Demon Criminal Investigative Services: Misadventure.
Chase looked at Xander's EKG. He had wondered why House had ordered one done for a routine physical. Now he knew. He looked at the young man, who was nearly asleep, and tore off the strip instead to bring it into the office. He checked then shut the door. "You knew?"
"That he's doing at least four jobs to the best of his abilities? Yup." He held out a hand without looking up from his reading. Chase handed over the result strip, earning a frown. "That's not good."
"No, it's not. He's nearly asleep so I left him out there."
House looked at him. "Let me see someone. Let him nap. We'll finish the rest later." He grabbed his cane and stood up, heading up to talk to Daniel and/or Tony. Usually one covered for the other as far as they knew. He found Tony and no Daniel so he guessed that was fine. "Got a few?"
Tony looked at him. "Yes, but Danny probably needs saved from Jack by now." He called him. "It's me. House is looking for someone in admin. You want saved?" He smiled. "Up here." He hung up. "Give him ten to make a gracious exit from the friend who thinks he likes to run at trouble now and then."
"I think he probably understands Xander a bit too well if he does."
"Could be," Tony agreed happily. "He good?"
"No comment since he's handling it."
"Fine." Danny came strolling in. "Him, boss."
"Him? What's up with him?"
"Doing Xander's physical."
"He has four weeks of leave built up. Make him use some," Danny said bluntly. House smirked at him. "He even got frustrated with Dawn and Annabelle the other day. Him and Dean both."
"Can Sammy play too?" Tony quipped. "To get him out of the library before he becomes part of his chair?"
"Sure. I don't see a problem with them taking a few days off too if Wes and Xander don't." He looked at his doctor. "How bad?" He held up the result strip. "I haven't seen one like that since Jack nearly had a heart attack and Janet made him go fishing with Thor. Why does it drop off like that?"
"He's nearly asleep."
"Another thing he's been missing," Danny said dryly.
"Point of order, boss, but prophetic demon who wants to take Sammy and Xander's blocking him?" Tony asked.
Danny grimaced. "We do have some back woods if the boys wanted to go camping I guess."
"No, I want them off base," House said firmly. "Without their cellphones."
"Can't do that," Tony said. "Xander gets into trouble and he'll need to call for help."
"The problem is that demon who wants Sam. The protections on the base keep him from snatching him but we think we've seen it snatching others. It killed everyone in the vicinity." House winced. "So if you can come up with a way to do that?"
"Ward their car?" Tony suggested.
"That could work most of the time. We can talk to John. He'd have to fill in for PT and things anyway."
"That'll work. Anything else I should have to worry about before I send them off for a week?"
"Don't let Xander date," Tony said firmly.
"I don't care if he gets laid or not."
"Yeah but if he dates, only the most evil are attracted to him," Tony said, giving him a look. "As proven many times."
"Fine." He looked at Danny. "That's fine with you?"
"I've hinted a few times when Xander got stressed in the past."
"Good." He walked off, limping slowly toward the elevator. "Conference me in when you talk to John."
"I can do that." He went to find John, then called House's cellphone. "Okay. We're here. John, the boys, all three boys, need a vacation badly and House wants to order Xander on one for a week."
"Is one problem. The second is everyone in the building calling Xander. The third is that they'd be naturally drawn to go hunt or something."
"Not always. Knowing my boys, they could use a few days away from girls they can't hit on. Dean especially. Let them hit Vegas or somewhere. Somewhere quiet or fun."
Danny nodded. "Any idea on the demon?"
"I've been talking to Phoebe. She thinks they can make some sort of protection amulet if we can find the thing's name."
"Sammy found it last month," Danny told him. John moaned. "I've got the report somewhere. I think Dawn has it too just in case since she's shown up in some of the dreams."
"Good to know." He licked his lips. "We can handle it for a week without Xander. I hope."
"There's no prophesied invasion. Short of that we should be able to handle it. Wes, Dawn, and I can research. So can some of the older girls. Sammy's been making them."
"He seemed a bit too happy to be grading papers," John said. He grimaced. "Okay, and then what?"
"Then, they come back relaxed and hopefully don't have a heart attack in one person's case," House said from the phone. "Hold on. Annabelle, let him sleep." A sigh. "Fine, be a teddy bear then, just let him sleep. He hasn't been." They heard a door shut on his end. "Back in the office now. She came wandering in and curled up next to him. He's cuddling. It's so cute I'm going to puke. I don't care where the boys go as long as they don't take calls from us except in emergencies. How long has Xander been running the slayers and everyone else's job?"
"Nearly two years," Danny said. "He got here before Tony did and I got here after the last inauguration." Someone knocked. "Give me a minute, Jack. Policy stuff." He looked at John. "Can you handle it?"
"Yeah, not a problem."
"If we're attacked, are we going to be okay?" Danny asked.
"We should be. Xander's one to jump in but we've got Benny Ray and Matt here plus the rest of his strike team lurking around the floors. We have most of the girls. We should be okay, Danny."
"Good. I don't want to worry but someone will try something."
"Probably the girls sneaking off," he said. "Their next free day is next week."
"Good. They've been stressed too. Need chaperones?"
"If the boys are gone, yes. House?"
"I'll find the biggest needle I can and inject vinegar into your blood stream, Winchester." John laughed at the threat. "Then I'll let all those girls fuss over you."
"They toned it down when I got possessed." He looked at Danny again. "Vegas? Miami?"
"Miami has an open case," Danny said. "Xander would get sucked in."
"Good point. Not LA."
"Vegas is nice," House admitted. "The boys would lose big but it's nice."
"They can go visit the witches," Danny said. "They were nagging Xander to learn how to shield himself instead of relying on the imposed one."
"Xander said if he took up magic it'd be what the Powers were waiting for and they'd whammy him again," John reminded him.
"Good point. Vegas is good."
"Vegas is. Plenty of show girls, shows, and brothels for Dean," John agreed.
"I'll make sure they have condoms," House said smartly. "Would that appeal to the other one?"
"Dean and Sammy will make it," John promised.
"Good." The sound of a door opening. "Go back to sleep, Xander." He shut the door again. "Chase moved too close and woke them up. Annabelle's feeling grumpy and achy again. We're thinking growth spurt."
"She's about the right age for one," John agreed. "We'll get her into a warm bath tonight with some tylenol."
"Good. You do have sense."
"I raised my boys on my own and on the road."
House was smirking, you could hear it in his voice. "You didn't do too bad. Even if Dean is a lech who wants anything with breasts and Sammy is trying very hard to ignore he has needs."
"Dean will fix that too. Sammy lost his girlfriend about six months before Xander found them."
"More than time to get back on the horse then," House advised.
"I'll talk to the boys tonight. Danny, can you make reservations the boys will be paying for?"
"Yup, I can." He hung up. "Thanks, John."
"Welcome. It had to be arranged. That boy could get hurt again and then what would we do?"
"I'd ask Jack to come for a visit," he said with a grin. "He can do a mean Xander impersonation. Or Xander does a really good one of him. Not sure which." He walked out, seeing his friend's unamused look. "You do."
"The dark-haired goofball?"
"That basically runs the lesser things around here."
"Hmm. He going off for a few days? I can stay around for a week or so. The mountain's boring and I'm ignoring Pentagon paperwork."
"Sure, you can stay for a few days." They walked back to his office. "Let me make the reservation for them."
"Xander, Dean, and Sam all need a vacation. If I send Xander out alone he'll get into trouble. Sam too. This way they can watch each other's backs, make sure they're not working on something, that no one's calling to get their help, all that stuff. Hmm, Vegas."
"Should you warn the locals?"
"We have a local liaison in the labs. I'll send him an email in warning." He did that and got back a suggestion for a hotel. "That one looks nice." He made the reservation for two days from now. "Including driving time." He got into the payroll system and cut the next check Xander was owed. Then he called Wesley and Giles on a conference call. "Xander is being told to go on vacation before he dies from the stress, gentlemen. They are going to Vegas. Him, Dean, and Sam. So whoever's doing payroll for your people, cut paychecks for them please. That way they have money to spend on the show girls." He hung up before Giles could do more than splutter. "There we go." He smiled. "Did you like the tour?"
"It's not a bad base. A bit small. I wasn't too sure about the walking shrub."
"That's George. He showed up for sanctuary and adopted the girls and Dean."
"Stranger than I'm used to, Danny."
Danny grinned. "But we have more fun. Like the early days of SGC."
"Uh-huh. Are you trying to recruit Sam?"
"Of course. We could use her in R&D. She'd be even more frustrated than McKay was when he was here for stuff." Jack shuddered. "The girls all hit on Sheppard and him so much, Jack. It was funny watching him run to dinner like he was under assault."
"He told me before he went back. Poor guy."
"The girls are nice. Even if they do pinch and steal underwear now and then." Jack walked off shaking his head and moaning. "It's nearly lunch, I'll be right there." He called Sam's cellphone. "Come see me with your brother." He hung up and leaned back, waiting on him. Dean strolled in first, Sammy behind him. "Congratulations, you're being ordered on vacation."
"Did we mess up?" Dean asked.
"No, Xander has to take one before he dies of the stress and we don't want him to go out alone," Danny said patiently. "You two haven't had one since you got here either. Sam's about to become part of his chair in the library and you've been frustrated with all the girls you can't hit on, Dean." He printed something out. "Don't find the demonic brothel or strip club this time, all right?" He handed it over. "Starts in two days. We're telling Xander in a few minutes. Once he wakes up again. Wes or someone is cutting you guys a check. I'm cutting Xander his. Go play for a week. We've got it and your dad already knows. I checked to make sure he could cover the various duties first." He stood up with a smile. "Now, it's lunch time and I'm sure you guys need to do laundry or something."
"Xander will hate this," Dean told him.
"No he won't. You're all under orders to not answer the phone unless it's an emergency. Am I clear?" They nodded. "Good. Because Xander hasn't had one since Sunnydale started to go. If then."
"Fine," Dean agreed.
"It'll be nice to get off base," Sammy said. "The demon that's hunting me?"
"Phoebe thinks she can make a protective amulet."
"Okay. What does she need?"
"Its proper name. Which you never told your father either."
"I'll get that to him and Dawn tonight so she can send it on. Any other orders?"
"We're missing the field trip next week," Dean told him.
Sam smiled. "I'm sure we'll get pouted at for it. How long?"
"At least a week but under two." They nodded. "Go eat." They went to eat and he closed his office door on the way out, heading down to get his own food. Xander was growling so he pulled him out into the hall. "Stop it." Xander slumped. "You need a vacation."
"Shut up, Xander. You haven't had one since you had to take the girls to safety. Probably longer than that knowing you and how you jump into matters. You, Dean, and Sam are heading to Las Vegas. You already have reservations. I'll have your next check for you tonight. Do not argue with me. Go for a week at least. Come back before two are up." He stared him down, watching him slump more. "This is a medical order," he said more gently. "You're over stressed, you're snapping at the girls, even Dawn, and you need the vacation. We can handle the girls. I already asked John and he said he could do it. Go have some fun. Don't answer your phone unless it's an emergency. I've alerted the local liaison person in case something happens because you three are there. This time, don't find the demonic strip joint." He patted him on the shoulder then went to get some food. He sat down next to Jack and took the bowl from Danny's hand. "Thanks, Messer."
"Welcome. Xander okay?"
"Going on vacation starting tomorrow." They all hissed. "With Dean and Sam, just in case."
"Then they might not get into too much trouble," Ryan joked. "Miami?"
"Vegas," Jack told him.
"Ooooh," Ryan said with a wince "Gambling."
"No you don't," Tim ordered.
"I wasn't going to."
"Thank you." He looked at Danny. "Good choice."
"Not yet. Besides, I hear it sucks." The others laughed. "It would." He looked at Jack then back at the boss. "Are we recruiting non eye candy so the girls leave someone alone?"
"No, a few tried to pinch him too," Danny assured him, making Jack splutter. "One stared and started to stalk until Faith stopped her." That got a few laughs. "But no, Jack's hiding from his paperwork and making sure I'm still sane. He was worried things like George would make me go odd."
"Odder," Jack corrected lightly. "You're already a bit mental, Danny."
"It helps me deal with the panty raids," he shot back. The other guys laughed. "See?"
Jack shook his head. "I should get Sam here to get her help dragging you back."
Danny looked at the girls' table. "Ladies, if Jack drags me off, save me, all right?"
"Of course we are," Faith agreed. "The next guy might have a stick up his butt and then we'd be in real trouble when Xan drove him nuts." The girls all cackled.
"That's a good point. Everyone?" They all looked at him. "Xander, Dean, and Sam are going on vacation tomorrow. Full vacation. We have other people to do most of their jobs. All right?" That got some grumbling but nodding. "Even you girls. Let them have some time off. He hasn't since before Sunnydale fell in."
"Sure," Faith agreed. "We can do that. Just send happy emails every few days to make sure he's all right."
"I can do that," Xander agreed.
"He's only to take calls for emergencies," Danny noted. "As in something no one here can handle."
"Yes, sir," Don sighed. "Then I need research help."
"Talk to me later," Dawn quipped. "I'm not only beautiful but smart." Don smirked at that. "If I can't find it, Wes probably can."
"It sucks that it takes two researchers to equal Sammy," Faith teased.
"Oh, please! I don't live in there and I have other classes. He doesn't at the moment. He gets more time to research than I do." She pushed her hair back. "Where are they headed, just in case something bad is heading for them?"
"Vegas," Dean said with an evil smirk. "I can hear a poker game calling me already."
She looked at him. "If you come back naked because you lost all your clothes, we'll let you pout at us, Dean."
He shook his head. "Hasn't happened yet."
"Uh-huh." She dug in and it was back to mild joking. Even if Xander was unhappy. He needed the vacation.
Greg Sanders smiled as he finished his note. Then he sealed it and handed it to the check in girl at the front desk. "This goes to the Harris and Winchester group that's checking in tomorrow please. That way they know how to find me if they need me."
"Of course, sir. We have their reservations here." That got a smile and he left. She put the note into their box after making sure their names were on it. Then she went to tell her manager and the few other demons on staff to warn them. "Sir?" He looked up from his paperwork. "A new reservation was made a bit ago."
"That's a good thing," he assured her dryly. "High roller?"
"Um, no. Slayer's Council people on vacation." He groaned. "Mr. Harris and both Winchesters, sir."
He considered it. "Harris is known to only hunt those who are hunting or hurting things. The Winchester boys have been pretty inactive as far as I've heard."
"They've been training the girls. My sister lives out that way and said their father was heading out to help them do so after he caught them at the invasion."
"The local DCIS liaison left a message on how to get in touch with them if they needed to but he didn't seem like they'd need to."
"So probably a vacation then." She nodded. "We'll be nice around them. I'll make sure their maid isn't a demon in case she wakes them up. By the rumors we'll want to warn valet parking to make sure their car isn't harmed or the trunk touched."
"I can do that. Should we upgrade them?"
"No. They'd know that we have a high demon population here if you did. Treat them like any other guest. If they cause problems we'll call the local liaison officer ourselves." She nodded and left, leaving him to make contingency plans in case one of his people got stupid and attacked the hunters. Because that would not be good for their reputation.
Xander walked out in the morning with his bags, frowning at the car lot. "I can rent one in town," he decided quietly.
"Get in the car, dude," Sam ordered behind him, giving him a nudge. Xander gave him a confused look. "Now. Right now." He walked him that way, letting Dean take his bags. "Talking about renting a car."
Dean snorted. "My baby would be upset and offended if you did, Xander." Xander gave him a sheepish grin but it was good. "Now, let's head before the girls get up. We'll get there later tonight and it'll be nice."
"Sure. Um..." He checked his wallet then headed back inside. He found his last few checks and the one Danny had cut specially, walking out with them. Dean was counting their stash as well. Sam gave the envelopes a dirty look. "Not like I use most of them. I don't have to pay rent and things."
"The bank's not open yet but I'm sure there's somewhere in Las Vegas we can get a federal paycheck cashed."
"We have one on the dashboard and we can do the same thing," Dean agreed. He got Xander into the back and shut the door so he couldn't escape then climbed and started the car, letting her warm up for a few minutes. "Did you want to steal breakfast and lunch?" Sammy went to do that for them. Including sodas and snacks for later. "Good." He checked the bag, smiling at it. "She remembered." He handed one back to Xander. "Do not spill anything." He backed out of their parking spot and headed off, waving at the gate guard on the way out. It had been too long since he'd been in his car with his brother. He had missed being on the road. Even if DCIS was a cherry assignment.
"Those girls are going to pout," the guard muttered, but he made note of when they left in case someone asked. Because someone probably would while pouting.
Xander walked into the resort first, frowning at something. "Is that?"
Sam looked then nodded. "It is." They shared a look and sighed. Somehow Danny had put them into a demon friendly place. Dean walked in so Sammy pointed at the sign for him.
"Yeah, I saw last night when I looked it up. They're neutral and have an anti-violence charm." Xander relaxed and smiled at that good news. "So we're good. We won't be spending much time here anyway." They headed to the desk with their bags. "I do not like valet parking," he told his brother.
"They'll take very good care of her, Dean. It was the only option available unless you wanted to find a public garage and park her."
Xander looked at him. "I'm sure they will." He watched the desk check in girl straighten herself out. "Hi."
"Mr. Harris. Misters Winchester. Welcome to the Bravado." They all grinned back. "I'm here to assure you that we are a neutral place. We have warned the valet to take extra special care of your car and to not touch the trunk unless you are present, Mr. Winchester." She smiled at Xander. "We heard you were coming in on vacation?" Xander nodded. "Then let me get our local activity guides for you." She got them the local guides with the coupons and handed them over. "Here you go. Including some nice specials for when you go out. Let's get you checked in." She did that and Xander paid her in cash. "That's fine. We usually want a card to go on the account for any overages." Xander handed over his. She ran it and handed it back. "There we go. All set for a week. If there's anything we can do, let us know immediately. Oh, a letter was left for you." She got it for him and handed it over. "The local liaison officer left this."
