Demon Criminal Investigative Services: Family
John Winchester made it to the gate and nodded politely, pulling out his ID. The guard silently pointed. "My boys in trouble?"
"Figured you were here to help with the girls, sir. Visiting family instead?"
"Probably a bit of both," he admitted.
The guard leaned closer. "The girls have a bad habit of staring if you can help with that. You raised two good boys, most of the time, but the girls are too much for Xander."
"I'll see what I can help with. Where can I park?"
"Single's building. Their parking spot is used so use B-18." He nodded, heading that way and the guard marked it on his sheet. Hopefully he could help those girls quit being so... strange. Though most were nice.
John parked and got out, following the squealing going on to where the girls were playing tag with one of the younger ones. He moved into the shadows to look. No one was supervising and he was wondering how long the other adults could put up with the squealing. He would've yelled by now. Soon a guy he didn't know but had seen at the invasion walked in.
"What are you doing?" he yelled.
"Annabelle has our diaries!" one girl shouted. "She's going to read them over the PA system!"
"Annabelle!" She pouted but handed them over. He looked at the embarrassed girls. "It's a normal urge to like boys or whoever. Some of you still take it too far. Try to behave. Where are the boys?"
"Library with Xander. Danny thought he found the next apocalypse. They're checking to make sure it's not like the last one and the large chicken coming down from heaven to announce the end of the world because the sky will fall."
He groaned. "Well, it's self defense class so line up and let's get back to it." They groaned but those with diaries left them with him while they did that. Just in case the younger girl tried again. Matt saw the lurker and walked over there. "You are?"
"Dean and Sammy's father John."
"Here to help?"
"Not sure yet."
He smirked. "We all pull weight around here. They should be back soon." He went back to watching the girls. Xander leaned in. "I got it."
"I'm sure. The screaming was one girl had stolen diaries."
Xander sighed, shaking his head. "They're girls. I want them to be like normal girls part of the time. Whoever stole the diaries is helping in the kitchen tonight for KP." He walked off again. He had an open case he had to get back to.
Matt looked at them. "Yes, his team has a case." They all groaned; they hated it when Xander had to leave for cases. They got back to it and it was good enough, for now. "Does Dean allow you older girls to slack?"
"No, Major," they groaned in unison, getting back to work.
Dean walked in and stared. "I know you can do better. Do it now." They went back to what they should be doing. He looked at Matt. "Sorry. Problems?"
"Annabelle stole diaries." He handed them over. "Xander said she has KP tonight."
"I'll let her go early." That got a nod. "Thanks."
"Benny Ray was about to come in and hogtie most of them for the screaming." He walked off smiling.
Dean looked at them. "Most of you are old enough to be left alone for a few minutes. Annabelle, you know better." She pouted but nodded. "Thank you. Why are we slacking?" They sighed but went back to what they should be doing. He sat down, reading the diaries. One of the girls caught him and gasped, snatching hers. "One of the problems with a diary is anyone who finds it can read it."
She pouted. "Not like I have a mom to talk to."
"If I had a wife I'd let her help. And hey, if we could find yours we'd let you go see her. We can't. Those records burned. Abby hasn't found any DNA matches either."
"I know," she sighed, going back to work with her diary tucked into her waistband. The other girls got theirs and pouted through practice too. "What's Xander's case?" she called. "Can we help?"
"Looks like demonic arms dealers."
"Shoot," they muttered. Annabelle tripped one and that girl swatted her.
"Hey!" Sam shouted as he came in. "If she tripped you, you weren't paying attention. Don't hit the younger girls unless they need it." She pouted but nodded, getting back to it.
"Keep it up, I'll make sure there's no chocolate for dinner," Dean promised. The pouts retreated. He looked at Sam, who shrugged. "This weekend we're doing field qualifications. The ones who pass get onto the list for LA and/or Cleveland. Faith could use a break and so could Crissy since she's got a broken ankle." They nodded and the ones he tapped stayed after to get their assignments to start their research. The rest put up their diaries or went to her assigned KP. Dean looked over at his father. "This is the older group of non field ready ones. The younger are in class and the field ready are in the library helping an agent look up something."
"I saw all the girls. Why are they all activated?"
"Sunnydale and the spell Rosenburg did," Sam said grimly. "One's seven. She's got a good foster family." One girl coughed. He looked back at her. "What's up?"
"I wasn't assigned to a field test team?"
Dean stared at her. "You want me to be kind or blunt?"
"Blunt." She moved further in. "What am I doing wrong?"
"You handle big stress, like fighting and patrolling stress, sucky," Dean told her. She slumped.
"It's not a failing. Not everyone should be in combat," John told her.
"We have enough girls that Xander agreed with our assessment. You shouldn't be in a field position if your first instinct to being attacked is to cry." She nodded, biting her bottom lip. He tipped her chin up. "There's a lot of other jobs," Sam told her. "Xander's working with us and Abby to help you find one that may suit you more than a patrol position."
"So far you're good at working with the youngest group," Dean told her. "Xander still needs someone to go talk to the girls we never found."
She smiled. "That wouldn't be too hard."
"No, it wouldn't," Sam agreed. "You're also great at being support personnel. You do pretty good at the dorm mom stuff for the younger girls. You'll find a place and do what suits your nature. You're not Mercy, who could probably be the one I'd send with anyone going overseas to find the girls."
She nodded. "I can understand that. Don't I have to pass field training?"
"We're taking you on your own case. Not with the other girls. I'm looking for a good one to test you on," Dean told her. "One that makes the most of your giant brain that you use. Which is a nice touch."
She smiled. "I like the boys just as much as they do. Like Dawn, I'm quiet about it."
"Which is a good thing," Sam agreed. "You don't routinely freak any of the guys out." She laughed. "Go eat." She nodded, heading do that. He looked at John. "We're missing seventeen?"
"Seventeen," Dean agreed. "Dawn said one had a car accident. Four or five are in war zones. I know he's talking to Matt this weekend about that." He looked at his dad. "Want to eat with us? Our apartment has a kitchen."
"If you need to, we can eat with the girls."
"No, they'll behave." Xander strolled in looking happier. "Break in the case?"
"Two more senior slayers woke up earlier. The spell is breaking down. I won't have to do that much paperwork once we beat Giles in the head." He grinned at the older guy. "You're their dad if I remember right. Are you bunking with them or with the girls?"
"They could use a dorm monitor and they'd try to climb in with me," Xander admitted. "That's why I had to move."
John nodded. "I can see how that's a problem."
"We've been having hormonal problems. Girls fighting over guys they're crushing over, a few with ego problems among the older ones. Please? Just be a parent for a few days so I can learn off you?"
John nodded. "I can do that. Where am I bunking down?" Xander grinned and drug them to dinner. He nodded at the girls. "Evening."
One frowned. "Who're you? New agent?"
"John Winchester. Dean and Sammy's dad. Xander said I'll be bunking in your building because the boys don't have a spot for me to sleep."
She shrugged. "Watch out for the other end of the table. They'll hit on trees." She held up a bowl. "Rice?"
"Let me get a plate." He went to do that and came back, taking the rice. He watched the girls inhale their weight in food and kept his comments inside.
Dean leaned over. "They need it and they do it every meal. They get mean if you try to take it away from them," he whispered.
"I'll keep that in mind." He ate, listening to the conversation. Yeah, the girls needed a parent. Some of those older girls were going to get into trouble. He looked at one then at Sammy, catching his eye then glancing back. Sam nodded. "Show me where my room is after dinner?"
"Sure. It's a nice room. Ours is pretty good too. They set DCIS up very well."
"If we get too many more agents do you think they'll make us move off base?" one of the younger girls asked.
"I think the plan is to move you to a house on base but out of the building you're in," Sam told her. She smiled at that. "Xander and Wes are talking about that." She nodded and dug in again. He looked around. "Xander's invisible again."
"The weapons dealers are getting his foot up their butts," Ryan called over at Sam's witty observation, smiling at them. "He'll be back later for bedtime rituals and stuff."
"Every time you guys take Xander he comes back injured," Annabelle complained. "Quit before you can't have him anymore. No one else will take care of us if he's too hurt."
Ryan smiled. "We'd help while he heals."
She shrugged. "So? Still not right! He's the only parent some of us have! Quit stealing him!" She turned around and sulked into her dinner. Her 'big sister' hugged her. "It's not."
"We all do what we have to so everyone's safe, Anna," she said gently. "Even Xander and us." She looked up at her, getting a nod back. "Honestly. The same as some day you'll have patrol to keep people safe, Xander has to help keep people safe too. This is his way. Even if he is working himself into an early grave. They need him just as much as we do."
"It still sucks. What's going to happen when Mr. Giles and Buffy wakes up?"
Dawn leaned down. "My sister starts down the road on her trip again and you have my permission to kick her butt. Got it?" She smiled and nodded. "Good. Faith too." She looked at the older girls. "Who's going to Cleveland next time? I've got a birthday card for Wes." One girl raised her hand. "Make sure I give it to you?"
"Sure, Dawn." She smiled. "When is it?"
"Late next month." They nodded and the younger girls decided they could make cards for the watcher that watched them on patrols. They had only met him a few times but he was a nice guy and he protected them. Dawn smiled at Dean. "If we need individual sparring time, should we ask you or Matt?"
"You can ask either one, Dawn. What's going on?"
"I'm having problems with throws. I can't take advantage of what little weight I have. I should be able to before I train as a field watcher."
Dean nodded. "Then we'll work on it later."
"I took Judo I and II. I'll work with you, Dawn." She nodded, smiling some and digging in to finish her dessert. "Tonight?" Sam suggested.
"Whenever. I'm out of defense for the rest of the week so I can save energy up for the locating spell."
"Sure," he agreed. "Tomorrow night?"
"Of course." She put her plate into the window for it then headed out.
"She's a nice girl," John said.
"That's Buffy's little sister Dawn," Dean told him. "A very strong witch."
"Then it's good she's training in the light to help."
"We had to do a bit of searching for teachers, but yeah," Xander said as he walked behind them, making him jump. "Chores, ladies?" They went to do them. He got another plate of food and sat down. "Danny, the arms dealers were located. It's on your desk since it's your country. I'll let you help figure out how to get the team in there."
"Sure, Xander." He finished up and went with Don to check that over. By the time the team gathered later that night they had photos for him and Mac had been helpful. He wanted them back in New York and he'd do anything to help him with that goal. Even if it wasn't Danny's team going but Xander's. He had told Mac that. He hadn't listened.
Dawn looked at the gathered girls later that night. "We need to do something special for Xander, girls. He's uber worried about Buffy and Giles waking up and getting back on their 'no normals' kick." They all looked at her. "So we need to show Xander that we appreciate him. Even if he does make us do drills and stuff."
"Cards?" Annabelle suggested.
"That'd be a good start," Dawn agreed with a smile. "Ladies?" she asked the older ones. Who nodded that was a good idea. "Maybe something like a welcome home party?"
"That'd be good as long as they don't take him off the plane and to the infirmary this time," one said. That had happened on one of his cases. Another they had airlifted him back. A few times he came home limping. "Think Danny would let us?"
Dawn snorted and waved a hand. "I think he'd think it was a good idea. Xander does a lot of work around here that he doesn't have to." They nodded, Xander was always busy but he always made time when they came to him about anything plus for their mornings and evenings. "So, dinner and dessert or a real party with chips and music?"
"We could use a real party," one of the older girls said. "It's nearly been a year since Sunnydale fell. We should celebrate that."
"A 'whoo hoo, we survived a year' party?" Dawn teased. "With a special thanks for Xander?" They all smiled and nodded. That'd go over well and the others would appreciate that too. They finished up their cards and made envelopes. One of the older girls put them together for them and it was good. They left them with the girl going to Cleveland and headed up to baths and bedtimes. Dawn decided to wander, running into John. "It's been a long year."
"I bet. How are you guys holding up?"
"We're doing pretty good. Xander's given up most of his life to protect us." She looked back at the building then at him. "He's done a great job keeping us as normal as he can."
"Why is one fostered?"
"She was six. There was a two-year age gap between her and the next oldest. She needed a lot of work." She led him off. "Do not tell anyone but they ran into her original parents recently. They told Danny and Tony but kept it from Xander."
"In case you didn't see, Xander's on a field team as an agent. He takes care of our needs. He's the guy that everyone around here goes to. He doesn't need another worry and they solved it. See, one of the original watchers gathered her to bring her to Sunnydale and safety way back when. The watcher was killed and the military guys that were doing the DCIS job before the agency fully formed found her. They had a base they were borrowing while this one was rehabed. She and a few others they had gathered for their own safety were there and they came to Sunnydale to switch out the older girls with the ones who had made it there who couldn't fight or weren't really old enough. Xander agreed with that idea. Buffy didn't like it. Xander pointed out that we didn't need a twelve-year-old in battle. It was his idea to take all Giles' books, all the artifacts they could gather, the stuff that the watcher lady who used her last few breaths to get away from the remains of the building in England, all that stuff. It went to the other base. Xander escorted the girls when Buffy started to be very down on it. The military guys wanted someone the girls knew and could trust."
"That way they wouldn't freak out," John agreed. "That's not a bad idea. You?"
"Oh yeah. Buffy had this problem of seeing me as helpless. Still probably will." She grimaced then let it clear up. "After the battle, Xander showed up in LA to evacuate any that needed medical attention or who were having shell shock from their first battle being that one. Some hadn't even gotten into more than sparring matches with their watcher. That being their first battle screwed a few of them forever. Fortunately Tony found a good shrink for the base. He helped them too. Me too about the Buffy stuff." She grinned. "On the way back, we heard that the building in LA had been blown up. The plane they were in was grounded. Those of us at the base were attacked by the watchers too. I got us off the base when they raided and started to kill everyone in their path to us. Willow's spell had activated everyone who had potential, even those on the base. Even the six-year- old." John nodded slowly. "So I got the girls hiding in the town by the old base while Xander got the plane free of the watchers there. I used a portal to pull Xander to help us when he called to see if we were in trouble too. He went Rambo on them. They had boarded up the door to the basement we were in and had poured gas around the door. They were stacking more things against it so we couldn't get out." He shuddered.
"Exactly. Xander stopped them before it was lit and got us to a supplier he knew locally who could protect us for a few hours. The next day we got moved here. All of us. There were some fussing and struggles since my sister, in her *infinite* stupidity, decided that Xander was a liability because he was too normal. She tried to tell him he was not welcome and could not help the slayers anymore. He shot back and pointed out she didn't have anyone else at the moment and he was going to guard us. Giles said that was fine until they got set up in Cleveland. Since the remaining watchers decided to narrow down the field to Faith and a few others that weren't there or caught, we had three watchers left. One Xander had going out to find the other girls. He died of it. Wes is sitting in Cleveland since it's our biggest hot spot. LA has two girls patrolling together and the little one being raised there by foster parents."
