Filling In The Plot Holes.
Xander walked into Paula's new publishing office, looking around. He looked at her. "Were you turned?"
"No, Xander. There's some windows behind the scaffolding over there," she said with a point. She smiled at him. "Who started the newest joint novel?" Xander pointed at Rick when he walked in. "Uh-huh. Did you write that baby Xander, Rick?"
"No, Xander did that."
"I realized that while I was writing it but the baby was so boring before," Xander said. He gave her a good boy grin. "Now the baby's fun and it's good to read."
"It is," Rick agreed, sitting down. Xander perched on some boxes. "Still decorating?" he teased with a grin.
"No! They're on back order." She looked at them. "There's no way they won't associate this with you two. The baby is obviously a miniature Xander."
"Originally the nanny was," Rick joked. He grinned at Xander. "I got through the first chapter then sent it to you. He had just been drugged."
"I heard about the bad girl orgy they had to break up," she said, looking at Xander.
"It was not my doing."
"I heard that too. Rosenburg sent me an apology letter for you." She handed it over.
Xander read it then called someone. "It's me. Willow sent my publisher a letter of apology for wanting you guys to all come over and encouraging us to have that sort of fun." He smiled. "Have fun in LA. It's a great promotion, dear. There's an agent I trust *absolutely* in the LA office. His name is Don Epps. Yeah, the guy that helped us with Sunnydale stuff. His team got freaked out but handled it and the sniper he brought in to watch their back did the same but Don's a stand-up guy. And if you need my help, let me know, dear. Talking about the newest book. Sure, have a good move and let me know if I can help." He blew a kiss and hung up. He put the letter into his pocket. He texted someone else the contents of it and got back a 'I want to see that'. So he faxed it from Paula's fax and put a dollar on her desk for it. Then he sat down again.
Rick looked at him. "She encouraged it?"
"Yeah." He let Rick see it.
Rick read it, folded it, then handed it back. "If Daniel doesn't beat her...."
"Olivia can cheer me on," Xander said dryly. Paula smiled. "I'm sure someone heard and said something."
"No one heard anything. Just that they raided your apartment post-party and found a few people that should not be in the US. Since everyone knows you date bad people that's not all that shocking." She shifted, crossing her legs under the desk. "Are you going to use the same pen name this time?" They shrugged. "All right. Contracts?" She handed them over. "They're a blatant copy of your last ones but I cut out some of the admin costs for you."
"You mean I'll make more," Xander asked with a grin.
"Slightly," she agreed. "Donnie's part of the office so he's on a standard, good salary instead of piecemeal work. Then he gets five percent on top of that." Rick nodded that was reasonable, reading his over. She went over Xander's with him so he didn't miss anything. He signed it and she went over what she had of his. Still. She took Rick's signed contract back and noted she needed one from him soon. He nodded he knew that.
"He wrote his parts of that joint novel while sitting beside Beckett's desk waiting to be told he was grounded," Rick joked.
"I haven't had time to write in the last few days either," Xander admitted.
"That's fine," Paula assured him. "We have plenty that needs to go out, Xander. And that new dark, dirty story set?" She stared at him. "Porn is bad and doesn't sell that way. Not even Anne Rice could get away with that level of porn."
"Did the producer like it?"
"She said she took it home, got happy for days on end, but they can't do it without an X rating so they can't do it." He shrugged. "You can put it on your website though. Tease with a chapter now and then."
"Some of them are kids," Rick said.
"I'll put a age warning," Xander promised. Rick nodded that was a good idea. "Does the person that did it know how to do it?"
"Yes," Rick said. "Did he teach you how to update things?"
"How to post an update. Which I think I'm falling behind on."
"Maybe," Rick agreed. "But your fanclub won't mind all that much." He patted him on the arm. "We'll work on it. Have Sam help."
"He left today to meet up with Dean. He didn't let me buy him a plane ticket either."
"Huh, but I guess you get to know a lot of the US by greyhound." He looked at Paula again. "He was helping a new writer."
"I heard and she squealed a lot about his hand-holding." Xander beamed. "Update your page at least once a week, Xander. Try to get on a schedule with it." He nodded. "Or hire someone to do it for you."
"Are we back to getting me an assistant?"
"Maybe," she agreed. "Because you missed an interview." He winced. "She figured you were recovering from that bad girl moment."
"The next morning."
"I was at the doc's."
"Good!" she assured him. He shrugged, giving her a sheepish look. "Never again if possible." He pointed to the west. "If she does, I'll beat her myself."
"Okay," he agreed quietly.
"Good boy." Xander barked. She snickered. "Even better. We rescheduled it for tomorrow."
"Which will suck since I have a dentist appointment at two," he said. He handed her his phone.
She made notes. "Hers is at five." He nodded. She updated his phone then updated Rick's calendar for him too. She smiled. "There you go. Shoo." They fled. She sighed and got up to rearrange some things. It was a good start to her house.
Xander walked in the next afternoon with his face swollen. "Hi, Gretchen," he said, slightly mumbling.
She stared at him. "Sore tooth, Xander?"
"Dentist visit. Cleaning, whitening," he mumbled, sitting down. "Paula didn't know." She nodded that happened. The interview went all right. He tried his best to sound like he wasn't speaking through cotton wool from his numbed mouth.
She smiled at the end. "I have heard all sorts of rumors."
He shifted. "Sorry?"
"I've heard those too," she said, staring at him. He shook his head. "It didn't happen?"
"It never is," she assured him. He shrugged and held up the letter. She moaned. He nodded. "Someone needs to beat her." He nodded faster. "I've heard other rumors. Are you dating?"
"No. Well, yes, but not exclusively. I'm dating to find someone, not dating someone."
"That's fine, Xander."
"I have heard a rumor that the hidden duo that did that mystery novel is putting out one."
She smiled. "Really?" He nodded. "Same series?" He shook his head. "Interesting." She made note of that. "Through the same publisher?"
"They followed us and Paula. The company she worked for fired me for depossessing everyone. A lot of her people followed her."
"That's very interesting news. We had heard she left to set up her own publishing house but not why." Xander nodded. "I won't spread why but she left after they fired you?"
"She said I make her a lot of money."
"Good point. I hope your mouth feels better."
"Me too. I can't feel my tongue." She laughed and nodded. "Let me go nap and drool on the kitties. Have a nice night, Gretchen."
"You too, Xander." He grinned and made sure he wasn't drooling as he walked off. She smiled at his back. He was such a nice boy. A bit strange and forceful sometimes but a sweet, nice, good boy.
Xander walked into his fanclub's meeting two weeks later, seeing all the awed looks. "I actually came by to do more than answer questions about the new series." He smiled. "I'm horrible with the website stuff, guys. I really am." They all nodded and grinned. "So I'm going to ask if there's anyone who can help me? I'll put up my own updates but I have no idea how to do any of that. Or put up stuff that Paula said I can't have published."
"There's some of those?" his club president asked.
He nodded, handing her a chapter. "There's a four novel set, originally three but I got an idea the other day, that's a bit too ...dirty for the publishing industry." She read it, moaning halfway through the second page. "Exactly. And I can't get it made into a movie because they can't get an R rating and do it justice. So I need someone who can help me with the website. The guy who set it up for me is busy."
"So someone to help you do updates, put up chapters, all that?" the president asked. Xander nodded. "You didn't have to take a computer class in high school?"
"I had to do one. The highest we got was how to fix problems in Word and do your email. Sunnydale was a sucktastic school."
"We've heard," another one said. "How much is it paying?"
"Say....two hundred a week? I'm not sure how much work is involved but if that's low I'd negotiate."
"Probably a bit high just for that," that member said. She shrugged. "My sister does that sort of work. I'll ask her." Xander beamed at her. She took the next chapter to look over. "Oh, no wonder you can't publish this!"
Xander smirked. "One of the officers Rick Castle works with moaned at work when I asked him to read it to see it was crap since my editor didn't want to read it."
She beamed at him. "Four novels?" Xander nodded. "Does it get more graphic?" He nodded more quickly but was grinning. "Are we talking like that fairytale kingdom series?" He pulled a bundle of papers out of his back pocket and let her see that. She gaped at him. He nodded. "Wow. Yeah, that's more graphic."
"I have no idea how to do more than say 'please be over 21 and if possible at least middle aged to read this'."
She handed that back but someone else took it to read. "You're right, I don't think I'm old enough and I'm twenty-three."
