Demon Criminal Investigative Services: To Slay Or Not To Slay

Dean looked at the girls working out then grimaced, shaking his head.  "Not like that," he called.  He walked over.  "Your opponents will be stronger, faster, and probably taller than you are," he told them.  Matt Sheppard got out of his way.  "You are all gifted with extra speed, agility, grace, and strength.  Use it.  Find your own individual style and let's make the most of what you were given so you don't die faster."

Dawn pushed her hair back.  "Dean, that's a great sentiment, but most of these girls are learning the basics.  Most of us haven't had a lot of training.  Xander had to sneak and give me what little I got because my sister decided someone would always protect me.  The other girls were training but mostly with watcher who had not a clue what to do to do that.  The ones with the great training are in the coma in the infirmary."

"You're not a slayer?" Matt asked her.

"No, I'm Buffy's little sister and a witch in training," she said dryly.  "I have to take the same lessons, Xander said so."

"It's not a bad idea.  It'll keep the boys off your ass," Dean agreed.  He looked at Matt.  "Are they ready to move onto the real training of their gifts?"

"Maybe in another month.  They've gotten through all the basic forms.  They're learning their own strengths right now.  Which will help them later if they want to pick a different fighting style."  A tall brunette young woman walked in.  "Just found?" he asked.  "Or a new agent."

"Nah, I'm Faith."  She smiled and shook his hand then Dean's hand.  "Hey, cutey."

"Dean Winchester."

"Heard your family had a clue," she said with a grin.  "What's the sitch?"

"Moving them from the basics everyone can do into slayer training," Dean told her.

Faith nodded.  "Then let's give a practical demonstration.  Girls, move back.  Hey, D."

"Hey, Faith.  Xander insisted."

Faith nodded.  "Good!  B should've been teaching you all along.  Things come for the family of slayers.  That's the only good reasons the council had to take us girls."  She looked at one young one.  "You can sit back and watch too."

"Will I grow up like you some day?"

She smirked at her.  "We'll have to see about that, pumpkin.  You might grow up to be a good girl, like Buffy was."  She nodded and sat next to Dawn to lean on her. "Okay, let's rumble, boys."

Matt looked at her. "I've never tested you."

"Consider it now."  She attacked and Dean came in to help defend Matt, who managed to block her shot but not by much.  They were doing good with the standard moves but then Faith switched so it was like she was fighting a vamp.  Faster, stronger, moving so she was keeping up with them.  Matt was tripped but Dean kept up for a bit longer.  She smiled when they were both down and panting.  "That's the slayer's gifts in action," she said, turning around to look at the girls.  "That's why you learn what you can.  That was a nice fight.  I've had fights like that that've lasted over forty minutes.  So you train, that way you don't die."

One girl raised her hand.  "If they can't do what we can, how will they train us?"

"We'll get you to the point where you're better than us then let you spar with the other girls," Matt told her.  "The same as I teach you something and make you fight with them."  That got a nod.  "Faith also used multiple styles."  He stood up and Dean heaved himself up too.  "The more you know, the less chance you have of violating Xander's first rule.  So let's get up and go again while Faith watches.  Those she say can move on go to Dean next so he can start on the hunting training while I work on the faster skills."  They nodded and got up to show off for them.  He looked at Faith.  "Your overhand strike exposed a weak spot," he said quietly.  "You never guard your chest, just your face, and you nearly tripped yourself."

"I'm tired.  I just got in from Cleveland last night," she admitted.  "I know I suck at some things.  Buffy I am not and she's the better fighter."

"She's still in her coma," Dean told her.  He pulled two girls out, putting them against each other.  Different sized but the same style of how they blocked and fought.  He moved another set together as well.  "How many of these are on the active roster?"

"Anyone over seventeen, maybe some of the sixteen-year-olds if they volunteer," Matt told him.  "Most of them were decently enough trained by their former Watchers.  Some less than others.  One had a private teacher."

Dean nodded.  "It can only help.  At the higher level they can teach other the special moves they know in case they become handy."  That got a nod.  "But you've done great with the younger set, Sheppard."

He smirked.  "Xander started it and they're motivated.  Honestly, they're not bad kids.  Even if they do squeal and think your brother's their next pin up."  Dean snickered but nodded.  "They'll make it for as long as they can.  Even the little ones."  He caught one that was tripped.  "What do you do when you fall?"  She rolled and got back up to get her partner back for that.  "I want to move Dawn to the normal people classes.  She could get hurt in here."

Faith nodded.  "We can talk to X about that.  The new girl's fourteen but her daddy was bomb squad.  She's fit and might have a clue.  She's dropping trow in her room."  She went to find her missing chick, finding her lost and in the caf.  "Eat after PT."  She led her back there.  "This is Gloria."

"Matt Sheppard, basic self defense trainer.  Had any?"

"A bit from my father."

"Good, jump in.  Let's see how you go."  She went to jump in against Dawn, who backed off and shook her head. "She's not a slayer, Gloria.  Her sister is and she's a witch in training."

"They exist?" she asked Dawn, who changed her shirt so it was a better color for her, making Dean snicker.  "I guess they do," she admitted, looking down at her shirt.  "Neat, thanks.  Couldn't find the right color."  One of the older girls pounced her and she fought back, bringing her down to cuffing position.  They got up and did it again and this time the other slayer was a bit better trained but she was sneakier.

"Try me," Dean ordered.  She came over to fight against him and it was good.  He was better, more sneaky, and more trained.  He pulled back, nodding.  "She's the base level for hunting training," he told Matt, who nodded.  "Sneaky is good," he assured her.  "Beating them by however you can is the key."

"I try."

"Good.   I'm training you as a hunter while Matt here trains the girls in how to be good enough.  You see me after him  and before dinner after this.  He'll have you for an hour then you get me."  She nodded and he went to pick out a few other girls.  He looked at Faith's choice.  "She still trips and she's young," he pointed out.  "Xander won't let her go into the field.  Give her time to get better."

Faith nodded, looking at the younger girl.  "I can agree to that.  I know he wants them at least seventeen to go to a hot spot or handle an issue."  That got a nod from Matt.  "You're...."

"Thirteen in two weeks," she said with a cute smile.

"Then next year you can join the hunting class once you've proven to me you have the skills," Dean told her.  She nodded and went back to it.  "Dawn."  She trotted over.  "You're good and getting better.  Matt and I both think you should be working with the other normal people."

She shook her head.  "I'm herd mommy."

"You have your own classes," Dean pointed out.  "It'll give you an hour to do those."

She grimaced.  "Then I'd have to take lessons later."

"They do theirs in three groups.  It'd get you around the more adult people too," Matt called over.  He looked at her. "That way we don't have to worry about gifts that could hurt you."  She nodded at that.  "That works for me.  There's the group right after dinner.  Join it tomorrow night."  She nodded.  "Good.  Shower, girls."  They went to do that.  He smiled at the new one.  "It's common after you've been working out."

"I took one this morning and I'm not sweaty yet.  Is it cold in here?"  Matt nodded.  "What other skills am I learning?"

"Anyone over twelve qualifies on the range with Benny Ray."

"Crossbows?" Faith asked.

"A gun's an easier first step," Dean told her.  "Then crossbow training?"  He looked at Matt, who nodded.  "Any he's gotten there?"

"Two with Xander's help.  He's been using staffs with them and blades as well."  That got a nod from them.  "Faith, I'll expect you to help him.  He's got a bad case right now too."

"Of course," she snorted.  "Do the terror twins in LA get a break?"

"They said they don't want one," Matt said with a small shrug.  "He offers once a month."

"I'll talk to the idiots," she promised.  She nudged Dean then the new girl.  "Dinner after this?"  Matt nodded.  "Let's go graze then we'll check in with X-Man and his wild and wacky issues around the world.  Is that brunette with the hair your brother, Dean?"

"Yeah.  He's not that easy, Faith."

"I could use a challenge," she teased, walking off with Gloria.

Dean shook his head.  "Five bucks said Sammy spanks her at least once this week."

Matt laughed.  "Sucker bet.  Xander said he was."  They smirked and went to clean up for dinner as well.


Daniel looked at his stuffed, complacent, tired two head people.  "We have a few issues I'm seeing based on what I saw at my last posting."

Xander raised his hand.  "Dawn's looking at magical wards to protect the base from invasion.  We're also looking at raising the guard contingent with something that can detect magic or aggressive demons."

"That's good and part of one of my points.  What other arrangements do you think we need, Xander?"

"Why didn't we do this before?" Tony asked.

"I told you Dawn was looking at wards."

"I thought you meant of the court.  Like foster kids?"

"No.  Like protections to keep the bad things out."  Dean strolled in with Dawn.  "Problems or issues?"

"Issues.  Huge issues.  I can do the sensing spell to find any that the Bringers missed, but we have no way of getting to them."

"I'm working on that.  I'm hoping Matt can recommend or something.  I'd send one of the senior girls who we all thought was ready, maybe Mandy or Crissy, with that team.  The next?"

"We have a new head's up on the LA situation.  It will be an invasion."  Daniel hissed.  "We'll need the National Guard and all the girls."

"No way to stop it?" Tony asked.

She shook her head.  "Secret society doing bad things in and among Wolfram and Hart.  We've been looking over the problems they've caused but they've set it in motion."

Xander considered it.  "That portal thing.  Can you do it to move a lot of us here there?"  She nodded.  "What sort are we looking at?"

"Opening a gateway," Dean told him.  "Whatever comes, comes."

"Then we'll need to shut down the press there immediately," Daniel said.  "How much of a head's up can you give us?"

"None," Dawn said.  "We'll be waiting on a call.  We have some of the new sensors Abby worked up spread around the usual spots.  One's been tampered with by the white witch brigade out there.  I called to talk to the head of their coven and they said it's a good idea but they doubted it'd be where they gathered.  So I pointed out they weren't the only coven that gathered there and she got offended again.  Sorry, I tried.  The satanists that use that area are actually nicer."

"Are they calling or just practicing?"

"For now, practicing.  I talked to one of them through Crissy and she said they're not looking to bring anything back, just to get out of the rat race and be there for themselves instead of their groups.  Yuppie age satanists."  Tony shuddered.  "Two are agents of some sort she said.  If we're lucky, it'll be in an outlying area.  If not, we're screwed because the only stable portal areas in LA are the gateway to the Oracles, which is downtown and underground, or somewhere in Wolfram and Hart's building."

"I can start planning for that contingency.  How many of the older girls will we have to count on, Dean?"


Xander winced.  "Can we get the older ones up to the point where they can guard?  I know it's a long shot but the last I heard it'd be in May sometime we think."

"Still is," Dawn agreed.

Dean considered it. "If we can use weapons other than stakes, yes."

"I don't care what we have to use as long as we defeat it," Xander said honestly.  "I can't and won't expect most of the guys here to do stakes or swords.  I would expect guns."

"I'll get with Benny Ray about ammo then.  Do we want to go exotic?  Something like a flare?  Something to set them on fire?  Or simple, plain, blessed silver with some rock salt backups?"

"Stop by my place later with Benny Ray.  I've been working on some speciality ammo and I need someone to do a practical field test.  I can't expect the guys to carry holy water vials but I have managed to do a hollow tip with holy water inside," he said at Tony's look.  That just got a nod.  He looked at Dean again.  "Might as well sit in since Danny's been seeing some problems.  Dawn, the wards?  Not to be pushy."

"Six months before I can complete them.  I've done the alarm spells around the prison.  I've warded both the gates.  The infirmary.  Now I'm doing the outer fence and it's going to sap my strength for days on end while I'm working on that."

"Sectioning it?" Tony asked.

"Then you'd have panels, and it'd be like panel armor.  You could have someone strong enough to break the seam," Dawn told him, sitting on Tony's other side.  "If I'm doing the border fence, I need to do the whole fence at once."

"Do it from gate section to gate section," Danny said.  "That would minimize the problems with seams by keeping them under view."  She nodded at that.  "Then, later on, when you're stronger or able to take some time to do it, we can layer another one over them that covers that area.  I might be able to get us a few helping hands with some technology that could help around here."  Tony beamed.  "Do zat's work on demons?"

"No," Xander said.  "Deke said so.  Not unless energy hurts them.  Works well stopping magic users though, completely obliviates the spell going on."

Danny nodded.  "Good to know.  Dawn, if we had to, how many witches do we need?"

"We need at least one other good *trained* one because sooner or later we're going to run into a summoning circle or something.  I'm good but I'm in training.  I'll probably be stronger than Rosenburg ever could've been, even the time she went dark but I'm still training long distance with the coven in Devon, England."

"They're the only ones we know we can trust with her," Xander said at Dean's curious look.  "They helped when Willow went off the deep end out of grief.  They're good.  Giles trusted them.  I don't know of any locally that could train Dawn since she's damn powerful."

"Why?" Dean asked.  "I know there's some that're born strong but usually you work up to those levels."

She sighed and looked at him.  "Remember the Glorificus crap?"

"Unfortunately we heard about that.  Yeah."

"She was looking for an artifact."

"Sammy said she was looking of the Key.  That was in the first year I got him back.  So?"

"The monks that had the key put it in me to hide it from her when they created me and made me Buffy's little sister," she said quietly.

Dean frowned.  "Can you access it?"

"I can but I can't control anything of it.  Technically I could do worse than Willow did when she went dark that time after Tara died.  Only mine would be white magic destroying the world.  That's why I need a *good*, trustworthy witch I can train with.  All we knew of is the Devon coven.  Abby knows a few but she said they're more like homebody witches.  They can do protection spells but they're not focused on them the way I need to be to save my own ass."

"That's above and beyond being the sister of a slayer," Xander told him.  "Which is why she's in self-defense and I was working on it behind her sister's back, even though Buffy said she didn't need it."

"Every girl should have it to keep the boys who want too much off their asses," Dean told him.  Dawn nodded.  "Okay, so issue number three thousand is to find her a closer teacher, one who might help us if we needed to?"  Xander nodded.  "Any ideas?"

"They've been looking.  We have no clue.  They won't talk to me.  One of them said I'm a usurper so I sicced Wes on them.  They decided I'm not and someone had to take over since he couldn't, but I'm still not being talked to by them."

"Someone had to protect those girls.  Wes was needed in the field.  The other guy was a research guy.  Of course you needed to protect them.  They already trusted you," Tony assured him.  Xander gave him a grateful smile.  "If we ever get them to wake up down there, we'll make sure Giles knows.  That way no one can throw a fit."  He looked at her.  "Let me ask around.  I've been seeing who handled those sort of cases and if there's any sort of witch that can handle these issues they might know.  The one time I talked to anyone over there for you she was sneering that we're doing it this way.  Personally I don't like that."

Dawn nodded.  "I can understand that.  Thank you, guys.  I'm trying."

"Willow trained herself with Giles trying to stop her," Xander said.  "It's a practicality I don't like because you're good and you're ethical, but even you have mood swings and pouty moods and all that.  We all do.  A coven is safer because it gives you people to watch out when you go unreasonable."

She nodded.  "Exactly.  I want that safety net.  I'm in no way ready to go solo."

Danny nodded.  "Then I'll add that to my list.  I can ask too, see if anyone knows any."  He added that to his list on his desk.  "About the patrol creatures, Xander.  Are we talking cats?  I know they're rumored to do psychic and magical things."

"Some cat breeds can sense magic," he agreed.  "We'd have to set one in the gate houses though and one guard's allergic.  Maybe have the girls adopting a few for the base isn't a bad idea?  I've been asked about pets and if we get guard dogs they'll become pets."

Tony nodded at that.  "They'll coo, put pretty bows on it, all that."

"They'll understand if you tell them no," Dawn said dryly.

"If you say so," Tony shot back with a smirk.  "You can't tell me some of the younger ones won't."

"Are there any animals that would definitely help?" Danny asked Xander.

"Yes, one of the classes of hellhound could but I doubt the guards would be willing to work with them."

"That's my second issue.  If the best candidate for a job is from a demonic clan that has warriors but they're not inclined to attack humans, over a human that needs at least two years of work to get up to speed, what are we doing?"

"We had to get people to accept harmless," Tony said honestly.  "Peaceful would be a good thing though.  I mean, as long as they showed that they were peaceful.  They might balk at them being on investigative teams at first.  But maybe someone like a demon doc, a few guards, that stuff?  An easy, slow transition?"

"There's a few clans that could augment the security guards," Xander said, looking at Dean.  Who shrugged.  "You haven't run into a Rognoc clan member?"

"Could have.  No idea if we did.  We focused a lot more on spirits and natural manifestations like werewolves going rogue."

"We have one locally," Tony warned him.  "He bought werewolf blood and injected himself with it.  We had to pound the concept of safe enclosure into his head one morning.  The same day we caught a werewolf hunter who had over sixty kills."

Dean winced.  "I won't lie and say we haven't when necessary because they're terrorizing people, but my family doesn't go after them for parts or trophies."

"Hunting due to problems is what we do," Danny told him.  Dean relaxed at that.  "I only have an issue with your income generation method."

Dean grinned.  "Then pay us."

"Next payday is next week," Xander told him.  Dean nodded at that. "Bank in town will cash it and we usually go out in mass groups."  He looked at Danny.  "If they're the best guys or girls for the job, then more power to them.  We'll have to get the others used to it.  I like Tony's idea of starting with innocuous...  Sorry, Tim's word, safe, non-threatening demons at first.  I can see seeing if we can help with the security detail."

Danny nodded.  "That could help us?"  Dawn nodded quickly.  "Would there be demons who can lay wards easier than you?" he asked her.

