Note: the Council is mean to Miss Kitty. Death off-screen of slightly seen character.
Rick Castle looked around the squad room, frowning. "This isn't that secure," he said.
The object of his worry stared at him. "Yes it is. They don't let anyone up here who isn't wearing a badge."
"How hard is it to fake one?" he asked. He looked at her. She glared back. "Honestly, Beckett?"
"Not that hard," she admitted with a huff.
"So let's get you somewhere safer. You have a serial killer after you. They've proven they're a bit sneaky and clearly demented."
She grimaced. "Don't you dare."
"Shut up." He hauled her up. "Guys?" The two detectives she worked with looked over. "I'm going to get her someone overprotective to watch over her. That way we don't have to worry about them getting in here."
One nodded. "You're paranoid."
"Do you blame me?" They shook their heads. "I'll be back." He walked off with her, typing a text message from the elevator. Tara would warn him. If the guy could track his phone calls, he'd see him sending one to a girl, a coded message at that.
Xander opened the door, gulping some milk. "What's up?"
"Serial killer," Rick said, looking at him. "Not busy?"
"Nah. We were going to sightsee later." He let her into the apartment, letting her look around. "Detective, he knows I'm highly overprotective, fairly well skilled in what I can do to protect you, and you can help us sightsee when Tara gets off work. That way no one can find you." He grinned and finished his milk. "Want something? We've got some leftovers, some sodas, some higher octane sodas, some waters? Rick?"
"I'm good. Let me get back to helping." He left.
Xander grinned. "Relax. No one's going to find you here and even if he did? I'm a bitch over those I'm watching over. The time I moonlighted as a bodyguard, I got fired for being too protective and keeping my guardee from getting some action." She slumped, shaking her head. "Really. And hey, you can tell us where we're going. That way you can mosey around the city without anyone realizing that you're with us." He grinned. "Even if they come here, I can guarantee they'll be sorry. We do have some boobytraps in case of break-ins." He smiled an innocent, sweet smile.
She snorted. "You look so guilty when you do that."
He snickered. "I probably am of many things. Sit, pet the cat, grab a drink if you want, let me change clothes. Tara should be back soon."
"If we're out he could spot me."
"If he spots you and comes near you, I'm going to destroy him at the cellular level," he pointed out. "And if he traces you back to my place? He'd better pray while being fucked." He went to change shirts.
"Is that a sword?" she called.
He looked over the railing from the stairs as he came down. "Yeah. I've got about seven or eight swords around the house."
She stared at him. "Research helpers?" she asked hopefully.
"And past life helpers, yeah."
She stared at him. "Your reputation says you know weapons." He grinned and nodded. "Where are they? Just so I know where to dive for if I need them?" He pointed at the cabinet next to where he was standing. She opened it and stared then at him. "Mediaeval weapons." She looked at him then around, opening the other cabinets. She looked around the doorway, giving him a look. "How did you get all these?"
"Poker debts for some." He closed that and opened up the tv cabinet's door. It looked like a dvd storage area. It held a few handguns and bullets. "No room in there." He shrugged. "Easily grabbed subtly too."
She stared at what was down there, checking her own. It was as big as most of what he had. She had a full clip. For some reason she still felt inadequate. "It's got to be a guy thing."
"It's more past life paranoia, and research help," he admitted. He headed for the kitchen, putting some waters and sodas in a cooler bag. "There we go." Tara walked in, pausing to look at their guest. "She's got a serial killer. You remember Detective Beckett, right?"
"Yeah," she said, shaking her hand with a small smile. "Is our sightseeing off?"
"No, she can be a native guide while we make sure no one can find her," Xander said, zipping the bag up. "I've got six waters, six sodas, and we're good. My wallet?" Tara tossed it over. "Hit the ATM for me?" he joked weakly.
"Yup." She smiled. "I paid the bills at work too." She went to change, coming out in something less professional and more comfortable. Then they left, the detective between them. She got into the back, Tara into the front, Xander driving, and they were off.
"What sort of defenses do you have on the apartment?" she asked. Tara grinned. "Ah, that sort. Okay. Are they effective?"
"Quite," Tara assured her. "The last one begged the people in the ER to make it stop eating him for trying to break in off our porch." She smiled. "It'll be okay. Miss Kitty will rip someone up if they upset her."
Xander glanced at her, leaning his free elbow on the door. "Tara, have you noticed she's been a little piggy for the last few days?" he asked.
"Yes," she said carefully. "I know she's not in the middle of a kitten growth spurt."
"No, I think she managed to find some big, bad tomcat," he said dryly. "Her stomach's getting a bit poochy too."
"Oh, no." She sighed. "I'll check her over and chastise her later."
"I don't mind kittens. Kind of. A few maybe?"
"Of course. My aunt's coven might want some of them."
"That's cool. We can confirm it and tell her."
She beamed and hugged his arm on the wheel when they had to stop for a light. "Thank you, Xander."
"Not a problem. Saves me from knocking up someone and having to change diapers," he quipped. Kate snorted at that, shaking her head. "It would."
"No letting the mother do it?" she asked.
Xander glanced back at her. "With the women I date?"
"Good point," she said, shaking her head quickly.
"How did the last one do?"
"She pled guilty. Only two charges out of the six though."
"Still thirty years."
"That's good." Tara gave him a poke. "The redhead I was dating?" She nodded slowly. "Turned out to be dating some just-under-the-age-of-legal boys as well."
"The year before they got legal," Kate told her. "Not too young."
"Still bad of her," Tara agreed. "Are the boys all right?"
"They're fine. They thought it was great dating an older woman who taught them how to do it right," Xander said dryly. "One came over while we were getting ready to go out so we talked. Then I introduced one of her minions to him the next day. That way they wouldn't be scared of women."
Kate stared at him. "I'm not that mean, kid."
He glanced back at her. "Of course you're not. Unless you want to be." He grinned and got back to driving at the honks. "I'm resisting the urge to become a real New Yorker," he muttered.
"Most of us don't flip people off," Kate said dryly. She glared back at the person still honking, holding up her badge. He took a sudden turn and quit honking.
"Smooth. I need to try that," Tara said with a smile. "Even I've wanted to flip a few people off and I don't swear."
Xander snickered. "I saw you do it the other day and then realize it, Tara." He patted her on the arm. "It's okay. You did yoga and recentered yourself that night." She nodded. "So.... we're heading.... Coney?"
"That's fine," Kate agreed. "Most local kids grew up on it." They both beamed at her. She realized she'd give Tara backup when Xander wanted to run wild. She could do that she guessed, and it would keep her out of harm's way. He even proved it an hour later when he caught a pickpocket and had to be pulled off the guy's throat. She had him arrested and the boy beamed at the beat cops, walking off with them. They went through Coney Island like the younger two were teenagers then they went to lunch somewhere she hadn't been, but it was good food. Then to a museum. Then Tara went home so she could go to bed early. Xander took Kate with him to the demon poker game. On the way he called. "It's Xander. Any news? She's getting a bit squirmy." He listened. "Sure. Poker." He handed the phone over. "Your minions."
She scowled. "They are not." She listened. "How bad?" She winced. "Yeah, I can do that."
"I'm mostly a gentleman. She can have my bed and I'll sleep on the couch with the cat," he said loudly enough to be heard. "That way no one has to worry."
She listened then looked at him. "They're worried someone might've spotted us earlier."
"It may not seem like it but Tara can kick some butt when she needs to, Detective. Sunnydale was dangerous. Plus in LA we were more on the front lines. She can protect herself if someone tries to break in. She might sob on them while doing a healing spell on their mangled bodies, but she can handle it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yup. You got put into our protection and we can easily protect you for the next day or so. My people want me to slow down anyway." He grinned at her. "Plus I doubt anyone here is going to do anything mean to you." He parked. "I've still got her. We're going to play some poker. Night, guys." He hung up and helped her out, walking her in there. "Hey, guys. This is Kate, I was asked to be highly overprotective of her," he announced as he walked into the demon poker center.
A few waved or grunted. One looked at her then at him. "I heard your trip included military guys," one growled.
"Not initiative military guys but yeah. John and Rodney were pretty cool bodyguards. They let me sightsee, get into local things. I even got to deliver a baby once in an alleyway." He grinned. "They're in Cheyenne's program." They all moaned like they were getting off. "The DCIS universe Willow sent me to....." He beamed. "Rodney was dating Abby, out of a lab in DC, there."
"I know of her. She would fit in very well with their insanity or yours," that demon sighed. He looked at the woman with him. "Not your usual sort."
"She's a detective. She got the last girlfriend." He grinned a cheezy grin.
"Ah, her. He's a shark, fair warning." He went back to his hand.
Xander walked her to a table. "The rules are slightly different," he warned her. "I can help until you get the hang of it. Even Tara can play kitten poker." She gave him a dirty look. "No one in their right or wrong minds would ever break in here." He pointed at one. "He'll eat them or hand them to the purple guy in the corner who pretty well runs this part of the town for these nice guys." He sat them down. "She's a newbie." He put down cash and they nodded. They got dealt into the next hand and he helped, giving her the major rules in her ear, getting a nod back. She wasn't too bad. She won a few kitties. He lost one but then a later hand won him half the pound's worth. He looked at the pouting demon. "Tara's cat is already pregnant." They all smiled at him for that. "The coven's getting the kittens if she has her way." That got a mass nod. "Equal value them, dude. Tomorrow. Or else I'm writing you into a story as a eunuch sex slave." The demon shuddered and changed colors.
"Most of us would make fun of him for it and it would make him lose standing in his clan," the dealer agreed with a grin for him. "Which would lose him his spouse and children to those nasty rumors." Kate stared at him. "His clan's honor is very important to them."
"Their clan lives on the samurai principle," Xander explained. "Rumors like that would destroy him and his life. Plus his bagel shop. Oh, Hubert, I saw your nephew. He was working with Howdy today."
"Thanks, Harris. I'll find him again later and beat him." He smirked at the human. "He's running away from his arranged marriage. I won't have that sort of problem from him. It cost too much money to buy his wife." He went back to his hand, throwing them down. "That's cheating."
Xander looked at the dealer. "Aren't you a lawyer?" he asked. The demon got up and fled, a few chasing him to kill him. "Pity." He got back to his next hand, letting Kate have some of his winnings when she got a bit low. She managed that hand and it was all right. Around four, they got tired and he brought her back to his place. He handed her stuff of his to sleep in and went to the couch to crash for now. Before she left, Tara snuck up there to leave some clothes for her to wear.
Rick looked up as their visitor plus detective walked in. He tipped his head to the side, kicking one of the detectives. "You look cute in Tara's dress," he said with a smile. "Any problems, kid?"
"Not yet. Does Alexis maybe want a kitten in a few months?"
"No. No kittens. Miss Kitty's knocked up?"
"Yup. Most of them will go to the coven but I figured I'd ask since she and Tara hang out."
"A kitten would drive my mother nuts. Otherwise I'd let her." He smiled. "You do look cute in her dress."
"It's a bit tight but it's very pretty."
"Tara doesn't wear that one because it's a bit tight," Xander admitted. He sat down in a free chair. "What can I help with? Some of the poker buddies said they'd call today before she got owed too much."
"What is the exchange rate?" Kate asked.
"Fifty per," Xander said.
"Ah. No wonder you got that rifle from a poker debt." He grinned and nodded. She looked at the detectives. "Well?"
"Not a whole lot," Espisito said, handing over the file. He wouldn't say a thing about the delicate dress with the lace neckline she was wearing. It wasn't her usual style at all. "Doesn't Tara wear corset dresses?" he asked Xander. Who nodded. "Then that's really modern for most of her tastes."
"Alexis and she shop," Xander said with a grin.
"He has my darling offspring looking over his new series for agency correctness," Rick told them. "She takes his generous two grand a book and goes off with Tara. Last time she came home in a corset dress that made her look very adult and new high heeled boots."
"I saw that outfit," the other guy said with a grin. "She looked good."
"She did but about ten years older." He looked at the detective, trying hard not to stare. She glared at him. He smiled. "It's different seeing you in something...girlish."
"Tara almost gave her the blue dress that Alexis helped her buy," Xander said.
"Doesn't she have a copy of that?" Rick asked. Xander smirked and nodded. "I gave that to Mother. She was too young to wear it."
"Alexis was?" Beckett asked.
"No, my mother."
"It's a very pretty wrap dress," Xander told her. "That's a bit flirty and a bit shirred around the waist and under the breasts."
"It made her look like an old time movie sex goddess," Rick told them, earning smiles. "She's not old enough for that yet. Though I'm sure Tara looked fantastic in it. She's got the body for it." Xander nodded with a grin. "Did you help them shop?"
"Yes, Alexis is picking up bad Buffy habits and dragged me shopping," he said dryly. "I'm also to blame for the black dress she'll wear to the next thing. Which is next week?"
"Next week, book party," he agreed. "You have a book signing tomorrow," he said dryly.
"I heard that on the answering machine this morning and Paula's order to go shop again." He shifted. "Which I sent back a text message of 'make me and watch me pick up a harem'. For some reason I haven't heard back yet." Kate snorted at that, shaking her head. "Was that who called?"
"That was Tara's aunt."
"That's fine. She'll call her at work." He stood up. "So, do I need to make her help me shop and pick up a harem today or do you guys have it?"
"She's fine with us. We have a few good leads," the minion said with a smile.
"Thanks," the other said.
"NP, guys. Really. Miss Kitty loved having me on the couch. We nap there a lot. If you need me, let me know." He walked off happier.
Rick smiled. "I told you he was more overprotective than all the department together."
"Yes he was. He was a perfect gentleman, even when he did teach me how to play kitten poker." She shuddered.
"They do what with them?" her boss asked.
"I saw one walking off eating his but otherwise, no idea. I won about sixty but they'll pay me in cash instead." He nodded at that, looking her over. "I'm borrowing from Tara."
"Ah. That makes sense." He walked off smiling. "You look nice."
"Thank you." She sat down. "What do we have?" They went over everything. They went out together to search down a lead and found the car tampered with so Rick dropped her off with Xander again.
Xander walked into Paula's office, staring at her. "I heard you barked at someone to find me?"
She looked up from her current reading. "No t-shirts, even without logos. No shorts, no jeans, no unclassy shirts."
He snorted. "I write fantasy novels, Paula. They don't expect me to wear suits."
"I don't care! You don't have to wear a suit but you do have to wear something decent. No stains, no logos...." She looked at his current t-shirt. "Co-ed naked? No thrift shop shopping." She found something and handed it over. "Royalty check."
"Water bills," he quipped back. "Heating."
"I talked to Tara. That's all covered and you have a few hundred thou in the bank, Xander. Plus royalties for the first book in the new series in a week. Those are from the other people for the last vampire story." He looked in and nodded. "Shop. Today."
"Whatever," he muttered. "I usually look decent enough."
She stared at him. "It'll be covered on tv."
"Oh." He grimaced. "Eww."
"Advertising is great, even when it's on tv," she pointed out impatiently.
He leaned over to kiss his life-runner on the forehead. "Have some ice cream, Paula. That vein's back." He walked off, going to the bank to cash the check. It wasn't *huge* but it was nice enough for a few outfits. Paula would spank very hard if he didn't do what she had ordered. Halfway through fighting hives from the designer prices at Sak's, his phone rang. "It's Xander." He listened. "Sak's but I can leave," he offered quickly. "Sure. Where?" He looked around. "Good for me. Be right there." He left, going to meet them at the other store. He took possession of Beckett again, grinning at her. "Sure, you can help me fit into Paula's idea of what a fantasy writer should look like since she said it'll be televised," he said.
Rick stared at him. "Since when?" he complained.
"She said so."
"Crap!" He called her on the way back to the car. "Let us know where you guys are." He slid into the backseat. "Paula, television coverage?" They pulled off.
He grinned. "Paula said I can't wear jeans, can't wear logo t-shirts, or anything too messy. Wanna be a girlfriend for a day?"
"Not here. Bergstroms is just as expensive as Sak's, kid."
"Last time she made me go to Nordstrom's and called my ex Cordelia out to help the personal shopper."
She snorted. "No, not good."
"I hit thrift stores but she said no."
"Filene's," she said, taking him to a cab and that way. She got them out and inside. "Discounted a lot. Mostly last season's stuff. Very inexpensive but still designer. It's how a lot of smart people do it." He beamed and hugged her, dragging her to look at clothes. She helped with a few color choices. Because his were hideous. And baggy for some reason. She wouldn't wear baggy things with his muscles. Somehow he found his way into the women's section and she found a few things she could use too. Bras, underwear.... Tara's bras were too big of a cup size for her. Xander bought it for her and they went to lunch at another interesting deli-like place that was serving Middle Eastern food. "How did you find here?"
He pointed at the cashier. "She used to be at the tables with us." He took his change with a grin. "This is Beckett. I'm her highly rabid bodyguard today."
The demon looked at him. "He's very good at it. I've watched him overprotect Tara for years." She smiled and got their food, handing it over. "There you go." They went to eat in a corner, away from the windows, and she enjoyed a lot of the food she hadn't eaten before. The demon went to spread some gossip. It wasn't often someone got Xander to go back into hunter mode but apparently she was decent and good. Some remembered her from the post-Glory clean up so she must really appreciate it. And she did look very cute in Tara's dress.
Xander went to find Tara at the signing she was at. Rick's signing was going okay. His was boring earlier and he had chatted with the fans for a while and answered a few stupid questions for reporters. The one Rick was at, there was supposed to be another author. He found a salesgirl, who gasped at him. "Are they late?"
"Apparently they forgot, Mr. Harris."
He grinned. "I know my roomie's here somewhere. Shy blonde girl?" She pointed and he nodded at her. Then he sighed. "Who was supposed to be at his back?" The tables were set up so Rick was facing one direction at a table and the other guy was at his back facing the other direction. The fans were getting pouty and restless.
"Mr. Creers. He's just come out."
"His publisher is going to shit." She nodded. He sighed again, noticing a few of his fans from earlier signings. He looked around, getting a text from Tara. He groaned. He had his pen still. "I have a new one," he offered finally after staring at that blank spot and the disappointed people. She squealed and got his new book, which came out the next day. He walked over and sat down by mounting the chair. "It looks like your regularly scheduled guy is running *way* late," he told the staring people. "But I have a new one coming out so I can temp for a bit." He looked back at Rick, who was snickering. "I do. The first DCIS one is coming out."
He smiled sweetly at the ones staring at the books being brought out. "Wow, I got a lot of them here." A few picked up the books and they came to have him sign them. He chatted, he smiled, he signed, he got hand cramps, but it was good and the readers appreciated that. The store did too. The reporter that was there to cover the event came over to talk to him as he worked. "I think it was sad that they were waiting on a guy who was so late," he told the reporter with a smile. "I hate to see disappointed fans. I remember being one of them at comic cons."
