To Justice.

Way Back When:

Joxer looks at the altar in front of him, then sighed and stood up.  "I don't know what to do.  The Fates gave Xena dreams that Justice was going to be destroyed and that it was going to be in short supply until his children were born.  I don't understand why she told me.  I don't know what's going on.  Do I have a part to play in this since she told me?"

A faint glow started around the chalice on the altar and a male voice floated out. "Justice can never be destroyed, he's just going to take a long nap, Joxer," it said patiently.  "Yes, you will have a part to play, a very important part to play.  You won't realize it until many generations down the road, but you will have one."

"Ge..generations?" he stuttered.  "As in I have to have children and raise them?"

"Yes," the voice said impatiently.  "That's what generations from now of your spawn means."

"Oh," he said weakly.  "Any particular person?"

"None in Greece, Joxer.  You'll find her soon.  When they turn for home next time, turn left instead of right and keep going until someone offers you a hot bath.  Then go another ten days.  You'll understand when you're watching over your great-grandchildren."

"Okay," he agreed, happier now.  "Do I have to do anything else?"

"Just that.  Just remember, when you've got her, don't ever leave her.  If you do, she's in mortal peril from the same people who want to make Justice take the long nap.  By the way, summon Jett once your second child is born.  He'll watch over them when you die.  He's going to be around for a while."

"Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir."  He backed out, bowing the whole way.  He turned at the doors and found Xena, who was looking confused.  "You told me about your dream and it started ones of my own.  I went to ask a question."

"Did you get a good answer?"  He nodded, smiling at her.  "Good.  Come on.  We're leaving."

"Sure, Xena."  He bopped after her, happy and content to know that there was something only he could do.


Closer to Present Time:


Xander accepted the scroll and looked at it, then at the messenger.  "You want me to talk to them at a police convention?"

"They'll all be together."

"So?  And why me this time?  I got the last batch!"

"Because you're so good," he said with a smirk.  "You or me, kiddo, and I outrank you," he said happily.  He disappeared.

"Fuck me," he muttered, going to pack a backpack and leave a note.  No one here knew about him and what he could do.  Which was a good thing or else he'd be the daily special on the hellmouth's plate when they sacrificed him for power.  He looked up and sent himself there, landing invisibly.  He looked at the scroll again, noticing someone looking his way.  He stared her down and smiled, walking over.  "Since you can see me and all.  I need these people gathered for a special information seminar."

"Who are you?" she asked quietly.

"Xander, apparently God of training this week.  Please, dear.  You come as well even though you're not on the list."  She backed up and just nodded a few times, disappearing with the scroll.  He charmed it and went to find a room, putting the room number on it.  Of course, the room belonged to one of the ones he was supposed to be dealing with and the guy came back upstairs, looking really upset.  "Hi."  The man jumped so he faded slowly into view.  "We gotta talk."

"Who are you and how did you get in here?  And how did you do that?" he demanded, one hand still on his gun.

"Well, I'm a Godling, I can do that.  I'm here to talk to you and a few others about *your* families.  I'm the Messenger for the House of War on Olympus.  You might as well sit, dude, it's gonna be a long, strange one.  I don't know how to do this any way but bluntly and it's probably the worst way possible of doing this speech."

"I don't believe in that stuff."

Xander created a small ball of energy and tossed it at him, watching as he avoided it.  "It's safe."  The man carefully picked it up, eyes never leaving him.  Xander hopped up and sat in mid air, staring at him as he looked at it.  "The blonde girl who's in your head right now has the list. I need them and you here.  It's important, or else I'd be watching cartoons and eating cereal right about now."  The redhead stared at him, just glaring.  "Seriously."

"Why?"  He moved closer, still very tense.  Xander took the ball of power back and absorbed it.  "What is going on?"

"You want the short and dirty version that's gonna piss you off?"  He snorted.  "Fine.  Way long ago your family line split.  The founding of your family line was done by a man who was one of a set of triplets.  He and his wife had six kids on the orders of my father and others.  They knew down this line that the kids would be the one to reawaken Justice from his induced nap.  Since the kids left when their parents died, they haven't seen each other.  They didn't interact.  One of them died out during the plagues in the Middle Ages.  One lived but had very few children, nearly dying out a few times, but always with help when that happened," he said more gently.  "One family prospered greatly and did a hell of a lot for a very long time, but they kinda lost it around the start of Industrialization.  The others were general families, farm folk and craftsman.  They were all made to forget it and the Gods watched over the lines until the moment was right.  When the true heirs of the line are brought together and cry out for Justice, he'll awaken and the world will settle back down again," he finished, staring into his very blue eyes.  "You're one.  The others on the list are either involved somehow or are distant relatives."

"I don't believe you."

"I didn't think you would.  I have *no* fucking idea why they sent me here, even though you're all here together."

"We're all cops?"

"For the most part.  One's not but he's from your very distant uncle's line.  He's actually a vampire.  He'll be involved in this."  He shifted position, staring at him.  "I don't want to freak you out, but this is kinda my job and things are going to get worse unless Justice wakes up.  I've already trained another set of heirs.  They're making their own plea but it wasn't enough.  It has to come from the ones who live and serve Justice, every day of their lives.  The people who would've been his priests and priestesses in the old days.  So kindly gather the others so I can explain in the long version and then we can get on with the training stuff.  Otherwise it'll have to wait and more bad things will happen."


"Because, when Hera had his nap induced, she miscalculated.  Justice was a block holding a lot of bad things back, Horatio.  Without that block, the Romans were more bloodthirsty than any civilization ever seen.  Justice wasn't had through the Dark and Middle Ages.  Justice itself was very rare and came only to those who could enforce it with money.  Any good history book will tell you that."  He nodded once.  "Well, look at the world today, man.  What do you see?"

"A lack of justice," he agreed.  "That doesn't mean I believe you."

Xander pinched the bridge of his nose, a move he had stolen off Giles, but it seemed to help the headache he was growing.  He looked at him.  "Okay, I'm a Godling.  You're a Godling.  That means I can activate your powers.  Would *that* convince you?"  He shook his head. "What would?  I don't want to go through this with everyone else."

"The ball of light could've been anything," he noted, moving closer carefully.  "Prove you are who you say you are."

Xander summoned the scroll, handing it to him.  "The other names.  Which one did you want summoned?"

"The one who's listed and dead."

"Hmm.  Technically you can do that with your powers, but Hades gets hella pissed about it.  Fair warning."  He leaned forward, capturing his head and leaning his forehead against the other's.  He closed his eyes and concentrated, finding that spark of divinity that was buried deep in the bloodline, giving it tinder to light fully into a bright flame.  He pulled back and waved a hand.  "Call upon his name and at the very least we can get his shade.  His soul can come back.  His physical body might take some more work and you'll need to rest and gather power for it."

"I can...what?"

"Call upon him by name," he repeated more slowly and clearly.  "Call out for him, Horatio.  At the very least you'll get his soul back.  I know damn well he's in the Elysian fields."  The man still looked unconvinced so he smacked him upside the head, something he had learned off Hermes' grandson.  "Say his name," he repeated.

"Timothy Speedle."  He stepped back as the new person formed.  "Speed?" he asked.

"Just this once, let it go?" he demanded tiredly.  "He's telling you the truth.  I promise he is."  He moved closer, staring into his eyes.  "And you, buddy, are in deep shit for carrying on that way for the last few months.  I've seen you mourning, I don't like it.  I especially don't like the dangerous behavior out on the beach at night.  Nor do I like you riding Eric that way."  He looked at Xander.  "Why am I still on the list?"  Xander shrugged. "You didn't check?"

"Tony handed it over.  I'm only the messenger and trainer, dude.  Deal with it and move on."

"Kinda hard to do in this form."

Xander sighed and looked up.  "Yo, sperm donor, a bit of help here?" he called.  A crack of lighting went off and he had to look away, looking back and blinking at the now solid body on the floor.  "Better?" he asked him.

"All you had to do was ask," Speed complained, sitting up with a wince.  Horatio pulled him up to check him over.  "Still sore!" he said, slapping at his hands.  Then he punched him. "That's for nearly getting eaten and nearly dying!"  He looked at Xander, then took the list.  "I'll get 'em."  He walked out shaking his head.

Xander looked at Horatio.  "Believe me now?"  He nodded, sitting up to stare at him.  He grinned.  "You wanted him back, don't swear at me for it."  Then he smiled sweetly.  "Anything else you need as proof?"

"No," he said quietly.  "How many others?"

"The list contained about ten names.  As far as I was told, you're all here.  So's Tony so I have backup if I need it."  He smirked a bit.  "The main problem is teaching you guys how to handle your powers.  That way you guys don't blow up the world.  Or create a large pile of chocolate like I did."

"How long have you been doing this?"

"About six hundred years."

"You're the son of who?"

"Ares and some whore."

Horatio blinked at him.  "Excuse me?"

"Seriously.  Ares, God of War and all around leather daddy, and some whore he picked up some night.  Cupid found me when I was sixteen and activated my powers.  Congrats, you won't age without wanting it."  He hopped down when someone tapped on the door, waving a hand so it opened.  "Hey, come on in."

"I know you," one dark haired, blue eyed guy said as he walked in.  "Caine, you all right?"

"More or less."  He stood up with his help.  "I have a headache."

"Usual with the awakening of the powers," Xander offered.  "The strange stuff just added to it, dude."  He looked at the others.  "Yes, some of you have seen me handling shit so you didn't have to.  Sometimes I have to do that."  He looked and counted.  Then he concentrated.  The other two appeared and Speed walked in, closing the door behind him.  "Thanks.  This is a bit cramped, but find a spot and sit."  He hopped back into the air and sat, earning some shocked looks.  "For those of you who don't know, which is all but Horatio and Speedle, I'm Xander, Messenger for the House of War on Olympus."  He gave them a dry look. "I got handed you guys."  He locked the door when someone turned toward it, then shrugged.  "Yes, you have to listen.  Sorry.  Do you guys want the short, the long, or the complex story?"

"I don't believe this," an older guy said.  "I don't believe in this stuff."

"Really?  And how's Tony these days?" Xander asked him dryly. "He's a cousin."  He glared at him so he shrugged.  "Ask him later.  I'm here to explain something, awaken powers, train all but you, since I'm handing your ass to Tony, and get you to make one single damn prayer so the world starts working right again.  Not a big deal, okay?"  He concentrated and took a deep breath, then looked at them, nursing all the sparks into flames.  All but the one, who he looked at.  "You again," he mused.  He motioned her closer and she shook her head so he yanked her closer, looking into her eyes.  "Ah.  No wonder."  He flipped her on the head. "Different lineage.  You and Tony should start to share stories soon."  He let her go and looked around.  "Now that you're all Godlings, concentrate on something so I don't have to do something too major to create proof."

The older guy concentrated, glaring at a free spot next to the dresser.  The messenger from earlier showed up, grinning, his green eyes and brunette hair smooth and calm.  "You rang?" he asked. "Hi, boss."  He waved and grinned at the blonde woman Xander had just activated.  "Wow.  Another half-sister?"

"Yeah, Auto still gets around as the former spouse most of the time," he noted dryly.  He looked at her.  "Not to say anything about your daddy, but your momma probably couldn't tell the difference.  We're still hunting him down for that.  So if you see a guy who looks like the guy from the Evil Dead movies, handcuff him and yell really loudly for one of us.  'Kay?"  She just slowly nodded, looking very unsure.  "Tony, take her to teach her, and your boss.  I get enough bad vibes at home."  He looked at Speed, who was snickering at the shocked looks on most of the faces.  "Go ahead and try.  You can call for backup but then we'll have to move this chat somewhere bigger."  They all glared at him so he sighed and snapped his fingers, bringing them to his home temple.  "Mi casa and all that," he announced blandly, waving a hand around.  "Welcome."  He waved another hand and couches appeared.  "Sit!"  A few of them sat, staring at him.  "Good.  You too, Horatio.  You can even chain Speedle to your side if you want."

"He died," a blond guy with a heavy New York accent noted.

Xander nodded.  "He was dead up until a few minutes ago.  He was Horatio's proof."  He looked at the people who gasped and looked at him.  "He's fully alive, you can have him back in a few days.  Let's do this first, okay?  Priorities, people, or else Justice will keep sleeping and the world's going to finish going to hell."  They all glared at him so he created a mirror big enough for them all to see, narrating the story they were watching.  "That's Justice.  He's presently asleep thanks to Hera.  She was a tad bit jealous of his power over the mortals, even her followers, so she had him put down.  That was about the start of the Roman expansion."  They all moaned.  "Exactly.  He's still napping and the world gets more and more bloodthirsty while Justice is missing for those who need it the most.  The other Olympian Gods planned for this eventuality and picked a single follower to start off a few lines of people. He was one of a set of triplets."  The scene changed to show Joxer and his family.

"He prayed once he was told about some prophetic dreams and found his mate, who he had six kids with.  Once their parents and uncles had died, they went their separate ways, forced to by the Gods so that they'd be protected.  Their lines, all but one, flourished and continued.  Fortunately one of the other triplets, Jace, had kids and his line took over the duties of the missing one.  In time, they forgot all about why the family was formed.  All they knew was that they were family, their own line was safe, and to make sure it went on.  Those of you in this room, with the exception of Tony and Calleigh back there, are from those six kids.  You're the only ones who can wake Justice.  It has to be an impassioned plea by those who understand most what Justice is and what it means, both the good and the bad sides of it," he said calmly.  "When those children of the lines come together and pray for Justice to awaken, he will.  His nightmares of what's happened in his name will be broken.  Justice itself will start to return to the people, slowly but it'll spread.  You're the last of the lines.  None of you have kids...."

He stared at one.  "Okay, one of you has a child but he's a newborn."  He stared him down.  "Do you remember a redhead about eighteen months ago?"  Eric nodded. "You might wanna call and ask about the baby."  He looked at the rest of them again.  "Since Hera and Zeus were destroyed by their arrogance and power plays, the ruling of Olympus falls to the Council of Twelve with Ares in charge.  Dad assigned me to do this and Tony gets the occasional job from his grandfather, Hermes.  I was sent to tell you about this, awaken your gifts, and then teach you how to use them so you don't end up being killed repeatedly and having to explain why you keep coming back to life.  After all, just like you the world doesn't really believe in us."

Tony's boss glared at him.  "Us?"

"You're one, Gibbs.  Get over it," he snapped.  "You don't get to choose your genetic family.  None of us did.  It's not like I really wanna be the son of Ares.  I'd much rather be one of Cupid's kids or one of Hades's kids since death seems to like me so much.  It's like the gift that keeps on giving in my life."  He shivered at that so he looked at the detective who had identified him earlier.  "Yes, Detective Flack, I was in New York last year.  I was the one who handled that creature trying to eat the park.  That's where you and your coworkers remember me from.  That's what I do in my spare time because the slayer's not strong enough any more.  There's been too many close calls of the world ending."

He looked at Horatio.  "You're the straightest shot of all the kids, Caine.  In your line the lines actually mixed once.  Way back when, but they still mixed."  He looked at them.  "I'm going to put you back at the convention in a few minutes, after I do some fiddling to make sure your powers are strong enough to hold on and protect you until I can come train you.  The next time you see me, I may have a bullwhip, in some cases it'll be necessary," he said, glaring at Eric, who only grinned back.  He looked at the people from New York, and then Vegas.  "Until then, if you need me, you can call on me.  Basically that's yelling my name really loudly."  They all nodded. "Until then, do minor stuff where people can't see.  Make dinner.  Make yourself a treat.  Practice all you want, but don't try to move yourself yet.  That takes a lot of focus and training.  All right?"  They all nodded.  "Anyone still doubt?"  They all raised their hands and he groaned, leaning back on his throne.  "Fine.  Dad!"

Ares showed up and looked around. "You were supposed to go there."

"I was there but you sent me to handle a bunch of cops.  That's like sending Auto some days.  The guys in New York saw me handling the creature.  The guys in Miami are about to get a rude awakening when the vampire army overtakes them, and Vegas is still buggered thanks to Sunnydale radiating so far.  Remember, *I'm* not triplets."

Ares glared at him.  "Calm down, you're being a drama queen."

"Hey, then you prove it to them."  He got up and headed over to talk to Tony.  "I'm letting you train Calleigh and your boss," he noted dryly.  "Since I'm very much not welcome on any Federal property after taking down the Initiative."  Tony shuddered at that.  "So for now, just relax, train her like you were trained and train him like you think he needs.  It's mostly the same thing only he's a seed of Justice."

"Sure.  I'll try."  He looked at his boss.  "Sorry, boss.  I had no idea you were on the list or I'd have told you sooner."

"Kate," he said bitterly.

"That's when I found out what I was.  Ducky already had her," he said quietly, moving closer. "I've already asked if we could have her back, she didn't want to come."

"I want to see her.  That'll be proof enough."

"Sure."  He looked at Xander.  "Hades up?"

"And cranky, like usual.  But hey, we got Speedle back for Caine."  He shrugged. "You never know.  Try for Strife while you're at it.  I could use a good laugh."  Tony smiled and nodded, taking Gibbs and Calleigh with him.  He cracked his neck and stretched then went to water his plants while Ares yelled at them

"Where did they go?" a soft voice asked.  Xander turned to find the blonde guy from New York there.  "I've met them on a case before."

"They lost a team member a few months back and Gibbs wanted to talk to her.  That was his proof," he said quietly.  "I'm coming to New York second.  Miami needs me more with the vampire army building down there.  Horatio nearly got eaten the other day.  Speedle threw a fit."

"I remember him. He was always a hothead," he offered with a smile.  "So, I'm really a God?"

"Godling.  You're too young to be fully fledged yet.  That'll be next century.  Thankfully you'll always be the pretty age you are now," he offered with a smile.  That got a grin in return.  He glanced over and rolled his eyes.  "He's doing parlor tricks?"

"They're trying to prove it."

"Fuck it," he noted.  "Cupid!" he snapped.  He appeared, flying above them.  "They refuse to believe me.  I'm watering my plants.  You mind?"  He shook his head and gently landed, smiling at the stares he was getting.  Xander grinned at him.  "Wanna help?"

"Sure."  He concentrated and created a handful of water.  "Oops."

Xander chuckled and shook his head.  "Pretty common.  I did the same thing with a mug of milk.  Concentrate on the outer pot first and then the water."  Danny closed his eyes and tried it again, this time getting a little watering can with flowers.  "Hmm.  'Sephie's.  She'll come for it later.  It's always easier to call than create."  He walked him on, going to show him his plants.  He heard his name called and came back to the doorway, looking at his father and big brother.  "I'm doing my plants with Danny.  What?"

"Huh?" Ares asked, glaring at him.  "He needs trained."

"I am.  I'm teaching him how to water plants and create more water in his watering can.  Miami comes first and then New York.  Miami's got a vampire army coming up."  He went back to his watering.  He felt Tony and Gibbs pop back and looked at them.  "Forget someone?"

"Grandfather wanted to meet her," Tony admitted, looking at his boss. "Now do you see and admit it's the truth?"

"I still don't believe this."

"Yeah, I felt the same way when I nearly got cut in two during jousting practice," Xander said dryly, going back to his watering.  "Ares is a bit pissed, Tony, fair warning."

"You left him with the newbies?"

"I can't produce the proof they want," he noted dryly.  "I'm not that strong."  He moved to the next one, smiling at Danny as he created more water. "Good job."

"Thanks.  This isn't that hard."

"It's a matter of focus, imagination, and desire.  I find the hardest is orange flavored chocolate.  I always get it out of balance."

"If you catch him with any chocolate, take it away," Tony told Danny.  "Immediately.  He bounces and gets giddy and stupid on it."  He walked Gibbs back into the other room, weathering the glare.  "Grandfather has the other one, Lord Ares. He wanted to get to know his only granddaughter."  He sat down and pulled Gibbs down next to him, getting a glare for it.  "What can I help with since Xander can't come train my boss?"

"Why?" he asked impatiently.

"Um, the Initiative?" he reminded him.

Ares looked up and shook his head. "Fine.  You train your boss and your half-sister. Xander can train the rest.  Just make sure he understands why he's making the prayer.  Okay?"

"Definitely.  I want Justice back as much as anyone.  I'd like to have justice in the justice system again.  I've missed it."  He shifted some and looked at Gibbs.  "We'll go over that after I work on the beginning lessons.  It'll basically be a prayer for Justice to come back and wake up so he can start to work again.  Nothing that'll shake whatever faith you have."

"You're sure about that?"

"You already believe in Justice, Gibbs.  It's what makes you such a good agent and it's what makes you solve cases so fast.  It's what makes you push the rest of us to be as good as you are.  All you'll be doing is asking him to come back and take up his rightful spot so he can help you find justice for the victims."

Gibbs nodded.  "I want to know more first."

"I get that.  There's a book with the extended story.  I'll snitch it from Xander after he's given it to the guys in Miami and before he goes to New York.  That shouldn't take that long.  The vampire army will take more of his time."

"They exist?"

"Yeah.  We'll go visiting somewhere later.  That's how he explained it to me."  He looked at Ares again.  "Sorry for interrupting your rant."

"Not a problem.  Cops would require more proof, military men even more.  They're not the ones who think in faith every day, they deal in facts."

"Some of us are devout," Horatio noted dryly.

"Yes, but it's not the focus of your life," Ares countered.  "It won't be even after he's awake.  You guys already work for Justice as his priests."

"You just never thought about it that way before," Cupid finished.  He smiled at them.  "If you guys aren't getting it, have Xander call me.  I had to train my son.  I'm pretty good at the beginning Godling lectures."

"Your son is still a holy terror," Ares noted bitterly.  "Demeter asked Hades if Strife's soul could have went back in time to be reborn in him."  He looked at the officers again.  "I'm going to send you back to that room.  You can talk to whoever you want about this.  No one'll believe you probably but you can talk to people.  Some of you know each other.  Xander will be available to all of you, but I do agree, he's got to handle Miami's vampires first.  Before they eat you guys down there."  He looked at the New York contingent.  "I'm sure he'll be popping up as often as he can to help you guys get started as well.  That's got to take precedence though.  Vegas is quiet so he can pop around there between times."  They all nodded and Danny came back.  He looked at him.  "You've got a good handle on the beginning lectures."

"I figure he can help tutor while I'm wiping out the vampires," Xander said as he rejoined them.  Danny handed back the watering can, getting an amused look from Ares.  "He called instead of created."

"Fine.  I'll hand it back to Persephone."  He sent it back to her and dusted off his hands.  "Any questions right this moment?"

"Why don't you teach us to move ourselves so we can gather when we're free to work together?" Eric offered.

"Teleporting is an advanced lecture and you've got to have perfect control of yourself," Xander told him. "Otherwise you'll be regrowing organs that you sent out of your body and there's a slim chance they'll regenerate a body of their own.  I can bring you down on the weekends if you want.  Or up here if you want.  It'll be like a restful bit of downtime for me instead of hunting the vampires."

"Abby's going to be pissed," Tony joked.

Xander looked at him.  "It's either this or Miami's going to start having a lot of unexplainable bodies, Tony.  Which would you rather have?"  He shrugged and grinned.  "Besides, it's all I'm trained to do for the sperm donor.  Any other questions before I send you back to the hotel?"  No one said anything.  "Good.  Horatio, I'll be in Miami the day after you guys get back."  He clapped his hands and all but Tony disappeared.  "Can you handle him?"

"Yeah, he'll growl, glare, and get more surly.  I'm used to it by now."  He shrugged and sent himself back there, then down to his room before anyone could see him.

Xander looked at his father.  "Any specific orders other than getting Horatio and Speed talking?  'Dite called."

"No.  They already know how to use their weapons.  Any that are shaky, firm up that skill."  He faded out and Cupid winked before disappearing.

Xander sighed and went back to sitting on his throne.  It was going to be a long few weeks.


Xander appeared in Horatio's living room, making him jump.  "Sorry.  I figured I'd start with you since you already had a small grasp of your powers and then let you help me with the others.  Did you want to delegate that?"

