Pooch looked at Jensen and his muttering unhappily at his computer for a change. "What now?" he complained.
"Well, since our present target is a really bad transvestite, it figures someone is going to have to deal with that. You, Clay, and Roque would make *ugly* women," he said dryly. "Thinking ahead...."
"We could use Xander," Cougar said.
Clay glared at him. "Don't even think about it."
"He grew up surrounded by girls," Jensen agreed. "He'd know what we'd need better than I would, which is why Sam's picking on me. So, which one of us is shaving?"
"Can't we just scare him outside?" Roque asked. "Go in as *guys*?"
Clay looked at him. "Are there any guys in there?"
"Two or three spouses," Jensen quipped. "Very understanding husbands." Clay shuddered. "You'd still make a really horrible girl, Clay." He and Cougar shared a look. "You'd have to shave less." Cougar shook his head. "You have the hair." That got a glare from under the hat. "I could find that pack summoning stone and get Xander out of a math test," he offered.
"Hell no. He's not trained for this," Clay ordered. "We are not bringing in outsiders, even if they could pull it off better." Jensen pouted. "We can wait for him to come out. Because you'd make just as ugly girls, ladies." He walked off shaking his head. Sometimes he wondered...but then the headaches usually started and reminded him the Army didn't like him to think too much.
Roque looked at them. "If we have to, I say we send in Jensen."
"I'd still have to shave."
"You're built better. We can pad that shit some." Cougar smirked at him. "But you do have that hair...."
"Roque, don't bait them," Clay ordered. "Before that image gets stuck in my damn head."
"Fine. Just helping the plan along," he said dryly. Clay glared and he smirked back, trying to look innocent.
"I know that's why you went on, stop it anyway before I send you. There's some damn ugly women in there so you could go."
"A bit of shaving, a bra to fit around his pecs and make them perky. Some manti hose," Jensen quipped. "Jeans or shave his legs...." Roque lunged to catch Jensen, who had the forethought to move and take his laptop with him behind Cougar.
"What're manti hose?" Pooch asked.
"For guys to tuck in better," Clay said. "Before *anyone* asks, John actually told me that when he discovered them and was horrified." He took another drink. He *so* needed time away from his team right now. Before his head burst open.
Jensen typed that at Sam, who let out a cackle virtually and in reality. "Oops, his teachers probably aren't amused. He did offer Xander to bait the guy outside."
"No," Clay said firmly. "I don't care what sort of training he's had. No."
"Okay," Jensen sighed, typing that back. And that Roque might be needing the fashion advice. He said he'd ask Xander and texted that at him since he had a free period right now. Xander sent back what would work and a website link for examples. Jensen let Cougar see, earning a shudder. "Xander said that would work best and he's known a few over the years."
Clay took the laptop and shut it, putting it in the equipment case and locking that then pointing Pooch to sit on it. "There, that solved that headache. Roque, go bait the guy out."
"Gay guys don't want me," he complained.
"Half of all transvestites are straight," Jensen told him. "As long as you factor in the transsexuals. If not, it's closer to seventy percent. So just go be wanted and cute." Roque growled so he ducked behind Cougar again. Cougar nicely moved out of harm's way before it dented his hat. "Hey!" Cougar shook his head.
"Fuck it, I'll go bait him out! Just so I don't have to hear this conversation anymore!" Clay complained, walking off.
"Want me to see if you can borrow some of Xander or Sam's leather pants?" Jensen chirped with a grin.
"Cougar, break him or something so he's damaged."
"Oh, let me," Roque said, cracking his knuckles.
"No, you'd go too far and then we'd have to break in a whole new tech. Cougar will only dent him a little bit until he's normal again." He left their safehouse and went to track down their target. Who was really an ugly woman. His dick tried to hide just looking at her. Couldn't he at least have shaved the beard stubble off?
Jensen disappeared, heading out into the night to 'find something important' before someone thumped him this time. He used this phone to let Sam know how it had went. That was a good pack plan. It had kept him and Cougar out of drag. It wasn't their fault they were pretty.
John, back on Atlantis for two whole weeks, recuperating nicely from the pack get together, was woken by a cold touch to his cheek and then his chest. "I'm not that friendly with anyone on this city."
"You might want to consider that," Cordelia said dryly. He blinked at her. "All work and no play and all that. You'll turn into Xander when he hasn't had any."
"I'm older and I have ways of handling that, thank you. Why the wake up?"
"Because *you* need to go to the planet of Aseda."
"What's on Aseda and where is it?"
She smirked. "It is hidden by someone like Willow. They'll like you there but they'll have you present yourself to the temple. Do that," she said firmly, staring at him. "It'll only help." He stared at her. "Consider it a gift that you weren't going to know about before. Now that you're *pack* again, you need those sort of things." She gave him a smug look. "The higher ups are horrified at the next one and what has to be done to solve it, dear." She patted him on the head. "Be a good doggy warrior for the Powers, John." She disappeared.
John got up with a groan, going to the AI room. He stepped onto the platform, yawning until she appeared. "Where's Aseda? The Messenger said I should go to their temple." He yawned again.
She stared at him. "That is for those gifted, John Sheppard. You are not."
"I have my own pack and some of them are gifted since they were talking about elemental energy use."
She sighed. "Then they should go."
Cordelia appeared. "No, John has to go. In this area he's the alpha and even the bigger alpha will have to listen to him. Though, do remember Xander's nature," she said dryly. "The Powers here think it's a great idea." She smiled. Then she stared at the artificial intelligence. She said something in their native language and the AI bowed, nodding some. "Thank you. Frankly, the pack could use all the help they could get. Xander's back in form and still uptight. He's uptight. The wraith are going to try to attack there and won't be able to so you have to go soon before they cloak themselves more tightly. Like now, right now."
He looked at himself then at her. "I need the coordinates and some pants, Cordelia. Can I have that much time?" She nodded. "Should I bring my team?"
"If you want." She shrugged. "They might not like the temple though." She disappeared.
"I have sent the coordinates to Rodney McKay's system," the AI said, bowing to him before leaving. These humans meddled in things they had no understanding of. She shouldn't be surprised they had to know about Aseda and the sister planets.
John walked back to his room, pausing to get a cup of coffee on the way. He got dressed in mission clothes and finished his coffee on his way to get his pack from his locker. McKay wasn't up, of course. So he went to wake him up. He could take Ronon or Teyla with him if they wanted. Rodney gave him a dirty look when he opened his door. "You have coordinates to Aseda and I need to go there according to Cordelia."
"Where?" he demanded, sounding grumpy.
"No!" he sighed, going to look. He wrote down the symbols and handed them over. "There, go, destroy your brain. That way I can finish my sleep. I haven't in two days and now I'm getting dirty thoughts about you and Harry Potter again. Shoo, go!"
John smirked. "Hermione maybe, but not Harry. I can't do tragic." He left, finding Ronon waiting on him. "Just up?" he guessed.
"The annoying Messenger woke me."
"Me too. Do we need a jumper?" he called.
"It won't work," Cordelia's voice called down. "Walk, it's good for you."
"Yup, sure can." He had Chuck dial out and test the gate. It was still clear. They walked through together, finding some people gathered. "Sorry, didn't meant to interrupt your trip out," he offered, getting out of the way.
"Who be you?" one of the older women asked, staring at him.
"John Sheppard and this is Ronon. A messenger from the Powers That Be sent us here." The gateway closed behind them. "I was told to come to the temple for some reason. She didn't explain when she woke me up."
"She called me a kitty cat," Ronon complained.
The old woman stared at them. "You are on the city." The others gasped.
John smiled and nodded. "I'm the military commander for her, ma'am. By the way, she said the wraith would be showing up soon."
She nodded. "We know of such. We have foreseen."
"I share a pack with two seers," he said. "Xander and Sam."
"Xander? The Protector? The Guardian and Chaos Childe? The Split One?" she asked.
"I know a Chaos Childe," he admitted. "He's very protective and has protected many, including me in the past."
She stepped closer. "Your hand, boy." He held out his free hand. She read it. "Hmm, he has marked you. So has the other."
"Sam's destiny has been changed. Xander did it," he said, staring at her. "Sam's a good boy."
She smiled. "All who hunt aren't totally good, young man." She patted him on the cheek. "We will set the gate. I will escort you. They won't be pleased to be woken up."
"The Messenger Cordelia did the same to us," Ronon told her, making her cackle as they walked. "Is it far? I have bottles of water to share," he offered.
"No, not that far. A few miles, boys. Surely you can?"
"I do more daily," John assured her. She smiled at him. They walked to the temple. Where they were captured, thrown in a cell without their packs, and left there for a day. Which was about typical in the Pegasus Galaxy for them. The next day they pulled John out. Three old, very old, women looked him over, including having his shirt cut off him. "I would've taken it off if you had asked," he offered.
The one on the left stared. "You are a Chaos Childe yourself."
"Yes, I am. The one of my generation."
She tipped her head. "What you seek is not easy."
"Nothing worth it ever is."
She smiled. "Some are worse than others. You must quest."
"Can I bring my friend and teammate with me?"
"You won't need him." She pointed. "The Messenger explained why. Someone needs to paddle that girl and put her in proper clothes."
John grinned. "Women on my world wear that now. We've moved on from the longer, heavier clothes."
"It's a pity." They opened a chute and he hovered over it, staring down. "The maze likes you, young man."
"I like it as long as it won't kill me."
"Not if you're wise. The alpha must choose his pack well." Then he dropped.
John stared around the dimly lit area. There were skeletons around him. He checked, two openings. Both into a maze of branches and dried leaves. He spotted a few things on the skeletons and looked them over carefully. One activated at his touch so he didn't touch that again. The knife and the few others that looked useful he borrowed. The technical ball he stared at.
It told him what it was for. It was a weapon but not one he wanted to use. It might destroy things. He disarmed it and moved out of the doorway to the right. Mazes, he had heard, more often had the correct path going to the right. He walked, running into places where the ground was cracked, the walls fallen down some. John took what he could, knowing by tradition the goal was to get out the other side but the center usually had something hidden.
The walls around him were crumbling and for some reason that made him a bit sad but he wasn't sure why. Maybe the branches were emoting? He'd seen stranger things in this galaxy. He stared to walk through another fallen wall when something told him to stop. He carefully checked around then went around the short rest of the wall. He ran into a forcefield and it made him stare at it. "Why are you still active?"
He heard a slither behind him and looked then willed the wall to go away. The huge snake probably wouldn't like it. The wall shimmered and John slid through, putting it back up behind him. He looked at the opening the snake had came through and moved past it quickly. He found something strange a few more rows over. It looked like an arm hanging in the middle of nothing. He touched it and it fell into his hands. "It's heavy," he said. The arm was a marble like stone and it was cold. He found a canvas bag a few feet away and checked it before putting the arm in it. The arm floated back up to the spot and he sighed, putting the bag over his shoulder before taking the arm and carrying it off.
It was tiresome but apparently necessary. He found the head a few more turns later and it did go into the bag. He found another arm and it went with the first under his arm. He heard more slithering so he carefully put them down and pulled a knife. The snake lunged down and he killed it with a single strike. He pulled out the knife and wiped it clean on his pants leg, then picked up the bag and arms, carrying them off. He found the center, which had a statue that was missing parts.
"Figures," he said. "Must be some sort of test." He put the arms back into place. Then the head where it should go. It hung there since the shoulders and neck was still missing. John looked around, finding them a few feet past the other side of the maze. He brought them back to assemble it, staring at her. "You're not Athena. You're not spinning or in warrior Goddess mode," he said.
"You're not Hestia. Which one are you?" He looked around. On the neck was a small band with some letters he hadn't seen. He leaned closer. "Lady Artemis," he said, stepping back. He spotted another statue coming up. "You'd be Hecate," he said, reading the inscription. "Did you ladies have a puzzle for me or something?" For some reason it seemed right to talk to the statues.
Artemis dropped something from her formerly closed hand. He slowly picked it up, feeling the itch in his fingers. He looked it over then carefully put it on her pedestal. "That's not for me, ma'am. That's a relic." Another blank pedestal showed up and he stared. He walked over. It had his name on it. "I'm not that vain. That's Rodney," he said dryly. He looked around. Another was coming up. In the center of the circle, because he realized it was a *circle*, a small pipe was sticking up. John walked over and checked it over. "Am I supposed to turn you on?"
He considered it and the branches felt really sad now. He turned it on and the water started to gush, wetting him down. "Hopefully that'll help. This place deserves better, though I'm not sure why the trees are emotional. They're not like this at home," he said. Apparently talking to himself worked well for this challenge. The bases of the statues opened and he gathered the four thin silver ropes. "What're these?" He checked them over. Not Ancient tech, but he could feel something in them, something that still made his hand itch.
He looked at the relic, it was still there. He brought them over and the ball attached to one as soon as it got close. "Are there other balls?" No answer, nothing opened or appeared. The water was running clear now and the branches around him were sighing, out loud, in pleasure. He hurried through the maze before he got trapped. He ran into a few more creatures and they were easily gotten around or he could climb a wall to work his way around them. Then the last one, before the end of the maze, was a huge...thing. With teeth. A lot of teeth. And claws.
John stared at it. "I need a gun," he muttered. The thing in his hand bit him, that was the only way he could describe it. Then suddenly, he wasn't the same John Sheppard. He was shorter, closer to the ground. He was panting. He could hear a lot of things. The branches were starting to get meaner. He watched how the creature was moving and dodged around a clumsy grab attempt. He made it through the end of the maze and stared when he became human. He found himself back in the temple, hovering over the same spot, only now he had no pants. Or boxers. Ronon was waiting on him. "Did I just turn into a dog or something?"
"Something furry and canine as I understand it."
John looked at the staring witches, trying not to blush at where they were staring. "Ma'am, was this what I was supposed to find?"
The three smiled and nodded. "You did just fine. You proved you're worthy of your pack leadership."
"You proved you were able to plan ahead, defend yourself from threats, and therefore others, and you showed kindness," the next one said.
"Plus you were very nice to talk to our Trees of Knowing. They liked you a lot," the last said with a smile. "Now, we have to guard against the wraith, dear boy. Go home." She started to wave a hand.
"Are there other worlds we should visit?" John asked. "Warn them about the wraith?"
"The planets of Sisterhood still talk," the one who winked at him earlier said with another wink. "Have a good life, dears. You're adorable." They waved and John and Ronon were back at the gate. They had their packs. John had his t-shirt and overshirt. They went around his waist. Ronon was smirking at him. "Don't start."
"You looked comfortable as a furry thing." The gate got dialed out and John used his IDC, then called. They let them through. Rodney was glaring at him while drinking Pegasus coffee. "What?" he asked.
"Why are you naked?"
