Tim knocked on the door of a school he had found out was the Watchers Council.  "Hi, Tim McGee here to see Xander."

"He's not here."

"I'm one of the ones hunting with him.  He said he would be."

"Oh, sorry.  We all looked up Dean and Sam, who's a hotty, but we weren't sure who you'd be.  Come on in.  Ignore the chaos.  It's a wedding this weekend."  She shut the door and walked him up to Xander's office.  "Visitor," she called before knocking.  She walked off.  "Kitchen's at the bottom of the back stairs."

"Thank you, miss."  He tapped then walked in.  "Hi."

"Hi."  He grinned.  "Welcome to my former insanity.  My future one is somewhere in Kansas by now probably."


"That's where they're from, Tim."  He stood up.  "Come on, let's show you the training area and get you a room."  He walked him out, walking him past a small redheaded girl.

"Miss Rosenburg," Tim said dryly.  "Please don't hack NCIS while I'm not there.  Abby would be very pissed and make me retaliate later."  He nodded at the older guy.  Xander was snickering quietly.

"Who is he?" Willow demanded.

"The third one in the prophecy, Willow," Xander called.  "Leave Tim alone."  He opened a door.  "The training area.  Don't worry about the gymnastics stuff, Buffy insisted."  That got a nod.  He led him to the normal room.  "We do hand-to-hand training in here."

"I'm not the best but the boss made sure I had some."

"Good.  We can up those levels."  He walked him up some stairs.  "These are the back stairs.  At the bottom is the kitchen.  Don't touch the reception food or Rebecca will have a fit and smack you around.  She may be twelve but she's a slayer on a fussing kick."  He opened a door then closed it and moved on.  The next one was empty.  "Here you go.  If someone tries to claim it later, tell them I said you could have it.  If they still argue, have them find you one.  Some of the girls are seriously stressed right now about clothes and things."

"Dean said something about clothes and Meredith."

"Sometimes she takes Buffy's clothing ideas a bit too far."  He patted him on the back.  "I'll be filing reports in my office.  Come get me once you're settled in.  We'll get to work on the hand-to-hand stuff."

McGee stopped him.  "You do know Sam's coming?"

"I'll tell Rebecca to add another bottomless pit and Dawn's date then."  He grinned and walked off, heading down to the kitchen to find the happy bride-to-be making her own appetizers.  "Mara, three more than you expected.  My current hunting partners are coming."  Dawn squealed somewhere.  "And that may be them."  She rolled her eyes, making more little nibbly things on crackers for the event.  He went to find Dawn.  "Did you get goosed?" he asked dryly.

"No, she saw my handsome face and squealed in pleasure," Dean told him.

"It could've been fear.  We couldn't tell from the kitchen."  Dawn batted at him.  "Tim's here."

"We sent him ahead," Dean agreed.  "You okay?"

Xander looked at him.  "Paperwork, Dean."

"Never mind.  That's why I don't work a desk job."

"Lawyers don't have that much, just arguments we have to write.  It's like writing research papers."  He grinned and got his own hug from Dawn.  "How've you been?"

"Good.  Come on, come meet everyone else."  She drug them off.  "Xander, Giles was serious about wanting those journal entries and reports."

"I know," he complained, going back to them once he had a new soda.  It was all the leeway he'd have.  He'd be filling out forms well past midnight.

Sam saw Tim and snagged him.  "Ladies, this is Tim, he's in the same prophecy as Xander."  They all cooed at him.  "He's a hacker too."  That got a few more interested looks.

"And he'll be gone from here like Xander will very shortly," Dean told them.

"Pity," one said.

McGee smiled at her.  "Usually I have to have dating to get more than cuddly and you're a bit young for me, miss.  My sister's older than you."  She pouted but gave him a hug anyway.

Dean looked at him.  "Really?  You might want to reconsider that."

"Don't listen to him. There's other methods of stress relief and fun on the road," Sam said, walking him on.  "Okay, someone show us around," he called.  Dawn huffed.  He grinned.  "I thought you were going to be busy."

"Hell no!  I'm not planning this wedding.  I might start having visions of my future one and get creeped out or something.  Giles wants me to marry the son of some other Watcher and I'm about to let Willow turn him into something."  The girls giggled but led them off to show them around.  They ran into Buffy.  "Buffy, these are Dean and Sam, and Tim McGee, all of whom are in the same prophecy suckage as Xander.  Who's still doing forms if Giles was looking for him to do something else as well."

"Of course he was.  There's a broken window," Buffy said.

"We can help with that," Sam told her.

She blinked at him then at Dawn.  "The Sam?"

"Yes, the Sam," she sighed.  "It's not like we're dating!"

"He's free," Dean offered.  "I get approval of anyone serious but you can have him for a few hours."

Dawn pinched him hard enough to make him yelp.  "I could never date a hunter.  You're never home."  She walked them on.  "Come on, guys.  Let's see where the broken window is."

"Third floor, attic," Buffy called.  "A bat flew into it."  She smiled and went to tell Giles all of them were there.  "Giles, all of Xander's current hunting party are here.  Sam's a hotty.  Dawnie does have good taste after all."  She strolled off.  "Oh, they offered to fix the window for Xander since he's busy doing all the paperwork you don't want to do."

"Thank you," he said, sighing a bit.  He had his own paperwork to do.  How the old council had done this much he wasn't sure.  He hadn't when he had been employed.  He got up to check on Xander, finding him staring at one, looking confused.  "For when you used your card?" he suggested.

"It's still declining."  He looked at him.  Then up.  "If the Powers want me to keep traveling, they should fund it!" he yelled.  "I didn't go bankrupt with Anya, I'm not now!"

Fred appeared.  "Not like they have a bank account or a credit card, Xander."

"They created the concept of money, they can create the concept of paying us."  He handed over that form.  "Since there's no use for it in my life."  He got back to the others.  "Journal entries were uploaded.  Hunting journal too.  Magic journal is already online so you could read over my shoulder.  Ask Dawn for the address.  Fred, wedding?"

"Oooh!" she squealed, going to find the happy bride and make sure she didn't have any messages for her.

"Some day you could have my job," Giles said blandly.

Xander looked at him.  "Considering the last chore of the trip looks like taking me out?  Probably not."  He got back to work.  "Anything else today, Giles?  If not, I''m going to be here for the next few days.  I'll try to come out for the wedding.  Let Dean run hand-to- hand for me."

"Fine," he muttered, going to find them and talk to them.  "Dean, Xander claims I've piled on too much paperwork for him to run the hand-to-hand session today.  Can you do so?  He suggested you do it.  That way you could work with Timothy and see how well he does."

"Sure, I can do that," he agreed.  "Our dad taught us the Marine way."

Giles smiled.  "That will do as well.  Most of the girls pick and choose which styles suit them best."

"Yeah but they still have to counter other ways," Sam reminded him.  The girls all pouted.  He gave them looks.  "We learned starting as kids, guys.  Come on.  Let's go practice.  That way the stuff for the wedding isn't interfered with by us nibbling.  Dawn?"

"Must I?"

"Yes," Dean said.  "You could end up drawn into one of the battles too, young lady."  He grinned at her.  "I'll use you as a demonstration model."

"I'm not a slayer."

"Witches need it too," Sam told her.  "Possibly even more than we do."  She pouted but let them all go into the training area.  He looked at the equipment.  "Xander can use this?"

"No, Buffy can use this.  They said hand-to-hand, ladies, not Buffy aerobics."  They groaned but went to that room, finding Tim already in there warming up.  "He showed you?"

"On the way upstairs," he said with a smile.   He looked at the girls.  One was clearly pregnant.  "She's practicing?"

"More than most.  She's vulnerable now," Dean told him.  "There's plenty of things that'll attack her while she's in labor."

"She's having the baby here and we'll guard her," Dawn promised.  That got a nod.  "Okay, let's pair up, ladies."  They continued to chat.  Sam whistled.  She smiled.  "Nearly as good as a gym teacher, Sam."  She patted him on the chest.  "Line the fuck up!" she shouted.  They did that, still grumbling.  "Do not make Xander upset.  We all know better."  They grumbled but got where they were supposed to be.  She looked at Dean.  "These are the hunting pairs.  That way they get used to them most often."

"That works," he agreed.  "Okay, with your partner, let's do the usual hand-to-hand."  He looked at Dawn.  "Do you get to practice?"

"Screaming and running away?  Yes, often."  She smiled.  "Buffy said so."

Sam snorted, shaking his head.  "No.  Sorry."  He attacked Dean and Dean defended, smirking and attacking back.  "Out of practice," he teased.

"Not hardly, woose boy."  He got him down but Sam flipped him over.  "Hey!"  He got them back over and smirked down at him.  "Now what you gonna do, college boy?"  Sam kneed him in the groin, making him groan.  "That was mean."

"See, we're getting up to that level," Dawn said.  They all nodded and attacked their partners.  "I'll work with you, Tim."  She attacked him and he defended.

Sam got up and pulled her off.  "I'll work with him, you work with Dean."  He attacked, showing Tim what he was supposed to be doing.

Dean went to correct some of the girls by smacking them on the head.  A few who weren't even trying he attacked and made both of them defend themselves. Then he went back to fighting with Dawn.

"They get knowledge of the skills and stuff, but Xander has to make them practice it," Dawn explained while she worked with him.

"Uh-huh."  He showed her a new move and she got him back with it.  "Better."  He looked over.  "Okay, let's move into a free-for-all fight.  Each person for themself!"  They all gave him horrified looks.

"Now!" Xander snapped from the doorway.  "I will *not* be embarrassed by your lackluster performance and I will not be burying any you of this fucking year!  Am I clear!"

"Yes, Xander," they all mumbled. A few attacked.  Then more jumped in.  Xander looked at the last few, who jumped in with sighs of complaint.

"I knew I shouldn't have left Buffy in charge," Xander complained, getting into the middle of it.

"Now see here!" Giles complained from the doorway.

"No, let 'em," Dean called.  "They need the workout and to be able to defeat the other girls if they go psycho or get possessed."  He nudged Tim, making him get in there.  "Sam, I think you can beat most of them."

"I know I can beat most of them," he muttered, diving in with Dawn behind him.

"They make an interesting hunting pair," Xander said, coming out the other side, dragging the pregnant one over to sit in a corner.

"They do.  Now all she needs is work."

"Buffy said no.  That was basically the whole phrase that explained it."

"Pity."  He nodded.  "We should show 'em how it's done."

"Yeah, but I still have paperwork."  He gave it a longing look then shrugged. "What the hell, I won't sleep tonight anyway."  He dove in with Dean behind him.  It did come down to Dean, Sam, and him in the end.  The last girl whined as she flopped down under Dawn but got Dawn tagged hard enough she couldn't breath.  "Gonna beat me if I hit Sam?"


Xander shrugged and knocked Sam out, tossing him on top of Dawn.  "There, she can baby him.  She needs something to fuss over."  Dean laughed and attacked him.  He defended, moving slower.

"Come on, I know I'm not a vampire, but you can do better, Xander," Dean chided.

"Yeah, sure.  But fighting faster means that you'll get hurt," he taunted.

"Bet me and I've been hurt before.  Go for it."  Xander sped up to his usual speed and Dean had to defend himself now.  He did manage to trip Xander, trying to pin him down.  Xander wiggled and got free, getting him in a headlock.  He punched his elbow backward, getting him in the ribs.  No lessening.  "Give," he said finally.  Xander let him go.  He rubbed his throat.  "Good job."  He looked at the horrified looking slayers.  "We do the job you do, and we're normal guys.  Shouldn't you be better by now?"

"If Gunn and Connor are coming up for the wedding, they might bring your father," Xander offered.

"He'd never come," Sam said.  He looked at the girls.  "Yes, you're supposed to be better than us.  That's part of the calling, ladies."

Faith clapped from the doorway.  "He's right.  Which is why none of us wanted Buffy to do these lessons with you girls.  She sucks at it."  She walked in, helping Dean up.  "Come on, show 'em how it's done."

"Sure," he agreed, attacking her.  She defended but it wasn't as good as Xander.

"But...  She's not as good as these guys are," one of the younger ones complained.

"She's out of practice," Xander said dryly, giving her a look.  She wilted.  "Hold up!" he ordered.  Faith backed off.  "Dean, no offense, but they need faster.  Vamps are faster."  He waved her on.  "C'mon."  She opened her mouth.  He popped her one on the chin.  "Now!"  She huffed and attacked him faster, like a slayer should.  "Not like you're gonna really hurt me, Faith," he taunted a few minutes later.  "You don't have a stake."  She growled and fought harder.  He had to break her back into attacking bad guys again.  He really did.  He did something very mean and spanked her once.

"Hey!  Not yours!" she shouted, taking a backswing at him.  He ducked and the fight was truly on.  She ended up winning.  Barely.  She looked down at him, panting.  "I am out of practice."

"Duh," he agreed.  "Can I breathe now?  Before I have senior year flashbacks?"  She got off with a laugh, helping him up.  "*This* is what you're supposed to look like," Xander announced.  "None of you have managed to knock me down yet.  I know some of it's my fault but not all of it.  Therefore, line up and let's go again."  They nodded, doing it.  He looked at her.  "Better?"

"I've been holding back," she admitted.

"Duh," he repeated.  He patted her on the back.  "Go angst to ice cream."  He walked around her and looked at Sam's chin.  "You okay?"

"Fine.  Thanks."  He grinned.  "Not bad."

"Hers is prior trauma.  Buffy!  Front and center!" he shouted.  She leaned in.  "Now!  Right now!  You haven't been practicing either.  Those are your fat jeans."  She growled at that.  "I don't care!  Get your ass in here, slayer."  She came in and worked with some of the younger girls.  He looked at Dean.  "Would you mind terribly?"

"Not in the least."  He jumped in to attack Buffy, making her growl at him.  "I'm nearly as good as he is in this stuff.  I have a different style."  She attacked him harder, doing her usual stuff.  That put her at a severe disadvantage to him.

McGee looked at Sam.  "Will I get there?"

"Sometime," he agreed, smiling a bit.  "Between these two knuckleheads?  Yeah."  McGee nodded, taking Dawn back to work with her.  He helped them both because they needed it.

"I don't want her fighting," Buffy complained.

"Then how will she get away from muggers?" Dean asked.  He wasn't really winded at all, she was panting.  He knocked her down and pinned her, pulling a dagger out.  "Now what're you going to do, Buffy?"

"Yell for my partner?"

"By the time someone got there, you'd be dying," he said bluntly.

Xander clapped.  "He's got a point, Buffy.  He looked around.  "Hey, Fred, can they have someone who can at least fight at Spike's level to take my place?"

"Call Gibbs," floated up the hall.

McGee looked at him.  "Unless the director pisses him off, he's still at NCIS."

"Try it anyway, tell him you're fine," Sam offered.  "Fred's the Messenger for the Powers That Be."

"Stupid," Dawn finished.  "Heartless also fits."  Someone came in.  "Connor!"  She squealed and went to pounce him.   "Come help us.  We're miserable with Xander gone.  Six months and Buffy's in her fat clothes and the other girls are miserable with their training.  Buffy's been doing it."

"I'm retaining water!" Buffy defended.

"And Ben and Jerry's," Connor said, looking her over.  "You don't look like a tired crack ho anymore.  You did the last time I saw you," he offered, grinning a bit.  He looked at the two brothers.  "Guys, your father is an annoying prick."  They laughed and nodded.  "Could've warned us.  Gunn let his boys take him down the other day.  They beat his ass and took him to a titty bar for some reason."

"Stress relief," Xander said.  Connor gave him a confused look.  "A titty bar is a strip club, Connor.  Where you go see naked women."

"I'm not even used to clothed women.  Why would I want to go there?"

"Poor thing," Dawn cooed.  He smacked her on the head.  "Hey!  No messing with the hair!"

"Cordelia said that to me once," he said, shaking his head quickly.  Xander snickered, leaning on Sam's shoulder.  "She did."

"I'm sure she did.  Come on, we're trying to get them back on track since we only have Xander for the wedding."

"Sure, I can help.  I haven't had major practice since our last Grenisth demon."

"Don't they have five arms and are about eight feet tall?" one girl asked.  Connor beamed and nodded.  "Did you stab it?"

"Ripped it apart with my bare hands."  They all sulked and pouted at him.  "You're slayers?" he asked.  He looked at Buffy, who huffed off.  "For some reason I can hear John throwing a fit in the back of my head.  It sounds a lot like the one I got the other day for trying to sleep in."

"Us too," Sam said.  "Very loudly.  And the next morning we'd be starting over with four am PT."  The girls whimpered.  He smiled.  "Not if you had patrol the night before of course.  Then you could wait until eight."

"Maybe nine if he was being generous and you got in after three," Dean agreed.  They all groaned and got back to work.  "Better," he said a few minutes later.  Sam was working with Dawn and McGee again.  Connor was helping some of the older girls.  Dean and Xander shared a look.  "Not your fault."

