Xander looked around. It was Christmas day. No one was here yet and it was Christmas day. He was pacing. Where was everyone? Weren't they coming?
"I knew you'd be pacing," Tony said as he came out of the floo. "Harry said we needed to rescue him from the school and Ron's evil clutches. He was about to sweater him to death."
"I like his mother's sweaters," Harry chastised, but he was smiling. "She makes me very nice sweaters. Even if Ron was trying to get me to put on Ginny's." He smiled and hugged Xander. "Happy Christmas, quit worrying, Xander."
Xander beamed, hugging him back. "Happy Christmas, Harry. You too, Tony." He gave him a hug. "We finally have the tree up."
"I noticed it looked like the decorating fairy had visited," Tony teased.
Xander pouted. "I did the tree with the house elves and all the wreathes. I was raised with Willow. Is Gibbs coming?"
"Soon. I'm going to go back and get him in a minute once we made sure you were ready for us."
Harry looked at the floor. "Looks like he's been ready for hours." He smiled. "Let me get the others up. I know Dean and Sam are at their aunts' to bring them over." He went to call them. "Xander's feeling like we don't like him again because we weren't over at dawn."
"We're leaving now," Sam promised. "Give us twenty, Harry." He nodded, hanging up to call the others. "Xander's been waiting impatiently on us, Horatio. Sure, heading now." He hung up and got the aunts into the car surrounding his father in the back then the staff took them and the car, with Dean driving of course, to the gates of the manor. They opened and Dean drove them through them, letting the aunts get the full view. Once the wards brushed over them they gasped in pleasure. Dean parked in the barn and they got out, heading inside through the study. Xander beamed at them and pounced them for hugs, handing them cups of coffee and tea for the aunts. Then he shooed them into the tree room. They had moved couches and chairs in there.
Xander bounced in once the rest of them but Patricia, John, and Horatio were there. Horatio had needed to spend the day with his niece and Patricia had her own family. John had to see but he'd try to get down for the holidays. "Hi, guys. Anyone need refills? Or pastries? I think we have some."
"We're good to wait until lunch," Gibbs promised. He smiled, the boy was like every little kid at the sight of the tree. "You did a good job decorating, Xander."
"Thank you. I think I went a bit overboard since it's the first time I decorated but I guess it did turn out okay." Sam pulled him down. "Presents?"
"I'll hand them out." Dean got down to pass out presents, piling his in his lap. Everyone but Gibbs got one. Xander hopped up and came back with it and a few others, passing those out. Then he ran out again to get the last ones he had hidden, which had Gibbs' in it. "Locked them from snooping?"
"Yup. Willow hunts presents." He pointed his staff at the small piles he had made. "Can you send Buffy, Willow, and Giles' to them?" They disappeared. "Now John's to his staff?" Those two disappeared. He sat down with another bounce, finding the others had passed out the presents they had bought. Xander nearly squealed. He had presents!
Horatio walked in with his niece. "I didn't think you'd mind if Madison and I came to open our presents here, would you?"
"No, of course not. Hi, Madison, I'm Xander, and this is my house. Welcome." She smiled shyly, clutching Horatio's hand. "Here, I'm not taking up the whole couch, you can come sit with me. That way you can be comfy while you open presents." She climbed up with Horatio's help then he sat down to pass out presents. "Did you open some already?"
"I got two dollies and a playhouse," she said, staring at him. "What did Santa bring you?"
"I don't know, I haven't opened them yet. Horatio, in your pile is something Santa forgot to leave her and left here since he knew you'd bring it to her."
Horatio smiled, finding her present and the ones he had brought for her in the stack he was handed. "Thank you."
"Thank you," Madison said, smiling as she ripped into her first one. "Ooh, now I have twins."
"Or a little sister," Xander said. "Like Sam and Dean. Sam's a little brother." She beamed at Sam for being a little brother then dug into her presents. Xander watched the others. Dean was stroking the new gun he had given him. Sam was smiling at the removable hard drive he had gotten him since he was always on his laptop. John was loving his new weapons harness, combat issued and tested.
Madison poked him. "Aren't you going to open them?"
"I wanted to see what Santa got them." He opened his first one, making her smile and go back to her new toys from Horatio.
Horatio looked over since his was on top of the pile. "I thought you might like that."
Xander smiled. "I do. I needed to know the history of guns. I've only dealt with current ones and I should know where they started." He gave him a hug. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." An owl flew in and dropped off a few presents that resized themselves. Sam gave it some owl treats and it flew off again. "Thank you!" Horatio called after it.
"Xander, we love the new scarves," one aunt told him. "They're absolutely darling to wear in the spring time." He beamed and dug into his next present. She smiled at Dean, who had helped them pick out something for the boy. Looks like they were right about his tastes.
Xander held up a bright blue shirt, looking at it. "Thank you, Stella."
"You're welcome. You need cute shirts for dates and stuff."
He looked over. "Don coming for lunch?"
"If he can get away from his parents. They're being pushy today."
"That's cool. He'll call first so we can find a place for him to get in?"
"He will I'm sure." He nodded. "Horatio, no Speed?"
"He'll be in for lunch. He was helping Eric corral his nieces and nephews this morning. They called in support personnel since there's two new ones thanks to a recent marriage."