"No, I boss them around at work too," he admitted, moving closer.  "You're late."

"Aphrodite stopped me to tell me to give you a message and her perfume made me sick."  He shrugged.  "Sorry."

"What message?"

"Get off your ass, he's still mortal until you marry him by Olympian law, and then you can make him immortal to be with you.  Her version took longer and talked about looking into his eyes as he died and things."  He moved closer.  "Sometimes she gets these wild hairs up her thong, but she's usually pretty good with compatibility if you wanted to consider it.  Otherwise you'll have a pouting woman in all pink wearing a lot of perfume following you around whining."  He grinned.  "It took her nearly ten years to leave me alone and he was already dead by the end of year one."

"She thinks me and Speed...?"  Xander nodded, smirking at him.  "I don't think he'd like that.  He likes girls.  I like women too."

"Like I said, sometimes it's a wild hair up her thong but she's right pretty often.  So consider it at least unless you want a decade of pouting.  It seems to stretch into eternity.  Trust me on this."

"I'll consider it and warn him," he said, looking amused.  "I still like women."

"Many people do.  The family could care less as long as it's not rape or borderline rape.  Ares gets a bit pissed at that.  That's why we're hunting Autolycus, because he didn't get consent from his lovers."  He suddenly grinned.  "Thinking about the past exploits of certain family members, they haven't cared in a long time if it was even human. So it's all good to us as long as you're happy and you plan on never, in all eternity, getting a divorce."

"Marriage on Olympus is irreversible?"  Xander nodded.  "Why?"

"Hera's dead.  She's the only one who could do that and no Godlings have been born since she died.  It'd be roulette to see who got reborn: her, Zeus, or Strife."

"What was he like?"

"Dead long before I was even thought of.  I was a replacement for him in the House of War.  I was born to a mortal and awakened. From what I heard he's a great guy.  Very protective of the kids who're his main worshipers.  Cupid's son Bliss used to be one of his when he was younger.  Now he's a brooding and angsty teenage God of Joy. His father's worried about him."

"I guess they were close?"

"Probably.  Cupid and Strife worked well together and I'm sure Strife played with Bliss. I know that he feels his father doesn't understand him.  Ares thinks it's normal teenager stuff but I'm not so sure. Passion and Lust are different than Joy and Happiness.  Even his grandmother Aphrodite doesn't really understand what he's looking for.  For her, happiness is a new outfit or a pretty thing from her hubby.  For Bliss it's deeper. It comes with the powers."

"Will we be taking spots?"

"Probably not this century. If you ask, there's spots open.  No one's going to make you. Auto doesn't have one. There's a whole clique of them who don't have a real job.  They hate and sneer at me because I do.  I also have a life that gets in the way of my job as messenger."  He shrugged and grinned.  "Okay, enough chatter.  Let's get to work on the beginning creating lectures."

"I tried dinner," he offered, leading him back into the kitchen.  "It came out oddly."

"That's a matter of imagination and focus.  You have to basically be able to mentally taste what you're creating."  He looked at him. "Close your eyes and put your hands on the counter with space for a plate."  Horatio moved and did that.  "Now, concentrate on your *favorite* dish.  Imagine the texture and the taste as you eat it," he said more quietly, moving closer.  "Imagine it beautifully arranged for presentation in front of you.  Imagine how the flavors flow across your tongue as you nibble on it."  Horatio shivered and opened his eyes, seeing the dish in front of him.  Xander looked then grinned at him.  "Cool.  Now taste it, does it taste right?"

Horatio got a clean fork and tasted it then nodded.  "It does. It's like that for everything?"

"Yup.  The more detail you can provide the thinking the better it'll be.  So if you're making a weapon you've got to be real specific if you want it loaded, how many bullets it carries, that it has a firing pin. That it works."  That got a faint smile.  "It's all in the details.  Most godlings learn to meditate to learn how to focus their minds.  Some people naturally have good imaginations. The same as you can create pictures the same way."  He laid a hand on his lower back, stroking a bit.  "Think about your last crime scene.  Imagine it as a hologram in front of you, just big enough to pick out details, but a 3-D view. One you can walk around and point at areas."  Horatio concentrated and one came to life.  "A loft without pictures?"  He nodded.  "Good job.  I'm figuring this, emergency weapons, food, and eventually transportation will be the things you'll need most.  We'll work on furniture and clothes later.  Expansion spells come after teleportation as well."  Horatio nodded at that. "How are the others doing?"

"Eric's frustrated.  He's got a good imagination but it's not working well for him."

"I can start work on him tomorrow, unless you wanted to call everyone over and show off by making dinner."  He grinned at him. "Then you can make Eric make dessert or beer."

Horatio smiled and nodded.  "I can do that."  He went to call them over.  "Calleigh too?"

"If you want.  Tony's been working with her when he's got time.  It's the same lessons it's just that the powers come out differently."  He leaned against a wall, watching him move around his living room.  He looked around and waved a hand, dusting, straightening up, and sweeping the floors all in one.  Horatio looked at him and he smirked.  "With practice comes ease and not having to imagine so often unless it's something new. It's not like I have a housekeeper at the temple or in my apartment."

Horatio smiled and went back to calling everyone in.  They had agreed to tell their whole team in case something should happen accidentally.  Xander raised an eyebrow so he shrugged.  "It was necessary.  Eric sneezed and nearly turned the victim into a Furby."

Xander snickered. "Yeah, that could be bad to explain," he agreed dryly.  "I'll start teaching you how to undo things next.  Technically you can't undo anything major that another god does but you can undo some of it.  Like change a body back."  That got a smile and a nod.  "Good. Any word on the vampires?"

"I have no idea where to look," he admitted.

"Any drained bodies?"

"Two washed up.  We put it down as they bled out in the water."

"Good.  Excellent cover."  He went to look out at the water.  He cast his mind over the city, searching for other sparks of divinity and the wrongness that was vampires.  He looked at Horatio.  "You have relatives?"

"A nephew with my brother's wife and a niece out of wedlock.  They need trained?"

"They need watched," Xander told him.  "Trained comes with adulthood in the ones born mortal."  Horatio nodded, going to fuss a few things back into the way he liked them. "Sorry, I worked with a librarian who was helping a slayer.  I learned the Library of Congress system."

"That's fine.  I don't mind."  Someone knocked so he went to open it, smiling at Eric.  "You made good time."

"Speed ordered me to break the traffic laws."  He walked over to Xander, staring at him, arms crossed over his chest. "Why can't I make chocolate?"

"It's how you're creating it," Xander told him, pulling him closer to hold him.  "Hold out a hand," he said quietly in his ear.  Eric swallowed and held out a hand.  "Now close your eyes and imagine the feel of the chocolate as you let it melt in your mouth.  The flavors.  The texture.  The silk of it across your tongue," he whispered.  Eric shivered and looked at his hand, then nibbled on the candy bar.  Xander grinned and made one for him so he could compare.  "Well?"

"Nearly the same.  It's not the same flavor."

"That's more a practice and eating more to make sure it tastes the same.  Technically it's probably how it tastes to *you* instead of the normal chocolate.  Remember, this is mimicking your memories of it."  Eric nodded and settled down to eat both of them.

"What do you do when you get people who don't react the same way to that method?" Horatio asked, staring at him.

Xander smiled.  "Anyone affiliated with the House of War would react the same way.  The other main houses have their own trainers.  Which is why Tony's training Calleigh.  She's of his house and family.  She'll respond to their methods since she's one of them.  Everything is about the primal powers associated with the house. The House of War channels the darker feelings and instincts.  It's what gives people an outlet for the violence, the hate, the fear, the pain, the horrors of life that can make people lose themselves.  We channel that so that others don't have to be overloaded by it.  It's what makes Ares such a scary guy most of the time," he admitted, grinning again.

"But the underlying power of the house is aggression, stubbornness, protection, and sex.  You'll all react mostly the same way to those stimuli.  'Dite's family lines all are the sort to go 'oooh, what a pretty bunny, let's go screw'.  We in the House of War are more like 'it's been one hell of a day, I need relief and to be grounded, let's go have nasty, dirty sex' with some gentler moments now and then since technically Aphrodite and the House of Love are under our house as well."  Eric looked confused.  "Think about how many battles and wars have been fought over love, lovers, and lust, Eric.  They're part of us. The same as we're part of them. Not all of us give into the more dark images, but plenty of us like bondage games.  It seems to be a family trait now and then."  Eric blushed at that and Horatio turned away to hide his.  "Sorry, being blunt again. I'm kinda like that."

Eric coughed and looked at him.  "Is Speed one of us?  He's always had the desire to solve crimes and protect, but also to prove himself."

Xander shook his head.  "Not really.  His family used to serve a War God.  They were blessed and chosen of their chosen Gods.  If one of you decides to have him for a lifemate, then you can easily make him your high priest as well."

"Do we have to?" Eric asked.  "I don't think I'm ready to rule over others."

"You won't even be offered the choice until you're at least a hundred, kid.  Don't worry about it.  Ares kinda named me when he saved my ass after that joust.  Unless you're destined to be a messenger, you're not given that choice until you're a hundred."

"What does a messenger do?" Horatio asked.

"Like the Heralds of old, I announce things, I gather people that the house needs to talk to.  I undertake missions for the house sometimes to bring information to someone covertly.  This century I've spent training godlings since I've got a good grasp of it.  I've spent the last five years fighting vampires as well.  The current slayer needed a lot of help.  She wasn't prepared or able to handle some things so I stepped in.  Messengers are stronger godlings.  Technically I'm counted as a minor God and I was upon being awakened.  The same as Tony was.  You guys are like kids learning how to be Gods.  I'm basically the butler for the House of War and sometimes the House of Love."  He grinned at Horatio.  "As he found out."

"Yes, I did, and I still think she's wrong."  He went to answer the door, letting the others in.  "For those who don't know, that is Xander," he announced.  "Our trainer."

"And the menace remover so you don't get any more drained bodies," he offered with a grin. "Hi."  He smiled at Calleigh.  "How are you lessons going?"

"Peachy.  Gibbs is still growling at me."  She grinned back.  "He's such a grump!"

"I know, and I'm still not allowed anywhere near him since I helped take down a covert project of theirs last year," Xander said happily. "It got me out of whispering in his ear about how to use his powers."  She giggled at that and Eric moaned, shaking his head.  "He's got someone who can do that for him," he shared with a smile.  "Tony knows how."   He looked at the two people he didn't know.  "You are?"

"Alexx," she said, shaking his hand.  "The ME and mother to this group of nuts."

Xander smiled.  "They could probably use it.  Things are going to get odd for a few weeks until they've got control."  He looked at Eric.  "I'll teach you how to undo things too."

"Please.  I don't want to explain another Furby to anyone."

Xander giggled and looked at Alex.  "At least it's never going to be boring ever again."

"No, it won't," she agreed, leading him over to the other guy.  "This is Ryan.  He joined us when Speed died."  She looked at him.  "How did he come back?"

"Ares.  Horatio needed serious proof."  He shrugged.  "He wanted him as proof.  Which got the Goddess of Love on his case."  He shook Ryan's hand with a grin.  "Hi.  How are you?"

"I'm okay.  How long do the lessons take?"

"The beginning ones?  A few weeks.  The refining and getting into stuff you've never done before?  About a century."

"Oh.  So this isn't a short-term project?"  Xander shook his head.  "Wow.  Are they immortal?"

"Ageless actually.  They can be killed but it's *really* hard."

"That's good.  Can you do that to Speed?  Someone tried to shoot him earlier."

"Wolfe," Speed warned.

Xander looked at him.  "I can give you a protection amulet but I've never tested them against real gunfire.  I know it'll keep out a sniper shot, but too close or too many might make it fail."

"What happens if he marries one of them, like Calleigh?" Alexx asked.

"Then he'll be granted agelessness as a boon upon their wedding.  They've got to be careful though," he offered, smirking at her.  "There's no such thing as an Olympian divorce any longer."

"Ooh."  She hissed.  "That could be tricky.  Eternity with the same person?"  He nodded.  "Are you married?"

"I don't like people," he told her, then he grinned.  "No one could stand my life for very long.  I've stuck to dating and had some horrible disasters thanks to Aphrodite being mad at me.  I didn't jump on the one she wanted so I got pouted at for a decade.  He died before the end of the first year, but she kept pouting at me.  Since then my dating life is best described as 'horror story on crack'."  He grinned at everyone.  "Okay, everyone sit.  We'll start with the basics again tonight.  Thinking up food for dinner.  Horatio?"  He nodded and concentrated, creating a huge pizza that took up most of the coffeetable, and didn't have anything underneath it.  "Good job!  All you forgot was the cardboard."  He clapped him on the back.  "Eric?  Do the beers."  He closed his eyes and scrunched up his face, then smiled as a keg appeared.  "Good!  Now taste them, both of you."  They tasted their own creations, concentrating to fix it a little bit.  "Good!"  He clapped and smiled at Calleigh. "You wanna do paper plates?"  She shook her head.  "Why not?"

"I suck at it."

He laughed and pulled her closer.  "All right.  Close your eyes, concentrate on Alex's hands having paper plates," he ordered, still grinning.  "You want at least two for each person, no matter how thick they are.  You want them to be normal size, with the fluted edges since they're cuter."  She moaned.  He turned her and rested his forehead against hers, showing her the mental image.  She opened her eyes and smiled, looking at Alex, who had to grab the plates.  Then she clapped and beamed. "Good job," he praised, kissing her on the forehead.  "You need to work on your mental imaging."  He heard his name yelled.  "Be right back.  Sit and eat for now."  He disappeared heading to New York.  He landed in a subway, looking at Danny, who was panting and holding onto his side. "Fuck."  He healed it before anyone could get down there. "What happened?"

"I hesitated."

"It happens, Danny.  Each of us do that."  He looked over as Mac showed up with the detective right behind him.  "He's fine.  I fixed his side," he said quietly. "Calm down, Danny," Xander ordered, making him look at him.  "I mean it, calm down. You're broadcasting and sending others into a panic."  Danny nodded and forced himself to calm down.  He pulled him back up, handing him over.  "You need to debrief him, Mac.  I can help with whatever."

Don Flack looked at him. "What happened?"

"There was shootin' and stuff.  I had to pull and it turned out to be a cop," he said miserably.  Xander gave him a short hug then a pat on the back.

"Fine.  We'll handle it.  Let's get you back to the office."

"That'll make him look guilty," Mac noted.  "Danny, go find a bench and sit down with Xander."  Xander led him off, so he looked at the detective.  "I don't know what to do here."

"The same as usual. You said this changes nothing," he reminded him.  "You work the scene and I take his statement while Xander keeps him calm and in control."  He went to do that, licking his lips a few times to make sure he wasn't going to say the wrong thing.  He didn't like to talk to cops after a shooting.  It made him feel slimy, like he was turning on his fellow officers.  "Danny," he said, squatting in front of him.  "I need you to walk me through the scene while it's still fresh in your head."  Danny looked at him.  "I mean it, Danny.  It's got to be done."  Danny nodded, swallowing.  "You gonna be sick?"  He nodded and got up to do that.  He followed, waiting until he was done, then lead him back to walk him through what happened from just far enough away that he didn't have to look at the body.  He saw the Internal Affairs guy come trotting down the stairs, already scowling.  "Crap.  Already?" he muttered.  Danny looked and groaned.  "It'll be okay.  It sounds justified."  He looked at him.  "I'm doing the walk-through with him now.  You wanna take notes?"

"Yes, I do."  He looked at the body, then back at Danny.  "We should move closer."

"That'll contaminate the crime scene," he defended.  "We can't do that.  It's not good procedure and Mac has to finish it first.  Besides, I can't look at it any more."  He looked around the room, spotting Xander, who nodded.  He looked at the cop again, who was looking in that direction.  "I can do it from here.  It's close enough for most things without tampering with the evidence."

"Fine.  We'll do one at the scene once it's cleared.  At least you're sticking up for your profession."

"What's that supposed to mean!" he demanded.

"Danny, calm down," Mac called.  "He's doing it on purpose."  He looked at him.  "Just stay calm and tell him what happened. He can compare it to the evidence later tonight when we've processed it."  He looked at the Internal Affairs guy.  "Stay over there."

"Are you covering?"

"You know me better than that," Mac said coldly, moving closer.  "Just do your damn job."  He got back to work, letting the other techs in to help him.  "Danny, do the walk through now."

Don took Danny's weapon without a fight, handing it over properly to be bagged and noted.  "Danny, any backups?"

"No."  He shook his head.  "You can frisk me if you want.  I only carry the one."  He looked at the body and turned away, forcing himself to stay calm.

"Puke on the tracks, kid," the Internal Affairs cop said gruffly.

"He's already used a can," Don assured him.  "First thing.  We had a civilian who came to make sure he was all right once the bullets stopped flying. Did you want me to find him too?"  The other cop shook his head, making note of that.  He patted Danny on the back, getting his attention again.  "From the top, Danny."  Danny nodded and moved closer so he could start over.

Xander came down the stairs visibly and sat on the bottom few, looking at them. The other cop looked at him.  "I was helping him calm down."

"We don't need you, sir."

"I'm still staying.  Danny's a buddy."  Danny nodded, giving him a look.  "I'll take him home."  Don nodded at that.

"Why were you here?" the internal affair's officer asked.

"Going home.  Like thousands of others I was going to enjoy myself tonight."

"Your address?"  Xander presented him with a totally fake New York state ID card.  The address was an empty warehouse in the art district.  Mac looked at him so he sent a wave of calm feelings toward him, looking at Danny again.  "You wanna sit, Danny?" he asked quietly.  He shook his head and started to pace instead.  Xander damped down his powers, just in case he exploded with them at the wrong time.  Don gave him a grateful look and got back to work taking a detailed statement.


Horatio looked up as Xander reappeared.  "What happened?"

"Danny had to shoot a dirty cop," he said quietly.  "He's ripped to shreds emotionally.  You might have Speed talk to him about his distaste for guns. They share it."   Horatio nodded going to call him to tell him to call his friend.  Xander sat down and looked at him. "How did it go?  I felt Tony join you with Gibbs."

"It went all right.  His voice is more purr than growl like yours when he's whispering in your ear," he offered, coming over to sit next to him.  "That's all there is to it?"

"Power, imagination, focus, then making the power go to your will."  He grinned slightly at him. "That's all there is to it but you're still taking baby steps.  You're not storing power yet and it'll hamper the bigger things until your body adjusts."

"That's fine.  I can understand that.  I had a question.  If Ryan or Speed were in trouble, could I move them?"

"No.  Even senior gods have problems with that.  Sometimes they can if they're in the bloodlines but most of the time not.  You and I can't at all.  I can do the switch to move people to my temple but that's it."  Horatio nodded. "I will be teaching all of you how to toss up a shield in front of the mortals around you.  That'll be more handy and by the time I'm done drilling you it'll be instinctive in any situation.  Then we'll have to teach them how to fire around them."  That got another half-grin.  "How are you doing with all this?"

"It's overwhelming. It's changed everything I thought I knew about the world.  I'm having a crisis of faith really."

Xander patted him on the hand.  "Even Ares calls on a higher power.  It's usually Gaia and it's to stop the others from giving him headaches, but there's almost always someone more powerful.  If your faith is where you believe in the Christian God, then who's to say he isn't there?"

"Is he?"

Xander shrugged. "I don't know.  Ares doesn't know.  He claims he met Michael a few times.  He fought with him a lot too.  But really, how many people with faith expect their God to be flesh and blood?  Most people think of them as this ever-changing energy being who can look like anyone they want to.  Who's to say that the devout with faith haven't powered Him until He exists?"

"I hadn't thought about it that way."

"A lot of us have that problem.  I know Tony did as well.  Especially since his powers awakened thanks to a team member dying next to him.  He had a bad case of 'why not me, God' there for the longest time until he went to talk to her and she about kicked his ass. Kate was one scary damn woman."

"Was she one of us?"

"One of you actually," he offered with a smile.  "A distant cousin somehow.  Ares was livid and that assassin who killed her had the worst run of luck and came up with the idea to face Gibbs down in his own house.  Needless to say he's dead."

Horatio smiled at that, nodding a bit.  He understood that urge.  "You terrified Speed earlier."

"Aphrodite can do that to the strongest man.  Usually by making him a drooling, babbling teenager again."  That got a light laugh.  "Any other doubts or questions tonight before I go hunting?"

"How do you hunt vampires?"

"Stakes, crossbows, and a short sword this week."  He stood up and smiled at him.  "That's an advanced lesson, once you decide if you want to learn sword work or not."  He winked and disappeared, heading to take down the majority of the vampire army tonight.  Then he'd have the time to mop up the remainder over the next few weeks. He said a silent prayer of 'sorry' to Bacchus.  Then he got to work.


Don Flack picked up his desk phone.  "Flack."

Xander's voice came out the other side.  "Gather somewhere together tonight to start the training stuff.  Call for me when you're all together."

"Anywhere in particular?"

"Somewhere not in public.  I can't imagine a bartender's expression if a pizza and beers suddenly appeared on the table between you guys," he said dryly. "Whenever you're ready, even if you're tired.  And tell Taylor he's going to freak when I start working with him, it is the only and best method, and he'll have to get used to having someone whisper in his ear.  Got it?"

"Fine. Later."  He hung up and finished what he was doing then went to find the other two godlings.  He found Danny in the lab looking dejected so he walked in and closed the door.  "Hey."  Danny looked at him.  "Xander said we're to gather somewhere tonight and work on stuff.  He was talking about dinner."

"What's he gonna do if I get fired?"

"Why would you?"

"Mac's pissed at me again."

"Mac's got a stick up his ass.  You did what you had ta do."

"I talked to IA without him."

"Ah.  Well, that's just dumb."  He scowled then shook his head.  "You know they like to trap ya in stuff.  So just calm down and I'll go talk ta Mac for ya."

"Thanks, Don.  Which place you wanna meet?"

"Mine's farther out but it's bigger and I doubt we'll be at Mac's.  Then again, if he's having an obsessive moment we might."  He shrugged.  "Yours is smaller.  But hey, I hear we can expand it some day soon."

"Good."  He gave him a weak grin.  "Go away so I can work."

"Sure."  He headed out, going to find Mac, who was in his office staring out his window.  He walked in and closed the door.  "You tryin' ta make him quit?" he asked quietly.  Mac frowned at him.  "He's thinking about it.  Yeah, it was stupid, but it also showed he didn't have anything to hide from them either.  It looked more honest."

"It may have, but it was still dumb."

"Yeah, well, this is Danny.  He jumps without thinking sometimes."  He shrugged.  "Xander's called us together tonight for training.  Yours or my place since his is tiny?"

"Yours. I'll probably want the drive afterward."  He looked at him.  "Should I bring anything?"

"I can get him to teach us how to make dinner.  You okay?"

"Just tired."

"Yeah, well, he told me to tell you that you're not gonna like how he's training us but it's the best and only way most of the time.  So get over it already."  Mac smirked a bit at that.  "Maybe you should call Caine, see how theirs went since he's working on them first."

"Maybe.  Where's Danny?"

"Working in that same lab.  He said to call whenever we're all there."

"That's fine.  I'll make it an early night if possible."  Don nodded and left him alone to think about Danny leaving him.  Because he knew if Danny had mentioned it to Don, he would.


Mac walked in last.  "Sorry, wreck on the bridge," he complained.

"It's not too late," Danny said dryly.  "Xander?"  He appeared and Danny got hugged.  "What's that for?"  He pinched him.  "Get off."

"You had a bad day and Cupid always gives me one of those whenever I have one."  He shrugged.  "Okay, I'm figuring we're going to be doing the standard and easier requests first.  Food.  Shields around the normals.  Weapons, clothes, and then transportation and how to fix apartments.  Am I going to have any protest?"  No one said anything.  "Good. Then let's start with the easiest stuff.  Dinner."

"Why are you naked?" Mac asked finally.

Xander looked down, then shrugged and made clothes appear. "I was taking a nap before going hunting tonight."  He looked at Don.  "You couldn't say anything?"

