Demon Criminal Investigative Services:  Petting the Apocalypse.

"X, stay calm," Faith said, holding up a hand to stop him at the gate.  "Just stay really calm, okay?"

"Some of my worst nightmares start this way.  What happened this time?"

"Nothing too horrible but a bit shocking.  The Watchers are here and they have sense."

"That's good," he agreed, staying calm.  She had started off with a good thing, that was not good.  "And?"

"Wes said you're over the library for a bit.  He's taking a mental vacation one way or another."

"Uh-huh.  Figured he needed one sometime soon since his vacation meant coming back here.  And?" he pressed, nodding a bit.

"Um, the girls got a new pet?" she said hesitantly.

"Is it Godzilla?" he asked dryly.

"Not that bad of a pet.  It's shocking and really kinda horrifying in a few ways but Binky's very nice."


"Annabelle named it."

"She named George too."  He moved closer.  "What is Binky and is it going to eat me?"

"It might not like you.  It's a baby unicorn."  She stepped back at is odd look.  "Honest, it is."

He squeezed his eyes tightly shut then opened them again.  "A little unicorn named Binky?  I come back from a case and find out that there's unicorns named Binky.  Okay.  And?"

"It really likes Annabelle but Wesley said there's something wrong with it."

"Because it likes Annabelle?"

"He said she's a bit too warped for the innocence clause and she's been all over that baby unicorn.  It's cute," she said with a grin.

"They usually are."  He waved a hand. "Let me put up my bag.  We'll make sure Binky won't stab me."  She beamed and walked him that way.  "Does the boss know?"

"Nope.  He's off testifying before the budget people."

"Ah.  Good.  You can tell him too."  He beamed.  He went up to his apartment and dropped his bag while finding his keys.  "Hey, guys, is Binky an okay pet for the girls?"

"The thing's freaky," Sam called.  "It keeps trying to nuzzle me."  He leaned out his door.  "That's one twisted unicorn, Xander."

"Huh.  Why does it like Annabelle?"

"She's a bit twisted too."

"Good point."  He threw his bag into his apartment then reclosed the door and locked it, heading down to see Binky.  Faith led him to the courtyard where the girls were playing in the sun.  He stopped, he stared, then he giggled. "It's adorable but you've still got to clear it with Jackson because it's his base."

Annabelle pouted.  "But Binky would like him too.  It likes Sheppard."

"He's back?"

"Was back.  We got another bit of his program sent to us.  It wouldn't go back the normal way and Jack's in DC bugging Danny and the budget people himself."  Kim grinned at him. "Can't we keep it, Xander?"

"Ask Jackson.  Not my base."  He looked at it, it was walking over to him.  "I'm not pure enough to touch you, sweetheart.  Boy, girl?"

"Has no penis, gotta be a girl," Faith said.  Binky kicked dirt at her.  "He wanted to make sure.  Not my fault I had to look."

Xander looked at her.  "Isn't it obvious?"

"I thought so but the girls still made me look under her tail."

Xander shook his head, letting the unicorn sniff him.  "I'm the girl's trainer and protector.  You're safe here with us.  They'll coo and brush you to death but you're safe with us."  The unicorn nuzzled his stomach and let him pet her.  "Huh."  He did that then she trotted back to Annabelle.  "Are any of the other younger girls able to pet her, Annabelle?"


"Okay then."  He went to call Giles since Wesley was probably off on his mental vacation by now.  "Giles, me.  The girls here have a new pet."  He put him on speaker. "Yes, it's a strange one."

"Stranger than the walking shrub?" he asked dryly.

"We have a small unicorn named Binky who let me pet her.  She's loving on Annabelle right now."

"A unicorn?" he demanded.


"And she let you pet her?"

"Yup."  He sat down.  This was clearly going to be a long talk.

"How on earth?"

"I was on a case.  Faith stopped me at the gate to tell me there was strange news."

"Stranger than the unicorn?"

"No, she was it."

"Oh, good.  I'd hoped it wasn't much stranger."

"Is the innocence thing a myth, Giles?" he asked, heading back to the topic.

"No, not that I've heard of.  Though there are actually two types of unicorns.  There's one we watchers call a malicorn.  They tend to go for the bad and those tainted instead of those who're pure.  She could be one of those.  Is she white?"

"Light gray with dark gray hooves and a silver mane and tail.  About four feet tall."

"Then she's probably a malicorn.  I don't know about their official names or if they're in a separate category or not.  They're generally thought of as extinct and harmless."

"Then why can Anna and the other younger girls still pet her?"

"I don't know," he said, sounding confused.  "If so, then there might be a problem."

"It might be the taint of being a slayer, even if they haven't had to slay," John said as he walked past the door.  "I take it you met Binky, the wonder unicorn who keeps trying to horn Abby up the skirt?"

"Sam said she's nuzzling him.  I got a few nuzzles to my stomach then she went back to playing with the girls," Xander said.  "Would any of the books have her, Giles?"

"Yes, but I'm not sure if I had any copies of them in Sunnydale or if they might be in any of the things we've gotten off the probates."

"That reminds me, you've got some next week according to Wes," John mouthed from the doorway.

"Hold on, Giles.  John needs something."  He put him on hold.  "Why can't Wes go since he's holding the checkbook?"

"Because you handled all the other ones and everything went into your name," John said simply.

"Then can't Giles since he's the technical head of the Slayers Council?"

"No.  You have to turn it over from you to them since you started everything in your name.  Wes asked the lawyer who said you had to show up.  No matter what.  Also, get a suit while you're over there."

"Why?" he whined.

"Testifying in court. You have one coming up in Miami at the coroner's inquest for the people that spirit killed."

Xander sighed, shaking his head.  "When is that?"

"A few days after you're supposed to get back."


"Basically.  So buy a suit.  You can bring Giles to the probate hearings if you want.  It might help him."

Xander nodded.  "When am I being sent to do that and does Danny know?"

"Yeah, Dawn handed him the schedule and the court hearing.  He was amused and said better you than him."

"Charming." He took Giles off hold.  "John had to remind me that there's a probate hearing set for next week that I have to go to.  Wes checked with the lawyer, the way he started things means I have to be there even though I'm turning everything over.  We'll need to talk to him about that."

"I can call him today, Xander.  That way you don't have to go.  Or you can call in or whatever."

"If we can do it that way, I'd like that.  I have to testify at my first court hearing a few days after I'm due back.  That's a lot of hours flying."

"Good point.  Do we know which one?"

"Dawn, which probates are going on!" he shouted.

"Titmahns, Royale, and Vergess," she called back.

"Hear that?"

"Oh, yes.  I knew two of them.  No other family?"

"No idea," Xander admitted.  "I made a motion that if there was none that would come forward, the Council would like to claim their estates as they were our people, they do have books that are important in their possession, and possibly artifacts that could hurt others.  Since there's a whole bunch of them under the same issue, we have one judge that agreed to take them all in small groups.  We explained why when he demanded with the first one and showed him.  I took him to a demon club that night.  Let him talk to someone who was fairly harmless and he told him what the council had done and then I told him what the council was going to be doing different.  I told him about you guys in the coma, all that.  He put things going to me and then I could hand them over to the council.  Something about a new law and organizations not inheriting or something."  He grimaced.  "So the lawyer liked that idea, it was all good.  This is batch eighty or so.  He takes them five to ten at a time usually.  I think this is one of the last batches.  He took all the ones with wills first."

"I'll get with our lawyer tonight then.  He is a good and decent one.  Not like the financial manager you hired."

"Wes hired."

"All right then, that Wesley hired."

"He was an expedient choice, Giles.  We needed someone who could do it and his family were Watchers.  Plus he didn't want to take too much of a fee."

"I can understand why he was chosen then.  The new one is younger but more even tempered and less prone to making mathematical errors."  He yawned.  "What are you going to do about Binky?"

"Is there a way to send Binky home if Danny won't let her stay?"

"I don't know.  I'd have to have the research in front of me."

"Then I'll ask someone.  Anything else we should talk about?"

"Where is the last girl?"

"Cordette's with her adoptive family in LA.  Our local liaison FBI agent is her big brother."

"Ah!  That explains much.  Buffy wasn't sure of her address and I wanted to set up a meeting about her training."

"She's been taking martial arts and self defense classes that her brother found through the FBI, Giles.  We've been taping demonology lectures all along for future training and sending her copies.  Also, her brother hunts men who do bad things.  He can teach her how to hunt vamps the same way."

"It's a bit different."

"Not really.  Gathering information, the stalk, the hunt, the kill at the end is different but she's also got Morgan, Crissy, Connor, and Gunn helping her.  She said Angel gives her the creeps.  It took her a few weeks to get used to Connor."

"Hmm.  Then the gift's strong in her.  She's how old?"

"She'll be nine in a few months."

"Oh, that poor dear."

"Giles, a word of advice.  Whatever you're planning to try to uncall the girls, do a lot of research first please?  Remember, we do have potentials coming after them and I don't want a Willow backfire to call them too.  It's hard enough deciding what to tell the parents and when."

"You and Wesley were supposed to give me that plan of action."

"We've gotten it down to we'll start contacting them around eight or so.  That's early enough that they have a lot of time for training, even if they're called at fourteen or fifteen but not too early so they can still have happy home lives and learn what a good family is and feel that sort of support without being warped by us. Cordette's seven years older then the oldest one so if she gets to age out that'll call her at sixteen."

"It doesn't always go on age."

"Yes but they're all around the same age.  We can tell their parents around then, give them everything we know, help with the training without having to do more than assign her a watcher to help train her, maybe send to the trainers if the parents want her trained with us instead of doing it like Cordette is if they have the means.  Because one girl's daddy is a DI for the Air Force."

"A drill instructor?" he asked.


"Interesting.  So he'd be able to train her and we could train her for the specifics?"

"Like we're doing with Cor.  We can send the demonology lectures if she's trained at home.  If we get enough watchers for field work, we can keep to the big sister program.  They can train with him and a girl that's got a few years left.  That way she knows what she's getting into, she's got a big sister she can go to if she's got concerns, all that.  Plus it'll help the girls when they age out."

"How long before we know for sure?"

"The one girl in the journal lost hers a few days after her birthday.  I'm not sure why."

"Hmm.  The girls who're chosen won't manifest the calling until they're between two weeks and three months of age."

"So probably whenever she manifests."

"Do we have other sources?"

"A demon I talked to who was a spirit messenger.  He said the original spell called for a girl of no older than twenty-three.  They thought she'd be too old by then.  Younger was fine and if they had to, they were mercenary enough to handle it."

"Yes, they were back in the day," he admitted.  "I'd like some confirmation of that."

"If the building hadn't blown up...." Xander said dryly.

"I know.  That's not a bad plan.  I would still like to meet the future girls."

"I figured at that time we'd set up good relations with the family.  Point out how this happened, why it could happen to her.  All that.  Plus having a big sister around would equate having someone to help her and help calm her down.  Make her a bit more stable.  Even Faith said that if she had one that she wasn't being compared to, it might've helped her."

"That's a good plan then.  I'd like it in writing?"

"Wes said he's taking a mental vacation whether or not we like it."

"Ah.  Well, his last one was to come back there so I suppose it's all right.  I was going over your ideas.  What sort of command center?"

"Tracking problem areas, where the girls were, the information we had coming in.  Both a local and a global map could do that but have a few people there to track those things, find migration patterns, all that stuff.  One information officer to handle that with a few people doing the tracking."

"That's not a bad idea.  Do you have one there?"

"We have a few maps but we go case by case.  The other hunters have a network to send someone in their region out and if it's a slayer case they send it to John.  If it's a DCIS case they send it to John to pass on."

"That's fine then.   Willow did like the idea of a magic area, just one to do that."

"We'd like her to take up a more ritual form so she has to be prepared instead of casting on the fly for general things, Giles.  Because she changed Ananbelle's clothes the other day."

"She did?  You're sure it wasn't Dawn?"


"Hell," he muttered.  "I'll talk with her."