"Big families can be wonderful," Harry said. "Ron's mum has seven kids. It's like a circus some days but it's wonderful."
Xander zapped someone out the window. "Use the whole quote or I'll have you fired!" he shouted. The reporter ran off. "Sorry. Not even the Daily Prophet."
"We'll fix it if they do say something," Harry said, going to write a note to Mrs. Weasley and Ron. Just in case. Then he came back to finish opening his presents. Stella had gotten him a nice outfit too. "Thanks, Stella."
"You especially need to have good stuff for dates. It shouldn't be too bad for dates this summer either."
He blushed a bit. "Now that I know how and why you do things with girls, that might happen."
"What do you do with girls?" Madison asked.
"So far all I've done is play games like chess. Even the girls I know beats me at it." She giggled and hugged her uncle's arm. He opened Xander's and found a chess set of his own. "Thanks, Xander."
"I know you were saying that you were always playing chess with Ron. I thought maybe having your own set would help you win against him finally."
"I think it'll take someone who knows strategy better than I do."
"I don't play," Xander told him. "Never learned."
"I do," Dean said. "We'll play after lunch or if there's a gap between presents and lunch." Harry nodded, smiling and opening the next one, making him giggle and hide it behind him. "Sammy and I figured you'd need practical help with that stuff."
"Probably, yeah. Thanks, guys." He gave them both hugs and got back to it. He'd hide the 'one thousand and one pickup lines that will get you that pretty witch you want' until he got back to his room. Xander squealed and rubbed a new spot. "Another bum pinching hex?"
"I think it was Willow." He rubbed the spot. "It's a nice working robe," he called. "You said you needed a new one and it's dyed with natural dyes." He went back to it. Stella gave him an odd look. "Wiccans wear all natural robes to work in. So I found her a new one. It's in light pink."
"Ah." She nodded, getting back to her opening, smiling at the ones she got. Sam and Dean both smirked when she opened theirs. "Thanks, guys, I needed new flimsy stuff."
"As far as we know, all women love that stuff," Sam said. "Jess did." The gift certificate should let her get something nice. They went back to opening presents, Sam smiling at his newest one. It was a copy of an anti-shock and bouncing spell. "Thanks whoever gave me the charm for the laptop." That got a smile from Mac. "We need it now and then." That got a nod and they went back to opening. He was watching Xander's face. He saw when Xander got to theirs. He blushed and put it under his thigh. "Welcome."
Xander grinned at him. "Thank you. Will the harddrive work? If not I've got the receipt."
"It should work fine, Xander. Thank you." Xander beamed and went back to it.
Gibbs laughed as he opened his last present, Xander's. "Thanks, Xander, I needed a leash for Tony sometimes."
"It's a veela hair leash. It's to help hold onto them when they get snatched by someone who wants the seductive little half-creatures."
"Well I am attractive enough to be one," Tony said.
Sam gave him a nudge. "Behave."
"Because you should. Veelas are like sirens, Gibbs."
"He gets a lot of women but not that much." He looked at it then at him. The package even had a matching collar with green stones. He smirked and held it up.
"Sure, next case at an um..." he trailed off when Horatio coughed. "Club we'll let you do that for me, boss."
"It's got a micro transmitter in it," Xander told them. "I knew you'd need it for an undercover sometime." He gave them an innocent look, making Gibbs cackle.
Willow appeared. "Where's Tara's?"
"It should've come in the mail by UPS yesterday."
"Thanks." She hugged him. "And for the robe. And Buffy said for the cute outfit." She disappeared. "Tara, honey, yours was on the UPS truck no one got the stuff off of." She nodded, accepting that she'd get it in the morning.
Xander grinned. "I got her something special and food." They finished up and a house elf came in to ring the bell. "Lunch?" It nodded so they followed to the formal dining room. He smiled at Madison. "Let's see if we can find you a pillow since the table's awfully high. Before anyone ask, yes, this is a new table. Not the one we found when we walked in. That one was burned."
"Why?" Madison asked.
"There were some bad stains on it, sweetie." A house elf appeared with a wooden bench like booster seat. "That's new or wasn't in use when we opened the house?" It squeaked and left again, coming back with something else. "That should work. That's from my bathroom so I can look at something on my belly in the mirror." She giggled, sitting on the small step. It made her a bit too tall but that was fine. "How's that?"
"Thank you, Xander."
"You're welcome." He looked at the others. "Speed?"
Horatio called. "Are you done? Lunch time." He smiled and let his staff bring him. He smiled at his comfortable, slightly loose jeans and scruffy t-shirt. "The kids run you over?"
"They were playing 'knock Eric down and tie him up' when I left." He sat down on Madison's other side in the free chair. "Hi, Maddy."
"Hi, Speed." She gave him a hug. "Were the Delko kids mean to you?"
"They were mean to Eric. I refereed so they didn't leave him tied up for too long." She giggled. Don Flack appeared after texting Stella. "Morning. You look rumpled."
"Mom was throwing a fit."
"We would've understood if you stayed with your family, Don," Xander pointed out.
"Not at me. At the neighbors who were playing new age Christmas music. I had to hold them off from the fight. Ma nearly brained her for being pagan. The patrol officers were amused and Dad got her calmed down and apologizing. So it's all good. She was too flustered to cook anyway." He smiled. "Hi again."