She beamed and babbled questions at him, the same he had answered earlier. No, he wasn't dating. Especially not Tara, his roommate. Yes, he had a lot more stuff coming out sometime soon. He told them which series were getting updated soon. Some of Rick's people joined his line after they got done with him and he smiled, winking at one as he signed an anthology that had them both in short stories. She squealed and went to check out then went to brag. The reporter got a good story. The fans were happier. It was a good day for him and Paula would be happy with him. Finally, the last few were gone and he looked over at Tara. "So?" he asked.
"We deserve chinese."
"We do," he agreed, shifting to look at Rick, who was staring at them. "How's the daughter?"
"She's grounded today. Her teacher said she made a totally inappropriate comment in class yesterday."
"She told me about that," Tara told him. "She noted other religions and the teacher hated it."
"Ah. I'll have to ask her more about it since she said she was probably grounded and went to her room to sulk." He smirked. "You two okay?" They smiled and nodded. "Thanks for filling in."
"I hate to see disappointed fans. What he did sucks ass," he said, standing up. "So, hmm. Paula's office for that coming out meeting next week?"
"I have one."
"I think it's together since I've got this one that just came out," Xander admitted. "She wanted me to go to yours for publicity."
"Ah!" He smirked and nodded. "Don't worry. It's a party with a bar."
"Still don't usually drink," Xander told him. He shook the staring bookstore worker's hand. "I'm glad I could help."
"You swore," she said quietly.
He shrugged. "I'm a young guy with a firm view of things. His not showing up deserved it." She smiled and nodded. "If anyone comments tell them I'm twenty-two and from near LA." She giggled and let them go. He walked out with Tara, looking at her. "Get enough books?"
"I did and if I like them I'll donate my copies to the library," she said quietly.
"That's something I can get behind," he admitted. "As long as they don't sell them." He walked her to the car, pulling out his phone and the keys. "2 missed calls." He called the person back. It was Paula on both. "It's us." He listened. "Hey, Rick, Paula wants to bite us," he called. Rick snickered and got into his car. "I did mine, Paula." He listened. "That's good though, right?" He smiled. "No, I came to pick up Tara getting one from his signing today and found out that Mr. Creer hadn't shown up. There were a whole lot of pouting fans. You know I hate disappointing fans." He hung up on her huffing. "She'll call back later." He got her into the car and walked around to drive. Before he could get in, someone came running his way. He stared at them. Then he got between the cars. A cop was chasing them. He tripped the guy, staring at him. "Him, Officer?" he asked with a smile.
"Thank you, sir. That was helpful," he panted. He pulled the guy up to cuff him. Xander got in to drive and took their chinese feast home. Paula could complain later but the local entertainment people had the story of him being so nice to step in for the missing author. She beamed and gave him extra noodles for it.
Paula stared at the two idiots under her control. "Xander, that was very helpful but his publisher is a bit upset."
"He was due there over three hours earlier," Rick told her. "It's unprofessional."
"It is, but they're still saying Xander needed the publicity."
"Not hardly," he snorted. "I was being nice to the fans. I also called the nice reporter who said I was a media whore earlier to correct that assumption. Especially since I had done one earlier that day and was really tired." She beamed at him for that. "I may not have come off as very nice, but I did correct that I did it for the attention. I also told her that I had plenty of attention and all the bad girls I could want." Rick burst out snickering. "And bad boys. Did they like that present?"
"I did," Rick assured him. "Thanks for that, kid."
"NP, Rick." He looked at her again, seeing the confused look. "The detective he's working with had a slight serial killer after her problem. I guarded her for a few days."
"That's nice of you," she promised with a smile.
"Some of his contacts told him who it was and he gave him to us as a present," Rick added with a grin.
"I should spank him for that."
"Why? He was trying to break in to hurt Miss Kitty. Speaking of, do you like kittens?" he asked.
"No. I don't need pets. I'm too stressed for pets, Xander. I'm sure her aunt will help her with them." He nodded but grinned at that. She stared at them. "Rick, you got very high praise for staying late."
"I had a lot of people left in line. It's unprofessional of me to leave when they're going to pout or something. Then they quit buying."
"True." She looked at Xander. "I think it was very sweet but warn me first."
"Yes, Paula," he sighed, shifting in his seat.
"Good." She handed over checks. "Coming out party Thursday," she noted. "Xander, suit. Not separates. No tie if you don't want to. Don't make an ass out of yourself. No sex in public." He nodded at those rules. "Who bought that outfit anyway?"
"Beckett took him to Filene's," Rick said with a smug look.
"I'll accept that. It's not a thrift store." She looked at Xander. "Are you bringing Tara?"
"She said no. They're doing a power raising ritual to help with one of the coven that's really sick."
"That's fine. I was making sure I wouldn't have to help her find something to wear. Rick, your mother and daughter?"
"I think she's going with Tara. She has no idea what Wicca does or is so she's questioning. Mother probably will. She's in the new play and wants publicity."
"That's fine. Make sure she doesn't get too tipsy like a few years back."
"I doubt she would."
"Good." She smiled. "Go play." They got up and left. "Oh, Xander, next week, not tomorrow. They had advanced copies for a later signing I had planned."
"No. I let that idiot have your later spot instead." He grinned at her for that. She went back to her notes and made sure she noted what had been talked about and that they had their checks. The higher ups wanted more concrete notes about that stuff for some reason. It wasn't like those two got into that many problems. Though she did think someone had heard about the baby Xander had helped deliver in Germany.
Xander looked around the book coming out event, hanging out in his corner. Rick's mother walked by with a smirk for him. "I think my first one will have a DJ," he told her, making her cackle.
"You could go mingle, Xander."
"I'm not real comfortable around people." He sipped his soda.
"Come on. It'll do me good to have a young stud like you on my arm." She walked him off, introducing him to people. He was polite, a bit shy and stiff, but they all realized he wasn't really used to attention. When someone showed up with a gun he stared at them. Rick shook his head frantically from where he was so Xander relaxed and let them deliver their present to him. It was planned and she was proud he hadn't pounced the guy. She knew Tara had said he was very action oriented. She introduced him to a few younger actresses and they didn't like him but one of the socialites did so that was nice. She was even nibbling on his ear by the end of their short talk. She left them alone to hit the bar for a new glass of wine and then to check on her poor, stuck in a corner by some woman, son. "Rick."
"Mother." He smiled and they had to make room for her. "I see you introduced Alexian to his next bad girl." The women around him giggled. "He does date very bad girls." A few went to talk to him. He smiled at his mother in thanks for helping him and Alexian both. He signed a few more books, another chest, and the party wound down. Xander was yawning a little bit by the time he had walked the last young woman, of fifty pretending to be thirty, out to her car. Rick smiled. "The building had bouncers."
"Who were rushing off to catch a purse snatcher that got some diamonds one of the guests was wearing." He opened another car door for another woman and she smiled, giving him a tip before getting in and letting her driver take her off. He looked then put it into his pocket. "I'll give it to Tara later." He smiled at Meredith. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, Xander. I know Rick said you date bad girls but surely you can find *someone* decent sometime soon?"
"We all hope since his last one wanted them to be sixteen," Rick told her. "Beckett had a lot of fun busting her."
Xander nodded. "She did," he said through a yawn. "Okay, I'm going to turn into a pumpkin." He looked around, patting his pocket. "Where's my keys?"
"You took a cab over," Rick reminded him. "And they're in your back pocket."
The kid pulled them out with a frown, letting him take the 'suggestion' off it. Meredith rolled her eyes but got the poor thing into a cab so he could head home. "He really doesn't party all that often, does he," she said.
"No, Xander's not really a party boy. Now and then he'll club but that's mostly to get laid." He escorted her back upstairs to make sure everything was okay then back to the apartment so they could go to bed as well. It had been a long night. Alexis was having ice cream at the breakfast bar so he sat beside her. "You okay?"
"I..." She ate a bite then looked at him. "I'm a bit confused."
"The first time I saw it work I got a bit confused too."
"Good. That means I'm not alone. I thought it was just a religion."
"It is for many. For a very few, they're like faith healers who get it to work."
"Most of those are fakes."
"Yes, they are, but I've seen a few that could do it. Tara's one of the few."
"If some wicca's are actual witches who can do stuff, what else is real, Dad?"
He smiled. "Ask her. I've only seen a bit of that world." He patted her on the shoulder with a smile. "You missed Xander picking up his next bad girl. Your principal I might add. Why did you get a note sent home?"
"I noted that not everyone was Christian and mentioned Hindu customs. I know she's narrow minded."
"Apparently. That I don't mind. I like your mind being very open." He stood up and smiled. "Hit the bed sometime soon, Alexis. You've got school and I've got work." He went up to get comfortable and lay down to read. Somehow Xander had gotten him hooked on that damn elf book of his. Maybe his writing was like the sirens of myths? He heard his daughter go to her room and it was good. She would work this out in her own mind. Tara was a good role model there.
Now if only he could get the dwarf jokes out of his head.
Xander strolled up to the desk at the station, handing the detective there a note. "Limping?" he asked dryly.
"Tripped during a chase," he complained, looking at him. "Let me guess, you dated?"
"No, I let her nibble on me at the book coming out party. Did a bit of searching. She's got ten open warrants in other states. And she's near Castle's little girl. One's for larceny but the others are listed as felony. No note of what."
"Oooh," he said with a wince. "I'll look. Thanks, Harris."
"Not a problem. Though I do need a new date."
He pointed at the board. "Date the guy in the middle picture. We need to arrest him."
Xander looked. "I screwed him in the club. Does that count?"
"Give me a list of those guys please? That way I can up my case solve rate?"
Xander smirked. "They could be bad in other areas, not just yours." He left, going to do some minor house shopping. He was bored. Paula said not to write anything else for two more weeks. What else was he supposed to do?
The detective put the name into his search engine, coming up with the warrants. Yeah, that was bad. He called Castle in to ask about her. Apparently she had really screwed up in New Mexico. "Thank you for introducing this one to Harris."
"What is she wanted for?" he sighed.
"Outstanding warrants." He let him see.
"Crap. It's her principal."
"Thank you." He smiled.
"Welcome. I've got to find someone decent for him to date. Before that gift infects me or Alexis, or worse Tara."
"He said he and our suspect got funky in a club."
"Yay," he said flatly. "I don't care if he is bi. I don't want Alexis to be under this curse." He walked off, going to tell his mother that. Since she had introduced them.
Xander was out on the dance floor when someone came at him with a knife. He grabbed them, turning them around so his arm was around their chest and one hand held the one with the knife. "Morning," he said in the guy's ear. "What were you planning?"
"You're dead!" he snarled, but Xander had him firmly held. "Let me go!"
"Shut up. The only way I'm letting you go is if the bouncer has pretty handcuffs for you." He walked him to the bar, and the bartender called the bouncer in to handle it. Xander handed him over. "He came at me with a knife. I don't even know him."
"You slept with my girlfriend!" he shouted.
Xander stared at him. "I've slept with many women. None that I knew were taken. I don't touch what's owned by someone else." The man growled and tried to get away. "If I had known, I would've avoided her. Though I don't know who you're talking about, but I generally don't touch those who're with someone."
"That's always a good plan, sir," the bouncer said.
Xander disarmed the guy and helped hold him down against the bar. "Are you sure you even want me? How do you know I did it?"
"You're the only one who looks like you, you gay bastard!" He was still struggling.
Xander shrugged. "I'll admit to bi. I date too many evil girls for gay." The bouncer snickered. "I do."
"I'm sure you do, sir." Officers came in. "This one came at that one with a knife," he said, handing the knife over.
Xander shrugged. "I don't know. He told me I slept with his girlfriend but I don't touch those who're linked."
"Where did he try to attack you, sir?" one officer asked.
"In the middle of the floor."
"Do you know him?"
Xander looked then shook his head. "No. I don't think so."
"Sir, do we know you?" one of the officers asked.
"I'm an author. A sci-fi/fantasy author. Before you ask, I did not set this up. You guys have arrested a lot of my former dates because I only draw the evil ones. I guess his evil one lied. Which, I know, what a shock." He shrugged and walked off.
The bouncer coughed. "The last time he was in here, we had to stop two girls from slicing each other to offer him the blood."
"Eww." They got the guy handcuffed and took him with his knife. Maybe they'd find out what he was talking about. The desk sergeant knew though. Apparently the guy was almost a legend around the PD now. It worked for them. Though the girlfriend was a mystery the guy wouldn't talk about.
Xander looked up from his writing when someone pounded on the door. "What?" he called.
"Xander?" Rick called. "Let me in."
Xander got up to let him in. "How long did you knock?"
"About five minutes. Writing again?"
"Paula said I could since the new series is well liked." He grinned. "So? What's up?"
"That guy that tried to knife you in the club. Who's his girlfriend?"
"No clue. He didn't say. Just that I had slept with his girlfriend. No pictures of her?"
"No. He did vow that she'd get him free and get you for having him arrested."
Xander nodded. "Okay, I'll be a bit more careful."
"Good." He smiled, looking around. "She really does like plants, doesn't she?"
"Yup. Though right now, half of those are kitty grass and things for her." Miss Kitty jumped up to meow at them. "Hi, Miss Kitty. How're you feeling?" He checked. "Your kittens are getting huge. We have to find out what we need for kitty births." He looked at Rick again. "Let me know if you find out and I'll see what I wrote down about her. I've been trying to keep notes on them in case something else happens."
"That'll work. Just try to be safe, kid."
"I try." He smiled. "Then again, not too many people try to jump me these days."
"Good point." He smirked. "Beckett is trying to break him so we know for sure." He patted him on the arm. "Tral is addictive. Are you maybe a siren?"
Xander snickered. "No. He's just good, dirty fun. Even if they did make me take out that tree scene."
"Tree scene? I got to where they kicked him out for the tree but I guess that's what they took out?"
Xander got into his files, printing it out for him. Rick read it on the way to the car, bursting out laughing once he was out there. Xander came bouncing down. "Oh, that's so wicked." Xander beamed. "Thanks, kid."
"Welcome. I needed to hit the pet store anyway so thank you for bringing me out of the story." He got into his car and headed off.
Rick went back to work. He knew one of the guys on the floor was reading the same stories so he handed him that snippet, making him cackle too. "They made him remove it and make it more subtle." He went back to helping break the idiot with the knife. They needed to know which woman it was who wanted to kill the kid this time.
Kate took the scene to read, grimacing at it. "What?"
"Tral, the half-elf? That was a part of book three that they made him take out."
"I'd declare peace if my greatest warrior was caught doing that to a tree too," she decided, walking off shaking her head. Sometimes the kid's head was very odd.
Xander walked into Tara's aunt's shop, looking at the new desk girl. He had no idea who she was. "Tara?" he called.
"Sir, this is a private business," the young woman snapped.
He stared at her. "Tara is the shop owner's niece, lady, and I don't know you so I won't ask what she's working on right now because you might not know." Her aunt came out of the back. "Tara said she was here. She's not at home. Miss Kitty is in the middle of giving her grandkids. Many, many grandkids."
Tara's aunt snickered. "Ten?"
"Six so far and she's going hard. In my closet of course."
"Of course. You know she loves your closet, Xander. She's not here though."
"She said she was coming here when she jogged out about a half hour ago."
"Have you tried her cell?"
"It's on the dresser."
"Oh." She grimaced, going to ask a few people if they had seen her.
"I knew I should've walked her," he complained. One of the other coven came down the stairs. "Have you seen Tara? She's getting furry grandkids and was heading here about a half hour ago."
"Oh, dear. No, I haven't. How many so far?"
"Six. Working on seven through one zillion."
She pinched him on the cheek. "Cats can't have that many, boy. Are you going to make her adopt them out?"
"I said she can keep two. But they're getting fixed." She smiled and nodded. "Anyway, with the guy who tried to knife me because he said I slept with his girlfriend, who I have no idea the identity of, and she's not here yet....."
Tara's aunt came out of the office. "She's at the bakery. She ducked in there because she thought someone was following her."
Xander went that way, shaking his head the whole block. He walked in and stared at her. "Just following you?" he asked dryly, staring at the black eye.
"I'll kick their fucking ass, Tara. Who hit you?"
"Hey!" the counter boy said.
Xander looked at him. "She's like my sister. I'm going to ruin someone for doing that to her." He looked at her. "Well?"
"Someone at the library?" she guessed. He stared her down. "I don't know."
"You see him, you point him out to me. Like the muggers, he'll never do it again." He walked her up the street. "Here we go. She used the 'someone fell' excuse." Tara's aunt tutted and took her to the office to check her over. He looked at the other coven member, shaking his head. "You'd figure the mugger I made run up the light pole to get away from me for trying her would've told others."
"I would think that, yes," she said with an evil smirk.
He stared back. "The last time I saw that look, Willow turned me furry." She cackled, giving him a hug before walking off. "When you're done, you need to come play mediwitch to the cat, Tara."
She came hurrying out. "We have kittens?"
"We had six when I left." She took his arm and walked him out, going back to the house very quickly. "My closet. Right under the organizer." She giggled, getting some wet food and clean water to bring up there. He sat down, turning on the tv.
"Xander!" she shouted.
He jumped up and ran up the stairs, staring at the box. "Let me check the other things. Are they okay?" She nodded. Miss Kitty was dead. "Get the kitty out of her." She nodded, working it out. He called the shop on the way. "It's Xander. Tell her that Tara's cat died in the middle of labor. She needs to take her to the vet's now to see if there's any others we can save." He hung up and checked. "They're going to be very sorry. They came in the front door." He called in the break-in. He checked. The gun cabinets were still locked when he undid them. There was nothing missing. There was a rose on Tara's bed that he hadn't put there and he knew hadn't been there earlier. He carefully checked in her closet. Nothing. Someone pounded so he let the officer in. "I found a rose on her bed that I didn't put there. She's up in my room with the cats." Tara's aunt was behind them and hurried up to help her. "Was it natural?" he called.
"No, baby, it was poison." She came down with the birthing box they had set up and Tara sniffling beside her. "I think there's a few more. We need to get to the vet," she told the officer.
"I'll want a report on what killed her, ma'am."
"Of course." She walked out with Tara.
Xander looked at them. "I have no clue. I do date bad girls but damn if this was one of them. They know not to touch Tara and that she's like my sister. Also that I'll turn into Ares if I have to so she's protected."
"Calm down for now, sir. It could be nothing. The cat could've gotten into a plant that was poisonous."
Xander stared at him. "That cat was like Tara's kid. There's nothing poisonous around here."
"You checked with a nursery?"
"Yup, and Tara's Wicca. She knows more about plants than some teachers of herbology."
"Okay. That's good to know. Can you find the source?"
Xander went to look around again. He found it and grabbed one of the socks he hated to wear, so it was clean and in the drawer, carrying it down. "I know damn well we don't have that in the house. Tara gets this herbal mix for bug stuff." He let them take it. "You can have the sock too. I hate that pair."
"Try to stay calm, sir. Let us handle it."
Xander stared at him then smiled. "Of course I will. Unless I hear first." They nodded at that, making notes of it. They left after making the report for their insurance and Xander started to call around. If this was hunting related, he was going to go back to being Xander. If this was girlfriend related, he could stay Alexian and let the cops handle it. What he heard did not amuse him. He called a warning out to LA then sat down to wait, worry, and seethe. The local watcher had known after the fact but hadn't had time to warn him. His girl was in danger too and he had to protect her. Xander had offered his help but he said he had it and they were going to LA that night. Tara came back sniffling with the box of kittens. Her aunt followed and shut the door. "What can I do to help?" he asked quietly.