"That's the way Tara was trained.  The way the Devon coven trains.  The way the witches Dawn trains with were trained and train others now.  You start out with the ritual and then you move back.  Willow's never done the full ritual.  She's always improvised and look how many accidents we had."

"I know.  Have you had others?"

"Amber turned into a bunny rabbit but I couldn't prove which one it was.  Dawn had the flu and felt like crap so it could've been.  Her teachers think it wasn't.  They have a way of telling.  They weren't sure who it was."

"Oh dear," he sighed.  "I'll talk with her about that."

"It might also help her learn other forms."

"It could, yes.  That's a good reason."  You could hear a pen scratching.  "Anything else we need to know?"

"Not yet.  Should I worry about payroll forms for the guys or are you doing that?"

"Wesley was."

"Fine, I'll go pull him out of his vacation and ask if he did them then."

"Have fun with that.  Let me know how it goes with Binky."

"If they can't keep him or we can't send him back, I'm sending Binky to you," he said then he hung up.  He leaned back, rubbing his eyes.  "I have a headache."  He went to the library.  "Um, hi?" he asked the guy dusting in there.  "Which one are you?"

"Thomas."  He turned with a smile.  "You must be Xander."

"I am."  He shook his hand.  "Okay, three really good questions.  Half the books in here Giles and he'll want most of them back when he gets a new building put up.  Can we translate so DCIS still has a copy?"

"Of course!"  He smiled.  "I'm the former head librarian at the Carribean branch, boy."  Xander went limp with a smile.  "I have our collection in storage and at least a fifth of it already on CD.  In both the original language and the translated version."

"Thank you, Goddess.  Our director is a linguist.  Can he help?"

"If he wishes."

"Even better.  Second nosy question.  Payroll forms?"

"Wesley had us do that before he went to lie down with a migraine."

"Even better."  He beamed.  "Wesley left a message for me to handle things while he was laying down with it.  Thirdly, Binky?"

"Binky?  Like the pacifier?"  Xander pulled him over to a window and pointed.  "Is that a unicorn?"

"Yes.  Annabelle named him Binky.  He doesn't seem to care about innocence at all.  Giles said something about malicorns?  That it was a special watchery term?" he said at the confused look.

He rolled his eyes.  "I would've spanked Rupert if he had used such untechnical terms in my library.  There are two types of unicorns."

"Okay.  Will it hurt the girls?"

"No, of course not."

"If that one doesn't like innocence then why can the younger girls play with her?"

"Hmm.  I'd have to say the calling itself taints the soul a bit.  Therefore you have less than perfect innocence even if you are pure of ...spirit."

"Good to know.  Can we get it home if Jackson won't let them keep it?"

"That may be a problem.  The shield is not that penetrable."  Xander gave him a confused look.  "No one told you?"

"Told me what?"

"They should have covered that in your first year of training in Watchers Council History."

"I helped Buffy.  I'm here and DCIS under practical experience."

"Ah!  That makes more sense!"  He smiled.  "I tend to refer back to books for obscure concepts so have you ever read a series of books called the Phase Series?  By an older English chap in Florida who emigrated years ago?"

"Yeah, once or twice as a teenager."

"We did the same thing during the early eleven hundreds to protect the species that needed it from the vile people who wanted to destroy them all because their powers and their innate connection to the plane's powering and stability would kill us all if they died out."

Xander nodded once.  "Okay.  So like that barrier do we have gateways?"

"No.  We sealed it permanently shut and any serious breach could likely bring about the two merging again and creating chaos."  Xander pointed down at the unicorn.  "Now and then one does get through from their side.  I'll look into it."

"That'll work," Xander decided.  "Have you went through the probate stuff yet?"

"I have no idea where it is.  My fellows and I are looking forward to it."  Xander motioned and led him down to a huge storage area.   He gaped in awe at all the boxes.  "Are they all books?"

"No. Some are artifacts.  We should have a list but it's by each probate, so it's a crate list and not all are marked properly."  He pointed across the hall.  "The other stuff that got sent to Sunnydale.  The rest of the dangerous catacomb thing that the one female watcher used her last bits of blood to bring to us, which had the scythe, and the stuff we confiscated on our way out or Giles had.  That has a proper index.  We had the girls helping."  He got him that one.  "So, books upstairs somehow.  Artifacts over there.  Dangerous ones to the left side.  Let us know if anything needs special holding or magic.  Because Dawn's the only one we have right now."

He nodded.  "I can do that."

"Cool.  Will you need any sort of special system to translate?"

"I have one at home.  I can get mine shipped."

"Even better.  Your library down there?  Not to sound greedy."

"Rupert did have an odd taste in books."

"It probably came from hanging with Ethan when he was younger."

Thomas looked at him.  "No wonder he got fired."

"No, that was for giving too much of a damn.  Then Buffy told Travers to stick it.  We do hold to that theory.  The girls are to be normal girls."

"I've heard.  I agree.  Especially with so many."

He stepped closer.  "Giles and Willow are trying to find a way to uncall them.  While I don't mind, I'm a bit wary of what that would do to the girls and Willow having an oops."

"I can see what we have on it."

"Giles doesn't like the journal that has mention of a girl aging out."

"I have a copy of the original spell in our library down there.  As did the Asian branch."

"There was an Asian branch?"

"Yes, we had six or seven main offices," he said, sounding confused.

"When Wes and I had to assume command, we put it in as the Council, which was an entity that had people and things spread all around the globe but they were all employed by the main branch in England.  The lawyer's family was one and he said it worked that way.  He explained that to the judge."

"I'll call around some of the other historians and librarians to see if any of us are left, Xander."

"Thank you."  He gave him a hug.  "Field watchers optional but very nice as long as they're not assholes."

"Of course."  He patted him on the arm.  "You do too much."

"It started out as me and Wes.  With Gunter going to find the girls that got missed in the purge."

"Oh, dear."

"He died doing it."

"I'm sure he did.  Well, I think we can handle that."

"The Major, our self defense person?  He's actually a commando and put us in touch with a troop that could do that for us since a few were in war zones and most were in other countries.  They took one of the older girls with them.  Buffy would've went but she decided to be the Cleveland figurehead."

"As is proper for the senior girl.  I know Faith moves back and forth."

"The girls like her more.  They had a year without Buffy and decided they liked the more laid back approach she uses better."

"How did that coma happen?"

"No clue.  It happened with the explosion.  All we could ever find out was the watchers cast it and the watchers did the bomb to cut down the number of girls.  They tried to burn the younger ones in a basement.  With Dawn."

"Oh, dear."  He nodded.  "They were consolidating their power and wanted it to be one instead of many.  Probably fearing having so many could bring worse threats."

"Cleveland saw it the same way.  Too many girls is a temptation for bad things."

"I agree, it can be, but not this way.  They're spread out a bit and they're still learning here."

Xander smiled.  "Exactly."

"I do understand.  What of the future ones?"

"We're locating and keeping track of potentials now.  We're working out what to tell them, how to tell them, who goes to tell them, all that.  Plus what to do if they want to stay home and train instead of coming to us to train.  Like the youngest one is."

Thomas smiled.  "That's excellent.  Much easier on the finances too probably."

"Probably, at least on the food bill," Xander said dryly, cracking him up.  "Okay, you do..."  He waved a  hand.  "That.  You let me know."

"I shall.  It shouldn't take us too long.  I'll have Earl and Leslie call around.  They're both nice blokes and the others generally liked them.  I know news never reaches some of the farther branches.  Took us three years to hear Travers was in charge."

Xander smirked.  "Took you how long to hate him?"

"Lad, I was trained with him.  A year behind him.  I've hated him since my second day."

"Yeah, took us about that long when we met him too."  He walked off.  "Let me know please.  I've got to call someone about Binky."  He looked outside then at Sam, who was pouting.  "It's called a malicorn and it doesn't mind those who are a bit tainted from hunting or uninnocent."

"That's good to know.  How did it get here?"

"Did you ever read the Phase Series?"

"Um, one part.  Way back when."

"Thomas, the former librarian of the Carribean branch of the old Council, said they did that here in the eleven hundreds."

"Okay," Sam said, nodding a bit.  "That makes sense in a few ways with all the mythical creature myths and legends.  So how did she get here?"

"He said sometimes it happens."  He looked at them then at him.  "Did anyone tell Danny?"

"Nope, we were waiting on you," he said with a grin.

"Gee, thanks.  Really."  He went to take a picture and make sure it turned out then went to call Danny.  "Are you busy?"  He sent him the picture in his email.  "Can you log into your email really fast?  Because the girls want to know if they can keep the new pet Binky."  He smiled.  "Annabelle named it.  She named George too.  Her.  Binky is a her.  No, not a new shrub demon.  Log in, you'll be amused."  He waited, pulling the phone away from his ear at the yelling.  "Yes, she's what you think."  He listened to him rant.  "Thomas, the watcher that got found that used to be the head librarian for the Carribean branch of the old Council, said it happens sometimes.   Something about the Phase Series and the barrier that we put up during the eleven hundreds.  We're not sure we can send her back yet.  He's checking.  She doesn't mind anyone so far that I know of.

"She nuzzles Sam, likes to try to get under Abby's skirt.  She nuzzled me.  She loves on the girls.  We're looking that up too.  Yeah.  Loved Sheppard apparently when he had to pop down to get something."  He smirked.  "That's why I'm asking, Danny.  You're in charge.  I can ask Tony but this would be a long-term decision."  He nodded.  "She's soft.  Let me cuddle and pet her."  He grinned.  "Okay.  We'll see what happens.  Oh, I showed him the probate storage area.  He's doing an inventory and he has a good fifth of his books from down there already on DVD or whatever.  He said he can bring up his own system and get to work on ours."  He beamed at the happier sounds Danny was making while drinking some milk for his stomach.  "Let us know, boss.  If not, maybe I can send her to Angel or Buffy."  He hung up, glancing outside.  "Hey, Anna."

"Can we keep her?"

"Danny's deciding that.  If not, maybe we can send her home or to Buffy?  Buffy could use some happiness and a pet does bring that."

"I don't think she'd mind.  She likes Faith."

"Which is a good sign," he agreed, giving her a hug.  "We'll see what we can do.  Write Danny an email about her and what she likes to do. It might help him decide."  She went to do that while Xander went to the squad room.   "Did anyone even think about telling me about Binky?"

"Nope.  You or Danny," Speed said while he typed.  "Because we didn't want screamed at."

"Danny did some but he's calmer now."  He walked off, going to watch the girls with the new pet.  Why couldn't the girls want a normal pet, like a dog?


Danny squeezed his eyes shut, taking off his glasses to rub his eyes.

"Allergies?" Jack asked as he sat across from him.

"No.  New pet on base."

"Godzilla?" he asked.

"No, she's a lot more cuddly than that."

"Is it going to eat someone or everyone?"

"Not as far as anyone can tell."  He shoved his laptop over.  "Annabelle just sent a message begging to keep her.  Xander warned me earlier but it's still ...."  He waved a hand.

Jack got into the email and smiled.  "I like Annabelle.  She's a neat kid."  He read, frowning at it.  "It's a what?"

"Yeah, it's a what."

He kept reading, finding the attached pictures.  "It's cute."

"Xander said it likes to nuzzle Sam and tries to get under Abby's skirt."

Jack smirked.  "Sam's a nice guy most of the time.  Or so he seemed to me."  He went back to reading, laughing at one spot.  "She let it sleep in her bed last night?"

"Hmm," Danny said, nodding a bit.  He sipped his tea.   It was better for his stomach and his nerves had already been shot by his first Congressional testimony.  Jack burst out laughing.  "What?"  He showed him the picture.  "I didn't get that far down."  He stared at the pouty faces of the girls and the pouty unicorn face too.  "We'll see."  He closed the email program.  "So that's what's going on on my base.  Yours?"

"Lots and lots of stuff I can't say in the open," he said dryly.

Danny smiled.  "I remember that feeling."  He took another sip of his tea.  "When do we get released?"

"I thought you were done."

"Me too but they said I can't go home yet."

"You've got good people in charge."  He smirked.  "It was nice she liked Sheppard when he had to come get that thing."

"Maybe if I don't let them keep her, she can go live with him and McKay."

