Gibbs hung up and looked at the guy.  "Think it'll work?"

"They'd know.  Winchesters deal with a lot more spirits than anything else.  Dean's gay?"

"Long story," Gibbs told him.   He tucked his phone back into his pocket.  "Let's just say it's a past connection that brought them together.  They both complained about it."

Dave shook his shoulder-length hair.  "I don't want to know, do I?"

"No.  But Sam's girlfriend for the same reason is very good.  A bit naughty but good to him.  They're at Stanford.  Full ride."

"We heard Sammy had brains," he said with a grin.

"He does.  Faith's a beautiful young girl."

"Good!"  He looked at the kids involved.  "I hope this works."

Gibbs nodded.  "It will.  Call that Giles guy."

"Watchers Council?  They hate our kind and won't work with us."

"Giles trained Xander, what he got, and they've been in Sunnydale for four years."

"That's a long time for their sort."

"She's got backup in Xander and a few others."

"That gas explosion?"

Gibbs leaned closer.  "An ascension.  It was necessary."

"Oh, shit."

"Yeah.  A lot."   He looked at Ziva.  "Call, get someone."


"The director overruled me," he said.  The hunter nodded and walked off to call, talking to the boy on the way.  He walked over to Ziva.  "We're going to be dealing with things that will be making you feel uncomfortable."


"Because this is going to turn into a religious matter as well.  Including some native religion from the area."  He wished Tony or even McGee was here.  McGee could handle this.  Kate would've snorted and sneered in private but dealt with it quietly in public.  Ziva...  He wasn't sure she could handle it.  He looked back at Dave laughing.  "Good news?"

"Very good news.  We have one."  That got a nod and a smile.  He talked to the boy and his mother, who was still trying to deny it and blame her son but all the evidence said her son wasn't anywhere near the start of the fire across the room from him.  She couldn't fault the surveillance tape.  Their helper showed up an hour later and Gibbs got the base commander to come help them as well.  He banished Ziva at her first hiss.  Dave watched over it all, hand near his rock salt and knife.  The medal was handed to the son with a speech that the captain knew the boy would live up to his father's willpower and strength, and possibly join them some day if he wanted.  The boy said thank you and put it on.  The spirit manifested to look at his son.  His wife sobbed.  He smiled at her, patted his son on the head, told Dave to stand down, that the fire was an accident.  He had no idea how to control it.  The priestess told him how and how to remove himself from the medal and just hang around instead.  He did that and it was over with.  The spirit faded, for now.  The wife and son were hugging.  Dave and the priestess stepped out of the way, back by Gibbs.  "Thanks," Dave said.

"It's hard when you leave them at home.  Even if it's only to go across the state," he said quietly.  "When you die and move away totally it's got to eat you."  He shook his hand.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem, Gibbs.  Let me know if you have more problems and can't find one of the Winchesters."  The priestess gave him an odd look.  "Apparently Dean Winchester hooked up with a guy named Xander, who knows Rupert, who called you."

"I know of Xander.  He's strong, but odd."  Gibbs looked at her.  She smirked.  "Yes, I do know.  Even then he was odd."

"True.  Strong and stubborn too."

"As Dean is.  They'll be horrible spawn some year when you all revert and their spawn come back."  She smirked and walked off.

"Huh?" Dave said.

"There's been a curse in the past that changed some people so they had to be reborn as human," he said quietly.

"Ah, shit," he muttered.  Gibbs nodded.  "No wonder they're hunters."

"They were the Overlord Jethro's guardians before."

"Tough but fair from what I heard.  Not so bad.  Why hunting then?"

"So they could be hunted and sacrificed.  That way they couldn't go back."

"That makes a lot of sense," he sighed, shaking his head.  "I won't tell no one.  There's hunters who'll freak out at that knowledge."  He shook his hand.  "Thanks, Gibbs."

"Thank you."  They exchanged cards and Gibbs left, going to pick up Ziva from outside.  "Let's head."

"I was watching.  There was a ... a flimsy thing that appeared!"

He looked at her.  "Now he's passed on and won't set any more bullies on fire."

She gaped.  "Just like that?"

"That's what we were doing, Officer David."  He walked off.  "Make it to the car by the time I do or walk back to DC."

She ran for the car.  She needed to ask someone about that.  She really didn't understand.  The director probably wouldn't either.  Maybe her Rabbi?


Xander walked into the Magic Box.  "I feel better but the town is now making me nauseous.  I'm guessing I've got to repressurize with hellmouth energy again."

"Probably, yes," Giles agreed.  "What did he dose you with?"

"No clue but it burned like hell," Xander complained.  He handed Anya a bag.  "Dean went right home and I didn't even look.  He said that's as close as he could come."  He looked at Buffy and Willow.  "Did he tell you what we found out about that demon?"

"There's got to be another way to kill them," Buffy complained.

"Not from what I've found," Giles told her.  "It takes the application of lead to their brain.  Unless you think can use a lead stake to go up their nasal cavities?"

She shuddered.  "Eww.  No."

"Then that's the best option," Xander said.  "Because they're dangerous.  Even if they're not deadly they're calling more energy up to feed themselves."

"They're by the school's remains," she sighed.  "Can I call off that hunt?"

"Sure.  John'll be here by tonight too.  We can go be manly men with guns."

"Thank you.  I'll do cemetery and Bronze patrol."

"You can do beach patrol because 'tis the season for the massive beach party tonight with the junior high and high school kids," he corrected.  She moaned, holding her head now.  "So you need to head that way tonight.  The signs are up all over town."

"She didn't go out last night," Willow said.  "She had a test today."

"Okay."  He'd handle that lie at another time.  Anya squealed at her present, pulling it out.  Xander looked at the flesh colored dick that was about their size then shook his head.  "I don't want to know.  G-man, Gibbs said thank you for your help.  The spirit's free and won't burn any more cafeterias."

"He's most welcome but do quit calling me that horrid nickname, Xander."

"Fine.  Whatever.  I'm in a good mood.  Even if Willow did drop X-Lax into the last dose of brownies.  I needed it anyway to get the medicine out."  Buffy turned red and squeaked.  He looked at her.  "Three hours of burning from the medicine, thank you."

She turned brighter red.  "Didn't need to know," she squeaked.  She got up and ran out.

Dean walked in.  "Thanking Willow for the X-Lax brownies we fed to Dad and Bobby?"

"Yuppers."  He took a kiss.  "Anya likes her present."

"Hey, she asked.  It's as close as she's comin'."  He looked at Giles.  "Where are they?"

"Near the school.  Buffy scouted them the other night.  She'll be off handling the beach party's threats tonight."

"Remind her the swim team is off the coast again by Navy Sonar readings.  I had Tony check when I saw the sign.  McGee said they had some large, unidentified fish swimming near the bottom about ten miles off."

"I'll do so.  We think there's only one small family grouping there."

Xander nodded.  "That's even better."  He looked around.  "Any word on the Gucci bitch?"

"Not at the moment."

"Xander realized if we were still our old selves, they probably would've sent her to us."

"That would've been much safer," Giles agreed.  "Do you think we can?"

"Don't know.  Have to ask Jethro," he said.

"I'll do that tonight once I get some materials together.  Thank you, boys."

"Hey, someone's got to plan," Xander teased.  Giles smiled back and went to his office.  He looked at the pouting witch then at Tara.  Tara shrugged but walked off shaking her head.  Xander looked at Willow again.  "Did they tell you what he removed from me?"

"I was trying to protect you and I know you're not gay.  You said you're not gay."

Dean kissed Xander, making him moan and get hard.  "Really?  You so sure?"  She whimpered before stomping off.

"Can I watch?  I'd love to see it," Anya said.  "It'd be very educational and I don't have any gay porn in my collection."

"Maybe later, Anya," Xander said, looking at Dean.  "Keep it up, be tired for hunting because I'll be making you beg."

"Really?" he taunted with an evil smirk.  "How are you going to do that?"

"Take it home!" Giles yelled before Xander could do more than move closer.  "This is a family shop.  Impressionable teenagers do come in now and then without warning.  Including Dawn."  They headed for home.  He moaned, putting his head down on the desk.

"Poo, I wanted to see that," Anya complained, stroking the dick that was about Dean's size and then the one that was about Xander's size.  If they wanted to play with girls again she definitely wanted to help.


John watched his son walk.  "Sore?" he teased.

Dean glared at him.  "Xander's evil."

"I told you you'd beg," he quipped.   He smirked back at his mate.  "It was very handsome on you."

"Of course it was, I'm a handsome guy.  Still not right, Xander."

Xander laughed.  "Turnabout's fair play, Dean.  And good play."

"Boys!" John complained.  "Too much visualization going on.  Use code or something."

"How about we change the subject?" Sam said as he joined them.  "Buffy called and said she needed Faith's help?"

"Really?" Dean asked.  "For what?  A beach party's safety?"

"Warn her my former swim team might be showing up.  They're about ten miles off the coast."

Sam called her.  "Xander said something about his swim team being about ten miles off the coast and a beach party?"  He looked at him.  "Beach party?"

"Where is she?"


"Tell her to look at the nearest light pole.  It happens every year."

"He said there's probably a flier on the light poles."  He waited while she found one.  "Yeah, that's what he said Buffy was supposed to be handling tonight."  He shook his head.  "She's at the Bronze.  She saw her walk past."

"She clubbing or hunting?" Dean asked.

"She said she didn't know."

"What's she wearing?" Xander asked.

"Bright pink heels, skirt, and a lighter pink top.  Pantyhose."

"She's clubbing," Dean and Xander said.

"Tell her to hit the beach out by Dead Man's point.  That's near where they hold it and there's a major vamp storage area near there."  Sam repeated that while Xander found his phone.  "Giles, where's Buffy?"  He smirked.  "Faith said hi.  Said she's at the Bronze in pantyhose."  He groaned something.  "Yeah, I'm wondering why, Giles.  I have no clue but we're busy and thankfully she called Faith to handle the beach party's safety.  Yeah, I warned her.  Sam's with us.  Thanks, Giles."  He hung up.  "He's going to find her and talk to her as her watcher."  He slid his phone back into the pocket.  "Those things, Dad?"

John looked.  "That's the sucker.  Sammy, don't let it bite or scratch you," he ordered.

"Or you too can have medicine up the butt that burns for three hours," Xander said dryly.

Sam gave him an odd look.  "You did?"

"Yeah.  Buffy was busy."

"Uh-huh."  They moved closer, taking out the guardian of the small enclave.  "What do these things do?"

"Suck up hellmouth energy.  It's drawing it open," Dean said, shooting one.  Xander hesitated so John took out a smaller version of the same demon.  "I know, Xander, but they're dangerous to us and our clan."  Xander nodded, firing on the next one.  Afterward, he'd go puke in the bushes of the ruins of the houses that hadn't fallen into the sinkhole.  They searched the former building, not finding anything there.  So they left and headed to find Faith.  Xander pointed once they got set up by the beach.  "That's a what?" Dean demanded.  He had never seen one of those before and by his dad's look at it neither had he.

"The coach of the swim team wanted his people faster so he was dosing his team in the sauna."

"Steroids?" Sam asked hopefully.

"Mermaid parts and blood."

"Shit," Sam muttered.

"Yeah, a lot of it.  I went undercover.  They kept me from turning black and oily.  Barely."  John even shuddered at that.  "They can and have eaten students."  They nodded, moving closer to protect.  Faith was dusting the vamps.  Sam moved to help her.  Dean too when he spotted more coming.  Xander stepped in front of the group watching.  "No," he said calmly.  "Not tonight, kids."  They stared at him.  One sniffed and creeled.  "Hey, Ben."  He grimaced, glancing back at the clueless kids then at them.  "I can't let you, guys.  It's my duty to stop you.  If you leave we don't have to shoot you or anything."  They growled at him.  "Go.  You have to go.  I don't want to shoot you guys."  One tried to pounce.  John used his silenced pistol to hit it.  The others grabbed that one to pull back and take care of it.  "Go.  Now.  Back into the water.  Leave Sunnydale alone.  Please?" he begged quietly.  They stared at him then left.  He slumped.

