Dean walked up to where Xander and Sam were with his weapon out in sword form, which was making his arm ache.  He and Xander had decided to switch since his felt better to Xander than his own had.  He hoped the third weapon was easier on him.  He nodded at Sam, who handed him the bowl of whatever that had been mixed.

"Coat the blade, intone the ritual," Sam said quietly.

Dean scooped out some, coating both sides of the blade with it.  He read the words that Sam had written down.  "This is my weapon, my choice, and my duty; my honor to do this duty, and my soul's duty to see it fulfilled with this weapon, which is mine," he said.

Xander did the same thing, wincing when his hand was cut during the wiping down.  "This is my weapon, my choice, and my duty; my honor to do this duty, and my soul's duty to see it fulfilled with this weapon, which is mine," he read.  He hissed at his hand, shaking it some.  "Ow."

Sam looked at it.  "You cut yourself?"

"No, the blade cut me."  He looked at the blade, it seemed newer, shinier to him.  "No more scratches."

Dean looked at his.  "Mine still has a few but not as many."  They let Sam bless the blades, then Nanny Grimsley do it overtop of his, watching them glow where they laid crossed on the small, makeshift altar of wood.  Dean looked around, he could feel something come up behind him, something with power, something that wasn't fully pure.

Dawn appeared and looked at the blades.  "So as do I, as the Key, bless them as well, unto the warriors they go and travel.  Keep them, save them, help them."  She added some blood to each tip, then blew on it, looking down at them.  She looked at Dean.  "The third one is yours.  It's also a shorter blade."

"Gee thanks."

She smirked.  "Could be worse."

"True, could be."  He picked up his again, giving it a test swing.  It didn't feel so wrong anymore.  He looked at her. "Not part of the original plan?"

"No, but necessary."  She looked at Xander.  "You've got to hit home."

"Cleveland home or Sunnydale home?"

"Cleveland home.  Sneak in, don't talk to the others, don't jump in.  The twins are getting ready to head out and need you for a few to gear them up.  Otherwise Faith is.  You've seen her pack and they hate leather."

He nodded.  "I can do that."  He kissed her on the head.  "Go fix that.  Take one of them and go fix that."  He walked off.  "Thanks, Nanny.  See you in about a year?"

"You'll be back," she agreed.  She looked at Dawn, who shrugged.  "Yes, fix that.  Before something else comes at you, child!"  She swatted her then handed her to Sam.  "Taint her so that the thing that calls out to powerful witches can't come for her too.  It's already started."

"Yeah, their dad yelled at me for being a virg too," Dawn said dryly.

"He had us broken in at sixteen," Dean told her.

She shrugged.  "I've been busy!"

Sam looked at her then at Dean.  "This is more your thing than mine."

"There'll be magic there.  Besides, you're closer to her age.  I doubt she wants to hit and it forget it with me, Sammy."  He looked at Dawn.  "Your choice and all."

"Like I have a clue?  Can't exactly compare, guys."

"Good point."  He grinned at her.  "C'mon.  He can go sleep in the car tonight."

"We can do that in the special bedroom I do birthings in," Nanny said.  "It's had more than one blessing and one protection on it."  Dawn hugged her.  "Go, shoo.  I should have everything."  She held up the fanny pack she was wearing.  "That's fine then.  Even less strain on my supplies."  She walked Sam off.  Nanny looked at Dean.  "You okay?"

"I'm fine.  Will Sam be okay?"

"As long as the portal's contained and stopped in time it'll be fine.  Same as it is every month she'll bleed.  I'm grateful we have drugs to stop that now.  Otherwise someone would've had to knock the poor girl up."

"Is there something that comes after pure witches?"

She grimaced and nodded.  "Yup.  You'll be running into it here in about a year."  She walked off.  "Come get dinner, Dean."

"Yes, ma'am."  He cleaned up the area before following her, handing her the candles they had used and the cloth that had been under things.  She pointed and he went to put them back.  He didn't know many witches he could respect but she could kick his ass and then spank him so he'd respect her.  Plus she made really good biscuits.  He looked up when Dawn shrieked.  "Apparently Jess taught him well."

She swatted him.  "They found the mouse up there."  Something thumped.  "If girls scream like that when they see you, you scare 'em, boy."

Dean smirked.  "You say some of the sweetest things."  She swatted him but gave him dinner anyway.  They both had to listen as it happened, Dean scratching his arms when the magic started to flow.  "I don't usually feel it like that."

"It's the sword," she told him.  "It'll fade soon."  She ate a bite then looked up when the girl shrieked for different reasons.  "Huh.  He does know what he's doing.  Maybe I should let him date my granddaughter."

"Please don't.  Dad would freak out and I'd have to get in the middle.  He didn't want Sam to have a steady anybody or me," he said at her look.  "It took us from the reason for the hunt."

"Uh-huh.  Yet it brought him back to it."

"Which was kinda freaky," Dean said.  "Usually it only went after newborns."

"Was she pregnant?"  Dean shook his head.  "You sure?"

"Not that he knew.  I asked."

"Huh.  Well, you could meet it during this anyway, Dean.  Who knows."  They heard Sam getting noisy and the bed starting to shake.  She put a hand on his arm.  "That's not strong thighs.  No boy's that strong.  That's the magic trying to get out."  He shrugged and ate another bite, watching the ceiling in case it cracked.  Which it did a few minutes later but it stopped after that and it went quiet except for some groaning going on.  "They'll be fine and I'm sure he'll be back in the morning.  That way she knows what it's like when it's not a rite."

"That's fine.  I know she won't hurt him."  He finished dinner and helped by carrying his plate into the kitchen.  "Dishes?"

"Nah. You go to bed, Dean.  Xander'll meet you in a few weeks or so.  After he's said some things to some people."  He nodded, leaving the house.  She looked up there.  "Let's hope she's smart enough to jump him again.  A good boy like that should be savored."  She dusted some drywall dust off her head and took another bite of dinner, going to get seconds once she was done.  There was enough for those two too.


Xander made it back to his garage, pulling inside and shutting off the car.  He climbed out and looked at Faith.  "I'm not supposed to see you guys."

She smirked.  "I know.  I made brownies."

"What happened?" he sighed.

"Small, minor demon that's about ten foot tall and you have all the artillery."

"No I don't.  I loaded the armory with everything you guys should need."

"None of us know how to use it, Xander."

"Oh, fuck," he muttered, heading up with her to get her something.  He tapped in the security code then walked inside, nodding at the guys who were clearly federal agents in there.  "And you would be?"

"Here about the demon, sir."

"Huh."  He got something and looked at her.  "Fire or otherwise?"

"Fire, blessed."  He got something else and tossed it to her.  "What do I do with this?"

He opened the case and gave it to her.  "You aim through the little...."  He looked at the snickering agent.  "You know how to use it?"  He nodded. "Good.  Do that."  He tossed it to him.  "Do my job while I've been called away on a semi-permanent thing for the next few years."  He looked at Faith.  "Brownies?"

"Kitchen."  He went to get some while she drug the agent with her, letting him take aim and fire the stupid rocket at the demon.  It went up in a brilliant blue flame and died screaming and shrieking in pain.  "B, you good?" she yelled.

"Ewww!" floated back in multiple voices.

Faith grinned.  "I love the rear position."

The agent looked at her.  "I won't comment on that."  He handed her back the tube, then turned off his car alarm, taking it back to put inside.  "We don't like you guys."

"You wanna do it?" she offered.

"No.  That's why we tolerate you."

Faith blew a kiss.  "Have fun with that.  We'll wank off to it later too."  He grimaced and his partner came outside so they could go report.  Buffy and her troop of slime covered mini-slayers stomped back up to the house.  "The agent knew how to use the Xander stuff."

"Yay," Buffy said.  "He back?"

"And heading again," she agreed.  Buffy pouted.  "They told him he can't get sucked back in or he'll miss the important battles, B.  You know how the Powers are.  He's doing the grabbing his ankles thing for them the same way we have."

"Not a mental image I want," Buffy complained as she trudged.

"Hey, it could be one of the psycho posse who love him doin' it," Faith called.

"Last time it was a succubus who was taking some of the hellmouth taint," Xander called from inside.  "Twins!"  They came running down the stairs.  He drug them down to the garage, handing them a set of keys.  "There you go, ladies. Your very own ancient beamer with a hidden area in the trunk and already packed for you."  He showed them were everything was, getting nods since they knew how to use everything.  "Anything I missed?"

"Clothes?" one of the twins asked.

"Duh, you have half the trunk," he said dryly.  "And a backseat, Brit."  He patted her on the head.  "Quit being a stupid bitch.  Grow up like Faith and Dawnie."  The other one giggled.  "Really."  He looked at them.  "Now, anything else?"  They shook their heads.  "Good!"  He walked off, heading up to his office to get into the hidden areas no one knew how to get into apparently.  Not like it was hard, they were hidden safes.  He came down with the few envelopes, a few books, and one nasty looking ancient dagger.  He ran into Giles.  "Three years of being the Powers' butt monkey this time."  He walked past him shaking his head.  "Can I still use the corporate card?  Not like I can settle down."

"If you must," he sighed.  "Use your emergency fund first, Xander."

Xander looked back at him. "Sure.  Yeah."  He went to load those into the trunk too, finding a few things missing.  He glared at the twins, who gave them back with sheepish looks.  "Thank you."  He repacked the magical supplies.  "Sometimes I have to too.  Especially with that huge prophecy going on and me being given mystical weapons."  He patted his pocket just in case.  Still there in pocketknife form.  He closed the trunk and turned on his alarm then went to the magical supplies cabinets, finding the things he might need and a bag to pack the tupperware containers he was using to store them in.  Willow made a horrified noise.  "Huge ass prophecy, Wills," he said patiently.  "Three years of it.  Multiple battles and rites.  That's why we have Dawn helping."  He looked at one thing then added his special ingredients from the next cabinet over.  Then he sighed in pleasure and looked at her.  "C-4?"

"The usual spot.  The agents didn't take it."

"Cool."  He went to get that then headed down to stuff a few more of the compartments in his car.  He turned and found Willow and Giles standing there.  "Hey, yell at them.  Please.  Not like it was my choice.  It was me or the world goes to hell.  And I don't even get to do the sex magic rite in the center it looks like."  He beamed before getting into his car and then getting out and heading upstairs.  "Could've used more than three outfits, Giles."  He found his traveling duffel and packed it full of all his clothes, then went back down there. The indicator on the dash said it was all good so he climbed in and tooted, backing out of the garage and heading off to deal with some past issues so he could die in peace.

Giles huffed.  "I do not like this prophecy business."

"You don't like it?  They're having him do magic, Giles!" Willow complained.  "Even sex magic stuff!"  He looked at her.  "We have to get a full copy of everything from Dawn."

"I have all that, including the links she put into the original document for special places or events."  She stomped up to his office, dragging him with her.  "I could get us some tea."

"No you can't."

Dawn stepped in their way.  "Oh no!"  She pushed Willow back.  "If we invalidate this one, the first is worse than an ascension and less evil than Glory.  The last few are about First Evil levels.  We are not *touching* this prophecy, Willow.  Even if it does require Xander to do magic.  I don't care how much it freaks you out, would you rather the world ends?"

"No," she muttered, glaring at her.

"Then get to know Dean and Sam.  They're nice guys and they'll have to help Xander.  We should support them all, not just Xander.  Even their people are getting that clue."

"Dawn, something seems a bit different about you," Giles said.

She beamed.  "Sam was really sweet about it too.  Even when the bed collapsed from the magic underneath us."  She looked at Willow again, seeing the gape in horror.  She beamed.  "Him or some frat boy and he had a clue since he's part of a hunting team.  Nanny Grimsley had us use her warded room and everything."  She kissed her on the cheek.  "I don't know why you gave up boys, Willow.  Feels good."  She walked off.  "By the way, Giles, I took that file and locked it on you.  And from her.  We cannot invalidate it and Xander cannot come back here because if he gets sucked in he'll miss things.  So said the new messenger for the Powers, Fred."

Willow shuddered at that.  "Why him?" she whined.

"He's a strong boy and he'll survive this one as well, Willow," he said calmly, patting her on the back.  "Come on, let's get some tea and we'll think about what we can do to help him."  She nodded, following him down to the kitchen.  All the brownies, cookies, twinkies, and ho-hos had disappeared.  All the sodas as well.  Giles sighed but put it onto the shopping list.  Before the girls could complain.


Xander found the motel the others were at three weeks later, pulling in and honking.  He got out, holding his ribs.  Sam came out, giving him a bad look.  "Morning."

"Only if you've been turned.  Are you all right?"

"Could use an ice pack.  Get me a room yet?"


Dean came to the door.  "They're about out of rooms.  All they have is a tiny corner thing."

"As long as it's got a shower.  Come lock this thing for me."  He got into the trunk, getting his wallet from it and heading inside.  "Hey, room left?"

"One.  Dean said he was expecting a friend."

"Which would be me."  He put down his corporate card.  "I need a shower."

"I can smell that."  He handed the boy a card to fill out.  Xander did that and passed it back.  The card declined.  He snickered.  "Your bosses being mean?"

"Yeah but I get to kick his ass."  He pulled out cash, getting a nod.  The card went back into his wallet.  "Thanks.  Where?"

"Eighteen.  On the end, little corner room.  You'll have noise all night."

"That's fine.  I'm used to it."  He took the key, trudging that way.  Sam got him some ice from the machine.  Dean handed him a soda.  "Thanks."

"What was it?" Dean asked.  Xander winced as he took off his shirt, getting a hiss back.  "Dude, what hit you?"

"The trooper going eighty without his lights and siren on about a week ago.  Thank god for body and car fixing spells."  He laid down with the ice pack, getting comfy.  "Nice, thanks, guys.  Night."

"Night," Dean said dryly, shaking his head.  "We have anything?"

"Hmm.  Tomorrow.  Shit."

"Money?" Sam asked.  Xander handed over his wallet.  "Thanks, Xander."

"Call Dawn, tell her to chew Giles a new one about the card."

"I can do that," Dean agreed, going to do that from their room while Sam upped them to a full week each.  Sam came back.  "He asleep?"

"Out like a light.  Snoring like he had drugs."

"You never know.  We carry a bit in our field kit.  There's no telling what's in his car."

"Wanna go check it out?" Sam asked dryly.

"Well, yeah, but I'll wait until the middle of the night."  He beamed at him.  "Less chance of nosy people looking over my shoulder."

"Did we see something about a cop hitting a civvie?"

"Yeah, on the news.  Nearly totaled the car.  So apparently those bodywork spells work very well."

"Yeah, apparently."  He laid down on his bed.  "Now what?"

"Now, the thing shows up here in about four days.  We have to figure out where the babble talks about."

"It's a park of some sort.  Doing a city search found four."

"Okay, I guess that's good.  Anything distinguishing them?"

"One's near a cemetery?"  He shrugged.  "How would I know?"

"Good point."  He frowned.  "We'll figure it out," he decided.  "Maybe he knows or the swords know."

"Hopefully," Sam agreed. His cellphone rang.  "Hey," he said, smiling at the cheerful voice on the other end.  "Hi, Willow.  Yeah, it did.  Taking on the first fight.  No, he's had a bad week.  That trooper that hit someone hit him."  He sat up.  "No, he's not dead."

"No, he wasn't dead," Dean assured him.  "Why?"

"No, not that one, Willow.  The one in Kansas.  No, we're in lower Kentucky at the moment.  Yeah, he's fine.  Bruised but fine.  Yeah, he still has the caddy.  I'm guessing no one touched the car.  He said he had a bodywork spell on it."  He nodded.  "Probably.  I don't know how he got it modified."

"He said something to Dawn about it being stress relief that paid for it," Dean told him.

"Oh, okay, Dean does know how it got on there.  Xander slept with someone and they put it on there for him."  He nodded. "Yeah, basically.  Because we need stress relief too, Willow.  Think about what we do all day every day.  Just like Buffy and Dawn go shopping, we're guys.  We hit on women."  He hung up at her huffing.  "Sorry, she hates that idea."

"Well, if one of us turns into a cat, we'll know why."

"Yeah, and then we'll get Dawn and make her fix it for us."

Dawn appeared in the corner, handing him a box.  "Chicken.  Giles said he's changing all the cards, that's what was wrong with Xander's."  She kissed Dean on the head.  "Because you need a mother, dumbass.  Don't take on the thing with four arms unarmed the next time.  It's stronger than even a slayer and you're not."  She grinned at Sam before kissing him on the head too.  "He had to do a blinding spell to get the car free. They decided it wasn't drugs since the drug dog didn't hit on it at the accident scene.  Or the one that smelled bomb stuff.  I don't know how but they didn't.  So anyway he's good there.  We weren't telling Willow, she's being a bitch this week.  She has major Wicca PMS and her spells are going screwy.  I'll be watching in case one of you turn into a lizard.  That's how her changing spell went last time."  She beamed and disappeared.

Sam looked at Dean, who was sniffing the open box.  "You took on something with four arms while unarmed?"

"Three years ago," he said with a smirk.  "Dad was not amused either."

"Scyring spell?"

"Probably heard it from Dad."  He handed over the box.  "Get two, the rest are mine."

Sam picked out three and let him have the rest.  Dean and his stomach.  It was nearly as large as his ego.


Xander looked at the maps the next day.  "The only really good way to do this is to split up and take a park then call."

"Which means it'll be in the park we're not in," Sam said.  "By Murphy's law it's a given."

Xander grimaced and nodded.  "Yeah, but it'll be drawn to the swords."  He grinned at him.  "So even then it'll come for us."

"Okay," Dean said.  "And we do what with it?"

"Take off it's head.  It works with most everything."  He pushed over a book.  "On that particular demon.  Giles found it for us and gave it to Dawn.  How was the chicken?"

"Good," Dean said.  "We ate it all though."  Xander pointed at the box on the dresser.  "Aww, she does love you."

"She used to have a wicked crush on me too."  He pointed.  "I'll take this one.  Just in case there's vamps?" he suggested.

Dean looked then at him.  "We're used to spirits.  It should be one of us."

"Guys, if there's more than the demon, we're screwed," Sam pointed out.

"You can handle anything mundane, right?" Xander asked him.

"Maybe.  Why?"

"Then you take that one in case there's ghosts or vamps."  He grinned and Dean nodded at that.  "What does the book say about his habitat?"

