Alternating Xanders.

Xander looked up as a flash went off, staring at the man standing in front of his desk.  "Huh," he said quietly.  "Hi, me.  How're you today?"  He looked at his laptop, saved what he was working on, and sent a quick email to Tara before shutting it down.  He put it into the fireproof safe and stared at the older, one-eyed him.  That him was wearing a casual pair of dress pants and a nice button-up shirt.  Plus dress shoes.  So apparently he was going to do something important.  "You know, it's good one of us made it to that age," he said bluntly.

That Xander shook himself free, looking around then at his younger self.  "This is really weird."

"Well, yeah, but I've seen other mes before.  Especially thanks to Willow."  He grinned.  "So, sit.  Take a load off."

"The Secret Service have got to be freaking out," he said as he sat down with a sigh.  He put his feet up in a free chair.  "As a warning, if you eat steak anytime that there's a chance to get elected for something, you will be.  I'm sharing this because no one shared with me until it was too late."

Xander looked confused.  "I take it I don't write there?"

"No.  I was helping back up all the slayers until I got voted VP."  The younger Xander choked.  "Yeah, that was my feeling but the nurses kept sedating me so I'd quit swearing."  He shifted.  "Eight years of that and then they still wouldn't let my ass go."  He heard a knock.  "Should I get that."  The younger one nodded and waved a hand since he was still coughing.  He got up and went to answer the door, smiling at the handsome guy on the other side.  "Hi, gorgeous."

"You're not the scary Xander at least," he said, staring at him.  "Don't let his cats out."

Xander looked down.  "Go nap," he ordered.  Two ran off.  He gathered the other two.  "I didn't know we liked cats.  I have St. Bernards," he told the cats he was holding.  "They're big, slobbery things that love us."  He put them on the couch and looked at the man, who he noticed was wearing a detective's badge.  "If the Secret Service somehow find a way to follow me, you have to tell them it was not my idea.  Because it wasn't.  Really."

"Why would the Secret Service follow you?  Are you being arrested by them?" he asked.   With the last other Xander they had seen, that was possible.  That Xander pulled out his wallet and ID case, holding up his ID.  He read the address.  "Um, that's the White House."

"Don't remind me, dude, please.  I hate that place."  He walked off.  "We're back here."

"Sure," he said, calling the office.  "Hey, Beckett, it's not the scary Xander this time.  This one lives in DC, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."  He hung up on her choking as he followed the older Xander.  "So I take it you don't hunt anymore?"

"I backed up the massed slayer forces for years.  I got elected VP after an apocalypse battle.  They kept electing people that they thought would protect them.  I'm the last in that line hopefully."

The younger Xander was staring at him.  "Seriously?"

"Yeah.  O'Neill and Sheppard, then Sheppard and me, and now me and Lorne."  He shrugged.  "It's wacky but they feel safer."  He smirked.  "Do we not back up the slayers here?"

"Faith is New York's assigned slayer and I'm semi-retired to help her," Xander offered.  "Is that like all the slayers are activated like it is in the DCIS world Willow sent me to?"

"Yeah, all ours are.  Yours aren't?"

"No, I turned in a few cults with higher weapons to the FBI and they ended up shutting Sunnydale down.  So I semi-retired to up my book writing hobby to a well paying career that won't let me sleep."

"I got to travel a lot backing up the girls.  DCIS?"

Xander got up and got the first book to let him see it.  "They said I could write it."  He sat down again.  "Detective, should we be really cautious because of what he is?  That realm might have panicky fits if he's hurt."

"I'd say," he agreed.  "We can figure some things out."  He went to get the door since it sounded like detectives.  Beckett showed up with Castle.  That Xander sighed but pulled out his White House ID card too.

"There is one of you that got elected," Castle said, staring oddly at him.

"They felt safer."  He grinned.  "They elected me from a hospital bed.  Right after an apocalypse battle where I got some liver damage.  O'Neill laughed so damn hard that they had kept Sheppard."

"I know John.  And Jack O'Neill too," Xander admitted.  "They'd probably both cackle.  I should get you to tape video messages for them."  He grinned.  His older self grinned back.  "Rick, you need a new series, right?  He's a mystery writer and I write sci-fi."  He beamed.

Rick shook his head.  "Don't tempt my muses, Xander.  Please?"  The older one cackled, shaking his head.  "Though, please tell that general it's possible so they don't worry."

The older Xander waved a hand with a grin.  "I don't mind if one of you write it.  It's too insane to be anything but fantasy anyway."  He grinned at the female detective.  "My slayers would appreciate me having more female guards but none of them ever sign up and half of my regular ones think I'm too tough to guard.  It's horrifying the way they quit when I end up protecting them as well as myself."

She nodded.  "Yeah, you're not supposed to do that, sir."

"I'm a Xander.  Even there I'm a Xander."

"Nice to know that you haven't changed too much from this goofy one," Esposito said dryly.

"Nah, once a Xander always a Xander."  He winked at him.  "So, any idea how I got here?"

"I'm kinda shunned right now," their Xander admitted.  "There was an apocalypse start by getting me a lot of press and it kinda outed demon kind.  So they're really not happy with me."

"I can understand that."

"I can ask Faith to ask."  He called her.  "I know it's early for you but I just had an older me show up and he's from another realm.  No, a real one, Faith.  Come here please."  He hung up.  "She's still half asleep."  He called LA.  "Gunn, good, thank you for not making me talk to them.  I have an older Xander from somewhere else here in my office.  Yeah, as in.  Well, he probably needs to get back since he's the president.  Yes, as in of the United States," he said dryly.

Gunn clearly cackled by Xander's eye roll.  "They thought he'd protect them from demon problems, Gunn.  And you know, there's that ten percent that was trying to write Buffy in as the governor of California."  The older Xander cackled, shaking his head.  "Exactly.  Please, if you can find out.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "They'll ask their contacts in LA as well."  He sighed, leaning back.  "I have no idea if we're supposed to make sure you're overly guarded or what."

"Please!  I'm still a Xander and I can still take care of myself," he said with a smirk for his younger self.  "Years in Africa honed it to an artform."

"Wow, we went to Africa?"

"After Sunnydale fell in.  That other one with all the slayers, he didn't?"

"No, there was the start of a government agency to handle demon crimes.  He and all the slayers moved there to make it just, work right, and train the girls.  I got it right from them and haven't changed too much if you wanted to read some of it."

"I can do that later.  It's been a hell of a day of arguing with people who want me to be shallow.   I stupidly thought the Senate would've learned I wasn't that way as the VP but apparently they're channeling little kids again."  He shrugged.  "They do it all too often."

Rick nodded.  "Here too.  Xander, can he use Tara's room?"

"Yeah, not a problem."  He grinned.  His older self grinned back and he showed him in there.  He came back.  "That's why I emailed to ask."

"Make sure at least one of you is always with him," Beckett said calmly.  "That way he can't be attacked."  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Let me.... go scrub my brain."

"Be sure to tell your friends about this," Castle said with a smirk.  "That way they can fight being elected."  Xander gave him an evil smirk back.  They left together and Xander went to wait on Faith.  When she showed up, it had to be proved to her but then she walked out moaning and holding her head at the very thought of him being the president.  That was too weird, even for Sunnydale stuff.


The elder Xander found what he needed for video mail sending and recorded messages to each of the two idiot Air Force people that couldn't talk people out of keeping him.   Maybe he'd slip a word in someone's ear to encourage that thought here.  Jack had done good for the US.  So had John Sheppard.  It'd be a nice change from the usual politics.  As long as they didn't get him too.  Though the him here was a more undercover warrior, which was nice.  He looked him up on youtube and found some videos of him talking at conventions, him signing things, him reading chapters to groups, and a few daycares, and him in a battle.  He watched that one.  "Must be the LA invasion," he decided.  "They moved it."

"Going to the DCIS world let us know it'd happen beforehand so I told the right people who could hopefully stop it," Xander said absently while he wrote.

"Want to get out of the house?"

"Yes, but I need to finish this damn chapter.  Or else I'll lose it and then nothing will ever get published again."

Xander smiled, getting up to blow in his ear and whisper something.  The muses shut down with a grinding halt and the younger Xander moaned.  "Museum?  It's been a while since I've been to one."

The younger one beamed.  "I needed that.  Thank you!"  He hugged him.  "Let me shower and put on real clothes."  He jogged off to do that.  The older Xander bummed something to put on.  Once he was ready they went out together to explore the city.  Neither had really gotten a chance to.  The older had only been through the airport there.  The younger hadn't stopped writing often enough.  It was good for them.


Paula showed up and the older Xander opened the door for her.  "Halloween costume?" she guessed.

"I'm not him."  He smirked and let the door shut.

"Xander?" she called.  He bounced out and babbled at her.  She stared.  "Xander, brain bruising," she complained.  He stopped to stare at her, giving her the hurt puppy look.  She sighed.  "Book signing?  Did you forget?"

"It's not until Tuesday?"  He pointed at the large wall calendar he kept track of those things on.  "And it's not Tuesday."

She looked and updated it via her schedule.  That added three things, including one in about an hour.  He groaned, going to get ready.

The older Xander looked.  "Why is he going to a school?"

"To read to them."  She smiled.  "It's a multi-author project he signed up to help."

"It's good to get the kids to read," the younger Xander called from the bathroom.  "Why did you add a tv interview?"

"Because they begged really nicely and they'll pimp your book and Rick's newest book.  You're both going."


The older Xander winced at that sound.  She nodded she knew.  "Publicity is the payment for being on the top ten," she told him.

"Yeah, I have that same feeling about most speeches," he said dryly.  "What's today's?"

"A nice, simple signing at a comic shop he likes to hang out in sometimes.  They asked very nicely.  He spends large there so I didn't think he'd mind."

He shrugged.  "Maybe not."  He walked off.  "Afterward, let's get you some better t-shirts, Xan."

"I could use a few new ones.  I seem to have moths the size of kitten claws."  He came out dressed and got another overshirt.  She stared and he glared.  She smiled and left them alone.  He rolled his eyes.  "She makes me shop."

"That proves she's a woman," the older one said dryly, cracking his younger self up.  He handed over a different shirt, getting a grin and him putting on that t-shirt instead.  It was a comic t-shirt.  They left together.  The older Xander needed a few new comics and had managed to liquidate something tiny though the demon underground.  The fans there went nuts.  Older Xander watched how he handled it.  He was better at it than he was at political speeches.  Maybe that was the difference and he needed to be around more normal people again.  The guys who ran the comic shop stared at him in awe and he realized two were seer sorts of demons.  "Hi."

"How did you get here, sir?" one asked quietly.

"No clue.  But I'm being a very good boy."

"Good!"  They smiled and let him browse some of the better collections.  They noticed he was watching the crowd.  "We have protections," that one told him quietly.

"That's good but two in the line aren't peaceful but are human."  He nodded at them.  They were near his younger self.  "Let's hope it's a wannabe date."

Xander looked up at the next one, smiling.  "Ladies."

"Mr. Harris," one said, holding out a book for him to sign.  "Are you doing anything later?"

"Just talking to a relative that came a long ways to see me."  He gave them a smug look.

"Stop him!" someone shouted.

Xander looked.  The demon trying to get away from Dean was young.  "'Scuse me for a minute, people.  Let me go stop that."  He got up and walked out, letting the demon get behind him.  "Why are you hunting peaceful demons, Dean?"  He stared at him.

"Because that little shithead just tried to jack Sammy.  Has his wallet."

Xander glared at him, getting it handed to him.  "Go turn your ass in.  One of the elders is inside."  He pointed.  "Or I will."  He whimpered but went to tell the Elder on himself.  He tossed Dean the wallet.  "Downtown, in the daylight," he said, waving a hand around.  "Getting notice."

"I know," he growled.  "It has the spell for the next issue."

Xander raised an eyebrow then wrote out an address on Dean's arm.  "Tara's library and the restricted section they have."  Dean smirked at him.  "A whole donated collection of an occult house."

"That's cool.  We'll go hide there.  I see fans so you go do writer things."

"Yup."  He walked back inside, going to sit down.  He stared at that one, who was whimpering at the woman holding him.  "Tried to pickpocket a Winchester," he said when she got up there.

She snorted.  "He's young and stupid.  He has bad friends he was trying to prove himself to."

"Sam had the spell for the upcoming problem on him."

She glared at him.  "I did not know that!" he defended.

"Don't make the older me step in," he said in the common trade language, making the Elder look back and whimper.  "Yeah."  He signed it and grinned.  "Have a better day, Elder."

"You as well, Knight."  She left, taking the idiot child with her.

Xander grinned at the next one.  "Ooh, the bad girl book."  The others giggled at that.  He signed it and she got a kiss and a picture then bounced out.


Older Xander answered the door.  "Hi," he said.  "Xan?"

He looked.  "That's Dean and Sam's father.  We're fine with them still."  He let him in.  "Grab the gray cat."

"Homer," he called.  The cat came rushing back.  The other sneaky one had to be gotten off the elevator.  Then he came back in.  "We have to train you like I did my St. Bernards, kitty cat."  He sat down and they all pounced him to play with him.  He threw a few mice and they got happier.  One wanted petted and that was fine.

John Winchester stared then at the younger Xander.  Clearly something was going on.  "Huge problems?"

"We're not sure why he traveled.  Are you staying for dinner?  I can make more."

"No, thanks, kid.  Does Tara know what's in that collection?"

"Yeah.  She sealed two of the books."  He smirked.

John sighed.  "They're dangerous."

"All knowledge is dangerous because you could use even the simplest knowledge for harm."

"Good point.  Maybe."

"I can guarantee you if someone touches the library, Tara's going to destroy them and we'll just have to stand there and clap."  He pulled down some croutons.  "I have no idea what she did to some hunter bitch that wanted to burn the whole room down but after two minutes Tara walked her out sobbing and begging for mercy to the nice detectives I work with."  He grinned.  "I showed up to check on Tara and when she spotted me she sent off on a loud wail of 'he'll get me too'.  She's still probably sedated in Brookhaven."

"I'll check on her."

"There's three up there.  We found a fourteen-year-old hunting."  He gave him a pointed look.  "He's not on meds but he's getting a lot of talk therapy about how demons took out his family.  It's a city-wide pilot program since the invasion to help those kids not hunt.  They asked me to talk to him once about what hunting really was.  He doesn't have it in him to do it.  I spotted one that did and got her to someone who could mentor her stupid ass."



"Yeah, Sam and Dean ran into her mentor.  You're right, she's a hell of a hunter."  Xander grinned and nodded.  "The other?"

"Claimed the voices in her head were why she was stalking me."  He brought dinner out to the table.  The cats all came over.  "Oh, no.  We're not dining with furry people.  Go take a nap."  He moved them into the bedroom then came back.  "What did the two earlier want?"

"They were going to try to thump your ass," John admitted.  "Then they said they spotted an older, wiser you."  That Xander smirked at him.  "How?"

"No clue," he admitted with a small shrug.  "But it's nice.  It's the most fun I've had for years."

"Do you actually get to club from the White House?" Xander asked him.  John choked and spluttered.

"There's a few ultra discreet clubs.  I don't go anymore because of Ezra unless he wants to go out."

"That's gotta be bad.  Hold on, Ezra.  Works on an ATF team Ezra?"  Older Xander smirked and nodded.  "I met him at a book signing out in Denver.  He was complaining that it was his day off from his highly overprotective ATF team's grasp of strangulation on his life when someone called him."  He shook his head.  "Small damn world."

"Very."  He grinned.  "I'm going to marry that man some year soon."

Xander grinned.  "Awww."  The older him kicked him but they both laughed.

John whimpered.  "Try to stay out of trouble if you can tonight, boys.  There's a summoning thing in the park."

"Yeah, some satanists.  I doubt they'll make it.  No one's done the pre-ritual stuff."

"Good to know."  He left them alone, going to complain at his sons about how screwed up some things were.

Older Xander smiled.  "Want to go out tonight?  Far away from the park?"

"I could like that, yes."  He grinned.  "It's been too long since I went out to have fun."

"You do need to have more fun."

"Yeah but I don't have anyone to have fun with."

"You'll find someone fun.  Or ask one of the detectives."

"They're kinda buddies but I doubt they'd go to the club with me or anything.  They hang out with Rick and do that sort of stuff.  Or detective sort of stuff."


"They've gotten my last six."  He ate a bite.  "I'll find another one sometime."

"Hopefully soon.  You need something or someone to take your mind off things sometimes.  Then the muses wouldn't dominate you so hard."

Xander nodded.  "I know but even when I'm dating they show up sometimes."

"A good lover will understand that.  Ezra takes my mind off things beautifully when I need him to.  He's also a good sounding board and a good friend."

"I need one of those," he sighed.

"Yeah, you do.  Maybe we'll find one tonight."  Younger Xander perked up and they finished dinner so they could get ready to go out.  Xander did miss his Ezra but that was fine.  He wasn't going to pick up anyone tonight.  Hopefully he'd help his younger self pick up someone decent.  Or even temporarily decent.  Someone for a few weeks instead of a one-night stand.  Though the high risk dating pool was smaller here in New York after having been here for a few years.  He spotted that hunter from earlier and nudged Xander, who grinned over at him.  Dean walked over and joined in.  "Night off?" he asked.