Sammy opened it once he had plucked it from Xander's hands. "Contact information in case we need it but he said there hasn't been any problems in about six months so we shouldn't need to find him." He tucked it into his pocket. "Thank you. Let's go nap for tonight, guys. We've got time to find trouble." They all nodded and let the bellhop take their bags up to their rooms for them. "She seemed pleasant but a bit scared," he said once they were in their shared suite.
"Our reputation preceded us," Dean agreed. Xander sat down with a moan. "You're fine."
"I'm not a vacation sort."
"So? Take one anyway and have fun before you age too far, dude." He patted him on the head. Xander had appreciated his music the whole trip up, hadn't complained, and had mostly napped. Which he clearly still needed. "Go sleep some more. We'll find brothels, shows, and strippers in the morning." Xander gave him an odd look. "You need laid more than I do." Xander rolled his eyes but let it happen. He put himself in his bed and flopped down, falling asleep almost instantly. He looked at his little brother. "He needed it."
"He did. Want to set a wake up?"
"When we do, we do. Vegas lives at night." He went to his own bed, in the shared double room with Sammy. That was nice of them. His brother's snoring hadn't irritated him for months. Sammy looked over everything then went to bed as well. He was a bit tired after having been on the road the whole day. He wasn't used to it anymore and the car's seat wasn't as padded as his one in the library. He decided to detour to take a shower first, but that was fine. He wasn't going to wake anyone up with it. This was a really nice room.
Xander looked over the brochures, holding one up. "There's an indoor theme park. There's also a roller coaster on the top of a casino. I'm not sure if I want to try that one or not."
"I don't," Sam said. "I'm fun loving but that's for thrill junkies." He looked at the amusement park. "That looks like fun. Dean, amusement park?"
"We'll need sun screen."
"Even better. Sure, we can do that. Any 'get in cheaper' coupons?" Xander handed them over. "That'll work. Lunch over that way, some sightseeing? Then we'll figure out about shows and things?" They nodded and headed out to do that. It was going to be a long day. Hopefully a fun day but a long day. The amusement park was easy enough to find. They paid their cover and walked in, making Xander smile at the rides. "Where to first?"
"I've only ridden one of those," Xander said with a point at the tilt-a-whirl ride. "At a county fair. I got really sick after the tenth ride."
Dean dragged him that way. It was clearly a good memory. Sam got a drink and it was good while they waited. After that the boys pulled him to a mild roller coaster. Xander seemed like a thrill junkie now and then. He'd like roller coasters. They were right, he whooped and hollered, smiling at the fun. So this was a very good idea.
In LA, a male body moaned, sitting up holding his head. "What the bleedin' hell?" he muttered, looking around. "This isn't right."
"Oh, you'd be surprised," another male voice said, coming out of the shadows. "It's really strange when I get a head's up that the Powers are bringing you back again, Spike."
"Proofter," he said dryly, standing up. He would not appear weak in front of him.
Angel held up a hand. "Things have changed, Spike."
"No more soul?" he sneered.
"No, I have one and so do you. Even if it is Willow's." Spike gave him a horrified look. "We've got to get Dawn to separate you two. I'm not sure how she'd do it."
"Cleveland taking her tour on the hellmouth with Giles. The younger ones are with Harris at DCIS." Spike looked confused. "The government body who stepped in to help us. You missed the invasion."
"Sounded like fun."
"Wasn't really. A portal opened and spilled out a hell plane." Spike shuddered. "There's over fifty slayers now." He moved closer. "Can you hear her or anything?"
"No." He listened to his head, nothing new. He even tried thinking at her. Nothing. "Huh. Maybe they're wrong."
"They're the Powers That Be, Spike. They made the rules. They're only wrong when Harris gets in the way and screws something up on them."
Spike smirked. "He did good doing it."
He kept in his annoyance. He wanted Spike out of his city. Soon! "True. Anyway, I can get Dawn to come pick you up." He tossed over something. "Your duster. You left it in my trunk."
"Figured it'd be too hot during the battle."
"Uh-huh." He gave him a look. "I probably should've brought pants too." Spike looked down, realizing he was naked. "We can get you the scrubs I borrowed." He called Gunn. "It's me. We heard right but no sign of Willow yet. Can you send those scrubs to me?" He smiled. "That'll work." He hung up and went to get them from his trunk. When he brought them back Spike made a face but oh well. "They're not uncomfortable. I had to wear them after the explosion."
"Explosion?" he asked, frowning.
"The remaining Watchers decided to make a power play and weed down the slayers. Most of us were in a magical coma for over a year, Spike. We woke up about five months ago." Spike shuddered. "DCIS took good care of us and the girls. By the way, small bit of tension. Harris usurped power with Wesley and they're running the girls. With Giles awake it's been a problem."
Spike snorted. "Back on his kick again? Doesn't really surprise me. He did it before in a lot of ways the boy ignored." He put his duster on over the ugly light green scrubs. "Not my color."
Angel shrugged. "There's a lot of slayers who like to shop, make them take you." He called Dawn. "It's Angel. He's back but no sign of Willow yet. Please." He hung up as Paige orbed in. "Hi," he said cautiously.
She smiled. "Reach for a weapon, vampire. I so dare you." He backed off. She smiled at Spike. "Hi, I'm Paige. One of Dawn's teachers."
Spike smirked. "Smartass bint needed it?"
"Well, yeah. She kinda sneezed and exorcized a spirit from someone and gave him his own body."
Spike burst out laughing. "Oh, the poor bint!"
"Buffy was not impressed," she told him. "Tough but oh well. She doesn't seem to be impressed by much." She pulled him closer. "Let's see if we can find Willow." She checked him over, then nodded. "I can find her. She's sleeping." She smiled. "We can remove her from you in a few days, Spike. Until then we need you somewhere safe."
"No, if I brought a vampire into the house Piper might stake you. She's been a bit cranky since the Elders have been keeping her husband busy lately." Piper phased in. "What? You have been."
"Sorry. Kids have been cranky and keeping me up."
"Leo's been gone so you don't get your white lighter special snuggles," she shot back, cracking her older sister up. "Even Buffy saw that."
"Buffy needs to remove her head from her butt again. They're going to try another 'get everyone to Cleveland move' soon." She looked at Spike, then frowned. "He can stay in the basement as long as he doesn't hurt anyone. Because I will stake him multiple times and then rewind it and do it again."
"Sure, love," Spike agreed, stepping away from her. "Maybe you should go shag him senseless anyway? Pop in for a quickie?"
"Can't. He's with the Council of Elders." Spike shuddered and so did Angel. "What can I say? I'm married to my white lighter." She smirked. "Got it?" He nodded quickly. "Good! Because I'm told Willow's getting one too." They took Spike with them back to the house, letting Piper open the basement door. "There you go." She looked at Spike's clothes then shook her head. "We'll find you something to wear in a little bit." He nodded, heading down to get nosy in their basement. She looked at her sister. "Did we warn Dawn?"
"Dawn told me."
"Good. Then we can go back over why Dawn should not tie herself into her spells that way again. Because she's doing it again."
"We can do that," Paige agreed. "She starts school in a few weeks."
"Even better. She needs that extra touch of stability." She looked at her sisters. "What?"
"You're going all mom over the vampire," Phoebe pointed out. "Sandwich?" she asked with a smile, holding one up.
"He took on a soul of his own free will. He can't be all that bad." She took it to nibble. "I'll let you dress him, Phoebe."
"Um, yeah," she said dryly. She went to find a thrift store that was open later at night. No way was she going to wrap him in a blanket to take him shopping. Paige grinned at her back. "You can help."
"I'm not the shopper you are, sister."
"I don't think anyone is," Piper agreed. "See if you can find something cute for the kids while you're out please? They're outgrowing stuff."
"Sure. Pay me back." She waved a hand from the living room. The other two shared a smile. It was good their sister could do these things for them.
Xander walked into the nightclub, paying for his tickets, and heading for an open table after the greeter or whoever it was that was going to seat him. He had heard about this show from one of the demons at the hotel. Mostly in whispers but he wanted to see. Dean and Sam were off losing in a casino somewhere. He knew there were demonic forms of art, music, and literature, but he hadn't run into any. It would be a good experience for him. When the singer came out he settled into his chair, muting all his danger senses. Not that they were going off but he didn't want them to interrupt his enjoyment. And it was.
Her voice was cold and crisp as it flowed across him. It seemed to clear off some of the stress. It was a very good show, even for not having naked girls in it. She did a few songs then another band came out and it was louder and more messy. It made him uncomfortable. The one after them wasn't any better so he got up and left quietly, leaving a note of thanks for the first performer, that he had enjoyed it. Then he went to play in the city. He had never been here before. The sightseeing they had been doing had given him ideas of where he wanted to start. He walked into one of the casinos up the strip, looking at all the gaudy decorations, all the tacky pictures, and all the fat, sweaty people who seemed to have congregated here. He also found a section of cuter young people and headed there.
Maybe they'd be playing something he'd understand? Dean had tried to teach him how to play poker but he was kinda lost and craps looked a lot worse than that. It didn't look like that much fun to toss dice. No role playing or character forms involved so no fun for him. He did wonder if they had a D&D gambling game. If so he might clean up. He was that sort of geek after all. He looked around, but he couldn't see one. He frowned at the slot machines, looking at the one nearest him. It looked easy. So he sat down to play a few rounds there. Not really interesting, but a bit entertaining since his had a short scene that played on the screen whenever he lost. A nicer one when he won about ten bucks. He took it and went to look at the other games. He saw a guard watching him. "First time in town and half the stuff looks boring. Do we have a D&D gambling game?"
The guard looked at the guy then sighed. "Not here or one that I know of, sir. Unfortunately. I'll suggest it though." Xander grinned at that. "Try slots, they're fun."
"I did, but they were kinda boring." He walked on. He found baccarat, which he sucked at. And poker, which he really sucked at. He found Sammy sucking at poker too and nudged him, getting a smile back. "They need a D&D gambling game."
Sam cackled. "That would be fun, yeah." He folded after he lost that hand and walked off with him. "Where did you go?"
"There was a battle of the bands thingy at a demon club," he told him as quietly as he could. "The first act was great. It was like her voice was flowing across me like a cool shower. The other two were more noisy so I went looking for more fun."
"I can see that. Dean's either playing poker at the pyramid or he's at a brothel by now." Xander shook his head. "It could make you feel better."
"No thanks." They walked outside together. "Want to hit a different place?"
"Sure." They walked up the street, going to one of the other major casinos. One of them seemed to draw Xander so he went that way. "Um, Xander?" he asked when he saw the entry suddenly appear. "Is this perhaps magical?"
"Um, yeah, could be why it's drawing me." He looked at it then at Sam. "Maybe we'll run into a kitten poker game."
"Kitten poker?" he asked, looking confused.
"Spike played it a lot. I can play kitten poker pretty well even if I suck at chip poker."
"Sorry." He grinned and they went inside. It'd be safe enough. Places like this wouldn't attack them, they needed the business. A few looked at them and fled but he stopped one. "Even we have to be on vacation," he told him, making him relax. "We're looking for fun." They walked back to the betting parlor to see what they were betting on. A few horse races. A few dog races. One group of people fighting creatures. "Hmm, D&D fighting?"
Sam looked then shrugged. "Don't know." They found the explanation index and looked it over. It was a voluntary quest game. The players stepped into it and got to go on a D&D style quest while the group watched and bet on whether or not they'd make it to the end, who'd get eaten and therefore ejected from the game, if they'd beat a monster, those things. Sam handed it to Xander. "I know a few geeks who'd give their soul to play that."
"Me too. But they're all dead. The last one died in the hellmouth battle." He watched. "That one guy looks familiar." He pointed. "Him."
Sam looked. "I don't know him."
"I do. I think that's Robin Woods. We were wondering where he went to after the battle since he wasn't in LA. He kinda walked away from the buses after saying he'd be back without some stress."
"He any good?"
"His mom was a slayer. One of the ones Spike killed."
Sam nodded. "Does that make him like Connor?"
"No. Not really." He grinned. "Wanna go?"
"Not really my thing," he admitted. "This is a vacation, Xander, not a battle for your life."
"How many times would you get to fight orcs?" he teased. "Plus, hey, camping, leather, swords, magic. We won't die from it."
Sam shook his head. "You can and I'll bet on you to go all the way."
"Not the first time. I never win the first time I play." Sam smiled but nodded. Xander went to talk to the guys taking bets. "How do you get into the quest game?" He pointed at a window. "Thank you." He walked over there and the woman's eyes went wide. "I'm on vacation. That looks like a lot of fun."
"It is. You won't be permanently hurt but you may be bruised for any fatal injuries you incur in the game." Xander shrugged. "It's three hundred dollars to join the next team going. This one will be gone within an hour."
"Do I have to provide my own weapons?"
"No, we'll use part of that to let you outfit yourself, sir."
Xander considered it then put down money. "And if I go a second time, Sammy can bet on me, right?"
"Of course. Some of the best bets are from friends." She took his money and led him to a little room. "Through the gold door please." She closed hers and the gold door appeared.
Xander walked through it and oooh'd. "Oooh, this is neater than our armory at the base." He looked at the slip that appeared in his hand. Then down at himself. He was pretty naked. He went to get clothes, a pack, a cloak, and other travel necessities, then he came back to find his weapon. Did he want a sword or something else? "How do I know what role I'm playing or are we all warriors?" he called. A small creature that looked like a goblin from the Harry Potter books came out. "How do we decide?"
"You can be a ranger, a magic user, or a simple warrior. Only those with skills can use magic in our world. The doorway said you have a small gift."
"I know I have some I don't use. Ranger, like elf?"
"You'd be half-elf."
"I could like that." He picked up a bow and a cheaper sword, but still a decent feeling one. He got handed a book as well. "Primer on how to use the gifts?" The goblin nodded so he read it as they walked to the staging area. "This is pretty cool." He grinned and then stepped through. The book stayed with him. Three warriors appeared, one female one. "Good morning. Or well met, one of the two. Where are we headed?"
"Aren't you chipper?" one demanded blandly.
Xander grinned. "First vacation in a while."
"And you come *here*?" he demanded.
"Well, yeah. This looks like fun. More fun than doing it at a table with maps and dice." They all groaned. "What's our mission, where are we heading, and how far is it from here?"
"It's two days travel, our time. The mission is a simple nest from a dragon."
Xander looked at him. "Dungeon master?"
"Basically. Mostly here to watch and tape for the betting. I can offer limited information."
"Cool." Xander went back to his reading. "Whenever you guys are ready, let me know." They gathered themselves and he grabbed his pack, heading out. His arrows and bow went over his back like Robin Hood did. His sword was on his back as well. He kept reading as they walked. This book made a lot of sense to him. Maybe he could do this stuff at home? The dungeon master coughed so he looked up to see the bird. He smiled and cast the spell to let him talk to it. "Hey, it worked," he said happily. "Bird friend, do you know of what's before us?" It tweeted at him about the things before them. "What do they look like?" The bird shared that as well. "Thank you, bird friend." He gave it a piece of his travel bread to nibble on as a treat. "Guys, about half a mile in front of us is a troop of what looks like trolls. Small trolls, not Harry Potter trolls." He put the book into his bag and pulled his sword. Bows wouldn't do much good against those things. The others grabbed their weapons and it wasn't such a surprise when the trolls leapt out to attack them. Xander got their rear and took down the troops that way. He felt one coming up behind him and turned to avoid the other fighter. "That's not nice."
"We don't want to split things with you," she sneered.
Xander punched her and knocked her out. "Pity." He looked at the DM. "Do I have to actually kill her?" He nodded so Xander stabbed her in an indelicate way. It wasn't going to be fatal but there was no hospital out here so fatal was the only option. She faded out. Xander looked at the others. "I'm a geek from long back, guys." They attacked him and he got them down too, then looked at the last few trolls, who were giving him a horrified look. "What? Like I needed a team?" They ran off. He shrugged and followed the DM. "In it for the prestige?"
"Money. If you go all the way in the game there's a great prize."
"Ah." Xander nodded. "How many scenarios?"
"Twenty-three. Most can't get past the fifteenth."
"If I'm here too long, Sam and Dean will worry."
"You can quit after obtaining any level," he assured him.
"Hmm. Does time run the same as it does at the casino?" He shook his head. "How long?"
"Thirty minutes for every three days here."
"That's not a bad average." They kept going and he found the dragon's nest with the help of the map he rifled out of the others' packs. It had been helpful of them to attack him. The dragon came out to steam him so he cooed and petted it. "Oooh, such a huge, grumpy dragon. Dawnie would love you." The dragon gave him an odd look so he grinned. "If you were smaller I'd bring you back to the base. The girls would love to have you there and pet you all the time." He petted her chest. "Such a good dragon." She huffed him then looked at the DM, who shrugged. She steamed him and he smiled. "I'm a geek, sweetie. Do I have to take so much or not?"
"You might need some. It's to build wealth for later adventures."
Xander looked at him. "Easy way to slip a first level player to a third?"
Xander nodded, looking at her. "Can I pilfer a few things? I won't touch any eggs. Just wanted a few shiny, pretty things for the girls." She huffed and let him in there to admire her eggs. He stroked over them. "This one feels powerful." He smiled. "Good job. They'll be great dragons. Very scary to guys like me." He looked and found a few things. "I'm not touching the cursed sword."
"Good idea," the DM said. "You can feel magic?"
Xander grinned. "My best friend's a witch. That's why I'm playing a ranger, dude." He picked out a few other things and held them up. "Can I have these?" She took one back. He smiled and picked up something else instead. "Pearls for the ladies later so I get a good tavern wench?" She handed him something and nudged him toward an egg. "Okay." He petted it again and was in a different clearing.
"You have attained the first level," the DM announced. He looked at the boy, who was packing things away. "We should keep moving."