Dean looked him up.  "Wet.  Swamp lands.  Night."

Xander looked.  "That's got a good pond but a lot of lights by what I drove past last night."  He yawned.  "Oh, Dean, there's a hidden alarm that lets me know if anyone gets into the hidden areas on the car.  Ask next time."

"I stole a block of C-4 just in case."

"Sure."  He pointed.  "That one's got a fountain but little lights.  The other one has neither and the one near the cemetery has lights.  Lots and lots of lights."

"He's carrying concealed then," Dean said.  "I'll let you use my holster."

"Thanks," Sam said.  "Stakes?"

"Got like ten in the car," Xander promised.  Sam nodded and went to get some when Dean held out the keys.  "Think you can use that sucker?"

"Yeah, probably.  You?"

"Not the first time with a sword, Dean."

"Point.  I still like machetes better."

"They're definitely easier to carry than a long sword."  He looked at him.  "By the way, if you're knocked out and your sword is on you, it'll change back to a sword and jump at the nurse."  Dean snickered.  "It will.   She shrieked for hours."  He went back to the map.  "You want dark and not so damp or light and damp?"

"I'll take light and damp this time.  Next time I'll take the darker spot."

"Good for me."  He let him have that part of the map.  "I changed my sim card on my phone so I'm local to you guys now for calling.  I even have walkie-talkie."

"Sorry, got a normal phone.  Sam has one."

"That'll work."  He looked at him.  "Call if it hits you.  I'll call you if it hits me.  We'll both go running if it hits Sam."  He heard a siren go off and shook his head.  "Not my week."  He walked out there, taking the keys Sam tossed up at him.  "Yes, Officer?" he asked with a smile.

"Boy, you a bit strange?"

"I'm from near LA, most people in the Midwest seemed to think I'm strange."  He grinned.  "I'm a ghost hunter by long reputation and family work."

"Uh-huh.  So the books in strange languages?  The sword we heard you had from the nurse?"

Xander nodded.  "Yeah.  It's part of the business."  He came down and got into the less hidden areas of the trunk, pulling out his bag of magical supplies. "Needed to check my herb supply?"

The guy looked at the labeled bags and tupperware containers then at him.  "How long you staying and why are you here, son?"

Xander beamed.  "We heard there's supposed to be something going on in the park this week.  See, I'm training Sam here and his brother's making sure I'm doing it right.  We'll behave.  I'm not going to bother anyone but the local food places and the park at night."

The officer just nodded.  "How do you know it's coming here?"  Xander pulled out the printed off copy of the prophecy, letting him see it. "Oh.  Yeah, that's us," he said with a small sigh at the end.  "How long?"

"Within the week."  He beamed.  "If it does happen we'll make sure it's harmless or trap it or something."

"You don't carry stuff like in that movie, right?"

"Proton packs?"  He snorted.  "Hell no.  Portable nuclear generators and lasers are still really expensive.  Though I do know someone who could make one for me, but I'd have to pay for the expenses.  I didn't feel like paying the thirteen grand he quoted me."

"Only thirteen grand?" he asked, sounding a bit weak and tired.

Xander beamed and nodded. "If you know who to ask.  Hell, last month I took down a ghost in an abandoned mine.  Made him move on so he'd quit taking hikers who were looking for copper and things."

The officer shook his head.  "How long you been doing this?"

"Tenth grade.  I'm twenty-six."  He beamed. "Like I said, family business.  Drove my dad totally off the wall getting one of them to move on.  He went into a bottle and never came out.  I had to pick up the slack."

The Officer sighed again.  "Okay.  You're not gonna hurt anyone?"  Xander shook his head.  "The sword?"  Xander pulled out one, letting him see it.  "Just in case?"

"Yeah, tends to scare off muggers.  I do a mean Crocodile Dundee impression."

"Never mind," he muttered.  "Anything else I should know?"

"I've got a California style emergency kit in case I get trapped in a cave-in or something.  It's got a small squishy ball of explosives.  Enough to blow a door or collapsed wall.  I'm from that town Sunnydale, the one that fell in."  The sheriff shuddered, walking back to his car.  "You let us know if you hear anything about it, Officer.  I'm in room eighteen."

"I will, just don't do anything I'll have to arrest you for."  He slid behind the wheel and drove off very quickly.

Xander handed Sam a stake with a grin, then put back the sword.  "See, I'm a fun guy to know."  He closed the trunk, making sure it was locked, before heading back upstairs.

Dean was giggling against the wall.  "That was good."

"Thanks."  He beamed.  "Just enough to leave us alone when we're working."  He sat down.  "The best bs always has a lot of true stuff in it."  Sam walked in and shut the door.  "So, apprentice ghost hunter Sam.  As I told your brother, I changed my Sim card on my phone so I'm local to where yours were taken out."

"Thanks, Xander.  Have a walkie talkie too?"  Xander nodded.  "Decent.  I'll yell if I have problems."

"We'll both come running if you have problems," Dean assured him.  "I don't even want to think about you staking vampires that night."

"Maybe there won't be any."

Xander looked at him and snorted.  "Yes there are.  There's a higher level master across town and he's been nibbling.  It was in the news."

"I didn't see that," Dean complained.  Xander pulled over their paper to show him the obit.  "Attacked by a ... wild animal," he finished with a sigh.  "Standard cover-up."

"Yup," Xander agreed.  "That or kids on PCP.  Sunnydale used that one a lot."  He went back to the map.  "Where do you want to start?  Walking around the park or in one spot?"

"Let's scout the park during the daylight first," Sam said.  That got a nod and they went to do that in the Impala.  Xander's car was going to stay there for a few more days, until the cops were calmed down about it.  Fortunately that panel only had some ancient, dusty books, a few swords, and a small handgun underneath everything.


"Here, vampy, vampy, vampy," Xander called quietly.  "Oops, I mean here, demon, demon, demon.  Here demon, come and get me," he called.

"Boy, you on a check?" that same officer asked as he walked over to him.

Xander grinned at him.  "Nah, I work for some cracked out researchers making notes on places that they're researching.  It pays for a lot of traveling and I get to do my own on the road.  It works pretty well.  They're in Cleveland."

The officer shook his head quickly.  "Okay.  Now what's supposed to be happening?"

"Depends on if it happens here or the other parks.  It should be drawn to me.  If not, I've got the other two in the other parks."  He shrugged.  "If it makes it into the daylight I'd be surprised."  He frowned, looking around.  Everything just got a bit too quiet.  He listened.  He could almost hear Sam panting.  "Hmm."  He pulled out his phone to call him.  "Sam, you okay?" he called.

"Vamps," he called back.  "Six or seven."

"Run to me, Sam," Xander ordered calmly.  "Excuse me, Officer."  He moved him out of the way, letting Sam run past him.  His sword came out and the first two in the lead were taken down.  The others paused.  "Morning.  Sunnydale Protection Society for the Living."  That got a few hisses.  "Bring it on, bitches."  They rushed and he went after them.  A few managed to land blows or scratches but he staked them.  Sam got one that made it to his back.  He got the last one then turned to look at the officer, throwing the stake at the one hugging him.  She went to dust.  Xander looked down at himself, then shrugged.  "I've had worse.  Sam?"  He looked at him, seeing him looking pale. "Did you get bitten!" he demanded.  "I thought you guys trained in self defense!"

"I did," he said.  "No, I'm fine.  Just tired from the run."

Dean came jogging over.  "Behind me," he panted. "Sword wouldn't cut it.  Bullets either.  Ate a poodle."

Xander looked then lunged at the demon, attacking it.  It was impervious at the moment.  "Fine, we'll do it my way.  We need lights," he called.  The officer rushed off to get them turned on.  It wasn't much but Xander could get him back into a pool under one of the street lamps.  "Dean, take his back!" he called about a half-hour later once he had him in one.  He was even more bruised and a bit more scratched from it fighting back.

Dean lunged back in instead of helping harass and move it, taking on his back.  This time he was able to cut into the flesh.  The demon screamed.   Xander distracted it while he took a killing blow.  Xander got the other half of the neck from the other side.  The demon fell and they both panted.  "This is so much harder than shooting them."

Xander looked at him and nodded.  "Well, yeah."  He looked at the demon.  "What'm I looking for, Sam?"

"Chest cavity, gold something."  Xander stabbed down and he came over to look.  He pointed. "That's a gold egg."

"That's one of those chocolate eggs wrapped in gold foil."  He dug it out anyway then got the rest of the cavity open.  He found the small gold coin, flipping it at Dean.  "There, now we can torch it.  Want that job?"

"Please, it stinks," the officer said, staring at the demon.   He watched as Xander cut it into a few easier to handle pieces then Dean got some gas from the car to light it on fire there on the sidewalk.  The smaller pieces meant it didn't get anywhere near the grass.  The cop found his radio.  "Boss, you won't believe this one," he called.  "By the way, don't call the Fire boys.  It's handled.  Come to the park though?"  He hung up and watched the fire burn.  Xander was giving the chocolate looks.  "Don't you even think about it, boy.  That's nasty."

"You left a few twinkies in the car, Xander," Dean reminded him.  He nodded, going to get them.  Dean looked at him and grinned.  "He's got slowly dropping blood sugar after that.  That's harder work than putting in a fence and digging the post holes."

"I can see how that'd happen.  Looks like hard work."

Xander came back nibbling on a twinkie.  "We'll deal with the major vamp tonight too.  That way you don't have to worry about more people being turned."  Someone stomped over and he grinned and waved.  "Hi, how are you tonight.  Speaking of, are you the head vamp or just his minion?"

The chief of police growled.  "How dare you...."

"Xander Harris, from Sunnydale," Sam said.  "He's Dean, I'm Sam...."

The vampire stepped back, giving them an alarmed look.  "They consented."

"Did their families?" Xander asked.

"Most of the time.  I made him do it that way.  Why?"

"Sam nearly got overrun."

"They were out to have some fun in the cemetery with a new friend," he muttered.  "What's that?"

"Prophecied demon."  The Chief shook his head.  Xander grinned.  "The Powers sent us."

"Go away."  Xander nodded at that order.

"You sure we should?" Dean asked Xander.

Xander shrugged. "If they're consenting I can't stop them.  Unless I catch them hunting like I did when they caught Sam."

"They did?" Dean asked his brother, giving him a look.  "You okay?"

"Ran like hell.  There were seven of them."

"Huh."  He looked at the Chief again then at Xander.  "You sure?"

"If they're not in the middle of a hunt and were turned consensually it's not any different than assisted suicide."

Dean nodded.  He looked at the main vamp again.  "We hear about it becoming non- consensual or serious hunting, we'll be back."

"Agreed, boys.  Now shoo."

Xander frowned.  "Can't we shower and sleep?"

"As long as you're gone by sundown tomorrow," the Chief said firmly.

Xander shrugged.  "Fine. We have to be in New York in another few weeks."  They all shuddered.  "Upstate."  They backed off.  "Okay, guys, our work is done here."

"No holy water on the ashes?" Sam asked.

"Nah.  It'll burn itself down to a goo," Xander told them.  "Scoop it up..."

"Salt it, bury the goo in a box," Dean finished.

"That'll work.  We usually put it in with a newly consecrated grave or with a nun who's been buried recently."  That got a nod.  He walked off.  "Can I drive?"

"Hell no," Dean called, following after him.  He tugged on Sam's arm.  "Hold onto that coin.  We don't want them getting it back."

"On my necklace," he promised, putting it onto there.  He got into the passenger's seat.  Xander sprayed his neck and he hissed.  "Ow!"

"Holy water, dumbass."  Xander handed it to him.  "Bathe it until it quits hurting."

"Yes, Xander."  Dean got in after some swearing outside the car.  "Need the holy water?"

"After I shower."  He started the car and they headed back to the motel.  Dean held Sam down to bathe his injuries until he quit squirming and complaining.  Then he went to take a shower.  By then Xander was asleep in his own bed and it was a decent enough night.   This time.  This had been a warm-up exercise to the real battles.


Xander looked up at the house he was parked at, frowning.  This was not going to be happy moments.  He walked up to the front door, tapping gently.  The old woman who lived there sneered at him.  "Hi, Paul's Mother."

"What are you doing here, Xander?  My son isn't going with your kind ever again."

"There's a battle coming up the road.  We need to be nearby but not in the middle of the town that it's going on in.  Or else it can get worse and take us early."  He stared at her.  "So, can the other two guys and me bum the guest house?  We'll even cook for ourselves and not leave a mess once we're gone."

She stared at him.  "Why should I believe you won't suck in my son?"

Xander smirked a bit.  "Because the Powers said so."  She whimpered.  "No outside help beyond those two and Dawnie.  Though I heard their father's nearby."

She let out a huff of irritation.  "Fine.  You know where it is?"

"Yeah.  Want me to brief Paul so it can be sent back to Giles?  I'm forbidden from going to them for help if something happens at the moment."

"If you *must*," she complained.  The black car pulled up behind the dark green Cadillac in her driveway.  "That them?"

Xander looked then nodded.  "Yup.  Guys?"  They joined him on the porch a moment later.  "Paul's Mother, this is Dean, who's fighting with me in the next few days, and Sam, his brother and research support.  We'll stay out of the way totally and keep Paul from it.  We'll even try to protect him if it comes for him.  It could come for hunters and we know he can't protect you right now.  He's a good target by what we know."

"Fine.  Go around back, boys.  There's a guest house you can borrow.  Do not make a mess or destroy things."

"Yes, ma'am," Sam said, smiling at her.  "Thank you for your help."  She walked off.  "Are we going to have to tell this Paul person?"

Xander grinned.  "Later tonight.  He's not awake right now.  It's daytime meds time."  They went to get their bags and walk it around to the back.  Dean decided to park in the alley behind the gate.  It was a bit easier to reach the car.  Xander left his there.  He looked around.  "Sam, do a small grocery run?  I promised we'd cook and clean up after ourselves."  He nodded, going to do that.  He looked at Dean.  "Your father's in the next town, the one we can't walk into until it's time or we'll be captured and used to bring the demon up."

"I'll tell him to get out of dodge," he said, sitting down to text message his father's phone.  He looked up, watching Xander watch the house.  "So he's a what?"

"He's a former Watcher.  He was out in the field on a hunt and got paralyzed when they were attacked by something other than what they were prepared for."  Xander looked at him.  "Basically I rescued him in Central America and brought him home with the other two's bodies.  He's pretty heavily drugged at the moment for the pain.  He's got half a lung and about a quarter of one leg left.  The pack of demons took a good chuck out of his side and then ate his legs."  Dean shuddered.  "Yeah, well, they weren't native and we couldn't be sure that she didn't call them."  He turned around again.  "I'll let him know because he keeps in touch with Giles.  That way someone has a clue and if we have to, he has the local contacts to evacuate the towns."  He frowned for a minute then cleared it up.  "His father's back.  He was doing something with an oil company in Iraq and Syria the last I knew."  He opened the door.  "Hi, Paul's dad."

"Mr. Harris."

"Xander.  Please."

"Xander then.  What's going on?"  Xander got the page he needed from his hard copy and let him see it, getting a shudder.  "It's in the next town?"

"They need a hunter to call it.  If any of us go over there before it's time or it's risen we'll be taken and killed for it.  The prophecy says so."

"I can see that."  He handed it back.  "Paul's had some bad days recently, Xander."

"I'm only going to tell him so if something seriously goes wrong he can call some friends and have both towns evacuated for a bit.  Plus he can write to Giles since the prophecy says I can't until after DC.  Mostly I chose here because he's vulnerable if they decide to go looking for hunters to sacrifice."

"There's more?"

"There's another two years," he said.  "It's a bad, evil convention coming up."

He nodded.  "All right then.  He'll probably be awake around seven or so.  We give him his bath then.  Tell the one with the muscle car to watch out for the delivery vans out there and the garbage truck on Wednesdays."

"I will.  We'll stay out of your way unless Paul wants to talk to us.  We simply needed somewhere safe to stay and plan until it's time."

"That's fine.  You're getting groceries?"

"Sam's Dean's younger brother and he went."

"Good."  He clapped him on the arm.  "We'll see you then, Xander."  He walked back inside.  Some female was still ranting when the door was open but Xander went back to the other house once it was closed.

"So, what's your history beyond that?" Dean asked quietly.

Xander kept staring up at a bedroom window.  "We were on the way out when they were attacked.  The remains of the old Council sent the team after the slayer.  The Powers sent me about a day behind them.  She had captured them.  I got her and then got them free.  We were heading back to civilization through the jungle when the demons attacked.  They weren't even supposed to be on this plane."  He looked at him again, seeing the sadness.  "The three-man team was down to one within seconds.  I was knocked out but protected by the duty they sent me on.  They couldn't eat me for at least another day.  I woke up to him screaming as they ate him."  Dean shuddered.  "And I killed the pack.  We had one called in Sunnydale once.  It took Buffy nearly an hour to kill that one.  I was a bit more motivated.  I had a grenade loaded with silver shrapnel.  I set it off and it nearly killed him but I got him bandaged well enough and to a native camp.  They summoned help while holding his injuries closed."  He turned back around to stare at the house again.  "His mother asked me why."

"Why you brought him back that way?"  Xander nodded.  "It might've been kinder."

"The natives offered it to him, Dean.  He refused."  He shrugged.  "When the Powers aren't happy you, you know it."  He looked at him again.  "Get your dad?"

"Yeah, he told me to go away."

"They'll take us if we go over there.  He could be used as the sacrifice."

"I pointed that out.  He told me I'm worrying for nothing and to not tell Sam because he'd worry worse."

"It means you still have the capacity to give a damn, Dean.  It's a good thing."  He watched the alley.  "By the way, crazy delivery guys use the alley and there's a garbage truck Wednesday morning."

"I'll make sure it's out of the way," he said, going to do that.  He didn't even want to think about being in that situation but he could imagine how horrible it had to be.  Sam pulled in and parked.  "Fit it a bit closer to the wall and away from the dumpster," he called.

Sam got out, leaving the door open.  "Why?"

"Garbage in the morning and crazy delivery drivers."

"Sure.  Xander?"

"Having a moment.  Go inside, Sammy."  He got in to park it out of the way, back under some trees.  He put a tarp over it then headed inside once the alarm was back on.  He saw Sam putting up food.  "What's for dinner?"

