Faith and Sam looked at each other later that night, then at the bed.  "I can go sleep in a guest room," Faith said, backing away.  "Most of those beds are too short for you."

Sam pulled her closer.  "Even if we're together, I'm not going to molest you unless you ask."  He grinned.  "I'm not a lech, Faith, but if you want, that's up to you.  If you want, I've learned a lot.  I can make you happy in ways that most girls only beg for."  He kissed her gently.  "But I'm not going to push.  I'm not that sort of man."

She patted him on the cheek.  "I'm not sure that's a good idea."

"I know you like Dean.  Dean's exciting and loud and a hunter where I don't like hunting all that much.  I have plans that mean I'm going to college.  Dean doesn't know and I'd appreciate you not telling him.  If you need me to, I'll be your backup and do the research for you."  He kissed her again then backed up.  "But I'm not pushing.  It's your decision totally."  He smiled.  "Want me to find pajama pants like in the early days?"

"Nah, it's good."  She smiled when he turned around to strip down to his boxers.  She stripped down to her underwear, making him blush.  "Had many women, Sam?"

"Six or seven.  Dean pushed some at me and I've dated a few times, when we stayed in the same place for long enough.  I hate the traveling constantly lifestyle of hunting."

"Slayers can travel or stick in one really bad town."

He shrugged.  "Then we'd figure that out."

"I still gotta hunt, Sam."

"I know.  I won't stop you from hunting."

"I'd need a watcher at my back."

He pulled her down next to him, giving her a hug.  "I know, it's strange."

"It is.  Where are you going?"


She pulled back to look at him.  "Stanford?"

"Yeah.  Full ride," he said with a grin.

"Wow.  Way smarter than Red."

"Don't know, never met her."

"I'm sure you will.  She's Xan's best friend."

"We should meet your friends and his.  That way we can make sure we can stand them and they won't try to break us apart if we stay together."

She nodded.  "Probably.  You sure?  I can sleep on the couch."

"Shut up, Faith.  If you want to jump me, jump me.  If not, just sleep.  It's all up to you."  He smirked.  "Pick a choice for the night and make whatever one you want tomorrow."  He yawned.  Above them an alarm went off.  "Crap."

"You can say that again," she said.  She grabbed clothes and her sword on the way out of the room.  Sam was right behind her.  They ran into Dean and Xander rushing for the throne room first.  When it wasn't there they ran for the roof entrance.  They came out and found Mac up there timing them.  "Tell me this wasn't a drill!" she demanded.

"No."  He pointed.  "Any idea what that is?"

They looked and Xander grimaced.  "Locusts maybe?"

"Cicadas?" Sam suggested.

"Demon," Faith said, knowing it.  "They're around a central area."

Dean stared.  "Get me a bow?"  Mac went to get one with the guards.  The guy came nearer to the gate.  Dean got handed a compound long bow.  He knocked an arrow back and took aim on the central shaft.  He shot.  It screamed and the bugs dissipated.  Dean fired another one when the bugs cleared up enough to see the body.  It screamed and fell off the horse it was riding.  "Now get it and bring it here."  The guards rode out to get the demon and bring it in.  They went to the throne room to meet it.

Jethro stomped in.  "Who is that?"

"He brought a bunch of bugs to destroy the farms," one guard said.  "We decided he was a threat.  Dean shot him, Overlord."

"Nice shot," Jethro praised.  The demon was put in front of him.  "What do you think you were doing?  Bringing something harmful here?  Did you think I got weaker when I lost the head fin?"

"No.  I came to make an alignment."

"Uh-huh."  He stared at him, arms crossed over his chest.  "I cannot let a threat to these people go.  Even if it was meant that way."

"Doubt it was meant that way," Tony said as he, Abby, and Don walked in.

Stella stomped in, stopping to look at him.  "There's days I want to be telepathic."

"There's a spell for that," Xander said from his spot.  "I don't know it.  Willow does."

"That's heathen magic," the demon sneered.  "I'm not surprised you'd fall back on it."  Xander hit him, knocking him down, making him cry.  "Mercy, Jethro."

Jethro looked at the others.  Then at him.  "Check his story, Faith."  She went to figure out what he was and where it had come from.  "Xander, calm down."

"I am."

Jethro looked at him.  "It wasn't meant as more than a slight to your current job."

"It's necessary."  He snapped his fingers, going to find one.  "Can we kidnap and keep a knowledgeable vampire chained up?"

"No," Jethro called.

"I won't stake him afterward."

"No.  I don't want that here."  Jethro looked at Tony.  "Find some way to check on his town?"

"I have been.  It's nearly October at home."  Jethro nodded at that.  "It's running faster than here.  Ducky did say he could have us inserted back in time so we didn't miss too much."

"Good."  Faith came back with a book.  "What is he?"

"Wanna be."  She handed it over.  "He wants power."  She looked at the demon.  "Pitiful."

Jethro read it then handed it to Tony.  "Why come here?"

"If you join me, we can take over every plane!" he shouted.  "Be all powerful."

"Why do I need more than this one?" Jethro countered.  "I don't like the paperwork I have at home or here.  Why would I need more?"

"Beyond that, there's a lot of Powers in the way," Xander said as he walked back in.  "There's tons of more powerful demons who're more than happy to leave us alone and let us have here so we don't go destroy them.  Because Faith can.  I'd help.  The others can cheer us on."

"You pathetic human," he sneered.

Xander squatted down to get on his level.  "Really?  You're so sure of that?"


"Hmm.  Seen me in Sunnydale?"

"I have.  You're not worth the trouble to kill."

"Yet, I'm the one who created the second slayer," he said smugly.  The demon gasped, trying to back away.  Xander didn't move.  "I'm the one who backs up all the slayers.  Buffy, Kenda, and Faith.  It's my battle plans during apocalypses.  It was me that helps them.  You don't think I'd be a problem to defeat?  Knowing who I was before and am again?"

"You don't have your scythes," he said.  Xander pulled one and put it on the floor in front of him.  "Only one?"

"I only need one to handle you.  The other I'm told the Watchers have."  The demon turned pale.  "Hmm.  Yes, I think it's *the* slayer's scythe," he said smugly.  "I'll find out when I get it back."  He stood up.  "You think I'm so insignificant, come get me."  The demon lunged and Xander kicked his scythe up, taking him out.  "Pity," he sneered at the corpse, wiping off his blade before putting it back into his beltline.  He bowed to Jethro.  "I'll have him disposed of."  He walked off, going to find a guard.  "Guys, he told me I was worthless."  A few laughed.  "He's having a bad head day.  It's across the room."

"We'll dispose of him," one said.  Yup, things were just like they used to be.  They took the demon and his head out to walls to have it buried.  "At least it wasn't Faith," that one said quietly.  "We'd have bits and pieces."

"Yeah," another agreed.  "Literally.  She's clearly the scary slayer."

"I heard that," Faith yelled.  "Buffy's scarier.  She dyes her hair!"

"Sorry," he called back, shaking his head.  "Never mind."  The other guards laughed. "Some year she'll be spawning.  Then we'll really have to watch out."  They laughed harder, heading back to the castle.  A few winked at their wives/girlfriends/friendly hookers.  They were guards.  It was for their off hours.

Faith looked at Jethro.  "We good again?"

"We're fine, Faith.  Thank you and your twin for your help as well as the boys."  She nodded and headed off.  Xander waved as he strolled off too.  Jethro shook his head. "The kids are going to drive us insane," he muttered.

Xander walked into his room, closing the door.  "Done."  Dean looked over.  "Thanks for covering the gates."

"Welcome."  He pointed at the second mattress.  "It's a bit crowded with that."

"Yeah, but I don't want to make you uncomfortable when I cuddle."  He stripped down to his boxers then climbed onto his bed.  "Night, Dean."

"Night."  He watched Xander settle in, blowing out the lamp.  They'd have to figure out this not gay/mated thing soon enough.  Even if he did have to beat Sammy to get Faith for himself.  He laid back, thinking about how to work this out.  He wasn't mushy.  He knew he wasn't ever going to be mushy.  Xander needed some bits of mush.  He needed someone a bit supportive now and then.  Xander also got ordered to take some time off hunting, which Sam would like.  Plus maybe Sam was more gay.  Their dad would bitch but oh well.  It'd work better than him and Xander.  He heard a nightmare and sighed, rolling closer to the other mattress.  He poked Xander.  His hand got batted at but Xander stayed asleep.  Dean watched.  The nightmare was getting worse so he poked him again.  Xander took a swing.  Dean ducked then fell off the bed to hold Xander down.  He struggled but it wasn't going to help this time.  Dean was slightly taller and heavier.  Plus he could use the blankets to keep Xander tied down.  Xander whimpered so he leaned down close to his ear.  "It's a nightmare, I have you," Dean said.  "Calm down."

Xander gasped and tried to sit up.  "Let go!" he growled.

"I have you, Xander. You were having a nightmare."  He slowly let him go.  "You back?"

"I'm fine."  He rubbed his face.  "Thanks, Dean."

"Welcome."  He climbed back onto his own bed and tucked himself back in.  He waited and Xander fell back into a deeper sleep.  He sighed, letting himself drift off.  He was woken by another nightmare but this time when Xander ended up on the foot of his bed, staring and sniffing at him.  He woke up because his foot was being sniffed and hesitantly licked.  "What are you doing?"  Xander tipped his head to the side and sniffed again.  He frowned.  "Xander?"  Xander yipped quietly then sniffed again.  Dean sat up, letting the boy sniff him better.  "Xander?"  Xander shifted closer, sniffing his throat then face.  "Are you a dog?  Or possessed by a dog?"  Xander stared at him again.  "Your eyes are glowing green- yellow.  Demons make them black.  What the fuck, bitch?"  He looked around.  "Guards?"  One leaned in.  "Can you maybe get Sam and Faith?"  Xander growled at them.

"Sure," he agreed, hurrying to do that.

Xander snorted at the door then went back to staring at Dean again.  His head tipped in one direction then the other.  "Am I that cute?  I mean, I know I'm cute but usually you think I'm not *that* cute."  Xander shifted closer, sitting on his knees.  He stared into his eyes.  "Good boy," he said, reaching up slowly to pet him.  Xander sniffed then licked his palm, earning a smile.  "Sure, I taste good.  Don't lick further up but okay."  Faith opened the door, leaning her head in.  Xander glared, sniffing at her.  "He's sniffing, licking, eyes glowing?"


"Huh?" Dean asked.

Sam pushed open the door and walked in, sitting on the foot of the bed.  Xander stared at him then sniffed at him.  He yipped a happy sound.  "Hi, Xander."  He pulled him closer, holding his head still.  "What let her out?"  He stared in the boys eyes.  "Can I have the boy?"  She lunged and lapped him then pounced Dean to sniff his throat.  She growled when Faith came closer.  "I think she's worried about poaching."

"But I'm... " Dean started.  Xander lifted his head to stare at him.  "Okay.  Maybe I am."

"Maybe you are," Faith agreed.  She came in and sat beside Sam.  Xander growled so she reached up to smack him on the head.  "I'm not poaching.  Quit."  Xander snuggled in, covering his mate with a quiet cackle of noise.  "Maybe she sees me as a threat?"

"I'd say so," Sam agreed.  "It could be where you're a slayer and she's a primal spirit.  No idea."  Mac walked in.  "His hyena possession decided to come out to try to claim Dean."

"That's fine."  He leaned down, looking at Xander.  "He's yours if you want him, Xander.  Relax.  Quit growling at Faith."  Mac got sniffed and Xander covered Dean more, protecting him from Mac.  "That's fine."  He patted the boy on the head.  "It's all right.  He's safe and yours if you can work it out."  He backed up.

"He's cute and all," Faith told him.  "But clearly you want him more.  I'd hate being possessed.  He'd probably hate me if I was possessed."  She got closer to Sam and Xander relaxed.  "We'll work that stuff out when you're sane again."

Sam nodded, pulling Faith into his lap.  "We can do that."  Xander finished relaxing, licking Dean's neck over a sensitive spot.  Dean moaned, tipping his head back some.  "Dean, going a bit closer to gay?"

"Shut up, Sammy.  Before I kick your ass and then tell Dad you're trying to make him a grandfather."

"No way I'm *ever* going to be stretched that far," Faith said dryly.  "I don't even play with toys that large.  Much less use body parts that large or want to be stretched that way by some sleezy guy."  Even Dean blushed at that.  Xander gave her an interested look.  "I don't wanna know how kinky you are, X."  She wiggled off Sam's lap and stood up.  "C'mon, Sam.  He'll calm down, Dean.  Usually it's a dominance thing that brings her out.  Giles has a spell that locks her down again."

"How did he get possessed?" Dean asked.

"Thing at the zoo with a zookeeper."  She shrugged.  "Way before my time.  Back in the tenth grade stuff."  She pulled Sam with her.  "He won't bite.  He tried to top Buffy by trapping her but I'm not sure if that was dominance or rape."  She and Sam walked out.  He closed the door behind them.  "Xan is a wild man."

"I can tell."  They walked off.  "Two mattresses?"

"Their whole 'not gay' thing expanded.  X was probably on the floor.  He's honorable that way."

"Dean's very honorable.  We've been taught that from day one.  Our father's a Marine."

"I saw that.  Impressive.  Still kinda yawn worthy.  Now and then being a bad girl is all that I need."

Sam pulled her close, pinning her against a wall, staring down at her with an evil little smirk.  "Being bad is relative, Faith.  You can be as naughty as you want.  You can't become evil.  I can't become evil.  Can we live like that?"

"I live on want, take, have, Sammy."

He leaned down.  "Only Dean gets away with that, Faith."  She shivered.  "Would you still steal if you could have it?"

"There's that thrill there."

"That's for hunting," he said, kissing her.  She moaned, pulling him closer.  "We'll figure it out."

"If you say so."

"If you want to go be nuzzled, go ahead," he said, letting her go.  "I'm going to bed."  She swatted him and huffed off.  He followed, smirking at her ass.  He went back to bed and pulled her closer.  She kissed him.  He took it from there.


Mac walked into the throne room the next morning.  "Sam, don't squeal."

"Wasn't just me," he said with a cheerful grin.  Faith swatted him.  "It wasn't."

"You were louder," she said bluntly.

He shrugged.  "I had fun."  She smirked.  "Did you?"

"I still need a shower," she complained.  "You got my hair sweaty."

He leaned closer.  "I can scrub backs," he whispered in her ear, getting another swat.  "With no intention of doing anything that would require heirs."

"Better not.  I need a pill pack."

"I wasn't in you," he said smugly.  Mac choked on his coffee.   "Sorry, Father."

She elbowed him.  "Behave."

"I had a decent night.  Xander didn't bite me.  Dean's still in bed."

Abby and Tony walked in.  She stared at them.  "Sam, you were *way* loud.  Do we need a shotgun?"

"No, we have a few of those already," he said with a bright, happy grin.  "We don't need more."

"Not that sort," Tony said dryly.  "The sort her daddy should be holding."

"I leave that up to her.  She can even go test drive Dean if she wants and Xander lets her."  Tony looked confused.

"His hyena possession came out last night to protect Dean from everyone."

Jethro stomped in.  "Why is Dean yelling?"

"He's probably trapped under Xander," Sam said with a grin.  "Xander's hyena is out."

"Can we fix that?" Jethro sighed.

"No," Faith said.  "Giles tried."

"Crap."  He went with Mac to save Dean.  Dean was pinned to the bed and Xander was sniffing his stomach.  "Need him to be knocked out?"  Xander growled and lunged but Dean caught him and flipped him over, holding him down.

Mac came in and used a pressure point to knock Xander out.  "There.  Go shower.  Hopefully he'll be fine when he wakes up.  If not, maybe Stella can fix it."  He went to find Stella and Don.  They were in the castle's temple.  "Guys, Xander's hyena taint came out to pin Dean."

Don rushed off.  He knew how to cure that.  He knelt beside the bed, saying the short spell.  Xander glowed all over then it faded.  He beamed at Jethro.  "Fixed.  I hope."  He stood up and poked Xander until he woke up.  "You went hyena."

"Shit," he muttered, pulling the covers over his head.

Dean lifted up a corner to look underneath.  "Dude, seriously oral but I won't say a word about you sniffing, licking, or pinning me down to protect me from Sammy or Faith."  He let it go at the groan.  He went to shower, coming out to get his own coffee and breakfast.  "Sammy, was there a reason why even *I* heard you over the purring?"

"Not that I'm going to share.  As Dad says, real men don't have to share.  A gentleman never gives details."

Dean looked at him.  "Uh-huh."  He rolled his eyes, walking out to eat in the throne room.  "No people today?"

"Not yet."

"That means we need to work on the heir/who's staying issue," Tony said, taking his usual seat.  He threw one leg over the arm of the chair and grinned.

"Way to go, Ares," Faith teased as she walked in.  "I do not like skirts.  Why do I have so many skirts?"

"Easy access," Tony said dryly.  She gave him a horrified look.  "Or don't you remember being caught *everywhere* with Sam, Faith?"

She walked off blushing to change.  Sam leered but she ducked her head and hurried faster.  She came out in leather pants.  She loved leather pants, and hey, hard to get into.  Sam's groan was good to hear.  She looked at herself then at him.  "What?"

"That was Sammy's version of 'you look tasty' and 'I'm cutting wisdom teeth so I want to nibble'," Dean said.  "Please excuse the drool because he used to when he cut teeth."  Sam slapped him.  "Hey! Eating here."

"Your foot," Sam shot back.  "You look very good, Faith.  The groan was for the way the leather clings to your legs."

"You like legs?" she taunted with an evil smirk.

"I appreciate every part of the woman.  From her brain down to her toes."  She blushed.

"Kids," Horatio complained.  "Go tease somewhere else?  And where is Xander?"

"Hiding," Dean said.  "He hyena'd out last night."  He yawned.  "He sniffed me all night."

Horatio shook his head.  "You four need to settle that debate."

"We need to settle the one about the heirs and how we're ruling while at work," Jethro told him.

"Lord Jethro," a guard yelled.  "Visitors!"

"Bad ones?" Tony yelled back.

"Visitors for Guardians Faith and Xander," the guard said, showing them in.  "And for their mates."

Jethro swatted Tony.  "Sit up correctly."

"Sorry."  He shifted.  "Sorry, I was comfortable."  He grinned.  "Let's see.  If rumors are right....  Miss Summers, Miss Rosenburg.  Mr. Winchester."

Dean looked up from scraping his plate.  "Hey, Dad."  He nudged Sam.

"Hey, Dad," he said with a grin.  "Welcome here."  He nudged Faith, who was covering her face.  "It's all right.  Can you find Xander?  He's hiding."

"Of course," the guard said.  "He's in the armory testing the other blades."  He went to find the young one.  "Visitors, Lord Xander."  Xander looked over at him.  "Two females and your mate's father."

"Aw, fuck," he muttered.  He walked back that way, keeping the weapon with him.  "Uncle Jethro, can I use this for any assaults today?"

"I don't care.  Whatever you feel comfortable using, Xander."  He pointed.

"I saw."  He looked at them.  "Girls."  They gaped.  He looked at himself then at them.  "Stuff I left here when the curse hit."

"What is going on?" Buffy demanded.  "All you left was a confused sounding letter, Xander!  You even freaked out Giles!"