"Long story but the three ...witches or guardians or wise women, whatever you want to call them, at the temple sent me into a maze. And I meant witches in the nicer term," he called back. "Like Hecate's people." They all heard the giggling before the gate closed itself. John's shirt fell off right before and he sighed, putting it back around himself. He looked at Rodney. "We need to do some testing."
Rodney nodded once. "Why are you still naked?"
"For the same reason we need to do some testing," he said dryly. He touched his throat. He could feel the slim silver rope and the ball against it. "By the way they said they'd talk to the other planets of Sisterhood."
Rodney nodded and pointed. "Let's get you some boxers at least before you scar someone for life having to wonder why you're not bigger."
"I'm bigger than you are, McKay," John complained, walking off.
"Don't look at me, I only got to watch him talk to the strange branches that felt sad." Ronon shrugged and followed. "McKay, he turned into a canine beast."
"Excuse me?" Rodney demanded, turning to stare at John. Who nodded. "How?" John touched the rope, which brought it to his attention. "Can you take that off?"
"I don't think so. There's three others. We can scan them."
"Oh, we will be. Meet me in the infirmary in five minutes. That way you don't incite the doctors into doing ...things." He walked off to get some equipment and a laptop. This just got a whole lot more interesting. Some of the cryptic comments from Cordelia and the priestesses or whoever they were made some more sense now. Which was going to screw the whole pack thing badly probably.
Xander and Sam shared a look across the home ec counter then looked at the teacher. They both raised their hands. She looked at their 'souffle' and sighed. She came over. "Didn't you two measure?"
"We did," Sam said. "I went along with the formula on the board. I was exact. I still have no idea what this is."
"That is a lumpy mess," she said with a smirk. "You'll get better, boys. Toss that before it infects others."
"It might be too late," Xander sighed. "So we don't have to eat it, right?"
"No. I'd never make you eat that burned, lumpy thing. Is there anything you two can already cook?"
"Pasta," Sam said. "We can bake stuff but our oven only has one temperature."
"I can make pancakes. I learned at a cheap after school job. And I worked in a Hibachi. I can kinda almost roll California Rolls but that's sushi."
"Ick," Sam complained.
She sighed. "We can work on it, guys. Why are you two in here so late?"
"We're on our own and we have to be able to feed ourselves," Xander said. He shrugged slightly. "It might help."
"It might, yes." She got them a pamphlet she handed to the problematic students, letting them see it. "Try those. They're simple, don't take more than five ingredients. Nothing too difficult. Get the oven fixed too."
"We've so nagged," Sam sighed. "It's been months and we nagged."
"I'm about to tell the manager I'm going to take that rent check back," Xander told him. "There's no way that's reasonable." Sam nodded that was a good idea. He took it to look over. "We have frozen chicken breasts."
"I was saving those for a group dinner," Sam said. He leaned on the counter, going over what they could try to do tonight. "That's like John's pasta salad."
"I'm kinda tired of veggies." Sam nodded.
"Get a can of pizza dough, they're with the refrigerator biscuits," the teacher said. "Spread it out, stuff it with stuff, then fold it over and bake like calzones, boys." They beamed at her. Sam even made notes. She went to help the other hopeless ones.
Xander got called to the office on Friday, staring at the cranky woman in there. "What?"
"Who is this?" she demanded.
"This is Mr. Harris, who you wanted to speak to about his caffeine addiction."
"Hey, I can become bouncy and homicidal," Xander said with a shrug. "Not like I'd mind with some of the twats." He looked at her. "No, not everyone who drinks soda is fat." She sneered. He took off his shirt. "Do I look like I need to watch my diet to you?" She gaped, pointing at his gun. "Presidential order, ma'am. There's someone who wants to kill my pretty ass." The principal snickered and got the letter to let her see it.
"Now, do you really think a soda is going to make me fat? It's better for me than medicines that don't work right. Ritalin did not a thing for me," he said dryly. "This does. I don't need your permission to bring stuff from home. Nor do I need nagged."
"I am on the school board and the safety of all you students is in my hands."
"Lady, unless I gave birth to you, I'm fucking you, or I'm your best friend, you don't have the right to do jack shit about me," he said bluntly. "I'm emancipated. I run a six minute mile. I don't need to be here, I can easily go get my GED, go back to the totally satisfying future career I had in construction. I loved construction work plus it paid well." He stared at her. "I don't care what you think about *my* diet. That is *my* diet, not yours."
"It looks bad."
"I don't care what *anyone* thinks about what I do," he said dryly. "I was raised by bitchy girls and I gave that up *real* quick." She flinched. "I bring mine from home, that means it's private property and not furnished by the school. With my ADHD at such a level as it is, I can have the doctor write a note saying yes, it works for me and is the best way to control my attention issues."
He stared at her. "That's not a problem. I have three I can call right now." He knew Alexx would do it for him if no one else would. She had been horrified by his bounciness and had made him gulp a lot of Mountain Dew since it worked, before it infected Speed. He stared at her. "You have no right to say anything about whatever I bring from home for lunch."
"You sleeping gassed a teacher," she sneered.
"Yeah, another nagging woman. She was trying to break into my locker. That lock is from my gun cabinet at home." He gave her a look. "No teacher has the right to search my locker without a warrant or the principal's say so. That is the law. Is it not, Principal MacNash?"
"It is," he sighed. "Calm down, Xander. She was going to be motherly."
Xander looked at him. "My mother was a drunken bitch who once held me out a window on a greyhound bus so I'd have fun on the trip," he said dryly. "She's not my mother. I don't need a mother. I'm doing just fine on my own. It's nice, Doctor Lam said I finally was back at my right weight again." He looked at her. "You have no rights to anything I bring from home unless it's illegal. Not even San Francisco can make soda illegal." She huffed and glared. "Now, is there any other womanly complaints you want me to answer to? Because I got ordered by the home ec teacher to make dinner."
"I'll see you expelled if you ever bring another one into this school," she sneered.
"That's fine, I can sue the school board, ma'am," he said with a smirk. "It won't trouble me in the *least*." She blanched. He stared at her, pulling his twenty ounce out of his back pocket and opening it to take a sip. "Some of us are healthy and doing just fine on real food, instead of the slop they try to force us to eat in the caf.
"By the way, you might be warned since you've about killed a student four or five times by setting off her fatal level food allergy." She moaned, sitting down. "You also can't force us, as your current plan goes, to buy your craptastic, tasteless, unhealthy lunch. Because the supposed health food? It's not."
"Are you a doctor?" she sneered.
"Field medic. Who's traveled extensively. Monkey brains are better than that slop and they're very high in fat." She shuddered, turning green. "So therefore, lay off the students. We're not a science experiment. You're worse than the government." He looked at the principal. "Am I suspended?"
"Not at the moment. You swear again and you will be." He gave him a dirty look.
"You know I can't take nagging after *them*. It annoys the crap outta me. I'm going to be stressed for dinner and I might have to go clubbing again and find another few loose girls."
"You have *sex*?" she demanded, looking aghast.
"Yeah, more than once. It's been a few years since I was a virgin." He stared at her. "For your information, when I was I Africa I also helped defend some of the villages I was working with." He smiled. She whimpered, shuddering and backing away from him. "So yes, I'm basically also a very young combat vet. I'm pretty damn sure I'm able to feed myself most of the time. Even if you don't agree with it. I'm in better shape than some career military people."
"Statistically, half of the teenagers aren't virgins by the time they turn seventeen," the principal said. "He's just... more open about it."
"Why hide it?" Xander asked. "I'm not embarrassed. I enjoy it. I'm a normal, red blooded guy. We enjoy the hell out of sex. I'm assuming you still do at your age."
"You learn to settle for less wild things. Quit swearing."
"Sorry, habit," he said, taking another drink and staring at her.
"You're going to be a worthless teen father," she sneered.
"I'm not fertile, lady." He shrugged. "No little Xander's coming." He stared at her. "For that matter, even if I did, I can afford to take care of mine."
"I heard," she sneered, standing up.
"I have a trust fund from a former fiancee. I'm not screwing for my rent payments. No matter what the rumors say," he finished dryly.
"I suppose you also take drugs and think that's healthy?"
"Beyond some native meditation herbs, which are not illegal, immoral, or peyote, no. I don't take any medicines. My headache powder for my migraines is herbal and all non addictive and not anything illegal. Six of them are native ritual cleansing herbs. The only drugs in my system are the caffeine I inhale to keep myself from being too bouncy." He took another drink and she tried to grab it. He snatched it back. "Not yours."
"You're disgusting and a bad influence. I'll have you expelled!" she shouted.
"And I'll sue," Xander said. "Because I'm on a sports team, we do have to be drug tested every few months. You have no grounds for expulsion. Which means I'd get to sue the hell out of you, personally, and the board."
She stomped off. He waved at her back. MacNash was glaring. "Xander."
He shrugged. "I don't know why she cared. She doesn't know me. I don't want to know her. She's not evil enough to be one of my women of dubious virtue." He looked at the door then at him. "I won't name the school. You guys are pretty decent. I'm starting to feel all together too normal again. Good thing there's an apocalypse this spring." He left, going to nark on himself before someone called John. "Some whiny bitch on the school board wants to expel me for drinking soda. Head's up when I sue their asses." He hung up. He got into the car. Sam had waited. "School board."
"I heard the shouting. You hit her?"
"No. Pity but no. That would've given her an excuse." He started the car and backed out. "She thought I'd end up some worthless teen father," he snorted.
"You're not fertile and you're more careful than Dean is," Sam said dryly. "I'll find a good lawyer to threaten them with." Xander grinned at him. "Drive. It's your turn." Xander took them to the grocery store then home. Xander worked on the calzones while Sam found a lawyer for them in case it was needed. He set up a free consultation visit and gave him all the facts they had, including hacking into the school's surveillance system to get the film from the office.
The lawyer assured him they didn't have a case and could easily be sued if they tried anything. He could even write them a nasty letter to inform them of that fact, but it'd cost them about eighty bucks. Sam paid for it out of his paycheck and he promised to have it to them by the morning. Sam thanked him and logged offline, going to watch their dinner burn, slightly. Xander was down at the manager's office complaining about the stove again. He even brought her back so she could read the temperature on their oven thermometer. Sam had decided to get a cheap one to see what the oven actually did at the various settings. Which was four-fifty-eight. Always.
"I'll get on maintenance, boys." Xander pulled out the two requests he had filed. She read them over, nodding. "It's been too long," she sighed. "Let me nag tomorrow."
"Hopefully you don't nag like the school board does about sodas," Xander complained.
She laughed. "I heard. That was you?"
"I nearly decked one earlier for her crap. Told me I was going to be a worthless teen father too."
She snorted, shaking her head. "I doubt that." She looked around. "Nice paint job, boys. Good shelves too." She smiled and left them. The apartment wasn't damaged and the few shelves' holes could be filled in easily enough. The paint color was nice and might not need painted over. She could like having them as tenants. She found the head of maintenance and asked him about the problems. He said their hands were tied by the management above her.
She pointed out that was a dangerous situation since the wall behind the stove wasn't rated for constant heat. He groaned and they called the higher ups together. They still didn't want to replace the stove. Not until they left. The manager pointed out they had paid a year in advance. She also pointed out that not handling it violated the lease agreement they signed with tenants. She nearly lost her job for pointing that out. Until she vowed to sue. Then they backed down and said that they couldn't replace it until they moved. She went to tell the boys that.
Sam and Xander shared a look then shrugged and said they'd start looking, it might take them a few months. She sighed and said she'd deal with the prepaid rent if that did happen. Sam went online to complain to the Better Business Bureau. Xander looked at apartment locator sites to find something nearby that was just as nice.
"Want to rent a house? It's cheaper."
"More utilities, Xander."
"We'd have a yard."
"Which would need mowed and shoveled."
"Double damn." He kept looking. In their narrow area of the city there wasn't much open that wasn't like theirs. Maybe a private apartment. "We need to go cruising tomorrow."
"We can do that." Sam came out of the spare bedroom. "We'll figure it out. Did you tell Dad about the problem earlier? He text messaged and said to calm you down."
"I warned in case." He let Sam see the listing he was looking at.
"Farther out. That's over by where I do work on the weekends." He sat down beside him to work on that search. He had a few other sites they could look on. Jensen had a suggestion of a few too. "Aww, he's checking on us."
"That's sweet of him." They wrote him to tell him what had happened. Jensen's reminder that they shouldn't tell anyone Xander dated made Sam shudder. Xander gave him a hug though so it was all better.
Xander walked into school Tuesday morning. "Guys, a small announcement," he told his home room. Sam was doing the same in his home room. "We're looking for a new place because the oven that the maintenance people refused to repair or replace at our old one caught on fire on Saturday. Thankfully no one was hurt and nothing beyond a wall got hurt. So if you know of somewhere decent near where we live now, please let us know?" He smiled. "Thank you."
The teacher stared at him. "Only the one wall?"
"Yeah and it was the wall that separated that and the bathroom only company uses. Thankfully it wasn't near anything but the stove, the fridge, and the cabinets. So we need some new dishes and stuff but we can use paper plates. We asked *three times* for them to fix it because it kept getting stuck on, only went to one temp, one of the burners kept sputtering out so it had a clogged gas line. I like the building, the people in it, all that, but not that kitchen." He sat down. "Fortunately my comic collection is in special storage and all the antique books we have between us were in the living room. Sam only lost a library book and he's going to replace it."
The teacher smiled. "I know someone who does real estate listings. I'll ask her, Xander." He grinned. "Is that why you weren't here yesterday?"
"Yeah, we had to meet with the fire inspector and make sure we didn't have to pull an emergency move. Then the complex's insurance people. I gave them copies of the forms I filed." He grinned. "The manager said the higher ups didn't want to replace it." She snickered. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. You're both generally nice boys." The principal leaned in and pointed at Xander then made 'come here' finger motions.
Xander grabbed his stuff and followed him to the office. "What happened now?"
"The board member that was bothering you had a suspicious accident Saturday."
"Saturday we were dealing with oven that caught on fire."
"I know. Is everything all right?"
"Yeah, it was the wall between the kitchen and the bathroom. I got it mostly out before the fire department got there. Sam was working on the bathroom side cleaning the toilet." He shrugged. "I didn't kill her. She wasn't evil enough for me to hunt."
"I know that. What about any recent dates?"
Xander shrugged. "No. I haven't dated in weeks and I haven't noticed anyone being too interested. I can ask Sam, see if he's seen any showing that sort of interest."
"Why are you in here again?" Clay asked as he walked in.
"Someone killed the board member that was nagging me about my caffeine intake."
"Mr. Winchester," the principal said with a smile.
"Not quite. Cousin of John and the boys." He smirked. "I got told to come find you because Jensen is panicking."
"We saw." He stared at him. "Closet." Xander shrugged slightly. "Let's go talk, kid."
"Yes, Colonel Clay," he sighed. He pointed. "He's objecting to the hunting closet."
