The New World of Awareness.

John watched the tv coverage of Cleveland, calling the base.  "Landry, John Sheppard, they need help in Cleveland.  What do you mean it's letting things through the stargate?  No, that's more important.  Need the city's teams?"  He smiled.  "Thanks."  He hung up and called the city.  "Evan, John.  Go to Cleveland and help now.  Yeah, that thing on the tv is an apocalypse.  No, the city itself won't be needed but they could use the marines.  Thanks."  He hung up and called Jack.  "Because of Cleveland, the stargate is pulsing and pushing out demons."  He hung up.  He called the ship once he had his own weapons.  "Ellis, this is Sheppard, send me to Cleveland asap."  He got sent.

Jack hung up and grabbed his own weapons.  "Boys, we're going to Cleveland," he shouted.  They rushed in wearing riot gear.  One handed him a new vest and he nodded, putting it on.  He put in his earpiece.  "Ellis, this is O'Neill, send me now.  Cleveland.  I heard, Rosenburg's being sent back."  He hung up.  They got beamed.  They knew to take his guards with him.  "Shit," he said in awe.  He saw Dawn.  "Summers!"  She turned to look at him.  "This is going through my project too."

"Got it!"  She found Willow and told her, making her go save her new people.  It meant Dawn had to step up her powers.  Sam was nearby guarding the witches.  The rest were jumping in against the demon guards and the higher ups.  More soldiers got beamed in and joined in with a few quick orders from Evan Lorne and Jon O'Neill.  She took Sam's hand and cast a very impractical spell.  But it worked.  She was drained and panting, sweaty and in pain.  Sam got her steadied and out of the way of harm.  The other witches could handle more defensive spells.  Dawn rested for a few minutes then came back to help with that.  She was glowing and she realized that.  It made her a huge target.  Sam was still guarding her so they'd handle it together.  As was apparently meant to happen.

Xander looked up from killing a demon guard to find the Vice President next to him.  "Aim for the heads," he called over the noise of the battle.  "It's the only thin spot on their armor and they absorb any energy weapons."  He nodded, passing that back.  They moved together, Xander helping guard him since he didn't have guards.  A few things needed to be cut so Xander got them with his axe while they shot the rest.  Thankfully he had demanded that the girls be taught guns and how to shoot.  Buffy and Giles had hated it, oh well.  They finally made it to the queens, finding O'Neill there with them and a few others.  They rushed and killed them.  Xander set a bomb in the hellmouth to close it and they ran off.  It exploded, shooting goo, ichor, and blood everywhere.  The slayers let up a cheer and finished the cleanup.  Xander panted, leaning down.  "Stitch in my side," he said when someone put a hand on his shoulder.  He straightened up, looking at the vice president.  "Sir."

"Xander."  He looked around.  "Hell of a mess.  Thank you for the warning."

"I tried."

"I heard and they're in deep shit," he said bluntly.  He patted him on the shoulder with a small smile.  "Let me check on my people."  He looked at Jack, getting a nod back.  They went to check on the soldiers.  Xander was checking on the slayers.  Agents came screaming up.  "Oh, don't tell me they're going to try," he said dryly.

Jack nodded.  "Apparently."  He walked that way, scaring a few.  "Stop it now!" he snapped.  They flinched and looked at him.  "Help the clean up, people.  Since you're too damn scared to show up to defend your own country."  He walked off.  One of them tried to pounce him.  Bad idea.  Jack had been special forces for years.  That agent was sorry.

Buffy picked him up, looking at him.  "Idiot, that's the president."  She dropped him back down.  "Sir, are you all right?  We have medical teams waiting."

"A few cuts, nothing too bad.  I'll go in the last batch."  She nodded, getting the most injured back now.  The agents trying to stop them got cuffed by the girls and put into their cars.  Jack and John both went in the last batch.  Xander had to nag them to go and be pulled himself.  They got back to the house and found a few more agents waiting but these were actually helping.  Jack made a few calls on the way to fix this problem in the making.  So maybe he'd make a presidential order.


Jack looked at the press people, his t-shirt showing the bandages he was wearing and the cane he was leaning on was obvious.  He had a large cut on his leg so had the cane for a week or so.  He missed healing wands so much.  "Thank you to all who helped during the apocalypse battle in Cleveland yesterday," he said.  The press people stared at him.  "Yes, we had hints it was going to happen.  The Watchers Council does a good job of warning us when these things happen.  That's their jobs."

He looked around the room.  "Those agents who tried to stop us from doing what had to be done, they're not wanted in this government.  Frankly I don't want them in this country."  He let that sink in for a second.  "Also, as an FYI, not all demons are bad.  There are some that are.  There are some that have been sneaking here for years for better jobs and asylum.  Some to this country, some to others.  Some of those sort were helping us fight the ones causing problems yesterday.

"We have been briefed on the Council, the types of demons that have moved here, all that.  We know how to classify the harmless ones who only want a good life.  We know how to call a slayer for the ones that aren't."  A few raised their hands.  "As of yesterday, it showed that we can't keep that secret any longer.  Because doing so only causes more problems.  The head of the Council agreed with me.  Therefore, we'll be giving you some information about them and the harmless ones here."

He smirked.  "There's even a harmless group that eat flesh.  They get medical waste from plastic surgeries and things."  A few of the reporters shuddered.  "I welcome anyone who wants to live and work here peacefully.  Those demons that came illegally, we'll be working on a way to see who wants citizenship.  Some of them have been here for generations and not caused any problems."  He looked around again.  "The last thing I'm doing today is to announce that I am putting in recommendations for Congressional Medals of Honor for a few of the people at the battles yesterday."

