Xander faced off with the admittance panel, nodding at them politely. "You had questions?" he asked.
"Why this program?"
"Because I think I can do a lot of good using my experiences to help others who need it."
"What sort of experience do you have?" one asked him. "Your background is a bit cloudy."
"That's because there's someone hunting for me that I'd rather not encourage to find me, sir. I've been hunted by others and I know what it's like." He froze the board, nodding at him since he stayed. "You know oft he Council?"
"I do. You're Harris then." He nodded. "This is your idea of hiding?"
"No, this is my idea of a new life," he said honestly. "After college I'll head somewhere else to work until they find me there then I'll move on."
"Why are they hunting you?" another asked. Apparently others knew the Council as well.
"Because my friend screwed up something major and it hurt me, making them think I'm going to change sides. The Council isn't a bunch of happy people. They're very mercenary in their ideals at times." He unfroze the rest of them. "I think the experiences I have helping others already will help me a lot here and it's just one way I can help others."
"Yet you don't want to go into the field?" one asked him. She glanced at her watch then at him. "That was a long blink, sorry."
"Not a problem, ma'am. No, I don't. I think I can be of more use petting the weapons that we have to take away from those who shouldn't have them. I wouldn't mind being a backup field person but I don't want to be the main field person. If I can be of help to any of the field guys, all they'd have to do is ask."
"I see. You tested out of some of the beginning classes?" Xander nodded. "Usually we see military people who do that."
"I had some military people who did some quiet training of me so I could protect myself."
"A group of assholes out of Great Britain," he admitted. "They'd like to see me dead and their supporters aren't much different."
"Oh, I see." She considered it. "Could that endanger your lab?"
"Ma'am, with all due respect, I changed my identity to get away from them. As soon as I'm taken into a lab, I'll be letting my boss know about the threat so he's warned if they suddenly show up for me and I have to hide and/or run from them for a bit. I've already started to work on safety contingency plans in case they show up. For now, I need to do my college courses so I can get a good job. I refuse to work fast food forever and it'd be easier to find me. The training I already have fits in well with the training you'll give me and the new training will help me not only protect myself but others."
"You know you'll have to go to the academy for most positions?" one asked.
Xander nodded. "That's not a problem for me. I'm in pretty good shape." He grinned. "Being stalked does that for you."
"I'm sure it does. You're very open about it."
"Sir, if I thought any of you were reporting back to them, I'd never have said a word. I do know most officers and people in various governments around the world hate these people. I can gladly join their ranks."
"What's more important to you if it comes down to a case where someone new will die or them getting you?" the one who knew asked.
Xander considered it. "I'm hoping I'm good enough to hide myself but finish that case before I leave. If not, I'd definitely have someone told what I know and can prove and then watch them while avoiding the hunt team. I'm good enough for that. I've avoided them for years."
"Is this why your background seems a bit flimsy?" the female member asked.
"It is. I can tell you I did graduate the standard US high school on the west coast. Including our graduation test that we have to pass to walk. I can tell you that I was working construction after that and some fast food jobs before then." They nodded. "I can tell you I'm originally from California, but I also know that they have hacker who're looking for certain facts to come into the open somewhere. That's why I volunteered to take the placement tests and to CLEP out of some classes."
"Which was wise of you," the female agreed. "How much do you already know about weapons?"
"Quite a lot. The ones who trained me made sure I had a good handle on most things weapony. Handguns especially but I also know a lot about esoteric and ancient weapons. Swords, axes, crossbows. That won't be put anywhere because it could lead them back to me, but I have worked with someone who had a good sized collection that I helped maintain. I'm actually a crack shot with a crossbow or a handgun."
"Very interesting," she decided. "What happens if they show up while you're here?"
"I picked a larger school so I could get lost if I had to, but if it's absolutely imperative that I leave, I'll transfer to another program. At that time, my old teachers would know the new name I'd be going by so they could talk to my new ones and give them warnings like I'm bouncy on chocolate." That got a smile from two of the five members. "All I'm asking for is to try, ma'am. I want to help others. I really do. I simply need to be a bit cautious about who I really am while doing that. I'd be a fireman but that takes a special brand of heroic insanity to run into a burning building with an explosive-capable tank on your back. I don't think I have that sort of special insanity. Lesser versions but not that one."
"That's a good way of putting it," one of them agreed. He looked at the others. "It's clear you have potential. How likely is it that they'll find you within a few years?"
"I'll finish here, go somewhere else far away to work, and probably be there at least three to five years before they find me hopefully. I've muddied my backtrail very well so far."
They nodded. "Then we'll accept you and hope that you have the time you need to complete your studies plus you can find a very understanding boss."
Xander grinned. "I have a short list based on what I've heard around." They all smiled back. "Thank you, ma'am and sirs." He nodded and left, going to get happy in the halls. The other candidates glared at him. He just smiled, going to have a beer. Drinking still calmed down a lot of the memories so he had a quieter head for a night. If he was lucky he might even get to pick up a hooker. Even if half the voices were complaining that they were female.
Bobby met the boys at the sanctuary house Xander had set up, with his knowledge and permission. He wasn't going to go behind the boy's back. "Boys."
"Sorry it took us so long. Kinda had a gas shortage on the way here. No stations," Dean offered as he got out, coming over to look at the door. "Any funky ritual?"
"I've got my half of the security code and our necklace," Sam said, walking over. Bobby held up his. "Which of the codes goes first?"
"Don't know yet." They put their pendants on the door, watching as it opened. Beside it was the standard keypad. It had two buttons with their names on it. Sam put in his then pushed his button. It didn't take it so he pushed his button then put in the code. Bobby did the same for his. It let them wander around the house, shutting the door behind them.
The ghost came down to stare at them. "Who're you?" she asked.
"I'm Sam, this is my brother Dean, and this is Bobby," Sam introduced.
"He said you might show up. Don't banish me. I'm part of the protections. I agreed so I wouldn't have to deal with my family in the afterlife." She floated off again.
"Sounds reasonable to me," Bobby agreed. "Figure John's probably bitching and moaning somewhere." Dean nodded and Sam just snickered. They looked in the rooms. The first was a nice, normal looking living room. Next came the huge library that was clearly magical since the house wasn't as tall as it was inside. "Maybe he went to that world with the booknerd him and got some of his spares?" Bobby guessed.
Dean went to look at the nearest shelf. "Not really. This one's nearly mythical," he said, waving it. "Magic book." Bobby groaned, coming closer to look them over. Xander had a very good collection going. Magic books, theory, other subjects as diverse as philosophy and literature to hard sciences. "Textbooks?" he said with a point.
"He's in school," Bobby said quietly. "Somewhere east of my place."
"Chicago," Sam told him. That got a nod and they moved on. The kitchen was nicely appropriated for the seventies. "Can he cook?"
"He wasn't sure. A few of those lives he was poisonous and one he was nearly a gourmet," Bobby admitted. That got a nod and they kept looking. They found rooms upstairs with their names on them. Nice looking bedrooms for them to stay in. Dean found the armory and the garage next to each other, letting out a moan so loud Sam looked around for the nude Playboy Bunny he had seen. Bobby swatted him for it. "Car or guns?" he called.
"Both, and I'm *so* willing to go on my back to pet them."