"Food.  Unless I decide to fix you dog shit," Sam quipped.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "He picked on me for the last three hundred miles or so."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "That happens when you have siblings.  Jesse tried that with me a few times."  He went back to watching the house, then took Dean's phone from him, dialing the number for his father.  "Get your stupid ass the hell out of that town before your boys have to bury your dumb ass parts, John Winchester.  Or else I'm so calling Dawn and having her remove you and freeze you so you're the shopping approval committee for *all* the slayers.  Am I clear?  Because they need a hunter to raise the fucking demon and you're one, dumbass.  We have it on high from the Powers.  Cite *your* source," he said dryly when he complained.  "Good, fuctard, then get your ass out of there and any other hunters you have with you.  Before you all die because more hunters means stronger demon."  He hung up and tossed the phone back.  "You know, yelling at him cathartic."

"Next time I need to yell at him I'll let you do it for me," Dean offered, patting him on the back.  He went to help Sam.  "Xander swore at Dad."

"Good.  He's an idiot if he was staying over there."  He gave him a look.  "Now and then you get that from him."

"Shut up, Sammy."  He smacked him on the head.  "Not half as much as you do."

"Boys, unless this is your version of Dawnie foreplay, stop it," Xander snapped.

"Yes, mom," they called in unison.

Xander looked back at them.  "Don't tempt Willow.  She'll make me a woman and you two infants that I'll have to breastfeed."  He gave them a look when they gave him horrified looks.  "Understood?"  He turned back around.

"Are you sure she got help for that addiction stuff?" Dean asked.

"Yeah, we detoxed her before we sent her to Devon.  Then they did the Magic Anonymous thing for her."

"Maybe she should go back?"

"Should she do it, we'll call Nanny Grimsley," Sam reminded him.  "She said she helps chew Willow a new one now and then."  Xander nodded at that.  "She get her after you were turned into a cat?"

"Nope.  Got her the third time I was a cat though."  Someone pounded on the house's door.  "Around back, John!" he yelled.  He stomped that way.  "Your dad's here."  He let him inside without the invitation.  "Morning, dumbass."  He walked off shaking his head.  "Sam, no magic this stop, right?"

"No, no magic this stop, Xander.  Spell next week in PA and then onto Utah.  Then DC from there."  That got a nod.  "Are we hitting DC early?"

"Nope.  As soon as we step foot into town the demon's called and it'll be hunting until that specific date. We need to get there as late as possible and retrieve that other weapon first thing."  He sat down to watch the alley, ignoring John.  "I know I'm pretty, all the evil chicks say so, John.  Quit staring unless you're an evil chick too."  Sam smothered a laugh.

"Yeah, was gonna ask about that, Xander.  Succubus?"

"Good lays," Xander said.  "Takes some of the Sunnydale taint from me.  It's good sex.  I'm satisfied."  He shrugged.  "Why not."

"Do you have a death wish?" John demanded.

Xander looked at him.  "Ask me next month, John.  Right now I'm in 'doing what's necessary' mode.  Next month we'll have a bit of downtime after the case in Utah."  He got up.  "Get any chips, Sam?"

"Cabinet behind me."  Xander found them and sat down to nibble and watch outside.  "Should I be keeping these coins in a special box or something?"

"The closer it is to you the harder it is for the demon to take them," Dean reminded him.

"Dawn suggested we sew a skin flap inside his asshole and let them be slid in there so no one takes them," Xander quipped.

"That could work.  Sammy?" Dean asked.  John growled at his son.  "Relax, Dad.  We're just picking on him."  Sam punched him on the arm.  "Though it would be safer."

"Giles might know someone who could do that," Xander admitted.  He ate another chip.  "Then again, Dawn did say we could use you, Dean."

"Still not gay, Xander."

"She's sure Sam isn't.  She's not too sure about you."

"I'll pounce her the next time we run into her," he said dryly, looking at his father.  "Were you there alone?"

"Yes," he ground out.

"Good.  Then maybe we won't have to worry about it raising."

"Any hunter, including someone who hunts people to hurt them," Xander told him.  "They'll have a sudden drop in domestic abuse calls and rape calls."  He ate another chip.  John took the bag from him.  Xander kicked him on the leg and took it back.  "Mine."  He settled in again and went back to nibbling.  "Sam, want me to cook so you can help calm him down?  He sounds like Willow when she's gained water weight."  He ate another chip.

"Sure."  Xander came in to do that so he couldn't annoy John anymore.  He came out to look at him.  "We know what it takes to raise it.  We have the full prophecy.  Dawn even went over his translation to make sure it was correct."

"Apparently I shift tense a form of the verb 'be' that they were using," Xander said.  "Puts it into the future tense instead of the past.  The person who wrote down their vision put it in the past."  He went back to browning the hamburger.  He saw the box on the counter.  Hamburger helper was fine with him.  "Is one box going to be enough?  Dean eats like an ox."

"Some of us are hungry guys," Dean complained.  "I'll hold it in and finish the chips later."

"I got you your own bag so you two wouldn't argue," Sam told him, shaking his head a bit.  "So, dad, long time no see.  We should hit you for that."  Dean gave him a look.  Sam looked at him.  "What?"

"Okay, we were worried," Dean agreed, looking at their father.  "By the way, we have your journal, Dad."

"Thank you."  He sat down, staring at his boys.  "We got word that something's massing up this way."  Sam got the prophecy page and handed it over.  "It's only one page long?"

"No, that's the pertinent page for this event," Dean said.  "The whole thing's like eight hundred pages once you put in the specifics for some rites and some places and some demons."  He sat down too, sprawling out.  His father gave him a look.  "We've been driving since five.  I can get comfy."

"Fine."  He read it over, then handed it off.  "Why you two?"  Dean pulled his sword and turned it back into a sword, waving it a bit.  John sighed.  It was put back.  "So you were called like the mouthy one said?"  Both boys nodded.  "And him?"

"Xander and I were called as the first two warriors.  We'll be getting the third in DC."

"So you'll have to train them both?" he demanded.

"No, Dad, Xander's already pretty well trained in his areas.  I've had to teach him a few things to deal with stuff his people never did.  They didn't bother with ghosts and things.  He taught me how to use a sword pretty well and how to spot succuba.  They all flock to him like he's bird food in the park."  Xander cackled at that.  "They do," he called.

"Cheap, easy, good fun, Dean.  Stress relief for when your moral flashlight is starting to go out."

"I hit on the waitresses," Dean admitted.  "Sam huffs at me for it.  That must be his recharging cord."

Sam glared at him.  "I do hit on some of the women, Dean."

"Name one!" he snorted.

Sam glared at him.  "I got that one that you didn't last week."

"Yeah, because I gave up when I saw the scabs on her thighs."

"Those were from her getting a tattoo lasered off," Sam said smugly.  He sat down too.  "So, Dad.  How's it been going?"

"Not so good."  He looked in the kitchen then at his boys.  "Sam, son, I heard."

Sam nodded.  "One of us will get it."

"Dawn thinks it's off schedule or off ritual," Dean reminded him.  "She's looking it up for us in the Council's library.  It might help us track it better."  Sam grinned at him.  "What?  I like the hyper little babbling thing.  She's nice.  If I didn't already have you as a little sister I'd pick her.  She's definitely spunky and able to protect herself, even if she does worry about her nails."

"Then pounce her the next time she shows up," Sam offered.  "She was pretty decent about everything and emails me stuff about every other day to let us know what's going on up there and what she's got on research.  They've had another group of chaos people trying to open the hellmouth, Xander."

"That's fine, Giles can smack them around like he did Ethan back at home," Xander called back.  "How do I drain this stuff again?"  Dean came in to do that.  "Thanks.  I always manage to spill it when I pour the grease out and I never get it all with a spoon."

"That's fine."  He finished up and handed the pan back.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  He grinned.  "Just remember not to piss off Willow or else you'll end up my kids.  Then you'll be really screwed up."

Dean walked off laughing.  He turned around when he heard the squeak, picking up the lizard.  "She must've been listening."

"Calling," Sam agreed while Dean sat down to keep the Xander lizard calm.  "Dawn, us.  Xander's a lizard.  Iguana.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Not Willow, one of the other slayers is learning magic and followed her spell to see what had done it.  She thought it looked interesting."

"They let them get away with that?" John demanded.

Dean shrugged.  "They've got fourteen young slayers, two older ones, Dawn, Rosenburg, and the head of the new council in one building, Dad.  They're doing really good to make sure they can make it to bed on time."  Xander changed back in his lap.  "Hi."

"Hi."  He gave him a hug.  "Thanks."   He got up and went back to the kitchen.

"My son's not gay, young man."

"A hug can be between friends unless you're doubting your own sexuality," Xander said bluntly, giving him a look.  "I know where I stand on the gay/bi/straight divide, John.  You?"  He went red in the face.

"Guys," Dean said, standing up to break the eye contact.  "Dad, quit baiting Xander.  Xander, quit snapping back.  Please?  You promised we wouldn't destroy their guest house."

"Point," he muttered, getting back to dinner.  "Sam, milk?"

"Powdered stuff in the cabinet, Xander.  Mix it really well."  Xander found it and made a glass by the directions then poured it into the pan with the sauce mix.  Sam looked at his father.  "Dad, leave Xander alone.  He's been doing this now for nearly ten years.  I think he's more than good enough to fit up to our circle's standards."  He stood up and walked in there to help him.  He took the spoon.  "You okay?" he asked quietly.

Xander looked at him.  "I haven't cared what anyone thought about me for years, Sam.  But thanks."  He gave him a hug too and went to clean up.  "Dean, find plates or something?"

"Sure."  He found the stack of paper plates and got some out for them, handing John his.  Xander came out of the bathroom so he got his handed to him too.  Dean walked back in there.  "Can we call a truce?"  He sat down, getting comfortable again.  "Nice job, guys."  He dug in and Sam came out with the last of it.  "Nothing left?"

"Bread in the fridge, Dean."  He got some and came back.  "So, Dad, how's things been beyond this hunt?"

"Nothing too exciting.  You two?"

"The last fight was in a town that was partially controlled by vampires," Sam offered.

"Sam nearly got eaten while we were waiting for the demon to rise," Xander agreed.  "Next time he'll get the spot away from the vamps since he smells like the dinner bell for them."

"How many were there?" John asked Sam.

"Xander and I got the seven coming for me.  The rest we talked to.  They said it was consensual and they weren't hunting."

"Of course the demon lied so you staked them anyway?" John asked.

"We asked normal people too, Dad.  Including one who was a parent of one."  Xander looked at Dean, getting a nod back.  "That officer had a daughter who went over.  She asked his permission and everything."  He ate a bite of his dinner.  "Xander and I talked about it.  He felt it was like assisted suicide in those cases so he wasn't going to.  I decided that if they weren't hunting and it was consensual it wasn't anything I could do anything about.  It's none of my business as long as they don't hunt," he added when his father moaned.  "If they want to do the Ann Rice crap, that's their thing.  As long as they're not hunting or hurting others against their will, it's not our job."

"If they start it, we'll go back there," Sam agreed.  "I agreed at that time and I still do, Dad."

"I think there was an S&M club in town and that's how they were getting feeders," Xander offered.  "Remember that purple and black club?"

Dean nodded.  "I thought it was a goth club."

"It was called the Nailed Chain, Dean."

"Probably right then."  He ate a bite of bread with some of the sauce.  "Other than that, we did a lot of training with the swords.  We found out they can change shape and apparently I'm supposed to have the one in DC.  I'm not sure if those Powers weren't paying attention when they handed them out or what."

"It could've been on purpose so you know how to tell which is yours," Xander offered.  "Or they could've not been paying a lot of attention.  Take your pick."  He checked his watch.  "It's nearly seven.  I'm going to go visit Paul.  I'll be back in about an hour."  He finished dinner and headed outside, climbing up the trellis to his room.  "Hey."

"Hey," the man on the bed said weakly.  "Dad said you were here.  Mom's still throwing fits.  Why?"

"Prophecy in the next town."

"The demon raising using hunters' blood?"  Xander nodded.  "You got chosen again?"

"Yup.  Sucks to be me," Xander agreed, sitting on the foot of the bed.  "How you been?"

"Not bad.  Well, bad but not horribly so.  Some bad days, some more decent days.  They think they can finish closing off my side finally."


"Thanks."  He grinned weakly.  "Who's with you?"

"The Winchester brothers and at the moment their father because he was over there and being stupid.  So I called and told him that," he finished with a grin.

"Travers always did say your main ability was the ability to irritate others," Paul said dryly.  Xander beamed at him.  "How's it going otherwise?"

"Eeeh.  We can work together at the moment."  He curled up some when Paul's mother came in.  "Hi."  He watched her fuss at her son, even trying to feed him.

"Mom, my arms still work," he complained.  "Really.  Thanks though."  She stormed off.  "Sorry."

"She's your mother, Paul.  She's supposed to fuss because you're injured," Xander said quietly.  "Think how fussy Willow would become if it was me."

"I know," he muttered, eating a bite.  "Need some?"

"Nah, we had hamburger helper."

He finished his dinner and put the tray aside.  "So, now what?"

"Now, I need to know if you have plans for that town.  If it gets too horrible and evil, I need you able to call someone to evac the towns."

Paul nodded.  "That's sensible.  On the desk behind you is a binder of the surrounding areas.  I heard you had another one up here."

"Lower Vermont actually," Xander admitted, finding the binder.  He waved it and got a nod.  "Thanks, man."

"My father's been wanting to dig in my closet anyway," he said dryly.

"Any idea where they could be working from?"

"How cliche but the library or the high school are the only buildings big enough to raise it in.  The library does have a diagram on the floor that could be converted with a few scratches to eliminate lines."  Xander nodded, looking that up.  "It's also defensible."

"I can see that."  He looked at him.  "Been used?"  Paul nodded.  "Then we'll carefully scout that way."  He patted him on the hip.  "You can tell them I'm okay.  I got to yell at their dad like Dawn did."  He laughed and Xander had to help him sit up when he started to cough.  "None of that, dude.  You don't have the extra lung to cough one up," he teased.

"Oooh, that hurt," he said, laying back down.  "Thanks."

"Not an issue."  He gave him another pat.  "I'm going to go before your mother comes in to stab me for making that joke."

"If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have this other lung at all," he said blandly.  "Much less give her something to fuss over.  Did you ever find out why you were only knocked out?"

"The Powers sent me, Paul," he said quietly.  The man on the bed groaned.  "I had their protection for another day.  I'm lucky I woke up fast enough to save you."  He gave him a look.  "You know, there's nice wheelchairs and all.  You can become a professor, teach gifted kids...."

Paul snorted, shaking his head.  "I'd hate that.  I don't have the patience to teach mutants known as children."  He nodded at the window.  "Go ahead and head, Xander.  I'll be fine."

"No you won't be.  You're mortal and we all end up in the same place."

"Good point.  Still, only the good die young and I was on a capture team so I'm not."

Xander leaned down in his face.  "Bull, Paul.  You've done a lot to help Giles."  He sat up again.

"Yes, but if I redeem myself too much then I'm good again and then I too shall die young."

"Wes did.  Angel did."

"I doubt you could call a two-hundred-year-old vampire young."

"Spike did then.  Twice."

He shook his head.  "Perhaps you could count him on mental capabilities.  Like you."

Xander smirked. "You say the sweetest things, Paul."  He stood up.  "Let me run back there before John beats his boys to death.  He doesn't like me at all.  Or Dawn."  He smirked.  "She faced him down when she ran into him.  He just told me his sons aren't gay."

"Yes but if you were the world would miss finding all those evil women you seem to attract," Paul said blandly.

"Hey, I'm sticking with succuba recently," he defended with an evil little smirk.  "It's even taking some of the Sunnydale taint."

"Charming.  I'm sure Rupert is quite impressed with that."

"Who said we're sharing sex stories?  He'd be creeped out and so would I that he has some."  He shrugged then climbed out the window with the book.  "See you soon, Paul.  Yell if you need us."  He climbed down the lattice, heading back to the guest house.  He was knocked out as he walked in.

"Dad!" Dean snapped.  He and Sam came over to put Xander on the couch, him taking the book to look at.  "Hey, maps."  He put them aside.  "What did you do?"

"I heard he's got a side weakness."

"Dad, you could've gotten me coming through the door like that," Dean complained.  "Even if he does, he's got it compensated for in fights.  I made sure of it."  Sam got Xander some water when he started to groan.  "Hey, he's sorry.  He's being an ass."

"Willow can do that for you," he said, holding his cheek.  "Ow.  Fractured?"

"Nah, doesn't look it."  He helped him sit up.  Sam handed over the water.  "Here."

Xander sipped, nodding at the book.  "Paul thinks he knows where.  Not too many places big enough."

"Okay, we can handle that," Dean agreed.  "Where?"  Xander looked at John then at him.  "He's not that dumb.  He won't go alone.  If he tries, Sam and I get to tie him up and hand him to Bobby to beat senseless.  Again."  He shot his father a glare, getting a bland look back.  "Right, Dad?"

"Right," he said, coming over.  "I'm not stupid enough to take off on my own but we do need it scouted, kid."  He tipped the boy's face up to look at it.  "It'll bruise but you'll live."  He let go of his chin.

Xander looked at him.  "I have a skull fracture about ten inches from that, John."  The older man gave him a horrified look. That meant he could've killed the boy.  "Have now for about four years.  Don't do that again.  I'd hate to make your boys bury you and I am the mean one in this room."  He looked at Dean.  "The high school or the library are big enough.  Paul said the library's been used before.  It's got a floor mosaic with a diagram that only needs some lines taken out or covered to be used."  He finished the water, opening the book to show him.  "This is his information file on the surrounding areas."

"Okay," Dean agreed, sitting beside him to look it over.  "It's hard to get to."

"Paul called it defensible.  It looks like an old manor house that got transplanted."

Sam looked.  "It could be.  That was done plenty of times in New England."

"Thank you, Professor Archeology," Dean said.

"That's architecture, Dean," Xander said with a grin.  "Like my former construction stuff was.  Unless he's got the hat and the whip?"  The book got handed over.  They had front, back, and side pictures.  "If we could find a way through the squishy garden without leaving tracks, we could probably get in through this window by moving the a/c unit," he said.

Dean looked at the notes.  "It says it's not bolted in, it gets taken out every winter.  What's a clean room?"