"McKay would kill you, Danny.  It'd be cute, nibbling, and possibly in is way now and then."

Danny smiled.  "Abby wants to recruit him if you ever get done with him."

"They can be us the next generation since I want Sheppard to follow me some year soon."

"He'll gut you, Jack."

"Maybe.  Oh well.  He's got the experience and the attitude."

"Yeah, he would."  He finished his tea.  "Want lunch?"

"Sure."  They ordered and Danny got more tea.  "Stomach upset?"


"Something else or just her?"

"Being here and her.  I had to refuse to answer personal questions about my staff.  Who was where and working on what.  I pointed out I was here so I wasn't sure which team was on base and which wasn't at the moment since I had been here all week.  Someone asked a more personal question about Danny Messer, Xander, and Sam.  I refused to answer that and told them if they wanted to know something about their personal lives to ask them.  Plus Sam wasn't on  my payroll, he was on the Slayers Council payroll."

"Another bad guy?"

Danny nodded.  "We know there's a few.  We'll see what happens."  He sipped his new tea when it was refilled, taking his plate with a smile.  "Thank you," he said quietly.  The waiter put down Jack's plate then left.  Jack's clearly had a note.  "Hmm, ancient messaging system."

Jack read it then handed it over.  He called someone.  "Just appear.  Neither of us do cloak and dagger crap anymore."  He hung up and dug into his lunch.  He was hungry.  He had spent all morning being grilled by two senators who wanted to pinch him.  Neither one his type of dirty old man.  Fornell walked in and sat down.  "You needed a meeting with both of us?"

"I figured you knew whatever was going on at DCIS anyway."  He looked at Danny.  "Yes, there's someone after you."

"Personally, like Kinsey?"

"No, not personally though he's going to be shot soon.  Personally like against your agency.  Even worse than Sheppard was."

"Last I heard, every other agency had said if they got merged with his they'd all quit," Jack said.

"They did and still do.  Doesn't mean there aren't higher ups who aren't nervous because they exist."

"We know a lot of people made deals," Danny assured him.  "Including the guy who just retired."

"Oh, he's one of them.  There's a behind the scenes push to make you guys disband and go away."

"Yet, we do a lot of good work, saved Miami and parts of Minnesota recently, and handle things no one else wants to deal with," Danny said.

"If no one wants to deal with it, no one catches them doing bad things," Jack countered.

"The old system was catching them but they died instead."

"Good point," Fornell agreed.  "Anyway, this is just a warning.  We know there's one on the committee but they all thought you were adorable."

"No, adorable is the new pet out there," Jack assured him.

Fornell snickered.  "I've seen pictures of George.  One of the girls sent one to Merps since he had grown."  Danny got into his email and pulled up the picture of the girls with the unicorn.  His gut twisted and clenched.  "Is that what I think it is?"  Danny nodded, eating another bite.

"Annabelle named her Binky," Jack told him.

"Crap.  Can I copy that?  Gibbs will be amused."  Danny let him copy down the picture and a few others.  "Thanks.  Be careful."

"I'm trying but I made it very clear if anyone tries to hurt me, I'm bringing Xander.  They're mostly still scared of him."  He grinned.

"I'm scared of him.  The kid's strange.  He's bouncy, violent, has skills we could use, acts like one of us, and never had the same training.  He scares every agent in DC and most of the ones in LA.  All but the ones you guys work with."

"He's a nice guy," Danny assured him.  "As long as you're not trying to hurt what he's protecting."

"I can understand that.  His bouncy nature is still creepy."  He got up and left.

Danny put his laptop aside and looked at Jack again.  "Anything new that way that I'll get given to translate?"

"Not in a few days.  Did you get the last stuff done?  McKay wanted to know what that larger work was."

"Smutty romance.  It was pretty well written.  Didn't get to the romance part until near the end.  Until then it was mystery."

Jack shook his head.  "Wonderful."

"One of the longer short pieces was smut so...."  Jack moaned so Danny laughed.  "It was."

"Wonderful!  You sent it to him?"

"I sent the fully translated version to McKay personally.  All of them.  He was amused by all means."

"Did you fix the conflict?"

"Yup.  Sam told them how to.  Charlie Epps came up with a translation algorithm.  That one works well.  Our BAU people borrowed it and him for a few minutes."

"I might have to look into that."

"He's Cordette's older brother."

"Cordette?  Your youngest girl called?"  Danny nodded.  "Then I can find him.  Has she met Binky yet?"

"No.  Alan would kill us.  He's still giving the cat odd looks now and then."

Jack snickered.  "Wonderful."

"Miss Kitty loves her.  And Charlie's sweaters."

Jack ate another bite, shaking his head before he said something.


Xander woke up to the insistent poking.  "It had better be good," he mumbled into his pillow.

"Binky got a playmate," Dean said.

Xander looked at him.  "Isn't that Anna's job?"

"No, I mean another like her playmate."


"Yeah.  Thomas said it might have something to do with balancing out her power here.  Dinky's a male.  He's all white too."

"No way in hell that name's staying," he mumbled.  He got up and pulled on sweats and a t-shirt since he had been naked, heading for where the girls were cooing in their nightgowns of choice.  "Dinky is not a good name," he said.  "No."

"But..." Annabelle started.

"It's a bad thing when you're an adult," Dean said.

"Fine," she said with a pout.  "I wanted them to rhyme.  The only other one I got was a Teletubby name."

"Sorry but no," Xander said.

"Fine."  She went back to petting this one.  Xander frowned.  "We don't know either," she said with a grin.  "But they both love most of us.  The older girls can't get near....  Anyone got a name for him?"

"Digger since we found him trying to dig under the fence with his horn?" one of the guards suggested.

Xander looked at him.  "Any idea where it came from?"

"Flash of light, no portal.  I had one of the guys take Dawn to look at it.  They're on their way back."

"Good.  Digger?" he said, looking at her.

"I guess.  Do you like Digger?" she asked him.  He nuzzled her cheek with his nose.  "Good."   The girls went back to cooing over him.  He was a bit bigger than Binky.  He was also mostly white with a silver mane and tail.  He had a few gray hairs on his left hip.  Digger sniffed at the men but stayed where he was.  "He doesn't like you because you're not innocent.  Or maybe it's because you're not a girl."

Xander sighed, walking off shaking his head.  "Digger has to get the same permission Binky did and you guys are telling Danny."

"We can write him an email," Faith agreed.

Xander checked Dean's watch.  "It's five on the east coast.  Call in a few hours.  Then send pictures."  He went back to bed, falling down onto it to go back to sleep.  It was really early in the midwest.  He deserved some sleep before the girls drove him nuts.

Dean looked at the girls.  "Bed."  They pouted.  "You can pet him tomorrow.  Bed!" he ordered with a point.

"You're being mean," Amber sniffed.

"The squealing woke me up.  Bed."  They huffed off to bed.  Digger even followed Binky, nudging her with his nose.  They stayed down  with George in the tv room.  Dean did a bed check then went to his own bed.  How his father slept through that....  Must have ear plugs in like Wes did.

Dawn walked in and smiled at the unicorns.  "It was very nice of you to seal the hole after yourself, precious."  She petted them both and George before heading up to her room.  She could use a nap.


John came down the stairs for breakfast, rubbing his eyes.  He stopped when he saw something in the tv room.  He backed up to get a better look.  He stared, mouth slightly open, wanting to ask a question but he was going to hope they didn't answer.  He walked off shaking his head, going to breakfast and coffee.  He sat down across from his younger son.  "There's two four-footed creatures in the tv room for a reason?"

"They showed up."


"Early this morning for Digger, the white one.  The other, Binky, showed up about six am yesterday.  Where have you been?  I thought you talked to Xander about Binky."

"Flu medicine."

"I forgot you were sick."  He handed over the coffee.  "We have no idea.  All we know is they showed up."

Dean walked Dawn in.  "How did they get here?"

"Small rip in the gateway and they closed it behind themselves," she said.  The girls all cheered.  "Doesn't mean we can't reopen it if we have to."  They pouted.  "I'm not the one who says if you can have them or not."  She sneezed.  Sam handed her some hot tea.  "Thanks, Sammy."  She sat down to sniffle her way through breakfast then went back to bed.

"We'll be getting flu shots," Chase said from their table.

"Another shot?" Annabelle whined.

"To keep you from getting that sick," John told her.

"Mean anyway."  She gave him a hug.  "Do you feel better?"

"Mostly.  Did we talk to Doctor Jackson yet?"

"We wrote him an email about both of them but we haven't heard yet."

"I'm sure we will soon."  He patted her on the head.  "Eat."  She dug in then ran over to help her friends outside into the sunshine again.

One of the guards stared at her.  "Go put on a jacket!"  She ran to do that then came back.  "You don't want to be sick, Anna."

"I wanted to play."

"So play.  Just keep your jacket and shoes on."  Xander came wandering past heading for breakfast.  "Morning, Xander."  He grunted and waved.  "You guys got him up when Digger showed up?"  She nodded.  "Poor guy."  He went back to his rounds, letting his boss know where the unicorns were.  Someone would probably want to hurt the little creatures to get their horns or something.  That made them a security risk.  Of course, if anyone tried, Annabelle was going to rip them into tiny pieces for touching her friends.

Xander plopped down in his usual seat, taking the cup of coffee that got pushed in front of him with a grunt and a nod, taking a sip.  "No third one, right?"

"No, no third one," Dean promised.

"Good!"  He smiled and got food, digging in.  A third one would be too strange even for slayers and DCIS.

Tony walked in looking happy.  "Morning, my people."

"Morning," Chase said, smiling some.  "Did you get awed by the cuteness that's Binky and Digger too?"

"Binky and Digger?" he asked.

"He's been off on a two-day drive," Sam called over.

"They're outside playing with Annabelle," Speed told him with a point.  "Probably in the slayer's courtyard."

Tony went to look.  He came back looking very confused.  "Why are there two ponies with stuck-on horns?"

"They're not," Danny Messer told him.  "They're unicorns."

Tony laughed.  "They're mythical."

"Apparently not as much as we thought," Chase said.   "The gray one is Binky.  The other is Digger?"  The girls all nodded.  "He showed up this morning.  She showed up yesterday."

"Miss two days and see what happens?" Don Flack teased.

Ryan looked down at him.  "Even I'm freaked out by the cuteness, guys."

Tony shuddered.  "I'll think about that after coffee."  He sat down to have some and some food to coat his stomach so the caffeine wouldn't eat through it.

Annabelle ran in to the cook's window.  "Do we have anything Binky and Digger could eat?" she asked him.

"Salad stuff but they can get that by nibbling the grass."

"They said the grass has funny stuff.  They won't eat it."

Xander lifted his head to look at her.  "Are you actually talking to them?  Like they're answering?"

"Well, no, but they won't eat it and they give it disgusted looks so I'm guessing they said the grass tastes and smells funny from the stuff they put on the lawn last week."

"Take them out the back forty of the base," John told her.  "Back where we don't mow real often."  She beamed and took the box of needs-cooked oatmeal the cook handed her on the way out.   He looked at Xander.  "She's going to scream if she can't keep them."

"I've already asked Danny for permission."

"If you want mine, you've got it," Messer joked.

"The other one."  Xander looked back at him.  "Unless you want to sit in the big office?"

"Hell no!"

"Then no, only he can say if the girls get to keep Binky and Digger."

Don shook his head.  "It'll be okay.  If not, maybe they can go to Cleveland?"

"That's what I was thinking.  Alan would gut us if we sent them to Cordette to play with Miss Kitty."  Dawn choked.  "You okay?" he asked.

"No."  She took her breakfast off with her so she could go back to bed.  She clearly needed a nap.

House walked in happy and smug this morning.  "Ah, we had a good day off base yesterday.  Were you all miserable while I was off having fun?"

"No, mostly we were watching the girls with the new pets," Chase told him.

"Bunny rabbits?  They'd like to hide in George."

"No, unicorns."

House scowled at him, checking his forehead for a fever with his wrist.  "You don't look sick.  Dizzy, faint?  Flu symptoms?  Feel like your brain's bleeding?"

