Dean flipped over on his bed, looking at the snoring Xander. He didn't know why it was irritating him. It didn't any other night since he had gotten used to it. He flipped onto his other side then flipped back to stare at Xander some more. Was he under another spell? He got up to light a candle and do a telling spell on him. Nothing. So he layered another round of salt wards around him and then his own bed. He laid back down, marveling that Xander could sleep through that. Then again, Xander had slept through him and his dad trying to wake him up more than once. It was nearly a gift according to his father. He smiled when Xander flipped onto his back and spread out like a cat in the sun. Arms and legs spread out as far as he could, knees slightly bent but pointing outward. He wanted to reach over to scratch him on the stomach. Which made him stop and think. Why was he thinking about Xander that way? He was a friend, a fellow hunter. It'd be like thinking about Bobby that way. Which made him shudder.
"Demons?" Xander muttered.
"No, thinking too hard," Dean said quietly. "Go back to sleep, Xander."
Xander blinked at the window then pulled his knife and threw it at the feeling that had woken him. The demon died with a short scream of pain but it was dead and no longer hidden. "Demon," he said, nodding, falling back asleep with another snore.
Dean got up to look, taking the knife out and then tossing the semi-dead demon out of their motel room. It was regenerating, it'd live to bother them another day. It ran off crying until it walked into traffic. It wasn't going to regenerate from that taxi hitting it and breaking it in half but pity. He went back to bed, tucking Xander's knife back under his pillow. Then he laid down again and went back to figuring out why he was thinking about Xander that way. He wasn't normally like this. He had dabbled and played in the past but nothing like this. This really did need to be found out about. It had to be a spell, right?
John smiled when he woke to a good phone call from his son. "They got her cut off from the hellmouth and bound from doing more harm. I spanked her butt good for doing that to you boys." He listened to him blabber. Dean didn't usually babble or spit things out. This time he was babbling worse than Xander. He smiled. "Dean, that's not a spell, son." He laid back down, listening to his son complain that it had to be. "No, it's not. It's definitely not a spell. Not unless you felt an arrow prick on the butt?" He listened to him stop, think, then groan. "Do you want my opinion?" he asked before his son could hang up. "You and Xander fit well together. You each have a few weaknesses left. You compensate well for each other. You trained Xander to hunt with you better than we trained Sammy to hunt with you. Xander understands you in ways that no one outside the business ever will, Dean."
He listened to him rant about that. "Not saying that. I'm saying that if you do decide to do that, then I'm not going to say anything. I know Xander has some issues because of Willow but if you two want to make a go of it, I think it'll be fine. Even if you can't work it out, it won't be more than awkward for a few days. Xander's not like that. His exes who are still living are important to him and he's still very protective over both of them. I think he'll end up doing that to you anyway and you'll probably fuss and whine at him for it but it'll be good to have someone at your back who wants to watch it for the reason that they want to keep you around longer. So think, son. Do you want to be with Xander? Do you want to stay with him, sleep with him, fight with him, eat with him. Make love to him?" Dean moaned and he smiled when his son hung up. It was good he was thinking. It was a nice change. He got up and went to shower, getting ready to move on and help with that problematic case. His friend had agreed to meet him for breakfast. He finally left, going to where he was waiting. "Sorry, small problem with a witch last night."
"You got hit with something?"
"No, she cursed the hunter Dean and I are working with so he wouldn't have any gay thoughts. It hit Dean too. It was so strong women in Las Vegas were paying them. They thought they were working boys."
The other hunter laughed. "Dean probably could. This other one cuter than Sammy?"
"A bit. About Dean's height. He had some experience but the same witch tried to kill him so he had to leave his former area and I agreed to firm up some of the teaching he missed by training himself." That got a nod and a smile. "They're a good team. Xander works well with Dean. Balances out his moods."
"From the slayer's team?" John smirked and nodded. "That's where he went?"
"After it took Bobby a week to clean what she did off him." He sipped the coffee waiting on him. "What's going on?"
"The kitchen," he complained. "We know it's a spirit of some sort. We can't figure out where it came from. There's never been any deaths. None of us have any associated with us. It's getting past the salt wards, John, and I have no clue."
"Imp or a brownie?"
"Could be but I have no idea how to handle that."
"I do." He grinned and dug into the breakfast his buddy had his cook make for him. "I see the wife's still cooking."
"She's damn good at it," he said happily. Once John was done, he took his new cup of coffee into the kitchen to figure out what was going on.
Dean rolled over to find Xander up and drying his hair on his bed the next morning. "Hey."
"Hey." He looked over from under his towel. "You slept a long time."
"I called dad earlier and went back to bed." He yawned and stretched then sat up, looking at his friend. "So, how're we doing this?"
"I can get a new car."
"Would it be worth it?" Dean asked.
Xander considered it. "I've still got four bags, Dean. You only travel with two usually."
"Some of yours can go into the special compartment or under the back seat, Xander." He nodded at that. "It'd keep the money there." He went to look. "Are you sure you want to keep the battle axe?"
"It's my baby, Dean. Like the car's yours."
Dean nodded, looking at him. "Then we'll deal with it, Xander." He looked him over. He was in sweat pants and shirtless. "What did you want to do today?"
"I don't care. I saw the sights before you got here. You want to? There's a coaster on top of a casino."
Dean grinned. "We can do that." That got a happy smile back and Xander wiggled. "Caffeine?"
"Not yet. Waiting on you to get up so we can eat."
"Let me change." He went to do that since he had showered last night. He came out to find Xander in tighter jeans. "Going for your record?"
"Need to do laundry before we leave."
"We can do that tonight. We'll leave tomorrow. Let's leave the car for a few hours. It's too early for the local demons to be out and we've both got minor weapons on us." Xander smiled and nodded, heading out with him to ride that dangerous looking coaster. After that they took in a few of the free shows. Xander ran into a demon who begged him for a bit of help so they went to break up the demon gang fight by appearing out of the alley. The demons stared then scattered like they were Gods. The female they were fighting over thanked them and left them alone. "Guess the spell's broken," Dean quipped with a grin. He saw Xander's hesitation and pulled him closer to kiss. "I have no idea why I'm doing this."
"Me either. Damn Willow."
He pulled back to look at him. "She held them down, Xander."
"Yeah and then they backed up and now it's like a waterfall. I didn't want to stare at your butt this morning."
"It's not that they're suddenly here. It's that you're able to acknowledge them." Xander slumped but nodded. "Am I that bad?"
Xander frowned. "No. Not bad. Very good. Which is kinda strange for my usual tastes."
Dean grinned. "Thank you. Hopefully I won't turn evil either." He walked him off, going to simply walk around with him for a bit. Finally he looked at him. "Xander, I'm just as confused as you are. I've played a bit but it was like a thunderbolt this morning." Xander beamed. "If you make me be more mushy I'm going to have to beat your ass."
Xander blew a kiss. "If you want but I don't think I like spanking games."
"We'll have to see, won't we?" he teased back. "Anything you want to do today beyond the laundry?"
"There's an arcade I want to visit." He pulled him over to catch a cab and gave him the name of the place, getting a nod. Xander paid for their admission then let Dean see. "It's got the worlds biggest collection of skeeball machines and a nearly human sized whack a mole game." He drug him around to play on the various games. Dean beat him at skeeball but he killed him in whack a mole. Then they went to play a race car game with real sized seats and pedals, plus a steering wheel. It was good and they had a lot of fun. Even if the teenagers in the arcade were giving them dirty looks for beating their high scores.
Dean crowed when he won the last match of the race game. "I knew I could beat your butt, Xander. That's why you're not driving my car!"
"Maybe I should get my own then. Make you chase me," he teased.
"Too expensive." He walked them out, letting Xander get them two large pizzas for the night. They sent out the laundry to a place that would have it ready in the morning then settled in to watch pay per view movies. It was...nice. Even if Dean didn't understand why or want to think about why it was still nice.
Xander looked out the window, his iPod's headphones in his ears to block out whatever Dean was playing. Which was kinda interesting. Dean turned down the radio a few notches and Xander gave him an odd look. "You can't hear yours."
"I can so," he shouted, showing how loud his was.
Dean took the iPod and the headphones, tossing them into the backseat. "You need to learn to appreciate classic music, Xander."
"Giles tried that. I still can't stand classical music."
"Not classical music, classic music. Music that helped define a few generations."
Xander looked at him. "I like it if I can sing along in my off-key way."
"Some of mine you can. This you'll learn to enjoy more."
"I have comedy playing." He reached back to shut it off. "Want to play roadtrip games?" he asked after a few minutes.
"No. Where are we headed? Brief me." Xander giggled. "Not that way. Mind out of the gutter, Harris."
Dean smirked at him. "That's right, all Winchester all the time. What're we looking for?"
"Something that's been digging up a cemetery and stealing bodies. They're saying it's a necrophile. I'm thinking it's a carrion eater or like the guy who was building his resurrected brother the perfect wife and wanted Cordelia's head."
"You guys had someone pulling a Frankenstein?"
"Very. But he was good. He rebuilt his brother when he died. Still less creepy than the guy who had a thing against the formal dances so he was training a few hellhounds with _Carrie_ and a few other horror movies so they'd attack anyone in formal gear. Nearly got the prom. Buffy had to do a quick change back to semi fabulous for it."
Dean shook his head slowly. "You guys were insane."
"Yeah. Did you steal Giles' watchers' journal? He called looking for it."
"No. Dad might've. If so he'll send copies. Any ghosts?"
"One set of reliving poltergeists. Buffy and Angel broke the cycle when they were made to repeat it. They moved on."
Dean grinned. "Usually we have to salt and burn someone's corpse or whatever they're hanging onto."
Xander shrugged. "They wanted a replay. They'd done it a few times. A young female teacher, her senior in high school lover. She ended up trying to do the right thing and break it off. He shot her then himself." Dean shuddered. "It's like some strange _Romeo and Juliette_ without the dresses and tights."
"I bet. No others?"
"A few nightmare demons. Hansel and Gretel's anti-witch demon." Dean pulled over to stare at him. "It showed up. Got the people in town paranoid about witches after the demon manifested as two kids and they got supposedly killed. Buffy's mom formed MOO to let the parents have a way to speak out about witches. We nearly had a burning. They tried to burn Buffy, Willow, and Amy Madison at the stake. Amy turned herself into a rat and she's still a rat. We got them free and the demon got killed. It was the demon behind the Hansel and Gretel fairytale."
Dean gaped then shook his head. "I knew most myths are based on some reality."
Xander grinned. "Some more than most. Willow's parents trashed her magic collection."
"Damn." He shook his head. "How did you deal with that?"
"I have no clue," Xander admitted. "At the time, all of it was deal with it and relax until the next one. We had to deal. Who else would?"
"Good point I guess. Is that why you took your roadtrip?"
"I had wanted to get out and see things before settling down in a crappy job," Xander admitted, shifting more to be facing him better. "Then some unkind demon blew up my engine on the edge of Oxnard and I ended up working at a strip club called the Fabulous Ladies Nite Club. That's where I met your dad. He was being frustrated by a ghost so he came in for a beer or five. We had a bucket special that night."
"I've done those and I remember seeing yours." He smirked. "I can't imagine Dad in a strip club."
"We talked at the bar. At least until the vampire tried to eat one of the dancers. Then I pulled out my crossobw and got him. Your dad was highly amused. He saved me later on from a succuba that I couldn't get off me."
Dean grinned. "Sounds more like him. The club any good?"
"Hell no. It was so scummy. The owner didn't care if the vamps ate the girls. He tried to blackmail me onto the stage for a third time. He encouraged a few girls who were making poor tips to give more than blows in the back. We were the slime at the bottom of the strip club circuit. Our girls were the scar team."
Dean shuddered. "I've been in a few of those." He grinned. "Did you have fun on the pole?"
"Nope. My lack of dancing skills showed up spectacularly that night. I didn't get a single tip until I got down to my speedo. Then women tried to grope. I ended up with literal bruises on my balls from them and the boss told me to quit whining. Suggested I could leave faster if I went to give blows too. I walked out my last night because he was trying to blackmail me and did two demon porn tapes. Girl on me, nothing else. That got me enough money to afford a clunker so I could get home."
Dean shook his head. "That's not something I want to try."
"You can dance. He told me to focus on the people waving the most money instead of the whole room when I tried to freeze up. Then he pushed me onto the stage."
"I still don't want to have to go there."
"Not even for an undercover?" Xander teased.
"No, not even for that. Did you?"
"Swim team. Speedo. Buffy and Cordelia both gaped in awe."
Dean snickered. "Girls can do that if they don't know more than one of them."
"Willow did too." He let out a sigh. "Did I go wrong?"
Dean popped him one on the arm. "No. That's her wrongness, not yours, Xander."
Xander nodded. "If you say so." He relaxed again. "Now what, captain? Warp speed again?"
"No Star Trek jokes. I'm so much better than them."
Xander smirked. "I don't know. Riker got all the bitches."
"Yeah and he was a bit sleazy too. I'm not." He smirked back. "Any favorite carrion eater?"
"I want to look at the graves before I decide if a human dug it or not." That got a nod and Dean got them back onto the road. They headed off. "Hey, Dean, if I'm feeling creeped out by this stuff and so are you, what're we doing about it?"
"We take it as it comes, Xander. I don't do chick conversations."
"Sorry, I was raised by Willow. There's some dress movies I can quote."
"We're fixing that. Soon." He gave him a dark look. "Before you warp me."
"I'm betting warp speed sex is fun," Xander teased.
Dean pinched him on the thigh, getting a yelp. "Bad joke. What did my shirt say?"
"I honk for hookers. I'm a natural brunette, wanna check. I like them tough, tie me up and lick me, I sing the Star Spangled Banner." Dean cackled at that one. "Think we can get Dad to wear it?"
"Oooh, if we do, I'm so programming in the message. It'll take me a while to get it perfect but we'll need the time to plan anyway."
Xander smirked at him. "The best pranks always take plans. The last prank I pulled with Jesse nearly closed down the Sunnydale library. The librarian was mean so we pranked her a lot. The last one we used fishing string to make some cookies Willow made for us move. Fish cookies. She was phobic of goldfish. So we had wiggling goldfish cookies. She shrieked and had a panic attack and nearly set the library on fire trying to kill them." Dean cackled at that. "Jesse confessed to his mother later that night so we got yelled at but she got fired and the next one tried to beat us to death with a rod so we broke it on her one day and she had to leave too. Reminded me of the one teacher in book five of Harry Potter."
Dean snickered. "I got the audio tape during one healing layover at a motel. We've met more than one like her and Fudge. It seems to be epidemic in some towns."
"They want the power so they find a place to get it," Xander agreed.
"What did your dad do?"
"Plant worker. Mom stayed at home with her check for being a drunk."
"If we had found you earlier, we would've taken you with us."
"I know. If John knew what I was going back to he wouldn't have let me. We talked the few times he came in." He looked at the town they were passing through. "Wonder if this one's evil too?"
"Most small towns are at least slightly pretty. Yours was like a man-eating plant. It has pretty flowers to draw prey in. Most towns stay pretty so people keep living there and pay property taxes."
"Different sort of feeding," Xander decided. He shifted and leaned back. "Wake me if I yelp."
"I will. Your snoring won't cover up the music."
"Dude, you snore louder than some lawnmowers." Xander chuckled but closed his eyes and went to sleep against the window a few minutes later. Dean grinned and turned up the music to cover the snoring. Xander wouldn't care. Much.
Dean paced back and forth, making Xander watch him. "That was dug by a human. A few weren't."
"A few the cops got down into and messed around so we can't find tool marks," Xander corrected. He pulled Dean down beside him. "They're too neatly dug. They dug beside the coffin. There's no way an animal dug that far and didn't leave debris." Dean nodded, getting that. "Not saying that an animal wasn't the one who got the present." He and Dean shared a look. "Hellhounds are the top of my list but it could be a human keeping one."
Dean nodded, thinking about that. "How would you know?"
"Ask the butcher who buys the most meat?"
Dean shook his head. "Not unless they want to brag about a recent sale and how good it was. Stake out?"
Xander looked at him. "There's a bookshop across the street. We can hang out there for a few days probably but it'll start to look odd."
Dean stared at him for a minute. "You're writing down about your great roadtrip, Xander." Xander stared back, looking unamused. "You are."
Xander shook his head. "I suck at it and if someone asks mine's going to look like a kid wrote it."
"That's what polish is for and a good reason to look at books on writing."
"Can't you? I'll walk around while you do the book thing? I hate books."
"Fine, I'll write it up, you go look around like you're a tourist."
"I am a tourist," he said dryly, giving him a smartass look. "Never been here before."
"Which is why so many things still want you," Dean shot back with an evil smirk.
"Keep it up, buy your own dinner and I'll have to call Anya for some fun."
"Do that and I'm making you sleep outside."
"Is the car that comfy?"
"Not in the car. Outside in the park," Dean said firmly. "No demons in the car."
"Yes, Dean," he sighed, slumping some. Dean gave him a shoulder nudge. "What if it's hellhounds? She wouldn't let us get near them."
"Shoot them with silver then cut off their heads and burn them."
"Oh." He nodded. "And if it's a human?"
"Handle whatever they're doing then hand them to the cops."
Xander nodded. "Okay, I can do those." He looked outside, frowning at the people he could see staring at the motel. He got up to look better, then casually walked out, getting into the trunk to get into his second bag. He shut the trunk, finding an officer next to him. "Problems, Officer? I noticed a lot of people doing the buddy system around the motel."
"We don't usually get strangers here."
"We're passing through. Sightseeing as we go. Roadtrip to relieve stress sort of thing. My friends are cranky bitches and Dean helped me get away from them."
"I see. Why were you at the cemetery?"
"I have a hobby of looking at really old monuments. My uncle carves headstones and I used to watch him when I was younger. So I go to see the really old ones and see if they're that different and how they held up. Did you know some used to be made of wood instead of stone?"
"I hadn't. We don't have any that old."
"I saw a few from the Civil War era," he said, grinning a bit more brightly. "Local heros or just sons that were in the wrong place?"
"No clue," he admitted. "The second is usually true, even for heros."
"It can be, yeah." He turned to lean against the trunk, smiling at the people staring at him. "Hi, I'm Xander. We're on a stress breaking road trip while Dean works on a novel about it." They moved off. He looked at the officer. "I saw something in the paper about the cemetery. Did we get near the investigation? We didn't mean to."
"No. You passed by a few." He stared at him. "Where are you from, Xander?"
"Sunnydale. It's a few hours outside LA." The officer looked alarmed so he grinned, holding out a hand. "Xander Harris, formerly the slayer's white knight." The cop groaned. "I'm still on a road trip. Want me to check into it?"
"No. We're pretty sure we know who it is."
"Zombies, Frankenstein stuff, or carrion eaters?" Dean asked as he joined them.
"Zombies. He's trying really hard but not having much luck. We can't prove it enough to get a warrant to arrest him."
Xander smirked. "I've met a few." The cop shuddered. "Want someone to tape the cemetery?"
"We don't have the funds for that." Xander held up his video camera. "You're really road tripping?"
"Yup. Dean and his dad saved me from a witch that was driving me insane so I'm on a vacation."
"Interesting." He looked at the camera then at him. "We expect him nearer to the east end of the cemetery tonight." They both nodded. "If you catch him, you film him and call us so we can catch him in the act."
"Sure." Dean grinned. "Any other problems he can handle for you?"
"Nah. Though, he might wanna say he's from somewhere different. His town's got rumors spread about it."
"All part of the job," Xander said dryly. "The military decided to leave when they heard and showed up too." He walked off shuddering. Xander handed Dean the camera. "We need a new tape so we can hand it over if necessary."
"I'll hit the Wal-mart we passed a few miles back to get one. Get me a burger and fries? With onions."
"Yes, Dean." He walked off to do that while Dean drove off to get the tape. Xander took the food to the cemetery, eating his on the way there. There was a nice fountain/pond area that had some cover and was in the east side of the cemetery. Good enough coverage and easy views of everywhere but the small hill behind him. He looked at the pond. "Here, pond monster," he called quietly. No answer so he settled into his chosen spot. He checked the pond again, no pond monster yet. So he was happy. He turned and found a demon dog sniffing the bag. Not a hellhound, they were smarter. This one was like you saw on _Ghostbusters 1_. He held out a fry, letting it sniff then scarf it. "Are you the gatekeeper?" he asked it. It sniffed him then let out a happy sounding growl. Xander handed him another fry. The dog settled in front of him, scarfing whatever Xander let him have. He whistled when he spotted Dean sneaking his way. The waving burger got his attention. Got the attention of the dog too. It tried to jump to get it with a yip of pleasure.
Dean rushed over and found the dog eating his dinner. "What is that?"
"Hungry. It came to eat our dinner for us." Dean groaned, sitting down to look at the dog. "Doesn't it look like the one from _Ghostbusters_?"
"Yeah. A bit too much. Think it's a changed human?"
"I don't know but if Gozer starts to come up out of the pond, I'm running."
"You and me both."
"Though, thinking about it, Jonathan might be able to build a proton pack."
"Heavy, expensive, single use toys, Xander. No."
"Fine." He gave the dog one last fry then ate the last one. "All gone." It growled. Xander's eyes narrowed as he growled back. "My pack." The dog whined and moved closer, sniffing at Dean. Dean patted it on the head. The dog rolled onto his back to get belly scratches. "He's a happy puppy," Xander decided, helping pet him. "People."
Dean set up the camera to make sure it was taping and checked it since it wasn't the ones they wanted. "No picture?"
Xander looked then took off the lens cap. "Sorry."
"Not an issue." He let Xander set it up, taped the dog for a second before checking it. This time it had a picture and sound. He erased that section and went back to the beginning of the tape. He checked their position. "The area behind us?"
"Older from the view earlier. The only fresh graves I saw were to the right by the maple tree." Dean looked then nodded. The puppy barked so they petted it some more.
"Go home," Dean ordered. It growled. He snarled. It yelped and backed up, shrinking down onto its belly to give him a pitiful look. He sighed. "You give me that look now and then."
"I learned it to counter Willow's resolve face," Xander joked, petting it. "There's no more food, puppy. Your master should have some." It whined pathetically.
"We are not keeping the dog. I will tell Dad on you."
Xander looked at him. Then at the puppy. "I know someone who would make you so many burgers you'd burst." The puppy gave him an interested look so he pulled out something he had kept in his wallet for a while. "Sniff this, find her. She'll feed you burgers and pet you like the puppy you are. She'll love you and you can even help her hunt bad things." It sniffed then disappeared.
"Who did you send it to?"
"Buffy. She could use a pet. Joyce won't mind."
Dean gave him an odd look then shook his head. "Anything left in the bag?"
"Nope. He scarfed the rest of mine and yours. Didn't like the onions, kept rubbing his nose on the ground."
"I'll have to remember that." Xander's phone buzzed. The vibrate function made a bit of noise. "Buffy?"
"Giles." He opened it. "Yelp at me." He listened to the complaints. "He's a happy puppy, Giles. He wanted our dinner and belly scratches. He's a good puppy. Well, pinning Spike shows that it can hunt and Buffy could use a pet. Joyce would love to feed it. No, it let us scratch its belly and everything. It's a good dog."
"Not my doing," Dean said next to the phone. "Sorry."
"It ate Dean's dinner and the rest of mine for me. Liked burgers but hated raw onions." He smiled and hung up on the new complaint about what they had fed a demon dog. "It pinned Spike and Buffy was worried but the dog just lapped her and sat there giving her the play fetch with me look. So she's keeping it."
Dean shook his head quickly, texting the problem to his father. Who set back a laugh. He heard another person and looked up, watching him look around. Dean started to tape him while Xander waited to call the local cops. The guy knelt at a grave and said something then pulled out a small shovel. They waited until he had actually started to dig then Xander called and Dean kept taping. He got a good bit of film of the officer pouncing him into the grave. They got up and headed over, Dean handing over the tape once the guy was in cuffs. "Who had the demon dog?"
"The minister. It likes him."
"It liked our dinner better. Xander sent it to a friend to play with her." They walked off together. That had been an easy first job. They'd get Xander used to their sort of hunting instead of patrol with a bit of coaching but he'd be fine.
Though Dean did take some of the Vegas money to the burger place to get himself something to eat. He was even nice enough to get Xander some fries.
Six months later things were going along well. Dean and Xander had a comfortable working relationship. The rest of the world wasn't helping any by layering on multiple stresses at once. Which was why Dean was pacing back and forth in their motel room. "His phone was canceled," he told Xander. "That's not like Dad."
Xander pulled Dean closer to look at him. They had gotten to the cuddling and groping stage but no further because they were usually tired when they fell into bed together. "Dad's fine, Dean. He's been fine. There's got to be a good reason."
Dean sighed but nodded, settling onto the bed. "Why have his phone turned off?"
"Maybe he didn't find a place to pay the bill."
"Online, any library and he could do that."
Xander stroked his back. "He's fine, Dean. I'm sure he's fine."
Dean looked at him. "You're uneasy. Why?"
"I got a call from Giles. One of the geeks shot Tara." Dean slumped. "I need to go back for the funeral."
Dean nodded. "Go. I'll handle it."
Xander stared at him. "You could come with me. Not like we've got a job to rush off and do. No one to rush off and save."
Dean shook his head. "I can't stand going to funerals."
Xander nodded. "Okay." He stood up. "Then I'll head there tonight. You sure you'll be fine?"
"I'll be fine. If I have to, I'll call or see what's going on."
Xander nodded. "Okay. Remember, cellphones don't always work in Sunnydale and things have been going wrong recently."
"I heard. Be safer than usual?" he asked dryly. Xander had this bad habit of getting into strange sorts of trouble that no one else seemed to be able to find. Like geeky burger boys taking him hostage because he didn't like onions but talking himself out with geek fandom stuff and confusing the cops so much they thought it was his fault and tried to arrest him.
"I'll try. Willow's got to be destroyed right now."
Dean nodded. "We'll see what we can do." He gave him a kiss, hard and fast, then let him go. "Happy renting a car."
"Oooh, yay me," Xander said dryly. He walked out, heading to grab the money bag to get a good bit out. He walked back into the room to grab his other bags, looking at Dean. "I'm leaving the cash. I'm only taking a few bundles." That got a nod. "Don't spend it all on beer and strippers."
Dean smirked. "Only the pretty ones."
"As long as you win most of it back then." He headed out, going to the local rental company to get a car. That took a few minutes and he was off. Thankfully he had that prepaid Mastercard so that had worked for the rental company.
Dean flopped backward onto his bed, covering his face. "I hate hunting alone." He tried his father's phone again. Still an out of service message. That was not a good sign. He called the others he knew. "Bobby, Dean. Dad's phone is off?" He listened to him try to keep him calm. Bobby would help him look. "Thanks. No, he's off to see Willow since her girlfriend was just killed. Shot her. He went to see if they needed help and attend the funeral. I'm in Iowa. I don't know. He was headed for California the last I knew. No, out of service message. Thanks, Bobby." He hung up and packed up, heading to turn in the keys. He could start heading that same way. His father could be in trouble and it'd be closer to where Xander was going just in case he needed help.