"He's not here so I doubt he'd mind," Bobby said, following his voice to where he was. He moaned too. The boy had an armory in case of armageddon and it's little sister showing up, plus the ATF raiding. He checked, there were survival supplies too. He opened a case, letting Dean see it was empty.
"This one's full," Sam said in awe. "I've only seen these in movies."
"Does that mean the empty ones he's got with him?" Dean asked.
"Possibly," Bobby admitted. "Or he had to use them." They looked over the gun, sword, and artillery collection, getting very happy with it. There was a closet with a sign that said it was hunter's supplies. Inside was rock salt, shells with rock salt, silver bullets, all sorts of holy water containers. Things they'd need to hunt something down. "He did good," Bobby decided. They went to check out the attic, finding the ghost again. She huffed and floated off again. "Just looking, ma'am. You can have it." He headed back downstairs, going back to the library. "Well, I know where I'll be if I ever need a book." He found the paranormal section, looking it over. "Some of these are mythical and lost to time. How did he..." He groaned. "Yup, he probably did to set all this up in a day or so."
"Probably," Dean agreed. He opened up a hidden bookcase door he spotted, finding the safe. "Sammy, come use your code here?" Sam did since it had a button with his name on it. Bobby got his half put in and the safe's door opened, making them blink at the money and gems. "Damn!" Dean said in awe. "We inherit this if he dies?"
"Probably," Bobby agreed. He stopped Dean from picking up any. "You don't know if he's cursed any of them."
Sam called Xander's current cellphone. "Dean wants to pet the pretty stuff in the hidden vault in the library. You mind?" He grinned. "Looking over the library. Did you mind?" He beamed. "He said to go ahead, Dean. Don't touch any of the boxed red stones. Oh, Bobby he said you can have the one in the blue box. Thanks, Xavier. Yeah, we're cool. Thanks, man. Send emails more often." He grinned. "Good for you. Are you remembering to eat?" He groaned and said he'd go do that, hanging up. "He's not but he's going to eat soon."
"Probably a good idea." He found the blue box and looked inside, frowning at the blood colored stone with red highlights. "What type of stone are you?"
Dean looked at the box since there was a label on the bottom. "Philosopher's... really?" He took it to close and look at the instructions printed.
Bobby snatched it. "Give me that. It's mine." He read it, eyes going wide. "How in the hell did he do that?"
"No idea," Sam admitted. He tossed Dean some of the shiny stuff and money. "Here, cop a feel." Dean sat down to do that. "Think it'd work?"
"I think so since inside the box is a small vial with EoL on it." They shared a look and Bobby went to the small lab he had set up to test it. Sam closed the vault and let Dean play with the shiny stuff all he wanted. Not like they had ever seen bundles of money or uncut gems before.
"God damn this works!" Bobby shouted a bit later.
Dean looked up from his counting money. "Really?" he called. He got up to look, finding a cut Bobby had put on his arm healing quickly. "Hey, that's handy to have."
"I'll make you boys a few vials in case." He looked at them. "We really can't tell about any of this."
"Never would anyway," Dean admitted. He went back to the library. Sam had his nose in a book. "We staying the night?"
"Probably should since there's a good storm coming," he agreed absently. "You done with the money?"
"Nope. I'm still trying to figure out how many strippers I could tip with this."
Sam lowered the book to look at him. "Is that all you ever think about?"
"No, not always. Hunting evil bitches and food come right after it," he offered with a happy grin.
Sam shook his head, going back to reading. Bobby came in and helped Dean clean up his neat little mess. "Is there food or should we run out before the thunderstorm hits, Bobby?"
"There's supplies." Dean went to cook dinner for them, letting the ghost watch over his shoulder and correct his technique, but they were pushy that way. He looked at Sam. "Anything good in that one?"
"One I didn't get to finish in class." He grinned at him. "Dean was counting stripper's g-strings."
"I'm sure he was. For that money he could buy himself a wife instead. It'd be easier."
"Can you suggest that?" Sam asked with an evil grin. "Just so we can see the look on his face?"
"I can do that." He waited until Dean walked in with grilled cheese and soup. "Dean, you going to use some of that to buy a mail order wife finally? Since no American woman would put up with you?"
"Hell no!" he snorted, giving him an odd look. "I can rent instead of buying. It's cheaper and I don't have to put up with more than my sister Sammy nagging me."
"I'm sure there's a book in here that can make you see I'm not a girl," Sam offered casually. Dean stomped off.
Bobby looked and pointed. "There. I know that one's got a gender switching spell. He confiscated them from Rosenburg. They were in his car so I got to look through them." Sam gave him an evil, wicked smirk. "He'll fuss and call your daddy back from wherever he is now, Samuel. I wouldn't try it."
"Pity." He went back to reading, reaching over to get his bowl and sandwiches. "Thanks for making dinner, Deanella."
"Bitch, I'll beat your ass," Dean said as he came back in.
"I'm sure you will, jerk, but that's all right. Some day I'll have nieces and nephews even if I do have to use that gender spell Rosenburg created."
"You do that and I'll make sure you *never* sit again," Dean said coolly. Sam just grinned. "I mean it, Sammy."
"Uh-huh. Then I'd give me some sometime. That way I have someone to spoil. Huh?" He went back to reading and eating. He was talented that way.
"Calm down, Dean. If he did that, John would come back to life to beat his ass for you."
"He'd have to stand in line." He sat down with his own dinner, eating quickly. "Think he's listening in?"
"Maybe," Sam agreed. "But he knows I need someone to fuss over sometimes. Get sick again, Dean. Please?"
Bobby laughed. "Behave, boys. Really." He dug into his own dinner once he had a book to read through. Xander even had a very liberal lending policy so he was happy being a research nerd today.
"Mr. Elmore, nice to have you awake and with us again," the teacher said loudly when Xander shook himself from his thoughts.
"I was awake, Professor. I was thinking." He looked at him. "I didn't think we were going over anything else."
"What were you thinking about?"
"Wondering if you added the right hydrocarbons to lead in a liquid state, then cooled it to a solid state after burning off the impurities if you'd have true gold or not. I found a great book suggesting that you could do it and it looked reasonable enough but I don't have the advanced chemistry to try it yet." He gave him a look. "I was also thinking about the guy who offered me artillery petting time yesterday and trying to figure out if he had the authority to do that."
"Is he military?" the teacher asked.
"Then no, he doesn't, and you should turn him in because it's illegal to own." He stared at him. "Why do you think this was appropriate thoughts for class time, Mr. Elmore?"
"Because class ended twenty minutes ago?" he guessed. The professor looked at his watch and groaned, releasing them. He shrugged. "I waited."
"Fine. You really should turn them in." He kept the boy from moving from his seat. "If the government finds out about him he would be in a lot of trouble, Xavier."
Xander nodded. "I know that but he's not American."
"He's a foreign national?" he demanded. "That's even worse!"
"He's British. Not like they're going to attack us."
"Not Irish and possibly IRA or anything like that?" the teacher pressed.
"No, he and his research group are up by Stonehenge. Though he did invite me to their Leed's warehouse and training facility to look over what they have. They wanted me as a future ballistics tech."
"You should turn them in."
Xander shrugged. "I'm a student. Who'd believe me?" He gathered his books. "If you want to, go ahead. His name's Travers. His father runs the group of paranormal research nerds who have armageddon planned for."
"I see." He took down that information. "Any idea where by Stonehenge? I know there's a military base there."
