Xander looked up as someone walked into the throne room, getting out of Jethro's chair for him.  "Dean's nagging his father.  I let them have the special moment because Dean said he wanted to be alone."

"That's fine, Xander.  I don't mind.  What's with the hat code?"

"The ugly hats are coming?"  Jethro nodded, sitting down.  "You'll be tired of it within a minute."

"Wonderful.  Better than paperwork."  The 'ugly hats' were let in and bowed to them, huffing in irritation at Xander being there.  "Yes, he's my guardian and it's his time to hear problems while I'm working.  What's your complaint?"

They stared then started off on how the local market was not opening like they wanted and how no one wanted to let them do what they wanted.

"Why would you tear down housing to put up a shop?" Xander asked.  "We're in a housing crunch right now and need to build more, not tear down some to have less."  Gibbs looked at him.  "Record pregnancy rate since we've been back, Jethro.  I talked to Healer Carson and she said there was already a housing crunch.  This'll make it worse."

"So we need housing?"

"Yes.  I talked to the town's council and they've been planning how to do that.  They think they want to extend the left and right walls out by a few more yards and put up some more buildings that way.  They're making final plans right now."

"I've noticed some look to be fairly weak," Jethro said.  Xander nodded.  "We'll work on that later.  Have them bring that to me personally."  Xander nodded, sending a guard to tell them that.  "If we had an excess of housing or a lot of empty buildings, I wouldn't care if you wanted to renovate that way.  I won't let you evict people when there's nowhere for them to live."

"They can live outside the walls," one sneered.

"Why should they have to live in such a dangerous place?" Xander shot back.  "Then again, why is the market where it is?"  Jethro looked at him.  "It's an odd place and not on a direct path from the gates.  I've always wondered that."

"It was that way when I took over.   No one wanted to live around the animals."

"There's that whole storage area by the walls.  We could lay a huge market there, including animals, and it'd be easier to get things in."

"That's not a bad idea.  Then turn the old market area into better buildings once they were made habitable?"  Xander nodded.  "That's not a bad idea.  I'll bring it to them."  They stomped off.  "Now I know why that code exists," he sighed.

"Yeah.   They don't like me.  They consider me beneath talking to them."  Jethro snorted.  The town's council filed in.  "Hey."

"Lord Jethro, we were going to come to you when we had some concrete plans."

"We have an idea," Xander offered.  They smiled.  "What about moving the market down to those old storage areas by the wall?  It'd be easier for shippers to get to it.  It'd be easier for the farmers to bring things in.  We could use the old market area to build bigger, well- built houses."

They looked at each other.  "Some may complain about the stink."

"That part of the wall needs rebuilt anyway," Jethro said.  "Build it with that in mind, including ventilation grills."

They gaped.  Then looked at each other  "That may work, Overlord.  Thank you!"  They rushed off to talk to their planning committee for the wall project.  They could build in much of the structure, which would be safer than wooden buildings.  Plus it'd be easier if they did have another fire like they'd had last century.

Jethro smirked. "That was a good idea, kid."  Xander beamed.  "Stitches come out when?"


Jethro laughed.  "You?"

"Yuppers."  Dean walked in.  "Hey.  How did it go?"

"Not bad.  Thanks."

"You needed time to talk to your mom, Dean.  I'm not mean."  He patted his cheek.  "They're going to be putting more buildings up in town for houses."

"They need it.  Some families are squished together in tiny places," Dean told Jethro.  "Healer Carson's entire clan apparently lives with her in her three-bedroom house."

"Ow.  In-laws too?"  Dean nodded.  "We'll definitely work on that."

"She said she wanted to do the same thing that happened to us so she could learn more about humans and some accents," Xander said.

"I'll see if we can arrange that for her," Jethro greed.  "No one deserves their in-laws living with them."  The boys laughed.  "You two go be boys."  They nodded, leaving him there to handle things instead of paperwork DiNozzo was doing for him.  His phone rang.  "Yeah, Gibbs."  He listened.  "I'll be right back, DiNozzo.  Get the truck."  He hung up and headed back through the portal to Ducky's office, coming out and walking around him.  "Morning, Ducky.  There's a new body in Georgetown."

Ducky finished his tea and cookie to follow him.  "Mr. Palmer, there's a new body."  He came over to help him gather what they'd need.


Xander and Dean wandered around the town, making a list of buildings that probably needed fixed.  They ran into the healer, who looked at Xander's face.  "I'm fine.  I pulled the stitches yesterday."

"You missed a few."

"I can get 'em, Doc.  Don't worry about it," Dean said with a grin.  "Jethro said if you wanted to escape your in-laws he'd arrange it for you."

She beamed.  "Thank you.  They want us to spawn and there's no room in the house.  Or privacy."  They both grinned.  "What are we doing?"

"We are looking at the condition of the buildings," Xander said.  "Some look like they're ready to fall in."

"Some are," she agreed.  "The last rulers put up cheap wood buildings."  She led them off to let them look at a few stunning examples on one block.  They groaned and Xander went to get one of the councilors to talk to him.  She smiled at Dean.  "What happened?"

"He was captured to help bring down that Initiative problem."

"Excuse me?"

Dean nodded.  "He used a torch they were going to use on him and an older man, one of Fornell's people, to get free by torching the tank attached to it.  That's what gave him all those little cuts."

"Oh, dear."

"He's fine.  That was the plan going in.  He even helped by bandaging some of the demons since no one else was."

"He's a strong boy," she agreed.  The councilor came back and moaned at the buildings swaying in the breeze.  "Do we have anywhere to house them?"


"Can we do a temporary switch?" Xander asked.  "Move them to an older building, rehab one that's empty, the move them there?"

"If we put off moving the market, we can start here," another said.  "Use those warehouses for a bit.  Some aren't totally safe but the rest should do."  That got a nod.  "Get our builder."  A guard went to get him up since he had went home for a nap.  "This is not good.  We didn't know they were this flimsy."

"I had a patient lean against a wall and fall through it last year," Carson told him.

"Then it definitely needs fixed first.  Then we'll move the market."  That got an odd look.  "Lord Xander suggested we move it down where the wall needs to be worked on.  Easier access for carters.  We can build in some of the structures and ventilation system."  She smiled at the boy for that, getting a sheepish look back.  "Then we could turn the old market area into housing."

"That's not a bad idea once it's cleaned up."  She looked around.  "If only so I can get my entire clan out of my house."  The councilor laughed.  "You laugh but my mate's family is in now too and my sisters.  The only one who isn't with me is my brothers' family."

"That's too many in one residence," the first councilor complained.

"Nowhere else for them to go."

"Damn."  The builder came back.  He stared where they pointed.  "Get the warehouses ready to move them.  As soon as humanly possible.  Let the city's guards help.  Do it gently."  He nodded, going to handle that to make sure they were able to be used.

"On earth we have a program called Habitat for Humanity," Xander said.  They all looked at him.  "It's a program to put poor families into a home instead of an apartment.  The way it works is a small interest loan and volunteers.  If you get approved for a house through them, you have to put in so many volunteer hours with the group.  On your home and others' homes.  It's almost all volunteer and donation."

"We could get a good volunteer drive going," Dean said.  "A beautify our city thing."

The councilors smiled at the boys.  "Most don't know how to do those sort of things."

"Neither do those volunteers, but how hard is it to teach them to pound in a nail or use a nail gun?  We'd need someone professional to lay pipes, electric, those things, but for the basic framing and that stuff as long as you had enough supervision from people who did know it should be fine."

"Good point.  Would the overlord like that?"

"Probably.  It'd also give people a lot of pride in their town.  They could point and say 'we made that' or 'we helped create our own house'.  Plus Jethro's presently working on a boat in his basement."

They smiled and nodded.  "We shall talk about that idea.  Not everyone would want to help."

"If it's a full community project, the shame of the higher ups not helping would get them shunned.  The lower ones that have to work outrageous hours would probably help more," Dean said.   That got a smirk.  "It'd also save the city a lot of money and make it a capitol to brag about."

"It would," they agreed.  They took notes on what the builder said when he came back.

"Move them today," Xander said.  "Because I just heard a creak.  That's got to be dangerous."

"Yes, Guardian."  The guards went to start knocking on doors.

"Do not be mean to them," Xander called after them.  "Help them."  That got a nod as well and a few grins.  He looked at the councilors.  "I know a few of the guys on the outer gate got put there for bullying people."

"Too true. They can haul things."  He smirked and they went back to talk about that idea.  The capitol would be a beautiful place soon enough.  Worthy of their overlord and heirs.  They'd probably even help.  Jethro's clan had been that way before.  It would make the other cities in the kingdom do the same to keep up.  Beauty was always appreciated by the people wanting to move here.  Which would bring more business and money, which would grow their kingdom quite well.


Xander walked out of the elevator at Jethro's work, handing him the scroll.  "The formal plans."

Jethro paused in his scowling to read it then looked at him.  "Habitat?"

"Basically.  We found a few blocks that were swaying in the gentle breeze.  They're in the warehouses by the wall until their blocks can be fixed first."

"Not a bad idea.  The volunteer drive would help a lot of people get involved, make them more proud of their city.  Help a lot of people and save the city some money."

Xander leaned down.  "Dean thinks he found the vault."  Jethro smirked.  "He's not sure though."   He stood up.  "That one was an immediate need.  Then they'll go on with the market plans.  He built some really cheap housing.  Healer Carson said someone fell through a wall last year by leaning on it too heavily."  Jethro shuddered.  "The town needs it."

"It does.  This would make it go faster," he agreed.  "Good ideas, Xander."

"Thank you.  Carson would love to take you up on that offer if you can get Ducky to arrange it.  Everyone but her brother who lives in town is in her house right now.   She's got like seventy of them in her house plus her and her husband."  Jethro shuddered.  "A three bedroom place, Jethro."

"Granted.  As long as there's someone to do it in the town."

"There's six others as I found out."  Jethro smirked.  "I asked, she told me."  He nodded, handing it back.  "We need official approval."  He found that area and signed it, handing it back.  "Thank you.  Buffy and I are fighting about me going home now and then."

Jethro sighed.  "I do want you to do less dangerous things, Xander.  I know that it's important that you and Dean do what you do.  I know what drives you both.  I'd like you to be in a less dangerous area."

"Dean roams."

"I heard that.  I also don't like how they funded the hunting."  Xander nodded.  "Finish your vacation up there.  We'll talk about it in a few weeks.  Don't fight about it."

"I liked Dean's plan to set Sunnydale as a homebase and for us to do both sorts as needed."

"That's not a bad compromise plan," Jethro agreed.  "What's stopping it?"


Jethro groaned.  "Too normal to help?"

"That and I'm apparently in a destructive phase."

"You can get that out tearing down the bad buildings."  Xander nodded.  "Drop it for a while, but don't let her think she won.  Tell her I ordered you to finish healing before you make that decision."

"Yes, Jethro.  Thank you for understanding."  He left, going back down to Ducky's office.  Carson was there talking with him.  Ducky was more than happy to help her do that.  He sent Xander back to the castle then reconfigured his portal to work for her.  She stepped through and was whisked back to her human life, starting about thirty years earlier so she was about the same age but now male.  Xander sat down next to Dean.  "He wants us to hold off fighting with Buffy for a few weeks."

"I can agree with that.  How do we do it without making her think she won?"

"He's ordered me to finish healing."  He smirked.  Dean smirked back.  Dean called Buffy to tell her that and that they were pushing back plans to come back thanks to the project here in town.  They were both going to volunteer a lot of hours to it.  Starting with Xander blowing up those old buildings.  Under Horatio's careful watch since Xander only studied the bigger explosions, not the smaller ones.


Xander bounced into the Magic Box, handing over pictures. "The first of the new buildings was put up.  We did a really good job.  The families are very happy with it."

She smiled at the pictures they had taken.  "Way to go, Xander."

"We're rehabbing the whole town.  That section really needed it.  It was going to fall over.  The town's going to be putting up a new market by the walls and then replace the old one with new houses too."  That got a nod and she handed them to Willow.  "Then the rest of the town gets fixed."

She laughed.  "Sounds like you guys have a lot of work."

"We're Habitating it.  It's almost all volunteer work.  When we start putting up the new buildings in the old market area there'll be a volunteer quota to meet to get first residency."  She smiled and nodded.  "The guys who cursed us put up a lot of really flimsy buildings."

"The rooming house was one," she agreed.

"No that one's just old."  She nodded that she understood that.  "So, I'm back.  Dean's off looking at apartments.  And you, my dear, have a problem coming.  What's wrong with your mother?"  She gaped.  Xander nodded.  "I saw her.  She looked really pale and shaky."

"She's been having migraines."



"You don't start migraines for no reason, Buffy.  That's something to drag your mom to the doctor about.  Even if you have to carry her."  She rushed home to do that.  He looked at Willow.  "Yes, we're back.  We'll be traveling part of the time and hunting here the rest."

"Does his dad like that plan?"

"Yeah, he does."  He grinned at Giles.  "We'll be back on patrol tomorrow night."

"That would be fine, Xander.  She's got a date."

"She's found someone decent this time?"  They both shook their heads.  He sighed, shaking his.  "Dean's calling around to see if there's any cute hunters outside of him."  He skipped off.  "Going to pick up my stuff in storage.  We'll host a welcoming party tomorrow after patrol."

"Sure," Willow called after him.  "Wow.  Way too much energy."

Giles laughed.  "Indeed but it is a breath of fresh air."  The phone rang. "Magic Box... Joyce, Xander told her to.  That is a serious problem."

"Xander said you're going or he's going to carry you," Willow called loudly.

"The boy does worry about you, Joyce.  What harm would it do to have it checked over?"  He smiled.  "Exactly.  They are back.  Thank you, Joyce.  Of course I can drive you over so your daughter doesn't crash you both and kill you.  Let me get over there."  He hung up and went for his car.  Willow could run the store.  He took her outside of town since they were so pathetic at the local hospital.  Telling the quick care place inside the ER of the hospital that they were from Sunnydale got them seen nearly immediately.  They didn't like their hospital either it seemed.  Joyce got sent for immediate tests.  Buffy went with her to hold her hand.  Giles got himself some tea from the cafeteria to wait with.  It was going to be a while.


Xander whistled at their apartment.   "This is huge, Dean.  How can we afford this?"

