finding Xander a nice boy who'll play with him. One who won't strap him down or spank him."
"Much more than I needed to know about my son's sex life," Joxer complained loudly. He punched his brother, knocking him out of his seat. "I told you I didn't like that. But *noooo*. Jett knows *everything*!" he said snidely, glaring at him. "If my son is harmed, you're going to pay."
"Joxer, did you take stupidity candy?" Ares asked. "You can't beat him."
"I can so. After all, I'm the only one who knows Jett's weakest spots." He continued to stare Jett down. "My son is to be happy. End of sentence." Jett glared. "Try it."
"Enough!" Ares yelled. "Fight later! Let's not make this meeting last any longer than it has to. It's all been too long already."
"I agree, let's get on with this," Lachesis ordered. "Who here wants Zeus and Hera to retire?" Everyone in the room raised their hands. "Good, approved! Ares, it's yours."
"Blow me, I'm already too busy and have too many headaches."
"I'll do it," Athena offered.
Ares looked at her. "That means you'd have to sleep with a *man*," he taunted. "Have *kids*, lots of *babies*." She looked disgusted. "Any other takers?"
"We say you're doing it, you can have someone give you drugs," Clotho told him.
"Fuck," Ares growled.
"Yeah, well...." Strife said, inching away from them. "Someone's gotta be the guy in charge and you do that okay enough."
Atropos cleared her throat. "Strife, if he doesn't marry soon, you're the queen of the Gods!" she called over the complaints going on.
"'Dite, save me!" Strife yelled. She looked at him, looking confused. "Either he gets hitched or I'm becoming Queen?"
Strife as Queen of the Gods was a fate worse than bad hair, bad skin, and ugly shoes in her book. But it would solve a problem. "Xander," she said, nodding a bit. "He's a good choice!"
"Fat chance!" Willow yelled. "That'd make him my step-mother! Ewww!"
"I agree, eww!" Cupid called. He glared at the Fates. "Please? Shoot that one down?"
"He'd make a good Queen," Clotho offered with a grin.
"Fine, when Ares marries Xander, we'll retire and boss from behind the scenes," Hera said dryly.
"Oh, no!" Ares shouted, standing up. "I don't want it! I don't need it! I certainly don't want him!"
"Tough!" the Fates yelled back. "Good choice, Aphrodite!" She did the work so they didn't have to.
"Thanks!" she called, looking bewildered. She looked at her son. "You think he'll complain?"
"Yeah," he said, frowning at her. "Xander? I don't think he wants anything that serious." He concentrated, finding the kid out in his hotel room. He called him but he was blocked. "Damn it! Pops! Call him so we can get this done!" he called. "That way he can go party and celebrate!"
"Dad!" Cupid ordered, glancing at the head couple, who were looking very smug. "Now!"
Ares growled. "Don't I have a say?" The Fates shook their heads. "And what is *he* supposed to do?"
"Back you up."
"We'll name his area once he's up here," Clotho promised, disappearing.
"Sure they didn't have anything planned for him," Buffy said dryly, looking at Athena. "Sorry they turned you down. Don't kill me because of it, 'kay? Please? I need a better man before I die. One who can give good oral sex and sharpen stakes."
Athena looked at her, then pointed at Aphrodite. "That's her area. Talk to her."
"Oh Great Pink One, may I please have a snookums of my own?" she called, trying to sound pitiful. "Someone with good oral sex skills who can also sharpen stakes and likes to help me hunt?"
"There's always Jett," she called with a grin.
"I don't like being tied down."
Jett glared then slapped her, hard. "Stop it. You're making a spectacle of yourself."
"So? Half of them are nearly naked, they all know you like rough sex, probably because you've played with some of them and they knew you when you were mortal, and we alllll know what Xander was getting from you since we walked in on it, four times." Cupid choked and she looked at him, nodding. "Really! I even asked politely, nearly begging, for them not to do that in front of us ever again! He didn't listen! The next time we came to get Xander, he was tied down, naked, sweaty, limp, and covered in sperm! I know way too much about naked Xander and Jett's sex habits!"
Strife shuddered. "I wouldn't wanna walk into that either," he admitted, looking at Cupid. "You catch a peek?"
"Yeah, and usually I go find something a bit more happy whenever I catch a whiff of it. Or haven't you noticed that in the last two years?"
Strife considered, then nodded. "Yeah, I have noticed a few times you've jumped me." He stole a kiss. "Oh, well. Sorry, man."
"Alexander Lavelle Harris, get your skanky, bondage ass up here!" Willow shouted. Even Hercules rubbed his ears to clear the ringing from that scream.
