An Interesting Twist to Things.
Xander looked up as the door was knocked on. It was an odd time of day for the mailman. Tara was napping. It was just him and the cat. He saved and got up to answer it, staring at the people standing there. This could not be good. "What do you two want?" he asked.
"Is that any way to talk to your parents?" his father demanded, pushing his way inside. His mother followed.
"Yes, it is when you guys haven't seen me in over 2 years," he said bluntly, slamming the door. Tara would wake up at that noise. That way he had backup beyond Miss Kitty. "So, why the visit?"
"We need to talk to you about your uncle," his mother said firmly.
"Let me guess, he got arrested again?" he said dryly, leaning against the wall to stay out of grabbing range.
"It's not right!" his mother said, starting to get huffy. "It's not like they were that mean before."
"That was Sunnydale. They were so corrupt the government shut them down," Xander reminded them. "In the real world things like DUI get noticed. You get arrested for that shit in the real world."
"The judge was extremely hard on him," his father said. "Something about how in the past he hadn't been rightly punished. They can't do that. We need you to stick up for him and pay his lawyer's bills."
Xander snorted. "No. I don't think so."
"You're family," his father said coldly.
"You two never treated me like I was your son. You both would've been better off if you had sold me off into an adoption. You made that very clear more than a few times. Beyond that, I'm not his child, therefore I'm not responsible for any of his bills, his mistakes, or anything else he does. If his lawyer needs paid, they'll get it from him somehow. They always get their money somehow. They might end up selling his house if he has one but they'll get paid." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Besides, even if I gave you money, you'd spend it long before his lawyer got hold of you. I'm not paying you two to drink yourselves to death finally. I earned everything I have. You can too."
"Family doesn't do this to each other," his father said, starting to sneer.
"Not like you ever wanted me as your family. The last time you talked to me it was 'go get me a beer, you ungrateful little shit'. Since then, I've found my own way."
"You were selling things while you were a minor," his mother said, glaring at him. "That means we're entitled to part of it."
"By California law, you would've had to put at least half of it into a trust account for my later solvency. They did that after all those kid actors got ripped off by their parents. Beyond that, only one story ever needed an adult signature and I got that by going to a judge. They can bypass that. That means I don't owe you two anything."
"We'll tell the press that you're mean and evil to your family," his mother shouted. "That you won't support us in our old age."
"And I can easily counter it. Because reporters *investigate*," he said bluntly. "That means they'd find evidence of a sealed CPS file." He smirked. "Among other things, like my school records. Including the notes from them about how I was late to school because you guys couldn't wake up due to the hangovers. All the times that they saw I had forged your name on report cards because you two were both too drunk to sign them. How you never attended a single called meeting by any principal. And a few of them made notes as to why. That's beyond the fact that they'll talk to others, like the lawyer who just handled Rory's latest DUI. They'll see he has nineteen back in Sunnydale and for some reason never spent more than a week in jail."
"That's how it's supposed to be!" his father shouted.
"He's not some star who can wiggle his way out of it. He's a normal man, and normal men get arrested for that stuff. Even stars get arrested for DUI, they just serve less time in jail."
Tara froze them and came out of her bedroom, petting her cat when she stood up and stretched next to her. "Maybe we should pay them to go away?"
"They'll come back," he told her with a small shrug. He picked up his phone, calling his agent. "Paula, it's me." He put her on speaker. "My parents showed up. Tara has them frozen at the moment. They're trying to get money from me."
"Are you going to pay them off to make them go away?" she asked. "Other authors have in the past, Xander."
"No. They're drunks and they'll come back. Even if I had billions of dollars I wouldn't pay them off."
"Can they hear us?" she asked.
"Don't know and really don't care. They threatened to go to the press to say I was mean to my family."
"We can counter that?"
"In Chuck's files was a thick folder on them in case they tried this."
"I think he gave me something. Let me check." Her voice got faint and they heard a metallic sound of a filing cabinet opening. "Yes, he did give me a thick folder titled 'in case Harris's parents show up'." She came nearer to the phone again. The sound of ripping and she moaned. "This is more than enough to get a restraining order."
"Which would make it public," Xander pointed out. "I just want them to go away and never come back without having to pay their asses."
"It'll probably cause some stink," she admitted. "Some do pay them off."
"I'm not going to pay them to go celebrate and end up dead. They'd probably expect me to pay for their funerals and things."
"That's a good point. You sure?"
"Yeah. Even if they take it to the press. Then you can do a restraining order."
"Gladly. Tara, go ahead and unfreeze them. Are we going to have to deal with yours?"
"I'm only a librarian," she pointed out. "Why would mine show up?" She unfroze them, sitting on the back of the couch.
"Who're you? His girlfriend?" his mother demanded.
"No, his roommate. I like girls, not Xander." She stared at her. "You're being mean and upsetting him." The older woman sneered and made to hit her but Xander shoved her into a wall. "Xander," Tara chided.
"I'll be damned if they're going to hit you, Tara. Not like you can defend yourself." His father hit him in the jaw. He groaned, holding it. "That's your only free shot. Try it again, old man."
"Xander," Paula warned.
"He hit me first." His father tried to hit him again but Xander hit him back. Twice. A third time, and his father was on the ground. Xander stared down at him. "The things you learn when your parents don't give enough of a damn to wonder where you are," he said dryly. His father had only connected one other hit to his arm. "I'd leave. Before I call the cops to remove you. Since you hit me first, you can't charge me with assault either. By the way, before you try, the NYPD is like the LA cops. They pay attention to things and arrest you for real. Not just throw you in the city jail for a few days."
"Boy," his father sneered, getting up. "That was the wrong thing to do. I'll see you ruined."
"I'll have a restraining order done by the time the cops get there, Xander," Paula said. "They're on their way."
"Thank you." He looked at Tara, who was a bit pale. "Take the kitty into your room." She nodded, doing that. His mother tried to stop her but she blew her out of the way with a simple floating spell. Someone pounded on the door. Xander looked. "It's open!" An officer opened it, hand on his gun. "Officer, these are my misbegotten parents from booze hell. They just tried to beat me for not giving in to their extortion demand."
"We were called about a fight."
"That was me," Paula said from the phone. "Xander's father hit him and Xander had to defend himself, Officer."
"He hit me," his mother shouted. "My husband was protecting me."
"No, I shoved you into a wall to get you away from Tara before you hit *her*," Xander said. "And I'll gladly do time for it." The officer stared at him. He took off his shirt. The officer winced. "They're long term drunks. They came to get money since I'm just now starting to make real money from my writing."
"I've seen other cases, sir. Do you need medical attention?"
"No. I've been socked in the jaw and the arm before. He might because I may have broken something. Be damned if I'm going to be hit again."
The officer nodded, calling for another officer to help him. "Let us sort this out. If the parents can please sit?"
"Sure, I can fumigate the couch later," Xander said dryly. "My roommate's in her room with our cat."
"That's fine, sir. Your girlfriend?"
"No, I live upstairs."
"In the building?" Xander pointed at the loft. "Oh, I see. Roommate then. Is she all right?"
"I prevented my mother from hitting her. She was a bit shaken so I had her move the cat." He sat down at the table. Another officer stomped in. He waved. "Morning."
"It's afternoon, sir."
"It is?" He looked at the clock. "No wonder I was hungry." He shrugged. "Okay."
The first officer looked at him. "Sir, are you on any medications?"
"No, Officer, I'm a writer. I was involved in a new story."
"Oh! I guess that's reasonable then." He and the other officer shared a look. "What happened in order?"
Tara came out, shutting her bedroom door. "I was woken up by Xander slamming the front door. His parents wanted money," she said quietly. "I came out to support him while he called his agent for helpful ideas beyond a restraining order because they were trying to blackmail him." His mother sneered. "Threatening to ruin his reputation if you don't get paid is blackmail."
"It is," the second officer agreed. "The roommate?" She nodded. "Okay. You witnessed the altercation?"
"His mother tried to hit me. Xander protected me by pushing her into a wall so I could get out of the way."
"She's like my sister. I messed up the last mugger that tried to get her too," Xander admitted.
"Was that on a train, sir?" the second officer asked.
Xander nodded. "Probably. No, that was the one before. The last one was outside. He decided to run when I pulled out a huge hunting knife in a bad impersonation." He smiled sweetly. "The one on the train I only hit twice and he decided he was going to give up trying to grope and pickpocket."
"I think I heard about his arrest." He looked at the parents. "Why is he bruised?"
"He hit me," Xander said. "I told him it was his only free shot. He tried again and I laid him out. He connected once to my three hits. The bruise coming up on my jaw was the first and the one on my arm the later one."
"Officers, I'm his literary agent and Xander did provide me materials in case they showed up to do this. I have multiple copies of two CPS reports."
"Should be three," Xander admitted.
"You're right. I have three copies each of three CPS reports. I also have notes here from his school record that state his parents were abusive when they showed up and didn't often show up when called to deal with Xander's tardiness or other issues."
"Ma'am, did you hear this altercation?" the second officer asked.
"Yes, I did. Xander had called me for ideas beyond paying them off. He didn't want to pay them off to make them go drink themselves to death. We were talking about a restraining order when his mother tried to hit Tara."
"All right. Can we have a copy of that information, ma'am?" the first officer asked.
"Yes, gladly. There's multiples of each," she assured him. "Just in case it became necessary I suppose."
"Yup," Xander agreed. "Can you please at the very least remove them from my house? Arrest them if possible but make them go before I lose my temper in a way that would make Tara shop for mourning clothes?"
"Are you going to press charges?" the first officer asked.
"Yes, I am. I told them to go, I told them I wasn't paying them, I told them how stupid threatening to go to the press to say I was mean to my family was. I'll be damned. I'm not putting up with threats."