Tony got up and walked him out to show him.  Annabelle was walking them around the building.  "The gray one is Binky.  The other's Digger.  Or so I was told."  House let out a small whimpering sound that sounded slightly like 'aww' and then a shudder.

"Xander had to put his foot down about the name Dinky," Dean said as he joined them.  "C'mon, Anna, we'll go find them some good grazing area."  He walked her off, taking her to help them.  Though they were eating the oatmeal out of her hand.

Tony patted House on the back.  "See what you miss by being gone for a day?"

House took pictures with his phone and emailed them to Wilson.  "He'll never believe this."  He walked back inside to get some breakfast.  "We made sure they don't have fleas or other things we'll have to treat?" he asked his student.

"We did.  We also drew some blood from Binky to make sure she was healthy.  Abby did anyway.  She's perfectly healthy as far as we can tell.  Young, a bit bouncy, likes to play with all the girls.  Digger probably will too."

"He won't let the older girls with boyfriends or any of the adults touch him," Faith called over.  "He's a traditional unicorn.  Unlike Binky, who's a bit freaky since she likes to nuzzle me."

"And me," Sam agreed, finishing his coffee.  "It's Sunday, go do chores when you're done, girls."  They finished up and went to do that then went to find the unicorns to play with.  Sam patted Xander on the arm.  "It's all right.  We'll deal with it and them."

Xander looked at him.  "Unicorns and horses take a lot more work than shrub pets."

"They do.  Has anyone told Wes yet?"

"I had to tell Danny.  John can tell Wes."

"Sure," John sighed, shaking his head.  "It's a good way to teach them responsibility.  We'll have to remind the girls they can't say anything to the school kids."  He finished up and went to check out the creatures at a closer distance.  Binky came trotting over to love on him so he petted her.  "You're adorable."  He checked, Dean wasn't puking at the cuteness so it was all right so far.  He smiled down at her.  "Go graze, sweetie."  She went back to it.  "You still have to get permission from Wes and Danny."

"Shoot."  She pouted.  "Do you think Wes will mind?"

"I don't know.  I'm going to tell him soon."

"Oooh, on the tv room computer is pictures for him.  We sent them to Danny."

"Sure.  Be safe out here.  Dean, watch for snakes?"

"It's too chilly for most of them to be in the open."  He made shooing motions so John walked off.  "We'll handle it, Anna."  She gave him a hug then went back to playing with her friends.

John tapped on Wesley's door, getting a tired looking man.  "There's new pets you have to help approve of."

"More shrubs?"

"No."  He walked down to the tv room, turning on the computer and finding the pictures.  He pulled up the folder in a viewer and let him have the chair. "Binky and Digger."

Wesley looked, then frowned at him.  "Excuse me?"

"That's Digger.  He showed up this morning from what I heard.  Binky showed up yesterday sometime apparently.  I had the flu and was in bed or sleepwalking apparently."

Wesley paged through the pictures, frowning greatly.  "Where are they now?"

"Anna's helping them graze.  We're waiting on Doctor Jackson's final decision."

"Ah."  He rubbed his head.  "If they're staying we'll have to make accommodations for them."   He stood up and went back to his room to finish having his migraine.  "Thank you, John."

"Welcome."  He smiled.  That was fairly easy.  It was a good sign.


Danny woke up to a poke, glaring at Jack.  "I will zat you," he snarled.

Jack handed him coffee.  "The girls carbon copied their last email to you into my email.  You'll want that.  There's a second cup waiting."

"Did Binky decide to eat someone after all?"


Danny sat up with a moan, drinking his coffee.  It had been a short night and he had gotten a bit drunk so he was not a happy camper this morning.  Jack poured the second cup into his mug when he got finished.  Danny drank it more slowly then Jack handed him the laptop when it was done, taking the cup with him when he fled the hotel room.  Danny opened his email, finding a bunch of 'they're cute' messages from his guys.  "It's good Binky has your support," he muttered.  He opened up the new one from the girls that was titled 'guess what'.  That was a scary thought.  That phrase usually started off a bad case Xander had to use weapons on.  He read it slowly.  Then he quit squinting and put on his glasses, sure he hadn't seen that.  He reread it, then he burst out laughing until he saw the pictures.   He called Xander.  "If one more pet shows up on base, the answer is going to automatically be no.  We'll see when I get home.  Why two?"  He told him why Thomas thought.  "Uh-huh.  Okay.  We'll see when I get home."  He hung up and put his laptop aside, taking off his glasses and going back to bed.  His hangover was too bad for this discussion.

Why couldn't the slayers want a normal pet?  Like a dog?  Or even a ferret?


Xander saw Danny's car pull back in a few days later and he pointed toward the back lot.  "They're grazing."

"Why two?"

"Thomas said it was probably to balance out the power the one brought.  We know Digger is a traditional unicorn.  Won't let anyone but virgins near him.  Binky loves everyone, especially Abby's skirts."

"Is she complaining?"

"Not often."  He smiled.  "She got grumpy once and Binky nuzzled.  She cooed instead."

"Wonderful. Anything else I should know?"

"I asked Dawn.  The guard had her check the area they came from.  They sealed the hole behind them."

"So no more unicorns?"

"No, but she wasn't going to rule out that being a thin spot."


"Because...  As Thomas told me, did you ever read the Phase series?"

"I looked up the first book in it when you mentioned it the first time.  And?" he asked calmly.

"Apparently the watchers and others did that during the eleven hundreds.  They came from over there.  They did it because we'd all die if they all died.  Something to do with them holding the power steady or something.  Didn't get that part.  Was confused.  Didn't ask Abby either but I will if you want."

"I'll let him tell me.  So they removed them all to keep them safe because keeping them safe and healthy means we won't die?" he suggested.  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Why the migration?"

"Don't know.  Have no clue, no way of finding out, no idea.  Dawn thought about trying to scry but the wall's still too thick.  If I had to guess, I'd say they were a bit on the high population side or those two got curious.  He said every now and then one pops across."

"Are they dangerous to us?"

"Only if hunters find them.  We're probably the safest place for them."

"Okay.  Can we send them back?"

"Not without opening the wall and that comes with a risk of it falling completely.  Then we'll have dragons in New York and other neat manifestations.  We haven't tried to find that spell yet, just in case.  Because wild hair up the ass syndrome is still floating around."

Danny shuddered.  "That's a very bad picture."  Xander nodded.  "Okay.  Now what?"

"Now, Wes said he'd talk to you about how to manage them staying.  He said something about needing a barn and getting permission for where to build it."

"Yes, horses need barns."

"How would I know, Danny?  This is the first time I've gotten anywhere near an equine that wasn't in a book."

"I can see that.  Anything else?"

"New watchers are all research watchers.  We have five, one's the former head librarian in the Carribean office.  The others are calling around.  Wes has already done ISC paperwork with them.  We've got to figure out where they're living and if they're living on base or not."

"Which would go along with the other issue of what happens if there's more trainee watchers coming," he decided.  "We can figure that out later.  Let me park."

"I figured you'd want briefed so you could think before you talked to us."

"I did.  Thanks, Xander. And for the emails."

"I let the girls do their own begging since they made me tell you."  He walked off.  "No new cases as of ten minutes ago, boss.  One team out for court, one on a case."

"Thanks."  Danny brought his stuff up to his apartment, staring at the back lot of the  base.  He could barely see the unicorns but they were frolicking and it looked like House was watching them.  He headed out that way, finding the guards watching them and House, looking amused at the grumpy doctor's presence.  "Need hairs to test?"

"Abby gathered some from Binky.  I'm glad Xander put his foot down so they don't rhyme."  He looked at him.  "Long week?"

"I hate DC."  Binky came trotting over to sniff him.  "I know I smell strange.  It's from the last job," he said when she stopped a few feet away.  He squatted down, holding out a hand.  "I'm not mean, Binky."  She cautiously stepped closer to sniff then ran off.  Digger came back with her and they both sniffed, then she got a nudge from Digger so she let him pet her.  He smiled.  "I know.  The last job made me smell funny.  It's all right."  He scratched behind an ear, making her tip her head.  "You're very smart."  He smiled and she trotted off.  He stood up.  "So."

"They're nice enough pets, but aren't they dangerous to have?"

"Xander said only if hunters heard and came for them."

"Sending them back?"

"Could bring down the shield around their herd lands.  Which would mean dragons in New York and probably whole herds near here.  No telling what would be around your hospital."

House moaned.  "I can see Cuddy's face if a dragon appeared inside the hospital.  The screaming would know no end and somehow she'd blame it on me."

Danny nodded.  "Those things, I blame on Xander."  House snickered.  "I can, he said so."  Digger sniffed at him then went back to nibbling on the grass.  "Are they healthy?"

"I'm not a vet."

"I figure Abby looked it up."

"As far as she can tell they are."  He looked at the boss.  "Can I bring someone out to visit?"

"Sure.  They can have your couch."

"That'll work."  He walked off, picking his way carefully so he didn't trip.  "Have fun."

"Ooh, probably not."  He went up to his office, finding the stack of forms Tony had left with a note saying he had signed off on them.  There was a small stack of forms in the middle of his desk that had a note on top saying 'read and sign please' and one to the right of his desk blotter that said 'information you need to hear about sometime'.  He started with the read and sign papers to get them out of the way.  Leave forms.  That was easy enough as long as they didn't leave them short.  Speed and Ryan going to Miami for two weeks.  Danny and Don going back to New York for two weeks.  Both around their contract times and all of them had post-its on them that said their departments were setting up a local office to handle it in-city if necessary.  They were going back to help with that.  He called Ryan.

"If you're going back to deal with that, you could probably count that as working, Ryan."  He leaned back to listen to him.  "I can see how that happens and it's a good idea," he agreed.  "Sure, if you want to come back I'm all for it.  You guys all do good work and I know your friends are putting pressure on you to go home again.  Not a  problem.  Should I hear anything from you guys about a case?"  He found the information pile's part from him.  "Got it.  Thanks."  He hung up and signed off on all those and the other leave form, for Chase.   He called down there.  "Heading home for good or just a visit?"  He nodded.  "You forgot an end date."  He smiled at the 'if they drive me nuts I'll be back sooner' answer.

 "You could invite them out.  We wouldn't mind."  He laughed.  "They can have your couch or stay in town.  There's a small motel.  Sure, let me know or I'll sign this today."  He hung up and put it aside, going to the information pile.  That had things he had to know.  Which case the one team was on and why.  Information on the newest Watchers.  That Xander did not have to show up physically for the probate, he could call in.  The judge had agreed since his frequent flier miles were so high already plus he had to testify a few days later in Miami.  He went over the report forwarded by Abby from McKay, smiling at it.  "It's good someone up there liked the romance."  He kept reading, finding a slayer dream included that had a shadowy threat, no clear identification, but it was about him.  So he put that aside to go over later with the girl in question.

Wesley leaned in.  "Ready for me?"

"I just got done with the information sheets on the new watchers.  Congratulations."

"Thank you.  They're wonderful and most have sense.  I sent the one that didn't to Rupert to help him."  He sat down.  Xander strolled in a minute later with coffee for him and Danny and tea for him.  "Thank you, Xander."

"Welcome."  He sat down.  "Hi, boss."

"Hi, Xander.  The new watchers are doing good?"

"They're doing excellent.  They've already gone through all the probate storage area to sort out the books.  The Carribean library is coming up.  He's got a fifth of that already on DVD or whatever."

"What format?"

Xander shrugged.  "I didn't ask.  I have no idea about that stuff.  I figured you or Wes would talk to them about translating it if it wasn't a good one for us or make us copies if it was."

"We can," Danny agreed.  "Will he need equipment?"

"He's bringing his up."

"Even better.  How many books did they find in the probate stuff?"

"Over seven thousand," Wesley said happily.  "I've been digging now and then but I hadn't the time to do it for real.  They've sorted it all out and will continue to when the new things come in after this round."

"Which I don't have to fly out for," Xander said happily.

"You still need a suit to testify," Danny warned.