"I know.  I tried.  I tried really hard."  He went back to his office and his soda.  One he needed, the other he was still trying very hard not to burn.  Dawn came in and took the lighter from him, making him pout. "Fine!" he called after her.

Dawn handed Giles the lighter.  "Don't make Xander do your paperwork.  It's cruel and we can't enjoy him."  He sighed and went to see what he had left to do.  He hated paperwork as much as the boy did.  "Night off to celebrate tonight if the hunters clear you!" she announced.  Suddenly the girls did a lot better.  It was nearly miraculous.


Dean leaned against his car's hood, watching Xander come out of the school.  "So, where you heading after this?"

"Back to LA.  I wanted to go see some stuff in Sunnydale."  He grimaced.  "Then I'll hit the next spot."

"You sure?" Dean asked.  "You're already pretty wound up.  That could hurt more."

"I have to, Dean.  I have to cut some old ties before I can move on," he said quietly.  That got a nod.  "You guys are more than welcome to come out to Sunnydale with me."

"No thanks," he said, shuddering.  "Even the pictures of the hole in the ground is too much."  He nodded.  "Give you a ride to the club?"

"Are we heading with the girls?"

"They don't get chaperones?"

"Buffy's the mistress of hunting in the clubs.  She's the chaperone."

"For that many girls?"

"Most of the older ones *do* have sense," he said, giving him a look.  "Besides, I don't feel like babysitting."

"That's fine, we'll go wherever you want.  Probably pretty girls.  Unless you're taking Dawn's advice?"

"You're not bent over, so I can't be," he said dryly.  Dean laughed.  They got in together, Sam in the back seat.  "We're taking the bright one?"

"Dawn threatened to join us later too," Sam told him.  "McGee's curled up with his laptop and a good book."  That got a nod and Dean drove them down the driveway.

"We're going to a little bar called the Road Map.  It's on the west end."  Dean nodded, heading that way.  "Go over a street.  This one gets congested in about a block when it merges."  Dean did that and they headed off.  He looked back at Sam. "It's a bit rough.  We can drop you off."

"No, I'll be fine," Sam promised patiently.  "I've been plenty of rough places, Xander."

"Okay."  He gave quiet directions the rest of the way there, making Dean gape at the outside of the bar.  He grinned.  "Relax.  It's a nice enough place as long as you don't piss someone off."  He walked them inside, paying cover.  The bartender smiled at him, handing him a drink as he walked past.  "Thanks!  These are my friends, Dean and Sam."  Sam waved.  Xander went onto the dance floor to tease and play with the people out there.

Dean and Sam got a table, Dean flirting with the waitress and a few nearby girls.  Sam gave him a shove so he went to play too.  Sam smiled at one of the girls he had been flirting with.  "He could use some fun."  She went to pounce Dean and make him have some fun.  Sam sipped his beer, comfortable here in this bar.  It was calm.  Not peaceful but soothing sort of calm.  He took another drink and ended up out on the floor too, playing and laughing with a few girls.  When Dawn showed up he let her flirt with him before going off to find someone else.  Faith showed up later too but she kept to herself in a corner, even if he did offer to dance with her.  He went back to his playing, feeling a lot better for the night off.  He watched a slightly tipsy Dean tease a slightly tipsy Dawn and gave her a nudge, making her pounce him.  Then he went to tease Xander, making him laugh and shake his head.  "What?" he asked over the music.

"Hopefully she shows some sense and hits her apartment," he called back.  A girl got between them so they both danced with her.  She kept Sam from moving.

At the end of the night, they had to hotwire Dawn's car but that was fine.  "What sort of club was that?" Sam asked once they were on their way back to the school.

"I figure it's the dance club version of Callahan's place."  He grinned.  "I always feel better when I'm there.  I know an emotion sucking demon runs it.  I'm guessing he takes some of the worry and stress away to feed on it."  He shrugged.  "It's a great place."

"Cool."  He smiled as they got back to the school.  "Where are we staying?"

"You can have my couch if you don't have a room," Xander promised.  He parked and got them inside, taking him up to his suite.  It had girl clothes in it.  He looked around, then went to find Giles.  "You gave my room away too?"

"You weren't going to need it.  The embassy suite is open.  That's where I put the others in your group, Xander."

"I put McGee on the third floor."

"Yes, Mara nagged."  He shrugged and they went up there.  Tim was crashed.  There were two open beds.  They hit them and it was a good night, even if they did have nightmares.


McGee stopped Dean the next morning when he came in.  "Why do Sam and Xander have nightmares?"

"Sam?  Because his girlfriend died in front of him thanks to a demon," he said quietly.  "Xander won't share."


"Where are we stuffed?"

"Embassy suite."  He led him up there.  Xander was still in bed. "Sam's in the kitchen."

"It happens."  He went to shower and change, coming out to spank Xander, making him yelp and attack.  He knocked him down, staring down at him.  "Morning.  Food?"

"Fuck off," he muttered.  He climbed back into bed and pulled the cover over his head.

"Xander, you want to talk about the nightmares?" he asked loudly.

"I don't ask you about yours," he shot back.

"You could but I don't have many.  You could still talk to us.  Sam has his too."

"Yay us."

"Fine.  Be up soon or I'm letting the girls pounce."  He walked out with McGee.  This place was huge and he'd get lost soon.  "Some mornings are like that.  You learn to let him go back to sleep for an hour if possible.  Or point him at the thing attacking if not."  They walked into the kitchen.  "There's my baby sister Sammy."

"Shut up," he complained, handing him a cup of coffee.  "Xander?"

"Still in bed.  I tried," Dean said.

"You both had nightmares all night," Tim said quietly.

Sam nodded.  "Now and then I will."  He went back to his breakfast and reading.  "Giles, are you keeping track of the people who were bitten recently?  There's six in the paper."

Giles took it to look at and sighed.  "Ladies, we apparently missed a place they were hunting last night.  Let's do a patrol tonight, shall we?"

"Morgue patrol is B team by the schedule," Buffy said.  They all groaned but nodded.  "Mara, and the others in the wedding party are excluded of course."  They all nodded, getting back to eating.  "More training today, Giles?  Plenty of us have nail and hair appointments."  All the guys stared at her.  "For the wedding!  Hello, have to look pretty!"

Dawn strolled in.  "Morning, ladies.  Morgue patrol tonight is team C because team B is only one person with the wedding people out.  I'll be heading out as Watcher in charge.  Get over it now!" she announced.  That perked up the one girl but the others groaned.  She got her own coffee and came to sit with Sam and Dean.  "Morning, my bitches."

"Morning," Sam said with a grin.

Dean looked at her.  "Not a bitch, Dawn.  That's Sammy."

"I figured that out, Dean, but you're so cute when you beg me," she said, pinching his cheek.  "Wanna hit patrol tonight?  I know you and Xander haven't."

"Sure, not like we're doing anything but watching the wedding."  She nodded and dug into the buffet.

"Dawn, you're on the research council," Buffy complained.  "Let Xander."

"Xander's going again the day after the wedding," Dean told her.

She glared at him.  "He doesn't have to."

"He said he's going to Sunnydale to tie up some loose ends," McGee told her.  She slumped and stomped off.  "He's still sleeping," he called quietly.

"She should know better but she never learns," Dawn told him, taking his syrup. "Thanks, Timmy."

"Welcome, Dawn.  Has Abby called?"

"A young woman named Abby did call for Willow earlier, why?" Giles asked.

"Because she's our forensic specialist, but she had a clue when I got tapped.  The director told her if she helped me be tapped or told me anything she'd be fired," McGee said.

Giles smirked.  "We'll see what some of the oldliners say about that, shall we?"  He went to make a few calls.

"That's why people hated the old council," Sam told him.

"Yup," Dawn agreed.  "Plus they liked to handle problems the hard way now and then."

"Oh, yeah," Faith agreed.  "Didn't they try to take custody of you, D?"

"Twice.  Mom ripped Travers a new one and the second time Xander broke into his suite to have a 'shotgun to the temple' sort of talk with him.  For some reason he suddenly quit," she quipped.

"Does Xander have MPD?" Tim asked.  A few of them looked at him.  "One minute he's goofy, he's playing, he's happy and joking.  Then the next he's dangerous and deadly and ready to rip your head off."

"He's very, very protective of what's his and I'm his," Dawn told him.  "I'm the only little sister he has and about the only nice girl that's ever liked him.  He promised Mom and Buffy he'd watch out for me and he does.  Even if he does have to go scary sometimes.  As you guys go on you might get included in that.  Depends on how you treat him and if you believe the hype instead of looking deeper."  She looked at Dean, then hit him on the arm.  "For yelling at him after the battle in Utah.  Fred told me.  Jackass."

"I apologized!"

"You better have!  Do not make me break out my own scary side."

"Face masque?" Faith teased.

Dawn looked back at her.  "Want to be a poodle for the wedding?  We can dye you the wedding's colors."

"No thanks.  Maybe a german sheppard, but nothing that fluffy.  I'm not really a fluffy sort.  Ya know?" she teased.

"I think you'd make a wonderful Yorkie," Dawn teased back.  Buffy came stomping back in.  "He still sleeping?"  She went into the backyard, slamming the door.  "Guess that's a yes."  She ate a bite of breakfast.  "What did I say when I first met you?"

"I forgot in the trauma from you suggesting I go service guys at the gay club," he said, giving her a look.  Faith cackled from her corner.

"It doesn't bother me if you are, guys," Tim said, smiling a bit.  "I know plenty of very  nice gay men.  Some even single if you wanted their numbers."

Dean looked at him.  "I like women, Tim.  She's a bit demented."

"Oh.  Well, if you or Sam are, or Xander of course, then I'm fine with it."

"You'd have to ask Xander.  All we know is that he hit on a succubus in Texas and let her drain some of the hellmouth energy off him."  Everyone gave him horrified looks.

"He said it was better for him," Dean told them.

"That sounds about like his ususal dangerous tastes," Dawn agreed.  The others shuddered.

"If he dates another woman, I'll expect a call so I can fix him this time!" Willow called from somewhere.

"Sorry, we don't believe in that," Sam called back.  "We'd hate to have to beat you to death if you turned him into an iguana or something."  One slayer muttered something about 'never doing it again'.  He looked at her.  She slunk off.

"Just think the Powers want Xander to do magic during this prophecy," Dean said happily.  The girls all huffed off.  "Oh, well, more food for me."  He got seconds and went back to eating.

Sam looked down at her.  "Weren't you supposed to not warp him last night?" he asked quietly.

She cackled.  "I didn't do anything different."

"Wasn't too bad," Dean agreed.  He grinned at her.  "Less nibbling though, Dawn.  I thought you had been turned for a few minutes."  She punched him on the arm again.  "Otherwise, very good."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "Call again when you need stress relief."

She grinned.  "I'll remember that."  She heard stomping.  "Get Xander a soda, Tim?"  He did that, handing it to Xander when he stomped in.  "Morning," she said cheerfully.

Xander looked at her.  "Blow it out his ass, Dawn."  She cackled at that and he grabbed toast, heading outside.  Then he came back in and got more toast, heading in the other direction.  "Do not bother me!" he shouted as he walked.

"Someone needed laid last night," Faith joked.

Dean nodded.  "Yeah, but I didn't see anything that dangerous in the club.  Except for you."

She smiled and came over to hug him around the neck and kiss him on the cheek.  "That's the nicest compliment I've gotten recently."  She took the rest of her breakfast off.  "Last one puts up the leftovers," she called as she walked off.

Dean looked.  "There's going to be leftovers?"  He got more and dug in again.  He also added more to Sam's plate.  "To make up for the sleep you lost last night."

"Gee, thanks.  Make me have to buy all new clothes, Dean."  He dug in anyway.  That was as close as Dean got to a mother hen routine.

"I can help if you need that stuff," Dawn promised.  "I am a queen of finding sales.  I won't even let you buy the slutty pants Buffy would suggest."

Dean looked at her.  "He can have one slutty outfit.  You're the most fun he's had in over a year."  She gave him another hug then finished up and put her dishes in the dishwasher.  Dean found his phone and texted Xander to come get food if he wanted any, then waited five minutes.  Xander showed up and made a huge plate, plus a bowl, then left again.  Dean finished up the last few pieces of sausage and the last piece of toast, giving Sammy the last bite of eggs.  All the dishes went into the dishwasher and he was nice enough to turn it on.  Then they went to snoop around.  They found Xander eating in the armory.  "Dawn threatened to take Sammy shopping," he said.

"That's her stress relief, maybe she needs some."

"Told him she wouldn't even get him any slutty clothes.  I told her to go ahead, he needed more fun."

Xander smirked at him.  "Pimping out your brother is wrong, Dean.  Even if there are some women who'd pay a whole lot for his big eyes and hair."  Dean laughed, coming in to help him.  "I'm doing the inventory.  Apparently only the agents who show up now and then know what anything is."

"They don't play with the weapons?"

"Nope.  When I came back to outfit the twins after Texas, the agents had to fire the blessed rocket at the big demon.  Faith didn't know how.  Usually I hand it to them in the proper way with the sight up.  It's easier than explaining rockets, LANS, and other things to them.  Not too many of the girls are interested beyond crossbows."

"Not many girls like guns either," he pointed out.  Sam and Tim joined them.  "When are you and Dawn going shopping?"

"Later.  We're taking Tim to make sure he has the right sort of clothes.  He brought some work clothes with him."

"We have suits too, they come in handy when we're pretending to be agents," he quipped.

"Let me handle that," McGee said.  "Having you two in Gitmo would really screw with things."

"They usually believe we are," Sam offered.

Xander snickered.  "They usually think I'm a supervisor."  He grinned.  "Fornell's boss did when we had that talk."

"You're third in charge around here, of course they did," McGee agreed.  An alarm started to go off overhead.  "What's that?"

"That's we're being raided."  Xander concentrated and muttered, bringing a book.  "Damn it, not the right one."  He did it again but the door was closing.  It thumped the outside.  He sighed, looking in that book.  The other one was thumping outside but they could hear people.  He looked around, nodding McGee away from the doorway in case they were trying to listen.

"No, the book's a strange thing," Willow said, making it stop.  "Who said we had those things?"

"The Director of NCIS," the agent said patiently.  "What's in here?"

"Organizational records."  She led them off.  "We don't have artillery, guys.  I'm sorry you were misled.  The Watchers' Council are very responsible people.  If we need it for a major problem then we get it right before then.  We'd never hurt normal people; we're here to protect you guys from things you don't want to admit exist."

Fred faded in.  "John's being a stupid idiot," she said in greeting.  "I can take out the problems this weekend, don't bother the others," she mimicked.  "He's got a buttload of gang members who're demons who want Gunn out there.  Can you please have someone call?  Like Xander?  Xander knows some of them."

"If I can find Xander."  She texted that to Xander, who was probably calling quietly wherever he was.  "How's that?"

She beamed.  "Thank you."

"What are you?" the agent demanded.

She stared at him then giggled.  "Cute panties.  I'm the Messenger for the Powers That Be.  I'm the fax service of the Gods in verbal form when they have needs."  He went pale.  "Why are you bothering our people?"

"They kidnaped an agent from a federal agency."

"No, he got poked with the pointy sword of destiny due to a prophecy set of battles to keep humanity alive.  He's doing that right now.  Some of their people and some of another group of hunters are helping him.  He has to or you'll die with everyone else on this planet."

"They have artillery."

"Well, duh, how do you take out a ten foot demon?" Buffy said as she walked in with their usual agent of annoyance.  "Tell him he's stupid.  Hi, Fred."

"Buffy, he was given bad knowledge by someone," Fred chastised.  "In this case a woofing woman of a director who tried to stop Timmy from being called.  She even tried to stop people from telling Tim that he might be called."

"Which is why we're getting an Abby for the research council," Willow said cheerfully.

"Good, then it's not just Dawn," Buffy agreed.  She looked at their usual agent.  "Don't we buy weapons only when it's necessary?"

He looked at him.  "I have the feeling that the warrior who got chosen from here took it with him.  He's got two years on the road fighting bad things and only one eye.  It'd be simpler.  We're paying close enough attention to it."

"Which agency are you?" the first agent demanded.

He pulled his ID.  "Homeland Security."  That got a groan.  "We don't like the old Council, we don't like the new Council, we especially hate Harris and the Winchester brothers having to work together because they're all trouble magnets, but we'd rather live than have to deal with them.  Your director's in trouble."

"Her orders came from the president and so did ours."

Willow coughed.  "Someone really should go exorcize the demons in the white house soon and unpossess the VP as well."  Both agents gave her a horrified look.  She smiled sweetly.  "The old council used to send someone every few months.  We've been busy and he hates the neopagans among us.  Since it's us neopagans or no one else at the moment...."

The Homeland agent shuddered.  "We'll have someone check on that."   Willow dug out a card and handed it over.  "He can?"

"He knows.  I don't know if he can or not.  You'd have to ask him."