"Were they bad?" John had followed the babble well, he was proud of himself. But it was an interesting back story and look at the young man in charge.
"We tracked the watcher's movements to try to find her family since she's so young. We tried with the rest but she was just taken at that point. The others had been in watcher custody for a while now. Their records were in England in the building that went boom. We found out that either he paid to hand her over or they handed her over without a fight and the bringers got them. We couldn't be sure which one she was. We know he lost one on the sending to Sunnydale when he died." John shuddered agin. "Yeah. Anyway, they spotted their daughter and reported her to the police. They had let the watcher pay for her to be taken but now they wanted her back."
"There's no way even a bent system would allow that."
"We gave them what we had. Her foster father is the father of our liaison FBI agent out there." That got a smirk. "Exactly. He found out and we gave him what we had. The judge called it unusual but we had Wes out to explain it to the judge. He agreed her foster family were better for her and gave them total and permanent custody. She's a happy little girl. For a while she considered her big brother Charile's hair her pet." He smiled. "She's adorable. We love Cordette. Tony still has a finger painting that she made him in his desk." That got a smile. "So we don't need to pile things on Xander's back. He's a great dad to us. Even to me. He's a good agent. He's a pretty decent watcher, even if he is a bit tough and started out with self defense as soon as we landed at that other base. Especially for Cordette. We just can't burden him too much or he'll snap and take a walk then come back in a few years."
"How did my sons get involved?"
She smirked meanly. "The FBI called and said they had hunters who were wanted for credit card fraud and things." He winced. "Xander worked it out that they'd work with the girls instead."
"I'll thank him later. What about you, Dawn?"
"Xander's the best big brother I've ever had. Has been since I first met him. Buffy's a good big sister but she's got too much on her soul. Xander's got a lot and he feels a lot of responsibility, even when the normal guys here are hurt. Part of the agreement for us staying here is that we'd teach the agents how to deal with the demonic."
"That makes sense."
"We thought so. The last problem will be when Giles and Buffy wake up. If they're still on their kick."
"The fastest cure is to point out what Xander has done and tell them to learn first. Point out time has passed and the world moved on."
"I'm going to. She won't like me training as a watcher. She hates to see me in trouble."
"All older siblings do," he said wisely. "Dean hates it when Sammy's in trouble."
She grinned. "He's only in trouble around here if a few of the girls grab him one night." John laughed but nodded. "They've helped a lot. Xander had been helping the Major do our self defense lessons. Dean stepped in to move those of us to higher levels when we were ready. Sammy's stepped in to teach demonology so Xander didn't have to read from the books to cover the stuff he didn't know. Giles tried to tell Xander that he'd never have qualified for watcher training because of bad grades," she said quietly.
"Education comes in many forms. Doing the job for seven years should count against that," he said bluntly. "He's done a good job keeping you girls together and healthy. If he can't see that, he should go back to sleep."
"That's how I feel but every time new girls wake up we have the same issue. He snapped at the two earlier."
"Did they learn?"
"Yeah, the ones with them told them what had happened and they settled down. Buffy's more stubborn than that. So is Giles about some of the right ways for things to happen. Not all the traditions but some of the stuff." He nodded. "I don't know but I don't want to see Xander snap and walk off either."
"If he does, he can be stopped and helped. Then we'll step in and make them see they're morons, Dawn." She smiled. "Where were you heading?"
"Just for a walk. My psychic guardian witch has been nagging me all day again and she's giving me a headache."
"Why do you have one of those?"
"I kinda went after the Powers for trying to have us all killed?" she said hesitantly.
"He spank you?"
"He came up to help me when he found out what was going on. They considered him not worth watching and planning for. Even though he's the one that messed up so many of their plans so they worked. I'm not so sure Xander didn't blow up their realm at the end. I had Sam guarding me. He understood why. It was a bad week and Xander had just been injured in another ascension in Seattle. Gods, it was so bad, Mr. Winchester. With them only caring about their balance and the only way true balance can be achieved with people is to eliminate their free will or any ability to reason or live, it had to happen. Someone had to send up a message and I started it with Sam guarding me. Xander woke up out of a sedated sleep and a concussion to come stop me and help me."
John nodded. "He's got a strong soul."
She shook her head. "No, he's doesn't." She walked off. "Have a better night and lock your doors. A few will jump trees."
He watched her walk off then went back up to his room to think. It wasn't as big of a mess as they thought. The biggest problem was one man trying to take the place of families and over three hundred former watchers' places at once. Plus do his own job. Maybe he could step in for a while to help. The boys seemed content to help for a few more months.
The next night John had to put down a few egos. They were horrible. 'I'm special because I'm a slayer going on patrol' was not going to play. So he stepped into the sparring lessons and put her onto her back, twice.
"Ooh, he likes to be on top," one girl quipped, then covered her mouth. "Sorry. Slipped out." The others giggled.
John gave her a dirty look. "I'm still grieving for my wife, young lady. Mind on your own body, not mine." He put the girl under him into a headlock, making her yelp in pain. "Now what do you do?" he asked patiently.
"Struggle with my extra strength," she complained but John shifted and pinned her. "Hey!"
"Do you think that your strength keeps you alive?" he asked her, sneering down at her. "Your training keeps you alive, the same as it does Xander, me, and my boys when we all hunt. The same way you will be." She went limp. "If I can do this and I'm a normal guy, then the demons certainly can. You passed her into field work, Dean?"
"She's ready but patrolling will help her learn the last few lessons," he said. "She's only had a good year of training. Her last watcher was a book guy, like Sammy is." He walked over to look down at her. "Yield?"
"Never," she snarled, then did something that twisted her and knocked John off her back. She went after him again and he knocked her down again. "How dare you!"
"Do you think the demons won't?" Dawn asked. "Buffy ended up on her ass plenty of times. Faith too." The girl snarled and attacked her. Dawn showed she had been practicing with the agents and put her down, then cuffed her. "I think you need some alone time." She looked around. "Major?" she yelled. He came jogging in. "Her superiority complex is getting dangerous. Got somewhere for a time out?"
"I do." He and John picked her up and carried her off, shutting her in the spare gun vault in the armory. Everything was locked up so she couldn't hurt anything. No one would hear her rant and scream. Benny Ray would let her out in half an hour. "Where's Xander?"
"Demonic arms dealer."
"Damn it. That means he's in New York."
"Who's his backup?"
"Wes. Your boys." They walked off. "Deke, leave her. She needs to cool down."
"I'll monitor," he agreed.
Matt and John walked back in there. "Dean, are you or Sam in charge?"
"Me for training, Sam for research. How do you want to do it? Faith is going to be back tomorrow. We have the shrink. We can sedate her if we have to."
"Was she due to head out?"
"Next time someone needed sprung in LA."
Matt nodded. "Let's get the shrink onto it. If necessary he can order her sedated until Faith gets back. Or maybe Wesley."
Dean smirked. "He said he needs to be there. It'll be a new girl."
"Xander doesn't need this."
"I know. I'll see if he can come back for a while. Dawn?"
"I can do a portal. I'll have to push back the location spell by a day." She looked at Matt. "He wanted you there if he wasn't."
"I heard. I know why." He patted her on the back. "Nice form for cuffing." She smiled back. "The rest of you break and go relax for the rest of the afternoon. She snapped from the stress, we'll make sure you girls won't." They trudged out, giving Dean sideways looks. "You two take Xander out when he gets back and make him have some fun?"
"We can do that," Dean agreed.
"Thank you." He looked at John. "He needs more people. He knows too and he's been looking." He left, going to talk to Benny Ray. "She had an 'I'm super special' snap."
"Charming," he said. "The head shrinker?"
"I'll call." He went to call him. He came down to talk to her. She was not happy and was crying in the vault but he went in to talk to her, pulling in a chair. They shut the door but didn't seal it so they had privacy. Matt went to talk to Danny Jackson. "One of the girls snapped."
"Figured it was only a matter of time. Most of them have that attitude now and then. Xander usually breaks it by making them regret it or beating them doing something then reminding them he's normal."
"From the shouting I heard, they did. It didn't work. Dawn ended up cuffing her and we're borrowing the shrink in the gun vault."
"If that's what it takes," Danny agreed. That got a nod. "I noticed your contract was about up."
Matt nodded. "We're all talking about that. We'll let you know. Xander was going to ask us to go after the missing girls."
"If you don't want it, I can ask Jack for a retrieval team. If I remember right, he said four were in war zones."
"We'll see." He smiled and walked off, going to listen to the shrink work over the vault camera. "How did Buffy get over hers?" he asked quietly.
"She had her momma and Dawn said her momma had sense and was more stubborn than them combined. But nice and sweet." They shared a smile. They knew a few women like that. "Think a female agent could help? One who had trained others?"
"I don't know. You train agents for different reasons. I know a lot of the girls who end up going out there come back horrified that *this* is the job they were called to do until they died." He shrugged. "Sometimes it takes reality to break it."
"That can get you dead, Major."
"True." He smiled as the shrink removed the cuffs. The girl was still crying. Then she lunged at him and they went in to intervene. The cuffs went back on and they both got taken down to the infirmary. The doc needed someone to check his throat. She got given a shot and she went to sleep for a while. "They can't all be good," he said when Tony walked in.
He nodded. "True. Even Faith's a bit darker than average with her upbringing." He looked at her then at them. "I have no idea what we'd do with her."
"Faith was in prison for a while," Dawn said as she walked in. "She accidentally staked a human and went off the deep end. She went totally bad girl. This one... I don't know what her problem is. My mother was great and I don't know how to handle those things. I probably should in case my future charge needs it."
The nurse shook her head. "It's not abuse. She has no overwhelming amount of scars. Nothing else that points at an abusive upbringing. Some are just bad."
"Maybe Faith will have an idea then," Dawn said. She looked in the special room then at the nurse. "Any change?"
"Not yet. Are we thinking it'll be soon?"
"The year anniversary of the spell is tomorrow."
"Then we'll handle it if they do."
"If Giles or my sister wakes up, call me first," she ordered. "The last time they talked to Xander they decided he was too normal too."
"So it's an infection?" the nurse asked, looking at her. "We can see." She moved to check the girl over, just in case it was an infection or something like a curse. The others left her alone.
Xander hung up the phone and leaned back, covering his eyes. "Tiff went special girl and tried to kill the shrink," he announced. "Sam said they weren't going to tell me."
"Faith, Dawn, and them can handle it," his team leader pointed out.
Ryan nudged him. "They handled it when Faith went bad. They can handle her." That got a nod. "Worry about our arrest plans."
"Got it planned," he said, pointing at his computer. They gathered around to look at it while he had a headache. He needed to find more watchers. He called Sam back. "Can you get into the file on my computer and start doing a name search to see if anyone is still alive? Thanks, Sam." He hung up and sat up, looking at the plans. "Don said all that block was three story walk ups. The city's records office had that for plans. They faxed them and I scanned them in. That address should look like that unless they renovated when they moved in. If so, then I'd guard this area. They have a sub realm that they're holding weapons and money in from our sources. That's the easiest and best place to put it for safety and stability."
"Is there a way they could be carrying it around?"
"Dawn said yes but they're not magic users and it would have to be linked to a magic user. So unless they have one in their thrall or something it's a standing one. I heard that they had to physically move it last time so I'm betting on physical structure holding it solid."
"How sure?" the team leader asked him.
Xander looked at him. "They can't use it, they had to pay to have it set up."
"So it's either a slave or on something," he decided. Xander had good ideas but he was in charge of this team. Even if Wolfe did write the team's report and Xander did half their research for them. They went over how to go in. Xander's plan put him in the rear guard position. He wasn't sure why. "You tired?"
"I'm a target," Xander told him bluntly. "If they know me, I probably bought something off them in the past."
"Oh. Good to know. They knew who you were?" Xander nodded. "So not totally unexpected but they could get pissed and go for you."
"So me going in last should give us a decent average of them not doing that or being able to do that." That got a nod and the team leader switched the second and third going in. "You need him second for the locks." He got glared at. "Truth. We need him to do the locks. Unless we're kicking it in like cavemen?"
"No, I'd rather not alert them."
"Any idea if they paid for wards?" Ryan asked.
"We can pause and check. Dawn and Abby got the detector done finally. It's in my pack." The team leader snorted. "I'm going to pause and check. Also in case they're doing an active deal since we might have to take down more than we thought. Remember, I have a reason to go home tonight." That got another glare but that was worked into the plan.
Xander stepped off the plane last, looking at the detective hassling the boss. "Danny and Don consulted on how to get there, Detective. It's my team's case. We'd never send Danny on an arms dealer. He does better with ritual cases." He walked past him. "Danny's at his desk today because they've got three new ones someone sent in to see if it's the same case. Don took it so he's with him." He grinned before getting into the van. "Is the NYPD following us?"
"Yes," he said. "Just in case there's humans there."
Xander nodded. "Okay. Follow along." He closed the van's door and settled in to check his weapons and pack. Ryan was doing the same. Xander handed him something.
"Just in case?" Ryan asked, looking totally serious.
"No. You never know when the explosive tipped rounds with holy water will help if we run into something we're not expecting."
"Vision?" Ryan asked calmly.
"I don't get visions. Now and then I get feelings." They shared a look then the driver took them off. "How are we getting them back to the plane?"
"FBI local office has a truck we can borrow," the team leader said. "I was hoping we wouldn't have to."
"How else are we going to find all their suppliers? I can hope for papers but I'm doubting it."
He nodded. "Then we'll try to keep at least three of the head guys alive." He didn't like it when they kept people alive but oh well. Sometimes it had to happen. They made it to the block and stopped around the corner, getting out in groups and walking up the street like they were visiting friends. A gang kid spotted them but Xander stared at him so he faded into the shadows, shaking his head that he wouldn't bother them. Xander pulled out the detector and muttered the codeword to activate it. It light up. "Passive alarms on the doorway," he said quietly. "Mostly to alert that someone's on the doorstep." That got a nod and they changed order, getting into the order of assault. Xander looked back at the NYPD people, waving a hand for them to hold back for a minute. He got a scowl from Taylor but oh well. He snuck up the stairs and waited. The door was opened by someone coming to check who was at the door. They rushed in and got the guards. Ryan and Xander were both aiming to wound.
The others were aiming to kill. Xander pushed Ryan down and got one coming down the stairs, getting grazed for it. That one fell dead. The rest they rounded up. Xander looked at them. "None of the head guys." He took Ryan to search the house. The portal he found wasn't empty so they hadn't moved things. The other demons hiding upstairs, he was worried about. "DCIS!" he shouted, opening a bedroom door. The baby in there screamed. He kept himself from firing. "Sit! Now!" She sat down, sucking her thumb. "Where's the adults?" She pointed. "Stay there." He moved on, going to the room she had pointed at. He kicked in that door and interrupted their card game. A few got off lucky shots. He got hit in the vest. Ryan got hit in the vest and creased on the shoulder. Xander got a worse graze on his armpit. They were all taken down and Xander tied the injured up. "Get someone up here to carry them down." Ryan nodded, going to do that, rubbing his chest.