"Okay," the second officer said. "You do know she can charge you?"
"And I'll gladly go to jail," Xander assured him. "That's not a problem." Paula moaned. "If she gets me for that, so be it, Paula. At least I have a good defense. I'm not going to let her hit Tara or anyone else while threatening me."
"Well?" the second officer asked the mother.
"She does and I'm pressing charges," Tara said bluntly, staring at her. "Because she did try to hit me. I left someone who did that," she finished quietly. "It won't ever happen again."
The officer looked at her. "Do you need something like medical attention, ma'am?"
"No. Someone threatened to beat my parents for me," she assured him, smiling slightly. "I haven't seen them since they tried to convince me I was demonic so I'd come back to be their slave. Xander's helped me heal a lot."
"Good for him, ma'am, and I'm happy you've gotten out of that cycle," the first officer said. "Well?" he asked the mother. "This is your decision."
"He definitely won't be paying her if she does," Paula said dryly. "I will make sure of it. There will be no payments to them in any form."
"It's always better to not pay these sort of demands. Then people come back," the second officer said.
"Exactly. Which is why I'm not paying them," Xander said. He stood up. "You cane take me in and straighten it out down there if you want. NP, guys. Really. Let me get my shirt and shoes?"
"Sit down." The second officer looked at him. "That's a lot of scaring."
"Not all theirs but most of it. I also worked on the local protection patrol we had out in our former town. I got into a few brawls that way." He smiled slightly. "Not that they ever gave a damn as long as they had their liquor and beer." His father stood up and lunged at him but Xander put him onto the floor, foot on his throat, staring down at him. "Try it again," he offered, sneering slightly. His father looked away and Xander pressed then got off him. "Get him out of my house, please. Before you have to call an ME." He walked into the kitchen, tossing Tara bottle of juice. "Want a water or juice, guys?"
"No thank you, sir. Please sit at the table again." The second officer hauled his father up, cuffing him, ignoring his swearing and struggling.
"This isn't right!" his mother shouted, getting up. "He should be taking care of us! We're family! You're being evil to us on his say-so!"
"No, in the real world, people get arrested for things," Xander reminded her. "Same as Uncle Rory got arrested for his twentieth DUI finally." He sipped, seeing the horrified looks. "The town I grew up in was so bad the FBI shut it down for being dirty. Apparently the judge that he got last time decided the former ones were too light because the most he got was a suspended license and a week in the city jail. My family hasn't learned this isn't Sunnydale and the real world doesn't do things like they did because they're not dirty cops."
"Clearly the ones out there had problems." The first one looked at the mother. "What would've happened if he had killed someone?"
"It was their own fault for being there," she sneered.
"No, it's his fault for being too drunk to have sense," Xander corrected. "He chose to drink, the same as you do. He could've gotten clean after any of his DUI's. The state would've even paid for it. He chose not to. The same as you and the paternal donor did." He sipped his water. "This is your own fault, not anyone else's. Take some responsibility for your own actions, Mother. Like having a child, there's consequences. That's why you should've had me adopted out." He finished his water and tossed it away.
"He's right. No one made him drink and drive. No one made you two show up here to try to extort money or try to assault them, ma'am." She shrieked and went after him with her nails and fist. The other guy pulled her off him and Xander threw her against the wall again. He wiped a hand over the scratches.
"I have a first aid kit," Xander offered quietly, going to get it for him. He brought it downstairs, handing him some alcohol pads. He saw the look inside and smirked. "Protection patrol med kit. I was our field medic because our hospital killed people. A lot."
"Can you own some of that legally, sir?"
"Yes. It was all gotten with a legal prescription." He closed it up with a smile. "I do try to stay on the legal side when I can. Want to check my hunting knives?"
"Um, no, that's okay. Thank you for that and the bandaids, sir," the second officer said. "We'll get a statement once they're in the car." He and his fellow officer walked the people down to their cars, one of them staying to treat his injuries while the other went to take a formal statement to charge them. His lieutenant was not going to believe this one.
Xander looked up from his reading when someone cleared their throat. He stood up with a smile. "Sorry," he apologized, putting his book down.
"That's all right, I was running a bit late." She sat down so everyone else could. "We are here to talk about a restraining order that was temporarily granted?" she asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Xander's lawyer from Paula said. "The parents in question have made bail." She handed the report to the bailiff. "The judge told them not to go on a news show like they had threatened to do in their statement. We want to keep them from doing anything else damaging."
"I saw the original complaint." She read over the orders from the bail giving judge. She sighed. "Do we think they're going to try again?"
"Yes," Xander said, handing the lawyer something. She opened it and handed it to the bailiff. "I got that earlier today."
"It's not bluntly put as a threat, Mr. Harris, but I can see how they are doing so. Your girlfriend?"
"Roommate, Your Honor. We're not together."
"That's fine." She reread it and marked it into evidence. "Do we suspect a level of higher threat or lower threat? Do we think they'll skip bail?"
"I don't know about skipping bail but I would guess yes. They do live in LA and they're really bad drunks. They might be in the bar when it's time to go to trial. They might forget all together," Xander told her.
"While my clients drink, they do not intend to come near their son again," the other lawyer complained.
Xander looked at him. "Really?" He handed over something else. "Yesterday's letter to Tara from my mother. She didn't know Tara existed before yesterday. I met Tara when she was a freshman in college. At the time I was living in my parents' basement and had no contact with them beyond them demanding money, favors, and to get them more liquor and beer."
"Favors?" he asked grimly.
"Go get the tv out of hock and things needing fixed that they broke and couldn't understand that plugging in would fix. At the top of their lungs or else they'd beat me to death and raise the rent too."
"Oh." The letter was handed back to the judge.
"I think there's a reasonable precaution to keep the two parties apart," the judge decided. "If only because the arresting officers stated that Mr. Harris said he was going to hurt his father more if he tried it again?"
"He's had his last free hit," Xander agreed. "I'm not a punching bag."
"I agree with that sentiment," she assured him. "Where do you work?"
"Home. I'm an author. Tara works at a branch of the New York library system near our apartment."
"I see that listed on the request. Very well. I'm going to grant this until after the trial." She wrote it out and handed it to the bailiff for Xander. She banged her gavel. "It would be a good idea in their criminal case if they found rehab," she told the other lawyer.
"I've suggested it, they say it's not necessary."
"They still think that our former town's ways are real life too," Xander warned him. "Like with my uncle's DUI."
The lawyer nodded. "I heard about that. Is there evidence of what the former town was like?"
"An FBI report from where they shut it down."
"Thank you, Mr. Harris. Your Honor." He left.
Xander shook the lawyer's hand. "Thank you," he said quietly.
"Keep that on you, give Tara a copy to keep on her." He nodded at that and left. She called Paula on the way out to let her know how it had went. She worked for the publisher but this wasn't that uncommon. She had done this before for former spouses, family, and even a few children that wanted to suck other authors dry.
Xander walked in and paused. Something was very wrong. He called the police when he spotted the blood. "I just walked into my house, there's blood on a wall, my cat's missing, and so is my roommate." He gave them an address. She said to stay on the line. He agreed and cautiously looked in the various rooms. He found Miss Kitty in his closet, cooing at her until she came out. Someone pounded and walked in so he came down. "My place, guys. Found the cat. Not my roommate Tara. We just got a restraining order from my parents today," he told the officers. He nodded at the blood. "That's not a good sign."
"You're very calm, sir."
"I've seen some bad things in my life," he said bluntly. "And I'm going to kill them if it's my parents." They nodded and called a crime scene unit. They made him sit at the table once they had checked it for evidence. Xander heard the hiss and looked down. "What?" He petted that area carefully again and winced. "I'm sorry, Miss Kitty. I didn't mean to hurt you. Guys, they kicked or hit her or something. She's got a sore spot on her side."
The crime scene officer came over to look at her. "That's a red hair," she said.
"Her ex is a redhead but she's on the west coast. She wouldn't hurt Tara either. Can I have the silver cellphone on the charger? I need her aunt's number." They checked it for recent calls, letting him get the number to call her from it but then they bagged it. "Aunt Marge, it's Xander. Tara's missing. I need someone to come get Miss Kitty to the vet because they kicked her or something. CSU is here. There's a small smear of blood but I'm pretty sure she's alive. I don't know but I'm controlling my temper," he assured her.
"Please. You know she'll worry more about her cat. Thank you." He hung up and put his phone back in his pocket after turning off the vibrate. He checked his missed calls just in case. "Buffy called." He called her back. "Tara's missing, is Willow out there?" He listened. "Thank you. No, just making sure. They found a red hair on Miss Kitty. Thanks." He hung up. "If she shows up out there, our friends will tell me," he told the watching officer.
"You're still very calm."
"I'm at the level of volcanic temper," he admitted. "If I find them, I'm going to fuck someone up to the point where they're going to beg Satan for mercy." He heard a woman shrieking. "That's her aunt," he called. She was let in. He handed over Miss Kitty. "The sore area's here," he said with a hand over it but not resting on it. She looked around and nodded. "Any idea?"
"No. You'll get her back?"
"Oh, yeah, and she'll be telling me stop hitting them too. She takes her to the vet on 60 something west?"
"I know the place. She's one of ours. We'll watch Miss Kitty while you hunt, Xander."
"Let me know if you hear or find something out." She nodded and left. Xander settled in to think.
"Sir, what reasons would anyone have to take her?" the officer asked, sitting across from him.
"She's my roommate and I had to get this earlier," he said, passing down her copy of the restraining order. "They wanted money and threatened to get it one way or another. If it's related to the red hair, her ex-girlfriend is a bit mentally bad at the moment. She cheated and Tara left her so she's shown up a few times to get her back, even though Willow's married now. Buffy said she thinks she's on that coast but she'll check and tell me if she's not." He stared outside then at him. "I doubt it's because she's a Wicca or her aunt would've heard since her aunt runs a shop."
