Notes: a lot of little bunnies went into this very demented piece of fiction. <G> the things I come up with when I'm offline for two weeks thanks to the holidays. Thanks to: Danyella, Josette, MM, Jaderose, Kat, Amanda, and a few others that I didn't get the name of when I saved down ideas.
Chocolate Freaks Are *So* Natural.
Xander was nibbling on his second piece of chocolate that night, smiling at the girls as they argued. It was usual girl stuff, but it was still amusing to watch. He took another bite and chewed.
"Xander, what are you eating?" Willow demanded.
"Candy bar," he said, waving it a bit before taking another bite. "I needed the energy to watch you two fuss."
"You need to eat better. All that chocolate can't be good for you and it's not nutritious," Willow complained. "You need to give up the chocolate and the twinkies and the soda."
"I eat well enough when I'm eating meals, Willow, and you're not my mother." She tried to snatch it but he held it above her head with an evil smirk. "Keep it up, watch me go tell the vamps about that present you just got Tara."
She growled and took the candy bar by magic but he plucked it back and ate the rest then put the wrapper in his pocket. "No more candy, Xander."
"Shut up, Willow. I'm not dating you and you're not my mother," he said through the mouthful. He swallowed. "There, better. Now I have the energy to patrol and watch Buffy's back while you nag her about her hair again." He stared her down. She huffed off.
"You probably should eat better, Xander," Buffy said.
"I eat very well when I'm having meals. I had to skip dinner because this big bad came early." She sighed, nodding that she understood. "Excuse me for needing food for energy after *working* all day."
"Fine." They went to set themselves up to face the demon later. Then Willow could nag Xander to eat real food before he got onto a bouncy sugar high and destroyed them all. He was a bit bouncy but just enough to keep up with the slaying tonight. She finally killed the demon and they all looked wiped. She looked at her crew. "Well, it's done." She pushed back her sweaty hair. "I say we go home, shower, and then collapse in bed."
Xander checked his watch. "I need to do that soon anyway," he agreed.
"You could come spend some friendy time with us," Willow suggested.
He gave her an odd look. "I have to work tomorrow, Willow. That means I have to be at the site at seven-thirty." She slumped. "It's almost two." She groaned. He pulled a granola bar out of his back pocket and offered it to Buffy. "You'll never make it home."
She took it to nibble on and he got one of his own out. "Thanks, Xander. Have a good day at work."
"You too. Happy classes." He walked off nibbling, staking the vampire that tried to run at the group on his way off.
Buffy nibbled, letting Willow have the other end for a bite.
"Why did he have chocolate chip granola bars?" she asked bitterly.
"Because he's a Xander and they're seriously chocolate freaks. Plus these taste better than the more healthy ones but are still a bit more healthy than a candy bar." She looked around. "C'mon, we'll head back to the college. I call first shower." They walked off while Buffy finished her treat, tossing out the wrapper when they walked past a trash can. "That mandatory overtime he's been pulling has been killing him. Even Anya's complained."
"I heard what she complained about."
Buffy gave her a shoulder nudge and a grin. "She complained about other things too, Wills."
"If you say so. I still think we should make Xander eat better."
"I'm sure he eats well enough all the time. I know when I stopped by at lunch to talk to him about tonight he was eating a few ham and cheese sandwiches."
She glared back at the way Xander had went. "He doesn't need all that. He's not a growing boy."
"Willow, he works really hard all day. He didn't get off work until nearly seven tonight and you heard him say that it was a twelve-hour day for him today if that's true." Willow slumped. "He burns it off. It's not like he's getting fat. He's gained more muscles. That t-shirt he was wearing used to be looser on him."
"Why the mom act all of a sudden?"
"It's always been my job to watch out for Xander."
"Well, now it's Anya's."
"She doesn't like him eating all that chocolate either. She said he gets too bouncy in bed," she said in a 'ha' voice, smirking at her logic.
Buffy stared at her. "Anya doesn't mind him being bouncy in bed unless he ignores the oral sex, Willow." She squeaked and blushed. "Really, that's not her problem with it. The last time she complained he had been so bouncy was because she got worn out. Finally." They kept walking, letting her consider it. "Let Xander do his own diet, Willow. He's a big boy and every kid has to leave the nest sometime. Besides, nagging like that is Anya's job now."
"Fine. Even if we do get a few demons who're more scared of him being bouncy like before."
"In hindsight I think that was kinda funny," she admitted. "It was amusing they were more scared of him than me because he was hyped on three pounds of chocolate." Willow shuddered. "It was finals, he needed it. He hadn't slept in days. Hell, I hadn't slept in days."
"Cramming isn't good for you and that's why your test scores were so low."
Buffy gave her a pointed look. "I think being out all night doing this stuff is why our test scores were so low, Willow," she said dryly. They walked onto the far edge of the campus. Of course, there were vampires wandering around looking for food so she got to finish cleaning them up for the night. "Eww, nail ash." She huffed but continued on their trek to the dorm. The shower was calling, she could hear it. Not literally of course because that would be *bad* and mean she was going telepathic again or something equally mentally straining for her. She grabbed her shower stuff, her flip flops, and her robe, heading down there to get clean and slayer fresh again. Willow came in to brush her teeth while she waited but Buffy was not hurrying tonight. There was no way. She was tired, sore, and her back hurt from the fight. Tonight's special sword of the moment had been too heavy.
Sam Winchester, wonderful little brother and demon hunter, walked back into their temporary home, handing his big brother his requested soda and ho-ho. "I saw something interesting."
"In this town?" he demanded, wincing as he shifted. "This town has nothing interesting. That's why it's Cleaver-ville, Sammy. There's no good clubs, no hookers, no good bars. What could you possibly find?" He opened his soda to take a drink.
"You mean beyond the fact that I saw three kids fighting a demon?" Dean nearly choked. Sam had to help him so he didn't have to move too far. Dean had seriously screwed up his leg. They were resting here until they could see the healer Bobby had sent them to. And possibly if Dean had to do some therapy for it so he didn't limp.
"Excuse me?" he demanded. "Are we sure?"
"One guy about your size. One tiny blonde girl, one redheaded girl casting magic at it. Tiny blonde girl had a huge sword. I work with the guy. I recognized him. He's the interior crew chief." Dean gave him a horrified look. "Demon was a big sucker, one of the funny looking ones." He sat down. "I also saw my coworker stake two vampires on the way home since I kinda followed him a bit."
"Damn. I never would've expected. This town seems...."
"Way too normal?" Sam agreed. "Yeah, I think maybe the town's undercover. I'll start some research on the local problem areas to see if I can help while you heal."
"They might like that." He took a drink of his soda. "Anything else you saw?"
"The redhead was nagging the boy about his eating habits. Apparently he's got a chocolate habit like you do."
"Wonderful!" He shifted again, swatting at Sam when he got up to shift the pillow he had his leg resting on. "Quit! Go fuss over something else."
"You're the only thing in here to fuss over, Dean."
"Then go masturbate or something, Sammy. Shoo! Go!"
"Fine. If you need anything yell. I'll be surfing the web in on my bed." He stared at him. "Don't try to do the shower tonight without help, Dean. We don't need to go back to the ER again when you fall. You hate being down and I get that, but each time you do stubborn stuff like that it makes it take longer until you heal." He smirked. "Or else I'll get that redhead girl to come nag you too." He went back to his room to look up the town online. He hadn't found anything before but he had only looked for somewhere near that healer that had a cheap cost of living and jobs, plus a hospital in case of emergency with Dean's leg. What he found amused him. He walked his laptop out, letting Dean see it. "We're sitting on the mystical version of a rubber drain plug into multiple hell dimensions," he said dryly. Dean moaned, reading it over. "I wonder if Bobby knew when he sent us here." He took his computer back to email him.
"Tell him I'm fine."
"I'll tell him you said that," he agreed, smirking where Dean couldn't see it. Dean hated to be down with an injury but that last possessed person had knocked him down and broken his thigh bone up near his hip. He was lucky he hadn't needed surgery to fix it. He hoped the healer that was going to see them next week would be able to finish healing it so they could get back onto the hunt for the one that had killed their mom and his girlfriend. He got an email with coordinates from his father and sent back one with their status but it bounced. "Shit, Dad." He sent that to Bobby too. Bobby could find their dad and beat him to death for them.
Xander looked up as the new guy sat across from him. "Hey, saw you last night," he said, chewing his present bite. "Fairly stupid, Winchester."
Sam leaned closer. "I do the same thing you do after hours, Harris." Xander stopped eating to stare at him. "My family has for years."
"What brought you to town?" he asked casually.
"My big brother broke his leg about five inches down from the hip joint." Xander winced. "There's a healer in town that one of us knew. Plus some therapy and healing time. It's cheap to live here but I had *no* idea until last night."
He ate a bite and chewed, shoving some food Sam's way. "It happens," he admitted. "The major problems you can cure with a stake."
"Good to know." He grinned. "Can you guys use some help? I'm used to hunting in the woods and stuff but it can't be that much different."
"You busy after work?"
"Nope. Just gotta cook for Dean."
"That's cool. Come with me later." Sam beamed and nodded. "Eat. It's going to be a long, hot afternoon."
"I know. Why was she nagging you?"
"I've known her since the first day of school and she kinda took some raising duties for me. Last night, I nearly spanked her like her mother should have," he said dryly, cracking Sam up. One of the other guys joined them in the shade under the tree. "Hey, Bill, have you met Winchester? He just joined the crew a few days back."
"Not yet. Hey." He waved and Sam waved back. "Anthony sent me to over to make sure you guys weren't making gay boy plans."
Xander snickered. "Anthony needs to get his head out of my pants because my girlfriend would be very pissed at that and I'll sic her on him if he keeps it up. I don't care how gay panicked he is, they do exist and they are everywhere, and even if he doesn't like seeing it happen they can get together. My friend Willow's a lesbian, dude."
"I'll tell him to mind his own business before you sic that loud girlfriend of yours on him. Thought you should know."
"Have him do it himself next time so I can kick his ass and suspend him." Bill smirked as he walked off. He looked at Sam. "Do you see a lot of them in more normal places?"
"Yeah but not as forceful."
"He went out last year to protest that the college had gay people. The lesbians drove him off before they killed him." Sam laughed. "Seriously. So, what do you guys hunt?"
"Mostly things that're causing problems. Spirits and those things. One that's a family vendetta. You guys?"
"There's a lot of vamps," he said quietly. "A whole lot of vamps."
"I did some digging last night. That drain stopper thing?" he asked since one of the other guys was nearby. Xander pointed at the school they were building. "Oh, tell me you're kidding," he begged.
Xander grinned. "Can't do that, Sam. Sorry. It was here for years when that explosion happened and now we're putting it back here. Right back under the library." Sam groaned. "Eat."
"Yes, sir." He dug in again. "How long have you lived here?"
"I was born up the street. I only managed to escape during a post-grad roadtrip. I made it to Oxnard and the car broke." Sam looked at him. "You?"
"I haven't had a steady home since I was six months old," he admitted. "We traveled a lot."
"Sorry to hear that."
"It's got its good points but not that many."
"I can see how that'd happen." He dug into the dessert portion of his lunch. Sam grinned. "I don't care what Willow thinks, I like me some chocolate. Even if a few years ago a few demons were very scared of me on a hyper kick. Buffy was not happy that they were more scared of me than her. She claimed I had Bad Idea syndrome that night too."
Sam grinned. "My brother has a chocolate habit too. I only caught you guys because I was out getting him a soda and something chocolatey so he could pout."
"Yes they do," Sam agreed. "Especially since Dean's never been one to sit still. We're *always* on the go until this happened."
"Huh. Sounds like it was interesting at least."
"We have met some very interesting people. Some nice ones too." He finished up and Xander offered him one of his candy bars. "No thanks. I will get bouncy and hyper and hit myself with the hammer." Xander giggled and finished up. Sam texted Dean's phone that he had an appointment after work then they went to get sucked back into rebuilding the foundations of the new high school. "Where?" he asked Xander, getting a point. "Wow."
"I know, it looks so normal." They got back to work and it was better. For now. Xander had texted Buffy while Sam was texting his brother so she'd be aware that there were more hunters locally.
Buffy looked up from her reading as Xander and Sam walked in. "Hey," she said with a wave.
He looked around. "I saw you last night, miss. Good work."
She smiled. "Way to suck up. Who are you?"
"Sam Winchester. My brother's got a broken thigh bone so we're local to have him see a touch healer."
"There's six or seven in town," she admitted. "You guys hunt what?"
"A lot of spirits, some creatures attacking people and farms. Generally we're traveling and it hits the news so we go handle it."
"Interesting. You sure you want to help?"
"Dean's driving me nuts and it only seems fair. We had no idea the town had this sort of problem when we got here."
She smirked. "Do your homework next time."
"To be honest I was only looking for somewhere that had jobs and a cheap cost of living so we could hole up while he was injured."
"We do have those thanks to the vamp problem," Xander agreed dryly. Anya came out of the office. "Anya, this is Sam Winchester."
She stared at him. "You must take after your mother. Your father's more broad and a pain in the ass."
He grinned. "Dean looks a lot more like him. You ran into our father?"
"He tried to get me in the butt with rock salt. It was highly impolite of him," she sniffed. "Why are you here?"
"Dean's injured. There's a healer Bobby sent us to."
"Hmmph." She looked at Xander. "Is it going to be another long night or should I bother to order?"
He looked at Buffy. "Just the usual patrol, Anya," she told her.
"Good." She looked at Sam. "I descended."
"I hear that can suck. Which one were you?"
She smirked evilly. "Anyanka."
"Dad swore about missing you for weeks." She cackled and gave him a short hug then bounced off again.
Xander looked at him. "My girlfriend and why Anthony wants to leave me alone about him thinking I'm gay."
"Again?" Anya demanded, coming out of the back with a box.
"Yup, sent Bill over to tell me to quit hitting on Sam. I told Bill I was going to sic you on him again and then kick his butt before suspending him."
She smirked. "I could work up a few good vengeance spells since he likes that gay club down on Hallcrest. I hear they have fun there. We should go."
"Anya, I have you. I don't need to go to a gay club," he said patiently.
"I'd like to watch," she complained.
"Then take your buddy Hallie and go," he whined back. "I'm not going with you." She huffed but went to stock. Buffy was snickering. "Anyway." He looked at Sam. "The local vamps are almost all one type. Stake, behead, or holy water."
"I can do that. Dad taught us knife fighting."
"Cool. Buffy, want me to take him or you?"
"You can. Take the two west cemeteries. There's only rising out that way but there's a few crypts that don't look as dead as they should." He nodded, grabbing stuff for them and heading out. She looked at Anya. "His family are good hunters or bad hunters?"
"They're fairly good. They do some bad things to make ends meet now and then but a lot of hunters do. They aren't kill them all sorts by any means."
"That's good. I was worried when Xander said there were hunters in town. Sam was kinda cute."
"Dean's cuter and shorter," she told her. "Sam's gigantic. Maybe Xander and he will become friends. Xander could use more male friends who don't nag him. Or try to dress him and things." She went back to her stocking. "Is there another bad demon coming?"
"There always is but it doesn't seem to be coming soon." She stood up. "If Giles asks, I'm heading for the north cemeteries and then back to the campus because I've got a test tomorrow."
"Have fun." She watched her leave, then pouted. The Winchesters were here and she couldn't even get their daddy back for trying to shoot her in the butt with rock salt. It might've hurt her having sex. She should pout at him.
A demon came running at Buffy and she stopped herself and Sam from harming it. "It's a peaceful one usually and it looks like it was crying," she said. He had been on patrols with them for about a week now. She still had yet to meet this mysterious brother but that was okay. Men weren't that big on her list of likes at the moment anyway. She stopped the demon from moving past them, making it look at her. "Is it an attack?"
"The Great Wozaataran died," he sobbed. "His realm is without a true prince because the last one gave up his title to become human again." He sniffled. "Things will start going wrong!" he sobbed. "They run some of the greater, safer, and more fun realms that help all of us and you humans." He blinked his eyes at her. "Make the heir come back?"
"If I knew who this heir was I might talk to him. Is he local?"
"No. He's somewhere warm that the people of the realm would melt in." He looked at Sam then at her. "There must be an heir. He was one of the last great Lords."
"Then there's probably an illegitimate son somewhere," Sam offered. The demon blinked at him then hugged him before running off to suggest that. People had offered their sons to him all the time! Maybe one would do! "That was really strange," Sam told her with a grin.
"Now and then the little problems are more important, Sam. I like to help where I can with the harmless ones." She started walking again and he followed. "Any idea who this Wombat Lord guy is?"
"Um, no. I can check online later, make sure it won't be a problem coming our way."
"Thanks," she said with a grin. "That'll save Willow to have some smoochie time with her honey." Sam just grinned back. "So, how's the fussy brother?"
"Cranky. The healer moved the healing along by a few weeks but he's nowhere near ready to start rebuilding the muscle he's losing sitting on his butt on the couch." She hummed. "Think I could bring him down tomorrow night so he can quit nagging? He and Xander should get along okay."
"We've got research tomorrow anyway. Some new master vampy vamp moving into town."
"Cool. Thanks, Buffy." She grinned back. "He'll be happy to get out of the house." He staked a vampire running their way and she got the other two. "They're awfully quiet tonight."
"Maybe the Great Lord Wombat or whoever is upsetting them too." She shrugged. "No idea." He laughed a bit, shaking his head. "We'll have to see. Either that or they're having a party tonight." She shrugged and they kept going.
Dean limped in the next night, leaning on his crutches. He nodded at the girls around his brother. Which was unfair. Dean was the one who got all the chicks, not Sammy. He sat down with a sigh and a chair was pushed over by the only other young guy in the room. "Thanks, dude."
"Welcome. You must be Sam's mythical brother Dean?" he joked with a grin.
"And then some," he smirked back. "Got anything I can do while I'm hopping along?"
"There's stuff to research," Buffy offered. "We heard last night a Great Lord Wormzar or something died."
Sam coughed. "Wozaataran."
