Demon Criminal Investigative Services:  Captain Improbable.

Xander decided he was bored so he was going to straighten up his apartment.  Not like he had a hot date or anything.  He grimaced to himself, going to finish up his few dishes from midnight snacking during research of what was coming.   That demon in the portal problem was going to annoy him to no end if he didn't find more on it.  He decided to start the straightening in his closets.

Anya's trunks got heaved out so he could pull out the stuff behind them.  Then they got pushed into the back since the girls apparently weren't going to steal any more of them on her.  The shoes that had been hiding behind them got put in front and the pair of dress pants that had fallen got hung back up.  He'd worry about the wrinkles some other time.  Not like he was a guy who ironed.  That was Horatio, Don, and Mac.  He found a smaller box and opened it, smiling at the necklace inside.  It had been Anya's but she had apparently left it with him.

He put it into his jewelry box on top of his dresser.  The ring he had once given her was in there too.  He closed it after a long stare, then went back to his other closet.  The hall closet.  He saw the boxes in front of Halfrek's stuff and sighed, repeating the same process, pulling them out, pulling the stuff behind them out to be restacked.  He decided he was curious though and sat down to look through the boxes.  Anya wouldn't mind.  She knew he was nosy, the same as she was.

He found a few things and wondered at them.  "Hmm, alien sex toys?" he guessed, looking at one.  "Or weapon?"  Sometimes it was so hard to tell.  He put them aside, he'd embarrass House and John Sheppard by asking them.  He repacked the first box so it was neater and more compact - clearly Anya had packed since things were just thrown in there.  That box got pushed aside.  The next box had neater things.  Some books.  He looked up.

"Hey, Anya?  If I find something useable in Hallie's stuff can I bum it for a bit?" he called.  His phone rang with a text message.  //Make sure it doesn't get lost.  She had some ancient sextoys in one box I wanted to keep.//  "Okay," he agreed.  "Guess that answers that question about them."  Of course, in that same box was a few ivory dildos.  "Or maybe not."

He dug further into the box, coming up with a keyring that was making the old injury on his arm ache.  "Magic," he said, bouncing them in his hand a few times.  He put those aside with the books and the weapons/sex toys.  Underneath that was a few old outfits.  One looked like Willow's ritual robe so he carefully refolded them and put that back.  The third box had another few things that were interesting.  He put those into the second box and put them back into the closet.

The locket he found was magically protected.  It seemed to not want you to look at it.  He looked inside, seeing a miniature portrait of two children.  He smiled and put that back.  "Clearly someone she helped," he said respectfully.  He moved on to look at the others.  The books were nicely in various languages he didn't read.  But two were on demons, he could tell that much from the title page's pictures.  He put those aside so Daniel could scan them into the system and translate them.  He'd enjoy that.  That left the sextoy/weapons, a small silver box, a small black box, and that ring of keys.

He opened the black box, finding a small sucking spot inside it.  "What the hell?" he muttered, testing it with scrap bit of paper.  It got sucked in and disappeared.  "That's going to McKay," he decided.  "Just so he can drive himself nuts."  He moved onto the silver box.  It had a single gold, thick, long key.  He pulled it out and suddenly a keyhole appeared in front of him.  Gold plate, keyhole like for the skeleton key in his hand, matching scrollwork on the finger end of the key.  Xander carefully stuck it in there and opened it, gasping at the room *full* of books.

"Oh, my god," he whispered.  He closed it.  That was being taken to the library with the books.  The other keys he held up to midair but only one found a keyhole and that one was seriously warped.  He didn't want to know why Hallie had things like that in that room.  He really didn't.  He closed it and stood up, grabbing the books and the first set of keys, tucking the others into his pocket.  He jogged out and over to the library.  It was still early, Daniel would be in there or playing with O'Neill.  Yup, he was reading.  "Look at this," he said, pulling them to an out-of-the-way wall to do the key thing.  Nothing came up.  He huffed.  "This worked in my place."

"The library is shielded from magic," Thomas realized.  "Try the classroom, Xander."  He walked in there and the keyhole appeared.  Daniel gasped.  "I believe I know what this is.  Do not damage that key, young man."  Xander opened it and let him look at the books.  "Oh, dear, sweet lord, this is what I was hoping it was," he said in awe.  "Shield that key so it cannot be harmed."

Daniel left and came back with some styrofoam from something in the lab, putting it carefully around the key's end and taping it there.  "Where did you find this?" he asked Xander.

"In Halfrek's stuff," he said with a smile.  He held up the other ones.   "These too."

Thomas snatched them.   "A codex!" he said, clearly getting to the point of happy overload. "Oh, and three identification manuals!"  He gave Xander a quick, back-slapping hug and went to see if they were supposed to be in there.

Daniel patted Xander on the back.  "Thank you, I was bored," he said with a smile.

"So was I, that's why I was cleaning."  Daniel laughed.  "I even found something to rot McKay's mind more than the demon porn Abby was looking at."  Daniel gave him an odd look.  "I found a little sucking portal in a little black box."

"Get that to him before it eats someone," Daniel ordered.  "Any other revelations?"  Xander dug out the ring of keys.  He tried it with those.  Another key opened up in there but it went to a room of mementos.  He closed it and the room that he didn't want to think about.  The others probably went to trunks by their looks.  "If we find those trunks...."

"Anya might know."

"I'll see if she'll talk to me," Daniel said, tucking them into his pants pocket.  "Thank you, Xander.  Get that box to McKay."

"Yes, Daniel."  He jogged back to get it and brought it to Abby's apartment, knocking politely.  He walked in around her when she opened the door.  He squatted in front of McKay, opening the box and putting his hand over it, grinning at him.  "I found it in Halfrek's stuff.  Danny said you can drive yourself nuts but Anya said it has to stay pristine."

McKay moved his hand away from the sucking.  "That's not a wormhole."

"No, it's clearly not," Xander said, letting him take it.  "Don't break it."

"I won't."  He smiled.  "Anything else good come from it?"

"Another box had a key that opened into a library of some sort.  Danny and Thomas may not be seen for days."

Rodney snickered.  "Quite possibly.  I'll make sure we don't hurt this, Xander.  Thank you."

"Welcome."  He gave Abby a quick hug then walked off.  He went to get the other things, hearing House and John Sheppard in the cafeteria talking with others.  He walked them in and put them on the table they were sharing.  "Any ideas?  They were in Halfrek's stuff instead of Anya's."

House looked at them.  "If they're sextoys, someone was in pain."

John picked up one delicately to look at.  "I think this one was a weapon but I'm not sure.  It's sharp.  If they used it for sex, it was in a dungeon."

"I think that's what the other key went to.  It had a lot of things I had no idea how to identify, an iron maiden, and a few other things like racks and a lot of leather hanging everywhere.  But the good key went to a new library room."  Sam Winchester rushed out to go see that.  He grinned at them.  "So we're thinking weapons?"

"I'm thinking a weapon, yeah," he admitted, putting it down again.  The others got looked over.  They looked like weapons...mostly.  A few had handles that could have subbed as dildos.   "Maybe early dominatrix gear?" he decided, letting House have the other stuff.

"Could be," he admitted.  He held up one thing, it was a rod with sharpened spines up it.  "This would definitely cause injury."

Xander nodded.  "I wasn't too sure about hat bottom one," Xander admitted.  "That one I was pretty sure was a weapon.  I read something about it in Aztec or Mayan rituals or something like that.  Oh, I gave McKay a puzzle too," he told John.

"Wonderful.  Will we see him and Abby or him and Radek again?"

"It's a small box with a portal of some sort that's actively sucking.  It's about the same size as a small jewelry box."

John moaned, shaking his head.  "I'll make sure Abby knows to keep them eating now and then."  That last one got picked up and they all blushed.  It had some very graphic drawings on the main portion.  It was kind of built like a long bow in the front but the back was square instead of tapered and it had two dildo looking prongs on the 'wire' portion.  He shrugged.  "I'm guessing but I have no clue.  House?"

"People used to be shorter," he admitted. He considered it.  "A do it yourself one?  Pull on the handle to make it shift?"

"Maybe," John admitted.  He handed them back to Xander.  "Thanks for sharing," he said with a smirk.

Xander grinned back.  "You needed to blush.  It's supposed to be good for the skin."  He jogged out before either of them could try to grab him for that stunt.

John looked at House.  "Did I need the blushing that badly?"

"You could use some moisturizer," Calleigh said, trying to calm her own blush.  "Sorry."  She fled to have a personal moment.

Stella chewed the bite of dinner that had nearly been hanging out of her mouth since Xander had put those on the table, swallowing fairly quickly.  "Well, it's good he's not bored and won't go find a new case."

"He doesn't do library or lab work," House reminded her.  He looked at the poor colonel.  "Back when Anya's stuff first appeared, Dawn came in with some alien looking dildo to ask me what it did during dinner in front of everyone.  Now I know where she got it from."

"Clearly," John agreed dryly.  He stuffed his mouth, shaking his head a bit.


Rodney was studying the portal under a magnifying glass.  It was fascinating.  Radek took it from him.  "Hey!"  He snatched it back.  "When did you get here?"

"When Abby called so you'd go to bed," he said, taking it back.  "My turn.  Go please your wife while I take this to the lab to set up proper monitoring and controls."

Rodney shuddered at that reminder of his mistake on Doranda.  "She..."  Radek waved it off as he walked off.  Rodney went in there.  "He's right, we need good control parameters on that."  He took a kiss.

She stared at him.  "You look sad.  Why?"

"A very bad mistake he just reminded me of," he admitted.  He sat on the bed, letting her curl against his side.  "Abby, you know that the Zed PM making project has been a pressured goal for my team," he said quietly.  She nodded.  "Well, in that, there's been two great mistakes."  He sighed, looking down at her.  "And I feel you'll hate me for them."

She looked up at him.  "Did you commit genocide?"

"I don't remember people being on that planet," he admitted.  She gaped.  "I was trying to recreate something that was working until the computer lost control of the stream.  We nearly had a fully working new Zed PM at hand," he said quietly, stroking over her hair.  "I thought, in my childish stupidity and arrogance, that I could control it better than the computer did."

She sat up on her knees, staring at him.  "Someone got hurt?"

"Someone died the first experiment when the computer couldn't control it."  He looked at his hands then at her.  "The second a solar system mostly did.  Uninhabited but I still ...  I have no excuse.  Radek had every right to remind me of that."

She stared.  "So you goofed so badly that you destroyed a solar system?"

He swallowed.  "Which is why I fear you'll hate me."

"Rodney, was it an accident?"

He nodded.  "My hubris got out of hand.  I thought I could recreate what Ancients were doing without fully having their notes."  He gave her the most horrified, soul wrenching stare.  "I had no intention of it," he said quietly.  "Mine wasn't on purpose."

"You talk like there's been others."

He snorted.  "For that you should talk to Sam Carter.  Hers was a matter of survival and war."  He pulled her closer but she pulled back after a moment.  "I knew I should have told you sooner.  That way you could be ashamed of me without having to go through legal proceedings to be rid of me."

She sighed, pulling him to her.  "I need to think and process, Rodney.  I'm not divorcing you.  You didn't hurt anyone on purpose.  It's not like you were willingly committing genocide."  He shuddered.  "They put too much pressure on you over those things."  She let him go.  "Go make sure this one won't turn out that way.  Let me process.  We'll talk after breakfast."  She gave him a kiss on the cheek, watching as he nearly crumbled.  "Hey!  I said I'm not throwing you over."  She made him look at her.  She still had to process it.  "The man I married would never do anything like that *on purpose*.  I know you didn't mean to."  He relaxed some.  "Yes you should have told me sooner so I had more time to process than tonight, but that's okay.  We'll work through it together and it will not happen again."

"No, it won't."

"Good."  She gave him a small smile.  "Kiss me and make sure it can't happen again, Rod."  He gave her a desperate kiss.  She gave him the hug he needed then he went to make sure no mistakes were made this time.  She laid back down, considering that information.  Sometimes horrific accidents happened in science to create greater new things.  Sometimes it happened to prove to them that they weren't God.  Or in Rodney's case an Ancient.  She didn't like the act of war explanation for the other one.  She got up and threw on a better t-shirt over her jammie shorts, heading for O'Neill's apartment.  Conveniently in the building next door.  She knocked until he let her in.  "Tell me about that accident he had."

"He told you?"  He shut the door behind her.

"Just now.  Radek reminded him of it when he took the little portal box Xander found from him.  It looked like it destroyed him."

He nodded.  "It nearly did."

"And the other one he mentioned?"

"That.... was an act of war, Abby."  He led her to the couch so he could tell her.  She was McKay's wife, she was the head of the R&D department, she could find out by going into the computers if she wanted.  He also realized it had been that accident that had changed McKay enough for him to accept her into his life, thereby changing him more.  A catalyst of sorts.  So he told her about Doranda and the prior accident.


Abby walked into her lab the next morning, finding Rodney still staring at the box but Radek was crashed in a chair in the corner against a table.  He didn't move when he heard her come in.  She touched his arm, not getting any response.  "We should talk," she said quietly.

"I'm not used to talking," he said, looking at her.  Looking extremely tired.

"Well, I'm a sharer so you'd better learn, mister."  She walked him into the office once she made sure the containment system around it was secure.  She sat him in her desk chair then sat in front of him on her desk.  "I went to General Jack to ask what had happened."  He moaned.  "He told me about the pressure that you got and the other one.  All of you really."  He looked at her.  "He told me what happened, why, and how."  She licked her lips.

"I can't say as I'm proud of you for it, Rodney, but he did have a point in there.  That it changed you.  Combat did it too but that more than anything turned you from being the 'exalted' one to being Rod.  My Rod."  He slumped, staring at her.  "Now, I will say it had better never happen again.  Because I will kill you."  He nodded slowly, still staring, looking a bit confused.  "We've all made mistakes," she pointed out more gently.  "If I make a mistake in the lab, someone goes free or someone innocent goes to be tortured in jail.  In my hands rests life and death for some people.  You play with higher things, higher science.  In your hands rests the foundations of the universe."

"I realize that."

"Good!"  She gave him a hug then pulled back, giving him a sad smile.  "It did change you."

"It had to.  I knew...  I knew I couldn't replicate it, I couldn't redo it, that we've lost so much."

She gave him another hug.  "Shh.  It was an *accident*.  If it had been on purpose, I'd have already filed for divorce."  She pulled back to stare at him.  "Do you understand the difference?"

"Of course I do," he said, starting to get angry.

"Not the physical difference, Rod, the difference inside you.  The difference between 'it had to happen so we can go forward and learn how to do all that we lost' and 'I was trying my best and it wasn't good enough'."

He slumped, looking at her.  "It took that for me to see it," he admitted quietly.

"That's a harsh wakeup, but one you see in military guys a lot."  She sighed.  "I'm not mad.  I can't be mad about something that's not going on right now.  I'm disappointed that you were so ego driven at that point that you thought you could out-think a computer."  He groaned, rubbing his face with his hands.  "But I'm not mad.  I realize that we all have pasts that aren't really pretty to others.

"I've had accidents, nothing that serious or that's killed anyone, but I have made mistakes.  You, playing with such high energy things, your mistakes come out bigger than 'ooh, I was drunk and hit a light pole, nearly screwing up my legs for life'."  He stared at her.  "I was fifteen."  He gave her a hug.  She stroked over his hair.  "I want your promise, soul deep vow, Rod, that it will not happen again if you can possibly prevent it."

"You have it.  I've tried so hard to make sure that everything else would never cause a problem like that," he said against her stomach.

She stroked over his ear then went back to stroking his hair.  "I know you have.  Which is why I'm not dumping you."  He looked up at her.  "I can forgive you for it but you've still got to forgive yourself.  Because you can't forget it and you can't beat yourself up over it or we lose you to your fears.  Jack had a point there too.  They put pressure on you because you're brilliant.  Brilliant enough to solve world-wide and universal problems."

"Of course I am," he agreed weakly.  He was in awe.  She had...hadn't made it into an issue.  She had said she forgave him for it.

"We'll work together with Radek to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again.  Especially not among *my* people.  Got me here, second-in-command?"

He smiled.  "I can definitely be your second-in-command," he promised.  She kissed him.  He pulled her into his lap to hold her, just holding on for now.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome."  She pulled back.  "If you had told me sooner, I would've had the same reaction, Rod.  Really.  Not all of everyone are judgmental asses."  He gave her a weak smile.  "Most of those you dealt with had no idea the sort of pressure you're under to solve it because you're about the only one smart enough to do it."

"I realize now others might."

"Good!  Then let your mistake be a teaching point."

He nodded.  "I can definitely do that."

"Talk to Larry.  He's got some of the brainiest geeks out at Cal Sci.  He might even have a way around that problem between him and Charlie."

"It's classified."

She gave him a dirty look.  "Mister, I say what's classified and ZPM energy isn't.  Besides, they're on the staff as consultants."  She took a kiss.  "Though, Carter's little shit hole idea?  I don't like it.  I especially don't like that she didn't speak one word in defense of you."