"For their kind?" Xander nodded. "Okay." He made notes of that. "Will you let us handle it?"
"Hey, if I find them, I'll call you and you guys can come pull me off them," he promised. "You guys find them first, good for you." Willow appeared and an officer gasped. "Way to be UC, Willow."
"It wasn't me. I had tea with her earlier to apologize, Xander. The priests made me see how bad I was," she said quietly. "He brought me here to apologize."
Xander nodded. "Then that leaves my parents probably." She grimaced. "They wanted money."
"None that I've heard and I would have. I was playing kitten poker last night," he muttered, frowning some.
"Kitten poker?" the officer asked.
"Some of the people we know play kitten poker," Xander admitted. "I get a lot of information from them when something bad is happening around here." He waved a hand around. "They would've told me if something like them was coming after Tara."
"What do they do with the cats?" the officer asked.
"Eat them. No, I don't owe them anything. I'm actually pretty decent at it," he admitted. The officer nodded, writing that down. "It's not a habit," Xander told him. "Just now and then when I need information for someone. One of the ladies that goes to the shop has a daughter that ran away. They spotted her for me. Things like that."
"Do you write true crime stuff?" the officer asked.
Xander smiled. "Sci-fi/fantasy. I'm Alexian Harris."
"That information source goes back to when we were all younger and helping out in a very bad town," he said quietly. "So bad the FBI had to get into our department and gutted it."
"They didn't respond to things like a high death rate so we had a patrol to help people make it home," Willow said, looking at him. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not ready yet," he told her.
"I get it." She backed off. He was still pissed at her. "Could this be your parents?"
"I got the restraining order against them earlier," he said, looking at her. "They're out on bail. I don't think it'd be her parents. They haven't contacted her since Buffy ran them off. They were a lot like mine only they thought girls were slaves," he told the officer, who wrote it down.
"I can check on them," Willow promised. "I've been keeping a virtual eye on them." She walked out and disappeared from a more hidden spot.
"How did she do that?" one CSU officer asked.
Xander shrugged. "I can't."
"Okay." She made note of it but in her private notes, not the official ones.
Xander stared at the doorway. Something wasn't right about that. Willow had shown up at just the right point but she was still under priestly care. He mentally grimaced but still stared at the blood streak. He took the notepad to write something down. "If they come after me, this is my literary agent." He stared at the officer. "If I disappear, make sure my laptop gets to her?" He nodded, making that note. "It should be in the bottom desk drawer, in the safe drawer."
"The bottom drawer is missing, sir," the officer said when he looked.
"Hmm." He considered it. "I have LoJack on it. She can get it." The officer nodded, going to call her.
"Sir, we're going to have to seal the apartment for a few days," one CSU said. "Do you have anywhere to stay?"
"I have money, I can hit a hotel." She nodded. "My main things are upstairs." She walked him up there, taking note of what he was taking. He found a note and stuffed it in there when she wasn't looking. He grabbed his other ID case, looking in it. "I need the blue and silver things," he said, handing it to her. "There's an ATM card missing. Tara has her own."
She nodded. "Which bank?"
"First National." He pointed at the other one. "That's my backup of it." She took down the number on it and let him take that then put the wallet into a bag. He looked and grabbed something else. "That'll work." He looked at her. "I'm going to get into my weapons case. It has mediaeval and more modern weapons for comparison and research purposes," he said quietly. "I'll tell you if something's missing but I would appreciate you guys not forcing the lock on it."
"If it's legal why would we?"
Xander smiled. "One was a gift from a former commando."
"Oh." He walked down there, getting into the one that was at the base of the stairs. She gasped. "Yeah, that's ... a bit much, sir."
"I use it when I write the hunting series, Officer. I'm going to securely lock it so no one can get into it." He pulled out something and tossed it into the bag. Then a second weapon. He locked and sealed that one. He went to the other one. "My battle axe is missing." He stared, looking around. "No, it's there," he said with a point. "Can I put it back?" One of the CSU checked it and let him put it back into the cabinet. He looked. "There's a sword missing but that was upstairs." He checked. "Tara's working kit isn't in here." He closed and locked it, making sure no one could get into it. He went into her room, looking under her bed. "That's usually in there." They nodded, taking it out to dust for prints. He took the notepad to write something down. "To compare her ex's fingerprints, talk to him," he said quietly. "They have the files locked. Do not tell him that Tara is missing or they'll be annoying." She nodded at that. "Mine I'm sure you can find all over."
"We'll need a comparison sample," she said. She took his and let him grab his bag and head out. She searched the room. It was a nice room. Very girlish. It was clear those two weren't together. She even had her own bathroom. She glanced in the storage area but nothing stood out to her but some covered lumps of boxes.
Xander walked into the warehouse that night, going back to the kitten poker tables. A few people spotted him and gasped. "Who has her?" he asked calmly. "Just tell me and I don't have to get mad at anyone but whoever it was. Them, you can hold a funeral for."
"We heard Rosenburg was out," one said timidly. "And your parents."
"Yup, on both counts. Willow showed up earlier." He looked around. "Anyone?"
"Only Raul probably knows for sure, Knight," the dealer said respectfully.
Xander nodded. "Thank you, guys. Let me know if you hear anything, please." They nodded. "Especially since whoever did it knocked Tara out. There was blood. They even hurt the cat."
One of the demons winced. "She'll kill them herself."
"Yup," Xander agreed. "If I don't get them first. You can tell Raul or not. If I'm blocked, I'll release some anger since he has vampire guards." He smirked and walked out, heading to that store. In Chinatown's back alley no less. He walked up to the door. The vampires gave him dirty looks. "Don't start. They kidnaped Tara." They let him inside. Raul met him in the front of the herb shop. "I heard you know?"
"Rosenburg." He looked him over. "She wants her back."
"Is Daniel all right?"
"He's fine. She knocked him silly with a memory spell."
"I'm going to beat her ass. Where is she?"
"I called in an anonymous report so the cops could get her. That way you can fuss instead."
"Thanks, man. Where?" He handed over a piece of paper. "Thank you." He left, glancing at it. Well, he knew that area of town slightly. He had hunted down there a few times. Xander saw the officers busting in and followed subtly. Willow sent them away magically. "That won't work on me," he said, stepping out of the shadows.
"You're evil," she sneered.
"No I can't say as I am. Angry as hell." He stared at her. "Let Tara go, Willow. You lost your chance with her when you cheated on her and you're throwing Daniel away because you're being stalkery."
"You don't know anything!" she shouted.
"I walked in and caught you!" he shot back. "Not to mention she made a tape of it and sold it." Willow gasped. "No one's told Daniel yet." He stared at her. "Let Tara go, Willow. This is bad magic. They'll come for you again."
"They let me go, said I was fine now," she said smugly. "The things you learn from your parents."
"Yeah, really," he said dryly, pointing behind him. Two priests were walking in. "Remove the spells from Tara."
"No one else can have her!" she shouted, trying to get away from them. They were immune to magic.
"If you actually loved her, you'd want her to be happy!" Xander shot back. "You'd want the best for her, not whatever this obsession of yours is doing to you!"
"Bullshit! You even hurt your cat!" She growled and waved at him. A bright light took him. The priests got her. Tara got freed and they watched her cry and kick Willow a few times before stomping off. They'd deal with wherever Xander was later. They escorted the nice young woman to the local police station, where the officers were gathering for another try. They told them that Willow had run away and left her there so they had rescued her. That they had dealt with Willow's addiction recently so they were watching her. By then Tara was out of her anger and shock, just sobbing in a corner. The priests called her aunt for her. Since Harris was now displaced somewhere else.
Xander landed and blinked a few times, looking at the fence around him. "Huh," he said, forcing his anger back down. Tara had been awake and alive. The priests would help Tara. For right now, he needed to help himself. Because this was not a good sign. He had no idea where this was.
"Pretty night, Agent Harris," a guard with a dog said as he walked past him.
Xander stared at him then smiled. Oh, yeah, it was bad. "I take it there's another of me here?" Talk about magic going screwy around him! This was almost cute of Willow. It gave him reinforcements from this *Agent* Harris. The guard stiffened. "Chill, dude. I just ran into Rosenburg having a magical crackhead moment. I'm not dangerous."
"We've had problems with her in the past, sir. Let me get your other self down here?"
"Sure. That's cool. Whatever your protocol is." The guard relaxed some, calling that in. A few people came jogging his way. "I've seen you somewhere," he told the guy in front.
"Mac Taylor. I know you're Xander Harris. You're in New York?"
"Yeah, just moved there on orders of my agent."
"Writing. I write sci-fi/fantasy." He smiled. "Including a wonderful paranormal hunting series."
"Do you have any idea how you got here?"
"I was tracking down Rosenburg after she kidnaped her former girlfriend. She sent me here."
"Figures," a figure behind him said, stepping out into the open. "Hey, me."
"Yeah, DCIS. Demon Criminal Investigative Services. We got published?"
"Yeah, my muses are really strong sometimes." He shook his hand.
"There should be some sort of flux that happens if you two touch," Mac said. "But there's not."
"That's because I'm too far off this realm," writing Xander told him with a smile. "Let's go talk? I'm trying to be optimistic that the priests can handle Willow."
"Priests?" Xander asked.
"I handed her to Black Morgan, he's of the White Order."
"Ooooh," Xander said, shivering. "That's nearly evil."
"She was upsetting Tara."
"This I wanna hear," he decided. "C'mon, let's hit the infirmary to make sure you're all right."
"Sure." He walked off with him, the others walking around them. "So, we do what?"