One reporter stood up.  "Sir, are you saying that demons are real?"

"What did you think those beings were yesterday?" he asked her.

"Possibly alien?"

"Well, they did come from another plane," John said as he walked in.  "We've had a few planes that have come here with less than peaceful intent.  The situation that got blacked out in LA a few years back was another of those."  She nodded, sitting down.  "The same as the suicide cult that got us our jobs, they were hunted down to the extinction of their race on this plane."

"They were demons?" one shouted.

"Yes," Jack agreed.  "The Council was taking them out when they decided to go with their plans.  Other countries knew about this before but not all wanted to think about it.  Some knew about the Council and some ignored it."

"It's not something I'm comfortable thinking about," John admitted.  "It's a bit stranger than I'm used to."  He smiled.  "But if they're here peacefully, willing to be good citizens, work like all the rest of us do, then I don't have a problem with them.  Some of them were apparently here before humans were."  The reporters started to shout questions again.  "Ask the Council, people, not us.  We had to be briefed on that ourselves."

"I asked a few of the former presidents.  They heard it too," Jack admitted.

"Mr. Harris was there," one shouted.

"Yes he was.  When John showed up next to him in the battle, he kept him safe and fought beside him. He's one I'm putting in the medal recommendation for."  They nodded at that.  "The same as the senior slayers and the girls who did exemplary duty during the battle, two of those being posthumous ones."

"You said battles," one reporter said, standing up.  "We didn't see another one."

"A classified project that's dealing with high energy research had another portal open among their research and some demons spill out there.  They handled it and a few of them are getting military honors," John said.

They all took that down.  "Any other questions?" Jack asked.

"Sir, how injured were each of you?" one reporter asked.

"Few minor cuts, a big one on my leg," Jack admitted.

John winced.  "A few really good cuts, one bad one on my stomach."

"Who were those military people who showed up?" he asked.

"My former project's people," John said with a smile.  "They did good work yesterday.  I've already thanked them and given them a hell of a treat since they're somewhat locked to base."

Jack looked at him.  "Beer and pizza?"

"Ice cream too," he agreed with a smile.  "New movies."  Jack grinned.  "A week's pass for those who fought too."  Jack snickered and nodded.  "The same went to the other project that nearly got overrun."  The reporter smiled at him.  "Anything else?  We have to make sure that the idiots who showed up to try to arrest us for handling it don't have a job."

"And those in Congress who tried before this event to get the Council out, we want to see why," Jack finished.   They walked off together.  "We're going to be hearing about it for years from the Churches," Jack muttered.

"Rome knew.  They had to know."


"Any that doubt, the demons probably have people like Al Sharpton, sir."

"That's a bad mental image, Sheppard."  John grinned back.   They walked into the oval office and the guards in there stood straighter.  "You guys feeling that bored?"

"Sir, we have to report that six of the guards on detail here no longer have jobs because they were involved in the plot to let this apocalypse happen."

"Why?" John asked.  He sat down.

"Because they're scared of what demons might mean to the US.  We've found one is actually a demon and she's been very honest all day with our bosses.  She's apparently slightly empathic.  Do you want to charge the agents who grabbed you with treason, sir?"

"No, they can have the same charges as the rest.  I was acting as a general yesterday," Jack told them.  He sat down behind his desk.  "Were they all Homeland?"

"Yes, sir."

"I pity that department's hiring rush then," John quipped.  "Anyone else on staff?  Since our phones supposedly were diverted."

"Two, sir.  You need a new assistant, General."  Jack grimaced but nodded.   "And another intern.  The Vice President's phone was diverted by the same people."

"Good to know," John agreed.  "I'd give you mine, sir, but she likes my sense of humor and describes things to me."

Jack nodded.  "I might name Carter.  She's been blowing a gasket again.  Or steal Walter."

"He is the super assistant sort," John agreed.

"Get him with my chief of staff to help him find me one," Jack decided.  "Walter knows what I need after having helped me while I was on base."  The guards nodded, one going to tell him that.  "Any other news?"

"Some, sir.  Director Hammond wanted a word."  Jack called him.  He looked at John.  "The Director of the CIA wanted to talk as well about the demons and their possible threats."

"Have him meet with me later and if we have to, I'll call Harris or Giles."  He nodded, going to make that note.  Jack muttered something as he hung up.  "Bad news?"

"He's retiring.  He's feeling old again."

"He kind of is, General."  Jack gave him a dirty look.  "He was in his sixties when you guys gave him ulcers from missions."

"He was?"  John nodded.  "Huh."  He sighed.  His Chief of Staff walked in.  "Find me a new one to replace Hammond.  He's tired and feeling old.  I hate it for him but if he wants to retire in peace I'm going to send him at the Council to help them."  His chief of staff smirked at that.  "Walter's number," he said, handing that over with his name.

"Yes, General."  He left them to talk about the problems yesterday.

John's guard leaned in.  "Doctor McKay is here and huffy, sir."

"Show him in," Jack agreed.  Rodney stomped in.  "Did you figure out why it was bleeding through?"

"Yes.  It was open when the portal started.  We're working on a safeguard and will finish it when Rosenburg wakes up.  She wore herself out yesterday."  He glared at John.  "Major Lorne said to beat you to death for getting injured because you might ask him to sub in."

"Evan's a good man with political background," Jack said dryly.  "I nearly named him but he was younger."

