Note:  yes, the crack did continue.  I was perfectly willing to let it go but then the stupid crack bunny came back.  So yes, this is mostly crack but not pure crack.  There's also talk about Joyce's problems due to her brain tumor, and her death off screen.  Also, Willow's death in there during a battle.

A Qualified, Mouthy Princess

Gojyo was outside smoking to get some fresh air when he saw a carriage barreling toward the castle.  It looked familiar.  He realized why when he heard the person inside ordering the driver to slow the fuck down.  He opened the door to the house that Genjo had on the palace grounds.  "Your mentor is here," he called.  Then he shut the door and finished his cigarette.  Genjo walked out and toward the castle looking amused.  He followed because it was probably going to be a biting, sarcastic argument in the making.

Xander looked up as first one person then his wife walked into his throne room.  "Princess Gregory, what do I owe the pleasure of this visit to?"

"I need sanctuary."

"Of course.  Is it an assassination attempt or another problem?" Xander asked.

"That dumb bastard Rory wants me as his wife."

Xander grimaced.  "I didn't take you for liking slime creatures so of course we'll protect you.  Does your castle need help?"

"No, Crown Prince Cuddy is trying to hold him off."

"They still haven't confirmed her?" Genjo asked.

Princess Gregory looked at him.  "Nice to know you're safely away from the uptight assholes."

Xander grinned.  "His uptight assholes decided I needed a political marriage."  Gregory gaped in horror.  Genjo nodded, lighting up his own smoke.

"That's not good for you," Gregory complained.

"Not like it'll affect how I carry an heir," he quipped back with a smirk.

"Speaking of, we've got to use the surrogate soon," Xander said, shifting on his seat.  "Majordomo?" he called.  He came rushing in.  "This is Princess Gregory of the Asclepian Kingdom."  The Majordomo bowed and pulled out a scroll.  "He's seeking sanctuary."

"That's fine, Sire.  I can find him a good suite."  He led him off.  "Do you have a retinue, Princess?  Or should I find you a helper?"

"I can dress myself," he promised dryly.

"That's fine."  He noticed he was limping and using a cane.  "Would you prefer a few stairs to a modestly nice suite or one of the houses out back that will belong to a future nanny?"

"That would be nice," House agreed.  Genjo followed. "Sure, we'll catch up.  You can tell me about the wedding since we never heard."

"Great, it's a meeting of sarcastic princesses," Tony quipped with an evil grin and a wave for them.  "I'm liaisoning while my parents pick my brother a new spouse."

"Did he kill them for overt stupidity?" Gregory asked.

"No, we canceled it because Princess Willow nearly killed Xander."  Gregory paused to stare at him.  Tony smirked and nodded.  "Which is why I'm liaisoning."

"Wonderful," House said finally.  "Rory attacked the castle to capture me so he could force me into a marriage."

Tony snickered.  "He's too drunk to do anything to you.  I doubt he works with as much as he drinks."  He walked off.  "Let me nag Xander into lunch."

"Is he still sick?" Gregory asked Genjo, who shrugged.  "Yes, no, not sure?"

"He's healed.  He's regaining the weight he lost while sick.  Hakkai said he can't be healed any farther but we're worried about a few things since it left him very touch sensitive."

"I'm a full healer.  I'll look over the case to see if there's an option," Gregory decided.  He followed the retainer out to the house, smiling at the small cottage.  "This is pleasant."

"Thank you, Princess.  We have another one but it is smaller."

"This is good," he said.  "What's the baths like?"

"There's three.  One is up two steps in the childcare area," the majordomo said.  He let them inside and showed him around.  It was a fairly simple cottage.  Living room with shelves instead of a separate library.  Kitchen, dining room.  Three bedrooms and the children's area up those few stairs.  Two baths, both with large soaking tubs.  "The King's grandmother had these built and she insisted that a good scrubbing did everyone good."  He smiled.  "I'll find you a housekeeper and have you sent a calendar of events."

"We hold many of them?" Gregory asked.

"No.  We have a monthly formal dinner for the local nobles.  We have a few visits scheduled."

Gregory grimaced.  "If word gets back to the filthy warlord he'll show up here."

"Xander has promised he can join his father in Wayfaira Woods," Genjo said.

"Why is he out there?" Gregory asked.  The majordomo shuddered.  "Okay, I won't ask."  He looked around.  "This will do me fine.  Thank you."

"Welcome, Princess Gregory.  I'll alert the local healer that you're here so she can talk to you about any cases she's worried about."  He left them alone, going to find him a housekeeper.

House sat down and sighed in pleasure.  "The carriage is lumpy."

"They tend to be.  Even the one that Xander has that turns into a siege engine is."  He sat across from his former mentor.  "Xander is fair as a ruler," he said quietly.

"So I've heard.  Or I would've went to Tony's people.  King Jethro scares the crap out of most other rulers.  Outside of King John."

"He's in and out of here because Princess Samuel is here."  Genjo smirked.  "I would ask for a favor, Gregory.  Can you look over Xander's condition?  Hakkai is worried."

"I can even though that sounds like a child saying their teddybear is sick."  He shifted and put his feet up.  "What happened?"  Genjo told him everything.  "That stupid bitch," Gregory sneered.

"We have a high price out for the alchemist's capture," Gojyo said, sitting down next to his princess.  "Princess Willow knows not to get out of her kingdom or else she'll be attacked."  Gregory and Genjo shared an evil smirk.

"How is your bitchy prince?" Genjo asked.

"Bitchy.  Unrealistic and bitchy.  She thinks that we have to have a great battle to defeat the evil warlord."  He waved a hand.  "Hence me moving out of the way when she loses."

"Xander suggested someone poison the camp's liquor stash," Genjo said.

"So did I," Gregory said.  He shifted and sighed in pleasure.  "Better.  Just one more year and she can be confirmed.  If we have a kingdom left."  Footmen carried in his three trunks.  "Put them in the main bedroom down here," he said with a point.  They carried them in there.  Gregory looked at his former protege. "How are things otherwise?"

"Going decently enough.  Xander respects me and my privacy without getting too pushy."

"He figured out how to handle the viewed consummation night that his family demanded," Gojyo said.  Gregory shuddered.  Sam knocked and walked in carrying a basket.  "Hey, Sam," Gojyo said with a grin.

"Hi."  He handed over the basket.  "Here, so you can snack.  I brought back about three bushels of berries."  He grinned at Gregory, who smirked back.  They had met in the past and his father had tried to get them interested in each other.  "Xander's to the point of twitchy.  Is there any way we can ease that touch problem?" he asked Genjo.

"Hakkai's not sure why he's still so touch sensitive," Genjo admitted.  "I'd love for him not to be so twitchy.  It worries people, who all stare at me like it's my job to cure it."  He lit another cigarette and took a berry to nibble on.  "Those'll go nicely into some sake."

Sam grinned.  "I've got a batch of Queen's Brew making."  They all smiled at him for that.  He sat down next to Gregory.  "So, it's you, me, and Tony hanging out here.  Dad's being a bitch again.  Dean's blatantly stomped off to be with his chosen princess, who is a bit ...frosty but one hell of a warrior."  Gregory nodded.  "Which boned a treaty but they were extreme idiots.  I nearly asked one if she had a brain."

"Dean would never put up with that," Genjo said blandly.  "Unless she had big breasts and he wasn't needed for more than a one-night stand."  He took a drag on his cigarette and smiled at the two single princesses.  "We were told this morning we have to do an anniversary thing next month.  Xander's trying to get out of it."  He took another hit off the smoke.

Sam grimaced.  "Yuck.  A formal ball?"  Genjo shrugged.  "Well, maybe Gregory being in danger will solve that."

Xander strolled in with letters.  "Sam, your father's being a bitch and wants you back so you can attend Princess Charlie's marriage to his favorite guard.  I offered them our garden so none of us had to travel."  He smiled at the others.  "Don's still flirting with a few different princesses.  Willow's trying to get him interested too.  He's already threatened to send Princess Charlie's man after her."  He handed Genjo three scrolls.  "Your mom, your brother, and one for Hakkai by the seals."  