He nodded. "We'll check then.  Thank you, Miss Rosenburg."  He looked around.  "Where's Harris?  I know he and the annoying ones came up for the wedding tomorrow."

"Hiding so he doesn't hit you," Willow said with a gentle smile.  "You guys seem to think Xander's so helpless and he's not.  He kicked most of the slayers' butts yesterday during practice."

"You need better trainers anyway.  It's clear Summers isn't doing it and Harris was doing all right but leaving too much up to the girls," the Homeland agent said.

"I'd like to see someone like Gibbs do it," Fred said with a wicked grin.  "He and Tony can both work here if their director gets vindictive.  Right, Giles?"  He groaned, shaking his head.

"That was the pain in the wallet groan," Buffy told her.  She'd heard it many times.

"Gibbs would make the girls quit shopping so often and quit wearing the slutty clothes totally," Fred offered happily.  "He yelled at Meredith the last time he saw her in them."

"That alone may be worth the cost of the two new employees," Giles told her.  "Thank you, Winifred."

"Welcome."  She waved before fading out.

"Do tender that offer for us if their director is still being intentionally cruel," Giles said.  "Now, anything else you need to see or can our usual method of annoyance help you with whatever else you need to know?"

"I guess he can.  Thank you, Sir."  He walked out with the other agent, talking quietly.  A few things made him shudder, including some of the girls doing their pedicures.  These teenage girls were going to save the world?  They were doomed!

Giles looked around.  "It's safe!" he called.  The armory door opened and Xander came out to get the spell book, walking it back in there and closing the door again.  "Perhaps not."

"I think Buffy gave him a grumpy mood when she went to wake him up," Willow said.

"As she has both of us in the past," Giles said, walking out again.  "It's all right, ladies, back to work."  They groaned but went back to what they had been doing.  Still mostly goofing off.

Willow beamed.  "I'm off to make something so the boys can get their father to talk to them now and then."  She went to her practice and lab space, going to create something that would zap him whenever the boys needed him.  Connor had said that he needed to relax more often and his sons could surely help with that.

"You can tell Xander's back, people are going insane," Buffy complained, but went to work out.  She had gained a few pounds and didn't look as good in her fat clothes as her regular ones.


Dean finished putting in the compartment Xander had suggested for McGee's car while Xander was getting him outfitted with a rolling hunting pack.  Sam was helping so he'd have their version of supplies too.  Those two worked pretty well together.  He checked it to make sure then looked back.  "Okay, it's in."  He came over to look at the gear. "Carrying bag," he suggested.  Xander held it up.  "EMF..."  Xander tossed him one.  "We've got one.  I made it."  He handed it to McGee.  "Sammy showed you how to do EVP from a recording?"

"I already knew, Abby showed me," McGee offered.  "I've also given him some new software that could help."  Xander looked at him.  "You said you didn't want any."

"If there's electronic voices from ghosts, they can talk to me themselves.  We just have to make sure they climb out of me again."  He looked at the rest of the box.  "Okay.  He's got ten boxes of shells, packed by our local shell guy.  Dean, I tossed two more into your trunk too.  I've got another three to go home with me.  You have silver, a trial of the new wooden ones with teflon," he said, tapping that box.  "Plus a few ordinary things, like stakes, crossbow, bolts, those things."  Tim nodded.  "Anything in here you aren't sure how to use at this moment?"

"Crossbow."  Xander took it out to show him how to load it and aim.  "Okay, I can do that."  He put it back into it's foam spot.  "What's that?" he asked, pointing at a small box.

"Capturing box for spirits," Sam said.  "It can come in handy now and then.  Xander picked us all up some.  I added it to our kit, Dean."

"Sure.  I'm all for it as long as they work."

"They do," Xander promised.  "I crafted the boxes long ago and Willow did the capturing spells."  He looked in there.  "Anything else?"  McGee pointed.  "Potions and magic kit.  A backup in case I run out or lose mine."  He looked at him.  "You're not interested in that stuff, right?"  He shook his head quickly.  "Me either but the Powers said I had to so we've all got some and I've got a major kit of it in the car."

"Is that what you've been doing all those times you disappear?" Sam asked.

"Mostly," Xander agreed.  "Now and then some stress relief on the vamps."  He handed the first layer to Dean.  "That's the bottom."  He went to put it in there.  He handed Tim the second one.  "Here's the second layer."  He went to help Dean install them.  He looked at Sam.  "Do we need to get you guys anything while we're here?"

"No, we're pretty good.  Do we have extra magic stuff for you?"

"Um, not that I'm aware of."  He led him upstairs to get him a kit as well, plus a traveling book he sent with the slayers on a few very handy potions.  "Here.  Use it well."  He got another copy for Tim, going back down there.  "Here, use it well.  Sometimes it is necessary."

Dean took theirs to look through.  "That's different than our banishing potion."

"That'll work on more than one thing," Xander told him.  "It's the one we use most often around here.  There's another two in the back for reference along with what they handle."  He looked then nodded.  Theirs was in there.  "Healing potions are the blue tab, Tim.  Those come in handy as well.  Don't make us visit you in the ICU, okay?"  He nodded.  "Good boy."  He patted him on the head.  "Dean, anything need refilled?"

"We don't use much artillery," he said dryly.

Xander grinned.  "We do now and then.  Anything lower class?"

"Could use a few new stakes but I can do those some night when I'm bored."  Xander grabbed some from the barrel of them, getting a nod of thanks.  "Holy water refills?"

"The fountain where the wedding was held.  It's fully blessed every month when the priest comes in to do the armory."  They went to refill those stores with Tim carrying a few clean jugs up there.  Xander went to load his super soakers and other stuff as well.  Including a few extra mason jars.  He had to peel the 'turpentine' label off one but that was fine.

"Don't take the whole fountain," Buffy complained.

"We're heading in the morning," Dean told her.

"Damn it."  She pouted at Xander.  "What about the stuff you needed to bring back?"

"I can put it in a box in the Impala and they can hand it over in a few weeks when we meet up again."  Dean nodded that was fine.  She pouted.  "Sorry, Buffy.  I'll go make sure the old hellmouth is staying closed and stuff."  He headed back down to the car, making sure his super soakers weren't going to leak on the flight.  The hard-sided suitcase was good for that and had holders for them and most of the other things.  Not like he had more than a carry-on of clothes at the moment.  He finished packing and looked around, then thought about sneaking off.  Unfortunately Dean came into the suite.  "I'm ready to hit the airport."

"You don't fly out until seven."  He patted him on the arm.  "Want to talk?"

"No.  Being here is like misery sometimes."

Dean nodded.  "I can see that.  You hid most of the time you were here."  He looked at him.  "They do count on you."

"They don't appreciate me," Xander countered.  "You can count on a slave.  You appreciate a coworker."

"True," he admitted.  "Sneaking off?"

"I was thinking about it.  I know there's a two am flight to LA."  That got a nod so he got his gear down to the rental.  He said bye to those few he needed to then headed out.

McGee came in, looking around.  "He sneak off?"

"He needed to get away before they found more things they needed him to do," Dean said.

"I noticed that.  Is it always like that?"  Dean nodded.  "Why?"

"He's the normal guy among them," Dean said.  Sam came in.  "Like sometimes I think he's the mascot for the same reason."

Tim nodded. "I guess I get that spot now?"

"Not with us training you," Dean promised. "You'll be pulling your own weight, Timmy."

"Thanks, Dean."  He grinned.  "I should sleep if we're leaving at six."  That got a nod.  "Night, all."  He went to his bed.

Sam looked at Dean.  "Six?"

"Six.  Before the girls get up to mob us and keep you.  McGee, write your bosses a letter so they have information when they get in."

"Already did."

"Good."  He looked at his brother again.  "You okay?"

"I'm fine.  The girls are a bit creepy now and then.  A few have been flexing their muscles and things."

"They're hitting on you, Sam.  Just don't make baby slayers or else I'll have to tell Dad."   He went to his own bed, stripping down before climbing in.  "Set the alarm?"

"Yeah."  He did that and climbed in his own bed, staring at the ceiling.  "I thought we'd know more about Xander from this stop."

"We do," Dean said.  "It's out of order but we do.  We know why he has to be able to prove himself.  We know why he's so defensive about his eye.  We learned a lot."

"I guess.  You think he'll be okay in Sunnydale?"

"No but I think we'll be there in three weeks," Dean said.  "Even if we have to hunt him down and drag him out of there."

"Sure.  We'll teach Tim how to track."

Dean grinned.  "Now you're talking.  What's up for us?"

"Um, Lady in White in Missouri."

"Oh yeah."  He yawned.  "Night."

"Night."  He flipped onto his side, getting comfortable so he could sleep.

Dean smiled at the first snore.  At least his little brother was tired enough to sleep tonight.  He worried about him and his nightmares.  He let himself drift off, having some very good dreams.


Xander walked into the garage where his car was parked, finding John sitting blatantly on the trunk.  "Move for a sec please?  Did you get the cameras?"

"Yeah, almost an hour ago."

"Sorry, delay to get off the ground.  The air hostess was freaking out.  Her first flight."  He opened his trunk once his alarm was off, loading the things where they needed to go. "Your boys are fine, John.  They're headed out tomorrow to deal with a Lady in White."


"Lower Missouri."  He looked over at him then went back to loading in holy water filled things.  "The slayers were good to them.  The older girls hit on them.  Dean helped prove why it used to be one slayer, one watcher - so the girls couldn't slack off in practice.  Tim showed up and we got him kitted out and some beginning practice in.  He'll go with the boys to see how they handle their things since I'm off to Sunnydale."  He finished up and locked down the hidden compartments, then closed the trunk to look at him.  "They're fine.  We even got a night off."

"The new guy be all right?"

"He's a former agent and his boss was a marine with high standards.  He'll be fine.  He's got a bit of baby fat but that'll be taken care of soon.  He had some mild hand-to-hand training."  That got a snort.  "He used to be a computer geek, John.  Give the guy a break."  That got a stare.  "Sam even got Buffy to admit Dawn should train with the slayers.  We'll be meeting up in a few weeks.  I'll show them my lovely hole in the ground."

John stared at him.  "You're worried about something."

"Did you read the whole prophecy, John?"  He nodded.  "I'm the one that's supposedly going to flash out in powers.  Magic goes screwy around me and I've messed up so many prophecies just by being there it's not funny.  Hell, there were two slayers for a few years because I knew CPR.  It's not supposed to be that way.  I got picked for this because the Powers *loathe* me for doing things like that.  And the last act of it, that cleaning up loose ends?  That's entirely possibly my death.  So now I'm going to go wrap up some loose ends.  Because after this next fight, things speed up and I won't have time to later."  He leaned on his trunk.  "Anything else concerning you?"

"You're burned out."

"I was burned out back in tenth grade.  By the time Glory got there I was fried crispy and now I'm burned to a cinder," he said honestly.  "This isn't the first time they've sent me off hoping to let me die somewhere obscure.  They sent me to fix a slayer that was going rogue and trying to take over a country last year.  One of the ones I had trained and worked with before the last hellmouth battle.  One I babied the injuries on after the battle, all the way to Cleveland.  So they sent *me* to take her down."

"You know how she fought."

"She was like my kid sister, John.  The same as Dawn is."  That got a sympathetic look at least.  "I don't want to rant at you.  I know very well what they're trying to do.  The old Council tried it too.  They hated it when people jumped in to help their girls."  He found his keys.  "Anything else?  Dean said you could call if you weren't that stubborn."

"You shouldn't be alone."

Xander snorted.  "I've always been alone, John.  The only guy in the group.  The only normal one.  And now I get to be the only one with the super powers that're strong enough to end the world.  Go me."  He waved a hand around like it had a pom-pom.  "Anything else?"

"No.  You sure you want to head up there?  Connor said there's been some activity."

"I can fight the demons if I have to, John.  I can fight the spirits if I have to.  We'll see what I have to do.  I might not stay the full three weeks.  I don't know."  He walked around and got into his car.  "Tim's driving by himself so call the boys.  They wanted to make sure some gang lowlife didn't get you yet."

"Thanks for that," he said blandly.

Xander just grinned. "It's the guy I am, John.  Always have been."  He slid in and closed the door, turning over his engine and heading off into the early daylight.

John shook his head.  The boy was in bad shape.  He called his sons.  "Do you know how fried to a crisp that boy's soul is?" he asked in greeting.


"Nice to hear from you too, dad.  We're fine.  Sam didn't get in trouble at the wedding."  Sam snickered.  "But yes, we do realize that Xander's burnt out.  We knew that back in Texas.  The same as I knew he was burnt out before the last hellmouth battle."  Behind him lights came on.  "Hold on, Dad."  He pulled over and parked, shutting off the engine.  "Trust me, Dad, we do know."  The officer stomped up to the window.  He rolled it down.  "Anything else, Dad?  Because the cop who just stopped us isn't looking happy."

"We have a hands-free set law in this state, boys," he said firmly.

"Officer, we're just passing through, going home from a wedding," Sam told him.  "Our dad's a worrywart though and had to call to make sure we didn't join in too hard and pick up daughter-in-laws for him.  I promise we won't answer it again while we're driving."

The officer glared.  "Think you're cute?"

"No, he knows I'm the cute one," Dean told him.  He held out the phone.  "You yell at my dad for bad timing.  If I hadn't answered it, he'd be here later tonight with a lot of guns."

The officer snatched the phone.  "Sir, we do not allow people to talk without hands-free sets in our state.  I can fine them heavily for that.  They are a danger to the other drivers on the road."  He heard the father spluttering and hung up on him.  He tossed the phone back.  "There's sixty miles to the other side of the state.  Get there within an hour, boys."  He stomped back to his car.  They drove off, doing as ordered, even at the speed limit.


Later that night, Tim stepped into the boys' motel room, handing out something.  "Your father asked that I find you an appropriate one and he'll pay me back."  He grinned. "One hooks into the radio so you can hear it anywhere in the car.  The other's like headphones with a mic."  He grinned at Sam.  "What was he complaining about?"


"Why?  Xander's a nice guy," Tim told him.

"Dad thinks Xander's, like, twelve and doesn't have a clue," Sam told him.  "He also doesn't like the Council.  The old council was not easy to like."

"Putting it mildly," Dean complained.  He looked at both of them, claiming the radio one for himself.  "Will this work with a cassette player?"

"There's an adaptor," Tim assured him.  He nodded, grinning at that.  "Put the mic somewhere near your mouth.  Not on the floor or the seat."  He sat down.  "Did he yell about other things?"

"He thinks we should stop Xander from hitting Sunnydale," Dean said, looking over at him.  "His bad shit radar went off again.  Then again he was sitting on Xander's hood when he got into the airport."  He shrugged.  "Who knows.  We don't understand Dad most of the time."

"Okay.  Let me go get a room.  Dinner?"

"Figure it out and let us know," Sam said.  We'll eat nearly anything most of the time."  That got a nod and McGee went to do that while Sam made sure his new set worked with his phone.  "Good."

Dean looked at him then went to the car to make sure it worked.  He smiled when his father choked while answering.  "How's the sound quality?"

"Put the mic closer to your head, son."

He moved it.  "How's that?"

"Better.  Where is it?"

"Visor."  He leaned back.  "So, anything else good come of the talk in the airport?"

"What were the kid's parents like?"

"Dad, he's the same age I am," Dean complained.

"Fine.  How were they?"

"Drunk.  That's all he's said."

"Oh.  That explains some things then."   You could hear him eating.  "Any other problems?"

"No.  Not yet.  We're barely in Missouri.  We've stopped for the night.  Tim's figuring out dinner.  Sam's coming."  Sam slid into the car.  "Say hi, Sammy."

"It's Sam, Deanny."  Dean snickered.  "Hi, Dad."

"Good to know you're still fighting, son."

"You're the one who made him annoying," Sam told him.  "Anything tragic happen in LA?"

"Do you know how many ghosts they have here?"

"Yup," Dean agreed.  "That's why they've got a paranormal studies program near the city somewhere."

"Oh."  You could almost hear the grimace before he ate something.  "Anything else I should know?"

"Well, Xander is a medium.  So don't let him suck in too many," Sam told him.

"He's going to a town that had a high death rate and then exploded.  Do we think this might be a problem?" John asked dryly.

"No," the boys said together.

"It's Xander, he can handle it," Dean explained.

"If not, we can do an exorcism.  Giles told us which one worked best."  He smirked at Dean.  "Oh, Dad.  Dawn said hi and she thinks Dean's very snuggly, her words."  John choked again.

"You broke her in, I'm guessing she was looking for a better lay," Dean said smugly.  He was really choking now.  "Night, Dad."  He hung up and smirked at him.  "That was mean."

"He deserved it for trying to talk down to Xander."  He glanced at Tim.  Dean started the car to follow him.  "Do we think the warnings not to let Xander go too far away were a good thing?"