"We're basically the investigative arm of the government for demon or human on demon crimes," Xander told him. "Though I do get a lot of weapons cases."
"Cool. Tara and I are in New York right now. I just defeated the evil, begging parents. They weren't amused that the real world didn't work like Sunnydale. Uncle Rory got put away for DUI finally."
"Wonderful. So, did your Sunnydale fall in?"
"Did you guys face the First Evil after Buffy died and got resurrected?"
"She hasn't died since tenth grade," he said calmly. Damn, he was hearing the future he didn't want to hear.
"Here she died facing Glory."
"Glory was in New York looking for the Key. We faced her down and blew her ass up."
"Okay," DCIS Xander said. "We faced her in Sunnydale."
"Our Sunnydale got shut down by some guys in the FBI after I turned in some cults with high weapons I wanted to pet."
"Cool!" He grinned at himself. "Which agents?"
"Um... LA...Epps? I think? There was an Agent Edgerton there who tried to stalk us around on patrol. I talked a lot with Colby Granger and David...what's his name. I can't remember."
"We work with Epps and his team as local liaisons out in LA," DCIS Xander said with a grin. "It's cool that we do have some intersecting times."
"We lived in LA for a while but Tara graduated and the new literary agent wanted us in New York so we were closer. We lost my first one for being bi and open about it. Then my editor got eaten by a larger company so he got moved to New York too." He looked back at Taylor. "You're an officer, right?"
"Head of the Manhattan felony lab."
"That's probably where I saw you. Dealing with one of my exes."
"Don't tell us you're still dating deadly things," Mac moaned.
"Well, not right now. In the past I have." He beamed at himself. "Why? Did you marry the cheating whore Anya?"
"She cheated on you?" DCIS Xander asked.
"With Willow. Which was when Tara and I decided they needed to be helped. We cast redeeming wishes through the wish demons that showed up. Willow to get married and have a family that she adored. Anya to find faith and charity." He smiled a huge grin. "She's very happy."
Mac Taylor cackled, leaning on the guy next to him. "Oh, that's so evil!" he said.
"She deserved it," he said with a smile and a shrug. "Especially since I walked in on them."
"That sounds like something I might do," DCIS Xander agreed. He pointed. "Welcome to DCIS."
"That's cool. Hey, I know you," he told Daniel. "People freaked when I bought a cabin next to your friend and former boss. They ended up having to tell him about the Initiative stuff. I handed an NID/IOA plant to a poker buddy for tentacle jewelry duty when they bothered both of us. One of your docs fixed my rib really nicely."
"Sure," Daniel agreed, shaking his hand. "I can see Jack freaking out if you moved next to him and he didn't know about demons." He compared them. "I think you're probably a few years younger than our Xander."
"Possibly. I left Sunnydale when the FBI shut it down for being so corrupt. Now we're hunting in New York when we have to. Tara and me."
"That's fine," Daniel assured him with a smile. "Was I okay?"
"Max did offer her husband to you for some info on demons and something about Ancients and things." He shrugged. "I don't know how you reacted. I was stoned on the painkiller for my broken rib. Doctor Lam was *really* nice, Carter was kinda scary as a pushy, disbelieving blonde lady, and Mitchell tried really hard to be nice and decent to me."
"Good." He smiled. "Let's make sure you're okay from your trip," he ordered.
"Sure, I get that problem. I could have spatial radiation or something."
"Wow, it took me forever to learn about that," local Xander said.
"I needed it for a book and had Chuck explain it to me. He had a BS in physics but liked the agent lifestyle better. More girls."
"That I can definitely see," his other self sighed, nodding. "I need a new girl."
"Yeah, me too," New York Xander agreed. "Damn we need someone decent."
Chase looked up at them. "There's TWO of you again?" he demanded. "Is it another apocalypse?"
"No, the priests will stop Willow from causing one," he promised. "I take you've seen other us's?" he asked himself.
"Yeah, about a year back. Someone made a wish for multiple demon fighting Xander just in time for one of the highest in hell to come buying souls."
"Huh. We never had that happen."
"If you do, definitely get his bag of contracts to burn and use a lot of artillery," Daniel told him.
"I'll remember that. This is kinda neat. You guys don't do things like Riley, right?" They all shook their heads. "Decent." He let the doctor put him onto a table. "I'm pretty healthy now."
"Good. Why weren't you before?" the Australian doctor asked.
"Broken rib. I was a bit mad so I was chopping wood."
"That sounds like something our Xander would do," Chase admitted.
"The last time I was that pissed, I did some smithing work," his Xander told him. "House threw a fit and made me stop."
"I got to vent to the nice little guy Thor," writer Xander told him. "He let me vent everything so I'd quit making a lake view."
"Which cabin did you buy?" Daniel asked.
"Um, the one to east. It was only seven trees. Only took me two days."
"With a broken rib?" he demanded. Xander nodded. "Ow." He rubbed his last broken one.
"It's fully healed now. Doctor Lam put it back into place and took care of it when she spotted the internal bleeding. She was there to see why I had sucked up so much energy and to make sure it wouldn't make anyone else glow."
"That sounds like her," he decided. "Okay. Chase?"
"I'm not picking up anything wrong but I want to run a full body CT to make sure. That would pick up any strange energy output."
"She let it come out in some sort of goop bath like they did machines."
"I know what you're talking about," Daniel admitted. "That may be how Willow sent you here instead of away. Let me look that up in case." He left.
Xander shrugged. "You up for that?"
"Sure." He got up and took off his two concealing necklaces, letting himself hold those. Chase had him strip down in the CT room and lay on the bed. It didn't take that long. When he got out, he was taken back to the local Xander's apartment for the night. They could talk in the morning.
The sad thing was his muses were humming at the interesting goings on but he didn't feel the desire to write. They knew he was in danger.
Daniel watched the new Xander watch them. He didn't seem to be too bothered but his Xander was deeper than most people expected. He sat down next to him at the picnic table. "Watching us?"
"I'm thinking I could be a top ten on the best sellers list if I could make this idea into a story," he admitted, looking at him. "But I might get busted."
"You're in a whole other world," he pointed out. "I doubt your people would disagree with it."
"Riley's boss might."
"We're nothing like them."
"Yeah but they're having hunting squads."
"Ah. We're still a few years ahead of you on that. They got moved to Homeland in ours and most of the ones we've asked about."
"Basically, yes." He smiled. "Some of them might exist in your world, the same as I do."
"I know. I'd have to change appearances and things."
He nodded. "Probably. If you do it that way, it might work. I know the you here is a hit on YouTube for various arrests."
Xander smiled. "I'm just meant to be a star."
"Of course you are." He smirked back. "So, how did you like the mountain?"
"I saw the infirmary and the elevators."
"I figured they hadn't given you a guided tour. Ours might've tried to sneak off."
"They assured me they weren't like Finn's people. The blonde lady, Carter, was a bit of a stick up the ass sort. Totally disbelieved magic even when it was right in front of her. Cam didn't yell at Tara when she slammed him into the ceiling because he was checking on me when she showed up to do the same thing."
"Cam can be laid back sometimes." He smiled. "Sam.... she probably won't believe magic unless she can get it to work for herself. Here, she was a slayer activated over the age of aging out thanks to something Willow did to help Buffy."
"We have more than two?"
"The First Evil situation meant that they had to activate all of the potentials. Later on, Willow gave the older ones that had aged out a chance to take it up." He smirked. "We train them here since the old Council got blown up. You're actually the head of the council since Giles is coming back from a brain sucking demon."
"Eww. I'm in charge?" He smirked and nodded. "None of the others exist?"
"A few. Wesley and you rebuilt it since Rupert was in a magical coma."
"Did he bitch when he woke up?"
"Many times but the girls sided with you and Wesley. Wesley handles the current roster of where everyone is and patrol schedules. You handle the daily life things and have hired a lot of help for the girls. The base takes advantage of it too."
"I'm guessing you guys would need it."
"Of ten. We back up the girls for apocalypses."
"Wow. You guys do federal crimes?"
"Yes. Mostly. Some places don't have local offices so we handle theirs too."
"The you here was very instrumental to the forming of this agency, Xander. He's done a lot more work than most everyone else seems to do, including maintenance work at the start, and helped the agents here build into a cohesive team."
"I'm majorly impressed with myself."
Daniel smiled. "You should talk to him. I know the others aren't really bothered as long as the books don't come here." He got up. "I'll talk to Sam Carter, see if she wants to give herself some information." He left to go up to the lab. "Guys, the other Xander ran into us," he told them. It was only Abby, Rodney, Sam, and Radek in the main lab.
"How?" Abby asked, smiling at him.
"He bought the cabin next to Jack's fishing cabin." Sam cackled at that, shaking her head. "Apparently there was some mutual freaking out and the us there got told about the Initiative. He said the you there still had the rod up your hind end and didn't believe in magic even when it was right in front of you but Cam had been decent and friendly to him. Hadn't even yelled at Tara when she pinned him to a ceiling when she found him checking on Xander."
"How far behind us are they?" she asked.
"Probably pretty far. He never mentioned meeting Teal'c but he did mention meeting Thor. Apparently Thor let him vent during that wood chopping with the broken rib thing."
"Doctor Lam was there."
"So, a few years back," she decided. "Okay. I might be able to give her some ideas of where to look so she quits freaking out. I know I did a few times." She shook her head quickly. "Atlantis?"
"I didn't ask."
"If that Xander is anything like ours, he's got an informational line to the Mountain," Abby pointed out dryly. "You said Xander knew who you were when you showed up, Danny."
"He did. Greeted me by name and he had been on a case when I came in."
Rodney grimaced. "We might negatively influence the other timeline."
"If they're just now learning about demons, they're freaking out," Abby reminded him. "You did."