"I don't need to know unless they throw you in jail for it, Xander."
Xander smirked. "I doubt they would."
"I don't," Clay ordered, walking him off. "Where is my cousin?"
Xander looked at his watch then up. "In about three minutes he'll be in room 114 for trig."
"Go get him." Xander texted Sam's phone. Sam came jogging out. "You really do look like your mother," Clay said in greeting. He smirked. "Clay."
"Sam." He grinned and shook his hand. "Problems?"
"Someone took out that board member who nagged me," Xander said with a small shrug.
"Jensen was looking for a new t-shirt to steal," Clay said. "C'mon, boys." They followed him, both sighing. "We don't need things like that."
"Yes we do," Sam told him. "There's something coming this spring." Clay shot them a dirty look. "Give us a few. We drove. It's my turn today."
"I'll be right behind you two." He watched them get into their little sedan and followed in his own rental car. The complex manager was giving him an odd look. "I'm John's cousin," he said with a grin. "I came to check on them for him."
"Wonderful. I haven't seen him since he was a baby." He walked into the apartment, closing and locking the door after himself. He stared at Dean. "You look even more like your mom."
"When Jensen said you looked just like our Dad, I thought he was less specific," Dean shot back. "Sammy, wall?"
"Oven," Xander answered.
"They didn't change it out?" Jensen demanded.
"No. Not in the least." He sighed. "We have a sitch coming this spring."
"You still don't need all that," Clay assured him.
"Xander!" Dean complained. "You let John keep some, right?"
Jensen snickered. "You're in so deep." He took them to look in the newly expanded closets. Clay stared at all the little boxes stacked in shoe boxes. "Are you hoarding for the end of the world?"
"Yes, I am. Because it'll be some day, possibly even soon."
Clay patted him on the back. "No way in hell, kid. You can have some. I understand the need to have some. Especially with the weird stuff you get into and you handle with my cousins. You may not have all those."
"Some of those are shoes."
"Uh-huh," Clay said, patting him again. "Let's sort them out. Cougar?" He came in and stared then at Xander. "Help him sort it into about one to two percent of the most useful things. We can hold the rest for him," he said when Xander opened his mouth. "So they're not lost or used. We can put them in Pooch's closet. Okay?
"Jolene would probably send them to you if you asked and you probably have enough of a head's up with the visions to know what you'll need." Xander slumped. "Good boy." He patted him on the head. "Let Cougar check your guns for you too." He went to look around, spotting a few ...unusual looking books. "Don't forget the book safes, boys."
Dean moaned, shaking his head. "That's just Xander for ya."
"Yeah, I figured it was."
"Why are you guys up here?" Dean asked.
"Jensen freaked at the report of the fire. He dragged us here for some downtime in the woods so he could hang out."
"I guess that's normal. I'm here to do about the same thing."
Sam leaned out of the bedroom. "We might have to rebuild that wall. The maintenance guys are looking like the higher ups chewed on them for their own stupidity." He went back to helping. "Help us find somewhere better, Dean."
"I can do that. Same area?"
"Please," Xander called. "And talk to the official people when they show back up."
"I can do that," Dean decided, sitting down to start the area search. "I wonder if that was a vision."
Clay snickered. "Are they that accurate?" Dean looked at him and nodded. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, it's like a movie preview."
"Huh, I hadn't known that." Someone knocked. He got up to answer it since that sounded official. He stared at the suit on the other side. "Yes?"
"Are you the parent of the underage males living here, sir?" the suit said smugly.
"Technically I'm the cousin of one of them, his father is in Arkansas this week. The other is emancipated and an orphan." The suit grimaced. "Also, if you're from the company that owns these shitty units, I'm ordering Xander to sue you." He smirked and closed the door in his face. Then he went back to sit down again. "Would've had more effect in the uniform," he decided. The guy was still listening.
"Only if you were wearing the combat medals," Dean taunted with a smirk. "Or your holster."
"It's hidden better than usual." Dean snickered, making a list of the local apartments to look them over later. Jensen came out to whisper in Clay's ear, giving him a look. Clay stared at him. "Will they need something that big?"
"Jolene will send it." Jensen nodded, going to set that limit. "Why does he have one of those?"
"Present," Xander called.
Clay rolled his eyes. "It's a well known fact. Xander only dates evil bitches," Dean told him with a smirk.
"I like mine a bit volatile," Clay admitted.
"No, Xander dated a vengeance demon sort." Clay shuddered. "She was nice, she didn't try to kill him."
"That's bad," he decided. "Was he family?"
"We've wondered for *years*," Dean said dryly. He got up to stop the lurking guy. "Are you still here? Because I'm already on the phone to our family attorney. You endangered my little brother's life. Our father is going to own your company by the time he's done and it's going to be all *over* the press. I've already told the local papers. I'm working on the list of the news stations." He fled. "Good. You come back when you know what you want to do about this wall and the kitchen." He saw the neighbor across the hall peek out. "Suits from the rental company over the fire."
"Why didn't they replace it?"
"Apparently they thought Xander was the easy going sort," he said dryly. "They're real wrong about that. Tell us if we get too loud. Sammy and mine's cousin is in from the army with a few of Xander's friends."
"Of course I will. You boys never give me any trouble, Dean. You're usually very quiet and polite." She smiled and shut her door.
Dean shut and locked their door, looking at Clay, shrugging a bit. "Sammy is usually a very nice boy."
"That's surprising since your mother once ripped a strip out of your father's hide in public, nearly literally, for doing something totally dumb. Middle of the family dinner at Bob Evans."
"You knew Mom?"
"Yeah, I talked with her a few times." He smiled. Sam came out too. Apparently John hadn't been able to talk about Mary all that much. Mary had been one hell of a woman and she'd be proud of her boys. He had even stopped to pick up an old family photo of their wedding reception. Sam copied it onto his computer and they settled in to talk while the other pack members played with the weapons. It was good to relax with family sometimes.
Clay met with Cam Mitchell in the middle of a parking lot by the Air Force Academy. Jensen was the one who had set it up. He said Sheppard trusted this young, hotshot pilot. "Colonel Clay," he said, holding out a hand.
"Jack O'Neill mentioned you, Colonel. What can I do for you?"
He held up the two shoe boxes. "We weeded down a certain closet a bit more. Apparently some was hidden. This is what my team did not claim. Which we will be holding in case the kids need it some day most likely."
Cam took the boxes to look inside. "How did he do that?"
"You unlock it and open it, it grows. Once you close it and relock it, it'll shrink," Clay told him. "There's three layers of twenty in each box."
Cam scrunched up his face for a second then relaxed. "How many are you keeping?"
"Boxes?" he asked dryly. Clay nodded. "Why?"
"Because so far we haven't been fully able to stop the people who are planning an invasion of an American city in about ten years."
Cam nodded once. "Sheppard said something about that." Clay smirked. "That's fine. Are you going to hang around with the boys for a few days? I can sneak this to O'Neill so my general doesn't freak out."
"Yeah, we're local for some downtime. We'll be in the woods for about a week."
"That's great." He shook his hand. "Thank you for being sensible. He hid it from Sheppard. Took some back too."
"I understand his reasons. They're a lot like my team in many ways."
Cam nodded. "I can get that part. I can see the necessity. I'm wondering if the kids hoard other things."
"Comics. Evil and bad girls. Obscure books."
Cam smiled. "Figures with those two. Thank you. Have a good R&R." He walked off happier. That had been a good reason for a meeting. He called O'Neill once he was on base. "Sir, I met with a Colonel Clay.... Weapons. Shoe boxes of tiny weapons cases." He hung up on the promise that he'd be there by that evening. Cam did unshrink one to look then put it back down. It was a sweet system. Easy to carry a ton of them around when you needed them. Still too much for kids, even those sort, to have. Someone really needed to spank Xander. A lot. Or distract him somehow.
John Winchester showed up at Jolene's house, startling Pooch. "I take it my cousin is here?" The guy was giving him a curious, horrified look.
"In the backyard," Pooch said with a point. "You two do look a lot alike."
John nodded. "When we were younger we were almost twins." He walked around the side of the house, startling Roque. "Easy, big fella," he complained as he walked around him. He stared down at his cousin. "You still had the picture from the wedding reception?"
"Yeah, in my stored stuff. I thought the boys might like to see it if they hadn't." He stared at his cousin. "You look tired."
"I am tired. The poltergeist banged me around for hours yesterday." He stared at him. "Xander pouting?"
"Nope. We promised we'd keep a lot of it here in case of necessity. He agreed Jensen could authorize the usage if we needed it. He was very reasonable. We cut it down to five percent of what he had. Things that weren't practical for him or us, we gave to O'Neill's program."
"Jack. We met him on a mission."
"Same people," Jensen called from his seat in the shade. "We even threatened the lawyers they tried to threaten the boys with."
John looked at him then at Clay. "The fire?"
"Yup. They're trying to say the boys were at fault. The fire investigator said it was a backed up gas line and they were real lucky it didn't flow down the pipe to the other apartments." He sipped his beer. "They're good boys, John. You did a pretty damn decent job. Mary would be damn proud of her boys."
John nodded. "I'd like to think so." He smirked. "So are you now part of the pack?"
"Nope, just an older, wiser voice of reason if necessary. They have enough on their plates without us hanging around."
"That's how I feel too. Sammy doing good in school? He didn't send me a copy of his grades, even when I nagged."
"He dropped physics for home ec."
"Why did he drop physics?"
"His teacher was an uber brain and hated the normal brained kids who didn't think physics was the only true field," Jensen called. He grinned. "Home ec was useful so they could feed themselves. The teacher is letting them cook in there after classes so they have a warm dinner. The building is refusing to replace the kitchen. They said it's the boys' fault." He was typing by feel. "Also their new lawyer for that is cackling in glee. Xander said anything they win will go into Sam's college fund for you."
"I'll thank him later. Any other traumas?"
"One of the neighbors was one of Xander's sort of girls," he offered with a grin. "She went after the one who kept digging at him about his soda habit and the board member who tried to expel him for it. Fortunately the teacher survived. Xander talked her down."
John shook his head. "There's plenty of days I wish Xander would go gay."
Clay snickered. "I was wondering if somehow he was a member of the family," he said dryly.
"Not that I can tell. It's osmosis from Sam's attraction to them."
"He dated the reanimated mummy before he met Sam."
"Don't tell me that, I'll make Sam travel again," John complained.
"Sam has paperwork to file if you wanted him to be emancipated." Jensen stared at him. "He wasn't sure but he filled some out and has it in his drawer to file. He was going to ask in a few months when you showed up again. That would help him when he got to college. Financial aid wouldn't have to consider your income at all."
John sighed. "I'm not sure I like that idea."
"It might be more practical and keep him safer," Clay offered. "He can do it a few months before he turns eighteen or forge it if you die suddenly."
John nodded. "That would keep him out of social services' claws."
"Half the residents still think they afford the rent on their back but they all do say that they're nice, quiet, gentle, polite boys. And that Xander used a crossbow on some growling thing that was trying to eat a family's new puppy and toddler daughter."
John smiled. "I heard that story. He is a good shot." He sighed. "Any other news I need to hear?"
"Wolfram and Hart are in trouble but not bleeding yet," Clay reported. "Black Thorn is bleeding but not dying. We have a few years on them."
"Wilkins first," John agreed.
"This spring's is going to be a mini portal thing," Jensen said, getting up and coming over. "We've got detailed notes and Xander saw a few problems during the battle. Sam's pretty sure there's one he's not being shown because the Powers want to split the pack a little bit."
"Sounds like their sort of game," John agreed. "Xander would still go on and do things without the pack. From what we've heard, he did it plenty back there."
Clay nodded. "He's still got some PTSD issues over that. And nagging."
"He was surrounded by bitchy girls. Of course they nagged," John said. "All right, let me know if you hear about them in a bad way?"
"Of course. We have all but one of those germ docs out of the way anyway," Clay said, looking a bit smug.
"Thank you. I'd hate to see Dean lose his mind if they hurt Sammy." He shook his hand. "Call if you need my sort of help. At the very least I can tell you how to kill it."
"I'll do that." John smirked as he walked off. "Pooch, food?"
"Jolene said about thirty more."
"Thanks." He sipped his beer. "Any other big news, Jensen, since you're doing the potty dance?"
Jensen grinned. "Xander was making googly eyes at someone who wasn't paying attention."
"Supposedly not paying attention or really not paying attention?" Clay asked. Xander dating was always a bad idea.
"Supposedly. Amber Linkin."
"Where have I heard that name?" Pooch asked.
"Any relation to Abigail?"
"Her daughter." Clay moaned. "Just like her mama too."
"Crap, that's a bad sign," Roque sighed, shaking his head. "Wasn't she...."
"Yup," Clay said. "You warn him yet?"
"Yes. He said thank you and are you sure you're not related to the Harris' somehow." He went back to his seat after getting another beer.
"We really do have to trace that, see if there's a reason," Roque said. "There's no way three families can be cursed with that sort of taste."
"Xander aid the evil girls are more fun and squeal louder," Jensen said with a grin.
"Yes, they usually are," Clay agreed. "Did she try to kill him?"
"Slight poisoning. Dean actually made him go to the ER but when the nurses refused to tell them anything, Xander about ripped them a new one. They tried to say they weren't family and Xander pointed out he was an orphan so it didn't really matter. She told him to get the paperwork. So Sam's making some today." He went back to his surfing. "Dean yelled because Xander made the nurse upset. Dean even apologized without hitting on her."
"Xander's temper is out of control," Cougar said.
"He knows. Sam's been telling him to work on it. He has been but sometimes he just has frustration." Jensen shrugged. "He's almost seventeen and in high school again. That has to be frustrating to anyone. I know I'd hate it." They all nodded they would too. "We're all glad they didn't send him back with his old injuries though. That might've sucked."
"How did he lose a leg?" Clay asked more quietly.
Jensen looked up, stopping his tapping at the keyboard. "There was a battle and they had to blow the altar to keep the huge ass demon gone. The girls had taken one side of the battle. He and Dean had taken the other because the girls couldn't lay explosives. They had the easier side but Xander still got stabbed in the leg. On the way out of the blast radius, a totally unrelated demon pounced him and tried to kill him.
"Dean didn't realize it and it kept him slightly within it. It basically atomized it. Xander killed it when it was trying to feed on the remains of his leg but he was almost passed out by the time they found him and the demon. Buffy yelled for days about how she shouldn't have let them talk her into going until Dean smacked her, hard. He pointed out that the thing that had been on him hadn't been part of that. It was totally unrelated.