"As long as they don't realize what I am and I can link into them, yes," she said firmly.

"We need something to let the rest of us know something's going on," Dean countered.  "Some sort of tell or alarm that'll hit everyone."  She grimaced but nodded.  "Not to say you won't, but even you have got to sleep.  Or you might be out of town for some reason."

"I know."  She looked at him.  "We can ask Mandy and Crissy to ask a few friends in LA.  There's a bar owner who holds a peaceful neutral area and he might know who."

"Good!" Danny agreed happily.  "Because my third point is you girls.  Xander, education stuff?  CPS stuff?  Do we have custody papers even?"

"Yes and no.  They were all registered in England as wards of the Watchers Council.  When we settled here I went to CPS myself, before they could say a word, and told them the truth.  The Watchers picked these girls for special education based on bloodline gifts, them showing certain genetic advantages, and were training them.  Then I showed them the video tape of the building exploding and what happened in Sunnydale.  I told them half of these girls came out of that incident.  Which they did.  So they know that we have them.   I explained how they were in danger from the same things that took out Sunnydale and that's why removing them from their families was done.  The CPS worker snorted and said they wanted better soldiers and I agreed but pointed out I wasn't like that and I'd be damned if I wouldn't kill myself if I turned into one of them.  She checked what we had, said it'd be okay.  Technically we are counted as home schooling the girls.  Yes I know we need more classes but I'm doing good right now to make sure they all make it to what they have," he babbled.

Tony looked at him but Dean said it.  "Most people need to breathe," Dean complained.

"Abby can do that," Tony said with a grin.  "She can even do it in science speak."

Danny laughed.  "Babbling is good."  He looked at Xander.  "So we're cool on all that?"

"We probably need to get them higher on the education stuff and I'm considering about sending them off base to the local public school in town.  They were complaining enrollment was down and that'd give them a boost.  But to be honest, we've got three girls whose only language is their native one and an off-shoot of Latin that the Watchers use.  We'd drive them nuts.  We'd have to get them out of PE so no one realized or got hurt.  I have no idea what we want to do about that."

Danny considered it.  "Let's work on getting the girls into the regular school system next year.  It's early February.  School starts in September.  That should give us enough time to get the ESL classes going very well.  Plus get the girls to a standard that's normal.  It'd also let them have some normal interaction, like dating maybe."

Xander whimpered.  "I'll have to have the sex talk, won't I?"

"Abby can," Dawn promised.  "I asked her.  She did good."

He reached over Tony to hug her.  "I love you."

"I know you do.  Get off before you wrinkle my prettiness."  He let her go.  "Me too I'm assuming?"  Danny nodded.  "Okay.  Xander, the Watcher money and stuff?"

"Set up," he said happily.  "All set up!  That means we can even afford to buy someone to go find the other girls once you find them."  He beamed at her.  "So when you do the spell, I want Sheppard there."

"Yes, dear.  I can do that."  She looked at Danny.  "We'll figure it out."

"Good.  That's what I expect."  He smiled.  "Go hit the sack."  She grimaced but went to do that.  He looked at Xander.  "You've done good for not doing it before and stepping in, Xander.  I'd have screwed up and turned them all into book nerds by now."  He grinned at that.  "Plus the cases on top of it.  I'm very impressed.  You're still not in command though so quit bullying the guards?"

"They needed it."

"They did," Tony admitted.

"I'm getting us a good, competent head of security.  One that'll deal with all that.  I like our present one but even he agreed that he's too lax and he won't care if the boss is fair."  They grinned at him.  "Okay.  Do the girls need anything?"

"Shopping probably but I refuse to go to a mall with twenty teenage girls.  Let Dean and Sammy so they get practical clothes instead of short skirts like Buffy did."

"She did?" Tony asked.

"That outfit in my wall picture?  She fought in that a number of times."

Tony grimaced.  "How?"

"She's Buffy.  They can do that."

"Uh-huh."  He looked at Danny.  "Any other problems?"

"No, those were my three worries for the most part.  Do we have any hires that we're hoping might show up in the next year?"

"Filing cabinet under wanted hires."  Danny got it out, looking at each profile sheet.   He looked at Dean.  "Are you going to need anything to help the girls and us?"

"More compact manual for identification."

"We were working on one but I'd have to have Willow's laptop and it's in LAPD custody after the explosion," Xander said.  "So were all their things."

"We can get that for you," Tony promised.  "Would hers have books?"


"Decent."  He went to make that call from his desk.   They could use it.

Dean looked at Xander.  "You've done good for being grunt level and planning support, Xander.  Relax.  You hired for quality and you got it.  Let us handle some of it.  You're doing ten jobs and have people to do three of them at least.  You don't have to do the girls' range times.  Benny Ray does that.  I can do that.   Sammy can even do that.  We can handle some of the things and if that Giles guy wakes up and starts to complain we'll pop him in the nose or something."  He nodded at Danny.  "Your people need the same demonology lessons.  At least for some things.  Plus the profiler I heard we have somewhere."

"DC.  He's on call if we need him."

"Then we need to get him the books too," Xander sighed.  "Do we have more than one copy in the library?"

"No."  Dean smirked.  "But Sammy was talking to a friend of our father's who moved that way after he left the service.  He said that the news showed Scotland Yard or whoever confiscating stuff from the old building."  Xander looked so hopeful.  "So when you go, ask."

"I hadn't even though to ask because they'll want to know what happened."

"Like with CPS, show them," Dean said bluntly.  "They've got someone over there that handles it I'm sure."

"Wes might know.  Thanks, Dean."

"Welcome."  He nodded at Danny.  "Anything you need us to work on with the guys?"

"Not yet.  I do think we need some females.  That may be a gender bias to not want to deal with it."

"We probably asked the wrong people," Dean admitted.  "Let me make some calls, see if any of our people know someone to help Dawn."  He walked off, heading back to his and Sammy's shared apartment.  "Call Missouri," he said as he walked in.

"She already called; said she doesn't know anyone personally who can help Dawn but she's heard rumors so she's going to try a contact that might be mutual or able to get to her to see if she'd at least talk to our girl."  He came out of the kitchen with a sandwich.  "Why?"

"Dawn was born a very powerful witch."

"Oh."  He winced.  "How powerful?"

"She can probably destroy us all if she sneezes and the only teachers we have so far are a bit elitist and in England.  Possibly associated with the old Watchers Council."

"Oh, joy.  Well, if they know, they'll tell her.  Anything else?"

"Told Xander what you heard.  They were talking about some additions to the security stuff around here.  Wards and the like and some beasts that would be able to help with the patrolling.  We talked about the upcoming apocalypse a bit.  Not good news. We'll be having an all hands situation."

"That bad?"  He took a bite.

"They're talking opening a gateway invasion, Sammy.  We need to get the older girls up to date and you need to help research that magical coma shit."

Sam nodded. "Already started on it.  All they know so far is little but I found a few spells that might tell us more if Dawn can cast them."

"Good!  How much more?"

"It might tell us if it's demonic related or not.  All we know is that some Watchers did it.  They could've used anything or contracted it out."  He ate another bite.  "We might also be able to see if there's a physical trigger needed.  If so we might be able to start waking up the girls."

"If so, we need to keep that Giles guy and Buffy from sniping at Xander.  They wanted him to retire and be a normal guy."  Sam nodded once and ate another bite.  "Not the first time from what Dawn told me.  It got to the point where Xander had to laugh and point out she didn't have anyone else.  That was about an hour before the explosion."

"Then we'll handle it.  I'm also working with Faith on what a field manual should look like."

"That'd be handy.  We need to teach the agents and the guy in DC that's going to profile for us if we need it."

"Let's hope we have a few weeks before we need it so I can get things settled then."  He finished his sandwich and went back to his computer search for information while Dean settled in to make sure all their weapons were clean and able to use at a moment's notice.  "I'm emailing Bobby.  When's the apocalypse in LA?"

"May sometime."

"May sometime.  Are we moving to LA?"

"No, Dawn said she can move us somehow."

Sam blinked.  "That takes a lot of magic."  Dean looked at him.  "She's that strong?"  He nodded.  "Good to know."  He typed that into the message but kept it hidden and mostly in code.  "Anything else get discussed?"

"The girls are going to attend public school starting this fall if possible."

"Good.  They can use a bit of normal.  The older ones might even get to crush on people their own age.  Because if the thirteen-year-old pinches me on the butt again I'm going to smack her."

"Faith did it for you earlier."

Sam smiled.  "She was kinda nice."  He went back to his searching after sending that email.


Xander was walking around the area outside the fence that night.  He needed to defrag in a more natural setting and calm down without cameras watching him. Things were moving too fast and they were finding a lot of problems that the basic plans he could do weren't covering.  No one was blaming him but they all knew he wasn't meant to run anything.  Be a field general but not an overall general that did paperwork and stuff.  Hell, Tony still had to help him with his reports.  He kept walking, enjoying the cold night air and the quiet crunch of snow under his feet.  He found a small trail and frowned, following it.  The footprints looked familiar but they were animal sized and shaped. He decided to sneak and see if he could figure out what it was.  It had paws.  It wasn't a hunting cat but it was the right size for one.  He found where it was standing and stared.  "He-Man's cat and He- Man next to it," he muttered.  He moved into the open.  "Morning," he said in the most common demon language he knew.

"You're noisy," the man replied in the same language.  The cat stared at him.  "Do not bite him."

Xander moved closer.  "I was out thinking when I ran into her footprints.  Why are you out here?"

"It's a free world still yet," he countered dryly, staring at him.  "You would be?"

"Xander Harris, Slayer's Council."

The man hissed.  "I had hopes that the abominations they created were not the fluxes we felt locally."

Xander snorted.  "That is the DCIS base.  You are?"


"Meaning forward scout.  Are you here to scout or to figure out what's going on?  Because we will not hurt those who mean others no harm."

"As I have heard."  He turned to look at him. "Your fences are weak.  The girls are all young and untried."

"Not all.  The older ones have combat experience.  The fact that some are young was because of what happened in Sunnydale.  We're working on them.  As for the fences, we're working on them too.  We had things to set up first.  Not like I can pull more witches out of thin air."

The guard laughed.  "True.  You know of the problems coming in the city by the ocean?"

"The one in May?  Yes.  We're preparing now."

"It will not be a good day to die."

"The slayer's first rule is don't die because no day is a good day to die," he countered.

The guard looked at him.  "You are strong.  You need training."

"Shit happens."

The guard laughed louder.  "Indeed.  Usually when you don't want it to after eating at Bulgosi's in the next village."  He held out a hand.  Xander hesitated but shook it. "You're scared of us?"

"I still can't tell if your intentions are peaceful.  Too much is new."

He nodded. "That is reasonable."

Xander looked at the cat then at him.  "We were talking earlier about talking to peaceful clans who could help augment our security patrol.  Are there any nearby?"

"A few of us who aren't a clan.  Nothing too large.  We travel mostly."

"Then we'll ask around the courts in LA.  Should there be problems, come to us.  We will investigate no matter which side, human or demon, started it."

"I will let that be known.  I would worry about that witch.  She seems tired by her wards."

"She's young.  Her teacher is missing.  She does what she can and we help."

"Then I would let her bring them down for a while.  She tied herself into it."  Xander groaned.  He nodded.  "It is sensible."

"Are there those who can help with that?"

"Not locally.  You moved well away from all centers of demonic activity."

"I think that was the point.  To keep our people safe from those who would protest that we solve cases no matter who starts things.  I've heard that there's already demons who dislike it because we would look at them and humans both for causing problems when they happen."

"There's always someone discontent to have the light of justice shined on them," Prorti agreed.  The cat yawned and nudged his hand.  "I know.  We'll go soon."  He looked at him.  "The jail is well done.  Noticeable but well done."

Xander smiled.  "As things go on we'll make it less noticeable.  Right now, we have few prisoners.  As it expands on both sides, we'll deal with that issue.  We're new but we have good people."

The guard nodded.  "Then I'll leave you with a warning, young one.  There are those that still watch over your girls."

"I know they hate me."

"Not at the moment.  They more look on with disfavor at some things that have been wrought."

"The spell had to be done to defeat the First Evil.  She had no idea it'd activate all of them as far as I know.  Just the ones there for the battle.  We deal with the hand we're dealt."

The guard nodded.  "You could also pray for guidance."

"I tried that.  They sent me Anyanka last time to be my girlfriend."  He walked off laughing, the cat following him.  Tim woke up and asked why he was talking to a spirit that was following the demon cat.  "Because messengers are in many forms," he said wisely, sending up a prayer to get him help with the girls so they wouldn't die, wake the other slayers up, and to find Willow so she could fix the spell.  Or maybe help him find a way to fix the spell.  There was no need to have so many slayers and such young ones.  Then he went back to his walk.  He still had to clear his mind and Tim was quiet while he did it at least.


In LA two blue skinned individuals looked up then smirked.  "That would be helpful," one agreed, looking at her brother, who nodded.

"Indeed.  Plus worthy of the balance."

"But which way to do it?"

"Waking the older. The uncalling will be found eventually."  He walked off to talk to the Powers for the both of them.  It was a good plea.


In another part of LA a box in a basement stirred.  No one was watching it.  No one was sure what was going on.  No one would realize it when the remains inside, the few drops of blood on a shirt worn during a battle earlier, heated up and the magic wove through it.  It'd be hours before anyone realized something had happened.


Xander walked into the slayer's hall the next morning, seeing an unfamiliar face.  Then he smirked.  "Long nap?"

She turned, staring at him.  "What are you doing here?" she demanded.

"I'm in charge of here," he said dryly.  "Because no one else is alive.  The other Watchers that were left were the ones who bombed the building."  She sat down, making horrified, squeaky noises.  "Welcome to reality.  Wes is in Cleveland and we're the last two.  Who do you want to do it?  Is Giles up?"  She shook her head. "Buffy?"

"Six of us woke up earlier," she said weakly.  "We're trying to figure out where we are."

Xander called someone.  "It's Xander.  A few of the girls woke up.  We have five wandering around somewhere.  Bring them to me please?  I'm in the sitting area by the classrooms."  He hung up and hauled her up, pointing.  "Sit on the furniture.  The floors are cold."  He headed off.  "Let me get the other girls up and moving."  He opened the door to the stairway.  "FOOD'S GETTING COLD!"  He got out of the way of the stampede.  "Morning," he called after them, going to wake up the last few who hadn't been down.  He found one of the newly awoken talking with one of the older girls.  "Yes, I'm mean and evil," he said sarcastically.  "That's why I gave you a room to sleep in that has heat.  Go eat, we'll explain it to her and the others in a few."  She nodded, going to get everyone else up and head out.  He looked at the girl, shaking his head.  "Conference in the sitting area.  You can eat in a few."  She nodded, heading that way.  He got down there to find Tony had the other four with him. "Thank you."

"Welcome.  The girls?  They're supposed to have classes this morning."

"By then things should be back to the level of strange."  He nodded, leaving it there.  Xander looked at them.  "Everyone wake up okay?"  They all glared.  "Stop it now.  There's exactly three Watchers left on this planet.  Me, Wes, and Giles.  Wes is in Cleveland with the girl on rotation.  Giles is still apparently asleep.  Who did you want to do it?"

"Buffy said not you," one sneered.

He shrugged.  "Then get off your ass and go run classes later," he shot back.  "Not like you were here to teach the girls that Willow called.  One that's six."  She went pale and shrank back.  "So tough.  Deal with it.   If you want Wes back, Faith and I can give you the number."

"Ease off, X," Faith said as she walked in.  "Yes, I heard Buffy's shit.  She's a stupid bitch about that."  They gaped.  "X is the head of the watchers.  We're now the Slayer's Council.  He's been damn good to the girls.  He's gotten us help, training, fed us, clothed us, made sure we had what we needed.  Set up a rotation of girls who were at least well trained enough to handle things so we weren't stuck in one spot until we died.  B sure couldn't do that.  It's a blind spot she had before.  She thinks that normal people can't do the work.  Well, hate to tell her, but Watchers are normal people.  Yay them.  Wes put X in charge because he didn't want it.  Especially not after the last fifteen watchers went rogue to try to reduce our numbers.  They're the ones that blew up Angel's area in LA.  They're the ones that tried to hit the younger girls X was guarding at that one base.  They tried to burn them in a basement when they were hiding.  Including Dawn and the six-year-old slayer.  So no, you'll show him respect or we'll go round, ladies.  I won't have it and I am the senior slayer."

Xander patted her on the back.  "It'll be fine, Faith.  All they know is what Buffy said and I'm sure she bad-mouthed me when I took the younger girls off to safety."  He looked at them.  "It's breakfast.  We will eat.  After that, we have classes all morning, training in the afternoons.  Starting with self defense with two hunters I chose to help you girls and a few soldiers who are helping here at DCIS who do double duty."  They slumped.  "Yes, this is also Demon Criminal Investigative Services' main base.  Welcome home."  He pointed.  "Let's go eat.  You'll need it.  That'll let you talk to the girls all you want to make sure things aren't hinky.  Then we'll let you join in on lessons.  By the way, it's February.  Nearly Valentine's Day."  That got a few shudders.  "Things have been happening while you've been in comas.  Now, let's go and I do expect all the girls to have manners most of the time."  Faith led them out and he looked up.  "You couldn't wake up the less snotty ones?" he asked quietly.  "I needed another test?"  He walked off to follow, grabbing his usual breakfast on the way to his desk.  What he saw did not amuse him.  "Shit.  A team case."  He called Tony.  "Team case."  He hung up and went back to looking it over.  "Ritual sacrifice.  Virgins.  Human it looks like."  Tony stomped in so he handed over what he had.  "Looks like a human sacrificing but I can't be sure."