Taylor came in. "What are we doing with the girl child?"
Xander looked at him. "There's other clans. They should take her in." He looked at them. "You'd better be damn happy it was my team." He went to look at the child, who was being scared to death by the officers. "She's a kid, guys. She's like a toddler." One of the guys screamed. He looked at him. "I'm going to deliver her to Patrice in LA." He settled down. "Do you want to write her a message?" He nodded, letting Ryan help him do that. "Thank you."
"When are you doing that?" the team leader asked.
Xander stared at him. "Shut up. She's a kid. I don't shoot things that aren't dangerous." He backed down. He called. "Can I bug you?" He smiled. "I do. One that needs to go to Patrice or Lorne." He nodded. "That'll work. New York. Kid. Thanks." He hung up and Dawn opened a portal, walking the child and note off. Then she took her to LA. "Then," he told the team leader.
"We're keeping them alive?" he sneered.
"Yeah. Even in humans, arms dealing isn't a death penalty offense. That's why we have the prison." He called base. "Danny, me for our team. We have.... Ryan, count?"
"Nineteen demons that we found at the scene. One I passed on through Dawn to Patrice in LA since it was a child. Could, yes. Thank you. I can do the count and confiscation. Thanks, Danny." He hung up. "All right. Ryan, we're doing the gear count and bagging." He nodded, moving with him. "Danny is calling our local liaison to arrange for separate transport out. Hold them here, question them. Ask for Taylor if he needs any questions asked." He went into the portal and whistled. "This is nice. Benny Ray will love this."
Ryan grinned. "Weapons nut," he teased.
Xander grinned back. "Well, yeah." He turned and pulled his gun, shooting the thing sneaking at him to eat him. "Guard demon." They got to work tagging and boxing up while the others waited.
Danny Messer leaned in a few hours later and whistled. "Benny Ray is gonna freak at this."
"Ya think?" Xander asked. "We got transport?"
"The twelve demons are headed. There was a rebellion?" Ryan shook his head. "Can we move this?"
"That's what I planned," Xander agreed. They came out and Xander looked then carefully removed the portal from the doorway. It folded into a briefcase that he locked around Ryan's wrist. "We're a go," he said, heading out with them. He nodded at Mac. "Thank you for your assistance." He got stopped. "I heard," he said quietly. "That's why I called it in that way." Mac nodded. "It'll be handled. Jackson won't let it happen if it wasn't a revolt. I need you to call in a report." That got a nod. "Thank you." He walked off, getting into the van after Ryan. "Okay, we good?" Everyone nodded. "Then let's go. I've got to spank a girl."
Danny looked at him. "We were going to let you hear once you got back."
"Sam agreed I had to know. Faith and Wes?"
"There. Not happy."
Xander shrugged. "Me either." He leaned against the window, watching the scenery as they went past it. The trip back on the plane was spent in hard thought. He walked Ryan into the armory. "If it's confiscated is it ours?"
"Danny said yes but we had to hand over or destroy anything too bad."
Xander unlocked the briefcase and pulled out the portal, putting it up carefully. He frowned when it didn't activate. Ryan put the crystal underneath it. That made it activate. He pointed. Benny Ray walked in and moaned in pleasure. "So what do we do?"
"I'll ask. Leave it there for now. Make sure the money's sealed?"
"Did and have a dual count," Ryan promised. He went to deliver that to Danny. "We set up the portal in the armory. Benny Ray nearly fell to his knees praying to the gun gods. The money was crated up and sealed shut by Xander."
"Good work." Xander strolled in. "I got a call."
"Ryan and I were in the portal."
"That's what it said." He nodded and Xander closed the door. To everyone else it'd look like he was going after them for taking control of the assault, like the team leader had complained about. In truth he was getting an in-depth account of what had happened.
Danny stood up at dinner, once the private announcements had been made. "I talked to the president earlier." They all stared at him. "He agreed we need to hire for two new teams." And enough people to give Ryan and Xander back theirs. "Xander, please finish knocking down that wall soon?"
"I can finish that this week after I do my reports." That got a smile from their boss. "The desks and computers?"
"Coming in two weeks." He looked around. "If we are hiring, I do want more people like
Tony, Ryan, Danny, Don. Agents and officers who have shown that they understand that the peaceful demons need protecting. Ones that won't do what the unfortunate people did earlier and start eliminating demons because they were prisoners without information." Tony moaned and a few gasped. He held up a hand. "That is unacceptable. If I have to run sensitivity lessons I will, people. Am I clear?" They nodded. "I will be watching for further problems and they will be watched to make sure they don't go on vendetta sprees. So if you know good, reliable, flexible minded agents, have them apply through us. I'll figure out how we're doing applications since Tony went to recruit in person." He sat down. "Oh, until then, Xander and Ryan are teamless. I'll consider them partners but since both could use the time off, they can use that to do other things they have to do."
"Sure, I can help him tear down the wall," Ryan agreed, cracking up the tension in the room. "What's this I hear about a party?"
"The girls are celebrating their first anniversary of having so many called tonight in the meeting hall. Xander, they wanted you to come show them how to dance."
"I suck at dancing."
"So go have fun then," he told him. Xander nodded, finishing up and heading to change clothes into something less work attire jeans and more fun jeans. "The rest of us were invited as well. Do remember, some of them do pinch." That got a few more laughs and they finished up so they could go celebrate the major bust and the anniversary.
Xander walked in and Faith grabbed him, taking him onto the floor to dance with him. He grinned, getting down with her bad self. It was good to shed the stress for a night. Sam and Dean were partying with them. John was being a responsible dad by the buffet table. One of the girls was in a corner already for some reason. It was good to relax and grin again. Faith winked, turning to grab Dean from Dawn and let her have Xander. The other guys came in and the girls pounced them to dance with them. Most of them would. Some were hipper than Xander. Tim had shown up that morning from his retraining with the witches so the girls were loving that he had rhythm. Xander took it all in but let it go. His girls weren't getting into trouble. If they were, John was watching. So he let himself fully relax all his wariness. Everything, even his awareness of who was behind him. He could trust most of the people in here with his life.
Somehow he ended up dancing with Sam, but that was fine with him too. It was fun and Sam said something that made him giggle. So it was all good. Two of the older girls sidled up to him and slipped something into his back pocket then they went back to playing with the other guys on the floor. The girls were having some sort of 'teasing Dean' contest but he didn't seem to mind. Xander checked the things in his pocket when he went to get a drink, smiling at the mushy cards that said they were glad he was their head watcher; that he had sense and they loved him even if he did make them do PT outside in the winter. He put them back into his pocket and glanced at John while he poured himself some soda. "It's a good anniversary."
"Also partially a thank you for helping them," he told him.
"I saw the cards." He grinned and took his soda back onto the floor to reclaim Dawn. He had taught her everything she knew about dancing and then let the girls unwarp her so it was better than he could do. Which was nice in a way. It had certainly broken her crush and her mother would be proud of the good girl Dawn was turning into.
The nurse looking in the infirmary a few days later smiled, coming over to look at the man on the bed. "Mr. Giles, welcome back to life."
"Where am I?"
"DCIS, sir." She helped him sit up and got him some water while she checked him over. "A lot of things have happened since the watchers blew your group in LA up a year and six days ago." He gave her a horrified look. "Relax. Your girls are fine. Xander made a deal to get them sheltered with us. Wesley and he are the only watchers left so Wesley has the girls rotating on the hellmouth. Faith's here right now for some R&R and to work on a few of the horrible egos the girls have because they think being born a slayer gives them the right to be shits to others." She went to page someone.
Faith bounced in. "Wes thought that the spell should be wearing off since most of the guys who did it died after bombing you guys and trying the others." She handed over a note. "From Wes's hand." She hopped up to sit on his bed.
He read it then looked at her. "Who's taking care of the girls?"
"X. He's done a kick ass job, G. They're safe, protected, learning a lot. Those who're old enough are doing patrols once they've got enough training. He's gotten a few good hunters in to help train us. The people here are wonderful to the girls. Let them learn how to flirt and things even." She grinned. "He's set things up with Wes so we don't have to worry for a bit. Plus he's trying to figure out how to uncall us before we all age out of our skills at twenty-three."
"Excuse me? Age out?"
"We found an old journal that said the one girl called at twenty-one aged out of her powers at twenty-three and there's been other sources that said the original spell set that as a cut off date," Xander said from the doorway, arms crossed over his chest while he leaned against the doorjamb. "Her powers disappeared a few days after her birthday. Wes and Sam both think the evidence we have means that the girls Willow activated will age out as well. Which is good for everyone but the one that's seven."
"She's happy, X," Faith reminded him.
"Very. The Epps family has done a lot of good helping her be a normal girl, who has some strong gifts." He walked in to look at him. "The girls are in regular classes right now. They'll be doing training later with the hunters I found to help me. They've been doing it their whole lives and they've done a lot to help the girls. Should you put them down in front of the girls for being normal, the girls would probably rip you apart." He shivered at that certainty in his voice. "Quite a few girls have decided to have crushes on them." He shrugged. "They're teenage girls. Fortunately they're nice about it." He looked at Faith, nodding. "Go ahead." She nodded, leaving them alone. He looked at Giles. "Get it out now. I have reports to do for my last case while they're in classes."
"I'm working with DCIS too, Giles. That was part of the deal for them to help me shield the girls from outside harm. That way their agents could take the same demonology lessons we give the girls and if there was an emergency they could help them. Like the demon invasion in LA that happened about a month ago. You missed them opening a gateway in downtown LA to let the demons through." Giles shuddered. "The girls we brought did good. A few minor injuries. No serious casualties on our side except for one gut clawed. He's fine though and transferred to the FBI."
"I haven't had the chance to get anyone to go looking for the farther flung girls. All the girls that survived the hellmouth are here. A few we've found here and there. I had Gunter Pertry going out to do that. He wasn't good while he was alive but he did find a few. I'm talking to someone about sending a strike team to get the girls in Africa if they want to come."
Xander nodded. "Willow's spell activated all the slayers under twenty-three currently in the world, Giles. There's about fifty-eight or sixty total. We have thirty-nine here with the ones still sleeping and those on patrol." He waved a hand up the hall at the other beds. "I've talked to a few people about getting them but before then I had to stop the British judicial system from letting all the dark artifacts and books all the dead watchers had stored into the open again. Plus manage things related to the explosion. All the insurance stuff. Wes has been a godsend and we found a lot more of the library. It's in with the DCIS library since we're doing the same job."
"Demon Criminal Investigative Service. If humans go after demons or demons go after humans, they call us now. We're a federal level agency. You're on our base in North Dakota. Wes has three girls on the hellmouth to do patrols, rotating them out so they all get experience and rest times. I have two girls in LA filling in for Angel since he's across the hall." He pointed at his bed. "Plus the youngest one we decided should go to a foster family and we put her with our regional liaison out there. He's an FBI agent. His father's a great man, very kind. She's got two great big brothers now. Both of who are on call to us. She considers me an uncle and they've got experience hunting people so they'll teach her that way and how to profile and those things so she'll be able to handle her own patrols. Probably in LA. She's seven." He groaned. "I've done a damn good job with me and Wes being the only ones who could do anything since the rest died, Giles. We've found a few more hiding but they were going to wait to see if I failed and then step in. We decided they were assholes and a few were arrested for trying to snatch the girls. One for trying to gas the girls here on base." He shuddered. "Since you're up, I can let you do the admin. stuff that I hate doing. That way I can move back to support and training while I do cases instead of doing six different jobs at once."
"We didn't want you involved Xander."
"Yeah, well, no one else, Giles." He stared him down. "Maybe you should see what's going on before you become an asshole again. It's been over a year and I'm managing greatly without you." He walked off. "They're in the other building. Coming?"
"Let me clean up," he stuttered, watching him go. He let the nurse help him to the bathroom. "Why is he so cold?" he asked.
"Because you're an asshole," she said bluntly. "He's raised those girls, helped them train, gotten them what they need, and did before then but you were too stubborn and dumb to see it, Mr. Giles. Even you're a normal person."
"He wouldn't qualify for training."
"You'd think seven years of doing the job would count for something," she said dryly. He flinched at that. "You've hurt the boy a lot. I would watch my step. A few of the girls have no problem with the idea of killing to protect Xander." He nodded, going to clean up while she checked the others. She found Angel blinking at the ceiling. "Want some blood?"
"Please," he asked. "Was that Harris?"
"That was Xander. Sit up for me." He did that, moaning a bit. "Your injuries healed but you're probably a bit stiff from the year nap you took." She went to get him some blood, handing it over. "Xander said to tell you Connor is still in LA helping the two girls patrolling out there. He's been good and the girls are good to him. They've kept LA safe except for the invasion." He nodded, sipping his blood. "Too warm?"
"No, just about perfect," he admitted. "Buffy?"
"Still sleeping. The spell's been slowly wearing off as the magic wears out. We're down to her and a few of the girls left." He nodded. "Finish up so we can put you on with your son and let him give you a sit rep. I'll expect you'll want to head back soon."
"I probably should." He looked at her. "The slayers? Xander's been good to them?"
"He's been an excellent father figure and helped them a lot. The ones he's hired to help them have been good for them too. Even if now and then they do get an ego problem and one decided she was too special to do anything but kill everything in sight."
"Some girls do," he agreed.
"She's confined." He nodded, finishing his blood. "Bathroom and showers are in the same place. You can borrow some scrubs until I get someone to find your clothes in storage." She helped him into the bathroom then went to make that note and call about the stored things. Giles came out in scrubs. "You're lucky it's summer. You should be fine with some sandals." She got him some and then turned him over to Faith, who walked him over to the slayer's building.
The older girls had PT outside today so Giles got to see that first. Dean was leading the patrol ready ones in their moves. "Ladies," Faith called.
"No interrupting, Faith. This could save their lives some day," Dean called without looking. "They can talk to you afterward before math."
"Okay." She sat Giles on a bench and let him watch. "These are the ones that we decided were ready for patrol. They can defend themselves. They know their demons. They proved they could handle a field case." He looked at her. "We bring them on one first. We found one that stress does bad things to so she's not on the patrol schedule. She's taken over as mom to the young girls. We had one go more psycho than I am. She's confined because she tried to kill a few people here for thwarting her plans to be super special. We're figuring out what to do with her but the DCIS shrink has been working on her too. Has since she snapped and tried to kill him, D, and a few other girls." He grimaced but nodded. "She had ego problems back in Sunnydale too. It was Tiff." He nodded he remembered her.