"Yeah, the summoning fizzled and the demon told them to grow up."  He shrugged.  "Sammy's off talking with Tara about geek things.  Dad's having a migraine."

"That's my fault," older Xander quipped.

"Thank you, he needed one."  Dean smirked back.  Younger Xander moved closer and Dean stared at the woman with the obvious bodice knife.  "Cute accessory."  She blanched and ran off.  "You need better taste, dude."

"Yeah, well, I can't find anyone slightly naughty and dangerous, Dean."

"Check out guys?" he asked dryly.

Xander kissed him.  "Yes, but you're still mad at me for sticking up for myself too."  He moved off to dance with someone else.

"I am not.  I understood.  Sammy understood, Xander."  He followed.  That had been...different.

Older Xander smiled as those two had a very strange I'm-not-a-boyfriend fight on the floor.  He was dancing alone but that suited him.  He didn't want to lead some poor evil thing on.  He felt a familiar body rub up against his back and looked back at him.  "Why, Agent Larabee," he said with a grin.  "Though not mine."  The man gaped.  Xander motioned and younger Xander nodded.  He walked him off to a table.  "Hi."  He pulled out his wallet and a picture, showing it to him.  That Chris moaned.  "Why're you after my younger self, Agent Larabee?"

"You know me?"

"They pulled you guys out of the ATF to guard my pretty ass in DC because I listened to you," he said dryly.  "And I'm kinda dating Ezra now."

Chris Larabee stared at him.  "Seriously?"  Xander showed him the picture from the inauguration.  "Damn."

"Yeah, you've sworn at us a few times when I took a last kiss for comfort before a speech," he said dryly, putting his wallet back.  "Why're you here?"

"The younger you is a leak in a weapons pipeline."

"Was.  He doesn't have as many contacts since he had to out things.  Most of them shun him and he hoards them, he doesn't sell them.  Plus there's NYPD oversight."

"Not from what we've heard."

"Yeah, there is."  He looked up then back at him.  "What was her name....  Beckett.  She's in major crimes and she oversees it.  Or you can talk to Taylor in the felony lab.  He's over the local apocalypse closet and helped confiscate most of his when they found out."  He smiled.  "Before then, like I used to, he got them in payment for poker debts and collected what he thought he might need for an apocalypse or because he heard someone had something too huge and dangerous to leave in other hands."

"There's weapons that disappear?"

"There's off-realm wars.  Civil and otherwise.  There are demons who deal weapons onto that circle.   We'd both leave those sort alone because we have no idea if those wars are necessary.  It's the sort of guy we are."

"Do you drive the me wherever nuts?"

"Often."  He grinned.  "So do my dogs.  And my mare."  Chris moaned, shaking his head.  "I can't let you upset the kid.  He's getting enough fallout from them using him as is.  He's got hunters trying to take him out, demons trying to take him out, and he's never telling anyone.  Then again, I'd probably do the same thing at his age."

"Now I know I'd be going nuts."  Larabee sipped his non-alcoholic drink.  "Anything else I should hear?"

"Yeah.  I'm guessing it was revenge driven.  One of those that hates him for being used.  He didn't ask for that to happen.  The hunters went after him for being a damn good author and having demon hunting in a more positive light."  He stared at him.  "Talk to Beckett."

"I'll do that tomorrow."

Xander pointed.  "There's her minion.  They work in teams.  I have no idea what his name is though."  He shrugged.  "Happy talk."  He walked over there and touched his arm, leaning next to his ear.  "Go talk to Agent Larabee," he said with a nod at him.  "He got turned onto the younger me's former weapons stash."  He nodded, going to talk to him.  The other of the minions already had his younger self in a corner to talk.  "Problems?"

"He's been getting death threats," Detective Ryan said.

"Duh.  There's been four attempts on his life in the last few days, three by hunters and one demonic," older Xander said bluntly.  Dean choked.  He looked at him.  "He told me.  Others told me to warn me to get away from him."  He looked at the detective.  "Did you think they were just going to fade into the woodwork?  The Council upped his price, the hunters have branded him an enemy like he's a demon consort.  The demons treat him like he's the root of all evil.  So yeah, which one did you hear about?"

"Someone from Mississippi?"

"No, he's a religious crank," younger Xander said.  "The lot in life when you write sci-fi like I do is to have religious cranks who believe you're evil for putting out things like my books and Harry Potter.  I got one from the local dioceses and went to tell them to muzzle him before I sued their asses."  The detective gaped.  "There's been someone who's wanted to kill me since I joined Buffy.  Getting threats is nothing new.  They learned not to send them to the publisher, because you guys got them."

"This guy went on the news and pronounced that he'd be willing to pay anyone who took you out six hundred thousand dollars that the church had raised."

"Pretty low considering," Xander said dryly.  "Hell, the hunters raised almost a mil."  He shrugged.  "They happen.  Quit stressing.  I'm not."  He stared at him.

"Do you need drugs?"

"No.  If I did, I know where I can find some nice ones though."  He shrugged.  "Might help where I almost got stuck again the other day."  He walked off with the older him.

Dean shrugged when the detective looked at him.  "We're out of the loop on that.  You might ask our dad but no one would tell us anything like that because we stuck up for him instead of the hunter that started that mess.  Dad's at the Imperial."

"That's a piece of crap motel," he said dryly.

"Yeah but hunting doesn't pay," Dean said dryly.  "You get used to it since you're always on the road."  He walked off to guard Xander.  He had no idea it had gotten that bad.  The only cure for that may be Bobby himself so he'd have to unfreeze and talk to him.  Or have his father talk to him.


Beckett walked up to the motel room with a grimace, knocking on it.  The man opening it stared at her oddly.  "I didn't call out for service, ma'am."

"Cute, Mr. Winchester."  She pulled her badge.  "Detective Kate Beckett."  He let her into the room.  She stared at him.  "My fellow detectives were warned earlier that there's a price out on the kid's head."

"Which kid?"


"Yeah, there's a few," he sighed.  "I don't know what I can do to stop it though."

She stared at him.  "They went to talk to him about that, so he'd be warned.  He informed them that the other hunters have been raising money for one?"  He stiffened.  "That's what we need to talk about."

"I hadn't heard that," he admitted.

She nodded.  "Your son told them you were out of the loop because you stood up for him."  John nodded.  "Is there a way to short circuit the loop?"

"Maybe.  I'll see if I can get the originator to yell at them since he was possessed.  He might or might not.  We're very stubborn people, Detective. If we lived this long, we're nothing but stubborn."

"I understand that.  I even understand why you went the way you did, Mr. Winchester.  My mother was killed when I was young," she said quietly.

"Hopefully she'd be proud of you."  He stared at her.  "I'll try.  I respect both those kids for what they do and what they've done, though the notice from the hunting series is ...bad for the circle."

"From what's been spread through the PD networks, some have taken that information to handle things before it got your kind's notice.  Less victims."

"They've taken out some of the harmless ones too."

"We know.  They know.  The ones in DCIS push that very well."

"He does, yeah."  He rubbed his arm.  "I'll talk to some people but I can't guarantee anything, Detective."

"Even fewer being on that front would help since there's religious cranks, the Watchers Council, and others presently trying."  He winced.  "You heard?"

"I talked to the two Watchers in LA.  They agreed their head branch needed to stop."

She smirked.  "One of them came to talk to Faith the other day and she told them to blow her and walked off.  He threatened to remove her from the line, as he put it, so she had him arrested by an officer on his coffee break."  John smirked.  "Have you met Faith?"

"Heard stories about her."

"She's up the road somewhere tonight if you wanted me to call her."

"I wouldn't mind.  Another contact is always a helpful thing in our field."

She pulled out her phone and called.  "Faith, Beckett.  I'm here with John Winchester.  Yeah, their father.  That's what he wanted to do.  Imperial.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "Let her calm down, she was club hunting."

"That's a good strategy if you're young and cute, but I'm much too old for that."  She smirked at him and left him alone.  John cleaned up a bit and put on a better shirt.  He did not want the other slayer to think he was a slob.  Of course, she was wearing a skin-tight t-shirt and leather pants, plus boots.  He stared at her.  "Club hunting good?"

She smirked meanly.  "Usually.  Damn, the vamps usually love me."  She walked in and sat down to talk to him about how things were going.  Including about a few problems that needed scared but were upstate.  He could handle that easier than she could.  Or Sam could the easiest yet but he wasn't sure why until she told him.


Both Xanders came out of the club and ducked into a cab before any nosy press people spotted them.  The younger one stared at the driver.  "Dude, why are you driving a cab?"

The guy looked back.  "I don't know what you mean, sir."

Older Xander smirked.  "I talked to Chris earlier.  You might want to call him, Buck."  The man groaned but called.  "He's still inside somewhere."  They settled in to wait.  Larabee gave him the go ahead and they got brought home then the team met back at their hotel room.  The links in that demon arms circle had led them to a lot of others but this wasn't one of them.  So they'd go after the next target instead.

Chris walked in first and found someone waiting.  "Ezra, you made really good time from Times Square," he said, staring at him.  Then he realized this wasn't his Ezra.  He was slightly older.  Wearing higher class clothes.  "Not Armani?" he joked.

"No, not at the moment.  I decided to dress up tonight and found my boyfriend suspiciously absent instead of readying himself for our date."

"He's been here for over three weeks.  I talked to Xander earlier."  The others walked in and paused.  Their Ezra stared at the other one.

"The New York or the LA showroom?" Ezra asked his older self.

"DC has one now."  He smirked.  "Where is my paramour?"

"Hopefully going to bed," Buck said.  "How...."

"He's from the same place that older, one eyed Xander Harris is from," Vin said, getting it.  That Ezra nodded with a small smirk.  "How did you get here?"

"He's been gone for about two hours now and one of the guards panicked when they couldn't find him.  JD was with him out getting a stress free cheeseburger so we asked who he had seen.  Then I kindly went to talk to them myself while my team gave the cover story."  He stood up.  "Three weeks?"


"Interesting.  He did say that time was worn out differently in each realm.  May I have some directions?"

"You want to go tonight or make it dramatic?" Larabee asked with an evil smirk.

"Well, I do adore the dramatic lifestyle," he admitted.  "Why?  You don't usually like to encourage that habit of mine."

"I don't now but the younger Xander seemed to need an older, wiser approach," Chris admitted.  "Plus yours was making the native one relax again."

"That might be nice, yes.  I know mine has been dreadfully uptight since being elected president.  Being Vice President was enough to wear on his nerves."  Vin whimpered, shaking his head.  "Oh, yes.  Everyone felt he was protective."

"Yeah, saw that earlier when we were watching a signing," JD agreed with a grin.  "He's actually a really good author."  He got the ones he had gotten to add to his collection and let that Ezra see them.

"They were saying something about a death threat or a few at the club.  That's why the detectives showed up," Larabee said.

"My amor would not allow such to go on," that Ezra said dryly.  "He would kindly stomp on them until they had a better grasp of their deity of choice."  He got into the book.  "He is fairly gifted as an author.  I wonder if mine is."  He settled in to read.  "We had plans to stalk him tomorrow?"

"I think we should to see where he was getting some of his weapons," Larabee said.  "Even though they think he's shunned."  The older Ezra looked over the edge of the book at him.  "A few months back, a hunter started to act against him and it ended up outing demons.  That was before a major apocalypse."

"We've had many of those.  Thankfully he helped trained most of the slayers so they were able to work with him helping much easier than elder slayer was."

"Do you guys have more than two?" JD asked.

"Yes.  We have them all activated thanks to an apocalypse and Miss Rosenburg."  JD shuddered.  "Most of them are mostly charming young women who respect and like my mate.   Some of them however....."  He smirked.  "They do really need an attitude adjustment.  Thankfully, the good Colonel likes to spar with them."  He went back to reading.  "I should pick up more of these for him."  He smiled.  "I'll take this couch if no one else is."

"Go ahead, Ez," Vin said with a grin.  "We all have beds."  He went to his to think and wonder about the kid they were tracking.  Well, not really tracking now since he wasn't what they had thought.  They'd have to talk to the oversight person Chris had told them about to make sure but otherwise they'd see who else had some in town since the local ATF was scared of the kid for some reason.  That Ezra was going to be nagging his boyfriend for *months* probably.  That did make him wonder if their Ezra had a boyfriend in mind.  Maybe they could hook him up with the younger one from here?


The ATF team plus one walked into the station the next morning.  Beckett stared at the group.  "Who did what this time since you're agents of some sort?"

"ATF," Chris said, pulling out his ID case.  "Are you Detective Beckett?"

"Did Harris date someone else?" Detective Ryan joked.  He looked over.  "Or is this about last night?"

"About last night.  We're fact checking," JD said with a grin.

"Sure, we have a nice break room," she decided, leading them in there and her minions came last so they got to shut the door and start the coffee machine.

"I do believe your department has been blessed beyond what ours has," the younger Ezra said, making the guys grin and make him a cup of *good* coffee.  "Thank you, gentlemen."  He sipped and let out a quiet moan.  "That is very good."

"When Castle drank our usual coffee, he made sure we had better stuff," Ryan said.  "So, what're we checking?"

"First, last night?" Beckett asked.

"I was scouting the kid, Harris, because we were tipped he was a major open spot in the demon arms pipeline," Chris told her.

She nodded.  "More of a storage area that didn't sell," she admitted.  "But we managed to finally confiscate all of it, though he does have usage rights for apocalypses or other big things as long as we hear first or while he's having to grab and run."

Chris nodded.  "That's what we were told last night by both of them."

"Do we think the tip was vindictive?" Esposito asked.  Chris nodded.

"Yup," JD said happily.  "And it came from up here even."  He pulled out his laptop to show them what they had.  "I have no idea what the NYPD wants to do with demons."

"Usually, we tell Faith," Beckett admitted.  "Who either tells their people or handles it.  Unless they look real human our system doesn't want to acknowledge they're here."

Chris nodded.  "Denver had that until something tried to eat the FBI building," he said dryly.  "Then we decided we really cared a lot."  She smirked at him.

"But, while I was looking at the tip's source, I ran into a few other things you guys should probably hear since Chris said that you guys haven't been told anything about the death threats against him."

"No, he's not the sort of boy to whine about such things," Ryan said dryly.  "Which I nearly kicked his ass for last night."

"Do you think you could?" the older Ezra asked.  "If so, he's woefully out of shape compared to my own."

Beckett stared at him.  "You're from the older one's world?"

"Indeed.  My beau is quite the warrior," he said with a smug grin, sipping his coffee.

"We're going to make sure that the one here never gets any political notice," she told him.

"My own would be quite pleased since all that drives him batty."

"Which then further warps Ezra," Buck quipped.

"Dear Goddess, you have no idea," the older Ezra said, making his younger self moan.  "Yes, I did get that from him," he said dryly.

"Is Tara still alive there?" Ryan asked.  "We adore Tara, even when she's pissed off and walking around with a breeze none of us can feel."

"No, sadly she was killed in Sunnydale by some geek with a grudge and a mental issue, which Willow then solved for him by killing him and nearly everyone else," the older Ezra said.

"So, like in the DCIS world, Rosenburg went punk," Beckett said.

"She's healed, moved on, and is now trying to avoid dating one of her coworkers, who works with John Sheppard."

"That Rodney guy?" Esposito guessed.  Ezra smirked and nodded.  "I guess they can fight each other's egos then."  Beckett shook her head but was trying not to laugh.

"Indeed," that Ezra agreed dryly.  "We're hoping for a great many children from them."

"She's recently had one here," Ryan said with a grin.  "She's already missing being pregnant, which her husband adores.  He's Irish Catholic, hates her magic unless it's necessary, and is helping her rehab herself into a wife."

"Why did those two break up here?" the younger Ezra asked.

"Willow cheated with Anya," Beckett said dryly.  The elder Ezra spluttered and choked.  "Xander walked in on them.  That's why Anya here is a nun and Willow got a wish cast on her to find happiness, a husband that wanted a large family, and kids she'd get to train right."  She smirked.

"I wonder if mine knows that."

"They might've talked."  Esposito took the laptop.  "We knew about the Council one, but it's went up."

"The hunters' threat to his continued muses' lifespan I talked to Winchester about," Beckett said.  "He said he'd try.  How many others?"

"Twelve," Esposito said flatly, looking over at her.  "Five from religious, anti-fantasy and magic people.  The rest are from people who hate him because apparently he's prompted them to like demons."  He let her have the laptop.

She read them over, shaking her head.  "That's a different Watchers Council one.  The original was set by Travers.  He put it into a locked account with a lawyer overseeing it."

Ezra took it to look at, then got onto another site, letting that one tell him all that there were.  "May I print this list?"  They nodded and JD sent it to the local printer.  Beckett went to get the list and Ezra finished his coffee.  "I believe mine has slightly fewer for not having much tact and people hating him for being gay and president."

"Yeah, the fact one of them made it to president freaked us out," Ryan said with a grin.  "We'd only met ours and a scary Xander who called himself Lavelle."

"He's in an anime in our world.  Xander always did say they had gotten his nose wrong," he said dryly.  "Master thief, assassin, gunman?"  The guys both nodded.  "Hmm, yes.  I've seen.  He was quite...alluring if you like that side of the fence."

"Do we think that he and our Xander maybe...." Ryan asked Esposito.

"No, probably not.  They weren't around each other that long."

