Notes:  Tazzy gave me the first paragraph of this story as a challenge back in 2004.  No, their dad didn't die.

To Find a Hunter.

He hurt.  Oh Gods, he hurt.  Pain radiated through his body, blending with the ache of a stomach that has been empty for too long.  He couldn't remember the last time he ate or even slept as he pushed himself to keep going, placing one foot in front of the other to escape the slaughter and senseless violence that had surrounded him and tried to pull him under.  Barely healed cuts and gashes were rubbed by blood soaked clothing as he moved, adding to the pain in his body.  Stumbling, he barely caught himself before he fell, and forced his weary body onward.  If he fell, he wasn't going to be moving for a long time and he wasn't safe yet.  He  ould still hear the sounds of fighting, yelling, and dying, but he wasn't sure if it was all part of his exhausted mind.  Until he knew he was safe from the carnage, he had to keep moving.

It had been days.  He had left the battle after watching everyone he loved fall.   He had walked off after the end, when he was sure they had lost, when Willow had sent him off and he had started to walk.  He knew this way laid help of some sort.  The voices in his head were pushing him onward.  Even though he was in the dessert.  He felt like he was going to die.  He knew he was going to die soon.  He had to let someone else knew.  After all, what would the Watchers do?  Cry?  He kept walking, he had to keep walking.  There was no other way.  Someone had to know.  He stumbled once but he made himself get up after a few deep breaths.  He didn't care if he was baking.  He could die out here as long as someone knew.  He found a road and decided to follow along it.  It had to lead to somewhere, right?

That's what the soldier's memories were telling him.  There had to be civilization somewhere ahead of him.  He'd find it and find whoever the voices wanted him to find.  They'd do whatever they had to do to protect her.  Around noon he stumbled again but this time the heat was too much.  He wasn't getting up.  He tried a few times then finally passed out from the strain on his body.  He had no idea how much time passed.  He hadn't heard anything while he slept.  He was finally starting to come around, brought around by a sign that someone else was there.  A car's engine.  He tried to move but that was too much effort.  Fortunately the car stopped since he was halfway in the road.  He had been weaving a bit as he walked he guessed.

The two guys got out of the car and came over to check on him.  "Hey," one said, patting him on the cheek.  "You aware?"

"This isn't a hit and run, those are fight injuries," the other guy said calmly.  His brother stared at him.  "They are.  Cars don't give black eyes or sword cuts."

"Point.  What do we do?"  He patted the guy on the face again.  "Get one of the bottles of water or something?  He's dehydrated and overheated."  His brother went to get that for him while he did a visual check of the guy.  He found his wallet and pulled it out to look at it.  "Alexander?" he called.  "Come on, I think you can hear me.  Wake up, I've got some water."  He carefully poured a sip in and the guy started to come around more.  "We have to get him some help."

"No cellphone reception out here."

The man on the ground blinked at them.  Then he smiled a bit.  He knew that stance and those sort of muscles.  "You'll know what to do."  He tugged on the one trying to feed him water.  "They're all dead," he said, staring into his eyes.  "I saw them fall."

"Who?" he demanded, staring down at him.

"Buffy, all of them.  You have to save Dawn.  She's the key."  He swallowed more water.  "Go to Sunnydale.  Find Spike.  He'll have her if he survived.  I didn't see him fall but it's possible.  If not, find Tara.  She wasn't at the battle.  Ask Willie if you can't find her.  She's got Dawn and Dawn's the Key."  He collapsed again, his message having finally been heard.

"Okay, that's kinda weird," one of the brothers said.

The one kneeling beside him nodded.  "Then again, it's us, Dean."  He stood up.  "Let's drive him somewhere to get help."

"Do you believe he's not heat sick or anything?"

"I don't care!  I'm not leaving him out here to die."

"Good point."  He got them into the car, thinking.  "I've heard of Sunnydale somewhere."

"Dad said we were never to go there.  We'd be overrun.  No hunter hunts there except a slayer."

Dean blinked.  "The last slayer's name was Buffy ... Summers if I remember right.  One of the vamps said I wasn't nearly as good as her or had as much style."

Sam looked at him then smirked.  "Well, no, you don't really do the whole stylish girl thing very often, Dean."  They got the guy into the backseat and climbed in, heading off.  He grabbed his PDA, typing into Mapquest.  "Sunnydale is...  Well, from where we started about three hundred miles."

"We've done about a hundred and fifty today."  He pointed.  "Gas station."  Sam fixed their starting point and showed him.  "A hundred and ten.  We can do that in a few hours."  He checked the gauges and pulled in, stopping to get gas.  He patted Xander down, taking the wallet from Sam, taking out some money.  His brother glared.  "I'll pay him back!"  He got out to pump some gas, looking around.  A cop car was driving up the road so he waved them down, getting him to pull in.  "Hey, we found a guy collapsed on the road heading this way.  He's in the back.  Looks baked.  We were taking him to the hospital."

"Stoned baked?" the deputy asked, getting out.  He looked at the guy.  "No, he's got exposure."  He opened the door to check his pulse.  "Any idea who he is?"  Sam handed over his wallet.  "No license?"

"He asked us to check on his sister, that he had been dropped off for trying to save her," Dean said.  Sam wrote down the address and handed it down.  "We're heading that way anyway so we can let someone know I figure.  Only a few hours away."

"That's kind of you boys," the deputy said.  He looked up.  "It'll be faster if I drive him than to get an ambulance out here this time of day."  Sam got out and helped him get the boy into his car.  "Any idea what's going on?"

"No, he said something about his sister, Sunnydale going to hell....."

The deputy grimaced, looking at the license then at him.  "About four days ago that town broke into serious violence issues, boys.  I don't know why.  No one does."  He closed his back door, calling it in.  "Dispatch, this is 1254, I've got an exposure victim in my car.  We think he's been out in the desert for over four days."  He hung up his radio and slid inside.  "You boys be damn careful in town.  You hear me?"  They nodded.  "Thanks again for picking him up.  It's sad but most wouldn't."

"I gave him a bit of water," Sam said, handing over the bottle.  That got a nod and the deputy pulled out, heading for the hospital with his lights and siren on.  He turned to look at Dean.  "Four days?"

"Four days," he said.  "In a town that's already overrun?"

"And apparently the slayer fell," Sam finished.  Dean nodded, putting up the gas pump's handle so they could pay and get on their way.  They had some work to do.


Dean found Willie's bar just before dark that night.  "Okay, is that a demon bar?" he asked.  Something with orange arms and a blue body was walking inside.

"Yeah, looks like it."  He got out and walked over, Dean following him.  He smiled at the patrons who gave him a nervous look, heading for the bartender.  "Is Willie here?  An Alexander Harris said to talk to him about someone named Spike?"

The bartender blinked at him.  "I'm Willie.  Harris said what?  And where is he?"

"We found him collapsed about a hundred miles from here," Dean said quietly.  "He said we have to find a Spike or a Tara?"

"Damn," he muttered.  "They're alive, I don't know where, boys."

Sam leaned on the bar, getting closer.  "He said we have to see Dawn," he said quietly.  The bartender looked very scared at that.  "He also said there was a battle and everyone fell?  Would you know anything about that?"

He swallowed and nodded.  "Glory," he said quietly.  "She came for the younger Summers girl, Dawn.  They died trying to get her back."  He glanced around.  "They need Spike, anyone got a clue?" he called.  "It's damn important, the Powers sent 'em!"

"Normally you wouldn't ask," one vampire in a corner said.  "But he's down in the tunnels somewhere.  I can lead you boys."  He smirked and vamped out.  "For a price."

Dean looked at him and smirked.  "Let me introduce us."  He staked him.  "I'm a Winchester."  He smiled at the others.  "Anyone else who has a clue?"

"By the college somewhere," one said quietly, looking away from him.  "Go down by the Magic Box then underneath."  He gulped his drink since it might be his last.  "Where's Harris anyway?  The annoying brat should've died with the others."

"He got sent to find help," Sam said, staring him down.  The demons fled.  He looked at Willie.  "Any further clues?"

The bartender went weak-kneed, not that much different than when he saw a slayer come in.  He nodded quickly.  "The Magic Box used to be the Watchers' place.  They all hung there.  Leave a note there if you can't find 'em.  They've got to be coming up for food.  Dawn's human.  So's the quiet witch."

Dean nodded. "Okay, which way?"

"Left at the end of the block.  The black store with the blue sign, boys.  Why did he ask you?"

"He collapsed trying to find someone to help Dawn," Sam said.

The bartender nodded.  "Girl's got to be powerful.  The hellgoddess wanted her to do stuff.  That's why Buffy and them died."  He stared at them.  "You're really Winchesters?"  Sam pulled out his ID.  He nodded, backing up.  "Please, just get them out of here.  You can solve it easier once you've got her out of town.  Then Glory will leave and we'll be safer again."

"She's still alive?" Dean asked.

He nodded.  "Yeah, don't know why.  Slayer tried.  Killed herself to stop the portals from ripping everything apart.  The rest died fighting her minions.  We hadn't seen Harris so we thought he was guarding the girl."

"No, he was in the desert," Sam said quietly.  "Thanks."  They left, heading back to the car to go to the shop.  They found it easily enough, it was dark.  Sam looked at it then around.  He saw something.  "We forgot to ask what Spike looks like."

Dean got out and armed them both up, heading to the door once the trunk was closed.  He picked the locks and they walked inside, looking around.  "Hey!  Harris sent us!" he called.  A small glow started behind the register.  A redheaded girl faded into view as a ghost.  "Please be non-violent."

She nodded.  "I am.  Xander's good.  That's why I sent him to someone who could help Dawn."  She floated closer.  "Spike is a vampire.  Do not stake him.  The government did it to him.  Dawn and Tara are down by the college.  I'll lead you there."

"Who were you?" Sam asked.

She smiled sadly.  "Willow Rosenburg.  Best friend and witch to the slayer Buffy.  You're not Watchers, right?"

Dean shook his head.  "No, not Watchers.  Hunters.  Do we need to call in the assholes from Britain?"

She smiled.  "They can't do anything."  She floated over to Sam, staring at him.  "Destroy the vessel and destroy her.  Get Dawn out of the town.  She won't be as powerful off the hellmouth.  Take her to wherever Xander is.  Xander will protect her, even if he's dying.  I sent him away, made him go before I fell.  Tell him that.  He'll need to hear it."  He nodded once.  She nodded.  "Come on, entrance to the sewer in the back for Spike's use."  She led them down it and through the maze of tunnels, pointing at one.  "I can't go near Tara's protections now.  Call out to them when you see the lights."  She faded out.  She hoped they had some sort of a clue.  Even hunters weren't slayers.

Dean led the way, finding the light in front of them easily enough.  "Yo," he called.  "Xander sent us!"  The light flared and they had to blink a few times.  He stared at the blond man in front of him.  "You're Spike?"

"Don't let the size fool you, mate," he said dryly.  "Where's the whelp?"

"In the hospital.  Willow said she sent him for help before she fell," Sam said.  He stepped forward.  "She said we have to get Dawn out of here.  Glo...."  Spike lunged and covered his mouth.

"Okay, so she's listening for her name," Dean said.  "Get off my brother, dude."  Spike snickered.  He pulled up the gun, pointing it at him.  "Wooden."  He backed off.  "Thanks.  Now, can we talk?"

"Le..let them," a female said from the small room.  She got out of the way, letting them inside.  "Xa...x...xander?" she asked hopefully.

"He's in the hospital about a hundred miles from here," Sam told her.  "We found him collapsed next to the road."  She slumped, nodding.  "He could be perfectly fine, even after a few days wandering in the desert."

She looked at him.  "Five days."

"He's lucky he survived," Dean told her calmly.  He looked around.  Then back at her.  "He said to find you or Spike about Dawn.  She had to be protected?"  Tara and Spike both nodded.  "Then Willow showed up to lead us down here.  She said we had to get her off the hellmouth.  That .... the one we're all here about would be weaker there.  What is going on?"

Tara sat down but Spike looked at them.  "Five days ago Glor..."  He shook his head, pointing at the open book.  "That one found her bloody key to open a portal to another hell dimension."

Sam picked it up to look at it, blanching some.  "Shit."  Dean looked over his arm, then sighed and shook his head.  He looked at him.  "Xander said she was the key," he said quietly.  Tara nodded, patting the young girl she had been protecting.  "Can we move her?"

"We can," Spike agreed.  "All the weapons and stuff are here.  Harris dealt with those.  I know crossbows, guns a bit, not the heavy stuff."

"I know many weapons, including a lot of artillery," Dean told him.  "So does Sam.  What do we have?"

Spike grinned.  "At least he found real help, not the nancy Watcher brats.  They've already came and died.  Twice."

"Three times," Tara said quietly.  She looked at Sam.  "Xander?"

"He should be fine.  He looked like he was baked and dehydrated."  She nodded at that, giving the girl a nudge.  "Let her sleep for a few more.  Let's get a solid plan then we'll get her involved."  She nodded at that.

"Girl's the sister of a slayer.  She's got a clue," Spike assured him.  "Has for however long she's been here."

Dean blinked, frowning at him.  "She's how old?"

"Six months," Spike said.  They both looked at the body then at him.  He smirked.  "Some monks."

"Oh, charming," Dean said.  "Okay.  Do we want to hold this talk here or somewhere else?  That's a first step.  If we have to, we can find a way to move weapons."  They shook their heads.  "No?"  Tara led him up the sewer to another alcove that had been hollowed out.  "Who built these?"

"The mayor," Spike called.  "Dead now, few years."

"Good to know," Dean said.  She lit up the other alcove, making him whistle.  "Damn."

She looked at him.  "Th..this is j..just the small st...stuff," she stuttered.

He looked at her.  "You don't have to be scared of me unless you're an evil bitch bent on hurting others.  Are you?"  She shook her head, smiling a bit.  "Then quit.  I'm the scary one but still."  He walked in there to look.  "He has some good taste."  He looked at her.  "There's more?"

Spike leaned in.  "Lots.  Harris was a packrat."  She hit him on the arm.  "He was!"

"He's not dead!" a younger female voice said from behind him.  "Willow's ghost sent him off."

"He's not, he's in the hospital," Sam said, leading her in there.  He looked and whistled.  "I thought our usual people had some stuff."

Spike snorted.  "This is only half of it."  He looked at her.  "Should be sleeping."

"Bite me.  Oh, that's right, you can't," she smarted off, giving him a look.  "I'm old enough to help myself.  Aren't I?" she asked Sam.

"You're old enough to make some decisions for yourself," he agreed.  "Should we let anyone else know you're all right?"

"Her mother died a few months back," Spike said quietly.  "Miss her, we do."

"Okay, first of all, Sam, find a damn truck.  We're moving this out of here.  It's not safe."  He nodded, heading off to do that.  "You three, go to the Magic Box.  Get whatever supplies Tara's going to need for whatever she can do.  Find the rest of your research because it'll only help us.  We're moving you three out of the town.  We were told it'd be safer by the ghost, it'll be safer."  Dawn sniffled.  "You can come back when it's safer, Dawn."

She looked at him.  "My sister's being buried tomorrow.  So are the others."

"While that sucks, going could kill you and everyone else."  She stiffened and nodded.  "I promise you can come back if we can defeat this.  You can sit by her grave and talk to her all you want."  He moved closer.  "They'll guard you while you do that."  She sighed but nodded, swallowing again.  He patted her on the shoulder.  "It'll be okay, Dawn.  I promise.  We'll do what we can to make you safe."

Spike coughed.  "We've got backup in LA but haven't been able to get hold of 'em yet.  Too dangerous to find Peaches."

Dean looked at him.  "There's a demon named Peaches?"

"It's his pet name for his sire, Angel," Dawn said, shrugging a bit.  "Spike's strange.  The government and Dru did it to him."  He swatted her.  "They did!  Dru drove you insane too!"  She looked at him.  "Who are you?"

"Dean Winchester."

She blinked.  "The Council knows about you two?"

Dean laughed.  "We don't deal with the Watcher's Council.  Sam and I are hunters, and brothers," he admitted at her odd look.  "Our dad trained us since we were kids, Dawn.  We've been doing this for a while now."  She nodded at that.

"The bloody Watchers are useless anyway.  Didn't tell Rupes anything until recently," Spike protested.

She nodded.  "They didn't like him or Buffy very much.  She thought too much," Dawn said grimly.  "Okay, which way are we heading?"  She looked at him.  "Will Xander be all right?"

"He's dehydrated.  Four or five days in the desert," he told her.

She nodded.  "He's a tough guy."  She looked at Spike.  "LA or to Xander?"

"He's ...."

"Small town called Southern."

Spike shook his head but Tara laughed.  "We know it?" Dawn asked.  Tara nodded.  "Which way?"

"Southern," Spike said.  "That's a happy look."

"I have a maiden aunt who used to live there," she whispered, smirking at the girl.  "Just like me."

Dean nodded.  "We can handle that then.  Gather up the stuff down here.  It'll fit in the trunk and if not, Sam can deal with it from the Magic Box once he finds a truck."  They grabbed stuff, Dawn grabbing her bag and a crossbow.  He looked at her.  Clearly untrained.  He nudged her, taking it and handing it back properly.  "Shoot with the trigger.  Aim down the arrow," he said quietly.  She nodded at that, following by clutching Spike's arm.  He watched them.  Tara clearly knew something but not a lot of defensive magics.  Spike was odd, but he was guarding the child.  It was clear it wasn't the first time.  With a slayer as a sister it made it odder, but reasonable.  He finished hauling up the last few boxes of ammunition and put them into the trunk, then closed it.  A few boxes went into the back seat.  He locked the car and went into the Magic Box, helping them grab things.  "Small bags or that'll fit on your lap," he ordered.  They nodded, switching one basket to a smaller bag.  He pulled Spike off to the side.  "What happened?"