"I couldn't sleep," Xander admitted. "It came from the darker area than Tral did when he didn't let me sleep." He sat down. "Paula pushed back the next book by two weeks because of the publishing house switch over to her own house." That got a lot of nods. "But now my editor works for her." He beamed. They smiled back. "So, anything you guys want to know?"
"That space vampire story? You said you have others?" one asked.
"Three others. Two are with Paula. The other is being fixed so the beginning's not the same. We'll have to wait for that suit to play out or the time limit to run out, whichever comes first." That got a nod. "Though I did bridge from that one guy's story into the actual series." A few grinned. "It basically will come after the next one and before the fifth."
"Is he doing it to other authors?"
"They asked him to. He didn't know I was still publishing. They told him I had quit writing. I met him in a bookstore, showed him that part of the story that said you can't break pair bonds, and we talked like adults. I don't hold it against him, guys. It's not his fault. The people behind it I'm suing like hell." The group laughed, but one mother. He shrugged a bit at her. "Sorry, didn't see the little one."
"He's heard worse language."
Xander grinned. "The next book coming out is technically a young adult novel." A few people gave him a funny look. "Someone wanted me to write a commissioned piece. Which basically means they gave me a plot synopsis and wanted me to do it. They do it sometimes in the romance novel genre or in piece work for known series. But it is a YA book and it is a positive message. Somehow the heroine got to me as whiny and wimpy. The hero was a pathetic guy who I wanted to drop in a lake a few times. So the anti-hero got it." Everyone smiled. "I know, blatant, but a good, positive message." That mother smiled. "Sometimes the hero isn't the pretty guy with the good hair or Fred."
The president laughed. "I heard your hunting team called themselves Scoobies."
He nodded. "Yeah, I was Shaggy for years. Velma and Daphne are still on the west coast."
"Who's that baby that you were cuddling during the convention?" that mother asked.
Xander pulled out his wallet. "That is Willow's daughter Olivia. I'm her godparent, though they never did anything churchy to make it official." He let her see the picture. "She's crawling and babbling a lot right now. Is definitely a daddy's girl. Tries to escape her mom sometimes."
"She's adorable." She handed it back. A few others looked and smiled. Xander put it back into his wallet. "The only one?"
"I'm not fertile. Which I kinda like because if I ignore the cats the way I do sometimes, a kid would get worse probably." She nodded that was true. "I'm trying to be practical about that stuff. I wouldn't want a kid to live in my insane life right now anyway. And with my taste in women, I'd have to take full custody from the bad girl society I date." She cackled. "I have met some very nice women but none of them wanted to date me unless they had at least a tiny bit of bad girl past. I don't know why but bad girls can be fun."
"Bad boys too?" the mother asked.
"I've had a few of them too. One was CIA. He gave me a nuclear warhead as a present." She gaped. He nodded and sighed. "I dated a few who went undercover and things like that too. I'd just really like someone permanent again, ya know? Someone nice. Someone who reminded me about things without nagging. Someone who liked my muses like I do. Or maybe gave me a few hours free every now and then. Just someone...nice." They smiled. "Rick Castle's mom introduced me to a lot of actresses about my age and they all seemed to think I was too goofy and cuddly. Or clearly weren't interested. None of the other authors I've met were either."
"Would you date a fan?" the fan club president asked.
"Yeah. I'd expect my spouse to at least proofread for me," he said with a teasing grin. She blushed and giggled. "Let's face it, they'd have to like my muses. They're pushier than the cats are."
"Did you really date someone who sold people?" the mother asked.
"I didn't know that at the time and I did ruin her stock by setting them free and handing them to the police when I found out. The next one I walked away from. That first one's now out of the business since they're all mad that I set her captives free. She's shown up once but Beckett got there within hours to get her. I spent some time distracting her so she couldn't disappear but...." He smirked. The mother gaped.
"I have very realistic views of who I date. I know I only draw the dangerous and deadly sorts. I know I draw agents who have a dark side and all that. And unless they're real dirtbags, like those who sell people, I'm mostly okay with that. There's some times I'm not but I'm real aware that normal people don't seem to want to date me. In her case, I distracted her and my muses for about three hours until however Beckett finds out who I'm dating told her and she came to get her. I had every bit of faith that she would."
"The others still hurt people," that mother said.
"I'm going to give a pass to the people who rob the ultra rich. I'm going to give a pass to weapons dealers for the most part, because I collect for apocalypse battles." She nodded she knew that. "Hunting, like the hunting novels, it's not...."
"It's not a glamorous, easy field like police work where everyone is either good or bad," the president of the fanclub told her.
"Exactly," Xander agreed. "Hunting is still taking out things that hurt people."
"I get that," she agreed.
"Even though I'm retired and only on for apocalypse battles, or something huge that happens locally, I've seen enough of that side of life that ... Well, even before then nice girls didn't like me. Now they really don't like me. I don't even play hard or anything like that but ... Hunting is like a perpetual war in a lot of ways," he explained. "Only it's a war that most of the country doesn't want to get behind, hear about, anything like that." He shifted to lean on his knees. "There's a reason not many hunters make it to sixty." The mother nodded, looking a bit upset. "I may be retired for all but the worst things but I've been injured enough that I'm already getting arthritis in my knees and my neck. One shoulder I dislocated once. Let's face it, I got seven concussions in five years."
"And it'd take someone with that same sort of knowledge to understand you," another member said.
Xander nodded. "Or a soldier, someone who's actually seen that level of humanity. Which is why I'm not overly upset that I don't draw nice people to date, even though I'd like one. If I'm dating an assassin who takes out despots and those sorts, they understand what I've seen and as long as they're not taking out nuns, little kids, and those sort I'm okay with them taking out people who kill others for happies. Because there's some out there." The mother nodded she understood that. "And it's not polite or nice or happy making but they probably got into it the same way I did. Something pulled them into the life. In my case it was my best friend since I was Olivia's age being taken by vamps."
"Oh," she said quietly. "You do write nice things."
Xander smiled. "I try really hard to keep any and all darkness that might be undercutting certain lifestyles out of my books. There's enough, even in the hunter series, that points that it's not a happy career choice and no one should *want* to do it. In DCIS it's more...a career like law enforcement is. Only they have that one bad news team that handles the things that the regular people can't. The same as the FBI has people who do SWAT things and regular agents."
"I can understand that. Some of the hunter novels are dark."
"Yeah but that's because you get drawn into it. A lot. A lot of them say 'I'll get the thing that drew me in and then quit' and find out that they can't just retire. The same as I'm always going to be on for apocalypse battles, even if I'm in a wheelchair. Thankfully I have weapons skills." He grinned. "And I don't mean to depress anyone or talk anyone out of reading them. A few hunters are still really mad that I exposed the hunting lifestyle that way. But a few others who have kids gave them the series to read so they understood what their parents went through and could make an informed choice about joining the life."
"I guess I can understand that. Did you hunt that way?"
"No, we were more a group approach. We went on nightly patrols, we went club hunting, those things. We were tilted more toward the methods DCIS used, especially with all the peaceful species. But now and then we had to break into hunter mode and fix things. Or handle a battle." She nodded she got that. "I'm not as bad as I could be. If I had went out like Dean Winchester, who got well known after the invasion, and his family, I'd probably have never even thought about writing."
"You know them well?" one of the others asked. "Is Sam really smart?"
"He's not the sort of smart that pushes it on others. He doesn't use the big words, come out with random book facts, that sort of thing. But he is a research God. Even Giles called him that a few times. Sam can find research on nearly *anything*." He grinned. "He found me ancient mystical weapon research for a book when he was laid up with a bum ankle for a few days. Dean's a hands-on guy, like I am. But he also tinkers. He can make his own hunting gear. He's a gun god in some ways." She grinned.
"John's just kinda grumpy. But he's very badas... um, a very strong fighter physically. I don't think I could take him in a fair fight. Then again, I don't tend to fight fair." She squealed. "John's somewhere in New Hampshire at the moment. The guys are in Oregon I think. I found a site online for hunter groupies that tracks where all the cute hunters are and told Dean. He blushed *bright* red and walked off mumbling something to get a beer. Sam picked on him for days because they track Dean and not him."
The mother smiled. "Maybe you two....." She waved a hand.
He shrugged. "I like Sam a lot. If Sam wanted to settle down and do normal guy things with me, I wouldn't mind it. The kittens love him and Dean. One almost adopted Dean when he had the broken legs. She lapped his hair for him, kneaded his stomach whenever he moaned in pain. Kneaded his casts a few times. Napped with him. Would only let him feed her kitten treats." That got a mass 'aww'.
