Tripping Minds.

Xander looked at the two very nice British officers.  "It's not my fault.  My bodyguard handled a threat when they showed up."

"Sir, why would this person want to kill you?" one asked politely.

"Because the International Council of Watchers wants me dead."

They stared at him.  "Why?" the other one asked.

"I stepped in to help a situation they felt like should be theirs to handle.  I'm sure you've seen their paladin complex?"

"Yes," the second one said.  "My boss has run into them in the past.  By the way, he wanted you brought in, sir."

"I'm sure he did.  But I'm not going to let myself be killed by them for helping their people or escaping death.  For that matter, my bodyguard was doing what he was supposed to."

"Yes, sir, but did he have a weapons permit?" the first officer asked.  He'd ignore the statement that the other officer's boss might be dirty.

"I believe he did."

"How big is the contract on you, sir?" the first asked.

"Half a mil."  He smiled.  "All for staying alive and keeping others alive."  He sat down.  "As for your boss, I don't care," Xander told him.  "I've seen them hurt a lot of very good people.  I'm sorry for him, but I'm not going near them without reacting and that'll make the news, which they'd hate."

"Sir, threatening...." the first started.

He held up a hand.  "Statement of fact, Officer."  He looked at the second one.  "I'll gladly go to the *station*."

"That'd be acceptable, sir.  If you wouldn't mind coming with us?"

"Sure.  Can he drive?' he asked, pointing at the first one.

The second stared.  "You know of their duty?"

"Yes, and I helped Summers in Sunnydale for four years."  The man gave him a horrified look.  "They decided I was wrong to help her."

"If you knew they'd try," the first officer said.  "Why come here?"

"Book signing."  He held up his newest one with a smile.  "No choice, which was why I got a bodyguard."

"Okay," he decided. "I am driving," he told the second officer.

"I agree," he said.  "Sir."  Xander stepped into his shoes and grabbed his wallet and passport, then his watch and room key, following them out.  He saw the hovering manager.  "The attempted death threat was taken care of, sir.  We're going to take his statement and bring him back later."

"That's fine.  I hope this doesn't happen again."

"I'm pretty sure it won't," Xander assured him with an easy smile.  "Or I'll fight back harder and they won't like that."  The manager swallowed.  He smiled at him.  "It's cool.  Really."  He got into the back of the squad car, letting them take him to the station.  Xander made himself relax.  His bodyguard was covered.  He was covered.  If this 'commander' was dirty to the Council then he'd handle it.  Without drawing attention to himself hopefully.   Because he had to survive so Jack and his people could get the rest of the information out of his brain.

The officers walked him in and to the office.  "Sir," the second said.  "You wanted to see him."

"I did.  Dismissed."

Xander nodded politely at them.  "Thank you for the nice treatment," he said quietly.   They left and he looked at him.  "So, relative in the Council who's forcing you or otherwise."

"I don't know what you're talking about, sir."

"I'm from Summer's team in Sunnydale," he said bluntly.  "I know what assholes they are, Commander."

The man stared at him.  "Is that why they want you dead?"

"Yup.  Apparently they didn't learn very well that I'm not the easy target."

"I can understand that.  Why are you local?"

"Book signing."

"You write now?"

"Yes.  I'm also Alexian Harris."  He smiled.  The man moaned.  "They really hate me and I don't care.  Is my bodyguard all right?"

"He's fine.  The graze proved the girl fired first like he said she did."  Xander nodded, sitting down.  "They do want you brought to them."

"Do you really want to see the headlines tomorrow when I have to fight back?" he asked quietly.  "Or face questions about why an international author died in your city after you had caught a contract on his life being started?  Especially since some of your officers know about the Council and can spill it?"


Xander sighed and took off his watch, holding up the back of it.  The commander sighed, staring at him.  "I was her weapons person," he said quietly.  "I hate the council as much as they hate me.  I know what sort of fuckers they are."

"I think we all do around here," he admitted.  "You still can't...."

"Yeah I can."  He put his watch back on.  "And I have other things hidden around my person that you won't find without a witch's help."  He stood up again.  "If there's nothing else, I think I need to change hotel rooms and arrange for another guard."

"I think it'd be wise.  Are you staying in the city?"

"No, I'm delivering a letter to a coworker's family in Ireland in a few days.  I'll be flying up and back.  Other than that, I have two signings and some sightseeing time."  He smiled.  "If they come, I will try my best to keep it out of the press.  My agent would like that."

"I'd like to be out of this situation."

"Even if you handed me over, I'd kill them all," Xander said bluntly.  "It won't matter to me.  A threat to me is always handled as quickly and efficiently as I can.  Even if I do have to go to the local demon community to get backup."

"Please don't," he moaned.  "We're at peace."

"So am I."  He smiled.  "Now, can I go?"

"Go.  If they come...."

"I'll be quiet about it.  My bodyguard?"

"We'll probably be letting him go home if he wants."

Xander smiled.  "I'll get another one as soon as I can then.  Let me say goodbye to him?"

"He'll be back at the hotel."

"Thank you."  He nodded and left, going back to the hotel.  His guard was already there.  "Thank you."  He gave him a quick, manly hug.  "I'm sorry they acted already."

"I would've been less mean if I didn't have jet lag, Mr. Harris."

"Xander, please."

"Fine, Xander then."  He looked at him.   "They want me to leave the country."

"I'll be okay enough.  If I have to, I'll get a second one by Germany."

He smiled.  "Thanks, Xander.  Good luck.  Secret society sorts are always bad news."

"At least it's not a church.  They have very limited members in most areas outside of England."

"Yes but they can hire."

"That dirties them in their duties," he said dryly.  He smiled.  "Can I give you a lift to the airport and a bonus?"

"I want you to stay inside as much as you can on this leg of the trip, Xander.  It's easier for them to get you if you're not hiding."

"It's harder for them to find me if I'm out sightseeing."

"They have enough people to put one at each tourist attraction to spot you."

"Reggie, they have dirty cops.  They can come retrieve me."  He smiled.  "I'm not going to hide from them and they aren't going to kill me because I'll destroy them.  In the press and out."  He smirked.  "Shooting at you meant my nice guy gloves came off."

"Can you actually do anything?"

"I can call some contacts back in LA and New York to get an introduction over here."  He smirked.  "They're not all nice poker players."


"Some have some.  And some upper world ones."  He beamed.  "Now, want a ride?"

"Sure, I can use a ride.  I don't deserve a bonus."

"Yeah you do."  He handed the envelope over to him.  "You kept me from having to get hurt."  He clapped him on the back.  "Remember, the boss is always right," he said with a teasing grin.  "Unless she's a brainless tramp with a dog."  Reggie burst out laughing at that, patting him on the back.  "C'mon."  He took him down to get his car and decided instead on a taxi.  Valets were risky.  Not that he thought anyone on the Council could pretend to be that low class, but you never knew if they had one of the trainees do it.  They weren't old enough to be that snobby yet.


Xander came back from Daniel's family in Ireland to find people in his hotel room.  He stared at them.  "Hi," he said, looking at the guys he kind of knew from elsewhere.  "Did Dawn send you guys?"  This was good timing on their part but a bit creepy since they were inside his room.

John Sheppard smirked.  "No, General O'Neill did.  Get in here."  Xander walked in and closed the door.  "I'm impressed that it took you a day to get into trouble."

"They kicked in the door and tried to shoot my bodyguard.  It was their own fault and I have let it be known that I'd be taking them out spectacularly if they try it again."  He sat down.  "So, here for the brain thingy?"

"We're going to have to use a lesser thing, which may leave you with some information," John said.

"Okay."  He looked at Rodney.  "It's odd seeing you not cooing at Abby."

"I can't until we're done on our project."

"I heard.  Most of the demon community calls you guys heroically stupid."  They both smirked at that.  "Something about no way back, evil creatures that need slayers, and a lot of problem cultures.  Though I have heard rumors that you guys are the playboys of the universe too."

"Totally untrue," John said smugly.

Rodney snorted.  "Yes, because you haven't slept with some priestesses."

"It got us out of trouble," he shot back.  "Not why we're here."  He looked at him.  "With that much information it may take a few days to a few weeks."

"That's cool.  We have a room set up for my bodyguard.  I'll have to get one since he checked out, but I can do that.  How much will this hurt?  I've got a signing tomorrow from ten until the last of my fans leaves."

"How long should that take?" Rodney asked.

"They said four, I say whenever the last one's gone," he said.  "I'm not going to disappoint my fans."

"I agree," John assured him.  "That makes you a nice guy."

"Only sometimes," he admitted dryly.

"Yeah, we heard."  He smirked.  "Including about that small helpful thing back on a halloween?"

"It's come in handy."

"We got some files."

"The Initiative's are wrong."

"I heard.  We have some from the underground community you play poker in."  Xander beamed.  "Half of it I'll take with a grain of salt or six.  Half of it, I'm scared to death of what you'll pull if you're threatened.  So which half is right?"

"It depends on the situation.  I'm not going to give up but I will be, probably always, a white knight.  I jumped into that fight and this one got landed on me because of it.  What did they say?"


"Which one?"

"Mall," John added, staring him down.

"Really my best date in high school, but necessary.  Otherwise we'd all be dead."

"Graduation?" Rodney asked.

"Necessary, or we'd all be dead and giant demon worm food.  If they got those both right as they happened."  John tossed over the file.  Xander sat down to read it, sorting it out.  "I never dated her, she was just evil on her own."  He kept going, adding one other to that pile.  "Not how it happened."  He sighed, putting one aside.  "Not quite.  Close but not quite and a personal failure I kick my own ass about."  He kept going.  "Spell," he said, handing one over.  "Otherwise pretty correct."  He handed it back and the individual sheets, looking at John.  "I'm not helpless, but I will warn you if I start writing, you'll need to get me out of it.  I totally zone out.  I expected Reggie to be more a mother hen than anything else.  I didn't think the Council was going to be that blunt."

Rodney nodded.  "We can see how that happens.  We did get briefed by your roommate Tara about your writing habits."  He smirked.  "I know some people who would like some brain scans of that state."

"Hey, if they can find my muses, I might not mind.  My last girlfriend either.  They interrupted sex once."  He grimaced, shrugging some.  John was staring at him.  "What?" he asked, starting to look worried.

"You got that thing during a *date*?"

"Yeah.  The halloween thing gave me the codes.  We double dated because Oz had a van and Willow wanted to go with.  I took Cordy."

John gave him a horrified look.  "You guys didn't have a theater?  Or anything?  Breaking into a military base was a *good* date?"

"Mini golf, theater, bars, a teen club, two colleges.  She nearly got sacrificed at a frat party.  It was necessary.  The thing in the mall was going to kill humanity," he said quietly, glancing at the door.  He could see a shadow underneath it.  "Did you bring friends?" he hissed.

John got up and went to check.  "Yes?" he asked.

"Are you his new bodyguard?" the female asked quietly.

"Yes, ma'am."

Xander looked around him.  "Hi, Merry.  Why are you in England?"

"Because I have to tell you that I got so stunned with my behavior I had to confess and I can't...  I want to hit on you or throw you down and rip your clothes off, Xander, and I can't."

"I know."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "I know, I understand, it'll be okay."  She smiled.  "Tell them I'm okay so far?  I delivered Daniel's letter for him."  She nodded and left.  "My agent's assistant."

"Our Daniel?" Rodney asked.

"No, Willow's husband Daniel.  His family's from Ireland.  That's where I was earlier."

"We saw you were up there," Rodney said, staring at him.  "She was dating you?"

"We played with the idea but she decided it was making her want to be too bad.  She did avoid killing her last boyfriend though."  John moaned, shaking his head, banging it against the wall for the bathroom.

"He's worse than you are," Rodney taunted with an evil smirk.

"Hey, I can go date guys on the trip," Xander said dryly.

John looked at him.  "We don't care."  Xander grinned at that.  He sat down, looking at the boy.  "Okay, we'll protect you, we'll get that information from you.  By then we'll be in Asia by your timetable."  Xander nodded at that.  "And probably safer unless you have some underworld contacts that no one mentioned?" he said, sounding almost depressed at that thought.

"I don't think any of my kitten poker circuit goes back to the Asian mob but I did get a letter from one daughter over there who wanted to have a private dinner with me.  I turned her down."  He dug out that letter and handed it over.  "I stated I would have just gotten in that night and I'd have jet lag so I wouldn't be very good company, but that my schedule during the trip was very tight.  That if I saw her, it'd probably be at a signing."

John looked it over.  "Her father's big in entertainment by what I've seen in the popular magazines."  He handed it to Rodney, who turned to look her up.  "Okay, what are you doing today?"

"Dinner.  I picked out a really nice looking pub that has tourists and locals.  There's a soccer game on tonight."  He looked hopeful.  "Can we still go?  I can buy dinner."

"We can go," John agreed.  "You're not to leave the pub without telling us.  In the morning, we'll go with you to the bookstore, and then back here.  We can browse, read in a corner, whatever."  Xander and Rodney both nodded at that.  "Even if you're running down for a paper, you let us know.  Those are the rules."

"I can do that as long as you're not mean leash holders who want to tie me in the room.  It's my first time traveling anywhere."

"No, we can understand that you want to get out and do things," John assured him.

Rodney nodded.  "I've done the same myself on some trips.  There's safe ways of traveling."

"I have a tour booked our last day in the morning," he said, pulling that out of the desk drawer.  "They look reputable.  There's multiple people going, including one of the other authors.  And tomorrow I was going to watch the ceremony at the Tower."

"Can you keep any and all ghosts outside of you?" Rodney asked.  "We were told you had a problem with that."

"They'd hate me for being American," he pointed out.  "I won't go into the Tower.  I'll be watching the changing of the guards and the key ceremony."

"That's not a bad idea," John agreed.

Rodney nodded.  "There's also a lot of more subtle local flavor to see."

"If I had the time, I'd visit Cambridge and Oxford.  I'd visit Bathe and a lot of the older towns.  That'll take months though."

"True," he agreed.  "Maybe some other time."

"Maybe.  Though I'd have to go as someone else.  We all know the Council is like a hydra.  It won't die no matter how many heads you cut off.  I'd like the current one to wither and die though."

"I think a lot of people would like to see some changes from them now that we know," Rodney assured him.  "Our generals included."

"I'm not against that," Xander assured them.  "I respect the calling, the work, all that.  I don't respect the way they treat the girls, or the knowledge, or anyone else who helps."

"We definitely agree on that point," Rodney said, making the boy relax again.  "Are you tense from the threat?"

"No.  I'm more tense because my muses want me to write and I know if I start it and you guys have problems it'll never be finished so I'll disappoint people."

"There is not hardly any chance of this screwing up your mind," John told him.

"I'm the master of breaking prophecies and coming up in impossible situations," he told him.

"No, this one is idiot proof," Rodney told him.  "No matter what, it can only download a copy."  Xander nodded at that.  "If you want to write, go ahead."

"Then I'll miss dinner and I'm starving."  He grabbed some things.  "Dinner?"

"Sure, we can hit the pub," John agreed.  "Are you drinking?"

"Hardly ever.  My parents have problems with that state.  That and reality."  He closed and checked the door behind them.  "I'm treating, right?"  They nodded, following him down.  That would work for him.  Even if they did eat like wild hogs, but he didn't think they would.  They seemed very nice at the least.  Maybe they liked to talk and read?  He'd hate being in Europe without anyone to talk to about the things he was seeing.  He really liked that Reggie would let him babble for hours on end at him and only say a few comments.  It was like letting him work through his own thoughts so he could wind down daily.

They got to the pub and it was great!  There was laughing and talking, and a large group near the big tv to watch the game and yell at the players.  He smiled at the waitress.  "Do we seat ourselves?"  She nodded so he went to find one near the tv.  He liked loud things.  It comforted him because silence was always a bad sign.  Their waitress came over to take their orders and he looked around, focusing on all the people and the joy.  He almost sighed in pleasure.