Tony looked it over and nodded.  "Okay, it'll be a team case.  Danny's team is up if we need it."

Xander looked at him.  "I'm sorry if the snotty bitches annoy people."

"It happens.  All they knew is that Buffy was down on you because you were normal."  He smiled.  "Want your team to take it instead?"

"Not with new ones waking up."

"You'll have to go sometime."

Xander grimaced.  "Let me have the first real demon case?"

"Sure."  He went to pull the team out of breakfast to let them know they were heading within two hours.  He looked  at the new girls grouped together.  "Xander's team would have went but he felt you girls needed him more for the next few days."  He left, heading back to the office to go over it with Xander and the other team.   Xander really did have a feel for this one.  So he had to do it.  "Xander, go."  Xander stared at him.  "I don't care.  Go.  You're a specialist.  None of us can read the language."  Xander slumped but nodded, going to pack his bag and tell Dean and Wes.  He went to tell Sam at breakfast.  "Bad news.  I'm sending Xander anyway.  It has runes and things in a language we don't get."  Sam opened his mouth so he held up the picture. "Know it?"

"Not a bit," he admitted.  "Looks familiar."   Danny looked then shrugged.  "Then he's going?"

"He's got to.  We've got ten deaths already."  That got a nod.  "So you're in charge of the girls for him today."  That got a nod.  "Switch off and I'll help where I can."  He left, going to make sure Xander knew it'd be okay but Dawn was cheering him up so he left it alone and handed back the picture.  They'd handle it.  The team left once they were packed, taking a van to the airstrip their plane was at.  Tony went back to breakfast, looking at the girls again.  Then at the clock then back at the girls.  "Classes?"  They groaned.  "Just because he's on a case doesn't mean things change.  Xander put Dean and Sam in charge.  I'm their backup until Wes gets back here or someone else with authority does.  Got it?"  They nodded, all but the new ones.  "Good.  Keep the schedule and we'll let you cook dinner."  They cheered and finished up, dragging the new girls to classes.

"I'll be in for ESL lessons in about an hour," Danny called.  "Let me make some calls to let people know they're coming."  Those girls nodded and smiled at him.  He looked at Tony.   "He'd have to go sometime."

"He's handled a few overnight things.   A banishing, those sort of problems.  This could be weeks."

"We'll deal," Danny reminded him.  "We always do.  That's why we're strong."  He finished up and went to call the people who had sent them the case to make sure they knew they were coming.

Tony went to handle his own mailed-in case.  It wasn't very pretty but they could tell what it was pulling the person apart by the photos and looking it up was easy enough.


Dawn finally had enough and rounded on one of the girls, knocking her down to beat her ass for her rude comments.  The younger ones tried to pull her off but Dawn was Xander's protege.  The slayer was finally bloody.  So she sneered as she got up.  "If me, a normal person, can do that to you, a slayer, then you don't deserve your calling.  There's been normal people hunting for generations, just like Dean and Sam.   Hell, Cordette could beat you and she's only six.  So get off your high horse and get a fucking clue, bitch, before I carve it into your chest so you can always remember it.  Now, outside and do PT out there."  She moaned.  "Now!" she snapped.  The other girls moved Dawn back so Ryan could get to the girl.  "She's sorry she's pitiful but if I could take her down and I'm not a slayer, that kinda proves my sister was stupid.  I may love Buffy but the peroxide did bad things to her brain now and then."

"Dawn, office," Ryan ordered with a point.  "Get Dean or Sam, meet me there."  She huffed off.  "Let's get you to the infirmary," Ryan said, helping her up and walking her out.  "The rest of you, relax, calm down, don't mimic that."  He let the rushing nurse take her.  "She snapped around Dawn and Dawn beat her," he explained.

"Xander is normal!"

"So's Dawn," he said with a shrug.  "So?  So are all the agents here and we'll have to deal with the same demons you will.  So are all the watchers that were ever born.  The only difference is training.  Dawn's still in training and so are you.  You may have been born with a gift, but I'm pretty sure she proved her point by beating you if her point was normal people are just as good as slayers.  Get her cleaned up?  I sent Dawn to Danny's office."  The nurse nodded, taking her to do that while he headed back to watch over the class.   The other girls were ignoring the remaining five.  He looked at them, then nodded them outside.  "Why did Buffy think a normal person couldn't do the job?"

"Because he's normal," one said.

"So are watchers."  She frowned.  He nodded.  "They're trained and Xander's only partially trained because as far as we can tell no one wanted to.  Xander has nearly lost his life for you girls more than once.  He saved the younger ones by nearly dying when the watchers came for them.  He set things up so you'd be comfortable here instead of elsewhere.  He's not sleeping because he's dealing with crap in England over the original council.  Just because he's not trained doesn't make him unable to do things.  It means that people need to finish his training."

One slumped.  "Buffy said she didn't want him there.  Said it wasn't good for any of them to have him."

He snorted.  "And where would you be if he hadn't?  Beyond dead."  She flinched.  "I'll repeat this.  Xander nearly lost his life a few times protecting you girls.  He's done a lot to make sure you girls are safe, fed, and in training so you can protect yourself.  Including going against orders to train Dawn when she needed it and the youngest slayers when Willow's spell backfired and got them.  The same as he's been working for months now trying to find a way to get you uncalled.  That way we don't have thirty slayers in the world to tempt things."  Faith came storming out.  "That one okay?"

"Busted nose, bruised ribs, broken wrist.  We heal."  She glared at the girls.  They all slunk down.  "I am so damn ashamed to be one of you.  Office, now!" she said with a point.  They hiked that way.  "You tried."

"Buffy's problem was that he was normal and partially trained?"  She nodded. "Then why didn't anyone train him?"

"Because that would make him equal and they've always seen him a bit lesser because he's not special and a guy."  She walked off, going to chew her girls a new one then she'd call Wes to let him help since he was the last *real* watcher they had.  His rant would go on for two hours.  By the end the girls were all very sorry.  They were also going to slink back to training because they clearly needed it if Dawn could beat a nearly aged-out slayer who had been training for years.


Tony got the call from Seattle, frowning at the static.  "What's wrong, John?  You're staticky."  He repeated it and Tony moaned.  "Need us to meet you?"  He nodded.  "We can do that.  How soon?"  He made a note.  "We get it or do you need more support?"  He slumped.  "Good.  We'll meet you there.  Be ready.  How many other causalities?"  He nodded and wrote that down.  "I'll let them know.  Be safe."  He hung up and went jogging down to the infirmary.  "Two major injuries coming in from the team on a case," he said as he walked in. They started to gather things.  "They'll be landing in an hour.  It was a mini ascension."  One of the slayers working in there stopped to stare at him, nearly crying by her face.  "Xander's got a head injury and what looks like broken ribs.  No punctured lung thankfully.  Maybe internal injuries.  The team leader has a definite head injury and was a victim, nearly eaten.  They field dressed the injuries but they couldn't be sure of poisons or not.  They're airlifting them to us right now.  The rest are banged up and will be landing in an hour.  The airlifted two are coming directly here to the courtyard."  They went to get supplies up there.  He looked at the slayer. "Get me Sam to join us.  Brief him."  She went running.  He went to warn Danny, who had heard somehow.  "They'll be fine."

"We hope."

"No, they'll be fine," Tony assured him.  "We can make sure of it."  He saw Sam go running out with a reference book for the healers. He was explaining something, making one of the docs nod.  She took the book to read it over, then handed it on and shouted an order to get something ready.  "Anti-venom?"

"No," Danny said.  "Solvent.  Something to clean."  They shared a look and Danny went to help in the infirmary for right now.  He was so glad someone knew enough to stock them up.  He started some surgical gear in the sterilizer too, getting a nod from a nurse.  "Anyone else getting ready to wake up?"

"Not that we can tell.  Buffy's heart rate raised at the same time but she stayed down."

"Good.  I don't think we need that stress right now."  He heard the helicopter and got out of the way.  "I'll go help the ones coming in on the plane."  He got handed a medical kit and headed out.  "I did learn some from Janet," he said at the odd looks he got.  "We had to patch ourselves up in the field plenty of times."  They went to meet the plane so they could see how bad things were.  A broken bone, splinted.  A lot of cuts and scrapes.  "Did we get it?" he asked one.  Who nodded.  "How?"

"Xander figured out what it was late last night and had Messer call the local ATF office to get us something.  They refused so he and Xander went black market and bought something then used it on the creature.  Thank God."  He let the nurse help him up and down the stairs then into the van.  "Xander okay?"

"He's fine.  Merps is worse," Danny assured him.  He got the last one down and then looked at the plane.  He cleaned up and gathered things, calling Tony to make sure he knew he was still there.  Tony came to pick him up and let him destress for a few minutes on the way back with their gear.  "I hoped this was going to be an easier job."

"It is.  If one of us is possessed we can usually get rid of it.  We only have a few planes after us, not whole races of aliens.  Plus you said to remind you it was easier since Jack wasn't in charge."

Danny smiled at him.  "All great points, Tony.  Thank you."

"Could've been worse.  Could've been deaths."

"I know."  They parked and got out, heading down to check on people.   "Clear the hall!" he shouted when he ran into them.  "Now!  Unless you're giving blood!"  They went back to work.  They'd be listening later on and visit then.  He leaned in.  "Do we need anything we don't have?"

"Not yet," one said.  "There's something in the wound tracts.  We're not sure what."   Sam came in and poured the warm solution he had been mixing into one, making it fizz.  "What is that?"

"Holy water and something to cut the sodium in the saliva."  She nodded, taking it to dose the other injuries.  He moved to Xander's side to look at him.  "You look rough."

"It dead?" Xander rasped.

"It's dead," Sam agreed.  "You got it."  Xander moaned and passed out.  "He's out," Sam called.  They came to check on him but left him alone for now.  Not much they could do for broken ribs and a concussion but give pain killers.

Danny backed out. "Their stuff is in Tony's trunk."  That got a nod and he went to debrief the team.  "I know you all ache.  Let's get a preliminary then you can work on it tomorrow."  He saw Dawn go running past.  "Dawn, let them work!"

"I'm going to!" she shouted back.

He shook his head.  "She's worried.  What happened that turned this FUBAR?"

One guy snorted.  "From the get go.  Harris was right.  The symbols were a sexual ritual.  He had to eat so many virgin's blood to change.  Harris figured it out last night, Danny. We got the last one saved and he realized what it was when our perp was missing.  ATF didn't want to cooperate.  I have no idea where they found something."

Danny Messer groaned but moved his broken ankle.  "He found a seedy bar and walked inside, said something with me watching to make sure no one attacked us.  The bartender called two people and a contact came to see Xander.  I know he used slayer funds for it."

"We can pay him back.  He bought a...."

"Some sort of grenade or RPG system," Danny admitted.  "We have the empty somewhere.  Tape too.  One of the guys had an incident recorder in case it went south.  Xander's orders.  Said this was rare as fuck but oh well."

"That is how he put it," that guy said, waving a hand.  "I downloaded it to my laptop on the flight back."

"It's in Tony's trunk then."  That got a few nods.  "Did we leave the locals to clean it up?"

"It attacked before Xander could get a shot.  The thing had a stuck pop-up part," Danny said.  "That's how we all got injured.  Xander got off a pretty shot down its throat to get Merps free.  I never wanna see another fifty-foot snake again."

Faith walked in with the gear, dropping it next to the desk.  "Only fifty?  The one at their graduation was like ninety.  Tweedy down in the infirmary said there were a few ways to ascend, mostly took years.  The mayor took over a century because he wanted to be huge."

"Can we check shipments and things to see if there's others doing it?" Danny asked.

"Yeah, don't know what they need for real though.  Book somewhere in the library if G packed it."  She shrugged.  "Xander said to evacuate the books, just in case."

"Xander said to move the girls from LA just in case," one of the girls said from the doorway.

"This time it was a recording just in case," Danny said.  "Is Xander psychic?"

"Debatable," Faith said.  "As in no one's sure but he's not getting real visions.  They hurt like a bitch.  Killed a few seers."  She left, going to check on Xander and Dawn, who was crying on him.  "How many times did he nearly break gravestones with his head, D?" she asked bluntly.

"Too many."  She looked at her.  "So?"

"He's too damn tough to let a fifty-foot tequila worm get him.  Okay?"  She nodded.  "Good, then let the poor guy breathe.  I heard he had broken ribs and those suck money ass."  She removed her from Xander's chest.  "Go help with the debriefing or calm the girls down."  She nodded, wiping off her face as she did that.  "Is he supposed to be gray and white?" she asked once Dawn was gone.

They came to check, finding him either out of his body or nearly dead.  They put what they needed to into effect and monitored.  All they could do.  Faith was praying for out of his body.  She couldn't lose him.  He was the only stability a lot of them had.


Xander woke up and blinked at the ceiling.  Then at the man beside him.  "So that's what you look like."   Tim nodded.  "Dead too?"

"Not yet.  Kinda in limbo."  He helped the younger man sit up.  "You okay enough?"

"Head's throbbing."

"That's because the Powers are coming."

"Should I bow?"

"No.  They'll think you're faking."  Xander nodded, crossing his legs so he could lean on his knees and hold his aching head.

A voice came down.  "Mr. Harris."

"I'm not the sperm donor, use my actual name," Xander said dryly, looking at the glowing ball of energy.

"Fine, Alexander.  We need you to do two things."

"Depends.  What?"


"Planned on that.  Someone has to get Dawn into college.  Make her mother proud.  And?"

"Not be in charge."

"Then wake Giles up."

"Excuse me?" the voice said.

"If you don't want me in charge of the girls, wake Giles up," he said in his most cold voice. "I'm not the one who let the bastards try to take out little girls who didn't have the choice of saying yes to Willow's spell.  They were chosen, not consented, and one's now seven.  If you don't want me in charge, manifest some watchers with some sense that won't hurt the girls.  Wake Giles up.  Whatever.  Until you do, there's no one else."

"There is a chance that Giles could get you for using their money."

"To help the girls?  That's what it was planned for and Wes set it up.  Again, you want him to deal with it, wake his ass up.  Or bring him here."

"That we can do.  We did try."

"Hmm.  Guess there's a higher power than the Powers?" he asked dryly.

"Xander," Tim warned.

Xander glared at him.  "Butt out."

"Fine."  He stepped back.  "Staying out of it.  Just try to stay calm?  Maybe?"

Xander snorted.  "I don't need this.  I had to stop another ascension, Tim.  Or don't you remember why we're nearly dead at the moment?"

"Another one?" a genteel British voice asked.  "Why?"

Xander turned to look at him.  "Because one came up in Seattle and DCIS needed my help.  That's part of my job, that and helping the girls."

"I thought we agreed...."

Xander held up a hand.  "Stop there, Giles.  Do you know why you're in a coma?"


"The other watchers.  They decided on a power play.  They blew up the building in LA with all you in it and magically put all of you, including Angel, into a  coma.  Willow is missing.  No one's sure where.  Buffy's down with you."  Giles winced at that.  "That left me, Wes, and Gunter.  Gunter died going out to find the other girls.  Wes is in Cleveland dealing with the slayer on duty on the hellmouth.  Wes put me in charge because he doesn't have the energy to.  Cleveland's a major city."  He stood up and looked at his former mentor.  "Who did you want to do it, Giles?"

"The people who came to get the girls?"

"We're sheltering under them.  The ascension was part of a team case I went on earlier with them."

"Oh, I see."

"We're living on their base.  Training with their people, but for two hunters I hired, and doing a damn good job so far.  Even though Willow's spell took the choice from a bunch of little kids.  I've got six now who're under ten."  Giles stepped back at that, looking horrified.  "Fully called slayers, Giles.  With no way to uncall them.  Plus the other twenty some-odd girls to train.  If you think you can do better than I have, wake up.  I've busted my ass working with those girls.  I've given up having a life to help those girls."

"It's not your job."

Xander punched him, rubbing his knuckles.  "Well, since the rest are dead, someone had to step in and at least you got me partially trained.  I repeat, who did you want to step in, Giles?  The military so they can make another Initiative like situation?"  He moaned.  "I'm it.  Get off your high horse. You're just as normal as I am only you had more training."

"The standards to become a full watcher are very strict, Xander.  You do not meet up with them."

"Why would I?  I might hurt the girls if I did."  He snorted and walked back to his bed.  "I don't give a damn.  You want it done your way, wake up.  Until then, it's me and Wes.  Wes was a watcher, he said to do it this way.  We've put out notices in all the watchery places if any were left to contact us.  None have.  Since you guys went into a coma, who do you want to do it?"

"Dawn does show the proper leanings."

"Dawn's sixteen.  By law she can't run anything.  Though I am training her to do the work."

He shook his head.  "How would you?  You don't know what you're doing.  There's traditions."

"That got you all killed.  Yes, I remember.  Fine traditions like trying to kill the girl if she makes it to eighteen."  Giles flinched at that.  "The new traditions are pretty damn good and we're doing mostly fine, Giles.  Stay asleep."  He faded out.  He looked at the glowing ball of voice.  "As for you.  You don't like how I'm helping the girls to stay alive, make more watchers.  Not like *you're* going to handle the apocalypses *you* call into being.  We have to and we do what we can.  That's why we're human.  Any other advice you want to give?"