"Sure. Is there an inn this way?"
"Not yet. We can find one later. Next round. This round we're going against dwarves."
"Sure." He put back on his pack, checked his arrows, and headed off with him, going back to his book while they walked. The DM shook his head quickly. This one was not the usual person searching for riches or fame. He was clearly demented. Xander grinned at him. "Telepathic?"
"Xander Harris," he introduced, holding out a hand. The demon moaned. Xander grinned. "This is a lot more fun than losing my paycheck trying to learn to play poker. Thank you."
"You're welcome, sir."
"Xander, not sir. Not the military and I'm not a general here."
The DM nodded. "I can see that. We'll figure that out later." He was sure his friends at home were giggling madly at this one. They ran into some of the dwarves and Xander challenged the first one to a drinking contest to get past them instead of fighting them. In their native language. Yeah, this guy was a geek from *way* back. The DM demon watched him drink and drink and drink. He was mightily drunk before the dwarf passed out. Xander drew on him then sat down to nap against a tree himself. When another one came, he nodded at him. "A drinking contest."
"It's a novel approach. We were watching." They carried them both into their mountain. They'd see if Xander would help them with the kobalds in the morning, after his hangover was better. This one had some respect for their ways.
Sammy was watching and smiling. He went to make a bet. "Can I bet that the ranger that just started the D&D game goes as far as he wants to?"
"You have to name a level, sir. You can bet level by level."
"Okay, he'll do this one and the next one. Separate tickets." She printed that after he paid and he went back to watch and giggle. He even paged Dean, who came to watch and bet with them. "Lose much?" he asked when his big brother sat next to him.
"Few hundred. Won most of it back. Is that Xander in the monitor?"
"They have a D&D style game. He went to join it because it looked like fun. You can bet on what he'll do, if he'll finish a level, all that. In his first one the team he was with turned on him because they didn't want to share their treasure."
"Only Xander," he sighed, shaking his head. "How's he doing?"
"So far he petted the dragon they were supposed to slay. He got treasure and told her the eggs were going to make great dragons some year soon." Dean squeezed his eyes shut. He pinched the bridge of his nose too, which he had picked up off Wesley. "This round is dwarves he was supposed to beat by the whining going on in the front of the room. He challenged them to a drinking contest instead and won. So he's already blowing expectations and winning at the same time."
Dean went to bet on Xander. His friend and buddy was going to do great things warping minds. Like he did to theirs now and then. He got a beer and came back to sit beside Sammy, watching Xander wake up with a hangover. Some people apparently bet he wouldn't eat dwarven food but when Xander said it reminded him of his mother's cooking a few lost their bets and went on swearing rants as they went to make others. "How many rounds?"
"Twenty-three. He'll stop when he's not having fun."
"He gets to keep whatever he had with him if he steps out and doesn't die."
"Hmm." Dean sipped his beer. "You don't want to do that, right?"
"Hell no. I am a geek but not that sort. Though role playing itself is fun. By the way, he's a Ranger. He can talk to animals." They watched as Xander made a good plan to go against the kobalds and showed them how to make lights that were fairly bright since they were afraid of them. That way they wouldn't come back for a while. The dwarves and Xander went against the kobald horde and defeated it. The dwarves paid him for the services and gave him some more wine to go with him. He walked off drinking a bit then put it into his bag and went back to reading something. Of course, he found an inn and as soon as Sammy saw the woman he went to bet that Xander would bed her, please her, and she'd try to attack him. The teller gave him an odd look. "That's Xander Harris," he said quietly. "Of course she'll attack him." She moaned and placed the bet for him. Sure enough, Xander was hitting on her. He paid for her time. Made her squeal in pleasure in many happy ways that was making even Dean and a few of the demons blush, and then she went after him for trying to leave the next morning. Sam cashed in his bet once Xander had made her squeal again and snuck off while she was napping off the orgasm. Dean got into the betting that round as well. This was a lot more fun than poker or slots.
Buffy walked up to her watcher. "Hey." He smiled. "It's nice to see you doing that again. What's up?"
"I've talked the local city council into not arresting us when we move the rest of the girls here."
She considered it. "They're kinda right, Giles. I mean, things come to test themselves against me and Faith. Or don't you remember Dracula?" He scowled. "Sorry but truth. Besides, I think the girls are going to stay there."
"They should be here."
"There's nothing to do here. Plus they have plans for school and stuff. Mom would be proud of that idea. Dawn needs to be in school."
"We can keep the patrol rotation while we're all here. Our duty is here," he reminded her. She sighed but nodded. "Then we'll go back and talk to the girls?"
"We can try after patrol tonight."
"Good." He smiled. "I did hear there's a new master vampire in town."
"Yay. Any good?" He shrugged. "Then we'll have to see." She went to get changed for patrol and headed out with Amber. "So, do you like Cleveland?"
"I like the base better. It's more comfortable and homey. Here is more stress. Even when I'm not doing anything the hellmouth seems to call out stress and stay alert to me." She nodded at that, but didn't look like she understood. "Have you been able to fully relax since we got here?"
"No," she admitted. "I haven't."
"Exactly. Faith said the same thing. Wes too. We're too attuned to the dangers it could present to ever relax fully. Even if we're not on rotation."
"So I take it you heard Giles?"
"Yup and I'm not going to stay, Buffy. I love the duty, I love the job, but I need the downtime and so do the rest of us. It's not one girl called anymore. You'll get some but not all."
"I don't think having the little ones here is for the best."
"Or the ones Xander marked as that one demon touching," she pointed out. "The agents over it have seen it snatching someone and killing everyone in the vicinity as part of the snatching. It killed a whole restaurant trying to get one person." Buffy shuddered. "I want those girls there and safe, because it could do it to us. We don't know why it marked those ones. Including Annabelle."
She considered it then nodded. "I get that point and I'll make sure Giles remembers that." Amber smiled. "We're going to talk to the girls tonight."
"If he turns into an asshole to Xander, I'm going to LA instead."
"Sure, I get that. You girls love Xander."
"Buffy, be honest. You'd be dead if it wasn't for Xander. He brought you back to life. He saved everyone's asses at graduation. It was his battle plan in the hellmouth. It was your plan with Glory and you ended up dying to save Dawn and everyone. We'd all be toast if it wasn't for Xander."
Buffy considered it. "He's getting older and slower. He's happier doing the training stuff."
"Yeah and you're trying to take that away from him." She patted the elder slayer. "If Dawnie and Sammy are right, that one journal says you only have another year." Buffy shuddered. "Xander's going to be doing this like John does. Most of his life."
"It can cost him his life. He got banged up plenty of times."
"Yeah, well, according to Dean and John, no one ever taught Xander how to do anything. Including Giles. He learned how to play with a sword by doing it repeatedly." Buffy sighed, looking down. "You guys didn't teach Xander how not to get hurt and he still stayed around. They named him right, he's a knight. He jumps in to protect all of us. Even after your watcher woke up, he didn't do a damn thing with the rest of us. You jumped into training and made sure we were doing okay. Hell, Faith was doing that long distance with us and handling behavior issues now and then. Wes too. Giles sat in the library and researched stuff. A lot of the books he got into were darker magic books according to some of the girls who went to help Sammy research." Buffy stared at that.
"We don't know why. Maybe trying to find Willow, maybe not. No clue. He never talks to us, does more than watch us eat a lot, and he doesn't help us. Xander stepped in to take over the role for the *whole* council, minus Wes's jobs. He did it without a paycheck and without a lot of sleep. If it wasn't for him, the younger girls wouldn't be training. The day they got to that first base Xander started training them to protect themselves and to keep them from being bored or scared. Xander's been a kick-ass big brother and watcher to us all, Buffy. You're doing good being a mom to most of us. Even if you can't understand the horny ones. Faith too. He's done jack shit for us except a bit of research."
"I saw that," she sighed. "I don't want the younger ones here."
"I don't want to be here," Amber assured her. "Unfortunately it's my time. I don't handle stress well and John thinks a short turn would help me some."
Buffy nodded. "He told me that. I wasn't sure what he meant."
"The first month of training I cried anytime anyone attacked me."
"Oooh. Okay. We can work on that though."
"I'd rather be a dorm mom, Buffy. I'm good at it." She nodded at that. "So I'm sorry but I'll be back on base if he tries that."
"I get that. That's something we each have to decide for ourselves. Some of us feel the duty and some of us feel the calling. I feel the calling and you feel the duty. You can do the duty helping the hotty agents." Amber smiled. "And probably have a lot less stress too."
"Welcome. We'll work it out. Some might want to come here."
"Only if you've got things worked out so they're going to be in school and stuff." Buffy winced. "We're still going to need it and Xander wants us in college if we want to go."
"Giles said there's no money for that."
Amber snorted. "Xander rescued at least thirty million in the building's insurance alone, Buffy. Yes there is." Buffy gaped. "We don't eat or shop that much. Not even you."
"I didn't know that."
"Wes handled the checkbook. Xander was muttering about how to invest until he took it back."
"Wow. Then we should talk to Giles. He said we've got a new master vamp in town."
"Then we'll have a short night." They shrugged and went to find any vampires coming up in the cemeteries. Then to find that master vampire. The demons that were in town were mostly peaceful and would point out the badder ones to keep peace and quiet around them.
Later that night, Buffy looked at the girls. Dawn had helped them get back. "Giles wants most of us in Cleveland, ladies."
"No, I want all of them in Cleveland."
"No," she said, looking at him. "Amber had a point. That one demon after Sammy is after some of the girls. He's managed to steal a few of his targets but he did it by killing everyone around them. He can do it to us and we do not want that to happen. Plus, I don't want the little ones there. This base is safer for those who aren't patrol ready." Giles gaped at her. "Some of them are still learning how to block hits, Giles. They'll get injured. It's better if they're here. Here has training and support for the younger group. I can't train Annabelle and neither can you. Dean can. She'll make it to adulthood with Dean's training."
"I was going to bring them back with us," he told her.
"A point of order," Wesley said dryly. "Have we secured a bigger residence?" Giles glared at him. "There is only room for up to eight girls if they squeeze in, Rupert. Not to mention the two that are coming in next week who might need specialized care since they've both been in war zones." Buffy looked confused. "We sent some friends of Major Sheppard's after the girl in Sudan since it's an active war zone, and the one in Iraq since her house was recently damaged in a car bomb attack. She's been in the hospital and the other has been in a refugee camp. The Sudanese young woman is about your age. She'll be aging out in about six months. She's coming over with her whole family. We've already secured her lodging and briefed the doctors here on the treatment the other one needed. They're in Washington right now giving someone a realistic view of what's going on."
Giles scowled. "They can come with us."
"We won't have the facilities to care to for the one girl's injuries," he protested. "Plus no room of the rest of them. There are many more than eight who are field rated."
Dawn coughed. "They think the duty is there but it's not," she said. She called a book out and walked it over, flipping until she found the right section. "A slayer's duty is wherever the problems are, be they hellmouth or regular city." She looked at her sister, then handed it over with a point at the right section. "Cleveland needs someone there. Granted. It needs someone to make sure it's not getting out of hand. Historical accounts of our hellmouth show that for the first century *nothing* happened. Not until people came to use the power. You've had *a* chaos sorcerer and he told the girl who found him that it wasn't enough power yet." She stared at her sister. "Beyond that, I'm staying."
"Dawn," she said.
"Xander is my legal guardian. By law I am old enough to decide where I want to live, Buffy. Why do I want to live in an overcrowded house, with all the girls squeezed into it, fighting in a bigger school system than we have here, and fighting to learn what I need to someday work with the potentials that're being born right now."
"Potentials?" she asked.
"Potentials. Anyone born after the spell shows up as potentials. They may activate later, we're not sure. I have a telltale on one of them to see if she does activate. Beyond that, it'd be farther for my teachers to travel to teach me. Or me to travel to them to get my butt kicked when I have bad ideas." She stared at her. "I love you. You're my sister and I love you. I don't want to have to fear for my life because something came after you. Again. I don't want to have to deal with the bigger classes they have in Cleveland's school system. I can get a better education out here than I can there just because the classes are smaller. I'll have more time to ask teachers questions if I have problems. If I still can't get it, I can ask Abby or one of the guys here for help. We won't have them looking out for us there either." She looked around then at her sister again but said it loudly enough that the others heard. "Xander said you girls had the right to make that decision for yourselves," she told them. "It's your lives. I've made mine."
"It is their watcher's decision," Giles corrected. "We have custody of them."
"No, Xander has custody of them. The US isn't going to give custody to an organization," Dawn snorted. "Neither did the British judge. Xander had full custody of any of us who are under the legal age of eighteen." Buffy stared. "He gave the judge all the facts, including you guys being in a coma. Like with my custody, the judge decided having someone who had plans for their welfare, education, health, and safety was a better idea. Wes offered and most of them said he was doing too much in Cleveland and watching over LA's girls. That Xander could watch us since the ones he talked to gushed over how Xander went big brother over us." She swallowed. "I also think this is a shitty time to do this, Giles."
"I am the head of the council, Dawn."
"Yes, we can see the resemblance to Travers." She stared at him. "If they want to go with you, that's their call. Not mine. I've made mine. I'm honoring Mom's wishes and getting a great education here. Then I'll ask Wes to train me as a Watcher." Giles stared her down. "The girls gave me worse at first." She turned to look at the girls. "Xander will not be upset. You know that. If you feel you have to go there, then do it. Your rooms will be here waiting." They nodded and a few stepped forward.
Brenda strolled out. "Hey, all. Are we having a group meeting?" She smiled. "Buffy, Angel said he has LA until Morgan and Crissy come back with Connor. It's pretty calm at the moment. The build up to the usual fall and winter problems. So I'm back early." She looked. "What's going on?" Angel had her sent back because he had heard there were going to be slayer related problems and she might need to help. It looked more like asshole problems to her though.
"Giles wants all the field rated girls in Cleveland," Dawn told her.
She snorted. "No. The hellmouth puts us all on edge and we can't relax if we're there. We're protected here from various problems. No. I'm needed here." She looked at the girls going. "When you're ready to come back, let us know. We'll be here." They nodded. She smiled at Wes, giving him a hug. "Hi."
"Good evening, Brenda. You're in a good mood."
"I passed my reading test John sent me."
"Congratulations," Dawn said, giving her a hug. "That's an important step, Brenda. Good job." She beamed at her. "Do you want to go?"
"Hell no. I'm learning a lot more from John and when I age out, I'll train some of the younger ones and other hunters. I'm good at that and even Dean said I'm good at helping the younger girls with training." She looked at Buffy.
"We'll need it. I suck at it," she assured her, giving her a hug. "Good job on the reading test, Brenda."
"Thank you. I know it's still a lesser level."
"As you go on, you'll add bigger words," Dawn assured her. "Like we all did." She grinned. "Ooh," she hissed. Annabelle was storming out and heading for Buffy to kick her butt. She knew that look. "Anna!" she snapped when she attacked Buffy.
"She's doing this to hurt Xander." She sneered at Giles. "You're not a watcher. You can't be, you don't like us girls. You don't talk to us, you only yell at us when we get into trouble. You're a mean, evil library ghost more than you are human. I don't know why you bothered to wake up since Xander still does everything with Wesley." She spit at his feet. "I'll never be a slayer under your command." She stomped back to Wesley and Caridad, who had moved to protect Wes. "When it's my turn, I'll work for you."
"I'd adore that," he said with a smile. He gave her a hug. "You're going to be an excellent slayer, Annabelle." She beamed. "Now, apologize to Buffy please. One slayer does not beat up on another one." He turned her around.
"I'm sorry you're being led by the zombie watcher there because he's clearly a bad guy who hates us all," Annabelle told her, cracking Buffy up.
"You've got a good swing," she said. "A bit too much temper though."
"I'm young. Dean said I'll grow out of it and have a temper like Sammy does." She beamed. Then looked at Faith. "I don't have to go, do I?"
"Hell no. We want you here where that funky demon can't touch you. You too, Merry." She groaned, coming back. "Ladies, this is shitty timing," she pointed out. She looked at one. "Xander still controls the checkbook so I doubt he's going to be vindictive about our patrol paychecks." She smiled at that. "Giles, Xander has plans to get most of us into school, let us finish our education while still slaying, and then let us grow up to be normal people if we age out in a bit. Do you?"
"We can form our own school. That way some of you wouldn't be so far behind."
"I want to go to college someday," Brenda told him. He looked stunned at that. "I do. I need to be in college to help me with some things. John agreed with me that some classes would do me good even if I didn't go for a degree. You setting up a new school wouldn't get the girls who're nearly ready into college their next year. Since most vamps seem to hunt those around college ages, as Buffy proved often, they should be there. It's an easier patrol and it'd do most of us good." The others nodded. "They'd have to have real records, like schools do, to get in. Plus take their tests and all that. You have no plans to have things set up. Maybe if you had it already set up, we'd be more open to it. I might consider it if you had things set up. Right now, the house in Cleveland only fits eight if we're getting really cuddly. You two aren't field rated," she reminded two of the girls, making them slink back.
"I can get them ready. They're nearly ready for their tests from what I saw," Buffy told her. "They can learn like I did, on patrol."
"Then that's up to them. They're both over eighteen," Brenda said, staring her down. "I'm sorry, Buffy, but he has not a clue what's needed to raise one of us, much less all of us." Faith nodded and made agreeing noises, crossing her arms over her chest. "Maybe if it were all set up, we'd think harder. We don't want to feel we're letting you down."
"No, you're not," she promised, coming over to hug her. "You're not letting me down. We each feel the calling differently. Faith barely felt it when she was called or so she said." Faith nodded at that. "I felt it stronger."
"Xander felt it stronger than all of us," Faith told her gently. "It was his friend that got taken so he made sure you were backed up, B."