The waitress brought them their drinks, including his soda.  Rodney gave him a look.  "I live on it," he told him.  He went back to watching the crowd and the game.  The game was kinda boring but the people watching the game were a lot more fun.  She brought their food and he inhaled the scent as soon as his plate was down then he beamed at her.  She smiled back.  "Thank you."  She nodded and left them alone.  He moaned as he dug into it.  It was *so* good.  The other two could be all smirking and watch him eat but oh well.

Rodney smirked at him.  "It is good food," he admitted.  He dug in.  It was very good food.

John nodded.  "It's excellent food."  He glanced at the guys watching the game.  They were amusing but he knew that sort of behavior.  It'd be a fight soon.  Probably over a bad call.  He dug in because he was hungry.  Had a bit of jet lag too.  They'd be fine though.  The kid clearly needed to get out of the house more if a bunch of guys watching a game was more exciting to him than a game itself.

"Oi!  What'cha watching!" one complained when he caught Xander watching them.

"Humans.  I write elves."  They all laughed at that and he shrugged.  "Sorry, I'm a geek without guy friends," he told them.

"You clearly need more guy friends," John agreed.  Xander stuck his tongue out at him then ducked his head and stuffed his mouth.

Rodney looked over, giving John a knowing look.  He liked the kid too.  He was an amusing enigma of behavior and geekiness.  He looked at the boy.  "How were you in school?  We couldn't get the records."

"All time record for detentions, in-school suspension, and tardiness," he sighed.  "Our school sucked beyond that but I'm not a school sort.  I know it's great for you guys and all but I'm not great in a classroom."

"Some people are better at learning hands-on," John told him.  "That's why there's Vo-Tech."

"We didn't have that option but I did like it when I worked construction."  He glanced over at the people cheering a goal.

John handed him his drink.  "Go party with them."  Xander gave him a confused look.  "Immerse yourself in the local culture, Xander.  Go.  Shoo."

"But...  They don't like me."

"Quit staring and go join them so they will like you."  Xander shrugged but stayed there.  He did eventually go that way on his way to get a refill and back.  One of the people in there bumped into him but slapped him on the back, laughed at him, and let him join the group.  John looked at Rodney.  "Were you that geeky?" he asked as quietly as he could.

"Far beyond that I'm afraid."  He stuffed his mouth, looking at the boy's dish.  It was halfway gone.  He considered it but the kid probably needed the calories.  He could get seconds.  He waved the waitress over, pointing at the table.  She brought them another round of drinks.  "Bread?" he asked.

"Of course."  She went to get him some and brought it back with the local sweet butter and soft cheese.  She went to check on the young one.  He needed another soda but that was fine.  He was enjoying himself.  When the slight brawl broke out the kid took a sip of his drink while watching.  One of them took a swing at him.  The kid tripped him and took another drink, walking back to put his glass on the table.

"Oh, no," John said, catching him and making him sit down.  "Finish dinner.  O'Neill told us you were having a hard time sticking to your secret identity."  He gave him a pointed look but the kid did finish his dinner and the rest of the bread.  When the fight got him run into the kid kicked at the guys pinning him, making them back off.  "C'mon, it's always better to not get into a fight in a bar."

"Yes, sir."  Xander waved the waitress over, handing her two hundred pound notes with a smile and a wink.  "Thank you."  She beamed at him and they left.

"That was an excessive tip," Rodney said.

"It was a good one.  She was nice.  Nice waitresses deserve tips."

"She was pretty decent at it," John said.  "Without flirting too."  Xander grinned at that.  "Do you often get flirted with?"

"Only by bad girls.  Or girls who want to be bad girls."  He shrugged.  "I never get the good girls.  I don't know why."

"Every guy deserves a bad girl now and then," John said.  Because they couldn't be that bad, right?

"My last date was okay.  A bit needy and things.  The one before her was into human trafficking so it was a step up, but strangely back into my last fiancee."  He let his frown clear up.  "Maybe the next one will be better.  Who knows."

"Human trafficking?" Rodney asked, staring at the boy.

"Yeah.  That's the third one of them.  A few killers."  He shrugged and walked on.

John stared at his back.  "How many of your exes are in jail?"

"A few are awaiting trial," he quipped with a grin for him.  "But some are okay."

John shook his head quickly.  "Maybe taking some of those away will help?"

"No, my first one wanted to breed to me and then kill me."  Xander beamed.  "But nothing beats Ampata.  You know, she's in the local museum, I should visit."  He bounced off.

"We're regulating his sugar intake, right?" Rodney asked.  He recognized that sort of bounciness from some of the scientists on Atlantis that were always trying to steal his power bars.

"Yes," John agreed.  "A lot."  They caught up to the boy, who was flirting with some woman by petting her dog.  They smiled and walked the young man off.  John waited until she was well out of ear shot to comment.  "Nice technique, kid."


"Flirting with her by petting the dog," Rodney said.  "Even *I* know that."

"I liked her dog," he said.  "She wasn't nearly evil enough for me.  I need to get Tara's cat a companion, someone to play with."

"They'll fight," Rodney assured him.  "Cats are territorial."

"I know, I can't get my closet organizer back from Miss Kitty."  Rodney gave him a look.  "Tara's cat.  Miss Kitty Fantastico."

"That name proves a girl named her," Rodney assured him.  They walked back into the hotel and someone took a picture.  "Oh, damn," he muttered, rubbing the spots out of his eyes.

"Guys," Xander complained, smiling at them.  "Are we getting a bit jump happy for someone else?"

"Alexian, we heard there's a contract out on your life," one said, taking another picture.  "What're you doing about it?"

"Well, tonight I had a wonderful dinner with these two nice guys at a local pub, which had some excellent food.  I heartily recommend them.  They were nice, even when I did get caught staring at the humans."  They laughed at that and he grinned.  "And now I'm going to go to bed.  Tomorrow, we have a signing, I'm going to the British National Museum, then to visit a few things, then dinner.  Then the next day I'm going to have a tour and go to the next city, which I think is in Germany?" he asked, getting a nod back from John.  "Other than that, if the secret society types that can't distinguish between reality and the stuff I write, that's *their* problem," he told them with a smile.  "I'll take any measures necessary to protect myself.  I had a bodyguard because I heard that they had taken a contract out on me due to my writing."  He shrugged.  "Who knows why they object to demon hunters."

"We heard it's from an earlier source," one said, stepping out.

Xander nodded.  "I was a teenager then.  What could a teenager do to gain that sort of attention, Mr. Merrick?"  The man looked stunned.  "My friend has a picture of your uncle."

"That's not unexpected.  He was important in her life.  May we speak on this matter in private?"

"We can speak but it won't be all that private since I have to go over something in the books with them to make sure it makes sense.  See, someone told me I was to deliver some information to them from a friend of theirs.  Like I did earlier today to a friend's family in Ireland."  He smiled at the reporters.  "Now, anything else going on today?"  They took a few more pictures and he walked past them.  "Remember, guys, if you guys get too good at it, I want groupies sometime," he called as he walked away.

"We'll try to find you some," one called, taking a few pictures of his people.  He had no idea who they were but it was nice they were having dinner.  They never saw the kid out with friends.

Xander let them into his room then turned and locked the door.  "Buffy would be happy to know he had family," he said, staring at him.

"You are playing a dangerous game, young man."

"If Travers doesn't leave me the hell alone, I'll blow the Council so open it won't ever matter and then I'll blow the building."

Merrick smirked.  "We had heard you were bold and very annoying."

"No I'm not like they think.  I never have been.  No matter what they think, I may be normal but so are you guys.  The only difference is training."

"You created the two slayer problem that lead to one going dark," he corrected.

"She went dark because we were teenagers and we didn't realize she didn't have any support from *your* people," he shot back.  "Not like anyone out there thought that she might be having problems with how she lost her watcher, anything with the Greek bastard and his minions, how that incident happened, which was just as much Buffy's fault since she threw him at her without warning.  Giles and Wesley never did a damn thing to help her integrate and we were too wrapped up in our own issues to help," Xander finished.

"I realize we're stupid fucks for that.  It's another in a line of failures I have because the group wasn't as good as we thought."  He moved closer.  "It's not like we had *backup* from them.  Giles couldn't fight.  He had a little magic that he was damn scared of using, which led to Rosenburg's many versions of crisis.  I got *no* training and I still managed to help her.  Giles gave up on her when Angel conveniently had the book predicting she'd die.  Giles gave up and threw up his hands.  Angel did the same.  Hell yes I wasn't going to let her die alone! "

"Guys," John interrupted.  "This isn't getting anyone anywhere."

"No, but it's enlightening," Rodney said.  Xander glared at him.  "Who would expect teenagers to be able to save the world?  Especially ones, who by their own admission, barely graduated high school."

"I'm a lot more like your partner than you," Xander said dryly.  "And my area of expertise is tactics and weapons.  That's why I planned graduation when Giles' plans looked bad."

"The whole thing?" John asked.  "The file had you leading the external battle."

"That too," he sighed, looking at the watcher again.  "Old history will only give me a migraine and make me want to chop more wood.  Why are you here, Mr. Merrick?"

"Travers does not like you being around."

"I hate how Travers uses the slayers like personal toilet paper.  I'm willing to kill him to end it.  Is he?"

"Not really.  Not in person definitely."  He stared at him.  "Some of us do want to change the system."

"So take Travers out," he said bluntly.

"We can't."

"You can.   It's not that hard.  Hell, I can!"  He looked at him.  "I can go down to the local demon bars right now and find someone who'd do it for shits and giggles."

"That would destroy us all," Merrick said dryly.

"No.  Not exactly."

Merrick swallowed.  "There needs to be changes but you're in danger."

Xander snorted.  "As opposed to what?  My dating life?  My brain frying from the next possession, or the last one?  Or hell, me getting pounced by something too big?  I know damn well there's a good chance of something coming for me because I can't figure out how to lay low.  Or hell, like Glory, I could be killed during an apocalypse."

"The Council will end you before all that, boy."

"No, they won't."  Xander got into his bag and held up something, making Merrick gasp.  "See, some of us are willing to actually work for change in the council.   If I have to do their dirty work for them, they won't like it."  He handed the file to Rodney.  "Use at your discretion."  He looked at Merrick again.  "Your turn."

He smirked.  "That is a good point," he decided.  "You are stronger than we expected."

Xander smirked.  "Yeah, I am, because I'm not going to be threatened by a society of bad research nerds.  If they knew people, they would've fixed some things."

"Very true.  So now what do we do?"

Xander shrugged.  "Get to fixing I suppose," he said blandly, staring at him.  "Faith's getting better by the day.  Buffy's still going.  What more do you guys want?"

"There's an invasion coming."

"Yes.  The Black Thorn is going to cause one.  That nice place Rosenburg sent me had one and all the slayers activated thanks to the First Evil.  You guys got blown up by that.  The me there had to help Wesley rebuild the Council."  Merrick and Rodney both shuddered.  "The girls said we did a really damn good job."

"That is a future we do not want to happen."

"Then, change out Travers, help those fighting the Black Thorn, and get off your ass from being passive about this.  Sometimes you can't be voyeurs."

"I know.  There is much that we do not know about the slayer line."

Xander snorted.  "Ask Buffy.  To end the Initiative and Adam we had to call Sineya."

"Who?" the watcher asked.

"The First Slayer."

"She had a name?"  He backed up when he saw the balled up hands.  "I was not aware of that incident.  I will ask her about it."  He bowed and left.

Xander kicked the bed.  "Can't I just blow them up?" he asked.

"No," John said.  "It'd be bad."

Xander looked at him.  "Not really."

"Yeah it would.  We need some books from there."  He took the folder to look at, grimacing at it.  "That's enough to get them sanctioned by countries and things."  He handed it back.  "Calm down."

"I am calm."

"No you're not.  There's no handy forest so calm down."  Xander took a deep, calming breath.  Then another.  Then he grabbed a bag.  "Oh, no, no hunting alone, kid."

"You can come and watch me hunt."

"No, I'm not like that.  I don't feel like hunting."  He took the weapons and pushed him down.  "Meditate or something."  He stared at him until the kid looked away.  "I agree, they're bad.   They need fixed.  They shouldn't blame a kid for stepping in to protect himself and others that he cared about."  Xander relaxed, nodding some.  "For right now, you need to think tactically."

Xander looked up at him.  "Then I'd be unconcealing the things in the bag," he said bluntly.

"Do it anyway so I know what we have in case it becomes necessary."  Xander moved the concealing patch.  John stared then at him.  "Did that get it through security?"  Xander nodded.  "I need that."  He looked at the contents.  He had enough C-4 to blow a building or twenty.  Timer.  Two grenades.  A gun.  He handed it back.  "Conceal it again, kid."  Xander did that and tossed it aside, holding his head.  "They'll work to change things, even if it is too slow for everyone you presently know in this fight."

"There's every possibility that Travers will have someone contact a demon contact to have me taken out," he said quietly.  He looked at the door.  "Visitors."  He checked to make sure the bag was concealed and put his concealing necklaces on it just in case.  It went under the bed too.  He got up and looked at them.  John had moved Rodney closer to the window.  Xander opened the door, staring at the person standing there.  "Hi," he said.  "Long time no see."


Tara looked up as her magic flared, sighing.  She hated the Council.  She knew that Xander was going to react badly if the Council bothered him.  She hoped his new bodyguards were effective.  If not...  Well, maybe she could get him calmed down.  Alexis gave her a nudge so she smiled.  "I'm wondering how Xander's doing since his new bodyguard is supposed to be there today."

"It's a shame that some secret society thinks he's stepped on their toes and put a contract out on their lives," Alexis grandmother said.  "What a crock."

"Well, they've been around forever so they think they know best," Tara admitted.  "They already tried once.  That's why his first bodyguard got to come home."  She ate a bite of the casserole.  "Thank you for inviting me over, ma'am."

"Dear, it's Martha.  Don't make me feel older than I am."  Tara gave her a smile.  "Besides, you'd go insane in the apartment all by yourself after having to nag him for years on end."  She smiled at her granddaughter.  "Alexis could use more friends as well.  Especially nice ones that didn't want to get her in trouble."

"No, I don't like trouble," Tara assured her, smiling at her shopping buddy, who grinned back.  "I brought Fantasia one and two."

"I haven't seen two yet," she admitted with a smile.

"They did put in Sorcerer's Apprentice but the rest is new."  They smiled at each other and took dessert up to watch them.

Martha smiled.  That was a good idea of hers.  The girl needed more friends and Alexis needed more friends who were decent.  Her son came in.  "Tara and Alexis are watching Fantasia."

He smiled.  "Good.  Anything left from dinner?"  She handed him the plate she had made him.  "Thank you, Mother."  He went to his own room to calm down and eat.  It had been a *long* day and the girls giggling at the movies was good for him.


John waited until they were back from the museum.  " dated a revived mummy?" he asked finally.

"I didn't know she was until we started to pile up sucked out, mummified bodies."  He sat down on his bed, looking around.

"Rodney texted that he's got our room set up."  He looked at him.  "She seemed sweet."

Xander looked up at him.  "She had no choice.  She was chosen for it and they killed her even though she protested."

"That sucks."

"It did and it was a lot like what Buffy was thinking at the time about her calling.  It totally messed up the life she had planned, the life she had enjoyed.  She went from being popular to her calling, which made her an outcast.  Especially after she had to do a gym that was stuffed full of bad guys."

"That even worse."  He sat at the desk, looking at the kid.  "You looked happy."