He blinked.  "Sorry.  Okay, from the top.  Way back when, this realm world was ruled by a fairly merciful clan of demons.  Not bad demons.  They didn't want more power.  They had enough to deal with here.  The higher demons all liked them being here because, hey, scary clan of demons who could probably take over a lot of places but why bother?  We had plenty here.  Then a takeover happened and someone let loose a curse. The curse was to send us to the human realm so we'd be easier to hunt.  They split up the set of brilliant guardian twins, the niece and nephew of the overlord Jethro."  He pointed.  "They kept our mates together as brothers.  That's still being worked on.  The rest they spread around."

"So you came to Sunnydale because of the curse?" Willow said.

"It made me be reborn as a human.  Faith too."

"Uh-huh," Buffy said.  "What did you guys look like?"  Xander pointed at the guard watching them.  "Cute fin," she said.  "Giles said you guys were peaceful."

"Unless you attack," Mac said dryly.  "Hi, Mac Taylor.  Formerly Xander and Faith's father."

"Uh-huh," Willow said slowly.  She looked at Faith.  "So the darker side of you is that?"

"No.  The darker side is how I grew up again.  Before I was pretty happy but we were great guardians of the kingdom."

"You were both very good guardians," Jethro agreed.  "Even if whoever Mac had you with was a bit insane."  Faith and Xander just smirked at him for that.  "You four can go talk somewhere more private if you want."

"Can I have my sons as well?" John asked.

"Sure," Tony agreed.  "We can handle it but stay relatively close by in case there's an assault.  We had to take the kingdom back from the evil things that cursed us all."

"And made me the memory key," Xander quipped.

"Which scared the crap out of us," Dean said dryly.  Xander stuck his tongue out at him.  "Still working on that, Xander."

Xander shrugged.  "We'll figure it out.  I did pass back what we heard about the mayor, right?"  Buffy nodded.  "Okay.  We're going to the gardens that they made ugly."

"We're heading to the library," Sam said, getting up.  "Dad, want something to eat?  Dean just got freed from being pinned down."

"I'm good."  He followed his sons to the massive library, looking around.  "This is nice."

"Very nice," Dean agreed.  "Sammy's spent some time in here.  Did you get the emails?"

"I did."  He looked at his sons.  "I want a better explanation than Sammy's ramble."

"I didn't ramble."

"It was a six page paragraph."

Dean looked at Sam.  "Maybe you should be with Xander since he babbles when he's nervous."

"I like Faith," he said simply.

"She could use a hunter to back her up."

Sam looked at him.  "Uh-huh."  Dean groaned.

"I don't care, just quit being so noisy," Horatio called as he walked the library door.

"Dude," Dean said, beaming at his little brother.  "Score!"

"I left it up to her, Dean.  I'm not pushy.  Like you.  She'll make her decision however she feels is best."  He looked at his father, who was gaping.  "Before we were cursed and sent to become human people, Faith was my wife, Dad.  Xander was Dean's."

"I heard something about that when they showed up," he said blandly, sitting down at the end of the table.  "Let's go over all of it.  That explanation was a bit strange."

Dean sat down at the other end.  Sam sat down beside him.  Sam told the story because he could go into the details of the curse and the kingdom that Dean hadn't been paying attention to while making sure they were safe.


Xander looked at the girls.  Faith had peeled off to get something to drink.  "So."

"So," Buffy agreed.  "Are you going to change?"

"Don't know," Xander admitted.  "So far I haven't.  It's only been a few weeks up here though.  I heard it's more back at home."  They both nodded.  "How is graduation looking?"

"Crappy," Willow said.

He looked at her.  "I can help with that."  They relaxed again.  "I'm the same Xander I was, only now I have a past life."

"Is this why all the demons are attracted to you?" Buffy asked.

"It may be a function of the curse or it may be who I was before," Xander admitted.  "I was pretty wanted before.  If I remember right, six different clans wanted to marry me and Faith."

"Wow," Willow said.  "There's more than one clan?"

"Yeah, there's a whole bunch.  Two others control other realms.  The rest are spread out here and there."  He grinned.  "Somehow I ended up with Dean."

"I thought you weren't gay," Willow said.

Xander shrugged.  "We're working that out.  As one of them I was actually a breeder."  Willow gaped, whimpering quietly.  He grinned.  "So was Dean.  He was with egg when the curse hit.  So was Sam."  Faith groaned.  "We've agreed, it'll be a long time before that happens again."

"Good.  I'm not ready to be an aunt yet," Willow complained.  She took her drink from Faith.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  She looked at Xander.  "You good?"

"Embarrassed as hell."

"You growled at me."

"Not again," Buffy complained.

"She came out to sniff Dean and make sure he was a suitable mate," Faith told her.  "He sniffed Sam then went back to Dean.  Growled at me.  Growled at Mac.  Don cured it this morning."

"I had a nightmare before then.  Dean ended up pinning me down."  He took his drink and handed Buffy hers so Faith could hand off the tray.  They went back to walking in the garden.  "They really destroyed this.  If Alelea hadn't been such a bitch, she'd be here complaining too I'm sure."

"Hmm," Faith said while she took a drink.  "Gardening is not my thing."

Xander grinned.  "Mine either."  They sidestepped a plant and pulled the girls with them.  "Dangerous and it has spiny tentacles."  He took another drink of his lemonade.  He looked then at her.

"Bottom of the can."

"Okay."  He took another drink.  "Who's patrolling?"

"It's a holiday weekend.  They're slow right now," Buffy said.  "Are you coming back?"

"I don't know.  We're working out how the ruling thing is going to go.  I can be back for grad to help for certain."  They nodded at that.  "Otherwise, I don't know.  Did Giles find my other scythe?"

"The Watchers consider it dangerous and have it locked up," Buffy said.  "He said to tell you."

"Shoot.  They're part of a matched set.  They were a present from one of the high priestesses here.  Faith got a sword and I got a set of scythes."

"That's a present I could like."  Buffy sipped her lemonade too.  She looked around.  "The people who cursed the clan really hated flowers."

"We weren't big on flowers before," Faith said.  "But we had nicer plants."

Xander pointed.  "We spent a lot of time learning over by that wall.  The teachers brought us out here so we could fidget, bounce, and play while studying.  Then our training instructors came to work with us on the other side, by the pond.  So we could accidentally on purpose fall in when we were too sweaty."  He showed them that way.  They had nicer plants near the pond.  He frowned, leaning down to look.  "Hey, Faith, is that what I think it is?"

She looked.  "Fish eggs."  They looked and she went jogging off to get some help.

"Dangerous fish?" Buffy asked.

"People and kitty eating when they grow up."  Guards came rushing out.  He moved them out of the way.  "Fish eggs.  They look like the carnivorous ones."

"They are, Lord Xander.  We need to search out here."  He walked the girls off.  He looked at his backup.  "Get nets.  Get a tank."  They went to do that.  They could dredge the pond and the lake that was out back if they had to.

Xander looked back.  "There's koi in there too," he called.  One popped up.  He bowed to it.  "Master Koi," he said in the local language.  It bubbled something at him.  He bowed again.  "We're worried about the eggs.  Let us get them out before they kill you and us."  The fish disappeared.  Buffy and Willow were gaping.  He grinned.  "They moved in when we were about six.  They're very wise fish."  He walked them into a different part of the garden, finding a gazebo.  "What the hell?" he muttered.  He stopped them and searched it before letting them into it. "We only got it back last week.  We're all a bit paranoid."

"It's a good thing to be now and then," Buffy agreed.  "Especially when people want to kill or own you."

"Here they know I'm not a direct descendent so they're not trying as much anymore.  Jethro has two heirs for them to try to woo."  He stretched out on a bench with a yawn.  "Sorry.  Long night growling apparently."

"I can see how you need a nap," Buffy said.  "Is he good to you?"

"We're working out the whole 'we're not gay' thing," Xander told her.  "Sam and Faith are seeing if they're still compatible but Dean's offered to take her so I'd have Sam."  They blushed.  "It took a long time to settle on their clan and family.  They were the last one to show up about marriage alliances.  The first time I ended up with Dean because we snuck off for some weapon petting time."  Both girls squeaked and blushed.  "That too.  Dean's a weapons nut."

"Xander?" a male voice called.

"Gazebo out past the pond and to the right."  He looked at them.  "I have no idea."  Speed walked in a few minutes later.  "Speed," he said with a grin.  "What's up?"

"We came to check on H but he's growling at some overly perfumed and jeweled woman."  He sat down beside him.  "Ladies."

"Hi.  Are you from here too?" Willow asked.

"Originally.  My mother and I were the caretaker for the clan."  She smiled at that.  "Now I work with Horatio in Miami's crime lab."  They gaped.  He smirked.  "The brains keep coming in my family."  Xander gave him a nudge.  "H sent me to check on you."

"We're okay."

"You had to call guards."

"We found fish eggs."

"I hate those things.  They're four inches long, silver, and have a huge set of teeth," he told the girls.  "We get an infestation now and then.  They're slippery and hard to kill.  You have to stab them."  He looked at Xander.  "How's it been?"

"It's been okay.  A few trial attacks.  A few annoyed people.  Some people who want to marry Abby or Danny.  A way to piss Jethro off is to get too near to Abby.  We're doing okay though.  Took us half a week to find our old stuff and decent mattresses.  There's elves in the FBI."

Speed shook his head quickly.  "For some reason that doesn't surprise me.  Are they the good agents or the idiot ones?"

"Good ones according to Jethro but they hate Sunnydale.  I offered to let one help me bomb it but he didn't like that.  They're back telling their court that Jethro's back and in charge.  They were going to declare war on the other guys."

"Good.  That saves some wear and tear on everyone."

"We had one demon who carried his own plague of locusts.  Dean got him with an arrow from the top of the castle.  He was outside the gates.  He insulted me so he went bye-bye."

Buffy swallowed her current drink.  "You slayed him?"

"Hell yes.  It's my job to protect the clan, Buffy.  Here or back at home really."

"H does pretty good on the over-protective father side," Speed assured him, putting an arm around Xander's shoulders.

"Will Dean like that?" Willow teased.

Speed shrugged.  "Dean kept saying he wasn't gay and Xander clearly needs a cuddle."

Xander looked at him.  "Are you hitting on me?"

"No."  He smirked.  "But Horatio said you needed a cuddle after last night.  Me or Alexx, Xander."

"I'd rather have you than the great mothering one."  He saw Dean and Sam come out.  "We're in the gazebo," he called, waving a hand.  He looked at the girls.  "Any good gossip going on?"

"Not really.  The same as usual.  Cordy smirks at the ill-dressed ones.  Slayer patrol happens.  Homework sucks.  How are you going to be at graduation?  You're missing half the year."

"I can get my GED.  I'll attend as a guest."  Dean turned and stomped off.  Xander sighed.

"That is something you chase after him to explain," Buffy said bluntly. "Because he looked jealous."

Xander jogged after Dean, walking him off in another direction.  "Speed was a childhood friend and Horatio told him I needed a cuddle after growling last night.  It wasn't what you think."

Dean stared at him.  "There is no such thing as an unjealous Winchester, Xander.  If you're mine, you're mine.  All mine.  No cuddling someone else."

Xander looked at their hands then at him.  "The last I knew, we were still working it out, Dean.  You've been protesting  all along about being my former mate."

Dean calmed himself down.  "But you weren't doing anything?"

"He got told by Horatio!  I'm not dating Speed!"

"Uh-huh."  He started to walk off but Xander stopped him.  "Let.  Go."

"No!"  He stared at him.  "This jealous streak doesn't go with the 'I'm not gay' tirade you've been on, Dean."

"We," he corrected.

"Fine, we."

"Yet last night you spent licking and nuzzling me."

"That was the hyena, Dean.  If you're jealous over me being held by a friend from my childhood, then that's more than that."

"I have all these memories and I don't know why things aren't as simple now."

"You want to be pregnant?  Because you were when we basically died here."


"Then why are you jealous?" he demanded, looking confused.  "Would you get jealous if Sam gave me a hug?"

"Yes!  If I'm yours and you're mine, then that's all there is to it."

"But you don't want that.  Which is what's confusing the hell out of me," he shouted.  "You don't want me but you're jealous.  You don't want the guy I grew up with to cuddle me because I had a long night and freaked myself out but you won't do it.  What do you want?"  Dean stomped off.  Xander growled and stomped off in another direction.  "Fine, all yours," he called.

Dean turned to glare at him.  "Not cute."

"Fuck off."

Dean stomped after him, pushing him against a tree.  "Last night was clearly claiming."

"I wasn't in control and you were still freaked about not being gay.  Hell, any other man, even most straight ones, would've been at least a little bit hard.  From what my scent memory tells me, you didn't get that way."  He got free.  "Make up your mind, Dean.  I need human contact.  I'm one of those who needs touched, cuddled, patted, talked to.  It'd be a great change.  It'd probably calm me down.  It used to.  I just don't understand this."  He walked off, going back inside to hide in the armory.

Speed found Dean sulking and kicking a tree.  "It was never like that between us, Dean.  We were childhood friends.  I spent a lot of time soothing Xander and calming down his hyper spikes."  Dean glared at him.  "I'm not poaching now either.  Horatio said he needed a hug because he went hyena and confused the hell out of you.  What did you want me to do, leave a friend miserable?"  He stepped closer.  "For a straight guy, you're really jealous of one guy touching another one you say you don't want."  He walked off to talk to the girls again.  "Dean's jealous and Xander stomped off somewhere.  He's probably in the closet in the armory.  Let me show you two around the city?"  They nodded, letting him be the tour guide.  They'd never been to another realm before.


Faith walked into the armory, finding where Xander had gone up into the storage loft they usually used as a walkway to clean the upper windows.  She plopped down next to him.  "Sam's a jealous bastard too."

"Dean accused me of playing around yet I'm not even his."

"You two will figure it out before you drive the rest of us nuts," Faith assured him.  "Because you will be."  Xander glared at her.  "Truth.  Really."  She patted him on the arm.  "Should I tell him you're hiding in here?"


"Okay."  She got up.  "Want dinner?"

"I'll scavenge later."

"Sure, I'll have someone put the leftovers on a plate for you."  She climbed back down and went to the formal dining room.  "Xander said he'll take leftovers."

"No way in hell," Dean snarled, stomping off.

"Stop him," Sam said quietly. "I have no idea why he's in a jealous snit but stop him."  John went to stop his older son.  Sam looked at her.  "I may be jealous if someone's poaching or you're teasing.  I'm not that jealous."

"Good to know," she said dryly, taking her seat.  "Xan's in the alley."

Jethro nodded.  "It was a favorite hiding spot of his."  He handed down food.  "Abby, you did a great job cleaning up this room."

"I had to take out all the tentacle plants," she said.  "They kept trying to feel me up, Gibbs."

"I heard you yell at one before stomping it.  The guards told me what happened when I started to come help."  She grinned at that.  "Ladies, eat, please."  He heard John getting loud and leaned back to see up the hallway.  "Take it outside!"  They did that.  "Sorry.  Sometimes Marines get loud.  We learn it in Basic."  He dished up his own food and passed more things down.  "Who cooked?"

"Alexx," Speed said.  That got a hum of appreciation from most everyone.  "I helped."  They smiled and dug in.  Chatting comfortably to get to know the other slayer and Willow since they were friends of Xander's and slightly friends of Faith's.  They didn't seem to like Faith as much but Sam was happy and keeping her attention focused on something other than worrying about Xander and Dean's fight turning into a brawl.  They all winced when they heard a breaking window.  "That was the private audience room," Speed said.  He and Horatio went to check it out.

"You did grow up here," Horatio said, picking up the dead bird.  He carried it back, holding it up from the doorway.  Jethro nodded so he put it outside to be buried by the garden crew.  Plenty of the town needed temporary work to get back on their feet and their castle had nearly been ruined.  Horatio washed his hands before coming back.  "No note attached, Jethro.  Looks like it flew in and crashed."

"That's fine.  As long as it's not another attack," Jethro said.  Horatio shook his head.

"Not unless someone has birds and a catapult," Speed joked.

"That was our last year here," Sam told him.  Speed moaned, shaking his head. "They were shooting vultures at us."

Jethro shook his head. "They were annoying and wanted Xander even though he was married."  Willow choked.  "He and Dean were married before, Rosenburg.  The same as Faith and Sam were."

She drank some water until she could speak again.  "How long were they married?"

"Two years before the curse," Sam said quietly then ate a bite, glancing at Faith, who grinned.  "We were expecting an egg when it happened."

"Xander said something about breeders," Buffy said.

"All four of the children were," Mac agreed.  "Dean was expecting as well and we were waiting to hear if Xander was with egg since they couldn't decide and did it both ways to see which one caught."  Willow squeaked.  "I wasn't sure I was ready to be a grandfather but this time we'll work it out somehow.   Including how to handle the ruling duties."

"Timeshare?" Tony suggested.

Jethro shrugged.  "We're working on it this weekend after this fight is done."  John walked back in.  "Dean calmer?"

"No but he's out back sulking.  We have no idea where Xander is so they can be locked in a closet together."

"There's a loft alley on top of the armory," Faith said quietly.  "Xander said not to tell him."

"They need to work this out.  I don't know why Dean's so jealous."

"Past memories interfering," Dean said as he walked in.  "I don't know other than that.  I'm not even this jealous over my girlfriends."

"You finally kept one?" Sam quipped.  Faith kicked him.  "Sorry."

"I did," Dean told him.  "Then we had to move on."  His father nodded at that. "Because your girlfriend wanted to move in."

"She was not."

"She thought she was," John said, stuffing his mouth.  "I don't mind Faith and Xander, boys.  They're sensible kids.  They know what we do.  We don't have to hide things from them.  They're responsible with the weapons.  They could both use a bit of backup while hunting."  Faith nodded at that.  "With Sammy supposedly graduating this year..."

"The school's been sending me assignments and I've been sending them back," Sam told him.  "They think you had to move us suddenly due to a problem with a special friend Dean had."  Dean snorted.  "With his knowledge.  So they let me do it by email."  He ate another bite.  "I'm on track for graduation this spring."

"Congrats," Faith said.  Sam smiled.  "Are you walking?"

"I don't know.  That depends on getting back there and what's going on."

"I can see that.  Let me know?"

He smiled.  "If I do, can you wear that red skirt?"

"I'd need shoes but sure."  He grinned.  "So, B.  Your grad?"

"Big nasty."

"So we've been hearing.  Any ideas yet?"

"The mayor," Willow said.  "We're not sure what's going on.  Giles is still looking up what an ascension is and what it means.  There's not a lot of books that he can get."

"I'll check in the library here.  We might have something," Sam offered.  "I'm pretty good with research."

"Faith needs a watcher," Buffy told him.  "That's basically what they do.  Some helping her slay."

"Sam could do that," John agreed. "He'd be good at it.  He can help you train too."  She smiled and nodded.

Dean put down his fork and took a drink.  "Where is he?"

"Hiding," Faith said.   "Go look in the old spots."

"I was."

She looked at him.  "He's got a view.  I'll give you that much."  He groaned but left to find his mate.  "I'm not sure Xander won't scream at him."

"They'll work it out later if they can't right now," Sam said gently.  "Even if they are doing a dual mattress room at the moment."