Dean smirked.  "The owner's on the local construction company.  He hired me earlier."

"Oooh.  Me?"

"You can apply tomorrow.  He's expecting you.  He does know.  He is a harmless demon."  Xander grinned.  "And he knew about Jethro.  It's only four hundred a month plus utilities."

"Cool."  He took a kiss.  "Where are we setting up?"

"The bedroom's there," he said with a point.  "Do we have any furniture?"

"Nope.  The thrift shop is up the street."

"We can do that," Dean agreed, going to do that.  The Impala could carry some smaller things.  The bigger things he could pay the extra twenty bucks a pickup truck load to get delivered.  They had everything they needed but a mattress.  He called Xander, who went to find them one.  That got sent too.  They settled in after a quick run for food, deciding to collapse on the couch for a few hours watching the old tv running on an antenna.  "I'd steal cable but I don't feel like climbing outside tonight."

"We can get some with our first paycheck," Xander promised. "I do have some tapes."

"Sure, put something not Star Trek on."  Xander grimaced at him.  "What?  I don't like Star Trek.  I'll be a supporting spouse who only rolls their eyes."

"Uh-huh."  He put on something else and they settled to watch the taped shows.  Someone knocked.  Xander got up to get it, nodding at the man on the other side.  "Yes?"

"Mr. Harris?"  He nodded.  He handed over the form.

"What's this?"

"You need to be there for that hearing, young man.  That's a summons."

Xander groaned.  "Thank you."  He nodded and left.  Xander sat down beside his mate to read it over.  "I'm not being sued."

"No you're not."  They looked at each other and sighed, then went to look up that name online.  They did have a phone line that was still active.   Then they called Horatio since it was in his area of the world.  They got Speed since Horatio was knocked out at the moment.


Xander walked into the courtroom wearing the best clothes he had, sitting down in the place the bailiff pointed him at.  He had a lawyer, someone cheap that Horatio had found him.  They came in a few minutes later to sit next to him.  "Any idea?"

"No."  He patted his hand.  "We'll be fine, Xander."  He nodded.  The judge came in and he pulled the boy up.  Then they sat after he did.

"I see we're all here."

"My client doesn't even know why we're here," Xander's lawyer said.

"He is a material witness in this divorce hearing."

"Why?" Xander asked.  "And how would I know?"  The judge pointed at the couple.  He shrugged.  "I don't know either of them."

"I slept with you," she huffed.

Xander looked at her.  "No you didn't."  He stared at her.  "No, not coming to me."

"Last year."

"I wasn't in town last year.  The only time I've been to Miami was this last summer on vacation."  The judge looked at him.  "Really."  He shrugged.  "I came down to stare at bikinis.  I was in town for all of three days before then but I didn't sleep with anyone.  I was down to talk to a family member in the local police department.  I hid all that time."

"We had an affair for the last six years," the woman said.

"Then you're in trouble with the law since I'm only nineteen," Xander told her.  The judge stared.  He handed over his license from his wallet.  The judge looked then handed it back with a nod.  "I don't know what her problem is but this is weird."

"This is," the judge agreed.  "Can you prove it, ma'am?"

She handed over copies of letters.  "He wrote those to me.  He's obviously lying about his age."

The judge looked at them.  Some of the pet names were disgusting.  He looked at the boy.  "Pookie?"

"Eww?  My boyfriend would hate that."

The judge cleared his throat.  "You're gay as well?"

"It was kinda an arranged thing.  When I was in Miami the last time I did get to have my last few women ever."

"I see.  That seems reasonable of your future spouse."

"He got the same."

The judge nodded at that.  "Did you write these, Mr. Harris?"  He handed them to bailiff to be handed on.

Xander looked then shook his head.  "That's not my handwriting."  He handed it back.  He looked at the lawyer.  "You had stuff I signed."

"I do."  He dug it out to hand over.  "So you can compare the signatures."

The judge did that.  "They're not even close in writing style."  He handed both sets back. "Sir, what is your take on this situation?"

"I just want her gone, Your Honor.  I have no idea what's going on but this isn't my wife.

"Test her with holy water yet?" Xander joked.  His lawyer scowled.

"She won't go into a church and I'm very religious.  That's what started off this new round of fighting.  I don't know what is going on but I don't want her, Your Honor."

The judge looked at the boy.  "Why try holy water?"

Xander grinned.  "Because it seems to be the first, most harmless test if you have a sudden personality change and you can do it on the way to see the doctor if it's a medical condition."

"Do you know people it's worked on?"  Xander nodded.  "Why?"

"No comment."  He stared him down and the judge shivered.  "Really."

"Fine, keep that secret, young man."  He looked back at the couple.  "I see no reason to keep Mr. Harris here and off work or away from his future spouse."

"He's mine!" she shouted, getting up to lunge at Xander.  Xander got the lawyer out of the way and caught her in a way that brought her to the ground.  "I'll have you!  You will be mine!"  Xander found his holy water vial and poured it on her, making her shriek and her eyes change colors.  "No!"  Xander mumbled the exorcism chant while keeping her pinned, no matter how much she struggled.  She finally went limp after the cloud left her.  He looked down at her.  Then he slowly moved, letting her run to her husband to cry on.  "I'm sorry," she sobbed.  "It made me."

Xander nodded politely at the judge.  "I don't know either."

She looked at him.  "You're keeping the ones it wants from doing its bidding."

"Yay me," he said dryly.

"It wants you and your spawn."

"My spawn isn't born yet."  He smiled gently.  "Go find your family reverend or priest."  She nodded, letting her husband take her to do that.  He bowed to the judge.  "Thank you for not having me stopped.  I'm going to fade into the sunlight and hide now."  He left while the judge complained.  He headed back home through Horatio's portal then theirs, finding Dean waiting on him.  "The demon infecting her wanted me because I was taking you from doing its bidding."

"Which one?"

"No clue.  I didn't question her since we were in court."

Dean shuddered.  "Eww."

"Material witness to a divorce."


"Why are you home?"

"Broken water main.  It's flooded."

"Ah."  Xander settled in beside him, giving him a hug.  "I left the judge complaining."

"That's always a better idea."  He gave Xander the comfort he wanted.  He wasn't one for cuddling but his boy clearly needed it.  He called his father to warn him.  It looked like something was gunning for the Winchester clan again.  Pity for that demon.  He called Sam to warn him too.  Sam was more vulnerable.  Faith was good but not that great and Sammy always drew trouble.


Faith hung up.  "You get into more trouble than Xander does," she yelled.  "Just barely."

"What happened at the trial?" he called back from the bedroom.  He was putting up laundry.  When nothing came he walked out to look at her.  "That bad?"

"A demon wanted Xander because he was stopping Dean from doing what the demon wanted."

"Huh.  It appeared in the courtroom?"

"No, he was a material witness to a divorce hearing.  The wife was possessed.  Xan had to do an exorcism.  She told him afterward."

Sam groaned.  "What now?"

"Who knows but you're in trouble if it spreads."

"Yes, Faith."  He grinned.  "You know I don't mean for it to happen."

"Yeah, neither does Xander but it does and he keeps destroying stuff."

He kissed her.  "Want to go up to help build some of the new houses this weekend?  That way we can check on them?"

"I know nothing about building anything."

"It's not that hard.  You can hold stuff and help a lot.  The whole clan is helping out."

"Fine.  I'll go be super strong and hold stuff."  He grinned again, giving her a squeeze before going back to the laundry.  She shook her head, going to the kitchen to get a snack.  Her boy was a huge goofball.


Horatio hung up the phone with a sigh of displeasure.  "Problems?" Calleigh asked.

"A demon wanted Xander because he's stopping Dean from doing what the demon's plans call for."


"The wife of the divorcing couple was possessed.  They called him as a material witness to get him down here.  She told him that after he exorcized her in open court."

"She okay?" she asked.

"Fine now.  His lawyer was not amused."

"That's not what you want to have happen in a court of law," she said dryly.  "Even when Xander's involved."

Horatio smiled, nodding.  "Apparently.  They're calling around to warn others I'm sure."  He looked around their present crime scene then sighed in displeasure.  "Where is our detective?"

"Maybe they got possessed too," she teased.

"Don't even joke about that," he said blandly, scowling at her behind his sunglasses.  She grinned back.  He called the dispatch officer again.  "This is Lieutenant Caine.  My crime scene still has no detective.  Have they reported they've been shot or in an accident?"  He smirked. "I would suggest they suddenly get shot, yes.  Thank you.  Switch this one to Salas and call her for us please."  He hung up.  "Ours decided to go to lunch and is out of contact for the last two hours."

"Charming.  We got called three hours ago," she said bluntly.

"That's why I suggested he find a way to get shot."  Yelina got there within twenty minutes and got to work with them.  It let Alexx take the body with her and Calleigh finish her evidence gathering so they could go back to the lab.  Horatio went to find the head guy in Homicide.  Apparently someone needed a talk.  Should he use Rick's hanging around this time?  He considered it then decided he was that mean.  He went to talk to him first then the captain with him.  "Rick," he said, making him scowl since he had flinched.  "I have a problem with a detective that got called to a scene three hours before we switched over.  He never showed up and went to lunch, out of contact, two hours into it."


"I do not care."

"Good point.  Homicide?"  Horatio nodded.  "Eppins?"  Horatio smirked and nodded.  "His captain told yet?"

"I came to you first.  I figured you could talk to him after finding the call times."

"Agreed.  Meet you there in ten minutes."  He walked off to get those from Dispatch then head to that office.  Someone was getting their ass chewed.  Horatio in that sort of mood made people cry and quit the force before they could get fired.  He heard the pithy comment Horatio had made, scowling at it.  "Being shot wouldn't help him any."  He went to the captain's office.  "He was called at 12:04.  Again at 12:30.  At 1:08 he called in that he was going to lunch, was going to be out of contact for an hour.  The dispatcher told him that he was already supposed to be called to a scene and he hung up on her.  He still hasn't put himself back into contact."  He put that information down.  "I doubt having him shoot himself would help him any," he told Horatio.

"It would've been the only reasonable excuse I could've seen for him not showing up.  Thankfully, Yelina knows her job very well."

The captain looked at him.  "I hate it when you're in this mood.  Your nephew screw up again?"

"No.  An odd incident to a family I watch over more than anything.  This one was pissing me off long before then."

Rick nodded.  "I'm surprised he waited three hours.  The last time he waited one and called it in to have him found and arrested."

Horatio smirked.  "It was a beautiful day and Alexx got there a bit late due to traffic.  We gave him the extra hour so we had time to work without a simpering idiot trying to hit on Calleigh.  Or having him trip over us while looking over the scene, like last time.  He truly is not qualified to help old ladies and school children across a street.  I don't know how he passed his detective's exam."

The captain sighed.  "I'll look into this."

"Yes, we will be," Rick agreed.  "This is his second one."

"Fine, you look into it and tell me," he offered, handing back the forms.  Stetler was always in a truly foul mood whenever he had to work *with* Caine.  He didn't want to be in the crossfire this time.  He might end up badgeless too.  "Have fun and let me know, Stetler."

"Thank you."  He walked off to get into the guy's files.

Horatio smirked.  "It's better to give him something to do and a target."

"They really screw up that much?"

"He performed an exorcism in open court," Horatio said dryly.  The captain gaped.  Horatio nodded with a slight hum.  "Yes, that's my other nephew."  He walked off to get into the case in the lab.  Calleigh looked at him.  "I let Rick handle it."

She checked his forehead with her wrist.  "Are you sick?"

"A bit tired.  This weekend I need to go up there to help with some rebuilding tasks.  Xander suggested they do a Habitat for Humanity style project to revamp a lot of the housing downtown and also build new ones since we have a tight housing crunch there.  Most of the clan will be up there to help out."

"I can help."

"You have call."

"Oops.  Eric can take it so I can help.  Since he's had two sick days off he'll probably want the time."

"Make sure first, Calleigh."  She smiled and did that then got back to work beside him.  Speed leaned in.  "Are you coming up this weekend?"

"Yup.  Alexx can't.  One of the kids popped up the flu and she said she doesn't want it to spread."

"That's reasonable."

"How many buildings are going up?"

"We've got plans to put up eight buildings and revamp a few of the sturdier ones already in old market area.   The new one by the walls is widely praised and a lot of people like it better.  It has better ventilation so it doesn't stink up the city."

"That's good.  I'm amazed it only took them two months to revamp that and the other buildings."

"It was necessary.  Someone had fallen through a wall by leaning on it."  Speed moaned, shaking his head.  "Things are going well.  As things keep moving on, life will get back to normal.  Others are working on their own houses as well.  The city will once again be a pretty capitol for the clan."

"Good.  Ten Saturday?"

"That's fine, Speed."  He went to his own lab to work.

"Should I bring coffee or anything?" Calleigh asked.

"Bring a can of coffee.  We'll perk it there."  She nodded.   "I will warn you not to drink the local water.  It needs the filters changed in the filtration unit."

"I can remember that."  She smiled at him.  "How big is the main city?"

"Not huge.  We have about six thousand living there and room for about four at the moment.  That's why we're doing the big push to build."

"That's a good thing."

"The healer our family has worked with had her mate, all his family, all her family but her brother and his family, in her home.  A small three bedroom bungalow with seventy people."

She shuddered.  "That's worse than some newly immigrated families that live together for three or four generations."

"It is.  That's why she opted to be sent back as a human to learn more medical skills from our sciences.  She has a thing for accents so she's now Scottish and male."  She giggled.  "Ducky heard from him.  He's very happy."  They got back to work.

Yelina walked in.  "Other nephew?"

"The family I watch over, Yelina."

"Oh, them.  Which one did it this time?"

"Xander," Calleigh said.  "It was necessary to protect himself."

Yelina sighed, shaking her head.  She walked off again to get back to her own work.  She did not understand that other family at all.  They were all insane to her.  They were dragging Horatio down.  She'd have to speak to him in private about it before they made him leave the city or something.


Xander looked up from his building, smiling at Jethro.  "Hey, Jethro."  He shook his hand.  "This one's being rehabbed.  We're taking out the interior walls to put up insulation, strengthen it, then putting up new interior walls."

"Is it going to housing?"

"Medical clinic."

"That's a good use."  He came in to look around.  "We're sure the outer walls are strong enough?"