"You don't have to be angry."

Xander snorted.  "I don't have to be angry but it was you who set this into motion.  Not me.  Pat yourselves on the back, Powers.  You made it happen and now you gotta live with it like we do."  He closed his eyes and rubbed his head.  "Unless you have a way to uncall the girls?  I think I want to wake up now."

"It's not necessary."

Xander snickered.  "Uh-huh."  He looked at Tim.  "Does he really look like that?"  The figure nodded and morphed.  "Cool.  Now I know."  He reached inside himself and flicked the switch he had put in to help him when he was possessed.  It flicked him back into control of his mind, making him groan and try to grab his head.  "Fucking Powers," he muttered, falling back asleep.  This time a normal, healthy sleep.  Even the Powers couldn't make concussions heal faster after all.

The nurse on duty made note of that and passed it onto Danny and Tony.  Just in case it was important.

Dawn, who was with her sister, smirked at that information then went back to doing her sister's hair.  "You know, you really did screw the pooch, Buffy.  Tossing over Xander is the worst mistake you ever made.  If you had any idea what you had done, I'm sure you'd actually apologize to him for once.  It'd be nice.  Definitely different."  She finished up and tucked her back in.  "There you go.  Ready for another week of napping."  She put things up and left, going to check on Xander.  She gave him a hug, getting a small growl.  "No, you let me protect you," she said in his ear.  "I've got you, Xander.  You'll be safe even from them."  She walked off, going to find things in her room.  She knew what she needed.  It had been in Willow's things.  She'd be doing something that they'd hate, but oh well.  She went up to her room and grabbed a few things, plus her coat and boots, then headed out.  Sam caught her.

He coughed. "You're going where in the middle of the night?"

"I'm going to take a walk in the woods to clear my head," she told him.

"With a backpack full of stuff?" he asked with a small grin.  "Tell me what you're doing and we may help, Dawn.  We like Xander too."

She turned, then pulled him into a room and muted the camera in there.  "The Powers are screwing with him.  I'm tired of it."

"They're pretty powerful."

"And I'm the Key."  Sam stared, mouth slightly open.  "I know very well what they wanted.  There was no way for those watchers to track us.  I made sure of it magically.  So they had to have help.  Getting Xander's plane with the other girls to land.  An explosion that only took the witch that could stop them.  Tracking us when I had us muted from normal sight.  You tell me what's going on with the things that only care about balance?"

He closed his mouth but nodded.  "I can see what you're getting.  What are you planning on?"  She gave him a 'get real look' and snort.  "I can help if you let me, Dawn.  It's every person's right to stand up to whatever God they believe in when they think he's doing bad things.  That's why we fight for the good side."  She pulled out the diary to show him.  He read it, frowning.  "This won't work."

"It will."

He looked at her.  "It won't.  Pulling you out of your body is not only dangerous but locks you away from your magic, Dawn."  She groaned and sat on the table in there.  "There's a better idea."  He handed it back and walked with her to the library, where he had been working.  He found a book in the back section, forbidden to nearly everyone without permission because of the harmful nature of the secrets it contained.  "Here."  He let her see it and she smiled, sitting down to find the part she needed.  She finally found it and read it over, then went to get the thing she didn't have and walked out, heading out into the woods.  Sam grabbed his stuff and followed to guard her, Dean giving him and odd look.  "Dawn's going to make a guided plea for help to the Powers."

"Her sister?"

"Xander.  They're fucking with him."  He left, following her trail into the woods.  He'd have to teach her how to mask it later on.  If they survived this.  She gave him an odd look.  "Not leaving you out here alone.  My dad would kick my ass if I let a girl do this on her own when I could help."

"Your dad think all girls are weak?"

"No, but men should help women when they need it and you'll need an anchor."

"Which has to be a psychic tether."

"I'm a seer, Dawn."

"Oh.  Didn't know that."  He smirked.  She smirked back.  "That'll work."  She found a flat rock and set things up on top of it and a blanket she laid out to work on.  It'd keep them from getting so chilled while they sat on the rock and she had sewn patterns onto it long ago under Tara's watchful gaze so she could do work outside.  "Tara would be screaming," she sighed.

"If Tara was a good witch, she might but she might understand," Sam told her.

She looked at him.  "She was.  She was Willow's light."  She lit the candle and took his hand, getting ready to do the spell.  This was hard.  It'd open her fully to the key's powers.  She was nervous but he'd stop her if she turned into a monster.

"Fears are not your enemy, harness it and use it," he said quietly.  "Like you would in a fight."  She nodded, centering herself better then getting on with it.


Xander woke screaming an hour later.  "Stop her!" he demanded, batting at the nurse.  "Dawn, stop Dawn now!"

Danny called her phone.  No answer.  He called Dean's phone.  "Xander woke up screaming to stop Dawn.  Where is she?  No answer on her phone and she's always got it, Dean.  Where is she?"  He grimaced.  "Uh-huh.  And Sam is where?"  He nodded.  "Thank you."  He looked at the guard in the doorway.  "Where in the woods are they?"

"That picnic rock about half a mile away.  I had Milo tracking them."

"I want a sit rep.  Dawn's doing something."

"Dawn's doing shit that's going to get her ass beat," Xander said, batting at the nurse again.  He got out of the bed, holding his ribs and hissing the whole way.  "We're going," he told the guard.  "Get me shoes."  He went to do that.  "Sorry, Danny, this is Family."  He walked out, taking his coat and shoes from Tony's hand.  "Be back in the morning, after I beat their asses."  He put them on slowly but he managed it.  Then he stomped off.  One of the guys gave him a ride on the four wheeler.  Dawn and Sam were so far down they didn't know they were there.  He walked up to the rock, staring at them then he leaned down to blow out the candle, waking Sam.  "We're going to have words once I don't have broken ribs."

"She's trying to protect the girls."

"By exposing herself?  She could die."

"She won't die and she found some people there who could help.  Including help train her."  Xander gave him a dirty look.  "Tara showed up.  She said to tell you.  She showed her the ones."

Xander sat down, looking at him.  "Still putting her in danger.  And us."

"No.  Not now."  He looked at Dawn and nudged her, making her wake up.  "Worried big brother."

She looked at him.  "Shouldn't you be in bed?"

"I'm going to beat your ass like your mother would."

"Mommy might," she agreed.  "But she'd let me explain." He pulled her over and spanked her until she cried.  Then he let her go and stared at her.  "Fine!  They're doing evil to get their balance and their balance isn't balance.  You can't have true balance while there's people with free will.  Since this isn't the Matrix, we all have free will."  He groaned.  "I went to point that out.  By the way, there are teachers.  They do fight.  They're pissed too.  But Tara was pissed and proud.  Mom too."


A ghost appeared and she looked at Dawn.  "No, she's pissed and proud," Tara assured him.  She looked at Xander.  "They won't come after her.  She's taken a voluntary guiding hand so they won't come after her, Xander.  I promise it won't make her a target like Buffy was."

He stared at her.  "Prove you're Tara."

"Ghosts can't lie."

He snorted.  Sam did too.  "And I'm my own grandfather," Xander said dryly.  "Yes they can.  Especially when sent as messengers.  Prove it or move."

She sighed then leaned down to touch his head, wincing when she did.  "You're too injured for this."

Xander snickered.  "If you were a real ghost, I'd have sucked you in, dear."  She gave him a horrified look.  "Because I'm still a medium."  He looked at the setup and did something.  "Sam, move."


"Anchor's outside the markings, Sam.  Protect her and only her."  He gave him a look. "Understood?"  He nodded and Xander moved to take over, then he looked at Dawn.  "Trust me?"  She nodded.  "Then let's go dance."  They both faded as the magic took over.  He knew what he was doing and she came with him.  What they didn't count on was that he wasn't normal.  He hadn't been normal.  He looked normal.  He seemed normal.  But he was part mermaid.  He was part hyena.  He had been a soldier for quite a while now.  Not to mention how combat and death had changed him.  He appeared on the plane in armor.  Gray, dull, normal looking armor.  Dawn beside him.  He looked down then around, grabbing something that changed into a hand.  He snickered and it changed into a sword.  He handed it to her.  She blessed it.  He got his own and the battle was on when the supposed 'light' came at them.  Pity they never watched him either.  They were about to fall when the battle stopped and someone stepped forward.

"Who are you to fight these minions?" she asked.

"Someone who wasn't watched closely enough if they think I'm going to give up and let them harm girls who had no choice but to be called to a life of death as mere babies.  If the Powers and the demons wanted a six-year-old slayer, then they should have done it on someone else's watch."

She stared at him.  "That wasn't our doing."

"No but you kept it going and then you sent people to kill her and the others."

"They can draw worse things."

"Then give us a way to undo what Rosenburg did until it's their time," Dawn said. "I pointed that out earlier.  He pointed that out earlier.  No one seems to listen.  They should since he's doing their work for them.  The same as I will be one day."

"He was not called."

Xander stabbed her.  "No, but I was there and it became my duty."  She died and he sneered at her body.  "Not all that fight are real warriors but we're all fighters."  He looked at the demon that appeared.  "Morning."

"Where your body is."

"Yeah, well, it's a standard american greeting of pleasantness.  Feel lucky I didn't flip you off."

"No, you're right.  They screwed themselves.  This isn't the right way to point that out though."

Xander stared at him.  "Advice from the dark we fight.  I'm amused."

"So are they.  I'm trying to atone a bit.  I was evil."

Xander shrugged.  "Why would I care unless you're on my caseload?"

"Good point."  He grinned.  He could like this one very easily.  "Very good point, Xander."  He stepped closer and Dawn moved into a defensive position.  "She needs more work."

"Buffy thought she'd be protected by her."

"Hmm.  The arrogance of power.  She has that problem too."

"That's why I spanked her."

"Which was probably good for her."  The demon smiled.  "They want a meeting."

"We're here."

"They're not."

"We traveled halfway.  That's arrogance to expect us to show up at their meeting."

"True."  He looked over as the Oracles appeared.  "Well, mouthpieces."

Xander looked at one.  "Didn't you screw up Angel's life and kill Cordelia?"  One backed away from him.  "Hmm.  You know, I didn't want to go missing my bitch just then.  I should be pissed.  At least she had *some* choice in the matter."

"Not really," the demon admitted.

"No, she had some.  Not a lot but a bit.  There's ways of passing visions on if you're desperate enough."

"That was a ploy of my side," the demon said.

Xander shrugged.  "If you're desperate, who cares?"

"She made her choice by keeping it," he agreed.  "Good point.  You can reason.  You do realize how stupid and arrogant this is?"

Xander smirked.  "Yeah, and?  You know, if they had been paying a bit of attention, this wouldn't have happened.  They would've seen Willow and me jumping in.  They would've seen Willow going bad.  They would've seen Willow pulling Buffy out of heaven and starting the First Evil crap that made Willow activate all the slayers, no matter how young.  By the way, are there older ones?  We've been debating."

"No, after the age of twenty-three none may be called by the spell.  They decided a younger one could be sacrificed to give the line power but an older one was a problem."

Xander nodded.  "Figures.  Thankfully I saved her."  He looked at the Oracles.  "Well?  You can join our conversation."

"We did not pay attention because you are not worth anything to us."

"And yet, he's the one that created the two slayer situation and warped the prophecy of the Harvest.  He's the one that won the battle at graduation for your pawn, the slayer.  He's the one that kept the hellmouth safe while she was gone.  He's the one who took over when she was ill.  Yet he's not worth it?  We thought he was.  We all love watching him and his dating history."  He looked at Xander.  "Ever consider men?"

"Yes.  Having a demon tell me to be gay isn't helping me go there though."

"Well, consider it harder.  Really."  He smirked.  "There's fewer evil men than women on our side."

"Yeah but the evil ones are pretty and generally want sex more."

The demon laughed.  "All too true."  A female in all white appeared beside him.  "We're having a nice discussion with these two white siders."

"Then why are there demons dead around their feet?"

"'Cause they helped piss us off," Xander said with a bright grin.  "Next time, don't kill kids by letting an ascension happen."

The demon shrugged. "Not my department.  But you did good blowing that one to hell."

Xander smiled.  "Thank you."

The new lady in white shook her head quickly.  "Okay, what's going on?"

The demon pointed.  "That is Xander Harris.  The one who backed up the slayer and that the Powers think are worthless.  The Powers sent people to rebalance the world by taking out all the slayers that had been called."  She winced at that.  "We stepped in to put the ones they tried to blow up into a coma and he protected the rest with that Miss Summer's help.  By the way, your missing sister will be her protector and teacher."

"She's going to be possessed?" Xander asked.

"For the next six years."

"Cool.  We'll match," he told Dawn with a grin.

"Maybe.  Though yours is a CSI and mine's not."  She shrugged.  "It's helpful.  She's screaming a lot at me right now."  She turned and stabbed the demon behind her, making her scream and change back to her normal form.  "Stupid bitch.  They made me a slayer's sister.  Of course I can feel demons!  It's the first spell I did!"

The witch frowned.  "Why would they do that?"

"She's the Key, dear," the demon said with a smile.  "They gave her to Buffy to protect her."

"Should've just given me to Xander to protect me," Dawn said dryly.  "He does.  He even taught me self defense when my sister said it was unnecessary."

"Having you here would tip the balance," the female Oracle told her.

She snorted.  "Not having me here means humanity ends so you get your precious balance. I'm not stupid.  The only true balance is like the only true pure good.  Without people present.  Hell, even Buffy figured that out."

"More manners," Xander ordered.

"You swear," she pouted.

He looked at her. "I was raised by bastards.  Your mother wasn't."

"Yes, Xander.  I'm sorry for my language.  He's right, my mother would be appalled and finding a belt."  Sam appeared beside her.  "Hey."  She smiled and handed him the sword but looked around him at the girl who appeared.  Then at the other witch.  "Cute.  Sisters."  She looked at Sam.  "Having a talk."

"That's fine.  Dean took over.  He's a bit pissed at both of you."

"Shit happens," Xander agreed.  "Oh, I said that to a guardian demon and he warned me about a restaurant in the next town.  Said it often happens after you eat there."

"We'll make sure we don't," Sam said with a small smile but a head shake.

The first witch shook her head.  "You guys are strange."

"It's combat since I was sixteen and now I'm in charge of all the slayers that Willow activated because the Powers turned the rest of the Watchers bad and are keeping Giles in a coma.  You try dealing with twenty-six teenage girls and Faith."

She shuddered.  "No thank you."  She looked at the Oracles.  "Well?  Got a point here too?"

"You are not under our control."

"No but we sure agree with them," she smarted back.  Her sister appeared with her husband.  "Leo, we like Xander and Dawn, right?"

"Yeah, we like them a lot and we're really not at fault, Sam."

He waved a hand.  "Demons do those things to get power.  We'll kill it for killing Jess and my mom and then we'll kill the rest we can before we retire since it made us so good for the other side."

He nodded. "Thank you."

The demon nodded. "That seems to be a problem both sides have.  Xander and Dawn are treading on my side right now because the Powers made them."

"Better evil than a pawn," Dawn told him.  "And we can still go make sure those girls are good and trained."

He nodded. "I agree.  Who's training you?"

"The Devon coven and now their sister."

The three sisters laughed.  "Fat chance," they said together.

"We're in North Dakota and I'm her guardian," Xander told them.  "Her mother was killed, we're not sure if the Initiative or a demon had a hand in it since it was a pretty sudden brain tumor."  The demon nodded.  "Buffy's in a coma thanks to the Powers.  That's another situation where I'm the only one.  They were the only witches we knew about who could handle her strength and all that."

The sisters looked at each other.  "This summer, she's ours," the oldest one said.   "We can teach her what she needs to know to defend herself and to help DCIS."

Xander grinned.  "Thank you.  Until then can you email her and that stuff?"

"Sure.  That'll help.  What's she working on?"


"We can come help with that," the middle sister next to the demon assured him.  "That's a nice thing since you're handling some of our caseload."

"They have the slayers there," the demon told her.

"Even more reason," she agreed.  "Why are you here?  The last time I knew, you were dead."

"A bit of atonement.  They decided I could keep Xander from killing the Powers and you three if he lost it for real or handle it if Dawn broke out."

"Ah," the oldest sister said, coming over to look at Dawn.  She laid a hand on her forehead, hearing her sister complaining. "She's going to get you into trouble.  She's a bit wild."

"Xander said I can finally date this year."

The sister smiled.  "That's a good age for it.  Don't go too wild and try all the boys."  She checked her again then winced.  The demon laughed.  "Hush."  She looked at her.  "We'll be guiding you."

"We've been looking for someone we could trust to guide and train her," Xander promised.  "Because I'm not sure Willow could even if she was around."

"She's ...somewhere," the demon admitted.  "We're not even sure where.  She's not dead.  She's not kidnaped.  She's somewhere."  He shrugged.  "Sorry."

Xander shrugged back.  "It happens.  She'll show up when she's ready.  Can I get a hint of what realm they're opening for the apocalypse in LA?"

The demon laughed.  "There's only three they could.  Don't you have that book?"

"It was probably in England when the building got blown up," Xander told him.

Sam frowned.  "I was doing some looking.  The library center was in a separate building, Xander.  They didn't get the underground tunnels either."  Xander hugged him.  "Thanks.  We'll help where we can."

"Thank you, Sam.  Danny might be pissed since it'd overflow the library."