"It was kinda cute," she teased.

He smirked back.  "More area to play on for them but a huge drop off."

"Good point."

"The one in our apartment is way too high.  We'd have to get a trundle."  She gave him a confused look.  "One of the ones that pulls out from under the bed."

"Oh, that's what they're called.  I saw them in some old time movie once."  Sam grinned.  "Not like I have a lot of experience with furniture stuff."

"Us either.  I think I spent most of my life on a motel or a rental bed."  John gave him a look.  "You should see the bed in our apartment, Dad.  It's waist high, has a massive frame and we almost need stairs to climb up into it."

"I was thinking about adding a canopy," Faith teased.

"Would it keep Sam from squealing?" Mac asked her.  Sam blushed and ducked his head.  Buffy giggled.

"Hey, if it's good," Faith said dryly.

Mac looked at her.  "Buy him a gag, Faith."  She cackled, punching him on the arm.  Sam was now bright red but oh well.  Mac added more to her plate.  She dug in and went back to teasing Sam into blushing even brighter red.  Buffy was blushing too but she could handle that.


Dean found the armory again and looked around.  He was being as silent as he could be.  He didn't want to have Xander hide more on him.  He looked up at the small hidden area, then found the ladder and slowly climbed.  He found Xander in a corner.  "Hey."  No answer.  He crawled over to him and settled beside him, blocking him from getting away this time. "You okay?"


Dean slumped, looking at him.  "I don't know."

Xander looked at him.  "Huh?"

"I don't know why I got so jealous."

Xander snorted, going back to watching outside.  "When I was ten, I sat up here and watched an invasion try to happen.  Watched the fires they burned the bodies on too," he said quietly.  "Including our last general."

Dean shifted, leaning to look out the window.  "That's not the prettiest view I've seen but was it a good memory?"

"Fairly decent.  Dad was sick so we were worried about him.  Faith was on the top parapet."

"That's a beautiful view."

"It's crumbling; we shouldn't be up there.  It can fall on us and kill us."

Dean made Xander look at him.  "I have no idea why I was that much of a shit earlier."

"He was a friend."

"I get that."

"Would you be as jealous if it was a girl?"

"Probably."  He shifted closer.  "I have all these old memories that say I should be your only mate.  Like last night you woke me up by licking my foot."  Xander grimaced.  "It gets sweaty there so you got a good taste of my scent."  He shifted slightly closer.  "If you caught me snuggling with someone, you'd probably be jealous too."

"Only if we were actually together."

"Your hyena possession thinks we are.  My memories think we are.  I think maybe it overreacted because it was thinking we had been separated for a long time."  Xander frowned at him.  "Separation anxiety and then you were cuddling another guy.  One that's smarter, makes a hell of a real paycheck, knew you for a long time.  Lots of guys would get jealous at that."

"There's more who wouldn't be and wouldn't stomp off."

"All Winchesters have tempers and are jealous."

"Sam doesn't get upset when Faith flirts with you.  Hell, I don't get upset when Faith flirts at you."

Dean looked at him.  "I'm trying, Xander.  I jumped to a conclusion."

Xander nodded.  "The problem is the conclusion you jumped to.  I'm not the sort to cheat."

"Maybe it was having the girls here and I felt a bit threatened," Dean said quietly.  Xander scowled.  "What?"  He pointed.  Dean looked then groaned.  "We need to tell someone."

"They're friends but a pain in the ass."  He got to his knees, opening the window to look down.  "Guard?"  One leaned out of the main door.  "I can see circus tents."  He groaned, going to alert others.  Xander let the window close an sat back down.  "You're going to hate them.  They'll hit on me for hours.  They tried for three years to get me to be theirs but didn't want Faith too so I refused and walked off in a huff.  Mac was not happy."

"You two demanded to go together?"

"We weren't the telepathic twin sorts but I didn't like them.  They didn't want Faith and always ignored her as being lesser.  Faith was the better warrior.  Something set my hackles up and they stayed raised."

Mac walked in and looked up.  "Xander, stay away from them.  If they're here to try again, walk away."

"Yes, Mac."

"Dean, do not go off on them.  Snarl all you want but no yelling.  They'll try to use it as an excuse to start a clan war.  They did when Xander snubbed them."  He left to talk to Sam about what had happened.

"See?" Xander said dryly.

"They can't have you."

"Until we're mated....."

Dean pulled Xander's head closer to kiss him.  "We'll figure that out.  We can appear married for the moment to cure problems."  Xander blinked at him.  "We can.  I've had to act to get info before on a hunt."  He patted him on the arm.  "We'll figure it out."

Horatio walked in and climbed up the ladder to look up the alley at the boys.  "Are we doing better?"  Dean shrugged.  "Xander?"

"I'm okay."

"Want to come down to get food?  Before they get here and cause a stink because the rooms aren't up to usual standards or the garden's full of ugly plants."

"I should," Xander agreed, shifting to get around Dean by climbing over his lap.

"Come back up here?" Dean asked.

Xander grinned.  "I can do that.  It keeps me out of their way."

"It keeps both of you out of their way," Horatio agreed.  He climbed back down, letting Xander come down.  "There's still food on the table.  Get him some too since he only picked at his dinner."  Xander walked off.  Horatio climbed back up, sitting on the edge.  "Dean, are you all right?"

"I don't know why I went spastic."

"As I'm sure it was pointed out, for a straight man you were very jealous of your supposedly straight boyfriend cuddling."  Dean nodded at that.  "Perhaps we should be reconsidering our alignment?"

"I am."


"Will me acting like a hovering boyfriend help?"

"I don't know yet.  With those ones, they could be here to ask for his death for hunting demons.  They're not that pleasant to deal with.  Pushy, annoying, loud."  He got out of the way for Xander to climb up with the tray.  He took it, getting a smile.  Xander climbed up and sat closer to the entryway, out of sight from the windows.  Horatio handed over the food.  "Eat, boys.  Then hit your bunk for the night.  If you run into a problem, yell and we'll come help."  He patted Xander on the arm. "We'll handle it."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."  He went back down the ladder, going to the throne room.  "The boys are eating.  They'll hide."

"Good," Mac agreed.  "Jethro said they're being rude showing up this late at night.  They get the squishy beds."

"Works for me.  I'm glad to have my own mattress back.  How is New York taking your absence?"

"I emailed the boss to tell him we're still on that case that pulled us all away.  We do think someone there knew.  Don's boss didn't looked pleased when he saw Xander."

"Hmm."  Horatio looked over as the doors thumped open.  "We just barely got those fixed," he said dryly.  He looked at Mac again.  "Sam?"

"Bed.  Reading.  Along with the one working out," Mac said quietly.  Horatio nodded at that.  "Stella."  She walked in from the kitchen, bringing him some water.  "Guests."

Stella waved.  "Good evening."  She walked off again.

"We just finished dinner.  She's putting up some of the leftovers for snacks later."  Mac sat on Tony's chair.  "What can we do for you tonight?"

"We have come to talk to you about your son."

"What about Xander?"

"He has broken every single treaty we've ever made."

"If you're talking about his hunting, he had no idea until about a month before he woke our memories."

"I'm *talking* about the way he did not conform to the treaty that would give one of his heirs to our clan for marriage."

"He's now a human male.  His mate is a human male.  Neither of which can have children.  The only child that may have been born was still in Dean when we were cursed and basically died to be reborn in the human realm."

"That violates the treaty."

"If they were barren, would that?" Horatio asked.

"Yes.  Where is the overlord and clan leader?  I want him punished."

"He's off taking care of something," Mac said.

Stella came out of the kitchen sipping some coffee.  "I want to see the copy of the treaty."

"Who are you to demand anything?" she sneered.

"High Priestess Stella."  The demon backed up, looking horrified.  "They had us all reborn as humans.  I'm also CSI Stella Bonasera in New York."  She took another sip.  Don walked in with Danny.  "Hey, guys."

"Hey," Danny said, sitting on the throne.  "Okay, Jethro said he's busy.  What's up?"

"They want to punish Xander for not having kids," Mac said.

"Huh.  No."  He looked at the demons.  "They lost the baby when we were reborn.  I'm not gonna push them to have another one since it hurts them ta think about it.  Even with a future marriage treaty, which I don't think you have after talking to Xander just now."

"He's here?"

"Of course he's here.  They made him the memory key," Mac said.  "He won't be seeing you.  We don't want to have problem."

"I like that idea," Danny agreed.  "We don't need more with all the redecorating we've got going on."  Don coughed so he grinned at him.  "Is your room fixed?"

"I've got it down to the basics.  My stuff was found in the closet.  Horatio has to remove a ton of stuff still so I've been helping him."  Horatio nodded.  "I have no idea where they found that."

"There's a good pathway of information and things from our realm," Horatio reminded him.  "Where is John?"

"With Sam," Danny said.  That got a nod.  "The girls decided to take a room in town so they wouldn't have to share a bed.  One's mom sent them with some money."

"That's fine," Mac agreed.  "Probably better at the moment."

The demon huffed.  "I will not be put off on this matter."

"Then present the treaty," Danny said.  "Even though it's not really a treaty that's enforceable.  If there is a treaty."

She glared.  "How dare you doubt me."

"The last time we heard about your clan, they were here trying to snatch Xander but didn't respect him or like him all that much," Don said dryly.  "It got to the point where the boy had to nearly run away to get away from you disrespecting him and his twin sister."

"She's not worthy."

"Yet, she's the better warrior," Danny said.  "Always was from what I heard."  Don nodded at that.  "And now she's a slayer."  The demon gasped, backing up a few steps.  "Why pass over the better fighter when they'd be honor bound to protect your clan to get Xander?  Who was a pretty decent fighter but Faith was better at the time.  Xander had just picked up his scythes.  Faith stayed with the swords they trained on."

"They also had a lot of unmarried sons," Stella told him.  "They had to dig up a cousin to marry Xander since they had no breeders."

"Interesting," Don agreed.  "If I remember right, there was also a problem with the cousin's health."

"He's gifted," she sneered.

"Very," Stella agreed.  "But too wild to serve in the temple."

"They say he can be a seer under the right circumstances."

"Doubt it," Danny said.

"No, he might be able to," Faith said as she walked in.  "It's hidden but he had a few funny dreams now and then."  She walked over to lean on the throne Mac was on.  "What's the what, people?"

"They think they have a treaty to take Xander's egg but he's not a breeder anymore."

"Ah," she said, nodding slowly.  Then she shook her head.  "Xander wouldn't have signed that."

"Me either," Jethro said as he walked in.  Danny moved.  He sat down, looking at her.  "What?  Do I look that different?"

"No, not really.  You did sign it."

"Then produce the treaty," Stella said.  Faith looked at her.  "With documentation we can make a decision.  Without it, they're farting complaints."

Don snickered.  "I've got to remember that saying."

She smirked at him.  "I'm very wise."

"You are," Jethro agreed.  "But we never agreed to hand over any clan's children.  Not since we were desperate during the Frosat war generations ago."

She pulled out the treaty, handing it to Mac.  "There."

Stella took it to look over.  "This is ancient."  She found the right clause.  "The last son born of the clan should give his child to them.  Under penalty of death."

"Xander wasn't born of the clan," Mac said quietly.  She glared at him.  "I didn't bear Xander and Faith.  I'm not a breeder.  Their mother wasn't in the clan and we weren't married.  That means Horatio's the last born of the clan.  He's barren too."

"I may marry some day but since I'm human now, they probably would be as well."

Jethro nodded.  "Three former marriages and I don't have any more kids.  You tried really hard to get Xander so you could brainwash him, use him, then kill him probably."  He scratched his wrist.  "Which I do not like."

Horatio looked at his wrist.  "You're flaking, Jethro."

"I've been doing it all day.  The healer said it's the difference in the minerals in the local diet.  I need vitamins."

"Or we need to send Buffy for cheeseburgers," Faith said with a grin.

"Chicken wings," Don said.  "Universal guy food."

She looked at him.  "The tits mean I'm not a guy, Don."  He cackled.  "So, are you guys forbidden to marry?"

"Kinda.  My Ma'll hate that but I've got to explain this to them."  He looked at the sweating demon.  "So."

"Buffy is here?  The slayer?"

Faith nodded.  "She came to see Xander and me.  Willow too."  She smirked.  "Or can't you feel I'm a slayer too?"

"She's better."

Faith shrugged.  "She's had it longer."  She would not show that hurt.

Xander walked in and slapped the demon to knock her down.  "Faith's a very good slayer and she's more concerned about important things.  Much more important than her clothes.  Do not insult my twin again or I will make your whole clan sorry," he snarled.

"Down boy," Jethro ordered calmly.

"Oh, but why?" he asked.  "She'd be fun.  I can hunt her.  We can have a grand hunt all around town.  Out into the woods.  The people will like it, celebrate, have a picnic."  He gave him a winning smile.  "I can even ride."

"No," Jethro said.  "Not allowed."

"Damn."  He glared at the demon.  Then he leaned down with an evil smirk.  "Even if I was having kids, they'd be just like Dean."  She burst out crying and scrambled to her feet, stomping off.  "Bye now," he called, waving his hand.  "Like I'd let any kids go to anyone I didn't like."  He walked off shaking his head.  "Solved, Dean," he called as he walked.

Faith shook her head.  "Sometimes that boy has no sense," Stella said.

"I told him to avoid them," Horatio said.

"Xander is the definition of stubborn," Faith said.  "B told me when his friend got taken by vampires he got into her face and made her take him.  Each time they try to send him away, he got into their face."  They all nodded at that.  "We good?"

"For now," Mac said.  "She might try to come back."

"I'm not planning on having children," Horatio noted.  "Even if I were, I'd never let them get that far away.  I'd probably be worse than Sam is."  Faith gave him an odd look.  "Dean's over-protective of Sam but this would be the first person Sam had to protect."

She walked off shaking her head.  "No kids.  Ever."  Sam caught her, pulling her into an alcove to kiss her.  "Needed it that bad?"

He grinned.  "Dad's still in our room."

"Your dad's growly but okay enough."

"Now and then."  He took another kiss.  "Xander all right?"

"He's probably pacing and snapping," she said.

"Dean's calming him down then."  He walked her off.  "Do you think we can make Dad go away soon?"

"Probably."  They walked into their apartment.

"Dad, it's bedtime."  His father scowled at him.  "I'll sleep on the couch if she wants.  All she has to do is ask, Dad.  You did teach me honor."  His father walked off shaking his head.  Sam kicked the door shut with a grin for her.  "All up to you."

"I'm used to guys who want to make decisions for me."

He leaned closer to her.  "I can do that but you'd keep Mac and Horatio up again."  She cackled.  He pulled her closer to kiss her, making her one happy slayer.  And he never got out of his underwear.  He wouldn't do that to her since they didn't have any condoms or other forms of birth control handy.  His tongue was enough.

"Geez, Sammy, way too loud!" Dean yelled from outside.

"Shut up and go to bed!" he yelled back.  "Jerk."

Faith pulled him back down to get back to it.

Dean went back to his room once he had a snack.  Xander was sacked out on his bed.  Dean sat on his, nibbling while reading.  He had found a pretty decent novel in the library.  Xander moaned and flipped onto his bed.  "Not again," he muttered.  He put his book and snack aside, flipping onto his stomach to look down at Xander.  "Xander?"  Xander batted at his voice.  "Xander?"  He got pushed at then Xander flipped onto his injured side, then yelped. "Hey."  He slid down to push Xander onto his back.  He groaned at the new bleeding.  "What did you do, sleep with a sword?"  He found the scythe and put it up onto the pillow.  Xander pulled it down to cuddle.  "Sure."  He looked at the injury, shaking his head.  "That's going to hurt when you wake up."  He smacked Xander on the face gently.  "Hey."  Xander blinked at him.  "You rolled over onto it.  You need more stitches."

"I'll do them in the morning," he complained, flipping onto his other side.

"Get up and I'll do them for you, Xander."  Xander looked at him.  "I can.  I have done ours for a while now.  Sammy's more gentle but I'm good enough."  Xander sighed, pulling off his shirt to let him get at the injury.  "On the higher bed."  He went to get what he needed from the first aid kit Xander had carried with them when they snuck across the mirror.  He came back to clean the injury and then get to work on it.  "Why were you sleeping with your scythe?"

"Extra protection in case they came back."

Dean looked up at him.  "You sleep too deeply to wake up."

"If there's anyone I don't expect to be in the room, I'd wake up."

Dean grinned.  "So you expect me to be in here?"

"Now.  The trek here I almost didn't sleep.  I think I slept in the carts we hitched rides on but not at night.  I zoned out while we walked."

"I wondered why you didn't react to the snake we almost got bitten by."  He went back to stitching.  It wasn't so bad, just a bit deep.  "There," he said, tying off the last one and cutting the strings.  He put the stuff on the bedside table.  "Want a bandage?"

"I'm good."  He yawned.  "Thanks, Dean."

"Welcome, Xander.  Why don't you sleep up here?"

"I'm fine down there.  It's safer too."

"We can guard each other," Dean told him.  "You can even sleep with the scythe."  Xander curled up on the far side of the bed.  Dean finished his snack in a few bites before laying down to go to sleep.  Xander was curled up with a hand on his scythe.  Dean was on his back but he had his favorite handgun under his pillow and his hands were under his head. He fell asleep that way, relaxing most of the way.  If there was a threat he'd have to get up.  Xander slept too deeply.  Someone opened a door and Dean snapped awake but didn't move.  He felt Xander stiffen too.  So apparently he was paranoid.  Whoever it was stepped inside and closed the door.  Dean shifted, looking like he was flipping onto his side facing the door.  The body paused.  The gun was in his hand and he had gotten it down to his waist as he moved.  The body stepped closer.  "Freeze," he ordered, cocking the gun.  The body froze.  Xander flipped on the light.  It was one of the guards.  "Why are you in here?"

"Someone said they heard Lord Xander making pained noises."

"That was over an hour ago," Xander said.  He got up, looking at him.  He sniffed.  "Vampire.  Interesting."  The vampire whimpered.  "Why are you in my room?"

"To check on you, sir.  I've served the clan for years.  I'm not here to hurt you or the slayer, sir."

Xander nodded.  "That was still over an hour ago."

"I know but they didn't want to sneak in since you gutted the last one who tried to check on you before the curse."

Xander stepped back.  "I'm fine.  Dean stitched where I rolled over on my scythe.  Next time, knock."  He nodded, fleeing.  Xander went back to his bed.  Dean looked down at him.  "Yes, I'm a bit paranoid.  There's vamps all over Sunnydale and they all want to take us out."

"That's fine.  You can still sleep up here."

"I smell a really bad stink.  It'd be safer if I was under the bed."  He shifted and rolled under the bed next to the mattress.  "Can I have my scythe?"  Dean passed it down then laid back down, turning off the lights with the clapper function.  The door opened a few minutes later and Xander had to sigh at the gaudy ankle bells the intruder was wearing.  The perfume stench was floating down to make him gag.

Dean pointed the gun at the demon.  "Get out of my room."

"Where is the heathen bastard?" she sneered.

