A Qualified Princess.

"You know very well that your official title is Princess because you're the second born," the King told his son.  "The first born is always a prince and the second is always a princess.  No matter what.  That's why you're so good at things like fan fighting, son."  He patted him on the shoulder.  "Now pack.  You have to go to the Academy tomorrow."

"Great, just what I need," the teenage male complained.

"I doubt you're the only male princess."  He walked off.

"Whatever," he muttered, going to pack what he'd be taking.  His weapons.  His favorite clothes.  A few good things for formal occasions.  He was sure they'd have some when they taught them how to be a princess.


The girls coming out of the building were giggling.  "Stableboy," one said.

He looked at her.  "I'm not a stableboy.  You saw me taking care of my horse and assumed, Princess of the Land of Cleavage."  She gasped and covered her showing cleavage.  He looked at the higher princess.  "Princess, why didn't they do this orientation thing three weeks ago when I got here?"

"I'm not sure they realized you weren't the stableboy either," he said with a mean smirk.  "After all, you're not well dressed."

"Yeah, well, didn't call the tailor from where I was grounded to a tower to do my homework."  The higher princess sneered.

Another male princess came over.  "Hi, I'm Tony, the Princess DiNozzo."

"That's Princess Genjo of Sanzo," Xander said. "I'm Alexander, Princess son of the Warlord Anthony DeMal."

"Well, that explains a lot.  You're probably the angry type," Princess Genjo said dryly.

"Not usually.  I'll kill my father but most of the time I'm pretty darn nice to others who don't piss me off."  He stared at the older, blond man.  "Now, you were saying something about an orientation class?"

"Let me get the Headmistress," Genjo said, huffing off.

Xander shook his head.  "Xander," he said, holding out a hand.

"Tony."  They shook and grinned at each other.  "I've heard of your father."

"I'm going to kill his dumb ass some day soon."

"That's good.  I heard he was moving."

Xander sighed and nodded, glancing at the glaring girls.  "Yeah.  I heard earlier."  Tony shook his head.  "We'll see what happens but if he shows up, just get out of the way, man.  Even if I can't kill him then it won't be pretty."

"I can do that.  No weapons or anything?"

"No, I have them.  My trunk's still in my horse's stall since somehow they decided I was the new stableboy."  He shrugged.  The headmistress walked out with the higher princess.  "Headmistress."

She blinked.  "I thought you were a stableboy."

"Apparently that's been common around here," he said dryly.

"Oh, well, I haven't planned on enough rooms.  You'll have to live on the female princess' floor."

Xander snorted.  "Sure, but that's not going to stop me from doing anything I'm used to."

She gasped.  "Princesses are chaste!" she said.

"No, he's chaste," he said with a point at Genjo, who was obviously chaste with how tightly his outer-robe was tied over his clothes.  "I trained with the military and slept with a few of them.  Male and female.  So if they come to me, I'm not going to turn them down.  I'm a full adult.  If they want it, I'm there."  He stared at her.  "Being in the mind of full disclosure, I'd also expect some news soon since my father was on the move again."

She swallowed.  "Where is your brother?"

"Disappeared.  Probably dead.  I put out the official poster for reward but I also sent a very nice letter thanking the princess that had probably taken him out.  Unfortunately my father thinks this will humiliate me."  He shrugged.  "So yay."

"You cannot do any of that here," she said.

"Then send my ass back home.  Please!" he said dryly.  "I'm not the normal princess.  Unlike most of these, I've got to defeat a warlord some year soon.  If it wasn't for this whole 'princess' thing being something my father enjoys to annoy me, I'd be at a different school."

"You'll still need to be pure for your wedding night," the headmistress said primly.

"First, can't totally tell when a guy's not pure," he shot back, smirking at her.  "Secondly, would have to marry a female to get an heir.  And actually already have one of those."  She gasped.  "Not like I was going to leave it too long.  Though she was an accident," he admitted.  He looked around then at her.  "So, you want me to room with the girls?"

"No I don't believe I do now."

"Well, you do have the princess of chasteness beside you," Xander quipped with a smirk for the older princess.  Who was growling.

"He's an upper year.  He gets his own room with his retainers."  The headmistress looked around.  "Anthony, no retainers?"

"I have one coming with my trunk.  The carriage bounced wrong on a pothole and the wheel tilted too far.  They're fixing it but I didn't want to make a bad impression and be late."

"Can we put you on the lady's floor?"

He shook his head.  "There's no telling how inappropriate that would be and my father would be most upset if I brought one home that I had helped debauch at her will."

"Oh, dear."  She considered it.  "Alexander...."

"Xander, please."

She scowled.  "That's not appropriate.  I'm not a relative or a friend.  I'm your headmistress."

"Yes, but I flinch each time someone yells my name and grab a weapon.  Wouldn't it be nicer if we didn't have to do that?"

"We'll see.  Can you two share a room?  It's not usually done but well, you are of lower status than Anthony."

Xander shrugged.  "Up to him.  I've shared military quarters in the past."  She gaped.  "Yeah, I did train as much as I could wiggle under his restrictions.  Everyone expects me to kill the despot and no one wanted me trained."  He gave her a look.

"That's fine.  Anthony?  There's a separate bedroom for your usual retinue."

"I was only going to bring my butler to stay with me," he admitted.  "He's fairly old, set in his ways, and likes to swat me for going to have fun."

"Put me in a tower room," Xander said finally at the headmistress' continued 'constipation' face.  "I've spent the last year in one because my father caught me taking military training."

"Did you have to grow your hair?" Anthony asked.

"No, I had a door and stairs.  He couldn't find the other sort."  Xander shrugged.  "I had to send off a few guys that thought it was cute of him.  Blatantly with a crossbow once."  He shook his head to clear it.  "I hunted while I was there too.  He expected me to be sobbing when he showed back up to release me.  Instead I was roasting a boar and having some homebrew I had made.  He threw such a fit."  He smiled.  "Burned down the tower too."

Princess Genjo shook his head.  "I heard of the tower fire."

Xander smiled.  "I don't think my father's moving in your people's direction this year."

"That's nice of him."  He walked off shaking his head.  "We can put him in the purple room."

"It's a bit... girlish," the headmistress said.  "But I suppose we can.  No retinue, Alexander?"

"No.  My military accompaniment went after the people my father had attack us.  I haven't ever had a butler.  He didn't believe in such things."

"That's fine then.  That's a single room so it should do you well.  Fairly spacious.  Has a brilliant view."  She led them to their rooms.  Xander had to get his trunk from the stables.  "Why didn't you tell us?" she demanded calmly.

"I did.  You told me I was outside of my place in the stables."

"Well, you weren't dressed very well," she complained.

"Excuse me for not stopping at a tailor's," he said dryly.  "I'm not the *fashionable* sort.  Unlike the Princesses of the Cleavage guild."

"They're totally demure," she corrected.

"Then the blonde one down there probably should've pulled hers up since her nipple was showing."

"I'll talk with her later."

"You might warn her that my father's moving her people's direction," he said quietly.

"That is not my job."

"Nor is it mine," he said.  "I don't apologize for him at all.  Nor do I pass on bad family news."  He stared at her.  "That is a headmistress's job."  He went into his room and tossed his trunk on the bed.  "Straw.  Yuck."  He tested.  "Needs restuffed too.  I'll do that later."  He pulled out his clothes to hang up and his weapons went on the desk for now.  His camp roll went on top of the bed.  That would make it more comfortable until he could restruff the damn thing.  It'd probably take a whole bale. 

He wouldn't be bitter.  He knew the others probably got feather mattresses and silk sheets.  He was not that sort of princess.  He armed himself and went downstairs to the meeting hall, as she had instructed them to on the hike up the stairs.  "At least I'm getting a good workout from all the stairs, and hey, less than the tower's," he told himself as he trotted down them.

"No weapons in the school," a senior, very baritone female princess ordered.

Xander looked at her.  "I'm the princess son of a warlord."  She flinched.  "I'm always armed."  He went into the meeting hall.  "There, all put up."  The headmistress stared at him.  "What?"

"You didn't change?"

"They're not dirty.  I only change when I'm dirty or once a day otherwise, right after a bath."

She gave him an odd look.  "Every day?"

"Yes, every day.  My hair looks gross without it."

"Oh, I see."  Anthony and the two girls from the courtyard came in.  "Princesses Buffy and Willow, your dresses are not demure," she noted.  They pulled them up and tightened them.  Anthony helped since Buffy's was a corset problem.  "Thank you, Anthony."

"Taken plenty of them off in my day," he quipped.  He sat down near Xander.  "Is the bay horse yours?"

"No, the other one.  Another humiliation attempt.  She's old but a war mare."  He grinned.  "A very loyal war mare."

"Wonderful," Tony agreed.  "I'm assuming that I'm being handed one of the ones tied to the back of the carriage.  Not great but good enough for pleasure riding and any lessons they want us to have."

Xander nodded.  "Mine's been through all that stuff and I'm pretty darn good at it.  I've went into a few battles on her."

The headmistress looked at him.  "We do train you to do the more regal riding, like dressage."

Xander shuddered.  "Eww.  Jumping maybe.  She's a bit old for eventing that way but dressage is boring."

"Yes but it is suitable for a princess," she said.

He looked at her.  "I'm not that sort of princess either, ma'am."

She rolled her eyes.  "You'll need something younger and more able to handle the rigors that we train you in here."

"You tell 'im.  I'm not."  She glared but he shrugged.  "He'll send something older if you try.  Personally I'm having a yearling foal delivered here and I'll be working on his training over the next year and a bit.  So I can take that later if you want."

"Fine."  She flapped a hand.  "We'll work on that later.  Tonight, we'll have orientation of where everything is.  That way you don't get lost on your way to class.  You know where the punishment rooms are so you don't bother those in them."  She stared at Xander.  He stared back looking bored.  "And there's no problems with you going outside of our meager set of rules."

"The rule book was like forty pages long," Princess Buffy said.  "That's not meager by what I was taught was the definition."

"They are much less than the ones for most princesses to comport themselves with.  You will be getting those in your deportment classes, Elizabeth."

"Buffy.  I don't answer to Elizabeth."

"We'll see."

Tony raised his hands.  "How often do we get to go off campus to the town?"

"Never!  It's not done for princesses to slub with the commoners," the headmistress said firmly.

"Then how does a princess know when her people have problems?" Willow asked quietly.  "I spend at least one night a week hearing issues in one of the local pubs by my castle.  That's a gathering place and they're used to complaining to each other there, plus it lets me have real food instead of feast food like my mother likes.  Much more vegetables."

"That's something I'd probably do too, once I take over," Xander agreed.  "I did listen to military ones and handled them behind his back."

Anthony nodded.  "That's something I can see is useful as well."

"That's a Prince's job," the headmistress said.  "They're in line for the throne."

Buffy snorted.  "They never have time.  They're always off trying to gain status and doing stupid things.  My brother never does *anything*."

Willow patted her on the hand.  "It's also safer in case someone wants to attack the heir.  We're not exactly expendable but pretty darn close."

Xander nodded.  "Sometimes we also have more sense.  A lot of Princes have *no* sense."

"Seconded," Tony muttered with a quick nod.

"Well, while you're here, someone can do that for you at home."

"There's no other child to do it," Willow complained.

"That is your parent's problem."

"I think their problem was the arranged marriage," Willow shot back.  "They're both miserable bitches."  She covered her mouth.  "Oops.  Sorry.  Didn't mean to swear."

"Thank you for being self-correcting.  Do not do so again.  Princesses don't swear."

"According to your book princesses only knit," Buffy complained.  "And I can't."

"Or sew tapestries," Tony said dryly.  "And I can't do either of those."

"I've never even seen a tapestry," Xander said, looking at him.

"Those woven and sewn things on the walls?" Tony said, pointing at one.

Xander looked.  "Those are sewn?"

"Some are woven, some have both," Tony said.  "Or you can fully crossstitch one.  My mother's been working on one now for a decade."

"No thanks.  I need to learn more about weapons," Xander said.  "I don't need a delicate hobby like that."

"We do have a self-defense instructor," the headmistress told him.  "He is not to teach you how to use a sword.  That is not something a princess carries, Alexander."  She saw his hand twitch toward his hip and him make himself calm down.  "Why are you so armed?"

"Because two of the people who attacked me on the way in were in the courtyard earlier?"

"Oh, I see."  She blinked a few times.  "Well, our self-defense instructor is open to your use if you need him."

"I'm going to have him sand down some rough edges I got from my former training methods."  He looked at Tony.

"My father insisted I learn how to fight with things like fans and daggers."

Xander nodded.  "I started with a kama because I made my own and demanded one of my guards teach me.  He gave in when he realized I was teaching myself."

Tony nodded.  "That's the only reason I got archery lessons."

"I hate long bows but I'm good with crossbows," Xander offered with a grin.

Tony grinned back.  "I'll test them to see how much easier they are."

Buffy looked at them.  "Real princesses don't use weapons."

"Then how are you going to defend yourself when someone tries to overthrow you?" Xander asked.

"No one would dare!  Our people love our family!" she said firmly.

"As my father proves, it's not always your people trying to attack your family.  Also, princesses are attacked all the time so they can't breed an heir."  She shuddered.  "Yeah, you need to learn weapons.  Quickly."  Willow gave him a funny look.  "You too.  There's not always someone there to protect you.  You are your own line of defense."  She nodded, looking at her hands.

"That is true," the headmistress agreed.  "That is why we offer self defense lessons."  She glared at Xander.

"It's the truth.  One of the ones that attacked me said he was doing so because I might have an heir any day now.  Then my father would try to take them to train them better so they'd never get rid of him."

"How old is she?" Tony asked.

Xander grinned.  "Three.  She's so adorable.  She's already riding some with her mother.  Loves horses."


"On a commoner?" the headmistress demanded.

Xander looked at her.  "Actually, on one of my teachers.  She was to teach me English when the science teacher taught me more than my father wanted.  So she took her in."  The headmistress gaped in horror.  "I was all of fifteen.  She came to me to teach me those things.  And promptly got taken by a curse once she had delivered."  He shrugged.  "She wasn't special to me but I'm fairly certain most of us have had teachers that taught us things that weren't on the schedule."

"I had one that taught me how to put on makeup," Buffy said.

"Mine was trying to teach me alchemy when my parents found out and stopped it.  They don't believe in magic," Willow said.

"I had two teachers in the art of feasting on a woman's body to her pleasure," Tony admitted with a scary grin.  "Both very pretty.  I'm not sure if my father had me taught or not though."

"Princesses, while here, will be chaste," the headmistress ordered.

"Not like you can tell," Xander quipped.  "There's no hymen."  The girls all blushed, including the elderly one.  "Beyond that, they expect *girl* princesses to be chaste.  Male ones they expect to have whored around enough to know what to do with a chaste princess.  Truth and common but still truth."

Tony nodded.  "My mother said much the same to me.  Males are meant to not be chaste on their wedding night or it all goes horribly wrong and then the wife is ruined and usually unable to bear good heirs."

"I think mine just hate each other," Willow complained.

"Mine are living in separate castles," Buffy agreed.  "Thankfully my mother is the queen and her consort is in exile somewhere."

"Spain," Xander said.  "It's in all the rumors."  She grimaced but nodded.

"This is the most unusual class of princesses we've ever had," the headmistress complained.

"Well, they do call us the new generation when they put out news on us," Willow complained.  "Not all of us can be the quiet, prim, proper princesses."

"That's so outdated," Buffy agreed.  She twirled some of her hair around her index finger.   "So, riding, deportment, self defense.  Anything else we have to have?"

"You'll have tutoring in all the basic courses," the headmistress said.

Buffy grimaced.  "I'm not really the bookish sort."

"You and I can help each other," Willow promised, getting a grin and a nod back.  "Boys?"

"I've already passed my levels in most every subject," Tony said.

"I've been through the books but I was mostly self-taught beyond the very early things," Xander said.  "Though I did make myself go through the books.  Math and magic are not my strong suits."

"Magic isn't a core class," Willow complained.

"I think that depends on your parents," Tony said.

"That might, yes."  She turned back around.  "What other things are we going to learn for the next three years, Headmistress?"

"We'll also help you craft your personal sense of style since people will be staring at you."  She glared at Xander.

"I only need to be comfortable to fight," he told her.  "I'm not wearing heels."

She huffed.  "We'll talk about that when the time comes."  She stood up.  "Let us show you where the classrooms are and then we can retire to change for dinner."  They all gave her funny looks.  "Surely you do that at home?"

"For formal things," Tony said.  "No one said we'd be having formal feasts every day, ma'am.  Personally I brought things I'd be comfortable in while I learned and a few formal outfits."

"I brought a formal outfit but it probably needs tailored.  The last time I wore it was over a year ago," Xander admitted, shifting to cross his feet and slouch some.

"Sit up," the headmistress ordered.

"My back hurts.  Excuse me for having a spinal curve."  She huffed off.  He rolled his eyes, looking at Tony.  "Would you lend me the name of your tailor?  That way she can quit bitching at me?"

"Gladly.  It appears I'll need to call him in.  Will your father supply things?"

"If not, I do have my own money."  He smirked.  "I was planning on raising an army."  He crossed his feet in the other direction.  "Should we go change?" he asked when the headmistress didn't come back.

"Probably," Buffy said.  "You don't do formal things?"

"Warlord," Xander quipped.  "No."

"Oh.  That's got to suck.  Even though those are usually a lot of fun."

Xander shook his head.  So did Tony.  "No they're not.  They're really boring," Tony told her.  "It's always the same people and the same whining complaints and the same people who'd *adore* me to take in their daughter."

"If I remember right, it'll take someone on Princess Sanzo's level to equal yours," Xander told him.  Tony smiled and nodded.  "Well, there's all the upper princesses.  Maybe one'll take your fancy."  He stood up.  "Let me go find something she'll enjoy seeing me in more."  He walked off, heading back up the stairs.  He hadn't packed more than a traveling case of clothes.  He used the magic fire to call his friend to get his other trunk sent.  They promised it was on its way with his father.  "Greatness," he muttered, heading up the stairs again.  He had to prepare some weapons.  He might not get a chance to kill him but he'd damn sure try!


The headmistress looked over Xander's outfit of leather pants and vest with a silk shirt. "Is that considered appropriate at your castle?" she demanded to the whole room.

"Yes.  I wore it at the last treaty feast.  It still nominally fits.  The pants are a bit tight and so is the vest."  He shrugged.  "We don't wear silk and satin.  My father would have us killed in public."  She gasped.  "By the way, he's showing up with the rest of my weapons."  He went to his seat.  It had his name on it.  He nodded as he sat down.  "Princess Alexander, Son of the Warlord Tony DeMal."

The others nodded politely and a few smiles.  "At least you're not another boring, airheaded one," one of the uppers said.

Xander smiled.  "Not exactly booksmart but no, not boring."  She giggled and patted him on the wrist.

Buffy and Tony walked in with Willow following.  The headmistress sniffed.  "Clearly some castles have fallen down on what *formal attire* means."

Tony looked at her.  "That's because we have more important things to do than to sit and feast like turkeys being fattened up for dinner."  He helped the ladies into their seats and sat down.  He looked at Xander.  "I want to get away with that."

Xander grinned.  "The benefits of having a despot and warlord as a father," he quipped.  "He hates silk and satin.  He threatened to have me publically flogged until I died from it."

Tony snorted.  "Repaying it?"

"Quite.  Soon I hope."  Tony gave him a look.  He nodded.  "We'll see how it works this time."

The headmistress stood and the students all stood.  She looked them over.  "We welcome a new class, though they are not traditional by any means," she said, staring at them.  "I hope you older princesses will be good and guide the younger ones into their future roles."  She sat down and food was presented.  She checked her new ones.  Buffy had table manners, mostly.  Alexander was taking very tiny bites like he was checking for poisons.  By the way he choked he found one.  Tony was chatting pleasantly like he would at any formal dinner.  Willow was quietly eating.  She had excellent table manners but had managed to sneak in a book, thankfully on deportment.

"May I be excused," Alexander asked quietly.

"No, you may not."

"That's fine.  I'll need the antidote in my room then."  She gasped.  He got up and went to get it, coming back gulping the foul looking vial of liquid.  Then he punched someone.  "Send that to my *beloved* family," he sneered.  The server babbled about who had inserted him so he could take him out.  Xander snorted.  "That's my job.  Everyone wants me to take him out and I will.  If they wanted to do it that badly she should've come to me last year."  He sat back down and pushed some of the food off onto his bread plate.  "Excuse my rudeness but poisonings are usually not happy things."  He ate a bite of meat.

"You're going to take out your father?" one of the older male princesses at the table asked.

Xander nodded.  "Yes.  Hopefully within a year."  They all smiled.  "By the way, he's on his way here."  That got a nod.  They could make themselves scarce so there was no temptation to take them as hostages.


Xander was summoned to the yard and walked down there, taking his trunk from his usual guard.  "Thank you.  The foal?"

His father sneered.  "I had him killed.  He was weak."  He yelped as a bolt embedded itself in his shoulder.  "How dare you."

"Ooops, my aim is off," Xander said with a cold smirk.  "Pity."  He stared at him.  His father got off his horse to beat him.  Xander seemed to cower but it was a ruse to stab him in the stomach.  Xander stared down at him.  "Fair warning.  You did tell me to always give a warning."

"Over a foal?" he sneered.

"No.  Just in general."  He smiled.  "The headmistress would like to talk to you.  Apparently your problems are shaming her students."  He walked off.  "Horace, unsaddle my father's nag.  She'll have to do even if she is inferior."

"Take mine," one of the soldiers said, getting off.  "She's a good mare, Alexander.  She'll breed true as well."

Xander smiled and nodded, hugging him.  "Thank you.  They want us to do *dressage*."  The soldier shuddered.  "Exactly."  He looked her over.  "Slight swelling in her ankle but I can treat that."  He walked her into the stables and put her up properly so his headmistress would have time to rant at his father.  He came out when she yelled at him.  "I need to finish wrapping her hoof."  He went back to finish and came back.  "Now, what's the problem?"

"He swears up and down that your dowry has been paid?"

