Xander looked up from her reading as the figure settled in next to her on the park bench.  "Hey."

"Hey yourself," Cordelia said.  "You're driving them nuts."

"Then let them fix it."

"Xander," she sighed.  "If they could've fixed it, they would've let Ethan fix it."  He looked at her.  "Yes, it sucks, but hey, maybe it's your reward."

"My reward is having my life ripped apart, threatened, and then knowing that I've maybe got a year before I die.  Yeah, some reward, Cordy.  It's like finding out you've been living someone else's life and then you find out that you have cancer so you'll never get back to your own because there's no one who can treat it."  He stood up.  "Any other helpful advice?"

"Don't wear thongs.  You look trashy."  She stood up to face him.  "I'm sorry she did this.  Hell, if I had heard sooner I would've warned you."  He gave her a look.  "I would have.  Or Giles.  You're not heading anywhere near a finish line soon though.  You've still got a lot of laps left to do and a lot of pitstops during them where you have to do ....car stuff or whatever they do.  It's an imperfect analogy but they keep annoying me so I can't think."  He cracked a small smile at that.  "Remember, you have a goal.  You still have a purpose, Xander.  Even beyond that one, final one.  You don't have that long until it happens and you're nowhere near trained enough."

He looked at her.  "You'd be surprised."

"No, not really.  I've been watching."

"Did you watch before?" he asked bluntly. She winced and shook her head.  "Didn't think so."  He walked off.  "Any other helpful things?"

"Yeah, don't do Texas.  They can do Texas.  You have to be in Canada by the equinox."

Xander nodded.  "Fine, thank you."  He waved a hand.  "Have a good life."

"You too," she said quietly, watching him walk off.  Something was very not right with her Xander.  She looked up.  "I can't have another hint?"  She got the feeling she should know but didn't.  "I need to kill Willow," she muttered, disappearing again. Even though the Powers had said it wasn't her job so she couldn't.


Xander looked at the woman who was led out and sat across from him at the picnic table.  It was an open visitation day at the jail and it was nice enough so they let the lower risk people outside today.  "Hey."

"Hey."  She stared at her.  She felt familiar.  That spark....  "Did B pass?"

"No.  Willow created an exception."  Faith blinked at that, gaping a bit.  She shrugged.  "It's Willow, ya know?"

"Yeah, I remember witchy poo.  So why come see me if B's still all well and good?"

"Because Buffy, Willow, and I are having a fight," she said bluntly.  Faith snickered.  "Frankly, Wes is worried I'll end up where you are."

"I doubt that.  They gave him another girl?"

Xander stared at her.  "Faith, you know who I am already.  You're not firing on all cylinders."  She stared then burst out ranting and swearing, standing up and starting to pace.  "Guess you caught the clue."


"Yup."  He smiled at the guard.  "Sorry, some upsetting news about a mutual friend," he lied.  "She'll calm down.  Won't you, Faith?  Please?"

"Sure, yeah, I'm calm."  She sat down, staring at him...her again.  "What the fuck, X?"


"Willow?  Red?  Witchy poo did this?"  She waved a hand.  Xander nodded, looking calm.  "How long ago?"

"Few months.  I even went to Ethan Rayne; no one can fix what she did."  He patted her on the wrist.  "Not the point of the visit.  Though, does your mole swell when you retain water too?"

She blinked a few times.  "I knew I felt the spark."

"Yeah, not only did she do it to me, she changed me that way.  So now I'm my actual age and one of you.  With a bad time coming up and Buffy deciding Willow was right to offer me as a sacrifice."

Faith shuddered.  "Oh, God, Buffy's lost it."  She looked at her.  "Tweedy?"

"He's with me.  Tara's with me."


"Willow's girlfriend.  She lost her and it took a soul to get her back," he said quietly.  "She gave mine without my permission."  Faith gripped the table hard enough for the wood to squeak.  "Hey.  Calm down."  She calmed down.  "I've been mad enough for all womankind for the last few months.  Not why I'm here."

"Okay."  She stared at him.  "At least she made you hot."

"Not a consolation."

"Sorry.  True but sorry.  Things going okay back there?"

"I haven't been back since the day I escaped."  She nodded at that.  "I'm helping a few hunters with their own traumas right now to take my mind off mine."

"That's good I guess.  So why come to me?"

"To make amends."

"You're going soon?" she demanded dryly.

"Faith, I'm twenty.  I'm not Buffy.  Hell, I'm not even you."  She shrugged, leaning on the table.  "I'm also realistic.  I have eight more months until Willow's deal comes to pass and I have to either accept it or fight my way out of hell."  She gaped.  "If I do then the thing she made the deal with can take Tara back or even Willow herself.  I love Tara like my sister."

She took her hand to hold. "We all lose someone, Xander."

"I'm tired of losing someone."

"Then you're in the wrong line of work."

"Yeah, well, there's always the give up option at that point."

"I don't take you as a quitter."

"I'm not.  I still might lose though."  She nodded that was true.  "He's higher than even D'Hoffryn is."  She shuddered.  "Exactly."  She leaned closer.  "If I do go, I need you to keep a promise for me if I can't."

"What one?"

"The two hunters I'm working with are trapped in the same sort of clause."  She groaned.  "One saved his brother, Faith.  There's a strong bond and there's every indication they'll be going on even if we all die.  I need, they need, someone to help them with one single problem.  It'll have to be called.  It killed their mother."

"So they need someone with the big, hairy mole to summon the puss sucker.  Our blood calls stronger."

Xander nodded.  "It'll be easiest around the same time as the fight.  You'll be out by then from what I hear.  If I fall, you do this for them.  You don't have to hang with them.  You don't have to do anything like it.  Just help them with that single issue."

She considered it then nodded.  "Buffy won't?"

"They got offended on my behalf when the Powers sent me to them.  One of them wants to burn Willow at a stake."

"Can't say as I think he's wrong with what happened to you.  Yeah, I can do that."  Xander smiled at that.  "Anything else?"

"Just making amends, Faith."

"Hey, you tried damn hard to save me, boytoy.  Even if you did have a slightly selfish reason, you were trying to do the good thing.  We're five-by-five and it's good."  She got a small grin.  "You okay?  You look rough."

"I'm having trouble adjusting."

"Yeah, probably not easy.  Mine wasn't and I grew up one."

"Exactly.  Though drinking isn't the answer I wanted.  It seems to happen when I have a bad day."

"Thought you hated drinking."

"It numbs it, Faith.  Giles stopped me after it happened."  She nodded, understanding what he was saying.  "Anyway."  He pulled out two hunter's magazines and pushed them over.  "For you.  I wrote Angel's addy on the index of one.  He's in town.  Wes is still working with him."  She smiled at that.  "I don't think he'd be mad if you wrote to him."

"I can do that.  It might help me."  She brushed some of her hair off her cheek.  "You need a trim."

"I don't care.  I never really did and I definitely don't now."  She nodded at that.  "Anyway," she sighed, standing up.  Faith pouted.  "Fine, we'll stay and talk."  She sat down again and they talked about general life stuff and slayer stuff.  Faith had only been catching the barest of rumors from the new people coming in.


Sam looked up when Xander walked up to where they were eating.  "Where were you?"  He was watching how she walked.  She was wearing tighter clothes today.  All the other things he'd seen her in, including the dresses, had been somewhat looser and had concealed the fact that she was losing weight.  Dean must've seen that at the strip club and that's why he was being so forceful about taking care of her, even though he had refused to tell him why.

"Talking to Faith."  She sat down.  "I had to make amends."  He looked at Dean.  "The other last problem, the family vendetta issue, if I can't because of my last fight, since it'll be easiest around the same time, she will.  She'll be in Sunnydale by then and she promised me she'd help you two."

Dean nodded.  "Thanks.  Where is she right now?"

"Prison."  They choked.  They had forgotten about that.  "She staked someone who didn't go poof."

"Damn," Dean muttered.  "She okay?"

"She's better now.  She said it calmed her down, made her think.  She already knows she's getting out in January.  My fight's in February, so she'll be there if she can."  That got a nod.  Sam shoved over half his burger.  "I had a...."  They both glared so she ate it anyway.  "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome," Sam said with a smile.  "Any other errands you have to run?"

"Cordy said if you're going to Texas you're on your own.  I'm to head to Canada."

"Sure," Dean agreed.  "Will you need us up there?"

"Don't know yet.  I don't think so.  I haven't heard I would.  When you're done, head that way.  At the very least we can find something to do in Seattle since there's a ton of activity up there."  She swallowed some of Sam's water.  "Now I have to head to check in with Angel and tell him Faith's fine.  I'll see you guys in a few weeks."

"No, stay," Dean said.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "None of us have to leave tonight, Xander.  Stay."

"I'm fine."

"Bull.  You look like you haven't slept since the night Anya came over to play," Sam told him.

"I've been having a few slayer dreams about the upcoming thing.  That's all it is, guys.  Really.  I've already emailed them to Giles through Tara."

"Uh-huh.  You're still staying, Xander," Dean ordered. "We're a partnership and we have to look out for each other.  If Sammy came in looking like the same sort of hell you do I'd make sure he slept that night."

"I'd probably handcuff him if he looked that way," Sam quipped happily.

"In your dreams maybe," Dean shot back.  He stopped Xander when she tried to move.  "Sit.  Now."  Xander sat down.  "Thank you.  Damn, I just sounded like Dad."

Sam smirked and nodded.  "You did.  Think he'd be amused?"

"Probably at Xander.  Probably yelling at Xander too."  He looked at her.  "Dad was a Marine."

Xander shrugged.  "I ignore most people who yell at me.  Even bigger and brighter people in the same field.  If I didn't, I would've quit a long time ago when they tried to shove me off or turn me into donut boy."

"Who did that?" Sam asked.

"The evil trio didn't hear?  Huh.  They mention a zombie named Jack and his bomb in the basement?"  Sam nodded at that.  "That same night everyone, even Giles, decided I was too normal to be of any help to anyone and that I should pull back from the fighting for good.  Jack needed a car, kept talking about baking a cake as he went around to raise his friends for some fun.  He and I ended up staring at each other over it and he disarmed it before he disappeared into the jaws of doom."

Sam gaped.  "Jaws of doom?"

"Oz.  It was the full moon."  Sam shuddered.  "He disarmed it first.  That was nice of him."

"So you got shoved away by your friends and let this other guy pick you up?" Dean asked.

"He was one of the cool kids.  I was still trying to fit in back then.  That was also the night I lost my first time to Faith.  Saved her by having an accident with the car and some suicidal things that she was trying to hold off.  Then ten minutes later it was all over with and I found out what Jack was doing.  So I went to stop him while they were handling something in the library and the hole in the floor."  Sam pushed over his water again.  "Thanks."

"Welcome, Xander."  He looked at Dean.  "If we had done something like that in high school we'd have been beaten to death."

Dean nodded. "Yeah, just a bit."

"I didn't realize about Jack.  He had been at school that day.  His grandfather arranged things for him when he had a stupidity accident."  She took another sip and handed the glass back.  "Anyway.  Not a fun night.  I changed a lot that night."

"How close was it?" Dean asked, staring at her.

"Ten seconds.  We had a talk about liking the silence and how it was going to be no more playing frisbee during lunch for him.  He blinked first," she finished blandly, looking around.  "Weren't there people near us earlier?"

"They left a few minutes after you got here," Sam told him.  He pushed his water back and some of his chips too.

"Not that hungry, Sam.  Eat your own lunch.  This isn't grade school."  She ruffled his hair.  "But you're sweet."  She smiled and stood up again.  "If I'm staying I should get a room.  How cheap is the local place?"

"We have a couch," Dean told him.

Xander looked at him.  "I'm not sleeping in your room."  She walked off, heading out to the blazer.

Dean walked up behind her and neck pinched her until she fell down.  He put her into the Impala, smiling at the cop giving him an odd look.  "She's like our sister and she's refusing to sleep due to nightmares.  We're going to go tie her down, make her eat lunch, and then sleep."  He nodded at the blazer.  "My brother can drive it."  Sam came out.  "Paid?"

"Yup."  He handed over the box.  "The rest of yours so you don't starve.  Keys?"  Dean patted her down, finding them and tossing them over before getting in to drive.  Sam smiled at the officers.  "Really bad nightmares.  It's been a bad few months for her."  He climbed up into the blazer, liking the seats.  They were comfortable.  He started the engine and backed out, heading back with Dean.  He noticed the cops following him but oh well.  He parked in front of their room.  Dean got out and came over to grab Xander, carrying her up to their room.  Sam locked up the blazer and followed, waving at the cops.  One came up to check.  She was on the couch.  Dean was in the chair.  "She's fine, I promise.  She's like our sister, Officer.  We're not kidnaping her."

"I'd like to hear that from her.  You can knock her back out later if you need to."

Dean reached over to swat Xander's foot, making her wake up.  "Tell the nice officer we're not kidnaping you?"

Xander blinked at the officer.  "They're pushy but they're like my made family, only they like me more."

The officer nodded.  "Fine.  The younger one brought your blazer."  Xander nodded at that.  "Have a good night, kids."  Sam knocked her back out when she tried to move from the couch.  He left, going to tell the curious owner.  "Their might-as-well-be sister showed up and she's not sleeping regularly.  They knocked her out and put her on the couch."

"That's fine.  They paid for a double but one night won't matter that much.  She did look a bit thin and pale."

"Had dark circles too."  He went back to make a report just in case something happened.  You never knew about some strangers.


Xander walked up to the shaman, kneeling in front of him as a show of respect.  "Elder."  The older man looked at her.  "I need guidance and help."

"You seek our treasure?"

"Only a small piece and it's for a good cause.  One who saved his brother needs it to now save himself.  They're local if you feel the need to check but they cannot handle talking to the spirits as I do."

"You would willingly go talk to the spirits?"

"As I have before," Xander agreed.  The shaman gave her a long stare.  "I've been possessed before, Shaman."  She lowered her shields fully so he could tell.  He hissed and tried to move.  She closed it.  "It is where I was born, not who I am or what I do."

He settled in again.  "That town is evil."

"I helped take out the evil so that normal people could be safe and live their lives, Elder.  I have for many years now."  The elder studied him then nodded finally. "I may try?"

"You may try.  You do know the spirits must relent?"  Xander nodded, standing up.  "How big are you needing?"

"It calls for a gram."

"Not a big chunk," he agreed.  "You may try."  He pointed at a nearby cave.  "It is in there."

Xander looked then pointed behind him.  "The spirits talk that way."  The elder laughed and nodded, waving a hand.  He bowed and headed to talk to the spirits.  He closed his eyes as he walked into the cave, opening them once he was inside.  He let his eyes adjust to the dim light and moved in further, looking at the drawings.  He found some chalk and finished an arrow that was being shot at a moose.  He looked at the next one and saw  the same scene but this time it was a female with children.  He studied it.  "Even women can hunt," he called.  "Someone has to feed the children.  If the only ones who can are women then so be it."  He didn't draw in the arrow this time.  The bow was positioned differently.  He put down the chalk and moved on, hearing the chatter of voices in the back of his head. He came to a softly lit cavern and faced a spirit.  "Elder."

"You are not one of us."

"No, I'm not.  I'm here on a quest for someone who chose to save his brother with his own life.  He cannot talk to you as I can."

"You think that gives you an advantage?"

"No, I think having to manifest to those who can't talk to you wears out some of the energy  you have carried over from your mortal life."  The spirit gaped.  She smiled.  "I'm what's known as a slayer, Elder.  One who protects humanity against the darkness.  The one I come for does the same thing only he's male and only has a personal calling, not a duty."

"You don't like your duty."

"I make no grand statements about liking it," he agreed patiently.  "I've never liked being called.  It was necessary for it to be so, even when I was who I truly am.  Someone has to do it or else all humanity is lost."

The spirit floated closer.  "The one you serve...."

Xander burst out laughing.  "I serve no one, Elder.  I only serve myself.  I help him because he needs it and helping him helps me in my own quest.  Plus he helps humanity as I do.  Helping a fellow hunter is good for all hunters."

The spirit looked at her.  "You are not one of us."

"I was born male.  A witch did this to me."

"You are not a shaman."

"No, I am not.  I am one who can talk to spirits but I am not a shaman.  I do not use magic, even though I was born next to a place where the bad power collects to be tainted further by the portal underneath it."  The spirit looked confused.  "I lived on the hellmouth, Elder.  Boca del Inferno."  The spirit still looked confused.  "What did Giles say your... The Cumash guarded my former town.  They had a village there to keep the portal from opening and tainting the entire earth."

"I know of the Cumash."  He floated closer, laying a hand on her head.  "You are tainted."

"I was born and bred there, Elder.  I've had to soak up the energy there since the moment of conception.  I do not use it and I do not do things that would make that power happy.   I fight the things that the power bring."