He looked at Gregory.  "Your prince called.   What a fucking bitch."  Gregory burst out laughing.  "So I told her you were granted sanctuary and safe.  She's apparently of the opinion that I'll add you to my harem of my spouse, Sam, possibly Dean, Tony, and now you."  He shook his head.  "I have no idea I'm in a tryst with them.  She's threatened to tell King Jethro so Tony called him and told his mom, who cackled so long and loud everyone decided it was probably a bad thing.  

"Jethro finally got her out of the way to see what happened and told Tony he was getting paddled if it was true but to enjoy it because good sex in a political marriage is rare and they've narrowed it down to ten for him."  He handed over a thick roll of papers.  "I know my beloved wife will ask so here."  He walked off.

"It seems like I sense evil thoughts around him more often than not," Genjo said, staring at his husband's back.

Sam read his letter.  "Aww, Charlie even asked permission before they eloped.  So they're doing a renewal next month.  That means he can go hang out with his daughter."

"When is she coming back?" Genjo asked.

"When Rory's dead and gone and the other warlord up in the northern continent too.  King Alan said it had to be safe for her.  He adores her like a stepdaughter and is found teaching her all sorts of things."

That got a nod from everyone.

Genjo looked at his.  "My mother hopes that I have an heir coming soon.  She's been offering up prayers to the Merciful Goddess that I be cursed just the once so I can have my own.  I should really *thank* her for wanting me to be pregnant."  He put that one aside with a scowl and read the other one.  "My brother has went insane and is trying to torture people.  They think he was mind-poisoned."  He put that one aside with a sigh.  "Hakkai!" he shouted.  Hakkai strolled in after a quick knock.  "Yours."  He handed over the scroll.

He looked at the seal and smiled as he broke it to read.  He rolled his eyes.  "Your brother needs help.  None of the healers can help him."  Genjo handed over that scroll.  "I can't heal torture."  He considered things and went to write them a letter.  Genjo could write his own correspondence to his family.  He'd fire call to talk to someone in person but it would be considered rude.

Genjo shook his head.  "I'm staying here even if my brother is found dead by his own hand soon."

"The only way this situation could get any sweeter was if my brand of smokes was made locally so they were less expensive," Gojyo quipped with a smirk for his boss.  Who smacked him on the head.  "Hey!  Watch the hair!"

"Mother suggested I marry your ass off so my future heir could have yours to guard him or her," Genjo said blandly.

"I didn't know she believed in slave contracts," Gojyo complained.  "Please don't.  I'd miss all the fun girls."

"If he did, he'd have to throw you an appropriate wedding," Gregory quipped with an evil smirk.

"That's an evil thought," Genjo said blandly.  "And since you're my retainer they could probably even force you to have a viewed wedding night as well.  All the outfits, all the pretty robes...."  Gojyo got up and walked out shuddering.  The two princesses snickered and Sam shook his head.

"That's so evil.  Dad threatened Dean with a wedding worthy of your family, Genjo.  That's why they're about to elope.  Or just run off together to go hunt demons."  He got up.  "Let me know if you need anything, Gregory.  I've been acting as Xander's second-in-command for a while now."  He left them to catch up.

"He does," Genjo agreed.  "Which is nice because I've only had to bless two babies since the wedding and the quest."

Gregory stared at him.  "Are you that bored in your marriage?"

"It solved many problems for myself and Xander, but he and Sam have been close for years.  Mostly because John sent a cursed Sam to deliver that first dose of poison."  Gregory unrolled the scroll and growled.  "Indeed."

"What the fuck was someone thinking?" Gregory demanded.

"Princess Willow decided it would cancel out the old remains in his blood.  Instead it nearly killed him for a few months.  He spent two months with a high fever."

Gregory stared at him.  "Why didn't you call?"

"I was on the quest and I tried to call.  I got Prince Cuddy, who sneered about him not being worthy of their help."

"He's clearly not his father."  He went back to reading all the notes the healers had made.  "Any lingering problems?"

"Any touch hurts."

"How is he wearing out the remains of the taint?" Gregory demanded.

"He's not.  Which is why he's twitchy and distracted."  They shared a look.  "My own repression does not help," he admitted more quietly.  "But he has always looked out for my desires."

Gregory sneered.  "You're not one of the uptight assholes who has to repress everything, Genjo.  So just stop it."  He stood up.  "Let me check your spouse out."

"If he desires and you want," Genjo said sarcastically.  "He's always been discreet outside of a few moments when someone got annoyingly loud."

"Fine."  He limped off, going to find the king.  He was in the gardens yelling at someone.  "Did she kill someone?"

"Yes, something.  She poisoned one of the temple cats that Genjo's family sent to bless his home with."

"I hate cats," Genjo said.  He glared at the woman on the ground.  "That's not a reason to kill them though."  She burst out crying.  "Hakkai, take her into custody so we can talk about her punishment."

"Of course."  He and the guards walked her off.  He wanted out of the way of that argument.

"I think a few years of forced servitude to your family at home," Xander said.  "To make up for the death of their present."

Genjo shivered.  "That's a highly evil thought, Xander."

Xander grinned.  "Thank you."  Genjo walked off rubbing his arms.  The evil had chilled him slightly.

Gregory waited until they were alone to laugh.  "That would serve her right."  He looked at him.  "Time to look at this problem of yours, kid."

Xander looked at him.  "I still can't be touched."

"If you wore that out, it'd help."

"I don't like pain that much, thank you anyway."  Gregory stared at him.  "Seriously.  Each time someone touches me it's like a pain stick being applied to wherever I'm in contact with their skin."

"What about with gloves on?"

"Then it's a more mild pain."

"Crap.  Let's get Hakkai and look you over."  He grabbed Hakkai and walked the king back to his suite.  "Strip."

"How far?" Xander quipped.

"If you want to get naked, do it in front of your wife."

"He'd hate that."  He stripped down to his thong.  Gregory stared at him.  "Clothing doesn't hurt *quite* as much."

"Crap."  He told Hakkai what he needed to know.  It was faster than drawing blood for examination under the microscope.  Hakkai told him what he found and they talked quietly.  Gregory came back and put on some gloves.  "I need to draw some blood after all."

Xander winced.  "It's safer and easier if I just slice a finger for you."

"I need more than that."  Xander plucked his dagger off his beltline and cut into his palm.  Hakkai rushed to get something to hold it.  Gregory filled it and then swatted him, making Xander moan in pain.  "Good!  Dumbass!"

"It hurts less than you touching me would," Xander told him, staring at him.

"Whatever.  We'll work on that."

"I've even taken two of the cleanses that his mother suggested."

Hakkai shuddered.  "We survived the last one since you were on water only for three days."  Xander grinned sweetly.  Hakkai got him a microscope.  The healers had stashed it up here when Xander had been so sick.

Gregory looked at it under the microscope and grimaced.  "There's a chance of using a filtering pad plant."

Hakkai shook his head.  "I talked with a healer who has the same powers I do.  He said doing that would probably kill him."

"Damn."  Gregory went to fire call his home.  "I need everything we have on the Gentrus poison," he told the Fellow that answered.

"The Crown Prince wants to know why," the Fellow said.

"Because King Alexander was infected for a second time by a brainless little tramp of a princess," he said bluntly.  "It means that it's almost impossible for him to do anything right now and he's sick enough that he can't help her defeat his uncle.  Send them today and if she whines, thump her around like I would."  He hung up and went back up there.  "Let me get our sources.  Perhaps there is another way."  He looked at Xander's blood again.  "What is that particle?" he muttered.

Hakkai looked then at him.  "You had fish?"

"I think the cook accidentally fed me fish stock."

"You had fish."  Xander groaned and shook his head.  "We'll fix it, Xander.  That way you can wear out your concubine before you break out and lash someone for being so twitchy."  He left to tell his boss.

Gregory looked at him.  "Can you do it yourself?"