Xander shook his head.  "Some other warlord wanted to own me but I've already killed him so no dowry was paid."  He looked at his father.  "Wasn't that the other reason I went into the tower?"  His father got up glaring at him.  Xander stared at him.  "It's all your shit, not mine."  He smiled.  "Just remember, I gave you all the warning you're getting."  His father got onto his horse and rode off.  Xander waved at his back.  "See you in hell!" he called happily with a smile.  He looked at the guards.  "Anything else, guys?  If not, I'd avoid him until he drinks enough to forget you were here."

"We are," they agreed.  The horseless soldier climbed up behind them and they rode off, staying out of harm's reach of his father's hand.

Xander looked at her.  "Like I said, it's all his attempt at humiliation for his pleasure.  I'm not playing along but yay."  He lifted his trunk.  "Let me see what I had packed in here.  Most of it is probably from before my year in the tower as well."

She sniffed.  "You are not the sort of princess we usually accept."

"You asked," he said dryly, staring at her.

"We had hopes that your thinking could be adjusted so you were more fair to the people when you took over."

"If I wasn't me, I'd never make it to take over, Headmistress.  Nice people don't last in a warlord's household.  They tend to become fun and games."  She blanched, shaking her head.  He nodded.  "They're harder on their families than they are on the people they're subjugating.  We have to be stronger or we don't survive."  He walked off.  "Though I am paying a tailor.  I need new fighting clothes."  He carried his trunk inside.

"Don't you have menials?" one of the upper princesses sneered.

Xander looked at her.  "No, unlike some people I know how to tie my own shoes."  She huffed off.  "Though it's nice that you're helping the economy by paying them a living wage.  If not, you're just like my father."  He went up the stairs to look at his things.  His father hadn't messed with them too much.  The two dresses packed in there got tossed out a window.  His new daggers were put on the table with his other ones.  He'd change his weapons around later.  The rest of the clothes were mostly too small.  He'd let someone borrow them for now.  Once he got something better.  He settled at his desk to check his weapons over.  He decided on a few and tucked them away.  He had self-defense later.


Tony looked at Princess Genjo.  "Why are you teaching me?"  It was his first self-defense lesson at the school.

"I'm the only other one here with fan training," he said, swatting him on the head with his.  "Where's yours?"  Tony pulled his out.  "Not in your hand?  That's dangerous."

"We're supposedly safer here."

"There's no such thing as safe."  He attacked.  Tony fought back.  "Not good enough," Princess Genjo complained.

"I've only been learning a year."  He fought back harder.  He still got smacked with the fan a few times.  They suddenly parted at the sound of a 'swish' through the air.  A circular iron round with 'flame' spikes was now embedded in a wall.  "Xander!" he complained.

Xander grinned.  "They said he's to teach me too.  If you wouldn't mind, Princess of Cranky?"

"Fans?" he asked.  He looked at the weapon.  "It's stupid to throw your only weapon."  Xander pointed at his others.  Genjo stared.  "That's not a bad idea."  He pointed at him then looked at Tony.  "You need to be that armed but more subtle about it."

"I can work my way up to that.  Usually I have at least two daggers on me."  He looked at Xander's weapon.  "How do you use that?"

Xander came in to pull it out of the wall and show him how to hold it.  "Then it's the same as you use with your fan when it's open."  Genjo attacked so he pulled his other two out to deflect the blows.

"Not bad."

"Self-taught except for some kama and some arit work," he said with a grin.

"Interesting."  He kept going, pushing the younger, cocky one.  Xander was good enough to hold him off but their teacher was watching and moved to try to attack the boy as well.  Xander ducked his blow, getting minorly scratched by Genjo's fan blades.  Xander attacked them both back, and when they got him into a corner he growled and attacked more firmly.

"Whoa!" Tony shouted, getting between them.  Xander pushed him behind him.  "Guys, I think this is a clear indication of a problem!"

"Well, my father sent me to the shaman that was doing the sacrificial and possessing work," Xander said dryly.

"That's what I've sensed," Genjo complained, backing off.  Xander looked at him and nodded, parrying the teacher's thrust.  He put a hand on the teacher's arm.  "That story about the shaman near my people.  That was him."

Xander bowed with a smirk.  "Yes, it was.  It amused him to no end.  Until I nearly bit him one night when I let my guard slip too far thanks to him drugging me."  Xander looked at the teacher.  "I know I'm mostly self-taught."

"Good!  You have things you know you need to learn."

"Yes, I do.  Before I take my father out."  The instructor gaped.  He smiled.  "I'm Warlord Tony DeMal's son."

"Oh, I see."  He nodded.  "Then yes, you must learn."

Xander nodded.  "These are the weapons I've been training with."  He showed him.  "The arit is borrowed from one of my guard troop.  We're exchanging it for my kunai and kujang.  I couldn't bring the hook sword I won in a poker game from one of the military guys.  My father nearly beat me senseless for it.  I also have the three wind and fire wheels."  He held up the round iron weapon.  He held up the two from his inner vest pocket.  "I've made both my sickle and my kama into Kusarigama.  I tend to leave it on the wrist bracelet instead of free because half the time I trip on the chain.  I started learning on the kama I made and a sickle I found.  Easy, peasant weapons that were easy to find and hide worked for me back then.  I also have a few throwing knives and a few file-like shuriken to hide on me.  And my kunai is sharpened nicely."

The teacher nodded.  "All hand weapons, mostly easily concealed.  You need to break the habit of having your Kusarigama attached.  Part of the weapon is the chain."

"I can undo it but I can also trip myself," Xander said.  "I realize I need work."

"Good.  It's good that you learn those."  He looked at Tony.  "The fan?"

"My father thought it fitting."  He pulled out two daggers with wavy blades.  "These were a diplomatic present to me upon my majority."

The instructor tested them.  "Not bad.  Useful, easily hidden in plain sight if necessary."

"I have fancier holsters for them so I can wear them during formal events," Tony said, tucking them back into their usual leather holsters.

"That is a good idea," he agreed.  "What of harder weapons?" he asked Xander.

"I tried to do some staff work with one I cut in the woods last year.  I'm not great but I did some pell-type practice in the tower."

He nodded.  "You more than most need it.  Your father could try to take you out any time now."

"He's already tried.  So have others to try to get back at him.  Hence the poisoning last night."  He grinned.

"You smile about poisons?" Genjo asked.  "How odd."

Xander smirked at him.  "I've had a few of those.  They're a lot nicer than the assassin I nearly ended up marrying last year.  Unfortunately my father thought her too pretty and killed her."  He shrugged, looking at the teacher.  "She came in with flower poison in each orifice to try to get me.  Thankfully the antidote acts as an aphrodisiac in me."

"It does in many.  Which one?"


"I knew of her," he admitted.  "You...nearly married her?"

"She didn't get to kill me and she was more than happy with how I pleased her.  She offered to train me."

"Huh."  He walked off nodding.  "Hopefully you will find someone more sane next time.  See me tomorrow after classes and before dinner."

"Yes, sir."

"Released."  They all bowed and left.

Genjo watched the two younger princesses.  "My people would be most upset at them."  He went to his own room to think on the newer ones.  The two female first years annoyed him to no end.  They were giggley and vapid.  The two male ones were different and off-putting.  His retinue walked in and he flapped a hand.  "Leave me alone."

"Got you some new smokes," one of them said, tossing down the pack.  Genjo smiled and lit one then went back to his thinking about the new princesses.  They weren't supposed to smoke but he wasn't really a traditional princess.

"Who's the two new guys?" the youngest of his people asked happily.  "They seem pretty nice."

"They're very strange," the calm one said.

"Hakkai, one said he's a warlord's son," the first one said.  "He's already aware he's going to be taking over some year soon."

"The hard way," Genjo agreed.  "He attacked his father in the courtyard earlier."  They all smiled.  They hated the boy's father.


Tony looked at his headmistress.  "I need permission to take myself and Xander to the local town and the tailor there.  The one from home is too ill to come and you're not satisfied with my evening clothes."

"I'm not satisfied with anything that boy wears," she sneered.

"His palace isn't like ours.  He needs to be able to fight in everything he owns.  He also has ungodly taste in fabric choices."  He rolled his eyes.  "I can get him things that are more appropriate but he will never wear the courtier tights and long coats that some provinces do.  Nor will I."

She glared.  "It is the local custom."

"And while that's nice, I dress as where I came from as I am an example of them," Tony said.  "If I do more than dress for special occasions in local attire my people will get upset and think I do not represent them any longer."

"Fine."  She waved a hand.  "Get him into something better."

"It will still be pants and surcoats or vests," Tony warned.  "He can't fight in other things."

"He shouldn't need to," she sneered.

"And yet he was poisoned his first official night here."  She glared.  He stared back.  His nanny had been meaner than this one.  "I would not like to see bloodshed, nor would the girls here I'd assume.  You have years to work to soften his temper and edges but right now he knows he is to ready himself for a battle."

"Fine.  Go.  Get him into something not leather."

"I can do so."  He nodded and left.  "Xander, shopping?" he called as he walked past him.

"I didn't know you were of the cleavage bearing people," he shot back.

"You need better evening clothes and so do I."  Xander huffed but got his money and followed him.  "Is that all you have?"

"No.  The rest is hidden."  He smiled.  "I can't let him know where it is.  He'll take it.  He's found one stash but not the rest."  He saddled his older horse and mounted, riding out beside Tony.  "Finally out of the land of stuffy," he sighed once they were past the gates.

"When you take over you'll have to deal with a lot of other royal families," Tony warned.  "Treaties not to attack you in vengeance."

"I'm going to free the families he has, hand them back most everything, though I have already made a deal for a few extra farms to stay ours with one neighbor, and then stay out of it."  Tony gave him a pointed look.  "I've got a pretty decent realm without all that work."

"Fine.  If you're sure."

"I've talked to most of them."  He grinned.  "They know I'm going to go against him as soon as I can.  We're all tired of him.  And his 'brother' up north, Rory."

"What about him?"

"Buffy's people are going to end up taking him down if my father hasn't captured her family."

"Interesting."  They rode into the local town, getting a few stares and points.  They found the tailor and walked in.  Tony smiled.  "The headmistress is most upset that our people do not dress as fancy as hers do."

"I have heard a few of you princesses that have that problem."  He looked at Xander.  "You're a princess or a guard?"

"I'm the Princess Alexander."  He held up his bag.  "Unless someone robbed me, I can spend this much this week."

The man looked then showed him.  "Someone robbed you."

Xander sorted out the pebbles and smiled.  "I forgot I had done that.  That way my father wouldn't want it."

"Huh.  You're not Grenth's son?"

"No, I'm the other one.  Grenth's son Alexander is only eight.  I was there when he was born because my father had them captured at the time."

"Oh.  I see."  He got them measured and fabrics picked out.  He'd send them things.  Xander ended up with a lot of surcoats and vests over pants.  Plus a few fancier shirts.  Anthony got his own version of those with more brocades and velvets.  "Jewels?" he asked them.

Tony shook his head.  "Not my style."

"I have a few things but not my thing either," Xander said.  "They're for truly formal occasions, not the formal dinners we're forced into."  He clicked his heels and bowed.  "Thank you."  The tailor nodded and let them go.  Xander stopped to pick up something to nibble on at night.

"If you had a servant they could fetch you something," Tony said.

"If I did, they'd be in danger of being used against me," Xander said simply, looking at him.  "Which is why I also do not have a wife."  Tony nodded, accepting that reason.  They went back up to the castle.  The headmistress came out.  "Two weeks."

"Fine," she decided.  "Your father sent a note."  She handed it over.

Xander read it and handed it back then dismounted.  "It is not my job to tell her of the bad family news.  It would be wrong of me to be sent as the messenger of that sort of news."  She grimaced but walked off.  Xander put his horse up, brushing her down very well.  He wanted out of the way of the hysterics.

Tony realized what it was and used the extra grooming time as well.


Buffy walked into the headmistress' office and curtseyed as she had been taught.  "Have I gotten in trouble?"

"There is news," she said quietly, staring at her.  "The son of the news thinks it is not his duty to tell you."

"My mother said they may have to evacuate.  It's not his fault his father's such a bastard," she said firmly.  "I hold no onus against him for it."

"You may after this."  She handed over the note.

Buffy read it and her face hardened.  "I see."

"He did not feel it was his duty to tell you, that it would be wrong."

"It would be.  Many of us would see that it was his father gloating.  No matter how sorry he was and how soon he was going to get his father dead for such things."  She curtseyed again.  "Am I being sent to them?"

"Child, it's possible you're switching schools.  Your brother was home."  She choked back a sob.  "You might ask him."

Buffy nodded and went to find him.  She had heard he was off-campus so she checked in the stables first.  "Would your father take out my brother?"

"Yes."  He looked at her.  "I'm sorry for your loss, Buffy."

"I know it was not you but I can't find much forgiveness for those who have done things."

"It's possible he escaped to his fiancée if she was in a safe kingdom," Xander offered.

She shook her head.  "My brother can't fight.  He relies on guards."

"My father's favorite tactic is to turn personal guards to his side."  He leaned on the stable gate.  "I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"I know it was not you."  She grimaced.  "I have no idea what I do now."

"If I'm right, you're going to be a Prince instead of a Princess," Xander said.  "I would learn how to be a warrior one.  Once I've taken over, I'm releasing all his hostages and handing back kingdoms but that doesn't mean others won't attack to get things if they think you're weakened."

"I understand."  She left to go to her suite and think.  Her maid cried as soon as she read the note.  Buffy assumed she had family back there as well.

Tony patted Xander on the shoulder.  "It's a hard thing but you will right that."

"I will."  He got free of the touch.  "He has spies, Tony, and I would hate to see you taken out as well."  He walked off.  He had to blow off some steam.  Unfortunately dinner was coming and he did not want to be there.

Tony went to talk to his own butler to see if there was anything they could do to help either of them.  He sent an immediate note home to tell his father.  They were relatively close by Queen Joyce's lands.


Xander nodded at the prince riding into the courtyard a few weeks after they had gotten the bad news about Buffy's family.  "Your brother is upstairs, Prince Donald.  He was fussing all day about you showing up."

"I'm here to escort the new Prince."  He dismounted.  "Stablehand?"

"Princess Alexander."

"I thought he was younger."

"The other one."

"Oh."  He blinked at him.  "Then why...."

"My father's attempt to humiliate me."  He shrugged.  "It means I'm not putting up with his drunken ass in close proximity."  He looked back there.  "She's getting changed.  I gave her something of mine to wear for the next few days."  She came out with her two trunks and her maid.  She was wearing leather pants and a flowing shirt with a vest overtop of it.  "Prince Buffy, this is Prince Don.  His brother is Princess Charlie, who was fussing all day."

She shook his hand.  "Thank you for the escort.  I hope I can get some pointers on the way there."

"You can.  Most of us are training very hard to resist his father."

"Give me a few years and you can slow down some," Xander quipped.  He grinned.  "Princess Charlie," he called, spotting him.  "Your brother is here."

He ran over and pounced his brother for a hug, grinning at him.  "My lessons are going very well."

"I'm happy."  He looked him over.  "Eat more often.  You're too skinny.  Dad would nag."

"He is.  The traveling took it from me."  He smiled at Buffy.  "Don's very good as the first born and our people all love him.  He's also quite the warrior."

She nodded.  "I need to learn that."  Don smiled and nodded.  "I'll let you two talk.  Let me get our horses."  She looked at Xander.  "Do we have stableboys?"

"I have no clue.  I've cleaned out mine's for the last few days," he said dryly. "You might."

"Huh."  She went in to get their horses.  Xander and her maid had to help her.  "I never learned this."

"You will there," Xander promised.

She smiled.  "That might be nice.  Some quiet thinking time on the horse."   She led them out once they were saddled.  "Is he staying for dinner and then we're leaving?" she asked.

"We're having a quiet brotherly meal before we go but it'll only be an hour," Don assured her.  She smiled and went to talk to Willow, who came out to see her off.

Xander looked at them.  "When I take over, come talk to me.  I'm all for making peace treaties to prove I'm not like him," he told Don, who smirked and nodded.  Xander walked off.  He had gotten his new things and had to put them up.  He thought it was excessive and too warm to wear them.  Thankfully he had a few that were in linen.  He bathed and went down to dinner a bit early.  The self defense teacher gave him an odd look.  "It's too warm for velvets."

"It is," he agreed.  "Still a bit too informal."

"I can put on the new fighting vest," he offered.

"Please don't.  She'll throw a fit."  He sipped his wine.  "The new prince?"

"Princess Charlie's brother showed up to escort her. They'll leave soon."  That got a nod.  Xander sat near him.  "She nagged me the other day about not being overly decorated?"

"Most princesses do wear finery and jewels."

"I only wear jewels on high festival days.  And then nothing too big or flashy."

"Most courts expect at least some jewels for formal occasions."

"I don't consider dinner a formal occasion.  Feasts maybe but not every night at dinner.  The girls don't wear that much either."

"They wear some but it is very subtle," the self-defense teacher corrected.  "You could do the same."

"The only things I wear on high festival days and for major celebrations like treaties is an earring and a bracelet.  I have a necklace but I hate it and I plan on giving it to whoever I choose as a wife."

"That's a good, manly bit of jewelry.  No one expects you to drip with jewels the way the upper princesses do sometimes.  They're doing it to show their status so their fellow princesses can talk to their brothers."

Xander shook his head.  "I couldn't have anyone that soft.  I'll be facing years of strife."

"Yes, you probably will be."  He smiled.  "It's wise that you think on such things but wearing to those around you."

"Better to be worn upon than to be trod upon," Xander said simply.

"True."  He nodded at the other teachers as they came in.  "You need to pull your grades up."

"I do my best.  Not all of us are scholars."

"No, not all of you are but we do expect better grades."

"I'm doing all the work and getting none of the smarts from it," he said.  "It is not my fault I do not understand a single thing two of the teachers say."

"No, that is because you're meant to be a warlord's son, not a princess," he agreed.

"Not my choice."

"I know."  He patted him again.  "Take your seat, Xander."  Xander nodded and went back to his seat.  He looked down the table. "Those who would unfairly grade his work due to his name, would you do the same when he takes over?"  They snorted and looked away.  "I thought as much."  He looked down there.  Xander just shrugged.  He did his best and no one appreciated that.


A few days later, Xander blatantly walked out of his math class.  "When you're ready to teach me something, I'll be found somewhere."  The teacher huffed.  Xander went outside.  There was no way he could sneak off riding so he climbed the stables and used them to get over the fence.  Then into the trees.  It was nice to be free.  It was like there was a special curse over the school to be bitches.  He stretched and got comfortable.

The headmistress was in a tizzy.  She had yelled at the teacher who had reported that the princess had went AWOL.  She had known about the grade things but apparently the boy was *touchy* about things.  She called in a senior princess who knew her most troublesome burden.  "Princess Genjo, where is Princess Alexander?"

"From what Goku said, he's in the woods.  He climbed the wall to get away from all the bullshit."  She gasped.  He stared her down.  "If he's trying his best and you're sabotaging him, that makes you nearly as bad as his father."  He walked off.  "Hakkai, go find Alexander."

"He's by the stream," Gojyo said absently.

"Crying no doubt," Goku sneered.  Genjo hit him with his fan.  "Hey!  What was that for!"

"For being a bitch," he said bluntly.  "Like the other princesses."  He walked off.  It was apparently up to him to find the kid.  He listened once he got into the woods.  No sounds of a young princess.  The birds all sounded normal.  The forest wasn't quiet in one direction.  He headed for the stream he had snuck out to think at a few times.  No kid.  He looked around, including in the trees.  He paused and stared.  "That's a nice trick," he said in normal voice.

Xander looked down at him.  "Go the fuck away, would you?  I've had enough of this shit and I'm making battle plans."

"If you don't graduate no one will listen to you."

Xander shrugged.  "They don't listen to me anyway.  Why should that be any different?"

"True but you can change that.  You can turn this into something that makes them respect you."

Xander snorted.  "Sure I can.  Because all this shit matters."

"It does to some people."

Xander looked down at him.  "I'll never have the stick up my ass the headmistress and the teachers have.  For that matter, they're not teaching to reality.  The real world isn't like what they think.  You may use manners but you also use weapons.  Even during formal dinners.  It's not the amount of jewels you own and flaunt, but the strength of the body wearing them and the will behind the made-up eyes.  All this has nothing to do with being a real ruler."

"It has some subtle lessons if you're willing to learn."

"I learned plenty of commanding."

"Leading a people isn't the same."

Xander looked at him.  "I guess that depends on if your kingdom is one of the stick-up-the-ass sorts.  Wouldn't it?"

"It would," he agreed, smiling slightly.  "Still, if you don't graduate, no one will even want to make peace treaties with your people."

"I've already got signed ones from most everyone that matters."  He hopped down out of the tree and looked at the older princess.  "I need a catalog I think you have.  May I borrow it?"  He smirked.

"Which one?"

"The Ever line."

The older princess stared at him.  "I sense evil thoughts."

"You should."  He grinned.  "But not for you or your people."

"That would be pleasant.  I'll have someone bring it to you.  Now, let's go.  Even the headmistress is pissed off."

"Yay.  She hates me anyway because I'm not a simpering little ninny with delusions of marrying a safe prince or princess and having a happily ever after."

"True.  It is easier for those sort.  Even I've had problems."

Xander nodded.  "I knew all along it was meant to humiliate me."  They walked back together.  The headmistress started to yell as soon as he walked in.  "Watch me pull back memories of people dying around me," he offered quietly.  She stopped and gasped, backing away from him.  "I have enough nagging going on by people who can't see the fields for the forest.  If anything she taught me had anything to do with actually ruling it'd be different."

"The Prince's Academy won't take you even if your father does declare him dead," she sneered.

Xander shrugged.  "A bunch of uptight hero wannabes who are trained to be noble and dance.  Yay.  Why would I want to be one of them?  When I take over I actually have to *rule* my people, not look pretty.  Not dress up fancy for every dinner.  I have to make sure my people are protected, are safe, are fed, watered, can earn money or trade credits to clothe themselves and their families.  Teaching me how to *dance* doesn't help any of that.  For that matter, none of my people do those uptight dances."  He walked around her.