"I figured some of you were just like that.  All the paintings in the museums have naked Gods."  He shrugged and grinned. "Pizza? Beer?"

"If that's what you want to start with."  He sat next to him.  "Okay, let's sit up," he said, pulling him upright.  "The easiest way to train anyone in the house of war is directly in their ear.  You're allowed to like it, we don't care what you like as long as it's consensual, and hey, Zeus used to like animals."  He shrugged and whispered in Don's ear, making him shiver a bit before nodding and concentrating, getting a slice of pizza in his hand.  "Good.  Taste it, is it normal?"

Don tasted, then grinned.  "It is.  I did good.  What's the hardest food?"

"The more complex the harder is it.  I have a real problem with blended flavor chocolates. 'Dite has a problem with pastries.  We go to the ones who do it better if we've got a real craving," he offered.  "Olympus is one big favor game."  He patted him on the head.  "Plates would probably be helpful."  Don squinted and a plate appeared with three more slices.  "Good job.  Do the same for something to drink."  He motioned Danny closer, getting a grin and him coming over.  Xander pulled him down to whisper in his ear, getting a nod and the guy beamed and created his own dinner.

"If you eat those eclairs all at once, I'm going to have to beat you," Don complained.  "You'll bounce and destroy stuff."

"No that's me," Xander assured him, climbing over him to get to Mac, who looked a bit worried.  "Oh, quit.  We all react the same way, kinda."  He pulled his head down and started to whisper in his ear, making Mac tense.  He pinched him.  "This isn't turning me on, Taylor, just do it."  He nodded and concentrated, creating a casserole he hadn't had in a while.  "Now, taste it."  He did, grimacing.  "A bit too much pepper probably.  Concentrate on changing the flavors in what you already have, concentrating on the pepper flakes to remove half of them."  He did that and tasted it again, nodding. "Good job.  I usually have milk with that."  He created a glass of milk with a grin.  "With work and practice, it gets that easy. You can think 'milk' and it appears because your mind already worked out what 'milk' means and what powers, flavors, and essence it has to pull up.  So the wider your diets, the easier it is all around.  Go out and try new foods and then work on recreating it later that night as a midnight snack."

"I'm going to be so fat," Don complained, eating another bite of pizza.

"Only if you eat that much," Xander said with a smirk. "It's just as easy to make a forkful as it is a plateful."  That got a smirk.  "Of course, ice cream is something that's usually only created in tubs because Aphrodite will track down ice cream and offer you fashion and love tips for giving her at least half."

"Is she as naked as she is in those pictures?" Danny asked, trading one of his eclairs for one of Don's slices of pizza.

"Sometimes," he agreed.  He looked at a spot on the floor and a tub of ice cream appeared.  "Look it's pistachio chocolate chip," he called.  Then he turned away at the bright flash incoming.  "Hi, 'Dite.  These are three of my students.  Mac's the uptight, staring one beside me and Danny and Don are the ones on the couch."

She grinned and waved.  "Hi, guys.  Getting your first lessons?"  They all nodded.  "Good job.  I couldn't even eat my first cooking lesson but then again I'm not over eating food."  She beamed and hugged Xander, jiggling a bit in the right spots.  "You need a new pookie, Xanny.  Can't I find you one?"

"You can try but if you set me up with someone like Anya again I'm going to put itching powder in all your thongs and make it everlasting.  I'm sure your husband wouldn't care if you walked around without one on."

She giggled and kissed him on the cheek.  "I'll try to find you an energy bunny like her but without the demonic this time."  She smiled at Mac.  "What did you expect a love goddess to wear, sweetie?  A full length gown with a high neck and sleeves?"  She waved at her gauze overdress over her very skimpy bikini.  "I can inspire lust and love in this so much better."  She pinched him on the cheek.  "You have another one," she said quietly, staring into his eyes.   "It's time to heal, not dwell, or you'll miss it."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "Now, be a good boy and share the food around. That way you get practice."  She pinched that same cheek and walked over to look at the other two boys.  "You two are so cute!" she squealed, hugging them to her chest.  She swatted Don for the thoughts on his mind.  "I'll tell my husband you think I'm pretty.  It'll make him happy and pounce me more," she said with a wink.

"Hephie baiting is a fun game," Xander agreed.  "He gets so jealous sometimes."  She beamed and nodded, patting Danny on the head.  "Anything going on that I need to hear up there?"

"No, but Tony's sighing heavily over his boss," she said, giving him a look.  "Why aren't you training him?"

"The warrants after we took down the Initiative," he said honestly.  "They're still pissed at me for breaking up their sick, torturing fun."

"Ah.  Well, it was grody," she agreed, then smirked at him. "I think you did very well and you looked even better than Ares in those leathers of yours."  She winked and changed his clothes for him.  Then she took all the ice cream and left.

Xander looked down at himself, then up.  "You made them tighter?  I didn't think that was possible after the last time," he complained.  Then he shook his head and sat down.  "Aphrodite."

Danny shook his head quickly.  "I've heard of tits that could bewitch, but I never saw anything that strong before."

"Yeah, me either, but they were nice," Don agreed, eating another bite as Xander giggled.  "She always dress like that?"

"Not always quite that skimpy.  She either heard me or she was out surfing again."  He looked at Mac.  Then he grinned.  "I've seen her with her hair down like that," he noted, seeing the image in his mind.  "She did it at a party to make her boy Hephie jealous enough to pounce her in public.  She will kiss others to get pounced, fair warning."  He looked at Don again.  "Come sit, Mac, eat like a normal person."

"I think I'm going to call it a night."

Xander looked back at him again.  "You might wanna cab if you're that out of it.  By the way, that's her area, so whatever she told you, she'd know.  Listen to the wench.  The only thing that she occasionally does is try to make some straight guys gay because they're cute together.  She's trying that with Horatio and Speed."  Mac blushed and walked out, heading down to is car to head home.

"That'd be a cute couple," Danny said.

Don gave him a shove on the head.  "I don't need that mental image."

"Again, as long as it's consensual, we in the family don't care.  Ares has debauched many a teenage male wanting his favor and many a maiden wanting to have a special first time.  He's had older women and men.  Zeus used to have a thing about being an animal and doing a few animals if they were his women turned. I think he even had a tree once. It's all good to us.  Get used to seeing it all.  Bliss looks a lot younger than he is and he gets more ass than anyone else, even his father and Apollo."  They both gaped and he nodded.  "Just let it go, dudes.  Remember, the external is only an illusion.  Inside we're all big balls of energy.  Find the set of balls that suits you best."  He grinned and faded out.  "Practice that and I'll be back in a few weeks.

Don wiped the sweat off the back of his neck, then made a beer, tasting it.  Then he made one for Danny.   "Here, you could use it too."

"Yeah, thanks.  The game on yet?"  Don turned on the tv and they settled in to make munchies and calm down after a long, odd day.


Xander appeared in Vegas next to Greg in the club, pulling him closer with a wink at the guy he was dancing with to take over for him.  Greg squeaked and looked back at him so he grinned.  "Practice time tonight or tomorrow," he told him, whispering it in his ear.  Of course, it cut through the music because he wanted it to.

"I'm the only one off," he complained, turning to dance with him.  "We're still working that out."  Xander nodded and moved with him, making him moan.  "My place?"

"Sure, Greggy."  He led him to a dark corner and took off with him, landing him in his living room.  "Here?"

"Here," he agreed, happier now.  "We're on the same team, we can't all get the same night off."

"That's fine, then I'll teach one of you and have them tutor the others and I'll pop around to check more often.  The advantage of having you guys as my students this time is that you have good imaginations and you see mental images pretty clearly."  He stroked his cheek.  "Do you want to be the tutor?"

"I think it should be Warrick.  He's pretty calm and good.  He can handle odd things if they happen and Brass listens to him.  He considers me a goofy kid most of the time."

"Okay.  Well, I'll talk to him in a few then.  For right now, how about I give you the first lesson and you handle it since you've about given yourself alcohol poisoning tonight?"  Greg grimaced and nodded. "Good.  Food."  Greg concentrated and a beer appeared in front of him, hovering.  "Very nice.  Now, food, not beer."  He took the beer and banished it, creating a plate of food.  "See, food.  Food soaks up alcohol."

"You ever have a really bad day?"

"Yeah, and usually my really bad days coincide with the world nearly ending."  Greg pouted and he gave him a hug.  "I know, Greg.  I saw."  Greg nodded and cuddled into his arms, but did make himself some toast.  "Good idea.  Now try pretzels.  They'll work just as well and the salt might help."  Greg grinned and made himself some pretzels to soak up the alcohol.  Xander created a link on the tv to any game Greg would want to see tonight, making him one happy, depressed CSI trainee.  "There, you rest."  He got a nod and Greg scooted down to watch tv while he went to find the others.  He found them in a parking lot and walked toward the area, finding the scene tape.  Yup, he had bad timing.  He grinned at the officer at the tape, then at Jim Brass.  "Uncle Jim?" he whined.  "Can I bug you for five minutes?  Please?  I'll be a bit patient."  Nick gave him an odd look so he beamed at him. "Hi."

"Sure, kid, just give me a few more," he agreed, going back to work.  When he was done he walked over and walked Xander away from the scene.  "You have bad timing."

"And you four have to have the night off together," he said dryly.  Jim winced.  "Yeah, that training stuff.  I can appoint a tutor and make them responsible to make sure you're getting it, but that's going to be putting pressure on you guys and since I found Greg drunk enough to be about at the death level of BAC, it's probably not a good idea to make it him.  By the way, we don't die of alcohol poisoning, you can reassure him of that tomorrow."

"Thanks."  He looked at him.  "So it's me or Warrick?"

"Quite possibly.  Greg suggested Warrick.  That still means you guys spending a lot of free time together and if you're free when I'm doing the other lessons, as long as you're at that spot, I can come get you guys.  As of right now, we're working on the basics.  It'll be at least a few hours."

"We all work nights so a daytime one could work since you're usually not doing as much then," he offered.  "I don't usually hang out that much with the team."

"Okay, and I get that, but we're still going to have to arrange stuff.  Mac doesn't really hang with Danny and Don and Horatio hangs with his team, but not totally because he's got responsibility syndrome."  Brass smirked a bit at that.  "He does and he's their tutor.  So we need the tutor picked and we need to get a start before you guys fall totally behind and I have to come force you guys off for a weekend of sickness to catch you up."

"That's actually a better idea," he admitted.  "We all have this weekend off.  Let me talk to the other guys.  Wait here."

"Sure."  He leaned against an SUV and grinned.  "Greg's passed out."

"Probably a good idea."  He went back to the scene to talk to Nick and Warrick, who were working it alone thankfully.  They nodded and he came back. "They said Saturday's the better idea since none of us are on call and we can all get together then.  My place is pretty decent and I don't have the neighbors some others do so we can meet there?  Call you when we're up?"

"That's fine with me," Xander agreed.  "Night or day, either's good.  Just yell my name if and when you need me.  Because accidents do happen, even among the overly controlled. Eric changed a body into a furby," he said dryly.  "Aphrodite scared Taylor and he just had to banish a car out of his way instinctively to avoid the wreck.  Thankfully he didn't hurt the other car, they're just driving above the pavement at the moment."  He concentrated and fixed that, making them feel like they had hit a pothole.  He sighed and looked at him again.  "So, we'll be good on Saturday?  All four of you?"

"  Yeah, Sanders."  Xander nodded.  "He can have a sick day if he's got to go in.  I know he's on call that night."

"Sure.  You know, Horatio told his full crew."

"I have no idea how we'd tell Grissom," he admitted.

"Proof, just like we did with you guys," Xander said dryly.  "No one can refute proof if it's done to them."

"So turn him into a giant bug since he likes them?"

"Could work," Xander agreed.  "Just remember, whatever you do, you have to undo," he said with a smirk.  "So be very careful about that."

"Oh, I will.  Anything else we should know?"

"It's all about the imagination and focus."  He faded out, heading back to finish his nap from earlier.  He had time before he was going to hunt vampires in Miami.


Xander landed in Ares' throne room three days later, looking at him, giving him the most hopeless look, which made him sit up straight for the first time in centuries.  "I can't," he said quietly.  "I just can't.  Not this time."

"Are you refusing an assignment?"

Xander stood up, looking into the dark eyes.  "Horatio called. A preschool was kidnaped."  Ares flinched at that.  "I've found them.  They were turned.  There's parents waiting, Ares, and I can't kill them anyway.  Send Bacchus."

"Take him there," he ordered.  "I'll release his shade."

Xander nodded, bowing and heading to Hades' realm then taking the shade to the spot.  He saw one of his students and one of the associated detectives, giving them a long stare.  "Tracked me?"

"Tracked them," the detective said, rubbing his bald head.  "What's going on?"  Xander nudged one of the kids, who vamped up and tried to attack him.  "Holy Mother of God," he said, looking at him.  "What are they?"

"Now?  Vampires.  They were turned earlier and then taken from the school, hence the kidnaping."  He looked at the shade beside him. "I'm sorry, Bacchus, but I can't, not this time."

"The vampires who have done this have broken my laws.  Turning children is an abomination," he agreed quietly.

"We'll need to be able to tell the parents something or they'll never quit hunting," Eric reminded him calmly.

Bacchus looked at the children, then at him. "I can't turn them back to human.  Even were I still alive, I couldn't do it.  Ones who were blood-tainted but not those fully across.  I wish it were otherwise."

Xander swallowed. "Have some been dead short enough times to revive?" he asked quietly.  Bacchus looked at him.  "Say it was a gas attack."  He glared at Eric and knocked him out, then closed the portal that had been starting to form. "Sorry, he's trying to broadcast."  He looked at Bacchus.  "Can we?  At least then some have a chance."

"They will ever be tainted."

"Yeah, but they won't be dead," Detective Tripp noted.  "I can't go tell the parents that they're all dead."

"Sclep?" Xander called, using his most hurt voice.  The God of Healers appeared and gasped.  "Bacchus is going to remove the demons.  Can you help us?"  He nodded, moving closer.

"I'll need more than you to power this maneuver," Bacchus told Xander.

Xander thought at Tony, getting him to send his father since he knew that Auto was in DC to watch his son.  Autolycus appeared, looking wary.  "I'm not going to arrest you but we need someone to power this.  They turned kids, Auto."  He nodded and moved forward, coming to help.  Since he didn't have a job, he was mainly a battery of power.  Once the demons were gone and 'Sclep had saved the ones he could, Xander went back to the station, pulling Horatio bluntly out of the room he had been standing in.  He looked at him.  "They were turned earlier," he said quietly, moving into his face. "They were kidnaped once they awoke."  Horatio's eyes closed and he nodded once.  "Some were saved.  It's the best I could do with Bacchus' and Asclepias' help.  I'm sorry."

"You did what you could.  The rest?"

"At peace.  Gathered already."  Horatio nodded. "I had to knock Eric out, he was trying to broadcast again.  I'm going to jump on his ass later about that. As far as I know, nine survived and we *think* a gas attacked happened.  That one detective was already there and he heard about the gas."  Horatio nodded and stepped back.  "I'm sorry, man."

"No, you did what you could."  He saw the pain in the brown eyes.  "It wasn't your fault."

"Apparently I missed a few too many the other night."  He walked off, heading for his home temple.  Auto was talking with his daughter down in her lab, but he was going to leave it there for now.  Asclepias could tell the others if they wanted to find him tonight.  Xander collapsed on his throne, head tipped back and his eyes closed.

"Hey," Ares said as he appeared.  "I need you to finish hunting tonight."

"Ares," he said darkly.  "If I do that, innocents could get hurt."

"You need to wear out that anger, Xander."

Xander looked at him, glaring at him.  "I'm mad at myself, father.  The others are already dead.  Bacchus took all the demons at the same time."  That got a nod.  "Leave me alone tonight. Please."  He closed his eyes.

"You need more furniture.  You can't nap on your throne."

"I have a bedroom."

"You could still use a sitting room to calm down in."

"Why? I'm never here these days.  You've got me training the kiddies and I'm never at home.  So I'm taking tonight off.  Get out of my temple," he ordered coldly.  He stared at his father.  "I don't need this tonight.  Go get touchy-feely with Cupid, okay?"  Ares backed off, heading back to his own temple.  Xander sealed his and settled in to try to block  his memories of the day.  It had been a crappy day.  He heard his name be called and sighed, getting up to head to Vegas.  He landed beside the building and walked in, smiling wanly at the receptionist.  "Warrick just called me?"

"I'll get him out here," she agreed happily.  Warrick came out a few minutes later. "Him, Warrick."

"Thanks."  He walked Xander back outside. "Are you okay? You look like hell."

"I feel like hell. It's already been a bad day.  What's going on?"

"Greg."  Xander nodded, making a 'go on' motion.  "He doesn't want his powers, he won't use 'em and now he's stuck in his house."

"Ah."  Xander pulled out his phone but he was going to be talking directly to Greg's ear. "Gregory," he said dryly.  "Concentrate really hard to make it disappear.  Yes, like that, Greg," he said, smiling when the voice came back.  "Then come here so I can talk with you."  He hung up once he felt the shield drop, looking at the CSI next to him.  "I'll help him. Pick a time tomorrow night to call me for some more training time.  Tonight's bad all the way around."

Warrick nodded.  "I understand those days.  Nick had a question."  Xander nodded.  "Why didn't his activate when he was buried alive?"

Xander nodded.  "Pretty standard question. To activate it by traumatic means, you've got to have the 'why me, God's going and also 'there's got to be something I can do'.  Occasionally the second will bring it out somewhat and cause a spark, which brings you to our attention.  If you've got the first but no hope, it won't be more than a prayer.  I'm not sure who it would've went to so no one heard it sooner and made you have a sudden idea to look into."  Warrick nodded.  "Hope springs eternal and is the fount of all things moving forward."

"I'll tell him that."  He looked over at Greg's car as he drove in.  "He's having issues."

"We've all got issues," Xander said tiredly. "Horatio's earlier was a group of kids that were taken during a school outing to the beach."  Greg walked over to them and he hauled him closer, looking into his eyes.  "I don't care if you don't want to, you're dangerous if you don't learn control," he growled.  "Do you understand why you will at least practice enough to gain control so you don't suffocate next time?"  Greg nodded quickly so he let him go.  "Good!  Once you've got control no one says you have to use it but you WILL have control before you give up.  Or else you get to be the personal student of my father.  Any other problems you're seeing?"

"You're mean today."

"I just had to deal with sixty kindergartens and first graders who'd been turned.  I'm a bit tired at the moment, Greg."  He moaned and Xander nodded.  "Welcome to the big leagues.  You're going to do what tonight?"

"Practice so I get control.  Not to make my life easier."

"Good. Who wanted you to use it to solve a case?"

"I got stuck and that idea hit me, and I...."  He slumped.  "It was tempting."

"Of course it was.  Those are usually the moments I bother Gaia and have her remind me why it's a bad idea since you have to have proof.  Nothing says you can't use it to find proof. You just have to have a reasonable conclusion sometimes during the worst things.  Like gas attacks."  Greg slumped and nodded.  "So, start thinking, Greg.  We're doing a training time tomorrow night sometime.  You guys can call whenever you've got a few free moments.  I'm headed home to have nightmares.  Anything else?"  Warrick shook his head.  "Then I'll see you guys tomorrow."  He patted Greg on the arm.  "This is a crisis of faith, Greg.  The same as Horatio had.  Call him."  He faded out, heading back to his bedroom.  He laid down and stared at the ceiling, almost afraid to go to sleep.  He knew the Gods had nightmares, he had plenty of them about his past.  By the time Olympus was nearly silent and he still wasn't able to sleep, he made a decision.  He didn't do it often but he needed to be held.  He headed for Ares' temple, finding him working, and disappeared before he was caught, landing in Cupid's bedroom.  Cupid woke up enough to glare at him so he crawled in and cuddled.

Cupid just sighed and held onto him. "You did what you had to do," he said quietly.  "Those things happen to the best of us, Xander."  He shook his head.  "No?"

"Vamps turned about sixty kids," he whispered.

Cupid moaned and pulled him closer. "I'll hold you."  Xander nodded, finally relaxing enough to drift off while Cupid sent a prayer toward Hades, telling him he was sorry to have that influx.  He wrapped his arms and wings around the godling, letting him get comfortable and feel safe.


Horatio looked up a few days later as Xander once again appeared in his apartment.  "Eric's still mad at you."

"Eric was creating a viewing portal back to the station.  I didn't think the parents needed to see that."  He shook his head.  "Good.  Then he'll get over it and I'm going to jump all over his ass tonight to make sure he locks that down.  Emotions are great, but even in your job you've got to calm them at times."  He sat down, looking at him.  "I can smell her perfume.  Nagging or pouting?"

"Pouting.  Speed jumped her about it though.  Why was his name on the scroll?"

"I'm not sure yet. I asked Ares and he just shrugged and got back to work.  So apparently this is one of those times I'm not meant to know either."  He yawned, looking him over.  "You haven't been sleeping either?"  Horatio shook his head. "Yeah, me either.  I can only make Cupid not sleep for so long before he gets cranky from my nightmares making me beat him while he cuddles."

"You crawled in with Cupid?"

"He gives a good cuddle.  I'd have went to Hestia but she'd make me cookies instead of cuddling.  Even I need held now and then."

"Everyone does.  Some would deny it but everyone does."  He gave him a weak smile.  "Are you doing okay?"  Xander shook his head.  "We've had another few deaths."

"I heard.  That's why I'm back here instead of beating Danny's ass into control again."

"Danny's having problems?"

"The same as Eric is.  Emotional control.  Don's having the same problem too.  I'm about to knock them both out.  Where is Eric?"

"Still in the labs.  Want me to summon him?"

"No.  Let's work on you for a bit and he can come over when he's done."  He leaned forward, taking his hand.  "Manifest a shield."  Horatio did it and he looked it over. "You're thinning it out still."  He froze the shield and showed the power, letting him see what he was. "See?"

"I do."  He looked it over.  "Is that because it's forms to bounce the power back?"  Xander nodded. "So I need to work on making it thicker in the center for bullets, right?"  Xander nodded again.  "Can I make it convex?"

"That'll mean the power rolls off to the side instead of bouncing back. You might end up putting out small fires all around you.  I have in the past."

"I can deal with that.  Who was the brunette woman who came to watch me today?"

"Athena, Zeus's favorite daughter.  She stuck up for Hera and Zeus about Justice and she still doesn't see why it's needed."  He shrugged.  "Athena's a mental person.  To her everything's a thought, an idea, a concept.  She thought the humans would eventually figure out what they were doing was bad and find justice without him being around.  She was wrong and she still doesn't see it because she's a Goddess, and therefore can't be wrong.  At least according to her.  I'm about to let her hunt the vampires since the slayer's her warrior.  I'm too damn tired to do it today."

"Sure," he agreed.  "Will she attack?"

"It's possible but you're the strongest of all of you.  Well, except maybe Gibbs.  He's got a good handle on his skills.  He's basically stubborning them into working for him."  That got another weak smile.  "She'll probably attack Eric or Danny or Greg.  They're the weakest.  Greg's having a crisis of faith, his faith being science and logic.  Did he call?  I suggested he should."

"He did and we talked.  We're arranging to have this weekend off.  Can we have your temple for practice?"

"Yeah, it'll mean I won't be wearing myself out running across the country. I'll even make sure the cellphones work up there so you're not out of touch."  That got another smile and a nod.  "Okay, disperse the shield and try it again."  Horatio tried, then frowned at it and tried again.  Xander chuckled.  "Hint, I have it frozen. How do you undo it?"

"From the base of the powers," he noted, doing it that way.  He rubbed his head.  "Does that get easier?"

"Undoing what another god has done?  Nope.  It's not supposed to be easy.  However it is necessary on occasion.  Like when someone panics and you've got damp their powers down and then undo whatever they just did.  I had a headache all day yesterday because Greg turned Grissom into a teddy bear."  That got a light chuckle.  "It's not really funny but yeah," he admitted with a weak grin.  "Don almost turned Mac into a tiger but he managed to shield himself first.  The three of them got really drunk that night and decided to work on the control stuff together.  At least you're in groups at the moment so I'm not running to ten different cities."