Xander walked into the Magic Box, seeing the mess. "Aw, shit," he muttered. Giles moaned at him, letting him find him so he could help him to his feet. "You okay?"
"No." He put his hands on Xander's head, passing the positive energy he had been loaded up on by the witches in Devon. "You must stop her, Xander. She sucked dark magic from the books." He stared into his eyes. "She's in pain. Tara was her soulmate. She killed Warren, flayed the skin from his body while alive." He swallowed. "She hurt Buffy and Dawn."
Xander nodded. "Where is she heading?"
"The cliffs. There's an old temple. If she pulls it up, it can destroy everyone."
Xander nodded. "Got it. Rest." He headed out, stopping to get the car. He thought on the way out, steeling himself for this one. He didn't want to have to hunt Willow. He really didn't. He parked as close as he could get and got out, getting into the gear bag for a few knives and a gun. Just in case. Plus things to bless her if something did happen. He locked the car and hiked off where he could feel the bad magic starting. He felt the earth shift and groaned, speeding up to a jog. He found her and stared at her back. "Hey, green-eyed girl." She spun to look at him. "What are we doing?"
"Making them feel like I do!" she shrieked, throwing a spell at him.
He groaned and nearly doubled over from the pain but made himself straighten up after a few seconds. He moved closer. "No, Willow. I can't let you do this."
"You don't know what it's like!" she shouted.
He looked at her. "Yes I do. I lost you when you went evil." She lunged at him, throwing more spells. They hurt like hell. He was in a lot of pain but he still grabbed her when she got close enough and held her still. She screamed and ranted, but oh well. He pinned her better and pulled out the blessing materials, starting on one to help her. She was still crying and screaming but it was necessary. He looked over as Ethan appeared. "Get the Devon witches. They were helping Giles."
"We need to put that back," he said, pointing at the spire that had pierced the ground.
"I'll sit watch until we can. Get her some help, Ethan. Grief drove her to suck black magic."
"I felt." He came over to finish knocking her out, helping the boy tie her up with plastic cuffs. "Ripper is on his way."
"Can you send it back down?"
"Only black magic can."
Xander stood up with a wince and a hiss. "She hit me with plenty. How do I do it?"
Ethan pulled him closer to look at him. "It could kill you."
"So will the spells if I don't dump the energy she sent at me. How?" He put him into the proper spot and handed him the right incantation. He had the book in his pocket in case he had to do it himself. Xander read it, concentrating on dumping the magic she had hit him with back into the temple. It sank with a shudder that he felt in his soul. He fell to his knees panting, holding his stomach. "Ethan, worse problems," he moaned.
"Did you get a flash?" Xander nodded. "Ripper is a mile out." He checked Willow then him. "You'll survive."
Xander looked at him. "Put me in LA, not Sunnydale's hospital if I need it." Ethan nodded, letting him pass out.
Giles ran up to them. "He did it?"
"He sent the temple back down with the energy she hit him with. He said to send him to LA and he had a flash while he did it."
"Dear Lord," Giles muttered.
"Below," Ethan agreed. "He knocked her out and was doing a blessing when I appeared." A few more witches appeared. "He helped her."
One looked at him then at Ethan. "He's blood soaked."
Giles looked at her. "That's Xander. He stopped her when she knocked me out."
"He needs to be drained then."
"She's done it to him before," Ethan pointed out. He checked on the boy. "Ripper, I believe he's bleeding."
"Take him to Cordelia in LA for me please?" Ethan nodded, taking him with him. He looked at the witches. "They've had to do this before thanks to her."
"We heard. He needed to be drained and healed. We'll let you check on him later, Rupert. Let us have her."
"You'll help her? It was grief. She was doing so much better." They nodded and took Willow with them. He headed back to get Xander's rental car to his place then called LA. "Cordelia? Oh, Wesley. How is Xander?" He listened to his report and that they were heading to the ER with him. "Thank you. Should I call Dean? Let me know. I'll head down tonight after I clean up a few messes. She sucked black magic, Wesley. The Devon Coven said he needed to be drained again. Ethan said she threw multiple spells at him. I'll come do that tonight. Let me set some guards on the store." He hung up and called Buffy and her dog. They and Spike came to help him. "She's in England with the coven," he told Buffy. "Xander stopped her."
"Did he ride off again?" Spike sneered.
"She injured him too," Buffy said. Giles nodded. "Badly?"
"Ethan took him to LA for me. He's in the emergency room. She sent a good portion of the magic at him." They both groaned. "Watch the shop. Call Dean." He headed off. Thankfully his car was a nicer one than his old Citreon.
Dean answered his phone. "Yeah?" He listened. "He going to be okay? Need me to bring up the paperwork we have?" He listened then nodded. "When he's out, send him to Bobby. He can wear the bad magic out again," he told him. He listened to the whole story, wincing. Black magic tainting Xander was not a good thing after the last time. "How long?" He nodded. Intestinal bruising and bleeding was not a quickly healed thing. "Okay, I'm in the same state. He's where?" He wrote down the name, number, and room number of the hospital. "Did you tell them I'd be calling? Do they need my paperwork?" He nodded, making a note of that. "I'll find a public fax and send it, Giles. Watch my boy for me or have someone sit guard on him. Things are still drawn to him. Does he want me there? He nearly shot me when he had a cold the last time." He smiled.
"Of course. No, trying to find out where my father disappeared to. His phone's been disconnected and we have no idea where he is. I haven't heard from him in nearly a month." He nodded. "I'll visit and let him tell me off and tell me to go away then. Sure, probably tomorrow night. Thanks. Is she going to be okay?" He sighed in relief. "Thanks, Giles." He repacked and headed for the car, stopping at the local library to fax that information to the hospital. Then he drove off like someone was chasing him. As he drove he called Bobby. "It's Dean. No, further issues. Xander went to stop Willow. Whatever that was, was her in her grief. Her girlfriend died, Bobby. She cleaned up for her. Giles said she sucked black magic, flayed the guy who killed her while he was alive, then went to pull up some ancient temple on the cliffs outside town. Xander stopped her so she threw a lot of dark magic at him. In the hospital. The stuff she threw bruised and hurt his intestines and lungs. Giles had him sent to LA. I'm heading. Can I send him to you again once he's out?" He smiled. "Thanks, Bobby. No, still no word. I'll let you know when I find out more. Thank you." He hung up and sped up as he pulled onto the interstate. He didn't really care for speeding tickets but no one was stopping him this time.
Dean looked at Xander, smiling a bit. "Good painkillers?"
"Yeah," he croaked. "I feel like shit and I had a vision."
Dean leaned down. "Does Giles know?"
"Yeah. He's looking at why something beneath us was devouring us." He blinked heavily then yawned. "Find Dad?"
Xander pulled him down to kiss. "Don't hunt alone. You'll end up in here too. Or worse. They'll make you eat jell-o."
Dean smiled. "I won't. I don't know where to go. I left an email for him but I haven't heard back from that yet." He patted him on the cheek. "Need anything?"
Xander shook his head. "If something comes up, go find Sammy? It'll be weeks before I'm out of here."
"I can do that. After here, you go see Bobby. I left you a greyhound ticket with the nurses to put into your stuff since you were traveling when you got attacked." Xander nodded. "Giles has your bags in his closet." He stroked his head again. "Bobby said he'll be waiting to help you drain it again."
"Sure. He was nice and he cooked pretty good." He yawned again, squeezing Dean's hand when he tried to move. "Willow?"
"In Devon, Xander. Giles said they made her drain it off back into the books." Xander nodded, falling asleep holding his hand. The nurse coming in gave him an odd look. "He's my partner."
"I don't care," she said. "This isn't a religious hospital, sir." She checked him over. "He'll be out for a few hours if you wanted to do something and come back."
He looked at her. "Xander has some very graphic, violent nightmares. Sedation doesn't matter and they'll come. He'll fight, kick, and bite."
She nodded, making a note on the chart. "We didn't find any usual drugs in his system."
"Doesn't work for him. Why bother." That got another nod. "Advil. Lots and lots of it for his back since he threw it out last month."
"I'll let them know that. He should be out in a few weeks. Are you staying local?"
"We're this way because my father's missing. I left a ticket with the desk nurse to put into his stuff so he could get to a friend's house for recuperation if I wasn't here."
"Okay." She made a note of that. "I'm assuming you're going to be calling?"
"Every day at the very least."
"Call after five. His doctor does rounds at four, before his golf game."
"I can do that." He wrote down his number on the chart. "That's my cellphone. It'll reach me nearly anywhere."
She nodded. "If there's a drastic change we'll let you know."
"Any change. Or if you need help with the nightmares." She nodded, leaving them alone.
"Mushy," Xander accused, eyes squinted open. "You're going chick like and you said that's my job."
Dean leaned down to kiss him. "Shut up, Xander. Dad said you're my wife. I'm allowed to worry about your stupid ass."
"Had to be done. She got Giles even though he was hyped by the Devon people to get her calmed down."
"You didn't have to lower the temple."
Xander yawned. "I did. Wouldn't go back down without it. Someone else could've used it." He puckered his lips, getting another kiss. "When I get out of here, we're having a night in a bubble bath and then you're making me scream."
"Sure. After Bobby's done with you." Xander nodded. "Any other commands?" he asked dryly.
"Go find Sammy. Have him help you find Dad."
"If I can't find him in a few weeks I will." Xander nodded, letting Dean pet him back to sleep. He had found out a while back that Xander slept better if he was being touched. A male came in. "He's trying to sleep."
"I'm going to be doing his physical therapy." He looked at him. "He's in good shape."
"My dad's a Marine. We work with him."
"I can see that. Anything other than his back?"
"He twisted wrong last month. Should be fine. He isn't taking advil anymore. He does have a high pain tolerance. He won't complain more than an ow and then he'll beat you if you nag or offer help."
The PT nodded. "I've seen others." He checked his limbs. "He should be fine."
"Thank you." He looked at Xander again. "Let me go eat, Xander. I'll be back tonight." Xander blew a kiss and tried to curl up on his side. "He likes to sleep curled up."
"It's a protective position." He helped him then they walked out together. "We have your number? The nurse said you're looking for your father." Dean nodded. "If I need to know anything I'll call." He shook his hand and watched Dean head out for lunch and to talk to the local contacts. He looked at the nurses. "It's so cute when tough guys worry."
She nodded. "Very. I'm told he has violent nightmares."
"I'll keep that in mind if I have to wake him up. Any idea why?"
"No. He didn't tell me a cause. We'll probably find out." She finished making notes and let him make his own before he left.
Xander slowly got out of the cab holding his stomach, dragging his bags out of the trunk. Bobby clearly wasn't here. He paid the driver and watched him leave. Xander hiked his things up to the porch and sat down on the lounger out there. He fell asleep on it. Bobby would wake him up eventually.
When Bobby got back a few hours later, he smirked and poked the boy with his foot to make him wake up with a gasp. "Sauna, Xander. Same as last time."
"Not allowed to get the stitches wet for another two days. Not fully dissolved yet," he said tiredly, yawning some. "Any word on Dad?"
"No. Not yet. Dean and Sammy hooked up for this weekend." That got a nod. "How bad?"
"I have no idea what she did but seven spells later and my insides are bruised. My intestines had a few places that had minor bleeding from the bruises. My lung too. They said it looked like a wrecking ball going full force hit me in the stomach without anything between us. It hurt like hell, Bobby."
"Been there," he admitted. He patted him on the head. "Let me set up a containment area for you."
Xander pulled up his necklace to show him. "A witch Angel works with gave it to me. It'll hold in any taint for another six days she thinks."
"More than enough time. Let's get you to bed. I'll let Dean know you made it." Xander grinned and let himself be helped to the nice, soft, normal smelling bed. The other bags got dropped in there. Then Bobby finished bringing in the groceries. The poor guy looked like hell warmed up. He went to check on him then called Dean. "It's me. Your boy's here. Looks like a corpse that's up and walking around. Still tired. Stitches will be gone in a few days so we can get to work then. No, it'll be a good few days with the taint on him, Dean. Nearly as bad as last time. Where's the witch?" He nodded at that information. "Thanks. Sure, he's napping. Collapsed on the porch since I wasn't here. Groceries." Dean laughed at that. "Heard anything?" Dean told him what they had found out so far. "Interesting." He nodded at the words. "You'll find him when he wants you to. He probably thought it'd be too dangerous, Dean. You know how your father thinks." He smiled and nodded, hanging up. They'd be fine. Sammy could do the work until Xander got back.
Xander found where Dean and Sam were staying when Bobby finally let him leave, smiling at the car. "Hey, baby," he said, patting the trunk. "Your master inside?" He walked up the stairs to the motel room, knocking until it was answered. "Someone told me your brother's taking my napping spot."
"I'd never fuck my brother, Xander." He pulled him in, kissing him. "No car?"
"Greyhound. Stuff's in a locker."
"Let's get it then we'll come back and do this. Bubble bath?"
"I deserve it after having my first vision." They headed to get his stuff, letting Xander tuck them into their usual places, including moving one of Sam's bags. "Cash?"
"Under the back seat. Stuck. Sammy did something." Xander groaned. "We'll fix it later, when we've got a few." Xander crawled in there, coming out with a bundle. "That'll work. Dinner?"
"Please feed me. I had chips on the bus from South Dakota. By the way, Bobby said he loves you for sending me. I had to get an IRS agent who was snooping around."
"Minion. Trying to take down the hunters." He smirked. "Fixed however." They went to order dinner then headed up to reconnect. Dean pulled Xander down with him onto his bed, kissing and nibbling on him to make sure he was all right. "Dean, please?"
"If you want." He kept nibbling, making it good for Xander. It was their first time and Xander was more girl like than Sammy sometimes. He'd get mushy about it. He noticed how tight he was and looked up at him. "Didn't we get that fixed?"
"The hermie demon said that blowing me would be enough since I got off." He smirked. "Surprise?"
"Not really. Not with the way you draw demons." He slowed down his preparation but he still sank into Xander as soon as he could. He was sweating, thrusting, and making Xander babble at him when Sammy walked in. "Out!" he snarled.
Sam stared at the two on the bed then closed the door, going to sit in the car for a while. That was not what he expected. That hadn't been a flat chested girl, which Dean usually ignored. That was a guy Dean had been buried in. That wasn't something he was used to Dean doing. Maybe Dean had changed a lot. He looked in the glove compartment, finding maps, the spare gun for safety reasons, a knife he didn't know, and an iPod. He looked at it. "Nice selection," he said, paging through the stored music. "Wonder if it's his." He looked up when the delivery driver went to knock. He got answered so Sam went up there, holding up the iPod. "I didn't see this before. It's newer technology than you usually like, Dean."
"That's because it's mine," a sleepy male voice said, holding up a hand. Sam handed it over. "Thanks, Sammy."
"Sam." He looked at him. "Who're you?"
"Xander," Dean said, handing Xander a box of food. "Sit up. I'm not sleeping on sauce spots tonight."
"Sure." He moaned but did sit up. "You'd think you'd be more gentle and let me cuddle."
"Not my fault the delivery guys are efficient." He sat beside Xander on his bed, looking at his brother. "Yes, we're together. Xander's my usual hunting partner. He used to hunt in Sunnydale until a witch started to hurt him. Then he called Dad. We trained him and we've been hunting together for a little over a year."
"Then where was he for the last two months?"
"Hospital and then Bobby's," Xander said before eating a bite of dinner. He waved his fork. "Sit, I'm sure there's extra, Sammy." Sam huffed. He looked at him. "I worked with a slayer. She does that better." Sam glared. He grinned. "Sit and eat. We'll talk after we're all fed." Sam sat down, putting his feet up on his bed while he ate his dinner. He looked at Dean. "Two cars?"
"We'll figure it out," he decided. He ate another bite. "You freaked?"
"Kinda." Sam looked at him then at Xander. "No offense but Dean usually goes for leggy, hot, and buxom."
Xander frowned. "That's huge breasts, right?" he asked Dean, who nodded. Xander looked at him. "I had four years of experience before your dad took over my training."
"You needed it?"
"The slayer and her watcher didn't want to train him. He trained himself," Dean said. "We raised his skills, got him more used to guns than a stake, and then we started to work together." He ate another bite and grabbed a soda to sip. Xander took it to drink and handed it back. "Mooch."
"Point." He looked at his brother. "He was in Sunnydale for a friend's funeral when a witch went psycho because her girlfriend had been shot. He had to stop her. She tried to stop him by liquefying his insides. He had three weeks in the hospital then the rest of the time healing with Bobby while being drained of the bad magic." Sam nodded at that.
"Giles said that vision I had was a bad thing. They might need an all hands alert put out," Xander said quietly. Dean looked at him. "It leads back to an ancient prophecy about the Deeper Well and the demons in there. It says that somehow we're at the first step to releasing the First Evil."
"How?" Dean demanded.
"I don't know. We have no clue. There's a few things we need to watch out for. Giles isn't sure that her minions won't come after all hunters instead of just me. I put him and Bobby on when he said that. He's sending out an all points and Giles agreed to call him if we need reinforcements."
"You're going back?"
"If he needs me," Xander agreed. Dean sighed but nodded. "Buffy's slayer dreams have shown them going after the pre-slayers. Not her yet."
"Take out the backup then the main."
"Faith's in prison, Dean. The line carries on at her death, not Buffy's."
"Shit," he muttered, eating another bite. "So they'll try her later." Xander nodded. "Do you think he'll need you?"
"I don't know. If they're coming after Buffy last they can fall back to Sunnydale." That got a nod. "Which is what I suggested. Giles sent out a notice." He turned on the news, letting him see the international news about the explosion. "I saw this earlier when I was at the bus station and called. "That's the Watcher's Council." Dean shuddered. "So Giles may need all of us on hand."
"If so, he'll call," Dean agreed. "Mega witch?"
"She's back and sane. Grieving but not that bad."
Dean stared at him. "Do you trust her?"
Xander leaned forward to kiss him. "If I lost you like that, minutes after we got back together, I couldn't promise I wouldn't go there."
Dean nodded. "Hopefully there won't be any more accidents."
"No. No more. They're watching her very closely because she's still grieving and she tried to end the world."
"That small earthquake a few months back?" Sam asked.
Xander looked at him and nodded. "That was Willow trying to pull an ancient temple and shrine to a goddess in her grief to make everyone feel like she did. Tara was her soulmate. She had cleaned up a magic addiction for her. They had broken up over Willow's magic addiction and they had just gotten back together minutes before she was shot. Willow lost it and went dark magic sucking. Got some out of books, attacked anyone trying to stop her. Killed the magic dealer she had went to after draining him. Then she went to pull up the temple."
Sam swallowed. "I can't say as I'm not in that much pain."
Xander got up and gave him a hug then sat back down again. "We'll help you too, Sam. Just don't throw dark magic at me. Bobby thinks I've had too much thrown at me for a while and it was harder to drain me this time from where she supercharged me."
Dean looked at him. "Because it was the second time or because it was her?"
"Personally, her and injuries. He said because it was her and the second time she had turned me into a battery. But no hellmouth this time."
"Those are myths," Sam said.
"No, he grew up and learned to hunt on one," Dean told him. "Sunnydale is the open hellmouth at the moment."
He looked at Xander's scars. "I take it hunting was bad there?"
"We had nightly patrols most nights," Xander told him. Sam shuddered. "Exactly. So when I ran into John at a strip club, we talked once he saw me get a vamp. When things got too bad a year later, I walked away and John helped me get to Bobby so I could be drained of the bad energy. Then we worked on my skills after I took a few days off to think about it."
"So you two are *together*?"
"For six months now," Dean agreed. "Sammy ran my baby through the side of a house to get a Lady in White." Xander gasped and glared at Sam.
Sam smirked. "It got her dead. Dean tried to shoot her."
"She's a spirit. It was a chance that she'd dissipate." He ran a hand up Dean's back, getting swatted for it. "Was she pretty?"
Dean shrugged. "Not really. Stress relief and she gave me good information."
Xander nodded. "Better than I did then."
"You let him sleep around?" Sam asked.
"He's still mostly straight, Sam. I'd rather he tell me that he's got that itch and let me approve of her than hear it from the waitress the next day. I'm a realistic man." He looked at Dean. "No word on Dad still?"
"I have his journal. He left the place he texted coordinates to in a hurry. Left everything there. I got it from the cops. There's no telling what we're doing."
Xander gave him a gentle hug. "He's tougher than we are together, Dean. Dad's fine." Dean nodded, finishing his dinner. "Are we hunting here or laying over?"
"Bobby said you were healed and heading out so we stayed stationary," Dean said, giving him a look.
Xander gave him a smug look. "Then I have one." He got up and found his jeans, coming back to hand Dean the newspaper clipping. Sam looked away so he looked at himself then at him. "I grew up with girls, Sammy. I dated a nympho former demon. I don't care if you look when I'm naked as long as you don't try to grab." He sat down again, getting back into his dinner. "That's roughly where we've heard rumors of that one." He looked at Sam. "I heard. I'm sorry for your loss, Sam." He nodded. "Want Willow's number? You two could help each other a lot."
"No, I'll be fine. Thanks," he said quietly, stuffing his mouth. Xander gave him another hug. He looked at him. "You really were raised by girls."
"Including the witch that got him with the bad magic," Dean agreed, rereading it. "Doesn't sound like our sort of thing, Xander." Xander pointed at a line. "I saw that. It looks like another easy possession."
Xander pointed at something. "That's where your dad was heading after whatever pulled him out west. He had a tip that the demon was going to be heading back that way in a year."
Dean looked at him. "If you're right and Buffy needs us...."
"It'll be after the holidays. It always is. I'm going to do a weekly check-in and if I have to I can fly back."
Dean nodded. "That's reasonable. Sammy, did you find anything? This one's nearer to Texas."
Sam shook his head. "Not at the moment. Do we think Dad headed that way?"
"Spike said he heard rumors of that demon heading toward Chicago but he's going slowly and weaving all over to torment and taunt hunters and others. No standard path from what he's heard."
Dean nodded. "Then us heading that way could mean crossing its path or running into another one it's gotten." Sam nodded at that. He looked at Xander. "How did you get so smart?"
"Willow made me learn by not cheating for me very often like she did Buffy."
Dean smirked. "She cheated for Buffy?"
"No time to do homework when you're on patrol half the night."
"Point." He looked at the clipping. "Anything else noted?"
"Not yet. That's a few days old so we should probably check to see if it's still going on. If not, I'd say we head back that way anyway. If the demon's drawn to the family and you two are back together, it'll come for you. Being so strong would be a tempting target."
Dean nodded. "Good point but it wouldn't happen around you."
Xander kissed him on the back of the head. "The thing already likes me, Dean. Spike heard it was checking up on me." Dean and Sam both stared at him coolly. "In the last month he's asked Wolfram and Hart and a few others about my rep. No one knows if he was amused, happy, or pissed about me helping. All we know is that it took him that long to note me, even though you and Dad were training me."
"Which is disturbing," Dean said. "Earlier on and it'd be because he wasn't sure you'd be sticking with us."
"Could Jess have distracted him?" Sam asked quietly.
Xander looked at him. "He has minions to watch, Sam. Spike said someone up that way took out two that had been watching over you." Sam groaned. "So he had it planned, just not a date until it was the most theatric for you." Sam nodded at that, still looking down. "Hey. It's not as bad as it could be. He's not the First Evil. He's not even Glory."
"He might be on the level of Glory. We're not sure," Dean admitted.
Xander shook his head. "No, Spike called him an Elder, not a god." Sam stared at him. "He said he's an elder spirit, he didn't say any particular race or anything but he said he wasn't as strong as the highest of them. We can ask Anya," he pointed out to Dean.
Dean beamed. "Think she'd know?"
"She was D'Hoffryn's and what I took from Spike made them sound about as powerful. She should know about any rivals he had. She's off working somewhere or else I'd have called. Giles has it as a side research topic."
Dean gave him a sucking kiss, smiling at him. "Thank you, Xander."
"Not a problem. Can I have some more, sir?" he teased with a grin. Dean kissed him again.
Sam moved the food and drinks, then walked out shaking his head. Those two were too cute for him. He wouldn't need chocolate for days with them being that sweet. He heard a yelp.
"I told you I don't like spanking games, Dean."
Sam laughed, heading down to the car with the iPod he had gotten off the table. He had his own headset so he didn't have to share ear wax with Xander. He looked up as two demons appeared on the walkway, texting Dean as he got out with the gun in the glove box. "Freeze," he ordered. The demons broke in the door, ignoring him totally. One came flying out a second later and Dean was handling the other one.
Xander came out onto the walkway, holding the demon partially over the railing. "Who sent you?" he asked coldly. "They're interrupting my nookie and I'm not pleased." The demon stuttered something so he switched to a demon language to repeat it. He wailed something and disappeared. Xander looked at Dean. "Wolfram and Hart consider me a threat?"
"You get in the way of prophecies," Dean pointed out. "You said you warped a few of them back in Sunnydale." Sam came jogging in. "You good?"
"They didn't hear me, see me, or come near me. Why?"
"Wolfram and Hart sent them after me," Xander said, staring at Dean, who shrugged. "Let me call Angel."
"Can you put on pants?" Sam asked. He was trying to be nice but Xander was creeping him out.
Xander looked at him. "You have one, it's the same as mine, Sam. If you're that bi- curious, look away." He found his cellphone and dialed from memory. "Fred, why the hell are Wolfram and Hart sending hit demons after me?" He listened to her babble. "No, just now. Two. The farty sounding named ones. Yeah, them." He sat down to listen to her. "Said Wolfram and Hart wanted me." He nodded slowly. "Uh-huh. Any idea if this ties into the Elder demon that's been after Dean's family?" He found some paper to make notes. "Get that from Giles?" He smiled. "Tell Wes I said thanks. Anything else we should know?" He made another note. "They drained it, Fred. I know it'll taint me, dear. I'm still wrong for their purposes. Thanks." He hung up and looked at Dean, holding up the notes with a sigh.
Dean snatched them to look at. "Your handwriting sucks."
"Tough, suck on it, Dean." He grabbed his clothes. "Looks like I will have to fix your back seat problem sooner."
"No." Dean looked at him. "You're not leaving us. It's safer with you here, Xander."
"They have an office up the road by two hours, Dean. I can sneak up there, handle them as a message then be back before dawn. Speaking of, she wanted a call."
"I'll call her later. No. Dad wouldn't like it, I don't like it. You're not handling this on your own and you're not bait."
"If they get a good look at me they'll see I'm not fit for their needs. Angel would fit better or Spike."
"Still not safe," Dean said. He looked at Sam, handing him the information. "Figure out what they're doing." Sam nodded, pulling out his laptop to start researching. He looked at Xander. "No." Xander scowled. "No. Wolfram and Hart are too big for just us. Even us with Dad couldn't take them down, even if it was all three of us with Dad and your former team it's too big for us."