"You should leave then."

Xander smirked.  "Can't or you'll get invaded.  He's already vowed it in front of a few leaders.  Didn't the girls warn you of that?"

Genjo stared at the boy's back.  He was a lot more than most of the other princesses thought.  He looked at the headmistress.  "I have heard such.  My uncle overheard his statement in a pub while traveling."  He walked back up to his rooms, sending the catalog down there.  He wanted to know what the kid was going to do with it.


It was the Yule Holiday break when Xander went home.  He was about a day late.  He had been waiting on a delivery.  So now here he was.  He was staring at the home castle and nodded.  The flags were up saying his father was home and had a hangover.  He had a nice letter back from the princess about his brother having died between their two kingdoms.  Though his father didn't believe it when his body had been brought in.  He had ranted drunkenly that it was a double done by witches.  Xander got something out of his bundle and rode down into the castle courtyard.  "I'll want her in a few.  Saddle one of the baggage mares too," he told the groom, who looked scared. 

"One of us will be burying a body."  He walked inside and opened the canister, throwing it into the throneroom.  Everyone in there choked and gasped.  His father ran out gasping for air.  It was simple enough for Xander to club him on the head.  He lifted his grotesque body up and out to the courtyard.  "Baggage mare?" he asked.  The groom shook but got one.  His father got strapped over her.  He remounted and looked around.  "I need some tent material."  It got brought.  "Just a canopy section and the poles."  It was handed over.  Xander nodded his thanks and rode off leading the other mare.  His father's drool made a nice trail to follow.


Xander finished setting up the mirror, watching his father wake up and moan.  "What's wrong?  Headache?" he demanded dryly.  He made sure his hand could reach the plate in front of him and the goblet.  "They're part of the Ever line, Father.  Just the best for you."  He went back to the horses to get something.  He threw the blanket over his father's naked back.  "There, that should help some."  He snapped and went to get the tent.  He brought it back and put the canopy over his father's position.  His father was bent over a sawhorse he had pounded together.  He had some padding from some blankets. 

He saw him trying to get free of the shackles.  "Sorry, they're also from the Ever line.  They're Ever tights."  He smirked.  "Only the best for you."  He put up a small light in the canopy.  "Now, that's an Ever On Fairy Light but it will have to recharge for two days each moon cycle."  He smiled.  "It'll go on when it gets dark."  He looked him over.  His father was naked, hitched down at a convenient height.  He snapped his fingers and went back to get something.  He put the three bottles on the shelf around his hips.  "I know it's Ever Slick but you never know how long that really lasts." 

He squirted part of the bottle into his father's ass without letting more than the bottle touch him.  "There, that's good."  He walked back and got something.  "I hereby proclaim you exiled and an Eternal Princess of the lineage," he said formally, hitching the tiara to his head no matter how much he fussed and fought.  "I proclaim you banished to this clearing in Wayfaira Woods.  May you be happy in your eternal exile here, Princess Tony."  He stepped back to stare at him.  "I'm sure you'll be quite happy here."  He smiled at the centaur coming over to investigate what is going on.  "I have banished my father from my lineage to this clearing.  He is now an Eternal Princess."

The centaur smiled.  "I know what that means.  Which are you?"

"His son, Alexander."  He walked back to the horses.  "The goblet is an Ever Full.  The plate is also an Ever Full.  If he needs more bottles, there's two extras and half of the original left."  He mounted his mare and tied the other back to his saddle.  He looked at the centaur.  "Until he dies, he is not to leave this clearing.  Do have fun with the new resident as he had fun with others."  He tipped his head.  "I'm sorry that he did that to your people years back."

"As are we.  We thank you for this gifts."

"Saves me from killing him.  I don't need or want more blood on my hands and he always did say that torture is better than a quick death for his enemies."  He nudged his mare and they rode off.  A few miles later he smiled as his father shouted.  "Good.  I'm sure he'll enjoy his time here."  He rode back to the castle.  The head of the guards and his father's right hand were waiting on him.  "I hereby proclaim that my father, the Warlord Tony DeMal, is forever banished from our lands.  He is encapsulated within a clearing in Wayfaira Woods forever more to serve his punishment for causing me and everyone so much shit." 

He stared at them, seeing the horrified looks.  "Furthermore, my father is banished from the lineage as an Eternal Princess, unable to regain any status within the bloodline and any status among others if they would take him in.  Which I doubt they will considering how he treated them."  The head of the guards nodded.  "Those who wish to serve his sentence with him, I'll give you a map and plans to build your own resting spot."  He got down and handed the horses off.  "Now, are there any counts of dissent?"

No one said anything.

"Good."  He smiled and walked past them.  "Is my visitor here yet?"

"Yes, My King," the head of the guards said.  "We had no idea why he was coming."

Xander looked at him as he walked into the throne room.  "Prince Don."  He shook his hand.  "I challenge you to find all the victims of my father's imprisoning and free them.  Including Queen Joyce so Buffy can quit nagging and hanging on you."

Don smiled.  "There's some here."

"Start with them then."  He sat on the throne, looking at the others.  "Bring me the alabaster box from the vault."  Someone went running for it.  They brought it back.  Xander ran a hand over it.  He had hand-carved it when he was younger.  "This is the box of treaties I have signed."  He handed it to his new right hand person.  "Announce that they are now in effect and that Prince Don is searching for all the imprisoned ones that are left."  His helper nodded, bowing and leaving.  "Tomorrow, first thing after breakfast, I want a status report of our real kingdom."

"Yes, sire."  He bowed again and backed out.

Don looked at him.  "Are you sure you want me to do it?"

"Yes.  You're neutral.  We don't have a treaty with you.  Buffy will appreciate it coming from you instead of me.  So will the others.  I've got to undo what he's done and remake the kingdom into what it once was."

"Fine."  He led the guards down to the dungeons to free the prisoners.  One was a commoner family and he stared.  He smiled at the child.  "Your father is now in charge."  She cheered and bounced around.  The guards who had served the family for years realized who she was and hurried them up so Xander could greet his daughter and heir.  Don went to free the others.  Joyce's family was in one of the cells.  "I know where your daughter is.  She's been pouting at me for days."  Joyce smiled and stroked his cheek, walking off.  "Xander is now in charge."

"I knew that.  No one else would free us without obligation."


That night after dinner, Xander looked up as Don led a smelly, tired looking woman into the room.  "Are you my mother or not?  I've always wondered that."

"I'm not.  I'm the mother of your elder brother."  She looked around.  "Where is he?"

"Killed by a dragon on the way to assassinate his future bride."  He settled into his chair.  "So who was my mother?"

"Some common hussy he knocked up.  Which makes you not really legitimate."

Xander smiled and held up the crystal rings he had taken off his father's hands.  They had formed into a single ring.  "Really?"  She moaned.  "You have a choice.  You can get cleaned up and live among the new staff and family or you can go back into hiding."

She sneered.  "I would rather go back to my rooms than to be forced to watch you rule, boy."

"That's your problem but I have to tell you, there's no more wine.  There's only one cask he hasn't poisoned."  She gasped and started to sob.  "So if you wish, we can find you a nice residence somewhere else."  She went back up to her room and summoned some wine.  Xander looked at Don.  "I suspected but never knew."

"So that was the old princess?"

"Yes, and that was also the twenty-five years of heavy drinking talking."  They shared a look.  Don rolled his eyes.  "Beyond that, I need a good spellbreaker.  He tied some of the spells to himself."

"That sucks," Don agreed.  He leaned on the arm of the throne.  "Anything else on your agenda?"

Xander showed him the map.  "This is our real kingdom, plus about two farms on each side so our boundaries are now the rivers."  Don smiled and nodded.  "My last point of agenda is that my daughter is not safe here so I'm going to ask a fellow classmate to foster her or find her a good foster parent."

"That's reasonable.  Are you going back for classes?"

"It's not really right that I go back to the Princess Academy since I'm not one.  I'd hate the Prince Academy since you guys are just as uptight and there's a whole lot of people who just want to dance and go be heroic."  Don laughed but nodded.  "So I say not."  He got comfortable.  "I'm changing the pillows on this thing."  Don walked out laughing.  "I'll ask later on for a treaty from your people."

"I can do that when I come back with a report of how many I've freed."

"Thank you."  Xander got up and went up to his current rooms.  Well, always had been his rooms.  His father's were locked so only he could get into them.


Xander came down a week later to find visitors being announced.  He walked out to the drawbridge to greet them.  He stared at one.  "Princess Genjo, what do I owe this honor to?"

"Your coronation?" he suggested with an evil look.

"I'm having a coronation?" he asked his helper.

"It is only right, sire."

"Good point. Maybe he can break the curse on my father's rooms so I can get the actual crown."  Genjo groaned and shook his head.  "That's why I've been putting it off.  Majordomo?" he yelled.  He came jogging out.  "See to our guests' needs."

"Sire, we must open the old parts of the castle that have not been scrubbed since before your birth."

"I only need a room," Genjo said.

"We have a suite in the east tower," he said.  "Do your staff require more than a single room?  I would never presume to know how much room they need."

"That will do.  It does at school."  He dismounted.  Xander handed his horse to a groom.  "May we clean up from our travels?"

"Of course, this way, sire."  He led them off.  He came back to look at Xander.  "We'll have to move you."

"Father's suite is still locked by magic," he said dryly.  He went up to show that to him again.

The demonic entity on the door growled.  "You are not the rightful king.  He is not dead so we may not let anyone pass."

"He's wishing for it," Xander said.  "I decided to punish him.  If he wishes death instead of dishonor then that is up to him and there is a slim dagger there so he can do such.  Instead it appears he likes being serviced in the woods."  The demon shuddered and Xander grabbed it since it had weakened.  It got broken.  The ones inside were still there.  The one blocking off the bedroom and the crown.  The other blocking off the closets.  The majordomo shuddered but got the wizard on staff to try to banish them.

Princess Genjo walked in and shot both demons.  "Banishing guns.  Very handy and easily concealed."

Xander grinned.  "Thank you for that service.  Can I talk to you later on something important?"

Genjo quirked up an eyebrow, lighting a cigarette.  "What?"  Xander was probably not going to call him on the unprincessly behavior.

"My daughter needs to foster somewhere safer and more sane.  I doubt these are the only demons around here."

"My people would ruin her and her spirit."  He stared at him.  "Ask Prince Don or his brother.  Or Princess Tony."  He strolled off.  "Can we have a maid?"

"Of course," the majordomo squeaked, calling out for all the help they had.  It was clear they were going to have to have a coronation soon.  They'd have to clean all the palace quickly while planning the festivities.

Xander got the crown and put it down in the throne room.  The guards in there moved to flank it just in case someone tried something.  Xander went up to help pack his suite and move it down to his father's.   They could pack all his things up and donate them to charity or something.  He'd hate that.


Xander looked up from sharpening his three-sided dagger kunai on the throne when more people stomped in.  "You're in luck, they're done cleaning a few rooms," he joked with a grin.

Don smiled back.  "Wonderful.  I have the report.  It's not pretty."

"I doubted it was."

"He had people under his control as far away as the Mountains."  Xander shook his head with a moan.  "Some were still in confinement.  Some were now in his employ so they were more free.  Including the Rosenburg family."  He paused then grimaced.  "He sent Willow to the academy so you'd meet.  He was planning on marrying you to her for heirs."

"I have an heir.  She needs a foster situation so she's safer and more sane."

"My father might consent.  I'll ask."  He smiled.  This whole freeing quest had given him a lot of status so now he was the top pick for most eligible, and soon to be widowed, princesses.  "You don't want to offer for my brother, right?"

"I think we'd drive him nuts.  He's pretty but no."

Don smiled.  "Thank you."  He showed him where he had gotten people free.  Xander slumped but looked it over.  "Freeing them means that there's going to be some jockeying for status and new treaties."  Xander grinned.  "Which means no one should want to attack you for a few years."

"I hope.  I've got to figure out why the crops weren't growing right.  That's the reason he had for going to take over the neighbors.  I've got the farmers coming in tomorrow to tell me about the current status.  Maybe they'll be able to tell me why everything tastes so bland too."

"They probably can."  He bowed.  Xander smiled and waved a hand.  "Thank you.  Rooms?"

"Your whole family is going in the first suite we've opened in the old part of the castle.  It's got four rooms?"

"That'll work.  Thank you, Ale...."

"Just Xander.  I hate the full thing."  Don nodded and left, being shown to his suite.  Xander tipped his head back.  "Damn it," he muttered.

"You worry that someone will see you as weak," Tony said, coming out of the back area.

Xander looked at him.  "They might think it but they'll never prove it."

"I know."  He smiled and handed him a goblet.  "Water?"

"Thank you."  He sipped.  "I missed dinner."

"I noticed."  He looked over as more people streamed in.  The majordomo came out to assign rooms.

"I gave Don's family that first suite," Xander told him.

"Yes, sire, you noted that on the charts."  He had to get a few a set of rooms in town, explaining that they were undoing the damage his father had caused for over twenty years.  They agreed it was fine and good for the locals.

Xander looked over as the last of the guests strode into the hall.  "Dean and Sam," he said happily, getting up to hug them.  "Welcome.  It's good your father finally let you go free."

Sam grinned back.  "He didn't want to but he had to come to the coronation."  He looked around.  "Wow, someone scrubbed."

"Earlier," Xander agreed.  He looked at Dean.  "Do you think you can talk your father into not sending more demons down here?  I know you guys are plagued and all that but damn.  One's in the crown and it speaks your language so I'm pretty sure it came from your dad."

"Originally Dad thought that your father was going to be a good, protective thing," Sam said.  He moved to look at the crown.  The guards growled.

"Let them," Xander ordered.  The guards got out of the way.  Sam looked over the crown, feeling the demon.  He touched it and the demon came out to charm him.  Which let Dean kill it; that's how that usually worked around them.  "Thank you!"

They smiled at him.  "Welcome," they quipped.

Dean looked outside. "I can hear Impala huffing so Dad's here," he quipped.  "She's getting old," he told Xander.

"Age comes to those who're lucky," he said.  He smiled at John when he walked in.  "King John."


"Try not using the full name?" he suggested.  "And not sending anymore demons at me, please?  They're causing me hell and I'm about to cause them the same sort."

"It wouldn't work if your father was dead."

"He's not dead.  He's in Wayfaira Woods."  He grinned.  "He needed some punishment for what he's done."

"I saw that," John said, glaring at the boy.  "You forgot to leave him a knife."

"No, he was getting one on the anniversary of his banishment.  I think it's fairly fitting with all he did."  He waved.  "Come inside and sit?"  They followed him back to the more informal sitting area off to the side of the throne.  "Thank you for coming to see me swear at people."

John smirked.  "You'll do fine."

Xander nodded.  "I've been going behind his back for years to get treaties started."

"I heard.  You didn't ask us?" Dean asked.

"I was going to ask you guys last.  Run up there to hide since everyone wants me to date Sam."

"I don't think that would get us heirs," John said bluntly.

"I have an heir."  John opened his mouth.  "Accident but I have Amellisame."  He whistled and she bounced out of the kitchens.  "Amellisame, this is King John and his sons Dean and Sam.  They're pretty good friends of mine."

"Good evening, King John, Princess and Prince," she said.

Sam smiled and pointed.  "He's the prince and first born.  But it's nice to meet you in person too, Amellisame."  She grinned.  He shook her hand.  "Are you going to come visit us some year soon for some fostering?"

"Nope.  Because John's a jackass."  John laughed but nodded.  "I figure that's the reason he doesn't have daughters."

"No, only boys.  Even when he broke his grief of our mother, he still had a boy," Sam quipped.  John glared at him.  "You did."

"I'd like her to be a more normal female prince," Xander said.  He patted her.  "Can you go tell King Alan King John is here?" 

She nodded and bounded off.  "King Alan!  King John is here!"

"She's a great herald," Alan said as he came up the hallway.  "Why don't you go distract Charlie from reading something boring?"  She beamed and ran off to do that.  He sat down after shaking the others' hands.  "She's a darling child, Xander, and of course we'd love to have her to foster.  It's not like I'm getting grandchildren anytime soon."

Xander grinned.  "Prince Buffy has been hanging all over Don."

"I've seen.  Her mother's nice and I like her mother."  He looked at John.  They were both single thanks to the loss of their wives.  They both had two sons.  Though John's kingdom had demons in every corner and Alan's didn't.  They had kept in touch through the years.  "Did you already work a treaty with them?"

"I was going to go to them last," Xander said.  "I've known them for years and everyone always wanted me to date one of them.  It used to be Dean until they realized my brother would never ascend the throne."

John shook his head.  "I don't think it'd suit either family.  We're too far apart to consolidate."

Xander got up to get a map and brought it back.  "This is where I kept our lines at.  I bargained for a few farms on each edge.  They had things that I really liked and that let us put the boundaries at the rivers."

John and Alan both nodded. "Good plans," Alan agreed.  "I know you've been doing treaties."

Xander grinned.  "I promised Don if he quested to free all the ones my father had hostage, I'd set up one with you as well."

"That's more than acceptable."  Alan smiled at the map.  "What happens if someone tries something?"

"Then they'll find out we're not weak and we will help our neighbors defend themselves.  That was part of each contract."

"Good thinking," John agreed.  "You guys here in the flatlands are more vulnerable."

"Speaking of, Princess Genjo is here," Xander told him.  "From the land of Sanzo."

John grimaced.  "Uptight scholars," he muttered.

"Not him.  Uptight, scholar, but not that way."  He looked around.  "Goku, would you please tell your princess that King John and his sons are here?" he asked, spotting him going into the kitchen.

"Sure thing, Xander."  He jogged back there then went to get  a midnight snack.

Xander grinned.  "He nagged me so much when I was at the Academy.  Gave me his catalog for the Ever line too."  John choked and spluttered, shaking his head.

"I take it some of those are in use on your father?" Alan asked.

Xander smiled.  "I got really mean and evil.  I did something Dad would've done."  Alan shuddered.  "And on the year anniversary of his banishment into an Eternal Princess, I'll go give him a dagger."  He smiled sweetly.

"I'm smelling evil thoughts again," Genjo said as he joined them.  "King John, King Alan, Prince Dean and Princess Sam."  He nodded to each of them.  "Is the border resecured?"

"I'm still working on it," John said.  "Your side?"

"I've sent word back on the coronation and my family has lost its mind.  It wanted me to make a treaty."

Xander smiled.  "I'm not against helpful treaties.  Helping you defend yourself and all that is good to me, as well as trade treaties."  He smirked.  "And since we make the smokes you like so much, we can even include some of those as a tithe for any trade treaty."  Genjo smacked him with his fan.  "Ow."  He rubbed the sore spot but grinned.  "We can."

"We'll see."  He looked at the higher ups.  "Beyond that, we might be coming up on that prophesied trip."

"If so, let me know so we can give you what aid we can," John ordered.

"I can do so."  He nodded.  "Let me go retrieve Goku before he eats the kitchen bare."  He left.  That was very interesting.  The two princes apparently knew Xander very well with how comfortable they were with him.  "Get out of the food.  Other people want something to eat tomorrow," he ordered.  Goku whined but brought his sandwich up to their room.

Xander grinned. "He was working with Princess Anthony on his fan work too."

John nodded.  "It's a very nicely hidden weapon."  They went over the maps and what problems they had been seeing recently.

"What about where your father was trying to dictate younger siblings marriages for contacts?" Alan asked.  "He forced many of the families he held to make marriage treaties."

"I leave that up to their families.  If they want to continue it, that's up to them.  If not, I'm not going to protest.  I have nothing to do with any of that."  They got back to brainstorming about any future problems. 

When it was time to retire, John looked at Xander.  "I left him a knife."

"He hasn't used it yet so apparently he doesn't mind that much," he said.  "When I leave him the one on his anniversary I'll send you yours back."

"That's mean."

"He deserves it.  There's dozens of royal families that would think that was too nice of me, John."

"I agree, it was, but he needed that option to finish his own dishonor off."  Xander smiled and patted him on the arm.  "Send it back when he's dead."

"I can do that."  He walked him up to his rooms.  "Have a good rest."  He went to his own room.  His temporary concubine was waiting on him.  "Hey," he said, getting happy.


Dean looked up and sighed, shaking his head.  "Xander's getting some stress relief," he said.

John looked in that direction.  "I don't even want to know why she's squealing like that."

Sam blushed and ducked his head.  "She's enjoying it, that's all that matters."   He made himself quit blushing.  "Dad, doesn't Wayfaira Woods have dragons, imps, and centaurs?"

"Tree fairies, not imps," John said absently.  "And yes, they do."  He shuddered.

"What did he do?" Dean asked.

"He named him an Eternal Princess," John said, looking at his eldest son.  "And all that entails."

"Like in that one myth where the princess was given as reparation for a war?"

"Yes.  Exactly.  He used quite a lot of the Ever line to make it pleasant for him."

Dean shuddered.  Sam curled up some.  "He deserved it," Sam agreed.

John looked at him.  "How did you know what sort of noise she was making?"

"Because you sent me with that aphrodisiac poison?" he guessed.  "That his father wasn't here to get?"  John winced.  "Yeah!  Thanks, Dad!"  He got up and stomped off.

"At least Xander was good to Sammy," Dean muttered.  "He'd probably make it fun enough I guess.  Not that it's my thing."  He went back to his reading.


Princess Genjo walked up the hallway.  "Is there a problem?" he asked the guards.  "I can do a banishing if she's possessed."

"No, she's not," one of the guards said, wincing at a new squeal.  "That's not a demon in there, Princess."

"If you're certain."  It went quiet and the door opened.

"Damn it, she passed out again.  Got smelling salts handy?" Xander asked.  He looked up.  "Hi, Princess Genjo.  Sorry to have let her get that loud."  He took the small bottle and walked back inside to use it on her.

Genjo walked off mentally shaking his head.  He waited until he was out of sight to shiver.  His people stared at him.  "She had the most scary smile on her face while passed out."

"I knew it wasn't more than a 'more, damn it' scream," Gojyo said.  "Girls only squeal like that when you hit their sweet spots."

Hakkai sighed, looking at him.  "Not everything has to do with sex."