"A room where you can pull out ancient books and not worry about them being hit with humidity, skin salts, those things.  Pure of contaminants that might ruin ancient books."

"Huh.  It says it's locked with a deadbolt but I'm guessing we can get it open easy enough," he said, reading over it.  "Why no tracks?"

"The normals, Dean.  They'll be looking."


"How about a daytime trip?" Sam suggested.

"They can still capture us during the daytime," Dean pointed out.

"So you go in pairs," Sam pointed out.  That got a nod and the two hunters looked at each other, nodding.

"Go get a library card?" Dean offered.

"Could," Xander agreed.  He grinned.  "Good idea, Sam."

"Thanks."  He sat down, smiling at his father.  "Then one of us can go with you a few days later."

"That'll work," John agreed.  "Dean, you and I go first?"

"No, Dad, since Xander and I have to actually fight there, we'll go first," he said bluntly, looking at him.  "I need to know the terrain.  Not like I spent a lot of time in libraries in high school."

"I did," Xander said.  "Right overtop of the hellmouth.  It's where we hung out and planned."

Sam shook his head quickly.  "That's insane."

"Giles was a librarian.  All the books, weapons, and him was in there.  Besides, the principal was a troll and he didn't come in there that often.  He was a bit scared of Giles."

"Literally?" Dean asked.

Xander got into his laptop to find his picture from a press release, letting him see it.  "Almost."

"Close enough for government work," Dean decided.  He handed it to Sam, who shuddered.  "He a prick?"

"All the time.  I got detention once for having untied sneakers and a shirt that was mis- buttoned because one broke."

Sam blinked at him.  "That was unfair."

"And?  He was on a power trip, Sam.  He was working with the mayor.  Actually, the mayor ate him first when he turned."

"Hopefully the giant tequila worm got indigestion before it died," Dean quipped.  Xander smirked at him.  "Okay, you and me tomorrow.  Sam, go over what kills it.  I don't wanna have another 'have to find a light in the middle of a park at night' problem."

"Sure, Dean.  It said silver and blessed objects.  Its skin is pretty tough but it can be killed by stabbing it through the brain or the liver."

"Which are going to be where?" Xander asked.  "And our swords aren't silver."

"Oh."  He got up to find it, coming back with it.  "Okay, here we go.  Liver is about ten feet off the ground.  Brain's on top of the head, which is between its legs."

"Like most guys," Dean agreed.

"Does it change or is it just like that?" Xander asked.  "Any growing time?"

Sam looked.  "Egg, ten minute super grow, then huge ass demon."  He looked at them.  "So maybe in that ten minutes or in the egg?"

"Is the egg able to be cremated or anything?" John asked.

Sam went back to reading, then shrugged. "Doesn't say, Dad."  He looked at Xander.  "We do know it'll be some demons summoning it.  It looks like getting them all before its summoned would be for the best.  Then we'd have to dig out the coin from the egg."

"If they're smart, they'll be there all day of it," Xander said, leaning back and thinking.  "Pretending to be kids roleplaying or something in one of the back rooms."  Dean gave him an odd look.  "Public library, Dean. You have to have a reason to hang around."

"Did you role play?"

"With Jesse."  He went back to the interior map.  "Floor diagrams on two different floors but it'll be about fifteen feet tall so I'm guessing it's the one in the mezzanine.  Or else there's not enough room."  He let him see.  "It'd be simple enough to hide from the librarians when they're closing up."  Dean nodded at that.  "We might want to do the same since by then they'll have their victims."

"The more the merrier," Sam reminded him.

"Yeah but they won't have time to prepare any they find that day," Dean pointed out.  "They have to be put through that purification ritual."  He read that part over.  "Which doesn't look fun.  It starts with an enema and ends with one with 'shrooms."

"I've heard of doing it with champagne," Xander offered.

John gave him an odd look.  "Are you sure you're not gay?"

"Why would it matter?  And yeah, I'm fairly certain I'm bi but your sons don't really do it for me and neither do you.  Anything else?"  John gave him a shocked look.  Xander stared back.  "I've done things that make most people find God, John Winchester.  I'm going to take my fun and ease those pains however I can.  Whether that includes plunging into a guy's ass or a girl's doesn't really matter to me most of the time."  He looked at the plans again.  "Still not going to jump you, Sam."

"Thanks, Xander."  He grinned at Dean.  "There's always Dawn's plan, Dean."

"Shuddup," he complained, going back to it.  He gave Xander a look.  "You're not, right?"

"Dean, don't you remember?  You get to have sex magic with the demon who's going to kill herself and possibly you soon.  Why would I want to ruin that for you by making it so you can only get it up for me?"

Dean burst out in snickers, shaking his head.  "Good one, Xander."  He got back to the plans.  "So we'll go the day of the event.  Say, early afternoon?  It says it closes at five.  We'll make sure of it.  Make up some lie about needing to check our email before we leave the next morning?"  Xander nodded.  "Okay.  Hiding spots?"

"Basement with a locked access.  Bathrooms, closet if there's not too much in there."  He pointed at those.  "You get to be slimed this time searching for it.  I had to dig into the last demon."

"Fine," Dean agreed.  "Remind me to take off my watch."  He got back to it.  It was only fair.  "Can't Sam?"

"Do you really want him in town that day?"

"No," he decided.  "He's too valuable to risk by the prophecy, especially with that first thing.  Sorry, Sammy."

"Not a problem, Dean.  I'll get the next hunt we have since they'll be coming for me."

Xander looked at him.  Then at Dean.  "Want me to tag along instead of heading directly to Utah?"

"You'll be nearby the day it happens anyway," Dean reminded him.  "Shouldn't be necessary."

"Okay.  Let me know."  He went back over the plans.  "Third level reading room."

Dean looked at it.  "Probably only used by the book nerds like Sammy.  Probably quiet too."

"Two closets?"

"Two closets," Dean agreed.  "We'll check it out slowly and carefully tomorrow.  Go on a tour then do the email thing or something."  They nodded.  "Okay, anything else we have to deal with?"

"Sleep," Sam said.  "Eating.  Make sure all the demons are the same type so they're all killed with the same thing."

"Silver, but more minor amounts," Xander told him.  "So Dean could shoot them if he wanted to."

"You could too," Dean agreed.

"With the way this is feeling my aim would go wide," Xander said, looking at him. "I'm not having the good feeling."

"Do you get visions?" John asked.

"Caleb tried really hard but I only get them when they relate to me."

Dean nodded.  "Then we'll be on careful watch.  Sam, take first watch tonight?"  He nodded.  "Good.  Dad, take dawn.  I'll get woken by Sam, I'll wake Xander."  They both nodded.   "Then let's hit the sack.  We can't be tired and we've been on the road since five this morning."  He got up and went up to the room they had claimed.

"We need time to do the mundane stuff tomorrow too," Xander pointed out.  "Unless you found a washer?"  Sam shook his head.  "Then I'll find one and do it when we have a few free minutes."  He got up.  "Night all."  He headed up to his room and laid down - his head was throbbing and he needed to take something for it.  He got up to deal with his eye wash for the night then laid back down.  It'd be fine.  He knew he could make it fine.  No matter how bad his senses were telling him this was going to be.


Xander looked up from doing his wash when an older lady walked in, nodding politely at her then going back to his book.  Something was feeling very wrong to him.  He checked the laundry, seeing it was about half dry.  So he put down his book and went to look outside.  Dean was at the hardware store getting something.  He could barely see his car up the street.  Xander looked the other direction.  Still nothing.  He heard movement behind him and turned to find a giant worm behind him.  "Huh.  I forgot why Paul got involved with the Watchers.  You're here."  He shrugged and went back to looking outside.  "I'm not the one you want to jump, lady."

"Tainted," she hissed, wiggling closer.

Xander turned to look at her, then shrugged.  "Hellmouth born."  The demon hissed again.  It bent down to sniff him.  "Oh, get off."  He shoved at her.  "I'm not going to feed you; I worked with a slayer."  The demon hissed again and tried to bite him.  John came rushing in but Xander had pulled out the pocket knife that turned back into a sword, and went through her twice before he could pull his gun.  Then Xander looked at his clothes.  "Eww."  He grabbed something from the dryer to put on, tossing the now very dirty and slimy clothes into a free washer.  He added his special anti-slime mix to the soaking water, then went to toss the pieces out back into the alleyway.  He came back in and checked, but his pocket knife was in John's hand.  "Mystical weapon please?" he asked as he snatched it.  He slid it back into his pocket and went to fold the stuff that was dry enough.  The rest got combined into the dryer with the most time and another quarter was added.


"I fought in Sunnydale, John.  I've seen stranger than the demon worm who ate any guys who aren't virgins."  He finished folding and stuffed those into his duffle bag, going to switch the laundry's cycle around.  It went onto a heavy wash and more of the anti-slime mix was added.  Then he looked at him, seeing the horrified look.  "I've been doing what I'm doing now for almost ten years.  It'll be ten years in October."  John shuddered.  "So let's give me *some* credit, okay?  It's not like I didn't help during the battle with the First Evil.  Or Glorificus.  Or any of the other ones.  Even when my girls became trifling bitches now and then I was still there.  So jump on another ship, John.  The cabin boy doesn't want fucked up the ass anymore."  He went back to the dryer, finding most everything done.  The washer cut off for the rinse cycle.  Xander reached down to pull the plug so he could restart it.  He plugged it back in and started it again with the heavy wash cycle, again adding the anti-slime mix.  "This is so much easier at home."  He went to fold the rest of the dry stuff.  The guy who ran the laundry came in.  "Hey."

"Did you just unplug one?"

"I needed to restart it at the wash level.  I plugged it back in."

"Are you dying in there?"

"No, I had some slime.  I added special stuff to cut it.  It'll make sure the machines's clean too."  That got a nod and a look that said the guy would be checking.  "Oh, the worm thingy that eats non-virginal, non-married males?  Gone."


Xander grinned.  "She tripped over that bar out back and ripped herself apart trying to get back up off her back."

"Oh.  I didn't know it was that simple."

Xander shrugged.  "Sometimes it is.  Sometimes it's not."

"Are you one of Paul's friends?"

"I'm the one who brought him home.  I'm handling another problem locally, next town over.  Heard anything strange going on over there?"

"It's always strange over there but nothing particular.  Tell Paul I said hi."

"Sure, I can do that."  He grinned and got back to his laundry folding and stuffing.

The owner looked at John.  "It's nice that the Watchers finally got people who aren't snobby bastards."

"It is," he agreed.  "Though Xander's apparently very original."

Xander just grinned.  "Well, yeah, and I'm still not sleeping with your sons."  The owner laughed and Xander finished up, coming over to take his clothes out when they were done washing and putting them into the same warm dryer.  A few more quarters from his roll and they were set.  They'd be dry in a half-hour.  Xander sat down with his book.  It was a good story.

John shook his head, going to find Dean and Sam.  "He's got one last load in the dryer."

Dean looked over from fixing a paint ding on his hood.  "How long?"

"Half an hour.  It went in when the worm splashed him."

"Eww."  He shuddered then went back to fixing the paint job.

"He drove anyway," Sam pointed out.

"Did you know what a smartass he is?"  Both boys nodded.  "And how dangerous and burned out he is?"

Dean looked at him.  "Yeah, I'm seeing him and you the same way sometimes," he said.  "Those same nights you head to a bar and don't come out for three days is burnout, Dad.  We're hoping that some of this is solved before we get there too."  They shared a look and he went back to his touch-up.  "There, it'll dry and hopefully be fully covered."

Sam looked.  "Missed the lower one, Dean," he said with a point.

Dean moved to fix that one too.  "Thanks."

"Branch?" John asked.

"Claw," Sam said.  "The thing rushed us in the car.  It ran into us."  He shrugged.

"Still better than Xander being hit by that trooper going eighty," Dean muttered.

"Maybe Dawn'll put the bodywork spell on the Impala," Sam offered with a grin.

Dean looked at him.  "No spells on the car, Sammy."  He went back to fixing it.  "I can do nearly everything she needs.  We don't need that sort of help most of the time."


"Bodywork spell?" John asked.  Sam nodded.  "To fix the car?"

"He has one to do his engine when it starts to go too," Dean told him.

"Why can't he fix it?"

"Never learned," Dean told him.  "Faith knows how.  She learned in jail."  He looked up.  "That would be one of the senior slayers by the way."  John gave him a horrified look.  Dean smirked.  "She's not that bad.  We talked for a few minutes when she and Willow brought his car to him in Iowa."

"I wondered if he had it with him like you had yours or if he had somehow made it back to Cleveland in extra speedy time," Sam said, leaning against the side of the car.

"No, it was us, breakfast, that book, and the Impala.  He had his wallet and cellphone.  I fortunately had the keys."  Dean looked at him.  "Willow brought it to the gear shop he knew about with Faith.  She was there to pick up a wedding dress they had customed so one of the younger slayers could carry weapons during her wedding."

John shook his head.  "She'll have to?"

"Don't know," Dean admitted.  "She might just want to.  Then again I heard she was pregnant when they found her."  He shrugged and got back to work.

"How are there more than one?"

"Xander the first time then Willow," Sam told him.


"Xander did CPR when Buffy was drowned, hence there being two.  Then during the whole First Evil thing Willow activated the others."

"Which is why they had twenty-four and ten were good enough to get assigned already," Dean finished.  "The other fourteen are down there and Xander was working on their self- defense and weapons skills for things like crossbows and swords."

"He's still jerky when he moves, son.  So are you."

Sam grinned.  "When they're called, they're given all sorts of information.  Fighting styles, weapons work, all that stuff, Dad.  All he had to do was push them into using it."

"Oh."  He looked up the street at the laundry, watching Xander drag his duffle out.  "He goes with that much clothes?"

Dean looked then shrugged.  "Means he doesn't have to do that as often as we do.  He also has a bigger trunk."  He finished and recapped the paint pen.  "There.  Beautiful again."  He patted the hood and walked around.  Sam slid into his side.  His father got into the back with a grumble.  "Did you get the shells and stuff?"  John nodded, pointing at the bag.  "Cool."  He headed back the borrowed house.  Xander was already back there going through his trunk.  Dean came over to look, pointing at something.  "What's that?"

"Slingshot."  He grinned at him.  "Good for annoying slayers on their first patrol when they're goofing off."  Dean snickered, walking off shaking his head.  He finished arranging things then closed the trunk, heading inside.  "Okay, what'm I doing, Sam?"

"Come help me melt silver, Xander."  He came back there to help him.  "We've got to melt then pour," he said grimly.

"I'm not great at pouring at the moment," he admitted, "but I can help melt."

"That'll work."  He added more silver chain from the pawn shop to the small pot.  "That should be enough."

Dean came in waving something.  "We have mail."

"From...." Xander asked.

"Your people."  Xander took it with a light snatch, looking at it with a sigh of displeasure.  "Wedding invitation?"

"Yup and I can't be back there until after DC."  He put it down then jiggled the pot a bit.  "Should we stir?"

"It'll waste some," Dean said, coming over to show him how it was done.  "You want to pour?"

"Pouring and I don't always get along these days," Xander said quietly.

"Okay."  He watched him look at the invitation.  "She good?"

"She's fine.  It's the weekend after we should be done in DC."  He put it into his things and came back.  "So I can probably go to it as long as we don't die in DC."  He looked at the other things.  "Rock salt?"

"It can bust up a ghost long enough to let you burn their remains," Dean said.

Xander looked at him.  "Then what do you do if they're cremated?"

Dean blinked.  "Never seen one."

"No, we haven't," Sam said.

Xander shrugged.  "Fred was cremated by the portal that she threw herself into to close it.  Instant burn."

"Huh," the brothers said.  "We'll have to figure that out."  They went back to making new silver bullets.

Dean looked at him.  "Why can't you pour?"

"Depth perception issues."

Dean looked at him.  "Would this be the same weakness you have compensated for?"  Xander nodded.  "Okay."  He went back to it.  "So far it hasn't mattered."

"I walked into a door this morning but it usually doesn't."  He held the tray steady while Sam poured. "Are we making them uneven?"

"He'll fix that," Dean promised.  Sam did go back to fix the few that were lower in their molds.  Then he nodded and went to help his father pack rock salt into shotgun shell casings.

"Leave it here?" Xander asked.

"Yeah, if you put them into the fridge they can crack," Sam said with a small smile.  They both went to help pack bullets.  Xander knew how to make regular ones so he got to do that with the silver ones they had in reserve.

Dean tested one.  "A bit weak of the bond, Xander."

"I get better distance with mine," he said, taking it back to press it down again for him.  "How's that?"

He looked then shook his head.  "Still pretty loose."  He got up to try it but it wasn't going to press down any farther.  "Is it the press?"

"No, the head's a bit too big for that one," Sam said, snatching it and handing him another one.  Dean nodded that one was fine.  Sam checked the others, taking the heads to melt down while Xander packed the new ones into their new shells.

Dean watched him then got back to his own duty.  "So, Xander.  When were you injured?"

"Caleb.  Minion of the First.  Insane preacher person.  Believe it or not, Spike saved me from him totally ruining me.  Then Buffy cut him in two."

"Wow."  Dean looked at him.  He knew it was his eye now.  He couldn't tell that one was cloudy or anything.  Xander stared back.  "The saline solution?"

"I don't make tears from that side anymore so it gets too dry.  I have to do an eyewash every night."

"Oh.  Okay.  Doesn't bother you during the day?"

"It's not that hard to deal with if it does.  Only takes a minute and some contact saline solution."

"Good.  That's something nice to have anyway for rinsing out wounds."

"True," Xander agreed, getting back to work.  "Some of these are still a bit soft, Sam."

"Sometimes they do that.  It usually means there's a bubble."  Xander tossed him that one so it could be remelted.  "Do we need to do any of yours?"

"I have mine blessed," Xander admitted.  "I buy off the shelf for most of my collection.  I can hand-pack because we had to in Sunnydale.  Now and then Giles was cheap.  Not that Buffy used guns but now and then we had to.  I was working on a wooden one but it was never hard enough.  If I could've teflon coated I think it might've worked."

"The teflon would've come off after release from the barrel," Dean said, thinking about it.  "It still might compact in the air but it should still work."

Xander nodded.  "That's what I was thinking but I don't know how to teflon coat bullets."


"No one I know can either, son."

