Visiting Old Friends.
Xander looked around the gym. It was a nice gym, his physical trainer worked in it, but people had just gotten really quiet. He spotted why. "Hi, John. Hi, Ronon." He bounced over to hug them both. "You're back for a bit?"
"Meetings but they wanted us to ask you some nosy questions so we're off for the night," John said with a grin.
"Cool!" He beamed back at his trainer, who waved him off. Xander beamed. "I have to pick up Olivia and then we can hit the new house. It's all done and there's guest rooms if you guys need one." He grabbed his bag and t-shirt, pulling it on.
"Olivia? New girlfriend?" John asked casually.
Xander snorted. "Hell no but she hates my taste in women. Willow's daughter." He walked outside with him, calling the daycare. "It's Xander Harris and I'm on my way to pick up Olivia.... Okay, that's cool. Thanks." He hung up. "Tara picked her up." He called her. "You picked her up?" He listened. "It's good. Ooh, I liked that blue dress. Can we get the koolaid out?" He grinned. "Perfect. No, John's in town with Ronon. Sure, if you and Beth want to have a mommy night, go for it, Tara. You know that. Sure, see you tomorrow before work." He hung up. "I'm free."
"Why do you have Willow's daughter?" John asked.
Xander walked them to his car, giving them the whole story. John shuddered. "We're sharing custody."
"That's cool." He grinned at Ronon. "Want to go out to dinner tonight since he won't have the baby?"
"That'd work. Means neither of you have to try to cook."
"I'm getting better at it," Xander said with a grin. "Get in, guys." He got them into the car and took them back to the house. He spotted the reporter. He got out first. "What?"
"Sir, were you invited to the baby fashion show next week?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No, not in the least." He grinned. "Olivia's really happy in anything. It's Tara that wants her to be cute." She pouted. "Sorry. Have a better night." He got John and Ronon inside and upstairs. He came off to find all three Winchesters. "Tara has her." John grinned. "Guys, this is John Sheppard and Ronon Dex. He's scary with a big knife as John told me." They smiled and talked. "Let me shower, John." He headed up to do that.
"We were going to take him out to catch up and do a guy's night out," John said.
Sam grinned. "We came up to get a demon gang that's bothering the NYPD." Sheppard smiled at him.
"Xander could use some guy time," Dean admitted. "It's been all about Olivia recently. He hasn't even dated because she scowled at them."
"That's probably good," John said dryly. "With who he dated when we were on that signing trip." They smirked at him. Xander came bouncing down the stairs in jeans and a plain t-shirt plus an overshirt. He bounced into his office and came out with his wallet. "You went out without it?"
"I went out with the basic wallet but this one has the cash." He beamed. "What's up, guys?"
"Demon gang," Sam said.
"Hmm. Down by Madison or the other one?"
"Other one," John Winchester said.
"Have fun, there's about eighty of them from a hell realm so they're not afraid of much. Outside magic." He smirked. "Anyone coming with?" They shook their heads. "Okay. Looks like it's just us, guys. Steak?" They nodded and followed Xander back down to the car. John got them a cab instead. That way Xander could unwind. He was really tense. Xander grinned at him. "I can't date with the baby. They think her scowl is scary."
"It's probably better that your bad girl society doesn't like her," John quipped with a grin.
"Maybe but two have helped me put really pretty hairdos in." Ronon shook his head but Xander grinned. "I'm more fun usually."
"I remember hearing." They got out and the waitress blinked a few times at them. "Dinner?" Ronon asked quietly.
"Of course," she squeaked. She was all but drooling at John. He grinned and she got them to their seats. She told the waitress and went to take a few personal minutes to calm down.
Xander grinned. "I never get that," he teased.
"I get all the good girls that don't ping your radar," he taunted back with an evil smirk.
"Maybe true." Someone squealed and ran over to pounce John. He got a hug, a kiss, and then she ran off babbling to her friends. "I was told the fangirl 'squee' was a sign that you're really liked," Xander teased.
"It's a weird sound to make," Ronon said. "I never did that at anything."
"You guys didn't have rock stars or film stars?" Ronon shook his head. "Nothing like it?"
"We had entertainment and music but nothing like the fan culture you see on earth."
"Huh. That's kinda weird." Ronon shrugged. "We should send up SI's swimsuit issue," he told John. Who swatted him on the head with a smirk. "What? It'd make a lot of guys squeal."
"We accidentally traded a Playboy once, Xander. The fits knew no end for days." Ronon laughed. "Didn't it?"
He nodded. "It did. Though they are very nice."
Xander sighed and nodded. "I could so drool on one of them." Their waitress came and they decided on diner quickly, letting her quit drooling on John. They caught up over dinner then they went to a sports bar. Ronon got to watch boxing matches, which he liked, and they talked about things in a back corner. O'Neill wanted to know things about a few rumors and what had happened to LA.
A waitress came over for refills. "You're Alexian Harris."
Xander smiled. "I am."
"Didn't we have to toss you out one night?"
"I didn't start that fight so they said I could come back. So I brought friends." He smiled and pointed.
"Huh." She handed over their beers and walked off muttering about those who hung out with the famous to get attention.
"No I'm not," Xander complained. John stared at him. "I was having wings and someone came in to yell at me about the hunting novels. So I kindly instructed him to please find a life. He took a swing. The bouncers came over when I used a free chair to shove him at the bar. It wasn't anything huge."
"Fine." He smirked. "Like the one in England?" Xander nodded quickly, taking a sip of his beer. "Figures."
"Yup." He settled in to get comfortable. He liked John. He could easily crush on John but John was straight and liked leggy women with brains. Ronon was cute too but straight probably. Xander went over the funny stories from recently, cracking John up. John had to get their next round but it was fine. Xander left a two dollar tip, which would probably piss off the waitress more. They went back to the house. All three Winchesters were either hiding, in bed, or had cleared out for the night. No idea which one. Xander checked and got them into beds for the night and went to his own. He heard a knock and got up, smiling at Ronon when he let him in. "Cats bothering you?" he teased.
"I saw you staring."
"If you're up for fun, big guy." Ronon smirked. Xander pounced. It was good to pounce. And Ronon was very good at what he did.
John blinked at the wall a few times. "Huh." He shifted some and let himself fall asleep. He had another full day of meetings tomorrow. Ronon could get some stress relief. He hated being on base.
Xander picked up Olivia the next morning. Tara had brought her over on her way to work. Olivia had climbed the stairs to come get the uncle up. "Hi, princess." He nuzzled their cheeks together. "Let's go get nummies." He kissed Ronon and walked her down the stairs. John was already up. "John, this is Olivia."
"Hi, Olivia," he said, smiling and waving at her. She drooled but smiled and waved back. "I think that's the nicest I've been drooled at recently."
"She's definitely the nicest and best good girl drooling on you," Xander teased. He got breakfast out. She squealed. "I know you like cottage cheese," he said, smiling at her. "Can you put her in her booster seat?" He let John take her to do that while he made her breakfast. "Tara didn't come up?"
"She opened the door, put the baby down, put the diaper bag down, then went back down."
"Ah, she must be late for work." He checked the clock and nodded. "Yup, she's very late for work." He texted her that he would've picked her up if she had let him know. He sat down and ate with her. She babbled into her cottage cheese but she loved it and the fruit. Then she got toast to roam around eating while chasing the cats. John snickered. Xander grinned. "It's an art form distracting her sometimes."
"I guess it could be." He grinned at Ronon when he came down. "Yours is on the stove." Ronon grunted. Xander got him some coffee too, earning a smile. Xander smirked back. "You two are good with me if you wanted to become more than fun," John assured them.
"Different galaxies would make that a sucky relationship but I'm all for fun if he's down here," Xander said. Ronon nodded since his mouth was full. "He's very good and he sleeps curled around you," Xander quipped. "It was kinda nice." Olivia came back and stared at Ronon's hair. She tried to climb into a chair so John picked her up. She touched them and patted them, then tried to scrunch her fingers in it. She gave him a confused look. "His hair's in braids," Xander said, taking her to cuddle. "When you're older, you can braid your hair." She smiled at him. He grinned back. "You're a good girl." Ronon stared at her. "She loves hair."
"It's an interesting texture," Ronon agreed. "She doesn't know anyone with hair like mine?"
"I don't know anyone with dreads," Xander said, considering it. "One of the guys at the publishing office but he's the skinny wanna be gang boy type." John snorted, shaking his head into his coffee. "He is. She gives him confused looks because she's already smart enough to know that your diapers and panties go inside the pants. So wannabe gangster it's pathetic in his case. He weighs eighty pounds soaking wet."
John nodded. "Some guys are like that."
"I never tried to be hip." He shrugged. She wiggled so he put her down. "Finish your toasties." She nibbled on it as she followed Homer to the windows. She patted at the doors. "I think they're locked. We can go outside later, 'Liv." She pouted and patted the window. "Later. When we do the stretchy stuff." She was still pouting. Xander found the remote and turned on Nick Jr. It was loud, brightly colored, and even drew the cats' attention. So she went to stare at it while she ate her toast. "She's a bit stubborn."
"Just a bit," John agreed with a grin. "Are you okay with that?"
"I'm not sure. Especially if it takes nearly forever to get them back."
"That would be hard but you'd slowly work her way back to her parents."
"Willow would demand to have her back immediately. No slow reintegration."
"You'll work it out so it's best for her. You know she'll have to listen to some reason." Xander nodded at that. "You'll handle it." Ronon finished. "We should get back for meetings."