Rodney shook his head.  "Are we due another one soon?"

"No, that we know about," John admitted.

"Why was that one girl glowing green?"

"Ask Willow when she wakes up," Jack ordered.  "I asked and got told but it's very eyes only, McKay.  It's something that could get her and her new husband killed."

Rodney looked around then at him.  He set down and activated a bug jammer, staring at him.  "Well?"

"Apparently there's an inter-dimensional key that someone like Rosenburg made human to protect it," John said quietly.  "From something about as strong as invaded yesterday."  Rodney slumped.  "The glow was her drawing on that power."

Rodney nodded.  "What was it before?"

"A ball of energy."

"Do we have anything on that?"

"Ask Danny.  He's at the Council," Jack said.  "I saw him yesterday and he's limping pretty badly today so probably sitting in the library."

"I can do so.  Would they know anything about Atlantis?"

"That's one reason why he's there," Jack said.

"Even better."  He turned off the bug jammer but Jack turned it back on with a grin.  "Fine.  How much longer is this problem going to last?  We could use the good colonel today to calm some people down."

"He can go today, McKay.  He's not due back for a few days."  That got a smile and they left together.  Jack stretched and winced but felt better for it.  He got up and decided to take a walk in the gardens.  "I really miss flying."

"We're moving an X-302 closer," one of the guards told him.  "For city defense, sir.  You can test it if you need to."

He grinned at his guards.  "Thanks, guys."  They smiled back.  That was nicer.  John would like that too.


Xander was downtown avoiding the press on the doorstep when he saw someone appear in a flash of light.  "Huh," he said, moving closer.  A few people gave him nervous looks.  He saw another going for it.  "Are you lost?" he asked.

The man looked at him.  "I am the prophet of the Ori.  I am here to tell you of your doom if you do not follow us."

Xander shot him non-fatally.  "No thanks.  I hate Jehovah's who get too pushy too."  The agent gaped.  "This is part of General O'Neill's old project," he said quietly.  "He's not demonic.  Or human."  The agent stiffened and called that in.  Xander waited.  The guy wasn't dead, just really in bad shape.  He wasn't going to be using that knee anymore.  He picked up the staff to look at, frowning.  "Slightly magical markings."

"Magic doesn't exist, it's heretical," the man on the ground groaned.

Xander stared at him.  "Yet, two days ago we had an invasion of demons here from another plane."  He smirked.  "I can show you differently but that's not my area."  Two more agents came running.  This time he didn't know them so not local agents.  "Boys," he said in greeting.  He handed over the staff.  "He was carrying that.  He said he's a prophet of the Ori here to tell us about our doom if we don't convert."

"How did he get here, Mr. Harris?"

"Flash of light."

"Do you know anything about them?"

"Isn't that why you guys put Jackson in our library to haunt us?" he asked.

"Good point," he decided.  He called it in.  "Sir, an Ori prophet."

Xander smirked at the supposedly scary attempting invader.  "For your information, we have plenty of kooks selling religion and cures down here, dude.  You're not going to win.  I know beings that could ruin your whole universe for shits and giggles.  Two of them owe me poker debts.  And I'd send Andrew to help because he'd think it was cool."  He smirked evilly.  "You still sure you want to say we're going to have problems?"

"Sir, who would you send?" one of the new agents asked.

"Illyria."  He smirked.  "She's a former God-King.  Then maybe I'd send Gorm.  He's a nice guy.  Very sweet.  Bad kitten poker player though.  His kind eat energy.  Like wormholes, gateways, whatever's making him look ashy."  He walked off snickering and calling.  Maybe they'd like it and Andrew would think it was the coolest birthday present ever.

Illyria showed up, sneering at the man.  "Puny Ori.  How dare you touch my world."  She laid a hand on him and he started to scream.   "I am the God-King Illyria.  One of the Old Ones."  Andrew jogged up and gave her a hug with a squeal.  "Andrew, must you?  I am trying to teach this unworthy one a lesson."

"Yes.  He's a bad alien.  It's so cool!"  He grinned at the agents.  "We do keep a police band scanner in the kitchen in case of problems."

"Good to know, sir.  Aren't you the housemother for the local slayer house?"

"I am.  Andrew Wells."  He smirked at him.  "Backup magic focus."

"Magic is not real!" the man shouted.

Andrew created a fairy light.  "Really?"  He grinned.  The man started to scream like they were torturing him.  He banished the light.  Gorm stomped over.  He was about six and a half feet tall, modestly hairy with a short, dark gray pelt, and had two orange horns out of his ears.  "Hey, Gorm."

"Andrew.  I'll pay you those kittens soon."  He nodded politely at Illyria.  "May I, Great One?"

She looked at him.  "Your people would eat the power that taints him.  Yes.  You may."

He touched his head and he faded back to a normal looking being.  "Hmm, tasty but corrupt.  Our favorite sort."  He smiled at the agents.  "Can we help?"

"Maybe," he agreed, taking them with them back to the base.  He wanted to know more about what they could do to help.  Willow was barely awake and greeted all three of them with hugs.  Then she wandered off holding her head.  Andrew jogged after her to hug her again and she relaxed, looking happier with the energy he had let her have.  He came back to talk some more.  He already knew all about the project and proved it by babbling at Cam Mitchell when he walked in.  He had a bit of hero worship for him.  Maybe Mr. Mitchell would teach him how to pick up alien women.


John and Jack both listened to the tele-briefing.  "So, this Wells guy is a super geek?" Jack asked.