"You are an odd choice to send to us."

Xander nodded.  "I may be but my quest is pure and necessary."

"Tell me of the one who sends you."

"He is an older brother.  To save the younger brother he would do anything."

"So he sold himself?"

Xander nodded.  "He would do anything to save his brother pain or hurt.  He knew the price he paid but his brother still needs him.  The world still needs him for he is one of the few who do the job we do."

"Those ones from over the seas send your kind out against those born wrong."

Xander nodded.  "I only hunt those who hurt others.  I have no interest in hunting those who desire a peaceful life and do not hurt others."

The elder nodded.  "That is a noble sentiment.  What if they are human themselves?"

"There are those who are supposed to hunt those.  Should I run into one of those I'm forbidden to slay them.  That doesn't mean I won't help where I can."

The ghost nodded, smiling at him.  "You are brave."

"Thank you.  Some say stupid though."

The ghost smiled.  "The line between bravery and stupidity is very thin and usually depends on  who's telling the tale.  You're also in the wrong cave."

"The other had no spirits in them that I could feel."

The spirit nodded at that wisdom.  "That is true.  Then again, what you seek is not in a cave."  He walked her back to the entrance to the cave.  "Shaman."  He came out of his tent.  "He is worthy.  His mind shows no malice and his quest is pure.  Both of them."  Xander looked at him.  "Your personal quest is pure.  It is right to protect yourself, daughter."  He patted her on the head.  "Go with love, child.  Try to find some."

"I doubt there's time left for that, Elder," she said quietly.  "But I thank you."  She bowed and headed with the shaman.  "Thank you for that."

"You're welcome.  He would know.  He held this job before me."  He let her down into the underground cavern, closing the trap door on her screams.  He watched the other cave.  She had not been expelled so the first test must have been passed.  Time went on and still no brash American female.  All night he watched.  At dawn the next morning there was no female.  He considered going after her but something told him not to.  At noon she came out with a small bottle.  He stood up and walked over there, looking at the small amount of dust.  "Gathered from the floor?"

"From the top of the stone, where nature is wearing it down."  She looked at him, her eyes haunted.  "I needed to see that.  I know that.  Thank you."

"It was only a vision of what could be."

Xander smiled.  "I'm a slayer, Elder.  To die is our life."  She walked off, taking the small vial to the blazer and then to her hotel room.  She sealed it into a bigger bottle.  It was just over a gram by her estimate and what was on the bottle.  She hoped it was enough.  She sat down on the bed, then sniffled.  She had needed to see that.  She didn't want to but she had needed to.  She couldn't let that vision happen.  Even if others would be happy, she would not be having a future hunter for anyone.  The other things she learned weren't as bad.  The upcoming attempted invasion was going to be bloody.  The fight after that was going to be worse.  The boys' fight was going to be bad for them.  Then healing would start.  Well, their healing would start.  She'd have to make some new decisions then.  She packed and sealed the bottle away in a locking case, one that locked by magic so no one could get it.  Then she went to take a shower.  She came out and it was still there.  She checked.  She relocked it and curled up around it on the bed, her other hand holding a dagger.  Now all they needed was the soul of a priest.  Giles could gather the other things.


Xander met up with the guys two days later, handing over the box.  She unlocked it and they stared.  Then she sealed it again and made sure it was sealed magically.  "Yours."

Dean gave her a look.  "Thank you."

"Not a big."  She smiled.  "Sunnydale?"

"We have over a month.  Seattle?"

"Seattle.  Sure."  She walked back to the blazer but Sam stopped her to hug her.  "What was that for?"

"You look like hell, Xander."

"Some visions of what the upcoming battles could be, Sam."  He grimaced.  "It's my job to make sure it doesn't turn that way."  She smiled and patted him on the cheek.  "The hug was nice anyway."  She walked around him.

"Xander, motel?" Dean called.  Xander shrugged.  "None in mind?"

"I splurged and stayed at the Holiday Inn last night," she quipped. "Pick one and text me."  She climbed in and buckled up, starting her engine and pulling out of the meeting area.

Dean watched her drive off, looking over at his brother.  "Vision my ass."

"They can be hard to deal with," Sam reminded him.  "I have that problem too."

"For a month straight?"

"Well, no," he admitted.  He climbed in, letting the precious box sit in his lap.  He stroked  a hand over it, wincing when the vision hit him.  "Pull over."  Dean pulled over again.  He did it again, letting the vision come this time.  What he saw was horrifying.  The battle was bad.  There was a whole section of their people trapped by the lines.  The next one flashed, a redhead with a dagger and a tied down body.  Another flash and then a creeping sense of something in the darkness.  He came out of it suddenly, looking at his brother.  "There's something looking for her.  It's creeping in the dark."


"Some redheaded girl with a knife.  Xander tied down to an altar looking place.  Visions of the battle coming up.  Part of the troops trapped behind the lines and being fired on."

"So, gory and bad.  We can handle those."  He restarted the car and drove on. "Where's that motel?"

"Six miles past the bridge."  He tried to get back to the first vision but it wasn't going to happen.  "We need to see if she got the same one."

"We will later.  After dinner.  Unless you don't feel like eating?" he asked at the silence.

"I'm not sure I can.  The battle turned into a carnage."  Dean shuddered.  "I don't know, Dean."

"That explains why she looks like hell then."  He found the bridge they needed and went another six miles, tooting when they passed her filling up her gas tank.  He pointed and she nodded, paying attention to the pump.  He pulled in and went into the office.  "Hey, I need a room for me, my brother, and my sister."

"Two rooms or one?"

"Whatever's cheapest."

Xander strolled in behind him.  "Two rooms.  I'm not sleeping with them, they snore."

The woman laughed.  "We have an efficiency with a king size and a pull-out couch, kids.  It's only forty for a night.  If I give you two rooms it'll be eighty for both."

Xander grimaced.  Dean decided.  "We'll take the bigger single one then."  He put down a credit card and let it be run.  "Thank you, ma'am.  Is the store the only one around?"

"There's a diner in the village.  It closes in about an hour.  The store closes at eight."

"Then we'll get stuff from there.  Thank you," Xander said with a grin.  She filled out the card with her license plate number and they went to drag themselves upstairs.  Sam had locked the box into the trunk in the special lockbox that was welded to the frame and hidden under the floor mat.  Xander brought up her smaller bag and sat down on the couch, waving at Sam.  "Hi again." He grinned.  "We're doing dinner from across the street."

"Sure.  Money?"  Xander handed over a twenty.  "I'll find something.  Does the oven work, Dean?"

He tried it then nodded. "Yeah.  Get something simple."  He turned off the oven and came over to sit on the foot of the bed, looking at Xander once his brother was gone.  "Sam got a vision off the box.  Something about a thing creeping through the dark?"

"I know what that is.  It's the slayer's mortality.  That one got explained to me.  I went back to talk to the shaman for a few days over the visions I got given."

"He also saw some of the battle."  Xander nodded she did too.  "Also some redheaded girl with a dagger and you tied to an altar."  She grimaced.  "Willow?"

"She's the only redhead I know.  It's possible that's her plan for beating her deal.  It won't work.  Your deal protects you from being killed.  So does mine.  She knows that."

"If it wasn't those what did you see?" Dean asked.  "It has to be bad."

"A possible future event that I'll never let happen."  She smiled, a bit grimly but nothing too horrible.  "It's covered, Dean.  Don't worry about it."

"See, you're becoming a friend so I should worry."

Xander nodded.  "I consider you the same way," she agreed.  "Which is why I'm more worried about Sam.  He looks like he's sick."

"He had the flu in Texas.  The usual summer humidity and heat got to him on top of it.  He spent the last week puking his guts up."  Sam came back. "Hungry?" he asked when he spotted two bags.

"Sandwich stuff, beer, and soda.  Plus a frozen pizza for tonight."  He gave Xander back the change and started the pizza baking.  Then he came over to sit beside Xander.  "That battle scene was horrible."

Xander nodded.  "It might be preventable.  I know the area it was in.  If not, forewarned and all that so we can plan around that in-case."  Dean nodded at that.  Sam gave her another hug.  "Sam, I love you dearly, but I'm not dating you.  Get off."  He laughed and got off.  "Thank you.  Wrinkling me.  Cordy would complain."  Dean laughed, going to check on the pizza.  "You can smell them when they're done, Dean."  She looked at Sam.  "Why are you so touchy-feely all of a sudden?"

"You looked like you need it and, well, over the last few months you've kinda gotten used to taking care of us so I figured we could help each other over the new nightmares.  With the way you're always taking care of us you're kinda motherly."

"Eww, no," Xander said, hopping up.  "Sisterly maybe but not motherly.  Never, ever motherly.  I can't handle that thought.  Even if I do like you I can't handle that thought.  Little sister.  That's it."  She fled to the bathroom.

Dean looked at the bathroom door then at Sam.  "I think you freaked her out."

"I'm sorry, Xander."

"Not your fault.  Just a bad thought.  I can barely handle the thought of anything coming out of me.  Much less that," she said through the bathroom door.

Dean gave her five minutes. "If you don't come out, you can't eat."

"Go ahead and start without me."

Dean tapped on the door.  "Fat chance, Xander.  Get out here and eat."

"You're clearly starved or you have tapeworms.  If there's nothing left I'll get a sandwich later."  Dean tried the knob so she opened it with a sigh.  "I should go for a run anyway, make Wes proud."

"No.  No going out alone tonight.  Even if it's a quiet area.  I want you where we can see each other."

Xander gave him a horrified look.  "I can sleep in the blazer."

"No.  Now go eat."  He pulled her out and went to use the bathroom so she couldn't hide again.

Sam came back from borrowing a knife, smiling at her.  "Hungry?"

"Not really.  You gave me nasty mental images."  Sam pouted.  "You did!  I've seen that film.  Eeww!"

"Tough, suck it up and eat anyway," Dean said before he came out.

Sam grimaced.  "Did you have to do that before dinner?"

"Yes."  Hee came over to pull out the pizza and cut it for them.  Then he put Xander down on the couch and handed her two pieces.  She clearly wasn't eating again.  "What else did you see?"  Xander gave him a look then shook her head.  "Uh-huh.  You sure?"


"Final answer?" Sam asked.

"Funny, you don't look like Regis."

Sam stuck his tongue out.  "Keep it up, he'll spank you next.  He tries on me now and then."

"Hate to remind you, but super strength, Sam.  He won't be pinning me down to paddle me.  Or anything else."

"Hasn't crossed my mind yet," Dean promised her.  She gave him an odd look.  "Really.  Hasn't."  He ate a bite of his dinner.  "Eat, Xander.  Don't make me treat you like I do Sam."

"Again, super strength, doubt you could."  Sam took the plate and Dean pounced.  They wrestled for a few minutes but Xander landed on top and held him down, letting him thrash a bit.  "Feel better?  Should I flip you over and spank you?"

"Please don't," he ground out.  This was not how his roughhousing with Sammy usually went.  "Get off me."  Xander grinned.  "Now."

"Not the right magic word," she said happily.

"There's a pagan group up the road," Sam told her.

"I know.  I visited there first to warn them about the upcoming problem with the invasion."

"Fine.  Please?"  Xander got off him and hauled him  up.  "I forgot how strong you are."

"So do I now and then."  She sat down and stretched, yawning a bit.  "Shift down, Sam.  I'm tired and going to curl up."

"After you finish eating," Dean said.  Xander made a whining noise.  "Tough.  We need you in top form for the attack.  If you're weak now, you'll be weaker then.  So until then, you're going to eat and sleep like a normal being."  He took the plate from Sam and handed it over.  "Eat."

"Fine," Xander muttered.  It did make sense.  She could put off her thinking until after the assault.  She finished her two pieces and Sam added his second one.  "Hey!"

"Your choice, eat or be in the hospital since I 'saw' when the last time you ate was."

Xander grumbled something under her breath and ate that one too.  Then she stretched out and made Sam move.

"It folds out," Dean reminded her.

"I'm fine and I'm not letting one of you two crawl in with me."

"We woke up to you cuddling plenty of times in the cabin," Sam reminded her.  Xander stuck her tongue out.  "Fine.  Don't be comfortable then."

"The broken spring's on the other side, Sam.  I'll be fine.  Have fun being his teddybear again."  Dean reached over to swat her but she kicked him and he fell backwards, making her laugh.  "You're nearly as good as the Three Stooges."

"Well, there are three of us," Dean smarted back with a smirk.

"Yeah but I'm the Zeppo.  Different comedy team."  She flipped onto her other side and closed her eyes.  She was tired.  A nap could be nice.

Dean waited until she was snoring to look at Sam.  "Give me another piece?"  He handed him two more, knowing his brother's appetite.  "Thanks.  Handcuffs?"

"We have manacles."

Dean watched her shift then sighed and got up, putting her onto the bed.  She sprawled out to take up most of the space.  "Not happening, Xander."  They got the sofa bed unfolded and put her into it, letting her spread out over there.  They drew straws for the first shower, letting Dean finish eating in there with his remaining stink from earlier.

Sam finished tucking her in, getting unhappy noises. "It's us, Xander.  Sleep."   She flipped onto her side and curled around a pillow.  "That's a good Xander."  Xander barked.  He laughed.  "Okay."  He settled in with his computer.  He had a freecell game he could open up.  Dean came out in boxers and a towel.  "Leave me any hot water?"

"Some."  He sat down to finish drying his hair while watching Xander.  He heard the first nightmare and got up to sit on the foot of her bed.  She kicked him once, then her foot rubbed.  "My ass, Xander.  Quit," he said quietly.  She made a purring noise and drifted off again.  He shook his head.  The manacles were looking like a good idea.  He slid into his jeans and headed down to the car, bringing them back.  They were long enough to hitch her to the bedframe and allow her some movement.  They'd rattle if she moved so they'd wake up if she did.  She started that same whimpering so he sat on the foot of her bed again.  This time it kept going.  He could barely hear what she was muttering and it made him blush.  "Figured she had those sort of dreams too," he complained.  He sat on his bed and she snapped awake.  "Sleep.  Now."  Xander shook her head.  So he nerve pinched her until she was unconscious.  Then he got back down to his boxers and climbed into bed, turning on the tv for now.  They had some decent stations around here.  It was a nice change from some of the American motels.   Sam came out and slid into bed too, giving him a look.  "Tv?"

"Sure.  A-Team?"

"Why not.  Lots of guns and explosions."  Sam pointed at Xander.  "She'll be fine."  They settled in to watch it together.  Sam could pick the next show.


Dean woke up to a noise, looking around the room.  Nothing was out of place.  He sat up to take a better look, frowning at the empty fold-out bed across from them.  "Where is she this time?" he muttered, getting out of bed.  He pulled on his jeans and went down to the cars, finding her behind the blazer.  "You're cleaning it at *this* time of night?"

"I'm going for the run I should've went on last night," she said, finding her running shoes.  She sat on the tailgate to put them on then closed it.  "I'll be back in an hour."

Dean gave her a look then shook his head.  "As much as I know about PT, no.  It's three in the morning.  Go to bed, Xander."

"It's quiet and I won't get hit on the road.  There's no traffic."

"Don't make me knock you out and chain you up again."

"Yeah, about that."  She smacked him on the side of the head.  "Not your wife, Dean.  I'm not playing bondage games with you."  She stretched in the other direction.  He grabbed her around the waist and she struggled but he got her in a choke hold.  "Let go," she ground out.

"Bed, Xander."  He drug her back up there and tossed her down onto her bed.  He locked the door and put a trap in front of it.  She was still glaring.  "It's three in the morning.  We need sleep too."

"I didn't wake you up.  The neighbor just got off and woke you up."

"I don't care.  Go to bed."  He got back down to his boxers.  When she hadn't moved he came over to take her sneakers off for her.  She swatted at him again but he ducked it and hit her back.  "Quit," he growled.  She gave him a glare back.  "Sleep."  The other sneaker hit the floor and he pushed her backward, putting her under the blankets.  He laid on top of them and held her down.  That way she couldn't escape this time.  They would have to refill Sam's sedatives when they got back to the states.  Xander remained stiff but oh well.  At least he could sleep now.  He smiled, hearing the softer breathing start.  She was calming down.  He drifted off about the same time as the first snore.


Sam woke up and blinked at the other bed.  "What happened this time?" he muttered, getting up and going to the bathroom.  He came out but the flushing hadn't woken either of them.  Xander was curled up on top of Dean's chest.  Dean was holding her, one hand was in her hair.  He checked the clock.  It was only five.  He looked at the cold bed.  Then at the warm, full bed.  He shrugged and crawled in behind her, holding her down too.  Dean obviously had run into a problem in the middle of the night.  He fell asleep warm and comfortable, nuzzling her shoulder as he fell asleep.  She smelled good.