"I could've loved her.  In the end, I told her to suck me instead of Buffy and she wouldn't until it got critical.  She panicked but they fixed the seal."  He gave him a look, then looked at his lap and hands.  "I don't know.  It seems like everyone I could love is either way out of my league or dangerous."  He looked up again.  "Sometime when I'm really feeling down, ask me about Anya."

"Who was Anya?"

Xander smiled.  "My fiancee.  Blunt as hell.  Former vengeance demon.  She was eleven-hundred year old."  John shuddered.  "She talked constantly about sex and money.  In public.  Complained in public, was borderline nympho making up for lost time.  Half the time she didn't want to be a girlfriend, just have someone there to meet her needs, but now and then she'd want to remember and talk.  Or cuddle.  That was nice."

"Where is she now?"

"In a convent."  He rubbed his face with his hands.  "I caught her cheating on me."  John grimaced.  "With Tara's girlfriend.  See, vengeance demons come when their areas are tweaked by a major uprising in feelings.  I met Anya because Cordy and I broke up when she got hurt by something that had captured Willow and I, who were caught kissing."

"You were young."

"She wished there was a world without Buffy.  So that world was created and had a vampire me.  And nearly everyone."  John shuddered.  "With this one, when I caught her, the vengeance demon over scorned boyfriends came down.  I thought about it for weeks.  I might've let her go but I was *angry* ya know?"

"Definitely.  Been there, done that, still have scratch scars for daring to complain to her about catching her in bed with a friend."

Xander nodded.  "So I wished that she find peace in charity and faith.  Since she was all about the orgasms and money."

"So.... she's in a convent?"

"Yeah."  He smiled.  "She said she's happy."

"That's good.  I mean, it probably sucked to her at first, but it's good for her and humanity."

"Tara wished her girlfriend a wonderful marriage to a guy who would hopefully like kids.  His name's Daniel."  John smirked at that.  "Now that she's straightened out, they're very happy."

"That's good.  Another wish to redeem her I guess."  He stood up.  "It could be worse."

"No.  Not really."

"She could've killed you."

"Back then....  I'm not sure if I would have minded as long as it was going to save someone else."

John looked at the kid.  "No, that's a whole 'nother conversation, kid."

"Yeah, well, you're not my therapist and I know that.  I should have one but with my luck they'd write a book or commit me."

"I'm sure the other hunters have a shrink somewhere.  Beyond whatever the council hires."

"I don't know.  I'm not hooked into them."  He shrugged.  "I'll keep dating evil girls until I settle with one and have spawn."

"You don't have to have kids."

"I know.  I'd rather not.  Especially not until all this crap with them is settled down."

"That's a brilliant idea."  The boy smirked at him for that.  "You should sleep.  You have to look pretty tomorrow."

"I know.  Not that I do look pretty but I know.  Thanks."

"Welcome.  She did seem sweet."

"Better her than the giant praying mantis that wanted to eat me and rip off my head."

John shuddered.  "I'm so glad I don't have that curse."  He left, going back to his own room.  The kid could mope for tonight.  He'd be better tomorrow or pretend to be until he went to workout or something.  That was something else he wanted to see since the kid had complained that no one had trained him.  Rodney looked up from his reading when he walked in.  "We set?"

"Yes.  Is he back?"

"Yup.  Settling in for the night."  He took off his coat and put it over the back of a chair.  "Did you find anything new out?"

"I sent that file to General Landry, who was most pleased to have that information.  I did a better background check on the boy."  He pointed at the computer.  "I left it up for you."  John sat down to read it.  "He looked upset."

"She was his girlfriend until they realized she had to kill people to live."

"How does he get into those situations?"

"I don't know and I'm not sure I want to know because I might get hit."

"You already have the lesser version," Rodney said sarcastically.  "Or should I start naming them?"

"Please don't," he shot back with an evil look.  "I didn't have this problem before I joined the team.  So maybe it's your fault since I always seem to pick them up around you."

"You're always around Teyla and Ronon too," he complained.  "Why is it my fault?"

"Because there were those before they joined the team, but not you.  They all happened after you had me sit in that damn chair."  He went back to reading.

Rodney sniffed but he was smirking.  "Well, that's ungrateful.  Look what it gave you when I did make you."

"Yeah, my life threatened most every week.  A project that's driving me to pull out my hair by the handful.  Bureaucrats.  Marines."

"My insane crew of misfit geniuses who have little sense," Rodney joked.

"Exactly, and the Marines who have to save them but want to kill them for it."

"It could be worse."

"Yeah, I could be a general in charge of all that with more headaches."

"You could be on the Joint Chiefs and having to suck up to politicians."

"Please don't make me puke with that vision."  Rodney smirked at him.  "You're going to meet with the IOA person tomorrow to go get those history books?"

"Yes, you get to play bodyguard.  I'll be off subtly criticizing idiots who think they're God like."

"Speaking of, you missed it.  Remember hearing Mitchell say he had somehow concealed some things?"  Rodney nodded.  "Including his bag of things."

"Should we complain?"

"No."  He read the rest and saved it down then went to the bathroom to get ready for bed.  He had to be alert and ready tomorrow.  Rodney only had to snark his way past a British secret society with help from the government.


Xander came out of the book signing.  "Alexian, did you pick up a special friend?" one reporter called.

Xander looked at John, who was rolling his eyes, then looked at them.  "No.  He's going to show me around to some of the places I want to go because he's been here before."  He smiled.  "Besides, he's not mean enough for me.  We all know that my tastes run to mean and sarcastic."  He waved and they got into the rental car.  John had liked that he had one but had agreed it needed to be checked over since it had been in valet parking.  "That's an interesting jump."

"Not really," John said.  "You could've said I was your bodyguard."

"I might if they follow us."

"If that really is your type of guy, I know Rodney had a sweet tooth and likes coffee a lot."

Xander looked at him. "He's way too smart for me.  Now, if you find his twin in the military side of you guys, introduce me," he offered with a smirk of his own.  John laughed and nodded.  Xander started the car, looking around before turning the wheel.  He turned it off and got out, going over to the girl jogging his way.  "Hi.  What's up?" he asked.

"Are you Mr. Harris?" she panted.

"I am, and I know who you are."  She gave him a horrified look.  "Here to deliver a message or have me sign something?"

"Um..."  She looked at the reporters standing around then at him.  "We should talk in private."

"I'm at the Excelsior.  Be there after dinner."  She nodded and backed off.  Xander turned to get back in the car and nearly ran into his next obstacle.  "Damn, are you guys using concealing magic too?" he asked, making the man growl and pull a gun.  "Um, guys, gun!" he called, staring at him.  The reporters ran.  "Must you do that in front of the press?  My fans will be upset."

"Put it down, now!" John ordered, aiming his gun at the idiot.

"He's evil!  He's bringing demons to attention!" the man shouted.

Xander stared at him.  "It's a fantasy novel."  The man reached into his pocket so Xander moved.  The man tried to follow but John got him down and laid out nicely for the officers showing up.  "Does he have an ID from that group?" he asked.

John tossed the cop coming their way the guy's wallet.  "No.  He might be some random crank.  Good job, kid."  He looked at the officers, pulling out his ID to show them.  "I'm a friend of a friend and his former neighbor is my general.  The general wanted him protected because he knows what sort of problem the kid can draw," he told the officer, putting back his gun carefully.  "He was reaching into his left pocket for something.  I don't know what."

"Sir, why are you here?" one of the officers asked.

"He's a friend of a friend and I needed to deliver that mutual friend's letter to him but now he's showing me around and kinda helping me as a bodyguard type of thing," Xander told them.

"That's good for you, sir," the officer said.  "Who are you?"

"Alexian Harris," one reporter called.  "He writes fantasy novels.  Is this about the death threat to him from that secret society of people who have little minds or is this something else."

"He said I was bringing demons to attention so probably not one of them," Xander called.  "Just someone who confused reality."  They took more pictures until the police made them go away.  He smiled at the officer.  "My actual bodyguard had to leave the other day thanks to someone trying to kill us."

"Who is the death threat from, sir?"

"The ICW."

The officer shuddered.  "They're a horror story around the office."

"They're willing to pay to have my nuts," Xander said dryly.  "Half a mil for them."  They all moaned.  "So, yes, he's my big hero and I'm treating him to dinner later.  Can you guys...."  He waved a hand at the idiot.

"I was at the signing earlier, why are you over here, sir?" another officer asked.

"A friend of my former classmate that got me in trouble with the ICW showed up and I told her where to meet me later for a talk.  I turned around and ran into him and his gun.   Then he reached for something in his pocket.  John bravely made him stop and got him down for me."

They smiled at the military guy, who just smiled back.  "Good job, sir."

"Colonel," he corrected.  "Can I take Xander back to the hotel?  We were going to do some mild sightseeing tonight and then hit dinner."

"Go ahead, sir."  John walked Xander off while they cleaned up this mess and confiscated the coat with the possible biological contaminant, which turned out to be finely ground sand.  They all decided he was insane and put him in for a mental health check.  Nutters for the nut house.


Xander came back from his meeting with the potential.  "So?" John asked when they met in the lobby.  "Good, bad?"

"Not good, not horrible.  She was happy that Faith wasn't going to die anytime soon."  He shifted and grimaced.  "Her watcher sent her and she didn't realize humans were so hard to stake."

"Excuse me?" he demanded.

"It's nothing."

"Room, now," he ordered.  He followed him, staring at him in the elevator since they weren't alone.  They got into the room and he looked him over.  "Off."  Xander groaned. "I can call Doctor Lam.  She ordered me to if you collapsed or anything."  Xander sighed but took off his shirt and undershirt, letting him see the wound.  "That needs stitches."

"Get me my med kit from the blue bag and I can do them."

"You can what?" he demanded.

"I was the field medic," he told him.  "Just get me my kit please."  John stared at him so he got it for himself and went into the bathroom to hop up on the sink's counter so he could handle the stitches he needed.  Plus pulling out a few pieces of wood that had flaked off.  John walked in and glared at him.  "It's not the first time I've done my own."

"No wonder you could chop wood with a broken rib."

"That was mostly anger, but yeah."  They both looked at the door when someone knocked and something was slid underneath it.  "Can you?"

"I'd better."  He went to look at it, frowning.  It had very ornate script and it smelled odd.  He got the bag for the ice bucket and slid it in there carefully.  When it tilted as he tied it, smoke came out.  "Stay," he ordered.

"Sure," Xander agreed, pulling out his own pistol while John took that outside and called someone.  Xander finished his stitches.  He was putting on a bandage when someone kicked in the door.  Thankfully, his gun had tranq darts loaded.  The first person through was in a uniform and a gas mask.  They and the other three went down then Xander came out to look at them and call the nice detective who had wanted a statement the last time.

"Inspector Hallings?  Alexian Harris.  I have four guys in uniforms and gas masks that just burst into my room.  No, I have a tranq dart system.  I figured it'd be safe.  I have no idea but Colonel Sheppard took the smoking envelope outside in a bag right before they showed up.  Please.  They should be up in about twenty or so."  He hung up and went to pack his medical kit again.  It didn't have anything controversial in it.  John stomped back.  "Take the bags to the car," he said quietly.  "Someone's coming to pick them up."  He nodded, taking the gear bag and the one with the medical kit.  Xander waited.  Two cops rushed in.  "They kicked in the door right after the smoking envelope was shoved under it," he told them.

"On the floor!" one shouted.

"Okay.  Moving slowly because of a wound."  He got down like they wanted him to and they patted him down.  "The tranq dart gun is on the bathroom counter, where I left it."  They went to check it out.  The inspector came in.  "Anything?"

"Shut up," one of the officers ordered.

"You shut up," Hallings snapped.  "He's the victim!"  They backed off at that and he helped him up, looking at the bandage.  "What's that?"

"Someone sent his protégé after me to make sure she knew that humans were a hard target.  I convinced her to change careers.  It's nothing.  I've already handled it."  That got a nod and the inspector backed off.  "What about them?"

He searched them, coming up with a picture and a copied note.  He held it up once he had read it.

"Hey, they raised it," he said dryly, smirking at John when he came back.  "They raised my bounty."

"How much is it now?" he asked.

"Two mil," Xander said.  "Good thing we're leaving soon."

"Yes it is."  He came in to look at them then at the kid.  "Tranq darts?"

"Safe, non lethal.  It gives the nice officers time to respond without putting anyone in danger."

"It's not a bad idea," he agreed.   The officers growled.  "I gave the letter to someone outside in the HAZMAT van," he told the Inspector.

"That's what we'd want you to do, Colonel.  Thank you.  Mr. Harris, are you all right beyond your side?"

"Yeah, I'm fine.  I'm fine even with that."  He smiled slightly.  "I'm almost used to people wanting to kill me.  The only odd thing is that I didn't date them first."

Hallings laughed.  "I have heard."  He got the other officers to take those into custody.  That way they could growl at their very dirty people.  Or whoever was in those uniforms.  "When do you leave?"

"Tomorrow at six," Xander said, finding their itinerary for him to copy down.  "I'm going on a sightseeing tour in the morning."

"Excellent idea.  A lot of people around, fairly safe to be among.  Thank you.  Have a good trip, you both."  He left, letting them get the hotel people up there to fix the door or move them.  The hotel was very aware that he had a bodyguard due to a contract on his life.  They could not blame him for it.  "Lonnie, what's with the letter?" he asked when he spotted the HAZMAT guys still there.

"Knock out gas of some sort.  Not lethal.  Guess the idiots in the masks were going to fix that."

"'Parently," he agreed.  He walked off shaking his head.  It was good the boy had an actual, trained soldier who could back him up whenever he ran into problems.  Hopefully the poor sod was keeping him from dating too.

Upstairs, Xander was packing so he could settle into his new room for the night.  He went back to make sure he had everything.  He was even nice enough to clean up his mess in the bathroom.  He did one last check, including for his magically concealing necklaces.  They were in the car so he was good.  He went to his own room and laid down, then decided he wanted a beer.  He got up and went to the door, finding McKay stomping up the halls.  "I need a beer, you look like you need a beer.  Pub we had dinner at that night in twenty?"

"Definitely," he agreed.   "After dealing with the hidebound asses I need a beer."  Xander beamed and grabbed his wallet and new room key before heading out.  "Wasn't he....wasn't he in another room?" he asked himself.  He walked into theirs and found John trying to relax.  "We're going to the pub we had dinner at."

"Let me get my shoes on," he said, finding them to slide into.  They left together, talking along the way about what had happened at the Council.   "How bad?"

"The hidebound assholes don't even like computers."  He waved his hand around.  "Half of them looked at my cellphone oddly."  John groaned, shaking his head.  "They have a library the size of Oxford's and no idea what's in it according to the head librarian.  Not even a card catalog.  Two *blatantly* tried to threaten the IOA person.  He nearly had them shut down but the Queen likes them," he sneered.

They caught up with the boy.  Xander looked at him.  "Let me guess, they played roadblock, pulled up the fact that the queen owed them her life since one nearly took her when she was younger and prettier, and they claimed they had no idea where things were?"  Rodney grimaced but nodded.  Xander smiled.  "I'm making my point known later and there's a few watchers who would know what's in there.  There's a research council as I'm told."  Rodney smirked at that.  "Scientific in genetics and library oriented in strange crap.  They're in Leeds."  He opened up his phone to show him the email he had gotten.

Rodney took the phone and sent the email to his own address.  "Thank you.  That could be very helpful."  He saw the newly incoming message.  "From them?"

"I made my point known."  He smiled.

"How?" John asked.

"I pointed out they really should leave me alone and sent a very nice schematic I found online as an attachment.  It's to go in air conditioning vents."

"They can turn you in for that," Rodney warned.

"They can try, I can cite the death contract, especially since my bounty went up.  I can be as paranoid as they want."

John shook his head.  "Very little planning."