He shrugged.  "She was involved in the military side, not the science side.  It was necessary at that time to save us all."

"And what happens if the explosion created ripples that went beyond that solar system?" she asked.  "Yours didn't."  He shook his head.  "You made sure?"  He nodded quickly.  "Did she?"

"No, but she went to drink herself into a stupor that night to make her mind defend itself for a while.  She had to."

"That's an option of desperation ad I don't like it.  It had better not happen again unless absolutely fucking necessary, Rod."

"It shouldn't have to," he agreed.  "She didn't have a choice."  She slumped but let him hold her.  "War is harsher than any other mistress.  It's a tragedy when people who have pure souls like yours get dirtied by the taint of it," he said quietly.  He gave her the cuddle they both needed.  "Why chew on me for that one?" he asked.

She looked up at him.  "If you can't go up and Carter gets moved off, who do you think is taking over on the base?" she asked.

"Someone you choose...."  He trailed off.  "Really?"  She smirked.  "Well, I suppose that would be brilliant for my career but it means I'd be in Colorado most of the time.  Plus we'd have a mutiny.  They don't really like me there."

"They only know the old you, Rod.  They haven't gotten to see this better, more comfortable, geeky you."

"I was just as big of a geek," he complained but he was smiling.

"Before you would've complained if I made you watch cartoons with me, not argued about which character was better."

"Perhaps.  You have taught me so much about how to live.  Before, existing was enough, now life is like the big bright sun that warms me when you're near."

She blushed.  "You don't have to get mushy, Rod."

"Sometimes a man feels like being mushy when the woman he loves is so astounding and soul repairing."  He took another kiss then put her back onto the desk, standing up.  "We think we've figured out what the portal is.  We think it's a spot of void."

"Really?  That's interesting."

"With what GD has, it means I can make a new Zed PM, safely.  With almost no risk."

"I'll be right there beside you," she said, taking his hand to hold.  He relaxed and nodded.  "Let's call Stark to let him know?"

"I can do that."  He walked her out to make the call for transport and then called Stark to let them know they were on the way.


Buffy walked up to Xander, poking him until he looked up from his casefile.  "I'm having a flashback to tenth grade."

He leaned back, staring at her.  "Why?"

"Remember how we got the codex thingy right before we found out I had to die to kill the Master?"

"Yeah," he said slowly.

"That Angel just happened to have waiting around for the right moment?"

He nodded slowly.  "I remember," he admitted.

"And now you just happen to find a key to a library room?"

"It was in Hallie's stuff that Anya had me store in the closet."

"Why did you go through it last night?"

"Because I was so bored I was cleaning the closets and got nosy?" he guessed.  "What's with the point, Buffster?"

"Xander, are you maybe feeling a bit...railroaded by a higher source?"

"No.  Should I be?"

"Yeah.  You just happen to win that D&D game?  After how many hundreds have failed?"

"I was a geek.  Probably the first one that went in.  All the others went in for the prize."

"No, I checked.  A few other geeks went but they went in with 'cool, this is great VR', whatever that is."

"Virtual reality, like being inside the game itself.  Like the movie _Tron_."

"Explains that," she said dryly.  "They couldn't get that far."

"Most geeks go in as the characters they play.  I went in to play, to have fun and relieve some stress."

"Uh-huh.  And no others did that why?"

"A demon casino wouldn't advertise on gaming boards.  Otherwise some of Fargo's coworkers probably would've won."

"You just happened to win a place in the Pegasus galaxy, where it could help the other military guys on base?" she asked.

"I didn't decide where it was."

"True.  But it's a bit coincidental, right?"

He shrugged.  "We all know that probabilities happen oddly around me, Buffy.  All of us really.  How many times have the odds been screwed with among the Scoobies?"

"Which was usually your fault," she reminded him.

"Okay, point," he agreed.  "Most of them were.  A few were Willow though."

"True.  Because only Sunnydale would have a temple to a goddess that could destroy the world in easy access for any witch with enough energy to pull it up.  Or an armory that was so pitifully guarded that two high school kids looking like they were going to make out could sneak into it."

He grinned.  "I had a cover story."

"I don't want to hear it."  She looked at him.  "You're becoming coincidence man, Xander."  He shook his head.  She nodded.  "The demon casino is even betting on it.  There's a huge board betting on when you pull up something that will fight off the spring's apocalypse.  Last time we had the artillery and all the extra yous."

"That was Calleigh's wish."

"Of more yous.  Not more slayers.  Not more Sam and Dean's.  You."  He shrugged, looking clueless.  "Because you taught them how to handle it in a field.   More Deans could've been helpful.  More Sams if he had gotten his powers to work then."  He slumped again.  "Faith and I were talking last night when Dean butted in and realized that it was all coincidences around you.  We're not sure why you."

He considered it.  "So maybe I'm being railroaded more subtly by someone other than the PTB?"

"We think so.  We're not sure why though.  Which is why we're talking."

"It's always helped you guys," he reminded her.

"I know that but I'm wondering about a few things.  Like the thing with Angelus?  You chose to not tell me."

He nodded.  "Because you couldn't fight him, Buffy.  You were emotional and torn up about him.  About what he had done to Jenny, to Giles, scaring Willow, stalking you, all that.  If I had told you, there was a good chance we would've lost you and everyone would've went to hell with him.  Did you want me to take that risk looking back at how tired you were then?  Especially with the threat from your mom that night?"

She looked back then nodded.  "True, I probably would've given him one too many chances, like I had before.  Is that why you really did it instead of just hating him?"

"I don't particularly like Angel, even to this day," he admitted.  "He and I will always have differences, including that I don't think his soul is what's stopping the psycho urges."  She glared.  "Think, Buffy.  How many souls are in prisons?" he asked quietly.  "For murder or even multiple murders?  It gave him a stopgap to stop and think and make a decision and I'm not so sure that he won't decide some day that Angelus had a point and it's necessary to protect humanity to go back there.  I'm easier about it because I know if he slips that way and decides it's that necessary Gunn, Connor, Fred, hell even Wes or the great loudmouth speaker for the Powers will step in and stop him if it has to happen."

"He wasn't there then."

"Cordy told him.  He admitted that to me when I admitted I was having a nightmare about him coming back."

She nodded slowly, sucking on her bottom lip for a minute.  "So you think he will?"

"I think a situation will call for him going psycho.  If we hadn't had all the slayers for the invasion I think that might've done it," he admitted.   "I knew even if there was the smallest chance that Willow could do that spell, which I don't think she should have been able to do in her condition, that he wouldn't have been mad for having stopped Angelus."

"No, I can see that," she admitted.  "You don't think her being able to cast that spell was a good thing?"

"Right out of a coma?  The only other heavy thing she had done was close the hellmouth and float pencils, Buffy.  What she did was basically like what she did to you when she resurrected you.  She pulled a soul and stuck it in a dead body.  Even if he was walking he was still technically walking dead."

She nodded.  "I never thought about that.  Do you think that had to do with her later problems?"

"I think, honestly think, that's about when she started to see that magic could cure anything and that people with power were respected but she never got that respect had to be earned and kept by being responsible with that power or you become a despot.  I think she saw a little bit of that with Amy's thing about manipulating others before she turned into a rat, but she looked at it more as 'I won't make her mistakes' sort instead of 'this is a clear warning of what happens when I play with the big dogs'."

"Then she went looking for more power because it made her feel more in control, less shy, all that," she sighed.  He nodded.  "How long have you been thinking about that?"

"Since Spenser asked me what I thought about her power and that got blurted out.  He thinks I might be right."

She nodded.  "I guess that makes sense but off the original point."

"I'm still thinking about that.  It clearly isn't the PTB.  I haven't seen Whistler.   Or Cordelia for work matters.  I haven't gotten the shitty surrounding life like most of their champions; I don't really have to atone for anything.  I'm not like Connor is because that's pretty obvious.  Mine's some training and practice, his is genetic.  The same as mine's not as good as Dean's is because he got more training than I did and less hands-on, desperation-learn-as-you-go training.  If there is something or someone higher guiding me, then they've been very subtle for years.  Right from the moment I tripped over you your first day."

She gave him a slight grin. "That was probably the best bruise I've ever had."

Xander put a hand on her arm.  "It's not just me, Buffy."

"What do you mean?"

"Dawn.  Clearly not the chosen one Connor is or any other sort of champion but how many times have we remarked that Dawn stumbled into something important?"

"A lot," she admitted.  "After she got over the whole grief thing."

"Which was a desperate plea for attention.  Something that Willow would've done.  She's got the same power levels that Willow could have had, or me if I had magic instead of hellmouth taint, and my instincts for finding the right thing in the books."

"So maybe whatever is subtly pushing you guys will make an appearance later on?  What if it's intended to make us fail, Xander?"

"Buffy, there's always a choice.  The same as Angel hasn't decided to go psycho, I don't think I have a point where I need it yet."  She stared at him.  "I doubt I'll ever have to turn to the dark to save the light.  I'm not going to turn into Deadboy Lite.  I'd stake myself first."

"So the magic library finding?"

"I got bored and decided to clean.  I know that's an apocalypse in waiting," he said dryly, cracking her up.  "I thought about doing it last week and didn't."

"Huh.  So maybe it's just a hellmouth thing?"

"It could be.  I seem to be the biggest carrier of hellmouth taint.  Phoebe told me that once."

"I think I should talk to them, see if they can maybe find out who's been doing the coinky-dink thing so often."

"Go for it.  Dawn has class until two."

"Thanks, Xander."  She stood up.  "And yeah, it was the right decision, even if it hurt really a lot then."  She walked off, feeling better.  That had been an old hurt.  Now, it didn't hurt quite as much because she realized he had a point to it.

Xander considered it then went to talk to Wesley.  He knew magic.  Wesley looked up from his desk.  "Buffy and Faith thinks that I've got my own version of PTB on my buttcheeks," he said quietly.

"I've often wondered at the way coincidences and improbabilities happen around you, Xander.  Do we think this is a bad thing?"

"Last night I got bored and cleaned."

"Oh, dear lord, the base will die," he said dryly with a smirk.

"And found a special magical key that opened up a library room."

Wesley gave him the oddest look.  "They're myths."

"The key was in Halfrek's stuff."

"Oh, I see."

"And Buffy correlated the whole D&D game thingy with it too.  Said it was pretty coincidental that I happened to win one that was just in about the right spot to help Sheppard's boys."

Wesley blinked a few times while he thought.  "That does seem odd in hindsight," he agreed.  "Completely strange."  He looked at him.  "Any other incidences?"

"They think it's been going on since way back when.  I think if there is, he's got a backup to whatever plan he has in Dawn."

"I've noticed some of those same traits in her," he agreed.  "Hmm."  He stood up.  "Let me do something?"

"I was hoping someone might be able to figure out who was guiding or pushing.  Because if they're the reason I've been so frantic to get my hands on high powered weapons, I'll go find some more.  I can't make more right now."

Wesley nodded.  "That may be a reason.  I think I might be able to look at your aura.  I'm not sure however.  The hellmouth taint might cover something up."

"Unless that's why I'm so tainted.  There's other hellmouth babies but they have less taint."

"Yes but the way you were born in close proximity and all that."

"But.... there's probably been others."

"Xander, they were probably killed for the powers inside them," he reminded him.  Xander slumped and nodded.  "I dare say the Mayor probably had something to do with some of them dying as well.  Hellmouth babies are wonderful sacrificial materials.  The inherent power in their blood, indeed every cell, would give you quite a jolt toward your goal."

"Then why didn't Willow pick up nearly as much?  With her magic sucking in to help aid her?"

Wesley shrugged.  "I don't know."  He went to get some things out of Dawn's working closet then came back to sit Xander down in the slayers' common area.  It was in the open and quiet at the moment.

"Please tell me we're not doing ritual magic?" John Winchester complained, coming out of Dean's office.

"Trying to see if there's a reason I'm a probability warper," Xander told him.

"You and Sammy both."

"Which blows the hellmouth taint idea," Xander pointed out to Wesley.

"John, get him so I can see if his was the taint of that demon or something else please?"  John went to do that. "If so it's been helpful so far."

"The girls were worried about being pushed from a higher peak."

"No, I doubt you could."

"Me too."

He nodded.  "Which wouldn't make any sense."

"Yeah but it was Buffy and Faith thinking about it and Dean realizing it."

"Still, it doesn't make any sense for it to be a harmful force to the slayers."  Sam came in and flopped down, taking off his t-shirt.  "You don't have to strip," Wesley told him.

"Yes I do.  I have three protection runes you'll have to negate," he said with a point at a little silver tattoo on his side, near his armpit.  "I got it after we destroyed the bastard so it couldn't happen again."

"Interesting."  Wesley cast the circle and got to work calling up their auras to look over.  There were many similarities.   He texted the trio of witches that Dawn had learned under, bringing Paige.  She was a white lighter, she could see more details than he could.

She appeared behind them, staring.  "Hmm."  She walked around them, looking it over.  "I'm not seeing any blessing or promissory marks.  I'm not seeing anything binding like they pledged or were pledged to someone.   Why is this a worry?"

"I seem to be coincidence man," Xander told him.

"I've noticed that.  We all wondered if that's where Dawn got it from."  He grinned.  "Sam, I see some more ...demon taint marks in yours but with that one demon that doesn't really surprise me.  Xander, who tried to offer you to someone?"

"Is this on the level of Angel offering me to Spike as a ruse?"

"Could be," she admitted.  She came closer, looking it over.  "I can see the bond's still there between you guys."  Sam groaned but nodded.  "It's probably not going to break all that well, guys.  Sorry.  Been too long.  Xander's to Dean and Abby too."  She touched something above Xander's head, nodding.  "He wasn't vowed to anyone that I can see, Wesley.  Maybe it's a natural thing?"

"Buffy and Faith think that something's been pushing the coincidences," Wesley told her.  "Like they have the Powers That Be and you have the Elders Council."

"Everyone's got a higher power," she admitted.

"Yeah, but Superman isn't my deity," Sam said dryly, looking at Xander.

"The way he's written does basically point to him as a deity."

"It does," Paige agreed to break up the good natured argument.  She did something to the spell, making it change the colors of their auras.  Ah, now she saw something.  "Yeah, there's a higher power but it's making you make choices.  So it's your own free will, it's just pointing at choices to make."  She checked Sam.  There it was.  "And it's a...  slightly good tainted it looks like."  She looked at Wesley.  "If I knew who it was I'd tell you but it doesn't look malevolent.  It almost looks...amused I want to say.  It's a darker color but it doesn't look evil or bad in any way."

Xander looked at her.  "Way back when we were told about the former Archangel Varcher, who had his own side and now wanted an army to get back at the other two sides."

She looked.  "This is a higher power but not that sort from what Dawn complained about it.  Same feeling, not on either good or evil but making you decide.  Like the writers of those books that have the 'pick a decision and go to page' things at the bottom?  The kids are loving those."  She smiled.  "It's your author for the 'pick a page' part."

"But fully not harmful, right?" Sam asked.

"No and it's mottled some of the demon's taint on you, Sam.  So has the bond.  It used to be much brighter when we first met you."

"Before the demon died?"

"Even after the demon died we could feel it was different.  It was easing way back when.  Probably when the bond started because it let some of it spread to Xander, which is why he got the visions from him all the time I'm guessing.  He set himself up as the guard shack for you guys.  The base, slayers, and the hunters here."  She smiled at him.  Xander grinned back at her.  "Probably not the best for him but that other marking doesn't seem to mind it.  I see a few other dark spots.  Probably bad decisions according to whatever it thinks."

"Or maybe when Willow hit me with all that magic?" Xander asked.

"Could be one of them.  One's earlier."

"I had to lie to Buffy because I didn't think she could handle the hunt she had to do to save everyone."  She looked at him.  "It was Angelus."

"That stuff, yeah, this is a bit later than that in your lifeline.  So maybe you went a bit too rowdy on the Initiative boys or something."

"Or it didn't like me making car fixing money on my roadtrip?"

"Could be," she agreed.  "Some higher powers are a bit prudish."   She grinned.  "It's not harmful.  And yes, I have seen the same thing in Dawn's.   We had no idea why."

"Probably from him?" Sam guessed.

"Or when she was created it decided she was a good backup plan," Xander told him.  "Which is what I thought, because there's some days she's like a mini me."

Paige nodded quickly.  "Yes there are."  She grinned.  "Not evil taint.  Maybe a gentle nudge to point out that there's an option for a choice."  She patted Wesley on the head.  "It's a good question."

"The demon in the portal was supposed to be on the same side as Varcher," Wesley said.

"I have heard nothing about that," she admitted.  "I can ask Dawn, see her research."

"I found a library room key last night," Xander told her.

"Oooh, probability flux," she said dryly.

"It seemed to happen around Sunnydale.  Angel just happened to have the codex about the defeat of the Master and told Giles about it a few days before then.  A lot of times things seemed to fall into place at the last moment."

Buffy peeked around a corner.  "So is it a bad thing guiding and pushing him?"

"No, it's not.  It's making him make choices like those kids' books where you pick a pathway."

