Demon Criminal Investigative Services: Holiday Visitations.

Rodney looked at his email.  "Abby has a surprise for me."

John gave him an odd look.  "Not to be nosy or anything, McKay, but you guys were careful, right?  It's not the 'surprise it's an EPT test' surprise?"

He glared at his friend.  "Both of us are more than intelligent enough to figure out the intricacies of birth control, Colonel.  Really, even men at your intelligence level can figure it out or else we'd have repopulated part of the Pegasus galaxy by now."  He turned back around to look at the monitor.  "Beyond that, Abby would not announce such a delicate topic that way."

"Uh-huh."  He shook his head.  "Then it's got to be a happy surprise, right?"

"I do hope so.  Bad surprises seem to come from her work with the slayers.  It's definitely not a job I'd aspire to.  A lot of heartache waiting to happen and a lot of nosy young things trying to get into your business."

"That's because Abby's nice and she lets the girls come to her like a big sister."

"If you say so.  Though she is very sweet."  He sighed, then shook himself free of that thought.  He did not need to have it in the lab.  "Why are you here bothering me again?"

"Mission briefing before we leave tomorrow?" he reminded him with a smirk.  He was going to get a lot of teasing out of this new girlfriend thing of McKay's.  He probably hadn't had much of one before.  McKay did rub people the wrong way all too often.


John got the email from Abby the night they got back and smiled.  He could remove them from rotation that day.  He changed the schedule and sent it to Sam for approval, getting back an IM with a question mark.  He forwarded the email.  That way Abby wouldn't be met by guys with guns.  They wouldn't do that to her.  McKay might build another bomb and kill them all if one of the Marines made a threatening move toward his girl.  He had even gotten to pick on Rodney all around the planet they had just hit.  Teyla was snickering behind his back about his dopy smile whenever he got lost in thought.  Ronon looked confused.  Apparently not tough guy enough for him.  Abby and Ronon meeting was going to be...interesting.  He might grunt at her and she'd have to poke him to see if  he was alive.  Or something like that.  He and Sam agreed they wouldn't tell Rodney if Abby hadn't.  He wanted to see what this surprise was.  He hoped it wasn't an EPT surprise.  Not that he didn't think they were very careful but accidents did happen.  He proved that.


Abby walked out of the portal, letting the girls shove the three crates behind her.  Then a smaller one.  "Thanks, ladies.  See you soon!"  She waved before the portal snapped shut then she beamed at the people staring at her oddly.  "Hi, Abby Scuito, DCIS head of R&D and the labs.  I'm up to help with the integration."

"We knew you were DCIS.  You're the only people that come up that way, ma'am," one of the female guards said.  This explained why the crew had been warned not to be too jumpy and weapon happy today.

"We need all new computers?" one of the male guards asked.

She smiled.  "It's nearly Christmas, guys.  The base held a Secret Santa for you guys since we heard you might not get to celebrate like usual."  That got some smiles.  "And one's for Rodney."  She looked around, bouncing a bit.  "Wow, really shiny up here.  I should've brought my sunbrella."

Sam Carter walked in and looked.  "Computer integration?" she guessed.

"And Secret Santa stuff plus something for Rodney to look over."

"That's wonderful."  She smiled.  "Let me get him.  Who did the Secret Santa?"

"The girls suggested it since they heard you guys couldn't have the normal holiday celebration up here.  They didn't think anyone would get offended by getting a present from Santa, no matter what your religion, so they did it that way."

"That's good," one guard said with a smile.  "I'm Muslim and I don't mind."  She gave him a hug.  "Ma'am, should I call Sheppard as well?"

"I can," she promised, going to do that.  "McKay and Sheppard, you have a visitor with a crate for you."  She hung up and went back down there.  "Which one is his?"

"The smallest one.  You can look at it later; him first because it's got to be set up."

"I'm sure he'll brag if it works well," she said happily.  Sheppard came in.  "The girls on the base started a Secret Santa."

"I love the slayers," he said, giving Abby a hug.  "Tiff would give you one too but she's in the corner for hitting on a native on her last mission."

"The girls all set her news and presents too.  They're in the last crate."  She looked then frowned.  "There should be another crate.  I'll email Dawn."

"I'll do it," he promised.  "Guys, get us something to move them?"  The portal reopened and two more crates came through then a wrapped package got put on top.  It closed behind the new stacks of stuff.  He smiled.  "Looks like we forgot more."

She went to look then handed him the basket.  "From girls who want to be recruited.  Tiff talked up all the foreign and strange hotties.  She said Buffy should try to hit on Ronon, whoever that is, because he's her type but not a bad guy.  For once."

He laughed.  "I'm sure she did.  What's the rest?"

"Stuff for a good dinner.  Maybe a small tree for those who need it.  I don't know if they included any other religion's symbols."

"We'll check and see," he decided.  People came in to heft and tote the crates.  "Not the smallest one.  That's for McKay."  His present got a long look by one of the Marines.  "The slayers who want to be recruited."

He shuddered.  "Are they going to hit on us too?"

Abby gave him a smack on the head like Gibbs had done to her so many times.  "They're good girls who don't have a lot of interaction with normal guys outside of school.  You're very exotic to them."

"You know Gibbs?"

"I'm Abby."

He smirked.  "Good to know, ma'am."  He made sure they had all of it, taking the list off the last crate so they could see where they needed to go.  They had included things to celebrate all the seasonal holidays.  That was nice of those very strange, strong girls.

Rodney McKay stomped in.  "What now?  I'm incredibly busy at the moment."

"Too busy to get a new power source?" Abby asked, giving him a look.

He stared then he smiled.  "Up for the upgrade?"  She beamed and nodded.  "New power source?"

"Dean and Xander were dabbling."

"Ah.  That duo.  Well, let's see."  She pointed at the crate.  "Good.  Colonel, get that for us?  I'm sure it's too heavy for her to lift or us to lift together."  He took the basket and her arm, walking her off.

"When did I get appointed your pack mule?" he called after them.  He did it anyway because it was bound to be a good toy if Xander and Dean had created it.  They got it set up in the lab and Abby went into high tech babble mode about what still needed to be figured out but what it did and how it did it.  McKay was nearly getting bouncy himself, though he'd probably try to strangle him if he said so.  They set it up with a cooling chamber they improvised over dinner at the lab table and tested the limits of it.  It was enough to power all the labs without stretching their resources.  They nearly danced around in glee when it held enough to keep the labs going.  Sam came in to look at the cackling in glee, bouncing with them.  Sheppard stayed out of the way and watched it, filming it subtly through Atlantis' systems for O'Neill.  Abby even had plans for him, making Rodney the happiest geek on base.  Especially when Abby started to get tired he decided she'd come cuddle him that night.  She beamed and kissed him and it was good for him.  He was a much happier boy for a change.