"Walking."  She moved closer.  "Come get her or I'm shooting her," he called.  No answer so he shrugged and shot her on the arm, making her scream and wail.  She even rolled around on the floor.  Fortunately they had a solid footboard that covered Xander's location.  Horatio came running in.  "She wanted some heathen bastard.  I'm sure I make her list."

Horatio hauled her up.  "No guards this way?"

"We just scared one to death," Xander called.

"Sure," Horatio decided, hauling her out.  He tossed her into Jethro's room.  "She was looking for some heathen bastard in the boys' room.  Dean thinks he now qualifies and Xander was ...somewhere.  Apparently they scared a guard down there recently."

"Noise?" Jethro asked.

"I doubt it since I saw a stitching pack getting ready to be tossed out."

"I'll ask him in the morning."  Jethro looked at the perfumed, sobbing, ugly dressed mess on his floor.  "Do we have a brig?"

"I don't know," Horatio admitted.  "I know we used to."  A guard stomped in.  "Who got scared of the boys?"

"We sent in a vampire guard to check on them.  He ran up to the parapet.  Nearly off it before he calmed down.  Lord Xander scared the crap out of him."

Jethro smiled.  "She should've done that too."

"We have a jail cell.  Let me put her into it until you've had coffee, Overlord."  He hauled her up and out.  "We'll do a thorough search of the castle."

"Thank you," Horatio said, looking at Jethro.  "Why Xander?"

"I don't know.  Why try to kill Xander and Faith?  They gave us normal lives, made us normal people.  Why make Faith a slayer, who would be in danger of dying young, and put them both into bad areas that have a lot of demons?"

"I do not know," Horatio said.  "Yet.  Is there someone we can ask?"

"Ask Buffy tomorrow."  He laid back down.  "Night."

"Night."  He left, going back to his own suite to settle in again.  Mac leaned out of his.  "Someone wanted Xander."


"I do not know.  Yet."

"I'll help you look."  He pulled back in and went back to wondering about the problem at hand.  Why Faith and Xander?  At dawn he got up and went down to the rooming house the girls were in, nodding politely at the keeper when he was let in.  "Are the girls up?"

"One is.  One is snoring heavily, Lord Mac."

"Thank you.  Third or second floor?"

"Third.  We have a vampire here to work on the quarry problem.  We wanted them far apart so no one had to be paranoid."

"Quarry problem?"

"We had one wall collapse last week.  No injuries.  Just a minor setback to the repairs on the walls for a few weeks.  We didn't want to bother the overlord with something so trivial."

"He appreciates that.  Let us know if it's going to interfere with things."   That got a nod.  He went up to find the girls, smelling the light, crisp perfume being applied in one room.  He knocked and the demon smiled at him.  "Sorry, wrong room.  Looking for Summers and Rosenburg."  She pointed across the hall.  "Thank you, ma'am."  He knocked and Buffy answered, staring at him.  "I have a few questions."

"Sure."  She let him in and settled on the top of the bed.  "You can have the footboard.  All girls learn how to chat on a bed."

"Thank you."  He sat down, looking at her.  "The clan that showed up last night...."

"The gaudy, circus tent people?"

"Yes, them.  For some reason they wanted Xander."


"That's what we're wondering.  They pulled out an ancient treaty to try to get him."  He shifted.  "Is there a power that's over top of higher level demons?"

"The Powers That Be."

"The Powers That Be?"

"They're over Champions and Slayers.  I'm guessing there would be a higher level demon over the realms.  I don't know who it'd be.  I can call Giles to ask.  He might be able to find it."

"Please and ask if he might know why so many demons want Xander?"

"Of course.  We don't want Xander hurt.  That's why we came to threaten Dean and Sam."

He smiled.  "That's good.  I'm sure they'll appreciate that.  Even if Dean did stitch him up earlier this morning."  She gave him a hurt look.  "He rolled over on his scythe from what the guard said."

She rolled her eyes.  "Yeah, that's Xander to a T.  He likes to play with the weapons but he doesn't have a lot of training."


"Well, we didn't have time to but he did what he could sparring with me.  He learned by practice from jumping in.  My first watcher trained me some but Giles has tried to do more.  I'm good with a stake and okay with a sword but I trained more in hand-to-claw."

"That's not a problem," Mac told her.  "You can't be excellent in every form of martial arts."  She smiled at that.  "Can you call him and let us know?"

"Of course.  Is Dean going to throw a hissy if we cuddle Xander?  He clearly looked a bit lost."

"They worked out the jealousy issue yesterday."  He stood up.  "The past memories did that.  Dean was very overprotective last time.  He used to nag Xander every time he came in injured while holding him down to take care of the injuries."

She laughed.  "Yeah, he hides them from us too.  Ever since Willow got a bit strange when she started to date Oz."

"Do we know why?"

"No.  She discovered magic around then too.  That's kinda when we started to be bad to Xander.  Started to think he was too normal and stuff."

"I can understand that part of that was worry about him, Buffy, but you hurt him quite a lot."

"I'm sorry, Mac.  I didn't mean to but it was part worry and part slayer specialness kick.  Willow has powers.  I have powers....  What did Xander have?"

"Training.  That's all someone like Dean has and his family's been hunting for years.  It's all any of us have at the end of the day.  Powers can leave but training is forever, even with amnesia."

"Good point.  I saw that movie."   He smiled and left.  She sat down to make sure her cellphone had a signal.  Huge roaming fees probably but this was important.  "Giles, it's me."  She smiled.  "He's okay.  The one they want to be his mate got a bit jealous for no reason yesterday.  Someone was hugging him.  He used to hold Xander down to take care of his injuries before so he couldn't hide them.  Even nagged the Xander."  He laughed at that.

"Yeah, he probably ran into the 'I'm fine' wall too.  Anyway, small problem.  Two different demons have come to get Xander.  Yeah, pulled out an ancient treaty to get him.  One snuck into his room from the rumors the guards said when I went out for tea earlier.  That's what they wanted to know.  Is there a higher power over the ones who rule realms?"  She beamed.

"Thank you.  Sure, let me know.  They have email here too so you can have Oz email it to Willow if you want.  Because huge roaming fees, Giles.  I doubt this is on my network."  He said he doubted it too.  "But we're going to hang out up there again.  They're flipping the building so it's back to the nicer look it had been.  The garden is filled with spiny, tentacly plants that can eat us and they had people-eating fish eggs in the pond.  Sure, thanks, Giles.  Soon."  She hung up and went to stop Willow from snoring.  She was *really* loud.  That's why she didn't want to share a room with her.


Mac walked into the throne room, walking around the sobbing, pleading, overly perfumed thing with gaudy clothes that looked like she had cut down a clown's costume.  "They let them have perfume in jail?"

"She's in heat," Jethro said dryly.  "The clothes I'm not sure about."

"Hmm.  Not attractive to me," Xander said from his spot in the corner.  "No matter what sort of stink she puts out."

"Humans can make themselves perform," she sneered at him.

He shook his head.  "No I can't.  Sorry.  If my mind isn't into it, the lower head isn't either."

Mac looked at him.  "The girls will be up later."


"How bad are the stitches?"

"It was a scratch and he overreacted."

"Didn't he used to do that?" Faith teased from her seat.

He shrugged.  "I didn't get them all back because I didn't get the memory upgrade you got when you got your sword."

"Whatever, Xander.  They'll come.  Maybe it takes snuggling Dean."

He gave her a dirty look.  "Just because it was good for you," he shot back.

"It was but not like that."

"Uh-huh.  You just cuddled," he said dryly.

"No sleeve, no love," she quipped back.

"Maybe Willow brought some.  She's dating Oz.  She doesn't want baby werewolves."

"That's a bad thought," Dean said.  "Furry babies three days a month?"  He shuddered.

"So if X was a furry baby, you'd never think about eggs?" she teased him.

"I'd never be cold but I'd have to shave," Xander told him.  "I can't stand the hair growing back after having to shave for the swim team."

"You're still shaving?" Faith asked, looking amused.

He gave her a very bland look.  "No, that's the purpose of Nair."  She gaped.  He gave her a smug look.

"Kids, TMI," Tony complained.

"Don't you wax your chest, DiNozzo?" Gibbs taunted.

"I have a very beautiful woman who does it for me," he shot back with a look.

"Still won't date you?"

"Didn't ask, boss.  She's got four kids and a girlfriend."

Gibbs shook his head.  "Scared of the kids?"

"No.  They're nicer than her girlfriend."  Mac and Horatio both shook their heads.  "Sue me, I like beauty."

"Was Jethro prettier when he was younger?" Faith asked.  Jethro glared at her.

"It was his eyes."  Jethro smacked him.  "Even if I do sometimes feel like I'm in an S&M relationship with him thanks to all the smacking he does of me."  He glared at Jethro.  "Not at work now, boss.  Keep it up and I'm bringing McGee to wire my big screen tv up here.  Then I'll bring my porn for the kids."

"Whoo hoo," Faith said sarcastically.  "Anything I can't get going to the gay strip clubs?"

"Or busty lesbian cheerleaders?" Xander suggested.

"He has both," Gibbs said.

"How do you know that?" Mac asked.

"The last time I had a concussion he brought me home and snooped," Tony said dryly.

"You have both in your desk."

"The Wild Stallions DVD is Abby's birthday present, boss."

"Abby needs to see sweaty guys gyrating?"

"She wanted to see sweaty, built guys gyrating in tiny g-strings."

Gibbs shook his head.  "I never needed that stuff."

"You had three wives," Tony said dryly.  "Some of us have to talk people into bed, then into not trying to move in."

"Don't have that problem now," Abby said as she came out of the kitchen.  "You got me the Wild Stallions DVD?"

"Yeah, the last two.  They're in my desk so maybe McGee has them."

"He'd never steal them.  They're not his thing."  She gave him a hug.  Jethro smirked.  "If they wanted to bring up their porn, I wouldn't care."

"I would.  They have apartments for that stuff."  He looked at Faith, who gave him a clueless look.  "Don't even.  I know very well you remember being caught in *my* apartment, Faith."

"You wanted me to spawn."

He snorted.  "Nice try."  He looked at Xander.  "You two good?"


"Where is Dean?"

"Looking in the armory.  Picking on Sam.  Probably with their dad.  He just snuck out."

"That's fine."  Buffy and Willow were shown in.  "Did you get any information?"

"I got a whole lot," Buffy said, handing over her notes.  Jethro read it, frowning.  Tony handed him his glasses.  "My mom has those."

He looked at her.  "Eyesight isn't an age problem."  He put them on but her handwriting still sucked.  Or demons spelled things really funny.  "Mall demons?"

"Malle demons.  They're the ones who want Xander broken, begging, and willing to do anything to be a good doggy."

"Charming," Xander said.  "Not going to happen.  I'd die before begging or being a pet."  The demon on the floor moved so he kicked her back down then in the head. "Yours either.  I don't beg."

"That's going to suck for Dean," Faith teased.

Xander looked at her.  "What makes you think I'd bottom?"

"Um...  Good point.  Not one I want to think about though."  She shook her head, walking off to get a drink.

"Xander, we need information from her," Tony said.  "You and Buffy do your thing with Faith please?  In the garden so we don't have to hear it?"

"Sure," he said with an evil smirk.  He pulled her up and walked her out with Buffy following.  Faith followed with her bottle of water.

"Why not me?" Willow asked.

"Because Xander, Faith, and Buffy can be mean if the situation calls for it," Jethro said.  "You're much too nice for that, Willow."

"You want them to torture her?"

"No but she doesn't know that," Tony told her.

"Oh.  Okay."

Tony smiled.  "We're Feds."

"I'm going to avoid you guys all I can."

"Then quit hacking," Abby told her with a smirk.  "By the way, McGee said hi."


Abby gave her a hug.  "It's all right.  We do have to set up a computer here so want to help?"

"Sure.  I'm surprised they have this much technology here."  They walked off together.  She blushed at the cute guys watching them.  "Hi," she squeaked.

"That's Dean and Sam, Willow.  Dean was Xander's mate and Sam was Faith's snuggly thing."

"Xander said something about that."  She waved then fled with Abby.

Dean shook his head.  "I'm glad Xander's not that shy," Sam said.  "You'd never get close to him."

"We're working it out.  He's a very private guy.  I'll crack him down to the point where I don't get 'I'm fine' from him."

"No from the memories they've had it was always like that," Sam told him.  "You used to hold him down and check him for injuries whenever he said he was fine."

Dean walked off shaking his head.  He and Xander would start over and maybe this time it'd be better.  He went to where he could hear yelling, watching Buffy threaten the demon.  He snorted, walking out and moving her out of his way.  He pulled his gun, checking the clip before slamming it back in.  He cocked it, calmly removed the safety then pointed it at her chest.  "In your species your heart is lower and to the right.  So I'd about hit the edge of it.  I was just in the armory with the silver and pewter bullets."  She tried to move.  He shifted his aim.  "I can do this at least seven times until you die.  And if I switch my aim, I can do it all day.  We have a huge case of them.  And I still won't kill you."

"Dean," Buffy complained.

He looked at her.  Then back down.  "The ladies might complain but yay.  We are the guardians of this clan and you did try to take what's mine."

"Is this like the jealous streak?" Faith asked.

Dean shrugged.  "Haven't decided yet."  The demon whimpered.  He stared down at her.  "Did you have something you wanted to tell me?"

"Or me?" Xander asked, moving closer.  "Dean, if you aim about six inches up, you'll hit her stomach.  She live with a perforated stomach for *days* of horrible pain before she dies."

"Good to know."  He shifted his stance and where the gun was aimed.  "I need to know why you want my mate.  Just ask the girls, I'm very possessive of what's mine."

"You should hear how he babies his brother Sam," Faith added.  "He nearly tied him in a closet instead of letting him go on a date."

Dean looked at her.  "She was slimy.  He has better taste.  As shown by you."  She beamed at that.  He looked at the demon.  She was invisible.  Xander stomped and she came back with a gasp, holding the arm he had broken.  "Cute.  Really," he said dryly.  She sobbed and started to talk.  Buffy took notes.

Xander squatted down to look at her.  "That isn't everything, is it?" he asked.  She nodded frantically.  He pulled out the scythe and put it beside his foot.  "Are you sure?"  She wailed and shouted a few other facts.  He picked up his scythe then stood up, looking at Dean.  "What did the overlord want to do with her?"

"No clue," Dean admitted.  "Buffy, go hand that in and ask?"  She went to do that.  He looked at her.  "Let's see what Jethro wants."

Tony walked out and looked at her.  "Jethro said let her be a messenger.  They ever come back for less than asking for help protecting their children from a mass disease and you can finish it.  Am I clear?"  She nodded.  "Then leave."  She got up and ran out, holding her arm.  "Boys, calm down."

"I am."  He uncocked the gun and put the safety back on, then put it back into the back holster he was wearing.  "Nice bullets.  Silver and pewter."

"Good to know."   He let them back inside.  He walked them into the throne room.  Buffy was giving a report.  "They did good.  Scared the crap out of her."

"Good," Jethro agreed.

"Dean found silver and pewter bullets."

"Interesting.  We need to test them out."  He looked at Buffy, who looked squeamish.  "Those of us who aren't officers of some sort are hunters, Buffy.  Guns are part of their lives."

"I don't use guns.  They don't work and they're bad," she said.

"You used artillery," Xander said.

"Limited case," she shot back.

"We use shotguns," Sam told her.  "All the time."  She groaned.  "We each have our own methods, Buffy.  If you like stakes and crossbows, that's good for you.  We won't make you change."  She relaxed and smiled again.

Dean nodded.  "I'd rather have a long range weapon.  Means I hit less walls."

"Xander always hits gravestones," Buffy told him.  "Usually with his head."

"That happens when the things you hunt are stronger," Dean told her.  "Sammy hits a lot of walls too."  She nodded, understanding that.  "So now what, Jethro?"

"We still have to set up how to rule this place while we're in our normal lives.  I've got to make Abby and Danny decide which one's the official heir since there's no division between males and females."

"Danny can have it," Abby called.

"Gee thanks, but I've gotta work too," Danny said from his seat.

"I called not me first," Abby told him.

Danny glared.  "I do just as much work as you do."

"I'm the only lab tech our office has."

He grimaced.  "Poor girl.  I pull quads."

"Me too.  Do you like caf-pows?"

"Eeeh, I get too shaky."

"Kids," Mac ordered.

"Yes?" Xander and Faith asked.

"Not you two.  Those two."

"I said not me first so it should be his because of that.  And because he's older."

Danny moaned.  "I died here."

"So?  Buffy died but Xander brought her back."

"Leave me out of it.  I wouldn't like the responsibility," Buffy complained.  "Not to mention all the paperwork you guys do at work."

"I don't do much but I do a lot of lab tests," Danny told her.  "Reports at the end of the cases."

She shuddered.  "Eww, science.  Yuck."  She walked off shuddering.

Jethro smiled at that.  "Danny?"

"If I must," he sighed.

"We'll work it out so we can live mostly normal lives."  Jethro looked at Tony.  "We'll work out a rotating schedule?"

"With our cases coming at a moment's notice, boss?"

"If I have to, I can let you go for a few hours or head back to handle bigger things.  We can all rotate out to deal with things."  They all nodded.  "Danny, since I don't know, are you dating anyone?  That way I'm not blind-sided by something?"

"Not at the moment but there's one who's interested."

"Don't," Mac warned.

"I don't think I want to.  She annoys the crap outta me, Mac."

"Thank you."  He looked at Tony.  "One of the other techs."

"That's tough when you work with them.  If it goes that bad, someone has to transfer."

"We only wish," Danny said dryly.  Don nodded from his chair.  He looked at him.  "Montana hit on you too?"

"Not yet.  I don't want her to either.  She's annoying."

Stella snorted.  "She's got issues, Don, but it doesn't always impact her job."

"Yeah it does.  She's smug, she thinks she knows it all.  She's always picking on Danny.  Nags others.  I can't stand nagging women."

"Me either, that's why I got divorced," Gibbs said.  Someone walked in and bowed.  "Problems?"

"The quarry's problem has been solved and the reinforcements will go on as planned, Overlord."

"There was a problem?"

"A wall slid in," Mac told him.

"Okay.  No one was hurt?"  She shook her head.  "Good.  Let me know if there's going to be longer reaching problems or it's something I need to hear, like it'll hurt the security of the town."

"The wall reinforcements are one of the ones that shouldn't be delayed."

"Is it going to be as ugly as the garden?" Don asked.

"A few new layers, replacing some broken stones on the walls.  A few gargoyles."

"No," Gibbs said.

"They're already created, Overlord," she said hesitantly.

"We'll find somewhere for them," Xander assured her.  "Maybe the old temple?"

"We don't need gargoyles," Stella complained.

"Not that one.  The other one on the outside of the walls," Xander told her.  She beamed.  "It's scary, could use refurbished before it falls in on some kids exploring in it.  I used to.  Faith fell through a floor."

"You fell down six stories," Faith told him.

"I don't remember that," Mac said.

"That's because he limped back and went right into a bath then hid in his room from dinner saying he had a headache from the sunburn," she told him.

"That's what that meant," Jethro said, giving Xander a smug look.

Xander nodded.  "Yup."

"Good thing Dean pounced you to hold you down when he checked for injuries," Horatio said.

"If I have to keep doing that, I get to yell, right?" Dean asked.