"Travers won't run but he will take the point since I sent it from a demon server," Xander said with a happy grin.  They shuddered.  "Exactly.  So, I need a beer after our near biological attacks today.  Am I buying the first round?"

"No, I will," John decided.  "Did you take anything for your side?"

"What's wrong with your side?" Rodney asked before they got to the pub.

"The potential I met with tried to stake me and couldn't.  I stitched it.  It's fine."  He held open the door.  "Tact before beauty."

"I get better women than you," John taunted as he walked in.

"I could've said age."  Xander walked up to the bar.  "I've had a shitty day.  What do you recommend to cure that that's slightly sweet?"

"I make a mean mai tai," he offered.  "That's rum."

"Decent."  John paid for their beers and Xander's drink, and they went back to a table to relax.  The yelling at the boxing match was amusing but Xander really wanted to relax.

"Why is it that you only fully relax in the noisiest of places?" Rodney asked him.

"Because people who traipse through the woods know that it's only silent when something that shouldn't happen is going to," John said, staring at the kid, who nodded, sipping his drink.  "So silence equals a bad thing."

"Usually an attack.  The patrol stuff was the same way.  The birds got silent when they were around.  Buffy hardly ever quit babbling about something or quipping as she fought, but the birds and crickets usually shut up when things started to go badly."

"I'd expect that with their...problems.  Their unnaturalness must have bothered them."  Xander nodded, taking another drink.  "Have you ever considered therapy?"

"Yes and then I realized if I did that, they might decide my past made me super bad."  He finished his drink.  "I doubt they'd let me have my laptop in the nut house and my little demented muses might run from the drugs."

"I've seen things online about muses being bunnies," John said.

Rodney gave him a horrified look.  "What *are* you reading?" he demanded.

"Not me."  He took a big gulp of his lager.  "A certain Marine from Nebraska," he started, making Rodney groan.  He knew who he was talking about.  "He has a friend who helps him keep track of things he's reading online.  Including Wormhole X-treme stories."

Xander smirked.  "I used to like that show but I hated how they ended it.  After the third season the characters got really plastic and unrealistic.  Buffy thought they were cute though."

"Did you know about that stuff they write online?" John asked.

"Yeah, Willow used to write it based on that show with the really young doc."  He smirked.

"He decided he was going to read over lunch.  In the mess," John told Rodney.  "Guess who walked behind him."

"Tey...."  Rodney trailed off so he wouldn't say her whole name.

John nodded.  "Her curiosity made her read over his shoulder for a minute.  Of course, when she got confused she didn't ask him.  We spent a delightful hour in my office with me explaining that stuff to her.  Including the thoughtful concept of Mpreg."  He finished his beer and waved the waitress over, paying for the next round too.  "His too," he said, with a nod at Xander's empty glass.

"Mai tai please," he said with a smile.  "We've had a crappy day."

"I can tell, boys."  She walked off to get their drinks, bringing them back.  "Here you go."  She walked off again.

"How did she take it?" Rodney asked.  "And does she know who it's based off of?"

"She does now.  She left the office with that pinched look that she gets sometimes."

"The nun in the strip club look," Rodney said, getting a smirk and a nod back.  He groaned.  "How did demented rabbits get into it?"

"Plot bunnies," Xander said.  "Like muses only with twitchy tails and noses.  It's one reason why Anya believed rabbits were evil."

Rodney burst out laughing.  "She was...was her and she was scared of rabbits?" he laughed.

"Yeah."  He smirked.  "Willow's got one to frogs.  By the way, yes, Willow can take that thought provoking subject and make it a reality.  She did for a friend's dog."  He sipped his new drink.

John held up a hand.  "Don't share, Xander.  Please?"

"Sure."  He grinned.  "How did she like it after that talk?"

"I told her to ask him.  Then I told him if I caught him reading it in public and had to explain that to someone else, he'd have a month of KP duties and I'd break his laptop on him.  He stammered but she did sit down to ask him questions about it.  Yes, he knew who they were based off of.  Apparently there's a hotly traveled underground for their stuff on the base."  Xander smirked at that.  "You know who they're based on?"

"Yeah and I know the demon equivalent.  It's much more interesting to see certain people squidd'd and tentacled."

"Eww," Rodney complained.  "That's a thought I didn't need."

"Especially since the stuff I found was you two?" Xander suggested.  Rodney ran for the bathroom.  "Sorry," he called after him.

"They are?" John asked, looking upset.

"Yeah.  They think his brain's so big he must be partially a demon.  They all think you like tentacles or you may be from a compatible species."

John shook his head.  "I do not want to see any of that on base."

"Not my doing."

"True.  I'll make sure that guy doesn't find those."  Xander took a napkin and his signing pen, handing him the address he wrote out.  "I'll lock that server out of ours.  Thanks, kid."  He put it into his pocket.  "How is our itinerary in Germany?"

"Get in, day free,  short signing in Berlin, move south that night via car or something.  They're supposed to pick us up.  Signing the next afternoon, then rest overnight, then a day and a half free but some traveling to the newest site that they're finalizing times on, an overnight there, then we move on late the next night on a redeye."

John nodded.  "Some time to sightsee but nothing too loose," he decided.

"I asked for them to not make it too tight and to give us some time to sightsee and relax since this is my first time over here.  That and I was worried about missed connections with all the stories about airline delays."  He frowned and patted himself down.  "I had my passport earlier.  I hope I dropped it in my room."

"If not, they're being very sneaky to help you stay available," he warned.

"I have a backup copy at home," he promised with a smirk.  "Tara can send it if I can't find it later."  John nodded at that, smiling some.  "Is he okay?"

"Probably."  He went to check.  Rodney was still puking.  This wasn't I'm disgusted puking either.  "Hey," he said, moving closer to him.  "Did you get drugged?"  He nodded between heaves.  He looked out at Xander but the kid wasn't at the table.  Or the bar.  Or in the middle of the crowd around the tv.  "Let me find him."  He walked out.

Xander was with the waitress who said she wanted him to sign something for their wall.  All the famous and semi-famous people did it.  He was staring at the banner and had pulled out his pen but John stopped him.  "What's wrong with Rodney?"

"He's not sure," he lied.

"Huh."  Xander looked at her.  "How about over here where there's no wires?"  She gave him a horrified look.  He signed it on the edge and smiled.  "Give the center spot to someone more famous."  He walked back to the table, sniffing Rodney's drink.  "That's annoying.  Who put lemon in it?"  John groaned, going to make sure Rodney had taken his epi pen shot.  Xander sat down, back to the wall while he watched the crowd.  Xander sniffed his own drink before taking a sip.  He saw the triumphant look and smiled, waving that waitress/assassin/watcher over.  "You do know that I'm immune to most poisons, right?  And that the mermaid taint means that no drug works right on me?" he asked quietly.  She stomped off.  He smirked, texting the nice Inspector about the bomb under that banner.  A few cops came in while he was waiting.  They looked at the banner and took it down, showing the bartender/owner, who hissed.  They had a short talk and the cops left with it.  The bartender came over.  "I noticed the wires," he told him.

"Your friend okay?"

"Someone put lemon zest in his beer and he's allergic," Xander said.  "He'll be fine I'm sure.  He probably has an epi pen."

The bartender looked relieved.  "I don't know who did this."

Xander waved a hand.  "It's cool.  I had someone who hated that I write demon hunters, dude.  They wanted to shoot me for making the demons noticeable.   Beyond that, I'm used to the weird and deadly; I tend to date it."  The man burst out laughing at that.  "Here, have Rodney's drink."  He handed it over.  "You should probably rinse mine pretty good too."  He handed that over.

"Thanks for not complaining, sir."

He smiled.  "Why would I complain?  I love the food here.  Your staff is nice and I doubt whoever did this is on your staff."  The man walked off smiling.   Xander finished John's beer on him, tasting the small sedative.  He went into the bathroom, washing his hands.  "The nice officers took care of the small explosive device," he told John.  "Your new beer had a sedative."  John growled.  "Mine had a drug I'm not sure of but I know it won't work right due to past biological exposures.  Can we get him back to the hotel?"

"Yeah, we can.  He's taken his allergy shot."

"Cool.  It's probably going to make him sleepy.  Want me to get a cab?"

"I will.  You stay with him."

"Sure."  Xander helped Rodney up.  "C'mon.  I make a good crutch."

"I'm fine."

"I know.  Still, being that pukey isn't good for your balance."  He walked him out, yawning a bit before they got to the cab.   John got Rodney in, then him, then got into the rear facing jump seat.  They went back to the hotel.  Xander went to his room and collapsed.  The sedative worked well even if the other stuff didn't.

John got Rodney settled and went to check on the kid.  He checked his pulse.  Still there.  "Must've found the sedative in mine," he decided.  He hooked up the memory copying machine.  If it wasn't a good copy, he'd try again once they got to Germany.  When the boy was rested, not drugged, and in less of a snit to protect them.  He'd have to talk to him about that.  He sat down at the desk, putting his feet up while he watched the machine and read the current thing on the boy's laptop.  It wasn't bad, even for not being edited.  He itched to fix a few things and eventually did fix a few typos but otherwise it was good.  Very good.  A bit insane but he was sure the DCIS world was like that anyway.  The machine beeped quietly so he got up to remove the leads from the boy's head.  Rodney could check the copy in the morning while he and the boy went on the tour.


Rodney looked up once their flight was in the air.  "It's full of psychidelic images," he said quietly.

"He was knocked out last night."

"I'm only reading," Xander muttered.  "You can talk to me instead of around me unless it's classified, and then I can get the telepathy spell from Tara or Willow if you need it."

"I know some who'd want that for team things if they could get it to work for them," Rodney said sarcastically.

"It'd make saving yourself easier."  He shut Xander's laptop on him, getting a dirty look.  "Why were you so sure that whatever was in my glass wouldn't hurt you?"

Xander sighed.  "Biological contamination back in high school."

"That answers exactly nothing," John told him smugly.

"Did you hear about the pretty Doc needing more swabs for a DNA anomaly?"

John shook his head but Rodney nodded quickly.  "That was yours?  She forwarded some since we have more geneticists on our project."

"Yup, taken when I had that broken rib and started to bleed internally.  The stick-up-her-butt Sam you guys have took it after they drained that excess energy from me," he said quietly.

"I doubt she likes that comparison," John told him.

"The other one was more fun," he defended.  "She laughed and played with the girls, all that stuff.  She even helped Doctor Z. tease the cooing, cuddly show in the lab."

"In the lab?" Rodney demanded quietly, looking horrified.  "My lab?"

"Her lab," Xander corrected.  "Though I think one picture might've been from your lab with a santa hat.  They told me how they did a secret santa thing one year."

"It sounds like they care for those around them," John decided.  "How, exactly, did that anomaly and the energy happen?"

Xander opened his laptop again, getting into a file.  He handed him the laptop.  John settled in to read and Xander pulled out his normal book to read.  Rodney was muttering so he handed him one he had picked up for him.

"Hawkings?" he said, looking at the title.  "They updated it.  Thank you, Xander."

"Figured you might not have gotten the updated one."  He shrugged.  "You guys all have to do the keeping updated thing I guess."  He smiled.  "It'll keep you from being bored when you're at that meeting tomorrow."

"Don't remind me," he complained.

"What meeting?" John asked, looking up at him.

"The *Board* wants to meet at the Nobel Institute tomorrow.  They said I could sightsee there since I'd never get to publish and see it the normal way."

"That's really cruel of them," Xander complained.  "Are they my ex's cheerleader sheep?"

"A few are women so they might be some of your other exes," John told him.

"No, none of my exes would be working on that sort of board.  Wall Street to ruin millions of lives as I found out but not on something scientific.  That might bring benefit to people."  He looked at Rodney.  "Why can't you publish stuff that's been dumbed down for the normal geniuses?"

"My contract said they have to approve of it," he said dryly.

"And you bringing science higher and more people to the field who can handle the unique needs instead of having to train them later on from the lesser genius levels wouldn't help them and you guys?"

"I have pointed that out.  They said it's a problem if people build upon my work and then they might find out."

"Then you recruit heavily, like the CIA does some of the lesser psychos for assassin duty.  I'm sure they do it in other cases."

"One genetic anomaly," John admitted.  He glanced around them but no one was paying any attention to them.  He looked at the kid again.  "We can't conscript."

"No but you can give them a better offer and I'm guessing most geeks would rather have their ideas proved than to have money and have to take themselves out of their bellybuttons to teach.  'Cause all geeks have that thinking through their buttholes problem sometime."

"Yes, I get to yell when the ones around me do that," Rodney said sarcastically, smirking at the boy.

"Then who yells at you?" Xander asked him.  John waved a hand with a smirk.  "Cool.  So maybe that story was right?"

"Don't make me beat you," Rodney warned.  Xander just smirked.  "He's the one who gets all the women on the base.  Not me."

"Pity.  Then again, I could come up and we'd find all the enemies faster," Xander offered.  He pulled something out of his bag, handing it over to him with a smile.  "Tell them I'm not that sort of smart and I'd blow up their minds for it.  Please?"

Rodney opened the letter, reading it.  "They can't do that for this."  He let John read it.

"I'll warn the Generals when we land," John said, putting it into his inner jacket pocket.  "Kid, how did you get into these situations?" he asked.

Xander shrugged.  "My town was like that.  Wait until you hear about the last thanksgiving we had in town."

John did a word search and found it, staring at the journal entry.  He read it a few times, then let Rodney read it so he could look at the kid.  "They did what?" he asked quietly.

Xander shrugged.  "I have no idea how.  It seems that things like that happen to me."

"Can they find it?"

"Ask the pretty doctor.  She never mentioned if she was looking at that infection."

John gave him a stare.  "What happens if they can and someone tries?"

Xander shrugged.  "I kick their asses?" he muttered.  "Then I run away?"

"Yeah, like that'll work on some of them.  Have we thought about preventative measures?"

"Yeah, but I have my friends to get me into dangerous situations every single spring."

John moaned, rubbing his head, leaning back in his seat.  "So not the point, kid."

"It's fine."

Rodney looked at him.  "I'll call once we land," he assured John.  "You couldn't tell us?"

"I didn't think it'd matter?  I got better."

Rodney shifted, staring at him.  "Change with me, John."  They changed seats and Rodney explained how you distilled a virus from someone's blood when they had it.  Xander groaned, rubbing his forehead.  "So, we're rightly worried since you had that disease."

"It only made me sick for a few hours."

"It may not matter," John told him.

Xander shrugged.  "How would I know?  I'm science stupid, guys.  Really."

Rodney patted him on the head.  "Even chimps can be taught.  You're not that bad."

Xander stared at him.  "I blew up our chemistry lab without it being a chemical mixy day."

"That takes skill," Rodney said.  "How did you do that?"

"They wanted us to freeze our snails after we had dissected them.  The liquid nitrogen my partner was trying to hit me with hit the chemicals.  I got blamed because I ducked the severe cold burns."

"That's not your fault, it's his."

"They said it was mine."

"They're morons," Rodney said.

"Well, technically, he was at grad," he muttered.  "Now he's kinda post-kibble wherever they took the Mayor."

Rodney shuddered.  "Is there any video of it?"

"There's a Society to Preserve the Memories of Our Beloved Mayor," Xander said dryly, giving him a look.  "They confiscated it.  It's possible the FBI has the investigative tapes.  The guy who I turned that cult into had some."

"I'll email him as well," he decided.  They hit a patch of turbulence and he gripped the arms of the seat.  "You do this so much better," he told John.

"Yeah, well, my planes have always been smaller too."  He looked at the kid.  "You okay?"

"I've only flown a few times but I seem to know about turbulence.  I took bromine too."