"It's never helped.  It has to be someone else."

Gregory nodded. "Most people say that after they've been afflicted."  A page walked in and handed him a note.  He read it.  "Tell her to fly off on her broomstick.  He's nothing like his father, or else we'd still be hostages."  The page nodded and left to put that more politely.  "What if that is the only place of contact?"

"I think it's the heat from their skin, not the skin itself, and the pressure of the touch," Xander said.  "I hate pain.  There's no way I can get it up when I'm in that much pain.  Nor do I want to train my body to accept that sort of pain."

"I get that."  He handed him back his clothes, watching as he put back on the skin colored gloves.  "That helps?"

"A lot.  It means I don't have to shake hands as much either."  Gregory nodded and left him alone.  Xander finished up and pulled out a book to read.  He was getting a lot of reading in now that he couldn't play with his concubines or Sam.


Xander walked out to find a screaming prince in his castle a few days later.  "It's our rest day," he said firmly, stopping her from more than sneering at his people.  "What is your problem?"

"Your uncle."

"Poison his liquor," he said bluntly.

"That's not how wars go," she sneered.

"Yes it is.  Because the only thing warlords care about is winning, not honor or ethics."  She gasped.  "By his way of thinking he's already won because no matter how long you last against him you have honor and ethics where he doesn't.  That means he'll eventually win.  Even if he has to dose you with something."

"Is that what happened to you?" she sneered.

He slapped her hard, sending her to the floor.  "I won't take sneering at me in my own kingdom, Prince Cuddy.  Don't do it again.  And no, mine was from King John trying to get my father.  Since he's ...suffering I don't think my uncle's going to get much help from him either."  He stared at her.  "Though I have a wonderful thing I can have put out there so you can visit him."  She crawled backwards.  "Now, if you're done throwing a fit in *my* kingdom, you can get up off the floor.  Because you're dirtying it."  He walked off.  "Someone tell Princess Gregory that his bitchy prince is here," he yelled as he went to the kitchen.   "And if he doesn't remove her I'm having her sent to visit my father.  I'm sure they'd have a *lovely* time chatting."

Gregory walked past him.  "I heard what happened to him.  That's evil."

Xander smiled.  "Despots deserve it."  He ducked into the kitchen, taking his coffee.  "Thank you, Cook."  He kissed her on the cheek and went outside.  "It's our rest day so I'm going to hunt."

"I'll tell Princesses Sam and Tony," she promised.

Gregory looked at his crown prince.  "He's right.  You don't throw a fit like that in someone else's kingdom.  Our people would be ashamed."  She glared.  He stared back.  "Even I have manners, Cuddy."  He walked off.  "Did you bring me those sources?  I've got to get that weeded out of his body thanks to the second poisoning."

"He can die," she sneered.

Gregory looked at her.  "Remember, Rory would get more benefit from marrying you than me."  He smirked.  "That would mean he'd have a legitimate heir to our throne."  She stomped off.  "Maybe we should build her a little witch's cabin in the woods."

"Even the dragons wouldn't touch her," Genjo said, sipping his tea as he walked past them.  He had the status to go rip her down and make her feel like shit, which was his plan for the morning.  He accepted the message from the dusty messenger as he walked past him on his way to the courtyard.  He glanced at it.  "Fuck."

Goku flinched and looked up.  "Problems?  Another great evil?  Another quest?" he asked hopefully.

"My father wants us to renew our vows and our wedding night on our anniversary."

Goku blinked.  "That's still sick of him."  He got handed the message.  "Let me get this to your spouse."

"He's going hunting probably."

"That's fine."  He headed for the stables.  "Xander?"  Xander looked out from the stables.  "Your adoring in-laws are cranked in the head."

"It's all the lust they repress," he said dryly.  He looked at the message.  "Hell no!"  Goku hid a smile.  "You know what?  We'll talk to them about how I was so damn sick and right now I'm not really able to touch another person without it being a *bad* thing."  He handed it back and mounted.  "I'm going into the west woods."  He rode off, breaking into a canter once he was out of the castle.

Goku borrowed a pen on his way back to Genjo's side so he could write that suggestion on it.  Genjo was ripping into a snotty regal sort so he waited and enjoyed it not being against him.  Their princess was on a rip and was about to break out the fan or the banishing gun.


Gojyo got the unenviable task of checking on Xander's father for him.  Xander was in a mean shit mood and he had been in his way on the way to coffee.  What he had seen had ruined his mind.  Probably permanently.  Yes, Xander could be evil if it was warranted.  He walked up in front of him and bowed slightly.  "Ever full goblets are only rated to do five glasses a day, guaranteed for five years, Xander.  His is no longer working.  I left him a tiny bottle of sake."

Xander grimaced.  "I'll order another one.  Can't have him dying of thirst," he sneered.  "Anything else he needs?  I wasn't sure if the bottle of Ever Slick were going to be enough."

"So far they are.  He's just drank a whole lot.  The plate's still full of rotting food."

Xander shrugged.  "That's his thing then."  He smiled at the shuddering man.  "He deserved it.  He has a dagger?"

"Yes.  I made sure it's in reach.  I drizzled some of the oil on it to keep it from rusting."

"Thank you."  He smiled.  "Is there room in the clearing for Gregory's crown prince?"

"Yes.  Or there's another one a few minutes' walk away where I puked."

Xander grinned.  "I'd never do that to Genjo unless he tried to overthrow me or something."

"Good!"  He walked off shuddering.

Genjo stared at him.  "I can sense the evil."

"I got between him and his coffee so I had to do the anniversary check of his father's confinement.  He's worn out an Ever Full goblet already."  He went to take a hot bath.  He was chilled, he felt like there was nastiness on his skin, and he wanted Hakkai to make it better.

"I'll talk to him."

"Make him wear that out," Gojyo complained as he stomped up the stairs.  "He needs to wear it out."

"If I could, I would."  He went to talk to his spouse, who was indeed ordering another Ever Full goblet.  "They're supposed to last for five years."

"It's dry," Xander quipped.  "His plate's fine though."  He grinned.

"Whatever."  He stared at him.  "You're turning a bit evil, Xander," he said quietly.

"Not like I have an outlet for that."  He walked around him.  "I wrote that suggestion back to your mother.  She said it didn't matter and I could still do my duty.  So I called her, which pissed her off.  She said it was rude.  I told her we considered talking in person or over the fire less rude than messages every few days.  I also told her since I couldn't stand to have someone touch my hand, much less my dick, that there'd be no replay of the wedding night until I was better, and me getting better might take a while."

"So our fifth anniversary?" Genjo quipped sarcastically.

"She said if we haven't had heirs on our tenth she's going to have you specially blessed."  He looked at him.

"I hate kids."

"I enjoy watching them play somewhere else," Xander admitted.  "Then again, our kids will have nannies so we're not warping them."

"Good point.  I'll consider how to get an heir soon."  He walked off shaking his head.  He needed to talk to Sam.  Something about Sam's taint by the first poisoning they shared meant that Xander could tolerate him for longer but then Xander started to get worse faster.  He spotted Gregory and detoured to tell him that.  Maybe he'd figure out why.


Sam looked up from his meditation on Xander's floor when Xander walked in and paused then shut the suite's doors.  "I haven't released any of the build up in two weeks," he said quietly, standing up to walk closer to Xander.  He stripped him out of his outer clothes, leaving on the skin-colored bodysuit he wore underneath.

"I..." Xander started.

Sam kissed him delicately then pulled back.  "I heard someone compared you two."  Xander grimaced.  "Let me cure the evil tension, Xander."

"I can't, Sam."

"You can."

"I'm married."

"That's never stopped us and Genjo ordered me to.  You know I'm a sucker for a pouty princess."  He smiled and took another kiss.  Xander let him.  His own taint was easing a lot of Xander's.  It was helping a lot.  "Don't make me summon a succuba," he whispered in his ear.  Xander shuddered.  "So let me cure it."  He stroked lightly over top of the body suit.  Xander was grimacing.  "We can try it and then move back to this if it's too much."  He got him stripped and then himself.  He rested gently against Xander's chest, and it was okay.  Xander clearly had some pain so Xander got put onto the bed on his back.  