"I don't know," Dean said.  "He's facing this like a terminal cancer patient.  Making amends, doing the little details so no one else has to.  It's creeping me out.  You?"

"I'm still trying to decide if he's right or not."

"I'm not taking him out, Sam.  I don't care.  I don't do that."

"Neither of us do," Sam agreed.  "But what if he loses control and does what Willow did?"

"Then we'll tie him up and talk to him."

"Even after this is over with?"

Dean looked at him.  "It's not often we make friends.  It's not often people understand us at all.  Why we do things, any of that.  In this case, Xander does.  I'm really starting to consider him an annoying friend.  One who gets into trouble now and then like you do."


"You," he agreed.  They pulled into a diner and he leaned out the window.  "Tim, no.  Just no, dude.  No, not in the least.  Go up the street to the Star Burger."  Tim nodded, getting back into his car and heading up there.  "No way am I going to sit in a place with the Klan," he muttered.

"Maybe Tim thought you needed a brawl for stress relief," Sam teased.

"The boy's naive.  We'll have to broaden him sometime soon."

"Don't look at me.  You're the slut."

Dean punched him on the arm.  "Shut up, bitch."

"No, Jerk, make me."

Fred appeared in the back seat.  "Boys, if you wanted to put Tim or Xander between you that would be fine according to the Powers.  They said so. There's special rules for special people who do the special things."

"We've been seeing what they did to Xander," Dean said.  "Is he right?"

Fred sighed and slumped.  "I don't know.  I can't see that far ahead and they won't tell me.  I asked and they walked off."

"Which means he could be right?" Sam asked.  She nodded.  "Any way around that?"

She beamed.  "If there's a way around a prophecy, Xander can do it.  That's one of his many skills.  Also, yes, John has a right to worry about all the spirits in Sunnydale.  They started off with the 'you let us die' as soon as he passed the boundary of the crater."  They both groaned.

"We'll do an exorcism," Sam said.

"We'll have to find him first, huh?" Dean asked.

She nodded.  "Yup.  I've let Dawnie know you'll need the maps of what remains in Sunnydale, which Xander himself did.  There's still some of the underground stuff.  You'll have a lot of fun hunting him but do watch out for the vampires.  Swords in a small tunnel aren't good."  She leaned forward to ruffle Dean's hair.  "Rebless the weapons, dumb butt."  She disappeared.

"We can do that too," Sam agreed.  Dean snickered.  "Tonight?"

"Can we find a good place?"

"Yeah, not a problem. There's woods.  Or a state park tomorrow.  Either way."

"Sure."  They parked and got out, heading inside once the car was locked.  He swatted Tim on the head.  "I'm not eating somewhere the Klan is."

"They were Klan members?"

"You didn't see the bumper stickers?"

"No, I didn't.  I'll start paying attention to that."  They sat down at a table with menus.  "Now what?"

"Small detour tomorrow," Sam said.  "We need to hit the state park."

"Why?" he asked cautiously.

"To do the same thing we did in Texas," Dean told him.  That got a slow nod.  "Didn't you get to read it?"

"The pages that dealt with DC."

"We'll show you everything later," Sam promised with a small grin.  The waitress gave them an odd look as she walked over.  "We're RP-ing with some friends on our road trip.  He's new to the game."

"Oh, okay then."  She took their orders and went to make them come into being.  She came back.  "Want those to go, boys?"

Dean smiled.  "I'm just driving.  Tim here was MIT and Sammy was Stanford."

She smiled.  "Gotta love the geeks.  What do you do?"

"I live to serve the geek kings."

She walked off laughing, leaving them their drinks.

"You know, I could use some stuff ironed," Sam quipped with a mean smirk.

Dean looked at him.  "Irons are for sissies, but I'm sure you already knew that, Sammy."  He looked at Tim, who was giggling.  "So, state park, then heading on.  After that we get to go rescue Xander from his town, where everyone's apparently nagging him.  Then onto the next problem."

"You guys do this all the time?" Tim asked.  They nodded.  "How?"

"Determination," Sam said.

"What he said," Dean agreed.  "We have a reason to.  You do too for the next few years. Then you can go home with all sorts of stories to pick up women, Tim."  He clapped him on the back.  "Because you could use one.  You're more uptight than Sammy is."

"I don't pick up easy women that way.  I have standards that include dating and sex after the fourth date."

"Then you're going to be having a lot of fun with your hand for the next two years," Dean told him.  Tim blushed.  "Don't feel bad, so does Sam."  He shrugged.  "It's hard but I got all the charm in this family."  Sam kicked him under the table.  "Hey!  Not my fault."

"Yeah, so much charm that the women usually giggle when you hit on them.  Grow up, Dean."  He rolled his eyes.

"I've been grown up, Sam.  You've got to learn what fun is sometime.  At least Xander gets that."

The waitress came back.  "Xander?  Guy that drives a green caddy?"  They all nodded slowly.  "How do you know Xander?"

Dean grinned.  "He's part of the RP group. He's back at home for a few weeks then we're going to pick him up again."

She gave them looks, then leaned down to get into his face.  "Will we have problems with you like we did him?"

"Depends on what he did."

"He decided to take offense that a few of the local boys were picking on a teenager and stepped in.  Then he walked off humming."

"That sounds like Xander," Sam agreed.  "No, we won't step in unless the kid can't defend himself.  After all, bullies are bad," he told her simply, staring at her.  "All geeks think that."

"He clearly thought he was Superman."

"Nah, he said he wanted to be Batman when he was younger."  She walked off shaking her head again.  "Huh."

"Wonder how many more of those we'll have," Tim said.

"We should stop through that one town," Dean said.

"Not a chance, Dean."  Tim gave them a clueless look.  "The first town on the list.  They had a similar Xander experience there."

"Oh.  No, let's not.  I don't want to get my butt kicked this week."

"Fine," Dean complained.  "We'd help you learn how to defend it."

"Which is great but I'll still get hurt until then."

"Pain is a matter of reference," Dean told him.  "You don't have to pay attention to how it's shelved."  Their food came and he dug in.  So did the check so Xander must've made an impression on someone.  He looked toward the kitchen and saw the chef had on a sling.  That's probably who he had made the impression with.


Two weeks later Dean and Sam pulled up to the edge of the Sunnydale crater.  Dean stared.  "I didn't think it was this bad," he said quietly.  Sam just stared.  "Are you getting visions?"

"No," he said weakly.  "They said they got most everyone out of town."  Tim pulled up beside their car.  He looked over after Tim had rolled down the window.  "The center of that was the old high school where Xander went."

Tim whistled.  "That's a huge crater."  He took pictures and sent them to Gibbs.  He had been sending virtual post cards to them.  He got one back saying to be careful, they had heard bad things about that area.  "Tony said that they're still hearing bad things about here."

Dean leaned over to talk to him.  "Ya think?  On a hellmouth?"  He leaned on the steering wheel to stare at the damage.  "Where do we start looking for him?  Fred?"  No messenger appeared.  "Huh."

"We could hunt.  If he's in pain he's hiding."  Sam got out and took pictures, sending them to his father.  Connor sent back a suggestion.  "Connor said he'd be hiding by Joyce's grave and she was buried in Golden Slumbers.  Which was ..."  He pointed after checking the sun and the map.  "That way."

Dean got out, locking the car.  "Come on, Tim.  We've got to track Xander down."  He heard an insane sounding giggle.  "Xander, it's the guys, come on," he called.  Another insane giggle trailing off into the underground.  "Crap," he muttered, heading for the only open spot he could see.  He looked then slid down feet first, heading up the sewer conduit.  The walls were cracked.  The sewer's water was stank and moldy.  "I'm making him clean my shoes for this," he muttered.  He heard a splash.  "Tim, make sure Sam has what we need to exorcize him."

"I do," Sam agreed.  "He's watching the cars.  He's a bit claustrophobic apparently."  They headed back up the sewer, finding a few branches.  The EMF meter was useless.  It was off the charts everywhere.  They kept going away from the blast's center.  After about an hour Sam nudged Dean and handed over a granola bar.  "Xander, I have chocolate," he called.  He heard a sniff and they paused, looking around.  The sniffing thing came out and Dean shot it.  It wasn't Xander; it was a demon that looked like a round ball of hair.  They kept going, running into a few demons.  Dean's sword was nearly no use but they had other means.  Dean could still change it into a machete, which was more useful.  They found an inhabited area but it didn't smell like Xander.  It smelled like wet dog.  So they kept going.  Dean looked back a few times.  "I know, we're being followed."  Something giggled.  "Xander?" he called.

"The Knight can't save you," a female voice called from out of the dark.

"Yes he can," another male voice said.

"No, he can't," a female voice said sharply.  "Now shut up, I'm trying to think."

Dean headed that way, finding it was Xander.  A very possessed Xander by the look on his face.  "Hey," he said calmly.  "Come on, let's go topside.  Please?"  Xander broke free and took off running.  They chased, finding him trying to climb further down.  Dean pounced so they both fell through the manhole cover that led down.  Xander got free from under Dean's groaning body, limping slightly as he moved off.

Sam hopped down the last few feet, checking Dean over.  "You okay?"

"Peachy, get him.  He's limping."  Sam ran after him and Dean got himself up, groaning a bit. "Ow."  He rubbed his shoulder.  "Xander's stronger than most people think."  He followed too.  Sam would need help.  A lot of help.

Sam followed the limping sounds, catching sight of some lights off to the side.  "Will'o wisp down here?" he said, shaking his head.  He heard Xander speed up and caught up to him, pinning him against the wall.  "Xander, it's Sam," he said when he struggled.  "You know me, Xander.  Come on, I need to talk to the boy."  He smacked his head into the wall when he continued to struggle.  "Come on, Xander!"

Dean came up to help hold him, trapping him between them.  "Where does this lead?"

"I don't know," Sam admitted.  "Let's find out.  We'll find somewhere more defensible than the middle of a tunnel."  They kept going, finding Xander's lair.  He had made a nest out of the weapons and had pillows in the center of it.  They took off their shoes since they were dirty and nasty, getting Xander down into his nest.  Dean held him down while Sam started the exorcism.

"No!  We'll be lost!" the female voice shouted.  "No one will remember us!"

"We will," Dean said.  "Quit struggling!"  He slugged Xander on the chin, making him growl.  "Not good.  Sammy!"

"I'm trying."  He got the holy water open and the waterproof card he had made up with the exorcism chant.  Xander was still struggling so he helped by leaning on the boy's sore shoulder.  It had to be sore, it had a hole in it.  Xander yelped but kept trying.  Sam started on the Latin and Xander was still struggling.  Dean was nearly being thrown off his hips.  Sam pressed a communion wafer to his head, making him scream in pain.  A few wisps of spirit came out wailing.  "We'll remember," Sam assured her.  "We'll make a memorial or something!"  He got back into it, making Xander slowly calm down.  At least to the point of only growling and not struggling.  He was not a happy hyena by any means.  Then he lunged up to bite him but Dean smacked his head back down, hitting it on a weapon's case on the way.  Xander went limp.  Sam went back to doing the exorcism.  A few more wisps.  "How many do you have in there?" he demanded.

"Probably dozens," Dean said, checking his pulse.  "He's calm."

"If we stay, he'll keep sucking more in," Sam said, looking at him.

Dean considered it.  "Not if we can shield him."

"He had shields."

"He has guilt too," McGee said as he came in.  "I managed it."  He handed over more holy water.  "Thought you might be running low by now.  Dawn said he's a super sucker vacuum for spirits.  We have to make sure none stay."  He knelt over Xander's feet.  "Go ahead again, Sam.  She said it was going to take hours.  Also she slipped you something the last time she popped in that could help?"

Sam patted his pockets down, finding a pendant in one jacket pocket.  He held it up.  "Okay."  He put it on Xander's neck.  It was a small teddybear pendant with a green stone in the center.

"Kinda girly," Dean said.

"Dawn picked it out.  It's got to have some emotional tie," Sam told him.  He took a deep breath and went back to the exorcism ritual.  More and more wisps of spirit came out wailing.

"Figure out a good memorial," Dean said, looking back at Tim.

"Um, plaque with names?  Or a monument?"

"Both?" Dean suggested.  Another spirit came out and he frowned.  "I've seen his picture."

"He was one of the trio of geeks that Willow was after for killing Tara."  Sam got back into it.  Finally, Xander started to snore.  Sam went limp, collapsing next to him.  "I'm tired."

"Me too," Dean agreed.  He laid down on Xander's other side, mostly because Xander had managed to wiggle and trap his feet under his legs.  "Fine, I'll cuddle.  Tim?"

"I'll sit watch since I'm not tired."  That got a nod and they both cuddled in.  Tim looked around.  "He didn't have this much stuff in the car."

"I'm learning to never underestimate Xander's resourcefulness," Dean said.  He yawned and looked at the shoulder next to him.  "What's wrong with that one?" he asked Sam.



"No clue.  It's got a small bandage on it."  He shrugged and yawned, drifting off right there.  Dean did the same.

Tim watched over them, crossbow in hand, sword in the other.  A few spirits came in but were repelled by the necklace and the holy water that had been splashed around them.  He found some paper and doodled a few ideas for a memorial.  One of the ghosts came over to point at something so he made it bigger, getting a smile for it.  He grinned back and got back to work with their input.  It was a great design, even if he did say so himself.


Dean finished hiking the last of the weapons to the car.  They had found another exit hatch and used it instead.  He leaned against his car's side, looking at Tim.  "I'm all for a shower."

"There's no motel within sixty miles of here," he told him.  Dean whimpered.

Sam looked over. "Isn't there a mall in the next town?  We passed right by it and a Day's Inn."

"I checked the websites, they said there's not any."  He shrugged.  "I don't know."

"Fine, we go there, we make sure Xander will wake up since he hasn't yet, and then we make sure he's only got himself and whoever he had before Texas in there.  Then we'll come back and scrounge more stuff tomorrow," Dean decided.  That got a nod and Sam climbed out to drive Xander's car.  Dean checked on Xander, then shrugged and got in to drive the Impala.  There was indeed a Day's Inn in the next town.  It was run by a shaggy demon who gave Xander a horrified look as he backed off.  "We just brought him out of there.  We're on a prophecy thing.  He's not gonna bother you.  We're in letting the spirits go."

The demon rented them an efficiency at a reduced rate, that slept three, and let them figure out the rest.  He'd call his boss later to warn him.  Tim made a photocopy of something and handed it to him.  "What's this?"

"The spirits that were nagging Xander wanted a memorial.  They helped me design it."

The demon nodded.  The large tree in the middle of a circle of plaques of names that wold eventually grow into the tree.  "It's fitting.  It shows how life goes on after all the deaths."  He looked at him.  "I'll send it on."

"Thank you."

"Who are you?"

"Tim McGee.  NCIS."

The demon stared at him.  "The third warrior."  Tim nodded.  "Then some advice.  It's not safe for him to be this close.  No matter what helps protect him some of the spirits can still come. As he feels them they can come for him.  He must be gotten away from here."

"We're planning on it."  That got a nod and the demon let him go.  "I sent it to Cleveland."

"Thank you."  He watched him go, sending that to his boss as well.  He would be amused at this turn of events.  At least there wasn't a slayer nearby.  He saw a female appear and go running up the stairs, shaking his head.  A Watcher but not a slayer.

Dean opened the door at the pounding.  "Easy, Dawn."  She pushed past him.  "What?  We didn't do it enough?"

"No, you did.  Some of them can still get him."

"That's what the demon said," Tim told her.  Dawn smiled at him.  "Oh, memorial?"

"We like it.  Willow does especially."  She knelt beside Xander, doing something to his body with magic.  She was making him glow.  "He's awakened his powers, Dean."


"He's got the world's worst headache."

"So does Sammy."  He grinned.  "We miss any?"

"Yup.  He's still got ten, twelve more in there."  She smiled.  "One's Dru."

"Oh, no!" Sam said as he came out of the bathroom.  "I'm not letting him keep the insane vampiress in his head.  Tim, go get ...."  Dawn handed him something.  "What's this?"

"Xander tends to keep something of the spirits in him even when you banish them."

"Nanny Grimsley said some mediums were like train stations, some were like toilets, and Xander was like a backed up toilet," Dean said.

"Oooh, yeah," she said, nodding, grinning at him. "One that just sucked up part of the sewer into his head.  He was under a former graveyard."  They groaned.  "Then again, who knows what else he found."  She stood up with Sam's help.  "Thank you, dear."  She kissed him on the cheek, then Dean.  "That should summon the spirits out instead of just banishing most of them.  It should leave him cleaner."

"Okay," Dean agreed. "Did he ask for this?"

She looked at him then slowly shook her head.  "He never does.  They started out guilt tripping him and went on from there to the point where he was shouting at them to stop it.  Before he could leave one figured out they could take him over. Or they did it when the magic opened and he passed out.  Something like that."  She gave his arm a hug.  "I don't know, Dean.  All I know is that Xander's in a lot of pain.  They were blaming him for all that.  For staking the vamps.  For not getting everyone out of town, only most of them.  For not digging up the graves later on to bring the people with them.  We should go clean it out."