"She bled her," he said calmly, glancing at Dawn then at him.  "To open the portals.  Buffy died to close them.  Took a dive."  Dean shuddered.  "The others fell to the minions."  He stared at him.  "I'm barely healed.  Tara wasn't there.  She's a peaceful sort usually.  Dawn was saved by Buffy then she fled to Tara."  Dean nodded at that, it made sense.  "Red knew it was coming and cast at Harris to send him off before he could die too.  Send him searching for help.  Someone who could help her."

"We can help Dawn," he assured him.  "We know others who can as well."  Spike sighed and nodded.  "How did they know we were nearby?  Or that anyone was nearby?"

"She sent him where he'd find you.  Must've gotten turned around or something."

Dean nodded.  "Okay, that explains why it took so long."  Sam came walking in.  "Find one?"

"With the keys in it," he said, holding them up.  "Driver was dead."  He looked around then at Spike.  "What do we need from here?"

"Everything," Dawn told him.  "It's Giles' stuff."  She looked around then sighed.  Tara patted her.  "They'll burn it eventually.  Some of the books are originals and the only copies."

Tara looked at Spike.  "Get the weapons first, then the books can go on top," Dean told her.   She nodded.  Spike led Sam out, taking him to the warehouse.  His phone rang ten minutes later while he watched the girls pack things.  He snickered.  "The warehouse is full?" he asked Tara.  She shrugged.  He texted back 'pick what we'll use for now' and left it there.  Sam came back thirty minutes later and he looked, whistling.  "Sweet."

"There's still another sixteen or so cases in there but we'd never have room," Sam told him.  "Plus we'll have to let Spike ride in here too."  Dean nodded that was practical.  "Any room in the car?"

"Nope.  We're down to laps.  What got left?"

"Rockets mostly."

Dean shook his head.  "We have a contact who can come pick them up and hold them?" he asked Spike, who nodded.  "Without selling them?"

"I can get 'em to Peaches and his dancing ponces," he said, going to make a call from the store.  He came out, nodding.  "Take 'em to LA tonight."

"Decent," Dean said.  "Tara?"  Boxes started to float out and he was impressed.  He didn't know many witches this strong.  He looked at Dawn, finding her helping by giving Tara energy.  He looked at the store.  "This is going to take all night, guys."  Dawn growled and snapped something then held her head, but the weapons, books, and supplies for magic were in the truck, which was nearly full.

"Spike can hide with me under a blanket," Sam said.  He closed the back and locked it, heading for the driver's door.  "Dean?"

"Ladies?  Spike?"  He climbed in to ride with Sam.  "I want him one piece, Spike.  I'm *very* protective."  That got a nod.  He got the girls into the car, letting Dawn sit up front when she got in.  He smirked a bit at Sam, who shrugged.  They followed the truck out of the city.  "Okay," he said once they had crossed the city's limits.  "What happened?  In detail, from the top?"

Dawn swallowed.  "Glory is a hell goddess.  She can appear once a millennia to open portals back to her native realm.  Doing so will destroy everyone.  To do that she needs the Key, which was me before the Monks turned me into Buffy's little sister six months ago.  The monks were dying and this was their last hope."

"Got that part," Dean said.  "Which is how your sister's dive stopped the portals?"  She nodded, looking sad again.  He glanced at her.  "We lost our mom when I was four and Sam was six-months-old, Dawn.  It gets easier."

"I'm so tired of losing people," she said quietly.  "It can't get better unless they stop dying."

He nodded.  "That's what we're hoping we can do."  She nodded, slumping down.  "Now, what do we know about Glory?  Willow said something about a vessel?"

Tara coughed.  "Gl..glory wa..was...."

Dawn looked back. "Let me, Tara.  It'll go a bit faster and you need to rest anyway.  You've been holding the doorway shields too long."  She nodded, letting Dawn handle it.  She looked at Dean again.  "She's been shielding me from Glory since the battle went south."

"That's great of her, that means she's very strong and she loves you," Dean told her.

She nodded.  "She's the only aunt and big sister sort I have left."  She sniffled, then looked at him.  "Giles said that Glory was put into a situation where she had to have a vessel.  Like split personalities.  If we can kill the vessel, we can kill or banish her."

"Vessel like urn or vase or vessel like possession?"

"We think possession," Dawn said.  "I also think I know who it was."  She shifted some to look at him.  "Glory is also highly insane.  Of the sucking brains variety.  She'll stick her fingers into someone's head to top off their sanity."  Dean shuddered.  "She'll suck it out of her victim and leave them thoroughly gone.  Willow helped when she got Tara."

Dean sighed.  "Are you okay now, Tara?"  He saw her nod in the rearview mirror.  "Good.  Do we need to do anything to help you heal?"  She shook her head quickly.  "Let us know if you need something."  He glanced at Dawn again.  "So killing the person she's inhabiting will banish or kill her?"  Dawn nodded.  "Since you're human she can't use you the next time?"

"We don't think so.  Giles was going over ideas in case I died sometime before he did.  That way she couldn't dig me up or something."

"I know some methods of that."  He turned on the radio, making Tara jump.  He grinned in the mirror.  "Sorry, need music to think."  He looked at Dawn once he turned it down a bit.  "What else?"

"She kidnaped me.  They came to save me but she had started the portals with my blood."  She lifted her shirt a bit to show off the bandages.   Then she put it back down quickly.  "Everyone else was fighting her minions.  Willow died, Spike was nearly killed, but he managed to heal most of the way by feeding off Buffy's body.  Willow cast at Xander a few seconds before she died to send him off.  Anya's spine was fractured and she decided to kill herself in the hospital.  Giles died during the battle but I didn't see how."

"Any minions left?" he asked.

"We're not sure," Tara said quietly, barely over the loudness of the music.

Dean mentally groaned.  "That's a secondary concern."  He glanced at Dawn again.  "Anything else we know?"

"We know a lot.  We've got a ton of research in Tara's bags.  We have blessed weapons if they'd help.  I think Xander picked up a shovel when his weapon broke and killed one of the minions with it."  He nodded more slowly at that.  "I don't know what we're planning on doing."

"Right now we're planning on hiding you somewhere better, looking over the research, then we'll find a way to call her out," Dean told her.  "That's the only reasonable course of action.  Willow's ghost said she was weaker off the hellmouth."

Dawn sighed.  "Not fully.  Plus there's some insane knights going around trying to kill us because the monks turned me human.  We think they're all dead," she offered at his look.

He smirked.  "We can deal with them.  Shotguns work on them?"  She nodded.  "Then we can deal with them."  He turned onto the highway with the truck.  "Where is he going?"

Dawn looked then grinned.  "Xander's car.  Probably for Spike."  Sure enough ten minutes later they pulled up beside a camper that had a lot of arrow holes and a sedan.  Spike got out and ran over to it, getting in to drive.  "Xander will appreciate that."

"Are Xander and Spike together?" Dean asked.  They got moving again.

"No," she admitted.  "But whenever we end up chaining Spike up because he's being annoying he ends up in Xander's basement because he drinks...drank blood out of Giles' favorite mug.  Xander tied him up in his recliner all the time."

Dean smirked, snickering a bit.  "Xander sounds like a few guys I know."

"Xander's kinda unique among Sunnydale people.  Are there other Xanders out there in the real world?"

"A couple of other hunters," he agreed, smiling at her.  "Relax, Dawn.  We've got it.  You sleep for now."  She nodded, curling onto her side as much as she could so she could nap.  He glanced back at Tara but she was asleep too.  He inched his speed up, pulling up next to the truck.  Sam waved and grinned, then pointed ahead.  Dean looked then fell back, not wanting to get hit by the trucker.  He tapped out the song on the steering wheel while he drove, thinking about all their options.  There was enough firepower there to take over LA if they had to.  They had some possible help from LA and another vampire, plus whoever he had working with him.  Which was very strange to him.  Somehow they had to kill a God.  He pulled out his phone and texted a number, frowning when it came back 'no such number'.  "Don't do that to us," he muttered, calling the number instead.  He got the same voicemail message.  He left a message anyway.  "Dad, Dean.  Deep shit happening with a hell god.  Could use some backup.  In Cali.  Call."  He hung up and put his phone back.  His father would check the messages if he was alive.  Of course, they had other hunters they could call if they had to.  It wasn't something he wanted to do.  Or to depend on the guy that was in the hospital.  No matter how stubborn and gun nutjob he was.  Who knew how well he fought.


Sam looked around the small house, then at Tara.  "Is the electric on?"  She nodded.  "In use?"

"I...I co...come up ev..every summer," she stuttered.  Dawn gave her a hug.  She smiled and waved at a neighbor.  "She makes rum brownies," she hissed at him.

He grinned.  "Those can be good if they're made right."  He looked around.  "Mind if we park the truck out back?"  She shook her head.  He went to do that.  The girls went inside with Dean.  Dawn invited Spike in when he came running.  He came in the back door, finding Tara in the kitchen.  "Go rest."

She smiled.  "I need to do something."

"I know.  Research?"  She handed over her bag.  He smiled.  "Make some coffee since you want to cook?"  She nodded, starting some in the old stovetop percolator.  He went out to the living room.  Spike was staring down Dawn.  "Bed?" he suggested.  She huffed at him.  He grinned.  "I do that so much better."  She stomped off, while Spike and Dean both laughed.  Spike followed her, going to sleep in her room in case someone tried to break in.  He looked at his brother, handing over the bag.  "Tara's making coffee.  She said that's her research.  Spike told me what happened in the truck."

"Good.  It sounds bad."

"It does," he agreed.  They settled in to read what was going on, smiling at Tara when she brought them snacks and coffee then went upstairs.  "She's a nice girl."

"She is," Dean agreed, giving him a look.  "Now you find your sex drive?"

"Oh, shut up!  I'm not hitting on her.  She's a nice girl.  Kind of reminds me of Jess for some reason."  He went back to reading, sighing mentally.   He hadn't wanted to bring up that thought.

"I called Dad's phone and left a message."

"He call back yet?"


"Figures."  He went over the research then went to get online and find more.  He came back with more information.  "The Watcher's Council has some up."  He let Dean see and they nodded.  The vessel was human.  "How did they know?"

"They probably got close but didn't manage to take him out," Dean said.  "Report from an injured person."  That got a nod.  They went back over what they knew.  He got up to call the hospital to check on visiting hours so Dawn could see Xander.  She had been concerned about him.


"No, she's not going to kill anything," Tara said, standing up to Sam.  "Not magically."

"I don't want her to use her magic," Dean told her.  "I want her to use a weapon, Tara.  I agree, I don't want her to use magic to do anything right now.  She's not trained, she's got teenage and grief issues that could make her use it unconsciously, and she's got emotional stress that would keep her from making good choices.  If she shows up, I'm going to be giving her two weapons then training her in them.  I want her to use them."  He looked her over, then into her eyes.  "Even you can't protest defending yourself."

She sat down, slumping.  "I can't," she said softly.

"Good.  Then we'll be teaching you the same things," Sam told her.  "Just in case."

She looked at him then shrugged.  "I can use a gun.  My family hunts."

Dean smirked.  "That's why you're a vegetarian?"  She nodded.  "You can feel the animals, can't you?"  She nodded again.  "That's fine.  For now, we want you guarding and teaching Dawn while you're helping her step back from the point of snapping and destroying things.  I'm guessing this key was pretty powerful and she could do some damage."

Spike snickered from the stairs.  "Fundamental energy source for the good guys.  Could say that."  He walked into the kitchen carefully, bringing out the tea that had been annoying him by whistling.  He shoved it at Tara and headed back upstairs.  "Her sister didn't want her taught."

"Yay," Dean told him.  Spike looked at him, just staring.  "She's in danger.  Even with all of us here she's in danger.  She may always be in danger.  Even if you're always there to guard her, Spike.  Which would her sister rather have?"

Spike shrugged.  "Buffy had a few mental glitches now and then.  Not always right in the head.  Too many battles."  He finished his trek back to his nap.

Tara sipped her tea, pouring some for Sam too since she had found out he liked tea too.  The pot got put down onto the floor beside her chair.  "I can agree to teaching her.  That's not an issue.  Xander might."

"Is Xander a practical sort?" Sam asked.  She shrugged.  "You don't know?"

"Sometimes."  She smiled.  "We can go ask."

"He's still sedated," Dean told her.  "They're not sure why he hasn't woken up yet."

"I'm thinking they missed stuff," she said, sipping her tea.  "It would help Dawnie."

"We can go," Sam said, looking at Dean, who shrugged.  "That way he can do an inventory of what we have."  She nodded, going to wake up Dawn and get her moving.  "Any other orders, general?"

"Not yet," Dean said, rubbing his face before looking at him.  "Still no call back."

"I don't think he will," Sam said.

"I told him what we were doing."

"How often is he checking his voicemail?"

"Good point.  Did you send him an email too?"  Sam nodded.  "Did you tell him?"  Sam nodded, taking the Impala's keys so he could take the girls to the hospital.  Dean went back to making plans then went to do an inventory of what was in the truck.  They had a tarp up so no one would think about breaking in and no one checked the plates.  He smiled at the neighbor trying to watch him over the fence.  "Tara's stuff.  She needs something out of it."  He got under the tarp and into the truck, turning on the temporary light so he could do a count.  The guy at least had good taste in weapons even if he was a flake or something.


Sam walked them up to the nurse's station.  "These are Xander Harris' best friends. Which room is he in?"

"Are they next of kin?"

Dawn looked at her.  "His parents are worse than hellhounds and going to die if I see them," she told him.  That got a nod.  "I'm his adopted little sister and this is his best friend.  We're as close as you're getting."

"His wallet mentioned a Mr. Giles or a Miss Rosenburg?"  Tara had to swallow a sob but Sam patted her.  "Oh, dear.  Dead?"

"In Sunnydale the same day he got injured.  Xander was dropped off in the desert by someone to keep him from protecting me," Dawn told her.   "We're as close as you're getting.  Tara's probably mentioned somewhere."

She looked at the photocopy.  "I do see a handwritten addition of a Tara Maclay?"   Tara nodded.  "All right.  You're how old, young  lady?"

Dawn pulled her closer.  "Six days ago I saw my sister, Willow, Rupert, and most everyone else I love killed.  Xander and Tara are all I have left.  Try it," she growled.

"Dawn," Sam said, making her let go.  "Sorry, she's stressed."

"It's understandable under those circumstances," she said.  "I can tell Miss Maclay but you, dear.  Not until you're sixteen.  She can tell you if she wishes."

"That's fine, I can go curl up next to him and make him want to wake up," she said.  The nurse nodded, letting her see him.  She walked over to the bed, stroking over his lax hand.  Then she pinched him.  "Bastard."  He groaned and his blood pressure fell.  She frowned at the machines, then looked around.  "Hey, nurse, is this normal?" she called.  She came in to look then sighed and shook her head.  "Um, before he left, he was stabbed, would that matter?" she asked.  She moved the hospital gown out of the way, ignoring the paper panties and the tube for his catheter.  She felt around then put her hand over something.  "See, solid metal."  She looked at her.  "Could that be it?"

"We didn't even think to look since it looked healed."

"Yeah, one of our friends is good at that stuff."  Tara came in and looked then unhid all the injuries, making her gape.  Dawn shrugged.  "Some of are like that," Dawn quipped. "If you scream I get to rant, right?" she asked Sam, who nodded.

The nurse calmed herself down.  "That does explain some things."

"She was trying to protect him," Sam told her.  "That way no one would think to attack him in those areas."

She nodded.  "Let me call someone."  She hurried off to do that.  His doctor had to know about this.

Dawn looked at the sword point that was barely sticking out.  "I'm hoping he can't feel anything."

Sam looked at the IV tags.  "They've got him on some mild pain killers," Dawn."  He pulled her and Tara out of the way of the rushing doctor and nurses.  "We'll stay out of the way."

"She's a child."

"He's going to end up my legal guardian," Dawn said.  "Suck it up, dude.  I move and I'll fucking scream and have all of you thrown in jail."  The doctor got back to work.  He didn't really have time to argue.  Tara moved closer when they were discussing things.  The nurse introduced her and she asked quiet questions, getting nods and a plan of action.  Xander was taken down to surgery immediately.  Dawn looked at Tara.


"Good!  Surgery's good!"  She looked at Sam, who smiled.  "Can we wait?"

"We can."  He followed the nurse's directions down to the surgical waiting area, texting Dean to let him know what had happened.  His groan back was amusing.  He showed it to Tara, who grinned a bit.  He looked at Dawn.  "We were talking earlier."  Tara coughed and did something.  "Thanks."  He looked at her again.  "We don't want you to do anything magically except learn how to use it, Dawn."

"What about if she comes?"

"Then Dean and I are going to be teaching you how to defend yourself.  Got it?"  She nodded, stiffening her back some.  "Good."  He smiled.  "You'll get some self-defense skills and some weapons skills.  All of which you'll be able to use later if you get into trouble."

"Mom was thinking about self-defense lessons for me, but Buffy said it wasn't necessary."  She sniffled.  Tara moved over, letting her finally cry and let it out.  "Sorry," she said, trying to stop.

"No, let it out, Dawn.  It's better if you do," Sam promised, stroking her back.  She nodded, letting go on Tara's shoulder while he watched the people around them.  One of them made him wince at something.  "Guys, who's that?" he asked, pointing at someone.