Xander appeared, frowning at her. "What?" he demanded. "I got excused!"
Buffy giggled. "You need to shop for a wedding dress. The Fates just said you're marrying Ares and the sooner you do it, the sooner Ares takes charge."
Xander raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms. "Oh, really?" He looked at Ares, who was shuddering. "Like I give a damn. You can have yours, I'll have my lovers, we'll do it in name only." Ares looked alarmed. "I doubt you'd do it my way. I'm going to be on top in my next 'ship. I'm tired of being the butt boy around here." He looked at the sheepish woman who just reappeared. "Must you fuck with my life further?"
She nodded. "Yup, sorry. Remember, there'll have to be a wedding night."
"Yeah, sure," he said dryly, nodding. "Some century when I'm bored and he's bored." He looked at Hera. "Then let's do this so I can get back to my life."
"You'll have duties," she sneered.
"Which I can do just as well down there. I'll take a small part of the temple of War for myself and my comfort when necessary that I return up here. Otherwise," he made a 'pfft' noise. "Could care less. Sorry, I'm liking this 'life' thing I've got now." He waved a hand and his clothes changed, becoming black silk pants and a dark blue t-shirt. "There, I'm clothed. Ares? Let's do this," he said in a bored tone of voice.
"I'd rather marry for affection at least."
"Yeah, me too. You can divorce my ass in the next year or so. Like I said, this is a formality." Ares groaned. "Your choice."
Discord leaned over to her brother, looking very stoned. "If you don't, we're all in danger."
"Fine." He walked forward, taking his hand. "I top."
"Sure," he snorted. "Like I said, some year. You'll have your playmates, I'll have mine, and it's not like I'm gonna be jealous." Ares nodded, accepting that. "Buffy, Willow, watch over Jett for me." He looked at Hera. "Let's do this," he prompted.
"I cannot and will not do a wedding for a couple who does not truly desire it," she said coldly.
Xander looked at the Fates since the other two had just appeared and they had probably planned this all along. "Oh, you'll have to or we'll all die," they complained. Hera glared so they shrugged. "Not our fault. Yell at the Norns," they called, then grinned.
"Fine. Do you want him?" she ground out.
"Enough," Ares agreed.
"Do you want him?" she asked again.
"Sure, close enough for me," Xander agreed.
"Then you're married. Kiss or shake hands." They kissed and then Xander waved and disappeared, but the Fates brought him back. "See, you can't escape."
"He can. Xander, you're to be the God of Emotions and Lust."
"Yay. That means I get to club tonight, right?" They nodded. "Cool." He disappeared, going back to bed.
Ares looked at his parents. "Go home. We're done!" he announced. Everyone disappeared with a sigh of relief. Ares moaned once he was alone, setting off Discord's giggles. "You, sleep it off," he ordered. "Strife!" He reappeared, looking miserable. "It's your duty to brief Xander on his new duties. By the day-after-next. I want him back for daily briefings, no matter where he ends up. I will have him back up here and being responsible by the end of the week. I'll arrange for his suite tomorrow. Also, he is to live up here and travel from up here." Strife nodded. "Good. Go, don't forget any of that. I'm going to drink myself into a stupor."
"That's how I started out too," Zeus said from the doorway, looking smug. "Let's see how long you last."
Xander appeared, naked and yawning. He looked at Strife. "I heard. Ares, I'll be back up in two weeks. I need a vacation to destress." He looked at Zeus. "You, bugger yourself. Ares, I'll need some books. I've been training myself and I'm a bit shaky on the communication and transformative arts."
"I can help there," Ares noted, moving closer. "You have a tattoo?"
"I have had a tattoo." He crossed his arms over his chest, looking at his temporary spouse. "I'm doing okay teaching myself. I know how I learn best and what sparks the need to learn something."
"Fine. Then you, Strife, and Cupid will finish your education. You can borrow Bacchus if you need to as well. I want you fully trained in the offensive and defensive magics."
"I got those. I simply can't change my clothes usually and things like that. I also can't eavesdrop or scry."
"Fine. Get with them for that. I want you as fully trained as possible as soon as possible. Strife had a few problems with those areas as well." Xander nodded. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, I'm going to ride some roller coasters. I'll be back." He disappeared, heading back to his room to go back to bed.
"We'll make sure he's fully trained," Strife agreed, disappearing.
