Housing Roulette

"Why don't I have a game?" Rick asked Paula, his publisher.  "King has some.  Patternson has some.  Why not me?"

"Your stories don't really lend themselves to find-it games and no one's offered," she said dryly.  She smiled.  "Would it really matter?"

"Yes.  How can I say fresh and hip if I don't have things in the computer age?"

"You have ebooks, you have everything but a stupid game."

"I'll see if anyone's looking."  He walked off then came back.  "Does Xander have one?"

"Someone offered for Tral but it'd be screwy and not as geeky.  He offered to let them use a different one since they'd have to rate it too high for the target audience with the dwarf jokes."

He scowled but walked off.  Xander was going to have a book based computer game and he wasn't.  That royally sucked.  He had to fix that and called his poker buddy Patterson to ask him.  "Who did the games for you?  Because even Xander has one and I'm jealous," he admitted with a smile for the woman walking through the door he needed to use.  "If you can nudge them my way, I'd really enjoy that.  Thank you."  He hung up and went to the station to make more leaps of logic that not everyone listened to.


Xander looked up from his working on the rooftop garden, staring down at the front door where someone was knocking.  "Do I know you?" he called.

The man stepped back and looked up.  "Sir, NYPD.  Are you the owner?"

"Yes.  Why?"

"Sir, there's said to be evidence from some homicides here," the guy said.

"Talk to Detective Beckett.  Anything I found from the prior owner I handed to her.  She's in Homicide."

"Sir, could you come down here?"

"No.  Because I don't know you."  The guy held up his badge and Xander shrugged.  "I've seen three fake one of those recently from CIA agents who wanted to know if I could get them into a demon strip club to track someone, dude.  I recently inherited the house and everything she left went to Detective Beckett.  You can find her in the local homicide department along with her minions."

"I can get a warrant."

"You can do that," he agreed.  "But she's already got it all.  You're just wasting time and money since the last owner killed herself over a year ago and I inherited the house from my ex."

"Fine," he said, stomping off.

"I'll call Beckett to let her know you're going to visit," Xander called with a smile and a wave.  The guy glared.  Xander snapped his picture with his phone and sent it to Detective Ryan with a short note about him wanting things in the house.  Then he got back to weeding.


Detective Ryan looked at his phone, grimacing.  "Hey, Deloors is back," he said dryly.  "Bothering Xander."

"Tell Xander to drop boiling oil on him," Esposito said, calling him to see what was going on.  He looked at the picture.  "Xander, that's former Detective Deloors.  He's an idiot and got fired for making accusations and false arrests without evidence.  He got the department sued, yeah.  He said..."  He listened.  "Uh-huh.  No, he can't and I'll call someone.  Thanks, kid."  He hung up and called someone who knew that guy.

"It's Esposito in Homicide.  Tell Deloors that we have all the information from that house.  There's nothing in there that talked about her multiple homicides and the house where she did those, the Felony lab stripped it all and it's all with them.  And then tell him to show up and talk to Beckett.  Thank you."  He hung up and shook his head.  "I can't stand bad cops."

"At least he wasn't dirty," Detective Ryan said with a smirk.  "Just going with his gut to the point of ignoring evidence."

Esposito nodded.  "Yeah but that's still the wrong thing to do."  Beckett walked in reading an older file.  "Deloors is back."  She snorted, sitting down without looking up.  "Wanted to search Xander's house."  She looked up.  "Xander referred him to you.  I told his girlfriend to tell him to come talk to you as well."

She smirked.  "Just what I wanted today," she said dryly.

"Have fun with him."  They went to deal with some maintenance issues they had to do in the evidence room.


Beckett walked up to the man pounding on the front door.  Xander had told her he was back when his security system had told him and the circuit clerk's office had warned her that he was hunting in her protected civilian's back yard.  "He's at the store," she said firmly.  He turned and glared.  "And you're not a detective any more, Deloor.  Beyond that, I have everything they took out of this house and her torture house.  I know the guy who lives here, he inherited it after the psychotic woman killed herself."

"He's under investigation for being a terrorist," he said smugly.

"Funny, the FBI said he's not."  The man glared.  "They know Mr. Harris fairly well as well.  Especially after that battle in LA."  Xander strolled up the sidewalk with two bags.  "Wine?" she asked.

"Tara wanted me to pick up some.  She's making some wine and mushroom thingy for Beth."  He shrugged.  "It's their six month of living together anniversary."  He put the bags down and looked at him.  "Are you still here making assumptions?"

"You're under investigation for terrorism," he said smugly.

"Funny, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA said I'm not."  The man gaped.  "And they also said that you're not an officer, you're not employed by the government, and you're not even a licensed PI.  So get off my yard.  You have no right to ask for anything."

"Think this is against the old owner?" Beckett asked.

"Has to be.  I don't usually kill people.  Unless they attack me first."  He shrugged.  "Another plot, yay," he said dryly.

"Boy...." he started, growling slightly.

Xander stared at him.  "I survived *years* hunting in Sunnydale.  And then LA.  I'd get out of my face before I remember that I'm a combat vet, have been through multiple apocalypses, and I have multiple weapons on me.  Because guys like me, we're never fully disarmed."  The man stomped off.  He looked back at the car with uniformed officers pulling up.  "Yours?" he asked with a point.

"No."  She turned, holding up her badge.  "Why are you two here?"

"Detective, we were told this man is a terrorist."

"No, I'm not," Xander said dryly.  "I'm an author."  The cops stared at him and one looked scared, stepping back.  "That former detective decided I'm mean.  He's a pathetic excuse for someone who managed to bluff his way through the academy.  You real officers didn't have to lie."  They smiled at him.

"Sir, are you...  Alexian Harris?"

Xander grinned and nodded.  "Yup?  Did you get the new book yet?"

"My daughter likes Tral."  Xander beamed at him.  "Is your roommate here?"

"No, she lives in my last place since I got death threats and things."

"Ah," that one said weakly, nodding a bit.  "Detective?"

"He's not one.  He got his badge yanked away from him for false accusations and arrests.  Who said he was a terrorist?"

"Some agent told our boss," the other officer said.

"Get him down here," Beckett ordered.  "Please."  He called that in and they showed up, with a SWAT team.

Xander smiled and waved.  "The idiot decided I was mean because I told him Beckett had everything from the former owners."

"You killed twenty-nine people!" Deloors shouted.

Xander stared at him.  "What the hell are you smoking?" he asked dryly.  The SWAT guys all stared.

"Captain, what agent told you that BS?" Beckett asked.  "He's a fantasy writer."

"Who does, admittedly, know weapons," Xander admitted.  "But I'm also from Sunnydale."  The SWAT guys all stepped back.  "Yeah, I was at the invasion.  Calm down.  I'm not in a bad mood.  I have no idea what his issue is."

"The owner of this house killed twenty-nine people," Deloors insisted.

"That was the last owner," Beckett said dryly.  "Who killed herself about a year ago.  You moron!"  The SWAT guys just nodded.  "He handed all that information over to us.  He let us search the house where she killed people before he had the FDNY burn it.  The Felony lab did it."

The captain coughed.  "The person who told us he was a terrorist was an FBI agent."

She walked over and pulled out his wallet, holding up the badge.  "Somehow he got a copy of his old one.  He got his yanked after someone sued us for something just like this."

The captain nodded, calling in someone else, who was higher up.  He told them what was going on.

"I have butter in here," Xander said with a point.  "One of you guys watch me put them into the fridge?"  One of the SWAT guys nodded, hand on his gun as they walked in.  "Quit meowing," Xander called when the kittens started their unholy racket.  "Really, guys, I didn't abandon you."  He let them out of the bathroom.  "That was open when I left."   He put things up and tossed the bags under the sink.  He poured out some cat food, petting them all.  He changed the water too.  "There."  He smiled.  "We can go back out there."

"Sure," he decided.  "Four cats?"

"My former roomie's cats and mine.  Her girlfriend's allergic so I'm a stepparent."  They walked out and Xander relocked the door.  "There.  They're still shutting that bathroom door on themselves, Beckett."

"Your cats are good at that," she reminded him.  "They used to close closet doors on themselves."

"I know.  It kept trapping them in my closet organizer."  He pulled a chair out of the bushes and put it down, sitting down.  "There's three more," he told the officer next to him.  "I'm still healing from being in ICU and quarantine," he said at the dirty look he was getting.

"Someone tried to infect him with something," Beckett said.  "He's only been out for two weeks."  That officer quit scowling.  She looked at him.  "What tired you out?"

"Two blocks each way, heavy bags, in the rooftop garden all day."  She nodded at that.

"Sir, what did they try to give you?" that officer asked more quietly.

"Some strain of a lighter hemorrhagic virus.  Like a tenth of the strength of ebola."  He grimaced.  "It was a plan by a demon to get it out among the public when I went to sign books.   Fortunately a few friends found me with the fever and called a really good doc who got me to the hospital."

"Huh," the officer said quietly.  "Why would demons...."

"Because they're not real happy that I've taken out the bigger cocksuckers among them.  My team only hunted the bad ones, the hunters and those causing problems, but the higher ones think I'm a good toy."

Beckett looked back.  "There's been three that have appeared here in town, heard that we have a slayer, we have him, and fled for their lives before they could cause problems."  She looked at the new higher up that showed up.  "Sir."

"Detective.  Captain....  Deloors," he said with a sneer.

"Somehow he got Mr. Harris declared a terrorist, sir," Beckett said.

"We're sure he's not?"

"That's Alexander Harris," she said dryly.  "As in was at the invasion," he said when he opened his mouth.

"Oh, Jesus," he muttered, crossing himself.  "Mr. Harris?"

"I'm really amused since he decided I was the last owner of this house too, sir.  Especially since I inherited this house and let the nice Detective Beckett, who keeps arresting my dates, have everything from her.  Plus we let them go through her torture and killing house."

"That's very handy, thank you, Mr. Harris."

Xander grinned.  "I figured there was an open case somewhere and I didn't want it.  That's why we had the fire department burn it."

"Deloors has him as a terrorist, sir," Beckett said dryly.  "Told the captain he was one.  Which made him panic and bring SWAT."