"That's a lot of bodies to salt and burn," he said gently.

She looked at him.  "Then we'll do a general dissipation.  There's a few for haunted areas.  A witch came up with it after Chernobyl."  He nodded, understanding why.  "Please?"

"Not a problem with us," Dean said with a grin.  "You're helping?"

"Of course!"  She swatted him on the arm.  "I'm not trusting Xander and magic yet, Dean.  He might turn Willow into a chihuahua or something.  Or worse, me; then you'd have to travel with me."  Sam laughed, giving her a hug.  "Sam, I love the view, but you're very tempting and I'm still a weak woman without a lot of impulse control."  He went to finish his shower.

"Want me to run around in just my briefs too?" Dean teased.

She pinched him on the tit.  "If you want.  I'll learn impulse control if you both do it.  Especially if it's you two and Xander."  She beamed at Tim.  "No offense but I'm going for bad boys this year."

"None taken, Dawn.  I'm too old for you."  She snorted and patted him on the head.  "What now?"

"Shower, sleep, repeat this tomorrow without Xander helping."  That got a nod and Tim took the second shower.  Dean looked down at her.  "You don't want to crawl between us, right?" he teased.

She leaned closer.  "While it's a wet fantasy, Dean, the reality might suck so I'll never go there."  He laughed, giving her a squeeze.  "Thanks.  Now if you offered both of you and Xander...."

"Uh-huh."  He smirked at her.  "Naughty.  You're turning into a slut.  What would your sister say?"

"There'd better be a ring or I'm being adopted by you?"

"Possibly," Sam said as he came out doing his hair.  "Dean, can you get more towels?"  He nodded, going to do that.  He looked at her.  "All three of us?  Greedy brat."

She beamed.  "Hey, you were good enough to spoil me."  He laughed at that, looking at the bed situation.  "He'll wander if someone's not with him."

"Crap."  Two double beds and a couch.  Dean came back with towels for himself.  "So, how are we doing this?  She thinks he'll get up if we're not there."

Dean shrugged.  "I've had to sleep with you in the past, Sammy.  I'll take Xander or you.  Tim might cuddle."

"Xander will cuddle," Dawn told him.  "Which will be so *cute*!  I'll have to scry."  She pinched him on the butt, making him yelp and rub the spot.  She gave him an innocent look.  "What?"

"I'm getting you back for that sometime."

"Just don't sic your father on me again.  The asshole called to nag me about not having kids for you two earlier."

Sam shook his head.  "Ignore him."

"I did.  I giggled and pointed out that me having children would mean we'd have to do some major magical intervention."

"Yup," Dean agreed.  "Especially since I'm snipped."  He went into the bathroom once Tim was done.  "I'm not holding him up in the shower."

Dawn snuggled into Xander's side, stroking his chest until he grunted.  "You need to take a shower.  You stink like demons were drooling on you again."  He grunted in displeasure.  "Let Dean get out and then go take a shower for me?"  He nodded, getting up to stumble in there.  He yawned as he walked into the water, making Dean yelp.  He gave him a confused look then shrugged and grabbed the shampoo from his hand.  "There you go, Dean," she called.  She disappeared to scry them in the shower.  It was incredibly hot.  Even if Xander was half asleep.

Dean looked up.  "Do not even think about it, Dawn Summers.  I will call your sister and tell her if you're scrying."

"Buffy would perv too.  She only likes dangerous guys," Xander said dryly.  He took over the shower's stream to finish up then got out and went back to bed once he was mostly dry.  Sam handed him some pajama pants and he grunted in thanks, sliding into them and then into the bed.

Tim patted the couch.  "I'll be here."

"Thanks," Sam said with a grin.  "It's bad enough when Dean cuddles."  He climbed into his own bed.  The lights went off and they could let Dean come out when he was ready.

Dean came out and looked at the sleeping arrangements.  He shook his head, sliding in next to Xander.  He got pounced.  "Need to breathe, Xander," he said quietly.  He poked him when he didn't move.  He got hurt sounding pouty noises.  "Xander, not a girl," he said bluntly.  Xander nibbled on his throat.  "Hey!"

Sam woke up.  "Huh?"

"Nibbling."  He shoved Xander off, getting more hurt pouty noises.  "Xander!"  He blinked at him, looking confused.  "I'm not a girl.  No trying to suck up to me for sex."

"But the stars say the pretty kitties will hiss at each other while they play," he told him.

Sam groaned, getting up to get the spell and the holy water so they could get back to unpossessing him.  There was no way they'd let him keep Dru in his head for any longer.  It'd drive them nuts.   Or in Xander's case even more nuts.


Dean woke up warm and cuddled the next morning.  "You creeped," he muttered.  He felt the warm nose burrow into his neck and blinked at the dark hair.  "You're nearly as shaggy as Sam is," he said.  Xander shh'd him.  "Sure."  He closed his eyes again and went back to sleep.  The next time he woke up it was at the insistent poke to his side.  He blinked at Tim.  "Huh?"

"Xander," he said, nodding at him.

Dean looked down at Xander, who was sucking on his arm.  He reached up to pet him instead of smacking him on the head.  He had learned not to suddenly wake Xander.  He got a purr.  He grinned.  "Nice hyena kitty," he said quietly.  "Don't draw blood."  Xander let go of his arm and shifted over to cuddle up to his right side, one leg thrown over his.  He looked at him.  "Are you going on the Dawn plan?" he asked quietly.  Xander barked.  "No, you're not a puppy to her will."  Tim left the cup of coffee and left the room so they'd have some privacy.  He looked around then flipped onto his side suddenly, cuddling Xander back.  Xander slowly woke up, giving him a confused look.  "You suck in your sleep."

"You're not Anya," he said, sounding miserable.  "She's going to kill me."

Dean shook his head.  "No she won't, Xander."

He nodded.  "She'll get her powers back and kill me."

"No she won't.  She's not going to get her powers back."  Xander gave him another confused look.  He stroked over his hair, seeing the small hiss when he hit the sore spot.  "Xander, what year is it?"


"Nope, it's 2007, Xander."  Xander shook his head slowly.  Dean nodded.  "It is.  You hunt with me and my brother Sam."

"No.  Buffy would get mad.  Xander's aren't allowed to hunt.  They trip and fall."

"You're better than Buffy ever thought.  Even if I do sound like a chick at the moment, you are."

Xander smiled.  "You think so?"

"I know so.  Now, why are you cuddling me?"

"You're warm.  Warm is nice."

"Did you sleep next to a bunch of cold things?"  Xander shuddered.  "Never mind."  He patted him.  "You have to get up and do your eye wash, Xander."

"Why?  Did it get hurt?"

"Yup, a while back."  Sam came in.  "He thinks he's a senior and Anya's going to get her powers back to kill him."

"Nope, won't happen."  He leaned down to kiss him on the head.  "It's all right, Xander.  You can rest here today while we go do some stuff with the ghosts of Sunnydale."

Xander sat up.  "Why would we?  Are they attacking?  Is that why he thinks it's really far in the future and we're all old?"

"Twenty-six isn't old," Dean told him.  "You're twenty-six too."  He patted him.  "Come on, go do your eye wash."

Sam looked at him.  "I don't think he knows how, Dean."  He helped Xander up, taking him into the bathroom, making him look in the mirror.  He saw the flinch at the scars.  "You earned those protecting others."

"Not all of them."

"Then the others you learned from."  He stroked his back.  "Look at your face, Xander.  Remember the time you're supposed to be in."

"Is this a spell?  Was it Ethan or Willow having an oops?"  He turned to look at Sam.  "She has those you know."

For some reason he wasn't sure if he was feeling sad or angry.  Or maybe both.  Sad at the lost look on Xander's face and angry at Willow for having 'oops' moments that made him let out that quiet pronouncement.  "I know."  He patted him again.  "It's not a spell."  He brought him out to turn on CNN.  They had the date in the corner.  Xander whimpered and sat down.  "It's all right.  It's probably where we had to pull half the ghosts of Sunnydale out of you last night."

He looked at him.  "The soldier?"

"Still in there," Dean promised.  "Go shower, Xander."  He nodded, going to do that.  He looked at him, shrugging a bit.  "What do I know?"

"I don't know either."  He texted Dawn, who sent back a solution.  "She thinks it's a head injury."

"I did have to struggle and he did hit his head," Dean admitted.

"Almost eight years worth?"

Tim walked back inside. "The owner is *very* nice.  He gave us a night for free since apparently we kept others up chanting to get the souls out of him."

"He thinks he's a senior in high school," Dean said.

"Huh.  Magical cure or ER?  Those are the only ones I know and I'm only learning about the first one now."

Xander came out to look at him.  "Do I know you?"

"You do know me.  I'm Tim.  You and Dean are training me to help you with a prophecy, Xander."

"Ooh, them."  He nodded, looking dejected.  "Okay."  He went back to his shower.  "Are we sure Anya can't come back and kill me?"

"You didn't do anything," Dean told him.

"That doesn't really matter to her.  She was going to kill me because I was looking at a catalog with fat women in bathing suits.  She's like that."

Dean got up and got dressed, taking Xander once he was out of the shower.  "Dress."  Xander got dressed for him.  He brought him down to the car, driving back to Sunnydale, watching his confused look get worse and worse because he recognized the sights around them.  He parked by the crater and got out, walking around to pull Xander out.  He made him face the crater.  "That's the high school and the hellmouth, Xander.  Anya was there fighting the battle."

"She left for graduation," he said quietly.  He looked at Dean.  "Are you a demon?"

He pointed at his arm and the bruise. "Look like demon blood?"  Xander slumped, shaking his head.  "I'm Dean.  The one with the hair was Sam.  The other guy was Tim."  Fred appeared with a vial.  "To help him?"

"Pulling them out that way made him suppress the bad memories.  There were a lot of bad memories," she said quietly.  Xander glared at her.  "Take it anyway, Xander."  He pouted but took the potion, too used to Willow to do anything but that.  He shuddered, had a small seizure that made Dean hold him down again.  Then he blinked at him after a few minutes.  "Do you remember him now?" Fred asked.

"Yeah.  What happened and why am I being held down?"

"You thought it was before the graduation battle," Dean said, getting off him and pulling him up.  He pointed.  "Remember that?"

"Unfortunately."  He flinched away from Fred.  "Shit, Fred!"

"Sorry, Xander.  They had to pull about half of Sunnydale out of you last night.  It made you regress."

"Aw, fuck.  Sorry, Dean."

"Not an issue.  Neither was you sucking on my arm in your sleep.  As long as it's not my throat, Xander."  He looked at him.  The kid looked wary.  "We're going to take care of the ghosts today.  Let them pass on."

"They blame us.  Me."

"They're not being reasonable, Xander.  You're not to blame."

"I could've put it on the radio."

"Xander, that's the government's job.  You can't do that too," Dean said firmly.  "You've got to let it go."

Xander looked at him.  "I could've done more."

"You were days out of the hospital!  You saved all that you could.  The others could've called their friends too, but they didn't."

"Sunnydale's not like that!" he said impatiently.  "Why would they break the silence of denial!"

"For a full-town evacuation?  Yeah, they would.  Even that town next to Paul's would."  Xander slumped but nodded.  "It wasn't your fault.  You told the people who could get everyone out.  They didn't do all their job.   You had to rest sometime.  You're still only human."

Xander looked at him.  "I could've taken the pain killers and kept going.  I didn't.  I took a nap instead."

"So!  You're *human*, Xander.  Not even demons can do that!" he said, his voice going up.  "This is as stupid as Sammy blaming himself for Jess dying!"

Xander leaned against the hood of the car.  "We'll have to agree to disagree on this point, Dean.  I could have done more.  I could have gotten it onto the radio or the tv.  I didn't."

"That wasn't your job."

"My job was to get people out of there.  In some cases I failed."

"Why didn't they leave when they saw their friends going?" Dean demanded.  "They could have."

Xander looked at him.  "You don't know how clueless Sunnydale was, Dean.  They could see it happen in front of them and wave at the demon killing their child.  I've seen people do that.  Then they invited them in for tea like they were the new neighbors so they died too!"  He stood up again.  "I could have done more.  Maybe that's why they keep picking me.  I have to atone for all them."

"Xander, there were only fifty humans in Sunnydale when it went," Fred said, coming closer.  "Thirty of them had refused, told you no about leaving the town.  You couldn't have gotten them on a bus at gun point.  The other twenty were at the college and thought they'd be safe enough that far away."  He looked at her.  "Beyond that, the demons don't blame you guys.  They left!  They hauled tail as soon as they knew what was going on.  Angel was *way* pissed about that but it had to happen.  You did the best you could.  You are a human being and that's all you can be.  No matter how much the girls depend on you to be multi-armed and multi-talented outside your fields, you're not!  You're not a God or a Power, Xander.  You did what you could.  We almost lost *you* that day too.  Spike gave up his life to make sure Dawn survived.  You blaming yourself makes that less than pleasant.  Even if we did get him back.  You did what you could.  You should've still been in the hospital.  Not at the battle.  Not helping the evacuation.  In the hospital.  You came out because Buffy needed you and you did just as much as she did with those girls.  Do *not* put yourself down again!"  She stomped a foot.  "I won't have it, Xander.  Do you hear me?"

"Yes, Fred," he said weakly.

"Then believe it!  Even if you can't now!  Do Dean and Sam need you be super human?"

"Yes," he said.

"No," Dean said, shaking his head.  "I'm not.  You're not.  I don't expect you to be anything other than human and able to pull your own weight, Xander.  You do that just fine."  Sam and Tim drove up in Tim's car.  "Sam, you don't expect Xander to know and do everything, right?"

"No.  I don't expect any of us to do more than humanly possible.  Even if Xander does bust his ass to do everything we don't know how to yet."  He shrugged.  "We're all learning new tricks."

"See," Dean demanded, pointing at him.  "He doesn't expect it of you either.  Giles and them have a very high set of expectations of you.  You run the place, train the girls, help around the place, and still have to have time to be yourself.  No, we don't expect that."  Xander looked at him.  "All right?  Can I quit being mushy now?  Before I get a rash or something?"  Xander nodded, giving him a hug.  "Thanks.  Get off."  Xander laughed, pulling back.  "Even better.  Tim, take him back to the hotel then come back.  We've got some work to do and I want Xander to rest today."  Xander frowned.  "We pulled over a hundred spirits out of you yesterday, including Druscilla.  Go rest."  Xander sighed but let himself be driven back.  He looked at Fred.  "It's not just us, right?" he asked once they were gone.

"No, everyone else expects him to be a mule's love child.  Usually it makes him live up to the stubborn reputation first."  She shrugged then looked around.  "Good luck with that.  No one's been doing spirits here for centuries."  She faded out.

"This is going to be a mess," Sam told his big brother.

"I know.  How do we burn them?"

"Fire spell?"

Dean looked at him.  "You can't do that."

"Xander can later.  We'll do what we can and then deal with it."  That got a nod.  "It'll make him feel better.  Hopefully.  He really blamed himself?"

"He was almost frantic in blaming himself for not getting more people out of here."

Sam sighed, shaking his head.  "No, he did what he could and more than I could.  More than you could."

"I'd still have been taking pain killers," Dean agreed.  "The only point he had was he could've put it onto the tv or radio, but that was the government's job, not his."  He looked out there.  It was still a depressing sight.  Evil had nearly won that time.  "Now what, college boy?"

"Now we do the one we got left, see how much it helps."  Tim came back.  "Hey."

"Hey.  I got the stuff from Xander's car for the magic stuff.  What will we need?"

Sam pulled out the spell to look at.  "Sage.  Rosemary.  Lots and lots of sage and rosemary since we have to ring the town or the area we want cleared."  Dean groaned, taking one of the large bags from the kit.  Tim took another one.  Sam took a third and they each started off.  Sam took the far side of town, out by the college.  Surprisingly enough, some of it was still standing, including the library.  He ran into a spirit out there, staring at her for a minute.  "Tara?" he asked quietly.  She smiled and nodded.  "Um...."

"Those who want to stay are at the college, Sam."  She floated closer. "You kick my girl in the hind end for me?  Please?" she asked, staring at him.

"For what?"

"Being a boob.  She'll understand."  She smiled at him. "Then cuddle my Xander-shaped friend.  He could use more cuddles.  No one's cuddled him since Anya got left."  She floated backward.  "Put it at the edge of the green area, Sam.  Please?"  He nodded, going to spread it there.  She went to help Dean, smiling at him.  "Hi."

He flinched, staring at her.  "Do I know you?"

"I'm Tara, Dean."

"Hi."  He grinned.  "You didn't get to go on?"

"Nope.  Not yet.  It's not time yet."  She smiled gently.  "Those of us who want to stay are at the college.  All but Joyce.  I can't find Joyce."  She pointed.  "She's somewhere down there.  She's sulking."