"You had to give them the choice, Xander," John said, patting him on the back.  "The kids have to be protected."  Xander nodded, going to take it out on some vamps since even more were joining in.  John called the cops about the bonfire.  No one showed up.  He called in kids drinking and doing drugs, plus having sex.  They showed up for them having sex.  They rounded up each and every kid.  Even those trying to hide got rounded up and taken home.  John found the team gabbing against some rocks.  Some very dusty rocks.  "We good?"

"We're fine, Dad," Dean promised.  "They went poof.  Or ran.  Some ran."

"Some needed to run," Xander told him.  He looked around.  "There's more that way."

"Didn't know you had the slayer cramps, Xan," Faith teased.

"I can hear their discman.  They're playing 2 Live Crew."

She snickered.  "Older vamps then."  They went to stop them.  Faith scared the crap out of them, making them run at the guys, who staked very well.  "Nearly in unison, guys.  Good job." she said, clapping.  One grabbed her so she tossed him, pulling out her own stake.

"Hold on," Xander said.  "That's Spike.  Pain in the ass and dangerous but chipped and possibly a messenger from Angel.  What's up?"

"Where's Smuffy?" he sneered.

"Hanging out at the Bronze.  What did Angel need, Spike?"  Xander helped him up, staring at him.  "Problems coming or otherwise?"

"Some little suckers who suckle the hellmouth like a teat are coming."

"Purple mask, gray skin?  Poisonous?" Xander asked.   Spike nodded, lighting up.  "We already got them all we think.  One bit me or whatever the other day."

"He was happy, mate," Spike said with an evil smirk.  "That was their seed."

"Knew I went home to take a shower for a reason," Xander quipped back, cracking the others up.  "We took out a small clan.  About twenty."

"Sounds about right.  Needed lead to the brain."

John pulled up his gun.  "It works on many things."

Spike gave him an impressed look.  "No wonder the chit's lasted so long.  She lets others do her work for her."

"We're finding out why she got lazy tonight," Xander assured him.  "Anything else Angel or Cordy sent up?"

"Yeah.  Evacuate the little one.  You'll need more fighters to take her down but she needs to be safe."

"We're thinking about that," Xander agreed.  "Thanks, Spike.  Head."  He nodded.

"Poof said to stay and help."

"Then go talk to Giles.  He should be with Buffy at the Bronze."  He nodded, hiking off.  Xander relaxed against the rocks.  "Well, now we know."

"Now we do," Dean agreed.  "Think the castle will be safe enough?"

"I'd hope so," Xander said.  He looked at Faith.  "How's Palo Alto?"

"Lots and lots of clubs but almost no vamps now.  Only two last week."

Xander grinned.  "That's good."  He gave her a nudge as he leaned closer.  "Take Yoga, Faith.  It makes you all bendy for many things."  She cackled, swatting him.  He grinned back.  "I like to see you happy.   Maybe you can learn to teach it?"  She gaped.  "How many Californians live in the gym?"

"Good point.  I can see me doing that.  It'd mean no stupid orders too."

"Yup.  It would."  She beamed and punched him on the arm.  "Thanks, Xan."

"Welcome."  He stood up.  "Okay, want to do cemetery patrol or are we tired?"

"None coming up by the papers," Sam said.

"Even better.  Our house for popcorn and a movie?"  Everyone nodded, going with them.  "Faith, pinch Dean for me please?  Anya wanted him to find models of us for her personal enjoyment."

She pinched him.  "You make casts or just guess in the store?"

"I know how large I am."  Sam gave him an odd look.  "Every guy does it at least once, Sammy."

"No, never have measured myself.  Dad?"

"I wasn't that sort of boy when that stuff mattered to me."

"Don't look at me.  It doesn't matter to me," Xander said with a grin.

"Uh-huh.  You can measure on sight thanks to the job, Xander."

"Well, yeah.  Anything under a foot," he said with a wicked grin.

"He outside that?" Faith asked.  "No wonder he's walking funny if he is."

"No," Xander said.  "That was me being good to him and making him beg."

"Way to go, boytoy!" she praised.  She patted Dean on the back.  "About time, Dean.  It's good for you."  Sam kissed her to make her stop.  John sighed and rolled his eyes, shaking his head slightly.  "Thanks, Sam."

"Welcome, Faith."  He put an arm around her shoulders, looking down at her.  "Just think, some day Xander's going to be up for heir if Danny and Abby don't spawn.  That means he'll have to with Dean," he said in her ear, cracking her up.

"Yeah, I can see that!" she cheered.  She broke out in new giggles, hugging Joyce when she ran into her.  "Hey, Mrs. S."

"Faith.  How are you, dear?"  She gave her a pat on the back then got free.  "Are you all right?  I heard you moved to Palo Alto with Sam."

"We're good," she promised with a grin.  "Being our naughty selves."

"That's good."  She stroked down her hair.  "Where are you all headed?"

"Home," Xander said.  "We've already patrolled and fought.  Sam said there's no new vamps coming up."

"That's excellent news.  That must be why Buffy has a date."

"I guess," John said.  She gave him an odd look.  He smiled and kissed her on the cheek.

"She called off for her date?"

"Yuppers," Dean said, then groaned and shook his head.  "Sorry, he infected me with that one."  Sam cackled at that.  Faith too.  "We're going to relax."

"Go ahead, kids.  Come see me tomorrow if you're not heading back tonight, Faith.  Tell me how it's been."  She patted Sam on the cheek.  "Such a nice boy."  She walked off, going to check on Rupert at the Magic Box.  "My daughter is where?"

"She had been at the Bronze but she's now missing.  Spike has shown up with a message from Angel."

"Which one was Spike?"  He came out of the back.  "Oh, from the parent-teacher night.  Are you souled now too?"

"Hell no, ducks.  Bloody well chipped to hell and back but not infected or someat like that."

"Do not swear around my younger daughter, Spike."

"There is talk about sending her to safety, Joyce," Giles said quietly.

She considered it.  "Very safe or just safe?"

"We think she'll be very safe.  I'm talking with Jethro Gibbs about it."

"Ah.  That'd hopefully be very safe.  Come talk to me when you two have talked."  He nodded.  She gathered up her daughter.  "Come along, Dawn.  Time for bed."

"But, mom!"

"No.  Bed.  At least you weren't at the beach picnic."

"They'll shun me for that," she pouted as she gathered up stuff.

"They were just arrested for underage drinking and sex, young lady."  She shuddered and followed her outside.  "Good night, Rupert."

"Good night, Joyce."  He looked at Spike. "I'm sure we can handle it."

"Doyle said not.  He's a seer."

"That's interesting."  He went to write Wesley a letter to see if he could get the full details of that vision.  It might be important.

Spike went back to the loaned basement, shaking his head.  "They're all nutters.  Every last one."  He settled down to nap down there.  It was a boring night without any chaos going on.  Not even any bad demons to rip apart and eat.


Gibbs looked over the information on the flight back.  Ziva was muttering to herself.  They had been sent, alone, on another case but this time it had been testifying in front of JAG that had made it necessary.  Ziva had the wrong responses for the field unless they were under fire.  She needed some serious training.  He had noted that in his evaluation as well.  Including a copy sent past the director to the Sec Nav recommending Ziva have to take a few forensic courses before being assigned to a field team.  He appreciated the young woman.  He might come to like her as a team member but he wasn't going to cover for her if she had stabbed the person who surprised her and ended up being not only an officer of the local department but also the victim's wife.  This new situation looked bad.  Very bad.  A hell goddess?  Was there going to be another battle like with the ascension at graduation?

Ziva leaned over.  "New case notes?"

"Request from someone."  He folded it up and put it into his bag.  "Someone wanted me to babysit for awhile while they had to deal with a problem that was stalking her.  I'm not sure if we can or not."  If not, maybe Horatio's team?  He was hyper-protective of everyone.  If not, Mac maybe.  As long as the thing didn't feel her there and follow her.  It might do her some good, get her used to other cultures and make her quit being such a teenage girl.  He looked at her.  "You need to work on your reflexes, Ziva.  You nearly stabbed the victim's wife."

"She snuck up behind us."

"As far as she knew, we were intruders in her home."

"Oh."  She slumped.  "I'm trying."

"You are, but you're trying to learn a lot of stuff that you probably can't learn all at once.  You can't lose your edge in case you get recalled but you can lose the tension that makes you want to snap at everyone."  She could also lose that manipulative streak.  That he would not allow.  Ever.  Especially not if it hurt Tony or Kate again.  Or even McGee.  He crossed his feet.  "With that, you have another problem."  She looked at him.  He grimaced.  "That little dinner thing of yours?  Not cute.  I will not have you dividing this team.  I don't care what the director wants.  I'll throw you off the building myself.  Am I clear?"

"Yes, Gibbs.  I meant to invite him to a private dinner."

"Rule twelve, Ziva: no dating your teammates.  It makes you the wrong sort of close and screws with your perceptions of the situation."  She shuddered but nodded.  "I don't care what Jen told you to do.  Stop it.  Now.  Or go home."

"She didn't," she started.  He stared her down.  She flinched.  She knew why criminals hated that look.  "It won't happen again."

"It had better not."  He relaxed some.  "I do think you should have been sent to get some of what you need in school.  The rest got it given to them in classes.  You should have too."

"She said she took off the beginner training lessons when I asked."

"The Sec Nav put them back.  It's important.  Like going to the academy is for cops.  It puts everyone on the same page and learning the same methods.  You need to either learn it faster and better or find a way to school yourself in it.  I do know some very good CSI in other cities.  I can ask them if there's a refresher course coming up."

"I would appreciate that."

"Good."  He leaned his head back.  "Rest.  It'll be a few hours."

"Yes, Gibbs," she said quietly.  "Were you this hard on McGee?"

"McGee had the basic lessons and DiNozzo smoothed out his rough edges.  He's still working on a few but he learned on the first case.  You're doing all right on evidence collection since we went over that but you're not following the right sort of leads to give you the information you need to solve things like fraud, murders, and theft.  We deal with those as well."  She nodded.  "Cases go up every year, Ziva.  We're working a hell of a lot more hours now than we were three years ago when McGee joined us."  Mostly because the director had fired a team from the local office.

"It's going to get worse?"


"Oh."  She frowned, thinking about that.  "What about the terrorism angle?"

"That's not my concern unless it comes up in a case, Officer David," he said dryly.  "My job is to find and make people pay when they are in the Navy and Marines and commit a crime or if they commit a crime to a member of the Navy or Marines.  If a terrorism case comes with that, so be it.  If not, so be it.  The cases come as they come."

"The director was looking for people to help her with a terrorism case," she said.

"Look around my team.  They're busy enough with our real job.  That's the CIA's job.  Or the FBI's job.  Unless we run across it during a case, it's not our job.  If someone gives me a tip that it's going on, I'll stop it.  If we think we hear of one, we'll investigate it.  Going out to search for them, hunt them down, and eliminate targets is not an NCIS job.  That's a CIA job."

She nodded at that butt chewing.  "I'll tell her you said that."

"Do that.  Tell her to leave my team alone."

"She thinks Tony's ready for more responsibility."

"He was offered his own team five different times.  He decided not to take it.  That should say enough to her."

"Oh.  I didn't know that."

He smirked at her.  "Tony may seem like a goofball but all that is a persona he puts up, Ziva.  Not even Kate gets that deeply into him."  He stared her down again, making her shiver.  "Even the background I did on him didn't give me enough insight to break that persona for years."

"I'll try harder to make myself more useful."

"Just learn how to do the job, Ziva.  And quit trying to shoot and stab everyone who might not need it.  My team pulls our guns a lot but you make us look like cowboys."  He closed his eyes.  "Sleep."

"Yes, Gibbs."  She got comfortable and tried to sleep, going over that in her head.  She didn't like the position she was in.  She knew Jenny was breaking major rules having her working as an agent.  She had no idea why other than what she had noticed about her attraction to Gibbs.  She had to work harder to gain their trust it seemed.  Kate seemed nice but did she have hers?  No, probably not.  Women did things like talk about their boyfriends with their friends. McGee chatted with her but didn't share any personal details either.  Half of the things Tony had told her were false when she checked.  He was very good at making a cover story and blending in.  She had no idea where she stood with them but she realized she had made a few crucial missteps.  The director would not be pleased.  They'd have to talk when they got back.