"We'll ask around, Xander.  That way we can test it the next time Sam gets jumped by seven vampires."

Xander looked at him.  "He managed to get at least three of them."

"Good!  I'd hope he had some sense."

"He was running when I heard him.  He didn't pull a Buffy or a me and stand there to do it by himself."

John gave him a look.   "You did?"

"Not much choice.  They managed to get into my building and woke my ass up," Xander said bluntly.  "Anya wasn't going to.  Buffy quipped while she did hers."

"She's probably trying to hide her burnout," John said.

"No, she's just like that.  Always has been," Xander told him.  "Then again, my ex Cordy perfected the 'you broke my nail, bastard' attack."  He shrugged and got back to it while Dean laughed.  "You'd have to meet Cordelia.  You really would."

Dean nudged him with his shoulder.  "It could be much worse."

"Yeah, we could still be dating.  Or Anya and I could've gotten married.  She'd still be pouting about never getting her powers back."

"She was a witch?"

"Yeah and then they offered her a spot on the vengeance demon team," Xander said.  "Over women scorned."  John dropped the shell he was working on.  Dean and Sam both snickered.  "After she made an alternate reality for Cordelia her power center got broken by accident when we stepped on it coming out of that issue.  So she decided I was going to date her.  Hadn't had sex in eleven hundred years.  Fortunately she could do a stamina spell our first few times."  He got back to what he was doing, tossing another at Sam.  "One of the molds is a bigger size."

"Oops.  I'll find it and fill it in," Sam said.  "I think this one's been melted too many times."

"Then make them into bits and pieces to put in with the rock salt," Xander told him.  "It won't have to hold a shape."

"Good idea," Dean agreed.  "You were really going to marry her?"

"Yeah, I left her at the altar after some of her coworkers showed me how miserable we'd be.  I couldn't do that to her.  So she got her powers back and went back to it, then figured out she had a conscience now so she couldn't after nearly killing a frat house for hurting one girl.  She came back to being a normal human witch again and we were making moves back toward friendship when things went to hell, nearly literally."  He grinned at Dean.  "Before you ask, I didn't see any televangelist or politicians during the battle.  Just a lot of super-vamps.  Then again it was only one hell dimension.  They could've been in another one for all we know."

"You're strange, Xander," Dean told him.

"You try being me.  All I'm ever surrounded by are slayers and witches."  He gave him a look.  "Like Willow.  Hi, Willow."  She stomped in.  "I'll be at the wedding if I can."  He got back to his task, finishing the last one.  "Okay.  Check those for me?"  Dean checked then nodded and put them into the box of bullets for later use.  He grinned at Willow.  "What's up?"

"Doctor's appointment for your eye?"

He shrugged.  "Not really necessary and can't really do it," he said dryly.  "I'll try when we get a longer break.  Oh, Dean, medical records are in the glove box if we ever need them."  That got a nod.  He looked at Willow again.  "What else is up?"

"You're not answering your email."

"I'm not supposed to be talking to you guys until after DC so I can't get sucked in and miss the battle in Utah."

"Crap.  Faith's missing."

He sighed, rubbing his forehead.  "I'm assuming scrying, plotting, and those things aren't working?"  She shook her head.  "Is she kidnaped missing or just missing and went on a bender due to this being the anniversary of when she killed the guy next week?"

She slumped.  "I didn't realize it was next week.  I know she takes off most years."

Xander nodded.  "She probably did this time too.  Either that or you might ask the agents who're bothering you guys if they know.  I'm sure if they're watching they're having her tracked."

"Good idea."  She got up and kissed him on the head, then stared at Dean.  "Date him for us please?  That way he quits picking up dangerous women?"

"Can't do that, not gay.  At the most it'd be stress relief."

"Shoot.  What about the other one?"

"Sam?  No."

She glared at him.  "So it was you."

Sam looked back at her.  "Dawn asked when Nanny Grimsley said she was in danger if she didn't.  It was her choice.  I don't have to force women, Willow."

Dean loaded a shotgun and gave her a pointed look.  She huffed off.  He looked at his little brother.  "Welcome."

"Thanks."  He came over with the parts so they could load some shells with those too.  The paint pen marked around which ones had it.  Then they got packed too.  Xander went to take a nap.  Dean went over the plans he had for the library.  They had been doing a bit of construction in one area so they had to modify what they were going to do.


Xander was on watch when he saw the people on the lawn.  He opened his phone to call over there but he didn't have a signal.  "What a time for them to go down," he muttered.  "GUYS!" he shouted.  Dean came jogging down as he ran out the door.  He knew what they were going to do.  Paul had been a hunter, he'd be worthy blood and it was the right date for them to gather him.  "Get out of here!" he snarled at one, spinning him around and glaring at him.

The lights came on.  "Who're they!" Paul's mother demanded.

"Unless one of you know them they're here to take your son," he said bluntly.

Another one rushed in from the front door, shooting wildly.  "Die!"

"No!" Xander snapped, shooting him back, then he killed the one next to him.  The demon turned back into human but he didn't care.  He rushed up to Paul's room to see if he was still there.  When he wasn't, he headed out.  He knew where they were keeping them, he thought.  Plus he had a better engine than whatever car they were using.

Dean rushed over to the other house, going to deal with the demons.  He frowned when one turned into a human after it was dead.  "Sam, get someone!"  He nodded, calling in help before taking on another demon.  He found Paul's father already dead.  His mother was sobbing and holding her injured arm.  "Shh," he said, squatting down in front of her.  "Where's Paul?"

"They must've taken him.  Xander rushed off," she said, gulping air.  Cops rushed in.  "Oh, God, they came after Paul!" she wailed.  "Xander went after them!"

Dean looked at the officer.  "I'm helping Xander."

"We heard."  He helped her up to look at the injury.  "Get her somewhere," he ordered.  He looked at the mess then at the two boys.  He saw Sam fighting with one on the back lawn and watched as it turned into a human when it died.  "They all do that?" he asked with a nod.

Dean looked then nodded.  "All but his father, yeah.  He was dead when I checked.  In the living room."

"How did you hear?"

"Xander yelled.  He apparently took off to find Paul."

"Go."  He nodded, going to finish getting dressed and do that with John.  The officers looked around.  "This is a damn mess," he said, calling in help.  "This is Perkins.  Some strange people came for Paul Masters.  The guests with them went after the boy.  There were intruders here.  Bring bags and gloves."  He hung up and went to check the rest of the house.  One of them came out of hiding in the bathroom so he shot it.

Sam rushed in and stabbed it.  "Sorry, won't work.  Have to sever things."  He helped him back downstairs, bandaging the cuts.  More cops rushed in.  "I'm here helping Paul, guys.  One attacked him."  Paramedics rushed him off and the others came in to deal with this.  Sam decided he was tired of handing out excuses the normal people would deal with.  Someone here had a clue and the worst they could do was hold him. "They were demons, they turned back into humans when you killed them.  They're the reason we're here because they're raising something this week."

"Like the worm thingy that ate slutty boys?" one asked.

Sam looked at him.  "There is?"

"Yeah," he said, nodding.  "You friend cut her up pretty good but she kinda regrew a bit."

"We'll see if we can handle that on the way out," he said dryly.  "But yeah, only worse and bigger.  Like fifteen feet tall bigger."

The officers all nodded.  "Okay," one said, grinning at him.   "Anything we should know?"

"One of them took Paul.  Dean, our Dad, and Xander all took off to get them."

"Interesting, but we won't stop someone going that fast this time at night unless they're drunk, son.  Go ahead back to the guest house, let us clean up this unholy mess."  He nodded and went to do that.  "Okay, anyone who wasn't a demon?"

"The boy's father's in the living room," one said, coming back from looking.  "No more that I could find, boss."

"Good.  Clean it, let the local priest deal with it."  They nodded, gathering up bodies to cart over to the church.  He could deal with this stuff.  The father was carefully gathered and brought back to the morgue.  His wife could deal with him later.


Xander woke up suspended to a pipe by his wrists, frowning up at it.  His head was very cloudy.  "Know I didn't wreck the car," he muttered to himself while he checked the bindings.  He was clearly drugged.  Everything had a nice pink halo around it.  He was so screwed.  He saw his pocket knife on the table across from him and blinked.  "You didn't change this time?"  He sighed.  Psychological bullcrap, putting it in front of him to give him hope.  Well, he was better than they thought.  He concentrated, wincing at the feeling of the drugs not parting to make way for the magic.  He tried harder.  "I am better than Luke.  I do have the force," he muttered over and over while he worked.  The knife came flying back, letting him open it and saw through the ropes.  He landed and it turned into a sword.  He cut down the others and went hunting.  He knew they had taken Paul.  He was in fragile shape.  A few of the demons rushed him so he killed them, wincing when they turned back into humans.  He kept going.  He had to keep going.  It was light outside and that was a bad sign.  He got another demon then stabbed something coming through the door.  He walked through it.  "Paul!" he yelled.  He heard a groan so he went that way, dealing with the demons around the injured man's body.  "Hey."

"Xander, get help?" he asked weakly.  "I think the stitches are infecting."

"I can do that, buddy.  Come on.  Like last time."  He looked at the wound then winced when green puss came out.  "That's not an infection, Paul.  That's nasty."  He lunged up to get the two demons coming for him this time, getting them down.  "Fuckers."  He felt someone coming up on his blind side and turned to get them too, two quick stabs and they were done with.  He turned back to Paul.  "Okay, I'm taking you into the other room.  It's got light and other victims."  He picked him up, letting him ride piggy-back on him.  He let him down carefully on the other victims then went to finish cleaning out the nest.  He heard someone banging on the door at the top of the stairs and headed up there cautiously, looking at the woman.  "You're not one of the demons."

"No," she said weakly.  "I'm not.  They're here?"

He nodded.  "Were.  Eggs?"

"Um....  We guard them....." she said, trailing off at his look.  "Are you all right?"

"The other victims need an ambulance.  Especially Paul.  He's got gangrene it looks like." She rushed off.  He leaned against the wall, head against the concrete while he rested.  He heard movement and looked back as more demons rushed in.  "I love summer emptiness."  He attacked them, driving a few outside.  The drugs were wearing out with all this exercise.  He ran one into John, but Dean got him from behind.  "Thank you!  Victims in the basement," he panted.  "Including Paul.  Gangrene."  John rushed that way.  "Principal guarding the eggs."  Dean ran to do that while he finished off the last three demons.  By then his head was swimming and he was really tired.  He collapsed on the stairs, looking at the paramedics who came up, stopping one by grabbing his ankle.  "They drugged us," he said calmly.  "Including 'shrooms later.  There's like five steps, all enemas."  That got a nod.  "Paul's side has gangrene," he said when he tried to get free.  "I piled the victims together."

"Okay.  We'll get them to your kind's hospital," he promised, heading to deal with that.  The injury on the one guy made him hiss and wince in sympathy.  "Let's hope they can cure that, sir."

"I need a human hospital or a Mohr demon's blood," he said.

"We'll get you some blood over at your own kind's hospital."  He picked him up, letting the others get the others.  "The guy outside with the sword said that the drugs were administered by enema, at least five steps, he said mushrooms came later."  They nodded, making note of that.  "They all human?"  That got another nod and they took the victims out.

Dean pressed the principal against the wall.  "The eggs so we can keep one from rising?"

"We guard them," she said weakly.

"Those guys weren't guarding, they were activating them, lady.  Where?"  She winced as his gun became a sword, starting to shake.  "Now!" he snapped.  She nodded, leading him to a different room in the basement.  He looked at the racks of eggs.  "Damn it, how do we find out which one they're using?"

"They're all still here."

He looked at her.  "One of them was infected with something small, gold, and a coin."  She groaned, slumping some.  "Any idea?"

"We can tell which ones might be active."  She went to get the small box, letting him use it.  "If it beeps, they're able to be awakened this year."

He took the ones that it could be, carrying them upstairs to put in the trunk.  His father was guarding Xander.  "He good?"

"No.  He's asleep again.  The boy sleeps more than anyone I know."

"I don't think he gets all the sleep we think he does," Dean said dryly.  He went back to recheck the eggs, then got into the demon's bodies.  Another stab and they turned back to demon.  He turned when he felt something coming down, a huge demon wearing a few of the coins.  "Huh," he said.  "Peaceful?"  The demon growled.  "I guess not."  He lunged in to get him.  He still wasn't that comfortable with a sword but he had seen this one in one of the books.  He knew he had to cut off its head.  He finally managed it then grabbed the coins he was wearing.  He ran the meter over him and found another one, stabbing him in the stomach so he could reach inside and get it.  "Eww.  Now I know why Xander didn't want to do this."  He found it and came out with it, shaking off his hand.  "Silver?"  He shrugged and put it in with the other ones, walking out after rechecking the basement area.  He found his father had Xander in the back of the Impala. "He still asleep?"

"Nearly had a nightmare, flinched when I tried to touch him to wake him, shifted a few times, then went back to sleep," he reported.

Dean held up the coins.  "Now we have to get the things out of the eggs.  I'm all for Sammy doing it."  He got in to drive, heading back to the other house.  He found Paul's mother pacing.  He walked up to her.  "They put Paul in the hospital.  Need a ride?"

She blinked at him.  "You found him?"

"Xander freed him.  We freed Xander."

She slumped, nodding.  "Was he all right?"

"Xander told one of the paramedics his side was infecting," Dean said quietly.  "Do you want a ride, ma'am?"

"No.  I have someone who can," she said, straightening up.  "Thank you, young man."

"Not an issue.  Let us know if we can help while we're here."  She nodded, walking off.  He went to help carry Xander around to the guest house.  "Sam, go get the eggs, crack the eggs, dig out the coins.  I got more in my pockets."  Sam grimaced but did that.  He looked Xander over.  "You are the king of head injuries aren't you?" he asked dryly.  His cellphone rang.  "Yeah?"  He blinked.  "I'll come pick it up in a few.  No, we weren't sure where his car was," he told the officer.  "Was it wrecked?  Oh, they were moving the bodies and got him.  Okay.  We'll be over in a few."  He looked at John.  "Let him sleep it off."  He walked off.  "You can crack the eggs, just find all the gold coins."  He gave Sam a nudge.  "We've gotta pick up Xander's car."

"Sure."  He jogged in to pat him down.  "No keys?" he called.

"Maybe they're there.  If not, they're at the high school."

"I thought they were storing them closer to the library," Sam complained.  "It makes no sense to carry them across town before the thing happened."  He got into the car, letting Dean back down the driveway.

"They had whole racks of eggs," Dean said grimly.  "Maybe they were picking which one would raise with the victims."

"No wonder you came home with so many."  It wasn't a long drive, only ten miles.  "Did you two get pounced last night?"

"Three times," Dean agreed.  "Then my sword decided to activate on the seat when Xander's did apparently.  It led me to him."

"Good to know.  Dawn's blessing?"

"Maybe.  Like I know," he muttered.  They found his car and Sam got out to search it.  An officer brought back a baggie and Sam found the keys and Xander's phone and wallet in it.  "Thanks."  That got a nod and they left.  That town was nearly as freaky as Sunnydale had supposedly been.  He'd have to ask Dawn about that.  They got back and found John still watching Xander.  "He have more nightmares?"  John nodded.  "Figures.  Eggs?"

"Eggs," Sam complained, going to get the last few from the trunk.  They set up a spot on the grass and cracked them with hammers, digging inside the black goo to find the small, gold coins.

"This is nastier than we usually deal with," John complained.

"Yeah, ya think?" Dean asked.  His father glared at him.  "What?  Xander had to take the first one out of the demon's chest cavity, dad.  These are just eggs.  We've got another seventeen that we'll have to check."  He found his next one, shaking his hand to sling off the goo.  It got tossed into a pile with the others that had been found.   "Is that one silver?" he asked.

"Yeah, why?" Sam asked, letting him see it.

"One of the ones I took off the last demon was silver.  I'll dig them out in a few."  Sam nodded, he'd look at them later.  "Can we at least burn them later?" Dean asked.

"Please, they stink," John said.

Sam shrugged.  "I don't see why not."  They had seen the leaf burn barrel and drug the empty shells over there.  John gathered the coins to wash them off in the kitchen.  Dean went to get the lighter fluid.  It was a pretty bonfire.  Sam looked at his brother, who was staring at the fire.  "What?"

"Xander fights much better than I do," he said quietly.  "He took out most of the demons drugged."

Sam gave him a nudge on the arm.  "Think about why he can do that, Dean.  It doesn't make him better, it means he had to do it before."  Dean nodded that was probably true.  "Besides, you still beat him in self-defense stuff.  So bar brawls are all yours."

"Maybe," he said, cheered up a bit.  "Thanks, Sammy."

"Quit calling me that," he complained.

"No."  He walked off.  "Do the goo too?"  He walked inside to shower.  He was nasty and there was sweat underneath the slime making it itch.  Xander was in a little ball on the couch under the throw John had tossed on top of him.  "Xander, shower?" he called.  One skinny finger poked out.  "Okay.  When you come down then."  He went to shower, thinking while he scrubbed.  The black goo was *not* going to come off without it.  It also stained as he found out when he looked at his hands.  He came out to call Dawn.  "Black demon goo from the eggs stains skin?"  He listened to how it was fixed.  "Thanks.  No, he's good.  Sleeping it off.  Paul might be fine.  Yeah, they did so Xander took off to save him.  Thanks, Dawnie."  He hung up and went to find some vinegar at the main house.  Then he trudged back there.  "The black goo needs to be soaked off with vinegar."

"Wet down a towel and use it to wrap your hands," Sam ordered.  Dean nodded that was wise and went to do that before getting dressed in something clean that wasn't going to get stained.  Sam shook his head, poking a shell with a stick so it fell deeper into the fire.  John came out checking Dean's clothes for things then threw them in there too.  "That bad?"

"Yeah."  He walked back inside, going to clean those coins as well.  It was really nasty.

Sam checked himself.  Not any on him. He had been using a towel to shield himself as he cracked them.  His hands were messy but he could fix that later.  When it was finally out he went inside to check on Xander, finding him still under the blankets.  He peeked in and grinned when he saw him awake.  "You good?"

"Mushrooms bad when it goes up your butt.  Funner when you nibble."

"I'll take your word for it, Xander.  Want to clean up?"  Xander shook his head.  "Why not?"

"The needle's coming to suck at the other eye."