Sam watched them head out to his apartment, shaking her head at the cuteness.  "They're way too cute together for anything military."

John smirked.  "They are but it's nice to see him ungrumpy."

"True."  She found the strange gun in the bottom of the crate and took it to their range to look it over.  The energy tentacle made the range master come over to see what she was doing but he was in awe over it too.  "SGA-1 can destroy so much more with this," she quipped.

John came in.  "I heard my team's name taken in vain?"  She showed him what it did.  He moaned and took it to try.  "That is so cool.  Dean and Xander?"

"The tag said NID."

He looked then nodded, practicing some more with it.  "I wonder if this'll work on a wraith since it's energy."

"I don't know," Sam admitted.  "We'll have to see."  He smirked and went back to practicing.  He had to be accurate with the thing before he brought it into the field.  Abby would kill him if it got McKay hurt.  She was the scarier brain in that pair so she could come up with some *ideas*.


Jack smirked when he got the video from Atlantis, getting into it to watch Abby and McKay babble at each other.  It was too cute for his manly system but what they were babbling about was sounding pretty useful for them.  He called Daniel up to share it with him, getting a happy smirk and a nod back.  "We might have to figure out something."

"The portal generator if she ever gets it to move people.  They can figure out who commutes when."

"That would be a long commute."

"Only seconds in a portal."

"Uh-huh.  Still not safe," Jack told him.

"It's not bad."  He shrugged.  "We'll see."  He hung up and called Xander to watch it with him.  Xander could squee with the best of the girls and it was good they were happy together.


John smirked when Rodney came in the next morning.  He was still bouncy.  He was smiling.  He filled his plate with double what he usually inhaled, which was enough to make the food workers stare in horror.  He only smirked at them before sitting down.  "Good morning, Colonel."

"Morning, McKay.  Abby up yet?"

"In the lab already.  She stole some of my energy bars for the caffeine.  We're going to see if we can scale it larger or if we have to put a few around the base to handle the power issues.  What's this I hear about a Secret Santa?" he asked before taking a bite.

John nodded.  "The girls decided we needed holiday presents."

"That's very sweet of them."

"A few sent me a gift basket to come recruit too."

"Lucky you.  Porn?  Knowing some of those girls it's not out of the ordinary."

"No.  Mostly candy."  Rodney's fork paused on the way to his mouth.  "Stuff you can't steal.  It has some citric acid."


"Who knows what's in your present and they won't be offended if you have to switch yours out.  You didn't tell everyone down there you're allergic to citrus."

"Good point.  Is it?"  John shrugged.  "We'll have to see then."  He went back to eating.  Abby came bopping in and hugged them both, making him frown at her.  "Why did he get one?"

"Because the girls got you computer games."  He beamed at that.  "And Dawn got you some sugar free candy, in case someone steals some.  No citrus stuff.  I warned them."  He beamed brighter.  She gave him an extra hug.  "I think we'll need to install multiple ones.  Radek was staring at it so I explained it.  He doesn't think we can scale the particle separator up."

"We'll look at that after breakfast.  Want some food?"

She smirked.  "I had my favorite wakeup.  And caffeine."  She bounced off again.  "Radek and I are in the lab."

"Of course."  He finished up in a hurry then went to spend more time with her.  She admired his brilliance quite well.  It stoked his ego quite a lot and he was more than happy with her own genius, more limited than his and in different areas, but still genius level.  More than suitable for his girlfriend.  Plus she liked him, that was always a good sign for them to be in a real relationship.  Radek was bent over the cooling chamber.  "We can recycle the water," he told him.

"We might be able to hook one up to the water purifier system and see if it helps with that," he said, smirking at him.  "When are we doing the computer upgrade?"

"Christmas Eve so everyone wakes up to better email capabilities if it goes right," Abby said.  "If not, it'll give us a few hours when they're admiring the new presents."

"That's not a bad idea," he agreed.  They got back to work on how to scale it up and where to stick them if they had to use multiple versions.  Some people were always complaining they were cold so they got to sleep next to one of the units.  Eggy came in and curled up on top of it with a sigh of pleasure but they made her sleep behind it instead.  It was better for the delicate equipment.


Abby came out of the lab for lunch, staring at the huge man in the hallway.  "Wow, Tiff said you were huger than our Sam."

Ronon frowned at her.  "New to the project?"

"I'm Abby."  She smiled and he shook her hand.  She poked his arm.  "Dean would try to arm wrestle you or spar with you to see how good you are, but I'm not like that so I'll just say hi."  She beamed.  "Do you help in the labs too?"

"No," he said, staring at her.  She was very strange based on the humans he knew.  He'd never seen a woman wear her hair like that.  "Does the hair style you wear mean anything?"

"I'm fun and cute."  She beamed.

Rodney leaned out of the lab.  "Ronon, this is Abby.  She's head of the labs at DCIS and a forensic goddess in her own right."

"The one you go down to see every few months?"

Rodney smirked and nodded.  "She is.  She brought us a new power source.  Abby, don't worry, he won't flex those unnatural muscles at you and make you confused.  I do swear that muscle mass can infect intelligence now and then."

She pinched him on the arm.  "Be nicer."  She pouted at him.  "I'm not a girl to be stunned by python arms."  She poked him on the arm, getting a smirk back.  "Can I bring you back lunch?"

"No, I'll join you in about ten minutes.  Ronon, can you show her where the mess is?"

That attitude and the look of jealousy he got when she had poked him told him what he needed to know.  Some things were universal no matter which planet you came from.  "Of course.  I'd be happy to guard your mate for you."  He walked her off.  "It is nice that he's finally found someone to calm him down."

She snickered. "I'm bouncier than he is," she told him.

"You're female, it's allowed.  On men, it's odd.  It distracts during a battle."

"Women can fight," she warned.

"Yes, but some are meant to think instead.  They leave it to men like me to fight while they think up great things for their peoples to prosper with."

She pinched him on the forearm.  "That's such a sweet compliment.  Thank you."  He smirked back but let her into the mess.  She found Sam and went to get food, sitting next to her.  "Hi."

"Hi.  Get anything finished?"

"Nearly.  We've built a second one."

"That's good.  Where's McKay?  You let it suck him back in?"

"He'll be down in ten minutes.  I walked up talking to Ronon."

"He's very big," she said.

"Very, but nice.  He gave me a great compliment.  That women like me left men like him the battles so we could think up things to make our people prosper.  Though he does think that Rod and I are married for some reason."

"His people don't have dating rituals."

"That's kinda sad."