"Angel gets them all the time."
"He's a vampire and a Champion of the Powers," Dean reminded him patiently. "You're not. You're one hunter and if you go, that'll pull me and Sammy."
"It could be about either demon," Sam pointed out. He looked at Xander. "Ours coming after you or the one there trying to get that team through you."
Xander sat down, looking at them. "No, guys. I'm sorry but they want me for this. It's a sacrifice thanks to what Willow pushed into my body. It'll open something bigger in LA probably."
"So? Let Angel handle that. We'll keep you safe and feed them any information we have," Dean said dryly. "You're not going to handle this. I refuse to let you and the answer is no. Even if I do have to borrow handcuffs." He looked at the officer he had spotted on the stairs. "They wanted Xander because he has some money," he said. "They were going to kidnap him for ransom."
The officer nodded. "Where did they go?"
"I pulled Xander off one he was questioning. They disappeared into the night."
"Do we know why?"
Xander looked at him. "A friend of mine is having problems with a law firm doing bad things in LA. They're trying to undermine the city and things. He's protecting the people they're going after because he's a PI." He stood up. "The one I questioned said that law firm's local branch sent them after me."
"Which law firm?" the second cop asked.
"Wolfram and Hart."
The second cop nodded. "I've head they do strange things."
"They're trying to take over LA by undercutting the city's council and then take out the other power structures," Xander said. "I'm a convenient target since I'm near an office."
"You going into hiding?" the first cop asked.
Xander picked up Dean's gun and waved it. "No. They come for me, I'll call. I'm not the bitch they think I am, guys." He gave them his most scary smile. "I'm experienced in gun smithing and hunting. Have done it since I was sixteen. I'll call for removal."
That got a nod. "You staying here long?" the first cop asked.
Xander shook his head. "We're moving on tomorrow probably."
"Good enough. We'll keep an eye on the motel tonight, sir. Make sure you don't hurt a maid with that?"
"I don't drink, Officer."
"Sure." They made note and called it in then went back to the office since their boss said to not get involved. They set an extra patrol around the hotel but that was fine since it appeared handled for now.
Xander looked at Dean. "Still want me to stay?"
"It's safer." He took his gun back and put it back into the holster. Xander moved to fix the door, making him smile. "Construction worker," he taunted with a smirk.
Xander smirked back. "It'll keep us from having to pay for it."
"Good point." He looked at Sam. "Anything?"
"Not yet. I can't get into their system."
Xander took it to type in the IM box to someone he called up. She sent back a growl so he told her what had happened. He handed it back to Sam. "Willow. She hacks too."
Sam smiled. "Thanks, Xander." He chatted with her about what he had tried. A few minutes later she answered and had the information for him. He let them see it. "She's good."
"Now," Dean said. "She put a few lust charms on him to get him before because she doesn't like gay boys." He read, nodding at that. "You're right, Spike would be better, Xander." He looked back and saw him gone. "Idiot."
"Did he take the car?"
"No." He typed that information to Willow and Xander appeared behind them on the bed, bouncing a bit. "Out for a jog?"
"More moo shoo. Thankfully I was walking."
Dean smirked. "I said no."
"I'm perfectly capable...."
Dean glared. "No. We're a team, Xander. No."
"Fine." He sulked a bit. "Good?"
"Very. Spike would fit better for both reasons they could want you."
Xander came over to look. "They're screwed if they try."
Dean coughed. "Remember last time? The draining took off all the innocence clauses?" he said quietly.
"Bobby and I took on a few zombies and the maker before I left. Blood, death, and hunting."
"Not yet. I can call Anya."
Anya appeared, smiling at him. "Problems with Dean, Xanny?"
"Xanny?" Dean snickered.
"Have to break the male/female innocence issue again," he said, grinning at her. "Thought you might want a replay?"
She shrugged. "Not at the moment. It's a girl day." He nodded at that. "No problems?"
"One huge one," Sam said, holding up something. "Xander said you might know this demon who just killed my girlfriend. I was going to call and ask but since you came to see why he was baiting Dean to get more sex...."
"Delivery driver," Dean said grimly.
She cackled. "They can be a problem. Maybe in two days?"
Dean looked at her. "If we can hold off. Wolfram and Hart just sent people after Xander to kidnap him so they could use him as a sacrifice."
She growled. "Excuse me?" she demanded, pulling him up and holding him into the air. "They did *what*? I'm letting you borrow my Xander and you nearly get him kidnaped by the evil law firm?"
"Borrowing?" he snorted. "I didn't see you checking on him while he was injured."
"I was in Russia!"
"I called," Dean said.
"Fine. Whatever. They did?" Dean nodded, smirking at her. "Why?" Sam held up the laptop so she could read. She growled. "I will be getting them back. No one touches my Xanny bear!" She stomped a foot and let Dean down.
"While you're here, can I ask you a question?" Sam asked politely. She turned to glare at him. "I was going to call later but since you're here I was going to see if you'd know someone who might have some information for me if you don't have it."
"Because this demon," he said, changing files, "killed my girlfriend. He killed our mother."
"We'd like to repay that debt," Dean said. "We were going to call later but since you're here and in an evil mood anyway."
She read then looked at Sam. "He would get very upset with me."
"It was him, the First Evil, or the next apocalypse in LA that they want me for," Xander pointed out. "I'll take out theirs, they can help with the First Evil."
"We, Xander," Dean said impatiently.
She giggled. "He's like that. You get used to it. He even got out of bed instead of giving me orgasms a few times to go hunting vampires and go on patrol with Buffy. Now I know why Cordelia used to pout."
"You'd rather they overran the town and everyone got eaten?"
"No," she admitted. She looked at Sam. "I only know a little bit but there's ones who know more. Including his daughter Meg." Sam beamed at her. "She's not easy and if her father is looking for you she'll try for you."
"More than we had. Any other sources we can check?" Dean asked. "I'll make Xander squeal in pleasure later in payment."
She pouted. "I should be but girl times are disgusting. I can't have oral sex while I'm having girl problems and it's not worth it to only get the one orgasm that I'd get from regular sex."
Xander walked over to her, leaning down next to her ear. "Remember when Willow got spanked?" She laughed but nodded. "She lust spelled us. Everyone thought we were rent boys. I sent two women to the hospital after sex, Anya."
"One had a heart attack. One threw her back. I had to see paramedics."
She sulked. "That's too powerful for me. Did they get oral sex?"
"Only for a few minutes. They wanted to climb on top."
"They were on top and did that?" she whined. He nodded. "Well....."
"I'll save it for you," he teased with a grin. "Then you can go tell Giles about how good it was. Or call from the ER."
She pouted but nodded. "I'll find out what I can, guys. You promise, Xander?" He nodded. "Good. Will you be here?" He shook his head. "Then I'll find you." She looked at Sam. "I'll ask around." She disappeared, going to tell Giles that bad news and throw a fit if she couldn't find someone who wanted to make a wish against Wolfram and Hart. She really wanted to curse them for daring to touch her Xander snuggly.
"Xanny bear?" Sam teased.
Xander shrugged. "She learned how to be a modern girl from Willow and Buffy. The same as I did. Plus Jerry Springer." He laid back down, smirking at Dean. "I can help curse them."
"No," he ordered, glaring at him, hands on his hips.
"You look like that guy on tv."
Dean shook his head, coming over to hold Xander down and make him too brainless to try to sneak off again.
"Do I need to sleep in the car?" Sam complained.
"Up to you," Dean quipped back.
"Not like we care if you watch our prettiness in action," Xander added with a smirk. He grabbed his head and moaned, curling into Dean's side. "Aw, fuck, I already hate these things." Sam gave him a horrified look. He squeezed his eyes shut. "Meg will trap us."
"Breathe," Dean ordered in his ear. "Slow it down, tell me what you see." Xander slowed his breathing and took the pen and paper to write it out. He looked at Sam. "The last dosing of magic that Willow shot at him activated a latent sight. We don't know which spell it was since she sent seven of them to kill him while he was trying to stop her from taking out everyone." Xander nudged him so he took the papers. "This is it?" Xander nodded. "Did Bobby figure out how to help the headache?"
"In my bag," Sam said quietly. Dean gave him a long look. "I've had some migraines. I got a refill the day of the funeral." Dean got the medicine and handed it over. Xander took one and curled up, pulling Dean back to hold for now. "He going to be okay?"
"He comes down better with tactile contact," Dean said. "This is only his third one." He stroked over Xander's arms, letting him calm himself down to a nap. He read it over. "Meg's a very bad girl and she'll attack us." He read it over again before handing it to Sammy. "A good warning."
Sam looked it over, nodding slowly. "It is. Let me type this to that Willow person?"
"Please." Sam did that then handed it back, going back to sitting on his bed. "Will it fade?"
"No one's sure," Dean said quietly. He checked Xander, he was quietly snoring. "It'll be fine, Sammy. It's another reason I don't want him driving for right now. It's like seizures, he could crash."
Sam nodded. "I can see why." He took the vision back to go over it again. "So she'll have us trapped and try for me. Why me?"
"I don't know, college boy. Why you?" Dean asked. He found his cellphone and texted a message to his father's phone but it came back as unknown number. "Damn it."
"Does his journal have anything on them?" Sam asked, looking at his brother.
Dean shook his head. "I looked when Bobby said he was having them. If it hadn't been grief, just her usual thing, I'd have killed her for hurting him again," he said quietly.
Sam leaned closer. "Why didn't you tell me you had a usual hunting partner?"
"Xander told me in the hospital to get you, dumbass. No one was sure if he'd be able to come back. She bruised him so badly he was bleeding internally. Lots of little bruises bleeding all over his insides and his right lung." Sam shuddered. "From seven spells. Probably from the first one from what he told me later that week."
"She's obviously a strong witch."
"Who had control issues. Then she found black magic. Her girlfriend dumped her to get her cleaned up after everything we didn't help. She was so far gone she had turned him into a battery for her. She was killing him and wasn't that sorry. She put lust spells on him so he couldn't be gay. She tried to block any magic he has. She did a lust spell to attract women to him instead of me. It made everyone in Vegas think we were rent boys. A chaos person who came to help close her off again said she raised the birth rate by five percent." Sam shuddered. "Yeah. Then her girlfriend stepped off and told her magic or her. She cleaned up for her. They were slowly getting back together. The way I heard they had just barely gotten back together. Five minutes literally and the geek shot at Buffy, getting her shoulder and killing Tara. So Willow went spastic."
"The First Evil takes a resurrection. Could it be Tara?"
"I asked that earlier when you headed outside. He said no. They couldn't see who."
Sam nodded. "I'd hate for it to happen, Dean."
Dean stared at him. "No demon is taking us or Dad without a hell of a fight. Xander either. He's been hunting since he was sixteen. Without vacation time. With a team that didn't always appreciate him so he went alone a lot. There's times I think he's stronger than both of us and Dad. Then again there's times he's not. You two should get along okay. He's got the same sort of mushy thing you do now and then. Tried to pick out a song for us and that stuff."
Sam smirked. "Which one?"
"Some girly thing about battlefields. It was pretty good in describing us but damned if I'm going to listen to anything that girly. His girls did a number on him. Oh, he has nightmares and he snores."
"I'll keep that in mind if something makes me wake up suddenly." He leaned back. "Six months?" Dean nodded. "Are you two going to be serious?"
"We're serious now."
"He lets you fool around, Dean. That's not serious. Serious is exclusive."
"I only get that right when he's not here or I get hit with demonic pheromones," he defended. "He lets me because he knows how edgy I get without any."
"Your hand?" Sam teased with a smirk.
"Not good enough after having him. One of the women that thought he was a pro ended up with the paramedics because she had a heart attack after him." Sam gaped. He nodded. "Exactly. He's got some odd contacts too." He looked at Xander then at Sam. "It going to freak you out?"
"I'll get used to my brother being with a gay hunter," Sam said dryly. "Means we won't be competing for girls when I'm ready to hit on ones again." Dean smirked at him. Someone knocked so he got up to get it. "Yes?" he asked the person who had checked them in.
"That rentboy you two called up staying over?" he asked bluntly.
Xander was nudged awake and looked at the man. He mumbled something and went back to sleep, not seeing the guy wandering off like he hadn't seen anyone at the door.
"What did you do?" Sam asked, closing the door.
Xander mumbled something into Dean's hip.
Dean looked down. "Did you just say an 'ignore me' spell you learned off Dracula?" Xander nodded, yawning and curling more tightly around Dean's hips. He looked at Sam. "His past hunting on the hellmouth reads like a crack ho's literature project. Remember that graduation that had the gas explosion?" Sam sat down, looking at him, nodding a bit. "That was his. There was a demonic ascension."
"Little demon to a higher demon. Snake demon. Giles said seventy feet, Xander said closer to ninety." Sam whimpered. "They had to defend against it and deal with it. That's what happened. He led the frontal assault."
Sam slumped. "Then he's good? Dad likes him?"
"Dad thought we're getting married," he admitted. "We smoothed out his training since no one had. He trained himself by jumping into the patrols. They had a few alpha battles but Xander learned and it was good between us. I'm not sure how this injury is going to matter."
"It shouldn't," Sam told him. "Or else you think he can't do the job and should retire."
Dean grimaced. "I doubt it. He'd try to kick my ass if I suggested it."
"Has he met anyone other than Bobby?"
"Missouri met him and she giggled her ass off when she saw him the first time. He looked so hurt until I told him she was slightly telepathic. Then he shot her a dirty thought. She went so red," he said evilly, grinning at his little brother. "She had to excuse herself to calm down. Took her ten minutes in the bathroom with running water. We haven't had to run to Jim recently so I haven't introduced them but he and Bobby talk so they probably mentioned him."
"That's good. I'd hate to see what would happen if some of the good old boys didn't like it."
Dean shook his head. "He'll handle it. He's got a very good hand at artillery."
Sam nodded. "Good for him." Someone pounded on the door. Sam sighed and answered the door. "Yes, Officer?"
"The artillery thing?" he asked. "Also the manager said you hired a rent boy?"
Dean looked at him. "He's my boyfriend and yes, he does know artillery. More than enough to blow up something. Fortunately he doesn't."
"That's good." He looked at the boy then at him. "Wore him out?"
Dean smirked. "Headache. We keep being interrupted. He's been gone for two months due to an injury."
"Uh-huh." He looked at Sam. "What's your part?"
"Dean's my brother. I met Xander today."
He snorted. "Uncomfortable?"
"No. Xander made himself clear that he didn't care if I was embarrassed. If I didn't like it, don't look or watch." Anya appeared, making the cop freak out. Xander snapped something and he went mute. "Interesting trick."
Dean poked Xander. "No magic. I didn't marry a fantasy novel even if people do call you a knight."
Xander blinked at him. "Screaming like that means I have to grab a weapon."
"Point," he admitted. Xander pulled him down to kiss him.
Sam rolled his eyes. "See?" he asked the cop, waving a hand. Anya freed his vocal cords. "Thank you."
"Welcome." She smirked at him. "Have I seen you before?" He fled. She let Sam close the door then grinned at him. "Can I have a treat for the information?"
"I lost my girlfriend three weeks ago, Anya," he said quietly. She cooed and hugged him, making him uncomfortable. "There's Xander and Dean. Ask them. Maybe they can."
She went to pounce and wiggle her way between them. Dean and Xander shared a look then shrugged at each other, pleasing her and themselves. It was good and she was worn out after a few minutes of Xander's fingers and Dean's cock.
Sam ignored them all while he read.
Anya reappeared in the Magic Box with a moan, grabbing the counter.
"What attacked you?" Buffy demanded.
"Xander and Dean," she said weakly, going to her knees with a hiss. "Two very good men with evil fingers and penises and mouths. I didn't even get a whole lot of a reward and I promised I'd take the innocence Xander had to regrow thanks to the draining stuff." She blinked at Buffy. "I need fluids and a wheelchair."
"He's that big?" Buffy taunted.
Anya shook her head. "They're very strong. Xander has evil fingers and Dean has an evil penis. They made me very sore. I don't think I can walk." She shifted to her butt then back to her knees with a hiss. "No more getting between Xander and Dean. Maybe I'll try Dean's brother once he's not grieving." She fell asleep against the front counter, still on her knees.
"Why can't I find guys who can do that?" Buffy asked Giles, who blushed and walked off cleaning his glasses. "Did you ever get that tired, Willow?"
"No. I think I missed out on something." She pouted at Buffy. "Dean was a hotty."
"Maybe Sam's just as hot," she said optimistically.
"He lost his girlfriend three weeks ago to a demon," Giles called.
"Then maybe he could use a good cuddle," Buffy decided. She called Dean's phone, getting an unfamiliar voice. "You must be Sam. I'm Buffy and Anya told us. Wanted to see if we could meet and do the research party thing. Because we need help doing ours sometimes and if you found something we didn't we need to know. Of course you can. Giles is a watcher and there's tons of books around here that not even he's sure about the contents of." She smiled. "We can do that. Sunnydale of course. At the Magic Box. Dean and Xander both know the way. So does your dad. Missing?" She frowned at Giles, who shrugged a bit. "Huh. We'll put out word, make sure our current probs didn't get him. We can do that. We're well plugged into the demonic underground." She snapped her fingers at Willow. "You have email." She got into it. "She's looking now. Hmm. Any idea which reason wanted Xander as their sacrifice?" She nodded.
"Then we'll look. We're always here," she promised with a smile. "Of course. Just pop around or whatever. Xander's still got stuff in storage out here. We're good. Honestly. Thanks, Sam, and if you need girl stuff you can call too. Because sometimes you gotta have a hug. My mom said so and she's very smart." She smiled. "We're here for that and cookies now and then too," she promised. "Thanks. Sure, write us soon or drop by so we can compare and let you into the books. Laters. Have a good night." She heard a moan and blushed. "Was that Xander?" She giggled. "Anya came back being unable to sit and fell asleep against a case on the floor. Have a better night." She hung up and put the phone back. "Xander's being Mr. Sharing. They're in a shared motel room so he has to listen to him and the Dean giggle and groan. I need some of that."
"Maybe someone coming for the apocalypse is going to be cute," Willow offered.
Buffy smiled. "That'd be nice. There's cute watchers, right, Giles? They're not all tragically older than me and Mom?"
"No, we're not all old, Buffy. It's dealing with the slayers that make us feel that way since you're all so young and full of life."
"Yeah, I guess that'd be bad. Oh, Sam said that his father was missing but probably alive. He texted them coordinates to a problem recently. That's why Dean went to pick him up at college. They have no idea where he is and Dean's uber-worried about him so if we hear where he is we need to tell them." They all nodded and Willow started a search on him. "Anything in the email or about why Wolfram and Hart wanted to sacrifice our Xander?"
"My Xander," Anya mumbled. "Sleep with your brother."
Buffy looked at her. "Ewww. Go have that sort of smutty dream at home, Anya." She pouted but disappeared. She looked at Willow again. "Anything?"
"Ideas. No firm results yet. I'm looking. It has some of what we got from Wolfram and Hart just now mixed in to base the theory off of. Looks like Angel's going to be having hell on earth too."
"Charming. The whole west coast will be hell. Like it is in July and August only earlier." She walked off. "I'm going on patrol. Tell me if new stuff comes up or if I can come back." They all nodded.
Willow looked at Giles. "It also says that Xander mumbled a spell in his sleep that didn't work."
"Dean will stop him," he promised her. She nodded, going back to her searching. She needed to get back into this. She had left her real life for magic and she would do Tara proud by staying clean of dark magic and evilness. Giles smiled and got back to his own research on the demon for Sam. That gave him an idea and he went to see if there was a prophecy about them. It could help him find out more.
Sam woke up with a blink, staring at the man above him. "What time is it?"
"Four. Your phone went off." He handed it over. "They left a voicemail."
"Thanks." He sat up and listened to it, not watching Xander climb back into bed with his brother. He sighed at the end, nodding. "That's not a good bit of information."
"Problems at home?"
"They ruled the fire an electrical problem even though it wasn't. They've got to fax paperwork to me." Xander looked at him. "No hugging, Xander. Dad would hate that."
"He got gruff and grumbled but he let me hug him when he was having a bad day and got injured." He flipped over. "The Kinkos downtown has a public fax I think. The sign on the window said it did when the taxi went past."
"Thanks." He tried hard not to watch them. Dean wasn't cuddling but Xander was wrapped around his side. Dean had one arm over Xander and was smiling in his sleep. Dean looked peaceful and content. It was good for him.
"I'm not changing into a bunny rabbit," Xander said quietly. "Quit staring, Sam."
"Sorry, Xander. Not used to seeing Dean smile in his sleep."
"It means he's got cheeseburgers."
Sam laughed, getting up to go outside and call that friend back. Since she was up and all. He came back a few minutes later to find Xander asleep. He was snoring so he was sure he was. He opened the laptop and looked at the background that came up. It was a white cat with a small gray spot between its ears and a red rubber ducky with horns sitting on its side. The caption said 'he will gives me cheezeburgers for soul, dat fair trade?' Sam glared at Xander, but it was so cute and it fit them very well. When he left to get them coffee and came back, he nudged Xander. "No, the devil duck is making a sucky deal but the cat probably won't mind for another life."
Xander grinned. "Wasn't me, but I saw him do it."
"Do what?" Dean moaned, looking at his brother. "Watching?"
"Coffee?" He waved the cup and Dean stole his to drink. "I got you black with sugar, Xander." That got a grin and Xander put it aside then laid down on Dean's stomach while he drank his coffee. "He not a morning person?" he teased.
"If you weren't watching, I'd be blown by now," Dean shot back.
"Thank you for the new background on the computer."
"What new background?" Sam showed him and he shrugged. "Xander's cutesy that way. I try, ya know?"
"He said you did it."
Dean looked at him. "That's more Dad's style than mine, Sammy. Really." He nudged Xander, getting a snore instead of a snore. "Did you change the wallpaper?"
"No. Evil you did it."
"Evil me came back?" he asked with a grin. Evil Dean was Xander's pranking side that usually came out when Xander had been drinking and teasing. Xander nodded against his bellybutton. "When did he come back?"
"Last night. He wanted to have dirty, nasty, tying the Xander down sex but Sammy was awake." He yawned, then licked over the firm stomach that the tank top riding up was showing him. "Hmm, good you is back again. Pity." He took another lick.
Dean flipped the blankets up and Sam blushed, going to hide behind his computer. Dean was smirking down at Xander. Who was mumbling at his cock again. "Should've slept last night, Xander."
Xander blinked at him. "Phone."
"Go ahead. Sammy can hide some more. You can sleep in the backseat."
"Yes, Dean. Does that mean we can't shock the traffic cop again?"
"Probably not since I nearly crashed the last time."
He went back to his playing. When Dean finally came in his mouth he sat up and drank his coffee and the rest of Dean's, then headed for the bathroom to shower.
Dean drifted off again much happier. He had taught his protege well.
Sam shook his head. It'd take him a while to get used to this new, gayer Dean. Xander came out in a towel and got into his bag, bringing clothes into the bathroom with him. "Did you use my shampoo?"
"No, I use Dean's. It's cheaper."
"Okay." He got back to his morning email. It'd be too creepy if they shared the same bottle of shampoo.
"Not like it'll make you jump him too," Dean said dryly from his comfortable spot without opening his eyes.
"No, but I don't want to know if it works well enough to rinse Dean sweat off."
"Why wash it off? It's a great scent to carry," Dean said happily. Xander came out and gave him a kiss. "More coffee?"
"If you get your ass up and help me fix the backseat I'll treat for breakfast. Even waffles."
"You and sugar is evil," Dean reminded him.
Xander beamed. "But I'll be in the backseat. I can't play with you while you drive or anything."
"Good point. Fine." He got up with a groan, adjusting his clothes before Sam could peek. He took a shower and got dressed too, coming out to help Xander fix the stuck back seat. "What happened to what you took with you?"
"I paid for the supplies we used to drain me and some groceries, plus to have someone arrest the minion who was coercing Bobby into giving up and moving to Canada."
"Ah." They each picked a side and fixed the back seat, Xander climbing in to count the money. "Are we missing any?"
"Nope. Just seeing how much we have left."
"Probably not a whole lot."
Xander looked at him. "I asked for six mil," he said quietly. Dean gaped. He smirked back. "It had to last me forever and ever."
Dean leaned over to kiss him. "I love your evil mind." Xander beamed. "Where's that shirt?"
"In the weapons compartment, under the spare rock salt bullets. We need to test it to make sure you didn't damage any of the wires." They both loaded their wallets and put the seat back down, then closed the doors and looked at the shirt. Xander texted the message to it. Two letters worth didn't light so he got into it, frowning some. "Need a soldering gun." Dean handed one over. Xander went to fix the shirt by the soda machine so Sam wouldn't know. Then Dean tested it, smiling at the message that came up. He turned it off and they closed up everything else, going to give the present to Sam. "I got that for Dean but it doesn't fit him, Sammy. It's a bit big and it's built to keep you hot or cool depending on the local temperature and your body temperature. It's a new survivalist trial. Want to try it for me today?"
"Sure," he agreed, putting it on over his t-shirt. "A bit heavy." The heater in the back came on and he smiled. "That's nice."
"Very," Dean agreed. "We done, guys?" They nodded and packed things, going back down to the car. Xander gave him a kiss before getting into the back. "Waffles, right?" They nodded and he drove them to the commercial waffle place by the mall. Xander got out first to get them seats while Sam followed. Behind him, Dean texted the shirt a message and it showed up, making him grin because this place had no mirrors. Perfect!
A few hours later Sam was still wondering why people were staring at them. He checked them over. Dean and Xander weren't groping or being cute. They were all dressed. He stopped at a shiny support pole to check himself. His hair wasn't too bad even though he needed a trim. He checked his butt, it looked decent enough today. His fly wasn't undone. He saw a blinking something and turned farther. More blinking letters. He found a changing room and went to check in there, groaning at the message of 'I like bad girls who will do nasty things' and a phone number on his back. He took off the shirt and walked out, smacking Dean on the arm for it. "Asshole," he muttered. "Turn it off before some parent complains." Xander giggled. "I can see why he married you now."
"I did it to him in Vegas," Xander said with a sweet, innocent grin.
Dean pinched him. "Don't remind me I have to pay you back for that."
Xander walked off humming. He texted a new message and heard Sam and Dean both squeak before Dean turned it off. 'Kneel before me and let me make you beg' was just a bit more dirty than needed to be out in a mall.
"Don't get too far ahead, Xander, or I'm leaving you," Dean called.
"Try, watch me retaliate," Xander called back. "Heading for the sports store. I'm out of bolts."
"Fine." They walked that way, the brothers shaking their heads. Xander was in a playful mood. That's why they walked into the store and got hit with nerf darts.