"Whatever." She flicked a hand in the air. "We ran into one who's from a peaceful clan that was crying about him drying. Said things might happen."
"I can look into that." Sam let him see what he had found. "What's his people do?"
"Apparently they're the Givers of Pleasures of the Body. For some reason I don't think it's sexual gratification but I have no idea what other ones they might be talking about." He patted Dean on the shoulder. "We've got patrol later, Buffy?"
"As always," she sighed, looking around. "Hey, Spike? Coming with or not?" she called. "Xan?" she asked him.
"Staying in. I wrenched my shoulder last night." She gave him a glare. "What? Not my fault I was trying to catch Spike before he tripped over the magical vampire trap." She moaned and shuddered. "Find whoever's doing that. Please?"
"Gladly. Any ideas?" she asked Willow.
"Not a clue." Spike came up out of the basement. "Are you going on patrol tonight or staying in to help research?"
"And do you know anything about Lord Wozaataran?" Sam asked.
"He's the Pleasure Master," he said with an evil smirk. "His kind invent all sorts of guilty pleasures to tempt others with. He died?" Buffy nodded. "Huh. Must've starved or something since he was immortal."
"What sort of guilty pleasures?" Dean asked.
"Who're you?" he asked.
"Sammy's my little brother. I'm in on injury time."
"That's Dean," Sam told him. "Dean, this is Spike. He's a master vampire who helps the team here so he can get in his carnage and blood fix." Dean gave him the oddest look. "It works for them."
"I'm sure it does." He looked at Buffy. "You're a stronger girl than I am."
She smirked. "You'd make a horrible girl anyway, Dean. My skirts would ride up really high on your butt."
He burst out laughing, holding his thigh but nodded. "Very true. Thanks."
She beamed back. "You're welcome. Spike, coming or staying?"
"I'm headed to Willie's for a poker game. Not much going on tonight if he died last night. There'll be a memorial sometime soon near the Music Note." He walked off shaking his head. He'd miss the old codger. He was always good to Dru when she had one of her episodes. She always wanted to nibble on him but he never minded and only grinned at her for it.
"I'll stay and help Dean," Xander offered. "Shoo, go." Willow gave him a pout. "Don't start. You haven't seen your girlfriend in weeks." She hurried off. Buffy and Sam tried to hide their smiles but failed totally as they headed out together. He grinned at Dean, pushing over a book. "This is the only reference I've found so far."
Dean looked it over then nodded. "Interesting." He looked up some of those facts, finding a few new things. "It's food sort of pleasures. His kind created chocolate?" Xander moaned, shaking his head. "Hell, maybe I'll go to the memorial."
"Me too." They shared a grin and Xander offered him some of his M&M's then they got back to work.
Anya stomped in. "Another Winchester? Can I get this one back for nearly making it so I couldn't have orgasms?" she demanded of her boyfriend.
"No, Anya. That was their father, not them," he said, grinning at her. "Besides, it didn't stop it, Ahn. Otherwise you'd never get any." She pouted at Dean, who was staring at her in horror. "This is Anya. She descended when her power center got broken."
"Um, hi," he said. "You're Anyanka, aren't you?" She smirked and nodded, looking pleased to be remembered. "I'll tell Dad to leave you alone, that you got humaned. That way he doesn't try to hunt you down now, Anya." She beamed and gave him a kiss before going to the register.
Xander looked at him then at her. "Good thing I'm not the jealous sort."
"You could put him between us," she offered. "You might like that."
"Anya, my butthole is staying tight and virgin. No matter how much you might like it to be otherwise," he said impatiently. "Change the topic. Dean's a normal."
"Fine." She looked at them. "Want to buy something, Dean?"
"Maybe later. It depends on if we can find what a few other hunters might need for research stuff." She bounced and clapped then went to get him a list so he could send it on. "Dude, you're made of stronger stuff than I am," he said quietly. "Don't you worry about her getting her powers back?"
Xander grinned back. "If she does, I'm already probably going to be dead."
"Probably," he agreed.
"Then again I'm not like that so she shouldn't." He shrugged. "We've been working on normal girl things." He went back to his reading.
"Dad will *not* believe this," he muttered, going back to his online searching. Xander just grinned at him. "I'll put out that she's human now so they won't come to bother her."
"Thanks. Hate to have to help Buffy smack them down."
"Good point." He shook his head quickly, sending that email to Bobby. Anya came back with a catalog list, letting him scan it in with Sammy's portable hand-wand scanner that was in the computer bag. He thought it was an excessive geek toy but apparently it had some uses. Dad was going to freak out so long and hard he might start to make sense and be less paranoid for a bit. Because this town had nothing but stranger shit than they usually saw.
Xander looked up from his newspaper reading at lunch a few days later. "We're free of patrol tonight," he told Sam with a grin. "The girls are going shopping."
"They won't make us go, right?"
"No, but the look on your face looks a lot like you ate raw rhubarb, Sam," he said dryly.
"Even my ex didn't make me shop with her. I let her surprise me."
"I've been the slayer shopping pack mule many times," Xander said, trying for prosaic but ending up on tired instead. "So, anyway, we're free. I thought we should make your sulky brother feel better. Maybe bring up some movies?"
"We don't have a VCR or anything but I can see renting one."
"I'll bring over my combo machine." Sam beamed and nodded. "You pick up the snacks and let it be a surprise. I'll get some action, shoot-em up movies?"
"He likes action and comedy."
"I have plenty. He can choose." Sam gave him a punch on the arm, going to get his lunch out of the family car while Xander went back to his reading. Xander could nibble his lunchtime snickers bar while he read his paper under his tree.
"You're going to turn diabetic if you keep eating all that sugar," one guy told him.
Xander looked over, finishing his current bite. "I feel better after chocolate than I do after a whole meal full of real food and any other dessert. But I'll keep that in mind." He ate another bite and went back to his reading. His guys had some funny, odd notions now and then.
Sam joined him, looking at the paper. "Anything good going on locally?"
"The high school's math team is going out of town for a competition. The JV and Varsity cheerleaders both won a competition last weekend. We were perkier than the other teams I guess." He grinned at him. "One of the used car dealers got in trouble with the IRS so they're having a mega-sale to cover the tax debt. The city pool won't be open this year because it needs fixed too badly." He went back to reading. "The editorial cartoon makes little sense because it's about something that happened months ago." He let him see that one. "Today's Garfield is kinda cute though. It's cute that Jon's finally dating. It gives all geeks hope."
"It is." He started to eat. He only had so long on his break. "You feel better after chocolate than you do real food?"
"Yup. Don't know why but I always have." He finished off his candy bar and put the wrapper in Sam's lunch bag. He finished the paper and went to hand it back to the head boss, then went back to his shady spot. He had been working on the outer walls in direct sunlight so he needed some shady time. "How's your team doing?"
"Not too bad. We've taken a lot more water breaks than you guys have."
"I know. We'll have more this afternoon since it's getting so hot. About every half an hour we'll take a whole five to put on sunscreen and gulp water." He finished his and put the bottle into Sam's bag too, then went to find his sunscreen. "Guys, it's going to breach the magical three digit limit this afternoon," he announced. "The temp from my dashboard has it at a stunning ninety-eight right now. Remember some sunscreen and we'll be taking a lot of water breaks." They smiled and went to do as ordered. He looked at the head boss. "How many more weeks before we can start doing interior work?"
"Probably at least two. We'll have it all summer long."
"Good. It's already miserable." That got a nod. He checked his watch. "Ten more, guys." They finished up and went back to work. His set his watch to remind him to take breaks and to give them, then dove back into constructing outer walls fo the school.
Sam leaned around the door that night with a wicked grin. "You up for a surprise?"
"You got me a hooker so I don't have to use my hand?" he asked.
"No!" He walked in and Xander followed. Sam hooked up the machine while Xander handed over the box. Then Sam went to get the food and sodas.
Dean looked in the box and nearly sniffled. "Thanks, Xander." He grinned. "I needed a guy moment."
"It's quiet tonight so the girls are shopping." He settled on the couch at the end of his stretched out leg. "Is it hurting less?"
"Little bit but I'm still getting some cramps and it's driving me nuts." He dug into the box, grinning at what had been brought for his viewing pleasure. He smelled a pizza cooking when Sam came out of the kitchen. He was a happy hunting boy. He beamed at them, handing Xander a movie. He put it in and they settled in to watch it. Nibbling was only natural during movie nights. Even when something exploded outside, Xander only sighed and went to open the window so he could use the crossbow Sam found him. The thing shrieked in misery as it became no more. "Cool." Xander came back in the window and handed off the crossbow, going back to the movie night with the guys. He needed more nights like this too since he was sighing in pleasure about the lack of corsets.
Sam gave him a grin. "Jess did that to me too, Xander."
"I got it from both of them. Stupid girl movies," he complained. "Oooh, I want that gun."
"I'd like one that never ran out of bullets that way," Dean agreed. He grinned at the kid. He looked so much younger, even though he was Sammy's age. "Maybe some day one of us will get one."
"Maybe. Willow might be able to charm one that way if she gets over her dislike of guns."
"Maybe," Sam agreed. Dean gave him an odd look. "Willow's a really strong witch, Dean."
"Uh-huh. How would she do that?"
Xander shrugged. "She makes her own spells all the time. Now and then she goofs, but mostly she's fine."
Dean resisted the urge to bang his head on the couch, just getting a smirk from Sam. He gave him the 'have we told anyone' look. Sam gave him a very slight nod back. So it was covered in case something happened. Dean shifted then moaned, holding his leg. Xander paused the movie, shifting to help rub out the cramp. "Oh, damn, pain."
"I know. Give it a second, Dean." The cramp finally eased and it was better. "Need help?"
"I was going to get more comfortable."
"Here, lay on your side, with a pillow between your legs," Xander ordered, shifting things for him. Dean curled up and suddenly his butt wasn't numb anymore. "Better?"
"A lot, thanks. I can even eat."
"I've got a straw," Sam said, going to get him one for his soda. Then they went back to the movie. Dean was comfortable. Xander was half-asleep from his comfy spot. Sam got up to get Dean a throw to cover him with since he had goosebumps. Xander got one too since he was now fully asleep. Dean and he shared a grin and went back to the movies. It was great to have a little bit of downtime from the hunting.
Willow decided she had to do something about Xander's eating habits. They weren't good for him. They were really horrible for him. They were going to make him sick some day soon and then what would they do on patrol? So she decided to work on it with a bit of spell work. A binding wouldn't *really* hurt him, right? It wasn't a lot of magic, it wasn't a lot of problems for her to have to get past. Just a simple binding so he never touched chocolate again. Or at least until his diet evened out.
The demons gathered at the memorial looked at the scroll with the wishes of the late Great Lord Wozaataran. Finally, the temporary leader of his kingdom walked up to it and weighed it in his hand before unrolling it and turning to look at the waiting people. "It is his wish that the one he adopted known as Lavetella be so honored as to follow him," he announced, handing it over to the waiting hunters. "This one has imbibed from the spring and is truly one of us. He has a mark on his back in the shape of a small shield as a birthmark. Our lord saw ahead and said in the future, if we did not save him soon enough, he would only have one eye but at this moment in time he still probably has two."
Everyone nodded, the hunters bowing before heading off. "Be gentle. It says his parents never told him he was adopted into our people's greatness." He looked at them. "Until then, things will run as they always have under me." They bowed to him and left, leaving him to look at the remains of his former boss and friend. "Why did you quit eating from the sacred chocolate spring, Todd? It's not right that you already went." He went to talk to the actual heir, the one who had given it up. He had to agree to not want it back ceremonially for the new prince to take over the throne. Plus it would help the new one's transition in case he was distressingly common.
Sam looked over when he heard a thump a few days later. "Boss!" he shouted, hurrying over to check Xander over. His pulse was weak, he looked pale and shaky. What he had thought had been the flu wasn't. "What's wrong with you?" he muttered. The head boss came jogging when his boss yelled. "Get an ambulance. His pulse is fairly weak. I know he's had the flu recently." They called one and he waited, calling Willow's phone as they pulled in. "It's Sam. Xander just collapsed at work." He looked at the paramedics. "He's to go to Hillcrest?" They nodded. "Rosenburg said so."
"We know who he is," one of them said quietly. They loaded him, looking at Sam.
"We're friends." He hung up on Willow.
"Go," his boss ordered.
Sam nodded, tossing him his hat and tool belt so he could go with Xander. The ambulance was fairly quick taking them to what had to be a demon hospital. The doctor that rushed out looked like a giant, walking bug. Unless Sunnydale was in Wonderland, this had to be a demon hospital. "He collapsed at work," he told the bug, getting a nod. "He seemed to have flu-like symptoms for the last few days. I know he's off his diet. I haven't seen him eat a single piece of chocolate or a soda in the last few days. He actually ate a salad."
"We will check him over. Do we know what type of being he is?" the bug asked in an accent that sounded faintly Chinese.
"As far as I know he's human but Willow Rosenburg said to bring him in."
The doctor looked at the boy then at him. "What is this one's name?"
"Ah. Yes, we do have a pact with the slayer because the human hospital is pitiful. Come, you can wait beside him." She led him back to the room they had wheeled Xander into. The others working on him let Sam sit up by his head. "This one said that his diet has changed drastically in the last two days. This is Harris, on the slayer's team. He has not had soda or chocolate in a few days. He actually ate a salad. He's had flu-like symptoms."
"Harris not eating chocolate?" one asked, grimacing his mandibles. "That's odd." He looked around. "Is there a magic sensor available?" he called. One came jogging in. "This is Harris. He actually ate a salad."
"That's unnatural." She laid a hand on his chest, growling. "Rosenburg bound him from eating bad things." She looked at Sam, who shrugged. "Get her and bring her here."
"Is that why he passed out? He said he's always felt more full and better eating chocolate than he has regular meals."
She frowned, sensing him again. "He drank from the spring," she announced. They moved to start a different IV dripping. "Bring the stupid one here please. And the slayer. I will explain this to her."
"Agreed." He left, jogging to the Magic Box. He found Anya inside. "The hospital needs Buffy and Willow *right now*, Anya. Where are they?"
"Buffy should be in class. What happened?"
"That thing he thought was the flu? Was Willow binding him away from chocolate and things."
She snorted. "That wouldn't make him pass out unless he was actually a breed of demon, Sam."
"The nurse or magic sensor person, whatever they're called, said something about drinking from a spring?" She went pale and had to clutch the counter for support. "They want them there immediately and one was growling."
"I'll get them. You go back to guard him." Sam nodded, heading back while she called Buffy. "Xander's at Hillcrest. He collapsed at work. They want you and Willow there immediately, Buffy. The nurse said he drank from the spring so whatever she did against his bad diet is killing him. I will get her back for that if she doesn't remove it." She hung up and called Giles. "It's me. Xander collapsed and he's at Hillcrest. I'm heading out now." She hung up and closed the shop on her way over there. She found the nurse chewing Willow a new one. "He drank from the holy spring of Wozaataran?" she asked. The nurse nodded. "How? He's human by all that I could tell."
"We do not know, Anya," the nurse noted. "All we know is that he does show some signs of adoption by their people. That is why he feels better eating chocolate than he does real food." That got a nod. "Then this one bound him from eating it. He nearly starved to death. That's what killed their lord and master in under a week. A very painful death, Rosenburg. You will remove it. Immediately."
"Or else I get to start casting curses for trying to kill my pookie," Anya said grimly. She was waved into a room by Sam so she walked that way. "Good, they started an infusion with the feeding tube." She leaned down to kiss his forehead. "If you knew about that, you should have told me, dumbass. I would have made you more chocolate and not thrown out your twinkies." She looked at Sam. "How is your brother's leg? Not that I care a whole lot but it's polite to ask."
"He's getting better. Xander and I arranged to bring over you guys' dvd player and some movies the other night for him. He was so happy he nearly danced."
"Good. I know he likes doing those sort of things for others." Buffy and Willow walked in together. "Do you need us to move so you can undo whatever evil spell to kill my pookie this is?"
"I just wanted him to be healthy."
"If he drank from their sacred spring, then chocolate is like water for normal humans," Anya told her. "Even if he does need some protein and things because he was only partially adopted into the clan's structure for *some* reason, which is probably his parents' doing somehow, he needs the chocolate and sugar more than anything else. Except maybe the caffeine to make him quit bouncing so much."
"Fine." She undid the binding and the boy on the bed relaxed, letting the chocolate infusion going on help him.
Anya tested his forehead. "He's still warm," she called.
"Chocolate will keep you warm," Buffy pointed out. "That's why no one eats as much when it's warm weather." She looked at Anya. "Will he be okay if they straighten this out?"
"He should be. We'll have to see." Buffy nodded at that. "We can only hope that no serious, permanent damage was done to him in those three long days."
"Ease off," Willow pouted.
Anya glared. "No one asked you to cast a binding, Willow. Quit it!"
"Fine." She huffed off.
Sam growled. Buffy gave him a pat on the arm. "Does she always do things like this? Magic people without asking and things?"
"We're working on her magic problems," Buffy admitted quietly.
Sam made Buffy look at him. "If someone like our dad hears about this, Buffy, there won't be a problem past a bonfire. Witches who act against others' well being are hunted." She went pale. He nodded. Anya nodded too. "I'm not going to tell about this one, but you need to point this out to her. Stress it even."
"She was nearly burned at the stake. That should be enough for anyone." She grimaced. "I'll tell her, Sam. Thank you for not turning her in this time."
"I like Xander as a buddy, Buffy. I know she's important to him." She nodded. A nurse came in to check on him. "Should someone get him things to wear or is he being checked out later?"
"He'll be here for at least two days," she told him. Sam nodded at that. Anya went to get him something to wear and some soda to sneak in. "The witch?"
"Removed it and left to sulk," Buffy said. "She thought she was being all helpy and momish. They're kinda like that with each other now and then." Sam gave her an odd look. "He does nag her."
"She forgot a stake last time," he agreed. Buffy smiled. "I'll stay out of it, Buffy. It's not my business."
"No, it's cool. I'd nag about that too." She looked at the nurse. "How much chocolate should he eat?"