"No, sir, just a regular one."

"Huh.  How did he know?"

"Apparently his former group was responsible for one of our earlier hacks and he used to have team pictures up on the walls to moon over," Landry said.

"Okay," John said.  "Cam said something about some hero worship."

"The kid wanted to know how to pick up alien women," Landry said.  "Together, the three could stop a lot of the Ori threat."

"Are they willing to?"

"Yes."  Landry shrugged.  "I don't know much about where they came from outside of the fact that Harris called in a poker debt."

John moaned, shaking his head.  "I'll give you that ten bucks I owe you later, sir," he said.

Landry smirked.  "We think it's pretty unusual ourselves.  Can we have Harris?"

"No.  He's got a higher calling with the slayers," Jack said.  "Or else I would've recruited him last year."  Landry shook his head but he was smiling.  "Let me know what sort of backup and support they'll need."

"Not a lot.  Gorm's talked to a lot of his people.  They apparently need to leave their realm due to overcrowding but can't really come here because they'd be drawn to eat off the hellmouths and it might open them.  They don't want to be in conflict with the slayers."

"Then I'm all for helping them find a new home world," he decided.  "As long as they're good to the normal people."

"They have no desire to rule," Landry told him.  "Just nibble and graze as he put it."

"What did Vala think?" Jack asked.

"She was all for it.  Asked him to please eat her daughter if they ran into her ascended body."

"Go for it then if you think it'll be humanely done."  He hung up and leaned back in his seat, looking at the new assistant in the doorway.  He had shamelessly stolen Chuck from Atlantis.  "What?"

"You need to get ready for the White House dinner, sir.  Remember it's white tie.  Your valet laid out your outfit already for you."  He left.

"Why can't I avoid these things?" Jack complained on his way up to his rooms to get dressed.  He thought he looked like a dork in the white tie and tails but his valet assured him he wasn't as bad as he thought.


A reporter caught Jack and his guards out for a run, pulling up beside them in a news van.  The guards reached for their guns but she was happy and only had a video camera and microphone.  "Sir, any plans for when you're not president?" she called out the window.

"I'm going to go fishing without people looking over my shoulder," he joked.

"You know you'll have guards even after you retire, right, sir?" one of them asked with a smirk.

"I'm sure the next president can rescind that so I can go back to doing insane things to save the US," he quipped.  Both guards shook their heads.  He looked at the reporter.  "John said he's going to have a 'whoo-hoo I survived the suits' party," he offered with a smirk.

"Thank you, Mr. President.  Have a good jog.  Are you running for reelection?  I know some people are asking."

"No!  Please no more diplomatic stuff that means I have to bite my tongue for a while."

"If you're sure, sir."  They sped off to get the story back to the news team.  That way it could be edited.

"That might've insulted someone, sir," one of his guards said.

"John'll get me back for the party comment sometime.  The rest know I'm not meant to be in his sort of job."  He kept going.  It felt good to get out of the building.  He had no idea how people who worked in an office all day did it.  A few miles later they ran into the two slayers.  "Crap, did we have a meeting?" he panted.

"Yup," Buffy said with a smile.  "It's nice to be outside today."

"Guys, chill, this is the senior slayer, Buffy Summers."

"We saw her at the incident, sir."  The guard on the left nodded at her.  "We can quit if you need a rest, sir.  Get a car to pick us up."

Jack gave him a dirty look.  "We can turn around if you're that tired, Inky."  He looked at Buffy.  "These are my current guards, Inky and Blinky."

She laughed.  "They're nearly as fierce as Xander is."  She waved off the other slayer since she looked tired.  "Go get a latte.  I'll meet you in a bit."  She nodded, jogging off to do that.  She kept pace with him pretty well.  "Xander said he didn't want a medal.  Most of us agree it'll only cause problems."

Jack shrugged.  "It'll cause less problems.  You might get some hero worship for a bit but otherwise you'll be fine."  He looked at her.  "Do you usually run?"

"We had many nights of running across Sunnydale because we had to.  We don't usually jog for fun though."  She smiled.  "We had girls coming to the house asking to see if they could be tested for the slayer gifts."

"Did any of them have it?"

"No.  We're having to put out what a slayer is, how she's called, how to identify one, all that.  It's getting freak-worthy, Jack."

"I know, but it's better this way.  This way you get told when things happen so you can adjust staffing and handle things without agent interference."  He panted and gulped some air.  She slowed down and he grinned, slowing down his pace some too.  That helped.  "It'll work out fine," he said a block later.  "Even my project will someday come out of the closet and it'll be like a drag queen show of brains."

"Yeah, I guess most scientists do dress really badly.  All the nerds and geeks I know don't have any fashion sense.  Especially Xander."

Jack chuckled.  "He's fine.  He's a normal guy."

"He's a slob, Jack.  Constantly.  I'm going to make his slayers take him shopping soon.  We used to take him to torment him and try to teach him about fashion."  She grinned at the guards.  "Would you trust Xander in what he usually wears?"

"Probably not," he admitted.  He was breathing hard.  "Sir, one more mile back to the White House."

"You two can collapse and we'll talk in the office, kids."  He smirked at her.  "They're used to normal exercise, not military issue running."

She shrugged.  "I'm used to running in emergencies but I was brought up to be a princess until I got called."

"You weren't trained by them?" he asked.

"No, they missed me.  The girls that they raised, well, they're less than fashionable too.  The one we met had *one* outfit.  I mean, how bad is that!"  She shook her head.  "I'm glad we reformed all that nastiness so the girls can be girls."