Gibbs walked into his row, finding Sam in his chair.  "Why are you here, Sam?"  He pulled him up and sat down.

"Because one of the guys at Stanford said something that bothered me.  The local office said it was probably nothing."  Gibbs looked at him.  He handed over the tape.  "It's at the right spot."

He pulled out his headphones to listen to it then looked at Sam.  "Who told you it was probably nothing?"  He handed over their card with a grin.  "That one's in trouble then.  I'll get this to someone with sense in the local office.  Thanks, Sam."

"Welcome, Gibbs."  He leaned down.  "Got any ideas what to do about Buffy?  She's dating one of the idiots who think they hunt and is a macho bastard with an ego bigger than Dean's.  She's been calling off patrol and things.  Blatantly cut the other night by calling Faith in.  Not that it wasn't bad, but she could've handled it then went out.  We did."

Gibbs grimaced.  "Boot camp?"

"She's too big of a princess, boss," Tony said dryly from his desk.  "A few weeks ago she broke into Xander and Dean's place to sell their weapons on them because she didn't approve of them having them."

"Now and then she gets this 'only special people can help me' thing going on.  She did it to Xander back in high school for a bit.  Then graduation happened and it eased off.  Now it's back again.  Dad's tried.  Dean's tried.  Her mom and Rupert have both tried, together and singly.  We're pretty sure this guy's going to end up an abuser.  Faith pegged it, he's a slimebag.  It's ripping Xander up so it's ripping Dean up."

"The only thing I could think of is boot camp or talk to the other watchers."

"They hate her.  She's lived so long.  It won't pass on if she does.  It's going through Faith," he said at the look he got.  "The Council is brutal and evil.  They tried to take Dean out a few weeks back to get Xander to take him out."

"He good?"

"Yeah.  Dean got them down and Dad handled it while Dean went to guard Xander since he was at work."

"Shit," he muttered.  Sam nodded.  "Your dad was a Marine, right?"

"He was."

"Have him boot camp her.  Take her into the woods for training.  Get Giles to agree or go with you.  Have her get in touch with the essence that makes her special or whatever.  Then have him let go on her."

"Dad wanted to.  Her mom doesn't think it's necessary."

"If he hits her, what's she going to do?"

"After that Ted thing?"

Gibbs shuddered.  "Which means she'll be in jail."

"Oh, yeah."  He looked at him.  "You think he can?"

"I know he can.  I think it'll be important to scare the guy off first.  Then get her back in touch with what makes her special."

"I can suggest that.  Dad wanted to know about Dawn.  Glory showed up earlier looking for her key."

"It'd probably be better if she was down here.  I'm not sure how they'd take that."

"Xander's going to end up adopting her if Joyce gets any sicker.  He's already offered."

Jethro nodded at that.  "Why?"

"Joyce's brain tumor; the chemo is sapping her too much.  Her doctors said taking her off it is going to mean a higher chance of it coming back after they remove it.  Not taking her off can kill her.  They're waiting until it shrinks to remove it.  They're talking next month."

"Better and better, huh?"

"Well, it is the mouth of hell," he said dryly.

"Good point.  Why would Xander adopt her?"

"She trusts Xander.  Has a huge crush on him from what Dean said.  He knows and *knows* her."

Gibbs nodded.  "Have him talk to me in person before he signs on.  I want to do some damage control.  Make sure that's not a place she can reach since there'd be no one up there most of the time to take care of her and nothing like school for her."

"There is one.  It's actually a very good school.  I remember looking into it," he said with a grin.

"Fine.  Have him talk to me about that.  I want an up-to-the-minute update when he does.  We need to talk to a few people about whether or not she could get up there."

"Yes, Gibbs.  Any other orders?"

"Bring up your PE grade, Sam.  If you want into law school you have to basically be 4.0 all the time."

"I'm trying.  He hates me."


"Yes, Gibbs."  He grinned.  "Dad told me not to sweat it.  To sweat the important classes."

"It's competitive.  Every class is important," Tony told him.  Sam nodded at that wisdom.  "It could come down to one open spot.  You versus some other guy."

"I know.  Thanks, guys.  I'll tell them.   Oh, Ducky said Healer Carson's fine.  He just wrote."  He skipped down to talk to Ducky then head back there.

Tony looked at Ziva.  "Sam's like an in-law in a lot of ways.  He's on a full ride scholarship to an Ivy League college heading for law school."

"That's impressive.  He can't keep a gym grade up?  Too geekly?"

"The word is geeky, and no, he's taking fencing but the teacher hates his form," McGee said.  He looked at her.  "He's doing fine otherwise.  He's taking freshman mandatories."

"History and lit classes to nap through," Tony said with fond remembrance.

"You got A's in both, DiNozzo."

"I was dating a TA, boss.  She helped me study for that and anatomy."

Gibbs looked at him. "You dropped anatomy."

"Yeah, we broke up.  My next one was too ticklish to let me find the parts on her.  I learn best in a hands-on manner."

"Mind out of the gutter, DiNozzo," he sighed.  He tossed him the tape.  "Send that to the office closet to Palo Alto, going around SA Thompson."

"Yes, boss."  He looked that office up, finding it.  "What about if we go to the one that's a bit farther away, boss?  There's a good one there.  Stan's there."

Gibbs smirked.  Stan was his helper before Tony.  "That'll work."  Tony took the tape down to the lab to get her to send it on once it was in digital format, including that an agent had said it was nothing after hearing it.  But Gibbs said it was.  Gibbs looked at McGee.  "Outcome?"

"Guilty on all counts.  The other one is a mistrial and will be going on again in about a month.  The judge said it was a mistrial when the defendant, Airman Reeces, corrected someone on what sort of weapon it was."

"That sounds like a confession."

"The judge is one of the new ones," Kate said, giving him a look.  "How was yours?  We put the robbery ring we busted for stealing hubcaps on your desk."

He looked at it, signed it, then sent it on.  "We found who had done it."

"Good.  Congrats.  We have six more in next two weeks."  She rolled her chair over to hand it to Gibbs.  "Before you ask, I only turned it.  The director wanted us to wear heels.  I'm now suing the agency."  She rolled back.  "The ones you'll be called on are in purple for the case's name.  In blue are Tony's.  Red is mine.  McGee's in green.  Ziva's is in black.  The ones we're all being called in for are in crossed out."

He looked.  "Are they in backlog again?"

"Flu ran around there last month, boss," McGee said.  "They almost called in other judges from out of state."  Gibbs shook his head, putting it somewhere he could see it.  "Boss, a question was raised."  Gibbs looked at him.  He sent him the memo, staring at him until he looked then laughed.  "What do you want us to do about that?"

"Ignore it.  Abby too."

"She is, boss.  She had a panic attack at the polyester and had to be taken out by ambulance.  They cut it off her and she's not buying any others.  Her doctor gave her an excuse.  What do you want *us* to do about it?"

"Ignore it, McGee.  We can't be effective dressed up like FBI clones."  He looked at Kate.  "This is why you turned your ankle?"

"Yeah.  She wanted me to wear them in the field on a body call.  Miller has it."

"Good.  You okay?"

"Ducky said it was only twisted.  I've got an ice pack and a paper box down there."

"Go home, Kate."

"She said I couldn't.  That was added to my legal complaint."  She got back to work.  "Fornell was looking for you yesterday but he called back this morning to say never mind."

"Thank you for letting me know.  Any other messages?"

"On Tony's desk.  You know he's your secretary," she said dryly.  Gibbs gave her a dirty look but grabbed them to look over.  He frowned at one.  "That's what Fornell said.  Then he called back to say never mind later on."  He found that one, balling them both up to toss out.  Then he put them through the shredder when he spotted the director.  Most of the rest got shredded too.  Two he kept and put into his shirt pocket.  She pulled her box out and put the ice pack onto it again.  She winced.  "I hate the ice packs when they drip."

"Me too," McGee said.  He rubbed his shoulder.  Gibbs gave him a pointed look.  "I tried to catch her, boss.  Small strain, it's nearly time for more tylenol."

"Ducky said what?"

"Small strain, tylenol every six."

"Good.  Take some now."  He did that and got back to work.  "Officer David, did you do your report before we left?"

"I'm proofreading it now, Gibbs."  She sent it over a few minutes later.

He looked then at her.  "English, Ziva?"  She grimaced and translated it.  He went over it to correct it then sent it to Kate.  "Proofread for her."

"Sure.  I had plenty of english classes."  She got to work on that.

"Surely you have more work to do than that?" the director asked.

"Not while grounded to my desk," Kate said.  She glared at her.  Then she went back to work.  "Miller, the director thinks we need more work.  Need help on that case you took over?" she called.

"You do more work than the rest of us," someone called back.  "Play some solitaire, Todd."

"We have it," Miller said, coming around the divider.  "It's nearly in the bag.  We're waiting on Abby to confirm what we suspect so we can talk to them."  Gibbs nodded.  "I have no idea why Kate was wearing heels in the field, Gibbs, but it was a bad tumble.  She fell down a hill."

"It is unprofessional," the director said.

"Then you hike in the woods with in heels, ma'am.  My team is going to be dressed reasonably so they don't get injured."  He looked at Gibbs.  "Trial bulletin just got updated ten minutes ago."  Gibbs got into it and moaned.  "Pity you guys do more work, Gibbs."  He went back to his desk to call Abby.  She had something for them but not everything.  He wasn't going to pounce until she had everything.

Gibbs printed it out for each team member, letting DiNozzo hand them out since he was walking back.  "New trials."

He looked.  "That conflicts for me with a homicide."  He settled in to call.  "This is DiNozzo at NCIS.  You scheduled the auto theft case for Tuesday.  I'm due in to testify all week long on a homicide and three other cases.  Yes, I'm sure.  I'm looking at the bulletin.  Kate, they took off Peters."

"That's nice of them.  He must've pleaded for mercy in prison."  She marked it out on her schedule.  "Tell whoever that they conflicted me with Thomas and Jurger."

"Agent Todd said she's conflicted with Thomas and Jurger.  Against each other?"

"Against Simmons, which was a rape if I remember right.  It'll take longer."

"Against a rape case," Tony told her.  He smiled, leaning back.  "We do seem to do a lot of work, yes.  Please do.  Let us know as soon as you know so we can make arrangements for call outs and clothes.  Because if we don't, we can be on call for cases and have to be here to work it instead of there to testify.  I've pulled many overnights," he told her seriously.  "All the time.  At least four a month for Gibbs.  He said so."  He smirked at the boss.  "She said that's not legal by work regs, boss."

"The case needed it."

"He said the case needed it, take it up with the people who kidnap, rape, and murder."  He made notes.  "That won't work either.  I've got Happiness?  Kate, Happiness?"

"Drug ring on Quantinco."

"Oh, the drug ring at Quantico.  That was the name of their new designer drug."  She moaned and looked at the bulletin then searched their names.  She let out a vicious set of swears, making him laugh.  "Think how we feel.  Please do and let us know.  The only one you might get is Officer David and I'm not sure if she's testified in the past.  Ziva, have you been a witness before?"

"Only on internal matters."

"Only on internal matters.  Yeah, she'll need prepped.  That was one of her first cases."  The desk phone rang.  "Get back with me.  Our batphone just rang.  Thank you."  He hung up and grabbed his gear.  "Later, Kate.  We'll call when we have an ID."

Gibbs hung up.  He tossed McGee the keys.  "Get the truck.  We have a kidnaping."  He nodded, going to do that.  He grabbed his own gear.  "Kate, rest that.  We'll send you what we have as we have it."  He walked off, Tony and Ziva right behind him.  "DiNozzo, try not to scare the kid this time, okay?"

"I'll try, boss, but I don't get along well with kids.  Aren't you glad I don't have any?"  He grinned at him.  "How old?"

"Newborn taken from his room.  There's three other kids in the house.  One who was in the same room sleeping."

"So we start with a top-to-bottom of the house," Tony said.  Gibbs nodded, looking unhappy.   "If we can find her, boss, we will."

"I know."  He got in to drive.  McGee got the middle seat.  Tony got shotgun.  Ziva got to sit in the back.  He pulled them out and turned on the lights, heading out to handle the new case.