"Not really but we'll be dropping a new frame behind it," Dean said as he joined them, handing over coffee.  "Calleigh brought it up.   Horatio's manning that and the medical station since he can't use a hammer."

"Thanks, boys."  They got to work on that one.  They could reframe one of the walls by lunch he hoped.  Both boys were doing construction so that helped.  They got two walls done before lunch and came out to the city-wide barbeque.  Jethro looked around.  "Not a lot of helpers today."

"They're all at work," the guy in charge said.

Jethro cleared his throat.  "I'm declaring today, tomorrow, and the next day to be beautification days!" he announced.  The crowd cheered.  "Unless your job is necessary, I want you to work on your own home or help us here.  Before more people have to live with their in-laws."  They went to spread the news.  Lunch went on a bit longer with more people filing in but they got a lot more work done with so many helpers.  Some went to work on their own houses with their families but that was fine.  He didn't want to force anyone to work.  He saw the kids and frowned.  "They shouldn't be around construction. "

Xander jogged over, smiling at them.  "Hi, kids."  They beamed at him.  "Boss, we're taking them to the plaza."

"Don't plant there yet," the overseer said.  "We have some heavy equipment coming in.  Go seed grass in the new playground up the street."  Xander nodded, walking them with that way with a few helpers and some bags of seeds.  The helpers came back to get some scrap wood for fences for a flower garden or three for the girls who wanted one.  The boys got to throw seeds all over the place.  They even had a seed fight but one of the mothers made them shake off in different areas.  By the time work closed for the night, the new park and playground area was wonderful looking.  The overseer came over to look, nodding.  "Good job, kids."  They cheered.  "There's another barbeque and picnic tonight."  They ran to find their parents and brag.

Xander grinned.  "They had a lot of fun throwing seeds and planting flowers."

"That's what kids do," a mother agreed.  "Throw things and dig in the dirt."  She walked off to get her own child back and have some dinner with them.  They'd be doing it again tomorrow too.  With any luck some of the new homes would be complete by the end of the weekend so the families that were still in temporary housing could be moved.


Tony walked in on Tuesday limping and holding his back.  "Kate, can you get my muscle rub out of my desk for me please?  I can't bend."  She came over to hand it to him.  "Thanks."  He went to the bathroom to put some on, coming back very slowly.

"What did you do?" she demanded.

"Went to help a building push this weekend with the boss and Abby."  He sat down with a moan then his face tightened up.  "That was a mistake.  Help me up?"  She came over to help him up but it wasn't going to work.

"Let me get Ducky," she said, calling down there.  "Palmer, Tony needs Ducky.  He just threw his back by sitting down in his desk chair."  She hung up and watched Gibbs come strolling in like usual.  "Gibbs, Tony can't move."

Gibbs looked at him.  "I didn't think you were that sore, DiNozzo."

"I wasn't until I woke up this morning, boss.  Then I made the mistake of sitting down.  I don't think I can move."  Ducky came up to check him over, having him slowly lean forward then try to stand.  His knees buckled from the pain, but he could catch himself on the desk.  Ducky sat him back down.  "Ducky, can I go lay down on an autopsy table until it pops or whatever?"

"Of course, Anthony."  He rolled the chair with him.   He could ignore the smiles.  "Threw his back," he told the director when they found her in the elevator.

"Doing what?"

"I helped Gibbs and Abby with a building push this weekend," he said.  "I was fine until I sat down.  Then my back locked up."

"As long as you can get back to work relatively soon.  How many buildings?"

"We were working on about eight new ones and three rehabbed ones in the same general area of the city we were in."  He yawned.  "We got one full building complete in the three days plus all three rehabbed one.  One of which is going to be a new medical clinic.  We did good.  Very sturdy stone construction."

"It's a good thing to do," she decided.  "The others?"

"Jethro looked a bit stiff but otherwise fine," Ducky said, getting off on their floor.  He rolled Tony's chair into the morgue.  "Mr. Palmer, help me lift him."  Palmer came over to take Tony's feet.  They got him onto the table.  Tony's back popped audibly.  His groan was just as loud.  "How's that?"

"I don't think I can move my feet."

"Squeeze your butt cheeks.  That's what helps mine," Palmer said with a grin.  Tony gave him a dirty look but tried it at Ducky's nod.  It popped again and Tony sighed in pleasure.  He sat up slowly.  "See?"  He walked off.

Tony stood up, wobbling some.  "I think I'll OD on some tylenol for the day.  Pray for no bodies and especially not one we have to crawl for."  Ducky nodded, letting him have his chair back.  Tony rolled it back up to his desk and sat down carefully.  He took six tylenol and put the empty bottle in the trash.  "It popped, boss."

"That's good.  You fit for duty?"

"As long as I don't have to climb, run, or crawl.  Maybe."

"You're staying there then.  Abby called off.  That shoulder strain came back."  Tony nodded.  "She's icing it so she'll be back tomorrow too."

"Should we check on her around lunch?"

"She said no."  McGee came in.  "You're late."

"There was a massive wreck on the road right in front of me, boss.  I was helping pull people out of their cars since they only sent one ambulance to an eight car pile up."  Tony winced.  "Exactly."  He wrote down the address.  "One of the other agents was with me.  His car was at the back and he didn't brake fast enough."



"Miller!" he bellowed.  That team leader came over.  "Your person was in a car crash in front of McGee.  They were working on it."

"I heard.  He called in just now.  That was a nasty wreck."

"I'm glad they didn't slam into the fuel truck," McGee told him.  "It barely slid past the wreck.  It was going too fast to slow down."  They both shook their heads.  "He was fine when I saw him."

"That's fine, McGee.  These things happen."  He walked off shaking his head.  Gibbs made his people beg when things happened.  Miller finally got there.  "Gibbs told me with McGee.  Fuel truck?"

"In the other lane but going much too fast to slow down.  It sped up to get out of the way."

"That's good.  McGee came in begging because he was late."

"If I had Gibbs, I'd have to beg too," he said quietly.  Miller nodded with a small smirk.  They heard a moan and looked over.

"I'll get Ducky again, boss," Kate said.

"Please do.  He can take DiNozzo to the ER for his back."

"I just need to pop it again, boss.  Maybe some time in a spa."

"Shut up, DiNozzo."

Miller and Heparva shook their heads.  Gibbs was going to be cranky all day.  He always was when he was deprived of DiNozzo.  They saw the paramedics show up and gave them encouraging smiles.  Gibbs would be biting them soon.


Sam walked in working his left shoulder.  "I still ache."

"It was hard work," she pointed out, handing him a plate.  "Why do I hang here all day?"

"Because you haven't found anything else you want to do?" he said, looking confused.

She stared.  "You wouldn't care?"

He shrugged with a wince. "If you want to work or go work out or whatever, Faith, do it."  He took a kiss.  "I'm not going to tie you to the house unless you want me to."

She punched him on his other arm.  "I'm not that kinky, no matter what Dean thinks."

He smirked at her.  "You sure?"

"Very."  She went to get her own dinner.  "How was class?"

"Decent enough.  History is boring again but it's fine.  It's a huge class.  I have over four hundred people in it."  She shuddered.  "Most people have to take a history class.  That's the base level world history."  He dug in.  "It's good, thanks."

"Welcome, Sammy."  He shook his head.  She grinned.  She loved to pick on Sam until he pounced.

"Let me eat first.  I missed lunch because we couldn't get around the protest outside the caf."



"Why are they bugging the caf?  Not like they serve real meat."

Sam laughed.  "Someone pointed that out.  They huffed and did it anyway."  She shook her head, digging in.  She'd need her strength.  Afterward she worked on his shoulder and he obligingly pounced her until she screamed and went limp underneath him.  It was good for them.


Xander smacked into the ground extra hard thanks to the demon in front of him, getting up to tackle it back toward Buffy.  She batted it aside and went back to the vampire she was doing.  "Buff, wanna change?" he called, ducking a blow.  It was small but fierce.

"In a second, Xander."  She dusted the vampire five minutes later and turned around, sighing in displeasure since it was trying to choke Xander.  She threw it and it came rushing back.  It was tougher than she expected.  She was barely denting it.  Xander was coughing and hacking to get his air back.  "No wonder you can't.  You're normal guy."

Xander picked up the broken crossbow, fiddling for a second then shooting it.  It stumbled backward grabbing at the arrow.  A gun boomed and they both ducked.  The demon's head exploded.  "That's why most hunters use guns, kid," John said dryly.

Xander looked at him.  "Not my fault she won't."

"Hey!" Buffy complained, punching him on the shoulder.  He moaned and held it.  "Ooh, sorry, Xander."

He glared at her.  "I was already sore enough from that demon, thanks anyway."  He looked at John.  "Dean's off with a bum ankle tonight."

"So he said when I stopped in."  He looked at the demon.  "What kind is that?"

"No clue," Buffy said.  "Just really hard.  Which is why Xander couldn't beat it."

Xander looked at her then around at the littered bodies.  He pointed.  "How many of those were yours?"  She looked then groaned.  He looked at John.  "Can I get a ride home?  I need to get a drink to soothe my throat."

"Sure, want one, Buffy?"

"I'm good, John.  I'll hit the Bronze to weed down the vamps."  She smiled at Xander.  "Have a safer trek home."

"You be safe at the Bronze."  He waited until she had walked off to point and huff.  John nodded.  He got walked off.  "Why do I let her do that to me?"

"I don't know, kid.  Sounds like low self-esteem to me."  He got him into the truck, checking him over.  "I'll make sure you have an ice pack."

"You can have the guest room."  Xander buckled up and John walked around to get in and drive.  "I feel like shit."

"Should we get it and ask Giles if it had poison?"

"Might be a good idea."

John went to pick it up and put it in the back of the truck.  He took it to the Magic Box.  "Rupert."  He looked up.  "Come look at this thing.  It was pretty tough and we're not sure if it has poison or not.  Xander said he feels miserable after fighting it."

Giles grabbed his classification manual, coming out to look at it.  "It does."  He went inside to get it, coming out to give it to Xander.  Xander choked and barely managed to swallow it.  "Get your throat?"  Xander nodded.  "Go home, get an ice pack.  Where's Buffy?"  Xander made fist pumping motions.  "The Bronze?"  Xander smirked and nodded.  "Why?"  Xander gave him a look.  "I'll talk to her about it, Xander.  Rest for the night."  He closed the truck door.  "Thank you, John."

"I blew its head off, Rupert. Buffy sneered at the use of guns again.  Sometimes you need something more than the a crossbow."

"You do," he agreed.  "Wesley did try."

"We need to try again."  He took Xander home to Dean, walking him inside.  "He needs an ice pack."

"Have mine," Dean said, handing over his from his sprained ankle.  "What happened?"

"Little bastard demon.  Tougher than it should have been, had some poison," John told him.  "Rupert gave him the antidote."

"Good!  What was it?"

"In the back of the truck."  Dean limped out to look at it then came back to make up a few other ice packs for them.  John settled in to baby them.  They both looked banged up.  "Is there a problem coming?"

Dean shrugged slightly.  "Spring build up but no apocalypse."


"We defeated it with the Initiative," Xander hissed.  He coughed then put the ice pack back over his throat.  Dean checked with a wince.  "Three minutes.  Five for her to defeat the vamp she was playing with.  Then she said of course I couldn't fight it, I was normal."

"Really?" Dean asked.  "You don't look normal."  He checked.  "One of the scythes is missing."  Xander pulled it off his back beltline.  "Couldn't reach it?"

"Didn't even cut it," Xander whispered.  He laid down with his head on Dean's thigh.  "I feel rotten."

"I know," he said, petting his head gently.  "Half of this is her snark again."  He looked at his dad.  "How was it otherwise?"

"There were a ton of bodies and three piles of dust."

Dean glared at the window then at his mate.  "Want to go hunting my way for a while?"  Xander nodded.  "Think we can get time off?"

"We can pay the rent while we're gone and we're between jobs for the next month."

"Good.  We'll do that."  He petted him until his mate fell asleep.  John got him some juice too.  "Thanks, Dad."

"Welcome, son."  He sat on the chair, looking at them.  "You two okay otherwise?"  Dean nodded.  "That's good.  I checked on Sammy and Faith.  She's not sure what she wants to do all day.  She tried working and nearly wrapped the guy's head up his butt for trying to order her to do things repeatedly."  Dean smirked.  "I suggested the local Vo-Tech.  She's looking into it."

"That'll be good for her.  Give her a life outside of Sammy and slaying."   He looked down then a his father.  "Any good hunts that need one of us?"

"I could use both of you on the hunt for the one demon," he said patiently.  "Otherwise, a few upstate."  That got a grin.  "Did you hear anything from Angel or another source?"

"I went down to talk to him about it.  He thinks he knows what it is.  He's not really sure.  We'll have to see."  John nodded.  "He's also asking around.  What I don't get is the demon in Miami who said Xander's keeping *me* from what the demon wants us to be doing."

"That has me stumped too."

"He wants a specific Winchester, not you," Xander mumbled.  "But he thinks you're one of the few ways that would toughen that one up and let him survive to the point where he needs them."  He yawned and snuggled in better.  "Look back, those who helped are gone."  He blinked at John.  "Sam and I talked.  I did some checking.  The doctor who delivered him is dead.  So's his first and second grade teachers.  All of them in that one case."  John gaped.  "So's his playmate back in Nebraska when you had to stay there for so long."

"He's after Sammy," Dean realized.

"I figured it had to be something like that with the way your mother died overtop of him," John admitted, shifting some.  "Otherwise he would've put her over our bed or your bed."  Dean nodded at that, looking confused.  "I think he did something to Sammy.  Tainted him somehow."

"Could be why he draws so much trouble since we know Xander does the same thanks to his hellmouth taint."

"Then explain why it happened up there," Xander said dryly.  "We met because I was hunting something and had gotten captured by another war band."

"Good point."  He shrugged.  "So maybe it's something about you two specifically?"  Xander nodded.  "Huh."  He looked at John. "Dad, any idea?"

"Sammy and I were top rated breeders before," Xander said, flipping over to look up at Dean.  "That's why everyone in your old clan was against me and Sam getting together.  That and I've got a little tiny bit of power in me and Sam's got some gifts hidden too.  We were both repeatedly looked over for temple service but passed over because it wasn't right for us."