"Good point.  It might've been fun for him."

"Could be, yeah.  Or at least better than his dates."

Ezra took some paper and a pen off Vin to make a long list.  He handed it over with a smile.  "The ones my Xander dated over the last decade that we've known him.  Either they've shown up or sent reminders."

JD looked and added a few more.  "Plus the ones our Ezra has dated, who're usually just as bad but less pouty about getting him back."  He let the guys have it.  "Just in case."

"We'll see if any are in town."

"Millicent was.  I ran into her having coffee.  I remember being woken up one night by her after she had strapped me down so she could make sure I would be treating her ex properly."  Chris stared at him.  He shrugged.  "I did report it but she was in Egypt by the time you got her file from the FBI."

"Interesting.  What are we doing in DC?"

"Beyond losing our minds?" Vin added.

"That's about it.  Guarding him and the Vice President.  Back when Xander was a simple VP, and newly into office his first term, they had an economic talk in Denver.  Team 4 tried to handle it but he was snide to the slayer helping his guard unit."  They all nodded, and Chris rolled his eyes.  "He fired Bradley for being so snide, right before he found an explosive device.  Which he handled.  So we took over.  Then the slayer got injured by a demon sent by a religious crank out to stop slayers."

"Xander, of course, stepped in," Esposito said.

"Of course," Ezra agreed with a smile.  "Including moving us out of the way to handle things for us."  Chris thumped his forehead on the table, shaking it.  Vin was snickering.  "Mr. Larabee nicely got him to let the team handle things while he went with his slayer to the hospital.  In light of us making him listen to us, and us knowing how to work with people just like us, we got begged on bended knee on top of broken glass and salt to go to DC.  They even provided us with a seizure farm for the horses."  Chris looked at him, mouth slightly open.

"John brought one of his family's horses out to get some stress relief.  A Middle Eastern diplomat gave Xander one for helping with the goal of having sons."  He smirked.  "We did make it home every four months in rotation.  We did make it home when my mother conspired with the then head of the ATF to break my relationship up."  Chris and Josiah both shuddered.  "I disowned my mother in public for being a frightful bitch.  I was quite proud that I didn't smack her around."

"I would be as well," Ezra agreed quietly.  "Did she reform herself?"

"She has nagged a few times about making sure I'm in his will and the like, but not yet."  He smirked.  "His parents, as you know, are worthless."

"They're in jail here," Ryan said with a grin.

"Well, his mother's in jail in California for sending a bomb with cocaine in it," Esposito admitted.  "His father's local for blackmail."

"Yes, that sounds a bit familiar."  The older Ezra shook his head.  "I do expect something mushy to happen someday soon.  Though we might have to make sure the St. Bernards don't help."

"He has big, slobbery dogs near your suits?" JD asked.

"He's trained them mostly," Ezra admitted.  "I do love him in spite of the dog drool sometimes.  Though they do make wonderful bed warmers."

"So, are you living at the white house?" Ryan asked.

"Not yet.  We agreed me having my condo outside the insanity was helpful for stress relief.  I'll move in when and if we marry."

"Are we thinking it'll be soon?" Chris asked.

Ezra smiled.  "It's entirely possible.   He does have his mushy moments.  If so, I'd hope the press would quit speculating about who takes whom and how often," he finished dryly.  Ryan cracked up, snickering and shaking his head.  "Two bachelor presidents before him, one that married quietly during his reign.   John was hopeless about dating.  They nearly scarred him for life.  He hasn't gotten off his city since they allowed him to go hide.  Mine growls at the reporters when they bother us about such matters.  It's fairly amusing to watch but disturbing to be caught in it."

"I bet," Nathan said.  "Am I there?"

"Yes.  You quit nagging after about a year," Ezra said dryly.  "The last time, you nagged him about his coffee intake for breakfast and he quipped that was his snack, his protein breakfast hadn't had many calories but was a bit too salty."  Nathan blushed, ducking his head.  "Which is why you stopped.  That and I believe Miss Rosenburg offered to make you a puppy or something.  Or possibly a girl."

"We're clearly all insane there," JD said.

"Quite," Ezra agreed dryly.  "But it's mostly the good kind."  They all moaned.  Beckett came back with something.  "Anything good?"

"Quite a lot that's good."  She let them see what they already had.

"That is different," Chris said.  "Can we talk to the kid?"

"Last night he got huffy because we tried to talk to him about it," Ryan pointed out.  "Apparently he thinks he can handle it alone."

"So we'll tell Paula," Esposito said bluntly.  "She'll nag and fuss and act like Tara."  He called her.  Ryan called Tara.  They were both down there within ten minutes.  Rick too.  "Castle, make some more coffee please?" he asked, handing over his cup.

"Sure."  He gathered them, laying them out in order.  "How do you take yours?"

"Sinfully delightful in any form with a touch of sugar.  My other half has driven me to a sweet tooth I'm afraid."

"How did he do that?" Vin asked with a grin.

"The man has even gotten me to drink hot chocolate to solve life's little problems."

"Aww," JD sighed.  "What's real love like, Ez?"

"It's like having a root canal done through your ear but after the pain's gone it's fairly pleasant and only drives you slightly insane.  It's comforting yet strangling at times and then the press gets there to nag or ask inappropriate questions, which breaks the nice mood."

Rick snickered.  "Sometimes, yes it was."  He stared at him.  "Yours has been getting ours out of the house more often and helping him handle his muses."

"That's excellent of him.  I know he's been bored in the White House recently."  He stared at the ladies when they joined them.  "How many death threats did you think he had?"

"Three," Paula said.  "The Council, the other hunters, and some religious crank in Mississippi."  Beckett shook her head, holding up the papers.

"Seventeen?" Tara demanded, looking at them.  Paula whimpered.  "Maybe we can find Xander a nice, overprotective, assassin sort for a few months to guard him?"

"No, we arrested her," Beckett reminded Tara.  Then she sighed.  "I can ask and see if she'll ask for bail.  She never did."

"That might help," Tara decided.  "It might even be community service and help her case."

"She took and filled over a hundred contracts, Tara.  No it won't," Esposito said dryly.  "Though the judge might like it."  She rolled her eyes.  "We can ask."

"Or maybe an agent who likes to be a bit dark," Ryan said.

"If he was in Denver, I could suggest about six," Vin said dryly.  JD looked at him.  "People on teams 4, 6, 10, and 14 and two guys in the Secret Service office."

JD shuddered.  "I think they wanted slightly evil and protective, not fucking morons who love the sight of blood," Buck complained.

"A few of those, having a live-in boyfriend might cure some of that," Chris admitted.

"We know a few too but they swear up and down they're not gay," Beckett assured them.  "We asked if they wanted introduced."  Chris grinned at her.  "We've arrested about thirteen of his dates."

Tara nodded, pushing her hair back then she decided to pull it up.  "We need to get the apartment an alarm system."  Paula gave her an odd look.  "The one I put up was good but doesn't get EMS if necessary or the police.  It just wakes Xander up and pisses him off."

"Then yes, a good alarm system would be wonderful," Paula agreed.

"Especially with his little blood problem," Beckett said.

Older Ezra snorted.  "Mine has more than yours probably.  He caught a few extra things in Africa."

"Would he rather have a wife or be a wife?" Esposito asked him.  "Since you're an expert."

"Mine simply wanted someone who would be good for him, help him, let him cuddle and babble when he needed to, all that.  In me he found all that and someone who prompted his curiosity to return.  It had been too many years of battles and training for future battles.  He had even lost the delight in traveling."

"He doesn't sightsee much when he's here in the US," Tara said.  "But on the European trip he did a lot of sightseeing."

"He doesn't really do that much traveling for signing right now," Paula admitted.  "He can't because he doesn't have a cat sitter."

"Alexis would probably go over and feed, play with, and clean up after the kittens if he had to be gone for three days or so," Rick told her.

"Is she not grounded?" Tara asked.

"We relented since she was only partially at fault."  He smirked.  "If I ever see that boy he's going to wish he had picked another planet to be born on."

Tara smiled.  "I saw him the other day and Alexis snubbed him."

"Good.  That's what I'd expect her to do."

Older Ezra looked around then at them.  "My Xander makes a lot of friends, or at least acquaintances."

"Ours did but then he got shunned," Tara admitted.

"Hmm.  Perhaps some time away from things."

"We have a cabin for vacations," Tara said.  "He hasn't visited in a while.  I should take Beth there.  We have a long weekend coming up.  I'll check on it later."  She looked at Kate.  "I have no idea what we can do beyond nag him, Detective Beckett."

"He said he wasn't going to be a whiner about them," Ryan told her.  "That it was the price he paid for doing what he's doing."

Tara stared at him.  "Hmm.  I'll spank him later, after work."  She sighed.  "Let me get back to work and dust the Restricted Section to calm myself down.  How many of those note me?"

"Two.  Both Council ones," Beckett told her.

She nodded.  "That would figure."  She walked off shaking her head.

"At least ours was mostly blown up and reformed by Mr. Giles, though there is some terrible fighting among the ranks about how things should be done," older Ezra said.

Paula smirked.  "Don't tempt me or him."  Ezra smirked at her.  "He told one officer in England if they got him he had explosives on him."  She looked at Beckett.  "I'll up the security at anyplace he's signing.  Do you want me to hire him a bodyguard?"

"I doubt he'd let you," Rick told her.  "I didn't when I got my second one.  My first one I didn't come out of the house for weeks."

She stared at him.  "That is a good point but he never comes out of the house now."

"He's got a decent enough place if they'd get a security system.  Or a doorman.  Though I think it's a bit big for just him."

"Yes, Tara had a suite and so does he," she agreed.

"We cleared all the stuff that one demon gave him as an accidental present," Ryan quipped with a grin.

"Don't remind me," Ezra told him.  He shook his head quickly.  Chris and Buck both stared at him oddly.

Vin grinned.  "He gets presents?"

"Yes, we recently intercepted one that was a minor missile system."  He smirked when Buck whimpered.  Josiah shuddered.  Nathan was shaking his head and moaning.

"What did he need one of those for?" JD asked.

"Apocalypse battles.  I'd dearly love to see him use one instead of his battle axe as well."

"Our last one here he had a shotgun and then his axe for two larger things at the end," Beckett said.  "It's on youtube."

"Yes, so are some of his.  Mostly done by people who feel very protected by him."  He looked at the elevator.  "Hmm, I believe we have new entrants into this discussion.  Mr. Winchester."

"How do you know me?" Sam asked cautiously.

"My Xander still keeps in touch with you and Dawn, plus your pack of proof that your back keeps getting thrown out."  Sam blushed, ducking his head.  He smirked.  "Have you met Dawn here?"

"No.  Who's Dawn?"

"Buffy's little sister."

"No, she doesn't have one here."

"Interesting.  So Glory didn't get near finding her key."

"No, she came here," Esposito admitted.  "Shortly after Harris did.  They blew her up and they fled, leaving the watching officers to call EMS for him since he had a concussion and was in a coma for three days."

"Charming of them," Ezra said dryly.  "My Buffy would stay to nag."

"Ours flew back to LA," Beckett said.  "Mr. Winchester, is there a problem?"

"Yes.  There's apparently a massing of demons to storm Xander and beat his ass for things."


"She's already shouting herself hoarse."

"Boys," she ordered and they followed her.  They got body armor too because they were smart.  The ATF team followed.  Sam navigated.

Older Ezra got out.  "I believe the one in front takes blessed silver but I only have rudimentary knowledge."

"Good to know," Beckett said.  "Faith?  Problems?"

"Yup."  She pushed her hair off her sweaty forehead.  "Major ones."

Xander showed up, with his axe in his hand.  "If you idiots hadn't prompted the problem, there wouldn't be one," he said bluntly, staring at them.  "You guys forced my hand and now you hate what happened.  It's your doing, not mine.  So yell at yourselves."  A few rushed him and he killed them.  He stared at the other ones.  "I've had fucking enough."  A few backed off, looking scared.

"The hunter that started all that was *possessed*.  It was a demonic plan and all of you went along with it.  Not one of you helped me when I needed it, no matter how much I've done for the community.  So screw yourselves and fucking move if you don't like me being in the same damn city.  Because the next time something comes after the community, you'd better pray Faith can get it.  I'm not."  He walked off.  Another shouted and came at him with a knife.  Xander turned, caught the attack, and fought him back.  The knife went into his thigh but the demon died in a broken heap.

Xander looked at the blade then plucked it out and tossed it, blood and all, onto the ground.  "Anyone else?"  They stared.  A few gaped in awe.  "I'm not the bitch in this scene, guys.  Nor am I the nice bitch.  You forget a lot that I did before and will do again if I must.  But do remember that seers don't have to say a thing.  Especially when you piss me off."  He stared at one.  "Have fun with that."

"You must tell us those things!" one shouted.

"No I don't."  He shrugged.  "I don't have a tell anyone anything.  I don't have to write them down.  I don't have to tell Faith.  Nothing.  That's all up to me."

"You have ethics," one of the leaders complained.

Xander smirked at him.  "Where did you hear that fairytale?  Hunters have very few ethics.  Mostly the ones we still hold as honorable.  Attacking me means I consider you squishable, not something I care about them dying."

"Your parents...."

"The drunk twins?" he snorted.  "Teach ethics?"  A few looked alarmed.  "You do realize one of my parents is in jail for making a bomb to blow me up because I sent the other to jail for blackmailing me?"  More demons looked scared.  "I don't have to do a goddamn thing ever again to help any of you.  The guys hunting you?"  He shrugged.  "Honorable combat stuff?  Nurseries being attacked?  Call the NYPD.  Call Faith.  Because no, I don't care.

"You're not worthy of my caring.  I'll care about Faith and if she needs my help for an apocalypse, well, it's bad if the world ends.  Then my muses have to shut up.  I might care about that.  Some days."  The group moved away from him.  "I don't have to give a bit of a damn about any of you.  Human or not.  The fact I did means a lot more than most people realize.  But now you've broken my 'don't give a damn' dial on the 'zero' setting.  Have fun with that.  Faith, if *you* need help you let me know."  He walked off.

Rick followed.  "Kid."  He stopped him, giving him a long stare then hugging him.  Xander choked back something.  "I know.  C'mon, we'll get you home and bandage that."

"It's fine."

"It's a stab wound.  It's not fine."  He walked him back home.  They were only a block and a half away.  He saw a reporter with a paparazzi and took the axe before they could snap a picture.  They got him upstairs and on the couch, letting the older Xander help him bandage the cut.  It was a bad one.  Not near an artery or vein thankfully.

Someone knocked.  Then Faith walked in.  "They're all miserably sorry, boytoy."

"Yay?"  He shrugged.  "Guys, it doesn't need that level of fussing."

"Shut up," the older Xander ordered.  "Ezra would tie my ass down and fuss over me."

"Yeah but I'm not sleeping with either of you," Xander quipped.  They both swatted him.  "Fine."  He looked at Faith.  "Liking what you see?"

"Nope.  You had less scars before."  She stared at him.  "Inner and outer."

"Yell at the cause."

"If I find that cause, it'll be a dead fucker."  She looked into his eyes.  "You wanna talk?  I mean it's not my job and I'm really fucking miserable at it, but I can let you babble at me if you need to."

"Nah, it's good," Xander assured her more calmly.  "Thanks for the offer though, Faith."

"Witchy and her knight in girly armor would say the same thing," she reminded him.  He nodded.  "Nursery?"  He pointed at his computer.  She went to look at what he had been working on.  "Shit."

"Yup.  Have fun with that.  Or not.  That's the same day my father supposedly gets out so I'd probably be busy anyway."

"Maybe," she admitted.  She looked at him.  "Why don't you go on a whirlwind tour of the world signing books?"

"Because that's costly and I'd have to bring the cats?"

"There's an art to traveling with pets," older Xander told him.  "I travel with two St. Bernards."  He grinned. "There's pet friendly hotels in each city.  Most of them will accept cats.  Your publisher would probably think it'd be a great thing."

"Maybe.  If I don't get fired for that."  He sighed.  "I might."

"It'd be harder to kill you," the older Xander quipped.  "Outside of England."

"Yay."  He stared at him.  "I'll think about it."

Rick cleared his throat.  "It might affect sales.  Probably not that much.  And they'll go up again the next time we have a huge battle like in Oxnard.  You hit number two after that."

"I did?"

"Yeah, you did."  He grinned.  "Right behind King."

"Huh."  He blinked a few times.  "I'll probably hit all the apocalypse battles I'm needed in but damned if I want to deal with them."  Someone outside yelled.  He stared.  The street was dark.  "Shit."  He got his pants and put them back on.

"You're injured," Faith said.

"Yay?"  He grabbed a few things and his axe, following her out.  Rick was calling Beckett.  The older Xander had his own swords. And a few spare weapons.

Xander walked out there.  "Why are you blocking a New York City street?  The people wouldn't like that."

"You are nothing, Harris.  Nothing to us, nothing to others."

Xander shrugged.  "Some people like me.  They buy my books."

"I can curse you that it will not happen ever again," he sneered.

"You go right ahead.  That'll work against Anya's that I'll get groupies."  He shrugged.  "I can always go back to construction.  I was happy doing construction and writing in my off hours.  I can do it again and put it up online for the true fans."

The demon growled.  "You are a pissy little human."