"If we need protecting, I'm going to jump in," Xander told him, sticking his tongue out at him.  A new memory hit him and he groaned, holding his head.  "Never mind."  Dean tipped his face up.  "Just an old memory."

Dean patted him on the head.  "You'll get them back."

"I want to find out what the key is for mine like Faith's sword was for hers."

"Maybe it's because you were the key to all the rest," Tony said.

"Could be.  Still sucks.  The watchers have my other scythe so I can't see if it's that."

"It makes less sense that her sword was hers," Mac told him.  "Why the sword?"

"It was the present Stella gave me on my majority.  The same as his scythes were," Faith said.

"So maybe Stella has the key to Xander's remaining memories," Horatio said.  Speed walked in.  "Do we have any idea on Xander's missing memories?"

"Too many head injuries?  Or maybe we should ask a demon who can get in there to get his other scythe?"

"The watchers said it was too dangerous so it's in a special vault," Willow said.  "Which I guess makes no sense.  Unless they thought Xander getting it back was too dangerous."

"No," Xander said.  "I'm a good boy unless you attack.  They should give it back.  I should storm the building and beat it out of Travers."

"I'd like that," Buffy said from the hallway.  She leaned in.  "Really a whole lot."

Xander grinned.  "He has my scythe."

"They said it's a dangerous artifact."

"Is it possessed?"  She shook her head.  "Then it's my possession."  She grinned.  "Think we can find a demon to lift it for me?"

"Maybe.  I can ask Angel."  She walked off to make a note of that for herself.  She found Sam and grabbed his arm to walk him off so she could get to know him better.  He was going to be dating her sister slayer.  No matter how much she didn't get along with Faith, she should get to threaten him.

Dean glanced out then at Faith.  "Buffy stole Sammy."

She got up to find Buffy before she could dent Sam on her.

Xander grinned.  "That was nice of you."

"She'll scare Sammy.  It'll take me weeks to get him straightened out again."  He sat beside Xander.  "Stella?"  She looked up from reading.  "Is there a way to see if you're the key to Xander's memories?"

"Not that I know of.  Ducky might but he's not here."

Tony pulled out his cellphone.  "Roaming," he said with a wince.

"I doubt our nationwide service is carried in another realm, DiNozzo."

Tony dialed anyway.  "Ducky, Tony.  It's going good.  I'll tell him.  Boss, Ducky said the director's worried sick about this assignment."

"We'll be back soon."

"He said we'll be back soon.  Listen, small issue.  Xander, the young, dark haired smartass.  Yes, him.  He can't get all his memories back for some reason.  Faith got hers with her sword.  They were twins but Xander's still blocked.  We think for some reason Stella might be the key but she's not sure how.  Sure, but I'm roaming."  He tossed the phone to Stella, who walked off to talk to him about priestly stuff.  She came back to hold Xander's head and chant.  Nothing.

"Hold on, let me try Dean's," she said, doing that.  Dean yelped then moaned, holding his own head.  "Dean's is back.  Dean, kiss Xander?"

Dean pulled Xander over to kiss him.  Nothing.  Not even a moan from him.  He took Xander to the armory for some privacy and mugged him in there against a wall.  Xander moaned that time but still no sign of new memories.  "Do I have to pull you down and have you here?" he asked.

Stella walked in.  "We think Faith got hers back because of the special sword she had blessed to be hers and Sam being there.  I got Sam unblocked and Faith's more comfortable.  Anything, Xander?"

"Not yet."  He calmed himself then looked around.  "Willow?"  She came jogging in.  "Take any and all spells off me.  Please?"

"Sure, Xander."  She got to work removing all the protections she had cast on Xander.  "There, that should help."  Someone came running in and sat Xander down.  "I didn't mess up," she protested.

"He's very sensitive to magic.  We had to crack his egg with it because they couldn't get the twins out."

"Twins come from the same egg?" Willow asked.

"Only special ones.  Which is why the priests all tested those two.  They were late so we had to crack the shell with magic.  That's why he's so sensitive," Stella told her.

"Is that why every single spell in existence goes wrong around him?"

"No, that's more him being reborn on the hellmouth," the healer said.  "Plus the fact he might've been with egg when the curse hit."

"I was," Dean said.  "Doesn't hamper me."

"They wanted him out of the way worse," Stella pointed out.  "Plus you've never been to a hellmouth."

"Good point I guess.  Are we removing it?  We're trying to free the rest of his memories."

The guard nodded, going back to what he had been doing.  He smiled at the answer he got.  "There is a cure."  He did something and Xander passed out.  "Take him, bed him, and once you've rejoined it will be there," he told Dean.  Dean blushed.  "That and his scythes will reawaken them."

"He only has one.  The Watchers have the other one."

"We're fixing that.  Take him to his room.  Let him rest.  We'll make sure you get dinner."  He stood up.

"I have no idea how to do that," Dean hissed.

Stella pulled him closer.  "Like you would with a really tight woman, Dean," she said in his ear.  "Lube it, stretch it with your fingers, go slowly and give him some time to adjust once you move in.  Like with any virgin he'll be really tight and really sore later on.  The slower you go at first the less he'll hurt later."  He nodded at that.  "Then baby the boy.  I'm sure you remember doing that."

"Yeah, I do.  He wasn't... when we got together."

"Then you were both breeders.  You had natural slickness."   She patted him on the back.  "Go steal some snacks and drinks."  He jogged off to do that.  She and the guard got Xander to their room.  Willow followed and tidied up by magic for them.  Then she smiled and lit the candles when Dean came in.

"We're guys, Willow.  Candles are for girls and those who like playing with the hot wax."  She gave him a horrified look.  "Probably not this time."

"It makes it nicer and if it's darker he won't freak as much."  She walked off.  "He'll be okay.  The guards have someone getting his other scythe."  Buffy smiled. "But they won't be out until tomorrow."

"Sure, we can go back to the rooming house, maybe do some sightseeing," Buffy said.  "It's a lot more light today than it was yesterday.  Thank you for humoring us checking on our friends, Jethro."

"Welcome, girls.  Have a good night."   He smiled as they left.  "They don't seem too bad."

"They aren't always," Faith said.  "Just now and then they turn spoiled."  Sam walked in. "Dean's going to be tied up or something all night."

"Tied up?"

"Xan can be a bit kinky now and then.  He tried to get me onto my back."  He smiled at that.  "Stella and one of the guards was helping him with his memory block."  One guard walked in and knelt in front of Jethro with a pillow held up.  She got up to look, running a finger over the spiked end. "He's missed you, baby."  She frowned, touching it again.  "I'll be damned, it's tied to slayers."

The guard looked up at her.  "It's what calls the next one."

"That probably explains why he was so adamant to help the slayers," Jethro said.  "He's in his room with his mate."  The guard nodded, taking it that way.  "Thank you.  You and the one that helped him deserve a reward."

"Sire, may I marry my sweetheart?"

"Why would I mind that?"

"You don't seem too thrilled with the institution of marriage anymore."  Tony snickered. "And it's something the last one forbid without giving permission."

"Marriage isn't for everyone but if you want it, go for it."

He beamed and carried it back there.  The one with the magic tested it.  He got a nod.   "The overlord said we deserve a reward."

"I'll throw you a party when she finally agrees.  I'll figure out mine."  He took the pillow, carrying it inside.  He knelt beside the bed.

"Tell the guard thank you.  Xander will probably try to hug him tomorrow."

"I will."  He left.  "He'll hug you tomorrow."

"That's fine.  I'm told he hugs very nicely."  They smiled at the squeal.  Yes, he was a happy boy.  They left them alone, putting a guard in the hallway so on one and nothing would interrupt them except for a food delivery later on.


Xander came out the next morning much calmer.  Sore, but calmer.  He went to breakfast, nodding at everyone.  His scythes were on his belt.  "Morning."

"You better?" Faith asked.

"I'm good.  Thank you for letting me out of dinner last night."

"It was more important to make them all come back," Mac said, handing Xander the bowl of scrambled eggs.  The boy smiled, dishing himself up some.  "Dean still asleep?"

"He woke up earlier.   He didn't want to cuddle when he woke up so I got up once he was back asleep."  He took the toast and jelly then the coffee.  He dug in.  One of the guards came in so he gave him a hug.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  The one who got your scythe for you is the one on the gateway.  There's a few people coming up, overlord."

"Let me have some more coffee unless it's an emergency."

"Yes, sir."  He went to tell them that.  "He's drinking his morning coffee," he told the one in the lead.

"I have heard how important that is to him.  We needed to see Sam actually."

Sam leaned out of the kitchen.  "Give me thirty minutes to grab stuff from the library and finish my own coffee."  They nodded.  He gulped his food then went to the library with them to show them the plans he had found for them.  Plus all the agricultural information he could about greenhouses and hydroponic growing.  The farmers were more than happy to read with each other.  They had already picked out spaces for the greenhouses.  He showed them the building's plans he had found and they liked it.

Abby bounced in and looked.  "The local sunlight has a slightly purplish hue.  Instead of using green glass I might use clear."  They smiled and nodded.  "Just plain glass, not the glass blocks like you use in bathrooms."

"Of course," one agreed.  She beamed and bounced out.  "She makes a good heir."

"She does," Sam agreed. "She's also very happy.  Danny's helpful too if something needs to be decided."

"We know he was Jeris before but we're not sure if he's able to do the work.  He died before we could be sure."

"Abby was barely hatched," he countered.  That got a nod.  "They're both very good and in the same job back on earth.  They're both forensic scientists but Danny also does field work to find out who committed each crime."

"Interesting," one said.  "We'll deal with whatever the overlord decides."

"We're working on the plan right now."  They smiled and went over the crop yield per foot again.  Grains might not work so well but all the other things would.  They might get less yield in the winter but it'd still be fresh food.  They took the information after layering on thanks.  They had to talk to the other farmers.  It'd be a bit expensive to start but they may be able to set up a working trial one cheaply enough. Sam went back to the throne room.  "They subtly asked about Abby and Danny.  I told them we're working on the plan.  They took what I found to look at.  They're talking about setting up a trial greenhouse at first."

"That makes sense.  Make sure the local sunlight can get through glass," Jethro agreed.  Abby beamed.  "Why are they concerned?"

"Danny died before he was known about as a leader.  I pointed out Abby was barely out of the shell."

Jethro nodded.  "That works."  He sighed, shifting again.  "We've got to get this settled so we can get back to work.  Our director's throwing a fit."

"I called mine and he wasn't happy but he asked me outright if I was the same Horatio," he said from his seat.  "He said he heard we're doing a good job.  He's talking to your boss, Mac, but he said your boss knows as well."

"Charming," Don said dryly.  "We weren't sure Gerrard wasn't one of the ones after the bounty on our head."

"I always thought Sid might come from somewhere else," Danny said.  "He tells stories, he's a bit creepy."

"Sounds like a different version of Ducky," Tony said.  "I think it's all ME's."

"Peyton's all right.  Hawkes was good as an ME," Mac told him.

"Hawkes has an abnormal brain," Danny countered.  "No one's that smart without being a bit strange."  That got a nod.  "Peyton...  I know you like her, Mac, but she's kinda...whiny to some of us.  I heard a few of the lab gremlins say the same thing."

"Was Adam going off on females again?" Stella asked.

"Not you.  Her and Montana.  Not Jane in DNA, not any of the others.  Just those two."

She nodded.  "I can agree, Peyton can be a bit pouty and girlish to be an ME.  Mon...Lindsay is a problem waiting to happen now and then.  If she doesn't handle her problems soon."

"She has a reason," Mac said patiently.

"That's great," Danny agreed.  "You yelled at me when I had problems."  He and Mac stared at each other.  "If you had found out she was related to Tanglewood, would you have cut her the same sorta slack?"

"Yours came up on a case."

"You asked."

"I know.  I handled that in a way that wasn't the best ever, Danny.  I'm sorry about that."

"It's a fair question, Mac.  If you found Lindsay had that sort of background, would you deal with her?" Stella asked.

"Or would you kick her out like half the city wanted you to do to Danny?" Don finished.  "I ended up hitting a few," he said when Mac stared at him.  "More than a few.  Danny's a good CSI.  Then you seemed to abandon him."

"Hell," he muttered.

"Basically," Stella agreed. "If she had those sort of problems, would you do the same thing?"

"Probably not," Mac admitted.  "She's new and insecure."

"She had how long at her first lab?" Don asked.  Mac gaped.  "You had Danny basically on his own long before she got to the same time in.  Even with mentoring, as you called it, he was handling high profile stuff by then.  She's not.  You hardly let her work alone."

"I didn't realize I didn't have her work alone that often."  Stella shook her head.  "Did I do that to you, Stella?"

"No.  Danny, Aiden, and I all had to prove ourselves on a case after six months.  Hawkes already has.  People are wondering if she's capable and going to be given the same sort of sink or swim test."

"I'll handle that when I get back.  How is Hawkes handling things?"

"Not too bad.  A bit overloaded but they borrowed from non-felony.  Hawkes did complain it's been so long.  He said he wasn't going to let Lindsay out in the field if we didn't come back soon."

"Within a month," Jethro said. "We need to find a way to set up a passageway to here in our houses or somewhere close to us."  They all nodded.  "Then set up a rotating schedule or find a way for someone to call us."

"They have cellphones and email," Tony said. "I need to upgrade my service so I'm not roaming here."  Stella nodded at that.  "Do we want to do it weekly?"

"That'd work," Gibbs said.

Xander coughed.  "I have to go back for a fight at graduation."

"Are you going to go to college?" Tony asked.  Xander shook his head.  "You sure?"

"Very.  I can't stand school.  I might do vocational school.  I might just start work, but I can do my GED already.   I passed a test of it last year if I wanted to accept it.  Willow had me take it to show me I wasn't stupid."

"Don't they have to report that to the state?" Jethro asked.

"Not in Sunnydale.  Sunnydale's a bit...bad about things like that.  If you look at our high school, we can't pass Alabama's ninth grade tests in your senior year."

"Charming," Stella said dryly.

"It's there to give us something to do," he countered. "Not to educate us.  We get a few people who go to college outside of town but hardly any.  Including Buffy we think.  Probably Willow too."

Jethro shook his head.  "Someone needs to fix that."

"The mayor's had control of the town for over a hundred years," Xander told him.  "It was his idea."

"Maybe after he's defeated, things will change," Don said.

Xander looked at him.  "Even if you kill a vampire in front of them, or you save them from one, people will not remember.  Even if you talk to them about it a week later, they won't remember."

Don shook his head.  "We need to do something about that."

"If we were in Sunnydale, I'd have fixed it already," Jethro said.  "If we can pull Sunnydale here, I'll fix it."

"We keep stopping the people who want to pull earth into hell," Xander said dryly.  "If you can find a way to do that, we won't stop it.  Cordy might like to come up here."  Dean walked in and stared at him.  "You told me to quit cuddling."

"Didn't mean you had to abandon me."

"You told me to quit cuddling and I naturally cuddle."

"Uh-huh.  Cordy?"

"My ex, Cordelia?  She'd love to be up here.  No slime, the demons are polite and smart.  Whole new people to make follow her fashion advice."

"She wouldn't recognize the shirt you're wearing," Faith told him.

He looked at his current shirt.  "I think I poached clothes.  Sorry."

"I know you poached clothes, dude.  I don't mind."  He settled in beside Xander.  Xander handed down his soda.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  I didn't mean to flee, just give you some space."

"I thought someone might've taken you again."  Xander leaned down to kiss him on the head.  "Aww, mush," he complained.

"Sue me, I hung out with Willow and Buffy for the last few years.  I know more about girl stuff than I ever wanted to."  Faith cackled.

Dean looked at him.  "I don't need mush.  Less mush, more pouncing and weapons."

"Want to pet my scythes?" he teased with a wicked smirk.

"Later I'll help you sharpen them.  Dad wanted to see them."

"Okay."  Someone came in.  "It's the FBI elves."  Dean groaned, shaking his head.  "They're elves in the FBI and one wants to bomb Sunnydale.  Maybe we can do that for gradation."

Don Epps stared at him.  "Graduation?"

"The mayor's going to turn into a higher demon around then.  Willow thinks it'll be at graduation.  Lots and lots of food sources for the newly huge demon snake."

"Are they here?"

"Somewhere in town."

Don Epps nodded.  "I'll get with Miss Summers later."  He looked at Jethro.  "Our king is extending the invitation to come see his new horses and grandchild for you and your ...Tony.  He said spouse but ...."

Jethro nodded.  "We're planning on going home soon.  Finding a way to set up a direct portal or however to get here from each of the cities.  Then rotate out who takes problems or if they call me directly."

"He's going to be highly insulted if you don't take it up," Don warned.

"It'd be a short one.  Maybe a weekend," Jethro said.  He smiled at that.  "Yes, I remember the last time I said that.  Right now our director is throwing tantrums."

"You have *no* idea.  She's called her contacts in my agency and the CIA to find your team."

"Next weekend.  Only for a weekend."

"I'll have Charlie come get you."  He bowed.  "Thanks, Gibbs."

"Welcome," Tony said.  "Formal clothes or just good clothes?"

"Formal for some things, good for others.  No ball this time."

"Thank God," Jethro said.  Don Epps laughed.  "Just me and Tony?"

"He'd be insulted if you brought guards.  You might get away with Abby or Danny, possibly Stella.  You can see how well the others do while you're out of touch.  Cellphones don't work in our realm."

"Sure," Tony agreed.  "Is there a cellphone plan that reaches up here and down there?"

"I can get you info on it."  He smiled at the kids.  "He's still scared of you two.  Especially Xander."

"Why?  Is he sending vampires to Sunnydale?" Xander asked with a grin.

"I hope not."

"Then he shouldn't be scared of me.  Unless he wants to kidnap and own me too?"  Dean growled.  He looked down.  "Isn't that my line?" he teased with a grin.

"I'm not licking anything."

"Yet?" Xander asked.

"We'll see."  Xander grinned and looked at their visitor.  "We still have to work out the hunting stuff.  Dad said we won't all fit in the car."

Xander reached down to smooth some of the hair.  "I need to be there for graduation and the planning."

"Then we'll work it out later," Dean promised.  He looked at Faith, who shrugged. "Sammy?"


"Need help dragging him out?"

"Nah, I've got it."  She'd keep quiet about Sam's future plans.  They might not work anymore.  Don Epps looked at her.  "I can."

"I know you can.  There is the option that our realm has a branch of Oxford and Stanford."

"Way high class colleges," Xander said.

"Yeah, we gotta hunt," Dean told him.

Epps nodded at that.  "The offer's open to Xander as well, Dean.  As long as he can get his GED or graduate."

"GED," Xander said.  "I passed it last year thanks to Willow.  It wasn't filed."

Don moaned.  "That could help."  He looked at Jethro again.  "Thursday or Friday?"

"Friday.  Thursday we have merchants coming in to talk about the marketplace reopening."

"I'll let him know so he can greet you," Don said.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Tell him thank you for me."

"I will."  He left, going to tell his master that then head back to work.  He had a few open cases on his desk he needed to finish.  He bowed to his princess and king.  "He said he'd be here Friday for a weekend only.  He has to get back to work sometime soon.  He and Tony both; I told him he could bring Abby or Danny, maybe get away with Stella, but I did tell him that you were uneasy with the twins."