"Nope. I know they picked it for the mystical site it is." He shrugged. "They research vampires and fairies and things."
"Uh-huh. Then they really don't need those sort of weapons or a tech of your future skills, Xavier. Go to your next class and I'll have a quiet word with someone about them. Thank you." Xander grinned and nodded, leaving to go to chemistry once he had a soda. He had some time to walk that far. The professor went to his office to get his jacket and then across the campus to catch a cab so he could see a former student who was now a federal agent. "Do you have a few minutes?" he asked when he came to the desk to get him. "One of my present students got offered some artillery petting time by a British national."
"Who studies vampires and fairies according to him."
"Even creepier. Sure, Professor, I can take that information and look into it." He led him back to his office so they could talk. He definitely didn't want people like that in *his* city or country.
Xander watched that night as the BBC news they showed on the local PBS station showed the Watchers Council being raided for weapons. He toasted the tv with his mug of cocoa, then grinned and went back to his internet surfing. That chemistry idea for alchemy worked pretty well. The gold bar next to him got another pet. He'd have to test it to make sure it was pure gold and then figure out what to do with it. He decided to go back to the college to do that after watching them walk Travers out in handcuffs, nearly dragging him to the paddywagon full of watchers who were in trouble with the government. He was so happy he could almost dance and kiss a girl. The voices complained and reminded him guys were better for him, less evil and trying to kill him. He told them to shut up, he liked breasts. One took over and sent him to a local gay bar, helping him hit on someone so they could show him now nice it was. Xander didn't get back to the lab until ten the next morning and he was grinning a silly grin. Even if he did still like breasts.
Bobby choked, watching the news going on. "That's nearly evil of him."
"It protects him better," Ellen said from the end of the bar. "Are they Watchers?"
"Yup. That's their main building." He grinned. "The Brits have tougher gun laws. They're in deep when they find their apocalypse supplies."
"Hopefully they have it hidden by magic."
"Probably not. They're too arrogant to do that." They smirked at each other and called a few friends to share the good news. They'd be leaving the hunters alone for a good, long time now. Xander's plan had been a good one.
Xander faced down his chemistry professor, blinking his eyes at him. "Why is there a problem with the test I was running?"
"I was wanting to know why you were testing a chunk of gold, Mr. Elmore. It's illegal to own chunk gold in the US."
"I found it." He held up the chunk that he had been found with. "I wanted to make sure that's what it was before I took it to a pawn shop."
"Where did you *find* it?" he asked dryly.
"Okay, well, I made it," he admitted. The teacher sneered. "It's not hard." He walked over to the table. "Give me a piece of lead please?" He started what he needed and showed him what he had done. The lead turned in the melted stage once it was purified and the solution added, then he poured it into a mold to cool off. "See? I was testing to see how pure it was."
"How did you figure that out?" the teacher asked calmly. Xander pointed at the book. "I see." He took it to look at, then at him. "This uses a different purifying solution."
"It was written before 1900, I figured they didn't have all the chemicals back then and this one was nicer. That's what I was testing, to see how well it purified it."
"I do not want you to do this again," he ordered quietly. "It's illegal to own chunk gold."
"Yes, Professor. I'm sorry. Can I still take these two chunks to the pawn shop if I can turn them from chunks? Maybe into a pressed chain or something?" He considered it. "It'd help pay for my tuition."
"Fine. Do not do it again and write down the recipe." Xander wrote it down for him, letting him have it and the book. He'd be trying it later of course. Something like this would get him internationally known and famous!
Xander melted the gold down to reform into something better for shipping to Dean, Sam, and Bobby as presents. Not like he needed the money. Small gold balls would be nicer of him he decided. They had that mold there for working with lead during the hand-packed bullets lectures. It was easy enough to use with the crucible burner.
Sam looked at the package that landed between them on the car's seat, picking it up to look at the card. "Xander."
"We don't know anyone else who'd send us presents magically. It's not my birthday so what did he send?"
"A copy of a book and some small... gold balls," he said, holding one up to look at. Dean pulled over suddenly, turning to look at them. "The book is on alchemy. It's got a handwritten formula in the front."
"Oh, man!" Dean said, picking it up to look at. "Think they're real?"
"Yeah, I do." He pulled out the folded paper underneath it with the test results. "Twenty-two carat."
"That's ...wow. That's a present. Think they'd fit in our shotgun shells if we had to?"
"Probably or we could use them as jewelry. Say an ex melted necklaces or something on us." Dean beamed and nodded, putting them in the glove box. "The note on the bottom of the test result said that Bobby got his own set too."
"I'm sure he's happily petting them."
"Probably," Sam agreed. Dean turned up the music and drove off happier. He had been sulky earlier about the spirit getting him into a wall to knock him out. Now, Dean was a happy boy. Xander had a great effect on him.
Six weeks later, the watchers managed to finally get back together. Those on bail had to sneak around to this meeting but the rest weren't sneering at the moment. Travers sat down last and called the meeting to order. "We have got to find a way to take that boy out before he causes more harm."
"I asked the ones he still keeps in contact with," Wesley said from his spot. He had been drugged, put on a plane, shipped back, and brought in wearing cuffs. "They said if you had left the boy alone, he wouldn't have acted against us." He shifted some, getting comfortable. "He's paranoid about his safety. Of course he's reacting to take the threat out of his life, Travers."
"Who asked you?" he demanded.
"I'd assume you did since you had me kidnaped."
Travers looked at his second-in-command. "You did?"
"He has information on the boy."
"I also have reports from the hunters who watched over him and helped him get back onto firm mental footing. I have a nice, glowing letter from Ethan Rayne how the boy came to him for help and offered something nice for it. Xander has put up a place of sanctuary for himself. He's no threat to normal people or to us unless we don't leave him alone," Wesley said more firmly. "You had that stupid team go after the hunters that helped him heal after his best friend turned on him. Of course he reacted to protect them. They're the only ones he trusts anymore."
"I don't care. He's still a danger. There's no telling what sort of taint he got given," Travers sneered.
Wesley opened the file that had been magiced to him earlier. "According to the life histories he did of the ones he saw when Miss Rosenburg did the spell against his will, the only tainted body was a Sividia she turned him into. The only effects he carries from that are the wings, which do react to holy water and holy objects but don't set off Miss Summer's slayer instincts as something tainted or any telling spells the hunters could come up with magically." He looked up.
"In a few he had magic, in one he had an extreme hormone condition that made him attractive to every demon and human alive. The hunters he sheltered with did say that his magic was now active. They had taught him how to shield himself. Ethan Rayne's analysis of what sorts of magic he can do did include demonic magic but not Sividia type of magic." He tossed that report down. "He sent it at Xander's urging because the boy knew you'd panic and cause a problem for him. Right now all he wants to do is hide and finish healing himself. He's cut all ties to Sunnydale and his old life."
Travers looked the record over. "We can trust this Rayne chap?"
"He's the high priest to Janus, a former friend and now nemesis of Rupert's," Wesley offered. "That Halloween thing was his doing." Travers shuddered because he had seen that report. "The boy gave him a good incentive to help him set up a sanctuary. Probably some knowledge from the other realms or something. They set up a totally hidden, nearly inaccessible residence for the boy with teaching materials so he can learn how not to bollix things up like Rosenburg did. He let those hunters that helped him in there to look around. It's well set up for self-defense and has a large library of research texts." He cleared his throat. "I work with his ex-girlfriend. One who's known him since grade school, Travers. Even she said the boy's only reacting to the threat we're putting toward him. If we leave him alone, he's more than willing to lay low and finish healing himself. She said he's told her it's like his other possessions at the moment."