Kate took the ice off and put it back into the bag she had it in.  The director scowled.  "Fifteen on and forty-five off, director.  Those are doctor's orders.  Have fun with my lawyer."  She stomped off.  Kate got to work pulling up the databases she'd need.  Including a BOLO form in case they got lucky.  Gibbs called ten minutes later to have her start.  Her search turned up odd.  She called back.  "Gibbs, there's no birth certificate filed in that name.  I checked the parents, they only have three listed."  She read off the names.  He made an inquisitive noise.  "I don't see anything in his file either to say he updated it to show another dependent.  He's in the field.  Want me to call his CO?"  She smiled.  "Got it."  She called.  "This is NCIS Agent Todd.  Yes, on Gibbs' team.  We need Corporal Slisshinger to head home.  His wife reported their newborn child was kidnaped.  Gibbs is there waiting on him.  Please."  She hung up.  The corporal would get it straightened out or tell him what was going on so they could search.  She got back to work on the family's background.  McGee's phone could get updates.


Xander waved as Buffy was driven off by John.  "It's hard but she needed it, Joyce," he said, giving her a squeeze around the shoulders.

"I know."  She looked at him.  "When will Jethro know?"

"We're talking about it this weekend."

"If... If something happens I've already signed them, Xander."  She stroked his cheek.  "Just in case."

"Thank you for trusting me, Joyce."  He gave her a real hug.  She let go and cried.  She hadn't been able to with the girls watching her.  Dawn was at the mall with friends and Buffy was being straightened out.  "C'mon.  Let's go have cocoa."  She smiled at that, taking him inside.  He set her down and made it for her, coming back to let her vent.  She needed to let it out before it ate her.


John stopped the car at the cabin, ignoring Buffy's grimace of distaste.  "We're not here to make it House Beautiful, Summers.  We're here to keep you from killing the creep."  He walked her inside, sitting her down.  He tossed something down to her, making her catch it.  "That is Xander's."

"Why?"  She touched it, it felt like...  It felt like Faith?  "It's a slayer's weapon?"

"It holds part of the essence of the First Slayer."  She gaped, moving to her knees.  "The Council took it from him at one point in time and put some in there.  Xander got those from Stella when he became an adult."  She touched it, staring at the blade.  "He tries very hard not to use them."

"It's got a spot of rust."

"Has since he got it back.  He didn't want to sharpen it off and ruin the curve.  He can't find the right shape of sharpening stone at the moment."  He handed it to her.  It was Xander's birthday present from him next month.

"What do I do with this?"

"You're going to learn.  Slayers have to be able to deal with their own weapons."

"We have watchers for that."

"Then what dd Faith do when hers was killed and she had to flee across the country to get to Sunnydale?"

She slumped.  "I'm sucking again, aren't I?"

"Yes.  A lot."  He looked down at her.  "We're here to boot camp your ass, young lady.  When I'm done with you, you will appreciate all the slayers and all their helpers, watchers and not, and you will not be spoiled.  Because your mother doesn't need to worry about you dying and her dying."  She sniffled at that.  "Everyone is mortal, Buffy.  Most of the girls didn't even know theirs.  Like Kendra."

She nodded.  "I'm spoiled."  She looked up at him.  "I was before I was called."

"Now you've got a destiny.   Fight against it to last longer.  That's why we're here.  That and so Dean doesn't smack your head off your shoulders for putting Xander down again."

She looked up at him.  "You'll help me?"

He nodded.  "I will.  It won't be pretty and nice.  I only know one way and it's the Marine way, Buffy."

"If that's what it takes."

"Good.  We'll start tomorrow.  Today, you're going to commune with the essence in that blade.  You're going to be worthy of her sacrifice."

"Yes, I should be."  She settled in to meditate with it in her hands.  John could show her how to sharpen it for Xander later.  Maybe it was why all the slayers liked him enough to let him help them?  No, that was a wrong thought.  He helped because he wanted to help and they were lucky to have his and everyone else's help.  Or else she'd be dead.  No one would've been with her mom through this tumor problem she was having.  She slumped.  "What about Mom?  Who's watching my mom?"

"Xander is.  He's going to camp on her couch whenever he can.  They've got papers to take Dawn if necessary.  He's going to talk to Jethro this weekend."

She nodded.  "That's good.  Dawn needs to be safe."  She went back to fondling the blade, letting it comfort her.  She went into the meditation mindset Giles had taught her.  She could talk to the First Slayer.  Find out more about what a slayer was and should be from that.

John brought in their supplies while she worked it out.  She had to work it out or she'd die.


Xander and Dawn sat down with Jethro and a few of the advisors they had from the realm.  "Guys, this is Dawn Summers."

"Relation to your friend Buffy?" one asked.

Xander nodded.  "Her little sister.  Her mother's very ill.  She's got a brain tumor."  That got a nod.  "Joyce asked me to adopt Dawn.  There's no telling when Buffy might be overwhelmed on patrol or die from an attack.  She wanted her safer.  Especially with Glory there."

The local magic teacher had been included and looked at Dawn.  "There's a good reason for her to come to Sunnydale."

"There is," Xander agreed.  He looked at Dawn.  He looked at Jethro.

"They will not tell her or I will kill them myself, Xander."

"Dawn knows and has contact with the key."

"More than that," the teacher said.

"I am the key," Dawn agreed quietly, glancing around.  "The last time we talked about her, she showed up.  I don't want to do that to here."

"We understand, Dawn," Jethro said.  "That's one of my big worries too.  Can she get up here?" he asked the teacher.

"Xander asked me to look up the matter and to ask around.  As far as we know she is bound by the powers of her host.  He is human and not gifted in any magical means or way.  The significant date that she needs Dawn for is fairly wide."

"So she can't get up here or bother us?" Jethro asked.

"No.  Not as far as I can tell."

Dawn slumped.  "That's one huge worry out of the way."  Xander stroked her back.  "How was Mommy?"

"She's okay.  They switched her medicine today.  Dean drove her and is staying with her until we get back."

She nodded.  "That's nice of him."

"Hey, Dean's mine.  He cares for what I care for."  She nodded, smiling some.  "Sam's going to gush her to death the next time he comes down when he takes his turn fussing over her."

She smiled.  "I like Sam.  Sam's a nice guy.  Faith needs a good guy like Sam to keep her on the good side."  Xander nodded.

"The problem is one that I'm willing to take suggestions on.  I know some won't like Xander adopting a human child.  Even though he has said that the family is like his own many times in public when he found demons threatening Buffy's home."

"That sets a good precedent," his advisor said.  Charlie Epps walked in.  "Who're you?"

"Fornell's sorcerer.  What's up, Epps?"

"Small problem in LA."  Dawn stiffened, looking at him.  "Hi, Charlie Epps."

"My mom?"


"Buffy's mom.  This is Dawn, her little sister."

"I didn't know she had one.  No, not your mother, Dawn."  She relaxed and slumped against Xander's side.  "Angel and his crew have been bothered by some little Jawa looking things?"

"Glory's hench toadies," Xander told him.

"Glory?"  He wrote out the name and handed it over.  "Oh, dear."

"Oh, yeah," Dawn said dryly.  "After me."

Charlie looked at her then at Jethro.  "Let me tell Fornell if you need help.  He's having a high blood pressure day.  Emily nearly got taken by a prior case that wanted him to look into things."

"He need help?"

"No, he had him hunted down and eliminated as a threat once he made sure Em was safe."  He smiled.  "He's super protective of her.  More so than Don is of me or Dean is of Xander."

"Or Xander is of Dean because he kicked demon hiney when one demon tried to hit on Dean because she was drunk," Dawn quipped.

Jethro looked at Xander.  "Why?"

"She was pawing my mate!  She's lucky she still has paws."

"Fine."  He looked at Charlie.  "Let Angel know.  Feed Xander anything you find out."  That got a nod and a bow, then he left.

"Thank you," she called after him.  She looked at Jethro.  "Mom said it's a common courtesy and people like you more when you're polite."

"I have Tony for polite, Dawn."

"Oh.  Are you gay too?"

"In our past life I had one of each.  Tony's a good administrator."

"That's kinda cool."  She rested against Xander's side again.  "Is there a school up here?"

"There's a good school according to Sam."   He looked at his people.  "Do we think there's going to be more than a reaction to him adopting a human child?"

"Some but if the news of what she is gets out, some may panic," one of his advisors said.  "I think it would be safer if she went to a more isolated realm."

"That would make me an ambassador," Xander said.  They all shuddered at that.  "Her mother trusts me to adopt her.  To make sure nothing of the legacy of having a sister who is a slayer comes back to bite her on the ass on the way to becoming a woman her mother will appreciate.  It's me or Giles, guys.  If Joyce dies, I'm not sure he'll hold it together.  He's got a crush on her."  Dawn looked up at him.  "Why else would they get it on on top of a police car?"

"If that happens and Buffy dies, then he'll be devastated anyway.  My sister can fight a lot of things but not a goddess."

"She's not alone, Dawn.  Not like some of  the girls," Jethro reminded her.  He looked at the group.  "I know it's a problem or it will be for some.  This is the best for her and it might calm Xander down a bit.  Plus we do have the ability to save her life if we can hide her up here."

"Hide her out at the clan house.  No one knows where the camp is," Xander said.  "Except family.  Send two guards with her so I'm with her sister at the battle?"

"That might work," he agreed.  He looked around.  "Any dissent?  Any alternate ideas?"

"What about sending her to Fornell.  He has a real palace with servants who can help her since she is clearly not a child from a poorer family.  She's never known real hardship."

"You mean beyond worrying about my sister coming home every night?  The divorce they gave me memories of?  I'm a lot tougher than I look.  I'm only fourteen but all Summers women are tough from birth."

"Then she's about average for girls her age," the teacher agreed.  "And boys as well.  Xander turned into a royal snot for about six months while his father was gone."

"He's the one who put me in charge of my own unit," Xander said dryly.

"Thankfully you learned how to rule graciously after the first two fights with them," Gibbs said.  "Dawn, what do you want?"

"I want the bitch to go away and my mom to be okay.  I apparently can't have either."

"Language," Xander and Jethro both snapped.  She shrank back some.

Xander sighed, giving her a hug.  "We all want your mom to be okay.  I'd love for the ugly thing to take her Gucci and go.  I can do the second but I can't make sure of the first.  That's why we need to handle plans now.  If we wait and don't plan, it'll be too painful and the state will get into it."

"I know.  Still sucks."

"Yes it does," Jethro agreed.  "To all parties involved.  I'm sure your mom doesn't want to leave you."  She shook her head.  "Then we'll handle it."  He looked around.  "His realm has more portals than this one does."  He heard someone stomping and looked out the door.  "Xander, tell me that isn't?" he said.

Xander looked.  Then nodded.  "Move."  Dawn went to hide where he pointed.  Xander stood up to get in her face.  "How did you get up here?"  She tried to shove him but he shoved back.  "You're in my realm now, bitch.  What do you want?"

"My key, what else would I want?"

"How did you get up here?" Jethro demanded, standing up.

"Don't worry about it.  The one in my way isn't anymore."  Xander growled and attacked.  She batted him down.  He got up and pulled his scythe, attacking again.   "I'm a goddess, don't you get it?" she sneered.  She screamed as her dress was cut into.  "Do you know how hard it was for my minions to steal this!" she shouted, attacking him for real.

Faith came rushing in with guards.  "No wonder!"  She dove into the fight.

"Oh, please!  A slayer?" she sneered.

"Yeah, the tougher one."  She kicked her back into a wall.  She and Xander attacked as a unit, making her shriek before pulling up magic.

Dawn rushed out to the teacher, grabbing his hand.  "Let me help."

"Stay still and concentrate, young lady."  He summoned his own students then got to work pulling up power to blast her off this plane.  She went through a wall.  Then Faith got her through another one.  She wobbled.  "Get her in her other form!" he shouted.  Xander attacked and she wobbled forms again.  Faith kicked her hard, breaking most of the ribs on one side.  This time she wobbled for longer.  Faith got her while in man form, making her scream and bleed.  She slowly died.  Xander fell to his knees over her, panting hard.  He got free of Dawn and went to check on them.  "Children."

"We'll survive," Faith said, helping Xander to his feet.  He wobbled, blinking at her.  "Hey, X.  You good?"