"Okay.  I'll let you hide down here until you're down and the needle's gone."  He put down the blanket and went to take some of the vinegar from Dean.  "He said there's a needle coming to suck at his other eye."

"He can hide until he comes down," John said calmly.  "I've never seen anyone react that strongly."

"He said it's better fun when you nibble on them," Sam told him.  John gaped.  He shrugged.  "Who knows how he knows that.  Then again, doing it in an enema would lead directly to the blood stream.  I looked up alcohol ones.  It's led to a lot of cases of alcohol poisoning."

"Waste of good liquor," John muttered, walking out to check on the fire and the lawn.  "We should bury this."

"We'll burn it clean in a few," Dean called.   He looked at his brother.  "Think he was trying it out or what?"

"Who knows," he repeated.  "He did have that first road trip."

"Good point."  He looked at his hands.  "This is going to take forever."

"It'll fade.  We'll pick up more to soak with later."  Dean nodded, going back to trying scrub it off.  Sam wrapped his hands with a soaked towel then gave him a nudge.  "Make sure Xander doesn't freak out."  He went to do that while Sam soaked his hands.  Dean had some up to nearly his elbow on one arm.  Sam barely had some on his palms.  It was more efficient this way.


They finally got to Utah after the spell that Sam had to do for them.  It wasn't a hard one and it was necessary to release some of the magical tension in the area they were traveling through.  Utah was a whole different matter.  The people gave them suspicious looks.  One had bluntly asked them if they were in a gang.  Dean's answer of 'do I look like I'm wearing a bandana and colors' wasn't appreciated but it was a gas station.  The motel didn't want to rent a double room to Dean and Sam, even pointing out that they were brothers, but felt comfortable renting one to Sam and Xander for some reason.  Dean was highly confused.  Maybe the guy was another member of the 'Sam and Dean are having sex' club but him and Xander were better?  Who knew with some people.

They got there about a day before the fight this time.  Xander had the longer trip because he had been called to deal with something in St. Louis for Dawn.  So when he got there he was exhausted, having driven most of the day and the night to get there in time.  Sam was giving him worried looks but Dean shook his head that it'd be fine.  It was, even through most of the fight.  Xander had *some* sleep in his system.  Not a whole lot but some.  Sam had told him that there'd been a lot of nightmares.  So he was still somewhat tired when they were jumped by the demon.  It was making Xander clumsy.  It was also pissing Dean off when he realized how injured Xander actually was.  No one had told him that he was missing an eye.  How could he not tell him!  They got the demon killed, even though Xander slipped again, then faced off with him.  "Xander."  Xander panted, looking over at him.  "You *lost* the eye?  Or are you just blind in it?"

"Lost it," he said quietly, standing up and walking over.  "A few weeks before the last battle in Sunnydale."  He faced him down.  "It doesn't make me weaker, Dean, and it only matters when I'm tired or trying to pour something."

"This time it did, Xander."

"You know what?  I think I can handle this, even with that problem.  I have been for a few years.  It's not my fault that our slayer in St. Louis has a sister that keeps breaking her cage."  Dean gaped.  "Yeah, her.  She keeps breaking her cage.  Someone was messing with it.  I had to help her put up a new one on the second day of the full moon to hold her last night and tonight."  Dean shuddered.  He stepped closer.  "I'm fine.  I got up.  You handled that side.  I'm sorry if you're pissed because no one told you Caleb took a dirty fingernail to it, but yay."  He walked past him, not touching him.  "I'll see you guys in DC."

"Where are you going?" Dean demanded.  "We don't have time for fits, Xander."

"I'm going to LA to check on the remaining members of Angel's crew.  They're about to have another problem and unfortunately they need me too, Dean.  I'll make it to DC in time."  He waved over his shoulder.  "Laters."

Dean glared at him.  Then he stomped back to his car.  He had to come back to get the stupid coin but he was still pissed.  He walked into the room Xander and Sam had been sharing, slamming the door shut.  "He walked off in a snit."

"Why?" Sam asked, taking the coin to put on his necklace.

"It wasn't an injured eye, it's a removed eye."

"Oh."  Sam nodded.  "He compensates pretty well for that."

"He didn't today!"

"He will when it's more important, Dean.  This was a minor demon."  He stood up, looking at his brother.  "He was tired, that's probably what happened.  He told you before that it only mattered when he was tired or trying to pour things."

"He let me think it was something like it was a cataract."

"He never said that.  You assumed.  I assumed it was some muscle damage around it since he said he had problems producing tears."  He stared at Dean.  "He'll be fine, Dean."

"How can I trust him to guard that side?"

"How did you before?" he asked.

Dean huffed, sitting down and frowning at him.  "I'm not sure I was."

"I'm sure you were," Sam told him.  "Now you've got to trust him to know what he's doing.  Remember, he's had a few years since it happened, Dean."

"Yeah, well, he shouldn't be fighting.  Deborah was right, plenty of us would've given up."

"More of us haven't when we've been that injured," Sam said bluntly.  "I don't take Xander as the sort to curl up and die in a corner because he got hurt."  Dean slumped.  "Now, do you think maybe you should call so he doesn't think you don't trust him?"

Dean looked at him.  "How is he compensating?"

"How do blind martial arts masters do it?"

"He's not."

"No, but that's probably what he taught himself to do.  Air currents, sensing power, that stuff."  He looked outside.  "Where did he stomp off to?"

"LA.  He needed to check on Angel's former crew and help with an invasion."

"He doesn't have time for that."

"Neither do we," Dean sighed.  "Fine.  You know what, I'll call tomorrow.  When we're both calm."  Fred appeared, giving him a look like he was an errant child.  "What?"

"Xander can't be in LA, guys.  He'll never make it to DC.  That's one of the reasons we didn't want him in contact with the Cleveland group, so he couldn't get sucked in."

Sam pulled out his phone to call him.  "Xander, it's us.  Fred said you're not supposed to go to LA.  That's part of the not talking to Cleveland stuff."  He got hung up on.  He tried it again.  "She said so, Xander.  She just appeared and said so.  Besides, Dean's sorry he's an asshole," he said into the voicemail.  "He overreacted from the battle stress.  That's all that was.  Call, please?"   He hung up.  "I tried, Fred."

"I know," she said, looking at Dean.  "You really should've thought first."

He stood up.  "How in the hell is he managing to fight like that?"

"The same way Wes did after his throat was nearly slashed all the way through.  We've all fought with injuries.  If they're too bad, you learn how to fight in spite of them or how to use it to your advantage.  There's even deaf hunters, Dean.  You're being a bonehead."  She patted him on the cheek.  "Stop it and make your own apology."  She disappeared.

Dean pulled out his phone to call.  "Xander, me.  Get your ass back here.  I didn't mean it like that."  He hung up so he could look at his brother.  "Want to head?"

"Yeah, let's head.  We've only got a week to make it to DC."  They got to work packing, watching for Xander to return.  Nothing.  Not even a cadillac on the streets. They'd have to talk to him once he got back with them in DC.


Xander looked up from his eating and typing one handed into his laptop for his journal entries as Fred appeared in the back seat.  "Morning.  Want one?  I got two."

"No.  Thanks anyway."  She leaned forward.  "You can't go to LA, Xander."

He stared at her.  "I have to.  They don't know that they've got the demonic moles coming.  Plus, no one's checked on Gunn recently or heard from him.  Someone should find him and see how he's doing.  And hey, I need to warn Connor since he's the only fighter LA has left."

"I can send the boys' father out there," she offered.

He gave her a look then burst out laughing.  "Connor having to deal with him?  He'd kill you."

"Well, probably."  She sighed then nodded.  "Okay, you still can't get sucked into the fight."

"Yes I can.  As long as I make it to DC on the appointed day."

"There's no way you can drive that far.  The invasion's in five days, Xander."

"I can fly," Xander pointed out dryly.  He grinned at her.  "Then fly to Cleveland for the wedding, and then fly back here to get my damn car."  She slumped.  "I know the Powers see Connor as about as annoying as I am.  I'm still not letting one of us die from it."

"You could call."

"No I can't.  Connor doesn't have a phone."  She slumped further.  "Have *you* checked on them?"

She looked at him.  "I'm not allowed."

"There ya go, the root cause of the problems, Fred."  He ate another bite of his breakfast sandwich.  "I have a plan.  It'll be fine.  If you want to get John out here, do it.  I'll introduce him to Connor if he's here fast enough."  He grinned sweetly.  "Besides, not like you have anyone else to do this."

"They think you won't make it out of LA in time."

"Who said I'm going into LA proper?"  She groaned.  He snickered.  "You should know me better by now, Fred.  Now, go make Sam quit worrying that I'm going to slay Dean.  It comes as a shock to many people that I can still do things instead of sitting around and whining about how injured I am."  He finished his sandwich and his journal entry, pulling back onto the road.  She disappeared.  He was about a day and a half from his target.  He really had to warn Connor about the battle they'd be fighting out here too.  He hoped both cars made it that long.  If not, they were screwed.  There was no way they could stand to all be in the same car together for two more years.


Xander looked at the man who was drug over by the demon, reaching over to tip the demon, getting a grunt and a nod before it disappeared.  "By order the Powers I'm not to get sucked into any of LA's current problems because I'm needed in DC in about a day," he said dryly.  Charles Gunn, former helper to Angel, glared at him.  "No one's heard from you recently, Gunn.  Not even about your cousin marrying," he said more gently.  He slid off his hood, walking closer.  "You good?"

"No," he said, frowning but relaxing.  "Are you?"

"No," he said, shaking his head.  "I got summoned by the Powers to do shit."

"What do you have to atone for?"

"Not a fucking clue," Xander said.  He nodded.  "Air conditioning in the car."

"I'm good."  He looked him over then at the guy walking up the street.  "You called Connor too?"

"Yeah, he's got an invasion of demonic moles coming up.  Plus we've got a battle out here in about nine months."  He looked over.  "Hey."

"Xander."  He smiled at Gunn.  "Gunn.  Long time no see."

"I had to heal."  He gave him a hug then looked at Xander.  "Demonic moles?"

"That're going to attack UCLA."

"Charming," Connor said.  "Don't you have good news?"

"Gunn's cousin is getting married in about two weekends.  In nine months the Powers have called me and two other warriors back here for another battle that could end your city.  And you can't help."

"Now, *that's* good news," Gunn said grimly.  "We can't help?"

"Not with the main demon.  We've even got the mystical weapon BS going on."  He handed Gunn something.  "I'm sure you've got an ID somewhere."

"Yeah."  He looked at the ticket then at him.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  He looked at Connor.  "Fred is the newest messenger.  She was told she couldn't come see you guys.  She did offer to send my fellow hunter's father, who is a hunter and a grumpy bastard, out here if you wanted."

"I could use it," Connor admitted.  "Even Sunnydale's drawn something."

"I have the feeling I'll be there in a while."  He texted someone, getting an answer back.  "Give it ten."  He sat on the hood of his car again.  "I'm not allowed to get sucked into the demonic moles but Dawn's on for our research support.  You might call her to see if there's an easy way to banish them when they show up in three days."

"Three whole days.  That's a warning," Gunn said.

"I only found out before I got to Utah, guys.  Sorry."  He shrugged.  A black pickup truck pulled in beside them and an older guy got out.  "John, this is Connor Angel, the vampire Angel's human son, chosen warrior for the Powers That Be Morons locally.  The other is Charles Gunn."  He pointed at them as he introduced them.  "Guys, this is John Winchester.  I'm presently tied up by the Powers with his sons."

John nodded.  "Pleasure, boys."

Xander looked at him.  "Thanks to the invasion and other issues, LA is down to them and Gunn's been on healing time."

John moaned.  "I can stay for a bit.  Not forever but for a bit."  LA had too many demons for only one hunter!  It was also an starting point for many invasions and the trafficking and travel lines.  "Hopefully I can help weed it down a bit."

Xander got something out of his car, handing it to him.  "Dawn found it.  It's the demon that attacked your family, John.  She's not sure how you'd summon it but that's what it is, where it came from, and all that."  That got a small smile and a nod.  "Not a payment or a bribe, but Connor's got demonic moles attacking UCLA in three days.  We've got one of *our* battles here in just about nine months."

"I can probably take that long.  What about the surrounding areas?"

"FUBAR as that Riley guy I kicked the ass of put it," Connor told him.  John shuddered.  "The Sunnydale hellmouth is still active and it radiates into LA."

"It's not fully active," Xander corrected.  "Or else we'd have begging demons near me already.  It's that all the irradiated dirt and things are still up there.  The hellmouth was leaking for over three hundred years, and the implosion let out even more."

"So it spiked and now it's slowly lowering the levels of radiation," Gunn finished.  "So in a few generations it'll be nothing?"

"If it doesn't reopen," Xander agreed.  "If it does?  Well, there's been that prophecy that the West Coast would fall off the US."  All three men groaned so he grinned.  "Fred came to me last night about that problem.  She knew you were going to have problems, Connor, and she knows a math and science geek set at a local school who can figure this out, even if you do have to convince them that evil, magic, and all that stuff is real.  Though you probably won't have to convince the physics guy that much."  He grinned, handing over an address.  "From the Messenger who's not allowed to come see her former friend and snuggly one."

He looked at it then smirked.  "That could help?"

"That could help and he could also help the group in Cleveland figure out if we're going to have spikes from either one of them, or all of them, anytime soon."

"I'll go scout the guy out," John offered.  "How geek?  Worse than Sam?"

Xander snickered.  "Like hit college at fourteen.  Nobel bound and works with someone in the FBI."

"Oh, massive brains.  Okay."  Connor smirked at him.  "What?  My son wanted to go to law school before the family curse hit him."

"Sorry about that," Connor said.

John shrugged.  "It gives us a reason to hunt."

"I was born," Connor said simply.  He looked at Xander.  "They're so pissed at you."

"Yay me.  I can fly to DC.  The Powers can fuck themselves for a change.  My ass is sore and I'm tired of them coming to this well for their needs."

"I'd hate it too," Gunn said, giving him a pat on the arm.  "Anything else going on?"

"I get to do magic during this thing," Xander said with a bright, happy grin.

"Shit, we're all going to die," Connor muttered, shaking his head.

"It'll be fine.  I'm sure he has Willow looking over his shoulder," Gunn said, giving Xander a look.  "Right?"


"Nearly as good.  She was trained by Tara and kept her ways," he decided.

Xander beamed at him.  "The first time she met Dean she called him uptight and told him to go suck cock at a gay bar to fix it."  Gunn and Connor both burst out in giggles, Gunn having to lean on the car so he wouldn't fall down.

"I love Dawn," Connor said, shaking his head. "There's a woman I could marry someday if I ever got around to figuring out girls."

"Don't count on that ever happening," John told him.  "I never did.  No man I know has."

"Actually, they're not a bad match," Xander told him with a fond grin.  "They're a lot alike underneath and it'd give her someone to fuss over.  Then again she'd probably never stay with someone hunting full time.  She's seen the soul sucking it can cause in her sister and all of us."  He looked at Connor.  "Just don't ask Buffy's permission, okay?  Dawn had to do the rite and Buffy is not pleased, still.  It's been a few months and Buffy's not pleased, still."

Connor nodded.  "I'll see if she wants to chat later.  Thanks, man.  Head."

Xander looked at his watch.  "I only have four days to make it to DC.  I can fly, Connor."

"If you do you'll have problems getting out of DC," Gunn pointed out.

"That's what rental cars are for," Xander said dryly.  "Then I'm going to hit Cleveland, then head back here.  We get two months off after the DC battle for the new guy to train.  Dean's decided I'm stupid and helpless so I'm going to finish wallowing in my memories for a few days."  He looked at Connor.  "I'll warn you if I get local again."  That got a nod.  "Thanks."  He looked at John.  "It's a lot of vamps, a former law firm that worked for all demons and used to manipulate the world, and this is still an immigration point.  Oh, Lorne is *nice* even if he does make you sing for him.  Don't smite him."  He looked at them.  "Heading now. Call me if you need help, guys.  I'll have downtime."  He got into his car and drove off, leaving them together.

John looked at them.  "You guys are about the same age my sons are,"

Connor shrugged. "My parents were both vampires, dude.  I'm not your kid.  I'll respect you as a fellow hunter if you want, as long as you don't do the touchy-feely crap."

"Forgive him, he was stolen and raised on a hell dimension," Gunn told him.  He grinned.  "Need me?"

"Yeah, probably could.  If you're better?"

"Getting there," he admitted, smiling a bit.  "Catch a ride with someone?"

"I walked," Connor said.  "It did me good."  They piled into the truck and took John back to where Connor was lairing now.  It was a good thing Xander had done, even if it was against orders.


Xander got off the plane and looked up at the nearest window, smiling.  "Pretty night," he told the person staring at him.  He looked at the guard.  "Problems?"

"No, sir.  Wondering why you stopped."

"I don't often get to appreciate things these days.  At least not the simple ones."  He walked off, going to get his bag.  Then the rental car desk.  It wasn't that hard to get a car for the week.  He drove out of the airport an hour later, finding his cellphone in his bag.  "Hey, it's me.  Where am I hitting to stay?"  He listened to Sam rant.  "Sam, was it active?  Then there's not a problem.  No, I had to introduce your dad to Connor out in LA so he'd have some help," he said.  It got very quiet on that end.  "Okay?"  He hung up and decided to find his own rathole motel.  He knew where they'd need to be - the Washington monument.  He found a cheap place after pulling next to a cabbie to ask.  Checking in was easily done with the excuse he was a tourist.  Then he sat down to check his gun and sword over while he watched tv.  It was still a pretty night.  Calm.  Quiet.  The demon was just now raising.  He went to get a map from the desk, though he ended up at a convenience store for it, dinner, and sodas.  They had no idea where the demon was coming up, just that it was going to be up now that both of them were in the city.  Looked like he'd be scouting tomorrow and hunting the next night.


Sam hung up.  "Xander's in."


"He hung up after saying he introduced Dad to someone named Connor out in LA because they're down on hunters at the moment."  Dean gave him an odd look.  "He did."

"Is he coming here?"

"No, I froze when he said that.  My brain locked up."  He shrugged.  "I'm sure we'll be able to find him.  He's got to be nearby."

"Probably," Dean agreed.  "Or we'll meet him when we start scouting the monument tomorrow."