"He kept them?" another watcher asked.
"From both that we know about," Wesley agreed. "Halloween gave him the memories of a soldier. The other was a primal spirit, a hyena, that a careless sorcerer was trying to attempt during a school trip."
"What other lives did he see?" Travers demanded.
He shoved the records down. It wasn't the full record by any means. He knew it had been altered. He knew the hunters who had sheltered Xander and knew they wouldn't let the full account get into their hands. "One of your own tested him in Mexico right afterward when he went to drink himself into a stupor while asking those hunters to make sure he wasn't a threat. And yes, that bone is demonic, not human. I had Angel's contacts check it for him. It's Mohra demon." He leaned back.
Travers read over the records, then passed them on. "This hormone condition?"
Wesley shrugged. "I doubt he can manifest it here. That would screw up his body chemistry greatly. That's why that life was so cloudy-minded and drew so many demons to him. Xander's fallen back to self-defense instead of city and world defense with the slayers. Not that I blame him. I would've flamed Rosenburg into charcoal for doing that against my will."
"Who said he didn't ask?" one asked him.
"Even Rosenburg herself admitted that he and Miss Summers refused to do the spell with her," another told him. "She did it anyway, not realizing it would draw them in because she was thinking about them. Which points to shoddy magical education."
"She stole books and Rupert never could keep her out of them," Wesley told them. "When he called for help, you lot shoved him off about it. Considering she had just stuck a soul back in a vampire, I think that's probably being shown as the wrong decision." He looked at Travers again. "That wasn't the first spell she messed up. We all know that." They all nodded. "Thankfully we don't have to deal with the one where she turned him into an infant."
"That would be cute," one said with an evil smirk.
"Yes, but then someone would have to watch over him," Wesley pointed out. "He is a demon magnet and chaos magic is drawn to him. Which would expose untold thousands of people to it the first time a demon went into the school to play with him because he was bored." They all shuddered at that. "I can contact those hunters and have them ask Xander for a truce as long as you're willing to honor it. They're keeping a firm eye on him from a distance to make sure he's still not a danger to others. I've been told he talks to the older hunter who took charge of him every week and the others routinely."
"He still acted against the council," Travers said.
"Because you acted against him," Wesley agreed calmly. "How bloody arrogant of you to punish the boy for being a victim. Do you often burn rape victims as well?" He stood up and released the cuffs, handing them over. "I'd leave the boy alone. After all, that was mild and a warning I'm sure. If he can really pull up the talents of those other lives, do you want to force him to start thinking about what they can do and see if he can use it offensively? He was the one who took off a vampire's head with a rubber wire." He took the folder back and walked off. On the way he called Bobby's house. "I tried. They're stubborn and won't listen."
Travers looked around. "Now that the woose is out of the way, anyone have any constructive ideas? The boy could be dangerous."
"Actually, I think if we left him alone and simply watched him it might make him relax," one said. "That way we could pick him up when he's less paranoid and less apt to react badly to us." Travers glared at him. "Doing so now would make him react magically most likely. Using skills he doesn't understand or know how to harness. It's entirely possible he could cause an apocalypse that way. If we give him some time to calm down, perhaps he won't struggle too much. He'll realize how futile it is and how he'll never be fully healed. He might even come to us to have us help him since those sort of hunters don't really act all that often with witches helping."
"Frankly, a few of those lives scared some of us," another agreed. "If he's pushed and he pulls up those sividia skills, then we're all doomed, Travers. I've watched that group when they were first together. The girls would push Harris and he'd out-stubborn them and push back until they gave in. Many times. I wouldn't put it past him to heal actually. He's known to be a bit odd. No one else keeps full memories and skills from a primal possession by a hyena spirit. No one else almost got turned into a merman and then detoxed either. That boy did and I'm sure we can figure things out. After all, even the time he got diseased by some spirits wasn't normal."
Travers leaned back considering that, tapping his chin with his joined fingertips. "We need something there to react swiftly if he does start to use magic or anything else that could constitute a threat."
"We can't find him," one pointed out. "He's changed his identity. Rayne's letter said that he changed his outward magical signature as well. No tracking spells work on him. We have no idea if he's still even in the US."
"Rosenburg could find him," Travers pointed out. "They were close. I'm sure she has blood or something of his. Get it and bring her to me. I've got an idea of how to handle him." They nodded, going to do that. The witches in Devon weren't pleased but they let her go to see him. "Miss Rosenburg. We are faced with a quandary," he told her. She shrugged. "Your reckless actions have led to your best friend becoming a threat to the world. He's gone into hiding to start whatever nefarious plan he's plotting."
She snorted. "Xander's not like that. The only plans he'd have are self-defense against you guys."
"So Wesley said but we do doubt that. We have plans to put a single watcher on him. That way they could act if they find he's going dark."
She shook her head. "Have fun with that."
"We need whatever of his that you have. He's managed to shield himself. Which is proof to many of us that he's already gone dark and is now threatening everyone."
She shook her head, standing up again. "No he's not."
"We don't know that."
"I know Xander."
"This has changed him. He's not working anywhere. We're not sure if he's changed his name or not."
"You tried to hunt him down like a rabid dog and he's not more than a fluffy puppy with some obedience training." He tossed over the letter from Ethan Rayne. She read it then scowled. "He went to Ethan?"
"Which is a clear sign that he's going dark," he agreed.
"I'm still not helping you. You want him that bad, find him yourself."
"No, you'll find him for us and do the spell to set a magical watcher on him or you'll be in one of the cells we have before daybreak for endangering the world, young lady. Then you'll be before a tribunal by dinner so you can have your last meal tomorrow night," he said coolly.
"Go for it."
"Your magic is bound."
She shook her head. "No it's not. I removed that long ago." He glared. She smirked back. "Remember, Xander's the nice one." She walked out calling Buffy. "Travers is an idiot and he wants me to hunt down Xander for him. He threatened to have me killed, Buffy. No, I'm not." She hung up and looked up then sent a spell winging into the night on a prayer to the goddess. She might've screwed up mightily this time but she would protect Xander any way she could.
She felt something latch onto the spell and the 'watcher' that Travers wanted done was attached to it. She growled and changed the spell while they were working it. "No way you're doing that, buddy. Ain't no way. There will be justice this time even if it does kill me. Tara's already disappointed enough in me." She let the spell finish once she had modified it then smirked. "Let's see them deal with that." She found her escort. "Let's go. They just threatened to kill me if I wouldn't help them hunt Xander down even though he's not dangerous and he's shown he's not dangerous."
"He talked with that Rayne person," she said primly.
Willow snorted. "Yeah, to help him set up a sanctuary where he could finish healing. Protected from the assholes like them who want to hurt him just because I screwed up." She disappeared, making the other witch gasp. She reappeared in their room. "Pack, Tara. I've had enough of the uptight bitch patrol here." Tara scowled. "I don't care. They still want to hunt Xander down even though he's not doing harm. If I have to go protect him by myself I will." She nodded, moving to pack their things. Willow heard the other witches coming and packed them magically, grabbing their cat, their bags, and her girlfriend to leave with her right then. They landed in the Magic Box. "No way am I going to risk you to their stupid thinking," she said quietly. "They'd kill us both." She took a quick kiss, handing over the cat. "Xander's in the midwest."