Dean snapped awake an hour later, grimacing at what had woken him.  Someone was stroking his stomach.  He looked under the blanket.  Both her hands were on his upper torso.  One was kneading his shoulder, the other was around his ribs.  That left one person who'd be teasing his bellybutton fur that way.  He smacked the hand and it stopped.  He was even nice enough to move it onto Xander's stomach instead.  He shifted, realizing he had a hand in her hair when she whimpered.  He let that one go and shifted onto his side, facing away from her.  He shook his head when he felt the warmth hit his back.  She was definitely cuddly.  She was also pushy and making needy noises in her sleep.  He sighed and flipped back onto his back.  She snuggled into his side again and he had to let her.  He tried to flip that way and she bit him, hard.  She hadn't drawn blood but it was a deep mark.  She  sighed in pleasure and wrapped her thigh over one of his.  He looked at down at her.  "I'm not yours," he reminded her quietly.  She pouted.  "Xander, I'm not a pillow."

"Bad, shh," she hissed.  "Hear you."

"Who'll hear me?" he asked.

"Bad people."

He stroked her back.  "They won't get me.  I'll protect you so you can sleep."  She shh'd him again.  "Sleep, Xander.  Cuddle up to Sam and nap."  She clung to him so he had to put up with it.  He didn't want to be bitten again.  The hand on his stomach came back and he swatted it again.  Sam made the same sort of whimpering noise.  Xander cooed in her sleep in response.  Dean, he just groaned and tried to move.  They both pounced him and he ended up the group pillow.  He hated it when Sam had these moods.  Her having them too was too strange for him.  He got to swat Sam for real when he tried to pet him this time.

"Belly loves," Sam mumbled.  "Nice dog."

"I'm not a dog, Sam.  Get off," Dean complained.  Xander shifted, her thigh going back over his.  "Great.  Why can't this be a woman I could do something with?" he complained to God.  "This is really unfair.  I can't sleep with either of them.  Why do this to me?"

Sam purred in his ear.  "Cuddle?"

"I am being cuddled, Sam."

"Nice you," he promised, stroking higher up.  That hand got smacked by Xander, which made Dean laugh at least.  "Oooh, breasts."

"What are you, Bart Simpson?" Dean complained.  Sam stroked him and he swatted it so it moved.  Ran into Xander again and she swatted him.  Sam tried it again a few minutes later, starting to pout now.  This time instead of swatting she petted his head for him.  Sam quit petting him and started to pet her.  "Uh-uh.  Not on top of me."  Xander bit him again and he yelped, which woke Sam up.  "Get off me," he growled.  Xander growled back.  He swatted her too, getting a sleepy look. "I'm not the bed.  Get off me."

"Grumpy bitch," she said, putting her head back down.  "Shut up.  Trying to sleep.  You wanted me to sleep."

"Not on me!  Especially not with the petting thing you two had going on."

"Shut up," she warned.  "Or I'm going to cut your balls off."

"Then I'm definitely moving."  He wiggled until he got free and went to the real bed to sleep on his own for a change.  He made sure the alarm was still set for nine.  Then he made himself fall back asleep.  Sam and Xander could cuddle each other.  He didn't feel it when Sam came back after she bit him for trying to nurse on her.  Or her when she got cold because Sam had taken the blanket with him.  He woke up underneath them again, almost in the same position, only this time Sam was trying to nurse on him and stroking Xander's back and Xander was sucking on his neck in her sleep.  He looked at her.  "What happened to the 'don't touch me' thing you usually have?"  She woke up when he poked her.  "Why are you trying to eat me?"  She gave him a confused look.  "You're sucking on my neck, Xander.  Go fix yourself food."

"Food bad.  Keeps this going."  She put her head back down.  She smiled.  "Sam, thanks for the backrub."  He made happy sounds.

Dean looked down at him.  "You were breastfed, Sam.  We all know that.  I didn't do it for you though.  Get off."  Xander poked Sam on the side until he quit sucking.  "Thank you.  Xander, you're sending mixed signals.  You have been."

"I'm a tactile person, Dean.  Sorry.  Won't happen again."

"Then I'd quit wearing the bras that push you up."

Xander looked at him.  "I used it to get out of a speeding ticket."

"Did it work?"  She nodded.  "I'll have to put Sam in one the next time."

She snorted, getting out of the bed.  She went to the bathroom and came out to make a sandwich.  A quick scoop to get her shoes.  "Going for my run now, Dad.  Since you wouldn't let me run when I needed to think."  She left, going to do that.

Sam woke up when the door slammed, looking at Dean.  "Did I creep?"

"Dude, you went so far beyond creeping it's not funny.  You changed beds twice.  You were trying to breastfeed on me.  Get off!"  Sam got off him.  "Thank you!"  He went to shower off the drool.  He knew his brother was strange and Xander was a given for the strange crap award, but those two getting together was too damn strange.

Sam pulled the blankets over himself and went back to sleep.  He had over an hour left.  Even if he did feel lonely and cold all by himself.


Two days later Sam finally decided to go to the library and check his email, leaving Dean and Xander cleaning their guns.  Dean looked at her.  "Your eating thing has got to be solved," he said quietly.  Xander grunted back.  "You said it was going to prolong this problem of yours the other morning."  He made Xander look at him.  "I know I said to do the emo crap to Sam, but talking could help."

"I can't be changed back, Dean.  I don't particularly like being a woman or a slayer.  There's nothing to talk about.  I'll do what I have to do."

"Which means you could lose your challenge."

"I don't hate it enough to like hell better."  She got back to her cleaning, putting that one back together and picking up the next one once it was back in its case.  "I don't know what I'm going to do once I win this fight.  It sucks."

"You do that in your sleep," he said, mostly to see her smile.  Xander gave him a look.  "You do.  Need to see the hickey again?"

"No thanks.  That shirt shows it off very well."  She went back to breaking down that gun to clean it.  He grabbed one of hers once his were done.  "I can."

"So can I.  You'll never get done if I don't."  He helped her clean the rest of her stash.  "You still have to be in prime form for the problem coming up in a month, Xander. You're still not sleeping without being forced and you're still eating one meal a day when we nag.  You need to fix that before the battle.  There won't be time afterward."

"I know.  I'm doing better than I was."

"Some progress is good.  It's still not a lot of progress."  She glared at him.  "It's not.  What's the nightmare that keeps waking you up?  It wasn't one you were having at the cabin by what's going on."

"It's nothing."

"Something about the battle?  Battle nerves?  Worrying about someone else stepping in?  The thing with Willow and the dagger?"

"I didn't get that one.  I barely saw it before it changed."

"Okay.  And?  What about this dark, creeping thing?"

"That's the slayer's mortality sneaking up on me.  It's a pretty simple 'you'll be dying sometime soon' feeling.  Kendra said she had it a few weeks before she was killed."

"You can't die yet.  The demon would be cheated and they won't allow it."

"I know that.  Faith said she got it before her coma too.  We're still mortal, just gifted.  That's pointing it out."  She finished that gun and put it back together, then grabbed another one.  "That's more of the acceptance stuff.  I could very well die in February.  Or shortly afterward if I'm too injured.  We all die.  I've faced it too many times before on the patrol.  It happens."

"Okay, then what is it?"

"Drop it."

"No."  He punched her on the arm.  "If we're really as close as your family, you can talk to us, Xander."  He grinned.  "Even about the nasty stuff.  I learned more about periods from yours than I have before."

Xander looked at him.  "The Powers decided to hint that I could have children someday if I really wanted to.  Since I don't even like being female that's just worse.  Feel better?"

"Not really.  It's kind of disgusting to think about."  Xander nodded, going back to it.  "Any idea who?  Or if it's when you're...broken in?"  She shook her head.  "You're sure?"

"Very.  It was in a few years."

"Was there a father?"

"Yeah.  No comment."

"That's fine.  I won't ask."  He finished cleaning his and put it down, taking the last one.  "What about after your fight with that thing?"

Xander shrugged.  "I'll make sure you've got yours if you haven't yet.  Then I'll go somewhere and think."

"Which means you'll probably never be coming back," he said  quietly, glancing at her.  "We miss too many of us, Xander."

"Dean, if this was you, I doubt you'd want to live like this."

"I don't think I'd let it freak me out this way."

"I've had very few things I could cling to in my life, me being a boy was one of them."

"That should be a fundamental part of you," Dean said, looking at her.  "I noticed Ethan healed more than those few scars you had from the carving.  I also know how some of them come about, Xander."

"Then you know why I can't accept this."

"I  know but if you give up there's no chance."

"Actually, if I die I might change back."

"You won't get to enjoy it."

"I won't confuse any angels."

"Not a happy thought."  Dean shifted closer.  "I don't want to have that thought, okay?"

"That's why I wasn't sharing."

"I was going to offer to let you travel with us for a while.  That'd give you plenty of time to think about stuff and figure out if there's other ways."

Xander stared at him.  "I like you guys a lot but I don't want you to be part of my fucked up life, Dean.  It could only hurt you.  A slayer's supposed to be singular for a reason.  Those around them are targets and even other hunters are vulnerable," she said quietly.  "I'd hate to be the reason that you and Sam die."

He nodded.  "I can see that.  I still want to keep in touch with you.  You're a friend now."

Xander nodded.  "I feel the same way.  We'll have to see how it works out.  I'm not making any promises."

"Sure."  He shifted back.  "What about the skirt stuff?  You were doing better."

"Yeah, well, I tried to put the moves on someone and it creeped me out all over again.  I retreated back to where I was."

"When did you do that?"

"Few weeks back.  On the way up here.  I figured we could get to the mildly fooling around stage and nothing would happen.  I nearly killed myself getting away from him and I felt like I needed to scrub off all my skin."

"Couldn't go gay before?" he teased.

"I could and tried it once," she admitted quietly.  "Wasn't bad.  Not something I'm going to push to do again but wasn't bad.  It just felt *wrong*.  Like I was attacking him."

"Using the strength on him?"

"No," she said weakly.  "Not in the least."

He thought about it while he finished that gun and put it away.  "There's a thing it could be."  Xander looked at him.  "I know when I was younger I was creeped out by girls that wanted to take control.  Absolutely could not handle it.  I take you as one who was pretty much in control before now."

"Anya got on top all the time."

"But you initiated?  Right?"


"Did that bother you?"

Xander grimaced but shook his head.  "No, not really.  Maybe it's because I'd be the vulnerable one that way.  I don't know.  When I have to I'll make it something quick and dirty in a club or something."

"That's pitiful.  It should be better  than that."

"Willow never made that part work."

"I think it does but because it's freaking you out, it won't work," he countered.  She scowled at him.  "Think about it, Xander.  If you were scared of yourself before, would you have worked?"

"Probably not but girls aren't like that."

"According to the biology book it's the same organ only on guys it grew and on girls it didn't."  Xander gave him an amused book. "I'm sure Sammy could pull up an educational site or three if you wanted him to."

"Not really.  I'm still having trouble even thinking about it."

"That's another good reason for it to not work," he  pointed out.  "Did you let Anya help?"

"A lot.  She tried everything."  She shrugged.  "Didn't help."

"So maybe you're not a lesbian this time."  Xander shook her head but she was smiling.  "I think if you get a guy who's a bit aggressive, not that'll force the issue but one who'll make most of the moves and let you experience it, it could help that problem."

"I have to be able to deal with the fact I have one of those."

"Say the word, Xander.  Wesley said you have to say those words."

"He's wrong about some things.  Because I can't and I never will be able to. "   She stood up and grabbed the gun case.  "Help me carry?"

"Sure."  He helped her carry the cases back down to the blazer and put them up, locking them back inside, watching as the magic hid them again.  "How did you get that?"

"A few people who owed me in LA.  Someone had to stock bolts and things for Giles."

"Good point.  Can I meet 'em?"

"If they're still there.  The upcoming problem would make them run as soon as they heard and they get the early warning 'oh crap' alerts."   Dean snickered at that.  "They do.  It's their people."  She shrugged and locked the tailgate again.  They watched as a cop rolled past the parking lot, then looked at each other.  "Go get Sam?"

"Nah.  It'll be fine."

"Dean, I've already ended up in a cell once this trip."  He gave her one of those looks.  "Some redneck idiot tried to grope.  I broke his wrist.  The cops pulled me in for assault.  The cop tried the same thing on tape with his partner in there and their boss watching.  I warned him first.  He tried it anyway.  I broke his wrist."  Dean laughed.  "I got let go because they decided groping me was a bad idea but I had no control over the unconscious reaction."  She leaned against her tailgate, watching a different cop car roll past.  "That's two."

Dean looked around.  "That's a caddy down the lot."

Xander looked then groaned.  "Drugs or weapons you think?"

Dean looked.  "It's a pimp caddy with a lift kit.  Drugs."  Xander groaned, paging Sam to call her.  He called but Dean answered.  "We've got a police raid coming we think.  No, not on us as far as we know.  Thanks.  Yeah, good idea."  He hung up and tossed the phone back.  "You have everything packed?"

"Nearly.  I was rinsing a few things out."  She went upstairs to repack the few wet things.  They could dry in her backseat.  She came back down and found cops frisking Dean.  "Hi, guys.  Problems with my brother?"

"Ma'am, put down the bag and step over here please?" an officer requested.

"If you give me a damn good reason why."  They glared.  She glared back and dropped the bag but stayed there.  "I want a reason."

"Ma'am, one of your neighbors heard you planning an assault."

Xander blinked.  "Really?  And they were listening to us why?"

"Probably trying to see if we were having sex," Dean said.  "Two guys, one girl, a motel room.  It's a cheesy porno."

"Definitely cheesy."  She came down, letting them frisk her.  All they'd find was a bodice dagger and her bootknife. She looked at them.  "You guys, I'm from near LA."  They all gave her horrified looks.  "I'm from a small town called Sunnydale."  One stepped away in horrified awe.  She grinned.  "He knows my town apparently.  We're going back to town for a long visit but the town's very dangerous.  It has a high death rate.  During the holidays we often have gang fights for new stomping grounds because we're just off the drug highway.  That's why there was a rash of PCP killings a few years back."

"No town has that much PCP."

"Hey, tell it to the old mayor.  That's what his police department said it was instead of idiots with guns and things.  So yes, we're planning on going back and the ones we're staying with are expecting to be attacked yet again this year.  One of them runs a neopagan store and the gangs don't like them in case you didn't know.  So we've been planning how to protect them.  Any assault is one we were planning against."

"Can we check your truck, ma'am?"

"No.  I have a fourth amendment."  They all glared.  She glared back, crossing her arms over her chest.  "What do you think you're going to find?"

"Bombs," one said honestly.

"Actually, I am licensed in demolitions but no.  Not hardly."  They all gaped so she pulled out her ID case and found her old license.  "Before the sex change operation."  They all stared and backed up a step.  She grinned.  "Even if you used a bomb dog, they'd smell that I used to have residue in here.  Or gunpowder.  Last time we went I ended up firing on a few of them doing a drive-by on bikes."

"Motorcycle gang?"

"It's southern California, dear.  They were on mopeds.  That's why I used a shotgun instead of  my pagan buddy's AK."  That got a nod.  "He's British.  Refugee type thing a few years back."

They walked off to talk about it.  Dean looked at her.  "You have a demo license?"  She let him see it.  "Neat."

"Construction worker, Dean.  Of course I have one.  I'm actually rated to do SWAT's job for them."

"That means you have to stick around.  No one in my friends can do that if we have to rip down a barn the next time."  One of the cops looked at him.  "I have friends in the midwest and it's easier to blow it than bring in heavy equipment to knock it down and then replant whatever they've wrecked."

"Easier cleanup too," Xander agreed thoughtfully.  That same cop gave her a horrified look.  "I'm a former construction foreman, guys."  That got a whimper.  "I know how to put them up and take them down."

"Your town had a gas explosion a few years back," one said.  He was the one who knew.

"My graduation," Xander agreed.  "I helped with the clean up and the evacuation."  That got a nod.  "I can give you guys someone to call if you need to.  I'm a protector, guys, not an attacker.  Whoever was listening only got half the story."

"And are kinda twisted," Dean said.

"Very."  Xander leaned against his shoulder.  "Sam's back," he muttered. "Dinner?"

"Yes, you have to eat.  Yet again," Dean said dryly, giving her a look.  He looked at Sam then at Xander.  Sam kept driving, looking like he had been looking for something in the car.  "Pizza, burger, diner, any ideas?"

"I don't care as long as it's not prison food."

"Good idea," Dean said.  "Diner?"

"Sure.  Whatever.  Is it my treat?  If it is, I'm about down to the card Travers gave me again."

"Yeah, us too.  I should go play pool tonight," Dean said.

Xander looked at him.  "Don't tempt me."

Dean gave him a look.  "With the doubts you've had?"

"In a funny way it makes me feel more powerful.  All of them staring at me in awe.  I have power over them and they can't do more than look."