"Xander!" Sam complained. The little kid that shot him sniffled. "Sorry, thought it was a friend playing a prank." The kid hurried off. No one had to know that the guy had paid him fifty bucks to shoot them both with the dye darts.
Dean looked at his brother then groaned. "Where's the dye on me?"
"Where the dart stuck," he said, looking at it. "Nice aim on the kid."
Dean stalked his boyfriend to the crossbow bolts, pinning him against a shelf. "I'm going to make you beg later for this. This is a good shirt."
"It washes and you need to loosen up, Dean. Before the next one is Cupid's Arrow." He winked and held up the bolts he wanted. "Think I can tip them again?"
Dean looked. "Last time you said those didn't want to hold it. Get the other ones."
"They don't come in wooden shafts."
"Then replace the heads. Or get a box of each." Xander sighed but nodded and did that. He also got a handheld poker machine to keep his skills sharp.
Sam looked at his laptop that night when they unpacked at the motel of the night, frowning at the scene of a striped kitten running from two brown sponge creatures with arms, legs, and faces. The saying 'every time you masturbate...god kills a kitten. Please, think of the kittens' did not make him happy. "Not my style, Xander."
Dean looked then giggled. "So that's why there's so many kittens. People wanted us to stop doing that!" He leaned into the bathroom. "Where did the evil me find that one?"
"Yahoo." He smirked from the sink, winking in the mirror. "I thought Sam might need some cheering up."
"He probably could." He shut the door and looked at Sam. "You did laugh."
"I did not."
"There was a snort of joy," Dean assured him.
"I did not!"
"Did," he said.
Xander walked out and kissed Dean. "If he doesn't like it, have him cancel that one." He took another kiss. "Club so you can make your share of the money?"
"Sure," he agreed. "Sammy?"
"I'm good." He watched them go but didn't hear the car. There was a nice club up the street so they probably left the car to keep it safe and save on gas. He changed the background and came up with something else. In his usual picture's place was another cat picture. This time it was an off-white, squished face, fluffy cat with a brown mask and ears and the caption 'no, no, No! I are NOT Mogwhy!' He did laugh at that one. He had loved _Gremlins_ as a kid. So maybe Xander wasn't *so* bad. He certainly made Dean happier. Sam decided to surf the site the last one had come from, finding it easily enough. It had a lot of cute pictures. Too many to save down.
Xander was asleep in the backseat when Sam got curious. "So, he hunted since he was sixteen?" Dean nodded, tapping along with his music. "Why?" Dean shot him an odd look. "We got pulled in because of Mom. What pulled him in?"
"His best friend was killed by vampires a few days after Buffy got into town," Dean said quietly, glancing in the mirror. He glanced at Sam again then back to the road. "He's been hunting with her since then, at least until the Initiative mess and their 'tude issues that made him walk off."
"They have this problem that Xander calls 'no normals allowed syndrome'. Basically they keep trying to shove him away because he wasn't a slayer or a witch."
Sam nodded slowly. "To protect him?"
"So they said but they put it less than nicely. It happened before graduation and Xander proved himself there. Things might've started to get better after his short roadtrip to Oxnard, but the military showed up to study demons by torture and other less gentle methods. They put a plan in place to separate them by playing on the old distance that had shown up. Even after they got rid of them and Xander had to help with the spell in a major way they still didn't want to let him do the things he had been doing for four years. So he walked off. He called Dad and left." He glanced at his brother again then back at the road. "No one there tried to train him, Sammy. No one worked on his self defense or weapons skills. He jumped in and learned it the hard way. And there, they don't shoot the vampires very often. Usually it's a stake to the chest and move on. Nightly." Sam winced at that, shifting some. "We holed up at a small cabin and got into his training when he showed up. The first time he showed up we had to send him to Bobby because we couldn't drain the magic Willow had been using him to store. He said he created a mini hellmouth behind Bobby's house until Giles sent someone to drain it for him. It took them a week to drain all the energy she had put into him. Then he went to think. Because he was so up close and personal he was feeling some burnout and doubts that he wouldn't turn into some sort of psycho."
"Then why did he come back?"
"He stopped somewhere for dinner one night. He had a bad feeling about the town but he ignored it as not his duty at that time, which it wasn't. No one had asked him to step in. He had no idea what the problem was and he was there to have dinner. A few demons broke into a sorority." Sam winced and hissed. "Exactly. He somehow heard that it had happened and the demons were now trying to take down the cops who answered the call. Xander burst in and helped. Dad had to pound the knowledge that it wasn't his fault, he wasn't responsible for every death, and there's no way he could've known into his head. His soul's deeper than some wells, Sammy. He still has nightmares from the graduation battle he led. He still has nightmares from the Initiative. Now and then he has ones from normal hunting times. He's good, he's deep and he's good. He's got great skills. Give him a chance."
"I am. I wanted to know more about him."
"Then sit down and talk to him. He'll babble and avoid anything too personal," Dean told him. "I got to do that while making him quit wearing ugly clothes. He had some really horrible shirts. Loud colors, patterns that made you nauseous to look at. Dad and I agreed, we fixed that issue while we kept fixing Willow's thing against gay men. She kept trying to suppress it and make Xander like her more. No idea why."
"The same witch?" Dean nodded. "Is she fixed?"
"Fully. The last time, after Vegas, Dad walked into the Magic Box and paddled her for a good twenty minutes. Then they bound her from harm. Even the chaos sorcerer Xander knows doesn't like how she was doing. He sicced a blood path mage onto her too. She reformed because her girlfriend kicked her ass and walked off. She got clean and better to get her back. Then she died."
"Now what happens?"
"Now, she's being watched I'm sure. For right now, she's fine. She's grieving but it's a healthier one. Xander stopped her from destroying the world in her grief over Tara. We went to check on her before the Vegas thing and Tara was a sweet girl. The sort of incorruptible sweetness and strength that you find in saints."
Sam nodded. "She sounds like she was a nice girl."
"And a pretty powerful white witch," Dean agreed. Sam gaped. He smirked. "Xander told me her mother taught her."
"What about his family?" Dean growled. "I'll drop that one."
"His father tried to kill him for not being dead. 'Nuff said?"
"Yeah. 'Nuff said," he agreed. "Dad?"
"Dad and his father met," he said dryly. "Dad was with us when we went back there to check on Willow with Xander. Damn was it only eight months ago?" he said, counting backward. "I guess it was. Xander nearly got taken by some vamps who had been vamped after being in the graduation battle with him. They had a small nuclear device that they wanted his help with. We met some polite, forceful Feds who didn't want to deal with us."
"Is that how he got the money?"
"No, that was a wish on Janus. I know it's not all in there, he's moved some to a safer spot, probably with Bobby or Giles, but he got it when he saved that chaos guy and had him help him make a wish on a book that held part of Janus' essence or something. That's all he said about it. That and he planned on using it to hide from everyone for a very long time. Watchers, demons, and everyone."
"But he came back."
"Because he felt that people were going to die if he didn't," Dean agreed patiently.
Sam glanced back at Xander then at him. "So you really like him a lot?"
"I do. I'm not going to go all girlish and say we're going to settle down, adopt some kids, all that stuff. We're a hunting team though."
"Then why did you need me?"
Dean glanced at him again. "Because there was a really good chance Xander was too injured to do more than sit somewhere and research," he said quietly. "They kept him in the hospital for three and a half weeks, Sammy. Then he went to Bobby's to finish healing and have the new energy she hit him with drained. Black magic this time."
Sam slumped in his seat. "So he might not have come back."
"He told me if something happened I was to come see you. He ordered me to and then took a long nap thanks to the drugs."
Sam nodded. "So I'm still needed but he's coming back full time?"
Dean shrugged. "I don't know, Sammy. It's possible. He's trying really hard. Bobby noticed his sudden influx of magic and visions started thanks to this new stuff she hit him with. He thinks he might've channeled part of her before. Since he's a medium and easily possessed...."
Sam sat up straight then looked back at Xander. "Pull over. Let's make sure she's out of him. That could hurt him more." Dean pulled over, turning off the car to look at him. "If she did that, and it's fully possible in some sort of last strike spell, then that could be why he tried to use magic on the motel owner and it backfired." He got out and got into the trunk, coming back with the holy water and what he needed to do the exorcism. Xander moaned and shifted but Dean petted his head and he quit. Sam finished and watched some of it dissipate. Then Xander started to scream and hold his head and shake. Dean slithered over the seat to hold him down and help him. Sam went back to the exorcism. More came out and it was better. Xander was back out. Sam and Dean shared a look. "Wake him up."
Dean gently nudged Xander, getting a heavy, defeated look. "Hey. You all right?"
"What did you do?"
"Sam thought maybe some of Willow was possessing you so he did an exorcism to get her out. You started to scream worse than a porn star, Xander."
"Hmm. Porn bad," he said weakly then put his head back down and passed out.
"That's not Xander," Dean said, glaring at Sam.
Sam got into the book he had drug out too, looking at it. "Maybe it reversed. Xander got sent out and the spirit stayed." He tried that rite and it was better. Xander was clearly more comfortable and him. He was relaxed but still passed out. Dean got him up and Sam got into the bag of drinks for him, handing over some juice. "I'm sorry, Xander."
Xander growled, then sniffed at Dean and made a huffing noise at him.
Dean leaned down to kiss him. "Give me the boy back, furry bitch. My boy, no one else." Her growl went up when Sam leaned closer. "Sam, she'll attack and eat you." He turned around and sat down. Dean got Xander calmed down and talked him down into his head to change back. He blinked at the stiff man underneath him. "Can I have the usual boy back, not this side of him?" he asked the soldier.
"Could but he's not in here." Sam moaned. "Got rid of the cranky one. Thank you for that." He looked up then at him. "Protection amulet?"
Dean pulled his off and did the chant to bring Xander back to his own body from the book. He watched as his eyes changed, became less hard. The body underneath him relaxed in the normal way into his. "Xander?"
"Present," he said weakly. "What did we do?"
Sam looked back. "I figured out that something she did got you slightly possessed again. I was trying to banish it, Xander. I'm sorry." Xander reached up and batted at his head. "I didn't mean to make you go out of your body."
"You'll suffer later." He pulled Dean down, cuddling him. "Need a touchstone to settle in."
"Sure." He made sure Xander stayed in his body, holding him while he fell back asleep. Then he put the protection amulets on him for now. He'd get them back later when Xander was back to himself.
Xander smiled in his sleep, touching the amulet around his neck. "Good," he said, petting it. "Good, Dean."
Dean grinned. "Hold that for me, 'kay?" he asked in his boy's ear. Xander hummed and took a kiss. "That's my boy. Let me go drive while you nap. Want music?" Xander smiled and nodded. "I'll do that." He got out and walked around to sit behind the wheel, digging in the glove box for the tape he needed. "He sleeps to this." He put in the music and Sam gaped. "What? It's my music. Driver picks the music. He likes to sleep to Iron Butterfly. Said it gives him good dreams. He called to complain to Joyce about my music and she made me tapes of hers and Giles' album collection. He had a lot of classic rock in his." He restarted the car and pulled back onto the road, glancing back at him. He was curled up, both hands around the amulet. "No more exorcisms."
"I won't. What was the growling?"
"He got possessed by a hyena back in tenth grade. She likes to stick around to help him."
"That can't be good for him."
"He's fine with it," Dean said firmly. "Even after he bit Dad that once he's fine with it."
"Okay. I wasn't going to try anything."
"Uh-huh. Just don't, Sammy. He's happy the way he is. She's pretty nice when she comes out to play. Likes how I smell. Bit Dad on the knee once but we learned why cranberry juice brings her out."
"I thought that was apple."
"It is but she came back first to protect him."
"I won't try to remove it unless he asks, Dean. I promise."
"Good." He pulled off the highway and into a burger place, hitting the drivethru for lunch. Once he had paid and they were back on the highway he tossed back a burger. Xander growled but dug into it while still mostly asleep. "Bobby said to keep feeding him protein. He thinks he's still sore but Xander's stubborn and won't admit it."
"Bet dad loved that."
"He's the same sort of stubborn Dad is about that stuff," Dean assured him. "Xander tried to refuse stitches once and they went at it but Dad was right. So I knocked him down and sat on him while I did them for him. Then I did Dad's."
"Which one tried to smack you?"
"Neither one. Dad grumbled. Xander complained. And we went on with the night." He gave him a grimace. "Xander cannot dance and do not let him pick up women. Only the most evil are attracted to him."
"Anya," Xander complained from the back seat. "Not evil and human."
"A nice change and she's formerly evil, how about that?" Dean suggested dryly.
"I guess. She wasn't really, just granting wishes for girls who got dumped or hurt."
"She turned one guy into the only flushing toilet in a village that had outhouses, Xander. She's just a bit less than good," Dean smarted back.
"Then next time he shouldn't beat his wife," Xander shot back. "Especially not because she left the toilet seat down." He sat up and leaned forward. "I wouldn't beat you because of that. He was a weak bastard who deserved it."
"Well, yeah, but she's answered some for more frivolous calls too."
"She was a vengeance demon, Dean. They happen. All you can do is be nice about it to make sure none of your exes call on them. Though if I ever have to call Hallie on this family I'll just beat the parent who screwed up that badly instead."
Dean grinned in the mirror at him. "Good to know. What's she over?"
Sam shuddered. "If they're my kids and my future wife does it, we'll beat her together," he promised.
Xander patted him on the head. "Okay." He nibbled on Dean's ear. "Any more burgers since you fed me onions while I was asleep?"
"Fries," Sam offered, handing them back. Xander hummed as he took them, curling up to nibble and watch the scenery. There was an awkward pause so Sam decided to break it. "So what have you guys been handling?"
"Mostly a lot of beasties," Xander said. "I got Buffy a pet demon dog because it decided it wanted our dinner while we were on stakeout one night."
Dean nodded. "She called squealing the next morning because it tried to climb in her underwear with her but otherwise Joyce and she are pretty happy with the smelly dog."
"Mother," Xander corrected. "Joyce is a sweet, good woman."
"Who's an excellent cook," Dean added. Xander nodded. "She still sends him cookies through Willow now and then." Xander grinned. "Do we have more?"
"I shared the last batch with Bobby because the Fed made him have a bad week."
"Why was the minion of evil after him?" Sam asked.
Xander shrugged. "Beyond wanting a hunter out of the business? No one specifically paid him to take Bobby out but he was bothering others too." That got a nod. "Where are we headed?"
"West coast. The one you showed up with was fixed by a priest. There's something going on at Stanford among Sammy's friends so we're handling that." Xander nodded, nibbling another fry. "Want to check on the girls?"
"No I think there'll be enough drama wherever we're going. Thanks though."
Sam looked back at him. "Were you riding with Dean?"
"Yup. We used my last car to firebomb a goddess who wanted to open a portal to her hell dimension and suck the earth in. Small change from the normal open one to suck hell onto earth." He nibbled another fry. Dean snickered. Sam gave him a horrified look. "Why?"
"Wondering if you had a special ride," Sam said.
Xander shook his head. "I could but John and Dean agreed I'd ride with Dean. Less chance of Dean misplacing me some night when he's being cranky." He frowned and looked around, finding the bug underneath the seat. "Hey, Dean, pull over please?" He held up the bug. Dean pulled over and got out to check the bag. It was all there. Xander looked. "Dye pack," he said. Dean winced. Those things could make a mess of everything. "That wasn't there before."
"No, it wasn't. I made sure of it," Dean agreed. "How do we do it?"
Xander muttered something then quickly threw them at the road, watching them splatter. He searched and threw another two out there, nearly hitting the cop car that had been following them. He smiled at the cop, walking the bug over to him. "That's rude and unless you have a warrant, I'm suing your asses. I don't give a damn if you planted it and the dye packs in *my* money or not, but I didn't steal that money. I don't care what you think and if you try it again I'm going to get Feds so far down your throat you're going to gag on their cocks." He walked back to the car and helped reseat the backseat then climbed in. He smiled at Sam. "I have no idea who's paying the dirty cops, but I will be finding out and I will be fixing them," he called loudly enough for the cops to hear. They peeled off and Xander looked at Dean. "Wolfram and Hart's nearest office is where?"
"We're going to the one in LA."
"Angel's running it."
"Oooh. Huh." He had been warned to leave Angel alone, even if he did want to stake the wrongness.
"About six hours. Vegas is closer."
"That'll work," Xander decided. "Could use the stress relief anyway." That got a nod and Dean drove them off. He seethed and planned and plotted. Then he figured out what he wanted to do and how to do it. They went to a different motel this time, letting Sam check them in while Xander went to do a bit of shopping. He needed a few things. Dean could play poker for a few minutes. He came out of the store with what he needed and the other things in a small bag on his waist. Plus a new outfit because the girls were right, sometimes you had to have the special outfit for the special times. He walked over to the law firm, staring up at it. Then he walked inside and started to throw the holy water around. People shrieked and ducked and ran. "Good," he sneered. "That's for messing with me." He got onto the elevator, smiling at the guard next to him. "Hi, Xander Harris, White Knight of Sunnydale." The man wet himself. "Your people have been trying to kidnap and discredit me. I've had enough." He got off on the floor the guard pushed. "Thank you, sir. I'd quit and check for a soul clause. They like to do that from what I hear."
He pulled something out and headed into the main meeting area, letting his sword expand again. A few of them got up and backed away. "Oh, don't worry, I'm here to settle a small dispute." He cleaved the table in half then stared at the one at the head of the table. "I'm Alexander Harris. White Knight of Sunnydale. Buffy's champion and now a general demon hunter." The man started to splutter. "Your office and others in your shady, shitty, decrepit organization have tried to have me kidnaped, tried to have the car bugged, tried to ruin my stash of money, which I got from Janus personally when I asked nicely after saving his high priest. I've had enough. That's why I'm here," he finished with a smile. He pulled a gun and shot the ones that silver worked on then got the others with the sword. He looked at the three remaining members then pulled out a vial, cracking it open before crushing it under his foot. The demon that appeared was huge, slobbering, slightly intelligent. "Good morning."
"These ones saved me."
Xander smirked as he looked at him. "So you gave up part of your soul and essence to them? Do you know what they're going to do with it since they're trying open the hellmouth and let the First Evil out? Do you know where you'll end up when it comes?"
The demon looked at him. His kind weren't higher demons by any means and they had stories about what happened when the Old Ones had been around. "Will it come?"
"They're on the third step in Sunnydale. We're working to stop it. They think I'm a good sacrifice to open the seal."
The demon sniffed him. "No, you're alive. Not a minion of the evil." He looked at the dead bodies. "Can I snack?"
"You go right ahead. Consider it a present as long as you tell the others what's going on." The demon nodded, nibbling on an arm he ripped off. Xander pulled out two more and made them appear, waving at them. One shrieked in anger. "Morning."
"Why does a hunter have us!" she demanded.
"Because he bought you after Wolfram and Hart sold you." He pointed. "The same way they want to sell me to release the First Evil. Do you want to end up a minion?"
She sneered and turned to the remaining three. "I know of them."
"Good. A present for your release party. Then leave Las Vegas after you're done with the lawyers here. Or else hunters are going to come for you." He looked at the silent one, nodding. "Morning, Great One D'Hoffryn."
"Harris. No Anyanka?"
"We broke up. I'm with a hunter now."
He hummed and nodded. "They do serve a purpose."
"Not much of one that stupid minions can't duplicate. They're trying to take what's mine. They're even trying to sacrifice me to open the Seal." D'Hoffryn shuddered. "Yes, exactly. And get this, they think I'll be able to bring on the Everlasting Night."
D'Hoffryn looked at him. "They do serve a purpose."
"Yeah, well, not enough of one. As an injured person and an insulted one, which you are over, I would like to request that you take their mission into better hands. Reduce their efficiency, kill the senior partners of all but the LA branch, Angel can handle them. Maybe even make it so they have to work for the Light. Which would be just as helpful to their mission really." D'Hoffryn looked interested. "I do wish that they had to work for the light and their senior partners of all but the LA board were dead and gone."
D'Hoffryn laughed. "You worded that well."
"Don't want to risk Angel and get the Powers onto my ass again. They might make Willow do another lust spell on me and make people pay me for looking good in leather." He smirked. "Anya still saying she's sore?"
"Indeed. You made it so she couldn't work for two days."
"Dean had her. I only teased, D'Hoffryn. They had to spell clean me again." The senior demon shuddered. "By the way, anything I can personally do to keep the First Evil out of this plane?"
"Don't die there." He looked at them. "Wish granted. You're an annoyance and he's right, new fledges would be better suited to your jobs." He waved a hand and Xander found himself outside. He reshrumk the sword. The Higher looked at him. "That was dangerous."
"They were selling magical artifacts and the parts of the demons they confiscated in fees around the corner. Even yours." He handed over the sword. "I do believe that should be in England."
He looked then nodded. "It should be. I'll have it returned." He studied the boy. "No, there is nothing you can personally do. It will take seven slayers." Xander nodded his thanks and the demon faded out. That had been a bit of fun.
Xander strolled off, whistling a happy, cheerful tune. He ran into a person he knew, stopping to look at him. "Wes?"
"Xander?" He looked him over. "Oh, dear."
"Relax. I just had to talk to the Wolfram and Hart board with some of the demons they had sold parts of and a magical sword."
Wesley winced. "What were they doing this time?"
"Trying to use me to open the Seal in Sunnydale." Wesley looked confused. "The First Evil stuff, Wes?"
"I hadn't heard. I've been on vacation for a week or so."
"It's been going on for over a week, Wes. The Council being blown up, all that?" Wesley moaned. "Are you all right?" He shook his head. "What day do you think it is?"
"The Ides of March?"
Xander looked at his watch then at him. "Wes, it's September." He took his arm and walked him off. "C'mon." He led him to the nearest police officer he could find. "Officer, this is a friend of mine from home I just found wandering around. He's had a head injury or something. He thinks it's March." The guy looked at his own watch then at Wesley. "Can I get you to call him an ambulance while I call his coworkers and friends?"
"I can do that," he agreed, reaching for his radio. "No bike, sir?"
"I had to go thrill someone with my hot ass in the leather," he said with a grin.
The officer laughed but called for an ambulance while Xander pulled out his phone and called a number in LA. "Gunn, Xander. Found Wes. Las Vegas. He thinks it's March. I'm having him taking to the ER. Yeah, he did. Had to talk to the law firm for hell about their desire to see me bloody and broken over the Seal. Yup. Fixed. Found them selling bad things. Pointed it out. Offered a solution from on Higher authority. They're going to behave." An ambulance pulled up. "It's here. Hold on." He put it against his shoulders. "Hey, guys, this is Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Hyphenated. He's a Brit citizen working in LA with a PI. He thinks it's the Ides of March and he's had a few head injuries recently. I'm on with his coworker and medical contact."
One of the paramedics took the phone. "Sir, do you know if he has any allergies?" He waited the other guy dug that out and they got Wesley into the back to look at him. "We can do that. Desert Palms, sir. That's where he'll be. Probably in observation. Anything we should know?" He wrote something down. "Thank you. Your number?" He wrote that down as well. He looked at the young guy. "Dark hair, brown eyes, dark forest green leather body suit that's very tight. Biker boots. Sunglasses in his hair. Thank you, sir. Of course. Call there in about an hour and tell them when you'll be in to pick him up if he can go home." He hung up and tossed Xander back the phone. "Thank you."
"I've been banged on the head before for the same reason," he admitted dryly. "You be good, Wes. Gunn's coming." He nodded. "I'll even call Giles if you want."
"Please don't. He'll laugh."
"He did at my last one too," he admitted. "I'll let Gunn or Fred tell them." He smiled. "Have a good trip and flirt with the nurses for me." He waved and the paramedics took him off. He looked at the Officer, who was still looking amused. "Have you ever had someone who wanted to kidnap you, sacrifice you in a three-day blood rite, and then use you as a sex toy? That's the week I've had." The officer walked off laughing. Xander went in the other direction, running into Sam first. Who gaped in horror. He grinned. "Wolfram and Hart were selling parts they had taken in fees."
"I wasn't turned, Sam."
"Standing in the sun, Sammy. Not a vamp."
"If you're sure." He took a picture of him and sent it to Dean's phone. Dean's text back looked like swearing. "Maybe you should go change?"
Xander grinned. "But I'm comfy!" He smirked. "Think Dean'll growl?"
"I can pretty well promise that."
"Send it to Dad?"
"I can do that too." He sent it to his father's text ID. Someone had sent the new one to Dean the other day. "Go change?"
"Going clubbing at the biker bar." He walked off, taking Sam with him. "C'mon, little brother."
"I'm the same age you are."
"I'm sleeping with your older brother, that makes you my little brother too."
"Whatever," he decided. He looked. Xander had picked a bar full of racing bikes. "I know nothing about bikes."
"I do, Bobby taught me. He thinks I should ride one. Less dangerous."
"Um, probably not. Hard to hide the luggage."
"Not if I get saddle bags with some magic coating from Willow. She said she could do that for my birthday." He walked him inside, smiling at the bartender. "I'm picking out my first bike this week. This is my little brother-in-law. Who rides that blue one? I've heard good things and I wanted to ask an expert opinion."
He pointed. "See the guy in the blue flannel. Him."
"Thank you." Xander walked back there, smiling at the guys. "Hi, I needed to ask an expert opinion from a rider about my first bike."
"The outfit's too tight," one guy said with only a glance at him. "Doesn't bring out your eyes either."
"I look hot in other ways. You ride the pretty blue one with the crackle finish?" He looked up and nodded, not taking his pool shot. "How does it do on long drives? I have to do a lot of traveling for work." He pulled a stool over and sat. "Does it handle well at higher speeds, like above highway speeds? Is it going to be worth it to buy one?"
He took his pool shot then looked at the kid again. "For longer rides like you're thinking, it might get uncomfortable to be that bent over for so long. How many miles are you talking a month?"
"We used to go about six hundred a month," Sam said. "If not over twelve hundred some months. Xander works in the family business with us. We're delivery couriers."
The guy nodded. "Then a racing bike handles well enough for the quick trips but highway trips you're going to be bent over for a very long time. Also, no luggage room. Now, touring bikes are made for that."
"Yeah but they're heavy. I'd rather have something light that I can get on and go without prepping the windshield and all that. I have an iPod for music."
That got a nod. "Then what about a classic roadster?"
Xander considered it. "Would it stand up to it?"
"Yeah, a few of the regular harleys are great on road trips," another guy said. "I have a racing bike for in town and a BMW touring bike for road trips to bike conventions. My brother rides a Sportster and he likes it a lot for traveling. Solid but not too heavy. Still get the freedom of the road without all the safety features. Touring bikes can be like mini cars some days." Xander nodded at that. "I think you'd look good on a harley."
Xander grinned. "Thank you, guys. You've been a great help. Oh, eight off the nine to bank the shot." He grinned and walked out with Sam following him. He found a nearby bike shop and went to browse models.
"Xander, you can't make out with him on the bike," Sam complained.
"If girls can do it on a horse I can do it on a bike." He looked at him. "Besides, the car is too crowded with all of us."