"Good idea," he agreed.  "Tighten your belt."  Xander did that.  They rode out the storm below them and it was nicer.  "Okay."  He looked at the kid, who was a bit pale but not showing any other signs of air sickness.  "Get a soda?" he suggested quietly.

"No thanks."  He tipped his chair back the few inches it could go.  Rodney gave him a look.  "Wake me up when we get there?"

"Of course."  Rodney waited until the kid was snoring to look at his teammate.  "Well."

"Why would his chemistry class be dissecting snails?"

"I have no earthly idea," Rodney said grimly.  "Or in any other galaxy."  John snickered quietly.  "We'll have to tell Doctor Lam about that."

"It'll be fine."

"Did you have fun watching the machine run last night?"

"Loads," he said dryly.  "I read the new one he was working on too."

"Any good?"

"DCIS is very strange and exciting."

"Ah."  He relaxed and got his own drink.  He could use some coffee.  The stewardess looked familiar.  He stared at her.  "Didn't we see you at the pub?" he asked her.  She blanched and left.

John sipped his coffee, shaking his head.  "Orange."

"Charming.  Have it."

"Thanks."  John sipped it.  At least this one wasn't drugged.  He could stand orange mocha coffee.  Xander snorted and whimpered, shifting some.  "Get him."

"No nightmares," Rodney ordered, shaking him.  Xander woke with a flinch.  "Nightmares?" he asked bluntly.

"Yeah, a few.  Thanks."  He flipped onto his side and went back to sleep.  He didn't want to think about Glory's fight today.  He was going to get to sightsee a whole new city later on.

John stared at him.  "He didn't have those last night," he said quietly.

"He had your sedative-laced beer."

"True."  He finished his coffee and smiled his most charming smile at the nearest stewardess.  "Can we both have some water and him a coffee?"  She nodded, going to get it for him.  "Thank you," he said with a smile, getting one and a wink back.  She went to check on some other people.

Another one walked past a minute later.  "Can we move him back into his seat?" she asked.

"We can try," Rodney said, putting a hand on the boy's arm.  He got a growl.  "Xander."  The boy flipped in the other direction.  He nuzzled into Rodney's side, earning him a dirty look.  "Thank you."

"Well, he said he liked them snarky, mean, and only slightly evil in guys," John quipped.  Rodney hit him on the arm.  The stewardess smiled at their playing.

Rodney gave the boy another nudge, making him flip back to the other side and purr.  The woman across from them smiled at them.  "He's single."

"I know."  She held up her badge.  "What are you two doing here?"

"Guarding him," John said.  "You?"

"Going to a meeting tomorrow."

Rodney stared at her.  "Good luck with that."

"He's adorable."

"He dates psychos," John offered.  "We can let him find you one."

"Why ruin a working vacation with the evils of paperwork?' she taunted.  She opened her magazine and got back into it.  She'd ignore the purring at her.  Apparently he liked dangerous women and she suited him.  The stewardess came back but right about then they hit a patch of turbulence and Xander fell out of his seat.  He nuzzled up to the agent's bag and petted her service weapon.  She giggled but John moaned, getting up to get the kid back awake and into his seat.

Rodney watched and smirked at him for that move.  It was genius of the boy if he had planned it.


Rodney got off the phone with their main base and looked at the two waiting people.  "She said she could, did, and they thought about installing something but that they couldn't without his authority."

"I have apocalypse season for that," Xander said bluntly.  "Until then, I can kick some butt."

John shook his head.  "You're not going anywhere unescorted."

"Sure, I'm going clubbing tonight.  You can come watch me hit on women."  He shrugged and grabbed his bags again.  "Can we go?"  They nodded, heading for the exits.  Their driver was waiting on them.  "Why do I rate a driver?" Xander asked him.

"Your agent said it would cut down on the problems, sir."

"Cool.  Am I paying you or is she?"

"She is.  She said it was necessary since you ended up having so many problems getting around in London."

Xander smiled.  "It's cool.  I got lost in some touristy areas.  But I won't turn down a ride to the hotel."  He nodded, letting them inside so he could take them off.  He looked around.  "Wow, wasn't this used in a Bond movie?"

"I think it was this make and model," John said, looking at the backseat.  He nudged Rodney and pointed at an access hatch.  He looked at it while Xander stared around them like Berlin was a toy store at Christmas.  John was liking the city's views too.  It was very pretty.  When the small nozzle came out, Xander spit out his gum and nudged Rodney to take it.  Rodney plugged the nozzle.  John rolled down the window.  Yeah, it was just like home sometimes.  The driver finally got them to their hotel when Rodney complained about needing to sleep from the trip instead of sightseeing.  They went inside and settled into their room.  John took Xander's bug detector to run over the room.  Rodney got online to check in with their main base.  Xander called his agent to talk to her about their driver.

Then they could rest and go find trouble later.


It was their last day in Germany.   It was a pretty but slightly chilly day.  Very sunny.  He and John had went sightseeing before the signing they had in about a half hour while Rodney had checked the latest copy of the brain scan machine.  Xander paused, listening around.  "John," he said, stopping him.  John stared at him.  "Hear that?"

He looked around, listening.  "Someone in pain."  They walked up the street and Xander spotted her in an alley.  "Ma'am," John said.  "Are you all right?"

Xander moved carefully closer.  "I'm American, are you okay?" he asked.  She bit her lip and shook her head.  "Speak English?"  She nodded, staring at him.  "Did someone mug you?"

"No!" she said, letting out a scream at the end.

"Oh, shit, you're in labor," Xander said.  He looked at John, who had the local emergency numbers.  "Okay..... um.  Well, I've had some field medic classes but I don't remember anything on this," he said, making her cry.  "Shh.  We'll do what we can until help gets here."  He looked around.  "John, what shops are around?"

"Closed," he said.  He looked across the street.  "The emergency number's still busy, Xander.  They said the towers and lines were down after that storm last night."

"Shit!"  He looked at her, smiling some.  "So we'll handle it.  Flag down a cop or something."

"I can help."

"Ever done this?"


"I can do basic medical things like stitching."  Xander looked at him.  "Go flag down someone."  He went to do that.  Xander looked at her. "I'm good enough to stitch wounds, I can help you.  I'm told that mothers mostly know what they're doing, even though I've never seen more than a delivery on the discovery channel."  She let out a bitter laugh.  "Did you take lamaze or anything?"  She shook her head.  "Okay.  Well...  I'm thinking practical here.  I don't want to do this, but the baby probably doesn't want to come out inside the pantyhose.  You're not my usual sort of girl because you're not evil so I'm not going to grope or anything, all right?"

She nodded.  "Please," she gasped, grabbing his arms.  "Ow."

"I know.   I saw that it hurt even the elephant and giraffe mommies."  She let out a laugh.  "We'll get this and pray like hell to each and every God and Goddess that help gets here soon."  She nodded frantically.  "Um.  Your stomach is rippling."

"I need to push," she panted.

"Okay.  I can do this."  He got her stripped, using her skirt to cover her groin region so he didn't have to look too much.  He didn't want to seem like he was staring.   That would be really rude and awkward if she thought he was hitting on her in the middle of her delivery.  "So, married?  Come here often?" he quipped, making her laugh.  "Sorry, trying to break the tension because I can see hair.  John!  I can see hair!"  He bit his lip, looking up at her.  "You ready to be called Mommy and have a teenager in thirteen years?"

"No, but it's not going to be so bad."

"Hey, if it's a girl, you can make sure never does this," he teased.

She shook her head.  "He'd better not!"  She let out a scream, clawing up his arms.

"John, she needs some hand holding."  He came jogging back to help.  "Okay.  I see really a whole lot of hair," he told her.  "I'm hoping that's her head."  The mother laughed, nodding.  "Okay.  Let me....let me try to catch her.  I'm not groping," he assured her.

"Ow," she told John.  "You're very calm."

"I'm a pilot.  This is nothing compared to crash training," he assured her.  "Just breathe.  They all say to breathe when they show it on tv."  She nodded, panting while Xander was helping the baby out.

"Push," Xander ordered.  "It's a bit stuck."  She grunted and pushed.  He'd ignore the nasty stuff coming out.  Someone came jogging.  "Rodney, go be annoying and get us someone more qualified unless you can deliver babies!" he shouted when he spotted him.

"How do you two get into these situations!" he shouted, going to find someone, anyone, who could help them before the two idiots in there lost what was left of their minds.  He saw an officer and flagged him down.  "We have a woman in labor," he told him.  He said something in German, looking confused.  Rodney hauled him out of the car and to the alley, pointing.   He called in through his radio, coming to help.  "He only speaks German!" he shouted.  He stayed where he was.  He did not want to witness the supposed miracle of childbirth or the nastiness that followed.

Xander looked up at her.  "Translate?"  She said something to him.  "I need to know what to do with the cord."  He lifted the baby up.  "One chilly, slightly blue baby."  The cop nudged him and handed him his cellphone.  "English?" he asked plaintively.  "Please?"  He listened.  "He's out, I need to cut the cord, he's a bit blue and it's freezing out here."  He looked at John.  "Anything that can act as a clamp or a tourniquet?  They're saying shoe laces, anything?"

"Tie clip," he said, taking it off and offering it to him.

Xander used it to clamp off on the baby's side.  Then he pulled his knife, cutting right above it.  "Okay, he's free."  He handed John the knife.  "Clean that for me."  He swept the baby's mouth and breathed like they had taught him in CPR.  He did it again when the baby didn't cry.  This time he got screamed at.  He relaxed.  "Okay, we're breathing."  He took off his jacket to wrap the baby in.  The mother took him gently.  "There you go."  He listened.  "Um...  Yes, the nastiness is coming out in a huge lump of flesh.  Why?"  He nodded, easing it out.  "Okay."  He put it on her panties and pantyhose.  "Okay.  How soon?"  He handed the phone back because they needed an address to send the ambulance to.  Xander looked at himself then grimaced.  "I need to change."  The mother laughed, crying on her baby.  "You two will be fine," he promised gently, covering her better now.  "He's getting you an ambulance."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."  He smiled.  "I hope he's really healthy and all that.  That he's a good credit to your family."  He stood up, trying to wipe his hands off.  "Now that I know how to do this, I'll have to reread that section."  She laughed.  "Not like any of my friends have had kids.  If they did, I figured I'd have enough time to read up on it in case this happened."  He looked at her.  "I'm going to leave you with the officer, all right?"

"Thank you.  What's your name?"

"Me?  I'm an Alexander and this is a John."  He smiled.  "You have a happy time."  He walked out, finding Rodney giving them horrified looks.  "Not my fault," he complained.

"Only you two can get into those situations," he said bluntly.  The officer laughed when the person on the phone told him he had said that.  "You're late."

"Crap."  He looked around and said the name of the bookstore to the officer, who pointed.  "All yours."  He walked off, John following.  He wasn't as disgusting, only gotten some things on him from the alley.  Xander saw the line out front and winced.  "Back entrance," he muttered.  He saw someone looking his way.  "Paula!"  She glared at him.  Then she gaped in horror.  "Long story!"

"Tell me you didn't get injured," she ordered, stomping over.

"No, I just delivered a baby."  She slumped, shaking her head, muttering about owing someone money.  "Rodney, I've got a bag in the car.  Is there a bathroom inside I can clean up in?" he asked her.

"Yes but I don't want you going in there looking like that."

"Do they have a back door?" John asked.

"Beyond the fence," she said with a point.

"Good deal," Xander agreed.  He jogged that way and hopped up onto a dumpster to grab the top of the fence.  The sticky, slick blood wasn't helping but that was fine.  He slid down the other side, narrowly missing the trash cans.  The worker out there gave him a horrified look.  "Hi, just delivered a baby.  Can I clean up before I sign books?  I'm Alexian Harris."

"Yes, sir, this way," she said, leading him to the bathroom.  She went to tell the manager, who Paula was telling.  He had seemed very calm to her, which wasn't what she expected of a fiction writer.

John looked at the gathered fans.  "Mr. Harris was just helping a young woman who was having a medical problem.  He needs to clean up and change clothes," he said firmly.  "Give him about twenty more minutes please?"  The crowd calmed down.  The other authors gave him the funniest looks.  "The woman was delivering," he said quietly.

"Only him," one of them muttered.

Rodney came in and handed Paula the bag.  She went to dress Xander.  Even if she wasn't impressed with his normal people clothes.

Xander came out in a t-shirt and jeans, boots, and no ugly overshirt this time.  He sat down and smiled at the soda waiting on him.  "Sorry, it was unavoidable," he told his fans.  They cheered.  "Who's first for me?"  They surged forward and helped him.

John got called out to the front of the store, taking his tie clip back from the officer and his partner.  "Thank you."

"She'll be fine.  The paramedics said she'll be okay," his partner told him.

"Thank you.  He'll be happy to know that."

"Who is he?" the partner translated.  "For our report."

John smiled, handing over his Air Force ID.  "He's Alexian Harris."  The officers nodded and wrote that out.  He had to deny he was a helpful boyfriend by telling them about the death threats and being a bodyguard.  They nodded, understanding that need.  John signed off on the report and they left.  John put the bagged tie clip into his pocket.  Rodney looked at him.  "The report," he said quietly.  Paula stared at him.  "Colonel John Sheppard."

"I heard."  She shook his hand.  "Baby?"

"Yes.  Little boy.  The paramedics said he's going to be okay."

She nodded.  "Are you a trouble magnet like him?"

"No.  Not hardly."  She relaxed.  "We were sightseeing."

"Things like that happen around Xander," she assured him.  "Are you staying during the rest of the tour?"

"I haven't discussed that yet, ma'am."

"Do so tonight.  You've been good to and with him.  He's not moping about having no one to babble at."  She walked off to hand Xander another pen.  He favored one brand for signing.  It kept his hand from cramping.  He smiled at her.  She moved out of the way.  Some of his fans were the panting, bosom heaving sorts who wanted to throw themselves at him.

Xander looked up after an hour, smiling at his next fan.  "Hi.  Who do I make it out to?"

"Your wife."

"No, I'm not married, miss."

"Yes you are!  Say you are!" she demanded, pulling a knife.

Rodney nudged John where he was talking to a cute coed.  He pointed.  John walked over and pulled her away from the table.  Rodney took the knife and Xander sighed, looking unhappy.  "It's not like you usually draw psychos," Rodney taunted.

"My usual sort aren't that insistent to me."

"Is that why they try to kill you?" Rodney asked.

"Yup."  He smiled at the next one.  "You're not that mean, right?" he asked, smiling at her.

"I'd stop with a hug."  He let her hug him and take a picture then he signed her book.  The rest were happier with it.  That one looked at John.  "His boyfriend?"

"No, his bodyguard," he said with a smile.  "I'm single, miss."

"Aww."  She pinched him on the cheek and left.

Rodney looked at him.  "Can you never stop flirting?"

"I wasn't flirting."

"Sure you weren't."

"Boys," Paula complained.

John smirked at her.  "Not quite."

She huffed over to Xander, getting him another drink.  "That way you can babble at people."

He pulled her down to hug her.  "I'm sorry I was late and worried you."  He smiled at the pouting fans.  "My agent Paula.  She was worried about me."  They cooed and he took the next fan's book.  "Who should I sign it to?" he asked.  She frowned.  He repeated it in German.  He had learned that phrase in each of the countries they were going to visit.  That way his fans wouldn't pout.  It was good to get back into normal things.  Threats, bad girls, and insanity was much more his style than child birth and crazy fans.


John was beamed back to General Landry's office, saluting him.  "Sir."

"We got the memories from the machine, Colonel.  It couldn't get any clearer?"

"That was after six tries, sir."

"Oh.  I see."  He looked him over.  "Going to dinner?"

"His fans are slightly insane.  He had two today who wanted him to kidnap them like a pirate."

"I thought he wrote elves," Cam Mitchell said from his spot on the filing cabinet.