"Yeah, some things are about food," Goku agreed.

Genjo got them all with the fan and went to bed, alone.


Xander looked at the two princesses the next morning.  "Tony, your father sent word that they're safe and fine."  Tony looked at him.  He handed over the message.  "Apparently 'Uncle' Rory is trying to bother him.  He sent your brother out to handle him and wanted tips on how to best get him.  I told him to poison the liquor stash."  Genjo shook his head subtly.  Xander smiled and handed him the other one.  "Your people are most polite."

"I sent word home that I was coming for the coronation and that if a treaty was called for I would do one," Genjo said, reading the still-sealed note.  "Oh, my."

Xander glanced over his arm.  "That's interesting."  Genjo glared at him.  He shrugged.  "I know I expected to make a political marriage.  I'm surprised I haven't seen more than that offer so far."  He got something to drink and sat down.  "Other than that, as my official spouse I'd give you the house I was planning on for my official concubine or the official surrogate."  He sipped his coffee.

"Ours has a nice house out back of the castle," Tony said.

Xander smiled.  "We have a house out in the gardens.  Six bedrooms, full library and kitchen, greeting rooms and a sitting room.  It's right on that odd sand garden my father had built for some unknown reason and right past all the fancy hedges and the maze.  Plus it has a garage or stable area, whichever is needed."  He sipped his coffee.  "Of course if they wanted to stay in the palace I'd have the old consort's chamber remade.  It's not even been cleaned yet."

"That house is bigger than my younger brother's hide-away for use with his new wife if he ever gets one," Tony said, considering it.  "It sounds nice."

"It's very pretty.  All light woods and actually clean.  I think Father was going to put my next stepmother out there if he could ever kill off the one upstairs."  He finished his coffee and got a pastry.  "Let me go back to fussing at people who are complaining.  I can hear it starting."  He looked at the two princesses.  "There is no need to do more than agree a treaty would be nice and we can work on that without any family pressure."   He head-bowed and left.

"I've got to kill some of my people," Genjo said, walking off.

Tony giggled.  "I would too.   I might be because mine want me to marry Princess Willow."

"Now that's a fate worse than death," Genjo said dryly.  He disappeared up to their rooms.  "My father has lost his fucking mind," he complained as he walked in.

Hakkai smiled.  "Did he send notice that you're to make a treaty?  I know the last one you started to work on ended up in a duel."

"No, he wants me to marry Xander."  The three companions shut up and stared at him in open mouthed horror.  He sat down.  "He told me how an official spouse would have a house on the edge of the gardens if he or she preferred."

"Oh, wow," Goku said.  "That's... really weird."  Genjo nodded.

Hakkai cleared his throat.  "Well, I suppose it could be worse.  He could expect you to be one of the magical princesses that could bear her own heirs."  Genjo glared at him.  "He could."

"No, he mentioned an official concubine or surrogate."  He finished his coffee.  "Princess Tony's people are dealing with Xander's uncle."

"Poison the liquor," Gojyo said.

"That's what he said."  He rubbed his forehead.  "For some reason I have a very nasty headache coming."  Hakkai helped him by working out the huge knot of stress in his shoulders.  "Thank you," he said quietly.

"You're most welcome."


Xander looked at the rite of ascension that they had ready for him.  "This really won't do.  Isn't there one from before we were warlords?"

"No, your father had that book burned," the majordomo said quietly.

"Not in a journal, not anywhere in a history book?"  They shook their heads.  "We can't write our own?"

"No, sire.  It's not done.  This is about tradition."

"I'm changing my father's traditions.  Why should we have to verbally joust during it?"

"We can only really find this one, sire.  There's no alternative."

Xander huffed.  "Fine.  Then we'll be reworking part of it to fit the current circumstances."  He made notes on the book, hearing the gasps but ignoring them.  "As I'm not going to be a warlord that point's moot."  He looked it over.  "Do I have to present my heir?"  They all nodded.  "My stepmother is probably going to cause a fit here?"

"Yes, sire, she's already stated she is."

Xander looked at that person.  "Are there any other heirs?  We've researched, all that?"

"No, sire. Your father had them put to death shortly after he took the throne."

"Pity.  I could use a few cousins who hated her drinking."  He went back over it.  "If we state that I'm not a warlord it should help.  Though I guess it means I get to wear comfortable things during it."

"Your father was most scandalous wearing his fighting leathers, sire," one said quielty.

Xander looked at the majordomo.  "Get my daughter dressed up for it?"  He nodded with a smile.  "She's going to King Alan for some fostering."

"That is very good.  She'll learn a lot about good governance from him."  Xander smiled.  "What of your clothes, sire?"

Xander looked down then at him.  "My preferred clothes are my leather vest and pants with a shirt."  The majordomo winced.  "I can make it a full jacket if you wish.  My new surcoat that has leather and velvet might do?"

"I'll look at it.  If not, we'll figure something out.  Jewels?"

"I have the earring I was given for my majority.  I have my bracelet I picked out from that one raid.  I have the necklace I hate.  What more do I need?"

"It would look better if you looked more affluent," his majordomo said.

"Which would be flaunting my father's former habits back onto everyone," Xander countered.

"Yes, it might."  He considered it.  "We'll see.  Humble yet strong and warrior-like isn't that hard to plan for."  He left to get with the court tailor.  Now that the man had been freed from prison he was much nicer to deal with.  Xander would never jail someone for life because they had stuck him in the rump with a pin during a fitting.

Xander looked at the others.  "When Amellisame goes to King Alan, she goes with a guard.  A single bodyguard.  I don't want to insult them but I know someone will try on her what they have on me."  That got a nod and his head guard went to pick one out for her.  Best to get that started now.

Don looked up from his reading in the corner.  "No one would dare hurt her, Xander."

"Yes they would.  They tried to poison me my first official night at the Academy, which by tradition is neutral ground."  Don winced.  "There's plenty that think blood tells, Don.  I would rather not deal with those sort or make her deal with them."

"I can understand that and my father would happily agree to a personal guardian while with us."  He smiled.  "Your father's journal is not informative."

"No, it's probably not.  Have you talked to King John?  Those two started out friends and then my father turned into a drunken asshole."

"I haven't."

"Someone fetch King John?" Xander called.  John came in a few minutes later.  "First, Prince Don wanted to know if you knew of any other enclaves of tied up royals?  And second, if the demon in the crown takes me over during the coronation it's probably not going to be a great thing and they will sacrifice your younger son to be my wife to help poor, possessed me.  Especially since we all know I keep the memories of possessing people."  He pointed at the crown.  "Once again, it speaks your people's language."  He smiled.

"I did not send it.  It may be that curse I enacted though."  He checked the crown and did a banishing charm.  "That should help and I'll check it the day of the coronation for you, Xander.  I forgot that curse meant you were too open to being possessed."  He stared at him.  "You keep the memories?"

"That's why I'm such a good field medic," he said dryly.

"Crap," John muttered.  Don cracked up laughing.  "That's not good."

"Should've heard the shit when he sent me to that group of shaman by the Sanzo border," Xander quipped.  John paused and stared at him.  "Yeah, the ones doing possessions?  He was not pleased that I can revert during bad times or when he tries to poison me.  Though it being the matriarch hyena gave him fits of glee," he finished sarcastically.

"Hyenas are female headed," John said. 

Xander smirked and nodded.  "I know."

"We can try to remove that," John offered.

"I saw your younger son and had him try.  No go," Xander quipped, waving a hand.

"Shit."  He walked over to talk to Don about the other enclaves of tied up royals.  Not all were done by his father but most of them.

Xander relaxed and let the plans go on around him.  His fitter showed up with the coat he had in mind, scowling already.  "What?  The tailor by the Princess Academy said it was fashionable.  We all know I don't care as long as I'm covered, clean, and comfortable."

"It's very peasanty, your grace," the tailor said.

Xander looked at him.  "Then figure out what isn't but is subtle and not pushing our former bad habits back into the attendees faces."  He nodded, showing him a few drawings.  "Nor am I one of the tight wearing, stick-up-the-ass sort of royalty," he said firmly at the first one.  "If I'm wearing tights, there had better be a curse involved and then I'd probably end up fucking them into letting me go.  Again."  John flinched and stared at him.  Xander stared at him.  "Not yours."  John slumped.  "Though it was nice that the military group that he sent after me to kill me are better friends now."  He shifted and looked at the tailor.  "Simple, nice.  Tasteful.  No dripping jewels or other things that show our wealth since we're giving back almost all of the stolen lands."

"I can do something, your grace."  He bowed and went back to his workshop.  He took that hideous jacket as well to fix the problems with it.  It would also give him good measurements of his lord's current body so he wouldn't need as much fitting.

Xander looked at the king and prince.  "Do I really want to rule this?"

"No," John said.  "None of us do."

"Good to know."  He got up.  "I'm going to hide in the maze in the garden."  He left, getting something to drink on his way out there.  He had seen the heavily canopied and flagged wagon train coming and he did not want to deal with his former headmistress or her ideals of appropriate.  He ran into Gojyo on his way to the maze.  "Headmistress is here."

"I'll warn the princess."  He went to do that.  "The local Princess is hiding from your headmistress," he said in greeting.

"Wonderful."  He went to greet her, sending Goku to warn Tony and the others that had shown up so they could do the same.  The majordomo was trying to tell her that the castle wasn't ready for her.  "The former Warlord didn't have a thing cleaned for a quarter of a century," he told her.  She grimaced.  "They're reopening the older parts of the castle and cleaning it but it's taken days and half of everyone is in town."  He looked around.  "Hakkai, ask Alexander if the headmistress can have that house he mentioned to stay in?"

"Where is he?" Hakkai asked.

"Heading for the maze," Gojyo said.

"Give me a few minutes then."  He walked off.  The headmistress in a snit was fun to watch but you had to be out of harm's way when her temper blew.  He found Xander.  "Can the headmistress have that nice little house for a bit?" he asked politely.

Xander smiled.  "Think it'll keep the nagging down?"


"Me either."  He walked him out there.  "This is the house I told him about."

"It's a charming house."  He looked it over.  "Give her a servant to abuse?"

"If not I'll get one of the townspeople who wants some extra money."  He went to talk to her.  He looked at is majordomo. "Yes, she can reside in the house meant for an official surrogate."  The majordomo smiled.  "It's clean but she'll still need a housekeeper for now.  Pull one off the cleaning crew or hire someone else?"

"I can do so.  Madam, this way," he requested.  She nodded, following him.

"Thank you for coming to my coronation.  I'll speak with you later, once I'm not having a headache from all the details."  He walked off rubbing his head.  Her perfume was *way* too strong and killing his brain cells.

Hakkai smiled and followed his princess there since he was escorting her.  "It's a very charming little house and there's a zen garden out back," he said.

"Nice," Genjo said quietly.  The gardens were pleasing and nicely manicured.  "He let the palace go to hell but kept the gardens up?"

Hakkai coughed.  "One of the prisoners wished it when she was pregnant with a new heir.  He decided it wouldn't do any harm as he was trying to get a new spouse once his last one died."

"That figures."  He looked over the house, nodding.  "It's very nice.  I think Alexander said six bedrooms."  The headmistress nodded.  That would make her retinue double up but that was fine.  The library was empty but well laid out.  The greeting and living rooms were nicely appointed.  The kitchen as well.  Genjo looked out the back door and found the zen garden and a vegetable garden.  "Interesting."  He walked off to let her unpack.  His people followed.  The headmistress never talked to them as they were his retinue.  "I wonder if that's the only one around here."

"I've seen two others," Goku said, leading them toward the back side of the gardens.  "Smaller I think."  They looked in those tiny houses and they were nice as well.  Clearly meant for concubines or nannies, someone important to the family but not in the hierarchy.  They went back inside to hear a loud 'I am not wearing my grandfather's emerald cross!  It's ugly, weighs ten pounds, and did I mention ugly' from the throne room.   Genjo laughed but they stayed out of it.  There was no way he was getting in the middle of that argument, no matter who wanted what.


The Headmistress was scowling at her former pupil.  "Your coronation outfit should be more showy."

"Why rub what he did in their noses?" Xander countered.  She blinked at him.  He stared at her.  "I think that sends the wrong message."

"I can see that point.  Still, it's very plain and unassuming."

"So am I."  He stared at her.  "I'm also not wearing many jewels.  Though I have heard rumors that someone went to dig up my grandfather to get the family seal?" he asked his head guard.

"I had heard that rumor as well.  I remember history class said he was buried with it so his son-in-law could not have it."

Xander nodded.  "That's tasteless but okay.  I think he'd be happy that we're undoing the damage."  He looked at his headmistress.  "Any other advice you wish to give, Headmistress?  I know it's a quick affair.  I didn't really announce my intentions to end my father's rule."

"There needs to be a great feast."

"I'd have to order food.  My father made the local farmers use a certain fertilizer that creates blandness in the foods.  I've already undone that law and a few others.  Though I kept the law for the blood prayers to the fields.  Because, eww."  The headmistress gave him an odd look.  "It comes from the north, up by King John's people."  She nodded at that.  "There'll be a huge feast and celebration in town.  We have plans of having three days of celebration.  We didn't have time to get in much in the way of our entertainment.  Some fireworks for that night.  Not a lot of wine since he poisoned most of the casks in the cellar so he could gift it about."  Not that he wanted a lot of drunken revelry but to each their own.  "Prince Don thinks he'll have the last few enclaves freed by then or he'll be back and then free whatever remains."

"The princesses are all quite happy that he's gotten so much status and that you enjoyed his quest," the headmistress said.

"Don's a stand-up guy.  Very ethical.  Very smart.  His father's the same way and so is his brother.  Even though his brother is a major brain I still like him.  King Alan was nice to my family until my father got too drunk a few decades back."  He looked over as Charlie walked in.  "Did you raid the library yet?  There's all sorts of books in there I'll never understand."

"I have looked.  There's a lot in there."

Xander smiled.  "If your father allows, you can definitely stay to help my librarian clean up that mess and study from it."

Charlie beamed.  "Thank you, Xander."

"Welcome, Charlie.   Have fun studying."

"I will."  He walked off, going to dig into the library in earnest now.  His little helper, Amellisame, was more than happy to help him take a book inventory.

"That was my heir following him," Xander said with a smile.  "She adores him reading and teaching her."

"She's very pretty."  The headmistress sighed.  "Are you planning more children?"

"We're already picking an official surrogate.  Or an official concubine."  He shrugged.   "Whichever way that works out."  She gave him an odd look.  "A few years back, King John decided to try to poison my father with an aphrodisiac poison called Gentrus.   Unfortunately he wasn't here and the curse on Princess Sam meant he had to give it to a member of the royal family.  Which meant Princess Sam and I had some fun times.  It did leave me with a lot of stamina and a lot of needs though."  He looked over at Sam.  "Did you ever punch him for that?"

"Twice."  He smiled.  "It wasn't too bad.  The effects are still lasting?"

"Yeah.  They had started to slow down and then he sent me to the shaman."

"Oh, crap," Sam muttered, walking off to yell at his father about that again.

Xander smiled at his headmistress.  "Sam, Dean, and I have been friends even if our fathers were at war.  We're a lot alike."

"I can see why."  She looked around.  "You need decoration."

"It'll come as it does.  It probably won't be done by the ceremony though.  Apparently my father had many of them burned in a fit about them making him look bad because they were hiding imaginary, drunken soldiers to kill him."

She just nodded and left him to his planning.

"Imaginary soldiers?" John demanded.

"He was so drunk and slightly food poisoned while on campaign that he came back and found assassins hiding everywhere."  He casually waved a hand.  "He had everything that might hide one removed and burned."

"That figures with the source.  I did not mean to get you hit with that, Alexander."

"It's suitable that the cause and the cure were the same."  John blushed.  "We *can* find peace now?  And you *can* remove that curse?"

"I can remove that curse," he agreed, getting Dean and Sam to uncurse the crown again.  Like usual, the demon was drawn to try to own Sam and Dean got it dead.  John shook his head.  Xander grinned.  "There's been those who suggested that an alignment marriage is in order."

"Princess Genjo's people said the same thing."

John shuddered.  "They're very uptight, Xander.  You'd have to have a concubine."

"Thanks to that poison, I do anyway."

"We heard, dude," Dean assured him with a grin.  "Did Sammy squeal that way?"

"According to the bards I heard last weekend, you'd already know the answer to that question," Xander joked with a smirk back.

Dean shook his head.  "Not again," he complained.  Xander smiled and nodded.

"I'll have it stopped again," John complained.  "Maybe I'll marry you off to one of Princess Genjo's five siblings."  He walked off.  "I'll end the curse once I get home."

"Thank you."  He looked at them.  "Wanna sneak out and go do something?" he mouthed.  They smiled and nodded.  "Let's go."  He got up and they grabbed gear to go hunting in the woods behind the castle.  It was a nicely needed stress break.


Sam and Dean walked into the castle carrying two trussed up deer.  "Here," Sam said with a grin.  "Alexander and us hunted for the feast."  The cook beamed and babbled at them in her strange language while patting the deers.  She pulled out a cleaver and the guys got out of the way.

Xander strolled in with a huge egg in his hands.  "We found this.  It should still be unsat on."  He put it on the table carefully.  "It still sounds liquidy instead of solid.  No mama dragon around that we could tell either."  Her squeal filled the castle with noise.  Xander smiled.  "Sam found the nest."  He looked at the deer.  "Did we forget the turkey?"

"You lost it to the ogre when we used it as a distraction," Dean reminded him.  "That clobber on the head from it clearly scrambled your brains."  He led him off with Sam helping.  "Dad, we ran into an ogre.  We killed it but not before it batted Xander on the head."

"Figures.  It's not the first one," John complained, cracking up everyone who heard.  Xander was well known for getting into such things.  He checked him over.  "Go nap, Xander."

"Yes, sir."  He headed up to bed and his concubine.

"I mean sleep, not keep others up with the squealing," John ordered.

"Fine."  So maybe not a nap with his concubine.

John looked at his sons.  "Did you find anything good?"

"Two deers and a turkey that the ogre ate," Sam said with a smile.

"The ogre was eating the raw eggs from a dragon's nest and we saved the last one," Dean said.

John smiled.  "Good job, boys.  It's dead, right?"  They nodded.  "Even better."  He went to check on the deer and the egg.  He tapped it.  "Never sat on.  You might want to chill it.  I have no idea how old it is."

The cook smiled.  "Even if it is too old, even having one is a great omen."  He nodded and left her to her cooking.

"We are not keeping a dragon around the castle, no matter that Prince Alexander would be the only one who could tame one," a male voice complained.

"My dragon is not that type," Hakkai said simply, then walked off.

"Not yours!  Yours has use!  I'm talking about a newborn dragon!"  He stomped in to check on the egg.  "No hatchling?"

"No, still liquid."  She tapped the shell with a nail to open a hole.  She sniffed.  "Not bad yet."  He grimaced.  "We will show the shell."  He nodded and sent out guards to look for more abandoned nests.  Such things were good omens to people but bad for the kingdom because it drew things like ogres.  Which inevitably either injured or wanted to keep their crown prince.


Xander looked up from his dinner when someone started to argue.  He cleared his throat and stared.  "If you're going to duel, I get to have fun too."  They quit arguing and settled back in.  "Thank you.  I think we all have enough tension with tomorrow's coronation."  He stuffed his mouth.

The others went back to gossiping about what they had heard about the ceremony, or ignoring it all as childish like Genjo and John.

One of the female princesses in attendance strolled up to Xander's seat and smiled in a flirty way.  "Have you thought about taking a consort yet, Prince Alexander?"
He nodded.  "It'd have to be someone who could help me learn to fight better and protect us all. They'd have to love my daughter like a true mother would."  He ate another bite of meat and chewed slowly.  "They have to remember that we're in reformation and not be an abominable bitch to the commoners."

She pouted.  "So no traditional princess?"

He looked at her.  "How would one of you deal with it when someone decided they wanted to make sure I never turned into him?" he asked quietly.  "There are still people like that."

She nodded.  "I'll consider that."

He smiled.  "You'd have to bear at least three heirs plus help me raise my first one to be an acceptable prince."  She shuddered and shook her head, walking off.

"Four children?" Tony asked.  "I know it goes prince, princess, princess, prince."  Xander smiled and nodded.  "You really want that many?"

"Yes.  That way I can pick one that's decent."

He laughed and smiled.  "That's not a bad idea.  How would you work that with a male princess?"

"An official surrogate.  They could have one or more.  I can have a few.  If I had a cousin I'd suggest that but apparently I don't."

"That makes a lot of sense," Tony agreed, smiling at his table.

The others agreed it did.  Xander was making excellent plans so far.


Xander was standing in front of his throne.  He was wearing a black and blue velvet  long surcoat that was open to show his white silk shirt and black leather pants.  His combat boots were nicely shined.  The usual jewelry was on and now he was wearing his official diadem, which had been found in the family vault.  His head chancellor, now freed from prison for insulting his father's intelligence, was holding the book.  "Do you swear to uphold our traditions?"

"I do," Xander agreed.

"Do you intend to conquer and let our enemies know that they should fear?" he read.

"No, I do not."  People gasped.  "Unlike my predecessor, I am not a warlord.  I am a prince of the family lineage.  Our enemies will still know fear and destruction but I have no need of proving our might by conquering innocent neighbors and associated lands."

The chancellor nodded.  "That is reasonable with our older traditions."

"I hope we can return to them instead of the more modern ones that cause so much harm."

"The lineage would appreciate that."

His mother appeared, looking wild eyed and drunk, of course.  "I curse you."

"I doubt it'll work since you're so drunk," Xander quipped.

"You are not my son, not a son of the line!"

Xander stared at her.  "There are no other heirs, Stepmother.  He made sure of it, as you did, when he took his oaths.  As such, it falls to his second son to restart the lineage.  For that matter, your son was a drunken rapist most of the time so clearly not worthy by your own father's standards.  We have searched for any hidden relations?" he asked his majordomo.

"We have, sire.  There are not any remaining beyond some fifth and sixth cousins a few times removed.  At their coronation feast, most of the family was fed poison and died within a month of him taking the crown.  The last few got hunted down."  Xander's stepmother shrieked and rushed Xander, who kindly put her down.  She sobbed onto the wood floors.