"You going will lead them there," Buffy reminded her.
"I forgot about that." She looked at her. "I did manage to get their spell warped so it couldn't hurt him if it wasn't just." Buffy smiled and Tara beamed at her for that. "There's no way Xander's going to go evil. Even in the ones where he went dark he never went evil." She looked around. "Giles?"
"Getting tea. They've already called. That's why he's getting tea." Giles walked in. "See, with tea in hand."
"Eww, tea," Willow said with a shudder. "I've seen enough of tea."
"You shouldn't be back here yet."
"Travers threatened to kill me for not helping him destroy Xander and the witches were going to back him up on that. Sorry, not happening."
Giles looked at her. "Then I would voluntarily bind yourself, Willow. Defensive magic only." She nodded, going to do that with Tara's help. "Any idea if she brought Wesley back as well?"
"No. I can get him if you want before I do this," Willow offered.
"Let me call him first." He called. "Wesley, Willow and Tara have returned. Do you need saved as well?" He smiled. "That's better then. Yes, we'll see you soon." He hung up. "He's having dinner with his sister. So far he's all right."
Xander looked out his window at the feeling of magic going off outside. He frowned, grabbing something and heading down there. He saw the older man, who looked very pissed. "Candy bar?" he asked, holding one out. "Traveling like that can make your blood sugar drop." The guy pulled a gun on him but hesitated. "Which one of the brilliant bitches of the universe sent you at me?"
"Who are you?"
"Now, Xavier Elmore." He moved closer. "Formerly Xander Harris, out of Sunnydale," he said quietly, staring at him. He moved against the gun. "You were sent to kill me because my best friend is a witch who screwed up majorly and I kept the memories and skills when her spell exposed me to other versions of me across the realms."
"The only one who's done that went insane."
"I don't know if she is or not. I know the witches tried to provoke me into doing bad things to take me out. I know the Watchers Council is doing the same thing by hunting me down. I know one of them sent you. So if you're going to shoot me, shoot me."
"For some reason I can't."
"Come upstairs. We can figure out what they did wrong. What's your name anyway?" Though he knew, a few voices were merrily cackling in the back of his head about this turn of events.
"Your sons and Bobby helped me heal and made sure I wasn't going to go dark and evil." John flinched at that. "So they pulled you back and sicced you on me. Not nice of them. I should turn them into the government again." He nodded. "C'mon. There's coffee upstairs and we can see if they did anything wrong. Plus you can call them. I have them on speed dial in case I start to slip." John grimaced but followed him. He waved at his neighbor.
"Someone sent my uncle to watch over me. They think I'll get into trouble," he said with a grin. The older woman closed the door and left them alone. Xander let them into his place, watching as John stepped over his warding line. "Coffee's in the kitchen. Phone too. Magic stuff is behind the kitchen so we can check. Hit the potty first if you want." He moved to call Bobby himself at the scowl. "Bobby, I have a small issue. No, someone pulled the boys' father back to kill me." He handed over the phone.
"Bobby?" He listened to the ranting. "The Watchers I think. It was a male power that yanked me. Yeah, there I was." He looked at the boy. "What is going on?" He listened to the short report, nodding some. "Okay. Can he test me for taint and things?" Xander nodded. Bobby agreed with him. "Is he safe? For some reason I can't shoot him even though it seems like the voice in my head is screaming at me to."
"I love compulsion spells," Xander said dryly. "So do they." He went to get him a cup of coffee and then set up to do a telling spell on him. He came out to find him off the phone and drinking the coffee on the couch. "C'mon, we'll make sure they didn't botch it." John followed him, letting him see the large mirror on the wall. "So you can tell taint and other things yourself. I'll cast it and step out of the way unless I have to remove something. I've been studying since she woke whatever gifts I had up." That got a nod so he lit the candles and did the spell for him, letting John look at himself. "Hmm. Pulled from heaven. Wrongness right there," he said with a point.
"That's a bad thing," John said. Xander came closer to do something and it faded. "How did you do that?"
"One of the other selves I saw the same witch had turned into a sividia. One of hell's generals," he said with a slight grin. "I only kept the wings and the magic knowledge, John. As long as they're gone, I don't react to anything holy."
"Bobby said that."
"I wrote Sam and Dean an email to come get me so I could be watched over. That way no one had to worry about me being an apocalypse in the making," Xander said quietly. "I was familiar with them from some of the other lives I saw. They took me to Bobby's barn and let me stay there while I calmed down from the insanity spike that was making me drink. Bobby helped me sort out the voices so they're like shoulder angels who nag about me being het now and then." John gave him an odd look. "For some reason, most of them were gay. The rest were bi."
"How were you familiar with them?"
"In the one where she changed me into a sividia, I was mated to Sam because of his taint. It protected both of us and we held Sunnydale as a refuge for peaceful demons. I had pulled you and Dean back from hell to help me clean out the hunters," he said, staring at him. "In another I was mentoring them with their new found hormone conditions and slight case of immortality. In another I was with Dean," he finished quietly. "I knew they'd be fair. They'd warn me if I was starting near the line and if I exploded, Dean could handle it if Bobby couldn't or I was too out of it to realize it and do it myself."
"That's a reasonable precaution but hell on my son's soul."
"Better that than me sneezing and accidentally destroying a state, right? Because I'm fairly powerful now."
"Then it's very reasonable. Define powerful." Xander did the same telling spell on himself and dropped his shields, making John flinch away. "Hell."
Xander reshielded and canceled the spells. "Only in that one but I was turned against my will and still doing good." He gave him a look. "I'm trying to study. There's a spare room in case one of them wanted to drop by and check on me. They're the only ones outside of you who know where I am."
"That's understandable, kid."
"Xavier then." He followed him back to get more coffee, thinking about it. "Then why pull me back?"
"Because the Watchers decided I'm bad and you hunted bad things," he said bluntly. "You couldn't be associated with them if you were caught. The other hunters wouldn't say a thing to you about it. It'd keep their hands clean."
"I guess." He sat down, watching the boy go back to his textbooks. "What're you studying?"
"Chemistry. We have a new teacher after I helped the last one leave the field. He was brewing drugs and I didn't want that endangering anyone." He looked over. "I'm studying to be a ballistics tech. I was in a few of those other places. I love guns. I'll still get to help people. I can be safe in a lab but still playing with guns." That got a nod. "Plus it'll help me if they catch me later."
"They might give up."
"No they won't. They'll never give up. They want to study how I did it more than take me out in case I might be a bad guy in disguise. Actually, you being here means that I've got another morality monitor. With that 'justice' spell on you, it'll mean you'll still end up going for a shotgun if I suddenly slip into starting down Willow's path but it'd mean I'd have someone I could bounce ideas off of." He looked at him again. "You could be like a favorite uncle who'd kick my ass for dating the next time." He grinned. "Or you could call your boys. I'm sure they want to hear from you."
"How are you affording this?"
Xander grinned. "I've got mad skills suddenly, John. One of my other selves was a cursebreaker."
"Aren't you worried someone will hear you?"