"I know. I don't mind Xander hunting. My problem is I hate seeing Xander hurt. He gets enough of that from his dating. I don't like that he's had billions of concussion and stuff. I respect Xander for what he's done, and love him like a brother, but I wouldn't wish this duty on my brother if I had one. Willow can at least fire spells from farther back. Xander can't."
"Piper offered him a chance to train what latent magic he had," Dawn said dryly. Buffy gaped in horror. "He said if he did the Powers would whammy him again. That's why she put a shield on for him."
"Good to know." She looked at her. "I still want to hear more about this swearing at the Powers thing, Dawnie Summers."
She smirked. "Ask Sammy, he was there. He volunteered to guard me and then Xander came and butted in so he had to guard both of us. Or you can ask the really high demon that was doing some atonement work by keeping us from ripping them apart. That's how I met the teachers. One used to be in love with him."
"Wow. I thought it was only me." A few of the girls laughed. "You can't tell me Angel doesn't look like tall, dark cheesecake."
"He's too pouty for my tastes," Brenda quipped back. "Benny Ray I'll give you." A few of the girls sighed in pleasure at that image. She smirked at the girls going. "It's your call."
"It's my call," Giles corrected.
"Wes, can we call a no confidence vote?" Dawn asked.
"We can. Though it would mean overloading Xander again."
"Not like Giles does jack shit," Dawn reminded him.
"Good point." He looked around at the hesitant looking girls. "Ladies, and Giles. You do realize that everything we've found from the old council has been put into Xander's name? Then he transferred it over to the newly formed Slayers Council?"
"So, hey, I can get my ten bucks back, right?" Buffy asked. Giles rolled his eyes. "I could use some tampons."
"We have all the other girls on medicine for that," Wesley said bluntly. "Your blood will draw things to you. See the doctors in the infirmary or at the health department out there. They know of us. I had to take a few to get their newest medicine packs." He looked at Giles again. "I agree with Brenda, Rupert. You have nothing set up to house, feed, clothe, educate, or heal these girls. They have all that with Xander's plans. He made some very good points, that's why I let him help me out of my despair at losing the rest of us." Giles slumped. "I let him talk me out of it and went to Cleveland with Faith while he handled the rest. He has done more for these girls than any of us ever have. Now, you're leaving the house unguarded and I'm sure something will try to eat the furniture again."
"Got it earlier," Amber said. "It tried to nibble on my bed while I was taking a nap." Wesley smiled at that.
"I tried a club, it came back," Faith told her.
"I had my dagger. The thing died," she said bluntly, earning a back clap from Faith. "I'm sorry, Mr. Giles, but I can't see you as a watcher. Even when it was me, Buffy, and you in the house together for the last three days, you never said one word to me. You talked to her. Not to me. I'm not going to be treated like I'm a lesser and unworthy version of your slayer. Wes and Xander treat us like individuals with individual strengths. They help us work on our weaknesses. You tried to put me on a patrol by myself and it could've gotten me killed because I don't handle that sort of stress well."
"I'm proud," John said from behind the group. "Usually you'd be cowering by now, or sniffling." He smiled and she gave him a hug. "You're learning how to handle it, Amber. It's a good job so far."
She smiled. "You guys, Xander, and Wes have helped us become better adjusted young women with strong attitudes and morals. Not even our real parents could object to that if we could find them." She looked back at Buffy. "I'm sorry, Buffy."
"No, it's good you know what you want and don't want. I'm proud of you girls for making your own decisions."
"You started that trend," Dawn pointed out. "You said that Giles was your watcher, even when he was fired. He still is; he doesn't seem to care about any other girl. I'm not sure if this is 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' but I don't see why he doesn't have the ulcer Xander does from all the details they have to deal with weekly. He still deals with most of them weekly." She smiled at Wes. "Thank you for cutting the maintenance paycheck."
"It needed to be done. I dare say some of you girls eat more than some professional football teams." That got a few laughs and a few blushes. "If you need it then I'm not going to object. Then again, Doctor Chase and House did say some of you were underweight." He gave Buffy a look. "Including you."
"I'll put it back on. I always do," she protested. "I need a new boyfriend."
"There's some nice guys in Cleveland around us," Faith told her. "Way too nice for me. Or hey, Sheppard was looking for volunteers. All the base hotties and strange menaces like you'd love even after you aged out."
Buffy smiled. "I'll have to talk to him once he comes back." She looked at Giles and the girls. "I guess this is who's coming with us. If you need a break, we'll rotate you back and ask for the others to come out for patrol rotation." Giles glared at her so she swatted him upside the head like she had seen Tony do to Xander a few times. "Quit! Now!" He pouted. "Thank you. Come on, ladies. Amber?"
"Send my stuff back, Buffy. My nerves are shot."
"Sure, I get that." She smiled. "Thankfully it's not like the old days when we only had one." She walked back through the portal Dawn opened, getting Amber's things to send them back immediately. Giles could sulk for a bit and make sure things were better for now. They had some good points. So she sat down next to him later that night. "You know, Brenda was right, Giles." He glared at her. "We don't have things set up to train the potentials. We don't have things set up so the girls here can live comfortably. Or for the school stuff or any of it. We need to make some plans. Once we have them then maybe it'll be easier for the girls to show up. I don't know how we'd protect girls like Annabelle from that demon until we can hunt it down and slay it."
He nodded. "I fear I can't do what they have."
"Wes said that Cleveland had their own part in the budget," one of the girls said. "I was helping him balance things out for my math assignment." She smiled at them. "Cleveland has an allowance and budget set up the way LA does. That way the girls get to go to college and live in a house instead of a homeless shelter or bumming off Connor and Gunn." She smirked. "Schools will be looked at when?"
"Tomorrow," Buffy decided. "Mom was really big on education too. You will need it. Especially if we do get to age out. Not that I have any idea what I'll be doing then."
"The base's shrink has talked to a few of us who were going to have a problem wrapping our minds around it. Like guys coming out of combat zones and retiring, he said we'd have to readjust ourselves back to normal life. Not to mention how we'll need to adjust ourselves to not being slayers anymore. You can talk to him too. He's been talking to Faith via email about her concerns. She had 'oh, crap, I'm a mommy now' syndrome according to Wes."
Buffy smiled. "I can see how she'd freak about being the favorite mom of you girls." That got a nod. "I'm going to try. Tell me if I get too uptight. I know I can now and then."
"We will." She patted her on the head. "We can even help you set things up. A few of us that came were with Xander when he set things up. We know how he did it because we helped with some of the paperwork now and then. Plus the early classes."
"Thanks," Buffy said. "Go settle in."
"I've got the couch tonight. We'll switch off until we can find somewhere bigger and nicer."
"Sure." She went to do that and Buffy looked at her watcher. "See, plans going on. We can help. Make it our slayers council too, Giles. Really. Just because Xander had to do it doesn't mean he did a bad job. He did a better job than I could. Even if Wes did have to hire the crooks in England. Just think about it and we'll start to make plans in the morning. Things always look better over Eggos." He cracked a smile so she went to her room. She checked the others. "Meg, there's an empty room," she called. She ran up the stairs and took over Amber's old room. "Sorry, I cleaned it up."
"That's okay. We've all been on punishment duty sometime in the past. We can clean and make beds." That got a grin and Buffy went back to her own room after finishing checking on the other girls. Meg sat down to write in her journal. It'd be okay for the night. They'd see how Giles proved himself to them after that show earlier.
Xander looked at his DM. "What's the last level?"
"You have to fight a god."
Xander blinked. "Can I count Glory?"
"Um, no," he said. "Not that sort of God, boy."
"Oh. Okay." He nodded. "Can I buy artillery from the storehouse?"
He blinked. "Artillery?"
"Yeah. Easiest way to take down a god, blow them up."
He shook his head. "Not in this case."
"Fine." He looked around then at him. "I know I can quit."
"You can," he agreed. "No one else has gotten this far."
"I can't believe everyone woosed out after the jell-o cube monster." The DM demon smirked at that, nodding a bit. "Huh. Well, heat applied and all that. Sure. Let's go. Do I have to beat her, make her give up and go away, what?"
"You have to beat her and take her place."
Xander frowned. "Her?"
"Her. Goddess of magic."
Xander blinked. "Hecate?"
"No. Realmal one, not Pagan one."
"Okay. Let's go." He shouldered his very heavy pack and they walked through to find the 'God' posturing in front of the crowd. Xander walked up to her, staring at her. She said something about defeating the bad guys. "I've done that," Xander said calmly. She glared at him. "I have. I helped beat an ascension with my team." The woman gaped at him. He smiled. "It was solved with artillery. Why make them bow? It's more thrilling if they choose of their own free will."
"Who are you to thwart me?"
"Just a guy who jumped in." He hopped up onto the stage, dropping his pack and weapons then walked over, staring at her. "Such a naughty girl," he teased with an evil smirk. She growled. He pulled her closer to kiss her. "You could do so much more with someone to plan for you. Someone to lead your armies. Someone to make the people beg." He looked down then at her. "Look how they watch now. Interest instead of fear. Isn't it more heady?"
"Then I'm sorry you're such a woosey demon queen. The Gods I've fought wanted minions to fear them but others to respect their authority." He stroked her cheek with a finger, not caring it was batted away. "Such a pretty little confused one. All except the sneer." A tavern wench he had bedded before came at the stage with a weapon. He glared and she whimpered, pouting at him. "You can have me back later. Not like this one's worthy of me or my skills."
The wench moaned. "Real women would beg for your tongue and dick, Xander."
He smiled. "Thank you." He looked at her. "See? And I'm offering for you free and clear. Then I get to go back to my vacation." He strolled off, picking up his stuff, walking off with it. "Look me up if you want it."
"How dare you!" she shrieked.
He put up a mirroring charm he had learned off watching Willow, mirroring her attack back on her. She shrank into a piece of charcoal. "Huh. Not friendly in the least." The wench moved over to kiss him. He smiled. "Such a good girl." He looked at the crowd. "Why follow her when you can have a god of lust?" The crowd moaned. "Make your own choices, people." He looked at the wench again. "Be my acolyte?" She nodded, going limp in his arms. "Good girl." He got to work playing with her. Others joined in. Then suddenly she wasn't there and neither was the village. "Hey! I needed that," he complained.
The DM looked at him. "You fulfilled the quest. The reward is yours."
"Ooh, what did I get? Can I brag to the girls?"
"Slayers in training." He grinned. "They'll want details."
"I'm sure they will," he said blandly. He pointed at a familiar gold door. "Go that way, Harris."
"Thank you." He walked that way with his weapons and pack. The demon that met him made him smile. It was the goblin looking one from earlier. "Hi."
"You have a choice of prizes. A wish of your choice. The box in the corner. Or you can choose to take on a position in our hierarchy."
"I'm on the Slayers Council and DCIS," Xander said dryly. The demon whimpered. "Hi, Xander Harris."
The demon looked at him. "You can still make a wish or take the box."
"What's in the box? It's not like on _Let's Make a Deal_, right? No cows or clunker cars?"
"No, it is a worthy prize and will be useful to you. Or you can make whatever sort of wish you want to make."
Xander considered it then pulled out his phone to text Sammy. Sammy and Dean both texted to take the box. "They think I should have the box."
"That's a good choice for you."
"What's in it?"
"You won't know until you open it."
Xander nodded. "Thank you." He took the box and heard a lot of people groan. "They bet on that?"
"Of course. Many people would wish to make a wish and change something."
"If I did that, others might die." He smiled and walked out, putting his pack down beside Dean's stack of winning tickets. "Hi. I'm done."
"That's cool since it's been a day," Sammy said dryly. "Let us cash out and we'll go back to the hotel." Xander nodded, bouncing outside with his pack and weapons. He and Dean went to cash out, getting Xander's original clothes handed back, already washed and ironed. "Thank you." They took their stack of money and headed out to drive back to the hotel. Xander was babbling at a cop. "Problems?"
"He wanted to know why I had a sword. It's a really cool game."
"I saw," Dean agreed. He looked at the officer. "He went D&D and won."
"That explains the sword and bow."
"We're going to drop them at our hotel," Dean promised. That got a nod and they got into the car, heading back to the hotel. The check in girl who had checked them in gave them horrified looks. "He won the last level of the D&D game," he told her. "Any messages?"
"Not yet." She watched them walk, shaking her head quickly. "That's news that others should hear." She typed that into her blackberry device to let others in town know. He was carrying the small gold box so he had taken that as his prize. She got a call. "Front Desk, how may I help you?" She listened. "It's under the picture of the skyline, Mr. Winchester. Did he come back with a present?" She gaped at the story of what came out of his pack. "Wow. He made it through all the levels?" She smiled. "Good for him. Congratulations, sir. Have a good night and tell us if you have problems. The instructions should be near the phone." She hung up once he had and went to tell the manager. "Mr. Harris won all the rounds on the quest game at the demon casino, sir." He whimpered. "He came home with the pretty box. Plus all the stuff he got on his travels."
He shook his head quickly and took an antacid. "It'll change to whatever you're thinking about when you open it from what I hear. Is he okay?"
"Bouncy and happy looking." She went back to her post, nodding at her coworker. "Letting him know."
"This quest game?"
"You basically pay to live action role play."
"Doesn't sound like fun."
"He likes swords and ancient weapons."
"Oh." She shrugged. "To each their own I guess." They checked in the next guest and gave one a brochure when she needed one. It was an easy night.
Dean looked at the box. Then at Xander. "Are you going to open it?"
"In a few minutes. Let me get something to nibble on first. I had jerky last night for dinner." He nibbled on it and came over, looking at it. "Hmm. Wonder what the trick is."
Sammy came back from stuffing the safe with all the stuff he brought back. "No idea. Did you have fun talking to that deer you petted?"
"A lot. She was a nice deer. A changeling too." He finished his snack and reached for the bow, then cleared his mind. Well, except for the usual back of the mind worries: paychecks, slayer shopping trips, the panty raids, the girls going to school and how they'd afford college. He opened it and money started to spew out. "Whoa," Xander said. Dean ducked a few blocks of bills and it kept going. Xander looked inside, ducking some of it. "How much is in here?" He shut the box and reopened it, still spewing money. He closed it again. "I'll try that again later."
"The girls will coo," Dean teased.
"This means I can take them bra shopping." They laughed. Dean settled in to count the money while Sammy piled it more neatly. Xander ordered a great meal from room service and tipped the waiter a fifty for it. They'd tell him if it was counterfeit or not. He could still cover it.
Sammy found a note. "It says it will do whatever you're thinking for up to three hours after you open it the first time."
"So I was worried about the girls going shopping and it spewed money?" Xander put it off to the side and reopened it. Let it spew!
"This means you can wear better clothes," Dean taunted. "And we can hire you a good pro."
"Dude, I had plenty," he teased back.
"We saw, Xander. Why didn't you take that one girl up on her offer?"
"She smelled funny."
"Oh. That's the only one I lost of the whole thing," Sam admitted. Xander punched him on the arm. "I did."
"Did you have fun watching me have fun?"
"Watching you drunk on the dwarven wine was great fun," Sammy promised with a grin. Xander blushed at that. "You didn't hit on him."
"Good. I wasn't too sure. I kinda blacked out in there somewhere."
"You drew a mustache on him too," Sam said.
Xander giggled. "Sounds like my sense of humor." They all looked at the box, which was still spewing money. "Maybe I should make it spew lingerie for the girls?"
"No. They'll have plenty I'm sure," Dean promised. Someone knocked. He went to answer it. "Yes?" he asked the man in the suit.
"Sir, I'm the manager of this resort." He stepped inside, seeing the spewing money. "That's not that uncommon of a wish. We do have a safe to put it in, Mr. Harris."
"I might like that. Let it get done first?"
"Of course. Let us know when you need it. Did you need any other specialized services?"
"He came home with gems and gold," Sam told him.
He nodded. "There's a tunneling demon in town right now for a shopping trip. I could see who he would trust to appraise them. The IRS would get upset if you didn't claim them."
"They didn't give him any forms for winning," Dean told him.
"Half of them are demons as well," the manager said. "They'll know."
"Then I probably should get that. Though it'll probably take all the money to pay the taxes."
"If you sell them, the taxes would come out of the proceeds of the sale." Xander nodded at that. "I'll let him know you'd like to talk to him. Have a good night, gentlemen, and let us know if you need anything else." He left, going to alert their security people that they'd be picking up money from Xander's room soon. Plus called that demon to have him set up a time to talk to Xander about his other winnings.
Dean looked at his poker hand a few days later, grimacing. It was the crappiest of crappy hands. The dealer had an easy win over this one. He started to fold but stayed instead. He'd lose the money either way and he was flustering Sammy by losing today. Even though this was his first hand of the day. She turned over a card and it was less than his crappy hand. She had to flip a card because it was under the 'take a card' limit. She winced when she did that. "Hey," he said, flipping his over. "That's luck."
"It certainly was, sir. Very good luck." She paid him his chips. The floor monitor came over to watch when it happened a second time. There was no way for him to cheat electronically. He wasn't counting cards. He had just sat down. She glanced at the floor manager and got switched out. The new dealer didn't lose as fast but he was still winning. By the look on his face, it was a surprise to him too.
Sammy looked at his game of craps that he had just won, somehow. He sucked at craps. Xander had given them each two hundred and said to go lose it while he called in a pro. So they were. So why was he winning? He never won at craps. He took the dice back and made a bet then threw them. Another good throw. Huh. Interesting. He let someone else throw and bet wherever the feeling took him. So he kept winning, even though he had *never* won on craps in the past.
Xander walked into the casino later to see where the boys were, finding them in security. He was escorted in too. "What did you two do while I was having fun?"
"We won at games we don't usually win on," Dean said with a shrug. "Maybe the money you won was lucky money."
"Maybe." He shrugged, looking at the guards. "Are they in trouble?"
"We can't figure out how they did it. Even when they switched games. No option of using electronics."
"Um, would it matter that I won the quest game at the demon casino last night and took the box? It spewed money. Maybe it was lucky money?"