Sam nodded that was true. It was awkward having all three of them in the Impala. Dean stomped in and he waved. "The nice bikers told him what models to look at."
Dean looked at Xander in the leather then shook his head. "Hell no. You can't hunt with us if you're on a bike, Xander. We can't talk to you."
"Radios," he said.
"No!" He walked him off, taking him outside. "No. It's safer if we stick together."
"D'Hoffryn is making the evil bastards work for the light."
"I don't care!" He frowned. "Huh?" Xander grinned. "How?" he asked patiently.
"They were selling the parts they collected as fees."
"That's going to be messy, huh?"
"No." He smirked at Sam then back at Dean. "You two need to ride together, Dean. I can always meet you places, stay in the same room, all of that."
"No. It'll break the team up, Xander."
"What about for when he has to be on his own?" Sam asked. "There's times you have to split up."
Xander pointed. "See?"
"No." Dean walked him off, taking him back to the motel. "It's not good for the partnership. Dad and I had troubles coordinating because he was in the truck and I was in the car. It doesn't work that well for me." He shoved Xander into the room and closed the door in Sam's face, looking his lover over. "If you were going for hot, I'd have gotten chocolate brown."
"Theirs was cow brown or shit brown. I didn't like either one. This way I kinda match your eyes."
Dean smirked. "I noticed that. I look great against you. You look like a rent boy. Again. Is it something about being in Vegas?"
Xander smirked. "The bikers thought it was a bit tight. You don't think I should?"
"I think it'd be a pain, Xander. Anywhere you store it would mean traveling to get to it when you needed it." Xander nodded, sitting down, his thighs spread a bit. "Too tight?"
"No, airing out my balls. Leather's hot in the desert."
"Guess I'll have to take it off." He unzipped the top and threw the jacket onto the room's small table, getting a very interested look from his lover. The bag went next. Then the snap was opened. Dean was staring now. Xander was hard and it hurt in these pants so he released the zipper slowly, showing off his pubic fur. Dean growled. He turned and bent over to undo his boots and kick them off. Dean pounced him onto the bed, getting the pants off him. "Didn't like it after all?"
"You went out without underwear. Anyone could've tried to get what's mine, Xander."
Xander grinned. "They didn't."
"I don't care. Still too naughty."
"We sent a picture to Dad."
Dean snickered. "Maybe he'll come out of hiding to paddle you." He kissed him, leaning down to deal with his lover's energy. He needed to wear some of it out before he ended up in the ER from exhaustion too. Someone knocked. "Go away, Sammy! I'm busy and you're interrupting!"
"See you in a few hours at Circus Circus, guys." He hurried off.
Xander smirked. "Good. No more little brother watching. I felt like a living sex ed session."
Dean laughed, bending down to kiss him. "I taught him that too." He took another kiss then moved down. Xander was going to be debauched by the time they met up with Sammy again. Even if he did have to invest in sex toys and handcuffs.
John Winchester pulled his truck off the side of the road to look at the new message his son had sent him. What he saw made him moan in misery. The followup message made him happier. It said Xander hadn't been turned, but he was looking at motorcycles. The last one that had just come in said that Xander had taken Dean to the ER for the thrown back and chest pains he was having from their bout of sex and Sam promised they'd be fine. He called his son's phone to leave a message. "Wear Xander out more often, Dean. Otherwise he stockpiles it and you end up in the ER. Take the leather away, make Sammy wear it. He might look good and Buffy wants to cuddle him. Tell Xander his spot is in your front seat and not on some hog. Be safe and careful, boys." He hung up, shaking his head. A helpful cop pulled up beside him so he went back to the picture. "My son-in-law."
The cop laughed. "Being naughty?"
"The reason my son's in the ER," he said. "Chest pains."
The cop laughed. "That's fine. Might wanna turn on your blinkers, sir." He got back into his car and headed off again.
John shook his head. Poor Dean's sanity. He hadn't played with Xander enough and he was in a playful mood. Dean would have to resort to kinky stuff like handcuffs and traumatize poor Sammy. Who had probably never thought about more than the backseat of a car being kinky in the past, like he had. Xander could be a bit worldly in sex stuff since Anya had tutored him.
Angel looked up as Gunn walked into his office. "What was it?"
"Not English. I got him at home finally. I'm thinking it might be some alternate universe Wes. I sent Fred to help him just in case it's going to come down to science stuff." That got a nod. "Other bad news." Angel moaned and dropped his pen. "Xander went *off* on Wolfram and Hart in Las Vegas. Found them selling demon parts that they were taking as fees and released it on their board. Including a vengeance demon from what I heard. He excluded you and the board here, but he wished that they would work for the light instead." Angel whimpered. "Then he went off wearing some tight ass leather bodysuit that made my contact cry and want to toss off as English says."
Angel looked up at him. "The one thing I learned back in Sunnydale was not to piss Harris off. He's slightly insane, creative, a bad enough geek to come up with some really bad ideas, and more than willing to pay you back when you upset him."
"They tried to have him be the blood to open the Seal."
"He's not a minion of evil."
"I know that, you know that, they don't. He passed on the message through Fred's email that if it wasn't the Seal it was our next one he'd be sacrificed for." Angel nodded, looking tired all of a sudden. "So he's fixed that hopefully. How did he get major money?"
"When he freed Rayne from the military he had a book that contained a piece of Janus' essence. He had him help him make a wish on it for freeing him."
"Money to hide himself from all the demons and watchers?" Angel nodded. "Then why is he hunting?"
"Because he realized people die when he doesn't," Angel admitted. "The same reason you do, Gunn." He nodded, leaving it there. "Leather bodysuit?"
"Like the biker kids wear for racing bikes. Two piece, with boots."
Angel shuddered. "I don't need that mental image."
"In dark green."
"Even worse. Go away before you bring me really horrible news." Gunn walked off laughing. Angel put his head down. The very thought of Xander in leather like that brought up the thought of him being a vampire. Fortunately Cordelia had told him all about the wish verse one night while she was drunk after failing an audition due to the demon of the week. He would not be turning Xander. Ever. No one else would be either if he had his way.
Dean looked at Xander a few days later when they finally got some more time alone. "What's wrong?"
Xander frowned. "Were you possessed? That's usually my line."
"No, but you haven't been talking."
"Apparently I bother Sam with it. He asked me if I never quit talking."
"Sammy can get over his ass." Xander looked at him. "He can. He's my brother and you two are both being annoying at the moment."
Xander scowled. "He's shocked and I'm trying to hold on."
"I can tell." He looked at his boyfriend then shrugged. "Want me to smack him around?"
"No, I think we need to do something slightly different. The car's too crowded for the three of us, Dean."
"I know the back seat's not comfortable...." he started quietly.
Sam bounced over to their table. "Food's ready." Xander started to get up but Dean stood up and went to help carry the trays. Sam glanced at Xander then at his brother. "Everything okay?"
"It's a bit cramped in the car for privacy," Dean said dryly.
"We'll figure it out, Sammy." He carried the food back, letting Xander have his. "I still don't like the idea of you getting your own."
Xander looked at him. "It'd be easier in case we had to break up to hunt, Dean."
He shrugged. "Still a pain in the ass to call whenever I pull off."
"Unless it's an emergency, why would you?"
"Dad made us," Sam told him.
"He didn't when I was still driving my heap."
"He's paranoid about Dean getting lost again," Sam said with a smirk for his brother.
"I didn't get lost, I knew where I was going. I was going to look at the topless beach." He dug into his lunch, waving his fork at Xander, who dug in too. It had been Xander's choice to have Chinese. It wasn't too bad. Huge servings. A bit spicy. Something other than burgers. Why Xander had gotten turkey lo mein he wasn't sure. "Turkey?"
"Something other than beef and chicken." He ate a bite. "I need some variety in my diet or else Willow will come yell. Again."
"As long as she makes more cookies," Dean said. "I can withstand some yelling." He looked at Sam then at his boyfriend again. "Any word?"
"Not a lot. I passed back what I heard and Giles walked off muttering to look up what he meant. I'm waiting to hear if they need me or us." He ate another bite.
"How bad can it be?" Sam asked. Xander stared at him. "Not to jinx it but overall?"
"They blew up the headquarters of the people who could stop them, Sam. There's a lot less of them than there should be." He shuddered. "They're looking at a major battle. The last one was graduation and I led that one."
"Maybe Dad's there," Dean muttered.
Xander shrugged. "No idea. I asked, they haven't seen him yet either. Willow's looking but she hasn't found him." He ate another bite, thinking about it. He texted Buffy the world 'update'. He got back a two-message update and nodded. "Giles found what he needs with the seven slayers comment. Now he's working on the weapon. Apparently someone showed up with a lot of stuff magically." He looked down as another message showed up. "They're there. They think they have it." He typed back another one. She sent back a no. "She says they won't need us. They have enough of the girls and they're starting a bigger plan." That got a nod from Dean. He looked at him. "Do we want to stay on this coast, just in case?"
"Unless we're in the town, would we be able to get there in time?" Sam asked.
Xander looked at him. "It rarely takes less than a half hour and there's a bunch of ghosts we can deal with outside town." He looked at Dean. "You wanted to look at the family home the last time."
"Did it while you were gone in LA." Xander nodded at that. "Buffy thought it was odd but she helped and went 'fire pretty'."
"She had flashbacks to the neanderthal beer?"
"Neanderthal beer?" Sam mouthed.
Xander grinned. "I was bartending at this little pub like bar in Sunnydale by the college. A bunch of the frat boys had been coming in. Buffy and her boyfriend of the moment who only wanted in her panties too. The owner hated the frat boys so he had his brother-in-law mix him up some herbs that brought them back to that fun point. Brow ridge included." He smirked then ate another bite. "She still managed to do pretty good. Even if she did nearly get burnt alive going 'fire pretty'."
Dean shook his head quickly. "We stopped the guy?"
"That's where the fire was. Though I did find out what he used." He smirked and went back to his lunch. He looked at his phone when it rang, frowning. He called. "What do you mean my father was killed?" He listened. Then he nodded. "Well, I guess they wanted to be drunk then. Any other cheery news?" He nodded. "I can." He listened to Willow tell him not to come back. "We'll figure that out later. Hand Buffy back the phone?" She hung up. He called Buffy's cellphone again. Willow hung up again. So he called Anya's cellphone. "You at the Magic Box? Hand Buffy the phone. Without handing it to Willow." She did that. "So, what do we need me to plan? And Riley's *so* going to be of bigger help since half his team was eaten and now he's a Fed?" he countered. She made whining noises. "He got sucked into Homeland, Buffy. What do we need me to plan?" He listened while she went over the current ideas. "Buffy, you can't draw them out without it being a worse fight," he said gently. She groaned.
"I'm sorry. If you need to do it that way, then you have to do it there unless you plan on moving furniture in the middle of a battle?" He nodded. "How many are we looking at?" He winced. "I can be back there tonight if you need me to, Buffy. Not like I wasn't at the last one," he said dryly when she protested he wasn't going to be needed. He nodded at her advice. "Fine, I'll do that. Where are we falling back to?" He nodded. "I can at least head that way. Have you talked to his crew since you won't let me be there?" He smirked. "Thought so. Yeah. I can help, Buffy. Still. Really." She said something and he glared at the phone then put it back against his ear. "I won't dignify that with an answer over the phone since we're in public at the moment," he said coolly. "Because not like you did it last time, Buffy. No, I led that battle. You distracted. Ask Giles and Willow if you don't remember." She said something else then hung up. He put his phone back, trying to stay calm.
"Same shit, different day?" Dean asked. Xander nodded, making himself eat. "What's going on?"
"They don't even want me closer because I'm too normal for this one and how would I know what battles are like since I only *led* the last one," he said coldly.
Dean stared him down. "You did a great job and you kept a lot of people from dying," he said quietly. Xander slumped but nodded. "She's trying to spare you from being hurt or killed."
"She said they've got a huge force and no one's sure how many. She had a plan to grab the thing they have to bleed onto and move it outside the hole, then do it. In the middle of a battle."
"They need sense," Sam said.
"Which means they've got to go into the hole?" Dean asked. Xander nodded, still trying to make himself eat. "Calm down. We'll help where we can, Xander."
Xander looked at him. "I know. I don't know why the switch was flipped again. Then she mentioned her ex, Riley. Initiative boy. He's in Homeland now so he won't be of much help."
Dean nodded. "If they're going to have to go in there, they won't need a plan, Xander. They'll need more hands, but they won't need more than a 'we go in this way, do it if we survive, then run like hell' plan." He nodded, slumping some. "The fact that they're keeping you from being one of the hands they need I'll take up with them later."
Xander nodded, going back to eating. "It's going to be over a month."
"Then we'll handle it," Dean reminded him. "And maybe get Dad that way. He'd hate it if the world ended and she could use a good, swift kick." Xander nodded. "Giles?"
"Not in today." He ate another bite. "Willow was adamant I wasn't skilled enough for this."
"Willow needs her ass busted again," Dean said. Xander nodded, relaxing further so he wasn't eating automatically. Dean stole a bite of his turkey, nodding. "Not bad with the sauce." Xander grinned at that, eating more and getting up to get some more wontons. He texted the new ID he had for his father, letting him know that he needed to move that way too. Then he dug back in when Xander came back. "I texted Dad."
"Maybe she'll listen to him since she's not listening to me or Giles." He nibbled, looking at Sam. "Yes, this is an ongoing problem. This is why I left. After four years, two of them like that." He ate another fried bit of wonton after dipping it in the duck sauce. Dean smirked and stole a few. "Sure, I share." He ate another bite. "That leaves our primary problem and any secondary cases. Did they send anything?"
"Willow did. She found Meg," Sam said. "A bit more information too."
Xander looked at Dean. "I'm wondering if we can find something like I did in Vegas."
Dean frowned. "The leather catsuit?"
"No, that's in my weapons bag. The bits and pieces thing." He stared at him. "If so we can use it to summon or trap him."
"That's going to take buttloads of magic," Sam said.
"Willow's not the only practicing one," Dean told him. "We've run to a few of them for help when she was going bad." He stared at Xander. "Do you think you know of one?"
"Don't know. I can have Angel ask around for me."
"That could help. I'd like a fuller plan," he admitted. Xander nodded. "We need to sure the gun will kill it."
Xander looked at him. "It should." He finished up his wontons and leaned on the table. "There's six or seven things I think could if it won't. Or hey, I can be totally impractical and want to lead him out there so the First can smack him around for being a poor minion."
"I doubt they need that stress," Dean said. "Besides, he might hate her coming up and...." He stared at Xander. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend?"
"It often takes longer than a year to plan an apocalypse. I figure that the ones with their own ideas are really pissed at the ones who're ruining them by trying to get there first. I'd be really pissed if I wanted to take over the world and someone got there first, ruining all my hard work. I mean, the mayor took a century to plan his and get there."
Dean nodded slowly. "Which could be a help to her."
"If Angel thinks of it," Xander agreed. Dean smirked, calling him. "So, Sam." He grinned. "If I have to go, watch the idiot there for me please?"
"I can do that. Do you think you'll need to?"
Xander nodded. "Yeah. I think they've got eighteen girls at the moment. Partially trained at best, Dawn said whiny, girls." Dean shuddered. "And Spike." That got another shudder from Dean. "So yeah, I think they'll need help."
Dean hung up. "Could be. Angel said there's a few others who would lend their minions to help stop the First. He said you were right, they'd hate having their plans crushed by it." He stared at Xander. "It'll be fine, Xander."
"It won't be fine. They're pulling a major battle."
"They've done it before we were born. They'll do it again after we're born. We're cogs in this system, not a wheel ourselves."
"Some cogs are still more important. As shown by Buffy wanting to move furniture during the battle."
"True," he admitted. "If they need you to plan, they'll call or send for you." Xander nodded. "Make sure you paid your phone bill."
"Did in advance last month. Yours too." Dean smiled. "Where are we heading?"
"We were heading toward the east coast," he admitted. "Do we want to stop in Chicago? See if we can deal with this Meg person?"
Xander sighed, leaning on the table again. "I'm not so sure that won't cause more problems." He tapped the laptop in front of Sam, getting a nod. "I want more intel before we take her on. If she wants us before then, make her come to us."
"That could backfire," Dean warned.
Xander nodded. "True. Then again I've been hearing rumors that she doesn't want to kill any of us. Especially not Sammy." Dean gave Sam an odd look, getting a shrug back. "The only one I've made contact with that way says that she wants Sam, but we're good leverage at the moment."
"So we may be expendable but Sammy isn't," Dean said thoughtfully. Xander nodded. "Huh." He looked at Sammy again. "Why want you?"
"I have no idea."
"Me either. I haven't heard a reason." He frowned. Then up the hall. "Hey, guys, how many insomniac vampires are in the world?" They looked at the vampire up and wandering around the middle of the mall. It was clear she was, she still had dirt on her. Ancient clothes. Xander stared. "She could be alive. She's breathing," he said quietly.
"See if she hits on you," Dean told him. "Then we'd be sure she was evil." Xander gave him a dirty look. "We would." The vampire wandered past them, dropping something onto their table. He looked at it. "Aww, someone sent an engraved invitation, Xander."
Xander took it to open, frowning at it. "Yeah, to a talk." Dean took it back and Sam took it from him. "We can do that." He stood up. "Let me go clean up to get presentable." He went to the bathroom, then followed the dirt trail back up the mall, finding a 'goth playground' place. He walked into the store and looked around. "Hmm, local ones don't wear leather?" he asked the guy behind the counter.
"Not usually. Too stinky if you don't clean it often enough. Yours?"
"Too often. That's how we tell." That got a nod. "I got an invitation?" The guy pointed. "Thank you." He walked back there, finding someone sitting at a table. "This your Madam Zorka act?" he asked dryly.
She stared at him. "Smartass knight."
"Very." He sat down when she pointed at the chair. "Why was I invited?"
"Those here wanted to talk to one about changing over."
"Then I'd have to hunt them."
"They don't plan on being hunted."
"None of them do." She frowned. "As for knowing a few Master vampires? I do. One's in LA working as a PI. The other's helping with an emergency at the moment." She nodded. "If they wanted it that badly, go see Angel. Give him the truth and let him talk them out of a lifetime of death." One woman came screaming out of the back with a stake so he disarmed her then sat back down, looking at the supposed fortune teller. "It'd be easier and kinder on the world if you playacted. Fewer people die that way. Including the hunters when some of us run into you."
She nodded. "I'll let them know that you said that." He nodded, standing up. "Is there any service we can do for you?"
"Know anything about the demon after Sam?"
"Meg? A bit. She searches. She will not bother keeping you two to overpower him."
He nodded. "Figured that out. She's actively searching?"
"Her plans come soon, Knight."
"Thank you." He walked out, heading out to the car. Which wasn't there. He glared and looked around then pulled out his watch. He had a chip on the car and a GPS reading for it. He loved multifunction watches. He needed to put one of these on Buffy. He found it nearby and frowned. It wasn't moving. He walked off shaking his head. He headed for the bus station. Maybe he should head back to Sunnydale? It was a good sign Dean and Sam could handle it without him. He heard the car drive up beside him. "Made yourself plain, Dean."
"Get in the damn car, Xander." Xander stopped to look at him. "Now. We fell back to see if you needed help."
"It was kids who wanted to find a master to turn them."
"Figured that much since it was in the mall. Get in." Sam was in the back so Xander walked around and got into the passenger's seat. "Thank you. Stubborn asshole."
Xander looked at him. "Should I even mention ...."
Dean covered his mouth. "Don't." He removed the hand and they were off again. "Get anything?"
"Meg's actively searching. She's got plans that include overpowering Sammy and killing us once she's made him meek."
"Figured that much. Searching?" Xander nodded. "So she's got a plan."
"We still don't know a lot about how and what she can do," Xander reminded him.
"So? We'll figure it out when we see the wench." He turned onto the interstate.
"Um, Dean, we never packed the room," Xander said dryly.
"We did," Sam said.
"His other bag's still back there, Sam. I still have a key."
"Oooh." He watched as Dean used one of the turnarounds in the median to get them back to the motel so they could check out. Sure enough, Dean's bag was on the bed and Xander's stuff took a few minutes to gather. Then Xander got his usual spot in the backseat again. That was too cramped for Sam's body. The front was but the back was worse since Dean had the seat pushed back. Dean gave him an odd look. "Keeping down highway sex," he said dryly.
"We haven't done that since the traffic cop caught us because he was weaving," Xander quipped. "Dad was not amused."
Sam looked at him. "He knew?"
"Yeah, that was right before he disappeared."
Sam shuddered. "I'm sure he yelled."
"No, he nearly took my head off," Dean told him, "but otherwise he said 'young men are stupid' as he walked off."
Sam looked at Xander. "Did you break Dad?"
"Maybe," he admitted. "If not, Willow might've." Dean snickered. "She could have."
"Could," he agreed. He turned up the radio as they pulled back onto the highway. "Chicago here we come."
"Pity the poor city," Xander agreed. "But hey, the tv show said they have mounties."
"Slap him, Sammy." Sammy swatted Xander for him.
Xander watched Sam and Dean dance around each other while arguing about who got what job this time. He was very tired of this. Sam joining their team had changed everything and Xander wasn't about to hold Dean back from his family. After three weeks of this, he was so tired. So when he snapped, he snapped large. "Oh, just have sex and quit!" he yelled. They both stared at him, giving him horrified looks. "It's pretty clear to the rest of us."
"Xander," Dean said, moving closer. "This isn't...."
Xander held up a hand to stop him. "I had to watch Buffy and Angel do the same dance, Dean. It is. It kinda sucks and it is." He grabbed his stuff and left, taking the bag from the car on his way. He also took the weapons he had bought, plus a few special bullets he had been working on. He could hear Dean yelling at Sam and sighed, heading off into the night. The bus station had lockers and he had the money for a ticket wherever. He called Sunnydale first. "It's me. Do you need me, Giles? Because the last time I talked to Buffy she was planning on moving furniture during the battle." He listened to the problems he had going on out there. "Where do you need me? Because Dean's being a bitch, Giles. Where?" He nodded. "I can do that. How close? What sort of building? Any necessities that have to show up? Thank you." He hung up and hid the guns for a minute then went in to get his bus ticket. The bags went into a locker. "Gotta get food and reading material," he said at the odd look the attendant gave him. He left, picking up the gun and bullets, heading to the cemetery they needed to dig up tonight. Those two were too busy playing verbal footsie to get on with the job. He'd let it be his going away present.
He found the right grave and looked around as he put on the silencer he had developed for his shotgun, then fired rocksalt rounds into the coffin. A higher water table meant that the old style, without a crypt around it, coffin was close enough and he had picked a rifle with a very strong thrust. After five rock salt rounds down the length of the coffin he attached wires into another shell and carefully loaded it so the wires wouldn't catch. It would really suck if it did. He fired that one, hitching the end of the wires to the switch in his jacket pocket. The thermite bullet shattered as it went off, lighting the salted corpse. He looked then smiled and walked off, gun being broken down into the component parts with a new bag he bought for carry on material. Food, books, gun. Knife. As long as no one checked he'd be fine. And hey, now they could get on with the fun sex stuff as Anya called it. The bus to Cleveland got there about a half hour after he returned, letting him pay the extra for his extra bag. The driver grimaced at the weight. "Sorry, I'm moving. It's a family heirloom." That got a nod and it was more carefully put under the bus, in a corner so nothing could hit it. Not that it'd dent his battle axe or the money....
Xander looked around the building the realtor had found, nodding. "This'll do. It's dirty but it'll work." He looked at her. "You've talked to Rupert?" She nodded, letting him sign the papers. "How long?"
"It's been empty for a long time. Do you want a structural analysis done or an appraisal?"
"I worked construction," he said with a grin. "I already know what needs to be done and the few back-of-the-lot buildings that aren't safe are going to probably be torn down and rebuilt anyway." She nodded, understanding that. "But for now, we're moving a few of the younger students this way to help so they learn good life skills. They'll be here in about six days."
"I can rush it through. When you called before you got into town I pulled up everything I needed." She hugged the folder of paperwork to her chest. "I didn't think LA was that dangerous."
"We're from right outside LA, right near where that mini earthquake hit yesterday. It made us all a bit too nervous." She nodded, understanding that. He wasn't sure why the hellmouth was causing mini earthquakes but it had helped clear the town out faster. "With the way things have been we were planning on a slower move but that made it a bit more necessary. Some of the buildings were damaged."
"I understand. Let's go back to my office and we'll see what I can do to expedite it." She led him back to her car, smiling at the nice sale. No one wanted this old, haunted property. It was huge, falling in in some spots, and it was going to take a lot of money to make it liveable. Then again, a private school did have those funds. She was sure it'd be a beautiful campus within a year. This one looked very motivated.
John walked into the place Xander had found, looking around. "This needs some paint and spackle."
Xander walked out of a classroom. "It's haunted too. It's a former private school. The dorms are off behind us and to the left, around the hedges." He looked at the sixteen younger slayers that had made it to Sunnydale. Giles had said he was evacuating everyone under fifteen and anyone who could not fight very well. "How many did she keep?"
"Twelve." He looked at the girls. "This is Xander. He used to fight with Buffy until she smarted off too many times and he left to hunt with my son Dean." They nodded, waved, or acknowledged he existed. "Where to first?"
"I've got one room cleaned on the second floor. We can use that for daily lessons. The dorms I'm working on. Let's go, girls." He walked them through the school. "For right now, the second floor is up this staircase," he ordered, pointing at it. They all nodded. "The third room down on the right is cleaned up and we'll use it for meetings, classes, that stuff. We'll be working on the rest soon enough." He led them outside. "As you can see, someone impractical planned this former all girls' private school." A few laughed. "But it gives us room to expand and fix things." He led them down the overgrown path to the dorms. "The one on the left is more structurally sound. None of it is clean yet. Let's start there and then we'll pick rooms?" That got a groan. "Tough. We need things set up at a minimum level before the rest of everyone comes from LA. That's their fall back, right?" he asked John, who nodded. "Good. Let's look, girls." He let them into the dorm, letting them look at the large common room and then the individual, formerly double rooms. "Pick one and clean it. I've got mops and things in the other building." He went to get them, leaving John to make sure everyone got their own room for now. If more girls came they could double up or whatever.
John watched Xander fuss over the cleaning stuff, frowning at him. "What happened?"
"The Sammy and Dean show overrode me and Dean hunting together," he said, giving him a look. "So I gave them the truth. There's a reason everyone thinks they're actually together and they should just do it to get it over with." He handed him a bucket. "Water should be on. The water company was out today. The other building has a leak so the water is off over there totally." He went to get his own bucket and add cleaning fluid to it. One of the girls came out to get it. "Just think, if we can keep the single rooms, you girls get first pick for doing all the nasty work and not getting slimed in the hellmouth." She smiled but went back to her cleaning. Xander left to clean in the main building. Yeah, it'd need work but they could deal with it for now. The broken chairs got tossed out a window on the left side of the building. They could recycle them into stakes or trash them later. Whatever Giles decided. Xander got to work on the rest of everything, finding a few rooms locked. He wasn't going to wonder why yet. He'd wonder why later. He got another classroom cleared and hiked the working seats to the one they'd be using for daily classes and other lectures. Then he moved on. There was a lot of work to do.