"Harris knows weapons," the captain said.

"Yes, he won a lot through kitten poker games before.  We've agreed I have direct oversight of what he wins," Beckett said with a smile.  "The same as I get to arrest most of his dates for being evil."

Xander snapped his fingers and got up, opening the door and going inside to the front closet.  "Quit trying to get out, cat."  He handed the officer that followed two cases.  He brought out two more and carried the last one, then rescued the cats and put them inside before shutting the door.  "Won them last night.  They decided I'm not as shunned now, Detective.  I was going to invite you guys over next week for the house warming and hand them over then."

"Thanks," she said dryly.  "Do they work?"

"No idea.   I haven't gotten into them yet.  I only got back at three."

"Uh-huh.  Why aren't they in the storage area?"

"It's blocked off with police tape because someone tried to ram it with their pickup truck."

"I didn't hear about that," she said, walking over.  "Check them for me please, Xander."  He nodded, sitting on the steps to do that.  A cat snuck into his lap.  He looked down at her, shaking his head.  She took the cat and put it inside then shut and locked the door for him.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  He smiled.  "If you were more evil, I'd ask you out."

"I don't date in the office," she quipped back, walking off again.  The higher up was giving her an odd look.  She shrugged.  "The Captain said I could be his liaison since I get to arrest his dates, sir."

"What's wrong with him dating?"

"The last owner of this house was typical of them.  He's dated a few assassins, a few people smugglers, a few jewel smugglers."

"Only one," Xander quipped.  "The other one I found out and walked off.  She was gross and did slave demons."

"Did we get her?" Beckett asked.

"No, the guy in the FBI did."

"Okay."  She looked at him.  The higher up was shaking his head.  "They all want to sleep with him."


"He's from Sunnydale."

"Oh," he said flatly.  He looked at Deloors.  "What makes you think he's a terrorist?"

"There was an FBI agent, supposedly, who told me that, sir," the captain said.  "But they looked a lot like him."

"If I remember right, he had a brother that was," the higher up said with a glare for the idiot.  "Detective, you'd searched this house?"

"Yes, sir.  He invited us in to do that when we asked and he found a box of stuff in the attic.  We also got her storage area.  Taylor in the Felony lab did the house she killed people in."

"Even better."  He stared at the kid, who had put one aside.  "Do they work?"

"First one doesn't so he owes me more kittens."  He closed the case he was working on.  "That one does but it's not full."  He took the others to look over, nodding.  "These look like they do without me ripping them apart to check wiring."  He closed them and looked at the higher up.  "I have no idea why he thinks I'm the one that killed all the people she killed, sir.  All he said was that the owner of this house, meaning me, was a terrorist who had killed twenty-nine people.  She killed seventeen and ran over two on a sidewalk.   I've fully cooperated with Detective Beckett over her stuff because I respect her.  I even listen when she's trying to talk me out of something," he finished dryly.

"That number's not the usual round one," Beckett said.  "Who is he talking about, Xander?"

"The lady down in 235."  He pointed.  "She's working on number twenty-seven.  Some were more innocent victims but she's also a black widow."  He grinned.  "She hasn't even flirted yet."

"Good!" Beckett and the higher up said together.  Her minions showed up.  "Guys, grab those.  They're kitten poker debts and two don't work."  Esposito walked over to grab them.

"I was going to invite you guys over for the house warming and give them over," Xander said with a grin.  "Since the storage area is locked down."

"I saw that."  He and the SWAT guys got them into the trunk.

Detective Ryan opened his notepad.  "There's four people with homicide suggestions against them in this neighborhood."

"He said twenty-nine," Beckett said.

"That's the lady in 235 or the one up in the top apartment in 321."  He pointed at that converted house.  "He's supposedly part of one but there's no evidence, no proof, and no one else but former Detective Deloors thinks so," he said, closing it and looking up with a smile.  "The other one was never part of his caseload and none of the cases we tied to the former owner of this house were related to him."

"He's Patrick Grades," Deloors sneered.

"No, he's Alexander Harris.  We've seen pictures of him in grade school thanks to one of his friends."  Xander moaned and Ryan shot him a grin.  "Buffy sent them."

"I'm so smacking her around," Xander complained.

Esposito closed the trunk and came back.  "Who gave you the one without missiles and the one that doesn't work?"


"Uh-huh.  Don't let him get away with that."

"He still owes me about six thousand more cats," Xander said.  He looked at the higher up.  "Sir, I can be mean when I want to be, but my name in the Underground is the White Knight.  I doubt I'm a terrorist."

"No, I've never heard you were," he said.  "Send Deloors to the ER to be checked for brain tumors and things since he's convinced he's someone else.  Harris, you're to hand those things over the same day."

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you."

"I was waiting until I got the rest paid to me."

"I don't care," Beckett said.

"We can make more trips," Ryan said with a smile.  "See how good the littler Castle did."

"She's nearly done."

"Wonderful," Beckett said.  "School project," she told the higher up since he looked confused.

"Ah!  My daughter had one of those years ago."  He nodded.  "All right.  Boys, have an easier day in Rapid Response.  He's got good oversight."  They nodded and left.  "Captain...."

"I'll take him in and look at that agent, sir."  He walked off.

"Thank you.  Boys, nice work staying calm even though this was really strange."

Xander shrugged.  "I've seen worse."

"I'm sure you have.  You do know that it's illegal to own more than three pets?"

"One's mine, the other three are Tara's, but her girlfriend's a bit allergic so I'm babysitting."


"They're well taken care of, healthy little begging mooches," Beckett said with a smile.  "I don't like cats and they love me."

"All of us," Esposito said.  "Tara's brought one in by accident and it tried to adopt our unit, sir."

The higher up nodded.  "Sometimes they can be like that.  My wife's likes to lay on my feet at night."  He shook his head.  "The former owner?"

"Died," Beckett said.  "Left him the house."

"All right.  That's reasonable I suppose."

"We all laughed," Ryan admitted.  "She wasn't the only one."

The higher up walked off shaking his head.  "All right then.  Let me go back to my office.  If you find that agent, deal with it, Detectives."

"Yes, sir.  If he comes back?" Esposito asked.  "He was a terrier."

"I remember."  He looked at the guy then at them.  "Hopefully they'll decide to hospitalize him for whatever's going on.  If not, handle it."  He got into his car and drove off muttering to himself.  New York had some really strange people in it.

The three detectives looked at Xander, all smirking evilly.  He shrugged.  "They owe me more.  I was going to give it over at the housewarming."

"Uh-huh," Esposito said dryly.

"I was."

"Anything else hidden?" Beckett asked.  "That wasn't really a great time to pull that out."

"If they had searched and found it, I'd be in a car right now," he pointed out.  "Pouting that the pretty silver jewelry I just got given was too tight."

"True.  Why can't they put it there?"

"They hate you.  They think you're mean."

"I am mean."  She smirked.  "Any others?"  He shook his head.  "Show us the armory."  They walked in with him, avoiding the pouncing kittens.  The armory closet was nice and deep.  Had things hung up.  Had two larger things not hidden and Ryan banged his shin on another one.  "What's that?"

"A baby I've had forever," he said with a grin.  "Since a double-date in high school."

The guys stared at him.  "You double dated in high school?" Esposito asked.

"And somehow got artillery?" Ryan added.

"Yeah.  I didn't have a car, Oz had a van.  I had base codes.  We had to get something huge to stop the demon trying to eat humanity's humanity so he could destroy them all.  No weapon made by man...."  He shrugged.  "It was a great double date.  Cordy and I had a lot of fun.  They thought I wanted to show her the bigger missile on top of the missiles."  He grinned.  "It's my baby."

"No," Beckett said slowly and clearly.


"No.  We can store it," she offered.

He shook his head.  "It's the only good thing I have left from Sunnydale, Beckett."

She huffed.  "I'll ask for dispensation.  For now, it's hidden in the office."  He pouted, petting it.  "Stop it.  Before I tell Castle."

"You know, I got asked if we were dating the other day," he said dryly.  "Apparently the reporter thought I'd make a good stepmom.  Alexis heard her and cackled for nearly an hour."

"I would too," Esposito said dryly.  "Put them in the car, kid."  Xander huffed but carried them out there.  Ryan got the invisible thing and tied his tie around the handle so they could see it later.

Beckett checked the other closets and attic.  And the basement when she found out he had one.  "What's this?" she called.

Xander looked down there.  "I have a basement?"

"I didn't know either," she admitted.  She came up.  "It's got a work table, some clamps, some files....."

"Sounds like sharpening her weapons sort of table."  He went down to look, coming up nodding.  "Yup and the filing cabinet."

She went to look in there, bringing up the few files she had.  "I'm going to ignore how you got that weapon, kid."  She held up one.  "We're missing a victim's profile."

"I had a date tonight," Ryan complained but they left, giving Xander a long look.  They got a shrug back.

Xander looked at the staring neighbors.  "Did we know the last owner killed seventeen people?"  They all shuddered.  "I only dated her."  He went back inside, making sure all the cats were safely napping in the living room.


Captain Montgomery walked out, looking at the new things his people were guarding.   "You can put them into the storage area tonight.  It's still on lockdown but you guys can sneak them in there."  Ryan pointed at his tie hanging in mid-air.  "Taylor wanted to know how."

"It'll definitely get him in trouble but had that nice apocalypse reason," Esposito said.

"He's very attached to it since it came from his best date in high school," Ryan said.

"Which one was Cordelia?" Beckett asked.

"The cheerleader one," Ryan said.

"Remember the story with the guy made of maggots?" Esposito asked.  "Her."

"The assassins sent after Buffy?" she said, trying to remember.  The guys nodded.  "Huh.  So she's the one in LA that he still talks to occasionally?"  They both nodded.  She looked at the captain.  "It will get him into trouble but it was extra apparently for an apocalypse thing."

"Which," Ryan said with a grin.  "I had Rosenburg look.  She found that particular thing in the mall in the Initiative's files."  He pulled it up and let her see it.