Ares looked at Zeus. "Unlike Mother, my spouse just ordered me to cheat on him. I doubt he'll become jealous and I doubt I'm going to be spreading around demigods like they're glitter at a stripper party." He headed back to his temple to start drinking and find Xander an area of his own. He could almost kick Discord out of her temple but then he'd have to live with her. He found a nice corridor and checked it. It was mostly storage. He could gift his new spouse with that, letting him rework it to suit himself.
Xander appeared, dropping his bags, looking at the people gathered around the main hall. "Did I come at a bad time?"
"No. You know that corridor past my office?"
"The storage areas?"
"The alternate training areas," Strife told him. "Come on, I'll show ya." He took one of the bags, letting Xander get the others and follow him. "You okay?"
"Much better now," he admitted with a grin. "I really can work on my own training, Strife."
"Nah, we've got it. That way you're not vulnerable."
"Point," he admitted. "Fine, whenever you've got time. I don't want to get you in trouble with big, snarly, and body-warming out there." Strife snickered at that. "He is hot, but I'm not bottoming for anyone for quite a while."
"I get it. I wouldn't either. Jett wanted to know if you needed a body slave."
"Not at the moment, but he's welcome to apply."
Strife opened the new door to the corridor. "All yours. From this point on it's your area."
"Cool." Xander walked in and looked in some of the rooms, then started changing things. Hephaestus appeared, looking really startled. "I did construction. I can help," he defended. "You like so far?"
Hephaestus looked around, then nodded slowly. "So far." He stayed around, watching as Xander created a mostly open floor plan, with one area for practice and a sealed bedroom. He nodded again. "This is nice. You're going with gray, blue, and green?"
"With other touches," he admitted with a grin. "I like bronze." He sent his things into the bedroom, letting them lay in there for now. He'd unpack when he got bored or needed something too badly to find it without searching. Hephaestus added a few small statues, making him smile. "Thanks, Hephaestus." He gave him a manly hug and a clap on the back. "Nothing too odd, but curves and male forms are always welcome." He blew a kiss and headed into the kitchen area. "Want a drink, man?"
"No, I'm good. Thanks anyway." He looked around, calling something from the forge. It was his fires done in silver but it went well with the decor. Xander 'ooohed' and walked over to touch it, giving him a bright, happy smile. "I like that and it fits in here." He smiled a bit and disappeared.
"I agree, it suits you," Strife told him. He flopped down, looking around. He created a chair and grinned at the new overlord. "For my use."
"Like I care," Xander said with a shrug. "It's all good at the moment." He went back to getting a soda, handing over a bottle of water as he came out to flop down. "There, I'm here."
Someone appeared, Cupid with Bliss. "Hi," he said with a grin. "Bliss wanted to bring you a picture."
"Ooh, more art," he said happily, taking the picture. He grinned at the little God and created a frame for it, hanging it up and then flopping back down. "There, that's the perfect spot," he said happily. Bliss beamed and flew over to hug him. "I love you too, little guy. You're one of my favorite Gods." Bliss giggled and snuggled in. "I might even read *stories* now and then."
Cupid beamed at him. "You're an okay stepmom."
"I try," he offered with a grin. "It's not your idea or your fault that I'm suddenly married when all I wanted was a bit of exploring." He shrugged and patted the baby on the back. "We do what we must and play as many times as we can sneak away."
Strife snickered and nodded, saluting him with his water. "That's a good view ta have," he said happily. "Hey, snookums, wanna cuddle me?"
"Cuddle Xander," he said happily, his wings wiggling a bit. "He good."
"I am, and you're still running a fever," Xander said dryly, looking at Cupid, who sighed and manifested the medicine. "Take it all and don't spit out this time and you can help me hang up stuff and put out my Star Trek collection."
Bliss made a grossed out face but took his medicine and settled in to let it work before helping him by hanging up stuff to make it all pretty. Then he came out with the pile of Star Trek stuff, arranging it on a set of shelves his father called up at his look. "Picard!" he said happily, pointing at him. "He's cool, daddy."
"I'm sure he is, but I always liked the Voyager crew," Strife assured him. He switched some stuff around and Xander rearranged it. "Ah, a Q fan."
"Yeah, cocky attitude and all that," he offered with a grin. "I consider him a suitable role model."
Cupid snickered. "Don't tell Pops that." He winked and grabbed Bliss before he could rearrange things, waving and taking him to Aphrodite's.
"We figured we'd test your skills taday," Strife said casually. "Figure out where you're at in some things."
"Fine. I can agree with that. Should I change?"
"Nope. Not if you're comfortable." Xander nodded and finished his soda, putting the can into the recycling bin. Then he stood up and waved Strife on. Strife lunged and he blocked his blows, getting away from him and his attacks. They chased each other around and ended up back in the main hall, showing off a bit for Ares' amusement. Strife cast a nasty hex at Xander, who ducked it and turned him purple with yellow polka dots. Then he smirked at him and winked, disappearing again.