Xander pulled out something, bouncing it in his hand.  "Not fully human anymore.  Mermaid taint, remember."  He smirked.  The demon tried to hit him but the grenade hit his chest and then he attacked.

"You are not a slayer!" Faith complained as she joined in.

"You're not a blonde, quit sounding like her," he shot back.

"Fuck this, you're injured," the older one said.  "Not that it's ever stopped me."  He dove in to help too.  The demon was not happy.  Three warriors were better than two or even one.  Faith got knocked down and Rick got her moved to wake her up safely while they took him on.  Xander growled and lost his temper a little bit.  The older one hadn't been able to do that for years.  Africa had tempered that.  This one...  He hadn't had the same sort of combat training.  "Channel it," he ordered.

"I am."  He snapped open a vial and threw it on the demon.  It screamed in pain as the acid ate through his dick.

"What the fuck?" Dean Winchester shouted.  "Guys, guns?"

"Impervious," the Xanders shouted together.

"Shit!" Sam muttered, grabbing Faith's sword and diving in.  Dean got one off the older Xander.  Their father had a machete on him.

"Oooh, hunters, I'm scared," the demon sneered, batting at John.  He went flying back into Rick and Faith.  "So much for the wanted and much lauded line."

"He's feeling old today.  Glad we're not," Dean quipped.

"Dean, the red lines," Sam shouted, rubbing his forehead.  "That came from Willow."

"Yay."  Xander hit one with his axe.  The demon screamed in pain.  Xander muttered a prayer and finished by letting older Xander help him get higher so he could do some real damage.  The demon was distracted by him and was trying to hit him but wasn't really successful.  He couldn't reach the middle of his back.  Xander took a big swing down and in.  The skin broke.  The spine cracked.  He had to yank hard to get the axe free and did it again.

Then he tossed in another snap vial.  The demon shouted, shaking the buildings.  Xander jumped free, rolling to get out of the way and so he could get to his feet.  The demon fell, narrowly missing Dean and Sam.  The older Xander got them out of the way.  Xander stared then walked up and beheaded it.  "Next time, don't come to my city.  Ever."  He limped off.  "Let me go clean off the blood and I'll see if there's something to eat the body."  He sighed, watching Faith come around.  "And hide from girls since apparently she turned into a blonde."  He went inside.

Older Xander stared.  "I hate that."

"The depression?"

"No, the certainty that they'll yell.  They will, he's right.  They always do.  It's soul sucking though."  He followed.  "C'mon, guys, he's got two showers."  He stopped to check Faith.  "She'll be fine, Mr. Castle."  He finally got her awake.  "It's dead."

"Fuck that."

"No, I'm not into necrophilia.  Are you since you subtly turned blonde?"  He stared at her.

"Slayers are supposed to take the heavy damage," she moaned, sitting up holding her head.  "That's why we heal faster."

"Yeah, well, not this time, princess."  He helped her up.  "Quit nagging.  It's soul sucking when we get nagged about that shit."

She stared at him.  "I get that but I could've done more."

"You were napping.  It was our turn."  He shrugged.  "Help with the clean up?"

"Yeah, I can do that."  She took Sam's sword, which was hers anyway, and went to chop it into smaller pieces so they could bag it up and toss it out.  "I hate this part of the work."

"We have jumpsuits in the car," Rick offered.  She smiled at him.  He went to get one.  Beckett and the guys were staring, Ryan's mouth open.  Rick tipped his mouth closed.  "Can she bum one of those jumpsuits for really nasty crime scenes?"

"Yeah, or we can just cart it off that way."  She called someone.  "It's Beckett.  A huge demon attacked Harris by his house.  It's dead.  Seven, maybe seven and a half feet.  Thank you."  She hung up.  "Faith, they'll bring the flatbeds they use to tow cars to get that thing."

She grinned.  "That's really neat.  Much better than chopping up and bagging.  I know we can't do like B does in LA and just leave them laying there."

Dean pulled her closer to look in her eyes.  "You have a concussion or you're infected with Xander babble," he said quietly.  "By your eyes I'd say concussion."

"I haven't kissed X in years," she admitted.

"Sammy, get her to an ER.  She's got a concussion."  He nodded, taking her and the keys to the Impala.  John followed holding his head.  Dean looked at the demon.  "Right now, fire sounds good."  Beckett gave him a horrified look.  "That's how we roll.  Salt and burn.  Works to send ghosts on and it cleans up most everything else."

"Let us cart it off, Dean."  He nodded, walking off to check on Xander.  The tow truck got there and they covered the demon with a few tarps but it got carted off and the street was reopened a few minutes later.  She looked around, noticing all the staring demons.  "You pissed him off earlier.  Are you happier?"  They slunk off.  She looked at her people.

"I say we give him the artillery back," Ryan said, looking at his partner.

"Some of the lighter stuff.  Not all of it.  He could probably use the volvo though."

She smirked.  "They've already taken the howitzer off it, guys."  Rick walked out and over.  "You okay?"

"I know I don't know how to use a sword so I just guarded and helped Faith."  He rubbed his hands on his pants.  "I say we go get a drink for lunch."

"We have hours of work left," she reminded him.  "If we did that, we'd probably have a body."

"True."  He looked at the reporter, walking over to glad handle them until they ran off.  He walked back over.  "They'll report it wasn't an apocalypse."

"Thanks," she said quietly.  "I didn't want to talk to the leeches.  Is the kid all right?"

"He's in his shower calming down.  He won't talk to anyone.  I'm guessing no."   She nodded, looking that way.  "Let him handle it in whatever way he wants, Kate," he said quietly.  "You'd hate to be interrupted too, even if you seriously needed to be."

She nodded.  "I would.  He's got others who understand better anyway."  She nodded.  She texted the boy to tell her more about that guy later on so she could do the report and to calm down however.  She could wait a few hours on the report.  It was about as touchy feely as she ever got.  They went back to the station, sneaking in the back way since reporters were outside.  "Want to handle them?"

"No.  The NYPD has a press officer.  I was warned about that the last time they descended."  He shot her a look, getting a smirk back.  "I don't like talking to most of them.  They're more shallow than some starlettes.  The ones who need to carry their dogs around for conversation."

Esposito snickered.  "I always wondered if that was showing off that they were irresponsible pet owners or if they needed someone their intelligence to hang out with."

"I think one uses hers as a designated driver," Castle said dryly.  They all smirked.  He launched into a really funny story about one of those sort and they all relaxed.  Even the ATF guys.  The older Ezra looked a bit anxious but was trying to hide it.  He'd stalk his mate around later.


They were in a club, Dean's idea to destress and maybe get Xander laid, when older Xander felt someone behind him.  He turned, kissing him.  "What are you doing here?"

"I followed your trail to this nice vacation spot," he said dryly.  "Are you injured?"

"Dean did the three stitches.  I'm perfectly fine, dear."  He took another kiss and danced with him.  "I missed you."

"I missed you as well."  He smiled.  "It'll be a few more days at the least before we can go back.  We'll spend it being cute and couplish, doing things we can't get away with in DC."  Xander beamed at him, taking him deeper onto the floor to dance with him.

Xander grinned at his older self.  "It's nice one of us found someone decent and understanding."

"You can have Sammy but he wants a normal thing," Dean offered.

Xander grinned.  "I might play with him if he wants but I know someone like Sam isn't for boys like me.  I basically turned my back on most hunting things."  He shrugged and shifted to get away from the person trying to climb into his jeans with him.  He looked back.  "You mind?"  She huffed.  "I don't mind women but only I can fit in these and my wallet's not back there."  He picked a better candidate to dance with.  Dean wasn't a great dancer.  He had moves but not the sort that would help you lose yourself for a bit.  He was used to club baiting and Xander had gotten out of that habit.  The girls let him dance all he wanted and a few were even happy with him being there.

Dean texted Sam to tell him that.  Sam sent back a 'I know, we already had that talk after the other night'.  Dean put his phone back and went back to it.


Faith walked into a demon club, seeing the sneers.  "Shut up," she told one.  She walked over to the one that had asked her to show up.  "What?"

"Has Harris actually done something for this community?"

"You mean beyond taking out serial killers going for the young?"  He gaped.  "And did you think the things in Sunnydale wouldn't come for you?  Really?"  She stared at him.  "Did you possess B to get that brainless?"  She walked off.  "You know, if it wasn't for the DCIS series, most people would still think you're all harmful instead of pussycats who whimper in the dark."  Most of the people in the bar looked startled.  She looked at one then at her egg.  "You know he saw something about a nursery attack?  I have no idea where."  She walked out.

The heads of the New York demon community talked over their beers.

Finally, one of the young hotheads had had it.  He walked back there.  "You know what?   The rest of the country outside you guys and LA know what the hell the slayer's team has done for us.  How they protected us when Sunnydale got shut down.  How they kept some of the biggest things from killing everyone, including us.  Hell, Harris was the first one at the invasion and the last one to leave!  Do you think they wouldn't have eaten us too?"  He looked around.

"Another thing, since he's the seer that saw the Council trying to summon the First Evil and got it stopped, we'd all be dead then too.  He's the one that built the bomb that took out Glorificus before she had our world invaded by hers.  Which would've killed most of us.  He's kept people in the ATF from getting into the demon communities by taking the higher weapons from us.  He's made sure people know that there's peaceful demons instead of all being the like the brainless things that came during the invasion.  What the hell do you think he's done for us?  I wouldn't respect us either since we sound like teenage human girls!"  He stomped off.  A few clapped.

"Some day he'll lose his temper," one of the elders sighed, taking a drink.  "And make logical arguments."

"Could that be the truth?" another asked.  "Since he kept a lot of things from happening?"

"The slayers think him a child playing dressup," he sneered at her.

"No, Summers thinks that.  Summers is an airhead most of the time.  Even her mother has corrected that thought.  And for being unable to help, she sure comes begging when she needs things.  Her first stop to stop Glory wasn't Tara, it was Xander."  The others nodded.  "He blew her up and Summers left him there bleeding.  Didn't even call an ambulance for him.  Yet he was the reason she had won.  That's not something I respect."  The others in the bar nodded.  "She has her good points and her good moments but perhaps she needs someone to focus her better like Rosenburg got."  The crowd all nodded at that.

"That is not how the higher ups see it," one of them told her.  "You're impertinent, woman, and you're old enough to know better."

She sneered.  "I'm also old enough to stab you since you're unworthy of your job."  He flinched.  "I say we overturn these supposed wise ones since they aren't."  The crowd cheered and rushed the table.  The demon smirked.  "Feel very wise now?' she asked their bodies as they were being pummeled.


Faith knocked on the door the next morning, getting a sleepy older Xander yawning at her.  She caught the cats and put them back inside.  "The city's demons decided to rip their Elders Council apart last night."

He stared at her.  "Really?"  She nodded.  "Huh."  He looked toward the bedroom.  "I can still hear keys being tapped."

She went in there, partially shutting his laptop's case.  He saved it and looked at her.  "They ripped the Elders Council to shreds last night."


"For being down on you.  I pointed out that you had done a lot more than they thought.  Apparently that started off a moment of revolution.  The new one has more species represented and they wanted to talk to you later."

He considered that.  "I'm not sure I want to."

"I know.  Still, try?  It'll make you safer since some of them have a price on your head."

"It seems like half of everyone has one."

"Well, yeah.  Two from the Council from what Tara told me."  She smirked.

"That fucking sucks."

"Yup.  So shower, change, let's go."  He sighed but did that, letting the computer go into the special drawer.  "You can buy me lunch too, boytoy."

"If I must."

"Yup, you must.  This is damn early for some of us."

"Me too."  He showered and came out to pull on jeans and a decent enough shirt.  He didn't really care what anyone thought.

She watched, noticing how he was moving.  "Did anyone check your thigh?"

"I just did, it's fine."

"Uh-huh."  The older Xander came in with his Ezra to help with that.  They got it cleaned up again and rebandaged for him then let her take him.  She grinned.  "He's fussy."

"He needs kids."

"You are a kid, same as I am."  He gave her a dirty look.  "We are barely legal."

"I'm twenty-three."

"Really?"  He nodded.  "Fine then I'm barely legal."

He smirked.  "I think many guys are happy that you are legal, Faith."  She punched him on the arm, making him wince.  "Ow."

"Sorry."  She checked.  Yup, there was a bruise there.  "Did someone abuse you last night?"

"Yeah, the pretty girl I screwed had a death grip there as she came and came and came again," he quipped.

"TMI, Xander."  He shrugged.  "Did it help?"

"No."  He shrugged.  "It'll be fine."

"No, you need a real pussy, boy or girl.  Soon."

"Yeah, well, they're in short supply in this city.  They're all either fake or not interested in me."

"Maybe you should move back to LA?"

"Hell no."

"Not to be around them but to be around a different class of bad boys and girls?  Speaking of, why doesn't anyone see you going out with manpussy?"

"It's bad for sales.  Paula told me to keep that more quiet unless I found a real boyfriend."  He shrugged.

"Huh.  Judgmental asses."

"Books are expensive little things in today's budgets.  Plenty of people won't read an author that does questionable things even if he is their favorite.  Them selling pays me and her and means they keep me."

"Good point I guess.  Still sucks."

"Yeah, well, it's helped the death threat situation.  Since I announced that the publishing house turns over all death threats they've started to send them to my publically noted post office box."  He smirked.  "It's not real easy to find it but if you look you can track it down.  They all know I use it for official fan correspondence so they keep an eye on any packages or bigger letters."

"They find any?" she asked.

"Two.  Both religious groups who hate me for being bi and knowing demons."

"Huh.  She know?"

"Probably not."  He shrugged.  "Someone in the PD probably does."  He shrugged.  "I let the officials handle that stuff and I laugh at most of the threats."

"Do we keep a file?"

"Yeah, I have a whole box in the closet.  I'm sure other authors do too."

"Maybe."  Maybe she'd be asking the only other author she could get her hands on about that too.  She led him into the meeting hall.  People stopped, stared, and gaped in awe at them.

"Yes, she's very beautiful, people, but she's hell on your back in bed," he quipped.  She swatted him again.  "Ow!"  He playfully rubbed it, grinning at her.

She stared at him.  "You need drugs or something since you used to actually smile and mean it."

"The muses would hate that."  He shrugged.  "If I could find a decent lover I would."

"I know."  They got let in and she walked him up there.  "You wanted me to fetch him for you?"

"Yes, we did," the new head of the Council said, staring at him.  "We believe the old Council was too harsh.  Even though you are brash, loud, and get all too much attention."

"Yeah but that's the job I do," he admitted.  He shrugged.  "If you guys want to continue to shun me, that's your shit.  I've gotten to my point of 'moving on now'."

She stared at him.  "I can understand why.  Though those that owe you money should pay that off," she called at one.  She looked at him again.  "LA's council would have to make their own decisions but this one no longer finds you worthy of being shunned, Xander.  You can come back as long as you can ditch the reporters who follow you around."

"They really don't most of the time.  Unless I've just done something heroically stupid."

"I can understand that."  She smiled.  "Go, rest.  You look like you haven't slept."

"I spent all night being pissed at the muses," he agreed.  "Thank you.  I hope this Council pulls together easily and has not too many issues."  He left with Faith feeling a bit better.  "That was nice of them."

"They ripped the old Council to pieces in a bar last night," she told him.  "I'm not the only one who pointed out what you had done for the community when they didn't want to see it."

He stared at her.  "You did what?"

"Shut up, Xander."  She patted him on the wrist.  "Let's get breakfast then you can go to bed?"

He nodded.  "I should've brought my computer."

She went to talk to someone.  "Are his muses a curse?" she asked bluntly.  She had wondered.

"No.  They're probably so active because they know they won't have thirty years to spread out all the stories."

"Oh."  She went back to him.  "They think it's because you'll die in an apocalypse instead of old age."

"Probably.  I'm shocked I lived this long some days."

"Yeah, me too.  I would've figured you for a screaming match with B that got Red to make you a gooey spot with magic."

"Don't tempt them.  They sent a voicemail last night saying I was an idiot."

"I'm so going to paddle."  She took him to a nice enough place for breakfast.  They both liked it.  Tara liked it too.  She was getting something to go on the way to work and kissed Xander on the temple.  Faith shook her head.  "She must be late."

"Yup.  Probably since she was due in an hour ago."  Faith winced.  "She might've changed her schedule though."

"Maybe, but she's closer now."

"So maybe it was a coven thing."  He shrugged and they ordered.  Xander paid the check and they ate.  It was good for them.  Then she walked Xander home and handed him to Ezra.  "Make him sleep.  He hasn't yet."

"I heard him typing on and off all night."  He handed him to his mate, who would know how to finesse the younger him into a nap at the very least.  "Is everything all right?"

"Mostly.  The Council decided he could come back as long as he didn't bring any reporters."  She shrugged.  Then she pulled him closer.  "He has a box of threats?" she asked very quietly.

He nodded.  "I believe that was found, yes."  She smiled and left.  He went to look them over.  He knew his mate was worried about such things.  Some may be more serious than others.


Faith walked up to where the guys were working on a scene.  "Who gets it when his PO box gets a new bomb?" she asked Esposito.  She liked him.  Detective Ryan reminded her of Xander only nicer but less goofy.

"He has a PO box?" he asked.