"I did," he agreed, letting her kiss him and giving a smirk back. "Naughty. We're in the lab."
"At least we're not doing DNA work so we don't have to worry about weeding out your spit," Sam teased with an evil smirk of her own.
Abby pinched her. "Be nicer! He's my Rodney."
"We all know that," Sam assured her. Radek muttered something about gagging on the sugar flowing from them, making Daniel laugh. She smirked, heading out to find that Xander. He spotted her and stiffened some. "Relax. I did since that time in my life. Do we have another project out of the mountain?"
"I heard something about a flying one. The demons all hoped you guys had a way back. They kept saying you guys were heroically stupid. Especially since the Ancients hadn't liked demons and created slayers because of it." She gaped. He shrugged. "At least in ours."
"Huh. I never considered that." She nodded. "What did my hair look like?"
"Kinda shorter than you're wearing it now, but a bit more wind blown."
"BDU's. T-shirt. Boots."
She nodded, pulling out her ID card. "About that length?" He looked and nodded, smiling at her. "I had a broomstick up my butt then," she agreed, cracking him up. "I'll give you something to help the me there calm down." She left, going back to the lab. "Atlantis is in the first or maybe early second year," she said as she walked in. Rodney moaned and shuddered. "I looked like my ID card so that's five years old."
Abby beamed at her. "Good idea, Sam."
"Oh, and he said in their world, Ancients made slayers." Rodney stiffened, staring at her. "That they knew about demons."
"Huh," Abby said, getting into the database copy they had on base. She did a search for the word 'demon' and didn't come up with anything. Rodney took over, doing a faster search for another few terms. Something did come up. "They knew about the scythe."
"It says the Ancients examined it and wondered about the power in it, but did not interfere." He and Sam shared a look and she took over searching for that information. Rodney settled in to write himself a long letter. He also encouraged him to find the Abby in his world. Since he was so blindingly happy with her, his other self should find some of that.
Xander looked at his other self that night. "Do you think the others would mind if I wrote this in my world?"
"No. I asked." He smirked. "Don't include us?"
"I'll make us a quiet corner worker chugging away at cases and weapons."
"That's cool." He ate a bite and got up to go into the office, coming back with a removable hard drive. "Tony said to make sure you get him right. He's a very good playboy who can't find anyone out here. So is Eric." That Xander beamed, going to put it into his jacket pocket. "Do you think there's all these people there?"
"Probably at least most of them. I'll change enough things that no one's recognizable."
"They'd like that."
"I'm only worried about Finn's people."
"No, Riley's crap but they won't mind. It's nowhere near them."
"They warned me not to let anything of Sunnydale or them show up. They're trying to figure out if my hunting series is based on real hunters."
"Like the Winchesters?"
"Um, the training team for the slayers is a father and two sons who have hunted demons for years."
"I have a set of twin brothers and one female hunter being badasses and handling things. If we can get me inside the apartment I'll give you my promo copies."
"That'd be cool."
"I gave Buffy the emo vampires stories. My first agent wanted me to write more like them because they were selling. She cackled *so* hard. Woke the neighbors up cackling. Then I gave them to Cordy to make her cackle and pick on Angel." He beamed.
The local Xander snickered. "I would've done the same thing. How is your Buffy?"
"In LA. It was nice she apologized for the last apocalypse and the things that happened afterward. I'll go back for major things," he said at the look he got. "Willow's gone too far."
"Here too. She's in the jail."
"Maybe I should take a letter from this one to mine. It might help her." Xander nodded at that. "You think she would?"
"I think she'd be horrified that you sicced the White Order on her," he admitted. "You do know that they're probably beating the evil out of her?"
"Yeah, and I also know that she's threatened Tara; I was rescuing her from a kidnaping of Tara this time, and she had even sunk to hurting the cat."
"That wish was kinda strong."
"It let her pick someone who'd make her happy if she let herself be. Even before the wish she tried to make them forget I existed and take over my apartment. All sorts of neat things like that."
"Hmmm. How do you solve a problem like Willow?" he quipped dryly.
"I'm all for them beating her ass. Even if they are going S&M on her, as long as they make her see that her magic addiction is the problem."
"I'm sure she will," he agreed quietly. "Here, Willow's hurt the base and me repeatedly." They shared a look. "I'll be writing one to her if she doesn't. I never want you to have to play 'what if' with the universe." He stuffed his mouth.
Xander shuddered. "I'm sorry."
"So am I but I'm mostly healed. Now and then heavy magic makes my arm ache where it was nearly destroyed during it." He gave him a weak smile. "It's only part of who we are. Beyond that we're fascinating, wonderful, slightly intelligent, handy with weapons, and very good lovers. Even if you are living UC in New York."
"Being undercover as a normal isn't so bad. The cops in LA that used to shadow me on dates sent the file to the cops in New York. I've helped a few times through another writer that I kinda look up to. Then the apocalypse happened. So I think they respect me more, I hope. I think they do though. They think I'm kinda creepy and odd."
"We can be," DCIS Xander agreed dryly. "But we're passionate about some things." He winked. "We'll handle it."
"I hope so." He looked around. "No permanent girlfriend?"
"Nope. Not right now. Anya and I made another try after she got re-demoned after she died in Sunnydale's last apocalypse, but she'd have to die again because they couldn't take her powers from her. We play now and then. Everyone complains of course. Apparently she's loud." Xander snickered at that. "She is."
"Yeah, she was." He shook his head, stuffing it again. "No one else?" he asked once he had swallowed. The twinkie and frito pie was *great*. He needed this recipe.
"A few that I was liking but they ended up not being able to handle it. I'll find one sometime. You? You're living with Tara?"
"I had them give her a very girlish, pretty, delicate bathroom for her pleasure. I have the bigger one upstairs. She ignores it when I bring home dates and I take her to events so she can meet nicer girls and I can threaten anyone who might hurt her. Like a proper brother."
"Good! She could've used it." He smiled. Someone knocked and they looked over. "Who is it?" he called.
"Come in." He came in and looked at them before handing over a stack of envelopes. "Thanks, Fargo. Me, this is Fargo, he used to be the assistant to the head of a super classified DoD company. Now he works in the lab and proofreads."
"Hi, Fargo." He shook his hand. "Delivery duty?"
"Please." He smiled. "So you write?"
"Yup, and I'm an undercover hunter. Usually I'm chained to my keyboard until Tara nags me to eat and stuff."
"Ours works way too hard but not that hard yet." He smirked at his Xander. "You're eating twinkies and fritos?"
Xander got him some and they sat down to talk about DCIS. Since Fargo was so new, their Xander could tell him stories about the early days of the base. Including before Tony got there. Things were much more insane back then.
Dawn finally got there that weekend. She stared at the second Xander. "No apocalypse?"
"Willow," their Xander told her.
"Ah." She nodded. "Bitch." She looked him over. "What's new from here?"
"The bag, the hard drive I was using, and the letters."
She shielded the bag and added something to it so the hard drive wouldn't erase. "Okay, let's see if I can do this. Where do you want to appear?" He shrugged. "No preferences?"
"I'm not sure if our apartment has been unsealed by the crime scene guys after Willow kidnaped Tara. How about the park? Or maybe the store....." He considered it. "Do you need pictures?"
He sighed and thought, picturing the shop. Then he switched and got a picture of the cabin off Daniel's PDA. He had pictures on it. "That's his buddy's cabin. I have my cards so I can fly home."
She looked at it. "Is it exactly the same?" He nodded. "Perfectly?"
"I think one cushion was blue checked instead of red."
"Okay." She tested his magical signature. "How did they weed the hellmouth energy out of you?"
"Something Doctor Lam did. I was asleep."
"Decent," she decided. "We might need that." She opened the picture, finding the one out of many that matched his energy signature. She found traces of him there so she knew it was the right one. She opened up the portal. "There you go. Hold the bag against your chest. It's shielded but there's some wind between." She beamed at him. "Beat her for us too."
"I will." He shook hands and walked through. He nodded and waved once he was over there. She closed the portal.
"How in the hell?" Jack demanded from the porch. It wasn't every day even he saw a shiny mirror looking hole open up in midair in his yard.
"Willow sent me to another dimension. I have letters for some of your people from the ones there of them."
"Huh?" he asked.
"The guy with the glasses? Your buddy?"
"Daniel, yeah, why?"
"He was running their agency that investigated demon crimes."
Jack shook his head quickly. "Huh?" Xander sat down on the porch steps and pulled out letters, letting him pluck out a few others. "I know them. I can have them delivered."
"They're from themselves there." He beamed. "They were pretty cool for being agents and stuff. Oh! Sam said to add a note onto yours earlier today. She said to tell you to read McKay's after he does because there's some info in there on the ZPM thingy? No idea what it means but she did mention spores and a shield and losing someone named Carson?"
"I can do that," he decided. "Why come back here?"
"She needed a picture and that Daniel had one."
"That makes more sense. Anything else you brought?"
"A hard drive? They said I could write about DCIS. Apparently they're slightly insane from being federal agents investigating demon crimes. They all complained about the me there's multiple loud, mean girlfriends."
"Sure, I can understand why." The portal opened and a new bag got tossed across then another bigger one. "Thanks," he called, waving. The Daniel on that side smirked and waved. "Fucking nutsoid," he muttered, going to get it. "Kid, this one's yours," he said, handing it over. He looked at the other one. Messages from the ones there to the ones here at Stargate and a few other places. "I don't think they'd believe that," he decided.
"You never know. Should I deliver those?"
"No, most of these go to my people."
"Yup. Head home, kid."
"Okay. Can I get a cab?"