"It is better," he agreed.  He smirked at her.  "What did your parents do before you got called?"

"My dad did office-type stuff and had skanky ho secretaries with an open sign on their panties.  Mom ran an art gallery after the divorce until she died.  She's where I get my fashion sense from."

He smiled.  "Seeing your sister, it's clearly genetic."  She laughed and nodded.  "How's her new marriage doing?"

"Just fine.  Sam's a bit too overprotective of her.  He fusses like Xander sometimes.  Dean cracks up laughing at it too."  She sighed.  "I would've tied him up and kept him but he didn't want anything permanent.  It sucks because I can't get guys who're comfy with me being faster and stronger than they are.  I get macho crap like I got from Riley."

Jack smiled.  "Now more will know so maybe you'll get a man who likes really strong women."

"Maybe.  Hopefully some of the other girls will too.  It sucks how bad our dating lives are sometimes."  They jogged back into the White House's back gate.  She pulled her ID out, smiling at the guard who was scowling at her.  "We had a meeting anyway."

"Let the nice slayer in, guys."  They nodded and let her through.  Jack smiled at her.  "Sometimes they're very uptight."

"Xander's worse over dates."  She shrugged, putting her wallet back.  "Why do we have to have medals?"

"You get rewarded for doing good things," he told her.  "That's the way the system works.  It means more people want to do good things to get their own."  He looked at her as they walked up the hallway.  "Besides, it's ten minutes of fame.  It won't be that bad.  They're not going to interrupt tv shows for it, Buffy."

"Fine.  Xander said you'll have to drag him kicking and screaming.  He might be in his closet."

"We can definitely get him there," Jack said with a smug look.

"That blippy thingy that I did to get to the mountain?"


"I'll warn him to be dressed better than usual that day then.  That way you don't pull him while he's in his holey underwear."

Jack laughed.  "Xander's pretty much a normal guy, Buffy.  We don't shop and things like that."

"I know but he's still a slob."  She held the door open for him with a grin.  "Women's lib means I can do that for you instead," she quipped.  "It's about all that I learned out of college outside commandos are exciting but sometimes bad for me."  He burst out cackling, shaking his head.  "He was.  That's when I dated Riley."

"I'm sure that was just him, Buffy, not all commandos.  I was a decent human being when I was one."  She blushed but swatted him on the arm.  He smirked, letting her into the office.  "John."

"Jack.  Miss Summers."  He smiled.  "Have a good run?"

"It was nice not to be chased or heading for a problem while running."  She checked the seat before sitting down.  "Are you sure we have to be so open?"

"Yes, that way no one in any government that's smart will bother your people," Jack said.  "The ones that want to still bother your people, you let them handle their own problems unless it's an apocalypse battle."

"We pretty well do that in the Middle East anyway," she admitted.  "They tried to capture one of our girls for not wearing a huge cloak thingy because she had to fight later.  Who can fight in one of those?"

"Those sort, you let them handle it themselves unless they ask," John said.  "They can ask you to train them how to handle it.  A few governments might like that.  I know some of my project's people wanted to know more so they could help defend all of us."

She smiled.  "I might not mind doing that but Giles is really the teacher sort.  He has all the books and knowledge and tells us how to kill things.  That's what a Watcher does."

"How does Xander teach his girls?" John asked.

"He kinda takes them in, goes all mom over them, and then teaches them how to do things with the other girls helping.  They're more family like than team like and they're all kinda scary.  They're strong alpha slayers but fairly scary because he taught them explosives and stuff too.  We didn't even use guns until Xander got pushy."

Jack looked at her.  "I'd have hated to use a sword the other day."

"We did," she offered.  "Really sore shoulders but some of us shot and some of us beheaded and stabbed.  Then Xander blew things up.  He's getting bad at that.  Someone needs to talk him down from blowing up all evil things before he goes after one of the boyfriend hopefuls."

John smiled.  "We'd like to get his explosives file because he uses stuff we haven't seen before."

She smirked.  "Talk to him.  I have no idea.  I know one of the ones he used took a finger from a poker debt to set it off.  That was while he was in Africa.  That and a few other demon products like blood and stuff."

"I'll get with him on that," John decided.  "Rodney should love that experimenting time."

She looked at him.  "Is Rodney the boyfriend sort you've been hiding?  There's a lot of wondering about who he is and why you won't come out of the closet."

"No, I'm not dating Rodney no matter who thinks so," he said sarcastically with an evil smirk of his own.  "Who says I am?"

"You never date girls.  I guess they're assuming you don't like snuggly girl time."

He shook his head.  "No, I like women, I just can't find any that aren't brainless or political around here."

Buffy smiled.  "I'd offer my sister but she's taken now.  I have a whole lot of other slayers who'll only admire you for being pretty."

"He's got a Masters degree in Mathematics," Jack told her.  "He's smart too.  That's why we used to let him geek wrangle."

"I know three slayers in college who'd drool over you for both," she offered.

"Over age?" he asked.


"Maybe I'll let you introduce me sometime then."  She smiled at him.  He stood up.  "Let me go tell Rodney we have to get that file from Xander."  He walked off shaking his head but smiling.

"I don't get why girls go for him," she said.  "He's cute and all but I like guys who have experience."  She shrugged.  "Are you sure we have to get a medal?"

"Yes, Buffy."  He smiled.  "It'll be fine.  Dress up, be pretty, have a good lunch afterward."