Sam leaned down to lick over the tense cock.  Xander nearly shouted at the release he needed.  It was always good between them.  Sam understood what Xander's body needed and what it craved.  He had Xander coming within minutes and then sat back to watch him recover.  Xander panted and gripped the sheets so Sam grinned and kissed his bellybutton.  "Hurt as much?"

"Not quite," he panted.

"Then we'll work on it."  He teased Xander some more until he was hard and ready to get off again.  Sam's own taint was easily worn out, even after two weeks.  Xander's had been building for nearly six months now.  It was so far out of control.  Xander was looking pained again so he backed off and made it quick and dirty.  Which was a joy in and of itself but tonight it was necessary.  Then he got Xander his bodysuit and helped him put it on.  Sam laid down beside him, stroking gently over the covered stomach.  Xander winced and shifted.  "Okay," he agreed quietly.

"I'm sorry, Sam."

"It's not a problem, Xander.  Though I'm seeing if Dean's seen a succuba.  She can probably suck that taint out without touching you."  He found the magic parchment Castiel had found for them to talk securely over and a pen.  "Dean?" he wrote.

"Yeah, Sammy?" flowed back in ink from the paper.

"Have you seen a succuba recently?"

"Intending to spice up your sex life with Xander?" got sent back.

"No!  I want to see if one could suck some of the taint out of him so it's not dangerous."

Dean was silent for a minute.  "Cas thought he spotted one about three towns back.  We'll send it as soon as we can, *chained up*, so you can handle it.  If it helps, let us know."

"Thanks."  He put it aside again and snuggled in as much as he could.  A pillow next to Xander to wrap himself around and touching his covered wrist as was close as he could come right now, and they'd fix it.  Xander did not deserve this.


Sam grinned when he heard the heralds proclaiming that Dean and Castiel were visiting a few days after their talk.  He ran out to talk to them when they rode in with the bound, gagged, head covered with a scarf being.  "Thank you."

"Welcome, Sammy," Dean said, getting off Impala and handing her reins over.  He helped the being off Cas's horse and then Castiel.  "Where's Xander?"

"Throne room listening to someone whine about fruit trees."  Dean rolled his eyes.  He and Castiel walked the bound demon in there, Sam following.

Xander looked up, frowning some.  "That's not a present I expected."

Dean undid her scarf and gag.  He pushed her forward.  "Can you feel where the poison taints him?"

She moved closer. "I can.  I can feel the weakness of the sickness too," she purred, smiling at him.  "You'll be very tasty for a while."

"I'll kill you first," he offered dryly.  "Sam, Dean, Castiel?  Any information you'd like to pass on here?"  The villager was gasping in outrage.

"She's going to wear out the taint of the poison," Castiel said.  "Then if she's successful, we'll let you bind her in the dungeon."

Xander held out a hand.  "It's worth a try at least."  She touched his hand and he winced and hissed but the pain eased a bit.  "That's enough."  He kicked her off while panting.

Genjo had been summoned and was in the doorway with his banishing gun.  "Was this really a good idea?"

"Yeah," Sam said.  "It was.  Can we tell how much it eased?"

Hakkai slipped past everyone to touch Xander's arm, making him flinch.  "The taint is halved but he's still in pain."

"Then we'll tie her up in the dungeon and he can use it to reduce more of the taint later," Dean decided, leading her that way with Cas's help.

Xander calmed himself.  "Thanks, guys."

Dean grinned.  "I'm asking for a favor in return."

"Sure.  Did you want to be our surrogate?  Genjo's mother said she was going to have him blessed with personal fertility if we don't have one soon."

"Um, no, because that's really freaky," Dean complained, shaking his head as they disappeared.

Xander looked at Hakkai.  "She said I'm still sick."

"The poison's still infecting you since you can't wear out the build up and that's what's making you so sick."

Xander nodded.  "Then we'll work on that."

"Any lessening of the pain?" Sam asked, sounding hopeful.  Xander shook his head.  "Damn it!  I was hoping it was related to that."

"Perhaps if it was fully worn out for a bit," Hakkai said.  "We'll have to see if another treatment would work."  He looked at his princess, who was glaring at him.  "It did help."

"At least she only touched his hand."

Xander snorted.  "Not like she could touch me anywhere else," he said.  "No one can, not even someone else who's afflicted."  Genjo grimaced but winced a bit.  "I feel like I should pretend to be an ice statue."  He got up and walked off.  "Tell your local mayor that the crossbreeding program can't take out all the village's potential crops but that a good tasting of it might help sell the new breed.  Less than twenty percent this year.  And plant some more of the non-crossbred ones."

"Yes, Sire."  The villager fled to tell his mayor that and spread the news.


Dean walked up to Xander that night, staring at him.  "That favor."

Xander quit nibbling to stare at him.  "What did you need help hunting?"

"I need us to have a safe place and be allowed to marry here.  Dad's lost his fucking mind."

Xander grinned. "Should we plan for something like my wife's people would do?"

"Dude, Cas would kill whoever's ass that suggested a viewed wedding night," he said dryly but he was smiling.

"Our people do not believe in that," Castiel agreed.  "Unlike the Sanzo dynasty."

"It's not all it's cracked up to be either," Genjo told them.  "You get anxiety about it.  I think that's why some of my relations never had any again."

Dean nodded.  "Yeah, I probably would and that would suck because my magnificence would be dimmed."  Castiel groaned and scowled at him.  He grinned back.  "It would be!"

"Stop it, Dean.  King Xander, may we wed here?"

"Yeah, I think you can."  He smiled.  "People, Prince Dean and Princess Castiel will be wed in two weeks' time," he announced.  "His father is not to hear for at least a week afterward."  The local nobles at the dinner cheered and started to make plans about who was going to go to which tailor for new clothes.  The majordomo walked over to start the plans that they'd need.  Dean wasn't picky but Castiel's people were nearly as picky as a Sanzo.


Two days later up north, King John shouted out an 'excuse me' and stomped around his palace.  He would beat his eldest son until he had sense!  How dare he send a succuba at Xander!


Hakkai checked Xander after the newest healing by the succuba, nodding.  "It's nearly non-existent in his body."

"Still sore," Xander admitted with a huff.

"Then we'll do it my way," Gregory said, knocking him out.  "Help me set up the plant, Hakkai."  They carried him off and took him to bed.  The locals who had seen were curious but King Xander was known to have...problems that his spouse could not solve.  They got Xander set up in the bed with the blood cleansing plant in the right spot and connected to an open wound.  "Get him some water.  This will probably make him thirsty."  Hakkai sent for some.  "It has to be the fever toxins."

"We thought perhaps the seizures he had would have changed something important."

"It's possible but not totally likely.  If it had been that, he would've reacted differently."

"This has acted like nothing I'm used to," Hakkai said quietly, looking at the sleeping man on the bed.  They had drugged him to make sure he didn't wake up during this.  "For a while I wondered if Willow had slipped in a second poison."

"No, that would've been noted. A few of the healers here don't have your gift but they do have the *gift* of healing by other means.  They can do the same tellings you can do."

"No way it could've been masked?"

Gregory shook his head.  "No.  Not that I'm aware of."

A page knocked and rushed in.  "Princess Gregory, your Crown Prince is here to see you.  She does not look happy."

"Thanks.  Hakkai, watch this."  He followed the page back down to the meeting room.  "What?  I'm cleaning his blood of toxins so maybe he's not so touch sensitive he can't stand to shake hands."  Clearly she had nothing better to do than ride a horse for four days to get here to bother him.  He'd really have to talk to someone at home so they found her new things to do.

"You'll either marry Prince James of our accessory line or you'll be banished as an eternal princess," she sneered.