"Hello, Don," Aunt Cordelia said happily. "Are your parents all right?"
"They're fine. Dad said they're going to cuddle in the light from the tree. He said they used to when they were my age and gave me a pointed look." Stella blushed. He grinned. "Dad's bad about hinting."
"He can be. He bluntly asked me what was wrong with you."
"You tell him the truth?" She nodded. "I wondered why he wanted to know which prison he was in." He patted her hand. "Who's the cute thing in Pooh, Horatio? I didn't know you were dating."
Madison gave him a funny look. "You're strange."
"No, that's Xander's job. I'm a Don. I'm a detective with Mac and them."
She looked at her uncle. "Xander's strange?"
"In a very special way and only when he's too hyped on sugar," he assured her. She laughed and the elves trooped in with food. "Are we expecting Draco and his future wife?"
"They're having a dinner today. I told him he could call if he wanted me there but otherwise to enjoy some alone time with her family to get to know her better. I had to step in to stop a break up when she complained about all the snake stuff. He told her about his house and what it meant locally and to his family especially. So she understands now and told him she loved horses. So he's getting her horse related stuff instead. He had to change out two presents at the last minute." The house elves brought out the ham last, two of them carrying it between them. They set it in front of Xander. "That looks great, guys. Thank you." They nodded and disappeared. He looked at the coating. He plucked out the hair he found. "Sorry, must've shed." He looked at the massive thing. "I'm going to screw this up, I'm sure of it." He stood up to carve the thing.
"Across," Horatio said quietly. Xander did that and then looked at it. "That's a bit pink," he agreed. They carried it back in there. Horatio leaned down next to one. "What else dropped?" She whispered back. "Don't do that to us again." She nodded, going to get those things. They walked back out there. "Sorry, the ham wasn't quite done yet. The other stuff either. So we'll have a meatless Christmas."
"We can have ham sandwiches later," Speed promised, smiling at him. He looked at Xander. "One thing always has to go wrong, Xander." In the kitchen something fell to the floor with a crash. "Like that." The aunts headed back to help them, gasping at the mess. "It'll be fine, right?"
"It'll be fine, dears. They just have to remake some of the pies." She glared at them and they went to buy some. She came out. "Xander, maybe you should have a house elf that just cooks, dear."
"I probably should. I think Draco traded me his elf that was getting clumsy for one of mine." That got a nod from most everyone. "I can go tomorrow so the next thing we do won't have any accidents." They all dug into the reduced meal. Which still had game hens, two other types of stuffing, and a lot of vegetable dishes. Plus a few bowls of fruit and candied yams. The usual rolls were there and Danny found a house elf hair in the middle of one but that happened when you cooked. Yes, Xander would be getting a cooking house elf tomorrow, just so no one could say anything. He wanted to cry but Danny laughed it off and it was good. No one was worried or upset. So he could relax.
Dean was on his right and patted him on the wrist. "You did an amazing job," he said quietly. Xander relaxed and smiled. "Next year's will make us all beg for mercy by the desserts."
"Sure. It'll be better next year for Thanksgiving if anyone wants to come over. It's not even Buffy's celebration curse. No one's invading." John choked. "Are they?"
"Over there. Someone's trying to open the hellmouth. She did walk around hoping out loud that nothing happened at this celebration. Zombies for her birthday?" Horatio coughed. "Sorry."
"A few of the other kids decided to dress up specially for her birthday one year." Horatio shook his head. "They did."
"I'm sure they did." He cut up some of the game hen for Madison, handing her plate back. "There you go, sweetie."
"Thank you, Uncle Horatio." She ate a bite. "Is that chicken? It doesn't taste like chicken."
"It's game hen. It's like a smaller chicken."
"Oh." She ate another bite. "Still good." She finished up, looking at the red stuff. "Is that like the stuff in the can?"
"Um-huh." She nodded, digging into it. It wasn't too bad, even if she did find a bit of fluff in it. Horatio looked at Xander over her head, getting a helpless look back. "I guess the house elves must've done what Mommy did and tripped."
"Probably, or one forgot and was rinsing out the cloth next to it," he said, checking it for her. That dish got taken into the kitchen too. He smiled at Xander when he came back. "Not your fault."
"I'm kinda glad Patricia isn't here, or Draco. They'd be screamed at."
"Possibly." A house elf came out with a clean dish of the same sauce. Horatio handed over the bit of fluff and they withdrew with it and a plate of the game hens. "It happens," he said.
"I never noticed," John said. He shrugged, looking down at Xander. "It's your first one, it's supposed to be a disaster. Our first holiday after being married, Mary nearly burned down the house with the turkey and did set the drapes on fire with the stuffing. Then the freezer and fridge blew on Christmas day with the rest of everything in it, in the middle of the night so we never noticed."
Dean looked at him. "Was she pregnant with me?"
"No. Just before. I comforted her from the mess that had happened with her parents on their way over. We went to a nice buffet instead. Then I came home and calmed her back down. I'm pretty sure you were started then. Sammy was your mom deciding she wanted to change diapers again. I thought she was insane but she said she wanted to change more diapers. Put it just like that." Sam groaned but Xander patted him on the back. "All the quirky nature comes from their mother, Xander. Cherish it."