"Find the person and kill them," Tara said bluntly.
"The Council." She stared. "They were taunting on their way out of town. They came after the local girl because she's been sick recently. She got mono and they're sure she's going to be called during it."
"Faith?" she asked quietly.
"I warned. She's going to be safe. The local girl is headed out to be safe with them tonight." She nodded, sitting next to him. "Since they're cowards, we'll deal with them when they show up the next time. I will be making them sorry little fuckers." He gave her a squeeze. "How can I help?"
"We need to bottle feed them," she said, taking them to hold in her lap. "They saved one."
"Wonderful." He smiled. "We can have furry grandkids. You know that. I'll even let you keep three instead of two." She smiled and nodded, letting her aunt run out for kitten milk and bottles. "How do we teach them to use litter?"
She smiled sadly. "They'll know. I'll help." He nodded and they settled in to help the kittens so they thrived. He didn't need to write for the next few days anyway. Or the next few weeks really. Tara would grieve for a while but he'd help her too. It was the sort of guy he was.
Xander walked into the station, going to the visitor's section. He waved at someone and they scowled, following him. He found his idiot being visited and tapped her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, Miss Watchers Council?" She gasped, staring at him. He smirked. "I thought I knew you." He looked at the idiot. "Is she the one I supposedly slept with? Because I'd never do that. I hate Watchers." The man gaped then started to babble at them. The detectives hauled him off to talk to him and her too. He walked out, shaking his head. He had another stop to make. The British Embassy. He walked in and smiled. "Hi, I need to see your Watchers Council member on staff please?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, sir," the receptionist said pleasantly. He pulled out his original ID and held it up, making her gasp. "Oh, I see."
"I'd like to see the coward that just pissed off the whole Sunnydale team," he said quietly. "I promise I'll be gentle and only yell at him for his cowardly behavior of breaking into my apartment and poisoning a pet." She ran off. He stared at the higher embassy member. "I know you're not one. It's really dumb of them to have their membership online where any hacker like Rosenburg can find it."
"Oh, dear, you know them?" Xander held up his ID with a smirk. "Hmm." He held up a picture from the prom. "Oh!"
"And he just proved what cowards and losers they are. I'd like to point that out to him if I may. Before Tara loses it in her grief over her familiar."
"No, she did," he said, taking the printout out of his pocket to hand over. "It was her, one of my neighbors saw her coming up the stairs."
"Oh," he said weakly. "Let's do this in my office, shall we?"
"Sure." Xander followed him, smirking at the other Watcher in residence. He hauled him with him. "You can join us since you guys just pissed off the *whole* Sunnydale team." He pushed him into the office first. The other one was sent for. He stared at him. "So, did you help the cowardly bitch?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Mr. Harris."
"The attack on Tara's familiar. Who was in the middle of having kittens." The man flinched. "She's already cried on Willow and Daniel and Buffy and Faith and the local girl's shoulders. Plus her aunt's coven's shoulders. You'll find I'm the reasonable one at the moment."
"It's just a cat," the embassy person said.
"To some, their pets are closer than their children. Especially since Sunnydale radiation means that it's less likely for her to be able to have kids."
"It is?" the watcher demanded.
"Yeah, heard that from many sources." He looked over as the woman was let in. "Oh, good, the cowardly bitch is here." She flinched, staring at him. "Yeah, we know it was you. By the way, the fingerprints matched. Your car door? A goldmine of them."
"You had no right," she said.
"Yeah I did. You broke into my house." He smirked. "By the way, this is a warning that you've now pissed off the whole team and Rosenburg started to go dark about what you did. We had to knock her out three times so far to keep her from going after you." The woman swallowed. "Daniel said to quit doing it."
"Daniel?" the other watcher asked.
"Oh," he said flatly, backing away. "Do we think she'll go after the Council?"
"I think she'll go after some members." He smiled sweetly. "And I think if she stays in New York, I'm going to make sure that I cancel every single one of my kitten poker debts. All the dream demons that owe me. All the mental ones that owe me. The three vengeance ones who owe me a hell of a lot." He looked at her again. "And all the others." She was shaky and white now. "Your choice of course. I realize you're on native soil, and you might even have diplomatic immunity. Which do you think will win? Magic and demons or the Council?"
"You've messed with things you don't know about," she said stiffly, raising her chin.
"Really? Since, ya know, I was born there?" She gaped in horror. He smirked and took off the necklace he wore. "When we moved to LA, after Sunnydale got shut down because I turned in a few cults, Tara made it for me so I quit drawing worshiping demons." She shuddered and backed away. "I would sincerely like you out of my country. Willow suggested you leave the same plane she's on, but I know that takes going to the travel agency on 12th. Oh, by the way, had to clean up that mess you made with the guardian clan. Someone realized I might know and called me down to read what was written around her." She flinched at that. "Also, some of us are the hunters in this city. We do tend to keep track of all the beings you've killed. Sentient, thinking beings who had no intention of causing harm."
"Can you prove she did?" the embassy worker asked.
"Yes, I can," Xander said, handing over a small disc from his back pocket. "From the town's Overlord." The man moaned. He looked at her again. "You know, if you guys weren't such failures at what you do, it'd be amusing. Unfortunately you've failed for years by making the girls act like underage soldiers and spies. We kinda proved it didn't work since Buffy's now twenty-four." She growled and came at him. He just moved out of her way. She hit the desk. "I won't even try to hit you back since we're on your native soil, lady. Beyond that, you're not worth breaking a sweat or the cost of a bullet. This is the only warning anyone in the group is going to give you so I'd scoot home. Quickly."
Thunder went off outside. "Oooh, I think Willow's here." She fled. The other one fled with her. He looked at the older guy. "Sorry to air that in public but they also used a biological weapon on their local pre-slayer." He pointed. "That's on there as well. Blood workups." He walked out, heading home. He dropped the tape recorder on the table, smiling at Tara and taking a kitten to feed. "Go hide those better, Tara." She went to do a better invisibility charm on the higher weapons stored in the back of her closet. He sat down to cuddle, coo, and feed the babies. Willow could handle it. They'd handle her if she went evil again.
Xander got the page to come down to the station, walking in and handing over the tape. "I did not threaten her. I informed her of a threat to her miserable, worthless life."
"Sir, this woman committed suicide."
"Good. Since she broke into our house to poison my near-sister's cat while she was giving birth. She dosed a young local girl with a bioweapon to make her very ill since she was considered too weak to do her calling. She's better now. She's in LA." He laid out the copies of what he had given. "That note is where I went to warn her that her minute speck of soul was in danger from her unworthy of being called human actions."
The detective listened to the tape, which was what he had gotten from the embassy. Then he looked over the evidence. He nodded at it. "That explains why she noted in her suicide note that you drove her to it."
"I would've killed her but she wasn't worth my energy expenditure." He stared at the officer. "You don't torture people. You don't take out a lot of them because you consider them not human. You sure as hell don't break into my apartment and poison pets. Especially with that little price her group has on my head." He handed over that note with a grin. "I wanted to get a few words in before someone else got her. She needed to hear that her soul wasn't worthy of an afterlife; even hell wouldn't want that thing." He stood up. "Am I in trouble?"
"Um... I'll see," he said.
"I'm at home nursing kittens." He left.
The detective brought it to his boss, who was pissed that she had done that. He knew the unofficial code about demons. He called the person over that matter. He said to leave the boy alone. He had the right to do it. Someone would talk to the boy about anger management classes. He told the detective that and it got filed away.
Beckett knocked on the door, getting the boy and his ...helper. "I don't know why I got nominated to talk to you about your hatred of British people." She walked inside, letting him shut the door.
"I don't hate all of them. Just the ones who belong to the ancient and secret society of the Watchers Council." He sat down, going back to his feeding. "Sorry, it's time." He nodded. "Can you feed her? This one's being picky and she's going to start howling soon."
"I guess." She sat down to feed the kitten a bottle. "You know that the English are our allies? All that?"
"Yup. All but them. Especially since they still have a price on my head. In the case of the two at the embassy, it was fair warning that I was going to make them leave this city for good. Protecting myself and any others from weak minded plans."
"How is their former girl here in town?"
"Buffy's mom has adopted her, against her Watcher's orders. They decided she was too weak to do the job if she did get called since they had plans of taking Faith out in jail." He looked up at her. "Between her genocidal delusions, that price on my head, and them going after her for having emotions that she let out a few times, I want them off this plane too. Preferably before I send Tara on retreat for a week or so."
"Is she not okay? Did they dose her too?"
"These all belonged to her cat, who was the only stable love she had through all the Sunnydale and Willow stuff," he said quietly, staring at her. "Plus, as we recently found out, it's possible these are her only kids. There's too much radiation out there that probably screwed things up. It could never happen and she wants to be a mom some year."
"You aren't as worried about that?" she asked.
"Men make more sperm every few days. You girls don't."
"Oh," she said flatly, nodding she understood that. "How possible is it?"
"Fairly if what we've heard is true. Miss Kitty was the one truly happy, special, loving thing she got out of all the drama in Sunnydale. The first really special thing she got since her mother died."
"I didn't know that."
Xander nodded. "So yeah, what they did was so low it's beneath hell and she was causing other problems. That scene in the park? That was her doing." She shuddered, looking back at the cat. "Plus hurting the girl because, oh my god, she wanted to cry over a movie of all things. That she was getting emotional like a real girl." Beckett scowled. "So they gave her mono on purpose and set out a nice notice to the local underground where she lived." She shuddered.
"Very few wanted to go after her and only a few of those actually did. Thankfully she was with Tara aunt at the shop trying some teas to see if they could help her feel better faster. I think that's why they went after her familiar. It's still the move of a coward and if she had stayed I would've sent out the same sort of notice with her home address. Tara's well loved because she'll help anyone who needs her help, even if they are from a violent clan, even if they had tried to attack her before."
"She's a very gentle soul," she agreed. She looked around. "Is she at work?"
"She and her aunt are burying Miss Kitty's ashes. I offered to come along but she told me it was a witch thing." He shrugged one-sidedly and finished up with the kitten, getting the next one. "Thanks for the help."
"Not a problem. Can you try to be more circumspect?"
"These little guys need to be fed every two hours," he told her. She smirked. "Yeah, I was running on six days of no sleep. Or else I would've ambushed her at her car."
"It was nice that you handed over that fingerprint. Even though she did have immunity."
"That way her own people are aware of the sort she is. London has one of the biggest underground communities. They live in an uneasy truce with the Council. They know not to go after the girls, even the not called girls. They know not to go after the Sunnydale team because they know we'll end them faster and more meanly if we have to. The ones we took down didn't get nice funerals," he said at her look. "Like with Glory - if we have to destroy you, we will. Then we'll go have chinese." He went back to feeding the cat. "I'm not so sure Tara won't need to take a grief leave retreat. She can't center herself and she can't seem to move on yet. Right now she's walking around like she's a ghost."
"You get that when you have that tight of relationships. Didn't you ever have a pet?" He shook his head. "Most pet owners are that torn up, kid."
"It's been two weeks and I don't mind that she's so torn up but by now I'd have expected at least a few bright, happy moments to appear. Like when one of the kittens made it out of their birthing box, she didn't even smile. She started to cry."
"That could be bad, yeah." She looked toward the door and he nodded he knew someone was there. "She'll get there."
"I was going to suggest a few days at our cabin out of town so she could get closer to nature again. I can handle them most of the time on my own." Tara came in and stared at him. He held up the cat, letting her cuddle it. "They're not Miss Kitty but they're not the sort to make you cry."
She sat down next to him, taking the bottle to feed him. "I'm trying."
"I think maybe you need some recentering time. Some time alone to grieve, let it go, let the goddess handle it for you, and then come back to them," he said quietly.
She nodded. "I might."
"Then you can go to the cabin. It's in the middle of nowhere, or it's near cousin." She let out a small, timid smile. He hadn't seen that since her first few months of dating Willow. He put an arm around her shoulders. "It'll be okay. I'm not saying it's time to quit grieving, but it's time to not wallow in it. It's time to let some happies in. Like that one earlier I put into the litter box. She buried herself but she seemed to get the point. Pooped right next to it." She snickered. "See? I've missed that."
She nodded, kissing him on the cheek. "I know. I have too." She took the other kitten back. "I'm sorry he made you help."
"It's all right. I've never fed a kitten before." She looked at the boy. "Be less obvious."
"I will be. I'll just send out something with her address and list of sins."
"Please don't. I don't want to answer that homicide."
"They'd probably give her to someone who'd eat her," Tara offered.
"So just a missing person's case?" she said dryly. "Still not a thing the good side does." She stood up, staring at Xander. "That was your one strike."
"Did you hear that the guy who tried to knife me was one of them? That her sister had sicced him on me with that lie?" He smirked.
"Yeah. I gave that stuff to the same detective who looked that over."
"Huh. I'll look into that. Still, no more. Unless they're attacking you." She stared at him. "And find a way to get rid of the artillery. If you need it in this city, we'd all better know in the PD."
"What artillery?" he asked.
"The stuff you have in that storage area on 5th that you go to every few weeks, kid."
"That's not artillery. That's another poker circuit. That's actually more mobbed up demons than the ones I took you too. Some have paid me in guns. That AK came from them. The armor piercing bullets too. Because if I need them to get through body armor or shells, it's a dire need."
She stared. "I want an inventory."
"Hell no! You'll try to confiscate it on me," he said bluntly, staring at her. "Beyond that, I'd probably be paid in some next week when the one mobbed up demon who owes me about 400 kittens gets paid."
"Does he sell to humans or anyone who might use it against the country or city?"
Xander considered that. "I don't know," he admitted. "I know he won't sell to humans. He considers most of us pets. I kinda get around that due to some biological contamination and exposure I got way back when." She looked confused. "Swim coach wanted us to be faster. So he exposed us to mythical sea creature DNA. Some of them turned black and monsterish. Which is why I went undercover to see what was going on." She whimpered.
"It doesn't beat thanksgiving when you got given those diseases," Tara said quietly.
"Rodney said that their doc could find it," he admitted.
"I thought they left when the ghosts did," Tara said, looking at him.
"Apparently not as much as we thought."
"What?" Beckett demanded. Xander got into his laptop, letting her read that incident. She got done and stared at them. "They can get that from you?" she demanded. He nodded slowly, looking confused. "What are you doing to stop them?"
"Marital arts class? Weapons?" he guessed. "Demons don't want it?"
"With the women you date...." Tara burst out in giggles. "Some might be."
"I'm not in any system as having them. You, the team, I think someone told Castle, and Rodney's people know."
"Who's Rodney?" she demanded.
"Remember the bodyguards on my European trip?" She nodded at that. "The two later ones were John and Rodney, who are both on a special ops military project that I think is very good. I had some implanted stuff for them from when Willow sent me to that DCIS world."
She gaped. "What do they do?"
"John's a colonel, Rodney's a physicist. He kept saying ghosts giving diseases were illogical." He shrugged. "I trust them. So unless someone like NID breaks into their records again, no one knows."
"You have security here, right?" she asked, looking around. Xander pointed at the weapons cabinet. "No, I mean like an alarm? Some way to get some help if you're attacked by a gang? Does EMS know?"
"It's not really more than what you get if you've had measles from what I understood," Xander told her.
She huffed. "Measles isn't as dangerous as those." She walked off shaking her head, going to talk to her boss and the guy who overlorded any demon issues the NYPD ran into. She walked past Castle. "Thanksgiving," she said, staring at him. He shuddered. "So you knew?"
"I have known. It's in a sealed file in DC that NID has rated 'too difficult unless you find him in a coma'."
"Follow." She walked into the office, closing the door once he was in there. She looked at the other higher up. "Harris."
"Has he apologized?"
"He's running on lack of sleep. The kittens are being bottle fed since they killed Tara's familiar. Probably for the slayer in training getting help from her after they dosed her with mono on purpose."
"I heard that. He's still too blunt."
"He had a point. I don't want them here either. The list of what she caused to die or killed is horrifying."
"True. Did you meet anyone when he took you to play poker?"
"A few. All very nice to me and a few who had dirty thoughts about me in Tara's corset dresses." She stared at her boss then at him. "Thanksgiving."
"This years?" he guessed.
"Harris has...been gifted with some ....issues thanks to something that happened on one," Castle told him.
"Be less obtuse, Castle. How do you know?"
"I like the kid. Tara and my daughter hang out all the time too."
Beckett looked at him. "They may be right about Sunnydale's radiation sterilizing people."
"I suggested someone she should see. She's avoiding it."
"Right now she's pretty deep in her grief. She can't even smile when the kittens do cute things." She looked at her boss again then back at Castle. "Do you have a copy of that report?"
He looked in his PDA, nodding. He handed it over. "I figured it might be pertinent some day. Especially with the two military guys that guarded him on that signing trip."
"Their special project?"
"More mind altering than watching Tara fuss with plants from across the room?" he suggested.
"Good to know."
"Presidential oversight only. I only got hints of what it's doing but the kids seems to think it's a good thing."
The higher up stared at Beckett. "Really?" She nodded. "Is he safe?"
"He seems to think so. Like anyone who's had measles as he put it."
"Security system on their apartment?"
"He pointed at his weapons cabinet and that's not a storage area, it's a mobbed up demon poker circuit. Thanks to his time on the swim team he's accepted?" He found that mention and whined. She took it to read over then handed the PDA back to Castle. "He doesn't have a suicide patch as far as I know."
"No, he doesn't," Rick agreed. "He doesn't do too many dangerous things though."
"If someone finds out, he's in trouble and so is everyone else," the higher up said. "I'll put a small word in the ear of EMS," he decided, looking at her. She looked relieved. "Any other issues?" he asked that team.
Castle shook his head. "Not that I know of."
"They said if she came back and the demons got pointed in her direction, like she did to the girl in training locally, they'd probably eat her so we'd have a missing persons case instead of a homicide."
"Good to know. They can help with that," he agreed. "I know a body parts procurer was using a few that way." He grimaced while she and Castle shuddered. "I heard about your serial one. Different person but thank you for catching him." He looked at their captain then back at the detective. "What did you want to suggest?"
"Security system beyond Tara and the weapons? I did advise him to either hide any higher weapons better or to get rid of them. He said he didn't have any."
"Where are they?" Rick asked.
"He won't say. With the layout of the apartment, I'd bet on some off-site storage. He said he'd probably be getting some from a poker debt soon." The higher up snorted. "I don't know, sir, and I'm scared to ask. I did ask for an inventory but he said I'd confiscate so no."
"I'd trust the boy not to use it," he admitted. "Though why is he not sleeping?"
"Kittens need bottle fed every 2 hours," she said.
"Oh. I didn't know that." He considered it. "For how long?"
"I think six weeks," she admitted. "Six or eight to weaning. I counted eleven kittens."