Dawn looked over, then sprinted out there, grabbing him to push against a wall.  "Don't you dare go near Xander, Watcher."

He blinked at her.  "Summers?"

"No shit.  Leave Xander the fuck alone."

"Language," Sam said.  "Not until you're eighteen."   She gave him a look.  "I wasn't allowed either."  He came out.  "You could come talk to us."

"We're here to move Mr. Harris to a better medical facility."

"No," Tara said.

"She's his medical power of attorney," Dawn said smugly.

The watcher stared at her.  "We have his parents."

She snorted.  "And?  You think they give a damn about Xander?  They haven't yet.  They're worse than hellhounds about him."

"Hellhounds are actually fairly maternal," Sam told her.  The watcher gave him a horrified look.  He grinned.  "Xander found us.  Now, let's take this out of the hallway."  He pointed at their waiting area.  The watcher stomped that way.  He followed, giving the nurse a look.  "Miss Maclay..."

"We were told," the nurse said, smiling at him.  "The other guy?"

"His other best friend used to work for them and they're pushy assholes.  I'm going to let Dawn work out her grief and anger on him.  We won't let him be permanently hurt yet."  He walked in there and the shield came back up.  "Thanks, Tara."  He crossed his arms, looking at the Watcher.  "So, you show up again?"

"Who are you to question the Council's will?" he demanded.

"Sam Winchester."  He went pale.  "As I said, Xander found us.  Willow sent him to us."

The man swallowed, sitting down to call from the courtesy phone.  "Put on Travers. Now.  Small glitch."

"Oooh, let me find Travers," Dawn said angrily.  "He didn't tell Giles jack shit!"

The Watcher looked at her.  "It was suggested you be killed to solve it," he said bluntly.  Dawn shrieked and hit him.

"Dawn, no wild swinging, put the force behind the attempt at hitting," Sam instructed, moving up behind her to straighten up her back.  He showed her how it was done by punching him.  "Like that," he said with a grin.  He picked up the fallen phone while she beat him.  "Hello, Mr. Travers.  Sam Winchester.  Guardian over Dawn Summers at the moment."  He listened to him splutter.  "Also over Mr. Harris and Miss Maclay.  Am I clear?"  He smirked.  "Good!  We'd like the information you held back from your own people.  Because if we have to find it and we find out you had it and didn't tell us, well, we do have Mr. Harris' warehouse."  The man on the other end moaned at that.  "We do have contacts over in England.  It's not a problem for us.  By the way, leave Mr. Harris where is he.  They just took him to surgery.  His parents aren't worth the payment you gave them to suddenly give a damn.  Just drop it and move onto the next girl since you've already fucked this situation up beyond every comprehension you probably have.  Oh, and leave my brother alone as well.  He won't be happy and he's got the temper in the family."  He hung up and pulled Dawn off him.  "I promised he wouldn't need the ER," he said when she rounded on him.  She huffed and sat down, going into angry, sulking, pouty girl mode: arms and legs crossed, sullen look on her face, glare of ice coming from her eyes at the Watcher on the floor.  Sam looked down at him.  "Are you living?"

He looked up at him.  "She needs trained."

"We're going to work on that later.  Any other helpful advice?"

"No," he moaned.  "We'll leave the Harris brat to you guys."  He stood up with a sneer.  "Do be careful.  He screws everything up."

Tara touched him and he screamed.  "Shut up.  Xander doesn't screw anything up that doesn't need it."  He moved away from her.  "Leave.  Now."  He hobbled out and the shield fell.  She went pale and Sam put her next to Dawn, letting them soothe each other.  "I shouldn't have done that."

"Oh, quit," Dawn said, frowning at her.  "He deserved it.  He's zit puss."  She cuddled her, making her feel better for having hurt someone.  Even if they did deserve it.

Sam called his brother's phone from the courtesy phone.  "It's me."  He listened to him complain.  "Watchers?"  He nodded. "Yeah, we just talked with one here.  They should be leaving.  Or let Spike have a meal."

"Government chip," Dawn told him.

"Never mind.  She said he can't."  He laughed.  "That'll work too.  Sure.  Oh, we need to work on Dawn's hitting.  She beat on him for a good five minutes and he still walked out of here.  I showed her once.  We'll practice."  He grinned.  "Good.  Surgery.  Sword in his stomach."

"If we pull it out are we the King of Intestia?" Dawn quipped.

Sam grinned at her.  "Only on some planes."

She giggled at that and Tara gave her a hug and a kiss on the head.  "Thanks, Tara.  Are they there?"  He nodded.  "Can I talk to them?"

"No.  Dean's driving them off.  He's about to make sure they can't breed.  Remember, Dean, no cops."  He hung up and sat down on her other side, a seat between them.  "We're going to work on your hand-to-hand.  Everyone should know some in case they get mugged."  She nodded, settling in better against Tara's side.  The nurse checked on them.  "We're good.  He walked away."

"I saw that."  She smiled.  "It's going to be a few hours if you wanted to visit the cafeteria."

Dawn shook her head.  "I didn't bring any money with us."  Tara handed her her purse.  "You sure?"  She nodded so Dawn went to get them something to nibble and drink.  Sam handed her a candy bar, getting a smile.  "Thanks.  Sometimes I need it."

"We all do.  They say chocolate cures a lot of problems and there's some good research that agrees with that."  He walked her back up there, letting Tara have her salad and water.  He sat down with his burger and soda.  Dawn sat there to nibble on her candy bar and fruit cup, plus milk.  It was good enough for now.


Dean looked up as the others walked in.  "How is he?"

"He'll be fine.  He woke up grumpy and Dawn pounced.  He didn't remember the walk or talking to us.  I told him what was going on and he smiled, shook my hand, then passed out from the pain again."  He gave Dawn a nudge.  "Hit Dean for a while, let him work on your hand-to-hand.  He's better at it than I am."

Dean stood up, waving her on.  "Come on."  She hit him.  He frowned.  "Usually it's prep school girls that hit like that."

"No, that was my sister."  She hit him again.  He shook his head, moving to show her what to do.  Then he moved so she could try it on him.  He nodded and got down to teaching her what to do while Tara made dinner and Sam went back over the research.  "Did the Watchers do anything rude we can blow them up for?"

"Nah.  A few rock salt shells in the balls and they left," Dean offered with a grin.  "They got the point."

"That's amazing.  Xander had one of those talks with them when they tried to round him up for interrogation and then disappearance and it didn't work."  She hit at him again and he raised an eyebrow.  She sighed and did it right.  "Sorry.  Buffy never wanted me to learn."

"Well, now you need to.  If only to keep boys off your ass when you're older," Dean told her.  "I'm sure Xander would agree."

"He did," Sam agreed.  "I asked when he woke up again.  He said 'thank the gods, please teach her since I'm sore'.  He also suggested if he died she's getting all his weapons so she either had to be possessed by him or had better be taught by someone.  Oh, he said she's not allowed to live with Angel if he dies."  He looked in the kitchen, hearing Tara snicker at that.  "Isn't that who Forehead Man was?"  She nodded, smiling a bit.  He grinned at Dean.  "We might be expecting them as visitors."

"Wes was handling the funerals," Dawn said with a small frown.  She growled and attacked Dean, who picked her up.  "Hey!  You're not that much taller than me!"

"Yeah but it's the muscles, not the size.  I'm underestimated all the time because I'm short," Dean told her.  "At least next to Sammy."  He put her down.  "Anger is bad in a fight unless you plan on doing something so you both die."  She nodded.  "It's hard but if you focus you don't get as injured.  I speak from experience."

"Sam said you had the temper of the family."

"Nah.  He's the drama queen."  She laughed.  "Good girl.  Now, let's try that again?"  She nodded, trying it again.  He sighed and showed it to her again.  "Sammy."  He got up to be the practice dummy for now.  The girl was pampered and young but she could learn.  She was the right age to learn.  "Tara, did you want help with your hand-to-hand?"  She shook her head, going back to her chopping.  "Are you sure?"  She nodded.  "Okay."  He glanced at Sam, who shook his head.  He knew some of the more pure witches weren't able to think about killing.  If she was that sensitive there was nothing he could do but plan for it.  Dawn was going to be a good study though.  She knew what was at stake.  Spike came down at dusk to help them.  He was a pretty decent fighter, even by Dean's standards.  He nodded his approval.  That was a good thing for their battle plans.


Sam looked up from his midnight watch when he heard the soft footstep outside the front door, opening it to look at the vampire standing there.  "I thought you'd be less fashionable," he said.

"Xander?" he asked calmly.


"How much longer?"

"Probably a good week.  The injuries were mostly hidden by Willow's spell.  They only pulled the sword point out today."  He looked back, finding Spike there.  "Yours?"

"Peaches," he said dryly.  "Let 'im in, he's not wearing leather pants or going evil.  Today."  He walked off to the kitchen.  Tara had found him some blood earlier.  He warmed some up, splitting it with Angel.  "Anything?"

"Nothing great," he said quietly, glancing out at Sam.  "Who's he?"

"Sam Winchester.  His brother's upstairs.  The littler ponce?"  He took a sip.

"Finishing up with the official details for Dawn.  She's okay?"  Spike nodded, putting down his mug.  "The Watchers called to complain to Wesley.  They want them in protective custody."

"We let Dawn work out some aggression and grief on the one that came for Xander," Sam told him, coming in to get some ice water, then he went back to cleaning Xander's weapons.  Some had been in storage for a while.  A few had dust.  He had clearly meant to clean them right before use.   "Have you seen any sign of her?"

"The mad knights but not Glory," he said, coming out to see what he was doing.  "That won't work on most of us."  Sam held up the wooden bullet, getting a groan.  "Who makes those?"

"Harris," Spike said dryly.  "Should've seen the full warehouse."

"I saw what you sent for safe keeping.  Was he getting ready to handle an alien invasion?"

"In Sunnydale?" Spike countered.  "It's possible."

Angel moaned then nodded.  "Okay."  He looked at Sam again.  "So."

Sam grinned at him.  "We've got Dawn at the moment.  He said you're not to get custody of her if he dies."

"That's fine.  She'd be in just as much danger around us.  We have a law firm that keeps trying to bring hell to LA."  He blinked at the man coming down the stairs with the shotgun.  "You must be his brother Dean.  I've heard about you.  Angel."

Dean shook his hand.  "Are we exchanging info?"

Spike shrugged.  "I talked to Willie tonight.  He said there's no sign of Glory anywhere.  Things are calming down but not fully."  He finished his blood and rinsed out the cup, then took the rest of Angel's from his hand to drink.  Angel gave him a dirty look.  "What?"

"I wanted to talk to you about Buffy, Spike."

Spike stepped closer.  "They were all dying and I was worse than when the bloody organ hit me," he hissed.  "If I didn't, Dawn'd be dead."  Angel backed off, nodding at that.  "She wouldn't have minded for that reason."

"No, she wouldn't have," Dawn said from the stairs, looking at Angel.  "Hey.  How was it?"

"It was peaceful, Dawn.  Nothing attacked.  Plenty came to pay their respects."  He gave her a tentative hug.  "Are you sure?"

"They're going to help us take her on, Angel.  You can help with that."

"I will if I can," he promised.  She grinned at that.  He looked at Sam, then at Dean.  "Now what?"

"We're still trying to find her.  She still wants her?"

"Technically she can't open the same portal but she can open others and it'll still get her home because she can open the one she needs from the other side.  Or so Fred thinks.  She does physics, I don't understand much of it."

"Are there certain days or times?" Sam asked.  "Like last time?"

"No," Angel said.  "She thinks she can open it wherever she can get a portal to open to.  She still needs Dawn to open the portals."

"Dawn's going to start medicine so she never bleeds again," Dawn said grimly.  "Be damned if I want to start a period and have one open."  She looked at the snickering Spike.  "What?" she said, then pouted. "I don't!  Remember, freakier things have happened to the group!"

"I know, nibblet."  He gave her a pat.  "Go back to bed."

She shook her head, looking at Angel.  "I know she didn't leave."

"No, she didn't," Sam said.  "She's hiding and making plans."  He pulled up the page, showing him.  "That's her vessel according to the Watchers."

Angel stared at him.  "Where have I seen him?"

Dawn looked then backed up, making Spike catch her.  "That's Mommy's doc."  She blinked, turning around.  Spike gave her a hug.  "Damn it, we were so close."  She looked up.  "You don't..."  Spike shook his head.  "You sure?"  He nodded.  "You sure he didn't kill her?"

"No reason for him to," Dean said.  "The stuff Sam found said that he might not know about her."  She relaxed at that.  "In this case, Fate sucks, not the demon."  She nodded, heading back upstairs.  He nodded for Spike to follow, getting a nod.  He looked at Angel.  "So, what can we do with your help?"

He looked at him.  "It's me, Wesley, who's a former Watcher, Gunn, who's part of a street gang that was hunting vampires when we met, and Fred, plus Cordelia but she's having issues right now.  I brought her up to see Xander because they used to date."

"Okay," Sam said.  "What's her issues?  Personal or battle?"

"She's a new seer," Angel told him.  Sam stiffened.  "Her visions are getting worse."

"They say that those who're fully human can die from them," Sam said quietly.  Angel gave him a long look.  He nodded that he was right, he was one too.  Angel sighed at that.  "It's something to talk about or at least research."

"Wes does that better than I do.  He was raised that way."  He straightened out his jacket when he saw Cordelia getting out of a cab and walking their way.  "There she is."  He opened the door.  "You okay?"

"I'm fine and the big dork will survive this time too."  She walked in.  "How did he get here?"

"Willow sent him away at the last minute so he'd find some help," Sam said, holding out a hand.  "Sam Winchester."

She shook it then grabbed her head.  "Damn it, I hate those.  Not as much pain."

"No I think you shared it," Dean said, watching his brother.  "Who?"

"Dad.  Bastard.  He's fine."  He picked up the phone to call him.  "We're facing a hell god in California.  Where are you?"

Dean took the phone, listening to it.  "Sorry, he has a headache."  He listened to him complain.  "We need to be here; someone from the slayer's team came to find us specifically to help.  Well, we could use some more troops, yeah."  His phone went dead and he looked at it.  "Tara!"

"Oops," Dawn called.  "Sorry, sneezed."

"Tomorrow you're doing nothing but magic practice," Dean called.  He plugged in the charging cord and hit redial.  "Sorry, the younger witch with us sneezed.  That's us.  Why?"  He smirked.  "That's also us."  He hung up on purpose this time.  "He's in Kentucky dealing with a poltergeist.  If he can get done and get here in time he will."

"Yay us," Sam said, going back to cleaning the weapons.  "If she's underground, have we found anything on the victims Tara and Dawn said she sucks the sanity out of?"

"I didn't know she was," Angel said, frowning some.

Cordy nodded.  "Yeah, she's got this fingertip suction thing," she said, shrugging a bit.  "I just saw it when I touched him."  She slapped Sam on the shoulder, getting a dirty look.  "I didn't need that much information."

"Not like I planned it."

"Don't hit my brother," Dean said calmly.  "Only I get to beat his ass."

She snickered.  "Dear, I'm tougher than you'll ever think of being.  If only because I nearly had a demon child by accident after going for a swim."  He shrugged at that.  "And I hunt with the great brooding one here.  I can handle angst for *decades* and still be perfectly coifed and manicured."

"I hunt demons, ghosts, and poltergeists.  I've been banged up so many times it's not funny."

She shrugged back.  "Who said that shows more than clumsiness.  It does in Xander."  She smirked at Angel.  "She's heading toward LA.  Her contacts said she might be coming to you."

"We'll get back there."  He looked at Dean.  "Head her this way?"

"Give us at least two days and warn us when she leaves," he agreed.  "Send who you can."  That got a nod and they left.  "Dawn's sister liked that?"

"Dawn's sister Buffy dated that, he was her first and most primal love, but he slips his soul," Dawn called.  "Went totally evil because they had the sex and smoochies."

"Eww.  I can't imagine sleeping with a vampire," Sam said quietly.

"Him, me, commando boy," Spike said as he came back down.  "Gonna knock her out.  Anyone mind?"

"Dawn, sleep.  You've got a long day tomorrow," Dean called.  He heard the huff but she got quiet so he guessed she was following orders.  He shrugged at Spike's amused look.  "Go tell her a bedtime story about her sister's last bad hair day."  Spike smirked, going to do that.  He looked at Sam.  "Anything else going on tonight?"

"Not yet.  Head back to bed.  I'll get you up in a few hours."

"You sure?"

"Go.  I'm still doing this."

He nodded, going back to bed for now.  He'd come down to finish cleaning the rest of the guns during his turn at watch.


Xander looked up as Sam walked into his hospital room.  "It'd be so much more cheery if I didn't have a roommate and I wasn't paying out the ass for stuff that's worse than a motel," he said in greeting.

"Get better faster."  He smirked a bit.  "Dawn's getting you a soda."

"The evil wenches of the white dresses said I can't have any," he said dryly.

Sam snickered.  "Is that going to stop you?"

"Hell no."  He smiled when Dawn came in, taking his bag of treats.  "I love you."

"Just don't try to date me or I'll go evil too," she said, kissing him on the forehead.  "How are you feeling?"

"Shitty."  He opened the candy bar and managed a whole bite before the nurse came in scowling.  "Bite me," he ordered firmly.  "I live on caffeine and chocolate.  I'm going to continue to live on caffeine and chocolate, even in here.  Besides, the jell-o's grainy and it sucks."  He ate another bite, looking at Dawn.  "I'd never date you.  Buffy would've minded."