"Thank you.  Not Thursday?"

"He has merchants coming to talk about the marketplace that's presently closed."

"Understandable.  He has a lot of work to do."

"He's looking to set up a direct link back from each major city.  They're talking about a rotating schedule of who takes problem calls.  DiNozzo needs info on the plan that'll extend their cells up there without roaming costs.  Xander has both his scythes back and he was teasing Dean.  They're talking about graduation having an issue with their mayor."  His king groaned, shaking his head.  "Faith was there but she didn't say anything about college plans either."

"Good to know.  She'll tell Sam I'm sure."

"Dean seems to think he'll keep hunting."

His king nodded.  "They'll handle that fight.  Anything else?"

"Their director is causing problems.  Anything we can do to help with that?"

"I've passed it back to the ones in the CIA."

"Thank you.  Anything else or can I get back to the smuggling ring on my desk?"

"Go for it.  I'll call if we need you this weekend."

"My team has call.  Take Charlie, the college has a formal dance."  He disappeared, coming out of the special closet at work.  He straightened himself out, hiding his ears again on his way to the desk.

"That was a long bathroom break," Megan complained.  "Need some medicine, Don?  I have some in my drawer."

"I got caught up with a call from someone asking for help in another agency."  He sat down.  "Charlie might be gone this weekend."

David looked over, then flicked his ear.  Don nodded. "Things all right?" David asked.  In case he had to tell someone like Granger, who knew but didn't *know*.

"Fine.  Just a call for assistance.  Anything on the NCIS director going spastic?"

"She called our boss looking for Charlie," Megan said dryly.  Don moaned, sending Charlie an email.  Then he sent one to his Lord and Master's email account.  He could handle her better since he was stationed on that coast.  Then he got back to work on the smuggling case.  "Did we find anything new?"

"Colby isn't back yet," David said.  "He's still changing the flat tire."

"That's fine."  He got back to work.  He could worry about insane directors later on.


Jethro stepped out of the portal with Tony behind him.  "Thanks, Charlie."

"Welcome," he said.  He pulled Tony further out so he could close it.  "No heir?"

"Abby nearly got mobbed by people who want to marry her.  She's hiding.  Danny and Don are watching a basketball game with some of the kids in town."

"That's cool," he said, waving a hand.  "This way if you don't mind."  He handed the bags off before walking them off.  He nodded at the herald.

"Overlord Jethro and his first spouse, Tony."

"Senior agent," Tony corrected.  "We can't be together at NCIS."

"Especially not with your director," Fornell agreed.  "What a bitch."

Gibbs nodded.  "She can be."  He walked in, shaking his hand.  "How's DC?"

"Calm.  No cowering coffee shop boys or girls.  Not too many bad cases.  McGee is sweating.  Kate's back from injury leave.  The new girl is a pain in the ass, Jethro."

"Uncle Jethro!" Fornell's daughter yelled, coming out to pounce him.  "Hi!"

"Hi, sweetheart."  He grinned.  "Are you having a good day?"

"Of course I am."  She walked him off by the wrist.  "Come see my new horse."

"Sure, Emily," Fornell said, smiling at her.  "She's a joy to my life."

"Abby started to call me mom."  Fornell smirked at him.  "How bad is she?"

"She's going to invade somewhere soon."

"We'll be going back in two weeks."

"I'll spread that around.  That you're on the arrest and report portion of the case."  Tony grinned.  "Want to see the horses?"

"Sure."  He followed him, smiling at the horse Emily was petting.  "She's a huge horse, Emily."

She spit at him.  "Manners," Fornell ordered.

"Yes, daddy.  Sorry, Aunt Tony."  Tony groaned, shaking his head.

Gibbs smirked.  "How's Kate handling being in command?"

"The new director won't let her.  She put them on cold cases."

"That'll end when we get back."

"You might want to have a good excuse waiting."

"I'll let DiNozzo make one up."  He petted the horse's nose.  "She's pretty, Emily."  She beamed at him, taking him to look at the horses they had at the castle.

Tony looked at the king of the FBI fairies.  "What has she decided we're doing?"

"It's all speculation outside of it being case related."

"That'll work. I can make up something even Kate'll believe."  He followed.  He liked horses.  Fornell smirked at his back but walked of too.  "Fornell, what's for dinner?" he called as he walked.

"Food.  Feel lucky it's not honey dust and worms."

Tony looked back at him.  "The boss didn't like honey dust when I sent him some."  Fornell gaped.  Tony headed into the barn too.  The horses loved him.


Dean and Xander looked at each other.  "I'm going back to Sunnydale.  Where are you guys heading?"

"Probably the midwest.  We tend to stay that way.  We'll be in Sunnydale as soon as we can.  I've got your cell number and I'll be calling."

Xander smiled.  "Sure.  We go on patrol most every night."

Dean nodded.  "I can understand that.  What about living quarters?"

"If I have to, I'll go rob vamps for motel money."  He took a kiss.  "Be safe.  No getting banged up."

"You either.  Or getting vamped."  He took a hard, fast kiss then backed up.  "Be safe."

"You too."  They headed through the different mirrors.  Xander stepped out into Sunnydale at night.  Faith followed after a short screaming match.  "You good?"

"His father just found out he's going to college."

"It'll work itself out," he reminded her.  "If worst comes to worse, the elves have a branch of Oxford and Stanford."

"He's full ride, Xan.  Wants to hit law school."

"Good for him.  Plenty of us probably need one."  She grinned.  "C'mon, let's see where I'm parking my ass tonight."

"Sure.  Library?"

"That'll work."  They walked off, their weapons hidden on them.  They ran into Angel first.  "Hey," Xander said, startling him.  "Morning."

"For him," Faith agreed.

Angel gaped.  "Where were you?"

"In the realm our clan runs.  Buffy didn't tell you?"

"No."  He sniffed.  "Demons?"

"Yeah.  They had us reborn so they could hunt us down."  He put his arm around Faith's shoulders.  "We used to be twins."

Angel shuddered.  "I don't want that sort of thought."

"B and Red?" Faith asked.  "Or Tweedy?"

"Library.  They're heading for patrol soon."  They nodded, walking that way.  He watched, following as stealthily as he could.  He saw a few demons see them and run.  One bowed then ran.  He was confused but Buffy would tell him when he asked.

"Angel, you're scaring them," Xander called back without looking back.  "How're we supposed to stake vamps with you scaring them?"

"It's not me, Harris."

"Apparently we're Taylors," Faith said with a smirk for Xander.

"Works for me."  They saw the school and paused then walked in through the hidden door in the library.  "We're back!"

Giles jumped, looking at them.  "Xander!  Faith!"  He ran up to hug them both.  "Are you both all right?"

"We're good," Faith assured him.  "B, Red, Cheerleader."

"What are you wearing?" Cordelia demanded in a near whine.

Xander looked at himself then at her.  "What?  It fits, it's coordinated, it's comfortable for hunting."

"The wristbands are gay," she said dryly.

He kissed her on the head.  "You should meet Dean.  He's a demon hunter and a wonderful man."

She gaped.  "Uh-uh."  She shook her head.  "Okay, so, we're gay now?"

"Apparently we were in our last life.  We got sent here so they could hunt us down."

"Oh," she said weakly.  "I need some processing time."

"Sure, have it, see us tomorrow," Xander teased.  "I've got to decide about school or not."

"The principal is *way* against you coming back."

"He can blow me," Xander told her.  He looked at Giles.  "What are we doing?"

"We're doing what we can, Xander.  It's nearly Easter."

"Cordy, who's speaking at grad?"

"The mayor."

"Do we have the plans yet?"

"One week."

He looked at her.  "Where?"


Xander sketched it out then handed it to her.  "Arrange it that way if you can."  She nodded, tucking it into her purse.  He kissed her on the head.  "Wanna go talk?"

"Need to talk about Dean?"

"Well, he is a furnace at night when he lets me cuddle."  She squeaked.  He grinned.  "Ask them, he's cute."

"He's very cute, and so is Sam," Buffy agreed.  "Faith's lucky.  Sam's a great guy with a huge brain.  Huger than Oz's.  He's a gigantically tall, sweet guy who makes her squeal really loudly."

"Without dropping his drawers," Faith said.  Cordelia gaped.  "Dean's his big brother."

"We should talk.  I need to meet this guy," Cordelia decided.  "At least you dumped me for a good reason."  She gathered her things so they could talk in the school's lounge.  Xander got them both sodas and settled in on one of the uncomfortable couches with her.


Dean stepped out and looked at his father.  "If you're going to fight, I'm staying out of it."  He walked off, going to pet the car.  "We missed you, baby.  You look good."

John stared at his son.  "We hunt.  You hunt up there."

"I want a bit of normal and I can back Faith up while she hunts.  A Watcher researches for her.  I can do both."

"This is not the Winchester way."

"It's the Sam Winchester way."  He stared at him.  "I'm sorry if you're disappointed, but it's my life, Dad."

"You walk off and you don't come back."

Sam stared at him.  "Then I'm sorry you're losing me.  That's your choice."  He grabbed his bags and walked off.  Faith would put him up.  He could go back to the town he was finishing high school in then go to Stanford.  With a stop in Sunnydale.

"Sammy," Dean said.

"Write if you want, Dean.  Call if you want.  That's up to you and Dad.  I'm doing what's best for me.  I'll make sure Faith never has to steal anything ever again when she needs it."  He hiked off to the bus station.

Dean glared at his father.  "Are you really kicking him out of the family for planning how to support his future wife?  Would Mom like that?  He's trying to do the honorable thing."

John groaned.  "We need to get that demon."

"You know what?  If the demon doesn't know that we're *that* Dean and Sam, he will be soon and he'd better be damned scared.  Faith and Xander both said they'd help.  If a slayer can't get a demon, it can't be gotten."

John nodded.  "I can see that, but he's throwing us away."

Dean glared at him.  "Who told him to leave?  Sam's just like you, Dad.  You're both too stubborn for your own damn good.  Now, go get my brother before he's kidnaped and Faith has to come save him.  They don't need the distraction right now."

John took the keys out and headed to find Sam.  His son wasn't on the road on the way there so he waited at the bus station for him.  It gave him a long time to think about his stubbornness and what was best for his younger son's destiny and life.  He was all but married to Faith, had a family of his own to take care of now.  That had to be handled because no man left his family.  Especially not a Winchester.  When he got there he moved into the light.  "Son, can we talk?"

"It won't change my mind.  I've got a full ride scholarship.  I'll be setting up a place for me and Faith.  I won't make her steal anything ever again so she has what she needs."

"I respect that, son.  She'll still need you to hunt with her.  That's not the normal life you think you want, Sam.  That's still some hunting."

"It'll be more research and helping her up there.  We can pick a town and set down roots, Dad.   Have a real place where we don't have to pack and move every few weeks."

John nodded.  "I understand that, son."

"I don't even get why you two hunt, Dad."

"Because they killed your mother."

"I don't remember Mom."  He moved closer.  "I've never been the hunter Dean has been.  I never will be.  I'm not Dean Junior, Dad."

John nodded.  "I agree.  You're not Dean.  You're not the motivated hunter Dean and I are."

"You've pushed me to be that way for years."

"I'm sorry, Sammy."

Sam nodded.  "Thank you.  I'm still going to Stanford."

"Is Faith going to join you?"

"After grad.  I only have some final exams then I might be heading that way.  It's only a few hours away."  John dug out a set of keys.  "What's this to?"

"Xander's car.  Ducky gave them to me so I could put it into storage."

"That could help."

"You'll call?"

"If you want me to."

"Dean and I would like that."

"Dean's going to end up with Xander and sometime they'll want to retire too."

"Xander will go up to guard the court.  He'll teach future generations."  He moved closer, clapping Sam's shoulder.  "Be safe, son."

"Thanks, Dad."  He gave him a hug.  "Where's the car?"

"Storage place on the east side of town.  I'll give you a ride."  Sam nodded, taking his bags to the Impala.  John dropped him off.  His license was in the glove box.  So were a few fake ID's.  He took them with a wave, getting a nod.  John pointed so he got out and took his stuff to Xander's car.  It could only help him get to Sunnydale in time for graduation.

John watched his younger son go.  He was going to be depressed about this soon.  He went to pick up Dean, letting him pet the car for a few minutes.  Maybe it was time he gave the Impala to Dean and moved on a little bit.  It was Dean's home.  "He has Xander's car."

"That could help."

"He'll be heading out for graduation."

"So am I if we can.  They'll need us."

"If we can," John agreed, heading for the motel.  Dean needed to shower off someone's aftershave.  "Who stunk you up?"


"She smells good then."  Dean snorted.  "She does, just a bit strong."  Dean rolled down the window.  John did too.  It was better if the car didn't smell like Stella.


Horatio walked into his office and put his sunglasses down on his desk.  He felt someone behind him.  "Rick.  How was Miami?"

"Where were you?" he demanded.

Horatio looked at him.  "On a case."

"I'm sure.  Some strange, young guy shows up on a scene and you take off?"

"He is related to a friend and needed help with a very bad situation that included a minor slavery ring and a lack of justice for many people."

"That isn't good enough."

Speed walked in.  "Last time I knew you weren't the police commissioner, Stetler.  He knew where we were.  If you didn't, you didn't need to know."  Stetler glared at him.  "You're not in charge of us taking leave time.  Get out of the lab."

"I will find out," he warned.  He stomped off.

"Can we sic Xander on him?" Speed joked.

Horatio smirked.  "Don't tempt me."  Speed laughed.  "How were things after you got back?"

"Eric was going nuts.  Calleigh is trying to figure out what was going on but oh well.  The commissioner asked me what was going on up there.  I gave him a good sit rep.  He thinks the twins sound neat."

"They are.  Very protective too."  He smiled.  "Let us go reassure some of the people in the lab.  I'll call him soon."

"He said he'd see you the day you got back."  Horatio nodded.  They walked down there together.   "Should I announce you?"

"I don't need a herald, Speed.  Pity the realm if I do."  Speed nodded, giggling.

Eric looked out.  "H!"  He ran out to check him over.  "What happened?"

"We had to handle a very bad situation, Eric.  I had to go.  I'm sorry I worried you and Calleigh."

"It wasn't just us.  Calleigh!" he yelled, paging her at the same time.  She came out of her lab with a yawn.  "Look who's back."

"Horatio."  She gave him a smile and a hug.  "Is it solved?"

"I'll need to check in now and then but probably not a long trip like that one was."  He gave her a squeeze before letting her go.  "How was the lab?"

"Good," Calleigh said.  She pinched him on the cheek.  "Does Alexx know you're back?"

"Yup," Speed said.

"Good."  The commissioner walked in.  "He's back."

"I can see that.  May I, Officers?"  They let him walk Horatio off.  "It's settled?"

"We've got portals set up and a rotating schedule of how to handle bigger problems," he said quietly.  "It is mostly running like it used to.  The gardens still need work.  Xander had to come back for an apocalypse."


"Harris, out of Sunnydale."  He shuddered.  "One of the twins.  Faith is the other and a slayer."

"Wonderful."  He looked at him.  "The director at NCIS is trying to start trouble."

"Tony was in a bad mood and asked Faith about things that might eat her."  His boss laughed.  "I do have a problem with Rick Stetler coming in and demanding to know where I was."

"The cover story holds, Horatio.  You needed to be there.  Let me know personally if you have to leave again."

"I was surprised that our cellphones and email work up there, sir."

"That is amusing."

"There's a good service that would include the realm so I'm not roaming."

"Good."  He patted him on the arm.  "Let me know if you need more time."

"I will."


"Might I convince you to hire another level one?"

"You just got one.  Speedle picked him.  He's a bit uptight but he's been worn down some so far."  He smirked.  "I'll talk with Stetler."  He left, going to talk to the Internal Affairs officer.

Horatio looked at them.  "If I had food I'd offer dinner so I could meet my new CSI."

"You have food, H.  Alexx and I stocked your pantry."

"We can pick up food on the way," Eric said.  "Did you bring back pictures?"

"Not really.  I didn't have a lot of free time.  We did have to do some cleaning duties and a few hours in the garden pulling dangerous plants.  One tried to eat me."  Calleigh gaped.  He smirked.  "Fine, we'll have dinner.  Get my new tech there."  They nodded.  "I'll see you in a few hours.  Let me scare Yelina and Frank."  He went to get his sunglasses then to find them.  He found Frank and Yelina at their desks.  He leaned on the barrier to Frank's cubicle.  "Frank."

Frank's head popped up.  "Horatio?"   He nodded.  "When did you get back?"

"Thirty minutes ago.  We're having dinner tonight at my place so I can meet my new tech."  He let Yelina hug him.  "I may have to go now and then but not for good."  He smirked at Frank.  "You missed the plant that not even bullets would kill when it tried to eat us."

"Wonderful.  Glad I did."  He smiled.  "When?"

"Within an hour?"

"I can be there.  It'll save me from some paperwork on my last case for the night."

Yelina smiled.  "Are you all right?"

"We're fine."  He smiled at her.  "Come for dinner, Yelina.  Bring my nephew."  He smoothed her hair down.  She let him go, going back to her desk.  "I'll see you then."  He left, going to check his voicemail.  Mac had the first week of call but some people liked to talk to him more than Mac.  They thought him too stiff.  Now he had to get through dinner with the lab and detectives they favored while not answering too many questions.


Jethro walked into the NCIS office, Abby and Tony behind him.  "Director in?" he asked as he ran his pass through the metal detector.

"In her office as far as I know, Special Agent Gibbs."

Gibbs nodded.  "Thanks."  He headed up in the elevator.  Abby and Tony got on with him.  "Ready for this?"

"No," Abby said. "But I'll manage."

"Me too, boss.  And hey, we can go work for Fornell.  It'll please him to no end."

"Maybe not," Abby said. "But it'd be fun."  They got off on the director's floor and walked in.  "Hi, Cynthia."

"Abby, Tony, and Agent Gibbs."  The director flung her door open.  "I don't even have to announce you.  Go ahead."

Jethro walked in and headed for the coffee maker.  "Jen."

"Jethro.  Where were you?"

"On a classified case," he said.  He turned to look at her.  "They did thank you for letting us go."


"I can't tell you that, Jen."

"You can and will or I can fire you."

"Then do it."  He sipped the coffee he had poached.  "They needed us.  They asked for us."

"Who was the man you met that night you left?"

"Xander.  He's the son of a friend.  Another Marine.  He was the messenger."

"He's a neat guy," Abby said.  "Very cute and nice.  Unless you threaten him then he turns into a bastard worse than Gibbs."

"He can be," Tony said.  The director glared at him.  "I have the feeling his twin is just as bad when she needs to be."

"How did you meet this person?" she demanded.

"His father's a friend.  He found a case that needed to be handled quietly and with competence.  It was bad enough that we ended up bringing down a pseudo ruler that was imprisoning people for no reason."

She looked at them.  "Were Marines or Sailors involved?"

"Some."  That reminded him he had to finish setting up the future military goals along the lines of the Marines he had trained with.


"Running a resistance," Jethro said.  She growled.  "It was necessary.  There were over eighty people in the prisons that weren't supposed to be there.  It was a dictator who did it.  They needed help to not only get their people free but to set the original rulers back to protect the people.  Others asked us to help them and the higher ups in other agencies did know.  They agreed it was necessary once they heard."  He took a drink.  Abby gave him a begging look.  "We'll get you a caf-pow in a minute."