"The fact that Xander killed it while it was trying to finish him off, and that injured, meant that she should quit whining because he wasn't. Then he took Xander to a rehab hospital for a few weeks and helped him. He and Cas nursed Xander back to health and Cas even got him talking to the ladies, mostly, again. He still wouldn't talk to Buffy at all. He had heard every word and was about to kill her ass for it that time then limp off into the sunset. Cas realized he was going to abandon his calling and tried to poke but Xander resisted a lot until Dean made Cas calm down and got Xander to talk."
"So he was on a prosthetic leg when he crashed," Clay said. "Hold on, atomized?"
"Small yield. Killed about a block's worth in Montana, by the border. Dean ended up taking him over to Canada once he got out of radiation hold. They knew about the Council stuff and Dean got him into a pretty decent rehab within an hour of calling that side of the border. One with nurses who *refused* to let any of the ladies call outside of Faith. We all got to visit since he was there for six week healing the rest of his injuries and getting used to his new leg."
"What about his eye?" Roque asked.
Jensen sighed. "Before the last battle, as they called it, there was a minion. An insane preacher as Xander told us. The guy said he was the One Who Sees but isn't listened to, and that he needed to see differently since he saw everything. Dirty thumbnail a few weeks before that battle and he was still there."
Clay shuddered. "I can't imagine jumping right into a battle after an injury like that. You need time to retrain and learn how to compensate."
"It took him months not to walk into doorways, but he learned how to compensate in battles faster. After he got out of the leg rehab, he and Dean ran into a fight and had to stop it. The demons there stared at him in awe for actually showing up. They respected him a lot more than the girls did from what we saw. Tony and John agreed with that."
"It's crazy white guy syndrome," Pooch said. "You don't mess with the crazy white guys. The ones who have a calling, a reason, but not the crazy ones who're just there."
"Xander had a reason," Jensen told him. "Anyone in that life has a reason. You don't just up and decide 'I'll be cooler that way and maybe if I'm lucky I'll die before I'm twenty-five', Pooch. They took his only link to guys. The best friend he'd had all his life. Xander still has the picture of them in a playpen together." Pooch slumped some. "The vamps got him and Xander went after them for it. They created their own war that time. Same as they did with John."
"John's like a one man army against that," Clay said. "Xander too?" Jensen and Cougar both nodded. "I'm sure Dean and Sam were."
"Once they got back together. They balanced each other out. Back then, there were plans so they had to deal with them. Now, there's not so many plans and the balancing needs a bit of work. Sam's not turning into the geekier version of John. Cas isn't there to nag Dean."
"Who was Cas?" Pooch asked.
Jensen smiled. "He was an angel. He pulled Dean out of hell." Pooch gaped in horror. "The thing that got Mary had a plan. It ended up going after Sam because it wanted Sam. Killed Sam's girlfriend." Pooch nodded slowly. "That brought Sam back to the hunt. One of the other special ones the demon wanted as a possible heir killed Sam. Dean made a deal to get Sam back. They couldn't break the deal so Dean spent a few months in hell.
"Which is where the plan the angels had started." Clay shuddered. "Cas pulled him out and helped those two and another higher being who was pretending to be like Cas, stop the end game fight between the two higher sides. To stop it, Sam died. Dean went back to a life that he hated. Then Sam somehow came back." They all moaned, shaking their heads. "And things almost went back to normal."
"Where was John?" Clay demanded.
"Before Sam died, the lead up to it, the demon crashed the Impala." Clay winced. "It knocked Dean into a coma. There's a demon called a Reaper that feeds on those souls that get stuck or keep them there, not real sure on that part, but John made a deal with the same demon to free Dean."
"I would've kicked his ass," Clay growled.
"We were just heading to Bolivia when John died," Jensen said more quietly, staring at him.
"I hadn't realized things had started to go bad so I never checked on them," Clay finished. Jensen shook his head. "This time things are going to be different."
"Yeah, this time all the bad things want Xander," Jensen quipped. "Instead of Sam."
"Maybe we can set the boys up with some soldiers," Pooch offered. "They'd have that dark side that attracts them. Or is attracted to them but still be decent people mostly."
"I've written a few I know," Cougar said. "Dean needs one too."
Jensen grinned at him. "He only likes women but he doesn't really have a type. He's dated multiple ethnicities. Unlike some guys, he doesn't care as long as they're pretty and busty. He even uses some hair metal to get them into bed."
"That's how his daddy did it," Clay quipped. He considered that. Dean was like John Junior. His car, his old leather jacket, his music.... Maybe he'd have a talk with Dean someday soon about branching out a little bit. He finished his beer and got up to get another. Jolene was carrying food out and they went to help when she scowled. They knew that look. She was a fierce mother hen. Over dinner, Jensen babbled about Dean and Sam. Which meant Jolene wanted to mother hen them. That was a good use of that technique.
John was under attack. The whole city was. The shield was failing. He heard over the intercom that the ship was there and called. "I need those shoe boxes someone sent me ASAP, Ellis. Because they're not normal! Just send them to my position, now!" He hung up and fired on the group coming his way. A shoe box twinkled next to him and he grabbed it, moving to better cover.
He dropped the top of it and pulled out a case, unlocking it and letting it expand. "That needs to go faster," he muttered. He opened the case and pulled out the artillery, firing on the group. They went up. So did a wall but they could fix that. He loaded his pockets with the rest and hid the box so he could come back and the others couldn't find it. Then he went on a one-man war against the invaders. A few things weren't practical in the least but that was fine. The rest was nicely useful right about now.
When it was over, John was surveying some of his damage. Ellis stomped over to him. "Where did you get the sudden artillery?" he demanded. John pulled out a case and undid it with his thumbnail, hanging onto the handle. It grew and he opened it. Ellis gaped. "How in the hell did the military do that!"
"They didn't." He smirked. "My pack did that." He closed it and shrank it again, putting it back into his pocket. "Weren't there two?"
"Yes. The other's still in storage, back on a shelf I couldn't reach. I figured you wanted your cookies really badly before you died," he said dryly.
"I could use some cookies," he sighed. "Let me get the rest and put them into the armory."
Ellis stared at his back, looking confused. He went to find the others. "Woolsey, is Sheppard sane?"
"Mostly," Rodney muttered from his seat at the controls. "Why?"
"He said he could use some cookies."
"We could *all* use some cookies after the battle," one of the Marines said. "Sir," he added as an afterthought. "Or a hooker and since that's harder to get out here, we'll make due with cookies." Ellis gave him an odd look. "Post battle stress relief, sir."
"I remember," he admitted. He looked at Woolsey. "Did you know about the shoe boxes?"
"What shoe boxes?"
Rodney turned to look at him. "The shrunken weapons."
"Oh, them," he said flatly. "I have no idea. The scanners don't show anything unusual or how it was done. I'm thankful to whoever makes them for him but it's still disturbing."
"Xander can be a bit...odd," Rodney admitted. "But he's very good to his pack. Highly overprotective and things."
"Who is Xander?" Ellis asked.
Rodney smirked. "You'd have to ask Sheppard. I only know him through him. He's known Xander for years." The gate team that had been stranded finally got contacted and were waiting to come home so they brought them back. "We're cleaning up, people. If you see the shrunken boxes, hand them to Sheppard." They nodded, going to check in and help with the clean up. They could debrief later. Rodney sighed, shutting down the gate. He went to see the damage he had to fix. "Couldn't you have used the lesser things?" he demanded when he saw the damage in one hallway.
"No," Sheppard called back. "They only sent me the outrageously powerful stuff this time, McKay. I didn't have time to *tinker*."
"Fine." He got to work assessing the damage. "Order him to find more field battle weapons instead of those."
"We have no idea where he finds any of it," John said as he walked into view. "That's always been a mystery. One that drove Tony *nuts* for years. Mac and Horatio too. Some I'm sure came from dates but otherwise no clue."
"He needs to quit dating as well," Rodney complained.
"Sure you tell him that." He looked at the wall. "That wasn't me."
"It had to be you."
"It wasn't me. They tried to set fire to it." He touched the wall, brushing off some soot. "It was like a liquid version of napalm with the way it burned."
Rodney sighed, nodding. "It didn't cause more than cosmetic damage. How much did you cause?"
"A few walls have dents. One I ended up using something *way* too powerful and it broke a wall. I didn't see any critical components but it's near a transporter." Rodney groaned so John took him to look at his damage. Rodney hit him with the scanner at that one wall's damage but it was fixed easily enough. They went to calm down and check on their people. The battle had been bad and a lot of them were upset. A few were even petting the miniature boxes of weapons they had found. Maybe he'd introduce his crazy city's people to Xander some year. It might make them think he was more sane.
Maybe he'd introduce Xander to Ellis. That way the 'are you sane' looks would stop again.
Teyla walked up to John at dinner. "You need to calm down," she said quietly. "Go lay in the sun."
John stared at her. "I'm fine."
"You're on edge and it's making the others twitch." She stared at him. "Go lay in the sun."
"That's cats, not dogs."
"They can lounge in the sun as well," she reminded him with a slight smile. "Take Ronon with you." She walked off again.
Evan Lorne looked over from the next table. "She's right, sir. You could. Not like we don't all know," he said quietly. John pointed at Ellis. "I'm sure you can find a way around him, sir." He smirked. "Even the big, scary looking one can." Ronon glared at him for that. He grinned back. "Go sit on a balcony somewhere."
"Fine," John said. He finished dinner, got the special necklace from the box he kept them in and handed it to Ronon. The ones he usually had at his back had all gotten used to the sensation of changing so he could count on them in a battle situation. John turned into a large German Sheppard, which was probably a joke on his name by some higher being. Ronon turned into a Tibetan Mastiff. He was all muscle and fairly scary looking even with the furry coat.
They snuck out of his quarters and to the upper balconies. The sun was still out for a few more hours and it was good to stretch out and calm his mind. It also let him smell Atlantis to see if the scents were still good. He could smell the dead invader's blood but that was being cleaned up. He'd roam the halls later to check on things and people. He looked up as one walked past them, sniffing her. He growled. She stopped, giving him a scared look. He got up to sniff her, then her stomach, staring at her. He changed back, giving her a pointed look. "Did you want some paperwork to do?"
"You are. Not real far but your scent's already changing."
She whimpered. "No!"
"See Keller tonight."
"Yes, sir. I don't suppose...."
"You can help from the main base," he ordered. "I'm not risking you or it." She nodded, trudging off. John changed back and went back to basking in the sun. It did feel good against his fur. Ronon looked over at him. He knew, though he wouldn't say anything, that she wasn't the first. The other had taken care of it somehow. He didn't want to know, that was her choice, but it wasn't something he wanted to deal with. He had given her the pointed look at the condom box then back at her. She had figured out their uses or was now celibate, he wasn't sure. For being their shrink, she was pretty dumb. Ronon kicked at him so he relaxed and quit thinking again. This was a nice way to calm down.
One of the scientists was sniffling. She was clearly ready to cry. She flopped down beside Ronon and petted him. He glared but she was nearly crying and John knew Ronon hated to see women cry. So he put up with the ear petting for now. When she tried to hug him he growled so she went back to sniffling and petting him. John was staring at her until she looked at him.
"We lost one of our engineers."
John nodded and put his head back down. The rumors of him being able to do this had spread when Rodney was testing it in the infirmary. Somehow a totally locked room without windows had told the rest of the city that he could change shape.
Evan leaned out an hour later. "Sheppard, can I borrow one of those so I can bite Ellis?"
John shook his head. He changed back with a sigh. He had learned how to keep his clothes, which he appreciated a lot. "What did he do this time?" He helped the scientist up and let her walk off. "Stay," he told Ronon. "I'll be back after I bite him." They walked off together, Evan telling him what was wrong. John walked into the office, staring at him. "Get out of my desk chair." Ellis glared. John hauled him out of it. "What's your problem now?"
"You're doing more alien experiments?" he said dryly. "I just heard the nice rumor that you've been infected with another genome?"
"Yet, you *change*?"
"Yeah." He smirked. "That's the same sort of thing that shrinks the weapons." Ellis gaped. "By the way, O'Neill knows. I told him and Rodney sent him reports. He said it was handy to have in a field battle." He stared at him. "Go home." Ellis stomped off. John walked off.
"Growling, sir," Chuck quipped.
John shot him a dirty look. "He'd taste bad if I bit him." He went back to his resting and trying to relax. When Ellis' second was reported to be trying to track him down, John and Ronon went down there to scare them back to their ship so he wouldn't have to put up with it. Ronon growling and snapping was enough to make him running screaming. John and Ronon walked out there. Rodney came out putting on his own necklace. He changed down and they stared at Ellis.
"What are you, werewolves?" Rodney growled. Ellis backed into his ship. They could finish unloading the next day, when everyone was calm. Rodney was a Kuvasz. It was a Hungarian dog with a fluffy coat but was stubborn, smart, and liked to be mouthy when someone bothered 'his' people. "I would've figured you for something yappier." Rodney growled, moving closer. "Okay, I'll stop," he complained.
Radek leaned out. "I can get other if we need more pack members. Could use a good romp," he said. John looked at him. "I need more practice, Colonel."
"How can you just accept this?" Ellis demanded.
"Is not hard. Was gift to Sheppard from elderly witches at temple the Messenger sent him to." He shrugged. "He has made sure most of us in the field can handle it if necessary. Makes good sneaking ability and we can use it in field for battles."
John changed back. "It's really very handy. Radek, why don't you go jog?"
"Did earlier, turned my ankle." He smiled. "Besides, some people need to pet something to calm down. You will not oblige. Teyla will not or Ronon." Ronon glared back at him. "World would end if Rodney let himself be petted." Rodney barked at him. He smirked back. "Should find way to make you stay that way for few days. You are much nicer."
"I'll let you get petted later, Radek," John sighed. Radek left them alone. He looked at Ellis. "He's right. It's great when you're sneaking up on a group before a battle. Especially with as many hounds and hunting dogs we have on base."
"What caused this? Was it a radiation exposure?"
John touched his throat. "Theirs come off, mine won't. So we can switch as needed."
Ellis stared. "That's really weird, even for the SGC, Sheppard."
John shrugged but smirked. "I call it really handy and half the Marines like to lounge in dog form because it means the others pet them. That way they don't have to admit they'd like hugs."
"Figures," he muttered. "What did O'Neill say?"
"He wanted to see what he'd become."
Ellis rolled his eyes. "Landry?"
"No. I told O'Neill. Things this weird we go to O'Neill because he knows others in a special group I hang out with. Including his clone. They adopted him."
Ellis shook his head quickly. "Fine. I'm going to drink myself to death."
"All alcohol you bring should be put in the shrink's office. It'll keep the physics lab from trying to make their own wine again." He walked off. "Rodney, weren't you fixing things?" Rodney huffed but changed back and handed over the necklace. "You can have tomorrow to wander around and lounge while avoiding the petting patrol."
Ronon snorted as he walked past him. He smelled sweets and was going to hunt some down. Even if he did have to put up with petting.