Strife looked at himself, grimacing. "Ewww!" He flashed himself normal again, shuddering a bit. "That's mean, Xander!" he yelled, chasing after him. They came back with a few new things and disappeared again. Hephaestus appeared, looking at the new artwork, then smirked a bit at one, pointing at it. Strife pointed at Xander.
"I made that in shop class," he defended. "My first attempt."
"I like it," Hephaestus assured him. "It's cute." He grinned at him. "Cupid's trying to get Bliss to sleep. 'Dite sent me to help."
"We're testing him today. He's done good defendin'," Strife offered.
"That'll be handy," Hephaestus agreed calmly. "What weak spots does he think he has?"
"Transformative and communication," Xander called. He came out of the bathroom, wiping his hands off. "I need more towels. I should probably make some."
"We have plenty of those and regular laundry service," Discord said as she walked in. She looked around and nodded. "Nice job, Hephaestus."
"I only helped, Xander did most of it," he told her.
"Okay, then good job, sister-in-law," she teased.
"You too can be polka dotted," Xander teased back with a wicked smirk. "Are we throwing a party? If so, I need to get more food."
"Nah, we're good," Strife promised, creating some chex mix for everyone. Discord snickered and took some to nibble on, sitting down on the couch. She soon had a chair of her own. "Did ya choose a hard couch to get rid of people?"
"I like napping on hard couches. I nearly suffocated on Giles' a few times," he told him, curling up on his couch. He grinned at Hephaestus. "There's a footrest on the other side, man." He got a small grin as the older God sat down and put his feet up, wiggling a bit and looking pleased. "See, someone likes my decorating skills." Hephaestus pulled a pillow for his back. "That smells like your wife."
"I can't get used to not smelling her perfume everywhere."
"I'm sure she'll be scenting everything soon enough," Xander pointed out dryly.
"Did you take my sex pillow?" Aphrodite called a few minutes later. "How else am I going to support my hips?" She appeared, hands on her hips, looking at her husband. "Take one of the other ones, Hephy! That's our *special* pillow."
"Yeah, but you usually use it whenever you have to retrieve it," Discord noted, eating some more of the party mix. The Goddess of Love just smirked and stole her husband and her pillow. A few more appeared around the apartment.
"I knew you'd all add some stuff," Xander said, tossing a pink, faux fur pillow off to the side. "I don't do furry. Otherwise I'd have kept Oz."
The two discordant gods giggled at that. He really was going to liven up the place.
Tara looked up and sighed. "Xander!" she pleaded. He appeared, giving her a hug. "Please, *PLEASE* fix Willow?" she begged.
He nodded, grabbing the tied-up witch on the bed in front of Tara, taking her with him. He appeared in front of where Hecate was lounging, handing her over. "Tara said she's having discipline problems. She begged me to fix her."
"What did she do?"
"I don't know. I haven't been able to see into Sunnydale for the last month, since she did that neat me memory spell."
"Memory spell? Really?" she asked casually, swatting her witch across the back of the head. "We'll be talking, Xander. Thank you. I hadn't heard Tara yelling."
"She yelled for me earlier but I was in the middle of beating the shit outta Strife for the ice dildo he used to get me up this morning." He shrugged and disappeared, going back to his paperwork. Well, Ares' paperwork, but it was keeping the God of War less frustrated and happy. It was a good thing for everyone. His dad was even helping around the office with Strife's son Percy. Xander appeared in Ares' office, looking at the pouting young man sitting there. "Did you die again, Daniel?" he joked, giving him a pat on the back as he moved around him to do the stacks of requisitions.
"Where's Ares this time?"
"Screaming into the Void."
"Ah." He nodded, doing the paperwork magically. More appeared and he did that as well, a few scrolls staying there since his powers said there was something wrong with them. He read them over, frowning a bit as he made notes on them. Apparently Athena and Artemis wanted them to have kids? He made a note on the top and sent it to Apollo. He could explain to them both why their kids would be horrible menaces who would make the entire world shudder in horror. Ares walked in and slammed the door. "I'm nearly done, there's three left. Athena and Artemis wanted us to have kids." He grinned at the groaning God. "I sent it to Apollo with a smart remark about imagining those kids destroying the temples and rebuilding them like lego sets and for him to explain to them why this was a bad idea. I'm figuring his bards can make many songs about the horrors of our kids. I know Dad's got at least one."