"I could use a day to dress up and be pretty," she admitted.  "Who's getting one so I know who to drag to the mall?"  He handed over the list.  She looked.  "Dawn will have something but will dress up Sam.  I'll let her take him alone.  Or with Dean so they can gross him out by playing changing room games."  She sighed.  "I'll make Dean take Xander with Dawn and Sam."  She nodded at the rest.  "Okay, I'll take them to the mall.  Dress?  Dress pants?"

"Better than church clothes but not formal.  It'll be on tv so you need to make them look nice enough that no one will say anything."

She considered it.  "I can do that.  Keep Faith from the leather pants and all that."  Jack snickered.  "She does.  I do too but she looks better because she's more curvy than I am."

"You shouldn't have to worry about anyone attacking that day," Jack offered.  "So you can wear heels too."

She smiled.  "There's an art to wearing heels that you can fight in.  I learned very early on in Sunnydale how to do that and wear a skirt on patrol."

"You guys had patrol?"

"We have patrol now," she told him.  "Nightly patrol for the newly risen and any problems going on."

He nodded.  "That's reasonable."  He smiled.  "Good job if no one's said it."  She smiled back.  "Go do girl stuff so you have good clothes."  She nodded and left, going to take the local slayer shopping.  She wasn't getting a medal but they had to have more fashionable places here than they did in Cleveland.  Jack shook his head.  She was like a breath of cold air sometimes.  That airhead act of hers was really good but you could see the deeper woman underneath if you looked.  He hoped she survived for a long time.  Even his project was freaking out about a demon invasion.  Jon's swearing had went on for over three days about demon invasions.  If he kept being that huffy, he might move him and a team to the hellmouth to help out.  That way the slayers could hit on him too.


The day of the medals had come.  Xander had been dragged kicking and screaming into the circle Dawn was working on.  Dean too.  Dean tried to sneak off but Dawn froze him and Sam, taking the time to nag them.  Even if hunters didn't get attention because it was bad for their jobs, oh well!

Buffy came down, looking over them.  "Change," she ordered.  "All three of you guys."

Dawn sighed and compelled them to change under the fashion critical eye of Buffy.  They were all wearing underwear so it wouldn't be too embarrassing for them.  The girls got a look over.  Dawn fixed hair, did one girl's makeup for her, made one girl change out of her native clothes to something less crinkly sounding and that looked better on her coloring.  That one pouted but she still got to dress native, just not one that looked like a Miss Universe costume.

She came down, looking over everyone.  She adjusted Sam's tie, kissing the pout away.  She activated the transport circle, bringing them all.  Buffy had a firm hand on Xander and Dean both. She was happily distracting Sam's mind.  They pulled apart and she checked, fixing that one hairdo again.  She checked herself in her compact, then they were let into the chambers.

John Sheppard smiled at them.  "Welcome to Congress," he greeted.  He stood up.  "We're here to award some Medals of Honor to these people for their work during the last apocalypse battle."  Most of the senators clapped.  A few were pissed that they hadn't been able to destroy the Council and a few more were scared of them because of their religion.

Xander looked around at the sound of laughing, frowning some.  He looked at Dawn, who shrugged.  She made the spirit appear.  "Oh, hey, Cordy," he said quietly.  Everyone stared at her.  "She showed up to see."  He shrugged.  "My former girlfriend."  She snarled but started to nag him.  Dawn rendered her mute then smiled at him.  He grinned back.  "Thanks, Dawnie."

"Welcome, Xander."  She stepped forward when her name was called, taking the medal with a smile.  She stepped beside her sister.  They both stared at the three guys.  Dean was getting huffy and girlish.  Sam was sulking.  Dawn raised an eyebrow at him so he quit pouting so visibly.  She couldn't cure Dean's bad mood.  She'd leave that to Buffy.  Xander could still hear Cordelia nagging but he was ignoring her as he stepped up to get his medal.  Cordelia eventually faded out with a huff and a foot stomp.

After the ceremony, John caught up with the group out there.  "Xander, was that an ascended being?" he asked quietly, walking him off.

"The Powers ascended her as a messenger.  Usually she snarks to ruin my self esteem."  He shrugged a bit, looking sheepish.  "When we were dating I had a kissing incident with Willow and she got hurt."

"Uh-huh.  But she is ascended?"

"Yeah.  Daniel's talked to her once or twice when she nagged him that his sort of ascended was worthless and boring."

"Huh.  Okay.  Can we talk to her later?"

"No clue, dude.  She's the messenger for the Powers That Be.  Apparently this wasn't on their game plan so they're pissed again.  Mostly at me for surviving so long I guess.  I have no idea why this time."  Dawn gave his arm a hug, getting a smile back.  "Think you could get Cordy down to talk to them?  They know something about how she's higher up now."

"No clue," she admitted.  "Ask Willow."  John smiled, nodding a bit.  "Can we go have a pig-out at a nice restaurant?"

"Go ahead, kids.  Good work."  He clapped Xander on the shoulder.  They walked off chatting.  He pulled out his phone, turning around to call the base.  "Landry, John Sheppard.  Ask Willow about a Cordelia Chase, who is ascended," he said quietly.  He heard a noise and turned, blocking a blow from someone.  He put his phone back between blocks and kicked them backward.  Xander got another two down and grabbed that one to slam into a wall.  A few senators came out.  He shrugged.  "Xander just helped protect me.  Thank you, Xander."