"Castle, can your daughter babysit some night? The kid without sleep is probably not a good thing."
"I can volunteer to take the weapons cabinet keys," he offered. "She might want to keep one."
"True." He considered it again. "Okay, someone talk to the boy about the benefits of a security system. I'll drop a word to EMS about him having been exposed to those two diseases. Can they find it?" She nodded. "We're sure?"
"He said Rodney said you could find it."
"Damn it. Talk to him about a suicide patch? It might be handy for hunting if he's captured. Rule out him being sacrificed, that stuff?"
"I can try," Rick offered.
"Thank you. You're on good terms with him?"
"Yeah. Tara and Alexis are shopping buddies."
"Even better." He smiled. "Can we find him a non-toxic boy or girlfriend?"
"Please do," Castle said. "Before that gift or curse rubs off on me or my daughter. Or worse, my mother. She introduced him to his last one. She ended up with ten warrants from Arizona."
"Wonderful. See if you can find them someone naughty but not evil."
"For some reason my ex-wife likes him but he said she's a lot like the ex who became a nun after cheating on him." Beckett looked at him, giving him that look. "He walked in on her and Tara's ex on the couch together."
"Ooh," she said with a wince.
"He said she was always talking about and wanting sex and money. Got so far as to call sex orgasms. Nothing less worked for her. Which is why some of his dates complain that they're really exhausted as they're being arrested. So when given a chance, he cast a wish to redeem her. That she'd find faith and charity. She countered it with one for him to get really famous and get groupies, but that he'd dump them and go back to her when they got boring. She's just taken her full vows a few months back." She cackled. "Tara blessed her ex to find a nice man who wanted a lot of kids. His name is Daniel. He's from near Cork, Ireland." She snickered at that, shaking her head. "Apparently my ex reminds him a lot of Anya, that ex."
The Captain and the other higher up both shook their heads. "Introduce him to some socialites," the Captain ordered.
"I have. The nice ones won't give him the time of day. The naughty ones have decided to get into a system of going even worse to get his attention and the truly evil we've mostly arrested."
"Wonderful," the higher up said, looking upset. "Well, try. Please." He walked out, going to talk to the head of the paramedics in the fire department. This was information they didn't want to get out but someone had to know before they got accidentally exposed.
The captain looked at them. "Anything else I need to hear?"
She nodded. "Tara may be out of town for a few days on grief leave."
"That's fine. I'll check to make sure he's going to be okay with the little furry monsters." He walked out, going out to the desk. The other guys they worked with were staring at him. "Funny story about Harris."
"Someone else he dated?"
"An ex. One he found cheating. So he cursed her money grubbing and nympho self to be a nun." They both burst out laughing. "Yeah, I liked that idea too. It's very mean." He cracked open the latest Tral book then sighed and handed it off. "It's addictive. Don't let me have it back. I don't know how he did it but it's rotting my brain at the moment."
Beckett came out, looking at the book then at him. "You read fantasy?"
"Alexis got me the first one as a tease. I ran out of stuff to read and didn't want to reread that night. So I picked up that one to see how good he really was. With the way he sells I'd expect him to be next to King. That series is addictive. I swear it is."
She shook her head. "How bad can it be?"
One of the other detectives looked over. "I've reread that series four times," he called. "Is that the latest one?" Castle nodded, smiling at him. "Can I bum it, Castle? I can't get a new copy until the library gets it in."
"Sure." He came over to get it, taking a coffee break for a few minutes to start it. He looked at the others. "Harris also is an idea generator. If I'm near him for over ten or twenty minutes I get ideas. A lot of ideas." He looked at Beckett. "This upcoming convention is going to be insane."
"When is it?"
"Six weeks in LA."
"I usually do. I do a lot on the newbie panel. The kid does the young writer's most years. It's a lot of fun. The farce panel is the best."
"Like cop conventions, you guys get to revel in being book nerds who write around others," Espisito said.
"A lot, and there's clubbing after hours," Castle shot back with a wicked smirk. He watched as a small thing went running past, naked. It was bright purple so hard to miss. He pointed. The others all shook their heads. They hadn't wanted to see it.
Beckett looked when it came back, clearing her throat. "If that's a lost poker bet, do it somewhere else," she hissed. It nodded and ran off, going out the fire escape. She sighed, getting back to her paperwork. "Does anyone non military know?" she asked finally, looking at Castle.
"Not that I'm aware of. NID hates the kid. Apparently in that cabin problem he had in Colorado, he caught one trying to break in and made him regret life."
"Where is the new one?"
"I think Missouri. I'm not sure. I know it's in the woods outside a small town that's almost in the middle of nowhere. He did a lot of work on it while he had that broken rib too."
"Ow," she said, rubbing the last one she had broken.
"No. Ow was him being so mad he was chopping trees the day after he left town to hit the first cabin," he assured her.
She whined. "Painkillers?"
"Yup." She walked off to get more coffee, shuddering.
"He was doing what?" the captain asked.
"When Harris bought that first cabin in Colorado, he was so upset with our publisher that he chopped down seven or eight trees. He also had a broken rib at the time."
"That boy needs help."
"Tara has him well in hand most of the time," he admitted. The captain walked off nodding.
"Why can't he date Tara?" she asked as she came back.
"Tara's a lesbian? Also, they're too close to date. They're like siblings." He shrugged. "I'm hoping Tara finds someone nice and sweet. She deserves one and needs one."
"Maybe they have a slightly wicked sister for the kid," one of the other guys said. "A past criminal history but went straight sort."
"Could be," he admitted. Anything was possible but that had started a very heavy idea. He took some paper and a pen to write it down, earning a smirk from Beckett. He hadn't been this inspired in a long time. Maybe they made drugs to slow the flow down. Like they did for diarrhea.
Alexis ran into Tara at home later that night. Her dad had said she was still upset over losing her cat. She cooed at the kittens, helping Xander feed them. The girls talked while Xander slept sitting up while holding a bottle in the cat's mouth. It finally napped with him so she carefully took it and the bottle while Tara got him laying down. The girls took the cats back to Alexis's house. Her father groaned when he saw the box. "Xander finally fell asleep, Dad. He needed it."
"I agree he needed it but you can't have a cat."
"I know. They're going to Tara's aunt's friends." She settled down to watch a movie while helping her.
Her grandmother came in and paused. "Tara, dear. It's good to see you out and about."
"I'm still sad."
"Dear, it was just a cat."
"Grandmother, some people are closer to their pets than they are to others," Alexis told her. "Especially if you can't have kids or don't have any yet."
"Nonsense. You should get out and date, Tara. You're pretty and young. That's what youth is for."
Tara blushed but shook her head. "I can't find any nice girls. I've had a few but they were too tough."
"Hmm. I'll ask around for you, dear." She patted them on the head, staring at the cats. "I remember doing that with your father a few times."
"Xander hasn't slept in about a week because they need fed every two hours right now," Alexis told her.
"So did he for a few weeks." She got something to drink and went up to her room. She didn't want mushy thoughts about kittens.
Rick snickered from his desk. Tara walked in and handed over the bag. "What's this?"
She smiled shyly. "Xander found things online and they talked about plotbunnies." She went back to helping feed her kittens. She should be doing more than Xander was. He needed to write.
He stared at the small stuffed bunny and the bunny cup. Then out at the girls. He decided to look up plotbunnies and groaned. He had avoided thinking about those sort of things for years. "Do these infect him too?"
"He said that they nibble others. He just watches and smiles." She smirked. "He said he found the first one for Tral. Tral and one of the warriors of Ethoa."
He shook his head quickly. "I don't want that thought, Tara." She giggled. He got up to get some water and went back to writing. Maybe the plotbunny had some power. He was getting a new idea. For a whole different book than he was working on. He put them behind him on the shelf and got back to it. Though he did have to make the stuffed rabbit quit staring at him. It was almost creepy with what those things were. Alexis finally crashed and she was gathering up the furry beasts to take home. "Tara?" he called quietly. She came into the office. "Beckett had to tell a few people about his exposures," he said quietly.
"I thought she might to keep them safe in case he got really hurt."
"One higher up and he'll be telling one of the paramedics so it's not an open secret." She nodded. "But things were suggested to keep you two safer in case it did get into the open. Things like a security system for your apartment? Maybe with an emergency switch for you? That way if you get mugged or something, he doesn't have to beat them for you?" She shifted but shrugged. "There was also talk of someone mentioning a security switch inside him." She looked clueless. "A suicide switch, Tara. So in case he's about to be sacrificed to some higher being, it ruins it, or in case someone captures him? So they can't get his blood?"
She swallowed. "I know he knows what they are. One appeared in a book. I don't know if he'd go for it or not."
"You might want to mention it to him. That way no one else has to. That way you two could talk about it. If he wants, I can probably get the name of someone." He stared at her. "The same as I did for you."
She blushed, ducking her head down. "I'm not sure I want to know." She glanced up. "It's like asking for future trouble."
"If you know then maybe it can be weeded down or something. Maybe a way around it found." She shifted but shrugged a bit. "Just something to think about but...." He found something on his computer and printed it, handing it to her. "We can do that. So it's still yours."
She read it then looked at him. "We can?" He smiled and nodded. "Wow. I thought that was future tech." He grinned. "I'll consider it."
"Thanks. And suggest those to him so he can think? Once he's finally awake again?" She smiled and nodded, heading out. He got back to his ideas. Apparently the bunnies did have a lot of them stored up. "So much for prolific. What's another word for overly-prolific?" he muttered as he typed. "Soon I'm going to have a word count like the kid's." He yawned but kept going for a bit longer. He needed to put something out soon.
Tara handed the kittens and supplies to her aunt's coven. "These three are mine," she told them. "The rest can be adopted but they're just starting to show personalities." She smiled. "Thank you."
"Not a problem, dear," her aunt assured her. "You have their schedules written out?" She pointed at the bag, looking serious. "You know we'll be fine and if Xander wants to help some more he can do that here. I know the boy needs to sleep some."
Tara nodded. "A lot. He keeps falling asleep while feeding them." They all smiled. "Thank you." She gave them hugs and went to catch a cab to the airport.
The coven all cooed at the kittens, picking their favorites to feed and nurture for their youngest member. Tara could fuss nearly as well as Xander could.
Tara was shopping for dinner in the town near the cabin when she ran into problems. Not her problems, which was a relief. She saw two guys going to do something with a lumpy bag and they seemed so familiar for some reason. She subtly followed them - something she had learned in Sunnydale - then saw what they were doing. When the creature attacked, she floated it long enough for them to grab a gun to get it. She smiled and went back to the town to finish her shopping. The place didn't even have a good first aid kit. She looked up from buying some bandages, spotting one of them doing the same thing. She walked over to him. "Hi," she said quietly. He looked at her. "I have a good first aid kit." Then she realized who this was. Xander's notes had him. "Sam?"
"Do I know you?" he asked.
She shook her head quickly. "But I know about you. I was in Sunnydale." He gaped. "Come up to the cabin. I'm stocking now so we don't have much yet but we have plenty of bandages and I'll make dinner." She paid and walked out, calling Xander to wake him up. She got up there and found things arranged for her to grab. She pulled them and set up the first aid kit and the few guns into the locking cabinet, then she made dinner. She smiled when she heard the car, going out to let them in. "Hi," she said quietly.
The other one got out of the car. "Sam seems to think you know us, Miss."
She smiled. "Tara Maclay. I was helping the slayer in Sunnydale for a while."
He gaped. "What?"
She nodded. "First aid kit is inside. Including stitching kits and local, boys. I'm making cornbread and stew." They followed her in. "Xander just bought this place." She smiled at them. "We're still stocking."
"This is better than our first aid kit," Sam said. "I thought you said you were restocking."
"I got ours from New York." Dean glared. She stared back. "I'm a second generation witch, Dean Winchester."
"How do you know us?"
"Xander got misplaced to another realm where he met the two of you. I saw his notes because I help proofread for him." She smiled.
"Were we hunting?"
"You were surrounded by a lot of young slayers," she told him. "Training them to hunt."
He whimpered and shuddered. "Damn I must be insane."
She giggled. "Maybe." She pointed. "It'll take about a half hour for the stew to finish cooking and the cornbread. Go ahead and do what you need to do, boys." She got back to work in the kitchen.
"So, we know of the slayer as a myth," Sam said, coming over to watch what she was doing.
She smirked. "She's in LA now. Ever since they shut down Sunnydale and gave it to the peaceful demon community. The agents gutted it and it had to happen I guess."
Sam looked confused. "There's a peaceful demon community?"
"Yes. You didn't hear about them?" She scowled at a wall and concentrated, calling a few books. One she had to save from the sink. "From Willow's collection. She sent that one." She let them have them to look through while she finished. She was making sure they saw what she was doing so they wouldn't be paranoid. She cleaned her hands off and came out to look at Dean's shoulder. She stared at him, then opened the box and pulled out what she'd need.
"I bandaged it."
"I can smell the blood, Dean." She looked at him. "I'm very delicate."
Xander walked in. "Howdy," he said.
"How did you get here?"
"Willow's paranoid. I told her to take an EPT. So she banished me from the couch to here." He yawned. "Sorry, her familiar had kittens we're having to bottle feed." He looked at the injury then pulled out something else. "You'll need a bit heavier gauge of thread since that's a moving spot."
"It's bandaged," Dean said firmly. Xander took off his shirt, making them stare in horror. "How in the hell, dude," he said, staring at him.
Xander smiled. "Sunnydale, home of the hellmouth. Some from battles, some from apocalypses, some from patrols.... Some from girlfriends." She swatted him but went to check on dinner. He handed over the vials. "Pick a local, dude. I'm good at it. I was our field medic."
"If we have to," Dean complained.
"Yeah, you have to," Xander said, showing him the bandage. "You got demon poison snot." He found that vial and shook it, pouring it into the wound. Dean tried to move but he held him by the back of his head, not pulling his hair just a hand on it. "Give it a minute." He pulled out the sterile water to clean it then dried it with some clean gauze before opening the stitching pack and putting on gloves. He did quick, neat stitches that Sam grinned at. "Got any?"
"No. One small claw mark, a lot of bruises." Tara handed over a corked bottle. "What's this?"
"Her bruise potion. It's wonderful," Xander assured him. "I've used it a lot." He finished up and rebandaged it after letting Dean look at it. "There. Better?"
"Much, thanks, dude."
"Xander, Dean." He finished taping it down and dipped some clean gauze into the potion, letting Dean dab it on any bruises. Sam beamed at Tara for it. She smiled back. Xander sniffed. "Stew?"
"I felt like cooking."
"Good. It's good you're getting back to yourself." He gave her a hug and a kiss on the forehead. She poked him so he let go. He let them have one of the spare rooms too. The boys went back to reading the books, looking confused. Xander whispered in her ear, getting a nod and another book being brought. This one had a dried ear in it. "Here, this is Wes's. He's a former watcher. He's in LA working with the girl now that he has sense." He stared at them. "Get those back to him in LA for us." He smirked and went to check the wood.
"We don't need more firewood, Xander. You've already cut down half a forest," she called. "Come start one in the living room." He brought in to get it started, Sam helping with that. Xander grinned at him and they got them settled in, with food after a few more fussing things. "He bought the cabin recently," she told them.
"That's cool," Dean promised. "So, you're a hunter?" he asked Xander.
"About the only one in New York but most of the dangerous stuff is gone for the year. Plus we have higher beings who keep down the dissent at the lower levels."
"I heard Miranda was up there," Dean said.
"She finally got the last of the one that took out her family," he sighed, looking up at him. "About three months ago."
Dean slumped but nodded. "I can understand that."
"It was a huge fire," Xander told them. "With the clan in there too."
"Damn," Sam sighed. "I liked Miranda that one time I met her."
"She liked to growl at me whenever I offered her some help or intel," Xander said. "She was a kill them all sort too. The locals stayed out of her way as much as possible."
"There really are peaceful demons?" Sam asked.
Xander nodded, grinning some. "We get a lot of information from their kitten poker circuit. Like people, there's bad ones, neutral ones, ones out for their own best interests, peaceful ones, a few hippie ones up there. They have a commune outside the city. The same as there's white witches and dark witches and those who have magic addictions and slipped."
"That can be an addiction?" Sam asked.
"We know one who had a tough time admitting that problem," Tara said, looking at him. "She's finally admitted it and is accepting help. She's down to only necessary spells again."
"No more thinking her way is the only right way and enforcing it," Xander agreed. "Her new husband is very happy with that."
"It's nearly their first anniversary," Tara realized.
He grinned. "I sent a card with both our names."
"Thank you, Xander. You're a good pseudo big brother." He beamed back. "The kitties?"
"They should be fine. The coven should spoil them rotten."
"I know but I still worry."
"There's a cell tower, Tara, call later."
"I will." She dug in again.
"We've never run into demons that weren't trying to harm people," Dean told him. "Or witches really on the side of good."
"I was born with this gift. It's what I use it for that counts," Tara pointed out. "The same as seers do or mediums."
"True, I guess," Dean admitted.
Sam nodded. "I know there were some flesh eaters around Stanford that never attacked anyone. I know someone came after them my junior year." He ate another bite of stew. "You cook really good, Tara."
She beamed. "Thank you, Sam. Xander's not picky outside of no meatloaf." She ate another delicate bite.
"I'm not that picky anyway," Xander told her. "You know, Beckett got all sorts of compliments on that dress you let her borrow that day." She blushed but smiled and stuffed her mouth. "There's sixteen species that eat flesh if I remember right," he told Sam. "I know four of them will make deals with hospitals or morgues for their supplies." The brothers gave him a horrified look. "A few more will but they're also more militant. Most of those are from off-plane and only have a few members here. The first four have multiple clans on this plane and are from here. They're bred down remnants of the Old Ones who used to rule." He ate another bite. "I know most of them don't prefer to hunt, outside of three species, because it brings attention and attention is anathema to most species. One of them that hunts is actually a popular enforcer in the demon mafias. One of them currently owes me 435 kittens from a really bad hand of kitten poker."
"Is he paying in cash?" she asked.
"Of course. He knows not to bring you more cats I'll have to fuss at for wanting my chair. Plus our apartment would never hold that many cats."
"True, you'd never get your writing chair," she agreed. She ate another bite. "Let's see, fifty per cat...." She considered it. "New guns?"
"Maybe. Don't know yet." He grinned. "We'll have to see." He scraped his plate and went back for seconds. "Guys?"
"Please," Dean agreed, getting up to get his own. "There's demon mafia organizations?"
"Six or seven families and a few more that're set up along the same lines instead of clans," Xander said, coming back. "Kitten poker is like the Texas Hold'em of the demon world. We're both pretty skilled because we can get intel from the group and they're really protective of Tara. They know if one of them hurts Tara, I'll end the whole underground in New York." He ate another bite, ignoring her swat. He smirked at Sam then at Dean. "It's really pretty cool. Them I never worry about. Even if there's some harmful things, like vamps, who move in, they know to tell me so I handle them before they cause everyone problems and bring more notice." He ate another bite and chewed, taking out a piece of gristle.
"Oops," Tara said.