"We have room," Dawn assured him.  "Even if I have to make a sub realm or something."  She looked at the Oracles.  "Are you done yet?  Because I've gotta say, this outfit itches."  She changed it with a snap of her fingers.  "Better."

Xander looked then shook his head.  "No it's not.  You look like your sister on one of her patented ho patrols.  Change it again, Dawn."  She sighed but changed it again. "Thank you!"  He looked at the Oracles.  "Still think I'm worthless?"  They nodded.  "Pity."  He looked at something then patted it and grinned.  "I'd run," he told the demon.  They all vanished and so did he, Dawn, and Sam.  Sam gasped awake first, nudging Dawn then Xander.  They both woke up.  Xander grinned.  "You make a good psychic friend, Sam."  He stood up with a moan, holding his ribs.  "Anyone have any coffee?"

The witch from the plane appeared.  "Um, Xander.  Quite a mess."

He looked at her.  "Then don't let them fuck with me.  I'm tired of being fucked with and I have broken ribs and a concussion.  I was being nice."

She nodded.  "I'll let the Elders know.  You're getting trained?"  He shook his head.  "Why not?"

"Why do I want to turn into the next Willow when they get their revenge?"

She frowned.  "That's a good point.  Well, minor teaching?  Just shields or something?  Because even I can feel you pulling spirits in.  Here," she said, moving closer.  Someone pointed a gun at her.  "Junior, I will make you eat that."

"She's a good witch and my future trainer; she showed up to help us," Dawn said.  They lowered their weapons.  "I've been trying but I can't impose one and he can't bring up a real mental shield."

"Too many concussions," Xander told her.  "Like boxers getting memory loss and stuff.  Patrolling wasn't my first one."

She looked then nodded. "Not exactly.  You're not the same sort of magic.  She's got earth magic and you have what looks like some void magic actually."  She helped him put one up and he sighed in pleasure.  She smiled back.  "Better?"

"Much.  Can we give Tim his own body?"  Dawn sneezed and a twinkling started.  "Dawn!"

"Accident!  But hey, wish granted."  She ducked behind Sam's back for cover.

He looked back at her.  "They'll go through me."

The witch looked then at her.  "Nice job.  You're so coming for dinner tonight."

"Yes, ma'am," she sighed.

"Good.  Can we take her now?"

"Take Tim too?" he asked with a grin.

"For a few."  She took them both back with her.  That way they could yell in peace and without people wondering and trying to harm them for it.

Xander nearly fell down to his knees as the pain came back.  "Ow."

Sam helped him onto the four wheeler.  "Broken ribs suck," he agreed.  "Let me clean up her mess."  He did that, packing it away carefully.  Then he got onto the last one.  He was sure someone wanted a report.  Xander was going back to the infirmary since Dean was dragging him.  He looked at Danny.  "Want me?"

"For starters.  Dawn?"

"With her new teachers."

Danny smirked.  "Boot camp?"

"Probably spanking.  She's also got a guardian spirit attached to her to guide her until they can get her for real this summer.  Oh, and good news, Tim has his own body since she sneezed."

Danny squeezed his eyes shut for a second then opened them to look at him.  "She sneezed, which resulted in the exorcism of the spirit in Xander, and gave him his own body?"

"Yeah but her teacher showed Xander how to put up a shield so it shouldn't happen again."

"Good!  My office, Sam."  He nodded, heading that way.  Danny looked up.  "I'm not sure if Jack was better or worse now.  I'll have to apologize to him later for thinking this was going to be a less insane posting.  I was clearly stupid."  He walked inside, going to get a report.  It had been a long night and half the day.  It was probably going to be longer too.


Danny filed the report and answered the phone.  "Jack, is it an invasion?"  He smiled at the heated complaints.  "No, I'm overtop of something even stranger than our team.  Though I have found your long lost, younger, psychic, twin brother.  Who does bounce when he's eaten too much chocolate.  Xander, no more chocolate," he yelled at the young man bouncing past the doorway.

"I haven't had any in hours," he complained back.  He leaned in.  "Mary, the eight-year- old, wanted to learn how to bunny hop for this spring play thing the girls are doing.  So I'm teaching her and this is the only hallway without cameras to record me doing it."  He shut the office door and went back to it.

Danny moaned, putting Jack on speaker.  "I deal with insane people."

"I don't bounce."

"You do now and then, Jack.  Like a kid on Christmas morning."

"I do not!"

"You do.  Why the call?  Is it an invasion?"

"No.  Are you having one since I heard a rumor that you've got one coming up?  Speaking of which, where the hell are you, Danny?"

"Well, yeah, but it's next month sometime and it's in LA.  Probably downtown LA.  I'll be stopping news crews in a few weeks.  We might need the National Guard but not the troops there.  Just make sure the stargate doesn't back out into a portal.  Tell whoever that I said it might when the crap hits the fan in LA.  Abby thinks it could switch and carry over to other portals."

"Who's Abby?"

"My very goth head of R&D and the lab.  From NCIS."

"Heard of her," he admitted.  "Heard Gibbs is growling because someone stole her."

"My second in command who used to be Gibbs' senior agent," he agreed dryly.  "He did the job until I got nudged over."

"Are you okay?  You sound odd."

"I'm fine.  A bit tired.  I need another team right now.  We have all three teams in the field and one open case that I'll have to send Xander on.  Xander, single case?" he called.

He opened the door to look at him.  "Of?"

"Class three thingy that you were worried was going to pop up."

"Let Dean lead one of the girls to handle it.  He's been missing the hunt and they have to prove to us they're ready to go to Cleveland with Wes."

"I might do that."  He smiled.  "Thanks.  Play?"  He nodded and shut the door.  "I didn't know the girls were putting on a play."

"Kids on base?" Jack asked tolerantly.

"Yeah, about thirty of them.  Some teenagers, some younger."  He opened his computer to start an email just in case no one had warned Alan of the upcoming invasion.  "So, how's everyone?"

"Everyone's really bored around here and I keep messing up the paperwork."

"I do have that easier.  Tony created very little for me to do.  At least until appropriations and then I have to justify myself to the president.  Who was very amused last week.  He asked if I had talked to you."

"He asked me the same thing when he gave me your phone number.  Where are you?"

"Midwest, upper part.  Sorry, base is slightly untouchable."

"Uh-huh.  I do have a high clearance, Danny."

"We're in the Dakotas."

"I see."  He cleared his throat.  "Some reason you won't tell me?"

"Yup.  A few."  Danny Messer leaned in and pointed.  "Apparently we're having a spring play."

"That makes sense," Danny agreed.  "We're back.  Want the report now?"

"Will I cringe and is there loss of property, life, or do we have a new resident?"

"In the jail, yes.  Property?  Cracked the rental car when it slammed something into it.  Not our fault, have it on camera."

"Decent.  Report?"  Danny handed it over.  "I'll debrief and watch the tape later.  Shoo."  He grinned and closed the door, heading off.  "One of my teams is back."  A wicked idea hit him.  "Hey, Jack, is McKay on Earth?"

"Pissing me off for six more weeks due to an oversight hearing.  Why?"

"Can I borrow him?  I think we need some ideas kicked around in R&D.  Warn him Abby's a bit goth and has a caffeine habit and the girls will all squeal and pounce.  It's the standard warning we give to all new people."

"Um, sure.  How would I get him there?"

"We'll come pick him up.  I'm going to try to steal Sam too.  I think we can frustrate her to no end over here."

"I'd hate to shoot you, Danny.  Remember, I got you out of the asylum and I can put you back," he said at his friend's laughter.

"I'm sure you can," he agreed.  "But then Xander takes over."  He hung up and leaned back, calling another number. "I need you to go to Cheyenne Mountain and steal a Doctor McKay from astrophysics.  I need him in R&D to kick around ideas and to see what that thing Abby can't figure out is.  Thanks."  He hung up.  Letting Tony do the dirty work was fun sometimes.  It let Tony be evil too, so fun all around.  He went to watch Xander teach Mary how to bunny hop.  It was so cute!  He needed a camera.  Too bad Xander caught his intent and pushed him back into his office then shut the door in his face.


Abby looked at the man being walked in.  "You are?  New hire?"

"Doctor Rodney McKay, Astrophysicist.  What is this place?"

She smiled.  "DCIS.  Welcome to the labs and R&D.  Why did you sign on?"

"Doctor Jackson asked me to."

"Ohhh!  You're the one he said I should show the thingy to.  Okay.  We have no idea what it does but we found it with a demon and we confiscated it just in case it was a weapon or something harmful.  Because that one was a weapon's dealer."  She walked him into a secure vault area, tapping in a code.  "Here we are."  He stopped to stare at something.  "Not that thingy.  We found out that eats walls."

"That's not logical."

She shrugged.  "We had a spirit telling us how to find the demon last month.  We don't have a lot of logic or Vulcans around here, Doctor McKay."  She pulled down the box she wanted.  "Here we are.  All our unidentified thingies."  She walked him back out and sealed it again.  "Some of the girls try to play in it if I don't seal it.  They all get to a certain age and suddenly weapons are cool."   She let him into a work area.  "You can borrow my design area.  Just don't blow it up.  I did that last month.  Xander gets pissed when he has to rebuild the labs."  She smiled.  "Need a lab coat, gloves, anything?  They're in the closet behind you and there should be a few spare coats in various sizes in there.  Call if you need me, I'll be in DNA."  She bounced off, her pigtails swinging with her.

"She's totally insane," he told himself, grabbing a coat and gloves so he could look at the box.  The first few things weren't horribly hard but looked like space ship parts to him.  He made notes and found a computer terminal, using his Area 51 ID once he found that as a log-in option.  Fortunately he had a good memory since he hadn't used it in a while.   The email he got back said he was right, they were parts and named them.  He labeled them for her and looked at the next item down.  Which made him scowl.  "How in the world did a piece of Atlantis technology get here?"  He got up and went to find her.  "How did this get here?"

She shrugged.  "We don't know how the demons get anything most of the time.  There's a whole network of planes, realms, and all that stuff that annoy the crap out of our agents when strange things show up.  Did you find something bad?  Is it a weapon I'll have to hide from Xander too?  Because he's a major weapons guy and so very bad with them.  Makes bad boys look good bad with them."

"Um.  Well, no, not a weapon," he admitted, thrown by her manner.  "But it's part of a classified project I'm on in Colorado."

"Oops.  Well, they're demons and they're everywhere.  No idea how.  You can ask Danny, see if they need it for any sort of court case.  He's upstairs by two floors and off to the right, at the end of the gloomy hall because Xander hasn't replaced his light bulbs.  He's been too busy on a case."

"Do you not have maintenance people?"

She shrugged. "I don't know.  I put in a report when I had a problem with a door sticking.  Nothing happened for a week so I told Xander and it got fixed.  I'll have to ask Tony if we have maintenance guys."  She grinned.  "Go ahead up.  He's probably bored and if he's not there he's in that two-story brick building with the slayers doing ESL classes."

"Thank you," he said, walking off with the piece of technology.  He found him on his way back to his office with new coffee.  "That girl is incredibly strange.  It's highly offputting to hear babbling from a pigtailed goth girl."

"We need free thinkers since we deal with demons, McKay.  Find something harmful?"  He held it up.  "I thought that might be yours.  At the bottom of the box is something that looks like a crystal but it's full of energy.  No idea what it is and that's what I called about."  He took another drink, watching the man's face turn red then slightly purple.  "Just think, they wanted Jack to head this insanity instead of me."   He headed off to his office, smirking at his good deed.  Sam would like how he had gotten McKay back for all the times he had irritated her.  He'd have to email her and tell her.  It might even prompt her to come nose around their labs and stay for a few years.  They were doing more interesting stuff than Area 51 anyway.

McKay stomped off, going back to look at that crystal.  Yes, he knew what that was too.  He called his team leader since he was on the same planet for the same oversight meeting, holding it up.

"How did that get down here?"

"Demons had it."

"Demons?  Interesting.  Where are you?"


"Never heard of it."  He nodded. "Which state are you in?  Or should I call up that GPS chip?"

"North Dakota.  Where Doctor Jackson is running this wonderful brand of insanity."

Abby leaned in.  "Danny said if you get Jack storming in here to try to steal him back, I'm moving back to heading the lab, you're getting head of R&D, and your boss if that's the cute one on the screen there is getting all this as his new post when he heads the agency."  She beamed and waved.  "Don't worry, the slayers only squeal and pounce but they don't bite.  Even if their cats sometimes do."  She left again.

"Do you see what he's done?" he demanded with a point.

"Isn't that the lab tech from NCIS that made Gibbs growl at every service member in the US until he could find her?"

"Quite possibly."

"I'll be there tonight.  Without Jack because I don't think I wan to run that place."  He hung up on his end and went to make that note.  "General," he said as he leaned into his office.  "I'm going to save McKay from a goth scientist with pigtails."

"Abby?" he asked with a frown.  "Danny has Abby on his team?"

"Apparently.  She's flustering him badly and he's found at least one piece of our assignment there."


"But if I tell you where they are and you storm the base, Doctor Jackson has promised to put us in charge of it."

"No, I won't storm it and do that to you.  Danny had that slightly insane sound to his voice recently.  I don't need that much more stress."

"Good.  I'm heading to North Dakota then."

Jack slowly raised his head.  "Danny's heading DCIS?"  John Sheppard grinned and nodded.  "No wonder he's insane.  Have fun.  I'd never let anyone I know run that because it's horrible from what I hear.  Have fun."  He waved.  "Go away."

"Going.  Thank you for the leave, sir."  He headed off to find a way there.  Commercial would work then he could rent a car.


Xander ran into Danny's office, sliding around the person who was talking with him.  "It's now.  We've got deep shit.  We're heading."  He ran off, grabbing a few things on his way to the staging point.  "All right, people, listen up.  This is going to be bad!  We now have a full scale demonic invasion in downtown Los Angeles."  McKay gasped.  "You're not trained, stay here."

"I am so!  I'm on a field team on Atlantis."

"Wow, I thought that was still not working according to our sources.  Ask Danny if you want to go.  Does everyone have what they will need for the next few hours?"  They all nodded.  "Good.  Benny Ray, make sure we have reloads behind us.  Just in case."  He looked at Dawn, who opened the portal. "Here we go.  Ladies first, take point.  In order of experience.  Someone stop Mary."  Someone shoved her at McKay then went through after Xander.

McKay looked at her.  "You're much too young."

"I'm a full slayer.  Put me down."

"No."  He handed her to one of the nurses, who grimaced and made her go wait in front of the tv with a slayer on crutches.  "Can I help?"

"Ask Danny."  Danny came jogging out and stared at him.  Sheppard was right behind him.  McKay got tossed weapons and they went to help.

Danny looked at the mass of demons streaming toward him, moaning a bit.  "Fuck," he muttered in Arabic.

"This is a foothold," Sheppard said, taking aim and firing.  "We should call in the troops."

"We have it.  Trust me."  He followed at a jog, going to help his people.  He had someone shutting down the cameras.  "Messer, behind you," he shouted, making him duck and someone else fire.  Danny took his own shot and kept going.  This was going to be messy.

Sheppard paused long enough to call it in.  "General, foothold situation with strange creatures in LA, downtown LA.  Different sorts, not sure what they are.  We have ammo that works but we're going to be overrun and we have a bunch of.... strangely strong female civvies," he said after seeing two girls rolling a car.  "Please, sir."  He hung up and got back to it.

Dean looked at his brother.  "Think the last one in Sunnydale was this way?"

One of the girls looked at him. "No, worse.  We were in the hellmouth then.  At least there's clean air here.  Slightly.  Sorta."  She killed a demon and they moved on.  "How do we plug the hole?" she whined when another one came at them.  "Xander, how do we plug the hole?" she shouted.

"We close the portal!" he shouted back.  "I didn't bring artillery.  Someone call Epps, see if I can borrow something big enough to take down a building!"  He moved up to get the next one, ducking a blow to his head.  "Hey, that still hurts from the last one.  Be nicer!" he said, decapitating it.  Troops in armored vehicles started to pull up but they were quickly turned on as well.  Xander pounced onto one and pointed.  "You need to fire something into that portal to close it.  Something that'll put out a high heat to mass ratio and something that'll create a surge in power.  Something higher than an RPG.  Do it now to shut that sucker down and stop more from coming!"   He hopped off and went back to the fight.

The soldier passed that on and higher artillery was brought.  In the end, a jet sent a rocket into the portal and it closed.  The last few demons were mopped up by the slayers and the DCIS team.

Danny looked at everyone.  "We all alive?"

"I'm not making zombies if you're not," Xander quipped, cracking a few people up.

"I thought you liked making zombies," Tony joked back, holding his injured arm.  "We missing anyone?" he called.

"Messer's with Holly and Crissy on a hunt of the last one that got away from them," someone reported.  "We're missing two of the girls."

"I'm hoping they're shoe shopping," Xander sighed.  He looked around then texted one.   "Yup, cleared their area, stayed to flirt with the guys they were escorting out of the danger zone."  That got a few more snickers.  He looked around.  "Merps?"

"Present," he said then went back to throwing up.  "I keep getting injured, sorry, boss."

"That's okay.  I did too," Danny promised.  "Dawn?"  She popped in.  "Can we get home?"

"No.  The fluxes from that portal closing are screwing with mine.  Sorry.  We'll have to transport the normal person way."  A jeep screamed up and she flinched, calling up a fireball.

"Whoa!" Xander ordered.  She let it go.  "Thank you.  Let's not fry a general."  He saluted.  "Sir."