"Puss suckers like these deserve it," he said dryly.  He walked off dusting himself off.  Buffy was scowling but oh well.  "I was closer," he defended.

"Still not a slayer, Xander."

He snorted.  "No, I'm the slayer trainer," he said dryly.  "Plus battle master."  She rolled her eyes.  "Dean, I know you're The Man and all that, can you put her into a better mood again?" he asked.  "Even if she can't keep you?"  He got into the other cab and let them drive off with that part of the group.

Dean snickered at her huff.  "I'd hate being nagged that way too, Buffy.  Being normal doesn't mean we don't fight the same way."

"Still sucks and some day he's going to get hurt again."

"We all get hurt.  That's called life."  He helped her into the cab and got in after her.  Sam was having his molars checked by Dawn, again.  "Guys, quit!"  They broke apart.  "Thank you!  I'm getting diabetes here."

Sam grinned.  "Jealous?"

"No.  I'm not ready to put a ring on it."

Buffy shrugged.  "It'd be nice to date instead of having an angel get you two drunk and hitched then into bed."

Dean nodded.  "Definitely creepy thoughts there."

"Just...don't make me an aunt, Dawn."

"Yes, dear," she sighed, looking at Sam.  "I'm going to the LA team for a few months.  Want to join me?"

"Dean would be lost without me."

"We could use Dean on the team too.  Gunn's injured again and Connor's pouty."

"Then sure," he said, looking at Dean.  "LA?"

"Sure," he decided.  He looked at Buffy.  "There goes Xander's plan."

She stared at him.  "They're not leaving until tonight," she said dryly.  He smirked but nodded.  "I wonder who those guys were."

"I'm sure it'll be on the news later," Dawn quipped.  "Probably praising Xander for helping save the VP again.  You'd almost think he's got a crush or something."

"He said he's not gay."

"Xander or the VP?" Dawn asked.

"The VP.  Xander I don't know.  Who knows what Xander got into in Africa."  She shrugged.  "Not like we care."

"True.  As long as he's happy."  They got to the restaurant, letting Sam pay since he had the wallet today.  They went inside and found the rest of them in a private room.  "Why did we get upgraded?" Dawn asked.  Sam held her chair for her, earning a smile.  Dean did the same for Buffy.

"The owner of the place is one of Clem's cousins," Xander said with a smile.

"Aww," Buffy said.  "I wonder how Clem is?"

"He's fine.  I played against him last night," Xander said.  She smiled at that.  "He said hi.  To look really pretty today.  The underground hopes that you get a good hunter out of this newfound press attention."

She shrugged.  "I'd take a good man even if he wasn't a hunter.  I can teach him how to hunt or how to be a watcher for me."

Dean nodded.  "Some day I'll feel the same way."  She smiled at him.  "I'm too young and pretty to settle down yet."

"Amen," Xander muttered.

"So, Xander, who did you hit on in Africa?" Dean asked him.  "The girls wanted to know if you switched batting teams."

Xander shrugged.  "I tried gay sex on my roadtrip after graduation."  Buffy choked, spluttering.  "Wasn't bad but it didn't really catch me as much.  I guess it's okay.  It's probably more a person by person thing.  Though the new girlfriend is slightly nicer."

"Than what?" Dawn asked.


Buffy shook her head.  "Is she near the girls?  Have we done a background check?"

"She's a friend of Illyria's."  They all stared at him in horror.  "She's being peaceful and she plays a mean hand of kitten poker too."

"Is she another god-king?" Dawn asked.  He nodded.  "Who?"


"How do you do that, dude?" Dean asked.  "So I can make sure I never get infected and neither do their future spawn."

"I don't know," Xander admitted.  "She's great in bed, cooks pretty nice.  Well, her servants cook pretty good.  She likes weapons."  Buffy moaned, shaking her head.  "It's cool.  The girls all think it's a bit freaky but nice."

"I want to meet her," Buffy ordered.

"Yes, dear."

"Thank you.  Willow will too."

"I babbled at her about it but she was lost in experiment land again."

"Never mind.  I'll tell her."  She put her napkin in her lap when their salads arrived.  "What did we order?"

"Clem's cousin is making us a huge pot roast and short ribs," Xander reminded her.

"Oh, yeah, that's why we had to order ahead."  She dug into the food, it was a good salad.  The other girls quit chatting and ate too.


Xander looked around as he was beamed into John Sheppard's office, looking around.  "Nice pictures.  Is that where your city used to be?"

"Yup.  Amonet?"

"Yeah."  He looked at him.  "Why?"

"Is she a gou'ald?"  He looked clueless.  "Glowing yellow eyes?  Freaky voice?  Snake symbiot?"

"Well....  Um..."  He considered it.  "Maybe?"

"That means she's probably not nice, Xander."

"I only date evil women and she's been very good to me.  Plus she's decent in bed.  Not as good as Anya was but she was over a millennia old so you know, practice and all that."

"Gou'ald tried to take over this world and make us slaves, kid."

"So far she's only got three servants enslaved.  She can't get me to knock her up anyway thanks to DNA warping."

"DNA warping?" he asked.

Xander sat down.  "Back in high school, we had a coach dosing our swim team with mermaid blood and things to make them faster in the water.  Then some changed so I went undercover on the team to see why.  They detoxed all of mine but Willow said I probably have some DNA warping."

"We can test that for you.  But you can't get her pregnant?"


"Good!"  He stared at him.  "She's still dangerous."

"But she gives such nice blowjobs, John."