She nodded.  "Yeah, so they'd quit sending threats to the publisher."

"Huh," he said, considering that.  "The Post Office Authority would send it to someone NYPD or FBI probably."

She smirked.  "Two bombs now he said."

"Interesting.  Who would get that?" he asked Beckett.

"Mail fraud is FBI so probably them for that too.  How many does he have?"

"A box.  Is that normal?" she asked Castle.

"Someone like the lady who wrote _Harry Potter_ probably has a few from some religious sorts who like to burn her books and try to ban them."  He considered it.  "I'd guess a shoe box maybe?"

She shrugged.  "No clue.  He just said a box."

He called Paula.  "Who handles Xander's death threats?"  He listened.  "No, he's got a PO box so they quit worrying your staff.  Probably because he worried he'd be dropped if there were too many of them.  Faith heard two bombs there."  She muttered something.  "Please do.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "She's going to search his closet."

"Anything like that he keeps in T's storage area," she said with a smug look.  She left them alone.  "Also, his father's due out in a week."

"Damn it," Ryan muttered.  "That's hopefully not going to be a problem."

"As long as he goes back to California, it shouldn't be," Beckett said.

"They only give you sixty bucks," Esposito said.  "I doubt he had any on him with how much of the bar he had sucked up."

"Maybe I can talk the kid into fronting him a plane ticket to get him out of the city."  Rick considered it.  He texted Paula to be sneaky this time.  And why.  What he had seen yesterday was not a good look on the kid.  He had looked almost depressed, maybe even a bit desperate.

They got back to work on the current dead body.   Fortunately the week was nearly done and this was the only one they had.


Paula walked into Beckett's office with another officer and an agent.  "All right," she said, putting down a large box.  "His threat box.  This is Agent Dormers.  He handled both bombs that got sent to him.  This is Detective Philips, he's handled a few other threats that have been made and tipped to the NYPD."  She smiled.  "Tell me what I need to do to protect my author better."

Beckett looked at the box.  "How many of those are from the seventeen contracts on his life?"

"None," she said.  Paula smirked.   "He said he was trying to protect us and so the higher ups wouldn't worry he was too much stress.  I told him I get more death threats for Rick than I do him, and most of his just want to date him.  It's amazing, it looks like he lost five years of worry."  She waved a hand.  "Let me know what you three decide, people.  Rick, you have an interview in twenty minutes, you had better be heading," she ordered.  "And change in the car!"  He checked his phone on the way out the door.  She walked out the door happier.

"Personally I think the kid's just scared of her yelling," Agent Dormers said dryly.

"Possibly.  She is technically his boss."  They got into the death threat list, the other cases involving him.  Esposito rolled his chair over to share what he had pulled up with the kids' name on it, which Detective Philips didn't know about.  Ryan came over with coffee for everyone and added in the recent bad girls he had dated.  They decided to sort things into danger categories.  They started with the least dangerous to make sure they were in jail.  Most were so they moved on.  The really dangerous category were usually larger things that it would take federal agents to clear up.  A law firm.  The Watchers Council idiots.  A few other higher beings.

The captain came out.  "Over this dead body or another one?"

"A future one if we don't get some things under control and teach a certain author that not telling us stresses us all out more worrying."  She handed over something.  "Last month's."

"Dear God," he muttered, reading it over.  "Why didn't he tell us?"

"He didn't want to bother us," Ryan quipped.

"Thought we'd get tired of him," Esposito added.  He smirked.  "I'm going to smack him upside his pointy head."

"Let Paula."  She looked at them.  "We need to help him make new friends.  Ones who appreciate him."  The guys nodded.  "Does he hang out with you two?"

"We've never asked," Esposito said, looking at his partner, who shook his head.  "We can ask."

"He'd probably say you two were doing cop things," the Captain said dryly.  "Or that he doesn't do things like Rick would so you guys wouldn't do lower class stuff with him."

"Probably," she agreed.  She called their apartment.  "Go to Great Escape today or tomorrow if you're still here.  Yes, that's an amusement park upstate.  It could be good for both of them.  Yours is uptight and never gets to go have fun."  She hung up.  "That will help them all."

"Probably, yeah," Esposito said with a grin.  "He could use more fun."

"Though a boyfriend or girlfriend might help," Ryan added.  "It helps my moods at times."  His partner nudged him, giving him a dirty look.  "It does yours too when you date."

Agent Dormers shook his head.  "Now I remember why I left the Chicago PD to go Fed."  They all smirked at him.  "No, I'm not a natural born Fed.  I'm a naturalized citizen of that colony."  They all smirked.  "Can't your helpful author sort introduce him?"

"They all think he's goofy and a bit odd," Beckett said.  "Though his poker buddies seemed to like him."

"Maybe another convention somewhere?" Ryan suggested.

"I like the idea of a whirlwind world tour," Esposito said.  "He seemed to be really excited most of the last one."  They all nodded.  "I know most of the women I've asked if they knew anyone, because most of the ones I know are too straight for him, either didn't like that he was bi or didn't like that he was employed that way.  It wasn't 'stable'.  And then after the battle it was 'soldier' syndrome."

Beckett nodded.  "All my female friends said that same thing.  One was interested until I said that usually he dates bad girls and needs someone nicer and decent this time.  I didn't even think about the bi part."  She considered it.  "I wonder if the others we've worked with are asking."  She texted Flack, they had kept in touch over things in the city, and asked him if he knew anyone.  He sent back that he was on a scene but yeah, his sister's friends all thought he was hot but slightly nuts and they were scared of being added into a book if they fought.  "That's the other problem I've seen."

"What if he puts me in a book and it's not flattering," Ryan guessed.  She nodded.  "My sister said the same thing.  Maybe if we asked Winchester?"  He texted Sam, who sent back that he had offered to introduce a few but with the whole hunting community in a pissy mood it was probably a bad idea.  "Pity."

"The only non-bad girl he had was Castle's ex," Esposito said.

"Who was scarily like his one that became a nun," she reminded him.  "I think he needs better than a slut with money grabbing ways."  They all nodded at that.  "Maybe a soldier?"

"Two soldier relationships can work well," Esposito said.  "The most stable one I know is two people who met in Iraq."  He called her to talk to her, walking off.  He came back with a grin.  "She said he's more dangerous than most soldiers and she'd try to mine some of her contacts.  Including some of the guys she knows are bi."

Detective Philips looked at them.  "Do all of your ride alongs go this way?"

"Harris doesn't ride along.  We met him because one of his girlfriends got killed," Esposito said with a smile.  "He knew Castle as a writing mentor."

"Ah."  Dormer nodded too.  "So he's not officially one of yours."

"No, we just arrest all his dates, take his weapons, talk to him when things happen here in the city and he had to step into them," Beckett said dryly.  They grinned at her.  "He's mostly a goofy, nice kid."

"How old is he?" Dormer asked.

"Twenty-three I think," Ryan said.

"And a five year combat vet," Esposito added.  "Plus minor things since then every few months."

Castle walked in shaking his head.  "The reporters asked me if I was dating Xander or Faith."

"Could those two date?" Ryan asked Beckett.

"No," Castle said.  "They had a fling once.  He was there when she went bad for a bit, but she treats him like he treats Tara, only less overprotective."  He sat down to look at the piles on her desk.  "New information?"

"His death threat box."  She looked at him.  "He didn't want to worry anyone so when he said that the company turns in all death threats, he rented a PO box."  Castle rolled his eyes.

"Two bombs so far," Dormer said with a smile.  "This is the pile of ones he took home plus the paid contracts on his life."

Castle looked.  "Where's his father's?  He's been sending threats the whole time."

"Do we think we can arrange for him to go home immediately?" she asked him.

"No.  His father would sell the bus ticket for booze and he really wants to get Xander.  Since all that press attention after the battle showed his building, someone in the idiot groups put his address online."

"I saw that but it's up the road," Ryan told him.

"I know.  Have we warned the people in that building he might show up?"

"We think so?"

"Yeah, Tara was pretty certain it might.  Apparently she caught the tail end of a vision about it and sent them a nice letter explaining that so they could take some precautions.  There is a Harris Anthony that lives there."  They all moaned.  "Also he gets out tomorrow not next week.  I looked that up on the prisoner information site."

"A whole week off for good behavior?" Esposito said dryly.


Dormer shook his head.  "The one who lives in that other building, he was warned?"

"She sent a letter.  Plus to the people who're rebuilding his old place.  Just in case."

"I suggested they go to Great Escape tomorrow," Beckett said.

"They could both use it," he agreed with a smile.   "The other one needs to relax."

"I'd be uptight in his job too," the captain said as he walked around them for coffee.  "Make sure he sent notices to those who preceded him to let them know it might happen?"

"He has," she assured him.  She looked at Castle.  "Any good ideas on how to help him?"

"Bodyguards?  He could use someone to talk to.  Since Tara moved in with Beth, it's been him and the kittens."

"Good point."  She considered that.  "Housekeeper?"

"Could help him but it'd let him get sucked in more often," Castle said.  "He has one that pops in once a week.  He has since they moved there."

"Any idea on a good boy or girlfriend?"

"I've introduced him to all the decent people I know.  The others, I wouldn't want a squirrel dating.  Even the evil, aggressive ones."

"Can't he go out and date like a normal person?" Dormer asked.

Castle shook his head.  "He's kind of socially awkward and a bit shy.  If he's part of a group it's mostly okay and his goofiness is a cover for some of that.  If things are being focused on him, we're lucky he doesn't stutter like Tara used to."

"Okay," she said, considering that.  "I haven't seen that."

"You also don't get to see him in social situations.  He's pretty decent at putting up a cheerful, slightly suave facade for signings.  The award show nearly made him drink."  She grimaced.  "Most of the time at signings he'll act like he would expect a real author to act toward him as a fan.  He's good enough to do that.  I think that's all tied into his 'I'm fine' thing as well.  That has to be part of it."

"His level of 'I'm fine' syndrome usually hides a deep well of some sort of emotional issue," the captain said.  "Depression, anxiety..."

"Possibly and very light unless he's the complete focus of attention.  Now, he'll forget sometimes if people talk back to him.  Like at conventions and he's answering questions on a panel.  But if he had to give a speech he'd probably die.  Unless it was right before a battle and a pep speech."  He got comfortable.  "Also, he's a lot more comfortable being the hunted instead of the hunter when it comes to relationships.  I'm not sure he's fully comfortable with picking up someone for more than sex.  And even then, most of them hunt him down and he just says 'sure'.  He does try to use some really horrible pick up lines."

"If you look at all his bad girls, they all said that they approached him," Esposito said.  Castle nodded.  "What if it's a guy?"

"Then the same rules probably apply and someone who's mildly in control without being dominant would be a good thing.  Xander's letting his muses rule him.  He gets lost, lets them revel, all that.  If he had someone else there to pay attention to it would help but if they were a bit ....  I don't want to say pushy but maybe 'since you're home you can do dinner' sort without being overly obnoxious and treating him like a submissive it could help."

"Yeah, I can't see him going sub," Ryan admitted.  "For anyone."

"No, he'd be the world's most mouthy sub.  That whole sort of lifestyle would probably drive him off dating.  And he can get physically aggressive when he wants to, but he has to have someone who wants that.  His pathetic bad girl society have all been a lot like Faith seems in some ways."

"Pleasure me and be a good boy?" Beckett guessed.  Castle nodded.  "So we need to find someone who'll introduce themselves and do the first few steps."

"Yup.  And someone's who's real flexible about some things since Xander forgot to do the dishes last night."

"That happens to normal people."

He looked at her.  "How many people wouldn't see a writer sitting home all day as someone who could do that?"

"Good point.  What if he just got a roommate?"

"They'd have to be someone like Dean or Sam, who understood his past.  Otherwise they'd drive him nuts."

"I guess that's a good point."  She looked at the others.  "Know anyone?"

"A few agents but his ratings all say to leave him alone."  They smirked.  "How do we cut down on some of these?"

"If someone could finish fixing the Council from the inside, I'd welcome it but with a second threat from them I'm sure it won't happen.  This law firm is worrying."

"They're the demonic law firm," Castle said.

"Huh.  That figures in a lot of ways."  They went back over them to see where they, as normal people, could help.  And if Rick told the people out in LA that they found another death threat against Xander for the hunting stuff, maybe it'd make them appreciate him again.


"We leave in an hour and a half or so," Ezra said when his Xander hung up.

Xander stared at him then called someone.  "It's Xander from over there.  Can you tell the ones there to give us an extra hour their time?  That should give us a day and we're going to an amusement park.  Thank you."  He smiled and hung up.  "She can do that."

"The others will worry."

"I'm sure he'll tell them he was asked for it."  He pulled him closer to kiss.  "We can go up today."  Ezra smiled and nodded, going off with him.  The younger Xander had been taken by Willow for some reason.  It might not be a good thing but he'd handle it and fly home or something.  He had his wallet on him.  Xander came back to put his laptop in the special fireproof drawer and safe.  Then he left again.  It was only a few hours outside the city and it was a pretty day for a drive.


Xander came back from LA and found people in his apartment but it was nice that he knew them.  "What are you four doing?" he said dryly.  The people all jumped.  He stared.  "Well?"

"We're looking for something that you got given, sir," one of the agents said.

Xander nodded.  "Have you presented me with a search warrant?"

"We don't have to."  He smirked.  Xander hit the button on his alarm.  "We disconnected that already."

"That's cool."  He threw something at them and the gas went off, making them all fall down.  "Thank you for making a mess for my housekeeper.  She might not say it but she adores cleaning things up."  He called on his cellphone.  "This is Alexander Harris and I walked into my house to find some suspicious people who claim to be agents, said they didn't need a warrant to search my house for some reason, and they turned off my alarm system.

"Though, they're people I caught torturing demons a few years back so they're probably not totally what they say they are.  Can I have an officer come arrest them before I kill them?  Thank you."  He hung up after giving his address.  He checked, his cats were all in a bathroom and one had a lot of scratches so apparently he was the unlucky asshole who had to try to catch them.  Someone knocked.  "If that's the NYPD please come in."

Someone opened the door.  "No, I'm not."  He smirked, pulling up a gun.  "Let's go, Harris."

"Um, no.  Sorry."  He leaned against something, which activated it.  "Aren't you in jail, Finn?  I could've sworn they arrested you for outing the Stargate program."

"That was my wife."

"Hmm.  Yeah, I heard about that too."  He stared at him.  "Pity.  Isn't she enjoying it?"

"You'll find out."  He pulled his ID.  "Federal Agent."

"I doubt it since he was arrested for outing government secrets," Xander said dryly.  The officers came in.  "And yeah, even if you were still an agent, you'd still need a warrant to search my place.  Even a secret one."

"They would," the officer in the doorway agreed.   "What happened to them?"

"Knock out gas.  I find it's an appropriate response to finding people in my house."  He looked at the officer.  "Especially ones I know aren't agents."

They nodded and came in to search them.  "They have credentials from the NSA, sir."

"The NSA wouldn't need to search my house either.  If they really wanted to they'd just tap into my laptop via my 'net connection," he said dryly.  "And I don't do things the NSA would worry about.  Even then, they'd still need a warrant to search my house, yes?"

"Yes," the officers all said.

"Then can you please clear this up and remove them?  Before I lose my fucking temper?  I've already lost it once today.  That's why I have blood on me."  They all stared at him.  He smirked.  "Someone in LA got bitchy that I said to screw themselves.  Probably because of his sort.  After all, it was his ex.  Thankfully the other slayer isn't like that."

"She's nothing," Riley snorted.

"Really?  And yet she's actually a lot better in a lot of ways.  Including having turned herself around.  Unlike you."  He stared at him.  "I'd so go, Riley.  Today."  Riley cocked his gun.  "I'm not going anywhere with you, fake creds or not.  And if you try, I'm going to kill your ass."

"Sir, if he wants to arrest you," one of the officers said.

"He got fired for outing national secrets.  He's the leak that let people know about the stargate program.  There's no way any agency rehired him."

"Good point.  He doesn't have a warrant for your arrest either."

"I don't need one," Riley said dryly.

Xander stared at him.  "Yeah, you do.  That's the law," he shot back with a smug grin.  Riley shot at his wall above Xander's head.  Xander threw a knife and it landed in the dip at the bottom of Riley's throat.  "Really, dear?  Are you that stupid?"  He walked over, staring down at the choking, rolling around man.  "Did you think I didn't learn a damn thing either?"  He stared at him.  "So why are you really here?  I doubt the officers want to watch me torture your ass but with the mood I'm in, it's not a bad idea."

"Sir, let us," the officer in charge ordered.

"Please do because I'm in a fucking *wonderful* mood now," he offered, stepping back.  "Oh, the scratches on that one are because they hurt my cats."

"Are they at the vet's?"

"They're in the bathroom but they're hiding even from me."  One went to check.

"Sir, one has a bite on his ear."

Xander looked at him.  "They're going to the vets in a moment.  When I'm calmer."  He called Beth.  "Please come get our cats and take them to the vet's and do warn Tara that Riley fucking Finn showed up trying to kidnap me with a few goons to tear up my place.  No.  One has a bite on his ear.  They were roughed up when they were put into the bathroom by the idiots.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "My former roommate's girlfriend is coming to pick them up."

"That'd be fine, sir.  We should probably bring you down too just in case they are valid agents."  He called his boss to check on that.  "Please."