"You're not to leave this office again.  Or else you will not have a job to come back to."

"That's going to be hard for cases," Tony said.

"Who said you still have one?" she sneered.  "I've heard you were insinuating yourself into a space no one wanted you to sit in."

"No, I'm Gibbs' senior agent, Director.  As I have been for years.  I was right where Gibbs wanted me."  Gibbs looked at him.  "Wasn't I?"

"Except for that parade they threw."

"I was hiding.  They thought I was the wife."  He smirked at her.

"But you're a good mom," Abby teased.

"Kids," Gibbs said patiently.

"Yes, boss," they said in unison.

The director glared.  "That is not a cute comedy routine.  Stop it."  She glared at Jethro.  "I want reports."

"It's classified.  I was told you couldn't have any."

"I will."

"Take that up with the SecNav," Tony said.  "He agreed with the directors who said we couldn't, ma'am."  He pulled out a letter, handing it over.  "He said if you got insistent to hand that to you."  Dean had done an excellent job forging it and Gibbs had an old letter from him on the right stationery.  A bit of a copying job and it was good.

She ripped it open, reading it.  It was on the right stationery.  It was signed with the right style of loopy handwriting.  She glared at them.  "Report to your desks."  They left.  "Do not leave the office today."

"We can send McGee for coffee," Tony agreed.  He glanced at Gibbs as they walked down the stairs.  He saw all the people staring their way.  "Yes, we're back from that case," he called.  McGee's head popped up and he grinned.  "Kate.  Probie."  He looked at the person at his desk, moving to eject her from his seat.  "Thank you."  He sat down.  "Do we have a  current case?"

"Cold case detail," Kate said.  "You're not tanned."

"I only got out into the garden a few times after the plants tried to eat us."  She stared.  He grinned.  "They did.  There were some eggs from some cannibal fish too."

"I got offered six peppercorn plants to marry someone's son," Abby told her.  Kate shook her head quickly.  "He was sweet but a bit young."

"Barely hatched," Tony said dryly.  Gibbs looked at him.  "He was."

"Hatched instead of born?" McGee asked.  Tony nodded.  "Gremlin?" he asked with a grin.

"No, I met a few of those.  This one was nice but clueless."

"Good to know," Kate said, staring at him.  "Where were you?"

"Classified," Tony said.  She huffed.  "Sorry.  By the way, we can't get out today."

"I'll make sure someone can get you coffee and her caffeine too," Kate said.  She sent something to Tony's computer.  "Find that for me?"

He looked then looked at the case file, then up at her.  "We already found that."  She groaned, coming over to look.  "I remember that case.  This wasn't cold.  Boss?"  He came over to look.

"We put three people away in that theft ring," he agreed.

Kate looked at him.  "Then why is it listed as cold?"

"I have no idea.  Did you pull the original file?"  She waved it. "Is it not in there?"

"No.  No trial outcome report at all."  She let him see it.  He grimaced and looked at the other cases.  She sat down to search for trials on them.  One had a deadlocked jury but most of the rest had been solved.  "Who would misclassify things?"

Tony looked at her.  "Who assigned you to cold cases and gave you the cases, Kate?  It can only be them or someone they're taking orders from."

"I'll wring her neck," she muttered.  Ziva looked alarmed.  "She had you going over old, solved cases maybe?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

"Well, she clearly did.  McGee?  Please deliver these back with my compliments."  She handed him the stack.  "Make me do a lot of unnecessary work," she complained quietly while he went up the stairs.  "We did solve one.  There was a suicide note from the killer with a confession.  It was never logged in and closed out."

"Those cases are generally cold for a reason.  Did you ask whoever filled in for Abby?"

"Hell no.  I wouldn't go down there to talk to the slimy little pissant for any reason, Gibbs.  If I get leered at one more time I'm going to smack his head off."

"Painkillers good, Kate?" Tony asked.


He grinned.  "You've also clearly got PMS?"

She growled.  "I do not."

"Then quit barking louder than Gibbs.  Let him go smack the toad in the lab since Abby just knocked him out and tossed him into the morgue for Palmer to practice on.  A guard IM'd, boss."

Gibbs went down to check on Abby.  "You okay?"

"He comes back and he won't be," she said firmly.

"What did he do?"

"He pinched my butt, Gibbs!  That is not allowed!  I'm not into his type or species!  Obviously the man has never had anything but retarded blow up dolls because the regular ones are too smart for him!"

"Calm down."

"No!"  The director stomped in.  "That little brat you put in my lab just pinched me on the ass."  She stopped and stared.  "If the man can't take 'no, I prefer men who have brains' when he tried to hit on me the first three times, he clearly isn't smart enough to work in a lab and run it.   If I see him again I'm going to file a harassment claim against the agency and him."  The director took a step back.  "Let Palmer practice on him.  At least he'll have some use for humanity."  She handed over a stack of files.  "These were all done wrong by the way."  She turned and went back to work correcting the problems he had created.

"If you hadn't disappeared...."

Abby turned to glare at her.  "You'd rather let raping bastards go free?"  She shook her head.  "They needed me there.  I was not the only forensic person who responded to the request.  Any *competent* lab tech could've filled in.  He still ran a semen sample from a rape kit as a strange substance with gunshot residue and ran it through the mass spectrometer.  Palmer kills him or I do.  And if I can't, I know someone who can."

"I'll discuss his attitude with him."

"He comes back in here and they can tell his grieving blow up doll why he was emasculated," she shot back.  The dweeb tried to come back but Abby grabbed a scalpel off her work table.  He screamed like a girl and ran while Gibbs held Abby back.

"No woman in NCIS deserves to be this harassed, Director.  Clearly you didn't hire him for his brains."  He walked Abby into the office.  "Calm down.  Just calm down."


"Try, Abs, please?"  She huffed and went back to work.  He followed.  "Director, I think you have bigger problems to handle than watching our award winning forensic scientist work."  She stomped off.  Palmer leaned in.  "Who revived him?"

"Doctor Mallard wanted to know what he did."

Abby turned so fast her pigtails bounced against her forehead.  "He pinched me on the butt."

Palmer grimaced.  "How very sixth grade."

"This was after I told him I wasn't interested *three* times, Palmer."

"Ooh.  Yeah, Darwin award nominee."

"I'm not even sure if the retarded blow up dolls would have him.  Maybe he had to get the ones that're deflating from too much abuse, in a blow up doll coma, to play with."

He grinned. "I like that, I'll have to use that some day.  Are you all right?  Need Doctor Mallard?  Did he hurt you?"

"Hell no.  That's why I knocked him out."

"Okay.  Call if you need us, Abby."  He left.  "Doctor Mallard, she told him no three times and then he pinched her on the behind."

"How very stupid that young man was," Ducky sighed, shaking his head.  "Clearly he has emotional issues and mental problems."

"She drove him off with a scalpel.  I wasn't about to step in there when she grabbed it.  Agent Gibbs stopped her from stabbing him and the director for hiring him."

"Charming of her.  We do need to get her a proper knife again."  He went back to reading his journal.  "See if you can help her, Jimmy.  The reports I have look to be misrun in many interesting ways."

"Yes, Doctor Mallard."  He went back.  "Can I help you with anything, Abby?  I know I'm not great like you are, but I can prep slides and things."

She kissed him on the cheek.  "You're sweet.  It's going to take days though.  He ran a rape kit sample as GSR through the mass spec."  He shuddered.  "Exactly.  It's going to take *days* to correct that."

"Let me help where I can.  That way you don't have to sleep in here tonight.  Three months and the lab went to hell without you, Abby.  We missed you."

"Awww, I missed you too.  You and Ducky's mom would've loved the garden.  It had all sorts of spiny, strange plants and some that wanted to eat us."  He grinned.  "Okay, I need you to prep those three as small samples in little bottles.  That's slice off a small piece and stick it in with some saline solution.  Can you do that?  He clearly couldn't."

"I can try."  She smiled and pointed.  "Do any need to be shaken or anything?"

"Two do.  I can do that before they go in."  He nodded, getting to work on what she ordered him to do.  "Thank you, Gibbs."

"Let me go shoot him.  Want McGee to help?  We found a lot of solved cases in the cold case filing cabinet."

"I don't know if I have much he can help with.  Give these team leaders the bad news?" she asked, printing out a list.  Then she moved to get her own samples started.

"I can do that."  Gibbs went back up to the floor, going to each one of them to gather them together.  "Abby's back."  They all smiled.  "The guy misran a lot of samples."  That got a few frowns.  "He also pinched Abby on the butt.  She's not happy but Palmer's helping her at the moment.  She's going over all the results from while we were gone.  If you had some, she said it's going to be a few days."

They all nodded.  "Better to be late than wrong," one said.

"Someone get her a caf-pow since the director grounded us to the building?"  One nodded he'd do it.  "Watch out for the little brat too.  If he shows back up, she's promised to make someone at his funeral talk about his missing chunks and she does have scalpels.  She knocked him out and gave him to Palmer to practice on after he pinched her."

"That might be a good use for the stupid brat," another one admitted.  "He ran phlegm as an organic substance when we knew what it was.  It was green and chunky, the guy had pneumonia.  What else could it have been?"  They all grimaced.  "Sorry."

"Abby said he ran a rape kit sample as GSR," he said quietly.

"That's my case," the first one said.  Gibbs handed over the list.  "Ah, all three of my open ones.  I'll make sure she gets a caf-pow and you guys get coffee.  Are you taking field calls today?"

"She said we can't leave the office," Jethro said dryly.  They all laughed.  "Thanks."  That got a nod.  "DiNozzo is back too."  He walked over there.  "Abby is fine and calmer."

"Can I go cut him, boss?" Kate asked.

"Her first, then Palmer if she wants to donate him to science."  He sat down.  "How many cold cases are left?"  She held up the four folders.  "Not a lot, we do good work."  He took one.  Tony waved his at the look he got.  "Which one is that?"

"Cassidy's last case, boss," he said quietly.

"Anything I should know?"

"No, she covered all the obvious bases.  Looks like a revenge murder to me right off the top of my head."  He got to work checking some facts.  She was good but he was better at investigations.

Gibbs smiled, getting back to work on his own cold case.  Starting with if it already had an outcome.

The director stomped their way.  "Why did you hand back those cases?"

"They were already solved," Kate told her.  "Clearly misfiled, Director."  She got back to work.  "I don't know who misfiled but they weren't our cases."

Tony stood up and walked off.  "Be back, boss, checking on a fact down in personnel."

"You can't use the computer?" he called after him.

"It claims it ate his file."  He pushed the button on the elevator, heading down to personnel. He walked in with the casefile, putting it on the desk in front of someone.  "The system says it ate him."

"The system went down last night, Agent DiNozzo.  Is Gibbs back?"

"All three of us are back and Abby already smacked the little bastard in her lab for pinching her."  She winced.  "Gave him to Palmer to practice on."  That got a hiss and a wince.  "Exactly.  Do we have a paper file on him?"

She looked then into the filing cabinets, handing it over.  "Why is he in the cold cases?"

"No idea," he admitted.  "Thank you.  We're grounded to the building today if anyone needs Gibbs."

She leaned closer.  "I know who you both are," she said quietly.  He grinned.  "Can't he do what he does there to her?"

"Don't tempt us to call Xander," he muttered back, cracking her up.  He grinned, heading back upstairs.  He put the file in front of his boss then the personnel file.  Gibbs looked then at him.  "Yeah, he was an agent who's still employed.  How is he still employed if he's dead?"  He smirked.  "The agent who took over her case when she died is an idiot."

"I don't know," he said, looking it over.  This file made *no* sense.  He went to find the agent to smack him around.  "Probie," he said when he found him.  The guy's head popped up.  "Why is there a currently open case file of yours listed as a cold case with an agent who it appears may still be alive being listed as dead?"

"He is dead."  Gibbs put down the personnel file.  "Um....  And?"

Gibbs took a calming breath.  Xander had taught him that before he yelled.  It meant he could yell for longer.  "It is protocol to report the death of an agent to not only the director but also to her secretary or to Personnel personally to make sure mistakes like this do not happen," he snarled.  "His family doesn't need to fight with them when they demand back whatever paychecks they sent out by accident or to go to jail for it."

"Gibbs, please ease off my idiot," the team leader said impatiently.  He handed him the file.  "Last time I knew this was an open case."

"It showed up in the cold case stack Kate got handed.  Along with a lot of solved ones."  He handed over the personnel file.  "That could help since DiNozzo already solved it for you."  He walked off again.

The team leader went over protocol with his people again.  They clearly needed it.  Before they all got chewed a new one by Gibbs.  It was nice to have things back to normal again.

Gibbs sat back down.  "They're taking back their open case."

"That's nice.  They should have a lot of fun arresting his girlfriend," Tony agreed.  "By the way, boss.  Someone in personnel wanted to know if Xander was still single."

"Nope.  We like him better that way with what I heard about his exes.  Now all they need to do is figure out how to make Dean stay in one spot to work with him."

"Sam's going to Stanford this fall.  Full ride."  Gibbs gave him an odd look.  "That's what the fight was over.  John wanted him to stay and hunt, get that one that killed their mom.  Sam got a full ride to Stanford.  Which is pretty impressive considering he went to nine high schools."

"It's very impressive even without that," Kate said while reading.  "With that it's nearly phenomenal."

Gibbs nodded.  "That's very good for him.  Is Faith following?"

"We think so.  He'll do research duties for her and back her up as needed."

"Excellent news.  I'll write him later."  He went back to the case file that had landed on his desk.  He went to hand it back with a printout of the resulting trial.  He put that down on top of it.  "That form tells you what happened at the trial.  That means it's solved and closed unless new evidence has come up and that one doesn't say it did, Director."  He walked off again.  "Did we solve our last one?"

"Yes, boss," McGee said.  "Two days after you left."


"The housekeeper."

"Almost a cliche," Tony quipped.

"She was only a weekly maid," McGee said.  "She didn't expect him to come in and slip on the floor wax."

Gibbs shook his head.  "At least it was solved."

"They decided not to prosecute her since it was an accident but she's going back to school so she can change professions," Kate told him.  Ziva looked at her.  "The last case before they left and you got here."

"I see.  How long did that one take you to solve?"

"An extra two days to get all the lab reports back," she said, glaring at Gibbs.

"Don't even start," he ordered without looking up.  "It was important."

"Can you say more than that?"

"No," Tony said.  "We can't.  And if you keep trying we get to torment you by meeting some of the people we worked with."  He looked up with a grin.  "That way you can be driven nuts."

"No thanks."  She went back to her case.  She could see a problem in what had been looked at so far.  "Why didn't they look at the husband?" she muttered.  Gibbs looked at her.  "Didn't even interview the husband when she died at home."  She handed it over, getting to work on finding the husband to interview.  Especially when the wife was killed at home, the security system had been turned off by the code being punched in, and he had been in town.  Gibbs handed it back with a head shake.  "Let me find him.  I'll get you guys coffee on the way back."  She finally found him in the post office system and it was good.  She left to talk to him.

Tony looked at McGee, the new girl settling in at the spare desk, then at the boss.  "How long before things get back to normal?"

"Don't know, DiNozzo, but no rate my butt sights today.  She's probably watching your computer."

"I'm catching up on my professional correspondence since there's no other cases."

"You can have mine.  I can see why it went cold for a year," McGee complained.

Tony came over to look, then pointed.  "We can't call that ship?"

"They claimed they couldn't find him."

"How can they not find him?"

"No clue," McGee admitted.  "That's a quote from the skipper."  Gibbs shook his head.  "He's supposed to contact me once they find him or his body."  Gibbs looked over.  "He's lost on a carrier, boss."

"Interesting.  How long has it been?"

"Four days but they're in the strait beside Saudi at the moment on joint exercises.  He said it might delay it by a day but he would be finding him and at least emailing me an update by tonight."

"If not, call again."

"I will be."  He got back to work.

"This guy somehow managed to not get shore leave, boss.  Came back on a two week liberty and shipped out again the next weekend by request.  The note in the file said he and his spouse had a devastating fight.  Ship commander gave him a sympathy pat and let him transfer with a recommendation."  Gibbs shook his head.  "Two days after he shipped out again, she was found dead for five days Ducky thought."

"That's probably a sign we needed to talk to him."

"The file says they tried but he was evasive and they couldn't get him back from an active combat zone," McGee said.  Gibbs just nodded at that.  "I found a transfer request for him to go to another ship that just got stationed over there from his present one.  Ship-to-ship transfer after the exercise."

"Did we call the second ship?"

"I did, they said he hadn't reported for duty yet, boss," McGee said.

"Nag later if you don't hear anything by fourteen hundred."  McGee nodded, getting back to work.  "DiNozzo, professional correspondence?"

"JAG left a few emails that got forwarded to Kate.  There's a hearing coming up on the murder case we got two weeks before we left.  A few other things."  That got another nod.  "Want me to make a chart?"

"Please."  Tony sat down to do that for them.  He looked it over.  "Why are they bunching up that way?"

"They had a backlog.  Three new judges got promoted last month," McGee said while he typed.  "We spent most of last week testifying somewhere."

"Probie, check bank accounts on him," Tony said.  "If he deserted, he's got to have money somewhere."

He nodded, getting into another window to do that. "He has a money market account in Japan that some of his check diverts to each payday," he said a few minutes later.  Gibbs smirked.  "So transfer to this ship, then transfer over that way when his hitch is up in another year?"

"Could be," Gibbs agreed.  "Lots of sailors have traveled that way to leave the country."

"Huh.  I never thought about that."

"They can do your exit interview anywhere," Tony agreed.  "You get assigned to a base where you want to end up.  It lets you find a place easier and move easier.  No cross-country hauls.  Japan's a pretty country.  Does he have other ties?"

"His record indicates he was taking lessons in Japanese," McGee said a minute later.  "He was using some of our on-board education to get credits in it."  Gibbs nodded.  "Looks like they have a destination."

"Are there any withdrawals in that account?" Gibbs asked.

"No, only fees.  It's not a very good account.  He pays monthly maintenance fees."

"Have the base there look out for him to run," Tony offered.  "If he deserted he'll be heading for his backup spot."  That got a nod and he found the office out there's email, sending them an FYI with a case summary plus what they knew of why he might be heading that way.  Thorough and they could call if they found him.  They all looked up at the scream from the director's office.  Gibbs hopped up to run up there. Tony was right behind him with his gun.  Tony looked at the animal menacing her.  "Nice kitty," he said calmly, moving closer.  "Nice, good hellkitty."  He let it sniff at him.  "Nice kitty.  Don't eat her; she'll taste funny."

It sniffed him then Gibbs, then Tony again.  It headbutted Tony's hand, getting an ear scratch.  "Good cat," Jethro said, calling someone's cellphone.  "Any idea about the three foot black and reddish-orange cat that wanted to eat the director?"  He smirked.  "Please.  Tony's petting it."  He hung up.  "He'll call someone to come get their pet."

"It just appeared!" she shouted.