"Good point."  She curled up on the foot of his bed.  "How's things other than the tv doesn't get sci-fi or any of the movie channels?"

"Eeh," he admitted, finishing the candy bar.  He watched his roommate hit the call button for the nurse when he pulled out the first soda.  He waved it and took a long drink, then sighed in pleasure.  "Less headache."  Sam snickered.  "Anyway, how's things going?"

"Decent enough.  We know the person who's after her now."  He pulled the visitor's chair over and closed the curtain.  Dawn concentrated but she still couldn't get Tara's shielding spell up.  Xander glared at the wall and it went up.   "We never heard that about you," Sam said plainly, giving him a look.

"Half of the problems I had when you found me was because Willow supercharged me when she sent me," he said quietly, taking another drink.  "I don't know much but I'm good at helping."

"You'll still be in here most likely," Sam told him.   Xander snickered and shook his head.  "They told her three more days.  We're thinking it'll in two.  Angel called last night to say she had made it to LA."

"While I'm sad that Angel will have a lot of people with even less brains than usual, yay him."  He stared at Sam.  "I'm getting out tomorrow.  One way or another."  The head nurse stomped in and moved the curtains.  "Mind much?" he asked dryly, giving her a look.  "This is my little sister.  She's worried about me."

"Your roommate keeps bothering us."

"That's not my fault.  He's a nark.  Let him nark or yell at him.  We already had this talk about how you're not changing me a whole lot."  She grimaced.  He finished the soda and tossed the bottle away with a grin.  "I do feel better now."

"They don't let you eat unhealthy things here," his roommate called.

"Then explain the slime that was masquerading as meat last night," Xander called back, giving the nurse a look.  "By the way, *what* is cooking?"  She went pale.  He sat up, holding out a hand.  "I'm the White Knight of Sunnydale,"  he said quietly.  "I'm hoping it's not dangerous?"

"No, she's not dangerous, Mr. Harris.  I promise you.  She did think you were one of hers.  That would also be why we knew caffeine was bad for you."

"Only if I gorge."

"Then he bounces," Dawn said loyally.  "The same as he does on chocolate.  Xander's not a ...something else," she said, glancing at the nosy roommie then at her.  "Now and then the something elses are drawn to him to date him, but he's not."

"I see."  She looked at him.  "Are you sure?"

Xander grinned and nodded.  "Have been all my life.  Unless you're going to claim I'm part elf or something that Rosenburg missed?"  She shuddered at that name.  "That's how I ended up in the desert, and why I'm so cranky recently.  Usually I'd be sucking up and trying to hit on the pretty nurses so they didn't stick me so hard."

She laughed.  "We'll see if you can leave in three days."

"Tomorrow," Xander said.

"If you're injured you'll be a liability," Sam said calmly.

Xander looked at him.  "No I won't.  I've been doing this now for a few years, Sam.  I'll ache afterward.  And hey, even the sunburn's gone now."  He grinned at him.

"Guys, we'll talk about it later.  Bring Dean in to go over the plan."  The nurse gave her an odd look.  "He planned graduation."  She shuddered and walked off, closing the curtains again.  Sam gave her a look.  "He did."

"Replanned, please."  He looked at him. "I'm going to be there to protect Dawn.  I don't care what you think, she's mine now and I'm protecting her, even if you guys don't like it.  I'll simply take one of the bigger things I had in storage and use it on her."

Sam shook his head.  "I'll bring Dean tonight, Xander.  You two can argue about it."  He nodded at that.  "Are you feeling all right otherwise?"

"I'm feeling invincible.  I even get to go home with the bottle of invincible pills.  Enough to last me for a week."  He grinned a manic grin.  He looked at Dawn again, making her shiver.  "How's Tara?"

"She's good.  Spike's okay.  He's doing his grieving in his own quiet way."  She leaned down to hug him.  "We wanted you there."

"I kinda wish Willow had sent herself and I had died."

She sniffled.  "Not me.  She'd be all pushy and mean."  She sat up, looking at him.  "Tara talked me out of raising them like I tried to raise Mommy."

"Good," Sam agreed, giving her a worried look.  "You managed it?"  She nodded.  "Zombie?"  She shrugged.

"She canceled it before it got that far," Xander told him.  "We knew she came up but nothing else."  He looked at Dawn again.  "We'll head together.  Even if I do have to sell the pretty bangs we'll head together.  Somewhere safer, somewhere calmer, and then I'm enrolling us both in self-defense lessons since I got on-the-job training and Buffy was short- sighted about yours."

"Dean's been teaching me," she told him.

"Good!  I like that.  Has he been making you eat since you're down to your sister's worried crack ho size?"  Dawn blushed and shook her head.  "What're we going to do when we get home?"

"Eat," she said, giving him a look.  He stared back.  "Yes, Xander."  He grinned.  He even pulled her down for a cuddle.  "Then what?"

"Then, we'll see what I'm able to do.  I might not be able to do construction work when I get out.  At least not immediately.  We'll figure it out."  She nodded, snuggling in.  He looked over at Sam, stroking her back until she fell asleep.  "How is she really?"

"She's calm.  She let go while you were in surgery."

"She had to be made to let go when her mother died.  They kinda went numb."

"I've seen that.  She's handling it well enough, Xander."

"Good."  He looked down at her then at him.  "Anything else I should know before I sign myself out tomorrow?"

"Stay an extra day," Sam said, standing up.  "I should get her home."

"Sit, tell me about what you've handled, Sam.  She needs the rest."  Sam sat back down and gave him a pretty comprehensive list.  Plus how long they'd been doing that.  "So, were you guys lost?"

"We had to make a sudden stop when a fanbelt broke," he admitted.

"Ah.  No wonder I didn't run into you sooner.  Or, like some things, Willow's aim was off.  She had a few accidents over the years.  Or I could've headed in the totally wrong direction."

"You would've run into another hunter in about another day," he admitted.  "She's a researcher though."

Xander shrugged.  "We've been mentored by a fired Watcher."  He looked down at Dawn then at him again.  "She wouldn't tell me.  Who's where?"

"Anya died in the hospital," he said quietly.  "Her back was severely injured.  The others fell at the battle."

Xander grimaced.  "Knowing Ahn, she was probably sure she couldn't have sex or make money anymore."  Sam gave him a horrified look so he held up a hand.  "Anya was a former vengeance demon.  When she got turned human her life started to revolve around those two factors.  She said more than a few times to kill her if she couldn't make money or have sex anymore due to her injuries.  Buffy agreed to if she got that hurt.  The pulling the plug part, not the killing her part."

"You dated a former vengeance demon?"  Xander nodded.  "Wow."

"Basically," he agreed with a small smile.  He gave Dawn a squeeze. "Is the Magic Box standing?"  Sam nodded.  "Did we leave anything?"

"Some things that Tara decided weren't that important.  The rest is in the back of the truck we're using."

Xander grinned.  "Then you did get some of my babies?"

"Most of them.  Some are in LA waiting on you."

Xander looked down at Dawn then at him.  "After this, I'm retiring.  I won't need most of them.  I'll find a good contact among the hunters so they can use 'em."

Sam grinned at him.  "We use a few suppliers."

"Good, after this is over with, put me in touch with them.  We'll set up somewhere with the rest of Giles' books."

"Won't the Watchers want them back?"

"Probably.  Who said I cared?" he asked dryly.  "Grand old Sunnydale tradition: the yearly wills are updated with who's gone, who's staying, and who's new on the Ides of March.  That way everything stays in the group until the last one falls," he finished more quietly.  "I'm her only family left now.  We're moving somewhere safer."

"We know of a few decent places, not too expensive, if you don't mind the Midwest," Sam offered.

Xander grinned.  "Not really.  Never made it there on my roadtrip after high school.  I got stranded in Oxnard."  He grimaced.  "Not the fondest of memories."  Someone patted the curtain then opened it.  "Officer.  How are you today?"

"I'm good, Mr. Harris, but we'd like something clarified for us.  Do you have parents?"

"Unfortunately.  They're drunken bastards who I'm not going to talk to, ever.  They have no hold over me, haven't been trying to declare me mentally unfit, anything like that.  Why?  Did they pull their DUI stunt on the way here to make fun of my injuries?"

"The guys who said you're supposed to be in their custody because you're insane did let them go out and drink.  They got into a bar brawl."

Xander snickered.  "I'm not insane."

"They have the paperwork to show that you are."

"Are they British?"

"One is, the local lawyer isn't."

Xander grinned brightly.  "They're the same group that led to the killing of the rest of Dawn's family by withholding information from us that could've protected her."  He groaned.  "They want her and they want to kill me.  After a suitable period of questioning of course.  See, those guys, they pick certain talented young women to train in a paramilitary operation as future warriors."  He sucked on his teeth for a second.  Then he grinned again.  "And I stepped in to help their chosen one who just died, Dawn's big sister Buffy."  The officer's eyes went wide.  "So yes, the Watcher's Council desperately wants things.  You can tell them if they don't quit I'm going to blow their asses up."

"The weapons you guys have in that truck?"

"Mine.  Our warrior's arsenal.  I wasn't about to leave it in Sunnydale for anyone to find.  Dawn's supposed to be protecting it for me with the guys who're protecting her for me."

"I see.  Are they legal?"

"Since you blanched, I'm sure you know what Buffy did?" Sam asked calmly.  The officer nodded slowly.  "Xander was on her hunting team."  The officer shuddered.

"We only went after the hunters, Officer.  That was our apocalypse arsenal.  It's going to others in the same business, not the Watchers though.  Once she's safe, we're done and retiring.  She needs a steady life."

The officer stared at him for a minute.  "You seem awfully calm."

"I've been doing this since I was sixteen and I'm on the invincible pills.  Of course I am.  Otherwise I'd stab my roommate for trying to eavesdrop."  The officer turned to look, then glared.  The other person got back into their bed.  He looked at him again and found that same grin.  "You know what?  Bring them to me please?  I promise they'll only need the ER when I'm done."

"That would prove their point."

"No, it would prove mine.  They're dangerous bastards," Xander told him.  "Have been for centuries and I upset their world's order and tidy plans for domination.  Pity."

The officer stared at him.  "How did you get into the desert, son?"

"Rosenburg sent me there to find someone to protect Dawn since they all fell in the last battle," he said quietly.

The officer winced. "Please don't bring it here.  We're a peaceful town."

"We're leading her out of town," Xander assured him.  "Give us a better place to hide and stuff and we will.  We've been trying to find a better terrain."

"I'll get that for you by tonight, including maps.  She okay?"

"She lost her mother a month ago and now her sister, her sister's best friend, her sister's mentor, and my ex-girlfriend last week.  No, she's not."

"I can see why.  Let me get with the boss, give you boys a better spot to protect her for now.  No one'll care what's in the truck.  Though, the gun thing.  I've seen less weapons on a military unit."

Xander grinned.  "Thank you."  The officer walked off shaking his head.  "Don't forget to tell them when visiting hours are.  I want to make sure the invincible pills work."  He looked at Sam.  "That work for you guys?"

"It will," he agreed calmly.  "We've been worried about too many people being around her and someone finding out."

Xander grinned.  "Good, you're a bit paranoid about her.  I like that."  He nuzzled her head, making her wake up.  "Hey, sleepy.  Go to bed."

"Am."  She curled up next to him again.  "Tired, Xander.  Cuddle?  You like cuddles."

"I do like cuddles and you give very good ones."  He nodded at the door and Sam nodded, heading out to talk to Dean.  He smiled, twitching his blanket over her too.


Sam walked in and Dean gave him a pointed look then outside.  "Where's Dawn?"

"Sleeping on Xander's shoulder."  He sat down.  "The nicest police officer came up to ask us about the very nice truck we have and about the Watchers who're trying to take custody of both Dawn and Xander."  Tara let something break in the kitchen then muttered as she cleaned it up.  "He and one of the nurses apparently have a clue.  The officer is helping us find somewhere more secure and out of the public viewing area at Xander's suggestion."

"Good idea," he agreed.  "Any other good news?"

"Xander said he's coming out tomorrow whether or not he's ready and he's helping.  I said we'd go see him tonight to talk about his invincible pills he'll be coming home with.  Then he said he's retiring after she's gone.  Selling some of it to set up a nice place."  He looked at Tara.  "I'm sure he meant you too."   She nodded, she knew that about Xander.  "Have you seen any Watchers, Tara?"

"Not yet but someone did follow you home."

"I saw them.  That's the nice police officer."  He got up to answer the door.  "Officer, nice to see you so soon."

He smiled and handed over a map and a few other pieces of paper.  "They still say they own the boy."

"The last time I knew, keeping slaves was illegal."  Sam grinned.  "Dawn's not here right now."

"Didn't figure she would be, son.  I did mention what we had seen when you guys unloaded all the guns.  They didn't look happy.  I think they think the boy's a bit violent."

Tara came out drying her hands off.  "Can you take me to them please?" she asked, smelling a bit like the brandy she had put into her peppermint tea a few minutes ago.

"I can do that but why would you want to see them?"

"Because they're displeasing me and dirtying Dawn's sister's memory, plus the memories of those who also died in the battle."  He nodded, leading her out to his car so he could take her over there.

"Ooh," Dean said, wincing and hissing.  "She's finally found her temper.  They're going to be in pain even if she is a pacifist witch."

"Dawn was saying in the car on the way over that next time she'd end the threat first.  I calmly reached over to smack her for it."

"Good!  We don't want her to go.  Just the bad things."  He took the map to look over.  "Looks like...woods?"

Sam came over to look, nodding a bit.  "Woods.  Cabin?"

"Cabin," Dean said with a grin.  "We can do that tonight."  Sam nodded, going to make sure they could repack everything easily enough.  He did call their main weapons contact.  "It's Dean.  I know of a guy who worked with a slayer who wants to retire and has some very nice, very large, very good weapons.  Too many for him to carry.  Yeah, Xander, how did you know?"  He smirked then snickered at the story of how they had met.  He thought only Sammy had luck like that.  "The slayer fell, Caleb."  His buddy shuddered.  "It's him, Dawn, Tara, and Spike now.  Yeah, he told Sam he wants to retire.  Let us deal with the Hellgoddess first and then we'll see what's left, okay?  I'm sure he would."  Sam came down the stairs nodding.  "He is going to sell?"

"At least the more impractical things to move with them.  I said I'd pass that around."

"Yeah, Caleb, he told Sam he was going to retire.  Thanks, man.  Needed the prayers.  Sure, be safe.  We'll see you soon.  Of course we can.  They went brute force.  I'm not that pushy.  Most of the time," he admitted at Sam's and Caleb's laughter.  "Anyway, see you soon.  You hear from our father, beat him for us?  Thanks."  He hung up.  "That might take care of some of it."

"I hope so.  He seemed like a nice guy but he had fierce bitch syndrome about Dawn."

"I'm sure she can use it," Dean agreed.

"He said he's going to sign them up for self-defense lessons since he got trained on-the- job."  Dean gave him an odd look.  "Dawn bragged you've been giving her some lessons."

Dean grinned.  "Of course she did.  I'm great."  He went back to the map.  The other pieces of paper made him laugh.  "One of these is a search warrant dated for tomorrow to search for any illegal contraband or weapons."

"Then we definitely need to move the truck tonight," Sam agreed.  "How hard of a ride will it be?"

"Probably not.  It's on the edge of the desert.  Looks like that last stand of trees before the desert starts really by the map."  He went to open the door when the Officer tapped, taking Tara back since she was shaking.  "What happened?"

"She lost her temper a bit," he said with a grin.  "There's a few new lizards there, a few frogs.  One really ugly sucker of a cat."  He shrugged.  "She kept herself from really hurting them.  I'm proud of her."  Tara ran off to get sick.

"She's a pacifist witch," Dean said quietly.

"A lot of 'em are, and lesbians for some reason.  I never understood that connection."  He shrugged.  "Any problems with that?"

"Scrub trees or real trees?"

"Real trees.  Good road though.  Should be easy to get your fussy car up it too, boys."   He tipped his hat and walked off, heading back to the office to report in.  Those boys obviously weren't new to the problems going on.  His boss was soothed by that and they had a small debate about calling the pound on the new pets but decided that was mean of them.  They let the hotel's manager call whoever they had called last to come pick them up.  It had been nice that she had spared the local lawyer that was working for them.  He was new in the field and still taking any case that walked in the door.


Xander looked up when someone he didn't really remember walked in.  "Hey," he said quietly.

"She sleep all afternoon?"

Xander shook his head.  "No, she woke up long enough to eat the lunch for me."  Dean grinned at that.  "It's good for her."  He looked down at her then at him.  "I don't care I'm still coming out tomorrow.  I'll be the last line of support but I'm not letting her face this alone.  We're family."

"I can agree to the sentiment but if you're slower because of your injuries...."

Xander shook his head.  "I've had worse and still went on patrol.  We didn't get much time off for healing."

"Okay," he said, considering that.  "Things were always that bad?"

"Now and then.  Bi-yearly apocalypses and stuff."  He grimaced.  "Smaller ones in- between.  It got annoying how often we had to stop something major instead of fledges rising."

"Okay, then we'll let you be there and protect her as a last line of support."  Xander grinned and he smirked back.  "You'll have to have weapons."

"Of course I do.  Unless you sold everything you brought to Caleb or someone already?"

"Nah.   You managed to get possessed right in front of him?"

Xander groaned.  "She only wanted a short chat.  Apparently I'm the double dog dare of the ghost world.  She slid in, giggled, kissed me, then slid out."  He watched the other guy gape.  "And from her I got a nice set of mental pictures of what having her three kids that were traveling with her was like.  Plus I got to call in a small tip about her husband's body being on the bottom of a lake."  Dawn shifted so he stroked her back.  "What do we know so far?"