"He does.  Plus the new DCIS series."  He gave him a look.  "That was after the baby delivery earlier."

"Someone gave him theirs?" Landry guessed.  Jack had said the kid was like a younger him sometimes and that might happen to him.

"No, we were on our way to the signing after some very mild sightseeing and ran into a woman in labor in an alleyway.  Their 911 wasn't working."

"Oh, damn," Cam muttered.

"I only let her claw up my arms."  He looked at the general.  "Do you want McKay to try again?  Xander's not against it.  He has had the kid drawing out the ones he knows and sees most clearly each night."

"I've gotten those," General Landry said, smiling at him.  "Relax."

"He's probably talking McKay into going to a club.  Where he'll have sex in a bathroom with a girl that I'd be worried had weapons, nearly get taken by her and at least one other person, and then we'd have to deal with it before we leave late tonight."

Landry moaned.  "Is he really that much trouble?"

"It's nothing he does.  Honestly, it's nothing he's done.  Now and then he's a bit squee-ish."

"Squee-ish?" Landry asked.

"As he taught us, that squeal fangirls make is called a squee.  We ran into one of his favorite authors and he went totally bouncy fanboy on him.  Even McKay had to smile at that.  The author gushed back about the new series."

Cam snickered.  "Sounds like fun."

"Honestly, the kid's a good kid.  He's good on following orders, protecting himself, taking precautions.  He's a smart boy that has minimal training."  He looked at them, shrugging.  "But sometimes the girls he attracts, they're evil.  I've handed two to police for trying to stab him after sex.  A few that tried at signings.  When we got drugged one night due to that contract out on him, he helped us and passed out once we got back to the hotel rooms.  It's not a hard job."

"How many more schematics does he have stashed in his head?" Landry asked.

"We could be doing this for years."  He sighed, sitting down.  "Did you get the dossier on the memories he sucked up that halloween?"

"O'Neill got it for me," Landry said.  "He said he trained him."

"Xander's memories from that night have ...according to McKay they're integrated but not fully like they're his."  They nodded.  "That included tactics, artillery, weapons skills.  He's good at taking his own precautions, but sometimes he's twenty-one and he gets caught up in things."

"Which I'd expect at his age," Landry said.  "McKay said he was more like a kid between you and O'Neill."

"Don't suggest that out loud, sir.  We found out his friend Rosenburg can do that.  We got into a talk about a certain Marine's fanfiction habit.  Xander explained how plot bunnies worked to McKay, who's had nightmares about them since that talk.  It came out she had helped out a friend with a male dog to have puppies."  He shuddered.  Cam curled up and shuddered.  "He's so very warped at times, but then others he's twenty-one, trying hard to not enjoy all the fame so it can't go to his head and out his past."

"So you want to stay?" Cam asked him.

"If not, someone's going to have to make sure the heiress in Hong Kong who wants him can't kidnap him.  Oh, and we've run into the Council on two flights, and a few other places.  They know enough to try to dose Rodney with something citrus, me with a sedative, and him with stuff that never seems to work on him."

"It has a few times," Cam warned him.  "McKay sent back blood each time."  He handed over the stack of reports.  "Also, we heard rumors that the Council got attacked."

"We heard that and Xander retired to cackle but he claims he didn't ask."

"He didn't.  Tara got a bit pissed and sicced some of his poker buddies on them."  He shifted.  "She seems very sweet but she got upset and protective.  She spent the next day crying on her aunt's shoulder because she had to be mean."

"I'll tell him that so he can calm her down."  He stretched.  "I don't know, sir."

"Do you want to continue to debrief him further?"

"I've been ducking that rumor for weeks," he said dryly.  "Oh, we need to black out a web domain from both servers, sir."  He dug it out and handed it over.  "Demon fiction.  They like to make believe McKay is a higher demon and I'm either a compatible sort or I like tentacles."

"What?" he asked, looking confused.

"Like that fanfiction underground?" Cam asked.

"Yes, and you and I end up being the same species when they make us demons.   They like you to be the stud of this base."   He smirked at him.  "How are O'Neill, Jackson, Vala, Carter, Lam, and the little geekette in Botany?"

"Eww," Cam said, shaking his head quickly.  "Please block that out, sir."

"Before I have to explain this sort of fanfiction to Teyla," John finished.

"Has anyone we know read it?" Cam pouted.

"McKay couldn't sleep a few nights back so he investigated.  Our supposed species is very dominant and likes to shove our mates into walls to have fast, dirty fun.  According to them, Vala is nearly in heat weekly."  He smirked at him.

"She's pouting because she wants Harris back," he shot back.

"I wouldn't have to worry about her killing him.  Probably?"

"Probably not," he agreed.  "Please block that, sir, before Jackson or O'Neill run into it?"

"Too late on Jackson's part.  McKay found out he had reviewed one about how unlikely the sex was because that hallway was monitored by ten cameras."

"One of the ones here is writing this?" General Landry asked.

"No, not that he could find.  Ask Jackson, sir," Sheppard said with a smile.

Landry looked out to his assistant.  "Tell Jackson I want to know if the writer of the demon story he reviewed is on this base."  He looked at the two troublesome colonels under him again.  "I'll have it blocked."

"Thank you, sir.  I don't want to give anyone any more thoughts," Cam complained.

"Especially that one geekette in botany?" John guessed.

"Especially her, yeah.  How...."

He shrugged.  "Someone told Ronon."

"Why did someone tell your teammate, the big, grunting, warrior with too many weapons, that the botanist had a crush on me?"

"I think she requested a transfer and it was a warning that she might try to flirt with him."

"Hey, if you want...."

"No," Landry said.  "She withdrew it."


Sheppard smirked at him.  "Want to come to Hong Kong?  We've got a problem heiress who's threatened to steal him if she can't have him for dinner."

"Is she a cannibal?" he countered.

"We don't know but she's one of those supposed celebrities who's famous because she's rich and can't figure out that Victoria's Secret sells panties as well as the trashy lingerie or push up bras."


"Two cats.  Siamese."

"Oh, her.  I saw her picture the other day on something I was trying to kill time by reading."

"I've denied being his tolerant, spoiling boyfriend.  You could do that and save him a lot of problems."

"That would get back to my ladies.  They'd be horribly disappointed."

"It's that or I've got to offer up McKay, who might be his type but Xander said to find him a more action oriented guy like him since he's too smart for him."

"What about all those evil girls of his?" Cam asked.  "Did they finally make him decide to switch?"

"He's been bi.  His agent told us to please find him someone to cover before she got pissed at him and tries to openly kill him.  Though, she was very drunk the night after we delivered that baby."  He shifted.  "Did McKay note that he stitched his own side?"

"Yup," Landry said dryly.  "Is it healing all right?"

"Yes.  We think.  He won't let us check it for him."

"So he's more stubborn than you both are?"

"Combined, sir.  Us, O'Neill, Jackson, and Ronon combined."

"Understood.  Do you want to continue?"

"If not,  we need to help him find someone who will go places with him, listen to him gush about what he saw, and remind him to eat.  I wouldn't trust anyone not military trained.  There's no telling who'd try to keep the kid.  Speaking of, we had to tell him about how we could distill possible biological weapons from his blood."  Landry shuddered.  "Also, sir, McKay and I got to not only tell the IOA off for their shitty problem calling a meeting at the Nobel Institute because Rodney might never see it the regular way, but also for trying to claim the boy.  They're having a little problem in the press."  Landry shuddered.

"We were wondering about that," Cam said, smirking at him.  "Good job!"

"They pissed him off, they pissed McKay off, and then they pissed me off so I refined the kid's plans.  They're going to be very sorry."

Cam cackled.  "That's so evil."

Daniel knocked and walked in.  "What's going on?"

"The IOA tried to humiliate and hurt McKay, and then tried to claim the boy's allegiance."

"Is the writer of that story that has me and him as demons on this base?" Cam asked.

"No.  He's the little brother of one of the cooks.  She told him to reimagine his setting.  Apparently he's a seer and has seen us working now and then.  John, how's Xander?"

"He's okay we think.  He won't let us check his wounds.  We ended up delivering a baby the other day before a signing.  He's got some heiress in Hong Kong who wants to kidnap and keep him.  Do we have any idea why we get the funny images from the copier?"

"Yes.  He's absorbing any past memories that're left in there."  He sat down.  "We noticed one of the schematics got mixed up with something Cam had done."  Cam moaned.  "We've cleaned it of everything in the memory banks and sent it back to Rodney."

Sheppard smiled.  "Thank you."


"Will he keep those?" Cam asked.

"No, they appear to have not stuck.  He's only gotten yours once.  Or at least it's only shown up once.  Sam's fascinated at the problem he's having."

"I doubt he'd let her test him," John said.  "Unless she wants to come play a supposed girlfriend to keep the heiress away from him."

"That bad?" Daniel asked.

"The one with the cats in the papers the other day," Cam told him.

"She's been talking about leash training him like she does the cats and sent him some panties she said she wore in a photo op.  He had McKay's help writing the letter back so it was brusque and not fully insulting but enough to drive her off," John told them.

"Permission to stay until the end of the signing, Colonel.  Are we foreseeing more attempts on his life in Asia?"

"Yes.  That supposed stewardess is probably going to show back up.  She keeps getting away before we can have her arrested."  His phone rang.  He looked at it.  "There's no way I'm getting a cellphone signal down here."  He answered it.  "Yeah?"  He smiled.  "Hi, Tara.  I figured it had to be one of you since I'm underground."  He listened.  "Really?  Sure, I can hold him down and check on that for him.  Why do you think it's infected?"  He smirked.  "That's very good to know.  Anything else that telltale is showing?"  He smiled.  "I can ask him about that.  I promise, Tara.  It'll be okay.  I'll tie him down and have a look at that thing on his side.  Oh, not the staking wound.  Which one that he didn't tell us about?"  She squeaked and hung up.  He smirked, putting it back into his pocket.   "McKay and I need to have a talk about him paying more attention."

Daniel patted him on the back.  "It could be worse."

"Yeah, he could be quintuplets and only two of us."  He stood up.  "Let me get back there to tie him down and check his injuries.  With your permission, sir?"

"Go," Landry agreed.  John saluted and called to be beamed back.  "Maybe the boy is worse than your team, Mitchell."

"I'm not that stubborn," Cam said, standing up.

"I can be but usually I have a good reason," Daniel said.

"I'm blocking that server from the base," he told him.

"The cook told me so I could check her son's writing to make sure he wasn't getting into anything too classified."  He stood up and smiled.  "It's definitely different."

"Sheppard said one of the guys up there was reading slash Wormhole stuff and Teyla read it over his shoulder," Cam teased.  "He had to explain that and Mpreg to her."

"Thank God we can't do that," Daniel said dryly.

"He said Harris said Rosenburg could," Landry said dryly.  "Dry that pipeline up too before O'Neill has to come back to smack heads around."

"I'd love to, sir, but I can't find all the sources," Cam complained.  "Personally I don't care what they read as long as I'm not in it."

"Ditto," Daniel said with a smirk for his teammate.  "What's wrong?  The demon ones get to you?"

"Yes!  I don't want to be a base stud."  He walked out shaking his head.

Daniel smiled and followed.  "It could be worse.  It could be us."

"Are you sure there's not?" he asked dryly.  "McKay found some where it was."

"You're right, that's disturbing.  We should tell Vala to gross her out."

"She might think it's a hint," he said bluntly.  "Hell no!"

"Fine."  He smirked.  Watching Cam be disgusted by women was fun.  "Some of it is better written than the show was or some professional books are."

"Enough, Jackson, before I tell her you want to enact some of it.  Or worse, Doctor Lam."

"Sure.  They'd hunt down the people and beat them," he said at Cam's dirty look.

"And put you back in the psych ward."

"That's a possible downside but I doubt it'd happen.  They might beat me but I found one with Teal'c and Ronon.  Vala would protect me to get that one."

"I'll tell Teal'c where she got it."

"Damn.  Fine."

"Thank you!"  He walked into the infirmary.  "Doc, that underground of fiction needs to stop."

"Why tell me?" she asked, coming out of her office.

"There's demon based ones that think I'm a base stud."

She burst out cackling.  "You?"  Daniel pulled it up on her computer.  She stared at it, then at them.  "This is not good."

"No, it's not good.  We need it to stop."

"Tell Carter to see who's computers have accessed that server."

"They'll come in here to you."

"Thank you for warning me you're going to give me more work."

He smirked.  "The kid's injured and ignoring it."

She growled.  "He's what?"

"He stitched his own side," Cam told her.

"I should find the boy and spank him."

"That might save him from the heiress who wants to turn him into her cat," Daniel offered.

She smiled.  "Let me call Sheppard."

"They also got to deliver a baby for someone," Cam said with a smile.

"Aww.  That's sweet of them."  She moved to her desk to call Sheppard's phone while looking over that site.  She had a program that would download the whole thing so she wouldn't have to worry about it.

Cam and Daniel went to Sam Carter's lab.  Daniel shoved her out of the way of her keyboard, opening a new browser window to open that site.  She glared until Cam pointed.  "They think you're my bitch, Carter."

She glared at him.  "Not hardly."

"We all agree, we want that shut down before it gets worse than the other fiction river we have."

She moved Daniel to read.  She looked at them.  "We're joking?"

"Nope."  Daniel smiled.  "They love you a lot but they like you being girly from what I saw when I was looking for breaks in classified information."

She growled, reading the first few.  "Oh, hell no!"  She glared at Cam, who only smirked.  "Are you really demonic?"

"No.  Can't say I am.  Sheppard was amused when Harris told him and McKay, who looked it over to see how bad it was."

"There's a fairly well written one that's Teal'c and Ronon," Daniel told her.

"I don't need that mental image!" she complained, swatting him.  She locked out that site in the system.  Then she started a search of who had accessed it.

"I showed Doctor Lam so she'd know why she was going to get crying and whining people," Daniel told her.

"Good."  She removed that name from her list and went to hunt down the others so she could confiscate things.  That was just *wrong*!

Cam and Daniel smirked at each other.  She'd do the hard work for them.  They could get back to their real work while she hunted people down to show the displeasure of her PMS.


Sheppard reappeared.   "Harris," he said smoothly.

"That voice usually makes half the city run," McKay instructed.

"Let him try," John smirked.

"What did he do?"

"Tara's got a health telltale that was showing the start of an infection."  He moved closer.

"You're doing stalking menace very well," Xander said with a smile.  "But I cleaned it earlier."

"It's not on your side, kid.  When would that have happened?" he asked dryly.

"Um....  Huh.  Oh, uh, second day in England."

"I saw you shirtless."

"It's on my thigh."

"She said it's on your lower back."

"That's a scratch from the pub!"

"Off.  Now."

"I thought you were denying those rumors," McKay taunted, smirking at his laptop.

"It'll only be a pleasure if he tries to run," John said dryly.  "Xander."  Xander sighed but stood up and stripped off his shirt.  "And the others since you said you have one on your thigh."

"I'm commando.  Did you *really* want that much of a peek?  Because there's probably video from my roadtrip when I had to strip a few times."

Rodney looked at him, typing by feel.  "You did?"

"Yes.  The car was broken down," he sighed.  "I had to or I would've been fired."  He looked at John.  "I cleaned them."

He pulled him over by grabbing his arm and held him down by the back of his neck while he looked at the injuries.   "Better technique than even Carson has," McKay taunted.

"Cute, really," John said sarcastically, glaring at his friend.  He looked at the cuts.  They were newly cleaned and still looked infected.   Doctor Lam showed up with Vala for some reason.  "Ladies."

"Awww, you caught him for us, we don't have to chase him down," Vala complained.