"I didn't think about that," Dean admitted.  "Your throat feeling better?"

"No."  He grinned.  "But I'm healing."   He leaned up to take a kiss.  "This thing wants Sam for a reason.  I don't know why.  The curse was very specific about how it sent us back to be sacrificed or hunted.  Us younger four were to be sacrificed.  Not hunted."

Dean gaped.  "You're sure?"

"Yeah, I read it over Stella's shoulder.  It's one of the languages some of Giles' books are in.  We were meant to be sacrifices.  That's why Faith's a slayer and I'm here.  Things would still be drawn to me here.  I had a high chance of being vamped before twenty and my new parents were crappy so that raised it."

"Us hunting hasn't kept you boys away from danger.  Plenty of them could have killed you," John added quietly.  Dean swallowed but nodded.  "But why Sammy instead of Dean?"

"Why me instead of Faith?" Xander shot back.  Then he coughed and put the ice pack back on his swollen throat.  "Faith used to get into nearly as much trouble as I did.  She had to look for it more often than I did but she found it."

"We heard Jethro almost started a war over you being taken," Dean said, remembering back.  "There were stories about you.  They compared Sammy to you a lot."

"How many other eggs were hatched around our time and who had the same sort of problems?  Or who got repeatedly looked at by almost every priest we ran across?"

"Good point.  Every single priest used to doubletake when they saw Sam and test him."  He thought back.  "No others in my clan."

"None in our more distant ones," Xander said.  "It's something we need to ask.  If it carried over, the demon that got your mom is probably homing in on that same signal."

"If it's just you two?" John asked.

"Then it probably thinks I'm with Sam.  Because if it doesn't want Dean, then why bother with me?  Or make elaborate plans because I'm keeping him from doing what the demon wants."

"So this whole 'normal guy' phase of Sammy's is a break?" Dean asked.

"Could be or it could be that he's not needed yet.  That one priestess said three years."

"Which would be about when he'd graduate," Dean realized.  Xander nodded.  "We've got to find that thing."

"We need to find out why Sam first," Xander ordered.  "Otherwise we can't plan."

"True."  He looked at his father.  "Can you ask Rupert?"

"I can.  I'll ask Missouri too.  She might have an idea of some sort or another."

"Thanks, Dad.  Did you tell her?"  He waved a hand over Xander's hip.

"She said it's nice you didn't come back with the head fin.  It'd probably get you hunted by guys like Bobby.  I did tell Bobby.  He said it figured with as much trouble as you boys got into."

"Missouri, the priestess Missouri?" Xander asked.

John gaped then called her.  "Missouri, John Winchester.  Did you know about the head fins because you used to have one?" he asked bluntly.  "Xander asked if you were the same one."  She said something then hung up.  "She said that's like asking a woman her age - it's rude."

Xander snorted. "Yeah, right.  If so, she might know.  Or Ducky might.  He was the highest priest in the order when the curse hit."

"I'll call him tomorrow.  Go to bed, boys.  You both look too pitiful to work tomorrow."  They snorted but went to bed.  They'd make plans to run off for a hunt later.  John called her back.  "So, were you?" he asked dryly.  "They're in the other room.  Trying to figure out what makes Xander and Sammy so special and if that's the reason that demon wants Sammy.  And why the demon wanted Xander to leave Dean so Dean could go back to hunting like he wanted."  He listened to her say something.  "Sunnydale.  We can do that.  They've got a month off and both boys need a break thanks to the girls out here.  Sure, you, me, them.  Bobby too," he said with a grin.  "Why?"  He nodded at her 'he'd see something'.  "Okay, if you want.  Give us a few days."  He hung up.  "Missouri wanted to confab."

"That's fine," Dean called back.  "We can pack up tomorrow for a bit."  He settled in next to Xander, letting him snuggle in if he wanted.  He was getting used to being cuddled.  He didn't like to cuddle but he could let Xander cuddle him without having to cuddle back.  Xander was soon asleep against his armpit, snoring grandly.  That throat was really going to bother him for days.  Maybe Missouri would be able to tell him how to teach Xander to blow him too.


Dean stopped the car and got out, looking over as Xander got out too.  John's truck was already parked and he was over with the 'adults'.  They shut the doors and walked over.  "I still say Weird Al does not belong in my car."

"Sometimes you need less than head banging music, Dean.  It helps me think and relax.  Not like I could nap with that really loud Metallica you were playing."

"I like Metallica."

"So do I but we thumped a gangbanger off the street a few hours back."  The adults all looked at them.  He grinned.  "Hi, Xander Harris."

Bobby looked at him.  "What happened to you?"

"Some little puss sucking demon who decided to choke me while Buffy was playing with a vamp."


"He hunts with a slayer," Dean said.  He sat on the top of the picnic table after checking for food.  He was hungry.  Xander handed over a wrapped thing.  "Granola?"

"Fudge dipped, chocolate chip granola.  It's good.   Try it.  I eat a ton of them at work."

"Eww, dude, that's almost healthy."

"Not with as much salt and sugar as that thing has," Bobby said.  "Eat it and shut up, Dean."  Dean grumbled but ate it.  "It's like a chewy candy bar with substance."

"Exactly.  Even Buffy can't complain when I eat those instead of hershey bars."  He looked at Missouri.  Then he grinned and bowed.  "How many times did you test me?"

"Many.  Smartass."

"Still."  He smirked.  "His."

She gaped.  "What?"

"In their last life, before they were sent to us as part of a rebirth curse, Dean was Xander's mate," John said.

"And a breeder too," Xander said with a grin.  "He was even with egg."

Bobby choked, shaking his head.  "That's too strange."

"No, strange was watching Sammy hum at his future egg," Dean said between bites.  "I guess they're not so bad.  Bit too chewy."

"There's harder ones," Xander assured him.  "They're usually the healthier ones."  He looked at Missouri again.  "What did you repeatedly see in me and Sam?  We think that's what that one demon wants him for in about three years according to a priestess of Grista."

She blinked.  "That's blunt."

"I've been reraised by girls.  One Jewish one who became a lesbian wicca recently."  Bobby shuddered.  "I will protect her girlfriend."

"Even if she wasn't one of Fornell's kind?" Dean asked.

"You haven't met Tara?"

"I have.  She's sweet and shy."

"Which is why we'll need to help her some day when something goes after her to get Willow."  The others looked confused.  "If she can close the hellmouth and stick a soul back in Angel from a hospital bed, something's going to want her.  The same as demons aren't supposed to know who Buffy really is.  It can cause problems when they rush her home."

"I didn't think about that."

"Hold on, Willow stuck Angel's soul?" John asked.

"Yeah, after he and Buffy boffed, he lost it and went evil, sick bastard again.  Tried to end the world.  Willow stuck it right before Buffy had to send him to hell because he opened Alcaltha.  I didn't tell Buffy, which she got majorly pissed at.  I gave her the go ahead and told her Willow wasn't going to try because I knew she couldn't beat him while trying to hold him off.  Too big of a threat and he'd already killed one and nearly her watcher.  I was being expedient back in those days."

"She stuck a soul in a vampire?" Missouri asked.

"The gypsies did it first.  She just restuck it when it came loose."

She groaned.  "That girl's going to have problems."

"Well, yeah," Xander agreed.  "Which is why I'll protect her girlfriend Tara.  Who is a very light side witch."

"She's a pure follower of the Goddess," Dean agreed.  "Could use someone to kick her parents' ass though."

Xander smirked.  "Let them show up.  If Buffy hates mine, what's she going to do to them?"

"Sounds like we'll need popcorn," Dean quipped.  Xander beamed at that.  "You can get your own in."

"Why?  My dad tried something the other day to get money and I punched him then."  He looked at Missouri again.  "Any idea what it was?"

"In each priest are gifts.  If they can be awakened then be used to serve Her will, they're brought to the temple."

"Then why pass over Sammy and Xander so many times?" Dean asked.

"Because the priests are forbidden to enter politics, hold a public office, or fight except in matters of self defense," Xander said.  Missouri nodded.  "Which means ours were strong but not the right sort?"

"Sam's could be more useful in a battle and weren't awake the last time I saw him."

"Could that be what the demon did?" Bobby asked.  "Woke 'em up?"

"Could be.  Or at least brought them closer to be being able to be woken up."  She ran a hand over Xander's head.  "I do not know why we tested you so many times."  Xander took off a necklace and then put on something in his pocket.  "That unclouds you."

"I was reborn on the Cali hellmouth," he said.   "That's muting that signature."

She smiled, doing it again.  She closed her eyes, then nodded.  "You're a medium."

"Yes I am.  I'm also using it to plan our battles."

She nodded, stroking over his head again.  "Ah.  That strength of yours shines as a gift."  She looked at him.  "A natural leader, young one.  One who would make the priests stay solid for generations."

"That's not why every priest in existence tested me at least three times," Xander told her, staring into her eyes.

"No, that's the gift that you have as a breeder and in a few other things that are now locked because this body cannot handle it."

"Is that why magic goes screwy around him according to Willow?" Dean asked.

"Yes," she said.  She smirked at the boy.  "Now what?"

"Now, we figure out what I have to do to keep my twin sister and Sam safe.  Faith may be a guardian and a pretty good fighter but Sam needs his own life."  She nodded, backing up.  "Giles said he found this," he said, handing it to John from his back pocket.  "Willow sent it."

He read it, frowning at the information.  "Other children with other fires."  He handed it to Bobby.  "Same MO as ours was."

Dean looked at it then at Xander.  "When did he find that?"

"John asked him and Willow to look into it.  Angel's found a little bit.  They're prepping for a major move right now.  They're planning positions.  It's looking like one of *the* battles is coming in about three years.  We simply have a hell goddess that might pop up next year."

"Oh, is that all?" Dean asked dryly.  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Xander, joking right?" he asked.   Xander beamed and shook his head.  "Dude, please?"

"Nope.  Sorry."  He beamed.  He took a kiss.  "Glorificus is slated to come back next year."  He looked at Bobby.

"Don't you dare kiss me too," he said dryly.

"I don't think I ever went toward elves."  Bobby gaped, then slowly glared.  He grinned.  "We know Fornell.  Jethro's now a Fed.  Works with him now and then."

"I see."

"Tony's his senior agent and Abby's a lab geek with them at NCIS."

"Gibbs is that Jethro?" he demanded.

"Yeah."  He beamed at him.  "Makes so much sense, doesn't it?"

"Where's the others?"

"New York and Miami."

"Caine," he sneered.

"Yup.  Uncle H of the red hair."  He smirked.  "And our former housekeeper/mother hen and her son."

"Who I still don't want you cuddling," Dean mumbled.

Xander looked at him.  "Fine, jealous!"

"I told you, every single Winchester in existence is jealous, Xander.  Dad punched a few guys who hit on mom in the store."

John nodded.  "Felt really good too."

Xander looked up, shaking his head.  Then at him.  "What's going to happen the next time I have bad girl magnet powers?"

"They'll be demons or we'll let someone arrest 'em.  Hopefully before they kill themselves this time."  All three adults gave him an odd look.  "One hit on Xander on the beach.  Took him to what he thought was her house.  Turns out she had broken into it, taken him there to have sex with him.  Put him in some wrist restraints hitched to the ceiling to strip for him and make him beg.  She got a call and killed herself without releasing him.  Horatio was not amused."

"Neither was I," Xander said.  "She was cute and good though."

"You two still together?" Bobby asked.

"We were going after our last pussy of our lives," Dean said.  "He hired me a hooker.  I let him pick up bad girls."

Missouri scowled.  "Do not say such things in front of me, Dean Winchester."

"Yes, Missouri."  He pulled Xander back against him.  "If we weed the hellmouth taint out of Xander, would those gifts shine stronger?"


"That's probably why he didn't get you then."  He leaned his chin on Xander's shoulder.  "We've got to tell Sammy so he's warned."

"I'm more worried if he's found a way to resurrect our former eggs," Xander said quietly.  "Because that would give him the minion he wanted and she did warn us about that."

"I've been checking with Ducky.  He said if one of you died there's a very good chance you'd end up back in your old body," John said.  Both boys looked at him.  "He's not certain but he said it's highly likely."

"That's a good thing since we're all in such dangerous fields," Bobby said.  Xander nodded.  "Then you'd have a shorter life span."

"I've already surpassed all estimates, Bobby.  Demon hunting doesn't come with a high life expectancy.  Especially not when you're doing it nightly.  That cuts down on what Dean would expect."

"Huh?" Dean asked.

"If you handle one or two demons a month it's less likely you'll die from that than if you handle one every night.  Especially when you add in burnout rates and things."

"I guess that makes some sense," Dean said.  "That's like math though.  Not either of us's native language."

"I know.  Freaked me out when I thought of it," Xander said, grinning back at him.  Dean forehead butted the back of his mate's head.  "Thanks."  He looked at them.  They looked confused.  "If Dean and you guys handled as many vamps and other demons as we hunt every year you'd guys would die after about the same amount probably."

"Usually you guys stake a good four or five a night," John said.  "Or Buffy says she does."

"I usually got one or two a night," Xander agreed.  "Then you get to count in the bad nights like Halloween.  Because even if vampires take it off, the chaos sorcerers and others like them don't.  And the spring build up and usually an apocalypse.  That means more time in hunting and more kills per night on those nights.  And for some reason we've had the last three winter solstices be really active.  Willow pouted that this last one she couldn't go to the campus group's circle."

Dean gave him a squeeze.  "We get it, Xander."  He looked at Bobby.  "They're all insane out there.   The slayer doesn't like guns.  Won't let him use them on patrol at all.  Doesn't like anything more powerful than a crossbow.  They usually stake vampires."

"That's one type, there's others."

"Faith and I ran into some on our trip to wake up memories.  I got a computer," Xander said with a grin.  "If I had shot him, it would've went poof with him, Dean."

"Fine.  Whatever.  Still insane and she doesn't like it when I bring one either."

"She does have a point that it can be used on you fatally if you lose it," Xander said, looking back at him.  "It's easier to fix a hole from a stake than a bullet."  Dean nodded at that.  "Especially in our crappy local hospital.  It's not like they're good," he said at Missouri's snort.  "It took me a month to heal after they botched my appendix surgery.  I was in there for a week."  She gaped.  He nodded.  "It's for parts.  Anything bigger than stitches and you'd better hope the ambulance drivers feel like an easy night so they take you outside town.  That's why Joyce went to LA when they found the brain tumor."