Gregory sneered back.  "I've had James many times but he's still married.  His release won't be final for at least a year because the high priests are pissed at him for choosing so poorly three times."  She gasped and looked horrified.  "Beyond that, that's fine.  I can probably stay here and take in Fellows to train them better than you were."  He walked off to the doorway.  "Don't show up for Prince Dean's wedding in a few weeks, Cuddy.  You won't be welcome."

"You are hereby banished as an eternal princess until you either marry Prince James or Princess Cameron."

"Eww, don't make me sick," he sneered.  He stared her down.  "You can't enforce that.  You're not the king."  She moved closer to hit him but he punched her.  "You'll never make a good king, Cuddy.  The priests hate you more than they do James.  They call you selfish and bitchy all the time.  Even the bards can't find nice things to say about you."  He strolled off.

"You and this *warlord* suit each other.  You're both perverts," she sneered.

He smirked.  "Xander's not a warlord.  He's never taken over anywhere else and set all the ones his father had free."

"He probably wants the thrill of recapturing them."

"No, he's got all he needs here.  He made treaties before he killed his father so nothing would have to go to a battle.  He said he was tired of them, yet still got off his death bed to help his spouse with his battle against evil."

"I bet it was," she sneered.

"Everyone else was there."  He smirked.  "Remember, all the regency lines get to vote on whether or not you'll ascend next year, Cuddy.  Even me.  Do you really think with the way you've pushed your weight around they want you?  They may hate me but they loathe you."  He strolled off, going back to Xander's side.  "Hey, Sam, does every eternal princess have to take up with a beast?" he called when he spotted him.  "Cuddy just tried to name me one even though she's not the chosen one yet."

"No, some of them are living in exile.  It's only the punished ones and the ones given in reparation that have to live with something vile.  Xander proclaimed his father one before putting him in the woods."

Gojyo went pale.  "Eww, don't remind me. I had to check on him."  He shuddered as he walked off.

Gregory looked at his back.  "Peppermint and I don't mean peppermint flavored liquor either, Pinky."  He smirked at Sam.  "She wants me to illegally marry Prince James."

"He's married," Sam said.

"I know."  They shared a smirk.  "Or Princess Cameron."

"Eww!  I heard she tried a dragon to see what it was like."  Gregory shuddered.  So did Castiel.  "Even if that's just a tavern rumor, gross!  You have taste, unlike her."

"True, I do have taste.  They'll never confirm her."  He strolled off.  "Let me check on our gracious host."

"Let me know if I can help," Sam called after him.

"I will."  He waved.

"Cameron tried to hit on Dad," Dean told his brother.  "Dad walked off shuddering in horror.  Apparently she hadn't heard he was single by choice."

"Clearly not a wise princess since Dad won't even use his hand after he had that extra son."

"She's clearly not wise in many ways to make so many enemies," Castiel said.  Dean and Sam nodded.  "Or Princess Gregory's crown prince."  He went to write his people's ambassador.  They had to know what sort of being she was.  It would endanger many treaties if she was that unstable.


Xander walked in the next morning on Genjo's arm.  He was weak and shaky but a bit better.  "To forestall any rumors," he said plainly to the gathered staff meeting. "Princess Gregory is hereby named as our castle's permanent physician in waiting until he sees fit to leave us."  The people smiled at him.  "He has also been helping with the remnants leftover from when I was poisoned.  For those who wonder, we no longer have treaties with Prince Cuddy.  Her people we would not wish to have suffer but she had better send an envoy as she is not allowed within our boundaries.  If she still resides here, run her off."  Everyone nodded and walked off talking.  Xander sat on his throne, taking his bowl of cereal from Hakkai.  "Thank you.  Can you take my princess and go hunt or something?  He's looking more pissed off than normal."  He ate a bite.

"I can and shall," Hakkai promised.  Genjo glared at him.  "We can go look at that temple you wanted to see."

"I should stay here while he's ill as I wasn't told about any treatments that could've killed him."

Gregory stared at him.  "I was there!  Shit, so was Hakkai.  We made sure your ice princess ass will still have a spouse and you don't have to be a regent for his little girl."

"Sam's my chosen next parent for her," Xander said, looking at his spouse.  "Since I know you do not like children and you cannot and will not be able to teach her much that King Alan hasn't, plus you two have never talked.  Beyond that, she asked."  He smiled.  "You and Sam will co-regent if I die, Genjo.  You doing the daily things and Sam acting to finish her education.  That way you're not too pissed off by all the petty shit that happens from time to time and you don't have to be a stepmommy."

"I don't hate children that much."

"You've never even played with a kid," Gregory said.  "They'd get on your nerves quickly and you have a temper.  Sam...  Does have a temper but if the kid adores him then so be it."

Xander grinned.  "If I'm still alive when she's an adult, she and Sam's firstborn can get together."

Genjo cracked a smile.  "That would require Sam to sleep with someone fertile."

"We do have surrogates," Sam quipped as he walked in with a cup.  He handed it to Genjo.  "Your morning tea."  He grinned.  "Amellisame would drive you nuts with questions.  She's very bright but very much the same sort of smartass her father is.  It'd be like he and Hakkai had a baby."

"By the bards, they've decided you're her mother," Gregory said with an evil smirk.

Sam grinned back.  "If I could have children I'd want them to be like her, but I cannot.  Not even my father's that mean."

"I don't think Dad's that dumb, Sammy," Dean said as he and Castiel walked in together.  "He knows we'd fill the palace with future little hunting princes and princesses."  They shared an evil smirk.

"The evil is getting a bit thick in here.  Don't make me banish it," Genjo said before sipping his tea.

"Evil should always be banished when possible," Castiel said, glaring at Dean.  "Especially before someone curses one of us to fertility."

"Won't happen," Dean said with a wicked smirk. "Things like that only happen to Xander and Sammy."  He got them some coffee from the maid bringing in the pot.  "Thanks."

"Welcome, Prince Dean.  Refill, Sire?"  Xander let her refill his cup and he went back to his breakfast.  "The cook wanted to talk to you both about your choices for the wedding feast.  She knows Princess Castiel's people would want a fabulous creation done in breads."

"We can talk to her in a bit," Castiel agreed.  "Thank you, Marjorie."  She blushed and curtseyed then left them alone once the pot was in the corner.

"I've always liked Marjorie, even though she only blushed when I flirted with her," Xander quipped.

"She is very nice," Genjo agreed, finishing his tea.  "Is he better?" he asked Gregory.

"Still slightly sensitive to being touched but not as badly.  His buildup came back last night so it is linked to that as far as we can tell.  The succuba is a last resort."  He looked at the Winchester clan.  "And I do mean a last resort to weed out that buildup."  They all nodded.  "Though it was nice that it helped.  He was about at the fatal relapse level last night."  Sam shuddered.  "Yours is still high, Sam."

"I'm working on it," he said.

"I know.  You guys can work it out with each other.  Hire a mutual concubine or something."  He smirked.  "Because as you sweat some of the buildup out, the other's body inhales it through the skin and then they need more relief."

"Shit, I used to wear out all three of my concubines and then Sam," Xander said quietly, looking around to make sure they were alone.

Gregory gaped in awe.  "How much were you carrying?"

"Way too damn much," Sam said dryly.  "Because I was too."

"Your father needed shot for doing that to you," Genjo said bluntly.  The boys nodded they agreed.  "What now?  Is he going to have to have another treatment?"

"Yes," Gregory said.  "Two more probably."  They all nodded at that.  Xander finished his breakfast and put the bowl and mug down.  Marjorie came back to gather things, handing the Queen a new mug of tea that was steeping.  He nodded his thanks for it.

"We're going to have to see if the succuba can weed out the taint of a newly poisoned one," Dean decided, looking at Castiel.

"That may help since to survive you have to wear out the need it causes."

"I'll suggest that to the academy," Gregory quipped, walking off.  "Let me fire call James to warn him that she tried that."

Xander looked outside.  "Boys, I'd hide.  That looks like Queen Joyce's banner."   They left for their pursuits.  Goku got the short straw so he had to go meet whoever it was.