Xander held up a hand and searched around, finding a few things.  "Sure, if you get SWAT here," he said, looking at the bomb on his desk.  "I can't disarm that and it's got about fifteen minutes."  They made the frantic call and a bomb sniffing dog got there first to find any others.  There was one in with the cats.  Xander carefully got them into a carrier for Beth.  One had what looked like a cut.

Xander walked out and kicked one of the unconscious ones, making him whimper and curl around his broken rib.  "I'm going to fuck up your world."  The man blinked at him.  "Yes, you.  I'm going to destroy your fucking universe."  He smirked.  "I'm sure you'll be very happy taking it up the ass in jail."  The bomb tech walked in.  "In the bathroom, on my desk, and they're still searching the other rooms."  He went that way.  Beckett showed up.  "Hi.  Did they call you too?"

"Yes.  Because you're scary."

"I'm going to kill this one for hurting my cats.  And then the rest for trying to kill my apartment."  He smirked.  "And then them for daring to try to kidnap me.  How was your day?"

She stared at him.  "I heard you got sent to LA for a talk."

"Yeah, with Miss Special Girl.  So I was in a wonderful mood when I walked into this.  Thankfully I lost my temper out there too."  She shuddered.  "I'm about to lose it again."  He rubbed his thigh.  "Riley claimed he was NSA."

"Castle called and said they're not on any federal employee list anymore.  He has contacts in the CIA."

Xander found his phone book and called someone.  "Bob, it's Xander Harris.  I have a five person team here claiming to be your agency.  Finn, Riley.  Yeah, his sort.  Please.  The officers wanted to make sure."  He listened.  Then he put him on speaker.

"They are on special assignment, Xander.  They are not part of the agency and they are not to come near you.  They were told to gather a target that would get O'Neill to cooperate with someone higher up for a bit."

"So their job was to kidnap me even though Jack and I are only casually acquainted?"

"I think they decided you were enough because O'Neill is a hero."  Xander got his old phone and dialed it.  "What are you doing?"

"Calling someone to warn them who's closer to him and injured the last I heard."  He put them on speaker.  "So, this plot against O'Neill by kidnaping someone?  Whose bright idea?  Any idea?"

"Not that I can share, Harris.  I have no idea why they thought you'd be easier."

"Well, they hurt the cats.  They put multiple bombs in my apartment.  Finn tried to get the officers I asked to come clean up my mess to let me be taken.  He claimed he didn't need a warrant."

"No, the NSA still has to have a warrant, though they don't always remember that.  Though, looking at your file you're already listed as MIA."

"Interesting.  Was that MIA in LA?  Or now?"

"Doesn't say."  He clicked a few things.  "No, LA."

"Ah, so it was a plot.   Miss Special Girl had better have been brainwashed.  Beth, they're in her bedroom."  She nodded and walked around Beckett.  "She's getting the cats to the vets, guys."  They let her.  "Anything else I should know to finish pissing me off, Bob?  Please?"

"Not yet, Xander.  I think Buffy may have been brainwashed."

"She's needed her brain washed for years.  It's been slow since Willow found magic.  Thanks, Bob."  He hung up, looking at the officers.  "Do I need to go fill out reports or can I go solve my temper on someone?"  He hung up the other phone.

"Who?" she asked with a point.

"O'Neill's former teammate who's got a broken leg so he's on base."  He smirked.  She smirked back.  "He's also the toughest geek anyone has ever seen."  He leaned against a wall.  "Guys, can you help Beth get the cats down to the cab?"  They nodded, one of the officers helping her.  "Is the drawer on my desk sealed?" he called.

"Yes, sir."  He came out with the bomb.  "That heavy, shielded one?  It's locked.  I checked it and opened it.  Your laptop is in there."

Xander nodded, going to get it and his backup drives, then packed a bag and grabbed his ID and wallet things from underneath one of the commandos.  He looked at Beckett.  "Can we suggest a nice, safe place?"

"Yeah, I can drop you there, Xander."  He nodded, going with her.  "Guys, clean them up.  I want them in the cells in my unit now."  The officers nodded and followed.  Xander handed the bomb tech the keys.  He'd probably be the last out anyway.  He grinned.  "Thank you."  She walked Xander off.  "Thank you for letting others handle it."

"I'm going to lose my temper in a way that would mean I'd be chopping trees with a much smaller axe this time," he said calmly.  "Just... please get me somewhere I can rant and scream for a minute?"

"Gladly."  She took him to the station to do a report, letting him rant and scream in the gym for now.  He needed the space to pace, with a limp, and was swearing in multiple languages.  "Xander, let me get the local block doc to look at your leg," she called when he calmed down some.  He looked at her.  "I can ask our ME."

"Not the strangest doc I've ever seen," he said dryly.  He kicked something hard, creating a dent.  Then he took a deep breath and rubbed the injured area on that thigh.  "I might need a bandage change if I can bum one."

"Let me get this done officially so it's part of the report.  That way they can get the little bitch in LA too."

"She's important."

"So?"  He looked at her.  "They can at least scare the hell out of her.  Jail does it really fast to most people."  He swallowed.  "C'mon."  She led him to the block doc.  "Guys, I need him examined for a report.  I know he has a two-day-old injury on one thigh."

"Ten stitches," he said.  "Knife wound."  They nodded, taking him to a private office to check him over and then clean up the other wounds they found.

She watched.  The fact he wasn't complaining meant he was still very upset and she probably needed to see how bad it really was.  She walked in and looked at his back then at him.  "Claws?"

"Something waiting with her," he said quietly, looking down.  "I feel like an abuse victim right now.  Even with my parents, I never felt that way before."

She touched his shoulder.  "You're not.  You just have some really stupid friends who need their butts kicked."  He nodded once, looking down again.  She patted him and went to get Ryan to calm him down.  He reacted well to him.  She found him at his desk joking.  "Go take a statement from Harris about what happened in LA."

He looked at her.  "What happened in LA?"

"His friend's brainwashed and had him attacked."  He hopped up and went up the hall she had come up.  "He's with the block doc."  She sat down, looking at Esposito.  "Are the uniforms here with the supposed federal agents yet?"

"I was wondering why they said you were arresting someone.  They're in two.  What happened?"

She smirked.  "Give me a minute."  She called someone she had in her contact list.  "General, Detective Beckett.  Have you been told by your friend on base who is a very tough geek about the plot to get you to do something?"  She listened.   "Yes, that one.  They're here.  I'm going to question them.  Is there anything you'd like to know beyond who?  No, it was his second one today.  Thank you."  She hung up and he appeared a few minutes later.  "They're in interrogation room two."

"Let's go talk to them."

"A few are probably sleepy.  He gassed them."

"He did when he was attacked in England too.  It's one method I approve of.  Leaves us people to chat with."  He followed her, going to talk to the idiots.  "Ahh, Finn.  They let you out?"

"That was my wife," he growled.

"Hmm."  He stared at him.  "Let's talk, shall we?"  He slammed the door shut, waking the other ones.  "You're disgraces to the uniforms."


Xander was in his warehouse that night, which had a lot of security advantages.  Including the fact it was so large no one could find the apartment portion he had set up.  The cats were resting there after earlier.  Tara had picked them up since he had been at the station.  Now Xander was cleaning weapons to calm himself down.  He looked up when someone flashed in.  "I don't give a damn who brainwashed her."

"It's not...."

He stared.  "Really?  You want to tell that to my new fifty-eight stitches?"  She flinched.  "I don't care.  Please go."  Willow nodded and took the baby back with her.  Xander went back to cleaning weapons.  He heard someone come in and the alarm was readjusted so it was someone he knew pretty well.  Or Dean and Sam.  As it turns out it was Sam.  He shrugged when Sam walked in and looked at him.  "I don't care."

"I wouldn't.  Who called?"

"Willow showed up with the baby."

"She needs to quit before the baby gets a magical charge."  He sat down beside him on the old sofa, getting comfortable.  "You need to talk?"

"No, I need to beat the shit out of someone.  I'm in no shape to do it though."

"That's a good point."  He saw the flinch when he touched him.  "I've never hurt you, Xander."


"I get why."  He pulled him closer to hug him.  Xander finally relaxed against his side, which made the cats happier.  One came over to sniff at Sam and laid down in their laps.  "Hi, friendly."  He petted her too.  He was stroking over Xander's hair too to calm him down.  It was clearly a bad day all around.  He was good at comforting after bad days.


Xander and Ezra were in the middle of the amusement park, smiling and laughing at some kids running around loudly when they got brought back.  He grinned at the guards.  "Best date night ever," he whispered, kissing Ezra.  Who smiled back.  "Let's watch some tv with the dogs?"

"I could like that, yes."  He walked up there while Xander handled the press secretary doing the potty dance waiting on them.

Xander looked at him.  "Problems?"

"Which world leaders are you inviting to the wedding?"

"None."  He walked into the press room.  "Guys, to clear up a rumor.  Our wedding is not a national event.  It's not for other world leaders.  If we had wanted other world leaders and an event like that, we'd be having it here at the White House.  Since we're having it in Denver, it's a personal, private event with friends and near family.  No world leaders are that close to us."

"Cole in England?" one offered.

"We're very tight acquaintances.  A friend is someone I'd get up in the middle of the night to help dismember a body.  An acquaintance is one I'd wake up to talk to if they needed me to.  We're on that level.  I'll listen to him bitch but if there's a body to chop up I'll get to it in the morning."  They all laughed.  "The only internationally known person invited is a general who saved my life twice while I was in Africa.  Okay?"

"Are your parents invited?"


"Is his mother?"

"Don't know.  That's his part of the guest list and I haven't seen it yet.   Ask him."  He smiled.  "To help cure the slighted egos from not making this a public ceremony, we have decided to host a charity dinner a few days after we get back from our honeymoon.  That will let anyone who wants to bask in our newly wedded bliss come help us help some children that need it."

One reporter raised her hand.  "You're going where on your honeymoon?"

"Nowhere you guys will be allowed," he said dryly.  "We're not traveling if that's what you're asking.  We just want a few days of quiet and then I'll be back behind the desk."

"So a very short honeymoon?"

"In a few years I'll have all the time I want for a real honeymoon."  He grinned.  "Anything else pointless?  You're ruining my mood from the best date ever."

"Any details you want to slip?"

"I never want to slip any details."  He walked off, leaving them wondering.  He went up to cuddle with Ezra and the dogs, who gave him confused looks.  "I know he had cats," he said, petting them.  "They fit in your lap, unlike you two."  They settled in to lean on and across them.  Ezra kissed him.  "I laid down the law about it not being for diplomats."

"Thank you."

"They wanted to know about your mother coming; I told them to ask you."

Ezra smiled.  "I'll ignore them for a few days."  He started the DVD player and it was nice.  Very good for them as a couple.  Even when Chris Larabee walked in and scowled.  "We were at an amusement park."

"That's good."  He looked them over.  "Get comfy, guys.  If an emergency comes up tonight, Evan's pissed off in the office."  They grinned so he left them alone.  He knew that smile on Ezra's face.  He was quickly coming to realize Xander's version of it too.


Jack O'Neill got back from arresting someone for having plots against him and the SGC to find a message waiting on him.  From someone who looked a whole lot like Xander.  He started the video message and watched, giving the monitor a horrified look.  "No, no no no no!  Hell no!" he shouted.

His assistant looked at the closed door, shaking his head.  "Wonder what Landry did this time," he muttered, going back to his duties.  Which included making a report on what the general was doing.


Six weeks later, on Atlantis, John got the video tape and sat down to watch it in the tv room.  The very Xander looking guy, who was older and only had one eye, was giving him that pitying look.  That boded ill.  Then he heard why.  He started to whimper and moan, curling up on the couch.  The Marines in there with him were so scared they called McKay down to figure out how to kill whatever was doing it to him and put the base on lock down.

McKay walked in.  "What happened?"

"He turned on the video tape and is acting like it's going to eat him."

Rodney rewound it and stared.  "That's Xander."  He turned it up so they could all hear, not just John's bug-enhanced hearing.  He stared, whimpering too.  "Oh dear Newton that's horrible!" he shouted.  "Major Lorne to the tv room for a portent of doom," he called over the comm.  He came jogging in, already armed.  McKay rewound it so he could hear it too.

"I'll die out here," Evan said.  "If O'Neill is ever elected president.  Just in case."  John started to nod violently.  "Calm down, sir.  We can both die out here."

"Yup," he managed to squeak out.  "Do we think O'Neill heard?"

Rodney ejected the tape and took it with him.  "I'll mail it to him.  Just in case.  You two calm down.  Take the base off lockdown, boys.  He got some potentially bad news."  Woolsey was staring at him in a 'give me what I want to know' way.  "There was another Xander that showed up for a while."


"I don't know but in his world, he was first John's Vice President and then took over the Presidential job from him."

"Of what company?" Woolsey asked.

"The United States.  Sheppard and O'Neill served first."

Woolsey shuddered.  "That's a very bad thought.  Jack O'Neill would ruin the US.  Can we stop that from happening?"

"I'm going to email this to O'Neill immediately."  He got into the camera that taped but you could hook up to a computer to turn the tape into a digital copy.  That he emailed down to earth and O'Neill's inbox.  That way they *never* had to see John Sheppard as president here.  That poor world must be insane!


O'Neill met with the president after getting Rodney's email, looking at him.  "Sir, was there another plot that I needed to hear about?"

"I've heard some rumors that someone wanted you to take my job?"

Jack moaned, shaking his head.  He used his new tech toy to get into his email.  Carter had claimed he wouldn't be able to ruin it unless he threw it onto a freeway or drowned it on purpose.  He showed him the video message.  The president watched, giving him an odd look.  "I have no idea, sir, and it's not really on my agenda.  Or on Sheppard's agenda.  I'm told he went into such a bad state they locked down the city until he could calm down."

"That's good to know."  He smiled.  "You do have that scary nature; no one would screw with the US again."

"Sir, do you remember me messing up paperwork for the program?" he asked dryly.  "And how many problems I caused there?"


"Do you really think I wouldn't screw up this job horribly worse than that?"

"No," he admitted but he smiled.  "Are you sure?  I probably can't get you the right notice for this upcoming election, which is a shame because we have idiots running who want to cut your program, but the next one definitely."

Jack stared at him.  "If they cut our program, I'm letting Sheppard fly Atlantis back here and letting the wraith follow."  He smirked.  "I hate politicians, sir.  We all know that."

"I know you consider them a disease, General.  Relax.  I'm only teasing."

"That's fine, sir.  Beyond that, I'm much too ugly for the White House jobs.  You need pretty people that others look up to."

"Do you think Sheppard might come around to save your program?"

"No.  John's a warhorse, like I am.  Now, Evan Lorne.... he does have politicians infecting his family tree."

The president laughed.  "I know him.  I'll ask."  Jack smirked.  "It would solve a lot of problems."

"So would a good attack but we hate to let one happen."

"Any idea if there's any demon ones coming up?"

"I can't get hold of Harris right now.  Not since Finn's thing at his house.  Which means he's probably in protective custody, I hope, and I left a message for a detective we both know to ask."

"That'll be good to know."

Jack tapped his comm earpiece.  "What's that, Walter?"  He listened.  "How in the hell?" he muttered.  "What did the huge, scary looking demon want?"  He listened.  "I see.  All right I can talk to him and make him quit worrying everyone.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "The demons are worried because Summers was recently brainwashed and Harris is being thought of as depressed.  There was a massive personal fight I'm told and he got injured.  Let me go to New York."

"Have fun, General, and ask Major Lorne.  His service would look good to the people."  Jack smirked as he disappeared.  As a precaution, he sent his own email out to the major.  He would make an excellent if fussy president.  He was handsome, young, but had ideas.  He could be very uniting for the earth.


Jack was let into the warehouse by Detective Ryan, who walked him back to the apartment part.  Jack picked up a cat who was out exploring.  "Are you supposed to be out here?"

"No.  They're not."  They found Xander sleeping for a change and settled in to wait.  The demon community in New York had come to him and Faith to talk about him needing something too.

Jack frowned.  "He's got a fever."  He got up to test his forehead.  "Geez," he muttered, calling someone.  "Doctor Lam, would you like to come check your favorite patient?  Yes, that one."  He hung up when she got beamed over.  "I don't know what happened."

"I do," Detective Ryan admitted, waking Xander up.  He blinked at them.  "Are some of those infected?"

"I took stuff," he mumbled, putting his head back down.  He checked, no cats.  "Are they loose?"

"They'll come back for food," Ryan assured him, going to pour some out.  Sure enough, it took a few minutes but they all wandered in to eat.  One even brought the mouse she had caught.  "Good job, Homer."  He petted her and closed the door.   Doctor Lam was muttering as she checked his back.  "Miss Summers was out of her mind and had him attacked by something huge.  Our block doc stitched him.  The one on his thigh is older by two days."

She stared at him.  "What one on his thigh?"

"Knife fight with a demon."  She cut his pants off him too, making him mumble something.  She checked, it was infected too.  "I'm seeing slime."  She cleaned it off and more appeared.  "That's not typical."