Sam nodded.  "That too probably."  He shifted on his bed.  "Are you all right?"

"Why is Dad in LA?"  He called him.  "What are you doing?"  He listened to him complain about Connor's training on a demon dimension.  "So teach him hand-to-hand, Dad."  He shook his head.  "Whatever.  Demonic moles?"  He snickered.  "Well, better than us."  He listened.  "Want Sam to come talk to the eggheads?  He can probably babble in their language."  He looked at Sam.  "Fred told Connor to talk to a set of eggheads out there about the hellmouth energy issue."

"It might help."

Dean listened.  "Yeah, we're here.  Xander called to say he's in too."  He listened.  "So his car's with you guys out there.  That means he's in a rental.  Okay.  Any idea where he was for the other two days?"  He shook his head.  "Charming.  Okay.  We'll find him tomorrow.  No, he called to say he was in.  Be safe, Dad.  LA is dangerous for more reasons than the demons."  He hung up.  "Dad's not amused.  Connor's a good hunter.  Just not fully trained."

"Dad can fix that.  It'll make him not nag about heirs in a few years," Sam said grimly.

Dean looked at him.  "Nanny Grimsley wanted to know if Jess had been pregnant."

"No," he said, shaking his head.  "There's no way."  He laid down.  "Any good news from out there?"

"They stopped the moles.  Connor's a chosen warrior as well, and the son of two vampires."  Sam sat up, staring at him for that one.  "He's got a vamp's skills but he's still living.  Dad said it's strange and he's having to adapt some thinking but he'll deal with it.  Oh, and their friend Lorne showed up.  He's a demon who runs a karaoke bar.  Tried to make Dad sing so he could see his future."

"Dad would hate that."

"Dad did, and said he nearly punched him but Dawn showed up and nagged him into humming.  It was enough and Lorne said he wasn't going to die this year."

"Good to know," Sam said.  He laid back down, smiling a bit.  The other circle's insanity was spreading to them.  That was the only answer he had for his father dealing with a karaoke singing demon.  "Want to go to the monument first thing?"

"Yeah, we should," he agreed.  He laid down too.  He didn't want to think about his dad singing karaoke.  It was too strange for his brain to handle without cracking.  "Think we should try to call Xander back?"

"We'll talk in person.  That way he can't hang up on us.  You can apologize and everything."

"I'm sure he got the voicemail."

"Fine."  He flipped onto his side and turned out the lights so they could sleep.

Dean stared at the ceiling for a bit.  This was still too strange for him.  He'd have to beat up on Xander for a bit tomorrow to make sure they were okay again.


Xander smiled as he passed some tourists at the monument, taking pictures of the surrounding areas first.  He knew, about, where the sword should be.  He looked up at the giant obelisk and sighed.  "You know they had to know about the occult to put that up," he muttered.

"There are rumors that state the Founding Fathers were in the Masons, who are founded on such principals," an older male voice said from behind him.

Xander turned to look at him.  "I heard that.  Saw the movie last year too."  The older man laughed.  "Xander."

"Donald."  He shook his hand.  "Your first trip?"

"Yup.  I'm a West Coast boy."  He grinned, taking a picture of him.  "There, now I've seen scenic and important things."  Donald laughed.  "Historian?  I work with a few."

"No, lad.  An ME actually.  We're going to be clearing the area here in a moment and for some reason I thought you might need a better incentive than someone barking at you."

"Well, it's always nice, but I don't usually ignore every order I'm given."  The older man laughed at that, walking him off.  He saw the scene tape and sighed.  "Poor guy."

"In this case it's poor lady and yes," he sighed.  "A tragic waste of life."  He smiled.  "Now shoo and come back in a few hours."

"Can we look at the other side and the other monuments?"

"Do go ahead, just stay out of this area, lad."

"Thanks, Donald.  I wish you had a better job to do."  He walked off, going to look at the other nearby monuments.  Something on that scene was making his skin crawl.  Definitely demonic.  He was  pounced and instinctively threw the person on the ground, getting ready to stomp on them.  "Sam!"

"Sorry," he laughed.

Dean hauled him up.  "Morning, dumbass."

"Gee, you say the sweetest things.  I can't think *why* I'm not going with Dawn's plan."

Dean smirked.  "It's hard to resist, I know."  He nodded.  "What's going on?"

"Dead lady in Navy whites," Xander said, looking at him.  "Right where the sword should be."  Dean moaned.  Sam too.  "But I did meet a very nice ME who said that the Founding Fathers might've been into the occult."

"Interesting, and many rumors of that," Sam agreed.  "How long?"

"Few hours probably.  We can go anywhere but there."  They nodded, going that way.  "Dean, is your hand cramping?"

"Yeah," he said, flexing his sword hand.  "It's close, isn't it?"

"I think so."  They both looked up at the monument, then sighed when they saw someone coming their way.  "Do we need to move farther away?"

"No," the older man said.  "You two were staring in our direction?"

"They asked what was going on," Xander said honestly.  The other man stared at him.  He grinned.  "I'm here researching stuff, Officer."


"Oh, sorry."  Xander grinned again.  "We won't get in the way.  We're here doing some research shots for some people we work with now and then."


"The Watcher's Council," Sam said.  The man went pale.  "He's actually a Watcher."

"Xander Harris," he said, shaking his hand.

"Is that your thing?" he demanded calmly.

Xander shrugged.  "Not like I have a clue.  I got in last night, Agent..."

"Gibbs.  Why are you *here* *today*, Mr. Harris."

Xander sighed, looking at Dean, who shrugged.  The guy obviously had a clue.  He looked at him again.  "Mystical weapon retrieval and if that isn't our sort of thing, then there's going to be others that are.  We're here to stop it," he said.  "It's supposedly going to take about a week."

"How many bodies?"

"One," Xander said.  "And I have no idea how I know that before you ask."  He looked over then at him again.  "Is it our sort of thing?"

"Slit repeatedly."

"Parallel marks, like claws?"


"Want us to look?" Sam offered.  "Technically we need to find something over there anyway."  Dean gave him a look.  "Or we can sneak back later."

"Who're you two again?"

"They're the usual sort of hunters.  We're working together on this matter and a few others," Xander said calmly, stepping closer.  "I can look at it and see if it was claws and any sort of slime that can be sent to Cleveland to be run for you," he offered quietly.


"The London branch got blown up.  You didn't hear about that?  Happened a few years ago.  We had to reform."

"Shame all the assholes died," he said bluntly.

Xander grinned.  "They hated me anyway, Agent Gibbs.  Most of the new Council isn't like the old one."

"Fine.  One look.  You two stay out of my crime scene."  He walked them over.  "Stop here."  They paused and Xander handed Dean his camera, heading under the tape to get a look.  "What are those?"

Xander frowned, looking at it.  "That's something of ours all right, but not what I was expecting.  Hey, Dean, get my blue vial ... never mind, car's in LA.  Holy water?"  It was tossed over by Sam.  "Thanks."  He picked up a bit of hair from nearby and used it to scoop up something, pouring the water over it.  It fizzled.  He looked at him.  "You have a werewolf," he said quietly.  "One who's learned enough control to not turn on the full moon.  It's not that rare, there's a temple in Tibet that teaches it.  I've got a friend over there now."  He looked at the body.  "She put up a hell of a fight.  The thing's injured."  He looked around, blinking at something.  "Come on."  He pulled him with him, Sam and Dean following.  The two other guys working the scene did too.  Around some bushes and off to the side Xander slowed, pointing at the tracks.  "Injured," he said quietly.  He snuck closer, looking inside the branches.  The body was laying in there.  Xander felt for a pulse then nodded.  "Broken neck but still living.  She tried damn hard, Agent Gibbs."  The body moaned.  "Don't move, kid.  You've got a vertebrae fracture."  The boy blinked at him.  "Watcher's Council.  Wanna tell me why you attacked her?"

"She cheated on me," he whispered.  "She took our cub and she cheated on me."

Gibbs looked at him.  "Okay, we'll get to the bottom of this.  Thank you for your help, Mr. Harris."

Xander stood up.  "He can control it except under extreme stress, Agent Gibbs," he said firmly.

"I got that point, kid."  He stared at him.  "I'm not going to have him shot with silver."  The werewolf moaned.  "I am going to get him to a hospital and take his statement then treat him like I would anyone else who killed someone, even if he couldn't help it.  That's not for me to decide."

"The system's yanked, we all know that."

"I know."  He stared at him.  "Do I know you?"

"Did you have to help clean up the Initiative crap?"  He nodded.  "I helped bring them down."

"Good.  Thank you.  Can we work?"

"As long as he's not going to be executed out of hand."

"Your kind are more like that than we are," Gibbs told him.

Xander gave him a look.  "Not anymore we're not."  He looked at the other two, confused looking, men.  "Hi.  Watcher's Council."

"Fuck," one muttered, walking off.  "I'll get the paramedics, boss."

"Thanks, McGee."  He looked at the other guy then at Harris again.  "Now, why are you really here?"

Sam coughed.  "Huge demon rising starting last night.  The weapon to fight him is somewhere in or around the monument."

Gibbs moaned.  "Why me?" he muttered.

Xander grinned.  "Its on the spot where the sun hits at tea time according to the prophecy."

"Has it been right so far?" the other guy demanded.

"Yeah, right on.  We've fought a few other things in it already.  The spot glows silver when the tea time bell dings and then the third warrior will be called and summoned."

"Four over here or over there?" Sam asked.  "I wasn't sure, Xander."

Xander shrugged.  "He didn't say.  We can sit here during both times."  He looked at Gibbs.  "We don't want to get in your way."

"Thank you.  I'll make sure you're guarded quietly."

"Thanks.  Though if the demon comes up, I want whoever to run like hell."  That got a nod.  "Thank you."  He walked off, letting Sam do the math about when it would hit.  Dean could reach in and get the weapon at that time.

"The east coast is minus five hours from Greenwich Mean Time," Sam said.  "So four there is ... eleven here."  They all checked their watches.  An hour and a few minutes. "There wasn't a specific date, right?"

"No, just when the demon was risen.  As long as it's risen it's good," Xander told him.  "Dean, you get the weapon and anything else."  That got a nod.  "Good."  He clapped his hands.  "Which side is the sun on?" he asked, looking up.  Right in the crime scene.  "Joy."

Dean watched where the sun was.  "We'll need a ladder."

Xander nodded.  "Good point."   Gibbs muttered something but got them one.  When eleven came around it wasn't perfectly placed but it was able to be moved quickly enough when the silver glow started.  Dean climbed up while Xander steadied it.  Dean reached in and yelped, bringing out a weapon and a book, plus a wrapped bundle.  He reached in again and had to pull his hand back out after a second before the hole closed on him.  "We good?"

"We're good," Dean said, coming down with it.  "This is my baby," he said, holding it up.

"As proven, it bit you," Xander said dryly.  He looked at the book, handing it to Sam.  Then the bundle.  "Talisman?"  He looked at Sam, holding it up.  It got snatched too.  "Okay."   They folded up the ladder with a smile and handed it back.  "Thanks, Agent Gibbs.  Ignore us if you see us running for something."

Dean paused by him.  "Xander, it's one of them."

"I know.  I don't know which."  He looked at Gibbs.  "One of your people is about to get a yank of the destiny cord, Gibbs."


"Prophecy said a third to back us up."

He shuddered.  "Not me?"

Dean pulled out the gun and let it change, handing it to him.  Gibbs grimaced and handed it back.  "No, not you."

"Did that gun...." one of the guys said.  He stomped over there.  "What is going on?"

"Strange crap," Xander said.  "A perfect summary."  Dean handed him the sword when he scowled.

"It's not that bad of a sword."  McGee came over to look at it, taking it to look at closer.  "So, strange crap?"

"Great, we have a choice," Xander said, looking at Dean.  Who nodded.  He looked at them then at Gibbs.  "Tonight?"

"We can talk tonight.  Give them back the sword, McGee."  It was handed back and changed back into a gun.  He looked at Xander.  "Don't have one?"  He pulled out his pocket knife and let it expand.  Gibbs groaned.  "More practical than a gun."

"I had to fly, they drove."  The agents walked off.  "Pick a spot."

"I'll meet you at six at the Mall, in front of the aerospace museum," Gibbs ordered.

"Yes, sir," Xander said, walking off with the other two.  "Okay, Sam, what's with the book?"

"It's on the demon."

"Good!  A big help," Dean said.  "The doohickey?"

"Lights up when it's nearby."  They all looked at it, non lit up.  "Are you sure, Xander?"

Xander looked at him and nodded.  "Half the agents in the world knew the old Council, Sam.  It got a lot less questions asked now and then.  Though some of them do hate us.  A lot."  He grinned.  "Fortunately we're the *new* council and not the old one."  He headed to his rental car.  "I'm heading for lunch.  Dean, need to practice?"

"I should."  He looked at the thing in his hand.  He had shrunk it down to a pocket knife too.  "Xander, camera," he said, tossing it to him.  He barely caught it.  "Sorry."

"Not an issue.  It's Willow's."  He grinned as he slid into his car, heading off to get something to eat.

"That's not a bad idea," Dean said.

"We'll get something so you can practice in the room," Sam agreed.  They headed off so Sam could read the new book and Dean could practice with his weapon.


Xander looked at the guy with Agent Gibbs.  "Boyfriend?" he asked.

"FBI, Mr. Harris."

Xander grinned.  "I've seen a few of your people over the years."

"The old Council blew up."

"And was reformed under Rupert in Cleveland."

"Crap," he muttered, typing that into his phone.

"Some of your guys and Homeland's guys have already come up to bother us."  He sat down, handing over the few pages from his copy of the prophecy.  "This is the current problem for here.  We're on a two-to-three year problem binge at the moment."

"I looked up the other two by license plate," Gibbs said.  "You know one's...."

"Identity was stolen and used?  Yeah.  He warned me when we heard the third warrior was a cop of some sort."

"Oh."  He read it over then looked at him.  "Why come so early?"

"Had to get the weapon to Dean, Gibbs.  It's his.  He's been carrying the third guy's weapon so he didn't have to hike to Texas to get it suddenly."  He leaned his elbows on the table.  "Who else freaked out?"

"Our director had a screaming fit.  She's put both my agents into protective custody."

Xander snickered.  "Well, it does say a maiden faire and a Maid of Darkness."

"His director's a redhead," Fornell told him.  "She's probably the Maid of Darkness."  He took them to look over.  "We found that body earlier."

"Figured you would," Xander agreed.  "Any idea where it headed to?"  They both shook their heads.  "If so then we might be able to jump it sooner, before that fateful battle at a very public monument with cameras."

Gibbs shook his head.  "We'd like that too."

"If we don't, the demon can join with others to end the city, and then start on other cities."

"I understand the risks, Mr. Harris," Gibbs assured him.  "We'd like it ended too."  He took the forms back.  "Which one do you think it is?"

"I don't know," Xander admitted.  "It's one of them.  Dean and I are both experienced hunters so we'll be able to train whichever one it is.  We'll protect your guy like he's family.  That's not an issue with us."

"Good to know," Fornell said.  "He's supposed to take the time off?"

"We've got breaks built in for healing time and things," Xander offered.  "After this, there's a few things I personally have to do and then I've got about two months off.  Dean's taking Sam back to their usual area and then we'll meet up for the next one."

"More battles?" Gibbs asked.

"A slayer's wedding next weekend.  Then some healing time for myself."

"Injured?" Gibbs demanded.

"Tired," Xander said bluntly.  "I've been doing this straight since tenth grade, Gibbs."

"Then you need some R&R," he agreed.  He looked at him then slumped.  "Speaking of injured."

"I know, I've got to clean it.  I didn't when I got up."  He rubbed at the fake eye.  "I teach self-defense, Gibbs.  I'm a bit bitter that the higher powers didn't want me to retire."  He stood up.  "It looks like we'll have to have it there if you can't find him for us.  Or if you're willing to let us there so we can track it?"

"You can try," Fornell offered.  "Want your cohorts to do it?"

"They've got the techie gear.  They can if you want.  Know where they are?"  Fornell nodded. "Then you're one up on me."  He shrugged, looking at Gibbs.  "Anything else you need?  Need to photocopy those to brief your people?  Go ahead."  He nodded, taking them off to copy them in the museum.  He looked at Fornell.  "Not like we asked for it.  I got stabbed with the pointy stick of destiny."

"Not bitter at all, are you?" he asked dryly.

"Nah," Xander said, shaking his head.  "Not at all.  This isn't my first call-out."  He took the papers back when Gibbs came back.  "Okay, I'm sure you can find me by now too."  He wrote down a phone number.  "That's my present one if you need me for some reason, or if they're with us and you need them."

"We can handle that," Gibbs said.  "How long?"

"It's been six months.  One of the later ones has a screwy time code.  It could be six days after the previous battle or it could be six months.  We're not sure.  Up to three years total."  That got a nod.  "I have no idea how they'd pick.  I do know they've got to be in good shape to work with you.  They'll need it for ours."

"Agreed.  Sword work is hard," Gibbs said patiently.

Xander grinned.  "It is, but it can change into other weapons."  He beamed.  "I love me some artillery."  He walked off smirking because both agents were groaning.  They were even in harmony.

Gibbs looked at Fornell.  "Briefing your boss?"  He held up his wire.  "Should've done that.  I'm off to be screamed at."  He walked to his car, heading back to the office.  He hauled Abby up with him.  "Okay, we know why the Watchers are here."  He put down the papers.  Abby took them to look over.  "It looks like there's one battle in town and then they're gone.  Probably with someone."

Abby looked at him.  "I'm not the Maid of Darkness this time."

"I noticed."  He looked at the director again.  "Our choices this time are to support them and let them do it or face something worse than terrorists.  Your choice," he finished bluntly.

"One's a wanted felon."

"No, one had his identity stolen by something and used," he said.  "I asked."  He looked at Abby.  "It's coming down to DiNozzo or McGee."

"McGee might know more," she admitted.  "Then again, Tony might've run into the council before now."  She considered it.  "You've got to be in fantastic shape for this, Gibbs.  Running, fighting battles with weapons.  Can Tony do that?"

He shrugged.  "I don't know.  I've got to tell them soon."

"They can't go," the director said.  "If they do I will fire them."

Gibbs looked at her.  "No you won't.  If you do then they can't work at peak efficiency to stop this so the world doesn't end.  Which would you rather have?"