"I should call Speed."

"You probably should," he agreed.  "Get Eric here if he's done.  Then work on the shield.  By now you should be able to create a bubble of space around someone to either trap them or protect a group of people, and do it without suffocating them.  Unlike Greg's around his apartment."  Horatio smiled, reaching for the phone.  "How's Calleigh?"

"She's doing well enough. She got a bit frustrated the other day and a huge pile of hershey kisses appeared next to her."

"Ah.  Yeah, some of the other Goddesses have those moments.  Me too."

Horatio smiled, hitting the buttons for the lab.  "Eric? Can you and Speed come over?  No, Xander's here.  Thank you.  Whenever you're done, Eric."  He hung up and leaned back, getting comfortable.  He concentrated and a shield appeared around him.

"Airtight," Xander noted.

Horatio eased up on one of the edges, giving him air circulation.  "It does get easier with practice."

"It does.  Which is nice since I give you a lesson, you practice it while I hit New York and Vegas, then I come back and do the next one."  He got comfortable and created a mug of meade, drinking slowly.  Someone knocked on the door and he looked at Horatio, who banished the shield he had been practicing on before getting up to answer it.  He nodded at the person out there, letting in Yelina.  "Hey," Xander told her.  He took another drink and shifted so she could have some of the couch.

"What about my son?" she asked quietly.  Xander looked at her, staring her down.  "Does he need these lessons?"

"Unless their powers come out.  No.  When they're adults and can make that decision, since they're not forecast to do something important like this group was, then they'll be trained if they want the powers.  It may not be me at that time but if they agree when they're of age, then someone will be showing up to train them.  It depends on who's doing what."  He took another drink, smiling at her.  "He's how old?"


"The earliest he can be given that choice is sixteen.  Now, with that said, if his powers come out to save him, I need you to call Horatio immediately so he can slap power limiters on the kid until we can get down here to work with him.  That can and has happened in the past."  She nodded at that.  "The same as the other child of the line needs that sort of information."

"I've already told her that Ray had a genetic quirk and to watch out for it to happen.  I explained it as our grandmother swore she had the Sight."

"Which she could have. Unawakened Godlings are more prone to it."  He looked at Yelina again.  "We're keeping track of all the kids of the pantheon.  There's one guy whose job is just doing that and he's never bored.  Especially thanks to Auto."

"That show on tv,"she said.

Xander smirked.  "Brilliant PR on the part of Herc, who is a bastard most of the time," he admitted.  "He was all for Justice sleeping too until he realized what had happened.  Since then he's been trying to wake him up himself."  He finished off his meade and made the cup disappear.  "Sorry, needed some lube for dealing with Eric's temper."

"I understand.  I've seen a bit more of it recently myself," she admitted.

"Yeah, that's part frustration.  For some, control is very easy.  For some, it's like fighting a war against your body.  The calmer you are, the easier it is.  So the more emotional and the more stubborn you are, the harder it is."

"And Eric is nothing if not stubborn," Horatio agreed dryly.  Someone else knocked on the door so he opened it, finding Tony standing there with a letter.  "Official business?"

"Not for you," he said with a grin, but stared at Xander.  "Ares is pissed.  He sent me to find you."

"Well, gee, he told me to train these guys.  Which would he rather have me do, Tony?  Fight the vampire menace plaguing the city or teach the Godlings before we're all exposed and dead?"  Tony shivered.  "You can give him that verbatim too. Then give Athena a very pointed look and point out there's *two* slayers presently, to send the other one down."

"Sure," he agreed, backing off and disappearing.

Horatio heard Speed's bike so he left the door open, looking out at him.  "Where's Eric?"

"He had to change.  He got some powder on his shirt."  He parked and got off his bike, putting his helmet on his handlebars. Then he stared at his bike until a golden shield formed around it.  "Just in case.  Eric's still a bit frustrated."

"It happens."  He let him inside and closed the door but didn't lock it.

Xander pulled Speed closer and made him squat in front of him, touching foreheads with him.  He concentrated.  There was a spark, but not from this line.  He had been using some of the instinctive powers, like came out with emergencies but it wasn't fully activated yet.  He pulled back to look at him.  "No wonder."  He smirked.  "You're technically on the list so I'm not supposed to give you a choice.  But I will."

"I'd rather have them so I can protect myself and others.  Like Ryan."

"Sure."  He leaned forward, giving him the worst headache of his life.  Speed groaned and held his head.  "Welcome, Grandchild of Hades," he said quietly.  "The other line that Justice impacted the most."  Speed looked at him.  "Just relax for now, man.  It's going to hurt all day long."  Speed nodded and got up, going to find a spot to sit.  Xander looked up.  "You could've told me!" he yelled.  Someone knocked on the door.

"Come in!" Horatio called.

"Dumbass!  You don't do that with vampires in your city!  Do you want to be eaten!" Xander demanded.  He threw a stake at the vampire strolling in, turning it to dust.  "No car noise, Horatio.  Besides, he's still swearing at his shirt."  Horatio blushed at that.  "Be a bit more careful.  I'm not sure if you can be turned.  Bacchus had plenty of demis in his coven at one point in time and having you eat everyone you work with would get a bit upsetting for others."  He nodded at Yelina.  "Like her.  Okay?"

"I didn't even think about it."

"Yeah, lots of people do that with the delivery drivers too," he noted smugly.  "It's one job vampires love.  Even I've done that without thinking and I've known better for centuries."  Horatio nodded and got up to check outside.  "Eric just left the station."

"It'll take him about twenty if he doesn't speed or break traffic laws," Speed offered from his spot.  "Will drinking kill this headache?"

"No, it makes it hurt worse.  That's the powers flooding your brain."

"Wonderful.  The others didn't have this much."

"It's a different line."  He looked at him.  "Being the great-grandchild of Hades means that you get to see a lot more of the last moments."

"That's why you're so good at homicides," Yelina suggested.

Speed shrugged.  "Will it help on the job?"

"Up to you, man.  All up to you. You may be able to turn on a very specific gift that will tell you exactly how someone died and see their last few moments but I'm guessing that you're going to be about as headachy if you do," Xander offered.

"Wonderful.  I'll stick to the old fashioned means for now, thanks anyway."  He got up to find the pain killers and some water.  He came back when Eric slammed the front door, giving him a look.  "You know, it's probably that anger and stuff that's making this happen."

"It is," Xander agreed. "Emotional control is something that can make it easier to gain control over your powers."  He stared Eric down.  "Then the first frustration feeds on the anger at yourself for not being able to do things, and it keeps building," he said wisely.  "Remember, you're a Godling, not God.  Not even I can do everything, Eric, and I've been doing this a lot longer than you have.  We each have our areas that we excel in."  He pulled him closer and stood up, looking into his eyes.  "I think yours is a bit of self loathing.  Even if you were ready to try some healing skills, which you're not since you've got to have a lot more control than moving yourself takes, you're not a healer.  You don't have the training or the background to be able to do it.  Alexx, if she was one of us and had control, might be able to.  You're not a doctor. You can't heal, not yet anyway.  That's a specialist class that you take after graduation.  Which means you can move yourself, make your own house, and dress yourself with a thought.  Then you can ask the others to teach you some of their areas."  He stepped closer.  "That doesn't mean you can't ask one of the healing gods to look at whoever it is."

"My sister," he said quietly.

Xander nodded.  "Okay, I'll take the message myself later."

"How is she not one?" Yelina asked.

"I asked my mother, she said she found me," Eric told her.  "She basically adopted me without telling anyone official."  He looked at Xander again.  "Can they help?"  He got a shrug.  "You don't know?"

"I took the very basics of field healing.  I'm good enough to fix a minor broken bone, heal a small wound, and possibly save a life from a gunshot wound.  Anything else I call Asclepias.  Give me a minute.  Sit down and clear your mind."  He disappeared, landing not where he was going but in front of Ares.  "I'm on a message delivery, father.  You can wait five minutes."  He disappeared again, going to the Temple of Healing.  He nodded at the two gods, father and son, bent over a table.  "One of the Godling's mortal family is really sick.  He wanted to know if one of you would kindly look at her cancer to see if it could at least be alleviated somewhat."

"Does she have the gifts?" Apollo asked, standing up.

"No, he was found and taken in by his mortal mother. His sister's close enough to him that he wanted to heal her himself but he can't. It's upsetting him enough that he's losing control at work."

"I'll visit him tomorrow to talk about her case," Apollo admitted.  "How are they doing?"

"I've got one that doesn't want them.  One who's scared of his.  Eric's got emotional outbreaks.  The others are doing okay and I'm talking down those ones until they can focus, though I did threaten Greg so that he knew he had to learn enough to have control."

Apollo smirked.  "They never should have made you over training."

"Yeah, well, the dual job I'm doing right now is exhausting me."

"You could ask Morpheus for a quiet night," Asclepias offered gently.  "You need it, Xander."

"I need many things, that's just one of them," he noted dryly.  "Besides, I've used my quota of favors for the century."  He smiled.  "We're at Horatio's or he'll be at work tomorrow.  Call if you can't find him."  He smiled weakly and disappeared, heading back to Ares' since he was growling and it could be heard all over the Mount.   "What?" he demanded.  "You gave me two incompatible jobs, ten new students who aren't in the same city, and expect me to do more than Apollo does!  I'm not triplets, father!   Even you can only manage one place at a time.  I'm doing what I can when I can.  So get off my ass and send the other slayer if you want the vampires gone more quickly!"  He stared him down.  "Anything else?"

"I'd rather have the menace gone first," he snapped.

"Yeah, well, I'd love it like hell if I wasn't always traveling too.  We don't get what we want.  So suck it up."  He disappeared, looking totally calm by the time he got there.  "Eric, Apollo said he'd come see you about her case.  Expect the shiny blond guy in the next few days."

"Sure.  Thanks."  He smiled at him.  "Can I tell her?"  Xander shook his head.  "Why not?"

"Because it's like giving false hope.  He may not be able to fully cure it, Eric," Horatio told him.  "Even a small remission would be nice, but you can't give her the hope that it'll be fully healed."

"Even if he does, there's no guarantee it won't come back in a few years in a new location," Xander pointed out.  "Just like normal remission.  Celebrate when, not if, it happens."

Eric nodded.  "That makes sense but I need to give her some hope.  She's starting to lose it."

"Then tell her you've heard about a new study.  That you're checking to make sure he's not a quack selling poison and bean sprouts.  I've known others who would've gone to a witch doctor if they thought it would help.  She'll be able to take some hope from it and some comfort from it even if he can't help her case he's helping others."  Eric nodded at that.  "Now let's get back to work before you start to glow in front of the press or you end up turning yourself into something that we can't change you out of."  He looked at Speed.  "For right now, you work with him.  I want to see if you can teach since you can't do."

"I can so manifest," he complained.

"So?  Do it anyway," he said dryly, staring at him until he complied.  He looked at Horatio.  "Sometimes that is the proof that you've learned it."  He rolled his eyes.  "Okay, onto harder shields.  What did Ryan do anyway?"

"We just had a case against the Mala Noche," Horatio admitted.  "A reporter caught him saying they were cowards."

"Ah.  Brash stupidity.  It runs the world in some places," he quipped, making the others crack up.  "Since Yelina's here, we'll use her as your demonstration model and practice target."  He hauled her up and made her stand in front of him.  "Okay, just like yours around your chair a few minutes ago, make one in front of her."  Horatio concentrated, staring at her until one formed.

"How long before I can do that?" Speed asked.

"That depends on when you get past the point where you can manifest clothes, food, and weapons."  He looked at him. "By the way, you, Danny, and Greg are all getting advanced weapons practice this weekend whether or not you like it."  Horatio laughed and his shield fell.  "Yeah, I know, distractions bad, try it again," he ordered.


Xander looked up as everyone was finally up at his temple, smiling at Calleigh and Tony.  "You two helping?"

"I thought I'd work with her for a bit today," Tony admitted.

"Fine with me.  Hermes is off bothering the Asgardians trying to get laid again."  He shrugged.  "I don't know why he's got a thing for Valkyries but he does."  He looked at the others.  "Welcome back.  Kitchen is newly made and through the bedroom.  Bathrooms are the green doors covered in vines.  Yes, your cells work up here in case you get called in," he announced.  That got some smiles.  "Okay, Tony, has Gibbs gotten to the shielding?"  He nodded. "Good.  Danny, since you're one of the less structured in New York, have you?"  He nodded.  "Good, Flack?"  That got another nod.  "Excellent.  Greg?"  He groaned but nodded.  "Fully?  Able to warp it, move it, contain it and use it offensively?"  Nick nodded at that.  "Good. I know Miami's people can because I ran over them the other night.  So let's move onto the next topic.  Can everyone here manifest clothing?"  No one moved. He grinned.

"It comes in handy when you need to do the laundry or you're on an overnight job."  He stood up and came off his throne.  "It's about the same as food, but you have to imagine it a bit differently depending on you wearing it," he said, changing his own clothes, "or if you want to put it on."  He created a shirt to hold.  He looked at it, then snickered.  "I miss hearing about you too, Strife.  Give me a few and I'll come visit tomorrow morning," he said quietly, banishing the shirt back.  He looked at the amused looking faces.  "I've went down to talk to him a few times.  I figure he's got to be lonely.  Let's form pairs and work on that.  Then we'll work on dressing others."  That got a groan from Calleigh.  "What?"

"I can just see Tony dressing someone else."

"Hey, I only do it to Abby now and then," he complained.  "If Kate were still around and awakened, we'd be doing it back and forth whenever we had downtime."

"Which is something I don't want to see, DiNozzo," Gibbs noted dryly.  "Or think about."

"Fine, boss.  Come on, sweetie, let's hit the gardens."

"What gardens?" Xander snorted.  "You want gardens, go make some.  I only have grass."  He looked at them.  "Come on.  If we work *really* hard and we're all up to showing promise I'll start the lessons on moving yourselves."

"When are you tying us down to do the weapons lectures?" Greg asked.

"Tomorrow night. That way it's fresh in your head when you go home.  That way you can sit down and work on your guns."

"They don't take care of their guns?" Gibbs demanded.  "They're cops!"

"Mostly they're CSIs and we've got one scared of his, one who hates his, and one who loathes his. It's not unheard of.  These guys are cops to be scientists, not cops.  I'm not surprised at it."

"I, um, left mine at home," Speed noted.

"Me too," Greg admitted.

"That's okay, Ares has an armory," he said with a fond smirk.  "Most elemental dodge in the universes, guys.  Now, let's get back to work, huh?"  They all sighed and broke up with their friends, Speed taking Danny for now so they could talk.  Xander walked around, helping where it was needed and giving ideas when Horatio got stuck.  When they all had it, he changed all their clothes into Dru's long velvet and lace gowns and smirked.  "Now, change them back," he ordered.  That got a lot of glares so he just smirked.  "You look so pretty," he cooed.  "I'm going to take pictures in ten minutes if you're not back to regular clothes."  The clothes were all changed back within five minutes.  "Good job!  Now do it to each other and practice it."  Everyone glared at him again and he found himself in a Little Bo Peep costume.  "Cute, guys, really.  Ganging up was a good idea, but still futile because there's always the other way to change clothes."  He pulled off the top and changed the skirt back to jeans, then the top back into his normal t-shirt. But the shepherd's hook got put against the wall for later use.


Gibbs found Xander on their way out of Hades' realm the next morning, pulling him out of the stream of traffic.  "I've done some checking."

"I figured you had.  And?"  He leaned against the rough wall.  "Go for it, Gibbs."

"Xander Harris of Sunnydale, California. Twenty-one.  You took down a top-secret military project named the Initiative.  You're wanted for questioning about what happened.  You're not actually banned from federal property."

"I am because they'll try to arrest me," he noted calmly.

"You said you've been around for six hundred years.  That's a bit different."

"Yeah, I saw what was going to happen and I put myself in Sunnydale on Ares' orders.  I input false history and memories in everyone's mind and in the databases that needed it.  I moved there to help the slayer because Ares saw that it was going to end the world if something didn't happen to help her."

"Then you're still there?"

"No.  According to them I'm in Miami hunting at the moment.  That's where I told them I am.  Not that they listen," he offered dryly.  He shrugged.  "You do what you have to do, Gibbs, then you mourn later.  I don't particularly like fighting the vampires, but it's my current assignment other than teaching you guys.  At times, Ares has bitched, whined, and complained I was ignoring my hunting in favor of you guys' training."  He moved a bit closer.  "Besides, you do better with Tony training you because he gives you motivation to get control faster.  Me growling in your ear has less effect than him doing it," he offered.  "I'm still not coming anywhere near you.  If your bosses knew you knew me, you'd be brought in for questioning and possibly be made to disappear too.  They've done it to others.  Buffy's mother got given a sudden brain tumor somehow.  I would've sensed it before she passed out that day."  Gibbs nodded, relaxing at that.  "Therefore I'm protecting you and your people, plus helping Aphrodite's big plan to get another monogamous couple up here. When the time comes for you to retire and move on, then you'll be coming home for a few years and just living in your old house until you feel like dying.  Unless you die openly and others would wonder why you got brought back.  Then we'll work on making new lives, inputting memories and information, that stuff."

"You forgot a birth certificate."

"I didn't actually.  Sunnydale isn't hooked into the state and the vampires there burnt down the records office so it never got passed on.  Nice work though."  He grinned at him.  "How was Kate?"

"Good.  She still doesn't want to come back."

"Not even Hades can make a shade that doesn't want to leave go.  We could use Strife back too but it's not happening. Hell, I could use Joyce.  She at least had sense, compassion, and actually paid attention to me when I was hurt."

"You've been hurt?"  Xander nodded.  "How?"

"We can still be hurt and scar if not treated promptly.  My healing factor is pretty low.  There have been days I wondered if Ares made me the messenger so he could get rid of me during a battle."  He shrugged.  "Then I realized it's because I'm too stubborn to die."  He walked him off, taking him back to the temple. "Did you want to help with the weapons lectures?  I figure you had to teach some guys who were shy of their rifles."

"I have and I can if you need it."

"I might.  I know Mac tried the unique approach of yelling at Danny about it and it hasn't worked yet."  He walked past Tony and Calleigh, who were napping on a couch he had created.  "Breakfast," he yelled.  "Someone make food!"

"Already done," Horatio called back.

"Good.  We're on the ball today."  He walked through his messy bedroom and waved a hand to straighten it, then headed into the kitchen.  "Did someone remember coffee for the caffeine addicted, like Gibbs?"  The pot was pointed at.

"Thanks," Gibbs said as he walked that way. He looked at the food.  "French toast?"

"I only created the basics, I cooked it normally," Eric assured him.  His food skills weren't always the best.  "Xander, Apollo came."

"Good.  What did he say?"

"He could ease it and give her more time, but he couldn't totally cure it.  It had gone too far."

Xander nodded.  "I thought he might.  I'm sorry, Eric."  He gave him a shoulder squeeze.  "When she dies, remember we're all here for you.  Even me.  I've held many hands at funerals."  Eric nodded, letting himself be hugged.  "It'll be okay," he whispered. "You can go visit her whenever you want.  Hades still does the major intake for the Christian church."  Eric nodded.  "She'll be fine and happy.  Ask Gibbs about Kate's cabin."

"It's nice and peaceful," Gibbs agreed gently, for him.  "She said she doesn't worry about anything and she still hears it when we think about her.  Which is why she slugged Tony the first time she saw him after she died.  Something about leather and a riding crop."  Tony turned and walked the other way.  "Get in here!"

Tony came back.  "Sorry, boss.  Did she tell you that?"  He nodded. "I asked her not to."

"Yes, but now you can't blackmail her," he noted sarcastically.  "She told me to bop McGee too."  He looked at Horatio.  "Did you tell any of the rest of your team?"

"I told them all.  Just because we keep slipping up and doing things like turning bodies into Furbys."  Eric blushed at that.

"Which is the lesson for today until the gun safety lectures later," Xander said in a sing- song voice.

"Wonderful.  Just what I need," Speed complained.  "Can I go see my family?"

"Hades!" Xander called.  "Found one of your grandkids!"  The God of the Dead appeared, frowning already.  "He was on the list Ares gave me, even though he was dead.  I gave him the choice."  He pointed at Speed. "I believe you already met him once or twice?"

"I had."  He looked at him and nodded politely.  "Good morning."

"Morning.  I'm going to take this outside," he said after a moment's awkwardness.  He took his plate with him, along with his coffee.

"Is Hermes back from the blondes?" Xander asked Tony.  Who nodded and grinned.  "Good.  Then he can tell Ares.  'Cause I'm not going over there until tonight."  He got to work on his own breakfast, adding strawberries to his plate.  Everyone pouted so he looked at them.  "You should be able to do that by now, people."  They smiled and added their own touches to breakfast.  Eric stole one of his berries but he smiled for it. "You need to practice more."

"I'll make my dinner each day this week."

"Good."  He went back to eating.  It was going to be a long day.


It was only six days later when he got summoned to New York by a panicking Danny.  He popped in blatantly, figuring his cover was already blown.  He saw the liver on the ground and the man laying on the ground holding his side.  "Shit," he said, freezing the guy with the knife who looked really confused, and getting down to work on speeding the regrowth process.  "That's why you don't move yourself yet, Danny."

"It was necessary!"

"Which I understand, we'll work on that more later tonight, okay?"  He looked at the liver and set it on fire, just in case and so no one had to clean it up.  He stroked over the warm forehead.  "Give it a few more hours and you'll be fine," he soothed.  "It's got to regrow and I sped it up."

"This sucks."

"Yeah, it kinda does," Xander agreed.  "I left my balls one time when I was startled in the middle of sex.  Imagine that pain."  Danny let out a pained laugh.

"Danny!" Don Flack yelled, pushing his way through the people standing around.  "What happened?"

"He moved wrong and hurt himself."  He caught his eye and glanced at the pile of organ slush, then down at him.  "He should be fine with some rest.  It looks like a groin pull or something."  They got him standing.  "Got a couch?"

"No," Don said.

"Locker room have benches?"  That got a quick nod.  "Make him lay down for a bit, he'll be fine."

"Sure.  Thanks."  He walked Danny off.  "Someone arrest this guy!" he yelled.  "He tried to stab him!"

Xander unfroze him with a twitch of his finger when someone went for the guy and looked at Mac.  "Groin pull."  He got a raised eyebrow so he moved closer.  "He moved the wrong way, it strained his insides, something popped."  He glanced at the debris, then at him again.  That got a nod.  "I had Don take him to lay down on a bench in the locker room."

"Good idea.  Thank you."  He looked around.  "Why are we all standing here?" he demanded.

"Because Danny disappeared for a minute and then reappeared," a thirtyish woman with curly dark hair noted.  She glared at them.  "Then he appeared out of nowhere too.  The perp froze, stiffly, while he worked on Danny, and whatever was on the floor burst into flames.  What the hell is going on!" she shouted.

"Not here," Mac told her quietly.  "Go wait in my office and I'll explain everything."  She stomped that way.  "The rest of you clear out!"

Xander smirked.  "I'll go explain."  He headed that way, stalking her really.  He grinned at one guy.  "Danny's fine."

"I saw him.  He said it was a groin pull but the pain's in the wrong spot."

"We've all got connecting muscles.  Groin pulls can affect muscles into your chest.  Trust me, been there, done that."  He walked into the office and closed the door.  "Sit."  She crossed her arms and glared at him.  "I'm the Messenger for the House of War on Olympus, woman, I've seen scarier people. Sit!"  She sat down, blinking at him.  "What will it take to make you forget that?"

"I won't be.  Prove it."  He darkened the windows with some fog only they could see, everyone else would ignore the office for now, and moved closer, exposing his aura.  She gasped and backed away from him.  He muted it and looked at her.  "You're...  You're...."

"One of Danny's distant cousins, yeah.  I'm training him actually.  My name is Xander."

"Mac knows?"