"If I run into her I'll let her know."  She nodded and beamed.  "No messages to pass on?"

"I gave it to the cute one."  She beamed at him, making him grin back.  "Though could I ask you to cuddle the Xander too?  He needs them.  He hasn't had any since he left Anya."

He nodded.  "I did last night."

She beamed.  "Thank you, Dean."  She floated closer, planting a kiss on his forehead.  Then she floated back to stare into his eyes.  "Xander knows there's a way around making you deal with him.  He can do that now.  One of the spirits had an idea."  She beamed and floated off again.

Dean shook his head.  "Good.  I like that."  He looked around.  "Joyce, if you can hear me, Tara needs you near the college to keep you safe," he called.  A few more spirits manifested.  "Joyce, we're keeping Xander safe for you.  Please go see Tara at the college?  Don't make Dawn worry more, okay?"

A spirit faded in across the street from him.  "I would go see them but I don't want to complain about her leading you boys on that way."

He grinned.  "It's all fun with us, Joyce.  We're not expecting her to propose.  We might run if she did."

She smiled.  "That's fine.  A young woman's job is to have fun and make her life secure."  She floated closer.  "What are you doing?"

"Letting the spirits move on," he said quietly.  "Tara's gathered some of you at the college and wants you there."

She nodded.  "I should.  Thank you, son-in-law."  He gave her a horrified look.  "Well, I did all but adopt Xander."  She floated off, heading up to the college.

"I'm getting nearly as many votes for the 'Dean does Xander' club as I am for the 'Dean does Sam' club."  He went back to spreading the herb mix at the prescribed distance apart.  He finally met up with Sam's part and they went to make sure Tim's met up with his.  "We're good," he announced.  "Let's do this."

Sam read the spell calmly, keeping in mind the feeling that the spirits should move on and find an afterlife.  They felt the flash and Dawn came over to read it with him.  They finished the third verse together then Dean lit the herbs on fire.  Whatever had been sprinkled on them made it keep going around the extra-large circle.  They watched as it came back and they did the last verse together, watching as the spirits floated off into the late afternoon sunlight.  "It's pretty," Sam said finally.

"They're at peace now," Tim agreed.

"They're not haunting Xander and we won't have to pull them out of him," Dawn said.

"Your mother's up at the college; she said it's not fair that you're leading us on," Dean told her.  She groaned.  "I told her it was all fun. She said I should have Xander instead.  Her and Tara both."

"Oh, yeah, Tara said to tell Willow she's being a boob, she'll know why.  Said to kick her butt."

"I can do that," Dawn said, looking around.  "We do realize there's still a lot of demons here, right?"  All three men nodded.  "Come back tomorrow?"

"It's underground, will it matter?" Dean asked.

"Yeah, because some of the tunnels are going to collapse."  She grinned.  "Especially around the mayor's emergency vault."  She winked and disappeared, leaving that hole open.

They walked over to look, whistling at what was in there.  "Well," Dean said.  "We should move that stuff."

Sam nodded, looking at the pile of precious metal bars and cash.  "We should."

"Xander did pray to the Powers that they pay for the trip," McGee said dryly.

The brothers laughed and went to handle that.  Some of it they'd put toward the Sunnydale monument but the rest was theirs to fund the good fight.


Dean walked into the room last, watching Xander nap.  "He still going?"

"He went out at least once.  Dominos was here," Sam said, handing him a paper plate.  That got a grin and they sat around to watch tv.  They relaxed, Dean letting Xander cuddle his side for now.  Sam grinned.  "Tara asked you too?"

Dean nodded.  "Yup.  Apparently you don't give good enough ones."

"I do so!"

"She said she asked you first, Sammy."

"It's Sam, Deannie."

He smirked.  "Only Dawn gets to call me that.  Unless you want to go on your back?  Everyone already thinks I've got  you and Xander as my harem."

Xander blinked up at him.  "Did you hurt your head or suck in spirits?"

"No.  Not today."  He grinned.  "Pizza?"

"I ordered in my sleep?"

"Apparently."  He ate a bite.  "Want to get some?"

"No.  I'll have any leftovers for breakfast.  Why am I cuddling?"

Tara's ghost said you needed to," Sam told him.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "Joyce's too apparently."

"Um, we're pretty sure Tara moved on, Sam.  We saw the halo and everything."  Dean moaned.  "But okay, if she came back to say I need cuddles, I'll trust that."  He snuggled in again, letting Dean keep eating around him.  He glared at Tim for grinning.   "I haven't had a girlfriend since I dumped Anya."

"Did she curse you to need drugs?" Sam teased.

"She must've been part succubus," Xander complained.  "The woman wanted ten or more orgasms a day and that's how she talked about it.  I was sore!"

"So that's why you go down on women," Dean said.  Tim choked.  "Oh, get over it.  It's stress relief and fun for us."  He looked down at Xander, who nodded.  "Did she rub you raw?" he teased.

"Every time.  She hated condoms and she wasn't that lubey.  Had to get the wifey lube as Leno put it."  He put his head back down.  "Anything else happen?"

"We found the mayor's emergency stash," Sam said.

"It's leprechaun gold."

"Dawn said it was changed," Dean said.  "We can check tomorrow.  What about the cash?"

"Not a clue."  He snuggled in better. "You make a good teddy bear, Dean."

"I'll take that compliment.  I'll even let you tell the next girl I flirt with that so I can tell her you've been tragically hurt and I had to cuddle you to make you feel better.  It'll make me seem more sensitive and I'll get more girls."  Xander snickered and nodded.  "I will."

"You're one of a kind, Dean," Sam said, shaking his head.

"And I'm staying that way unless you clone me for your future kids."

"Who said I'm having kids?"

"Someone's got to carry on the family name," Dean complained.

Xander looked at him.  "If you say that around Willow, she'll make one of you pregnant," he offered.  "She's threatened to do that to me in the past.  That was her idea on how to get me to never date, that way I wouldn't need to, I'd already have my family."

"If you do that while you're with us, we'll beat you," Tim told him.

"I'd beat me.  I don't want kids," Xander said.

"Turn gay, Xander," Tim said dryly, smirking at him.

"Even then I might be tempted to adopt and warp them.  Then we'd have little Xanders going around wanting to blow things up and stake vampires."

"Or be Batman," Sam teased.

"I am Batman.  I just don't have the suit here."  Xander grinned at him.  "Wanna see the belt?"

"No thanks.  You might use it as a cheesy pick up line," Dean told him.  "Picking him up means being mushy like a girl since he is."

"I am not!" Sam defended.  "You're the one who wants me to talk about things!"

Dawn appeared, taking a slice of pizza.  "Don't make me dose the pizza with something like rophy's.  I'll have a lot of fun but you guys will be totally embarrassed in the morning."

"It doesn't work right on me either," Xander said.  "It makes me nap.  Sorry, you'd have to use E."

Dawn gaped.  "How do we know this?"

"No.  Comment."

"Ah, one of those dating things where you picked up the women who wants to kill people.  Good to know."  She disappeared again.

"They don't have Dominos in Cleveland?" Sam asked.

"I'm thinking she's surrounded by the Stuffy Patrol," Xander said, looking back at him.  "You really talked to Tara?"  He nodded.  "Anyone else?"

"Joyce thought Dean was bending you over too," Sam told him.

"Apparently I'm a universal stud," Dean said smugly.

"Don't start," Sam warned.  "Or else we can ask Dawn to compare."

"Moot point, guys.  Not totally gay," Xander pointed out.  "Besides the last hunter I crushed on went bad.  The one before then was Buffy.  There's no telling what would happen to you two."

"You really tapped Faith?" Dean asked.

"And got choked for it.  She climbed on top.  She was my first.  It was over with *really* fast then she kicked me out to go handle the zombie thing.  It's a good thing I got laid before we nearly died."

Sam gaped at him.  "That's just wrong, Xander."

Xander looked at him.  "I have a simple set of desires, Sam.  We came damn close to dying that night and it was good I didn't die a virgin.  With my luck I would've been sent back as a guardian angel or something."

Dean gave him an odd look.  "Not with what you used to do."

"Save people?  Yeah, I could've.  A priest told me that.  He was in the business too."  He grinned.  "Now they have to ask, they can't just assign me."

Dean shook his head.  "We need to sleep around more.  Especially you, Sammy.  You know they say you can be considered a virgin again if it's been seven years."

"It's only been four months since I had any," Sam shot back.

"Maybe if he does die Xander will get that Fred girl's job," McGee offered.

Xander shook his head.  "The Powers hate me, Tim.  I messed up things by being born.  That's why they send me on these sort of things.  Some other power may name me to the position to annoy them.  Then Fred and I can play poker for eternity."

Fred appeared, giving him a look.  "We'd get in trouble for the strip poker games, Xander."  Tim gaped but Dean and Sam both giggled.  "If you do die during this thing, you're either going to be a helpful spirit to another hunter, or they're going to make sure you have a son and you can guard him and then teach him how to hunt when he's old enough."

"Um, Fred, no working seed thanks to Anya."

"These are the Powers, Xander."

"Spell, Fred.  Spell."  She grimaced and looked up then moaned.  He grinned at her.  "Anya asked Willow for a birth control spell.  They decided it'd be easier to do on me.  Hasn't worn out yet.  I still shoot like a guy who's been snipped.  Since they did it before the prom...."

Fred gave him a horrified look.  "You let them!"

"Who said I *let* them?" he countered dryly, giving her a look.  "Anya went to Willow.  Not me.  I was perfectly happy having her on the pill.  Oh, might want to warn Oz she did it to him too.  If his ever works we can gauge it by how much faster the werewolf healing made it come back."

She left with a whimper, going to scream at Willow for the Powers.

Dawn appeared a few minutes later.  "Whatever you did to piss off Fred, Giles said stop it," she ordered, glaring at Xander.  "Fred just told Willow she's got to have a child and let you raise it."

"I don't want kids.  Which is pretty good since Willow made me infertile at Anya's command."

"Excuse me?" she asked.

Xander sat up, beaming at her.  "Anya went to Willow because she decided the pill and the patch were both too inconvenient for her new life.  She had her do a birth control spell. They decided doing my balls was for the best.  It'd take effect before the prom.  I still don't make sperm."

She shrieked and left, going to scream at Willow herself.  And Giles for not stopping Willow and Anya.

"How much energy does that popping around take?" Sam asked.

Xander looked at him.  "A lot but Dawn's energy comes from a higher power -  snarking at her sister."  He laid back down, looking at Dean.  "Can I still cuddle/"

"I don't care as long as no one tries to make me have kids."  Xander snuggled back in.  Willow showed up and opened her mouth.  He pulled a knife.  "How dare you injure him that way without his consent," he snarled.  She 'eeped' and disappeared.  "Hey, not blocking the tv anymore," Dean said, putting the knife back under the pillow.

Sam chuckled.  "That's mean, Dean."

"Yay me.  She didn't ask his permission."

Xander looked up at him.  "When has she?"

Dean looked down.  "That makes her a bad witch."

"I know.  But handy.  Gotta give her the handy points."

"Doesn't make her any more good.  Tara was a good girl from what we heard."

"Tara was so sweet and innocent," he sighed.  "She was a good girl.  She stuttered because she was nervous around people, but she got onto Willow all the time about that stuff.  She's the one who made her give up magic when she was addicted."

"Sounds like we would've liked her," Sam said happily.  "Maybe she'll come back more often since we didn't release her."  Xander gave him a hug then laid back down.  "Thanks, Xander.  You hug nice."

"Sorry, I'm in a mushy mood.  It happens after I get possessed."

Tim looked at him.  "Then you're in mush overdrive because it took them six hours to pull all the spirits out of you this time?"

"Six hours?"

"The last three were summoning them instead of banishing them," Dean agreed, still staring at the tv.  "Dawn suggested it would mean less little pieces of them left behind."

"Shields, Xander?" Sam asked.

"I've been working on them for years," he defended.

"Did Willow teach you that?"

Xander sat up to look at Dean.  "Why would she or Giles teach me shielding after I'd been possessed twice?"

Sam made outraged, squeaky noises.  "They didn't?"

Xander shook his head.  "No.  I found the book on shielding and asked if I could borrow it.  Giles said it might be a good idea, yes, then went back to the problem he was researching.  We didn't have a whole lot of time for fun research."

"Yet, Buffy got to date Angel?" Dean asked.  "Did they expect you to be God then too?"

"No, they expected me to go away," Xander admitted.  "I was the normal guy.  Could be viewpoint bias, Willow said so, but that's what I got."

Dean sighed, shaking his head.  "Stakes, definitely burning at the stake."

"That's how Amy became a rat.  Fortunately Willow undid it for her eventually so Amy could lead her to her magic dealer."

Sam leaned forward, holding his head.  "Sunnydale was so screwed up," he said into his hands.

"Ya think?" Xander asked.  "It was the hellmouth.  Of course it was."

Dean pulled him back down.  "I helped raise Sam and cuddling him made him emo, but almost normal.  I can do the same for you, Xander."

"That would play into Dawn's fantasies," he said dryly, looking up at him.

"Not like I mind being the cause for wet dreams," he teased back.

"Can't you turn into an incubus doing that?" Tim asked.  "That was in one of the books.  You cause so many wet dreams and you slowly turn into an incubus?"

All three of the hunters stared at him then shook their heads.

"No, then I'd already be one from all the slayers having them," Xander said dryly.  Dean smacked him on the head.  "OW!  What did you do while I was possessed?"

Dean smirked.  "I'd tell you but the tape might get out and then we'd be in trouble from Dad."

Xander shrugged.  "As long as it's not a permanent injury, it doesn't end up on the internet, and I know sometime," he decided, laying back down.

Sam looked at him.  "Dude, you know we'd never do that."

Xander grinned at him.  "Which is why I trust you guys not to put it on the 'net."

"How many times did Anya do that?" Dean asked while he watched tv.

"Ten, twelve.  Something like that.  I only remember four."  He shrugged.  "She was a bit cranked.  Demons are more kinky apparently."

"That's something I'd assume too," Tim admitted.

"They are," Sam said.  "It's still wrong and she was a former demon at the time."

"I always thought you could only get more kinky, not less," Xander said.  "So I ignore her when she does things like that.  I just took back the credit cards."

Dean shook his head.  "That's my definition of a screwed up, non-violent, relationship.  I've finally found it."

"I wasn't like that with Jess," Sam told him.  "If she had done something like that I'd have dumped her, gotten a restraining order, and made her life a living hell with her friends until she had to leave the town and possibly the state."

"She wasn't a former demon.  Anya wasn't really up to date on human things.  Hell, I had to show her what indoor plumbing was a few times.  She forgot.  And hey, bunny phobia."

Sam shook his head.  "It's a good thing she's dead.  Otherwise we'd be yelling for you, Xander."  By the look on Dean's face he'd be beating the crap out of her, girl or not, for it.  Sam would help or cheer him on, whichever was needed.

Xander shrugged.  "It was enough for me.  I came within minutes of marrying her."

"Let us pick you up women from now on, Xander.  It might help that serial killer draw you have too."

"Okay.  I accept hookups.  Gunn did once.  She was really nice and sweet.  Their gang's gear person.  We talked guns all night, even in bed.  I felt like a Tackleberry.  Damn I miss that woman."

"Gone?" Sam asked.

"Eeeh, no.  She's a vamp now.  She called about six months ago.  She's the one I slept with to get the fixing spells on the car."

Dean shook his head quickly.  "She was deadly so she fit your type, but she was a vampire, Xander."

Xander looked at him.  "Buffy did too.  Angel and Spike.  Willow may've slept with the vamp her before we got her back to her own time when she showed up in town."

"Vamp her?" Tim asked.  "I saw her in sunlight."

"Cordelia got mad at me for calling her by Buffy's name," Xander told him.  "She made a wish to Anya that Buffy had never come to town.  Which meant the Harvest was never stopped.  I made one scary damn vampire.  I was torturing Angel night and day and having fun.  I turned Willow.  She was scary and gay.  It was almost like a preview of her college years.  She went gay, got scary....."  Dean patted him on the head.  "Tara joked about that when she heard about it.  She wore a leather catsuit and everything.  The vamp me had on leather pants and the overshirt, wifebeater look.  Then we stepped on Anya's power center, making her human, so I got a prom date and lessons in torturing men."

Dean looked at him.  "Shut up, Xander."  Xander nodded, going back to watching tv.  He and Sam shared a look.   Xander was not going back to Cleveland if they could help it.  He looked down at him.  "You never did your eye wash this morning."

"Oops.  Thought it felt scungy."  He got up and took out his glass eye on the way into the bathroom.

Tim was green by then.  "Eww."

"Very but it happens when dirty fingernails are applied to it," Xander called from in there.  "It took me six months to be able to remove it."

Sam shuddered.  "I'll fall back to researching if I ever get that injured."