He considered it. Magic wasn't unheard of, and with who these three were it'd be one explanation. "It could be lucky money in that case. Would you voluntarily not gamble the rest of your time in town?"
"Sure," Dean agreed. "Xander needs to hit another pro. We can see some of the shows."
That got a nod. "Thank you. Try your luck again next time, gentlemen." He shook their hands. "We'll be watching for more freakish luck." He personally walked the boys out. On the way past the floor a slot machine hit next to Xander. He blinked at it. "That has to be a malfunction." There wasn't a person on it. He called the floor manager and got the boys stopped. "Mr. Harris?" He nodded. "Do me a favor and lean on another one? Just to test your lucky money hypothesis?" Xander shrugged and did that, making that one win. Again, without a person. "Uh-huh."
"You can search me. The only electronic thing on me is my watch." He let them pat him down. Nothing. They took his watch and he touched the same machine, making it go off again. He groaned. "Maybe it was the pro?" he guessed.
"Could be a reason. Was she a wish demon?" Sammy asked dryly. With Xander's taste in women....
"No. Not that I know of and I know most of them since I dated Anyanka. So maybe when she wished me luck on her way out the door it was a bad thing?"
"Could be," the head of security agreed. The owner came down. "We've checked. There's no electronics. A prostitute wished him luck on her way out."
"I know that one from somewhere," he admitted.
"Xander Harris, DCIS, sir." He shook his hand. "Also Slayers Council."
"You won that quest game last night. Someone was betting very large that someone would win it eventually."
"I did," Xander agreed happily. "It was a good vacation."
"I see. What was the prize?"
"I could make a wish, take on a job in the hierarchy, or have the shiny box. I took the box and it spewed money for three hours. Apparently I was thinking about the girls' next shopping trip. A few bras flew out too."
He nodded. "Touch another one please? The rest of you too?" They did that and sure enough they hit. "Hmm. Nothing electronic?"
"We strip searched the two older ones," his head of security admitted. "This one we patted down and didn't find anything. One of the guards had an EMF scanner to make sure and it came up negative by his disappointed look. So maybe the wish of luck is in effect?"
"We've seen stranger. They won't be gambling?"
"No, we won't be gambling," Xander promised. "We'll catch shows or something for the rest of this trip."
"We can hit Reno or Tahoe," Sam offered. That got a nod of thanks. "Or somewhere else." He looked at Dean, who was giving him a confused look. "We're breaking odds, Dean. The system could break down. Plus most shows are in casinos."
"Sure, that's fine with me. Wherever we decide on later."
Xander nodded. "Of course. I don't want to hurt anyone."
"Good boys," the manager said with a smile. "Go back to your hotel. Unless you're staying here?" Xander showed his room key. "Even better. Go back to your rooms. We'll warn them you've been cursed with freakish luck for now. That way they're ready in case you get the nibbles and something goes off." They nodded, heading out to get the car from the parking lot. "Get these ones examined to make sure they're not damaged."
"Floor manager already called."
"Good. Clean this up?" Two waitresses came over to clean up the spilled silver and the guards walked them to the cage to put it in for the daily count. That was just too freakish for Las Vegas. "Can you tell the local liaison?"
"I can do that. He's a very nice CSI." He went to call him. "Mr. Sanders, Paul at the Grand. We had a small issue you should probably hear of. Not a case. We had some of your coworkers here and apparently they were cursed to some freakish luck. They leaned on a slot machine and it went off," he said. "One went off when they were walking past it. No, we're sure they weren't cheating, Mr. Sanders. We strip searched the earlier two, did a monitor on them to see if they were putting out EMF when the slots went off. Nothing like that was going on. It's all three of them though so they're going to be heading out of town before they bankrupt us all. They seemed like very nice young men. Thank you, sir." He hung up and called his boss. "Do we have to pay the first two since they were winning on cards, craps, and roulette?" He listened to him decide to pay them. It wasn't their fault their friend had gotten them cursed. "I'll send it over then." He got the chips cashed out, smiling at the guard. "The boss said that they're honorable and should be paid since it wasn't actually cheating and they had no idea it was going on at the time. When they did, they stopped gambling and let us take them into custody." He wrote out a hotel name on the envelope. "That's their name and hotel. Take it to them please."
"Yes, sir." He went to do that. That was going to be the talk of the town for years. He needed to find that pro or go beat that quest game the one guy had. Whichever had caused all the luck.
Xander called Dawn. "It's me. I'm alive." He listened to her babble about a few girls going to Cleveland on rotation. "Really? Why?" She admitted the reason and he sighed. "We all good?" He smiled. "Good. No, I'm good. I'll call Tony or Danny in a few. How are you doing?" He listened to her. "That's fine, Dawn Patrol. You know that. I love being your big brother. What do you want for a present?" He smiled. "Yeah, you could say I won big. What did you want?" He laughed. "I'll find you some before we leave. No, I got blessed with freakish luck. A slot machine went off when I walked past it. So we're not gambling and we were going to hit somewhere else. Sure, love you and I'll call over there next." He hung up and called Tony's desk, getting his cellphone.
"Team case?" He smiled, leaning back. "It's been a great vacation so far. I won a D&D quest game. I slept with some pretty women. Only a few that I paid for. I got blessed with freakish luck and somehow passed it onto Dean and Sammy. So we're leaving Las Vegas in a few hours. Yes, for that reason, Tony." He smiled. "Why?" He nodded. "Good luck in DC. Need help? I'm fully rested. We can come back." He laughed. "Sure, I'll make the boys go play. Good luck and call if you need advice. I'm better now so I can do that. Sure, let Danny bang his head against his desk again. Maybe he can figure out why I got blessed with freakish luck. Thanks, Tony." He hung up. "It was suggested we hit an amusement park."
"Any particular one?"
"Tony said he wanted Annabelle to have mouse ears."
Sammy suddenly shuddered. "I had the thought of all the girls going to Disney together," he admitted when he got odd looks.
Xander cackled. "That's a recipe for disaster."
"There's a chaos god getting high off you two somewhere," Dean said. "But if you really wanted to take the girls, there's a Six Flags a few hours away." Both younger men shuddered. "Didn't think so. Though, let's tell Dad." He texted that to his father. It was good to make their father shudder now and then. It kept his blood pumping.
"Dude, one of these days he's going to kill you for giving him bad mental issues," Sam said.
"No he won't. He loves me too much to kill me for real. Now, you...." He smirked. "I said it was your idea."
"You know, we could've taken the girls the day after the invasion," Xander said dryly. "It would've been good stress relief for all of us."
"I'm buying you an unlucky prostitute, Xander," Dean said calmly.
"As long as I don't have to ask House for medicine afterward," he quipped.
"I only did that to Sammy to teach him not to go out with the skanky girls."
Sam hit him on the shoulder. "Dad still probably wants to talk to you about that and the doctor's visit I needed after she bit me." Dean smirked. "I'm so telling him you did that on purpose."
"Boys, we should buy trinkets for the girls," Xander said, breaking into their argument. They both sighed in displeasure. "Then we can send them back Fed Ex."
"Good since they won't fit in the trunk with the money," Dean complained. He grabbed stuff, then Xander. Sammy grabbed his stuff and some of the money. They went to get the girls stuff they'd appreciate: chocolate, lingerie gift cards, and mouse ears for Annabelle. Even though she would call and ask them to buy her a princess gown instead.
John looked at his phone then shuddered. "I'm going to beat both my sons." Dawn and Brenda gave him an odd look. "Sammy had a horrible thought and Dean shared."
"Which one?" Dawn asked.
"All you girls at Disney at the same time."
"I'm almost surprised Xander didn't suggest we go after the invasion. He's always wanted to go."
John texted that to Sammy's phone then looked at her. "It's still a thought worthy of Janus or Discord."
"Strife," Brenda said. "That's more strife than discord."
"Could be a lot of fun," Dawn offered.
"That's how you know. Strife is fun, discord hurts."
"That would cause a lot of pain," John assured her. "The migraines would be horrible and so would Xander's death." They cackled at that. Wesley walked in. "The boys are warped."
"I knew that already. You'd have to be warped to put up with fifty cuddly young women during a movie marathon."
"Sammy came up with the idea of *all* the girls at Disney at once."
Wesley blinked then took off his glasses to clean. "Yes, that's suitably warped. We really should encourage Xander to settle down again."
"You learned that glasses cleaning thing off Giles," Dawn teased.
"No, we both learned it off one of our instructors that used to get very flustered dealing with us as teenagers when we got horny. He even had to give us the sex talk. Most of us picked it up off him." He put his back on. "Any other news from the misadventure in the making?"
"There was a demon-run live action role playing game that Xander won. He won a box that spewed money," Dawn told him. "I got that from the underground sources and Gunn. Xander said he had been blessed with freakish luck. He walked past a slot machine and it went off." Wesley and John both moaned. "So they're getting presents then leaving the city."
"Probably a good idea," Wesley decided. "We should notate that."
"Make Xander write his own report," Dawn snorted. "He's the first one who won the game. He won one round by out-drinking the dwarves. He won another by sleeping with a wench casting spells to kill adventurers. He did not do it the typical sword and sorcery way."
John patted her on the shoulder. "Remember, you're a Summers by birth and a Harris by training and adoption; you don't have to follow his example too closely," he said. She cackled. They heard a yell of outrage. "Sounds like someone told Jackson."
"Could be," Dawn agreed happily. "That's why I'm hiding." The others nodded and got back to the research on this demon who wanted Sammy and a few others.
Danny answered the phone. "Daniel Jackson. Problems, Tony?" He listened then he banged his head on his desk. "Please tell me you're joking?" He whimpered. "Thanks for the head's up. Sure, it's good that they're probably leaving Las Vegas tonight." He hung up and called Xander. "Would this be the reason why I got a peace treaty from someplace that said you had defeated their mean God so they wanted to make peace with you?" He listened to Dean tell him how it had happened, the whole story. A few more bangs of his head on the desk and he hung up without warning then let out a very comforting yell of displeasure. He called Jack. "I stand corrected. Xander is worse than *both* of us. He won a game and got us a peace treaty because he beat a goddess." He hung up and went back to banging his forehead on the desk.
Ryan Wolfe leaned in. "Danny, is it a major problem, a major demon, a prophecy, or Xander, Dean, and Sammy?" He moaned at that set of options. "I'm guessing them on vacation. What happened?" He held up the peace treaty. Ryan took it to read and giggled. "How did that happen?"
Danny looked up at him. "I don't know. Dean said something about a D&D quest game in Vegas run by demons and Xander beat all the levels in strange ways. Tony said he had been blessed with freakish luck because he said he walked past a slot machine and it went off. Then I get that treaty about an hour ago and I'm confused until Tony called."
"Jack said you're one of the top first contact diplomats your former job had."
Danny gave him a dirty look. "I retired from there."
"So we'll make nice and let Xander sleep with their women too," Ryan offered dryly, smirking some. "It should make them either love us more or hate us all."
"Don't wish that on the agency!" he complained.
Ryan laughed. "Let Danny and Don handle it. They're looking a bit bored."
"That's not a bad idea. Don has tact. Messer does usually. Or hey, if I had to, I can get us someone from the state department." He reached for the phone. "Paul Davis should know someone." He called him. "Major, Daniel Jackson. Yes, I'm at DCIS. We have a treaty situation and I need someone who can handle it. Because one of my people defeated their god and is now considered a god of lust according to the treaty. We need someone to make sure it's a good thing. Yes, it was Xander, how did you know? Oh, a background that came up with him doing improbable things before. Should've warned me, Paul. Thank you. I'm at my office in North Dakota. Thank you. I can fax it to Tony, he's coming in for a case in DC. Watch out for Gibbs to growl." He hung up and Ryan faxed that to the plane while Danny took antacids. "The next time someone goes out, get me some more tums?"
"Sure, I'll put it on the list," Ryan promised, heading out to tell the others.
"We already knew he was a god of lust," one of the girls complained. "They can get their own!"
Danny moaned, rubbing his forehead. Now he knew why Hammond had retired after dealing with him and Jack so often.
Tony looked at the fax coming off, reading it over. "Huh. Someone besides a few of the slayers think Xander's a god of lust and want to make a peace treaty with our people because of it."
Tim reached over to grab it from his hands, reading it over. "Why?"
"Probably from that quest game he said he won."
Tim squeezed his eyes shut. "Only Xander."
"You were in his head," Tony teased.
"Don't remind me. Please." He handed it back. "Going to who?"
"We'll find out when we land and Gibbs growls at us."
"H and Alexx kidnaped Ryan and me," Tim offered.
"Gibbs isn't that straightforward when he doesn't want to be." They got back to work on the case. It was going to be a long week. So when the Air Force major met their plane Tony looked at him before handing it over. "Needed the treaty?"
"I did. How did this happen?"
Tony wrote down the number. "That's Xander's cellphone. Ask him. He does those things, not me." He grinned. "Hey, boss, Xander's worse about finding trouble than I am."
"Hopefully he's not here," he said as he joined them.
"No, he's on vacation. We just got a peace treaty from a place that thinks he's a lust god so they want to make nice with us." He grinned. "You could help with that negotiation." He got head smacked. "Aww, I missed that." He grabbed his bag. "Happy reading, Major."
"Worse than Jack and Danny together," he complained. "They only got offered wives, started a war, and made my life a living hell. You guys are going to drive us nuts."
"You know, having Danny Jackson there is probably keeping the problems down," Speed said dryly. "They all know who he is." The major shuddered and walked off whimpering in pain at his new migraine. He handed Tony his bag. "Yours. Car?"
"Rental. Called ahead." They walked that way. "So, Gibbs, it's your case. What's up? Strange marks around a body I got. Why the team 'come save us' call?" He looked at him.
"We can't figure out how it got onto base, where it went, or what it was. It didn't show up on any cameras."
Tony nodded. "That's a pretty good reason. Guys, I made reservations at the motel nearest the base. That way we don't have to travel so far." He handed over the sheets. "We're heading there. I asked that both cars have a GPS system in it." They nodded and headed to get the cars. Gibbs got into his, shoving Tim to the other car. He looked at him. "Didn't drive?"
"I had McGee drop me off."
"That's fine." He headed out, going to the motel. "Anything that you did find that wasn't in the folder?"
"No. We think there'll be another one. We had one young woman that was reacting funny that night and she's reported she's feeling the same sort of funniness. She told McGee, ducked duty for a few minutes to let him know."
"That's good to know. Did the slayer test come out?"
"He did one when he called Abby to see if that was normal. It came out negative."
"Then she's probably been exposed. We'll talk to her in a few." He turned onto the highway. ''How is McGee doing?"
"Not bad. Still pouting about missing Abby."
"He said the same thing about you." He shot him a look then grinned. "She's fine. She was wearing her purple tutu skirt earlier and dancing around her lab. She's been busy on the R&D side with the new docs we got."
"Our last head doc wanted to be a mom somewhere safer. She retired once we got a world class one from New Jersey. A cop up there hated him and told people he was a druggie so we got that straightened out for him and he's working with us for at least six months. Starting by doing some necessary checks of the slayers' shot history."
"Good for them." He watched his agent. Tony was relaxed, mostly. He was calm, collected. "Do you want to see the crime scene?"
"McGee taped it. We didn't see anything on the tape that pointed at debris we might collect. We have it narrowed down to two or one very rare thing. If so, it'd be easier to spot in the moonlight so we'll go tonight once we check in." That got a nod. "Any idea where the new target was?"
"No, not yet."
"Okay." He switched roads, noticing the car following him did too. "Hey, it's Fornell, boss." He waved back and kept going. His other people pulled in a few minutes behind Fornell.
"That highway is nuts," one of his team's people complained.
"Yeah, but it's all about power around here. That's why they cut you off on the beltway," Tony said dryly. He looked at Fornell. "How have you been?"
"Good. Merps makes a good second and tells me when to pass things on. We think we have one too."
"Okay, let's look at it once we get checked in. We'll check the base's site tonight under moonlight then yours." That got a nod and they walked in to check in on the corporate card. It didn't decline so they were happy. They put things up and gathered in Tony's room since he had a 'business suite', which meant he had a bigger table and a microwave with his coffee maker, so they could look things over.
Tim looked at the crime scene photos. "Different reasons. I've been learning this language. This second one has vengeance marks on it." He pointed at a few. "Killing style is dissimilar too."
Tony frowned. "What makes you think it was related, Fornell?" He handed over another picture and a report. "Hmm. Same slime composition. So probably the same breed if not the same demon." He shared that around, staring at the picture. "Any chance these two were together?" he asked them. Fornell shrugged. "If so, it might explain that."
"Going after one spouse or lover and getting the other to prove the vengeance?" Tim suggested. "That would point at the rarer, called demon."
"It would," Tony agreed. "That would also be a good reason for the lack of video. Both of the ones we narrowed it down to would've shown up."
"We got a black spot," Gibbs said, flipping over a picture. "That's all we got from the video when we went frame-by-frame."
Tony looked. "That's cloaked, not invisible." He passed it on and opened his laptop to get into the field manual they had. The entries he pulled up all said 'call research'. So he did. "Sammy, Tony. Quick question. Cloaked or shielded, markings in that language Tim's learning, and two different kills with different methods and markings? That case, yeah." He nodded, typing the name into the search box. "Does it have a 'q' in it?" He added that and it came up with three possibles. "Spell it?" He clicked on that one. "Thanks, Sam. What's up?" He listened. Then he giggled. "No, I think we'd all kill you if you wanted to take all the girls to Disney at once and needed chaperones. Disney would be in pieces when the slayers got done with it. Thanks for the laugh though. Needed it." He hung up and watched Tim shudder. "It was his bad thought of the day."
Tony read on the demon. "Like our called one, but a bit higher." He let them see it, getting nods. "The reason we excluded this one before is because someone would've had to *really* hate these people. They'd have to be seriously responsible for something like genocide of a family."