"It's okay. I'm surprised you made stew since you don't usually eat meat."
She smiled. "I found the deer steaks."
"Ah! Yeah, it kinda tried to come through the door with me." He finished up and got her more salad and bread. She smiled and got herself the rest of the cooked vegetables she had pulled out of the stew before she had added the meat. Sam took some too, earning a beaming smile from her.
"How did you guys find out about these sort?" Dean asked.
"Sunnydale was hot and cold running demons," Xander told him. "Way too many vampires and a lot more species trying to hide. So when I jumped in to help the slayer we had just gotten, I learned a lot. For a sixteen-year-old it blew my mind about other species. Especially being a sci-fi geek." He soaked up some of the stew's juices with his cornbread. "Over the course of five years worth of patrol, apocalypses, and other problems, I made a lot of contacts. Some good, some not. We had just moved past our fifth anniversary when the FBI decided Sunnydale was too dirty and the demons scared the crap out of them too much."
"I heard a bit about that shutting down," Sam admitted. "I guess that sucks for you guys. So you moved to New York?"
"Most of us are in LA. Tara and I are in New York. She's a librarian, I'm living the bohemian lifestyle as a writer. We're just off Lexington in Manhattan if you need us."
Dean grinned. "Good to know. So, how many species are there?"
"No clue. The Council has an estimate but they're also fuckheads." She kicked him. "They are."
"I heard you went to threaten them for me," she said, staring at him.
He smirked evilly back. "No, I warned them that they should flee the city and country before I got them, you got them, or Willow got them. Though she suggested they leave the plane totally."
"She could probably get them most anywhere," she sighed, shaking her head. She finished her dinner and got up to do dishes but Xander pushed her back out there and did them for her. Dean and Sam handed over their dishes and went back to reading. Tara fussed at a few things then came to dose Sam's bruises again. By morning they'd be barely a sore spot. He flinched, not realizing she was behind him but the cool gauze and fluid felt nice on them so he let her. Dean smirked at her. "I'm not hitting on him. He's not a girl," she said quietly, ducking her head.
Xander looked at her. "Don't tempt Willow."
She snickered. "I talked her out of that plan."
"I know." He finished up and came out, going to fuss over the fire then the weapons. She rolled her eyes but she knew that was his thing not hers.
Dean looked in the cabinet. "Nice selection."
"They're a minor part of the collection from home," Xander admitted with a grin. "They didn't come in handy out there in Sunnydale but they sure do at other times." He finished up and closed it, then went to check other things. He looked at Tara, who squeaked and brought sheets. He put them on the beds for the boys then went to check his own. She had been sleeping in it so he went to the other guest room and bunked down in there. He was still exhausted.
"He's been helping feed the kittens for the last few weeks," she said quietly. "They take a lot of work."
"I've seen it done with puppies," Dean said, grinning at her. She got the bruise potion and new gauze out for him. He tried to duck but she scowled. She was mothering him he realized and it felt odd but she was sweet and gentle. Hard to believe she hunted. Until something outside screamed. Then she glared at a wall, muttered, and the wail cut off in mid-noise stream. She smiled and went back to fussing over them. Dean would let her, this time. He did feel a bit pitiful thanks to he injuries. Plus he wanted to know more about this. It was definitely not what their father had taught them. Tara turned in after making them some more coffee. Dean looked at his little brother. "We should tell Bobby about this stuff."
"It needs to go back to LA so we might stop there overnight and let him look," he offered quietly.
"That could work," he decided. They finished up and went to bed after cleaning their cups out for her. She was lightly snoring but that was fine. It was all the more cute for being an alto, delicate snore with one or two occasional bass snores added in.
Xander walked into Paula's office on Monday afternoon, staring at her. "Sorry, we were at the cabin talking with some other hunters. What happened?" He noticed Beckett was in there too. "Problems with a date? I haven't in the last few weeks."
"Castle got taken by some fangirls and they're saying that the police aren't going to do anything," she told him. "He doesn't want to press charges because they're being weird but *fans* but we still need to rescue him."
"You guys need me to go in and stun them?" he guessed dryly.
"That could help," she agreed.
Paula cleared her throat. "We need you to decry that movement as well, Xander."
"No." She glared. He stared back. "I love my fans, even the ones that write take-offs of my stuff. I'll be like some that set rules, including no making profit from it. I'm not going to be a bitch like some authors are. I'm thrilled that someone liked Tral enough to write one!" he said with a manic grin. "Tara said I nearly danced around with one of the kittens when I saw it." Paula huffed. "I know that it's an expression of them liking it. I know that they'd do it even if I did clamp down on it. I'm not going to be evil to my fans." He grabbed a pen and her notepad, writing out some rules, letting her see them. She added another one. "That's good?" he asked.
"That'll be acceptable but if they try to get things published for more than fans...."
"Then I'll sue the hell out of them." He took it to the secretary. "Can you type that up for me?" She nodded, taking it and typing it quickly. He looked it over and signed it then tucked it into his back pocket. "Okay, do we know where he is, Beckett?"
"We think so."
"Then let's go. I can make them drool on me if they're bad girls." He followed her down to the car, waving off the vest the guys brought out. "I doubt most of them have guns, guys. They're probably in there asking him a lot of really strange questions." He walked up and knocked on the door, staring at the young college-aged girl who answered. "Niki Heat asked me to retrieve him. She's a bit pissed." She gaped so he walked in, followed by the three officers. He looked around then looked at Rick. He had messy hair, a tugged on shirt, and was looking a bit harried and maybe a bit frantic. "You know, I've got to write this into a book. Nice staging, ladies."
One coughed. "Who're you?" she asked in a tiny voice.
He smiled. "Alexian Harris. Rick's my mentor." He beamed at the older man then at her. "My near-sister is even his daughter's shopping buddy."
One whimpered. "You're Alexian Harris?" she moaned, moving closer to run a hand over his arm. "Wow, you have muscles."
He smirked. "I can use a sword and a battle axe. Rick's little girl said I gave her very strange yet happy thoughts when she and Tara caught me practicing."
"I don't want to know that," Beckett told him. "Though you didn't look too bad the time I caught you, kid." She undid Castle's cuffs and helped him up. "Should I arrest them?"
"I'm sure they won't do it again. Or else I'd have to come and then I'd use my bad girl powers to make them all evil and beg." Xander stared them down but handed the paper to one. "My publisher said I had to make a stand on the issue of fanfic. Those are my rules. Follow them and I'm honored. Don't and... well... I *am* creative." He walked over to another one that was nearly vibrating, kissing her on the cheek. "I've seen you at the last few signings." He winked and walked out following the officers. "Have a good night, ladies." He shut the door behind him. He jogged down the stairs, looking at Castle. "You okay? Were they my sort of woman?"
"I'm fine. They did ask a lot of questions that proved I had plot holes." He leaned against the car, rubbing his wrists. "Paula let you get away with rules?"
"I told her I was honored and thrilled when people liked my stuff that much and she saw the rules first." He smirked. "You sure?"
Rick reached over to swat him. "Don't tell me that my little girl got hot watching you work out."
"Yes, daddy," he quipped, getting another swat and a head shake from the detectives. He grinned at them. "I'd never touch her. She's too young and much too nice." He beamed. "So, anything else I can help you with, detectives?"
"Go home," she ordered, shaking her head.
"Night." He bounced off, getting a cab.
The guys both shook their heads. "He needs a real girlfriend," one said. The other nodded.
Beckett looked at them. "Go ahead and find him one. Please. Before we have to arrest more of them for him." She looked at Castle. "Want a ride home?"
"Please." He stood up. "Is Alexis all right?"
"She's the one who called," she assured him, letting him into the back seat. "She thought it was something odd and wanted to know if she should call Xander back from his cabin." She got in to drive. The other two arranged themselves after a quick game of rock/paper/scissors for the other front seat. She rolled her eyes but that was them being men. She got them back to the office, Castle home, then went to have a long, hot bath with a glass of wine to cure the crankiness with humanity.
Xander got stopped the next morning on his way out to get a paper, smiling at a young woman. "Yes?"
"You're Alexian Harris."
"I am. Do you read my books?"
"I have." She smiled. "You set out...rules?" she asked quietly.
He snickered. "Yeah, I did. Paula, my publisher said I had to. Personally, I'm absolutely thrilled that someone loves my stuff enough to write fanfic off it. That proves that my stuff is really great and people love it. I nearly danced around the apartment when I found the first one." He grinned again. "Just stay within those few rules and I'll be more than happy. An old friend who lives in LA used to write stuff back in high school from that one show with the really young doctor."
"Oooh!" she said, beaming back. "So you know?"
"Some. I've stared over her shoulder, gotten babbled at about her story ideas, all that." He winked. "That's why I'm not going to be mean. I love my fans. If it weren't for them I'd still be working construction. I do many things when my fans ask. So I'm not going to be mean unless you're making money off my stuff really. The other few things were a pairing I could not see, no matter what, and would probably get really horrible thoughts if I had to read and a few other simple things like that."
She smiled. "Thank you."
"Not a problem. I love my fans." She skipped off. He finished his trek to get the paper and to Tara's aunt's shop. He walked in with the paper under his arm and looked in the box. "Are we missing one?"
"She's being fed," the shopgirl said dryly. "What are you doing here?"
He looked at her. "They're my kids too." She huffed. "Not like I can have kids." He carried the box into the upstairs working room since the office was closed. "Ladies."
"Xander," one said, taking the box from him. "Were you missing them?"
"A bit." They let him help them feed the little ones. "Are they up to longer than three hours between feedings?"
"They're about two weeks from weaning," one of the ladies told him. "We're at about three and a half hours between. They're starting to explore." He grinned and nodded, letting the kitten rest in his lap while he ate. The cat seemed to love it. It even peed on him. He shrugged it off and let them keep working for now. "Tara's due back when?"
"Um, probably a few days. She ran into a few hunters and we had a long chat. They're going back toward LA with a few of the books she borrowed for them." He grinned at the older lady. "They were pretty nice and she even fussed, even if they did try to get out of it."
"It's good she was making new friends," her aunt's friend said dryly.
Xander looked at her. "Remember the teaching team in the newest series?" She swallowed but nodded. "Them."
"Oh." She blinked a few times then stared at her kitten. "They may be dangerous to know," she said quietly. The others stared at her. "There's some rumors about the ones after them for being so good."
Xander smirked. "As opposed to the ones who only want to sleep with me?" he asked dryly.
"Yup," she agreed with a smug look. "You do need better taste, boy."
"Hey, find a way to counter my bad girl drawing power or find whatever did it so I can fix it," he quipped. "I'll date good girls if they like me." He put that kitten down, letting her rest next to her siblings. "You know, the first day I asked if I had to burp the little things." They all giggled. They heard the door's bell go off and he listened then huffed. "Craptastic." He went down there, still feeding the next kitten. He stared at the man there. "What, oh great minion of Beckett?"
"Smartass," he said dryly. "The other minion is missing."
"The fangirls steal him?"
"We think so."
"Shit." He walked off, still feeding the kitten on the ride over. He walked up and kicked the door until someone opened it. "No, you can't have him either."
The girls all stared at him. "You have a kitten," one said.
He smiled. "Tara's kitty had kittens right before someone poisoned her. So we have kittens. I've been doing a lot of bottle feeding for the last few weeks."
"Is she your girlfriend?" one asked.
"No, Tara's the blonde girl," he said. They all beamed and nodded.
"They know your roommate that well?" Espisito said from the chair he was tied to. He looked a bit stressed out and his hair was messy too. Clearly those women were mean to him.
"Yeah, Tara helps him and makes sure he does things other than write," one of the girls said with a beaming, happy smile. "She's like his sister and helps him tons." She leaned over. "Awwww. It's adorable!"
"Tara's finding new kitty homes for all but three of the eleven," he told her. "You'd have to ask her and her aunt, who runs that nice Wicca bookstore about ten blocks from us." They all nodded. "Now, can I have the detective? I'm feeling the urge to date again. Or else I have to work on book five of the DCIS universe but that would mean ignoring them." They all moaned and gave him begging looks. "Once these guys don't need fed all the time. They're about weaned."
"Hold on, your publisher has four more?" another girl demanded.
He smirked and nodded. "She's got a good five or six years worth of stuff to go out so far." He winked at her. "Tral's got another part coming out in about four months." They got the detective undone. "If you want her to change the order that they're coming out in, write Paula. She's mine and Castle's publisher and she makes those decisions." He let the detective walk past him, handing him the kitten. "Here get a cuddle, dude. You probably need one since you're not used to bouncy, smart, good women either." One got her book and brought it over with a pen. He winked as he signed it and handed it back then took it back to draw a kitten footprint too, making her kiss him. "There you go. Anything else today, ladies? If you show up at the store, they might even find me if it's necessary or you guys just want to give me ideas. After all, fans are great muses. And you wear better clothes than the Greek ones." He walked off happier. Behind him the girls all cooed.
Xander took the kitten back. "Thanks. I'm not used to baby anythings." He stared. "Is it all right? It won't open its eyes."
"He won't for another week probably." He smiled at the detectives. "Can I get a ride back?"
"Of course," they agreed, taking him back to the store. On the way there their captain ordered them to the office. They tried to protest that they had him and the kitten but he only groaned and ordered again. So Xander and the kitten got to visit.
Castle looked up and smirked. "Is that the new fashion accessory instead of a tiny purse dog?"
"Give them two weeks, they'll be in everything," he quipped back. "They're trying to explore already." He looked at the captain, petting the small, distended stomach. "Yes, they're why I haven't been sleeping well," he said dryly at the odd look.
Beckett snickered. "How far between feedings now, Xander?"
"Three and a half. Her aunt took them for the last weekend." He looked at the captain again. "What?"
"Are they going to keep doing this?"
"I told them who to talk to about stuff and where to find me if they wanted to." He grinned a sweet, innocent grin. The captain glared. He turned up the innocent boy look.
"Clearly your last town let you get away with bad things."
"Well, no, they ignored everything. That's why the FBI shut them down." He let Beckett see the kitten. "I think this is one of our future ones."
"He's cute. Tiny, but cute." The kitty made a noise. "Did he just fart?"
"Belched. He just ate on the way over to the fangirls' place." He smiled at the captain again. "Any other public services I can offer? I'm getting that dating urge again."
"Please don't," she begged. "It's already too busy this month. Please, kid?"
"Hey, we could use the stats raise," one of the other guys on the floor complained. She glared so he ducked back behind his monitor.
"Turn them in to him," she ordered dryly. "Go back to the store."
"I was taking him back there but we got ordered in."
"Fine. Go," the captain ordered. "And I still want an inventory of your ...research cabinet, kid."
"Nothing that big in the cabinet, Captain. Really, this is New York. All the closets are tiny. Where would I store them?" He walked out. The other two followed shaking their heads.
Beckett and the Captain both looked at Castle, who shrugged. "His are small. Tara's got a bit of one but even if they're in there she's probably gotten them hidden in some way; we'll never find them."
"What happens if there's a fire or something?" she asked.
"No idea," he admitted. "I think he's trying to find a good storage area. He was asking Paula about one because that downstairs neighbor who is insane is out on bail and tried to commit suicide by fire the other week."
"I heard, that's why I'm asking," she said bluntly.
"No clue and no idea where they'd move to either." He shrugged. "I'll invite him over for poker sometime soon."
"Kitten poker is played differently," she warned.
"I don't want to know," the captain said, going back to his office.
Castle smirked at her. "Nice job," he said quietly.
"Thank you." She got back to her reports and he finished his 'civilian helper' forms. The two junior detectives came back and it was easier for them to get to work too. Even if the one was complaining about being tied to a chair and pumped for information on Harris and Castle. That was too freaky for his normal guy world.
Tara finally came home and went to the shop to check on her furry babies. They were up and trying hard to get out of the playpen her aunt had turned upside down over their roaming area. "Awww." She sank to her knees, staring at them. "One's missing?"
She pointed at the cat on top of the bookshelf. "I can't find the ladder."
Tara looked, scowling. "Get down here, now." She climbed up and got her then came back down cuddling her. "Naughty you," she teased. "Wait until you can sit on Xander's shoulder to do that. We have many way up high spots."
Her aunt snickered. "I noticed that." She patted her niece on the head. "Are you all right?"
"I'm okay," she assured her, looking up. "Why?"
"Xander told us you fussed over two hunters," she said quietly. "They draw worse than your boy does."
"Oooh." She blinked, petting the kitty. "I don't know. I can look that up." She gathered the others to take home. "I'll pick out mine this weekend."
"I know you will, Tara girl." She watched her take the new carrier into the cab and head home. "I wonder how many she'll talk the boy into letting her keep."
"Xander said three and he seems a bit too tough," the register girl complained. "I don't see how she puts up with him."
"She gets to fuss and mother him all she wants because the boy gets lost in his writing," she explained with a smile. "Plus he's a lot like a proper big brother is. He threatens her dates to make sure they're good to her. He makes sure she's got whatever she needs. He's very good to her." She went back to her office to call around and let people who wanted kittens know that Tara was back and they'd know which ones were up for adoption by Monday.
Tara walked into the store, looking around before walking up to the counter. "Is Gregori here please?" she asked quietly. "I wanted to ask him a question."
The demon stared at her. "You're a white witch, girl. What do you think he can answer for you?"
"I'm Tara," she explained. He backed up, giving her a fearful look. "I think Gregori knows something that another hunter needs to hear. I only came looking for that." He rang his boss, who came out of his office to tower over her. The guy was like nine feet tall and baby blue with one huge eye. "Gregori."
"Tara." He looked her over, sniffing. "Not Miss Kitty?"
"Stupid Watchers," she muttered. He gave her an amused look. "They poisoned her while she was birthing. We have kittens." She smiled, pulling out a picture to show him. "She gave us some wonderful kitties. Xander said we can keep up to three. The rest go to my aunt's coven."
He smiled at the picture. "They are adorable." She put the picture back into her bag. "What did you want to talk about?" She glanced around. "Come, we'll have tea. I have that wood fungus tea."
"That is very tasty," she agreed, following him. She sat down and let him put the tea things out. She pulled the notes out of her purse and handed them over. "I ran into them over the weekend."
He stared at the notes then at her. "That is a dangerous thing to get in the middle of." He reread. "This is in that world he's writing about?"
"Willow sent him there," she explained, taking a sip of the tea. "Hmm, fall gathering too. Very nice." She smiled. "They're still searching here. Xander had a vision." He shuddered. "If they don't, we'll have a final apocalypse as he put it. Including angels," she finished quietly.
"They said the world would end if he dated a nice girl," he quipped, sipping his own tea. "You can't show them that?"
"I can but I'm not sure if that is correct for this world," she admitted, taking another drink.
He considered what he knew. "Many bets are being taken in this matter."
"Do they know I got to help Xander take care of some injuries this last weekend?"
"No, they don't," he admitted. "I'm not going to tell anyone that either. It will definitely throw the odds if they knew that."
She smirked. "I got them into the classification books too. They had no idea about the other societies." He moaned, shifting his chair. She smiled, taking another drink of her tea to drain the cup. "Is it right here?"