Ryan called Dean.  "I need a protection around Xander.  Someone is sending slime at him."  He listened, looking at the books in there.  He went to the office.  "Yeah, he has that second one."  He found the right page and some chalk.  He walked back, drawing around the room itself.  "It can stretch, right?  Around the room?  Doesn't have to be a circle?  Thanks."  He hung up and finished it.  It flashed mutely then went still.  He nodded and she cleaned it off, showing that more was coming out of him.  She cut the stitches and got some sterile water to rinse it out.  A small thing fell out.  "That's not his.  Our block doc didn't have to touch that."

"No, it was probably sent into it," she admitted.  "The others aren't deep enough for it to be hidden."  She packed that wound to finish cleaning it out and cleaned the others then came back to remove the packing gauze and rinse it again.  Then she repacked it and bandaged it.  "I can't stitch that up again."  She jabbed him with a needle from her bag.  "Antibiotic should help too."  She stroked over his head when he mumbled.  "I know, you don't like needles.  Sorry."  He shrugged and winced.  She found a few smaller cuts that looked more fresh.  One was even bleeding.  "Did someone take you to beat you today?"  He nodded, and mumbled something, trying to stretch.  "Oh, no."

"Concussion?" Jack guessed.

"No, his last one didn't make him mumble."  She checked for one anyway.  Small lump but nothing like that.  This time, someone took him, her, and O'Neill.  Which made them really unhappy when she opened up her specially trained can of whoop ass and helped the general beat them to death.  They got sent back before they all died but that was practical.  Detective Ryan was already calling Faith, who went to stop that.  Then he added a second protection he had found.  That started a small wind until he found where he had messed up and fixed it.  "You'd figure hell's winds would be warmer," she quipped.

"The long distance it traveled cooled it I guess," O'Neill quipped, grinning at the young detective.  "Thanks."

"I like Xander.  He's a really nice guy."  He came over to help.  "Xander?"  Xander blinked at him.  "Can I help?"

"Just go be safe and Tara gets the kitties," he said, closing his eyes again.

"No way in hell you're dying on us, kid."  He looked at the doc, who shrugged and shook her head.  "Want the ER?"

"Hell no."

"Okay."  He petted over his head.  Xander fell asleep again.  "I don't know, Doc."

"I don't either.  He's not that sick.  Though the infection is a worry."

"Scan him," Jack ordered.  "Detective, you don't see this."

"I do that sometimes.  Miss whole important things," he quipped with a smirk.

She pulled out a scanner to look him over.  She tipped her head.  "No wonder.  I need a knife and I didn't bring a scalpel."  Ryan found one and handed it over.  She tested it.  "It's sharp enough."  She pulled out the bone shard and scanned just that.  It was full of an antibody he now had.

"That's what's making him sick.  We need to get him into quarantine."  Detective Ryan called that in and got the cats settled in the bedroom.  Only one wasn't.  He even scooped and refilled the litter box for them.  The paramedics came in.  "Someone stabbed him with a bone containing this," she said, showing the reading.

"I didn't know we had those yet," the paramedic said, looking at it.  "That's neat."

She smiled.  "I'm SGC, boys."  They nodded, looking respectful.  "He's helped us in the past with something.  He's showing about ten parts per million right now.  That's enough to clearly make him sick as hell.  So let's get him set up in a quarantine room at whichever hospital is supposed to do that."  She wrote out a note.  "For the virologist they had *better* call."

"Go," Jack ordered.  She nodded, going with him.  The note got tossed out.  Jack called someone.  "Tara, Jack O'Neill.  We found an infected bone shard with something.  Doctor Lam is taking him to quarantine.  Yes.  Not bad, not too horrible but just in case.  Yes.  The cats are here at the warehouse."  He saved the nice detective from the one that had pounced his head and shoulders, putting her back on the bed.  "Thanks, Tara."  He hung up.  "She'll come watch them later."

"Sure.  Let me tell Beckett."  He left with the general, closing up the warehouse again.  Tara had keys and the alarm code.


Paula stomped off the elevator at the hospital.  "Who did it?" she demanded.

"Not sure yet," Beckett admitted.  "It's been a hell of a day for him, literally."  She stared in at the bubbled off room.  Xander wasn't totally sick but he was in pretty nasty shape.  "This should go really well with the other two he carries."

"Is there any chance he did that to himself?" a doctor asked.

"No, he was working construction and fell into a burial chamber of some natives.  That was back in Sunnydale."

"Oh.  How did he get this one?"

"Bone shard but he's been attacked a few times by demons.  We're pretty sure it was one of them."

Dean strolled up.  "You'd be right but Sammy found them and threw a fit to end them all.  Dad helped.  Some of the other hunters helped too.  Especially when they found out that this was the start of an attempt to plague the world with it returning."  He gave the doctor a smug look.  "They've been ended and only one group that keeps trying to take him is still around but Dad's off pounding the shit outta them right now."

"Good," Beckett and Paula said.

"How long will he be down, Doctor?" Paula asked.

"Are you his girlfriend?"

"He doesn't have one.  His near-sister has medical authority."

"His family...."

"Drunken shitbags?  Who're in jail?" Beckett said dryly.  "His father drunkenly wandered up to the building he thought his son lived in and tried to kill the resident who had a similar name to him.  No, you get his near-sister who has the paperwork or you get me.  That's what the judge said."

"Tara hasn't been by?" Dean asked.

"Twice but she's been crying non-stop," Beckett admitted.  "I think she's about to help your dad."

"She did that earlier.  That may be why she's crying."  He looked in there.  "He's back and awake."  The doctor looked and moaned, going to check for new injuries.  He texted his father.  Who said he was working on it.  Then a minute later that Tara was there and pissed off.  Possibly possessed too.  "Huh."  He let the ladies see.  Xander glowed and they all sighed when his readings went back to normal.

Tara reappeared a few minutes later, with a black eye and a small rip on her shoulder.  "I believe they're not going to do it again," she said quietly.  "Or else there won't be any more of them."

Beckett looked at her.  "Want the ER?"

"No," she pouted.  "Xander does our stitches."

"I can," Dean offered.  "You guys fussed over ours."  She shrugged, still looking pouty.  "C'mon, we'll go to the warehouse and clean you up then come back.  I'll drive.  No smelly cabs."  She nodded and let him take her there.  "Did you take a few vacation days from the library?"  She nodded.  "That's cool.  Your library always smells nicer than the other ones."  She smiled at him.

Beckett and Paula both shared a look and shrugged.  Doctor Lam came up to where they were waiting.  "Tara went with Dean to get cleaned up."

"That's wonderful."  She smiled.  "If she could stop it, more power to the young woman."  She went in there.  Xander growled at her.  That's how they realized she was a shape changer and her image flickered.  That doctor knocked her out and they found the original knocked out in a closet.  So it was a lot of drama.  But Xander was getting better.


Doctor Lam looked at him.  "If one more thing happens to you, we're going to recruit you and you can send your publisher books from Colorado."

"They'd like me too much," he said weakly.

She smiled.  "We'd adore having you on base, Xander."  She stroked over his hair.  "You'll be just fine with some rest."

"Can I go home?"

"Not for another two days.  Then you can sneak home.  Right now they think you might still be a bit contagious."  He nodded, settling in better.  "Good boy."  She gave him one last pet and a kiss on the forehead.  "Feel better soon and I'll call to check on you in a week."

"Yes, Carolyn."

"Good boy."  She smiled and got beamed out.  Which caused a machine blip but that was fine with her.

Xander looked at himself.  "At least nothing fell off."  He relaxed again.  He still felt like shit, but he hated hospitals.  And it looked like he'd have to do something about the apartment again.  Well, that would mean Tara could quit paying him back for it.  He'd talk to her later.  He had put all that money into an account for her.


Rick smiled at the reporter who was stalking him around the city.  "Yes?" he asked.

"How is Alexian?  I know you two are friends."

"He's going to be just fine.  He's still tired and a bit sleepy but they're releasing him soon to go nap at home."

"Is Tara still living with him?"

"No, she's found a wonderful girlfriend who puts up with the cats she's allergic to."  He smiled.  "I'm sure Tara will be popping in on him when she can."

"Was that caused by a demon?"

"Yes, one who wanted Xander to go out around people and make them sick.  Unfortunately he didn't know that Xander doesn't manifest illness the way some people do and he's never around people unless it's a signing, which thankfully he didn't have for a few days.  Otherwise he might've forced himself to get up and go thinking it was the flu or something."

"So he'll be fine?"

"He'll be just fine and probably moving."

"There's a story about his father nearly killing someone right after getting out of jail for blackmailing him?  Do you know anything about that, Mr. Castle?"

"I believe his father was looking for him to thump him around and found a fake address online.  He was drunk and went there, then decided to get mad when his son didn't show up.  Or so his statement said when he pled yesterday."

"Does Alexian know?"

"I have no idea."

"Are you going to visit?  If so, tell him we're all pulling for him."

He smiled.  "I'm going to bring Alexis to visit later.  She's been helping Tara and her girlfriend cat sit.  I can tell him that."  She beamed and bounced off.

Beckett looked at him.  "No self aggrandizing?"

"There's no need for it.  This time it's all about him.  I heard he even asked for his laptop the other day."

"Are you going to help him apartment shop?"

"I think he's going to the same person that helped him last time.  She got him a really sweet deal on that place.  I think my mother introduced them."

"His last place was huge by New York standards."

He smirked.  "It belonged to one of his bad girls."  She snickered, shaking her head.  "I have no idea if he'll rent it out or be able to sell it."

"Too bad I have a lease."  He grinned.  "It's huge.  Has nice tubs."

"It does, yeah."  He put on his sunglasses.  "If I needed to downsize, I might take it too."  He walked off to his car, going home.  Alexis was bouncy and waiting on him to get home to bring her to the hospital.  They wouldn't let her in alone since she was under eighteen.


Tara looked at her girlfriend.  "I have an option to decide on."

"About what?"  Beth put down the spoon she was stirring soup with.

"About the old apartment.  Xander wants to sell it.  I had been paying part of the mortgage, which he's put into an account for me.  Or....  I can decide to buy him out and use that as a down payment."

"Your old place is huge."

She nodded, pushing her hair back but smiling.  "And if we take his room, it has a nice closet too.  Plus we can have a puppy?"

Beth smiled.  "I wouldn't mind a puppy."  She took a kiss.  "Can we afford it?"

"He won't be mean on the price.   Or on the payments.  I've already paid about three thousand."

"Honey, your old place is worth like half a mil or more," she pointed out gently.

"Xander only paid three hundred thousand."

"Seriously?  Because that's a steal."  She grinned.  "Used to be one of his bimbos'?"

"His bad girl society had a member who owned it but it needed some updating."  She moved closer.  "It'd be bigger than here.  I decorated it.  The association fees are only a few hundred a month and we'd only have to pay for cable and phone beyond that."  Beth smiled.  "Plus our books can have a home."

"They can, yeah."  She took a kiss.  "I wouldn't mind but it's a big leap to owning something.  There's taxes and things."

"Is that based on value or on price you paid?"


"Then, if it's too much, can we rent it from him?"

"I think we could do that at the least.  Depending on how much.  After all, here is a slum with thin walls and a pretty steep rent."

She grinned.  "He offered it to me for eight hundred plus fees."

"That's less than we pay now total."  Tara nodded.  "Think he left any of the creepy little muses that make him write all night?"

"I hope not.  I'm not that sort of literary."  Beth snickered and hugged her.  "Can we check on how much taxes are?"  Beth nodded and showed her how to do that through the city hall website.  She had helped design it.  They looked it up and it was a once-a-year expensive payment but not too bad.  Tara asked Xander how much he paid and he gave her the right code for them.  It was different than the mail address.  She put that in and it was a few dollars less but not by much.  "We can save a little each payday," she said, staring at it.

Beth nodded. "We could.  Or rent for now.  He'd probably let you count any rent toward payments."

"He would, he said he would."  She considered it.  "I'd think it'd be fair if we popped for that fee as well though."  She looked at her girlfriend.

"Buying a house together is a huge thing, Tara."

"I know."  She patted her.  "But I'd be buying it and if you wanted to, we'd work that out."

Beth kissed her.  "Let's rent for now and when we're both ready we can buy it off him."  She nodded and they went to talk to Xander at the warehouse.  Xander had the lawyer for the probates that were still ongoing that could handle that paperwork for them.  They were rent-to-owning it like at the furniture rental places. With much nicer terms than any bank gave.  Two percent interest a year?  Hell yeah!


Anya smiled at the being she had summoned.  She was out of the convent to talk to this very important being.  "Angel Gabriel."

"Anyanka.  I have watched your turn around.  Faith and charity suit you, child."  She smiled.  "You said you needed to ask a favor?  For a parishioner?"

"I have one who I have proved faith to, that has helped her," she said quietly, as she had been taught.  "But no, this is a slightly more selfish wish but it will do humanity good."  He looked pissed off.  "The last demon plan to use my ex-boyfriend.  The one who helped me figure this out."

"I heard," he admitted.  He rolled his eyes.  "Hunters cause us problems."

"I wish to find a way to make sure that no demon plot can ever hurt him.  That no demon can hurt him unless he's in a battle or actively fighting against one."

He stared at her.  "Which would give him an out if he's hunting and would keep them from using him for another apocalypse attempt."

"The last two have been ruinous for a lot of people.  Demons coming to notice made a lot reach for faith but it's in panic, not in belief."

"Which would taint the power flows," he agreed.  He stared at her.  "You are still a crafty woman."

She grinned.  "Now I use it to help our convent raise money."

"You do a good job from what I've seen."  He stared at her.  "An angelic wish is a powerful thing."

She gave him a sad smile.  "In return for his curse on me to find peace in faith and charity, I cursed him to find groupies he'd hate so he'd have to come back to me.  I was ill then."

"I heard."  He patted her on the cheek, earning a smile.  "I'll see if one will grant that.  Having him out of the way of any higher being plot and plan might be nice."

"As long as he can still choose to fight for what he believes in."

"I'm sure he would even if we popped around to tell him to stop it.  Summers tried again."

"Buffy needs to find a proof of faith again.  She's very old for a slayer."

He nodded.  "She is and it's affecting her badly."  He smiled.  "I'll ask.  That's not as selfish as you had stated."

"It's a desire I should not air."

"True, but you can still love your ex-boyfriend and the Lord, Anya.  It's not cheating to find someone who comforted you before you took your final vows."

She smiled.  "Thank you.  The Reverend Mother said it was cheating God."

"No.  Your past is part of what made you who you are.  All the good and the bad parts."  He winked.  "I'll point that out to her."  He disappeared.  That was an interesting wish and would keep him out of their hair too.  Though he was a seer....

Anya sipped her tea and packed so she could go back to the convent.  Perhaps she would switch orders to one that suited her more.  This one did some charity work but not like some of the others.  Though she could not go to India.  She hated leprosy and had caused a few cases when she had been a demon.  She didn't think she could handle that now.


Xander looked at the judge.  "What?" he asked.  "What if I want to sell it?  It's not really my taste.  It's like the Addam's family moved to NYC."

"Surely some fixing up...."

Xander held up a hand.  "I know I have to move right now because of the death threats on me, but I'm also just out of a long illness, Your Honor.  I was in quarantine for two weeks."  The judge shuddered.  "I can't afford to fix that up and I'd probably end up burning it down because the walls have blood on them and in them.  She was doing bloodletting rituals to raise power.  There's no telling how many people she killed in there."

"Not that house.  I'd never let anyone live in that house, Mr. Harris.  Her will states the one just off downtown.  The old Victorian one that the deed states used to belong to some uppity jewelry designer back in the day."  He handed over that document for him to look at.

"Is that the one with the fountain on the roof?"

"Yes," his lawyer said quietly.  "It's a huge house.  It'd solve the problems."

"The taxes are probably more than I paid for my last one."

"It's mostly furnished," he offered.  "A lot of antiques."  Xander looked at the judge.

"Those you can sell.  She said you can't sell the house for a year though.  She requested that you live in it."

"I guess I can try.  If it's as bad as the other?"

"You let me know and I'll approve of breaking that clause," he promised.  Xander grinned. "Plenty of room for the cats I heard you had."  Xander held up four fingers with a nod.  "Then yes, definitely enough room and that fountain is supposed to be around a garden."

"I guess I can and decide if it's too bad to stay in," he decided.  "If I must."

"You should or I have to void the whole will and it will leave it open to complaining."

"I know someone wanted that other house.  I don't want anyone to have it."

"I can agree with that.  So will you comply?"

"If I must to make it easier."

"Thank you, Mr. Harris."  He signed the orders and handed over the paperwork.  "Now, is this the last of the probates you have to attend?"

"Two more," he sighed.

His lawyer smiled.  "Both of those are straightforward but with Judge Billers."

"He's out with the flu this week.  Let me see if Judge Adkins can fill in since he's doing so."  He called over there.  "Adkins, Percewood.  I'm here with Mr. Harris.  Yes, over those.  Do we really want to know what Billers would demand of him?" he asked dryly.  "Since he hates that he writes fantasy novels."

"He tried to force me to give up writing before and I turned him in to the state ethics board," Xander admitted.  His lawyer gave him an odd look.  "It's not right for him to try to take away my perfectly legal livelihood because he hates fantasy novels."

"No it's not," the judge agreed.  Adkins apparently agreed with him and looked over them.  "They're in my office, I can send them down to you.  Thank you."  He hung up.