"If either one wanted to settle down and do normal things with me, I'd more than happily pounce and squeal. Sam wanted the picket fence when he retired and Dean's not sure if he ever wants to retire yet." He shrugged. "If it happens I'd be happy. If not, they're really hot." The girls all sighed and nodded. "You know, they're the teaching team in DCIS." One fanned her face. "Yeah, the girls there, they *love* PT now." He smirked.
"That's really a real place?" the mother asked.
"In another realm. Olivia's mommy was having a magic addiction moment and sent me there when I was trying to protect Tara from her. The me there is really nice." He beamed. "And the girls are all pretty sweet but they still try to panty raid the new guys." Most of the room laughed. He smiled at the mother. "I got permission from everyone before I wrote anything. Then I changed everyone's looks. A lot of writers do that, especially in true crime. The rest, I've never met Tral but he sounds like fun." Even the mother laughed that time.
He grinned at the group. "Anyway, I just came to ask for help and I did not mean to depress anyone so I'm sorry if I did. You guys let me know if you find someone to help me? My email's no longer backed up. I fixed that for breakfast." A few snickered. "Seriously. The kittens were ignoring me eating so I wasn't having to protect my food." He stood up. "Have a good meeting, guys. And remember, I love my fans so if you guys need stuff, you let me know." He left.
"He forgot to take that first chapter and the smutty part," the girl who had it said. They passed it around. It was nice how he spoiled them.
Xander met with his new webgoddess two days later. "Hi," he said, sliding into the seat across from her. "Mary?" She nodded with a grin. "I'm Xander." He shook her hand. "Did they tell you I'm about webpage stupid?"
"They put it in nicer terms." She opened his site. "I've looked it over and it's nicely created."
"But I have no idea how to do anything. He showed me how to upload updates and things but I'm still lost and it comes out with coding and funny marks or symbols."
"That's curly quotes."
"Which writing program do you use?"
"Word Perfect." He pulled out his laptop. She got into his auto correct feature to turn those off. "That does that?"
"That puts in the quotes that have the curl. This will leave straight ones that don't need special code, which is what causes those symbols." She did a find and replace for him on his current one, getting a nod and a grin. "Like that."
"That's great." He beamed at her. "You're already worth the money."
She smiled back. "I'm glad to be of help. What did you want to do first? Since it's a new site have you decided to make changes?"
"I have four novels that I'll be putting up slowly over the next few years but they're... frankly parts of it are too smutty for middle aged women." She laughed. "Seriously. So I need to do more than beg for them to be over eighteen. If they find a way around it, so be it, but I have no idea how to do that beyond a statement. I'm having trouble putting up weekly updates for my fans. Now and then I might want to put up teaser pieces for later books."
"Your site's wordpress so that's not too hard. Personal posts are tagged usually." He looked clueless again. "We can do that." He beamed. "As for the age verification thing, I have a few ways of doing that."
"I saw one of the online writing community's sites that has one but I didn't like the 'we'll report you' aspect."
"I haven't.... aff's?" she guessed. He nodded. "Okay, so nothing that strict but something decent and not too harsh. We can deal with that and make that members only. So that you have to sign up and part of that would be an age statement." Xander nodded. "Let me work on that. I might have to take you off wordpress but I'd keep the same address for the most part." Xander beamed. "I'll figure that out and make it easy for you to use and update." He nodded. "And make it safe for kids."
Xander grinned. "Thank you."
"It's not a problem. That's not really a lot of work. As for doing weekly updates and monitoring the site, that's not a lot of work either and two hundred a week is a pretty good paycheck for it. I know you told my sister that it's negotiable and that's good for me with this level of work. Even if I do have to move everything to a better site, it'll be fine and take me about a week." He hugged her and she patted him awkwardly. He grinned and handed her the first week's paycheck, getting a smile.
"Give me a week to work on that age coding, look everything over, all that. I need your password." He got into that file, letting her see it. "I can do that." He beamed and put his laptop up before bouncing off. She grinned. "My sister said he was a really nice goofball." She settled in to look over what the person who had set it up had done. It was simple and elegant, but a bit dark. Then again, some people weren't really computer design literate.
She wondered why he hadn't gone back to him but an email to him about a problem she found said he was too busy to handle it. So she guessed that was fair of Xander. She had told him she was helping him with the story uploading and he said he didn't mind. So all good on her end. Though she did want to lighten the text color just a bit and did it on him in the interests of being able to read easier. He'd appreciate that.
Xander walked into the old publishing house, smiling at the nice people who paid him. "Paula said you guys had my last three checks ready?"
The head girl looked in the box of them, shaking her head. "Not a thing, Mr. Harris."
"You should have three royalty checks." He called her. "Paula, don't they have my last three checks still?" He held out the phone. "Paula."
She took it. "Ma'am, we have no notes saying that we need to have checks ready for him. Oh, you're her. Um...." She took the phone to her boss. "Mary, that one that just left? Apparently we're supposed to have her writer's last checks?"
"I haven't seen a thing." She took the phone to talk to her and look things up. "They're not even in the system," she told her. Paula went over what they should have based on her notes. She found that information and saw she should have them but didn't. They couldn't figure out why. She hung up and walked the phone out to Xander. "Mr. Harris, we have no idea why they haven't been sent to us yet."
He nodded once. "Okay. That's interesting. Is this retaliation because she left and took us?"
"I don't know."
"Okay. Well, please call me," he said, writing down his phone number. "When you do get them." He handed it over with a grin. "I'll go bug Paula so she can nag people."
"That'll work. I hope to have it cleared up soon."
"I hope so too. Property taxes are due next month." She smiled and he left, going to talk to Paula, who was already on the phone telling someone she was going to sue them. "I can ask for a favor and get them harassed by a demon," he offered from her doorway. "And you still need more windows. Want me to pull some work in here?"
She stared at him. "They're still behind the scaffolding, Xander. And no, having them eaten wouldn't get checks any faster."
"Okay." He went to check out the scaffolding and fix things for her. Clearly someone was playing nasty games with them and he was tired of it. He saw the office cleaner and cleared his throat. "If someone on this side is trying her, tell them I'm a bit upset," he said quietly, getting a quick nod from the half-demon. "And she told me to quit writing hunters novels so the rest will be going up online somewhere. I send them to Sam, Sam puts them on a prophecy site with his."
"I can pass that on, knight." He walked off to call someone to tell them the knight was very displeased and was going to kill demons who were upsetting his paying person. She nagged him too much to be his girlfriend and they didn't understand the sort of relationship those two had.
Xander got back to painting. It clearly needed it. White was boring.
"Xander, they stopped because they were supposed to be painting it white," she called.
"White's boring, Paula. It'll make it seem like a high school too." He went back to painting. "Beyond that, this is a base coat primer, not the paint."
"Oh. Okay then." She let him do that while she went back to 'working out the transition problems' they were having with the old publishing house. Not like he'd go back to them since they were that petty. Neither would Rick probably. She finally hung up with a huff.
"Rick has a lot of people he can give you the name of," he called. She called him to talk to him. Xander got the rest of the wall covered and moved to the paint. White was really boring but if that's what she wanted..... Well, he was her minion in writing so he guessed he could temporarily do minion duty here too.
The minions showed up together for Xander a few days after he had finished painting Paula's office. "Beckett keeps saying 'nineteen foot snake demon' over and over," Detective Ryan said.
"The last time I saw a snake demon we had to blow the damn thing up," he muttered as he got up and grabbed a few things. He changed out of pajama pants too. He petted each of the cats, having to hunt one down to the bathroom where she was drinking out of the toilet, and then headed out with them. They sped to where reports were saying it was. Xander stared. "Yeah, we'll have to blow that sucker up. Pick me a building, guys, and a bomb?" He headed over there. "Hey, snakey!" he shouted, nicking his arm. "Come and get it. Hellmouth baby blood right here!"
The demon sniffed and moved toward him looking pleased. Xander ran, leading it toward where the officers had cleared an old building. The officers scattered when they saw it. Xander drew its attention from them and dove aside as it dove for him. He caught the piece of artillery and shot it at the neck area, making a huge dent. The demon screamed inside the building. Xander accepted the sword from someone and moved to cut off the trapped head. It had busted through the stairs and was trapped in the hole for the moment.