Danny smiled.  "Get one that's comfy."  He sipped his coffee.  "So they won't need much from DCIS itself?"

"No, though the question has been raised about housing."

"As it should be.  You guys are trying to hire watchers to train as well.  We're going to be taking one of the old buildings that wasn't reformatted and turn it into more apartments for the new team coming in.  Would it insult them to have to live in their own building?  We can let you build your own back in the empty spaces."

"That wouldn't bother us at all," Wesley agreed. "Then when we're all in Cleveland, we can sell it back to the base?"

"Sure," Danny agreed. "By then we might need more."  That got a nod from both of them.  "Secondly, if the unicorns are staying, we'll have to put up a proper shelter for them plus look into food sources."  He took another drink.  "If the girls are keeping them."

"It shouldn't be that hard to put up a small shelter," Xander told him.  "I can probably do that over a weekend.  We won't need many stalls, right?"  They shook their heads.  "Then a big, open building with hay or whatever should do and it can do if we have visiting demons who use that sort of housing?  Like for a treaty?"

"That would be fine, Xander," Danny said.  "The girls really want to keep them?"

"They've been sleeping on the girls' bed and George is attached.  I told them you had the final decision because it's your base."

"Gee thanks."

"Sorry, but you're in command here," Xander pointed out.  "I did say if we couldn't keep them then they might go to Cleveland."

"Rupert would kill you," Wesley assured him.  "The girls would never get anything done from all the cooing over them."

"I almost threatened to send them to Angel and Connor but I figured Connor would come hurt me."

"Most likely Angel himself would, Xander.  He doesn't really deal very well with fluffy, gentle things," Wesley said dryly.  He looked at Danny.  "We'll see what we can work out in our budget."

"Xander, didn't you win...."

Xander shook his head quickly.  "All stored away already, boss.  Really.  I took it all to a guy there and paid the taxes on it, all that.  I can't touch it a whole lot."

"That's probably the best idea to save you aggravation," Danny agreed.  He finished his cup of coffee.  "Anything else I should know?"  They shook their heads.  "Then pick out a spot and get me building plans, guys."  They nodded, heading out to figure out where to put everyone with their input.  Plus where to put the barn.  Danny wrote an email to Jack, going to take film of the two playing in the grass so he could send it on.


Jack looked up at the video conference system came on.  "Sheppard."

"General.  How's Binky?" he asked with a grin.

"Binky and Digger are both fine.  Danny just sent me film of them."  He forwarded the file over.  "When he first heard he muttered about sending them to you."

"Fat chance," Sheppard said dryly.  "We have enough food issues without pets."

Jack smirked.  "They're very protective pets."

"So is George.  He'd eat less too."

"Good point."  He shook his head.  "What happened?"

"You want the short, non-detailed version or the long?"

"I should groan like Hammond did the last time I asked that question.  Short and to the point please?"

"We were attacked.  We're all fine.  Minor injuries.  Tiff's got some battle trauma.  Her four months for the first stretch are coming up.  We were going to send her back with McKay, who is coming back in three weeks.  Do you want me to accompany him or not?"

"Whatever you feel like.  You could rotate others out too if you needed to."

"I've got a few who're coming home on the next ship.  Not from injuries but because they're burnt out.  We gave them three weeks."  Jack nodded.  "Thank you."

"People need breaks," he told him.  "Especially from a dangerous, combat ready, position."  He held up the email for supplies.  "Unacceptable."


"Won't fit on the ship."

"Why not?"

"Because you're getting some new testing equipment."

"Oh.  Well, we need the food shipment sooner instead of later.  The testing equipment can come back with the people who'll probably be using it."

"True.  I'll do what I can.  What about the girl?"

"Her contract ends in another two weeks.  So if she doesn't come back, we'll talk with her."  That got a nod.  "She has said she wouldn't say anything.  She thinks we're all weird and has some sort of strange crush on McKay."  Jack burst out laughing.  "It's hero worship, I know that, but she tries harder to be impressive for him.  It's nice.  He hasn't had anyone flirt with him in years."  He smirked before signing off.  He walked down to the labs.  "Do you want me to come help or not?"

"Not," he said, giving him a look.  "The girls will only coo over you."

"True.  We got offered a pet."

"Dear lord not George," he said.  Tiff scowled at him.  "It's an odd little shrub."

"No, not George.  They got a few other pets.  I saw one when I had to retrieve our weapon."

"I have no idea how that happened."

"Them either."  He gave him an odd look.  "Tiff, you packed?"  She nodded.  "Good.  We leave at 0700, local time."  They both nodded and he got back to instructing her in how to prepare samples for him.   Sheppard walked off shaking his head.  Between Teyla and McKay, she was turning back into a pretty decent young woman.  Xander and Wesley would definitely see some positive changes.


Xander walked into the girls' dorm on Sunday morning.  "If we're keeping Digger and Binky, you're helping me build them a shelter," he yelled.  "Otherwise they're going to Cleveland or to live with Tiff!"  Girls came piling down the stairs to help him build them a barn.  John too because Brenda pulled him.  He smirked.  "Good, another instructor in how to hammer in a nail straight.  Get the boys?"  He paged them and they got to work on the shelter's materials.  He showed them what to do and they got down to building walls for him.  He had been preparing the ground and fences were ready to be put up too.  Pretty soon they had the walls ready to lift.  Fortunately the girls were super strong and he could nail while they held them.  John and Dean took other walls to do the same thing.  Then they connected the walls.  He showed them the next step and they got to work on it.  With all of them working it'd only be a day to get them a real barn.  He went up to do the dangerous part, putting on the roof.  Fortunately they made pre-cut arches for roofs.  He nailed them into place, accepting the wood up to cover the bare bones.  Then Sam came up to help him with Dawn.  "I'm so glad I taught you how to fix things, Dawnster."

She smirked.  "It was self defense.  Buffy breaks things."

"Yes she does.  Especially in a house crammed full of slayers."  He shuddered and got to work on his plywood.  It was nearly lunch by the time they got that done.  "Let's break for lunch," he called.  The girls ran off.  He shook his head, climbing down and steadying the ladder for the other two.  "It's not too bad so far.  We'll have to reinforce the walls from the inside in case of a bad wind storm but it should hold."  They nodded and went to lunch with him.  A few girls were complaining about smashed fingers and thumbs, or sore shoulders, but oh well.  They wanted the unicorns, they could upkeep them.  After lunch, John shooed everyone back to work.  They got the roof covered and shingled.  The sides were covered in tongue-and-groove clapboard looking siding.  Easily installed for the girls.  The inside was braced in a few good ways and the roof got a few beams nailed into the wooden subfloor.  Then the rest of the floor got mixed.  Concrete was more practical.  It was poured in a thin layer, only an inch thick, and everything was allowed to dry while they finished the outside.  They could finish that in the morning.

"Xander, we don't really have sword work practice, do we?" Annabelle asked.

"Hell yes," John told her.  "No slacking.  You don't know when it'll come in handy."

"Yes, John."  She gave him a hug then her friends, who had been watching while grazing.  "That's going to be the place where you guys can sleep inside."  She petted them and went to dinner.  Then sword practice and bed.  They were all exhausted tonight.


Danny came out to okay the barn, smiling at the nice shelter.  It wasn't that high but the unicorns were tiny.  There were a few stall-like areas but the majority of the floor had clean hay.  It also had drains and stacks of hay around the walls for extra insulation.  "This is nice."  Xander beamed.  "You guys did a great job.  The fences?"

"Stick in and put together."

"Good."  He patted him on the back.  "Nice job, Xander."  He beamed.  "Now all we need to do is to make them use it."

"They just left to graze."  He shrugged.  "But we do have to set a rotation of cleaning."  Danny smirked and nodded.  "What's wrong?"

"Some funny meter readings in the lab are driving Abby nuts.  I was trying to calm her down again.  You know, when I first heard that the girls got pets, I had the picture of George walking a dog on a leash."  Xander cackled, shaking his head.  "I did."  He patted him again.  "Good job.  Now, we've got of fill in for Ryan, Speed, Danny, and Don while they're off for the next few weeks."

"My team is clear."

"Good.  Excellent.  Tony's is in the field.  They're headed to DC for the trial.  That one that summoned something to eat military personnel and a stockbroker.  The rest will sub in."  Xander nodded.  "Your team may have a research case unless we get something truly horrible in."

"Sure, that's what we expect."  He opened the door.  "Guys, like it?"  They both neighed at him and came in to play with the hay. After nosing it around they settled in for a nap.  "Think oats would be okay?"

"I think it's the usual horse food.  I'm not sure if unicorns need something else.  If they don't like it, they'll tell us."

"Okay."  He left, leaving the door open.  The fence was quickly put in and the barriers between the posts stuck into place.  It wasn't meant to be a strong fence, more decorative so no one would put things in their paddock.  Then he went to ask John and Wesley what horses ate.  He had no idea.  He had never been near horses in the past.


Rodney McKay stepped off the transport at the DCIS base with Tiff helping him carry samples.  He frowned at the new building he could see behind the main one.  "Is that a small barn?"

"Yup.  Looks like it."  Tiff shrugged.  "Who knows.  Maybe it's a new training area."  They walked up to the lab, where Abby babbled too fast for even McKay to catch it.  She rubbed her ears.  "Who're Digger and Binky?"

"The new pets."

"Sheppard said he had seen Binky," McKay said.  She took their hands and drug them out there to introduce them.  He stared as they got closer.  Then he nearly whimpered in fear.  "This cannot be a good thing."

"It's a fine thing!  Binky can be petted by anyone she likes and Digger is a traditional unicorn but it's okay."

Tiff stared, then shook her head quickly.  "Superglue?" she asked Rodney.

He stared.  "No, they move too much."

She frowned, watching them.  Binky, the gray one, ran over to sniff them, nearly knocking the poor astrophysicist over.  "Hey!  Don't knock him down.  He's fragile."  Binky stared at her then moved closer.  "Please don't stab me?  I don't want to visit Doctor House ever again."  Binky nuzzled and she nearly burst out crying in fear.

"Binky, she's not used to soft, squishy feelings," Abby said.  The unicorn went to play with the other new pet.  "Shh, it's all right."  She called Buffy.  "Hey, it's Abby.  Tiff's back for a short vacation and I heard she might want to talk to you too."

"Buffy, Binky tried to eat me!" she complained.

"Sure, you can call Dawn but she's in class."  She hung up, giving her a hug.  "She did not."

"She did so.  She was checking me for tenderness.  Like she is him."  She helped him up, putting him behind her.  "Please don't eat us?"  A portal opened beside where she was.  "Buffy, make it stop!"

Buffy looked then 'awww'd.  That brought the others.

"Dear me, are those both unicorns?" Giles asked.

"Yup, but Binky will let anyone she likes pet her," Abby said happily.  "Digger is a traditional one."  Buffy let the little unicorn pet her.  "Awww, she likes you."

Faith came over to look.  "Ladies, let's not crowd the girls' pets?" she called.  They went to pet the other one, those who could, and the rest got Binky.

McKay backed away slowly.  Tiff helped by guarding him.  "Let's go back to the lab before my brain quits working for a bit, shall we?"  They fled.  She understood him perfectly.  Squishy feelings had no place in science; that was such a dreadful sight he'd have to shut down soon to reboot his brain so the virus the squishy feelings started would be eliminated.

Abby shook her head, following more sedately.  "I'll come play later, guys."  They both bleeted at her and went back to playing with their new pets.  All the girls loved them.

"Cordette is going to freak when she meets them," Buffy said.

"That's why she's in LA," Faith reminded her.  "Nice barn though.  We did a great job."  Giles gave her an odd look.  "They had been sleeping in the dorm.  Annabelle insisted."

"I see."  He rubbed his forehead.  "Perhaps I'll go have a lie down," he decided, going to his room to do that.  Before the headache turned into a migraine.

The portal closed and they were all left there until Dawn got off school.  They didn't mind.  The babies were so cute!  "You should have told us," Buffy complained.

"Sorry, had to get official permission.  Anna pouted for days waiting on Jackson's decision."  She gave Binky a pet and went to make sure Tiff was all right.