She pointed. "The redhead in the back is the next going to Cleveland. The whole back row have been on patrol already. A few in LA to help Morgan and Crissy. A few to come out to help me. Morgan's stubborn and decided she didn't need a break. She's wrong and Xander made her take one anyway by sending her three of the bouncy girls to work with. It let her calm back down and it helped." She pointed at the front row. "The group on the left side just got put onto the list. They only passed their field case this month. Dean and Sam generally take them out hunting with them." She looked at him. "They've been hunting since Dean was four. Their Dad's here to check up on his boys so Xander's been leaning on him for parental type advice." He nodded at that. "Some of the girls needed it. A few will hit on trees if they look good. One tried to climb in with one of the agents. We've been handling it on a case-by-case thing. D's making a great future watcher too. Learning a lot from the hunters and Xander, plus the agents here."
"She's not in this group?"
"Right now she's teaching languages and learning others with Danny. The girls who didn't speak English are getting better. We have plans to put them into a normal school this fall and then do training afterward. Since it looks like we'll age out we all agreed that we should be able to do something beyond slay if we make it that far. Especially with over fifty of us at D's last count." She looked over as Danny Jackson came out. "Giles, this is Danny Jackson. He heads DCIS. He's a languages person."
"Thank you for letting us help Xander help them. They've been an asset to us when they helped stop the invasion and their training has helped the agents' training as well. We'd have a lot more injuries if it wasn't for Xander's common sense approach to this stuff and letting us take their demonology and hunting lessons with them."
"Who's teaching demonology?"
"Xander was teaching all their lessons as best as he could. Then we got the opportunity to recruit Sam and Dean. They're brothers. Sam's a research oriented one so he's been teaching that, working on the other languages issues with me, and helping them with their normal classes. Some of the girls are very far behind educationally."
"Some watchers didn't care. We were tools, Danny."
"I know, Faith. We see you as slightly insane but nice." She grinned. "Speaking of classes....."
"GED," she said, holding up a hand.
"I can accept that choice."
"Wes made me take it since I had been studying in jail. I passed pretty good." He smiled at that. "X!" she called, spotting him. The girls all squealed and waved.
"Training now. Squeal at Xander later," Dean said firmly. They pouted. He glared. They got back to work. "You have free time to squeal and pounce Xander." He looked over as Xander joined him, handing him a cup of coffee. "Thanks. They're doing good today."
"Very since Giles is watching." A few girls looked over then hissed at their partners and got to work harder. "It's fine, girls. Don't show off. Some of you are leaving tonight for rotation." He sipped his own coffee. "Faith, are we sending you three or two?"
"Two. Marion has a month left on her rotation and she's not too overloaded." He smiled at her. "I know she volunteered since she's sixteen but yay!"
"I agree. Okay. Dean, which ones are going?"
"The back row have gone. The front group just passed."
He looked then nodded. "Sheila, Gwen, Caridad, you're going to see Wes in Cleveland. Caridad, I know you've went so you're going to help Wes finish their field training and yours." She nodded. "Wes needs a break and you might do okay as a field stand-in watcher for now. Doll, you and Patty are hitting LA tonight." One pouted. "What?"
"Can't I go?"
He considered it. "Fine. Have Connor work on your weapons skills since you like them so much and you've been bugging Benny Ray for weeks."
"Ooh, I forgot I had lessons this weekend."
He nodded. "Stay until he finishes that on you then you can go." She nodded. He looked at Dean. "Any nearly there?"
"No. None near the right age either." That got a nod. "Two who're fifteen will be good enough by Halloween I think. The rest are all too young or too inexperienced."
"Good enough for me. We done?" He nodded. "Let's break and welcome Mr. Giles back," he called. They went to talk with him about what was going on and how good they had been doing. He walked over. "Caridad, do you think you can do that? Wes said you showed the most promise of any of the girls. He thinks after you age out you might even consider being a field watcher."
She beamed. "I could like that." She gave him a hug. "Thank you, Xander. Should I find Dawn?"
"No, he'll see her in a bit. It's nearly lunch." She nodded and bounced over to talk to Faith. "You can show him the building later, girls. Let's keep to the schedule so that means lunch. I'm sure he's hungry." They drug him off to help feed him. He finished his coffee and looked at Danny. "They're trying hard to defend me."
"I think you've done an amazing job, Xander," he said honestly. Xander grinned a boyish grin. One he didn't see often enough. "Reports from you?"
"Dropped three off with the departments who sent them. One needs a field call but Ryan volunteered since he heard Giles had woken up. He figures we're going to have a fight." He shrugged. "He might be right." He walked off, going to get his own lunch. The others were watching the girls babble happily. "Ladies, eat," he reminded them. "We don't want anyone passing out." They dug in and ate while they talked. "With manners," he said at one. She quit talking with her mouth open. The younger girls ran in to join them and Dawn stopped to hug Giles before getting her plate and sitting down. Xander sat at the end of the table with her. "You good?"
"No. I'm worried," she said honestly.
He nodded. "I can see that. You want to talk?"
"Do you?" she countered.
"Not yet." She nodded. "Buffy still down?"
"Yup but I checked. Angel's up. He can go back with the girls hitting LA. He's getting briefed about the invasion."
"That was a mess," Xander agreed. "Send him my way afterward so I can brief him on Wolfram and Hart."
She nodded. "I can do that." She looked down at Giles. "It was his case to help take them down. We had to get FBI help but everyone under the senior partner level is in jail for bad things if they did them. They higher ups are hiding."
He nodded. "Good. I heard they were causing problems."
"A lot," Xander agreed. Angel walked in. "We're in a safe corner, Deadboy." He came over to sit with them. "I have the Wolfram and Hart case on my desk. We got all but the senior partners. They're hiding."
"That's good work," he said. "So was the invasion. Buffy would've been proud."
"It wasn't just us. DCIS has been good to us."
"I can tell. Good job so far."
Xander grinned. "Thanks. You'll be heading back with some of the girls going out to help patrol LA." He nodded. "I've had Morgan and Crissy there and they don't want more than temporary relief. They've done good working with Gunn and Connor." He smiled. "They've kept it down. They helped the liaison agent bust a slavery auction. Also, we have one little one out there in foster care with our liaison agent. She's seven. So if you hear about Cordette that's her. She's with the Epps."
"I'll keep that in mind. The spell activated her?" Xander nodded, eating a bite of lunch. "Then I'll keep that in mind if things go near her."
"Her family's pretty well guarded. Alan, the dad, raised our liaison agent and his genius little brother. He's a good man and a great father. She's happy, well adjusted, the girls consider her a little sister."
"That's fine. I'll make sure that family's guarded for her." Xander smiled. "Anything else happening our way?"
"Not that we've been called on. Don handles a lot of things. If it's something he's not comfortable with or needs a bit of slaying he tells the girls and goes on patrol, giving us a report on what happened. Connor and Gunn both make good field watchers and so does Don."
"Even better. Where are they living?"
"Gunn found somewhere. Dawn'll portal you out so you don't have to worry about flights."
He smirked. "That'll work too."
"We found her some kick ass teachers. Ones who do combative magic. Ones who're so strong they have white lighters of their own. She's even got a little bit of a ghost teacher too."
He laughed. "I'm sure it's helpful. She's grown into a beautiful young woman."
"Who's finally allowed to date this year," she teased. He smiled and patted her on the shoulder. "Do we think my sister's going to come up?"
"Probably soon. I looked over what happened. It looks like the spells are wearing out. Can't you tell?"
"No, they did the magic elsewhere and linked it wherever they did it. I couldn't trace it then and it's too faint to do now."
"That happens. We'll get the rest up, Xander will show that the girls are doing good, and it'll be fine."
She looked at him. "My sister's a judgmental ass sometimes." Giles spluttered at that. "The same as he is now and then. We've had to help some of the girls over their problems when they woke up thanks to Buffy's and Giles' little scene before Xander evacuated the rest of us."
He nodded. "They'll handle it. You've both done a great job with the girls. You're a lot like your mom, Dawn." She smiled, sniffling a bit, but nodded. She went to sniffle in private but one of the girls followed to let her cry on her. He looked at Giles. "He handled a mass invasion by a demonic plane."
"I heard that."
"He's done good." He looked at Xander. "Don't get too smug."
"I do too much work to be smug."
Angel smirked. "If you say so."
"I do. I have to go replace light bulbs tonight."
"We'll help," a few of the younger girls promised.
"Can Abby come watch movies with us tonight?" one girl asked.
"Ask her, not me. I don't know what she's got to do tonight." She went to call her since she wasn't down for lunch yet. He smiled. "One of the few female agents around here. She explained puberty a few times too," he told Giles. "She's nice, but a bit goth." He went back to his lunch.
John walked in and scowled. "I could've sworn we had classes today, girls." They squealed and finished up, putting their plates where they needed to go before going back to classes. He shook his head. "You're spoiling them, Xander." He pointed at Giles since his mouth was full. "I saw." He walked off to help the girls with their regular classes. The younger set got training that afternoon.
Xander swallowed. "Dean and Sam's dad. He's been helping with some parental type stuff due to egos getting out of hand and girls fighting over who they're crushing on. Those things."
"I see. You let them date?"
"No. Maybe the older ones once they're in normal school this fall. Dean's even threatened to do driver's ed on us."
Giles cracked a smile. "I wish him luck."
"A few do have the focus," Sam told him from the other end of the table. He moved down. "Sam Winchester, Mr. Giles." He shook his hand. "The girls are going over english, history, and science this afternoon. Then the younger group has self-defense after that while the older ones have chores. Then dinner, then free time and homework time before bed." He looked at Xander. "What do you think about research papers in demonology?"
"Do you want to grade them?"
Sam shook his head. "No but I think I learned a lot having to research topics. I think it might help the older girls."
"Then go for it. You teach it."
"Good point." He smiled. "We have demonology tomorrow. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday alternating with science." He nodded at that. "Though Faith was right. A few of the girls are woefully behind their age level for education. We're working on that and the english issue for a few of them now. Danny Jackson has been helping with that a lot."
"It sounds like you've settled in here very well. What about Cleveland?"
"Wesley has Cleveland," Xander reminded him. "He's got a residence set up for him and the girls near the hellmouth. He's worked out patrol routes and schedules. At first we gave him Faith and then started sending girls out once we could clear them for being ready. Now the girls rotate out of there, LA, and being on call for any DCIS case that needs a slayer. Because there've been a few."
Giles nodded. "He has things set up?"
"To comfortably fit six or seven girls. He said he couldn't find anywhere bigger and he did look. He's renting right now until he can find something huge enough to fit everyone if we all move that way. Right now he agreed that having them here is safer for the little ones and better training than we can offer together because we have people like Major Sheppard to do the basics of self-defense with them and Benny Ray to do the armory stuff. Plus the agents who have taught the girls a lot. One of them teaches science on a rotating basis. We have a lot of forensic people and a few in the R&D lab. It's let us share resources while we've been straightening out the mess in England and elsewhere. Plus it helped the agents with their training so they knew what to do about demons when they ran into them. Harmless and not."
He nodded. "Then it sounds like a good start but what about when we need to handle an apocalypse?"
"Giles, neither of us were for moving a bunch of kids under the age of ten to the hellmouth," he said bluntly. "Especially not young slayers because they'd be in a lot of danger from demons coming after them to sacrifice them." He shuddered. "It's safer to keep the majority of the girls here, where we have wards, guards, all that. Wes complains he has too many girls. Cleveland just opened up and it's barely drawing vamps. The harder patrol is LA and even they say they have enough with two main girls and maybe a backup now and then for training. This time we've got the buddy system going so it's going to be easier. Especially since Crissy needs some time off. She'll be in tonight to see the doc to figure out what she did to her back."
Giles considered that. "She's not healing?"
"I'm not going to make an injured girl go on patrol when we have spares at the moment."
"That is a good point," Angel agreed. "I wouldn't let Buffy patrol if she was injured if there were others to take her place."
"As I did many times," Xander said dryly. "Oh, you might listen to see if anyone knows where Willow disappeared to. She disappeared from the explosion. She's the only one missing."
Angel nodded. "I'll keep that in mind." He stood up. "Can I get into that file?"
"Sure." He walked him off to get him into it then went back to the caf. He stepped off when he saw Giles was grilling Sam for information. Dawn walked past him on her way to the library and gave him a hug. "Thanks."
"If he's being a butt, I'll turn him into one," she whispered in his ear then went back to her hunting for a book.
Xander smiled, going back to his desk. Angel looked at him "He's grilling Sam."
"Do you think he'll change his mind?"
"Do you think I'll hand over things if he doesn't?" Xander countered. Angel smirked. "The judges gave me custody of those things with Wes. I said that he could wake up and the majority of them said we could work that out ourselves if he did."
Angel nodded. "Good luck and convince him so he can talk to Buffy when she wakes up."
"I plan on it. I don't need that battle all at once. It'd hurt the girls."
"Probably." He went back to reading. "We really arrested most of them?"
"For doing bad things, yeah."
"Good. The senior partners we'll keep an ear out for."
"If they show up, it's a DCIS case. Send them here. We have a special prison for demons and those hurting demons."
"Agreed." He shook his hand. "Let me get my own clothes if they're found. That way I can make sure the girls packed what they need to."
"We have a list. Faith taught them the practical method."
"Even better. Common sense is sometimes the best thing." He smiled and walked off. It looked like things were going okay in his city. Him going back there would mean DCIS didn't have to come back as often. He hoped. Or maybe just for the big things. He ran into Giles in the infirmary. "Our clothes?" He nodded. "You should see the tape of the invasion, Giles. They did good."
"He only took part of the girls."
"He only needed part of the girls. The worst injury was a claw to the stomach. They had the agents and then the National Guard behind them."
"Xander had a bunch of the older and nearly ready ones as a standby if it went too long," the nurse assured them. "That way he could switch out for injuries and those who were exhausted." That got a nod. She handed over their boxes. "There you go. One of the other girls has woken and I sent her up to eat then find Dawn or Faith." They looked then nodded since it wasn't Buffy. They'd rush off to find her if it was Buffy.
Xander was sitting outside the residence hall that night when Giles walked over to him. "So?"
"They're a bit spoiled."
"So was Buffy, Giles. I'm hoping to give them the same sort of stability Joyce gave her."
"Which you have. They're well adjusted. There's no battle fatigue among those who've went. They're prepared for what's going to happen when they went. I still do not like you in charge. You're warped a great many things."
"For the better. Did you call Wes?" He nodded. "What did he say?"
"The same thing. He said the girls are better prepared than most new slayers when they take their first patrol. Which is good." He stared at him. "You've still confiscated Watcher funds, Xander."