"I feel pity for you, Stepmother.  You and he ruined a good kingdom and a good lineage.  I gave you the choice of going to a private residence to live out the rest of your days and you flapped off to your tower room and the wine cellar."  He turned her over.  "Doing so now only hurts the remains of your family.  Which I will not have as I do not care about you that way any longer."  She shrieked and pulled out a dagger.  He took it from her.  "Doing so in front of guests is rude.  If you wish to end your dishonorable life, then do so in private."  He tossed the dagger into a nearby couch.  "Leave, Stepmother, never to return.  You can join Father in the woods if you wish."  She whimpered.  He got free of her and returned to his spot.  "Yes, the lineage's older traditions will be upheld and remade to settle in with modern ways."

The chancellor cleared his throat.  "How will you ensure the lineage will go on?"

"This is my daughter, Amellisame."  He held out a hand and she walked up to him.  She was dressed up in a nice princess gown of pale cream and red ribbons. He smiled at her then at the chancellor.  "She is my heir and once I am suitably married we will see if she continues to be my heir or if she wants to do things that are better for the world.  She has inherited my gifts for healing."

The chancellor smiled at the child.  "That is a very special gift."  He took off Xander's diadem and put it on her head.  "Prince Amellisame."  He got the crown.  John had checked it right before the coronation.  He put a hand out and stopped Xander from putting it on, having Sam and Dean dedemon it again.  "Thank you, King John."

"I'll end that curse now that your kingdom is no longer under faulty management."

Xander smiled.  "Thank you, King John and his sons."  He bowed his head and the crown was put on.  He stood there, letting everyone see him.  He took it off to look at the crown and then at John.  "You forgot one," he said, his voice altered.  Sam muttered something and started a banishment.  So did Genjo.  Finally the demon fled.  Amellisame was giggling.  Xander put the crown, which now had a hole in it to make sure it was not able to hold another demon, back on and sat on his throne.  "So mote it be."

"So mote it be," the rest of the guests repeated.  Then the cheers started.

Xander smiled.  "For now, there's a feast waiting in the great hall.  I'll join you in a minute."  They all walked that way.  Xander looked at John, then Sam and Dean.  "I'm sorry if people assume."  They smiled and went to the dinner.  Xander walked his daughter out to the balcony overlooking the town.  The townspeople were staring.  "It is done and I am king," he announced.  The town cheered.  "I declare a three day feast and rest period.  Then we will work on rebuilding our kingdom to the glory it once held."  That got a louder cheer.   He picked up his daughter to put her on his hip.  "Your crown prince, Amellisame."  That got a third cheer and the townspeople broke up to go celebrate.  Xander looked at her.  "I think they like you."

She smiled.  "We're likeable."  She hugged him.  "You're wrinkling me."

He put her down and took her hand.  "I'm wrinkling me too."  She giggled and they walked into the great hall to start the feast.  It was a happy time in his kingdom.


Xander got up the next morning to wish some of his guests good trips.  A few were staying to work through a better treaty than Xander had created before.  He also apparently had a meeting with someone who wasn't there for the coronation.  He walked in and found people in formal robes like Princess Genjo wore, with the same lotus crown and veil on their head.  "Prince Sanzo?"

"I am," he said, shaking his hand.  "My father wishes to set up a formal relation."

"That's wonderful."  He sat down and smiled.  "Do you need tea or anything from your journey?"

"Not yet."  He smiled.  "We wish to seal the alliance with a ritual marriage."

"I know it's my duty to wed someone some day.  I'm sure Princess Genjo is very nice when he's had his coffee in the morning."  Prince Sanzo snorted, shaking his head.  "Or did you have someone else in mind?  I do have to note that you are not the only one with that idea in mind."

"No, he was our willed one."

"I would have to talk to him and he would have to consent as well.  It would be a political marriage as I doubt he'd enjoy squealing with me most nights."

"That would be acceptable to our people.  Most of ours are."  He looked around.  "He slept in?"

"No, I believe he's seeing the headmistress off."  He rolled his eyes.  He looked at his guard.  "Tell Princess Genjo that his people are here?"  He nodded and bowed, leaving to do that.  Xander looked at him.  "We can do an alliance or treaty without the marriage if it does not work out suitably.  I'm in no means like my father."

"I know."  He handed over the scroll.  "What our people wanted to offer."

Xander looked it over.  He picked up a pen and made a few notes then handed it back.  "It is mostly acceptable.  I did promise the princess that I would include some of his favorite cigarettes as a tithe for a trade agreement."  He smiled.  The prince raised an eyebrow.  "I believe some of his retinue smoke."

"That makes more sense.  Most of us do not see that as living the proper life of a princess."

"Some of us were never meant to be the formal, fussy sort of princesses," Xander quipped with a grin.  "I certainly wasn't."

"As we heard," he agreed.  His princess walked in and bowed properly.  "Princess Genjo, our King wished to set up an alignment marriage."

Genjo looked at him.  "What of the prophesied trip I am due to go on soon?"

"This being west of us, you're halfway there."

"If so, I've already noted that he would have his choice of his own home on the castle grounds or the consort's suite," Xander said.  "Though I would remind you that you are not the only one with such ideas."

"We will prevail.  Not much gets past a Sanzo."

Xander smiled at him.  "We'll see how things work out.  I barely know your princess from self-defense lessons and him beating me with his fan now and then."

The prince coughed.  "It is good he was helping train you."  Genjo got some tea and chairs pulled in so they could talk.  The other two who wanted to offer for Xander's hand decided not to mess with the Sanzo kingdom.  John offered Sam to keep Xander from a loveless marriage.  At least he and Sam could be friends.

Xander banished everyone but Genjo so they could discuss this.  "Well?" Xander asked.  "I'll ignore it if it'll piss you off that much."

Genjo grimaced.  "I hate them.  I'm not like them."

"A lot of the lineage is born but a few are not," Hakkai explained to Xander.  "Some are reincarnations."

Xander nodded, looking at Genjo.  "I'm assuming you are?"  The princess nodded.  "Is that why they're so sure that you're unusual?"

"Probably."  He lit up and sighed.  "I can't do this around them."

"You can have ashtrays around your house," Xander said dryly.  "Are you going to be dutiful or not this time?"

"I don't know."  He looked at the younger man.  "I don't really want to be married off.  I hate having people touch me."

"That would only count on our wedding night when there would have to be a consummation and I believe your people view them?"

"Consummation?" Genjo asked flatly.  Xander nodded.  He looked at Hakkai.  "What  standard do they go by?"

"It has to appear to be penetrative sex.  A few of them have not been able to do that due to ...."  He cleared his throat.  "Womanly problems at the time so they had to redo it in front of even more witnesses."

"So a night of living porno to have a safe spot to come back from our trip from," Gojyo said.  "And freedom from a lot of the structures we had back there."

"And possibly some help if you need it," Xander offered.  He looked at his princess.  "It is up to you.  I do not make such decisions on my own and I would not wed anyone who was so dissatisfied that they could not handle it for life."

"We could die on the trip," Gojyo offered with a smile for his boss.

Genjo swatted at him.  "We won't die.  We'll stop the great evil and have a quiet life."

Xander cackled.  "I've always wanted one of those."  He smiled.  "It is up to you, Princess.  I'm not the ogre to kidnap a princess and make him or her bend to my will.   Nor the dragon to capture a maiden and debauch her."

"What of Sam?" Genjo asked.

"We've been friends for years.  Sam, Dean, and I hung around and did some training against each other when my father was raiding the lands by them.  We've been friends since Sam and I were little.  Sam might be a fun match but the day-to-day princess stuff would drive him nuts.  It does at home.  Dean too.  John really needs an heir that can handle things around the palace since I heard Dean's wanted consort Princess Castiel is not exactly an administrator.  More of a warrior princess."

"Buffy turned into one too," Genjo said.  "A fierce one at that."  Xander smirked.  "She's going after King John to help him with the demon problems.  Apparently Queen Joyce thinks he's nice."

"She's all but a widow.  Her husband is an idiot," Xander told him.  "Cheated on her publically enough that the bards didn't even have to spread that news for her to hear."

"Huh."  He considered it.  "I cannot make such a decision on an empty stomach."  Xander got them food and sent word to his brother that they were still discussing things.


Xander looked at his future spouse across their private-ish dinner - Genjo's friends were at another table in the corner with Dean and Sam being extra chaperones.  "Think we can keep the headmistress from bragging it was her doing setting us up?"

"Probably too late," Genjo said.  It would be a boon to her academy.  More princesses would show up to be introduced to hot young princes and future kings.  "She's probably announced it far and wide to gain more princesses."

"Then she might want to up the rooms and the quality of the food," Xander said, getting  a laugh from Genjo.  "Seriously, that purple room?  My punishment tower was nicer."

Genjo smirked and swatted him with his fan.  "If you hadn't been such a shit, it would've been nicer.  I could've suggested the cream room."

"I saw that one and wanted to puke at the girlishness of it."  He shook his head.  "Am I getting you weapons as a wedding present or jewels?"

"Weapons are nice," Genjo said.  "Pass the potatoes."  Xander did.  He put more on his plate and let Goku all-but snatch them to get thirds.  "Manners," he ordered.

Xander looked at Goku, smiling. "You and Dean should have an eating contest sometime during a feasting festival.  See who eats more."  Goku grinned back then at Dean, who was smirking.  "I swear, Dean closed the kitchen one night.  He ate all the food for breakfast as a midnight snack."

"I try to keep Goku from doing that," Genjo said blandly.  He dug in.  Xander handed down the gravy and sauce platter of bowls.  He added what he wanted and some seasoning.  That was nicer.


Sanzo looked up when a young, pregnant woman walked up to Xander and bowed.  "Sire, you wished to see me?"

"I did."  He smiled.  "Princess Genjo, this is the royal surrogate.  The chancellor's son?"

"Yes, sire.  Your father arranged it."  She stroked her stomach.  "I adore being pregnant."

He smiled.  "After I wed, we'll have to work on a princess and a few others.  My princess would also be able to use you as the two have been narrowed down to him and Sam?"

"Yes, of course, sire, or you could appoint my sister as the other one."  She called her in.  She was more slinky and dark haired instead of blonder.  Still had the bigger nose though.

Genjo looked at them then at Xander.  "How long has the surrogate been in place?"

"His father hired me to get pregnant so he could have an heir to put in our sire's place," she said with a smile.  "It never worked."

"Amellisame's mother only got pregnant because I was out fooling around after that poisoning," Xander said.

"I've heard that mentioned but what poison was that?" Genjo asked.  Xander had the book brought.  Which was only fair since he had given Xander a book on what Sanzo princes and princesses were expected to do and be like.  That way he knew he was uptight for a reason.  He read it over then gave the king a horrified look.  "You survived?"

"With four concubines and Sam," Xander said bluntly.

Genjo winced.  "So that means that the squealing the other day is a permanent affliction?"  He closed the book.  Xander nodded.  "I don't like being touched that much."

"I have an official concubine and I'll be adding to it," Xander admitted.  "I would even if you were a girl who liked to squeal."  He looked at his surrogates.  "Even if he wanted to use a squirty tube to have an heir, it would be all right with you?"

"Of course," the sister agreed, bowing some.

"Squirty tube?" Genjo asked.

"You shoot into a cup then some is sucked up and inserted," the main surrogate said.  "That's how I'm pregnant now.  It's not as much fun but it is effective."

He shuddered.  "We'll see."   He looked over as Sam and Dean were let in.  "Big problems?"

"Dad can't end the curse," Dean said.  "He tried and it warped onto Sammy."  Sam hit him on the arm.  "So Dad wants to leave him here since he helped up the protections recently."

Xander nodded.  "I can see that.  Are you heading home or staying for a bit as well, Dean?"

"I thought I'd wench my way home," he said with a grin.  "It's been a while since I had a tavern wench."

"Must you, really?" Sam complained.  "In front of people who aren't used to you?"

"We've heard rumors," Genjo said with a smirk.  That would solve some problems nicely.  He wrote something and handed it to Xander.

Xander smirked and handed it to Sam, who grinned back.  "Not like it hasn't happened before, dude," Sam said.  "We've both had to help wear out an episode in the past."

"On different days," Dean admitted, glancing at the note.  "Dad thought it might help and the only one who wants Sammy is evil and your uncle, so this also saves him from that stink."

"He can stay," Xander promised with a grin.  "Someone's got to manage the library.  Though Princess Charlie is studying in there for a few more months."

"That's fine," Sam agreed, smiling at him.  "Dad'll send my things."  He settled in next to Xander.  "If you two marry, does Xander have to learn how to meditate?  We've tried to teach him but he never learns."

"I can't sit still and be that calm," Xander complained.

"He should learn," Genjo said.  His prince walked in and he stood up to bow properly.

"Princess Samuel," he said with a nod.  "Is there a problem?"

"Our father tried to end the curse he put on Xander's father and it rebounded onto Sammy," Dean said.  "Since our dad upped the protections here, Sammy's asking to stay."

"That would complicate the upcoming marriage," the prince said, looking at his little brother.  "Wouldn't it?"

"In some ways it would help.  Sam is much like a middle ground between our two ways," Genjo said calmly and quietly.  "It would lead to having a mediator when we argue about things."

"Then that is acceptable."  He looked at Xander.  "Is our princess suitable?"

"He's very suitable.  I'm more worried that he would abhor being here."

"He knows his duty."

"As do I," Xander agreed with a smile.  "It doesn't mean I'd be willing if he wanted to jump off the highest tower at least once a week.  No one deserves the misery that some arranged marriages contain."

"No, they do not," the prince agreed.  He looked at his princess.  "Well?"

"I find the match suitable and he is not too picky about things, plus will help me in my quest when the time comes."  He sipped his tea.  "Though it would have to be a long engagement and we would have to add on a surrogate to the two he has chosen so it is equal."  He waved a hand at them.

The prince looked them over.  "I can find you one to join their ranks so any child is half of ours and his, and yours the same," he decided.  "The King would be pleased."

"It's best to have a full agreement on future matters instead of having to work it out later," Xander agreed.  "The house they presently live in would be his to have if he did not like the consort's rooms."

"It's a very nice house and more than meets our needs," Genjo agreed.  "I've been feeling that the quest will be called soon."

"Then we will do what we must and when you return, we will be wed," Xander said simply.  "Until then you can reside here.  If the quest does not happen in a year's time we'll do the ceremony?"

Genjo nodded.  "That is a wise compromise."  He looked at Sam.  "I'd assume you and your brother would be his best men?"

Sam grinned.  "Probably."  He looked at Dean, who nodded.

"I can be finished wenching and taking out evil shits by then," Dean agreed.  "Or at least the bachelor party."  Xander grinned at him.

"That is a custom we do not have," the Prince of Sanzo admitted.

"Yes we do," Gojyo said.  "In the common levels we do."

"Oh, them."  He grimaced.  "It is a suitable agreement?"  Genjo looked at Xander and nodded.  "I will tell our King."

"I will send him an announcement about whether it will be before the quest or afterward," Xander offered, holding out a hand.  "With the treaty that will be signed right beforehand."

"That is more than acceptable to us."  He shook it and looked at Genjo.  "We will send you an appropriate wardrobe and library."

"We have a beautiful library that is presently empty," Hakkai said with a smile.  "Enough for about a temple's worth of books."

"I will send some."

"Keep the monks," Genjo said.  "I'll make due with my current retainers."

"As you wish."  He left.  That solved many problems, including that the anointed one was not really like the rest of the family.  People were starting to question if he was really a reincarnation or not.

Xander looked at Genjo.  "Do you need more for out there?"

"No, we're good.  We need a cook.  Goku will eat us out of house and home soon."

"If he's that hungry, we did run into a witch doing the cheezy gingerbread house thing," Dean offered.

"He'll bounce on sugar," Genjo complained.

"It'd help take her out," Sam said.  He smiled at Xander.  "You do the same bouncing."

"I do, yes."  They shared a smirk.  "Majordomo!" he bellowed.

"Do we not have pages?" Hakkai asked.

"No," Xander said.  "My father ran them off by promising to put them in skirts and rape them like little girls."  His majordomo walked in.  "We have come to an arrangement.  In one year's time, Princess Genjo and I will wed unless he is on his prophesied quest, and then it will be when he comes home."  He smiled.  "Also, Princess Sam is staying here for his own safety thanks to King John rebounding that curse while trying to take it off."

"I will make arrangements, sire."  He smiled and bowed at the princess.  "One year gives us plenty of time to plan the ceremony of your dreams."

"I hate ceremonies," he said.

"Then you are much like our new king."  He left to spread that news.  The heralds went out to announce it.

Goku heard one start and shook his head.  "He's efficient and fast."

"It's been a long time since they had happy news to report," Xander said dryly.  He looked at his future wife.  "So, you only need a housekeeper and cook?"  He nodded.   "Okay.  We'll allocate some of the budget for your house and so you can stockpile some needs."  He held out a hand and the princess shook it.  "Part of which is more self-defense lessons for all of us if you want."

"I've actually taken quite a few and so have my companions," Genjo said with a smirk.

"Then perhaps you'll join us and help teach me then," Sam said with a smile.

"I can do so."  He stood up.  "Let us retire to swear at my people in peace and quiet."  Xander stared at him.  "It is the best solution and I will gratefully accept no more stuffiness."  He left with his people following him.

"Does that mean we can have a real dinner tonight with a lot of food?" Goku asked.  Genjo swatted him with his fan.

Xander and Sam shared a look then shrugged at each other.  Dean walked up to get his own kiss then left.  Sam kissed Xander and it was nice.  They could handle this.


Xander met Genjo a few months later at dinner.  Genjo usually kept to himself.  He saw his helpers more often than he saw his future wife.  He put a hand on his arm.  "We've gotta talk about some plans," he said quietly.  "Because your people are nags."

Genjo nodded.  "They can be, yes.  Why must we discuss this?"

"Because they've sent a rule *book* about the consummation night."  He stared at him.  "I'm all for it but you don't seem to be too hot on that idea and with what they want and how they want to view it, you should probably look over the book too so we can formulate a plan.  Because there were repeated mentions of having to go back and do it over for *more* viewers."

Genjo winced.  "That sucks."  Xander handed over the book, and it was a book.  Not a slim book either.  "That is insane."

"That's what I thought.  Most of the ones that have viewing traditions they just want to make sure you made a good faith effort.  Not your folks.  They're apparently deprived."

"Or depraved."  He looked at the book and winced.  "Anything too firmly set?"

"Consummation to them means penetration or at least the idea of it."  Genjo looked at him.  "I checked.  Sam checked, though he giggled a lot.  We can make it appear as if I took you hard and fast, or slowly and tenderly as the case is warranted, but it has to appear that I'm deflowering you as it's put."

"Wonderful."  He walked off shaking his head.  "Suddenly I'm not fond of dinner."

Xander stopped him.  "There's a slim exception based on health or recent trauma," he said quietly.  "If so, I'll gladly help you with that exception."  He stared at him.

Genjo smirked.  "Nothing like that.  I don't really like being touched."

"That's why I only grab your sleeve, dear."  He blew a kiss and grinned.  "Dinner tomorrow to go over the massive plans your people wanted?  By the way, they want you in sixteen different outfits over six days."  Genjo grimaced.  "Including a religious ceremony and other types of ceremonies.  And then a special 'mounting outfit' as it's named."

"So what, white silk and flowers?" he guessed.  "Because, no."

"It wasn't specifically spelled out but it's going in a museum."

"We have a museum?" he demanded.  "Hakkai?"  He popped out of nowhere.  "We have a *museum* for mounting outfits?"

"It's in a back corner of the coronation museum.  It's called the bonding room and it's a collection of wedding outfits of various lineage members.  Mounting outfits only probably come out during the Lotus festival when there's the heavy thread of 'please give us good kids'."

"NO!  No, we're going on our quest right beforehand and I'll die on it," Genjo complained.

"Or you could elope," Hakkai offered.  "Though everyone will throw fits."

"Then one ceremony to renew the vows, probably three outfits for you, one for me, and jewelry out the ass," Xander said.  "No pun intended.  Though I'm not sure about the viewed event happening."  He took the book back to flip to that section.  "Yes, even if we elope there's still a viewing party unless you're pregnant and your healer says no sex."  He looked up.

Genjo took the book back to look at it.  He was lucky the pages didn't light on fire from his glare.  "That fucking sucks."

"So, how do you want to do this?" Xander asked quietly.  "We've got to make some plans before the planning people drive me nuts."  He looked at Hakkai.  "That whole book is on the wedding night consummation event."  He walked off.

"I should go kill everyone."  Genjo had the book taken from his hand.  "They want to view it!"

"Of course they do.  They repress their sexual desires so much that's the only fun they get."  Genjo stomped off smoking up a storm.  Hakkai thought that it was possible his head was smoking, not just the cigarette, but even Genjo Sanzo couldn't do that.  Though, the thought of him pregnant was a nightmare inducing one surely.  He took the book with him.  "He's having dinner with Xander sometime soon."  He put the book on the table beside Gojyo's seat.

He picked it up to read it.  "What the hell?" he demanded.

"The consummation night rules," Genjo said blandly.  "Because it's going to be *viewed*."

"To misquote a bard, to elope or not to elope, that is the question," Hakkai teased with a grin.

"A lot less fuss," Genjo said bitterly.  "Why did I agree to this?"

"It was this or going home to all the stuffy people who hate us all," Gojyo said bluntly.  "They were about to kill Goku."

"Oh, yeah, that reason."  He looked at them, looking like he was weighing that option.

"If you're going home I'll stay here and learn how to be one of Xander's guards," Goku called down from his room.  "They have great cooks and really pretty girls."

"I'll be damned, Goku does like girls," Gojyo quipped.  Hakkai swatted him.  "This is the worst porn ever written in the worst prose ever.  I can't exactly see you as the flowery maiden that must be touched gently like a bud in bloom so that your nectar is not wasted before the pollinating bee gets there."

"I doubt it'll sting like a bee," Hakkai agreed.  "Maybe the hummingbird would be a better metaphor."

"No!" Genjo said.  "I need a beer."