"I remember those."  She came in.  "Sam too?"  Paige nodded.  "So, Dawn?"

"Probably," Wesley agreed.  "Since it looks neutral, it may end up leading back to...  Paige, could you check Fargo?"

"Probably pretty easily.  Why?"

"The demon in that portal sent his last gift from another galaxy at his feet and a lot of things where he lived," Xander told her.  "I'm starting to wonder about the things he dropped, if there's a reason he chose *those* things as a possible key."

"He was right there, shockingly enough, when Dawn got into trouble too, looking for her, and happened to hear a party up the street that she was at," Sam realized.

"That sounds like the same sort of probability flux," she agreed.  "Huh."  She walked off to check on this Fargo guy then hit the library to see if anything about this strange new demon was a problem they'd be called in about.

Xander looked at the senior slayers.  "They say it's not a bad thing.  So far it's seemed pretty decent."

"She said it's like a neutral party," Wesley told them.  "So no need to worry, a current mystery but not a problem."  He ended the spells, getting up and helping them stand.

"So it's like the Powers, only whatever is giving them more control, probably to see what they're going to do with it, and then making them decide if they're going to join a side?" Faith asked.

"It does sound like it," he agreed.  "The Powers tend to do more direct things."

"To screw up our lives," Buffy snorted.  "Yours is at least nicer, Xander."

"The only real question is if Abby's bond to us can be harmed by Rodney's bonding to her," Xander realized.  He looked at Sam, who groaned.  "You?"

"Yeah, I'll talk to her about that."  John came back in.  "The bond's too entrenched to ever go but whatever power is pointing out decisions to us, Dawn, and possibly Fargo, isn't evil.  It's more neutral, Dad."

"That's good but I wish that bond could be removed.  I can't see as it'd be anything but harmful when you're ready to move on to a real relationship."

"That's why I'm going to ask Abby if it's bleeding over into Rodney later," Sam admitted.  He stretched up then down.  "Paige did say that the bond had let the demon taint in me loosen a lot and slightly leak to Xander, which is why he got so many of those visions dreams."

"That's the reason!" he said, staring at Xander, who shrugged.  "That guardian thing you did, however you did it, should be removed before it hurts you, Xander."

"So far it's proven to be damn helpful," Xander pointed out.  "I was having slayer dreams instead of the slayers the other night."  He glared at Buffy, who shrugged and blushed a bit.  He rolled his eyes.  "So this thing may be related back to the whole 'other side' thing that Varcher and the portal demon has going on."

"Testing you to see which side you'll go on or if you can stay in the center?" John asked.

"That's an odd way of putting it," Sam said.  "I can see testing us to find our responses in case it's going to try to call us into a battle."

Xander nodded.  "Me too."  He sighed.  "We have to talk about slayer plans anyway for the base assault.  It's an even bet right now that it'll be a human force instead of a demon one.  We need to sit with Danny and all the watchers to make concrete plans."  John nodded.   "Today.  Even if we do have to pull him out of the library."

"I can get him and O'Neill into it," John said, going to find the others.  "I'll meet you in his office in about an hour, boys."

Xander nodded, looking at Buffy and Faith.  "If it comes down to a human one, you two are in charge of the youngers to make sure they don't face what you both did," he said firmly.

"X, you're not the head watcher," Faith said dryly.

"Yes he is," Wesley reminded her. "I don't want that sort of stress."  He looked at Xander.  "You think it might?"  Sam nodded quickly.  "Oh, dear, a vision?"

"A lot of dead bodies if we don't mitigate it," Sam admitted.  "I think we can change some of it to spare some of the bodies.  I can't tell if it's a human or a demon or even a mixed force," he told the slayers.

"So if it's human or mixed, then we'd be killing peoples instead of demons," Faith said, sighing at the end when they nodded.  "I get it.  Where?"

"Wherever you can," Xander said bluntly.  "As quickly as you can.  We'll be filling you guys in tonight when we make formal plans on how to evacuate the base if necessary.  You guys especially.  There's no way I want you involved in a base assault against humans."  They nodded, walking off.  "Sam, get Dean, meet us there?  I need a soda."  He walked off, considering things.  He hated being head watcher more than Wes did.


"Okay, I'm apparently the last for the pointless meeting," Gibbs said as he walked in with Dawn behind him.

"Hey," Xander said.  "Not pointless.  Sam had a vision about the assault too."  Gibbs sat down with a groan.  "Neither of us can tell if humans are involved, Gibbs, and slayers who kill humans go through a lot of hardship getting back on the straight and narrow."

"I can help fight," he pointed out.  "Humans and demons, kid."

"Which is why you're the first line of defense to let them head off."  He pointed at the map.  "From Sam's vision, it'll be starting here, instead of at the gate."

Dawn pointed.  "Why there?  That's not a weak spot in the wards."

"It is physically," O'Neill told her.  "Some covering brush out there.  A small hill that blocks our view, plus the buildings if you're in the right spot."  She nodded at that.  "If and when it happens, if you're here, you are to get as many of the slayers off base as possible," he ordered.

She looked at Xander, who nodded.  "It's possibly just humans and I don't know if demons will join in or not."  She nodded once at that.  "If there's something screwing up your magic, you are a watcher in training, you are to go with the girls, Dawn.  Gibbs is your first line of defense, holding them off the girls while you or you and John evacuate them.  He is the next line because he wants Dean and Sam behind him.  If you can't do it with a portal, you're the watcher in charge of the running.  Like after Sunnydale," he said quietly.

"I can do that.  I managed it then, I can do it now.  Just hide in town?"

"If you can.  If not, move farther and hit LA or Cleveland once you can create the portal."

"The point right now is which way the girls are going.  Gibbs?"

He looked at the map of the base.  "This old gate here.  It's sealed?"

"Locked," Daniel admitted.  "Not welded shut.  It's basically padlocked."

"Keys?" Gibbs asked.  "I'm not sure if all the girls can break a padlock."

"No but if I remember right, the fence next to it is wobbly," Dawn told him.  "If not, we can make sure of it as time gets closer."  He nodded at that plan.  She looked at Xander.  "You sure?"

"Yes.  A watcher's duty is his girls, beyond his own life.  The girls are the reason for watchers."

"I realize that, Xander.  You're uptight."

"We're not sure if the other side is going to come in and help or hurt.  Sam's vision wasn't real clear on what stops the humans he thinks he saw.  But they were stopped and we think someone's going to take advantage of the diversion.  Possibly a prison break, possibly not."

"Okay so we're to evacuate the girls, meet up at a point where we can regroup, watch to make sure the demons aren't getting out and handle that," John said.  O'Neill nodded.  "I can see that.  Gibbs, what sort of weapons do you want?"

"I'm more comfortable with a handgun anymore."

"Take some range time if you need to," Xander reminded him quietly.  "It's under the armory."  He smirked.  "I spend a lot of thinking time down there."

"That could help.  So the boys and Dawn run the girls to the town, where she can send the most delicate and youngest off.  Or we portal out, then come back with the older ones?"

"Come back off the base," Wesley reminded him.  "That way no slayer has to face the ripping problem of killing a human."

"Buffy was nearly destroyed when she thought she had," Xander explained at John and Gibbs' looks.  "Faith's was when she started to slip.  As we all know, doing humans is different than hunting animals, guys."  They both nodded at that.  "Some girls won't be able to handle that and we won't have time to do some quick therapy to help them at that point."

"So we'll get the girls out of harms way," Gibbs agreed.  "I'll be the front line, letting the girls go behind me. John's behind me as my backup and shoving them through the portal or through the slayers dorm to pick up weapons on the way.  They head into town, Dawn does a portal if she can, we switch off the girls who can't be in a battle for the senior girls in Cleveland or wherever."  Xander nodded.  "While the DCIS agents are handling it."

"And if demons show up during it," Jack told him, "we've still got most of it with what they carry.  Any military guys on base will be issued new carry loads as soon as they're settled in just in case.   You guys usually carry what they do."

"And this is why I've been in such a panic about having heavier weapons," Xander told them.  "Because I think this secondary force is going to need them.  I'm not sure why though."

That got a look from John.  "You've had more visions than feelings, right?"  Xander nodded.  "Anything concrete?"

"I keep getting a picture of Fargo for some reason.  I think he's there and I think he's ...maybe a target I'm not real sure.  I think the secondary assault might have him as a target.  Which is why he's getting more range time and personal instruction in weapons.  I'm going to get his friend Jo up here to make sure of it."

John nodded.  "That's a good idea," he agreed.  "Does he know?"

"I told him that the invasion visions we've had he was off to the side being important but I don't know why.  He freaked a bit, talked to Jo, who promised to teach him more about weapons and artillery."

"Even better," Daniel said.

Rodney walked in and hugged Xander quickly.  "That portal means we can make a safe Zed PM."  He smiled and walked off.

"Rodney, did Sam talk to you about that Halloween bond?" he called, cracking Gibbs up.  "That was clearly an Abby hug."

Rodney came back.  "Yes but I don't believe in such things."

"Just wait until she starts mirroring visions again," Xander said dryly.  "And you're bouncing like her, Rodney."  He groaned, walking off.  "If so, you can join our insane building parties," he called after him.  He looked at O'Neill.  "Not my fault."

"You started the first one, kid."

"No, Dawn and Sam started the first one when Dawn went to have a go at the Powers.  I joined in to stop her stupid butt."  Dawn nodded at that.  "Then the ghosts brought in Abby."  He looked at his boss.  "I'm going specifically searching for weapons cases."

"I agree.  Whatever reason you're paranoid to get the most firepower capable here, please do.  We can make a temporary armory room."

"Cool.  We need to see if the portals will stay stable off realms too.  That came to me earlier."  He shook his head quickly.  "Okay."  He looked at O'Neill.  "If they're coming from that small area, can your guys fan out between the main building and the slayer dorm?"

"Yes.  That's an ideal spot.   There's very little cover though."

"Jack, we can build cover and make it pretty," Xander said dryly.  "Danny keeps complaining about budget overtures."

Danny smirked.  "So some statuary or do you think fountains, Xander?"

"I think a water feature might be very nice and we could keep it blessed for emergencies," John said.  They all stared at him.  "Holy water, people."

"Hunting makes you more paranoid than the project we came from," O'Neill complained.  He gave John a funny look.  "Won't much matter against humans."

"Unless they're possessed," Xander said.  "Which I wouldn't put past a few of them to be part of the second assault as a timer switch.  That way they know when a good moment is.  That, a big stone thingy with the official motto on it maybe?"

"As opposed to our unofficial one of 'better you than us'?" Daniel joked.

"Yeah."  He grinned back.

"If it's the right sort I can tie extra wards to it," Dawn said.  "Like a keystone.  Able to be turned on if needed.  It sure would've helped while we were doing the walls."

"If we do that it can be destroyed," Daniel said.

She smiled.  "You don't have to link them into the ground.  I can link them so they're in any piece of the thing that still exists.  So it can be moved around base."

"So if even a little piece remains they'll still stand for a bit," O'Neill said.

"I don't like the idea of beautifying the yard with the intent of it being destroyed," Daniel admitted.

Xander grinned.  "We could use it anyway.  Even if it's damaged it won't be fully killed so it can be repaired and then hey, no more budget surplus, boss."

"Why didn't we put up some the first year?" Jack asked Daniel.  "After the first base assault?"

"Start up costs for equipment was atrocious," he admitted.  "After that, we got used to having everything open for firing I guess."  He shrugged.  "Some subtle things might not be so bad," he decided.  "We might need a fallen officer monument too, Xander."

"Am I in charge of that?  I'll make that one be an obelisk.  The other one of those shiny faced granite thingies you see like in front of the FBI?"

"That's not too bad or distasteful," Daniel admitted.  "We'll look at ideas later.  I don't want fences everywhere.  The unicorns would get pissed and attack us."

"Stone signpost pillars," John offered.  "Pointing signs for 'building 2' and 'singles dorm'."

"Granite might make flying chips if it's blown up.  Stones will give us rubble," Gibbs agreed.  "Maybe a tasteful set of statues that are harmless demons being helped by an agent?"

"That might take too long to get," Daniel admitted.  "I can see the concrete pillar signposts being easily done, even a plaque monument out front.  That can probably be done by someone who does fancy headstones."  Xander nodded, making a note of that.

"Let's make the signposts for visitors," Gibbs said.  "Visitors quarters are in the way right there.  Pool.  Infirmary.  Mess."

"That would make more sense," Daniel agreed, making a note of that.  "How hard would it be to make and plant some of those, Xander?"

"Building forms, mixing the concrete, digging a posthole, then planting it with some concrete around it for stability.  Painting and hanging a few signs?"

"So a two or three weekend project?"

"Yup.  Probably.  Also, was reading something online last night and a phrase hit me.  Defensive herbology?"

"I don't want to know what you were reading about," Daniel said.  "But I can see some protective plants going around the fence, especially in that area.  Rosebushes?"  He smiled.  "They hurt and they last up here."

"The botanists of idiocy found a few weedy thorn plants that'll grow anywhere and take over if you let them," Jack said blandly.  "Sheppard's report about running into a patch swore for four pages.  Weir sent it that way on purpose."

"Do we have samples?"

"I think we have some that we can retrieve from the Dadealus easily enough.  They saw them in snow, mud, rocks, nearly a desert area.  They should live through the winter here.  They did say they were more horrifying in growth than that stuff that's all over Florida, kudzu or something?"

"That shit never dies," Xander told him.  "I tried to kill some out in Cali on someone's lawn.  It just doesn't die."

John Sheppard leaned in.  "Why are we talking about the swearing vine plant?"

"Defensive herbology," Xander told him.

"I don't want to know who was writing Harry Potter smut, but please keep it away from Tiff?" he begged.  "Before she shares?"

"She only steals my normal lesbian porn for you, John."  He grinned.  "Base assault."

He came in to look.  "Evacuating the girls.  Tiff might stay."

"Non negotiable," Xander told him.  "High possibility of it being humans at first."

"Fine.  If I can get her wherever."

"Gibbs is their first line, John Winchester their second.  Dawn's going with them or portaling them out if she can.  They can handle it when the demons show up."

"I can tell her that.  If she follows orders."

"Then I can spank," John Winchester said bluntly.  Everyone nodded at that.  He had a very firm hand with the girls.  "We're talking about some hidden base defenses and some ways to hide some cover to fire from."

"Those vines will take over a fence, completely cover it, and protect the metal from rusting within days.  It's able to spread like fire at times and fire doesn't kill it."

"Let our botanists, the good ones, figure out a way to transplant a single plant to cover an area," Jack ordered.  John nodded.  "You sure it'll flourish down here?"

"That's the reason the Athosians nearly boycotted trading food with us, sir.  They planted a plant to see how it'd grow in native soil at what rate.  Within three months it had taken over the entire food crop field.  Sand burrs and cacti have *nothing* on this stuff for stickers and making you yelp."

"I got that unedited report," Jack said smugly.

"The one where Rodney accidentally pushed me into a patch and Ronon had to carry me back to the gate over six miles or the other one, sir?"

"I don't think I saw that particular report but after that first one we instituted a swear filter for reports."

"Clearly since I had to resend some to get some personnel transferred out, General."  Daniel snickered.  "Seriously.  One was 'oh my god, there's breeders everywhere!'' he mimicked dramatically then seemed to swoon at Xander, who caught him.  He grinned at him then straightened up.  "Repeatedly.  Rodney took great joy from reminding her that ninety percent of humans were breeders too."  They all snickered.  "I think you put her under arrest later on, General."  He nodded, still snickering.  "The other was a new Marine, barely out of bootcamp, who screamed a war cry, lunged at a wraith, and tackled it.  We put him under shrink's direct care until you could transfer him back since someone had messed up his training about using his weapons.  He decided unarmed combat was more honorable."  Xander snickered at that one.  "Yeah, exactly.  He was going to pout that we used explosives."

"I do remember unscrewing him.  He's now insanely helping one of our teams go ruin parts of the universe.  He told one culture that pokemon were really our pets and they're very prevalent all over the US."

"I wonder if I can build a capture ball for demons," Xander muttered.  Gibbs smacked him on the head.  "Hey!  We need a new building project."

"Tough.  That's a bad idea, kid."  He looked at Jack.  "I heard you were his biological dad.  Was it radiation exposure?"

Jack howled with laughter.  Daniel shook his head.  "The president wanted to make sure so he called us to test it after Abby's wedding."  Gibbs snickered, shaking his head.

"We weren't sure they weren't doing something strange to ATA carriers," John Sheppard said dryly.  "Where is McKay?"

"They took the little box'o portal to GD to work on it," Xander told him.

"Box of portal?"

"It's about jewelry box sized, the old type with the velvet inside and the flip lid?  One of those with a small sucking portal inside."

John considered it.  "Why?"

"It was in Halfrek's stuff she left to Anya."

"Along with a key that opened up a wonderful library in mid air," Daniel said happily.

"I'm wondering if the Watchers had one of those," Xander admitted.