"Huh," Dean said.  "No wonder you guys stitch each other up."

"Yup, and I did one of Joyce's when it snapped too.  Buffy panicked and called."

"That's not a bad thing to do," John agreed.  He looked at the others.  "So how do we handle this, and how do we track this thing down before the three year time limit?"

"And what's at the end of the three year time limit?" Xander asked.  "In case it's another ascension battle or something."

"Better not be," Dean complained.  "I think the last one was bad enough."

"Yeah," Xander agreed, looking down then back at him.  "I'm glad you made it for that, Dean."

Dean grinned.  "Where else would I have been but beside my bitch?"


"Welcome."  He gave him another squeeze.  "Any ideas on what's going to happen?"

"Not yet," Bobby said.  "I haven't heard anything."

"We stopped in to check on the Epps family," Xander admitted.  "He groaned but said thanks for the pre-warning.  Angel said he hasn't heard and it's not anywhere in the lower classes he would normally associate with.  This is the higher demons, like you guys hunt.  The ones who possess not the ones who look funny."

"It'd have to be something massive if he's picked other heirs," Missouri said.

"Heirs?" Xander asked.  "Why say heirs instead of proteges or helpers?"

She stared then blinked.  "I don't know."

He looked at her.  "If you had to pick an area to guard about then, where would it be, priestess?"

"Around Bobby's."  She made herself not think.  "Something like an artifact but not moveable."

"That gives us an area to look around," Bobby said.  "I can put word out."  John nodded.  "Not a bad question, kid."

"Is Glory involved?" Xander asked.

She shook her head.  "If she succeeds, it won't matter what happens in three years.  She wants to go home.  Even the demons are taking bets on who wins that one and thinking about jumping in on the light's side."

"We know.  We also know where the key is."  She blinked.  He smirked.  "Anyway."  He looked back at Dean.  "You know, if we were in our normal lives, one of us would've ended up having the key as our kid."

"That is the sort of trouble you two bring," Dean agreed.  He pinched him.  "No kids, Xander."

"Sure."  He grinned at Missouri.  "As a former priestess, why did everyone want to stop me and Sammy from getting together?"

"Your kids would've been horrible.  Either a harbinger of doom and another realm war or the most prefect priest ever.  We couldn't take that chance.  How did you two meet anyway?"

"I was hunting down a war band from a clan that had tried to take over a smaller village in the realm and shake it down for treasure.  I had nearly gotten there when another clan's war party about to do the same thing showed up and got me.  They were going to hand me to the other one to negotiate.  They were forming an alliance when Dean's guard troop found the meeting and broke it up.  I said thank you, told them what had happened; they helped me get stuff back to that village.

"By then, Faith had heard I was captured so she and her band were coming to rescue me with Horatio.  Horatio thanked him and said to come back to the palace.  That sort of action got rewarded with an alliance of some sort.  Faith fell in lust with Dean.  I was liking Sammy but Stella had a hissy on me about it.  So I backed off and Sam blushed at her a lot.  We got back there; Mac and Jethro agreed with their father that an alliance marriage would be good for both parts.

"Since Faith and Dean were getting gushy it was thought about but we had the right to choose.  Dean and I shared a love of weapons.  We were in the armory getting away from the wailing aunts and mothers who were going into froo-froo decoration overdrive.  Faith and Sam were doing katas.  Someone pointed out that the heat she felt wasn't as good as the calmness he could inspire in her.

"They came in just after Dean kissed me for letting him play with a major toy we had in there.  So they locked us in our rooms as was standard.  Two weeks later we came out and Sam was gushy and gooey over Faith.  She decided he was okay in bed and she could teach him the rest.  He proved it by pouncing her to prove he was better than she thought in front of others.  Dean and I shrugged and agreed.  We grew closer over the two years of marriage we had.  We were both pretty hot tempered and blooded.  Instead of yelling we turned it into sex."

"Sam was the king of pouncing her," Dean agreed.  "Even in the overlord's suite one night."

"He wanted her to spawn," Xander said dryly.  "Seems fitting he gave up his bed for a night."  Dean pinched him. "Hey!  No boyfriend abuse."

"Shut up, Xander.  I'm not abusing you.  I'm correcting your funny thought processes."

John shook his head with a light moan.  "Not this again.  Boys!"

"Yeah?" they asked with a grin.

"Stop it."

Bobby laughed.  "It's good to see Dean giddy in love, John."

"I am not," Dean defended.  "I don't do giddy or mushy."

"Especially not in bed," Xander said, patting him on the knee.  Dean bit him this time, making him yelp.  "Hey!  You weren't possessed by a primal spirit!  Only I get to bite."

"She only licked," he said dryly.  He smirked evilly.  "I've got to take you somewhere to teach you how to please me better, Xander."

"Only if you take the same lessons, Dean.  I'm not the only bottom in this 'ship."

Dean blushed, coughing some.  "Maybe."

"No maybe about it.  I'm not going on my back until there's some reciprocation."

"You can be on top.  I'm told riding it is more fun."

"Uh-huh.  Whoever told you this is whacked in the head.  We're equal or as soon as we've got head fins again you're getting knocked up."

"Hey!" Dean complained.  "No fair!"

"Boys!" Missouri shouted, blushing bright red.  "Please?"

"What?" they complained in unison.

Xander looked at Dean again.  "You want blown that badly, buy a pump."

Dean glared at him.  "I don't need toys.  That's why I have you."

"Really?  Think I'm a toy?" he said, giving him an evil look.

"No," Dean said.  He realized he was treading on thin ice.  "I meant to replace all the stuff you could and should be doing."

Xander popped him on the side of the head.  Then he stomped off.  "You're not getting any again for a very long time, Dean."

"That's not fair!" he called.  "Why punish both of us?"

"Because my hand likes me more than you do and it respects me."

Dean slumped, shaking his head.  "I'm not taking very well to gay life."

"He's not a sex toy, son.  He's your husband.  Your other half.  You should be willing to give and receive pleasure from him like your mother did with me."  Dean blushed, then shuddered all over, stomping off in a different direction.  "Don't you dare take off either."  Dean headed away from the car.  He went to disable the car for a little bit.  Bobby laughed.  "Dean will learn to apologize," he said as he brought back the distributor cap.  "Eventually.  I did.  He can too."

"Even if his boy is more stubborn than Mary?" Bobby taunted.

"You have *no* idea.  The boy's more stubborn than I am."  Bobby cackled, slapping him on the back.

"He draws worse trouble too," Missouri said with a point.  "Like bear cubs."  John and Bobby took off running that way.  "Dean, your boy's about to be eaten," she called.

"I hope the girl's sick with something," he called back.

"By a bear, boy."  Dean took off running too.  She shook her head, sitting down at the picnic table to recuperate from being in contact with Xander's mind.  He did have some strong suction in there.

"A bear cub is not a pet," John yelled.  "Put it down!   Before the parent eats you!"

Missouri moaned, holding her poor, aching head.  That boy was going to drive all the Winchesters nuts.  She could see why Sam had chosen Faith.  She was more sane the last life.  At least a little bit.  Xander stomped back escorted by Bobby.  "He all right?"

"The little sucker scratched him a few times but it was caught in some plastic and barbed wire.  He was removing it to toss out.  Then it decided it loved him for it.  Was gonna adopt him.  Take him home to Mama bear for dinner."  He put the boy down at the table.  "We all know Dean's your toy, not the other way around."

"I don't need toys," he said with a pout.  "Except my leggos.  I need to get more leggos."

"I'm sure you do," Bobby agreed.  For some reason he wanted to smack the kid's parents around.  "Make Dean buy you leggos."

"He said he wouldn't."  He pouted at John.  "Tell him me buying comic books and leggos is perfectly normal."

"Can't do that.  I didn't let the boys have them."  He sat Dean down beside his mate.  "Apologize, Dean."

"I'm sorry I said you were my toy.  You're not a toy.  I'm there for more than the sex, Xander."

Xander stared at him.  "How forced was that?"

"I know you're not.  I do wish you'd learn how to do it a bit better."

"Who said I didn't?  I'm still not just your bitch."

"I know.  We'll work on that."

"Thank you."  He leaned on him.  Dean gave him an odd look.  "Yes, I'm cuddly.  You do have to put up with it."

"You weren't before."

"Maybe that's because Mac was a better parent than Willow was," John said bluntly.

"It could be that I just want cuddled," Xander said.  Dean let him snuggle into his side, patting im on the back.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, Xander."  He resisted the urge to kiss him on the top of the head.  His father rolled his eyes.  "I'm sure Missouri's tired of us making out in front of her, Dad."

"It's good to see young love," she said with a grin of her own.  "It helps heal the world."

Dean kissed Xander on the top of the head, getting a look up.  "I was trying hard not to be mushy."

"I don't mind some mushiness."

"I do.  It makes me feel like Sammy, all girly and shit."

"He's one of the most masculine guys we know and he cuddles, Dean," John said.  "I doubt you'd make it too much longer without learning how to be mushy in private and around the family."

"He's fine the way he is as long as he doesn't try to block me from snuggling in," Xander said.  "He wouldn't be Dean if he suddenly got mushy."

"Doesn't go with the muscles at all," Dean teased.  He felt so...guilty all of a sudden and he didn't know  why.  He pulled Xander closer and it felt better.  "What did you learn to do?" he asked in his ear.  Xander just looked up at him with a half-smile.  "Xander?"

"Maybe you'll see some day."

"I'd better."

"We'll see."  He went back to snuggling in.  He was starting to drift off for a nap, he was tired after all day in the car, when he felt a nudge to his hand.  He woke up more.

"Just me, kid," Bobby said.  "Sleep."  He walked around them to get himself a drink from the ice chest John had brought with him.  He turned back around and found a suspicious lump in Xander's lap under his shirt.  "Did you somehow make him pregnant that fast, Dean?"  Dean snorted and finished waking up, looking down where Bobby pointed.

"What the hell?"  He poked it and it growled.  Xander growled back.  It shifted and settled in again.  Dean moved the collar of Xander's t-shirt.  Xander blinked up at him.  "Don't move.  A growly something is cuddling you too."

"You are very growly at times."  He shifted but the fur on his stomach stopped him.  He looked down his shirt.  "Am I better than the mommy bear?  I have less fur."  It huffed and snuffled him then cuddled in better.

"Let me call a ranger," John said.  He found his phone in the truck and called.  "Hi, I'm in Wilderness Walking Park and there's a small bear cub cuddling up to someone.  Not attacking, cuddling, sir.  Earlier the comfortable stomach had removed some plastic and barbed wire wrapped around its foot.  I didn't get there in time.  Xander, was it cuddly before then?"

"Came over to where I was sitting to snuggle into my lap," Xander called.  "Should I pet it?  It's head butting me."

"Gently," Bobby said.  "They can break that behavior too since it's already too friendly."  Xander nodded, pulling his arm inside his shirt to pet the head gently.  The cub huffed but liked it because he licked his fingers and went back to sleep.

John hung up and joined them.  "He'll be here within fifteen minutes."  That got a nod from everyone.  "It's adorable."

"If we could get his shirt off and take pictures even Buffy would coo," Dean said.  Xander spit at him.  "She would.  Faith too probably."  He went to get his camera and came back to take a picture of the cub and 'mommy'.  It was so adorable and the sort of trouble Xander could get into on his own.  The ranger pulled up and hopped out.  "Easy.  It's trying to nap."  He got out of the way, which got him growled at.  "Okay, I'll sit here and block the sun for you."

The ranger came around his other side, looking down.  "It climbed into your lap?"

"Originally.  That's when I saw the barbed wire and plastic around his back paw.  I didn't touch the monitoring bracelet."  That got a nod.  "I checked the injuries, they were pretty recent.  It came in and snuggled.  My friends showed up and put it off to the side of the clearing since I don't know what to do with anything bigger than a dog.  We came back here.  It apparently snuck up while I was napping on Dean's shoulder."

"I don't remember seeing it sneak," John said.  "I've hunted animals for years."  The cub growled when Xander's hand quit petting.  "That's a whole other problem."

"Someone stupid may've had it as a pet," the ranger said.  He picked it up, letting it sniff him while he petted it.  "How about my fingers?  I do it pretty well, huh?  You're a bit smaller than average but you'll do."

Xander pulled it down to nuzzle.  "Go with the nice ranger.  He'll find you a good home."  He dug out a sandwich to hand over.  The cub growled, attacking it like it was starved.  John handed over another two.  "There you go.  Happy meals to go."  He smiled and scratched an ear.  "Have a good trip, little bear."

The ranger smiled.  "We'll find him a good home to recalibrate him to the woods, sir."  He walked him back to the truck.   The cub didn't like the back.  "I know it smells like a dead deer.  I had to pick up one earlier."  He slid it into the front seat, putting the food down next to it.  Then he climbed in to drive him back to the local humane society.  Their vets could treat any injuries.  This report was going to amuse his boss a lot.  They needed to find the parent before she became enraged and if there had been a human keeper they needed to arrest them.  He walked the little one inside.

"Get me some food, Millie.  Little one's starved.  Had three ham sandwiches on the way here."  She got him some wet dog food and the cub decided it was food too after a few sniffs.  "Crawled into some guy's lap.  He noticed one of the back feet had barbed wire and plastic.  He removed it.  Some friends put the cub on the edge of the clearing so it wouldn't follow them back to their picnic spot.  It tracked him down to cuddle under his shirt for head rubs."  He heard a growl so he petted the ears gently.  The cub liked that, tipping his head.  "Got an itchy spot?"  He scratched it.

The vet shook her head.  "He's real friendly."

"He was nuzzling the guy under his shirt.  They took pictures and gave him sandwiches for the trip."

"That's fine.  It won't hurt him.  Plenty of bears have survived on garbage."  She got her stethoscope to start the exam.  "Not too bad.  We'll have to check for parasites while you call the local rehab center."  That got a nod.  She got on with the exam and let the cub finish eating.  Clearly starved.  They put more food in with him and it was good.  The ranger went to make his call while she noted what had happened.  Someone had hand-raised that bear.  Someone was in deep trouble with the law.