"The world to end," she said bluntly.  "The US government does not support this action.  The president said so, Jethro."

"Yay him."  He looked at Abby.  "Go explain it to them."

"If you do so, you will be fired as well," the director promised.

Abby looked at her.  "I can probably go work for the Council at a higher rate of pay without all the little rule changes that make us hate you," she said bluntly, giving her a look.  "And still be doing good work.  Or hey, the FBI is always recruiting.  I'd have less work, a whole lab full of gremlins to help me, and be considered a Goddess over there."  She walked off, going to where Tony and McGee were being held hostage by the director.  She walked in and looked at the agents, who both glared at her.  "Don't make me set off sleeping gas."  She walked them outside to talk to them.  They were in the middle of nowhere, it was safe.  She handed them the forms.  "The problem is that one of you is going to be called," she said when they both read them.  "And the director's a bitch."

"Knew that," McGee muttered.  "I don't believe in this stuff."

"Me either," Tony said.  "Now and then I have to because it happens in front of me.  Like the werewolf this morning."  Abby gave him a look.  "He tore her up because she cheated and took their kid."

"I'm not sure which one I feel sorry for in that situation," she admitted.  She looked at Tony.  "It means you'd be on the road.  You'd be fighting with them, training with them, and using a sword, Tony."

"I can," he assured her.

"Your lungs?" she asked more gently.

He grimaced.  "Not as bad as they could be.  What about McGee?  He's not exactly the warrior stereotype."

"I can kind of use a sword," McGee admitted.  "I picked one up to play around with now and then when I was trying to write fantasy novels."  He leaned on the railing.  "How will we know?"

"The battle's in a week," Sam said as he joined them.  Tony gaped.  He smirked back.  "We're hunters, Agent DiNozzo.  Of course we can track and follow you around."  He walked up onto the porch, smiling at Abby.  "Morning."

"Morning."  She smiled and gave him a hug.  "Whichever one you get I *will* be getting constant phone calls to make sure they're all right and addresses so I can send cookies and stuff to them.  Am I clear?"

"Yes, ma'am," he said with a smile.  "It's good when you have someone to fuss over you."  He looked at them, handing over the extra sword.   "Go ahead, see if it likes you more."

Tony took it, holding it in his hand.  It felt...okay.  Not perfect.  Not great.  But it felt good enough.  He handed it over.  McGee didn't look radiant but for some reason he looked... right with it.  He looked at Sam.  "He'll be trained?"

"Whichever it is will be trained by my brother and Xander.  Dean and I were trained military style.  Xander was trained hunting with the Council's slayer."

McGee handed it back.  "How will we know?"

Sam grimaced.  "That battle should call you, Agent McGee."

"Did a background?"

"Looked you up.  Nothing further."  He looked at Abby.  "Xander said if you had to retire due to your director being half succubus and a failed one at that, to call Willow Rosenburg in Cleveland and talk to her.  She'll be up there in a few weekends for a wedding."  She nodded at that.  He looked at them again.  He knew which was his choice but it wasn't really his choice.  "Whoever it is, we'll be leaving the next day.  Xander's got to go to that same wedding.  Meet up with him or with us.  Ignore Dean's method of income generation, please."

"Theft?" Tony asked dryly.

"Pool games, the occasional credit card scam."

"Eeh.  We've seen worse," Tony admitted.  He looked at Abby, kissing her on the head.  "You should go be safe."   She nodded, heading off.  He looked at him.  "How long?"

"Another two years or so."

"Two years?" McGee demanded.

"One of the time codes is a bit strange.  It's a total of two-to-three years, McGee.  We're six months in as of tomorrow."

Tony looked at him.  "Go," he said quietly.  "This is your chance to do something great for humanity beyond amusing them.  You're probably going to be in better shape than I am for this.  Plus it likes you more."

"But... work?" he suggested.  "Computer, writing?"

"We drive," Sam said.  "I have a laptop."

"He types," Tony said, leaning against the railing.  "McGee, there's no way the boss is going to put up with you doing my job for two years.  Or someone doing  your job for two years," he admitted.  "But it's easier to send you to do it than it is me.  Remember, I still have doctor's appointments for things like my lungs."  The other agent nodded at that.  "You know I'll watch Abby and everyone for you.  We'd rather have you go than me go.   It's easier for you to travel that way.  It'd do good for your writing.  You'll get to meet all sorts of people you won't get locally.  The Council itself is ancient and has a great research library.  The training can only help you when you come back to us.  Plus it'll even help your online gaming stuff," he finished with a grin.  "You're going to be safe and write all the time of course."  He clapped him on the arm, then stared at Sam for a moment.  "Keep him safe or else, Winchester.  I can find you and we will hunt you down.  Gibbs is worse than *every* demon.  Am I clear?"  Sam nodded.  "Good.  Then give him a while to finish things at work."  He walked back inside.

Sam looked at him.  "Meet us at the battle," he said quietly.  "Xander outfits the slayers and we can help with that too."  That got a nod.  "Come see us if you have problems."  He handed over a card with a wink.  "The FBI are really nosy."  He walked off into the woods again.

McGee put the card into his pants pocket then looked at the sword.  "How do I hide you?"  It shrank down to a letter opener, earning a smile.  "That'll work."  He put it into his pocket too and went back inside.  He had plans to make.  He wasn't fully sure what to bring.  He'd never lived on the road before.  Tony slid over something and he smiled at the list of their traveling supplies.  He could build on that.  Plus take most of his money out of the bank.  He'd need funds for motel rooms when they were available.


Sam walked into the motel room they were sharing.  "McGee."

"He seemed a bit soft but he's got to be able to at least pass a physical endurance test," Dean said, going back to cleaning his gun.  "Xander?"

"No answer when I called.  Went right to voicemail.  It's probably turned off."  He sat down on the other bed, looking at his brother.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm worried that Xander's going to snap."

"He will."  Dean looked at him.  "It wasn't a vision, Dean.  Just a recurring dream now and then.  We'll be hunting him down in Sunnydale.  After that he'll trust us more and get more comfortable with us since we've seen him at his lowest point."

"Yay us," he muttered.  "Where is he now?"

"The same spot.  His voicemail message said that he's staying there so the feds don't get pissed when they try to look for him and can't find him."  He grinned.  "He's a nice guy."

"McGee?  He seemed like it."

"He writes." Dean gave him an odd look.  "He roleplays online."

"Geek," he muttered, but he was smiling.  "At least it's easier to yell Tim across a field than it is Xander."

"He's not replacing Xander."

"Now and then I have the feeling that I'm Xander's backup.  He's like this super warrior."

Sam leaned over to take the gun from him and put it down.  "You saved him."

"He was halfway to saving himself."

"And he was drugged, Dean.  We know we didn't get all of them.  They could've recaptured him if you and Dad hadn't shown up."

Dean nodded at that.  "Maybe."

"Later on, there's more battles for you than him. Including protecting him.  Maybe this is their way of letting you realize what a goofball he is so you're not surprised when he suddenly breaks out in issues and you have to guard him."

"He does jump in," Dean agreed thoughtfully.  "You think?"

"I know."  He grinned. "It said so."  He handed him back the gun.  "Where's the battle?"

"The monument."

"Can't be.  It said a statue."  He got into his laptop to look at it.  "Yeah, here, statue.  The demon's going to try to get something from the statue."

Dean gave him a horrified look.  "Why?"

"I don't know."

"You think it's the other one?"

"I don't remember any other statues being around there."

"Damn it," he muttered, calling Xander.  He actually got an answer.  "The battle here might not be at the same monument.  Sammy said there's a statue."  He listened to the calm voice.  "You sure?"  He nodded slowly.  "How do you know?  Oh, Dawn.  Why didn't she tell us?  I'll have him do that."  He hung up.  "She said it's in your email."

Sam groaned, nodding.  "I'll go to the library tomorrow to check it."

"Can we do the satellite uplink thingy he does?"

"It's expensive and I've got to fix some of the hardware, add on something."

"Define expensive?"

"We might be able to talk to Giles and his people, see if they can get me hooked up cheaper," he offered. "Otherwise, like my cellphone a month."

"Eeeeh," he said.  "Free wireless hotspot stuff?"

"That I can already do.  It's not available here."

"Can you find one tomorrow?"

"Sure.  Not an issue."  He smiled.  "Tim's a computer guy anyway.  He might be able to help me tinker it into working."

"Even better.  Tinkering is always cheaper."  He finished his gun and put it back together again, putting it in the holster.  "Now what?"

"Now we relax."

"It seems wrong."

"We have no idea where the demon is, Dean.  We don't know our way around the city.  We don't have any contacts nearby who can help us."

"We've made due with worse."  He called Xander again.  "What are you doing?"  He smirked.  "You couldn't suggest we could come along to the gear guy you know locally?"  He nodded.  "Sure.  We're here.  We can meet you there.  About thirty.  See you then."  He hung up.  "Xander's going to introduce us to someone locally."  They grabbed shoes and left, driving to where he was.  It wasn't a hard address to find.  The psychic advisor sign wasn't even that unusual.  Dean walked in first, smiling a bit.  "Hi, Xander told us to meet him here?"

"Xander ran after a huffy girl that didn't want to kill him."  She beamed at him.  "So you're Sam?"

"I'm Dean.  He's Sam."

Xander walked in and pointed.  "Not her.  Meredith?" he called plaintively.  A young girl came out of the back.  "Dean, Sam.  Meredith.  Play nicely.  Going to find what was wrong with that demon."  He went to deal with that.

"That's not the usual sort of introduction," Sam said dryly.

She giggled.  "I've known Xander for a little over two years now.  I've seen worse.  Especially when he was introducing his women."  She smiled at the older woman.  "They're hunters too, Grandma."  She pulled Dean with her up to her room, which was bright pink and had colorful rainbows over the ceiling.  "Yes, I know.  Grams decorated when I was eight."  She sat on her bed.  "So, what can DC's slayer do for you two?"

Sam smirked.  "Any idea where the demon is?"

"Yup, but if you go after him too soon he can kill again because he's only vulnerable that one day after that one rite.  Dawn said so."

Dean sat down, looking at her.  "How about any other problems?"

"Not too many.  The vampires don't want to turn politicians or lobbyists.  They might take their power away from them.  Now and then we get someone turned in the military.  Or a civvie."  She shrugged.  "Not much hunting really.  It's why I came home.  Gram wants me to join up when I get old enough.  I'm not sure which branch yet but she wants me out of this business."

"We're going to be working with someone from NCIS.  Maybe you can ask him questions at the wedding," Sam offered.

She beamed.  "That could help.   Oh, hold on.  NCIS, the growly ones?"  Dean nodded.  "Why?"

"The prophecy picked one of them," Dean told her.

She whimpered.  "You poor assholes."  Dean laughed at that.  "Really.  Who're you getting?"


"He's not bad.  A bit nice.  Gentle.  DiNozzo's a player.  I've seen him out before."

"He'd take all my women," Dean told her.  "It's better he stay here."

She giggled.  "That's one way of looking at it."  She stood up.  "You two need to hunt something else?"

"We're on the 'waiting for it to happen' treadmill," Sam told her.

"Been there, done that.  The last time I did my nails in the cemetery and totally messed up two of them."  She pointed at the door.  "Let me change.  We'll hit a few hunting clubs."  They left so she could change into something more suitable.  She came out and giggled at their horrified looks.  "Buffy picked it out."

"Go change," Dean ordered.

She glared.  "You're not a relation, Winchester."

"We don't want to be arrested either," he said bluntly.

"Hey!  Buffy said it's cute."

"How many times has she been picked up for looking like a ho?" he asked.

She stomped back inside and came out in something a bit more demure.  "Better?"

"Can you fight in that skirt?" Sam asked.  "You know, this is probably why Dad never gave us a sister, Dean."  He looked at her.  "Wear something Dawn would."

"I don't own leather pants."  Sam walked her in there and got her something better, coming back out shaking his head.

"It that bad?"

"Fashionable, thin tops, short skirts, heels.  Wedge heels.  Booty shorts."

Dean shook his head.  "Dad would've screamed and ranted if we had a sister and she dressed like that."

"Oh yeah," Sam agreed.  "I can see him trying an exorcism the first time she would've shown up wearing something like that too."

"Putting it mildly.  Wonder how he and Connor are doing in the land of pretty people."

"LA has it's own underbelly," she said as she came back out in the still cute, but pants and shirt outfit.  "I was in the hellmouth battle, boys.  Wearing booty shorts even," she said smugly.  "Hell was really warm.  My clothes didn't catch on anything."

Dean looked at her.  "Would Xander have let you out wearing that?"

"He left clothing up to Buffy unless it was totally indecent and then he yelled and ranted until we were embarrassed because he'd track us down and do it in public until we ran off to change."  She walked out with them.  "Going hunting, Grams," she called since she wasn't out front.  "Usually I go in looking like a ho so they let me into the club I hunt in."

Dean looked at her.  "You're not that young.  You can get in normally now."  He let her into the car and walked around to drive.  Sam got into the passenger's seat and they headed off at her directions.  The club was dark, smoky, dank, and stunk, but it was full of vampires feeding on the depressed lower classes of DC.  They were even nice enough to help her take out the drug dealing gang of vampires.  One less menace in the city.


Xander looked at the demon coming into the monument, frowning.  "Putz," he called, stepping into the light.  "Morning, Sunshine."

"Who're you?" he sneered.

"Harris.  Sunnydale's Harris."  He looked up then muttered the spell he had learned the night before.  The cameras all blinked out but one and that one he threw a rock at so it went out.  It didn't have a microphone so they were clear.  "Come on, you wanna try it?"

The demon sneered.  "No.  You're nothing.  Everyone says so."

"Everyone doesn't know me.  Yet."  Dean and Sam stomped in.  Meredith was behind them.  "Merry, back.  Do anything extra with Sam."  She nodded, pulling Sam back.  "C'mon."  He waved him on.

"No third?"

"No, I'm here," McGee said, coming in the other entrance.  He took the place Xander pointed at.  "Come on."  The demon sneered at him.  "I've seen worse.  Usually on the pitiful spousal abusers."  The demon lunged at him.  Fortunately he had been spending some time with some SCA friends who could use a sword.  Dean lunged to get the thing's back while Xander started the chant to banish the stupid thing.  "How long do these last?" he panted.

"We've had one that lasted over an hour and one that lasted twenty minutes, Tim.  Get used to it," Dean offered, barely out of breath.  "Training cures that.  Xander, spell!" he shouted.  Xander chanted louder, dodging in to take over McGee's slack.  The demon faded long before he was done.  "What went wrong?" Dean demanded.

Sam coughed and pointed.  "Guys,  how do you fight a statue?"  The statue was blinking down at them.

"Exorcize it," Dean said.  "Sam!"  He went to do that while they protected him and fought off the statue's hands.  Meredith was handling the demons coming in with someone else who rushed up.  Dean glanced back but kept at it.  Sam finished his exorcism and the statue howled, grabbing its head.

"Please don't make it stick that way," Xander muttered, tossing something on it.  He could see the fit if the statue stuck in that position.  They would be filleted and served to Gibbs' people.  The statue went limp and the demon came out.  Xander picked up his spell at the beginning, shouting it this time.  The demon reformed and they went back to it.  Tim was off to his right and slightly behind him, it was a safer spot for him to be.  He finished his chant.  The demon paused.  Then giggled.  Xander groaned, going back over it.  He had a last line to do.  He did it and the demon screamed.  They got it contained and the coin fell out as it shrank.

"Hey, no goo this time," Sam said, snatching it to put onto his necklace.  He looked at Xander.  "We're going over the spell stuff, Xander."

"That's what I've been doing!" he complained.  He looked over when Meredith shrieked, going to help her.  The vamps and demons were massing and it was not a happy moment.  Dean jumped in with Sam on his other side.  McGee, well, he guarded the demon.  It was safer.  He could watch and see what they were doing.  One made it past them to try to free it but he stabbed it.  Meredith fell so McGee rushed in to drag her out of the way.  He could call for help for her.  The three hunters took out the demons with Gibbs on the other side with Tony.  He looked over at the last few dying ones.  "She needs a hospital."

"Call her an ambulance," Xander snapped.  He did that.  He looked at Tony, waving.  "Hi again."

"Hi.  You guys okay?"

"We're fine."  Dean took a deep breath.  "Any more?"

"Not  yet," Gibbs admitted.  "You guys rush off into the sunset.  Before someone else gets here."  They nodded, heading for their cars.  "McGee!" he snapped. "Go with them."

"I'm meeting them this weekend, boss."  The ambulance and park service guys rolled up, with Homeland Security behind them.  "She's been trampled and beaten," he told the paramedics.  They nodded, taking her off immediately.  He grabbed the demon and stood up, coming over to hand it to his boss.  "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with that, boss," he said quietly.  He shrank his sword and put it away before anyone noticed it.

"I'll have it hidden," he promised, taking it.  "DiNozzo, hold that."  He took it to hold and guard.  He looked at him.  "Go.  Come back when you're done.  Be safe."

McGee nodded.  "I will, boss.  How did you know?"

"The slayer a few years back saved me in the Gulf," he said quietly.  McGee nodded at that.  "Trust them to train you.  Write Abby often so she doesn't complain."  He nodded, hurrying off to head to Cleveland.  At least Xander would be heading there.  Gibbs watched the agents stomping over.  "Don't ask us.  We just got here when we heard McGee call.  We were having dinner."

The bottle rocked in Tony's hands so he growled something at it.  It quit.  He looked at his boss.  "Yes, my mother did those things.  Freaked me out usually."  He walked off, heading back to the car.

Gibbs followed.  "Have a good clean-up, guys."

"Who were they?" one of the agents yelled, chasing after him.  He tried to grab him but Gibbs glared and he quit.  "Who were they?"

"The people who handle these things."

"The Watchers Council was destroyed."

"And reformed," Tony called.  "You guys go interfere with them often enough.  Don't you talk to your own people?"  He slid into the passenger's seat.  Gibbs smirked as he walked over to join him in the car.  "Assholes," Tony said once the door was closed with Gibbs in the driver's seat.  "I was never that bad.  Was I?"

"Not usually.  Now and then  you pull up an inner princess, DiNozzo."  He drove them off.   Let someone else do the paperwork this time.  It was his night off-call.  Besides, they had to bury the demon somewhere no one would look.


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