"If you tell them, something bad may happen."
"Dean was saying his father should hear about some of those things."
"He is alive," he admitted. He shifted again. "This will definitely interfere and there's a lot who want him to succeed."
"I put the boys on with Buffy so they can talk about how to handle things like apocalypses. She said they were good but didn't have enough style."
He moaned again, clearly getting hard at that thought. "The father is a very bad hard ass."
He nodded. "He does not like witches."
"There's some I don't like either. If he's only known them, women of the Goddess would be out of his range as well."
"True. As far as I know this is correct but there are higher powers involved."
"No. As you said, angels."
She snorted. "Angels who try to end humanity and create apocalypses are not angels. They're demons of the highest orders of Hell."
He smirked. "Well said, young lady. Go to him. He's in Chicago somewhere." He found something and handed it over. "He's tainted by the same thing that has tainted his boys." He let her see the spell he had.
She wrote it down and smiled, taking the notes back. "Thank you." She went home, going to gather a bag of things. She cast the spell in her bedroom, staring at the fighting going on as she landed. "STOP IT!" she bellowed, pulling up power. "This is not how the Goddess wants it!" The demons all snorted so she burned a few. "Slayer's team." The rest fled, all but one. She stared at her. "Morning." She looked at the hunter. "I've come to find you with some information from another realm that has where the demon that wants your sons may be."
He growled. "How do you know about that?" he sneered.
She knocked him back then called Xander. Who was naked and wet from his shower. "Xander, she's a possessing demon."
He looked at himself then nodded. "Sword maybe?" She handed him her bag. He dug out the weapons and went after her. He glanced at the hunter. "Hey, John Winchester. Hi. I saw the you in another realm after they had taken out the demon who was after your son Sam." He kicked the demon back and got into it with her. She was panting and pissed off. "Yay, bitch. You're so pitiful you don't even register on my bad and evil girl radar. You're not even evil enough to get me hard." She screamed and came at him. He ducked her grab, tripped her and then got her in the back of the neck with the dagger. It wouldn't kill her but it was going to make her miserable. He stepped back and let Tara do the chanting over the body. He walked to John's spot. "So, anyway, a witch who was having issues sent me to another world."
"Who are you?" he demanded coldly. This was definitely something that most hunters would freak out at.
"Xander Harris. Also known as Alexian Harris." The man gaped. He smirked. "The DCIS world? It's real." John shuddered. "You and your boys were training all the slayers. The me there, you, and your sons took out the demon's plans while the slayers, I believe it was mostly Buffy, took down the devil's gate he wants to open." The man stared at him. "I can tell you what they told me about it. I'm sure Tara has notes."
"She's a witch," he said bluntly.
"Yes, she is. A second generation white witch who helps hunters and slayers." He smirked. "By the way, we met and talked to your sons this weekend."
She came over. "I trapped it." She looked at him. "I had to take the time to see if the information was as correct here as it was there," she said, handing over the notes.
He looked it over then at her. "I don't trust witches."
Xander leaned down since he was sitting. "We both backed up the slayer in Sunnydale, Winchester. We've had more than our fair share of apocalypses and my vision about this said if you don't solve it, it's a *final* apocalypse. Including higher beings with fluffy wings." John shuddered at that. "They're prompting it in some cases. And not all on the side of bad either."
"How dare you!" a voice thundered as a man appeared.
Xander looked at himself then shrugged. "Oh, well, if you want to come stare at my naked ass, so be it." He looked at John again. "We want to help you three stop this shit. Now, would you read those over so I can fill in anything that's not in there?"
He read it over while the angel huffed and came over to stop them. "Cold Oak. Devil's gate. The colt... Shit."
"Basically, which is part of the problem. See, if he takes Sam, it starts it," Xander said. He glared at the angel. "Go for it, dude. I've earned my reward many times over for saving the damn universe and realm." The angel tried to hit him but Xander ducked and shrugged. "Damn, they don't teach you guys how to fight either? That really sucks. Are you guys run by Watchers?" John gave him a dirty look. "They do suck. We hate the bastards. Literally in some cases." He ducked another blow and then fought back against the angel. He was stronger and faster than Xander was but so were vampires. This one he'd put at Spike's level. "Hey, Tara, get me Spike please?" he called, dodging another blow to hit him back.
"Oh!" she said, getting it. She summoned him and he vamped out. "He's evil," she told him with a point. "He's helping start a final apocalypse. Xander had a vision."
"He's human, Glinda," he complained.
"No, he's possessed," Xander said. "It's an angel inside a human's body."
Spike moaned like that was the best present ever. "That'll heal most every one of us." He grabbed him and snapped his neck. Not enough to kill him but enough to incapacitate him. He drank deeply and felt the chip short out then burn. He moaned in pleasure.
"You touch us or his sons or the team and I'll get you myself if I have to," Xander warned him.
Spike sneered. "Not here for you yet."
Tara handed over a picture. "The Council poisoned Miss Kitty but she gave us kittens."
Spike looked then smirked at her. "They're cute."
She smiled, putting it back. "I can put a compulsion on." He groaned but she sent the body with him back to LA. Xander took her phone to text message Willow. She looked at John again. "We've dealt with higher up interference before, Mr. Winchester. They hate Xander."
Xander nodded. "A lot." John just gaped at them in horror. He grinned. "Anything in there that you still need?"
"A name," he said bluntly.
Xander snickered. "I didn't include that in case someone got into my notes. Azazel. This isn't his first attempt and by my visions and that Sam there's, he's got another backup plan in place."
He stood up. "He did something to Sam."
Tara nodded. "It's a blood taint," she said quietly. "That's what awakened his powers. Some day that may be a problem if he gets exposed again."
He stared at her. "I still hate witches."
"Not all of us are bad. Some of us do rest in the light each and every day. Some of the bad even found their way back over the years." She reached out but he flinched back. "I'm only healing the cut. Stand still. Your son saw how good I was at this last weekend." He still backed away. "Fine. You can have Xander stitch it. I brought out minor first aid kit."
"I'm good," he promised, staring at them. "This doesn't bother you?" he asked Xander.
"You're not my type," he quipped, giving him a dirty look. "I've hunted and worked with plenty of white witches. Including this one. She's like my sister," he said firmly, staring at him. "She's not the sort to have problems."
He shook his head. "Most make deals for their gifts, boy."
"No, some are born with it and she's a second generation witch." John moaned, slumping his shoulders. That explained a lot to John's thinking. "Beyond that, some bloodlines exist from the early days. Hers has had it on and off for generations from what little her aunt's found." Tara looked at him. "She's doing the genealogy thing."
"Oh. I didn't know that." She looked at him again. "Not all of us cause problems. If I had wanted to, I have plenty of opportunity, Mr. Winchester. If I was bad, I wouldn't have given your boys new information or given you that stuff." Xander patted her on the back. "Beyond that, sometimes witches do go bad, and then sometimes they come back. Magic addiction is very bad among us. Some of them have healed."
Xander nodded. "Yes she did. Let him go catch his boys, Tara. He's got a higher calling." He pulled her back next to him. "Good hunting. I hope you get him. If you need help with some sort of major battle, the slayer's in LA. Angel Investigations."
John nodded. "I'll keep that in mind. Where are my boys?"
"Last time we knew they were heading back toward LA with the books we leant them, and said they were going to stop in on someone named Bobby for a day or so."
"We gave them the number out there if they needed it since there were traces of demons trying to track your eldest," Tara said quietly. "I liked Dean. He was kind, polite, and appreciated my cornbread, even if it was a bit too dry." She and Xander disappeared. She hugged him. "I'm sorry."
"No, that you tell me about beforehand so I'm not in a shower," he said dryly, making her giggle. "Nap. You probably need it." He walked out, running into his friends. "Hi, guys. Tara was off doing something and needed some immediate help. Let me get the kittens out of my shower." He went up to finish taking one then dry off and get redressed. He carried down the four cats. "Tara, why do we have four?" he called.
She peeked out with a smile. "I'm trying to decide between the last two." She waved and closed her door again.
Xander put the kittens down and looked at the people. "So, what's up? No more fangirls?" he asked with a grin.
"No, no more kidnaping fangirls," Beckett said. "Bigger problems. You got a death threat."
"Ooh, yay," he said with a shrug and a grimace. "Again?"
"Again?" she demanded.
He went to look at something, handing it over. "I told Paula. She threw a hissy for me and I'm used to things wanting me dead. I'm not that worried since it was sent from Brookhaven Institute." He handed over the envelope.
She compared them, nodding. "We needed that. You could have handed it over."
"I looked, that's a mental institution. I doubt whoever is out."
"Point," she admitted, "but a weak one, Harris. Backup plans for things?"
"Do I look like I make Castle's money?" he countered dryly, sitting down and putting his feet up. The kittens all pounced his wiggling toes. One climbed up his foot and leg to stare at him. "What?" He petted her. She purred and scampered off to try to climb Beckett. Who put her onto a chair. "She'll pounce. She's stubborn." She petted her again, making her a happy, content kitten who wouldn't try to claw her up again. He grinned. "Thank you. If I had the money I might have a backup place. Unfortunately I'm only making in the hundreds of thousands a book, not the millions. I can't afford two places and the cabin."
"Weapons?" she asked.
"I think Tara can do that easier." He grinned. "We've talked about how to get stuff out of here. All that I'll have to grab is my laptop and the cats."
She nodded. "Fine." She let the cat go but it headbutted her. She stared. "You're pushy."
"She's a cat. That's the definition," one of the guys noted. Another one got him from one of the planting trays, making him look at his shoulder. "That was sneaky." He rolled his eyes at the cat nuzzling his cheek.
"Awww, he thinks you like boy cats," Xander teased with a grin.
"I'm not really a cat guy," he shot back. "The stored, higher level stuff?" Xander gave him a clueless look. "Don't even. One of your poker buddies said that you took something in return for his kitten poker debt."
"He was nice enough to tell us how heavy it was," Beckett agreed with a smirk. "How did you get one from a military base?"
"I heard. I'm not going to say anything but we want it stored somewhere that it cannot be touched by anyone but you guys during an emergency like the last one or someone with a warrant, kid. This week."
"It is." He shifted. "There's a lot of higher end storage areas in the city, Detectives. They usually handle things like art. I have my computer's backup there too." She smirked at that. "Did someone have a vision that we're going to have a fire?"
"No, but two other sci-fi authors in the city have," the minion said dryly.
"Really? I hadn't heard that yet. I'll have to call Paula. She should've given those to whoever was over that case." They nodded at that. "If I hear anything, I'll tell you guys. You know that."
"Which is why this is a talk instead of an ordering session," the minion pointed out. He carefully moved the kitten away from nibbling on his ear, putting him onto the back of the couch to pet him. It seemed to work. Though he did attack his fingers to play with them. He stared down at the kitten. "You're a bit strange."
"They're kittens, again part of the definition," Beckett said dryly. She looked at him. "Make backup plans, Harris. And for that little blood problem of yours."
"I doubt something like a patch would help," he told her bluntly. "Even if I'm captured, I have things I can go to and they can take me out if necessary as far as I know." She smirked at that. "I'm a surprise to many," he said with a smirk. "I'm told I'm like the butterfly in the chaos theory."
She snickered. "Yes, you probably are." She quit petting and the kitten pounced her hand to gnaw on her fingers and play fight with them. She shook her head, leaving with her minion and no cats.
Xander called someone. "Gregori, it's Xander. Who the fuck is burning authors?" He listened. "That's fine. Oh, tell your little snot assed kid that telling the cops that he gave me artillery is probably not real nice. Next time I'll bankrupt him and his family." He hung up and thought about backup plans. He didn't have the sort of money he'd need to make some. He wasn't going to sell any of his 'research supplies' because this was the real world and he didn't like the ATF that much.
Paula looked at Xander, then sighed. "How did you do this?" she asked quietly. They were at a funeral. He had dragged her as his 'date' because this was one of his ex's. She had put it into her suicide note that he was to attend with his next bad girl. Which she hoped she never turned into. This one had killed seven people accidentally on purpose by blowing out the gas pilot light on her sister's house and then forgetting what that would do according to the statement she gave to the officers. She had only wanted to make them sick while stealing her sister's husband, thinking he was nearly as good as Xander would be for her.
He shrugged. "I don't know," he mumbled. "I have no idea." The others in the small chapel looked at him and he shrugged. "She wanted me to be here."
The sister nodded. "I remember." She went back to silently cursing at her sister. How could she have done this to her! Trying to steal her husband... well she might've given him over really but to kill herself instead of going to jail? Really not done in their family!
The ceremony was done quickly and she was cremated. The lawyers gathered the necessary people right afterward. Apparently they wanted this dealt with quietly and quickly.
Paula walked up to where Castle was on a scene. It had taken a bribe to figure out which homicide in this city of dying people he was on but it was worth it. She cleared her throat, staring at him. "Your mentoree is having a panic attack."
"Why?" he asked, coming over. "Did someone kidnap one of the cats?"
"One of his bad girls committed suicide and left him things."
He gaped. "I can't even write things that weird," he complained finally.
"No, you can't, thankfully. Teach him how to be a normal man. Please? Before I have to go to more funerals? He was frantic that the rest of them never hear about it and take it as a good idea."
"Why did she?" Beckett called.
"She didn't want her attorneys to get her money or house. Or her sister for not being evil enough for him." She looked at Rick again. "Teach him better man skills. He's been surrounded by girls and even Tara wants him taught guy skills as she called them. Clearly someone somewhere got something wrong and it was probably that redheaded little bitch." She walked off.
Rick stared then looked at his buddies again. They were all looking confused. "They said strange things happened around him."
"Clearly," one of the uniformed officers complained. "Who would die and leave their house to their boyfriend when they had family?"
Rick called. "Paula wants me to teach you like a son," he said bluntly when the frantic guy answered. "Which one was she?" He listened then shook his head. "Gas stove lady," he said.
"Figures," Beckett said. "She was shallow and made the detective who arrested her's brain hurt."
Rick listened. "Let me get you the name of a good attorney to handle this, Xander. Have Tara make sure it's not a curse or anything," he said, trying to calm him down. "Exactly. Just calm down. I'll find one of my people later to help you with it." The boy babbled something else. "Xander, stop. That's a what if and even *you* can't write it that strangely. Just calm down. Deep breath. Yeah, exactly. Make sure it's not a curse or anything. Okay? Let me talk to my family attorney to see who he recommends." The boy was nearly back to the panicking stage.
"Who dropped what underneath your door?" He blinked a few times. "Huh. We'll see, Xander. I promise. Okay? Just calm down. Bring it to us in about two hours. We're on a scene. Yup, two hours. Calm down. Maybe it's one of your bad girls who is taking out her old competition. It could be an assassin who wants you're attention. Hell, it could be a federal agent who's turned bad and wants you attention so she's making sure no one will rescue you," he offered. The boy calmed down some. "If Tara's not there, go to her aunt's shop and ask her. Come see us in two hours." He hung up. "Someone dropped a note underneath his door that the one who had been people trafficking in LA had killed herself."
Beckett stared at him. "That is too freaky for anything you write."
"I know, isn't it?" He walked back over. "He'll be at the office in two hours. After he makes sure nothing Willow-ish happened." They all nodded at that. Which was hopefully the only reasonable explanation they could come up with.
Xander landed in the Hyperion thanks to Tara-gram. He looked at Buffy. "You don't feel the urge to kill yourself and leave me things too, right?" he asked.
"No," she said with an evil smirk. "I have no intention of dying this year."
"Good! Because six of my last girlfriends have." She gaped, staring in horror at him. "We're not sure if it's a wish of someone or if it's a serial killer trying to take out the competition or if it's just freakiness otherwise like the Punisher who's using my dating history to get rid of bad girls."
"Can't be the Punisher," Willow said from her seat where she was reading a textbook. "He went after the mafia."
"No, they haven't touched the princess of that land I dated," he quipped. "Yet. I did call to warn her that so many of my former dates are ending up dead by their own hand. She said if someone tried her, she'd kill them all."
"So it's either a wish that's making them do it or it's a wannabe girlfriend," Buffy said, staring at him. "Why are you out here?"
"Talking to a few of the detectives I knew before."
"And seeing if we can find out if it's a wish."
"Hmm. Okay," Buffy decided.
"Did those two get here yet?"
"Heard rumors they're in town," Buffy admitted. "Haven't seen them yet. Go get a drink and then meet them. We can ask if it's a wish." He nodded, going to do that. She shook her head. "It has to be a wish, right?"
"No, the serial killer theory is about equal in probability," Willow said, looking at her. "There was that one who tried that one time."
"Good point. And he did date two of them." She went to get herself some water then back to the plans for the night's hunting. Finally a tall, cute young guy with muscles walked in when she needed a diversion. "Hi, Sam." He gaped. She smirked. "Tara described you to us." He handed over the books. "Thank you."
Willow looked over. "Your dad got information from the world I sent Xander to on the demon. He was *very* nasty to my ex-girlfriend and I will roast him if he tries to hurt her."
Sam nodded. "Dad only knows about witches who make deals, Miss Rosenburg."
"Good." She smiled. "Then I don't have to go all mean kitty again and hiss." She went back to her reading. "Buffy, why don't you guys go back to wherever so we don't overwhelm him. Then they can talk to Wes tomorrow?"
"We can do that," she offered with a smile. "I'm only pre-planning my nightly hunting route."
"Sure," he decided, taking her with him. He called Dean, who met them at a park. A small one, not too many people around. It had a lot of small kissing nooks they could make use of to grill her for information. Buffy walked in and flopped down, sighing in pleasure. "It is nice today," he agreed.
Dean walked in and stared. "You're a slayer?" he asked quietly.
"We're all cute and womanly to throw people off." She smirked. "It doesn't mean I can't kick most people's butts."
"Good." He sat down next to his brother. "So, how many classes of demons are there?"
Xander walked into the demon bar that night. "Mitch, you still owe me twenty kittens!" he called into a back room as he walked past it. He went up the stairs and to the office, knocking before walking in. "Was it a wish?" he asked bluntly.
"I do not know, Harris. There's been some wonderings all over the community about that sudden lack of ex's of yours."
"Us too and I'm nearly freaking out."
"Hmm. I've asked but no one knows for sure or won't say and D'Hoffryn is hiding."
Xander grimaced. "Fuck."
"No, I don't want to end up dead too," he said bluntly.
"Damn it, I need to date!" he complained. "I can't do that because they might end up dead too." He looked around. "Hallie!" he bellowed. She glared as she appeared. "Was it a wish?"
She gaped. "What?"
"The sudden influx of my ex's being killed just after they leave me all their stuff," he said bluntly. "Most by suicide. It's getting a bit suspicious and it's left six kids parentless."
She stared at him then at the bar's owner. "Is he high?"
"No, but it's something we're all wondering about. He's had sixteen ex's kill themselves and another two killed while trying to escape custody. All after they left him things."
She stared at Xander again. "How do you do that?" she demanded.
"So you think it's a wish?"