John did a bed check and found Xander collapsed on a couch. He gave him a nudge. "Go to bed, Xander."
"This is my bed while we have the ghosts I haven't been able to find the reason for."
"How haunted is this place?"
"I've seen almost a full classroom of ghosts." He looked at him. "I'm still looking for the reason. There weren't any deaths here."
"So someone's holding or summoning the ghost here? Could it be the hellmouth?" Xander shook his head. "You're sure?"
"It's five miles away to the north. The local city put a small pavilion and outhouse overtop of it." John laughed. "So it's not that. I have all the records and I've gone over them. Not even a suspicious, unsolved disappearance."
"What was this place?"
"A very exclusive, private, Protestant girls' school."
"So we're halfway to the original use," he decided. "We'll see what we can find. What's your schedule for tomorrow?"
"Setting patrols, training times, all that."
John nodded. "That'll work. They can learn like you did for a few days. Are we showing a buildup?"
"Not yet. Which is why it's safer if one of us takes a few of the girls out each night."
"I can see that. It'll be a little over a week before the others get here."
"Good." He yawned and closed his eyes. "See you in the morning."
"I'm not getting attached."
"Fine." He went to his own borrowed room to think about what had happened. He decided to call his son. "I want your side of it." Dean hung up on him. He looked at his phone. He'd give him a day and try again when he wasn't in a snit.
Xander looked at the girls. "Okay, we're setting patrol and cleaning schedules so we don't all work like dogs. We'll let you set your own, within reason. The way I figure it, we'll have a few days of patrol and you'll get an afternoon cleaning shift, or you'll have an all day cleaning shift but no patrol that night."
"That won't work," John said from his corner seat. "You'll end up having a night of patrol after an all day of cleaning."
"I was thinking a day off in there. Three and three?" John nodded. So Xander wrote it on the chalkboard. "Okay, fix it yourself. You can arrange the three days together, use the day off to break the pattern so you can adjust your sleep schedule. As long as we have at least two of you on shift every night it'll be fine. We don't expect much to happen since this is still a new hellmouth and it's slowly growing in power. There's not many vamps here or anything like that but we can start teaching you the early patrol rituals now and save some wear and tear on Giles later. We'll be alternating nights ourselves so we don't get burnt out either."
"At least until someone more official gets here," John added. "For now, figure out how you want to do things. Xander and I will be checking out the rest of this hallway." They nodded. "If you're good, we'll get ice cream for dessert." They smiled and looked at their chosen schedules, working it out between them. He walked Xander across the hall, looking at the silvery wall behind the classroom's door. "What is that?"
"I'm thinking it's like an energy field. Maybe like a quantum mirror." He shrugged. "I haven't been able to get around them yet. Most of the rooms are locked." He led them up the hall to one he had been looking at. "Help me with this one? I think it's on some sort of screen." They looked and lowered the projection screen, finding a classroom full of ghosts. The teacher floated out to glare at them. "Ma'am, Watchers Council. We're taking over this school," he said quietly. John closed the door. "You do know that you've passed on a long time ago?"
"Of course." She looked at John then at him. "I can feel new students."
"Slayers, ma'am." She grimaced. "Do you know what's keeping you here?" John asked her.
"There's a man who comes around to check on us," she told him.
"Would you know anything about who he was?" John asked. "Or where his remains are?"
She nodded. "They're by the boiler room somewhere. I think he's keeping us here."
"Then we'll arrange for his burial," Xander assured her. "Do we need to worry about the students in there with you?"
She smirked. "No, he called us back."
"Then we'll handle it," John assured her. "Thank you, ma'am. Was he the one who put up the screens?" She nodded and floated back into her classroom, appearing normal to them. "Boiler room?"
"Basement." He looked in on the girls, who were staring outside. "Beast?" he asked, coming over to look. "Buffy's demon dog survived." John groaned, walking off shaking his head. "I'm sure they'll be here soon, girls. Let's finish up so we can work on clearing the spirits here." They nodded, hading him the schedule. "We only have one on Wednesday." He looked at them. "Anyone on the Sunday schedule want to change over?" One girl sighed but raised her hand. "Thank you." He adjusted hers over by a few days and let her see it, getting a nod. "Good. Print your names please." They did that. "Good. Let's follow John. We're going to learn how to salt and burn a corpse to banish the ghost today." They walked out to follow him downstairs. It was going to be a long week.
John found the remains and nodded. "We can do this. Let's get him outside."
Xander looked back at him when John stared his way. "What? The last one I did I shot rock salt shells into then a thermite shell that I set off."
John blinked, frowning some. "Vault around the coffin?"
"Nope. Older one too."
"Huh. I'll have to see if that worked."
"Must have, Sammy didn't say anything about it not working before they moved on."
"Hmm." He looked at the remains. "Got a tarp?" He nodded, getting it for him. "Let's pick him a good spot to be buried in," he ordered the girls.
"Don't they make funeral homes for that?" one girl demanded, looking sickened.
"Yes, but yay," John said. "He's the one that's holding all the ghosts here, Tiff." Why her mother had been so cruel as to name her that he wasn't sure but she was argumentative. "The way to banish ghosts is to find what's holding them, salt the remains with rock salt, then burn them until they're ashes. If they're cremated you burn whatever's holding them here. It releases the ghost. Most funeral homes won't do that."
Xander skipped back down the stairs. "One will. Caufield's. One of the guys on staff called and asked if it had been a problem that brought me. His uncle's a hunter and he knows."
"Want to leave this to them?" Tiff asked hopefully.
Xander stared at her then laughed. "You think this is gross? Oh, honey, please! We've been slimed so many times on patrol it's not funny. You have a whole *lifetime* of nasty laundry ahead of you, dear. Slime and mucus and blood and demon goo and ichor and parts and flesh and ...." She ran to be sick. "Good. Get used to it. Welcome to the wonderful world of being a slayer. Ask Joyce, she can get demon stuff out of nearly anything. She can tell you how." He spread out the tarp next to the body, letting John move it with a shovel. "Okay, let's honor guard it outside, ladies. Do we know his name?"
John looked at the outfit, finding the wallet in the guy's back pocket. "Do now." He showed him.
Xander looked. "The last headmaster. He tried to revive the school about a decade back." That got a nod. "We can plant him by the willow if you want."
"Water's close by it," John said.
"Exactly. In case any of the girls go cave slayer and 'fire pretty' starts to be chanted."
John nodded. "That'll work for me then." They and the girls carried the body out, John stopping to get supplies. "Thermite?"
"Burns at over two thousand degrees," Xander told him. "It will burn bones."
John nodded. "Gas is nice and cheap."
"I can make thermite and I can do it for sixty bucks a gallon barrel. Then you need to light it."
"Hmm. We'll have to test." They found a pretty spot and let the girls dig for a few minutes, Xander stepping in when they got tired and John stepping in when Xander got tired. "Not been keeping up?" he asked the boy dryly.
"I didn't see you hauling the stuff I had Gunn move out of Sunnydale," he shot back. John stared at him. He smirked back. "I wasn't leaving my shit there! I'd miss my shirts."
"I noticed the ugly thing had come back," he said dryly. He gave Xander's current shirt a dirty look then finished digging. "What did you have stored?"
"My stuff. The rest of the weapons, all Giles' books from the library that he had stored, all that. Came out on a small semi the day before you got here."
John moaned. "That's good to know."
"Very." He looked at the body. Then at him. "Want something to pour the ashes into? Or do you want to simply bury them?"
"Let's simply bury. Any coffin would be burnt usually too. I heard about an underground fire in a cemetery that they weren't sure how to put out." Xander just smirked. "Nice work."
"Thank you." They carefully laid the body and tarp in there, then John salted, Xander poured the gas, and the girls all backed away when John lit a piece of paper from his pocket before tossing it down into the mess. The body went whoosh and the girls all stared. One sniffled. Xander looked at them. "Like the Vikings did, it's sending him on his way to a happier afterlife, we hope. Only the Powers know for sure." They nodded, wandering off. "Those on cleaning detail, start on the kitchen please," he called after them. "That's behind the common area and down that red hallway." That got a few nods. "Those on patrol, go make stakes." They went to do that with a small sigh of discontent. He looked at John. "I can tell you from experience, teach them how to sharpen their knives now. It'll help."
"I'll do that this afternoon. Are we cooking?"
"Should. The electric's on. The stove and oven are electric. Slayers eat like a farm full of animals when they've been working hard."
John nodded. "Then we can do that later." He handed Xander the shovel, getting a nod he'd bury the body. Then he went to watch the girls carving stakes, showing them how to do it and then showing them how to sharpen their knives properly. The girls got into it and it was like when Dean was little again. Happy memories.
Xander shoveled the dirt back over the body then went to check on the cleaning crew. They were scrubbing hard so he left them at it after turning on some music. He had his own cleaning to do. Including the library. Because Giles would throw a hissy if his new library was dusty or nasty. He had at the high school.
John did one last round of bed check, nodding at one of the reading girls. "You'll want to sleep."
"I need to call my mother," she admitted. "She's a night owl."
He nodded. "C'mon." He led her outside, letting her use his phone. He listened while she babbled and complained about the cleaning stuff but apparently her mother said it was a good thing because she quit after a few minutes and moved onto Xander being cute. He looked at her. "He's with Dean, Amara."
"Pity." She walked a bit further away and went back to talking to her mother without the nosy adult helping. She was a young teenage girl, she could dream. When she was done she went back to her room and settled in to sleep. She had a long day of cleaning tomorrow.
John called Dean's phone again. Last time he had been hung up on but he had heard the music in the car so he was probably heading somewhere. "Good, you're not driving this time." He found a spot against a tree and sat. "Want to tell me what happened? He is here. Giles had him set up the new base camp while I herded the younger girls this way. Cleveland." He smiled at the note of where they were. "We're doing all right so far. A lot of cleaning. A former girl's school. Sixteen girls. They could use some other mentors but the others are coming at the end of next week. A lot of cleaning," he said dryly. "Sammy could help with that I'm sure and make the girls want to clean." He listened to Dean go outside the motel room to talk in the car. "So, what happened?" He listened to him complain. "In other words, Sammy was uneasy and picked or poked until he drove Xander off?" he asked dryly when Dean ran out of complaints.
"He wasn't able to deal with the fact that Dean had changed," Xander said, coming out to join him. "I get that. Sammy's his brother and family has to come before an easy fuck." He stared at him. "I'm heading to the all night grocery place since you only got enough for dinner. Don't worry about staying up."
"Dad, drop it. Just...don't. Please?" He walked off.
John listened to his son complain. "I told him he could, Dean. Why did that bother Sammy?" He nodded. "You know what, you bring Sammy to me here. We'll talk and then we'll referee while you two talk. Because Xander's moping and I'm sure you're worse than your brother is right now, Deano. Now, get here. That's where we are. Exactly. Could use the help cleaning anyway." He hung up and looked up at the stars, then called Giles. "We need a maid." He laughed at the complaints Giles gave him. "Who said it wasn't saved, Giles? Xander said he heard one of Angel's crew had been moving stuff.
"Well, you'll need a good contractor for a little bit. The girls have been doing a lot of cleaning and complaining about the cleaning. There's a few buildings on the back of the campus that need to be ripped down but that'll give you space to add on. A former girl's school." He smirked at the happiness that caused. "Xander chose well, Rupert. There's enough room for them once you get the second dorm fixed. There's a good space that Xander said the realtor said had been used for soccer and PE. The classroom building has been cleared of ghosts and now we're clearing it of magic and the screens with magic that he put up.
"It's a good choice. Five miles. It's in a park under a pavilion and outhouse. He showed me. We've been taking the girls on gentle patrols around the parks at night just in case things start to build up. It's easier to teach them now than later. No, we take turns and the girls made their own schedules at the moment. Some days cleaning, some days hunting. We're doing good. The boys are closer than you are so they'll be setting up with us. We're good. We could use a decent-enough witch but I can call Bobby to get one of the ones that helped Xander out here to rebless the building. Yeah, it's a good choice. Once it's clean it'll be better. Been over a decade since it was a school, Giles. One of the dorms has a plumbing problem. The basement seeps a bit in places. Nothing you wouldn't expect since the cornerstone of the school part says it was built in 1938. Brick.
"It's fine. I promise, it is. It'll be good enough and we can build on for speciality buildings, like the firing range. Giles, you've got to teach them both styles," he said patiently. "Because this isn't Sunnydale and there are ghosts here. The school had been haunted. We got that one banished and it released the other two hundred or so. Well, I taught lessons on how to sharpen knives," he admitted. "You'll still need a good armory building and the girls should be taught how to use any and all weapons in case something happens. Yes, and Dean still shoots at vampires, Giles." That got a groan from him. "So we can do this. What's your ETA?" He nodded. "Charter a bus, Giles. Flying's going to be faster but more expensive. Charter a bus, leave in a few days. With all the watchers and girls you have, it should be about right to fill one. Exactly. No, we're here.
"Get into the city's limits and I'll give you precise directions. Or to the driver. Sure. Grocery shopping. Because the girls eat like nothing I've ever seen. Even the boys as teenage bottomless pits. I noticed they had too much energy but they went through sixteen chickens that we baked, Giles. Yeah. They've been working hard though. I'm proud enough of that. We might only need one maid by the time you get here." He smirked. "That's fine. I'm here. Xander's around somewhere most of the time. I can do that in a few. Have fun taunting Angel. Xander said it's one of his favorite pastimes." He hung up and looked at the young girl who was in the shadows watching him. "Problems, sweetheart?"
"Nightmares," she complained. She sat down next to him, curling against his side.
"Like the dreams you got that the Turok-Han were coming?"
She shook her head. "Normal nightmares, Mr. John."
"Just John, sweetheart." She nodded, falling back asleep against his side. He'd put her to bed in a few minutes. He called Bobby. "Morning." He looked at his watch. "Sorry. Didn't realize. I was on patrol earlier. Think you can get one of the witches that helped Xander to come out here and help us for a few in Cleveland. This is where the hellmouth moved, Bobby. An old religious school that's got a lot of magic on some projection screens." He saw Xander's car pull in. "Yeah, we could use it. He's here. Did Dean complain to you?" He smirked. "They're having an argument. Sammy wasn't dealing very well so he poked too many times. From what I heard, Xander told them to deal with it and do what everyone thinks they're doing then walked out. Sure, I'm here. Sixteen so far. The younger ones I rode herd on to get them here." He looked at Xander, who was carrying a box. "Need help?"
"I've got it. Get her back to bed." He brought the food into the kitchen and came back out. "Is that Bobby?" John nodded so he took the phone. "I miss having you tell me I'm insane." The other guy laughed. "No, stay out of it, Bobby. Because that's their thing and I'm not going to come between the two brothers. They guard each other better than we do when we were working together. They were meant to cover each other. It'll be fine. Making the girls clean a lot of stuff. Sure. Have a better night." He handed the phone back and picked up the girl, making her squeal. "You're loud." She smiled and snuggled into his arms. "C'mon, back to bed with you. It's chilly out here tonight. Don't want you sick until we find a doc to live with us." He tucked her back into her bed then went to get the rest of the groceries, which John was helping with. "I've got it. You were on patrol, go sleep."
"Not tired yet. Patrol was walking the giggling girls through the park."
Xander looked at him. "Feel thankful it's so easy right now. Pretty soon we'll be bursting their bubbles and it'll get worse when the hellmouth picks up stream."
John nodded. "I know. How're we teaching them that?"
"By then I expect Giles to be here. I'll fall back to the weapons or whatever. I don't want to be a field watcher." He went to get another load of groceries for breakfast, John coming back with a handtruck for the boxes the store had been kind enough to pack things in for him. It made it a lot easier on his back.
Giles walked off the bus, looking at the building in front of him. "It's a beautiful old wreck," he said to Buffy, who nodded.
"I'd hate to be the maid," she said.
John opened the door. "That's a slayer's job sometimes, Buffy. Get in here." She grimaced but walked in. "Rupert, we've got the one dorm mostly cleaned. We might need to still clean some rooms. Your office was cleaned by Xander, so was the library. We have most of the classrooms cleared now thanks to Marilyn. It'll take six more days to finish clearing up the random magic the last guy left lying around when he died in the boiler room. Xander has the girls out in the field for PT doing laps." He looked at Buffy then at Faith. "This way. We can hit the dorms first." The senior slayers got the girls organized and with their bags. Giles paid the driver a tip for putting up with the girls and their music issues. Then he followed. John pointed at things as he led them. "Rupert, library is that way. It's next to the caf in here. The caf is not cleaned. Neither is this kitchen. The dorm one is."
That got a nod from everyone and they kept going. "Office is on the third floor, Rupert. Xander's marked a room that can be used easily enough for an elevator. Also the clinic over here is cleaned to medical and Marilyn's fussy standards, and stocked for minor injuries." That got a smile from Faith. "The girls needed it. One girl was trying to clean the oven while it was on." Buffy moaned, shaking her head. "The second floor is still mostly classrooms. You've got about thirty-eight desks total. The ones down here still need mopped." He led them out the back door. "This is what we're calling the rear yard. By the willow tree is a small pond. It defines the edge of the grounds because there's a curve for some unknown reason. We apparently own all the pond and it's good water. We buried the remains we found near it after banishing the spirit." He walked them on. "The left dorm is open, mostly clean, and the younger girls could use some praise for how well they've done," he announced.
"The right one has a major plumbing issue and Xander hasn't had the time or energy to fix the main water pipe yet. So no water in there but there's electric and heat if we need to open it." Giles nodded at that. "Into the left dorm, ladies." They walked in. "Anything that's really clean and has stuff in it has been taken. They did a lot of the cleaning so they got first pick. Do NOT try to shove the girls out of their rooms," he told one, glaring at her. She shrank down. "Kitchen is past this common room, down the red hallway. Communal bathroom is that way as well. Showers on one side, toilets and sinks on the other." He opened a side door and pointed. "Go a thousand feet that way past the bushes and you're on the PT field."
Giles looked around. "The girls have done an exceptional amount of work."
John leaned out and whistled. "They're here!" he shouted. He heard squeals and got out of the way. The younger ones were so excitable. They were bouncing around Faith and Buffy, dragging them along to show them what they had found, cleaned up, and made pretty for them. He looked at Giles. "Xander said he didn't want to be a field watcher."
"I know. He told me that when I asked. We'll figure out what we're doing later on next week. For right now, he's right, we need to settle into a routine."
John pointed at the schedule board. "That's what we have so far."
He looked then smirked. "I can adhere to that." He looked around. "Ladies, let me look in my office and start a list of things we'll need to buy," he called.
"Tampons," Faith yelled.
"Of course," Giles muttered, cracking John up. "Thankful you have boys?"
"Not that Sammy doesn't act like a girl now and then, but yes. I don't think I could've handled periods or those things." Xander came strolling in. "Late?"
"Picking up stuff the girls dropped. I'm not your maid!" he yelled. The girls came to get their stuff and put it up properly. He looked at Giles. "Your office is clean and there's a list started, starting with tables and chairs for the school and a few new beds over here. We had to scavenge the other building for a few. I listed the major repairs that I saw. A good contractor can probably do all the fixing work within two months, including the schools' roof over the caf. That awning has a few holes." That got a nod and Giles gave him a hug. "Welcome home."
"Thank you, Xander." He walked him off, going to look at his office. It was very nice. Rather stately. Had some of his furnishings from home. "Joyce?"
"And Gunn." He smirked, walking off to start water for tea and coffee. Giles came in a few minutes later and hugged him. "Not like I wanted to lose my stuff, Giles." He got a pat on the back and the old man went to fondle his books. Xander looked out when he heard a familiar pickup truck, smiling at the man getting out. "I've got water on for coffee or tea, Bobby. John's back this way." He nodded, following his voice back to where he was. Xander gave him a hug. "He's back in the dorms avoiding the squealing girls who want to paint."
Bobby laughed, heading back the way Xander had pointed, finding John being babbled at by a bunch of girls. "Glad Sammy's not really a girl?"
"Definitely." He looked at them. "Settle in then we're setting up the chores schedule." They went to do that. He shook Bobby's hand. "You okay?"
"I'm good. Dean and Sammy ran into a few issues on the way here that got them called back. That Meg demon went after them." Xander walked in a steaming pot of water. "We can't do that back here?"
"The girls would steal it for cocoa." He let John take it to make instant coffee. "They get free of Meg yet?" Bobby nodded. "Good. I'm about to have a talk with her to get information."
"They killed her," Bobby said.
Xander looked at him then shook his head. "No they didn't. She tried to have someone sneak in here to get John." Bobby groaned. "So I'm heading off to deal with her since she's being rude." Giles came in with Buffy yammering at him. "Hey!" She stopped. "Quit. Put yourself on the chore schedule, let Faith make her own. Marilyn will be back later to finish the anti-mojo stuff she's been working on. Willow can help if she's in any shape to. For now, settle in and let's start making this a nicer home. It's been years since it was occupied and it needs a lot of scrubbing." Buffy grimaced. "Unless you can pay for a maid?"
"No," she muttered. "My allowance isn't that good." She went to look at the schedule then sighed and made her own. "Faith and I can lead patrols."
"Good. Faith can take my spot since Dean and Sammy popped up an issue that tried to sneak in here to get John. He can show you where everything is and I'm heading later." She stared then sniffled. "Do not," he warned. "I've got to do this. She's after their family and they can't defend against her as fully as I can since I'm not family. I'll be back in a few weeks." He looked at John then at Bobby. "So, how's South Dakota?"
"Pretty usual. Marilyn not here? Her husband wanted her to call."
"She's herb shopping and getting vegetables for the kitchen. The girls eat like an army." Bobby laughed but nodded.
"Marilyn took over cooking and took some of the girls off cleaning to help," John told Giles. "We've fleshed out the chore schedule to include that, grass cutting, and helping her with defining the boundary since she's placing little markers on it to link the magic wards to."
"That's fine," he assured him. "You've both done an amazing job." He smiled. "Are you sure, Xander?"
"Yeah. It'll kill Sammy if I don't since they want him for some reason. It's about the demon that took out their mom." John looked at him. "Meg's his daughter."
"Fuck," he muttered. From behind him someone giggled. "Not until you're older."
"Yes, John," the girl laughed. "We need a swear jar."
Xander looked at her. "After a long night of hunting you'd swear too." She nodded, bouncing off, pulling Buffy with her to show her the PT field. "She's going to be bouncier than I am on a box of ho-hos, but she's good in the kitchen. Marilyn's said she's hers from now on, no matter what."
"I'll remember that," Giles agreed. "When were you thinking of going?"
"Later tonight. After lights out. It's my night to patrol so I'll show them where things are then fade into the night." He looked at Bobby, smirking some. "Came to help?"
"Of course. Someone's got to. The old sort had very little sense."
"Amen," John muttered. Giles coughed to hide his laugh. "We figured the other building could be easily turned into suites for couples and the older folks, Rupert."
"That's more than reasonable, " he agreed. "Right now dorms will be good enough. Housing is secondary as long as everyone has a place to sleep." Xander nodded at that. "Did you research contractors?"
"Then I'll do that later this week as well." That got a nod. "Good. Let's go talk about what sort of additions we'll need? My office is fairly comfortable, gentlemen. Bobby, you can help as well. The old sort will be I'm sure." That got a nod and they walked that way, looking over the campus. It was pretty but a bit small. Then again if he had to he could expand or make some of the new buildings multi-purpose.
Xander found the demon that he wanted working on a spell and frowned. "No way in hell," he said, breaking her concentration. She squeaked, turning to face him. "Meg."
"You," she sneered. "Do you know how many plans you messed up?" She stomped over but he punched her. "Hey!"
"Oh, shut up!" He moved closer then pulled out something, looking at his beloved axe as it unshrunk. Willow's spell was very good for his baby. Then he looked at her. "You want Dean, you get me."
"Aww, I heard he was taking it up the ass."
"Not often but he does give a great blow job." She sneered so he smirked back. "Then again I heard Sammy does too." She lunged and he fought with her. All the training John and Dean had given him was showing now. She was pretty decent but starting to cast something. He cut her on the stomach and she screamed in pain.
Someone ran in. "Hey!"
Xander turned and shot at the guy, hitting him on the leg. Red blood. "Damn it," he muttered. Then he went back to her. She finally died and he went to look at the man. "I'm sorry. She's been working to kill a few friends and she attacked me too." He bandaged the small graze. "That should be fine and shouldn't need stitches." He looked at him, seeing the blank eyes. "Possessed?" It growled. "I make that sound now and then." The man moved to bite him and Xander blocked with the axe, scrambling to his feet to hold him off. He finally got the guy pinned, panting the exorcism chant while his blessed axe was pressed against the guy's chest. He went limp and dusted. Xander shook his head. "Not good." He looked back at Meg, who was still dead. He got up and walked over, cutting off her head.
"I feel like a Highlander, but there can be only one, bitch." He walked off, heading into the night. He knew where her next attack would be. The underground had been whispering about it like it was the best surprise birthday party ever. He found the right spot with his rental car and looked around, casting the spell Marilyn had helped him learn. It'd make his cheap rental seem like the Impala to the demon possessed semi she had created. He drove along at Dean Speed, which was a bit different than usual driving speed. Had to make it look good. He winced when he saw the semi barreling his way, shifting the car some so the semi would hit the back instead of the passenger's side door. He was still knocked out, the car was still totaled, and the semi still left the scene.
Sam pointed ahead. "What's that? Looks like an accident." They could see headlights that weren't quite straight and the car in the middle of an intersection on the old highway. It was pitch black and no other cars were out tonight.
Dean looked. "That's .... Our car?" he asked.
"No, can't be." They stopped, looking at the wreckage. Then he saw the person in it. "Dean, it's Xander!" He got moved and Dean got the door open, checking him over. "That's got to be a spell."
"Call someone," Dean growled.
"No signal. Can we move him?"
"No!" He took the phone and muttered the same spell Xander did, getting a signal so he could call for help. "I'm on thirty at the intersection with fifteen. There's been an accident. Bad one. Looks like something huge hit a smaller car. The driver's unconscious and not responding to touch or noise. Head injury looks like. Tell them to bring a back board." He hung up and checked Xander's legs, making him shift when he hit a sore spot. "Don't move, Xander. It's me. I've got you. The ambulance is coming." Xander whispered something. "What was that?" Xander whispered it again. "No, Xander. Stay with me." A cop car came rushing up with the lights on and Sam flagged him down. Dean took the spell off the car, making the guy blink. "He's like that. We need the paramedics faster. I think he's got a broken leg and I know he's got a head injury."