"We told the judges everything, Giles. Including that you were taking a nap. They agreed that we had to handle these things for the good of the girls." The older man grimaced. "They also agreed having us do this here meant that there was a smaller chance of the bad artifacts getting back into the mainstream so someone could use them again. Things like the Judge. Three of his parts were in the open due to deaths. They're in the specially secure storage underneath the base. Along with the harmful things that got sent from England by that one as she died."
He nodded. "I can agree that's a good thing since they're doing the work. Will they turn them over?"
"That depends on the containment system. If one of them breaks open, it's their job to deal with it to. By presidential order." He stood up. "This agency has been around since a demon assassinated the president, Giles. It took a bit to get this part done but they were moving to start full operations on the new year anyway. The old watchers trying to kill all the girls made that more necessary. Since then, we've done great helping with the minor demon things. Because even with all these girls, we don't have enough to put some in every city. I got a lot of help from them and I gave them a lot help so they'd know what to do when demons got involved in things. It was the right thing to do. It protected those girls. It also helped us stop a more minor ascension in Seattle, the invasion in LA, and a few other choice problems. Plus the less immediate ones of some spirits killing people or showing up to help their homicide investigation. Some demons who were dealing arms. Those sort of things."
"It's not their job."
"There's no watchers left, Giles. Who did you want to do it? Beyond that, the President said it was. You can go argue with him if you want. I can't."
"You've talked with him?" That was shocking. Why would the president want to talk to Xander?
"After the invasion and when he was trying to figure out who to put over the agency. Tony and I took down the demon that was trying to assassinate him during the swearing in. We're so good that demons come to us to complain when things happen now. That means they trust us. Even the harmless, shy things. Even the ones that aren't harmless but are peaceful trust us. And they trust the slayers more because they all learn the same things. It doesn't matter which side starts it, our job is to stop any harmful interaction. If that's hunting the hunters, then it is. If it's stopping arms dealers who're buying and selling among the demon clans, it is. If that's stopping humans who're going to pull hate crimes and enslave harmless, useful demons, it is." He nodded, stepping back at that. "Yes, all my cases in the last six months," he said dryly. He looked around. "The gym has light, George," he called. The little shrub demon waddled that way. "It showed up for sanctuary one day and the girls adopted it. It's harmless and likes to sit in the sun."
"I'm sure it is."
"It also has poisoned nettles if one of the girls is attacked."
"Even better. I do think the older girls should be moved to Cleveland so they can get used to their jobs."
"Wes said it'd overbalance the local structure. They've only got two higher demons who cause problems and maybe six vamps a week." Giles looked stunned. "Sunnydale was open for how long?" Giles groaned. "Cleveland may get that way in a few centuries, but not right now, Giles. They don't need the slayers there and if they were it would draw things that would want to attack them. The city doesn't need that. Cleveland is a city by the way, not a town. The police department there has a clue. A very good clue. They've caught most of the girls out hunting and made deals with Wes about what should be happening. They like that we haven't moved everyone there. It'd make them nervous to have all the girls there. If there's some sort of apocalypse that Wes needs more support for, Dawn can get us there or we can be there within three hours. Wes hadn't even found the first apocalypse yet in a prophecy. Mostly because we've stopped seven in the making in the last year alone. It's nice, we know the ones who're going to try to ascend. We've got six or eight on a watch list right now based on what they're buying and correlating that to the rituals and what type they want to become. In most of those places we have local liaisons and they're watching over them. One's due to finish her sixty years of prep to become a more minor higher demon next year and we don't have one there but we can guess a date and will have a team present just in case. That way I don't have to find a weapon suddenly like last time to save my team."
"You... you faced down one on your own?"
"With my team," Xander agreed. "I realized what it was the last night when we found his working area. We went to get weapons and taped it even for training. She was doing the one that it only took fifty years to build up to. I had to fire a missile at her to get her to let go of one of us." He wouldn't mention the nice talk with the Powers that happened after that when they told them to blow themselves. It'd probably look bad on him and Dawn. The shrub came back and nuzzled his leg, letting him pat a branch gently. "Can't get in?" It shivered. "Hmm." He let it into the residence building and into the elevator. That always had light and the tree demon sighed in pleasure. He walked back out. "He's in the elevator. It's got light."
Giles shook his head. "Is that permissible by local standards?"
"We don't mind the harmless things," Ryan said as he joined them. "The same as we've got two species of demon dogs on patrol with the guards in case someone tries the base again. It hasn't happened in seven months but we're a bit paranoid now and then. Xander helped us sign peace treaties with a few of the tougher clans so we wouldn't be hunted if we had to go after their people doing something wrong and they wouldn't take contracts or orders to come attack us here." He looked at him. "A case came open in Miami."
"Hmm. You going?"
"I'm going to see if we can switch it to Danny's team. When is the rest of ours showing up?"
"Tony and Danny are going through all the applications. We've got one guy from ATF I liked. He's quiet but there when you need him by his rep. Benny Ray knows him. Since we tend to get handed anything that heavy or that dangerous, we'll need the muscle."
Ryan nodded. "I can see that. Where is Tim sitting?"
"The first new team that comes into being. Until then he's on Danny's team. Ooh, that'll be painful if they go to Miami."
"It'll be fine," Ryan promised. "They doted on Speed. Having him back from the dead will make them dote more."
Xander gave him a hug. "It sucked that they couldn't see you for you, Ryan. We do."
"I know you do." He smiled. "Get off, goofball." Xander let him go with a grin. "Thanks, Xander. I needed that." He walked inside, smiling at the plant demon. "Having fun?" It wobbled a few branches and hummed. "Good. Expect Danny's team to possibly head out tonight. A few might be too sleepy to notice you." He got off on his floor and went to his apartment.
Xander looked at Giles. "I got possessed handling a ghost case in Miami by the ghost of a CSI. Dawn sneezed and exorcized me plus made him a new body one night." Giles moaned. "Which is why she has some very strong, white light teachers who know combative magics and protective magics. The ones in Devon didn't want anyone looking over their shoulders. They sneered at her too. She didn't need that and these are closer. They're in California. They can blip over to teach her in person. Plus they've been filling in for some of the big sister stuff she's been missing. Including nagging about her taste in skirts now and then."
He shook his head. "They're good witches."
"The one who approached her was snotty and mean, Giles. I don't care if she's a good witch. The ones that took over her training are high in the hierarchy of fighting demons in their area. They are the main force for it actually. There's three of them. They have a former sister that got sicced onto Dawn after that sneeze. She's possessing her but teaching her from inside her head. They were raised with their gifts. They have a white lighter available if she starts to slip or her emotional control starts to slip her toward anger at some of the slayers who were picking on her at first because she's not one of them. They're doing good for her. I think Joyce would approve of them teaching her. They even have two kids in the house so Dawn gets to babysit now and then. They remind me a lot of Tara."
"I'd like to meet them."
"Talk to Dawnie."
"I shall. Now, about the funds and things?"
"That's what banks are for, Giles," he said dryly. "Except for the upkeep we have here, the salaries we pay Wes, the girls on active patrol, and the Winchesters we don't spend it for anything. Their building was already here. We do pay for their food and part of the maintenance and utility costs since the girls drive it up with movie marathons and things." He nodded once at that. "The rest is in the bank, being probated in a few cases, and the insurance company. Wes hired someone whose father was a watcher to handle that and he only claims twenty percent. Less than anyone I could find and he understands what can't get into the open. Even with the insurance people."
Giles nodded. "Then I'll talk to him about it. You're doing the rest of the administrative duties?"
"Wes nominated me. He said he'd take over field duties if I did the basics of training, which I'm better at honestly, and I worked on finding what we can that was left. Thankfully we found the teaching center still mostly whole and Scotland Yard had stored some of the stuff they found in the building. Again, in the library with the rest of the stuff since both teams need to use it now and then. Danny's even learning some of the languages so we can teach some of the future agents. That way it can be helpful to them too."
Giles smiled. "I'll remember that."
"Danny's having the majority of the Latin books translated into English if you're going to try to move them to Cleveland too. He'd have the rest copied somehow for their use."
"Cleveland PD still doesn't want all the girls there. Their city council either. They proved their point when things came for Faith. Including a gargantuan Fricanth." Giles shuddered. "Messed up traffic for days. Came after Faith, not the hellmouth. So she got a longer vacation and we paid to fix that street since it wasn't a hellmouth event." He held up a hand at the shocked look. "Wes. Not me."
"That was fair. It was our rep that got the demon there and the demon destroyed things."
"I suppose a case could be made for that."
"Then go call Wes. Here, use my phone." He handed over his cellphone. "Number's on speed dial."
"The girl who slipped too far?"
"Confined. Not arrested at the moment but we do have her down in a monitored cell while the shrink works with her." He stood up. "She was dangerous to others. I agreed as long as she wasn't put into general population in the prison. Not that there's so many demons but they don't deserve her killing them for doing minor things. We keep to the US penal code for punishments if we arrest. It's not right to put a slayer in there when she'd kill them for things like robbery."
"I can understand that."
"The shrink is good. He saw combat himself. He's been helping them calm down since he got here a month and a half after the explosion in LA." He walked off. "Make sure I get that back tomorrow. Night. You can stay in their building. John can show you where."
"I'll do that." He sat down to call his former coworker. "Wesley." He listened to him tell him what was going on, how things were in Cleveland. "You knew very well he was not fit to be a watcher." Wesley screamed and ranted at him. That was new. But he did hear what he was saying. When it was the only option they had and Xander had done amazing things to hold the girls together, he was not going to turn him away. Especially since he did have a lot of practical experience with the girls. "The funds and artifacts?" He listened to Wesley more calmly explain those and what was going on. That was good at least. The boy wasn't paying himself an exorbitant salary. Nor paying Wesley one. Most of the money was being saved for the girls. Some set aside for college and the like. Some set aside for their upkeep. He had no idea why their food bills were so high here but they were according to Wesley. He'd have to look that over as well.
Dawn was woken by her phone going off. "W'az up?" she mumbled into it. "Be right there." She got up and got dressed, heading out to the infirmary. Buffy was just starting to wake up. "Morning."
Buffy blinked at her. "You look funny and tired."
"That's because it's five in the morning and I'm almost seventeen," she said. Buffy scowled, sitting up. "The former watchers decided to take out all the extra slayers by blowing up the building in LA." Buffy snorted. "You've been sleeping now for a year and just about seven days." Buffy gaped. She nodded. "So yeah, I'm about seventeen. In three more weeks actually." She hopped up onto the foot of her bed. "Welcome to DCIS."
"The government people who came to get the younger girls?" she guessed.
"Demon Criminal Investigative Services."
"Because one shot the president, Buffy. They do the same things you do only we investigate crimes no matter which side started it."
"Oh. Okay. Why are we here?"
"Because they took all the slayers in when the explosions happened. The watchers went after their people too for the little girls."
"Did they take the potentials back?"
"Willow's spell activated them all, Buffy. Everywhere. All the ones who were born and under the age of twenty-three." That got a wince. "Including a six-year-old. And no, they tried to burn us alive the way they tried to kill you guys."
She sighed. "Let me guess, Xander's still in charge?"
Dawn gathered her temper. "Xander nearly died protecting us that night, Buffy." Her sister moaned. "He's almost died a few other times to protect us. Since the only watchers left are Wes and Giles, who only woke up earlier today, yes he's in charge. He's done a lot of good with the girls and most of them feel the same sort of love we got from Mom."
She laughed. "How could he?"
Dawn sneered. "Don't make me slap you." Buffy leaned away from her. "It's not that hard to give a damn," she said bluntly. "The agents here do. Training the girls helps their training as well. It lets them sit in on the demonology lectures and things. It also helps their physical training. Their PT people have been helping the girls and Xander found a set of brothers who've been hunting demons most of their lives to finish the upper level training before the older girls go on patrol. Wesley and Faith have Cleveland. There's almost nothing to do out there but we have girls in LA as well. Angel only woke up today too. DCIS has been very good to us. They didn't have to take us in, give us a roof to sleep under, help us feed ourselves, that stuff. They did. If you so much as hurt Xander because he's done an excellent job I will call Mom's spirit back and have her go after you for it. And yes, I know how to do that now."
"Willow's giving lessons?"
"Willow disappeared about the same time the bomb went off. I'm learning under a trio of witches who also fight demons. That's their ordained role. Together they're about as powerful as I am and they have a white lighter if something goes really, really wrong. I've even got a ghostly one that helps train me when I'm here instead of with them."
"Why? Did we goof?"
"Once. I sneezed, took a ghost out of Xander, and gave him his own body."
"No, not really. He's a pretty nice guy. Possessing Xander got him into a better second life. He's an agent here now too. He's been helping with the science classes recently."
"Like you did, the other girls need to finish high school too. There's evidence that you'll all age out of your powers at twenty-three. Which sucks for the ten and under crowd that were called but they'll be fine." She smiled. "Any questions so far?"
"Are we not in Cleveland?"
"No. The Cleveland city council and PD found out about the hellmouth and said no more than a few of us there at a time. Because things have been drawn to the ones out there because you're slayers. Cleveland's a pretty major city and the hellmouth's in a suburb. They're worried about property and human damage. So they don't want us drawing things to there by being there. They agreed with Wes that three or four on rotating patrol would be fine. Now and then something comes to test itself against Faith since she's senior and out there. Only one was really bad."
"Uh-huh. And why are we listening to politicians?"
"Because they were going to have them all locked up and put into jail for being in their city and causing trouble. See, their PD has a clue. They actually solve crimes."
"I see. LA? Since you said Angel was asleep."
"We have two girls, Connor, and Gunn out there, plus the DCIS regional liaison guy and the littlest slayer with her newly adoptive family. We rotate out the girls and sometimes they get more, sometimes they take a day off. It's been okay except for the invasion and we handled that pretty darn well since we didn't lose anyone."
"Yeah. A cult in Wolfram and Hart opened a portal and let a whole demon plane out. We had hints it was coming from the books we rescued so we were ready when it started and got there. Some DCIS, some of the older girls who were ready for patrol. The National Guard when they mobilized because there were over a thousand demons that poured through. On tv in some places." Buffy winced. "It took us five hours but we got it cleaned up and all good again. DCIS gets a lot of respect from that and so do the slayers. It makes all our jobs easier."
Buffy climbed out of bed. "Why is my hair braided?"
"Because I came in to give you bed baths every few days and did it for you?" she suggested dryly. "Not like you could."
"Oh. Thank you. Bathroom?" She pointed. "Clothes?"
"Be a few. They're finding them in storage. Go shower." She checked her watch. "It's nearly breakfast before morning runs." Buffy went to do that while Dawn woke Xander up. "Buffy's up," she announced. Then she hung up and did the same to Dean.
Buffy walked into the cafeteria an hour later. "Girls, come on, let's go," she ordered. "We've taken up these nice people's space for a while and we need to be in Cleveland."