"In many ways," she agreed.  "But cultural relativity.  I learned that before Daniel had to beat it into some Marines.  Only took me once."

Abby laughed.  "He had to beat it into a new agent the other day because they believed in marrying from the egg and then binding when they were adult."

She nodded.  "I've seen cultures like that."  She ate a bite.  "Eat more than that, Abby.  He'll run you all over the base later on putting stuff up."  She went to get more and came back.  Rodney came in eight minutes after she had left, which was shocking because usually he was late instead of early for anything, and got a human sized plate of food.  Though Abby did add more to it on him, earning a smile and they ate quietly before going back to the lab.  She sighed, shaking her head.  "They're adorable."

Ronon sat down in Rodney's former seat.  "She's a good match to him."

"She is."

"Will they be having children?"

"Hopefully not up here," she quipped, making him smile and nod.  This base got attacked, it wasn't safe for children.  "They're still working out how to be together since she's on earth."

"As it happens sometimes.  They are well suited.  He can understand when she talks so fast and he learns manners off her."

Sam laughed.  "She is having a good effect on him."  Sheppard walked in grinning.  "Saw the lab twins?"

"Bouncing off to put another system somewhere."  He sat down once he had a plate.  "Did you get to meet Abby too, Ronon?"

"She makes a good mate for him.  She's also as smart as he is and lets him brag and boast as most men are able to do, but hides her giggles.  Like my former mate did when I slipped and boasted."

They both smiled at him. "They'll work out the earth/Atlantis issue soon," John told him.

"I'll be sorry to see him go."

"Most likely they'll figure out how to use the portal generator to get one of them back and forth more often," Sam told him.  He gaped.  "She's very brilliant in her own areas."

"Indeed.  She must be letting him think he is smarter to salve his ego."

"Could be," John agreed. "They work in different areas most of the time."

"Then they're well suited."  He finished his lunch and put the tray up, going to make sure no one else would bother McKay's mate.  Many on base didn't like him but they would be sorry if they hurt his mate.  A man in such a situation was dangerous and unpredictable.  Prone to violence that could destroy everyone.  With his brains and skills he could easily destroy the whole base if she was bothered wrong.


Jack O'Neill smiled when Sam reported in.  "How are things up there?"

"Abby's amazing, sir."

"Abby's up there?"  Sheppard's email had said she didn't know he had taped that scene.

"With our Secret Santa things."

"I didn't hear about that."

"The girls on the DCIS base arranged it."

"Ah.  That's why.  How are things going?"

"Abby brought up a new power source for us that Dean and Xander built.  They've decided to put them around the base in a few spots to take the non-native systems off the main power grid.  That way we spare the resources.  All our people who think they're cold are getting them next to them since it puts out heat.  One's being hooked onto the water purification system too since it splits water for energy.  It reclaims most of the two quarts it uses a day.  So far we're very happy with it and with Abby being so happy and bouncy with him, sir."

"They're together?"  She nodded.  "So this is their version of a geek conjugal visit?" he teased.

"Definitely."   She smirks back.  "McKay is eating like more of a horse than usual so it's pretty clear he's happy with the visit too.  He'll be pouting when she has to come back."

"You could try to keep her but you deal with Danny's pout."

"I'm not up to Daniel's pout or any of the girls pouting at me, sir.  That's mean and leaning toward torture."  He just smirked.  "They'll figure it out.  Though, if they have kids, we'll need some *excellent* teachers."

"I know.  We'll burn them when we get to that point."  She laughed.  "With our luck it'd be twins.  Little goth twins with his mouth and her looks."

She cackled.  "That's so bad, Jack."

"I know."  He smirked.  "You can tell him that too."

"I'll do that."  She calmed herself.  "We're doing the computers Christmas Eve so it should be up the next morning."

"Good!  That'll make a lot of people happy."

"I hope so.  Only one grumbling person so far about the holiday stuff and he's saying it should be Christmas until Abby pointed out many people celebrated holidays during that time of year, not just his version of what it should be.  He stomped off after calling her a freak and mysteriously fell down a trash shaft an hour later."


"No, I checked the cameras.  It opened and apparently sucked him in.  Somehow."

"Is she an ATA carrier?" Jack asked patiently.

"No idea."

"Huh.  That'd be my suggestion.  Remember, it does things for Sheppard too."

"It does.  If not, maybe it's sentient enough to like her a lot.  She's a nice lady.  Very sweet.  Even made McKay apologize for a rude comment at dinner."

Jack smiled.  "They're well suited then.  Tell them I wish them happiness together."

"I can do that, sir.  Other than that, did you get our plans to cover the downtime?"

"I did.  Will you be able to handle it?"

"I hope so."

"I'll send up double."

"If you can.  I was worried about weight, sir."

"He can make two trips or we can use the portal generator, something."  She nodded at that.  "Good.  Let me get back to ignoring paperwork while you do the same."

"I sent you my last batch on time."

"I know, that's what I'm ignoring."  He hung up and went to lurk to see if anyone knew how the naquada had gotten to the demons.  They all saw him and shook their heads but that was fine he guessed.  They'd find out soon enough, probably during his review of the two departments.


Rodney looked at his present a few days later.  "One of them got me the new Sims game.  What's the spare CD?"

"She made you skins for you, your team, me, some of the girls.  That way you can play with us."  Abby smiled at him, blushing a bit.  "Not in *that* way but still."

He smiled.  "This way the cyber me can talk to the cyber you while we're worlds apart?" he teased.  She blushed brighter but nodded.  "Your girls are incredibly odd but sweet."

"They are.  Mary got you."

"That does explain it.  She's very odd but decent.  She'll grow up mouthy."

"She's going to be a doctor."

"She'll be the next female House," John teased.

"Could be.  He's her mentor.  Said she could have a duckling spot when she got that far."  They laughed at that.  "What did you get?"

"I got...."  He opened his one from the girls.  "Aww, they gave me movies."

"The girls knew you've been missing some."

"We have."  He looked through them.  "Kung Fu.  One comedy.  One sappy comedy."

"She said if it isn't something you like to trade it off."

"I can do that with the girly movie later.  We'll set up an exchange board."  He gave her a hug.  "Thank whichever got me?"

"Of course."  He opened the next one and gave the electronic pad an odd look.  "That's an automatic calendar so you remember what day it is at home."

"Ah."  He turned it on, smiling at the time and date as of that minute in North Dakota.  It had a nice personal message for three days from now.  He laughed when he read it.  "The girls put on a reminder that you're leaving in a few days and we can't keep you or else they'll come kidnap my whole team and you to get you back."  He let her see, watching her giggle.

Rodney shook his head. "They could probably pull it off too.  Dawn would help them."