"Some day you're going to have to get over that no-touching rule."

"I'm working on it."

"Good.  Try it with Sam.  He's the sweet sort."

Xander looked at him.  "That would go against your earlier theory, wouldn't it?"

He considered it then nodded.  "It would.  We'll figure it out.  As long as it's not Angel or someone like him."

"Spike would offer but eww and it has to be human.  Neither one of those qualify.  Which is why Buffy's blood doesn't qualify for that need."  She grinned.  "Did you know that when Buffy went telepathic Angel told her she couldn't read his mind because of the no reflection thing?"

"Really?  Doesn't seem that way."

She nodded.  "Yeah.  That's what he told her.  Of course, he told me he couldn't do CPR because he doesn't need to breathe.  That's how I ended up bringing her back to life.  I forced him to go."

"That's not right.  The air would be more pure if you didn't need to breathe that often," he said.  She nodded.  "What a woose!"

"Yup.  King Hair Gel.  Now you know why I laughed when Wes said he had to resort to slug slime when they went to Pylea for over a month and found Fred."

"I liked Fred.  I know a few people who'd adore Fred."  Xander nodded.  "Think we can set her and Tara up after we deal with Willow?"

"I don't know.  Maybe.  You'll protect Tara, right?"

"Yeah, when something happens, I'll protect Tara for you.  Not for Willow but I will for you."  Xander beamed at that.  He punched her on the arm.  "Getting all girly again, Alex."

"Sorry."  She smiled at the cops when they all looked over.  "What?  I've been having some post-changeover traumas.  He's been very good about keeping my spirits up when I found out how hard it is to have sex now."  That got a shudder.  "But I do make a fantastic stripper when I'm out of money."

"She does.  I nearly drooled," Dean said.  "I couldn't watch; it gave me some very bad thoughts."

"Really?"  She looked at him.

"Really.  That skirt you wore afterward wasn't much better.  Or the black velvet number in the club.  Definitely thoughts I should not have."

"Bev thought Sam would like it.  She thinks he'd make a good puppy dog."

"She's a bit wrong.  I'm going to protect Sammy, even from women who want to tie him up and mess up his hair.  Unless he hits on them first."

"Pity.  She said she'd  be more than happy to adopt him and do whatever he wanted."

"Dad would be screaming about this conversation by now."

"Probably about the time you admitted you thought I was hot while I stripped to make us roadtrip money."

"Yeah, probably.  Think you can freak Sammy out tonight?"

"Sure."  The cops came back.  "Anything else, gentlemen?"  One grabbed her by the arm and pulled her away from Dean.  "He's not going to hurt me."

"You're dangerous, ma'am."

"Um, duh?"  She shrugged.  "I've still got a good portion of my muscles."

"When were you leaving?" one asked.

"Tomorrow.  We're due in Sunnydale in about six days.  I planned on staying outside the town to scout ahead so I could see who had died this summer."

"Were you in any way responsible for the explosion at your graduation?"

Xander looked at him.  "I'm not with the gas company, guys, and the mayor himself was responsible for the leak that started it.  He wanted to hold off fixing  it so he could have his chosen area for the ceremony and speech.  Then his equipment sparked and set it off."  That was the common explanation used.  "I helped clean up the mess and get the injured out of the way."  That officer nodded.  "We'll gladly leave tomorrow.  It's not like we planned on staying.  Your town's nice but we do have a schedule to keep.  We're not terrorists.  We're not going to attack anything in the US and make people paranoid.  Really."

"Dating women?"

"I tried, that's one of the problems.  It wasn't as good as before.  I've been talking to myself about trying a guy sometime soon."  They all shuddered.  She shrugged.  "I might like it more this time than last time."  She grinned.  "Any other questions?"

"Do you have weapons with you?"

"I have bullets with me.  Ripper never has bullets."

"Do you have bomb making paraphernalia?" another asked.

"I have a kit to repair the car.  Nothing to do tv and vcr repair I think.  Dean, did you see an electronics kit?"

"No.  Wes said you wouldn't need one on the trip.  You could call if your phone broke."

"I guess I don't."  She looked at them again.  "Just because I have the skills doesn't mean I'm going to use them, guys.  How many of you are former military?  Do you use it?"

"We were trained not to attack our own people," one glaring one said.

Xander snorted.  "I was trained to a higher standard, all of humanity.  The whole town was going to go up in flames a few summers ago and we stopped it then.  Our PD is crappy and on the take.  They don't come out except for speeding tickets.  Hell, I walked past one with a battle axe one day and just got a friendly nod."

"The state boys said that their state boys down there said the same thing," one agreed.  "You'll leave tomorrow?"

"Sure.  Middle of the morning.  Dean's a grump first thing in the morning."

"Then we'll let you go since we can't charge you with anything."

Xander kissed him on the cheek.  "Don't worry.  I know you want to capture someone but it's not us, guys.  Really."

"I can charge you with assault for that," he sneered.

"And like the guy who tried to cop a feel when I didn't want him to, I can break your wrist.  I'm being nice."  She smiled sweetly.  "Ask the cop who tried to do the same thing to prove that I did it on purpose.  His partner was there and they caught him groping me on tape."  They all hissed at that.  "So yeah, not high on my happy list but I don't care about you.  I have to go save our friends from gang members.  You're a pinpoint on a map that had a motel.  We'll gladly leave in the morning."  Dean came over to cover her mouth.

"Ten good for you guys?" he asked.  They all nodded.  "Thanks.  Have a better night, guys."   They walked off.  One hung back.  "Yes?"  It was the one who knew about Sunnydale.

"Brother and sister?"

"Adopted," Dean said.  "Close enough for our family."

"Oh.  Ripper Giles?"

Xander moved the hand.  "I'm Xander."  His eyes went wide and he backed off.  "See, told you I wasn't going to do more than go home and protect it."

The officer nodded.  "I understand now.  How...."


"Oh.  Yeah, my cousin told me.  I was at graduation."  Xander nodded at that.  "Good work."

"Thanks.  We tried."

"You did good, kids."  He walked off, going back to the office to explain it a bit better.  They'd leave the kids alone.  Including the other car in the group.  Someone had seen it pause and then drive off again.

Dean looked at Xander.  "You babble when you're trying hard not to talk."

"I know.  It's a bad habit I picked up off Willow."

"Can I burn her?"

"No.  If she's going to be tied to a stake for hurting me, I'm gonna be the one to do it."  She sighed and looked at the blazer then at him.  "Wanna go tonight?"

"Yeah, kinda."  He went to get their room fee back while Xander made sure everything was packed for all of them.  She came back down to hand Dean his and Sam's bag, then got into the blazer and headed off.  Sam stopped by to pick up Dean and they followed.  There were some nicer motels up the road anyway.


Two days later they ran into a snag in the plans.  Lack of money and a motel keeper that had 'found god' as he put it so he would not let them stay in the same room to do 'ungodly things' with his furniture.  He had started to protest as soon as Dean and Xander had walked into the office.

Dean looked at him.  The standard lie wasn't going to make it any better so oh well.  Guess it was a new lie.  "Listen, dude.  The other guy is my little brother.  She's my wife."  Xander looked at him, giving him an amused look.  He grinned back.  "I know you wanted to keep it secret until we found your friends, but we can't this time."  He looked at the guy again.  "Before you ask, she can't wear a ring.  Gold allergy.  I'm too young to afford platinum yet."

The guy stared at her.  "That true, ma'am?"

"I'm not old enough for a ma'am yet," she said with a sweet smile, wrapping an arm around Dean's neck to kiss him gently then smiled at him.  "We were just married two weeks ago in Vegas and now we're on our honeymoon road trip with Sam.  He's such a *nice* boy.  Stanford and all that stuff.  He needed a break so we brought him with us."

He smiled.  "Then I guess there's no harm with it.  The black car yours or hers?"

"The blazer's mine and his.  Sam has the Impala.  Bought if off my Dean for his graduation present.  Dean's sweet enough to switch off so they can have guy talk.  You know, those silly things guys talk about.  Fishing and hunting and strippers."  The motel keeper laughed at that. "Is that good enough or do we need to go dig out the certificate?"

"No, that's fine.  I'm sure you won't get up to anything naughty since he's your brother and you're married to the other one.  You gotta be careful along the highway.  Plenty of loose women around here who prey on the poor truckers.  Always with stories about being related but they do things God wouldn't allow relatives to do."

"I've heard," she agreed, stroking up Dean's arm.  "Is there somewhere we can send Sam out for dinner?"

"There's a good diner 'bout fifteen miles up the road.  Go to May's.  It's great food, good prices."  That got a nod from Dean and Xander paid for it with the card Travers had given her.  "Go ahead and sign the box for me, ma'am, um, well, what do you call a young  married woman?"

Dean shrugged.  "Honey."  She swatted him.  "Or other special pet names that'll get you pounced."  The motel keeper laughed while she signed her name.  "The couch pull out?"

"Nah, 'fraid not.  Go ahead and send him out for food.  Wish I had something bigger."

"It'll be fine," Xander assured him with a grin.  "That's why there's a dinner run."  She took the keys with a wink and walked out holding hands with Dean.  "Get the bags?"

"Sure.  You go scout the room and the shower."  She nodded, heading that way.  He grabbed her usual bag, their usual bag, and woke Sam up.  "Come on, sleepy.  There's a bed inside."

"Took you long enough."  He yawned as he got out, smiling and waving at the clerk once the Impala was locked back up.  "Did you lock the blazer back up?"  Dean tossed him the keys so he could check, nodding and coming up the stairs.  He looked at the room. One bed.  One single king sized bed.

Dean looked at him once the door was shut.  "It'll be fine.  You can go get dinner in a  while, Sammy."

Sam sighed, heading for the bed.  "Let me finish my nap first.  Then we'll do dinner."  Xander came out of the bathroom and grabbed her bag, heading back inside.  "Xander, patch?"

"In the bag.  That's one of the reasons I need it."  She stuck another one on and came out in a tight t-shirt and shorts. She leaned down to kiss Sam on the head.  "Thank you for thinking about that for me."   He grinned.  She leaned closer.  "We had to tell them you're our little brother; we're on a honeymoon roadtrip.  Got it?"  Sam giggled but nodded.  "Good."  She smiled at Dean.  "Are we eating out or in?"

"We can eat in.  Sam can get out of here for a few minutes."

"You mean you only need a *few* minutes?" she teased.

"Don't make me spank you," he said sarcastically, watching her sit in the lone chair in the room.  He kept repeating his new mantra 'it's only for one night' over and over in his head.  Because he knew he'd be tag-team cuddled again and drooled on by both of them.  Sam finally gave up on his nap and took the rest of the cash out to get some dinner from the diner the clerk had suggested.  "Whatever shall we do?" Dean quipped, sure someone was listening.

"I could use a knot worked out if you wouldn't mind," she said with a grin.  He arched an eyebrow up and she pointed at her back.  "Twisted wrong last night during that slaying."

"Sure."  She came over and let him sit on the bed, kneeling in front of him.  "Shoulders, bit further down?"

"Between my shoulderblades.  That huge, honkin' knot."  Dean nodded, finding it and getting to work.  Her moans would be enough to convince anyone who was listening of what they were doing.  "Oh, there," she agreed, closing her eyes and tipping her head forward.  She let out another moan and he grinned.

"You're a big cat today."

"Don't say that, I might change again."

"Don't you dare."  She giggled and he got back to it.  He was still working on her back when Sammy came back with bags.  "Hey."  His brother blushed.  "What?  She's got a knot to work out."

"Um, that's fine, but you can hear her outside."

"Good thing I'm not a screamer," she quipped.

"No, that they'd hear up the road," Sam said, still blushing.  He put the food down on the bed and laid down facing the  other direction.

"I don't know how you manage to get any women, Sammy.  You're a prude.  It's not like she's naked."

"I'd almost rather see her naked."

"Don't tempt me," she said in a sing-song voice.  "Tuesday up the road is open pole night.  I saw the sign on the way in."  Both boys groaned at that.  "Thank you, Dean."

"Welcome, Xander."  She hauled herself up and looked at the food, picking out what she wanted.  She got a spot on the floor so they could all see the tv and eat at the same time.  Dean picked out his part of the meal.  Sam got his and stole part of his back from Dean.  "Hey!"

"You're not starved.  I am.  I slept through lunch.  If I can't eat it, you can have it back."  He dug in before his brother's stomach jumped up to eat him too.  Sometimes Dean's stomach was like a third brother traveling with them.

Dean looked at Xander.  "Must you?"

"Can't hit Giles up for money until we get to Sunnydale."  She ate a bite of her spaghetti.   "He was right, this is pretty decent food."

"Much better than some of the places we've eaten at," Dean agreed.

"I've started writing down reviews of them to be passed on," Sam said.  "That way they can avoid the roadkill cafe truckstop we ate at a few months back."

"Don't tell me that while I'm eating," Xander ordered.

"Gladly," Dean agreed, taking another big bite.  "Quid pro quo on the backrub stuff?"

"I could do that."  Dean grinned.  "Sam?"

"I could use one for my shoulder.  It's aching again."  That got a nod and they settled in to work on each other's aches and pains for a while.  It was good for them.  Even if Sam refused to look anywhere near her chest.

She leaned closer to his ear.  "You were trying to suck on them the other night," she reminded him quietly.  "They haven't changed."  He was bright red now.  "Quit.  Now." Dean laughed.  "You'd think you were the virgin in the group," she teased.

"Nah, he had a good thing until she died,"  Dean assured her.  "Serious and all that."

Xander blinked.  "I had Anya."

"That's  not saying much," Dean countered.

"We were living together.  I was thinking seriously about ring shopping."  Sam gaped.  She smiled and nodded.  "I was. I knew which one I wanted and everything."

"Wow," Dean said.  "Further than I've gotten in the past but then again I like being easy."

"Aww, are you a slut?" Xander teased.

"Hell no."

"Gigolo?" she suggested.

"No, then we'd have road trip money."  Sam spluttered and choked.  He laughed.  "We would."

"Don't say things like that!"

"I made that joke in front of Dad once.  You should've seen his face.  Man, talk about screaming.  I thought he was going to try to do an exorcism on me.  Someone else took the shotgun from him."

"Not a happy camper?"

"No and then he went off on the tangent of 'someday I'll need more heirs, so don't catch anything'.  That speech lasted over an hour.  I was nearly asleep when he thumped me upside the head and made me promise not to hit on women when he was around."

Sam shook his head.  "He never even asked me if I liked girls."

"Dad knew, Sam.  You couldn't quit staring at them when you were younger."

"They were like alien creatures!" he complained.

"They still are," Xander agreed.  "Even I don't understand women."  Dean laughed.  "I don't!"

"I know you don't.  By the way, um, t-shirt?"  She looked then adjusted it so it was back down over her breasts.  "Thanks."  Sam blushed again.  "That's it.  If she does do that, you're going to watch, Sam."

"Why?  I don't want to know that much about her."

"You've seen them before when you rushed into the bathroom while I was showering.  I still wonder why that place had see-through shower curtains."

"I don't know but they seem to be standard in some places," Dean told her.  "We see a lot of them."

"I didn't want to know about your body fur either," Sam complained.  He looked at Xander.  "Are all women that hairy?  My ex used to shave."

"She did?" Dean asked.

"Yes, she did."

"Like Brazilian, or fully shave everything shave?" Dean asked.  Inquiring minds and all that.

"She was always smooth."

"Must've went through electrolysis," Xander told him.  "Yes, all women are just as hairy as you guys.  Some of us trim, some of us shave.  I only shave that stuff when I have to because it itches like hell when it grows back and it doesn't really get many admiring glances when you're scratching yourself there while you drive."

Dean snickered.  "Sorry, but sometimes you look like a chia pet, Xander."

"I did not need that mental image either!" Sam complained.

Xander snickered.  "It's not like you water it to make it grow.  It doesn't come in a fantasy creature planter either."

"No, not really.  It plants a few fantasies in most men...."

"Eww."  Sam got up and huffed into the bathroom.

"I have had a girl who said that spraying it for her would make it thicken."

Xander looked back at him.  "They say shaving does too.  Haven't seen any proof of that one."

Dean laughed.  "Are you going to?"

"I haven't in a while.  I might."  She grinned.  "Which means another session of nair."

"I'll let you do that while I'm off putting gas in the car or something so we don't get the fumes."

"I'm out.  Besides, I'll have to trim first."  She shrugged and got up.  "I can make a quick pharmacy run.  Are we out of anything else?  Sam, need anything from the pharmacy?"

"No," he called.  "Thank you anyway."

"You sure?  I mean, you sounded like me with my last bout of PMS.  I can pick up some midol."

"I'll kill you tonight while you sleep," he called back.

She laughed.  "You're more than welcome to try, Sammy."  She skipped out before he could come out and yell at her for calling him that.