"I do. They get my jokes."
"That's always a good thing," Danny agreed. It was so cute watching Xander like both brothers. "So, John, anything good with the setting up?"
"Well, we've finally weeded out all the weapons Xander had confiscated in Sunnydale. The ATF in LA got done with the destruction run yesterday. The one in Cleveland was the day before. It went just fine. We kept most everything but some of the nastiest of the higher artillery. Gibbs?"
"The samples I took were liked a lot, kid. Then Pentagon thought they were good adaptations and easier to carry in a combat situation. They also that the ammonia grenade was a great idea. Cleared a test building very fast and it wasn't that hard to duplicate."
"I had to use stuff I could get easily. I'm glad they liked it. We did save some for patrols?" he asked John.
"I saved about ten of each thing just in case, kid."
"Okay. If you need more, let me know."
"Ammonia gas grenades?" Speed asked him.
Xander nodded. "There was a bad thing that was bothering Sunnydale that needed that sort of scent to make it behave better and leave people alone," he said delicately, looking at Madison, who was busy eating and not paying attention. "It was easier and more practical than a glass jar. I had Willow mix me some and inserted, then made sure it'd work. It worked very well and he was much better after he went away. Never did come back to bother another thing." He ate a bite of dinner.
Horatio shook his head. "I'd like to see some of them. That way I know what they are if they show up in Miami."
"If they do, I'm coming back to beat a slayer for it," Xander quipped. "John, did anyone like my suggestion?"
"The girls all called him creepy but he knew his stuff. He's the one I liked and so did Giles. His twin brother is running the range while he runs the gear shop and the armory. Where did you meet them?"
"Jesse used to talk to them when he was younger. It was one I kept up after he died. They turned into mega gun geeks since their father used to do some customizing work for a gang. They're still straight but they know everything up to and including light artillery. The other stuff they were still studying."
"We have a former Ranger doing PT," John told him. "He can help if he has to." That got a nod. "It'll happen, kid. Don't worry so much."
"At least one of those jobs would've been mine."
"You're handling things over here. That's more important for the moment. Has the twit come over to talk to the girls locally?"
"Tried to bring her back by force. He's in jail and I went to yell at him," Xander told him. "Then I summoned Giles over for a talk about how that was not how they did things. The man was very sorry by the time Giles got done yelling at him and left him there. Which we all thought was pretty fair."
"Wotcher, Xander," Tonks called as she came out of the floo.
"In the formal dining room, Tonks." She came that way. "Dinner?"
"Watcher invasion." He laughed because not that different sometimes. "A few of the old liners who want their guy back."
"Did. They decided they hadn't voted him the new head."
"Then I guess they aren't watchers anymore, huh?" Xander said.
"I'll come, Tonks. I've been dealing with them," John offered.
"Nah, they want Xander. They think he'll stand up for them."
"Excuse me for a minute. Let me go spread some holiday cheer." He stood up and took something from John. "I'll bring it right back." He went back with her, coming out of the floo in the auror department. He looked at the watchers, who were staring at him. He lifted the gun and shot one in the leg, the other in the shoulder since he was moving and the third in the ankle. "It is Christmas day," he noted. "This is incredibly rude at the best of times. Today is it unforgivable. You all voted Giles in. Deal with it!"
"I did not vote," the one holding his ankle whined.
"That's your fault. Either you follow the rules or you're not watchers. Take your pick."
"He was doing..."
"Things the wrong way. The way that got many of the slayers killed way too early. Congrats, you made it so they went though so many girls. If you had done what Giles did, think how long they would've lasted since Buffy was called at fifteen and she's now twenty- two. Longer than any other slayer *ever*." They cowered so he walked over. "The rules state that the girls are to be talked to, see if they want the training. If they don't, you are to leave them with their families or whatever unless they are in a dangerous situation. Was she?" The girl, Ginny Weasley, shook her head. He looked at them. "Even the magical ones are to *offered* the chance to train and if not, they can be given the usual regimen's outline and some local teachers suggested. If they want to go back, you report it to Giles in Cleveland and then arrange for their travel expenses as well as briefing the parents where the girls will be. What part of that did you not understand?" he finished with a snarl.
"She's being taught magic instead of slaying," the one with the thigh wound defended.
"There's four schools in this country to teach magic like she's learning. She's not a witch like Willow, she's a witch like Merlin. With a wand. Get over it!" They flinched back. "Yes, there's plenty of witches like her who were skipped over before. The old methods of training broke them the wrong way and then accidental magic killed the watchers with them because they weren't training it."
"It's wrong to put them all together," the one with the shoulder wound argued. "What if she comes back?"
"How would the First Evil come back? Has there been a botched resurrection?" They slowly shook their heads. "Has anyone unburied the seal in Sunnydale?" They shook their heads faster. "To call the one that had all those watches and pre-slayers killed would take another botched resurrection in the proper way. Then they'd have to unbury the seal. It won't be happening. No one is unburying the seal." They slumped down. "Now, the orders that got sent were to politely talk to the girls, tell them about the gifts they now have, talk up the training to her and her family so she can make an informed decision. Did you do that?"
"They stomped in like they bloody well owned the house and tried to remove me by force while pointing those things in your hand at my family."