"I shielded the apartment. The lady next door is nice but if she hears anything I'd be shocked. If so," he shrugged. "We'll handle it." That got a nod. He could see the itch starting to go after him. "Calm down. Not that way." He went back to his studying. "I've got a sanctuary set up. It's got my research library and all that stuff. Sam and Bobby have the joint passkeys needed to get in and the security code."
"Not a bad idea."
"It's where I stored stuff."
"Ah." He nodded, getting up to grab the phone. "You sure you don't mind?"
"I made gold yesterday. Go ahead," he said with a wave of his hand.
"How?" he demanded. He'd ignore that his voice seemed to squeak there for a second.
Xander grinned. "I used chemistry. Just like I taught that teacher how to." They shared a look and Xander grinned brighter. "Plus I went tomb raiding." He went back to his textbook. "Dean's phone is speed dial two, Bobby's one, and Sam's five since the pizza places are three and four. I'm not sure if I can cook or not. In a few I was poisonous and in one I was nearly a chef." He frowned then let it clear up. "I'm sticking with simple things at the moment so I don't have to poison myself."
"We can test that later." He dialed Dean's phone. "Son." He winced at the squeal of the brakes. "I know it's a shock. Please don't wreck the Impala, Dean." He came out to sit down again. "I'm with Xander, you're right. The Watchers did so they'd have a convenient hunter here." He looked at the boy. "Chemistry." He smiled. "Yes he is. You turned them in for weapons?"
"Yuppers. Had fun watching the Brits arrest them too. They were not happy with the Leeds training facility and apocalypse vault." Xander gave him a smug look. Then he went back to studying. "Hey, Dean, get the present?" he called.
John nodded. "He said thank you. They're very pretty." Xander just grinned and took a sip of his coffee. "How are you two? Where is Sammy?" He listened to him. "That's good to know. Yeah, that's what they did." He listened to his son put down the phone and get out of the car to swear, the get back in a minute later. "You feel better now?" he asked dryly. He laughed. "I'm sure he will too. Yes, I'm sitting here looking at him, son. Because someone created a clause on the compulsion that it had to be just." He laughed. "I know. All boys are like that now and then," he assured him. "Even you, Dean." He relaxed. "That's good to know. Sure, pop up when you're nearby. Go ahead and tell him. No, Xander made sure to end the wrongness I came back with. Thank you, Dean." He hung up and leaned his head back. "My wife has got to still be screaming about this."
Xander looked at him. "I can set up a seance tomorrow but after I have my chem test please?"
"Of course. You study." Xander laid down to read that way instead. John went to scrounge food. He was hungry, which wasn't surprising since he hadn't eaten in years. Not that he needed to eat before but of course his body was telling him it was time for food.
"Thanks, kid." He got the extra deli sandwich out and sat down to nibble, finding a local newspaper so he could catch himself up with the world as it stood today. He'd have mental fits about all this stuff once the boy was in bed so he couldn't see him have the mini-breakdown. He wasn't sure what to do about this situation yet but it was clear something was rotten in the ones that pulled him back.
Bobby hung up and started to swear. Ellen gave him a patient look. "The stupid watchers called John back to take the boy out." She shuddered.
Willow appeared, tapping him on the shoulder. "I put a justice clause. The compulsion won't work as long as it's not just." Bobby turned to look at her. "I've learned my lesson. They tried to threaten to kill me if I didn't take him out for them. I knew they were going to do something so I slipped it in when they called him back." Bobby shuddered. "I also felt Xander fix the wrongness he came back with so he's whole and that compulsion isn't being acted on yet. I knew Xander wasn't dark." She smiled a little bit. "Thank you for helping him when I goofed."
"You've goofed too many times," he told her. "By now hunters should be trying to burn you, Rosenburg."
"That's her?" Ellen demanded.
Willow nodded. "I got my ass kicked in Devon by the witches there," she told him. "They threatened to kill me and my girlfriend because somehow I pulled them in when I was only meaning to do it to myself. No one could tell me how I did it either. I don't know how I did it and I'm bound from ever trying that hard of magic again. The only hard spell I can do is to close the hellmouth if it opens again." She moved back a little bit because he was still glaring. "Thank you for doing what I couldn't, Mr. Singer. Xander's important to a lot of us and I know I so royally screwed up there's no excuse." She disappeared again.
"Think she'll like ash or oak for her pole to be burned on?" Ellen said dryly.
"I think she's beating herself up and she didn't know how she did it. No one's taught that girl a damn thing." He finished his beer. "Been doing some checking through the boy and others that way. She stole books. The watcher wasn't able to keep up with her training thanks to it being the hellmouth. It warped her. Then she got turned onto an addiction to black magic." She gave him another beer. "They tried, Ellen. They have no idea how to handle it. The watcher there hasn't used magic in years." She shuddered. "He turned to chaos magic to rebel in his youth. She's just lost. Has no sense either. She's the poster child for why covens look for powerful kids around them."
"How did they miss her?"
"The hellmouth probably shielded her or she came into it late in her teens. You know some of the covens don't check anyone but young girls. We've seen a few good male witches over the years that got missed and did the same thing."
"Never that badly."
"She had people who tried to correct her when she went bad." He took a drink, shaking his head. "This isn't going to make anyone happy but I think she should be tied to it as a guardian. She can close the stupid hole by herself. She clearly needs something to take care of so she can fuss over it. That'd limit her magic and her effectiveness in other places and against other things. It'd help us a hell of a lot when that slayer there dies." She nodded at that. "I can suggest it to them." A blonde girl appeared, tapping him hesitantly. He looked at her. "You'd be Tara. I saw your picture in his wallet."
"Pl..ppllease don't hurt her," she stuttered. "She t..tries so hard sometimes."
"You get that girl of yours to tie herself as a guardian of that hellmouth there, Tara. It'll save her and it'll keep her from causing more problems. Next time she gets a wild hair up her ass it'll smack her down." Tara nodded at that, looking down. "You probably couldn't have stopped her," he said more gently.
"I tr..tried," she admitted quietly.
He tipped her face up. "You cannot stop someone set on a course without a gun or a sedative dart, girl. She went around you and the others to do it even when you told her not to and that there'd be problems. That's her stubbornness and not yours. No matter what the witches arm of the watchers said. You're her girlfriend, not her keeper. She needs a leash but you can't get one for another person. There's free will for a reason and all a witch needs is to be able to think."
She shivered. "Thank you."
He smiled. "If they told you it was your fault, they need kicked," Ellen told her. "You calm down, young lady. It's not your fault when your girlfriend screws up. You can only take responsibility for yourself."
She nodded. "Can she?" she asked quietly.
"The book she'll need is Provensa," Bobby said. "If you can't find it, let me know and I'll find one somewhere." She gave him an impulsive hug then left. Bobby took another drink, shaking his head. "They've nearly ruined her soul blaming her for not being a leash holder."
"Another black mark against them," Ellen agreed. She sighed and took a drink. "Provensa?"
"Yeah. That has the rite and the information she'll need. It'll do her good." Dean stomped in and took his beer to drink. "Thirsty?" he asked dryly.
"I heard that."
"Willow warped the compulsion on him to make sure he could only kill Xander if there's a reason."
"Heard that from her," he said. Dean gave him a look. "The boy had him call me to verify what was going on. Rosenburg was here to tell me about the justice clause."