Goku waited as the carriage stopped, walking out to it.  "I'm sorry, King Xander and Queen Genjo are both indisposed," he said as politely as he could.  The older woman in there stared down at him.  "I'm one of the Queen's guards."  He grinned.  "They're probably going to be gone most of the day."

"I wanted to talk to King Xander."

"I believe he's in talks with his healer about the after effects of the poisoning he got."

"Oh," she said flatly.  "Is he mad at me?"

"Do you want me to be honest?" Goku asked.  She nodded.  "Yeah.  They went on a fuck that rant the other night about all the poisoning stuff.  They just left for the day.  I believe they were going to make Genjo go look at an ancient temple."

"That's fine.  Is King John here?"

"No, ma'am, and Prince Dean and Princess Sam are both trying to help with King Xander's newest treatment.  Princess Gregory started him on one last night."

"Very well.  Thank you."  She looked up at the driver.  "We'll go visit King Alan."  He nodded and turned them around, taking them off.  She would have to mend that fence quickly.

Goku went back inside to make a note.  He did fire call that palace to warn them she was on her way.  Maybe they could meet her at the border or something.


Xander looked up from his reading in his office when Sam and Genjo walked in, followed by Dean and Castiel.  "The bards have a new story out."

"Is it any good?" Castiel asked.

"I doubt you'd like it, Cas, but it'll make Dean cackle."

"Oh, pornography then."  He sat down.

Dean walked over to read over Xander's shoulder.  "Isn't she a female?"

"Not any longer.  It's apparently a witch's fault."

Dean squeezed his eyes shut.  "I hope it's a fantasy story.  I *really* hope it's a fantasy story."  He sat down.  Xander handed it over so he could read the top paragraph.  "Not even our Dad's that twisted," he complained as he read.

"Yes he is," Sam countered.

Castiel leaned over to read.  "That is very twisted and fairly evil."

Genjo looked, just to see what sort of evil it was he needed to work against.  He nearly blushed but....  He looked at his spouse.  "Why did you get this one?"

"The bard wanted to know what I thought about it.  After the first few lines I told him if John did that to this kingdom, John was going to be begging for mercy in a way that only I could find in my most evil moments.  The bard got gleeful and nearly danced out the door.  He said he'd be back on Saturday to pick it up for my thoughts on the rest of it."

Genjo just nodded.  "I hope it never happens either."  He sat down, banishing the bad thoughts from his mind.  No matter how often they popped back in.  Finally he had to moan and rub his forehead.  "Gojyo being changed," he explained when everyone stared at him.  "I'd have to lock him in a room to keep him from experimenting with it."

"Well, Goku and Hakkai both say they like pretty girls," Xander quipped with a grin for his spouse.

Genjo looked at him.  "Don't make me find my banishing gun for you, Xander."

"Do you really want to hear the weekly bitching about the Farmer's Markets?" Xander countered with an evil grin.

"No.  I can let Sam do that."

"Sorry.  They won't talk to me about any vegetables.  Not since the time I was thirteen and Dean was teasing me about finding me a good cucumber so I could find out what a prince would be doing to me."

"That was at home but even the local ones won't let Sam buy any vegetables," Dean agreed with a grin for the priestly queen.  He looked at Cas.  "Didn't Dad hire a hooker to teach him to like girls?"

"I think so."

"No, Dean hired me a hooker to make sure I knew what girls were like," Sam shot back.  "She wasn't even pretty, Dean.  You taste back then sucked.  She was pitiful at everything.  Thankfully they got better when you met Cas."

Castiel blushed and ducked his head.  "I do not believe that is an issue in our relationship, Samuel."

"Why must it always devolve to sexual talk?" Genjo demanded.

"Because you're the only family in the world that denies itself their needs," Dean said.  "If you gave in once in a while, you might have a happier few days, Genjo."

"I'm perfectly fine without all that," Genjo noted.  They all shrugged.  "We were planning the wedding?"

"Cas's family wants him to do something highly religious, highly sumptuous, and highly bejeweled," Xander said, handing over that missive.  "If not, they'll accept you got stupid with your emotions and let them run you but they'll nag until you renew in front of your own people in that highly religious, sumptuous, and bejeweled manner."

"That is not really our taste," Castiel said.

"No, it's not," Dean agreed.  "I'd look sucky in princess jewels."

Xander handed over the notes.  "Then how about simple clothes to prove that you come to your marriage as men, not as royalty, and therefore it is not about politics but about emotion?"  They smiled and looked that over.  "Still highly religious for you, Cas, but not as bejeweled as your people would like and we can do this in four days before your dad hears, Dean."

Dean nodded, looking at his mate.  Who also nodded and smiled.  "We need to add in the binding our people do," Dean told him.

"We have something similar using a jeweled chain for the members of the family."

"We have something we can use," Xander agreed.  "I've had someone sneak out Dean's official crown.  Cas's got sent to us."  He looked at Sam, who grinned.  Then back at the happy couple.  "It will be in five days."  They nodded.  "The local tailor already has your outfits planned.  The officiant is already readying your prayer session before the formal wedding.  During the feast, you guys will be at the center of the table since it's your wedding.  We'll be off to the left," he told Genjo, who nodded.  "Sam and whoever he's officially inviting will be off to the right."  That got a nod from Sam.  "Everyone else has the tables, then we'll have a dance that night because the next day is an official religious high feast day."  Cas smiled.  "Which does, yes, have fertility overtones.  That's why all the dancing will be going on in the woods for the commoners."

"That works for us," Dean agreed with a grin for Cas.  Who smiled and nodded back.  He looked at Sammy.  "Are you standing up for me?"


"I'll stand up on Cas's side," Genjo said.  Castiel smiled at him for that.  "Xander, who's doing the ceremony?"

"Father Bishop, who is from Cas's kingdom's faith.  There's a temple about two days ride away and I've already sent for him.  He's the Higher there.  The religious portion will be in the chapel here."  Castiel smiled and nodded.  "Good."  He clapped his hands.  "Did you talk to the cook?"  They both nodded.  "Even better.  The next day you'll have quiet because it's a picnic in the woods, feast on your love interest, if you get pregnant out of wedlock no one's going to say much to you about it holiday.  So you guys can lock yourselves in and do the same feasting on each other."

"Thank you," Castiel said.

"There's no bonding ceremony like your people used to do?" Genjo teased with a smirk.

"No.  Fortunately not, or the newer version.  Though we can have them do one that morning."

"No thanks," Dean said.

"Want the older version?" Xander offered.

"I read that book.  Hell no!"

"I read that book too," Genjo said.  "That's one reason why we eloped."

"I'd want to do that too," Sam said.  "Princess Charlie's wedding?"

"We'll have to leave for it the day after theirs," Xander said.  That got a nod.  "We've already made arrangements.  That way Gregory and Tony can both come up with us, Sam."  He looked at his spouse.

"Of course I'm going."

"Okay. I tend to bring food and things to read while on trips," Xander told him.

"I can add to that.  The others?"

"They can follow in the dragon/jeep or they can follow in a carriage.  Tony and Gregory are."

"Good enough," he agreed.  He stood up.  "Let me know what I have to wear."

"Wear your formal robes," Xander said.  "Sam's doing the same thing."  Genjo smiled and nodded, leaving them alone.  He looked at the lovers.  "Go do naughty stuff.  Make sure I have the scroll back tomorrow."

"Sure.  You might mention they have female anatomy wrong," Dean quipped.  "Clearly never seen one up close and personal."  He and Castiel got up to read that scroll in bed.

Xander and Sam shared a look.  "How's the touching thing?" Sam asked quietly.

"Better."  He smiled.  "Not perfect but better."  Sam grinned and they went to subtly have some fun together.  It'd help them both.


Dean walked up before the priest waiting on the steps up to Xander's throne, wearing his leather hunting pants and a new silk shirt, open at the throat to show some chest hair.  Castiel walked up in basically the same outfit.  The watching people sighed in pleasure.  They realized that it meant something.

The priest smiled down at them.  "Do you, Dean Winchester, take this man for your mate?"