"She'll be here in two days."

"That's good," Xander said.  "She needed somewhere higher up last time.  Not sure about this time.  Not with what Fred told Angel."

"We're expecting her to try it right then," Dean told him.

Xander nodded.  "Reasonable.  Have we scouted the new location?  Is it workable that way or not?"

"Sam drove the truck up there.  Spike stopped to get your car and I drove it over for you."  The guy grinned at that.  "Any idea if bullets will work?"

"Annoyance maybe.  I'm the only one of the crew that knew how to use guns.  Willow hated them.  Tara knows how but she won't.  Buffy went with the tried and true sword approach for the minions then fought her head-on last time.  She got her free then took a dive to stop the portal."

Dean nodded slowly at that.  "Why not use something to knock her down?"  Xander pointed at Dawn.  "Some of those would've only gotten her."

Xander held up two hands.  "They were this close together.  It was a rickety tower that her minions cobbled together.  It would've collapsed with Buffy and Dawn on it if I had used anything.  I thought about shooting her but Buffy told me it wouldn't do any good and Willow backed her up because it wasn't the slayer way.  You have to deal with the vessel."  He suddenly grinned.  "Oh, she's got a major hard-on about her clothes.  She beat her minions for letting her wear anything less than Gucci."

"A Gucci wearing Hell Goddess," Dean said, starting to snicker.

"With a 'tude like Cordelia about her clothes."

"That's one way to annoy her," Dean decided.  Dawn moaned again so he patted her on the hair.  "You've got another hour, Dawn.  Go ahead and rest."

"Can you tie her down and feed her tonight?" Xander asked.  "She hasn't been."

"Tara's made her eat something."

Xander snorted, shaking his head.  "Tara's tried to make her eat.  She's lucky to have eaten a few spoonfuls of food since her sister died.  They do that and get numb in grief."

"I can make her eat," he promised.  Dawn blinked at him.  "You've got another hour if you wanted it."

"No, 'm good," she mumbled, putting her head back down.  "Buffy said not to worry, it'll work because you're the bestest general she'd ever seen," she said in Xander's ear.  He gave her a squeeze.  "And Willow said to make fun of her like you would've Cordy.  It'll distract her."  She lifted her head.  "They're not going to come back this time are they?"  Xander shook his head.  "But, Willow said....."

Xander covered her mouth.  "I don't give a damn what Willow's ghost said, Dawnie.  They've earned their reward and we're not doing anything but calling them back to talk to them when you're having issues."  He stared into her eyes.  "That's cruel and you're not evil."  She nodded, putting her head back down.  "If they were vamps we might see but they're not, Dawnie.  I wish they were.  We could use a supercharged vamp Buffy."  He shifted some to hold her better.  Dean headed out to give them some privacy.  "Do not even think about it," he said quietly.

"Tara made me stop."

"With magic, thinking is enough, Dawn.  If you got warned, there was a reason.  I want you to grow up to be a witch like Tara.  Not making mistakes that turn me into a dog for a week of Willow petting."  She sighed but nodded.  "Understood?"  She looked at him and nodded.  "Good.  Any other matters get brought up?"

"Not to wear the blue dress and we were supposed to take all the stuff with us."

He stroked over her head.  "We'll go back to gather stuff when we're done with this, Dawn.  It's too dangerous until then.  We'll go in as a strike team to pack the rest of the shop, the house, all that stuff, then we'll leave and settle somewhere safer."  She nodded, putting her head down.  "What blue dress?"

"My friends and I went shopping and I found a great blue dress but Buffy said it was too short and I was too young to be out getting some."

Xander snickered.  "Okay, that makes some more sense.  Buffy was kinda a prude.  We'll see you in it and see how it looks."  She gave him an odd look.  "Dawn, I'm a realistic person," he said dryly.  "Especially after living with Anya.  You're at an age where you're supposed to be pushing some boundaries and trying to figure out which sort of boys you like.  Of course you're going to wear something trashy now and then.  It's my job to stop the worst offenders and make sure the better ones aren't so horrible that you'll be arrested for it.  Because if I have to bail you out of jail for wearing a ho outfit to a teen club, there will be spanking, even if your mother would've have agreed."

"Mommy would've beaten my ass if I got arrested for that," she said with a small grin.  "I'm allowed to date?"

"We'll see."  She nodded, putting her head back down.  "Now, what are we doing when we get home?"


"Eating," he corrected patiently.  She mumbled something and he spanked her.  "Tough."  She nodded against his throat.  "Good girl, Dawn.  Now...."  He looked around then at her.  "I hate this place."  She snickered.  Dean peeked in and he nodded.  "Map?"

"I copied it and left it in your glove box."  He stroked over Dawn's hair, getting a strange look.  "What?  You looked like you needed it.  It was sticking up."  He gave her a look.  "She's not doing too bad on the first week's lessons in hand-to-hand."

"Good.  When we move we're moving somewhere we can take lessons and there's less than billions of ghosts."  He looked at her.  "Any particular state you want to explore?"

"I don't care," she said weakly.  "Upstate?"  Xander gave her a look.  "What?"

"'Spensive," he reminded her.

"Oh.  Good point."

"You can travel back to visit their graves," Xander said gently.  "We'll make sure of it, Dawn."

She yawned and nodded.  "Then nearly anywhere would be okay?"

"Think about lower cost of living places.  Nothing too high brow, nothing too big city.  I've lived in Sunnydale all my life and I don't think I could handle somewhere like a real city."

She nodded.  "I'll look at a map tonight.  I'm sure they've got one."

"Yup, of most every state," Dean agreed.  He helped her off the bed. "Get one last hug?"  She did that.  "You're checking out when?"

"After my shower and breakfast.  I'll be there by noon."  That got a nod and they left together.  Xander settled in to try to watch some tv.  The cable here really did suck.  Nothing fun was on.

Dean got Dawn home and walked her into the kitchen, sitting her down in the chair.  "Tara made chopped steak," he offered.  "There's leftovers.  Sam defended a bit for you from me."  She smiled and nodded, taking the wrapped plate from the fridge to warm up.  "Want milk or soda?"

"Milk please."  He got her some and handed over the glass, getting his own snack.  "How long?"

"Day after tomorrow we think," he said calmly.  She nodded.  "Xander and I agreed.  He's your last line of defense.  Got it?"  She nodded at that.  "Good."  He looked over as Tara came in and hugged her.  "She had his lunch too."

"Hospital food is gross," Dawn told her.

Tara nodded. "It always was."  She stroked over her hair.  "Spike's fussy.  Can you calm him down tonight?"  She nodded, finishing her dinner so she could go help Spike calm down.  "What am I doing?"

"Trying to shield her," Dean told her.  "We'll be up there later tonight."  She nodded, going to finish getting them together.  Spike came down carrying Dawn.  "She hit her head?"

"Knocked her out.  She's fussing."  Dean nodded, finishing up and packing the food for Tara.  They'd need it anyway.  They piled into the Impala and headed up there, letting Spike settle her in for the night while Tara worked on some alert spells and wards for them.  Dean and Sam laid out the weapons where they'd do the most good.  That way they were in easy reach.  Though a few he had to trust were in working order.  Xander could check those when he got there tomorrow.


Xander walked into the small cabin, stopping to pet something.  "Poor baby.  But it's a good usage."  He flipped open the cases, frowning.  "Who scavenged parts, Spike?" he called.  Dean gave him a look then waved his hand.  "Anything useful?"

"Unfortunately we needed it for one of the other ones that Spike said the vampires scavenged for scrap metal."  He pointed and Xander went to look, groaning and fixing it while kneeling in front of it.  "How do you know artillery?"

Xander grinned back at him.  "Possession, how else?"  He finished it, turning it on.  It looked like it'd fire.  He got into the truck and came out with a different one, making sure by testing the reaction against the other's.  The non-fixed one was left out and the other went back into the truck with a tag on the masking tape Sam had been using on something else.  He checked the others, switching a few out for something more powerful, then flopped down on the floor, resting against a small pile of cases.  "Okay, I'm tired now."

Dean looked at him.  "Should've stayed in the hospital then."

Xander smirked back.  "Like hell.  I loathe hospitals."  He looked around.  "Dawn?"

"Tara.  Out back."  He nodded at that.  She'd be safe enough so far.  "How many times have you been possessed?"

"The group knew about the two main ones.  There's been a few small, few minute long ones since then."  He grinned.  "Like I said, I'm the double dog dare of the ghost world."  He looked around then up, then at him.  "It won't fall in if she does that roof thing."

"She can?" Sam asked as he came in.

Xander nodded.  "Can and has.  Nearly destroyed the Magic Box a few months back."  He looked around again then at Sam.  "What're we doing?"

"Assaulting her until she changes," Dean said.  "Then we break the vessel until it's dead."

Xander looked at him.  "Okay.  Works for me.  Do we know who the vessel is?"

"Dawn identified him as her mother's doctor," Sam told him.

"Wonderful.  Did we assure her he didn't have a thing to do with her mother's death?"  They both nodded.  "Good."  He glanced around again then looked at Dean.  "Is the wood soaked with something?"

"Was when we got here," Dean admitted.


"Not quite.  Should be fine," Sam said.  "You worked construction, right?"  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Any other structural weak points?"  Xander pointed up.  "The roof?"

"She's likely to rip it off.  Or go through a wall.  She's not big on doors unless she rips them off the hinges.  I did get told through Dawn to annoy the crap out of her about her clothes."

"Dean said you told him she had a thing about her clothes."  Dawn came pelting in and hugged Xander.  Sam grinned.  "Lunchtime?"

"No," she said.  "Break."

"Eat.  Something," Xander ordered.  "Now."  She sighed and got something to eat while she practiced with Tara.  "Thank you," he called after her.  He looked at Dean.  "Is it really hard to be a big brother?"

"Sam's not that difficult.  Not like a real girl most of the time."  Sam gave him that special look that said he'd kick his ass if he could do it.  He smirked back.  "Now and then."

"This means I'll have to watch her date too," Xander said dryly.   He shook his head quickly.  "Thankfully Tara can give good girl talks.  I had enough problems giving them to Anya."  He yawned.  "Have we seen any of her cracked out minions?"

"Not yet.  No sign of those knights either," Sam offered.

"I called LA.  Angel said he took care of most of them.  They're having serious recruitment issues."  They shared a look and he looked outside.  "She'll either appear or she's traveling in style.  She knows it's Dawn so she should be able to track her."

"She hasn't tried," Dean said.

Xander stared at him.  "She hasn't tried?"

"She went to LA because someone told her Dawn might be heading for Angel for protection," Sam said.

Xander stared then outside.  "Even I have the strength to do a tracking charm," he said quietly.  "I'm hoping this means she's injured."

"Did she change back to her vessel last time?" Dean asked.  Xander shook his head.  "That you saw?"

"She was still in full Glory mode when Buffy took the header.  The battle picked up but Glory was huffing and staying out of it.  Dawn was gone by them.  She had run.  Spike?"

"Truck," Sam told him.  "Sleeping under the tarp."

"What tarp?"

"That back section, he created a little cave," Sam told him.

"No wonder I didn't see him then."  He shrugged it off.  "Okay.  Do we have preliminary plans?"

"Toast her until she goes back to her vessel form then get him," Dean told him.

Xander nodded.  "What order are we going with the weapons?"  Dean shrugged.  "Do you know how to use most of them?"

"What I don't know I left out there."

"Decent.  The stuff I changed out?"

"I know."

"'Kay.  Then I'll take last line with a few things."  He got up to shift their placement around, putting his back in the kitchen area.  "Dawn and I'll be here.  No matter what she's more likely to come from the road.   Especially if she's not blipping around due to an injury.  I'll have Tara or do you want her fully gone and out of harm's way with Spike?"

"I'd rather have her back with you," Dean said, turning to look at him.  "That's not much stuff, Xander."  Xander pulled something out of his pocket and put it on top of the counter, letting him see it.  "You sure you want to go that far?"

"If I have to, I'll hand deliver it," he said bluntly.  "She's not getting Dawn.  Over my dead body.  It's got a three foot radius."  Dean nodded at that concession.  It meant they'd probably not be hurt.  "I'm sure it'll hurt her enough to go back."

"Fine.  If so we'll make sure Tara and Spike settle somewhere nice with her."  Xander grinned and handed over something.  "Your will?"

"We usually do them on the Ides of March," he said dryly.  "Willow picked the date since Buffy was one of the mightiest of slayers, like Caesar was."  Sam snickered.  "Now and then, Willow had pixie stick moments and got some strange ideas.  Once we're done with Glory I've got to take her back into town to pack our crap so we can head."  Dawn came running in.  "Rabid squirrel?"  She hid behind him.  "Dawn?"

"Time," she said.

"Inside," Xander ordered, opening a cabinet.  Tara came jogging in.  "With me or with her.  Hide."  She got down behind the counter while the guys opened cases and got ready for her.  She came through the side wall.  "Huh, I thought you would've come by the road to keep from messing up the...really expensive ugly ass dress you're wearing."

"I want my key," she snarled.  "NOW!"

"Bite me," he said, picking up a machine gun to open fire.   Dean and Sam went to work too.  Sam ended up focusing on her minions but that was fine with them.  Xander ran out of bullets first and moved to something heavier.  Fifty caliber rounds from the new gun were bigger, badder, and had explosive tips.  She was still sneering.  He put it aside and fired off a mini rocket, blowing her back outside.  "Well, that was something."  She stomped back in, making another hole in the wall.  "Hey, more work for my construction crew," he said dryly, firing off a second one.  This one she batted aside.  "Huh."  He pulled out something bigger, this time singeing her dress.  She shrieked in outrage so he stuck his tongue out.  "Stupid bitch, get some fashion sense!" he called over the firing the others were doing.  "Even Watcher-raised slayers look better than you."  She tried to advance but Dean had moved up to a more powerful rocket system too.  This one exploded and sent shrapnel out.  Xander's exploded and dented her, making her bleed.  Xander kicked off the next box down and grabbed the bottom one, firing it point blank at her abdomen and the bleeding area.  She screamed in pain and went down, still not changing back.  Xander dropped the bomb. "Run, guys," he called.  It exploded and she had to go back now.  She was much too injured.  The other guy was groaning, whimpering on the floor.  Xander stared at him.  "Pity."

"Xander, bless him first," Sam called.  "That way he's not cursed."

Xander looked at him then at him.  "Did you know?"  He moaned.  He kicked him on the side.  "Did you know!" he shouted.  He whimpered but nodded.  "Before or after she tried for Dawn the last time?"

"Before," he whimpered.

"That's all I need to know."  He shot him in the chest, making it a quick kill.  "No way I'm blessing him if he knew," he told Sam.   The body went to ash and he slumped.  "Okay."  He looked around at the mess then at the peeking people.  "Slowly, Tara."  She slowly came out and looked around then helped Dawn out.  Dawn turned away from the ash.  "Go outside, make sure it's safe, Dean?"  He nodded, going to do that.  Xander looked at the ash and said a final blessing over it.  Then he moved to clean things up, taking his next invincible pill when his side started to hurt.  Dean came back.  "She okay?"

"Crying on Tara."

Xander nodded.  "It's over with.  It's time to grieve," he agreed quietly.  He looked at him.  "Sorry if it upset you."

"Nah.  I've seen others.  It was a good reason, especially if he knew," he said, giving Xander the absolution he wanted.  Xander relaxed and nodded so he helped him clean up the mess.  "You're not going to have a lot to sell."

Xander looked at him.  "Dean, did you break into the stuff under the warehouse?"  He slowly shook his head.  "I didn't think Spike knew about that."  He smirked some.  "I also have a small detail I have to take care of back there.  I found a vamp with something *very* bad that they shouldn't have.  The military's going to freak out when I hand it back."

"In testing?"

"Biological thermonuclear warhead."

"Excuse me?"

"Sometimes the vamps want to end the world.  I don't know why since it'd make them just higher than the food and playtoys humans would be, but yeah, some do."  He shrugged.  "Go figure."  Dean gaped.  He grinned.  "Not the first time.  Even Angelus tried to end the world a few times."  He finished cleaning up.  Then he looked outside.  "It's three hours to Sunnydale?"

"Just under."

"It's two in the afternoon.  Want to hit it?  It'll be safe enough tonight most likely."  That got a nod.  "Dawn, we're heading home to pack!" he shouted.  "Now!  Hit the car!"

"Let me go to the bathroom first," she called, coming in to do that, stepping over a dropped weapon.  "Will we have any left?"

"Dawn, sweetie, of course we will."  He gave her a look.  "Like this was all my stuff?  Plus you'll have to make some decisions about the house and we'll have to make some decisions about Giles' stuff.  I called Wes.  He pushed through the probate since you're a minor and I was just getting out of the hospital thanks to the same incident that killed your sister.  It being Sunnydale....  We've got shit stored."  She nodded.  "Wes even had someone pack for us."  He beamed.  "Plus he said he talked to someone about your mom's house.  All the furniture's in storage too."

She looked at him.  "Where are we moving?"

"Pick a state."

"Dakotas all right with you?" Sam asked.  Dean gave him an odd look.  "Bobby could use the help and backup now and then.  He's getting older.  It'd give Xander backup if someone else came for Dawn.  There's a nice coven about twenty miles away.  I already warned him about Spike and Spike said it was fine, he could stay for a while then travel but come home often."  She shrugged.  Xander shrugged.  "Bobby said it'd be ideal since he's getting older."

"Okay," Dean decided.  "Any idea on houses?"