"Tough, kid.  Really tough.  I'll let your friend Willow and Sam Carter come get her later.  We'll run your DNA at the same time to see a few things, okay?"

"As long as you don't turn into NID weenies."

"I'd have to kill myself if I turned into an NID person."

Xander grinned.  "Me too.  We have two locked in the basement and I was supposed to call the local office to come get them this morning."

"Carter can do that too."  Xander beamed.  "Good boy.  Let's get you home so they can come find her.  Before she takes over Cleveland."  He sent him back and called Carter's number in the lab to get her out of the mountain.  Willow was not happy and he heard the rant about how she needed to turn Xander gayer than she was.  Carter got her calmed down though.  Thankfully.


Dawn walked into LA's headquarters a few days later.  "Connor, Gunn, I'm here," she called.

Connor came out of a hallway.  "Dawn.  Were you followed?"

"Some angels decided I need more sex than Anya used to get off Xander so they married me to Sam, who is a demon hunter, and this is his brother Dean, who is a hunter as well."  She smiled.

"Angels too?" he asked.

Sam nodded.  "They were worried she might get upset and pull a Willow."

"Oh!  Okay.  As long as she doesn't do it here."

"Hell no, I'm not like that," she reminded him with a smirk.  "Buffy said hi."

"Cool.  Gunn's in his rooms complaining about stitches.  We've got patrol later."

"Got a map with the routes so we can familiarize ourselves?" Dean asked.  "We're here to pull our own weight, Connor."

"Sure," he decided.  "It's been a while since we were more than me and him."  He got him what he needed and left them alone.  Dawn went up to check on Gunn and fix the problems with his stitches.  Sam helped with the planning stuff.  Connor would see what sort of hunter they were later on he guessed.  Though it wasn't that bad right now.


"That small DNA taint must be how he avoided being pheromone bombed," Sam Carter decided.

"That or where he got possessed by the hyena matriarch," Willow said.  Sam stared at her.  "Before the swim team thing."

"I thought Daniel was bad at getting into trouble," Sam said, shaking her head quickly.  "I don't think a possession by a spirit would let him block that off, even by a female one.  I don't know how to test it though.  What did the DNA warping?"

"Mermaid."  She considered it.  "The rest of the swim team is in the Pacific somewhere and usually near the coast so they can pop out and eat someone."

"They're probably near the city then since they draw things like that," she decided, calling McKay.  "Have you found any strange sea creatures out there?"  She listened to him complain he wasn't a marine biologist.  "Because we have a queen gou'ald that didn't affect someone that had that particular sort of being's DNA warping."  She winced at the ranting.  "No, mermaid.  No, probably not pretty."

"Black, slimy, looked like a movie monster," Willow told her.

"No, nothing like Disney, no half human half fish thing."  She nodded.  "Scan for me and we'll be out to get a sample from one and see if the queen's pheromones affect it or not.  Thanks."  She hung up on the new complaining with a grin.  "Rodney's thrilled."

"Of course he is.  He's a man."  She shrugged.  "They all whine about things."  She looked at the stuff from the queen.  "We have her sweaty clothes.  She was sexing up Xander.  We can expose them to it and see what happens.  If it wasn't that, then it's probably the hyena possession or maybe he got possessed by something else in Africa."

"We can see," she decided.   She gathered things and got them to the city.  Rodney was still ranting but Radek smiled and greeted them.  John was there to watch and see what happened too.  Rodney managed to capture one of them for their simple tests.  Sam got a new slime and DNA sample while it was held.  Willow exposed it to the sweaty clothes.  They discovered that they still had human style penises.  The thing tried to jump Sam.  They got her free and Willow let it go free to find a cute tuna or whatever it wanted.   Sam calmed herself down.  "Okay, so it's not the mermaid taint," Sam decided.

Willow shrugged.  "You did Xander's DNA workup."

"I did.  So maybe it is possession by a female spirit."

"She was an alpha spirit," Willow reminded her.  "It might not be the same for those possessed by the lesser pack members.  I know where half of them are living.  The rest died at graduation."  She made all the samples were sealed.  Rodney snatched them.  "We're going to run them."

"I find myself needing a reason in case we get another queen gou'ald down here," he said dryly.  "They might come for me."

Sam shook her head.  "I don't know why, Rodney.  You're not exactly agreeable."

"Should've seen the alternate him we got that once," John quipped, earning a shudder from Willow.  "He was pretty nice."

"Mine wasn't.  She was a skanky, leather catsuit wearing, purring, nasty, and liked pain, vamp.  That's the last time I messed with temporal magic.  I learned my lesson."

Sam smiled at her.  "What were the others?"

"Xander was the one who turned me.  He was mean and liked to torture Angel.  Called him Puppy."  Sam's mouth fell open.  "The wishverse had Buffy not showing up before the Harvest.  Half the town got turned."

Sam shook her head quickly.  "I can't imagine Xander like that.  Or you."

"We can both be mean if we need to," she pointed out with a smile.  "Xander can turn downright cold since he got back from Africa.  We have no idea what happened but he's not as joking and prank playing or anything."

"Constant problems can do that to you.  I used to be nicer too," John admitted quietly.  Willow gave him a hug.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  She smiled.  "You did good.  They should've given you monthly twinkies for how good you did."  She and Sam walked off with Radek.

John smiled, shaking his head.  Willow wasn't the sort of normal woman he was used to but she was very strong.  He went to check on what Rodney was doing.  Before he got a bright idea and infected one of the lesser scientists with mermaid blood or something.


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