"I do.  He is my consort, my mate, and my future."

"Do you, Castiel deAngelica, take this man for your mate?"

"I do.  He is my consort, my mate, and my future."  The priest nodded.  He wrapped the beaded, bejeweled cord around their wrists.  Castiel looked at Dean.  "I pledge our bond is as strong, if not stronger than this cord, and just as binding of us together."

"I pledge that our bond is as strong, if not stronger than this cord, and just as binding of us together."  He grinned.

Castiel looked back at Genjo, who held out something to him.  He stepped up onto the step in front of the throne.  "You are my prince, Dean Winchester."  Everyone in the audience oohed at the formal crown that was Dean's as the crown prince of their kingdom.

Dean took Castiel's from Sam.  "You are my princess and consort."  He stepped up and put Castiel's on his head.  The crowd sighed in pleasure.  It wasn't his family crown, it was Queen Mary's old crown.  Dean took the jacket that Sam was wearing and helped his mate into it.  "My Consort and future Queen."

Castiel smiled and took the formal coat from Genjo, helping Dean into it.  "My Prince and future King."  They put each other's seals on their fingers and then kissed.  The crowd clapped and cheered.

Dean looked out at them.  "We'll have a feast now," he noted.  The audience walked that way.  He smiled at Xander, who winked and headed in there with the rest of the wedding party.  Dean looked at their seals and then handed Castiel the box from his pocket.  "Its only right that you wear this as well."

Castiel smiled at the simple wedding band, sliding it on and putting the seal in front of it.  "Thank you, Dean."

Dean kissed him.  "I know I got a kickass present from you," he teased.

"You do.  Impala's line has sired three foals in the last year.  They're all waiting for you to train them."  Dean moaned and took a deeper kiss.  Castiel smiled.  "Let's eat."

"Yeah, I could use a nibble."  They walked in and everyone cheered.  They took their center stage places and called the banquet to order.

John stomped in during the dessert course, staring at them.  "You should have told me."

"I decided I wanted him no matter what anyone else wanted," Dean said, licking his spoon.  He stood up and walked Cas down to him.  "This is my consort, Castiel."

John knew him fairly well.  He looked him over, noticing the crown, the seals, and the wedding band.  "Fine.  I won't disagree."  Dean grinned.  "Your brother can make the alignment marriage."

"They'll never accept me because of the poisoning, Dad. I might not be fertile," Sam pointed out, putting down his own fork to smile at his father.  "Come celebrate with us?"

"I can do that."  He looked at Castiel.  "You'll do even better than Mary did.  She had a temper and yours is much calmer.  She would've beaten your husband to death for doing this without letting her be there."  He gave Dean a look.  

Dean shrugged.  "This way no one could say anything, Dad."  He led them back to the table.  A chair had appeared next to Sam's, who was dateless anyway.  "You're not fertile?" Dean asked.

"It's generally lowered thanks to that."

"Huh.  Didn't know that."  Xander grinned at them.  He grinned back and went back to their excellent wedding cake.  His father got handed a plate of it.  "Cas and Xander picked it out."

John ate a bite and moaned.  "That's a very good choice, boys."  They grinned and it was nice enough for now.  He looked at them.  "You got married in that outfit?"

"No, the crown and trappings came after the wedding," Castiel said.  John's fork paused and he stared at him.  He nodded.  "I married Dean, not Crown Prince Dean."

John stuffed his mouth then nodded.  "I accept and welcome that decision.  It shows a good bond instead of a political match."  The few princesses in attendance took note of that feeling.  Their parents would probably feel the same way so it might be trendy.  "At least you didn't elope."

"And our people don't have a viewed wedding night," Dean quipped with a wicked smirk for his father.  "Queen Genjo's people have a *book* for the protocol on theirs."

John shuddered.  "I might never have married if we did, son."  He finished his cake and looked at them, staring at his former wife's crown.  "She'd definitely approve."

"John, we leave tomorrow for Princess Charlie's wedding," Xander said.  "Are you coming with us?"

"I can," he agreed.  "Thank you, Xander."

"Welcome."  He smiled at his mate.  "We're taking the bigger carriage," he said quietly.  "It has seats large enough to sleep comfortably on."

"Just us?"

"Unless you want to pack your friends into it with us," he agreed.  "Sam, Tony, and Gregory are going in the one we took to the battle.  Dean and Castiel have theirs from Cas's people.  Yours were going to go in the jeep or in the last carriage with the guard right behind them.  We'll have two outriders in front."

Genjo nodded.  "They'll accept that.  It means they won't be bored watching us nap."

Xander smiled.  "I visited the bards' corner at the market and got a lot of new scrolls and books.  Both research ones and fantasy ones so you'll have something to read."

"That's something I hadn't thought of.  Thank you."  Xander smiled and nodded, patting him on the hand.  Apparently the touching thing was better if Xander initiated the touch instead of being touched.  "Smokes?"

"Yes.  I included three packs for the week-long trip."  Genjo nodded that might be enough with sleep times.  "The guys have another case you can grab if you need it."  Genjo smiled.  "I also included some non-alcoholic drinks."

"I can handle that."

"Good."  He smiled.  "I also included two berry tortes so we can nibble on them.  We can leave overnight to travel asleep."

"That'll be handy."  Xander nodded and patted him again then they went back to eating.  Xander did slip John that scroll but Genjo walked the other way when he saw it.

John looked at it.  Then at Xander.  "What's that?"

"A new bard's first fantasy story.  We all enjoyed it for the last few days."  The wedding party broke up so everyone could prepare for the ball that night.  Unfortunately nobility didn't get to go romp in the forest for fertility rites.  Which was a pity really.  It'd be a lot more fun.

John got shown up to his room and settled in to rest and read.  By the end of the first turn of the scroll he was growling.  He would never cast a curse that would turn one of his sons into a daughter.  He'd never be able to make them stay chaste!  He'd swat Xander for that later.


During the ball, Genjo walked out onto the balcony that overlooked the town, finding Xander leaning on the railing watching the happy couples head for the woods to start the revel at midnight.  "I've never done that," Genjo admitted.

Xander grinned at him.  "I did a few times until one of the guards caught me and reminded me I'm not one of them."  He stood up.  "They're always happy and sated."

Genjo nodded.  "I don't even think my people have a holiday like a revel."

"We can go if you want."

"No.  I'd hate to interrupt."

"Okay."  Xander grinned.  "Is the stuffiness getting to everyone?"  Genjo nodded.  "The bards are about to change to one from up by the academy."  They heard the new song start and it was a lot more lively.  He held out a hand.  "Dance?"

"I suck at it."

"Me too.  I totally suck at most dancing.  I have very little rhythm.  The point is to enjoy what little you can do of it."


Xander took his hand and led him inside, leading him to the dance floor.  It was a lot more lively than a waltz but not as lively as some of the commoner's dances during revels.  Genjo did find that he had rhythm and that it was slightly fun.  Which confused him but he'd think on it later.  The clock struck midnight during the dance and Xander beamed.  "Happy Luna Festival, everyone."

"Happy Luna Festival," everyone repeated back.  The happiness got happier and the dances got looser and more fun as the night wore on.  All the stuffy sorts had went to bed shortly after midnight.  Xander was out there dancing around with half of everyone.  Genjo got pulled into a few of them, which he didn't understand but it was fun enough.  Very breath stealing during the dancing.  Xander was being wildly swung about by one of the local nobles and then Xander was swinging her about.  The happy couple of Dean and Cas were almost wild as well.  Finally the mood broke and the happy couple fled to their rooms.  The party broke up and Xander stayed up to wish each one a happy evening and festival day.  Finally they were alone.  

Xander looked at Genjo and his crew.  Then at Sam and Tony, who were still awake.  Gregory was looking a mite grumpy.  "I say we go berry picking."  Sam's face lit up.  So did Tony's.

Gregory shook his head.  "Count me out.  I'm exhausted and I'll trip."

"Gojyo?  Hakkai, Goku?"