"Depends on his cash situation."

Xander beamed.  "Don't tempt me."  Sam gaped.  "Really."  He called someone from his  cellphone.  "Riley, my man.  You didn't come back for Buffy's funeral," he said in greeting.  "No, we just took out a hell god, Riley.  Buffy, Willow, Giles, and Anya are all gone.  I'm taking Dawn and Tara with me when I leave for the Dakotas.  I do have something your kind need to have instead of me selling to the average hunter however.  I don't know why but I found a thermonuclear warhead in Sunnydale," he said dryly when he complained about his stash.  "We're heading back now.  We'll be there by dusk.  Wesley packed everything so we're leaving again by dusk tomorrow night.  You come pick it up and pay for it or I'm selling the sucker."  He hung up.  "Come on, Dawn.  Let's head."

She snickered.  "You still hate Riley?"

"Hell yes.  If it wasn't for his band of merry Initiative idiots chipping vampires I wouldn't have had to tie Spike in a chair for weeks on end or watch him eat Lucky Charms with his blood."  He walked her outside.  "Tara!"  She came over from where she was finishing up.  "We good?"  She nodded.  "Good.  Car."  She took her that way while they got the rest of the stuff into the truck and Sam got in to drive it.  Xander got in to drive his car, noticing Tara was with Dean.  "Okay then."

"She wanted to talk to him about calming you down," Dawn said with a smirk.

He looked at her.  "It's the invincible pills.  They make me a bigger asshole than Angel.  I'm sure Willow warned her about the ones I had when I broke my arm."  He started the car and headed off with her while she laughed.


Xander looked at the guy walking up the porch stairs.  "Went to visit?"

"First thing.  Why didn't you call?"

"Buffy said we could deal with it," he said.  "It ended up being a 'not' situation."  He shrugged.  "It happened and she went the way she would've wanted to, saving Dawn."  He swallowed, glancing down then at him.  "We're moving to South Dakota tomorrow."

"I heard.  It's a safe area."


"Dawn.  They were there too."

"I thought it'd be a good idea."  That got a nod.  "So.  I'm sure you went to check the old warehouse?"

"Where did you find that?"

"Mugged the vampires.  Mugged the mayor's stash.  The local reserve base now and then but we used most of it when we went off on Glory."  He shrugged.  "Here and there."

Riley sat beside him on the porch railing.  "We need to confiscate the worst things."

"Pay me a reward?"

"I can do that and coverup how you found them.  Put it under our classification.  The CIA will wonder.  So will Homeland."

Xander looked at him.  "I dusted their agent that came out and got vamped, Riley.  We made sure to tape it first and send the tape with his badge and gun back to his boss in your name."

"Gee thanks.  Wondered why they were giving me odd looks last time."

"Apparently someone knew?"

"Yeah, quite a few of the higher ups know."  He looked at the people inside the house then at him.  "Your elves?"

"Willow sent me to them to help me protect Dawn."  He shrugged.  "They're good men doing the same job for a good reason."

He nodded.  "Think they want to join the team?"

"Ask them not me.  We only met recently."  He stood up.  "Want the biological weapon we found too?"

"Um, yeah," he said dryly, giving him a look.  "Anything that the FBI would create a panic for, Xander."

"Fine, spoil my fun.  I'd better get a very nice reward."

"Fine."  He went to the warehouse with him to sort things out.  "The rest?"

"Other hunters.  We'll be meeting up with one there and auctioning through them."

"As long as it doesn't get into terrorist's hands," he said dryly.

"Hell no!"  He gave him an impish grin.  "I had Tara charm them to not work if they had ill intent toward humanity or a city."

Riley snickered, staring at him.  "Invincible pills as Buffy called them?"

"Yes.  God they're nice."  That got a knowing look.  "They are.   They run out in a week.  I'd like to have us moved by then."

"You probably will."  He finished separating out what they needed.  "Get the rest stored somewhere else."  Xander did something and the rest of the stuff hid.  He had to move one of his back into the area around him so it wasn't hidden as well.  "Cute."

"Willow owed me."  He smirked meanly.  "Where are her parents?"

"Not a clue," Riley admitted.  "I noticed they weren't home."

"Haven't been in over a year."

"Interesting."   He called his superior.  "Sir, it's Finn.  I am with Harris.  He does want a reward.  He's retiring to guard Buffy's sister and be a resource link, sir.  Sir, somehow someone brought a nuclear warhead to Sunnydale," he said bluntly.  His boss whimpered.  "He said he wants a reward or he's selling it to other hunters as a trophy."  He nodded.  "South Dakota, sir.  Exactly.  Thank you, sir."  He hung up.  "You're a Toyota, as Buffy used to say."

"I wanted, I got it," Xander said with a grin.  "Enough for a lifetime supply of chocolate?"

"Don't make me turn you in as a threat to humanity."  He walked off to get his guys to finish loading their stuff into the truck.  "The boss'll be in LA in two hours, Xander," he called a minute later.

"I'll be packing the two trucks," he called.

"Sure."  He went to tell him that and that they'd protect him when he came to Sunnydale in the morning.  "Ten."

"Sure.  Make sure I'm up.  We're at my place since it was furnished and not given up yet."

"That's fine.  Same place?"


"See you then."  He walked off, going to guard those things once they were outside Sunnydale city limits.

Xander finished up, petting the pretties.  He smiled.  "We'll save some of you for extreme moments.  Bobby might like a prezzie."  Xander finished hefting stuff out to the truck a few hours later, then went to get a soda for a break.  The vampire trying to steal the truck when he got back got staked but that was usual in Sunnydale.  He might even miss it some day.


Xander got out of the truck he was driving, staring at the old house in front of them.  "Perfect," he said fondly.  "I can update to my heart's content."

"Does that mean I won't have a working shower?" Dawn asked.

"I'll do those first if so," he promised dryly.  Everyone else parked and Tara floated in the furniture they had agreed was coming with them.  The weapons truck Spike had been driving with magical support so he wouldn't burn up was parked and locked up for now.  Everything else was put inside.  Xander got the three things he wanted when he heard a truck, going out to meet the other guy they'd be working with.  "Hi.  Xander Harris."

"Bobby Singer," he said, shaking his hand.  "Nice grip."

"Construction and sword work."  He nodded.  "Wanna join us?"

"You invite people in?"

"You had a pulse and you're warm.  Besides, the boys vouched for you."

"Good, you're a bit paranoid too," he said with a smirk.

Xander grinned.  "Of course.  I've got a teenager in the house."  He gave him a look and got a laugh back.  "Oh, Dawn is fashionable.  Fair warning."  He walked him inside.  "Guys, company."  He got him something, handing it over.  "Here, a welcoming us to the circle present."

He looked at the large wooden case, opening it to find a short sword inside.  "That's beautiful work, boy."  He pulled it out.  It was strong, yet a bit on the lighter side.  "Girl's weapon?"

"Nah, it's a demonic metal that's nearly unbreakable unless it hits silver or water."  He smirked at him.  "Came in handy now and then around Sunnydale.  It hums when a higher demon is nearby."

"Even better."  He put it back and closed the case gently.  "Thanks, I like that."

Xander grinned.  "Dean thought you might.  Tara, Dawn!"

"I just got her to sleep," Spike called.  "Had to dose 'em both, whelp."

"Thanks, Spike."  He shrugged.  "Sorry.  Tara decided to do the witchy moving thing instead of making us heft and tote.  She said it wasn't fair to make us sweaty."  Bobby snickered.  "Want something to drink?  Sam was making stuff."

"Sure, wouldn't mind."  He went that way, going to help by lacing things with holy water.  The blond guy that came in gave him an odd look but got his own drink from the fridge before walking off.  "That him?" he asked Sam, who nodded and smirked.  "He's a bit odd looking."

"Spike's a punk vampire.  Has been since last century sometime.  One of the former Scourges of Europe."

"He was helping a slayer even though he was that bad?"

"Buffy and he were doing the deed," Dean said from where he was eating.  He ate another bite.  Xander came in.   "Why does Spike help you guys?"

"Government chip," Sam told him.  Xander gave him a look. "Dawn told me."

"Riley and his merry group were part of a band of idiots known as the Initiative.  They wanted to recruit demons into the military.  Chipped the vampires so they couldn't harm them or any other human."  Bobby whimpered at that.  Xander beamed.  "And then he and Buffy started to have sex."  That got a moan from Dean and a head shake from both him and Sam.  "She's probably complaining somewhere in the afterlife but we'll deal with it if she tries to haunt us."  He looked at Bobby, taking his beer to sip.  "Wow, you make the holy water stronger than I do."  He took another drink and walked off.  "I'm going to see what I need to work on first outside of painting for Dawn's pleasure.  Go browse the library for a few after you get done giving my back funny looks."

Bobby looked at the boys.  "He is sane, right?"  They nodded.  "You sure?"

"He's mourning but yeah.  We heard that he's a bit on the fun-loving side most of the time," Dean said.  "He's a weapon's nut.  The other truck is full of stuff.  Caleb said he'd look at it next week to see what he could sell for him."

"I still want to know why a vampire stole a nuclear warhead," Sam said dryly, handing Bobby a sandwich.  "He gave it back to the military," he said at his friend's look.  "They gave him a nice reward. That's why they bought this place."

"I'd hope so.  They able to explain it?"

"He gave it to that Riley guy," Dean said with a smirk.  "He knew.  They're hunting demons for the UN now that their project was disbanded.  Offered us a sweet salary to help."

Bobby shook his head quickly.  "You did tell them no?"

"Sure did, and then told them to find Dad and ask him," Dean said with a bright grin. "He's used to military stuff."

"He's going to beat you senseless for that," Bobby said with a small smirk.

"Maybe but oh well.  Lighten him up some."  He stole a few chips to nibble on, watching the doorway.  He saw someone sneaking toward the door and went to stop her.  "You're going where?"  She squeaked and turned to beat him.  "We need to help you with that too?" he asked dryly.  She pouted.  "Dawn?"

"No.  Xander said I'd be taking lessons."

"Good.  You could use them to beat off the asshole boys."

She gave him a look.  "Buffy said that's not that hard when we had a talk about the sex."

Dean snickered.  "Not really, no, but I'm not having that talk with you.  Ask Tara."  He walked her into the kitchen.  "Dawn Summers, this is Bobby Singer.  He's a good friend of ours and about as close as our circle comes to a Watcher.  Bobby, this is Buffy's little sister Dawn."

"Hi," he said, shaking her hand.  "You're taking lessons for what?"

"Buffy didn't want me to learn self-defense.  Xander learned on the job since Giles wouldn't train anyone.   He said we're both taking lessons."

"There's a nice dojo next town over," he said with a small smile.  "Local high school's close to there too."

"That's fine.  Is it a high prep area?"

He looked at her.  "It's been a long time since I've been in a school, Dawn."

"So you guys don't have to go in to handle vampire attacks inside the school on parent- teacher night or ghosts that come to possess students or students killed mysteriously or things like that?" she asked, looking confused.  "Wow.  That's ...going to be really strange not to have around."

Xander snickered as he walked in.  "Before anyone can ask, they built the Sunnydale school system over the hellmouth's field.  The high school's library sat on top of it.  So of course the Watcher that was working with us, Rupert Giles, came in as the librarian.  We spent a lot of time in the library working on things."

"He is *not* allowed to date anything," Dawn told Bobby.  "If he does, splash it with holy water or stake the damn thing.  He only dates evil things."

"Anya wasn't evil when she was human," Xander said dryly.  "Cordy is still human and only mean."

She gave him a look then shook her head.  "No, uh-uh.  If you date I'm *so* asking Dean to kick your ass, Xander.  Buffy and Willow told me *allll* about your love life."

"I was good with Anya.  Besides, she decided I was hers and then jumped me and moved in.  The sex was nice but hey, I nearly married her."

She gave him a look.  "Buffy would've stopped you.  Anya may've been a *former* vengeance demon but really!  No dating unless you turn gay and date Sam or Dean!"  She looked at Bobby.  "You'll stick up for me in this, right?"

He scratched his forehead under his ball cap's brim.  "He dated a former vengeance demon?"

"Over women scorned.  Took me nearly a year to get the point that talking about her former job did not turn me on as much as it did her."  Xander grabbed a sandwich to hand to her.  "Eat, girl."

"Oh, shut up!" she said, hitting him on the arm.  He smacked her on the head.  "Ow!  Don't mess up the hair!"  He gave her a look so she shrank down some and nibbled.  "Yes, Xander."

"Thank you, Dawn."

Bobby snickered.  "You two're gonna be fun to work with."

Xander grinned.  "I try to make many things fun.  It's better for me if I can joke and laugh."

Dawn looked in the cabinet to find his pill bottle then dumped them down the sink's drain and ran water.  "No more invincible pills for you.  They turn you into an asshat."  She ate a bite while Sam and Dean both snickered at that.  "Don't they?"

Dean nodded.  "Just a bit."

Xander grinned.  "Haven't had any for a day, thanks though."  He took Sam's sandwich to eat.  "Thanks, Sam."   He looked at Bobby.  "Did you see the library yet?"

"Not yet."

Xander smirked. "Ye Olde Sunnydale Tradition number twelve:  the yearly updating of the wills on the Ides of March."  He watched as Dawn snickered.  "Wes only sent a few books back with the Watchers who came to kill her and me."  He took Bobby that way.  "I have a very liberal lending policy.  Don't get the chinese food on them.  Or the pizza.  Or the soda or beer.  Make sure I get them back sometime."

Bobby looked at him.  "You guys nibbled while researching?"

"Yeah, it's how we rolled," he said with a small grin.  "Research parties, nightly patrols, Buffy ducking patrol now and then for dates.  Sometimes pouncing Spike in the middle of it before going to sex bait in the club.  Getting Willow to do her homework."

"You gonna be all right?"

Xander gave him a look. "We've been doing this since I was sixteen, Bobby.  I accepted long ago I was going to end up missing them either by me dying or them dying.  I came to terms with this a long time ago," he said more quietly.  "Dawn needs to grieve.  I'll remember them but grieving has gone past for me."  He nodded.  "Tara could probably use a shoulder now and then.  She and Willow were nearly soulmates."

"The local coven's real nice.  They'll welcome her and love on her until she feels fully mothered."

"Good.  Her own stepmother was a bitch.  Her daddy too."  He gave him a look back.  "Buffy ran them off before she turned them into ogre pretzels for Tara."

"They ever come back?"

"No and I'll have some weapons even after I get rid of most of them.  It won't be a problem.  We got *real* handy with body disposal in Sunnydale.  Not all demons went to ash or goo," he said at the odd look.  "We had to learn a bit of demonic chemistry and biology over the years to make sure they dissolved somehow.  So, how bad is the local high school?"

"It's pretty nice.  Lawrence is a small town.  Some farming families.  She'll be the most fashionable one there."

"As long as she doesn't turn into Cordelia it'll be fine," Xander promised with a small grin.  "If she does, I get to beat her ass when she starts to gather sheep to order around."  Bobby laughed.  "She did.  She's my ex too.  The seer for the Champion of the Powers That Be."

"Damn, boy.  You didn't date normal did you?"

"In Sunnydale?  It was more likely I'd find a demon than a girl, Bobby.  There's more of them there.  Fortunately the new slayer's not that bad.  A bit mouthy.  A bit tough.  Lost her Watcher on purpose already.  We gave her maps of our hunting routes, showed her where everything was.  Told her to make her own decisions instead of letting the Watchers Council do it for her.  Gave her Angel's number if she needed help.  She'll be fine.  Faith gets out of jail soon too so she'll be getting some help.  We're a phone call away if she needs us.  Her Watcher finally found her and went on a tantrum snit but Dawn kicked his butt so he whimpered and went crying to Travers, who sent a real field Watcher instead of a research guy.  That guy's former British military.  A paratrooper.  He and I talked; I pointed out why Buffy had been so good.  He agreed.  He took all our notes and paid attention.  She'll last for a while we think."

"Good.  You able to settle down?"

"I was before.  I haven't had a vacation in years.  I tried to take a roadtrip out of town for graduation and I ended up stranded in Oxnard stripping for car repair money."  They shared a look.  "Yeah, went over well with the girls.  Anyway, I've been pretty well doing this straight for *years*.  Thank you for letting us have a vacation and a reduction in duties."

"Welcome, kid."  He patted him on the arm.  "You know anything about possessions and devil's traps?"

"Possessions?  Yeah, I'm the double dog dare of the ghost world apparently.  I've been possessed a whole lot."  Bobby gave him an odd look.  "Mostly ghosts.  Though there was that one halloween when the costumes took over thanks to a chaos sorcerer."  He grinned.  "We deal with alllll sorts of strange stuff.  I'll learn your version of the more normal strange stuff."

"Good.  We could like that.  Hopefully your sort won't follow you."

"Only Spike.  Ethan might show up for something of Giles' but that's easily handled for now.  It's out in the truck too."  He grinned.  "In the front seat."  He patted him on the back. "What do you think about green in here?  A light green shading towards blue?"

He looked around.  "Might be a bit dark with the wood."

"I was thinking throw rugs too."  Bobby gave him an odd look.  "I've only hung out around girls for *years*, Bobby.  I had one male friend and one female friend.  The male friend got vamped Buffy's first night in town and I had to stake him back in tenth grade.  Since then it's been Buffy and Willow with Brit things from Giles.  All I've had are girls."

"Can you fix a car?"


"I can teach you that, Xander."

Xander grinned. "Okay.  I'm good at hands on stuff.  Think that green or a blue?"