A few gave Xander hesitant looks. "Up to you who're ready for field work," he called. "Though Wesley has about five of them there, Buffy."
"Didn't we say you weren't a watcher?"
"You realize that there's none left?" he shot back coldly. "Get over your ass. No one wants to listen to your special girl crap this early in the morning. It's bad enough you infected some of the younger girls and we had to straighten out their egos. If your mother was here she'd beat your ass for it." Buffy huffed. "If you want to go to Cleveland, go ahead." A few went to stand with her, all cleared for field duty. Buffy and Giles both looked stunned. "The rest aren't ready yet. They're still mastering ducking." Buffy huffed off, Giles with her.
Dawn waved. "Have fun. I'm staying here."
"You're my sister."
Dawn snorted. "Yeah, right. The courts gave Xander custody of me, even if you woke up." Buffy gave her a horrified look. "Incoming ghost," she announced. Then she chanted quietly and a ghost appeared. "Hi, Mom." Buffy shrieked and moved to hit her but Dawn ducked and put her onto the ground. "You can see the problem I think. Is it pretty where you are?"
"Very pretty, dear." She smiled. "Let's talk somewhere out of public view, Buffy. Shall we?" She walked off with her daughter. "Girls, go back to breakfast." They went to do that.
Xander smiled. "The duty is the duty and I get that," he assured one who was giving him fearful looks. "We've had this fight before. Every few years actually, thinking back."
"Xander?" Joyce's voice called. "Come here, please?"
"Sure." He brought his plate with him. He was hungry and had barely sat down to eat before Buffy had charged in. "Just got up."
"It's only six, dear, I don't mind if you eat. Did you take over?"
"Yes. Someone had to protect the girls."
"Did you take over back in Sunnydale?"
"No. I took the more vulnerable ones to safety along with books, artifacts, that stuff." He ate a bite of breakfast, letting Dawn poach off his plate. He swallowed and looked at her. "DCIS offered them a spot and sent the older ones they had rescued. When the thing went off, I came back to get the injured, those with post battle issues, and all that. I had a bad feeling someone was going to try because they had so many slayers in one building and I was right. It was the last of the watchers. After they died for neat things like trying to burn the younger ones alive, with Dawn I might add, it left me, Wes, and another one. So we handled it and made it up as we went along."
He ate another bite. "I've done the best I can for those girls. A lot of them had little education. A lot more of them had little training. I found a set of hunters who can teach them better fighting skills than I have and one of them is teaching the demonology lectures and some of their normal classes. Wes agreed he'd take Faith and the patrol capable girls to Cleveland. I set a few in LA to handle it since Angel wasn't there. It's worked well. Most of them are happy, well adjusted young women, like what you gave to Buffy."
Joyce nodded. "Which is good for me," she agreed. She looked at Buffy. "You didn't learn the first time you had this problem back in high school and he saved you from the zombie trying to blow up the school while you were fighting something you decided he was too normal to handle with you. You did it again when Riley and his pack of bad luck showed up. He helped save your butt then too. The boy saved your life and he's just as good as any watcher I'm sure."
"We should be in Cleveland. That's where the hellmouth is."
"The hellmouth isn't causing much trouble," Xander told her. "It's only been active a little over a year. Sunnydale's was active for centuries. For the first century the Natives guarding it had no problems with demons. I got that when they showed up and we did that bit of research for Thanksgiving. Wesley and a few girls are actually quite bored. The ones in LA have the harder job and they're doing wonderfully. You should ask Angel. He went back early last night. Giles still has my cellphone and Morgan has hers I'm sure since she's nineteen and dating someone." He looked at Joyce. "By the way, the courts gave me custody of Dawn, even if Buffy woke up. It was felt her calling might get in the way of her being there for Dawn or might leave her an orphan if she was killed during something."
"I can see the judge's point," Joyce agreed. "I don't like it."
"Can I hit her?" Dawn asked. "She tried her special girl crap on me too and gotta tell you, Buffy, I'm more special than you are since there's only one of me. Since the guys here are more than happy to help me learn how to defend myself, I've been taking advantage of it."
"I agree, that's a good decision. That way if something happens on a date or something comes at you because of Buffy or your skills, you can handle it until someone else comes to help," Joyce agreed. Buffy gave her a horrified look. "Not like she's not going to be doing normal girl things, Buffy. She's going to be dating soon. She's nearly seventeen and you weren't a virgin around her age."
"The head of DCIS and I agreed that the girls needed some more normal time each day so we're sending them to the town's school this fall," Xander told her. "That way if we're right and they do age out of their skills at twenty-three, they've got time to go to college, get a life, all that. For those who want to hold off college, they can do that as well. There's only a few in that age range and none who graduated high school yet. Faith did get her GED. She was studying in jail."
"I'm proud of the girl," Joyce promised with a smile. "Xander, you've done an excellent job."
"Thank you. It's nice to hear." He glanced at Buffy then back at her. "I'd hand it over to Giles if I wasn't sure he'd screw up all the hard work I put into the girls. He's already hurt them yesterday and today your daughter did it. They don't need that. If Giles wants to take over admin. duties that's acceptable to me but I don't want to hear one single bitch or complaint about how I got those girls safe, fed, sheltered, or any of it."
"No, he shouldn't. You did a lot for those girls. You gave up a lot for those girls. You nearly died from what I've seen. Twice now." Xander shrugged. They gaped at him. Including Dawn. "During the head injury, the Powers were trying, dear. By the way, I'm a bit upset."
"Sorry, Mommy, but had to be done."
"No, that was Summers stubbornness and attitude, Dawn." Her daughter wilted. "I do like your teachers. They're good. Everyone on this side said they're good. I especially like that you have a ghost who can guide you if they're not around and you get into trouble." She looked at Xander. "The other, that cut you never got looked at until John made you that night, had poison in it."
"I know, I took the anti-venom," Xander promised. "Any idea where Willow is or if we're right about the aging stuff?"
"As far as I know the aging stuff is right, but I haven't asked. Willow? She's somewhere in LA but I think she's in the wrong form. She might be a ghost but she's tied to Spike." Buffy groaned. "Angel will find her in a few months I'm sure. Spike won't pass up a chance to taunt him since the Powers brought him back. Dawn can separate them or whatever." She smiled. "You could use less work. It's killing you, Xander." She stroked a hand over his head. "Ooh, shields. Finally. I'm proud."
Giles gaped. "They managed to impose some?"
"Yeah, she found out I don't have Dawn and Tara magic, I have more void and that sort of magic tainting me. She used that." He shrugged. "It works. I haven't been possessed since they got Tim out of me." He grinned. "It's kinda nice. I can hear myself think." He looked at Joyce. "Should I turn over the admin. duties to him? He won't ruin the girls, hurt them, any of that?"
"I think a good, swift kick is all he'll need, Xander. It worked in the past when they got on this kick. Like in high school."
"They never really got off that kick," he pointed out. "I was useful."
"You're more than useful. The First Slayer spell would not have went without you. Willow would have destroyed everyone without you." Giles winced at that reminder. "You did a lot, Xander. Quit putting yourself down."
"How can I not when I have them to push me down when I try to get back up?" he said bitterly.
"I know. We'll figure it out. Buffy, you could call." She did that so she looked at Giles. "I'm very disappointed Rupert." A glowing woman appeared. "Oh, hello. Nice to meet you in person, Paige."
"Joyce, their mother," Xander explained. "Buffy woke up and tried to get all the slayers to Cleveland."
"Which would draw more evil there," Paige said. "Having five there draws a lot of evil there. We have you guys so warded here it's safe. Having five of them in LA right now with Angel is drawing problems too but they've got it handled."
"They need help?" Xander asked.
"Nah. Crissy's back will be fine. She popped it. She'll be in anyway. Angel went to meet Cordette and she was very polite from what we heard and saw. Leo went to check when Dawn told us." She looked at Dawn. "You're in deep for calling her back."
"It's like a seance?"
"No, it's not." She grinned. "You're in deep."
"Ooops. I meant to only call her back to talk to her this time because Buffy was being a bitch and needed a swift kick."
Paige swatted her on the head. "We'll work on letting her go back to her rest in a few hours. Let her say what needs to be said now. Oh, Xander that one's sending psychic shocks through the system again. We think she's back on her suicidal kick."
Xander opened the door. "Someone go check on Tiff please? They said she's turning suicidal again! Thank you!" He closed the door. "There, how's that?"
"That's actually good. You know, boot camp and other situations have been known to cure those sort of attitudes," she said with a grin.
"You want me to send her to loud scientist guy and the hotty air force colonel?" he asked with a grimace. "I don't think she could handle it."
"I think you'll find she'll thrive in a structure like that. It'll give her boundaries. Her skills will be in good use until they fade sometime in the twenty-third year. I also think they could use the help and attitude she has."
"I'll suggest it to Danny. He worked on their project."
"Good." She beamed then at Joyce. "So, how's your afterlife?"
"Not too bad so far. Dawn is growing into an exceptional woman with sense most of the time. Buffy's trying to finish growing up. Now and then she backslides into a petulant toddler." Buffy scowled. "You are. You even pout like one." Xander stood up. "You sit."
"I was going to put my plate away like a good boy."
"Fine. Come back here."
"Yes, ma'am. Coffee anyone? Paige?"
"Please. It's even earlier on our coast." She smiled. "If he didn't have bad taste in girls, I'd hit on him. He's adorable, smart, funny, and talented in many areas."
Dawn nodded. "That's why I had my crush."
Paige smiled. "It's a good first crush. You handled that well, Dawn." She beamed. "You're still in trouble though and Phoebe wants to talk to you when we're done."
"Good girl." She patted her on the back. "Get chairs?" Dawn went to get chairs. Paige hauled off and slapped Buffy. "The most special person in the world is one who gives a damn when they don't have to and does it anyway," she told her. "Otherwise you would still be dead." Buffy slumped but nodded, hanging up. "Good. Now that we've got that settled. Do you need me, Mrs. Summers?"
"No, dear. Dawn can bring me when she comes up to be spanked."
"That's fine then. I can hear the nephew fussing so I'll go handle that." She disappeared.
"You know, if one of the top hitters on the Elder's side, the ones who are ordained to vanquish demons and the be the light posts on the path of the light, say you're an asshole, I'm going to agree with her," Xander said as he came back in with a few of the chairs. He helped Dawn arrange them then sat down. "Okay. Giles, do you want to start taking over the bookkeeping duties Wes does or would you rather start with the copying book project? That'll be a mostly painless way of moving up into admin. control and won't give the girls too many problems."
"I..." He swallowed. "How about we look at what we need to bring with us since there doesn't seem to be a need to move the girls right now."
"We might have to move them to their own building on the other side of campus," Xander admitted. "They're running out of space if more new agents come in unless they're married. Their building could be converted into about seven new apartments for singles."
Giles nodded. "I can see how that would be practical. We'd want to keep them on the base here?"
"It's warded, protected, and safer."
Giles sighed. "Then it sounds like we should."
"Danny and I were talking about how. We've figured out a spot if we have to move them. What's left is deciding building styles and that stuff. If we should move the classrooms or not since we do have some open space in this building and they're going to normal school this fall."
He smiled. "That's a good working solution to that. How many will be held back?"
"All but Dawn and two others. Mostly about a year. Two or three are going to be held back farther. One of them due to language issues. The other two could barely read and we're working on it. We're thinking about keeping them out another year but they wanted to go, even if they will be in a lower grade."
"I see. You let them know?"
"I don't make major decisions for the group without telling them, Giles. It's not fair to them."
He smiled. "That's also reasonable. I do like that. Is that John chap staying on?"
"Up to him. I gave him that option since I was having a lot of problems that I thought could be cured by a real parent being available more often than I was since I have casework, have to be out of town sometimes, we still have to find the remaining girls, and figure out if we have potentials or new ones coming up, that stuff."
"We have potentials," Dawn said happily. "I do not know if they'll be activated at a later date but Phoebe and Leo helped me put a guardian spell on one near them that'll let one of us or them know if she's activated somehow. Their mother knew my teachers so we got permission," she said when Buffy looked at her.
"What about trouble spots?" Buffy asked.
"The Slayers Council handles things and we work hand-in-hand with DCIS to handle some other things," Xander said. "Yes, I changed the name so that future generations wouldn't turn into Travers. We're now the International Slayers Council."
Giles nodded. "That might work."
"We do need to hire more field watchers. I was thinking that a few of the girls as they aged out or some of the agents who wanted to retire fully or who had to retire fully might like that sort of job since they're already partially trained and the ones here have worked with the girls in the past. Wesley said Caridad is an exceptional candidate."
Buffy shrugged. "They might make a good one and they mostly sound ...decent."
"Most of them are. We've had about six problematic, 'kill them all' sorts but they've been fired," Dawn told her. "Some on Xander's team."
"That's good then," Joyce agreed. "Keeps down the problems."
"We will not turn into a hunting team," Xander assured her. "Danny and I agreed on this. Tony and the president too."
"Even better. You need someone to handle it when things happen between the two worlds. Or when slayers go rogue. You would've handled Faith if they were around?" she asked Xander. He nodded. "How?"
"Most likely the same way we are Tiff. We're kinda making it up as we go along at the moment. New problems crop up, we deal with it."
"Which is all any human can do," Giles agreed. "Do you think they would consent?"
"I think it'd matter what was going on at that time and where they wanted to be."
"Then I'll keep that option in mind."
"Caridad has the makings of a good watcher. That's why I sent her as extra backup to Wes. So he can work on that with her. She does very good with some of the younger kids and I'm not naive enough to think that Wes can't die."
"I do like the big sister program we have for the girls," Dawn told him. "It helps and give the younger ones someone to talk to when they're confused about stuff or having girl issues or stuff like that. Abby helps too." Xander smiled. "She's helped me a lot."
"She has," Xander agreed. "She's the one who gives all the girl talks," he told Buffy. "Takes the girls for their first exams in the infirmary so they can go on the pill to take away their periods. All that. She even helps when the girls get horny and try to jump the agents or the Winchesters."
"She sounds like a nice girl," Joyce said.
"She's head of the labs and R&D upstairs," Dawn told her. Joyce looked up then giggled. "Pigtails and all, but Abby's a cool, neat woman, Mommy. She's a great big sister sort."
Joyce smiled. "She seems sweet." She looked at Xander. "If you had to choose which are you going to choose?"
"The girls need me," he said bluntly. "DCIS needs agents. They need me because they trust me, they know I'll protect them, they know I'm a big brother to them."
She nodded. "Then how about you take over the support duties? Plus the little ones' training. What you're doing now without the worries about the girls who are somewhere else, the future, all the research duties, all that?"
"I can see doing that," Xander agreed. "It's most of what I do anyway. I don't have time to worry about the other stuff except for now and then. I couldn't find anyone to handle it for me while Giles was asleep."