"Have him," he said, hauling Rodney up.  "We'll be next door in our room.   You two can make sure he knows he's supposed to let us know in case it affects defending him."  He walked Rodney out, letting the doctor close the door behind him.

Rodney's head popped up ten minutes later at the first groan.  "I don't think that was a punishment."

"You never know.  Some people are kinky," John said from his spot on his bed with a book.  He smacked the book into the wall when they got too loud.  "I'm going to tell Cam about this."

Rodney snickered.  "I'm sure he'll be enlightened."  He looked over at one very loud noise.  "I hope that's groaning because he failed to please them.  If not, their next one might have too much to overcome."

"I think that was his groan," John told him.  "Not theirs."

"Oh, shit!" Xander yelped.  "Guys, do you want this stewardess chick?" he called.  "The homicidal one who wants to kill you two?"

"Sure," John called, going to get her.  Vala was giggling in a corner.  The doctor was glaring at her.  He hauled her up.  "Thanks.  She say anything?"

"She works for the heiress," Doctor Lam said dryly.

"Ah."  He walked her off, going to take her to the hotel security office.  "She's tracked us across four countries, pretended to be a member of a few flight's crew, and has tried to drug or kill both me and McKay," he said, handing her over.  "Can you have her arrested?"

"Yes, sir."  John smiled and walked off.  He looked at her.  "She won't be pleased," he hissed at her.  "She'll kill you."  Two cops walked in.  "Officers," he said, straightening up.

"Sir, we were told that this young lady has tried to kill people."  He handed her over.  "We'll be talking to you too because we just heard," he said with a smug look.

John walked back into their room.  "The stewardess is related to the heiress."

"Vala's agreeing to get to Hong Kong with us and then leave."  He smirked.  "I called the police for you."

"Thanks.  They arrested her and the hotel security guy for working for her."

"Wonderful."  He handed over the bug sensor.  John ran it over their room.  The two they found he went to hand to the police.  They'd get the kid up for dinner and their flight out later.


Xander smiled and put his arm around Vala's waist.  "Just smile," he whispered.  He smiled at the reporters waiting to ambush them.  The other authors came out and put on sunglasses, pushing past them.  "Guys, why are we such big news this time?"

"Sir, the head of the biggest local entertainment chain's daughter was arrested for stalking you."

"Yes, I remember her minions."  He smiled at Vala, who grinned back.  Then he smiled at them.  "She tried to poach me.  She even sent letters about wanting to collar me like her cats."

One of the reporters snapped another picture.  "Is this your girlfriend?" he asked.

"No comment."  He winked and walked her off.  Once they were in the van she giggled.   "It's nice they arrested her too."

"Did they say her father was mad about it?" John asked.


"Good.  One less worry."  He got comfortable.  "What's our schedule here?"

"Four days, two signings.  Then a puddle hopper to the one in Japan."  They all nodded at that.  "I didn't book any tours or anything.  Did anyone else?"

"We've all been here, Harris," the British author told him.

"Damn.  John, any recommendations?"

"A few from some of the people I know."  He smirked.  "It'll go.  You know that.  Just remember that traffic is horrible."  He nodded.  He looked back at the loud squeal of brakes.  "Oh, not again."  Their van was stopped but they wanted Rodney this time.  "Who are you?"

"Shut up!  We want the physicist!" one said, trying to strike him.

Xander got them all with his dart gun.  "No, you can't have the geek.  The rest of us need to finish his shrine."

Vala looked at him.  "I didn't think you were that dangerous."

He smiled.  "Only when you piss me off."  He looked at the people, then around.  "No cops.  Huh."  He looked at John, who called.  Xander looked at one, squatting down to take off his hood.  "Hey, I know his species."  He removed the dart and kicked him until he woke up.  Still no cops.  "Why are you bothering my bodyguards?" he asked quietly.

"You have no idea who he is."

"Yes I do.  Fully."  He leaned down.  "Thoranic told me," he hissed.  The demon moaned, trying to shift.  "You're pissing me off."

"Who are you?" he demanded coolly.

He smiled.  "Xander."

"X..Xander?" he stuttered, staring at him.  Xander smirked.  "Oh, no.  No, no, no!"  He tried to wiggle away.  "You're not right!"

"They drained it.  Their doc got really upset."  He smirked.  "My axe is with me if you want proof."  He shook his head quickly.  "Then turn your asses in.  Don't come near my friends again.  Am I clear?"  He nodded.  "Why did they want him?"

"The portals are having problems!  He can figure out why!" he begged.

"I'm told it's because of the shift."  He stood up, staring down at him.  "Just give the fuck up.  I'm having a happy day."

"Yes...Knight!  We will not bother them again!  We will find someone who is better and treat them very well!  We would not have hurt him!"

"You can ask him, but I would be *very* polite since you just pissed him and his team leader off.  Am I clear?"  He nodded, getting to his knees.  Xander got back in.  "They're having a theoretical shift."

"How did you scare them?" Vala asked quietly.

He grinned.  "Past.  History."

"From high school past history?" Rodney asked.

"Yes."  The demon bowed to him and then to Rodney, handing him a file.

Rodney opened it, looking at it.  "Do we have any idea why?"

"There's three different shifts going on," Xander said.  "I have no clue but I was told it'd be cleared up next week."

"Our Clan Leader's wife must come this week or there will be a war," he told them, looking at Rodney.  "We were not going to harm you, just ask you to help us."

Rodney looked at him.  "Come see me later tonight.  Let me look it over."  They nodded and he ran off.  The others were left there.  He looked at the other authors, who were seemingly frozen.  He looked at Xander, who shook his head.  He pointed at his watch.  "Temporal?"

"Tara."  He tapped his watch and they went back to normal.  Police got there a few minutes later and let them go.  Vala got sent home once they made it into the rooms.  John was pacing and complaining.  Rodney was reading over the information to see if it was applicable and if it was something easy.  Xander wanted a fight.  He grimaced, looking around his room.  He grabbed stuff and went down to the gym.  It'd do until after dinner.

John tracked him down there when someone called to warn him that the kid was an accident waiting to happen.  He walked into the gym and over to where the boy was doing leg presses.  He winced at the amount of weight.  "Doing less weight in more reps builds up muscles."

"I need it for running."  He did another one.  "I'm okay.  It's safe here."

"Yeah, and you're going to hurt yourself."  He pushed him until he got out of the seat.  "C'mon.  I wanted to see what you could do anyway."


"Sparring.  It'll help."  He walked him into a bare room the gym kept for special events.  John took off his outer shirt and waved him on.  "C'mon.  I can take it."

"Um, I'm not used to dealing with humans."

"Yay.  I'm very well trained.  Treat me like you would a hunting session."

"Not like I tend to outright attack."

"I saw that.  You won't hurt me.  One of my teammates is like your friend Buffy.  I've been working with her."

"You know, sometimes you make me feel inadequate."  He grimaced.  "I only know one way to fight."

"You're young, you can learn.  I did.  I made her teach me.  I made Ronon teach me too."  Xander nodded and attacked.  John fought back.  He wasn't bad.  He wasn't great.  He got him down.  "Okay, let's try that again so I can fix that over extension problem you have."  Xander beamed and got back up to let him correct it.  No, no one had ever taught the kid.  "You still need to learn how to lay lower."

"That's why they froze?"

"That's a good reason," he agreed.  "You still need to lay lower.  Remember, it's a secret identity."

"I don't do much in New York unless there's a problem or I'm asked directly."  He attacked again.  John caught him around the throat and taught him how to correct that mistake of balance.  Xander was a happy boy.  "I need more lessons."

"It might help."  They worked for a few more hours, working up a good sweat.  At the end, John found two brooms and let the kid remove the heads.  "Break 'em."  Xander looked at him.  "We can pay for them."

Xander looked around and casually removed something from his chest.  It looked like a patch.  Xander put it up against a wall and opened the tiny doors.  He pulled out two things and tossed them over.  "Those?"

John watched them grow in his hand.  "Yeah, those'll work.  I want to see that."

"Okay."  Xander closed it and came over to let his grow into his hand.

"C'mon.  It's what Teyla was training me to do."

"I heard she's good."

"How much do you know about us?"

"The gossips are like old ladies who think you're cheating on your wife with a goat," he said dryly.

"That's an odd way of putting it."  He attacked.   "That happen often at home?"

"A few times.  The only other big news was carnivals and their working girls coming to take over the job of our original ones."  He blocked and fell back to what he knew and what he had been shown was easier.

"Block and duck blows, kid."  Xander did that and still slowly changed back.  John had to turn aside a staking attempt or three but he smiled because that's what the kid needed to remember how to do.  "I tell you what.  Next time I'm back down here for something that's not an emergency, we'll spar again as long as you've kept up and learned more things."

Xander beamed at him.  "I'd like that.  Pending apocalypses?"

"Yup, pending apocalypses on both our sides."  He hit him and the boy didn't wince.  "How do you ignore that?"

"Funny mindset while hunting."

"I read about her."  Xander shrugged and lunged, getting John off balance.  He corrected but not before Xander had shoved him back and gotten him to adjust his stance too much to counter a blow to his upper arm.  The kid was pulling his blows.  That was nice of him.  "If I can, I'm bringing Ronon down with me."  The kid hugged him.  "Thanks.  Get off."

Xander beamed at him.  "A hug can be both healing and deadly at the same time."

"Yes it can," he agreed.  "Especially with your dates."  The kid laughed at that.  "There's days I wish fighting wraith was as easy as staking a vampire."

Xander's face lit up.  "He was working on a few things to help with that."  He put the sticks back in the patch and put it back on, then grabbed John and dragged him upstairs.  "Rodney, I need the drawing thingy," he said as John let them into his and Rodney's room.

"What drawing thing?" he muttered, still engrossed.  The kid took his laptop from him to get into the program.  "Oh, that drawing thing."  He dug out the stylus and let him have it.  "What did you just remember?"

"A whole lot but it was stuff that me there was working on but hadn't gotten to work."  He got the first one down within twenty minutes and gave John a proud look.  "A zappy thing."

"A zappy thing?" he asked.

"Like the heart restarter you see on tv?  A zappy thing that can be fired."

Rodney gave him a look.  "Excuse me?"

"To disrupt hearts and things.  He had problems here," he said, circling it.  "Something about it keeps it going out of tune.  Then this area he said something about capacitor problems and resistance."  He looked at the amused looks.  "My level of electronics is RC cars, guys."

Rodney took it to look at.  "This starts out like a NIKE," he muttered.

"Which would leave it to be launched without putting your own guys in danger," Xander said.  "He also said something about it being fixable or whatever for each species."

"What else did you remember?" John asked.   He sat on the foot of his bed.  Rodney gave the boy back his stylus.  Xander thought for a few minutes then drew out a cartoon, handing it to him with a smile.  He laughed.  "Tiff?"

"Yeah."  He frowned and drew out the scythe.  "We had to create a practice version of it," he admitted, moving on after saving that.  It took a few minutes but eventually the ideas finally flowed out of him.  He looked up when he ran into a problem.  "It won't save, Rodney."

Rodney groaned, moving over to take it so he could switch some files to a portable, specially shielded hard drive.  That let it be saved and the boy went back to it.  Rodney and John left him alone to talk to the demons.  They didn't want to see a war between clans because it might impact humans.   They came back and the boy was pouting at the computer.  "Is it full again?" he asked.

"No.  I kinda feel empty."

John patted him on the back.  "We like you even without the ideas you were holding."  Xander beamed and hugged him.  "Go shower.  You're still sweaty from sparring.  Oh, that patch?"

Xander groaned but took it off and put it on the wall.  "Tara found it and had it made for me."

Rodney opened it and stared, then grabbed his scanner from Atlantis to take readings.  "Have you had this all along?"

"Yeah.  Why?"

"What if we had needed it?"

"I would've pulled a Highlander and a gun outta my butt?" he said, shrinking down some.

John looked at him.  "That might've amused the captors.  I need one of these for the next time we're captured."

"I'm not sure if it'd work up there the same way it does down here.  See, it's calibrated to skin tone and things."

"It's energy is compatible with ours," Rodney told him.  "As for skin tone...."  He looked at them.  "How did you conceal it?"

"It kinda matches me."

John took it down and put it on his arm.  It matched pretty well.  "I might need to shave some chest hair."

"I'd put it on your side.  That way if you're handcuffed behind you could reach it and if not, it'd look like you were scratching an itchy spot.   That's where I'd put it.  Most of the time I'm just tied in a chair."  He dropped his pants and pulled off the one on his thigh and then the one off his lower back.  He reached for another one on his ankle but Rodney stopped him to take readings of it before he removed it.

John stared at what was in there.  "Why are we carrying all this?"

"Because the detectives looked in my research cabinets when Tara got kidnaped by Willow.  I don't want them to find all this."

"I can agree with that."

Rodney coughed.  "What might disturb it so it'd come open or grow?  Or even disappear totally?"

"A very big energy surge on a specific wave length."

"So, something like maybe the gateway?"

Xander grimaced.  "Yeah, that might.  Damn."

"I need to test one to see if it's able to be shielded," Rodney told him. "That and transporting."

"I can see us doing that if he can find us someone to make us a set."

"We can test on one of mine.  My ankle one was my extra one.  She won't mind.  She thinks you're nice."

Rodney coughed.  "Not always."

"We heard."

Rodney glared at him.  "How much did you hear?"

"The overlords of one of my kitten poker buddies wanted to know if what he had heard was true.  I told him I wasn't sure.  That I wouldn't tell him anything even if it was right but his wife was apparently from a clan that fled from up there."

"Are there still clans up there?" John asked.

"One that I heard of.  They're hiding like a mofo on their planet and you guys can't get there.  They disabled things.  They have a portal system but no gate thingy."

"That's good to know.  Are they friendly?"

"They're terrified."

"We'd like to make friends."

"Yeah but humans are scary creatures that they tell their kids are going to eat them.  They're less scared of the wraith or the Ancients than you guys."

"They knew about them?"

"Yeah.  They were kinda used as servants," he said dryly, giving him a look.

"Like test monkeys," Rodney said dryly.  Xander nodded.  "I don't blame them for that but we're not like that."

"Half the Marines might be freaked out," John told him.  Rodney nodded that was true.  "Half of your scientists would want to take samples."

"Your city might recognize them and try to contain them," Xander added.  "I'm told that they're in the system as not supposed to be loose."

"Then we'll definitely be friendly if we run into one and maybe ask Teyla if they've seen or heard of them.  Do we know a name?"

"Valadon?  I think.  I heard that name mentioned in relation to your worlds."  He shrugged.

"It's somewhere to start," Rodney decided.  "Are you sure she won't mind if we take your extra one?"

"No.  She said it'd be okay."  They smiled at him and John unloaded that one to put the things into the other ones.  Xander had brought nearly everything he might ever need in case of an apocalypse.  They'd ignore the artillery for now since it was only a few pieces.    Xander yawned.

"Go shower and I'll treat to dinner," John said, earning a grin.  Xander put those back on and went to shower.  John looked at Rodney.  "I said I'd spar with him the next time I'm down here for a non-emergency reason.  I'd even try to bring Ronon."

"You do seem fond of him."

"He's like a little brother.  He also never got trained to fight."  He grabbed his own things.  "I like him.  He's a nice guy.  Like someone said, he's almost like a kid between me and O'Neill."

"That is a scary damn thought," Rodney assured him.

"Do you mind?"

"No!  I like the kid.  I have liked the kid.  He's like a less genius version of Radek in many ways."

"I think he's plenty smart but no one ever took the time to *teach* him.  Especially since he's a hands-on guy."

"I've noticed that he picked up things when I explained them to him."  He smirked.  "If the IOA gets their way, we'll bring him up so you can work on his training, he can design weapons, and we'll teach him all the things his pathetic, piss-poor school didn't."