"That can vary on thought," their junior team member noted calmly. "You can make yourself believe that you're wiling to die to see them gone."
"That's why I got the plague but from what Gibbs said, the military person hadn't done anything that wrong."
"No, but maybe this second case did," Tim said. "With the vengeance markings it's possible." He reread over the 'calling and price' section. "Yeah, a thirty percent slice of their soul to call this one." He frowned, looking at Fornell. "Anything on the victim? What he did, anything?"
"He was a stock broker. Local law enforcement kicked it to us when they heard there was a similar case thinking it was a serial. The local liaison officer was called in and said it was demonic, to call you guys instead. They didn't listen to her."
Tony nodded. "That happens now and then to our others." They started a background on him. The stock market was risky and if someone had lost a lot of their family savings due to bad advice, then they could blame him and be that mad.
Dean looked over at Xander, who was sleeping beside him, then back at Sammy, who had decided to stretch out in the back seat this time. He smiled, shaking his head. Both of them were so young sometimes. Xander started to snuffle so he reached over to pat him on the head. "Sleep, Xander." Xander took his arm to cuddle. "No, I need that." He pulled back gently but Xander ended up with his head on his thigh. Dean pulled over and moved Xander, getting a sleepy pout. "You can't cuddle while I'm driving."
"Sorry. Don't know why," he said, curling up facing the door again.
"It's all right, Xander." He pulled back onto the road, glancing back at Sammy. Still asleep. That was a good thing. "Hey, Alien Jerky is still open," he said. "Always wanted to pop in there."
"Made of alien?" Xander asked.
"Made by aliens?"
"Could be," Dean admitted with a grin. Sometimes Xander's mind was strange. They parked and he went in to get some jerky, bringing it back out. "They have weird voices."
Xander texted Danny, getting back a groan. "He'll see."
"Good." He nibbled on a piece, nodding. "Not bad." He drove them off again, heading for LA and just above the city's limits. Xander needed to have more fun and so did they. Plus, no gambling where they were going.
Danny called Jack back. "Is the place called 'Alien Jerky' on the California/Nevada border known about? Xander asked. Dean said they had weird voices." He listened to him splutter. "You're closer. Thanks." He hung up and rubbed his eyes. That was probably a bad sign. It was probably a Gou'ald or something. He went to find some tylenol in the infirmary then went to take a nap. He could put off the administrative tasks for another few hours.
House gave him an odd look when he found him raiding the cabinet. "Drugs?"
"Headache. Xander thinks the Alien Jerky place might have real aliens." He found what he was looking for and took them dry, waving before walking off. "I'm taking a nap. Get Xander to write a report about what happened in Las Vegas please?"
"Sure, I'll let the annoying kid know you said that." He went to send that email to him. Then to Sam as well. Twenty minutes later Sam's email came back. "Must be checking it on his phone or something. He printed it and handed it to Chase. "Hand that to Jackson or someone."
"Sure. What is it?"
"Sam's report on what happened in Las Vegas to the terror trio."
"Jackson had tylenol for lunch."
"That bad," he decided, carrying it off reading it. He laughed at a few parts because he didn't think that was possible. He found Don Flack alone in the squad room. "Sam's report from Las Vegas?"
"Why are they doing a report?" Chase handed it over, making him read and giggle too. "Sounds like Xander. I'll hand it on."
"Thanks." He went to get lunch and then went back to the infirmary and his current tests. He was learning a few fascinating things. Including that Abby wore underwear with batcats on them when she came dancing in. He blushed so she kissed him and pushed down her skirt a bit more. "Thank you. Problems?"
"Danny said something about alien jerky?"
"I heard there's a place called that on the Nevada/California border," House called from the office.
"He's missing his yo-yo."
"He can have Buffy."
"I have taste," House said as he came out. "She's cute but tragic. I can't stand tragic. Now, Faith maybe." She giggled at that. "What's up?"
"Reports." She handed over her thumbnail drive. "That's what I've got done in the last week."
They settled in around the table to go over it while Chase finished his lunch. Dawn brought down the other two plates. "Thank you," House told her. "On punishment?"
"It seems to be a napping day so I'm being nice and doing some karma repair for giving others bad thoughts." She beamed.
"What bad thoughts?" Abby asked.
"Well, Sam started with his bad thought of the week. It was all us girls at Disney at once."
"No wonder the boss took tylenol for lunch," House said dryly.
"No, that was because the species that Xander saved from the mean goddess during that quest game sent us a peace treaty since we were housing and helping the new lust god Xander." She beamed at Abby's cackle. "So I'm doing karma repair with all the bad mental thoughts I've caused today."
"Definitely got me," Chase agreed, finding some tylenol and a few antacids. He handed House some too. "We should let Cameron and Xander meet, House."
House checked his forehead. "I'm the mean one, Chase, get back in character."
Dawn snickered. "He's a nice guy and he's spreading the love god's influence." She looked then pointed at something. "Super healing demon blood." They moaned. "Been used on Angel and Buffy before." She beamed. "If you add an incubus hair to it, it explodes and makes people high." She skipped out, her good deed for the week done.
"I'd ask how she knew that but she might tell me," House said, looking at the entry. "Did we find any healing properties?"
"A few," Abby said. "It regrew some of the tissue sample I was using to test it on." She let him see that report. It was good to know.
John Sheppard came out of the stargate and looked at his boss. "You summoned us from galaxy far, far away?"
"Yes. Get up here." Jack headed for his office, knowing the other person would be following. "Danny's going insane."
"We found Tok'ra down here running a jerky stand."
"Okay, that's strange. Him or us?"
"Us. Danny called us since it's alien related. Even calling it Alien Jerky." John laughed. "Exactly. That and they wanted samples from your team to test against other things."
"McKay has those."
"He'll be here when?"
"An hour. He was having problems catching one. It's on a mouse."
"That's fine." He looked at him. "Want this chair some day? If so, tell me now so I can make sure it goes to you."
"I would kill you, General."
"Absolutely. I've got enough power and headaches as is. You'd drive me nuts looking over my shoulder."
"Fine." He smirked. "Think you can sneak in and get Danny off his base for a vacation?"
"No. I think those girls are scary and would attack us if we did."
"They're slayers. They're super girls with super strength and stealth capabilities. That's how they sneak off base to go shopping, General." Jack laughed at that. "Honestly. They are. Or panty raiding."
"If you say so. Any other good news?"
"Not at the moment. The Genii are leaving us alone at the moment. The wraiths are being their usual pain in the ass selves." McKay walked in dragging a rolling, locked case. "Abby wanted samples."
"I heard. I also included some samples of some native languages to see if they relate back to Asgardian or Ancient. I figure he's bored."
"Not at the moment. Has a headache. One of his people figured out a jerky stand was being run by aliens." McKay moaned and gave him a horrified look. "They even named it Alien Jerky. The Tok'ra were running it after they crashed."
"Charming. Any other good news?"
"He said a few of the things you gave them last time did come up as demonic and one of their people got them sent a peace treaty to make nice with the new god of lust they think he is."
"I thought you being offered wives was bad," John quipped.
"Keep it up, have this seat some year soon, Sheppard." He piped down at that. "Thank you. Is that plant samples only?"
"Plant, animal, anything we haven't been able to classify or identify."
"Good. Have fun with Abby. It's apparently nap time over there. The ship will drop you off."
That got a nod from Sheppard. "How long this time?"
"Until we make sure the current issue he has isn't going to impact us. They have a demon trying to raise a people's army. They're still researching but we know it's taken people and killed everyone in the vicinity recently. He warned me that one might be military." That got a nod and they left to board the ship and head to North Dakota. It'd only take a few minutes since it was a space ship. Jack leaned back, then decided he was that mean and put John's name on the list to replace him. Because he had the experience and the right mind set to run this insanity. Or DCIS if Danny gave up. He called Sam. "McKay and Sheppard are headed to work with Abby and Danny at DCIS on some unidentified materials they found on Atlantis, Captain Carter." He smiled. "Nice to hear from you too, Sam. No, he's there. Running it." She choked. "Yes, Danny is running a government agency dealing with demons. He's been talking about getting you in to help in R&D. Plus they've got a lot of young girls there that could use a bit of a female touch from a strong woman. Sure, I'm in the office. North Dakota. That base, yeah. Have fun. Oh, you might want to go anyway. Tok'ra were running a jerky stand on the Nevada border." He hung up on her moaning. It was a nice thing when he could spread the headaches.
Abby looked up when people came in. "You're back again?"
"We got told to bring you samples and see if we can get samples back from you," John said with a charming smile.
"I'd be happy to help." She hugged them both. "Does that need refrigeration or anything?"
"A few things are in cold packs."
"Then let's break it down in the lab. Danny's taking a nap if we need anything. Xander gave him a headache." They walked up to the lab, Abby helping by pushing. McKay had formed some sort of strange brotherly feelings for Abby for some reason. Maybe because she laughed at his ranting, maybe not. But they could get along. The copies of the language samples were set aside and the rest got put where it needed to go. Then she and McKay got to work to see what they already knew about and what could be easily broken down. Abby gave him a copy of what they had in results, known materials, and cures, letting them go over it while they worked and chatted. At least until a blonde woman walked in. "Hi, who're you?" Abby asked, hand inching toward her taser.
"That is Doctor Samantha Carter," McKay said dryly. "She was on Daniel's team before."
"Oh, hey." She waved. "We're comparing samples to see what we already know that they don't." She got back to work. "Danny's taking a nap, Xander gave him a headache."
"Okay. Jack said I might want to come look at some of these, McKay?"
He shrugged. "You might as well. I'm sure you've seen a few demons at Area 51."
Abby looked at her. "Are the aliens nicer than some of the demons we have around here?"
"Depends on the alien," John told her, making Sam give him a horrified look. "She knows. The demons know and passed on some of our things to them. Including a few weapons and space ship parts. We've had this conference a few times, that's why we get sent. That and so I can try to recruit some of the girls."
"If you want, Tiff's back to mostly normal. She's only seventeen though."
"That's a good age," he decided. "I'll talk to Danny and Xander later."
"He's on vacation. Hence the headache gifts. Ooooooh, he somehow got blessed with luck. He walked past a slot machine and it went off."
John squeezed his eyes shut for a moment then opened them. "That's not a bad gift to have."
"He was in a major casino with Sam and Dean. They're lucky they weren't beaten."
"Probably. Where are they headed now?"
"California somewhere. They're under orders to take a vacation and make Xander take one too. That's why he did the D&D quest game the demons were running at a demon casino and beat it, getting a box of spewing money."
"That's an even nicer prize," McKay said. "Think he'd share?"
"Xander shares too much very often," she said with a pat on the arm for him. "He gives many headaches sometimes. Bad mental images on others. Especially ones that make Dawn and the girls cackle."
Sam shook her head quickly. That sounded worse than Jack. "What are we working on?" They made room for her once she had on gloves. "What's this?"
"Samples from our lab," McKay told her. "Things we can't classify or identify."
"Okay." She got to work on one sample. "This one comes up blood?"
Abby leaned over to look. "Queztel blood. Huh. We found that on a case down here. Maybe there's a portal link to you guys or something." She typed quickly and pulled up the case to compare it. "Looks like we have a bigger sample and a few other samples from that case in the vault." She printed off the index page. "So we can cross-reference later."
"Of course. I'd like to know how they got a weapon the last time."
"Us too," Sheppard said. "Let me go wander while you three geek out." Abby swatted him. "If I'm recruiting I should come in with a wish list of personnel." He walked off. Watching the girls in training was fun. They were doing good and then one of the younger ones would pounce the older ones and it'd turn into a brawl. Then the guy overseeing it would stop them and get them back on track for a while longer. It was so cute. He walked down to lurk and watch, reaching down to pet George. He had liked Rodney too for some reason. John looked over at him. "Trying to recruit."
"Uh-huh. Danny's on his office couch."
"I'll talk to him and whoever later."
"Wes is local," Faith called with a wave. "Hey, cutey."
"Hey, Faith. Watch out." She ducked the swing Brenda sent at her head, tickling her back, making her shriek.
"Girls!" John snapped.
"Oh, lighten up the starch in the thong," Brenda said, then covered her mouth. "Sorry, John."
"Thongs are for bad girls and easy guys. I'm not either."
"Does that mean Dean wears one?" one of the horniness patrol asked with a cute grin.
"Ask him yourself."
"Did you see any when you went to raid?" Faith asked.
"Well, no," she admitted. "But he does look like he's commando now and then." Their mentor moaned, shaking his head at that. "I don't know if it's because he needs to do more laundry or not."
"Probably where you stole them all," John told her. "Behave."
"But we're *bored*!" she whined. "Our free day is tomorrow. Can't we slack today? Everyone else is taking a nap."
"Xander caused that. Sammy too," John admitted. Faith gave him an odd look. "Sammy had his bad thought of the week." All the girls stared at him. "All of you at Disney at once."
Faith shuddered. "I'd freak out at the happiness patrol. Don't even suggest that!"
"Someone who thought Xander was a lust god sent in a peace treaty," one of the girls told her. "He managed to defeat their bad girl goddess."
"Probably slept with her," Faith muttered. "Come on, John, let them have some slack today? They're all whiny."
"Am not," Brenda complained. "I'm bouncy."
"No chocolate for you," John quipped. "Fine. Go." They ran to the rec room and the tv in there to fight over what to watch. He looked at Sheppard. "You wanted to recruit which one?"
"They keep trying to get me to recruit one who went ego driven but a few others have been catching my attention. The twin redheads and one blonde that's only sixteen."
"She's in Cleveland. Went with Buffy and Giles. The two redheads are in the infirmary today doing girl exam things." John nodded once at that. "You'd have to ask Wes and Xander. As for Tiff, it might do her good. A firmer guiding hand seems to work better with her."
"Then I'll talk to him about it. Is Wes taking a nap too?"
"He's hiding in the library working on the demon that wants a few of us and Sammy."
"Sure." He headed that way, finding Wes easily enough. Dawn was teasing him and making him blush bright red. "Hey, Wes, can I save you from the mean girls?"
"It's most appreciated," he said, fleeing with him. "What's going on this time? More leaks?"
"Not that we know of. I've been thinking about recruiting."
"Ah. Which ones?"
"The pair of redhead twins and people keep talking Tiff up to me. Maybe one of the sixteen-year-olds."
"That may help her," he admitted, walking off with him to go over their files at Xander's desk. Since that's where he kept them. The updates from the base psychologist were in Tiff's as well. John was sure they could cure it since Rodney could sneer anyone into feeling less significant than they were. They went to talk to her. "Good morning," John said. "Colonel John Sheppard."
"New agent?" she sneered.
"He's here to see if you might do better on his project, Tiff," Wesley said firmly. "That way you can put your skills to use and prove that you have moved on from your problems."
"Why would I want to work with you?" she sneered.
"Because I work on a project that runs into more than demons. We have some interesting cases we handle. We're under threat of invasion. You'd be one of the main protectors of a base once you went through boot camp so we knew you know what the rest of us know. You might even be placed on an exploratory and meeting team." He leaned against the wall, arms crossed. "I can guarantee that as far as we know, no one's heard of you and your skills. There seems to be some slime and parts crossovers but nothing information- wise that we've found out. You'd be the only slayer there but you'd have to work with the rest of us. Including us normal folks who are there to do the same thing you are." He smirked at her. "We can finish your education and make sure that you have a place where you feel you're doing your duty. Our base shrink isn't so bad. You'd be almost magical but you'd be among people who would respect you for your strengths, including your mind and training."
"Just me?" She stood up and came over. "Not Buffy, Faith, or Xander?"
"No, Xander would drive us nuts. I was thinking about the two redheads. They have the right reactions to work on the project." He stared her down. "We work closely with scientists and you'd be more than able to finish your education up there, even going toward science when your powers leave you at twenty-three."
"What's the bad side?" she asked. "That's too sweet."
"Alien menaces who want to kill us. I'm part of Daniel Jackson's old project. You'd be a big help on ours. We wouldn't put up with any special girl attitude you pull but we could use you and your training."
She looked at Wesley. "It's not too bad?"
"Not too bad. They have been attacked a few times. They would expect you to learn a lot about weapons, which you are proficient in. They could help you with this transition and the project is a long running one. It's been over a year now."
"Is there anyone else to talk to?"
"Our head of scientists is with Abby in the lab. We had some things that we think might be more relevant here so we're cross-checking. We come down to do it about every four months. So you could check in and all that."
She looked at Wesley. "Would that be patrol?"
"It would count as patrol so if they didn't put you on the payroll right away we could pay you the usual stipend. You'd be in a very hazardous situation, Tiff. Even worse than the hellmouth at times."
She shrugged. "How bad are they?"
"We have things that suck life force from you to kill you," John told her.
"Space vampires?" He nodded. "Can they be staked?"
"They can be shot," he offered. "I'm not sure staking works."
"Then we'll have to see." She smiled. "I want to talk to him."
"Of course." He paged Rodney, getting a fussy, complaining scientist being led down by Abby. "McKay, this is Tiff. She's one of the slayers."
"Why is she down here?"
"She had a large bout of special girl syndrome," Abby told him. She released the barrier fencing her in. "Their project looks really neat, Tiff. Plus your skills are excellent for what they need."
"If you say so." She looked at Rodney. "I'm still back on about the ninth grade level from what we know. I'm studying hard to catch up. Studly here thinks I could finish my education and maybe learn sciency stuff under you?"
"If you have a talent for it. Though I do have some idiots in the lab. You can't possibly be worse than them unless you go on a fit and break things on purpose."
"No, I go to the heavy bag for that stuff," she said quietly. "Space vampires?"
"Basically only they suck life energy out instead."
"There's a lot of combat or a little?"
"Depends on which team you're on," he said dryly. "Our team seems to see a lot of problems. The rare attempted invasion. That sort of thing. Aliens who want to keep the good Colonel because he might sleep with them."
She looked at him. Then at Wes. "So he's like a nicer, more in command Xander?"