Xander glared at them. "That is attempted kidnaping with a lethal weapon, gentlemen. I'm sure Giles will be happy to forward your unemployment forms to you for the prison officials to sign."
"You'd let her stay?"
"Yeah. All witches, all of them, over a thousand of them total, are being taught here. There's academies for magic all over the world. She goes to a really ancient one with a piss poor curriculum. So?" They whined. "Tough and suck it up. I've had worse and went on patrol," he sneered. "Arrest them. I'll call Giles once I get home. Those things in their hands are cleared and made safe this way," he noted, doing it to their weapons to show the aurors. "They're guns."
The head auror nodded. "I'd like to learn about them."
"You can ask me or any Winchester."
That got a nod. "Thank you, Mr. Harris."
"We're going over the education stuff starting this summer. If there's something you guys want to see in kids who want to be aurors, let us know. Ginny, do you need escorted home?"
"Mum would like some answers."
"Sure. Are you done with her?" They nodded. "Let me or Sam know if they cause more problems. Their father's working with Giles. This is an old school versus new school issue." He walked her back through the floo, looking at the worried looking relatives. "They're very sorry, they're in jail, and I got a good rant about how Giles had changed the rules because he didn't like how they used to do things like that. I'm going to call Giles as soon as I get home and he'll be here soon to offer his own apology for the idiots."
Molly swallowed. "They said Travers demanded things like this."
"Travers is dead, Mrs. Weasley." She gasped. "He fell to a bringer." She slumped but nodded. "The new way, since Giles is in charge, says that the girls are informed, talked to, given the information to make an informed decision, and then she's allowed to make it with her family. Giles will be beating them like he did the last one." She nodded. "It's only been a few months and he's still consolidating power and finding all the hiding bastards. He's letting it be known but the Watchers Council was about as big as the Ministry. It takes some time to get it through some thicker heads. Now, the weapons they pointed at you, if you should need it, this is how you take them. This part fires and the bullet comes out of here." She nodded at that.
"So you block them from touching this area. This switch or something like it is on every gun. It makes it so it can't fire. If you see another one, you block the trigger, you take it from them without touching the trigger, and then you flip on the switch. You do this," he said, showing her. "That removes the bullets. Then you put them down and let someone more skilled handle it." She nodded at that. "I'm certain Giles will be very sorry they did that to your family. They are in jail on attempted kidnaping with a deadly weapon charges. If more come back, you floo me. Got it?" She nodded, smiling at him. "Oh, if you hear Harry said a bad thing, he didn't, the reporter that I found lurking outside this morning misquoted. He sent an owl."
She nodded. "I'll let you get back to your lunch. Be safer and expect Giles soon." He left, going back to his house. "Done, Tonks. John, let me clean it." He went into the office to do that while he called Giles. "I had to shoot three of your idiots," he said in greeting. "Who're you to be answering Giles' private line? Xander." She shrieked something. "Hey, Giles. Young slayer?" He laughed. "That explains it. I had to shoot three of them who said Travers would've approved of them kidnaping a young witch at gunpoint from her family home for learning magic and that storing them all together was a bad idea in case the First Evil came back. I educated them after I injured them." He swabbed the inside of the barrel. "Then I gave the aurors a bit of a tutorial on how to make a gun safe. Three of them. Now you have two matched sets and I said you'd come to apologize to Ginny Weasley in person and fire them. Yeah, her. Horrified she was learning magic. Yup. I said within a few days. If more showed up to floo me and showed her mother how to disarm the gun. Thanks, Giles." He hung up and walked back out once it was back together. "I owe you three bullets, John."
"That bad?" he asked, taking it back to check before putting it back into the holster.
"Three of them tried to kidnap a witch from her family home at gunpoint because she was learning magic and it's a bad idea to have them all together in case it happens again. I injured them then I educated them. Then I scared a young, female Watcher when I called Giles. She's not happy since I told her I injured them for it. They're going to jail."
John nodded. "Sounds handled."
"The aurors have no idea what to do with those. I gave a short tutorial. And one to Molly Weasley." Harry choked. "They went after Ginny. I showed her how to block the trigger guard and then take it, put on the safety and how to expel the clip." That got a nod. "She'll floo if more show up."
"Teach me too?" Harry asked.
"I'm teaching you and I can teach them," Dean promised.
"I told the aurors to ask me or one of you three," Xander told him. "If you want, I'll let you."
"It'll give me something to do while we're looking for a new bad spirit to deal with." He ate a bite of pie, using his fork to point. "Eat. Get bouncy with Sammy and Madison."
Xander smiled. "I can do that." He dug in. "The aurors were not sure what to do with them. They had them waiting on me when I got there." Tonks nodded since she was eating a bite of cake. "Many of those?"
"One other. The witch stunned him and ran. We called that Willow girl, who ripped them a new one and took him back to be beaten for us. We figured it was worse than a few years in prison."
"Possibly. It's like getting new laws through the Ministry if half were hiding and pining away for Fudge."
"We have that in some departments now. Speaking of, we're bringing you a list of departments next meeting to have you guys look at. Some we're not sure why we have them."
"I'll gladly schedule you or your boss some time," Horatio promised. "We've wondered about a few of them ourselves."