"She so would," Abby agreed happily.  She smiled at Rodney.  "Yours is still in my suitcase."

"I got one other than the power source?"

"Of course.  That's a helpful thing, not a present."  He smiled and nodded, knowing he'd get whatever it was later.

Teyla and Ronon looked at the odd presents then at their teammates.  "What is the meaning of this holiday?" Teyla asked.

"Many cultures and religions have holidays around this time of year on earth.  Depending on the culture and/or the religion it has a few different meanings."

"For about half the people it's now a gift giving holiday with older meaning that aren't fully followed," Tiff told them.  "Unless you're really religious or your family does it that way.  What are the girls doing for it?"

"Sitting up with cocoa watching holiday movies while the guys pretend to be the non- demonic Santa."  Tiff gave her an odd look so she pulled out a letter and tossed it over.  "From Buffy."

"Ah."  She read it over, then snickered at one part.  "That explains *so* much."

"Doesn't it though?"  She grinned. "In my bag is a longer letter from most of the girls and some of the new ones."  That got an odd look.  "You guys didn't hear the newest Rosenburg issue?"  They all shook their heads.  "She made a wish to D'Hoffryn that the girls aging out get to make a choice to keep it or not.  He used the scythe."  Tiff whimpered, eyes wide.  She'd heard a demon had gotten near it but not why.  "It activated them all, we have an extra sixty-eight older slayers and the way he did it activated the potentials who're too young but Dawn and a few white lighters fixed that so it's not fully that way but it's almost certain they'll be called when they're of a good age."

"Oh, shit," she muttered, eyes still very wide.  "Did Buffy...  Hold on, she's...."

"She's why Willow made the wish.  Willow's with the White Lighter's Council."  They shared a look.  "They're very pissed.  She's presently in a decorative crystal in their entryway."

"Yeah, I can see why!" she said.  "Oh, God.  Did Buffy keep hers?"  Abby nodded.  "That's why we got the scythe, wasn't it?"

"It came from the wish universes Willow created.  Xander picked it up during the first one where Willow wished he had walked away after the battle when they snarked at him."  Tiff slumped, staring at her.  "That meant the explosion happened the way it should have.  The plane, the fire for the ones on the base.  And the invasion still happened," she said quietly.  "He picked it up after the explosion."

She flopped down, head on her knees.  "Poor Xander."

She gave her a hug.  "He's better now.  The Major and Benny Ray, plus Connor and our John helped him a lot.  Connor even made a bad joke about knowing how he felt because he was surrounded by cranky girls."  Tiff laughed.  "Did you get to hear Crissy's having a girl?"

"Crissy's pregnant?"

"Yeah.  She's due around Easter.  She's having a girl.  She's incredibly worried it'll be a slayer too but so far she's okay."

Tiff sniffled.  "I need to email more often, don't I?"

"They'd like that."

She nodded. "I'll start doing that."  Abby stroked over her hair.  "Thanks, Abby.  And for pushing them to adopt me.  It's helped me a lot."

"You're welcome.  Not everyone can live like the girls on base do.  Gwen had to go to LA to talk to the commandos she worked with because she wasn't used to the happies that go on."

"Yeah, they can be a bit cheerful," she agreed dryly.  She smiled at John then at Teyla.  "We should bring you down so the other slayers can meet you."

"There's many with your same calling?" Ronon asked.

"There used to be just one then things had to happen," John told him.  "So now there's originally seventy-four?"  Abby nodded.  "Plus the new sixty-eight that got activated a few months ago.  Most of the older ones are teenagers.  The new ones are all older?"

"Over the age of aging out.  One's in her late forties but I think she's the oldest.  Someone stepped in to relieve some of them from duty."  She pointed at Sam, getting a smirk from John.  "She did really good."

"Yes I did," Sam called.

Tiff looked over.  "Could've told me."

"Why?"  She shrugged.  "It's another skill and another set of instincts that can help me on the job.  I've been using them to up some others' training to help them be better."  They shared a look.  "By the way, John's making alternate scythes for the girls.  The original goes to Faith or Buffy. The second one goes to Brenda since she's going to be training the future girls.  She's doing that now actually.  The rest of us get a new model."

She smiled.  "I could like that."  She looked at Teyla.  "The girls would pounce and ask you for stories of fights and things."

"Yes, they did," Sam agreed.  She looked inside her present.  "I think one of the agents got me.  They got me stationery and a journal."

Abby looked at the master list in her bag, then nodded.  "Calleigh did."

"That's very sweet of her.  I'll write her a thank you note later on it."  She smiled at the movie underneath.  "Someone said we were lacking movies?"

"Yup, all sorts of entertainment."

"That's fine.  We could use it."  She put her classic romantic comedy aside.  She liked that one.  They had watched it together with some of the girls.  She smirked at Rodney's second present from someone on base.  Clearly one of the guys on the ISC teams.  It even had a little note at the bottom reminding him not to hurt Abby because they all loved weapons and they'd sic the slayers on him if he did.  He laughed at it but she gave him a hug to calm him back down.  The video game inside was most welcome by a lot of the guys on base.  They got bored on their downtime and needed things to relax with.


Down on earth, the guys were storing their hauls.  Each of the girls had gotten them at least a little something.  The more they liked them the bigger their little something was.  Also the more allowance was saved, the bigger the things came.  Six of the girls had gotten Dean candy, earning a happy boy and their PT the next day being canceled for playing in the snow time instead.  It'd still be training time but that was fine with them.  Four of them had gotten Dean a mass of CD's and two had gotten together to get him something that copied tapes to CD or CD's to tapes.  Which had gotten them hugs.  Two more had snuck in a CD into their packages, including one he already had on tape, so that was cool with him.  He could make a new copy.  The old one was getting a bit worn out.

Some of the girls got together to buy them a tv/dvd combo machine for their apartment.  That way they could sneak in and watch tv with them.  Sam had laughed at that and hugged them.  They had all sighed in pleasure but he didn't allow groping and they knew that.  Brenda unveiled her 'whole family' present.  It was cool and John was speechless when he opened it.  She shrugged a bit and blushed when Dean and Sam looked over.  Sam stared at the game system then hugged her.  Dean too.  That went well with Xander's present of realistic games for the system.  Hunting, military commando, and one odd Mario brother one to build hand-eye coordination.  John just smirked at that and said he'd be trying to borrow it.  Xander pointed out he had one.  He never had the energy to use it.  The girls laughed at that and someone gave him a candy bar.