Sam came out.  "She's doing it on purpose, right?"

"It's because you blush.  It's nice to have her in good spirits again."

"It is but I don't need picked on."

"Relax, Sammy.  It'll be fine."  He gave him a pat on the arm.  "You done with your food?"  He groaned and sat down to finish it before Dean could claim it and inhale it.


Xander smiled at the nice lady registering for the open pole night.  "Hi.  Passing through."

"I heard you were at the motel.  Playing with the new husband?"

"Yeah, and we're out of gas money." She laughed.  She shrugged.  "It happens."  She smiled at the boys.  "The younger one's our brother-in-law."

"Sure.  Let me get them a table in the back so you don't have to worry about your man hitting on someone."  She did that and registered Xander for her turn on the pole, letting her go change and put her music into the jukebox.  At least it'd be something different than the usual ten girls who showed up to do the contest.  She watched as the last of the usual girls got done and walked up there.  "Y'all's in for a treat tonight, boys.  We have a young couple passing through that's out of gas money.  Newly married.  She's teasing her man tonight."  That got some hoots and Xander's music came on.  Something like a rockin' country, and she strolled out to it, sashaying and wiggling.  The guys hooted and hollered, loving her for being something different.  She winked at the MC for the night.  "Now, remember, no full monty, dear.  We're not some sleazy club."

"Of course you're not."  She winked at one guy then put her hat in front of him, bending over so the other side could see her butt very well.  She strolled back and used the pole, having some fun with it while shaking her generously shaped ass.  She got down to bra and panties, all that the other girls did, but hers were actual stripper wear instead of bikinis.  The guys were in awe of her.  Tips were good tonight.  She blew a kiss at one big tipper, squatting down to kiss him on the forehead, then back up to finish her last number while he fanned himself.  She ended up against the pole, feet crossed, one finger in her mouth, winking at the MC when she came back.

"Well, that's something different, huh, guys?"  They all clapped and cheered.  Xander picked up her tips and clothes, going back to change out of them.  "All right, let's do the usual loudest one wins count."  Xander, being new and different, won easily.  The girls all pouted at her and Xander strolled off with a nice grand from the pot and tips.  Plus about six phone numbers.  The usual dancers got the stage back and the guys were happy enough with that.  That girl was going to drive her man insane but he had looked happy with her show.  The little brother hadn't looked, like a good brother should.

Back in the Impala, Xander counted out her money.  "Am I tipping you guys too?"

"Could," Dean said, holding out a hand.  She gave him a quarter of it, getting a smirk back.  "Uh-huh.  Share, Xander."

"If I have to, I will."  She stuffed the rest down her bra.  "Sam, you can quit blushing now.  It's not like I got further than the bikini top."

"You were nearly falling out of it."

"I've been meaning to take him to a few strip clubs, but we never seem to run into them when we have the money," Dean told her.  He backed out of his parking spot and looked at her.  "The CD?"

"Copied.  I've got the original in the blazer.  That way the girls can mooch the music.  They've had the same ten girls doing the same routines every single month for probably the last year.  It'll add some spice to their lives."  She stretched out.  "What about you, oh great pool shark?"

"No place locally to play but I will the next time we run into a place."

"That's cool."  She yawned. "I deserve chocolate for that."

"You do," Dean agreed.  "Not bad.  Not half as smutty as LA's one."

"You watched her?" Sam demanded.

"Well, yeah, couldn't do anything but watch.  It's a strip club, Sam.  Not like guys go there for the expensive booze and bad food."  Xander giggled.  "Do they?"

"No, they go to see tits and asses shaking and to hit on the dancers hoping that one'll be part of the half that does tricks."

"Did you?"

"Sam, virgin," Xander said dryly.

"There's other things," he said dryly.

"I still have a gag reflex too, dear."  Sam gave her a horrified look.  "I dabbled long ago on my first road trip.  I got stuck stripping there because the car exploded.  Got lit with one of the dancers and dabbled a bit.  I am a horrible blower.  I have too many teeth and I proved it that night.  He came in limping and complaining so the boss yelled at me and told me how to give a better one.  Suggested I practice.  That way I could get home faster."

"Did you?" Dean asked.  She kicked the back of his seat.  "Never mind.  I probably wouldn't either unless I was real desperate or it was the only way to save my ass."  He looked at the diner.  "Still open?"  Xander shrugged so they pulled in and got food to go back to the room with.  They saw the clerk watching and Xander waved with a grin, carrying her box up the stairs, making the boys follow since they were checking the car over.  The clerk came out and he grinned.  "She's been in a teasing mood.  It keeps her from picking on poor Sammy and making him blush like a virgin."

"I am not!" Sam complained.

Xander came out to the railing around the second floor.  "Boys, fighting is not allowed while we're in tiny, borrowed accommodations.  Quit, before I spank."  The clerk spluttered so gave him a look.  "You too."  She tossed down something.  "We didn't need the upgrade to a recorded room, but thank you anyway."  She strolled back inside, closing the door.

Dean looked at him.  "I promise we won't do anything  you'd find objectionable."  He took his dinner up there, letting Sam follow. The door was closed and locked behind him.  "Any others?"

"Just the one on top of the tv.  Fairly obvious."  She looked at him.  "I already checked everywhere but inside the bed."  That got a nod and they piled onto the bed to eat.  "Three days to Sunnydale at this rate."

"Anxious?" Sam asked.

"Torn.  I miss my town.  Almost.  Kind of.  I miss some of the people in my town, that's  more like it.  Then again, I'm still having anger issues. It's a good thing I can't get Willow magic to work for me."  She ate a bite.  Dean stole some of it so she swatted him.  "Mine."

"Sorry, looks good.  Only wanted a taste."

"Does that mean you're going to wake up sucking my neck this time?"

"If I do would it convince you not to drool on me?"

"Probably not."

"Yeah, me either.  Then again, Sir Sucking over there is even worse.  You're lucky you haven't woken up with him trying to breastfeed."

"If he tries he's going to be on the floor."

"Yeah, I'm about to do that too."  He looked at his brother.  "Keep your mouth to yourself tonight."  Sam pouted.  "Thank you.  My chest will appreciate it."  He went to take a shower, coming out to climb under the covers.  Xander and Sam both followed, keeping on at least a bit of clothes.  Dean was the last one asleep, watching those two snuggled up against each other.  It was cute.  They made a cute couple.  Not that he thought Xander wouldn't run rings around Sam.  She wasn't used to nice boys, or girls.  Sam was too nice for her.  She needed someone with a bit of an edge.  Someone with some understanding. Someone who would spank her because there was a hand sneaking over his thigh.  He swatted it.  Sam huffed in his sleep.

"Great.  Not what I wanted tonight," he complained to God again.  He was sure if his father could see this he was either ranting and screaming or laughing his ass off somewhere.  He shifted further down and got comfortable.  A butt wiggled back against his side.  He flipped onto his other side, facing away from them.  That lasted for all of three minutes.  Sam was behind him and sucking on his shoulder.  "You were broken of your oral phase," Dean complained.  He wiggled free.  Sam came back.  He got up and changed sides of the bed.  Xander only cuddled.  She hardly ever sucked in her sleep.  He was drifting off when he felt Sam shift so he was cuddling Xander's back again.  Then that hand came back.  He pinched it and she grunted this time.  He stroked her stomach, letting her fall back asleep.  She was definitely a tactile person.  He smiled, letting himself drift off.  She'd protect him.


Dean woke up warm and comfortable, which he liked.  He was also being molested by one of the two.  He looked down at his stomach.  Xander was sucking on his stomach.  Sam was laying nearly on top of his crotch and shifting against him.  "Sam, you're still my brother," he sighed.  He shifted away from him but that gave Xander more incentive.  It felt wonderful.  She was making his morning happiness even brighter.  He flipped onto his side, letting Sam the cannibal have his back again.  He even got the swat the helping hand.  Xander pouted because he had shifted, shifting up to cuddle him and blindly search for a kiss.  "You have some strange wet dreams, Xander," he said in her ear.  "Want to wake up?"  She  mewled and clung to his front.  It was getting very hard to resist that invitation.  Xander shifted again and let out a small purr of  pleasure when she ran into him.  He considered it but she was doing it to him.  He gently stroked over her cheek, waking her up a least partially.  "Where's your hand?" he asked quietly.  He felt her flex her fingers then blush.  "Didn't think you wanted to do that in your sleep, Xander."

"I....  Sorry, Dean."

"Shh.  It's not the first time.  Swat him for me."  She pinched Sam's helping hand.  "We've got to start getting separate motel rooms.  I'll take one, you two can grope each other and suck on each other all you want."  She let out a soft laugh, a warm, fuzzy sound that made his cock twitch.  "Xander, still holding onto me."

"Kinda unfair to wind you up, Dean.  I know I'd hate it if I was still a guy."

"I can handle that."  She flexed her fingers again and he hissed.  "Where I come from that's an offer."

"I know.  This is all I'm offering."

"I can accept that."  He let her do whatever she wanted.  She wasn't asleep.  It wasn't bothering her at the moment.  The handjob was much appreciated.  He needed to come very badly and she helped him all the way  over, leaning in to give him a gentle, soft, closed mouth kiss.  He moaned and deepened it, getting a blush from her.  "There.  Payment back."

She used her t-shirt to wipe her hand off.  "Didn't need it but thank you."  She got up and headed into the bathroom.

He listened, frowning at her frustrated noises.  "Xander?"  She flung open the door.  "C'mere.  It's different when it's on you."  She shook her head.  "You sure?  I can do the same thing."

"No, I'm fine.  Thanks."  She went back to cleaning up then came out.  "I hate ingrown hairs."  She pulled on a pair of jeans and a loose t-shirt, then pulled her hair back again.  It was now down to her shoulders and she didn't like it.  "There, ready for another day of driving."

Dean smiled. "Help me get him up too."

Xander leaned down, stroking over Sam's lower back, whispering in his ear until he woke up and groaned.  "That's a good boy, Sam.  Come on, let's get up so you can eat and then we'll be on the road again."

"Yes, Mom," he said in a sleepy voice, heading for the bathroom.

Dean smiled at her.  "He loves you."

"I can tell by the hickey on your back."  She blew a kiss and headed down with her bag to put it up.  She came back up.  "I need to do laundry."

"Us too," Dean admitted.  "Whatever place tonight?"  Xander nodded.  Dean got up and stretched then went to clean up once Sam was done.  He came out dressed too and they left for the day once he had checked the room for lost things.


Xander looked at the motel then at the guys.  "No way in hell," she called.  They glared at her.  "Permanent invite spells, guys, and this is a brothel.  I don't wanna be broken in that way."  Sam moaned.  "There's one by the mall.  There's two in Sunnydale itself."

"I thought you didn't want to stay in town."

"I'd rather feed the nighttime population but...."  She shrugged.  "Let me call someone.  Don't check in.  We'll never get out alive."  She found her phone and called someone.  Then she hung up and called another number, getting Joyce's cellphone.  "It's Xander."  She smiled.  "I know you heard.  I tried the house phone but Buffy answered.  I don't wanna talk to your daughter.  Thinking about places to stay, Joyce.  Anything recent come open suddenly?"  He grinned.  "Perfect.  Thank you.  Yeah, later tonight.  Very later tonight.  Like after Buffy's huffed off to screw Spike later tonight.  Sure, we'll let you know.  Love you too, Joyce.  I'll pop in on him.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "We're in luck.  A house just recently came open due to mysterious circumstances."   The boys both grinned at that.

"C'mon."  She hopped back into the blazer and drove off, taking them to the house they needed to be at.  It was a good house.  End of their street.  Defensible.  A few empty ones around them in case they needed to move suddenly.   She walked into the house with Dean and Sam behind her.  A few vampires had taken residence but nothing too major.  "We'll clean the rest of the neighborhood tonight," she said quietly.  She flipped on a switch with a grin.  "If anyone asks, we're relatives here to scavenge the house."  That got a nod and they went to grab their gear to bring it inside.  Xander went to do a turn around the rest of the neighborhood.  She ran into an older lady who used to teach her in elementary school.  "Don't worry, Mrs. Newworth.  I'm here to help the good guys.  There's going to be a big gang warfare thing coming up and we're here to help stop them."

"Do I know you, young lady?"

She smiled.  "You taught me in fifth grade, ma'am."

"Oh.  Yes, of course."  She smiled and patted her on the cheek.  "The two young men?"

"My brothers, adopted."  She nodded.  "So just ignore us and we'll try to keep the neighborhood safe while we're here."  She nodded, going back inside.  Xander went to clear the last house, which used to be his old one.  He looked at it.  "Huh, they died."  She killed the vampires in there, looking around.  Then she came out and used her keys to lock the door.  She walked off, heading back to their house.  "I need to scavenge the dirty brown one."

"Why?" Dean asked.

"I used to live there."  She smiled.  "You saw most of downtown.  The grocery store's past the pharmacy.  The coffee place is past the Magic Box.  The hellmouth was that pile of rubble.  Giles runs the Magic Box.  Buffy is a tiny blonde thing.  Willow is a redhead."  She pulled out the last pictures she carried to show them.  "That's Tara," she said with a smile.  The other was a group shot.  "That's Willow, Buffy, Giles, Oz, who doesn't live here anymore, he's in Tibet getting control of the wolf, and Riley.  Used to date Buffy.  Commando guy."  She put the picture back and looked at Dean.  "Need anything?  I'm going to scout the Magic Box."

"Go ahead.  We'll get groceries and meet back here."  She nodded, taking a few thing with her, tucking them into her waistband on the way out the door.  "Sam, staying?"

"It's not dark yet.  Go ahead."  Dean nodded and went to get supplies for them.  With the electricity still on they could actually cook.  Sam found the phone line and it was operational so he logged into his email and got to work checking for new cases or messages from their fellow hunters.  He smiled at one that simply said 'call me'.  He called.  "Hey, it's Sam."  He laughed.  "Actually, we're with a slayer named Xander."  He nodded.  "Basically.  No, we're in Sunnydale.  We'll be seeing you soon, Bobby.  I promise.  No, we're good.  Dean's getting groceries.  An apocalypse.  She has to help handle it and she's helping us right now.  Kind of helping each other really.  Exactly.  Sure, I'll tell him to call too.  Talk to you later."  He hung up and looked toward the door.  "I can hear you moving."

"I could hear you from up the street," the blonde girl said as she walked in.  "Are you alive?"

"I was this morning when Xander bit me."  She looked upset.  He stood up.  "Sam Winchester, Miss Summers.  We were drafted to help during the current situation."

She weakly shook his hand.  "Is Xander back?"

Sam looked at her.  "My brother and I both know what happened."

"You wouldn't understand," she said firmly.

"My brother made the same sort of deal to save me.  Yes, we do.  Better than you do."  She gaped.  "Xander said she's going to avoid you for the most part.  Her temper's still a bit bad about this whole thing she's got going since it can't be reversed."

"Willow said she could."

"Willow's a lying bitch," he said bluntly.  She glared.  He glared back.  "Not only can no one change him back, we've talked to people in each and every tradition.  The way she did it means that you'd need two components that haven't been seen on this plane in over three thousand years.  There's no way to help her.  Now, let's make a truce.  I don't care if you want to come talk to Xander.  That's between you two.  I will not have Willow upsetting Xander.  Dean wants to beat her ass.  I'm not far behind.  You... we'll wait and see about."

She stiffened.  "Fine.  Where is he?"

"She's off scouting a problem area."

"Oh."  She slumped.  "Are you guys commandos?"

"Hunters," Dean said from behind her.  "Buffy."


"His brother, Dean."  He smirked.  "We're sons of John Winchester."  She shuddered at that name.  "We're part of that circle, yes.  Your Powers sent Xander to us to help with mutual problems.  Problems, bro?"

"Bobby wants a call."

"I'll do it in a few."  He handed over the bags.  "Here."  He looked at her again.  They were about the same height with her heels.  "Xander doesn't want to be here.  She has to be here because it's the right thing to do.  If it had been one of us she had done that to, we'd have burned her.  We see her, Xander will have to hold us back.  Do you want to take that chance?"

"No,"  she said.  "Are you going to warn me off talking to Xander?"

"That's between you two and we'll be there in case we have to stop her.  After all, your buddy did make her a slayer too."  She shuddered again.  "Now, anything else you need to know?"

"No.  I saw his, um, her phone number on the caller ID and I came looking.  Tell her I'd like to talk to her?"

"I can pass on that message."  She nodded and left.  "Don't worry about patrolling here.  We can."

She smiled.  "The help is always appreciated.  There's too much for just one of us."  She walked off, going to the Magic Box.  She found Anya pouting.  "Saw Xander?"

"Yes but Giles told him it's not safe yet."

"It's not," she agreed.  "Do you think Xander would talk to me?"