"He had to tell someone who could cover for him if he did something out of the ordinary by accident or to save himself or others."

"That bullet that bounced away from me," she said, moving closer again.

"A simple shield.  The third or fourth lesson he learned."

She sat down, staring at him.  "Is he in...your house?"

"He's related to Justice actually.  Technically a member of the house so I'm working on his training."

"Who else knows?"

"You'd have to ask Mac that."

"Is he one?  Every now and then he glows too."

"You'd have to ask Mac that," he repeated, staring her down.

"Where do I know you from?"

"A few years back I took out something that was trying to eat the park."

"Oh.  Those things.  Okay.  Does he do that?"  Xander shook his head.  "Good!  That's good!"  She closed her eyes for a moment then looked at him again.  "You could make me forget."  It wasn't a question, she knew he could.

"I will if you bug the shit outta him for it," he agreed. "It's his secret identity, okay?"  She nodded quickly.  "Good girl, Stella.  Mac would get really pissed at me if you outed him and I had to turn you into a turnip."  He stared her down and she shuddered, realizing he could and would.  "We crystal here?"

"Very clear.  Do you have a title?"

"Xander.  Titles are only for official functions and Ares when he's bellowing for me to pile more work on my ass."  He grinned at her.  "Any other questions?"

"Ares is real?  Are the others?"

"Some.  Some died a long time ago during a family spat that got out of hand.  Justice is still asleep.  Hera and Zeus turned against him and a few others backed them.  A few others died earlier during the spat, like Strife."

"I'm sorry to hear that."  She stood up, facing him.  "Do I treat him any different?"

"Why?  Because he can make ice cream instead of buying it?" he asked dryly.  She relaxed and nodded.  "Today he tried something to protect himself that he wasn't taught yet.  He lost his liver for it.  It's regrowing."

"That's the groin pull and that stuff on the floor," she said.  He nodded once.  "Okay, I can help with that cover.  I think I'm the only one who saw him move."

"Yeah, and then you yelled it in the open," he noted dryly.  "I should spank you for that but you'd might enjoy it.  The others will take it as you being a touch hysterical because of your friend was hurt.  Keep it that way, all right?"  She nodded.  "Good. Now, if something serious should happen, yell for me.  That way I can come fix it."  He unshielded the office and let her out, letting Mac back in.  "He okay?"

"Still sore.  What did he lose?" he asked as he shut the door.

"His liver."

"Ow."  He shuddered.  "He'll be okay?"

"Just fine. It's regrowing.  A groin pull is as close as I can come to that pain.  It really was instinct on his part, Mac, don't yell at him for it."

"I won't.  What did you tell Stella?"

"The truth and to refer any questions about you and others to you.  She's caught your glow now and then.  I also warned her if she spread any of it around she'd be a turnip and if she picked on Danny I'd spank her, but she might like that."  That got a small smirk.  "So, need anything else?"

"No, we're okay as long as he is."

"He should be fine.  Later tonight I'll make sure he checks in with 'Sclep just in case. For now, baby him and make sure he's got some tylenol or something.  Let him rest.  Warn the other one."  He glanced around, then faded out.  "Laters."

Mac sat down and calmed himself down again.  That could have been very touchy.  Stella came back and handed him a cup of coffee.  "Thanks."

"You knew and didn't tell me."

"It was a secret, Stella."

"Still!  You didn't even clue me in so I wouldn't make a scene!"  He looked at her.  "You should've clued me in so I knew to call you instead of someone like paramedics if he gets shot."

"Well, now you know," he reminded her.  "Don't pick on Danny about it."

"Are you?"  He raised an eyebrow but took a sip of his coffee. "You glow now and then, Mac.  That scene last week your pen suddenly appeared after you had been hunting for it.  Are you?"  He nodded.  "Where?"

"Same house.  Same originating family back during Roman times actually.  No contact since then though."

"Oh."  She considered it.  "He was a God?"

"Yeah.  He's training us."

"Who else is?"  He gave her that look.  "Fine, don't tell me."

"What makes you think there's another one?"

"Because Danny always seems to have plans with at least you and one other guy from work.  Who?"

"Don," he admitted quietly.

"Which means your asses are covered greatly," she finished.  He nodded.  "Fine.  If he gets hurt, I'm yelling for Xander and then calling you, right?"   He nodded again.  "Good. I can handle that."  She walked off, going to check on Danny and get him an ice pack.  It could help some.


Xander appeared in Ares' throne room.  "Danny just had to move himself by instinct," he announced.  "He lost his liver but it was regrowing normally as far as I could tell."

"Why?" he asked patiently.

"Because someone was going to stab him.  It's instinct to move out of the way.  I ended up telling one of his coworkers, who is Greek, pure back to the old days, and she's covering too.  I told her I'd turn her into a turnip if she didn't."  Ares rolled his eyes.  "I've started the theory on how to move yourself, but no actual practice yet.  Our next time all together I'm working on that.  That way they can graduate and take on other teachers."

"They'll still need you to mentor."

"Which I can do with my thousand other jobs," he said snidely. "I've got ten students in three cities, Ares.  When the hell do I have time to do the rest of it?  Which you then bitch about."

"Tough, get over it," he snorted.

"Okay, how about this.  I'm going to petition the Council to remove my ass as messenger."  Ares glared at him.  "Trainer is fine, messenger is fine, messenger, hunter, trainer, jack of all trades, and evil detector I can't do together.  They're incompatible."

"You want a secretary?" he asked snidely.

"How about you get off your ass and ask for Strife and Discord back?" he retorted coldly.  Ares glared now and he felt the heat move across his skin.  "Burn me, dad, I'll heal, and you'll be stuck doing it all yourself after that."  He turned and walked off, going to talk to Hades.  "Hades?" he shouted when he got down there.  He appeared, looking bemused. "Either find me a damn room, give Ares back his lieutenants, or give him another helper.  Please?  He needs more hunters. I can't do it anymore."

"I've noticed the exhaustion."

"Gee, I wonder why?" he asked snidely.  "Ten students in three cities.  Far, far apart cities.  Plus two that I'm letting Hermes' grandson deal with."  Hades gave him a hug and he relaxed. "Thank you.  Why can't I be in your house since all I ever see is death?"  He pulled back and looked at him.  "I'll give you whatever sex you want if you bring back Strife, man.  Seriously."

"My wife would mind but he's been tapdancing around his rooms again," he admitted.  "He knew Ares needs him back."

"Good!  Please!"

"I'll see if I can get him to agree.  You go take a nap."

"I can't.  I have to listen for them to have problems."

"Which means you're not sleeping."

"I noticed that."  His name was yelled and he sighed.  "See?"  He faded out, landing in Vegas.  Greg was huddled in a corner, a shield around him.  "What happened?"

"Someone tried to attack him.  They shot the boss in front of him," Nick said quietly, making Xander look at him.  "He broke down and we can't get him out."

"That's fine.  I can break the shield."  He squatted down, putting a hand on it.  It was thick and airtight.  He managed to pry a corner up but it wasn't budging.  He called Tony, who came to help, taking the other side.  The air seal finally broke and Greg took a deeper breath.  "Hey," he said more gently, moving closer to hold him.  "It's all right.  Is he okay?"

"He could've died," Greg said, looking at him.  "I couldn't save him."

Xander sat down and let Greg curl up next to him.  "I've been there, Greg. It always hurts.   Even though you know he's mortal and therefore his life is shorter than yours," he said quietly, "it always hurts.  I've seen people die and be reborn, and then die again."  Greg looked at him and he nodded.  "Really.  All I ever seem to see is death these days.  Is he fine?"

"This time.  Can't I, we, protect him?"

"There are ways but you've got to name him a priest of yours.  You've got to have a job title, which means you've got to graduate," Tony said gently.  "To do that you have to finish your lessons, prove you've got control during a test, and then you can request one.  Or you can ask one of the others to take him in as theirs."

"He won't.  He doesn't really do faith anymore," Greg said quietly.  "He doesn't know."

"Then let him know," Xander suggested.  "I'm sure he can keep a secret."  He stroked over the damp cheeks.  "Even if we are what we are, Greg, we're not all-powerful.  We can't save everyone.  Sometimes living is watching the world move on around you and enjoying it while it's there.  You can always visit him if he were to die."  Greg nodded and put his head back down.  "Now, why did you create it air-tight?"

"I didn't want anyone to see me."

"Ah.  We'll go back over that lesson later on."  He stroked over the spiky blond hair.  "Just relax for now.  He wasn't killed, you've got time to tell him what he means to you."  Greg nodded, closing his eyes.  "Shh, you rest.  We'll put you on the couch in a few."  He got an armful of cuddly Godling and soothed him to sleep, looking at Tony.  "I'm about to quit my position but he can't have it.  It's too much death for him," he said quietly.  Tony nodded.  "Pick someone."  He went back to keeping Greg calm until he fell into a true sleep, then he let Nick and Warrick take him.  "It's up to you guys who you tell.  Jim's been thinking about it too."

"We know," Nick admitted.  "Thanks."

"Not a problem.  Breaking those are an advanced lesson and you're getting it the next time I show up.  All right?"  They nodded. "Good.  Then remember, it's very good advice.  You've got time, but it's finite."  He and Tony both disappeared, going to talk for a bit.  He needed to talk.


Aphrodite appeared in the middle of the crime lab, heading for Speedle.  He saw her and winced, earning a chuckle.  "I'm not here for you today, sweetie."  She pinched him on the cheek.  "No one else can see me anyway."  She leaned closer.  "I've got to fix Xander up with someone.  He needs someone who'll make him calm down and experience things but who'll understand his duties.  You're pretty good at seeing past the flush of infatuation.  I know that Tony and Gibbs are fated and meant to be.  Calleigh is a sweetie but she's either yours or Donny's.  And he's such a cutsie puppy too.  All growl and bark," she cooed.  "That leaves you as an option but you're firm in the theory that you only like girls.  Greg wouldn't understand what he's seen.  Neither would anyone but Jim out there and I think he's as straight as you think you are."

"I am straight," he muttered, glancing around.  He went over to close the door and looked at her again.  "This couldn't wait?"

"Xander's asleep on Tony's shoulder.  He won't feel me down here bugging you."  She smiled again.  "I think the other two in New York could handle each other and change them for the better...take away all the nasty habits," she said after a short pause.

"That leaves Eric and H," he said dryly.  She nodded.  "Eric's got a girl."

"Eric's had more than one girl," she noted dryly.  "I don't think he'd understand either.  Do you think Danny would?  I can see someone like him tempering Xander, but it might make him more cynical on occasion.  He doesn't need it.  He needs to be sweet and nurturing.  He needs to be in love so he finds that side of himself again.  He likes to spoil others."

"I've seen that.  I don't know what to tell you.  I really don't.  What about the others?"

"Bliss stays away from him."  She noticed someone staring and sighed.  "Who's that?  He's way grody."

"Stetler, IA," he muttered, getting back to work.  "Just ignore him unless he comes in."  He glanced at the windows, seeing him still there.  So he picked up his cell and called Horatio.  "Stetler's glaring at me.  What did I do this time?"  He smirked at him and waved.  "Horatio says hi," he called.  The man stomped off.  "It worked.  Thanks.  He's heading toward your office."  He hung up and looked at her. "I don't know, have you asked Tony?  He seems okay with the dating stuff."

"He doesn't need to date, he needs to have a lover, someone who'll nag him now and then when he needs it.  He needs the deeper conviction of that stuff."

"You might ask Tony anyway.  He's got a good feel for the group since he helps out."

"True.  I might do that.  Ares is determined he's not mating with anyone."

"What's his beef anyway?"

"He didn't love Xander's mother and she didn't tell him about Xander.  Double strikes against the kid.  We're going to be naming him over training probably if he leaves the House of War."  She shrugged and disappeared.

"Thank you for not leaving stuff behind," he muttered, getting back to work.  Xander and H?  That was a combination that seemed so *wrong* on the surface, but underneath they were much the same guy.  You never knew, you really couldn't.


Gibbs looked up as the blonde bimbo walked off the elevator, blinking at her.  "Oh please, tell me I'm not related to you," he muttered.  He looked around to make sure no one was watching.  This was not the scene he wanted to have at work.

She giggled and sat on the corner of his desk, legs crossed. "Of course you are!  I'm Aphrodite," she said happily, smiling at him.  "Tony's presently helping Xander sleep.  He fell asleep on his shoulder.  I can call him if you need him."

"I will soon.  Why're you here?"  He stood up and walked her off, taking her to the elevator to have a private talk with her. He stopped it and looked at her.  "What's going on? I noticed the kid has battle fatigue."

"And then some.  So I'm going against Ares' orders to find him a good lover.  Now, you and Tony are together, but I figure you've got a good eye for prettiness and Tony's a champ at picking out matches for me.  It's got to be one of the new guys because he's never twigged to any of us before.  He needs someone he can fuss over and someone he can play with, but someone he can spoil since he's like that."

Gibbs looked at her. "I'm a Marine, we don't deal in the warm fuzzies," he noted.

"Yeah, and?  You still have an eye for beauty and who would look good against Xander.  The boy has *no* self esteem sometimes so he'll need someone who'll make others give him fond looks now and then, which means prettiness.  My first instinct was Horatio, they're very alike you know, but Timmy didn't think so.   He's so cute," she sighed, shaking her head.  "But horribly limited in his vision."   Tony appeared and she grinned.  "Hi, pookie."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "We need to set Xander up."

"No, you *need* to get him away from Ares, get his lieutenants back so he leaves Xander alone, and then find him a real job so he's got a lover."

She nodded.  "I can try.  We know he's thinking about petitioning to be removed from the Messenger gig."  She shrugged. "I don't know what he'd do unless it's over training."   She frowned and looked around.  "One of Athena's is here?"

"Abby," Tony groaned. "Yeah, and I keep meaning to ask."  He looked at his boss.  "Long time ago Athena blessed a priestess to be like her own daughter since she had no heir.  She's from that line."  He looked at Aphrodite again. "I can give her the choice."

"Maybe you should.  Iron Britches is on the warpath to stop you guys anyway."  She patted him on the cheek.  "Danny, Horatio?  Mac?  Donny?  Who, baby?  Tell Auntie Dite."

"Danny and he would work.  Horatio would see a problem with being set up with Xander.  Don Flack and Xander?"  He considered it. "They'd look hot together but I think he's fixated on someone already.  I'm not sure who though.  Not Greg?"

"Xander's life has been horrors and fighting, pookie.  I doubt he could handle the nightmares."  She winked.  "Besides, Greg has a big 'ol huge hump'o lust for someone at work."

"Interesting.  Does Xander like any of us?" Gibbs asked.

"He's not allowing himself to feel those things.  He hasn't in years," she told him.  "Not since he nearly died at the hands of the last one.  Since then it's all been about sex and having someone to sleep next to."  He nodded. "Like you said, battle fatigue and other fatigues."  She looked at Tony again.  "You think one of the guys in New York?"

"I think they could, but I'd ask first," Tony suggested dryly. "Don't stick them with an arrow until you know how they feel about him."

"Point.  Oh, well, I'll ask Cupie and Bliss to check the averages for me."  She giggled and pushed Gibbs against Tony's chest.  "There, no arrow needed, just a major clue."  She disappeared.

Tony looked at his boss and grinned.  "She's a bit pushy.  You feel anything for me, boss?"

"Now and then, and about half the time it's irritation."

"Well, she's got time to work on you," he noted dryly, letting him go slowly.  "Let me know, okay?"  He turned on the elevator and they went down to talk to Abby.  "Hey, pretty one," he teased.

"Tony!"  She hugged him, giving him a squeeze. "You weren't here earlier when I was being brilliant."

"You're always brilliant.  It's what you are."  He tipped her chin up, looking into her eyes, then he nodded, grinning at her.  "What would you do if I told you the Greek Gods were real and you're kinda related to one?"

"Grandma's journal said I was."  She pulled back to look at him.  "It said Athena named the family heirs."  She grinned at him.  "How did you know?"

"I'm one of Hermes' grandsons out of Auto."

"Yeah, Grams said he was a fun playmate," she agreed happily.  "So, why are you telling me this?"

"Because sometimes the spark that makes us us skips a few generations.  You've got it though."

"Oh.  So you can fan the flames and make me one?"  He nodded. "That's so cool!"  She beamed at him.  "Can I check on Kate?"

"We do," Gibbs assured her.  "She's missed you."

Tony smiled at her.  "He's one of the Seeds of Justice."

"Oooh.  I wondered why we were looking at the Messenger for the House of War."  She shrugged.  "Okay."

"Abby, this is serious," Gibbs reminded her.  "Extremely serious and it's going to take a lot of work."

She giggled and shook her head. "I already know the exercises, Gibbs.  I've been doing them since I was ten.  We all do in my family, all the girls."  She looked at Tony.  "Go ahead, I'm ready."

He smiled and rested his forehead against hers, concentrating on it.  He felt Athena's shriek and sent a mental message about her bloodline, enacting her change before Athena could disagree verbally or appear.  He pulled back and let her hold her head.  "There, all done."

"Cool."  She concentrated and a new soda appeared next to her, then she beamed and started to sip it. "I'm a happy Abby now."

Gibbs shook his head. "I should've figured you'd take it easier.  Come see us later, Abs."  He walked out with Tony, going back to their desks.  "How's the kid?"

"Tired.  I left him asleep and closed his temple off so no one could bother him.  Then I called the others to tell them to call me today.  Horatio's still got vampires," he complained as they got off the elevator.  He saw the director standing there.  "Madam Director."

"Jethro, who was the woman in pink?"

"Someone who thought she was Aphrodite and thought I should be taking DiNozzo to bed tonight.  She came to pass on some information about a case and that suggestion."

"I see."  She looked at them, then shook her head.  "Did you send her away?"  Gibbs nodded.  "Good.  Alert security if the woman comes back.  She's clearly out of her mind."  She walked on, muttering about bimbos.

"We've often thought that," Tony agreed quietly, cracking Gibbs up.  "She wanted to set Speed and Horatio up too."

"Isn't Speed straight?" Gibbs asked as he sat down.  Tony nodded, sitting down and kicking back.  "Reports, DiNozzo."

"Damn."  He got back to work, crime waited for no God.


Xander woke up to being poked by Hades, making him look at him.  "Did I finally die from overwork?"

"Not yet.  The Council wants you."

"What did I do this time?" he complained, getting up and clothing himself with a thought.   He followed him to the Council chamber, bowing at them.  "You woke me up?" he asked.

Aphrodite nodded. "I did have you woken, Xander.  Do you like your job as the Messenger of the House of War?"

"Now and then.  I'm tired of the hunting. I'm tired of doing the work of three gods during the training I'm doing and then three other jobs on top of it."

"Could you handle the training?" Athena asked coldly.

He looked at her.  "I didn't do anything to one of yours this time.   Speaking of yours, where the hell is Faith?  Miami needs her."

"You question me?" she sneered.

"Hell yes!  You made a pampered princess the slayer!"  She glared and he shrugged.  "Your choice, Athena, and then I got forced to help her.  I'm damn tired of the killing now.  Miami needs a slayer and you can't move Buffy from the hellmouth for that long.  So I'm suggesting Faith. Unless you wanna make someone like Blade?"

"How many vampires are in Miami?" Cupid asked.

"Last count there was at least two hundred, if not more.  Since those kids were turned I haven't been able to hunt at all."

"Which is in violation of your orders," Ares said coldly.

Xander looked at him, then pulled out his dagger and cut his palm, showing it to him.  "I, Xander, Godling of the House of War, request a formal appointment by the Council so that I can do some good for the pantheon and the mortal population."  He turned his back on Ares, symbolic in cutting his ties, then wiped his blood off.  "I know there's minor positions to fill.  I'd take nearly any of them."

"There is, including helping the God over our children find and train them all," Apollo agreed.  "We all know we've got spots open like that one."

"I do as well," Athena noted, smirking at him.  "One of my heirs was activated earlier by the other Messenger."

"I'm not responsible for Tony.  I already trained him with Hermes' help.  He's intelligent enough to make that decision himself and to read the edict from the Council that said all godly offspring were to be found and given a choice of joining us or not. I'm sure he knew to give it to her."

"Why didn't you?"

"Um, gee, let's see, Athena," he snapped, moving closer.  "Because I had to handle that Initiative crap you started in motion a few years back and I'm now wanted by the Feds?  Since Tony works with the Feds, I didn't want to make him choose.  Therefore I haven't been working with his coworker, I've been letting him handle him.  After all, Aphrodite says they're a mated pair."  She scowled at the Goddess of Love.  "Since YOU started the Initiative shit, and I had to end it, nothing has been right.  I'm sick and damned tired of killing for you and Ares.  You want blood, go find a dagger."  He turned his back on her.  "Just anything would be nice," he told Aphrodite.

"We agreed earlier you were getting training."  He moaned and held his head.  "You're the only one who can give them a realistic viewpoint and then farm them out for specialist lectures. You've trained the last sixteen godlings found, Xander.  Of course we named you over it."

"By the way, her offspring is already trained," a male voice said from the doorway, walking inside.  "Reporting for duty," he said, snapping a salute at Xander, then smirking at him.  "You begged and offered sex?"

"Yeah, and I'll give it to you instead if you keep the bastard away from me," he noted dryly.  "Nice to have you back, Strife."  He gave him a quick hug. "When am I being confirmed?"

"This weekend.  We'll call the godlings up for another weekend.  I'm sure we can keep crime down those few days," Artemis offered with a smile.  "Congratulations, Xander."

"Thank you, Artemis.  May I have a list of all the known godlings left?"  She nodded.  "Then I'm at your command and request."  He bowed to them and backed out of the center of the circle, leaving Strife to cover for him.  He found Discord in his way and grinned at her.  "Hi.  We missed you.  I looked really shitty in your outfit."  She burst out laughing and hugged him.  "Thank you, Auntie Eris," he whispered, then let her go and walked off, going to redecorate his temple for a bit.  Then he went back to his nap.  He needed a nap.

"Zeus, Ares, you took a knight and made him Jett," she complained as she walked in. "He'd better not have been serious about wearing my clothes either!"  He flinched and looked at her.  "Oh, you're so in for it later," she promised.  She looked at them and tipped her chin up.  "We were sent back to handle things since it's not fair for a new God to handle six positions by himself.  Any present orders?"

"Go have more kids," Aphrodite told her.  "Give Xander something to do."  She smiled at her.  "Welcome back, Discord and Strife.  We have missed you both.  It's been boring."

"I'm sure we can liven things up," Strife promised with a smirk, then turned it on Athena.  "I like your heir.  She's neat and one'a mine."  He faded out then came back and stole Cupid's ambrosia cookies, heading back to check on how bad his temple looked.  It was dusted and ready for him to come back, which meant his uncle had missed him a lot.  It made him feel happy, but he would still get it for making Xander replace him.


Xander woke up to find someone else poking him.  He blinked at Speed.  "What day is it?"

"Friday night.  We're back to celebrate.  Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, just tired."  He put his head back down.  "Really, really tired."

"Uh-huh," Gibbs said from the doorway.  "Eric, call whoever it was that saw your sister again."

"Apollo?" he called.  "Xander won't wake up!"

An extremely bright flash of light appeared and faded to show Apollo in a gold speedo and his hair blowing in the breeze he created.  "Why not?"

Eric shrugged.  "Speed got close enough to poke him."

"Damn it."  He walked that way, going to check on the volatile god.  He knew what it was and he sent a dirty thought at his twin, Artemis, to tell her.  Artemis choked it out in front of Discord, who went to kill her twin brother.  Which was what was needed.  He felt the magic snap and Xander blinked at him.  "Morning.  The sleep spell's worn off again."  He smoothed down the dark hair.  "Go bathe, eat, get some ambrosia into your body.  You'll be fine."  Xander nodded and heaved himself up.  "Good boy.  Eris is handling your father for the moment."  He gave him a pat on the back and went to check on the others. "Xander did remove himself from the House of War officially," he announced, getting some smiles from the military among the group.  "He's now the official Trainer of Olympus.  It's his official Godhood.  We're celebrating this weekend while he teaches you how to pop around and annoy everyone."  He looked at Tony.  "Your father is...."