"We'll go see him in his office.  Thank you, Judge Percewood."  They shook his hand and took the final papers with them.  "Hopefully those don't have any funny clauses."  Xander looked at him.  "I haven't seen any but one had an older will that could be pulled up."  Xander nodded.  They knocked and walked in when they found it.  "Judge Adkins, this is Mr. Harris."

Xander shook his hand.  "Thank you, Your Honor."

"Judge Billers is an idiot," he admitted.  "He earned his JD on his father's name."  He looked them over.  "I see no counter claims have been filed.  I see nothing out of the ordinary."  He looked up.  "What do you plan on doing with this estate?"

"Selling it for his fees," Xander said bluntly.  The judge smiled.  "He's taking a third and those two had some things that could nicely pay him."

"I've been taking my fees out all along, Xander.  Don't worry about it.  He's sold most of the rest, Your Honor.  To be honest, they were all his ex girlfriends and not really well wound."

"Yes, I've seen the others.  How did that happen?"

"We think it was a curse," Xander admitted.  "I'm not sure by who because that was never fully examined.  I have an idea and the wish demon that helped me find the curse was fairly certain but not fully.  Now she's better though."

"Magic addiction?"  Xander nodded.  "Figures.  Does that female you live with non-sexually like that?"

"We had a huge fight about how I figured that out with the wish demon's help.  She had a smuggler and assassin who was pissing her off so she introduced us."  The judge burst out laughing.  "Tara's a very nice girl so she threw a fit.  For weeks on end.  We still don't talk about it."

"Most women probably would throw a fit, yes."  He looked them over again.  "Liquidation might not get you very much.  Where is the condo she owned?"


"The cars?"

"That should read custom designed cars," Xander said quietly.  The judge moaned.  "I'm selling the things I don't want just to pay the inheritance taxes and him," he admitted.  "Not that I wanted most of it but I definitely don't want the cars.  They're kinda... eww."

"I can understand that."  He looked over everything on the inventory list and nodded, signing off.  "Here you go, Mr. Harris.  I'll tell Judge Billers I cleared that from his calendar for you."  Xander beamed and shook his hand, taking the papers to sign and let his lawyer sign.  "Have fun with the auctions."

"The person I've worked with is very good," he admitted with a smile.  "Thank you, sir."  They left, going to Christies to talk to them.  They were expecting him after the hearing.  They came to appraise things and take custody of what he didn't want.  Which included all the antiques in his new house minus three things that he liked.  Including two uncomfortable bronze and steel park benches from the rooftop garden.

The lawyer came back from filing things everywhere and had him sign the titles.  That got faxed and it was done.  Xander called movers to get his stuff and some of the stuff from the warehouse, while he got the cats.  By the time he got back he was exhausted.  He and the kittens curled up on the couch with a movie and fell asleep to it.  He'd have to get curtains in the morning.  Plus comfortable chairs for upstairs.


Xander heard someone knocking and looked over the side of the building.  "I'm up here," he called, making Alexis look up, looking really confused.  "By her will I have to live in it for a year.  Fire escape on the side."  She nodded, walking around to climb up it.  He went back to fussing in the plants.  Two weren't cat safe so he had to dig them up.  He planted cat grass instead.  He had also started to put up a fence around the garden so the cats couldn't do something dumb and jump off the roof.  It was only three stories but no.  Alexis finally made it up.  "The other is way bad."

"Figures.  She was a bad girl."  She sat next to him.  "I could use some of this for my design class that was an elective I stupidly took."

"If it'll help, you can redesign the garden."  She beamed.  "Or help me find lounge chairs."

"I can do that.  Will the roof hold it?"

"The lawyer had it inspected before the hearing.  It's structurally made for the rooftop garden, all the extra water and weight, all that."

"Cool.  I see a pretty fence so the cats can't get free."

"Yup."  They shared a grin.  "I'll finish putting that up soon."

"You need to rest more.  You're still tired from being sick."

"Yeah, I am.  I get about three good hours of stuff done a day.  Though no muses.  That's starting to get worrisome."

"They'll show up later.  Dad wanted to know if you wanted to come to a poker game."

"I can't find my phone," he admitted.  She grinned and let him lead her downstairs to find the phone, his shoes, which the cats were napping on, and his wallet and keys.  Then he drove her home to get into the poker game.  He walked in.  "Hi, Martha."

"Xander."  She patted him on the cheek with a smile.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine.  Mostly.  Still haven't written in a while.  And I think I lost one of the kittens in a closet earlier."  She laughed, letting him help Rick set up for the poker game.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  He grinned.  "How is it?"

"If I could fight the Victorian fairy it'd be easier."

"I'm sure you can.  No muses?"

"Not since I got sick."

"They'll come back when you're better.  They always do."  Xander nodded and they settled in to talk until the others got there.  They were happy to see him there and chatted about muse problems and the new house.

"I'm about to let Alexis decorate since she said she needed a project for a design class."  They all laughed.  "It's a Victorian row house.  I won't change it into Austin Powers' shag pad or anything but something more modern maybe than them."

"They did start written pornography," Rick said dryly.

"Yeah that's because they wore clothes no one could get under.  Even my ex Anya said that."  One of the others gave him a funny look.  He smirked.  "She was a vengeance demon for over a thousand years."

"She was a lot like my first ex," Rick told them.  "That's why she liked him so much."

"She wrote me a letter the other day.  She's switching orders because hers doesn't do much charity work and mostly does it with kids, who give her hives."  Rick shook his head quickly.  "Apparently they wouldn't let her work in the abuse shelter anymore because she was giving spouses ideas about fighting back beyond a restraining order and counseling."

"Like hitting back?" one of the others asked.

"No, like giving them the name of a nice gun shop she could probably find something toss-away at.  I taught her that bad thing though so that's my fault.  She's thinking about going to Haiti to help rebuild or something."

"There's Mother Theresa's in India," Rick said.

"She sent a few people there over the years.  She said that would be creepy, her words."  He grinned.  A glow went over him and he looked up.  "Huh.  That's cute."

"Tara?" Rick guessed.

"No.  A wish source but a good one instead of a wish demon.  I wonder what that was about."  He texted someone, who asked someone else, and sent back to him.  "Anya asked a nice higher up to please remove me from any future apocalypse plans."  He put his phone back.  Rick patted him on the shoulder.  "Sorry, guys."

"I'm so using you in a story, Xander," one said dryly.

"Remember, I'm only cute, not handsome, and I date bad girls."  They all smiled at him for that joke.  Alexis bounced down.  "What sort of project do you have to do?"

"Designing a space sort.  Why?"

"Think you can fix mine for under twenty grand?"

"That's a lot of furniture to buy," she admitted.

"I can add more later but not Victorian."

"I can do a few rooms at least.  Maybe not all of them since you have five bedrooms."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "I'll come take pictures and measurements tomorrow.  Thanks, Xander."  She got her drink and went back to her room and computer to tell her friends that.

"If anyone likes Victorian antiques, all of them from the house that I didn't keep go up in five days at Christies."

"I saw that catalog," Stephen said with a grin.  "Some pretty stuff."

"Fairly gentler than I could put up with.  I kept a few really nice things but the couches, the beds, the chairs, all that stuff, not my style.  I swear I almost saw old lady ghosts sipping tea in Victorian gowns on one couch."  They laughed.  "Really!"

"Did they list it as haunted?" Rick joked.

"The house might be instead of the couch, not real sure."  They all smiled at him.  "Speaking of, Tara's next day off is on Tuesday and I'll turn over that other place to them after she's gone through it to make sure nothing can jump anyone."  Rick stared at him.  "I figured after a year, it's not going to matter much for DNA."

"Probably not," he admitted.  "Was that her torture house?"

"Yup.  And altar and other stuff."

"Only you can date someone like that," one of the guys muttered.

"Take pictures for me, Rick?" Stephen asked.

"I can do that.  I was going to take my own for a later reference."  They all smiled.  "Damn it, your muses are back, Xander."

"Not with me."

"They just bit me."  He got up to get some paper and pens for everyone.  They all knew that Xander was an idea generator.  "And that bunny has fangs now."  He sat down, putting things off to the side.  Stephen took some to write down ideas.

"Bunny?" one of the other guys asked.

"I was surfing online for strange sites and ran into a plotbunny.  They're cute, cuddly so you're not wary when they come up and bite you with ideas."

He shuddered.  "I don't even want to know about that world."

Xander shrugged.  "I got to explain that on the signing trip in Europe."

Rick nodded.  "He picked on me by getting me a stuffed one and a bunny mug."  They laughed.  "I swear it has fangs."

"If so, maybe it'll search out mine," Xander quipped.  "Since I haven't written in weeks and it's not apocalypse season."

"They'll come back," Rick reminded him.  He took down another note.   "Let us know when Tara can go through the house."  Xander nodded, tossing down some chips for his bet.


Esposito looked at the two kids once he had parked and gotten out of the car.  "How bad is it?"

"You'll want shoe covers and maybe a jumpsuit for some rooms," she said with a grimace.  "I've seen prettier sacrificial sites."  He grimaced but got some and went inside.  Castle got there to take pictures for his personal records, and for Stephen.

Esposito looked around.  "This is a nice room."  She walked him into the dining room area and he had to pause.  "Is that a real skull?"

"The one on the right is.  The one on the left is plastic."

"She was replacing them as she got suitable ones," Xander said.  He just nodded and they moved onto the kitchen, which had a dissection table with straps.  A nice drainage system that led to the back yard.  They checked the basement, which was dark, had shackles and a few bones.  All real.  They went upstairs and that's where Detective Esposito, who had been in Homicide for a few years, lost his lunch.   He had to run outside.

Rick took a photo and went to get some fresh air as well.  "Kids?"

"Seen worse," they said in unison then sighed.

"By the way, the last two rooms are the worst," Tara said.  "By my standards."

"Sure," Esposito said, coming back up with a breather mask as well.  Castle had his own.  He got a lot of pictures and they moved onto the last ones.  The next-to-last looked like it was fingerpainted in blood.  Every surface had streaks that weren't from spray or splashing.  There were fingerprints through them all and a bed that still had blood on the sheets.  And headboard.  And footboard.  And leather restraints.  And lamps and drawer.  Rick opened it to take a picture.  Esposito looked and grimaced.  Lube, yeah, that figured.

They went to the last one and Tara sniffled.  There were two small corpses in a crib in a closet with a shrine around them.  There was a decayed corpse on the bed.  Not a human one though.  The bathroom was pristine and all done in white enamel.  The closets were truly scary and looked like they belonged to a drag queen without taste.  Rick was taking pictures of the shrine.  "Why?" he asked Tara with a point at it.

"We think some of this was to resurrect them," Xander said quietly.  "But I'm not certain."

They nodded and left, going outside so he could call it in.  CSU, Taylor's lab even, showed up.  Mac Taylor got out and saw the clothes.  "That bad?" he asked.

"Yeah, we've already picked a spot to get sick," he admitted with a point at it.  "Upstairs is worse.  Last room toward the back of the house has corpses.  Our ride along author is having a lot of fun snapping pictures for a later reference file for himself and a horror author."

"I know enough so I don't need one.  Paula won't let me put that much detail into those things," Xander admitted.

"Someone might try to enact them," Rick agreed as he came out.  "Where's my flash?"  Tara found it for him and he went back in there to redo all the upper rooms.  They were really dark.  "Eww, there's entrails on the shades.  How did they do that?"

Mac got his people inside.  Castle at least knew how to act on a crime scene.  This would hopefully horrify the horror author too much to use.  They let him go and got to work.  The other lab came in to help.  The ME showed up and she was perky and nice.  Though reverent when she saw the bodies upstairs.  The parts she let them gather for her.  Mac came out.  "Xander, are you going to remodel this?"

"I'm thinking burning it down," he admitted.  "I don't think anyone would live somewhere that at least ten people lost their lives on purpose.   Especially not with all the work that needs done.  The insurance company is going to come through after you guys are done because she had a policy on the house."

He nodded.  "Okay."  They got back to work.  It took them hours to note everything and clean up the whole house.  By then it was dark and the light from the blood stained shades wasn't really good to work under.  They brought in their own lights.  They'd do one last check in the morning to make sure they got it all.  Tonight the PD could make sure no kids snuck in.


Esposito walked into the station that night.  "It was so totally sick, I even puked," he told the staring detectives.  "Just don't ask."

"Rick said the pictures showed up wonderfully," Beckett said.

"I'm sure whichever horror author that goes to will be *real* happy."  He sat down and took some antacids.  "Taylor's people even looked disgusted."

"That's sad," she decided.

"It was more than sad.  Though the possible resurrection altar in the bedroom was a bit sad."

"I heard.  He went home and hugged Alexis."  She got back to work.  "You missed a staged suicide."

"Can I go to that scene instead?"

Detective Ryan looked at him.  "I'll buy dinner."

"Bro, I can't eat," he said bluntly.  "I'm drinking dinner."

"I can buy you a few shots then."  Esposito nodded.  They got back to work.

Rick walked in with a CD.  "A copy of mine in case they wanted them."  He handed it over.  "That lemon trick didn't fully work."  He shrugged.  "There's a nice tea tree oil treatment that did though."

"That's good," Esposito said.  He sniffed himself.  "Do I stink like a slaughterhouse?"

"Nope," Ryan said loyally.

"Thank you."  He looked at him.  "Was he happy?"

"His exact words were 'eww, damn!' when he saw them."

"Yeah, mine too," Beckett said, shutting down that picture viewer.  "Want tomorrow off?"

"No, I think I want another hot shower."

"Go," she said.  He and Ryan left.  She looked at Castle.  "Will that really help?"

"Yeah.  For a few different stories actually."  He smirked.  "It's not often you get to see things like that done properly."  She shuddered.  "The sad thing is, they said they'd seen worse."  He left again.  He had a daughter to cuddle during a movie night.

She packed it up and went home too.  It was so bad.  She did not need or want to know.


Xander looked at the insurance inspector.  "How does the transfer of the property affect that policy?"

"It's still in effect since her estate has been paying for it," he admitted.  "Clearly the owner did something evil in there.  Though she had a policy rider for alternate religious activity damage.  We weren't sure why she'd need one.  Now we know to look at those others more closely."

"Sometimes it's things like a Buddhist shrine that only have a lot of candles," Xander said.

"True but this isn't."

"No."  Xander looked at him.  "What does your company want to do?"

"Settle for as small of an amount as possible thanks to that rider, or invalidate it if possible."

"I'm about to ask if I can burn it down."

"It can't be fixed," he said.  "Let me end that policy and see what I can do."  He moved to his car to call his boss and send him pictures of the damage.  With that speciality rider they might owe him something.  He came back a few minutes later.  "We conferenced in the regional manager.  He said because of that rider, it was acceptable to pay to burn it down."

"That'll work," Xander agreed, shaking his hand.  He called the fire station he had talked to yesterday.  They had gotten a few of the pictures.  "Hi, it's Mr. Harris.  Yes, the insurance guy said that the insurance pay off will pay to burn it down."  He smiled.  "We're here right now if you guys aren't busy."  He hung up and let them show up.  The borough fire chief showed up to see how bad it could be.  He came out green and shaky, agreeing to the burn; they didn't want any chance of anything in the house being recycled.  The department set up barriers and started it.  It was an old house.

They protected the other houses.  The neighbors were all watching but that was fine.  The insurance guy got the paperwork on the cost of the fire and his boss cut the check for them over the phone and agreed to send it the next day.  Within a half hour the house was done.  The insurance people had a clean up team in mind and they would haul it off to be destroyed so it couldn't be reused or recycled.  The fire department was happy.  The insurance company was happy.  Xander was happy.  The realtor he used showed up to take pictures of the lot.  It was all good.  Xander got to go home and wonder where his muses were today.


Dean watched the news.  "Isn't that the psycho house Xander inherited?" he asked.

"Yeah," Sam said with a smirk.  "They found parts from ten different bodies, three mummified ones, one of those demonic, and a whole lot of blood.  The insurance company was more than happy not to pay the full amount on her rider for supernatural damages and only paid for the fire and the clean up."

"So Xander really made out ahead?"

"Yup, and he does for the sale of the other stuff.  The lawyer takes thirty percent.  The auction house takes ten.  He gets the rest."  They shared a smirk.  "He has that new one to decorate though."

"Who's living in his old one?"

"Tara and her girlfriend, plus their cute new puppy.  Pound dog."  Dean just nodded.  "Beth's not allergic to them.  Miss Puppy is apparently very adorable."  He found a picture in his email and showed him.

"Yeah, that's a girlish dog."  He shook his head.  His father knocked and got let in.  "They burned the psycho house Xander inherited."

"Good!  Maybe it'll put the spirits in it to rest."

"He said he salted the floors first," Sam said.

"Even better."  He sat down to watch the news, seeing that dog.  "That's hideously cute," he said dryly.

"Miss Puppy is Tara's new dog."

"That figures."  Sam snickered.  So did Dean.  "Anything new?"

"Xander's got a haunting in his place," Dean quipped.  "It's driving his muses nuts."

"We can go back to New York," John decided.  The boys nodded and made plans to hit the highway in the morning.  John knew the way up there.  They'd take different paths to throw off anyone hunting the family.  Like usual.

Yup, the world was slightly back to normal again.

The End.

To next story

Back to Writers index.