He got more of it cut off but the thing pulled free and screamed, diving down to hit him again. Xander threw a grenade in the mouth then dove out of the way. More damage. "Damn it!" he shouted. "Why can't we do another school implosion?" He got something from Beckett's car since she was driving up. He shot it at the head and the nose disintegrated. Then he finished off the beheading. It took him an hour and his shoulders ached like hell, but it was done. He panted, staring at it. "So much easier just to behead it by blowing it up." A few officers whimpered. He looked at one. "It was."
"It was bigger by the reports too," Castle said, looking at it. "How do we make sure it's dead, Xander?"
"We blew up the last one," he said bluntly. "We can do the Dean and Sam method and set it on fire." He shrugged then winced and rubbed his shoulder. "The fire department guys are really nice, even if they are mildly insane to walk into a building with an explosive tank on their backs. I respect their version of crazy for it." A few more cops laughed. He bent down to stretch, then up. "Ow." He rubbed that same shoulder. "Beckett?"
"No clue, Xander." She called the captain over that. "Captain Turner said to burn the sucker if we can find out who it was."
Xander looked at her. Then up. Then back at her. "If it was a turned one, we would've had to have an eclipse recently." She gaped. "That's the rite. As far as I know. You can call Wes."
Rick walked off doing that because that carcass stunk. "Wesley, Rick Castle. I'm asking a question for Xander. Yes, about the giant snake demon that's on tv." He pointed up and Beckett called dispatch to have them move the news choppers. "Could it be from another source that didn't take an eclipse?" He listened. "Really," he said, looking around. "Thank you." He hung up. "Xander, you're right. He said look for the portal."
"People, we have a portal somewhere on this snake's backtrail," Esposito ordered. "Find it, call it in so we can kill it before another one comes through." They called that in to their units and jogged the path of destruction. "Kid, you good?" he asked more calmly.
"Shoulder's wrenched. We can blow up most portals as far as I know." He frowned at Faith when she and Tara walked up together. "You're late?"
"I was in New Jersey," Faith said dryly.
"Clan of apocalypse demons."
He nodded. "It's not a grad redo. We have a portal somewhere."
"We need artillery," Faith reminded him. They both looked at Beckett.
"We have more coming, kids." They nodded and followed the destruction trail. Tara did a healing spell on Xander's shoulder. They heard the call in that they had found it.
Xander looked at the building then at the officers. "Tell me they cleaned it?" he begged quietly.
"It's break, kid. No kids inside."
"Thank God." He looked up and said a prayer then at him. "Teachers?"
"Two, and some support people. All huddled in the gym. They've got a few others in there."
Xander looked at Faith. Who shrugged. "Define others?" Faith asked. They showed her the camera feeds they were hacking into. "Shit," she muttered. "I need new panties."
Xander nodded. "Yup, feel about the same." They looked at Tara, who was giving it a heartbroken look. He looked at the officer. "Clear the people."
"We can't get to them, Harris."
"Okay, have someone follow us in while we get them out. Then the building goes. It's the best and fastest way because that's showing something bigger trying to come through the portal."
"They'd have to repair it anyway," Tara agreed. "I can't bring that down without help."
"Detective Ryan, get Father Morgan? It's going to need blessed," Faith called.
"Already called him, Faith."
Xander looked at the floor plans, marking dots. "Explosives here, guys. And the hugest thing you can find here." They gave him an odd look. "Beckett, I need the bomb supply."
"Taylor's bringing it, Xander. He's got them armed and ready."
"Good." He and Faith grabbed some weapons. "Tara, stay. Help them when they get out. Give us some covering fog or something?" She nodded. "They're scent hunters but if they spot us moving they'll still come." That got a nod and everyone geared up in body armor. SWAT showed up. Xander told them where to put the bombs, getting nods. The duo went in with officers and SWAT behind them. A few smaller, fast five-foot, chicken-looking demons ran at them and they fired on them. Tara moved one to a back hallway for the scavengers to be drawn by the blood. They snuck up the halls, finding the main problem was three demons trying to get into the room. They fired on them and killed two. Xander handed Faith his axe, letting her get the other one. More were coming and SWAT got them into the locked gym.
"I thought all gyms had emergency exits like Sunnydale's," Faith quipped.
"Building's too old for that," one of the people in there said. "Who're you?"
"New York's slayer." She looked then pointed. "Window. Break it, X." He did that and they got the people evacuated through it. They went last and signaled Tara that they were clear. The building blew up a minute later and it was loud. They got pelted with demon parts and stones. The portal was still standing so Xander and Mac Taylor fired off enhanced rockets into it. It shattered and they could hear screams on the other side. Tara moved to take down any remaining magic and it was done. Faith looked around. "Can those occur naturally?" she asked.
Tara shook her head. "Coven of teenage girls. I felt five young female signatures."
"Great," Xander said dryly, leaning on his tube. "Just what the city needs. Teenagers with magic and jealousy issues. It'll be like _the Craft_ only it'll eat people." He let one of the guys take the tube from him. He looked at the mess, then at Beckett and Turner. "Fire department?"
"Got the other one, is coming here with HAZMAT to clean up the parts here, kids," Turner said.
Faith grinned. "That's what I like about you guys. You don't make us clean up the demon remains."
"Hell, Buffy just walks over them," Xander said dryly. "LAPD really hates it when she's got to do a lot of slaying."
"Yeah, me too." She surrendered her weapons, handing Xander back his axe.
"Sir, we need to confiscate that," an officer said, pointing at the axe.
"It's my baby," Xander told him. "Touch my axe, watch me break your arm." The officer nodded and walked off at that. He looked at Faith. "I was actually watching tv, not writing."
"I'm surprised. No muses?"
He shrugged. "Not today. I guess I know why." She nodded at that.
Beckett got them into the car. "Let's let the ER check you two out for injuries. Tara?"
"I'm fine," she assured her. She lit the remains on fire and they burned themselves out. "So much faster." She walked off. "I'm due in the restricted room today." She smiled at an officer in her way. "Excuse me."
"Miss, I can drive you wherever."
"I work at the library across town."
"That's fine. It stinks here thanks to the parts." She smiled and let him drive her there.
Beckett shook her head. "Guys, go clean up," she told her minions. "Castle, you too."
"I'm going to take a shower," he said. "Change clothes, then go pray." He walked off.
Detective Ryan looked at the waiting priest. "Thanks, Father."
"I'll bless it to make sure it can't come back. You might check Harris' leg, he's trying hard not to limp. I know he's the sort of boy to not let you know."
"We can tell the docs that," Esposito promised, texting that to Beckett. They went to get their own showers and then do paperwork. They were sure they had some somewhere waiting on them.
Taylor looked at SWAT. "I guess we can fade too."
"Hopefully. Is there paperwork for this?"
"Ask Turner. He's in charge of that." That got a nod and they left to go calm down, clean up, and check their gear. Mac went back to the lab too. He needed his own shower. He had...stuff in his hair.
Father Morgan shook his head, but smiled. "It's better anyway." He started on the outskirts of the area, blessing the area fully before going back to his church to pray.
Xander walked into the station, handing Beckett his phone. "Here, Buffy wants to talk to you about the demon snake." He walked off.
She put the phone against her ear. "Yes, Miss Summers? We did call him to handle that. Because we knew he could, or if he couldn't he'd tell us. No, Faith was in New Jersey with some apocalypse demons." She listened to the nagging and bitching. She finally snorted. "I'm very well aware of what Xander can and can't do, Miss Summers, and normal is like every other NYPD officer. All of us there did our parts and if we knew how to wield an axe or a sword we probably would've helped with the first one." She hung up and put the phone down on her desk. She noticed the text message from Paula. She wrote back she had his phone to save him from nagging. Paula made sure he was all right. Beckett answered and she said she'd let him calm down. Beckett got back to her scene report.
"If my girlfriend ever turned into that sort of nagging girl, I'd probably walk away too," Kevin Ryan admitted from his desk.
"We'd save you, bro," his partner assured him. "There's no way we'd let you go down to nagging like that."
"She told me he was *normal* like it was some disease," Beckett said, looking over at them.
"Yeah, he said they had that problem before," Ryan quipped. "Often according to Tara."
"I'm glad I grew up with sense and strength." She got back to work.
"Xander said she was the airhead cheerleader before," Esposito said with a smirk. "I can't imagine you as one of those, Beckett."
She snorted. "No, I wasn't a cheerleader by any means." She shook her head. Castle came in. "Finally finished?"