John shook his head. He wondered what Xander would turn into but that could cause some problems with the pack, which he didn't want to start.
Xander looked at the principal. "I was being a good boy for a change."
"You managed to miss a class."
"I had a nose bleed and I was in the nurse's office complaining at her when she tried to get me to stop removing the blood bubble and just pinch instead of doing the nose tampon treatment."
"There's some people worried about what you'll be doing this spring."
"I'll be kicking ass, like usual. If the Council wants to send some fighters, I'll find them a spot so they can help."
"You make battle plans?"
"Yes, most of them. Why?"
"You aren't that tactical, Xander."
"That you've seen," he corrected. He smiled. "It'll be okay. How many did they want to send?"
"They wanted to handle it quietly."
"That'd be nice. What method were they going to use to close the portal?"
"Won't. We tried that at the invasion and those sort of portals don't close that way. They're physical, not supernatural ones." The principal made notes. "If you look in.... what was it.... Hedrian's Tale. The portal's about the same as that one only started by a different method. The ritual that particular clan of demons use is different and based on void magic."
He made that note as well then looked at him. "Are we expecting a large force?" Xander pulled out the laptop Sam had made him buy and found the vision files. He found that one and let him see it. It got printed and Xander grinned at that. "Is that the only one you've had?"
"Sam's had two. The Powers aren't showing something but I think it's something that'll try to smother the pack a bit, maybe fracture us."
"All right." He looked at him. "It's due around finals."
"I know, they're always in the spring. Or on Halloween." He shrugged. "I managed to do it before. I might ask to take mine a bit early, in case I'm dead or injured."
"That's something we hope you won't be."
"There's no surety of surviving a battle, Principal MacNash. I thought it was really weird I died in a car accident instead of one. But that was a plot too."
"Are you going to be so paranoid all the time?"
"Yes. I know the higher ups don't always like me. The new ones want me to be more like I would've been if I had never found hunting, which may have meant I'd have started hunting people instead. Not real sure. I wasn't particularly *nice* when I as younger," he said at the odd look he got. "Two massively drunk parents? Jesse and I roamed all over town anytime we wanted. We got into shit no one would've expected. Sometimes with Willow but a lot of times without because she was a girl and they didn't explore and get dirty. I wasn't joking. We were plotting a take over of the public library for not having comics but Willow's parents reappeared from a trip and screamed at us about that."
"Is she alive here?"
"They had her put in a hole for hacking so she arrested them on child abuse charges. One of the pack is having people study her to see if they can use her hacking skills."
"Oh," he said flatly. "Your friend Jesse?"
"Happy," he said with a sad smile. "Without a Sunnydale here most everyone got happier." He put his laptop back and looked at him. "Buffy died in a house fire."
"I looked her up." He stared at him. "Are you ready for the battle?"
"No. I will be by March though." That got a nod. "I need more time working on my stamina. And the tripping thing I did for the next year and a half."
"Just remember to set your watch alarm, Harris."
"I try most of the time." He grinned and left, going back to his next class.
MacNash called Rupert Giles. Since he knew and all, he could pass on the information. "Rupert, Reggie MacNash again." He smiled. "No, I talked to Xander about this spring. Including getting a copy of the notes he had about his vision." He faxed them to him plus his notes. "That's what I got so we need to plan accordingly. You know very well he can't let us do it. He knows we could fail."
He settled in to go over it with him. "No, he said it's the same physical type of portal but opened with a different manner, and that ritual calls upon void magic. He said magic didn't work and it was like the invasion's portal." He listened to Giles remember what had happened with that one. "Exactly. He said he'd help us if we showed up, or let them help him, however. He makes good battle plans? Even better." He smiled. "Of course. Back in class. He had a nose bleed so I used that excuse to talk to him. Oh, I know he'd be more than happy to get out of classes, but he needs to attend *some*.
"Yes, he said he's working on that tripping problem of his and his stamina. Good. Let me know if I need to go help. Do tell them not to go near him. He's still quite paranoid and he will beat them to death as he says. Thank you. Have a better day, Rupert." He hung up and went back to his reports. He called Sam down to see what he got out of his visions of the event. Plus any other seers they might know so he could get a better rounded account.
Daniel smiled at the team meeting him at the dig site. "Hi, guys. I'm Doctor Daniel Jackson." Clay nodded and shook his hand. "It's a bit weird."
"You work with Jon and Jack," Jensen said. "He served with General O'Neill, Clay."
Daniel stared at him then smiled slightly. "You keep that up and they're going to make you work for us."
"I'd be decoding ancient fucking code," he said dryly. "Instead of modern crappy code." Clay glared at him. "I heard we were meeting them and looked him up."
"We wouldn't have asked but the program is...busy with a lot of stuff right now and this is looking very important," Daniel told them. Cam walked over with Teal'c, shaking Clay's hand. "You two have met?"
"Yeah, I handed some of Xander's weapons to him," Clay said.
"John said thank you. They got there just in time." Clay smirked a bit. "Anyway, we're going to be probing the backside of this dig for something really important. We'll be underground most of it. Teal'c and I," he said, pointing at Teal'c. "Will be with Daniel because he gets into the damndest things ever."
"Sounds familiar," Roque said, glaring at Jensen.
"We get into things even he would consider strange," Daniel admitted with a smile. "Few things you have to know. If you see anyone who has a radical personality shift, their voice has changed dramatically and might even sound a bit echoing, or their eyes start glowing yellow, and it's anyone but me, tell me," Daniel ordered. "If it's me, tell these two." He pointed at them. "If it's a woman and you feel unusually attracted to her suddenly, tell the female soldier we brought."
"Like Xander's eyes did?" Clay asked.
"His are greenish, this would be a more bright yellow," Daniel said. "Same relative cause though."
Clay stared at him for a minute. "Why would anyone want that? I'm assuming we're here because someone would."
Daniel nodded. "Not only are there international artifact hunters, there's a few cults that don't want us to discover things, there's a group of industrialists and others that are trying really hard to take our project down before it gets in their way of wold domination."
"It never ends," Clay sighed.
Daniel snickered. "Some of them are hidden problems with the glowing eyes. There's also the usual desert threats. So if you guys can watch our backs, you can basically have a mini vacation out here. It shouldn't take more than a month," Daniel said. "I'm hoping closer to two weeks. General Landry is hoping one week but I've already told him that was unrealistic if we had to do any uncovering things." He clapped his hands and smiled. "We trust you guys to know how to handle things with and for us, yet not get in the way. Also not to say anything or freak out too badly."
"So this is payback for helping O'Neill with Max?" Roque asked.
Daniel nodded. "He suggested you because of that and your pack members. They probably wouldn't freak at this stuff if they didn't freak at anything Xander's done."
"Do we get the special weapons?" Roque asked. Pooch was staring at him. "Xander had two. I looked them over. Cougar stole one."
"Took three weeks to find how to clean it," Cougar agreed.
"We can make sure you got it right," Cam said with a smile. "Though you can't keep it and if we find out he has more classified weapons, they might recruit him."
"Cordelia said if you do, then he'll be in the wrong spot and everyone will die," Jensen said.
"The military doesn't really care what Higher Powers think," Cam reminded him with a grin. "And they'd stop all those things for him."
"No they won't," Daniel said. "The highers up do know, including about hunters. Jack, O'Neill, went looking when he heard why the kid was so paranoid about his blood." Clay winced. "And he kept looking all the way to having someone look at the files he carried from that other realm that someone else had access to."
"Abby?" Jensen guessed.
"Yup. He asked her to look them over. It wasn't pretty. He threw such a fit it wasn't pretty because someone was trying to do that now." He smiled. "Jack stomped them into greasy spots then let Gibbs arrest them." Jensen beamed at him. "So they do know about hunters. Right now they're wondering if they need to do something about them or not. They're hoping not but a few groups have been ordered to be on alert every single spring and around Halloween."
Jensen smirked. "I managed to crack all his encryption."
"Rodney too. One of his coworkers is a hacking goddess."
"Who?" Jensen asked.
"Miko." He grinned. "I ran into her work a few times. She is *excellent*," he said when the others looked at him. "That bank I said that someone had probed before? That was her."
"She's an excellent engineer." Cam smiled. "She's a quiet, shy thing. Until you piss her off because she's been taking lessons from McKay again." He scratched his arm. "We're expecting Dr. Hawass from the Archeology people sometime today. Because of the stuff we're busy with, we've basically got us and a few workers here." He pointed. "The camp. Suit yourself, create a perimeter, check in with me every six hours or so." He handed out comm units. "One tap is general, two is specific, say the name, three hangs it up." They all nodded. "Get settled. We'll be disappearing later."
"All right. Losers, set up camp, Pooch and Jensen. Cougar, Roque, set up the perimeter, I'll go check the workers." They nodded and broke apart to deal with that. "We'll check in at thirteen hundred," he told Cam. Cam nodded that was fine and Clay followed.
Teal'c looked at Daniel. "Is not loser something you call someone to hurt them."
Daniel smiled. "They're a team, like SG-1 is, that gets into a lot of trouble and doesn't always follow the game plans if it'll be better another way," he explained quietly.
"Each unit gets its own name," Cam agreed.
"I see. So it is not a bad thing with them, but still not a comfortable name for anyone else." Daniel smiled and nodded. "That is fine. Should we use the team name?"
"No. Use their names," Daniel told him. "Like with us. They're Army soldiers instead of Air Force and Marines."
"I can do so." He walked off. "That entrance is bothersome."
"It is," Daniel agreed, following him. "I still can't figure out that entrance key."
"It's musical probably," Cam sighed, following them. "That one had all sorts of musical stuff in his things."
"Good point. His temple did." They went to look it over. Dr. Hawass knew about the project. He had seen a few people snaked by a gou'ald larva. They worked well together and whatever wasn't their business they'd leave him.
Sam looked at Xander that night. "What're we doing for the holidays?" He nibbled on a piece of celery. He had wanted peanut butter celery sticks for some reason. Since they didn't have cabinets, a stove, or a fridge, he had to live a lot more on vegetables. Xander was living on more junk food.
"I figured you and Dean were going to find a motel and make your father show up for a few days."
Sam shrugged. "We could do that here."
"If you want to, I don't care." Sam stared at him. "I haven't celebrated in years, Sam."
"I know. You can celebrate with us."
Xander shrugged. "That's .... I'm not really comfortable with that. Maybe if it was the whole pack but you guys are a family and should do family things."
"We don't want to run you out."
"Really, I could use the time to go solve a future issue for someone." He smiled. "And us."
Sam stared at him. "Want help? It's not like we've really celebrated the holidays all that often. I think I gave Dean socks last year."
"Nah, I'm going to be the badass problem solver I am." He smiled slightly. "If the pack do show up, let me know and I'll come back more quickly but I was thinking since I'm going to be over that way I might just decide to hit a beach."
"You're going to Florida?"
Sam blinked a few times. "Why?"
"No. Human problem actually." He sighed. "She'll cause problems for the pack and I want her firmly not to."
Sam stared at him. "You're going to talk to Aisha."
"Yeah, I am."
"No, you're not. I'll tell Jensen."
Xander gave him an odd look. "I'm not going to do anything. Just talk to her. Maybe this time she and Clay can have their thing without the eventual death."
"No! Hell no!" Xander glared at him. "Let Cougar do that, Xander. He's already over that way. You can delegate some."
"I need to make sure the pack is going to be safe, Sam."
"Are you foreseeing your death or something?"
"No, just that something's going to happen that might fracture us a bit more."
Sam stared at him. "No. Let Cougar do that. She'll try to kill you."
"Yeah, she is my sort of woman," he sighed. "I was hoping she could introduce me to some."
"I think you're sick again." He ate another bite of celery. "Want some?"
"No." He shook his head, nibbling on his formerly frozen chicken wings. He had fried them at school before coming home. The teacher was nicely letting them store some stuff in one of the home ec fridges. They were still arguing about the kitchen's needed repair. Xander wasn't paying for a problem he didn't start. They had proof, the fire investigator agreed. The insurance company agreed.
They still weren't fixing it and Sam had turned that into the insurance company so they could get them for fraud. It was going to go to court next months if they kept not fixing it. They could make do with cooking at the school until then. The teacher had helped them a lot with cooking stuff. It was like private tutoring.
Sam was going to have to tell Jensen about this latest plan. That way someone could head him off. He could never ague with Xander. Xander always had his reasons, which he hardly ever shared, and they were usually the right instincts. This time.... He wasn't sure Clay would appreciate the hook up. Or that she would. Though she might know some women Xander would like.
Xander sat down to video chat Jensen that night. "Can you teach me to hack too?"
"Why?" Jensen asked. "I thought that as my job."
"It is, but I have time to learn new things in this life, might as well learn useful things."
Jensen stared at him. "We'll see over the holidays."
"Sam and his family were going to do something, maybe here. I was going to travel a bit since you guys didn't want to hold a pack get together. Maybe find a few easy European women. Get massively laid. Maybe even see some sights, since I didn't get to before."
Jensen stared at him. "We'll be back in December. Cougar and I are going to pop around." He grinned. "Don't even think about it."
He sighed. "Sam narked?"
"No. About what?"
"What am I not supposed to think about then?"
"Going to talk to anyone who was a problem before. You're sixteen, Xander. You have years to get into people's faces. Take the time to rework some things. You said your running was off-gait again because you were used to the compensating." Xander nodded. "So work on that and your martial arts and other practical skills. When we pop up over the holidays we'll see if I can teach you to hack or not."
Cougar leaned into view and waved with a smile. "We're figuring out soon if we'll be home for the actual holiday." Jensen stared at him. Xander shrugged. "Good. And no going after Aisha either," he said, getting hit with that spot of brilliance that hit him now and then. "Let Clay see if she's his sort of woman. He'd hate the hook up or help."
"I was going to make sure she didn't want to hurt any of us and see if she knew more of my sort of woman."
"We know plenty of them but we tend to shoot them," Jensen said dryly. "I'll see if I can smuggle one home for you."
"Thanks." Xander grinned. "If you guys can't, I'll still travel for a bit. Give Sam some family time."
"You might check, make sure the rest of the pack won't be suddenly showing up."
"John's not going to be able to get back. Danny and Don are in Miami on a lab trade. Speed and Ryan are in New York right now. David is still in Las Vegas hiding."
"We can all go to Vegas for the holiday," Jensen offered.
"He'd kill us," Xander said with a grin.
"Maybe but he could use the good cheer."
"Crime probably picks up for him too," Sam said as he joined them. He laid on his stomach beside Xander. "Are you guys going to be stateside?"
"Trying to," Jensen promised. "Pooch wants some wife time."
"Cool. Dean and Dad both said they'd show up here or we could pick a neutral location for our holiday dinner this year."
"I was going to find some dangerous girls," Xander said with a small shrug. "There's almost none here. Though I did find Ampata's traveling museum show."