"'Liv, come tell them bye bye. They have meetings." She ran over to hug them and grin up at them.
"You're so sweet. I need girls like you," John said with a grin back. He tweaked her chin and winked.
She went to cuddle Ronon and play with his hair, earning a smile. "Mama?" she asked.
Ronon snorted, shaking his head. "No, not the mother." He kissed her on the head and handed her to Xander, who waved her hand for her. She squealed and waved with a huge grin. "You're adorable." They got beamed back.
Xander looked at her. "Let me check my email and then we'll go stretch on the porch." He put her down to watch tv again while he went to check his email. He got good news about his sales. Which he was hoping for. Olivia was really expensive. He turned off his computer and walked outside with her. She wandered around, looking at the plants.
"Let's stretch, 'Liv." She walked back and did what he was doing. It was good for her to stretch and be flexible at her age. She was happy doing it. After they were done with some mild yoga he got her back inside to chase the cats for awhile while he got some work done.
He was using the talk-and-text program so he had to keep backing over talking to Olivia. But that happened sometimes. Then it was lunch and she went down for a nap. He went up to get some swimming time in. This was their routine and when she got up, she ran up to join him. He swam with her, showing her how to swim. Then they would go in to shower and put on clothes again.
She'd curl up in his office with some toys while he went over the morning's stuff to take out the rest of the stuff he had said to Olivia and add to it. When she was hungry she brought him out of it and they had dinner. Then some tv and bed, so he could write for a few more hours. Dean showed up during the swimming time. He stripped down to his boxer briefs and dove in.
She squealed. "No!" she shouted.
"It's fine," Xander told her. "He's allowed to do that because he knows how to swim." She pouted. "When you're older you can jump into the pool too. Until then you're too little and you'd get hurt. Dean's too big to get hurt that way." He handed her over. Dean helped her swim. She was doing pretty good with her doggy paddling. Xander grinned. "You guys didn't have to clear out last night."
"We went to play some kitten poker for information." He smirked. "Was it good?"
"Ronon's very good." Dean nodded. "John likes girls too." He shrugged and took her back. "Okay, swim to Dean," he said, mostly letting her go. She swam and beamed at Dean, who beamed back.
"That's great work, 'Liv. Very good job!"
"Coco?" she asked, smiling at him.
"Sure, for that you can get hyper on chocolate." He grinned. She swam back to Xander and back to Dean. They were only two feet apart so they could both grab her but it was fine.
Beckett came up the stairs, watching them. "Is she doing that on her own?"
"She's very good at it," Xander promised with a grin. "What's up?"
"Some waitress said you're evil for getting her fired?"
"Was it the rude one at the sports bar who decided I'm hanging out with people to get more attention?"
"Yeah, a sports bar."
"She made statements to the press. They asked Castle for a statement."
Xander snorted. "The press people all know I mostly avoid them." He caught Olivia trying to swim around him. "Ah! Not yet you don't." He nuzzled her and she swam back to Dean.
Beckett smiled. "She's getting really good." Xander and Dean both grinned at her. "He thought you should know and we have to question over this way."
"That's cool. I'll say something on the website later to shoot her down." She nodded and left them alone. "Thanks, Beckett."
"Welcome, kid." She smiled on her way down to the car and getting in to drive. "She's swimming between him and Dean."
"That's really advanced." Rick grinned and they drove off. "Alexis didn't swim until she was a year and a half. Olivia's about a month short of that."
"They're only two feet apart but she's having fun."
"That's the best part of babies, they have fun doing everything but sitting still." He grinned.
"You ever think about having a second?"
"Yes but then I remember all the times diapers drove me nuts."
She laughed. "I can imagine." She changed streets and found the address they needed.
Dean looked at Xander. "Zoo?"
"She'd like animals." He looked at her. She was floating. "Want to see animals?" She tried to stand up and run off so they had to save her. "C'mon, we'll shower off and then go see animals." They got out and went to their separate showers. He got her cleaned off and diapered then let her roam in the bedroom while he took his own.
Olivia got free of the door and went to find the uncle, who was in the shower too. She snuck into his bathroom and squealed, making him jump and slip. She cried, running back to the uncle, pointing and crying. Xander got out and put on boxers, heading to check on Dean. "I jumped when she snuck in," Dean moaned, letting Xander help him up. "Ow." He held his back.
"Shh. Let's get you an ambulance, Dean."
"Shut up, Dean. She's sobbing that she hurt you." He handed him a towel to put on. "Bed, Olivia." She ran that way, still sniffing. He checked Dean's back. "I can't find anything slipped so it's better if you're in a 'bus." He called. "Hi, I live at...." He walked back into the bathroom giving them the address and what had happened. Dean got to slowly pull on boxers because he could barely move. There was no way they were getting him downstairs without help. Xander jogged down to answer the door and let them up the elevator. "He's upstairs, second bedroom on the left, guys." They went to check on him. He followed. "Olivia, I'm sure the patting is helping him but let the nice paramedics help," he said gently, taking her to cuddle. "You did so good getting me for him, sweetness. Good job." Dean stared at him. "She was crying, Dean. She knows she scared and hurt you."
"I know. This sucks," he moaned, holding his back.
"It does," the paramedic agreed, smiling at them. "You two should get dressed so you can follow." Xander nodded, taking them to get her dressed and then himself. Xander grabbed what he'd need and they took Dean to the hospital.
Xander called John on the way. "Dean slipped in the shower because Olivia surprised him by squealing at him," he said in greeting from the waiting area. "Back. ER. Waiting. Yup, there. Thanks, John." He looked at Olivia. "Uncle John will be here in a few minutes. You can help him baby Uncle Dean all you want, princess." She was still pouty so he cuddled her. "Uncle Dean doesn't have that big a booboo and he's not mad. I promise he's not mad."
She calmed down and cuddled. Someone across the seats was staring at them. "She snuck into his bathroom and squealed so he jumped in the shower." She winced. "Tree?" he asked, pointing at the kid beside her, getting a nod. "I jumped off the roof once." She smiled at him. He looked at Olivia. "We'll build you a treehouse at the cabin since there's almost no trees in Manhattan." She smiled at whoever was walking their way. "About Dean?"
"Yes, sir. Are you his medical contact?"
"Really good friend but his dad's across the city." He called him and let her have the phone. She smiled and walked off with it. He looked at her. "We'll figure it out." She grinned at the kid, waving at him. He smiled and waved back. "You're very good to make him feel better too." He kissed her on the head. "Did I forget to wash your hair after our swim?" He shrugged. "We'll have a bath later anyway." The mother laughed. "She likes the pool." The nurse brought him back his phone. "Is he ready to go home?"
"Not for a while yet, sir. We're having someone come down to look at him." Xander nodded and got comfortable. John and Sam walked in an hour later and were let back. Sam came to get Xander and walked him back there. The nurse gave him a dirty look. "He's not immediate family," she said.
"We're staying with him," Sam said with a grin.
"Do I need to set up the sauna as a bedroom? Or I do have the storage area and I can put something in there," he offered.
"He's going to be on bed rest for a week," the nurse in there told him. "How far is the hike to his bathroom?"
"Ten feet from the bed. There's a dresser beside the doorway to lean on. We can get him a shower chair too." She smiled and nodded. "He's got a separate tub and shower too. So no big step up."
"That'll help him a lot." She smiled at the close family. "For right now, give him two weeks and then have him see his regular doctor for a physical therapy referral." They nodded.
"Did he rip it that badly?" Xander asked.
"A lot of muscle strain and it briefly popped the wrong way. That's an in case he's still in pain."
"Okay, we can do that. I can see if mine will even though he's not a patient." She nodded and gave them the orders. "Flat on his back or propped up?"
"Whichever is more comfortable with the brace we're getting him."
Xander nodded. "Pool time later?"
"That could help. It's very low stress." Xander nodded. "Any other questions?"
"Massage thingy I use for my arms? Would that help or hurt? Or regular ones?" Xander asked.
"That may help but give it two weeks before you get one from a person. One of the vibrating type with heat could help but give it a week first." Xander nodded. She smiled at the baby. "He told me you squealed and scared him."
"She was being sneaky," Xander said dryly. "Then she came running and crying to get me to help him."
The nurse smiled. "Mine snuck into my bathroom a few times too. She's adorable."
"Most of the time." He grinned. "Thank you." She grinned and left. He let the baby hug Dean. "He can cuddle you later, 'Liv. Let's get him home first. I drove."
"He should stretch out. You take Sammy and he can have the back of my truck," John said. Xander nodded and they left. He got Dean signed out and out to the truck. The nurse scowled. "This way he can stretch out and there's straps back there." He had an emergency harness for moving badly injured people in the back. He hitched Dean down, getting a nod from her. He drove him back to Xander's. "At least there's the elevator to avoid the stairs," he said once they were in it. The pool area had an emergency exit into Xander's bedroom so he could walk him in that way. It was easier and Dean got stripped down to his undershirt and boxer briefs then tucked in. Olivia ran in and climbed up with him, cuddling him.
"I'm all right, 'Liv. You're a good girl," Dean said, yawning some. "You're a very good girl." She cuddled and stared at him. He let her, patting her on the back. He fell asleep because he had nice drugs. She settled in to sit with him.
John smiled, taking the tray from Xander to put beside Dean on the table. "It'll be fine. Olivia, want Sam to read to you?"