The cop looked. "Looks like a semi was flying."
Dean nodded. "Could be. I've seen it happen before." The ambulance came and Dean looked at the paramedics. "I'm his boyfriend." They nodded, letting him ride with them to the hospital. Dean tossed Sam the keys. "You dent her and I'm killing you." He sat near Xander's head, holding his hand. "I'm here, Xander. We're going to be just fine. It'll all be okay." Xander mumbled something else. "No, you stay with me on this plane. Hear me? Before I get Dad to kick your ass." He leaned closer. "We'll talk later. For now, rest and heal. I'm here. I'll protect you." Xander blinked at him, barely opening his eyes. "It's still me. I'll yell later." Xander blinked again. "Rest and heal, Xander. You're not dying on me. Not until I straighten out this fight." Xander fell back unconscious and he looked at the paramedics. "Someone was after us. I'm not sure who."
"That's not that unusual around here. Gay bashing?"
Dean shrugged. "Partially. She wants my brother. Xander went to deal with her after we had a fight." They pulled into the hospital and Dean came out. He was stopped by a nurse. "He's a combat veteran from street warfare." She hissed. "Not a gang. He was helping protect an area. He'll react strangely. He's also very sensitive to drugs sometimes."
"We'll keep that in mind. Stay there and watch." She hurried in to let the doctor know that the guy was going to be violent when he woke up. The paramedics description of the car made them all wince. The CT didn't help any either. There was a reason the boy was slipping toward a coma. The doctor went to brief Dean and he insisted he was staying so they let him for now.
His brother showed up an hour later, making Dean go to their motel room for a quick nap while he watched. Dean stared him down. "I'll protect him, Dean," Sam promised quietly. "Hold his hand, talk to him, all that. For now, go take a short nap and come back." Dean nodded, leaning over to touch Xander on the head before leaving. Sam took his chair. "Hey, Xander. It's Sam. It'll be okay. Dean'll be back soon. Let him catch twenty." He leaned forward to touch the limp hand. "Are you cold? I can get you another blanket." He summoned the nurse. "His hand is cold, can I get him another blanket?"
"Of course. Where's the angry one?"
"My brother went to catch twenty. We got up at five this morning." She nodded. "He'll be back soon. Nothing stops Dean when he needs to be somewhere."
"I'll remember that. The neurologist is coming soon. Hopefully he'll have better news for your family."
"Damn it, I forgot to call Dad." She pointed at the room phone before leaving. He pulled out his phone to find the number then dialed with his calling card. "Dad, Sam. No, huge problem. Xander got hit by a semi while it looked like he was drawing an attack away from us," he said quietly. "I made Dean take a nap. I'm with him right now. Yeah, that's where we are. Did he tell you about the attack?" He listened to what he had found out after Xander had left. "No one warned us?" He listened to the rest. "Do you think she'll try it again?" His father said something. "Really?" Dean walked in. "Dad knows what happened."
Dean took the phone. "My asshole was doing what?" He listened to him, nodding. "Then why did his car look like ours?" He shuddered. "I'll thank him after I scream at him for walking out that way. You sure?" He looked at the guy on the bed. "Since when did he have his own apartment in Cleveland?" He nodded once. A fall back position and so he didn't have to live on the compound, a safety measure in case someone attacked the senior council members since he might end up one. "We can do that. Sammy, do we have more than a general idea?"
"The nurse said the neurologist was coming soon. Then we'd know about comatose states and things." Dean nodded. "I'm sure he's going to be fine, Dean. Did Dad tell you he and Meg had a chat?"
Dean listened to that information. "One less evil thing. Thanks, Dad. Yeah, consider me glued here. If I can." He pushed the nurse's call button. "Our father is in Cleveland, where Xander just moved to. Is there a way we can move him?"
She considered it. "I'll ask the doctors when they show up tonight. The neurologist just called up some medicines for him. Does he have a specific place in mind?"
"We'll have one by tomorrow," Dean said. "Thanks, Dad. Yeah, I'm here." He hung up and faced her. "Is he in a coma?"
"The doctor will tell you in a few minutes. He's on his way up." Dean nodded. "Do you have paperwork as his family?"
"It's in our car," Sam told her. She nodded. "I can get it in a while."
"That'll be fine. Are you all brothers?"
"No, that's my asshole," Dean told her with a small smirk. "We had a fight and he stomped off," he said at her odd look at him. "So once he wakes up I'm going to be correcting some funny mental problems he had about me."
"Flirting?" she asked.
"We were traveling and my brother Sammy kept getting in the way. Xander and he weren't getting along that well. He blatantly told me to sleep with my brother before huffing off."
She laughed. "Did you not approve?"
"I was a bit freaked out," Sam admitted, looking down. "I didn't know Dean swung that way. I was trying to find my footing with him and it wasn't going well. Xander was a bit touchy."
"Then hopefully you'll work it out while he's recovering."
"He was just with our Dad," Dean admitted. "Dad said he'll listen and hey, he can't get away from me in here."
She walked off laughing. The doctor gave her an odd look. "Mr. Harris' ...partner is in there with his brother."
"Harris' brother?" the doctor asked.
"No, his partner's brother. They had a small spat and Mr. Harris was sulking with their father before heading back this way. They have the paperwork back at the hotel."
"That's fine. Any other news?"
"Harris just moved to Cleveland and their father's there at the moment. They were wondering about moving him."
"There's a few very good hospitals that way I'd trust," he admitted, walking into the room to give them the bad news that Xander was in a fairly deep coma and his chances were iffy at the moment. Sam questioned him about several facts, getting all the information he could.
John hung up and looked down then looked over at the other slayers and watchers. "Xander led off the attack on the boys by pretending to be them." Marilyn smiled. "By turning his rental car into the Impala with magic, from what I heard?" She nodded. "She called and possessed a semi, Marilyn." She went pale and quit smiling. Buffy and Giles both looked worried. "He's in a hospital out there but the boys found him and they're with him. They're going to get him moved back this way. The way they sounded it's a bad injury, guys. I'm sorry."
"Oh, no," Marilyn whispered. "I didn't mean for him to get hurt. He asked."
"Xander often pulls his own plans where something is necessary and ends up getting hurt," Giles admitted. "He nearly died another time he did something like this." Buffy looked at him oddly. "The bomb in the school basement, Buffy. The timer didn't have that much time left and I doubt he would've run." John moaned at that. "He'll be fine. He's a strong boy and once he's closer we can work on healing spells."
"I'll tell Willow, get her started on one," Buffy said, pulling out her phone to call her. "Wills, Buffy. Xander was in an accident with a demonic semi he was trying to draw away from his honey and the little brother. They called. John said it sounded very serious." She nodded. "Could help, yeah. Thanks, Wills." She hung up. "She'll look up healing spells now. The coven in Devon has a lot of books on healing." She looked at John. "When you know we will?"
"Of course. The boys want to move him back this way. He'll need some healing time and he's got the apartment here to do it in plus a lot of fussing girls."
She nodded. "Ya think?" Giles chuckled. "I'm so glad Mom was in that treatment center for the lump. She and Dawn are safe in Seattle." She looked at Giles again. "Is there anything else we can do?"
"Not until he's closer," he said gently. "I'm sure he's getting as good of care as they can. Dean is very pushy from what he's complained about before and they'll guard him until he's closer."
"Yes, Giles." She dug into dinner again, eating listlessly. The other girls were doing the same. They liked Xander. He treated them very well and kept them motivated, even if he did make them scrub things and do their own laundry.
Xander woke up and looked around the hospital room, frowning when it was pretty quiet. "This is not the normal hospital," he said grimly, pushing himself up, holding his head. "Guess the plan worked a bit too well."
"You think?" a male voice asked. The guy walked in and stared at him, frowning some. "Alexander Harris."
"Can't say as I've had the pleasure. Who're you?"
This one would know, he was a seer and he would know if he lied too heavily about anything. Plus the kid had earned some truth with what he had done in his life. A ruse was not going to work on this one. "You want a nice lie or want the truth?"
"You know me better than that probably."
"Fine. I'm a Reaper. I'm here take you over."
"No. Anything else?"
The reaper came in and sat on the foot of his bed, staring at him. "If you don't, your body will still be there, Xander. Do you really want to be a vegetable with the way you hated them?"
"Some aren't so bad. I don't really see myself as a carrot though. Maybe a piece of corn. The seed inside the outer husk with stuff around it." He stared at him. "I'm not crossing over."
"That's not for you to decide."
"Yeah it is. Or else I'd have woken up there."
"Usually. Some people we have to come specially gather." He stood up. "You're not going to a bad place."
"Yes I am. I hunted and killed. That's another lie." He stood up. "No way in hell am I going over. Sorry you wasted the trip but hey, frequent flier miles must be great in your job."
"Usually," he admitted, smirking some. "What makes you think it's your call?"
"You wouldn't be here."
"Fine. I'll come back. If I don't, you'll be one of the spirits your boys hunted."
Xander shrugged. "I doubt that too."
The reaper stared at him. "It's a natural process."
"Death likes us."
"Which is why he sent me."
Xander shook his head. "No thanks. No deal."
The demon faded out. "We'll talk again soon."
Xander looked around, then at the bed. He walked around his room and peeked in the hallway. Looked just like a normal hospital. He walked out and didn't see anyone. So he walked on, finding another girl looking by the elevators. "Hey." She jumped then sniffled. "Don't. I'm not the scary one."
"I can't find my room or anyone."
"I've been noticing that." He walked her back to the desk, looking at the charts. "What's your name?"
Xander pointed. "You're in two-twenty." She beamed and went to check. Xander found his own room number and headed that way, walking back into it to see himself on the bed. He sat Dean sitting and staring at him, not touching but staring. He touched himself but his hand went through his body instead of into it. "I'm not ready to be salted and burned yet," he said, leaning down next to Dean's ear. "Rock salt tastes nasty. Remember the time I got it mixed up with the table salt in the room?" he whispered.
Dean didn't seem to hear him. But he straightened up and shifted closer, touching his hand. He wasn't looking too happy to be there. "Xander," he said quietly. "I'm sorry she did this to you. If you didn't get her, I will be."
"Chill, dude, I got her earlier." He moved closer, reaching out to him. Dean flinched when he moved closer. "Good boy. This OOB shit is getting old." The Reaper showed up again. "Hey. OOB is not making me happy." He touched Dean's ear, making him shiver and brush at the spot. "Good boy, Dean."
"He can't really feel you." Xander snorted. "I've been doing this for centuries, Harris."
"With other hunters?"
"No. Not often." He pointed. "It should've been him in that bed. It was his time."
"Yeah, we had that issue with Buffy's supposed time too."
"Which screwed up a lot of stuff on this side."
Xander shrugged. "Tough but sorry."
"Fewer dead bodies aren't a bad thing really. Less paperwork. Would you rather hear it from the big guy?"
"I doubt you can call the Goddess down to tell me that."
"No but I can call Death."
"Go ahead if you want. Won't change my mind."
"Xander, why do you think those vengeful spirits are created that make you dissipate them?" he countered. "They didn't pass the veil when it was their time and they slowly go insane. Do you want their grandkids to have to hunt you? Salt and burn your corpse?"
Xander looked at him. "I'm not dead. I'm in a coma. Big difference." He went back to teasing Dean's ear. He leaned down again. "Get Sammy to do what he did the last time," he hissed into it. Dean got up to call Sammy and talk to him about the possession stuff. "That's a good first step." He looked over but the reaper was gone. "If it's my time I'd be dead for real, not in a coma," he called. A new spirit appeared and he had to keep himself from lunging over. "Pick someone else," he snarled.
"I chose this one to calm you down," the new spirit said.
"Isn't working. Pick something else." The spirit changed into Willow. "Better. Slightly. So?"
"You can cross over even though it's not fully your time, Xander," she said, moving closer. "All it means is that you won't end up in that bed or one like it for the rest of your long life."
Xander looked at him then at the spirit. "They wouldn't let me. Dean knows my wishes. If you weren't pushing so hard I'd be more impressed."
The spirit grimaced. "You have a better than average chance to become one of the ones your kind hunt," she said. "We don't like to promote them. If you cross over it'll mean you can be assigned to help a slayer who needs it or watch over your family."
Xander shook his head. "No deal. See, I know when it's my time." The spirit groaned. "So shoo. Even if it changed you're still trying way too hard."
"We'll leave you alone for a few days, let you see what it'll be like, forever walking these halls. Forever alone."
Xander smirked. "You do that. I like the quiet." The demon sighed but left. He crossed his arms, looking at his boyfriend. "I still think you should've slept with Sammy to get over that strangeness."
Sam walked in and paused, frowning, looking at the air. "Something's different, Dean."
"There's.... He's out of his body?"
"Possibly. I keep getting this cold spot touching my ear."
"Then we might be able to help that," he said, coming over to do what he could. Nothing but the spirit was stronger. He stared at his pissed off brother. "He's here, I can feel him."
"One seer to another," he said, moving closer. "Tell him rock salt tastes nasty," he whispered in his ear.
Sam frowned. "Rock salt? Why am I thinking about that?"
Dean frowned. "Xander got the jars mixed up at the motel one night." He brightened up. "So he's here?" Sam nodded. "We're sure?"
"I think that's how we made sure we knew." He looked at the bed then around. "Xander, we're doing what we can. The medicines are reducing the swelling. Just hold on tight." He looked at Dean. "Let me call Willow. She just called me." He nodded, letting him go while Dean sat down again, holding his hand.
"You had to do this and make me have my lone mushy moment this decade?" Dean muttered.
"Not really my choice. I tried to avoid the semi more than I did."
Dean looked at him. "We're having a long talk once you wake up, Xander. You were so wrong and I... I could use you back. You have more style than Sammy does on the hunt. Even if you did pull out some of the ugly shirts again according to Dad. That was a good move getting the stuff out of Sunnydale before it crashed in. Even Joyce said so."
"I didn't want to lose my favorite shirt or Star Trek book."
"I'm sure you're pretending that it was nothing or something selfish, like usual, but it was a good thing. It's helped a lot." He gave the warmer hand a squeeze. "At least you don't feel like a corpse."
"Not my fault they keep it so cold in here." Xander looked at his body then looked into his mind. "Hmm. Interesting. They didn't bring all of me over." He smirked and smacked Dean on the head. "Jackass. Don't you dare yell at me for not being Sammy. It's not my fault you two couldn't figure out how to not ignore me. Half the time you forgot I was in the car when we stopped. You were always going back for more sodas and food because you forgot. And tell the asshole to leave my iPod alone. It's not his. It goes to Dawn if I die." Xander sat on the foot of his bed, working on his own inner core. He could still touch it or he'd be dead. He knew that. And they hadn't brought over his possessors.
Sam walked in two hours later with Willow. "The coven have an idea. Do you think they took the possessions when they let him out of his body?" he asked quietly. Dean gave him a clueless look. "He's still bound if they didn't."
"I don't know. Who are 'they'?"
"Reapers. They escort the spirits to the other side," Willow said grimly. "That's why you don't see more work. Some of them are more stubborn and need a firmer guiding hand. I'm sure Xander's snarking at one right now."
"No, ya think?" Xander asked dryly. "I didn't know they could appear in the real world." He grabbed Sam's ass, squeezing hard. Sam frowned and rubbed the same spot. So he squeezed harder and shifted his wallet.
"Dude, my boyfriend is not groping you," Dean said dryly.
"Something shifted my wallet."
Dean looked at his own wallet, finding the picture he had gotten off Buffy in there. Then he looked at Willow. "Don't you have green eyes?" She went pale. He let Sammy look. "She does, right?"
"All but when she went evil. Buffy said she was scared because the black magic raised some veins and gave her black eyes." He looked at her. Then at the salt protections around the bed. "Cute."
She looked down then groaned. "We don't want a spirit that powerful to haunt here," she told them.
"He won't be," Dean said calmly.
"He will be. He can't come back. There's no back button."
Dean smirked. "If he's still bound...." She screamed as Sam got her and she disappeared. "Can we?"
"We might be able to use them to pull him back. What I'm worried about is it could trap him behind them."
"Probably not," Dean told him. "Xander had control of it before."
"He didn't have brain bleeding before," he said quietly.
Dean nodded slowly. "Maybe. But I know Xander. He's probably making bad faces at us and accusing me of trying to get you into bed again, Sammy."
"No, it's pretty clear you two did that already," Xander said from his spot on the foot of the bed. He felt something inside him shift and snarled, going back down to deal with them. They might be able to unbind the hyena but not his soldier. That was a part of him. He touched that and felt the pain he was in. Then he looked at them. "Pain killers?"
Sam frowned. "Something's going on."
Xander smiled. "Dean said you were really smart even if you are an asshole." He got back to work, pulling himself back into his body. The usual cord that kept you near your body when you went out of it wasn't there any more but he could match the parts of his soul back together and use that like a puzzle to fit himself back inside. He hoped. It was slow work but the two matching spots fit. Then he slowly let it lead him back in while Dean and Sammy talked about how to help him. Then he had a sudden thought, and the phone went flying off the bedside table. They both looked. "Stop dad." He went back to doing what he had to do. They couldn't help him until he was back in his body.
Dean picked up the phone, then called his father for some reason. Maybe he wanted some comfort. "Dad? No, something's going on. We think we can feel Xander's spirit or something. Well, we've had a spirit called a reaper but she left." He listened to him, holding his head with his free hand. "Yeah. No, I'm pretty sure Xander's fighting his way back. Because that's the sort of man he is, Dad. Thanks. No, they're moving him in a few days back to there."
"I expect a visit and him to tell me I can't hit on the pretty nurses when I'm better," Xander quipped.
Sam frowned. "Pretty nurses?"
"The last time he was in the hospital Dad called to tell him not to hit on them," Dean said, frowning at the body on the bed then at his brother. "Can you hear him?"
"No. But it popped into my head."
Dean handed over the phone with a smirk. "Talk to dad." He checked Xander's flinch reflex on his arm. "C'mon, Xander. I want you back so we can talk."
"You sound like a girl, Dean."
"I do not," Dean said, pouting some.
Sam looked at him. "Huh?"
"You said I sounded like a girl."
"Um, no but Dad just said you did." Sam smirked at the voice on the phone. "He also said Willow just appeared there and said something about linking you for some strength to hold him through. She said if he's out of his body he can try to get back in. Though he'll still have to wake up. She also warned Dad that he might be growling when he woke up."
"We can deal with the primal spirit," Dean assured him calmly. "Let's worry about getting him back first. Does she have anything that can help him heal faster?"
"Not yet. She's looking." That got a nod and Dean went back to helping. "Thanks, Dad. Yeah, I'm sure he'll be fine. Dad, Willow's stronger than most of Hell's army," he said quietly. "Xander's going to be motivated to get better." He nodded. "Exactly. So we'll handle it and it'll be fine." He hung up and put the phone back.
Xander lost his match and sighed when he had to start over. "Stupid medicine." He rematched it. It got easier this time and the roadblock he couldn't get over last time he could this time. He knew he could. Dean gave his hand a squeeze and he frowned when it seemed to block him. "Dean, protection amulets. Off. They're blocking me too." He snapped one of them on him.
Dean yelped, looking at his wrist. "Shit. To keep spirits off me." He took them off and handed them to Sammy. "Hold those."
"Sure." He put them into his pocket.
Xander sighed in pleasure. That was better. He went back to sliding into his body, finding it a bit easier this time. Still had bumps and road blocks. Probably from the medicine they had him on.
John was woken by the phone, groaning at the angry voice on the other side. "What happened, Sammy?" He listened to them saying that they couldn't move Xander after all. "Why?" He frowned. "Yes he does have insurance. He has some through Giles. He said so." He hung up and went to find him in his dorm room, knocking gently. Giles opened it with a frown. "The hospital out there doesn't think Xander has insurance?"
"He does as far as I know." He went to look at the papers Willow had kept for him. "Yes, he does." He went to fax them to the hospital.
Sam called back and they both listened then corrected some points. Even if it was an older account, he still had some. Giles knew he paid his insurance each month because he often needed it.
Xander looked at his body. He had almost gotten it but something was blocking him. Something higher up and it wasn't the medicine, it wasn't the injury. Which meant it had to be that Reaper or it had to be magical. He looked himself over. Yup, there it was. He poked that spot then started to poke Sam on that spot until he woke up and swatted him for it.
"Dude, swatting air," Dean said tiredly.
"Something's poking me there."
"Where?" Sam pointed. Dean looked at it. Then at Xander, finding the small marking on him. "Damn it, she did it again." Sam frowned at him. "Willow used to like to mark him with flesh colored tattoos." He looked then grabbed his knife, slicing it off. Then he put the knife back and Sam held the small bleeding spot for him with the sheet's edge.
Xander sighed in pleasure and did it again. He had perfect control of his merging now. He sank in almost totally then ran into the helpers he had. "Hey, guys." He nuzzled the hyena when she tried to pounce him, smiling at the soldier. "Time to come out of hiding, guys." They looked at their chains. "We'll work on that while I'm healing?" She growled and he sighed, releasing her. "The first person you try to eat, rape, or hurt, you're going back."
"You need to merge better with us, not lock us up," the soldier said impatiently. "Haven't we helped?"
"Many times but if I let you guys out to play fully it's too dangerous. Buffy will make Willow or Giles banish you." They both nodded. "So, subtle?"
"We'll work on it," the soldier agreed. They joined together and then Xander came out behind them. They were a bit thinner and so were their chains. "That's helpful."
"Better actually," Xander admitted.
"Don't go on the roller coaster. It leads down, not up."
Xander nodded, heading off to walk through his mind. He saw the closed doors and looked. "Memories. Not happy ones." He reclosed it and walked off, heading toward where he could hear things. It turned out to be a coaster. He saw an exit sign and looked at it. Hesitating. Then he took it and woke up enough to almost blink at the really bright light. He backed out and looked at the sign. "I don't think I'm going somewhere that sunny and bright. Unless that was hospital lights?"
"No." The solider dragged his chains that way. He looked at the sign behind the sign, showing him. Xander nodded, so they walked off together, the hyena loping ahead. He found a spot that felt and smelled like Dean, staying there for a minute. Dean was asleep and it was fine with him. He kept moving and found his higher thought functions. It was a bit older. "I thought for sure this would be Star Trek, not the inside of a huge clock."
"If you want you can change it but it might not help you any," the soldier him said. The hyena was nosing a lever so they looked. "Here, consciousness."
Xander looked then raised it, watching as it raised two slits above him. He looked up and suddenly it was bright again but he could make out fuzzy shapes. He slowly blinked at one until it took shape. Sam. Not who he wanted to see when he woke up. He must've scowled because Sam smiled and pointed.
"He's asleep, Xander." He turned his head and there was a napping Dean in the visitor's chair. "Nurse!" he called. She came rushing in. "I think he's starting to come around."
"I can see that." She checked him over, smiling. "You are a very lucky young man." He swallowed. "Want some water?" He nodded so she got him some and came back. "There we are. Sip through the straw." He did that for her. "Good, now, do you know who you are?" He nodded slowly. "And where you are?" He pointed at the bed with his free hand. "In a hospital, yes. Do you want me to wake up the yelling one?" He blinked at her. "That's fine, we'll let him sleep them."
"He'll yell more," Sam said. "Dean!" He snapped awake. "Look who finally made it back."
He grinned. "Xander." He came over to look down at him. "You need a bath." Xander slowly flipped him off with a shaky hand. The nurse laughed, leaving them alone in case they wanted to be mushy. He leaned down. "You are *so* in trouble with Dad." Xander flipped him off, a bit more solid now. Still shaking. "Uh-huh. You can do that to Dad. We're back in Cleveland." Xander nodded once. "We heard you have a place here that hasn't been infected by every girl known to watchers." He patted him on the head, then grimaced. "They need to do your hair. How do you feel?" He slowly shrugged. "That's fine." He grinned. "You're still in trouble for walking off that way."
"Didn't need me."
"Oh, shut up," Sam snapped. "You calm him down and take him out of pouting asshole moods. I can't do that." He stared at him. "Besides, we're staying local for a bit to help Dad with Giles. He's in way over his head. Though I do like the school. It's a pretty campus." Xander smiled. "Now, let me duck out." He headed out to get Xander something to wear home in a few days.
Dean leaned on the bed railing, staring down at his boyfriend. "You're wrong."
"You two work better," he whispered. Dean let him drink more ice water.
"What Sammy and I do is instinctive. You were trained to work with me, Xander. I'm not losing you and Sammy can start riding in the backseat or we'll look at two cars so he can drive yours now and then since he's not driving mine." He let him have another drink. "We'll work this out." He leaned down closer. "I did like how you fixed that problem we had been working on. The news people went on about it for nearly three days." He petted his head. "We'll let them give you a bed bath and then we'll work on getting you out of here." Xander nodded, letting himself drift off again. "We're here, Xander. You're safe." Xander fell asleep and he looked around. Sammy came back with the nurse. "He could use cleaned up since he's awake."
"We have him scheduled for a bed bath tonight before his next CT, boys." She checked him over. "Expect him to drift off like that for the next few days until he's stronger." She looked at Dean. "Now, you head off and catch a real nap." He opened his mouth. "You've napped here since he got here. Go get horizontal. If you have to, your brother can stay since he's had enough sense to leave for a few hours every day." She stared him down.
"Go, Dean, I've got it and Dad said he could use the escape from the giggling girls trying to mob him."
"Fine." He patted Xander on the head. "I'm being ordered to nap at your place. Let me grab the keys." Sam handed a set over. "From....."
"Thanks." He headed out, driving about thirty minutes away. He found the apartment building and the mailboxes told him which was Xander's. He got into the elevator and headed up, nodding at the woman coming out of hers.
"Are you visiting?"
He looked at her. "I'm Xander's boyfriend Dean. He's in the hospital so my brother and I have been taking care of his place for him."
"Oh. What happened?"
"Car accident. A semi hit his car." She hissed and winced. "He woke up this morning."
"Fine. Try to be quiet. The neighbor above you has a new baby and you can hear tv's through the walls."
"Yes, ma'am. Have a nice day." He found the right key and looked at the shiny new lock set. "Three locks? Bit paranoid, Xander." He got two open but the other one wouldn't open with the key he had. So he got out his lock picks and went inside. He checked, it was Xander's junk mail in the trash so he was in the right spot. He headed for the bedroom then back to the couch since there wasn't a bed. He was nearly asleep when someone knocked so he went to open it, nodding at the officer there. "Yes?"
"Are you the person who's renting this place, sir?"
"I'm his boyfriend. He's in Mercy on the head trauma unit after a car accident." The officer winced. "I'm taking a quick nap before going back there. He just woke up today."
"The manager's noticed a few different people showing up here."
"Probably my father, brother, and a few of his friends. They're running a small, private school on that campus up the road."
"Oh. That explains part of that. He a teacher?"
"General handyman, does PE, some self defense teaching." His father came up the hall. "Dad."
"He's awake?" Dean nodded. "Good. You two argue?"