"At least a cup a day. Until he's better at least two." She nodded. "They can take many forms, including sauces over meat dishes. We have a good magazine from their people that have many interesting ways to put it into other food dishes." She handed it over. "I know your mother cooks and would worry."
"Oh, she's going to fuss," she agreed dryly. "When can she come fuss?"
"Later tonight. After dinner." Buffy nodded, going to tell her that and give her the magazine. "Are you staying?"
"Until Anya gets back. That way he doesn't wake up alone."
"That's a good friend. Are you on the local team?"
"My brother and I are here while he's being treated for a broken leg. Once I found out the town was so overrun, I did jump in since our family are hunters." She gave him a confused look so he grinned and held out a hand. "Sam Winchester. Dean broke his thigh bone."
She shook it limply. "Is he seeing someone here? Usually we'd hear when your sort come to town."
"He's seeing a healer at the clinic downtown by the First National Bank."
"Ah, I know of her. She's decent at it. I hope he feels better."
"I conform to local rules and Dean's helping research and stuff," he offered with a gentle grin.
"Good. That's something that will calm down the paranoid ones." She left to let that be known. If they were friends, Harris had quite a strong guardian in that one. She found the doctor over the ER. "Did you recognize Mr. Harris' hovering friend?"
"Why would I have?"
"His father once tried to shoot you for over stitching his leg." The doctor turned purple, which was a species trait with him. "That's Samuel Winchester hovering over him. He said they're in town to visit Magdaline over his brother Dean's broken thigh bone."
"Interesting. I'll let it be known."
"He's been hunting with the slayer. He just told her he was going to stay out of the argument coming up with Rosenburg. That he conforms to local standards."
"Even better!" He went to tell the head of the demon hospital. They could tell the other important demons in town. It might be time for a good, long vacation. The slayer would appreciate that too he was sure.
Sam walked back onto the site before the end of the day. "Xander's going to be down for about three days."
"All the candy catching up to him?" the head boss joked.
"Actually, he hasn't been able to eat any in three days and the lack was making him that sick." They all stared. He nodded. "So they're keeping him for a few days then they'll give him a few days of bed rest probably. His friend Buffy promised her mom could fuss later."
"Good to know. Do you have his excuse from the hospital?" Sam handed it over with a grin. "I'll file this with our insurance. I thought it was odd he was eating a salad."
"His buddy Willow made him."
"Ah. Nagging female friends. Probably wanted him to go a health kick and eat tofu too," he sighed, shaking his head. "Okay. Are you going to be sitting with him tomorrow?"
"No, sir. I can be back at work tomorrow. Anya, his girlfriend, is going to be hovering over him tomorrow to nag."
He smirked. "I'm sure she'll be asked to be more quiet by the nurses since she's rather loud. Good job, Winchester. Head home for the day." Sam nodded, heading home. He walked over to talk to the other crew chiefs. "Xander will be back in a few days. That Willow girl, the redhead I think, made him eat healthy and it screwed up his body. Winchester said the lack of chocolate was what made him pass out." One of them looked confused. "Don't ask me, Harris *always* eats chocolate. He's at Hillcrest they said." They nodded. "Few days in, a few days at home so he'll be back early next week." They nodded again. "Don, take over his team for now?"
"I can do that. Let me tell them so they can fuss over him too, boss. Thanks." He went to where Xander's crew was working. "Guys, got news on Xander." They stopped to look at him. "Clean up since it's end of the day." They did that and gathered around him. "He's at Hillcrest. He'll be back early next week. The big boss got told it was because that redheaded friend of his nagged him into eating healthy. He hadn't had chocolate in a few days and apparently his body didn't like that."
One of the guys frowned. "I thought I saw him eating a salad."
"Apparently she nagged." He shrugged. "He'll be back early next week and they're only keeping him for a few days. So if you want to visit, head there instead of General."
"I thought Xander was normal," one said quietly.
"Hillcrest is the better hospital," another said. "It has doctors that won't kill you. Since Harris' nighttime activities means he knows about that stuff, he probably goes there because he knows they won't kill him." That got a nod from that first guy but one was still scowling. "What about Winchester?"
"He's fine. He went with him to tell his other friends and his girlfriend. He's the one who brought us news. I heard the boss say that Xander's girlfriend could hover now so he'll be back on shift tomorrow." They all nodded at that. "Until Xander's back, you're my crew. Got it?" They all nodded. "Good. Head home, guys." They left talking about what Hillcrest was for those who didn't know.
A few had no idea that Xander wasn't a normal human. They'd have to pass that on so the ones hunting the new heir knew to test him.
Xander woke up to a glowy figure above him. "Brain damage?" he asked it.
She muted her aura. "Sorry, I was reading your magical signature." She smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"What happened? I feel ok so why am I here?"
"It seems your friend Miss Rosenburg bound you from eating sweets for a bit."
"I knew I complained about the salad for some reason," he said dryly.
She laughed. "With the ones that adopted you, you have to eat so much chocolate a day, Mr. Harris. It keeps you from starving to death. You're very lucky you lasted that long without dying. Quite a few of them can't last three days."
"Hold on, adopted?"
She put the chart against her chest, crossing her arms over it. "Did you hear about the Lord Wozaataran dying?"
"I did. I don't know who he is. Sam found him somewhere and said his people created a great pleasure."
"Hmm. His people invented chocolate among other things. His people also need it to live. For them it's as necessary as humans needing water is." Xander gave her a confused look. "It appears that sometime when you were very young, you were adopted by a member of his people. Part of that is drinking from the sacred spring. Which means that your body also has that same need."
"So that's why I feel more full eating a snickers bar than I do after Thanksgiving dinner?"
"Indeed." He just nodded once. "Now, with you not having any for three days, that's like a human body not eating at all for three weeks. You were literally about to starve to death." He shuddered but nodded. "You're a very strong young man."
"It's not always nice being me. How long am I here for?"
"At least tonight, possibly tomorrow to make sure that you're healing all right." He relaxed. "Your friend the slayer has been up here already. Her mother said she'd come back in a little while with cookies or something for you. For reference, you should be having about a cup of chocolate a day for health reasons. However you want to do that." She patted him on the head. "Relax. The cable here is very nice. Even if it is mostly demon stations."
"Anya gets one of those on our cable package so she can watch a demon soap. It has a lot better plot line than some of the human ones. I can't stand them and that one actually seems interesting."
She smiled. "Which one?"
He growled the name. "The one with the wench who just chopped up her last boyfriend and ate him because she was unfaithful to him but she didn't want him to know so now he's egg food and the black mage who just necromancied the town's mayor into a zombie so she could get her business license back."
"My daughter watches that one." She smiled. "It does have some interesting characters." She patted him again. "Want something to drink?"
"We are still a hospital, Mr. Harris. Diet, caffeine free only unless someone sneaks you in some."
"Shoot. I guess that's fine." She went to get him some. He knew Anya would sneak him in some. "Did you tell them about the adoption thing?" he asked when she came back with his drink. She nodded. "Did they have a fit?"
"No. Your girlfriend was a bit upset that you didn't tell her."
"If I had known, I would have."
"I think she got that point in the ER. It should be fine or we'll toss them out the window for you." He grinned. "One of our guards wants to see if the slayer's skirts fly up when she dives out a window. He's still wondering why human women wear panties." He laughed. "Good boy. You drink and rest. I'll be back in a few hours." She left him alone to surf the tv and rest. His friends were quite hyper and would be bouncing around his room later. He'd need the rest to tell them to quit fussing over him. He was that sort of boy.
Dean was helped out of the impala, balancing on his crutches. He looked at the building. "Are you sure this is the right place, Sammy?"
"Yup, sure am. The ER's right there," he said with a point. He parked the car then came back to walk Dean inside, nodding at the guards who looked wary. "We're not going to harm anyone unless they make us," he offered.
"That's fine. The slayer is up there too." He got the elevator. "We do have wheelchairs if it would make him wince less."
"Can't stand the iron chairs," Dean admitted. "Thanks though, dude."
"You are most welcome. We pride ourselves on being a very good hospital." He watched them head up. He'd have to tell his cousins that he had met the fearsome Winchester siblings and hadn't been slain for it. They seemed nice if they weren't hunting you.
Dean hopped into Xander's room. Sam got Anya out of the chair for him, letting him sit with a sigh of relief. "Long hop up the hallway. Thanks, Anya."
"You're welcome I guess." Xander shifted so she could sit beside him on the bed. "He'll be fine. You didn't have to come and visit."
"Buddies do that stuff," Sam told her. She looked confused. "It's a human thing, like visiting a sick friend."
"I don't understand that. I'd never do that because they might make me sick too."
"It's all right," Xander told her, giving her a pat on the knee. "Hey, guys. Sam, are you really freaked out by that adoption thing?"
"Nope." He shrugged. "I figure you probably didn't have a say since you clearly didn't know. It's not like you're going to turn into Godzilla, right?"
"Nope," he said with a grin. "Maybe Willie Wonka....."
"They based that story loosely on Wozaataran's early life," Anya told him with a smile.
"Really?" She nodded. "Wow. That's interesting. So are Oompa Loompas real?" Xander asked.
"They're like house elves in Harry Potter. They're based on a type of demon but they're not seen very often."
"For some reason that makes *so* much sense," Dean admitted, getting a grin from the couple on the bed. "So, how long are you stuck for, Xander?"
"Probably tomorrow according to the nurse. Just to make sure I'm okay. I need to eat a cup of chocolate somehow every day. Joyce told me that she has some good recipes, including for mole sauce."
"Which is a good way to sneak chocolate," Sam agreed. "Dean did that a lot when Dad wouldn't let him have any chocolate." Dean nodded. "Until Dad found out what was in it then he made us quit eating Mexican food." Anya rolled her eyes. "He could be like that now and then." The nurse peeked in. "You can come check on him."
"I wanted to make sure you two aren't stressing him out." They shook their heads. "Good boys." She looked at Dean. "Do you need to visit our ER? You look like you're in pain, young man."
"I'm seeing a healer down by the bank," he admitted. "Thanks anyway."
"Magdaline?" Xander nodded. "Hmph. Let me call her to tell her you're in obvious pain today." She went to do that. She came up to drag down to the ER so she could check him over. He shouldn't be in that sort of pain at the moment. A few other healers came over to learn how to work on hunters and humans. They didn't get much work with pure humans around there and some were trainee healers. Which made Dean feel odd but oh well.
Sam grinned at Xander. "They seem like a really good hospital."
"They are. That's why we go here," Xander agreed. "General sucks."
"I've seen that." He handed over a book he had stopped to get on the way home. "The new action hero movie in book form."
"Thanks, Sam. I needed something to do tonight." He grinned, letting Anya see it.
"Now we don't have to buy it for you," she said, smiling at him. "Thank you for saving him the seven dollars and tax, Sam."
"Welcome," he said. He looked at Xander. "Need anything else?"
"Nah. I'll be fine. Joyce and Buffy will be back in about an hour. She went to get me more soda." That got a nod. "You're not antsy being in here, right?"
"Nope. So far they've all been very decent beings. As long as nothing's attacking someone or anything we won't be. It's a bit odd, but we've probably seen worse." Xander grinned at that. "Relax."
Anya huffed, getting up. "You shouldn't have oral sex yet, Xander. Even if it would help you nap."
"I don't need that sort of relaxation, Anya, but thanks for offering," he said with a grin. "You can go help Giles if you want. I know you hate waiting around." She nodded, giving him a kiss before leaving. He looked at Sam. "She's learning human things."
"She's doing pretty good with it," he agreed, getting a more relaxed boy. "Even if she's slightly insane....." Xander laughed, nodding some. Dean limped back in. "Here, have the chair, Dean. Better?"
"They pushed the healing ahead by a bit more and she stuck a needle in my thigh so I can't feel it anymore." He sat down, rubbing the muscles to work the medicine through them. "They have trainee healers. Like student docs."
"That makes sense. Someone has to train them." He grinned at Xander. Buffy and Joyce peeked in then walked in carrying a soda for Xander and a plastic-wrap covered plate. "Hey, guys."
"Hi, Sam. Mom, this is Sam and his big brother Dean, who are both hunters but Dean kinda broke his leg. They didn't realize Sunnydale had demons until they saw us on patrol one night."
She smiled. "Must be shocking for you."
"We deal with a lot of spirit manifestations," Sam told her with a grin.
"That's not something we get a lot of around here."
"I've been helping on patrol while Dean's been helping some research stuff when he can get out of the house," Sam offered.
"Good boys." She kissed them both on the cheek and made Xander eat real food for dinner. Even if she had snuck the chocolate into recipes she had never thought of.
"These mint chocolate chips go *really* well with the stuffing," Xander said with a grin, giving her a one-armed hug. He inhaled dinner and Joyce gave him cookies, and Dean one too. "Thanks, Joyce."
"You're welcome, Xander. No Anya?"
"She hates waiting around," he said with a small shrug. "She's back at the store probably."
"Hmm." She smoothed down his hair. "You be a good boy while you're here and I'll see you when you get out?"
"Of course." He grinned. "I know very well Buffy won't let me go nap on *my* couch."
"Nope," Buffy agreed. "No one to supervise you if you get sick." She looked at Dean. "You can come nag him that day and help him sharpen swords. That's what he usually does when Mom puts him on the couch."
"I know how to do knives and machetes but I've never sharpened a sword. I can try if your mom wants."
"That'd be fine, Dean." She patted him on the head with a smile. "It'll help because Xander won't nap until they're all done." Xander nodded at that. "You boys rest. Dean, are you all right?"
"Broken thigh bone."
"Ow." She hissed. "Medicine to kill the pain at least?"
"The healer just gave me something in my thigh so I can't feel my whole leg." He grinned. "It's kinda freaky. They have trainee healers that came over to learn how to work on humans on my leg."
"Good. They need it in case they have to work on one of the team the next time." She patted Sam on the cheek. "You can come over for post-patrol snacks sometimes too, Sam." She left with Buffy, who left the soda as an after thought.
Xander opened it and gulped. "Hmm, caffeine." Dean grinned. "Sorry, they don't let me have any unless someone sneaks me in some."
"I can understand that," Dean agreed. Someone in a chestplate walked in carrying something. "Oh, please don't be harmful."
"I am on the testing panel." He bowed to them. "We were told you were adopted into our people?"
Xander shrugged. "So they tell me. I have no idea."
"Hmm." He laid a hand on his head. "You are well adopted in. Do you have any birth marks?"
"Don't know. Never really looked for any. Hey, nurse?" he called. She walked in. "He wanted to know if I had any birth marks."
"He has one splotchy thing on his back."
"Hmm." He looked at him. "I will tell the search and hunt panel of this so you can be further tested." He bowed then left. The one who had informed them would get a reward if this one was a finalist.
"Huh?" Xander asked her.
"When Lord Wozaataran died, he left a scroll saying his heir was an adopted one with a shield birthmark on his back, Mr. Harris."
"Oh. But it's not me."
"Probably not," she agreed with a smile. "But they have to check."
"I get that."
"Is this one a known demon lord already?" Sam asked. "Maybe I can look them up online to see if they're known about?"
"The scroll said his name is Lavetella. That's all any of us know."
"Sounds like a female name," Dean said.
"Naming conventions vary by species," she said firmly. "In my own species, your name would be feminine, Dean."
He gave her a horrified look. "That's just weird."
She smirked. "To us all you humans are." She patted Xander on the head. "Watch your blood pressure and make the unholy caffeine last all night since you won't get any more until new people visit," she ordered, leaving them alone.
Dean pulled something out of his jacket pocket and tossed it at Xander, getting an evil smirk for the can of Mountain Dew. "Gotta have it when you need it, dude. But that's still weird."
"No, weird is my middle name is Lavelle," he said quietly. He looked at the hall. "If so, I'm thinking Cuba is really pretty?"
"Should be," Dean agreed. "We know a few guys down toward Texas that have boats." Xander beamed at them. He stood up. "Okay, let me hop home. Sammy can come visit you tomorrow to see if you can get out. Then we'll go sharpen swords?"
"Sure, I'd like that," Xander agreed with a grin. "I never get to do things with guys. Giles doesn't hang out and I wanted to slug Buffy's last boyfriend so we never hung."
"Why?" Sam asked.
"He was an amoral schmuck who tortured demons and then turned on his former military unit." He took a drink of his soda. They stared at him. He nodded. "Yeah, so we didn't hang. It'll be nice to hang with a guy again instead of girls."
Dean grinned. "Gotcha on that point, Xander. I'll see you tomorrow, dude." He patted his foot on his way past the end of the bed.
"Call if you need things," Sam told him with a grin. He followed Dean to the elevator, getting on with him and the tiny, orange, furry creature in there. He nodded politely at them before turning to face the door. He grinned at Dean. "It is nice to get to know people as friends again."
"It is," Dean agreed. "This break's been good but I still want my thigh to heal faster. I hate sitting on my ass."
"So find one of those 'work from home' things and do it," Sam suggested. "It'll only help us save up for when we're not here."
"I might," he decided. They got off the elevator and headed out to the car. Dean did feel better. Sam gave him a look when he didn't wait. "I'm getting better."
"Good. Then you can get back to annoying me more often," he teased. He opened the drivers door and got in, reaching over to unlock the other side for Dean. He slid in, letting the crutches lean against his shoulder once he was buckled up. "Did you want me to pick up dinner on the way home?"
"Please. I'm not cooking tonight. I'm starting to feel like the wife."
"Pizza, burgers, or Mexican?"
"Mexican. Been a while." Sam took them to the good Mexican place in town, going in to order for them so they could head home to watch a few more of Xander's movies. They did appreciate and like the guy a lot. He was a neat guy. Clearly being warped by the girls but pretty neat. Dean called their father once they had eaten. "Hey, Dad, it's us. My thigh's doing better. Sammy's still doing good on patrols out here. Not been vamped yet. One of the local team passed out at work so he's at the local demon hospital. Apparently it's a better place than the human one. We went to visit. It's really calm and they're really polite. No one panicked, no one was attacking anyone, they were all real nice to us. When the nurse saw I was in some pain from hopping up the hallway to visit she got the healer I'm seeing to their ER to look me over. She used it to train a few trainee healers they had on staff since they don't see too many humans."