"Thank you for telling me."
"That's something he'd have to. It's not my place, Dean." He clapped him on the arm. "They tried to blame her girlfriend for not stopping her."
"How much is airfare to England?"
"More than you probably have since you'd need a passport," he said dryly, taking his beer back. "Where's Sammy?"
"Car. I knocked him out when he started to angst." He sat down. "Now what?"
"He's with the boy. He's going to be there for a while probably. Xander could still use someone to point out when he's going toward the line. Now and then he gets an idea. Like turning in the idiots for having weapons."
"That was sweet to watch," Dean agreed happily. Ellen gave him a beer. "Thanks, Ellen." He took a long drink. "Now what?"
"Now? Now we can go that way to check on them or not. Or we can draw him to another area to talk to him so we don't draw attention to the boy." Xander appeared with John then left, still reading his book. "That's handy."
"He'll come back for me tomorrow." He sat down, looking at Ellen. Bobby splashed him with holy water from his flask. "Thanks. I know we had to make sure." He wiped his face off. "Was one of those other lives as a concubine? He had a demon who delivered him dinner and tried to take a kiss before he shoved him away."
"He had a hormone condition there that drew everything," Dean agreed. "Us too."
"Wonderful." He took his son's beer to gulp.
"So that's where he gets it from," Bobby said dryly.
"Huh?" John asked.
"Nothing." John shrugged and finished the beer. "You good?"
"That boy scares me."
"Them too. That's why they called you back to end him," Bobby reminded him.
"He said he did alchemy. Used chemistry to do it and got a teacher to go away with it." Dean pulled out one of the small gold balls, letting him see it. "That's pretty."
"He said he found the teacher making drugs on the side so he found a way for him to go be happy somewhere else in a way that would keep attention on him. No more drug making after that."
"Probably true." He handed it back. "It pure?"
"Twenty-two carat." He put it back into his pocket. Ellen's mouth snapped shut. "He got it from one of the other selves he saw, Ellen." He looked at his father. "Are you good?"
"I'm fine, I think. The boy seems a bit lost. Are we sure he's fully sane?"
"He said they're loud like his former possessions but they're not as pushy unless he's trying to date," Dean said with a small grin. "Apparently they're all gay and want him to be too. He told me one of them took over and walked him into a gaybar to get him laid one night."
"I didn't hear that. They can take him over?" Bobby asked.
"He's not sure if he's not in a bit of contact with those other selves, still," Dean admitted. "But yeah, he said the one with the hormone problems took him over, walked him to a gaybar, and got him laid so much he was smiling the next morning. So he's officially bi but not looking forward to trying to make a boyfriend or girlfriend settle down with him." Dean got another beer handed to him by Ellen. "Sammy's in the car, Dad. He was angsting like a teenage girl so I thoughtfully gave him a nap," he said before taking a drink.
"It'd be mean to go wake him up," John said. "He'll see me tomorrow." He looked at his son, then at Bobby. "Is anything like my truck still around?"
"Yeah, I've got the truck and whatever you left in it," Bobby admitted. John smiled at him for that. "The boy could use someone who would watch over him. He was a hunter and his rep said that things came for him like they used to come for Sammy."
"Apparently they still do since one of the demons came to make him eat," John said.
"Yeah, he gets stuck in his thoughts while working on stuff and forgets a lot," Dean admitted. "He's lost another ten pounds since he left Bobby's I'm sure."
Bobby nodded. "Looked like it when he appeared."
"He said he's not sure if the poisonous curse he had in a few of those other hims came through or the one where he was nearly a chef did so he's keeping it at ordering often," John told them. He considered it. The boy did have need of someone to watch over him. With that stupid compulsion he'd have to do it anyway. "Can we remove the compulsion?"
"I figure if he didn't, he had a reason," Bobby admitted. "He's very worried he's going to snap some day, John. That's why he sent for Sammy and Dean to come get him from Mexico and his drinking. He told me if he started to slip to make sure of it."
John nodded. "I might be able to work that out then. At least be nearby most of the time." He looked over as the door opened, nodding at his son.
Sam stopped then gaped. "How?" he squeaked.
"Real manly there, Sammy," Dean said dryly.
"The watchers, son. Dean, quit. It's a shock. Or else you wouldn't have gotten out of the car to swear." He got up, walking over to his son to hug him. "I missed you."
"Dad." He looked at him. "You're fully back? No wrongness or anything?"
"He removed it. The watchers brought me back to take out Xander." Sam moaned, shaking his head.
"Rosenburg laid a justice clause on the compulsion," Bobby told him. "She popped here to tell us."
"So he's okay?"
"He's fine and studying for a chemistry test tomorrow," John told him. Sam smiled at that, heading over to the bar to take Dean's beer.
"Hey! Get your own!"
"Shut up, you stole mine," Bobby reminded him. John laughed, patting his sons on the head. Sam finished that beer and got another one. "Sit down before you fall over, Sammy."
"Fine." He looked at his father. "Now what?"
"Bobby thinks that the boy could use me closer."
Xander appeared, looking at him. "I told you it'd be a good idea. That way I had someone who could remind me to do the little things like kill the demons that kidnap me so I can't study." He handed over the demon's heart. "That thing was disgusting and wanted me to be a girl." He looked at Ellen, waving slightly. "Can I go back to my studying now? I'm trying to do good!"
"Go," Dean ordered. "Make us proud."
Xander grinned. "I don't think we're dating in this life, Dean." He disappeared.
Sam cackled at his father's look. "Eat something!" he yelled, looking up.
"Yes, Sam!" floated back down. With a few gray feathers. "Damn wings." Then the voice faded.
"Anyone need some sividia feathers for some spell components?" he called to the other hunters.
"Who was that?" one demanded. They had watched the whole drama go on so they could figure out which Winchester to shoot since all three were now back together.
Dean turned to look at them. "You guys heard Rosenburg screwed the pooch by doing the cross-realms or whatever viewing spell to see other versions of yourself?" Most everyone nodded. "She accidentally, somehow...."
"She didn't know how," Bobby told him.
"Yeah. I suggested she lock herself to the hellmouth as the guardian. It'd be safer for her and give her a chance to atone and get right with the powers." He finished his current beer. "Anyway," he said, turning around. "She pulled her best friends into it too." They shuddered. "Somehow, we're not sure how, none of them went fully insane. The slayer's using those views to see where she went wrong in those lives with her friends.
"Rosenburg is sorry as hell; that was the redhead who appeared earlier. Her girlfriend was the blonde and she came to apologize. We leave the blonde alone because the watchers and the witches they put her with to straighten her out tried to make Tara her leash holder and you can't do that to another being." That got a few more nods. "She's ripped up about that," Bobby finished.
"Tara's a sweet, good, innocent witch," Dean agreed. "Very pure witch." He looked at Sam then at them. "Their other friend, Xander, got pulled in too. Xander saw a lot of them. Xander's also a medium." That got a mass groan. "So he kept a lot more memories of those other hims. He also somehow sucked up some of their skills. The watchers, being the great, bitchy idiots they are, decided he's dangerous. The witches handling Rosenburg tried to make him do something dangerous so they could take him out. He left instead. Came to us and Bobby to make sure of him being safe and all that. He's not insane. He's not going bad. The watchers still have a hit on him and that's why they called Dad back. To get the boy if he's going evil." That got a lot more nods.