"No," she said bluntly.  "You betrayed him.  She did it worse but you both hurt him and broke him.  You're going to be lucky if it doesn't go slayer-to-slayer."

She nodded.  "I figured I'd try to explain why I did it."

Anya shook her head.  "Don't bother.  Xander will see who she wants to see."

"Willow said it was reversible."

"If she's lucky it'll reverse when she dies," Giles said, coming out of his office.  "Leave Xander alone, Buffy.  We need him during this coming assault and he will leave if you bother him.  Or if he has to deal with Willow.  Am I clear?"  She nodded.  "Good.  I believe you have patrol in a few hours.  You should get dinner now."  She nodded, heading to do that.  "Xander will be back later to go over the plans.  There's been a small hitch in what we've already gotten according to a vision he had."  She nodded at that, going to gather things for that meeting.  Xander needed cookies, she looked very skinny to her.  Giles went back to his office, finding Xander already in there.  "Came back?"

"Avoiding people."  Xander sat up.  "You got the email?"

"I did but I can't find a way around that problem."

"I can.  We need more people.  We can send Riley a 'wish you were here, having a fun time being invaded on this date' hallmark."

Giles smiled.  "I do have a number to get hold of him."

"Then fax the thing to him."  Giles nodded, going to call it.  Xander went back over the plans, smiling at the cookies Anya brought him.  "Thanks, Ahn.  I missed cookies."

"It's clear you're not eating."

Xander looked at her.  "This has been screwing with my head now for months.  I actually got very drunk the night of my first period."  Anya sniffled.  "Wesley was sent to me after that."  Xander went back to her planning.  "Someone just came in."  She went to check, smiling when Giles closed the office door.  She called Angel.  "It's me.  We're going to need some of your people up here for the assault.  He is?  That'll help.  I don't know.  We're hoping Riley.  We've got a dimensional portal getting ready to open from an overcrowded world that's short on food to a world rich in food, us.  Thanks.  Yeah, I'm here hiding."  She hung up and went back to it.  Something was still bothering her.  She got up to look up something, frowning at the entry in the book.  That's why she was in the corner when the office door opened.  She glared at the person peeking in but didn't move.  Willow pulled her head back and shut the door again.  Ooh, she wished she could send a 'come save me' page to the boys.  They'd come beat Willow for her.  It'd be fun.  A group bonding exercise when they held her back.  Maybe he'd even set Anya and Sam up together.  They'd make an interesting pair.  Sam would never be shy again.  Of course, Dean would kill him if he did.

Giles walked in and looked around.  "You are still here."

"Yes and she spotted me.  Did Ethan and you talk?"

"We did."  He smiled.  "It'll be fine.  Riley said he can get up here next week and stay for the full event."  Xander nodded.  "Those two young men Buffy told me about?"

"The Winchester boys?  They'll be fine."

"Good.  Excellent perhaps.  How are you coming on their behalf?"

"I got some meteorite dust already.  Asked Angel about the soul.  We need your two."

"I've got them safely stored."  Xander grinned and relaxed.  "What about the blood of an impure slayer?"

"Well, I figure I can ask Faith or I can do it myself since I donated for the pure one.  We'll have to see how that goes.  I might not be able to stand it at the moment.  Since it has to be given in the next month, we'll see."  The door opened again and Dean strolled in.  "Sam went psychic?"

"Yup.  You good?"

"A bit pissed.  She smiled at me when she saw me reading."

"I still say we can do it the old fashioned way and burn her at the stake."

"Don't tempt me," Xander muttered.  Giles gave him a horrified look.  "Giles, ask him and he'll tell you I spend about one day a week drunk thanks to her.  I keep myself from doing it more often.  I'm having problems wrapping my mind around this."

"I had noticed the weight loss."

"We've had to nag," Dean assured him.  "About sleeping as well."  Giles moaned.  "Even if he didn't want to, I know a lot of other guys who'd be pissed on his behalf.  We already told your girl to keep her away from Xander."

Xander nodded.  "Then again there's a demon club here I can go blow off steam at."

"Only if you're going with backup," Dean said firmly.

"Think of the roadtrip money," Xander teased.

Dean shook his head.  "Only if we're with you,  you're armed, we're armed, and there's another one standing by in case of a riot."

"Fine.  Spoil my happy mood from thoughts of godiva and a bubble bath."

Dean snorted.  "You've got godiva in your truck and go ahead with the bubble bath. There's two bathrooms in the house we're using.  No bedroom furniture but two bathrooms."

"We can scavenge from the other places or I can head to my old place."  Xander patted Giles on the arm.  "He said they weren't vamped."

"Pity."  Dean nodded.  "Dinner?"

"Let me finish looking up one more thing.  Giles, we might have an advantage."

"What's that?"

"On their side it's All Saints.  It's why the border's so thin."  He looked at him.  "Apparently they don't know the rule that demons don't do anything on Halloween either.  Oh, thank you for finally showing that rule to Ethan.  I felt him working where I was and nearly freaked."

Giles smirked.  "I'm sure you're smart enough not to buy a costume off him this time."

"I only got a gun from him last time, the pair of BDU's came from the thrift shop."  He shrugged.  "Anyway, a different thing this time.  He was calling back dead relatives to haunt people and freak them out so he could gather the energy.  I'm thinking if we can tap into their side, we can do the same."

Giles considered it, taking a look at the information they had, then the book Xander had.  He got down another one.  "I'll look into that tonight.  Be safe on the walk home, Xander."

"Will.  You too."  He walked out with Dean, stopping to look at Tara, who sniffled.  "I love you."  She bawled so he hugged her.  "Come on, Tara.  We'll go have dinner.  You can steal food from Dean since he eats like he's pregnant."  She laughed through the tears but came with them.  "Think I could set Sam and Anya up?  It'd do them both good to have a steady thing again. Even if he would be gone half the time. She could even help with the research stuff."

"If you even *think* about it I will kick your ass," Dean assured him.  "Sam needs a nice girl."

"An...Anya's very ni...nice," Tara stuttered.

"Just blunt and horny," Xander agreed.  He grinned at his buddy.  "She's a lot better than she was.  Before, around prom, it was all 'let me tell you how I tortured men for centuries' and then a few minutes later it's all 'oooh, look a bench and even though there's children we're going to have sex right now right there'.  She's learned to ask, beg, and cajole her way into sex and presents instead of demanding them.  Besides, she could use someone nice who'd let her learn new things."

"Sam might quit huffing and then I'd never know when he was pissed."  Dean opened the door for them.  "Here we go, Tara."  Sam looked over and smiled.  "Sam, be nice.  This is Tara."  He closed the door in the face of whoever had been following them.  Xander looked outside then shook her head, walking Tara in to where the table was. "Food, Sammy?"

"It's on the stove, dish it up."  He went back to searching.  "Xander, I have almost nothing on this upcoming event."

"Basically it's Halloween on their side.  Their world is short of food sources, namely humanoids, including vampires.  They eat flesh and blood.  They're going to use the thinness of the barrier to push their way over here, where we're a virtual farm."  They both nodded.  "We're expecting a force of between ten and ten thousand demons from that dimension.  We have something to take out the portal and then it's wiping out the new threat."

"W...we can c...cast to close i..it," Tara stuttered, looking down.

"Do we need to take you under our wing too?" Dean demanded.

"Ease off, Dean.  She's shy and nice," Xander said calmly.  "Though, the answer is no, Buffy ran them off."  She gave her buddy a hug.  "Don't be shy around them.  I make Sam blush all the time.  Dean too."  Tara gave her a shy grin.  "Don't worry about them.  If something big and major happens I want Dean to guard you.  Okay?"  She nodded at that.  "Good."  She kissed her on the head.  "Food?"  Dean finished dishing up plates of food, hauling Sam into the kitchen to eat too.

"Th..thank you," Tara said.

"Not a problem.  We spend a lot of time on the road," Sam said happily.  "It's nice to eat someplace we don't have to tip."  She giggled, covering her mouth.

"Are we going on patrol tonight?" Dean asked.

Xander shrugged, looking at Tara.  "Should we?"

"It's been a mess," she said very quietly.

"Then we'll take this end of town and she can have the other.  We'll hit the Bronze so we can blow off some excess energy," Xander told her.  She nodded, texting that to Buffy, who sent back a smiley face.  "Good.  I have plenty of stakes."

Both boys smiled at her.  She was slightly insane about hunting.  Just like them.


Sam smiled at the other woman joining their team.  "Hi, I'm Sam, he's Dean."

"Hi.  Anya."  She shook his hand.  "Xander."  She waved but was watching a grave.  She huffed and shook her head.  "He used to show that focus on me but Willow just had to screw up my orgasms."  Tara pinched her.  "Hey!"

"Th...there's m..ore to life than se...sex."

"There's food," Dean quipped.  She pinched him too, making him laugh.  "Relax, Tara.  We're not the mean ones."  He looked at Anya.  "You may not hit on Sammy."

"Poo."  She pouted at Sam.  "Is your master at least keeping you a happy slaveboy?"

Sam burst out laughing.  "He's my big brother, Anya.  I'm not his slave."

"Pity but that means he can't tell you who to date."

"I can still banish you," Dean said firmly.  She pouted at him.  "Won't work on me.  He does it better."

She kissed Sam then smiled.  "You taste good."

Xander looked over.  "Anya, slaying now, teasing later when we go to the Bronze.  Please?"

"Fine."  She hung out with Tara and Sam.  Dean was almost scary in his intensity and focus.  It matched Xander's new focus very well.  The fledge finally popped out and Xander staked him, moving on.  They got a few more in their chosen cemeteries and she had to show Xander the new one going up.  She groaned but that was a slayer's duty.  Six more vampires there and then they could hit the Bronze.  Dean went to hustle pool.  Sam and Anya sat down to talk about demonology.  Xander went to sex bait and dance on the floor and Tara hung out with Anya and Sam so she could keep Anya from dragging him off for sex.

An hour later Dean won his last match and gathered the money, looking around for Xander.  She was moving on the floor and it was very hot.  He turned over his pool cue since no one else wanted to play with him and there was a group of giggling teenagers who wanted to tease each other with stick and ball jokes.  He got a drink and headed out to help Xander tease.  The vampires liked him, he smelled impure at the moment.  Xander got nudged and handed the drink after he took a sip, getting a smile and a wink for it.  She sipped through the straw, making the vampire with her groan and shift closer.  Dean found his own dance partner and she was definitely dead.  She was clammy.  The a/c in the club wasn't *that* good.  He let her drag him off, dusting her once they had been gone for a few minutes.  He came back and found Xander surrounded now.  She was teasing heavily.  He considered stepping in but she had it.  Another female latched onto him.  He smiled.  "I'm college age and you're jailbait," he teased.

"But I'm fun," she teased back.

He let her dance with him and it was nice.  She was even nice enough to make him follow her so she could tease him  more.  She walked off looking pleased.  He came out to get a beer, finding Xander looking blissed out between the vamps.  He would not get jealous of that.  He and his beer went onto the floor again after a glance at Sam.  He was still talking with the strange demon.  Xander had let two of the guys walk her off.  The others subtly followed.  Dean followed them.  He didn't have to worry, Xander was now a thing of beauty when she fought.  Only one looked surprised and he went last.  He let her have some of his beer to drink.  "Good job.

"Thank you."  She handed back the bottle after a long drink.  "It's been a while since we took a fun night."

"It has."  They went back inside and found Buffy.  He pulled Xander back onto the floor to dance with her.  She needed some fun.  Buffy could handle the other billion vampires in the club.  It was good between them.  Xander was moving sweetly again.  He was nearly growling at the ones who wanted her.  Xander winked and turned to dance with someone else, letting him have her back.  The vampire there groaned at her scent, stupid enough to go to game face on the floor.  Xander got him with a slim stake and then shrugged, turning back around to go back to him.  He grinned  "Naughty," he said over the music.

"Yeah.  And?" she said with a grin.  "The succubus good?"  Dean moaned so he laughed. "She used to hit on me all the time."  She took the beer back to get a drink, then handed it back.  "Pool?"

"Sure, I could use a cheering section."  They headed back to the pool tables.  "What else do you do for fun around here?"

"Spike plays kitten poker with some of the more harmless demons."

"Kitten poker?"  Dean shook his head quickly.  "Like they're the chips?"

"Yeah.  Squicked me badly but he won nearly a whole harem of cats and a lot of cigarettes the last time I knew."

Dean finished his beer.  "That's just wrong."

"I know, but this is Spike we're talking about."  She patted him on the back.  "So, anyone likely?"  She leaned closer to his ear, nodding at one guy.  "He's from the rich boy society.  Frat brother at the exclusive college.  Drives a Mercedes that always needs tuned up.  About to graduate to medical school.  Daddy's a senator."  Dean smirked at her.  She grinned back.  She nodded at another one.  "That whole back table is the frat house.  They used to have a dark deal with a snake demon for power and wealth."

"Not now?"

"Buffy and Cordy snuck off to the frat party, nearly got eaten.  We had to break in to save her.  Giles was not amused the next morning when he nearly paddled her for telling him she had to study."

Dean snorted.  "Teenage girls," he muttered.  He handed her a pool cue.  "Time you learned."

"I could almost play before."

"Uh-huh."  He racked the balls and showed her how to shoot better.  She was pitiful and using too much force.  A few helpful shots with him guiding her hands and it was a bit better.  "We'll turn you into a shark yet," he teased.

She smirked at him.  "I don't like biting people that much, Dean."

He laughed.  "Bet me!"

"I only bit you that once.  It was your fault, you moved."

"Do I want to ask?" Buffy asked as she walked over.

"Roadtripping, Buffy.  Sometimes we end up sharing the same room," Dean told her.  He watched her take a shot and nodded.  "Not bad.  Wrong english on the ball, Xan."  He took his own shot since she hadn't made hers.  She pouted.  He grinned.  "We're playing for backrubs, right?"

"All you have to do is ask."

"Sure."  He cleared the table and smirked at her.  "How're we doing beds tonight?"


"For some reason the vamps have been removing the beds from the empty houses," Buffy told them, moving closer.  "We know where they are so we can get you some if you need it."

Dean nodded.  "Could.  I'm really tired of sleeping next to Sam and Xander.  Sam sucks in his sleep and Xander cuddles and snores."

"Better that than the night you woke up being petted and called a good dog by both of us," Xander said happily.  She reracked the balls and one of the frat brothers came over.  She sighed at the renewed cramps.  Great, rich vampire frat brothers.  "Hi, boys.  Want to play Dean instead?  He's trying to teach me how to play better.  Apparently I'm not holding the stick right, too hard of a grip as it slides up and down my fingers."  She smiled at him.  He swallowed and moaned a bit.  "You can.  I'll get us another beer, Dean?"

"Sure.  Thanks."  She went to do that, coming back with one for them.  He looked at Buffy.  "Watching too?"

"Yeah, I can do that.  Anya's being freaky with your brother.  They're talking mystical whores through history."  Dean sighed and shook his head.  "It's one of Anya's two topics."

"She's actually got a good hand at the investing stuff," Xander offered.  "She learned when she started to make money and figured out it could make baby money."

"That can be helpful.  Not like I've thought about retirement funds."

"Me either," Xander sighed.  Buffy gave her an odd look.  "I haven't."

"Me either.  Life insurance was easier."

"I have one of those," Xander agreed.  Dean nodded he did too.  "Remind me to go to that office tomorrow to check on it?"

"Sure," Dean said, letting the other guy have first break.  He'd lose that round but kill him on the next seven.  By then the other frat brothers came over to help as well.  He could tell both slayers were uneasy so he smiled at Buffy.  "Go take Sam away from Anya please?"  She nodded, going to do that.  She'd tell him what was going on.   He lost another game but he was winning all the other ones.  They'd have a lot of road trip money soon.  He grinned at the last one, who was shaking his head.  "Sorry, guys.  Guess the force was with me.  Must be the girlfriend's incentive plan."

Xander smirked at him.  "Sucking up won't get you anything more than we talked about."  Dean laughed and so did the other guys.  She took the beer to finish it, using her tongue to get the last few drops off the rim.  "Dean, can we get some air?" she asked coyly.  "Seeing you win ...."

"Sure, Alex."  He led her outside, looking like they were going to make out or have a quickie.  The vampire frat brothers followed trying to be subtle.  They turned and attacked, getting them.  Xander handed over the wallets she had lifted during the fight, making him hum in appreciation.  Sam and Buffy came out.  "It's kosher."

"Good," Sam said, smiling at them. "Road trip funds?"

"Yup," Xander said happily.  She winked at him.  "Now, are we going to go steal beds back from the vampires?"

"Does your old house have any?" Dean asked.

"There's probably bugs, Dean.  My former parents weren't exactly clean people."

"Sure, we can go steal beds.  Need the blazer?"