"The nurse got pushy and made him go," Sam said next to the phone. "She didn't want to see him in pain. Plus she explained stuff to us when we had a question."
"She did," Dean agreed, giving his head a shove with a grin. "They're really nice and efficient and it's cleaner than some hospitals we've seen over the years. Anyway, he'll be fine and they moved the healing a bit further along on my thigh. She gave me orders about how to rebuild starting in about a month. Sammy's doing good on his job at the construction company. We think I might start looking into one of those 'work from home' things so I have something to do all day instead of soaps that make me want to claw my eyes out."
"Xander said one of the demon soaps is a lot better. Has good story lines, characters he can stand, and he hates regular soaps. He was scratching when one guy was talking about his wife's addiction to Days of Our Lives last week," Sam told him.
"Yeah. They have the usual subplots like 'she cheated on me' but they also have magic workers doing bad things and some good ones, some temporal magic here and there, pranks out the butt by one character. All sorts of species of demons on it. He said he's learned more about demons from it than he has from years of research."
"Huh." He went back to his message. "Apparently Sammy and Xander have found a manly soap opera from the demon networks. Anyway, we're still in Sunnydale and fine, Dad. Call us if you want to talk to us. Night." He hung up. "I never would've imagined Xander as a guy who watched soaps."
"He said it was better than most action movies these days." He found the demon channels on their cable and found one of the others was on. "This one isn't his but it's still supposed to be pretty good. Xander recommended it to that one guy's wife. Anya apparently likes it. Said it reminds her of when she did her job. A character's even a vengeance demon."
Dean gave him a confused look but he did watch the first few minutes. It was even sucking him in. "Dude, no way!" he shouted at one thing. "It doesn't work that way!"
"Maybe for them it does. All tv shows have some suspension of disbelief." The character on tv told the original one it wasn't going to work. "See?" Dean threw a balled up napkin at him. Sam grinned. Dean Winchester - big, bad, macho hunter - was watching soaps. He could almost cackle at that. He did look up that strange name for the heir of the chocolate lord's kingdom. It was strange that Xander had a similar middle name. Then again, they had seen odd things happen around Xander all too often and the girls told him all sorts of stories about Xander doing the improbable. Sam looked at the tv. "Xander nearly got eaten by one of those in tenth grade," he told Dean. Dean gave him a horrified look. "She had eaten the original teacher and was gathering virgins to fertilize her eggs. Buffy told me." He grinned and went back to searching.
"Yup. She changed into a giant praying mantis." He smirked at his big brother. "He dated a reanimated Incan mummy too. She was having to kill to keep alive but she couldn't kill Xander when he stepped between her and Buffy to save her."
"Does Xander have some sort of strange power to change the laws of probability or something? Because I'm thinking things like that only happen *here*."
"They apparently do." He smirked. "Xander apparently likes doing the improbable. Like dating a former vengeance demon."
Dean shook his head quickly. "That's just strange and wrong on so many levels. He didn't know she was a mummy?"
"No, he said she looked like every other foreign exchange student that had just gotten in."
Dean stared at him, just blinking. "Cute joke," he said finally with a grin. Sam shook his head. "No?"
"Nope. Sorry." He smirked.
"Damn! The boy needs more male friends."
"Yup, he could use them," Sam agreed.
Dean moaned, laying down to get comfortable while he finished watching this show. It was a really good action show with some mushy stuff he could ignore. "Wonder if they created that character based on that incident?"
Sam watched for a few minutes. "If so I'll tell Xander and let him sue them." He sent Willow an email. She sent back an 'I know but we can't prove it's only happened to him' answer. "Willow said she can't prove it didn't happen to others."
"Uh-huh." Sam checked the listings for the upcoming shows, going to Xander's. "This is his?"
"Yup, sure is." Dean got another drink and laid down again, watching this one. It was a bit more mushy stuff but it was full of magic users doing bad things to each other. Dean shook his head and whimpered halfway through. So Sam turned it to a demon channel that was rerunning the A-Team for him. That made him a happier hunter. Even if one of the guys was hitting on a woman in a bar. Sammy went back to his email. Bobby was amused that demons had cable channels of their own and soaps. Sam found him the info and what Xander had said he had learned off the soaps. Bobby groaned but said he might tell one of the female hunters to check it out for him. He didn't do soaps and Dean's injury was clearly rotting his mind.
Their father listened to the voicemail then looked at the woman behind the bar. "My boys are now insane with this injury leave."
"They're in Sunnydale." She gave him a horrified look. "Sammy went looking for something near the healer that Bobby sent 'em to that had open jobs and cheap rent."
"Yeah, but they also have a very high death rate."
"Sammy found out why and joined the local patrol out that way."
"Good! Are they still alive and well?"
"Apparently. One of the guys Sammy goes patrolling with just ended up at the demon hospital. The human one is apparently bad so they took him there. Dean went to visit and said they're nice, polite, cleaner than some we've seen." She nodded slowly. "One of the nurses caught him being in pain from the broken leg and called his healer to their ER, where she moved his healing a bit ahead and used him to teach some student healers."
"Good, I guess."
"They also have demon cable networks?"
"Apparently. They were talking about some soap opera on one of them that the guy in the hospital had learned more from than years of research."
"Uh-huh. I had no idea demons were that organized. Yeah, some harmless things living in hidden clans, but cable networks?"
He sipped his beer. "So they said. But they did assure me they were alive and fine. Dean's going to be able to start physical rehab for his leg in about a month now."
"Good! Then they can move somewhere more sane," Ellen agreed.
He shrugged. "I don't know why they have a patrol there."
"Oooh, you never heard about the hellmouth?" He slowly shook his head, putting down his mug of beer. "Ah. Well, it's like this," she said, leaning on the bar. "Ash found it somehow. There's a merged spot between realms there that's kinda thin. It draws demons and power to it. It's a fairly bad town. A lot of death and destruction happens there, but no one seems to realize it because he said when he checked it out, everyone was in denial."
"Was this before or after he started to drink?" he asked.
"Before. This is why he drinks." John shuddered. Ash was a full-blown alcoholic computer whiz. "Now, there's a small complication to the demons wandering around out there. Apparently there's a group in Britain who have a mystically chosen female warrior. She's sent there to weed it down. This one, from the rumors he's heard, broke tradition to have friends to help her patrol. She's tiny, blonde, someone Dean would probably drool on even though she can bench press him." John shifted on his stool.
"Exactly. So Sammy's probably fallen in with her patrol group if he's patrolling out there. A witch, another hunter, that warrior, I heard a few of the harmless sorts helped her now and then. That this one was very respectful of the harmless ones, didn't hunt them at all. Now, it's also said a few years back that they had to stop a demon turning into a pure demon out there during a graduation. I don't know how they got into that situation but the rest of us heard it as a gas explosion. Ash somehow knew someone there."
"So Sammy's probably in good hands and Dean can probably butt in if he needs to?"
"Probably. He also said that the power out there was bad enough that it hid *everything*. There's all sorts of artifacts and things out there hidden by the power that's leaking through and drawn there."
"So there's plenty of evil to hunt."
"There's no way they could clean it out in a full lifetime without closing that weak spot," she told him. "Ash was thinking hard about suggesting that hunters go in, raze the town, take out the artifacts, and then escape to safety to let it rebuild for the next generation."
"Huh." He sipped his beer. "Any other bad news?"
"The power can drive some of the harmless ones nuts," Ash said as he sat on John's free side. Ellen gave him his usual beer. "But that also lets a lot of them hide in plain sight out there because *no* one notices anything. You can be standing next to one of the funny looking demons and they ignore you." He took a drink. "Why are we talking about the hellmouth in the open?"
"Bobby sent Dean to a healer out there," he told him.
Ash nearly spit his beer. "Are they okay? Do we need to go rescue 'em?"
"Sammy's hooked up with the local demon patrol. One of that team is in the demon hospital after collapsing at work earlier. They said it's better and nicer than some human ones they've been in when they went to visit him. That everyone was very polite to them, answered questions and all that."
"Sounds about like Hillcrest." He took a drink. "Which healer was he seeing?"
"Ah, her clinic. She's a good healer. Hillcrest is a nice hospital. When I was out there, I landed there after that really bad fight I got into. They were very nice to me." He took another drink. "Any other news?"
"Demons have cable networks?"
"Yeah. There's whole planes of demons, Winchester. They have to amuse themselves since eighty percent or so are harmless. There's demon artists. There's plays, languages, whole things like that. The cable networks probably come from one of the more advanced realms. Some are like caveman days but not all of them live off the Flinstones. Some have fantastic cities from what I've heard."
"Huh. So they'll probably be fine?"
"If they're hooked in with the current slayer, they'll be fine."
"Good. Dean won't be able to start rehab for his leg for about a month."
"Get them out of there before spring, Winchester. Spring is always apocalypse season and they take it literally out there." He walked off with his beer, going to try to play some darts.
"Apocalypse season?" Ellen asked him.
John shrugged. "Sounds bad." He sent a text message to his sons, getting one back from an unknown number that rambled through two complete text messages but apparently they did. He let Ellen see them. The last one ended on 'Sammy and Dean are fine, daddy'. "Figure it was one of the hunting team?"
"Probably. Even when Dean's stoned he won't call you daddy."
He smirked. "No, he won't." He finished his beer. "Maybe I will go that way to check on the boys."
"Be careful if you do."
"I'm always careful, Ellen." He paid for his beers. "Thanks. Buy Ash a round too." He left, going out to his truck and the motel that was very nearby. Not that he had more than the one beer, but he didn't want to be pulled over anyway.
Ellen got Ash another beer, bringing it over to him. "Anything John should absolutely bring when he goes to check on his boys?" she asked him.
"Holy water and stakes. Most of the ones out there you can stake." She nodded, going to make sure he knew that. He took another drink, trying to drown out the memories for another night.
Xander woke up the next morning still in the hospital. The food was slightly better than he had been told hospital food was. Marginally. The nurse gave him a look when he turned the puppy eyes of doom on her. "It could be seaweed," she offered. He ate the bland stuff without a protest. "Good boy. We even included some chocolate in the muffins." She checked him over then gave him a pat on the head before leaving him to choke down his bland scrambled eggs and watery fried potatoes. She was very aware Xander had hidden that can of Mountain Dew until this morning.
She saw it when his monitors said his heart rate went up. "Not so fast, Harris," she called. He slowed down the chugging of his sacred goddess. "Better." She made note of it on his diet sheet and checked back in an hour to take the tray from him. The muffins were gone. The potatoes were still there. Where the eggs had been had some pepper still floating in it. "Good enough." She carried it off, letting him lounge until his doctor got there for rounds.
Xander saw someone talking in the hall and heard his name. He nearly tensed up but he knew it wouldn't be bad here. The hospital had non-violence spells on it. So when the guy with the sword walked in he was fairly surprised. "How did you get that in here when the slayer couldn't even get a stake?"
"I was granted an exemption." He looked the boy over. "Who are you?"
"Beyond that, what is your full name?"
"Why? I know very well names have power. My best friend is a witch, dude."
The warrior stared at him. "I am not going to use it to harm you."
"Don't care. Names still have power." He stared him down. "By the way, I should mention that I do help the slayer and the witch around here."
The demon nodded. "That's good to know. It means you're not easy."
"He won't hurt you," the nurse called.
"Then get his sword out of my room before I have to react," Xander called back. "I'm going to be paranoid about him anyway but weapons makes me itch for one of my own."
She huffed but came in to take the sword and walked off with it, no matter how much the warrior tried to get it back from her. The warrior sneered at Xander. "That is not my only means of attacking."
"Mine either but now we're on a more equal footing," he said dryly, finishing his soda. The warrior reached for him and Xander used his empty can to bop him on the forehead, making him scream and back up when the force to crush the can hurt him. "Now, why did you need to know who I am?"
The nurse came in with a huff, taking the can. "I have no idea."
"He walked in here with a sword and demanded to know my full name. Ain't no way," he said dryly.
"Good. That shows brains. Security!" They came rushing in to get the warrior. "Hand him back his sword once he's outside please?" She scowled at Xander. "Anti-violence charms, Mr. Harris."
"Which I clearly didn't break because it didn't keep me from crushing that can on his head."
"Good point. I'll have someone check on those to make sure they cover humans."
"Make sure there's an out for self-defense? Like husbands who don't like what gender their new kids are?" He pointed at the news special running about a father doing that in the human world.
She stared then at him. "If one of them tried that, the matron on the bearing floor would kill them and eat their parts," she said honestly. "Even the Great Ones are scared of her." She went to check with security about the anti-violence charms. Did it not cover hunters? If so, they had a major gap to fill in.
Xander settled back to start flipping channels again. That had been freaky. With his luck it was the hospital's accounting department and they had come up to settle the bill with him or something.
Xander woke up somewhere strange. He had no idea how he had gotten here. He had no idea where here was. At least he knew who *he* was, that was always something. He heard a groan and looked to his left, nudging Dean carefully. "Gently. Sam's using you as a teddy bear."
"Where are we?" he asked, licking his dry lips.
Xander shrugged. "I just woke up too. How's your leg?"
"Sore as shit, dude." He sat up, which woke up Sam. "We have no clue."
Sam looked around then at them. "Anyone think the room is done up for a princess?"
"Yeah," Dean agreed. Xander gave him a confused look. "Storybook princesses have rooms like this. We had an english teacher that tortured us with them because they were her favorite thing to read." He shifted and winced. "I hope like hell someone brought my pain medicine with us or else I get to kill and eat them."
"Then let's see if we're alone," Sam decided.
"Not a good idea, Sammy," Dean ordered.
"Lay down, Dean," Xander ordered. He stood up and cleared his throat. "Get the hell in here!" he bellowed, making Sam give him an appreciative look. He shrugged. "Had to yell a few times in the past. Two people came running. "What the hell is going on? Why are we here? Did someone bring Dean's pain medicine since he's got a broken leg and this is hurting him a lot, and I want answers now," he snarled.
"Our Lord chose well when he chose you to follow him, Great One."
Xander gave him a confused look. "What?" he demanded.
"You are the chosen heir of Wozaataran." He bowed, keeping Xander's eyes in sight. He knew this one had a temper by the way he summoned them.
"Okay, first of all, we're all demon hunters," Sam said. "Secondly, he's human, not demonic."
"He was adopted," the second demon said. He looked at Dean. "Let us get our healers. They may have taken your medicine. They did take most things so we could make you clothes to suit your new husband." He ran off to do that.
"What?" Xander demanded. "Guys, I like girls and I'm not an adopted demon that anyone's ever told me."
"The chocolate thing, Xander," Sam said quietly.
"Sorry, I'm confused when I wake up." He rubbed over his face with his hands. "Anya's going to be throwing fits." He looked at Dean. "If she kills me for this, make sure Willow doesn't get her back?"
"Not an issue. She can't do anything since we were kidnaped."
"You don't know Anya," he said dryly. He looked over as one of the minions came in. "Did you think about telling my girlfriend anything?" he asked dryly.
"Why would we? It's unseemly to have something like that."
Xander quirked an eyebrow up. "I like girls. Only girls."
The demon snorted. "You'll soon learn to be pleased with your new husbands."
"Only like girls too, dude," Dean said dryly, waving a hand. "This situation is only making me want to find my shotgun."
Sam cleared his throat. "Even if Xander is the heir you're looking for, we're only friends with him. Neither my brother nor I want to be more than that with him. No matter who says what. For that matter I'm still mourning my last girlfriend and we're hunting the demon that took out our mother and my last girlfriend. We're not suitable to be more than his friends."
"Way to be a wordy geek, Sammy," Dean said dryly.
"Shut up, Dean."
Xander looked at the minions that came in to help the first. "Guys, I don't think I'm the heir you want. I can't run anything but my construction crew." They laughed. "Honestly."
"You ran a battle," one reminded him.
Xander nodded. "I know that. I remember it quite well. It's still not the same as running real things." He stared at that one. "Point two. These two are brothers and my friends. I don't dig guys that way so we're not going to be getting with the hot monkey sex. Point three, my ex is a former vengeance demon looking for her powers to come back. This'll do that and then you'll have to hunt another heir because she'll kill my ass."
"She is lesser but semi-worthy," one told him. "We can explain it to her. You must stay up here."
Xander stared at him. "I have things in my apartment and life that I like. Plus the slayer needs me."
"Their father is coming to help her."
"Dad's going to kill you all," Dean assured him. "If we don't. That hurts," he growled. The demon glared back.
"Dean's been seeing a touch healer about that break," Sam said impatiently. "He needs his medicine to help it heal."
"We can get a healer up to look him over," the demon assured him firmly. "That one has been making slow yet steady progress. We can move it along farther since you're all here."
"She said you had to go slow on human injuries," Dean told him.
The demon stared at him then pointed at Sam. "As he is tainted, so are you, Dean. Not the same way or for the same reason but you carry your own taint. That is enough to get around that once you're somewhere easier to work healing spells. Our healers are excellent. I'll have one summoned to you later today, Princess."
"Whoa! Not a princess," Dean complained. "Even if I l wanted to bend Xander over night and day I'd still never be a princess."
"It's a formal title. Sometimes they make no sense," the demon assured him then strolled off. "The rest of your things will be up in a few hours, Lord Lavetella."
"My name is Xander," he said firmly, glaring at the demon. That got a flinch from them. "Am I clear?" They nodded. "Good." They ran off, leaving them alone. He sighed, looking at the brothers. "I'm sorry whatever draws strange things around me grabbed you two this time too."
"Chill," Dean said, waving a hand. "As long as I'm not a princess we'll help you solve this one, Xander. This is wrong on so many levels."
"Dad would be throwing a fit," Sam said. "We need to warn Buffy he's coming."
"Oooh, yeah. She'll kick his ass and then he'll sulk for months that a tiny blonde thing did it to him."