The girls got each other gift certificates for clothes and other necessary things.  Plus candy because most slayers had a sweet tooth.   The agents got small things and cards for those they didn't know very well.  Daniel got a few gift certificates to the local eye care place since they had seen him squinting in the library.  He smiled and hugged them for looking out for him.  Xander gave him his own light saber.  Which made him laugh and give him a short, manly hug.  John and the boys gave him practical things for field work in case he needed it - a new pack, a new jacket, and a certificate to pick out a new pair of boots.  He said a nice thank you to them for it.

Xander stood up to unveil his present to the girls.  He got them all two gifts.  One was the matching system to what the Winchesters had gotten from Brenda.  Which made Dean quip that the girls couldn't borrow theirs.  Sam said that meant they'd have to keep the other games over there and see if they needed to get their own copies of anything.  John reminded them this meant they could compete and get better in hand-eye coordination.  They might even reward the girls who could beat Dean and Sammy.  That got a mass cheer.

Xander unveiled his other one.  He had upgraded the girls' computer to three new computers for homework, not net surfing, but he'd leave the old one there for net surfing.  They cheered and pounced him to cuddle and kiss on the cheek.  He quietly handed Sam his to upgrade his laptop so it'd work better again - it had been sluggish recently.  Dean got one for new games.  John got one for a new leather coat, making him smile at the boy.

Everyone filed out to dinner to make themselves sick.  House and Chase had both gotten a lot of stuff from home and the girls had spoiled them rotten with candy, cookies they made, and a bunch of naughty t-shirts for House to traumatize people at home with.  He was wearing his God of Smartasses shirt to lunch.  He even let the girls hug him.  They had gotten one suggestive toy each but that was from Faith, who had to try to embarrass them.  Xander's private one to Faith made her burst out cackling and nearly fall on the floor.  Everyone gave them fond looks because it was just how those two were buddies.

The highlight of dinner had to be when McGee and Sam had reprogrammed the mini robots Dean and Xander had built so they came in to randomly pet people, pinch them, or poke them on the side and made fat jokes. One got swatted by Binky but the unicorns didn't have that good a sense of humor.  She didn't like being poked.


Dawn emailed Tiff for news on Abby's return, getting video of them being gooingly cute together.  "Ladies, we got video of Abby and McKay together."  They came over to watch.

John nearly gagged.  "That's too cute for words."

"It is."

"We should make sure he can come down more often," Mary said.

"What he's doing is just as important as what you girls do and they need him," Dawn told her.  "We'll figure out how to make the portal generator work for people."

"I'd go tinker but we don't have the supplies for it," Xander called.

"What're we missing?" Dean asked from his seat reading the manual for his first game.

"The power source is classified and we don't have any here."

"That's probably why Daniel wanted everyone to listen to see if they can find out how demons got it," John said.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "You were in the infirmary with Crissy.  He's going to corner you later."

"Sure."  He shrugged and got back to it.  "I let her use my phone to call her boyfriend.  The slayers have found him and he did manage to escape, barely, with Connor's help, but he's fine and she's happier now.  They're trying to decide if she's staying here until the baby's born or going back to LA."

"She said earlier she's going back once this last issue is solved fully," Dawn told him.

"Good.  I like how she's got the support network out there."  He smirked at her.  "If and when you do."  She shuddered.  "Are we going to have to take special precautions?"

"No clue."

"We'll handle that issue far, far in the future when she's ready for it," John told him.

Xander grinned.  "Better to make plans early than after it's happened.  After all, we had to for her first time.  Haven't we?"

"We have," she said patiently.  "It'll be somewhere off base because you're a nosy big brother."  She gave him a dirty look.  "Now and then you're worse than Buffy about me dating."

"I only talked to the little .... sucker," he said, taking out the word he wanted to use since Mary and a few of the younger girls were in the room.

"Is he the one you called a raping cocksucker?" Mary asked without looking up from her homework.  John spluttered.  Dean choked.

Sam nodded.  "Yeah, him.  Don't say that word again, Mary."

"Yes, Sam."

"He was not!" Dawn defended.

"He's on probation for raping a guy two years ago," Xander said in a sing-song manner.

"He is?" John asked.

Xander nodded.  "He gets off probation this summer."  They shared a look and John smirked where Dawn couldn't see it.  He wasn't going to be coming back to base ever again.  "Horatio helped me do the background check on the new teacher.  She's sweet, had three postings, isn't wanted in any state, has a clean record except for one incident as a juvie that got sealed but didn't look too bad since it only got her community service, and she's divorced but her former wife has the kid."

Dawn shook her head.  "I thought Buffy was paranoid," she muttered.

"It's because we want you to be safe," John said patiently.  "Before you have to prove your self defense training on some back road some night."

"I know but still, way paranoid.  I only took him to the movies.  Clearly I wasn't his type."

Xander shrugged.  "We do it for all you girls."

"Do you do it to the older ones?" she shot back.

He stared at her.  "If they need me to."

She slumped.  "Whatever."

He grinned.  "I could pick one for you."

She shuddered.  "No thank you."

"If you're sure."

"Very."  She went back to her typing.  Buffy would be sympathetic.  She hoped.  Well, maybe Rona instead.  She changed the header and Rona was much more happy to commiserate with her about Xander being an overprotective big brother.  Xander and John shared a smug look.  John was in perfect agreement and thought Xander was doing a good job as a big brother to the girls.

"When do we get to do one on her prom date?" Sam called.

"Straight A student except for three grades in ninth.  Plays two sports, never been in trouble.  His mother's a shrew with a temper.  His father's a factory worker.  He's a nice kid.  He pretends to have manners around the adults but cuts up with his friends at the pizza place or the bowling alley.  Responsible, paid his first and only parking ticket the same day he got it without complaining about the thirty dollar fine for being ten minutes late.  Nothing too bad I could find.  Not even any girls complaining about him on any MySpace pages or anything beyond that he's taking Dawn to the prom," Xander told him.   "That's where the 'she's easy and doing him' rumors are coming from."

Dawn gaped.  "Who said that?"

"Mysty, with two y's, and Amber's little clone in the tenth grade."  He looked at her. "They both decided you *must* be doing him for him to pass over all the cheerleaders and the hotter girls to go with you.  One of the guys put up a comment he had tried to hit on you but you had completely let it pass you by and ignored his come-on attempt."  She snorted.  "He thinks you're gay and he's gay so you're covering his gayness."

"Not hardly.  Which one hit on me?"

"Pitiful boy."

"Ah, him."  She found that guy's site and the link to the other messages, going to search them out.

"If you get suspended for fighting, I will paddle you," John warned.

She looked at him.  "I'm not going to brawl, John."

"Or magicing," Xander warned.