"The girls with the pets?" Benny Ray asked when they met in the halls.

"All the ones from Cleveland are cooing and petting them."  He snickered.  "It's nice we all go gushy over them."  She went to send the email they had sent to Danny to Cordette's big brother once she had edited the message.  He'd appreciate her not getting it directly.


Connor looked over as Charlie rolled back to check his email.  They were going over why there was an upswing in activity recently.  He was confused by all the math but his girlfriend seemed to like it.  He saw the horrified look.  "Big problems?" he asked hopefully.  It'd give him something to pound on or kill.  Much better than math giving him a headache.

"No," he said.  "The slayers in North Dakota got a few new pets."  The girls came to look over his shoulder.

"Awww!" Crissy cooed. "They're adorable."

"They're mythical and can't exist," Charlie told her.

"Anna said something about the horn being scratchy," she said dryly.  "I didn't understand."  She called Wesley.  "You didn't tell us about the new pets.  Are they soft?"  He told her to call Buffy's phone, she was playing with them.  She called Dawn instead and got sent there to play with them too.

Connor gave them an odd look but sighed, shaking his head.  "I'm not going near that."  One came over to sniff him and he nearly ran back to the office, the portal closing after him.  "It wanted to cuddle."

Charlie nodded once then he forwarded the message to his father.  He'd consider that a warning that Cordette would want a new pet too.  Miss Kitty was enough of one.


Somewhere else in LA, Alan Epps opened his email and frowned at the message.  "New pets?" he muttered.  "Why?"  He scanned down to the pictures, then paused and looked at one.  Even enlarged it.  "Huh?"  He looked around.  "Megan, can I have Don for a minute?  It's a message Charlie forwarded."

"Sure," she agreed, leaving him alone for a minute.

His son came over a minute later.  "Your eyes are sharper than mine.  Is that what I think it is?"

"I'm hoping that's a statue."

"No."  He paged up so he could read the message.

Don looked at it then at his father.  "One tried to attack Connor?"

"It probably tried to sniff him and he got scared.  The kid doesn't understand most normal things, still."  He pointed.  "Cordette's not allowed in North Dakota for a while."

"Agreed," he said.  "Unless you want to build a barn?"

"Don't even think about it, Don."  Megan came over to look then giggled.  "The other slayers' new pets.  Binky and Digger."

She burst out giggling.  "Only slayers could have unicorns as pets."  She walked off shaking her head.  She had heard about George.  He seemed like a nice pet.  These probably were too.

Don looked at her back.  "You need a vacation."

"Yay me," she shot back, waving back at him.

Don looked at his father.  "I've got your back about keeping her from them, Dad."  He walked off shaking his head. Colby gave him a questioning look.  "The rest of the slayers have new pets.  Binky and Digger.  Corette's going to want one or five of her own."

"Wonderful."  He patted him on the back.  "Stand strong in the face of the pout, man.  It's all you can do."  They got back to looking at the map for problem areas.  They'd had a rash of people doing stupid things recently.


Danny landed in New York and sighed as his home greeted him the usual way: noise and a mugger trying to outrun a cop.  He tripped him and walked off.  Don laughed, grabbing their bags so they could find whoever was there to pick them up.  Turns out it was Sheldon.  "Short straw?" Danny asked.

"I had to pout them into it," he said. "Then we somehow got someone hanging off a major building with no visible means of support."  Don nodded at that.  "Want to hit the lab or wherever you guys are crashing for the next few weeks?"

"Lab," Danny said.  "We'll check in later."  That got a nod and they headed for the official SUV.  Sheldon handed over their ID badges. "Yuck, old picture."

Don looked at his.  "Mine's my rookie one."  He looked at Danny's.  "Yours is more recent than mine."

"You're both still young.  Though you look tired."

"We helped the girls build a barn for their new pets yesterday afternoon then sword practice," Don told him.

"New pets?"  He backed out of his spot and merged with the traffic in the parking area, heading out of it.

"Yeah, somehow we got two small unicorns that decided to adopt the girls."  Sheldon gave him an odd look.  Danny pulled out pictures.  "You brought pictures of Binky and Digger?" Don asked, looking amused.

"Hell yes.  Stella can coo."

"Good point."  Don and he shared a smirk.  DCIS would drive Mac insane at times.  "Did they give us an actual office?"

"A small one but yes," Sheldon promised. They paid their fee and got onto the road.  "How are things out there otherwise?"

"The girls have finally started to calm down.  Going to normal school is good for them.  Gives them a chance to stare at others instead of us," Don said.

"They haven't panty raided in over a month," Danny agreed.  "Cases are cases.  Fortunately we're in a slump since the thing  hyping things is dead after that last case in Miami."

Don shuddered.  "Don't remind me."

"I've heard Horatio, down in their labs, can be a bit strict," Sheldon said.

"Nah, he was nice.  He's come up on a case before.  He and Mac are friends."  Danny grinned.  "The girls all seemed to respect him and none of them hit on him.   The slayers on the case with us even did a really good job outlining where all the demons in Miami were and getting him a profile of the higher ones down there."

"Faith colored in a map after patrol," Don told him.  "That way he knows where the demon college is and the common living areas, the areas for problems like vampires.  All that.  Plus they integrated and kept him well informed during the case. That way he could tell other Feds so we didn't have to run into them.  Especially after the ascensions."

"Glad I missed those," Danny admitted.  "Artillery is not my forte."


"Person turning into a giant snake demon," Danny said.  "There's a few different ways and it depends on which way as to how big you become.  Takes decades ta do."

"We had one we knew of and another one popped up on us," Don agreed.  "The last step can only happen during eclipses.  The last one was in DC that we knew of."


"Yeah.  Both of those were in the medium size class.  Around sixty, Danny?"

"Abby said one was sixty-one, one was fifty-eight feet.  Probably the same ritual."  That got a nod.  "Dean made a mess with the artillery.  Faith too."

"She was so happy she got to fire something at the second one," Don said with a grin.

"Big girls with big toys," Danny quipped back.  "All the slayers love weapons after a certain age."

"Xander too," Don pointed out.

"If Jackson can't find us another arms master, it'll end up being Xander."

"Probably.  Any word on the aging out stuff?"

"She turns twenty-three in fourteen days," Danny said.  "Then we'll see.  The new librarian guy, Thomas, told him that the slayer spirit doesn't enter the new girl to prep her for being called until sometime between three days and six months after her birth.  Apparently whenever she's pinpointed it goes."

"So depending, it'll be a bit for us to make sure."  Danny pushed his glasses back up his nose.  "I'm not sure I like the new frames on you."

"Not like you usually stare into my eyes, Don."

"Point."  He grinned again.  "Need them adjusted."

"I'll have time during the trip I'm sure."  He leaned forward to get closer to Sheldon.  "Stella been bouncy or anxious?"

"Bouncy.  Very bouncy.  Teenager on sugar bouncy."  He grinned at him for a second then went back to driving.  "How is it really?"

"It's not bad," Don told him.  "It's the same thing we do here plus some research cases we only have to look up and send back.  We do try to arrest unless they're actively killing or we have to hunt.  The jail's getting a good rep among the demons.  They tried to have an earth demon break into it and ran into Xander and Dawn.  The newest resident was not happy to fix his problems and then take up residence."

"Dawn's compulsion was a bit strong," Danny reminded him.  "She made it sing the whole time."

Don smirked at him.  "Danny said it was an unusual punishment to the rest of us so he made her stop it."

"Good!"  He smirked. "Tiff's back."

"She back to human?"

"Abby sent me an email.  Binky loved McKay, knocked him down to play with him. She ended up guarding him all the way inside because Binky scared them both."  Don cackled at that.  "I'm so proud of the little 'corns."

"I still can't believe you guys have unicorns," Sheldon said.  He changed lanes and pulled onto an off-ramp.  "Nearly there."

"Eeeh, we're about two hours from a regional airport," Don told him.  "We're used to traveling."

"Thankfully no one's been so injured they had to be airlifted recently," Danny said.

"True. Though House is bored."

"Chase said it's normal for him to be bored.  He's handling it with the research time.  He wants to find something to name after himself."

"Chase?  He's cute enough so it'll probably be a demonic STD."

"He'd hate that."

"Yeah but Faith has a *major* crush on him."

"He's gentle but ignoring it."

"Good.  She's a good girl and deserves a nice guy but I think she'd break him."

"At least his back," Danny said dryly.

"Oh, yeah.  Think she and Xander will hit it off again?"

"Nope.  She said she tapped that once and it was great but that was going to send her back to the bad places."

"Good for her.  She learned and rehabbed pretty well after going bad."

"She did.  Think Thomas will have the library on DVD soon?"

"He's got a fifth of his.  He has to get the rest of the books up from the Carribean.  Could be."

"Carribean?" Sheldon asked.

"They found a few of the research watchers were still around.  The present head of the library and five guys from his district all survived.  He was the head librarian for the Carribean branch."

"That's cool.   So he's putting them all on computer?"

"Mostly on DVD so we can scan them easier.  He's also including an original copy and then one translated into English.  The Watchers used a pygmy Latin crossbreed for their books.  All the girls that grew up with them spoke and read it."

"Which was nice since they started out having a few who didn't speak English when they were rescued," Don added.

"Xander was smart about that.  Self-defense for the girls and classes to help them with that and demonology."

"I'm going to miss Sam babbling about demons."

"We're getting the tapes while we're here," Danny assured him.  "Same as Cordette does."  That got a grin.  "She's going to freak if she gets near the unicorns."

"Mary will pout at her younger slayer sibling and Annabelle will peel her off them so she can have her own petting time."

"Annabelle's going to turn them My Little Ponies.  Mary's too quiet to get into much trouble."

"She'll try really hard but John's stopping her.  The boys were the best investment anyone on that base has made."  Danny nodded at that.  "I think it's nice they keep getting Xander into trouble."

"They do?" Sheldon asked.

"Xander was made to take a night off by John, the boy's dad.  He's over the girls in a dad way basically.  Made the boys take Xander to a strip club because he was uptight and tense.  The next morning we're all wondering where they are.  Tony calls up Xander's GPS chip and finds them still there.  He heads out to find them all tired, with swords, surrounded by demon chunks.  The nice, normal, trucker strip joint by the highway turned out to have demons who looked like humans stripping.  They figured out they were DCIS and attacked the boys because one of them had been eating truckers."  Sheldon shuddered.  "One escaped," Danny told him.  "They wouldn't have done anything if not attacked.  From what I heard, Tony gave them towels to come home in because their clothes were nasty and Dean didn't want it in his car.  Dean and Sam also raided the bar on the way out the door to get some free beers."  Don snickered at that.  That was like the boys.


"Nothing on the last vacation," Don told him.  "House, the head doc, decided Xander was stressed.  His heart was going funny from it and lack of sleep or something.  So he sends Xander off on vacation with the boys.  He wasn't there for the earlier one but Xan's well known among the demons for his past hunting.  The boys have their own scary rep among the demons as hunters.  It's considered a safety measure.  They hit Vegas."  Sheldon laughed.  "The casinos are okay.  The boys are losing.  Xander's bored as crap because he doesn't play those sort of games.  Finds a demon casino."  Sheldon moaned. "No, no attacks.  He found a live action role playing quest sorta thing.  Enters it.  Is the first to make it through all twenty-three levels in however long they've been running it."

"The great thing is he doesn't do it in the normal, sword hero, Conan sorta way," Danny agreed.  "One round he won the respect of the dwarves he was supposed ta combat and beat by out drinking them.  He slept with every single tavern wench there was from what we heard.  Sam was betting on what she'd do when Xander tried to leave.  They were more dangerous to him than the creatures."  Don laughed.  "Honestly, girls who like Xander are dangerous and want to kill him. Or us."

"Wow," Sheldon said.  "He okay?"

"Came back with a UTI," Danny told him.  "Ended up with freakish luck.  They leaned on a slot machine and it went off.  So the boys had to leave Vegas and went to do all the theme parks around LA."

"He sounds like an interesting guy," Sheldon told them.