"Let's find the rugs first."  He walked him back to the kitchen, smiling at the tiny blonde woman in there.  "Howdy."

"H...hi," she said shyly.

He gave her a squeeze on the shoulder.  "Don't you ever be scared of me unless you're an evil thing, girl.  You understand."  She blinked then nodded slowly.  "Good.  Now, you quit that right now.  I've got the address of the HP of the local coven for you since I'm assuming you're Tara?"  She smiled shyly and nodded.  "Good girl.  We'll go over later.  She can bring you back out here later tonight after she introduces you."

"Da...Dawn ...." she started.

Dawn snorted.  "Oh, no.  You're not using me as an excuse.  We're both going.  Xander made that *real* clear."

"Hell no I don't want you to have a period and go on a world destroying hormone rampage," Xander said bluntly.  "You're both going.  Dawn is going to get control.  Dawn is going to get self-defense lessons.  If Dawn complains, Dawn will be grounded or spanked.  The same as I will do to you, Tara.  You need to make new friends and heal too.  They can help you do that more than I can.  So go.  Shoo.  Send Bobby back for dinner when you're there."  He grinned at Bobby.  "Thank you. Think they want Giles' old grimoire from when he was Ripper and doing bad things?  I don't want it around here."

"Rayne already stole it," Spike called from the living room.

"Okay.  How about his one from more recently?" he asked with a grin.  "I believe in welcoming presents."  Tara blushed.  He swatted her on the head.  "Don't make me channel Willow again."  She 'eeped' and went to find the book, taking Dawn with her.  "Thanks, Bobby.  I'll get the address later.  Come back for dinner?"

"Sure.  I can do that."  He smiled, walking the ladies out to his truck. "They're real nice, girls.  I've known a few since I was a boy Dean's age."  Dawn grinned at that. "Yes, I was his age once."

"Even my mother was my age once, Bobby.  Depends on what you did then as to whether or not you were cool way back when."

He laughed, giving her a look.  "I had my moments.  Cool had a whole different definition.  You think Xander would do any good working on cars?"

"Please teach him guy things?" Dawn begged once they were inside the truck.  "Willow and Buffy warped him *horribly*!  They even made him go shoe shopping with them.  No non-gay guy should *ever* be able to talk about to talk about the Paris runways shows.  He could.  So unless he starts to date Sam...."

"Dean would mind that," Bobby assured her.  He started the truck and backed down the driveway, taking them to the local coven's high priestess.  She was out on her porch waiting on them when he got there.  He smiled as he got out.  "Expecting us sooner?"

"I felt a spike in the local magic.  Dear, the younger one, do you not know what a shield is?"

"I haven't been alive that long and my sister didn't want to let me learn.  Tara's just started to work with me.  I'm trying really hard."

"We can work on that with you, dear.  Make sure you get good control."  She smiled at the other one.  "Hi."


She gave the girl a look.  "You're a Maclay aren't you?"  Tara swallowed and nodded.  "Then I knew your Ma when she was a young thing, before she took up with that asshole she married to have you with.  Get your tail up here, girl, and hug your godmother."  She came up to give her a hug.  "Ooh, welcome home, child."  She hugged Dawn too.  "You too.  Bobby, where'm I dropping them off?"

"Taylor farm.  They're with Dawn's guardian, Xander Harris, and a vampire named Spike."

"I've heard of him."

"He loved my sister," Dawn admitted.  "He's helping protect me."  She looked at Bobby, pulling him aside to hiss in his ear about something.

He stared at her.  "The boys told me."

"I thought they might."

"I trust her to help us, Dawn.  She can know.  She won't tell the others if they don't need to know.  I don't go near those I don't trust."

She nodded, smiling at the curious older woman. "I'm the Key."  Tara gave her an odd look.  "Might as well say it and get it over with.  Not like she won't find out.  This way we can make sure I won't do anything too stupid and Willow on a magic binge."

Tara gave her a hug.  "I'd spank," she said quietly.  Dawn sniffled, nodding against her shoulder.

"We've heard of Willow, girls," the older woman promised.  "Now, let's get inside where it's cooler.  Bobby, want some tea?"

"Us guys are gonna get to know each other better over dinner.  Send 'em back or call and one of us will come pick 'em up.  You might wanna check Harris too.  He's a bit odd but they were in Sunnydale and he sucked up some of the energy too."  She nodded at that, taking her new witches into the house to get to know them better while she made dinner and got the rest of the coven over.  Bobby, well, he needed to unwarp that boy.  Before he got gaybashed or something and ended up beating someone to death for trying him.  He could use the boy as backup while he did it; it'd benefit everyone to have the boy be straighter.




Xander smiled as Dawn came over in her graduation robe.  "It's neat, I didn't have any flashbacks today," he said.  "I'm very proud, Dawn."

"Thanks, Xander."  She gave him a hug then the others who had come for it.  Dean smirked at her, playing with her honor's tassel.  "I know, I proved I have a Sam sized brain so now I have to use it."

"Yup," Xander agreed.  "Now all you have to do is tell us which one you're going to.  I know Sam pushed for Stanford and I wanted you closer."  They walked outside together, going back to the cars.  "So?"

She beamed at Sam.  "You win."  He squealed and hugged her, spinning her around.  "Hey!  Couldn't eat breakfast," she complained, swatting him gently.  He put her down with a grin. "Thanks, Sam."  She gave him another hug.  "Sorry, Dean.  I know you lost the bet you had with Bobby."

"That's okay.  You'll do good there, Dawnie."  He tweaked her ear.  "So, lunch?"

"Lunch," she agreed.  They piled into cars and headed back to the farm.  She frowned when she saw someone on the porch.  "Um, Bobby?"

He frowned.  "What's he doing here?"  He got out once he had parked.  "John?"

"Bobby.  They said to come see you here for some reason."  Dawn got out of the truck.  "She's cute.  Granddaughter?"

"No," Dawn said, giving him a look.  She looked back at Xander and Tara.  "We have visitors."

"Did he break in and break Tara's wards?  Because if so we should probably start the trip to the ER now," Xander said dryly, getting out and walking over.  "Hi, you are?"

"Our father," Dean called before parking.  He got out.  "Hi, Dad."  Sam got out and nodded too.  "Here to celebrate Dawn graduating?"

"Is that why we're having a meeting?" he asked dryly.

Dawn smirked and nodded.  "Yeah.  Of course it is.   We solved the other problem last night in the finest Sunnydale fashion, even if Bobby did groan a lot."  John Winchester gaped in horror at her.  She smirked.  "Hi, Dawn Summers and this is Xander Harris, my guardian and Bobby's helper."  He moaned.  "That's Tara behind us."

"Morning," he said politely to them.  "Sons, got your call?" he said dryly.

Dean looked at him.  Then at Sam.  "You called?"

"No.  I called afterward in case he heard you got the hell beaten out of you again."  He shrugged. "He's fine, Dad."   He walked past Dawn.  "Come on, let's let them talk."  She nodded.  "What're you going to study?  Are you living off campus?"

"Not the first year.  They won't let me.  I did take your dorm suggestion to heart and asked for that dorm and a private room."  She beamed at him.  "Think I'll like it?"

"I know you will, Dawn.  I did.  I loved Stanford."  He put an arm around her shoulders as they walked inside.  Then he yelled.  "Spike!  Put on some damn clothes!  No one wanted to see you do that today!"  The pale vampire ass ran down the stairs to his basement apartment.  "That's so gross."

Dawn got the lysol and went to spray the couch and flip the cushions, then put a throw cover over it.  "There, better.  No more vampire butt germs on it."

Xander leaned in. "He was doing what?"  She turned up the tv so he heard the groaning.  "Spike, I'm going to stake you!" he shouted.  "Turn that shit off.  You don't need to watch pornos with the incubus you helped us defeat.  I know he taught you things your mother would scream about."  He shut the door.  "Sorry, Spike's back," he called.

"What was he doing?" Bobby asked.

Xander looked at him.  "Dawn lysoled, flipped the cushions, and put a sheet over the couch."

"Good of her."  He walked past shaking his head.  "Lunch, Xander?"

"In the fridge.  All it needs is pulled out.  If it's ruined, I'm going to stake him the Vlad way this time."  Bobby snickered, going to check on lunch.  He grinned at Dean.  "You mind if he joins us?"

"It's fine with us, Xander."

"Okay.  Then you can join us for our celebratory lunch if you want.  Dawn and Sam'll be heading off to the coven celebration picnic later.  They've got another girl who just graduated too."  He led them inside to he kitchen.  "He nibble?"

"Only a few things."  They finished putting things out while Tara went to chew him a new one.   "We're sending her with a kit, right?"

"I've already got the footlocker made up.  It'll fit under her bed if she has a roommie.  Tara did the magic to hide the weapons from normal people so even snoopish ones won't find it.   I've already supplied a small handgun, ten stakes, a crossbow with bolts, a short sword, a katana, six knives of varying sizes, including one that'll fit in a formal purse or in her bra, and it does lock."

Bobby laughed.  "That's fine.  We can put in a few more guns and some rock salt and stuff."  He saw John's odd look.  "She'll need it at Stanford.  There's been some vampires recently."

"Not anymore," Sam said dryly.

"She's a hunter and a witch?" John asked.

"Her sister was a slayer," Dean told him.  "Who didn't want her to train but oh well.  She's got enough training to handle it in case something happens."

Dawn walked back in wearing normal hip hugger jeans and a cute t-shirt.  "The Council sent a letter to me," she announced.  She opened it, sitting down at the old table Xander had found them.  She giggled.  "Oh, my god.  Sam, they offered me a *job*!"  She leaned against him while she laughed, letting him have the letter.

"It a trap?" Bobby asked.

Dean read over his shoulder, shaking his head.  "Probably not.  It says she's got the training and knows how hard a slayer's life is.  That they'd like to offer her a position in their training program."  Dawn burst out in a new peal of laughter.  "I'm guessing that's a no?"

"Considering they tried to kill her last year?  Yeah, that's a no," Xander said.  He opened up the basement door.  "Hey, Spike, Travers offered Dawnie a spot as a trainee Watcher."  He burst out swearing and something broke.  "Don't make me fix anything important please."  He closed the door again.  Then something down there exploded.  "Tara!"

"Ooops.  It was only the couch."

Xander and Bobby shook their heads.  "So, can I send them something shiny, bright, and 'splosive this time?" Xander asked.  "Please?  I'll be a good boy and I won't send it through the mail.  That way we don't have to magic any agents into ignoring us."

"No, Xander," Bobby said dryly.  "You can't blow up the Watcher's Council.  They might have to move here.  We'd hate that and you'd be miserable once you had killed them all."

"Don't like the stuffed shirts in England?" John asked.

Xander grinned.  "I used to hunt with Buffy.  Hell.  No."  Dean and Sam both snickered. "They were here on injury leave last year when the Council tried for Dawn.  Dean's still giving me bad looks for blowing them up then."

"I think it was a bit much," Dean reminded him.  "After all, Dawn had already turned them into demons.  Why give them such an easy way out?"

Xander smirked at him.  "Because it'd be mean to make their own people hunt them.  The same as it would be to make your friends hunt or banish you."

"True, but it still fit their crimes better."

"I was all for sending them to a hell dimension," Xander reminded them. "Tara stopped me."

"I know," Sam said, patting him on the back.  "You'd think they would've learned by now."

Xander smiled and grabbed the phone, calling over there.  "Quentin Travers please?  He'll know.  Dawn's guardian."  He grabbed a strawberry from the plate to nibble.  "Travers, it's Harris," he said calmly.  "You're trying to recruit Dawn after last year when you tried to kill her?  Did you guys not learn your lesson?"  He smirked at his blustering.  "Yeah, we have the letter here, Travers.  Exactly," he agreed dryly.  "No, I don't think she will and I think if it's suggested again she's going to send Spike or let me send the whole Council's building to a hell dimension.  Well, Willow *did* contaminate me with her magic when she sent me away, Travers.  I *do* have Giles' books, including the ones from his rebellious past."  He ate another bite of the strawberry, smiling some.

"Of course we'll understand if you withdraw the offer.  I know Dawn's going to do phenomenal at college.  I'm sure you're going to make sure she's never bothered again.  Aren't we?"  He finished the strawberry.  "Thanks.  Means I don't have to prove my point again.  Stanford.  Why?"  He snickered.  "No, I'm not moving.  She's perfectly able to destroy anyone who comes near her all by herself.  We'll be doing pop inspections.  I might send Spike out with her, but she'll be fine.  Thanks for making sure of that.  Of course I'll give her your best wishes on her future career.  You have a good day too."  He hung up and grinned.  "Dawn, they're very sorry someone didn't realize about that incident last year as Travers called it.  They're going to make sure that you're left alone at Stanford and he hopes you find a career that makes you very happy."  She gave him a hug.  "Though if you want, I can send Spike with you.  Not really a problem on my part."  He grinned.  "That way you have someone there to talk to until you can make a lot of new friends."

"You can both *visit*.  I'll accept visits and cookies."  She gave him another hug.  "Thanks for not destroying them this time."

"They do important work, even if I do want to beat them all."  He kissed her on the head.  "Finish pulling out lunch, dear."  She went to do that.  He called down the stairs.  "It's nearly lunch, people.  Travers has reconsidered his offer and *knows* Dawn is going to be safe at Stanford.  Spike, she said you could move that way if you really wanted to, as long as she got cookies now and then."

"I said visit!" Dawn said loudly enough for the vampire to hear her.  "Not live.  Visit.  I can't date with Spike growling at the hotty college guys."

"I think that's the point," Bobby said dryly.

She poked him on the side.  "Behave.  I like boys.  We should all be happy that I found out I like boys and the incubus who wanted to keep me didn't get to."  She finished pulling out food and drinks.  "There, food!"   Spike and Tara came up the stairs to get their plates and they sat around to eat and chat, getting to know John.  She leaned closer to Sam.  "Where do the hotty college guys hang out and which frat am I avoiding again?"

Xander gave her a look.  "I will kill you if you take up with a frat brother."

She stuck her tongue out.  "I doubt it.  You might kill him but you love me."

He smirked.  "Do not make me find the herbs to turn you into cave key like your sister went cave slayer.  Again."

She shuddered and whimpered.  "I learned my lesson about underage drinking the one time you did it already," she promised quickly.  "Dean, stick up for me here?  Please?  You know I learned that lesson."

"For six months she couldn't even let anyone drink around her, Xander.  She learned her lesson."

"Fine, spoil my fun making frat boys normal kids," he muttered, making Sam snicker at that.  "What?  It might!  Less of a blight on the universe."

Dawn leaned over to hug his arm.  "I love you, violent tendencies and all, Xander."  He grinned at her.  "You know, you could date and give me a little sister or brother now that I'm graduated."

He gave her a look.  "Didn't you once order me to date Sam and accidentally do a will spell to enforce it?"

"Well, yeah, but you can have long enough to go knock some girl up and then share custody."  She beamed.  "Please?"

"No," Dean said firmly.  "And you'd better not have any until you're at least twenty-five, young lady."

"Yes, Dean," she sighed, going back to her own lunch, much to Sam's amusement.  "You guys could give me nieces or nephews too."

Dean gave her a look. "Fat chance," he said dryly.  "I'm not ready to settle down yet."

"Fine."  She pouted at Sam.  "You'll give me some someday, right?"

"Someday," he promised.  "We'll make Dean an uncle and he'll pout but corrupt the kids and teach them about weapons."

"Just like Xander will," she said proudly.

"I'm still sorry about that spell, Xander," Tara said quietly, ducking her head, making Spike laugh.  She swatted him.  "You hush."

"I don't know, him as a girl did make the perfect girl for Dean," Bobby said dryly.  Dean moaned, shaking his head but stuffing his mouth.

"No, I think he and Sammy have a better connection," Dawn told him.  "Xander's very smart, but hiding it.  Dean and Xander are too much alike; they'd fight.  They do whenever he's too injured to go anywhere for a few weeks.  They'd end up like a Cordy and Xander relationship - all snark and then sex.  He and Sammy would be sweet and he'd make Xander do more thinking stuff instead of physical stuff."

Sam gave her a look.  "Don't I have a say in this?"

"It's not like I didn't take off the will spell as soon as I realized I had put it on in my fevered and delusional state."

"Thanks for that," Xander quipped.  "Sam's much too nice for me, Dawn."

"You'd be surprised," Sam said dryly.

Xander looked at him.  "You have *no* idea what I learned off my exes."

"Considering they were mostly evil, I'd say it'd be bondage and stuff," Sam snarked back.  Xander smirked at him and nodded.  "Anything good I can use on Dean the next time he gets irritating?"

"Trade places with me, Sam," she complained, switching their plates and making him move so he was closer to Xander and they could plot and plan.  Which was one of the reasons she liked Sam so much.  He helped Xander have good, clean, slightly evil fun as well as normal fun.

"Son, you do remember that you called me a week ago while drunk?" John asked.  Sam gave him a horrified look.  "I wasn't so sure Dean didn't dial it for you since you were moping again."  He gave him a look.  "I'll say what I said then.  I'd rather see you happy.  End of discussion."

Xander gave him a long look.  "Do remember that you're a guest here, I'm as well trained as your boys, and there's at least thirteen weapons I can reach within the next heartbeat, not to mention what I have on me and in me.  Do not pick on your son in my house.  I like your boys enough to consider them like family.  Am I clear?" he asked calmly.

"Very.  I was giving him my permission, not picking on him, Xander."

"Just making it clear up front."  He ate a bite and looked at Dawn.  "Your dirty thoughts have now spread.  Thank you."