"At ease, all of you.  You guys okay?"  Everyone kind of nodded.  "Good.  What the hell happened?" he shouted.

Xander pointed at the ruined portal.  "They opened it.  It was their bad guy plan to take over the world.  We see a lot of that at DCIS."

The general flinched at that name.   "Let's get you quarantined and treated.  We missing anyone?"

"We have three members on a hunt of a last demon.  Two slayers escorting cute guys, their words, out of the danger zone.  They're both sixteen," Xander said at his odd look.

"I guess that happens."  He got them retrieved and made sure everyone made it back to the National Guard base.  Because he wanted some answers.  His people could gather parts or whatever.  "What do we do with the remains?" he asked Danny, who seemed to be in charge.

"Burn them."

"I can do that.  We have an incinerator we use for weapons and drugs.  That'll work?"


"Good."  He went to pass on that order.  His field medics were looking over everyone.  Though the girls with them seemed to be doing a fine job of fussing some people to death.  He came back with another general.  "Him, sir?"

"Him," he said dryly.  "Media blackout?"

"Impossible.  It started ten minutes before we got alerted and about nine before they got here."

"You guys had a phenomenal response time," Danny assured him.  "We weren't sure of the day or we'd have given a head's up."  That got a nod from him.  "Thank you for your help."

"Not a problem.  I still want to know what happened."

"What Xander told you was correct.  The people who did this did it to take over the world.  This was their version of a terrorist act to destroy everyone.  Why use nuclear weapons when you can open a portal and call billions of things here to eat the others?"  Both generals shuddered.  "We've seen worse and better.  That's what we do at DCIS."

"I'll remember that, sir."  He left, going to check on what was going on in the city.  They might have to cordon off areas and enforce some limited curfews tonight.  One of the girls came out too.  "You should be in there."

"It's partially my job to patrol this city, General.  I need to be out there to see what sort of damage this is doing."  She left, heading down to talk to her contacts and to check on her adopted family.  Cordette was tied to a kitchen chair.  She gave her a hug.  "We're all okay, Cor.  I promise."  She beamed at that.  "You're still too young to patrol until you've passed hunter's training.  Xander's laws.  No real work until you're at least sixteen, seventeen if possible."

"I should've helped."

"Oh, sweetie," she sighed, giving her another hug.  "We had the military with us.  You couldn't have helped.  They'd have tied you up too."

"Fine."  She let herself be untied.  "Can I help now?"

"They're all gone," Alan told her.  "The news said so, Cor."

"That's right.  All I have left is patrol," Crissy teased.

Alan glared.  "Sit your butt down.  I'm sure you're starved.  Now, Crissy."  She sat down with a meek look.  "Thank you!"  He put food in front of her and his little one.  "You eat too.  That way you can patrol when it's your turn."  She beamed and dug in.  He called his son.  "Crissy and Cor are both here.  Crissy was going to patrol later.  Sure, you can do that with her, Don.  Feeding them.  She's got to be starved."  He smiled.  "That'll work.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Don's bringing dinner over then you can go with him since it'll be a curfew while they clean up the mess."

"Sure."  She yawned but kept eating.  She was starved.  "I need this after every apocalypse."

"How soon before the next one?" Charlie asked as he walked in.

She shrugged.  "Danny, Sam, and Xander have all the books that they managed to rescue from England.  Ask them while they're petting them.   I only get a head's up if it's coming my way."  She yawned again.  "Sorry."

"Cor, take her to bed," Charlie ordered.  She nodded and walked her big sister off to let her sleep.   He looked at his father.  "Did you see that?"

"I did.  That was a lot of demons."  His son sighed but nodded.  "They did good.  No deaths on this side from what I heard."

"Good.  What about Cor's training?"

"We'll ask since they're all local."

"Uncle Tony and Uncle Xander are coming?" Cor called.

"If we can," Alan called back.  He called Xander's cellphone, getting Tony.  "Good, one of you is alive.  Cor wanted to know if you'd come visit and talk about her future training."  Tony said something and he nodded. "I get that.  Crissy's here.  She came to check on her.  No, I tied her to a chair because she wanted to go help.  Exactly.  Sure, that's good.  Thanks, Tony."  He hung up.  "Tomorrow at lunch, Cor."  She squealed and danced around.  He shook his head.  "She's a happy girl."

"It's a blessing.  She could be angsting over it."  Charlie picked at the rest of Crissy's sandwich but Cor came back to claim them both and eat in front of his old laptop so she could play her newest favorite educational game while she ate.  The two men shared a look then Charlie went to help while Alan got to work adding to dinner.  All the girls ate like a herd of cows each.  Even the little ones.


Mac Taylor watched the battle, growling when he saw who was fighting.  Don watched him watch the replay, catching sight of a friend.  "He's safe.  He sent me an email saying he only got a few cuts, Mac," he said quietly.

"He can't be!  He was there!"

Don nodded.  "He was."  He looked at the offer on his desk then called.  "Still need me?"  He nodded.  "Please.  I'd like that.  Can I do that tomorrow?"  He smiled.  "Thanks, Tony."  He hung up.  "I'm heading out there to work with them, Mac.  It'll be fine."  He gathered things and headed home for the night.  He'd pack tomorrow if the job was still open.

Mac growled.  "Don!"  He just waved over his shoulder.  "Bring him back here."

Don turned to look at him.  "How 'bout I go watch his back, Mac?"  He turned and walked off again.  That had been bad and they clearly needed more people.  He was a good detective and they had wanted him for that before.  So maybe he'd still meet criteria.


Greg Sanders stared at the tv.  Grissom watched him watch it.  "Didn't they offer you a position last year?"

"Yeah," he said quietly, looking back at him.  "They did."

Grissom nodded.  "I guess this is their hardest case yet."

"They do real investigative work but that was an emergency, Griss."  He went back to watching the replay.  "They probably need more people."

"You have that prior offer, Greg."

He nodded.  "I know."  He considered it.  "I might agree to be a regional liaison if they could train me in how to deal with it."

"I'm sure they could."  He patted him on the back.  "Let me know what they say."  Greg nodded, going to call Tony to talk about that.

Nick leaned in to look at the tv then at Grissom.  "Why is he pouting?"
"They offered him a spot on an investigative team last year."

"Wow.  So he's heading?"

"He's checking to see if they need regional liaisons."

"They probably would.  Those were nasty."   He left, going to talk to Warrick about this.  Greg was in a funny mood and they were all watching him.  Right now he could go into a fit of anger if they upset him or of happiness if he decided it was good news.  Hodges might do it to make him explode so it'd be over with but they wanted to be out of range.  "They offered Greggo a job last year on an investigative team."

Warrick nodded.  "They've got to have strong, free thinkers to deal with that.  I'm still wondering about all those girls that came.  Some of them were teenagers."

"Most of them were teenagers."  Greg walked in.   "Longer than average story but I knew one who's there and we write now and then.  Are you guys going to freak out if I get regional liaison classes?"

"No.  It could help us on some cases," Nick said honestly.  "We had that one last year with the slime no one could identify."

Greg nodded. "That's what I was thinking.  They said they do offer those classes.  Including lab classes."  He smirked. "I'll talk Hodges into that."  He walked off to talk to him.  "They offer lab tech classes," he told Hodges.

"Taught by?"

"The former tech at NCIS.  She's the head of their labs."

Hodges looked impressed.  "Definitely a free thinker.  We'll see.  I want formal documentation so I can look it over."  He nodded, pointing at the fax machine in the corner.  "You got me some?"

"I got me some and you can look it over too."  He smirked and went to get some coffee then work on his current case.

Hodges shook his head but he did sit down with it to look it over.


Horatio Caine had been on a case out in the Everglades all day.  So when he walked into the break room that night for coffee he had to stop and stare in horror at the news Eric Delko was watching.  "What was that?"

"That was LA earlier, H."  He pointed.  "That's Wolfe."  They watched as he and the girl with him worked very well to protect each other.  Then the camera moved off him to show others.  "It was solved earlier.  Took about five hours."  He sipped his own coffee.  "I'm wondering why the high girl contingent."

"I do not know," he admitted, coming over to listen to what they were saying.  "Can you get us a full feed?  Maybe we'll be able to find our errant tech and  talk some sense into him."

Eric looked at him.  "He looks pretty comfortable there, H.  That one guy said he could come back if he wasn't."

"I do not like my people being in that sort of danger."

"H, if it happened here, all cops would be called out.  I'm sure that's what that was."  He walked off, leaving him to huff and mentally rant in peace.  Wolfe had looked good doing that.  Maybe he had gotten over the stuff that made him an asshole to work with.  Apparently they even let him wear his track jackets to work.

Horatio fumed about his missing tech.  That one guy had poached his tech and he was not happy.  Perhaps it was time someone felt his anger.  He went to find that contact sheet and call out there.  "May I speak to Officer Wolfe please?"  He smiled, writing down the proper contact number.  "Thank you."  He hung up and called that one.  "Mr. Wolfe please?"  He listened to the night duty officer tell him he was already in his apartment for the night.  "Tell him to call me?  Horatio Caine.  He should still have the number at the lab.  Thank you.  No, not an emergency but a few questions need to be answered."  He hung up and sat down to fume.  How dare they poach his people!


Gibbs called his former people.  "DiNozzo, you good?"  He nodded at his cheery assurances they were all fine.  "I saw.  We all saw.  You team looked decent."  He smirked at the praise he had for his people.  "All those girls?"  Tony explained it to him.  "You need a firmer hand, DiNozzo.  The girls were too young."  Tony shot back that it was their duty and they were jumping in.  Plus they were trained.  "They're still girls."  His former agent said something smart and hung up.  He growled.  "He's getting a swelled head," he decided.  Maybe he would arrange things so DiNozzo would be coming back soon.


As long as he didn't bring that army of girls with him.

He went to make plans to see that done.  He wanted his people back.  They were in too much danger and no one competent was over them at the moment.  A linguist, even a military one, wasn't going to be able to handle that sort of situation.  It was clear DiNozzo had hired some quality people so now he could let them handle it.


The president walked into the meeting area later that night, nodding at Xander.  "We all in?"

"Crissy is off with Cor and doing a patrol tonight with the local liaison," he said quietly. "The other local girl needed a few stitches so she's taking tonight off but she'll brief a few of the ones who've slept and healed so they can fill in.  Danny fell asleep about an hour ago, sir.  I can get him up for you."

"First, let's talk."  He let Xander walk him outside.  "Are we expecting more of those?"

"No.  That plan took years to build up to and we know who did it.  We're going after them as a team tomorrow."  He smiled and nodded.  "Some may hide on some realms but I've already let it be known that we want them delivered to us.  We might even pay a reward within reason."  That got another nod.  "Wolfram and Hart have to go down though.  We've been working on it since I got there."

"I know you have, I've seen your monthly progress reports, Xander."  He smiled and clapped him on the shoulder.  "You've saved a lot of lives working against the evil in this world.  Especially today getting the right orders to one of the soldiers.  Good work, and good work training the girls."

"That's not just me.  I started it but I turned it over to more experienced people like Dean and Sam," he said with a point at them where they were talking to someone.  "And Major Sheppard and his team, who do our armory and training for the whole base."

He nodded.  "I'll put credit where credit is due, Xander, but you do deserve some of it.  It was your plan on how to lead the battle from what I heard."  He smiled and walked back inside, finding Danny's bunk easily enough.  He nudged the cot, nodding at him.  Danny grabbed his glasses and followed.   "You did good."

"I'm sensing a 'but'."

"No but.  A few meetings to brief people, a lot of exposure, but no buts."

Danny nodded.  "I expected that.  How wide spread was that shown?"

"International.  Even the International Space Station saw it because we were trying to use one of their cameras to see if we could analyze the portals."

"Dawn's got us here."

"I saw that."  He smiled.  "You did good, Doctor Jackson."

"Thank you, sir."

"Not a problem.  How are you getting home?"

"Military transport in the morning.  We have a few minor injuries, some stress injuries, and Merps, who got a claw in the stomach.  We've already talked and he said he wanted to transfer to the FBI and do a desk job instead.  Fewer headaches.  We'll let him liaison."

"I'll let someone there know."  He smiled.  "Xander tried to say it wasn't his good work."

"Xander was raised around some trifling girls who I'd like to smack if we can find one and wake the other," he said honestly.  "Is Jack freaking out?"

"You have no idea the fit I heard on the way over."

Danny smiled.  "Sorry.  I didn't call him."

"That was a good part of the fit."  He smiled.  "Very good work and we'll all be at the meetings tomorrow here in the federal center.  You can ride in with me."

"Yes, sir.  Should I keep Tony or Xander?"

"No, Xander scares agents from what I've heard.  They don't know what to do around him.  DiNozzo might but you'll need someone to do the reports.  Serves him right for making Gibbs growl at me for him stealing Abby and himself."  Danny laughed.  "He did.  In public.  My guard suggested he go for coffee."  He walked off smiling.  "I'll pick you up in the morning, Doctor Jackson."

"Yes, sir.  I'll try to be awake."  He left, going to find a shower and BDU's for the morning.  It was the only clean clothes he'd have for a while, unless he could talk Dawn into getting him some and sending it to him tomorrow.  He found Xander still up and swatted him.  "It was your plan and partially your training.  Take compliments with a 'thank you' and walk off even if you don't think you deserve it."  He went to see Dean and Sam and whoever they were talking to.  "Boys."

"Danny," Dean said with a grin.  "Dad, this is Doctor Jackson, head of DCIS.  They who are shielding us from the law at the moment by making us deal with the squealing slayers."

"Thank you for watching out for my boys," he said, shaking his hand.  "Have they been good?"

"Mostly.  Dean's been teaching the girls how to sneak off base to go shopping now and then."

"I'm not going bra shopping with twenty girls," Dean said dryly.  His father laughed.  "Honestly.  That's what they wanted.  I'd rather teach them to sneak.  Better for their training anyway."  Xander stretched against the side of the building.  "Xander?"  He came over.  "This is our dad, John."

"You have great sons and they're a great help to me and the slayers," he said, shaking his hand.   "They can even break egos when all I want to do is spank a few of them."

"I have," Sam assured him.  "That's what fixed her too."  His father laughed.  "It was.  She thought she was all powerful because of her gifts.  Proved she wasn't because if she was I wouldn't have been able to get her."

"Sounds like you boys have been doing good work," he said.  He looked over but Xander was gone.  "Ninja?"

"Not quite," Dean said, pointing at him.

"You do realize his back's hurt?" John asked his older son.

Dean nodded. "Yeah, but if we ask, he'll stomp off and probably draw a demon who wants to kill him too.  Then he'll get hurt fighting it and we'll have to tie him down again.  All that good stuff."

"Well, it could be him finding another girl to date," Sam offered with a small grin.  "Then we'd have to chase her down, arrest her, stop her evil plan, probably to kill us all."  Danny walked off laughing.  "Yeah, keep it up, remember you had two of those this year too," he called after him. "The next one and I'm buying you a priest's collar."

"I'll let Jack pick my next one," he quipped back.  He walked inside and went back to his bunk.  It had been a long day.  He needed his sleep.  He'd even get it until Jack came over to thump him a few hours later.  He looked at him.  "Another invasion?"  Jack shook his head.  "President here yet?"  Jack smirked but shook his head.  "Then go away, Jack.  It's too early for this"   He put his head back down, ignoring the laughter above him.

Tony walked in an hour later and whistled.  "Transport back to base is ready!  Everyone going come on.  Slayers in one ride, agents in the other!"

"Why?" one slayer whined.  "I don't want to talk to them."

"To keep you from trying to drag one of the guys into the storage area.  Let's go."  They picked up and left, heading for their rides.  Xander and Dean riding herd on the slayers while Sammy led.  Him letting the agents be adults and get there.  He went to check, waking up a few people.  Not Danny because he had to do meetings, but everyone else.

"Take Sheppard with you.  Some of the things they identified came from their project," Jack ordered.  "He does have clearance."

"Sure.  Let's go, boys."  They followed him out to the transport with the last few.  They even ended up on the plane with the slayers.  Which made Tony cackle once he was safely on the other one.  "Sometimes they're good and sometimes they're little hell beasts."

Xander looked back at him.  "They are teenage girls," he agreed.

"Shouldn't you be riding with the girls?" Ryan teased.

Xander smirked at him.  "No.  Otherwise, I'd have to correct some assumptions."

Dean laughed.  "Yes we would.  But no food for a food fight."

"I think it's because we only fed them MRE's," Sam told them.  "They're starving so they're acting up.  Who are those two military guys?"

"People who worked where Danny had," Tony told them.  "We found some things from their classified project in Abby's 'I have no idea what this thingy does' box."  He sat down.  "We all on?"  They nodded.  "Then let's go whenever we can,"  he told the waiting pilot, making him go to deal with the plane.  The other one taxied out past them and they followed a few seconds later.  "Xander, when are you giving them driving lessons?"

Xander frowned.  "I haven't met a slayer, in four that I used to know, that could drive, Tony."  He frowned.  "They don't pay attention to the road.  They pay attention to find a demon they can hit with the car."

"We'll see if any of them are capable of it," Sam promised.

"Not in *my* car," Dean added dryly.

Xander nodded.  "I can understand that.  Impala's are nearly indestructible but nothing's that strong."

"You can't use my mustang either but I'm sure we can arrange for driver's ed," Tony told them.

"Danny said they get to go to public school this next fall."

Matt Sheppard looked at him.  "Full time?"  That got a nod.  "Then we'll need to shift their schedule for training."