"No!" she said firmly, scowling at him.
"That's her mommy's resolve face," Xander joked. He took a picture of it and sent it to Tara's phone, making her laugh. "Let's let him nap, 'Liv. Want nummies?" She cuddled in. "All right, call before you try to come downstairs." She yawned and fell asleep with Dean. "Aww." He took another picture and they left them alone. "She'll get up in a while and come play." Sam nodded, going to change his sheets and John got his room's. Then they went downstairs. Sam turned the tv off Nick Jr. to something more adult oriented. With guns and car chases. Xander went to write.
John got to look in the kitchen and then go grocery shopping. He ran into a reporter pushing the button. "The blue one's the intercom," he said as he closed the door.
"What happened? We heard an ambulance responded here, Mr. Winchester?"
"Do you usually show up where ambulances were?"
"Dean slipped in the shower and messed up his back."
"Aww. Is he all right?"
"On bed rest, maybe some therapy for it." He shrugged. "He'll be fine. Olivia's fussing over him." He put his hands in his pockets. "Xander's writing and waiting on her to get up since she's napping on Dean." He showed her the version of that picture. She smiled. "Anything else?"
"Is Alexian dating John Sheppard?"
"No, they're friends from that signing trip where he guarded the boy."
"Why would he be asked to guard him?"
"It was a favor situation. Xander knew O'Neill and O'Neill asked him."
"Oh, that's interesting." She smiled. "I hope your son feels better."
"Me too. He's whiny when he's hurt too badly. I nearly gave him to someone when he had chicken pox." He walked over to his truck and got in to go to the store.
She smiled. "My sister said the same thing about hers." They wrapped up and went to file the report. It wasn't a bad one and that was an adorable picture. Olivia was a darling little girl.
Xander called DC later that night. "Can you tell John I'm really sorry some reporters mistook me taking friends to dinner as a trio on a date?" he said dryly. "Yes. Totally blown out of proportion. Thanks, Jack. She's good. She's fussing over Dean in finest girl fashion. No, he slipped in the shower. Thanks, man." He hung up and went to get her. "Dinner time, 'Liv."
"You need to eat to fuss over me," Dean told her. She scowled at him. "You can go eat, I promise. I'll be eating up here."
Xander picked her up, kissing her on the head. "You can fuss over Uncle Dean later. Let's eat and get him his own dinner." She pouted. "I promise, you can come back to fuss over him later." He winked at Dean. "You're getting soft stuff so you don't feel the need to squeeze." He left with her.
"Gee thanks," he complained. His father brought in his dinner. "At least it's not too bad."
"Son, the last time I had a sore back there was no way I wanted to hobble into the bathroom for long periods of time," he said dryly. Dean winced and shuddered. "Exactly. Soft foods, Dean." He left. "The reporter said to get better faster."
"Thanks." He dug into his pot pie. It was good. He heard the squeal and smirked. "She likes Sammy carrots, Dad," he called.
"I heard. She's having what you are."
Dean grinned and dug in again. It was pretty decent pot pie with chicken. Clearly his dad had raided the frozen dough but that was fine too. Better than some diner's food.
Xander smiled at Olivia, feeding her a bite he had blown on. She blew on it then ate it with a grin. "Good job." He got her fed then gave her some bread to gum on while he ate. She liked that and it was good for her. "How long before he wants to get up?" he asked John.
"I always was within days but it shouldn't be more than a week, Xander. I can take him to Ellen's."
"I don't mind the company, John. I was wondering how long I'd have to keep saving him from her and if he'd want to he can do our yoga with us when he's up."
"If he wants. I'll leave that up to his good sense." Xander nodded. "You sure you don't mind?"
"No," Xander said with a grin. "Not in the least. Will he mind her fussing?"
"In a few days," Sam said with a grin. "But she's good at it." She smiled at him. "You're a good girl." She beamed and ate another bite. "We'll read after dinner." She wiggled down out of her booster seat and got a book, bringing it back. "Sure, we can read about trees." He was mostly done so he pulled her into his lap and read to her about trees. She smiled at him. He kissed her on the nose. "Such a good girl." She patted the book so he read it a second time. Then she went to wander among the plants. Xander kept an eye on her. She found the missing cat and it ran inside being chased by her. "She really does work off a lot of calories." Xander nodded, making John smirk. "Why does she smell like the pool?"
"She and I swim every day after her afternoon nap. Today she was doggy paddling between me and Dean. That's before our showers." He caught her and cuddled her. "Hi, 'Liv. Unclie caught you." She squealed and pushed at him. "Be good and we'll sit down in a few minutes?" She pouted so he let her go. She went back to pick something pretty and carried it up the stairs at a crawl.
"Dean, incoming," John called. "She's really good at getting up them."
"I taught her to come down them on her butt," Xander said. "She spent days going up and down the stairs when it rained." They smiled. "What did she pick?"
"A pepper." Sam grinned.
Xander shook his head, going to check on her. She had given Dean the pepper, making him put it beside him on the table. "She gave you the pretty thing?"
"Yup." He grinned and cuddled her, letting Xander have the tray back. "Thanks."
"Not a problem, Dean. When you're ready we do yoga stuff every morning." He walked the tray back downstairs. "She's curled up on his shoulder. He put it beside his lamp."
"Awww," Sam said with a grin. He finished his text, sending it. "To Tara."
John smiled. "She's a sweet girl." He got comfortable. "What if this lasts for more than a few months, Xander?"
"Then I've inherited a daughter and when they get back, we'll have to fight the evil parents from just snatching her home and make them slowly work her back into their lives."
John nodded with a smile. "That's a good idea. The first instinct is to take them back but sometimes you have to do it more slowly to get them used to it." He nodded. "You sure you can handle it that long?"
"I always knew there was a chance that I'd outlive them. Especially since I'm semi-retired." He leaned his elbows on the table. "I have no idea if I should set up relations with his family or not. They're still in Ireland."
"You can send them a letter," Sam offered. "It's been on the news."
Xander nodded. "I did send them one saying I had Olivia and she was safe and what we knew about what was going on. I haven't heard anything back and that's a worry I have. They could try to take custody as grandparents. That would be above the parents' wills. I think Daniel's left her to me or Tara. I know Willow's did, I had to sign papers."
John nodded. "Then we'll figure it out." Xander relaxed and nodded. "Go rest, kid." Xander went to the office. John looked at his son, who did the dishes. "Thanks, Sammy."
"Make sure we have enough muscle rub and advil, Dad." He went to the storage closet/medical kit to do that. He had to get some stuff but otherwise it was fine. Sam ran the dishwasher, going up to check on Dean. "She out?" he asked from the doorway.
"Nope." He grinned. "She's just cuddly, Sammy." He got him a book. "Thanks." He settled in to read her the first in the hunters series. It was a good book. Xander did a good job making it look nicer than it was. Dean lightened up some of it and didn't read the swearing or fight scenes to her. She was paying attention and it was nice. Comfortable and all that.
Dean's first morning out of bed was boring. Olivia was happy and following him everywhere. Though she was pouting about the outside. "C'mon, let's sit on a bench." She ran that way. Dean grinned. She walked more around him. He followed and she stood up and stretched. "That's very good. Do you and Uncle Xander do that?" She beamed at him and nodded. "Show me how to do it?" He moved to his feet and did what she was doing.
He grinned. It was nice that she was so wiggly but it helped his back a lot. Xander came back from the interview and came out to join them, toeing off his shoes. Xander stretched up and then out then down. She beamed and followed. Dean did what he could and Xander helped him when he nearly got stuck bending over. They finished up and went to have a snack. Olivia was beaming at him and patting his back. "I'll be okay. It's good to be out of bed, huh?" She ran off after a cat.
Xander quit gulping milk. "Quit chasing Homer, Olivia. He's sore because he got stuck in the bathroom last night." She came back and made begging noises so he let her have some of his milk, getting a grin. "We have to go to the bank and then to see Paula later. That means you have to look like a little girl again." She squealed and headed for the stairs. Xander grinned at Dean. "Rest, Dean, and the massage wand is in my office, left side bottom drawer."
He followed her to help her pick out something. She was fussing and pointing. "Not that dress. It has a stain on it." He showed her. "Auntie Tara was really upset at that so let's wear an Auntie Tara dress?" She beamed and he picked out a little red dress. She hugged it. "Let's get you cleaned up. Time for a bath." She took her dress that way. "Put the dress somewhere," he said, taking it to hang on the towel bar. He got the other stuff and came back to bathe her. "Your hair's getting long." She smiled at him as she splashed.
"If it was just a bit longer I could french braid it. Your Auntie Buffy taught me how to do that so I could do her hair." He shampooed her hair. "Maybe we'll let it curl today. You look pretty with the curls." He got her out and dressed, then got her shoes on her. "Let's grab my shoes." She let him pick her up and take her downstairs. He found his shoes on the porch and came out. "We'll be back in an hour or so, Dean. Need anything?"
"I'm great, thanks, Xander."
"Welcome." He poked her on the side. "Wave bye-bye?" She smiled and did that. "Good girl, 'Liv." He carried her down, putting her in her car seat. She smoothed her dress down and he grinned, closing the door so he could walk around and drive them to the office. He carried her inside. "Princess Liv is here," he announced.
Paula smiled. "She looks very pretty today, Xander." Olivia beamed at her. "I have two checks."