"Auto.  He's in Maryland at the moment."

"Good. Thank you.  Expect your grandfather soon."  He disappeared in another flash of light.

Xander came out of the bedroom eating something.  "That flash is not necessary for being moved.  I'm going to take a shower.  Create chairs and a tv for now.  Make sure the phones work."  He went back to his cooking so he could eat before his shower.  He could have the ambrosia after it or during it.  He felt someone pop in behind him and hug him so he looked.  "Hey, who're you?"

"Abby.  Tony told me to come up."

"Cool beans.  I'm Xander."  He reached back over his shoulder and she shook his hand.  "Go through the mess to the throne room to find everyone else."  She beamed and headed that way while he fried eggs and added cheese. He walked back over his piles of laundry on his way to the bathroom, magicing them clean and put away before he closed the bathroom door.

Abby bounced out, beaming at everyone.  "Hi!"  She sat on Tony's lap, looking at him.  "He needs more rooms."

"He probably does," he agreed patiently, "but that's his decision."

She snorted and shook her head. "If it's his official title he'll have to have space for his students.  We can do the expansion."

"I can't and you're not that trained yet, Abby.  You still have to take your test."  He patted her on the back.  "Trust me, he can do it."

"Fine."  She looked at Gibbs, giving him the puppy eyes.  "Please?" she pleaded.

"We'll see. Abby."  He made a couch and got comfortable, and Horatio did the same, creating a tv.  Abby moved over to curl up against his side.  "Comfy?"

"Quite comfy," she said happily.  "Hi.  I'm Abby."

"Horatio, from Miami," he offered, waving back.

"Cool.  Tony said you've got vampire problems."

"Yes, and now we've got this mouthy little girl instead."

"Mouthy little girl?" she mused.  "Faith?"  He nodded.  "Well, at least she can handle the slaying for you.   It's what she's made to do."  She smiled at the other guys.  "Wow.  All you guys are so cute!"  Speed looked at her.  "I'm Abby, I'm one of Athena's heirs."

"I'm Speed, one of Hades'."  He shook her hand.  "What do you do?"

"I'm the NCIS, DC, forensic tech.  You?"

"I'm one of Horatio's CSIs."

She giggled. "That's so cool!"

Gibbs spotted the New York guys appearing with Hermes and Calleigh.  "Hey, Don."  He walked over.  "You might wanna watch out.  Aphrodite is trying to hook you up with Xander," he said quietly.

He groaned and shook his head.  "I like the guy, but I've got someone in mind of my own."

"You might wanna tell them or her then," he noted dryly.

"Yeah, which means she'll go back to the idea of Xander and Horatio," Speed noted smugly.

Horatio looked at him.  "Say something like that again and I'm drug testing you, Speed."  Eric and Calleigh both snickered.  "I'm serious."

"Too serious," Eric agreed, going back to the kitchen to find food and drinks, or make food and drinks.  He was getting better at it with the practice he was doing.

Horatio moaned and held his forehead. "Why me?"

"She thought the kid needed someone to spoil," Speed told him.  "Plus someone who could understand him and his old duties.  Someone who would cuddle and nurture but let the guy spoil him rotten."

"Wonderful, but I still like women," Horatio noted. "Notably Eric's sister."

"Which is why she's not being so pushy about you at the moment," Aphrodite said as she appeared, smiling at him.  "Hi."  She shook Abby's hand.  "Which one are you?"

"Abby.  I work with Tony and Gibbs."

"You're so cute!"  She pinched her on the cheek.  Then she looked at Eric as he came out.  "Awww, so thoughtful."

"Xander's napping in the shower," he told her.  "I heard the snoring."  He put down the tray and waved a hand, creating food and drinks.  "There, eat."

Speed looked at him.  "Good job.  About time."  The Vegas guys showed up and he nodded. "Eric made food."

"Good," Greg said, coming over.  "Grissom freaked."

"Are you still employed?" Horatio asked. "If not, Mac might have a spot in New York."

"So far.  I'm hiding at the moment," he admitted, sitting down next to Abby, who gave him a hug. "Thank you, Abby.  I haven't seen you in years."  She grinned and kissed him on the forehead.  "I needed that," he sighed, resting against her.  "I should've been your baby brother."  She nodded, stroking his cheek and letting him relax.

"Man, he works faster than I do," Warrick said, sounding amused.

Greg looked back.  "Guys, this is Abby, The Abby from the convention stories.  Abby, that's Nick and Warrick. I told you about them."  She smiled and waved.  "Whose kid are you?"


"Cool.  Beats me.  I've got dark and deadly."  He snuggled in, holding her tightly.  "Maybe I should apply to move in with you."

"Maybe.  Gibbs, can we use an extra guy?"

"Our team's presently complete," he noted patiently.  "There's openings in the office.  One of the other teams needs someone."

She pouted. "But Greg's learning how to do field work and he needs someone like you to teach him the right way, Gibbs.  He's a former DNA tech too.  One of the best in the country."

"Greg's got skills," Nick admitted.  "We've all been helping him become the better field tech we know he can be."

"Yeah, because we all know Gris and I are the best," Warrick finished smugly.  "At least in Las Vegas."

"Hey!" Nick complained, glaring at him. "I'm better than you!"

Calleigh's giggle broke up the play fighting.  "Guys, I'm better than both of you, can pee farther than both of you combined, and I can fire a shotgun.  Give it up, the women win this round."  She patted them both on the cheeks.  "Some day you too can approach the greatness that is womanhood."

Nick grinned at her.  "I'm from Texas, I've seen badder women than you."

"Honey, I'm from near New Orleans.  Ain't nothin' in Texas can beat us unless one of us moved there."  He cracked up at that and gave her a hug.  "Warrick, don't I get one?" she demanded.  "You haven't seen me in years."

"I'm still having nightmares from then," he teased, giving her his own hug.  "Speed, Eric."

"Hi," Speed said, smirking at him. "Is Greg the same coffeehound you guys told us about?"  They all nodded.  "Cool.  Horatio, can't we have an open spot?"

"You took it back, Speed.  No room in the budget this year.  Next year if Mac can't use him."

"Oh, I can," Mac assured him.  Danny hit him on the arm.  "Ow!  What was that for?"

"For doubting Aiden."  He walked off, going to find their host and wake him up again.  Xander jumped when he opened the door so he looked at him. "You're going to turn into a prune," he noted dryly.

"It'll make the fuzziness in my head look appropriate."

"No, that's a peach, or a kumquat."  Xander giggled and finished his bathing, getting out to slurp his ambrosia smoothie and walk back with him.  He did find something he wanted to wear and put it on the old fashioned way before going out.  It was only nice to put on clothes when you had company.  "He's back."

"Congrats," Speed said.

"Thanks. Pretty soon Ares will leave me alone too."   He flopped down on Greg's other side, giving him a hug. "I'm sorry it didn't work out."

"He'll come around in a few days, once he's rationalized and given him a drug and psych test," Warrick assured him.

"Stella wanted to know if we were gonna have any orgies like the old days, and if so could she come," Danny offered.  He sat across from Xander.  "Is he comfy?"

"Very," Abby said with a grin.  "So, you work in New York?"  He nodded. "It's a pretty city but it was kinda grungy the last time I was there.  And there's way too many people."  He nodded, grinning at that.  "Are you going to stay a CSI when you've got to move on?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna try," he admitted.  "You?"  She nodded.

"She's the whole lab together," Gibbs told him.  "She's amazing, but hyper."  Abby beamed at him for both compliments.  Then she stole Greg back and held him again.  "Abby," he sighed.  "Don't get too attached, he's not a puppy."

"Yes he is.  Greg, give him the wounded puppy look."  Greg gave it to him. "See?"  She went back to cuddling him.

Aphrodite reappeared, looking at them.  "That's a kickin' match," she said in awe.  "Blessed and all that, kiddies.  Have good sex.  Lots and lots of good sex.  Cupie could use the pick-me-up today."  She smiled at Xander, coming over to kiss him on the forehead.  Then she smacked him lightly for looking at what was amply showing in front of his eyes. "Dear, you need to have a boyfriend. Would you mind if Tony and I work on it?"

Xander looked back at Tony.  "You wanted me to have who?"

He shrugged. "She likes Don."

"I've got someone in mind," Don said quickly.  Mac looked at him so he shrugged. "What?"

"Mind reading is a later lecture," Xander called. "Otherwise you get stuck!"  He looked at her again. Apparently her first attempt had failed so she was checking to make sure he was still okay with the idea.  "No, I wouldn't mind at all.  Just not someone like father."

"Not an issue, but they've got to be able to understand what you've done."  She patted him on the head. "I'm trying."  She looked at the New York trio, realizing that it was quite possibly a trio.  "Huh."  She frowned and faded out so she could check over their chances.  If not, maybe Mac....  Or definitely Danny or Don.

Danny looked at Don.  "Are you scared because of that look she gave us?"

"Yeah, but I figure she's seeing us having sex in her head.  It's either really hot or scary."

"It's gotta be really hot if I'm in it like that," Danny teased back.

Mac groaned and walked off shaking his head.

"I find a good smack across the back of the head works," Gibbs advised.  "Doesn't it, DiNozzo?"

"Sure, boss, each and every day it just makes me want you more," he quipped back.  He got glared at so he disappeared.  "Going to bug Kate again," his voice called once he was gone.

"No fair, I wanna come!" Abby called, getting up and stamping her foot.  She squeaked as she disappeared too, looking at the man who summoned her.  "Strife!" she squealed, hugging him as tightly as she could.  "Oooh, we missed you!"

"Thanks, pumpkin.  C'mon, let's take you down there ta visit. I liked Kate, she was pretty cool and played poker with me."  He took her down there, leading her to where Kate was, watching her run over to hug her former friend.  Hades appeared, giving him a curious look.  "Athena's heir used ta work with Tony and her.  Tony's still there and it's either this or she jumps Greggy."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "That's fine.  There's been a lot of visitors.  Zeus is complaining about how I run my kingdom again."

Strife snorted.  "He's dead too, he don't got no say.  Stick him in the middle of the lake again, Hades."  He punched him on the arm.  "We need ta scare Ares off Xan's ass again.  He knocked him out for three days."

"The kid probably needed it," he said wisely. He walked over there, smiling at Kate.  "You are of the bloodline," he noted quietly.  "You are allowed to petition to go home again."

"I'm....  It'd scare everyone who knew me."

"Not us," Abby said, stamping her foot.  "Well, maybe McGee, but I can easily explain it to him and Ducky."

Kate stroked her cheek. "It's not fair that I get a second chance when others don't."

"Some do," Hades noted.  "Some don't want it.  I've had a few where I needed a revolving door and a counter."  Abby giggled at that so he patted her on the head.  "You're adorable.  My wife would love you.  Would you like dinner tonight with us?"

"If I'm not doing anything," she said happily, beaming at him, then at Kate and Tony.  "Come on!" she whined.  "You've got to come back!  Gibbs is being sour, still.  McGee is still pouting, and you know what Tony thinks about when you're not there.  Besides, you're of the bloodline so we can have clothing wars and stuff in the office.  It's gotta be better than Aphrodite showing up and scaring the director or where she set her up on a date!"

Kate chuckled, shaking her head.  "What about all the other bloodlines, Abby?"

"Most of them aren't here.  They get put back first," Hades assured her.  "Usually as a rebirth...."

"But then you'd get to be my kid with Gibbs," Tony teased.  "We could raise you up and make you such a little warrior princess."

"No, she's in a special room all by herself," Hades said dryly. "Where she's staying."

Kate sighed and looked at him.  "How would I explain this to my mother?"

"Body switch."


"Body switch.  They pretended to kill you and switched the bodies.  They buried someone else and a covert reconnaissance team found you and brought you home to us.  It's all due to the fact that you tripped over some covert group during an investigation."

She blinked.  "How do you come up with these ideas?"

"Xander.  He's even got a form letter from some government agency for you to send to them if you want or need it.  That way they're warned and they jump on Gibbs to be told where you are."  She groaned and shook her head.  "It'll work.  It's not like it hasn't happened in the past."

"On soap operas!"

"And in real life," Abby told her.  "A few times.  The reason Xander can't come to train us personally is because we're feds and he's wanted for stopping a covert project."

"Still?" Hades demanded.  She nodded.  "They need to get over that."  He rolled his eyes and walked her off.  "I'll bring her back to Xander's in a while, Tony.  Have Hermes deliver the message since he's bored."

"Sure."  He looked at Kate, who was now very solid.  He grinned and picked her up, spinning her around.  "You're back!"  He awakened her powers and gave her the quick lessons no one was supposed to get.

"I saw that," Hades called.  "You forgot the other one."

Tony smirked and gave her the last set of lessons with a wink, then took her back to the temple.  "Boss!"  He walked her inside, pulling her to stand in front of Gibbs.  "Look who got released from a special covert ops group who was holding her hostage."

Gibbs stood up, looking her over.  The toga almost got a smirk.  He looked into her eyes.  "Are you coming back?" he asked quietly.

"If I can."

"You can."  He pulled her closer and gave her a hug.  "We've missed you."  He looked around.  "I don't hear squealing."

"She's having dinner with Hades."

"It's probably a life-long dream."  He let Kate go and looked her over.  "You'll be fine and I'll work on your training."

"Tony slipped and accidentally showed me some of it," she admitted, creating a beer for him.  She smiled and handed it over after a taste.  "How's that?"

He laughed and hugged her again.  "Perfect, Kate.  Thank you."  He let her go and sat down, letting her have Abby's spot next to him. He looked at Tony, who was still grinning.  "Go do something."

"Gibbs, he threatened to have me reborn as a kid from you two," she told him.

He looked at her.  "I'd make sure you were sane."

"Awww," Xander sighed, grinning at them.  "This weekend we're working on moving ourselves and things with us.  You can join in since I saw and felt what he did. I'm Xander."  He shook her hand.

"Kate Todd."

"I heard from Tony, a lot."  She smiled at that.  "I'm over training now."

"That's cool.  When can I take my test and graduate?"

"After I'm confirmed and the others take theirs with you.  That way no one can say anything to him."

"Sure."  She smiled at him, then at Horatio.  "Hi."

"Greetings.  I hear we're cousins somehow."

"Second cousins, once removed," Xander reported, going to pull the book and hand it to him.  "The official family tree starting from Joxer, Jett, and Jace."  He sat back down, letting Greg curl up against him again.  "You can go nap on my bed."

"You need more rooms.  Abby agreed with me."

Xander smiled.  "After the confirmation."

"Okay."  He looked up at him. "You cuddle very well."

"I do, don't I?" he agreed happily.  Bacchus' shade appeared and he looked at him.  "I'm being good and not hunting.  What's wrong?"

"Faith is a pain in my ass."

"So have the next girl called," he snorted.

Bacchus looked at him. "She's worse.  She's a total airhead."

"Then pollute her blood before she's called, Bacchus.  You should've done it to Buffy so you could've helped her without me being there. You know your body and blood wine stores are still in your temple."

"True."  He faded out, going to do that.

"Sorry.  Faith rubs a lot of people the wrong way.  She's got a very unique view of the world at times."

"So she's going to die, just like that?" Speed asked.

"No, she'll probably be turned," Xander admitted.  "Lots and lots of slayers are.  Of course, it'll drive her insane.  It always does."  He shrugged.  "She'll be fine.  She'll find a protector in her sire and live on that way.  It's the way of the vampire world."

"Interesting," Eric admitted from where he was watching the game.  "How often do new girls get called?"

"Whenever one dies.  There've been months where they went through ten or twelve and the one in Sunnydale has been doing it now for six years.  It depends on the girl and how good they are.  Or really how lucky they are."  He shrugged and grinned at him. "I don't have a thing to do with that.  I just fought with them."

"For far too long," Mac said quietly from behind him.  Xander looked back and nodded. "You do look like you've seen one too many wars, Xander."

"That's because I have.  I've been in every major skirmish and war since I was awakened.  That's about five-hundred-fifty years of wars.  Constantly.  I'm damn tired, Mac.  That's why I got out."

"You did good, kid," he praised, patting him on the head.  "Who was she planning from us?"

"Not a clue.  Aphrodite is as clear as stained glass some days but she can keep a secret."

Mac smirked.  "That's fine.  Let's hope she finds you someone nice to date."

"That would be nice.  I'd like someone who cuddles during the nightmares."

Gibbs nodded. "I tried for that three different times."

"And failed," Tony reminded him from safely far enough away.  His head rocked and he rubbed the back of it.  "Boss, that's mean to smack me with your powers."

"It worked," he said smugly.

Xander snickered.  "Good job training him, Tony."

"I didn't teach him to do that."

"Yes you did.  You told me I could manifest from a distance," he said smugly.

Kate looked at Xander.  "Don't encourage Tony, he hardly ever needs it."

"But it's nice to have someone to play with.  None of the bigger gods will play with me."  She cracked a smile at that.  "Come on, you should change."

She looked down and noticed what she was wearing, then sighed and closed her eyes, changing her clothes to something she liked to wear.  "Much better than a wrapped sheet."

Tony looked at her and changed it into an Indian sari and shirt.  "Yeah, but that's cuter and closer to what you had been wearing.  That way you have time to adjust."

She looked at herself, then at him.  "I still feel like I'm wearing a wrapped sheet."  She changed it back and found herself in all black, button-up shirt and schoolgirl skirt with knee socks and penny loafers.  "Abby!" she shouted.  "Not nice!"  She changed it back and stuck it.

"I'm having a horrible vision of downtime," Gibbs sighed, grabbing a beer to drink.

Mac looked at Danny, then changed his clothes to something tighter and more showy. "There, that's better than some baggy suit."  He looked at Don's and changed his too, then his own.  "Much better.  Now we look we're not at work."

Danny looked down at himself, then at him.  "You sure about that, Mac? I look like I'm sellin' it now.  Which would technically mean I'm never off work."

Don spluttered at that, grabbing a drink to gulp and calm down.  "Danny!" he managed finally.

Danny just smirked at him.  "What?  I do!"  He looked at Kate, who was smiling back at them.  "Don't I look like a rent boy?"

"Pants aren't quite tight enough.  But you do have a nice butt."

"Thanks."  He beamed at her.  "Almost no one notices."

"That's because you wear baggy pants," Don told him.

"It's not like I can work like this," he complained. "I can't bend over in these."

"Oh, yes, you can," Mac assured him.  "Stella would drool if you did."  Danny glared at him.  "Sorry, I'm feeling playful.  It's the air up here."

"Yeah, you're oxygen starved," Danny snorted, going over to let Xander protect him.

Don looked at Mac, then shrugged. "I agree with you."

Mac stared at him. He got what she was talking about now.  "Flip you for him tonight," he said suddenly.

"Nope, he's mine tonight. If you want him, you're both mine."

Mac snorted, shaking his head.  "I top."

"Yeah, me too."

"I'm not some comfort toy to be passed back and forth," Danny called.

"Yes you are," they called back, making Greg, Kate, Xander, and Tony all snicker.

Danny stood up.  "Neither of you are gettin' in my pants now unless you beg and bottom.  So I'd quit."  He looked at Speed. "Do you have to put up with this?"

"Nope.  I like girls.  I had to be insistent with Aphrodite that I like girls.  She kept trying to get Horatio and me together."

Danny snickered at that, shaking his head. "You poor guy."  He looked at his coworkers.  "There's gonna be rules, boys."

"Sure," Don agreed, walking over to grab him by the back of the neck and walk him to the back yard with Mac behind him.  "I'm sure we can agree on that."

"We'll be back after we talk," Mac called.

Xander snickered, looking up. "Quit playing with people, 'Dite.  That's not nice."  Greg got away from him, going to cuddle Speed instead, just in case the pink lightening bolt hit him too.

Kate reached over to pat him on the arm.  "She's trying so hard to make it cute."

Greg groaned and pulled out his vibrating cellphone, looking at the number.  "Griss, what a surprise," he complained, opening it.  "I'm up."  He listened to the quiet voice.  "I told you we were going off this weekend, Grissom. That's why you have leave papers somewhere on your desk."  He looked up, silently praying for patience. "Why?  Did you want me there?"  He growled.  "Grissom, I don't belong to you.  Not at the moment."

Horatio took the phone and put it against his ear. "Gil, Horatio Caine," he said smoothly. "No, Greg came down to visit one of my techs for the weekend.  We're just sitting around the table chatting about work. No, I'm not poaching, but a friend from New York is down and he mentioned they're looking for someone.  He came recruiting Eric or Calleigh."  He smirked at Greg.  "No, I'd never think about poaching," he assured him calmly.  "Why would I?  I think Greg would make a wonderful addition to the team but unless one of my guys take the really good salary in New York, I'm full on my shift.  I don't know.  Eric, do you feel like you could go to New York?"

"I might but my mother would be pissed," he noted dryly, looking at him.  "She'd yell at you for weeks.  Calleigh might though."

"True."  He put the phone back to his ear.  "Calleigh is talking more about it, Gil, and Greg also met with an NCIS officer who was just here.  They were chatting up their program as well.  Why?  Did he have a problem at work we should know about?"  He listened to the complaint that Greg wasn't focusing and he was playing with some fantasy.  "Are you sure that's what it is, Gil?  After all, I know what Greg's talking about.  I have someone in my office with that problem.  No, Warrick knows them."  He smirked at Warrick and Gibbs when they both stared at him.  "Of course I don't *want* to poach, but you know how much I hate to see talent go to waste.  Actually, I've got one I'm trying to decide about putting him to injured status or not.  Of course.  How about I come back with him when he comes?  Maybe we can talk about what's going on."  He smirked almost evilly.  "Of course.  It'll be good to see you again too.  I'll see you Monday, Gil."  He hung up and handed the phone back.

"Who's injured?" Eric asked.

"Mr. Wolfe's eye has been giving him fits," Horatio noted quietly. "He's been hiding it for quite a while.  I'm not sure what I'm doing about it yet."

"The chief said we're over budget anyway," Calleigh said as she came in.  "I'm sure we can move Ryan into doing just lab work or something.  That way he's not in the field and in danger."  She kissed Greg on the head.  "I'll show you the good beaches if you move down."  She walked off, heading for the kitchen.  She still found it easier to make food in the kitchen.  Then she came out nibbling a sandwich.  "Xander, you have your formal presentation in an hour, dear.  I was told to remind you.  Something about looking more presentable than you do now?"

"Man, I hate formal clothes," he complained, getting up and heading into the bedroom to look in his closet.  "Crap."

Tony stuck his head in and pointed, creating something.  "Wear that."

"It's leather."

"So?  You're still the son of Ares, leather daddy of the universe."  He pulled back and went back to the game.

Xander pulled out the pants and looked at them. "I have to put them on by magic," he complained.  He did so, letting his other clothes fall onto the bed.  Then he found a purple shirt and pulled it out, putting it on and walking out buttoning it back up.  Kate and Calleigh choked. "What?  Tony picked it out!"  He looked at himself and tucked in his shirt loosely, all he could manage. "Better?"

"And I thought Danny's pants were tight," Kate said, staring at him.  "Um, Xander, unless this is an orgy...."

"No, that's later according to my grandfather," Calleigh told her.  "That's the usual after- party."

"Can we go?" Eric asked.

"I don't see why not," she admitted. "He said I could."

"You've got to be able to move tomorrow," Xander reminded him.  He looked down at himself, then at her.  "What's wrong with it?  I look decent.  I know my ass is huge but it's not that distressing."

"You're not fat," Kate assured him, getting up and leading him back to the bedroom, turning on the overhead light.  Danny came in out of the kitchen and stopped to gape.  "Quit!"

"Don!" he called, sounding strangled.  Don and Mac both came to look and stared.  "I want a pair of those."

"Hell, I want a pair of those," Don said in appreciation.

"Out!" Kate ordered.  "Quit picking on him!"

"What picking!  He's hot in that!" Danny defended.  "He's packin' more heat than I am!"