"Yup. My mother nagged me that I wasn't Xander." He sat down. "Do I have a report?" She handed over the papers. He spotted the phone. "Nagging?"
"Figures." He got to work. "Where is he?"
"Walked off after handing me the phone."
"Calming down. Probably in a club somewhere," Esposito said.
"I don't think there's many of his sort left in town," Rick said dryly.
"There's always mafia sorts and gang members," Ryan quipped.
"Don't wish them on him," Esposito complained.
"If he could draw nice guys....."
"Twin, nineteen-year-old Irish assassins in to deal with someone," Beckett read the newest text message to Xander's phone. "I'm guessing we're bugged again?" The guys all nodded and pointed at it. She got up to stomp on it. Didn't destroy it. So she took it to the women's bathroom and put it into the tampon drop box. Then she washed her hands and went back to her desk.
Esposito answered his phone an hour later. "Yeah, Esposito?" He listened. "We were wondering where he ended up. Thanks, Mikey." He hung up. "He's at Gregorio's."
"Tamalat's place?" Beckett asked with a grimace. "Why?"
"Lunch." She snorted. "And picked up two daughters who wanted to flatter him about his books. The owner nicely had someone I know call to come get him off his daughters. He said they're too young to be evil." He grabbed his jacket and headed out. When he got there, Xander was chatting over the newest fantasy novel coming out. He tapped him on the head. "You have a report on what happened earlier we need you to do, Xander."
"Coming." He grinned. "It was nice talking to you, ladies. Have a good day." He grinned and put down money for his lunch and tip, heading out with him. Once they were in the car he looked at him. "We were only talking about books."
"Their daddy thought they might turn evil to have you." He drove off.
"Actually they're part of the John Sheppard fanclub so they want to join him." Detective Esposito shook his head. "I really have to do paperwork? Because if that keeps up, I'll let you guys do it more often."
"No thanks." He brought him back to the station, handing him to Beckett. "They were Sheppard enthusiasts and wanted to join him and talk about fantasy novels." He got back to his forms.
She pointed at an empty chair. "We're saving you from finding the twin assassins," she told him.
"They were very nice and pretty. They were at the club last night." He grinned. "They're a bit sore this morning from all the sex." They all stared at him. "What? They were pretty nice girls who only wanted some fun. Apparently others had told them about me." He shrugged. "I should thank whoever is spreading rumors of my prowess."
"I'm so using your rep to write a book about who ends up killing you for sleeping with them," Castle muttered, taking down ideas. Xander got up to give him a hug. "Thanks, kid."
"Just don't make it prophetic. Buffy would be really mad if it wasn't a demon." He sat down and got handed a form. "Must I? Really?"
"Yup," Beckett said.
"If I have to do this every time, I'll quit saving people."
"No you won't. You'd hate to see people die while you sat on your butt watching ET," Castle said.
"Good point." He filled out the short form. It was nicely short. "Don't Faith and Tara have to do this too?"
"We faxed one to Tara," Ryan said with a grin.
"Faith filled one out in the ER but it wasn't a good one," Beckett told him. He pouted but filled it out. She tossed him his phone. "Paula wanted to make sure your hands are all right."
"Just that wrenched shoulder."
"And the cut on your leg from the thing's fin," she reminded him. "It took stitches, you can't forget that."
"Yes I can. I ignore injuries all the time." He paused. "The school's going to try to sue me, aren't they?"
"No but they're going to guilt trip you into donating to the rebuilding fund," Rick said with a grin.
"Captain Turner brought the footage from inside the school to the mayor, our commissioner, and the head of the school boards," Beckett said. "They don't blame you at all and they were thinking about closing that one to save money." She looked over. "Half of the earlier fight is on the news."
"I'm guessing that's what made Buffy call to nag," he said dryly.
"No, she said someone out here called her."
"Got to stop that nagging pipeline then." He looked at his phone when it rang. "Hi, Dean. No, we're all fine. Wrenched shoulder, few stitches on my leg from that fin. I'm fine." He sighed. "Dean, you're nagging like you're my boyfriend, you know that right?" Esposito snickered, shaking his head. "Yes you are, Dean. At least Buffy waited ten minutes to start on the 'you're normal, you can't do that' nagging. Dean, with the way you're nagging, apparently I'm missing out on some fun. So are you close to New York?" he grinned. "Precinct doing paperwork. Sure, if you're close, pick me up some milk and I'll pay you back later. Thanks, man." He hung up because Sam stole the phone to nag. The text message of 'he'll get you later and you made him huff and pout' didn't please him.
"Dean's pretty enough to escort you places," Rick quipped.
"So's Sam," Xander said. "Dean likes breasts way too much. He made sure I knew that." He handed over the phone and left to go hide at home.
"I think I used to be more sane before I knew about demons," Esposito told Beckett.
She nodded. "Me too." They shared a smirk and got back to work. Castle was still working on his series of 'who kills Xander' ideas. Beckett's phone rang and she looked at it, swatting Rick. "Frederick said not to include him." She showed him the message.
Rick took it to text something back. Then he handed it back and settled in to work on ideas. It could be a whole series interviewing all of his dates and what they had done. He hoped it wasn't prophetic, but Xander was more likely to die by demon than bad girl or bad boy.
Paula looked up a few weeks later, accepting the book from Rick. "Did Xander's muses bite you?"
"Yes. That promised series on who kills Xander." He walked off shaking his head. "Not proofread at all."
She read through the first chapter. "Nikki Heat finding out who killed my other author." She kept going, kicking back to keep reading. He laid out well why there were multiple books in this side-series. "Has he actually dated spies?" she muttered. She started to make notes. She also called Xander when she got to one part. "If Dean or Sam are going to the movie premiere with you, get them dressed." She hung up and kept reading, making notes about what needed to be switched around.
Not bad for a first draft though.
Xander hung up and glared at the phone then at the brotherly pair of hunters on his couch. "Paula said if one of you is going to the movie premiere with me tomorrow, I have to pretend to be Buffy and make you shop."
"Don't need that sort of attention, thanks," Dean quipped with an evil smirk for him.
"It would make a statement that some hunters like the series, which we do," Sam said.
"You go ahead, bitch, and get a haircut too before Dad nags."
Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm fine, Dean."
Xander snickered. "I'm going to go hide from the phone in a sauna." He went in there and stripped down to just a towel. It was warm and wet by the time Dean joined him. He pointed. "A bench all to yourself even."
"This is really cool."
"This is for when I need to lose five pounds of water weight to fit into interview clothes or when I'm really chilled in the winter."
"Five whole pounds?" Dean joked.
"The pants are a bit tight. They wanted them tighter. Apparently I don't look as respectable in baggy pants."
Dean snorted. "That figures." He got comfortable. "You know, if you and Sammy wanted to start something....."
"Sam's not ready to settle down in my version of normal. He wants the kids, the wife, the house, the tire swing in the backyard, that stuff. My insane life isn't filled with tire swings and kids who make you fathers day cards."
"True." He stared at him. "If I liked dick," he said dryly. Xander smirked at him. "What did happen that night Rosenburg pulled him?"
"She encouraged us all to get drunk. Apparently we had a hell of an orgy." Dean shivered. "Sam and I both went to visit my doc the next morning because I knew I didn't use a condom. I was sticky." Dean shuddered. "Yup, exactly." He put his feet up. "Considering we couldn't find the bottle the next morning to see what we had drank, I'm not sure what it was."
"Someone really should paddle her."
"She sent Paula a written apology. She said she thought it'd make one of them want to stay with me."
"Pill packs?" Dean asked, sounding hopeful.
"Even the guys took one, just in case she got a big idea. Though, I did ask Daniel to paddle her this time." Dean grinned. "I think Sam and I are the only two that didn't get pills."
"I'll make sure Sammy isn't pregnant, Xander. If so, any idea if it's yours?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. I don't remember a damn thing after the first few drinks and some cuddling."
"Yup." He grinned. "But Beckett arrested everyone else to get them out of the city."
Sam leaned in. "Don Epps in LA wanted to know if others could put up that sort of portal and how easy it is?"
"I'm not Wesley, ask him? Or Tara?"
"Wesley's got a migraine after being hit on the head last night."
"Was it Toth?" Xander quipped.
Sam stared at him. "What's a Toth?"
"It's a demon that split me in two for a bit," he quipped with a smirk.
Sam asked that. "Epps said no. Buffy asked that too but it was a goblin with a troll hammer."