"Nah," Buffy said with a smile.  "They've got a delivery truck."  She looked at the piles of dust then at Xander.  "You trained really well."

"Wes started it and Dean finished it with Sam's help."  She smiled at the boys.  "C'mon.  Let's walk Tara back to the school.  Anya will need to find a honey for the night soon."  Sam went to get her and say good night.

"I still don't want Sammy dating your ex," Dean told her.  Anya came out.  "You still can't date him."

"I don't want to date him.  He'd be gone all the time when I needed pampering and spoiling.  That doesn't mean he can't have fun, does it?  Or are you your father, Dean?"

He smirked at her.  "He did tell me to watch out for Sam."

"Guys," Xander said.  "Unless you both go sleep with her?"  She walked Tara off, taking her back to the college.  Buffy could help Dean move beds.  She smiled at her buddy.  "How's it going?" she asked quietly.

"Not bad.  I'm adjusting well.  Buffy helped a lot with that."

"Good."  She gave her a short squeeze around the shoulders.  "If I win, I'm going to be leaving again.  You're more than welcome to come find the rest of the US.  We'd stop in all the time."

She smiled but shook her head.  "She needs me to help her get better, Xander."

She sighed. "If you're sure.  If you need me, you call and I'll be back here."

"I know you will.  You're a good friend."  She kissed her on the cheek, getting a smile back.  "I'm in Stewart this year."  She nodded, walking her that way.  It was mostly quiet.  A few demons who felt Xander and went running.  A few who came out of hiding, saw them and ran.  Xander grinned at her.  "I know, they're worried about Buffy."

"Yeah, I think she's going to be going downhill again too."  They walked up to the front door of the dorm, letting her go inside.  "Be safe and sleep well, Tara."

"You too, Xander."  She headed up to her room.

Xander headed back toward her old neighborhood, a bit more content this time.  About halfway there she was jumped by the rest of the frat that hadn't been at the bar.  "Evening," she said quietly,  looking at them.  "Pretty night, huh?"

"You were with some of our brothers and they disappeared," one said.

Xander nodded.  "I was.  We were playing pool.  They disappeared when we went outside."  Two of them attacked her and she staked them.  That small cantrip she had for relieving them of wallet, keys, money, and anything else on them was helpful.  It  had been a nice going away present from Ethan.  The others attacked once she got the first one gone.  There were seven of them but she wasn't that worried.  She did trip at one point in time but she rolled back to her feet and got back into it.  The last one died before she got there, leaving her looking at a thin brunette woman.  "They let you have hiphugger jeans back?"

Faith nodded.  "It was what I was wearing when I got caught."  She smiled and helped her pick up the haul.  "Cute."

"Road trip funds."  They walked off and she handed over the majority of the keys.  Dean would want two.  One was another Impala.  The other was a corvette and he knew someone who was looking for one.  "It's expensive and if we don't have the funds, we've got to share a room.  Sam sucks in his sleep."  She laughed.  "So, what's up?"

"Got out early thanks to G."

"He's probably back at the Magic Box."

"We can head."

"Sure."  They went that way.  "Tara's in Stewart Hall."

"I'll watch out for her when you're gone, boytoy," she said.  "She needs it if she's staying with Red."

"She said Willow needs her to help her heal.  I wanted her to move somewhere safer."

"I'll be here.  This is where the parole board sent me at his urging.  I'm officially in his custody."  Xander snickered at that.  "I know, no fun and games.  No drinking by the rules.  I'm supposed to have a curfew."  She shrugged.  "Only for two years though."

"You'll survive.  You're strong, Faith.  You'll outlast Buffy's record."  She grinned at that.  She opened the door to the Magic Box, letting Faith walk in first.  "We're back."

Willow stared then backed up.  "Faith," she said nervously.

"You I'm not talking to or dealing with.  I heard.  Shoo.  Before I forget I'm reformed and stake the evil."  She fled.  She smiled at Giles.  "Thanks."

"You're welcome, Faith, but we will be talking tonight so we can come to an understanding."

"I've had time to think and calm down, Giles.  Plus talked to a lot of others who had it just as bad or worse than me."  He smiled and relaxed.  She looked at Xander.  "He know?"


"Know what?" Giles asked.

"She's boosting wallets off the vamps," Faith told him.

"Xander, I do give you funds," he said, sounding exasperated.

"Giles, I'm on the road most of the time.  That means motels or sleeping in the blazer.  Food, gas, and lodging money."  Giles groaned.  "Motels are fifty a night usually, and that's the basest, roach infested places.  Twenty every two days for food.  You only give me four hundred a month.  Gotta make up gas money somehow.  Hell, even with that I still have to strip sometimes.  That's why Dean plays pool."  Giles sighed, shaking his head.  "We're handling it, Giles.  Don't worry about it.  Oh, that snake god frat?  They were back and vamps.  Pity."  She strolled out.  "Heading back."

"Have a good night, Xander.  We'll go over things tomorrow," he called after her.

"At least she's been eating," Faith told him.

"She's still a bit thin."

"She came up to the prison to make amends, Giles.  She was thinner.  Whoever those boys are, they mother pretty well."   She leaned on the counter.  "So, now what?"

"Now, there's a room above the shop you can stay in, Faith."  She held up the keys.  "Get rid of those.  I'll not have you going back for stolen goods."  She nodded, going to call a former contact to do that.  He rolled his eyes.  "Those boys are teaching Xander bad habits," he muttered.

"Probably useful ones though.  She looked wicked bad fighting the seven vamps, Giles."  She listened to her contact splutter.  "Yeah, Buffy, dude.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "Gotta go give them keys and locations.  Can I, dad?" she asked with a grin.

"As long as you come back by eleven, Faith."  She nodded, going to do that.  He sighed, shaking his head.  She had calmed down a little bit, but not that much.


Xander strolled into the borrowed house, seeing the grim looks.  "Bad beds with bugs?"

"Only three that didn't.  We could only move one of them.  But we did dust about ten more vamps."

"Coolness.  The rest of the frat came for me."  She put things down onto the table, getting happy smiles from the boys.  She put down the two sets of keys.  "One's an Impala.  One's a 'vette."

"Ooh.  I know someone who'd pay major bucks," Dean said, sitting down to call them.  They'd arrange transport and put the other Impala somewhere they could use it for parts for his.  Once he was done he pulled out his haul, making Sam smile.  "Plenty for when we have to leave again."

Xander grinned.  "I had to justify it to Giles but he knows how expensive it is now."  She sat down.  "So, am I hiking to the old homeplace for a bed?"

"Up to you," Sam said.

"It's too dangerous," Dean told her.  "We can go get one."

"Bugs, Dean."

"Which means you'd have to deal with them there too.  We can scout it.  It's only ten."

Xander shrugged. "I'm not sure the electric's on."  Someone pounded on the door so she got up, going to smile at the officer. "Hi."

"The last I knew the owners of this place were dead," he said bluntly.

Xander stared at him.  "Giles needs us closer to help Buffy."

He groaned.  "An explosion?"

"Invasion.  Down next to the Mocha Pump.  We've got a few weeks."

He nodded.  "Fine.  Make it more subtle, please?"

Xander grinned.  "The pool playing or the hunting?"

"One of us saw you picking up your haul with that Faith broad, ma'am."

"Xander," she said.  His eyes went wide.  She grinned and wiggled her finger.  "Willow.  That's why I'm staying on *this* block."

"Fine.  Um, your parents disappeared but they didn't die that we know of."  Xander shrugged.  "We have a death certificate if they had insurance, um, Miss Harris."

"I'll check when I go change the beneficiary on mine tomorrow."  That got a nod.  "Just ignore us.  There's more of us coming.  Remember the commandos?"  He shuddered again.  "Some of them are coming back to help. I don't know if they'll be at Lowell house or not.  They could do the same thing."

"That's fine.  Anything you need?"

"Beds," Dean called.

The officer looked back at him.  "With what you two got tonight to fund the cause, go buy one, son."  Sam laughed.  He looked at Xander again.  "You all right with her?"

"No, which is why I'm staying around this end of town."  He smirked at that.  "Anything happens, you tell Giles or us.  Please."

"Agreed."  He shifted a bit.  "Um, there's a problem at the one that's not Willie's Cantina, Miss Harris.  Do you think I should tell Buffy?"

"Define problem."

"Sixteen orange and green bikers causing chaos."

"Huh, Ethan's nearby.  No, we'll handle it for her."  That got a smirk.  "Well, I did train for it."

"Good point.  Thank you.  Sometime tonight or tomorrow?"

"Sure, Tomorrow would be easier.  They're nocturnal."  He nodded and hurried off.  "Gossip level only please," she called.

"Of course."  He waved before diving into his car and hurrying off.

Xander looked outside.  "I can feel you," she called.  A smoking blond man came out of the shadows.  "Spike.  Faith's back.  It's like right before the ascension all over again."

"Saw."  He looked at her.  "More nummy now than before."  He smirked.  "Smell good too."

"Yeah, it's time to change the birth control patch.  We're holding a meeting tomorrow.  FYI, Riley's coming in to help.  We're coordinating through Giles so the various factions don't kill each other."

"Can do that," he agreed smoothly.  "Use your place?"

"Go sleep with Anya."  He chuckled.  "She's single and needy.  Complained she's only getting three a night."

"She is a fun quim.  Thanks.  See  you tomorrow."

"Sure.  Have a good night, Spike.  Or go handle the demonic bikers."  He cackled as he headed off to do that.  He could use a bit of mayhem before checking in.  She shut the door, leaning against it.  "The gang's mostly back," she quipped.

"You good?" Dean asked, staring at her.

Xander shrugged.  "I'll live for the moment. Let me change the patch before I forget."  She went to do that in the bathroom, coming back to find Faith was in.  "Hey."

"Hey.  You didn't tell me they were adorkable."

Xander laughed.  "Sam is."

"Hey!" Dean complained. "Not that I feel like a dork but I am adorable."

"Awww," Faith said, pinching him on the cheek.  "You know, it's been a while for me."

"Go sleep with Anya and Spike," Xander told her.  Faith cackled.  "She cheated on me with him.  Buffy slept with him.  Even in her mother's home.  Must've been good somehow."

Faith fell out of her chair still giggling.  "Oh, that's so bad!"

"Anya cheated on you and you didn't dump her?"

"We were having issues.  Besides, she's more needy than I could handle sometimes."  She shrugged.  "It happens.  I did tell her the next time I caught it she was on the street, penniless, and without clothes."  She sat down.  "Why the visit, Faith?"

"Your cut," she said, handing over a quarter of what she had gotten.  "Thanks, needed money for new leather pants."

"Hey, Buffy shops, not me," she defended.  "Wes had to drag my ass.  The only thing I've bought since then are panties and some stripper clothes."  Faith started to drool.  "Not sharing, Faith.  Night."

"Night, boytoy."  She sniffed.  "Still pure?"

"Have to be for another few weeks.  Then we can fix that with a human fighter and collect the blood for a rite the boys need to do."

"We can do mine.  I've bled plenty."

"By the rite and the collection specifications you would've had to been a virgin when you were called and been broken in by a human fighter since then," Sam told her.

"Pity.  Wasn't one when I was called.  Human's debatable and he did fight himself."  She shrugged.  "It happens.  So, X, got a choice?"

"Considering. It's still messing with my mind."

"We'll help if we can."  She grinned.  "Think B would unbend enough to go shopping?"

"Maybe.  She and Willow have had to hang."

"Good point."  She waved.  "Gotta get back.  Tweedy set me an eleven curfew and the parole board agreed."  She left them alone, closing the door behind herself.

Xander looked at them.  "She showed up during our senior year, after Kendra was killed by Spike's Dru.  If she shows up, I'm running.  That'd be too many of us in town," he said when Dean laughed.  "Plus she wants me to be her kitten."

"You purr in your sleep," Sam said.

"You're still trying to nurse, Sam.  No contest against my purring."  He blushed and ducked his head.  "So, did you like Anya?  I think you two would be a cute couple."

"She's very smart, kind of funny, and sexy, but I don't think I could keep up with her.  I like soft, gentle things and she was talking about sex like it was food."

"Yeah, she missed it during her demon years."

"No way are they dating," Dean said.

"Yes, dear."  She picked up her stash and put it away, heading to the bathroom again.  "I'm for a hot shower.  Night, boys."

"Night, Xander," they called out in unison, Sam waving.

Sam looked at Dean.  "Sleeping how?"

"We should set a watch.  You want first or second?"

"You take first, I'll take last, let her have the middle one."  That got a nod and he went to check the house over for entry points while Sam went to bed for now.  Xander came in wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  "We're doing a watch.  You have second."

"That's fine."  She snuggled down into the bed.  It was only a queen, it'd be better if all three of them weren't in it at once.  "Should be fine an hour after dawn.  Not too many daywalking demons around here.  No nearby sewer entry points either."  That got a nod from the man beside her. "Night."

"Night."  He smiled, watching her sleep.  He fell asleep long before Dean came in to wake her.  She took her turn and he only grumbled that Dean had taken his pillow.  Dean climbed in once he was down to boxers.  He was content until Xander woke him up.  When his shift was done an hour after the sun rose he went back to bed because he was still tired.  Curling up against Xander's back was comfortable after so many nights sharing a motel room.  She didn't mind if he cuddled.

Dean woke up warm and held, looking at the ones around him.  Somehow he had ended up in the middle again.  "They must like my chest.  I should consider it a compliment," he muttered.  He tried to move but Xander's hand dug into his side so he quit.  "Have to use the pot," he told her.  She hummed and licked his side.  "Xander."  She shifted closer, rubbing against his thigh.  "One of those mornings huh?"  He shifted, making Sam curl up against his back.  She made happy noises.  Sam's hand wrapped itself around his waist and it was nice.  She was petting his stomach.  He was ready to pounce but this was still Xander.  He tightened his stomach, earning a coo and her hand  moving south again.  He smiled when she started to play with him.  She was good, even in her sleep.  He kissed her awake, getting a sleepy smile.  "Morning.  Having a good dream?"  Her hand flexed and he moaned.  "Xander."


Dean smirked.  "I'm sure you are.  That's why it keeps happening."

"Thought it was mine back."

"I don't mind, Xander, but I want you to be sure of what you're doing."  She let him kiss her again.  "See, I don't mind.  It's going to stay at the level of playing."  She nodded, kissing him again, letting her hand play with him.  It was good enough for now.  She moaned while her hand worked.  His fingers teased her stomach and side.  She wasn't stiffening  yet so his fingers moved south to stroke her mound.  She stiffened.  "Shh, let me," he said in her ear.  "Payback and all that."

"Not needed."

"Bull.  Even women get frustrated."  His fingers moved a bit to tease her, mapping out the right places in his head as he felt around.  One finger stroked her entrance and she moved.  "Sorry."

"I still can't deal with that, Dean."

"I know.  Sorry."  He kissed her.  "So, make any other choices?" he asked casually.

She sighed.  "It kinda seems reasonable, huh?"

"Yeah."  He smiled.  "I'll gladly pop that for you.   Not an issue.  No strings, no dating, nothing."

She nodded.  "I'm not looking for a boyfriend."

"Good."  He grinned.  "Now, I'm hungry and need to use the bathroom."  She gave him a harder than average squeeze, making him whimper.  A few good pulls and he came in her hand.  "Oh, that was nice.  Need some?"

"No, I'm still dealing with the issue of having *that* down there."

He kissed her again.  "It's not that different.  We'll deal with it.  Or talk to Faith."

"I think I'm going to."  She smiled, getting out of bed and going to one bathroom to clean up.  Dean got the other one.  She left once she was dressed, heading to the Magic Box and the training area.  She knew Buffy wasn't up yet.  Faith was sipping coffee.  "I need to practice."

"You probably should.  It's not the same as sparring with the boys or Wes," she agreed.  She looked at her.  "Other issues?"

"Having to do the deed later on this month.  I'm still freaking out when I look down."  She sat next to her, frowning at the cup of coffee Faith put in front of her.  "Sugar?"  It was handed over by Giles.  "Thanks.  How do I get past that?"

"A mirror and a bath tub," Faith suggested.

"Faith, I couldn't pee sitting down for over a week," Xander told her.  "I only went when I had to take a dump." She sighed.  "I made myself start doing that.  I still can't look.  Much less letting someone touch?  No.  Not yet."

Faith gave her a hug.  "It'll be fine, Xander.  You and the cute one'll be fine."

"Dean, Faith, not Sam."

"Really?  Sam's cute."

"He's gentle.  He had something serious and she died due to a demon."

"Oh.  Damn."  She shrugged.  "Okay.  So let him try."

"I did.  He got near there and I had to stop myself from panicking."  She took a sip. "I can't even talk about it in clinical terms."

Faith looked at her.  "I'm not the one to ask, Xander.  I had a lot of fun my first time; I was pretty drunk, and it happened."