"In a few ways," Abby agreed. "He's the head of all the military guys on that base, Tiff."
She looked at him. "Can I try it until you come back for the next lab conference?"
"You can," he agreed, holding out a hand. She shook it. "I'll help Wes get you outfitted so you don't have to wear BDU's. There's not many women on base if you have girl issues."
"I'm on a pill to stop those. Slayer blood attracts bad things."
"Good to know," he agreed. "Wes?"
"We can gladly outfit her, Colonel. Practical clothes for hunting, some sleep gear? Anything she'll need for her room?"
"Bring movies, please," McKay told her. "Plus music. We can't download anything."
"I can do that." She looked at Wesley. "Do I have to stay down here?"
"As long as you can behave until you go," he warned. She nodded. "No picking on Dawn and the others. Xander's off on vacation with Sam and Dean."
"Fine. Thank you for the offer," she told them. That got a nod and they walked off, giving her the spare corner of Wes's room since hers had been taken by another girl. He took her to outfit her with John's help. He was former military and would know what she'd need most on the base.
John Sheppard went to talk to the two redheads, enduring the giggling. One wanted to think about it, one was very unsure so he had them talk to Sam for a while. She would help them make a good decision. Or maybe they'd go take her place on a stargate team. It was a good bit of recruiting. Wesley made sure he had her file before he headed back the next night. McKay would be staying for a few days, like usual. They had to get back before something happened or someone invaded again. He introduced her to Jack, who stared her down then nodded that she'd do. He took her back, handing her file to Heightmeyer for her continued psychological needs. Then he introduced her to Teyla and Ronon. She fell in love with Teyla and they were evenly matched. Even if Teyla was a bit more quiet and steady than Tiff was. She'd be a good mentor for the girl. Her medical file got handed to Doctor Beckett and she was set. He ran her through boot camp personally, making sure she knew all that she needed to know. Teyla helped where she could. It'd be good for the girl and the project.
Xander looked at the destroyed section of ground, pointing. "I lived there," he said.
Dean looked. "It looked like it was a pretty town, Xander."
"To draw people to it," he agreed. Sam rubbed his back. "I'm okay. I took the time to mourn the ones we lost. Anya would've been very loud about how the girls were getting horny at times." They smiled at that. It was a good memory. He felt someone come up behind them and looked. "Hey, Paige."
"Hey, Xander. Doing a minute of mourning?"
He stared at her. "You're not Paige."
"No, but I'm less friendly so you won't beat me in this form." She shifted back to her usual one, getting a shrug from Xander before he went back to watching. "The seal was destroyed. She can't come back out."
Xander snorted. "The third rule of Sunnydale: never say never. It happens here." He smirked at her. "After all, how many places could a hell goddess live without notice for the most part? Especially with strange minions running around breaking things for her."
"Good point. What's the first?"
"Don't die. The second is do everything to ensure rule number one. The fourth is 'never say it's a quiet night, it'll jinx the patrol'." He shot her another look. "Why the visit?"
"We felt you show up." Xander shrugged. "Some of us are wary of things that could try to use the power."
"We'd find out. We keep a satellite trained on this area and I have some of the local demons reporting to me if anyone tries. That's why I let them eat the one who was digging last month. Sunnydale may have fallen in but I still have a duty to it."
"Good enough for us then. Are you staying long?"
"No," he said, shaking his head. "Just having a moment when I was showing the boys what happened." He looked back and she was gone. He looked at Dean, then at Sam. "It's good they're worried too."
"It is," Sam agreed. "It means we'll hear if someone tries." He stroked Xander's back again. "C'mon. Let's hit our hotel for the night." Xander nodded and walked back to the back seat while Dean and Sam got the front. Dean backed them off, keeping the music off for now. "Any word on Willow?"
"Angel found Spike. Phoebe and them have Spike to see if they can be separated out. She's napping in him somehow."
"Bet he's not happy."
"They were odd, intolerant friends before," Xander admitted. "He understood her best when she snapped in grief."
"So they'll be fine until they can wake her and separate them," Sam decided.
"Unless she wakes up and starts to babble at him. That's entirely possible with Willow." They smirked at that and Dean flipped on the music once they were past the town's borders. They headed back toward upper LA county. Dean had a plan. Dawn had told him a few things. So they'd do Universal Studios then Disney for him. Maybe he'd pick up something to pick on his dad about while there.
Tony looked up at the huge demon that had been called to kill the two people. Whoever had called it originally had called it on his team. Tim was getting help. Their junior member was injured. "I knew Xander should've taken this case." He ducked a swing by the thing's paws. He fired at it. Incorporeal. Wonderful! Fortunately the bullet hit a building and lodged in a wall so he didn't hurt anyone. He ducked another hit then tried to change tactics. Thinking like Xander and Benny Ray, he pulled something out of his pocket and changed clips while he ran from it. Then he turned and fired. The holy water hollow tipped exploded in it. It was solid to take another bat at him. It screamed but kept coming. "Not good."
"Blessed silver," Buffy yelled. "Duck!" He ducked and she jumped in to get the demon, making it howl and try to escape. Tim chanted the capturing cantrip, sticking it there until she had killed it. She was panting by the time she was done. "Wow."
"It killed two people," Tony told her. He helped her up from the ground. "Is it dead?" he asked Tim since he was checking.
"Yeah, fully dead and slowly turning to goo."
"That takes holy water or Willow stuff," Buffy said. She looked at his gun. "It bellowed when you shot it."
"Xander and Benny Ray put together some holy water hollow tipped bullets," he said, taking one out to show her.
"Wow. A tiny bit of holy water. Wonder if that would work on vamps since it burns them."
"Could," Tony said, taking it back and reloading his gun. They walked back over. "Did we get the summoner?" he demanded.
"In custody. Gibbs has her," he assured him. He smiled at Buffy. "Nice work."
"Now all you have left is the report," Tim added.
She pouted at Tony. "Why do I have to do reports?"
"For your council and ours. We'll need it for the court case, Buffy. All the girls who go on field calls with us or take out spirits and things for us have to do reports." He patted her on the back. "We'll go over it at the hotel so it's fresh in your mind."
"Fine." They managed to get the demon down to goo then hosed it off with the holy water Fornell found for them. Buffy did the watering, it was her duty after all. She looked at them. "Why didn't you have one of us with you?"
"Most of the time we arrest them, Buffy. We do go on the penal code."
"That sounds kinda dirty," she said with a blush.
"It means the legal code," Tim told her. "We arrest them if they're doing bad things. We only hunt when it's the last option. "
"Because a demon stealing food isn't really needing death," Tony explained. "It needs taught better and the problem that created the need for food solved. You had no choice. We're not hunters, we're agents."
"I guess that's okay." She finished up then handed back the jug. "Thank you." She followed them back to the car.
"Do I leave this mess here?" Fornell demanded.
"The rains coming tonight will wash it down the sewer and it'll be fine," Tim assured him. "How's our girl?"
"Injured. Highly injured. In traction. Awake and swearing."
"We'll let the base know," Tony said. "Maybe we can move her back so she's at home. I know she's got a puppy to take care of." They got into the car and headed back to the hotel, making Buffy write her report while they did theirs. At least until Gibbs knocked. Tony sighed before letting him in. "Hey, boss. It's dead and gone. Buffy, this is my former boss, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, one of the senior agents at NCIS."
"Hi." She smiled. "I got called in to slay."
"If it has to happen it does." He looked at Tony. "You have stubborn people."
"Yes I do," he said proudly.
"Are you going to let them do it? She seems competent if you called her."
"Oh, no. I'm a slayer not an agent," Buffy said, hopping up to look at him. "I could never do the suit stuff they do or the arresty stuff they do. I hunt and I slay. It's my predestined role until the powers go away or I die again."
"Again?" Gibbs asked.
"This next time will make three times," she said with a grin. "Xander brought me back after the Master drowned me. Willow pulled me out of heaven after I died to lock Glory out of sucking earth into hell. Because it was wrong of her not to do it the normal way and try to suck it here instead. Plus it saved Dawnie. So the next time I die we'll have to see."
Gibbs shook his head quickly. "Put it off for as long as you can."
"I will. Being dead sucks." She smiled at Tim. "Doesn't it?"
"I don't remember much of it." Gibbs gave him an odd look. "I'm only alive because I accidentally possessed Xander and Dawn sneezed."
"She is *way* too much like Xander now and then," Buffy said.
"Report," Tim told her. "So you can go back to Cleveland." She sighed but got back to it. "In english that anyone else can read. No slang, no abbreviations, nothing like that, Buffy."
"Yes, Timmy." He grimaced at that name but oh well! That Ryan cutie had said others called him that. She got back to work, ignoring his huff at that name. "Tony's a very good boy, Agent Gibbs. He hires eye candy for the girls to stare at. He hires people to do some of Xander's work for him so he doesn't die under the strain of it. He even plays with the youngest slayers when they need it." She smiled. "I heard a great story about a snowball fight the girls ambushed him with but he ended up winning because he was sneakier."
"That's good for him," he agreed. He looked at Tony. "You could come back. There's a team leader position open."
"I'm a team leader now, boss," he said quietly. "Teams I put together. I'm second-in- command at DCIS. I love what I do. I get to prevent bad things before they happen to good people or demons. Instead of answering calls to dead bodies and finding out who did it."
"I can see that's important. We could still use you."
Tony nodded. "I know you could. There's lots of guys who could be me if you trained them."
"I tried. So far they're failing."
"Isn't that partially the director's fault?" he offered quietly. "She tried to have us arrested for doing this case."
"I yelled," he admitted. He stared Tony down. "You'll have to come home sometime."
"I have a wonderful job and a good life, Gibbs. With a lot less stress on my soul most of the time. I get to stop things instead of getting there afterward. It's important to me."
Gibbs frowned. "You can do that with our unit."
"No, we answer crimes after they happen. Last month I got to sit down and work out a peace treaty between two clans that had been at war for over a generation. Faith basically told them to work it out or she'd get to work out her lack of boyfriend stress on them but it kept down the bloodshed."
He sighed. "Fine. Are you coming back anytime soon?"
"Only to visit and for cases. My home is in North Dakota. Even if I am missing all the nubile young women, the museums, and clubs. I can travel a few hours and get it or get it on our last night of casework usually." He smiled a bit. "Don't do what Horatio did in Miami and kidnap me, okay?"
"I won't have to sink that low." He looked at him. "The director still wants you in jail."
"The case was turned over to us. It's not our fault we're efficient and keep people from getting killed."
"She's going to try to get yours shut down or absorbed."
"There's six people in Congress who've made bad deals," Tim said honestly. "If they try to shut us down, it'll imbalance all the demon networks and make the ones they made deals with cranky. There's a lot of higher judges, political appointees, and a few White House staffers who have made the same deal."
"Including the head of Homeland Security who came to steal profiles and records," Tony agreed. "You didn't hear that, Buffy."
"I don't hear things like that unless they come after me."
"Good." He looked at Gibbs again, getting a cool look back. "I can tell you what to look for on her since she's never really been an agent except for some undercover time in the past."
"She's not. I'd know."
"If you're sure. I'll warn Danny she's going to try. Thanks for the head's up."
"Have time for a beer?"
"Buffy needs to get back and so do we. Danny's had a migraine the last day and a half thanks to Xander's gifts slipping in Las Vegas." Buffy gave him a horrified look and a small whimper. "He got blessed to good luck. He walked past a slot machine and it went off."
"Oh damn. That poor city. Did Dean and Sam save him?"
"They saved each other. It spread from Xander to them."
"Oooooh," she moaned, looking disturbed. "That poor, poor city. It got Xander'd."
"There was this D&D style quest game that Xander found and went into," Tony told her. "Sword and sorcery stuff." She whimpered. "He won it and they sent a peace treaty since Xander beat their evil goddess and made the people think he was a god of lust from the testimony of the wenches he slept with during the game."
She shuddered. "No, not dating too. Damn it, the world's going to end," she whined. "I need to find a good nail and hair place before the world ends."
"Nah, Sam's taking him to Disney and Universal Studios," Tony told her. "Though the bad thought syndrome did spread. Sammy had the thought of all you girls at Disney together."
She gave him a horrified look. "They'd sue us after something broke or Annabelle made the princesses cry because they couldn't fight."
"Cordette made Sleeping Beauty confused because she asked why she didn't just beat up on the mean witch when she tried to attack her. Alan had to tell her about the full fairytale."
"The one with the cut off feet and them dying during the wedding from the overheated floor?" Tim asked. Tony nodded. "Cordette's one hell of a girl."
"She is. Faith and I went to see her when we were in LA handling stuff for Morgan and Crissy." She looked at Tony. "Are they back?"
"Tomorrow from what I heard. Angel has it since it's so slow right now. Report." She sighed but got back to it. He looked at the amused Gibbs. "We're looking for good agents, Boss. No chance of you getting in control of the agency. We have a few open spots. Xander's team handles things like weapons dealers or the situations we think will end in artillery play. He's got an open spot on his team. The girls could use a few more watchers too." Buffy nodded at that. "Being a Marine would be excellent for that and so would all the experience as an agent. It'd help them learn how to track down the bad demons they hunt."
"I'll consider it if you do."
"I'm not leaving DCIS, boss. I love it there. They need me. They even like my movies."
"The girls borrow them all the time," Buffy agreed. "Or his couch to watch them." Gibbs swatted her on the head. "Hey, don't mess up the prettiness. It takes a long time to get pretty every day."
Gibbs looked at her. "You worry about that?"
"Yes. Otherwise my life is slay and repeat. I start to look really old and the demons comment and I can't get a boyfriend. Not fun." She finished up and let Tim read it, and watched him correct it and hand it back. She sighed in displeasure but fixed the few spots. "I'm glad we don't have to do this as a slayer."
"The Watcher keeps a chronicle," Tony said, patting her gently on the back of the head. She checked her hair then went back to correcting. He smirked at Gibbs. "You drove me insane but this form of insanity is better for me."
Gibbs looked at him. "Fine. I'll consider your offer." Tony beamed. "Any others on the table?"
"We're building new apartments on base. Paid room and board. Nice caf that the girls occasionally take over to feed us all dessert. We're on base most of the time. The prison's under the base if something happens. Trips to the local town, which is in walking or jogging distance. It's got a small mall and things. Major city about two or three hours away, where the airport is. The girls could use more mentors. Three just went to a special project in Colorado from what I heard." Buffy stared at him. "Tiff and the two redheads. Tiff went off with Sheppard and McKay if you've met them."
"Wow. Hotties in space," she muttered. "She'll be good?"
"She's one of the defenders on base, Buffy," he assured her. "It uses her outlook but also teaches her things and how to handle things."
"Then that's good they could find a spot for her after she went psycho special girl."
"Like you do?" Tim suggested.
"I didn't want to see Xander hurt. I hate seeing Xander hurt."
"Think about all the ones that would've come after him if he hadn't hunted with you, Buffy," he said calmly. "Apparently Xander's a part-time seer too." She shuddered. "The crazy knights, as Dawn calls them, and Glorificus' people both said he was a seer. The First Evil had a portion of the prophecy that called him a seer."
"So he'd be on the hit list anyway. Think about what happened when you were around and not ignoring him."
"I guess it could've been pretty bad for him."
He nodded. "Very bad. He'd be turned or a love slave somewhere."
"Then I guess it's okay. I still don't like seeing him hurt."
"Then you should've trained him," he said bluntly.
"I got that from John and Wes." She slumped but went back to her report. "Thanks, Tim. Now I know why the girls go to you for advice."
"Because I'm blunt but honest? Yeah. Usually." She smiled at that. "Giles has to be wondering where you are."
"Dawn called." She finished up and let him proofread it again for her. It got printed out and signed. "Ha! No more paperwork! I'm a free slayer again." She called Dawn. "Paperwork sucketh but is over." She smiled as she nearly danced through the portal back to her land of stake and retreat.
Tony smiled. "She'll figure it out some day," he said once the portal was closed. He looked at Gibbs again. "Come see me on base, boss? You might like it. We have a lighter caseload too."
"We'll see." He took the report to look over. "That's considered acceptable?"
"It's a sliding scale," Tim admitted. He finished his and printed it. "Buffy doesn't do well writing papers for classes or reports." Gibbs smirked a bit at that. "So we let her slide with less than perfection on those things and let her be perfect in other areas." He handed over his once he had checked it and signed it. "There, formal CSI-speak version."
Tony sat down to work on his own report, proofreading it then grammaticking it before printing it and handing it over. "There's mine, boss. We'll head tonight so you don't have to get handcuffs out for her."
He nodded, swatting him again. "Call more often. McGee is missing being picked on." He left, taking the reports back to the office. He photocopied them for Fornell, since he was waiting, and handed the rest in with the case summary. "There, solved."
She glared at him. "Why did you call them?"
"Because I had no idea what killed that demon or how to find out who called it down to kill those two people, Director. Not like I summon them." He walked off, finding Fornell laughing. "That girl Buffy who killed it, we have any idea on her?"
"She's one of the two senior slayers," Fornell said, looking at him. "She's in Cleveland if you need someone sooner."
"I'll remember that. They're heading off. Their junior agent?"
"Got moved back to their infirmary, where her puppy was waiting to lap her to death. It was so cute I gagged."
"DiNozzo had that sort of sappy grin too. He said they're still hiring."
"Not my people they're not. Merps gives anyone who wants to go details about cases and those girls. Did DiNutso mention the girls were panty raiding the agents' apartments?"
"They're teenage girls locked on a base. Doesn't surprise me they're crushing."
"No, they had to go steal them back from the girls. They had to do a full inspection and confiscate them and some girls tried to get them back."
"Then they need a stronger hand."
"They've got one former Marine, his two sons, and Harris."
"He's on vacation at the moment."
"Charming. They could use you and you'd be happier with them than here." He heard the director shriek. "Especially with that being around."