"It'll give them something to do between three and dinner," Xander told him.  "Then right afterward."  That got a few nods.  "Anyone want to go school shopping with them?"

"We just got done with one apocalypse, let's wait on the next one," Danny Messer ordered dryly.  Because all of those girls going shopping together would be one in his book.  Especially since their mall was too small to have a food court.  A few booths but no food court.


John Sheppard looked at Xander that night.  "I had to break a few hearts."

Xander nodded.  "We've had that talk with them a few times.  Anyone pinch?"

"Two tried to pull us into wrestling matches.  Totally flummoxed McKay."

Xander smirked.  "They're still teenage girls."

"I noticed.  Do you think any are going to go military?"

Xander shrugged.  "We're waiting to see if they age out of their powers.  There's an old diary saying they might age out at twenty-three."

"Even without their powers they're still phenomenally trained," John told him.  "They learn a lot of things that normal grunts don't or won't ever find out.  On places like my project, that would come in handy."

"I've heard."  John glared.  Xander grinned back.  "Some of the underground talks about you guys.  They thought you had found it and were trying to get it to wake up."

"No, it's awake.  It's also no longer underwater."

"Congrats.  If they wanted to do that, I'd let Danny talk them into it.  I will be sending most of them to college if they want to go.  I don't want them to age out of it and not have anything."

"Good.  Then that's good for them.  If any of them want to go military, have them talk to Danny about special projects.  We could use them, powers or not."  Xander nodded.  "Thanks."

"Not a problem.  Some might.  A few of the girls are very gung ho and think Benny Ray is all that because of his training.  We'd have to see.  They're some of the younger teens.  Did you want to recruit in the older ones?"

"There's three I saw that have the right mindset for my project."  He pointed at the ones playing.  "The two redheads arm wrestling and the blonde doing crossword puzzles.  The one who just hit the younger one with her book."

Xander smiled.  "The two redheads are seventeen next year.  The blonde is only fifteen."  He looked at him.  "They have to be seventeen to apply for patrol positions but I'll ask them."  He nodded and left him alone.  Xander walked further into the room.  "The new guy from the special project said you guys did a good job too."  They all smiled.  "He also said that any of you who were thinking about going military should talk to Danny about their projects."  He patted one of the young ones on the head. "You should be in bed.  It's nine."  The girls with that bedtime groaned but headed up.  He smiled and headed back to his apartment.  He ran into Tony in the hallway.  "How would we do their college stuff?"

Tony shrugged.  "I don't know.  Maybe a year off for patrols and things.  We'll sit down and talk about it in a few weeks, Xander. Even the older girls aren't educationally ready for that."  That got a nod.  "Are we sure they'll age out of it?"

"We're pretty sure.  Sam found an old diary in the back of the stacks that had first hand observations of a girl that got called at twenty-one.  She made it to twenty-two, fell into a coma after a bad battle, woke up after a few months, then went back to it until she woke up and they had faded one morning a few days after her birthday.  Of course, the watcher kept sending her out so she died, but we're thinking it'll still happen.  We have one that's twenty-one so we'll see in two years."

"Good.  We'll talk with them about what they want to do afterward."

"College age is a good age to hunt people," Xander admitted.  Danny walked past them.  "Night."

"Night.  Worry about them being able to get to grade standard first.  Some of those girls only have remedial education from the old bastards."

"True," Xander agreed.  Tony smiled.  "I know.  We'll have to see what we can do."  That got a nod and Xander walked off.  "Thanks, guys.  Night."  He went to think about that in his apartment.  Someone would have to deal with the girls who were behind.  A few of the older teenagers were only working on the sixth grade level.  He'd have to talk to the local school tomorrow.  Plus push them a bit farther and harder in their classes this summer.


Danny Jackson smiled, shaking the hand of the young girl.  "Hi, Cordette."

"No Uncle Tony and Xander?"

Dawn opened a portal and let Tony and Xander both out.  "Just call, guys.  It's easier now."  She waved and closed the portal.

"We had to get the other girls settled," Xander said, picking her up to hug with a groan.  "So big.  Nearly too big to cuddle."

"Nah-uh!  Uncle Charlie said even he's not too big to cuddle."  She smiled, pulling Tony over to hug her too.  "Hi.  You did good.  Even Daddy Alan said so."

"Thanks, kiddo."  Tony took her to sit down.  "How is your training going?"

"I guess it's okay."  She looked up and smiled as Don walked in.  "He's been working on my training."

"Good," Xander agreed.  "We wanted him to.  How's she doing?"

"She's good.  We have a self-defense class through the agency for our kids.  I put her into it.  I didn't tell the trainer anything but he's noticed I'm sure.  Never says anything.  He does say she's picking it up extremely well."

"For most of the girls it's like waking memories and letting their bodies train with the old memories," Xander told him.  "Has she been doing her tapes of the classes we give?"  That got a nod.  "How's her regular classwork?"

"She got an A in math the other day."  She beamed.  "Charlie was so proud he was corrupting her to his side of the family."  Both guys laughed and he relaxed.  "Are we missing stuff?"

"Not yet," Xander told him.  "Dean and I talked; the easiest time to start them on hunting training is about fourteen since they're not allowed on patrol until they're seventeen.  Unless it's an emergency then anyone fully trained goes."

"Hunting like deer?" Don asked, sitting across from them.

"Hunting like manhunting more often than not," Tony admitted. "The same as we'd have to hunt down a demon that might be smart or a perp."

Don nodded.  "We can help with that.  I do know someone on the wanted man teams.  He's the third highest sniper right now."

"We do teach them all weapons," Xander warned.  "For most of the girls, they turn fifteen and weapons become cool."

"I've taken her to the range."

"It was loud," she complained.

Xander smiled.  "Yup but sometimes loud works.  You have to learn guns just like you have to learn crossbows and swords, Cor."  She nodded at that, beaming at him.  "So far you've done very good but Don wanted to talk about what you needed to learn later on, like when you're ten and older."

"That's fine.  I get to play with swords?"

"Yup," Tony agreed.  "Xander has all the girls learn sword work and crossbows."

"Stakes, and guns, and regular bows.  Basically you should be able to pick up anything and use it if you have to," he told Don, who nodded.  "Guns are taught to them too.  So are throwing knives because Dean does know that."

"Sure.  I know a few weapons people who could help her with that.  Since we all know locally, I doubt they'll complain too much.  Not after two days ago."

Xander grinned.  "A lot of people will forget anything but it was an invasion.  The human mind likes to forget things that they don't understand."

"I've seen that happening.  But we'll deal."  He smiled at Cor.  "Going to lunch with them?"  She squealed and hugged them both.  "I've got the afternoon off."

"That's cool.  We can test her, see where she's falling after lunch."  He patted her on the head.  "Tony?"

"We can save Danny from the meetings later."  That got a nod and they went to eat lunch wherever she wanted.


The gate guard looked at the man getting out of the sedan.  "Sir, case or personal?"


The guard looked at his ID, seeing the picture next to the ID.  "He's not on base."  He looked at him.  "He's off on a case with his current partner but he's expected back tonight."

"I have an interview in a few hours."

"That's fine then."  He called someone.  "I have a detective here to interview in a few hours, ma'am."  He smiled.  "That's fine.  Thank you."  He looked at him.  "Go ahead and park in the lot with the pink square on the sign then head for the main building.  That's the one with the window missing," he said with a point.  "Abby tested something and it blew it out.  Tony might be a bit late.  He went to check on one of the young slayers.  I will give you the standard warning - the girls will squeal and possibly pounce."

Don smiled.  "I can handle that."  He got in and went to park then look around a bit. It was a pretty base.  Someone had planted a few pretty bushes here and there.  One made him give it a confused look.  It was ugly, thorny, and in the middle of a path.

Someone leaned out a door.  "Give it a nudge with your foot.  It's taking a nap," he called.  "It's someone's pet."  Don did that and it woke up, moving off to a sunnier spot to nap.  "This way, Detective."  He walked in.  "You're which one?"

"Flack, out of New York.  Tony tried to snatch me at the same time he got Danny."

"That's fine.  We've had a few of the guys that he tried to recruit call us after the invasion.  We could use another team anyway.  A lot of cases got sent that're a bit old."  He walked him to the caf.  "Let's get you a snack first.  Danny's coming back with Tony and Xander.  He's been in meetings since then and they went to visit a younger slayer living out there."


"The girls."

"Oh."  He nodded, getting some coffee.  Someone would explain things to him.  He looked at the pastry tray but passed it by.

"I'd eat if you're hungry. The girls will hoover that down and there won't be any left in an hour."  Don smiled, taking a muffin for himself.  He heard the update over his headset.  "Sounds like they're back."  He led him with a head nod to the doors.  Danny was walking in looking tired.  "Sir, Detective Flack."

Tony looked at him.  "You sure you want to deal with this?  It's not all pretty and people do bad things to the demons too.  Even the peaceful species."

He nodded. "I can handle that.  Both sides need to be protected from the other.  There's some pains in the ass who're human and I'm sure you've run into demons doing the same bad things I have humans."

"Good," Danny agreed.  "Hired.  Tony, set him up for us?"  He nodded.  "Then we'll see what sort of team you're on.  Xander, do you have any open cases?"

"Six, seven, the same as usual," he said dryly.  "Three ghosts I'm handing over to Dean for field training later this week.  Two I'm looking up what they are.  Wolfram and Hart.  Then the new team case that hit my desk last night for research."

Sam walked past him.  "Someone handed it to me.  I've got it narrowed down to two clans.  Doesn't look that serious.  The markings point toward a clan meeting sort of event, not a rip and tear the people up event.  The clan's aren't peaceful if I'm right but we'll probably be able to find one and monitor it."

Danny smiled.  "Want a permanent job?"

"Ask me before we go."  That got a nod and they walked off.   "Dean was going to ask if we had stuff for field trials.  He thinks two of the girls can start working with the ones in the field.  He thinks we have one that won't be able to handle it."

"Then we might be able to find a better job for her," Xander agreed.  "Meet me at my desk after I get Don assigned stuff?"  He nodded, heading off.  "Okay.  Hi, Xander Harris, head of the Slayer's Council."

"Detective Don Flack Junior, NYPD."

He grinned.  "You're one of us now, Don."  He nodded and led him to a desk.  "Okay, let's see who's empty.  He pointed.  "That's Merps's desk. He's transferring out due to injuries and he wants a desk job so you can have his.  Tony, if we get more people we might need a bit more room for teams."

"We have the other two rooms we can take up."  He pointed.

Xander came to look at the walls.  "Do we want to pod us or room us?"

"Not really.  Too many people yell across the room at you for stuff instead of looking it up."

Xander nodded that was true.  He checked a wall.  "I can take out this one.  There's a closet on the other side.  Give me a few days."

"We don't have maintenance people?" Don asked.  "Should I bring in a stock of light bulbs?"

"We have no idea," Tony admitted.  "I put in a request to have something fixed and Xander got onto it that night because he was bored.  It seems like we have people who take out the trash.  Other than that?"  He shrugged.  "No one's really sure."  Don laughed.  "It's a department mystery."   He looked around.  "Did Merps already leave?"

"Not yet.  He's packing."

Tony checked his desk.  "Still has stuff in here.  But you can have that one for now.  If you don't like being beside the window, we'll move you later on.  Now, the team thing.  Do you absolutely want to work with Danny?"

"I liked working with Danny.  We do well together."

"His team's going to be missing Merps anyway," Xander said dryly.

"True.  Then I guess you can take his place there too."  Don relaxed and nodded.  "Let's get you housing set up."  He walked him over to the dorms.  "Cloris?" he called.  She came out of her office.  "Newbie.  Detective Don Flack, NYPD."

She shook his hand.  "We've got three open apartments.  One's on the third floor, one's on the fifth.  One's down here but you might be asked to move if we get a handicapped agent."

"I don't mind living higher up," he promised. "Elevators?"

She snorted. "Of course.   This isn't some ancient walk up."  She looked at Tony.  "If we have a new team coming in, make them married people?"

Tony nodded.  "We might be able to move some  people that way.  Dean and Sam so they have separate rooms?  Maybe me and Xander?"  She nodded that would be fine with her.  "Bring it to Danny's attention."  He led Don up to the empty apartment, letting him look around it.  "We do standard meals in the caf but the coffee and snacks center is always open.  You can cook here if you're feeling anti social or just need some quiet away from the girls.  Fair warning, they pinch.  Swat them gently."  Don smiled and nodded.  "This good?"

"This is really nice."

"Cool."  He walked him back out to his car.  "Go pack and come back, Don."  He grinned, heading back to do that.  He went inside to get things ready.  "Cloris is coming," he called into Danny's office before hitting his own desk.  Dean and Xander were going over the ghost cases.  "If they do, they have to write a report."

"So do all field watchers," Xander agreed.  That got a nod from Dean, he had done this before for them.  "Who do we have ready?"

"I've got six good candidates.  We'll take two girls to each spot, let them figure out what you already know."  He nodded, handing them over.  "Thanks, Xander.  What're we doing about that one?"

Xander leaned back.  "I don't know," he admitted.  "We won't need her in the field.  Is she good at anything around here?"

"She's been helping Abby.  You think she might want to go that way?"

He shrugged.  "If she does, we could make her a regional liaison when she gets hired into a lab.  We've got to figure out college stuff too."

Dean nodded. "Good point.  Twenty-three isn't so old."

"No it's not and a lot of vamps and other things seem to prey on the college aged.  So send them at twenty-one or so?"  That got a nod and a shrug.  "We'll talk about that later and I'll ask Abby about what that one's been doing to see if she's got an idea.  Thanks, Dean."

"Welcome."  He left, going to find those girls and tell them they were heading off on cases.  Sam gave him a look.  "You coming?"

"Need me to?"

"Nah, I should be able to handle it," he promised.  "How long before you think Dad shows up?"

"Two more days to drive."  Dean smirked, heading off with the first set.  They were relatively nearby.  They could do it and be back in two days.  Then they'd work on the other two.

Danny walked into the squad room area.  "Problems?"

"Running out of housing if we get another team," Xander said, looking at him.  "Tony was talking about moving to one of the family ones.  His movies need more room."

Danny grinned.  "That's one solution.  I'm not sure what we're doing.  Other than that?"

"I have a slayer who cannot handle stress.  We're trying to figure out what to do with her if she can't do field work."

Danny nodded.  "I can understand that.  Not everyone's meant to be in combat."  He patted him on the head.  "Any other issues?"

"I'm knocking down that wall to give us more room so we'll need more desks."

Danny nodded.   "I'll get on that.  Thanks, Xander.  The others?"  He let him see.  He looked at the Wolfram and Hart one.  "Get Tony to see if we can't get some cooperation for that one.  Some of that is FBI crimes."

"They're still run by demons."

"But most of the lesser ones are human.  The other Feds can handle them.  That should be a team case, not an individual one."  Xander nodded.  "So have him call someone in DC."  He patted him.  "Then write me reports?"  Xander handed over his stack.  "Ah, the delivery fairy hadn't visited."  He walked off after visiting a few other inboxes that should have things for him but the little winged fairy that moved in and decided he was delivering things hadn't visited yet.  One had a note saying he'd have it done when he got out of the infirmary after the bad food he made himself the night before.


Xander leaned into the office at the FBI the next day.  "Is it time for me?"  The agent in there waved him in.  He walked in with the file. "I have ten boxes of information to back up what we know.  I've been working on the structure problem to be honest.  They're multi-national and annoying."

He looked at the case then at him.  "You can prove all this?"  Xander nodded.  "Why haven't you arrested and turned someone?"

"Because they have a clause they signed saying if they hand over any information on the group then they're going to be killed and they agreed to it.  If they die then Wolfram and Hart can bring them back to life as minions they don't have to pay.  They have a few like that.  Pesky soul clauses."

He grimaced.  "So they can't?"

"They can't.  So I'm working with what we do know and the few people who have turned.  I found one and he wasn't happy but he wasn't fully alive either.  They were playing with him."

Fornell grimaced.  "This is a wreck."

"It was their senior board who were over the invasion," he said quietly.  He left and came back with the handtruck of boxes, opening one to pull out a file. "This is their flow chart of management."  He pointed.  "The ones edged in black were over the invasion.  The ones in red are alive, somewhere.  We know they're demons.  Half the senior board are hiding off    plane.  It's a good time to get them."

He nodded, looking it over.  "The ones left alone are human?"

"The ones with the pink x in the corner I haven't checked yet."

He nodded at the few of them left.  "Okay.  Let me look this over, Harris."  He looked at him.  "Not bad.  We'll see what my guys can come up with."  Xander grinned.  "How's DiNozzo?  He's still driving Gibbs insane from a distance."

"He's good.  His team's on a case in Chicago right now.  Not something huge but another ritual case."

"Good to know."  He waved him off.  "Let me handle it.  I'll call in a few days."  He nodded and left.  Fornell called up his own legal advisor for the department.  "Come here, please?"  He had noticed his name on the chart.  "New case," he said at the look at the boxes.  The lawyer walked in and paused when he saw what he was looking at.  "So, what's going on?" he asked with a feral smile.

"I can't tell you.  They'll kill me.  They can do it from a distance by magic, Fornell."

"You will help me."  He nodded at that.  That'd save his own life.  "Good.  Let's see where we can start with warrants for arrest and confiscating information."  They got down to it and it was good.  They'd destroy this hidden empire so there weren't any more invasions like the last one.