Tony looked at the new message that pinged his computer.  "Hey, boss, email from Dean with an attachment."  He looked at it, then smiled, putting it up on the main screen.  Gibbs looked and had to smile.  It was so cute!  "He said the cub picked Xander to own it.  Followed him back to cuddle under his shirt.  The rangers had to come pick it up.  Little thing wanted to nap and be petted."

"That's too cute," he agreed.  Tony removed the picture when he saw the director.

"Why would a bear pick a human?" Ziva asked.  "That's not normal."

"It's likely it was abandoned or lost.  It figured Xander was a good surrogate and a good source of food," Gibbs told her.

Tony went back to the email.  "It says that the cub originally found Xander in a clearing after they'd had another fight about the 'not gay' thing."  Gibbs groaned, shaking his head.  "The cub crawled in his lap there.  Xander found barbed wire and plastic around its leg so he removed it.  The hunters they were meeting with took it to put off to the side so they could take Xander safely away before a mama bear got there.  It followed them back and snuck into Xander's lap while he took a nap against Dean's shoulder.  Snuck under his shirt without waking Xander."

Gibbs shook his head.  "Only Xander."

"Poor cub.  Are they going to have to put it down?" Kate asked.  "It sounds too friendly to live in the wild."

"They have rehabilitation centers for wildlife," McGee told her.  "They can get it used to living alone without people.  If not, it might end up in a zoo or something like that.  Depends on the funds and the bear I guess."

The director walked over.  "What was that picture of?"  Tony put it back up.  Even she had to smile at that.  "It's cute."

"It decided Xander was his mommy and food giver," Tony said with a grin.  "It looks pretty young."

"This time of year it'd be about three to four months old," Gibbs agreed.  "Send that to the others?"

"Sure, boss."  He forwarded that on.  "Horatio's email is bouncing."  He texted his phone, getting that ID so he could send it to his CSI's blackberry.   He made sure it went to Sam's email account too.  He got back an 'aww' from Sam.  "Sam sent back a coo."

Gibbs shook his head.  "The kids are insane," he muttered.  "Get back to work, DiNozzo."

"I sent it to you, boss."  Gibbs got into his email to proofread his report.  He printed it, adding it to the folder.  "Thanks, boss."  He grinned.

"Don't let it go to your head, DiNozzo."

"I won't."  He got back to his surfing for more interesting things.  The director looked at him.  "My backlog's done, ma'am.  Until our next case I'm doing personal research."

"More naked women sites?" she asked.

"No.  Not this week."  He went back to it.  Dean had sent what they thought was happening to him to look up.  He had shared with Fornell, who had his researchers looking too.  There had to be something on what was going on in three years.  They needed to stop it now, before things got out of hand.  The director came to look over his shoulder.  "It's in Latin, Director."

"I can see that.  Why?"

"It's a research site.  I'm looking up something for someone."

"Anything on that?" Gibbs asked.

"Not yet, boss."  He went back further, finding something.   "Or maybe not."  He sent it to his boss, who looked then nodded.  "That's in the right area.  It's about the right time."

"Send it to Dean and Xander."  He did that.  Dean sent back that his number translating sucked, that was the ascension.

"No, that was the ascension."  Gibbs shuddered.  "At least they had some warning, boss."  He went back to it.  He did find one and sent it to Dean.


Dean looked down at his phone when it popped up a new message, hitting that sight on the computer in front of him.  "Bingo."

"Not an old lady," Xander mumbled.

"Are you coming down sick?  You've been napping for the last week."

"It's the last of the poison being fought," John said as he came over to look.  He read it then nodded slowly.  "That's it."  He called Bobby.  "I'm sending you something.  Okay, we're still at the motel.  Come see us then."  He hung up.  "He'll be right over.  That doesn't look good."

"No," Dean agreed.  "It doesn't."  He got up to let Bobby in.  "Mile square devil's gate?"

"There is?"

"Yeah.  Built by Samuel Colt."  He came over to read it.  "Looks like it's got a time code."

Bobby paged down, nodding.  "That's it then."  He looked at Dean.  "Good work."

"Tell Tony, he found it."

"I can do that," John said.  They took it to read over, not liking this in the least.  "If he needs a minion to open it...  It has to be someone tainted.  What's the key they need?"

"Not Glory's key," Xander said with a yawn.

"No, not Glory's key," Dean said.  "Another gateway's key.  It's a physical lock and key."

"Go look at the opening.  See if you can destroy it."  He sat up, yawning again.  "I don't feel so good."

"That's the last of the poison weeding itself out, Xander.  Call Giles to get what was in the antidote."  He nodded, going to the bathroom to get that from him.  Willow sent it with a box of brownies and a soda.  He smiled.  "You're so spoiled."

"Slightly."  He took the antidote and drank the soda, nibbling on a brownie but he was nice enough to share with his sweets deprived boyfriend.   He wasn't sure which one of them had the worst sweet tooth but Dean was going to snatch the brownies from him if he didn't offer him a bite.  He held one up, getting a look back.  He nibbled on the other side then licked his thumb before holding it up again.  Dean leaned down to take a bite, getting a grin back.  "She's guilt baking again.  I have no idea why."

"She probably realized she was being a pain in the ass."  He got another bite then smirked and took a kiss.  "Feeling better?"

"Less pukey, more sleepy."

"Take a nap if you need it," Bobby said.  "Just so I don't have to see the mush," he muttered.  John laughed.  "Dean, you still having problems with the gay thing?"

"Only that I don't get blown, stroked, or ridden.  I can do without being called baby, honey, or oh you stud, but it'd be nice if maybe I could get the first three."

"Baby, you do me and I'll try you," Xander shot back, earning an evil look from John.  "What?"

"You two are horrible."

"Well, yeah," Dean agreed with a smirk.  "Thank you."  His phone rang.  "Yeah, it's me."  He listened.  "Willow, why are you babbling at me about guns?"  He looked at Xander.  "Buffy went on a rampage in our apartment?"

"I locked that armory door and I had Tara reinforce it magically then added a spell I bought from a chaos guy in LA."  He licked his fingers clean.  "She manage to get in?"

Dean listened.  "No.  So she trashed the bedroom."

"I'm so spanking," Xander said dryly.  He took the phone.  "Can I come back for a minute?"  He grinned.  "Please?  I was wondering why I got the good guilt brownies.  No, you get her out of my place and keep her out of my place.  I don't care if she is going on a Buffy fit.  She can do it at Willie's.  Because most of those are Dean's and I will let Dean and John paddle her like her mother should have.  Am I clear?"  He grinned.  "Good."  He hung up then looked around and put one of the portals up over the bathroom door.  He walked through and out the other side, picking up Buffy and carrying her out.  He dropped her the last three steps and stared down at her.  "Out, now," he growled.  "Our stuff is not your stuff."

Dean came out, crossing his arms over his chest, staring down at her.  "You do know that we can beat you to death for trying to touch our guns?"  She hopped up but he pushed her back down.

"That is not the slayer way!"

"Well, it's the Winchester way and we survive a whole lot longer than Slayers."  He stared down at her.  "Beyond that, it's damn handy when you're being attacked."  He hauled her up and back through the portal, taking it down for a minute so Xander didn't have to see them correcting her like Joyce should have.  Ten minutes later they led her back wailing and crying.  Dean smiled at Xander, taking a kiss.  "Let me take her back to Joyce.  Go check on that.  Thank you for telling us she was having an issue, Willow.  And for the brownies, they're very good."

"I made them for Xander."

"I stole a few bites," he said with a grin.  She blushed and hurried off.  Dean walked Buffy to the gallery her mother owned, handing her over.  "She tried to break into our apartment's special room so she could go to the pawn shop."

"Why is she crying?"

"Dad got her like she needed this time."

Joyce gaped.  "He did what?"

"Beat her ass.  She broke into our apartment, tried to break into the gun cabinet so she could sell them, and then tried to defend it."  Joyce glared at her daughter.  "Frankly, with her 'you're a normal guy' thing she had the night before we left for a meeting?"  Joyce glared harder at her daughter, who shrank back.  "We like Buffy.  We respect Buffy.  She's not allowed in our place again without supervision."

Xander strolled in.  "Where's my hunting knife?"  Buffy slowly backed up.  "Buffy?  Where is my blessed silver hunting knife?  The one I take on patrols."

"You don't need it!"

"Bull.  Because I *so* think you can take on a hell goddess on your own."  Buffy stepped back another step.  "Where is it?"

"The shop on twelfth," she said timidly.

"Buffy Ann Summers!" her mother shouted.  "How could you!"

"He shouldn't be doing that!  It's going to lead to conflict some day."

"Like you had when you were dating Angel?" Xander suggested, crossing his arms over his chest.  He didn't realize it but he was mimicking Dean's pose nearly exactly.  "Tell me, Buffy.  What happens if Willow's turned?"

She went pale.  "I can't," she whispered.

"Um huh.  Or Giles I'm expecting?"  She shook her head.  "Then thank god some of us can.  Now, get your head out of your ass, Buffy.  I'm the same guy I was at graduation and I was more than competent enough then, guns and all."  She fled into her mother's office.

"I'll make sure she gets your knife back for you, Xander, and anything else she stole," Joyce said.

He kissed her on the cheek.  "Thank you.  How are you feeling?"

"I'm all right."  She stroked their cheeks.  "Go back to your meeting."

"We're talking with the other hunters about why demons like Xander and Sammy so much."  She smiled at that.  "Be safe, Joyce.  Dad left you some ass to beat too."  He walked out with Xander, going back to the motel in Kansas.  Xander took down the portal and put it away.  "Her mother has her and she'll be getting back all our stuff very shortly."

"Good," John agreed.  "She gonna beat her?"

"Probably," Xander agreed.  He laid down again, turning on the tv but down when he got glared at.  He fell asleep there, letting them figure things out while he felt miserable.

"What was it that got him?" Bobby asked.  Dean found a picture on his phone of it, handing it over.  "That's an ugly sucker."

"That's after it pinned Xander to the ground to choke him, nearly killed Buffy too.  Dad got it."

"Thank God for that."  He handed the phone back.  "Now what do we do?  If this is what's going on, then we've got to stop it."

"Blow up the gateway?" Dean suggested.  "So it can't open?"

"Could open it up instead," John said.

"If it has a key," Dean started.  Xander let out a belch then moaned and headed for the bathroom.  "You okay?"

"Peachy keen."  He slammed the bathroom door.

"Nasty poison," Bobby said.

"Yes it is," John agreed.  "That's his third dose of anti-toxin."

"If they were breeders, maybe he's pregnant," Bobby teased.

Dean looked at him.  "Don't even joke about that."  He went to check on Xander but the door was locked.  "Want some water?"

"No.  I'm good."

"Okay."  They went back to planning.  They had to look at that gateway first then plan.


Horatio looked up as someone walked into his office.  "What can I do for you, Rick?"

"You can tell me why that young guy was listed as having had some weapons destroyed that were in his property."

"He found some in his town.  A mutual friend made him turn it over."  He went back to work.  While he was gone his boss had apparently thought up ten extra forms for him to do every week.  "We knew he wasn't going to use it but you never know what may happen."

"He *found* it?  Just laying around?"

Horatio looked up.  "His town is fairly dangerous."

"I noticed that when I looked it up."

"He's on the hometown protection patrol."

"They didn't mind that he found them?"

"They're mostly other teenagers.  They're not well organized.  The boy found them and confiscated them from the person who used to have them."

"Their police didn't handle it?"

"I'm not sure they have a police department.  No, they do.  Buffy was saying the detective who tried to get her for capital murder for killing the robot attacking her mother and her was just promoted."

"Excuse me?"

"Apparently it was rather lifelike," he said dryly.  "It had hit her and was going for her mother so she pushed it down the stairs.  The department out there thought it was a person until it came back from the dead and she had to take it further apart."


"I do not know."


"I do know that they do not come out at night.  I do know that they don't pay a lot of attention.  I also know it has the highest per capita incidences of deaths while barbequing, animal attacks, and apparently the whole town is swimming in PCP.  I saw a breakdown of their statistics."  He got into his computer, finding them.  He turned the screen around.  "That's the same town."

Rick walked over to look over it then at him.  "The hometown patrol are vigilantes?"

"Not really.  More irritated at the high death rate."

"That wasn't a gas explosion, was it?"

"No.  It was an attack.  The same team defended the graduating class from it.  The explosion was necessary to kill something going for them.  The sinking in later was due to a local problem that they didn't expect to get involved."

"That's why you went out?"

"Xander is like my nephew."

"Oh."  He nodded slowly at that.  "So you went to help?"

"Yes I did.  So did the others."

Rick looked then at him.  "What really happened?"  Horatio found that piece of footage and let him see it.  He watched, shuddering.  "Oh, god.  What is that?"

"A pure demon from what I'm told.  A very large one."

"I can tell that."  He looked at Horatio again.  "You didn't look so bad."

"Thank you."  He smirked.  "They do need someone to revamp the department.  The state's looking for someone."

"I'm not that mean.  I'd start by gutting it and firing them all."

"I'm told they were all dirty to that large worm, who used to be the mayor.  He was also the source of the drugs, guns, and a demonic underground that caused problems.  Now, not all demons are problems.  Plenty of them are peaceful but funny looking so they got classified that way.  Where we disappeared to had some very nice ones.  They simply are bark colored and have a head fin."

"Head fin," he said, then he nodded.   "Why did you go up the last time?"

"To help build some new houses.  There had been an overthrow for about a decade and the people who took over had gutted the town, leaving some very shaky houses.  Someone fell through a wall last year by leaning on it."  Rick shuddered.  "So we were handling a rebuilding push like Habitat does here.  Xander and Dean suggested it when they heard there was a problem.  It's going very well and the town's getting very pretty.  We'll be going back up next weekend as well.  Want pictures?"

"No, that's all right."  He stared at him.  "Are vampires real?"

"Yes.  They're the main threat that Xander and his friends handle out in Sunnydale.  There's apparently multiple species.  That accounts for the differences in the various mythologies."

Rick walked off shuddering.  He didn't want to know anymore.  No wonder the kid *found* weapons.  He was going to drink that knowledge away tonight.  Immediately if he could leave work early.

Horatio smirked, canceling that video and getting back to work.  The look on his face was very pleasing.  Maybe Rick would get the hint and leave him alone for a change.