"I still wonder what that door on the second floor is," Mac said.
Tonks looked at him. "Which one?"
"Oh, goblin embassy."
He nodded. "Why do we have a full one?"
"They said so they could train some humans to deal with them instead of thinking they're really smart house elves who play with money."
"I find them a very nice species for the most part," Xander told her. "More intelligent than a few of your coworkers."
She grimaced but nodded. "We choose for muscles, not brains," she reminded him.
"You have to have a good balance or how do you catch the people who do wrong?" Horatio asked.
"I've pointed that out. They do all the hauling since they're so strong." She smirked. "Saves my shoulders wear and tear. They're a great lot if you're moving too. Usually pretty sweet about it if you ask nicely."
"Good to know," Danny said. "I've seen some big guys that thought their muscles were a license to be stupid and do bad things."
"Fortunately the healer we have on retainer in the PD knows how to fix things," Don said dryly, giving him a look.
"Well, yeah. She sees a lot of that."
"We have a healer on retainer?" Mac asked.
"The magical union does. She hates to see me coming."
"That's because you do things like jump off a fire escape to get someone," Danny shot back.
"You two need a private room to keep baiting each other or just some mistletoe?" Xander quipped.
"If I could change him into a girl, maybe," Don shot back.
"No thanks. Lived through that in school when someone tried to prank me."
"What's wrong with being a girl?" Madison said.
"Nothing but I'm not one and I'm happier being a boy."
"That's good since you're a grown up boy," she said. "You'd have to be reborn to come back a girl."
He nodded. "I would. Which is why Don's happier with Stella."
She pinched him. "We're friends."
Don smiled at her. "Of course we are." She smiled at him. "Are you working the First Night thing this year?"
"I am," Mac told him. "She's off."
"I'm on for it. I volunteered," Don said.
"I might attend. It's no fun when you're working it."
He smiled. "True. You don't get to dance or have fun or any of it." She smiled. "I've even got to wear a uniform. I gotta dig it out and have it dry cleaned and pressed." She smiled and nodded. "I look like a dork in mine."
"I think we all do unless we're newly out of the academy," Danny said. "Mine looks really sucky on me. I end up looking paler than Draco does." Horatio coughed and laughed, sipping some water. "I do. I'm too dark for it to look good on me. Even the people at the academy said so. Now, Mac looks good in his, either one."
"Horatio doesn't look bad in one," Speed told him.
"When did you see me in mine?"
"Deb's funeral." Horatio nodded, he had been an honor guard and had worn his. He grinned. "Plus your old patrol picture in your office. Wolfe said you look better than he did in his too."
Horatio smiled. "Did we pass it around?"
"I sent him up there to chew on him for another fight between him and Eric while you were gone. Then I followed after chewing Eric a new one."
"Have they been better?" Xander asked.
"Much. Thank you."
"Welcome. John, did you get the arena?"
"I did. It was a nice job. Thanks, kid."
"Welcome." He looked at Horatio. "Did you get hand cramps like Tonks?"
"A few. Lucia got more fixing my reports for me." Tonks blushed. "Mac and I both have house elves as assistants. They're very well liked and we've caught up with paperwork."
Mac nodded. "Floppy's better liked than I am. Even Gerrard likes Floppy. Claims he's more intelligent than most cops on the force because he knows that politics rule the department."
Tonks looked at him. "Need pointers on how to hire?"
"We have an academy that they have to apply for."
"So do we, and look at the cute but tragically dumb new kid we just got."
"And lost," Harry said. "Saw him in the paper. You looked good on that arrest, Tonks."
"Thanks, Harry." She smiled and got back into her dessert. She finally finished and stood up. "Guess I'll go back to the desk of doom. I'll let you know if we need more, guys. Thanks. Happy Christmas."
"You too," Madison said after her, smiling when she left. "She's a very nice woman. You should date her, Uncle Horatio." He looked at her. "She's a police officer so she'd understand when the lab made the slurping noise to keep you there all night." Speed laughed. "If not, maybe Uncle Speed could? He could use a good girlfriend who let him cook for her or read to her. He reads to you very well."
"He does and if she likes us we might try a few dates, but I think she's looking for a special sort of guy."
"You're very special," she assured him.
"I am but not the right sort of special. She and Speed might hit it off though."
"We'll see. One of us would have to move," Speed said. "We're really a far way from Miami."
She nodded. "I understand that. She has a cute accent." She smiled and looked at Xander. "Can we go play in the snow?"
"If you have proper snow stuff to wear and your uncle says it's okay."
"I think we can find her some," Don said with a wink for Horatio. Who smiled his thanks back. He looked at her clothes then went to transfigure some stuff smaller for her. He brought them back. "Try those on." She did and beamed. "Let Horatio take you." She squealed, dragging him with her. She hadn't seen snow before and she wanted to. Stella and Mac went to play too. Danny and Don eventually followed.
Sam smiled at Xander. "Want to follow?"
"I play a bit too roughly for someone her size. I bruised a house elf during a snow ball fight the other day."
"Then we'll go look at your workshop and armory," Dean said, getting a smile and a nod back. They were bigger boy toys for boys like them. Gibbs followed them but Tony went to play in the snow. The aunts went to watch and cheer on Madison in her effort to beam them all with snowballs. Don was getting Danny while Mac laughed at their antics. Danny snuck one in that got him on the forehead.