Xander looked around, finding his things first. "Phone?" he suggested, finding his. "I have signal bars." He tossed it to Sam. "Screw roaming at the moment."
Sam grinned, dialing Joyce's phone. She was usually reasonable. "Joyce, Sam Winchester. Me, Dean, and Xander are all off realm. They think Dean and I are princesses and Xander's a demon lord. By the way, fair warning that our father is going to be storming into town soon. He's very gruff and he'll sulk if Buffy beats him too badly. We have no idea how long it'll be before we get back. Can you make sure all our stuff is all right? Especially the Impala? Thanks, Joyce. He's fine, pacing and looking pissed." He handed Xander the phone.
"Joyce, I'm okay." He sighed. "I have no idea but they consider me liking girls to be about like me liking sheep. Yeah, she's gonna throw a fit. Well, they'll need a new heir," he said dryly. "They think I want to marry Dean and Sam too. Even though they're straight, yeah. Thanks, Joyce. I have *no* clue!" he sighed, sitting down to hold his forehead. "I don't know how these things happen to me. The only thing I heard was that I was adopted as a little kid by them. So clearly this one was my parents' fault somehow. Yeah, you can nag her. Go for it. I know it's your favorite downtime activity. Thanks, Joyce, and can you maybe make sure Anya doesn't sell my stuff too?" He beamed. "Even better. Thanks." He hung up and looked at them. "If your car's still there she'll move it to her driveway. Buffy will get your stuff for you and mine too. Fortunately she's got a basement."
"That'll work. Sammy, find ours to warn Dad?"
He went to find their stuff, finding it in another dressing room. Both their phones were charging. He found his was good enough so brought it out. "Hey, Dad, it's us. We're not in Sunnydale. We're on some demon realm. So far we're all right but they want us to marry Xander, who they said is their new prince and Dean's a princess. So far we're okay and working on it. Get with Buffy Summer's mom, Dad. She'll have whatever stuff is left." He hung up and called Bobby, getting his voicemail. "Wish you were home. We're not on the same plane as you right now. We're on Lord Wozaataran's realm since they think Xander's their new prince and Dean and I are supposed to be his husbands. Warn Dad to talk to Buffy Summers and her mom. She's usually found at the college or the Magic Box. Her mom's going to store our stuff for us, especially the Impala if it's still there. We'll try to check in but try to keep Dad calm, okay? Please? They're getting a healer to move Dean's thigh further along. We're okay so far, just calm down and try to keep Dad from destroying things. They haven't hurt us." He hung up, looking at Dean. "Any idea where he might be?"
"Ellen's?" he guessed. "He could've been out in the salvage yard. Who knows." He shifted and groaned, holding his leg.
Xander went to search his stuff, coming out with a smirk. "My field kit." He handed it over, letting Dean dig through it for something for his thigh.
"Dude, we don't carry a kit this stocked," Dean said in awe.
"Until we heard about Hillcrest, we had to do our own stitches and things," Xander told him. He looked at himself. "Someone clearly redressed me since I don't own pajamas like this." He looked at them. "Let me shower and dress. You guys handle Dean's thigh then do the same?" They nodded it was a good first step for the day. Xander found the palatial bathroom, whistling. It echoed. "I might get used to this."
Sam looked over his shoulder. "Yeah, I could get used to a sunken pool to bathe in and a multi-head shower too."
Dean hopped over, looking at it. "Wow."
"Anyone see a toilet?" Xander asked. Sam pointed at a door. Xander opened it then blushed and closed it. "Looks like a nursery." He went to find the toilet. It was in another room, all by itself with a sink, and had automatic fans. "That's nice." He came out drying his hands on a towel. "All yours." He went to try out that shower. If this was sin, he'd enjoy it.
Anya looked up as Joyce walked into the Magic Box. "The chocolate fairies came to steal my Xander. I woke up and he was gone. Most of his stuff too." She pouted. "They didn't even tell me."
"He just called me to get the Winchester boys' things for them since they took them too. Xander said they weren't too fond of him having a girlfriend."
She sulked. "Gay little fairy bastards," she muttered.
"Be nicer," Joyce told her. She nodded, still sulking. "Xander said I could move the rest of his stuff to the basement too, but we're to expect the boys' father to show up soon."
"Good, then I can get him back for shooting me in the butt with rock salt and nearly making it so I can't get orgasms, even if Xander isn't here anymore to give them to me."
Joyce patted her on the shoulder. "I'm sure he'd deserve it, Anya. He said he'll try to resolve this issue so they can get back soon but he's not sure how long it'll take."
"Forever and ever. They become immortal. Pain in my butt," she muttered.
Joyce gave her a hug. "It'll be fine. Warn Buffy and them for me?" She nodded. "Thank you, Anya. I'll come get his stuff tonight."
"Fine. Can't I have a few things? People will want them."
"No. Xander said to not let you sell anything of his."
"Shoot. How can I make money off losing my orgasms if he's being all noble and stuff?"
"I don't know, dear." Anya stomped off to sulk worse.
Joyce called her daughter. "Come to the Magic Box. We have a small issue." She hung up and looked around town. It was quiet recently. That was good she supposed. The boys' father might be worried but she knew strange things happened in Sunnydale, especially around Xander.
John Winchester found the girl he had found the profile for online. She was chatting with some redhead girl and another blonde girl. He walked over, trying to look casual. "Miss Summers, can I have a moment please?" he requested.
She looked up at him. "Anya's right, Dean looks a lot more like you than Sam does."
"You do know my boys?" She nodded with a slight grin. "Where are they?"
"The chocolate demon lord guys took them and Xander two nights ago because they decided Xander was their new king and your boys were going to be his husbands. You might wanna watch out for Anya pouting too. She's kinda still mad that you got her with rock salt that time."
He stared for a moment. "Would you have more information than that on either topic?"
"Anya was rehumaned," Willow told him. She smiled. "Hi, Willow Rosenburg."
"I've heard about you," he said blandly. She squeaked and ducked down some.
"Sam said he wasn't going to tell you about the fighting stuff," Buffy said, starting to scowl.
"He didn't say a word about her, Miss Summers. She's got a known reputation. A few witches warned me about her." Willow shrank down further, sitting down with a groan.
"We're working on it," Buffy said firmly.
"That's all up to you," he assured her. "I'm not here for her. I'm here to find out what happened to my sons."
"Wozaataran died," Buffy said. "He's apparently one of the last great demon lords and supposed to be pretty nice. Spike said he even put up with Dru in her batty moods. Sometime in the past he somehow adopted our friend Xander," she said when she realized he had that same look her mother got right before her temper came out. "When he died they went looking for heirs. He named Xander for some reason. They snuck in and stole him once they had gotten him out of the hospital. Your boys too apparently. I spent the morning moving the stuff they didn't take with them to my mom's basement and she moved their car to her driveway so it'd be safer until Xander could talk his way out of this one. Because he manages it usually."
"He does BS very well," Willow agreed. "Plus he can babble most anyone into submission and a migraine."
"Sounds like Dean but he doesn't babble," he admitted. "We don't see a problem with this?"
"They're supposed to be peaceful," Buffy admitted with a small shrug. "Plus we have no idea how to get up there. They've closed off their realm for a bit. Willow's looking into it."
"I am," she agreed quickly, nodding some. "It's a really complicated spell to move realms or planes unless you can find an already established link open. Since they closed them all until the coronation I don't think we can wait that long because Xander's kinda the normal guy and they might keep him if he can't talk them out of it. Then he'd be gay too, which we wouldn't mind all that much, but it might not suit your boys." Buffy smacked her on the arm. "Ow! What was that for?"
"I like Anya enough to not work against them. She's a lot calmer than she was when she first descended. He's done good helping her be rehumaned. Plus, no more drawing bad girls with her around."
Tara moaned, shaking her head. "Guys," she hissed.
John smirked at her. "Miss, you would be?"
"Mine, buddy, back off," Willow snarled.
He stared her down. "I'd never disrespect a woman, Miss Rosenburg, nor would I hit on one." She blushed and ducked her head again. He looked at Tara again. "You have nothing to fear from me, Miss, but I was wondering if someone could translate the river of words she just let out."
"It's past history," Buffy assured him. She stood up. "C'mon, we'll go where we meet, see if Giles has found anything new and so you can tell Anya you're sorry for shooting her in the butt with rock salt before she decides to get you back for it." She smiled a cheery grin. "Because that would be of the bad."
John looked at her. "Usually I only shoot bad things. What did she descend from?"
"Vengeance demon," Willow said.
John stared at her, then at Buffy. "She's who?"
"Anyanka, but her power center got broken so she got fired and rehumaned. She's been dating Xander since then."
He shuddered. "That boy's clearly insane."
"Only when he doesn't get enough chocolate apparently," Buffy said dryly. "C'mon. We have seats and tables and books to look through. Sam and Dean's been doing a lot of that too. They've started a list of stuff that some others need. It'll make Anya happy if they buy stuff." She took his arm to walk him off. "So, is hunting like you guys do as messy as it is here? Goo and ashes and stuff?"
"Now and then," he admitted. He paused to point at something. "Is that harmful?"
She looked. "No, that's Clem. He's a sweetie but he's probably off for a kitten poker game." She waved and he came over to hug her. "Hey, Clem, does anyone in town know how we can get up there early for Xander's coronation? We think he's got to be panicking and they might need a babble translator."
"No demons would ever go against his wishes, slayer. He was a good and kind lord over his people. Since he chose Xander he had to have his reasons. I don't know why he came up with two concubines, if that rumor's true." John growled. He looked at him. "You look like them."
"This is Sam's father. The two they took with Xander are his boys. Who're apparently straight."
"Ooooh." He winced. "No idea how you can get them free but Xander probably could. He has to talk them into it but you know he's good at it."
"I know." She gave him a pat on the arm. "Don't give Dawn any kittens this week. Mom's a bit stressed with how they snatched the Xander."
"That's fine. I won't." He grinned at John. "Your boys are very good hunters. Sam's very polite and Dean talked to me like a normal person when I came to the store to pick up something for Spike."
"Have him meet us there if you see him," Willow ordered.
"I will." He looked down at Buffy again. She was so tiny! "If you want to go to the coronation, I can make sure someone hears that you know him and you're best friends. But no one will help him get away from them. The realm needs a leader. They do a lot of good." He left, going to tell the others. At least she wasn't trying a mass invasion via Willow's magic and a lot of helpers from LA or other watchers.
Buffy looked up at John. "That's more than we knew. Why are all you guys so tall? It's not fair."
"They probably underestimate you, Buffy," he said blandly. He let her walk him down to the Magic Box. Her mother and an older guy were in there. "Morning," he greeted.
Joyce smiled at him. "You must be Dean and Sam's father. Dean does look a bit like you." She shook his hand.
"John Winchester," he said. "What happened?" He pointed at Willow. "She babbled something that I need a translator for."
Someone else stomped in, then spotted him and sighed in relief. "You're here."
"I was heading to check on them when I got a strange voicemail from Sammy about being on another plane. Why are you here, Bobby?"
Buffy looked at the guy in dusty jeans, a t-shirt, a ball cap hiding whitened hair, and who looked kinda old. "Wow, you guys live way longer than slayers if you're another hunter."
"Buffy!" Joyce complained. "That's rude. Apologize, young lady."
"Sorry, Mom's right but slayers die kinda young," she admitted. "Hi, Buffy Summers. You are?"
Anya squealed. "Sam left you a list," she said happily, going to get it from him. "That way you can buy things and cheer me up since I lost my pookie to the gay chocolate fairies."
"Anya, unless they have wings, fairies mean gay," Buffy said bluntly.
"Oh. Okay then just the chocolate fairies then."
Bobby nodded politely at her. "Sammy told me what happened to you, miss. I caught someone trying to call on you last year so I know they still miss you."
She sniffled and gave him a hug. "Thank you. I needed that cheering up. You're very sweet. But I'm still going to get him for nearly robbing me of my orgasms by shooting me in the butt cheek with rock salt. You can't save him from me."
"If he needs to be saved I'm sure he can save himself," he offered. She beamed and glared at John then went back behind the register. He looked over the list. "Sammy has expensive but eclectic tastes I see. Though it would fit nicely in my library." He tucked it into his back pocket. "Let me look at my finances first, ma'am. Magic books are expensive."
"I know, that's why I love selling them the best," she quipped.
"Can we get back to the problem at hand?" John asked before he lost his temper.
"I'm running a computer search through all the spell sites I know for a way to get up there since all their portals are closed until the coronation," Willow promised. She went to check her laptop. "So far I have one that'll take calling on a really high demon that'll want all our souls to transport us, which he'd probably take out in icky things to trade for, and one that'll take twelve goats and a piglet." She looked at them. "But I have a hundred more sites for it to look through. It should find anything else by tonight."
"I never find that many sites when I look," Bobby admitted. "Any other ideas going on so far?"
Buffy shrugged. "I asked Clem. He said no one's going to help us get up there if we can't do it on our own. That the realm does good things for all demon and human kind. The old ruler even put up with Dru in her battier phase. As for the whole gay thing? No idea," she admitted. "I'm waiting to be super strong and kick butt if I have to."
Anya looked over. "They have to have deliveries but none of my contacts know how." She shrugged. "I do want to go to the coronation. Maybe Xander will let me be a concubine. It'd be very prestigious for me. Plus I'd get orgasms again. It's been two days and I really do miss them."
"Anya," Joyce complained. "Not everyone wants to know about your sex life. You'd be embarrassing poor Xander by now."
"He knows how important orgasms and making money are to me. He'd only mumble and go on patrol with Buffy again."
Buffy shrugged when the two hunters looked at her. "We hear too much of this to pay much attention to it unless she comes out with freaky stuff like the last time she nearly got possessed and tried bondage. Xander's been taken too many times to want that stuff."
John coughed to hide his blush. "Your group is much more blunt than most people I'm used to. Even the Marines."
"My last hunny was a former Ranger," she sighed, looking outside. "I kinda miss him even if he did cheat on me with vampires to feed them." Willow and Tara gave her a pat. "I know. He's bad for me. But hey, alive and no soul curse like Angel. So I had better taste."
Joyce patted her daughter on the back. "I'm selling you into a marriage," she told her daughter. "Just so I have a son-in-law that's nice and polite."
"Yes, mom," she sighed, looking at John. "She can't do that, right?"
"I nearly gave Dean into one once," he admitted.
"Oh. Is it Mean Parent day?" she asked Willow.
She shrugged. "How should I know? I haven't seen mine in a few years, Buffy."
"Good point." She looked at the others. "Why don't you two get settled in, and watch out for the vamps at the motel, and we'll get back together around dinner? That way I get an update before I go on patrol with Spike? You guys can buy stuff from Anya, check the boys' stuff. And maybe some of the local demons will give me an idea somehow. Because I've got biology and I'm going to flunk if I skip again." She checked her watch. "Oops." She ran off.
Joyce sighed, shaking her head. "Don't ask," she told John. "She loses track of normal things now and then. She really is worried about Xander and your boys but I will paddle her and have her sewn shut so she can't ever have a boyfriend again if she flunks biology."
"Education's important, but I can see taking time to work the contacts we all have."
"Good." She drew out a map. "I live here," she said, handing it over. "You can come over for dinner, everyone. That way they can check the boys' things, we can regroup there. Willow, continue that search and remember you have feminist lit today." She squeaked and ran out too. She sighed. "We need to get her away from magic," she muttered. John nodded. "You heard?"
"A few witches I know warned me when they heard I was coming this way. She's got a slight reputation. I'm not here for her this time unless she pulls something dangerous in front of us."
"Good." She stood up. "I'm at the gallery up the street, gentlemen. The motel's at the other end of town." She pointed. "It's a decent enough place but some of the rooms are easily gotten into by vampires."
"There's a few open houses," Anya pointed out. "We did have that feeding surge last month. The Henderson house is open. Xander was thinking about telling Spike to move there off our couch."
"I don't think they'd want to use an abandoned house, dear," Joyce said.
"If the utilities are on, it'd be fine with us," Bobby told her. "Easier to ward than a motel room too."
"Okay." She walked them outside then pointed. "See the gray house's roof?" They both nodded. "One block behind that, the green house with the ugly shutters. It had water bottles on the porch the last I knew. As long as there's no realtor's sign it's still clear." She patted Bobby on the arm. "I'll make dinner tonight, guys." She left, going to plan dinner. It wasn't often Buffy got to see how other hunters worked. It'd be good for her to see mature ones. It'd be a good, adult influence outside her and Rupert. Which her daughter could definitely use.
John and Bobby shared a look then went to scout the house. It was still empty. Had all the utilities. One up the street had water bottles on the porch too but this one was clearly empty. Plus the mailbox said 'Hendersons' on it so they knew they were in the right place. They warded the place then settled in to call contacts and research. Bobby went over the suggested list and marked things. "Anything decent?"
"Very at good prices. A bit magic heavy but I'd expect that around here."
"Did you know about this place?"
"Rumors. A few mentions in books." He looked at him. "Have you tried to call them back yet?"
"I got an out of area message," he said blandly.
"I'm guessing nationwide coverage doesn't go off-plane," he agreed. "How did they get down to us?"
"Maybe they have roaming towers. I have no idea," John admitted. "Ash was here once. Ellen said that's why he drinks."
"This situation is about to make me," Bobby said. "Any idea if we can get up there to save 'em?"
Bobby grimaced. "She's a bit scary. Seems sweet."
"Yeah, which is probably a cover for her dark magic leanings." John pulled out his weapons to look them over. A few things could be sharpened or cleaned. "Any ideas yet?"
"Not yet but I haven't heard anything about this former guy who died. Every source that mentions him said he was a good, just ruler who helped people. Even those who weren't his kind. They invented chocolate."
"Dean's probably in M&M heaven then," John said dryly, smirking some. "I've heard that Harris has a chocolate fetish too."
"Good for him probably. They said they need the chocolate to live once they've become their people." John looked over. "Something about a sacred spring." Someone knocked then walked in. "Miss Summers. Any new news?"