"It's that bad?"

"Oh, don't get me started," he warned.  "I gave Carter a surge of maternal anger and they're not even her kids.  The school's only teaching demons now and we both wanted to bulldoze it.  Then the rest of the town."  Someone knocked and John let Xander in.  "What did you learn your senior year?"

"Explosives.  I have bitchy female friends who decided I was too normal.  The football team did pay some of the cheerleaders so my ex tossed them off the team."

"In terms of education," Rodney sighed.

"Oh, um....  Perot in English, two poets, a play.  Um, another attempt at algebra.  More Latin and Summerian from the research."

"Did you take a science?"



"Pointless and first period.  Some days I didn't even try to get there after patrols."  He shrugged.  "I don't get along well with school."

"That was probably the school's fault," Rodney assured him.  "They're so far beyond pathetic I need to make up new words for how bad they are."

"Willow was one of our geniuses.  Warren Meers too but they sent him to a special school for geeks who could build shit.  Andrew and Jonathan were up there in brains too."

"By most school's standards, Willow's above average but not a genius," Rodney said, making the boy's face crack.  "I've run into Meers.  He got conscripted after that robot thing and put into a Pentagon design team.  He's good but he's psychotic.  No, your school ruined a lot of people who could have been very good students, like you."  Xander gave him a horrified look.  "A real school would've turned in your parents as well."

"Sunnydale wasn't exactly the real world.  That's why they kept letting my uncle go after multiple DUI's.  It's why my father decided he could get away with trying to blackmail and beat me then was horrified when the judge sent him away."

"Your whole town needed sunk thirty years ago," John told him.  "Local food or american food?"

"I'm game as long as it's not squid or going to kill me or eat me back."

"I can handle that.  Don't eat blowfish."  He smiled.  "We'll find somewhere excellent without reporters."

"I could like not being stalked tonight."

"Then why ham it up?"

"I was told to so it'd help book sales.  Or else Paula will beat me."

"She won't."

"She will and they'll drop me so I can't be published."

"Sometimes you've got to stand up to the women."

"The last time I did that, I got blamed for all sorts of shit."

"She's not your friends."

"No but she's a lot like them at times."

"Cranky?  Yes she did seem that way," John admitted.  "Rodney, food?"

"I ate while he was drawing."  Xander gave him a sheepish look.  "We needed some of those anyway, kid.  Shoo, go eat food that I might balk at so I don't have to see it."  They smirked and walked out together.  Rodney saved down the files again and sent them to Carter's email address.  She was over the team developing weapons.  He also noted that they were in-progress prototypes that probably had some flaws that needed to be worked out.  Her email sent back an automatic acknowledgment that she was not at her computer but would get back with them as soon as she could.  Rodney rolled his eyes.  People hated those things.


John and Xander got sat at a fairly decent table in the nice-ish restaurant.  The menus had english and Cantonese sections.  Xander was staring at the fish tank.  John looked too.  "I'm pretty sure those are decorative fish instead of dinner ones."  Xander relaxed and smiled.  "How brave are we being tonight?"

"Starving but not brave?"

"Get noodles," he joked.

"Of course.  I won't eat like Rodney does."

"You should see Ronon's plate size," he quipped.  "Even Rodney has to stare in awe."

"You should put them both in competitive eating contests."

"Don't tempt me.  Ronon is always very competitive."

Xander grinned, looking at the menu.  "I have no idea what half of these types of fish are."

John looked at his, and he only knew about half of them.  "I saw we get number 18."

Xander looked and nodded.  "Plus noodles?"

"Yeah, or rice."  They looked up and found a bigger one.  "Didn't you eat lunch?"

"Um, no.  You and Rodney got stuff at the airport to bring back.  Vala and I were talking about weapons."

"Oh, okay.  That explains why you're starving."

"A man could seriously starve in her presence," Xander sighed.

"Yes they could, but she's a bit too wicked for my tastes."  Xander smirked at him.  "Don't even mention it."

"I shouldn't mention the little priestess who thinks you're her pet?"

"No.  Please?"

"Sorry."  He grinned and went back to the menu.  "Nineteen and I pay the tip?"

John looked.  Then shook his head.  "Twenty-six and you pay the tip."

"I could like that.  And it has other stuff on it."  He beamed.  "What do you drink with real Asian food?"

"Some guys drink a beer, some have a glass of wine.  Some drink water because some of those sauces are spicy."

"Hmm.  Lemonade?  They have it."

"It might not go against some of the spices."  The waitress put down dishes.  "We haven't ordered yet," he told her.

"Yes you have."

"No we haven't, Tandra."  Xander looked over the edge of his menu.  "Hi.  Part-time job for holiday present money or just saying hi?"

"Checking on you for Anya," she admitted, staring at him.  "She saw you in the paper and was hoping her curse had started."

"Curse?" John asked.

"No, no groupies I'm sleeping with yet so I'd give them up for being boring.  Authors don't get groupies like rock stars."

"Shoot.  She was so hopeful."

"Not like she could take advantage of it."  John coughed.  "Oh, sorry.  John, this is Tandraicka, the vengeance demon over those abandoned."

"Those left behind," she corrected.  She smirked at him.  "There are many people who wanted him to turn out a lot more like you before he screwed up multiple prophecy lines by turning in those cults so the town got shut down."

"Go me," Xander said dryly.  The manager came huffing over.  "I'm sorry, we went to high school together and we were catching up," he said.  "I'm sorry I monopolized her and made her not work."  The man was mollified after glancing at what she had put on the table.  Xander glared at her but she smirked, walking off.  He looked then at John.

"Number eighteen and two lite beers," John ordered.  "Please."  The manager told that to their actual waitress.  He looked at the dishes.  "I have no idea what that is beyond squid."

Xander tasted one from the bowl next to him.  "Tingly."

"Blowfish," John said.  He watched him but he wasn't having a heavy reaction.  "Doctor Lam thinks that you're still vulnerable to some toxins," he said quietly.

"She told me she did the toxin allergy test.  It's a small list that I'm not immune to.  Please stomp any scorpions you find," he finished.  He looked at John's bowl.  "Am I brave?"

"It's not slimy.  Or alive.  I know some people eat them alive."

"Eww."  He picked up a piece of tentacle to slurp down.  "Chewy but bland.  Could use garlic or cheese," he said when he had eaten it.  John ate his own bite.   The rest of their meal was brought.  The check was deposited a bit later.  Xander glanced at it.  "She charged us."  He smirked.  "You get the tip."

"You sure?  You should be running short on the trip slush fund."

"No.  I was given two grand for each location for food, souvenirs, all that stuff.  I barely spent eight hundred in England.  Four in Germany.  More in Italy because the food was amazing and I had some shipped home.  Paris was a weak spending point since I didn't want to hit the street of the damned."

"The fashion row?" John taunted.

"Yup, that one."  He picked out his next bite, then grimaced.  "Chilly."

"Dip it in the stuff in the center, the hot oil."  Xander did the next one and it was better after a minute of cooking.  John got his own.  "You haven't been buying all that much stuff?"

"No, I don't really have anyone to buy souvenirs for.  Just Tara.  Postcards for Buffy, Willow, and all them.  Cordelia did get a designer handbag from over here but otherwise all I've done is buy a few books, a few new shirts when mine couldn't be cleaned for whatever reason, and then food."  He picked out another one to nibble on.  That one was spicy but it was good after the blander fish.  "Spicy."

"Thanks for the warning."  He ate another piece of marinated fish, then some of the noodles that had shrimp in it.  "At least you'll have the rest when you get home."

"I was thinking you guys might like to visit a huge bookstore for at home?"

"They might like that," he agreed.  "But it'd probably have to be in English."

"We can do that.  I know the one we're going to be at tomorrow has a large selection.  I looked it up.  If you guys are going to Tokyo, we can do that one there.  They have a seven story one."

John smiled.  "I think the current plan is for us to stay with you the full trip and then head home."

"Including the overnight layover in England on the way back?  Because then you could stop in the big ones they have there."

"I don't know."

"You might want to tell Paula since she's doing the airfare stuff."

"I'll get that clarified for her later on."  He ate another bite.  Xander was indeed starving.  He had worked like Rodney so now he was eating like Rodney.  It made sense to him.  Some of the other scientists had picked up that habit as well.  "What else are you getting?"

"Tomorrow I'll pick up something for Tara after the signing.  There's a lot of shops down there.  Then the next day I was hoping we'd be able to sightsee?"

"I can see doing that.  Hopefully without help."  Xander put down his card when the waitress came back to check on them.  She smiled and went to run it.  "You sure?"

"They're going to be closing soon."  She came back pouting.  "It didn't work?"

"No, sir, it did."  She let him sign the slip and take his card back.

"We always leave the tip after we're done," John told her, earning a happy, attentive waitress.  They finished up talking about what they wanted to see, since neither had been here before, and it was nice.  On the way back they picked up cones at the Ben and Jerry's store.  Xander quipped that the good american trends had followed them.  He got Rodney a small pint since he knew he had missed real ice cream on Atlantis.  They went back to their rooms.

Rodney looked up when he came in.  "You got ice cream?" he pouted.

"We ran into a Ben and Jerry's store."  He tossed over the bag, earning one happy physicist.  "We also ran into one of his ex's coworkers.  She decided to try to make Xander broke with dinner but it didn't work."  He sat down to finish his ice cream.  "How's that portal thing?"

"I've isolated how they need to correct it.  I sent it to the address in the file.  They sent back a thank you and they could filter it somehow.  So we're safe.  What's going on tomorrow?"

"Signing, small browsing around for souvenirs, then sightseeing the next day."

"That's reasonable."  He dug into his ice cream with a moan.  "You remembered."

"Of course I did.  I heard you moaning about not having any on your birthday for six weeks."

Rodney punched him on the arm.  "It served you right."

"Uh-huh.  The kid suggested we go to the big bookstore tomorrow to load up for home.  Also to find out if we're flying back because then we can hit the bigger ones on that layover in England."

"I think we're transporting back after he gets on the plane home.  I'm not sure about that overnight."  He sent a message to the general about that and left it there.  He'd tell them.  "I have been getting ebooks for us."

"They'll appreciate that.  No waiting in line for it."

"I've also picked up some other books for the scientists."

"If we could get a list it'd be easier.  Get it through Amazon and pick it up before we go back.  Or have the ship bring it."

"Yes we could.  I'll figure that part out tomorrow."  John nodded, eating the last bite of his cone then going to take a shower.  Rodney finished up his sinful treat.  A belated birthday present but it was nice the colonel had remembered.


John and Rodney finally landed back at Stargate Command after the last day of the tour.  Xander could handle tonight.  Paula was there to fly back with him to debrief him and go over any big mistakes he had made.  The general looked at the bags they were carrying.  They had both had a small bag for clothes.  Now they had that small shared bag and two larger duffle bags.  "Good shopping?" he asked dryly once they had saluted him.

"Yes, sir.  Things we can use on base," John said.  "Books and magazines."

"That's not a bad idea."  He looked them over.  "Are you two all right?"

"We're fine, sir.  The small rush to get next to Xander last night by the Buddhist nuns was strange but we handled it well."

"I don't want to know," he muttered.

"There was a small demon threatening their convent," Rodney said.  "He made it flee after getting a book signed."

"I still don't want to know."  He looked them over.  "You two don't look depressed."

"We'll keep in touch with him.  I said the next time I'm down here I'm going to make sure he's kept up on his hand-to-hand training because he didn't have any."  The general groaned.  "We agreed we'd spar as long as neither of us was in the middle of an apocalypse."

"That's reasonable," he agreed.  "Any sins I shouldn't hear of?" Landry asked.

"No, sir, why?" John asked.

He held up a picture.

"She thought I was a model," he said with a smug grin.  "So did her photographer.  She nearly drooled over Xander."

"Good to know."  He held up the other two.

"We denied my intentions toward him, sir," John said firmly.  "That's why they decided Rodney was his boyfriend and I was just a very nice bodyguard because of the death threat and Rodney being noticed as a very smart physicist.  The Germans recognized him."

"We did have a nice impromptu conference one day," Rodney agreed.  "Someone had updated some of my early work."

"Interesting.  Anything relevant to here?"

"No.  Power flows."

"Okay.  That's good to know."

"I sent that report to Carter."

"She's off dealing with a Prior.  Has been for days."

"I also sent her the last of the things Harris' mind was hiding."

"She did get those a few hours before they had to leave.  She said most of them show electronic flaws but she can work with that."  Rodney nodded.  "Did you keep a copy?"

"Of course.  Of all of it."  That got a smirk.  "It might come in handy some day."

"It could, yes."  He looked at them.  "Anything you still have to do tonight?"

"We did take the liberty of ordering some new books for our science corps through Amazon, sir," John told him.  "Updated medical texts, new textbooks, things like that."

"Coming where?"

"The only address I could find was yours, sir."

"My home address, son?"  John nodded.  "I can have it brought over and shipped out to you.  That is something important to keep your people up to date.  Anything else in there I shouldn't know about?"

"A MAD magazine or six, some funny books, and a few new issues of the popular gun magazines, including the Military Ordinance one."

"I'll accept that as necessary reading," he decided.  "Go.  Shoo.  Go mope on Atlantis."  They smirked and saluted then headed for the gate room.  They even carried their own stashes of books, it was nice of them.  He shook his head, calling home to let them know that there might be a delivery for someone on base.  He went to oversee the beaming up to the Daedelus.  They were sent up and away they went for the next week.  Landry sighed in relief.  This hadn't been too bad but the kid's mind had held some things that were too fantastic for even a fantasy writer to have.  He had already made sure the boy knew if he let any of that out, he'd end up conscripted.  The boy had let him see how the old program had integrated into the DCIS world so he knew what was coming and how bad it would be.  The kid would also send him anything he got done so he could preview it for classified information.  So at least he was reasonable.


Xander walked in and flopped down, staring at the cat.  "Did your mommy flee?" he asked her, petting her gently.  She nuzzled him.  He smiled.  "I missed you too, Miss Kitty."  He saw the note with his name on it and smiled.  "Ah.  Work called."  He shrugged and settled in to nap on the couch.  Tara could unpack her own presents when she got home.  It was definitely good to be home because his muses were screaming at him.  "Later," he told them.  "Nap now, write later."  They settled down a bit and let him pet the cat nuzzling into him until they both took a nap on the couch.


John and Rodney got beamed down with their bags, and Rodney looked around.  "No applause?  I'm disappointed."

"Shut up," John taunted with a smirk.  "Really."  Rodney smirked at him.  "Remember, my bags have the food."

"I'll come get it later."

John looked at the watching people.  "Books?" he suggested.  A few smirked at them and came to get their bags.  John kept the combined bag and the bag with the snacks.  He handed over the rest beyond Rodney's laptop bag.  "To the library."

"I'll upload the ebooks I have in a few minutes," Rodney told him.  He looked at John.  "How did you get a full copy of all of his?"

"It's not hard, and he let me have the ones he's been working on too."

"Interesting."  They went to their rooms to unpack, John giving him his half of the clothing bag once he had found all his.  A pair of socks had to be tossed back later but that was normal for them.  They were both back in uniform and in the mess by then.  They settled in to tell the others about the trip, and all the pictures John had taken.  John uploaded all the copies of the new books that night with the warning that they were not edited, these were preview copies so may not be the finished format.  Rodney uploaded the ebooks he had gotten.  The librarian hugged them both.  Even if he did blush after hugging Rodney.  They'd let him be extremely happy when the stuff they had ordered came in.

It was good to be home.  Much less insane too.  No reporters.  No bad girls trying to get to Xander.  Well, not as many, and apparently John's own bad girl magnet power had been lessened in the presence of the master of it.  So their next mission actually went the way it was supposed to.  It was amazing.

The End.