"Yes, you will," Dean agreed.  "So will I.  Dad can bitch."  He turned up the sound a bit since there was a news special from LA.  Xander came back to the door.  "Is that our thing?"

"No, that's Connor's thing.  See, there he is.  John's behind him.  Gunn too."  He went back to washing out his eye.  "They've got it handled, guys.  Call to see if they need long distance backup or something?"

"Yeah," he said, calling his father.  "Need us?  We're still by Sunnydale.  It's on the news, Dad, and so are you."  He nodded and hung up.  "Dad said to stay here and monitor it.  The military's stepping in."

"I thought we ended them," Xander said thoughtfully.  He came back out, frowning at the screen.

"Xander, eye?" Tim asked.

Xander looked at him.  "Get used to it, Tim."  He went back to watching.  "Ah, it is Riley and his band of torturing freaks."  He went back to get it out of the solution, drying it off before sliding it back into the spot.  He adjusted it so it was straight then came back out.  "Better?"

"Much.  Thank you."  He went back to watching it.  "Who's Riley?"

"Buffy's ex, one of the Initiative team leaders.  They tried to recruit her and had Spike seed chaos between us."

Sam gave him a look.  "They were military?"

"Yeah, they wanted demons to do the work of the military.  They were making a super warrior too.  We called on the first slayer to get rid of him." He sat on the same bed Dean was on again, watching.  "They've got it."  He looked up.  "Fred, take the maroon case from the undercarriage compartment and take it to Gunn?" he called.  "Only that one."

"The maroon long case or the short one?" she asked as she appeared.

"Long one."

She nodded, disappearing.  It summoned easily enough.  It was still in there.  She brought it to LA, handing it to Gunn.  "From Xander's car."

He got down to open it.  "YES!  John, weapons!" he called.  He came running back with one of Riley's guys.  He glared at him.  "Back off, Junior."  He let John take it and get into position to blow the demon up.  The specially prepared head of the small rocket impacted and fractured, spreading the sulphur, holy water, and flame solution on the demon.  It screamed and beat at itself to try to put it out.  The fire slowly ate through its chest until there was a giant hole then it fell down with a ground-shaking thump.  Gunn grinned.  "I love Xander."

"I can definitely appreciate the boy," John said, putting the launcher back in the case.  Fred took it away.

Connor came jogging back.  "Where did we get that?"

"Xander sent it with Fred," Gunn told him.

Connor beamed.  "I love Xander.  If Willow hadn't made him sterile back in high school for Anya, I'd offer to bear babies for the guy."

Gunn coughed.  "Maybe you should have a talk with someone since you're a guy and can't do that?" he suggested.  John gave him a look.  "He was stolen and raised by a zealot on a demon plane, John.  He doesn't know what to do with a girl but grunt, point, and let her do it."

"Faith tried," he offered. "I didn't understand."  He shrugged and walked off.  "We've got to clean that sucker up."

"If the military wants it, let them have it," John said.  "They can dispose of it somewhere."

The guys from Riley's unit moved in to lock down the area, sending the press off, and did indeed confiscate the demon's body.  The report later to Riley himself was a bit amusing.

"How did the weapon get here?"  John gave him a dirty look.  "If you'd had it earlier you would've used it before we got here."

"Fred's the new messenger for the Powers, like Cordy was," Gunn said.  "Xander sent it through her."

"Where did Xander get it?" Riley's second asked.

"Out of his ass?" Connor suggested.  "No one knows where Xander gets *anything*.  Did you guys back in Sunnydale?  Or figure out where he was storing his weapons?"

Riley shook his head.  "No.  Then again, Harris freaked us out many times."  He walked off shaking his head.  "Harris got the weapon," he announced.  They all groaned but shrugged.  That was a dead end.  Xander never talked and would only annoy them if they pulled him in to talk to him again.  Last time he had nearly caused a stroke.

John looked at Gunn.  "They knew Xander?"

"Riley, the guy who was in charge, used to date Buffy."  He gave him a look.  "He was probably annoyed by Xander many times."

Riley looked back at him.  "You have no idea.  We even tried to separate the group to get her.  Harris is like a fierce dog about what's his.  You can kick him and it'll only make him meaner when you come back.  The guy's obviously cursed."  He lead his team off again.

"No silver bullet?" John yelled.

"We have a whole case," Connor reminded him.

John looked at him.  "We'll get you into the Lone Ranger too, Connor."  He walked him off.  "Come on, we're going to have a guy talk before you blurt out something like you want to have a guy's babies again."

"You're going to tell me what to do with a girl?"

"Yes, I am.  I had to tell Dean and Sam, I can tell you."  He was mentally shaking his head.  The kid needed adopted.  His parents were gone.  They had been vampires so he clearly needed the help.  Behind him he could hear Gunn trying not to giggle but oh well.  He grinned at him.  "It'll be like I adopted you, kid.  You even do PT without complaining.  Much better than Sammy ever did."  Connor smiled at that praise.  He had high standards for his sons.  Being that good was good for him.

Gunn waited until they were far, far away to burst out cackling.  He texted the message to Sam and Dean.  They had to know they had a new brother.


Sam looked at the phone.  "Dad adopted Connor.  He's having the talk with him.  Connor said he'd bear Xander's babies."

"Still sterile," Xander said absently.

Dean snatched the phone and texted something back.  Then he smirked and put the phone away.  "That's fine.  Connor's not a bad kid.  We can use a little brother to pick on."

"Yeah, I'll finally get payback," Sam said happily.

Tim looked over from his typing.  "Set Xander up before you set Connor up.  That way there's a girl who appreciates Xander."  He went back to his next novel.  He was getting a lot of fodder for it.

"Succuba are better.  Much easier and don't require presents," Xander said.

"Presents?" Dean asked.

"It is common to give your girlfriend presents and do mushy things now and then.  It makes girls happy," Sam told him.  "Dinners out, flowers, stuffed animals, those sort of things."

"Every payday," Xander agreed.  "Dating guys is cheaper.  Hot wings and a pay-per-view wrestling match is always cheaper."

"Every payday?" Sam asked.

"Anya said so.  She was reading Cosmo.  Buffy and Willow agreed.  Tara said her expectations were too high since she didn't get it that often."  He shrugged. "Cosmo knows all.  Still cheaper to date a guy or succubuses."

"Anya wasn't a ho, right?" Dean asked.  Xander stared up at him.  "She wanted constant payments and sex, Xander.  What else could she be?"

"A rich guy's mistress?"  He shrugged.  "She wasn't used to being human.  She let Cosmo and Buffy tell her how to be a girl."

"I'm never dating Buffy," Dean said, putting his head back down.  He pulled out his phone and texted Dawn, who backed up that story.  He shook his head, putting the phone away.

"No fair pissing Dawn off.  She's got PMS this week," Xander told him.  "You'll get us yelled at by Giles and Buffy."

"You kept a calendar?" Sam asked.  He was nearly ready to laugh.

"Wouldn't you?  Or didn't you?"

"Jess only cried during hers.  It got me cuddles."  He shrugged.

"Calendar?" Dean asked.

"Of their cycles, Dean."

He shuddered.  "It was probably self defense in Xander's case."  Xander nodded.  "See?"

Xander answered his phone.  "He's sorry he asked Dawn if Anya was a ho, Giles.  No, he didn't understand Anya."

"We're fixing you up with real women," Dean told him.

"Dean and Sam swear they're fixing me up with real women, Giles."  He handed over the phone.  "Yours."

Dean took it.  "What?  You're interrupting CSI."  He listened, blinking a few times at the polite ass chewing he was getting.  "Giles, you let him date that?"  Giles spluttered  "Stick up for the boy!  My dad would've beaten her then me if I had brought home someone like that."  He smirked at the assurance he didn't understand.  "I'm sure I do.  So what if she wasn't human for eleven hundred years or so?  Not like that was acceptable girl behavior back then either."  He moaned.  "And to let the girls egg her on...."  He smirked.  "Exactly.  So we'll be setting Xander up with *real* women."  He laughed at the assurance he couldn't.  "Why not?  No, his next one won't end the world if we set him up.  We only go for *normal* chicks, Giles.  Unless you want Dawn to date all three of us together?  She did suggest that."  He hung on him yelling for Dawn.  "There.  A bit of yelling is good for a guy.  Gets his blood moving again."  He handed Xander back his phone once it was off.

"Wouldn't one of you have to be a girl as well?" Tim asked.  "Since you and Sam both claim you're straight?"

"Don't tempt Willow," Xander said, looking perfectly serious.  Tim giggled. "Not joking."

"He's not," Sam said.  "She threatened to at the wedding but Buffy walked her off snapping about ruining Mara's show by changing the guy walking her down the aisle.  They wouldn't have time to get Xander a suitable dress if she did it then.  So she had to wait until after the prophecy stuff was done.  Otherwise they'd need her or Faith to take his place with the special sword and neither one looked that hot with them."

Tim gave him a horrified look.  "Xander, don't go back to Cleveland.  Let Gibbs head smack them into better behavior first.  Please?  He'll be starting with them next month."

Xander looked at him.  "They're not that shallow."

"He managed to make me less of a geek and make Tony quit playing.  He can make them behave and straighten Willow out."  He went back to his typing, sending an email to Gibbs and Abby about that.  Someone needed to turn Willow over their knee and paddle her ass until their arm was sore.  Then hand her off to someone else to start over again.  Gibbs and Tony were good at that, they worked very well together.

Xander shook his head.  They were nice guys but they'd never understand the Sunnydale crew.  They were too uptight.


It wasn't too much longer before they found themselves back in Texas to handle the next problem.  Xander walked up onto the porch and pounded.  "Howdy."

"You're cutting it too close, boy."

"Sorry!  The Feds hated us in Kansas!" he defended, walking inside.  "They're behind me.  We had to call in help.  The director for the third guy is still trying to stop us."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "I know it's in three days, Nanny Grimsley.   Can we still use the barn?"

"Go ahead," she sighed, swatting him on the arm.  He hissed and winced.  "What happened?"

"The Fed who decided we were lying about our real names thanks to her having removed us from most of the systems worldwide got a bit rough.  He wrenched my shoulder."  He rubbed it.  "I'll be fine."  He frowned as Tim pulled in, leaning out the door.  "Where's the bobsy twins?" he called.

"Behind me getting gas.  They were on fumes.  Plus you some soda, Xander."  He came up the stairs.  "Ma'am.  Tim McGee."

She looked at him.  "Not what we expected."  She patted him on the cheek.  "At least you're a polite boy."

"Yes, ma'am, Dean said you'd eat my liver without the beans and then make me a zombie if I wasn't."

She laughed.  "Making zombies is too hard for most normal annoyances, boy."  She smirked at Xander. "You?"

"Dean."  He smirked.  "They even removed most of the spirits from Sunnydale."  She stared at him. "I went back to make amends and things.  I ended up very possessed."

"Six hours of pulling spirits out of him," Tim agreed.  She shuddered.  "Anyway, motel, Xander?"

"Barn," he said, pointing.  Tim nodded, going to hike his bag back there.  "He's doing okay."  He smirked at her.  "She really had a hacker take us out of most of the federal systems so she could stop us."

"She a demon?"

"Half succubus.  I'm making a side trip on the way to Connecticut for the next one to banish her ass."  He went to grab his bag and hiked out back.  He waved when he heard the Impala, letting the boys park and follow them around.  "Word of advice, McGee, put some loose hay on top of a bale.  Sam's back hurt the last time he didn't."  The boys hiked in.  "Okay, we've got three days.  We know the demon is hitting the grove.  Then I'm hitting DC to banish the bitch, then we'll hit Connecticut."

"Can we?" Dean asked.  "By the way, who was the guy that showed up?"

Xander smirked.  "Former Watcher's Council.  He loathed us and Giles.  Buffy should've been his slayer but Travers decided to get Giles killed for being too smart."  He chuckled a little evilly.  "He hates Giles.  He hates me because of how I warped the old order.  We have a mutual dislike but respect pact.  He showed up on behalf of the Council since he's their guy locally.  He spilled just enough so they knew the director chick was in serious pain of problems.  Oh, and get this, I found out the Council used to go take demons from the White House.  We haven't been since the First Evil stuff."  Sam whimpered, giving him a horrified look.  "The President is not happy with the imps and the VP being possessed.  He's going to be even less happy when it doesn't get solved because he had us attacked by acting through her."  He gave them his best mean kitty smirk.  "So we'll see how DC ends up on a side trip."

"I need to check in with Gibbs and Tony too; Tony said so when he showed up to get us out of there," McGee said.  "I'll point out the director to you then leave.  I can't act against my own director, I'll end up in jail," he explained at the giggling.  "Even Gibbs said so."

"It'll be fine," Xander promised.  He looked at Dean.  "How do we want to play this one?"

"Tim guards you, you do the spell, I kill anything else, Sam helps with that."

"Works for me."  He got out of their way so they could come up into the hayloft.  "Did you change your plates?"

"Yeah," Dean admitted, nodding.  "Waste of the old ones."

Xander leaned closer.  "I've got a contact, Dean."  Dean stared at him.  He shrugged.  "I make strange friends.  After all, you're strange and a friend."  Dean smacked at him but he ducked and laughed.  Sam handed him a soda.  "Love you, Sam."

"Then next time you curl up watching tv, you curl up on him," Dean told him.  "We have everything for the spell, right?"

"Yeah, no herbs needed," Xander promised.  He waved the paper he pulled from his pocket.  "See?"  He put it back and they settled in to check their swords and guns.  This was not going to be an easy fight.  Xander was scared and so was Dean but they knew what they had to do.


Xander cast the spell, watching it go out to pulverize the demon, going through Dean's sword.  "That was not supposed to happen," he called.  "I know I didn't goof."

"I don't care!" Dean shouted, stabbing the demon with the loaded blade.  It squealed and puddled down to goo.  The other demons started to run but McGee and Sam mopped them up from behind while Xander and Dean got the front edges.  They met over the last few.  Dean looked over.  "What happened!" he shouted.

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know!" he shouted back.  "I read it off the paper!"  He threw up his hands.  "How do I know why magic still goes screwy around me!"

"Whatever," Tim said calmly.  "For now, let's clean up the mess!"  They nodded, pulling things together to burn the demons' bodies.  Sam lit it on fire and it was cheery, kind of.

Xander stiffened and turned around, looking at the spirit that floated out.  "Lady Gretchen."

"Xander.  You threatened and attacked a being of the grove?" she asked calmly.

"No," he said slowly, pointing at the demons.  "Only them."

"One of them had eaten of the unicorn, Xander.  You attacked one of us."

"If they ate the little thing that's not our fault and it was dead," Dean complained.  "It's not his fault it was eaten.  No one told us it had been eaten."

"You wanted us to leave the demon living?" Xander asked.

She grimaced.  "You know we didn't, Xander.  The grove must not fall but it also must not be attacked, even by those such as you."

"What did you want me to do then!" he shouted.

"Spirits aren't often reasonable," Sam said calmly.  "Lady Gretchen, he had no choice if the grove was to be saved.  We're sorry the demon ate the unicorn, but we had to destroy the demon, even with it in there.  Or else the grove wouldn't be protected and we'd still be at fault.  Like back in the Greek myths."

She nodded.  "While that may be true, Xander did know of the proscription against hurting those of the grove.  We will have to punish him for that."

"Bring it on," Xander said coolly, staring at her.  "I'm not scared of the grove."  He stepped closer.  "I have never been scared of the grove.  No matter how many times I get called in there to do things for you, even though you injure me each time."

"The price paid for innocence is the blood of those who are not."

"I know I'm not.  Next time, get someone else to protect you."

"You will have to take his place, Xander."

"No, I don't.  I'll come running if the grove needs protected, but I am not leaving part of me here to protect it.  I'm not that sort of witch."  He walked off, casting a protection charm at the same time.  His magic skills were coming along very well recently.  Since Sunnydale had blasted him open.

Dean stopped him, staring at the ghost.  "He still has to do what else the prophecy demands, Lady Gretchen.  He can't stay to help you guard them.  If you need more guards, call up witches, not him.  He's busy this year."

She stared at him.  "You brave much for your family, Dean."

"Yeah, and?  I don't find that a fault."

"Would you take his place?"

He held up the sword.  "Kinda can't this year.  Ask next year.  By then we may all be dead.  Or, better yet, get one of the other witches to have a daughter since it's under female protection."  She glared at him.  "He's not."

"He should take the one he harm's place."

"He didn't hurt him, the demon ate him!" Dean shouted back.

"Dean, calm down.  You're arguing with a ghost," Xander said calmly.  He looked at her.  "Even if you should try that, by drawing me in that way you'd destroy the sacrifice that led to the creation of the grove.  You'd destroy everything to have me do something?"  She shook her head.  "Then we're at a stalemate.  Maybe if I die this year, but otherwise no. Thanks anyway."  He walked off.

"One will have to take his place."

He stopped to look at her. "Then call back the unicorn's spirit.  It's not dead," Xander said, pointing off to the side.  "It's right there.  It'll do just as well as you do."