"That's for the girl crack," he crowed, getting him again.
"Maybe if he did, I'd have a sane girl on shift with us," Stella shot back, pegging him with a snowball.
"Didn't I hire you Lindsay?" Mac asked.
"I said sane," she reminded him.
"She is acting a bit strange." He got Horatio with a snowball, making the other man look at him. He gave him an innocent look. "It was a fairy."
"I didn't know the Marines let in that sort of fairy," Horatio shot back. "I didn't think they accepted wings at all, Mac."
Stella snickered, nearly falling onto her butt in the snow.
"They say we can't have tattoos but no one said anything about wings as far as I know. You'd have to ask Gibbs." He got him with another one. "As for the other sort, some of their strongest have been even if they don't want to think about it."
"Denial is a bad thing no matter what your field is," Danny reminded them, getting them both then Stella, which got the snowball war started for real. Madison helped Stella, girls uniting, to sneak attack Mac and then Horatio with snow down the back of their shirts. Then they ganged up on Speed, who had been watching. They got him so bad he tripped into Horatio, who caught him and held him steady. Mac snickered at that.
"Kiss him, Uncle Horatio!" Madison creeled, pointing up. "There's mistletoe."
"So there is," he said, kissing Speed on the forehead, getting a smile back. He let him go. "There, better?"
"Much." She got him with another one. The snowball war continued while the other boys cooed over the toys in the armory. Not that Gibbs would ever admit to ever doing more than casually fondling one. He wasn't like that and Marines didn't coo at the guns.
John reappeared in Cleveland covered in snow. "Morning."
Giles smiled at him. "Snowball fight?"
"Tag with the ghost horses and Xander tripped me on purpose so he could get away from Sammy." He dusted himself off, making Dawn shriek since the snow had hit her. "Sorry, snowflake." She punched him on the arm and walked off to dry off. "That was weak, I'm going to make you do exercises."
"Sure. It'll make me hotter for the guys."
John smirked at Buffy's complaints from further up the hall about how Dawn wasn't allowed near boys for the next century so she didn't need to bother getting hot. "The boys are fine."
"I figured they were. Did he clean your gun?"
"While talking to you." He smirked. "They were really rude from what we heard."
"I've had Willow bring me over and only got back an hour ago myself. How was dinner?"
"The house elves tried to cover up that they had dropped some of the food. Xander is getting a cooking house elf to do just that. It went okay otherwise. Horatio brought his niece and she had a ball playing in the snow for the first time. It was fun. We had a snowball war." Dawn came back. "Feel better?"
"Can I beat you for messing up my hair?"
"No." He smirked. "You can try Sammy though. Or Dean, he uses product."
She strolled off. "I'll remember that when I'm ready to date if Xander doesn't keep them both."
"They could do worse," he agreed. She smiled at that compliment. "But you still need to be able to hunt to have one of them."
"I'm learning. I'm only fifteen." She headed for the kitchen. "Do you want your plate of leftovers?"
"Go ahead, Dawn."
"Thanks, I'm starved." She went to do that. She was hitting another growth spurt again and pretty soon she'd have to make Buffy take her shopping. Buffy scowled. "I asked!"
"Fine. Why are you so hungry?"
"Growth spurt. That blue skirt you thought was cute a few months back now is at the length of trashy ho." She ate another bite.
"We can shop for you," she agreed. "Or you could ask John. That way you get stuff you can work out in."
Dawn looked at her. "Since when are you afraid of a mall?" Buffy gave her an odd look. "Giles, this isn't Buffy! She doesn't want to go shopping!" she shouted. Willow and Giles ran in to capture the not-Buffy while John organized a search party to see if she was on the grounds. Willow stared at her. "I'm mid-growth spurt." She ate another bite. "I asked John."
"Fine. If we can't find Buffy tonight, I'll take you tomorrow." She walked off shaking her head. "How long has the not-her been here?"
"Two days according to her. I've sent John her coordinates," Giles told her. "Let us banish this mimic."
Willow nodded. "Before more freaky behavior comes up." She did the banishing and went to pull out first aid supplies for Buffy.
Dawn smiled when she was led through the back door. "We knew she wasn't you when she became allergic to a mall."
She looked her sister over. "You're growing, aren't you?" Dawn smirked and nodded. "If I'm not too tired."
"Maybe Draco can; he likes to shop," John said.
Buffy looked at him. "Is Xander dating again and infecting others? That was an evil thought, John."
"He does and his future wife is in. This way she gets to see his good taste without enduring him making her shop." Buffy shook her head. "They wear long skirts. Nothing trashy."
"I might like that. Maybe a few things." She looked at her sister. "You can call him tomorrow." She let herself be led off for first aid.
Horatio looked at Suzy, Madison's mother, when she came out of Madison's room. The young one had fallen asleep at dinner. "She had a lot of fun."
"I noticed the dampness."
"We had snow."
"Oh. Where were you?"
"With a new friend. His name is Xander and he's just inherited a large estate so he invited a few friends up for lunch and presents today. He got her the other doll. She said now she has twins or a slightly younger sister."
Suzy smiled. "I'm glad she had fun."