"Beers are in the bottom of the ice box," Hakkai said.

Gojyo nudged him and showed him something.  "All his brothers have to watch?"

"They said it had to be viewed.  If he stays for the full thing, they'll want him in a special flirty outfit too."

"I think my usual clothes are fine," Genjo said, gulping from a bottle of beer.

"Well, it appears the only way you're getting out of the viewing party is if you're pregnant and your healer, me, says that you have to skip it because you cannot have relations due to your pregnancy," Hakkai said with a smile.  "Is there some way you want to get pregnant?"  Genjo pulled his banishing gun and pointed it at him.  "If you do that, then you'll hit Gojyo."  The hammer was cocked.  "And you'll have to get another healer, who would not make such excuses for you.  Everyone is *quite* happy that the king has such a level-headed future queen who can help him stop the problems that may be coming their way.  And Sam on the side."

"Don't I get any say in this farce?" Genjo complained.

"Only if you elope."

"We can go do that tonight," Genjo decided.

"First, you can't, because then the consummation event is as soon as you get back.  Second, with Xander's family history, I doubt he'd let you near him when you've been drinking."  He stared at him.  "His favorite concubine got sent away the other night for having wine on her breath."

"Whatever."  He finished that beer and started to drink the second one he had opened. "Any other advice?"

"Elope, and make sure everyone who has to plan things knows about it, at about a month before the wedding.  That way your family can't get here in time to view things, and they can celebrate the renewal at the proper time.  That gives you months to get around to trying Xander's technique out, and possibly get our prophesied quest called right before the renewal."

"I'm not that lucky."

"Us either," Gojyo complained.  "How many strange, uncomfortable outfits do we have to wear?"

"Each time he changes we do," Hakkai said.  "And I hate to say it but traditionally, there's no underwear involved."  Genjo just snorted and got a third beer, going out into the garden to throw his fit in private.

Goku bounced down the stairs.  "What's wrong with Genjo?"

"Wedding night stuff," Gojyo said.  "His people want to watch and all that good shit."

"That's freaky.  Can we avoid it?"

"Perhaps but maybe not," Hakkai admitted.

"Maybe Xander will knock up Sam," Gojyo said.  Hakkai gave him a strange look.  "It's said if something like that could happen it would happen to either Xander or Sam."

"Which would then require an honor duel or us going home," Hakkai said.

"Good point.  They'd throw a fit and accuse Xander of keeping us hostage," Gojyo complained.  Genjo looked in there.  "Considering other options, oh great Princess."

"Suicide," he said, pulling back.  "Dying an honorable death in combat.  I'm not sure which is better though."

"Either is a bad option and means that your family will try to have you reincarnated again," Hakkai warned with a smile and a wave.

"You ever notice they only do this shit to the royals?" Gojyo asked.  He closed the book because he kept imagining Sanzo in those overly flowery words.  "If the common people had to play it out on demand on their wedding night, then there'd be no more marriages."

"Do what?" Goku demanded.

"It's royal custom to have viewing attendants on the wedding night," Hakkai said.

"That's sick, man.  Really, really sick.  Besides, after a meal as large as most wedding feasts, you usually fall asleep."

"I think that's what they're trying to prevent," Gojyo said dryly.  "Not totally sure though."

"It's an acceptable method to ease some of their repression," Hakkai said.  He got up and took the book to look over.  "Xander did say something about the illusion of it instead of the reality."

"Huh.  Would that work?" Gojyo asked.

"Depends on the viewing angle, the lighting, all that."  They shared a look and looked outside then he went back to the book.  It had to be carefully planned.  Very carefully planned.

"I wonder if they congratulate themselves if the wife conceives," Gojyo said.

"I suppose they would but I'm hoping it's not possible this time.  That is a nightmare in the making."

"Huh?" Goku asked.

"They expect the wife to bear babies," Gojyo told him with a mean grin.  "Can't you just see Genjo Sanzo pregnant?"

Goku looked at him.  "What is wrong with your mind?"  He walked off to get something to eat to take that nasty thought out of his head.  It might take a club but he'd find a way to get that thought out of his head.  Later that night, Hakkai did indeed have to take a club from his hand before he bashed himself over the head to take that thought out.  "Make it stop!" he whined.

Hakkai knocked him out.  "I need that cure myself."  Genjo obliged nicely.

"I'm not carrying you to bed," Genjo said as he walked over the prone body.  He slammed his bedroom door and locked it.

Gojyo grimaced but got Hakkai into bed, though he was nice enough to throw Goku into his room so he didn't trip over him later on the way to the bathroom.  Then he went to take nature's cure to get the bad ideas out of his head.

"Stop that," Genjo called.  "You're loud."

"You're the one yelling," Gojyo called back.  "Listening much?"  He grinned at the new growl.  A frustrated princess was a happy princess in his book.


Xander looked outside at the yelling then shook his head.  He'd never understand his future wife.  Or his playmate.  Because Sam was reading in bed for *some* reason.


Xander looked at the note he received the next morning in the mail, studying it.  "Can you get my future spouse please?" he called.  Someone went running.  "Snookums, letter from home," he said when Genjo stomped in.  He held it out.  "Someone in your house has a *huge* mouth.  Your mother thinks he's using it for multiple reasons though."

Genjo read the note that bluntly asked if Xander had been poisoned with the poison and if that was why he had picked Genjo, because of his companions.  Then it bid Genjo a happy marriage trying to keep up and keep his concubines hidden.  "Fuck," he said.

"I hear happy noises," Gojyo quipped as he walked into the throne room.

"That's because his mother thinks that my prior poisoning means that I bend all of you over routinely to help cure myself," Xander said dryly with a smirk.

"Um, no, I prefer them leggy and busty.  You don't really fit and I don't bottom," Gojyo said.  The guards in there coughed and spluttered.

Xander shrugged.  "I had to complain last night because someone *read* all night."

Genjo looked at him.  "For those that survive the poisoning, aren't there usually long term effects that mean you have to wear the remaining poison out every few days?"

"Yes," Xander admitted with a grin.  "Which meant that semester at school was hell.  Though, one of the maids, very squealy and happy.  Two of the princesses too."

"Didn't they mind being debauched?" Genjo said dryly.

Xander looked at him.  "That's what anal sex is for.  And oral sex.  Because neither one *debauches* a princess."  His guards were choking again.  Xander looked at them.  "Go outside if you're that pure minded!"  They ran out to whine to their commander.  Xander looked at him again.  "You'll find that some women like anal sex and most women like oral sex, the same as most guys do.  Now, bottoming, I have trust issues.  I've got some pretty well known trust issues.  Especially after my father sent that unit of soldiers to kill my pretty ass."  He shifted and looked at his wife.  "Up to you about how you answer them."

"I'll write her a note saying that you were but the long-term effects have been exaggerated."

"Then we'd probably want to tell the bards around your kingdom to quit singing about me in Herast."

Gojyo looked startled.  "That was you?"

"That was me.  That was me on my majority birthday actually.  That pub was really nice to celebrate with me.  Of course, that was only a few months after I got poisoned."  He shifted again.  "There's a few bards tales out there beyond that."   

Genjo looked at him.  "Didn't the headmistress try to make you seem chaste?"

"She tried to get me to live on the girls' floor," he said dryly.  "I told her I would but I wasn't going to stop some princess if they came to me.  She was horrified and I pointed out you couldn't tell if a guy was chaste or not most of the time."  They shared a look.  "She was so horrified she tried to have the deportment teacher put me in a damn corset and regency heels.  I threw a fit!"

"I remember hearing it echo.  I remember you stomping off.  It was cute of you."

Xander smirked.  "You don't get to see me in a corset and heels either."

"Not my thing."

"Good!"  He smirked.  "So, do you want to worry your mother horribly or do you want to deny that I was poisoned and no, I don't sleep with a lot of people every day to wear that out of me?"

"I'm not sure."  He walked off.  "Any other news?"

"King John is grumping that Sam's here.  I sent back a nice note that Sam was getting in a lot of studying."

"I apologized for that," Sam called from wherever he was hiding.

"You owe me a hunt day," Xander called back.  "Guys, coming with?"

"No thank you."  They went to the library to pick out some new things to look through.  Genjo got one on past royal weddings.  He wanted to see how bad it was going to be.  He was reading until he got to the point of the thirteen barely clothed children wearing mostly flowers to promote fertility dancing around them during a blessing that included the priests having sex to again promote fertility.  He slammed the book shut and put it back, walking off shaking his head.  They were eloping.  He went to tell the majordomo.  "We're eloping right before the wedding.  My people are insane and I don't want a blessing ceremony."

The majordomo blinked.  "I'll make sure the proper people know that it will be a renewal ceremony, Princess."  Genjo nodded and walked off grimacing.  "I wonder what he read," he muttered, adjusting some longer term plans.  "We haven't done a blessing ceremony in nearly ten generations."  It did ease some of the strain however.  The princess' people wanted a lot of frivolity that the king would hate.  Apparently the princess was the same sort of man, maybe just a bit more grumpy since he didn't have sex as often.


Xander looked up as Genjo slammed into his suite.  "Problems?  Under attack?"

"Blessing ceremony?" he demanded.

"Not in the last twelve generations.  Who really wants thirteen nearly naked kids watching two priests screw on an altar while you're standing there partially clothed in the cold morning dew?  That's not exactly the public image I want to have."

"Thank the Merciful Goddess."

"The modern one is a set of dancing maidens dancing around a thick pole with a huge knob on top as they sing about being happy with the wood of the kingdom."


"Yeah, kind of."  He smiled.  "The blessing ceremony was stopped when they wanted to hide that a princess of the line was pregnant."

"Female?  I hope."

"Um, no, but a curse.  The only one who could do a curse like that now is John."

"My father's not that mean," Sam said from up the hallway.  "I brought snacks and the math book."

"You brought a *math* book to bed?  Are you Princess Charlie?" Xander demanded.

Sam grinned.  "He does it so you snap and fuck him harder," Genjo said.

"Yay," Xander said.  "It mostly makes me pouty and complain, not pouncy and horny."  He got up and walked off to his bathroom.  "I'm going to soak while you enjoy your math book.  Come find me when you're ready to nap, Sam."

"Xander," he complained.  "I was teasing.  I only brought snacks and that book we found in the library a few years ago."  He followed, pausing to look at Genjo.  "He's sensitive now and then," he said quietly.  "It comes from the jackasses he had as family."  He went into the bathroom.

Genjo walked off, closing the door behind him.  He heard a splash and smiled.  "Clearly Sam fixed the pouty mood," he decided.  Maybe he didn't want to solve all the issues he had at home waiting on his quest to start by getting married.  Xander would probably let them hang out.


Xander sighed and sat down across from Genjo.  It was a month before their wedding.  "So, the viewing night.  Made any decisions?"

"I'll endure.  We mostly repress those desires at home."

Xander looked at him.  "I can't even think about getting it up when you're miserable in my bed.  I can't stand it when my women do it either.  So let's work out a plan so you don't have to be as touched and we can get it done as necessary."  He stared at him.

"I'm not against being touched, mostly."

"Yeah," Xander snorted.  "Sure you're not."  He stared at him.  "You sure you don't want to go for that health exemption?"

"They'll just demand it at a later date."

"By then you'll be going into the west."

"True.  Possibly."  He sipped his tea.  "Anything you're going to demand?"

"No drinking."

"I can understand that."

Xander leaned his arms on the table, getting a glare.  "I can lean right now.  I know that we'll have to make it a good show.  I know they'll know if you don't get off.  I know that we can arrange the bed so they can't see if I'm in you or underneath you if you're on your back."  Genjo looked startled.  "If I'm in position, who's going to know if I'm in you or sliding past your hole to underneath you?  And in that position I can still make sure you get off, kiss and stroke you as warranted or needed, and you can make all the pouty noises you want."

"You don't expect it back?"

"I don't think you're that type of princess."

"No, I'm not."

"So yeah, until you're willing to come to my bed, to touch and be touched, we can put on a show for them. Though they'll probably expect us to sleep in there."

Genjo cleared his throat.  "I've slept in the same bed with others in the past on training maneuvers and on retreats."

"Good.  I tend to cuddle, fair warning."

"I'll smack you if you do but we'll manage."  He finished his tea.  "Have they decided what I'm wearing yet?"

"I think that's your job.  Just make it something appropriate and that makes you look less than grumpy or horrendously ugly."

"I can manage that," he agreed quietly.

"I'm not mean.  I'm not going to force myself on you.  You can remain as chaste as you want to remain.  When it's time to produce an heir, we'll squirt into a cup and use a sucky tube.  I realize this is a political marriage, not a love match, Genjo.  I really do."  He got up and walked off.

Genjo grimaced but settled it into his mind.  Xander wasn't being forceful.  Even with Sam off at home he wasn't being forceful.  Maybe he'd arrange things so they were good for both of them somehow.  He wasn't sure how totally but as long as they only had to do it the once it was fine.


Xander looked around the temple where they had 'run' to elope to.  The priest was coming out being huffy.  "Father."

"King Alexander.  What do I owe this pleasure visit to?"

"We're eloping," Genjo said.

"It is clear that there is no reason for that."

"His people are going to try to embarrass us," Xander said quietly.  "They have some customs that are fairly counter to ours and annoying the crap out of us.  Therefore we're doing this and a renewal when they get here."  He stared at him.  "Please."

"It's really against our charter."  Xander handed him a bag.  He looked and smiled.  "Thank you, that will help the orphans."  He got what they needed and did the ceremony quickly.  Then the not-really-happy couple ran off back to the castle.  He took the tithe to the head of the order.  "The King eloped," he said quietly.  "To save some problems."

"I've seen what they wanted and he's right, there are problems.  Including a lot of wardrobe changes that would annoy him."  He took the bag and nodded.  "That will help us a lot with the orphans."


Xander walked into the honeymoon suite.  Genjo was led in by Hakkai.  Xander smiled and took his hand.  "Thank you, Hakkai.  Wake us up for breakfast?"

"I can do that."  He left.  He went to make sure the viewers weren't being too pissy.

Xander looked at his 'bride'.  Genjo was in a plain cotton robe.  An unbleached cream color.  It was belted.  He had on sandals.  Xander was in linen pants that tied at the waist and sandals.  He moved closer.  "Relax.  It'll be fine and I'll make sure it's good for you," he whispered.  He took a kiss.  Genjo nearly pulled back but he put a hand on the back of his head.  "Come.  Let us do this for the nosy sorts who demand the right to view my magnificence."  Genjo slipped out of his robe and sandals.  Xander stripped off and joined him.  There was no topsheet on the bed.  There was a blanket but it was carefully folded out of the way.  Xander looked at the supplies he had put in here.  It would do.  He leaned down to take another kiss, nudging Genjo into a better position.  "Relax," he whispered.

"I don't like this."

"Me either.  I hate it when people watch me do things.  Makes me nervous."  He stared down at him, grinning slightly.  "Shift some this way."  He got them into a better position and laid down between his thighs.  Genjo flinched but Xander soothed him and teased him until he relaxed.  Then he took another kiss.  "Let me handle this.  You think of cherry blossoms or something."

"That's not really my thing."

"It happens when you're purer than normal."  He stared at him.  "Just relax."  Genjo nodded and made himself relax.  Xander was trying to make him happy.  It was working on a purely physical basis.  He was getting aroused.  Xander was barely aroused but he couldn't really help him with that problem.  Xander reached over and got something, making him watch the long arm.  The small pot wasn't a mystery to him.  He'd seen others.  The warmth of the gel on his body wasn't usual.  "Heating gel?" he asked.

"Muscle rub for a massage."  He moved to work on his 'bride's shoulders.  He relaxed again and Xander moved down to work over his chest muscles.  Genjo was built sleekly, tightly coiled muscles.  Xander was a bit more stocky with more prominent muscles.  Xander was doing a good job distracting him.  Someone thumped on the other side of the viewing window.  Xander glared that way. "I would suggest whoever did that leave before I come out there for ruining your princess' night.  After all, you demanded."  Genjo made Xander look at him.  "Not my idea of a fun night," he said dryly.

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your doing.  It's theirs."  He shrugged and got back to relaxing them both.  Genjo was trying to help.  "Just...  Quit," he ordered.  "Think of someone else, whatever."  He went back to it.  Genjo quit being so tense again and it was better.  Xander moved down to tease his neck, getting a shiver.  That was an instinctive reaction in most people.  He grabbed a different pot.  "I'll have to prepare you," he said quietly.  "Even if it's not what you want."  He got a nod.  One hand slipped between them. 

Xander was making Genjo hard.  The other man was starting to pant a bit.  He gently stretched him then shifted their position a bit.  He adjusted the pillows and moved his 'bride's hips into a better position and seemed to slip into him.  Though he had really just slipped between his butt cheeks and was stroking that way.  The motion was rubbing against Genjo's cock, making him harder and get more happy.  Genjo finally came and Xander had to master a quick fantasy to get himself off.  He panted, leaning down.  Xander got off once he had cleaned them off.  He grabbed the blanket and covered them then laid down.  He laid on his side of the bed considering things.

Genjo flipped onto his side facing away.  He was a bit confused but it was better.  His duty was done with now.  He felt it when Xander finally relaxed and let himself do the same.  He knew no one was going to touch him outside of Xander.  Who did indeed cuddle up against his back.  It was sad.  Xander deserved better than him.  Some day he'd have to repay him for this kindness of saving his sanity and well being.  Somehow.


Sam walked into the room after tapping on the door.  "Breakfast?"  He handed over cups of tea.  Both of them needed the morning caffeine.  He smiled.  "Your people have mostly left, Genjo.  The two remaining ones, your older brother and your father, are scowling at things."

"I'm sorry we couldn't decorate enough for them but it's not the season for flowers," Xander said bitterly.  He sipped his tea.  "Are they complaining?"

"No.  Not to me anyway."  He looked at him.  "Gojyo and Hakkai both have breakfast.  Hakkai was cornered by your brother last night."  He smiled.  "And my father's back with Dean."

"I don't usually mind your father as long as he's not in asshole mode," Xander said.  He rubbed his neck.  "I could use a bath."

"After you eat.  No one expects you to be anywhere today.  Either of you."  They nodded so he left them alone.

Hakkai walked in with their breakfast trays.  "Gojyo just distracted your brother."

"Why was he pissed?" Genjo asked.

"He expected Xander to be less girly.  His father said it was nice that you were so chaste you had no idea what to do.  He was asking about surrogates.  He doesn't like ours."

"I don't care," Genjo said.

"Good."  He smiled.  "We reminded him that he was supposed to send one of his."  He handed over the food.  Xander yawned and nibbled on his food.  "You have to eat.  There's probably going to be a lot of 'why didn't you let us do the full thing' complaints."

Xander looked at him.  "Because I didn't want to hear the religion arguments from both sides."  He stuffed his mouth.

"I pointed that out as well."  He left them alone.  They clearly needed to talk.

Genjo looked at him.  "Thank you."  Xander gave him a look since he was chewing on some toast.  "You made it better than it had to be." 

Xander shrugged.  "It's what I do," he mumbled.  He went back to eating and escorted Genjo out to his house so he could clean up.  Xander went up to his room and his bath that Sam had run.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Want help?"

"No, I'm okay."  Sam nodded, leaving him alone to soak and sulk.


Dean found Xander in the stables later that morning.  "Hey."

"Hey.  Come see.  Just born last night and has a funny leg problem."

Dean looked.  "It looks dislocated.  Did you call an animal healer?"

"It'll take her a few hours to get here.  She's outside the woods."  That got a nod and a pat on the shoulder.  He looked at his buddy.  "I don't know," he admitted.

"I know, dude.  We all do the best we can.  Mine's a bit less frigid but just about as annoying.  Dad's about called the whole thing off because he's an ice princess."

"The Academy said all princesses were to be ice princesses," Xander said dryly.  "I abused that notion right off.  It's one reason why the headmistress hated me."

"She was a dumbass, Xander.  The rest of us who matter like you and you'll never have a princess that goes there under her.  There's actually another academy system that teaches them better life skills."

"That'd be nice."  Someone came into the barn.  "There was a foal born last night but it's got a leg problem," he told Goyjo.

He looked.  "It might straighten out."

"I called a healer to see it.  See if it can be."  He pointed.  "That's my future steed over there.  He's being cranky today for some reason."

"Sometimes foals are."  He looked and smiled.  "He's cute."

"He's trying real hard since he ran over a groom to get outside this morning."  He smiled.  "It'll be fine.  When are you guys leaving?"

"He's getting the urge to go so probably within weeks.  Are you all right?"

Xander stared at him.  "Why wouldn't I be?"  He shrugged and looked at the head groom.  "The guys okay?"

"They're fine, sire."

"Stop that shit before I beat someone," Xander ordered with a huff at the end.  "You saw more of me than my own damn father did, Horace.  So just drop the damn title.  I'm the same brat I was when I was training all the war steeds."

"Fine, Xander."  He looked.  "It might be able to be strapped straight.  My daughter's on the way in."  He patted him on the shoulder.  "Otherwise she looks fine."

"If not, we'll see how she breeds.  She's got excellent bloodlines."  Horace nodded.  Xander got off the wall and walked over to his other one.  "You cannot run over people.  It's not nice."  The foal made upset noises so Xander let him go.  He ran out to join his mother in the field.  "You're already spoiled and barely ten months old," he called after it.

Dean snickered.  "I doubt it understands that, Xander."  He looked at Gojyo.  "My future wife is nearly as uptight as your princess was."

"He has his reasons."

"Yeah, they all do," Dean agreed.  "Mine's going to end up living in another castle though."  He walked off.  "Xander, want to go hunting?"

"Please."  He saddled his horse and got Dean's ready too, handing her over so they could ride off.  "Is that Impala's first mare?"

"Yeah."  Dean grinned.  "She's a good mare."  They rode off into the woods together.   "Race you to the cliffs?"

"No.  It's been unsteady," Xander called.  "The ground's all broken."  Dean nodded, taking that into consideration.

Gojyo went back to the house.  "He's upset."

Genjo nodded.  "He was last night but I have no idea how to handle that."

"Dean's here.  He and Xander are hunting."