Sam looked at him. "Don't wake her up, Xander. It'd be mean."
"I know." They looked at Jensen again.
"I'll try to bring someone home for you guys. There's some very pretty women here in Egypt."
"There are," Xander agreed with a smile. "If you can pack one, please do."
"I'll see if one wants to be a bad girl over there." He winked and looked back at the yell. "My turn on watch, guys. We'll see you soon."
"Bye," they said together and Xander hung up. Xander looked at Sam. "I asked him to teach me to hack a little bit in case it became a good skill to have."
Sam gave him a hug. "Nothing's going to happen to kick you out of the pack," he said quietly, giving him the cuddle he needed. "No matter what that breaking attempt is, we're still your pack." Xander nodded, relaxing. "Though I agree, you run funny." Xander snorted, elbowing him. "Want to go run with me tomorrow? I know it's Saturday but you can use the pool at the school too."
"Maybe." He moved the laptop and they snuggled in together. It wasn't sexual between them but it was comforting. Something that they could both use.
Back there, Jensen reset it for Pooch to talk to his wife and grabbed his gun to go on patrol. He ran into Clay having a smoke outside. "Xander was going to make sure that Aisha wasn't going to find another reason to come after us, but to see if she'd still check you out. I talked him out of it."
Clay stared at him. "I can hit on my own women."
"That's what I told him. He also said if you'd kindly help me pack him one or two he wouldn't mind."
Clay smirked. "I know a few in this area of the world who'd think he was a toy." He stamped out his butt. "How are the boys doing?"
"Fine. Xander's still worried about what the Powers are going to do to try to force the pack apart this spring. Sam's still trying to point out we have argued in the past and it didn't matter. Xander doesn't understand how teams operate," he said at the opening mouth. "His didn't to be honest."
"That makes sense. The patrol video you had didn't have them working together. No signals, nothing."
"No. It was a group of people working toward the same goal, not a team and Xander's so used to being pushed aside and doing what he has to do that he's starting to think that way again. Sam's trying."
"We'll hopefully be stateside by the holidays." He watched someone walk past. "Mitchell?" he called over the comm. "Your female soldier has eyes that light up like parts of Russia." Mitchell came jogging to check on her. "Go on the gate." Jensen jogged that way. Clay went to see if he could help. He had no idea what that was. "Is there any chance that there's some in a central american temple somewhere that we might run into?"
"We have," Cam assured him with a smile. "If so, call us. Keep them sedated or tied up. If it's a female larva they can emit a lot of pheromones to make men their slaves. Even in a male host."
"Charming." He knocked her out. "Will this kill them?"
"No, we have figured out how to remove them without it killing the host. Our docs will get her fixed."
"Jensen's on the gate."
Cam smiled. "We have better transport methods."
Clay walked off, not needing to know. They might try to recruit him if he knew too much. From what he'd seen, the fucking world was going to end and they were less sane than Xander at stopping it.
Xander looked at the woman who was substitute teaching English. He knew her, even with the bad hair color. He had known her real well. He smiled a bit and she gave him a dirty look. She clearly didn't remember. He might be able to change that. He let some of the danger vibes leak forward. Brought the hyena a little bit forward. She stared at him, looking him over. She went back to her lesson plan for the day. By the end of English she was still giving him some long looks. He hung back a bit, he only had lunch. "Miss Halestorm," he said quietly.
She sneered. "You're too young for me."
"You'd be surprised." She stared at him. He stared back. She growled and lunged at him. He dropped his bag and defended himself. "Here for a reason?" he quipped.
"One of the students is a problem waiting to happen."
"My roomie." He grinned and kicked her back. The guard came in and he waved. "She's after Sam. We'll keep it in here." He pulled up his old memories of her. She had been sweet in bed and he had kept her from shooting someone important the last time by making her squeal and scream. Though they had started out the same way. She attacked again. "Still favoring that right side, Helena?"
She gaped. "How do you know me?"
He grinned. "A really odd thing but I knew you before I got here." He winked and she fought harder. He got her pinned and stared at her. She growled. "You sound like my hyena possession," he purred. He sniffed her, then stared into her eyes. She was whimpering. "Such a pretty little assassin. Why does someone want Sam?"
"They said he's got things that could be helpful to our plans."
"No, that's me, dear." He leaned down to sniff her neck then looked in her eyes again. "You'd probably have used Sam as a bargaining chip?"
"They said he had smallpox."
"No, not him." She gaped. He smirked a bit. "But only bad girls are good enough for me anymore. You're clearly not bad enough yet." He stood up, staring down at her. He even helped her up. "We'll see you when you are bad enough for me. The maybe we'll finish this?"
She swallowed. "Who are you?"
Xander moved closer, kissing her. She moaned so prettily for him. He pulled off to stare at her. "A very bad boy." She growled. He smirked. "When you're ready, come find me. I can't promise I'll wait but you're ... almost bad girl enough for me." He grabbed his bag and walked out. The guard gaped at him. "Only dangerous women like me." The guard swallowed. He grinned. "You're nowhere near bad boy enough for me," he teased, making him relax. Xander went to the caf to get some milk, then outside. He waved at Jon on the way past him.
The substitute teacher/assassin was moaning and making complaining noises as she packed up her things and left. The guard followed her to her car, taking down her plate numbers. But it was a stolen one anyway. She took off her wig and shook out her natural hair. They'd never recognize her and now she knew her true target. He clearly knew who she was so she wasn't sure what his skills were. She saw him walking and stared. She'd have to get him later, when there were less witnesses. Though she would be yelling about Winchester not being the one they wanted. Plus why someone had suggested she tip that one into bed.
Xander took the risk, going out that night. He knew he was being watched. She was still around and wanted him a lot. He could appreciate that. Bad girls always gave him a better ride. Normal sex was fine, he supposed, but he needed the mega stress break and his meditation wasn't cutting it tonight. The scent of danger was keeping him from dropping all the way down.
The shaman he had trained with had complained about that until they realized it was an early warning system. And that Xander focused a whole lot better when he had gotten laid by one of them instead of a normal girl. So they let it happen when one showed up near them to distract the bad things and sometimes they'd send him out to find one. Tonight's, he might keep around for a few days. He did have tests coming up and the big state competition for the rifle team. She had been a good match for him in the stamina department the last time they had screwed.
He was still at his peak there. Though Sam was right about his running, he was still mentally compensating for the leg he didn't used to have. He was working the floor well tonight. He could sense her and another bad girl in the club. Hey, two on one was good with him. Well, that one turned out to be a vampire so he staked her and it was easier. He didn't do the undead. They might come back to stalk you. He turned and found her there, pulling her closer to dance with her. She sneered. "Prove you can handle me, Helena."
"How do you know me?"
He smirked. "In my real life, I knew you a few times, woman." She gaped. "I nearly asked to date you once because we were so well matched." He moved closer to her, dancing in her personal space. She was moving well. She always had. She had told him once that she had danced for years but she had grown too tall and too curvy for it. He appreciated each inch of those curves and the wicked mind the KGB had trained into her. She was moaning and happy with him, he could tell. He was happy enough and would be happier later.
She took him back to her motel and sneered. "All men are led by their dicks," she said smugly, pulling out a needle.
"No, not all of us." He snatched the needle and buried it in a wall, making her complain as he kissed her. "Some of us are led by our tongues and fingers." She moaned, letting him prove himself. A few hours later he was a bit sweaty and slightly tired. She was panting and very sweaty, plus ready to pass out from exhaustion. She went to get another needle. "Must not have done it enough. Like that time in Israel." He pulled her back down and went down on her again. She was making such pretty noises. She went limp when she finally came, staring at him. He rested his chin on her pubic mound. "Do we need more?" he teased, using a finger to tease her. "Because I can keep going."
"I give," she murmured in Russian. "Please."
Xander moved up to kiss her, then smiled. "You come back when you want more, Helena. I'm always happy to see you in my life. Next time, leave the needles at home and we'll spar first if you make me." He kissed her again, making her whimper. He laid down beside her, stroking her stomach. "You rest. I'll make sure whoever sent you doesn't bust in to kill you for enjoying it."
She stared at him. "I could never," she said, yawning. "How do you do that?"
"I'm amazing," he said smugly, smiling at her. "Maybe they'll leave you here so I can woo you properly, in and out of the bed."
"I do not date. It's an emotional attachment," she said flatly.
He kissed her on the cheek. "I know. That's why I didn't ask before. Maybe this time things will be different." She yawned again and drifted off against her will. Xander did keep watch over her until it was light out. Then he got up to find his clothes. She blinked awake, staring at him. He smiled. "Have to get a shower, change clothes, and get to class. Call me and we'll spar again?" He wrote his number on the hotel pad and put it into her bag. Then he strolled out feeling like THE MAN. Because yeah, he was.
She went limp, swearing a lot in all the languages she knew. This was not going to look good to her bosses.
Sam came out of the bathroom when he heard the door open. "Where in the hell were you?" he demanded. "And how many were there this time?"
"Helena. They told her she wanted to take you for your smallpox."
Sam blinked a few times. "*Helena*? Russian assassin, KGB hitwoman Helena? The one that you used to dance with and made the three guys in Prague hot with Helena?"
"Yeah. She was the english sub yesterday. She's napping off last night." He smiled. "Shower free?"
"If you want to use it. It's kinda nasty again."
"I'll scrub it later. I'm in a good mood." He went to hose off the walls first then took a shower. They had granola bars, he had warm soda, it was all good in his life. He even drove them to school. Something about Helena had always blocked his visions. He had never figured that out. The Principal came out to grab Xander. "Yes, Principal MacNash?" he asked as he was walked off.
"Who was she?" he demanded calmly as they walked.
"KGB. They heard too." The principal stared at him, mouth slightly open. "I nearly fell in love with that woman before," he sighed. "But she couldn't do attachment." He shrugged. "She'll be here for a few more days at least." He walked off when the bell rang. "Have a good day."
The principal sighed, staring at his back. He went to call Agent Fielders. "My idiot student that you know slept with someone KGB last night," he said when he answered. "No, she was here as my english sub actually. They had a sparring match after that class and then apparently they hooked up last night. He has that tired, yet happy afterglow going still. I don't know. I can have the tapes run.
"Yes, he said KGB. I don't know. He said he knew her *before*; he nearly fell in love with her but she didn't want to get attached." He rolled his eyes. "Yes, it's a very Xander thing to do. In town somewhere. Thank you." He hung up and told the guard to find a good picture of her. As if terrorists weren't bad enough? Now it was the KGB too? Harris and Winchester were going to drive him nuts.
Dean showed up during lunch the next day and sat down, staring at his idiot brother. "It's amusing when the FBI calls me personally to come put a leash on you two," he said dryly, making Jon choke. "Why are you dating a werewolf?"
"Because I can't date the KGB agent like Xander is," he quipped with a grin. Jon whimpered, giving him a horrified look. "Helena would probably say hi."
"Fucking Helena?" Dean demanded. Sam smirked and nodded. Dean looked around. "Where is he?"
"Probably skipping his last half of the day for oral sex, again," Jon complained. Dean gave him an odd look. "He hung out upstairs with a few girls about his second month here. Though he did say they were role playing."
"Knowing Xander, he could've maneuvered the game to let him do it," Dean said dryly. "The dude gets more bad girls than even Sammy does." Sam nodded, drinking his water. "Is she a brunette or a redhead this time?"
Sam looked where he was. "That's not her. Close but not her." He texted Xander.
Xander came down with Helena. "Sascha!" he cooed, pulling her in for a hug. He started to babble at her in Russian, making her look horrified and Helena whimper. "We should catch up somewhere away from the other students." He walked them off again.
"I used to be jealous of that power," Sam sighed. "But I decided I didn't want to spar before sex most of the time."
"Hell I'm that fantastic but I like mine a bit more sane and good girl than that," Dean quipped. "Wasn't she one of the older Minis?"
"Yup." They shared a smirk. "Xander struck again."
"There's no way two female KGB agents will sleep with Xander," Jon complained.
"Sascha was German CIA, whatever they're called. Then she got recruited by Spetsner."
"Spetsnaz?" Jon said.
"Something like that," Dean agreed. "*Before* Xander trained her slayer skills," he said more quietly.
Jon whimpered. "That's just... wrong on so many levels, guys. We should go save him."
Dean shook his head. "They won't kill him. The ones he sleeps with never want to hurt him. Even if they're under orders and they're ice in the veins sort. Helena got ordered to kill him twice and he just made her forget to kill him during the sex." Sam sighed but nodded. "Sascha got ordered to kill him when he showed up but he got her boss and taught her better. Somewhere in there she became a member of the Xander Fandom Committee."
"Sounds better in French," Sam said. "Helena named it," he told the confused looking Jon. "She was never sure how he did it. All the bad girls in the world love Xander, and if they love Xander they aren't going to let anyone hurt him."
"Helena took out a cell trying to remove Xander once and that was after the first time," Dean complained. "I need a woman like that."
"They're probably hiding on the third floor," Jon said dryly. "He might share."
"No, his girls are too bad for me," Dean assured him dryly. "Mine need to be a bit nicer than assassins and covert agents."
"Geez, I thought he was just goofy and slightly dangerous," Jorge complained as he joined them. "Who were they?"
"Probably here about the death threat, to fulfill it," Sam said, looking amused. "That is Xander's sort of woman." Jorge groaned, shaking his head. He stuffed his mouth before he could say anything. "Dean, why did the FBI call you?"
"Agent Fielders wanted me to find you two normal women who wouldn't require paperwork," he said dryly.
"The black widow in Denver didn't get arrested by them," Sam complained. Jon groaned, putting his head down, shaking it against the table. "She hit on me, not Xander. The local PD stepped in to get her."
"What about your *current* one?" Dean asked. "I'm not spreading that info because Dad will shit elephants for a circus."
"She has a very nice enclosure for when she's feeling wild. We helped her build one. Xander helped Oz with his."
Dean stared at him. "Dad's still going to shit elephants."
"Dad can butt out, Dean. I don't need permission to date. I'm not twelve."
"That was really generous of me," Dean joked with a grin.
"You were twelve when you started to date?"Jorge asked.
"Dean's girlfriend of the moment had a younger sister. So we slightly double dated. She kissed okay enough I guess." Jorge whimpered, shaking his head, muttering 'wrong' over and over. "I grew up a lot faster with all the traveling we did, Jorge. Dean made sure I was protected but it wasn't candy and all that."
The principal and Agent Fielders walked up to them, smiling. "Who was the other one?" MacNash asked.
"German," Dean said. "They're old friends."
"None of the ones he sleeps with ever want to hurt him later on," Sam agreed. "They're all highly protective of their evil girl magnet."
Agent Fielders stared at him. "At least yours is a lesser power, Winchester." Sam grinned at him for that. "Where is he?"