Yelina came in an hour later.   "Horatio?"  He looked up and sighed, restarting the footage.  She watched, then swallowed.  "I know of them.  I've seen them before."

"Xander and his friends protect the town from the bad ones.  There's plenty that aren't," he said patiently.  "The ones where we disappear to are just funny colored with head fins."

She looked at him.  "How do you know?"

He smiled.  "We did spend considerable time up there, Yelina."

"Oh."  She sat down in his visitor's chair.  "They're not evil?"

"No.  They were classified the same because of where they're from and because they're funny colored."

"I can see how the Church did that."   She licked her lips.  "You aren't bringing my son with you?"

"Not at the moment.  If he finds out and wants to talk about it, he's more than old enough to come talk to me himself."

"I like that," she decided, standing up.  "Now that you're back...."

He held up a hand.  "I'm still going back, Yelina.  They need me now and then.  Right now they're rebuilding the town after a decade of an unjust overthrower taking over. We went up the first time to stop that problem."

"This boy got you involved."

"No, he woke up some repressed memories.  I was already involved.  Recently we've went up to build some new houses and buildings."

She gaped then shook her head.  "You don't have to."

"I do have to.  I'm considered a part of the ruling clan."

"Oh."  She pouted then nodded.  "I would rather Ray Junior was not exposed."

"That is up to him."

"I'm his mother."

"If he comes to talk to me about this matter I will be giving him the truth, Yelina."  He stared her down.  "I won't have my nephew turning into some sort of bigot."  She nodded, walking off.  He sighed, canceling the video again.  This was not going to make him happy.

Eric leaned in.  "First Stetler then he went to get Yelina to nag you?"

"Indeed.  What's wrong?"

"I'm clear."  He brought in his report.  "I'm back down to cold cases so I'll take the next field call.  I've already told dispatch."

"Thank you."  He looked over the report, signed off on it, then put it in his outbox.  "What else is going on?"

"Speed's too busy to make sure you're all right."

"I'm fine at the moment.  Rick found some uncomfortable information.  He came for verification.  When I did, he went to share that with Yelina, who came to check as well.  Then she decided she was upset with it."

"No one ever said the truth is pretty, H," Eric said.

Horatio nodded at that.  "Good point."  He smirked.  "Are you and Mr. Wolfe fighting again?"

"I somehow set off an OCD fit and he ran me off before he got me with a broom."

"I'll see if he wants to talk later, Eric.  Stay out of his way."  Eric nodded, leaving to handle that.  Horatio went to talk to his newest CSI.  He was having problems integrating.  Again.  "Mr. Wolfe."

"Not yet."

He walked in and looked.  "How many more repetitions?"

"Two."  He went back over the table again then one last time.  He stepped back and looked at the boss.  "He sneezed near a sample."

"That does happen to the best of us, Mr. Wolfe."  He patted him on the back.  "Let's talk."  Ryan groaned, hanging his head but nodding.  "You're not in trouble but I do think some desensitization therapy may be helpful so you can ease off on that issue."

"I wasn't like this before I got here."

"Then let's talk over why you feel this way.  We can even go outside since the cleaner is enough to make me gag."  Ryan checked the samples then followed him out to talk to him.  It was needed.  The young man was stumbling and he needed a good hand to help him up.


Don looked at Danny.  He had him handcuffed to a chair.  "Are you possessed?" he demanded.


"Bull!"  Someone knocked so he let Stella in.  "Thank god."  He shut the door behind her.  "He was going to go on a date with Montana."

"Excuse me?"

"Him, who can't stand her, was going to go on a date with her."

"That's not an emergency."

"Can you see it?  Even last week?"

She considered it.  "No, I can't.  That's an abrupt change of attitude."

"He says he's not possessed."

"That's why you wanted the holy water Xander gave me."  She dug it out of her purse, handing it over.  They splashed it on Danny.  He yelped in pain.  "That's a bad sign."  She called Dean.  "Hi, Dean.  It's Stella.  Slight problem.  Danny's possessed we think.  Abrupt change of attitude toward someone.  Someone he can't stand and suddenly they're going out on a date.  I did splash him with the holy water Xander got me.   He yelped."

"That's because it was cold," Danny protested.

"What do we do?"  She smiled, taking down the number he got from his father.  "Thanks, Dean."  She hung up and called it.  "Hi, I'm Detective Stella Bonasera and I got your number from John Winchester.  Because we think someone's possessed.  He yelped at holy water."  She gave him Don's address.  "We have him in handcuffs.  Thank you."  She hung up and settled in.  "This is interesting.  Why use Danny to get to Lindsay?"

"Don't know.  Think it's a vendetta thing or think they want her?" Don asked.

"No clue."  She looked at Danny.  "Well?  Got an opinion?"

"Is it possible I just wanted to talk with her?  Maybe ease the working relationship some?"

"Danny, how many times have you and Mac or you and I had dinner?" Stella asked.

"None but I have it with Don all the time."

"You and Don are best friends.  We'd expect that.  You suddenly going to a nice place with Lindsay is weird."

He rolled his eyes.  "Still not possessed."

"We'll see, huh?"

"It could be the last life that's making me yelp."

"Doesn't make me," Don said.  He grinned.  "Or else I'd have yelped all the way through Mass."

Danny grumbled but let it go for now.  They'd see he wasn't possessed when the hunter got there.


Mac looked up the next morning, going to stop Danny from logging in.  "You look like hell."

"I feel like hell," he muttered.  "Had a long night cuffed to Don's chair."


"He was possessed," Stella said, patting him on the back.  "He's better now."

"Go nap somewhere, Danny.  I'll give you a few hours to recover."  Danny nodded, going to do that.  He looked at her.  "He was?"

"Yeah, he was.  Don found him about to go out on a date."

Mac sighed, shaking his head.  "With?"  She glanced around then gave him a look.  "Lindsay?" he asked quietly.  She nodded.  "Why?  They don't work well together."

"The demon wouldn't say."  She walked off.  "It's fine now.  One of John's contacts came to help us."

"That's good to know."  He went back to his office.  He didn't want to think about that sort of demon.  It always made his head hurt.


Faith looked at the information Dean had sent them, frowning at it.  She looked around.  "Of course, he's in history class," she said dryly.  She left him a voicemail.  "Sam, me.  Dean and X left us some intel on why you."  She hung up.  He'd come home soon.  She went to make herself lunch, coming out to find Sam walking in.  "Hey, Studly.  How was the test?"

"Boring, the same as the class."  He pointed at the computer, getting a nod.  He settled in to read it, frowning some.  "That kinda sucks."

"Yeah, but it's good to know."

"Anything on the three year issue?"

"Only got into it when I found that.  Tell me who else wrote."  She went back into the kitchen.

He got into the main inbox.  "The viagra people three times.  Didn't know you needed that sort of help, Faith."

"Not even close, Sammich.  Send it to Dean.  He's apparently having problems pleasing Xan."  Sam leaned over to look at her.  "He's trying to make Xander learn how to be his butt boy but not turning it around."

"Dean's going to have to get over it."  He kept reading.  "Hmm.  The Cialis people too.  And the Enzyte people.  Why do they like you, Faith?  I don't need them yet."

"You'd better never need it."

He grinned.  "It's a good sign that Dad doesn't."

"That's a very good sign.  Anything other than smut from where I was surfing porn."

"Um, yeah.  One from Buffy, one from Willow, both with 'I'm sorry' in the header.  And one from Xander."  He got into that one.  "No, that's a joke."  He put it back.  She came out.  "He said there's a devil's gate a few hours from Bobby's house.  Has to be a joke.  We'd have all heard of it."

"Not necessarily."

He shook his head, going back further.  "Bear picture?"  He got into it and grinned.  "Awww."

"I sent back a joint aww from us."

He read the email with a grin.  "The things Xander can get into."

"And you."

"And me," he agreed.  He kept going, thinking hard about something.  "Hey, Faith?"  She came out of the kitchen with her sandwich.  "What do I do if I find the girl this life was supposed to hit on?"

"Some snappy cheerleader sort?"

"Sorority sister but no."  He handed over his phone.  "The last picture.  Hitting on me horribly and while it was nice, I know I have greatness here."

She looked then at him.  "What's her name?"

"Jess.  She's in about half of my classes right now."  He looked at her.  "I think something meant to set us up."

"You like blondes?" she teased.

"Yeah, but that's a purely biological response.  I like you more because you suit me and understand me.  Even when I have nightmares about hunting you understand.  She never could.  Before you ask, no I couldn't date Buffy.  She's way too...fashionable and nice for me.  Nice is good but she's too much a stick-in-the mud to have fun when I need to and wouldn't make the ordinary things fun like you do."

"Nice sucking attempt, Sam."  She kissed him on the head.  "Why else do you think something's setting you up?"

"Three of the guys I know introduced me to her today."

"That's a good sign of higher power interference.  For what reason?"  Her phone rang.  "No one I know is that psychic."  She answered it.  "Hello?  No, this is Faith, his girlfriend."  She smirked at Sam.  "He was telling me he had met you but he hasn't made it home for lunch yet, Jess.  Nah, I don't mind.  Buddies do things like that.  Since most of his haven't met me, of course they'd try.  Hey, be friends with Sam.  He needs more good friends."  She grinned.  "Not an issue, I'm not jealous.  Only if I caught you two together and then I'd kill you both in a horrible manner that would make most cops puke."  Sam beamed at that and went back to eating.  "Sure, we can have dinner later if you want.  Nope, Sam's cooking or ordering.  My fingers were worn down with making him a sandwich.  Nine's good.  See you then, Jess."  She hung up.  She checked to make sure it was hung up.  "Yeah, someone's setting you two up."

"Pity I have a woman."  He pulled her closer to kiss her.  "You'd really do it in a way that would make cops puke?"

"And make Dean beg later on to not have heard."

"Good."  She gave him an odd look.  "If I stray like that I want to be killed messily as a warning to others."

She beamed.  "You're goofy.  Finish eating."  She gave his head a nudge.  He pulled her down to nibble on her.  "I'm not lunch.  You'll miss your afternoon class."

"It's PE.  Fuck it."  He pulled her into his lap, moving the computer and plate out of his way so he could have his next infusion of Faith.  She needed the reassurance and he liked giving it to her.  Even if the neighbors did pound on the floor about the noise.  He looked up.  "Tough!  She's enjoying it!"  He went back to it, making her laugh.  Then squeal and shout some more.  He finally got to please himself and Faith was limp when he left with the rest of his lunch for PE.  If he jogged he might get there in time.  It wasn't like it was far, only a mile.  He could do that, eat, and call Dean to get his opinion on the matter.  He was a talented boy after all.

Faith pulled herself off the table and went to nap on the couch.  The only thought she could wrangle together was 'damn'.


Dean hung up.  "Someone's trying to set Sammy up with a nice, good girl sort named Jess on campus."

"Bet Faith's pissed."

"Nah, she knows.  Sammy told her.  Jess even called the house, talked to Faith.  Faith pointed out Sam could have friends but she'd kill her if she poached and then him.  I told him to avoid the girl for a bit.  See if it calms it down."

"Why set him up?" Bobby asked.

"To give the demon something to make him ache and get back with whatever plan he has in three years?" Xander suggested from the couch.  He still felt like hell.

Dean looked over.  "You're taking an EPT, dude."

"I'm not a breeder in this life.  Otherwise I'd be with someone like Cordelia."

"Pretty but mean?" Dean teased.  "I fit that.  I am handsome and I do pull a mean prank."

"I hate being pranked.  I was the buttmonkey of them in junior and high school.  I will retaliate and you will be very sorry," Xander mumbled then yawned.

"EPT or see if it's something Willow did," John ordered.

Xander got up and found the portal, putting it up so he could go back to the castle.  He ran into the guards.  "Problems?  No one's called in weeks."

"One of the town's elders is having his wedding today."

"That's fine.  Dean thinks I'm sick or magicked."

"Go to your room, I'll send someone."  Xander nodded, sneaking around the celebration to go collapse on his bed.  He went to find the guard that knew magic, sending him to Xander.  Anything Rosenburg had done, he could undo or would know who could.  The guard came jogging back and down to town so something had happened.  He saw Dean strolling through.  "Your room, sir."

"Thanks.  What's up?"

"Wedding for one of the village's elders."

"That's cool.  They have mine and Xander's blessing on it."  That got a smile and Dean snuck around the back way so he could get Xander some juice.  It seemed to make him feel better.  He got there about the same time as the local teacher of the gifted.  He bowed to him.  "Thanks."  He handed Xander the juice, getting a sniff and him drinking it.  "The headache come back?"

"Yeah."   Dean made him sit up and drink so he wouldn't spill anything.  "Sorry to interrupt the happies."

"Not a problem.  I wasn't invited to the wedding party, Guardian.  What attacked you last?"  Dean found the picture in his phone, handing it over.  "Ah.  Not that bad."

"He's had the anti-venom four times," Dean said.  "He keeps getting worse.  Dad said it was this or an EPT."

"EPT?" the teacher asked.

"Pregnancy test," the guard said, then coughed.  "I didn't think human males could."

"Us either," Dean said.  "But this is a lot like morning sickness from what I understand."

The teacher smiled.  "Let me see.  My student said he found magical traces."  He took off the necklace blocking the hellmouth's taint from flowing off, noticing the improvement.  He tested the young man and snapped the spells he found on him.  Including one that made him groan and hold his head.  "He should not have that problem with the blockage anymore."

"Blockage?  The memory block?" Dean asked.  "I thought we cured that."

"He had one blocked from his present life," the teacher said.  He looked around.  "We need to dump the excess energy off him again."

"Last time the hellmouth taint started to wear out he attracted every bad girl in Miami."

"This time I can get it down further so it's not making him ill."  Dean nodded, going to open up the bathroom for him.  They got him in there under a comfortable shower.  Then he stopped up the drain and used the falling water to 'wash' the power out of him.  "We cannot let this into the drain system. Hellmouth energy is a pollutant."  The guard and Dean got buckets to bail some out to give him more room.  By the time they were done Xander was nearly empty of hellmouth taint that they could feel.  "Some will always remain to mark him as a favored of the hellmouth but not nearly as much and it will help him block out other spirits and stop that witch from bothering him."  The door slammed open.  He looked back.  "This one is naked.  Leave us."