"Good." She smiled at Giles. "Would that work for you?" He nodded. "Excellent. Buffy?" Her oldest daughter looked at her. "If you want to switch off with Faith or take over one of the spots in LA, that is up to you. You're an adult, you can make those decisions. Do be aware that those girls look up to you like you're an icon. Faith as well. She's become an exceptional slayer because she knows the girls are watching what she does."
"She even swears less now and then," Dawn agreed.
"I can do that," Buffy said, straightening up again. "Do we need to move me somewhere?"
"I'd almost rather someone who could handle combat and rough terrain go out to find the missing girls with a strike team," Xander said. "I don't think you could handle that but Faith might. I was going to ask the Major's opinion on that soon. I've had to put that talk off due to problems. We have one girl who can't handle stress that can handle part of the search duties but I don't want to send her out alone."
"That's not a bad idea. Is he of that sort of service?" Giles asked.
"He was on a 'we don't know you but we use you' team for removals, handling things, all that," Xander told him. "I figured if his team couldn't when they retired from here, he'd know someone who could or who could go now. Sending a slayer with them to explain things and help a few of the girls who are in bad places would be for the best. Some we can just send someone to talk to them. Some are in Africa in one of the warzones." Giles winced. "There's three on that continent. Two are in pretty calm areas from what the news says. One's not. She's in Sudan. We need to get her and the one in the middle of Iraq out of there, Giles. Soon. That's why I was going to talk to him this weekend. I was hoping he'd have an idea about the immigration stuff too."
"The Council has things set up for such cases," Giles told him. "We can revive them." Xander grinned at that and nodded a bit. "I'll meet with him with you?"
"Thar's fine. Most of his team is local with us right now. One's our arms master."
"Well, they certainly sound competent then." He looked at Joyce. "Any other suggestions?"
"Lighten up, Giles. Before you turn into Travers." He spluttered. "You're heading for the same stiff, uptight, ready to have a heart attack personality as he had."
"I'll try," he promised.
"Good." She smiled. "Now, someone has to tell the girls what's going on."
"It should come from me," Xander told her.
"That's doable," Giles agreed. "Buffy?"
"Should I take some with me?"
"Take LA or go find the other girls," Xander told her. "The easy to find ones. You can do that and traveling is good for you. Gives you a vacation. You and Faith can switch off."
"Sure," she agreed, smiling at him. "Do I get to check on the older girls too?"
"Sure. We get them up to hunters' standards and then let Wes finish off what we can't."
"None of you are slayers; you can't really train since you don't have their reflexes," Dawn told him.
Xander nodded. "I know that. Dean's better though. He's damn good, Giles. We're shielding him from the FBI because they were roaming hunters. There were a few demons who people thought were humans and the like so they were going to charge them with killing them."
"Any other sins?"
"They had to fund it by some credit card fraud now and then."
"I suppose that does happen," Giles sighed.
"They're not teaching the girls that, Giles. They were on the road all the time since Dean was four. They're not independently wealthy."
"Anything on my holdings?"
"The guy in England is handling that for you. You can check on him. I wasn't sure he was too straight. Wes decided he was expedient."
"I'll definitely start there. Food bills are that much?"
"Have you noticed how much a slayer eats?" Xander countered. He shuddered. "Times three meals a day times all the girls. Then there's their upkeep payments so they can replace clothes. They taught them to sneak past the guards so they could go shopping in town without us."
"We can handle that," Buffy promised. "Anything dangerous in town?"
"One werewolf who bought blood and infected himself. He doesn't always lock himself up but the sheriff has a tranq gun as soon as he's found." She nodded. "Let's go talk to the girls. They're probably worried." He led the way to the training building.
"Is that a shrub demon?" Buffy asked.
"It came for sanctuary and the younger crew adopted him; his name's George," Dawn told her. Buffy giggled. She walked in first. "Announcement time! Let's head here, please?" she called. The girls piled out of their rooms and the classrooms, plus Dean and Sam from the tv room and John from the back. "Good." She got out of the way and sat down.
"Since Dawn earned a verbal spanking by her teachers for calling back their mom, we let her work some things out for us," Xander said. "Giles is going to be over finding the missing girls, dealing with the research stuff that has to be done, and the admin. paperwork stuff like the checkbook. I'm still over the rest. All the training comes out of my mouth and through the Major or Dean. All the support stuff. I'm still all you girls' big brother. Got it?" They nodded. "Good. Now, Buffy and Faith are going to be switching off leads for hot spots and finding the missing ones. Yes, Faith, that means you can go to Germany and have real beer. We'll let Europe beg to open DCIS branches of their own that way." She cackled. "It also means she can handle LA now and then too or if we open another hot spot for some reason. Okay?" They all nodded. "Any questions?"
Dean raised his hand. "We still have a job?"
"Yes," Giles said. "Xander said you're better suited to the advanced training than he is. I've heard nothing but praise for Sam's teaching and research. You're both very valuable to us." He looked at Xander. "You don't take a salary?"
"So? You would've complained more." He shrugged. He looked at them. "John too if he wants one. We could use some more parents around here."
John laughed. "Now and then I'll stop in to help, kid. I've still got one I've got to hunt with the boys."
"Found it in the library. Know how to summon it and kill it," Sam announced. "We can use the same rock Dawn did to do her thing." John smiled at him, giving him a proud look and a nod. "Works best probably this winter though."
"We can do that." He looked at Xander. "You guys are handling a lot of cases that hunters used to."
"A demon assassinated that president," Xander said honestly. "He did it because of the Initiative mess. This is their way of making sure it doesn't happen again and someone's handling it so it doesn't get out of hand like Sunnydale did before Buffy got there."
"They're not doing a bad job. Most of us were getting older. Some of them might consent to fill in on the field watcher issue."
"I'd have to interview," Giles said. "We only want the best for the girls."
John nodded. "I can pass that onto a few friends I trusted when my boys were little."
"That would be acceptable," Giles said with a smile.
"I'm going to hate working with you," John decided. "You're a bit uptight, Giles."
"It's a British thing, like tea," Buffy told him. "You get used to it. We did." Everyone else laughed. "Faith, do you want me in Cleveland overseeing or out finding girls?"
"I like Cleveland. It's low stress right now. Last month we had four vamps total." Buffy moaned, mouth slightly open in shock.
"Wait until the winter since they have winters like here," Dean said happily.
"Oooh," she said with a wince. "B can do that. I look sucky in snow shoes."
Buffy shrugged. "I'll learn how to use them if I have to." John gave her an odd look. "I was born and raised in LA."
He shook his head. "Dress for warmth, Buffy. It'll be cold, wet, and nasty when you fall in the snow."
"Yes it is," Xander agreed, cracking people up. "I slipped plenty of times this winter." He looked at Dean then at John. "Dean said someone had to give the girls driving lessons."
John shuddered. "I made it through Dean and Sammy."
"The local school only has driver's ed once a year," Xander told him. "And we have no idea who's going to be too scattered to drive. Danny did say we could use a company car to do it."
John shrugged. "I'll think about it. It's more nerve wracking than watching Mary give birth to Sammy."
"We do have some good news from Dawn," Xander said. "Speaking of babies. They're potentials instead of called slayers." That got some cheering and hugging. "So we're back on the system. Joyce and Paige both thought you will age out sometime when you're twenty-three or so." That got more cheering. "So yes, you have to graduate high school!" They groaned. "Tough shit," he said with a grin.
"Hey, school shopping," Dawn offered. That got some smiles and talking. She looked at Sam. "Oh Great Educational One, when are we taking our exams to see where we fit?"
"Next week. Wednesday afternoon. They're coming up here with them." That got nods and the girls settled down. "Then school shopping once we have the forbidden list."
"Some of those are pretty tight," Dean agreed. "I remember one had only clear backpacks and things. They're all no weapons, not even a stake."
"Oh, no, the local school knows," Xander told him. "The principal came up after the invasion and bluntly asked me if those were some of his future students he had seen on the tv. We have worked it out that there will be one single gear locker in the office in case of emergencies. It will have *one* gun, a few stakes, *one* crossbow, and a few knives. Benny Ray's already got it packed and down there so they can use it if something happens."
"That's not a bad compromise," John told him. "Safe but still safe for the other kids."
"The school doesn't have any really horrible bullies. Some of the lower years in junior high now and then but nothing bad. They have asked if the girls are picked on they do not harm the bullies more than necessary. Nothing that would require paramedics if you can please." That got some nods from the girls. "Good." He looked at Giles. "Everything you'll want to look at is in my desk in my apartment." Dawn held up a hand and muttered, bringing it to her. "Even better, less walking." She handed it to Giles with a grin. "You, do something." She pouted but sent herself to Paige and them with Joyce. He looked at the others. "Your free day is next week." They groaned but walked off. He stopped John and Dean. "Do you want to chaperone at the zoo or at the small regional amusement park that has about fifteen rides?"
"Amusement park," Dean said. "The girls deserve it. We can do the zoo sometime soon."
John nodded. "Shouldn't be too hard." Xander nodded and let them go.
"No movies locally?" Buffy asked.
"Tony's movie collection. Small theater in town that's only open on the weekends. There's an older, regional amusement park about sixty miles away. They're getting to go play their free day next week."
"Sure, that's a good thing," Buffy agreed. "I can chaperone if I'm here."
"Sure." He walked off. "I'm at my desk, guys. Call if you need me." He walked over there and found Tony pacing. "Bad case?"
"Worried about things," he said. "How did it go?"
"Joyce made him see reason and Buffy too. He's taking over the money stuff, the finding the other girls stuff, and heading over research. I'm doing support and training." Tony smiled. "And I still have to change light bulbs tonight."
"Danny was mean and got us maintenance guys, Xander."
"Wow. Really? I might start to feel unappreciated." He pouted. "You still love me, right?"
"Of course I do. You get my movies back from the girls." Xander grinned. "So they can change light bulbs."
"One less thing on my list. Hey, that means I only have three jobs."
"Yup, you do," Tony agreed. "Also Danny was looking at the budget. I didn't pay you?" Xander shook his head. "That's really wrong, Xander."
"I have most everything I need here."
"I don't care. That's still really wrong. Suck it up." Xander hugged him. "I love you. Get off?" Xander got off and gave him a goofy grin before going to work at his desk. "How were you getting shampoo and things before?"
"I snuck ten bucks from the Council's funds and stocked up."
Tony shook his head. He even walked off shaking his head. Sometimes Xander made no sense.
Buffy smiled when she met him in the hall. "Xander gives us all that look sometimes."
Dawn glared at her. She was newly back. "What did he do?"
"Did you know he wasn't getting paid?"
Dawn frowned. "Really? Huh." She considered it. "You're right. He hasn't bought anything since he borrowed ten bucks from the second slayer shopping trip to buy shampoo and soap."
"I can't believe he took all of you shopping."
"We outgrew stuff."
"I guess you did. You're getting tall." Dawn looked at her but Tony gave her head a nudge so she walked off instead. "She was upset by that?"
"She'll be seventeen next month," he reminded her. She slumped. "She's supposed to be tall. You should see her self-defense class. She's one of the best students we've got."
Buffy looked at him. "Xander let her?"
"Xander insisted to protect her."
"I guess. But she shouldn't have to."
"No one should have to, Buffy, but they do happen," he said dryly.
"Oh, yeah, I guess." She frowned and walked off. "Thanks. Cafeteria?" He pointed. She went to browse and see if they had snacks. One of the girls swore they did and she hadn't had breakfast. The cook saw her and handed her a full plate a minute later. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." She watched her go sit down and eat. That girl needed to finish thinking and then go make apologies. That went better over food. Xander would be coming in for a muffin in a few minutes.
John watched Buffy watch the girls. "No exceptions to training time," he ordered quietly. She glared at him. "Tough. Go. Now." She sulked all the way out to the area Dean was running the senior practice. Dean decided to test her. She was good. She had moves the other girls didn't. Some fancy, some not. Dean was managing to avoid most of the hits but that was his style. Then he got her with one classic punch and she went down. The girls giggled. "Yes, even the best of you can still be beaten if you don't stay in practice, stay focused during a fight, and don't count on anything to appear during it," John said, coming out there. "After all, the shrub demon could have tripped her." He pointed at where it had waddled over to help the fight. The thing liked Dean for some reason. It was almost funny how it'd sun itself near Dean whenever he was outside. "If Dean had been a demon, another one could've jumped in."
"Had that happen many times," Buffy agreed. "You're fighting a vamp and another one shows up. Or you're holding your stake too tight and it squishes and turns into splinters." Dean helped her up. "Thank you." She looked at the girls. "I've been fighting two or three vamps and had another three jump in because they said it looked like fun." They all gaped at her. She shrugged. "I was more amusing when I was your age. Now, I'm just really tired."
"One more year," one of the girls soothed, giving her a hug. "Were you going all out with him?" She nodded. "We don't because we could hurt Dean and then Sam would get mad and sulk at us." John walked off snickering at that. "But we do spar against each other at least three days a week going all out."
"Let's do that," Dean agreed. The girls got their usual partners and went at it. "Last one standing gets ice cream," he shouted. "The rest have to eat whatever's at dinner." The girls hooted and really went for it now.
Buffy stared. "Wow."
"I know. It's not the fancy stuff you do but it gets things done."
She nodded. "I guess it does." Faith came out. "Joining in?"
"I do whenever I'm here." She pounced Buffy with a wicked smirk. Buffy grinned back and kept going. It was really on between them. After about ten minutes Faith looked at her. "Having graduation flashbacks?"
"Definitely, only we're not fighting over a guy this time." She frowned but let it clear up and got the girl that tried to pounce her to help Buffy. "Sneaky, Amber, I like that." She used Amber to get in Buffy's way then drove Buffy back. George the bush got her with some of his nettles. Buffy yelped. Faith giggled. "Sorry, B, but hey. He likes the girls."
"I'm sure he does."
"You two hold up. George has poison," Dean called. "Take her to the infirmary, Faith."
"Yes, Dean." She smirked all the way down there. "George got protective during practice and got her," she reported to Danny since he was walking out.
"He got me once for blocking his sun for too long." She smiled and let Faith drag her down there. He shook his head, stopping to pet the bush. "It was practice, George. She wasn't going to hurt your girls." He straightened up, hearing John laughing. "He's very protective of some of them and his sunny spot." He got out of the way of the sun and walked on. "Where's Xander?"
"Last I knew doing your work," Dean told him.
"So, probably the library with Sammy then," he said, going back inside to find him. Sure enough, in the armory. "Xander?" He looked over. "Weapon petting break?"
"Talking with them about the girls who aren't here."
"Ah. I thought Giles was handling that."
"He is but I'm going over options and ideas. Plus if they go, that'll mean one of us has to take over the armory and I know most of the things in here. So Benny Ray can teach me in case they get called off to rescue someone."