"So he planned ahead?" Montgomery asked dryly.  They all nodded.  "He's been hiding it all this time?"

"If I hadn't run into it with my ankle, he'd still be hiding it," Ryan admitted.  "He treats it like his cats."

"It was probably his only pet before Tara moved in with Miss Kitty," Montgomery said.  Taylor walked in, staring at the stack with the tie floating on top.  "It's his pet from high school."

Taylor stared at them.  "What?"

Ryan pointed at his tie and told him what they could without getting the kid arrested.  Not that it wasn't illegal but he seemed to need those sort of things now and then.

Taylor frowned.  "Can it go into storage?"

"There's a good chance it'll get used," Beckett said.

"He could've put it into the warehouse and we'd never find it," Esposito said.

"We'd like to see what else was in there," Taylor admitted.  "But I can't spare a week to go spelunking."

"Don't remind me of how freakish that thing is," Montgomery complained.  "The next one of you on injury leave gets to go take inventory for him."

"I don't think we'll find any missing persons," Ryan quipped with a grin.  "Even if you can get lost."

"Apparently his muses have," Esposito added.

"Still?" Beckett asked.  They nodded.

"He's not sure if there's something in there or if there's a ghost in his house and she's doing it," Ryan said, spinning his chair to face them instead of Esposito.  "He called the brothers back to have them check since he has no idea how to deal with that."

Beckett made a note.  "So we can handle whatever strange thing they have to pull out to fix that."

"Someone told me you dig up the graves and salt and burn them," Mac said.  They all stared at him.  "Horatio, down in Miami's lab, caught them being attacked while doing that."  They all moaned.  "So there's no telling where they'll have to do that since I'm not sure which owner of the house it was."

"That's going to suck," Esposito said.  They all nodded.  "Turner could help cover them some."

"Turner hates the DCIS series," Beckett told them.  "Said it's giving some officers ideas at the academy of being the NYPD equivalent."  They all moaned and shook their heads, even Taylor.  "Speaking of, we're asking everyone who knows the boy if they know anyone to set him up with.  Even Tara wants to set him up with someone."

"Even the other Xander we had for a while wanted him set up," Ryan agreed.

"Other Xander?" Taylor asked.  "Like how he visited?"

"Yup, only they came here and that one was the president."

Taylor tried really hard not to groan and rub his new ulcer.  "Thankfully ours probably won't."

"We hope," Beckett said with a smile.

"Maybe Flack needs a few days off to go exploring in the warehouse.  Are we bringing those to the storage area tonight?"

"We're debating the one he got on his best date in high school."

"He has a storage area there, let him store it there.  Or wherever the other things in the warehouse are."

"I'm pretty sure he played it straight and gave us most of it," Esposito said.

"Probably," Mac agreed.  "But we'll have him put up a locking bunker in the warehouse that has an alarm system that will alert us if it's opened."  They all smiled.  "That should solve all that and that can go in there.  That way we still have oversight, we get an inventory, all that."  They smiled and nodded, calling the kid to tell him that.  He had a bunker in there, it just needed an alarm system.  It'd be good for the boy to arrange things and do a full inventory of all the weird stuff in there.


Rick looked up from his reading on the dias.  It was convention time again.  "You're up here, kid," he said with a grin.  "You got elevated."

"Wow.  Really?"

"Yes.  C'mon.  It's just us this year."

Xander came up and sat down, looking over the room.  "Is it a smaller room?"

"It is," he decided.   He shrugged.  "We're always a well-filled lecture."  He grinned.  "Calm down, don't bounce too much, just act calm.   Like you do on the young adults panel."  People started to file in.  "Welcome.  Come in and sit down, guys."  A few gave them long stares.  He smiled once everyone was in.  "As you guys know, this is Newbie Tips for Writers."  He smiled.  "I'm Rick Castle.  This is my panel mate."

Xander smiled and waved.  "Hi, guys.  It's weird being up here instead of among you."  A few smiled but some were still staring.  "How about we get some questions going.  Anyone?" he asked.  No one said anything.  "Um...  No questions this year?  Nothing bothering you guys?"

"Calm down," Rick told him with a smile.  "Sorry, guys, he's nervous when people are staring at him."  He looked at Xander.  "I have someone new to introduce you to."

"Really?" he asked with a grin.  "Are they nicely evil or evilly nice?"

"More mildly naughty."

"I can take mildly naughty or lawful evil."  He grinned.

"Sir, some of us remember you from the thing out in the desert," one woman said.

Xander looked at her and nodded.  "That was me, but it's not something really pertinent to today's discussion."

"This is Alexian Harris, yes," Rick agreed.

"Those things aren't fun or really something I like to think about, guys.  Sorry if it upset you or something."

She shook her head quickly.  "You write?"

"A lot."  He grinned.  "For those of you who have them, muses are cranky little things."

"I don't really have muses," Rick admitted.  "I know it's something in my subconscious giving me story ideas, not like his."

"Mine are like little guys who sit on my shoulder and open a book to read it to me," Xander said with a grin.  "They can drive me nuts when they decide to get cranky because I want to do something unimportant like sleep or eat or go have fun."

"Is DCIS a real place?" she asked.

Xander glanced at Rick.  Who paused then nodded.  Xander nodded.  "Yeah.  I knew a witch that had a magic addiction.  I was rescuing her girlfriend from her.  She didn't like that and sent me there."  He cleared his throat.  "I did get permission from each and every person there to write it.  Some of the knowledge I brought back helped a lot in a few different matters but they all agreed I could write it.  As far as I know, none of the other series' worlds are real.  I've never met Tral and his happy band of fighters or been in space on a clan ship.  Though the Kindred people hated that I learned about their card game after I wrote that.  It caused a bit of problems for a few weeks."

"Are some of them here?" she asked.

"Yes, and a few have realized it even though I did change descriptions and names to protect the innocent and not so innocent.  A few some demons tipped off that they were in the books, a few figured it out when they read it.  I did put that nice disclaimer in the front that I did base them off people but changed as much as I could of their physical and clothing descriptions."

She smiled.  "Is it insane there?"

"On the base, no.  The girls were really sweet."  He grinned.  "The one that ended up being named Amber in the books, she had just given birth to her daughter, Mary.  The training family that had adopted her was really happy and bouncy about that."  Everywhere else had a bit of insanity but they did handle it."

"Wow," she said, smiling at him.

"Sir, when is the next space vampires book coming out?" a guy called.

"The publishers and I are having a difference of opinion on that next book.   They wanted me to break up the two gay couples, which I won't.  They wanted me to split the het couple and put them with others, which I won't.  I've rewritten it three times, almost completely different books, and they don't like them.  Since I'm obligated to only give them those books, it'll probably be after that contract runs out in two years.  Sorry."

"Then what about that book that just came out?" he asked.

"What book that just came out?" Xander asked back.

"By a Jonathan Lichter?  I think."

Xander shook his head.  "Never heard of him but that publishing company and I will be talking since the contract said that they have to get me to agree to any guest authors in my series.  So I guess we'll be talking later since I saw one of them here."

Rick coughed.  "That is one thing that a lot of new authors don't see."

"You may consider your characters sacred but your publisher will not," Xander said.  "They make money off us.  They want us to sell the most books we can by making it very salable.  Sometimes that seriously dumbs down or changes your story a lot."

Rick nodded.  "They do have the final word but you can put back in some things during edits.  That even happens to me."

Xander nodded.  "Our shared publisher doesn't often do more than move things around in mine but things like rites get taken out all the time.  Characters get toned down.  All sorts of editing things."

"So to them we're a product," one of the other women said.

"In some ways.  In some you're an asset.  In some, if you make friends with them, you're friends and they hate telling you that your newest novel sucked," Rick said.  "Ours does sometimes."  Xander nodded.

"Generally, the bigger, the more impersonal, but you'll probably be dealing with the same person editing and things," Xander said.  "You get assigned to someone."

She nodded.  "But still, they're going to change things on you?"

"They make a salary off your sales," Xander explained.  "In my books, I make twenty-three cents on each dollar.  They take ten more cents for advertising.  They take a cut for the editor I have on retainer, because he does a lot of the work for them.  The rest goes to the company to pay my publisher and the higher ups.  Paula gets, I think, thirty cents and the company gets the rest.  Basically.  The only way that changes is if you self-publish.  Which brings up a second point most people overlook.  When you publish something, and it gets read a lot or gets a lot of good reviews, you suddenly have a public image.  They'll tell you that you have one and how not to mess it up."

"Are you gay?" the first woman asked.

Xander paused then looked at her.  "Technically I'm bi.  I have dated guys in the past."

"You never see you out with a guy."

"Same reason," he admitted.  "I was told if I found someone I wanted to truly *date* date, then it'd be good but me going on multiple dates or getting some in the clubs for stress relief, things like that, would hurt book sales.  Truly, the higher ups in my publishing house hate me dating at all.  Because I tend to date evil things."  He shrugged a bit.  "They'd like me to not date anyone.  They especially didn't want me found dating multiple people because people don't buy books if they think you're a slut unless it's books about being a slut."  Rick snickered, nodding.  "So I was told to keep any first dates, male or female, out of the public eye.  If and when I find someone nice, it's all good as long as it doesn't look like I'm an easy slut.  It may impact some sales but there's already religious groups who hate me for writing fantasy.  Me dating a great guy will only piss them off more.  They'll burn me in effigy again like they did after the invasion."

Rick shook his head.  "Most of them have been warned," he assured him.

Xander grinned.  "Thank her for me."

"I will."  He looked at them.  "Yes, it's true.  When you get to be well known, the public expect you to act in certain ways.  Like professional sports stars and actors get, only we're not as well known.  I'm famous and slightly wealthy but I'm not a total household name like that basketball player that just changed teams who's been on the news for months."

"Basically, he gets to be goofy and happy, a really nice guy, in public and not really date in public either," Xander admitted.

Rick nodded.  "That's very true.  Reporters will jump on anyone you've been seen out at dinner or hanging out with and ask you all sorts of things.  I get that about him now and then because I'm his mentor."  Xander hugged him with a grin, letting Rick bop him on the back of the head.