"Whoo-hoo! That means pizza tonight," he told her, earning a squeal and a hug around the neck. He signed and took them, putting them into his wallet while the baby sat in a chair. He picked her back up. "Any other orders?"
"Donny is very amused by how many times he saw the phrase 'Olivia, leave the cats alone' but otherwise no." She smiled. "You're doing okay with her." Xander winked and walked her out, taking her to the car again. "Buy Beckett's minions lunch," she called after them. "They arrested your former girlfriend again."
"We can do that." He smirked at her. She smirked back. "What should we feed the minions? Should we feed them burgers? Or fishie? Or pizza?" He called on the way over. "Hi, Captain, it's Xander. Paula told me they arrested one of my dates again and that they deserved lunch." He grinned in the mirror. "Hands free set I promise." He paid more attention when the light changed and moved on. "We can do that." He moaned and held his head. "No we can't. Hour." He hung up and pulled over, double parking for now while he held his head. Someone honked but he ignored it. He finally sat up and checked on the staring baby. "If you can avoid it, never get visions, Olivia. They hurt like hell." She pouted. "C'mon, let's get us coffee and then lunch, no matter what the captain wants because I just saw Beckett's house exploding." He took her to do that, bringing in coffee.
"It's the mini-Castle," Esposito teased.
Xander snorted. "I wish. Only if he has visions." He put her in the empty chair. "Don't move." She pouted. "You can show them how pretty you look in a minute. Stay."
Beckett looked at him. "Your eyes are bloodshot, Xander."
"I had a vision on the way over of your house exploding." She gaped. "Something about serial killers.... big fans...." Rick walked past and handed him the file. "Yeah, him, only not him." He pointed. "He's the one that made your apartment explode." He handed it over. "If it wasn't him it was related to him by what I saw."
"Was she all right?" Esposito asked.
"Yeah. She got shielded by the tub." She shuddered. He rubbed his forehead. "I was going to bring you guys lunch for arresting my date again. Which one was it?"
"Oh, him." He picked up the baby, checking the seat then her. "You're not wet."
"No, it's the shine on it," Rick said, showing him. "She's cute."
"Auntie Tara picked out the dress." He let her walk over to show the others. Who all agreed she was pretty today. She beamed and came back to cuddle Beckett.
"You're very pretty, Olivia." The baby patted her. "What?" She patted that same spot. "Xander?"
He looked then at her. "Infected cut. She's just manifesting a bit of healer's skills. Tara does the same to me." He picked her up. "Say hi to the captain?" She smiled and waved. "Good girl, 'Liv. Let's go to the bank then the library? Then home?" She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. "That's my good niece." He grinned. "So anyway...."
Beckett smiled. "Thank you for telling me, Xander. Are you sure you're fit to drive?"
"Mild headache. I'll be fine. Not like Dean can drive. He barely made it out of bed and she was brilliant when she was showing him our morning yoga routine." He grinned at her. She beamed back and kissed him again. "That was very good helping Uncle Dean do the stretchies." He patted her. "So anyway...." Beckett waved. "Have a better day, people." He walked her out, taking her to the bank. He had no idea why he had gotten that vision. It wasn't a major apocalypse battle unless they couldn't fix it. Because he had the feeling that Castle could turn into him when provoked - Alexis or Rick. The bank was thankfully a drive-thru. Then he went to the library. He handed her and the diaper bag to Tara then went to the bathroom.
She smiled at the baby. "You look very pretty in the dress I picked out, Olivia." She checked her and took her to change. The male bathrooms didn't have a changing table so that was wise of Xander. Of course she saw the post-vision signs when he came out. "Bad? Soon?"
"Something smaller. Not sure why." He shrugged and sat down, letting Olivia help Tara dust shelves while he recovered. He texted Dean so he wouldn't worry. Dean told him he had gotten a box from Fed Ex and they talked about it. He called. "Read me the address?" He wrote it down. "That sounds familiar. Thanks, Dean. No, don't open it. Thanks." He hung up and looked that up from his phone. "I'm glad he talked me into the Blackberry." Tara came over to look over his shoulder. "Any idea?"
"That's the prison address in Cali."
"Shit," he muttered, calling Dean and Beckett on a joint call. "Beckett, me. Dean, that's from the prison in California's address. Yeah, a box from Fed Ex, Beckett. I'm not sure and I'm in the library with Tara and 'Liv. Dean? Can you check it for being odd?" He listened, then sighed. Beckett said she'd bring someone to scan it. "Thank you." He hung up and tipped his head back. "She'll have someone check it."
"She couldn't send a new bomb from there."
"Who knows and how did she send something FedEx?"
"Good point." She glared at someone glaring at them. "Someone sent him a bomb from that sender." She shuddered and went back to her reading. Tara took Olivia to pick out her week's worth of books. The others were in her diaper bag. The head librarian was scowling. "What? It's from his mother, who sent him a bomb."
"That's a good reason to break the no cellphones rule," she decided.
"He had texted until then. No noise." She got Olivia's books checked back in, making her smile and pat the scanner. "That's right, that's the scanner that reads the bar code to tell them that your books are back. So now we can get new books." She took her to pick out stuff that looked nice and one she adored. She checked them out and put them into the diaper bag. "There, so we can read to you tonight." Olivia beamed. She looked over. Xander was asleep.
Tara considered it. She hadn't driven today. She went to wake Xander up. "Take a cab home. I'll take her home tonight in your car." Xander smiled and nodded, heading out. "Visions are a pain," she told Olivia once he was gone. "Not only in your head but in many ways." They went back to their duties dusting. Olivia loved the books. She petted them and Tara got to tell her about the sections they were dusting.
The head librarian came over. "Tara? Did you need to leave early?"
She smiled. "No, Olivia's spent some time here with me before and she loves books." The girl beamed and waved at the older woman. "This is my boss, Miss Pritchard, Olivia." The girl hugged her legs and patted a book with a coo, looking at her. "That's right, we protect and take care of the special books because books are great things." Olivia beamed and they walked off. "Xander had a headache from the vision he had earlier."
"Is she yours with him?"
"She's Willow's." Her boss moaned. "Xander and I share custody of her." She smiled. "He hogs her a lot." Her boss nodded. "I promise, Olivia won't be a problem. She knows how to be quiet in the library and how to help me."
"I suppose it's fine. Let me know if it is a problem."
"Of course," Tara said with a smile. "It's never a problem. C'mon, Olivia, let's dust the antiques section." The baby beamed and ran where she pointed, letting Tara follow to dust over there.
Her boss shook her head. "She is the nicest, sweetest, most unusual girl I've ever seen," she decided, going back to the desk. Tara came back after lunch to man the check-out station. She watched the baby look and then find a pen, smiling and handing it to Tara.
"That's right, your Uncle Xander uses those when people line up to have him sign books. That's very smart, Olivia." She smiled and pushed her hair back behind her ears. Olivia got sat in the chair. "Here, watch how the scanner does this instead of a pen." She scanned the books and the girl looked amazed, looking at the woman.
"Is that Alexian Harris' niece?"
"This is Olivia," she agreed with a smile. "She knew her uncle needed the pen to sign books when people lined up at a desk." The older woman beamed at her. "She's very bright." She finished checking her out. "We have one on hold. Olivia, don't move." She got the other book and came back, checking it out too. "There you go." She smiled and let her go. Olivia smiled and waved. The patrons were all smiling at her and the baby. It was good she was getting a feel for this side of learning too.
Tara was cleaning up when an officer came in. "We close in ten minutes, Officer."
"Ma'am, I got a report that you have a baby in here that's not yours?"
She huffed and rolled her eyes, telling her about Willow while calling Xander. He was groggy when he answered. "Can you please talk to the officer?"
"Officer, we share custody of Olivia until her parents are back on this plane," Xander said bluntly. He sounded very tired. "I had a vision earlier while driving and Tara's taking custody for me tonight while my head quits hurting. Who said what?"
"Someone said you have custody, sir."
"No, by her mother's will, we share custody. I've notified his parents but haven't heard anything back. So yes, Olivia can stay with Tara all she wants. She's a great girl influence on her. Are we thinking someone higher is trying to get involved?"
"No, sir, no report to Social Services or anything, just a report was made that she had your niece in her custody."
Xander snorted, then sneezed. "Sorry, but no. Tara's like my sister. We share Olivia. I hog her a lot but we do share Olivia. Tell whoever was worried thank you but there's no need for concern as long as she's with Tara."
"I can do that, sir. Are you all right?"
"Visions are like a movie preview that's only shown in your head surrounded by bright lights and a huge ass headache," Xander said dryly. "I had one while driving earlier."
"That's good that you didn't keep her, sir. You could've had an accident."
"That's why I headed to the library after I told the detectives I work with now and then."
"Like Castle does, sir? You're a fantasy author."
"No, like I've dated a few serial killers," Xander said. He yawned. "Sorry, migraine meds knock me out."
"That's reasonable, sir. Thank you for letting me know in a calm way."
"I like you guys for the most part," Xander said dryly. "I've only met five officers I didn't like and they were trying to hurt me for knowing about demons." The officer smirked. "Have a good evening, Officer."
"You as well, sir." She looked at her. "You might want to keep a formal copy of the papers with you?" she said quietly.
"I have them at home. I'll bring a copy in." The officer smiled and nodded, waving at the baby, who waved back and pouted. "C'mon, let's go see Beth. She was making dinner." Olivia beamed and raised her hands. Tara picked her up and changed her diaper then left for home. Beth stared at the baby. "Oh, no, a special dinner? Did I forget an anniversary?" she asked.
"I can hand her back to Xander. He had a vision so I've had her since lunch." She drove over and took her up, handing her to Dean. "It's an anniversary dinner." He grinned and nodded. "Thanks. His car's downstairs."
"I'll call a cab while you go down." He did that and she left. He heard the honk a few minutes later and Tara went home. He looked at the baby. "You look adorable." He put her down and she headed for Xander. "Let Uncle Xander sleep, 'Liv. He's got head booboos." She pouted. "Let him sleep. Come help me make dinner?" She came over to steal food. He took a picture for Sam. Sam sent back a coo. "Uncle Sammy thinks you're cute too." She lifted up her skirt. "No, don't do that." He put it back down and smoothed it out. "Good girls don't flash panties until they've found a good boy like Uncle Sammy." He helped her sit on the counter so she could watch him. "This is how you chop veggies."
Dean was feeling very...housewifey and he hated it. So once he was feeling better he had to hit the road. No matter how much the baby begged.
Xander walked into his interview a month later, Olivia dressed prettily since it was an on-air interview. "Hi." He smiled.
"No sitter?" the reporter asked.
"No. Tara's at some Library of Congress conference with Beth."
"No Dean?" she asked. "I know you were seeing him."
"Not quite." He grinned. "He fell in the shower. I was letting him heal. He left yesterday for Oregon."
"Oh. So you broke up?"
"I never slept with Dean," he said dryly. "He had his own room. She slept with Dean more than I sat next to him. She fussed over him so much after his accident."
"Oh." She nodded and got him mic'd and the baby got to sit on his knee. "She's so adorable," she said once the camera was rolling.
"Thank you. Auntie Tara picked out the dress. I'm trying to french braid her hair but it's just a bit too short so far." He grinned. "But she likes it curly."
"That's wonderful. So, first, some gossip. You're not seeing Dean Winchester?"
"I've never dated Dean Winchester. I was letting him heal in my place after he slipped in the shower and hurt his back."
"Just the floor needed more traction?"
"Actually, Olivia snuck in and squealed, which made him jump, and then fall." He grinned at her then at the baby then back at her. "He's never blamed her but she fussed *so* hard over him. She crawled up next to him to pat him and coo at him. She taught him how to stretch like we do every morning. She picked things from the garden outside the living room to take up to him."
"Awww. That's sweet of her." She smiled. "New book?"
"Chocolate Lord book?" he asked with a grin. The baby poked him. He looked at her. "The book with the guy who drinks from the well, yes. Uncle Dean read that to you." He smiled at her. "He read most of the hunter series to her too." The reporter laughed and he grinned. "But yes, it's out and I liked it a lot. I can see that happening."
"I read the first six chapters last night when I meant to read the first two, Alexian." He blushed and grinned. "Another success?"
"I hope so. I had a lot of fun writing it."
"Are there sequels? I've noticed that you don't tend to write once-offs."
"Um, there's a chance but my publisher doesn't think it's up to the same standard at the moment. So we'll see." He shifted the baby to the other knee and freed the microphone from her fingers. "It's a reporter, Olivia. Let me do this?" he asked with a grin.
She smiled at the reporter and waved with a squeal. "Hi!"
"You're very bright," she said with a smile and a wave back.
"I'm having a lot of fun teaching her things," Xander said with a grin. "But... I can let you in on a secret." The reporter stared. "Sam is dating someone."
"Sam Winchester?" she asked hopefully. He nodded. "He's letting you tell us?"
"Yes. He's hiding her really hard and he's making sure that you guys don't stalk her but yes he said I should tell you that."
"Aww. Is she a nice girl or does he draw bad girls like you do?"
"She's pretty sweet from what he's said." He took the microphone back and put it on her bow. It was closer to his mouth anyway. The reporter smirked. "She's an interior designer he met by banishing her brother-in-law from what Sam told me."
"That's wonderful. So a good woman. Does his father know?"
"You know, I'm not sure but I'm told John catches you guys now and then to make sure nothing too horrible is happening with me or Tara." He smirked. She cackled. "He called last night to talk to me to make sure I wasn't moping that Dean had left us alone. I'm getting used to having someone there all the time."
"That's easy to do, Alexian." He grinned. "You had an emergency at your house about a month ago?"
"My mother sent a bunch of crap and some of my baby pictures. I'm not sure about why she sent articles on people I have no idea about but I got a bunch of stuff. With her history, I couldn't be sure it wasn't something bad. So when Dean got it from Fed Ex, I called a detective I know to warn her. I was at the library with her and Tara having a migraine from an earlier vision."
"Something personal. Usually I only get apocalypse battles but this time I got something personal to that detective." He shrugged. "I have no idea why. Tara had her at the library all afternoon; she charmed the patrons and patted the books."
"She likes books?"
"She loves books. Uncle Sam reads to her. Uncle Dean reads to her. I read to her. Tara reads to her. Even John read to her. We all want her to be as bright as humanly possible." He grinned down at Olivia. "I'm hoping I can pay for a great college education at somewhere world renowned. I want to watch her get her PhD in some socially helpful field."
"I hope she does too," the reporter said. "You're adorably baby centered."
"I can't have any of my own so I'm going to be an uncle unless I adopt. I'll be the best uncle to her that I can until her mom and dad come back. Then we'll work on breaking her from me to them again."
"That makes good sense. She's going to be how old?"
"She's twenty-one months. I'm already planning a nice happy day in the park for her birthday and a huge cake." He grinned. "We'll go to the zoo and maybe the aquarium, and then have cake."
"That's wonderful." She smiled at the baby, getting a beam and a wave back. She waved back with a grin. "She's truly adorable. She doesn't talk much?"
"She babbled at John for four hours the other day because she called him by accident."
She cackled. "I've done that in my pocket a few times. That's an adorable dress, Olivia."
"Her Auntie Tara insists that I make sure she has her girly girl moments, even though we do yoga-ish things every morning and swim every afternoon. Between she tends to chase the cats around the house." She laughed. He shrugged. "They like to hide from her too. It's good exercise."
"I'm sure it is. Chasing my dog for a bath is." He grinned. "What's next for you?"
"Three new books in the next eight months?" he guessed. "All already with my publisher. Another bit of one I couldn't publish due to the...graphic nature on the website next month."
"No. I'm told not even Anne Rice can do that and get it published." She blushed. He nodded. "I couldn't find a way to tame it down. So it's going on the website behind that nice age statement."
"Your site is very well done."
"Thank you. I had one very good person design it and I pay someone to help me maintain it and fix it when I screw something up. I do it a lot some weeks."
"I can understand that. Not everyone is a computer genius."
"I know how to check my email and type." She smiled. "My word processing program is probably very tired. It's gotten to the point when I turn off my computer at night, there's a faint image of my word processor's screen left."
She laughed. "Well, you are productive." He nodded. "Have you seen Rick Castle's newest book?"
"I have and I gave him permission to use me as an example." He grinned. "He muttered for months about me dating." She beamed at him. "He did a good job. I've seen the second and third book and it's just as twisty, turny, and riveting. I still can't figure out who killed him." She smirked. "I think he said there's a few more books."
"That's good to know." She grinned. "She's bored?"
He looked down and shook his head. "No, she's just quiet. She likes to be the center of attention." He smirked. "Don't wake her up if she sleeps," he said in a stage-whisper. "She'll make me chase her all afternoon." The reporter giggled. He grinned. "Have you seen Adelle Perkin's new one? I gave her some ideas when she got stuck."
"I haven't. I'll have to check that out." She winked. "You have a good day with her."
"I try really hard to live a fairly interesting life." He handed back the microphone and the video cut. "Thank you."
"Welcome. I hope she naps for you."
"She will. She likes to nap in the office while I type." She laughed. "Really. We've got a whole schedule worked out and it's good for her." He smirked and got up, carrying her off. "C'mon, we'll get some ice cream and go tease Paula with it. She needs to have some ice cream. She's getting too skinny again." Olivia nodded.
The reporter smiled, looking at her cameraman, who nodded he had it. "He's a good parent to her."
"He tries very hard but he's not spoiling her. So it's good." He let her take the film to edit. It was a decent interview. Even if he was a bit distracted.
Xander looked up from his stretching with Olivia, staring at the ghostly figure. "Hi."
"She's safe," she sighed.
"Tara and I are sharing custody of her, Willow. She's safe, protected, and healthy." He tapped Olivia and she looked up so he pointed. She gaped and squealed, getting up to bounce. "How long? And where the hell are you guys?"
"Paralax from what we heard."
"Not from what we've seen on this side."
"The portal area was next to a volcano so we had to flee. We walked for about five days." Xander nodded. "We went toward the sun, I don't know if that's east here. We're all okay. Even if Buffy's feet do still hurt because she wasn't wearing practical shoes."
"I'll let them know. Anything we should know?" She shrugged, trying to hug her daughter. Olivia was sniffling. "Hey, 'Liv, I've got you and we'll get mommy and daddy back really soon." He picked her up to cuddle her. "We've got her, Willow." She nodded and faded. He calmed her down, walking as he called the witches in charge of the search. "Willow showed up." He listened to them say something. He told them what she had said and that for some reason she was glowing. Way too much magic or she was pregnant again.
He hung up and got Olivia calmed down, cuddling her with some ice cream. She finally got down to sniffling and sulking. "We'll get her back as soon as we can," he whispered. "I want her back just as much as you do, niece. You never have to worry about it though. We have you and you're okay." She fell asleep on him and he finished the ice cream. He wanted her home soon too. Olivia needed her parents. Because he'd end up screwing up sometime soon. His phone beeped and he grimaced. "That's a bad thing," he decided. He let her nap. He had two hours to get her ready to go to the doctor for a checkup and shots.
Willow came back to her body with a sigh. "Xander had Olivia." Daniel beamed and nodded. "He said he and Tara are sharing custody."
"If I know Xander he would've told her but I'm not sure if she's answered him. Olivia was sniffly and crying to be held but she and Xander were stretching on some garden porch." She sighed again, shifting. "He asked where we were and I explained it as best I could."
"Any idea why this happened?" Buffy asked.
"When I got Tara, she told me it was a Watcher who was jealous for his sister."
Buffy scowled. "I would've helped her."
"No clue beyond that." She looked at Daniel. "She looked good. Xander's kept her healthy."
He nodded. "He'd be a good Da if he had his own. When we're back we'll handle it and wean her off him." She nodded, accepting his help up. They went to check on their camp and tell the others. Joyce didn't look too healthy but they'd handle it. Buffy had a lot of things to hunt, including for food. Giles thankfully knew how to do that with Daniel too.
Giles stared at her. "Why are you glowing?" he asked.
"No birth control here?" she guessed, looking at her husband, who nodded.
"Willow, we don't have what we'd need for an infant," he complained.
"Giles, women in the wilds do it with less every year." He shut up at that. "It'll be fine."
"If you're certain but I have no idea how to deliver a child."
"I read it a few times in my mother's books." He nodded, leaving it for now. "Worry more what happens when our clothes are all worn out."
"I'm sure we can handle it with furs or something," he complained. He checked on Joyce and told her the news. She shrugged and decided it would be fine so he'd quit worrying. At least the two most likely to be able to protect themselves were together with the baby.
Xander walked into the library a week later, handing her and the diaper bag to Tara. "I can't think. I can't write." Tara smirked. "It's not her, it's the whole house. I have no idea what the damn factory next door is doing but it's driving me nuts." He walked off to the back area with his laptop.
Tara looked at the baby, who was grinning. "That's not a good look. Let's go change you and then we'll shelve books." She took her to do that. Her boss gave her an odd look so she shrugged. She came back from changing her and let Olivia go sit in the room where Xander was writing. She had to shelve over there anyway. Her phone rang and she answered it quickly. "I'm at work." She listened. "He's here, Detective Taylor." Xander looked at her. "I don't know." Xander shrugged and waved a hand at the computer, getting a nod. "Check your email in a minute." She hung up. Xander wrote the email and answered what was going on. She looked over his shoulder, grimacing. "That's not good."
She nodded and let it go while she shelved. Olivia had to be rescued from helping others read but that was about usual for a toddler.
Mac Taylor hung up. "The owner of this one is at the library with his niece. He said that something was going on next door." He got into his email and found it. The fire department captain read it too and nodded. "Would that fit with what happened?"
"Yup. Sounds like the machine was straining because of the body in it." Mac nodded. "Harris lives here?" Mac pointed out. He looked. "That's a pretty house."
"It's a wonderful house and has a pool on the roof." That got a smirk and they went to check the machines again. Mac made sure everyone was clear and turned it back on, nearly clapping his hands over his ears at the screeching, shrieking, stressed out noises. It got turned off.
"That's an oil problem," someone called from across the room. They stomped over. "What happened?"
"We got called about a worker trapped in the machines," Mac said calmly.
"There's no way you can climb into those." Mac walked him over to look and get how to take the machine apart. He apparently knew a lot. "I was the floor manager for twenty years until the new boss took over last month," he said at the odd look. "I heard on the police band radio and came to make sure the guys I know are all right."
"Can you identify him?"
"Probably." He looked under the sheet and nodded. "That's the new owner."
"That's good to know. Thank you. Can you stay available when we take it apart?"
"Of course." He nodded at the ME walking in with the gurney and body haulers. "Ma'am."
"There's a few pieces within the machine," Mac told her.
"Okay. We can get them too," she said. "Homicide?"
"On their way. Flack is coming."
"Sure." She smiled. "He's cute and staring at him is great fun." Mac smiled, getting the foreman to help them take apart the few thousand pound machine. The fire department guys got the missing pieces out and over to the ME.
The floor manager looked. "That's black."
Mac stared. "That's true, it is. Can you do a personnel check?"
"Yup." He went to do that. He came back with three missing people and the present manager said two were off and the other was Tunisian. Unfortunately that skin was too dark for him too.
The ME looked over. "So we're missing more than one body?" she demanded.
"Apparently," Mac said calmly.
She looked. "Boys, check the other machines. You're making me wait." They went to do that. They found them in another one. They got them out of them and were told how it fed into the other one. That's where the rest of the missing parts were. Including a head.
Flack walked over to look then grimaced. "That's bad." He went to talk to the workers. He wanted to know about the victims.
Mac nodded. "Very bad." The ME nodded she agreed. "Flack, have you checked the warehouse recently?"
"He's been too busy being an uncle to play poker, Mac."
"Okay." He left it there.
"Beckett checks on him every few days," the ME said with a smile. Mac smirked back. They finished up and she got to leave.
Xander came home with the baby, looking at the gathered people. Most were reporters. But not looking at his place. He looked at the baby then at his door. "Rebecca, can you move?" he asked. She flinched and got out of his way. "Thanks."
"This is your place, Alexian?" He pointed up. "Oh, that's cute."
He grinned. "I inherited the warehouse." She nodded. He used the baby to block his access code once he had swiped his card. He walked in and shut the door, leaning against it. The baby grinned at him again. He did it again and went upstairs. Once his laptop was back in the fireproof vault he went back down to teach her about the warehouse. There were all new things on the inventory he wanted to see. And a few things he called O'Neill about. He went to bleed on the stone and came back to handle things. One thing was listed as dangerous so he went to dismantle it. That solved it from exploding. He walked the pieces out, handing it to the officer. "I have no idea," he told him. "Somehow it ended up in the warehouse. The only way things get in there is by my hand or magic so ....." He handed over the box. "It was in that." He walked off again, going back inside.
The officer looked at the bomb. "Taylor?" he called. He came to the door and took the box and bomb. "Some weird guy with a baby in a chest carrier...."
"Oh!" He nodded. "Figures."
"He'll handle it. I'll check on him later." The officer nodded, going back to his post.
"Was that a bomb?" one of the reporters called.
"Someone sent it to Harris," the officer said. "He's disarmed it appropriately and handed it over." They nodded and made note of that. Plus where he lived.
Xander leaned out the door. "If you guys camp out on my doorway I'm going to have to complain and start tossing dirty diapers at you." He smiled. "Don't worry about it!" They sighed but nodded. "Thank you! Say thank you, Olivia?" She beamed and babbled at them. "Good girl." He closed the door and went back inside. Someone beamed in. "We're covered in reporters because there were dead bodies in a machine across the street, Jack."
"That's fine." He followed Xander to that room of higher tech stuff, being handed the thing Xander had written him about. "Huh." He shrugged and took a few other things. "Thanks, kid."
"Welcome, Jack." He got something else and brought it back. "It's listed as just appeared. It's a charger of some sort. No idea of what."
"I'll send it to McKay to see if he can figure it out."
Xander beamed. "Cool. Have a good dinner. Olivia, can you tell General Jack bye bye?"
"Bye!" she said loudly, smiling and waving at him.
"You're so adorable," he said, patting her on the head. He took the things back to the mountain. "Ended up in the warehouse," he said. Carter moaned, getting up to look at things. He pointed. "He said that was a charger?"
"We'll see," she decided. She couldn't figure out what was wrong with the connector but it would probably fit something on Atlantis. The other things she fixed so they weren't dangerous and wouldn't disappear again. They had to set up a routine exploration of whatever warehouse they ended up at to make sure nothing else disappeared. She went to ask Jack O'Neill about it. She didn't believe the whole 'bigger inside than outside' thing he said because that was just science fiction tv shows.
Tara sat down across from Xander at lunch on the first day off she had in a while. "Maybe we should let her go to daycare instead of interviews." He put down his burger to stare at her. "Someone recognized her at the library again."
He sighed. "It's not a bad idea but I don't want to let her get into trouble. What happens if her magic comes out while there?"
"One of my coven works with the toddlers," she said with a smile.
"I'd like to meet her."
"We can do that. Dinner?"
"Only if you're cooking. I need groceries. That's why she's at daycare and I'm having lunch." Tara sighed but was smiling. "We're down to boxes of bad milk."
"Figures." She leaned on the table. "You need to eat better."
"We eat just fine. Dean even got her to like vegetables beyond salad."
"That's sweet of him." She smiled. "Sam's girlfriend wrote me an email." He grinned. "Thanks."
"I figured she had worries about dating a hunter and you're good at talking to those who want to enter the life." He smirked.
"Thank you." He grinned and ate another bite. "You should go vegan."
"Fine." She smiled. "Want help grocery shopping?"
"Sure. Just not too many veggies." He ate another bite and put down his burger to take a sip of his soda. "I'm starting to feel all too regular and normal again." She snickered, shaking her head. "I haven't even gotten into a fight in weeks. I know why Dean said he was feeling like the wife before he went back on the road."
She patted him on the wrist. "I can probably come over tonight." He beamed. "Beth's having girl moments."