Xander nodded. "They're under Sacramento. Tara said the portal was five teenage girls doing a _Craft_ remake."
"Okay." He grinned and told him that on the way back to the living room.
"Sammy?" Dean called. He came back. "Did you take a pill pack after that drinking bout since it was Rosenburg's idea?"
Sam blinked a few times. "Can she do that?" Xander nodded. "Huh. No, I didn't think I needed to. Let me go pee on a stick." He went to buy one and came back to use it. He sent up a loud prayer of thanks that it was negative.
Dean grinned. "Missed that one. Have you done that yet?"
"Nope, I didn't get any up the ass. Apparently I topped." Dean gaped. Xander shrugged. "You can always tell the next morning even if they're built like a toothpick, Dean."
"I don't need to know about ass sex, Xander."
"Fine." He shifted again, letting himself drift off in his thoughts or maybe nap. He was protected with the guys there.
Dean smirked at the first snore, getting out to go shower and change back into real clothes. He cornered Sam in the hallway, staring at him. "Most homes don't have tire swings these days. You recycle them." Sam looked confused. "And I doubt you'd do the whole 'dad' thing, Sammy."
"Xander's... I'd get drawn back into it, like he has," he said quietly, glancing at the stairs.
Dean nodded. "Neither one of us is ever going to fully retire because things come for Winchesters." Sam slumped but nodded he knew that. "So why not?"
"I'm not sure I can take the whole 'guy' thing forever. Now and then, some stress relief, some playing around, but I'm not sure if I can handle it for good. But you and Xander would work well together."
"His muses would drive me nuts. So would having to get a normal life."
"You could teach hunters," Sam said with a grin. "Dad's gotten a few requests for that. That's why he changed his number and no one has it."
"Yeah, maybe when I'm limping." Sam nodded. "You sure?" Sam nodded. "He's lonely right now."
"I can gladly play, Dean, but I can't get his hopes up."
"He said he knew you wanted that normal family stuff."
"Then maybe I'll go to the opening with him. I wanted to watch the movie anyway." He smirked. "You can come. That way it doesn't look like a date."
"Maybe." He shrugged. "It means we'd have to dress up."
"Xander's wearing dress pants and a nice shirt."
"I guess we can do that somehow." Someone knocked and they looked at the doorway. One of the kittens was sniffing. "Who is it?" Dean called. They went to let Tara's girlfriend Beth in. "He's in the sauna losing some water weight."
She smiled. "Paula said to get you two pretty and to get Sam a haircut." She petted the kitten batting at her. It ran off. "Get dressed, guys." They sighed but nodded, heading out with her and Xander's credit card. By the time they got back, Xander was napping nakedly on the couch. She blushed and handed them the bags, then fled. She fled all the way to her girlfriend. "I'm done with Paula's orders." She was still blushing. "Xander's not all that tiny of a guy."
Tara hugged her. "I caught him too. Even if I liked boy parts, I'd be scared his were too big." They giggled and Tara went back to shelving while Beth waited for her to get off work. "What did Paula want?"
"Dean and Sam dressed for the opening."
"I hope he has enough tickets." She called Paula to ask. She and Tara were going too. Paula promised she had gotten them extra for the two hunters. It was good publicity and Xander needed it to make a lot of money so more books became movies.
Xander got out of the car, holding the door for Tara and Beth to get out of the back. Dean and Sam pulled up as well. The guards stared at them and Xander held up his tickets. They showed him where to go. He looked at the girls, then at Dean and Sam, who were right behind them. "If they ask, what's his name?" he hissed to Beth as they walked.
"Hernando Rivi-esa," she pronounced for him. He nodded. "I think they only ask girls that, Xander."
"Maybe." He smiled at the reporters. "Ladies." They giggled and waved him over. He waved at a few squealing fans with a happy grin. He grinned at the reporters again.
"How are you feeling? This is your first movie," one asked.
"I'm *so* nervous. Tara had to make me eat. Dean had to nag. It was bad and tense all day." He grinned. "But now it's time and I can't be nervous since I'm here with you two."
They smiled. "Good job. I hear it's a great movie, Alexian."
"Thanks. Others here?" he asked quietly. They pointed them out for him. "Why is E! News here?"
"It's got some big budget actors," one told him with a pat. "You're too skinny."
"I'm not. I had to sweat off some water weight to get into the pants." They giggled and he walked his posse up the red carpet. He signed an autograph for someone waving a poster. Another one on a book and a second book, then they were at the E! News station. "Hi." He grinned. He had checked his teeth three times on the way over. It's why Tara had driven them.
"Alexian, I heard the movie's very good," the reporter said, smiling at him.
He beamed back. "The writer they picked did a good job with the script. The actors did it good justice. I'm very happy with the things I've seen of it. Tonight I'll see it for the first time in the full cut."
She smiled. "Any other books being looked at?"
"I don't know. They have the option to make the next few into a sequel but I haven't heard anything." He shrugged but grinned. "If so I'd like to see some of the fantasy stuff made. I know they can't do Tral with the dwarf jokes but some of the other stuff looks like it'd be fun. But I'm not the pushy sort."
"I know. You're a good boy."
He smirked and winked. "Sometimes."
She laughed. "Who did you bring?"
"This is Tara, who kept me eating for years. And her girlfriend Beth." He touched her on the shoulder. "And these are two friends just in for the week, Dean and Sam Winchester."
"Hi," Dean said with a smile and a nod.
She looked. "You're hunters."
"We are," Sam agreed with a grin. "Hopefully nothing here is that bad tonight."
She laughed. "Some wicked but not evil, boys. Do you like the series?"
"I do like the series," Sam said with a goofy grin. "I've read all but I think three of them. Dean tossed one out on me because I fell asleep and threw my book at him when he tried to wake me up a few months back." She went 'aww' and Xander playfully swatted Dean on the arm.
"It nearly broke my nose because it's so thick," Dean said, swatting Xander back. The reporters giggled and they moved on. They ran into the back of Alexis Castle.
"My favorite research helper," Xander said, giving her a hug.
She smiled at him. "It got me a lot of shoe shopping and it wasn't hard work." She winked at her grandmother, who sighed and patted Xander on the cheek.
"Alexian, did you like what you've seen of the movie so far?" the reporter asked.
"I have. I haven't seen the full thing yet but what I've seen showed that the writer was very faithful to the books and they did an amazing job turning it into a movie." He smiled.
"This must be Tara," she said, pointing the microphone at her. Tara smiled and waved a little wave. "Now, he's said a lot that you're like his sister. Are you two still living together?" She saw the hand holding and grinned. "I forgot he said you two were shy."
"Beth's a great young woman and she helps me tons whenever someone needs me to have someone do assistant type things," Xander quipped with a grin for her.
"Your other friends?" the reporter asked.
"Dean and Sam Winchester. They were in the area and stopped in to play with the cats and use the pool." He grinned.
"You're hunters," she said, smiling at them. They smirked and nodded. "Are you fans of the books?"
"Yup, I am," Sam said with a grin. "I even quipped a part at a ghost we were taking down when it attacked the other day." She giggled and let them move on to the next reporter.
Dean looked at Xander. "I know you said they asked the same questions," he said quietly. Xander nodded. "At least there's only three." Xander grinned at him. Dean smirked back. "More inside?"
"No. The last of the reporters and she's a local tv station entertainment reporter." He smiled at her. "Hi."
"Mr. Harris. Good work the other day."
"Thank you. I'm glad we could save everyone."
"He so got nagged for that," Dean assured her.
"Awww, you're hunters." They smiled and nodded. "And I see Miss Maclay and her girlfriend showed up to support you tonight too."
"Tara was there when I wrote the first one," Xander said with a grin. "She still calls to remind me to quit writing and eat sometimes." The reporter laughed and nodded, letting them go on. Xander glanced back at her, getting a smirk back. He grinned back and signed another book. They walked around Rick's family since he was signing more books. Xander got yelled for and he came back to sign one, smiling at Rick's Mother. "'Scuse me, Martha. Have to sign a book."
She smiled and patted him on the arm, letting him do that. Then they went inside. Sam and Dean got popcorn. Tara and Beth got one to share. Xander got his own and paid, then they went inside. They all picked the next to back row, on the same wall as the door. It was a bit more protected in case of an attack. They filed in with Dean and Sam around the ladies and Xander sitting in the second seat on the row. That made them look like they took up more of it. The theater wasn't packed. Some of the actors. The producers. The director's family. A few other notables.