"Who knows," John Winchester said dryly.  "They have all sorts of crap in Thomas's library that make no sense.  There was one Sammy found that said a master will rise, a slayer will die, and he will harvest us all."

"That was our sophomore year; Buffy died but I brought her back with CPR, making the two slayer situation.  She kicked his ass in this really pretty dress," Xander told him.

John stared at him.  "How do you do that?"

"You know, I'm not always sure," Xander admitted with a grin.  "Ask Charlie Epps.  Maybe he can figure it out."

"He has a side board trying to figure out how to get you to date a good girl.  It's taking him away from class time," Daniel told him.  "We can wait until he's figured that one out for Spenser and I."

Xander smirked.  "Clorina isn't going to go stalker."

"Thankfully," he said dryly.  "Or I'd have to send Bauer to kill her."

"With some of his ex's, Gwen's offered," John Sheppard said dryly.  "She was offering the other night."  He walked off.  "Let me know my part when it's time."

"Sure," Daniel called after him.

"I told him loud women like that probably weren't a healthy relationship," John Winchester told Daniel.  "We had a parental talk about it like I once had with Sammy."

Gibbs looked at him.  "Are those two long lost twins?"

"Not that I'm aware of," John said dryly.  "Mary only had Sammy when she birthed him."  He looked at Xander, who was giving him a cute, cuddly, innocent look.  "Yes, you."

"If I'd had a date, I wouldn't have snooped in Halfrek's stuff last night," he said dryly.

"If your next one gets that loud on base, I'm having her put in for a possession check," Daniel said blandly.  "Because Clorina kept *me* up, Xander."

"House said he and Wilson got kept up too," O'Neill said.  "Now and then I hear physics chanting coming from the new McKay-Scuito household but that's closer at least.  Radek said last time it got to eighty decibels in his apartment from Xander and Clorina."

Xander sighed, shaking his head.  "It was just oral sex.  She was very appreciative."

"Very appreciative is panting, groaning, moaning, and sweating.  She was screaming, Xander.  We weren't sure if it was in pleasure except for what she was screaming."

"She had me by the ears," Xander said dryly.

"I'm going to have Bauer find you a nice male agent.  Hopefully they won't be as loud," Daniel teased with a smirk.

Xander shrugged.  "Okay.  Make sure he likes oral sex then."  Gibbs swatted him again.  He looked at him.  "That's not yours."

"Shut up, Xander," Gibbs said.  "Before you give me more ideas I don't want to hear about."

He looked at him.  "Abby's trying to set you up again."

"She doesn't know that many redheads," he said dryly.  "She's been trying for years."

"Guys, off topic," Jack complained.  It was amusing but still not the time for this circus.  With some of the strange people Xander dated, that was a good word for it.

"Xander, since we've got incoming people for Sam and Thomas to teach demonology basics to, get to work on the signposts this weekend."  He nodded.  "I'll get to work seeing if we can spruce up the yard a bit."

"We can plant trees there.  If we have to we can knock them onto the other guys," Xander said.  "I have something for that."

"We saw," O'Neill said dryly.  "Trees cut down visibility.  Let me get that swearing vine down here so Abby can figure out what it eats."  He went to his office to call the SG base, seeing if they had any already there.  Maybe George would like it since he was a bit prickly as well.


Abby took the small box away from Dr. Stark with a smile.  "It's not ours to break apart," she warned.  "It's an heirloom that Xander's ex-girlfriend inherited."

"How did they make it?" he demanded.

She shrugged.  "The last owner was a vengeance demon."  He shuddered.  "It was in the remains of her stuff.  He promised to keep it pristine if possible."  She handed it back carefully.  "Understood?"

"I'll do what I can and not let idiot boy," he said with a nod at his present helper, Larry, "near it."

"Thank you."  She smiled.  "You know, Fargo's a great help in the lab to Rod and the others.  Whenever he's not helping Daniel he's often up helping Radek."

"No accidents?" he asked Rodney.

"Not beyond tripping over his feet and Xander's been working on that during his mandatory sword practice."  Stark shuddered at the thought of Fargo with a sword.

"It's mandatory for all base personnel," Abby told him.  "Because many demons can only be beheaded if they attack.  Agents and all personnel get it."

Rodney nodded.  "Now I know what I should do if I should happen to accept another duel," he said.  She patted him on the arm, getting a smirk.  "My last response was 'the pointy end goes in him, not me'."

She giggled.  "Yeah, it's better now, Rod."  She smiled as Doctor Blake walked over to them.  She had to keep herself from patting her pregnant belly like she did Brenda's.  "Fargo is a great help to the science guys I've got and he's agreed to go with the team going to check over the other labs I lord over.  He even said he'd treat them like Xander would if they were messing up."

"That could help with Area 51," she admitted.  She shook Rodney's hand.  "Doctor McKay.  What's this little box?"

"It appears to be a small portal of void space."

"How did they do that?" she asked, taking it to look at.

"We cannot unmake it or hurt it," Abby warned.  "It's an inheritance that Xander's ex-girlfriend got."

"We'll do what we can to protect it," she promised, walking them down to the energy research lab.

Abby took Rodney's arm as they walked.  "Rod, what do you think about me going for my Ph.D.?" she asked quietly.

He smiled.  "I think I'd only brag more."

She smirked.  "So me being ABD is good?"

"It's wonderful."  He gave her a kiss on the cheek, all he allowed himself in public off base.  "Where are you getting it through?"

"Cal Sci."

"They do have some excellent programs," Allison agreed with a smile for her.  "We have a lot of fun getting graduates from them."

"We have a few of the teachers on retainer as consultants."

"That's probably very handy," she agreed, falling back to walk with her.  "In forensics or some other field?"

"We have a mathematician and a physicist on consult from there and my degree's going to be in chemistry.  It's a small paycheck for them and they do things like help me find a GA who wanted to come help us in the forensics part of the lab.  She's being tutored by Fargo so she can move to NID and oversee them because some of them are weenies."

Rodney smiled.  "I'd gladly help you proofread your dissertation and if I'm too caught up in something, I'll have Radek do it for me.  He'd be more than happy to as well," he teased.

"I think he's sweet on Megan, my GA."

"She's a very quiet young woman who seems to pop up next to you without warning," he admitted.  "Are you sure she's suitable?"

"Yup, and it'll let her go to a research position as well."  She smirked.  "We went over what I expect to see and hear from them, including progress reports, and ethical behavior I expect recently.  She's going on the butt chewing check team with Horatio and Fargo.  That way they get used to her.  Then this spring she walks and takes over there."

"I'm surprised there's enough left that you didn't just shift them to Area 51," Rodney admitted, holding the door open for the women.  Abby beamed at him for that thoughtful gesture.  Which meant he'd get cuddling that night.  Yes!  He did appreciate her rewarding him for his manners.  Even if he did turn it into a game to get more cuddles.

"I wasn't sure that they weren't going to warp things.   Once I'm sure of their intentions that will be happening and Area 51's boss will take over full oversight duties with Megan helping him as an adjunct sort for the first little while."

"Some might be a bit mad that such a high position went to someone right out of college," Allison warned.

She smiled.  "I told them I was going to name my GA oversight so she could come gather reports and start her own research.  Most of the ones who're left like to hide in their labs all day and don't want it.  The ambitious ones got cleared out for doing anything to get the science end tighter.  Being willing to sacrifice people in the name of science is a big no-no to me."

"I've met some of the ones in that group," Rodney said dryly.  "They weren't happy when I treated them like the imbeciles they were."

"One tried to come up to Xander the other day.  He promised he'd shoot them.  He was petting his gun and all that.  They backed off and ran."  She smirked.  "And then he warned them off the slayers they wanted to dissect and all you guys in the lab.  I sent that one a nice note about illegal actions.  They've formed their own company, the ones who aren't in jail."

He smirked.  "They're hoping for government research grants?  There'll be more oversight if they do."

"Oh, they so are.  They're also hoping Homeland will look the other way.  Which they won't.  I talked to one of the agents who keeps trying to hack our lab's computers.  He decided to deal with them for a while.  He freed their last set of hostage/lab experiments and arrested more of them."

"Wonderful.  Will he leave us alone?"

"No, he's the sort that believes in killing all demons because they might pose a threat some day.  I pointed out so did most humans if you pushed them too far and a good quarter of them could make bombs thanks to the Discovery channel.  He was not amused.  So I shut down his computer for good, again, and made his boss swear about having to buy him another new one.  Then I told Daniel.  That's why he went to DC to smack someone on the head for me."  Stark was snickering.  "Honestly.  Someone in the CIA too.  If they can't play nicely, they can't play."  She bounced over to look.  "We had it under magnification but I can only get up to times 200."

He hummed and upped the magnification in the containment box.  They had a better magnification system.  Yeah, it had some tiny runes on it.  "Any idea what those are?"

Abby looked, then nodded.  "The middle two are part of containment circles.  If we can scan them in I can send them to Sam or Thomas."  He did that and she emailed it, getting one back fairly quickly from Sam Winchester.  "He knows all but one.  He's looking that one up."  It came in ten minutes later and it was good.  He took them.  "Now, the lines might be important.  Like working inside certain figures."

"So we'll scan it in and do a digital representation," Allison said, moving to do that.  Larry walked in.  "Out!" she snapped.  "This has a void spot."  He fled.  "Before he can cause another problem," she said impatiently.

"I want Fargo back," Stark said.

She shrugged.  "Talk to Daniel.  He's a bit bored now and then but we need him to do the admin stuff and proofread a lot of reports for Xander.  Even if he did send one with sex stuff still included to DC when some senators got nosy."  Rodney turned to snicker against a wall.

"That sounds like Fargo, yeah," Stark sighed, shaking his head.

"Why did the report have sexual information?" Allison asked.

Abby beamed.  "It was Xander's report from the weekend of our wedding.  His former girlfriend is working in the same agency we got our arms master from.  Originally she had called him to come pick up the bio bomb making demons then they stayed to make sure someone who wanted Radek wasn't going to interfere with the wedding."

"Since the idiot created a smaller bomb and dropped it just as we kissed and they had to kill the higher demon that the same cretin had summoned we thought it was very sweet of him," Rodney told them.  "Someone nosy wanted to know why he had been in Las Vegas interrupting her hunt for bomb making demons.  Xander routinely writes full, very detailed, reports for some people's amusements then cuts out the unnecessary information for public consumption."

"So Fargo sent the full version instead of the edited one," Allison said, starting to laugh.  "That sounds like him, yes."

Abby's phone beeped.  "Guys, Xander wants to know if there's some sort of reason or way that the things the portal guy dropped can be put together, like a puzzle piece maybe?  He's not sure why some things got chosen as possible keys."

"Henry's working on that," Stark told her.  He called him.  "Henry, Abby from DCIS wants to look at the things that got dropped."  He hung up.  "He'll be down in a minute.  What about the things dropped elsewhere?"

"We've had a few of the more bored agents going to get some of them.  We're missing about three.  So far they seem random but I'm not sure why."  A black man in a hat and what looked like coveralls walked in.  "Hi, Henry."  She gave him a quick hug.  "Xander thinks that there's a reason those pieces were chosen but he's not sure why."

"Neither am I.  They all show the same energy signature."

"The one from the portal or from the other galaxy?" Rodney asked, watching the picture reconstruction of the box.  Then Allison turned the decorations into a flat, one-dimensional picture.  And something started to happen.  "Abigail?" he demanded.

She looked and captured the picture, sending it to Thomas.  He sent back what it was.  "Yeah, that's the figure to open up a spot of inter-dimension space.  The first step to opening a dimensional portal or one to other realities.  So I'm guessing this is the basic step for a quantum mirror?" she asked Rodney, who shrugged.  "Sorry, didn't see those?" she teased.

"Thankfully.  I can't imagine that the one where I'm married to Sam Carter has as much taste as I do."

"Ah, newlyweds," Stark said when she squeaked and kissed him for it.

Allison pinched him hard, making him yelp.  "You were just as bad, Nathan."  Henry was smiling.  "Can you take her to look those over?  Since she's seen the others it could help."

He nodded.  "I can do that."  Abby disengaged their lips with another quick peck then followed him.  They were so cute together.

Rodney smirked.  "Sheppard pointed out I'd have to special order to get anyone more perfect for me."  He came over to look at the diagram.  Then he sent it to Sam Carter, who spluttered it looked like when the fax came through of the drawings on the backs of the mirrors.  "Hmm, I wonder if they knew what they mean," he muttered, handing it over.  "Those were on the quantum mirror we have in secure storage."

"Which does?" Stark asked.

"Goes to other realities."

He shuddered.  "I'd hate that."

Rodney smirked.  "She managed to trek through a few of them."

"That's even worse.  There's no telling how that would warp their realities."

"In this one, when they showed up here, it simply warped minds," he said dryly.  "Having seen another version of myself, I'm not too thrilled with how he does vengeance but I suppose if I was still that angry all the time I'd be nearly as bad."

"I don't want to know.  That'll rot my mind," Stark told him.

"Fine."  They got to work on what was going on.  They had removed two lines of the figure and it was now just a picture again. That could definitely help them when they were making their own for a new ZPM or seventy.  A lot of places could use one.


Abby came onto the screen in the lab, making Radek and Megan jump since they were working in there.  "Hey, guys.  We're at GD and I'm looking at the other possible keys he flung.  I have physical notes on the energy output and some strange fluctuations they've had.  Can you fax them to me here?"

"I can," Radek agreed, going to her office to find them.  He brought them out, letting her see them.  "Do we need anything else?"

"Pictures.  I think Xander's right and there's a reason he was choosing these things.  Especially the one that fell at Fargo's feet?"  He nodded he'd do that.  "Thanks.  Oh, that box?  The bottom marks on it created the interdimensional portal start."  She beamed.  "It's half of what's inscribed on a quantum mirror."

"Please do not call another Rodney here," he begged.  "One is more than enough and even if you do have dirty fantasies the rest of us don't want to hear, it would be bad for reality," he complained.

She smirked.  "I'm not that sort of girl, Radek."

"Thank god."  He said something in Czech and sent things to her.  "There, is sent."

"Thank you, Radek.  Megan, remember the butt chewing tour is starting next week."  She nodded.  "Start making your checklists now.  It'll be easier to cart around a clipboard in some cases."

"I've already gotten one from Horatio, Abby."

"Excellent.  Don't destroy my lab and let me know if we need help."  She cut the connection.  Larry brought the faxes in a few minutes later and her phone beeped with the photos.  Henry uploaded them into his work files.  She smiled at Larry.  "So, are you as good in the lab as Fargo?  I've got him working on a DNA coding project to see if we can tell individual demons from the entire clan.  He and Carson are being nearly brilliant seeing if they can do differential sequencing at the moment."

"No, I'm not much one for DNA," he admitted.

She stared at him for a moment then smirked.  "You know I'm over Area 51 and NID too, right?"  He nodded quickly.  "You know that they've got oversight stuff going on?"  He grimaced but nodded.  "I keep a good watch on my people, Larry, even you guys, to make sure nothing too bad is going on.   They needed it."

"Some of the people at NID were a bit brutal," Henry agreed.  "Larry might be good in that sort of situation.  It'd mean he'd get to squeal about anything going on."  He looked at the young guy.  "It'd mean you'd be a spy and still have to put up with them."

"I did that with Fargo," he said dryly, walking off.  He'd think about that.  Being the boss's assistant wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  Long hours, a lot of emergencies, and Sheriff Carter treated him like he was less intelligent than he was.  The Sheriff was downright mean about it sometimes too.  Not like Larry wasn't a genius.

The Sheriff caught him in the entry way.  "Larry, where's Stark this time?"

"Energy research, Sheriff," he said, pasting a happier expression on.  "I can have him called."

"Have him call me or I'm calling the DEA about his pharmaceutical and recreational drug researchers please."

"We have someone doing that?"

"They said so," he said grimly.  "Anything going on that's going to cause me an emergency so I don't make it for dinner with Zoe?"

"Abby Scuito and Rodney McKay are in."  He called him.  "Doctor Blake, the sheriff is here about some recreational pharmaceutical researchers?"  She huffed.  "In the entryway, ma'am."  He hung up.  "She'll be right up."

"That's fine.  I doubt their field of weed is going to go anywhere soon.  Or the nice artificial cave of mushrooms."  She stomped up there.  He pulled up his phone to show her the pictures.  "They claim they're doing legitimate research.  Jo glared so hard when she got told by Zane that one of the kids in his neighborhood had some extra pot he was claiming was a GD employee perk."

"No, we drug test, Carter."  She walked off with him.  "Which ones?"

"Last two photos.  Jo was going to strangle them so I'm doing the diplomatic thing today," he said with a grin.

"Throwing them to the ground and making them ache while you cuff them?  That sounds like a wonderful idea," she agreed.

"Mood swing?" he teased.

"Yes but that's fine.  Last time I bit Nathan a lot."  He laughed, getting her into the jeep to take her to the field.  Yeah, she could have some fun with this.  They found Jo had tied them to some of the pot stands like she was going to burn them with their drugs.  "No witch burnings without a permit," she warned as she got out.