"I don't want to associate it  with drinking."

Giles coughed.  "Xander, I believe you chose him because he could get a bit pushy when you panicked."  Xander nodded.  "Plus you're very good friends.  I'm sure he understands this and he knows when to push.  Should I perhaps have a talk with him?"

"No, we've already talked about this."  She sipped her coffee, getting more from Faith.  "I'll deal with it.  Thanks for trying, guys."

"Take him to a motel for the night," Faith told him.  "You guys have been spending more nights in one than not."  Xander nodded that was true.  "Let the sweet one guard himself."  She grinned.  "I wouldn't mind stepping in."

"You'd have to ask Dean.  He's fierce about his brother's protection."

"Family's supposed to protect each other," she reminded her more gently, smiling a bit. "You've made a good one with them."  She patted him on the back. "Finish up.  I haven't sparred since I went away."  Xander finished up her coffee, putting the cup into the dishwasher so they could go spar.  "Want staffs, Giles, or something else?"

"Start with staffs for now, girls."  Xander found them and tossed her one, frowning at hers.  "Xander, that one has a crack."  She got another one and came back, letting Faith start out.  Xander was still in 'protector' mode instead of hunting mode.  He watched them critically.  "Faith, your back arches too much when you lunge.  You telegraph."  She straightened her back.  Xander suddenly made herself push past the slayer skill barrier and it was truly on between them.  He felt someone come in and looked at her.  "Anya."

"We've lost her, haven't we?" she said quietly.

Giles watched, nodding a bit.  "I think they're better for her anyway.  They're much more supportive than we could've been during this.  She considers them like family.  Xander, don't trip," he called.  She stumbled but didn't trip over the shoe Faith had lost.  The shoe got kicked and Faith got her other one off with a swing toward the other wall.  Then they went back to it.  He smiled.  This was what slayers fighting was supposed to look like.  It was awe inspiring and a bit scary.  Faith was starting to slip.  So was Xander.  They were well matched.  Nearly a 'before and after' picture.  Xander suddenly ducked and came up with a different weapon, a dagger, getting Faith pinned down and it pressed against her stomach.  "No blood, Xander."   He turned and found Dean standing there.  "Good morning.  There's coffee if you want some."

"Thanks."  He walked in and hauled Xander up, looking at her.  "Cheater," he teased with a grin.

"Well, yeah, it works."  Faith snickered, nodding as she got up.  "Did I hurt you?"

"Nah.  I'm good.  Go ahead and practice with him.  I wanna see how good he is."

"I usually use a gun, Faith."

"You can't brawl?" she teased.  He snorted, nodding.  "Then do it.  She needs more practice."  She handed Dean her staff.  He tossed it away with a dirty look.  Xander got a short sword but Dean shook his head and they went hand-to-hand instead.  He was getting good at gauging her moves.  Giles was gaping in horror.  Faith smirked.  "They do the same job, G.  Of course they're good to get this far."  Xander ducked a blow and knocked him down.  Dean laughed and got back up, going after her again.  This time he pinned her against a wall, looking at her.  She went limp and he shifted closer.  So she got him on the knee with her foot, shoving him back and going after him again.  He got her into a choke hold and she broke it, tossing him onto his back on the floor.  He got back up with a groan and went after her again.  She giggled and pounced, driving him back to the floor to hold him down and sit on top of him.

"If you wanted to be on top all you had to do was ask," he quipped.

"Maybe sometime soon," she said.  She smirked. "Yield?"

"Hell no."  He surged and rolled them over, trapping her beneath him.  "I feel better now.  More used to this position," he said with an evil smirk.  He felt her foot connect with his thigh.  "Won't help you, princess."  She wiggled and got him again, this time making him hiss.  "You'll pay for that later."

"Why?  Gonna sic Sammy on me to suck on my back too?"  She got free but he pulled her back down and pinned her again. "What?"

"Talking?" he suggested.

"I did talk to Faith."

"Good."  He got up and pulled her up.  "You good?"

"I'm fine.  Remember, stronger, better healing, better hair?"

"Yeah," he snorted, running a hand through his.  "Better than Sammy's maybe."  She swatted him.

"Children, if you want to play that way, go find a motel room," Giles ordered, giving Dean a stare.

"Sure."  He looked at Xander.  "We need a time estimate?"

"Next week sometime.  The week after I go on the breather patch and four days after that is the battle.  We need it collected by the end of that week."

"Okay.  We'll plan something for next week.  Need all that girly stuff?"

"Burger's good," Xander assured him. "Same as usual."  Dean grinned and nodded, going to get some coffee.  Xander looked at Giles.  "Do not help with that."

"I'm not.  I know it would embarrass you, Xander."  He went to open up the shop.

Anya pounced Xander to talk to him about his girl parts.  Including telling him that he didn't have to go onto the breather patch, he could go onto the next one and skip back to the breather patch some other time.  That cheered her up a lot.  She hadn't been looking forward to PMS *and* a battle.


Dean looked at Xander.  She was fairly nervous.  "Your first time wasn't bad, right?"  He checked her arm.  The spot Giles had drawn blood from earlier as now healed.

"No, Faith kinda climbed on top and rode me hard, then kicked me out after she was done."  She looked at her clothes, then took off her t-shirt.  He had seen her in less than the bra she was wearing.  "Sorry, laundry."

He grinned.  "Not an issue, it's not like it's going to get in the way."  She let out a nervous laugh.  "Want me to get a bit pushy here?"  She shrugged a bit so he moved closer, taking control for now.  Keeping it at kissing.  She could kiss very well.  She was definitely good at this stuff.  He moved her away from the wall of the motel room, sitting them on the bed.  "There, so we don't fall down."  She snickered and nodded, pulling him back into another kiss.  "You sure you don't want Sam?"

"I like Sam but I think he'd probably leave too much up to me."

"Probably.  He's a hearts and flowers kinda guy.  That's why he doesn't get any on the road."  She pinched him so he undid her bra on her.  "The patch is on, there's no gap, no chance of anything happening, right?"  She let him see and he grinned.  "Good.  Don't wanna wake up and have you with a knife overtop of me for that."  He went back to kissing, teasing the newly exposed skin.  She tensed up but he kept it there.  He'd sneak up on the other stuff for now.  Another kiss, and she was on her back now.  He took off his t- shirt too.  It was easier and it would make her feel a bit more comfortable if he wasn't fully dressed.  He knew some women found it thrilling but he had no idea why.  Neither did Xander probably.  He pulled back to look at her.  "Quit thinking."


"Am I not giving you enough?" he asked, stroking down her side.  She wiggled a bit.  "Focus, Xander.  You have a very impressive focus."  Xander closed her eyes, letting him do whatever he wanted to.  Another kiss and she was back into it.  "Should I go get us a beer?" he teased when she tensed up again.

"I don't want to associate the two.  Then I'd really be my parents."

"Then we'll keep it for afterward."  Another kiss and she put a hesitant hand on his chest.  "Go ahead.  Investigate. I doubt you did last time."  She shook her head, moving to check his chest out. A few touches, a few pinches, a teasing scratch over a nipple that made him  hiss and arch toward her.  She leaned down to lick over it, making him smile.  "Are yours sensitive?"


"Good."  Dean moved the bra so he could get in some light groping.  He had tried this the other morning and it had went all right.  She seemed to like  him touching there.  She bit him gently and he hissed again, squeezing her a bit hard.  "Gentler, Xander.  Pain is for fighting."  She eased off and it was nice.  She was gentle with him.  He was going to try to be gentle with her.  He used one hand to play with a breast while the other one went to undo her jeans.  She stiffened so he did it anyway.  He left it open and stroked over her stomach.  "Want to finish stripping?"

"Only if you tip me," she joked.

He grinned. "Smartass."  She beamed and nodded.  "No more bad jokes."  He got up and pulled off her pants, leaving her the fairly skimpy panties.  His jeans dropped too and she stared.  "Didn't look all the times I was coming out of the shower?"

"Not really."

He smirked.  "See, Sam thought you were checking me out months ago."

"The scar on your back, trying to figure out if it was a knife or a claw."  She ran a finger up it.

"Claw."  He touched one of hers.  "Dagger?"

"Kitchen knife."

Dean looked at her.  "Parents?"

"Don't go there."

"Okay.  That's a drunken talk."  She nodded.  "Good."  He kissed her again and she got back into it, still gently exploring.  He was having some fun teasing her.  His hand was slowly sneaking down to breach the panty line.  She groaned into his mouth when he did.  He had figured out where her sweet spot was and a gentle touch to it didn't get much response.  Maybe....  No she had to be wrong about it not working.  He shifted his hand, pushing up instead of in.  She did make a noise at that.  He kept going, keeping her mind occupied.  It was nice enough.  First times weren't supposed to be fast and hard, but he figured if he got that pushy she would've went cold in his hands.  She needed someone to be a bit more aggressive so he had to do that this time.  Normally he was fairly considerate.  He kept playing and teasing, slowly working her up.  She was slower to respond than most women he'd met but that happened.  His thumb was playing with her clit and his fingers were teasing the outside of her hole, making her shift and arch against his hand.  It took nearly a half hour before he felt her clit stiffen.

"That's the problem," he said, realizing one of them.  "You have a really long hood.  Most women have shorter ones.  That's what's cutting down on it."  He grinned and teased the sensitive little nub gently, making her swear and arch up.  He laughed, letting her go over before he took off the panties and lost his own boxers.  The spell required no condoms or other barriers between them.  "Ready?"  She nodded.  "Deep breath."  He slowly slid in, resting against the barrier.  She shifted so he pushed past it, then pulled back and pushed farther in, making her moan and try to wiggle away.  He pulled her hips closer and went in deeper.  He shifted his position so her clit could rub against his pubic mound and it was apparently good enough.  She was a bit of a squealer and a moaner.  It was nice noise.  He kept going, making her a happy girl.  She finally came so he let himself come, going limp on top of her.  "Hey."

She stroked his forehead. "Thank you."  She kissed him and cuddled up to his chest.  He smiled, letting her do it.  She was warm in his arms.  "So, why do women like oral sex?"

"I'd show you but since you're bleeding a bit, let's wait until some other time, okay?"

She looked at him.  "I am?"

"Breaking ...  Never had a virgin, huh?"  She shook her head.  "How did you manage that?"

"I only slept with Faith, Cordy, and Anya.  Plus that one time I dabbled at the club."

"The hymen bleeds a bit when  you break it.  It's flesh.  So there's a bit of blood.  Since I'm not a vampire...."  She laughed and swatted him on the ass.  "Easy," he ordered with a teasing grin.  "I need time to recover.  Not like you at twenty.  After twenty-five you slow down a bit."

"Need more viagra?" she teased.

"I'll show you who needs it."  He latched onto a nipple and she let out this primal shriek.  He smirked at her.  "Good?"

"Feels like you're sucking a straw to clean me up."

"Heard that before."  He went back to teasing her breasts.  This time she was much more into it and he wasn't nearly as careful.  She was fully ready when he slammed himself in, riding her harder this time.  This was more his usual thing.  She flipped them over to get on top.  "Sure, go ahead," he agreed.  She tried it but it wasn't as good.  He shifted her hips as he thrust up and she lost it.  That was the spot then.  He was going to enjoy teasing it this time.  He flipped them back over, putting her onto her stomach this time.  "Should've done it this way since you dabbled," he said in her ear.  He slid back inside, starting a hard, swift rhythm that was making her pant and beg into the pillows.  He pulled her back up to sit in his lap, teasing her clit again.  "This is where you touch," he said in her ear.

"That way you're not frustrated."  He guided her hand to it.  "That's the hood.  It blocks out some of the feeling so you aren't one constant orgasm."  He swallowed his spit and let her tease herself while he worked on her.  It was extremely good.  She had stamina like he needed.  He groaned.  "Xander, please come?" he begged.  He went back to teasing her, making her pant, huff, and moan louder until he felt her go off around him.  He let himself come and they both collapsed.  "Hour, please," he begged when she kissed him.  She mewled into his throat, going down to suck and play with it.  He went back to teasing her until she finally came again and went limp on  his chest.  "Damn, woman."

Xander looked up at him.  "Thanks," she said weakly.  Her head thumped back down.  She yawned.  "I didn't know that women took naps afterward.  I thought they got more energetic."

"If it's good, you always need a nap."  He stroked her back, making her yawn and fall asleep on top of his chest.  He yawned too.  She'd let him nap.

Neither one felt the sheet be ripped underneath them to take her spilled blood and his dripped seed.


Xander looked at Dean when he woke up the next morning.  "Coffee?"

"Coffee's nice."  He took the cup from her.  "Went for your morning run?"  She nodded, taking a sip of hers.  "You can cuddle."

"I don't want to seem clingy.  I'm not going to turn into one of those saran wrap girls."

He sat up to kiss her.  "Before you wouldn't mind.  Nothing changes, Xander."

"I don't know how to act."

"I'll let you know if you're getting pushy."  Xander nodded, crawling back in to get cuddly.  "Sam all right?"

"He brought home that waitress at the Mocha Pump."

"Cool.  He needed it."  He kissed her.  "Casual, right?"

"That's what I'm afraid of breaking."

"Don't get weird about it, Xander."

"I'm trying to figure out where the line for friends with benefits is."

"I'll let you know if you get clingy."

She smiled. "Thanks, Dean."

"Welcome.  What time is it?"


"Early," he complained.

She teased his stomach.  "I was kinda hoping for another round."  She looked up at him.  "If you're not too tired or sore or anything."

"You're the one who should be sore."  She shook her head.  "Slayer healing?"  She nodded with a grin.  "Fine.  You're insatiable."  She laughed and let him put down their coffees so she could pounce him.  It was just as good as the night before, even if Xander did get pushy to get her own pleasure.  Some women got demanding; he put up with it because it was good between them.  They finished up in the shower, him popping a back zit he found for her.  Her doing one on his shoulder for him.  They rewarmed the coffee before heading to the Magic Box.  He looked at her.  "Sparring with Faith again?"

"Giles wanted Buffy and Faith to spar this morning.  Made her get up."  They walked in together and she hugged Tara.  "Morning."

She smiled.  "Are you okay?" she whispered.  Xander nodded so she beamed at Dean.  "Thank you."

"Not like it was a hardship, Tara."  He grinned at her.  "Okay, so we need to draw blood?"  Xander groaned, nodding a bit as she went to find Giles.  "We're keeping it as buddies, Tara.  Don't worry about that."

"You made her smile.  She hasn't smiled in days," she said gently.  He considered it then shrugged.  "Good."  She patted him.  "Sam's in the backroom with the books."  She led him that way.

"Morning, dickhead," Dean said.

Sam flipped him off.  "I found the mention of the demon that killed Mom."  Dean sat down to go over it with him.

"Giles, a question.  Since I'm hellmouth tainted, someone told me that makes my blood stronger."

"It would," he agreed after a minute's thought.  "Why?"

"Should we follow the recipe exactly?"

He frowned, then nodded.  "Sometimes it's not the strength of the blood but the amount of it.  Even if it's too powerful it should only make the calling easier."  Xander nodded at that, rolling up her sleeve.  He attached the IV needle and the bag.  "These have no preservatives so they'll need to be frozen almost immediately."

"Yes, Giles.  We need three pints?"

"It's dangerous to take that all at once."

Xander looked at him.  "Giles, Buffy's been nearly drained how many times?"

"Good point."  He got the three pints they'd  need for  the boys' spell.  Then he took an extra one for his own use.  He'd take some more later after he had sealed and preserved that one for later spells.  She gave him a grin for it.  "It's powerful, Xander.  Some protection rites call for it."

"I know.  I looked up all the uses of slayer's blood."

Buffy walked in, grimacing.  "We're bleeding us?"

"No, we're bleeding me because the guys need some for their upcoming fight.  Giles is  taking extra because it's used in protection rites."

"Oh."  She shrugged.  "Need mine, Giles?"

"I'll get some from you and Faith later, Buffy."  He smiled, withdrawing the needle and putting on a proper bandage.  "There you go, Xander."  The three pints were put into the freezer and the freezer was locked and spell locked so no one could get into it.  Dean came out to whisper in his ear.  "If you're not looking in the Compendium, there's that one and one other.  Xander, do you feel comfortable sparring with Buffy?"

"I was going to go over the battle area."  She stood up and rolled down her sleeve.  "Then I'll come back to spar."  That got a nod so she left.

Giles smiled at Dean.  "There's one other book that may have it."  He got him into the locked cabinet, bringing out a very old book.  "This details the origins of the vengeance and other demons of that level of power."  He opened it and found the demon he needed in the index, flipping back to it. "Here you go, boys.  It does look like there's a weakness."  He left them to their research, going to watch the two senior slayers workout.

No one would miss Xander for hours.


to next part: