Talking About Things.

John Sheppard looked up as a demon appeared in his gateroom on Atlantis.  "That's an amazing trip," he said as he came out, gun already in hand.  "How in the fuck did you get here?"

The demon stared at him.  "I represent the highest of high on both sides," he said simply.  "I am here to end two things that are cursing some of your people and to inform you of something."  He stared at him.  "The Guardian of the Warehouse has nominated you to follow him."

"What guardian of what warehouse?" Ronon asked as he joined John.

"Xander," John guessed.  The demon smiled and nodded.  "Why me?"

"Because otherwise it would got to a Winchester and too many of the wrong sort want them to be used.  As the treaties that govern the peacefulness of the warehouse were broken after millennia in service we had to remake them.  Both sides have agreed, mostly because they do not want the present Guardian or his husband to come kill them."

"That's always a wise thing," John agreed.  "What were they doing this time?"

"A group who plotted to overthrow your country by pressuring the Guardian to open the hunting world more.  That would lead to mass hunting of the hunters and they would take control of your country at that time as a stepping stone to greater power.  Unfortunately they tried both Guardians and the original one got very upset that they tried to kill his husband.  He nearly opened a vessel that has absolute power to decreate humanity over it."

"That sounds like Xander on a rip, yeah," John admitted.  "So why me?"

"He trusts you.  We *all* trust you, on both sides.  You are the primary heir, though you may bring in the Great Loud One to either aide you, co-manage with you, or be your heir."

"Magic would drive McKay nuts," Ronon said.  "He might destroy everyone trying to figure it out."

"Perhaps."  He smiled at John again.  "May I remove the two curses?"

"I want to know what they are and if they've kicked into effect up here," John said firmly.

"Of course.  That is well within my duties."  He handed over the scroll.  "A copy of the treaties for you to go over, Heir."  He found the two curses and made them both appear.  "It appears that they have had decent effects up here instead of the ones on Earth would."

"If they're giving them help, it's up to them to have them removed.  Will there be a backlash or balancing of their luck?" John asked.

"Not usually though up here the rules are a bit different."  He tested each one again and showed them how it had helped.  Also who had cursed them.

"I hate my mother-in-law," one muttered.  The other snickered, his had been a former girlfriend.  "No, it's saved mine and my team's life.  It can stay.  Can I have it removed when I go back to earth?"

"You would have to get the vengeance demons that did it to do so and that would kill them."

"Then they can stay, even if it does kill us as soon as we get home," the other said.  The demon nodded and left them alone.  "Sir?"

"I got named the heir to the mystical warehouse that steals stuff from the base," he said dryly.  They cackled because only Sheppard or McKay could do that.  "Any other cheery news?"

The demon smiled.  "Olivia and her siblings' prophecies are being negated so they are not the end of humanity.  The Guardian has also warped one that would have changed the slayer lines by being born male."

"That still sounds like Xander, yup.  Thanks for the good news."

"You are most welcome."  He bowed and left.

The scientists got to take readings from that spot now instead of from the walls.  McKay walked over, staring at John.  "Why me?"

"Xander guards it."

"Oh, that makes perfect sense," he complained.

"He doesn't know too many people he could trust to hide things that could end the world.  I consider that a compliment."

"Me as well."  He grimaced.  "We should still go thump him."

John smiled.  "Maybe we'll show up on their next signing trip.  He was saying he'd get to go this upcoming summer with Peter.  Though they've decided not to go to England thanks to the Council."

Rodney snorted.  "I hate those cranks."

"They may all be gone now," John offered.  "Xander's last email said that they tried to take Olivia's sister so her father showed up with SO-19, a few detectives, a social worker, and then they destroyed most of the building.  Xander brought a hand unit he found in the warehouse to help with that."  Rodney shuddered.  "Oh, yeah.  He even let Daniel do most of the destroying."  He grinned.

"Then they're probably all gone.  I would've destroyed them down to the molecular level for touching any hypothetical children I may ever have."  He shook his head quickly.  "Hold on, siblings?"

"They managed to get Daniel and Olivia's little brother and sister free of that realm.  They managed to get three of the LA team off another realm they had been sent to and Connor off a third.  Buffy and Willow, plus whatever she's pregnant with are still trapped."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "She's probably a very good big sister."

"He said she is but he was also complaining that Daniel's having problems being the dad at the moment.  They're all getting used to being here instead of there and the adjustment hasn't always been smooth.  Plus, Olivia has a Twitter feed."

Rodney looked confused.  "Isn't she ...three or so now?"  John nodded with a grin.  "Why?"

"They thought she was brilliant when she was talking about how Xander needed a wedding dress."  He took Rodney's tablet to get into his own email and show him the video Xander had sent him.  Rodney cackled and shook his head.  "That's why she's on Twitter.  Someone thought it was adorable."

"I definitely agree."  He took it back.  "Treaty?"  John read it and grimaced but handed it over.  "It's nice they won't screw with us when it's our turn," he said dryly, handing it back and going to shoo the scientists away from the demon essence readings.

John went back to his office.  That was too weird, even by Xander standards. It only got weirder during the email update they had that night.  In that one it said that they were getting a special, helpful creature who loved wraith.  The fact that General O'Neill had sent the film made him less than skeptical about it but it being a flying monkey that was ripping apart the wraith they had captive on earth was really weird.  Even by Xander, SGC, or any other scale. 

"Rodney?" he called.  He came in with a packet of painkilling pills.  "Thank you."  He let him see the email.  Rodney read with a frown then watched the video.  Rodney walked off rubbing his own head mumbling about bursting blood veins and maybe even tumors being responsible for him having seen that.  Woolsey came in and he let him see the video.  He got that same headache look. 

So it was universal, Xander was too warped now.

Clearly the husband needed to work harder to make him sane.  John sent that back to him.


Xander got woken up by the vision this time, which was not usual.  He grabbed his phone while he was still panting in pain, calling home.  "Check Olivia's room, Daniel.  Is she there?"  Daniel sounded confused but went to check.  "No, vision, she's trying to pop to the cabin."  Peter rubbed his back, making him calm down.  "Please.  She's got a GPS chip in her jacket, the one she wears to daycare.  She doesn't know that but John put it in for me."  He listened, laying back down and letting Peter hold him.  He calmed down his blood pressure spike from waking up that way and Peter worked on his neck and shoulders so the headache would ease.  "Thank you, Peter."

"Baby should not do that."  He heard Daniel's complaining about 'Willow losing her eff-ing mind' and smiled.  "Not the only one."

"No, she's not the only one that would."  John got woken up with Dean and Sam.  Sam had an idea where she was. He called the police there while John and Dean searched the warehouse in case.  "No, I'm pretty sure she popped off, Daniel.  It's not like she could be running out for berries from the local market."  He rubbed his forehead again.  "I don't know.  I didn't get that part but I'm going to be asking her.  No, I'll get her.  You stay with the other two.  She'll talk to me where she won't you right now."  Sam reported that someone had found her and taken her to the ER.  The officers quit trying to arrest him for it too. 

"How far?  Thank you."  He hung up and Sam texted the phone number of the person he had been speaking to for him to use.  He called them.  "This is Alexander Harris.  Olivia is my niece and I have custody of her.  How is she?  No, she's a little mini witch and she's apparently running away from home at the moment.  No I'm on vacation.  Where are you guys?"  He sighed.  "That's within two hours.  I'll be right there with my spouse.  Thank you."  He hung up and got up.  Peter followed.  Xander turned and kissed him.  "I have no idea what is going on," he said quietly.

"Most likely Daniel said something that upset her again," he said, giving him a hug.  "We will deal with it and paddle her for attempting such a feat."

"Yes, we will be.  There's no way that doesn't deserve a spanking."  He got dressed and Peter took the keys.  Xander used his phone to get directions.  Then they were off.


Xander walked into the ER and the sheriff nodded at him.  "My niece?"

"She's got a blistering headache."

"Her ass is about to match it," he said bluntly.  "I have no idea where she got that idea but damn it!"

The sheriff smiled.  "Some kids run away when things get tough."

"No, there's a longer story there.  Her father's just now back from another realm."

"I heard."  He pointed.  "She's in there and you can't spank her in the hospital."

"It'd probably kill her with the backlash migraine she's got."  He walked in there and the nurse glared at him.  He stared back.  "Are you trying healing spells?" he asked bluntly.

"No, checking her magical core.  It's a bit weakened."

"I have no idea why she tried that in the first place.  Or how she managed to get this far from New York."

The nurse winced.  "Must've been bad."

"Maybe.  I don't know.  I haven't talked to Daniel yet."  She winced.  "I got woken up with a vision about her doing this though."  He tapped her on the head, getting blinked at.  "You are in *so* deep even your mommy couldn't swim that stream."  She sniffled.  "We'll be talking once you can see straight, Olivia."  He cuddled her.  She calmed down.  "I love you but you're so spanked for this."

"Wanted you," she sniffled.

"I noticed.  You could've been hurt or killed.  There's no way in hell you're getting out of trouble this time."  She pouted but nodded, curling up against his chest.  The doctor came in with a social worker.  "I have custody.  The judge hasn't returned it to her father since he's just now back."

"We got the paperwork faxed," the social worker admitted.  "What happened?"

"I don't know yet.  I wanted to hear her side and reasons before I asked her father."  He looked at her.  "Well?"  She whispered something and then snuggled in again.  He huffed and looked at Peter, who took his phone and the social worker to talk to Daniel.  "Advil, bananas, and water?" he guessed.

"She's a bit anemic as well."

"She loves fruit and veggies but we have some leftover steak at home," he admitted.  The doctor smiled and nodded.  Peter came back without the social worker.  "And he said...."

"He had no idea telling her that girls should be less bookish was that bad."

"Yeah, it is," he said dryly.  "That's like telling you to be less proficient with weapons."  Peter snickered and nodded.  "Okay, I can hold my temper in."  He looked at her then at Peter.  "We're going back in a day."

"I know."  He patted him on the back.  "It will be fine.  She is a good girl and will probably be sleeping off the headache until then."

"If not longer."  He looked at the doctor.  "Any other orders?"

"Have you thought about therapy?"

"I think her daddy needs some, yes.  I was told he was supposed to start some this week actually."  She smirked.  "Olivia's a very bright, pretty normal little girl.  Her siblings are catching up to their age group.  Daniel.....  I'm going to beat shit out of when we get home."

"But he's daddy," Olivia whined.

He looked at her.  "We'll settle it like daddies."  She relaxed again and nodded.  He cuddled her.  "Any other orders?" he asked with a smile.

"No, she's fine to be discharged as long as you can handle the headache."

"Yup.  I've seen it a few times before."  He picked her up.  Peter signed the papers and they left.  Olivia's carseat wasn't in there but they bucked her into the backseat while she was laying down, one across her lap and one across her chest.  Xander let her have his overshirt to nap on.  The sheriff nodded that was acceptable and they went back to the cabin.  Once back there, Xander took the phone out to the woods to talk to John Winchester.  He was a good mediating being right now.


John hung up and looked at the others.  "Olivia's at the cabin."  Dean sighed in relief.  Daniel nodded, looking at his hands.  "Boys."  He nodded his head at the stairs.  They left them alone.  "Want to tell me what you said to her to make her run away?"

Daniel looked at him.  "I have no idea."

"She said you were going to make her quit reading and being herself."  Daniel glared, shaking his head.  "So what did you say to her?"

"I said that I'm proud of her reading skills but we'd do some things soon so she could do more than read.  She's never outside anymore."

"It's winter, Daniel.  She's been outside the last three days."

"To go places.  Not to play."

"She doesn't like snow.  She avoids snow.  Even on the sidewalk she avoids snow.  It's Shannon that stomps on each and every single snow pile you run into."  Daniel slumped again.  "Though Sam took her to the park yesterday to watch the people exercising their horses.  That's why she came back and dove under the couch throw with a book."

"She should be doing more than reading," Daniel said firmly.

"She does a lot.  She does baby yoga stuff with Xander every morning.  Sometimes even without him.  Dean and I have both been joined during our morning PT by her doing her stretches.  She runs up and down the stairs all day long.  She helps me with Shannon and Brad's PT.  If we hooked up a hamster wheel to a battery, she'd light the whole house some days.  She's not bored, she's not inactive, and the few pounds she's gained are because she's about to grow again.  She'll look much too skinny during it if she didn't."  He stared at him.  "You upset her enough that Xander said she actually asked for Willow."  Daniel grimaced and sighed, shaking his head.  "They're due back in two days."

"They can use the transport ring," Daniel said.

"They won't be because they have to get her calmed down and helped first."  Daniel stiffened.  "You need to talk to someone.  Tomorrow."  He stared at him.  "You can't keep doing this, Daniel.  She could've died running away."

"She's too dependent on Xander," he said, standing up.

"Well, yeah, he still has custody of her," John said firmly.  "And if you don't straighten up, he can fight to keep custody of her and take the other two."  Daniel stared at him in horror.  John stared back.  "You need to get your head on straight and start accepting some things.  Your daughter, she's got brains.  She's not your mother or your sisters.  I was a hardass on my boys but you've gotten worse than I ever was on her recently.  Olivia's a sensitive little girl.  That custody hearing would kill her."  Daniel sat down again, slumping again.  "Not to mention the other two." 

John stared at him.  "I don't know what this is, but meditate to get it out, go spirit walk to your wife, whatever.  Just get it out of you before she ends up dead some day soon running away as you figure things out."  Daniel stomped off.  John sighed and checked on the other two.  Shannon was awake and he had no illusions she hadn't heard.  "Your sister is with Uncle Xander," he said quietly.  "She's all right.  Just has a headache."  She smiled and relaxed, letting him tuck her back in and hand her the teddybear she had dropped in her sleep.  Brad was snoring and John tucked him in again.  Then he went to have a beer.  He'd be supporting Xander in whatever he decided unless it was giving her to Daniel when she clearly needed a gentler hand that didn't have problems.

He could imagine what would happen if she did that again and someone less nice than the half demon found her.


Xander and Peter stopped with Olivia at their lawyer's office.  They set up what they needed for the custody hearing in a few weeks.  The lawyer needed to talk to Olivia as well.  Then they went home to find Dean pacing with the phone to his ear.  "Us?" he asked as they came off the elevator.

"Dad.  No one can find Daniel," he mouthed.  "Xander's back with her and Peter, Dad."  He hung up.  "He's looking."

"Sam, can you spirit walk?" Peter asked.  He nodded, going to try that.

Olivia looked around.  "Did Daddy run away?"

"We're not sure where he is," Dean said, picking her up to hold.  "You're in such deep shit when Dad sees you."

"I was scared," she said.  She gave him the big-eyed pouty look.  "I'm sorry I worried you too, Uncle Dean."  She hugged him.

"I'm just glad you're all right," he said, cuddling her back.

"She's still grounded for a month," Xander said.  "And yeah, we spanked the next day when she could see straight.  Then we had a *long* talk."

"Good!  Dad wanted to spank you so hard the night you did that it wasn't funny."  She slumped but cuddled harder.  He looked at Xander.  "We have no idea," he mouthed.  "He wasn't here when we got up."

Xander nodded, going to the office.  "Let me check my email," he called.  "I'll be right back."  He also sent an email to someone on the Demon Council.  Who sent back that Daniel had been to see them.  He was still there in a meditative trance in their clinic.  He printed it and held it up for Dean to see.  Dean texted John one handed while Peter fussed at things.  Xander took Olivia and sat her on the couch, sitting in front of her on the coffee table.  "Your daddy needed to talk to your mommy so he's meditating in the Council's building."

She stared.  "Then why isn't he here?"

"It's a long-term meditation.  He's okay, they have him on IV's and stuff, but he's ... it's like being a ghosty ghost but he's still alive.  He went to help your mommy deliver your newest sibling."

"Because I made him mad?" she asked quietly.

"No."  She looked at him.  "No, it wasn't anything you did or you running away.  They think Willow called because she needed more help than your Auntie Buffy could give during the delivery but she has bad timing."  She went less stiff and nodded.  "So for the next little while, he'll be meditating there.  It's like he's napping really hard but he's alive and okay.  He just won't wake up until he's ready to."

"Okay," she said quietly.  John came off the elevator and she ran over to hug him.  "I'm sorry I upset you, Grandpa.  I didn't mean to!  I just needed Uncle because Daddy was being mean and I needed him or Mommy but she's still stuck.  He's the next best thing to a Mommy."

"Yes he is."  He took her to the office to talk to her.  He heard Xander go up to the pool area to swear at Daniel where she couldn't hear.

Sam came in and sat down next to Olivia.  "Your daddy is just fine.  I went spirit walking like they used to when they visited to check on you.  He's over there cooing at his new baby boy.  So you have a new brother."

"He'll be back soon?"

"I do not know."  She slumped but nodded.  "But he said he's sorry he worried you."

She nodded.  "Mommy needed him more than we do because we have Uncle Xander and all of you guys plus Uncle Peter."

"Yes you do," John said.  "Though he's going to get spanked for doing that then."  She giggled.  "I can paddle him, he deserves it for the bad timing, the same as you still need one for running away."

"Uncle Xander spanked me and then we had a huge talk.  It was so long Uncle Peter had to cook all of yesterday."

"Good!  You're still getting one from me too!"  She nodded, looking miserable.  "You never have to run away, Olivia.  You could have come talked to me.  You could have snuck away and talked to Tara, and only gotten the one spanking, but you could have."  She nodded, looking down.  "You can talk to any of us.  You knew that.  That was very dangerous.  You could've been very badly hurt.  You could've gotten lost."  She sniffled, starting to cry.  He picked her up to hold.  "I'm mad that you did it but not at you," he said, patting her on the back.  "We'll work this out."  She nodded against his neck.  "Needless to say, you're so very grounded on top of the spanking I'm going to give you later."

Peter leaned in.  "Xander has."

"She's getting another one for doing that."

"Fine.  Let me go make Xander help me with dinner."  He left them to talk to her.  She hadn't cried with them but she was sobbing on John's shoulder.  "He made her cry."

"I hate to say it but good.  It means she won't do it again," Xander said quietly.

"Sam said he is with Willow."

"I heard."  He looked at him.  "Can we handle three kids?" he asked quietly.

Peter nodded.  "We can.  Your muses are handling it all right and so are mine."  Xander relaxed and grinned, hugging him.  "Plus we have help.  Even if you and John will have to work out which is the real daddy."

"I'm glad to have the help," Xander admitted.  "I was so lost with her when I first got her.  He was a great lifeline, him and Rick."  He cuddled in to get warm again.  "Can I beat the shit out of him?" he whispered.

"I will help hold him for you."  Xander smiled and took a kiss.  "We should go in before you turn into snowman.  I would not like being married to Frosty as much.  Not as warm hearted as you are."  Xander grinned and let Peter take him back inside.

Brad looked up from his coloring.  "Daddy?" he asked.

"Talking with your Mommy," Xander said.

"Why?" Shannon asked.

Xander smiled.  "She was about to have a baby brother."

She squealed and hugged Brad.  "New baby brother!"  He beamed and cuddled back.  "'Liv!"  She came out.  "New baby brother!"

"I heard.  That's a great thing," she agreed, cuddling them both.  "We'll be here and with Auntie Tara until Daddy gets back."  They nodded and went back to coloring.  She looked at her uncles.

Xander waved her over, picking her up to look in her eyes.  "You never have to pretend to be the mommy or that adult for anyone.  You're a big sister, not the mommy," he said quietly. "It's my job to do all the mommy and daddy stuff."

"Daddy needed help."

"I don't."

She smiled.  "I know."

"So be a little girl again and let me handle things with the rest of us."  She nodded and wiggled so he put her down.  She went to get her painting things out and settled in to paint for a bit.  Peter helped her learn how to paint on paper, which she enjoyed a lot.  It let her spread colors on things and change them.  The little paintable mushroom got put aside to dry.  She'd probably want him to cover it so she could repaint it later.  The all over brown color wasn't exactly her cheerful color of the week.  Xander got to work on dinner.

John came out of the study with Sam.  "We good?"

"Yup."  He looked at him.  John shrugged back.  "John, we could probably use some more art supplies?" he asked quietly.

"Sure, kid.  Water color paper?" he asked, looking at what they were doing.  "More clay?"  Xander nodded.  "I can do that."  Sam went to do it for him. " Or he can I guess."  He came over to help with dinner.  Peter was unpacking since Olivia knew how to paint now.  "When she's older, you should have her taught traditional calligraphy."

Xander smiled.  "She might like that."  She looked over.  "The fancy letters and things on the first page of old books."

"Ooh.  Those are pretty."  She got back to her painting.  "How do I draw a horse with a brush?"  John came over to help her.  "Thank you, Grandpa."

"Welcome, Olivia."  He sat down to help Brad play with his playdough animal blobs.  He was trying to make them make animal noises.  John helped him and taught him their proper names at the same time.  He kept calling lions fluffy kitties.

Shannon smiled.  She was doing okay and Grandpa liked all her new animals.  It was great.


Xander walked into their behavioral therapist's office first.  "Two quick notes."  She smiled.  "Daniel is off out of his body visiting Willow."  She groaned and shook her head.  "Right after Olivia tried to pop where we were because he had told her to quit reading so much."  She muttered something.  "We've worked all that out.  Second note, I've gotten the kids into some art stuff.  I had them bring in their favorite things."

"That'll help a lot," she agreed with a smile.  "Are they okay emotionally?"


"Is Olivia here?"

"She's visiting with your coworker today."

"Good idea," she agreed, smiling at him.  "Timeline?"

"No clue."

"Okay, I can handle that."  He smiled and went to get Brad and Shannon for her.  Their clay animals came in very handy to help them today and she had more clay there so they could work on hand-eye coordination and things like that.

Xander walked Olivia into the other therapist's office.  "Olivia Rosenburg?"

"Why don't I have Daddy's name?" Olivia asked.

"Your mommy won that argument."

"Oh."  She smiled at the therapist, who her uncle had told her was a new doctor who didn't give shots.  "He said I'm supposed to talk with you."

"I've talked with your father a few times as well," she said with a smile.  She and Xander sat on her couch.  "What did you do today, Olivia?"

"I painted."  She pulled out the stuff that had been dried to show her.  "Uncle Xander and Uncle Peter got me art stuff and Uncle Peter taught me how to paint on paper."

"That's wonderful."  She smiled at Xander.  "Very good for self-expression."

"That's what I was thinking.  Brad and Shannon both have other stuff like she does but only she has paint."

"That's fine.  They're not really able to paint yet from what I understand.  That would take some better fine motor control."

"And a lot more plastic on the floor," he agreed with a grin.

"That as well."  She got Olivia talking about her week.  She winced when she heard the running away thing and talked to her about that.  She looked at Xander when Olivia said she had been spanked.

"That was a huge thing.  Only huge, dangerous things get a spanking," Xander said quietly but firmly.  "Teleporting most of the way to Michigan.... that's fairly dangerous."

"Yes I suppose it would be," she agreed. "How do you usually get punished, Olivia?"

"Punitive naps.  Standing in corner.  Or meanly grounded without library books."  She looked at her uncle then at her new doctor.  "But I get them back later on."

"That's always a good thing and very wise of your uncle."  Xander beamed.  "Raising scale?"

"Yes, if I take that right.  The worse things get the worse punishment.  The very worst things get them combined."

"Good.  That's reasonable."  She went back to talking to her about the running away and why she had done it.  What her father had said and done to make her that upset.  Xander got up to 'get some water' and she asked her more delicate questions since she had been looking at her uncle before answering.  "Olivia, I know you have special gifts, sweetheart.  You don't have to hide that from me."  Olivia relaxed and told her more about all that.  Since she seemed to be a bit squirmy, she pulled out some crayons and a coloring book to help them talk.  Olivia chatted while coloring and it was easier.  Though she was aggressively crossing out some faces of females.  "Are you mad at someone?"

She pouted a bit.  "Alexis is going off to college soon and I won't get to see her all that often.  That'll suck."

"You'll still get to see her at holidays and over the summer."


"And she needs to go to college so she can find out what she wants to be when she's an adult.  That way she can have a career and start her own family some day.  Then you can help her buy the pretty dress when she finds a boy."

She considered it.  "You have to go to college to get a pretty dress?"

"Well, no.  Weddings are usually after you've gotten a career, a job, though."

"Oh.  So she's going to college to get a job?"  She nodded.  "That makes more sense, even if her daddy is pouting."  She looked at the door then at her.  "It would make Daddy sad if he heard me call Uncle Xander Daddy," she whispered.

"It would, yes, but I think they'd both understand eventually."  She patted her on the head.   Olivia got up to look in her mirror to unfuss her hair.  She smiled.  "You look just fine, dear."

"Good.  I hate being unpretty."  She came back and sat down again to go back to her coloring.  "I don't hate Daddy and I heard Uncle Peter say that he was worried I would.  I know that Mommy needs him for baby brother."  She looked up.  "Is that why you're my new doctor?"

"Part of it.  What I do is help you talk things out so it doesn't hurt you as much.  Things that make you sad or cry, like him visiting with your Mother, can make kids very upset."

Olivia nodded.  "I was crying."

"Which is a normal reaction.  My job is to let you talk about that so you work through it for yourself and it helps make you less sad and angry."

She stared at her.  "Do you like to shop?"

She smiled.  "Sometimes.  I don't get a whole lot of chance for it because there's too many people in the stores right now.  I go afterwards when there's sales."

"That's good.  I haven't shopped in weeks."  She shrugged and grimaced then went back to coloring.  "Uncle Xander said the same thing.  I explained Santa to my siblings."

"That's very good, Olivia.  Did they understand?"  She smiled and nodded.  "Wonderful!  Has your Uncles taken you to see any of the lights?"

"It's been very chilly and we don't like cold.  But I guess you could ask him."

"I'll do that. There's ways of going that don't make you as cold."  She smiled and nodded, going back to her coloring of princesses.  Though she was still crossing their faces out.  Her alarm went off, making Olivia jump.  "Relax, that's just my timer.  That tells me when it's been an hour so you guys can go pick up your siblings and then go home."

"Do I have to get shots next time?"

She smiled.  "I never give shots.  That's why being my sort of doctor is really neat."  Olivia hugged her.  "Go next door to get your brother and sister?"  She got up and ran out.  Xander walked in and watched her go then looked at her.  "She's pissed off," she said quietly.

"I know.  I figure there's some at Daniel, some at Willow, maybe a bit at me for helping get him back," he said quietly.

She shrugged. "Some at whoever Alexis is for going to college."

"Rick Castle's daughter.  She's been her favorite babysitter."

"That's good.  I explained that college meant she could find a really good job and then have a good wedding."

Xander smiled.  "She's all about the books and the pretty."  She came running back and pounced him.  "Hi, sprout.  So, do you want to keep talking to this nice doctor?"

She smiled and nodded. "Please?"

"That's wonderful.  I'll try to arrange my schedule so I see you when they're seeing my coworker across the hall."  Olivia smiled and nodded, looking up at her uncle, who picked her up to cuddle.  "It'll be okay.  A lot of this is very normal stress, Mr. Harris."

"I hope so.  Thanks, Doc."  He walked out to get the other two, letting Olivia walk when she wiggled down so Brad could be carried.  He was smaller and tired, he was yawning.  The girls gave him a pretty honor guard down to the car and it was better.  She made her notes and sealed the file.  She went to talk to her coworker about Shannon and Brad.  Olivia had been worried about their progress.


Xander looked over as Faith dropped down next to him at the table.  They were at the bar George worked at to talk to him.  "What's up?" he asked.

"Why doesn't Olivia dance?  Someone said that they thought she should be, most kids did."

"She does at home.  She either does twirly dancing or she booty pops like her Aunt Buffy used to."

Faith shook her head.  "No wonder!"

"Yeah.  In public she'll twirly dance because we told her that booty popping was only for at home."  He sipped his drink.  "Any other good news?"

"Someone at the library wanted Tara to put her in pageants."

"Hell no," he snorted.

"That's what she said."  George, Daniel's cousin, came out of the back and sat down with them.  "I checked on him, he's still down and they said it's going to probably be weeks," Faith told him.

"He went spirit walking to talk to Willow," Xander said.

"Damn it," George muttered.

"Right after Olivia ran away," Xander said more quietly.  George stared at him.  "He told her he wanted her to read less, be less pretty, and go play outside more.  It upset her a lot that he hated her reading."

"Damn it," he complained louder.

"Yeah, basically," Xander sighed.  "So she's visiting the very nice therapist that works in the same office as the PT doing the other two.  Daniel started to see her as well."

"I can help with that," he offered.

"Gladly.  She had her first appointment earlier.  They got on really well.  Oh, and the kids are now into art to help them."  He grinned.  "Olivia can paint now.  They all have crayons and clay stuff too."

"That's good.  Art is for when you're moody like," George agreed.  Faith grinned at him for that.  "She's good though?"

"Grounded for a month for nearly making it to the cabin."

"Grayhound?" he asked hopefully.


"Fuck," George complained.  "She good?"

"Now.  We've all had a talk with her about it.  She now understands that if she's that upset and needs to run away to get away from something that's hurting her that badly, she is to find a phone, call one of the uncles or aunties, and talk to them.  That includes you.  I have a little prepaid phone that was mine before that I put some tiny minutes on and put all the family's phone numbers in.  It's hidden in her closet and she knows where.  That way she has to move furniture to get it and that means she has to want to get it and get away.  But it gives her a way to call all of the rest of the family.  I put both numbers in for you.  Yours for work says before ten at night, and your home is after ten and until noon.  That way she knows which one is which."

"That'll work," George agreed, smiling at him.  "Any idea on the two younger one's birthdays?"

"I converted them.  Brad was born in January and Shannon in April."

"Good.  We can work on that."  He relaxed.  "She's fine though, right?"

"She's fine.  She's a bit pissed off, confused, and pouty about Daniel and Willow and all that.  Plus Alexis is going to college soon too."  He nodded he had heard that.  "It's confusing and it gives her someone neutral to talk to.  John and I are kinda using a bit different of parenting styles.  We worked that out between us about when to be harsher and use his style.  We both spanked Olivia for that teleporting trick."

"What about the custody hearing?"

"I have no clue," Xander admitted.  "I was going to push to give it another four months to give Daniel more adjusting time.  Because he needed it."  He sipped his drink.  "Olivia turned into the mommy to help him."

"I saw," George admitted.  "I talked to her about it.  She said her daddy needed help and I could agree with that."

"I did too but I reminded her I had Uncle Peter so we didn't need it as much and told her to quit doing that."

"Good."  He grinned.  "I'm still welcome visitation?"

"Yeah.  I'm told Daniel still has family that didn't lose their minds."

"Few," George agreed with a smile.  "I'll be over Sunday afternoon."

"Sunday we're going to Peter's sister's house for dinner."


"That'll probably work."  George got up and went back to the kitchen.  Xander looked at Faith.  "Kinella?"

"She's been hanging out with Peter's priestly nephew to help him learn the exorcisms and stuff since Father Morgan's only other helper in town just retired."

"I didn't know there was another one."

"Apparently he was office-bound because he was so old.  So they're helping him learn in case he needs to."

"That's cool, as long as he wants to."  He finished his drink.  "Coming to play with them?"

"Sure."  She got up and he followed, paying for the coffee and putting down a tip to cover George's dinner on the way out.  "Did you hear they arrested a whole bunch of Treasury agents?"

"Yup," he said with a grin.  "They were trying a world take over bid."  She moaned and shook her head.  "Oh, yeah."  They walked past someone and Xander grabbed him by his collar to walk him off.  "Hi, Whistler."

"Xander.  Can I be let go of?"

"I figured you were going to bump into us anyway."

"I was."  They walked into an alley and let him go.  He stared at Faith.  "The Powers want to give you a choice of postings.  Neither great."

"Figures since you only show up with sucky choices.  Not here?" she asked.

"Here or LA.  LA's got a major thing coming."

"Kinella gets on killer with Connor and likes to flirt with him," she said.  "Will it kill her?  Or them?"

"Bad things but huge things.  Next year we'll have one that'll take all hands."  He looked at Xander.

"It's on the vision website."

"I saw.  Thank you."  Faith was staring at him.  "They tried to use him two too many times, Lehane.  He put them up as a way to record them."

"Huh.  Should we tell General Jack?"

"Interestingly enough, it'll be his problem that'll kick off hers."  He smirked.

"I saw Atlantis coming home and the battle she'd fight," Xander said.  "Anything on Tara's baby and if he or she is possessed since she was for a bit?"

Whistler tipped his head to the side.  "Why would I?"

"They provided a balance according to what I foresaw.  Sam got it too.  Two witches to make sure that one wouldn't overbalance like her mother did."

"Oh, that.  Yeah, he was.  They're both a bit in the center."

"I try," Xander said.  "But I can tell her that about my next minion of spoiled."  He grinned.  "That way we can do that in the hospital right afterwards."

"That's not a bad question," Whistler decided after glancing up.  "Yeah, you might have to."

Xander nodded, tapping out a text message to Tara.  She'd arrange it.  "Okay."  He looked at him.  "The all-hands in LA, she'll be here for because she'll be a few weeks post birth probably.  She can watch the kids.  Or George or someone can if we have to."

"That's good planning.  It'll be a sudden uprising."

"No, it's being plotted.  Someone on that side got it too.  Sam's showed that one of them knew when it was coming back and about the wraith attacking."  Whistler shuddered.  "So we'll handle it.  You need Kinella or Faith out there now?"

"Yes.  Though, as Guardian, you're supposed to stay out of things, kid."

"I'm doing a job that protects humanity.  Being in the bigger battles does the same thing."

"True," he decided.  "Very true.  And it'll probably be an all-hands.  Which you're now restricted to."

"Sure.  Peter would like that."  He grinned.

"Even better," he sighed, looking at Faith.  "One of you gets the sucky job, slayer."

"Actually, LA is a lot more fun sometimes and you can surf," Faith said with a grin.  "That's not really the sucky job.  There's no snow there.  Even if there are more demons."

"Fine, whatever.  Just choose.  Today.  Get out there by next week when someone will attack the team."  He disappeared.

"Tell Cordy we said hi," Xander called.  He looked at her.  She called Kinella and they went back to walking home.  It was nice they were playing nice this week.


Xander was resting on his back when the phone rang.  He grabbed it from the lounger.  It was a pretty day today and they were calling for snow for the next week.  "Harris."  He listened.  "Hi, General Jack.  Yup, that one.  Yup, then.  Wraith are going to attack.  Someone's going to decide it's a great time.  They already know when the wraith will attack so they have it planned.  Kinella.  She likes to flirt with Connor and hates snow more than Faith does.  That'll be fine.  Talk with Fred and them.  No, I'm only one for the most major of major now.  So of course I'll be there.  Yup, you can bum.  Works for me.  Thanks, General."  He hung up.  "John, Sam, Peter?" he called.  They came out.  "By the new treaty for the warehouse, we're only allowed at the 'protecting humanity from the worst things' battles."  They all nodded.  "Which includes the thing in LA, Sam.  General Jack got told."

"Good!"  He pulled out his laptop to get into that vision so they could see it.  "It's looking like next spring."

"It does," John agreed.  He sent that address to someone via text.  "We sure?"  Xander nodded.  Sam nodded.  "So unless they decide it's too much work...."

"Then we'll only have to worry about anything that came back on Atlantis when she lands," Xander quipped with a grin.  "Including John and Rodney."

"He-Who-Eats-And-Bitches will be fine," Peter assured him.  Xander grinned at him.  "You need more normal friends."

"Probably true."  He smiled at John.  "So, I'm only allowed at the hugest of the huge.  That leaves someone like Dean at the less huge."

"Dean'd be there anyway and there's a few younger hunters moving up to do that duty," John said.

"A few aren't bad, but most of them need a lot of fight training," Sam said.  "We've suggested Dad do some of that."

"Connor probably could."

"Probably," John agreed.  "They're mostly on the west coast and I can suggest that and them hooking up to help Kinella so she can train them on the job too."  He sent that as well.  "When's the next one on this coast?"

"Next Christmas."

John moaned, shaking his head.  "Demon?"

"Very high, very old, very powerful, wanting to come back into power.  They're going to make a showy entrance to get their worshipers back," Sam said dryly.  "In the middle of a church during a Christmas mass."

"Have you told Father Morgan?" John asked.

"Yup.  He swore and pulled out his rosary.  We told him he had a year."  Sam grinned.  "He said thank you and next year could we get him some really good scotch bourbon for the holidays?"

"I did this year," Xander admitted with a grin.  "And a new short sword."  Peter grinned.

"I saw that," John said with a nod and a smile of his own.  "Very pretty with the crucifix carving and all that.  Nice strong blade too.  I got him a few new books on types of demons."

"I got him a new journal," Peter said.  "So his rantings can warn later priests who want to do the same job."

"Dean and I got him a sharpening set and some leather cleaning stuff," Sam said.  "Olivia got him a bookstore card and signed the other two's name on it.  Are we taking Brad and Shannon holiday present shopping for anyone?"

"Yes.  They each have two hundred bucks and they have a short list if they want to buy for them," Xander said.  "It's in my office, in the desk, on the right hand side."  Sam grinned.  "Olivia has asked if we could go see the light displays.  Her therapist suggested it."

"We can do that and make sure that they stay warm," John said.  "There's plenty of Starbucks to get cocoa at in this city."

"That's what I was thinking and we could finish up the shopping at the same time," Xander said.  "It'd be a hugely long day and we'd have to take the stroller, but it'd get them a long day out of the house while the cats get flea dipped by the vets.  Since we've suddenly got some somehow."

"I treated the couch," John said.  "We can do that."  He looked at Sam, who texted Dean.  The kids loved him more than Sam because he played more.  He nodded.  "When?"

"Wednesday?  Their therapists are all closed that day," Xander said.  "Also, we have to decide very shortly about if we're going to try to see the Parade."  John winced. "Yeah, that'll be a getting up real early, taking seats, stuff to keep them occupied while we wait, food and stuff.  That's going to take some planning and it's two weeks until thanksgiving.  So we need to plan that and what we're doing for the meal."

"I can invite the boys and their mother over," Peter offered.

Xander nodded, looking at John, who nodded back.  "Sam?"

"I was planning on a hotel buffet so I didn't have to cook.  Dean doesn't want to cook.  Dad hardly ever cooks."  John swatted him.  "The new apartment really isn't big enough for any celebrating."

"Manhattan apartments are very tiny," Xander agreed.  Brad came wandering out with a soda.  Xander opened it and let him drink, earning a grin.  "Good boy."  He beamed and went back inside to hide under the couch throw and get warm again.  "So we're holding it here?"  They all nodded.  "Okay, Peter, you, me, and Tara need to work up a menu then."

"I can do that.  Plus call others to see who might need a dinner."  He went inside to start on that.  Starting with his sister and nephews.

Xander looked at them.  "We have already told Olivia we are not going out Black Friday because half the city will be in the stores.  She shuddered because she agreed there were too many people already.  John, we're multi-ethnic for the holidays."

"I figured you were."

"Including starting going to Nicholas's church on the sixth."

"Good."  He smiled.  "We can work on that."

"If we're decorating here, you work on getting us a tree, the lights, tinsel.  I'm letting the kids pick out the ornaments and we'll get a few special ones between us."  They all nodded.  "Sam, you're helping me grocery shop for the dinners.  Tara will want a Yule dinner.  Christmas dinner can be that one for the family group if we want.  Tara also said she was going to volunteer during one of those and take Olivia with her.  She'd take Shannon but Shannon will wander off."

"True," John agreed.  "That day we can distract the other two so they can do other good things, like maybe go read at the library or something."

Sam nodded.  "The college is having a volunteering faire soon and I'll pop by to get ideas."

"Cool."  Peter headed for the elevator.  "I think someone knocked."  He looked at them.  "Presents?  Christmas Eve?  Morning?"

"Santa's many stories have been told," Sam reminded him with a smile.

"Okay, so one notably from relatives then the Santa delivery system when they're in bed."  They all nodded.  "Am I getting anything huge?  I haven't really bought for the kids because of the custody hearing," he said more quietly.

"They're not big enough for bikes," Sam said.  He looked at John.

"Olivia's new dresser and bookcase," John said.  "Dean found her those from all three of us.  Rick?"

"I think Halloween's more his thing," he admitted. "I'm pretty sure he's still moping over Alexis starting college.  Olivia is.  She's still crossing out female faces anytime she colors."

"Willow?" John asked quietly.  Xander nodded.  "Okay.  We can handle that.  We can move the kids up to the more age-group needed games."

"I thought about a Light Bright system but Brad's still putting everything in his mouth.  Yesterday I caught him sucking on Homer's tail."

Sam snickered.  "Dean's kitty wife's tail too."

"Inclusive presents but a few for each individual kid," John decided.

"I almost thought about putting up a play room on top," Xander sighed.

"They can clean up and the living room is huge, Xander," John ordered.  "Even if you do have to have another book event soon."  Xander nodded he would.  "Before the holidays?"

"Early December.  We're doing the final planning next week.  We'll be draping the lounges out here with stuff to keep the portable heater's warmth in."  They both nodded at that.  "Which means we'll need a sitter."

"We might be able to do that," Sam agreed.  "Or Tara."

"Her doctor's worried that she's had a lot of mood swings," Xander said.  "And that some crackhead in Illinois popped up with a supposed prophecy about her child going dark if it didn't have a sibling very quickly.  But he or she will be Olivia's balance.  And that one's still possessed too."

"We can do that after the delivery," John assured him.  "She's already talked to us."  Xander grinned.  "Is Olivia going to be jealous?"

"No.  She's like a new sibling.  Of course it'll take some of her attention but she'll get to fuss over it and help the mommy and all that."

"Good."  John grinned.  "We can plan things.  Just relax and let it go.  How are you going to decorate for the book thing?"

"I have to decorate?"

"We'll figure that out," he decided.  They went inside to get warm again and John sat down with Peter to work on lists of what was needed and if they were going to the parade.  Peter had called George to get his input for things.  He was getting them all gift cards for some clothes.  It was an easy gift for the kids.


Xander brought muffins to the station on a day that the scanner said they weren't busy.   He handed them over as he pulled a chair over to Beckett's desk.  "I realized last night we hadn't told you guys about the Olivia emergency plan."

"Why does she have one?" Esposito asked, taking a muffin and passing the box on.  Xander told them about the running away night and even Rick hissed at that.  "That's a good reason," he agreed.

"What we have worked out is that high in her closet, so she has to push a chair over or magic it down, is my old cellphone. The prepaid one.  I put minutes on it.  I put in *everyone's* number so if she feels she has to run away, she can call.  If you guys can't or won't deal with more than talking to her, call Tara or Faith or John and we'll pick her up if she's at the house."

"We haven't seen Daniel recently," Beckett said.

"He's meditating in the Council's building to go visit Willow."  She winced.  "When we got back.  So Olivia also has a therapist."  He handed over her card to Beckett.  "In case it ever has to be handled."  She nodded, tucking it into her wallet.  "I don't expect you guys to jump up and come get her but call one of the closer family that would please?"

"Yeah, we can do that," Rick agreed.  "That's a sensible solution to that problem.  Is she okay?"

"She's pretty pissed off and a bit upset with Daniel, with Willow, with Alexis for going to college."  Rick nodded he understood that.  "Her therapist and I are thinking she's working through it all right but it's still a lot of stress on a three-year-old, even a brilliant one.  I never want her to have to feel that she's *got* to run away again.  Even if I would like to smack Daniel for his version of running away that he's doing."

"The custody hearing's in two weeks," Rick said.  "How can he hope to prove he's got a handle on it?"

"It's in two days.  The judge heard he was not really available and had it moved on him."

Rick winced.  "Does his lawyer know?"

"Yup.  So does ours. And what he's doing.  The same therapist had started to see Daniel before that night.  She's coming in to testify.  The preliminary order Daniel got when he got back said he was to have visitation.  I told the judge that they were all living with me, all he had to do was go downstairs and he approved of that.  Really, if I wanted to file for formal, permanent custody, I could right now.  Just with the way things have been going since he got back."

"I think that taking broke him a lot," Beckett said.

"I know, which is why I've been so helpful and letting him handle some things while guiding others, and mediating between him and Olivia.  John was mediating between me and him at times.  Daniel was being downright jackassical about Olivia not being like his sisters and liking dolls and flowers.  Olivia was fighting hard to not let Daniel have the other two and leave her with me.  Now that's coming back out too.  By the way, we've gotten Olivia and her siblings into art.  Brad loves clay and crayons are okay to him.  Shannon likes crayons and animals are cool but clay isn't squishy enough, she likes mud.  We'll get her into pottery when she's older.

"Olivia likes clay and crayons sometimes but we've let her know she can be pissed off and paint.  They have their own little corner, and yes I know I'll need to put it up for the upcoming book event, Rick."  He grinned.  "Right now, we're making battle plans for Thanksgiving, the Yule dinner, Christmas morning, and all the events we're taking the kids to.  Also, if anyone wants to volunteer, the kids are going holiday shopping tomorrow afternoon.  They're going to do their shopping for their siblings, the rest of Olivia's list, and then we're going to get dinner and cocoa to walk around and look at lights."

"It's supposed to be pretty warm tomorrow night," Beckett said.  She smiled. "I'm eating with my father, Xander."

"That's cool.  Whoever doesn't have a spot, come on over. Peter's family and all the Winchesters are coming plus Faith.  Kinella's out in LA working on their upcoming spring problems.  Also, due to the treaty over the warehouses being remade, Peter and I are only supposed to handle 'oh shit, the world's ending' events."  He looked at Beckett.  "So things like that school, good."

"Everything else call John and Dean," she agreed with a smile.

"Yup, because we're supposed to be neutral entities but that plan that got all those agents arrested for trying to overthrow the government started with us."  He grinned.  She moaned.  "Philips called me the next morning and threw a swearing fit about how many they had to arrest.  I cheerfully chirped back that he was welcome and it meant a lot of people could move up in the ranks of minions.  And that he had woken me up at a good time for morning sex."  He grinned.

She batted him on the arm.  "It figures.  Like with the outing thing?"

"Yup, just like with the documentary only focusing on the hunters this time."

"Great," she moaned.  "I heard about a hundred had been arrested."

"Over a hundred-thirty agents from what I heard," Xander said.  "Lorne called up to complain to Peter that I had a new drool patrol going.  Peter told him why and he went to help arrest some himself.  Including two members of the retired spy golfing association," he finished dryly.

Beckett snickered, shaking her head.  "Wonderful."  He grinned.  "Hold on, spring in LA?"

"We'll be there.  Tara can babysit probably.  Oh, that crank in Illinois that has stupidly put out that he had a vision saying if Tara didn't have another one immediately that one would go bad is an idiot.  We can't find any known prophecy, he's not a known seer, nothing.  She's scared a bit though so we're not sure."

"Okay," Beckett agreed.  "We can be on the watch for that."

"She did want you to come cheerlead for her during it, mostly to keep her calm since they'd have to exorcize the baby once it was out," Xander offered.  "That's really a motherly job and she doesn't have one available but she sees you like a really close sorority sister at least."

"I've never seen a birth in person but sure I can try."

"Cool."  He glanced at the captain that was trying to listen in.  She still hated Xander and Rick helping her detectives.  "Yes, we're making plans in case Olivia decides she needs to run away again."

"She did?"

"Daniel and she got into it," he admitted.  He looked at Esposito.  "If your mom has any ideas, let me know?"

"Gladly.  She adores Olivia's twitter feed.  She hasn't put anything up recently."

"She's grounded for the running away.  I'll have Sam put up a notice saying she's grounded."  He grinned.  "Maybe it'll help some other parent.  Do you think I should ask Rodney to have him talk to her to see if we should be worrying about genius issues?" he asked Rick.

"She's very smart but I'm not sure how he'd do that."

"He is one and I figure one would realize another."

"He might, I'm not sure.  That might put extra pressure on her."

"Or give her an outlet because now and then she gets really frustrated at her siblings not liking the same things she does and not being able to do the same things."

"That's reasonable," he agreed.  "It can be frustrating sometimes."  He smiled.  "I'll see if Alexis wants to help you guys tomorrow."

"She might still be pouty at her.  She's been crossing out the face of every single female in her coloring books."

"I'll have her talk to her about it too.  It might help."  Xander beamed and nodded.  "Thanks for the lunch too."

"Welcome."  He got up.  "Let me know if you guys need help with stuff."  He left, going to write Rodney an email.  A very simple 'how would I know if Olivia was bordering on genius' email.  Geniuses probably had some sort of internal sensing ability for each other like Highlanders, right?


Rodney looked at his latest email and smiled.  "He thinks Olivia's a genius?"

"She's reading at three.  She's always a smart little girl," John said.  "Xander complained that she was hiding what she could do when he got her because Willow wanted her to be younger again."

"There's a few good indications that she's at the very least extremely bright."  John showed him the other videos of Olivia that Xander had sent at his request.  Rodney snickered at a few and the 'I'm sorry I can't talk right now but I'm grounded' one that was new.  "She is very bright."

"Especially with two siblings that are having to catch up to their age level," John offered.  "Xander said she got frustrated when they didn't understand that there were different types of dogs on tv during a dog show.  Then again, he also said she's got a therapist because of the whole family thing going on that's killing her nerves."

"We'll be back soon and I'll see if I can figure out where she lands on the genius spectrum.  Though he was bragging that she likes her upcoming school."

"That's always a good sign.  I used mine often enough as a refuge from stress."  They shared a look.  "I doubt she'll need it the same way I did."

"Me either.  I wonder where Daniel is."

"No idea," Rodney admitted.  "It wasn't in my email from him."  They shared a look.  "We can visit once we're home."

"Sure."  They got back to work making sure they would make it home.  They really wanted to go home.


Xander was watching the news when he sighed and looked around.  "Olivia, did you do something?" he called.

"No, was Tara's mean auntie's people," she called.

"How do you know?"

"One called and said they would try to blame the baby," Peter said.  "I pointed out I was an adult who had answered the phone with her.  We did not let baby answer the phone by herself.  Then I called Beckett."  He smiled from where he was writing.

Xander leaned over to kiss him.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Book?"

"Damn."  He got his own laptop and got back to work.  The kids had an appointment in two hours but that was fine.  "What are you doing?" Xander called.

"Washing Barbie's hair with Shannon," she called back.

"Okay, that's fine.  Brad?"


"Sure."  They got back to their mundane jobs.  At least until there was a kitty scream and then a baby scream.  Then Peter barely beat Xander up the stairs because he was closer to them.  "What happened?" Xander ordered.  Brad was sobbing.  Shannon and Olivia were trying to comfort him.  "Did you guys try to give a cat a bath?"  Shannon nodded, pouting at him. 

"Peter, go get the kit please?" he asked.  He came in and squatted down in front of Brad.  "Let me see, little man.  Oh, you probably need some stitches."  Peter got the car keys instead and helped herd the girls toward the elevator.  Olivia didn't have time to change but she grabbed a shirt to put on in the elevator and shoes for her and her sister.  They got them into the car and Xander fussed over Brad for now.  It wasn't that long to the local ER.  The nurse gave them a horrified look. "He was upstairs trying to bathe the cat."

"I can see that.  We're not busy right now," she admitted, going to get a senior nurse.

"Peter, can you call them in as late to therapy or possibly off?"

"I can do so."  He did that then cuddled the girls to keep them out of trouble.  They all got brought back because there was only a few others in there and they had less detailed things.  Brad might need more than a few stitches.  "We were on the couch and they were bathing Barbies.  Then we heard a scream," he told the nurse.

"That kitty cat was downright mean not to want to be a Barbie," the nurse said, smiling at Brad.  "Let's blot some of those so we can see how deep they really are."

Xander pointed.  "That's going to need stitches."  She gave him a look.  "Post-battle wounds."

"Oh, okay."  She got the attending in and she agreed.  So Brad got some local and some stitches while his sisters tried to get in the way, while Peter was trying to hold them back.  Then they went to their PT and therapists.

Xander delivered the younger two to her.  "Bathing a cat."

"I can tell."  She hugged Brad then Shannon.  "Its all right.  We'll do little things today so he doesn't have to be in pain."  Shannon beamed at her and nodded.

Xander went to sit with Olivia.  "Whose idea was bathing the cat?" he asked her.

"His.  He grabbed the kitty wife and you know she's mean," Olivia told him.

"I know. And Dean needs to clip his kitty wife's claws too."  The therapist giggled.  "Seriously.  Brad has stitches."

"Ow, poor kid.  We don't close the bathroom?"

"Then how would I use it?" Olivia asked.

"Good point.  I never considered that."

"The kids roam everywhere upstairs except my room and the emergency exit to the pool area," Xander told her.  "Yesterday Shannon went up and down the elevators for *six hours* and giggled the whole time.  John used her to help bring up groceries."

"Sometimes it's the simple pleasures that do it for kids," she said.  Peter stepped in and hissed in Xander's ear.  "You can join us, Peter."

"Brad could use some cuddling and doesn't want me."

"I'll go cuddle him and you sit with Olivia?" he asked, looking at the baby.  Who beamed and nodded.  "Okay then."  He got up and went to sit with Brad and Shannon.

Peter sat down.  "He is not in nice mood."

"I wouldn't be either.  Stitchees must hurt," Olivia said.

"They can, yes," Peter agreed.  "I was hoping none of you would need some."

"They happen, like car accidents.  Missy said accidents happen when you don't expect them to, that's why they're accidents."

"Very true," Peter agreed.

"Who is Missy?" the therapist asked.

"She's her daycare room worker," Peter said with a smile.  "A member of Tara's coven."

"That's wonderful.  It seems like she has sense."  She got Olivia to come talk to her about things.  That was handy and when she asked why she was playing with dolls she said her sister liked them because their father had liked them to play with them.

Olivia looked at Peter.  "Should Shannon have my crossbow?"

"I think she is getting her own for holidays from Santa or Grandfather."

She beamed.  "That'd be really cool!  Then we could both play and shoot at Brad when he's being a butt."

"Do not call your brother names," Peter chided gently.  "He is younger and doing best he can."

"He's still a boy."

"True, as are your uncles."  He smirked.

"Yes, but you're a grownup boy.  I learned that when I tried to give Uncle Kevin boy toys to make him less nervous about his wedding."

"True, you did."  The therapist gave him an odd look so he waved a hand.  Olivia babbled about that.  Peter put in a few words and she was cackling that it was adorably helpful.  Olivia grinned at her and they got down to talking about Alexis because Olivia was still pouty about her.

Xander came back a half-hour later with Brad snuggled into him.  "He's too tired and sore to work today.  Shannon's showing her how she learned how to pounce this weekend."  He sat down beside Peter, letting Brad keep his lap.

Olivia looked over.  "We need tylenol."

"You're still a sister, not the mommy," Xander said gently.  "I know how to give him meds, 'Liv."

"I know."

"The nurse gave him some."

"Oh.  That's good then."  She turned back around.  "Is that normal?" she asked the therapist.

"Sometimes.  Especially when you try to be very helpful for one parent and the other doesn't need it as much.  Though, you're much too young to do more than hand over the bottle so an adult could give him medicine."

"You can't measure yet," Xander said when she pouted.  "It's not like measuring to cook."

"Oh.  I guess that makes sense since Mommies and Daddies should."  Xander nodded, smiling at her.  "Sometimes I want to fuss though."

"You can fuss over him tonight.  Make sure he's comfy, has his favorite stuffed animals, that you read to him later so he has a bedtime story."  She beamed and nodded.  "Before then though, there's no touching the medicines.  At all, Olivia.  Promise me."

"I promise."

"Thank you.  I don't want you to accidentally hurt him because you don't realize how tiny a baby measurement is."

"I won't."  She patted her baby brother.  "Come color with me?"  He shook his head and pouted.  She gave him a cuddle.  "You'll feel better tomorrow," she crooned, kissing him on the head.  "You're a good boy and we'll tell Uncle Dean to clip his kitty wife's nails."  She sat down and talked about the kitty wife because her talking doctor looked very confused.  On the way home, Uncle Xander stopped to get them peppermint candy ice cream and then let her call her Uncle Dean.  "Your kitty wife was really, really, *really* mean, Uncle Dean.  She scratched Brad a lot and baby brother had to go to ER."  She handed the phone over.  "He's swearing at kitty wife."

Xander took it.  "Brad tried to give her a bath, Dean.  Fourteen stitches.  Two deep claws, a few that have steristrips.  Yup, not a happy kitty wife by any means.  But she does need her nails clipped.  Wrap her in a shirt and do one paw at a time, Dean.  I need to do the others' anyway.  Thanks.  Yeah, we're in.  We're having ice cream soup for dinner with fruit soup.  Thanks, man."  He hung up.  "He'll come check on Brad later and clip her claws." 

They smiled and Peter got to work melting the ice cream while Xander blended the fruit for fruit soup. The kids all enjoyed it and it was great with them.  After that was a holiday special on DVD and then bath time.  Though Brad had to pout at his washcloth bath since it didn't have bubbles or toys.  Then Olivia read the bedtime story and they went to bed.  Dean came off the elevator and whistled.  He caught his kitty wife and took her to clip her claws on the porch, with a bit of swearing when she swatted him.


Sam looked up as someone beamed into Xander's living room.  "Everyone else is at work or at a meeting with Paula, General Jack.  I'll hellbeast sitting."

"That's fine."  He sat down.  "What happened to you, little guy?"

"He tried to bathe a cat."

"Ah!"  He nodded.  "I tried to help give our new flying monkey friend a bath.  Needed thirty stitches and they debated rabies shots."  Sam cackled, nodding.  "Though it's very happy with its new feeding grounds."

"Good.  What would I need to do to join your project to handle the demons that came running to us about you meeting their ancestors?"

Jack grimaced.  "Is that the blue people?"  Sam showed him the entry.  "Oh, them.  A PhD in something useable or military service in the Marines or Air Force, kid."


"Sorry."  He smiled at the people coming off the elevator.  "Hey, Faith."

"General J.  Hey, kiddies."  They smiled and waved then went back to their art.  "Wow, more powerful than Sesame Street."  Jack snickered, shaking his head.  "X said we're making plans today for LA?"

"That's what he told me," Jack agreed.  "I'm a bit early."

"Paula was a bit late," Sam said.  "She turned her ankle while yelling at a pickpocket."

"That's charming.  I can offer our flying, biting fish to help her."

"I think she needs a biting purse dog," Olivia said.

"Could help, yeah," Faith agreed.  She sat down.  Peter and Xander came off the elevator a few minutes later.  "Good news?"

"I have to decorate and throw a book party."  She winced.  "The tree can be fenced off though."  He looked at Jack.  "There's three plots.  Which one would you like to hear about?"

"All three?"

"Two are maybes," Sam said.  He got up to get them from the office.  "I still say this one's a cover."

"It is," Xander agreed.  "For one of their servant races.  They're going to go at it and then blame their 'masters' for making them.  They're a hive species."

"Good to know.  Anything on how to fight them?"  Sam pulled that up for him.  "I need you looking up research for us," he said.  "I can't find hardly anything and you find some pretty obscure places."  Sam grinned at that compliment.  They went over everything on them and it was ready to be planned.


Xander had enough.  He pushed the intercom button.  "House meeting."  He let it go and walked to the living room.  "I'm going to talk quietly because someone has Santa radar," he said quietly.  "I'm going to beat the shit out of anyone who destroys the kids' belief in Santa or anything that makes them happy over this holiday.  This is the first Christmas for two of them and Olivia was too worried last year to really get into it."  He looked around the gathered adults.  "Kids need a belief in Santa and other childish deities to have a later belief in anything."  He looked at Peter.  "I heard that Mickey ruined Nick's belief but the kids need it."

"You would beat me?" Peter asked, smiling slightly.

"That's what sparring is for."  He smirked back.

"True.  I will not discourage it.  I know you have worked hard to make holidays good for the children."

"And someone else tried to tell them that God was the only reason for the season.  Thankfully Olivia told her about Solstice.  Then I told her I'd beat her senseless if she ever told my niece that again."  He rubbed his forehead.

"My boys did fine without that," John complained.

Xander looked at them.  "No they didn't.  They still can't believe in anything now."  John glared.  He stared back.  "Can they?"

"They're not ones for faith."

"Or believing in anything else.  The magical thinking is good for their thinking processes and how they grow creatively.  Can we all agree with that?  Their hopes and dreams will be shattered soon enough by reality and school friends.  Olivia already had to learn about deputized Santas at the stores thanks to someone at daycare and I scowled them into running for their lives."

"The kids will be fine, kid," John assured him.  "Lots of kids don't believe in Santa.  They already know about the Goddess, all the church stuff, all that."

Xander stared at him.  "What did you do for Dean's second Christmas?  And his first one?"

"Mary went nuts," he admitted, looking at his sons, smiling slightly.  "Even his third one.  I got pushed out of the way and told to decorate the tree and keep Dean from eating it."

"Ours will have air blowers to keep the cats out again.  That's how we did it with the fake tree last year."  He rubbed his forehead again.  "Peter, do you have any special ornaments or anything you want on the tree?"

"We will pick things out together.  I do not usually decorate."

Xander grinned.  "I found some really pretty glass ones?"

"We'll see."  Xander nodded, sitting next to him.  Peter gave him the cuddle he wanted.  "Which one has Santa sensing radar?"

"Olivia taught the other kids about him.  Including all the specials on tv."  Peter moaned.  "They're usually about bedtime.  They can take the place of bedtime stories."

"We will endure," Peter assured him, kissing him on the head.  "Headache again?"


"Then you should sleep more," Dean quipped with a grin.

Xander stuck his tongue out.  "I've done nothing but sleep for two days."

Peter checked.  "Fever again."

"It's a cold.  I've taken medicine."  Peter smiled at that sensibleness.  "Okay.  Tree?  Anyone know any good lots?"  John nodded.  "It goes in that corner beside the office doorway," he said with a point.  "We can put a fence around it for the book event."  They all nodded at that.  "Mickey, did you want invited?"

"Hell no."

Xander smirked.  "We don't get a choice."

"I know."  He grinned.  "Have fun."

"I sat in corner most of my last one," Peter said.  "Until mental hookers showed up."  Xander snickered.

"I heard," Mickey said.

"Dude, they tried to get us too," Dean told him.  "Honestly, even I had to flinch away from the butt cheeks hanging out.  I nearly quoted Olivia about it."

Xander shook his head.  "For the book event, we have to do some decorating.  Maybe a few laying wreaths and candles?" he asked Peter.

"I know nothing about decorating."

"If we don't, Paula will."

"Ask Martha?" Peter suggested.

"Then we'll have frou-frou things.  I'd like more a winter solstice thing."

"We will see what we can do.  Catered?"

"Yup.  We'll be draping the porches with some fabric sheets and putting some heaters out there.  The pool is covered. The DJ usually sets up down here and the bar is up there.  Bar is minimal, music is quietish so you can talk over it.  We'll have to pick up the living room and put a babygate across the stairs, plus lock the sauna and the storage closet."

Peter nodded.  "That makes sense.  We can do that.  The art corner?"

"We can put a nice tent around it."  He grinned.  "Decorate the tent a bit with a few hanging ornaments."

"We can do that," Peter decided.

"That's easier than moving it all," John said.  "Presents?"

"One for each if you're not doing a group thing.  Santa is going to be weighed down when he climbs down from the pool."

They smiled and nodded.  "Do the kids play dressup?" Dean asked.

"Yes but Daniel hated that.  His son dressed up as a pretty princess and he nearly had a fit."

"I had to send him outside to swear," John said.  "Are you sure Daniel would like that?"

"I don't really think he'd win that argument since Willow believed in the tooth fairy until she was twelve."

John shook his head quickly.  "Are her parents around?"

"No clue," Xander admitted.  "No one saw them after they went to a conference about six weeks after they almost burned her at the stake.  Even if they were around, it's been all over the news that they're Willow's kids.  They haven't written."

"Are Daniel's family sending anything?" John asked.

"To George.  He can be a filter."

They all nodded.  "The parade?" Dean asked.

"On tv," Xander said.  "We'd have to get there the night before to wait out all night so we got a good spot."

"No, I don't want to see that happen," Sam said with a shudder.

"Who's going to the coven thing?" Dean asked.

"Whoever wants to go and can be respectful," Xander said.  "I'm going, I go every year."  He looked at Peter.

"I can go and be respectful.  The kids will raise hell."

"They always get to dance around the fire with the rest of us.  We'll have a picnic."

"I can go guard," Dean offered.

"Most of the time we're not bothered," Xander said.

"It'd still be safer," Dean said.

"Okay.  Talk to Tara and Gloria."

"We can do that," John agreed.  "Which church are we going to for Mass?"

"Father Morgan's?" Xander said, looking at Peter.  Who shrugged but nodded.

"Then Nick's church for the Orthodox one," Mickey said.  Xander nodded.  "No Kwanza celebration or anything?"

"I don't feel right busting into one unless we're invited.  That seems to be a cultural thing," Xander said.  "Like the Japanese embassy has a Japanese Santa thing every year and it seemed to be for the Japanese kids and not anyone else.  Olivia and I were really uncomfortable as the only white people in the room last year."

"I can agree with that," John said.  "There's enough traditions within the family group to confuse an adult."

"We have got to have her and Alexis talk," Xander said quietly.  "She's still really pissed off that Alexis is going to college."  They nodded and made notes about the upcoming schedules.  Peter had to change one of his interviews to later in the day but that was about usual.  Xander sent an updated copy to Paula so she'd know.  All the way into January so she didn't schedule any conflicts.  She sent back a note about decorating.  He sent back what they had decided and she could complain if she wanted.  Or they could rent somewhere instead.  She complained by yay.  He pointed out it was a home, not a showplace, and there were three children, two grown men, and occasionally three Winchesters living there.

Peter took the phone and tossed it in a free seat.  "She can complain later."  He kissed Xander on the forehead again.  "When are you due new medicine?"

"I'm fine.  Thank you."  He hugged him.  "He even helped me when I've been stuck for the last week."  Everyone grinned at Peter.  It was true love to deal with stuck muses.


Rick looked at his daughter.  "Have you and Olivia talked?"

"I tried, she pouted and stomped off."  She got some water and looked at him.  "I don't know what's wrong."

"She thinks you're abandoning her and doesn't understand that you'll be back."  He smiled at her.  "She'll get used to it but she's pouting."

"I'll go spend some time with the kids this week."  She gave him a hug around the neck.  "I'm not abandoning you either, Dad."  She walked off.

"I know you'll be back to get real food and laundry done," he said with a smile.  He went back to his proofreading.  His phone beeped so he looked at it.  Xander had sent a 'save me, they're fussing'.  He snickered and sent back a 'that's what a husband does'.  His phone went next to him.

Alexis came jogging down the stairs.  "Olivia just called to talk because she's sad about John not believing in Santa."  Rick held up his keys.  She kissed him on the cheek and hugged him around the throat.  "Thanks."  She headed over to talk to her.  Everyone stared when she came off the elevator.  "Olivia called."  Xander moaned.  "It's a kid thing, not a huge trauma this time."  She headed up the stairs.  Olivia opened her door when Alexis knocked.  "You need to talk?"  She walked in and took off her jacket, curling up next to the kiddy couch Olivia sat on.  "What's up?"

Olivia pouted and talked to her about the Santa thing. It was really late when she finished talking.  Alexis explained a few things. Olivia listened and shifted to hug her.  "I'll miss this."

"Silly, I'll be back all the time."  She smiled.  "It'll give you a new place to want to visit too.  College is *great*; it's like school only you don't have to listen to parents anymore."  Olivia cheered up as Alexis explained college to her.  She got up and went to get Xander's laptop, coming back looking up a movie.  She sat down with Olivia to watch _PCU_.  Olivia giggled at some of it even though a lot went over her head.  "College is like that only less smelly."

Olivia hugged her around the throat.   "Will you have boys like that?"

"Maybe."  She grinned.  Olivia beamed back.  "I think, and I'm pretty sure with all my years of experience with Santa, that if you don't believe in him he's still around."  She winked.  "Even the deputized ones."  She yawned.  Olivia yawned back.  "It's late."

Olivia nodded.  "It has very tiny numbers on the clock."

Alexis looked then smiled at her.  "We need to nap.  You have daycare tomorrow.  I have school.  We need to nap."

"You stay?"

"Sure, I'll stay."  She texted her father and curled up next to Olivia on the fuzzy, soft rug.  Alexis pulled down a blanket and Olivia's stuffed friend.  They cuddled up together and it was nice.  Olivia was nearly sweet enough to make her want one of her own.  In a few years, her father would freak out otherwise.


Olivia grimaced as she walked past Dean's bedroom.  "Light a match, dude," she called then giggled and ran down the stairs.

Xander looked at her.  "What did you two watch?"

"College boys!" she said, twirling around.

Xander considered it then went to get his laptop to see.  "Oh!  College boys."  He came back down the stairs.  "I agree, Dean needs to light a match."

"Can we get hair like that?"

He looked at her.  "No.  It wouldn't look as good on you.  You can get clip-in ones if we can find some."  She cheered and bounced around.  She looked at the computer and beamed the movie to the tv.  She danced around while it started.

Peter watched, sipping his college.  "College in Russia is more sedate," he said.

Xander looked at him.  "College in the US too," he mouthed.  He exchanged Peter's coffee for a kiss and a muffin, taking it to sip.

John, Dean, and Sam came down the stairs to see what that noise was.  John was stuck watching the movie with Olivia to keep her happy.

"Stanford was less wild," Sam quipped, going to start his own breakfast.

"Make more coffee please?" Peter asked.  "Mine seems to have changed into a tasty, soft muffin."

Sam cackled but made more coffee for Peter, Xander, and Dean.  John was still being forced to watch the movie with Olivia.  Sam walked over breakfast and then went back to make more food.

"It has a great soundtrack if you like funk," Xander said.

"The only funk I know is from my son's sneakers," John said.

Olivia poked him hard.  "Music good!"  She went back to watching the movie.

John looked at her then at Xander.  "Does she get to listen to a lot of music?"

"Yeah.  We listen to all sorts of music.  We can listen to Arkenstone later."

Olivia looked at him.  "Is that the special, Tara music?"


"Good."  She climbed on John so he had to hold her.  "Sister and brother?"

"Breakfast," Xander called.  The kids ran down the stairs to come eat.  "Olivia, eat."

"I am.  Grandpa's breakfast."

John nodded, staring at her head.  "You shared my breakfast very well," he agreed.

Dean turned to snicker into Sam's shoulder.  "You did the same thing for years," he said between laughs.

"When Mickey was baby, he used to try to share with women who were breastfeeding," Peter said.  "His mother was not amused.  Though he was an adorable child so the mothers were not mad."

"If I knew any single women I'd introduce him," Xander said.

"He's not interested in settling down or I would mine contacts myself," Peter said.  He got some more coffee and went to drink while checking his email.  Olivia shifted over to help him.  "I am talking to my people in the computer.  Watch your movie."  She smiled and climbed back over John's arm and into his lap.  Peter smiled.  "Have we told George about the schedule?"

"Not yet."  Xander did that without disturbing Olivia's movie binge.

"What that?" Shannon asked, eating while she watched.

"Alexis is going there," Olivia said with a smile.

"Alexis is going to *a* college," Xander corrected.  "This is a movie about a college.  Not quite the same thing."

She swatted at him.  "Good enough for mornings."  She scowled and went back to watching.  She pointed.  "Dean's bathroom needs matches," she told John, who cuddled her.

"Yes, sometimes he does."  They kept watching.  When the music came on, Olivia got up to dance with Shannon and Brad.

"After this, _Muppets from Space_," Xander called over the squealing.  "Similar music."  Olivia ran over to find it on the computer.  "It's on a disc, Olivia.  Not on the computer."  She ran over to find it and put it in so it'd be ready.  When this one ended, they were all giggling kids and the Muppets were good for them.

When John's suffering was finally done he turned the radio onto a Motown station.  The kids stared at the radio then shrugged and went back to dancing.  It was good dancing music.

"As long as it's not disco," Xander ordered.

"Not on my agenda anyway," John assured him.  Dean and Sam went to the gym, still laughing.  John corralled the kids for daycare.

"I want hair!" Olivia complained.

"You can ask Missy how to make them," Xander said.  She cheered and ran up to get dressed.  "Time to put on clothes," he said to help John.  They all ran up and bounced around their rooms until Olivia came in to pick their clothes.

John came down the stairs.  "They're scowling that I pulled out clothes."

"All family clothes are Olivia's job," Peter reminded him as he typed.  "Otherwise she pouts."

"Good point," John complained.  "She picked out my shirt this morning too.  Laid it out last night."

Xander grinned at him.   "She's good at it even if you will need an overshirt or a jacket today.  The kids trooped past them for kisses and hugs.  "Be good for Grandpa on the way to daycare."  They stared at John until he got the car keys from Peter.  Not like they'd all fit in his truck.


John walked the kids into the daycare.  "Traffic is a mess again today," he said in greeting.

"It usually is," the check-in girl said.  "Is Xander sick?"

"Slightly.  Today he's writing.  Why?"

"The director had a question about the kids."  She led him to her office.  "Ma'am, John Winchester."  She went back to her desk.

John walked in.  "Problems with what they've learned in therapy?"

"Slight question.  How did Brad get stitches?"

He grimaced.  "He tried to bathe one of the cats."  She shuddered.  "I'm told they were upstairs bathing Barbies and Brad decided the cat needed a new hairdo too.  The one that hangs on Dean like his wife clawed him a few times getting away from the water.  Then they went to the ER."

"That's good.  One of the other mothers saw it and worried about Xander."

"Is that the same one he said he'd beat if they told Olivia anything against Santa?"

"No, it's the one Olivia asked if she was working."  John smirked.  That woman had no sense or taste.  "Is Olivia going to preschool next year?"

"Her birthday means that she'll be starting school at six, not five."

"That's fine.  She's a brilliant young girl.  She taught a few of the others in her room a few new words since they were trying to read."  She smiled.  "How goes the therapy?"

"They're catching on pretty well.  Brad was running again this morning.  Shannon's starting to talk more and grunt less.  Brad's not quite talking but now and then you can catch him saying a few words.  Unfortunately he sounds like he's on South Park since one word's poop and the other's damn."  She giggled.  "Yeah, trying hard to break that one.  The potty training thing is still ongoing."

"I realize it's hard."

"Daniel said he was five."

"I think she'll get it within the next year."  She smiled.  "Thank you, Mr. Winchester."

"Welcome."  He went home to check over his weapons and see what hunts were going on locally.


Xander got up and went to answer the door when the doorbell rang.  "Yes?" he asked, looking at the woman standing there.  "If you're selling stuff, we have plenty of whatever it is."

"I'm with CPS, Mr. Harris."

"Why the fuck are you here?" he asked bluntly.  "I'm the greatest dad to the kids."

"We had a report that one was injured?"

"He was trying to give a cat a bath."

She grimaced.  "You have cats?"

"Yes.  He's usually very good with them but the girls were having him help wash doll hair."

"Oh.  May I come in?"

"I don't know," Xander admitted, staring at her.  "I've seen plenty of you when I was younger."  He smirked.

"This is informal about that call."  He let her inside and upstairs.  "The children aren't with you?"

"They go to daycare four days a week so I can work.  I'm an author and I can't exactly pay attention to what I'm writing when I have to nag the kids about not getting paint on the carpet and things."  He sat down.  Peter looked at him.  "Someone reported us to CPS for Brad having stitches."

"Cat was mean," Peter said.  He went back to his present scene of frustration.

Xander kissed him and grinned.  "Remember, you can't kill the good guy."

"I know.  Is a shame, he is annoying me again."

"Then give him a girl he flirts with but totally gets turned down."

"I might," he said, working on that.  It would fit well with that scene and deflate his character's ego.

Xander looked at the social worker.  "Today, John took them to daycare for us so he could head home now that it had been fumigated."

"That's fine.  Are their rooms adequate?"  Xander got up and took her upstairs to show her.  "These are wonderful.

Xander grinned.  "I try."

"How many cats do you have?"

"Technically, I have one cat, Tara has three cats that came to stay with us when her last girlfriend ended up allergic, and she has a dog that sometimes visits.  Since she's pregnant the cats and dog get to visit more often here than not."

"Four isn't a hoarding problem."

"Some people think it is."

"Some people are snotty too," she said.  "Is their daycare adequate?"

"Quite and good for their learning.  Especially with how two of them have to do some age-appropriate catching up."

"That's fine."  She smiled.  "Relax.  I see no reason to take them."

"I had to deal with social workers nineteen times when I was younger."  She winced.  "And they couldn't take me so I'm honest about you guys not being my favorite people."

"I can understand that."  She walked back down the stairs.  "Do they get outside to play?"

"On the patio and to the park both," he assured her.  "Plus on the way to therapy they usually end up skipping up and down the streets each way."

"That's good."  She smiled.  "I'll report it's a childhood injury.  That cat?"

"Got her claws clipped that night.  So did the others."

"Even better.  I'll make that note.  Thank you."  She left.

Xander looked at Peter.  "She was polite and not mean," Peter said.  "I'm proud you worried less."

"I know there's people who would say stuff because we're together."

"Yes but they are dumb."  He took a kiss.  "Back to work before Paula has to come nag."

"Yup, I need to."  He sat down and got back to his own book.

Peter smiled.  His mate was calm and less bouncy today, it was a nice thing since he had worn him out earlier.


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