"Dean?  Dean!"  He tried to run but nearly slammed into a wall.

"Let me," Jethro ordered.  He went to find Dean.  He found the remains of their apartment.  Dean was under a couch.  "Dean?"  Dean moaned.  He uncovered him, checking him over.  He called back through the portal.  "Get a healer, now!  Dean needs one too."  Guards came to help him carry him back on the board they carried through.  The healers converged on the three of them.  Dawn quietly went to a corner to sob.  Jethro heard her and went to soothe her.  He squatted down in front of her.  "They're fine, Dawn."  She looked at him, blinking the tears away.  He wiped some off.  "They're fine.  They're both very strong.  Faith's mostly winded and bruised."  Dawn nodded, gulping air.  "C'mon.  You can watch as long as you're not in the way."  She shook her head quickly.  "You sure?"

"I don't like the sight of blood.  It makes me sick."

"Okay."  He patted her on the head.  "Go down this hall to the right then down three floors to open up Xander's suite, all right?  He'll be in bed for a while."  She nodded, wiping her tears on the way to do that.

John came stomping in.  "What happened?"

"Glory found a portal up here," Jethro told him.  "I found Dean pinned under their couch, pretty banged up.  Xander and Faith went after her with some of the guards."  Dawn came back.  "Dawn, stay with John for now?"  She nodded, snuggling into his side, not looking at the bodies on the table.  "She helped.  She let the teacher draw off her."

"That's good thinking, Dawn."

"Still making me sick," she muttered.

"I know, princess."

"Am not!" she complained.

He smirked.  "You have how many clothes?"

"Less than Buffy."

"I just got done fixing her."

"Mommy?  If Dean was at home, where's Mom?"

"Dean called us to come back.  They did some bloodwork.  She's a bit anemic so they're keeping her overnight.  The doctor said it happens to cancer patients all the time.  The chemo strips it out of them."  She wobbled, staring at him.  "She'll be fine.  Since she's in, they're doing another CT tonight to check the progress.  The new medicine went okay.  She didn't get half as sick this time from what Dean told Buffy."  She relaxed.  "She just needs some red meat and dark vegetables."

"Can we bring her dinner?  Or I mean if everyone's all right?"

"If not, we can make her a huge one for when she gets home.  Stuff to tempt her to eat.  The chemo making her sick is keeping her from eating, which is why she's anemic."

She nodded.  "I know how to do that.  She always eats whatever I fix her."

"Then let's fix her a huge salad with stuff to make her nibble."  She nodded at that.  "Good girl."  He gave her a squeeze.  "How's my son?" he called.

"Fine," one of the healers called. "Bruised and banged up.  His mate is worse."

"Can I help?" Dawn asked. "I have no idea how."

The teacher looked at her.  "No.  Healing takes years to learn."

"Willow read her first one out of the book."

"Miss Rosenburg also does many dangerous spells that are tainting her toward the dark side." She pouted.  "If you aren't careful healing spells can turn into damaging spells.  We will handle it."

John walked her off.  "Let's check on Xander's room."

"I turned down the blankets already."

"Good thinking.  Let's stock it with some water and juice for them.  That way they don't have to whine when they're thirsty.  I doubt they're going to be moving for a while."

"Sure."  She went to the kitchen to get that stuff and bring it down there.  As long as she could help, she wouldn't have to think.  She called Sam.  "It's Dawn.  They said Faith's okay.  Glory's gone.  They took her on when she showed up here to take me.  But the healers said she's fine.  So are Dean and Xander.  I think all the guards are too.  I'll ask."  She hung up and went back to look in on them.  "I called Sam to tell him she's probably okay.  Are the guards okay too?"

"They'll be fine," Jethro said.  "If not, we'll let Sam know too."

"Okay.  Should I make up more beds?  Like Faith's bed?"

"That way by two halls then down to the left. The blue door," John said with a point.  "Turn it down and give her some juice and stuff so Sammy can fuss."  She nodded, going to do that.  She made a wrong turn into a very masculine room but she found it a minute later.  It smelled like Sam.  She put the juices in and turned down the bed, rushing over to let the healers in.  "This one?"

"This one," he agreed.  They put her into the bed, covering her up.  "Can you sit with her until her mate gets here or would you rather be with your future guardian?"

"Whichever one needs me."

"John is fussing over Dean at the moment."

"Then I'll split my time.  No one can fuss as well as a Summers woman.  Mommy even fussed over the vampires who helped my sister by making them cocoa to talk to them."

"Your mother fed vampires cocoa?" he demanded.

"Yeah.  She made Spike cocoa so he could talk about Druscilla because he missed her when he showed up last time.  I think she gave Angel the shovel talk over cocoa too."

He shook his head.  "It's the slaying, isn't it?"

"Very."  She tucked Faith in, fussing over her until Sam ran in.  "There you go."  She patted him.  "The healer's still giving me funny looks."  He smiled and gave her a hug so she went to check on the boys.  She shoved John out of her way, climbing onto the bed to fuss over pillows and blankets.  She put a straw into a juice, making Xander and Dean sip from it.  "I'm so happy you two are okay."  She gave them squishing hugs then sat up to give them more juice.  "I'm going to make Mommy proud by how I fuss over you two."

"I hate fussing," Dean mumbled.

"Tough noogies."  She fed him more juice.  Then she got off the bed and hiked back to the kitchen to get them some soup or something to eat.  "Hi, Stella."  She moved around her, warming stuff up then leaving again.

Stella frowned.  "How did she know who I am?"

Jethro leaned in.  "No idea.  I'm assuming Dawn startled you?"

"Young, brunette, fashionable?"


"Buffy's sister?"  Jethro nodded.  "Okay then."  She handed him some coffee.  "We got told there was a mass meeting."

"We've got to figure out how to seal the hell goddess the kids and guards killed so she can't get out and try it again."

Stella blinked.  "Back up farther than that for the peanut gallery?"

"Glory showed up for Dawn."

She gaped, then nodded slowly, sucking back the spit that nearly came out.  "Yeah.  Okay."  She took her tea to the throne room to join him.  "Any of the guards not all right?" she called into the room they were working in.

"No, priestess.  They'll all live," the head guard reported.

"Good."  She went to find the girl.  "Dawn, some of the guards don't have anyone to fuss over them."  She beamed and went to help them too.

"Thank you," Dean mouthed.

She smiled.  "Girls like Dawn fuss."  She left.  The guard captain was trying to stop her but Dawn was giving him a long lecture on how wounded soldiers should be fussed over and treated well, especially since they had jumped in to save her life.  She finally stomped a foot then glared and stomped off to fuss anyway.  The guard captain looked at Jethro, who waved it off.

"If all GI's got fussing like that, we'd never leave the hospital," Mac said as he walked in.  "Dawn, right?"

"I am," she said.  She looked at one, hugging him.  "Thank you.  You protected me better than Buffy does sometimes."  She got back to fussing over his bandages and making sure he had some water to drink.  They got moved back to their barracks.  She looked at Jethro.  "Please?"

"You can fuss over anyone who's still in bed tomorrow, Dawn.  We'll let you cook for them tonight.  They'll appreciate that."

"Ohmygod, I think you're cool at the moment.  You understand."  She gave him a hug then went to look in the kitchen.  "There's no food!" she shouted.  "Well, no matter.  Xander won't need what's in his cabinets.  Mommy stocked it and I doubt Glory went into them to look for me."  She stomped back that way, one of the guards following her.  She grabbed the wheeled cart Xander used for hauling laundry to the laundromat.  She could stack that thing full and it'd be fine.  She emptied his cabinets and fridge, then went to make a call-in order for a few things they didn't have.  It got delivered within minutes for a tip from Xander's wallet since it was on Giles' credit card.  Then she dragged the wheeled cart back through the portal to head back to the kitchen.  If others gave her an odd look, oh well!  She was a teenager and her word was going to be law in this matter.  They would be fussed over!  She looked around then at the guard following her.  "Do you think they'd like peanut butter and bologna tonight?"

He shook his head.  "We don't usually eat those together, miss."

"Oh.  It's really good; you should try it."  She got to work cooking real food like her mother would, plus special meals for Dean, Faith, and Xander.  They'd get pasta with pepperoni, cheese, and hot peppers.  Plus a side of grilled cheese.  She handed him a tray.  "We're bringing these to Dean and Xander's room."  He nodded, carrying with her.  She walked in and moved John out of the way with a hip shove, climbing up to put the trays across their laps.  "There you go," she said, taking the other one to put on Dean's lap.  She kissed them both on the forehead.  "Eat if you can, guys.  You need it to get better and I want you better.  Better means I can nag you guys."  She gave them a pouty look.  "Please?"

"It looks good, Dawn," Xander said.  She beamed and climbed off the far side of the bed then walked off with the guard following behind her.  Xander waited until she was out of hearing.  "We're going to need to sedate her later," he said quietly.

"I heard that!  I can fuss worse, Mister."

"No, this is good," Dean said.  "I feel really spoiled and special and thanked, Dawn."  She came back to give him a hug then made him eat a pepper before leaving.  "It's not bad.  Good sauce."  He dug in.  Xander handed over his peppers too.  "You sure?"

"I don't think I'm up to crapping fire tonight."  He dug into the rest.  Dawn would be checking and might even smell their breath if they didn't eat it.  It was good.  They were hungry after earlier.

Dawn walked into Faith's room, handing Sam the tray she had carried.  "Here you go, for Faith when she wakes up.  She needs food to feel better.  Mommy does."

"I'm sure she'll appreciate it, Dawn."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "Thank you for fussing for me."

She beamed.  "You're welcome.  Need anything else?"

"Not yet.  Maybe later.  We'll conspire later to give her a good dessert and stuff."

She gave him a hug.  "I stole Xander's ice cream and all the sundae stuff plus the bananas.  We can make them sundaes."

"She'll love that."  She beamed and bounced out.  He put the food down on the bedside table, going back to his own fussing.  She had gotten really hurt!  That wasn't good of her.  He'd have to fuss more so she'd get hurt less.  It's a plan that seemed to work for Dean and Xander.

The guard stopped her from going into the kitchen.  "Horatio and Mac wanted to meet you, Dawn."  She went that way.  "Her sister wasn't a steamroller.  I wonder if it comes from their mother," he mused quietly.   He followed.  The girl would get into trouble if they didn't watch her.  Xander and Faith had.

She curtseyed properly.  "Thank you for letting me fuss, Jethro.  It's important they feel thanked for helping me with that."

"Not a problem, Dawn.  The boys need it since they're both injured and I know Sam won't think about eating anything until she has."

"That's why I made her a triple sized plate.  Because slayers eat a lot but she'll make him eat the rest.  Or I can make more.  Do you believe they don't eat peanut butter and bologna around here?  It's really good."

"I've never had that combination myself," Horatio said.  "I'll have to split one with my nephew."  She smiled.  "Miss Summers, correct?"

"Yup, sure am.  Dawn."  She held out a hand.  "You are?"

"Horatio.  In my current life, Horatio Caine, Miami-Dade PD."

"Ohmygod, you have one of the coolest cities in the world.  Not a lot of brain trust sites but a lot of pretty people.  Right behind New York and LA from what the news mags say."

"We do," he agreed with a pause for decoding the babble.  Yes, she could have naturally been Dean and Xander's child.

"Calm down," Danny said.  "I can't decipher babbling.  I usta hafta cover Xander's mouth when he was little."

She snorted.  "Did that work?  It didn't for Mommy."

"Now and then we had to make him repeat it a few times," Mac assured her.  "I'm Mac, this is Danny, Don, and Stella."

"How did you know me?" Stella asked.

"Xander described you perfectly, down to the curly hair that made him think straight guy thoughts."  Stella blushed at that.  "You had to be Stella.  He said you're the only woman in the group."

"There's a former mother hen in Miami who was sent back due to the same curse," Horatio told her.  "Alexx hasn't been told they're injured.  Xander tried to hide from her last time."

She snorted, waving a hand around.  "He will not and cannot hide from me.   I'll make Buffy or Willow track him down."  She smiled, straightening up some.  "Want me to make dinner for you guys too?  And should I make dinner for the guards now?"

"Their guard commander said most are on soup tonight.  Make them a good lunch tomorrow," Mac said.