"It's only three extra forms beyond the burning of the field.  I can say they ran into the fire to try to save their precious drugs that they claim are smarter than I am."

Carter patted her on the back.  "No, it's not.  It's plants and you have an IQ like Doctor Blake's."  She smirked at him.  He knew he was sucking up but she had PMS and she was scary!  "Zoe and I have a family style dinner planned tonight."

"I heard.  She begged me to keep all emergencies down since she's cooking?"  He nodded.  "Good."  She went to help Doctor Blake deal with the morons.  "Have we heard from Fargo?"

"He's been helping at DCIS in the labs," Allison told her with a smile.  "Abby said he's been very helpful with their real research going on instead of the forensics end she deals with more.  Plus he's doing a lot of proofreading of Agent Harris' reports.  He even accidentally sent one with sexual information and discussion to DC since someone there got pushy."

Carter cackled.  "That sounds like Fargo, yeah."

Jo nodded.  "Yes it does."  She untied the people.  She didn't want to but oh well.  She let Jack throw each one to the ground to cuff too.  So apparently he didn't like drugs either.  Allison stood in front of them and yelled for a good forty minutes.  Then she had someone bring a flame thrower.   They got watch as their precious drugs got burned to a crisp and sob at all that hard work gone down the irrigation culverts.  It was so sweet to watch them cry.  Jo and Allison got very happy and Jack was a wise man so he only hauled the prisoners away for them.  Otherwise he'd never make dinner because he'd be getting stitches in the infirmary.


Jo walked up to where Abby and Rodney were eating in the Cafe, staring at them.  "You didn't bring Fargo back?"

"No but I'm to bring you out," Abby said with a smile.

She sat down.  "I could like that.  What's Fargo working on?  Larry said something about DNA?"

"Individual identification instead of clan and species," Rodney told her.  "The same as we do to human criminals."

"Interesting.  I'm sure he's having a lot of fun."

"He and Carson, our project's doctor, are having a great deal of fun," Rodney agreed with a smirk.  "Driving everyone nuts."

Abby nodded.  "They kinda are.  They even took over my building lab."

"We can make you a nice building area, Abigail.  That way you, Xander, and Dean can tinker all you want and it's easier to test the weapons out there."  She beamed at him.  "I've already talked to Daniel about it.  He decided it might be safer after seeing the last batch in testing.  That way we'd save the trees for other purposes."

She smirked.  "That was mean but you and John picked the area."

"We needed standing targets," he pointed out.

"Harris can build weapons?" Jo asked.  "Why?"

Abby beamed.  "Remember that Halloween with the dead coming back to talk to us?"  She nodded slowly.  "Some of the geek trio in Sunnydale, who build things like a working robot that's totally realistic, possessed him, me, and Dean to build the rest of their life's work.  For some reason he's working on a freeze ray again."

"He said they wanted to build one," Rodney admitted.  "I asked when Radek giggled too much and got used as a test subject."

"He didn't get unpossessed?" Jo asked.  "I thought you can do that."

"He's a medium, he keeps a large taint," Rodney said dryly.  "They got so involved they set up a temporal spell that night to give them a few months of building in a few hours' time."  Jo shuddered.  "Which we had to be called down to stop," he said, looking at Abby.

She kissed him with a smile.  "You like our geek toys anyways, Rod."

"I do," he agreed.  "They're very wicked.  Plus some of it is extendable to other research."  He looked at her.  "In that first bout they created a real light saber, a laser application, and a real working proton accelerator pack among other things."

Jo shuddered.  "That's very wrong on so many levels," she complained.

"The patent office liked them.  I got the formal paperwork finally saying they accepted them," Abby said happily.  "And our expeller explosive egg."  Rodney smirked at that.  "Which he tested for us."

"It worked quite well," he agreed.

Jo looked at them.  "They really work?"  Abby nodded.  So did Rodney.  "Any here?"

"I don't think I brought anything but they gave Fargo the plans so he could build his own light saber," Abby offered.

"I've got to see that."  She stood up.  "When are you guys going back?"

"Hopefully Sunday if the process works the way we think it will," Rodney told her.

"I can stay that long but I'm still certain there's a hidden meaning behind choosing those things as keys.  Some sort of puzzle."

"Perhaps it's not how they go together but what they mean or stand for?" Rodney suggested.  She squealed and hugged him, running off to find Henry and suggest that.  He went back to eating.  He'd go retrieve her later.  The same as she did for him when he got too caught up in the lab.

Jo smiled at him.  "You're a lucky man, McKay."  She walked off.   Zane was pulling up outside so she waited, smiling at him.  "Hi."

"Hi.  I saw Abby jogging off."

"McKay gave her an idea about those keys."  He nodded at that.  "I'm going back to DCIS in a few days to check on Fargo and help teach him some more about weapons.  He's almost afraid of their arms master.  Said he's a scary former covert agent."

"That sounds like he knows what he's doing."  He grinned.  "Want me to water your plants?"

"If you want."  She walked off.  "I'm on shift tonight."

"I'll bring you some coffee later," he promised.  He went in to get his own dinner, noticing McKay was reading something in another language.  He had no idea he read braille.  Must be Abby's influence.


Rodney looked over the setup.  It was late Thursday night.  "Remember, if it goes the least little bit out of bounds, we have to stop it immediately."  Stark glared at him.  He glared back.  "I was at the last one where it went out of bounds.  It ended up destroying about two/thirds of a solar system," he said quietly.

"Then we definitely will end it if it starts going wrong," he promised.  "That's not something I want to see either."  He looked around.  "Is Abby...."

"I'm torn.  I don't want her here if we have problems."

Allison smiled.  "She wanted to be here even if it didn't work right this first time, McKay.  She'll be here in a minute and will probably swat you for trying to keep her safe."

"She may," he agreed dryly.  "She's much more dynamic than I had ever dreamed was possible."  Abby snuck up beside him, putting her arms around his chest.  He patted them, smiling back at her.  "Science now, cuddling later.  Lab rules," he teased.

She gave him a squeeze.  "It'll go fine, there won't be an explosion.  The computer will be able to guide the stream.  I said so and you said I'm a science goddess so therefore I have some say," she said firmly.

He relaxed, letting her surety calm his insecurity.  "You're right, you are a goddess."  He pulled her around to take her arm instead.  It wasn't very manly to be cuddled that way in public.  "Are we set?"

"We're set," Stark said.  The researcher nodded, rechecking the computer's programming before he opened the portal with the robot hand drawing the last line in the new figure on the wall.  He had decided it'd be easier to work it that way.  Then the second part of the process started, pulling the energy out.

Abby watched from behind her safety glasses.  Rod was incredibly tense.  "That looks like the start of a hyperdrive fold," she said quietly.

"It does but it's not the same sort of energy stream," he admitted, kissing her on the ear.  It was working.  The energy was trying to get too far out of containment but the system was holding it in for now.  They kept going, finding it got a bit more violent as more energy got sucked in.  The new container was sucking it in.  The old shell of a ZPM was doing its job.  It was halfway, Rodney was starting to think they had conquered it.  Then the containment system went haywire and it got shut down.  Rodney flinched but no explosion this time.  Just the mild void portal.  The half-charged ZPM.

Allison looked at the computer readings.  "Its only reading ten percent stored but it looks like more."

"It compacts itself in there the more you stuff in," Rodney sighed.  "What happened?"  He moved closer.

"There was some sort of flux," the other scientist said, showing him the graphs.

Abby pointed.  "That's a stone in the pond ripple."  They all looked at her.  "The first impact of the stone into the pond. I did a sine curve analysis of it for a college project once."  They all nodded.  "So maybe we need to make sure it's going to a blank universe or realm."

Rodney nodded.  "We should."  He considered it.  "How do you set it that way?"

She smiled.  "It's all in the runes, Rodney."  He stared at her.  She nodded.  "That's what Thomas says about magic.  All the magic is in the runes but the belief powers them.  So we need one for a blank realm.  Or maybe the true void."

He nodded, texting that to Radek, who sent back a few runes to his email.  He got into them, comparing them.  Thomas had told him where to put them.  "This one is for a true alternate reality.   This one is to create a fold situation, the start of a hyperspace fold for travel.  This one...."  He stared at it.  "That one's to the void and so's the next one?"

She looked.  "Two types of void, Rod.  Positive and negative."

"Oh, I see."  He saw the last one's remarks.  "To a world where demons won."  He paged back up.  "We'd want to try the positive void," he said.  The researcher had the robot arm inscribe that in the circle.  It nearly blew them off with the wind that came out of it.  He had it switched to the negative one and it was almost seething it felt.  They started the process and Abby took Rodney's arm.  He realized it was so he couldn't cross his hands over his chest to hide his clenched fists.

He was very worried but it was working.  The thing was refilling and doing it faster.  The robot arm put down another four empty shells and they linked together by their design, filling from the center one.  It took a harrowing hour, one that left him shaky and sweaty, but it was done.  They read as fully charged, fully useable.  The energy withdrawal was stopped then the robot hand destroyed the figure on the wall.  The void left a small explosion crater when it disappeared.

Rodney let out a breath he felt like he had been holding all along.  He took one of the new ZPM's carefully to scan it with the device from Atlantis.  "It's on the wrong energy spectrum.  It's AC to DC current," he told Abby when she looked.  He gave her a gentle nudge out of the way.  He went back to work.  "We can use it.  We simply have to reconfigure how the power goes in and out."  He smiled.  "It worked."  They all looked happier.  She hugged him.  "My sun," he whispered in her ear.

She smiled at him then pinched him.  "I won't get hurt, Rodney."

"Do quit fussing, woman; it's instinctive to protect you from everything that could harm your fragile body.  Or else I'd have to hurt someone who harmed you."

She kissed him.  "Silly.  I can do that too."

"Hmm, you do get overprotective of me."

She smirked at him.  "Of course I do.  You're one of those fragile man sorts.  Men are always the more gentle species, and you need babied because of it.  Otherwise you'd be able to bear pain and the flu better."  Allison giggled at that, walking off shaking her head.  She stared at Rodney.  "Now what, my stud?"

"They'll work.  It'll take a few days to reconfigure the power flows for them."  He shook Stark's hand.  "Thank you."

"It's important research, McKay.  Thank you."  He left them alone.

Rodney kissed her.  "We'll pack four of these up, leave them one to research from.  We'll get back to the base soon so we can move it."  She pouted.  "It'll still take time, Abigail."

"I know.  Better to have you go now and be somewhere safe so we don't have to worry about you guys this spring."  He nodded at that wisdom.  They packed the four ZPM into a special carrying case.  "Well, I guess we should tell Jo we're taking her today, huh?"

"We can leave in the morning," he promised.  "I could use a rest honestly."  She smiled and walked out on his arm, letting him carry the precious energy resources.  Stark had Jo meet them in the entryway.  "Do you want to go tonight or tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow.  Always better to start out in the morning.  Unless your private plane has a bed to nap in?"

"No, but the seats do fold out," Abby admitted.  He smirked at her.  "They do.  Speed said they're almost comfy too."

"I could appreciate that."  They left to hit the airport and the private plane.  The pilot was waiting.  "We'll have to get Carter back to base," he told her.

"I texted my whole DCIS contact list that it worked."

He smiled.  "Thank you."

She tweaked his arm.  "I make an impressive herald?" she teased.

"You do.  You announce our brilliance so very well."  He took a kiss, putting them onto a couch.  The pilot locked the door and went to fly them away.  Once they were in the air, Abby pulled out the couch's bottom.  Rodney didn't notice, he was nearly asleep holding the precious ZPMs.  Jo smiled at her fussing but settled in for her own nap.  She'd have a long day working with Fargo.


Daniel looked at his phone then at Jack O'Neill across his dining table.  "They did it.  They had to reconfigure the energy."

Jack relaxed and smiled.  "No accidents?"

"No.  Not that they reported."

"Excellent.  How many are they bringing back?"

"Abby's note said four working ones but they had to reconfigure it to negative energy?"

"No clue, Danny boy."  He stuffed his mouth, eating heartily.  He'd have some more work coming soon.  "So we'll have to see if it'll work on Atlantis."

"Which means you'll have it settled before this spring if it's moved soon," Danny pointed out.

"Oh, I'm going to be here," Jack said dryly.  "If you're going to die, I'm going to be beside you, like the last time you died, Danny."

Daniel smirked.  "Thanks, Jack.  Dying was almost fun when you were there."  Jack snickered at that.  He heard a scream and sighed.  "I know Xander didn't bring home a woman."

"That sounded like a unicorn."  He went to the window to look.  "Nope, Digger got a demon.  It's screaming and whimpering in pain but Chase is there.  They're cuffing it and bringing it off."  He sat down again.  "I guess they have it well in hand."

"Hopefully."  He ate another bite.  He'd call the infirmary later to get a report.  He added more vegetables to Jack's plate, ignoring his sigh that sounded like 'thanks mom' muttered under his breath.  He just grinned.  "Cam's due out when?"

"This spring."  He smirked.  "You get Ferretti first."

"That's fine, the girls will like picking on him too I guess."

"Yeah, I'm sure he'll enjoy it.  Maybe he'll even learn how to play kitten poker."

"You never know about Ferretti.  He might," Daniel said dryly, cracking Jack up.  "I'm damn sure going to make sure Cam learns it in case it comes up on a team trip."

"Yeahsureyoubetcha," he agreed dryly, smirking at his friend.  "I'm sure it will."

"Hell, they're SG-1, nothing's ever normal when we travel," Daniel reminded him.  "Kitten poker being taken up by Gou'ald?  Or Tokra?  Or even Asgard I can see."

"Thor would kick someone's little gray butts," he said dryly.  He shook his head but he was smiling.  That was a cute mental picture.  Some big, bad warlord of a Gou'ald playing kitten poker and losing to Cam.  Or Carter.  He shook his head to clear it.  "She tell Sam?"

"No clue."  He texted her just in case.  She sent back a squeal then an apology for her 'key stutter' answer.  He showed them to his buddy, making him snicker.  Yeah, they could pick on her about that.


Xander supervised the last of the direction markers being put in.  His last case had left him with stitches on his arm and House had threatened to superglue the sling on if he tried to shift them on his own.   So, hey, slayer strength was more than enough for that.  John Winchester was helping make sure they were placed in straight and in the correct direction.  Brenda had tried to put one in backwards on purpose to be naughty.  They set that one in with the last touch of concrete and it was good.  Binky came over to christen it by peeing on it - Digger had gotten most of the others - and it was fully DCIS's new direction markers.  He looked at John.  "These should do."

"These should do," he agreed.  "Then what?"

"Um, a statue set, a pretty, decorative, round thingy with the agency motto, the official one, one that can be used for some low lying cover, some defensive herbology....."  He smirked.  "The vines going up around the fence have very bad poky things according to Sheppard.  He landed in some once thanks to McKay."

"Worse than George?" Brenda asked.

"He said it was.  They also said it grows like kudzu."

John shuddered.  "Can it be killed by flame thrower if we have to?"  Xander nodded.  "Good!"  He walked off.  "C'mon, Brenda, let's go feed her."  She beamed and walked off with him.

Xander looked around.  Half of everything was going to be finished here in the next few days.  It was still early enough to plant things that would survive the winter.  Plus it'd make it a bit prettier.  The girls would like that.  He went to his desk in the main building, finding plans on it.  He studied it and then put suggestions on a sheet of notebook paper, paper clipping it to the top.  He handed it to Fargo when he came in for coffee, getting a grin back.  "I hear you have visitors," he teased with a smirk.


"Abby's in the lab, Fargo," Horatio said from his desk.

"Is Jo here already then?"  Xander smirked and nodded.  "Why haven't I seen her?"

"I think she's down scaring Bauer," Xander admitted.  He went that way, dropping things off on Daniel so he could catch up with his friend.  She smirked at him.  He grinned back and gave her a quick hug then backed off.

"I thought you might still be sleeping in, Fargo," she teased.

"No, I've been up for hours."  She walked him down to the armory to see what she had already pulled out to work on him with.

Bauer shook his head.  "She'd make a scary, efficient agent," he decided, getting back to cataloging Xander's last bust.  It wasn't one of the huge ones he brought in every few months but it had a few nice, lesser things.  They could probably use them this spring.


Xander walked up to his contact in Cleveland two days later, staring at him.  "DCIS needs to bulk up the armory before this spring," he said quietly.

"I've heard you've been mean recently, Harris," the demon burbled, staring at him.  "Why?"

"Multiple visions of a base assault by higher demons and possibly some humans."

"A few of our seers have foreseen it as well."  He stared at him.  "You should build more."

"I'm still building but I don't have time to test things."

"That is a good point."  He considered it.  "They would be very upset with me."

"They'd probably understand I'm being paranoid," Xander countered with a grin.  He felt slim arms go around his and looked down.  "Hi, Merry."

"Hi, Xander.  What are you doing here?"

"Talking to him about the pitiful state of our base's armory."

"Ah."  She smirked.  "We're looking for weapons?"

"Yup.  What're you doing here?  I know you're not old enough to be in the bar."