Xander looked at himself, then at Danny's crotch, then shook his head.  "I don't think so."

Mac looked, taking careful visual measurements as he had been taught back in forensic classes.  "I think they're about equal.  Too hard to tell since neither's hard."

Don drug both men off, taking them back to the backyard again.

"He said Aphrodite was doing it, Don," Kate called.  She looked over Xander's rear.  "There's no fat back here, Xander.  Trust me.  You're a bit stocky with muscles, but you're not fat."  She ran a hand over his arm.  "Squeeze."  He did so and she let him see it in the mirror.  "See, not fat."  She patted him on the back.  "You probably shouldn't wear that, they'll think you're training us for a whole different reason."  She resisted the urge to stroke his butt.  He sighed and made the pants disappear and reappear on a hanger, leaving him naked.  Which was much more than she *needed* to know, but not half of what she wanted.  "Simple black pants, Xander.  Dress pants."  She pointed at a pair.  "Wear those."

"Fine," he agreed, pulling them out.  He put them on without underwear, making her squeak.  "What?" he asked, turning around while zipping them.

"Most guys try to wear underwear."

"I don't.  They bother me and it's one more thing to take off at night."  He shrugged and tucked in his shirt again, looking at himself in the mirror.  "Are you sure?"

"You look much more respectable," she assured him.  He flipped off the lights and looked at himself. "You get dressed in the dark?"  He nodded, looking at her. "Why?"

"I can see well enough."

She gave him a hug.  "You're a good man, Xander, but you need more cuddles and someone to take care of you like you deserve."  She walked him back out, waving a hand.  "Tony, this is presentable for something formal that doesn't require a suit.  Leather that tight isn't."

"Around here it is," he said, smirking at her. "Get a good grope in?"

"She didn't grope," Xander told him.  "No one gropes me."

Greg reached out and pulled him into his lap to cuddle him.  "I will if you ever wear those pants again," he promised, kissing him on the cheek.  "You deserved it in them."  He did pat the butt now.  "Very nice and I see the Olympians don't believe in underwear."

"They only had loincloths back then and they're not comfortable."  He wiggled off his lap and looked at himself, then sighed. "You wrinkled me."

Gibbs looked and the pants were creased and wrinkle free again.  "There, now you look presentable.  I agree, DiNozzo, that was mean to put him into those pants."

"Why?  I've seen his other pair."

"They got ripped up during a fight," Xander said.  "I'll keep those for later use."  He grinned at him.  "Should we go?"  Everyone got up and arranged their clothes.  "We're leaving!" Xander yelled.  The other three came in, looking more presentable now.

"Damn, he changed," Don muttered as he walked past Xander and Kate.

Xander rolled his eyes. "I'm not that cute!  Get over it already!"  He followed his horde out, going to the formal chambers.  "Okay, this is the Council hall," he announced.  "It's a no-play zone.  Not even Strife's supposed to play in here."  He opened the doors, letting them inside.  "Around you are the Halls of Time, the portal mirrors where you can watch the past and future unfold.  It's also Ares' office for official matters, and then the Council chambers."  He walked them that way.  He opened the door and found everyone in there.  "Find a spot around the walls.  Seats are for the higher ups."  He walked into the center of the room, looking at his father.  "Morning.  Is it time?"

"It is."  He stood up and looked at his son.  "No leather?"

"Tony tried but Kate agreed that I wasn't that cute in it."

"No I didn't," Kate told him.  "I think you're very cute in them, but you should have something more formal."

Ares looked at her, then at Xander, then glared at Aphrodite. "What did I tell you?"

Xander got between them. "Bugger off."  He stared him down.  "It's not your decision and I doubt she's after me anyway."  Ares backed off, he knew not to antagonize the kid, he had been attacked in his sleep the last time.  Xander turned to face the rest of them, Hades coming in with his wife and Abby, who went over to stand and cling to Tony and Kate's arms.  "Are we all here?  I've got students to threaten and they wanted to attend some of the parties later," he said calmly.

"I'll gladly welcome them in mine," Aphrodite assured him.

"Mine too," Hermes agreed, smiling at the godlings.  He looked at Xander.  "Are you ready?"

"I guess.  It hurt like hell the last time."  He stepped forward.  "I present myself to the Council of Twelve for the consideration of the post they have named me to," he said formally.  "May you decide wisely."  He bowed his head.

The Gods got up and walked around him, each of them touching him somewhere.

"He'll need some information on the testing and specialties," Artemis noted.

"He'll need Gaia's guidance as well," Apollo agreed. "As do we all."

"Are we agreed?" Athena asked firmly.  "He is to be the God of Training?"  No one said anything.  "I ask again.  Does anyone dissent?"  She looked at Ares.

"I find him unsuitable," Hestia admitted.  "He has much skill at it but he has conflicts.  I believe he should take Bacchus' spot."

"I disagree," Athena said.  "He has hunted them, it's not fair to him to punish him that way for doing as Ares' commanded him to do."  She looked around.  "Do any others have protests?"

"I do," Ares admitted.  "He is a warrior born, bred, and trained."

"He is tired of war and fighting," Athena noted.  Why she was the boy's spokesgod when she didn't like him she didn't know but it seemed to happen.  "He has fought battles that were not his throughout his life. Battles you have sent him into knowing his self-healing skills are weak and untrained. Also, he has turned his back on the House of War for this treatment and for his ache from battles long gone that prevents him from finding happiness among the Pantheon."

"He could join the House of Love," Aphrodite offered.  "Be our Messenger."  Xander gave her a sideways look and she poked him.  "You could."

"I already had that job," he reminded her quietly.

"I still say he should have a job as our Guardian," Ares announced.

"You would cause irreparable harm to the Godling by that choice," a voice said, sounding tired.  Zeus walked into the chambers.  "Though I am not back, my input was called for.  Boy, come here."  Xander looked at him.  "I will not harm you.  You have my word."  He moved forward, letting him test him.  Zeus tested his powers, closing his eyes. He also installed a small kernel of himself in him.  He opened his eyes to find the boy armed and in his battle clothes in front of him.  "I would not harm you."

Xander took the kernel off his head and handed it back.  "No more am I open to the spirits.  That was Ares' doing and I have left the House of War for that reason, among others."  Athena and Aphrodite gasped, Hades moaned.  "I would not take your spirit with me, Lord Zeus.  It is not my duty to meddle in the affairs of Hades' Kingdom."

"Yet you demanded the return of Strife and Discord?" he sneered.

"As was my right to petition those Gods come back," he agreed.  "They were needed, their duties were being given to me, even though my own were wearing me out.  Hades heard my petition and my bribe and did what he thought best, as is his right in his own kingdom about his subjects.  I do not meddle in the affairs of other kingdoms."

Zeus sneered, stepping away from him.  "I will not allow your confirmation to go through."

"You have no say, Father, you're dead," Ares noted dryly.  "The running of Olympus falls upon my shoulders and the Council of Twelve.  We decide who goes where.  The same as we are reclaiming the lost powers tonight."  He looked at his son, seeing him.  The stiffness of his back.  The tenseness in his shoulders.  He wasn't comfortable with his sword. He could use it, he had made sure of it, but he had driven away his youngest son by treating him like he had Strife.  Xander wasn't Strife and it was now clear to him he wasn't Strife.  He looked at Strife, who quirked up an eyebrow and shifted some.  Ares sighed and looked at the Council. "Do we have any other options for positions?  House of Intellect?"

"He has never been one of mine," Athena assured him.

"Nor mine," Apollo agreed.  "Though he could be a bard if he could sing."

"His skills lie in defending and protecting the young and training them," Hestia said quietly.  "His conflicts are in how he sees himself, which was our job to fix for him.  We have failed one God, let him be the caution and the learning the others need so he can find himself among the new Gods and learn as he teaches."

Gaia came out of the shadows and walked past Zeus like she didn't see him or Xander.  She faced the children of her line.  "Xander is the God of Training.  I do confirm him as such for the Kingdom of the Mortals."

"The Kingdom of the Dead do confirm him as the God of Training," Hades agreed.

"As does the Kingdom of the Sea," Poseidon agreed gravely.  He looked at Hades.  "I petition that you strip those in your kingdom of their powers so that they can be returned and redistributed."

"I agree with that.  Gaia?"

"I agree it is necessary.  There are some horrible mistakes in marriages up here and it is quite distressing."

"Yes!" Aphrodite said happily.  "Xander."

"Not yet.  Not while he's near my students."

Ares moved over, taking the sword. "You are of all houses, not just your natal house, son," he said calmly.  "Begone, father.  Now."   He walked the boy back, leading him to the center of the circle.  They each touched him again, inputting the knowledge the boy would need from their fields.

Apollo looked at him, then pulled him closer to lay a hand on his chest.  "I will be seeing you tonight before the parties, Xander.  Just to set that stupid rib again."  He kissed him gently and backed off.  "Are we done?"

"We are.  I will reclaim the power tonight and then bring it back up to the next meeting," Hades said, bowing to them.  "With your leave?"

"Leave my daughter," Demeter demanded coolly.  "I wish to speak to her about things."

"Mother, my future child needs the influence of her natal house," Persephone said quietly, stroking her stomach.  "Congratulations."  She bowed to Ares.  "Hades and I are having a daughter.  A daughter under the House of Love I do believe."

Gaia touched her stomach.  "The Goddess of Dark Pleasures.  Well met, great-grandchild."  She nodded at Hades, smiling.  "Very strong, brother."

"Thank you, sister."  He walked her off, taking her back to their realm so he could recall Zeus officially and take his powers away from him.

Xander changed back, shaking out his hair.  "Are we done?"  Everyone nodded.  "Thank you all, I accept and will cherish and prosper in my new title," he said formally, backing out of the circle.  Asclepias captured him and set his rib, healing it while stood there.  "Ow," he moaned lightly.

"Tough.  Suck it up, Xander."  He got done and kissed him on the forehead.  "Good boy.  Now go celebrate with the nicer godlings."  He got a nod and the boy walked off, his students following him.  "Should we prepare for births, father?"

"We should," he agreed, leading his son off.  "Hermes, I'll be there in a few.  I wanna see the pants Tony put him in."  Hermes flew after him, going to check out the outfit too.

Ares groaned and shook his head.  "Anthony," he said quietly.  Tony appeared beside him.  "What were you thinking?"

"Pointing out that you're a bastard to him and he would've been happier not being the son of one of Bacchus' former priestesses.  Besides, he looked hot enough to make 'Dite growl and pounce Hephaestus, Ares.  Which was what she wanted.  Kate now appreciates him and she is blooded.  She'll understand him well.  She's like my sister and I know he'll treat her well."  He bowed. "Someone's got to look out for the boy, even though he's older than me."  He left, going back to the temple.  "Xander, put back on the pants.  Apollo wants to drool on you in them."

"I'm not going to the orgies," he called from the bedroom.

"We're going to work on the expansion," Strife agreed, coming out with a smirk.  "It worked.  Thank you."

"Hey, it got Kate thinking," he said smugly.  He shrugged and gave him his most innocent look.  "I like helping out Aphrodite.  She gives me good fun ideas."

"Not tonight she won't be," Gibbs told him.  He walked him off to talk to him.  They needed to clear the air about what the love goddess had said.

Xander looked at Abby, who was working on an idea.  "I don't need that many unless you're going to start having babies with Greg," he teased.

She snorted, looking at him. "Greg is like my bro, Xander. He's very close to me, like Tony is, but I couldn't sleep with him.  He's got a lover picked out at work and a crush on another one.  So let's not go there, okay?"  She smiled sweetly. "Ten rooms?"

"Too many," Kate told her.  "Even with just us.  With the way we're pairing off we might only need five."

"Five's good," Xander offered.  "Maybe a room to hang out in?"  Abby nodded, changing the plans she had been thinking up.

"Bathrooms, Abby, bathrooms," Kate reminded him.  "Joint baths are nice for relaxing and playing in, but you need your own bathroom."

"Oh, I just gave Hades one of my eggs so he could have his daughter," she announced, smiling at them. "You'll have another trainee in a few years."  She went to grab Tony and have him help her.  He was already a senior god since he was from an older line.

Xander came out of his bedroom at Strife's snickers of delight, looking around. "What happened, Abby?"

"You have an unholy maze upstairs," Strife laughed. "Hes made them apartments instead so apparently these yahoos of yours are stayin' here," he offered with a smirk.

"That's fine, I accept," Tony called.  "Kate, come pick out your rooms until you can pounce Xander and make him realize you're serious."

Xander looked at her, looking confused.  "Me?"  She nodded.  "But you didn't grope.  Greg groped."

She kissed him gently.  "I have self control, Xander.  I was going to wait until no one could see me groping you.  That's what good girls do."  She kissed him again and he deepened it, making her moan and clutch his shoulders.  "Damn," she said in awe.

"We'll make sure the baths work for you tomorrow, sis," Abby called happily, bouncing off with Greg.  There was a party with their name on it somewhere up here.

The trio from New York walked past, Danny giving Xander a nudge back into Kate's lips.  "So, why're we gonna go to the orgies anyway?" Danny asked as they walked out.

"I've never been ta one," Don told him.  "I always wanted ta sit and stare."

Danny grinned.  "I'm sure you do."  He looked at Mac.  "You?"

"I'm being drug against my better judgement."

"Which means you wanna watch me get him a few times first," Don teased, pinching him on the ass.  "It'll be a shame to leave this alone at work."

"Xander can teach us how to hide in plain sight in his office," Danny reminded him.

"True, he did with Stella.  Man, she's gonna nag," Don realized.  "Long and hard."

"No, that's me," Danny said with a grin, bouncing ahead to jump on Greg's back. "I need someone to dance with me later.  You up for it?"  Greg got free and grinned, putting him between him and Abby, which was a good place to be.

"Hey, he's our bed toy," Don complained.  "Give him back."

"Come get me," Danny teased, smirking at him. "Or just watch me."

Tony smirked at Kate, winking at her.  "Put him back in the leathers so you can practice your clothing skills."  He walked out with Gibbs.  "Are you sure you wanna hit the parties, Gibbs?  We weren't kidding about the orgies."

"I know.  We still need to talk, DiNozzo."

"You could call me Tony."

"You could call me Jethro," he shot back.

"No I can't.  I get _Beverly Hillbillies_ flashbacks."  He grinned at him.  "Sorry.  Pookie?"

"Not unless you want to be spanked."

"That could be fun," he admitted.

"Not the way I do it."

"Don't take my fantasies."  He kissed him then walked a bit ahead of him so he had to watch his ass.  "We'll see what happens when we're there."  He kissed Aphrodite on the cheek.  "He wants to talk."

She giggled and shook her head. "That' not what the party is for."  She led them to a small door.  "Duck in there and be private, boys.  It'll open when you're done."  Gibbs looked at her.  "It will, I promise."  He walked in and she shut the door.  "Once you're done having sex anyway."  She swayed off, going to find someone fun to play with her and Hephie.

Eric looked at Calleigh, and they split up to find someone to play and dance with.  Outside, Speed looked at Horatio.  "You wanna go to hers or Hermes?  I figure I'll go to the other one so she doesn't get her hopes up."

"I'll go to Hermes'," he decided, heading that way.  He smiled at the ladies coming near him.  "Hello."

"Ooh, one of the godlings," one of the muses said, clutching onto his arm.  "Are you taken, sweetie?"

"I like Eric's sister."

"Then we won't make you be too naughty," another purred.  "Just use you as... inspiration."  He smiled at her and they walked inside.  He saw someone that looked familiar, going that way.  "Ooh, Jett," she said, kissing him on the cheek.  He swatted her on the ass.  "This is Horatio.  Xander's training him.  He's one of Joxer's line."

"They seem to spread," he noted, nodding politely at him. "Yes, I'm your line's uncle."

"I thought you all died."

"No, I stole ambrosia."  He smirked and strolled off.  "Where's the celebrant?"

"Kate has him."  He shrugged and let himself be led off to the party.  It had been a while since he had let himself cut loose and really party.

Nick and Warrick went hunting together but Aphrodite stuck them in a room by themselves.  She knew what Xander was doing, it was giving her a buzz like she hadn't had in years.  She noted a bunch of the new ones were together and smiled.  They needed more females among them if so many of them were determined to be straight.  Or maybe....

Strife popped up and kissed her hard, looking at her.  "Don't think that.  Don't even think it unless you want me on the same buzz, 'Dite.  That's an evil thought and both of them would make ugly women."  He strolled off, going to warn Speedle about her plot.  He seemed pretty cool and like someone he could get along with.  He ran into the trio dancing and the duo watching their boy play and being together.  It was so cute!  He took a few pictures and moved on.  He found Speedle dancing with one of the Graces.  "We gotta talk," he said, nodding at her.  "Give me two.  'Dite's got a plan."  She shuddered.  He looked at him.  "You know the anti-magic shield he taught you?"  He nodded quickly.   "Use it, every day, until you marry.  Or else you or the redhead will be girls."  He clapped him on the back once the Grace had moaned again, letting him go as he walked off.

Speed called Horatio's cellphone. "It's me. Put up that anti-magic shield, man.  Aphrodite wants to make one of us a girl so her evil plans can take over."  He heard the choke and hung up, sure he had gotten the right idea.  He pulled the Grace closer, dancing with her again.  It was a good way to take his mind off losing his dick.

Back at the temple, Kate pushed Xander onto the bed, smirking down at him as she undid her shirt. "I'm not usually like this."

"I'm not shy but you can set the pace," he offered, sitting up to take off his shirt.  She caught his hands and pushed him back down.  "Sure, I can lay here," he promised, blinking at her. "As long as you want me to."  He watched her take off her shirt, letting his tongue come out to lick his lips.

She leaned down and kissed him, making him moan.  He tried to touch her back but she swatted him and stood back up, finishing her outer clothes.  Then she looked at him and took his shirt off him magically, making him shiver at the sudden breeze.  She smirked and got rid of his pants too, making him arch up at the sudden lack of pressure on himself.  "Good.  Now, let me play."

"Play?"  She nodded, getting down to play with her new toy.


Xander wobbled out the next morning, staring at the people in his throne room.  "What?" he asked weakly.  "She wanted to make it special for that first time."  He slumped down on his throne, looking at Gibbs. "She's still asleep."

"I saw.  You might wanna eat so we can get back to the training."  Xander just nodded and tried to move but it wasn't working.  He rolled his eyes and hauled him up, walking him back through the new door into the kitchen.  Danny and Abby had giggled when they had seen the pair curled together on top of the sheets and Tony had done the bit of remodeling with help from Don and Mac.  He sat Xander down at the table, watching him hiss.

Tony looked at him, handing him a plate of food.  "Was it bad?" he teased.

"Hell no," Xander said in awe.  "Not bad.  Very, very, very good."  His head fell forward and he started to snore.

"Boss, you think we can do something about that warrant?" Tony asked, handing him Xander's plate of food.

"I'll call Morrow and ask," he assured him.  "Sheppard won't have a clue."

"What if we take the statement?"

"We can't do that.  It's listed as eyes-only, you know what that means."  He went to find the land-line phone, or whatever passed for it, and called his former boss.  "Morrow, Gibbs.  No, I ran into someone recently named Xander Harris...."  He listened to the spluttering.  "I saw the 'keep for Pentagon' marking and I don't know why.  He's a nice, goofy kid who likes Kate.  Oh, did you hear a covert group found her body?  Apparently Ari shot her with a sedative and then switched it on the way back somehow.  I don't know.  It was a shock to us when Xander walked in with her, Morrow.  Yeah, they're together."  He smirked, that had put a kink in their plans.  "Well, I'd like to see her happy and back at work personally. He's making her happy and she said she wants to come back. I can't ask for much more at the moment.  No, I'm in Greece.  No, not a case.  Enforced training."

He smirked.  "I can't tell you that.  No, blindfolds and motion muffling padding.  I don't even know how I got here.  There's a phone and I've been working on my training, plus I've had free run of the house?" he suggested at the implication he was a hostage.  "No, the kid's here with Kate.  I don't know, maybe the same group who rescued her, Morrow.  Just let me know what I've got to do.  I'm not going to Jen with this," he snorted. "She got distressed when one of my CIs came up dressed like Aphrodite from that show and suggested I sleep with DiNozzo for her pleasure."  He nearly laughed at the renewed spluttering and choking.  "Exactly.  I don't know.  I think she's gone political instead of doing it for the job.  I just can't prove it to her.  Sure.  Let me know.  I've got my cell somewhere but the roaming will kill my bill this month.  Leave a message, I can check it from here.  Thanks."  He hung up and went to find Tony again.  "He's letting the right people know that Kate's alive and well and that Harris has been found and is with her.  I should hear something soon.  I told him to leave a voicemail."  Xander let out another snore so he smacked him across the head.  "Get up!" he ordered.

Xander sat up and blinked at him, then frowned.  "You don't have tits.  Wrong person."  He got up and padded back to bed, climbing back in on top of her.

Tony smirked at him.  "I like you without breasts personally, boss, and Warrick and Nick are still missing.  The others are still in bed.  It's going to be a few hours if you wanted to head over to Ares' temple and look in the armory again."  He moved closer and stole a kiss.  "I know how much you liked it last time," he whispered in his ear.  "I saw you."

"Were you spying on me?"

"You bet," he said with a smirk, walking him off and making sure the kitchen was safe so someone else could cook.


Greg and Horatio landed back in Vegas, right in Brass's office since he was in there already with the door closed.  "Where's Gris?"

"Behind you."  He smirked.  "You're a bit predictable, Sanders."

"Eh, shit happens."  He looked at his very stunned boss.  "As ordered, I brought Horatio with me, Gris.  He told me you two wanted to talk."

"How did you just appear?" he asked calmly.

"The same way I learned over the weekend?  I'm a baby God, Grissom, I can do things like that."  He realized Ecklie was outside and deafened him, taking the conversation from him.  He looked at Brass.  "Is it bad if Ecklie overhears?"

"Probably.  I've been thinking about bridges and ledges for him though.  He'll try to abuse you horribly, Greg."

"I realize that."  He undeafened him and sent him on his way, making him go play in his office. He looked at Grissom.  "He's playing with the budget and doesn't realize what he heard."  He smiled and created a soda, sipping it slowly through the straw.  "I saw Abby again.  The one from the conventions?  We palled around all weekend.  It was kinda nice."  He grinned at Horatio.  "And Eric brought you up."

"He did," he agreed.  He looked at Grissom.  "Like I said on the phone, Gil, I've been dealing with this for a while now.  You might want to talk to him about the offer he got from NCIS, DC, to be their newest lab tech and field tech in training with the next opening.  They offered Eric a really good salary too."  He looked at Jim again.  He had been mostly absent all weekend due to personal problems.  "I was told to have you call me so I can catch you up on that case."  Brass nodded.  "Whenever's convenient for you.  Xander has a list of the others and he's looking for them."

"That's fine.  Tonight good for you?"  Horatio shrugged.  "I'll see you then, Horatio.  Thanks."

"Not a problem.  I do the same with Eric.  He's got the worst time focusing recently. He's back to trying to make the perfect chocolate bar for Calleigh."  He shook his head and smiled at Gil again.  "You don't want to talk to him?"

"I do, but I'm not sure what to ask him."  He looked at Greg.  "You're a demigod?" Greg nodded.  "Of which parent?"

"Justice had a set of triplet sons named Joxer, Jett, and Jace.  One of us leaked stuff to the stupid show on tv," he offered at the opening mouth.  "Joxer's kids were of the most direct line.  He had six original kids and they lost touch after their parents' deaths.  So there's a ton of us.  About ten in my training group right now.  We're pretty chummy.  Abby's there," he said happily.  "She's so cute."  He pulled out a picture and showed her off.  "That's Abby."

"She is very cute," Brass agreed dryly, smirking at him.  "She's also very hyper and lives on caffeine.  I don't think I saw her eat the last time I saw her."

Greg smirked at him. "She ate something."

"Not appropriate at work, Greg," Grissom ordered, looking at him.  He handed back the picture.  "Are you moving to be with her?"