"It's not a bad idea to have a backup in case we get sick or decide not to renew," Benny Ray said. "Besides, he needed the weapon petting time after this morning."
"She's straightened out," Danny reminded him. "The little bush demon just got her during sparring practice."
Xander grinned. "He's very protective of some of the girls."
"And Dean," Benny Ray added. Xander nodded, cracking Danny up. "Boss, about this portal and the weapons in there. Did we confiscate it and the money?" Danny nodded. "Shouldn't we be letting ATF have the really big stuff?"
"Sometimes I need it," Xander said. "That's how I stopped the ascension in Seattle."
"There was an ascension in Seattle?" Buffy said as she came in, giving him a horrified look.
"There was. Xander saved his team by buying an illegal weapon off the black market up there and blowing the demon from the throat out because it was trying to eat a teammate," Benny Ray told her. She gaped at Xander, who nodded. "They came back pretty banged up because they didn't know it had been one until the night before. Thought it was a bunch of sacrifices."
Buffy shuddered. "Smaller than ours?"
"Remember how we found out there were multiple ways to get there and the mayor chose the hardest so he could become that big?" She nodded. "We had the one that was for the fifty-foot class."
"Yes it was. The concussion and bruised ribs weren't fun either."
"No, they usually aren't," she sighed. "Are these slayer weapons or agent weapons?"
"Whoever needs 'em weapons," Xander told her. He looked at Danny. "Do you want us to sort out what we probably won't ever have to use, short of another invasion?"
"Go ahead. We can call ATF to pick them up and destroy them." He looked at Buffy. "Benny Ray was a Marine."
"Once a Marine, always a Marine," he shot back dryly.
"Okay, he's not on active duty and he's a retired Marine," Danny amended, getting a grin from the Southerner. "Tony found him to be our arms master and he works with Major Sheppard, who does the self-defense training for the youngest girls before Dean gets them and everyone else around here."
"Very," Benny Ray agreed. "Now we're sorting evidence from a bust a few months back. They had it in the portal." He nodded at the hanging sheet.
She looked inside then whimpered. "I need those."
"No, you don't need those," Xander told her. "If we need those, there'd better be another ascension or invasion." He looked at Benny Ray. "Above what class?"
"Anything that'll take out the base if it goes up?" he suggested. "Keep it to what'll fit in the storage area?"
Xander considered it. "Want a broad range in that class or just the same thing repeatedly?"
"Broad range." Danny nodded. They went to do that, letting Buffy haul the money over for them since she had super strength. Do her good to do some work today too. They finished picking weapons that they had to have, even though Xander was petting something. "Fine," he agreed. They carried those things over to the storage closet and stacked them neatly, letting Buffy write out cards for them. Then the rest got sent to ATF.
Xander walked into the LA ATF office the next morning and pulled out the portal, unfolding it and hanging it up over a closet doorway. Then he put the crystal underneath and pulled an agent inside since he was staring.
"Holy shit!" he shouted.
It brought other agents.
Xander came out with a grin. "We confiscated this during a raid on some arms dealing demons a few months back in New York. Just gotten around to sorting it out. This is what we confiscated, minus what we kept in storage, just in case of another invasion scenario. We didn't want to overload the North Dakota office." Then he grinned sweetly.
"Do we think or know it will happen?" one of the guys asked.
"Not a clue but better to be a bit paranoid than to be overrun and have to wait on the army, right?" They all nodded. "So this is your cut of it. We only kept five percent and the money. Here's the inventory list and the report on what we kept." He handed it to the agent he had pulled inside. "You have to have the crystal underneath it." They all nodded. "But you need a destruction run." That agent nodded frantically, moving to call someone. "Happy moving weapons." He grinned and left, going to see Don. Cordette's birthday was soon and he wanted to know what she wanted.
The agent pointed. "You won't believe it if I told you." They went to look. He looked at the boss. "If demons have this sort of weapons, where did they get it from and how many went to terrorists?"
"Let me call their local liaison, get that report." He called up there. "Epps, I need the report on the clan of arms dealing demons we just got the portal from. New York bust a few months back. Things like how many went to terrorists?" He smiled. "That's good. Sure." He hung up. "He'll be back down. He was checking in." Xander walked in with his PDA and handed it over once he had the report up. They copied it down. "We didn't check?"
"NYPD got shared with," Xander said honestly. "Call Taylor in the labs out there. I didn't find any in the paperwork. They were pretty much selling to demons as far as I could tell and I sent him copies of all the papers we found so he could run down any leads he had. We had an agent issue that night so I did what I could."
"That's fine. We can search those out once we get them from him. Why not use the New York office?"
"I had to stop in and see Don anyway." He grinned. "Call us if you need us, guys." He left, heading back to the base via Dawn.
The agents got down to moving weapons into their secured storage. The portal was nice but possibly not secure. Theirs was secure and they knew it. After the invasion they had found someone to make sure not even demons could get into it using magic.
Xander beamed at the people bouncing up to him that night. "What's up?"
"Movie night, Xander. Come watch with us," one said.
"No, we're taking Xander out to be an adult tonight," Sam said as he joined them. "Dad's orders. Xander needs to be a twenty-something guy again." They pouted. "Tough. Not like he can date."
"No, he can't date," one said, scowling at him. "We don't need him to date more bad girls."
"Yeah, don't wish that on us," another complained.
"How do you expect him to give you nieces and nephews to spoil?" Sam taunted with a grin.
"Abby can do it in the lab. We asked," one said. Xander walked off snickering at that. "She can. She said she can."
"I'm sure she can but we're going to let Xander be a guy tonight," Dean ordered. "Make Dad watch movies with you." They went to do that. John was an okay parent to the horde. Dean shook his head. "That bad?"
"My last one was nice but she died in the battle. Anyanka was pretty good to me when she wasn't demonic."
Sam blinked. "You dated a vengeance demon?"
"No, he nearly married her but she was human at the time," Dawn called from her room's window. "Please, make Xander go date good girls and stuff. That way we can live vicariously until we get to date."
"No dating, Dawn," Buffy called.
"Bite me! Mom said I could!"
"Yes, they're like that," Xander sighed, shaking his head. "She's allowed to date, she'll be seventeen soon, Buffy. You were at her age." Buffy stayed silent and Dawn just grinned. "Inside." She pulled back in and shut the window. "How am I supposed to go prove I'm a big boy?"
"Strip club," Dean said.
"I haven't gotten paid."
Sam waved an envelope. "You did and Tony got it cashed too." They walked Xander down to the Impala and got him into the back, taking him to the local town. It didn't have much but toward the interstate was a small strip club and bar. That's where they were headed. Sam handed Xander his envelope of money after paying cover out of it, getting a smirk for that move. "You make more." They walked in and sat at a table, letting Xander stare at the pretty young thing on the stage. Not A level strippers like Las Vegas or LA but nice enough for a hometown and trucker strip joint. She looked clean, was kind of pretty, and danced okay. Xander bought a round to get change for the dancer, getting comfortable to watch her. She was good. When she got down, he waved her over, getting her a drink.
"You boys passing through?" she teased.
Xander grinned. "At the base."
"Oooh. I've heard great things come from there, but you all are pretty strange."
Xander winked. "Only sometimes. Now and then it's a duty." She giggled and stayed with them to talk about stuff. Not work stuff because she could tell they didn't want to talk about work stuff. She was good enough to move to topics ilk the local town. That was safe and it'd keep him out of trouble.
Tony checked his watch the next morning then looked at Xander's empty desk. "Anyone seen Xander? He's two hours later," he called.
"I saw him head off with Dean and Sam," Danny Messer called.
Tony grimaced, going to find the GPS chip he had put on Xander. What he found was amusing. "They're at that strip club. Still?" He went to get his car and check it out. With Xander it could've been he passed out and they couldn't move him without him beating someone or it could've been a problem. Considering he walked into the club and found the three guys blood covered and with short swords, plus a lot of parts around....yeah, it had been a problem. "You couldn't call for backup?"
Xander snorted. "For this?" He got up with a groan, helping Dean get Sam up since he looked so tired. "We're fine. Only one got away. We should probably check with the locals to see if there's been a lot of guys going missing."
"What happened?" Tony asked.
"A few succuba feeding on cheating spouses, a few trucker-eating demons, and then one realized what it meant when Xander said we were from the base." Dean smirked. "Only one got away. I shot her but she kept going."
"Succuba do that," Sammy reminded him.
"I know." He looked at himself then at Xander and Sammy. "I do not want this mess in my car."
"Unless we're all going back naked," Xander started.
"The girls would like that *way* too much," Sam complained.
"I've got blankets and a trash bag," Tony said, going to get it for them and call in the local sheriff. He was amused when he got there. "Did you know you had demons feeding on the locals here?"
"Nope. We did?" Tony nodded. "Huh. That's probably why we had the truckers go missing over the last few years."
"And some succuba feeding on cheating spouses," Tony said. "The boys are inside." They went back inside, handing Dean the supplies. They changed out of their nasty clothes and into blankets, wrapping themselves up. The dirty clothes went into the trash bag so they could be washed. "Now, how did it start?"
"One of the dancers on stage said 'oh, shit, that means they're DCIS!' and lunged off the stage to get Sammy," Dean told him. "It turned into a 'let's get Xander his paycheck back' battle after a few minutes."
Xander grabbed his wallet and counted. "I made eighty bucks," he said happily. Tony groaned and shook his head. "Sorry." He looked at the sheriff. "They attacked us."
"Figured they did. All we ever hear about you personally is that you're a semi-violent little goofball with a lot of girls who mother you horribly."
"Now and then," Dean agreed. The sheriff looked at him. "Sammy and I are hunters who're working on the girls' training."
"Ah." He nodded. "Head back to the base, boys. Nothing more you can do here. Any other guys here? I noticed the pickup."
"He took off with the girl that got away. She was a succuba and injured so he's probably in the ER," Sam said. "She wasn't strong enough to kill him." He got behind the bar and got them some decent beers. "We'll need it later." That got a nod and they left.
Tony shook his head. "Xander needed some stress relief and their dad said to bring him to the strip club. We didn't know this would happen."
The sheriff smiled. "Some guys draw them more." He looked around. "Should probably torch the place. Easier to clean up than this mess."
Tony snorted. Then he called the base. "Can Mortimer meet me where I am? Demon carnage. They tried to attack Xander." The hellhound appeared nearly as soon as he hung up. He pointed. "Food." The hellhound growled in pleasure and dug in. "Keeps him out of the freezer later," he said dryly. "He eats almost as much as the girls do." The sheriff walked off laughing, going outside. Tony stayed to make sure the dog didn't hurt anything and got himself a beer for later too. No one here would be needing it.
The girls practicing with John saw the guys getting out of the Impala wearing blankets and stared, mouths open. "What happened?" John yelled.
"Don't ask, sir. Thanks for running classes today. Tell Danny Xander's having a day off too!" Sam called back, waving a hand.
"I am?" Xander asked.
"You are," Dean agreed. "Go shower and sleep, Xander."
He shrugged and went to do that. Dean showered and changed then went to do laundry. He was being a nice big brother. His father came in a few hours later, while he was folding. "Strip club full of demons, Dad. Thanks. Needed that stress relief."
John walked off groaning. Between Sammy and Xander's luck, it was bound to happen.
A few hours later Sam walked up to Xander in the caf, nudging him and handing something over. "Dean mixed up the laundry. Those are yours."
He looked then put them in his pocket. "I'll bring yours down later."
"Thanks." He got his dinner and sat down to eat. The girls all stared at him. "Bad scene."
"Uh-huh," Faith said, nodding. "We're sure about that?" Xander nodded. "Want to get more specific, X? Or you Sammy?"
"Only Dean gets away with that," he said with a smile.
She snorted. "You'd be surprised what I get away with, Sammich. Now, what happened and why the panty exchange?" A few girls giggled at that.
Xander looked at her. "They took me to the local strip club." She gaped. "Full of demons."
She shuddered. "'Nuff said with your luck and what I've heard about his." Sam laughed but nodded. She heard the younger girls hissing about the panty exchange and how it must've been more than a laundry mix up. After all they had come in and napped. They had been naked earlier by the rumors. So maybe lusting after Sam was safe again. "Still gotta ask his brother if he can date you, ladies," she quipped. Sam groaned at that announcement.
"Why? Is he sleeping with him too?" one girl asked. Buffy moaned and put her head down since she was blushing.
"No, Dean and I haven't shared a bed since I was fourteen," Sam assured her. "It was a motel room and only a double so Dad got the other one. You can ask him, he was there. Ask Dad all that stuff you want," he encouraged. They all grinned and went to get John to ask him the questions they hadn't wanted to ask Abby. Though John did ground the one girl that asked if Sammy and Dean had broken up back then when he was fourteen.
"Your dad's going to kill you," Xander pointed out.
"He made Dean give me my talk. He can learn how to do it in case Dean slips up and there's grandkids some year."
Xander cackled. "Thanks, Sam. I needed my evil fix for the day." They shared a smirk and finished dinner so they could hide from John. Payback was going to be horrible this time.
Two hours later John found Danny and Tony out for a walk. "Liquor store is where?"
"Just past the mall," Tony told him. He grinned. "If I had known earlier, I would've brought some back from the strip club."
"That's bad," Danny complained.
"They didn't need it after the mess the boys created."
Danny shook his head. "And here I thought missing being shot at by natives was strange." He kept going. "I've got a flask in my desk from Jack, John. Go ahead and grab it."
"Thank you, Danny. Can someone please help me point out my boys aren't together?"
"They're not?" Tony asked. "Dean acts like it."
"He's highly protective of his little brother."
"Uh-huh." He smirked and walked off again. That was too cute. John went to get drunk and they laughed once he was out of hearing range. Abby would like that story so he went to tell her later on, making her giggle and nearly fall over while she found pictures from earlier of their homecoming. She'd get to tease the boys for a good, long while over those.
Xander looked at Giles when he caught him outside enjoying the night a few hours after dark. "And you thought I'd screw it up," he taunted.
"Yes, well, I suppose I was incredibly wrong. The girls are doing excellently in their training. They're mostly well adjusted, even if a few do have perverted minds, and they're happy. Even the few who can't handle combat stress or patrol stress." He looked at the young boy. "Do not get smug."
"Why would I? You guys make sure I never got that joy." He walked off happier. It was official, he had done good. He was happy enough with that. It didn't get any better from Giles in the praise department unless you were Buffy.
"I don't care if Mom said you could date. I'm meeting them all before the date and we're doing background checks somehow. I'm sure Xander can by now," Buffy's voice floated out of Dawn's window. "And no more slutty clothes."
"I got that tan skirt off you."
"Um...." Buffy's voice went silent and Dawn laughed.
Xander smirked. "Yup, things are pretty much back to normal. For now."
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