"I can do that.  Because they had Xander syndrome and it saved me from the nasty, skanky hell goddess who used to show up not wearing panties to try to find me in Giles' shop.  She didn't even look good in the outfits she chose!  I mean, hello!  What sort of *goddess* can't shop!  Even my sister can shop.  Mom taught her very well."

Stella nodded.  "That's true.  It's a pitiful goddess who can't shop.  I can.  You obviously can."  The girl beamed at that compliment.  "Should we tell anyone?"

"I told Buffy's cellphone," John said as he walked in with the trays.  "They said thank you, Dawn.  It helped them take a good nap."

"They need it.  They got all banged up for me.  Put them in there and I'll wash dishes in a minute."  He did that.  "Was Buffy's phone off or just her pouting?"

"I had her doing katas in the woods.  She went home to fuss over Giles for a bit."

"That's fine.  Giles needs it too because he'll be worried."

"I tried the Magic Box.  Anya squeaked and hung up on me."  He came back out.   "Let me check on Faith."

"I made her a triple plate so she could make Sam eat some too," she told him.

"That's good of you, Dawn.  Some day you'll make an excellent fussy mother."  She beamed.  "Just like yours."

"I'm not sure if I can have cocoa with the vamps like my mom does when they need it.  But I guess if they're souled or in pain or chipped like Spike is it'd be okay."

John shook his head.  "Don't make me start on Spike, Dawn."  She huffed.  "He's still dangerous and evil."

"So?  He's less evil than Buffy with PMS and no chocolate.  Or Willow, who accidentally turned someone into chocolate and started to nibble on an ear but Tara made her put it back and then change the poor guy back.  He had to be walked off by my sister because he was crying."

"I'd cry too if a cannibal witch was attacking me," Tony said.  John walked off shaking his head.  The magical teacher came back.  "How do we trap her?"

"We bury her body and keep it sealed.  She had to be summoned to be let go."

"We can do that," Jethro agreed.  "The bottom of the prism mine good enough?"

"Quite.  Make sure she's not uncovered next millennia.  She can be called back then."  That got a nod and the guards went to do it when Jethro waved.  He looked at Dawn.  "You have a small gift on your own."  She nodded.  "You will be training with an appropriate teacher."


"I said appropriate, child.  Not one who makes major mistakes.  Like will spells."

"Okay.  You?"

"Me or someone I've taught who I trust.  Lord Xander would agree if he was awake."  He looked at the group.  "We must find a way to keep the hellmouth from infecting the boy again.  He's nearly as bad off as he was the last time I drained him."

"I doubt you could get him to give up the town," Jethro said.

Dawn nodded.  "Not while my sister's alive and the town needs him."

"What about more vacation time off it?" Mac suggested.  "Letting him go out to hunt with Dean more often."

"He's got to work to pay for the apartment," Dawn said.

"Good point," Horatio said, considering it.  "I'd rather he was safer and it seems to be safer to hunt with Dean than to hunt in Sunnydale."

"Perhaps we could switch slayers?"

"Sam's living up in Palo Alto to go to Stanford.  That's a good few hours away," Dawn said.  "Plus Faith had a bad upbringing, like Xander did.  She needs her stability to make sure she's okay and on track."  They all stared at her.  "Faith had the same dark streak Xander has and they both show it now and then by going wild on a hunt in anger or frustration."  That got a nod from Jethro.  "Sam balanced that out for her and lets her gather her own team without having to deal with Willow.  Xander would do it with her, not a problem, he'd jump at it probably, but she needs her own team. Sam's being her watcher and backup."

"So if we could gather her own team like another witch and whoever it'd probably help?" Stella asked.

"Could.  I don't know how Faith would feel about that."

"That's a good point to know," Jethro said.  He looked at Mac, who looked sad.  "It wasn't your fault the curse hit, Mac."

"I always knew there was something missing.  Claire tried to get me to find it."

"How would you have without memories?" Don asked.

"I know."

"You shouldn't feel that guilt," Horatio said.  "It wasn't your fault the curse hit and you did not know or place them in those families, Mac.  Even if you had been old enough, which you barely were, you couldn't have taken them from their families."  Mac looked at him.  "Would you have let Claire raise them while you were overseas on assignment?"

"No.  I would've done my best to be stateside if we had kids," he admitted.  Dawn gave him a hug.  "Thanks, Dawn."

"You're welcome.  Am I going to meet Claire?  She sounds nice."

He gave her a sad smile.  "She was in the Towers."  She gave him another hug, making him pat her.  "It's been a long time, Dawn."

"Still sucks and hurts, Mac.  You never get over grief like that."  She pulled back to look at him.   "Would she want you to mope?"

"No," he said with a bigger smile.  "She'd take a pillow to my head for moping."

"Good.  Then she was a sensible woman as well.  She obviously loved you if she stayed even while you were always overseas.  Sunnydale teaches that you have to live while you have it because any day you could be vamped or staked on your own stake."

"That's a good point.  Thank you."

"You're welcome."  She heard walking and looked.  "Faith, what are you doing out of bed?"

"I love the fussing, Little D, but ease off.  You're not your mother."

She huffed.  "Mommy would not be pleased with me if I didn't fuss and baby you for saving my life from that badly dressed psycho chick on mental crack."  Faith cackled.  "She was sucking sanity out of people.  Buffy found that out.  She'd dig her fingers into their heads and suck it out."

"Maybe they did it to B?" she teased.

Dawn snickered.  "No, she had bad boy syndrome again.  John was working with her."

"That's good.  Can I have that chair?"  Dawn got it for her then went to get them drinks.

"Make coffee, Dawn.  Jethro lives on the stuff," Tony called.  "How are you feeling, Faith?"

"Pretty darn good considering I got my ass handed to me."

"You took on a hell goddess," Jethro said.  "I don't expect you to be superhuman, Faith."

She spit at him.  "I'll be fine."

"Where's Sam?" Dawn asked as she came out with juice for her.  She went back to the kitchen.

"Cleaning up the bed."  She shifted, sipping her juice.  "Dawn, make normal coffee," she called.  Tony went to help the poor girl.  She let John taste her juice.  He shrugged, not knowing what it was either.

"It's the orange/papaya juice mom's been able to drink recently.  I stole it from Xander's fridge.  Since his apartment is totally trashed I figured I'd feed you guys up here."

"Sure.  That's cool," Faith agreed.  Sam walked in.  She let him have the juice to drink.

"Orange/papaya.  That carton you were giving strange looks to at the store."  He looked around.  "Dean and Xander?"

"Bed," John said.  "I'm going to pack up their place before the vampires get it."  That got a nod and he went to do that.

"Sam, you're wonderful, but get off," Faith said after another few minutes of fussing.  Sam pouted, gave her the dreaded puppy dog eyes and pouty face.  "No pouty face," she ordered.  He added more pitiful.  "That's not fair."

He grinned.  "I know.  You need fussed over.  Otherwise you're really hurt."

"Slayers heal," she reminded him, finishing her juice.  Dawn came out with it.  "Water please, Dawn?  That's a bit sweet for me."

"Sure," she said, kissing her on the head.  "Sam, anyone?"  Stella held out her glass.  Sam took some of his own.  She walked back in there, coming out with the coffee tray.  "Here we go.  Xander's special blend of coffee for tired construction workers.  I also brought his flavored creamers."  She let Jethro take the first one and pour regular coffee.  The others got what they wanted.  Tony took it to put on a table.  She pulled a chair to sit down.  "Now what?  Since the main emergency is gone thanks to them.  Would they like beans?  Like salad beans?"

"Have one of the guards watch you, he'll tell you if something's not going to work for them," Tony said.  He took a sip of his coffee, nodding.  "Good stuff."

Jethro sipped then looked in his cup.  "Why does it taste like chocolate mint?"

"Xander bought it, boss.  King sweet tooth," Tony reminded him.  He took another sip.  He reached back to grab the creamer.  "Here."  Gibbs added some with a head shake.  Tony put the creamer back and the rest drank theirs too.  "Do we see a problem if Xander has to adopt Dawn?"

"No," Jethro said.  "They said there wouldn't be a problem since it's over with.  Adopting the sister of a friend who needed you was very honorable and kept them from spawning anytime soon."  Dawn laughed.  "They weren't sure that egg would be sane."

"I'm not sure Xander is all the time since he's out of bed too."  Xander limped in.  "I raided your kitchen to save the stuff."

"That's fine, munchkin."  He patted her on the head, getting a soda then sitting down once she had moved.  He stretched his leg out.  "What're we doing with the body?"

"I'm all for posting her head as a trophy," Dawn offered.

Jethro looked at her.  "We haven't done that since the last realm war.  It's not considered polite, Dawn."

"Okay.  Just a personal opinion."  She looked at the teacher.  "Bury it?"

"Bury it where no one can get to it.  They're taking it to the bottom of the prism mines and back as far as they can.  With a warning planted with her.  It should keep her from being summoned back next time."

"That sounds like a plan," Xander agreed.  He took another drink, looking back as Dean wobbled in.  "You could've slept."

"I wasn't being mugged and smooshed.  It woke me up."  He looked at Faith, then at Xander.  Xander pulled him down onto his lap.  "I'm too heavy."

"Shut up.  If you're making me hurt I'll move you."  He shifted him to the unbruised side. "Now what?"

"John's packing up your stuff," Jethro said.

"You were overly tainted by the hellmouth again," the teacher told him.  "You must quit doing that."

Xander made a buzzer noise.  "I can't leave until it falls in or Buffy dies."

"It can make you more ill."

"I noticed that after I got back the last time.  Still not good of me since she needs my help."

"There is that," he admitted.  "You could hunt more often with your mate or stay up here more often."

"I can and will but I still have to be able to afford the rent on our future new place since I'm guessing ours was trashed?"  Jethro and Dean nodded.  "I'm sorry she found our portal."

"It happens," Horatio said.  "She was very determined to get Dawn."

"She didn't know she was the key," Xander said quietly.  "She found out one of Buffy's crew had it hidden.  I'm guessing she made the jump in logic to 'one of them is off realm so he must be hiding it from me'."

"That's even better," Jethro decided, finishing his coffee.  "Any normal coffee, Dawn?"

"Nope and I didn't find any in the cabinets either."

"We can retrieve some later if we need to," Horatio said.  He finished his own coffee.  It wasn't bad.  Xander grinned.  "Nice choice."

"It's good after a long day of pounding things.  We're rebuilding the old school."  Dawn gaped.  "On the same land.  Mostly with the same layout."  She moaned, covering her face.

"So they're going to fill in the rest of the hole then build overtop of it?" Faith asked.

"They can't sell it," Xander said.   "No money to buy new land."

"Hell," Sam muttered.

"Very," Xander agreed.  Someone stomped in.  "Um, you would be?"

"Internal Affairs in my department," Horatio said.  "Rick, did you need something?"

"Why do they have head fins?"

"Because they're like that," Jethro said.  "Federal Agent, hotshot.  Why the hell are you here?"

"Yelina thought he was missing.  Again.  She panicked when you weren't home."

"No, we're holding a meeting," Horatio said.  "About the clan I watch over's newest member since Xander is adopting Dawn if her mother gets too ill."  He pointed at her.  "You can tell Yelina that.  She'll ask me herself later."  Rick scowled, crossing his arms over his chest.

Xander looked at Horatio.  "Does he often give you the boyfriend scowl?"

"Yes," he said dryly.  "Without reason."

"Guards!" Faith called.  Two rushed in.  "He crossed through Horatio's portal.  He's upsetting Horatio and Sam's going to go off on him soon for interrupting his fussing.  Toss him back please?"  They picked the struggling guy up and carried him off.  "I'm too sore to be polite or diplomatic."

Xander patted her.  "They wanted me to take Dawn to a more protected realm, which would make me one."

Faith looked at him.  "You'd scare everyone into never fucking with us again, X.  Really you would."  He beamed at that compliment.

"Yes but they'd be too scared to help us if we needed allies," Mac said dryly.

"I'm polite enough when I want and need to be.  I'd make up for it," Dawn assured him.

"I'm sure you would," Mac said with a smile.   "You seem very nice and polite."  Buffy came out of the portal.  "John done?"