"I know." He made shooing motions. "Go." Fornell left. Gibbs gathered stuff and followed, calling McGee on the way. "Make sure they get off okay." He smirked at the 'already taxing off, boss' he got back. "Good. See you bright and early." He grimaced. "You sure you want to do that?" He nodded. "You could and your computer skills could come in handy. I can understand why. Try it for a few weeks, take some vacation time and come back if it doesn't suit you." He hung up and went home to think and sulk. With McGee going he'd have a team full of probies. Which he was going to hate. He heard his front door open and went to see who it was with his sidearm. He wasn't expecting anyone. So when the director proved she could break and enter it annoyed him more. "What?" he asked.
"I'd expect and like some cooperation since I'm trying to get your team back from that poaching joke of an agency," she said coolly. "Whoever poached had no right."
Gibbs held up a hand, shaking his head slightly. "Tony was asked to be senior agent by the last president personally, Director. He was there before their first official director was named. As for it being a joke? Their skills saved mine and others' lives here and in other cities. Not to mention how they responded to that invasion. Did you want to do it?"
"That's why we have the National Guard," she sneered.
"Who had no idea what they were doing before the agents at DCIS told them," he shot back. "It was very clear on one of the news feeds that Harris was instructing him on how to close the portal to stop the things and how to fight the ones they already had. The National Guard had no idea what they were handling. Beyond that, it's not their duty. It's technically those girls' duty to handle those sort of things. Has been since before writing started." She gaped. "DCIS jumped into *their* problems and helped them solve them so they're able to do their job while DCIS works with them and on separate cases. They do a hell of a job handling cases I don't want to think about."
"They have a *linguist* for a director," she said, going fully cold now. How dare he argue with her!
"One who was on a special operations project from the Pentagon. I'm guessing the president thought he did a hell of a job considering he bumped him from a team member to heading that agency of headache-inducing cases and invasions."
She huffed. "They're still not a real agency, Jethro."
"They sure seemed like it, even if DiNozzo did make sure they didn't have hardly any paperwork outside of reports. The guy who transferred back to the FBI due to injuries said that they do a lot of good work, even if they are a band of goofballs half the time. They handle a lot of cases that various departments and agencies call in to them. DiNozzo made sure they have a good mix of skills so they can solve whatever comes in, no matter how bad it is."
"He's never run anything."
"I taught him everything I know and he saw how badly others have run departments," he said, staring her down. "Your policies are what let him steal Abby, Director. She was our biggest agency credit," he said at her new sneer. "I'm very proud of Abby. Especially since she was just nominated for a scientific award for her research out there." She gaped. He nodded. "She's rewriting half of forensics as we know it so it'll work on those cases as well. It's also advancing our own fields. DiNozzo poached for talent."
"They're still a joke," she sneered. "They have no standards. Their agents wear whatever they pull on, even if it is wrinkled. I'm told they won't work with Homeland."
"The director over there had someone steal personnel records from Jackson's office. Hell no they won't work with him but they'll still handle cases when needed." He stepped closer. "Beyond that, I'd rather work with an agent wearing ratty jeans and a sweatshirt who knows what he's doing instead of some perfectly pressed Xerox agent who had to get orders to wipe his own nose, Director. With as much running as they did earlier, jeans and sneakers are more practical. Especially since they have to have a very good grasp of various weapons. DiNozzo was using hollow point bullets with holy water. The girl they called in as backup had a sword. DiNozzo handled it later on like he knew what to do with one. They have very high standards and I'm damn proud of DiNozzo for meeting up to them. It shows I helped him become an excellent agent. That's why he took Abby as well, the best of the best. I may lose McGee to them due to strengths in computers and other fields plus his investigative work. There's a reason they hired CSIs from the top labs in the country and very few agents from the FBI. Now, is there anything else? Because you broke into my house. Even if the door was unlocked," he said when she opened her mouth.
"You want to join him, don't you."
He shrugged. "I don't like the case matter they're handling. I didn't like it when I helped shut down the program that got them started. I don't like thinking about other sentient species we share the world with. It's not my thing as the young kids say," he finished blandly.
She sneered. "If McGee goes, he's gone."
"If he goes I'm sure he'll be taking vacation time to make sure he wants to be there. That's a reasonable thing to do and you cannot dictate to him what he does on vacation unless it's something illegal. Now, anything else? Before DiNozzo has to come back and talk to his direct boss again?" She huffed off. He slammed the door after her. "What did I see in her?" he muttered as he walked off back to the boat. He called McGee. "She's going to try to stop you." He listened. "That's a better solution then. I didn't know they had a formal hiring process in place. I thought it was still recruitment only." He smiled. "Good to know. Tell me when you have that interview. No, she was just here. No, I don't need backup, McGee. I promise." He hung up and got back to the boat. This was a mess. His beloved agency, the one he had nearly died for multiple times, was going to hell. So maybe the agency would turn into a DCIS case. He shook that thought off. It was a bad one. They might put him in charge. He heard a knock and went to see who it was. "Yes?" he asked the Secret Service agent. Only they wore that uptight of suits and earwhiggs all the time.
"Special Agent Gibbs, the president would like to know what happened earlier."
He looked at himself then at the agent. "Let me change."
"Don't bother, sir. He's in the car." He pointed at the limo. "If you would?"
"Sure." He closed the door and went down to talk to him. "Sir. I'd salute but it's hard to do in the back of a limo."
"Don't worry about it this time, Gibbs. What happened on that case earlier?"
"DiNozzo's team found who had summoned it. They let Fornell's team and my team arrest her but she had time to call it back. DiNozzo and his team took on the demon, resulting in his junior team member's injury and them having to call a young blonde woman."
"Buffy, yes, sir. Not sure of her last name."
"That's probably her." He flipped through the report. "She doesn't write very good reports."
Gibbs smirked. "DiNozzo and Speedle had a philosophy of letting her do what she does best and setting a minimum standard for the rest. That's how I did it too."
"Good." He put the forms aside. "Beyond that, what happened? Did you two talk?"
"We did. We had a talk in the motel. Why?"
"There's been reports of them not being able to work with other agencies."
"The Director of Homeland did steal personnel records for some reason. I know DiNozzo and Abby both said that they won't do anything he asks but if they come up with a case they'll still work it. Even though it did endanger Harris and one of his other people's lives by taking their records for some unknown entity."
"I heard that." He sighed, shifting his position to lean on a wall. "Your director?"
"She claims she's trying to get my team back but she's made various threats against DCIS, sir. She's also called them a joke because DiNozzo kept down the level of paperwork and they have a very light dress code. She's been trying to act against them since the invasion. She thought it was the job of the National Guard. When I pointed out they had no idea how to do it and DCIS had actually jumped into the slayer's duty, she sneered about them wearing scruffy clothes and Doctor Jackson being a linguist."
"I see. Does DiNozzo seem happy there?"
"He said he's not coming back, sir. He likes that he gets to prevent problems as often as he does respond to ones that have already happened. He said he's very happy there and McGee has applied to move with him." That got a nod. "I also know that Abby has received a nomination for her work in the R&D department out there. She said it's a very prestigious scientific award."
"That's excellent. I hope she gets it with as many things as she's come up with."
"Sir, is there a move to shut them down?"
He smirked. "Hell no, Jethro. The FBI and Homeland don't want to do their job for them. Your director suggested it should be absorbed and I've heard nothing but complaints about her ideas. The director of the FBI wanted to shoot her for it."
Gibbs smirked. "I had that feeling when she barged into my house earlier without an invitation."
"Proves she's not a vampire," the president said dryly, cracking his agent up. "This leaves us with a problem or four."
"DiNozzo did suggest I come out and apply, or perhaps apply to be a watcher instead. That my training would help the girls."
The president smiled and pulled something out, handing it over. "They sent me a thank you letter for letting DCIS take them in." Gibbs read it, bursting out laughing. "They're good girls for the most part. Though, a special project in Cheyenne Mountain did get three of them recently."
"I know what project Doctor Jackson had been on, sir." He handed it back. "We had a case and I was called in specially because I have the security clearance to deal with it. It was right after that Initiative mess."
"Good to know. So you know?" He nodded. "About both parts?"
"I know they were thinking about adding another facet. I was paying more attention to who raped two young women on the base."
"Even better for your sanity." He sighed and shifted again. "Jethro, I don't know what to do with your agency."
"Most of us do good work, sir."
"I know that."
"The way it was before her worked well."
"So I've been told by Morrow. He wanted to string her up for attempted treason. He thinks that hindering DCIS could lead to the US being invaded or another coup attempt, or possibly another assassination attempt. They did stop one from trying me during my swearing in." Gibbs nodded that he remembered. "What do you want to do?"
He pointed. "She's back."
He looked. "Hell."
"Basically. Is that gas?" He hopped out and went to stop her. "What do you think you're doing!" he demanded.
"You're going wrong, Jethro."
He punched her, handing the Secret Service agent the gas. "The hell I am. You need help, Director." He cuffed her and dragged her back to the open door of the limo. "Sir, permission to have her admitted somewhere good?"
"I can have that done," he agreed. "That would put you in charge."
"I'd leave, sir. You know it'd drive me nuts."
"Give me two weeks to try to find her replacement, Jethro. Then you can figure things out. Make sure it works." He nodded, handing her over. "Have a better night. I'll think about what you said." The agent shut the door after getting in to guard the prisoner. He got to call a facility they used for problems coming from higher ups. "Check her for marks."
He did, shaking his head. "Just paranoid. There's been a few cults since the invasion, sir. DCIS and the FBI both worked on them since the demons had went to taunt the main one a few times." The president smiled at that. "From what I heard Messer and Flack made them stop it and pointed out they were being childish. To let them be until they did something bad, then they'd spank them was how I heard it went."
"Someone clearly needs it. I can't believe she walked past the limo with it, fully intending to do it in front of us."
"Perhaps she thought you'd let her get away with it, sir."
"No I won't." They pulled up in front of a discreet hospital and he got out to find someone. He smiled at the doctor rushing out to meet him. "I have a federal director who is having some problems adjusting to there being other menaces she doesn't have to deal with. She tried to burn someone's house earlier. I want to admit her please."
"We can do a seventy-two hour commitment, sir. That would give someone time to have her legally turned over. Do you have her here?"
"In the limo. In cuffs. She went off on an agent who supports DCIS and still likes his former agent who went there."
"We do have a few demons on staff so we'll keep them away from her, sir." She followed him out to get her new patient. One of the orderlies came to walk her off since she was waking up. "We'll do our best, sir. Should we send you a report around hour sixty for the judge?"
"If you can. Thank you." She nodded and followed her patient to get her admitted and checked over. He climbed back in. "Get me Bob at the FBI on..." His agent handed over the phone. "Good job anticipating. Bob, me. Sheppard just tried to burn Jethro Gibbs' house with my limo in the driveway. I was asking him about DCIS and her problems that he's seen. She showed up with a can of gas. I had her admitted to the Presley Center. Seventy-two. They'll send a report over around hour sixty. We'll see. Start on it just in case, Bob. Also, check into why the Director of Homeland stole records from Jackson's office for me. Yes, that's what caused that problem. Thank you, Bob." He hung up and leaned back. He shifted. "Think Jackson could tell me how to cure the curse that gave me the suddenly appearing case of hemorrhoids?"
"Possibly. I know he has a witch in training out there, sir."
"Excellent. I'll send him an email or something. What's up with the next election? Any idea who the frontrunner is going to be?"
"Not yet, sir. There's still people jumping into the race. We'll have to see."
"Any of them that down on DCIS as well?"
"Two fundamentalists and one very loud congressman, sir. But he's on the list of people we think have made deals with demons for power."
"Charming. Let's take a meeting with him to find out."
"Yes, sir. In two days?"
"That'll work." He shifted again. "Let me call Jackson." He dialed out there. "Daniel, yes, this is the president, son. No, I need a bit of a favor. I was apparently cursed with a case of suddenly appearing hemorrhoids." He waited while the man coughed. "Not funny, Doctor Jackson." He listened. "That'll cure them?" He nodded. "I can do that. Tell me how I cure the curse if you can please." He hung up. "He was polite enough not to laugh. O'Neill and Hammond taught him well. He did have an idea to soak them in though."
"We can run out and get you whatever you need, sir," he assured him, not laughing at all. It was bad when the leader of the free will couldn't sit. Even if it was funny.
Danny called the library. "Dawn, Daniel. I just got a call from a higher up with a curse on him to have hemorrhoids. Can you find out how to cure that curse for him?" He smirked at her suggestion of Preparation H. "That might work but if it's a curse we don't want it to keep going. I gave him an herbal soak that should help for a day or so. Thank you for looking, Dawn." He hung up and took another tylenol. Then he went to bother the infirmary. "What's the signs of a stroke?"
"If you can get that out without slurring or don't have one side tingling or weaker than the other, you're good," House told him. He looked at him. "Why?"
"Curse of hemorrhoids."
"Ow. That's sad." He shook his head. "Your friend Jack?"
"One of the higher ups." House burst out laughing. "I guess someone thought he was an ass but oh well. Are you sure I'm not having a stroke? I've been tested as a lab rat before."
"Any side weakness?" Danny shook his head. "Then it's just the insanity around here, Jackson. Suck it up. Could be worse. Xander could be in charge and triplets."
"Don't wish that on us," Chase complained. Dawn strolled in with a folded piece of paper, sliding it into Danny's back pocket for him. "Need anything else?"
"I'm due for my next packet of pills tomorrow."
House pulled up her records. "You're due for an exam too." She grimaced. "Not like we get a thrill doing them. After ten or twelve they all look the same, Summers."
She smirked. "But I'm special so it shouldn't look the same. I'm one of the few virgins on campus," she said at Danny's odd look.
"Uh-huh. Will we have to take precautions when you solve that?"
"You know, I don't know," she admitted. "I'll have to ask my teachers." She sent herself there, flopping down beside Piper since she was watching tv and feeding Wyatt. She took over spoon airplane duties. "Danny Jackson wanted to know if we had to take precautions when I finally popped a boy into bed."
Piper looked at her. "We might want to set up a containment area, yeah. So that means no backseats for you unless it's your car."
"Dean won't give me driving lessons and neither will Xander."
She patted her on the head. "We'll figure it out, Dawn. I know during mine I had a small blast of power but I wasn't active at the time. My full powers didn't really come out until Grams and Mom died."
Dawn grimaced. "So I should expect an explosion?"
"I hope not." She let her have the baby food since Wyatt was trying to gnaw on her wrist. Dawn went back to feeding him. "Make sure you don't have one of these for years."
"Not an issue. I'm on the same pills the slayers are."
"Good. That's a smart move. Use condoms too. Medicine sometimes reacts oddly with magic." She looked back at Paige as she came down the stairs. "Did you have a problem when you lost your virginity? I know your magic was more active at that age than mine was."
"Um, small bits of it floating around while I got happy. Why?" Dawn waved the spoon then fed Wyatt another bite. "Oh. Oooh." She winced. "We'll ask around, Dawn. With how strong you are we want to be careful."
Dawn looked at her. "No way can I bring a guy onto base. So portable one or a motel room?"
"Probably," she agreed. "We'll ask around. Have you seen the grumpy bastard who smokes?"
"Spike's back?" she asked, smiling at her. "I thought you lost him."
"We did, he was heading for you."
"Haven't seen him yet. We'll see." She finished feeding Wyatt, making him happy. "There you go, full bellies and all better." She smoothed down his hair. "Such a good boy." Wyatt beamed and sucked on his finger. "I know, only when you want to be."
"Oh, yes. He tried to make the tub explode last night," Piper said dryly. She looked at her son. "Say thank you, Auntie Dawn?" He burbled for her. "Good boy." She smiled at the younger witch. "Let us look, Dawn."
"Did Rosenburg?" Paige asked.
"It was right before graduation and she had major lusties for Oz. That was post soul spell but pre break out in evil time."
"Oh. Okay so him being a werewolf might've absorbed some of the magic if she put any out," Paige decided. "We'll figure it out. Go to bed, young lady. It's well past your bedtime."
"Yes, ma'am." She disappeared before she got swatted.
Paige shook her head. "Do I look that old today?"
"You were doing a mean impersonation of a mother." She walked off shaking her head. Piper looked at her son. "Let's go not blow up the bathtub this time, son. How about that?" She carried him up to give him a bath, stopping him from super charging the water with magic to get bubbles again. It even brought Leo so she let him handle it while she went to rest. Being a mother was hard work.
Dawn smiled at Buffy when she answered her phone. "Hey, it's me. Can you ask your grumpy bastard out there to keep an ear out for Spike? He escaped my teachers and is heading for one of us. Also, can you ask him if there's usually a problem when witches break that virginity thing? Because I'll have to some day, Buffy." She smirked. "Some day soon maybe. I'd rather know if there was going to be a magical explosion that could level the base or not. They weren't sure. They didn't have active powers when it happened." She grinned. "Thanks. If it's here, tell him to give me a list of books. We're all doing the research on this one. How's things?" She smiled. "But that's good news, right? Good!" She laughed. "Did you drive Tony's old boss insane?" she taunted. Brenda gave her an odd look so she waved her hand at her. "I'm being good. All of us are while Xander's on vacation. I promise. Sure, I'm here. Thanks, Buffy." She hung up. "Two of the girls out there managed to get enrolled in school already. The last few will be doing it tomorrow. She's trying to see if I need to do anything special when I finally break that. Just in case I sneeze again or something."
Brenda nodded. "Probably a good idea, Dawn. What does Spike look like?" She got onto her laptop and found his profile, handing it over. "I think he's in town."
"We can go check tomorrow," Dawn said cheerfully. That got a nod and they headed to their rooms after doing a bed check. John would do one in an hour but the younger girls needed one anyway. Annabelle had stolen one of Xander's t-shirts to sleep in. Brenda had stolen some of John's boxers to sleep in. So it was all good and normal in their building again. At least until Xander got back. Then they could fuss.
to part 8