Dean and Sam came out talking about it with Xander, who agreed they had done an excellent job. Xander got a text from someone, grimacing at them for it. Rick just smirked back. "Fine," he mouthed. He looked at them. "After party?" Dean and Sam shook their heads. "I'm obligated." Tara and Beth strolled off talking while Dean and Sam faded into the shadows. Xander huffed but headed to the location. He smiled at the producer. "You guys did a great job. Even Dean and Sam loved it." They smiled at him. He greeted those in the room he should and avoided the waiters with drinks. He wanted something to drink to be polite, and as an excuse to get away from people he didn't like, but he didn't want to drink. He walked up to the bar. "Soda? Without liquor?" The guy gave him an odd look. "Okay. Something non-alcoholic?" he offered.
"Most of us who don't drink get something like the sparking grape juice. It's not bad but it's still a good excuse maker."
Xander grinned at him. "I loved your work in the last few and I'm glad Rick Castle suggested you for that part. You did an amazing job." The actor grinned and walked off. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He looked at him. "Don't become one of the young addicts, kid."
"I don't do anything like that and hardly ever drink. Who said I am?" He accepted his fizzy grape juice and walked over. "Did someone say I am?"
"Yeah. There was something said about an orgy...."
"No, that was a witch's fault. She wanted me to pick one." He smirked, sipping it. "Not bad. Thank you." He walked over to talk to Paula. "Who mistook Willow's compulsion to get drunk as me having a problem?" She gaped. He stared back.
"Oh, dear, I hadn't heard that."
He smirked. "Can we go talk to someone together?" She nodded and he walked her over to one of the reporters. "Who said it?"
She blinked a few times. "Said what, Mr. Harris?"
"That I have a drinking problem or whatever it was?"
"Um... There was a raid on your apartment after an all night orgy with liquor and drugs from what we heard."
"No, we had a friend who happens to be a witch. She decided that would give them a chance to decide to stay with me and date me. That was her plan to get us together and make me happy." She choked, shaking her head. "Yeah. I don't drink. I've been drunk a grand total of eight times in my whole life, most of them after battles."
"My car broke down in Oxnard and I needed to fix it and pay rent. That was an easy job. I was on a post-grad roadtrip so I could learn about myself and the real world outside of Sunnydale." She blanched. He nodded. "Even then I didn't drink. Out of that eight, only one comes from there and most of the time I did virgin shots. I had a few beers here and there but I didn't really drink all that often. I'll admit I went to a few wild parties. I was also eighteen at the time."
"Oh. Um, that's ...not what was reported."
"Which bitch in my life was it?" he asked with a grin.
"Xander?" Paula asked.
"That's so a Buffy thing to do. Or a Willow."
"Miss Rosenburg was very helpful with your past."
"Hmm." He grimaced. "Can I look that over for accuracy?"
"So you don't drink?" the reporter asked.
"Hardly ever. I have two drunk parents. Be damned if I want to end up like them." He smiled sweetly. "Especially since they're still both in jail."
"Ooh. Um, maybe you should talk to some others?" She led him over to let him talk to some other reporters. Paula followed like the overprotective agent she was. "People, apparently we got some things wrong."
"Facts would be nice," Xander agreed. They stared. He sighed. "I don't drink, people. How am I a lush?"
"Witch compelled orgy, thank you." They gaped. He nodded. "It's situations like this that make me want to kill my friend who is a witch and not Tara." He smiled. "What else did the bitches tell you that was wrong?"
"You've used drugs?"
"I got into a few wild parties when I was on my roadtrip. I've had some bad girls who kidnaped me who drugged me. No, I don't use. Not even to shut up the overactive muses." Paula patted him on the back. "She can tell you that. She's my agent and publisher. She groans over all my ex's." He smiled. "Any other allegations?"
"I've never hid that," Xander pointed out to that reporter. "I've dated both men and women. My two long term ones have been female but I'm not against a long term thing with a guy. As long as they're good to me and treat me with respect. And they put up with the cats and the muses." He shrugged. "The same things I'd want from any long term relationship."
"Are you a top or a bottom?" one quipped with a grin.
Xander looked at her. "Date me and find out," he quipped with an evil smirk. "Or aren't you bad girl enough?" She shivered and shook her head, strolling off. He looked at the others. "Even if I was in a real relationship I wouldn't answer that one. What else is being spread? That way I can counteract the rumors and kick someone's ass over it."
"Quit swearing," Paula ordered.
"She deserves it."
"She does. She sent a letter of apology about the compulsion that night," she told them.
"She needs to send another one," Xander quipped dryly. "Tonight." He sipped his fizzy grape juice. "Before anyone asks, someone suggested the grape juice."
"We can tell by the color," one agreed. "So you don't drink?"
"Outside of post-apocalypse ones? One on the road trip? No. And frankly, eight times drunk in over ten years since I had my first beer doesn't make me a drunk. I'm nothing like my family."
They shared a look. "You need to do an interview," they decided.
"With?" Paula asked.
"I'll gladly go on wherever and talk to whoever," Xander said with a smirk. "Because I don't like these rumors. Really."
"We can get you on one tomorrow and you need to do Extra or ET," one said. "They're the main rumor people."
"Sure," Xander agreed, looking at Paula. "And we can do E! if you want." She nodded, calling people to set it up. "Please spout back and if more like this come out, let me know, ladies? I'll be damned if I want to look like a starlette." They grinned. "Really." They nodded. He walked off, going to slip out the side door. He had a headache. He got home and tossed Sam his phone. "Would you please inform Willow about how I'm going to sue her ass for telling people I'm a druggie and a drunk? Before I kill the bitch?" He headed up to the pool to strip down and do a lot of laps to calm down.
"Sure," Sam agreed, calling out there. "Buffy, hi, Sam. Is Willow there? You might want to get her and Daniel and put this call on speaker." She did that. "Great, thanks. Guys, Xander's going to sue you for everything you've ever thought about owning. He heard about those rumors. He's presently so pissed he's not able to talk and is in the pool working it off. Yes, Willow, that's why I told you to include Daniel. So he knows you're going to be poor as hell forever and ever.
"Yeah, but he's not. And he's very upset. That apology letter? Not nearly enough from what we've seen on the various news things." He smirked at Dean. "No, Dean's cleaning his shotgun and checking bullets muttering about which type you use for witches." They hung up on Willow sobbing. "She's crying."
"She'll be crying like hell when Dad gets her. Dad heard and I told him that Xander's not like that. So did Tara. So did Joyce actually and asked him to come straighten her out again." Sam and he shared a smirk. "Joyce has tried to stop some of it."
"Xander's going to be doing interviews for years about this."
Dean nodded. "Probably. Think he's calmer?"
"No. Not for days."
Xander sat down where pointed to, letting them adjust his microphone for him. "Good?" he asked quietly, getting a nod. He looked at the men there. And then the screen. "Figures." He held up the letter.
"That's not coming through, Alexian." Xander put it down and stabbed it, and they heard a scream from somewhere. He held it back up again. "Oh, dear."
"Yeah, it wasn't me."
The reporter smiled. "Thank you for coming on to clear up these rumors, Alexian. What did you bring?"
"I brought the letter from the witch apologizing for compelling us that night that got reported so heavily." He let her have it. "And my last few tests, and reports from the cases of where I dated someone who kidnaped me and drugged me. Which is the only time I've used drugs outside three very wild parties when I was eighteen." He handed it over with a smile. "Doctor Drew, can you see those?"
"I can." He blinked at him. "It's normal to be upset, especially with your past."
"You know, if I wanted to be like them, I could easily be. It's not like there's not a lot of alcohol abuse among the hunting community. Let's face it, when your job is to end evil things that kill people, some who used to be human, it's not unreasonable. Unreasonable is my friends doing this."
"Are you going to sue them?" the reporter asked.
"Yes. I'm presently fighting with myself about that but I'm leaning toward yes. I'm also leaning toward a physical butt kicking of the ages. Because not the first time they've tried to screw up my life on purpose." He smiled sweetly.
"Why did this one kidnap you?" Doctor Drew asked.
"She wanted sex. I only draw bad girls and boys." He shrugged. "It happens. Agents on the darker side, assassins, weapons dealers, hunters." He shrugged again. "If I drew nice people, I'd date nicer people. I don't. Which is why those detectives broke up Willow's hint at 'date them' the next morning." The shrink/addiction specialist gave him an odd look. Xander nodded. "That's in there too." He found it and went pale when he read who was arrested.