"He's a great mentor," Xander said with a grin, cracking them up.  He sat up again.  "For years on end I sat down with you guys and asked a lot of questions.  Now I'm up here feeling a bit creeped out because you guys are staring and I have no idea what to do with staring.  Questions I can deal with but not just staring in awe or anything."

"Alexian gets a bit nervous about social things," Rick admitted, rolling his eyes.

"Is self publishing easier?" that girl asked.

"No.  You'll never make the big money doing that because there's no one promoting it, no articles in the press, no book reviews, no interviews, no signings."  She nodded.  "It's worth it, it really is, but sometimes you have to compromise or put up with a few things.  Like the clubbing thing.  I can go clubbing but if I pick up someone for some instant fun, I'd better hide it."  Xander nodded.  "Not only because it'd look bad to my daughter."

"I guess I can understand that.  Is there a strong moral code?"

Xander snorted and shook his head.  "Nope.  Some publishers won't care if your life is going to hell due to drugs or drinking as long as you're putting out good books often enough.  Some publishers will care and may drop you if you do that, but the bigger ones you're not as personally involved with."

Rick looked at him.  "Did your last date give you something?"

"It's possible.  For some reason she pulled out a bottle of lube that had a strange label and odor but I don't think I'm that goofy, am I, guys?"  They all shook their heads.  He grinned.  "I'm used to the young writers panels.  It's slightly different writing as a teenager or young adult."

"In what ways?" one guy in the back asked.

"As a teenager, a lot of us started to write to get things out of our heads.  To deal with things or to think on paper, maybe to go emo over their girlfriend.  As an adult, it's more a job than a 'getting out' thing.  I find I spend a lot more time in front of my computer this last year than I have in the past.  It seems to go up every year, which is why in another two years someone's going to find my skeleton behind my desk where I starved to death."

"Tara still calls to remind you to eat," Rick said.

"I know.  She did that earlier, warned me not to cut up too much here at the convention."  He grinned.  The crowd laughed.  "I adore Tara like a sister."

"The one who lived with you?"  Xander nodded.  "She's not now?"

"She found a very good friend and they're together so they moved in together.  I'm hoping it's a great love and that they're together for a very long time."  A few went 'aww' at that.  Xander smiled.  "But she does still call to remind me to eat."

"I'm getting you a reminder some other way," Rick joked.

"Maybe that one that you want to introduce me to will," Xander quipped back with a grin.

"How did you end up with Mr. Castle as a mentor?" one shy looking guy asked from up front.

"I sat about three rows back, always on the aisle," Xander said.  "For my first three conventions.  Plus we share a publisher.   He answered a lot of my stupid, annoying questions.  It just kinda worked its way up to where I could better stuff."

"Do you mentor anyone?" one of the ladies asked.

"I haven't been asked to.  If you guys write me an email, I'll definitely answer back but no one's really asked me to mentor them."  Xander grinned.  "I'm definitely not against it and if I can help someone who's having problems I will gladly do that."  They all smiled at him.

"Generally you want to find a mentor that you can talk to," Rick said.  "Someone who's a bit more experienced than you are so they can answer questions."

"He used to give me some pretty generic answers but I could work on them from that point once I had a starting place," Xander added.

"I didn't know you then, I couldn't offer in-depth ones," Rick teased.  "I had no idea that your muses were really that insane."

Xander nodded.  "Yes they are."  Most of the group cracked up and laughed.  "Are they still visiting you since they're not with me?"

"I think they're still scared of your new ghost."

"Sam got that the other day."

"Huh.  I don't know.  We'll see."  Xander nodded.  "If you want, you can have the stuffed bunny you gave me for a while."  He smiled an innocent smile.

Xander grinned back.  "I thought Arnold was helping you."

"He has.  I haven't written this much since I was your age."  Xander just grinned.

"So you two are decent friends too?" one of the women in the back asked.

"Yup.  His daughter decorated part of my house for me," Xander said with a grin.  "Rick knows everyone."  They all smiled at him.  Rick grinned back.  "The only reason I know anyone in New York is because of Rick.  I'm usually chained to my laptop.  I got to a museum for the first time since I moved last month."

"If you ever get to that level of writing all the time, definitely remember to start taking time for yourself," Rick said.  "He's been horribly sick and worried us all recently."

"That wasn't my fault," Xander said quietly.

"Not that.  When you caught the flu right after moving."

"Oh, that.  Well, that was partially my fault, yeah."  He shrugged.  "And I wasn't even writing then."  Rick gave him a pointed look.  "I don't know."

"We'll see if we can fix that."  He smiled.  "I worry about him.  He's like a cousin."  They all smiled.  Xander punched him on the arm.  "Any other questions?"  They clapped and went to their next seminar.  "Not the young author's panel this year?"

"Nope.  Dell's highlighting some other young one that just broke out in her first teen poetry book."

"That's fine."  They got up and walked off.  "Your contract said that they couldn't go to another author?"

"I'm pretty sure.  Paula should have a copy of that."  He called her.  "It's Xander."

"And me," Rick said next to the phone.

"And Rick.  Well, it went okay but I'm a bit bouncy.  Um, the people who have the space opera?  Can they go to other authors to write in my world?"  She looked that up.  "Yeah, we do.  A lot.  And I need a copy because they violated cannon."  He smiled.  "Thanks."  He went to talk to the registration clerk.  She'd know if he was here and who he was.  He sent him a message to meet him at a bookstore in a few hours since he was on a panel.  He hated to bash the young kid.  The guy found him in the middle of the bookstore.  "I think we have a problem, Mr. Lichter."  He looked up.

"Who're you?" he demanded.

"Alexian Harris.  You screwed up the cannon in my world."  He stared at him.

"But..." he spluttered.

"They didn't remove the part on the bondings being permanent."  He showed it to him.  "And I glanced through yours."  The guy moaned.  "Also, they weren't supposed to go to another author by my contract with them."  He smiled.  "I have nothing at all against your book.  Or you.  I'm totally cool with people working in my worlds as long as they ask and conform to the cannon for the most part.  I'm not going to sue you.  But they fucked up."

"That's not in the stories I got given," he said, looking at him.

Xander shrugged.  "They may have taken it out in later publishings but that's the last one in the paperback.  So they're in trouble."  The kid muttered and nodded.  "Like I said, I'm not against your or your book.  I'm not going to sue you.  I know they're frustrated with me because they wanted me to break up all the couples and they're going to have problems because my current agent and publisher is going to chew on them.  I've already told her it's not your fault.  I figured you either didn't read that book or they didn't give you a full copy.  So we're cool, but things are going to have to be worked out in a bridging book or something."

He swallowed.  "They only wanted that one from me.  I'm sorry."

"No, don't be sorry.  It's a cutthroat business," Xander said with a slight shrug.  "I haven't fully read yours yet, but we'll see if we can work yours in as an AU or something like a special mission maybe.  I don't know yet, but I'll try."  The kid grinned at him and Xander suddenly felt old.  "How old are you?"


"Huh, you look younger than me."  He grinned.  "It's cool.  Just be careful about that and make sure they know you know so they can't do it again."

"I got another one in another established series the other day but they said the author was dead.  They said you had quit writing."

"Dude," he said with a point at his section.  "Really?"  The other author looked and moaned.  "Yeah, I have a backlog with my publisher; I'm stuck right now but I haven't given up writing."  He grinned.  "It's cool, just be aware of that."   He nodded and bought that book, walking out.  Xander bought the other guy's book and went back to the hotel.  It wasn't a *bad* read but he thought he did better.  Though he knew he sounded like crap and it was only with heavy editing he sounded so good.  Like autotune for singers.


Paula and Xander walked into the meeting room, Xander smirking as he sat down and put the book in front of the other agents.  "I'm not really happy with you."

"You wouldn't...."

Xander opened the book and read the pertinent section.  He closed it and looked at them.  "Which made the other guy's book look like fanfiction."

Paula smiled.  "You are in violation of his contract with you.  He has given you three different books."

"People don't like gay couples," one sneered.

"Really?  It doesn't seem to hurt my hunters series," Xander said with a small shrug.  "The het or the gay ones, they've all done reasonably well.  Also, by the contract, you broke it by going to another author and without having my permission to write in my universe."  Paula pulled out that contract, those parts already highlighted.  "So we're going to have an issue.  I've already talked to him and found out you gave him stories without those pertinent parts."

"They're not in the official books," one sneered.

"They are.  This is from the last publishing of the paperback, earlier this year."  They all groaned.  "So yeah, it's mentioned in multiple areas."  He leaned his elbows on the table.  "So what're we going to do about this, people?  I'm in the mood to be pleasant, but not that pleasant.  I don't personally want to sue this guy, he didn't seem to know and he's not a bad author, plus I know you guys paid him very little for it.  He also checked the source material on the other one you gave him."  They slumped.  "So let's start talking solutions."

"You can bridge to that one since people like that more than the original," the head agent said.

"Sure, let's violate six books worth of cannon," Xander said dryly.  "For one mediocre book."  He shook his head.  "I can bridge to this one and it won't change things.  It'll be them traveling to another universe or something."  They all slumped.  "You played in my playground without permission.  Which is in violation of the contract.  You went to another author and didn't give him the right safety instructions for my play equipment.  Which is in violation of the contract.  And you violated the cannon, which would abridge the one saying that you could hand it over if I died but it was to stay in cannon for the series.  Which violates the contract.  I'm not in the mood to sue this guy.  You guys however...."

Paula nodded.  "You did violate the contract, gentlemen.  He may be young but he's not stupid."

Xander shook his head.  "No, I'm not.  I've been making a good faith effort to give you another book in the series.  With changing the openings, I have three new books in it."  They all glared.  "You didn't like them and that's your prerogative.  In two years I could've put them online or something."  He shrugged.  "You're still in trouble for this."

"We can sue you for not giving us what we want."

"If part of the story that's been printed says that you can't break up bonded couples without it driving them mad or killing them, then you can't really find a way around that.  I've given you three books that you didn't like.  I don't care if you don't like the couples in it.  You didn't have a problem a few years ago.  It's not even like they're the main couples in the series."