"It's a bit coincidental," he said dryly. "Don't you think?"
"Well, yes." She frowned. "Those children?"
"Two have aunts. Four are in the system. I wasn't left the kids. I was left houses, apartments, money, jewelry. Land. Weapons if they had them."
Hallie was starting to feel that tingle. "Let me talk to a few people. And don't yell like that."
"I could complain that you still owe me six kittens," he said dryly. "Or that I really need and want to get laid soon but I can't because of this." He smirked meanly. "Unless you have a target for it to work on?"
She huffed. "Ten or twenty," she admitted. "Want introduced?"
"Hell, I don't care as long as they're truly evil and they're good in bed."
She smirked. "Gun runner? Drug dealer?"
"People seller? You've had one of those."
"I dumped her and never spoke to her again when I found out."
"Hmm. Well...." She took him with her to one she knew, changing his clothes for him. She even let the former girlfriend in the room introduce them. Whatever drew bad girls to him caught his hunting instincts and nearly purred back. Yeah, they'd help solve his lack of girlfriends and if that was a wish she could monitor what happened to her.
Xander was walked into the squad room the next morning and handed over to the captain. "He said he knows you?"
"Yes he does. What did he do?"
"The ...person who sent out the orders to get his ex girlfriends ordered his one last night nearly taken out as well."
Xander shrugged a bit. "We were testing to see if it was automatic or if there was a list," he admitted. "My former fiancee's best friend, who is in the same line of work almost, pointed me at someone who was very evil and the world could do without if it was automatic."
"Which it apparently is," the agent said. He handed over the report. "That friend also had her boss fix it when they figured out what had happened." He smirked at Harris. "Thank you for helping us do our job, Mr. Harris. We didn't want her in this country anyway." He left them alone.
"What did your ex do? The nun, right?"
"She was vengeance over women scorned. Hallie, her friend, is over lost childhoods."
"Eww," he said with a wince and hiss. "I think I've seen some of her work."
"She set me up with a very nice jewelry smuggler/assassin. It was her idea totally."
"I'm sure it was." He smirked. "You feel better?"
"I can hold off dating, that curse is ended, and hopefully this shit is stopped."
"I hope so too. Get out of my office. Why have them bring you here?"
Xander shrugged. "They asked which detective was getting the ones I was dating. Apparently Riley Finn and his crew told stories he had heard."
"Ah." He nodded. "Go home. Tara's probably frantic."
"I called her." He smirked. "She yelled at Hallie too."
"As we all should, kid. Home." He bounced out. He sent a note to Beckett about that since she had taken over auntish nagging duties for the boy. Maybe Castle could straighten that kid out soon now that the curse or whatever was gone.
Tara opened the door, staring at him. "You did what?" she demanded, not letting him into the apartment.
He stared at her. "Went to talk to Hallie to see if it was a wish and I complained I really wanted laid." He shrugged. "She pointed me at her so she could see if there was a list or if it was a wish. Which it was, from Willow. Accidentally." She huffed. He walked in and checked before closing the door. "D'Hoffryn removed it."
"Good!" She stared at him. "That is not good behavior, Xander. What if she had been innocent?"
"Hallie sent me at her. Do you really think she was an innocent?"
"That's still nearly taking their lives like an assassin," she countered.
He stared at her. "Not if it wasn't a wish. And hey, we stopped her." She glared. He stared back. "I know, you're high on the sanctity of all life, even the bad guys. I mostly am but how did you want me to figure this out?"
She huffed and stamped a foot. "It's still bad, Xander."
He shrugged. "There was no other way to tell. Unless you wanted me to go pick up in the club and risk it hitting someone slightly naughty who kinda speeds now and then?"
She went pale. "No. I didn't."
"Then choose. How did you want to figure that out?" He stared her down. "Not like I'm some whore, Tara."
"I know you're not." She slumped into a chair, staring at him. "It's still bordering on evil."
"She killed ninety people."
"Oh, but still bad."
"Maybe," he agreed. "But if I need it that badly and I can't use my hand because it's been so damn long, I'd rather have it hit the evil things instead of the slightly naughty I might pick up in the clubs."
"It's a point but still not a good one," she said.
"You know what? We're going around in circles. I'm sorry you don't approve," he said bluntly. She huffed off to her room. He sat down to watch tv. She left, her bag meowing. He looked at the one next to him. "Did she forget you?" He winced when he heard the bottom door slam. He called her aunt to warn her she was in a girl snit and why. Her aunt said it wasn't good but it was better than him getting someone less evil by accident. Or even hiring someone and it getting her. He petted the cat, watching the stupid show on tv. He found a construction show and it was nicer. The cat was happy to be petted all by herself too.
Rick walked up to the kid late the next day, staring at him. "Tara's still moping. She's decided that was uber-bad as she put it. Leading you down to Willow's level of evil."
Xander looked up from his reading in the sun to stare at him. "Not really. We all have some flexible ethics from hunting, Rick." He shrugged. "She's getting all white lighter hissy on me. I know why but I'm not going to apologize for it because I'd rather not have that stuff happen when I wanted to go pick up someone at the bar later that night. Which she's also suddenly down on me for. Someone's turning Tara into a prude." He went back to reading. "You can tell her aunt to quit that too because it'll definitely cut down on the ways Tara can hunt."
"I realize that you guys have some...fairly shady contacts," he said, sitting next to him on the bench. "And that she's a girl. She's going to fuss."
Xander looked at him. "No, I think this fussing is coming from her aunt. Who suddenly decided I'm the end of all evil for it." He put down his book. "Since I was going to hit the club that night for stress relief did she want me to pick up someone?"
"No, not with that. Which is something that guys would see easier than women anyway," he realized. Xander nodded. "She's moping so badly her aunt was talking to her about moving out."
"If that's what she wants," he sighed. "I don't know what her problem is. Usually I get girl problems but I'm not going to be treated like I'm some evil gigolo for her to sneer at. Not by her and her aunt. So that's all on her. If so, I've got a wonderful apartment and one of the cats."
"I think she went to repossess that one," he admitted.
"No. She's deciding to like the grass." He pointed at where the cat was lounging in the sun. "I have her on a leash." He grinned. "I don't know how to cure this bout of cranky and I don't know if anything would. I don't know who's giving who the ideas, or if it's her aunt's coven."
"They seem pretty nice."
"They're mostly Southern, the same as Tara is. Her aunt is a bit uptight. She hates the idea of hunting. Has been trying to get Tara out of it for months now."
"Which might do good for both of you," Castle offered.
"Yeah, maybe. I know I have flexible ethics sometimes. It's not like I killed them. It was Willow's wish."
"Is that who did it?" Xander grimaced but nodded. "I would've put bets on Anya."
"That may be.... Hey, Mitch," he said, smirking at the demon over boyfriends scorned. "Big issues?"
He leaned down. "Tara's majorly heaving from the rumors going around."
"Yeah, I'm not sure what the reason is yet beyond her aunt."
"Hmm. Well, it could be a spell," he said dryly, staring at him. He smirked back. "Don't know how you'd prove it though."
"Not that hard really. I'd go to repossess my t-shirt she took." Mitch smirked and handed him some money. "Thanks, man."
"Not that you need it."
"I'm not taking those things."
"The lawyer is working on it," Rick reminded him.
"Yeah, well, there's no reason to leave it to me and cut out their families. Even if they do end up mine, I'd probably sell them." They both nodded. He looked at Mitch. "Gregori's middle daughter told me she had heard Anya was sending out a wish?"
"Yeah, but nothing like this. To bolster hers since apparently it hasn't hit yet."
"Authors don't really get groupies," Rick said dryly.
"Huh. I didn't know that." He walked off. "Pretty day, Xander, and cute cat. I would've figured you for a dog."
Xander shrugged. "I like pets." He tucked the money into his pocket. "He owed me some kittens."
"Ah." He nodded. "So what are you going to do about Tara?"
Xander smirked. "I'm going to blow three poker debts tonight." He stood up and picked up the cat, untying the leash. "That book's not bad. You should read it." He walked off talking to the cat.
That night, a demon appeared in front of the sons and father on the road, stopping the car with a screech of brakes. "If you keep going, there will be a horrific crash caused by the demon's daughter Meg," he said when Dean got out with a gun. "It will lead to your father selling himself to get you out of a coma." Dean gaped. "It has been *seen* by someone who sends me to warn you. It canceled out a poker debt," he said with a small shrug. "Beware of semi's. The driver is not in his right mind. Or left mind. Azazel is not happy with how his plans are going. Your brother's will is too strong to break at this point, Winchester. So said the One Who Sees." He disappeared.
Dean slid back in and stared at the others. "Any idea which seer that is, Sammy?" he asked finally.
"Xander. It's all over his rumored background. He's a latent but something in the fight with Glory, and the coma he was in for a few days, knocked it active." He looked at his father, who was glaring. "We heard you met with them."
"The boy was naked because that witch pulled him out of his shower," he said dryly.
"Tara's very overprotective," Dean agreed. "Though, clearly going on the fussing overload train again."
Sam nodded quickly. "It was nice she packed us a lunch to take with us."
"It was, yeah. She's a pretty decent cook."
"She's a witch," John reminded them. "I taught you two better."
"Dad, she's not that sort of witch," Dean said.
Sam nodded, smirking at him. "She's a bloodline witch. Traces back at least seven generations. One or two a generation." John rolled his eyes and snorted. "So by now any taint that they got, it's gone."
"Maybe. I still don't think witches hunt."
Dean snorted. "Rosenburg does and she's scarily powerful. Thankfully over her addiction to her skills too." Sam nodded at that. "She's the one who kept closing their hellmouth."
John stared. "Hellmouth?" Sam pulled out his computer and the books Willow had on disc, putting one in. John read it over, frowning. "There's no way."
"Xander was born there," Dean said, pulling the car off to the side of the road. "Willow was there pretty young. The slayer got sent there. Tara went there for college, hooked up with Willow."
Sam beamed and nodded. "I looked up their town's stats from before the FBI shut them down and gave it to the peaceful demon community, Dad. It was horrifying before Buffy got sent there."
John blinked a few times. "Horrifying?" Sam pulled up that research and he gaped in horror. "No wonder a slayer got sent there!"
"Yup," Dean agreed with a grin. "We spent two days talking to her and a younger watcher who got fired for wanting to do things the right way. Plus her mom fed us one night. The team's like a family. Slightly dysfunctional but pretty decent most of the time."
Sam nodded. "Things are slow right now in LA."
John handed the laptop back, considering it. "So this witch is a good witch?"
"Both are. Rosenburg's returned to it after fighting her addiction to her skills. Her husband is helping. Which is a whole other story," Sam told him. "We're talking cheating, wishes to redeem, a vengeance demon who is now a nun....." John shuddered at that, getting out of the car to pace. Sam got out to lean against the car. "Remember Anyanka?"
"Graphically," he said, grimacing at the sky.
"She lost her powers in Sunnydale." John turned to look at him. "Dated Harris while human. They were engaged. And then she cheated. His wish was for her to find charity and faith." John's mouth flopped open. "Tara's ex, Willow, was who she was cheating with. She got cursed to have a wonderful husband who would want a lot of kids to keep her happy, content, and give her someone to teach and fuss over."
"I think she's knocked up right now," Dean admitted. "She had that 'breakfast is evil' glow the second day we stopped in." John stared at him too. "Apparently there's whole levels of shit we had no idea about, Dad. Including whole legions of true white witches, gray witches, chaos people, all that."
"Magic can cure anything," Sam said in a falsetto. "As she put it. Xander sicced the White Order on her."
John shuddered. "They've taken out a few hunters for going wrong," he admitted. "They're not nice by any definition."
"Exactly," Dean agreed with an evil smirk. "Which is why she's now better."
"These other witches?"
"Bloodlined, some who got it awakened when they tried it out. No dark deals, just the Goddess. Whole covens and groups of them. Chaos people, some to Janus and some to others. Gray orders that just want to maintain balance."
John shook his head. "I have not run into any of those."
"Us either," Dean agreed. "Willow introduced us to some out there. She's working with a pretty uptight coven. Tara said her aunt's coven is very uptight too."
John sighed, nodding. "I can see why." He heard a loud engine and looked. "Semi." Dean got into the car and moved it off the road as the semi tried to hit it. It ended up in a ditch but better that than in a hospital. John watched it try to stop but a tire was popped and it flipped over. They went to check. The driver was dead. Dean called the cops and told them about the out of control semi that had gotten them off the road and had flipped. They sent out people to handle that. John looked at them. "Harris really hunts?"
"He's one of the main hunters in New York," Sam said with a grin. "Only of the things causing problems. They don't care about the peaceful ones and Tara told us a lot of stories about kitten poker games for information."
John shuddered again. "That sounds gross."
"They tend to eat them," Dean said. "I asked."
"Still disgusting." Officers showed up, a tow truck for the semi and one for their car with it. It was going to be a long night.
The other two debts were paid off when Tara was brought to where Xander and the kitty were waiting. Then all the magic in the building was dissipated. Including the hellmouth taints they both carried. It would regrow in Harris, it always did, but it was going to help her.
Xander stared at her. "Are you feeling less fuzzy headed?"
"Are you pulling a Willow?' she countered, glaring at him.
"No, we just removed all the magic in and of you for the next twenty-four hours." He stared at her. "Because the rumors going around are saying someone's got emotional spells on you."
"Give me my kitten."
"You left her. She's mine." He shrugged. "You have a few of my shirts too, Tara." She glared. The demon still with them walked over and took off the rest of the spells around her, including Willow's. Which brought her to puke next to them and help when he told her why. Tara slumped, gathering herself. "Thank you," Xander told them. They nodded and Willow stared at him. "She didn't like Hallie's plan and there's rumors of spells."
"Good thinking." She left, going to tell Daniel that.
Xander looked at her. "So, are they brainwashing you or not?"
"I.... I'm not...not like that," she said.
He stared. "You haven't stuttered in over two years," he pointed out simply. She gave him a horrified look. He moved closer, letting her pet the kitten. "I'm worried about you, Tara. They're changing you and it's not always for the good," he said quietly. "I adore you like a sister, even though you're disappointed in me. I knew we had to find out before I broke and went to the club. I was planning on going that night anyway." She shuddered. "I was on my way there when I realized the demons in LA could figure out if it was a wish without the risk to everyone else." She looked at him. "I don't care if you don't approve," he said bluntly. "I'm a big boy, Tara. We're friends, you're not my wife." She nodded, stepping back. "Beyond that, you're still welcome in your room. This turning you into a prude thing your aunt has... that I'd like to see stopped for your own health. She's put down each and every one of your dates recently, even though two were really nice and sweet from what I could tell." He shrugged. "I'm not saying get away from your aunt, I'm saying to think and make your own decisions. You're a big girl, Tara."
"I can't afford to live alone," she sighed.
He nodded. "You're still welcome to your room. Nothing's changed in the apartment."
"You have.... You can move."
"I'm not keeping those, Tara, and I'm being pressured to move somewhere safer. With you since people are going to probably try you sometime. There's been a few punks who moved into the area recently. They haven't done enough for me to be more than cautious about them."
She huffed, taking the cat to pet. "I didn't mean to leave her."
"Yay." He smiled. "She's good at helping me eat my breakfast." He stared at her. "Think for yourself. Not for her." He took the cat back and let her rest on his shoulder. "Beyond that, I noticed he removed something Anya had done. I'm not sure what it was. You'd have to ask him."
"You blew poker debts for this?" she asked.
"Yeah, I did. I don't really need more money at the moment." She walked off shaking her head. "I'll be home later." He walked out, paying her cab for her on the way past. And she said he was forgetful. The same demon had went to take the magic from whoever had put spells on her, beyond Willow - because he knew there were some to check on her, and then to cancel out his poker debt by bragging a bit. He was young and needed status. It would mean people would quit going to Tara to see if she could take the magic out of things. Which meant he could pay sooner the next time he lost to him.
Tara walked into her aunt's shop, staring at the worried looking older women. Then at the shop girl. She had talked to the demon, found out who had put the spells on her. She stared at that one very hard. "I don't know you well enough for you to put spells on me. Xander is a very dear friend and I will not allow you to harm him that way. He was right, I needed to think without the spells." She looked at her aunt then at her aunt's coven. "I'm still going to hunt the bad things. It's my duty. Those of us who are strong should protect those of us who're weaker." They backed away. "He's also right that I've been seeing and ignoring some past bad habits," she told her aunt. "He caught me stuttering for the first time in two years earlier." Her aunt went pale. "I think I'm going to go to my room to think." She went up there to pack. Clearly someone wanted bad things to happen to her again. She cuddled the kittens, noticing one was gone. She summoned her back and it was better.
"Any witch only needs one familiar and that one would be jealous of all other pets," her aunt told her from the doorway.
She looked at her. "No they're not. And they're not familiars. They're pets." She petted them all and gathered things, including them, heading home. Clearly she needed to get her head on straight. She found her ATM card at home, which she had forgotten, and took it to the motel for the night. Or maybe two. She had tomorrow off. She had noticed the other kitten was there but she clearly loved Xander and she wouldn't hurt him that way. She was not her father.
Xander was waiting when the aunts came storming out of the store. "Yes, I had all the spells on her, down to the checking spells Willow put on her, canceled out. Every bit of magic in her, around her, on her, all that. That way she could think for herself." He stared at the aunt. "If you actually gave a damn about your niece, you'd want her to think for herself and make her own choices. Even ones you didn't agree with. That's part of growing up." He stared her down.
"Even if she moves out to her own place, I'm not going to let anyone hurt her. By the way, caught the nice letters to her father," he said, holding one up. "Cute, really." He smirked. "He can't show up at the house. I've already filed a restraining order for her. That way no one has to beat him for her." He put the letter away. "Then again, I don't know why you wanted to brainwash her anyway. Weren't you against him doing that to her mother?" She gasped and backed away.
He looked back. "Hold on, Gregori." He looked at her again. "Clearly she needs time away from people who want to upset her or think of her as helpless. I know she's not helpless. I've seen her kick butt. You guys.... No more. Really." He walked over to where the demon was. "What's up?"
"Tara's at a motel?"
"If that's what she wants tonight."
He nodded. "You two still fighting?"
"That too." He gave him a dirty look. "Thank your little one for me. Maybe he can use that to get a career."
Gregori laughed and patted him on the head. "I'm going to point that out to him. Many would love him for it." He walked off happier. Some of his people were watching over Tara. They didn't want to upset Harris and Rosenburg if she got hurt. They might take out the city. Xander might even resort to magic. That would be an apocalypse that no one would stop.
Xander looked back at the older women. "She's not your familiar. Quit treating her like it." He walked off, going home to watch some tv.
The coven glared at each other then got together to talk. That girl needed help.
Tara walked up to her aunt's friend the next day since she was in the same herb market. "If you're trying for the lethe's brambles, that protection is still on me after Willow tried it," she said simply. The woman gave her a horrified look. She stared her down. "I'm not the mousy little thing that she knew before. I grew up, grew up really strong thanks to Willow and the Scoobies. I won't let anyone put me back there again."