Xander looked at the reporter again. "I'm fairly realistic that I don't draw nice girls and guys. I've never drawn nice girls and guys. Hell, my first one date was a shape changer that wanted to eat virgins after they fertilized her eggs." The reporter gaped in horror. "Even with all that, I've been drunk a grand total of nine times. I got corrected on the eight times. Apparently I blocked out that court case start of an apocalypse when one of the detectives I know got me royally drunk so I didn't get into a fight to calm down."
"On the drug issue?"
"Few wild parties back when I was on that road trip."
"You stripped then," Doctor Drew said.
"Yes, my engine blew up. I needed to make enough money to live on and fix the car." The older man gave him a dirty look. "Not like Hardees would do that," he said dryly. "Beyond that, I was on a road trip to figure myself out, find out about real life, and all that good stuff you do on a post-graduation road trip. Stripping seemed easy. Actually, I started out doing dishes and ended up on the fill in spot one night. I didn't stip more than ten times in that six months."
He shrugged. "I was geekier, less muscled, and had less rhythm back then. I sucked at the stripping part but my draw for serial killers worked in my favor." He smiled at the reporter, who was looking stunned. "Four of them now." She shuddered. "It happens when you're me. Like I said, I'd date nice people if I drew nice people."
"I can see that point, Alexian. Are you very upset?"
"I'm horribly upset. Especially since no one said a word to me for over four months." She flinched. "No one asked me a question about it. Not during one of the interviews I've done. Not at the convention I was at last month. As far as I'm concerned, some of you are just as guilty as the ones spreading lies." He smiled. "My agent wants me to calm down though."
"I can see that point, yes." She cleared her throat. "So, what are you doing now?"
"Proofreading. Entertaining some friends who are in. Playing with the cats. I've been too upset to write for the last week. There's something coming out soon but I think it was the Fairytale YA book."
"Oh, part of that trilogy?"
"No, someone wanted me to do an updated fairytale." He grinned. "It came out okay. The princess kicks butt. The prince keeps going 'I didn't know girls were trained to do that' because he's from a fairly conservative kingdom. She trained herself because she didn't want to be one of those weak, fainting types of princesses."
"You do write a lot of strong female characters," the doctor said with a smile.
Xander grinned. "I know some very strong women. Two of which can turn me into paste."
"The slayers you've worked with," he said. Xander nodded. "Are they healthy?"
"Sometimes. Faith's a lot better now, more centered. Buffy's one of the ones that sent in that crap info." The doctor shuddered. He smiled at her again.
"So you're going all right?"
"Right now I'm doing okay," he agreed. "My wrists are feeling limp because they haven't had their usual workout from typing all day."
"Have you talked to someone about your hypergraphia?" the doctor asked.
"Yes, and they agreed that the muses were so hyper because guys like me don't get to be your age. Like most writers do. Unfortunately we're well aware that they're compressing things in case I die in the next apocalypse battle. Faith even asked if they were a curse."
"There's ways to get that calmed down," he offered.
Xander shrugged. "Nothing better to do right now. It doesn't keep me from dating the bad boy and girl society members." The reporter snickered. "If I don't live to be seventy, I can't put out a book a year. They're compressing it and when I get past that point, then we'll decide what I'm doing. Who knows, I might go back to construction work." He smiled at the reporter. "You know, I came to you first because my friends think you're nicer." She laughed and swatted him. The producer called 'cut' and he gathered things. "Thank you for straightening that out and next time, just ask when bullshit shows up about me. I'll answer reasonable questions." She nodded, shaking his hand and letting him go to his other interview.
"He's a very angry young man," Doctor Drew said.
The reporter looked at him. "Wouldn't you be mad? Especially since we all jumped without evidence?" He nodded that was true. "I'm hoping he doesn't sue us."
"That's a good point." He sighed and signed off, going to do something calming in his facility's gardens. Sure enough, his secretary had the summons waiting. It was a huge amount too.
Xander showed back up at his apartment, finding John there and no boys. "Did you eat them like Zeus?"
"No. They're in New Jersey helping Faith finish off that apocalypse cult of demons, kid."
"Sure." Xander petted the cats, making them all happy. "Did the John babysit you?" he asked the meowing one with a grin. "Want some nummies?" He got them some treats and they were happier cats. "Sam told you not to let them out when someone's not here, right?"
"I figured they couldn't wander outside at all."
"No, they can, but one tried to jump buildings and we don't want to take that chance." He settled in. "How did it look?"
"They edited it to make you look less pissed off," John said. Xander grinned. "There's not that much alcohol abuse."
"Yes there is. Even you retreat to it instead of dealing with the reality for a while. Even I do after battles." John nodded that was true. "Which is, by definition, abuse. There's a whole lot that would crawl into a bottle if the world would let them."
"Good point I guess." He stared at him. "Are you dating my son?"
"Sam wants a whole lot of normal things with kids and family holiday dinners, John. We occasionally play but he won't be serious with me. I can't give him that."
"Not the son I was wondering about."
Xander stared at him. "Dean keeps saying he likes breasts each time Sam suggests it," he said dryly. Someone knocked and he looked. "Open!" They walked in and shut the door. "Paula mad?" he asked Rick.
"Beckett's a bit pissed off since some reporter had someone break into their files to find your dating records." Xander rolled his eyes. "They're arrested though and the local reporters are amazed at how many we've arrested. Beckett got mentioned by the mayor for doing so good watching who you date."
"Yay," Xander said blandly. Rick patted him on the head. "Paula's not mad?"
"She said it was a good job and she liked suing the ones who commented without information. Loss of work she wasn't sure about."
"As soon as I heard I was so pissed off I couldn't work for weeks."
"I heard." He patted him again. "Alexis got an offer to date you by one of her classmates and the teacher immediately sent her to the school therapist." John burst out cackling at that news. "So maybe it'll calm down?"
"I'm hoping Willow doesn't try another attempt."
"You know, she hid that using Olivia," John said. "Daniel called up asking why his daughter had a bleeding arm."
"I'd kill the bitch if she was mine," Xander said. "That can kill Olivia." Rick nodded but shrugged. "Daniel's going to paddle her this time."
"Daniel moved out with the baby. Had a few witches out there that Tara suggested guard the baby from her. Called someone to come talk to her." Xander beamed. "He wanted to know if you still wanted to be her godmother."
"I can't hold Willow's magic addiction against her daughter. Olivia's an innocent. If I had known that I would've solved it some other way." John and Rick both nodded. He looked at Rick. "We need a poker night because I need to finally relax."
"The guys aren't busy and were wondering when you were going to calm down. Beckett changed the codes on your artillery supply."
Xander grinned. "I need to hand some over too when they pay me."
"They did. They paid her directly because they knew you were pissed off and taking out the LA team would cause problems," Rick said with a smirk. "You got to keep three things." Xander grinned at that.
"Is that why someone from the CIA and Homeland was up here?" John asked. "I have no idea why they asked me to find a certain demon for them to question."
"Jorge gave them something nuclear?" Xander guessed.
"His sister gave you something chemical," Rick corrected.
"She hates me."
"Jorge is off-realm doing something," Rick said dryly.
"Oh, okay. Probably handling things at an off-realm war." He shifted. One of the cats stared at him from the coffeetable. "What?" He patted his lap. She hopped over and kneaded him. "I love you too, princess kitten." He petted her. "Were you good for the kitty sitters?"
"They were fine, even if one does still like my son too much," John said.
Xander grinned. "Could be all of them."
"If you want one of them, treat them well or I'll kick your ass," John said bluntly.
"I'm not mean to those who're mine, John. I never have been. Even when I kicked out Anya I didn't hit her. I wanted to really bad."
"I know. I would have," Rick admitted. "And it's badly." Xander gave him a confused look. "Grammar."
"Okay. I'll learn that now." He grinned. "Not like I did in school." Rick patted him on the head. "So, anyway, poker game?"
"I can go," John said.
"Why?" Rick asked. "They'd probably ask you nosy questions about weapons and most of them would ask about ghosts. They're all mystery or horror writers."
"Fine. Xander, you need food."
Xander dug out his phone and found the delivering grocery store's number, putting in an order. His card worked and it was good. Rick got them over and it was nicer. The cats came in to play with the writers, then went to bother Dean and Sam when they came in. Sam ended up ordering them an extra pizza but it was a nice, calming game. Which they all needed after the week they'd had.
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