"I'm not, guys.  Really."  She retorted to the current 'Dawn's a slut' comment about her not having spread her legs for anyone yet and by the way, did the girl's friends know she was screwing three of their boyfriends?  She smirked and posted a link to the video the girl had uploaded to YouTube.  She posted it and watched the girl splutter and complain, but she couldn't remove it.  The hits on that video went up since that girl was the queen of popularity at the high school.  She wrote back that maybe he was taking her since she had better things to do with her life than her hair, her nails, and her skin.  He knew what he wanted to do when he graduated, she knew what she wanted to.  They were both very calm and assured of the fact that they had things beyond sports, fashion, and their admittedly nice hair to think about.  Deeper thoughts got you better boyfriends and girlfriends than being easy ever would.  Then she posted it and signed off, going back to her email.

John was watching over her shoulder.  "If she attacks you tomorrow, don't get expelled."

"I won't.  She's going to be slinking into the school tomorrow."  She wrote her prom date an email about what she had done and why so he was warned.  He sent back he hadn't heard that rumor but she was right.  He'd never date anything that shallow.  She beamed and made a study date for the base, warning him Xander was an overprotective big brother but they had a great library and he could use it for his history paper.  He agreed after clearing it with his mother and they were set for Saturday.  "Guys, Paul's coming for some library time on Saturday.  He's got a  history paper."  They all nodded.  "No pouncing."

"Yes, Dawn," Mary sighed, shaking her head.

"He's a nice guy, Mary.  Leave him alone," Xander agreed.  She nodded at that.  Since he said so.  "Hey, Dean, are you trying the commando game or the hunting game first?"


"Did she remember to get you the gun attachment?"

"Yup.  It's in the box."  He went to set it up and get into it.  He'd beat this sucker and the girls would not beat his score.  Ever.

John shook his head.  "I knew he had some bored days."  Brenda grinned.  "It's good  for training."  He gave her a hug.  "Ladies, it's nearly early bedtime."  The younger ones groaned but went to get ready and hit their beds.  Dawn got finished with her email and let Brenda have it before heading to her own room to read for a while.  He looked at Xander.  "Brenda's date?" he asked quietly.  Xander winked and handed him a disc he could run later.  It made him happy the guy was looking out for his girl too.


Xander walked into the principal's office the next morning.  "The girl attack her for proving she was the slut, not Dawn?" he asked.

The principal sighed but nodded.  "Indeed.  What happened?"

"She was spreading rumors that the reason Dawn got the date to the prom was that she's easy.  Dawn's never been that far but yeah."  He sat down, looking at the girls.  The other girl clearly had a worse set of injuries.  "Who started it?"

"She jumped me walking in," Dawn said, blowing to clear the blood bubble in her nose.  "She got me with a book, got a cheap shot to my ribs once.  I put her down and let her struggle.  She caused most of her own."

The principal nodded. "She did.  I'm quite pleased with that response, Dawn."  She smiled.  "You're still in trouble."

"When I got told last night, I posted a comment on her page about how it wasn't me who was the slut, it was her.  Then I posted the link to her YouTube video showing it.  If she hadn't wanted her friends to know that she was doing their boyfriends, then she shouldn't have posted it."

"Good point," he agreed calmly.  "Fighting over a boy...."

Dawn snickered.  "I'm not.  I don't fight over anything that trivial.  Xander's right, that's the stupidest argument in history.  I shot back to correct the assumption I was a slut.  Some of us aren't going to end up on the pole dancing for singles."  Xander shot her a look.  "Please!  Not even you could tip her a five."

Xander shrugged.  "Maybe with implants," he muttered, looking at the principal again, getting a dirty look back.  "She said it and she's right.  She knows my tastes.  She's seen all my former girlfriends."

"Fine.  This does leave us with a problem."

"Is she expelled?"

"No but I do think it would be best if Dawn wasn't here today or tomorrow.  Give the situation time to calm down."

"Dawn didn't start the fight, or fight her back.  She simply put her down and held her down until someone with authority could get her to stop her.  Dawn's also the one who got attacked in this situation.  That makes her the victim.  Just better trained than most of the girls that one goes after."

"True."  He sighed, looking at them.  "I still think she should take at least today off to have her ribs checked and her nose looked at.  I think it's broken."  She nodded at that. "Without me putting a black mark in her permanent record since she was the one attacked."  A shrieking woman was let in.  "Calm down," he ordered.  "She's fine."

"She's horribly injured!  How dare you!" she said, trying to hit Dawn.  Xander hopped up to hold her against the wall.  "Let go of me!"

"You try to hit Dawn again, I'm going to get you back," he warned, staring into her eyes.  "Your daughter started it by attacking Dawn.  Dawn got her down and restrained until an adult could take her and got injured in the process.  Your daughter caused her own injuries and her own issues by starting this issue."

"All your girls are sluts," she sneered. "I saw you buying RID."

"That was for the girls in Cleveland and there are demons who have thick hair they don't always wash.  As for sluts, your daughter posted a video on YouTube showing her sleeping with four of her best friends' boyfriends at once.  Dawn's still a virgin.  I think that pretty well shows which one's a slut."  He let her go.  "Do not touch the girls again."

"Mr. Harris," the principal said calmly.  "Please, let's be calm about this."  The mother tried to hit Dawn again and Dawn knocked her back into the wall then checked her nails with a frown.  "Really, Miss Summers."

"I'll be damned if I'm going to be hit again today.  I'm in enough pain and that's not my scene."

"Mrs. Chambers, please sit down so we can discuss your daughter's suspension for attacking another student as she walked in?"

"She attacked my daughter!"

"I shot back the truth about your daughter trying to ruin my rep for finding a date that I don't have to pressure for sex or worry about being scuzzy.  She's jealous."  The girl tried her and she put her down too then sighed.  "Sir...."

"Come over here, Dawn."  She moved to a seat next to Xander, getting a hug.  He looked at the two hysterical women.  "Perhaps I should call your husband, Mrs. Chambers."  He did that.  "This is Principal Terry.  I need Mr. Chambers at the school for a conference as soon as possible.  No, I'm afraid  his daughter started something that she was unable to finish and now needs a few ice packs," he said dryly.  "Attacked a girl coming in because the girl had shown that the rumors she was spreading was false."  He put him on speaker.  "Your wife and daughter are here, as well as Miss Summers and her guardian, Mr. Harris."

"That's fine.  What did she do, from the top?" he asked.

"She's been spreading rumors that Dawn got her prom date because she's a slut," Xander said.  "I found out and told Dawn last night.  Dawn went to your daughter's MySpace page, where she had been posting the rumors, and shot back that she wasn't a slut, your daughter was a bit free with her affection, and posted the video your daughter had put on YouTube to prove that point.  That's a public, everyone can view it, file sharing site if you didn't know.  I don't know how techie you are."

"I've seen her MySpace page," he admitted.  "This video was of her and?"