"He's a giant goofball until he's attacked or you attack one of the girls," Don said dryly, shaking his head.  "Xander's a great guy.  Love him like a brother.  Love to have him at my back when a case goes south.  Guy's a bit strange but he hunted demons for seven years before coming to DCIS."

"Half the strange is the girls driving him nuts," Danny told him.

"They can do that," Don agreed.

"How many are there?"

"Fifty-eight total and we have about forty of them on base," Don told him.  "Teenage girls."  Sheldon shuddered. "John keeps a firm line on their collars.  Xander turns into a bastard about training.  Dean helps with that and Sam teaches them demonology with John, but the four of them are the higher authority on the girls' lives.  Giles and Wesley may moan about it but to all the girls, Xander is the head of the Council still."

"They still hate Giles."

Sheldon nodded.  "I remember reading that letter over Stella's shoulder.  It get worked out?"

"Giles is in Cleveland with the older girls.  He's now got a purpose and snapped out of his funk.  So Xander and Wes run most things."  They finally pulled into the parking garage for the lab and got out, grabbing their bags.  No telling who they'd get a ride from to the hotel.  Sheldon got them up to the floor.  "Ah, lab sweet lab.  We haven't had a good lab case in a while."

"Abby's been in research heaven," Don reminded him.

"Yeah.  She likes to stare at House too," Danny shot back, making his friend laugh.  "She does.  She's crushing hard on the snark and the blue eyes."  They found their office door open and Mac waiting.  "We're here.  Run for your lives," he joked.

"I'm hoping you cut down on running for our lives," he joked back, giving them both manly hugs and hand shakes.  "Thanks, Sheldon."

"Not a problem."  He grinned.  "See you guys at the welcome home party."

"Sure.  Just remember, we're in to set up this office," Don told him, giving him a look.  Sheldon nodded at that wisdom.

"And so your Ma can nag," Danny reminded him.

"That too," Don sighed, shaking his head.  "Why did I book a room?"

"Because otherwise your mother will handcuff you with your pop's cuffs?" Danny suggested.

"Good point."  He nodded, cracking Mac up.  "Got a case for us yet?"

"Not yet.  I decided to let you guys go over NYPD rules for the new office and the two other people the Commissioner hired for you to terrorize."

"That works," Don agreed.  Mac paged someone and handed them thin manuals.  "This many rules already?"

"Yes.  Conduct mostly.  We don't talk to demons in interrogation without one of you present.  Those rules."

"I can see that for the bad ones," Danny agreed.  He picked his desk and sat down to go over it.  After a few he picked up a pen and started to make notes in the margins.  "Some of these won't work."  Mac smirked.  "Told him?"


Don nodded.  "We'll fix it."  Two women leaned in.  "Get in here if you're supposed ta be in here."  They walked in and he shook their hands.  "Don Flack and that's Danny Messer."

"We heard.  I'm Pearl," the Hispanic officer said.  "And that's Jana."  She pointed at the Asian officer.  She was the shorter of the two but Jana was better built.  "We applied before you can ask."

"That's cool.  Know something about it already?" Danny asked without looking up.

"My grandmother was a quarter," Pearl admitted.  Danny grinned.  "Jana's mom is pagan."

"She made me," Jana said, showing her voice was a bit lower.  "So far it hasn't been bad.  Two demons hunted for eating someone."

"We can go over those to show you the US approved way," Don told her.  She beamed and got the case files.  "See you later, Mac?"

"Sure.  Let me go check on the case."  He left them alone.

Danny looked at them.  "Relax.  We're not mean.  We might or might not be staying."

Pearl nodded.  "We heard from Stella."  They grinned.  "So, what are we doing wrong?"

"We'll see," Don told them, sitting down to go over the cases while Danny finished with the rule book.  He walked out reading something.  "That's a bad sign."  They nodded at that.  "Someone uptown is gonna be smacked hard.  Being a Fed is good for that."  They laughed and got down to work with him.  They had a good handle but the NYPD wanted the demons out of their city.  Pity New York had one of the highest populations of them and one of the oldest.  Don led them down to the bar he *knew* was a demon bar.   He had walked in there once as a rookie.  Then he was told why he wasn't supposed to.  "Hey," he said, smiling at the bartender.

"You're in the wrong bar, son," the orange and blue bartender said dryly.  Don pulled his usual ID case out and held it up.  He moaned.  "Case?" he whimpered.

"Nah, helping the NYPD set up their native office."  That got a look.  "They wanted us back.  This is how they're tryin' really hard.  These are Pearl and Jana, the first officers they hired.  We need a map.  Trouble spots, colleges, areas of high concentration."

"For your personal use or overall?"

"The higher ups said any case that looks like a demon, we get called," Jana told him.  "No matter what.  Interrogations the same way."

He nodded. "We heard about the 'get them out of my city' rant."

"So did we but we don't work that way," Pearl told him.  "I don't care who lives here as long as you're peaceful."  He smirked at that.  "I'm sure you've got your own problems covered.  This is for any that cross over.  Any humans bothering you guys, any of you guys bothering humans."

"Decent.  I'll see what I can do.  Where's the office?"

"Top floor of the felony crime lab," Don said with a smirk.  "I'd have put it in a ground floor somewhere but not our call."

"Lower Manhattan.  The other boroughs getting theirs?"

"We're the trial," Pearl said with a grin.

"That'll work.  I'll spread that.  Harris didn't come, right?"

"Nah, me and Messer.  They wanted us back."

"Oh, good."  He smiled again.  "Harris brings strange things that get the girls down on your head."  Don laughed but nodded.  "We've heard some strange rumors.  What's going on our there?"

"Things about unicorns?"

"Unicorns?" he demanded, dropping the glass he had been drying.

"Two showed up the other day.  The watchers they found still alive said it wasn't usual but it happened now and then.  Apparently we have a small piece of the barrier near us.  The girls adopted them.  Binky and Digger.  Binky's gray and Digger's like the myths."

"Wow."  He considered it then nodded.  "I wasn't talking about that but that's bad.  I was hearing LA was going to go up again."

"Don't know.  They were talking to the local liaison today about the LA stuff.  We had to fly out.  If so, they've got two slayers, Angel's team that's still living, and all them.  Plus the girls from Cleveland on call since they're bored."

"Good.  That's good.  LA's a troubled area for most of us.  I'll see what I can do about getting you a map."

"We don't need it real specific, just mark things like the local demon colleges.  Let us know if we have overlords or demons who handle things?  That way we don't have to have a mafia boss situation without knowing it?"  The demon smirked and nodded.  "Thanks, man.  Let's go, girls."  He waved and they walked out.  He grinned at them.  "That's very helpful of him.  Most of them won't talk to us.  I expected him to send us to someone."

"That's pretty cool actually."  Jana looked back then at him.  "Are all the demon bars like that?"

"Nope.  I've been in a few for cases.  There was one that was all dirt.  There was one that had flame charms or whatever on the walls so they were on fire.  Had a water elemental in there drinking to get shitfaced drunk.  We were dealing with him.  Some look normal and nice.  Some look like dives.  Some....  Some are kinda strange.  A few are dance clubs, some are getting shitfaced bars.  Depends on the clientele."

"What's the first thing you learned?" Pearl asked.

"Doing this?  That the Church was wrong.  Even the higher, soul stealing, demons have a purpose and sometimes do work for the greater good.  Not always and it's usually because it amuses them or it furthers a later plan.  The lower classes are just like any other being and mostly live in lawful, hidden societies.  A bit rougher than ours at times, a lot of the sins are punishable by death because it can expose them, but they mostly want to be left alone to live their lives.  The second was we make religious leaders nuts.  They like to decry us or ignore us.  A few work with us and they're used to the soul stealing classes but most of them will leave the lower ones alone.  There's even been cults started that call the LA invasion a myth and Hollywood created.  Mostly because they think Xander's an action star."  They giggled at that, shaking their heads.  "Now and then,"  he admitted.  He grinned and waved at one demon, getting a fearful look back.  "Dude, NYPD and DCIS."  The demon shuffled over when he waved.  "Let it be known the NYPD is setting up a local office like DCIS and DCIS is helping them set it up.  Danny Messer's down straightening out some bonehead things they've already done.  We're above the Manhattan Felony Crime lab."  That got a nod.  Don grinned.  "We didn't bring Xander.  He's safely covering for us and the guys setting up Miami's local office.  These are Pearl and Jana, the first two in the office.  We got issues, come tell us."

The demon nodded.  "I will, Agent Flack."  He bowed.  "Peace be on your family."

"I hope so but Ma'll scream when she found out I hit the office before her."  The demon gave him a shy smile and left.  "Like I said, most of the guys are decent sorts who just want to live their lives," he said, walking them on.  "Most of the time I consider it like an ethnic enclave and respect their rules."

"Like walking into the new immigrant area of Chinatown instead of the older, more settled one," Jana said.

"Exactly," Don agreed with a smile.  "There's only a few types with special rules and usually you're warned before hand.  I can tell you his people," he said with a small point at one watching them, "you don't look them in the eyes.  They consider it an insult and attack you.  Then Xander has to show up."  They smiled and nodded.  "Did that by accident during questioning once.  Won't do it again.  I learned.  Danny got offered a girlfriend by one group of demons because he talked to her during questioning on a case.  They decided that showed interest."

"Wow," Pearl said. "What if we did?"

"You'd have a wife too.  We asked if that would make a difference, not that we have so many females on base but we could've asked Abby.  They said she'd have a wife."  They gaped.  "Most demons don't really care or take hold of the gay issue.  To most clans and types it's not an issue.  You just are whatever you are."  He stopped to bow at one really old demon.  "Ancient one."

"Young pup," she said, staring at him.  "DCIS."

"Yes, ma'am.  These are Pearl and Jana.  The locals are setting up an office in the NYPD and Miami's setting up a local office as well.  These two are the first officers hired for the local office."

"We had heard that."  She looked at the girls and nodded.  "They'll do with some training."  She looked at him again, smiling some.  "It is good to have a mentor."  She patted him on the head.  "Go back to the office, pup.  Before your own whelping bitch hears and descends on us for you not greeting her first."

"Work before family to keep the family safe," he told her.  She smiled at that.  "May Trolla bless your litters, Ancient One."  He bowed and backed away, earning a smile.  He led the girls to the car.  Once they were in he started instructing again.  "She's really high up on the scale of ancients.  Her kind live to be about forty.  They age in dog years if I remember right.  Seven for one of ours."  He started the car.  "The word will spread and we'll have less problems.  As long as they don't hire thugs for the office."  He drove them off, heading back to the station.  Stella met them outside to give him a hug.  "Danny in cuffs for smacking him around yet?"

"No.  He made a good, reasonable case and the guy changed it before Danny smacked him on the head with the book."  The girls laughed.  "Showing them around?"

"Putting out the news and asking to get a map of the problem areas and common living areas for the office's use, plus if there were overlords or anything to talk to us."

"That's good.  It'll keep things calm."

"We hope.  Why did they put us up there?"

"No other free spaces and we wanted you two back in the lab, dumbass."

"If they want, we can be called out to take complaints," Pearl assured him.  Don grinned and nodded at that.  "I'm sure you guys have."

"We set up regional liaisons and let them handle those then pass up what we need to handle.  We'll introduce you to them later.  Tony made sure the system worked."  They smiled.  "Let's go sit down."  He walked in with Stella on his arm.  "So, pretty one, you'd love the base.  We've got unicorns."


"Two baby ones.  Danny brought pictures."

She smiled, shaking her head.  "I thought the girls hitting on you was bad," she teased.

"Nah, they're good girls most of the time.  Just teenagers.  Now that they're in school they have a lot of guys to stare at and crush on."  He winked, poking Adam Ross on the back as they walked past him.

"Flack?"  He stared.  "Is Danny back?"  Don looked back and nodded.  "Good!  Mac'll quit pouting at us for not being smartasses like him."  He went back to his hunt for coffee. Then he went to tell Marty in autopsy so the news would get around.  "Hey."  Marty looked over from his current one, which Adam would not look at.  "Flack and Danny are back."