"Calm down, Director.  If you're not calm, the cat will react to it," Tony ordered calmly.  "Like any wild animal or housecat.  Such a good hellkitty.  Yes you are.  You tracked her very well."  It lapped him up the cheek then went to sniff Gibbs.  He scratched it.  The cat went to sniff Cynthia until it found the coffepot.  That it tipped over so it could lick it up.

"Um, should I give it creamer?" she called.

"No," Gibbs said.  Two suits ran in and grabbed the cat.  It growled and struggled but one stared at it until it gave in.  He looked at them.  "Did it get loose?"

"Something like that, sir.  Our boss expresses his apologies."

Jethro nodded.  "At least it didn't eat anyone."  They smirked evilly at him and he knew someone had set the cat on the director to scare her so she quit messing in things she shouldn't be dealing with.  "Thank you, boys."  They left with the cat, stopping to get it some coffee on the way out as a reward.

"It's nice it's coffee addicted," Tony said.  Gibbs smacked him on the head.  "Hey!"

"Go."  Tony went back to his desk.  "Are you all right?"

"What was that?"

"Apparently a pet."  He walked out, giving the secretary a look.  She shrugged, giving him a helpless look back.  "Ducky has some spill powder that should suck that out of the carpet.  Then you can vacuum it up."

"Thank you, Agent Gibbs."

"Welcome, Cynthia."  He went back to his desk.  He had an email waiting from Fornell about that.  He apologized but one of the other elf clans' person at the CIA had sicced the hellcat on her.  He sent back a note to be more circumspect but it had liked Tony for some reason.  Tony had nearly gotten to give it belly scratches.  Fornell sent back a very confused sounding email.  "Fornell wanted to know why the cat liked you, DiNozzo."

"My charming nature?" he suggested with a grin.  "Or Xander said we're very alike but I'm more calm."

"That could be."  He wrote back those suggestions.  Fornell sent back it had to be some girl's scent on him.  The cats liked girls.  "He agrees with Abby and whoever called you the wife last time."  Tony gave him a dirty look.  "He said they like girls more."

"All cats do but cats can get used to guys."

"Cats?" Kate asked.

"One just tried to attack the director for her coffee," Tony said.

"No wonder she screamed.  Gibbs probably would if you took his coffee too."  She shook her head.

McGee looked at them.  "The black and orange really large cat they carried out?"  Tony smirked and nodded.  "And it liked you?"

"Yeah.  Let me pet it all I wanted before it went to knock Cynthia's coffeepot over to lap up."

"That's interesting.  I've seen those online before."  Tony gave him an amused look.  Gibbs stared.  "Actually, I'm pretty sure someone caught something of the fight to free the palace you guys were at."  Gibbs growled quietly.  Kate fled like a smart woman.  Ziva got dragged by Kate because she was being kind.  "Not that I'm going to tell or anything," he said quietly.

"You see some of the damndest things online these days," Tony said.  "Cellphones work there, McGee."

"Good."  He nodded.  "Next time you go up to do battle with the evil garden, I'll call."  Gibbs went back to glaring so he sent him an IM with the videos he had found.  None specifically showed Tony or Gibbs but on one you could hear Tony's voice and you caught a side-view of Gibbs on the other two.  "Do we need IT help up there?"

"We're working on that," Tony admitted.  "The local library has email but I'm not sure how."

"Okay.  Let me know?"

"You and Abby can work on it together but if you screw things up I get to feed you to plants," Gibbs told him.

"Sure, boss.  Who's the pretty girl?"

"Faith."  He walked over then froze a picture, turning the monitor around.  "That's Sam, her former mate.  Longer than average story.  Did you recognize the younger guy?"

"I recognized a few of the CSI from conventions but yes."  He stared.  "I also saw Buffy Summers in that one garden one."

"Ah, yeah.  She came up to check on Xander and Faith."

"Good to know."

"Any other nosy questions, McGee?  And how do you know?"

"Um...  Kinda had a few problems around my childhood home and I keep up with some very strange research to make sure nothing new is coming this way?  I had no idea hellcats liked coffee."

"That one belonged to another agent," Gibbs said.  "Anything else you wanted to tell us, McGee?"

"At least you're scary up there too, boss," he said with a grin.  Gibbs glared.  "I mean..."

"Save it, McGee.  Plenty of people think he's scary and everyone believes I'm his wife there.  So Abby calls me mom to pick on me."

McGee swallowed.  "That makes so much sense."  He smiled.  "If you need help, let me know.  Here or there."

"We will," Gibbs said, erasing that IM.  Tony went back to his desk.  "What do you know about Dean and Sam Winchester?"

"Not a lot.  Roaming.  Looking for one specific thing that's pretty high up.  They're kinda young but been doing it since Sam was about six months old.  There's not a whole lot known about them because their father keeps them out of the circuit as much as possible."  Tony nodded.  "Why?  Are both involved?"

"Dean used to be Xander's mate."

"That's got to be a gun'riffic conversation."  Tony grinned and nodded.  "At least they're both very protective."

"Very," Gibbs said.  "Back to work.  Kate, quit lurking and get back to work."

"I'm making sure we don't get eaten, Gibbs," she complained.  She came back with coffee for them.  "Here."  She settled in at her desk.  "Are we done with the code?"  They all nodded.  "Thank you.  Anything I should hear about just in case it comes to bite me like that cat?"

"Boss, can we introduce her to Xander?" Tony asked.

"Shut up, DiNozzo, before I tell more people you're my wife."

"But, boss, half the city already thinks I'm the wife," he shot back.  And wasn't that freaky, so many demons and other supernatural creatures in DC.  Gibbs smirked at him.  "They do."

"That's because you dress so sharply and corrected Xander's clothes too," he said bluntly.  "Plus you never stay with a woman for more than a few months."

"Not my fault they don't like the hours I pull here for you."

"Then they're secondary girlfriends to your job?" Kate taunted.

"Pretty much," he agreed, grimacing some. "Or so they think.  And yes, I did fix Xander's clothes.  He wore some ugly, loud stuff.  His email said the wrist cuffs he was using to cover up the scratches got him called gay by his ex-girlfriend Cordelia."

"She sounds like some of my exes."

"She cares, according to him, but she hides it behind the snark," Tony said.  "If she really doesn't like you she makes your life a living hell.  She's a popular cheerleader in their school."

Gibbs nodded.  "That does sound like wife number three," he sighed, shaking his head quickly.  He almost rubbed the spot she had hit him but wouldn't do that in front of them.  "Back to work."

"On what?" they asked.  He looked at them.

"My suspect husband is conveniently out of town on business for the next three weeks," Kate said.  "Airlines have him flying to Taiwan three days ago."

"My last cold case went cold because there's nothing they can find.  I even emailed Abby and she remembered the case.  She said even with new technology she couldn't find anything new.  All you had was a rose petal and a cigarette butt to add to the missing Marine."

"I hate those cases," Tony said.  "Missing and presumed dead?"

"Yeah.  They found about ten large drops of blood.  Testing on it said it had chloroform in it.  They knew he was kidnaped but there was no evidence, no ransom note, no calls, nothing.  No hidden lover he might've staged it to sneak off with so they could start over.  Absolutely nothing."

Gibbs nodded.  "Sometimes those cases happen.  Hopefully there's more evidence when they find him or his body.  Where did he go missing?  Any hints of  others?"

"I've done a search through the records to see if the club was mentioned in another case.  It was in one drunk and disorderly sailor hitting on the wrong person.  That resulted in a bar brawl. The club was closed down soon after.  The local PD there doesn't have anything but bar brawls and people being thrown out either."

"Then no leads," Gibbs said with a small sigh.  "We all hate them but they happen, McGee.  Those you keep coming back to.  The handling agent?"


"Make it yours.  Check on it now and then."  He nodded, putting it on his open case shelf before moving to make a notation in the file that he had the hard copy.  "Any other open cases?"

"Nope," Kate said.  "Though I think we need to go over how to handle a crime scene with Ziva, boss.  She's only had the one."

"Have Ducky set up one," he ordered.  She called to do that.  "Gather your gear.  We'll walk her through it."  They gathered their gear.  Ziva gathered hers.  "That includes your hat and/or coat, Officer David."  She grabbed that as well.

"Regs say you have to wear at least your hat identifying you as NCIS personnel at any active scene," McGee told her.  He followed Tony and Kate to the elevator with Gibbs.  "Think Palmer's the body?" he asked on the way down.

"He's helping Abby," Tony said.  "He probably hypothetically killed a probie that annoyed him."  They came out into a staging/bigger item exam area.  "We ready, Ducky?"

"Nearly so, boys."  He looked over.  "Ah, Officer David.  Training?"  She nodded.  "Do listen to Jethro.  He's been doing this for nineteen years."  He went back to fussing things into place.  "Here you go.  A case Abby's presently got backlogged."

"That'll work," Gibbs agreed.  "Do we have a body?"  He nodded.  "Okay.  Officer David, what do you do first?"

"Make sure the scene is secure?"

"The locals usually call us in and do that for us," Tony said.  "If we get there first, yes.  We tape off the area, make sure no one's hiding in a way that would endanger us or give us witnesses."  She nodded.  He led the way.  He paused her at the 'doorway'.  "You do not step in. There's a path and a way you do this so you do not compromise any evidence you find."

"Instead of just walking over?"

"Everyone takes the same path around an area," Kate said.  "It's dictated by the scene but there's a few standard ways.  McGee, take point."

"McGee, measure.  DiNozzo, sketch.  Kate, pictures.  Ziva, help by finding evidence once that's done.  The other things you need more training for than this."  She nodded.  He looked, stepping in after McGee.  It was a pretty standard 'body in a house' scene.

"Large blood pool," Kate said.

"Yes, it was.  He was on blood thinners as it happened," Ducky told her.  "Bled out faster and more than usual."

Tony looked.  "That's too much for one guy anyway, Ducky.  It looks like it's dried at different times too."  Ducky looked.  "Whose case?"


"Pity," Tony said, snipping samples once he had noted it on his sketch.  "This is how you properly sample a carpet," he told Ziva.  "You can cut out a patch if it has interesting stains.  Like ... boss, burn skid."  Gibbs came over to squat down and look.  "See how there's a burned-in skid mark under the dried blood?" Tony asked.  She nodded.  "That's the sort of thing we cut out to see if it has something like gunshot residue in."  He showed her how to do that properly with the ruler.  "With practice you can eyeball an inch around."  He bagged it and noted it on the bag.  "That's how you bag, then you seal it."  He tape sealed it and initialed it.

"Always.  That way if there's a question about the sample they knew who did it.  You flag things for the sketch and pictures.  I know Kate got it when I called because she's like that.  Usually you announce, flag it," he said, holding up a little number placard.  "Then you get pictures of it before you bag it."  He pointed at one.  "There's another one there."  She went to do that.  Kate showed her how to take proper pictures.  He looked around, getting down on his hands and knees with his cheek pressed against the carpet.  "We've had some snippage, boss.  It's not an even height."  He pointed.  "Shaved section there and forty degrees off to the right.  Looks round."  Gibbs looked then nodded, taking pictures of it once he had it flagged and with a ruler for measurement.  Tony noted it on the sketch.

"What are you doing?" the director yelled from the 'doorway'.  "This is someone else's scene."

"Ziva's never been on a scene, ma'am.  What better way to show her?" McGee asked.  "Instead of stumbling over one and having Tony instruct you as it's done.  This way she can practice how to take the proper short distance photos in the not very bright lights and she learns the proper methods before it comes up in a case on trial."  She glared at him.  "I had two that did, ma'am.  Once we nearly lost a murderer to my inexperience.  Gibbs had to go behind me and say he had corrected where I hadn't gathered anything."

"We need UV lights," Kate said.  "I have suspicious stains."

Tony looked over.  "Semen or blood?"

"Looks white and it soaked in.  It's a splatter pattern."  She took a measuring shot then gathered a few pieces.  "We can take a picture while the UV is exposing it," she told Ziva quietly, getting a nod.

The agent in charge came down.  "Gibbs, are you that bored?"

"Ziva David, this is Agent Diventral, who is now over the Norfolk office," Tony introduced.

"Hey, David," McGee said with a wave.  "She needed trained before she screwed up like I did."

"That's fine."

"Did anyone note the shaved areas?" Tony asked.  "Or Kate's semen samples?"

"I've got a rookie team myself, guys."

Gibbs nodded.  "We need to train them better."  He found another burn mark and did what he was supposed to.  "Was this person a smoker?  There's a lot of long burns."

"No.  No smokers, had a sign on the door about no smoking."  He leaned on a fake wall.  "Is it on the sketch?"  Tony added it then handed it over.  He stared.  "This is better than mine, DiNozzo.  Good work."  He handed it back.  "Carbon copy what you find?  I just checked with Abby and she's really backed up."

"The guy was misrunning samples," McGee said.

"Ah.  That explains why he tried to tell me this scene had a zebra hair."

"It might but he was an idiot," Gibbs told him, giving him a look.  "Like Hershal Boots last year."

The other supervisor snickered.  "Abby stab this one?"

"Nearly.  Knocked him out for Palmer to practice on."

"Good.  Let me know, guys.  Thanks.  I'll go over it with my rookies too."

"Call one of the local labs, see if they offer CSI prep classes somewhere," Tony suggested. "I know most CSI learn how to do it in classes.  There's got to be a field class we can make mandatory or steal the materials for."

"Not a bad idea," Gibbs agreed.

"I'll look into that later.  I have a great contact in one of the Federal labs."  He left, going back to his office.  He could appreciate training time that made his case go easier.

"Agent DiNozzo, why are you nuzzling the carpet?" the director asked.

"I'm checking for more shaved spots and indications of where furniture may have been moved recently, ma'am.  Standard procedure.  I can tell you someone who smelled like lavender and vanilla was laying on it."  Gibbs looked over.  "Good patch by the blood pool."

"Victim was male," Ducky told him.  "That's why I used our victim there."  He came in to do his usual checks while Ziva watched and took notes of anything he said.  He did diagnose a blood pressure problem with the probational officer but he would be thankful of that later.  He and Gibbs shared a smirk when the director left.  "It does need to be done."

"As you go, you learn which things you can leave out at some scenes.  Like the hands and knees on hardwood, linoleum, or dirt," McGee told her.  "Tony did try to make me do that once."

"I saw scratches and marks in the dirt," Tony defended with a grin for his spot of carpet. "Boss, got long, blonde  hair."  He held it up before bagging it.  "No tag at the end.  Looks like it's broken."

"Our sailor had short, red hair," Ducky said.

"At that length I wouldn't expect it on a guy," Tony told him.  He noted it on the envelope then put it into the box for evidence.  It took them two hours but Abby was not happy when he brought in the plastic box.  "From Diventral's case.  We were training Ziva with it."

"Why are you making more work for me?" she complained.

"Because you're brilliant and he knows why you're backed up.  Plus because we're grounded to the office."  He patted her on the shoulder.  "She'll learn like McGee did."  She nodded, looking in there.  "Something strange about that blood pool.  Kate's uploading the photos but I think there was more than one victim.  There was a huge blood pool."

"I heard."  She frowned.  "It'll be tomorrow."

"He knows.  We told him why."  She smiled and got back to work.  "Need anything?"

"I'm good.  Thank you, Mom."

"Welcome."  He went back up there.  "She complained a bit but I told her about the blood pool, Kate."

"I uploaded all the photos to the file," she assured him.  "I'm sure his probies are going to love seeing all that evidence."

"Hopefully," Gibbs said.  "Let's hope it's not one of those cases where there's too much evidence for the case."

"Those are hard but every agent has to learn to weed out things that happened earlier than your target time or aren't relevant," McGee said.  "It was one of the hardest things I struggled with.  I'm a big picture guy."

"Like how?" Ziva asked.

"Those blonde hairs I found could be evidence of a girlfriend, a special friend that he calls over for some cuddling, or it could be another victim," Tony told her.  "Abby can't date the hair.  We'll have to take it in context of the victim's life to see where it fits."  She nodded slowly.

"If it's from a girlfriend and she's alive, we can ignore it unless we need it to identify her," Kate added.

"I get that part but I'm confused why we gathered it."

"How do you know if it's relevant or not?" Gibbs asked her.


"Even the trash on the street when we find a body on one gets gathered because it could be from the killer or victim, or not.  You have to gather everything.  Like the trimmed carpet.  It could have been done by the victim.  It could've been done by someone trying to clean up the scene of their blood spatter if there were wounds on them."

"Or it could be burned down from a cleaner," Tony said.  "I think half of those were cleaner burn downs, Gibbs."

"Cheap carpet?"

"Pretty much," Tony agreed.  "I still took samples for her."  He looked at Ziva.  "If you don't gather everything, you're assuming.  No matter what a defense attorney tells you, we're not here to assume."  She nodded at that.  "People can be put to death for things like murder and if we get the wrong person then they can do it again."

"Or those serial cases we all hate to see," Kate agreed.  "Because you know one's coming and you're powerless to stop it even if you do assume.  You still have to handle it as it comes."  McGee nodded.  "Even on those days when you get three new cases in one day."

"You'll find an area you're good in and we'll lean on you for that," Gibbs told her.

"I'm good with knife work."

"That doesn't come up except in some undercovers," Tony told her.  "Always carry one though because that's rule number nine on Gibbs' list of twenty-three.  Probie started to embroider his so he'd remember them."

"I was joking," he complained.

"Yeah, I saw the rule number twelve pillow," Kate said with a smirk for him.  She looked at the notes online.  "Diventral's crew is going to have a lot of footwork.  He was a popular guy who had just recently managed to piss off half a platoon with his mouth."

Tony looked at her.  "Gay bashing or something?"

"No, no hate speech noted.  He had a severe behavior change.  Ducky's going to find something in his head."

"Snapped?" McGee suggested.

"No.  Doesn't look like an anger outburst.  His CO noted some behavior changes last months in his file.  Looks like he was having a bipolar incident really.  Ducky's going to find a tox screen necessary or a brain tumor of some sort.  I'd bet on it."

"You can ask him," Tony offered.

Gibbs looked at them.  "Not our case."

Kate looked at him.  "We can steer his probies."

"Ask permission before you poach."

"Yes, Gibbs."  She called to make sure someone had noted that problem going on.  He wasn't pleased but when she mentioned the notes, he got into them and groaned in her ear.  She smiled and said something then hung up.  "Ducky's doing his autopsy today."  She went to tell him.  "Ducky, on the case we just trained on, there's evidence of him either being bipolar or having a tumor of some sort.  Radical behavior changes from a sweet guy to a snarling bastard like Gibbs was the weekend in Arizona without coffee."

He shuddered at that memory.  "I shall check. That sort of verbal problem can cause hostilities."

"A half a platoon worth last week.  His CO noted it changed last month in some notes."

"That's very interesting.  I'll run that in the tox panel as well.  Thank you, Kate.  I'm sure they'd like the help."

"He said he has a whole team of probies."

"I pity the poor man's sanity."  He smiled.  "Go back to lounging about, dear.  Since you're not to go on cases today."  She went back to her desk.  "Yes, very interesting indeed, lad.  What happened to your head?"  He made notes on the forms and got to work excising his skull.  "Oh, dear, she was right.  That's a nasty looking tumor.  I need to get your medical records, don't I?"  He sent Palmer to make that call.  He was harmless so they'd like him more.  He got faster results when he stammered at the nurses.


to part 3