"I'm playing kitten poker."

He stared at her.  That was a clear lie.  She blushed.  "We'll talk later."  He smirked.  "Giles is starting to move on his own but he's still at the toddler level of following orders."

"Hmm, that's good.  Any other good news?"

"Brenda's only had two mood swings so far."  She giggled at that.  "Both on Sammy, who pouted her out of her foul mood."

"Even better.  He can stand up to it better than Dean can.  He's fragile and Faith would kick Brenda's butt for making her boy pout."

"Could be."  He pulled her around to give her a hug.  Then he let her go.  "I'm checking in later too."  She groaned.  "Hey, Wes is coming back tomorrow."

"Crap."  She walked off calling the other girls to let them know.  Buffy was off at meetings in DC for the week.

Xander stared at her back.  "If I have to have another talk like the last one with the girls, I will," he reminded her.

"Please don't.  They're still celibate, Xander."  She left the bar.  Her planned fun was ruined for the night.

Xander nodded his head in her direction, looking at his information source.  "Kitten poker?"

"Not hardly."

"Didn't figure it was with the hickeys on her neck from the suckers."  The demon moaned, shifting on his stool.  "So?  I know there is one.  People have been too wary for there to not be a shipment coming."

"The other human agents would be displeased."

"Screw 'em.  We need it more."

The demon considered it and texted someone on his phone.  Then he nodded.  "My clan leader said it's hard being one of us but he knows that the need is making you twitchy.  You could raid the market again."

Xander smirked.  "Maybe next month when the great stuff from Oravet comes in."  The demon shuddered.  "This shipment that's hopefully being seen by other agents?"

"Some international agents think they know about it.  They don't.  One of the idiots in federal service that can't find their own ass stumbled upon the route while out drunk.  A few dirty ones as well."

Xander nodded.  "Then I'd better get there first, huh?"  The demon stared at him.  He stared back.  Then he smirked.  "Daniel said I could have another YouTube moment.  Like from Mexico."

The demon cackled, nodding.  "Those are amusing, Knight."  He poured some salt on the table and drew out a map.  "Michigan."  Xander nodded, drawing it on his notepad.  Then he took a few pictures with his phone because he knew he wasn't the best artist.  The demon wiped the trails out of the salt when the human bounced off to check up on the girls.  "He's incredibly warped but fun to watch.  As long as you're not in his sights."  He sipped his beer.  He wondered how the boy had known to come to him but he'd figure that out later.


Xander found the shipment and moaned in pleasure.  Oh, yeah.  Two demon caravan riders doing escort duty on motorcycles.  One large semi.  That was a great distraction.  He had Horatio and Mac's team doing that one, making sure they knew that there were agents who wanted it instead.  Xander spotted the other one coming and it was even prettier.  Oh, yeah, he could use that.  No one would expect one single car with the portal system in the back.  He drove down to stop that car once the others had moved to the fake caravan.  He pulled in behind it and turned on his lights.  He could see the demons stare back and swear then try to speed up.  Xander nudged their bumper gently.  They had to pull over.  He stopped and got out.  "Out and hands on the roof," he ordered.  "All five of them and the tentacle too."

They got out.  "Why are you stopping us?  We have done nothing wrong!" one shouted.

"Then you're not with the caravan?" he asked dryly.  One frantically shook his head.  The other just groaned.  Xander stared at that one.  "Lie to me," he teased with a smirk.  "I dare you."

"I turned it down!" the other one shouted, attacking his partner with his tentacle.

"Hey!" Xander ordered.  They finally got stopped when he handcuffed their tentacles to the side mirrors.  He moved to the back, opening the trunk to find the portal bag.  "Oh, that's pretty," he said in awe.  He pulled out the bag, looking inside it.  Huh, an egg.  He put that one with the one who claimed they hadn't been involved, letting him pet it.  The portal was in another bag and it was just as pretty as the egg.  He laid it over his car's hood and put the crystal down.  Five stops on it.  He stuck his head into the first then came out to look at them.  "You're in so deep," he told the one who had been involved.

"My egg?" the other one asked.

Xander shrugged.  "You can debate that with our prosecutor."  He moaned but clutched the bag with his egg.  "I'm not going to separate you at this time."  He nodded.  "I know that anyone else trying to take care of it would probably kill it."  He bundled up the portal again and crystal into an evidence bag then got them into the back of his SUV.  He searched the car efficiently, getting the rest of the stuff the guy was carrying.  Then he radioed in.  "Need a tow about two miles behind you guys for the non-diversion vehicle."  He heard the swearing.  "Want some help?" he asked.

"Please," Horatio said grimly.

Xander got into his car and sped that way, pulling up to where the problem was.  He got out and walked up behind the screaming people, drawing his weapon.  He had been a good boy all day so far.  "On your knees," he snapped.  "Federal agent!"  The other guy jumped and stared at him.  "Now!" he snarled.

"I'm an...."

"I heard there were dirty officers coming for it.  If you're not one of them, then we'll let you help.  If not, on your knees!  Now!  I have little patience and no caffeine."  The officer dropped and put his hands on his head.  Mac smirked at him for that.  "I do.  I also have the actual portal, the person who knew it was there, the one who didn't, and their egg."

"The egg?" Mac asked.

"Would probably die without the mommy."


"The mommy doesn't seem to know.  I'm going to let the legal team straighten it out."  They all nodded and went to get them.  Xander popped the lock on the back of the semi, staring inside.  "Well," he said, smirking at the driver.  "What have we here?"

"It's not illegal!" he shouted.

Xander stepped over to look at him.  "Excuse me?  You have military weapons and they're not illegal?"

The demon gulped.  "I'm sorry."  He started to move but Xander's pistol against his forehead stopped him.  "Please!  It's not honorable."

"You blow us up, I get to come back from the afterlife to kick your ass and still handle the base assault."  The demons all wailed and that one fell to the ground to wail into it.  "Good!"  He walked off.  "Hey, Mac, I have no idea who you call about things that probably belong on a warship."

Mac looked inside the truck.  "I think they do too, Xander.  We'll ask Gibbs or O'Neill."

"Cool beans."  He walked over to get the other prisoners.  Dawn sent a portal thanks to Horatio sending her a picture.  He walked them through it, handing them over.  "Let that one keep his egg," he ordered.  "It can die if he can't take care of it.  He may not have realized.  Let our prosecutor figure it out."  The head guard nodded, calling him to come talk to that one.  Xander jogged up the stairs from the jail to the infirmary level.  "Hey, General?  What do we do with five guns that belong on a warship?" he asked, leaning into his office.

Jack stared at him.  "What?"

"C'mon."  Jack followed, going to see what he was talking about.  "Guys, blue Geo Metro about two miles back," he told the confiscation crew.  They went to gather it too.  He let Mac show him the contents of the trailer.  Xander put the evidence bag with the portal and crystal into Horatio's hands.  "Five stops."  He nodded, taking it with him.  Xander went to turn off the lights on his SUV, feeling itchy and antsy.  Then his arm started to hurt.  He stared at it for a moment then around.  "Jack, heavy magic," he called, rushing his way.  Mac pulled his gun, staring around them.  It was a pretty deserted place.  A flat plains area just over the border.  Xander had his hand on his gun.  He was looking in the other direction while Jack was calling someone about the gun turrets.  Xander muttered something.  "Mac, portal."  He pointed.

"I hear engines," Mac said.  He looked at Xander.  "Why do you have this sort of luck?"

"I told my contact we were building up the armory for the base assault since some of their seers had seen it going on too."  He shrugged.  They moved closer but staying under cover.  Two bikers, then four more showed up, heading for them, the portal, and whatever was coming out of it.  Human bikers, maybe.  The portal was definitely demonic and there was definitely a big time demon coming out.  Not powerful, but criminally.  "Hmm, demon mafia," he muttered.  "Bad things, Mac."  He looked at him.  "Bikers are probably human?"

"Look like it.  I'll... take the bikers," he decided.  Xander nodded, shifting his stance.  They saw the demon wave out his two bodyguards and then the portal shut.  Xander smirked.  That was a bad sign.  They had to have seen the official vehicle and the semi.  "Three, two...," Mac counted.

"Federal fucking agents!" he shouted.  "We didn't plan on you being here."

The two bodyguards swore and reached for guns.  Xander got them in the arms.  The head guy managed to get his gun.  The bikers all had weapons so he helped Mac make them moan on the ground.  A few weren't and tried to go off.  He gave Mac a shove.  "Keys are in it," he ordered.  Mac took his SUV off after them.  He walked over, covering the two moaning guards and the bigger guy.  "You didn't see us?"

"I saw you long before you got here, boy," he sneered, snapping his fingers.  "There's a high bounty on you, Knight," he slurred.

Xander snickered.  "I knew that.  There has been since tenth grade."  The portal started to reform.  Xander concentrated.  His magic wasn't relocked.  He had unlocked it during the Rosenburg trip.  He closed the portal opening, making the guy shriek.  Xander smirked.  "Willow made me unblock it," he said facetiously.  "And I've got backup."

"Not here," he said.  "It's just you and me.  And I have a bigger weapon."

Xander shrugged.  "I am a weapon."  The demon tried to shoot him.  Xander dove out of the way and shot him in the leg, making him scream in pain.  Then the chest.  Body armor.  So the head was good enough for him.  He had a fin, it was now destroyed.  The guy was screaming in pain.  Xander got up and dusted himself off.  "You were saying?"  Mac came back with the bikers tied to the tailgate and bumper.  "That'll work," he decided.  "He said there's a bounty on me, Mac.  Do we think it's went up again?"

"Probably not since we found it way back when, Xander."  He came over to look at him.  "You good?"  He looked at his arm.  "It's bleeding and House is going to kill you since he just pulled those stitches."

"It's fine."  One guard tried to shoot him so Xander kicked him in the hand, making him drop the gun.  They got the other baddies bundled up and into the new portal back to the base.

Jack came through last.  "Does Danny know that you announce a raid by saying "federal fucking agents', kid?" he asked dryly.

"Now and then," Xander admitted.

"House, Xander's got a new graze," Mac tattled on his way past the infirmary.

"No one even taped it this time," Xander complained.  He smirked at Jack.  "Did you see the two watching agents not show up to help him?"

"I did and took down their plate number and description."  He walked it off to put it into a report for someone.  Danny could pass it along.  The gun turrets were being taken care of.  His contact had gotten there right before he had left the scene.  So he probably had to write something short about that too.  "Handed confiscated military weapons to Cheyenne Mountain commanding officer to be handed back," he typed, then signed it and sent it upstairs to Fargo.  He got back a note saying that wasn't very descriptive.  Oh, well.  He added in a few sentences about the second idiots and the other agents, then sent it back.


Fargo grimaced, taking it to Daniel.  "Is that normal for him?"

Daniel looked it over and nodded.  "Jack hates writing reports.  It'll work."  He faxed that to someone in DC to take care of their own agents.  "Xander, next time try not to swear when you announce the raid," Daniel said, spotting him walking past his doorway.  Mac laughed at that.  "You too please."

"What happened?" Horatio demanded.  "I leave and more show up?"

"Xander said one was a powerful crime lord in the demon world.  He also tried to fire on him and got his fin shot off."  Horatio shuddered.  He had run into one of them.  "His guards are nicely with him along with his human biker friends."

Daniel came out.  "Jack noted what he noticed about the watching agents."

Mac nodded, sitting down to work on that.  "I noticed them, and their car."  He made the report and handed them both over.  "A bit rough."

"That's fine, Mac."  He walked them off.  Then he came back to look at Xander's arm.  "House didn't stop you?"

"He's not in the infirmary," he said with a grin.  "The nurse said he and Wilson are out planting deadly plants."

"That's fine I suppose.  Get that looked at, Xander."

"It's nothing."

"Shut up or o I'm telling House," Horatio warned.

"I tried, he wasn't in the infirmary," Mac said dryly.  "Daniel, maybe Xander should have a day off?"

"He can have tonight off to go play if he wants to.  I'm sure the judge won't need him by then.  It'll take tomorrow to process all the new prisoners.  And the egg?" he asked Xander.

"That species would die if he didn't take care of it.  From what he said, he had no idea they were couriers."

"That's fine.  I'm going to let them straighten it out and we'll figure out the egg thing if he's charged.  Get your arm looked at within the next twenty."  He walked off before the boy could argue.  It meant he won an argument, which was a nice trend to continue.  He'd have to remember how to do that maneuver for arguing with Jack, Sam Carter, Sam Winchester, Thomas, Vala, and Cam Mitchell.

Xander shook his head but he handed in his reports to Fargo and went to find House and Wilson.  "They're nagging and it's only a little graze."

House pulled him closer to look at it.  "Go bandage it."

"That's what I wanted to do but Mac tried to nark.  Daniel too."

"It's fine."  He smirked as the boy skipped off, shaking his head.

Wilson smiled.  "He is scarily like you, House," he said quietly.

House nodded.  "I know.  I could've been that tough when I was his age.  Thankfully I had a lot of women who kept me more sane and softer."  He went back to helping him plant.  "Why are we doing this?"

"Because these plants can help defend the base if they get this far.  It won't be in the agents' way but anything that it comes in contact with will be in pain."

"Good enough I guess."  He finished up his last plant and stood up with a small moan of pain.  Wilson looked at him.  "Knee."

"I guess it happens."  He finished up and they went inside to clean up and so House could take something for his leg and knee pain.  It was about time anyway.  The herbal stuff wasn't addictive.  Which pleased Wilson since he didn't like House's dependence on vicodin.


Xander wobbled in the next morning, flopping down between Horatio and Daniel at the mess hall table.  "I swear there were no women for me to hit on, boss."

Daniel looked at the boy.  He smelled like gunpowder.  He had no lipstick marks.  His shirt had a few tears.  "Fight in the club?"

"No."  He smirked.  "But the mafia thug's boss hates me even more since I found two of his people stalking me and let them railroad me where they wanted so I could get more."

"Why am I only now hearing about this, Xander?  You never called for backup?" Daniel asked.

"I asked the locals.  The FBI locals even," he said with a proud grin.  "They're very unhappy that we're all so wild and unsuitably mistrained in the proper protocol from the book."  Daniel and Mac both snorted at that.  "But they're having a very good day with the human mafia thugs that were going to help.  Apparently one of the lesser families married in without realizing it."  He smirked at Horatio.  Then at his boss.  "I don't think it's on YouTube either.  I was a good boy."

"No matter what they say?" Daniel guessed.

"The two bodyguards got a bit ...grabby.  Pity.  But I was good otherwise."

"Uh-huh.  Should I get the report from them or you?" Daniel asked.

Xander beamed.  "I did it in their office and they're still probably complaining.  I told the boss there I couldn't be a cowboy, I didn't have a hat."  He got up and wobbled off.  "I'm going to sleep now.  I could use a nap since it wasn't for sex."

"Go nap in the infirmary."  Xander made a whining noise.  "Tough.  Now."

"I'm only a bit bruised, Danny.  I promise."  He went to his own bed.  He liked his bed.  It  was a very nice bed.  When Wilson sent Sheppard and Tiff to break in to get him to the infirmary he could sedative dart them.  It was a good plan for the less than evil boy he was today.

Daniel looked over at the door.  "Have we gotten any calls yet?" he called.  Fargo was around somewhere nearby.

"Two from the FBI, one from DC, one from the state capitol.  Why?" he asked cautiously as he walked in.


"I heard.  They're complaining that we don't follow their book.  I pointed out we did demon crimes.  That shut them up pretty quickly, Daniel."

Daniel smirked.  "Good thinking, Fargo.  Anything else I should hear?"

"The more local office is faxing over the report Xander did and wants us to go pick up our demons, and I rephrased that for politeness, so we can charge them."

"We can do that this morning.  How many?" Mac asked before eating a bite of food.

"Nine."  Horatio moaned, shaking his head.  "They have another few there for human crimes."  He sat down.  "I said we'd be there by noon.  It's a two and a half hour trip."

Daniel nodded.  "That'll work.  Go armed, Horatio."  He nodded at that.  "Take Tony with you.  They like him since he was NCIS."

"Yes, Daniel.  Tony?"  He looked up from where he was reading the paper.  "We're on prisoner pickup this morning from the FBI."

"Is that why Xander came in looking tired but happy?"

"Demon mafia," Mac told him then stuffed his mouth again before he said more than that.  He looked at Horatio.  "Do you think Xander has any idea how dangerous they really are to him?"

Horatio considered it then nodded.  "Probably.  He knew he had a bounty on him, right?"  Mac nodded.  "Then quite possibly."  Jack and Daniel were both giving him a very strange look.  "For stopping things back in high school.  Most of them know they can't get it so they're ignoring it like he is."

"That boy needs a common sense implant," Jack complained.

Daniel looked at him.  "Are you sure you're not related to Xander, Jack?"  The others who heard laughed.  "That sounds scarily like something you would do."

"Me?" he said dryly.  "What about you?  Snake baiting come to mind, Danny?"