Ares nodded. "Two. I heard him singing them to Strife last night. Up." Xander gave him back his seat. "Shoo. Go practice."
"Doing what? Oh, Willow's with Hecate. Tara finally got fed up and yelled for me, pleading for me to fix her."
"They don't want kids either?" Daniel joked.
"Tara does, but Willow's become scary." He winked and strolled out, stopping Percy from walking in. "Don't, he's talking to Daniel. He managed to die again."
Percy rolled his eyes. "That boy needs a new job." He handed over the basket of scrolls he had. "The anonymous drop file. Mostly about the prospect of children."
Xander snickered. "Go tell dad that and ask him to perform tonight in the main circle. Anything else important?"
"Mum wanted to see Ron and Harry as soon as they could be uncovered."
"They're up the coast. Hestia and Psyche know where they are too." Percy nodded, going to call them then talk to Joxer. Xander walked off giggling at his brilliance. That would get that request down quite a lot.
Ron walked into the back door of his family home and kissed his father on the cheek. "We're safe, dad. Harry and I are both in Greece." He sat down, looking at his shocked mother. "You okay, mum?"
"Fine," she said weakly. "You look healthy."
"We've got a garden and I've been teaching Harry how to do plants." He grinned a bit, winking at his father. Then he waved his mother closer, giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "We're fine, mum, and you can come visit us once the press has died off. Harry agreed that you're welcome any time you like." She smiled at that, going back to fixing dinner. "Harry's better now. It took him a few weeks to recover fully from that night and all the spells that got removed from him." His mother dropped a fork, turning to look at him. "And on me. I was a bit dizzy for a day or two, but I only had half as many. Only one to kill me if we survived the war. He had at least three and he had been tied to Professor Snape in a binding consort way. Apparently Snape was not happy either."
"No, he wasn't. He's retired from the school," Arthur admitted. "Do you see much of Percy?"
"Not really. I heard he's got a new job working with Xander." He shrugged and shifted. "He's about fifty miles from us."
"Then you're by the coast?"
"We've got a beautiful view, mum. Some ocean, the mountains in the distance. There's a nice beach near the house that almost no one uses because there's some rocks. We live in the middle of nowhere. We could hold an orgy outside with a bonfire and no one'd notice at all." His father smiled at that. "Harry's a lot better now. He needed this. How's Hermione? She hasn't sent us a letter in two months and we're worried about her."
"Studying for her NEWTs," Molly reminded him. "You could take them."
Ron looked at the boiling pot on the stove, then lifted it without using his wand. He put it carefully back down then looked at his mother. "I don't think I need 'em, mum. Do you?" She shook her head, coming over to hug him again. "Thanks. Any bad news?"
"Charlie knocked up his last girl," Ginny said as she walked in. "The Headmaster said you were back."
"Just for a visit. You guys can come visit us once the press has died a bit," he offered with a small grin. "You might have to sleep in the root cellar, but it'll be fine."
She snorted and shook her head. "I doubt it. I can camp." She sat down. "The headmaster said that Xander kidnaped him until Jett came back and let it be very known why you two escaped. Something about consort spells...."
"And death spells. Both of us were to die if we survived the war," he said simply. She shivered and he nodded. "Xander found 'em and had 'em removed by a sorcerer we ran into that night. The consort spell was taken off by Willow."
"But you're safe now?"
"Yeah, very safe. We're near the coast. No really close neighbors. The house is fully warded and protected." He felt something wiggle in his back pocket so grabbed it to stop before he decided he might like that sensation. He earned a pinch for that thought but what he found made him smile. "Here, mum. Dad, take some time off. Before they attack." He winked at his dad, then stood up. "I'll see you soon, mum." He disappeared, leaving his clothes, and the tracking charm that had been stuck on Ginny and had transferred to him, there. Harry gave him an odd look. "Ginny was mined with a tracking spell when the Headmaster felt me go back. They've got train tickets down the middle of next month."
"I think we can find a spot for everyone to camp then," Harry agreed happily. He walked Ron into the house. Outside it looked like a small hut. Inside, it was nearly big enough for the whole Weasley clan to comfortably live together and not get on each other's nerves. "Was there any good news?"
"Charlie knocked someone up."
"It's about time," Harry joked, punching him on the arm. "Go put on clothes, Ron."
"Fine. It's not like anyone would care but you." He headed to his room to put on clothes, but he stayed up there to read for a bit.
Joxer finished his last song and most of the Gods there burst out in tears, clutching each other. They went back to their temples, withdrawing their suggestions for children. They couldn't do that to the world. Some of them were mean, but not *that* mean.