"No. Though I did tell him he was wrong about Sammy and me being that good together." He looked at the officer. "My boyfriend thinks I love my brother more than him."
"I guess that can happen. He sounds a bit petty."
"No, he's a good kid," John assured him. "Dean and Sammy are tight and Dean quit paying any attention to Xander. Completely forgot about him when they were on a road trip together. He had the right to bitch. What's wrong?"
"The manager was wondering about the people who keep running in and out."
"Someone's got to finish decorating for the boy. Of course I let the girls do it. It made them feel useful while he's in the hospital." The officer nodded so John looked at Dean. "Nap. Now. Shower too." Dean sighed but went to do that. He knew an order when he heard one. The officer laughed a bit. "He hasn't left the hospital in days."
"I guess that happens. I'll let him know. When is he expected out?"
"He's been comatose and coming up now for two weeks. Probably at least another one." That got a nod. "Then we'll come here to fuss over him instead of there." The officer walked off to talk to the manager. John looked at the lock then tried the key he had. Still didn't work. He leaned in. "Dean, let me get something to change this one lock with. I'll be right back."
"Sure, Dad." He came out of the bathroom in just his jeans. "The keys for the other two work."
"I know. Need food?"
"I can pick some up on the way back there." That got a nod and John shut the door. Dean locked the two locks they had keys for then went back to his pre-shower rituals. He was tired. By the time he got out he was ready for a nap. He climbed into a new pair of boxers and laid down on the couch. He wasn't going to be moving for a few hours.
When John got back he smiled at his sleeping son. It was about the only time anyone could call Dean adorable but he was. Especially since he was holding a pillow to his chest. He changed the lock but nothing was waking his son up.
Giles showed up at the hospital that night, looking down at Xander. "I'm sorry if the girls mobbed you earlier. I'm sure you know how they can be."
"Yup." He looked at him. "You look rough."
"Running the store was not a good training for running the Council. I do rather wish it had been in some ways." He sat down in the visitor's chair. "How are you feeling?"
"For some reason I have a throbbing headache," he said dryly.
"Yes, well, I'm told the rental company was not pleased with how damaged their car was thanks to the semi. You did try to get away from it?"
"Yeah. I almost managed it too. It got the back end instead of the passenger's door." Giles smiled at that. "What else is up? You have the bad news look on your face."
"Not hardly. It's been a long day. Buffy and Willow had to be talked out of having your things moved onto the campus and then going over there to redecorate. Sam stopped them from doing that. I have no idea how since I couldn't."
"I'll thank him later. What else is going on?"
"Nothing much. We've finally got the last of the buildings cleaned up and arranged for the ripping down of the two unsafe ones. Willow and Marilyn have finished laying the protections and warnings. They've also set aside a good spot for working on things until they can get one changed over in one of the buildings."
"You could put up a new one for that," Xander pointed out.
"We could. Or we could use the basement we found in the school. It's half underground and Willow thinks it's a good place for that. So we'll let her arrange that. I've spent all day dealing with insurance people for the building in England and a barrister over there about estates and things. Thankfully all Council raised people who left to pursue higher education goals." He patted his hand. "Dean would be here but he had to stop and eat on John's orders. John pulled him out by his ear."
"That's going to be a loud fight anyway."
"No, I don't believe so. Dean's seen the error of his ways, Xander." He looked at him. "If you could come back after graduation and try to put up with the girls and their issues, you can work out this lesser issue. He does appreciate you and he does care for you. Or else he wouldn't have not left your side since they found you."
"They did. They found the car. Dean's been beside you unless forced to be elsewhere, like on the trip here, since the moment they found you."
"How did I get back to Cleveland?"
"Airlifted. They followed in their car so it took them a few more hours than it did you but from what I heard the nurses at the other place sent notes saying that you had some clingy in-laws and a very stubborn boyfriend who would be there as soon as humanly possible. The nurses tried to get him to go rest a few times but to no avail from what I heard. Even John didn't get him to move from your side."
Xander picked at his blanket. "That's nice and all but I'm starting to feel like the last year of high school and the Initiative's mess again."
"Yes, but he has learned his lesson. I doubt he's going back there. He's not self-centered like the girls could be."
"I told him to get Sammy while I was the hospital in LA."
"Which was good of you to do," he assured him. "You weren't sure if you were coming back and Dean's better and safer when he's got a partner. If he goes out hunting while you're recovering at home I'm sure the same thing would happen but they are including you. Sam's worked through his thoughts by talking to Willow. Who agreed with you, they do seem as close as lovers now and then." Xander nodded, giving him an odd look. "So they're working on it. Dean's got his head on straight and he's a good boy. I like you with him so you have my approval of moving on with him. Or even letting him move in with you since you're not going to be on the road for a good, long time. Especially if the girls have their way."
"I can hunt."
"Yes but they're worried you'll be hurt worse sometime soon, Xander." He stroked over his head. "It'll take months before you're ready after this accident. You'll have to do a lot of rebuilding muscles and getting back into physical shape to do the work. John's promised he can help you while he teaches the girls."
"He's good at it."
"Better than I am," he agreed. "Dean's taken over your spot in the armory. Sam's been helping Willow and Dawn with the research end of things. So they're safely settled in until you can come back. Then if you don't go out with them we'll put you in charge of the girls' patrol training. That'd put you over John technically but I figure you can work together with him. Or if and when he leaves to hunt something you can step in." That got a nod. "Good. Now, you should've moved into a better apartment, Xander. That's in a bad part of town."
"I wanted to save some of the money."
"I'm sure you did." He stroked over his hair again. "We'll figure it out. There's a nice set of condos near the school. Two miles away, jogging distance."
Xander smiled. "We'll see."
"Of course." He leaned closer. "I don't mind you giving Ethan that book. I had found it for him anyway in hopes of keeping him out of our hair."
"Has he come back?"
"Not yet. He's been in India for the last month from what I've heard." He patted him then stood up. "You rest, Xander. You need rest to get out of here." He nodded and left him alone.
Xander relaxed, willing himself back to sleep. Dean would be back soon and if he was asleep they couldn't finish their fight.
Dean let Xander into his apartment, letting him see the newly decorated space. "Dawn's back," he said at the odd look his slipcovered couch got.
"That explains why I have a Nemo pillow. Why is my couch covered in a tapestry?"
"One of the girls did it. Said it was heavy enough to stand up to good wear and it told a picture. Now it was like a story for naptimes. They did the bed too." Xander moaned, shaking his head. He gave him a nudge and pointed at something. The fish on a plaque moved when he got closer and started to sing. "Dawn said it'd be a good secondary alarm system if someone broke in."
"Yeah," Xander agreed. "That'd wake me up." He turned it off and went to lie on the couch. "Thanks for driving me back, Dean."
"Not an issue." He sat next to him. "Now we can talk without you falling asleep."
Dean looked around then at him. "Notice Sammy here?" Xander looked around then at him, shaking his head. "We're brothers, Xander. We hunted for over a decade together with Dad. You and I work as well together as he and I do and it's only been a little over two years." Xander opened his mouth. "No. Quit. Sammy's not taking your place. You're not taking his and Sammy was freaked out by the gay thing so he was reacting. He's better and he's been talking to Willow to get his head on straight. He's going to apologize as soon as he gets here tonight. Then we'll work on the hunting stuff once you're back in shape."
"You can go out with him."
"I don't want to go out with him. Sammy would demand mushy dates, not taking me to play at an amusement park." Xander gave him a sheepish grin. "You knew my family was important to me Xander."
"Which I don't disagree with. I disagreed with Sammy taking my spot and you forgetting I was in the car a few times."
"You were always asleep."
"I couldn't sit up. There wasn't enough room."
"Good point. Sammy said the same thing." He pulled him closer, kissing him. "We'll work it out. Maybe the two car idea has a lot of merit, even though it might be Sammy driving it most of the time. You're not allowed to drive for the next month," Dean said at Xander's opening mouth. "Not until the doctor and Dad both clear you."
"Dad'll clear me soon."
"Dad said you'll be better than you were before because he's got to give driving lessons to Dawn and a few of the older girls at the school too." Xander grimaced. "By the way, Dawn squeals, dude. Like a whole lot."
"I know that. She always has."
"She didn't when we had dinner."
"She was studying you for weaknesses."
"I think that is my weakness. She nearly split an eardrum the last time."
Xander nodded. "She can do that too when she's excited." He looked around. "They did a nice job."
"Buffy let them consider it PE for the day to come move furniture, go shopping for a bed and stuff, and set it up for you."
He grinned. "She loves to shop."
"Her mom does too. She filled the kitchen with food." He gave him another kiss then pulled him closer. "Nap."
"Not tired yet."
"Bull. We'll nap together."
"Giles said you were with me the whole time I was climbing back into my body."
"Um-huh," he said with a small nod. "That reaper chick was freaky."
"She wanted me to cross over so I couldn't become a vengeful spirit."
"It's nice they're keeping that down for us. Giles wanted a report on that whenever you're ready. He said he's never heard of them. Willow found a really obscure reference but nothing much and he wanted to know how you got back in."
Xander grinned. "The babies."
"You're pregnant?" he teased. "Damn some demon's in trouble. Have to kill their asses and baby you."
"Not that sort."
"That's fine then. Even better. Dad would freak if you were pregnant. I can't even imagine the look on his face if he heard you say that."
"I'll tell him when he asks." He yawned. "Still not tired."
"Uh-huh." Dean laid them both down. Xander slept easier when he could curl around someone. His boyfriend gave him an odd look but he shrugged. "You nap better when you have someone there."
"Good point." He snuggled in and fell asleep on Dean's chest. Dean smiled, stroking his back until he fell asleep too. Being snored on was comforting in many ways. He had missed being snored and drooled on. Or even being batted at or sucked on.
Sam came over an hour later, smiling at the two sleeping men on the couch, taking a picture for Dawn. She had wanted one. He checked to make sure the fish was off then went to quietly cook in the kitchen. Xander would need better food to heal and their dad was coming over tonight. Even though it was still odd to hear Xander call Dad dad. He'd deal though. Willow was a lot of help helping him get over his thoughts. Xander wasn't stealing Dean from him but just another facet of Dean's life that he couldn't share with him. Though Xander probably felt the same way about him. They'd find a common ground soon enough he was sure. They were both going to be trying so it'd be fine.
John watched his three sons interact. Xander and Sammy were still dancing around each other. It was better but Sammy was still giving Xander sideways looks each time he called him dad. He'd have to talk to his younger son later about that. Other than that, Dean and Xander were pretty well back together again. "Xander, Giles wanted to know if you'd take over some of the training from me. He thinks you'd do better with the younger girls, getting them started off right."
"Am I staying after I heal?" he asked.
"I don't know, kid, are you?" he asked.
"I..." He shrugged. "I don't know."
"I understand that and so does he. He thinks you can get them started while you heal and then decide based on what's going on. That'll let him lean on us for other things for a bit while he gets things straightened out since things are such a mess in England." He ate another bite. Xander gave him an odd look. "Ninety percent of all Watchers were British citizens."
"Figured that much out. And?"
"Wills, probates, estates, the insurance stuff," Sam sighed. "It's been a legal mess and the guy Giles has dealing with it is trying but he's going to need a lot of help."
"Ask Gunn. Wolfram and Hart did something to him that gave him all this legal information."
"He's helping already," John told him. "He's working on the wills. A lot of magical artifacts are now in the open." Xander winced. "Exactly. So he's working on that with a few of the more honest lawyers out of the LA branch. Giles has nearly cowed the insurance company and banks to get their funds back. There's been a few that've come out of hiding that are protesting but he sicced Buffy and Willow on them. Willow got them all down and cowed so far. They don't want to follow the new rules though so he's got to hire more watchers."
"I'm not becoming a field watcher," Xander said firmly.
John smiled. "He agreed. You don't have the right mix of skills, Xander. He said you'd have to be more research oriented. Now, they did have rescue teams and he wanted you on one of those. Dean and I too. He wanted Sammy to be a field watcher if he retired from hunting." Sam gave him a stunned look. "It's part research, part stubbornness, a bit of hunting, some negotiations with any harmless ones nearby, plus being able to handle the girl's issues and doubts. You do have the temperament for that and you do have the right mix of skills. Giles joked and said you were as close to a younger clone as he'd ever get."
"Wow. That's .... That's a really big shock," Sam said but he didn't look unhappy about it. "If he asks some day I'll think about it."
"You'd do good at it," Dean offered. "Plus it'd give you someone to watch girly music videos with."
Sam shot him an evil look. "It's more than that."
"There's girl movie nights and club hunting and clothing issues," Xander agreed. "I went through that with Buffy and Willow." He patted Sam on the arm. "You'd do good. You can stand _Howard's End_ where I couldn't."
Sam shook his head but he ate a bite of dinner. "It'll be more than that I'm sure. I'll think about it."
John nodded. "Good. Until then Giles wanted me and a few others to go gather the girls that have been called but who weren't in danger for whatever reason."
Dean looked at him. "If Xander was more healed we could do that."
"If he was more healed. He's not allowed to fly yet. He might be sending you two as a team with one of the older girls to do that for any local ones. Willow's doing a locating spell soon." That got a nod. "Right now, she knows that there's three in Africa that have to be found and one in Italy that needs to be moved for her safety as well. Her family thinks she's possessed."
"Have fun," Xander said. "Be safe."
"I will be." He smiled. "I hit Italy next week then Africa when I get back. So I'll let you run my girls for now. Or Dean can run the advanced lessons while you run the lesser ones."
"That'll work," Xander agreed. "I can get back in shape with that too."
"You can," John agreed. "Because you're outdoing pitiful by sitting on your ass, son."
"I know, Dad." He shrugged. "I tried to avoid the semi. It was going to hit the passenger's side instead."
"Then you did a fantastic job," Sam said honestly, putting down his fork to sip at his water. "It only hit the rear on that side. Thankfully not the gas tank. If it had hit you where it had been aiming we'd have found you dead, Xander."
"I know. But they were going after you guys to kill Dean. It was Meg's last great plan."
"What happened to her?" John asked casually.
John smirked. "I liked the third one. The second one was odd."
"If you watch them in first, third, then second it makes more sense," Xander said. "But then four blows it again. Though I did like Methos as a character so I like that storyline better." John shook his head. "I had all four on DVD. They were in storage."
"They're under the tv now," Dean told him. He looked at him. "I know you were a Star Trek geek, Xander, but the Star Trek jock strap?"
Xander grinned. "It was a present from Willow's mother to make me want to do sports and be like a normal boy more often. She thought it could be used as motivation and give me courage."
"I don't think you lack in that. I think you have too much brains to stand there and let someone hit you in football and you don't really do well in most of the other sports they teach in schools."
"I do okay in dodgeball."
John looked at him. "That's because that's like team hunting."
"True. And fun when you're possessed by a hyena," Xander quipped back. Dean laughed. "It was. We turned on our own team instead of taking on Buffy."
"The life you used to live was too strange, kid," John said dryly.
"Well, yeah. Have the Feds shown up about my weapons yet?"
"Twice," John admitted. "Which is why we swept the place for bugs while you slept." Xander grinned. "Giles said it was almost immediate when they got settled in. The government is paranoid. Fortunately Buffy went hunting that night and the Feds followed her. They were not happy but they now understand."
"You know, Riley's group was moved to Homeland," he said dryly.
John laughed. "I'll let Giles know that."
"Good. Put him to use since he's a pustule on the nose of hunting." He ate another bite. "It's good, Sam. You sneak and cook very well."
"I was trying hard not to wake you, Xander."
"You only did the once when the drawer bit you," Xander assured him with a grin. "It does the same thing to me. I think it's possessed."
"It was. I fixed that." He looked at Dean. "Pastor Jim said you haven't called recently. He was going to thump you with his bible for not calling to check in."
"I wasn't sure he wanted to hear what was going on."
"Bobby told him," John said, eating another bite.
"He said he wasn't happy but if it suited you, you had earned a lot of happiness and your good works outdid any indifference he might feel about you being with Xander. He's an actual preacher, Xander, so he's a bit firm on some biblical things."
Xander shrugged. "I know I've disappointed many girls by making Dean like me instead of them."
Dean poked him on the arm. "Then they're too shallow. Besides, plenty of them pant after you. They're evil but they try you more often."
Xander looked at him. "I'm not drawing evil women anymore. Haven't in years."
Dean smacked him lightly on the head. "Yes you do. Or shouldn't I mention Phoenix?"
"Hey, head injury," Xander said, rubbing the back of his head.
Dean patted him instead. "I was gentle." He grinned. "Should I tell Dad about Phoenix?"
"Oh, I've heard," John assured him. "One of the other hunters was in town for a problem in the projects with a demon crack dealer. He told Ellen. Who called and said 'did you know Dean was gay' first off. I bragged and she said it's good he's so good and she'll let you buy him a round when you come in the next time."
Dean shook his head. "She say anything else?"
"Like with the women, no making out in the bar."
"There's a lesbian hunting pair," Sam told Xander. "Ellen said they couldn't make out; het people couldn't make out in the bar, unless her daughter was doing it, and neither could any other couple." Xander shrugged. "Jo might yell though. She's a bit narrow- minded and fussy."
"We'll cross that bar when we get to it," Dean pointed out.
"Even if I do get into a public making out mood to make her scream and stomp off so she can't hit on Dean again," Xander said. Dean gave him an odd look. "You told me about her when you were drunk the last time and made me put you to bed before I tossed you in the dumpster."
John laughed. "There's been a few times I wanted to do that too, Xander. Eat." Xander dug in again. "You too, Dean. You've been doing a lot of work." Dean nodded, digging in again. He looked at Sam, who had nearly cleared his plate. "Do I have to remind you too?"
"No, I'm nearly full. I haven't been doing that much, plus I nibble while I research."
"It's a fine old Sunnydale tradition to not tell Giles you got chinese or pizza on the books," Xander quipped.
"I'm sure he appreciated that the next time he got into those books," Sam said dryly. "I know he opened one this afternoon and had this thoughtful look for a minute before saying 'Buffy' and going back to reading."
"He knows who got it then," Xander assured him. "He was thinking back to see which one of us had the book the last time."
Sam shook his head. "You guys were insane back in Sunnydale. Buffy's been telling the girls what happened back then."
"Everything or the edited version?" Xander asked.
"Not really sure."
Xander reached back and grabbed the phone to call her. "If you're telling the junior mini- yours the Sunnydale story, tell them all of it so they don't end up with an Angel of their own," he ordered. "Yes, every little bit, Buffy. Even the bad stuff and not just my dating life." He hung up and went back to eating. "Thanks for cooking, Sam."
"Not a problem, Xander. I like to cook sometimes."
"I can cook simple stuff but I'm out of practice," Xander admitted.
Dean nodded. "I'm a grilling master but I'm out of practice too." His father shook his head at that announcement. "I am. Jim said so."
"Bobby said I wasn't allowed to let you near the grill or else we'd all have to eat demon steaks," Xander said dryly.
"It wasn't my fault it was attracted to the steaks I was grilling for the cookout."
"Boys," John chided. "You two are horrible."
"Worse than I am," Sam agreed with a smirk.
John looked at him. "I doubt that. When you and Dean start on one of your arguments we used to walk away so we couldn't get drawn into it. Dean will jump Xander and it'll be fixed sooner. Without broken furniture from the rolling around like when you were seven."
Sam blushed. "He started that one."
"You were being an asshole," Dean reminded him. "Not my fault I wasn't scoring with the women we were pumping for information, it was yours."
"That would've made you how old?" Xander asked dryly.
"He was flirting with the local librarian," John told him. "Without permission."
"It worked. I got what we needed," Dean countered with an evil smirk of his own. "And you nearly got a date out of it."
"That's because she thought you two needed a mother badly," John countered. Xander snickered. "There's been a lot of women who wanted to date me because the boys were being cute and Sammy was being cuddly, or Dean was being mischievous."
"Dad had to beat many women off him. That's where I get it from," Dean said with a grin for Xander. "Which is how you got me."
"Because I knew I'd be a grandfather soon if I didn't," John agreed with a wink for Xander.
"Well, my mother did say I was a good excuse for birth control," Xander said dryly. "Then again she forgot and I nearly had a sister." He ate another bite. "Did they get out?" John shrugged. "Anyone check?"
"Not that I know of," John admitted. "There's a FEMA list somewhere. Willow could probably hack it."
"I'll ask her then."
"Going to check in?" Dean asked casually.
"Probably not in person." Dean nodded at that. "But to make sure I don't have to do stupid insurance paperwork."
"If so, I'm sure we can help," Sam said, trying to supportive.
"After all, he tried to do some on you," Dean finished, giving Xander a look. He got one back. "You still okay?"
"I'm better. I didn't really hurt him when he did that." He shrugged and rubbed his forehead. "Let's change to happier topics. Is Angel swearing at me again for making Wolfram and Hart work for the light?"
"Angel nearly put out a hunt and execution order for making them get into his business," John assured him smugly. "That was so mean."
Xander grinned. "Then next time they shouldn't try to kidnap my ass. And I did it in leather too."
"I saw. Sammy sent me a picture of that outfit. Did he ask if you were turned?"
"When I was outside in the sunlight. I had to point that out twice, John. He was a bit stunned by my cute ass."
"So was I," Dean assured him. "You looked scary in that, Xander."
"I should wear that and go scare the girls and Faith."
"Faith is a girl," Sam pointed out.
"Well, technically she's an ex," Xander said with a grin. "But only for a few minutes."
"You slept with Faith?" Sam asked, looking confused.
"She was my first one," Xander agreed. "Then she tossed me out. I went to handle the zombies planting bombs in the school basement."
Sam shook his head quickly. "You guys had it so much worse than we did. They made me drink for mine and then tossed me into a room with a set of fraternal twin hookers."
Dean grinned. "It worked, right?"
Xander shrugged. "He had to pull me to a whorehouse in Vegas to get a guy to suck me off the first time. That broke it for me because you dad was insistent, no matter what Giles and Willow said."
"And we were right. You quit drawing half the evil you had been drawing," John said dryly.
"No, he didn't," Dean complained. "Not even after I finished breaking him in. The ghosts were just as happy with him as before, Dad."
John moaned. "Any idea why?"
"Marilyn thinks it's because he's a medium," Dean offered. Xander nodded at that. "But that doesn't explain why half the evil women in Las Vegas thought he was a rent boy even without Willow's lust spell."
John laughed. "I remember spanking her for that."
Sam gaped. "She did a what?"
"Lust spell trying to keep Xander het and us apart," Dean said honestly. "Small lust spell. Took a good bit of lotion to cancel. Any woman who got within three feet of him decided to want him, even the witch we went to for help."
"Well, yeah, but it was fun at first," Xander complained. "When it was stronger all the women thought I was a pro so they tipped me heavily. One even said she had paid for my time. I still don't know who she paid." He shrugged. "But I made ten grand."
Sam spluttered. "You took advantage of it?"
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas unless you get VD," Xander quipped back, cracking John up. "That is their motto with a practical ending."
"True," Dean agreed. "Thankfully we use condoms in this family."
"It's still probably not safe if the higher society women think he's a playtoy," John said through his laughs.
"He's the one who sent one to the ER for the heart attack she got from riding him," Dean complained. "And the other from her back going out while riding him." John and Sam both gaped.
"Didn't we take you for similar reasons?" Xander asked him.
"Yeah but we hadn't had sex in days thanks to Sammy sharing the motel room with us and you were wearing that green leather outfit."
John shook his head. "I had to pull over and laugh when I read that message."
"Next time we'll make up some sort of code to let Sammy know we're cuddling," Xander assured him. "That way it doesn't stretch out too far on Dean." Dean pinched him. "Hey!"
"You're the one who nearly died the next time."
"That's because the motel's owner burst in and thought I was evil for letting you tease me."
"You were being an evil tease," Dean assured him.
"Was that when you sent me out to find a double feature movie?" Sam asked. Dean smirked and nodded. "Next time just tell me, dude. We're not teenagers. Say something like 'I'm getting down with the boyfriend' and I'll disappear and text before I show back up."
"We don't often get down and funky like weasels," Xander admitted, looking at Dean. "Why is that?"
"Too tired after hunting."
"Oh yeah." Sam snickered. "It'll come I'm sure."
"As soon as everyone goes home," Dean assured him. Xander gave him a look. "That way you get some sleep."
Xander snorted. "Am I that easy, Dad?"
"Yes, son, you are." Xander pouted at him for saying that. "You'd fall on your back in a heartbeat if Dean gives you the right look and incentive."
"Oh." He frowned at Dean. "Are you sure I'm ready for that with my head?"
"Yup. I won't bang it into anything, even the pillow. You can lay there and enjoy it."
"Okay, I wouldn't mind laying there and enjoying it. Or even a really good backrub."
Dean smirked. "If I can work it into my seduction attempt."
"It's how you got made," John told him.
Dean looked at him. "TMI, dad."
"Sorry," he said with a smirk.
"At least you didn't have to hear about the tequila hallucinations that included a shark, a coconut it brought her, and the pretty pearl of the moon that I got when I asked where babies came from," Xander said dryly, digging into his dinner again.
"No, Dad handed us to Pastor Jim who told us that babies came from God and a cabbage patch," Sam said. "Your mom told you tequila?"
"Apparently I did." He shrugged and ate his last bite of dinner. John looked at him. "What? She did."
"Eat more. You need it to heal, Xander."
"No more," Sam admitted. "I didn't think he ate like one of the slayers."
"Now and then all boys do," John assured him. That got a nod from Dean. "Just like you used to, Sammy."
"I can make more later if he's still hungry," Sam offered.
Dean looked at him. "I'll make some later if he's still hungry." Sam blushed but nodded. Xander yawned. "C'mon. Let's get on with that backrub. It'll make your back feel better after so long on the hospital mattress." He led him into the bedroom, kicking the door shut behind them.
"It wasn't on purpose," Sam told his father when he got scowled at.
"You'll figure it out, son. Let's load the dishwasher and then leave." That got a nod and they did that then closed and locked the door behind themselves. That way no one would interrupt whatever plans Dean had made. He drove Sam back to the compound, letting him head inside to talk to Giles about being a watcher. John went to his own room to talk to his wife's picture about how insane their older son was for his boyfriend and Sammy was jealous but he was getting over it. Some day soon it'd be Dean and Xander in his car and Sammy with his slayer in his own car, then everything would be fine because they'd be an excellent hunting team. Nothing evil would get past them. If worst came to worst, Xander could draw it, Dean would get jealous and slay it with Sammy and his future girl. Or Xander would bait it, the girl would slay, and his sons would quip and grade them on their performance, then Dean would claim his mate. Something like that. His Mary would've been so amused by them. Especially Xander. She would've loved the little hunting goofball his son had taken a shine to. She'd have even let him have chocolate on purpose so he could drive them all nuts bouncing. She had been like that too. Dean was like him and Xander was like Mary. They'd be a scary team in the future.
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