"Could be gone by now. Could be on the third floor," Sam offered.
"We can check there," the principal sighed, heading off with him. They weren't there. "I'm going to suspend him for skipping school."
"Maybe he'll reform them so they're better evil women who will want to protect him," Fielders offered with a smile. They checked the gym. They found a wig so they had been there. Now they weren't. "Anywhere creepy and not romantic?"
"The old field house but it needs to be torn down." He led the way out there. Evidence of people having sex but nothing recent. A whole lot of condom wrappers. "I'd never have taken a girl out here. I'll have to make an announcement. Maybe get Harris to rip it down." They paused when they heard a giggle. The principal stared at the cheerleader and member of the hockey team when they came into view. "You both deserve a cleaner place to screw than this, kids. Go find one." They ran off. He rolled his eyes. "Kids these days have no class."
"No, it's easier though." They couldn't find them so they waited on Xander to come back to school, because he had a test today, or to make it home. The teacher said Xander had popped in, done his test quickly, and then left so they staked out the house. Winchester made it home.
Sam walked over to them. "They're probably in a motel by now, guys. Sascha would *never* sink herself down to a bathroom, back room, or anything less than really good sheets because she's a bit snobby. Helena and Xander once got it on on a rooftop where she was lining up a sniper shot to hit the head of the Secret Service while on a trip. The agents just sighed and said 'Harris has her' and left them alone once they took the weapons from them. They used to send Helena as a distraction to keep Xander out of their way. For a while, every one of the slayers hated her so hard it wasn't funny.
"Xander nearly missed an apocalypse because of her. When she saw what was going on, she decided a tactical diversion of a blow job on the altar was in order. It stopped the battle, mostly because the slayers were watching and the bad guys hated that they couldn't use their special altar for the ritual. Faith killed them and walked off mumbling about how his taste in bad girls had gotten better. Buffy was mortally embarrassed and so was Dean." A car pulled up and someone parked and got out with a cast on his wrist. "Rodney. Problems?"
"They're making me take leave," he complained. "Something about refracturing my wrist when I beat someone with my cast for sheer stupidity that nearly got us blown up." He saw the other two. "Problems?"
"Xander's presently busy with a Spetsnaz and KGB agent."
Rodney winced, shaking his head. "Do we need to ask for him to be rescued?"
"No. His evil girl fandom committee would never hurt him after he fucked them stupid." Rodney shook his head with another moan. "Yeah, exactly. One showed up at the school day before yesterday and one today. There's no telling what's going to happen this time." He grinned. "We do have the spare room but I have to change the sheets. Dean used it earlier. But I did clean the bathroom yesterday so it's useable."
"I can help. Have a good night watching, boys." He walked Sam off, spotting the damage right away. "Did we have an accident playing with the explosives he's not supposed to have?"
"No, we had a blocked gas line that caught on fire."
Rodney looked at him. "How long ago was that?"
"Over a month. We're suing over it."
Rodney nodded. "I can talk to someone."
"The local manager wants to help but they're saying they're going to fire her for it. Even the insurance company agreed it wasn't our fault. Which is why we have a court date next month."
Rodney snapped his fingers a few times. "Paperwork. They won't listen to you because you're young." Sam handed over the folder. He sat down to read it over, then called the head office to chew on them. He had needed to vent anyway. Everyone said he was angry, that's why he had been sent back for some leave time.
Jensen got the email from Sam the next morning. He looked at Cougar, who was trying to pretend to be asleep. "Rupert sent Sascha and Helena to Xander. Apparently he wanted them to be happy." Cougar was now praying. A lot. "There's a Coptic church about three miles away, want directions?" Cougar shook his head, going back to his prayers.
Clay and Roque were on guard detail so it was Pooch who decided he should ask this time. It usually took a nuclear weapon to make Cougar pray that way. "Who are Sascha and Helena?" he asked.
Jensen grinned. "Post Sunnydale. When Xander was off finding the missing slayers." Pooch nodded slowly. "He ran into a very pretty KGB agent named Helena. She was technically supposed to hit him. Someone higher up was corrupt, wanted Xander's blood sort of situation. Xander only likes deadly, dangerous women. He's very aware of the sort of women he draws.
"So she comes up to him in a club when he's in Romania somewhere. Starts dancing with him. Serious interest there. They go back to his motel room. They get funky." Cougar shuddered. "Which brought the police. Which is how you guys met Xander there." He grinned. "Roque recognized her. He had some sort of watch list of women Clay would *really* like to get to know better at the time. This was four, five months before Bolivia.
"Anyway, he does her so well the natives complain that they're getting too loud. They bust in thinking she's squealing because he's hurting her. She shoots two of the local cops with his gun. Had tranq darts, which was nice of him." He shifted some. "Xander basically looks at her and shrugs, going back down on her. Made her really happy. Those two were pretty tight. He messed up *so* many of her missions that the higher ups started trying to predict when he'd show up. Then she'd be the distraction and keep him out of things they didn't want him in. They used it shamelessly to get together. Xander used to enjoy the hell out of freaking the agents out by showing up unexpectedly."
Cougar cleared his throat. "Rome."
"Yeah, Rome. Fucking Rome," he sighed, shaking his head. "Major apocalypse battle. They had been hooking up and he got the call so had to leave quickly. She followed. She thought it was another bad girl, which she wouldn't have minded since she vowed not to date because it was a job distraction she couldn't handle. They were so tight. For her last birthday he got her this little faux Faberge egg. It was about six inches high and dark blue enamel with gold chain borders. Inside was a miniature dancer figure with her hair. He had stolen some to have it made for her. She carried the thing with her everywhere."
"Sounds like a good relationship if you ignore what they were," Pooch said.
"That apocalypse battle, she stepped in beside him. He took a kiss and quipped he was just saving lives, like usual. She spent ten minutes shooting at the demons to help them. Most of us were there at that battle." He grinned at Cougar, who shook his head with a sigh. "She and Xander both knew that they needed a heavy distraction to stop the sacrificial rite. He was all for using explosives, which John did. She gave him a kiss, said 'I have an idea'.
"Cougar was nearer to them than I was so he was giving her a horrified look. We had *all* heard about her. He was really happy with her. That's why he let her take that minute to talk him into using the altar to unconsecrate it. She tossed him onto it, climbed on top, and went down on him. He told us she never did that. She did it for work and didn't want to do that for pleasure. So they didn't, but he enjoyed the hell out of doing the reverse."
"TMI," Pooch complained.
Jensen shrugged. "You asked. Anyway, the battle gets stopped by the high priest person shrieking that the altar was being defiled. The slayers are all staring in awe, they didn't know Xander enjoyed that stuff or that he was dating. She got him off and it fully defiled the altar for the sacrifice. Faith used the distraction to kill the demon they were summoning. The rest of us in the pack got the humans down.
"Buffy walked off with one of her fingers in her ears humming and the other hand mostly covering her eyes. She was more pink than her outfit and heels were. She tried to nag Xander that night but Helena just climbed in his lap to kiss him and told her she was jealous." He smirked. "She distracted Xander a *lot* over the years. Half the time the pack loved her and half the time we hated her. She hit on John Sheppard a few times and Xander actually pouted at her for it. It meant she sighed and gave in to four hours of kinky tied down sex from him, and screamed her head off the whole time in pleasure."
Pooch shuddered. "Wasn't the worst one," Cougar assured him smugly.
"No. That wasn't the most unusual moment they'd had sex. If Xander's mind was stuck on and he couldn't work on things like battle plans, he looked her up. He once overnighted to Brazil to screw her, which screwed up her mission horribly, and then flew back to finish the battle plans the next night. For *three hours* of really good sex. It came in handy. Rupert sent them to him because they made him happy.
"After he lost Anya he kinda didn't want to date ever again and they changed that. He was all for them dating if they wanted to but she refused. So Rupert was being nice. She tried to suggest him going a bit more normal. He pointed out he was for him. She agreed and said she'd catch up with him soon. She heard the whole story and somehow Rupert had files when she conveniently had orders. She had called Sascha to come too because they were extremely close and sometimes a trio when they were all in the same city."
"Sascha?" Pooch asked weakly.
"Sascha had been German BND. Undercover mostly against terrorists. Then the Spetsnaz offered her a job with a higher pay grade and less fucking for information so she went there. They found out she was a slayer when Xander showed up out of the blue to train her. They tried *really* hard to kill Xander for it but Xander's just Xander and he got her trained. Now and then they'd play for stress relief. She borrowed some of his contacts for her job now and then.
"They weren't as tight but Helena always encouraged them to get together if possible so she had time to sleep whenever Xander was around. She heard about the blow job to stop the apocalypse and nearly fell off a building she was running training on laughing herself literally sick. She said she would've just screwed him on the altar. It was conveniently there and that way she got off too. Because you always need one last orgasm before the end of the world."
Pooch shook his head to clear it. "He needs to date better."
"Women like that are attracted to him. He likes them back. It's not like good girls like Jolene like him, Pooch. We were all looking forward to the day the KGB told Helena to have some little spy babies. That way we could spoil the mini Xander's."
"He said he's infertile," Cougar reminded him.
"Yeah but Willow said she could make sure they were mini Xander's even if he didn't shoot the sperm. Even she, who was so uptight it wasn't funny, approved of Helena. So I'm guessing Rupert was trying to be nice."
"Did Clay hit on either of them?" Pooch asked.
"He flirted once with Sascha. She turned him down. That was before the imprint and Roque was growling in the background the whole time." He grinned. "That feisty redhead in Damask? That's Sascha." He found a picture and showed them. "That's Helena."
Pooch stared. "She's pretty.
"She's very pretty. Very smart. Used to dance." He grinned. "She was graceful, could handle about any weapon with grace and not lose her cool. Spoke English fluently without an accent. Spoke about ten others. She was teaching Xander Chinese and he was teaching her Swahili the last I knew. I have *never* seen a KGB agent cry, but she did cry when she heard he had been injured and lost that leg. We weren't there and she was working near us. I was the one who had to tell her." Pooch patted him on the arm and backed off. "I have never seen one of them even shed a tear at a broken bone."
Cougar looked at him. "She pounced him."
"Yeah, she left a job, a critical job, and went to spend time with him in radiation lock down. We were all expecting big things from those two."
"Maybe he'll talk her into slightly retiring here then."
"Maybe." He smiled at Cougar. "If so, we need to warn someone in Colorado Springs that they're noisy. That's why Sam wrote, complaining about the noise."
Cougar nodded. "Always were."
Jensen grinned. "Remember the time they flushed out the terrorists trying to kill Xander for destroying their pipeline?" Cougar tipped his hat down with a moan and a head shake. "They were taking a rest break from destroying another pipeline in Africa. It turned into sex. Normal, against some rocks sex. It was so loud the terrorists who were hunting them showed up to see what the hell they were doing. Then Xander set off the mines to kill them and she purred in his ear."
"They're insane," Pooch said. He walked off mentally whimpering. He was so happy he had a smart, *sane* woman like his Jolene.
In Miami, Don got the email from Sam in warning. He called up to New York. "It's Don. Tell Speed not to hit on Sascha this time. No, she's probably going home that way soon. Sam wrote and said Helena and Xander were louder than some frat houses. John's Rodney was there and said he'd heard orgies that made less noise." He grinned as he walked off.
"Yup. Rupert sent them. I'm not sure if I should go punch him in the nose or not, Ryan. Right now... he was probably trying to let Xander find some happiness since they were. Yeah, them. Thanks." He hung up, looking at Danny. "Rupert told Helena and Sascha about over there."
He considered that. "Did you warn Speed that she'd be coming so he could flirt again?"
"Yup. Through Ryan." Danny smirked. "Think it'll go this time?"
"They're both younger and she's tougher. Don't know. They might have a visiting thing going on. God knows most cities they were both in found out how noisy they were. He said whenever he visited her at home, the customs people there sent word to her bosses so they could take her off duty and things. Plus so they could warn the locals about the noise." He smirked suddenly. "Remember the orthodox priest who tried to break them up because her being noisy was against the way God wanted things?"
"Yup. In New York too." They shared a smirk and went back to work. Those were some goofy, happy memories. They loved Xander in goofy guy mode. He was sweeter, happier, and bounced less after a visit with Helena or Sascha. The pack loved them for that alone.
Rodney made it back to Atlantis, looking tired. "Sascha said hello," he said when he ran into John.
"Pretty German brunette?" he asked. Rodney nodded, giving him a dirty look. "That was a woman I would've poached from Xander." He smiled. "She came for him?"
"Got sent at him with the perpetual noise one."
"Helena?" he guessed. Rodney smirked and nodded. "Yeah, they were so noisy they nearly interrupted an olympic swimming match from the next building's roof."
"I would have doubted that account until I listened to them for a week."
"Long layover. Usually they only got a couple of days."
"Mr. Giles sent them a nice vacation ticket."
"Fucking Rupert," he muttered. "They good?"
"They're fine. Xander was dancing and crowing around that he passed a math test with an actual A. He didn't blow up chemistry. They made him go back to classes eventually. Cheered on the rifle team. Helped me bitch until they got a working kitchen again. They convinced the company to settle out of court. They also upgraded it so future residents would appreciate the kitchen."
John stared at him. "They still hadn't fixed the fire damage?" Rodney shook his head with a smug look. "How were they eating?"
"They're both in home ec and the teacher took pity on them."
"Good for the boys." He shook his head quickly. "Any other pack news I should hear?"
"Jensen's team was working with SG-1 on a dig site since everyone else was too busy."
"Jensen is ATA positive, and fairly strong," John muttered, starting to frown.
"Yes, we found out that all the gou'ald seem to adore Cougar and Clay as well. Four separate ones showed up to entice them."
"Figures." He shook his head to clear it. "Any other happy news?"
"Xander's adjusting better."
"It's the most time he's ever had to adjust to anything bad going on. Also the biggest thing. Before he had to get right with things within days."
"Sam's making him work on his uncompensation skills. He's still running like he was missing the leg and eye." John nodded. "Also, he's still certain that something will happen this spring that will split the pack at least slightly. I have video messages from Jensen and Cougar, Don and Speed, and David. Plus Sam. Sam talked to Tony but he said he's in the middle of nowhere on a ship. For some reason he got temporarily reassigned as NCIS afloat."
"That's gotta suck for him," John sighed. "Send me those when you get unpacked?"
"I can do so." He smirked. "They also sent you a box of candy bars."
John smiled. "I love the pack. We all fuss over each other." He followed Rodney to his room to get his treats. Rodney had things for some others but that wasn't unusual when someone went home on leave. John got to eat almost a whole candy bar before a problem cropped up. It was nearly miraculous.
Xander was found in the pool by the swim coach, again. He stared at the boy. "You're not bad, kid. You want to try out?"