"My biology teacher just turned into a demon and tried to hump someone so I had to drive him off." She sat down looking at them. "The chocolate thing is true. Willow bound Xander away from sweets and he nearly died after three days of not having any. That's why he was in the hospital." She looked at John. "They said they need about a cup a day for health reasons. They even gave mom a cookbook of strange ways to hide it in things."
"Interesting. Do we think my boys will need it?"
She shrugged. "No clue. We heard they adopted Xander at a very young age from that situation." She leaned back to be more relaxed. "The nurse and Anya nearly chewed Willow a new one. She's been baking cookies in apology for that. They apparently brought them with the guys since Anya said there's no cookies littering her place."
"They were living together?" Bobby asked.
"Yeah, they moved in together a few months back." She shrugged. "It helps Anya get closer to human again. Even if she does still talk about sex like it's food." She looked at John again. "Everyone I've talked to said your boys are probably just fine. Since they decided to make Xander take one of them permanently, I don't think they'd be tortured. If they've got healers, and Willow was sure they probably did, they've got to have someone in to check Dean's thigh. Xander would protect them. He tries to do it to me now and then too."
John considered that. "I'd still rather talk to them."
"Mom actually got hold of Xander's cellphone. We're not sure *how* or what service he's going through. Clearly roaming but I'm hoping his plan doesn't charge him roaming costs. He said it was the middle of the afternoon up there. Your two were scouting the palace they were in. Dean's still limping but not as much as he was. Xander's said that we can get up there. He knows we have plans on coming up there and Mom did tell him you and Bobby were here because I managed to get there as she was talking to him." John nodded once at that. "But they can't get us up there any sooner so it'll be weeks. He said they closed off the realm for the funeral and haven't reopened it except to get them up there. Xander thinks that there's a reason the old guy decided he couldn't do it anymore and starved to death by not eating chocolate for a week."
"Why couldn't he get him as a prince and helper then?" Bobby asked.
"I don't know. I know some demons are strange that way. Heirs are only heirs when you're gone in a few of the higher societies and this is looking like it's a civilized people. We can't find out much more than that. I've called Angel down in LA. They branched off from our group after our graduation." She swallowed. "He'll know more hopefully since LA has a huge demon population."
Bobby nodded at that. "I'd figure most cities would and I've been told they hide here because the power hides them."
"Yup, and the harmful ones get high on it and attack," she agreed dryly. "We kick butt, go back to our thing afterward, and then have research parties with pizza." She grinned. "We've got it down to an art. Though, Sam has been *really* helpful, Mr. Winchester." She grinned at him. "He's been helping Xander a lot and they even managed to give me a few nights off. Dean helps with the research stuff and Sam's nearly a god of it according to Willow. She nearly bowed at his feet for finding stuff she couldn't online. Dean joked that it'd make his butt swell since he was being a butthead that night." John cracked a smirk at that. "We like the boys and we want to help you get them back. Even if they are going to leave us back at the normal stuff again." She stood up. "Mom's going to call back after dinner since time seems to run about the same up there. She said you two are coming over for dinner. Do you know where?"
"She drew us a map," he offered.
"Good." She smiled. Then she looked around. "These were some nice people but they were kinda fussy too. Had a german sheppard that used to like to try to pounce us on patrol when it got loose. It's a shame they're in Bermuda." She pointed. "The ones up the street with the ugly shutters are the ones who died."
"Usually someone would've called the cops," Bobby said.
Buffy snorted. "Our officers? Do anything like their jobs? Yeah, right!" She smirked. "They never would. C'mon, I'll walk you two up there so you're not pounced by the granny patrol who'll want to cuddle and coo over you two." They repacked and headed out after her, going to that other house. A few neighbors gave her interested looks. "House sitting," she called with a wave. "Hi, Mrs. Johnson. These two are house sitters."
"That's fine, dear." She pinched them both on the cheek. "It must be how you're getting a quiet vacation away from stress."
"Yes, ma'am," Bobby said.
"Such polite young men too." She smirked. "I should take you out to remember my wild youth, boys." She walked off, going to get pretty while she talked to them.
Buffy looked at them. "She's ninety but she can still kick it at the Bronze now and then." She let them into the house and watched them reward the house. "Salt?"
"It keeps out some classes of demons and spirits," John told her.
"Huh. Will it work on vamps?" They shook their heads. "Pity. Most of the problems around here are vamps and we almost never see spirits. Well, except the ones reliving their bad night at the Sadie Hawkins dance and the time Xander accidentally fell into a burial chamber that gave him syphilis and small pox for a few hours." She saw the looks she was getting. "They were kinda mad that we gave it to their native people so they gave him a 'thanks for killing us' gift before we sent them on. Once they were gone he was better."
"Good to know," Bobby said. "I've never seen that mentioned before. John?"
"No, I've never heard of that happening."
"Freaky stuff like this and being kidnaped by the chocolate demons happens to Xander." She shrugged. "It's like how he only dates bad girls. Anya was clearly one when she was demonic so she fits." She grinned. "We just sigh and nag anymore. Especially if he ever gets possessed again."
"That was after a possession?" Bobby asked.
"Two if you count Halloween as one since a chaos sorcerer turned us into our costumes."
John blinked. "Can we get notes on that so we can make sure people know it's possible?"
"Sure. Giles would have that." She grinned. "That's kinda his job as a watcher."
"We'll ask him later, before dinner," Bobby assured her. She beamed and bounced out. He and John shared a look. "There is a worse magnet than your younger son?"
"Possibly. How would it have given it to him?"
"There's a way if he's a medium.... Which might be in line with the dating bad girls thing," he said, considering it. "They'd be drawn to his nature." John just nodded once. "Aren't you glad Sammy only has visions?"
"Intensely." Someone knocked and he got up to smile at the woman on the other side. "Hi, Mrs. Johnson. Is there a problem we can help you with?"
"No, not yet, boys, but I was going to invite you to dinner." She patted her carefully put up hair. She had even put on makeup and shaved for them.
"Unfortunately we've promised to eat dinner with Mrs. Summers tonight, ma'am," Bobby said. She pouted. "She's got some of his sons' things in storage while they're out of town. But it looks like we'll be here for at least a few weeks. Maybe some other night?"
She beamed. "I can do that. This Saturday we're having a good town picnic in the parks. Would you like to come with me?"
"We wouldn't mind getting to know more about the town at all," John told her. She kissed him then strolled off. He waited until he had the door closed. "She's one feisty woman."
"Yes she is," Bobby said with a smirk. "She good?" John swatted him. Bobby just laughed because John was blushing. Big, bad John Winchester, blushing over a feisty ninety-year-old woman kissing him like they were teenagers.
Sam came back to their suite from his wandering, handing Xander the map he had drawn. Dean was leaning in his chair. "Leg?" he asked.
"Sore as shit, dude, but I'll live. I took more of the stuff in his kit." He looked at his map then at Sam's. "Looks like it's a mirror image except for that one area," he said with a point.
Xander looked then nodded. "It does. He's got that listed as incoming portals."
"That's what the door's sign said," Sam agreed. He settled himself down. "Any ideas after talking to the guys who came in to leave us food?"
"Two things." Xander looked up. "He did suicide but the higher ups think there was a reason for it. Something he couldn't handle coming up." That got a joint nod. "I also learned that there was an official heir but he had given it up to go be human. They're trying to find him because he has to officially turn over his position to me. So we might be able to talk him into taking it back and just helping with whatever situation it was. I do know that he had other heirs given to him and adopted into the family. For some reason he picked me instead of the over thirty others he had listed in their official books."
"So we might end up helping the new heir but that'd be okay?" Dean suggested.
Xander looked at him and nodded. "Even if you two aren't comfortable I can do that. They're said to be very nice. Very delicate people. Very honorable as well. No one's said what the problems coming are about."
Dean nodded once at that. "Okay so we might have to help. I don't mind helping people or demons as long as they're not evil bitches. These guys kidnaped us but it seems like they thought it was for a good reason." Sam nodded at that. "Any other news they shared?"
"The coronation is in three weeks." They groaned. "They're setting up a room so you can do PT for your leg, Dean, and the healer who worked on you earlier is going to be doing daily checks to make sure you're all right. There's also a pool attached to that room so you can swim to help it get stronger. We're not forbidden from helping you. They did say they'd wish me to acquiesce, their word, sooner on the marriage thing. I told them I still only liked girls, you two only liked girls, so it wasn't about to happen suddenly. They said it'd be better and more stable when me or the original heir took over." Sam nodded once at that. "I did get them to give us a history book." He pointed at it on a nearby table. "Plus a book on local customs and things so we don't accidentally trip over something they consider bad and worthy of killing."
"Not a bad idea," Dean agreed. "Looked through it?"
"Glanced, haven't really read. I've been pacing. I talked to Joyce. Your dad and someone named Bobby showed up earlier. They're going to her house tonight for dinner so they'll call back then." That got a nod from both boys. "Buffy apparently complained that you're all too tall since she's only five-three. She's been talking hunting and I'm kinda hoping that they'll be good and help her see some of the areas where she likes to ignore things. Also, Joyce said he did start in on Willow's magic problems. That someone had told him from out of town. He said he'll leave her unstaked for now, but that's one area they could be talking to Buffy about because we've all worried about Willow's magical mistakes now and then. Especially after that will spell she did when she broke up with Oz."
"Will spell?" Dean asked dryly, staring at him.
"Oz left for Tibet after a long night where he killed another werewolf that was after Willow." They nodded slowly at that. "So he basically left for Tibet. She caught him packing and he said he'd be back. She got so upset she cast a my will be done spell." Both boys shuddered. "It was kinda odd. Buffy nearly married Spike. I ended up a worse demon magnet. Giles ended up blind." Dean whimpered, shaking his head moaning 'wrong' over and over. "Yeah. And it's not her first mistake but I'm not sure that it's a good thing to be making mistakes with magic. Magic kinda makes me a bit wary since it goes funky around me whenever she's doing stuff."
"Okay," Sam said, holding up a hand. "You can't make a magical *mistake*, Xander. You can cast a spell that you didn't intend to cast. You can have a higher power warp a spell or some other power warp a spell that you're casting. Magic has to go with intent. There's no way to make a *mistake*. You cast with intention and thought. You put emotion behind it."
"We have seen a witch that screwed up a potion that went with a spell," Dean corrected. "That did screw it up."
"She's done that," Xander admitted. "She doesn't measure very well."
The brothers shared a look then Sam sighed, looking at Xander. "Xander, has she been stealing books? Doing rites no one's aware of?"
"Tara might be. Tara's mother trained her in how to be a witch. She agreed that Willow's mistakes aren't good."
Dean shook his head. "No, that's not mistakes. That's her mind isn't following her intent," Dean said simply. He shifted and winced a bit, holding his sore thigh. "That's her mind has a darker core and that core is taking over her control." Xander slumped. "That's a damn good reason to get her bound from her magic before she actually hurts someone. Because that's the major sign on the way to the dark side for witches. Stealing books, hiding it like it's an addiction, all that."
Sam nodded. "For her it might be an addiction. I've noticed that she's been doing magic for a lot of little things. Like her hair the other night. She was floating up her hair barrette instead of picking it up. She used magic to put it into place and hold her hair in place instead of doing it by hand."
"That's bad?" he asked.
"Think of it like a drunk," Sam offered. "Some people can drink casually. A drink now and then in social situations. A beer during the game. No big. No desire to keep going, nothing like that. Then there's the guys even if they only drink now and then, they're still not able to stop. If they keep from drinking they're fine but at the first sip that need takes over and they'll keep going until they're drunk and they can't help it. Then there's the full blown, every day drinking alcoholics. Some of which can function nearly normally while drunk and some can't. Willow's acting a lot like the social drinker who can't stop herself from getting a second cocktail. She's moving quickly down the path to a full blown lush that's only drinking."
"Only with magic she can hurt more people than drunk drivers," Dean added. "If she can channel your hellmouth she can hurt a whole lot of people."
"She's closed it a few times." Xander looked at him. "I knew that soul sticking spell was too hard for her."
"Soul sticking?" Sam asked. "The one we heard was on Angel?"
Xander grimaced and nodded. "She tried the first time but she ended up in a coma overnight. When she woke up, she tried it again and managed it but this was less than a year after starting her training under Giles. She went from floating pencils to closing the hellmouth for him, to that spell while in a hospital bed."
"No, that's not...." Dean shook his head quickly. "We can have Dad check her to make sure no malevolent spirit took her over if you want. Dad'll growl though. He hates bad witches."
"We can ask Bobby. He'll be a bit more fair," Sam offered at Xander's quick head shake. "That way he's an independent source and he can tell her what happens to witches on her path."
"She'll think we're ganging up on her."
"Then we'll suggest it to Buffy," Sam said, grinning some. "She can nag her into it or go suggest it to Bobby. That way Willow can't be pissed at you and won't think we're ganging up on her."
"Buffy could best friend her into it," Xander decided. "I can get behind that plan. I don't want to see her on a pole about to be burned ever again," he sighed, shaking his head. "Once was enough."
"Why was she nearly burned?" Dean asked.
"The Hansel and Gretel demon drove the town into a frenzy against magic and the occult. They nearly burned Amy Madison, Willow's pet rat Amy now, Buffy, and Willow at the stake."
"Huh?" Sam asked. Xander grinned and went over it in slight detail, earning a shudder. "We've got to get Bobby to look at the records of strangeness going on out there. If there's other hellmouths it'd drive hunters nuts."
"There are. Giles has a book with them."
Dean groaned, rubbing his thigh. "That's just wrong on so many levels."
"Yeah, but Amy did it to herself. Willow and Buffy got freed. It worked out okay."
Dean shook his head. "Not really. She's still a rat."
"She can't change herself back and Willow's tried a few times but she hasn't managed it either."
"That's probably going to take a full blown rite to undo," Sam said thoughtfully. He started to make notes for their later call. "Your phone isn't prepaid minutes, right?"
"Nope. I'm going to hate this month's cellphone bill. Roaming sucks."
Dean nodded. "That's why we have nationwide toll free on ours," he told him.
"I never get out of Sunnydale. Well, the roadtrip from hell took me to Oxnard, but not really all that far off."
"Maybe after this we'll help you see more of the US," Sam offered with a grin. "We've been all over it most of our lives. I think we've only missed Alaska and Hawaii."
"No, we were in Alaska at one point," Dean corrected. "You were, like, three. Dad heard the demon was up there hunting someone so we drove up through Canada. Pretty country. It was summertime so not cold. We only hit just over the border."
Sam nodded. "I don't remember that. But okay." He shrugged and went back to his list making. "Anything we're missing from our supplies?"
"Weapons," Dean said.
"I found a few of my daggers," Xander offered. "Nothing else though."
"We've got a whole trunk full," Dean said with a grin. "Kinda comes with the job."
"I guess it would. I've got a few warehouses of stuff down there I've managed to liberate from nests and things. Buffy'll slay and then walk off. I decided leaving stuff there was probably not a good idea."
"Probably not," Dean agreed. "No telling what they'd do when another vamp found it. Anything good?"
"A few things but it's just piled in there in no order." He shrugged a bit. "If I let Anya play with it, she'd try to sell it on me and then who knows who'd get it. Plus any weapons would probably get agents on our doorstep. Who'd then get eaten and we'd have to take them down too."
"That would suck," Dean agreed. Sam nodded at that. "Want us to tell Dad so he can look it over? Make sure only hunters get the bigger things?"
"I'm not sure yet. We might need them. We have needed artillery in the past," he said at Sam's strange look. "And explosives."
Sam whimpered. "Why?"
"Buffy blew up the Judge with a grenade launcher in a mall. Angelus had put it together again. It was going to eat humanity and could only be destroyed by a weapon that hadn't been invented back in his day. Basically a 'no weapon made by man' clause. The explosives we used during grad."
Dean shuddered, curling up some. "We looked that up, dude. That looked bad. That I would've wanted the Marines behind me during."
"So did we but we only had the graduating class." He grimaced. "It wasn't a bad plan for being last minute but it was last minute and we had problems. I'm the first to admit that we had problems." He looked at the books again, pulling over the etiquette book. He didn't want to do anything so wrong that they'd want to kill him for.
Dean and Sam shared a look. Sam gave Xander a short hug on his hunt for the phones. They could call their dad during supper from theirs. It'd save some of Xander's phone.
Buffy walked up to Willow, nudging her with her shoulder since she was looking down at the little creek. "Got a wacky idea."
"What?" She looked at her best friend. "You don't look like it's a happy or shoe shopping one."
"Nope. Bigger idea." She leaning on the railing too. "I was thinking that since we have some really experienced hunters here, maybe they can teach us some stuff?"
"They don't seem to like me."
"Well, and Sam had a thought about this. They more don't like how you've made mistakes while casting." She grimaced. "Which worries us too, Wills, but maybe they can help you with that focus so you don't have that problem anymore."
Willow slumped. "I don't know why I make mistakes like the will spell."
"I don't count that as a mistake. I count that as you were in pain and trying to solve it. Hence the drinking thing too." She gave her another friendly nudge. "Sam also heard how you went uber powerful within your first year. He wasn't so sure that you didn't have some help doing that. Maybe you got a bit Xander'd and sucked in something that was helping you with the soul spell and stuff but now isn't so helpy."
Willow considered it. "I don't think I did."
"Xander said he doesn't remember anything from the hyena. Who says they can't hide from you?"
"Huh. I don't know." She considered it. "Did Xander nag at Sam about it?"
"No. But Sam was thinking that maybe, because you've been using it all the time for even the little things, that some training time with some higher witches might help you with your focus and stuff. That way you don't have burrito farts and destroy us all one night when you're stressed over homework. Like you nearly burned all my hair off last week."
Willow gave her a hug. "I said I was sorry."
"I know, but still a bit scary, Willow." She grinned. "I forgave you since you made it grow back."
Willow relaxed to her leaning spot again. "Maybe there is a little helper in there. I had no idea I was using magic then. If it's a possession it could've done it without me knowing I guess."
"So, see, we can ask that Bobby guy. John seems a bit growly about the magic stuff. Bobby seems more like a watchery sort."