"Her and some of her best friends' boyfriends," Dawn told him.  "I posted the link there when I shot back that I'm not a slut.  I'll be damned if I'm ever going to be a slut.  Then I come in this morning and your daughter attacks me with her book as I walk in the doorway.  She managed a cheap shot to my ribs before I could restrain her on the ground and let someone in charge handle it.  She struggled and wailed on herself.  The school's video camera shows her hitting herself in the face.  Then your wife comes in to blame me, tried to hit me twice, and is now telling your daughter how they're going to get me back."

"I see.  Dotty, your side of the story?"

"She has to be giving it out for him.  Why else would he go out with her?" she sneered.

"Gee, I don't know, maybe because I'm not pressuring him for sex and we're friends?  I tutor him in history.  I help him in a few other classes too.  We're buddies and he knows I'm not going to get pushy to make him make bad choices that night like drinking, drugs, sex, any of that.  We both have a future planned out.  Why would we want to go out with someone who can't figure out if college will get her a better husband?"  The mother shrieked and tried to get Dawn again but Xander got in her way.  She managed to scratch him but he didn't even flinch.  She backed away looking very scared of him after that.  "Xander has almost no temper until you threaten one of us," Dawn told her.  "I wouldn't attack Xander again, Mrs. Chambers."

"I agree," the husband said patiently.  "Dotty has how many days of suspension?"

"The next two weeks," the principal said.  "Unfortunately she's tried a few times since we broke it up.  Dawn has only defended herself as far as we could tell."

"You probably made me with that freaky magic shit," Dotty sneered.

Dawn shook her head.  "No ethical practioner would ever do that thanks to the three fold rule, Dotty.  It's like Karma, only multiplied by three for whatever you do.  Beyond that, my magic is much too powerful to ever use it against anything but something seriously magical as well.  Or as my teacher put it, she hopes I don't get a cold and sneeze to blow up something."  Dotty shrank back down.  "Cheap tricks like that are Latisha and she's learned better since then.  I don't have the control to focus it on *one* person and wouldn't anyway.  Why do I need the bad luck?"

"Plus I'd beat you," Xander said.

"He would," she agreed happily.  "I'd be paddled so damn fast I'd be begging for mercy for generations."

The principal smiled.  "He does take a firm hand with you girls."  Dawn nodded at that.

"With so many on one base, a firm hand is needed," Mr. Chambers agreed.  "Apparently I need a firmer one at home.  We'll be discussing this tonight.  Take Dotty home, put her in her room.  Remove her tv, computer, stereo, and everything but her class books, dear.  We will be talking when I get home tonight.  Thank you for letting me know there's a problem, Principal Terry.  Please send the official notice to me at work?"

"Of course.  Thank you for your level-headed approach."

"Not a problem.  I love my wife but she is a bit emotionally high strung."  He hung up.

He looked at Dawn.  "Go home today.  You're not suspended since you only defended yourself.  Should it come to pass that you are fighting and starting it you will get the same punishment."

"He'd beat me then hand me to John."

"Good."  He looked at them.  "We'll let the guards help her gather her locker's things for the two weeks she'll be gone and her gym locker as well so it can be washed."  Xander nodded, shaking his hand before walking Dawn off.  The other one flounced out with the guard.  He winced when he heard Dotty sling another insult at some girl and this time a different girl shrieked and started on her.  He went to break it up.  The guard had them both against the wall and the mother too.  "My office.  Now."  He called the father back since he had a level head.  This time he came down to help remove her himself.  His daughter clearly needed help.


Dawn wandered into the infirmary, nodding at House.  "Stupid slut got me with her book as I walked in the door.  Got a cheap punch to my ribs too.  Same side as I bruised last time."  She hopped up onto a bed.  "I cleared the blood bubble after the nosebleed by gentle blowing but it's broken."

He looked then nodded.  "It is."  He straightened it out, making her hiss and tear up.  "I know."  He smoothed his thumbs over it to make sure there wouldn't be any bumps then got her some tape to put over it.   "Ribs broken, bruised?"

"Sore.  I don't think they're broken."

"We can check."  He took her to the x-ray machine and let her get into position.  The film came back fairly quickly in the digital system they had upgraded to recently.  "Not bruised."  She smiled.  "So, ice pack, heat later."  She nodded. "Ice the nose, princess, and not too much ice cream.  You don't want to be hyper today."

"Yes, House.  Thank you."  She gave him a careful hug and went to the common area.  John gave her a look when she walked past him.  "I hurt and she sucks."

"Girls can be meaner than boys.  What happened to your nose?"

"Slut got me with her science book as I walked in the door.  Got a shot to my ribs too.  I got her down and held her there but she kept beating at herself to bruise herself.  Then her mother tried.  Xander's not happy."  He nodded, giving her a hug.  She went to lay on the couch and watch Judge Judy for a while.  She could nap.  Dean got her an ice pack, earning a smile.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  She expelled?"

"Maybe now.  She attacked one of the other girls on the way to get her stuff with the guard."

"Magical oops?" he asked patiently.

"No.  I don't think I did."

"You didn't," Xander said as he walked in.  "Otherwise my amulet would've lit up."  She smiled at that.  "No, that was her mental problems coming out.  Being escorted out by the guard and slung an insult at one of the other girls she screwed around on.  That girl hit her, she hit her back, and the guard was standing right there.  Plus her mother tried to hit the girl too!"

Dean nodded.  "Clearly mental issues.  Let's hope it doesn't turn into a domestic at home."

"Her daddy runs the grocery store.  He's not like that.  They might end up in the hospital, but he won't beat them."

"Good."  He looked at her.  "Need anything else?"

"Nose hurts," she pouted, putting the ice pack on it.

Xander gave her a hug, then left to make a report on his computer in case anyone asked.  Plus warn Buffy that Dawn had gotten into a girl fight but it was solved and she didn't have to threaten anyone.  Horatio gave him an odd look when he walked in.  "One of the girls spreading slutty rumors about Dawn attacked her after Dawn shot back last night and found her video of her screwing around with her best friends' boyfriends on YouTube."

"If you're going to be a slut, why not show the world," Speed said dryly. "Not the wisest of moves if she wanted to hide it."

"Six of her friends' boyfriends in three videos," Xander said.  "Plus her mother attacked Dawn when she got there too."

"Ah, the legacy of the insane," Stella said from under her desk.  She came up with her earring backing.  "Dawn okay?"

"Broken nose, sore ribs.  Pouting."

She nodded.  "That can happen.  The other girl?"

"Dawn got her down and she beat herself.  Then they were being walked out by the guard and she attacked another girl."