Dawn walked in and sprinkled something on the floor before staring at them.  "Let's let the spells dissipate," she said dryly.  "Before I have to smack you both around for being butts."  She walked off again, going to drop more of the stuff around the base.

"Damn, I thought this was our normal fight," Jack said dryly.  Daniel cracked up, shaking his head while he laughed.

Wilson walked in.  "I saw Dawn spreading stuff?"

"Anti-spell," Horatio told him.

"Oh, good, so no work then."

"No, Xander came back bruised from a demon mafia run-in last night," Mac told him.  "He's probably in his bed."

"I'll tell House his son is warping others again."  He called him to tell him that.  That way House could check on him before he came in to eat.

House came in a few minutes later.  "Few scratches, few bruises, a bruised cheek, looks like he got backhanded, and he's pouty that we won't let him sleep."  He sat down in his usual seat, letting Abby fill his plate for him.  "Thank you.  Why are you in maternal fussy mode today?" he asked her dryly, giving her a pointed look.

"She's not," McKay said firmly.

"Thank you, God," Jack O'Neill said loudly.  "That kid will drive me nuts."

"So instead we'll let Jon babysit?" Danny asked, picking up his last piece of toast to walk out with before Jack could quit spluttering.

"No respect," Jack complained, shaking his head.

Abby looked over at him.  "Hate to tell you, Jack, but you're not as good of a comedian as he was."  Jack glared at her but she just smirked back.  "When it does happen, we might let your mini-you sit the baby but it'll be far in the future.  He'll be in uniform by then."

"Doing things to drive other people insane," House quipped.

Dawn came back to spread more of the powder, stopping to give House a hug around the head.  "You're a good grandpa, House."  She walked off again.

He glared at her back.  "Upstart young'une," he complained, cracking Wilson up.  "If you're like Xander's sister, then you'd be my stepkid, not my granddaughter, Dawn."

"Not at your age," she shot back from the hallway.

"Guys in their seventies have fathered kids.  I'm not nearly that old," House shouted back.

Dawn leaned back in.  "First, eww, who'd sleep with someone that old?  And secondly, are you sure?  Sometimes you sound like those grumpy old men.  Now be a good grandpa and snuggle Uncle Wilson there so you remember what young, fun times were like.  Both of you could use that remembrance."

"Should you enforce that, I get to paddle you until you beg," Dean warned from behind her.

"Oh, please!  Like I need to?"  She walked off.  "Working on an anti-nagging spell."

"Whatever," he decided, going in to eat.  Once everyone had been shooed in by Dawn she came in to put down more dust and they all finished feeling happier.

"Hey, Dawn, who did that one?" Abby asked.

"Some cranky bitch of a demon whore that's in my college English class.  She's mostly illiterate outside two demon languages.  But hey, apparently they pay well since she drives a Mercedes.  Poorly but she has one."  She grabbed a soda to go back to her apartment.  She had class today.

"I wonder if she's being literal," Brenda muttered.  John scowled at her.  "I didn't know there was a demon brothel by the college."

"Better a brothel instead of the guy who was randomly offering people in LA tentacle sex a few weeks back that we saw," Gwen said dryly.  "Because eww."  She smacked herself on the forehead.  "I'm starting to talk like Dawn.  I've got to quit being infected that way.  I'm not a SoCal glamor girl."

"You could be," Amber offered with a grin.

"No, I'd have hives from the shopping.  Not to mention the hair dye."  She stuffed her mouth again.  "Hey, Tiff, want to do some PT with us today?"

"Dean does PT," she reminded her.  "I just do mine with the military guys instead."

"See you for that," she promised, getting a grin back.  John Sheppard walked in with his coffee mug.

"Aww, long night?" Tiff teased.

"Hell yes."  He sat down, glaring around.  "Who was that noisy last night?"

"Sorry, probably his porn," Chase said with a point at House.  "He's trying to be as young as Xander is again."

"If he throws his back like he did the last time, we'll handle it," Wilson reminded him, making Chase smirk evilly since House couldn't see it.

"Philistines," House complained.

"Not really," Chase said.  "I'm still Australian."

Wilson snickered, shaking his head.  "I noticed the wombat coming back out," House shot back.  "Missing having fur?"

"Maybe he's not a wombat, House.  Maybe he's a Tasmanian Devil or something," Kim called.

"I'd get dizzy," Chase assured her, cracking the girls up.  "I'd be something more cuddly than dangerous."  Wilson gave him an amused look.  "I tried for dangerous back in high school and couldn't pull it off.  I was never that sort of cool."

"Pity," House said smugly.  "I can still pull it off."

"You get it from your son," Wilson said, shoving a forkfull of food into House's mouth before he could retort.

"I'm not sure if Xander can be that sort of bad boy," Brenda admitted.  "I wonder if the vampire him in that AU world that Cordelia created was a leather boy like Spike can be."

John handed her a donut.  "Go nap, Brenda.  I'll excuse you from PT."  He patted her.  She huffed off because she knew that was an order.  And well, she needed a nap anyway.  The baby had kept her up last night.  Again.

"From what Rupert's journal said," Dean said from his seat.  "He had a faint impression of leather pants and the tank top/overshirt look for a vampire Xander.  So still not really a bad boy.  Though there are some demon calendars that have somehow found a picture of Xander in gray leather pants and a black top that shows off his muscles very well.  Someone sent Sammy a picture of it to encourage him to take Xander into hand so he could win on the betting board."  He stuffed his mouth with the muffin he had been buttering.

Sam leaned over to look at him.  "Were you in my email again?"

"No, Rebecca saw it when she walked behind you and told me."  He grinned at the mini-slayer.  She was five and liked to tattle.

Sam shook his head with a small sigh.  "It was a good picture."

"When was it made?" Gwen asked.

"Before he got that big scar on his left arm."

"He got that during the Glory stuff," Gwen said.  "I asked."  He nodded.  "So maybe his roadtrip?"

"Maybe," Sam agreed with a small smile.  "You'd have to ask him.  I know someone else got that picture and there's probably a few more floating around."

"We'll pounce him when he gets up," Gwen decided.  No one had been naughty around her in *months* and she was getting bored.

"John, did Xander have to yell and scream in Cleveland?" Anna asked.

"Not that much.  Only the one girl that was dating some scuzzy demon that wasn't good for her," Dean told her.  "Xander even told her if she found a nice one it'd be okay but not to date the criminal kind."

John looked at his son.  "I still don't like that attitude.  Dating is fine.  Dating demons?  For a slayer?  Wouldn't that be a conflict?"

"Not if they're from a peaceful species," Sam reminded him.  "Then they probably wouldn't be posing a problem unless they decided to go criminal.  Which hers was and did by being the leader of a theft ring."

"Fine.  As long as no one else minds."

The other girls all shrugged.  Some of the girls in Cleveland were a bit strange.  They all knew that.  Look at who had gotten crabs that time.  Twice in a few cases.


Xander made it in for lunch and everyone seemed a bit nervous.  He sipped his first soda of the day, looking around.  "What?" he asked finally when they kept stealing glances at him.

"That one with the egg got hurt," Daniel told him.

"Are they going to be all right or are we adding a charge of domestic assault?"

"One of the other demons there tried to hurt the egg.  He stopped them but he got pretty bruised up.  Chase made sure the egg's with him in the infirmary."

"And the one who did it?"

"Got extra charges.  The one who was driving stuck up for him because he hadn't known and had turned down the job due to the egg.  They're discontent to say the least but we're not sure if they need a group cell or not."

"I'm going to go with not," Xander said.  "And if he's not being charged, he and the egg won't be down there."

"They don't think that the rest of the clan will take them in."

Xander considered it.  "Then go talk to the clan matron that's up the highway and ask her advice.  She's been around nearly forever."

"That's not a bad idea," Danny decided.  "Can you?  Since you know more than I do?"

"Sure.  Anna?"  She perked up.  "Are you presently grounded?"

"Nope."  She beamed.  "I didn't get into trouble all weekend."

"Good.  Go pull me out some clothes and put some on."  She nodded, inhaling the rest of her lunch to do that.  "How soon will Chase be releasing him?"

"About six hours he thinks."

"That's cool."  He finished up and took his glass of soda back with him.  He clearly needed to be more awake to drive.  He got dressed and came out buttoning his shirt, crookedly since the young slayer huffed at him.  He glared weakly.  She smirked and he got to swat her for trying to help.  "Go fix your hair.  Be a girl today."  He redid his shirt and found his better shoes, toeing into them.  She came out and he pointed, making her go refix it so it wasn't spiky and awkward.  They took an official SUV, him deciding Anna couldn't drive when she asked.  He pulled up in front of the matriarch's house, noticing the bad signs of a funeral.  "Crap."

She got out and walked up to the door guard.  "We hadn't heard that the matriarch died," she said quietly.  "I'm sorry we're interrupting."

The guard stared at her.  "It's her sister, slayer.  Is it official business?"

"More a mercy thing.  We don't want to intrude."  Xander came up behind her.

"Knight."  Xander nodded back.  "Let me ask.  Why come to her?"

"One of the ones we arrested yesterday needs to be set free but he had turned down the job and had to protect his egg.  We're not sure if any of his clan will take him in.  We wanted her advice."

"It may be something she can help with then."  He went inside to whisper in her ear.  She nodded and he walked them inside.  "Them, Matriarch."

"I know of them.  Slayer, knight."

"I'm sorry you lost her, Matriarch.  I know it sucks when you lose family."

She smiled.  "It does but we're an old group of girls, dear.  Some day I hope you can say the same."  She beamed at that.  "Which type?"  Xander sat down to tell her what had happened, and Anna filled in what had happened while he had been sleeping.  She considered it.  "There are a few locally who aren't part of a clan.  Mostly because they didn't want to do what their clan wanted them to do.  By him protecting his egg, he put himself in the same situation.  I can ask one."

"Please.  We don't want him or his egg to come to harm.  That's why I made sure his egg was kept with him," Xander said quietly.

"As is proper."  She patted him on the hand.  "Rothschild?" she called.  One of that sort of demon came out of the kitchen.  "One of your kind needs some help at the base, child."

"Yes, Matriarch.  What sort of help?"

"They used him as a mule when he had turned down a job.  He decided to protect his egg," Xander told him.

"The rumors are already starting about him.  They were stupid to attack him over the egg.  Still, the clans are rule bound idiots at times."

"He's not being charged," Xander told him.  "He'll be released from the infirmary in a few hours."

He nodded.  "Bring him to me, Agent Harris.  I will gladly take him into my home at least temporarily.  Then we'll see if he can fit."  Xander nodded.  "Or should I come up?"

"Whichever is easier for you."

He looked at the Matriarch.  "Perhaps you should.  He's got to be scared in the infirmary.  It is staffed by humans and he does have to worry about his egg."

"Then I can."

"I can drive you if you want," Xander offered.

"I can follow.  I drove over today.  Let me tell my wife."  He smiled and Anna shook hands, getting a pat on the head.  The girl was nearly precious even if she was human and not properly hatched.  They left for the base.  He looked at the matriarch.  "Perhaps that one will be healthy for a long time.  It's said that they have worked with healers."

"All innocent young are a credit to the community," she agreed with a smile.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem, Matriarch."  He called his wife on his way to his sedan.  The gate guard waved him through so apparently they had told him he was coming.  Anna was waiting to take him down to the infirmary.  "Mr. Harris is busy?"

"Getting chewed a new one by someone in the FBI because he was out having some stress relief last night when some mafia type guys, human and demon, jumped him."  He gaped in horror at what she said.  She grinned.  "So Xander beat 'em up and handed them over.  They're not happy."

"I'm sure they're not."  He considered that.  That made the agent very strong or very stupid - the community was split about which one it was.  He walked into the infirmary, finding his clansman.  The egg was nestled against his side.  Under the arm with the IV.  He checked him over then the egg.  "She feels healthy," he said quietly.  The demon gave him a weak smile.  "Is he this ill?"

"We gave him a mild painkiller and it seems to have made him a bit sleepy," Chase admitted.  "We checked with the book the healer gave us to make sure his kind could take it first."

"That's fine then."  He smiled.  "I have a home and a wife.  You're welcome to my guest room until you can get back on your feet.  All eggs are blessings."  The demon relaxed and gave him a goofy grin.  "You're very sated on that drug, brother."

"It feels nice.  I can't feel my toes but I feel nice."  He grinned again.  "They said I can go rest in a few hours."

"That's good.  You can come rest with us."  He patted him on the arm.  "The egg looks perfectly healthy."

"I asked if we should ultrasound it for him and he said no," Chase offered.

"The sound waves could hurt the young.  Beyond that, most of us don't want to know what we looked like before we hatched.  It's usually a bit strange and might ...freak us out I believe the human expression is."  Chase grinned at that.  "There's no cracks that I can feel and the child feels healthy."  Chase nodded.  "May I?"

"Of course.  There's a pull curtain around him and a chair in the corner if you want it."  He left them alone.

The demon smirked at him.  "They're very attentive."


"Clearly."  He pulled the chair over.  "Tell me what happened.  That way we can tell your natal clan the truth and get them to leave you alone."  The demon sighed but told him the whole story.  It wasn't pretty but clearly not this one's fault.  Especially since he had turned down the job.  He would let his wife talk to the other clan's wife.  His wife could nag anyone into seeing sense, or her version of it anyway.


"College, ick," Tiff complained.  She was staring at her brand new laptop and the education classes she had wanted to do.  She read the first one and nearly pouted.  She hated classwork.

Brenda looked over at her.  "Feel lucky that you're not going to regular classes in high school again."

"I am.  That's too weird and I'd feel bad for myself.  Speaking of, are you okay after today?  I heard some of the kids got mean."

"One of the others reminded them why I'm stuffed up and they're all leaving me alone now.  Which kinda sucks.  None of my friends from last year will talk to me now."  She pouted.  "I feel like I'm an outcast and I didn't even participate in any of the naughtiness."

Tiff gave her a pat on the arm.  "It'll be fine, Brenda.  I promise it will.  If they won't talk to you because of a minor thing like a mystical pregnancy then they're probably not good friends."

"I know.  Still sucks."

"Trade ya homework for homework?"

"That's cheating.  Sam would spank."

"Yeah, which would really suck," she agreed.  Tiff sighed, looking over her homework again.  "I'm going for a walk," she decided, but at least she took it with her.  Maybe being outside would help her want to do it more.  Who knows.  She had wanted to be in the lab a lot when she had been in the field on Atlantis.  She ran into McKay outside, earning a strange look.  "The new classes suck."

"They do not," he sighed impatiently.  "The same as your last ones didn't."

"Yes it did.  You're crap at teaching French, Rodney."

"Fine, whatever.  Sit down and do the first few lessons to get it over with."

"Fine."  She went to find a nice place to sit.  Maybe the barn?  That way she could pet Binky while she worked?

"Try the picnic tables," he called after her.  "Not the barn.  It might ruin the laptop."  Tiff grumbled all the way to the tables but he had to smile.  She had moments like this through most of her education.  Abby joined him after a quick hug to the huffy slayer.  Then they went to cuddle in their apartment, and possibly keep House up again.  They did enjoy doing that.

Tiff looked up from her grumbling about freshman english when she felt someone join her.  He was dark, handsome, and smiling at her in a way that made her feel gooey inside.  "Hi," she said with a smile.  "New to the base?"

"Yes I am."

Someone shot him, making him scream and fade out.  "No higher demons on base," Dean called.  "Stupid fucker."  He went back to the slayer dorm.

Tiff shook her head.  "Why do guys like that like me?" she complained.

"Because they're guys and you're pretty?" a smooth voice said from behind her.

She looked back at one of the chemists.  "Since he was a demon, who knows.  Right?"  She went back to work.  "McKay and Abby already turned in for the night if you were looking for them."

"No, I was more looking for something to do."  He moved closer.  "Classwork?"

"Yeah, freshman english sucks," she told him.

"We all had to do it, my dear."

She looked back at him.  "If this is the start of hitting on me, Sheppard said everyone had to be vetted by him and Ronon."

"They are a bit overprotective of you."

"Should've seen the scowling when we went for Abby's wedding and I flirted."  She got back to her homework.  She felt something touch the back of her neck and stiffened but she fell over because she was paralyzed.

"That nasty english won't bother you anymore," he soothed, shutting down the laptop.  He smiled at the soldier walking his way.  "She's so tired she fell asleep working."

"That can happen," he agreed.  He helped pick her up and walked her back toward the dorms.  Not the slayer dorm but the other dorm.  Tiff was mentally swearing because now she had two of them to defeat once she got her body back.

"I believe we need to be in the short-term building," the first guy said.

"Really?  Because I'm not."  He shot the chemist and kept carrying her off.  At least until he collapsed under the weight of the tackle.

"So not wise," Mary told him.  "GUARDS!" she bellowed.  "Rapist on the base!"  Guards, Dean, John, Xander, Daniel, and a few others came running.  "He was carrying her off to one of the dorms.  She's not responding.  And I saw him shoot that guy," she aid with a point at the other one.

"Let us handle it," John ordered.  He checked Tiff over.  "She's stunned or something.  Can't move."