"She and Stella ganged up on us men to get us all with snowballs. She's got a good aim." He brushed at his ear. Suzy giggled. "Did you have a good day off?"
"I did. It was nice to take a long, hot bath without her needing the bathroom. It was great. Thank you, Horatio." She gave him a hug. "Want some dinner?"
"Xander fed us enough food for a battle cruiser." She laughed at that. "It was his first one. He went overboard but the holiday was good." She nodded. "I'll let you collapse for the night, Suzy. Have a good evening." He smiled as he walked out, heading down his hummer. He drove back to his house, finding Speed there with a book. "Bedtime story?"
"Madison said you needed one and made me promise." Horatio smiled, letting him inside. "She's quite a girl, Horatio."
"She is. I'm glad she had such fun today."
"Xander's a big kid himself," he pointed out. "Hey, Lucia, no need for dinner."
"Want coffees? Lucia knows that Master Xander sir's house elfs would feed you."
"And one clumsy one that ended up tripping a few times with food," Speed told her. "Coffee, H?"
"I think I'm coffeed out. How about some juice?" She went to get them some juice, bringing it back before going back to her room. They sat down. "What did you bring to read to me?"
"One of the history books. I cross referenced with an English history book. Sometimes they didn't cover up well enough and it meshed in a lot of points, even if the goblin wars didn't."
"I figured some had to bleed over." He settled into the couch better, drinking his juice. Speed opened his book and got to reading for him. Horatio smiled, liking this bedtime story thing. It had been decades since his last one.
Speed smiled and plucked the glass from Horatio's hand, kissing him on the forehead before taking the blanket from Lucia for him. "Let him sleep," he hissed, getting a nod. He left, going to enjoy the warm weather for a nighttime ride. It was nice and had been a great day. He hadn't played in years.
John Sheppard walked into his room, looking at the two boxes sitting on top of his dresser beside his staff. He moved closer then smiled. "No wonder they couldn't do the email today." He checked the cards, taking the other one down the hall. "McKay." He leaned out of his room so John threw the present at him. "From Xander."
"Xander. The guy you yelled at when the staff chose me because you thought he had kidnaped me? Him?"
"Why did he get me a present?"
"It's Christmas and he's like that."
McKay opened it, pulling out the all natural, sugar free, variety of flavors package of throat drops. He looked. "A few are citrus but I suppose it's the thought that counts."
"He didn't know you're allergic. You have other packages." McKay put that one back, pulling out the cherry one to read the ingredients before popping one into his mouth. It was a nice gift and Rodney had yelled at Xander so it was a subtle hint too. "Merry Christmas."
"Today. Xander said he'd send my present up if I couldn't make dinner earlier." He walked back to his room to open his present, smiling at the two DVD's. He had told him that they could play them up here. They didn't have these either. Goofy, funny movies were always good when you're in a combat area according to the note so he was more than happy. Underneath was a heavier wrapped square. He unfolded the butcher paper and found fudge. He moaned, eating a smaller piece to test it. Peanut butter and mint chip fudge. He loved that man. He looked at the ingredient list on the inside of the paper, smiling at the thoughtful ness. Xander was a sweet guy. He'd have to thank him the next time he went down for a meeting. He laid back, eating the next piece, totally happy with his night. The last people they had contacted hadn't been bad or wanted to attack them. No wraiths for the last two weeks. He was a happy boy. Someone knocked on his door. "What?"
"The spare bags," McKay called.
"Enter." He walked in and dropped the bags. "You could give them to the other scientists."
"They'd run through them in a day and come searching for mine. I'd hate to kill them for it," he said dryly. "What did you get?"
"Two comedy movies and some fudge." He let him steal a piece, smiling when he moaned. Another package appeared and he got up to look at it, smiling at the DVD holder of ripped movies. "From Sam and Dean. Sam sits on the Council with me." He let him check out the titles. "They went for stress relief."
"I believe that's the one on the bottom," McKay said dryly, walking off with a smirk.
"I was complaining I couldn't date," he called after him. "Must've been Dean's half of the present." He put one into the computer in his room, settling in to watch it with his fudge. It was really great fudge.
Tony sat on his apartment's porch the next morning, looking out across his city. He was thinking, which some would say he couldn't do but he was having some deeper thoughts. Marriage bonds and love potions and all that the staff had brought into his life, all the insanity it had given him by simply tripping him up at a scene, and for some strange reason he felt a bit content. Almost happy with the level of insanity in his life. He sipped his coffee. Then he suddenly smiled. "Not even a twisted, psychological, B movie could come up with a plot like this one. Not that they'd be able to find someone to cast me anyway." He got comfortable and let the deeper thoughts about what to do with the marriage bond settle into the back of his head for now. He wasn't sure he wanted to think about his boss that way.
It was a pretty morning, much too pretty to be thinking about Gibbs' tight, overly physically fit ass. He wouldn't care if Dean and Sam had finally reached an agreement and had Xander claim them in their car. He was...going to allow it to happen as it came this time. Gibbs could set this dance's tempo for a while. He went back inside to get more coffee while he prepared for his daily run. Yup, it was just insane but he seemed pretty able to handle it. So he guessed he'd keep the stupid staff. For now.
The End. End of series!
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