"People don't like gay characters," the lead agent assured him.

"And yet, one of my hunting novels, which had a gay main character, who actually had gay sex, twice, went to the top five.  Which is better than these ever did," Xander shot back.  "And one with a het couple went higher."

"He's right, numbers don't lie," Paula said.  "I don't care if this is because you got bought out or whatever."

"They were?" Xander asked.

"Yes, they were."

"Pity.  I respected the agent that bought them from my first agent.  He was honest and gave me good advice about Tral."  He shrugged.  They all glared.  He stared back.  "It's not my fault.  You guys knew there were gay characters in the first book."  He shrugged.  "For that matter, I had to hear from someone at a convention.  Which is a fourth violation in the contract.  So what're you going to do about this?  Because I'm quickly moving from pleasant mood down."

"Calm down, Xander," Paula ordered.  She stared at them.  "It was a stupid move, gentlemen.  He's in his rights to sue you all."  They got up and stomped out.

"Okay, see you in court," Xander said with a wave at their backs.  He looked at Paula.  "Online?"

"You can do that."  She smiled.  "They need some work."

"I know."  They got up and left.  "I still have no idea how I'll bridge this one."  She patted him on the arm.  "Do we think it's a curse?"

"I don't know," she admitted.  "The one that you have that other series with didn't do something like this."

"No, but they're nice people."

"I thought these ones were.  I think it's just the people that bought them out."  She smiled at him.  "I'll start procedures to sue them, Xander.  See if you can make the next book tie back into that one in the opening?  And then leave the second's beginning alone, then fix the third's so it's not the same opening?"  He nodded, heading for a cab.  "Still not writing?"

"No.  I'm thinking maybe I need laid."  He shrugged.  "I don't feel like myself either."  He flagged down a cab and got in, heading home.

"That's because you're in that drafty house all by yourself," she said dryly.  She got her own cab and went back to the office to tell her boss what had happened.  He was scowling about the situation.   None of them had known until that other writer had told Xander.


Wednesday night, Faith grabbed Xander and walked him off, letting Dean do the exorcism ritual.  They had been talking about Xander.  Nothing came out but Xander was grinning at the guys.  So maybe they'd do something different.  Maybe it was the being alone thing.  If she could make his muses appear to regular people, she'd talk to them.  Though his last date had been suspiciously nice instead of naughty.  So maybe it was something else.  They dragged him to a higher demon who could tell.  That one owed him so it'd cancel out some poker debt to Xander and Faith both.


Xander wobbled into the station Monday morning.  He flopped down in a chair beside Detective Esposito getting a long stare.  "Rick picked me a good girl who hated sex.  Dean picked me a satanist who wanted blood."  He grinned.  "And then he had to get her off me."  The detective shook his head.  "And it's the house that's driving me nuts.   Faith said she can't move in and the boys aren't around often enough so I need a roomie to give me someone else there so I can drop into that state.  Plus it was partially a curse and the really nice demon fixed it instead of paying me in kittens."

"Good," he said.  "I don't know anyone looking for a roomie but I'll ask."

Xander grinned.  "Okay.  Did you know that the Vice people are crackheads?"  The detective glared.  "Because they were encouraged to be by my date."  He grinned at him.  "She was kinda mean to them.  I didn't realize that until she came up smelling like drugs and I complained.  Then I let them go free and apologized but they're being mean to me now."

"What did she do?" he asked, pulling up a search with his name.  Nothing.  He called over there.  "It's Esposito in Homicide.  I have an author here who said he had to free some of your guys from his date of the moment."  He listened, leaning back in his chair.  "He said he didn't know until she came up smelling like drugs.  For all I know he was sleeping for the first time in months."  Xander nodded, still grinning.  "Yeah, we should.  No, he dates women like that.  We've arrested a number.  Alexander, yeah."  He waited while he looked up cases with his name on them.  "Are they good?"  He smirked at the kid.  "They're just fine, kid."

"Sure," he chirped.  "But she's really mean.  And kinda hot."

The guy in his ear said something else and Esposito snickered.  "No, he dates for psychotic.  He always has.  Only evil things like him according to him."  Xander nodded.  "And the occasional nympho or near-nympho."  He tapped his pen a few times.  "That'll work.  Here.  He said he didn't know."  He hung up.  "They still want to arrest you."

"I didn't do anything but let them go free."

"Their boss thinks you knew."

"How would I know?  I was in the apartment and she had them tied in the basement.  I didn't go down there for sex.  She picked me up in the club when Dean introduced us."

"We'll work it out.  Go nap," he said with a point.  Xander pouted.  "Are you high?"

"Quite a bit," he admitted with a nod and a goofy grin.  "She gave me E.  I'm not totally sure when."

"Go nap it off."  Xander nodded, going that way.  He sighed, rubbing his forehead.  It figured on the day he had to leave early to go to the doctor's.  The head of Vice showed up an hour later.  Xander was still sleeping it off.  "Did they see him in the basement?"

"They said he showed up then and apologized.  How long have they been together?"

"Someone introduced them in the clubs sometime this weekend."

"Oh.  So he didn't know?"

"He knows he only dates evil things and he hates drugs.  Though she slipped him something."

"Figures with that sort of girl."

Esposito pulled up the file list they kept, making the Vice guy moan.  "At least he hates drug dealers and smugglers."

"He seems really young and goofy."

"He is both but he's also a hunter."

"Like deer?"

"Like demons."

"Oh."  He winced.  "So it helps in his chosen field?"

"That too.  He's an author."  He shrugged.  "So what do we want to do about this?  It's not like he tries to find women like her.  He even got set up with someone nice but apparently they didn't hit it off."  Rick walked in.  "What happened when you set him up?"

"She was a lot like my ex-wife but she got too worn out with the sex.  Apparently he was only halfway done when she went limp on him."  He sat down.  "What happened?"

"Dean introduced him."

"Ah," Rick said with a nod.  "He gone?"  Esposito pointed so he looked.  "She drugged him?  That's not how they usually do it."

"Outside that one Misery lady?" Esposito joked with a grin.

"Well, yes, if we're counting her but she wasn't really wanting a date.  At least I hope not."

"Is he native?" the Vice guy asked.

"No," they said together.

"From near LA," Rick said.

"How did the convention go?"

"He kept inside the hotel all weekend and I didn't see a single dyed blonde hair."

"At least he didn't have to beat them then.  He thinks part of the problem is that he can't fall down and safely be aware because no one's there to watch out for him."

"I've considered that but I don't know anyone who needs a housemate."

"Me either."  Xander sat up and blinked at them then laid back down.

Rick stared.  "I'm betting he's not sleeping right either."

"The cats aren't very protective and can't really stop someone breaking in," Esposito agreed.  "Xander, you better yet?" he called.


"Okay."  He looked at the Vice guy, who was looking amused.  "She gave him something."

"I knew that.  They said he was giggly and annoying when he rescued them.  They wanted him to go to an ER once they had arrested him."

"You can't really have him arrested if he didn't know," Rick pointed out.  "Kid."  Xander got up and stumbled out.  "When did you meet her?"

"Saturday?  I think.  Today's Monday, right?"  They all nodded, the Vice guy giving him an odd look.  "Then I met her Saturday night because I rescued them yesterday and I'd only known her that day.  She was really good in bed and kept up with me.  That was kinda nice.  And rare."

Esposito nodded.  "I know some whorehouses you'd wear out, kid.  Sit."  Xander sat down, blinking a few times.  "When was the last time you slept?"

"Four or five days ago I think?  Maybe?  I'm pretty sure this is whatever she gave me."

"Do we think she took blood?" Rick asked.

"No.  The protection I had put on doesn't let anyone outside a nurse take blood.  Or a doctor.  Even if I'm passed out."

"That's good to know," Esposito said, making note of that.  "Can we take some so we can see what she gave you?"

"Will it still show up?"

"Yup, it will."  He called down to get someone to come take it for him.  Lanie showed up.  "Here, Xander.  Let our pretty ME take some."  Xander nodded, taking off his overshirt and leaving himself in the t-shirt so she could do that.  "You could've rolled up the sleeves."

"They don't come undone.  The buttons are for pretty, not for use.  Like trophy wives."

Lanie snickered.  "That's very true.   I know a few of those.  Let me pull some blood, Xander.  Which side's easier to find?"  He pointed at his wrist so she got a smaller needle to get it out.  "That's a good boy."  He purred.  She grinned.  "You're so cute but too naughty for me."  She pulled out the needle and did what she needed to do.  "Give me an hour to run toxicology."  She walked off.  "Is he under arrest?"

"His last date drugged some Vice officers and him," Esposito said.

"Xander, you need to quit that before you end up in my morgue.  We don't want to see you being a pretty author corpse, all right?"  He nodded, looking sheepish.  "Even if they're great in bed, they're still evil."

"I tried for lawful evil as he put it," Rick quipped with a grin for her.  "She said he wore her out."

"I'm not surprised.  Bad girls have more stamina.  I did when I was a bad girl."  She left.

Xander looked at the guy from Vice.  "I'm really sorry.  When I got told she had some, after I had pinned her to the bed to complain about the smell of the drugs, I got them free."

"I know, kid.  Relax."  He looked at Esposito.  "How many of these have you had?"

"Not that many that've drugged him."

"Two," Xander said.  Then ducked his head when they glared at him.  "I slept it off and Tara kitty hissed at one until she fled and turned herself in."

"I remember Tara calling us about her but she never said that," Esposito said dryly.  "I'll have the DA ask her since she's in trial."  He wrote an email to that office and sighed.  "The other?"


"Figures," Rick muttered, taking a sip of his coffee.  "But she's dead."  Xander nodded.  "Any sign of where she stored it?"

"For some reason I found a flip hatch on the roof garden.  Whatever she gave me was kinda ...colory."

"Mushrooms," Esposito and Castle said in unison.  "We'll come look at it later."  Xander nodded.

Esposito looked at him, having a suspicion starting.  With the way he had come in....  "Do you even have your keys, Xander?"