"He's not though," John said, turning around. "Rosenburg changed the compulsion with a justice clause. Unless he's going evil, I can't and won't. Earlier I nearly smacked him for talking about fixing the neighbor's memories if she overheard him but otherwise he's so far seeming to be sane and on the side of good. He's changed lives and has plans for a future so he'll be able to help people but not be in the life anymore so he can hide from the watchers."
"Why come to you guys instead of someone like Pastor Jim was?" one asked.
"In some of those other lives he was familiar with our family," Sam said, turning around. "In one he and I were together, in another one he was mentoring me and Dean with a hormone condition we had just popped up that was drawing demons and people. In another he was dating Dean. He decided he could trust our opinions and have Bobby oversee him until he got to the point of sanity or have him put him away somewhere safe in a way that would control the magic and let whoever had to know that he was safely there."
"Or hand him a knife if he snapped and went after the watchers or the witches," Dean added. "So if you guys hear about the watchers going after him, let us know please. We're still watching over his shoulder to make sure he doesn't snap. He's still mostly sane, just feeling like he was possessed."
One leaned back in his chair. "Technically it probably was a possession. As a medium he could suck up skills that way. What's with the feathers? Sividia are high level demons."
"In the one where he was mated to Sammy, Rosenburg turned him into one against his will to take on a higher demon that was going to bother the hellmouth," Bobby said, making that one moan. "So they decided to keep him neutral by letting him hold a safe refuge for the harmless demons in Sunnydale. He was still doing good, but he was technically one of them. Though by his memories he was driving them insane. They made all of hell drink when they talked about having kids together." John shuddered at that. "Exactly," he said with a smug look.
"The wings came with him and they're the only thing that react to holy objects," Sam admitted. "We tested them heavily and nothing else reacts to anything holy, anything tainted, nothing like that. He keeps his wings gone most of the time but now and then they'll come out around me." That got a mass nod. "At which point in time he itches and wiggles because he needs preened." They laughed. "He does. They bother him."
"Which was part of the reason he was getting drunk in Mexico," Dean added. "So we're covering his ass and keeping track of him but if they get close, Xander's got to move lives again."
"What field, generally, is he going into?" one asked. "If we need to pick his brain and all that."
"Law enforcement," John said. They all shuddered. "He'll be a good one and he'll be the guy to protect the innocents until the council finds him and he has to run again. He's offered to let me stay with him so I can watch over him more closely because he's still obviously worried that he'll slip."
"I'd be worried too. For him it'd be an accident," Bobby agreed quietly. "He's got to finish learning how not to draw demons and use his magic." That got a nod from John. "He'll be fine, guys. He's more worried than we are about him."
"So if we run into him, just ignore him?"
"Or make sure you don't out him," Sam agreed. "They're seriously pissed that Xander escaped them so far. That's why they brought Dad back from the dead."
John nodded. "They probably want to dissect the boy. I don't know if they're turning evil or what, but I think the boy needs protected." He looked at his sons. "You two wouldn't mind?"
"Hey, give us a new little brother," Dean said with a shrug. Sam grinned and nodded. "Not like we don't keep in touch with him and pop around to check on him, Dad. Plus you might be able to help him finish settling the voices down in his head so he quits getting lost and forgetting to eat and sleep."
"Maybe." He looked at them. "That's where I'll probably be then." They nodded. "Right now, we're in the eastern part of the US while he goes to college. So if you need me, call Dean to get my new number. I've got to get a cellphone."
"We can do that," Ellen agreed. "Still freaky. Boy looked a bit pale too."
Dean nodded. "He's not sleeping again either. He seems to have a lot more energy than he should some days."
"That could be the magic trying to take over," Bobby warned.
"I'll make him dump it after his test tomorrow," John promised quietly. "Plus drill him on his shielding. He let me see how he glowed on a telling spell without his shields." They all nodded at that. "How long did you have him?"
"Three weeks in the barn. He had a week in Mexico before the boys got there. He went to a chaos sorcerer to help him set up his fallback sanctuary spot."
"Which has a *pretty* armory, Dad," Dean told him with a grin. "Plus a library I had to pull Sammy and Bobby out of."
"That's helpful though," John agreed. He turned back around, getting another beer. "How have things been since I died? Active, horrible?"
"About usual," she admitted. "Depending on where he ends up, it might be a bit worse. We heard someone's going to be in trouble," she said, staring at Dean.
"He fixed that for him," Bobby assured her. "Right after he got there." She stared. He shrugged. "One of his other lives was in the Harry Potter books as a cursebreaker."
She giggled. "From what I've heard about the books and his past, I'm not really surprised."
John swatted his son, making him yelp. "It's good it's over with, son."
"He said she might try but there's nothing there to latch onto me with," Dean said quietly, looking at him. "We'll be showing up near him that night."
"Good idea." He looked at his youngest son. "You good?"
"Still a bit freaked out by that but no." He took a drink of beer. "I'm probably not going to be either. I still want to kick his ass over that, Dad. Yours too by the way."
"Ditto," Dean agreed, glaring at his father.
"I told you why, son."
"Yay. Still getting it anyway." Xander appeared with a groan, sitting down next to Sam, putting his head on Sam's shoulder. Dean looked down. "Big problems like watchers?"
"Willow just showed up. I froze her and left before my instincts came out," he muttered into the cloth. "I'm sorry."
"I wanted to burn her on your behalf," Ellen said. "Want a beer, kid?"
Xander looked at her. "I have a chemistry test tomorrow and a pee test sometime next week, ma'am. Thank you anyway." She handed him a soda, getting a shy grin. "Thank you." He looked at them. "What should I be doing with her?"
"What you're doing right now," John told him firmly. "Boys, show up soon. C'mon, Xander." He gulped his soda, taking John back to the apartment. "Now, free her." Xander let her go, tapping her on the forehead when she frowned. "You're drawing attention to him, Rosenburg."
"I'm sorry. I came to apologize."
"They're probably tracking you." He looked at Xander. "And your magic bursts too."
"I changed my outward magical signature."
"Not that much," Willow told him. She pouted. "I'm really sorry, Xander. I have *no* idea how I did that."
"It hurts that you did it even knowing it was a bad idea and that we told you no," he told her. She nodded. "Maybe someday I won't be pissed but it's not today."
"I get that. Buffy said that she's using all those new memories to see where she screwed up as friends."
"That's a good thing but I'm going to be hiding from the council for the rest of my life, Willow." She nodded, slumping some. "I hope you two get it worked out. I want the best for all of you, but I can't. If I go anywhere near you guys, they'll find me, dissect me while I'm alive, and then kill me. I don't want that."
"I get that." She gave him a hug. "Thank you for not killing me."
"That would be bad of me," he reminded her. She nodded, disappearing again. "Find a new apartment tomorrow while I'm taking my chemistry test?"
"I can do that. Go to sleep. Cramming isn't good for you."
"I'm reading ahead for stuff I missed in the memories."
"Then you definitely need sleep, kid. And to wear out whatever's making you bouncy. Do it now." Xander nodded, going to shower and work off his hormones. John sat down to pull over the laptop so he could look at the classifieds and rental agencies locally. They probably only had a day before the kid would be found. Fortunately Chicago was a major city so they could get lost in it and they'd never know as long as they weren't near him when they were looking.
to part 3
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