"Nearly."  She looked at Faith, then at Dean and Xander.  "Battling with Dawn up here?"

"The bitch came through Dean and Xan's portal," Faith said.  "Tossed Dean around.  X got into her face."

"Xander!" she shouted, glaring at him.  "You are not a slayer!  You can't do things like that!"

"Faith came up with guards to help me," Xander assured her.  "We got her."

She gaped.  "You did?" she asked Faith.  Faith drank her water, nodding some.  "Thank you."  She gave her a hug then Dean and Xander a hug no matter which of the three protested.  "Dawnie, are you all right?"

"I'm fine.  They have a magical teacher up here and I helped him by letting him suck some of the extra energy out of me so I don't bounce so much while I fuss over them and the guards who saved me."

Buffy smiled.  "Mom would be proud."

"I know.  How is she?"

"I called.  The CT showed improvement.  The new medicine made her feel better.  She's okay and they're making her take vitamins and trying something new to fight off the anemia.  They said they found a small issue that's not the tumor but it could be fixed when they went in to remove it next week."  She nodded, biting her lip.  "Hey, it's Mom, Dawnie.  She's just as tough as I am and as tough as you are."  That got a happier nod.  "We can fuss over her for *weeks* after the surgery.  Until she whines like Xander will be."

"She made us a very good thank you dinner," Xander told her.

"She learned it from Mom since I can't cook.  Probably won't ever be able to cook."  She shrugged.  "Anything I or Giles needs to know?"

"She's being buried with a warning somewhere no one should be able to find her," Tony told her.

"Okay."  She bounced off, going to tell him that.  She walked into the Magic Box a few minutes later.  "She tried to get Dawnie up on the head fin realm."  He stared at her.  "Xander, Faith, and Dean managed it with some guards.  Dawnie's fussing over them greatly.  They're all really heavily bruised but they're burying her somewhere no one should be able to find her and with a warning."

"That is excellent news," he said with a gentle smile.  "How did she get up there?"

"She heard somehow that Xander was off realm I guess.  She trashed their place.  That's probably how Dean got hurt.  Xander and Faith got her according to Dawn.  She's making them dinner and stuff."

"Then she's found a good group of people to help her if she should need it."  She beamed too.  "How is your mother?"

"They said she'll be okay.  The CT showed improvement."

"Even better."

She stared at him.  "You're not happy?"

"I am...I was contemplating a vacation back home during the slowdown this time."

"That's cool.  You're coming back, right?  Because John did the butt-kicking thing *really* well.  He told me why a slayer needs a watcher and I didn't realize I was ignoring your part of my duty."  She gave him a hug.  "I'm glad you're my watcher, Giles."  He patted her gently, relaxing into the hug.  She smiled up at him.  "I'll even let you ignore Xander's pleas when Dawn needs help school shopping instead of begging you to help her."

"I think I can be back long before then, Buffy."  She beamed and bounced off again.  "Where are you going now?"

"John chewed me a new one for not practicing.  I'm going to practice."

He smiled.  "Thank you, John Winchester," he whispered.


John stared at Faith later that night.  "How are you staying in practice?"

"Sam had me sign up for a class at the school.  It's a martial arts class to add to my already formidable skills he said."  She looked at him.  "Plus he had me find a job at a gym so I can stay in shape and help others get there because my body's the role model of a goddess according to him."

John smiled.  "I swear Dean taught him too well."

She punched him on the arm.  "Maybe but it's sweet.  It's also helpful.  Anytime I don't have clients I can join any class that's going on.  Recently I've had a few extra spaces around kickboxing and zumba class."  He frowned.  "It's part dance part exercise.  Helps tons in the club, which is our main hunting area in Palo Alto."

"Good.  It sounds like he's made good plans."

"You get B off her 'eww I'm sweaty' kick?"

"Yes.  We spent a delightful two weeks in the woods working on her training."  Faith cackled.  "She did good."

"Good.  You did bring him back his scythe, right?"

"I'm going to give it to him at the after-dinner meeting."

"He'll appreciate that."  She punched him on the arm.  "I'm going to go hide from Sam's fussing some more."

"If you can."  He watched her go hide.  It wasn't going to work.  Namely because Mac or Horatio would tell Sam where she was hiding. They were mean that way.  He could appreciate that sort of meanness.  He walked off, going to track her.  He found Xander trying to hide from Dawn but that wasn't going to work either.  He pointed him out to Horatio, who nodded he'd tell Dean.  He found Faith as he walked past her.  He pointed out her position to Mac, who nodded he'd alert Sam when he came looking.  John went to get the special scythe from his room, pulling out the silk wrapped bundle.  He opened it to look at then rewrapped it before he could touch it.  Xander would pout if he found any fingerprints but his own and Buffy's.  He carried it out to dinner, putting it behind his back.

Xander looked around before running in, grabbing a plate, then his scythe with a coo, and fleeing to the garden.

"She said thank you," John called after him, having to smile.  You had to smile.  The boy loved his weapon so much more than even Dean loved his.  Dean walked in and looked around, grabbing his own plate before going to hide in his own hidden area inside the castle.  "Who're they hiding from?"

"Dawn," Horatio said.  He handed John the bowl of potatoes.  "That his other scythe?"

"It was.  I was going to give it to him after dinner."

Sam walked Faith in and sat her down, sitting next to her.  "See, she's not fussing right now."

"Xander and Dean already grabbed food and ran," Mac said, handing her the meat.

"See, that's what we need to do," Faith told Sam.  Dawn came in pouting.  "We love you, D, but you fuss *so* bad.  Too bad for guys like us who aren't used to fussing.  I doubt Daddy fussed like you can.  Fussing like that is for girls like Buffy."

She stomped a foot.  "Doing good things means you get fussed over."

"Do you fuss over B when she saves the world?" Faith asked.

"I wasn't created the last time she saved the world.  But yes, I will be."

"Good!"  She smiled.  "Go fuss over the guards.  I've been trying to duck Sammy boy's fussing.  They don't have anyone to fuss over them."

"Fine," she sighed, going to fix them something good for dinner.

"They're on thin stuff tonight," Jethro reminded her.  She found soup mix and a huge pot, getting to work.  "Boil the water first.  It's got some natural bacteria that can make upset stomachs sick."  She did that then added the soup mix, stirring it until it was perfect.  She added more stuff to go with it then got one of the guards to help her carry it down there.  "She's a good girl."

"She's going to grow into one fussy mother some year," John told him.  "Just like her mother.  She's learned well at her mom's knee."

They all smiled at that.

Faith looked out toward the garden.  "Xan must be close.  I hear cooing and a complaint about Buffy's fingerprints."

They all laughed.  Xander was an original.

"How did you know there was a problem?" Stella asked Faith.

She shrugged.  "Twin bond?  That's how I knew he was in trouble when Dean's group helped him out."  She ate a bite of dinner then gulped her water.  "Peppers," she gasped, grabbing Sam's glass too.

Horatio poured her some.  "Rinse and spit, Faith."  She went to the sink to do that.  He checked his dinner.  "Who put jalepenos into the hamburger helper?"

"Dawn cooked," Stella said.

"Ah."  He handed her over the bread when she came back.  "Here."

"Thank you."  She got them both more to drink and prepared herself, mixing in bites of bread between.  It was still hot.  Sam kissed her temple.  "Thank you too."  He stole it and got her a hamburger, making her a happy slayer.  "You're great."  She dug in, eating hard.

Tony smiled.  "Don't like peppers?"

"Not my ethnic cuisine."   She ate another bite.  Dawn came back.  "Hey, D."

"Don't like peppers?"

"Not something I'm used to, D.  Sammy made me a hamburger."

"Way to go, Sammy," she said with a beaming smile.  "Good spoiling!"  She gave him a hug around the neck, then went to lean outside.  "Get your ass in here or no dessert!" she bellowed.  "I will lock up every single cookie, candy, and the ice cream!"

"No you won't," Jethro said.

"I will if he doesn't show up in the next two minutes."  Xander came back, giving her a pout.  She smiled, patting him on the cheek.  "Sit and eat."  He went to get seconds and eat them.  "Dean, you too!"

"We have our own stash!" Dean called from somewhere.

"I ate them last time I was up," Xander called.  "Or I'd still be hiding."

"I can teach you how to pick locks," Sam told him.  Xander smiled and nodded.  Dean trudged in, sitting down to get more dinner too.

"Good boys," Dawn said with a pat on their heads.  "Especially since there's pie."  She went to pull them out of the fridge, then the ice cream from the freezer.  They gulped their dinner and dug out huge slices and large scoops of ice cream, then went back to hiding.  "See, they would've missed that if they weren't being good."  She kissed Jethro's forehead.  "It's no- bake pie.  It's actually bought pie but no one really minds if I spruced it up, right?"  She bounced off, going to fuss over Xander's room.  He needed his sheets changed and his bed remade from the bleeding and ice packs leaking.

Jethro checked.  "No pickles or anything abnormal."

Don dove in first.  He needed pie.  The others got theirs afterward but Stella took ice cream instead.

Jethro looked around.  "Do we need another meeting?  Our director beeped a few hours ago."

"No," Stella said.  "It's handled."

"Good."  He finished up and went back to his house.  Tony followed, heading out to his car to go back to his apartment, still nibbling on the crust.  He put the portal on standby and went to work on his boat.  He found the director down there.  "You that bored?"

She looked up.  "Where were you?  I didn't hear a car until DiNozzo left."

He stared at her.  "It's my downtime, Director.  I don't have to answer anything  unless I'm breaking the law.  Which I'm not and you know that."  He took the sanding paper from her hand.  "You've shaved an inch too much off.  I'll have to replace that board."  He measured and went to cut a new one.

"What were you doing, Jethro?"

"Talking to some people."

"And the gray spot in your closet?"

He looked at her.  "You have a search warrant?"

"What you do directly impacts the agency, Jethro."

He snorted.  "I've been a senior agent longer than you've been with the agency, Jen."


"Nothing I do on my off-hours is going to look bad on the agency."  He gave her a look.  "Unlike certain vendettas."  She glared back.  "What I do, I do with honor.  The same as I did as a Marine.  Now, anything else, Director?  Since you've searched my house without a warrant and are going to be up on charges tomorrow for breaking and entering?"

"I have a good reason.  One of my agents keeps disappearing with his senior agent."

"The normal opinion is that we're off having sex," he said dryly.  She gasped, staring at him.  "That's what half the floor thinks we do in our downtime anyway.  You haven't heard that rumor yet?"

"Are you?"

"No.  That is the most common assumption though.  Clearly you missed some lessons when I taught you how to reason out cases."  He cut into the board, blocking her out.  She stomped off after trying to get his attention again.   He laughed, shaking his head.  He did call Tony to warn him.  "DiNozzo, the director apparently searched my house for the reason we keep heading off.  I told her she missed the obvious conclusion.  Ah, found her?  That's good.  Did you have Officer David arrested?"  He smirked.  "Good."  He hung up and got back to work.  She had ruined that board.  His poor boat.  Having a woman touch her bones.


Tony strolled up to the cell, looking at the woman inside.  "Having a good time?"

"No," she sneered.

"Then next time, don't break into my apartment."  He walked off again, going to work.  "Boss," he said as he walked in.  "Officer David is going to be delayed getting here today."


"She hasn't been arraigned yet."  McGee's head popped up and gave him a horrified look.  "She broke into my apartment, Probie.  Yes, I had her arrested for it."  He sat down.  "She's due to be arraigned at nine or so.  I stopped in to check."

"That's fine.  She can come explain herself to me then."  He looked at Kate, who came trotting in.  "You're late."

"The director had me on the phone, Gibbs, trying to get me to reason with you two about being gay."

"I'm not gay."

"She thinks it's a bad sign of something horrible coming.  An apocalypse or something."

"I'm told those happen in the spring," Tony quipped.  "Was she arrested too?"

"No.  She claimed she was checking for where her senior agent had disappeared to," Gibbs said.  "The SecNav was not pleased however."  She stomped by their row.  Tony waved with a grin.  "In a good mood?" Gibbs asked dryly.

"Yup.  She didn't ruin anything, unlike my last ex that tried to toss my apartment."

"What happened?" McGee demanded.  Gibbs looked at him.  He ducked his head, spluttering some.  "I mean, is this a team problem?"