"Move," House snapped, getting John out of his way.  He saw the oil spot on her neck, sniffing it.  "It's a paralytic.  One of the herbal things we have samples of in the infirmary for surgery."  John hauled her up with a groan.  "Bed down there, now.  Have the nurse start bloodwork before I get down there.  Let me make sure that one will die before I come down."

"I have him, House," Chase said.  "Go with her."  House nodded, going down there.  He finished putting on the primary bandage.  "Infirmary, make sure he's in cuffs.  We'll be taking him in to surgery before we release him to the officers."  The other one got woken up.  "What did you think you were doing?" he demanded.

"I was only taking her to put her to bed.  She fell asleep at the table."

"She's a slayer.  She sleeps in the slayer dorm," Mary said firmly.  "Or she's in the temp dorm with her watcher, Sheppard.  If she had wanted you, she would've been walking beside you."

"It's romantic," he complained, rubbing his head.  "What did you do?"

"I knocked your stupid butt out," she said firmly.  "Because you were trying to hurt someone.  I should kick your ass but you're beneath me.  I don't want to do PT for being a bully."  She walked off with a sneer.

"Someone should beat humility into her," he complained.

Dean smiled as he pulled him away from Chase, beating the shit out of him before he got pulled off by McKay.  "Oh, come on.  He deserves it."

"Yes he does," he agreed, laying into the idiot himself.  Sheppard got called by Abby, coming out to pull him off the idiot and get a few of his own blows in before dragging the physicist off to the infirmary to get some ice packs for his hands and to sit with Tiff.

Abby stared at him, touching something in her pocket.  "You know, I didn't think any of you guys were that bad up there.  I thought they had weeded all the idiots out and used them as cannon fodder or something else equally important.  Guess I was wrong."

Xander looked at her.  "Abby, stabbing him won't help her any.  Go sit with her.  She's surrounded by guys.  She'll probably want a girl there when she comes around."  She nodded, stomping off.  "On the other hand, I can make sure you never touch a young girl again," he said bluntly, staring down at him.  "It'd be my pleasure to make sure you never touch another girl again."  The man tried to crawl away from him but that wasn't going to happen.

"Harris," O'Neill said.  "Let me.  He's mine, we have laws to handle this, he will be having a hard time in prison when they do it to him there."

Xander stared at him then nodded once.  "Just one shot, Jack?"

"No.  We'll let Carter zat him for her if she wants.  That's up to Tiff to decide."  Xander backed off at that.  "Go be a big brother."  He nodded, going to check on the other girls.  He stared at him.  "Don't worry, I didn't save you from him for any reason beyond the fact he wouldn't save me any."

"Jack," Daniel warned.  "Start the process.  If it fails, then he's a playtoy."  He stared him down.  "Before I have to stop you and then he can charge you," he said more quietly.

Jack grimaced but nodded.  "I know the system is that crooked."

"If she had been actually hurt, I'd look the other way.  You know that, but for right now, he needs to hit a jail cell.  In town."  Jack nodded.  "While we call JAG."

"Got it."  He went to make that call.  "Boys, arrest him and put him in a spot for the locals to get him for us."  They dragged the guy off moaning.

Daniel took a deep breath.  "I forgot what sort of temper they have," he said quietly, going to check on Xander.  "Xander, has anyone hurt one of the girls?"


"Good.  If there's even a hint, I want to know so *I* can investigate it."  Xander nodded at that.  "All of you girls know when someone's creepy that way.  Let us know.  That way we can handle it for you."

"If one of them attacks you without warning, kick their asses and call for help," Xander ordered.  They all nodded.

Mary raised her hand.  "Her watcher should be with her, right?"

Xander looked at her.  "She has one?"

"Isn't that what John is to her?" she asked.

He considered it.  "Yeah, I guess he kinda is.  Beyond that, he's like a big brother to her so yeah he should be with her.  That's a good thing to ask him about though, thanks, Mary."  He frowned, going to talk to John.  He walked into the infirmary, watching as the guy going to surgery was wheeled off.  "John, someone pointed something out to me."  Sheppard glared at him.  "You're doing the work, you should have the benefit of the lesser paperwork we demand."

"What?" he demanded.

"He just said that Mary pointed out you're her watcher," Abby told him.  "Which means a weekly report if she has to handle something and possibly a second paycheck."  She patted him on the arm.  "Plus it means you've got a free reason to hang around and let the younger ones stare at you."

McKay smiled.  "You are good at nagging her about her training and things."

"That's a hell of a jump out of nowhere."

Xander shrugged.  "Mary pointed it out."  He stared at him.  "So?  Should I give you the paperwork?  Outside of the two senior girls and Brenda's future hellion, she'll be the only one with a personal watcher."

"Why me and not Ronon?"

"You seem to have the right reflexes down.  You do get to nag her about her training and things.  You already care for her well being.  You're basically doing the job without too much demon hunting, which isn't her forte anyway, and she seems to have chosen you.  A watcher is a slayer's first line of backup, defense, and added family.  You seem to be doing the job.  Would you like the paycheck to go along with it?"

"Does it mean I have to take more lessons on the strange and creepy from Sam?"

"And languages somehow," he agreed.  "Or you could nominate your team as her official hunting team and make them do it.  Not like Abby doesn't know half of them somewhat already."

John looked at the girl then nodded with a small sigh.  "I hate paperwork and reports."

"Small report once a week on what she handled and how.  If there's something bigger going on we need to know.  Plus you get to nag her about her shopping habits or her allowance if she's blowing it on stupid things."

John smirked.  "I already seem to do that."

"Good.  Then come get the paperwork tomorrow.  That one guy Mary pounced got arrested by the town guys so the officials over you guys can have him but he won't be on base."

John nodded.  "That's fine."

"If he gets out we get him," Abby assured him.  "Even Danny said so."

"Even better."  John folded his arms over his chest.  "Mary deserves a reward."

"She's getting it."  Xander smirked back.  "The girls are fussing over her since they know Tiff will run and hide if they try to do it to her.  See me sometime tomorrow."  He walked off after whispering in Tiff's ear.  Yeah, they could handle it.

John looked at Tiff.  "I knew there was a reason I was going to complain to you about classwork."

"She was complaining about her own," Abby said dryly.  "Speaking of, Rod, go find her laptop."  He went to do that.  She patted John on the arm.  "I nearly stabbed him."

"I was going to puncture organs but do it by hand," he admitted.  He looked at her, getting a smile back.  "If he gets free, we'll destroy him down to the cellular level."

Radek rushed in.  "I heard the mouthy one nearly got hurt.  Is she all right?  Why is she not moving?" he demanded in Czech.

"Easy," Abby said, catching his arm.  "We got the guy who tried to hurt her.  They used something like our surgical paralytic.  Get me a swab so I can find out.  The first guy was a chemist."  He nodded, going to get one for her.  She swabbed the spot.  "There, go run it."  He scowled.  She stared.  "It takes ten minutes and she's got about an hour before she comes out of it, Radek.  Even with slayer healing."

"Fine, I will run this then come right back."  He walked off to do that for her.   He'd miss the mouthy little slayer on base.  She made all sorts of people fuss over her and ignore everyone else for a bit.

Abby settled in on one of the chairs, staring at her.  "We've got to make sure no one else will be doing that."

"That's not a problem," John assured her dryly.  "I can yell better than nearly anyone."  They waited.  Radek came back with the chemical analysis.  It wasn't their formula but it had the same ingredients.  Chase took it with a smile and let them fuss.

John looked at the hallway when he heard running feet.  "What's wrong?" he asked his second-in-command.

"Harris just pulled everyone together to chew us a new one and one guy got the hell beaten out of him.  We need one of the docs above the training building."

"What did he do?" Rodney asked.  "We know why he yelled," he said at the opening mouth.  He pointed at Tiff.  "One of our chemists and one of the soldiers."

"Oh, shit," Evan muttered.  John nodded, looking smug.  "The sergeant said that the girls were pretty and no one would mind if they told him yes.  Someone pointed out that no one told him yes, he was too brutal and left bruises.  The guy sneered and said every woman liked it that way.  To ask Gwen.  Gwen was behind Xander and she shook her head, saying she hadn't touched him and she wouldn't be touching him because he was, as she put it, a douche.  He made a move on her.  Xander beat him badly, Sheppard."

"That saves me from doing it," he assured him.  "Haul him down here."

"We think Harris broke some of his ribs."

"Pity."  Evan nodded, going to tell them that.  "I'll be stopping that tomorrow."  Tiff moaned.  He moved closer, staring down at her.  "Didn't I tell you to make those noises about Radek or Rodney so they'd blush?" he asked when her eyes started to move.

She held up one shaky finger.  "Don't care."

"I know you don't.  Xander just beat up on someone else for it too."  He pushed her hair back.  "You rest.  Let me go yell and rant."  She nodded, smiling slightly.  "It doesn't get you out of freshman english," he teased.


"Xander just gave him a second job," Abby said.

Tiff blinked.  "I heard."  She looked at John.  "You okay with that?  It means I get to be your little sister for a very long time."

"Of course you were before that.  Now I get paid for watching you shop," he said sarcastically, making her laugh.  "You rest.  Let me see that idiot who got his ass kicked."  He walked out, passing by them.  "Chase and Wilson are in there."  He got out of the way, looking at Xander.  "Did we have a good reason?"

"Yeah, he tried to grab Gwen.  Sorry as hell about him," he said, staring at him.

"If he's like that I don't want him on my project, Xander.  You know that.  Let me see if there's any evidence."  He walked off, going to check the guy's footlocker and gear bag.  "Hit the meeting area," he yelled as he walked in.  "We're searching and I don't want to have gawkers.  We'll talk in a minute."  The rest of the guys in the room fled.  They'd seen his temper before.  John found a journal and flipped through it, finding some disgusting pictures.  A few didn't look too willing.  He walked the journal and pictures out to the meeting area.  "Anyone know about this and not share this fact?" he asked, waving the journal.

"I saw him with one of the locals," one said.  "He was being pushy but our team leader distracted him, Colonel."

"Which team was he on?"


"She's dead from the last thing," he sighed.  The guy nodded.  "Any proof he's hurt anyone on Atlantis?"

"No, sir.  Not that we're aware of.  Do we think there's more?"

"If there is, what he got from Harris will look like a trip to the park," he said bluntly.  "I will not stand it.  It will not happen.  If we think it is or will be an issue I am to know immediately.  Am I clear?"  They all nodded.  "Good!  Morning meeting to go over the conduct unbecoming statutes since some people have forgotten them."  They all nodded.  "Hit your bunks.  Dean's still got PT tomorrow and he's not a happy camper at the moment either."  He walked over to O'Neill's apartment since his lights were on.  He knocked, holding up the journal when the door was answered.  "I searched his gear.  Xander said he tried to make a move on Gwen.  The pictures inside are a bit disturbing."

"The guy is where?"

"Having x-rays taken for possible broken ribs."

"Good."  He flipped through, coming to the first picture.  "Have the MP's arrest him.  I'll have the officer coming for the other ones get him too."  John nodded.  "You going to follow up Xander's talk with them?"

"First thing tomorrow before PT.  I made my point it would not happen or I'd make what he did look like a picnic."

"Good.  You and me both.  Make sure I'm there."

"Yes, sir."  He saluted and walked off.  He came back.  "By the way, Xander's paying me a second paycheck as a watcher now."  He walked off again.

"Is he paying you backpay for the last few years?" he called after him.  "Not like you didn't do the job, Sheppard."  He closed his door, calling the agent back.  "It's O'Neill again.  We found another one.  He tried to make a move on a slayer during a butt chewing.  Harris kicked his butt good."  He smirked.  "Infirmary on base.  Going into custody immediately."  He nodded.  "I'll meet you there."  He hung up and put the journal into a bag, sealing it shut.

John walked into the infirmary.  "Guys, he's in official custody by orders of General O'Neill."

The MP nodded.  "As soon as he's out of the machine I'll handcuff him to the bed, Colonel."

"Thank you.  He said someone's coming for him and the two."

Chase smiled.  "That'll be such fun I'm sure."

John smirked back.  "Morning ass chewing, guys.  Make sure everyone's there.  If I have to hunt, they'll hate it even more."  The MP nodded at that.  "Good."  He walked back to Tiff's side, looking at her.  "Faker," he teased with a smile.

"They want me to rest."

"Good.  Please do.  You have more slayer dreams let me know."

"Of course."  She let Abby tuck her in better.  That way Abby could take Rodney and go fuss at him.  John sat down beside her.  "I'm okay."

"I think it's part of the job description."

"I wouldn't know.  Never had one."  She looked at him.  "I'm safe."

He nodded.  "I can nap in here just as easily, Tiff."

"Fine.  Don't complain about sore necks."

"I'll curl up on the next bed if I have to."  She groaned, flipping onto her side away from him.  He put his feet up and grabbed a nearby magazine.  It might be a long day tomorrow but he'd had worse he was sure.


Gibbs walked a stack of folders up to Sheppard, handing them over.  "Notes from classwork with Thomas and Sam.  You'll need 'em.  Especially with the languages.  Some of them make *no* sense."

"Thanks for the warning."

Gibbs smiled.  "You'll do fine.  A lot of it is basically being a supportive big brother and watching her back.  You do that naturally.  Ronon would make a scarier watcher but then she'd pout forever about never getting to have a boyfriend."

"Not that I'm inclined to let her date scuzzy guys, but she might have one sometime."

Gibbs nodded.  "I feel the same way about the terror twins Mary and Anna.  The older girls I do background checks on theirs."

"I can see why.  They're dangerous together."

"Yes they are.  Good luck with that."

"Thanks.  How long did it take you?"

"I got what I needed and left the more esoteric and strange things to them.  Hunting, practical things, languages, how to interpret slayer dreams, sword work, crossbow work, more self defense skills."  He shrugged.  "Xander teaches the higher levels of sword and weapons work.  He's mean.  Fair warning, kid.  You'll be bruised for weeks."

"I'll try to avoid that."  Gibbs shook his head.  "Crap."

"It happens.  He usually quips that everyone looks good with a sword."  He walked off.  "Tiff's in your room.  I saw Abby escorting her.  Carter's on base too."

"Thanks for that warning too."  He walked off, taking the folders to his room.  Tiff looked up from her trashy tv show watching.  "Hey."

"Hey.  More homework?"

"Watcher class notes."  He put them down.  "Gibbs gave me his so I'd have a head start."

"That could help.  Sammy's got a huge brain to go along with his fantastic butt."

He smiled.  "You're feeling better?"

"Much.  The girls wanted me over here though."

"That's fine.  You can lounge.  We have PT in an hour."


"That would be mean."

"It'd be safer."

"Carter's on base."

"We can jog with you so the guys don't have to give you worried looks after you chewed them a new one earlier."

"The ones who have nothing to worry about are fine.  Two others decided confessing to their drunken playing around was a good idea.  One other problem person was identified and she's heading for the brig thanks to O'Neill."  He looked at her.  "Let me change."  She grinned.  "You find something to wear too."

"I can jog in these.  They're lycra.  Give me a t-shirt?"  He tossed her one of his and went to the bathroom to change.  She texted Carter that Dean was doing PT in an hour or they could jog now.  Sam said she'd meet them outside the building.  She changed her shirt and slid into her sneakers, bending over to tie them.  He came out in long shorts and a t-shirt, putting on his own sneakers.  "She'll meet us outside."

"That's fine.  Fence, road, or back roads?"


He grinned.  "You're happily easy today."

"They're planting that damn bush."

"Roads," he decided, standing up and hauling her up.  "You sure?"  She punched him on the arm, making him yelp.  "Sure, you're back in fine slayer form."  They walked out, him locking his door.  Carter was outside stretching.  They joined in.  Dean walked behind them.  "We're running."

"That's cool.  The guys are watching the mini slayers practice battle yells with gooey looks on their faces."

John looked at him.  "Announce those who want it can do two hours in the gym or the pool?"

"Hey, a small break," Dean said, smirking at him.  "Have a good run, guys."  They nodded and took off.  Dean went to the practice yard.  "Sheppard said those who want it can do two hours in the pool and gym or run."  Half of the people ran off to do that instead.  He smirked.  "Could be worse, guys.  I started to learn what the girls are leaning at their age."

"Your dad's a harder Marine than some of us are," one quipped.

"Definitely.  We traveled all the time."  They shuddered.  "I learned how to hit and shoot when I was seven."  He finished his coffee.  "Stretch."  The younger slayers came bouncing over.  "This is military PT," he told them.

"So?  We're as good as them," one said, smiling at the guys.  "Can we, Dean?  Please?"

"Go have Brenda help.  She's pouting about the baby.  She does all the beginner training stuff."  They ran off to help her but one stayed long enough to hug him before running off.  He grinned.  "They're good girls," he told the people watching.

"They seem like it."  They finished and started what Dean usually did to them.  It'd be a long hour but a better workout.  They might need it if something happened on base.

They'd heard something was coming and they were some of the best prepared for strange, dangerous actions going on around them.  Look at what they had done before.

The End.

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