"There is no debate."

Xander glared at her.  "I'm not in the grove, Lady Gretchen."  He shrugged. "I'll never  enter here again, even if it does mean the world will end."  She sneered.  He went back to walking off.  "Nanny, heading to DC," he yelled as he walked onto the farm.

She came out onto the porch.  "She has a point and it could save part of you, Xander."

Xander snorted.  "No it won't!  Think about my usual skills, Nanny Grimsley.  I'd rip the grove apart by being male and being a medium."  She went pale.  "Do you really want the grove to be gone permanently?  That blood spilled to be in vain?  It will be.  It's not like I had a choice.  The demon ate the unicorn.  It was already gone.  I didn't threaten the unicorn's spirit.  I helped kill the demon."  He tossed down the sword. "They want it back, take it."

She shook her head.  "No, we cannot.  Not until it's done."

"Who in the hell said I want to do this for you guys?" he demanded.

"Calm down," Dean called, walking up behind him.  "We do it because it's right, not because the people thank us for it, Xander."  He made the other guy look at him.  "No one thanks us for our work and most people hate us for doing it.  We can't quit just because someone got unreasonable about it."

Xander nodded.  "I know that.  I've never expected thanks or anything.  I do expect them not to knowingly fuck me over on purpose for doing what they couldn't.  They called, I didn't volunteer.  We both know I didn't want to be doing this.  I had more than enough on my plate getting slayers ready to head out."

"I know," he agreed calmly.  "It sucks."  He looked at her.  "You know what?  She targeted the wrong one.  The spell warped and went through my sword. I killed the demon."  She gasped.  "So whatever plan this is, stop it."  He handed Xander back his sword.  "Come on, we'll head.  We could all use a good shower tonight.  It's only four hours back to Deb and Steve's place if we take the new interstate instead of the back roads."  Xander nodded, going to get his stuff.  Dean looked at her.  "For some reason spells still go wrong around him.  We have no idea why it warped and went through me instead of into the demon.  So you two can blow it out your asses."  He walked off, heading to grab their stuff.  He called ahead, just in case they were short on rooms.  "Deb, Dean.  We're coming, all three of us and Sammy.  Thanks.  Showers.  No, issues."  He hung up and took Xander's keys since he was still fuming.  "Sammy can drive yours, Xander.  You're too pissed to drive."  He tossed them to Sam when he walked in, not looking away from Xander.  "Come on, I'll let you pick the cassette since you appreciate my music."  Xander nodded, packing up and heading with him.  "We're hitting Deb's.  Give Tim directions."  He headed off.

Sam took a deep breath.  "Okay.  They're both pissed."  He looked at Tim.  "Deborah and her husband run a motel but they're former hunters.  They might even feed us dinner."  They packed up their few things and headed out to the cars.  Sam did like the caddy.  It was a comfortable ride.  It had a great satellite stereo system so he could listen to whatever he wanted.  Today he decided on the dirty comedy station.  He needed a laugh.  Tim followed him out onto the road.  He'd make sure he could keep up.  His Toyota wasn't nearly as powerful as the Caddy's engine.


Dean parked somewhere out of the way, looking at Xander.  "You better?"

"No," he said weakly.  "I'm so tired."

"I know."  He shifted some to look at him.  "It could be a lot worse, Xander.  They can't force you to destroy the grove and take over its job."

Xander looked at him.  "As Nanny said, it'd make sure some of me lived on, Dean."  He got glared at.  "I'm figuring that out.  I don't know!"  He slumped down.  "I'm thinking about how to deal with that last spell.  We'll figure it out."

"How did the magic get blasted open?"

"One of the spirits froze me and made me walk to the center of the crater, directly over the seal that was buried inside the hellmouth.  It opened me to it."  He sniffled then looked at him.  "Ethan hates me too.  He was Giles' former snuggly before they parted ways because of Ethan's chaos magic stuff."  He looked out the front window again.  "He had an idea.  I'm still trying to get it to come to the surface.  I don't think we got him totally out.  Though I did get to give Giles a message from him and make him freak out."  He grinned slightly.  "We didn't know he had been in town to cause more chaos and soak up what was being poured off the hellmouth."

"Will it work?"

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know.  He's the guy behind Halloween that got me the soldier."  He looked at him again.  "I'll be fine.  I know the burnout is getting worse and my temper's getting shorter the closer we get to that deadline but it'll be fine."

"You sure?"  He shifted slightly.  "Your hands were gathering magic back there to go off on her."

Xander nodded.  "That's why I walked away."  He grinned.  "I'd never blast Sammy, Dean.  How else am I supposed to figure out what normal guys do?"

"Point."  He smiled.  "You're going to retire after this?"

"If I survive?  I'll fall back to spell work and research.  Not in Cleveland."

"It's good you're not going back there.  It was bad for you," he said.

"You guys worked very hard to show me that."

"We did," Dean agreed, grinning at him.

Xander looked at him after the awkward pause.  "Do you get the feeling Dawn's going 'kiss him' over and over somewhere?"

"Hearing her?"

"Kinda."  He looked up.  "Stop it.  Pervert."  He looked at him, making him laugh.  "I should just to give her happiness for the week."

Dean kissed him hard and fast.  "There, now she's happy.  I'm going to hustle pool tonight."

"At least you're not hustling other things."

"That thought occurred to me once but I'm too fantastic to pay," Dean said smugly.  "You on the other hand..."

"I'll get one of the psycho broads to pay me," Xander said dryly.  "Or the truck drivers who keep trying to pick me up for some reason."  He shuddered.  "Not my style."

"Sure."  He shifted so he could restart the engine and they could head off.  By the time they got to the motel Xander had taken a quick nap, he was in a better mood, and so was Dean.  Sam and Tim were already there.  He got out, looking at them.  "How're we doing rooms?"

"Tim and I are going to talk about college stuff.  You two get your own," Sam called from the doorway.  "Deb wants to see you."

"Sure."  He let Xander catch the room key, getting a look at it before he went into the office.  "Yes, beautiful one who cooks?" he asked with a grin.

"What happened!"

"The spell warped a bit.  They had a plan to capture part of Xander to live in the grove forever.  He threw a fit, a good one for a good reason, and now we're here.  When's dinner?"

She scowled at him.  "The spell *warped*?"

"Instead of hitting the demon it hit my sword and I killed the demon.  It let him defeat the plan they had to suck some of him in to protect the grove by destroying it."


"He's a powerful medium, Deb.  When we rescued him from Sunnydale we spent six hours pulling spirits out of him."

She groaned.  "Damn.  Poor kid."

He nodded.  "Kind of.  So he's had a temper, a nap since then, and we talked.  Those two wanted to have 'normal life' drinking?"

"Yup."  She leaned on the counter.  "Is he all right?"  Dean nodded.  "Still dangerous?"

"He's not been dangerous, Deb.  He won't be dangerous.  Not to us or to anyone else."

"That much power...."

He snorted.  "And Dawn doesn't?"


"Or Rosenburg?  She tried to destroy the world in her grief!  Xander's the only reason she was stopped!  She's still living."

"The world can only handle so much power, Dean."

"Then maybe he'll be able to dump some back into the Goddess and she'll be able to fix shit," he said bluntly.  "Want us to go?"

"No."  She swatted him on the side of the head.  "Shut up, Dean.  I'm worried about what this is doing to his already burned out soul."

He glanced around then looked at her.  "Xander's been looking at this like a terminal cancer patient.  Making plans and things.  Ever since he translated that part.  He's trying to figure out how not to make us do it to him."  She gaped.  "That's the last chore by the prophecy.  Sam and he agreed about that.  So did Dawn.  None of us like that idea.  We're looking at ways."

"If he's too powerful he could warp others," she said calmly.

"So maybe he'll dump it into an area that's had a lot of drought problems and they'll suddenly get crops and rain.  Dawn said they made Willow bleed all her excess magic when they fixed her after she tried to end the world."

"That could help," she admitted.  "Fine.  I worry about you goofballs.  You know you and Sam are the babies of the circle."

He snorted.  "Some day Sam'll have kids when he tries for normal again."  He walked off.  "Dinner?"

"I'll call.  Go clean up."

"Yes, ma'am."  He walked into his room, shaking his head.  "What about dumping some of the power somewhere to help?"

"I do that nearly daily, Dean," Xander said, looking up from his playboy.  "Not like I want to horde it.  You might turn into a bunny rabbit or something equally cute and cuddly that makes girls coo."

"That would be bad, yeah.  Never being laid, only getting to the petting stage."  He went to take a shower.  "You showered?"

"Nope.  You can have the first one.  I'll deal with mine later.  You got more sweaty."

"You were dripping with it," Dean complained, coming out of the bathroom.  "I nearly didn't let you in the car you were so wet."

Xander looked at him.  "I dried, you're still sweaty, quit complaining.  I'm being nice and you complain?  You're starting to sound like Anya, Dean."

He walked in there shaking his head, slamming the bathroom door.   He came out when he was done and Xander went in there to shower, leaving him the playboy.  He laid back on his bed to look through it.  Not his thing this month but some were cute enough.  He'd do most of them.  Sam tapped so he got up to let them in.  "What?"

"Xander?"  He pointed at the bathroom.  "We were going to order pay-per-view tonight since there's a good concert listed then crash."

"Have fun doing the 'normal guy' drinking."

Sam grinned.  "You sure you don't want to join us?"

"Listening to you two complain you miss writing papers?  No thanks."  Sam nodded, heading off.  He went back to the magazine.  Xander came out in a towel.  "They're going to have one of those 'normal guy' drinking nights to a pay-per-view concert."

"Eeeh, not into college.  Even the thought gives me hives."  He sat down on his bed, looking at the magazine.  "You didn't like the redhead?"

"I like pretty, I'm not into a hair color.  Her nose was huge."  He looked at him.  "Besides, she had small breasts.  You?"

Xander shrugged.  "I gave up on being picky.  Sex good.  Stress relief great.  It's my present motto."

"Then go pounce Sammy.  He could use some stress relief."

"I tried that the last time I was tipsy, he nearly decked me."

"Forgot about that," Dean admitted.  He shrugged it off.  "I know you won't tie him up and hurt him or anything.  There's almost no clubs locally but one gay place."

"You were going to hustle pool at a gay place?"

"They have more free money because most of them don't have kids.  Newsweek said so."  He smirked before going back to reading.  He tipped the magazine to get a better look at a picture.  Xander looked over.  "She's pretty."

"Yeah but that's a sore," Xander said, pointing at something.

"Never mind."  He looked at him.  "Ever catch anything?"

"Outside of the ghosts at Halloween?"  Dean nodded.  "Did you?"

"Twice.  Fortunately nothing too bad.  Both before I turned nineteen."

Xander snickered.  "Once.  While I was stripping.  Girl?"  Dean shook his head.  "Me either.  Sam know?"

"Hell no.  He'd still be trying to hold it over my head."

"That's why I didn't tell the girls I got laid during my trip."

Dean smirked. "How much did you pay?"

"That guy?  Twenty bucks.  Most of the time nothing."

"Uh-huh.  Maybe we should let you hustle in the gay bar?"

Xander smirked.  "I'm a top, Dean.  The only one who gets my ass was Anya's teeth."  Dean cackled at that.  "She did.  She bit me all the time."

"You could give cheap blows."

"I don't do it that well.  I can't deep throat and most guys like that."

"I do too.  I'm really fond of the girls who can."  He went back to the magazine.  "At least you'd get some stress relief.  Not that I want them here but you'd get some stress relief."  They had gotten a lot more used to a relaxed Xander.  Once he had finally relaxed around them he curled up next to them to watch tv and steal their snacks.  He teased them a lot more often.  Sam had remembered he could blush a few times.  "So, anything kinky you've done?"

Xander smirked.  "I asked Sam that and he blushed.  How dark do you go?"

"I don't blush."

"Really?"  He got up, looking down at him.  "Let me guess, some mild tying down in your past?"  Dean nodded, he'd admit to that.  "Maybe some anal sex?"  Dean nodded, he'd admitted to that too.  "Then I've so got you beat."  He smirked.  "One of the other strippers wanted to be fisted for his birthday and I got to help."  Dean blushed at that.  "It's an intense feeling.  Very personal.  Much more close than sex."

"I don't need to know," Dean moaned.

"And you said you don't blush," he teased, patting him on the head.  "Poor baby."

"Is that the worst?"

"No but I'm not telling you the worst ones, Dean.  I don't want Dawn to hear them.  She's scrying again."

"If she was, you'd have lost your towel."  Xander showed him the pin, making him laugh.  "Anticipated it?"

"Yup.  Sure did."  He beamed.  "I had a wild four months in Oxnard.  I don't regret doing it."

"That's good."  He sat up.  "Get dressed.  We'll hit the gay bar so you get sucked and I get to play some pool."  Xander nodded, going into the bathroom to change.  He came out in some pants Dean had never seen on him.  "Leather's a bit too high brow for around here, Xander.  This isn't New York, it's lower Oklahoma.  They'll be in jeans."  He sighed and went to change into some very snug jeans with his brown button up shirt that made his eyes seem large and sparkling.  Dean changed into something better too.  Not that he liked going to the gay bars but they did make it so much easier to hustle pool.  Especially when they were watching Xander's ass.


Dean looked across the bar, not finding Xander.  He wasn't worried, the guy could handle it if something happened.  He went back to planning his next shot, not minding when someone decided to stroke his ass.  "Not free," he said.  The guy made a 'damn' noise with his tongue.  Dean grinned back at him.  "Sorry, but I'm a top."

"You and that boy you brought in both.  You put people between you?"

"We're friends so not yet."  He smirked and got back to his shot, sinking it and moving to the eight ball.  The guys at the table moaned, tossing down money before going to get a beer and then go onto the floor.  Dean pocketed the money and looked at his admirer.  "Where is he anyway?  I can't find him."

"He's upstairs.  The drag queens kidnaped him.  One wanted to have some help with a corset."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "I'll get him back when he's done."  The man laughed.  "I'm his ride."

"Uh-huh.  He said he's a top."

Dean smirked.  "He is, so it's not that sort of ride.  Unless he really wanted to switch."  He leaned against the table.  "Want to play me?"

"Oooh, baby, I'd love to play with you.  Do you charge?"

"Not for fun.  I still don't go farther than touching in the clubs.  If I do people try to join in."

"Pity."  He leaned over to sniff his neck.  "You do smell good."

Xander slunk back down the stairs, coming over to where Dean was, taking his beer to drink.  He looked at the guy hitting on Dean.  "He only likes them on their knees and begging, Incubus."  That got a moan.  "Or did you want me instead?"  The incubus came over to sniff him and let Xander walk him off.

Dean shrugged.  "Okay then."  He gave them ten minutes, every guy deserved an uninterrupted blow job now and then.  Then he followed.  The incubus was still working on him.  "That doesn't work either?"

"It's my third for the night," Xander complained. "Give him a few more, Dean."

"Fine."   He let the demon finish him off then tossed the banishing potion on him.  He looked at Xander.  "I'd fix that before someone thinks it's an offer."  Xander tucked himself back into his pants and they headed for the Impala.  It was late and they didn't want to go back in there.  "Drag queens?"

"Yeah, who wanted to tease and play with me.  A whole group of them who wanted to tease me, play with me, turn me into a girl so they could be lesbians, all that good stuff."

"You okay?" Dean asked, smiling in the dark of the car.  Only Xander got the psycho women.


Dean looked at him.  "Could use a cuddle?"

"Yeah, I could use a cuddle."  He nodded.  "And another beer.  It's been a long day."

"It has."  He drove them back to the motel with a stop at a drive-thu liquor store for beer.  They settled in on the beds to watch some late-night tv on the smut channel and drink their six pack.  Xander got his cuddle and Dean stroked through his hair.  It was comfortable.  Hell, this is what he thought 'normal' people did when the sex died in their marriages.  That thought made him realize he should probably let Xander fall asleep in his own bed.  He looked down.  Too late.  Xander was snoring into his stomach, one leg thrown over his ankle.  He tried to move but Xander pinned him down.  "Okay," he agreed, finishing that beer.  The all-smut channel changed to a smuttier movie since it was now after midnight.  He loved Cinemax.  This was one of those 'not rated' ones that had sex but you only ever saw the naked women.  Which was fine with him.  It was more than good enough for him.  He tried to shift when he got hard but Xander wasn't letting him do it.  "Xander, gotta use the can," he said quietly.  Xander sniffled and shifted so he was more on top of his lap.  "No, get off."  Xander moaned.  "Not that way," he said with a goofy grin.  "We're both way too drunk for that."  Xander nuzzled his stomach but that was fine.  He went back to stroking over his head to calm him back down from whatever dream he was having.  He heard the mewling noise and sighed, finding the exorcism spell Sam had copied for him.  Xander still picked up random spirits now and then.  Apparently the incubus hadn't really gone away.

Only Xander.


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