"You always wanted to upstage me," she sneered, stomping in.

Xander gave her a dirty look.  "Move or I'm puking on you."  She gasped and ran away.  He let the rest of the energy out.  He ran into a wall.  "Is it all gone?"

"No, that's your personal reserves where you've sucked it up, young man."

"Long live Sunnydale," he said dryly.  They took out a few more buckets of tainted water and Xander felt better soon enough.  They got him out and dried off, putting the towels with the tainted water.  Dean put him to bed for now, then looked at the teacher.  "I'm better.  Still pukey though."

"That is the poison.  For some reason the anti-toxin is not working.  What bit him?"   Dean showed him the picture.  "What did its face look like?"

"Dad shot it, I was at home with a sprained ankle."

"Purple and pissed off," Xander said.  "Purple mask, gray/green eyes, steam coming out of its nose."

"You probably took out its child or mate."

"Was it not dangerous?"

"No, they're very dangerous.  You do not want them in any town, much less yours since they feed on the hellmouth's bad energy."  He wrote down something for his student to get him, letting him sneak around to the temple to do that.  "Troublesome things, bindings."

"As long as they're happy and content I'm happy for them," Xander told him.  "If that's what floats your boat, it's good for society."

"Very well said."  Someone knocked then walked in.  He whispered in Dean's ear.  "Problems?"

"The new princess told others we're here.  Let me handle that."  Xander gave him a pathetic look.  "You're staying in bed.  Here or at the motel, pick one."  He left, going to the celebration.  He walked up to the couple, nodding politely at her sneer.  "Xander's a bit ill, that's why we snuck up here.  He was fighting with something that got him."  The elder whimpered.  "He's fine.  We're taking care of it.  We didn't want to interrupt, that's why we snuck around."  The elder smiled.  "My mate and I both wish you happiness if this is the one you chose and you find her worthy of you."

"Thank you, Guardian.  I do find her very worthy."

"Then, as my mate just said, it's good for society to see happy couples."  That got a happy, beaming smile.  "We just weeded out some of the hellmouth taint to get the antidote to work.  I've got to get back before he escapes.  Again."  A few of the partiers laughed.  "Many blessings on your womb."  He left, going back there.  Wishing her a lot of kids was mean but nice to everyone else.  A guard gave him an odd look.  "What?"

"She'll be one of those loud, complaining, yelling mothers," he said quietly.

Dean leaned closer to whisper.  "That's her husband's thing."  He smirked back.  "He'll fix the kids so they're his heirs."  The guard snickered, turning to hide it.  "Let me get back to my complaining mate."

"He's not hiding?"

"He's probably trying to."  He walked off that way, heading back to their suite.  Xander was indeed under the covers.  The teacher was giving it fond looks while he mixed.  "Oral?"

"Suppository.  That way it's not diluted by stomach contents or acid."

Dean grimaced. "Eww."

"Very.  He'll need to lay still for at least an hour."

"Can we get it to go?"  Xander whimpered. "You can lay on the motel's couch, Xander."

"Yes, Dean."  He uncovered his head.  "I'm sorry I got jumped by it and wasn't strong enough to beat it.  I won't do it again."

"It happens.  Even I get knocked down and choked now and then."  He patted him on the head, taking the small plastic case with the single lump inside.  "Any precautions?  Should I wear gloves?"

"Probably.  Let it soak in naturally.  It's not too big for him to take."  He gathered things up.  "We will dispose of the hellmouth water for you."  Dean nodded, helping Xander up and into sweats so they could go back to the motel.  He shook his head.  "Such a troubled young one this life.  And a witch that needs to be taught manners."

"It's his best friend, sire.  Rosenburg."

He glared at the doorway.  "That should stop.  You cannot work on the light when that is your issue."  He summoned someone to quietly come up and take care of the hellmouth tainted water.  He could sell it for a lot of money, which they'd split.  His contact came up.  "Taken off the Guardian Xander."

"Interesting.   I've met him."

"Ethan, he is the overlord's nephew.  Plus we must talk on that witch he has around him.  Not since I helped teach you have I seen such chaos around a body."

"Ripper is teaching her."

"Poorly.  I'll talk with the boy myself then."  They got to work draining the water into sealed containers.  "He ran into an Amriti."  Ethan shuddered.  "They tried to take an anti- toxin orally four times but it did not work."

"Poor sot.  That suppository burns."

"Yes but it is necessary."  He heard a cheer and smiled.  "He must have broken his bride in."  Ethan smirked but shook his head.


Dean came out of the portal and took it down, tossing it onto the couch before taking Xander into the bathroom.  He came out to get a set of gloves from the medical kit then went back in.

"Problems?" John asked.

"New medicine."

"Why do we need the gloves?"

"Don't ask, Dad.  Really."  He kicked the door shut, putting Xander against the sink so he could stroke his back and keep him from tensing up too much.  He even teased him a bit to not make him pay attention.  Finally he shoved the hard little ball in.

"Burns," Xander said, shifting.

"It can do that.  You're okay.  That's the nasty crap being eaten."  He helped him back into his clothes then tossed out the gloves.  He walked out to put Xander on the couch, putting the portal back into the bag they kept it in.  Xander curled up and let Dean cover him with a blanket from the bed.  "There.  Better?"  Xander's blanket head nodded.  "Good.  Let me know if you need anything."

"Brownie?"  Dean got one and handed it over.  "Thank you."

"Welcome."  He looked at his father.  His father smirked.  "Remember, some day you'll be old and half your medicines will need to be shoved that way too."

"Most hunters don't live that long."

"But I'm a wonderful son and hunter who'll help you."  John shuddered.

"I'm never jumping one of these again," Xander said from his hiding spot.  "John can shoot the next one too."

"Sure I will, kid."  He patted the covered foot.  "Need anything else?"

"Just to hide."

"You okay?"

"It burns."

"It's the poison being eaten," Dean said.  "The guy said that they feed off hellmouth energy so we need to find more of them to waste."

"We're headed back that way tomorrow."

"Good.  Because he removed about seven or eight spells from Willow."

John gave him an odd look.  "Really?"


"She was probably trying to protect me," Xander said.

"I don't care.  She can ask," Dean said firmly.

"She should but she sees it as a friend's duty."  He uncovered his head.  "We need to find out what they were."

Dean nodded.  "Let me call."  He moved to do that.   "It's Dean.  Ask the guard that was just helping us what the teacher guy removed from Xander in the way of spells please?  We want to take it to Rosenburg to talk to her."  He nodded.  "That's fine.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "He'll ask the teacher since he's up there with a former student named Ethan."

"Ethan Rayne?"

"Yeah.  Why?"

"He's the reason I changed at halloween," he said dryly.  "And the band candy incident that mentally deaged Giles and Joyce until they ended up doing it on the hood of a police car."

Dean shuddered.  "Eww."  He called the Magic Box.  "Anya, is Giles there?  It's Dean.  I'll buy something later.  We're on our way back, want something from Kansas?"  He wrote that down. "I'll see what I can do."  She put Giles on.  "It's us.  The anti-toxin didn't work so we took him to the castle to see if they had a better one.  They do.  It's a suppository.  No, he's not happy."  Xander spit and covered his head back up.  "But a few interesting things came up.  They weeded a lot of hellmouth energy out of Xander.  Under running water and it took about three tubs full.  He and his student Ethan are handling it.  He said that."  He smirked at his father, who smirked back.  They knew Giles had trained for it sometime in the past.  "He's being helpful so I'll leave him alone for now.  Unless he can use it to hurt Xander.  Another issue is those demons feed on hellmouth energy.  If there's more, they've gotta go.  Fast."

"Soon," John agreed.

"Which means she'll need guns to do that.  We'll be back within a week to help her.  Yeah, we'll be fine as long as they don't bite or stab us."  He smiled.  "That'll work.  There's also another issue."  Giles moaned.  "The same guy that was helping us and called Ethan about the tainted water removed a lot of spells.  They're going to come talk to you about it.  Yes, them.  Please.  He's fine.  Hiding.  He'll be fine.  Thanks, Giles.  About a week.  I don't know if there's more.  He thinks that one jumped in because Xander or Buffy took out one of its clan.  Yeah, that's what he said.  He should be.  Let us know?  Thanks, Giles."  He hung up.  "He'll be talking to her once he knows for certain what was removed.  Yes, he trained with him too."

Xander uncovered his head.  "Back in the old days.  Ethan and he were part of a coven that was doing black magic in London.  Then Eyghon happened and someone died so Giles quit and went back to do what his dad wanted.  He was rebelling that way."

John rubbed his face.  "Eyghon?  The Dreamer?"  Xander nodded then covered his head again.  "Why?"

"His dad said he was going to become a watcher and wouldn't let him do anything else.  He wanted to be a grocer or something, or so he told Buffy."

John got the point very well.  His younger son could have went that way.  Sammy would be scary going to black magic.  He moaned, rubbing his head.

"Sammy has more sense," Dean said quietly.  John smiled at him for that.  "Giles being a street thug blows my mind.  I can't see him in a leather jacket."

"Listening to punk music, t-shirt, overshirt around his waist.  Smoking, a pack rolled up in his shirt sleeve.  James Dean punk."

Dean shook his head.  "Still can't see it with the tweed."

"Should've met Wesley," Xander said.  "Even more uptight but when he showed up to bother Angel he was a rogue demon hunter on a harley wearing leather pants and jacket."

"Uh-huh."  Dean shuddered.  John laughed.  "Really, can you see any watcher like that?"

"Nope.  Though, I met Wesley when I checked in with Angel before getting to Sunnydale.  He was a lot less stiff.  Summer cruising suits, glasses, haircut from Fantastic Sam's."

"He got better once he got fired," Xander said.

"Good.  He was kinda stiff," John said.

"Before he was so full of it it wasn't funny but he did try to get Buffy to look at guns and other weapons," Xander said.  "How's he doing with Cordy?  She used to have a lot of lust for him."

"They were bickering like siblings."

"Good.  It's good for her."  He yawned then shifted because the burning was back.  "Eew."

"It'll get better," Dean said.  He sat beside Xander's feet, letting him rest against him.  Each time he shifted he patted him.  It helped and it wasn't that mushy of him.  John smiled at him for it.  He glared at his father for grinning.  "We need to find those demons."

"We do," he agreed.  "I used lead.  It appears it worked."

"We can do that," Dean decided.  "Between the shotguns and the handguns, we'll be good."

"As long as Buffy didn't get them," Xander said quietly.

Dean looked at him.  "She didn't get in.  We both checked."  Xander nodded.  "She won't be doing it again.  I made sure of it by boobytrapping the door."

Xander laughed.  "Good."  He shifted.  Dean stroked his ankle and he settled down.  "I don't like this."

"He said it'd be about three hours," Dean reminded him.  "It's only been a half hour."

"I'm shooting anything that looks like that one."

"You do that," Dean agreed.  His phone rang.  "Yeah?" he asked.  He listened.  "I don't know, Gibbs.  We're not anywhere near there.  Kansas.  Any idea who'd be in Louisiana, Dad?"

"No clue.  What happened?"

"On a base.  Poltergeist started a fire.  Gibbs, look for a guy that reminds you of us."  He said a name.  "I know damn well he is.  Ask him.  Then put him on."  He waited.  "Hey, Dave, Dean and John Winchester.  Gibbs and his senior agent do know about demons.  They know us, they know about the sitch in Sunnydale.  All that.  Let him make any cover story that's necessary.  You get it?"  He grimaced.  "Where's it buried?  Oh, damn.  What do you do when you can't burn the thing that's keeping it?" he asked his father.

"What's keeping it?"

"His Medal of Honor."

"Would an exorcism on it help any?" Xander asked.

"I don't know.  Dad?"  He listened to the phone.  "Xander suggested an exorcism on the medal itself if you're sure it's that.  I don't know.  Find some way to break the link?"

Xander uncovered his head.  "Is it holding him here because he earned it and didn't get it or because he earned it and wants it to pass on?"

"Pass on," Dean said after listening.

"Pass it on in a ceremony, with full honors."

"Hear that, Dave?  Xander Harris.  He's on the team out in Sunnydale and kinda mine.  Long story.  Way long story.  Yeah, that could help.  Then loosen him if he's still holding on.  He may stay to watch over his kids.  Sure, talk to him if you can find someone.  A medium?"  He smiled.  "I'd offer you Xander but we're in Kansas and he's sick."  He nodded.  "Good luck with that.  Yeah, Gibbs and Tony, his senior agent.  Ziva?"

"The one the director stuck on his team.  Mossad agent," Xander said.  "Look in the city. There's a few good practioners according to Giles.  Have him give him a rec."

"That's not a bad idea.  One of the guys Xander works with is formerly Watchers Council."  He winced at the swearing.  "Yeah, them.  He works with Buffy actually.  He knows some people down there.  Let me give you the Magic Box's number.  He can give you a rec.  They might know who can talk to it."  He repeated it and the guy repeated it back.  "Ask for Rupert Giles.  Tell him you're a hunter like we are.  He likes me, dude, I'm cute."  He grinned.  "Good luck.  Don't know about her.  Have no idea about her.  Xander said she's formerly Mossad."

"No, she's currently Mossad.  She's liaising."

"Oh, she's liaising," he said dryly.  "She's still Mossad and Gibbs got her forced onto his team without permission."  He nodded.  "That'll work.  Call if you need more help.  Gibbs has all our numbers, Dave.  Thanks, man."  He hung up.  "They'll be fine."

"It's sad," Xander said quietly.

"Yeah it is," Dean agreed.  "It's sadder that he set a school caf on fire for some bully picking on his kid."

"That's worse but it's still sad that he's trying to hang on to protect his son."

"It is," John agreed.  "I'd do all I could to watch over my boys.  Sammy needs it and Dean needs smacked on the side of the head now and then."

Xander grinned.  "I'll do that for you."

"Thanks, kid.  Try to sleep."

"I can't.  It burns."

"Try anyway.  Let me go outside to see if they need more help."  He took Dean's phone, giving his son a pointed look before leaving.

"I think he wanted you to take my mind off it," Xander teased.

"Yeah, he did."  He pulled him up to kiss him, making him moan.  They kept it at that level.  Not like they could have sex while he had the medicine inside him.


to part 5