"That might help."  He looked up.  "I did what I could."

"Dean said his future wife's such an ice princess he'll probably end up living in another castle."

"That happens sometimes.  Maybe he'll take in Buffy."  He shrugged.  "She's become quite the fighter I heard."  He lit another cigarette and puffed.  "Any other gossip?"

"The cook is crying but I think she said something about her daughter," Goku said.  "I couldn't understand her that much."

"Her daughter's pregnant," Hakkai said.  "Are we prepared for our journey west?"

Genjo shook his head.  "Not fully.  Some things we can only get as we go, like food."

"We made a nice list and it's mostly completed," Gojyo said dryly.  He got it and went over it with Hakkai.  "Are we taking the handy jeep pretending to be a dragon or not?"

"He's a dragon who pretends to be a jeep," Hakkai complained.  "And yes."

"That'll be easier than horses that will tire out," Genjo said.  He made his own notes and handed them over.  They had a lot to prepare for.  He would worry about his husband on the trip to the west.


John stomped into Xander's castle, looking around.  "Where is the little bastard?" he demanded.

"Your sons are in Xander's spare room napping off their hangovers," the majordomo said quietly.  "Xander was nice enough to not hang them off the castle's ramparts this time.  King Xander is in the study ignoring things that are pissing him off."  He waved a  hand.  "I can show you to either area."

"Bring me to the king."  The majordomo nodded and led him to the study, knocking and announcing him before opening the door.

Xander looked at him.  "If you're going to yell at me for not throwing them in the pond, stuff it," he said dryly.  "You know I hate drunks."

"You need to get past that.  Everyone needs a night off now and then, kid."  He stared down at him.  "I heard rumors that some of your people are moving on Joyce."

"No, some of my people are moving past Joyce's lands because Oliver asked for some protection."  He handed over that formal request.  "Per the treaty I have sent help."

John read it over and grimaced.  "Is that Rory?"

"No.  It's something else.  I have the feeling it's part of what my spouse is going to end."  He stared at him.  "Is that the only reason you showed up?"

"He's still alive?"

"Apparently he enjoys it.  I have no idea, I don't enjoy such things but he's a dumb bastard anyway and apparently drunken sex with a centaur is his thing.  Thankfully it didn't pass on.  I have enough problems without needing that sort of encouragement."  He leaned back in his chair.  "Did Joyce complain?"

"Petra did."

"Petra and his heir Pelgar can blow me.  He hates me.  He won't accept an apology or a trade treaty.  His own people are on the brink of starvation.  I made sure mine didn't go anywhere near his people to make them more paranoid."

"Good."  He stared at him.  "I did apologize for that."

"No, you apologized to Sam for it."  He glared at him.  "Even then, it's still a shitty thing to do to anyone else.  Even my father."

"It was," John agreed.  "How are you handling it?"

"Go ask your sons."  John winced.  "And my concubines.  Who are all complaining that they're tired.  So thanks."  He smirked.  "Any other happy news from your end of the world?"

"No.  Not yet.  Is your wife here?"

"Headed out a few days ago."


"Sorry.  Though Dean said his wife is reminding him a lot of a nicer Genjo."

"Yeah, he does."  He rubbed his neck.

"Ask about Prince Buffy.  She's turned into a decent fighter and she knows about demons.  She took out the few that invaded her kingdom recently."

"I might do that but it would break a treaty."

Xander nodded.  "It sucks that way sometimes."

"I might need Sam to make an alliance."

"That's between you and Sam," Xander said bluntly.

"Good point."  He went to wake his sons up.  They were both tragically hung over but John had no sympathy.  "Xander said to feel lucky he didn't drown you in the lake."

Sam sat up holding his head.  "I'm surprised he put us to bed instead of in the stables.  Dean!"

"Shut up, bitch."

"Dad's here, jackass."

"Yay!"  John swatted him so he sat up with a wince.  "What?  Did I miss my wedding?"

"We can't break the treaty, Dean."

"Bullshit.  She's had more sailors than Xander has.  I'm taking Castiel back."  John slumped and grumbled.  "For that matter, who says I care?  The treaty is for a very minor thing that we don't need."

"We need the silver that's included."

"We can get it from the Sanzo empire," Sam said, still holding his head.

"We'll see.  Both of you disgraced your host."

"Dad, shut up," Dean said, earning a glare.  "Xander's fine.  Or else we would've been in the woods too."  He made himself stand up.  "It'll be fine and we'll apologize later for getting so drunk.  Xander knows we don't do it often."  He walked off.  "Paulette, can I please have some coffee?" he asked the maid.

"Yes, sire."  She curtseyed and left to get him some.

Sam wobbled out and sat down too.  He'd talk to Xander later.  John stomped off.  He'd talk to his sons when they were sober and less hung over.


Xander looked up as a messenger walked into his throne room.  "Something dreadful?" he asked since the guy was sweaty.

"Yes, sire.  From the Rosenburg dynasty."  He handed over the sealed envelope.  "She said she spilled perfume on it," he said at the distasteful sniff.  "The queen didn't want to rewrite it."

Xander used his letter opener to slit the envelope, looking at the simple paper inside.  "Arrest him," he said calmly.  He could feel it starting to tingle on his skin.  The messenger tried to run.  "And whoever's following him to see what happened.  This one we'll probably hand back."  He stared at him.  "Did.  You.  Know?" he asked simply.

"Know what?" he demanded.

"This is poisoned."  The messenger started to cry and fell to his knees.  "Get him to the healer.  This is Gentrus poison," he said calmly.  "And get my healer."  One of the guards ran for them both.  "Whoever's following, I want them in my jail in front of me within hours."  The other guard in there went to call the guard units along the main road.  They'd have noted a high ranking carriage or rider.

"Within an hour, Sire," the second guard reported.  "He's riding singly."

Xander nodded.  "Fine."  He nodded at the healer.  "Gentrus."  He let her take it from his hand.  "I barely touched the paper."

She sniffed it.  "Whoever drenched it."

Xander swallowed.  "He said the princess spilled perfume on it."

"Clearly not."  She looked at the messenger.  "How long ago did you touch this?"

"Two days, m'lady.  Please!  I did not know!  I have a wife and children!"

"You're going to be lucky to make it with that long of an exposure and not wearing it out."  He blushed.  "That probably saved you."  She had the guards take him to her house so she could fix him.

Xander's healer got him to drink some cold water and juice until that personage showed up.  Then he took his juice with him to the dungeon.   The judges were called in to witness it.  No one liked to see the king in this sort of mood but if he was fatally poisoned it was his right to kill them.


Xander looked up later that night, trying to eat something.  "You're having another relapse," Sam said.

Xander snorted.  "Someone decided that the only way to cure it was to redose me.  I found this out an hour ago when I killed him for giving me a poisoned missive this morning."  He made himself eat something.  "I'm going to hide."  He walked off.  "I'll see you guys in a few days probably."  He slipped past John without him realizing it since he was yelling at Dean.

Sam got up and went to find someone to help Xander.  "Someone redosed him with that poison?"  The majordomo grimaced but nodded.  "Why?"

"The alchemist from Queen Joyce and Princess Willow's kingdoms said that it was a fifty-fifty shot of it canceling out the old in his system."

"And yet it could kill him," Sam said bluntly.  "Did they ask?"

"No.  We have filed a formal protest with both rulers.  They basically shrugged it off along with the loss of the person they sent to make sure he got it into his system."

"We should dose one of theirs," Sam said.

"I suggested that.  Sire said that it would mean he looked like his father."

"Has anyone told King Alan?" Dean asked, walking up behind his brother.

"Why would we?" John asked.

"His daughter's up there," Sam pointed out.  "He could die from this."  John looked confused.  "Fuck it, you explain it to him so he can go complain to them."  Sam stomped off.  "Let me see if I can help him wear it out."

"Sammy, it can pass over when he's sweating," John said.

"Gee, Dad, and yet you set me to carry it before.  Did you think it didn't get on me then?"  John blanched.  "Never wondered why I spent so much time with Xander?  Because the only ones who wear us out is each other or a whole lot of concubines."  He finished his huff off upstairs.  The guards weren't going to let him in but he knocked them out and went in anyway.  He relocked the door and leaned against it.  Xander looked like shit.  "Hey.  I heard."

"Fuck off, Sam.  I'm not in the mood for people."

"I can help."

Xander looked at him.  "If I give into it, it stays in my system."

"We know that for sure?"

"That's what Princess Willow said."

"I don't trust that girl.  I don't know why but I don't."  He laid down next to him and Xander shifted away.  "I promise, I won't help if you don't want me to.  You still need someone with you in case you seize or something."

"I don't care."

"You do care.  You don't want to make your daughter deal with all this shit."

"No, I don't," he admitted.  "She might be turned into Willow.  Or gods forbid, my wife."  He shifted and crossed his feet.  "This totally sucks."

"It does," Sam agreed.  "Is there any way to help without giving in?"

"Mythical healing abilities but he's fucked off to the west on a quest to end evil."

"We can...."

"No we cannot."

"Okay," Sam agreed quickly.  Xander's temper was short enough when he lost it.  Right now he was on the verge of killing someone.  "Did you kill the messenger?"

"No.  I killed the one who poisoned me with the letter."  They shared a look.  "She complained."

"She Joyce or she Willow?"


"Yay."  Sam settled in next to him better.  "You want to try a cool bath?"

"Did that earlier.  It's not helping."

"Want something to knock you out?"

"No.  It won't make it any easier.  It didn't before.  I lasted a whole day then before I broke."

"I remember.  I wasn't sure how.  I was so badly off I nearly killed myself."

Xander nodded.  "I remember."  Someone pounded on the door.  "You do that again and I'm going to kill you too," he yelled.  They didn't do it again.  "Maybe I'll take a nap after all."

Sam tucked the sheet around him and stayed with him.  Xander wasn't in good shape.


Sam went jogging down the halls the next morning.  "Get the damn healer!" he shouted.  "Now!"  He got what he needed and headed back to Xander's room.  Dean was in there helping.  He had gotten him up about dawn because of the fever.  "I've tried bathing it.  I've tried bathing him with alcohol," he said, handing over the chilled towels.  Dean tucked them around him.  A guard came to the door.  "There will be a healer here within minutes or else I'm going to start losing my temper!"  The guard flinched and ran off to tell someone that the king was sick.  "They told him if he broke and wore it out, he'd end up with more in his system instead of it dying off," he said quietly.

Dean shook his head.  "That's a crackhead plan.  Was there an alchemist involved?"

"Yes.  And Princess Willow, who encouraged Queen Joyce to help her."

"Dumbass bitches," Dean decided.  "We should warn his daughter."

"He said not to and not to tell his spouse."  They shared a look.  "He was insistent he didn't want them to see him like this."

"Yay," Dean said dryly.  His father stomped in.  "Where is the damn healer?"

"In town getting some herbs."  He came over.  "Have we tried a cool bath?"

"Yes.  When his fever started to spike.  He had a small seizure so I pulled him out," Sam said.

"It's worth it to risk it again," John decided.  He checked, the bath water was still run.  It was room temperature.  "Bring him in here, boys."  They brought him in and Xander started to twitch.  Not quite a seizure but bad news.  The highest of the kingdom's healers stomped in.  John looked at her.  "Someone...."

"An alchemist," Dean snorted.

"Decided that a new dose of poison would weed out the old one," Sam finished.  "That if he broke and handled it then it'd mean more would stay in his system."

"That's the most stupid thing I've ever heard," she admitted.  She got them out of the way.  "His fever is still too high."

"He's been in the bath for a few minutes and it hasn't went down any," Sam said.

"I need mythical powers," she said.

"The only one we know is off on a quest," Dean told her.

"He refused to have anyone call them," Sam agreed.  "Or his daughter."

The healer nodded.  "We'll be lucky if he survives.  He's too far gone to let it be worn out of his body."   She stood up.  "If I ever find that alchemist, I'm staking him on an ant hill."  She considered it.  "Let me get a fever reduction potion."

"No," John said.  "It will kill him.  It's going to go against the poison."

"The only one that does that....  Oh dear.  I was hoping it was one of the others he's been exposed to."

Sam nodded.  "That one."

"Fuck," she said, stomping off.  "Let me look in the book.  Bring down his fever."

"Let's hope you read fast," Dean quipped.  He was helping Sammy bathe Xander to hopefully break some of the fever.  "Did he manage dinner?"

"A few bites," Sam said.  "I made him drink some juice around midnight."  John nodded, getting some drinking water sent in that was cooled.  He and the boys worked on the fever until the healer came back with a different fever potion.


Gojyo came back from getting supplies.  "There's bad news."  Genjo looked at him.  "Princess Willow found an alchemist."

"To restore her purity she lost in a fit of passion?" Hakkai guessed.

"To say that repoisoning Xander would cure him."  Genjo went stiff and started to growl.  "Thankfully King John and both his sons are now there.  He's in day six of the fevers."

"We can't turn back."

"I can travel back and meet you later," Hakkai suggested.

"We can't really travel without you and it'll take forever," Goku said.  "Can't they sweat it out?"

"He's been sweating for six days," Gojyo said bluntly.  "He's so far gone they've went against his wishes and warned you and his daughter," he said more quietly.

Genjo nodded.  "If we must we'll go back."  Hakkai looked worried, staring that way.  "There's others with your gifts."

"Not near there.  Would they have asked your family?" he asked.

"John would have.  That's where he got the original poison from."  They nodded and thought about it but they had to end the evil.  There were others who could handle Xander's illness.  Unless he died and then Genjo would have to go back for at least the funeral.  "How would he have been given it?" he asked.

"Rumors state that he killed the person who did it," Gojyo said.  "And that Queen Joyce supported Willow's intentions."

"Yay," Genjo said.  "Our treaty with them is ended."  He wrote out a few official notices and sent them.  Including one to his mother to order her to leave his stepdaughter alone.  They got into the jeep and headed further west.  It sucked but they had to do it.


Princess Tony accepted the sealed missive and looked at it.  It was from Prince Dean.  He walked off to hand it to his mother, reading as he walked.  "No, I will not accept any proposal from any of them."  He went outside to vent then called his personal healer.  He was only a day's hard travel from Xander's kingdom, and then another two days to the castle.  He could fire call and see if they needed her.  He walked inside to the fire calling system and waited.  "Does King Xander need my personal healer's help?"

"Princess Anthony, we could use all the help we could get."

"I'll send her as fast as I can.  It'll be a few days."

"That's fine.  He's probably going to last that long.  The fever almost broke this morning."  He hung up.

"Healer!" Tony bellowed.  She came running.  "You're to go help King Xander's healers.  Someone repoisoned him."  She flinched.  "And if you had anything to do with that I'd beg," he warned quietly.

"No, I did not.  I'll travel as quickly as I can, Princess."  She ran off to make her own calls and suggest a few ideas.  She had dealt with a case of that poisoning once, a few years back, when some girl didn't like the right boy.

Tony strolled out to the throne room.  "My healer's going to help him."

His father stared at him.  "Is he that badly off?"

"The person I fire called said his fever almost broke today and he might live a few more days," he said bitterly.  "Our treaties are gone with them.  I won't support them and neither will my brother if he knows what's good for him."

"Timothy is due to marry Princess Willow," his mother said.

"Queen Abigail, I don't give a gods damn," he said bluntly.  "She started it.  I don't care if she had good intentions or not.  If that wench comes into this kingdom, I'm going to make sure she goes home in a box!"  He might like his fourth stepmother but she was a bit odd about some things sometimes.

"I heard my upcoming tragedy of a marriage mentioned?" Timothy said, walking in.  "What's happened now?"  Tony handed over the note.  He read it and nodded.  "Then I won't marry her.  Even if you have me in irons at sword point, Father.  I'm sorry."  He walked off.  "Can we help?"

"I've sent a healer."

"That's all we can do then."  He wrote out a nice note canceling the wedding and handed it to his father.  "For your crest, King Jethro."

He read it over.  "Politer than I would've done.  Thank you."  He affixed his seal and had it sent.  "What of the other one?"

"We'll see," Tony said bitterly.  "She usually wouldn't have harmful intentions.  She was probably befuddled by the babbling idiot princess."

"Maybe," Abigail agreed.  "That means we have to decide on a new bride."

"There's always Charlie," Tony said with a shrug.  "He's a scholar."  He walked off again to seethe in private.  Xander was a friend.  He did not deserve all this hell in his life.

Timothy shrugged.  "As you will I am duty bound to obey."  Jethro nodded and his wife got the book that listed all the princesses so they could pick a different one.


Alan got the formal letter and winced at the seal on it.  It wasn't Xander's but it was one of Xander's messengers.  Something bad had happened.  He read it and his stomach became a knot made of rocks.  That was bad.  Very bad.  He went to find his fosterling and talk to her.  He had to break the news gently.  "Don, send your healer to Xander," he ordered quietly.  "He's in bad shape."  He handed over the note.

Don read it and took it to his personal healer.  "King Xander needs help."  He handed it over.  The healer read it and moved to fire call the healer there to help.  They were a few days away from the edge of the kingdom.  It'd take almost a week for him to get there.  He called other healers he knew were closer, including their academy's headmaster.  Then he had to explain which Xander it was and assure him he wasn't like his father.


John stomped off, sending the healers fleeing for their lives.  "Leave for a few hours."  They nodded.  He shut the doors and looked at his sons and the boy on the bed.  "Is there any chance?" he asked his smarter son, who was also afflicted with this problem.  Sam shrugged.  "No idea?"

"None at all.  There was a slight basis for that idea but it's almost mythical."  His father nodded.  "What do we do?"

"Pray," Dean said.  "When the healers are clueless you pray."  Sam nodded, picking up a clean sponge to wipe down Xander's face.  "At least they got the fever down slightly."

"That is something," John agreed.  He considered it.  "Let me call his wife's people.  They have healers who have ways that we don't."  He walked out into the waiting posse of healers.  "I'm calling the Sanzo lineage."

"We already have and their healers say that they cannot weed it out of his system," one said bluntly.  "That even if they could do the mythical healing, it might kill him now instead of healing him.  His body's too weak to help them."

John grimaced.  "Fine.  Any hope?"

"His fever went down some," another one offered.  "It's been two weeks since his fever went higher the last time.  He's surviving and your sons seem to be able to get fluids down him."

John nodded.  "We've had to forcefeed Sam in the past when he got sick."  He grimaced at the majordomo.  "He's still sick."

"His spouse wished to check," he said quietly.

"It's still iffy," John said.  The healers all nodded, going back in there to help.  "If they need help on their quest, let me know."

"I shall, sire."  He bowed and walked off.  John had taken over the necessary administrative roles for their king while he was so ill.  If they hadn't been such good friends with his sons no one would've let him.  Mostly they asked Samuel when he was worried so he focused on other things besides his friend.


Genjo went into a guided meditation, finding his 'husband'.  "I've heard you were half-dead."

"More than half," Xander admitted, staring at him.  "How's your quest?  I'd offer you some help but I'm not really in any shape right now.  And how are we doing this?"

"A guided meditation I learned when I was younger.  Do you want me to come back?"

"What you're doing is important.  I'll survive or else I would've already died.  It's been a month so I'll slowly heal I guess."  Genjo touched his hand and he winced.  "Sorry, bit touch sensitive."

"I'm sorry."

"Not your fault.  You didn't know."  He stared at him.  "We'll deal with it.  I have half the healers in the known world fussing at me."

"I can send Hakkai."

"They won't listen to him because he didn't graduate their academy.  They don't listen to the local one for that reason until I heard Dean snap at the lot of 'em."  He shifted and winced.  "Sorry, bit sore."

"Why are you apologizing for being sick?" Genjo said.

"Because it's taking time and I'm guessing this isn't all that good for you to be doing long-term.  So, how are things going?"

"They're getting...rabid.  We keep running into demons.  They're getting more and more powerful as we go."

"Then call John.  See if he'll come help.  His kingdom is always overrun with demons.  Or Princess Buffy if you're near her kingdom.  She's fought off a few."

"We'll try that.  Is John there?"  Xander nodded.  "Are you aware of what's going on?"

"Yeah.  Sam tells me.  Dean sometimes does.  It's helping some.  Keeping me tethered in my body.  Though I'm going to beat the ass of whoever told my daughter."

"She needs to know that she might have to rule soon through a regent."

Xander smirked.  "You can't be a regent when you're on a quest.  Which means one of my father's people probably and we'll both die."  He blinked a few times and looked up.  "Whoever sends you guys on those quest things sucks ass."

"Yes they might," Genjo said.  "We'll try to be back soon."

Xander nodded.  "They keep promising me I'll survive this and get stronger.  So I'll see you when you get back or I'll come haunt you or something."  He shrugged and suddenly blinked out.

Genjo woke up and stared around at the countryside.  "We need to avoid Queen Joyce's realm.  I don't want to go there."

"It's the shortest route," Hakkai said.

"She agreed, I don't want to deal with her."

"How is he?"

"Touch sensitive."

"I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not," Hakkai said.  He glanced back at the two sleeping people then at his friend.  "He's survived this long."

"I know.  He said the same thing.  That and he has half the healers in the known world around him.  Some of them academy snobs."  Hakkai nodded, smiling a bit.  "Do you have any idea how to help him?"

"All they can do is wait out the fever and the infection.  Though I'm fairly certain he's going to end up with some left in his blood."

"Probably."  He slumped and considered things.  "He said if we need help to ask Prince Buffy or King John.  He's there."

"We can do that," he agreed.  "We might need the help as we get closer."  Genjo nodded.  "If we detour it'll add two weeks because it's all mountains and half of it we'll have to go on foot."

"If we go through the corner of their kingdom, we don't stop, we don't shop, nothing."

"It'll be two days."

"We can sleep in the jeep in the woods."  Hakkai nodded at that decision.  "And hope I don't run into someone from their family.  Because my fan is the least of their worries."

"Agreed."  He swatted Gojyo, waking him up.  "We're not stopping once we hit Queen Joyce's lands so the next town is your last one to get smokes or anything for about three days."

"That's fine," he said through a yawn.  He stretched then relaxed.  "Any news from back there or home?"