"Yeah, he does." She sighed, looking down then at her friend. "Do you think he'd be able to help?"
"I don't know. We can ask. He might know some higher witches if he can't."
"That might be nice. Take Tara away this summer to talk to them."
"Yup, a vacation sounds good right about now." They shared a smile and walked off. Buffy got in a short patrol on the way there. They found Bobby researching without John. "No scruffy, growly one?" she asked him when he answered the door.
"He's out making sure the town's fairly safe tonight."
She sighed. "That's my job, not his. Did he bring a stake?"
"Why would he?"
"Most of the ones around here you stake," Willow told him. He groaned, texting that to him. "Can we...I talk to you for a few minutes?"
"Sure." He nodded as Buffy left. "What's wrong, Miss Rosenburg?"
"Sam and... and probably Xander too, thought it was a bit odd how I went from floating pencils to sticking souls and closing the hellmouth," she said, looking at her hands then at him. He sat her down and stared at her. "He thought I might've sucked up something that's being helpy back then but now isn't being so helpy because I've had a few accidents and times when spells go on that I don't think I cast."
Bobby considered it. He and Sam had talked about Willow earlier. "I can search for a possessing spirit," he assured her. She beamed and relaxed some. "If it's not that, there's the option of a magic addiction." Her face fell and she pouted. "Sam talked to me before about you using it for little things. Normal things. If it's a possession we can cure it. If it's not, I'd be honor bound to report you to some stronger witches so you'd get help."
"I think that might be okay," she admitted. "I could take Tara to go study with them. Make it like a short vacation from here."
"That might be good with them," he agreed, smiling some. "Sit there, let me get some things ready." She nodded, getting comfortable by pulling her feet up to cross in front of her and lean on her knees while watching him gather the book and other things he needed. Plus some holy water. He came back. "Holy water's a basic test."
"I had to refill our squirt guns from a church recently," she offered. He sprinkled her anyway. No effect. She grinned so he moved on to test other things.
Buffy found John and sighed, staking the vamp. "The ones around here you stake."
He looked at her. "Blowing their heads off works in most things."
"Yeah, but only the vamps are truly evil around here. We get some bad demons but not all of them are bad. Some are just hiding."
"I'm not touching anything that's not attacking someone," he said firmly.
She smiled. "Good! That's how we roll around here." She walked off with him. "So, how is hunting your way?"
"A lot of long hours of research and leaving towns quickly once you've solved things."
"Huh. I guess that's why slayers have watchers, to do our research for us so we have more time to hunt." She grimaced. "Even though Giles and I aren't really needing it right now. We only go into major research overdrive when the bad things appear anymore."
"Once you've learned your major problems that's how it should be. Since my boys and I do a lot of spirits, we have to find a lot of graves to salt and burn."
She looked up at him. "What does that do?"
"Sends them onto their next life by force."
"Oh." She pursed her lips while she thought then shook her head. "I'm glad I don't have to dig them up to kill them. It's kinda icky. It's bad enough when they get ash and goo all over me. I hate the days I come home covered."
John gave her a look. "I'm guessing past slayers haven't really cared about that?"
"No but they got taken from their families and stuff to be turned into perfect slayers. Who're never allowed to date, shop, have fun, anything like that. I met one. It kinda sucked for her. She only had *one* shirt. She got really pissed when it got ruined."
John shook his head. "That doesn't sound ideal either. I trained my boys to hunt but I wasn't *that* strict."
She grinned. "Dean does sound like he likes fun. We even got him to hop into the Bronze one night. He waxed poetic about fleecing guys at the pool table but he couldn't stand long enough to do that."
"That is how we make a lot of our traveling money," he agreed.
"It seems like you should be funded by someone," she said. "That someone should pay you to handle some things."
"Nope. A lot of times we don't get any thanks either."
She nodded. "I get that a lot around here. The cops hate us. They actually tried to blame stuff on us that they were doing." She looked around and sighed. "We should check on Xander's warehouses that he doesn't know that I know he has."
"Yeah, he's been going behind me to clean out some nests and things so the next vamp doesn't get their stuff. Anya doesn't know because she'd throw a fit and expect some of it to be given to her and the weapons to be sold off. I'm figuring if we need artillery next time he'll pull something out of one of them." She led him to the storage places so they could check them over. John looked in the first one, whimpering when he saw boxes on top of cases. "He just piles it in here. I don't think he does an inventory or anything." She shut it and went to the next few. Then they left again.
"Those were real weapons," he pointed out.
She nodded. "Next time maybe I won't have to use one in a mall."
He stared at her, stopping her from moving. "A mall?" She grinned and nodded. "You didn't get agents here for that?"
"Nope, but we did get the Initiative a year and a bit later. We were never sure why they came here. If it was they saw that demon that was going to eat everyone or if it was about the Mayor's stuff. Xander figures it had to be about the Judge in the mall since they had to have time to build an underground base. I figured it was graduation but they showed up a few months later."
He stared at her. "Probably his idea or something earlier," he admitted. "It takes time for the military to move. What Judge?"
"When Angel went bad, he got the pieces and put together a huge demon called the Judge." She took his arm and walked off again. "It was really nasty. Started with their emotions and ate them from there. He couldn't be killed by any weapon made by mankind. Well, we blew him back to little blobs then sent the pieces off to be guarded again. Xander had to sneak onto the reserve base to get me something to use for my birthday."
"Uh-huh," he said, considering it. "Is it safely stored?"
"Giles sent it to different parts of the globe; to other watchery sorts to guard I guess. All he said were contacts he had." She looked up at him. "It worked."
"I'm sure it did." He paused to consider. "If Dean had to do something like that I'd be proud he had managed the situation but then yell because he had done something that would get us attention from the wider world."
"This is Sunnydale. They ignore everything except me killing the robot that was going to hurt me and my mom around here."
"Robot?" he asked, giving her a funny look. She sighed but nodded. "Things are really screwed up around here, huh?" She grinned and nodded faster. "I'd hate being stationed here."
"Not a whole lot of choice in mine," she said dryly. "Slayers are slayers so we handle the big things that would drive hunters like you nuts I'm guessing."
"Probably," he decided. He watched her move to stake the vampire running toward them. "Want to spar tomorrow since Xander's not here?"
"Sparring practice," he said again. "I figure you'll need someone to do that with since Xander's not here. I'm not bad at hand-to-hand."
"I practice with Giles now and then when he wants to get his butt kicked. He did make me a room to practice all I want in. But Xander and I don't really practice because he's got the work stuff and all that."
He stared at her for her overconfidence. He knew what was going through her head and why she didn't spar with Xander. He had heard Sam's rant about her thinking Xander was too normal to do things. "How do you learn new moves and things?"
"The slayer gifts come with knowledge of every fighting style."
"You can still lose those if your body isn't trained to do them," he pointed out. "Or injure yourself. Even girls can get groin pulls, Buffy." She shuddered at that. "Even with faster healing."
"I practice every night while I patrol."
"It might help you wear out that bouncy energy that keeps you from focusing in your classes."
She grimaced. "I think I'm just bouncy, John. But thanks for the offer."
"It does everyone good to learn new things," he said.
She looked back at him. "Do you go all pushy daddy on your boys too?"
"Yup. You have to be able to fight to survive." He looked over her current outfit. "If Dean had went out wearing heels I'd have beaten his ass."
"For wearing heels or for hunting in them?" she teased with a grin.
"Hunting in them. If Dean wanted to cross-dress I would've gotten over it fairly quickly. Might've used him as bait a few times," he admitted. She chuckled, shaking her head and taking his arm again. "How many nights a week do you patrol?"
"Almost every night. Unless I can legitimately call off for something, like finals. Then Xander does a short one for me with Spike or someone so he doesn't get hurt."
He looked at her. "You know, if he had more practice, he wouldn't get hurt so often."
She shrugged. "He's working all the time."
"Who trained him to hunt, Buffy?"
"He learned on the job. So did I."
"You had a mentor," he pointed out more gently. She slumped but nodded. "I'm sure Dean's running him through his paces up there. With Dean being down with that broken leg of his, they'll need Xander to be ready for anything."
"I'm sure they'll be fine. They were said to be nice people. We haven't heard about any funky, dangerous pre-coronation rituals or anything either."
"Good point. I know they're still taking precautions. I trained my boys well."
"They're kinda paranoid."
"Like you, there's people out to get them," he reminded her.
"Yeah, Sam's been researching the demon that wants his butthole. He hasn't been happy with what he's learned."
John looked at her. "I don't think the demon wants him for that reason, Buffy."
She shrugged. "He might. They seem to want Xander for that reason."
"Sammy's not as drawing of trouble as Xander is."
"Yeah," she snorted. "Because Sammy didn't have three vampires come to blows over who would get to turn him so they could play with his hair?"
"He never told me that."
"One night at the Bronze. Xander got two and I got the other one for him. They weren't happy gay vampires by any means. They wanted to do a total makeover. Leather pants on up."
John shook his head quickly at that image. "I don't think Sammy would like leather. Dean's got his leather jacket but Sammy's never been fond of it. Said it was too heavy."
"They kinda had him tied up and gagged. He was trying to complain but oh well. Shouldn't have been dancing at the Bronze with the succuba who sold him off."
John shook his head. "I think I want my boys somewhere more sane. Things like that only happen around here."
"Usually to Xander," she joked.
"He needs somewhere more sane too."
She nodded. "I'd like to see him get out of the patrolling business and go raise kids with some good girl, not Anya but some nicer girl somewhere, so he didn't get hurt."
He looked at her. "Being around power like this taints you," he said quietly. She slumped. "The longer you're here, the more you suck up. Like any radiating energy, Buffy."
"So Xander being born here would mean he'll never leave? Is that what cut his roadtrip short?"
"I think that was more a piece of crap car," he admitted. "Dean told me he had went on one and how he got stuck in Oxnard," he told her at her sideways look. He pulled his gun but she stopped him. "It's eating that dog."
"They only eat dogs. They know to only eat stray dogs," she said more loudly. The demon fled with his dinner. "Poor K-9 dog. But his owner was probably sucked dry anyway," she sighed. She found him in the alley, checking him over. "Blood in his mouth. He'll be vamped."
John walked up and pulled out something, sticking it against his chest and pushing the plunger. It went off with a quiet 'whoomp' and he stood up, tucking it back into his pocket. "Air injector loaded with holy water soaked wood," he told her. "It comes in handy now and then." She beamed at that, walking him off again. He looked down at her since she was on his arm again. Not that it wasn't how a gentleman escorted a lady around but it was still odd.
She grinned up at him. "I never get to do girl stuff these days. Riley hated me being a girly girl. Spike makes fun of me for it. It's nice to do girlish things again."
He nodded, letting it go. He supposed she didn't get much time to be a girl instead of a slayer. "Riley?"
"I was dating one of the Initiative guys. He was a team leader. Then we saw how big of dirtbags they were so he turned on them and helped us end them."
"Hmm." He kept his opinion to himself about that. "He left?"
"He's being a commando somewhere in Central America I think." She shrugged. "They needed him to go hunt demons down there for the UN."
"Interesting." He smiled down at her. "You need someone better than that. Someone who doesn't like the job but can do it with you for reasons other than it's fun."
"I know. But I can't date Xander. He's like a pesky brother."
He nodded. "I realize that. I'll ask a few hunters if they might come out here," he offered. She squealed and hugged him then bounced off to babble and kick the butt of the demon causing problems up the street. He pulled out his phone to call Bobby. "It's me. We're still fine. Know anyone who might like to come to town and help Buffy, plus maybe date her?" He hung up since he had gotten his voicemail.
John came home that night, looking at the crying witch on their borrowed couch. "She good?"
"It's a full blown addiction," he said quietly. "I've called around. I'm waiting to hear back from the witches I know."
John nodded. "Most of the witches you know are good, common sensical women." He patted Willow on the head. "People fight addictions every day, kiddo. You can too."
"I have to be able to work spells to help out or I'm just in the way," she sobbed.
"Yeah, but you can fight the impulse to do more than that. Like the thing with your hair that Sammy mentioned during the call." She looked up at him. "Magic should be for special things, not everyday things. Even if you can wipe your own ass with it, why bother? That's why you have hands and tp."
"I guess." She wiped her nose on the back of her hand. "Do you think I can learn to work around it?"
He shrugged. "That depends on how much you want it, girl." She nodded. "What does Tara say?"
"She wanted me to give up on magic for a while."
"Sounds like the girl has sense," Bobby agreed calmly. "Let us get you back to the dorms, Willow. We'll talk tomorrow once I hear back from a few witches. It won't be easy but you can do it." She nodded, letting John drove her back to the campus. Bobby collapsed, looking up at the ceiling. This was not a good start to this problem. A witch with emotional issues and a magic addiction. Her girlfriend was more stable as a witch but not as powerful. And too shy to come anywhere near them. Plus she didn't fight so they couldn't count on her for that. A slayer who was a bit flighty and scary for that reason. And their best three hopes of getting out of the problems were the problems this time. John came back. "She good?"
"She's settled in talking to Tara." He sat down. "Bad? Sammy mentioned she made some supposed mistakes."
"She burned Buffy's hair off the other night by accident while frustrated. Made it grow back before Buffy could do more than whine."
"Buffy's looking forward to times that let her be more normal."
"I'd do that too. She's got the worst job of all of us. We can retire or take some time off. She can't."
"Yeah. But she doesn't like to practice."
Bobby shrugged. "Most people don't, even if it's their daily job. Maybe especially if it's their daily job."
"That's what she said. I'll be seeing her tomorrow for practice since I used moves she hadn't seen before." He gave him a smug look. "The gift comes with knowledge of other fighting styles but she didn't take them in to learn them."
"Then I'm sure you'll have fun tomorrow. How bad was it?"
"Seventeen vampires, two demons and one I nearly shot for eating a dog. She shooed it off."
Bobby shuddered. "The town's overrun?"
"Apparently. They do the best they can but I'm guessing the hellmouth keeps it overflowing." That got a nod. "Think the girl will be fine?"
"Willow should be fine. Girl has some balls behind her attitude. I'm more worried about why she went down the addiction path."
"Ah, I heard about that," he said dryly. "Her parents are shrinks."
"Good shrinks or drug dealing shrinks?"
"Neither. Lecturing, book writing shrinks."
Bobby shuddered. "At least they're not tv and radio shrinks. That'd be even worse. So I'm guessing they coddled her?"
"Buffy said she hasn't seen them in years."
"Excuse me?" Bobby demanded. John nodded, looking smug. "So, they're shrinks but they're neglecting their own child?" John nodded again, looking even more smug. "That Xander boys' parents?"
"I asked to see if we should tell them anything. She said not to bother. She said to drop it when I asked further."
"Ah. Interesting." He considered it. "The local denial problem?" John mimed drinking. "That's even worse."
"So Willow basically helped raise Xander," John finished.
Bobby snorted, shaking his head. "So we've met the real parents in the group?"
"Apparently. Buffy's mom has some sense. Joyce seems like she's got her daughter well in hand."
"Even better. Everyone could use fussed over now and then."
"No thanks." He stood up. "Which room is mine?"
"The one in the back. I gave you the bigger bed," he said with a smirk. "She get on you for being so tall? Willow thought she might."
"She did mention it a few times. She thought it was unfair she was so short." He went to shower and lay down for the night. Bobby would wake him up in a few hours so he could take watch. They weren't going to let their guards down since the town was so dangerous. Though he did want to go through the boy's warehouse. Maybe he'd mention to Sam that it should be gone through. He'd like that sort of challenge.
Xander woke up the next morning, looking at the two men in the bed beside him. "I could've sworn I went to sleep on the couch," he said when he caught Sam staring at him. "I'm sorry."
"They probably moved you back," Sam dismissed. "Or you're sleep walking." Xander relaxed and grinned at that. "How're you feeling?"
"I'm okay. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Last night you got goofy after dinner," Dean moaned, sitting up and looking at him. "Weren't you on the couch and Sammy on that funky footless couch?"
"Yup," Sam agreed. "I'm guessing they moved us back. How's your leg?"
"Aches but it's better today." He looked around. "So far we're alone."
"Someone woke me up bringing in food," Sam said with a point behind him. "Xander, take first shower?"
"I can do that. Sorry, guys." He left, going to hide in the bathroom while the brothers talked.
"They're pushy," Dean complained.
"They're desperate," Sam corrected quietly. Dean slumped and grumbled something but nodded. "Making Xander uncomfortable won't do us any good, Dean."
"I know. I wasn't trying to." He looked at him. "How did you get back here? No one we've seen is strong enough or big enough to lift your big, heavy ass."
"Who knows. Maybe they've got some telekinetics or some magic users." He got up. "Want the field kit?"
"Please." Sam got it for him, letting him find his drugs for the day. Since they'd run out soon it'd mean that Dean would have to cut back as he healed so Sam wouldn't worry about it. Xander came out drying off his hair in a robe, hurrying to his dressing area. "Want first or second?" Dean asked, making himself get up.
"They put a chair in there for him," Xander called.
"Then I'll go next and you take last," Dean decided, heading that way.
Sam sat down to read over the history book he hadn't finished last night. He needed to know what sort of goofy drugs they had given Xander last night and if they were going to continue. Then they'd do Dean's physical therapy for the day and find out a bit more about their surroundings. It'd only help them.
Xander walked into the throne room, looking around. "Damn that's a big chair."
"It'll shrink to fit you," one of the guards in there told him. "Sire....."
"Don't even," Xander warned. "My name is Xander. I'm not royalty."
"Xander then. There's a council meeting later if you'd like to attend."
"I'm not used to running anything bigger than a construction crew, dude. How would I know how to lead a people?"
"Like the last one did, you learn as you go alone. Like any skill and leading ability." He stared him down.
Xander looked back. "Wanna trade places?"
"No. The last Lord had a lot of whining people recently. I'd hate to smite them." Xander grinned at that, nodding some. "The Council meets in the room to the left. Behind the ugly tapestry there. His mother made it for him."