"Not yet.  We're talking about it but we've got time so we're doing the slow dating thing.  I haven't done much of that slow stuff and she wants to be wooed.  By the way, if the lady in pink shows up cooing about how cute I am, just nod and agree.  She's still got Nick and Warrick trapped in a closet because she thinks they're going to have sex."  He took another sip of his soda.  "Did you need more proof, boss?"

"No, Greg.  I don't.  I accept what you've said now."  Greg beamed.  "Do you use it on the job?"

"Only when I forget something.  Occasionally to make a 3-D drawing of a scene so I can look at it differently.  I don't use it to find killers and things if that's what you're asking.  I couldn't justify it in court.  I'm told that some day I may be able to find out who did what and use that knowledge to backtrack and find evidence if I'm really stuck but I'm not sure that's ethical and I can't do it yet.  I just learned how to make food and stuff.  Clothes too.  Abby likes me in leather," he offered with a grin.  "A whole lot."

"That's good, Greg.  How long do we have you for?"

"Until I keep getting the questions about who my plastic surgeon is.  Then we're doing a roulette switch and we're both going to Miami or New York while the guys there are going to switch to either here or the other cities since all three bosses know."  Grissom nodded at that, looking at Horatio, who nodded.

"We worked it out this weekend," he admitted.  "Since I'll still be in charge I'll take them in without question until I have to retire and by then someone else will know and it'll probably be one of them in charge.  That way we're around whenever we need to be and we don't have to give up the field for a few more decades."

"That's good.  Who would be coming here?"

"I don't know yet.  It depends on what they decide at that time.  Some of the Miami crew might move here or the New York crew might.  Maybe the other guy in NCIS would."  He shrugged.  "It happens."

"Fine.  Thank you for telling me, Greg.  I want to know first if you have to use your powers at all.  The show always showed them with glitter and flower pedals falling."

Greg looked around his feet, then at him.  "It's not necessary, it's drama and flash to show that you're powerful and to get attention.  Apollo always arrives in a bright glow.  'Dite in pedals and sparkles.  Cupid's kinda cute but he arrives in white and pink rose pedals.  'Dite's are red."  He shrugged. "I just appear, I don't need the attention."

"Fine.  Still, I'd like to know."  He looked at Horatio again.  "When was I going to be brought in?"

"We've been working with Brass," he admitted.  "Since Greg said you were so jumpy about the subject and you nearly made him cry."

"I did not."

"I said nearly, Greg," he reminded him.

"Yes, Horatio."  He took another drink of his soda and looked back at Brass, who shrugged and got a full cup of the *really* good coffee.

"Thanks, kid."

"Welcome, Brass."  He looked at Grissom again, refilling his coffeecup.  "I got to introduce the coffee'holic at NCIS to my special blend," he said proudly, leaving the office and going to the locker room to change.  He had spent too long kissing Abby.  He found Nick and Warrick not looking at each other and grinned.  "Long night, guys?  Griss is in with Horatio and Brass."

Nick looked at him. "You look too happy," he complained.

"Abby and I did a lot of talking," he said happily.  "And other things."  He grabbed his field case and put on his sneakers, then left them alone once he had his badge.  He walked away whistling, stopping in on Hodges.  He put the picture down in front of him.  "Abby.  She wants to meet you."

"Why?" he asked, pushing the picture away.  "Is she...special?"

"Yeah, she is," he admitted with a grin.  "And she likes you too, David.  So, dinner tonight?"

"You're dumping me by taking me to dinner with your girlfriend, who looks goth?"

Greg smirked.  "Who said anything about dumping?  She's a lot like me, David.  She likes you too.  We're going to talk about it tonight. It's going to be a while before Abby and I finally get together for real."

"You're waiting!"  He walked over and slammed the door, looking at Greg.  "That's dumb, Greg.  You don't know what could happen!  Someone could figure this out!"

"I know," he agreed, blocking the windows to kiss him.  "Like I said, she likes you too, David.  She likes what I like and I like you.  You'll like her.  She's just as geeky as us.  She *is* a crime lab by herself.  She's also a fed."  He took another drink then shared it with another kiss, making David moan and swallow.  "Dinner.  Right after shift, David."

"Some day you'll lose me."

"Unless we marry you, and then you'll be powerless but like us."  He grinned again.  "Dinner?"

"Dinner," he sighed. "Against my better judgement."

"David, if I didn't want you, you wouldn't be invited.  Abby can wield a mean strap-on.  I like you.  I like your sense of humor and who you are off duty.  By the way, she is goth but she's very sweet.  So we'll have dinner, we'll talk, she might jump you since she's hyper, but you'll enjoy it."

"You had sex with her?"

"No.  Well, oral sex and I'm of the Clinton school in that field."  He grinned again.  "She tastes good too."  David swallowed again, letting out a little moan.  "We'll figure it out at dinner.  Just relax and breathe.  You are what I need."

"Right now."

"We'll see about that thought.  I'll come pick you up.  We're going to be at my place."

"I should change."

"Why?  I can do that for you."  He winked.  "I did learn how to do that.  I won't even make it bows in strategic spots."  He walked out, taking his soda with him, leaving one flustered lover behind.

David sat down to consider his options.  He liked Greg, a lot, but this was just an odd situation.  His phone rang and he picked it up.  "Trace, Hodges."  He listened to the breathless voice on the other side, shivering at it.  "Let me guess, you're Abby?" he asked.  Her moan of assent made him hot.  "Should I worry about where Greg is?"  She laughed and assured him she was alone in her coffin, which made him chuckle.  "He said we're having dinner tonight."  Her addendum that she was having him for dinner that night made him wiggle on his stool.  "We'll see about that.  I'll meet you tonight, Abby."  She made sure he was going to be there.  "Greg's going to drive me over."  She moaned out a suggestion and he shivered, rolling his shoulders back.  "Maybe.  I'll see what he thinks.  Have fun with that project."  He hung up and headed for the bathroom.  He needed a quick break.


Horatio appeared in his office and put on his sunglasses, walking out once he had unlocked and opened the door.  He saw a few people gathered around Eric and headed that way, smiling at his sister.  "Hi."

"Hi."  She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "How was your weekend?"

"Good.  Very nice.  The celebration went off without a hitch and we split up to the various parties.  Yours?"

"Same old, same old.  A treatment with that new guy."  She glanced around then kissed him on the lips and he licked them, making him smile and relax.  "I don't know what that was he gave me but I feel so much better today."

"I can see that.  Would you like to go to lunch if I'm not busy on a scene?"

"I would but momma said to come smack Eric for not calling her Sunday."

"Sorry, Marisol, but I was hung over," he offered, coming over to kiss her on the cheek.  "Apple shampoo?"

"No, the medicine treatment I took today had an apple flavor."  She smiled at him.  "I'm going to lunch with Horatio.  Would you like to come?"

"No, I'm good with eating here," he admitted with a shy grin.  "You have fun with Horatio and be good.   I'll call momma later."  She nodded, smiling at Horatio before she walked off.  "Golden apples?" he asked quietly.  He knew they could cure nearly everything.  Cancer he wasn't sure about but maybe it could help at least a little bit more.

"Yeah," he agreed, looking happy.  "I'm hoping it cured more," he said quietly.

"It could have.  She seems healthier today."  He punched him on the arm. "I will hurt you terribly if you ever hurt her.  You know that."  He nodded.  "Good.  Calleigh's in her lab, locked in there giggling."

"I wondered why we were having a staff meeting in the halls."

"McGee.  The guy who works with Tony."

"He sounded nice, what little I heard about him."  He headed that way, tapping and using a touch of power to unlock the door.  He leaned in. "No work?" he asked dryly.

"Of course I have work.  I was just chatting with Tim, who works with Tony.  He's a card.  He had me on webcam when he saw Kate.  He blushed, then got up and tripped in his cords until he managed to get up and ran over to hug her.  It's just so sweet how he missed her."  She smiled gently.  "Horatio, I don't know what I'm doing."

"I know, Calleigh.  You'll figure it out.  We all will.  Me and Marisol.  Eric and his lady.  Greg and Abby."  She giggled again at that, then looked at the camera.  "He back?"  She nodded and waved him closer so he took off his sunglasses and came around.  "Young man, I will expect my ballistics tech to work sometime today and I know Jethro will expect it from you," he pointed out.

She hit him on the chest.  "Quit, Horatio.  Tim, this is my boss, Horatio.  We spent the weekend bugging Jethro about Abby and a friend of hers from a few conventions, Greg."

"She broke that news to me this morning," he offered with a sad smile.  "You look tanned."

"I'm in Miami, Tim, we're all tanned down here, even the goth chicks."  He smiled at that.  "Call me tonight, Tim.  Let me get back to work before Gibbs growls at you again."  She saw Tony come into view and waved. "Hi, Tony."

"Hi, Calleigh.  Everything okay?"

"Oh, yeah, I'm just talking with Tim.  How's Xander?"

"Not here.  Gibbs took him to talk to whoever once Kate was settled in.  We'll let you get back to work. You behave like the lady you are."

"Hardly," she snorted, shaking her head. "That would take all the fun out of it and no one would be shocked when I belched."  She grinned at Tim.  "Tonight, Tim."   She wiggled her fingers and hung up, looking at him.  "Gods, Horatio, it's like 'Dite hit me already."

He patted her on the back. "It can be that way.  Now all we have to do is fix Speed up."  He grinned and walked out, heading to find something to do until a case came in.


Xander looked at the people on the list Aphrodite had given him, drawing lines and adding a few names before handing it back.

"Who are these people, sweetie?"

"Their present ones.  Well, Calleigh's got a really big crush on Tim.  So work on Speed, 'Dite."

"Fine," she sighed, looking at the list.  She looked at him.  "A trio with Greg, Abby, and David Hodges?"  He nodded.  "Why?"

"He was Greg's, Abby likes him, they agreed after she pounced David and made him beg and plead to be included between them.   I think it's sweet."  He smirked. "Tony said you owe him ten bucks that he couldn't get Nick and Warrick going together."

"Fine."  She sighed and slumped a bit, looking at him.  "I don't know who to put Speed with.  He's such a special guy."

"Personal opinion?  Strife?  When are we doing the prayer?"

"Next month, during the memorial celebration of the officers lost in the line of duty.  They're all to head to DC and make it there.  It should work, if not, we'll nudge a few others in the crowd to cry for Justice to be reborn."  She stood up.  "Strife, you really think so?"  He nodded.  "Why?"

"Speed likes it hard, fast, and rough.  He's also very possessive and protective.  Which Strife needs, and Speed needs to play more.  Besides, Strife could use the sun."  He smirked at him.  "Cupid would never understand him, either of them.  They need someone special to understand and soothe them.  Try it, see if it works."

"Okay, I will."  She shook her head, going back to her temple to check on that match.  What she saw amused her.  It would be a fiery match, but one that would make her hot enough to drool.  She summoned Strife, noticing his sheepish look.  "I saw what you did in my lab, it's not about that."  He calmed down and moved closer so she pointed at the mirror.  "What do you think about that?"

"I think he's still straight," he offered, giving her a hug.  "I'm not a girl.  Ma would kill 'im so don't even try."

"Poo.  Xander had such a good idea and you'd look so hot, Strifey."

He kissed her on the temple. "No.  Find him a nice chick, someone he can be macho around. That's what he wants.  Sorta."

"I don't know any female yous except Abby!"  She slumped and gave him puppy eyes.  "At least try it?  Once?  He might like it."

"He might but I like the softer sex too most'a the time," he reminded her.

She squealed and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you, pookie.  If you need any help with date ideas, just let me know."

Strife shook his head, heading down to bug his buddy.  They were friends and friends warned you about things like this.  He coughed and brought him away from the scene to talk to him.  "Man, you're in deep.  'Dite suggested *us*," he said quietly.

"I'd rather have breasts, brains, and bravado who likes to have fun."

"Yeah, me too.  Hey, I do know someone," he offered, grinning at him. "She could even use a vacation.  Let me arrange it, I'll letcha ya know."  He disappeared with a small cackle while Speed shuddered and went back to work.

"Someone suggested me and him," he told Horatio.

"Better him than me," he noted dryly.

"Gee, thanks, H, really," he said sarcastically.  "Just stick up for my right to be straight."

Eric looked at him. "There's a woman out there for you somewhere."

"Yeah, he thinks he found one and he's sending her down somehow.  I'm not sure I shouldn't be scared."

"Be very scared," Eric agreed happily.


Calleigh sat down next to Speed with a sigh.  "Tim's wary of dating.  He's one of those nice boys."

"Yeah, the one I got set up with was too."  He looked at her.  "Scary, but too nice for me.  Her bouts of naughtiness would get me into trouble."  She smiled at that.  "Have you realized who Eric's dating?" he asked quietly.  She nodded and sighed.  "She's not as pretty as you are."

"Keep it up and you're buying me dinner tonight."

"Hagen Daas or Ben and Jerry's?" he teased.

"Ben and Jerry's."  She looked at him and he looked at her.  "We should try."

"Probably," he agreed.  "I'm still not giving up my bike."

"Can I finally go for a ride?"  He nodded.  "Then we're fine."  She smiled at him. "Tim's going to find a nice secretary who wants to be there to be his backrubber and editor since he wants to be a writer.  I told him to today."

"Hey, it was fun while it lasted," he reminded her.  "He made you giggle again."

"I haven't done much of that since you got shot," she complained, patting his arm.  "I missed you."

"I missed you too. I heard all you guys talking about me and moping around.  I wanted to kick your asses for it," he assured her.  She smiled at that, ducking her head.  "We'll figure it out, Cal."

"We will, Tim."  He snorted and shook his head. "I can call you that."

"If I hear one comparison, you're being spanked."

"Oooh, okay."

Horatio backtracked to look in the door of the break room.  "I didn't hear that and I won't hear it again at the office," he reminded them.  "Especially with IAD floating around somewhere."

"Is it wrong to wish him harm?" she asked.

"No, I do it all the time, I just don't do it out loud or make it happen."  He walked off, smiling at the cute couple.  He ran into Alexx, who looked really pissed.  "What's happened?"

"Stetler just accused me of botching an autopsy!" she said hotly.  "I damn near did one on him, Horatio.  I want that man the hell outta my office before he ends up in a drawer!"

"Sure."  He walked that way considering the ethical implication of what he wanted to do as opposed to what he should do. Then he decided that protecting Alexx and their secrets were for the greater good.  He walked in and froze him, staring at him.  "Rick, you just upset Alexx horribly," he said dryly, moving closer so he could shut the door.  He closed the diary.  "Now, that's not nice.  Alexx is one of the nicest and dearest people in this precinct.  She gives enough of a damn about us that we heal after the bad cases."  The man tried to make a noise.  "No, I'm not going to kill you.  The thought has occurred to me, but I'm not like that.  No matter what you think."  An idea hit him and he looked up.  "Thanks," he whispered.  "Good idea."  He looked at him.  "Instead, you're going to have to learn not to mess in things that don't concern you."  He moved closer and touched his forefinger to the other man's head, making him forget everything about him and his team.  He released him and watched him slump down.  He frisked him for his ID, badge, gun, and all that.  "Alexx, he collapsed, call someone," he yelled.  She ran in to check him and call someone at the same time.  "I took his weapon in case it's a seizure or something.  I don't know what's happening."

"What did you do?" she said, staring him down.

"Made him forget but I think I went too deeply."  He frowned.  "Sorry, Rick."

She giggled.  "Good job, Horatio.  Really."  The paramedics ran in.  "He was reading my personal journal on my computer and collapsed when Horatio came in to yell at him," she told them, getting out of the way.  "Horatio took his badge and weapon so he couldn't seize and hurt himself or us."  They nodded, getting him ready for transport.  "His name's Stetler, Rick Stetler, IAD."

"Yes, Doctor Woods," one said, strapping him down tightly.  "Did he say anything first, Lieutenant Caine?"

"No, he gave me this horrified look before passing out.  I do know he's been acting oddly lately.  Hunted almost, like he's been skulking in the shadows and eavesdropping again.  Then again, he is Internal Affairs."

"Be nice," she ordered, pinching him.  "I haven't seen any evidence of seizures but his weapon will be with Detective Tripp.  You can tell him that when and if he wakes up."  They nodded, taking him away.  She looked at him. "You are so bad."

"Hey, I'm still new," he muttered, smirking just a bit before walking out. He hadn't hurt him and he was sure Rick was going to be happier now that he wasn't filled with lust and rage for his brother.  He took the gun and badge to Tripp, who just gave him one of those 'oh, no, what happened' looks.  "Stetler accused Alexx of botching autopsies on purpose."  He and Yelina both groaned at that.  "I went in to confront him on her behalf. He gave me this horrified look since he was reading her private journal on her computer and then he passed out.  I took them off him before he could seize or something."  He handed them to the detective.  "They took him to the hospital just now and she made sure they knew to tell him you had them."

"Thanks, Horatio, really," he said dryly.  He put them into his desk drawer and locked it then stood up.  "What really happened?" he muttered quietly in his ear.

"He forgot."  He looked at him.  "I think I went too deeply but he forgot," he whispered back.

"Ah.  Good.  Any other news?" he asked, sitting down again, looking at him.

"Yeah, Speed's agreed to finally take Calleigh for a ride on his bike," he said with a happy smile.  "Apparently the Tim from DC was just a bit too nice and easy going.  I heard her say he'd find a nice secretary."  Yelina snickered at that.  "He is a very nice man," he told her.  "Jethro said he's got a self-esteem problem and he's just learning about investigation techniques, but he said he'd make a good agent some day."  The phone rang and he knew it was for him.  "Caine," he answered.  "Jethro, I was just talking about you.  What's wrong?"  He listened to the rant.  "Yeah, I just had a slip too.  Time to go back to the practicing.  Yeah, that's good.  No, I'm working with Jim this week but you can help.  Thanks, man."  He hung up.  "Jethro just about blew someone up."  He stood up again.  "I'm going to go back to make my team work again.  Have fun."  They both smiled and he walked off happier than he had been.  He had only made Rick forget his fundamental identity and past; Jethro had nearly blown up the building until Tony had stepped in.  "Emotional control," he mused.  "It can be hard in this line of work."



They all gathered for the remembrance ceremony, making their own style of prayers for Justice to wake up.  He noticed Mac was looking up and looked up too, seeing the haze going on around them.  He nudged Speed and glanced up.  Then he went back to praying harder.  He felt something snap and suddenly a sense of peace came over him, with the words that he needed to hear.  He nodded and looked around, spotting the person with the canister.  "Gas!  Down!" he shouted.  Most of them dropped and a few others looked where he looked, pulling their weapons too.  The kid tried to take off running but Abby pounced him and beat the shit out of him before Tony could pull her off.  The peaceful feeling came back and the FBI came to help.  They were all evacuated and checked over, but everyone was fine since they had been outside.

Xander walked up to them later since all the teams were gathered together to eat.  He sat down, looking at them. "Congratulations.  A lot of people called upon him since so many hadn't been resolved and their killers found," he said quietly.  "He's back.  Your lives will be easier in many ways."  That got a lot of smiles and a few people looked confused.  "Non- knowing?" he asked Mac since most of them seemed to be his and a few people from Vegas.

"I couldn't figure out how to tell 'em," he admitted.

Don slapped his hand on the table, drawing attention, and he left a glowing ball of energy.  "For those of us who've been acting odd, that's why."  He ate another bite of his burger.

"You too?" Stella demanded.  "That's not fair.  Why didn't you tell me!"

"I did," Mac reminded her.

"She started giving me funny looks so I made her forget it," Don told him.

"Oh, okay."

"I did that to Stetler.  He can't remember anything now," Horatio admitted. "I just wanted him to forget my team."

Xander looked at him.  "Nice work, Horatio.  Psyche might be able to bring some of it back."

"He's happier now.  He's actually enjoying his life.  Leave him," Eric told him, grinning at the shocked people from Vegas.  "Greg never told you?"

"I knew," David muttered, eating a bite of his food.  He looked at Abby, who just winked at him, then played with his leg.  He coughed and had to drink really quickly.  "Abby," he complained.  "Not in public."

"No one can see and no one'll care but Gibbs."  She stuck her tongue out at him.  "This is David, the other third."

McGee waved.  "Hi.  You'll be good to her or I'm going to find out how to kill you and Greg both.  Then I'll practice it repeatedly on your corpses.  Understood?"  David nodded quickly and Greg just smirked at him.  "Good."

One of the guys from New York touched the ball of energy, noticing it rolled.  He picked it up to look at it closer.  "What is this?"

"Energy," Xander said, smiling at him. "Danny's energy by the color."  He looked at Don.  "Siphoning?"

"I got hit with a blast earlier," he admitted dryly.  "Hand it back to Danny so he can have it back."  It was handed down to those who still looked clueless so they could play with it until Danny snatched it from the last one, reabsorbing it.  "Sorry."

"No you're not, but you're gonna be later when you have ta watch from the other room."

"Boys," Mac complained. "Not at the table. We don't combine those topics, remember?"

Stella stared at him, mouth open.  "Really?" she asked finally, reaching over to slap him.  "Which one?"

"Both," Danny said, nudging her.  "He's nice ta us.  Drop it, Stella."


"Hey, it's not like you had a chance anyway," Don reminded her.  She glared at him and he grinned.  "I've seen scarier.  You wanna talk scary woman?  Aphrodite without chocolate for a week, wearing a face mask to clean her skin, and in flannel jammies."

Xander shuddered. "Don't remind me, please," he begged.  Kate patted him gently, stroking down his arm.  He looked at her. "You protected me at least."

"I did," she reminded him. "I probably always will, even though you're damn scary on a battlefield."  She stole a quick kiss.  "Behave, Xander."

"I try most of the time," he teased.

She winked at him.  "Good boys get rewarded."

"Good point," he agreed happily.  He looked at the laughing Tony and Gibbs.  "She does reward me very well when I'm a good boy."

"I bet she does," Tony agreed.

Gibbs looked at Danny since he was closest.  "Smack him for that thought."  Danny smacked him.  "Thank you."  He looked at Xander.  "Now what?"

"You do what you're doing.  If you want formal jobs when you graduate the second level, you ask.  You move on with your lives.  Let's face it, you already serve Justice."

"We do," Horatio agreed dryly.  "Every day of our lives, even tonight."

"Yeah, he was a bit stupid," Xander agreed. "Don't worry, it was enough.  You'll start to see jail sentences being fairer and things like that slowly spreading.  By the time you retire, the world should be back at a more sane pace."  Mac smiled and relaxed.  "We good?"  They nodded.  "Good.  You wanna take this back to the main base for another weekend of training?"

"We'd have to keep the rest here," Horatio noted.

"Not really, we'd just have to keep them in the temple.  Besides, the scary love gods want to meet a few of the mates."  He looked at David.  "Before it can be officially recognized and you given something to put you on a closer to even keel with them."  David shivered.  "That way they don't lose you."

"I'll think about it," David said.

Greg kissed him, making him moan and go limp.  "You will.  I'm not losing you, and neither is Abby.  Got me here?"  David smiled and nodded.  "Why is it that sometimes I have to say it for you to believe I mean it?"

"I'm a guy who doesn't believe in fairy tales."

"Fine, I won't turn you into a pumpkin then," Abby said. "I agree, David.  If you're offered it, you're taking it even if I have to run it through a catheter I insert without anesthesia. We agreed?"  He smiled and nodded. "Good."  She smiled and kissed him. "Now be a good boy and I'll reward you later too."  She looked at Xander. "Do you have enough rooms?"  He nodded.  "Then we're all coming."

"Sure.  Pack it up and head there.  Calleigh and Tony will have to move anyone not affiliated or mated with you."  He got up and walked off, smiling at a waitress.

"I saw that," Kate called.

"Need a paddle?" Abby asked.

"No, I have a much more effective way of making sure he doesn't flirt," she said smugly.  "Wearing him out works wonders."  She looked at the table, raising her beer. "To Justice."

"To Justice," they all agreed, taking a drink.  It was a nice feeling to have someone finally on their side.

The End.