"No," he said, leaning on the side of the pool to look up at him. "Sorry, I can't. It'd be unfair."
"Why? There's plenty of them better than you."
Xander gave him a sad grin. "Earlier in my life, I was on a swim team. The coach there wanted us to win so much he had one of the chemistry people work up something he put in the steam."
"That.... That was stupid of him!"
"Yup. Very. A lot of the kids got really sick. They managed to get most of mine out because I wasn't there for very long but it can still be found." He pushed himself up. "I like swimming, did before then, but right now I'm trying to uncompensate for an injury I had once upon a time."
"I saw you limping while you jog. Bad injury on one side?" Xander nodded. "You can work on that with the track coach. He's got a physical therapy degree."
"I'll talk to him. Thanks." He smiled. "If I could, I would, but it's not going to be allowed."
"I can agree with that reason. We have team practice until five most days starting next week. You can use it Saturday or tell me and I'll leave it open, kid."
"Thanks, coach." He left, going to talk to the track coach once he had showered and changed. Sam was still at practice. He found the coach and sat down next to him on the grass. "Coach?"
"Yeah, Harris?" He looked down. "Why do you limp when you run?"
"Because at one point in time I nearly lost that leg. The swim team coach just suggested I should come see you."
"Yes, you should. We can work on it. Any strength issues?"
"No, I've worked it harder to make sure. It might be the stronger side now."
"We can work on it after these knuckleheads are done."
Xander grinned. "Sam's not bad. He's very smart."
"Sam needs his attention altered." He looked at him.
"I only fall asleep on his shoulder during movies, Coach."
"I don't care." He looked out. "Winchester, did you turn something again?"
"Yup," Sam called back, leaning down to check his knee. "Damn things's swollen again too." He looked over. Xander was already coming over to check. "I came down wrong, I felt the joint slide."
Xander knelt to check it. "We'll ice pack it at home. Nothing torn or damaged, just swollen in shock from what I can tell." He stood up, looking at him. "Go stretch that leg so you don't stiffen." Sam nodded, limping off. The coach gave him an incredulous look. "I learned field medicine because I had to."
"That's good to know." He went to check on Sam's knee, the kid had been right. He got him a cold pack and told him to sit there. The rest of them finished for the day and he sat down to check Xander's leg for him. No reason now for him to limp so they'd have to fix that. It might help his tripping problem too. He did it all too often in martial arts club.
The martial arts instructor looked at his two odd students. "I want to see what you two can actually do. I know you're pulling punches with the others, thank you for that." He stared at them. "Harris, do I look familiar?"
"No. But I never met most of the Council. Only the ones who survived the explosion."
He nodded. "My brother's one. On a team." Xander rolled his eyes. "Exactly. Knowing what you two do, I want real testing to be done so I can correct problems. I can't help you when you're pretending to be normal guys."
"This is our first martial arts," Sam said.
"Not your first fight however and you guys hunt differently. I've seen Xander slip a few times into nearly staking someone." Xander nodded, looking down a bit. "So what I'm going to propose is a field test." They stared. "I'm going to take you guys to a local bar that has a fight club."
"If they know me they won't fight me," Xander said quietly.
"I know. I've already arranged it. There's three demons from off world that need gotten off plane anyway. I'm pitting you two against those three and whoever they bring. Probably just those three," he said when Sam opened his mouth.
"Type?" Sam asked. "Killed how?"
"They'd prefer you win and order them. If you win then they're yours to order."
"Granoliths?" Xander asked. The teacher nodded. "They owe me a life debt. I took out their insane princess before she could kill them all. So that won't work for me. They'd fight Sam." He looked at Sam. "They're damn good fighters. You and Dean should be able to take them out together."
"I can work that in," the teacher agreed. "There's also three hell spawn." Xander shuddered. "Two unfortunately female."
"I'm too tired to draw them," Xander said. "The other?"
"Pretty high in the ranks. Not possessing but winged."
"Not possessing and winged?" Sam asked, looking confused. "The higher demons all had to possess if they had wings."
"Outside of the Asian court," Xander corrected, staring at him. "And one guard in the African court that got traded."
"He is that type, yes. Which means he's a hell of a fighter. Usually neutral. He's hinted he wanted to test himself against you. I know you're still working on things and so does he."
Xander considered it. "Weapons? I'm always better with a weapon."
"I can suggest. Let me call." He went to make those changes and came out. "No axe, no stakes, nothing bigger than a huge dagger. He'll keep it at his arm fins."
Xander nodded. "Okay." The teacher smiled. "Let us go home, change clothes, get dinner."
"That's fine. Be back here at nine." They nodded, leaving. They could get Dean back by then. He wasn't that far away. The instructor smiled. It was good to see what they could actually do. The Higher Ups wanted to know. On both sides.
Speed looked at his new text message the next day. "Great," he said dryly, answering back. Ryan looked over from his current microscope. "Higher ups wanted to know what both boys could do."
"They attacked them?" Ryan guessed.
"The martial arts coach got them into a fight club thing." He looked over. "Sam said Xander and Dean are both ignoring that they're injured. Sam and Dean against the three worked out well. Dean is still like a male slayer and Sammy apparently got stubborn, or so he said. Xander took on a higher being." Ryan shivered. "He's got like sixty stitches but the one he was fighting was nearly dead. Sam also said it shocked the hell out of the demon when Xander went a bit feral."
"*Her*?" Ryan asked quietly, glancing around. Speed nodded. "I wonder if she nuzzled Dean like the last time."
Speed smirked and nodded. "I got a separate text from Dean complaining that she had wanted to purr on him all night."
"If we could get Dean to quit liking breasts, he and Dean might work. A bit dangerous, probably likes sex as much as Xander does. He's nearly as pretty as Sascha," he finished with a tease.
"Dean gets exasperated by Xander all too often. Especially when Xander gets a wild hair up his ass and goes off to handle things without warning or help. You weren't part of the pack when Xander headed off to find a cult that was causing the slayers problems without telling anyone but Dean stomped around for a few hours until he could get things together to help him. He swore up and down that he was chaining Sascha or another slayer to Xander so he never did things alone ever again. And one of the pack if he could get us to agree. Sam kept trying to calm him down but it did not work in the least. Every time he tried Dean got more and more pissed because Sam kept reminding him of all the other times Xander had done that. Dean also snarled at Buffy for screwing up Xander so badly."
Ryan shook his head. "I don't think it was just her."
"No, not just her. Willow pouted and stomped off before he could yell at her. Even Faith got a few bits and pieces thrown her way by Dean but Sam told him to stop it."
"That could be unrequited lust," Mac said as he joined them.
"No, Dean likes them busty and Xander likes them dangerous. Xander wouldn't care but Dean would throw a fit if he was suddenly a girl. And I do mean them turning Xander into a girl because strange stuff like that only happens to Xander, Sam, and Jensen."
"Who's Jensen?" Mac asked. "I've heard of the others from Danny and Don."
"Jensen is an Army hacker on a covert team," Ryan said with a grin. "He's like the hacker version of Xander, only a bit more dangerous. He can hack nearly anything. His team are all badass people who can basically take down a country if they had to."
"Another of the team is a pack member too," Speed agreed with a smirk. "We appreciate Jensen and Sam, they translate Xander into human sometimes. They also help Xander get over the trauma of always being surrounded by girls. There for a while Xander could name fashion designs." Mac shook his head at that. "Dean helped fix it but Sam's a bit more gentle of a guy so he can translate when necessary."
"It amuses us to no end when Xander does it on purpose to tweak at Dean's nerves," Ryan said with a grin. "Every now and then it becomes 'pick on Dean day' and we all get to watch them get him back for his really bad pranks."
"There are days Dean's like a ten-year-old boy."
"Who really likes busty strippers and porn," Ryan added with a grin for his coworker.
"Dean's version of hell would be a bunch of flat chested vegan lesbians who hated anything harder than Enya," Speed agreed with a smirk back. "Or a girl like Anya who was *really* demanding."
"Helena's still nice," Ryan said. "Did you get to hit on Sascha when she came through?"
Speed smirked. "Yes. She said I'm bad for her career." He gave him a smug look. "Has anyone checked on the two female pack members?"
"I chatted with Abby last night. Faith's in Boston and Xander said she got saved by someone. She knows, she got the same imprint, but she's settled there."
Speed nodded. "That's better for her. What is she doing? Better family?"
"Two guys saved her from a fight for her life with some pimp. They took her in and taught her to be family." He smirked.
"You're joking," Speed said flatly. Ryan shook his head. "She's their female angel?"
"Yup. That's Faith. Xander got the scythe and sent it to her."
"Aww. Still creepy. I can't believe Faith would do that."
"I guess they decided the name was prophetic?" Ryan said with a small shrug.
"Maybe," Speed sighed. "Still sucks. Is she happy?"
"Yeah. I wrote a letter and she said she was doing good, they were a family, she got their whole crusade and shitbags like that, her words, didn't really deserve to be happy."
"Are we talking about a certain set of people out of Boston who...solve problems?" Mac asked. The guys both nodded. "How do we know them?"
"Their angel, Faith, was our pack member before," Speed said quietly. "She used to be a slayer there."
Mac sighed. "That has to be bad for her. Plus, you guys are supposed to turn that information in."
"Faith said the head of the task force did know her. He's still throwing hissies about her being a girl."
"She kick his butt?" Speed asked.
"And then some. Which made her big brothers giggle madly from what she said." He grinned. "So I'm not going to nark on that. We don't tell on the pack. Jensen does covert stuff for the government."
"Hunting's not really a federally sanctioned career either," Speed added.
"I know. Fine. Try not to get questioned?"
"Definitely," Speed assured him." They smirked. "The one I hit on isn't staying."
"Yes, someone in the FBI was wondering how you knew someone who was BND."
"She got trained by Xander and I flirted with her a lot. The other was KGB and Xander's former kind-of girlfriend."
"Kind of girlfriend?" Mac asked. "Or shouldn't I know?"
"She refused to get attached emotionally," Ryan said. "It was bad for her. They were hell together though. Noisy, charged, could fight together."
"Caused a lot of hell when necessary. And on our nerves when we couldn't sleep," Speed added.
"Sounds like young love to me," Mac decided. "Are they okay?"
"They're fine. They had a fight club thing going on last night. They're all injured but not badly. Xander's got sixty something stitches. The other guy looks worse. Dean and Sam are both limping and bruised but the demons they got are worse and off this plane."
(100,000 words as of November 8, 2010 4:07pm)
Ryan looked at Speed. "Are we going to visit this Christmas sometime?"
"I think we're all visiting sometime except maybe John. He can't really just hop a plane. Jensen said they were going to try to be in the states so they could visit families. David's ready to shoot his lab's people. I'm not sure about us or the two in Miami right now."
"Tony might appreciate not being on a ship and Abby would want to see him," Ryan said thoughtfully. "I'll put it out to the others to see so we can get together for a few hours." Speed nodded that was fine. "Problems, Mac?"
"No, I just came in to ask how Speed knew foreign agents since someone looked very confused when they asked me."
"The answer and cause to anything strange in our lives is almost always Xander," Speed said with a grin.
"I'll make that note. How are you two settling in?"
"We're doing good," Ryan assured him happily. "The work's the same. No beach to distract us."
"Less shallow people and bookstores are nice," Speed said. "It's nice that people think a lot more often up here than they do in Miami, where hairdye is the explanation for brain damage."
Ryan mock-flipped his hair over his shoulder. "But I'm pretty and popular. You're not supposed to be this mean to me. I'm not supposed to have to worry about the hurting of the little people unless it's fashionably overseas. Why would I care that she walked out in front of my car on the sidewalk," he mimicked in a high pitched voice, cracking Speed up. "She should have known better. It's *my* car. She's not supposed to be anywhere near it because she's not like me and pretty, popular, and wanted."
Mac shook his head. "Tell me that wasn't a real case," he said.
"Don's last week," Speed said smugly. "Her second one. Horatio sneered at her a few years ago about not being all that pretty, or popular. That maybe she should consider plastic surgery because it was clear why she wasn't a trophy wife yet."
"That isn't like Horatio," Mac said.
"Well, she had plowed into the back of a school bus that had the audacity to stop to let off some children. Because everyone was supposed to get out of her way. Her specialized 'princess' license plate proved it."
"I'm thoroughly against eugenics," Ryan told them. "But there's days...."
"That would definitely clear out the population of parts of LA and Miami," Speed agreed.
"Yes but it raises ethical questions about what level do you stop at," Mac said dryly.
"They're all brain dead. If you have brain function you'd be fine," Speed assured him. "She wasn't even the first this week. They had one where Danny wanted to clear her ears with a baseball bat because it would fit. Apparently she was a bit kinky...."
"I heard," Mac said, holding up a hand. "I didn't want to but I did hear. Apparently Alexx assured him she'd die soon of it."
"Probably," Ryan agreed. "We had one last year that did." Speed nodded. Mac gave them an odd look. "He had an STD, it got into her ear, created sores, which got infected, and the infection killed her when it hit her brain."
"I'm betting it's the same guy. There can't be that many that like that particular hole," Speed said.
"I told Don that and he said he'd ask her if he ran into her again."
Mac walked off shaking his head. "Maybe you two should go on lunch."
"We're fine," Ryan said. "Next case is ours anyway." He got back to work. Speed was snickering. "They never get the interesting cases up here I guess."
Speed snickered. "No, probably not. I have to share that one with David."
"He'll probably cackle a lot. It might even scare his higher ups so they leave him alone for a few days."
"Maybe." Speed sent a subtle email to his account out in Las Vegas. Enough details that David would ask or assume and cackle grandly when he heard.
The nurse stopped the boys before they could leave. "Let me check the stitches, boys."
"They could use cleaned but otherwise they're fine," Xander assured her. "We've both had a lot before. We're really good at them."
"Yay." She pointed at her domain. "Now." They huffed but trudged in there, or limped in Sam's case. She got into the wounds to look them over. The stitches were again nice and neat. "Who did yours, Mr. Winchester?" Sam pointed at Xander. She looked at him. "You have a very delicate hand. More than I'd put per inch."
Xander grinned. "That way it'll heal with less scar. He'll never get a girl if he's got scars like I do."
Sam smacked him on the arm. "I have scars already and it doesn't matter to most of the ones either of us like, Xander. Quit putting yourself down."
The nurse looked at Xander's scars then at him. "Most women will pout about how bad whatever was. They might pity a bit but that's still cuddles."
Xander looked at her. "It's been a while since any woman I slept with just wanted a cuddle."
She rolled her eyes. "You boys rush into too many things."
"That's because boys like us don't usually make it to old age."
"Because you rush into things," she assured him. She got the last few checked and cleaned then let them head home. She made notes. There were a lot of scars on both boys and she worried about them. They did stupid things like date beautiful foreign agents.
to part 6
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