"No.  I think the cats hid them again," he said.  "I don't remember locking it either."  He frowned.  "Which was pretty dumb of me.  Oh!  Now I know why I came in beyond pouting that Vice guys wanted to arrest me for saving them.  Bridget's back in town."  He grinned.

"Hell.  No," Esposito ordered.  He called someone.  "Are you two out of court yet?"  He listened.  "Listen, bro, it's important.  Well, we have Xander....  No, not a new date totally.  This weekend's bad girl who had Vice guys hostage.  He saved them, she drugged him, he thinks the cats stole the keys.  Bridget's back, she sent him something, and he said there's a rooftop hatch that may be her former mushroom stash.  Can you?  Thanks.  Here.  He's here too."  He hung up.  "Beckett said you're staying here for now until she can clear up whatever Bridget sent you."

"Pretty red things?"

"Is it bleeding?" Rick asked.  "Last time she cut you."

"No. I think she sent me some cursed rubies."

Esposito shook his head with a moan.  "That's just bad."  He looked up then at the kid.  "How did she get out of federal custody?  She turned evidence."

"The note card said that they were boring and got shot when someone wanted her to do another job and came to find her."  He shrugged.  "I don't know."

"I'll talk with someone there later," he decided.  He texted that there was a note and a red thing from her.  "Where's the roof hatch?"

"South side of the fountain facing the back of the house."  He typed that in too.  "I only saw dirt I think.  But I didn't really look."

"That's fine."  He looked at him.  "Any other nasty surprises?"

"Not that I'm aware of.  But then again I was kinda not real awake when I stumbled in here to whine."

"Yeah, I saw that."  He added that note.  Beckett sent back that she'd get them and bring his keys.  "Beckett will get the keys from your kittens."  Xander beamed.  Lanie called.  "Yeah, Lanie?"  He listened.  "We know that.  That's really fast for that result.  Oh, that came up with the comparison.  That's supposed to be locked so no one can find it."  He grimaced.  "That's good at least.  We know, it's not the only one."  He listened.  "Even better.  No, all that's supposed to be locked up in case someone wants to try for him because of it.  I'll make that note to someone, yes."  He wrote down something.  "That's all?"  He grimaced and wrote that too.  "Thanks."  He hung up.  "Was she smoking pot?"

"I can't inhale."  He considered it.  "No, there was something like parsley on the sauteed mushrooms and cheese thingy on bread."

"Pot brownies," Rick said.

"I know.  And E.  And a faint trace of Roofies and a bit of cocaine."

"No, that I dumped when I found out she had put it into my pants pocket.  I don't think it broke open."  He stood up and turned out his pockets.  "Device key, storage key, grenade pin?"  He looked at it.  "Huh?  I don't have any of those right now."  He put it back down.  "I would've been told by now if I had blown up anywhere I guess," he muttered.  He turned out the other one.  "Pocket dust."

"Yes that is," Esposito said.  "Castle, get him some evidence scrubs."  Rick got him some and let him change.  He looked at the Vice guy.

"If he's sweating and some fell into his pocket, it could've soaked through the fabric into his skin.  Not the first time I've seen it absorbed that way but it wouldn't be a lot."

Rick came out blushing.  "He said she played with enemas too."

"So there's no telling what she added."

"He said scotch, he could smell it."

"Yeah, Lanie said his blood sugar was high probably due to drinking."  He shook his head.  "He needs a keeper," he said quietly.

"Some days.  Or better taste in women.  They don't have his blood test results locked?"


"Crap."  Rick called someone from his phone.  "It's Rick Castle," he said, walking off. "I'm stranding the elevator for a minute, Esposito."

"Sure."  He waved.  Xander came out looking sheepish.  "It probably soaked in through your skin."

"I wasn't really wearing underwear."  He sat down again.  "Sorry I'm such a problem."

"No, you're not.  Your taste in women is, but you're not a problem, kid.  We'd never have caught half of these people as fast without you dating them."  He grinned.  "So calm down and let's see if we can get you a reformed bad girl.  One who'll protect you since your blood results aren't federally locked right now."

"Crap.  Did someone try something?  I don't really remember."

"I can see."  He put a query though the system.  He found something strange and walked off calling them.  He ended up calling Lanie to get information on the case and came back.  "There has been a blood hunter.  Carmen was back in town."  Xander whimpered slightly.  "And that's where the grenade pin came from."

"I did?"

"Or she did.  The tapes in the parking lot where she tried you on Friday night showed that she tossed one at you, which made you scoop it up and toss it back at her car.  It went into the back window she had down.  Lanie said it was a holy mess.  Apparently you picked up the pin at the end."

"I don't remember any of that," Xander admitted.  "Am I in trouble?  Because I have no idea what I did."

"No.  I told them who she was and they're horrified.  They were trying to figure out who you were so someone will be down later.  For now, just try to remember."  Rick came off the elevator rolling his eyes.  "Bad talk?"

"It's resealed.  Under Homeland Security's authority.  One of them wanted to know who he was and someone showed them the tape of the invasion.  They decided you're dangerous but not to humanity and I told them you're taking precautions."  He patted him on the head.

"Carmen was back," Esposito said.

"The one who trained militia people?" Rick asked, looking confused.  Esposito nodded.  "Where is she now so we can arrest her?"

"She threw a grenade at Xander so he threw it back.  Lanie has her."

"Huh.  Why throw a grenade at him?"

"She could probably scrape up enough of me to get the blood she wanted or she didn't want anyone else to have me possibly," Xander said.  "That's the most likely reasons."  They all nodded at that.  "I have no idea," he said when Rick looked at him.

"What's the other key to?" the Vice guy asked.  "Because I've only seen one of those in a movie I think."

Rick looked then at him.  "You'd be right, but they're all taken."

Xander stared at it.  "If it had been used it would've had to been left in place I think."  He rubbed his forehead.  "I don't think I used one.  You might ask Faith.  I was with Faith and Dean Thursday and after the exorcism I don't really remember anything."

They each called one, walking off in opposite directions to talk.  They came back.  "Dean all right?" Esposito asked dryly.

"Yes, he is.  Um, PFC Harris?"  Xander stared at him.  "Can we have the normal Xander back?  Just for a bit?"

"He's napping."  He shrugged.  "He won't remember either.  Whatever she put in that enema knocked him out fully.  The hyena's nicely cuddling him like his stuffed animal and trying to wake him up."

"Huh," Esposito said.  "Faith said hi."

"She's one fine woman," he admitted.  "And his first.  I can appreciate that woman."

"So can we all.  Any idea about the huge demon problem with the portal?"

"No.... was that last night?"  They both nodded.  "Huh.  No idea."

"Dean took film on his phone," Esposito said.  "He'll bring it down."  Xander grinned.  "For now, go rest and sleep it off, see if we can get him back?"

"I'm just glad I could cover.  I didn't think she'd have much effect and you guys would realize something was up when all you got was happy growls."  He stood up and tossed off a jaunty salute before going back to the couch.

"Possession when he was in high school," Rick explained.  "Chaos guy turned him into his halloween costume."

"Ah," the Vice officer said weakly, nodding a tiny bit.  "That's just weird."

"His whole town was like that," Esposito said.  "Dean's going to tell us what happened.  Apparently they were trying to track him down to rescue him from her when they ran into him after he had rescued himself and your guys, and Faith got the call on the way back to his place about the bad thing."

"Yay," Rick said dryly.  They shared a look and looked toward the elevator when Ryan and Beckett came off it carrying a box.  She tossed Xander his keys, letting him hug them.  "Anything good?"

"Oh so many good things," Ryan said dryly.  "What fun are you two having?"

"Xander's knocked out so we talked to Soldier him all morning."

Beckett stared at them.  "Seriously?"  They nodded.  "Crap.  Why?"

"Whatever she put in that enema," Rick said.  "And his bloodwork is now sealed again."

"That would probably explain why the desk guy gave us this folder," Ryan said, handing it over.  "Hey, Detective Kevin Ryan," he said with a grin, holding out a hand to the vice guy.

"Detective Third Grade Millerson," he said, shaking it.  "I'm really confused."

"We get that now and then with some of his past," Ryan said with a grin.  "Demon hunting does it."

Esposito looked at the stills from the film.  "Yeah, that was him.  He tossed underhand."

"He was raised by Willow and his school's version of sports was dodgeball," Rick said dryly.  "He probably can't throw like we would."  Beckett took it to look over.  He looked at the box.  "Bad things?"

"Many bad things.  She had seeds for growing and some mushrooms sprouting too."  He opened the box.  "And two miniature pot plants."

"Awww," Esposito said.  "That's so darling of her."

"No one would've looked up at the middle of her rooftop garden if they weren't flying overhead," Rick realized.  They nodded.  "Smart."

"Probably helped with all the killing she did," Ryan admitted.  He pulled out a bagged envelope.  "The card, the pretty red things."  He let them see it.  "And jammies."  He pulled out that bagged set too.  "The blood dripping from the neckline is just perfect."

"Have we caught Bridget?"

"Not yet," Beckett said dryly.  Dean and Faith walked off the elevator, Faith yawning.  "Long night?"

"Long weekend since she took him home and we lost him," Dean admitted.  He sat down and got into his phone, letting her see the film he had taken of the fight.  "Sammy recorded it because he didn't believe Xander would do something like that."

"That's the soldier.  Has been since she drugged him," Esposito said.

"That makes more sense, yeah," Dean decided, looking at Faith.

"Soldier Xander is like battle Xander.  I can't tell those two apart and it made some sense to me."  She sat down in a free chair, looking at them.  "Any other sitches?"

"Carmen was in town," Rick said, showing them that picture from the video.

"Eww," Faith said.

"Is that a grenade?" Dean asked, looking confused.  "Usually she'd want to screw him not blow him that way."

"He tossed it back into her car," Esposito said.

"Hey, one less evil bitch to go after him and Sammy," Dean quipped with a grin.

"Think you could talk your brother into being gay with him?" Esposito asked with a smile.  "It could help them both."

"Sammy said he wanted something more normal, not another hunter.  Pity but they only play sometimes."

"Seriously?" Faith asked.