"Thank you." He walked that way, blatantly walking in while they were shouting at each other. "Okay, let's get some things straight. I don't know what sort of crack someone was smoking when they offered me. I have no idea what I'm doing. I want to know why I was chosen out of all the others. There may be a way we can help without me having to take a better trained heir's place. Because I can't run shit and not screw up something," he finished bluntly. He sat down in the open seat, staring at the amused looking men and one woman. "Why me?"
"There were a few reasons," the pro-tem head of the realm admitted. "One being that we are being threatened for the first time in a very long time. Lord Wozaataran felt he was not able to deal with such things. His last few journal entries said he was tired and had wished to be himself instead of the one everyone knew and looked up to."
"So, using the Willie Wonka analogy that Willow used before, I'm his Charlie? I got the magical golden ticket?"
The man considered it then nodded. "As I remember that story, yes."
Xander nodded once. "I can understand threats but I'm still probably not the best choice. I may hunt with a slayer but I'm still looking to the watcher for research and how to kill things."
"It would be normal to have advisors," he agreed.
"Okay, that makes more sense. Why did my parents have him adopt me?"
"For a favor. That is all that was recorded."
"Hmm. Okay. No other hunters, soldiers, anything like that among the other heirs?" They shook their heads. "At all?"
"Usually the adoption infusion turns them away from such pursuits," one said. "You look well rested. Were your new mates good last night?"
"I don't like doing that with boys, guys. I like girls. Specifically I'm dating Anyanka." They all shuddered. "She's lost her power center but she's my bitch. I like Dean and Sam. They're nice guys, but they're straight and I'm straight. That's not going to happen. I like having them here. They're good in areas I'm not. Dean's a better fighter and planner than I am when he's healed."
That got a few nods. The pro-tem head smiled at him. "That's why we chose them as your mates. As for liking girls, we can overlook that flaw. You'll work out a satisfactory relationship with them."
"And the fact that there's a higher demon who desperately wants Sam?" he countered.
He considered it. "None would go against you for that matter. You could protect him."
"Possibly but his dad's hellishly pissed." A few grimaced. "He's with my slayer right now."
"They are coming up for your coronation. They've sent word through multiple sources that they're coming up. They won't be allowed to attempt anything foolish but they're coming up."
Xander stared at him. "You are talking about Buffy, right?" That got a few snorts and nods. "Uh-huh. She'll agree, I'm not meant to lead people."
"It is still your job because you have the right skills. So said the last lord," another said firmly.
"If I can help with the problem, I will. I'm still not meant to lead. Sam maybe. Dean probably even more so. I'll gladly help but I'm not the leader he thought I was."
"He saw your last battle," the pro-tem head told him. Xander glared at him. "In review, not in person. We all knew to stay away from that town." Xander relaxed but nodded. "As for the threats, we're not sure. They're locked and we can't unlock them until after the coronation. We have no idea why he did that."
"He probably thought there'd be time." He considered it. "How do they unlock?"
"You have to be sworn in. It's a blood key," he admitted, pointing at a box on a pedestal in the corner. Xander got up to look at it, and it did open for him, making them gasp. "We did choose well."
Xander looked at him. "No you didn't. I can't be civilized enough not to give you all a very bad name. I'm rude at times. I swear, I belch, I fart, and I do scratch myself. I like being sweaty while I work and I like my weapons, guys. Nothing in that makes me a good ruler." He sat down to look over the letter, grimacing. "Do we know anything about these demons? Like how to kill them?"
"None of us are gifted in those areas," one of the councilors stated firmly. "It doesn't go well with the holy spring's infusion."
Xander looked up. "Liking chocolate doesn't mean you can't have violent tendencies. That's something that's been bred and trained out of you guys, not something that's naturally suppressed." He went back to reading, then stood up. "Anything else I should hear *now* instead of in three weeks?" They all shook their heads. "Do we even have a military?" They shook their heads. "Then I'll see if Sam can find some stuff for you." He walked out with it, taking it to the room they had set up Dean to rework on his leg. Dean was slowly walking between a set of bars, trying hard not to brace on them but grimacing in pain. "Good job," he said, smiling when the brothers looked over. "But you look like you could use a rest."
"I will after this stroll." He finished his walk and sat down on a nearby bench, panting hard. "I still ache."
"You broke a major bone. Of course you ache," Xander said. He came over, handing Sam the letter before he squatted in front of Dean to work some of the cramps out. "You're moving more stiffly than usual. That's causing muscles to move in unfamiliar ways. Plus they've been off-duty for a good few months, Dean. Of course they're being weak for now." He smiled at the moan, patting him on the knee as he plopped onto his butt on the floor. "That's why I was chosen over all the other ones. They said that the infusion from the holy spring tended to remove violent actions in people."
Sam reread it. "Any idea on them?" Xander shook his head. Dean leaned over to read over his shoulder. "I'll see what I can find online about them. That's not a problem. Do we have a local militia?" Xander shook his head.
"We know there's mercenaries," Dean pointed out. "There's probably some demon ones."
"I'll look into that once we get the realm open. We know they can't attack before the coronation because they can't get up here any more than Buffy can."
"Which was a good point," Sam agreed. "But it's probably hurting the local realm if they have to import things like food." He put the letter into his pocket. "What else did we find out?"
"Just that. The council was meeting. They said the old lord and master was tired. Wanted to be himself again."
"You're Charlie to his Willie Wonka?" Dean asked.
"Yup. They picked you two to because we get along well and you guys cover some of my weaker areas."
"Which makes sense," Sam agreed. "Was the old lord married?" Xander shrugged. "Well I guess it'd mean you'd be less lonely and they'd have a strong ruling couple."
"Still no heirs," Dean pointed out. "That means he'd have to adopt."
Xander nodded at that. "Which seemed to happen pretty well before. I did offer to help if they wanted to find a better trained heir. I have no idea what I'm going to do yet."
"I know," Dean agreed. "We're not going to be mean but this isn't a job for a hunter."
Xander shrugged. "It's really not a job for a Xander. I'm violent and I have urges to kick people around now and then. That doesn't make for a good ruler."
"We'll figure it out," Sam soothed. Xander nodded at that. "Dean, want to try the pool?"
"Been looking forward to it. I haven't swam in a while." He got up and grabbed his crutches to hop in there slowly. His leg did ache. He stopped to stare at the pool. It was huge! Like lake huge. The water was clear but the bottom of the pool was painted dark so he couldn't really tell how deep it was. The sides weren't concrete but they were still sturdy instead of feeling squishy like a bank did. He put down his crutches and pulled off his outer clothes, showing he had on his bathing suit underneath. Xander climbed in to check for depth, coming up a minute later holding up a thumb. "Deep enough to dive in?"
"I couldn't touch bottom." He grinned. "No current either."
"That's cool." He dove over the edge and sighed in pleasure as he came up. Sam stripped down and dove in too. Their clothes were safely away from all possible splashing. Dean could relax and let his leg do what it needed to do. He swam a few laps then rolled onto his back to float. Of course that's when his phone went off. "Sammy?"
"Going." He heaved himself up the ladder, hunting down their phone. "Hey, Dad," he answered. "Sorry. Working on Dean's leg in the pool." He sat on the side, watching his brother relax. Xander was making sure Dean wouldn't drown for now. "No, he's fine. Floating at the moment. He was just walking without support for the first time. His thigh cramped so we're relaxing and thinking." He went to look at that letter, spelling out the name of the demon. "Find them for me through Mr. Giles please? Because that's why Xander was chosen. They're threatening the realm and he's the only one among all the heirs who can fight." He grinned. "I can do that. Nah, he's blissed out, floating around in the pool, Dad. Dean, Dad wants to make sure you're all right."
"I'm good," he called. He came over to the side, taking the phone. "Hey, Dad. I'm pretty good. Just a bit sore and achy. Well, Xander's field kit is a miracle. It had something for my leg. Yeah, still shaky but it'll hold me now. I'm working on it. I know, slowly build back up. That's why I'm in the huge pool having fun not putting weight on it, Dad. Yeah, that's what the letter said. Sure. Tell them we're all okay so far. Xander's still freaking out some but he went to talk to them and they said the threats were why he was chosen. Nah, we'll be fine until then. Well, we might use some research but for now we're good. Thanks, Dad. Yeah, that'd be very helpful but the realm's locked."
Xander swam over. "Have him send up some caffeine?" he suggested dryly. He leaned closer to the phone. "Hey, John. I think I'll need some stuff from the warehouses I have of confiscated stuff. No, not those. The one on eighth that she probably didn't know I have. Yeah, at those places. Tara has the key to it. I need my extended med pack because I've only got about a day left of painkillers for Dean. Plus it appears we might need some weapons from there. No, I know that but the nicer ones I have stored there. Remind her to keep Spike out of it and Buffy too. And have them send up some soda please?"
He grinned at the faint response. "Thanks. Let us know what Giles said about that demon too. Sam should be able to find a way to get online, I think, but Giles doesn't use a computer. Thank you." He swam off, letting the boys have their dad for now while he thought. He needed to do something with his body while his mind worked. How could a whole realm not have anyone to defend it? That made no sense. Even peaceful people had problem neighbors. Right?
Sam took the phone back, grinning at the complaining. "I can get online I'm fairly certain from the royal library, Dad. Yeah, that's what we need. I can ask." He got up and walked out, finding a guard looking around. "If you guys want Xander to defend the realm he's going to need some stuff from his storage area. And we need caffeine." The guard nodded slowly. "Can one of you sneak down to mine and Dean's father later on? That way he can load you up on stuff we'll need? Like the painkillers Xander has stored for Dean's leg?"
"It may be arranged."
"Can I get online in the library?"
"There's a data port in your sitting area, consort. Have you not found it?"
"No, I hadn't. Is it a data cable?" He shrugged. "Okay, I'll make sure. Walk with me. I'll be right back, Dean."
"Sure," he called. He went back to his laps. He had to avoid Xander but that was fine.
Sam walked the guard back to their suite, finding the cord. "I need a cable to go from a modem to my laptop, Dad. Data modem, yeah. The large phone plug looking one. Thanks. At least two feet to the most comfortable chair. Excellent. Please do. Thanks." He hung up. "How bad will it be?"
"Will the slayer pounce us?"
"No. Dad'll make sure she won't."
"That's fine. I'll go to him myself tonight."
"We don't have any realm defenders of any sort?"
He shrugged. "They say the infusion takes out all unworthy thoughts that way and makes us more artistic."
Sam snorted. "I've known chocolate to do a lot of things, including make people less homicidal, but not fully."
The guard shrugged. "That's what they say. Personally I'd think we could raise one fairly easily."
"Good. Then we'll consider that as a valid option." He smiled. "If Buffy does fuss and nag, just shrug it off and say Xander hasn't had caffeine in days. She'll back off and get you some extra." The guard smirked at that, heading off to tell his superiors. Sam went back to swim while watching Xander think and Dean relaxing.
John hung up. "You didn't know he had others?" he asked Buffy since she was staring at him. She had snuck in while he was calling and was now staring directly at him.
"He does. Tara has the key to keep you and Spike out of it. He needs some stuff and some caffeine. Someone'll come down to get it later."
"Can I help?"
"Nope. He said to keep you out of there." He wrote down a name, handing it to Bobby. "Sammy said to research them. They're why they picked Xander. They're threatening and they think that the chocolate spring took out all the bad urges."
"It does that to me but they always come back," Buffy said dryly. "Anything really horrible?"
"Not so far but Xander said they didn't have many weapons. Sammy needed a data cable for his laptop. Then he can get online." She looked happier at that. "They apparently haven't had soda in days."
"That poor realm. Xander's got to be growling at people."
"They're in the pool to help with Dean's PT, Buffy."
"Well, Xander nearly did go merman," she said, considering it. "Maybe it's keeping him from growling too hard."
"How does he get into those sort of things?" John asked.
She shrugged. "We don't know but it gets really annoying after a few times." She stood up. "Tara's in biology right now."
"I'll go pick her up." He grabbed his truck keys and headed out, letting Bobby handle the research and Buffy spread news around to the rest of the group. He found the right building - he had looked up the college's layout - and waited. The shy blonde witch was streaming out with a few other students, head down. He sighed. He really should say something to her about kicking her parents' asses. He got out and walked over, getting in her way. She squeaked, backing up a step. "You know I won't hurt you, Tara. Xander said you had the keys to his area on eighth?"
She nodded, pushing her hair back behind her ear. "I...I do. Why?" she asked quietly, glancing around.
"He needs some stuff for Dean's leg and some of his gear."
She grimaced but nodded. "Buffy?" she nearly whispered.
"I called the boys. She's spreading information." She nodded. "Got them on you? I've got the truck." She blushed but shook her head. "Want a ride to your dorm?"
"It's faster if I meet you back here," she said, hurrying off.
Yeah, he needed to kick whoever had done that to that girl. Right after he got his boys free. No one should be that scared of people, especially not him - unless they were evil. She came walking back and he walked her to the truck, getting in with her and taking her to the warehouses she pointed at. She waved at the guard, getting a smile and a wave back. "He bring you here?"
"Of..often. It's guarded." She led him to the right pod and opened the door, making him gasp. She smiled slightly. "Buffy would want to play with them," she said quietly.
"I'm not so sure I don't want to. He confiscated all these?" She nodded quickly, looking around. "Wow. Um, he said he needed some practical things and his stored medicine kit." She went to the right. He closed the door once he found the light switch and figured out what would go best up there. "They haven't had caffeine for days. I need to get them some soda and coffee."
She looked at him. "Are the others okay? Xander growls."
He smirked. "That's why Sammy and Xander asked, Tara." She laughed, then covered her mouth. "Tara, don't be scared of me unless you're an evil bitch. I don't hurt good witches." She sighed but nodded. "If you want I'll go beat the ass of whoever turned you this shy."
She shook her head quickly. "No thanks." She found the box she wanted, pulling it out. "All his medicine or just the basics?"
"I'd send most of it. He can always get more." She pulled out another three boxes then came over to help him pick weapons. She knew which ones Xander liked best. "No guns?"
"Are they banned up there?"
"They said that the holy spring took away all violent tendencies."
She gave him a pointed look then pointed at the back. "Wall case." She went to find bullets for them while he got out the guns back there. She even smiled at his whistle for the collection in the case. "Trunk at the base too." He got into it, choosing what would be good general purpose weapons useable by any of the three boys. Plus Tara added a few swords and two battle axes, and one smaller hand axe, and a few other odds and ends he might need. He came back to add to the pile by the door. "How are they getting it up there?"
"One of the guards."
She considered it. "We need to make a bottomless bag." He gave her a surprised look. She blushed. "My momma liked to shop," she said weakly.
"I don't disagree with the application, I'm surprised you'd know how."
She smiled. "It helps hide stuff," she said quietly. John smirked at that, getting a slight grin back. She got to work on one of the bigger boxes, letting the others go into it. "He'll know how to get them out. We can do another for soda."
"That'll work," he decided. He hefted it out to the truck. It was heavier than it should be but it should be fine. She got another empty box and put the spell on it, then they went to buy the poor guys some coffee and soda. Before they bit someone up there.
The guard appeared beside John, looking around. "The mouthy blonde one isn't here waiting to pounce?"
"No. She's at the Bronze hunting. Tara made it into two bottomless boxes." The guard gave him an impressed look. "One's full of stuff that Xander said he needed. The other has things to save people from the boys' bad mood." He pointed in the back of his truck. "There you go."
"Thank you. Did Dean add to it, sir?"
"That's in there too."
"Good. Thank you for being so prompt."
"I understand why you took *my* sons to help the boy but I'd never wish an uncaffeinated Dean on anyone," he said dryly.
The guard chuckled. "He did growl earlier." He hefted the boxes, nodding. "The spells are well done and solid. Not Rosenburg?" He shook his head. "The other is a good witch. We do appreciate her." He left, taking them to put in front of his Lord and Master, then he disappeared to watch the other witch and hunter. They were researching together. Bobby spotted him and reached for a gun. "Hold. I guard the consorts." He relaxed slightly. He bowed to Tara. "Have you found much on the problems? I was heading back soon and was willing to bring information or books to them."
She nodded, pointing at the pile of papers. "Tha...that's what we...we found so far," she stuttered.
He looked it over then nodded. "Our library has more sources but not all in languages most humans are familiar with. The Consort Samuel hasn't looked in there yet. They've been helping the Consort Dean because his thigh cramped earlier tonight. The healer was pleased, said it meant he was working himself hard enough."
Bobby stared at her then at him. "Take me to them?"
"How fast can you be packed?"
"Within minutes." He stood up. "Please."
"I can do so. It would help calm them down. While you're a hunter, you're a researcher first." He bowed to Tara. "I can bring you as well."
"Willow would get pissed," she said quietly, not looking at him.
"Go pack, Tara. If they're going to need magical support, it's best it comes from you," Bobby ordered. She gave him a startled look. "She's about to lose it, girl. Go pack." She nodded, hurrying to do that. Apparently John met her outside, he heard his truck drive off again. "C'mon. We can pick her up in a few." He nodded, following him with the books and the papers. Bobby was packed pretty quickly and he called John once he was done. "They're going to need research help. I'm taking Tara with me in case they need magic support, Winchester. I'm sure but there's a whole library and I'm better at that. Good. Make sure she packs for a few weeks. Familiar?" He shrugged, looking at the guard, who looked clueless. "Should she leave her familiar with Rosenburg?"
"What form does it take?"
"Black and white cat."
"We're not allergic as a species."
"That's fine. Yeah, John, it's fine. She can come." He hung up and finished up, coming over to grab something out of the back of his car. It went with his other two bags, getting a nod of support for that. "I know John sent some earlier."
"Possibly. We don't have many weapons on our world. They say the chocolate takes it out of us."
Bobby snorted. "Not fully I'm sure. We'll figure that out too." John came back with Tara, who had two bags and a carrier. "Food and litter?" he asked. She pointed at one bag. "Good girl. Magic books?"
She nodded. "All of ours," she assured him.
The guard took them to the portal so he could get Lord Xander some help and calmed down. Clearly he needed it. The coronation was going to be hard on him.
The End, but TBC in part 2. I promise.