"Not all the way out here. I'll drop you in town on my way to deliver these." The boy beamed. Really, the kid wasn't a bad neighbor. A bit bouncy and happy when he was in a good mood. Protective. Didn't party too loudly. He'd almost miss the kid. He drove them into town, dropping him at the bus station. "Take the bus to Denver and catch a flight. That's the easiest way."
"I can do that. Thank you." He waved and walked inside, calling home. "Hi. I'm back." He listened to her babble and squeal at Paula. "Guess. But I did get to see the other Xander and all his buddies. I'm in Colorado Springs and I'll be back by tonight?" He beamed. "Taking a bus to Denver to get a flight to New York. Sure. I can do that." He hung up. "I need a bus to Las Vegas. Apparently my agent wants me there."
"That's fine, sir." He selected that and it came up. "There's one bus change in Denver."
"That's cool." He paid with his card and went to the bookstore and candy shop next door. He avoided getting his own books. They were on prominent sale. "Marked down already?" he pouted. "Huh."
"He's a very popular author but he's got something new coming out," the saleslady said with a smile. "Do you like his stuff, sir?"
"Actually, I am him," he admitted with a smile. "And yeah, there's something in the hunting series coming out next, then Tral's next part after that. That'll be in three months and then at the end of five months for the Tral one."
She gaped. "You're taking a bus?"
"To Las Vegas. I had to take one to Denver anyway." He shrugged. "It works for me. I can get stuff done while I'm on there. Then I'll head home." He grinned.
She shivered. "That's very interesting. Not many authors are that humble. They want their own planes and things."
"No, writers don't make as much as rock stars unless you're in the top five best seller's list. Or get groupies," he admitted. She laughed. "Really. Otherwise I might have some."
She patted him on the arm. "You're cute but much too young for me." He winked back and she walked off giggling. "Need something to read?"
"Please? Graphic novel or good fantasy book?" She pointed at the section, letting him denude it for the trip. He paid and got something for the ride to eat and drink, then went to wait. It wasn't too long. He did get something done.
Jack looked at the people he gathered. "I just had another Harris run in. Apparently someone named Willow sent him to another realm where we're not quite the same. We sent ourselves letters."
"What are we doing instead?" Daniel asked.
"You're running a federal agency that investigates demon crimes." He handed over his very thick letter. Then the second one. He handed out the others, keeping his own. "I was told by the Carter there that we need to know some of the non-personal stuff in McKay's letter to help Atlantis."
Carter looked at him. "Maybe we should open it first?"
"Let him email back everything that's not personal. I don't want to know what he told himself about girlfriends or anything. Since I saw the one there with his arm around a woman's shoulders, I'm guessing he has one."
"He was touching a woman?" she asked. "In public?"
"Yeah. Pigtails, goth clothes.... He looked amused too."
She shuddered. "That poor woman!" She opened hers. It had a lot of information on things that she didn't want to think about. "She told me how to prove magic was real and in the theoretical ranges of string physics. What's a slayer?" She looked up.
"According to the Initiative's files, a mystically chosen female warrior," Jack said blandly. "Why?"
"She is one." She sat down, reading it again.
Daniel looked at his. "I included what they found there about the Ori, Ancients and their demon connections from the Atlantis database, and a few other things. Then I get a personal letter." He read it, snickering. "It starts out with 'if you're near Xander and he's dating, beware of the noise." It went over what had happened. "They got me right after Cam got here. When they took Vala we went on hiatus. The president reassigned me then to run the agency of cowboy agents and insane people who helped save the world even more often than we did. Interesting." He kept reading.
Cam read his and snorted. "Mine says that the me there thinks you're insane for still being there but it's nice that they put us under you instead of the IOA."
"I might not mind that," Landry complained, reading his. He snickered. "I gave myself some fishing holes." He shook his head. "And a better antacid. Plus an herbal pain killer?"
"Mine mentions that. It's not addictive and it works well enough to cover up broken ribs," Daniel said. "When are we doing the mail run to Atlantis?"
"Tomorrow is when we send information packets over," Jack said. "Midway can send these through." They all nodded at that. It'd take too long by ship. It might be important to save someone's life up there.
John walked down to take the bag. "Mail?"
"Yes, sir, from a cross-dimensional trip. I was told to tell you that the people there wrote those to you, they're a bit ahead temporally. Also to tell Dr. McKay to send back any non-personal information in his since they think it has information on ZPMs and things." He went back through the stargate and shut it down.
John nodded, walking off to pass those out. Everyone was always happy on mail day. "McKay, cross dimensional mail." Rodney's head popped up from behind a machine. "The you there wrote this. It has personal and scientific information. The main base said to share anything science related so they didn't have to see the personal stuff. Radek, you have one too." He handed the rest of the thick stack out, keeping his for last. He settled in his office to read the thick letter. It was amusing and amazing, but it did give him some information they needed.
McKay came stomping in. "This is insane!"
"Why? Is the you there dating?"
"Yes! Some goth lab goddess!" John just smirked. "Radek's agreed!"
"So look her up, see if you're good together in this world." He shrugged. "I'm sure she's worthy of you if the you there is anything like the last version of you we saw."
"Well, of course she would be," he admitted. "But still, a *goth* girl?"
"So?" He shrugged. "Are you unhappy for him?"
"No. The letter said she even gave up sleeping in a coffin to be with me." He sniffed. "I'm quite strange there. We deal with demons much more often."
"I'm learning that." He smirked. "I did get some information we can use."
"I got how they're doing ZPM's." John sat up, staring at him. "But it's based in magic being able to open a spot of void."
"Can we do that here?"
"I don't know!" he said, glaring at him. "I know nothing about magic!"
"So send it and see if someone there does. Anything else we can use?"
"Yes. Including don't trust the Genii."
"We know that."
"It'll get worse. Plus Carson's going to die if we aren't careful."
"How worse beyond that?"
"We're off Atlantis due to some spores that nearly killed us all."
"I want to know it before you send it." McKay handed it over. "I'll skip over the personal stuff."
"I doubt I'll track her down on this world."
"You might see if she's single. You two might work well together."
"I don't think so. He respected her because of all the work she did in their world in their agency. Here she might still be at NCIS."
"So? She's still her. She's probably just as smart and plucky."
"Maybe." He took the letter back. "Let me send this to the main base." He walked off to think and email that back there.
John smirked. His letter had something on Abby and Rodney too. It sounded nearly diabetic to watch but it might be good for him.
Xander walked into the hotel in Las Vegas, smiling at the woman pacing. "It didn't take the bus that long," he complained.
Paula spun to look at him. "Where were you for the last two weeks?"
"It was only a week there. Huh." He smirked. "I had a trip thanks to Willow."
"She still with the priests?"
"They got her straightened out and brought her husband in to help them. They're much stronger and he said to say thank you for helping her instead of taking her out." She moved closer. "You're all right?"
"My counterpart had a good hand with cooking. The base was wonderful too."
He nodded, smirking at her. "Room?"
"Room? Oh, yeah." She handed him the keys. They went up there and he carefully dropped the bags. "What the hell happened?" she demanded.
"Willow sent me to another version of me in another dimension."
"Oh, god," she moaned, sitting down.
"It's cool and I have a *huge* idea." She gave him a hopeful look. "It was kinda cool. They were on a base. They investigated demon crimes." She smirked at that. "They had the *whole* base, plus science department, plus jail. Weapons cases. Everything I could drool over. I have to change descriptions to protect the versions here."
She wiped her mouth to make sure she wasn't drooling. "Can you do that?"
"Yeah. I might need some help with the agency stuff."
"I'm sure we can get you some." She stood up. "You're okay?"
"He took me to a small amusement park. I got to talk to a bunch of the slayers, who all cooed at me and hit on me. I met some hunters and they liked my version. If I had appeared at home I would've given them my promo copies."
"Tara said something about doing that." She shook her head. "I didn't understand what she said. She did say that she's fine now." Xander smiled at that. "She wants you back soon."
"As soon as you don't need me here. I called but it was busy for two hours."
She smiled. "She's found a new friend."
"Cool. Is she nice?"
Xander called, sitting down at the desk. "I tried to call earlier." She squealed in his ear. "I'm okay. She sent me to another dimension's version of me." He beamed. "Yup, it was cool. I'm okay. Are you okay?" She babbled at him and he smiled. "Of course you're allowed to have your girlfriend over. I'm not that sort of guy, Tara. If you two want me to, I'll hide or go write on the front stairs or something. You know that. Nothing's.... you don't have memories from back in LA to the new city...." He sighed. "She can't undo it?"
He listened. Then he sighed. "What does she need to undo it? Because you know I'll do what I can."
He listened. "We have that, Tara. Tara, hellmouth," he pointed out dryly. "They grow there by the beach." He rolled his eyes. "I'll call LA. They can kiss my ass. It was necessary. She... I'm not going to argue, Tara. It's not worth it to argue about Willow." He smiled. "True. Okay, I can do that. What else?" He listened. "You had some of that in your case. Ask the CSI guys if you can have it back?" He nodded. "Okay. Did they open the weapons? I thought so. Thanks."
He hung up and called LA. "Wesley, me. Don't even start. Really? You mean like the blood smear on the wall from her?" He smirked. "Exactly. Because she was stalking her, Wesley. If this was a normal stalking I would've helped her get a restraining order. Especially since she messed with everyone's memories." He smirked at the wall. "Exactly and I'm not going to let *anyone* hurt Tara. She's been hurt enough by all that shit." He nodded.
"Exactly. No, to undo the spell, we need Mohra demon blood and a few of the crystals that grow in the caves by the beach. Yeah, the blue/green ones. They said they needed a fully ripened and loaded one. I can go back and get one," he offered dryly. "Thank you. Yeah, I'm back. No, she sent me to another realm." He looked at the letter in front of him.