"All of you do," he said dryly, getting swatted. He smirked. "You do."
"Some more than others." She texted Beth, getting a pouty, sad emoticon back. She called. "I was going to spend some time with Olivia tonight, Beth, and you said you weren't feeling well. I thought you wanted some time alone." She smiled at him. "That's fine, I'll do it tomorrow. We'll cuddle tonight. Grocery shopping." She rolled her eyes. "No, Xander wanted advice on vegetables for Olivia. You know he doesn't like them, Beth."
He took the phone. "Beth, I'm sorry I'm monopolizing Tara's time when you need her to cuddle because you feel nasty." He listened. "No, nothing like that. You know I'm not a great cook and she's bored with what I can do with vegetables but we all know she needs more because she's growing. I want to give her more than the simple salads we taught her about." He smiled. "Exactly. She's good since she's a vegan. But I don't know any other vegans, Beth. And she's got half custody. So that means she's got to help me some."
He smiled at her. "I know, that's why you haven't had the baby all that often. I know you hate kids and hate being the mommy, that's why I keep her most of the time. Yup, because I do read people pretty well, Beth. You know that." He grinned. "No, I'm making her help me grocery shop for us. We're so out of food not even my screwed up diet could find something. Yeah, exactly. Unless the baby wants to live on twinkies we have to grocery shop. I'll have her home by then. Did you need her to pick anything up?" He grinned, making a note. "Okay, we can do that. Feel better, Beth. Have a good bath too, it always helps Tara." He hung up and shook his head, handing over the note.
"I can do that and start dinner," Tara decided, putting it into her pocket. "She does need better than your usual diet."
Xander nodded. "But she needs red meat too."
"I know, she needs protein." She stole a fry. "Daycare then grocery?"
"Grocery then daycare. Or else she begs." She nodded. Xander finished his lunch and they went to the grocery store. Once things were up, Xander drove them to the daycare so they could sit down with that coven member and talk to her about Olivia's magical outbreaks. She had seen one and blocked it so they made plans for it so Xander could drop her off for interviews and other work related things that took him from the house. Olivia got let in and she squealed, coming over to sit in Xander's lap and show him the block. "That's a very pretty block, Olivia. Did you bring that in?"
"No," the worker said with a grin. "Can I have it?" she asked, holding out a hand. Olivia pouted. She stared. "Please?" Olivia handed it over. Xander pulled out the new hair bow and put it into her hair, earning a grin. He pointed at Tara, who got a smile and a wave.
"She's forgetting me," Tara pouted.
Olivia pouted back and reached for her, letting Tara cuddle her. "Good?" she asked with a smile.
"You're very good for Auntie Tara, Olivia. We love you." She cuddled her. "I'll be with you tomorrow night and we'll have auntie time." She grinned and the baby grinned back.
"She's got a good hand being a manipulative toddler." Xander moaned. "She'll put on a good show to get attention and then act all shy and wave and smile and coo." Xander nodded. "Anytime someone brings a book up to a desk she looks around for a pen or the toy that looks like a scanner." They grinned. "You guys have taught her some really weird things but she's a good baby most of the time. Though, she needs more pants, Xander." He pointed at Tara, who nodded and rolled her eyes. "For in here, pants." Xander nodded. "Potty training starting soon?"
"How in the hell do I do that?" he asked. The other woman laughed. "Seriously?"
"We'll work on it and teach you what we're doing. She's not fully ready but it's time to start thinking about it." Xander nodded.
"With the upstairs and downstairs you'll want two potty chairs," Tara said. Xander nodded. "We'll work on that soon. She's not quite two yet." She looked down. "We'll get you some cute pants too."
"She's getting a bit bigger," Xander said. The daycare worker nodded. "So it's time to move up sizes of diapers and clothes."
"We can do that." She cuddled her. "We'll take her older stuff to the consignment or thrift store." Xander nodded. "She likes wearing dresses."
"That's because it makes her feel like a girly girl. I'm thinking Willow was having bad version of womanhood again thanks to Buffy."
"Could be," Tara said. "Not the first time Buffy's given her odd thoughts." She kissed her on the head. "You need a trim."
"She likes it when it curls and I'm trying to get it to french braiding length." He leaned back. "Someone asked me about schools on the website."
Tara considered it. "What's being said in Devon?" Xander shrugged. "We have a year." He shook his head. So did the daycare worker. "We don't?"
"The three best schools have two year waiting lists and they decide early," the daycare worker said. "I ended up sending mine to catholic school because of that."
"I want her somewhere good. She's clearly bright. Her mommy was almost a genius level brain. Her daddy's fairly people and street smart."
"It's nice that Daniel is like the Irish version of you," Tara agreed. "Without the battle axe or artillery."
"He knows how to use both. I taught him when she had colic," Xander said with a grin. Tara pinched him on the arm, earning a scowl from the baby. "I deserved that, Olivia. Don't scowl at Auntie Tara." He looked at her. "Any other orders or things that'd make things easier?"
"Will she eat regular food?"
"I don't feed her baby food," Xander said. "She eats whatever I'm eating. I tend to feed her then eat myself." That got a nod and a smile. "She's had everything from steak to salad and she loves salad as long as it has ranch dressing."
"We taught her that in response to him teaching her about twinkies," Tara agreed.
"That's good. Is she an omnivore?"
"Yes," Xander said. "I eat half of anything. Including meat and some veggies."
She nodded. "I'll make that note." She smiled and tossed the block into the other room when she spotted a coworker cleaning up toys. Olivia pouted at her. "You can play with them the next time you're in."
"We can get you blocks later," Xander promised. "When we're clothes shopping." Olivia squealed and bounced. "Are you sure you aren't the daughter of Buffy?" Tara snickered, shaking her head. "Okay, pants, sneakers?" She nodded. "Hair things being a problem?"
"No. She shows them off to the other girls, who like them. It's all good. She doesn't look like Pebbles, which is the usual baby hairstyle." She smiled. "You're doing okay, Xander." Xander beamed and shook her hand, kissing her on the cheek. They left after signing Olivia out. She went to talk to her boss. "Xander Harris has agreed to make her like girlish pants. Apparently Tara had been buying all the cute clothes and dresses." Her boss smiled. "So we'll get her in more pants, more often when he's got interviews, and they'll start thinking and learning about potty training and talking about schools."
"Good plan. Why the long conference?"
"The block shifting stuff."
"That's reasonable. You've done good with her." The younger woman smiled. "Thank you for the dress thing."
"Some girls only like dresses." She shrugged. "She'll do fine." She went to help clean up. They were mostly done for the day, only the usual few late kids. "Who wants to do a puzzle?" The kids squealed and ran over to help her. They loved the big, fuzzy, soft puzzles some of her friends made.
Xander sat down the next day beside Rick at the station, staring at him. "School." Rick winced. "Yeah, that's why I'm thinking."
"School's something you have to think about. A good school is expensive."
"What if I put her on a waiting list and they come back?"
"They'll understand as long as you're honest with them." Xander nodded at that, hugging her. "How is her daycare in education stuff?"
"In a few years they'll be working more on the workbook system but for right now she's leaning colors and words."
"That's good for her age." He smiled. "Relax."
"There's a whole listing. You can buy the book, look at the listing, and make a decision after some tours."
"And they'll accept her even if I might not have custody?"
"They deal with a lot of divorced kids, Xander. They're used to custody issues, even if yours is a bit involved." Xander relaxed and grinned. "As for good schools? I hated Alexis' first day school by the end of third grade. Everything had changed, the teachers got worse, she quit learning for a bit." Xander nodded. "There's a few good ones. Get one close by because you'll be rushing in a few times. Sometimes it'll be rainy or you'll have car troubles. Check religious affiliation. With her mom being Wicca and her dad being Catholic, that's going to be a fight they'd be having themselves."
"So non-denom," Xander said. Rick nodded. "High education but not totally pushy." That got another nod. Beckett handed him a name and address. "Is that a catholic school?"
"Up the street from the library. It's a good day school. It's got a good academic olympics at the mid level. It's a tiny school. It's selective but not snotty about it. It has rich kids and poor kids that go there. There's no stigma of poor kids on scholarship." Xander beamed at that. "Their lower years aren't bad and they still have recess, which a lot of schools don't."
"I like that."
"It'll encourage her brains and let her play but won't get too pushy."
"I'd like that. Thank you, Beckett."
"Welcome." She smiled.
"Your alma matter?" Rick teased her.
"No. One of my friends went there and I used to help him with his homework because he hated math." She smiled at the sleeping baby. "She's comfy."
"She's growing," Xander said.
"They do that," Rick agreed. "Sometimes they'll wake up a whole different size than the day before."
"The daycare wanted her in more pants so we had to get her pants she liked and showed her what donation was."
"That's how kids learn to be socially responsible." Rick smiled. "You have a year. Drive by the schools to look at them and then make your list for visits. Hit the classrooms, the caf during lunchtime, and talk to the principal." Xander nodded. "Make sure you put her education costs in an interest bearing account so you can't touch it even in an emergency." Xander nodded better at that. "Factor in at least five years for right now and you can add to it each year. It's even tax deferred in this state."
"That'd be good. I pay way too much." Beckett smirked at him. "I do."
"If you make more you pay more. That's the way the system works." She pointed at the baby. Xander looked and shifted her, letting her lay in his arms. "Go change her. We have a changing room, Xander." He nodded, taking her to do that. "How many did you look at for Alexis?"