"No," Tony said.  "*Someone* wanted to know where we go when we disappear for a few hours."

"I figured you guys were doing stuff to blow off steam," McGee said.  "Not in a gay way," he said quickly at Gibbs' look at him.  "But maybe boxing or something?"

Tony smirked.  "No.  Sometimes we have to check on a family that we know.  They have some responsibilities that they need help with."

"So you go to help them out, give advice, that stuff?" Kate asked.


"Tony, who'd take advice from you?" she asked dryly.

"Quite a few people.  Including their kids."  She gaped.  "Who are a bit wild.   Remember Xander?"  She nodded slowly.  "He's part of that family."

"Oh."  She nodded quickly.  "They need sanity?"

"No, just some advice now and then," he told her.


"What?  That's what's going on.  No matter who thinks otherwise."  He gave her a dirty look.  "Don't we have an open case?"

They got to work.  They knew that tone of voice.

The director stomped back an hour later with Ziva.  "I do not like how you had her arrested," she sneered at Tony.

Tony looked up.  "Then next time, don't have her break and enter into my apartment, Director.   She was actively in the scene of the crime.  Not like I'm living with her."

"You should."

"She's not my type," he said.  "Mine are beautiful and talented."  She stepped closer.  "And if you sent her, you're going to be an accessory.  There's no reason for her to be searching my apartment.  We all know that I don't have the time to do anything and if I did, Gibbs would get me himself."

"With great pleasure," Gibbs said.  "I'd have him in a cell within minutes and begging even sooner."  He looked at her.  "That was offensive, Director.  Especially without a good reason."

"Half of my top team goes missing and I'm not supposed to wonder?" she shot back.

"You could try asking," Gibbs said.  "It would've gotten you a better response than a restraining order."  He handed it to her then sat back down.  "I suggest you not try it again."

"Is that psychotic young man coming back?"

"Right now he's a bit bruised from having to save a young woman he knows from being attacked by an older woman who wanted to kill her," Tony said.  "If so, he's hiding from the young one fussing over him."

"He had better not," she snarled.  "I do not want him here."

Jethro looked at her.  "You do realize that he may have a purpose for being here?  Including the fact that he handles problems in his hometown that get people killed?  Including finding a whole warehouse full of weapons recently?"  She gaped.  "You have no idea what he does, Director.  Xander is perfectly nice as long as you aren't getting into his face.  Which you did.  You're very lucky he didn't attack you when you first tried to hit him.  He is very brutal in his own defense.  As some people in the Army found out."

"That may be why CID called, boss," McGee said, pointing at the phone.  "They called me to tell you they left you a voicemail about upcoming trials."

Gibbs dialed in, listening intently and taking notes.  "Thank you, McGee."

"Many trials, boss?" Tony asked.

"Yes.  You're going to be called on a few of the trials.  They need the team out there ready and prepped for it as well."  He looked at him.  "Starting late next month.  They'll email an exact date."

"Sure.  Let me know.  Am I prepping them for the trial?"

"That would be considered a conflict.   They wanted me to."  They shared a look.  "We'll see what we can come up with.  Buffy will have to learn to focus."

"Xander too, boss."

"We'll work on that."  He sent an email to Fornell to warn Epps that it was coming.  Then he got back to work on his current case.  He got an email from Dawn a few minutes later, reading it over.  "DiNozzo, call Xander.  Dawn said he's hiding somewhere she can't find or he's off doing things the healer would be pissed at."

Tony leaned back, dialing his cellphone.  "Dawn's worried you're doing something that's bad for you?"  He listened.  "He's practicing with Sam, boss."

"No.  Not with his injuries.  He has to have clearance, the same as Faith does."

"Gibbs said that you had to have clearance, Xander.  Tough."  The boy hung up on him.  He called back but it went right to voicemail so it was off.  "He shut his phone off."

"I'll spank him in a few minutes," he said, calling John's phone.  "Are they in good enough shape to be practicing, Winchester?"  He smirked.  "No, not from what I saw last night they're not.  Medical clearance.  Yes, I'm serious.  All four of them."  He hung up.

"Think it'll work?" Tony joked.

"No but it'll give us a good reason to let Mac spank them."

"Or we could hand them to Dawn to fuss over," Tony said.

Gibbs looked at him.  "She's a nice girl but that's an evil idea, DiNozzo.  Have more coffee."

"Sure, boss, want me to get you one while I'm out?"

"Please.  I have the feeling I'll need it."  Tony grabbed his stuff, heading out for coffee.  He looked at his other team members.  "Don't say a word."

"What case?" Kate asked.  "Do the rest of us need to refresh ourselves?"

"Remember a huge CID case that DiNozzo had to go out to handle a few Marine and Navy based scientists after it was brought down?"

"Out in Sunnydale," McGee said.  Gibbs nodded.  "So we don't have to worry about it."

"You shouldn't have to."

"Even better," Kate decided.  She got back to work.  She'd ignore the huffy director and Ziva David.  They got themselves into trouble.  Not her.  Thankfully they hadn't tried it on her place or she'd have shot someone.

Fornell stomped in an hour later, looking at Gibbs.  "Restraining order?"

"She decided to search my house because I was off having dinner."  He looked up from his typing.  "She also lost Officer David to a jail cell last night when DiNozzo found her in his apartment."  Tony walked off the elevator, handing over the coffees.  "Took you long enough."

"I ran into someone who wanted an opinion on a personal problem. Namely their marriage."

"Thank you, Tony," McGee said.

"Welcome, Probie.  You too, Kate."

"Thanks, Tony."  She sipped and grimaced.  "Maple?"

"They were out of your regular type.  I said a half shot."

"More like a double shot but okay."  She took another sip then added a packet of something from her desk drawer. "Better.  Is someone in trouble for her stunt, Fornell?"

"You could say that."  He looked at Gibbs.  "You're relived of duty for the day, Gibbs.  Your whole team with Abby and Ducky."

"Impossible.  There's no other lab techs," Gibbs said.

"This is from higher than both of us," he said quietly, handing over the order.  "They want you out of the crossfire so you can't cloud anything."

"I have to finish up a few case files."

"Then take them to the coffeeshop and work on them there," he ordered.  "All of you, for the day."  They shrugged and grabbed stuff after turning off their computers.  "Abby will meet you wherever."  He looked at Gibbs.  "You might want to stop Xander.  He's doing more than practicing."

"Tapping the lines?"

"Not us."  Gibbs snarled.  "Maybe the pixies should've had her?"

"Maybe," he agreed dryly.  He gathered stuff and left behind his people.  "Have fun."

"Loads."  He waited until they were gone before calling in his team.  They rushed in, turned everything on with the master code the computer tech division had given them, looking for information under the scope of their warrant.

The director stomped down.  "What do you think you're doing, Agent Fornell?"

He stared at her.  "Enforcing a warrant, Director."

She smirked.  "Someone suspects Jethro of doing something?"



"No.  Or McGee or Todd or anyone else legitimately on that team."  He walked away from her.  "Reports?"

"Six translated documents, sir," one said.  "All in another language.  Two appear to be case reports.  The others are encrypted and translating them turns them into gibberish."  He ejected a CD and handed it to him.  "For Thompkins, sir.  He's our best at that stuff."

McGee came off the elevator, walking over to his desk to grab something.  He looked at the CD.  "Encrypted?  She uses the Ballist cypher.  It's on her home machine."  They all smirked.  "By the way, my encrypted stuff is personal information.  Including on my sister."  He left again once he had his mp3 player. "Abby's is her gaming files or her artwork," he called before getting on the elevator.

"That's good to know," Fornell said dryly.  He called in an agent to get that CD sent off.  The director tried to have them stopped but he arrested the interfering agent to get them out of the way.  She stomped back their way.  "Director, I would report to your office.  Within hours there's going to be a personal phone call for you from one of the higher ups on the reason for the warrant."  He went back to waiting.  "Anything else?"

"Gibbs has no porn on his computer, Deputy Director.  I thought every agent has some," one of the lesser techs reported.

"He's not like that.  After three divorces, he doesn't need it any more."

"Glad that wasn't me," he decided, going back to searching.

"Why does DiNozzo have gay stripper tapes in his desk?"

"Scuito's birthday present," someone in another row called.  "Can you maybe ruin people a bit more quietly?  Some of us still have work to do.  There's all sorts of other evil creatures beyond a corporate bitch in fuck me heels trying to rule the world her way and get revenge on someone."

"Ignore us."

"You're too loud."

"That is an order.  We do have a warrant."

"About time.  Do it more quietly anyway."

Fornell laughed.  "Want the day off?"

"Sure, if you come find this missing lieutenant colonel."

He went to look then pointed.  "Check the arrest logs in that area.  It's a good place to get drunk and forget to show back up."  The ransom note was held up.  Fornell shrugged.  "He was still arrested down there with two agents."

"Let me look," he decided, getting into that.  "Thank you, Fornell.  What's going on?"

"A lot of bad things."

The guy looked up at him.  "Duh.  We knew that."  Fornell sneered.  He smirked back.  "Did you ask anyone to hack her personal server?  She's probably got it encrypted and Willow thinks she's got a hidden drive on her computer upstairs."

Fornell smirked.  The haircut really did make him look different.  "Does Gibbs know you're here, Harris?"

"No.  I'm hiding from Dawn being fussy.   Beyond that, he wasn't arrested.  That was his idiot brother, who snatched him."  He handed over the report with a grin and got up, strolling off.  "They might want to ask his brother where he stashed him for his bond and running away fund.  Before he runs out of air or something?  Since he's a big fan of a movie that has that sort of plotline and people are predictable."

"I can do that."  He looked at the other agents.  "That didn't worry you?  That he's not an agent?"

"We thought the director did something like she did to Gibbs when she stuck Ziva on his team without warning," the lead agent said, taking it back.  "He had a clue and he did good work.  But he might be right."  He called down there to get the brother sent to them for questioning.  They could even question him for them.  The kid has some decent ideas.  He could see how he got to that point and the two other agents he had been arrested with were looking pretty good as accomplices.

Fornell went back to supervising.  He got a report on the contents of that report and sent it to the issuer of the warrant.  They'd be calling the director later and then he'd have new orders.  He so wanted to arrest her.  She'd deserve it.  Then maybe he could borrow the CIA's pixie hit squad.  They said she smelled good the last time.


Tony opened up the door at the knock, looking at the boy standing there.  "Hiding from Dawn?"

"And other fussy people but I do have a medical clearance."  He grinned as he handed it over.  "There you go.  So the overlord can quit fussing.  Toodles."  He skipped off to his rental car, heading back to get some stuff they needed at the castle.  Including normal food that not even Dawn could warp.  Plus a few more gallons of paint.  Mac's room seriously needed work.  Even Stella had said so.  She had picked out the colors too.  He obediently fetched and carried for their priestess, then went back through Ducky's portal.  His mother cooed and pinched his cheek then went to play with her dogs.  He grinned at her back, nodding a bit for Ducky's benefit.

"She often loses track of time," he said quietly.  "Thank you, Xander."

"Proves she wasn't evil, Ducky."  That got a laugh from the older doctor.   It took two trips but they got everything through and then he went to help Dean paint.  What was left they'd donate to the new housing projects going on in town.  They might even get some work time in on them today if they painted Mac's room fast enough.  Don and Stella came to help.  After an hour they got to carry a lot of stuff down to the work sites and dive in down there.  They needed the help.  Dawn was even helping some of the guards, who were asking her questions about Sunnydale and if Buffy was seeing anyone.  The guys shared a smirk and let it go.  Let Dawn be the center of attention.  It'd do her ego good.

Back on earth, Jethro shook his head and sighed.  That boy was driving him insane.  He knew it was a short trip after Abby and DiNozzo got done with him but Xander was going to end the last little bit of his sanity.  Maybe he should turn back and make Tony bear eggs.  It might make him saner.  The kids would be more insane than the twins, but he guessed he could handle that.  They had done good enough on them until the curse switched them out of their carefully managed environment.  Or maybe the egg might be fully sane and give Abby someone to coo over.  She'd like that.  Ducky and Stella would like that.  Yeah, he'd have to find a way to do that once he had a head fin again.  However that would happen.

The End.

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