"Someone got something funny from the slutty behavior and it's rotting her brain," Ryan said.  Speed nodded at that, then shook his head quickly.

"Those usually take longer to work," Eric said absently while he read.

"How would you know?" Speed asked.  "Catch one?"

"Hell no," he snorted, looking at him oddly.  "I'm more careful than that."

"Good to know," Horatio said.  He looked at Xander.  "Dawn all right?"

"Could use a few more hugs."

"I'll give her one at lunch," Stella said.  "Every beautiful goddess-like woman has some sort of ho trying to bring her down for being so good."  She got back to work.

Xander did the report and put it into the girls' folder for the Council stuff.  In case anyone ever needed to look at it.


Buffy scowled at the text message she got.  "Who in the hell attacked Dawn?" she demanded once she got Xander.  He explained it to her.  "This girl got what?"  She nodded at that.  It was fair and Dawn being sent home without a reprimand was an okay enough idea to her.  "She good?  Broken nose?  Eww.  Those do suck.  Yeah, I'll call and give her a hug later, Xander.  Thank you for letting me know it was handled."  She hung up and turned to hit a wall, making Connor move very quickly since he had been in the way.  "A slut princess tried to get Dawn in trouble by beating her with a book.  It's probably the only use she had for the book too."

Amber gave her a look.  "Who?"


"The one who thinks Dawn's a slut because she got a good prom date with a guy who's not interested in her because she's a slut."

"Xander said Dawnie shot back at the girl on her MySpace page by posting a video about her and her best friends' boyfriends.  Plural."

"Gee, does she belong in Cleveland too?" Sarabeth joked.

"Hey!" Buffy complained.  "Only some of the girls are like that.  I've never had that much sex.  Even with Riley."

The girls all gave her a hug for never having it that good.  She did date crappy guys who had the bad tendency to be dead or end up dead.

Connor watched the strange girl rituals, looking at Gunn.  "Is that normal?" he whispered. Gunn nodded.  "Should we join in?"

"No, that's girl things, Connor.  Hey, Morgan, are you and Connor still going out tomorrow?"

"Oops, yup."  She came over to pounce Connor.  He understood that and enjoyed it.  It made him happier and quit being so confused.  He could ask Charlie or Don later about the strange girl things.

Buffy sighed.  "I need that.  I miss pouncing and being pounced.  Gunn, don't you know any cute guys?"

"I know a few but none are single.  Sorry, Buffy.  Ask Lorne."

"I could do that."  She went to find him and ask him.  "Lorne, I need a good boyfriend."

"You sure do, sweetcheeks, and I don't know anyone off the top of my head."  He gave her a pat.  "Morgan and Connor again?"  She pouted but nodded.  "You'll find someone.  I'm sure you will.  Maybe one of the cute agents or someone?"  She beamed at that and went to see if Don knew any cute, single agents.  Lorne didn't think she'd mind dating a harmless demon but he wasn't certain so he wouldn't set up that blind date.  And hey, Don Epps' friend and coworker who was in on vacation could use a good pounce.  He was just Buffy's type for a quick thing.  That'd make her quit pouting, him quit pouting about his injury, and Cordette quit pouting because he hadn't been able to work out with her.  It was good for everyone and the world.


Buffy smiled and waved at the so very cute guy she now had a crush on.  "Thanks, Ian.  Have a good week going after the next bastard."  The portal shut and Dawn gave her a hug.  "Nose okay?"

"Better.  Who's that?"

"One of Don Epps' friends.  He needed some fun.  I needed some fun."

Dawn held up a hand.  "I don't need details of slamming against the wall sex.  Thanks anyway."  She smiled.  "It all solved?"

"It is and Cordette threatened me not to hurt him.  She's so cute!"

"She is."  She nodded.  "Giles is mumbling at things."

"Sure, I'll go make him have fun too.  Maybe he can find someone nice to date."

"I think Giles is waiting on that until the base he had built his life around comes back," Dawn said quietly.  Buffy frowned.  "Think about it.  It's like you not being a slayer.  He was a watcher again and then they all died.  He was left to rebuild what he had before."

"I didn't think about that," she admitted.  She went to hug her watcher.  "How's it going, Giles?"

"We may need to add more than one room."  He smiled at her.  "Did you find someone nice?"

"I did but he's on fugitive retrieval.  We agreed we could pounce each other now and then for fun but I'm not clingy and he's very good.  Even if he did humor me that first night until I beat him arm wrestling."  She gave him another hug.  "You know, Dawn pointed out to me that this thing happening is like me not being a slayer anymore."  He stared at her.  "The thing that you built your life around going boom?"

He sighed, nodding.  "It may be but I'm making good progress and it does have to be done."

"True, but you don't need to spend every single second on it, Giles.  You could talk to us."

He nodded.  "I fear I have forgotten why we do these things.  Thank you for helping, Buffy."

"Welcome."  She kissed him on the forehead and went up to her room to have naughty thoughts about him.

He smiled at her back.  She was much better now that she had found some life again.  Plus she had come out with something wise to help him.  It had clearly been good since she was thinking deeper thoughts.


Ian went limp against a wall.  "She's got a good pounce on her," he told Don, who was smirking.  "She babbles and she's cute.  Not my type, but she's a strong girl."

"She's been a slayer for a long time.  She has the same sort of play hard mentality you do," he said dryly.  "I thought it was cute that Cordette tried to protect you from her."

"She's adorable and I'd let her do it again."  They went back inside to talk to the young slayer, who was pouting.  "She didn't hurt me, Cordette.  We agreed she had a job to do and I travel too much to be hers."

"Like Abby and Rodney?"

"Who?" Don asked.

"Rodney, from the Mr. Jack's project."

"Oh, McKay.  Yeah, I heard about him and Abby.  Dawn said they're gaggingly cute together, but you're right, it's the same thing.   He's...wherever and she's down here."

"Do you like her?" she asked him.

"I can see us doing what we did but not dating.  We don't like the same sort of movies.  She likes guns more than I do in movies."

She nodded. "I guess I can see that.  Not that I understand the movie thing.  I will some year," she sighed.

"When you're at least fifteen," Don assured her.  She pouted.  "Tough.  Dad's trying to make it twenty."

"Fine."  She grinned at Ian.  "Are you too tired to work on my crossbow with me?  Don has sucky aim sometimes."

"No, I'm not too tired for that."  She led him out to where she had targets set up and her little stash of weapons.  They settled in to work on her accuracy.  She'd need it some day.  From what he heard she wouldn't be alone but she'd need it.  He might need one to get Buffy out of his pants the next time so he'd better practice too.  Xander would get him if he shot her with a gun but a crossbow might be permitted and not get him beaten by the Slayers' Protector.

The End.

to part 29

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