"Three the first time but when I got pissed off at them ninety-three. I saw about every school in the city." Xander came back with her in a new outfit and awake. She squealed and grabbed Detective Ryan to cuddle around the head.
"Hi, princess." He patted her hands and accepted the kiss, smiling at her. "Thank you, dear." She beamed and waved at his partner. "Why don't you hug him?"
"You were in the path of walking," Xander said. He let her hug him then she came back to him and they sat down. "How hard is the application? You hear things about letters of recommendation, tests, all sorts of things."
Rick stared at him. "Unless you're paying over fifteen grand a year, no. Those are for the really rich and those who want to play with them. Pick one with good academics, good activities, and teachers you can stand. The catholic ones might mind that you're bi but I doubt you want to go that way anyway." Xander nodded. "Music is good and she likes music, right?"
"Yeah, we dance around sometimes." Xander grinned. "And the pool. She likes to swim and help me stretch in the mornings."
"That's good for her. Let her pick what she wants to do. She's too young for anything but the pushiest of parents putting their kids in sports and dance classes hoping for a phenom." Xander nodded at that. "Teach her sports, take her to museums, take her to play and she'll pick what she likes to do."
"I can do that. And then tell her daddy when they get back?"
"Daniel's a good father, he'll listen to what she's learned and what she likes to do," Beckett said.
He nodded. "Thanks, guys." He got up and took her to the car. "Let's get a drink and then go home." She nodded, smiling at him. He took her to a bar, which wasn't really a baby place to be but he had learned that Daniel's cousin worked there. He walked in and sat at the bar, staring at the bartender. "George?"
"In the back," the bartender said without looking up from his paper. "George!"
He came out wiping his hands. "Yeah? Olivia!" he sighed, taking her to cuddle. "Who're you?" he demanded.
"Xander. I wrote Daniel's mother and haven't heard anything."
"Auntie said someone had her." He sat down. "She's grown since he sent pictures."
Xander nodded. "She's growing right now actually." He smiled. "I wrote your mom to see if she knew what's in Daniel's will for her, George." He glared. "He's off realm. I've seen Willow spirit walking once. We've looked at Willow's and she left Olivia to me and Tara."
"I get that," he agreed. "Though I'm not sure I could stand a witch."
"So's her mom and so's Olivia," Xander said, making him look so sad. "We've kept her from breaking too bad with it but if she's frustrated it'll open doorknobs and grab toys." That got a nod. "We've got that under control but we need to know what Daniel wanted. It could be a year or more."
"I get that." He handed her back and Xander sat her on the bar, letting her look around with a scowl. "She's a girly little thing."
"Yeah, quite often." He grinned. "She enjoyed dressing up when I had to bring her to interviews." He got a funny look. "I'm also Alexian Harris, the author."
"Oh! Yeah, I heard about that stuff." He called. "Auntie, didn't you get a letter from the states and the guy that brought us that letter from Danny?" He listened. "I'm looking at Olivia. Her Ma's will gave her to Xander, that one that brought us the letter, or Tara, her ex."
"We're splitting custody but I have her most of the time," Xander told him.
"Yeah, them, Ma. Is there a demon threat?"
"There's a few who'd love her for her inherited skills but they're damn sure they don't want to tangle with me over her," Xander said honestly. "Or Tara. Tara made it *real* plain to a few." He nodded and said that. He adjusted her shirt. "You're too young to flash belly button, young lady." He kissed her on the nose, earning a grin and a giggle. "We'll go home soon. That way you can chase the cats around again." George hung up. "What's she know about Daniel's wishes?"
"She said his will's from before her birth and it left everything to his wife. Though I heard they had problems?"
"Willow's struggled with her magic addiction a few times. Willow's the sort that showing mastery got her attention she craved and needed so she was the school genius and all that. Magic came as another one of those things that got her notice." George grimaced but nodded. "Tara and others have never had that problem because they accept what they can do as a gift and use it responsibly that way. Which is how she's being taught, even by Daniel. Tara's been handling that part of her education and growth because she is active. Willow transported them across the country a few times and went to reminisce in Sunnydale a few times, all that." George nodded. "Did you want visitation for the family? I'm fairly certain your aunt could throw legal fits that none of us want right now. It'd only cause her problems and pain and none of us want that."
"That's not a bad thing. I can visit?"
"Yeah." Xander wrote down his address and phone number. "Call first so I can make sure we're home and let you in because I have a security system." George nodded and smiled, taking her to cuddle. "That's your cousin, Olivia. His name is George."
She cooed and petted his hair. He whispered in her ear and she squealed, kissing him. "Been missing your Da's accent?" he teased with a grin. Xander nodded. "Then it's good your uncle has sense."
"If I had remembered you were here earlier I'd have brought her as soon as we got back." He grinned. "We're having her birthday in seven days in the park. She's having a great cake and a lot of playing time. If it's raining it'll be at my place." He nodded with a smile. "She'll be two. We're also talking about schools."
"Catholic," he said.
"Her mother's Wicca and Jewish."
"Oh, dirt," he muttered. She hugged him. He patted her. "You're a good girl, Olivia."
"Often. When she's not.... She's usually chasing my cats." George laughed. "I'm looking at schools now and got a good recommendation from a detective I know. I want her somewhere good educationally." He nodded. "She's very smart even when she doesn't want to show it. I know they could come back at any moment and we'll figure that out but otherwise we're doing okay. We have a good daily routine that includes some exercise in the pool and some playing time while I write." That got another nod. "She's eating very well. I'm a decent enough cook and Tara makes sure I feed her enough veggies. Even though her aunts have taught her that evil salad creature as long as it has ranch dressing."
"Good to know," he said with a grin, looking at her. "You like salad?" She kissed him. He grinned. "You're a loving little thing, Olivia." She snuggled in again. "Thank you."
"I'd never want to keep her family from her. Daniel's a nice guy. I like him more than I like Willow most of the time anymore."
George nodded. "We've heard." He handed her back, getting pouted at. "None'a that, Olivia. I'll see you in a few days, for your birthday." She grinned shyly and hid her face. "She's got the best you can?"
"I'm doing the best I can for and with her. She's as close as I'm getting to kids without magic helping or adopting." George nodded. "Call, let me know when you want to visit. We'll work out taking her to the park and things. I used to go read in the park once a week. I have a nice garden area on my patio and things too." He put the diaper bag over his shoulder. "Ready to go home and get lunchies?" She beamed and kissed him. "I love you too, 'Liv." He shook George's hand. "Let me know if your mom wants pictures or anything. I know you're family." He nodded and smiled so Xander left with her.
George called his aunt back to talk to her. She had hated Willow but she knew that the baby was in good hands and if Xander was willing to let them visit they'd take advantage to check on her. He had to break her heart about having magic like her mother but that was all right. She'd adapt and move on. Tara was a good witch with what she'd done for the city. She did want pictures from the birthday and he agreed. He told her the boy was thinking about school stuff and that she was apparently brainy like her mother, because Daniel hated school. So she was satisfied enough with that and he'd watch to make sure she wasn't getting hurt or anything funny going on.
The bartender looked at him. "You know that's the guy that helps with those demon things, right?" George gaped. He nodded. "Yeah, he is. With that Tara girl. They're like siblings at times." He smiled. "He's very safe for her and I've never heard it said that he'd want to hurt that baby. He threatened to destroy the whole world if anyone touched her after they took her parents." He grinned. "He's also said to be a goofy gun nut with cats."
"He's a bit weird but she seems happy."
"He's had to bring her to some interviews for new books. They all say that she's adorable and has a lot of personality. She likes being dressed up. Heard she went to the library a few times with her aunt. Knows other hunters because we've seen her clinging to the Winchesters."
"That's good though, means she's protected and more are looking out for her."
The bartender smiled. "He meant it, he'd kill everyone over that baby."
George smiled. "Good! I like that. So would her Da." He went back into the kitchen to get back to making food for the later rush times. He'd have to spend a lot of time with his cousin, make sure she grew up normal and not one of those rich snobs you laughed at on tv.
Xander yawned and stretched then answered his phone. "Xander." He listened. "Ghostly or for real?" He nodded. "We've seen her once in ghostly form. How pregnant does she look? So we can tell how fast time is moving there." He listened and grimaced. "Yeah she was when she visited. No, we're home. Any luck on their side for getting back?"
He sighed. "Okay, so we're still on the Devon coven doing something. Thanks for letting me know. Thinking about looking at schools for her actually. So yeah, something I wanted to know." He grinned. "Thanks, Andrew. At the library. No, it's Thursday, right? Then she's at home with Beth. Probably cuddling on the couch. Thanks, man. Let me know if that changes. Yup, next week. Cake and all. Two whole years old and still pretending very well."
He grinned at her when she looked up at him. "Thank you." He hung up and called Tara. "She showed up in ghostly form again but wasn't pregnant anymore, looked like she was nursing." Tara moaned. "So it's moving faster. She said there's no hope from their side because it'll take a whole new portal and she doesn't have any reference links here. So yeah, it'll be a while. So we need to start looking at schools."
He winced. "Want to come here? No, that's fine. You two will figure it out, Tara. You know you will and if she's mean to you remind her I'll beat her to death. Sure. Laters." He hung up. "Well, it's not happy news," he said, reaching over to stack a block for her. She swatted at him and did it instead. Now he had to have the scary, heavy daddyhood thoughts.
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