"Yeah I guess it was good stress relief or something."  Dean shrugged.  "Never tried it so don't know."

"Single question," Ryan said with a grin.  "Where did he get the device he threw into the portal?"

"A poker contact he slammed against a wall over being late paying him when they were having an emergency.  The guy started the 'okay, okay, let me pay you' until someone else ran in noting that the portal was getting closer to opening.  Then X got paid real fast," Faith said with a slight shrug.  They all stared at her.  "I don't know where his stash is, he called it magically."

"I'll see if Tara can find that then."

"He deals off world and they don't usually touch those," Faith said, ducking her head at the stares.  "Those sort of wars could be really important or for a good reason."

"I can understand that," Esposito said.  "I'd suggest he pay Xander and then move."  She nodded, texting that to someone.

"What else did they do this weekend?" Beckett asked, staring at the two hunters.  Dean shrugged.  "No other fights, brawls, girls we should know about?"

"I got a little bit in the club but she was sucky at it," Dean admitted with a grimace.  "Couldn't even get good suction thanks to a false tooth.  Kept drooling too.  Then we realized Xander was gone and had to chase him down."

"Did we arrest her?" Becket asked the Vice guy, who sighed and shook his head.  "She disappeared on you?"

"They weren't in any shape and they can't remember where they were.  They were drugged pretty well."

"Xander said she made them smoke crack," Esposito offered.

"I smelled and it was more than that."  He rubbed his forehead.  Dean wrote out the block.  "That'll help."

"It was a brown building, I didn't see any numbers."  He drew a quick map.  "It's on this side, facing this street," he said with another notation.  He let him have it. "She lived on two I think.  We were getting ready to break in when he came out doing up his shirt."

"That's not his shirt," Faith said, looking in there.  "I think that's someone else's shirt."

Beckett went to get that to look at.  "Female shirt."  She bagged it as well.  She walked back out there.  "Have we considered a mail order bride?"

"Paula would kill you," Rick assured her.

"It might help solve a lot of problems.  Including giving him someone there all the time."

"And start other problems like publicity and prenups and immigration," Rick countered.

"They'd still probably be evil too," Ryan quipped.

"Yeah, if he wanted to marry an evil Russian girl, there's always Maya," Esposito said, holding up her wanted poster.

"He was having dinner with her on Tuesday," Faith said, staring at it.  "What'd she do?"

"Killed for bucks."

"Hey, right up his alley," Dean joked with a smirk for the detectives.  "Hey, Xander?"  He lifted his head.  "Maya's wanted by the Feds."

"She's going to Atlanta to hit someone and then she'll stop back for dinner on the way to Iceland."  He put his head back down.  "What happened to my shirt?"

"Not your shirt, her shirt," Beckett called.

"Oops.  Then I want my shirt back.  Before some mean woman makes me shop again."

"If we can find it when we arrest her."

"Thank you."  He pulled the blanket over his head.  Dean went in there to sit with him, and it helped him fall back asleep.

Faith pointed.  "If we could get him to have them both retire and move in, we'd all probably be happy," she said quietly.

"Yeah but then there'd be the dating problem," Esposito said.  "He and Sam both draw bad things."

She nodded.  "True.  But you never know.  They could fight it for each other."

"Maybe," Beckett sighed.  The Vice guy finished telling them the map and they went to ID her and arrest her.  Drugging Xander and Vice guys was not allowed.  It was against the law.

"I don't want to know what went up your ass, quit giggling about enemas," Dean complained.  "Please!"

Rick shook his head.  "I was never quite that wild.  Bad girls sure.  Even did shots of mushroom laced tea a few times when I was in college.  Alcohol and drug laced enemas, not so much.  I really have got to have him write that stuff down in a way that helps parents talk to their teenagers about those things."

"If I knew then what I know now," Faith said dryly.

"You'd still be a hot chick," Dean called.

"Thanks, studly."

"Yes I am."

"Women don't like guys with big egos," Beckett called.  "That's why you can't get a real woman for more than a one-night stand, Dean."

"Don't want one.  I'm too young and pretty to settle down."


Faith had a plan and decided even though it was a Buffy plan, it'd work this time.  She could probably even get Buffy to do it for her as a way to make up to Xander.  Well, that might be dangerous.  So she'd better find a way to do it herself, or have a demon do it.  One who was leaving the realm so the boys didn't get them back.  But there were a few of those she knew.  They'd like the status of having hurt the Winchester boys.

Rick leaned down next to her ear.  "Make it very subtle because you have to work with them later on," he said quietly.  She smiled at him.  "Though I've had that same idea."  He went in there to get coffee.  Xander gave an inquisitive grunt.  "Feeding my caffeine habit."

"'Kay," Xander mumbled, drifting off again.  "Did kitties steal the keys?"

"I have 'em," Dean promised.  "Your kitties are at home, Xander.  Not here."  Xander pointed at something underneath the blanket.

"No, that's Meow, the station stray.  He hates keys," Rick assured him.  Xander nodded and started to snore again.  Dean shook his head.  "A kid who was a witness found him and named him."  Rick went back out there to see if they could arrange more things for the boy's, and their ease of arresting's, benefit.  "He thought Meow stole his keys."

"He hates keys.  And tunafish.  I put out some and the stray dog ate it instead."  Beckett shook her head.

"So do the kittens," Faith told her.  "They hate fish stuff.  Including the hairball medicine."  Rick winced.  "Yeah, a lot."  She made notes on the most recent dates so they could look them up too.

"Was it a convention?" Beckett complained.  Rick nodded.  "That's it, I'm tying him to someone so he can't date."

"I'm too studly for that too," Dean said.  "Ask Sammy."

They all stared at him. "Protesting too much, dude," Ryan said with a smirk.  Dean glared but Xander purred at him so maybe that was a good thing in the making.


The demon looked at the boys he had captured, shaking his head.  "Sorry, guys, but I had to pay off a kitten poker debt."  He punched Sam.  "So you can't have a vision for the next month."  He grabbed Dean's legs and broke them quickly and as painlessly as possible then did the same for Sam's.  "There.  No more poker debts, and you guys can even have a vacation," he said with a grin.

"Who paid you?" Dean growled from where he was tied to a chair.  They had been captured on their way out of town.

"I'm not allowed to tell you that but by paying off my poker debt this way, I earn *great* status and can get a harem back at home.  They consider you two scary guys."  He beamed.  "They'll heal but you'll be fine."  He patted them on the head, grabbed his bags, and ran for the transport portal guys.  Though he was nice enough to tell someone to go untie them and take them to the ER.

Dean looked at Sam.  "You good?"

"I think he only bruised my left one," he said, wincing as he moved.  "You?"

"No, both broken."  A demon peeked around the doorway.  "What?" he demanded.   "We're not happy hunters!"

"Reggie said to come get you guys free and tell Harris to take you to the ER.  He said he's really sorry he had to do that."  He came in untie them.  "Want me to call an ambulance instead?"

"No, we can be driven," Dean snarled.  "Where is that idiot?"

"Reggie just left for home.  Getting you two will get him nearly as much status as one who took out a slayer.  He had to so he could get married and spawn.  He was nice at least, right?  He didn't kill you and he could have."  They both glared.  "Sorry!  With overcrowding there, it's all about status.  Otherwise you don't get married, have kids, nothing like that."

"I get that," Sam said, trying to sound calm.  "But who did he pay off?"

"He owed a few people.  I don't know who's plan this was.  I know that they didn't want to piss off the Knight by hurting you too much, just keep you out of trouble.  Sorry!"  He ran off.  "I'm calling the Knight to come pick you two up!  We'll make sure no one touches your car."

"Tell Xander he can drive us in it," Dean snarled.  He checked his legs, both broken.  Sam's was clearly broken with the bruising started and the other wasn't bruised, just swollen.  "Looks like we'll be camping."

"Xander would let us have rooms for free," Sam said quietly.

"I'm not sure I could live with cats," Dean said.  "I'm not a little old lady."

"Neither's he."

"No, they were Tara's and he inherited."

"Fine."  Xander walked in looking confused.  "Some demon broke our legs to repay a kitten poker debt."

Xander gave them an odd look.  "You guys don't play kitten poker.  Did you piss off someone regular mafia?"

"No," Dean said.  "It was to keep us from hunting for a while."

"Huh.  Well, I have spare beds.  You can call your dad from the ER."  He helped them up and out to their car, then checked around, walking off shaking his head.  "That was such a Buffy plan."  Both boys stared at him.  He nodded.  "It was."

"If it was her, I'm paddling until she begs Dad for mercy then handing her to him," Sam said.

"Like I'd leave you anything to beat the ass of," Dean complained.

"She's got a flat ass, it wouldn't take that long to wear it off," Xander quipped.  He got the keys from Dean.  "I'll be really gentle."

"Better be," Dean grumped.  He watched Xander drive them to the small, private ER.  "Dude, more expensive."

"St. Vincent's probably has a six to eight hour wait time tonight by now.  These guys hardly ever have any."  He got out and smiled at the guard.  "Can I get a couple of wheelchairs?  Someone broke their legs on them to keep them from leaving the city."  The guard called that in and nurses came out.  "Hi, Meredith."

"Hi, Xander.  The Winchester boys," the demon said, staring at them.  "Why?"

"From what Paulie, little green Paulie, said Reggie did it to pay off a kitten poker debt right before he left because it'd get him great status with the women."

"It probably would among his people."  She helped them out and into the wheelchairs.  "Boys, relax.  We deal with both demon and human injuries and we can do casts just as good as anyone else."  She smiled.  "We did when Xander finally admitted he had things broken last time."  She and Xander wheeled them in.  "There's only three in line ahead of you, all pretty bad cuts, so it won't be long, boys."  She left them in the waiting area and signed them in.  "No cellphones," she called when Sam pulled his out.  "He can call for you from outside."

Xander took Sam's phone and walked out there to do that.  He came back shaking his head.  "Your dad growls like hellhound puppies."  The other demon in there with them laughed.  "He's either got upset tummy troubles or he's really ready for a collar."

"Dad hates it when we're injured," Dean complained.