"Actually, I have one from the her there to the her here. The one there was in jail for magic abuse." Wesley shuddered. "Yeah, so I'm in Las Vegas for a bit. Paula said so. Agent, Wesley. You knew this last week." Wesley muttered and checked himself. Then he started to swear. "Yup. Want the letter? Please do." He hung up. Wesley appeared a few minutes later. "Willow grammed?"
"Yes." He took the letter to look at. "This is sad."
"When did she get you guys?"
"Afterward. She admitted it. She said they allowed it."
"No they wouldn't. Which means they're going to hunt her down probably. They are associated with the roaming hunters," he said at Wesley's glare. "Technically, I just wanted the priest in New York that dealt with that stuff, not one of them specifically."
"No, it was a good call. She needed their help. She still does. Daniel is helping her though. I'll let him know." He looked him over. "Are you all right?"
"Not bad. The me in that other dimension is a federal agent in the agency that handles demon crimes."
"Interesting." He looked up. "I'm ready." She brought him back. He walked her over to Daniel. "She has other memory spells to cure."
"I figured she did," he admitted. "Considering I don't remember yesterday."
"They know roaming hunters, Daniel." Willow moaned. He held up the letter. "From the you in the realm that you sent Xander to." She gave him a horrified look. He read it, nodding at what it contained. "The you there was so bad, you played with Xander so hard it nearly destroyed him and the world." He looked at her. "You're in jail for nearly killing the slayers by calling a very high demon."
"I can't be." She took it to read, choking up on what it said. "No!"
"You have to reform yourself, Willow," Daniel said quietly. "We don't have a jail here. All we have here is a burning pile of wood and a hunter." She started to cry. He wanted to hold her but she was at fault. He patted her on the back. "Remove all the spells." She muttered and let it go, crushing something in her hand. He gave her a hug. "You'll reform so when they check on you they know that. It's for emergencies and apocalypses."
"It is," she agreed, looking at him. "I'm sorry."
"We'll heal and move on from here. I'll help. Even if I do have to divert your attention," he said, making her blush. He kissed her on the cheek. "Now, make sure the spells are all off everyone, Willow. All but Angel's." She nodded, taking him with her.
Wesley smiled at the watching Angel and Gunn. "It seems it was a good trip in more ways than one."
"Hopefully," Gunn agreed. "I'm not getting between her and a hunter."
"Me either but we can tell them that she's given it up," Angel decided. "As long as she has." He walked off to make that known. She had finally been broken. Even though she couldn't sit from the last one it had been this that had forced her to finally see it.
Xander looked at the man who was there to talk to him. "Graham, I'm going to piss you guys off."
"Why?" he complained, sitting down. They were back in New York and Xander had picked a nice place for lunch. "Will I need antacids?"
"I got a good idea when Willow sent me away from saving Tara."
"They finally got through to her," he admitted. "But while visiting with the other me there....."
"And their world didn't end?"
"They had nine of us or so there for a major apocalypse."
"That poor world." He moaned, shaking his head.
"They also had all the slayers activated," he said quietly. "Because the First Evil destroyed the Council and they had to so she was defeated." He handed over something. "From Faith in that world, who was out and being the big sister to all them. On the apocalypses they've seen. Make sure Angel gets that."
"Of course." He looked at it then at him. "What else happened?"
"Defense Contractors Investigative Services? Or whatever that is?"
"Demon Criminal Investigative Services."
Graham stared at him. "Um...." Xander held up a key drive. "What's this?"
"Their first case that I got given."
"Am I there?"
"Nope. Homeland. All you guys are in Homeland."
"I'd hate that." He took the key drive and smiled at the waitress handing him a plate. "Thank you." She handed Xander his and walked off with a wink for Xander. "Thanks for ordering, Harris."
"Welcome." He smiled. "Nowhere near you guys' things. Though I did see the guys from the cabin there."
"I don't want to know because that'll get me sanctioned," he said bluntly.
"That's fine. I carried letters from the them there to the ones here."
"That's good of you."
"They were ahead."
"Oh." He nodded, opening the note to read it over. "Oh, crap," he said. "LA?"
"Might be able to be stopped, no clue," he admitted. He shrugged. "Let me know."
"I will." He dug into his salad. It was calming on his stomach. "Before you print anything...."
"I'm only halfway through."
"Thank you, Harris. And for the warning." He finished up and put down for the tip, heading back to the office to tell his boss that. He ran the case file on the way. That dimension must be so screwed up. Xander Harris as a federal agent? They were doomed! His boss looked up when he got back there a few hours later. "We have foretelling of doom, in multiple keys, and Harris got sent by Rosenburg to another realm where he's an agent." His boss took a swig of Pepto. He let him see the case file. "His new book is being based there."
His boss read through it. "I feel sorry for their world that they need this." He looked up. "He's warning us?"
"Thank you." He looked at the note. "That's... really bad."
"They have *all* the potential slayers activated."
"Oh, hell!" he said, looking at him.
"We're in Homeland though." He smirked.
"I'd kill you all," he promised. "Put you out of your misery." Graham laughed. "All right. We need to work on this Black Thorn group now."
"He wanted to make sure we shared with Summers and them."
"Do so." Graham ran off a copy. "This file?"
"Fair warning in his case. He's halfway done."
"I feel very sorry for their world."
"He did say some of the guys at the cabin thing were there. He's probably going to change identities."
"Good!" He stared at him. "Well, it can't be any worse. With his hunting series it might be very popular."
"It could be," Graham agreed. "It doesn't really touch on ours."
"Even better. I won't stop him making a living with this. If it touches on us or the current teams and he can be roasted."
"Yes, sir." He saluted and left to send those notes to Wesley in LA.
His boss had some more pepto before telling the others who would need to know. Their world was so screwed up. He hoped they didn't run here when Harris destroyed their world.
Xander bounced into the mall, finding the young woman he needed. His spies, namely Paula, had said she'd be here today shopping for a new book opening party. He found her and her grandmother. "Alexis."
"Xander," she said, smiling at him. "Is Paula being mean and making you shop?" she asked.
"Not quite. I'm looking for you."
"Who are you, young man?" the older woman asked.
He grinned. "Hi, Alexian Harris. Your son helps me some and I want to hire your daughter to help me with the newest series."
"I can't proofread."
"I have one of those I pay. I need someone to look over the 'agency' and that sort of thing. I know *nothing* about corporate structure inside the government. Or outside the government really."
She considered it. "You're crossing into Dad's area?" He held up a key drive. "What sort of paycheck are we talking?"
"Shopping trip for each book? Say.... a grand?"
"Five," she countered with a smirk. "I can do that much shoe shopping."
"Buffy could too. Two and you get credit?"
"I could stand two." Her father walked over. "Dad, he's bribing me to help him with a new book."
"For?" he asked with a smirk. "Bribery already?"
"It's an agency."
"You're doing something like Clancy?"
"Not quite." He beamed. "It's explained in there so you could look over her shoulder if you want. Do you think two grand of shopping is good?"
"I think she'll run you ragged, kid." He took the keydrive. "Let me help her look it over tonight and I'll let her decide."
"Thanks." He hugged all three and bounced off to have some pretzels.
"Eat something to soak up that sugar," he called after him, making his mother laugh. He looked at his daughter. "I'll help."
"Thanks, Dad. I could use the shopping trip."
"I know you could." He patted her on the back, putting the drive into his pocket. He had no idea what the kid was going for this time but he had nearly looked unholy in his glee. That was probably a bad sign. That or his daughter might go evil by taking the kid shopping. She might get more clothes that gave boys *ideas*.
Castle walked up to Xander the next day, staring at him. "Where did you get that screwed up idea?"
"That's where Willow sent me." He beamed. "I was very fun."
"You mean you...."
"Yup." He beamed.
"Was I there?"
"Not on the base and I didn't have the time to go book shopping to see. Sorry."
"No, that's good!" he assured him, sitting down at the table. "I like that thought better. Before my brain explodes. You made Alexis have her first character crush."
"Cool! Which one?"
"One of the lead former detectives."
"Andre, the nice playboy from the other federal agency, or Dante, the former one from up here?"
"Dante, and he sounded familiar." Xander looked at him. "You need to tweak those more, kid."
"I'm putting a disclaimer in the front that I do sometimes base physical characteristics on people but they are not really meant to be them."
"You still need to tweak them more. Eye color, hair color."
"In his case, I've used his blue eyed icy stare a few times."
"I noticed that. Lighten his hair. A lot. Make him a redhead."
"I might be able to do that. I'll probably give Donnie a list of characteristics for each so he can make sure. Does this mean I owe you a shopping trip too?"
"No, I'll let you take Alexis and my mother."
"Will she be giving me that scowling look again?"
"Probably not. She knows I think you're like a mentoree, kid." He leaned back, looking at him. "Change some height and dressing styles too. I recognized a few others from working over the last few years."
"Does that mean I should tone down the love interests?"
"No, I saw that file. Let the lead guy, Andre, have all the loud ones. He'd probably appreciate it." A man in a dark brown suit and a white shirt walked over. "Let me guess, Homeland?" he asked.
"Close. NSA. Mr. Harris, may I make a request?"
"Depends on what it is," he said calmly. "Because we all know I'm not that fond of some people's ideas."
"Nothing like that, sir. I was sent to ask you to please quit giving people headaches."
"Who did he give one to?" Castle asked.
"I haven't seen him in weeks," Xander said dryly. "How did I give him a headache this time?"
"We had someone checking on your newest story to make sure that it wasn't going to infringe on anything classified. By the way, I would change that director a bit more, sir."
"I've already been told that about the others," he sighed. "You hacked my computer to read the new book? Are you guys *really* that bored?"
"No, sir, not your computer."
Castle glared at him. "You have mine bugged?"
"You do have contacts that could become compromising."