"Wonderful.  Mac will quit pouting at us."

"Exactly.  Flack had Stella on his arm and two junior officers trailing him like they were his puppies."  Marty snickered, shaking his head at that image.  "Let the others know the pouting may be ending."

"Unless they leave again," Marty cautioned.  "I heard they're only in for two weeks to let Mac try to woo them back here."

"Uh-huh."  He walked off sipping his coffee.  He ran into Mac in the elevator.  "If you try to kidnap someone, I'll cover the evidence, Mac.  We hate it when you pout."  He walked off, leaving a stunned stupid man behind him.  That's when he knew he had worked too many hours in a row.  He went to take a short nap in the locker room for his lunch break.  He clearly needed sleep and it'd save him if Mac went off.

Mac shook himself free and went up to their floor, finding Don going over the new rule changes.  "Get it fixed?"

"Yup," Danny said.  "Explained some things.  Like Don did to them."

"We'll hopefully be getting a map," Don told him.

"Tha'tll help.  The one at the base does."  They looked everything over, nodding at something.  "Overlord," Danny said with a point.  "He's a Higher demon.  Two colleges, one small building at Columbia as well."

Don pointed at an area.  "The major living neighborhood."  That got circled.  "Vamps?"

"No idea," Danny admitted.  "I asked Sid last week and he said they hadn't had any deaths."

"Building an army?"

"Could be.  We'll check," Danny agreed.  "If so, we'll call Caridad.  Have her send Buffy."

"That'll work," Don agreed.

"So are we done for the night except for the pager numbers?"  Don wrote out both their tollfree extensions and handed them over.  "I'll have Dispatch put them with the ladies' ones so we can start the welcome home party."  He called in to do that.  Once he was done he walked them down to the meeting room, letting Stella kick off their welcome home, at least for a while, party.  It was good and both guys were happy to be there.  Hopefully they'd stay that way and stay.  The two new demon officers came down to help.  They'd have to work pretty closely with the lab so it was good for them.


Horatio looked up and smiled as Tim and Ryan got off the plane.  "Boys.  Welcome home."

"No signs?" Speed asked, looking around.

"Security wouldn't let Alexx put one up unless you came in first class."  He shot him a smirk.  "Bags?"  They held them up.  "No artillery this time?"

"We had better not need any," Ryan told him.  "There's been no slayer dreams or anything."

"Good.  Excellent in fact.  Though we do have a bit held back from the destruction closet with permission."  He waved a hand.  "Shall we?"  They followed him outside, both coughing at the air.  "Sorry, should have warned you it's a high smog day."

"It took a while to get used to it," Speed promised, finishing his coughing.  "Hummer?"

"They wouldn't let me park up here."  He led them to it.  He wouldn't get the transit officers in trouble for arguing with him.  That was their job and he was having a happy day.  The boys got in, Ryan in the back.  He smiled at that kindness and drove them off.  "How have cases been?"

"A bit slow recently," Speed admitted.

"Since we got the guy who was hyping the other problems to cover up what he was doing we're back down to a few trouble areas and LA doing something at the moment.  I'm sure that's where Xander will be soon."

Speed nodded.  "Probably.  Crissy and Morgan like working with him better than they do the other teams."  Horatio hummed.  "The girls fuss over him, H.  More than Alexx does us."

"That must make him feel special."

"More often than not, he says he feels like their mother," Ryan said dryly, cracking Speed up.

"He fusses back so they don't know how much it affects him but they understand that."

"It's good they can work so well together."  He smiled at his boys.  Finally back.  "We've set up the office so it's basically an office right now.  I put the map Faith and the ladies made for us in there so you can keep track of things."

"That'll work," Speed said.  "What sort of rules did the higher ups set down?"

"None yet.  They expected you'd be setting up some for him."

"I was working on that.  Danny emailed me a scanned in copy of the ones New York did.  I took out about five," Ryan admitted.  "How many others did he put under us?"

"Three to start.  Two females and a male.  One is the other liaison officer."

"That's probably better for her anyway," Speed agreed.  He watched the sights go past.  He had missed the people in Miami but the buildings struck a small chord in his soul too.  "You know, Faith put you up for a field watcher position."

"She did?"

"Yup.  You have the training, the skills, and the attitude that's needed.  She said you'd make a really good one.  Especially since you got some of the terror patrol to listen to you."  He shot him a look.  "She also said you weren't too distracting to look at.  Unlike one of the new guys that got found who is very pretty."

Ryan shook his head quickly. "I'm not sure he's not half succuba.  Abby thinks so," he defended at the odd look.

"Could be, but he'll never admit it."

"No one would care around the office.  Paul is quarter demon of some sort."

"Xander's team Paul?" Speed asked, looking a bit confused. Ryan nodded.  "How did you find that out?"

"One of the girls told me."

"Ah.  The same one that keeps hitting on you?"

"No, Anna," he said with a smirk.  "Speaking of, did you bring new pet pictures?"

"No, I forgot.  You?"

"Let me email them."  He pulled out his phone/blackberry device to do that, getting some back fairly quickly from Sam.  "Sam's online."

"That's cool.  Probably avoiding shelving books.  For a research nerd he hates to shelve things again."

"Now there's Thomas so he doesn't have to," Ryan quipped.

"Thankfully."  Ryan let him see the new picture, making him laugh.  "Binky pounced McKay?"  Ryan smirked and nodded.  "Then what happened?"

"Sam's email said that Tiff guarded him all the way inside because they freaked her out that badly.  Both of them probably by the look on his face.  Abby took the picture."

Speed smirked.  "I love Abby.  She's a neat girl."

"She seemed it.  We talked during the convention," Horatio told them.  "Are the new base pets nice?"

"Very but they're the girls' pets," Speed told him, taking the phone to hold up.  At the next stop sign Horatio looked then gaped in horror.  Speed smirked.  "Their pets."

Horatio shook himself and drove on, trying hard not to think about unicorns. "Why?" he asked finally.

"We found out that there's a barrier that keeps some of the more mythical creatures on their plane or whatever," Speed told him.  "Those two decided to come visit and they adopted the slayers.  Xander had to build them a barn because they were sleeping in the slayer's dorm."

"I see."

"Yup."  Speed smirked.  "So we've got things going on up there that're very strange."

"I heard the Cleveland team got to meet them.  Buffy and all of them cooed over them all afternoon until Dawn sent them home."

"Those poor unicorns."

"How many?" Horatio asked.

"Two.  Binky likes most everyone and doesn't mind those who aren't innocent.  Digger's a traditional unicorn.  He only likes virgins."

"Is it a gender divide?"

"No, just different types."

"I see."  He turned onto another street and got them back to the office, still trying hard not to think about unicorns.  They could tell Calleigh about them.  She might like unicorns.  Or Eric.  He didn't.  They parked and Alexx came out to pull her boys out of the hummer and hug them.

"You'd think you missed us," Speed teased.

"You hush, Timothy."  She patted him on the cheek and looked them both over.  "Well, they feed you there."

"The girls clean up any leftovers," Ryan told her.  "They eat like teenage boys."

"More often then not," Speed agreed.  "Plus our apartments have kitchens for when we want snacks or we're being antisocial."

"Hmm."  She walked them inside.  Their bags could stay in the hummer since Horatio would be driving them later she was sure.  She took them to their office, which was nice.  It was bright.  It had an external door for some reason she didn't understand.

"Hey, we can take complaints here," Ryan said happily.

"And already did," a female said, holding up a paper.  "That's a Federal matter."

Ryan looked then faxed it to the base with a note they'd handle it but to let the others know.  He put it onto the desk with his name on the paper tent.  "We can handle that.  When did we get it?"

"Last night.  They heard you guys were coming and brought us any complaints locally just in case you brought Harris back."

"Just us," Speed told her.

"That's fine.  It'll mean Delko will quit moving furniture on us," she said dryly.  Speed laughed.  "Anyway, bosses, the brass want to meet with you about interrogation rules and those things."

"Got 'em sent down from New York, made changes.  We can give them to him," Ryan promised.

She gaped.  "You're good."

"We were there when the agency was still really tiny and growing," Speed told her.  "Tony and Xander set most of everything up.  Tony hired most of us, except us, and we had to watch things come together."

"That's good.  The other two guys are a bit horrified to be assigned here."

"Half?" Ryan asked.

"No clue.  Don't care.  Just horrified."

"We'll figure that out."  He looked at the others.  "No dancing girls?" Ryan teased.

"Eric threatened to steal you two to the club later," Horatio assured him.  Alexx got paged so she had to let Speed go but he sat down in the corner, letting them handle things.  Ryan was making a capable, fussy administrator.  The other two came back from lunch and got met, talked to, one got sent off because he was worried this was going to soil his soul.  The other Ryan and Speed pulled up the online manual they had and put him and the other liaison officer with it.  They had to know anyway.  When the commissioner came in, Ryan handed him the copy of the rules from Danny and went over each and what they needed in officers.  They promised to fill the open spot themselves and it was good for the boss too. They clearly had it.  Horatio got a text message and smiled, looking at the boys.  "Sir, with all due respect, the others want to welcome them back."

"Of course.  Dispatch has your pager or whatever numbers?"  Ryan wrote them down for him and handed them over.  "If we get one, we'll call."

"Nine out of ten will be false alarms at first but we understand that," Speed told him.

"Good."  He nodded at Horatio.  "Thank you.  This is working out fairly well."  He went to hand those to dispatch then went back to take some tylenol.  Even the thought of demons was bothering him.  His poor city.  How long had it been infected?

Horatio took them to the party, letting Eric and Calleigh pounce.  "Show them the pictures of the new pets," Horatio offered. Ryan pulled them out to show them off.  Calleigh was creeped out but Eric laughed and gave them another pat on the back.  It was going to be interesting in Miami for quite a while.


Daniel moaned, getting the call from Homeland he hated.  "Yes, sir?"  He listened.  "Why does Jack need me for a week?  I just had a vacation."  He listened.  "Ah, new text.  Tony can run here if we need him to or Xander in his stead until Tony comes back from testifying in DC.  I can do that.  Let me get with Jack, sir.  Why didn't he call?"   He nodded once, a power flux took out the power at the mountain and with it the phones.  "I can do that.  Thank you, sir."  He hung up and packed a few things, walking out.  "Guys, make do without me for a few days.  Jack needs me to translate something for him.  New people he's not sure about."  They all waved and Xander grinned.  "Yes, that means you're in charge until Tony gets back."

"Sure thing, Danny.  Have a good trip.  Want McKay since he's hiding in the lab?"

"If he wants.  I'll check on that.  Tiff?"

"Went home with the Cleveland group for a few days.  She needed to talk about battle stress."  That got a nod.  "Have a good trip and bring your weapons."

"Will I need them?" he asked.

"From what we get told, you always do," Xander quipped.  "Take some of the special bullets."

"Yes, Xander."  He went to get them and his sidearm, then check on McKay.  "Jack needs me to translate for a few days.  Something new just popped up."  McKay gave him an odd look.  "Looks like an offshoot of Ancient," he said quietly.

"Wonderful.  Let me know if it's something we need to see."

"Of course.  You staying?  I know you're freaked out."

"Well, yes, but I can stay away from the dread creatures and the unicorns."  Danny walked off laughing.  "Have a good trip.  Annoy the general since Carter said she hasn't recently."

"I can do that."  Abby gave him a hug.  "Jack needs me for a few days."

"Okay.  Be safe.  We heard you get into more trouble than Xander."

"Not hardly," he defended.  She gave him a look.  "I don't."  He walked off to her giggling.  That was a bad sign.  He called for a pickup.  Someone there had sent a helicopter to pick him up.  He had enough time to get a bag of clothes too.  Then he was off into the sky and toward Colorado.


In Las Vegas, a small boy was being drug behind his mother through the casino and resort toward the buffet.  He was really bored.  The hotel babysitter had watched tv and he was bored.  He saw something flash and reached out to touch the pretty stone then it disappeared.  He pouted.  He wanted his stuffed dragon back but it had gotten wet in the storm that had started a few hours back.  His mom had made him leave it in the room to dry.


To part 12