"That boy does," she sneered.
"He never asks me to fuss at him or over him. To cook dinner, nothing. He never asks me to do anything for him. We set up a cooking rotation. We set up who does what chore. He expects me to be an adult. I do fuss because his muses are unreasonable. That is my choice. My choice is also that I'm not going to be made into that girl again. I'm stronger now."
"He filed a restraining order for you?" she sneered.
"Probably to protect me. I'll ask him later when we talk." She walked off to pay for her purchases. She had to get in touch with the Goddess to help her make some decisions. Xander had been right, she needed to think for herself again. It was time to make her own choices and to help herself with what path she was going to go down. Having no magic at the moment made it easier to think. She didn't have to worry. She had seen the few demons watching but they weren't going to harm her. Gregori wouldn't hurt her most of the time. He was still scared of what Willow might do.
Tara let herself into the apartment, letting the cats down and putting her bag down beside the door. She sat down, staring at Xander, who was staring mindlessly at the tv. "Are you a zombie?" she asked.
"No. I'm trying to resist the bad urges to go beat your aunt."
"Why? And restraining order?"
"Same reason," he admitted, tossing her a letter. He looked at her. "Yes I did. In case they showed up without us hearing. That would make it your choice to enforce it or not."
Tara nodded. "That's highly overprotective of you, Xander." She opened it to read.
"You knew I was like this when you met me," he said dryly.
"Good point." She looked at the letter, reading it. She put it aside. "They said they're coming up next month."
Xander nodded. "If you want me to, I'll kick their asses."
"No. I'll let the restraining order stand." She shifted, getting comfortable. "I still don't like Hallie's version of testing it."
"Yay," he pointed out. "It's happened."
"True." She looked around. "I could move to a smaller place. Or even a smaller town," she said.
Xander nodded. "You could. There's places that need librarians. You could even move near some of the other hunters in the midwest." She nodded that was true. "That's your choice, Tara. I'm not going to beg and whine like I'm your kid. You're like my sister but you have a good mind that you've worked hard to settle into who you want it to be."
She nodded. "I have." She sighed, petting the kittens that came to cuddle her. "I still didn't mean to leave her."
"Yay." He gave her a look.
"Fine." She petted them all. "I don't know," she admitted. "Before I met them, things seemed a lot clearer."
"Family is the one thing that can screw you all to hell and back."
"Yes they are," she sighed. "Yours?" He held up the two letters. "Good?"
"No. My father begging me to help him appeal to a lesser sentence. He gets out in six months and said if I leave him there he's going to fuck up my life when he gets out."
"That could keep him in there longer," she said.
He smirked. "He put in code as 'remember that Halloween when you were six, son; we'll go over that when I get out'."
"Not a problem." He put them on the coffee table. "So, are you moving back in?"
She nodded. "Until I decide if I want to maybe go to the midwest. It's cheaper to live there and a lot less complicated than living in this city is."
"Yeah, it can be," he agreed. "But not as many plays or museums."
"A good point. But I could help more people."
He looked at her. "You're not out there volunteering?" he suggested. She grimaced, shaking her head. "The cat'll wake me up, Tara. Go help at a pediatrics center and stuff. You want to, and you should."
"I don't feel like I'm paying my fair share."
"I already bought the apartment; that means no rent to pay. You pay half the other bills. It's proportional to the amount of money you bring in. If I suddenly stop selling, then we'll renegotiate."
"That would be a mean spell."
"Paula got one sent at her."
"I had someone lay protections on her and others so they could see *me*, not the persona and not be touched by spells."
"That's a good idea. Who? Willow?"
"Nope. Paid one of the lightest of the light for it. Helena's in town again."
"Really?" she asked. He handed over a card. "She invited me?"
"Yup. For after work tomorrow."
She relaxed and nodded. Helena was a very light side, very powerful, older witch from upstate past Sunnydale. She had went to her for advice before. "I'll see her then. You don't...."
"Even if you move to the midwest, if you called I'd still come," he assured her quietly. She smiled and kissed him on the cheek before going to bed. He settled in, all the kittens coming to play with him. He was their favorite playtoy.
Tara smiled at the elder witch. "Thank you for letting me come visit, Helena."
"It's not a problem, Tara. I've heard about some struggles."
"No, Willow." Tara rolled her eyes and shook her head but sat down. "She was worried about you, dear. That you were stuttering again. That your aunts were turning you into prudes according to Xander, a bunch of other things. So tell me. Let me give you some advice if I can." Tara sipped her tea, pouring her friend a cup as well as she told her everything that had went on. Including her parents.
Helena walked up to Xander that night, where she had ordered him to show up. She stared at him. "You don't look like her brothers."
"I always say near-sister," he quipped dryly. He stared at her. "That's why I had Willow tell you."
"Good planning, boy. She needed it."
"That's why I had all the magic taken for a day. So anything like a spell would be ended and she could make her own decisions."
"Which could mean you'd be alone."
"If that's her decision, I'll have to accept it," he pointed out.
She stared at him. "You're not that tough emotionally."
Xander glared at her. "You don't know me that well, Helena."
"I do actually. Those spells, I added myself. You're the damndest soul sometimes."
"Yeah, the angels trying to cause a final apocalypse probably have," he said dryly.
"Them," she snorted. "They can't succeed unless Dean sells his soul." Xander smiled and texted that to Sam's phone. "Figured you stepped in farther."
"Tara found them out hunting."
"Ah." She nodded, walking off with him beside her. "She's still a mite confused," she admitted quietly. "She's making some good plans. She's right, you're carrying her financially."
"She pays half the bills. Does half the cooking, all that. Her job won't let her afford to live alone."
"I know. I pointed that out. She said if you two have to move, she wants to pay for half of the new place."
Xander nodded. "I might see that."
"Good." She smiled. "They're right to worry. That one getting authors will get you."
"I'll move more stuff into the secured storage area then," he decided. "Tonight?"
"No idea. I'm not that sort of seer."
"I hate like hell I am sometimes." She stared at him. "I got knocked out after Glory."
"I heard. I sent a prayer for healing to the Goddess for you."
"Apparently something they gave me or something that got bumped wrong during it started off visions. One of my first ones was the situation with that possible final apocalypse."
"Figures you wouldn't see cute and fluffy things," she said. "You've never known them." She patted him on the arm. "She's doing good fledging. It's difficult but she's long overdue for some of this. Most of us did it as teenagers."
He shrugged. "Not like I had to fight for my independence."
"True. You had to fight to be recognized." She smiled. "It'll be fine. I pointed this out to her. Have you found a new place?"
"Yup. Had to take out a small mortgage too," he said dryly.
"No. Real estate out here in fucking expensive." She cackled and nodded. "I'll have something drawn up so I pay for the redecorating. She'll pay off that mortgage, we'll split the bills and fees. It's got monthly building fees."
"Is it nice?"
"Way too nice for my tastes but Paula liked it," he said dryly. "I said something smaller. She hushed me up. She was acting like Anya and I pointed that out so we moved to somewhere less high class, since I'm not, and more practical. Plus bigger. With less planting space," he quipped. She cackled at that. "Have you seen our place? I gave her everything she could want then."
"I heard." She patted him on the cheek with a smile. "She even sent me pictures and film." He grinned. "Make sure she can pay her half."
"I will." He walked her back to her hired car and let her head off. He took a cab home and walked in. Tara was pouting at things. "If they're right and we're going to be burned out, you have to decide how you want your room and bathroom painted."
She stared at him. "We are?"
"I've seen it, she's seen it...."
"Oh." She grimaced. "Do we have a place?"
"I had to cut down Paula's bright ideas on living higher up."
"The ground is good," she pointed out.
"Second floor." She smiled and nodded. He got the forms. "This is what I had to take out. This is the rest of the cost I've already paid. This part of that was for the fixing crew, because it needed an overhaul in some areas." He handed over the mortgage forms. "I'll pay for the fixing and decorating. You pick out what you want. You pay that off. We'll split the bills." She beamed and nodded. "We will not have that much growing area."
"I can agree with that. You spoiled me," she told him.
He smirked. "It was that place or a duplex, side-by-side one, like the condo in LA but that would've been more expensive for the taxes. Plus the neighbors were the sort of Baptists that're nearly nazi in their desire to have things done their way and only their way."
"I can do that." She read over the information on the loan form. She nodded, she could afford that. "I get to pick my own bathroom?" He nodded. "Can I have my tub?"
"If we move it before the fire. Speaking of, since it might be soon, we have to move more stuff to secured storage."
"I'll do that later tomorrow." He nodded at that. She went to pack things via magic. It made it easier to conceal. He got them down to his car and over there. She'd bring more of their clothes over. That only left the cats and the current stuff they could lose. He came back. "Laptop?"
"Alexis has it securely stored since there's no hint of it going near her dad." He sat down and put his feet up, getting a lapful of four cats. He stared then at her. "So I guess you have three and I have one?"
"Apparently." She went back to working on her budget. "Will the homeowner association complain about pets?"
"Nope. I told them you worked with a cat breeder on the side. One for the earth mother sort, not purebred."
She beamed. "So they don't mind?"
"The HOA is only three old ladies, who all have a lot of cats too, and one guy who's really grumpy."
"Is he our neighbor?"
She nodded. "Within sight of grass?"
"Look over the balcony at our communal area?" he suggested. She beamed and nodded, getting back to it. "They did say we were younger than the usual tenants. I told them I was a writer, you were a librarian, and no, you were my friend not my lover. They did warn us not to keep them up with all that wild going ons as they put it."
"Neither of us throw parties." She finished up and it came up very good. Including some savings. So she could easily do that. She settled in to watch tv with him. Fire alarms started going off and the cats tried to hide but she gathered them into her big purse she had left. He got the clothes. She got most of hers, and he grabbed a few bags of things to eat. They ran out and put them in the car then she went back for other stuff. The fire department got there as she was coming out with the rest. They led her off but she put it into the car and they made her move it. Which she did. Xander was inside. She hissed and worried until he got brought out with the fireman and the one he was helping. She waved him over so he cam to lean against the car. "That was heroic."
He smirked. "Brave yet stupid," he said then coughed. "That's me." They looked. It was only in the bottom apartment, with that one suicidal, insane person who had stabbed her boyfriend. She hadn't wanted to go to jail. But the fire department knew so they could handle it. Someone drove past and threw a molotov at the fire truck and Xander got it on his camera phone. He waved one of the cops trying to chase them over, handing him the phone. "Licence plate is a bit grungy."
"Thank you, sir." He called that in and they could find them sometime very soon. He handed it back and went to talk to the crew chief. Who was livid. He came back to take statements and they told them how she had done it before. They kept it in the one apartment so it was good the crew Xander had hired had put down fire retardant barriers around his place. Then suddenly their place went up and they sighed, shaking their heads. Tara told him about the threat to a few sci-fi authors from someone who hated fantasy literature. That officer called that detective and he came to talk to them too. This time they got them. She had been trapped trying to deliver her lethal little package. She was dying of smoke inhalation when they found her. Thankfully EMT's were on site with oxygen so she could go to jail too. Xander got his phone back and they were all happier.
Tara looked around their new place and sighed. "It's much bigger."
"Yes it is," he said dryly. "All the major fixing work is done. All that's left is some updating. I checked, we can live here during it." She smiled and nodded. He pointed. "Your office, your bedroom, and your bathroom, m'lady."
She went to snoop. It was connected to her bedroom but it was very nice. Her office had almost no windows. She came out. "Can I put a window in?"
"Only if you want to move the trash tube."
"Oh." She went to look in his. It was nice. Bigger. The kittens were on his bed. She looked. "Traitors. I have a bed too."
"They'll be on your bed later," Xander reminded her. "They're cats, they sleep all the time." She nodded she knew that and they went to look at everything else. She got to talk to the construction guy. He checked and they could get her old tub to put in. Xander's too if he wanted but he shook his head and asked for one with jets and things for when he was sore. They got things worked out and moved all the stuff from secure storage with the help of a moving truck. Then they settled in to live through the next three months of renovations and painting. They could do that.
Xander looked up from waiting on Paula when she came out with someone. "Detective," he said, spotting the badge. He wouldn't give himself away this time.
"Mr. Harris. I had someone tell me I looked just like someone in a book that was foul and disgusting for promoting fantasy," he said bluntly.
He grinned. "I stated in the front of the book that I did sometimes base the physical descriptions on people I had seen but it was not meant to be them. I changed as much as I could to try to blur that as well." He stood up. "I'm sorry if it upset you."
He stared at him. "You're pretty good, kid." He stared at him. "But that's not the whole truth." He smirked.
"You talked to who?" he asked. He looked at Paula.
"A halfie works in his precinct."
"Ah!" He nodded. "Yeah, she sent me there," he said quietly, looking around. "I tried really hard to warp it so it didn't look totally like you. I'm sorry if you're upset."
"Am I insane there?"
"No. Not yet, Detective Flack. Though that whole relationship thing that you accidentally got put into is a bit frustrating now and then. I saw you three having a fight."
"Huh?" he demanded.
Xander sighed and they went to the office so he could tell him about that in private. Don groaned and shook his head at the mistranslation. "So, no, they couldn't undo that. But he's doing a lot of good work. He's mostly happy with it. They tend to send you two out on diplomatic things."
"Uh-huh." He stood up. "I read the first one over and managed to spot three other people I know outside of those you mentioned."
"I tried. I apparently sucked at it but I did try."
"It's not totally obvious but if you're looking for it and know them it's fairly clear." Xander winced. "I won't sue ya or anything but some are gonna be pissed."
"Yeah, well, a unit in Homeland that hunts demons isn't real pleased either. The people over Dr. Jerry isn't either but they only wanted to see an advanced copy in case I was letting out anything classified." Paula moaned. "They haven't said I have yet. Jack gets it."
"I suppose that's fine." She looked at him. "Will this cause him future legal problems?"
"Probably just some scowling. I know many writers do it. I've been in another one because I'm so pretty," he said dryly, staring at the kid, who shrugged a bit.
"I can put you into Tral if you want, Detective," he offered with a grin.
He snorted. "Please don't. I'd make a sucky elf." He stared at him. "She started out reading that one and went to this new series to check it out. Then she heard rumors about this being a real alternate reality."
"Nah. Just try to make later ones a bit more subtle? Not that I can't glare people into giving up..." He walked out happier.
Xander looked at Paula. "I did try."
"I know you did. We were making sure no one was going to sue us." She pointed and he sat down. "Sales are doing good."
"The higher ups hate you."
"Did they get hit with the spell that I had blocked from you?"
"Yes. I had it removed as well. They still hate that people hate you that way but they like how much money you make us."
He sighed. "So I'm going to be dropped?"
She snorted. "Hell no. I'll go start my own publishing house and do you myself." He beamed at that. "The new place?"
"Nearly painted. Bathrooms are working again. They did one at a time."
"That's always reasonable when you're living in there."
"The cats hated being cooped up all day. One managed to wiggle his way out under the door and went to help put up cabinets." She groaned, shaking her head. "The construction foreman told me they were highly amused because whenever they brought in a new cabinet to hang, the kitten was on the last one and purred at them for giving him new higher spots to lounge one. No matter how many times they put him into the bedroom. I solved it by stuffing a towel under the door." She smirked at that. "Tara nagged them for hours."
"I figured she did. So it's nearly done?"
"About three-quarters. I'm still not throwing parties and they warned us not to."
"I know they did. I'm not going to fuss over it. Maybe dinner now and then."
"We're having pizza tonight. You can come snoop."
"I may so you can go shopping again," she said smugly.
"Sorry, this took all my money for the next few months," he quipped back. "Though I did have to shoo someone away from my research cabinets twice."
"FBI. The one in LA called to tell them to leave me alone and why. They decided to get drunk and go to church." He shrugged. "Not like I had anything unregistered or illegal in there. They still nagged even after I pointed that out and let them see it."
"Fine." She looked around, finding him something. "Convention."
He looked and nodded. "Of course I can." He smiled. "Any other orders?"
"It's a con. They won't expect more than jeans and a good shirt." He stood up. "But I'll gladly go geek out when I'm not on duty as an author." He smiled and left.
She sighed, shaking her head. "Pain in my ass," she complained quietly.
Don Flack made it back to work and found someone waiting on him. "Hey, Stella."
"Don." She moved closer. "What happened?"
He walked her over to the lab with the book, gathering the other two by page on the way. They met in the office and he put the book down.
Danny Messer looked at it then at him. "We read that stuff, Don?"
"Yeah, it's not bad actually. Kid's got a good hand." He looked at her.
She sighed. "I heard rumors that the kid was casting from reality but he did try to fix things so it's not whoever."
"I got asked that earlier by a suspect. This is so you guys don't get surprised that way too," Don said dryly. "He did put a nice disclaimer but he did use our jobs somewhat. Kinda."
Mac took it to flip through the first chapter, skimming. He paused and looked at him. "An agency?" Don nodded with a smirk. He kept going. "I know some of these people."
"I'm told Horatio shows up as a black haired, leaning toward sexy Italian stud in high end suits in book three," Stella told him.
He smirked. "He'd hate that." He kept going, smirking at what was going on. "Any other huge shocks?"
"A translation error," he said with a cough. "Apparently he decided my fabulous straight ass is with Messer. So someone leaked those nasty rumors around to normals." Mac moaned, shaking his head. "Thanks to the translation error, which Danny did, they think you two were together so you're the second husband. He said that's in about ten books but mostly written."
Mac stared at him. "He can't take that out?"
"He said it comes into play later when cases start getting worse than usual."
"Oh." He grimaced. "Well, I can say that I'm not portrayed incredibly reliably and it's clearly not totally me. How did we meet him?"
"No clue," Don said, lying a bit. "But ..." He smirked at Stella. "You get to mentor a lot of young girls."
"I'd do that." She took the book to look over. It was hers and it was a good read too. "I don't mind so much but I thought we needed to know in case some crazed fan comes up to ask us."
Mac nodded. "Yeah, I think that's something to keep in mind. How many more books are there in the series since that's book one and you were talking about book ten?"
"No clue," Don said. "It's an active series and his publisher loves it. It sells great. It gets crossover people from the spy and agency genres she said. She bluntly told me he sells in that and a few other series so well she can start her own house with just him and one other."
"Interesting." He shrugged. "I'll keep it in mind but I know it's happened before."
"He offered to put me into a real fantasy series he's writing with a half-elf who has a perverted sense of humor," Don told them. "I decided I'd make a sucky elf."
Danny snickered. "I can't imagine you with the ears and the bow. Or the _Lord of the Rings_ tights." He walked off happier.
Mac shook his head. "Thank you for lightening up today, Don."
"Welcome. I promised I wouldn't sue the kid. He's a good kid."
"Fine." He left.
Stella looked at him. "He's a hunter too," she said quietly.
"I figured that since the quick background I did before going over there showed a 'do not touch' by the feds and a few other nice things." He left, going back to his desk with the book. It wasn't too bad to read. Not that he really liked fantasy that way.
Stella went back to work. It would be fine. She was sure Harris would slow down sometime soon. After all, how many books could he put out a year?