Horatio and Mac met at the airport in North Dakota.  "Did Mr. Harris poach from you too, Mac?" Horatio asked, spotting his friend's back.

Mac turned to look at him.  "DiNozzo did.  Harris poached?"

"Ryan Wolfe.  I let him go to interview and he sent me a voicemail saying he was staying.  By that night all his things were gone as well.  He sent the Chief a postcard to tell him he was retiring.  It did not make for a happy group of higher ups."

Mac smirked.  "They came to openly recruit Flack and Messer.  Danny left an hour after Tony talked to him and all his stuff was out of New York by midnight.  Whisked away like they were moving fairies.  Think they were?"

"I'm not sure I want to contemplate that."

Mac laughed, nodding.  "I can see why.  Heading there to see your boy?"

"I am.  I want some answers."

"Me too.  Share a ride?"

"If you want."  They went to get the rental and headed out to the base.  Horatio looked around as Mac drove.  "It's pretty country."

"It is.  I'm guessing they all live near the headquarters."

"Harris mentioned free housing to Eric when he was making his offer to Wolfe."

"Think it's something like a base then?"

"It could be.  Do you know where they are?"

"I do, mostly.  My computer tech tracked the email address Danny uses to a small town about two hours away."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Think they're fine after that battle?"

"I do hope so.  I'm still wondering about all those girls that were there."

"Maybe we can find someone to answer some real questions before we pull people back where they belong," Mac said.  Horatio smiled at that idea.  "Don Flack decided to come out too.  It's making Stella pout."

"We're lucky they haven't poached more people from our labs.  We do have good ones."

"We do have good people.  Did they poach from Grissom?"

"Not sure.  He never said anything and I haven't seen any openings for higher CSI out there."

"Hmm.  So they went after specific people with specific skills."

"I'd think they'd be looking for open-minded people," Horatio admitted after a second.  "People who could handle the subject matter."

Mac nodded.  "I'm not sure if I could have without proof."  He checked the directions he had downloaded and followed them off the highway to a lesser road. "It's odd not to have buildings everywhere around you."

"It is, or swamps."

Mac laughed.  "Lots of Everglade cases?"

"Yes.  Calleigh has been complaining about all the cases out there.  She had a gator nearly eat her evidence case the other day."  Mac laughed louder.  "Exactly."

"Have you had to call them?"

"Not yet.  Our regional person apparently is keeping those cases under wraps."  He watched a state trooper go screaming past with lights and sirens on.  "Let's hope we won't be pulled into that."  They were quiet until they passed by the wreck a bit farther on.  "Maybe they moved them here because nothing truly horrible happens out this way."

"They've still got their share of crimes but less because there's fewer people.  I'd guess it'd give them time to defrag after bad cases."  He turned off the highway and onto another one, noticing the signs for the base.  "Hmm.  Maybe they are on a base.  That's in the town we're going to."

Horatio smirked at his friend.  "It'd be a good use."

"Yes it would."  They made it there about forty-five minutes later and the gate guard stopped them.  "We're here to see Messer and Wolfe please?"  He held up his work ID.

"Case, Detective, or personal?"

"Personal," Horatio said, holding up his own ID.

He nodded.  "Agent Wolfe won't be back for a few hours.  They're on their way after the situation in Chicago.  Messer is in the residence hall.  Park in the pink square lot and you can walk over.  It's the left tower, sir."

That got a nod and Mac parked where indicated.  It was in clear sight of the guards.  A good security precaution. They walked around, looking at things.  It was a well-tended base.  Even if they did have to walk around a bush in the middle of the sidewalk.  Which got up and walked off with what sounded like a huff because Horatio's shadow had blocked out the sun on it.  Mac laughed.  "Good pet I guess.  Easy to care for probably."

Horatio looked at the bush then at him.  "Think it's Danny's?"

"No.  He didn't seem like the pet sort."  He looked down at the cat staring at them.  "Hey, kitty.  Can we pass?"  It walked on and was picked up by a young girl, who smiled. "Good afternoon."

"Hi.  Case?"

"Looking for Wolfe and Messer."

"Danny lives on the sixth floor of the single's building."  She pointed.  "But he might be with the cute new guy helping him unpack on three."

Mac nodded.  "Thank you, miss."  They walked on, finding the entrance to the building easily enough.  He found the buzzer for Danny's apartment and used it.

"What?" a voice asked.  "Heading down to help Don unpack."

"It's me," Mac said.

There was a pause.  "Meet me on three, Mac."  He cut off.

Horatio looked at him.  "He doesn't sound totally happy."

"It happens."  They took the elevator to three and found Danny getting off one of his own.  "Stella is beyond livid that you don't write."

"Haven't had the chance to."  He looked him over.  "You look good."

"You do too.  I caught that invasion.  You good?"

Danny shrugged.  "A few big scratches, a dent on the shoulder.  Could've been worse. The slayers backed us up beautifully."  He knocked on a door then walked in.  "You got more visitors."

"Awww."  He smirked at Mac.  "My dad quit yelling yet?"

"Haven't seen him."

"He threatened to blow up the police commissioner's office if he let me go."

"Then no, he's probably fine."  Don nodded, heading back into the kitchen.  He looked around.  "This is nicer than the one I had on base."

"We only head out of town every few cases," Danny admitted.  "If we still had the moving company on retainer, it'd be done," he taunted.  "I walked in from filling out forms and it was already here and set up for me."

Don smirked.  "I had to get my mother's blessing.  She's vowing to send cookies and hopes one of the girls is around my age and single."

"Nah, most are teenagers and pinch," Danny said dryly.  "If you're whistling, you're not being stealthy!" he shouted suddenly.  The whistling in the hall stopped and the girl walked in with the table. "Thanks, Hannah."

"You're welcome," she said cheerfully.  She smiled at the two men she didn't know.  "More newbies?  I can show you around."

"The dark one's my former boss," Danny told her.  "He's a Marine and is probably thinking about rescuing me from you girls."

She giggled and swatted him gently.  "Why would he be so silly?  We need to learn how to deal with men.  Even if Ryan is shy and mean because he hides from us and won't let us talk to him if there's no one else around."

"That's because one of you tried to get into his panties," Danny said dryly.  "He doesn't want someone that young."

"Shoot," she muttered.  She blinked her big, green eyes at Don.

"Oh, no!  I only like 'em legal and with a career."

"Damn it," she muttered.  Danny swatted her.  "Hey!  Watch the hair!" she pouted.  She gave them both hugs, without groping because she did have some self control, then left.  She went to pout at Sam.  He'd let her and only hand her a book to do something useful.  She could help him research *and* stare at him.  She was a talented girl.

Danny shrugged at the incredulous looks.  "She's sixteen.  They do that.  There's a whole bunch of them that do that."

"Cornered me at dinner last night," Don agreed.  He moved the table with a moan of pain for his poor back but Danny came over to help.  "Can we borrow the super strong stuff?"

"Only if you go train with Dean," Danny quipped back.  "Dig in, guys.  You can help him unpack."  They got to work helping and watching them.  Danny did take a bathroom break and texted Ryan to warn him since he was on his way back.  He got one back and came out to call the infirmary.  "Wolfe said they've got a sprained wrist and a slight concussion coming back from the scene in Chicago," he reported.  "They should be in within twenty.  Send Wolfe to Don's place please?"  He smiled as he hung up.  "Infirmary will have it."

"We have our own docs?" Don asked.

"Yeah.  Good docs.  Tony chose people who could handle the strange stuff or anything that came up."

"I guess that's pretty cool."  He grinned and went back to moving.  "Where is it?"

"Basement of the main building.  We've got our own ward and the special coma ward down there too."

"Special coma ward?" Mac asked, looking concerned.

"An explosion in LA right after the Sunnydale thing took out a lot of people.  Knocked them into a magical coma.  We have no idea how six are up but there's more still down so we're waiting.  Xander thinks it'll be sometime this year.   No idea why he says so though.  He's too busy to find most days."

"How many jobs does that guy do?" Don asked.

"He's over the girls, does cases like we do, is third in command, our handyman, handling some of the recruiting now and then.  He's a busy guy," Danny agreed.  "Tony's looking at someone to take some of it but only the stuffy dude in the coma can wake up and take the girls from him.  We're expecting some yelling."

Don nodded.  "Makes sense ta me."  He put up the rest of the movies he was working on and got another box.  Ryan tapped then leaned in.  "Come help."

"Sure."  He smiled. "Hi, Horatio."  He nodded politely at Mac.  "You must be Danny's former boss.  Ryan Wolfe."  He shook his hand and helped Don by going to arrange things alphabetically for him.

"No OCD cleaning," Danny warned.

"No weapons up here.  Has he met Benny Ray?"

"He has.  Got his locker and key."  He looked at Don.  "He's still going to clean over there when he gets too stressed."  Don smiled but shrugged and got back to work.  He looked at Mac.  "We're really okay, Mac.  I promise."

"I can see you're physically fine.  Are you happy?"

"It's a hard caseload," he admitted.  "We have people doing some bad things to harmless people just because they're different.  It's like a constant hate crime unit with the occasional 'I sold someone' or 'I'm doing bad things to end the world' thrown in.  We're doing better now that we're tracking who's buying stuff like they want to start an ascension."

Ryan shuddered.  "Don't remind me.  I was watching that tape with the younger girls in Demonology the other day."

Danny patted him on the back.  "They decide Xander with a rocket launcher was hot?"

"Yeah," he agreed with a grin.  "He was kinda hot.  Like an action hero.  If they made movies of what we did some days, you'd either be really bored or no one would believe it."

"You're the one who nearly got eaten by the plant," Danny taunted.

Ryan scowled at him.  "That wasn't my fault she decided me not looking at her was hitting on her.  Or that she was offended I wouldn't take her up on her generous offer so she tried to swallow me whole so no one else could have me!  She's a teenager!"

"Perhaps you should come home?" Horatio suggested.  "That would keep you safer."

Ryan looked at him.  "I heard about the terrorists."  Horatio grimaced.  "I have the same thing, only mine look strange and speak in a language I'm still learning."  He got back to work.

"Do we have to?" Don asked.  "I suck at it."

"We have a few good with the common languages on the team," Danny promised.  "I am proud to say that Fornell has taken Merps back and he's working on the Wolfram and Hart case Danny made Xander turn over to the FBI.  They got half the pussbags and are only waiting on a good keystone to give."  Ryan beamed at that.  "Though the main assholes are off realm."

"We'll get them when they come back or one of the peaceful clans will send them back as a gift to get on the good side of the slayers," Ryan pointed out.

"They should do like we do, offer chocolate," Danny teased back.

"Don't they already bounce a lot?" Don asked dryly.

"Well, yeah, but they quit pouting when you give them chocolate."

Don snickered. "Uh-huh.  I'll keep that in mind."  He made shooing motions.  "Back to work for my pleasure, people."  They laughed and got back to work.  He noticed the two supervisors giving each other looks.  So later on when Mac and Horatio tried to talk their people into coming back home he wasn't surprised.  That Horatio made it a demand when Ryan refused was.  Mac too.  He saw Xander looking and shook his head.  They could fight this battle.  Danny and Ryan could stand up to the bosses.  They were doing okay.  They finally had to leave without their people but they did vow that they'd be back every few months to make sure they were still healthy and if they found different they'd be drug back to their jobs.

Tony leaned over to their table.  "My boss is the same way.  He's still trying to drag me and Abby back.  We'll handle it if they come up to kidnap you, guys."  They smiled and nodded.  One of the girls shouted and spat something in a demon language.

"What have I told you about swearing?" Xander snapped back from his place getting seconds without having to look to see who it was.  "Do not make me institute public spankings."

"She's...."  Xander turned and glare.  "Fine, we'll talk about it after dinner," she said, sitting down to sulk.

"Yes, you, she, and I will be," Xander promised, glaring at the other girl, who slunk down.  "She's sorry.  It won't be happening again," he promised.

"At least she switched languages so we didn't know what she called her," Danny said.  "Is there a good tutorial manual in those languages, Xander?"

"Ask Wes.  I learned by taking the dictionary to the books we were researching in."  He nodded at that.  "Wes does the language lessons for the others too."  He sat down, looking at his girls.  They all slunk down.  "Good.  Finish up.  Then we'll hold a conference."  They nodded and dug in to finish dinner while he did the same.  He'd need energy for this one.  He was sure it was another trivial girl matter.  He walked them back to their building and locked them in.  "Well?" he demanded, arms crossed over his chest.

"She can't have him, he's mine," the swearing one whined.

"Since when can either of you date?" Xander asked dryly.  "Beyond that, poaching is for evil wenches.  Not for good girls and not for slayers."  They all nodded at that.  "Now, which boy has been sneaking on base?"

"Sam?" the second one asked hopefully.

Xander laughed.  "Diedre, Sam lost his girlfriend just over a year ago."  She wilted.  "Beyond that, you'd have to get Dean's permission to ask his brother out.  He is a fiercely protective big brother."

"Just like you are," Dawn quipped.

"That's right."  He looked at her again.  "I think I'll be talking with Sam about your crush and you'll be talking with Abby if I can ask her."  He walked off to talk to Abby, dragging Sam when he found him in the hallway.  Dean followed, looking curious.  They didn't often go into the lab.  He heard the new guys yelling about impossible things that weren't logical by any form of science in any universe and shrugged.  "It's magic, what did you expect?" he called back.  "You want logic, use another field or switch agencies!"  He looked at Abby.  "Diedre and Hannah's problem tonight was they're both crushing hard on Sam and Diedre thinks she's claimed Sam as hers."

Dean choked and Sam moaned.  "Oh, no," Sam moaned.

"I told them you were grieving and she had to ask Dean to take you out.  That he's a very protective big brother.  That they'd be talking with Abby if I can get her to explain girl things to them?  It's you or Faith.  Please?" he begged.

"Sure, I'll talk with all the girls about girl things.  I give the 'big girl' talk anyway," she said with a smile.  "I'll try, Sam, but you're at least close to their age.  Not like the one who snuck into Ryan's apartment nearly naked and crawled in with him."

"Oh, she got punished," Xander promised.  "A lot.  In front of Danny and Faith was listening."

"Tony did a good job hiring for eye candy," she teased.  "They're teenage girls and they all go through this stuff.  I promise."  She went to talk to the two girls.

Xander looked at the guys.  "I have no clue.  I'm not really a girl.  I know three of them like Dean.  Other than that, I have no clue."

"Can our dad come help for a while?" Dean asked.

"If you can find him a spot to crash in your place.  We're running out of open apartments."

"If not, there's that spare room over there," Sam said.  "He can definitely knock down some egos if he stays with them.  He did Dean's."

"He did," Dean agreed.  "And kept me from being such a horn dog too.  I was worse."

Xander shrugged.  "Okay.  He did a good job with you two since you're both mostly normal.  I don't know how parents do this stuff."

"We'll get Dad here," Dean promised.  "We'll even brief him and let him watch us with them.  Which ones are crushed on me?"

"Steph, Mercy, and Annabelle."

"Annabelle's just turned nine," Dean pointed out.

"She's still crushing hard.  You're her hero and she said you're the only sort of boy she'll ever like.  Dawn told me.  Steph watches and drools when you're running training.  Mercy thinks you'd be tough enough to match her toughness.  Hannah and Diedre both think Sam's sweet, smart, and strong enough to handle being with a slayer.  Which they're right about and they're seeing a problem they'll have.  No boy will ever understand the calling unless he knows.  Buffy had that same problem.  I'm hoping sending them to regular school will help that."

Dean nodded.  "It should.  More guys their own age.  Though we will have to have a talk about birth control."

"Already on it.  Slayer blood draws demons and vampires," Xander said with a manic grin.  "Having twenty of them bleeding in the same area?  We'd be overrun."

Sam nodded a bit.  "Probably a good idea.  Thanks for the head's up, Xander.  I'll make sure I'm not alone with Diedre."

"You do know most of your research helpers come in to have you hand them a book because they can stare and read?" Xander asked.  Sam blushed.  "Yeah.  The girls all think you're very sweet and the rest of them just want the eye candy."

Dean smirked.  "We are handsome devils."

"Remember, we tend to draw evil ones for lovers," Xander quipped back.  Dean walked off laughing, Sam following him out still blushing.  Xander looked at the curious looking Colonel.   "Girl issues."

"I'd figure there would be some.  Should I worry?"

"No they see you as eye candy but you'll be leaving soon so they can only stare at you and the loud one in the lab."  He walked off happier.  The agents all knew that the girls were *girls* and doing these things but only a few had bad gaps in their common sense.  He hoped.  He found Dawn.  "You don't want to join in that club, right?"

She pinched him on the cheek. "I have very high ideals.   I set them when I crushed on you.  They've got to at least match up to you, as my big brother sort, or else they're just playtoys."  She walked off smiling.  There were a few guys here she could crush on but she knew what discretion was.  Her mother had taught her.  She wished her mother was here to help her.  She looked up.  "Could use your common sense, Mom.  Really."  She went up to her room.  Of course she was woken by the girl fight later on and went to help stop it.  That's why she ended up in the infirmary later that night.  The three girls fighting were all there too.  Dawn interrupted the nurse to call Faith and Wes.  "Girl fight over boys they can't have anyway," she said, then put them on speaker and walked away.  Let the mother slayer of the group deal with it.  Xander needed his sleep.  She went to visit her sister's bed, smiling at her peaceful sleeping.  "At least you're missing this scene.  Damn you're lucky."  She went back to bed with her brace for her sore wrist and new headache.

The End.

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