"So do we but only Dean really growls," Sam told him with a faint grin.  "Did you tell him why?"

"Yes, and he went from worried daddy growl to hellhound growl then.  Or else he dropped the phone and the hellhound was getting happy with it."  He shrugged.  "I know he growled 'damn it I'm in Minnesota' when I told him it was me and you guys were in the ER.  He didn't calm down much when I told him it was only broken bones."

"That demon should probably stay on his home plane forever and ever," Dean assured him.  Xander nodded.  The nurse came out to get the one waiting with them when two demons walked with their new stitches.  Then Dean and Sam got brought back together.

The doctor looked at them.  "Reggie did a very delicate job, boys.  They shouldn't have any problem growing straight and strong."  She smiled.  "It's all over the underground."

"Buffy plan?" Xander asked.

"Slightly but not that source."  She smiled at him.  "Quit taking that herbal thing, Xander."

"I can't.  The house is driving me nuts.  I have to live there for the rest of this year."

"Maybe the judge will let you sell it sooner," Sam quipped.  "Why is it driving you nuts?"

"I don't know but I can't sleep or anything.  Maybe the former owner's hanging around but I know she was cremated."

"Let them figure that out."  She got them casts for their legs.  Dean moaned.  "Sorry.  I could do plaster."  They shook their heads.  "Six weeks, boys."  They nodded.  "Congratulations, Sam, you can wander more easily."

"Sure, I can be the fetcher of beer and breakfast," he quipped, sounding tired.  She got them all set up and let Xander sign them out to go home.  She gave them something light for the pain and it was better.  They were so cute.  She had nearly had them autograph a picture for her daughter.  The next one she stared at.  "Why were you cutting a lightening bolt into your forehead?" she demanded.

"The coming out party for the last Harry Potter book," he pouted.  "Mom said I shouldn't have used the nailpolish to do it."

"No, probably not since it can kill the skin on your type," the doctor chided.


Dean settled in on the bed, calling his father.  "Sammy and I are both good, Dad.  He's got one bad bone bruise and one broken, I've got both broken.  Yeah, that's why."  He listened.  "Xander's, and he's right, the house feels creepy."  He shifted.  "We'll try to cure that for him.  No, he's in the kitchen muttering.  Apparently someone made a Buffy sort of plan.  That's what they all called it but the doctor said the underground said it was a different source.  So yeah, we're up here in New York for six weeks.  Sammy's got his own room, Dad.  Neither one of us can really *walk* right now.  Shared bathroom is nice.  Bed's comfy.

"Xander will fuss so that'll be nice.  Kitten already loves my head."  He looked up at her, getting his hair lapped again.  "She's giving my hair a bath."  He listened to his father.  "I don't know.  The house just feels...wrong somehow.  We never notice it during the day but it feels odd.  Please.  Not like we can," he quipped.  "Thanks, Dad.  Yeah, she's fine.  I let Xander drive us to the nice demon and human ER place."  He hung up on the spluttering.  He reached back to pet her gently.  "Thank you for the bath, Miss Kitty."  She kept cleaning his hair, which for some reason lulled him into sleep.


Xander met with the judge, shaking his hand.  "There's a problem with staying at the house."

"What problem?"

"I haven't slept in months.  Though I know why thanks to a few other hunters."  He handed over the notes.  "Their dad had to stop it for us.  I had no idea that an open portal would cause that much drama."


"Well, yes.  There was a nicely done demonic ballet going on on the other side."  The judge moaned, shaking his head.  "When it started to fully open, the prince that stepped through said 'you're not her' so I had to tell him why.  He sighed and said it was a sad day and left, which imploded the portal, which destroyed the kitchen.  And part of the living room.  And the basement.  So we can't really live there right now.  The insurance is going to fix it and the elder hunter knew how to make sure it wouldn't reopen at any time to someday bother someone else.  He's fixing that as soon as the work's done.  So can I please sell it and move?"

"Yes," he said, smiling at him.  "I saw what they found at that other house."  Xander grimaced.  "That's fine.  Have the PD make sure she didn't leave anything else there and then you can sell it."

"Thank you."  He grinned.  "We can even say that we've had it supernaturally cleaned so nothing else will happen."  The judge laughed and signed the order.  "Thanks.  I have my eye on something.  It has a doorman, elevators, security, and is just up the street from the police station that likes to arrest my dates."  He grinned.  "And it's never been haunted or owned by a serial killer."

"Assassin?" he guessed.

"Drug dealer.  European drug dealer."  The judge smirked.  "He's going to jail and if he doesn't sell it soon, the state will confiscate it.  He has a baby momma in France."  He took the forms.  "Thanks.  I'll pay the lawyer his fee."  He nearly skipped out.  He signed the papers on that place and let the bank take that hit.  He also went to talk to a certain priest at a certain church he knew about.  "Father Morgan," he said as he walked up to him, smiling and happy.

"Harris," he said, staring at him.  "Is she going back?"

"No, actually she's happily denying she's pregnant with her second child."  The priest smiled.  "Her husband has helped a lot since she got clean.  No, I wanted to talk to you about the house I'm selling.  One of my ex's...."

The priest held up a hand.  "Which one?  Even I've heard about a few of them."

"The one that I had to burn down her other house.  We just cleaned the portal to another hell dimension out of it the other day and it's being upgraded due to the damage that caused.  Six bedrooms.  Nice kitchen.  Rooftop garden with new fencing around the edges and a fountain."

"The diocese might like that.  The ones the nuns live in is presently falling in."

"I saw that article, which is why I came to you first."  He grinned.  "Since we're making sure the portal can't reopen it would be very safe.  We removed the ghosts.  A lot of bedrooms and bathrooms.  Nice garden and small lawn.  Nice enough neighbors and the old diocese house is up the street."

"You live in the Victorian row house they've been working on?" he asked, looking confused.  Xander smiled and nodded.  "I'll ask.  The nuns all seem to love that garden."

"It's deep enough to grow shallow root veggies.  Not potatoes but you can do that out front if you wanted to.  I just put up that fence."

"That's a house they'd adore.  I'll have someone come see it later.  When are you selling it?"

"As soon as the reno's are done.  I bought one off someone less dangerous who's going to jail so his baby mama wouldn't starve."

"Good of you," he said dryly.

"Also, less stairs for the two hunters I have recovering."  He shook his head.  Black Morgan laughed and patted him on the head.  "Let me know, I'll be home all day packing things."  He skipped off, taking the bus back to the house.  It came within a block.

Morgan went to talk to the higher ups.  They had agreed they needed a new house and that might have enough room for them all. Plus he could make sure that portal never opened again.  They called John Winchester in since it was his sons seen on the porch with casts and the cats.  He told them what had happened and how it had been sealed.  Plus about the former Victorian ghosts that they had gotten earlier in the month.  The diocese decided it was a good house, the boy wasn't driving a hard bargain on the price so they could get it cheaply, and the inspection report from before he took it over was excellent.  They agreed that night to buy it at the meeting and Xander faxed papers over with his terms.  They liked that, it was less than they had expected.

Probably how much he was paying for his next one since it was a desperate sale.


Sam blinked awake.  The new house was really nice.  The doorman smiled at them whenever they had to hop and go see someone or whenever Xander helped them.  He stared at the cat on his chest, petting her.  "You're not one of his."

"She came in from the heater ducts," Dean called.  "Xander's writing so he's not listening."

Sam got up carefully, taking her to carry off.  He found Xander engrossed in something so he went to the doorman.  He was staring at the elevator when the door opened.  "She snuck in."

"She lives below you boys."  He smiled and took the cat.  "Somehow she gets into the heating system and wanders.  I'll hand her back."

"Thank you."  He rode the elevator back up and nudged Xander.  "You need sleep too."

Xander kissed him with a manic grin.  "They're back!"

"I can tell.  Take a nap?"

"No!  I can't take a nap or I'll lose all this and then Paula will beat me."  He went back to his typing.

"We'll make you nap when we get up," he decided, heading into the bedroom again.  "Dean, need help since I'm still standing?" he called.

"Could, yeah."  Sam limped over to help him up and into the bathroom then back to bed.  Then Sam fell into bed and went back to sleep.  Dean took a painkiller for his legs.  They ached.  Though it was no wonder the heat didn't work since the ducts had cats in them.


Esposito came back from checking on Xander because he was too quiet.  "He sold the house to nuns."  Beckett moaned.  "They said he moved up the street where that drug dealer got busted.  The boys are both limping and Xander's stuck in muse hell.  They won't even let him sleep right now.  He looked like he hadn't slept in two weeks.  Circles under the eyes and all that.  I kindly nerve pinched him for the Winchesters, who put him onto the couch to sleep.  Sam sat down to proofread for him and Dean was trying hard not to move at all.  You might want to warn Paula."

"I will," Rick said with a grin.  "I'm sure the nuns will enjoy the garden."

"And that one scary priest, Father Morgan."

"Huh.  Yeah, he's the one that Xander brought Willow to about her magic addiction."

Beckett wrote that name down on a list she kept in her desk drawer.  "Good to know."  She got back to her searching.  "Anything on the case?"

"Not yet," he admitted.  "But I did see that Maya girl.  I alerted the feds so they could get her.  She was cooing over Xander when I left."  She smirked at him.  "I called the one that dealt with the death threats.  He has a watch on the kid to see who he dates too."  They all smiled at him.  Yup, it was back to business as normal for them.  And soon Xander would be back to dating insane women again.


Paula got the warning email from Rick and sent one to Xander to take a long nap, he clearly needed it.  Sam sent one back saying they had knocked him out and a list of what was in his 'hasn't been sent to Donnie yet' folder.  She nearly moaned in pain.  She sent back a suggestion for him to try a new series.  The world could use a new series.  Sam sent one of them in the new International Hunter series.  Which made her bang her head on the table.  She sent back for him to try regular fantasy again.  And that she had heard from the people who had screwed up, so he needed to call her later on this week.  Then she went to have a nice glass of wine and a valium.  Before she went back to banging her head on the desk.  Because Xander killed her nerves, drove her nuts, and made her a lot of money.

The End.

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