"Not like I use them that way." He sipped his coffee. "Other than the descriptions, did you guys like the new book?"
"I found it quite amusing. How did you come by this idea, sir?" he asked Xander.
"Oh. When you were missing/supposedly at the vacation cabin?" Xander nodded. "That's fine then, sir. Just change those so they won't recognize themselves. Even with that warning in front. Thank you and we'll wait to read the rest when it comes out." He left.
"The nerve of them," Castle complained.
Xander patted him on the arm. "I probably know more highly classified people than you do."
"Probably," he admitted. He smirked at him. "I think that was a good review though. It was so good it gave a spook a headache from thinking we might have to do that?"
Xander beamed. "I could like that one. I'll change those later and make sure Donnie has a character list."
"That might be handy, kid. This is looking good." Xander beamed. "Maybe you'll even get those groupies this time."
"I do need to find a new one to date." He sipped his soda while his mentor laughed. "Do you think Paula's going to be happy with it?"
"I think so. I like it so far." He smirked at him. "Ask her for more help whenever you want, kid." He stood up. "She's a teenage girl, she likes to shop," he warned.
Xander smirked. "I know. I was surrounded by them for the longest time. That's why I don't shop." Castle walked off giggling at that. Xander finished his soda and went home to work on those problems then finish that story. Donnie would freak out. He hadn't gotten anything in months.
Xander looked in Paula's office. "You're going to hate me."
"Why am I going to hate you, Xander?" she asked, looking up from the book she was working on. "Did you quit writing again? Are you getting sued? Are you parents back?"
"No to all three of those. Donnie is cursing me."
"He said he's got another overloading author."
"So you have something new?"
"Yes. It even gave some agents headaches when they hacked Castle's home computer and read the first few chapters I had him looking at for government stuff."
"Why?" she asked.
"Remember what I told you in Vegas?"
"You got one done?"
"Three." He beamed and handed it over with a paper on top. "I got advised that I was too close to their real lives here. I had to change things so I made a list for easier catching of mistakes in things like hair and eye color."
She blinked at the thick books then at him. "Is that a case of paper?"
"Kinda almost?" he guessed. "But Donnie said he's really busy with a first time author who's needing more hand-holding than I did." He shrugged. "So you get the first look again."
"Thanks. I think." She flipped past the disclaimer and 'thanks' statement on the first page. "We start with an assassination?" She looked up and he nodded. "Quit biting your lip, you'll scar and evil girls will want to kiss it and make it better."
"I could use a new evil girl. Merry, are you single?" he called.
"No, Mr. Harris, I'm not single. Sorry. I have to kill my boyfriend tonight," she called. "After I bury him in the park I might take you up on it though."
"Cool. I need a new girlfriend." He beamed at his agent.
"Don't make me hire again," she muttered, shaking her head and getting back into the story. It was engrossing. "You know I don't usually fully read things, right?" she asked, looking up. Great, he was gone. "Did he do his impersonation of Batman again?" she called to her assistant.
"He said if this went really popular, you'd make him shop some more so he's hiding from you," Merry called. "He said that you fully reading it meant he'd have to shop again."
"Uh-huh." She went back to it, ignoring the other book she needed to finish proofreading. She finally had to put it aside, she had a meeting with her boss. She carried in the first one to go over again. She was falling behind. Her boss finally got done with his last one and came out to find her working. "Sir," she said, looking up at him with a smile.
"Is that one any good?"
"Mostly good. It could use some more editing for finesse." She stood up to follow him into the office. "She's already established with us but she was having relationship troubles when she wrote this one. The heroine keeps wanting to grab a bat to deal with her new ex."
"That's fine. What about the Harris account? We haven't gotten anything new from him?"
"He just dropped three off earlier, sir, and the first one was so engrossing I forgot I needed to do some finer point editing on this one." She put it aside. "We also have a few years worth from him already."
"Is it all publishable?"
"Yes, sir. His editor usually gets it before it's submitted so he can tell him if it's reasonable and saleable."
"Interesting. Does that cost him a lot?"
"He keeps one on contract. I got these new ones first because he's hand-holding a new writer according to Mr. Harris."
"Wonderful. Will the others be as highly rated as his were? I know fantasy authors hardly ever make the top ten."
"His hunting series' first one made it to twenty. He'd only had three books out before then and only two were from us. The others went to a small company. That was before we signed him."
"I looked over that. It was unusual for another agent to come to us but I can see why he did since all he had access to were smaller companies." He looked at her. "How good are the newest ones?"
"I don't read fantasy and I was eighty pages in before I realized I was reading it instead of proofreading it."
"Huh. So, if we give him time he'll be up there with Castle?"
"The hunting series, yes. The other series, again they're fantasy and not going to get that high up."
"I can agree with that. He does make us a profit."
"Sir, he makes us a tremendous profit and a few of the fantasy and science fiction authors have checked into us taking them when they need new contracts," she told him. "They like how he's treated and how we helped him when he was unsure of things."
"Good. That's very good. Business is slowing down as you know."
"I do know that, sir, and his books are suitable for e-books. We do release them at the same time."
"Good." He considered her. "Do you have too much work to do?"
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "Why do you think I do?"
"Harris is prolific and even with an editor you have to hand hold him."
"Not really, sir."
"You sent him to a personal shopper?"
"He wears *horrible* print shirts and he showed up to an interview with one on and jeans." He grimaced at that. "They were nicely clean, pressed, all that, but he went for comfort. I arranged for a personal shopper and his former girlfriend to bully him into Tommy Bahama and a good suit."
He smiled. "Still some ugly shirts."
"She didn't let him get those. Professional shorts, camp shirts, a few with prints but none of the loud ones. One good suit for things like award dinners. He paid for that. All we paid for was her airfare out of the slush fund for makeovers."
"Excellent." He considered it. "What if I brought in a new agent and moved two of your nineteen clients to them?"
"Would Harris move?"
"No. He likes me enough to nag about my blood pressure."
"I yelled at him for it and he got blocked."
"Very interesting. Going after another author?"
"No, sir, because he dates evil girls. Killers, psychos, that sort." He grimaced. "We don't know what draws them but the homicide department locally knows to check on who he's dating. They have the file from his dates in LA. Speaking of, I'm hoping my assistant was just joking when she said she'd go out with him after she killed and buried her present boyfriend."
"I'd hope so. It did save the company having you take six weeks to hire the last one though."
"Is that an issue? Mr. Harris has a new hunting series book coming out and I'm setting up appearances and promotion for him."
"No, it's not an issue more than usual," he assured her with a smile. "I have a trainee agent that's being moved up from the assistants."
"I have Hervette and Kinsey or Palompona that I can duet with him to make sure that there's not any problems before he takes them over."
"That's not a bad idea. Three is a good start until he can sign others of his own." She smiled at that. "Are they mass producing?"
"Kinsey is more historical mysteries. Hervette is political. Palompona is comedy and wants to be the next Dennis Miller."
"Okay, that sounds like they're good sellers?"
"Mostly middle of the road for their categories. They also do write in other genres under other names to make extra money. Mostly in romances. That would give him a good stack to start with and learn how to deal with the multi-group things that happen due to the dual names."
"Good. Does Harris?"
"Sir, he put out seven saleable books in the last year," she told him. "Please don't. He has to have someone to remind him to eat because he's one of those muse-driven writers."
"Ah, one of those," he sighed. "I have met others. It's tragic when they're stuck."
"He was angry when he got stuck last time. Fourteen trees chopped for firewood, two cabins fixed up, all with a broken rib, and then Tara got him to write the anger into a new hunting novel."
He smiled. "Is it any good?"
"Fairly dark in content but people are going to eat it up. It has under-themes of people being addicted to their skills and the ones addicted to the thrill of the hunt. It's like a very dark PSA in some ways but it's got a good story above it."
"He's submitted, it's in editing. I do not edit his myself due to our past relationship."
"That's responsible of you," he promised. "I'll set up a meeting between us and the new agent tomorrow?"
"I have a signing with Hervette tomorrow afternoon," she admitted.
"Then we'll do it in the morning. Say ten?" She checked her phone, shaking her head. "Meeting?"
"Publishing staff's schedule of output meeting all morning, sir. The next day is free until two, then I have meeting with the editors on the newest Castle book and two others." She looked at him.
"That'll work for me," he said after checking his own. "I'll get him up here. You bring up their backlog and their files." She smiled and nodded. "Let me know how good his is."
"I can get you the first one if you want, sir." He shrugged so she went to get it, letting him read the first few pages.
He looked up thirty minutes later then looked at the page count. "You're right, he can suck you in." He handed it back with a cleared throat. "Are his other ones that good?"
"The hunting series, the half elf one, and the this one. The others are normal, entertaining books."
"That's very good for us. Encourage him in those series."
"I have. The one outside contract he has is for a limited, already completed series. The other one I haven't seen a new one on but there's four left in it to go."
"Wonderful. How many did he give you of this one?"
"How long is he writing each day?"
"It depends on the day. Some days he has hundred page days, some days he sits and watches daytime tv with his roommate's cat."
"Is he sane?"
"Most of the time. Now and then he has too much sugar and scares the crap out of people."
He burst out laughing. "That's a good warning. Let me know when those start going out."
"I'm thinking this first one, maybe Christmas."
"That's a good time for book sales." He smiled. "You look tired. Take the rest of the afternoon off, Paula."
"Thank you, sir." She picked up both manuscripts and went back to her office. She'd take them home and read them on the couch instead of in the office. "Merry, I'm taking the afternoon off on orders. I'll be at home soon." She grabbed one last thing and left, putting the books into her carry bag. Maybe she'd treat herself to some wine at the same time. She deserved it to get through the dryer book. Xander's would be a treat later.