"No," Genjo said.  "Not much."  He stared out at the passing scenery.  For some reason he decided this was all his fault, even though it wasn't.  It was like he had come into Xander's life and it had went to shit.

"You are a princess," Hakkai said quietly.  "You are not an alchemist.  You had nothing to do with his poisoning the first or the second time."

"If I was there, we might've gotten it stopped sooner."

"Maybe but it's not a certainty.  I might not have been able to help him any."

"Maybe," Genjo agreed.  He'd try to talk to his spouse again this weekend.  Hopefully then he'd be stronger.


Xander blinked up at Sam.  "Kill whoever told my daughter," he whispered.  "She doesn't need this shit."

"I can do that."  He soothed back Xander's damp hair.  "How do you feel?"

"Nasty and sore."  He blinked hard.  "Water?"  Sam let him sip some and he fell asleep again.

Sam got up and opened the doors.  "He woke up enough to drink some water and say to kill whoever told his daughter because she didn't need this shit."  A few laughed and the healers almost cried, rushing in to check him over again.  He looked at his father.  "That mumbling was probably him and Genjo talking by some scholarly method."

"Probably.  I've seen them do it before when they had a plague in their kingdom.  They were asking for healers."  He leaned against the wall.  "How soon before he's out of bed?"

"At least another few weeks before he'll complain and try," the local healer said.  "Probably another month before he manages more than a trip to the baths."

John nodded.  "That's good news."  He walked off.  Dean was handling stupid shit today for him.  He walked into the throne room.  "King Xander has woken up.  He's back into a normal sleep."  The group in there got happier.  He looked at the messenger.  It was clear what he was by his dusty clothes and the message pouch.  "Problems?"

"I have a message for King Xander."

"He's recovering from being poisoned," John said bluntly.  "He's barely woken up once to get some water.  It'll be at least a month before he's out of bed."  He held out a hand.

"I cannot."

"Then you'd better fire call your people," Dean quipped.  "And who are you here for?"

"The Rosenburg dynasty."

"Then unless it's an apology, there's no help from us," Dean said.

"Are you his spouse?"

"He's on a quest.  My brother is Xander's regent for his daughter while he's sick."

"Oh, I see."  He got shown to the fire calling station.  "Highness," he said, nodding at the princess. "I must talk with your mother."

"She's busy lecturing our cook."

"It is her missive I deliver.  I need her now please, Highness."

"Fine.  Whatever."  She walked off to get her mother.

The Queen appeared.  "Is there a problem with your delivery?"

Sam walked up behind him.  "Yes, the poisoning your daughter sent him has nearly killed King Xander.  He's barely woken up today to request some water and it's been almost two months now."  She gasped.  "So no, unless it's a plague that'll spread, we don't care."

"Who are you?"

"Princess Samuel, son of King John.  Xander appointed me regent for his daughter if something happened to him and his spouse wasn't around.  Since he's on a quest, I'm as high as you're going."

"My alchemist..." Willow started.

"Shut up, you stupid little girl," Sam ordered, glaring at her.  "Your alchemist is a fucking moron.  Xander's been so sick he nearly died a few times.  That's a great reward for freeing your parents of things."  He hung up.  "If that's not an apology, bring it home," he ordered.  The messenger nodded.  "And you can tell her cohort in Queen Joyce's kingdom since you have to pass that way to not bother us either unless it's a plague that will spread."

"I shall, Princess."  He left.

"He did appoint you regent?" John asked.

"Yes.  The day he was sworn in.  That's the first thing he signed."  He looked in the throne room.  "He said he didn't want his daughter to know."  They all shrugged.  "He's pissed about it too."

"He has a long time to heal before he can catch anyone to make them sorry," the majordomo said.  "Where is the regent paperwork?"

"In his study," Sam said, going to get it for him.  He handed it over.  The majordomo nodded, making note of it.  "Give him a few weeks to hear problems, people."  He walked off again.  He spotted the local healer.  "Why is he so sensitive to touch?"

"The fever probably.  Or one of the seizures."  Sam nodded and left it there, going back inside.  She went back to her relaxing.  One of the senior healers walked past her.  "Princess Samuel asked why he was so touch sensitive.  I assumed the fever or a seizure."

"It's partially that and probably a side effect of so much poison in his system."  She grimaced.  "It should heal.  If not, he'll learn to live with it."

"How much is still in his blood?"

"Too much.  He'll need to start wearing it out again."

"Which is impossible if he can't be touched."

The senior healer nodded.  "There's ways around that.  We'll teach them to you.  You really should go to the academy, child."

"I learned from my mother, who learned from hers.  It's almost always good enough."

"Good point.  You probably learned a lot of the same things but no one respects a healer that doesn't have the degree."  She shrugged.  "It is the way the world works."  She walked off to go clean up in her rooms.

The local healer went to tell Samuel that.  He didn't look pleased at the answer but it was all they had at the moment.


Xander blinked at Genjo when he appeared.  "Another nap-time talk?"

"Apparently," he agreed.  "Are you better?"

"I'm awake more often.  I'm slowly healing and getting better.  By the time you get home I should be out of bed," he quipped.  "Can you please take John's help?  I can sense the evil around you."

"We ran into some earlier."

"Clearly.  It's starting to show on you."  He moved closer.  "How goes your quest?"

"Shitty," Genjo said.  "It's getting harder and harder to make much progress.  The evil is starting to take over the western countries."  Xander grimaced but nodded.  "We could use some help sometime soon."

"Call John?"

"I will."  He looked him over.  "You need to eat."

"I'm still running a slight fever.  Eating is more than I can handle most of the time."  He shrugged slightly.  "When I'm better I'll put the weight back on."

"As long as you do.  You're looking almost spiritual at the moment."

Xander smiled.  "I'll heal.  I always do."  He touched his cheek.  "You need to bathe.  You have blood."  He disappeared.

Genjo woke himself up, rubbing his cheek.  He did have some blood on him.  "I told him."

"We could use all the help we can get," Gojyo said.

"We'll gather what allies we can," Genjo agreed.  He looked around.  "Buffy," he said in greeting.  She came out of the woods.  "That top is not really camouflage."

"My bad," she complained.  "So demons?"  They nodded.  "Can I help?"

"Definitely," Hakkai said.  "I've heard you've killed a number recently."

"I have.  They keep trying to cross our border on the river for some reason."  She pushed her hair back over her shoulder.  "Why is Xander mad at my mother?" she asked Genjo.

"Because she helped your brainless friend poison him," Genjo said.

"She said it was supposed to help."

"She has no idea what anything does," Genjo said.

"She's a really bad twat too," Gojyo said.  "Hit on me at the wedding."

"Eww," she said, looking at him.  "You're not a prince, right?"

He smirked and shook his head.  "Not hardly.  Only to my ladies."

"Then I have no idea what's wrong with her or mom.  Maybe mom's possessed.  I should check."

"Have John check on his way down," Hakkai said with a smile.  She smiled back.  "We know where the start of the evil is."

She nodded.  "I can meet you there.  I'm duty bound to help my neighbors to the south.  I heard you were here so I detoured."

"That's fine," Genjo said.  He pulled out a map.  "The evil resides about here."

She looked.  "I don't know anyone who's been over that border."

"Some of mine have once," Genjo said.  "That's how we got the map.  That was the last time we fought this evil."

"Okay," she decided.  "I'll make my way that way."  She stood up and dusted her seat off.  "Let me get on my way south and I'll meet you there in a few weeks."  She hiked off to her horse.

Genjo put up the map.  "I hope others can help too.  Five semi warriors are not good odds."

"John's been killing demons since we were children," Gojyo said.  "I'm sure he can help.  He's trained his sons too."

"Sam's acting as regent from what I'm told," Genjo said.  "So we'll probably not get him unless Xander is able to resume hearing whining."

"With our luck, Xander will show up," Hakkai said.

"Then I'd send him home."

"He is a warrior," Goku said.  "But he's really sick.  I doubt he could make the trip all that way."

"You'd be surprised about some warriors," Hakkai said, looking at Gojyo.  Who smiled back.

"He won't be there," Genjo said.


Xander got up and winced, holding himself in a sitting position.  "Okay," he decided.  He swung his legs around.

"Back in that bed!" someone female shouted.

"Bite me!" he yelled back.

"That's starting to sound more like home," Dean quipped, leaning in the doorway.  "They're bringing you soup."

"That's fine.  They need to bring me my horses."

"No way in hell, dude."

Xander looked at him.  "We're facing the extinction of our world, Dean.  I'm not sitting out.  We can even go unchain my father for a bit in case he wants to die in battle."

"Are we that desperate?" Dean asked.  John nodded as he walked past him carrying a bowl of soup.  "Damn!"

"Basically," John agreed.  He looked at Xander.  "You're in no shape."

"I can rest while we travel," he said.

"There's no way you're going to slip a wagon past there."

"Who said a wagon?  We can slip a carriage through on the pretense of visiting someone like a relative.  We have some pretty damn good guards.  That would be in line with guarding me as I traveled to some mystical yuckety-yuck thing or one of my loving spouse's relatives.  No one there has to know who my spouse is."

"You're still too weak," John said.  "You'd never make it through the battle."

Xander stared at him.  "Would that stop you?"

"He's got a point, Dad.  It wouldn't and didn't stop you a few times," Dean said.  "That leaves no one in charge here.  We're far enough west that we could get hit here."

Xander shook his head.  "The kingdom has protections."

"It does," John agreed.  "Which you haven't renewed."

"I have so.  I did it behind his back for years."  He grinned.  "It's nearly time again."  He made himself stand up and take the soup to gulp on his way to the bathroom.  "Let me bathe.  I'm still sticky from the sweat."

"You're still too weak to stand in a battle," John said.

"That's why I have an army," Xander said simply.  John smirked at him.  "I can lead them."  He nodded that was true.  "And hey, with both me and Sam there, the evil thing will come out to find us."   He walked into the bathroom but left the door open.  "I'll be out in a few."

"Sure, kid," John said.  He looked at Dean and nodded.  Dean nodded back, going to pack and leave.  John snuck out the same way. There was a message for him asking him to please check Queen Joyce for a possession on his way down and where Genjo and his team were going.  That was very helpful.  He sent Dean to check the queen and headed out.  He was still the better demon killer between him and his sons.

Sam walked into Xander's bedroom, pulling out clothes.  "They left."

"Figured they did."

"They're going to the next continent over."

"Knew that."

"You know where?"

"It'll come for us.  Get a carriage.  We're going visiting with a guardian troop due to the strife we've heard about."

"Good idea," Sam decided.  He went to get the head guards for Xander.

Xander came out and was getting dressed when the heads of his army showed up.  "We're going to help the spouse."

"You're sick," one said.

"We're going visiting."  He looked at him.  "With a convenient guard troop due to the strife."  The generals smiled.  "You guys are to sneak there."  Sam got them a map from the library. "There?"

"Near here," he said with a point.  The generals nodded.  "They're spreading this way though."  He marked the route.

"Which means that they're coming through this pass," one said.  "I'm from over that way, Princess Samuel."  Sam and Xander both smiled.  "Take this road.  It's safe and faster."  He looked at him.  "That means no siege engines."

"Borrow from the closest neighbors," Xander ordered.  "They're probably overrun."

The generals laid out plans and it was going to work.  They left.  Sam and Xander walked out together, dressed for traveling.  Xander walked into the throne room leaning on Sam's arm.  "We are hereby at the stage of preparing for a battle," he announced.  Everyone stared at him.  "There is something just beyond Queen Joyce's lands that is pushing demons this way."  He looked around.  "We are now devolved to battle conditions.  Thank you for all the good thoughts and good work while I was sick.  Now, we're going back to the old standby mode."  Everyone nodded, moving to handle things.  He looked at his worried looking majordomo.  "We're going to see a holy healing shrine."  The majordomo smiled.  "The carriage?"

"Is hitched up, sire."  They walked out together.  "I will fire call as soon as I can."  Xander nodded, climbing up inside.  Samuel climbed in with a basket of things that Xander would need.  Then another two were handed in smelling delicious.  They rode off.  Their accessory guard unit followed at the quick trot they set.  He went back inside.  "Warn the other leaders it is serious but not that he's going."  They all nodded.


Genjo connected with Xander right after they crossed the continental border.  "How are you feeling?"

"Better.  A lot stronger.  I've been getting a lot of rest."

Genjo moved closer to the dream plane apparition.  "Are you at home?"

"Traveling to a healer."

"Why can I sense more evil thoughts?"

"Because there's a pass that most of the demons are coming through?"  Genjo gaped.  "I do have an army that's been bored for the last few months."  He wavered.  "Sorry, Sam's trying to wake me up."  He disappeared.  "Ow, Sam."

"Sorry.  Forgot you were too touch sensitive still."

Xander nodded.  "Which makes for a happy, happy boy," he said sarcastically.  "My wife hates to be touched and I can't be touched."  Sam smiled at him.  "I know, we'll figure it out."

"Sometime yeah.  That might fade."

"Great.  What am I supposed to do for the next few years?"

"We'll figure it out."  He handed him something to eat.  "Eat, you need to gain some more strength and weight."

Xander nibbled but he did eat.  It was a long carriage trip.  He was able to sleep, which was helpful, but it was still a long, boring trip.


The gathered demons sneered at their lord.  "Aww, the sick princess approaches.  Make them welcome."

"I doubt that," Xander said, popping into view.  They had been hidden behind a camouflage screen.

"Who comes to battle in a carriage?"

"One who needs the weapons in it," Xander quipped, pulling the lever that turned their carriage into a siege engine.  "Attack!" he ordered.  His troops ran into battle.  Dean had taught the generals how to handle demons when it appeared there was a problem coming.  Xander and Sam were both on the carriage horses, which were actually war trained.  They rode down into battle.  It was safer for both of them.

"Destroy them," the demon lord shouted.  The demons roared and rushed at the stupid humans.

"I doubt that," Genjo said, opening up his holy book to take out the thing it contained.  He prayed and the holy scroll attacked.  John and Dean were by them.  Buffy had her own forces with Prince Don to help surround the demons.

The battle was bloody.  It was messy.  Sam got a slight cut to his arm and Dean's temper went over the cliff and plunged into darkness.  John's too.  Xander's new cuts got the same sort of response from his army.  And from Xander, who retreated a bit into his animal possession.  It meant he had to dismount because his horse was not used to a growling rider.  He wasn't quite at his usual level but he could sure enough wield a sword for a while.  A while was all they needed because the demon lord couldn't resurrect the ones that they had killed.  They kept fighting until it was Genjo against the demon lord with his companions and John holding off the army of demons.  Xander's army had ripped the necessary hole through.  Buffy's team had taken out many more.  Don's team had taken out quite a few and kept them from escaping.

Xander and Sam were together again and it was creating a strange eddy in the demons.  Xander finally got free and stomped up there, sneering at the higher demon.  "My father's a better warrior than you are and he's fucking pathetic."  He stabbed the demon.  "You're not worthy of us."  He walked off.  "Boys, mop this shit up," he ordered.  The army did that and then retreated to cover their master.

"Yeah, he has an army," Dean quipped at John.  He stabbed a demon trying to save the higher one.

John shot one of them and moved to behead another one.  "Yes he does but I'm still paddling him if he husband doesn't."

"At least if Genjo had to marry, he married someone who was just as stubborn as him," Gojyo said.

"Indeed," Hakkai agreed.  He blasted some more demons and more tried to run.  Genjo killed the head demon and it was over with.  There was a few mop up spots but the others got them.  He checked his companions.  All injured.  Genjo was nearly comatose.  "Um, King Xander, can we borrow your carriage?"

"Sure.  I'm about due for a nap anyway," he said dryly.  They led his husband that way.  Sam undid the change and it was a carriage again.  Genjo got put inside and treated until he was slightly better.  Xander climbed up in there and grinned.  "Don't worry, the army of fussy healers is waiting on us over the border."  Genjo moaned something like 'let me die'.  "I can't do that.  You did encourage me to keep going when I was so damn sick."  He patted him on the wrist.  "We'll work it out."  Sam climbed up with him and the carriage took off.  "Are we escaping?"

"Yes.  Dad's livid."

"He can go home then."  They shared a smile.  "Hakkai, is your little friend going to be okay without you?"

"He'll follow with the others.  I told him to if I had to remove someone."  That got a nod and they settled in to rest.  It was half a day's trip to the border camp.  Where it did seem that every single healer in the world was waiting to fuss and complain at them.

"Lord Xander, what are you doing out of bed?" a healer yelled.

Xander looked at him.  "I followed my beloved spouse into battle," he said dryly.  "Do we have any of that touch-numbing stuff?"  She handed him a vial to drink and got his husband out to treat him.  "Hakkai is his personal healer."

"Fine.  Whatever."

"I'll check you over later," Hakkai said.

"We'll be halfway home," Xander said dryly.  He looked at his generals.  "Losses?" he asked more quietly.

"Ten, Sire."

"I'm sorry."

"Us as well but better them than the world."

"I almost stopped and freed my father so he could honorably lose his life," Xander quipped.

The general looked at him.  "A few of us went to see what his punishment is.  He might have appreciated it."

Xander shrugged.  "I'm not the Merciful Goddess my spouse's people pray to."  He walked off.  "Sam, think we can ride home?"

"Maybe," he agreed.  He followed.  He heard his father yelling.  They commandeered some horses and trotted off into the darkening evening.  They were doing a strategic retreat to save more injuries.  Mostly theirs.

The general walked over to help King John dismount.  "They've already fled."

"Figures," Dean complained, letting himself be helped down.  "Healer, I could use a few stitches in my leg."

"I can see that."  She walked him off nagging.

Buffy got off her horse and looked at Don.  "There's plenty of days I miss being a princess."

He smiled.  "There's been a few days when being a princess doesn't sound so bad."  She smiled and let the animal people handle her horse.  They got taken to the healing tents to get their injuries treated.  "Did my father show up?"

"No, he holds the northern lands steady," one healer noted.

Don nodded.  "Good.  He'd fuss."

"You're due for some," one of the healers said.  He grimaced but sucked it up.


Genjo was still cranky when they got back to the palace.  He stormed into the castle.  His spouse was on his throne looking less than healthy.  "I thought you were better."

"I am.  This is better.  I've regained half of the weight I lost to the fever and the poison."  He stared at him.  "Are you well now?"

"I've healed."

"That's not what I asked."  He stood up and walked down the two stairs to stand in front of him.  He ducked the fan and grinned.  "Getting predictable, Wife."  He winked and walked off.  "Your house was cleaned last night and new food laid in so you can rest until you feel ready to deal with the daily complaints."

"I think we'll be talking first."

"If you're certain," Xander quipped.

"Hakkai, check my beloved spouse," he said sarcastically.

"I can do that once you're resting."  He led him over to their house, letting him go to his own resting spot.  Goku was in the kitchen.  Gojyo too.  "Save me some."  He went to find the king.  "Sire."

"I'm still just a Xander, Hakkai."

"Fine.  Let me check you over?"

"I really don't think it's going to do any good," he said quietly, looking at the younger man.  "I really don't."

"Let me try at least.  It'll keep the princess from whining at us."  Xander shrugged and let him touch his hand.  Xander winced and pulled back.  "That shouldn't have hurt you."

"Any touch hurts right now.  It's a side effect that may never leave."

"That sucks," he said.  He laid a hand gently on Xander's chest and concentrated.  "I can feel the poison but it's reading that you can't be healed."

"I know."

"It's at a very high concentration."

"I can't wear it out if I can't be touched, Hakkai."  He shrugged.  "We'll figure something out later on.  When it gets to be too much."

"I could feel the hyena."

Xander smiled.  "She purred back at you I'm sure."

"She did.  You should still be resting."

"I've regained half my weight."

"Good.  You still have to gain almost thirty more pounds."

"I know.  I'm working on it."  Hakkai nodded and left him alone.  Xander walked out into the throne room again.  "Anything else going on or can I have a snack?"

Tony walked in and stared at him.  "Go back to bed."

"I'm not your wife," he joked with a grin.

"No but my father sent me to liaison."  He smirked.  "Go back to bed."

"Sam's my regent when I'm indisposed but he's hiding."

"I saw John and Dean.  Go rest."  Xander rolled his eyes but went to rest.  Tony went to check in with the majordomo.  "My father sent me to liaison."

"Of course, Princess Anthony.  Just you?"

"I trust your people to help me dress.  My personal assistant broke his foot getting away from a demon that appeared in the middle of the throne room.  We think it's due to the aborted marriage contract."  That got a nod and Tony found his room to put his bag in it then walked off to find John again.  He cleared his throat.  "King John, may I request an audience?"

"Just speak, Princess."

Tony smiled.  "I'm not supposed to be so blunt but all right.  My brother's aborted marriage contract caused a demon to pop into our throne room and nearly scared my mother to renewed life."

"Who was he due to marry?" Dean asked.  "I'm making sure I won't be related."

"Princess Willow."

John and Dean shared a smirk.  "We can gladly talk to her," John agreed.  "Can you help Sammy and Xander finish healing?"

"Of course.  My parents want me safely away for now.   My brother was sent to talk to some other princesses to the south that need a good, level headed person who has no backbone."  He smiled.  "I saw King Xander.  He was a bit thin."

"He's gained half of it back," Dean offered.

"He needs the rest back before something new happens.  His wife's people are being snippy."  He walked off.

John went to fire call the Sanzo king.  "Good day."

"You are not at home?"

"No, I'm trying to find my son since he's hiding to help King Xander.  Your son is healing well and just made it home today."

"That is good news."

"Genjo did complain a lot that Xander got out of a sick bed to help him with his destined battle," Dean said.

The other king blinked at him.  "He was ill?"  His wife said something so he looked at her then at John.  "Did you do that?"

"No, Princess Willow of the Rosenburg lineage did."  John smirked.  "We're going to talk to her about her demon summoning ways."

"Then we hold no onus and decide that their marriage is real enough," the king decided.  "Have my son write me soon?"

"I'll tell him."

"Thank you."  He hung up, going to meditate on that information.  It was quite interesting.

John and Dean went to find the princess that was going to cause more problems.  John left a note for Genjo but otherwise Sammy could handle things for everyone.  The three supremely qualified princesses would handle things well enough.

The End.

To Second Story