"Welcome," she said cheerfully.  "Always happy to help.  Next I'm going to set Dean up with a nice chick."

Dean looked at her.  "I don't like nice girls that often."

She patted him on the arm.  "You know the sort of girls I hang out with.  None of them are *that* nice."

"Good point.  That one still in rehab?"

Dawn hummed and nodded, eating another bite of her lunch.  "For another six weeks," she agreed once she swallowed.

Tara looked at her.  "If she's truly staying clean we'll help her."

"Good."  She beamed at her favorite aunt.  "Can you remind Xander he's not allowed to beat any of the boys I hit on while I'm at school?"

"No.  Because I'll beat them myself first."

Dawn rolled her eyes.  "Dean, stick up for me here?  Or you, Bobby?  Please?  How else am I going to meet nice guys who want to have babies some year so you're all uncles?"

"Dawn, the last boy you liked was an incubus.  The boy before that was like Spike, a vampire with hidden homicidal tendencies.  The one before him was a football player who tried to hurt you.  I think it'd be better if you found *yourself* a nice girl first since apparently whatever infects Xander when he tries to date girls has clearly gotten you," Dean said dryly, smirking a bit at her.

She pouted.  "Xander was my first crush.  That little bit let in a bit of evil taint and that's why they like me?" she suggested, looking at Sam.  "Can we exorcize me for that so I don't pick up the bad frat boys?"

He patted her on the back.  "We'll certainly try."

Xander looked at him, shaking his head.  "She dates frat boys over their dead body."

"You've got to let her date sometimes.  How else is she going to find a nice boy?" Sam countered.

"She doesn't have to.  I don't need to be an uncle to her kids.  Dean'll make me an uncle someday.  Or you.  Or Tara maybe.  She doesn't need to."

"It's good that you're just as overprotective of a big brother as I am," Dean said happily, smiling at their siblings.  "See, find a nice girlfriend, Dawn.  Make us all happy."

"Do we remember that the only girl I dabbled with is now in rehab?" she asked dryly.  "Because she was so bad even Faith was in awe of her badness."

"There's always a convent," Xander offered happily, looking at Sam. "She'd do good as a nun, right?  She's really handy with exorcisms and stuff.  You got her through Latin.  She'd look good in a habit, no more guys staring at her boobs or her ass and no more incubuses ever hitting on her."

"Good idea, Xander," Dean agreed happily.  "She'll look good in the penguin suit."

Dawn looked at him then at Sam.  "Help me defeat this new evilness before I have to run away and we end up hunting together while those two end up together?  Because I'm sure that's a sign of an apocalypse somewhere."

"Just kiss him.  It'll make him forget the stupid ideas," Bobby told Sam.  "Not like we all don't know."

Dawn shrugged then kissed Dean, making him moan.  "There, better?" she asked, smiling at him.  "Not too bad but too much pepper on the eggs, Xander."  She dug in again, leaving him staring at her in shock and horror while everyone else laughed.

"I meant him," Bobby chuckled, pointing at Sam.  "That way he'd calm down the other big brother."

Sam coughed to clear his throat and the dirty pictures from his mind.  "I don't participate in public sexual rituals.  Thanks anyway.  I don't like PDA."

"Did enough of that with Anya when we ended up educating some kids in the park and got beaten nearly to death by the parents," Xander said.

Sam kissed him.  "Shut up, Xander."  Xander smirked at him.  "Really.  Every time you think about Anya you want to get freaky and my back still hurts."  Everyone stared at him but Spike, who was snickering into his glass of beer.  "What?  It was stress relief."

"Three years now," Spike said to Dean, who hit his brother on the arm.

"Ow, jerk, what was that for?"

"For not telling me three years ago, bitch."

"Please, the only bitch at this table is me," Dawn said patiently.  "Sam is not a girl.  I can make him a girl if they both want but I'm not mean enough to do it without consent unless I'm sick."  Dean gave her a look and she smirked back.  "If I do I won't be able to sit during my first few business classes and then I'll never get to open up a weapon's shop that'll work with hunters when you guys desperately need stuff."

 Dean gave her a hug.  "We love you too, Dawnie."

"Kiss him again," Spike encouraged.

"She's too young for me," Dean said, glaring at him.  "We can still stake you."

"Pet there said I had to move in with her anyway."

"Near me, not with me.  I have to live in the dorms the first year, Spike.  You're not going to be allowed to keep me from dating either.  Otherwise I'll have to run away on my summer vacations to go pounce Dean or something.  He might mind that."

"Maybe this crush you have on Dean is leaching out some of the taint crushing on Xander gave you," Sam said with a grin for her.

"Maybe.  Though it's no fair that my last boyfriend liked things soft, gentle, and girly.  I mean, what sort of guy likes to get *flowers* before a date?  I am *so* going to have to date a hunter.  They know how to appreciate tough, strong, talented women who don't give a damn about bubble bath unless we're having one of our few girl days and we do those alone."

"To be fair, your last boyfriend did give you a pocket knife for your birthday," Bobby reminded her.

"After he came to you for advice," she pointed out.  "I still wanted the new remington.  Am I getting it today?" she asked Xander.

He looked at her and shook his head slowly.  "No.  But you're getting six other things."  She smiled. "Including your own car."  She squealed and pounced him to hug across Sam.  "Sit and eat.  Before you turn tiny again."  She wiggled back into her seat and dug in again.  "Sorry, Sam."

"Not a problem.  It was a good pounce."  He looked around.  "Flag football after lunch before the coven picnic?"

Xander smirked at him.  "Sure, we can play pouncing games, Sam."

"Pervert," he shot back fondly.

Dean cleared his throat.  "No foreplay at the table.  I'm sure Bobby wants to be able to eat and not laugh, guys."

Dawn looked at him.  "Want to help me check out my new roommie if I find out I have one?  That way I'm not stuck with Buffy's luck and end up with a Celine Dion loving demonic roommie who's going to suck my power so she can stay on campus?"

"She did?"

Dawn nodded.  "She did.  She slayed her too.  Then Willow moved in because hers was rude, crude, and enjoyed loud music and boys."

"She should've known she was demonic for liking Celine Dion," Dean complained.

"She does some nice love songs," Tara complained.  "Many lesbians like her.  Nearly as much as we do some of the older stuff."

"I'm more worried that since it's Dawnie, it'll be a succubus," Xander said dryly, making Bobby choke.  "What?  Like the incubus she just broke up with wouldn't point one in her direction for breaking up with him?"

"The one who liked flowers was the incubus?" John asked.  Dawn and Sam both nodded.  "Did we make sure she was fine afterward, boys?"

"Gave me ye olde holy water bath for five nights straight," Dawn complained.

"You're the one who winced and hissed," Dean reminded her.

"Hello, had tears from the sex.  Holy water has salt in it.  Hell yes I winced and hissed.  It hurt.  I still swear he was gay with the way he liked up...."  Dean covered her mouth.  "Sorry," she said from behind it.

"Let's change the subject," Bobby said.  "Dawn, you're going to go for more normal boys, right?"

"They'd have to be able to understand at least a little bit of me," she said once she had removed Dean's hand.  "That might mean I'd have to start hitting on bad boys.  Though I will not do what my sister did and date a vampire ever again," she told Spike, who smirked and nodded at her.  "Sorry to have given you flashbacks with him, guys."

"No problem," Xander quipped.  "We got you straightened out from him too."  He drank some of his beer while she laughed.  "I can't believe you didn't realize it until the second date."

"Not like I grope on the first one.  Hello, I do *try* to be a good girl.  Tara would spank if I was that easy."

Tara nodded.  "Definitely."

"Me too," Bobby assured her.

"So see, not even hand-holding on the first date with him.  How was I supposed to know?"

"Fine," Xander said.  "I'm sure Spike can make sure of it the next time too."

"How did you all meet?" John asked.

"Remember them calling you about a hell god?" Dawn asked.  He nodded slowly.  "She nearly killed me to get the power I have.  They helped Xander protect me."

"Good job, boys."

"Thanks, dad," they said in unison.

"Guys, freakish twin things that made half of the girls in my school have *way* naughty dreams," Dawn teased.

"Of course they did.  I'm very good and, well, Sam's Sammy.  So I guess they wanted his hair.  Or maybe to cut his hair so it looks more like normal boy hair instead of yak hair or something."

Xander looked at him.  "He's got more than grabbable hair to his list of skills."

"Sam, do it again so we can change the topic?" Bobby suggested.  Sam sighed but kissed Xander again, making him moan and prove that his hair was a good handhold.

Dawn sighed and looked at Spike.  "I want that sort of relationship only with more tossing against the walls for great, hot sex."

Spike looked at her then burst out laughing.  "No way I'm letting you date someone who'd do that."

Dawn pouted, but the couple quit kissing long enough for lunch to go on and the topic to change to what her plans were for Stanford and her future business.


Dawn walked around her campus her first night there.  It was sucky.  She was alone.  Spike wouldn't be around for a week thanks to Angel hauling him to LA for an apocalypse.  Her roommie was freaky and a demon, she knew she was.  She was a harmless demon though so she had to put up with it until she proved otherwise.  Her dorm was very nice.  She loved her dorm.  She hated her roommie but loved her dorm.  She heard someone running and turned, tripping the one that was clearly a vampire - he had his game face out.  "How fucking stupid are you?" she demanded, pulling out her stake and staking him.  "Dumbass!"  She helped the other person stop when she nearly ran into her.  "Hi.  He's gone poof."

"What?" she demanded in a British accent.

"The vampire went poof.  Dusted."  The girl gaped so she smirked.  "Hi, Dawn Summers, little sister to Buffy."

She moaned.  "You're attending here?"

"Um-huh.  Just moved in for my first semester today.  Are you around here?"

"Not usually.  I've been tracking that one.  He knew where the Sisters of Jhe are."

"LA.  That's part of why Angel needed Spike's help.  They're part of the present apocalypse."

The slayer moaned.  "I hate that bloke."

"Angel?"  She nodded.  Dawn shrugged.  "He's been like an uncle to me but he does like to brood.  Then again, Buffy slept with him and he lost his soul."  The slayer laughed.  "It has an out clause.  He should've warned her during the 'do you have anything' talk."  She smiled and they walked off together.  "So, anything around here I should know about?"

"Not too much going on.  Is Spike moving here?"  Dawn nodded.  "Good, then you'll be protected."

"Hopefully.  I'm trying really hard not to stake my roommie.  She's a Vrgranth."  The slayer moaned.  "I know, disgusting.  Already disgusting.  If she gets slime anywhere I'm killing her anyway, peaceful or not.  I already made that *very* clear."  She shrugged.  "Next year I get to move off campus if Xander lets me."

"I hope you do.  You're sure they're with Angel?"

"That's what he said when he called for Spike.  Otherwise I'd be walking with Spike and getting second hand smoke."  The girl laughed at that.  "Let me call."  She called Angel's number.  "Wes, me.   The Sister of Jhe are down there, right?  No, the present slayer  was chasing someone and I staked her vampire for her.  Yeah, them.  Here you go.  One former Watcher dude."  She let her have her phone while they walked.  So of course that's when they were jumped.  "Oh, eww!" Dawn said when the fyarl shot snot at her.  "Gross!"  She stabbed it and then moved onto the next demon, getting her phone when the slayer tossed it back.  "Later, Wes," she called before hanging up and sliding it into her pocket between hits.  Another vampire came rushing and she got him too.  The one demon in front of her was not friendly and she had no idea how to get it down.  "Damn it, I want a sword or a gun," she muttered, kicking its ass the usual way.

It's head blew off suddenly and Dean walked over.  "We can't leave you alone, can we?"

"Not my fault!  The slayer was chasing a vampire and I staked him."

"I saw."  He pointed the gun at the vamped out former slayer.  "Shoo.  Now.  Go to LA, sweetheart."

"Make me," she sneered.  Dawn dusted her.

Dean smirked.  "So, anything good happen?"

"Can I stake the slime demon roommie I got given?"

"Sure.  Let's go stake the slime demon before she gets into your hunting trunk and ruins things."  She squealed and hugged him, then walked back with him, much happier now.  She was giving him sideways looks.  "We were all worried and Xander begged Sammy prettily until he suggested we come out to watch over you since Spike couldn't this first week."

She snickered.  "Is Sam here or still tied to the bed?"

"Tied to the bed.  Xander couldn't find his handcuff keys."  She snickered louder at that.  "Then again, Sam was napping a lot recently."

"It wasn't me.  I didn't turn either one able to bear babies that I'm aware of."

"Thanks for that."  He patted her on the back, hiding his gun when they got back to the car.  "Want a ride?"

"Sure.  I love the car.  She's still beautiful after all the miles, the wear and tear, and the drama she's been witness to."  She stroked her roof.  "Not to mention all the times you broke your shocks."  She slid inside while Dean beamed.  They drove back to her dorm and she signed him in.  "Fussy sorta-uncle."

"Visitors have to leave at ten," the guard reminded her.

"Yes, sir."  They headed up to her room and she opened the door, looking around.  "That had better not be slime on my shit."

Her roommate glared at her.  "Who're you to tell me anything, Summers?"

Dean closed the door.   "Her sister was a slayer."  The demon backed away, standing in a corner.  "She's a hunter of our group now.  We Winchesters love Dawnie."  She fled the room in tears.  He shrugged.  "Oh well.  Want help?"

"Please."  She handed him some rubber gloves. "When I found out I bought some, just in case."  They picked up the stuff of Dawn's that had slime on it, putting it into the wash basket once they had pretreated it with the stuff Sam had found to take out slime.   Someone tapped.  "Who is it?"

"Melissa," she said.  "Your RA, Miss Summers."

Dawn opened the door and pointed.  "Do you see what sort of mess she's creating?  And half of it was on my stuff.  I will not wash slime from my clothes every day for the next year."  She picked up some with a glove and slung it at her roommate, who was behind the RA looking smug.  "One of us is moving.  I don't care which one but one of us is moving."

"Fine.  There's an open room up the hall.  I pulled your ap and it said you did ask for and pay for a private room.  We don't like doing it to freshmen because they get into trouble."

Dawn gave her a look then looked at the Demon.  "She knows?"

"My sister's a vampire," she said dryly.

"Mine was a slayer.  I'm being raised by hunters."

"Then you get the private room and I don't want to know what you have with you."

"Nearly nothing," she pouted.  "They wouldn't let me bring the guns."  She and Dean gathered everything together quickly - half of her clothes were back at home.  The mini fridge and then her bedding went in the last two trips.  She made sure she had everything then headed back to her new room.  She poured the salt lines under Dean's watchful gaze.  Then she put around her other talismans.  He nodded his approval and gave her a hug.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  Besides, I brought out the rest of the guns.  Xander decided it might be a good idea as long as you hid them magically."  She squealed and gave him a squeeze.  "C'mon."  She nodded, hiking down there with her laundry bag to look like she was getting other clothes out of his trunk.  Which he did have.  Including her favorite trolling clothes.  The guns were wrapped in them.  They went back upstairs to put them into her trunk and settled in to chat and talk.  Dean was smiling at his protege of hunting.  She had learned very well from him.  She was also getting cuddly again so he should stop her.  But it was ...nice.  "So, the last boyfriend wrote?"

"No.  He tried to sic a vengeance demon on me but I made a good case that he hadn't told me he was an incubus and my relatives were going to kill him."

Dean smiled.  "Did she get him for the false call?"

"Yup.  Turned him in to his momma.  She was not pleased."  She snuggled into his side.  "I need a tv eventually."  He laughed.  "I do.  Otherwise I'll have no good way to slack off without someone like a frat boy."

"Frat boys are beneath you, Dawn.  You'd run over them and make them cry."

She looked up.  "There's no other hunters here.  Bullies aren't my style but at least they'd like better sex than the nice boys like Sammy does."

"Apparently not."

"Apparently so, even if Xander does tie him down or he ties Xander down."  She shifted.  "Besides, it's going to get boring around here if I don't have someone to talk to for real about stuff now and then.  I'm probably not going to be buddy-buddy with the former roommie."

"No, probably not."  He stroked her hair down.  "Static."

"Magic.  The girl upstairs is in the local coven.  I wrote ahead and we've talked."  He nodded at that.  She smiled.  "You've got to find me a decent boy to date, Dean."

"Like I know about guys," he teased back.

"Well, find me one like you and Xander then."

He smirked.  "We're fairly unique and hard to find, Dawn.  We're both like your big brothers."

"No, not both of you."  She kissed him.  "I'd never kiss Xander.  He eats funny and way too much chocolate.  I'd get a candy high off him.  Snickers?"

"Snickers on the way over," he admitted.

"Want to get a burger?"

"You should rest.  You have classes tomorrow."

"My first class is at ten, Dean.  I don't want eight am classes."

He laughed.  "Good girl."  She barked then gave him a smug look, making him laugh harder.  "Fine.  I still can't be serious about one person."

"Like I give a shit, Dean.  Not like I want a ring.  Just don't give me anything funky from one of the girls you pick up."

"You're going to not pick up around here?"

"Not unless we find another hunter.  Remember, Stanford is pretty, preppy geek central.  That's why Sammy went here."

"Good point."  He kissed her again.  "We'll work on it."  She beamed and pounced, making him nearly fall off the bed.  But it was good and she didn't expect him to be soft, gentle, or say stupid stuff.  She wanted it hard, fast, and good like he did.  It was a good thing to have some stress relief.  He'd have to thank Sammy for nagging him later on.  She took his gun off him and checked the safety before tossing it onto the floor and getting her own off her back waistband, making him a happy boy.  Yes, his protege was just as cool and as good as he was.

The End.