"Goku's a bit young," Hakkai admitted, looking at Gojyo, who shrugged and smiled.  "We can go though."

"I'm not that young," Goku said.

"Yes you are," Genjo ordered.

"Fine."  He trudged out after getting a snack to take to bed.

"Be safe, boys," Genjo said.  They grinned, gathered baskets, and went to pick berries, herbs, and night flowers.  Genjo went to bathe off the sweat and go to sleep.  Tomorrow was going to be a bit long with the packing for the wedding at King Alan's castle and the trip there and back.  He laid down and went to sleep, waking up to something odd feeling on his head.  He looked up at the flower crown, pulling it down to look at it.  It had a small note tucked in the vines that held the flowers.  //It's traditional for the King to gift his Queen with a flower wreathe tonight to show that they're one with the celebration and the happiness.  Wear it to breakfast.//  Genjo got up to dress, carefully laying the wreathe back over his blond hair.  He left, going out to there.  Sam was wearing one, which got a raised eyebrow.  So were Tony and Gregory.

Sam grinned and handed down the pot of water and the tea bags.  "Each princess in the kingdom gets a flower crown from either their intended this night or from one of the guards.  I got mine from Gojyo, Tony from Hakkai, and one of the guards did Gregory's."

"That's a charming custom."  He sat down and fixed his tea.  "Our king?"

"Bathing, he's just now back," Gojyo said as he walked in.  He smiled at the crown.  "The tiny blue flowers in there will open back up tonight.  He said it's tradition that you plant the crown to see what grows."

"We'll be leaving tonight."

"We can plant it by the back door and let someone water it until we get back," Hakkai said with a smile.  "The blue flowers looked like miniature wild Eternity Flowers."

"Huh."  He smiled at Xander when he walked in.  "There's no male crown?"

"No.  Not usually."  He sat down.  Genjo was staring at him.  "It's too late to pick the flowers anyway."  Genjo nodded, filing that way for later reference.  "Did they tell you about planting it?"

"He did."

"I'll send a pot out.  We have some for each of yours."  They smiled and nodded.  "History says if they're given by a lover, if they grow it's a good omen for the relationship and feelings between you."  Everyone smiled and they dug into breakfast.  Xander's assistant came in to give him the list of who was showing up today.  "Is John going to take the time to complain I threw the wedding?"

"No, sire.  He's still in bed."

"Okay.  Thank you."  He handed back the list and the assistant joined them to dig in.  It was nice.  Very calm.

Dean and Castiel walked in.  Dean paused.  "Sammy, who gave you the crown?"

"Gojyo knew I wasn't going to get it traditionally so he filled in."  He sipped his coffee.

Dean grinned and nodded.  "Good.  I'd hate to have to beat him to make sure he was a proper husband for you."  He and Cas sat down in their usual seats to dish out food and eat.  John walked in and paused, staring.  "It's a fill-in, Dad."

"I wouldn't care if it wasn't," he admitted.  "I'd just like to know who."  Sam pointed.  "Thank you for thinking of him, Gojyo."

"Welcome."  He stuffed his mouth before he put his foot into it by saying something stupid.

John looked at his oldest son and his son's wife.  "When are you two doing the markings?"

"We're not sure since Cas's family is opposed to them," Dean said simply.  "They consider them voodoo and black magic."

John grimaced.  "I'll talk to them at Charlie's wedding."  Cas smiled and nodded.  "They didn't come?"

"We sent word it was not going to be a high festival wedding so they said they'd expect them to hold an anniversary renewal in their style in about ten years," Xander said with a smile.  "Hopefully with a flower child heir."

"We'll see," Dean quipped.  Castiel looked at him.  "Throat sore?" he teased.

Castiel nodded, sipping his juice.  He couldn't talk.  Dean had abused him horribly last night and made him scream, squeal, and nearly faint.  His voice sounded worse than a chorus of tone-deaf frogs.

John smiled.  "Mary didn't say a word for a week," he shared with his new son-in-law.  "Couldn't say a word for a week.  Her mother was worried about that when she suddenly popped in for a visit two days after the wedding."

"Speaking of, we're moving to the cabin up in the mountains," Dean noted.

"That's fine," John agreed.  "It's private but not too private and you can come help if something happens."  They nodded and grinned, relaxing some.  "I remember my newlywed year.  Your mother and I moved to the border tower to get away from her family."  Dean snickered, shaking his head.  "Send notes or call every week, boys."  They nodded.

Xander kept his mouth shut about not remembering a lot of his newlywed year.  It wasn't anyone here's fault, even if he was still bitter about it.  "Queen Joyce tried to show up here."

"I heard," John admitted.  "She was casually wanting to fix the break."  Xander shook his head.  "Did you talk to her?"

"No.  I walked off to spend a day hunting.  It was our rest day anyway."  He stared at him.  "Goku got the picking straw."

"I told her you were off doing something.  When she asked if you were upset with her I checked to make sure she wanted me to be blunt then I was and told her yes."  He stuffed his mouth.

"I'm usually forcefully blunt," John said.  "That flowery obscure courtier language annoys me and hides issues."

"Was she possessed?" Sam asked.  Dean shook his head.  "Huh.  Then I'm not doing anything with her people.  Buffy may be slightly nice but no."

Tony shook his head.  "We bluntly cut ties with them."  He sipped his coffee and went back to breakfast.  "Cook, you did an excellent job after all the work last night."

"The feast was amazing," Xander agreed, smiling at her.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Sire and Princess.  The rest of you eat up and go play.  I've got to fix some traveling rations."  They nodded and went to enjoy the festival market in town or read in the library, as they were wont to do.

John stopped Dean in the hallway.  "How did you get your mother's crown?  It was in the solarium under glass."

"Proctor sent it."  He smiled.  "He said Cas would need it."

"He was right."  He ruffled Dean's hair.  "Get a trim, Dean.  You look like a girl."  He walked off happier.  Dean was sneaky enough and good enough to take his place if something happened.  Sam...  He'd work on finding him a spouse of his own.  There were only so many good ones to go around and now that Xander was off the market there were very few that equaled his younger son's needs.

He still wished Xander had taken him up on his offer of having Sam instead of Genjo.  Genjo Sanzo was nice, when he wanted to be, but Xander needed someone more affectionate and loving.


Princess Charlie met them at the gateway to his castle, looking frantic.  "Where have you been?" he demanded, shaking Gregory.  "Cuddy said you weren't coming, you were banished.  I told her that might ruin my wedding and she snorted and called me weak.  What's going on?"

"Cuddy's trying to push her luck," Gregory said.  "C'mon, let's be less frantic inside, Charles."  He and Genjo led the slightly younger princess inside to calm him down.  There were only two days before the wedding and clearly something had happened.  Gregory was almost stopped but Alan put his foot down and banished the idiot from the castle until the wedding.

Xander smiled at Alan, shaking his hand.  "We made good time or we would've been here in the morning."

"Thank you for coming.  Charlie was nearly frantic about Gregory since he was his early mentor."

"Cuddy's being a bitch to him.  She's trying to enforce rules she can't as the crown prince."

"I heard.  I made my opinion known."  They shared a smirk.  He shook John's hand.  "John.  Dean and Castiel.  I'm sorry I couldn't attend but I had to be here to fix problems."

"It's cool," Dean said, shaking his hand with a smile.  "We loved the matching bookcases."

"Wonderful."  He led them inside.  They were assigned rooms.  Alan looked at Genjo.  "All we have are two bedroom suites," he said quietly.  "I know that means it's going to be awkward."

"We'll handle it.  Thank you," Genjo said quietly.

"It's not a problem.  If you had been here a month ago you could've taken the one my cousins shamelessly stole."  They shared a smile.  "Amellisame?" he called, catching sight of her dress up the hallway.  She squealed as she ran out.  Xander caught her to hug her.  "She's been an excellent and good girl, Xander."

"Thank you, Alan."  He cuddled her.  "Are you having fun up here?"

"I am.  I'm learning a whole lot from Uncle Charlie and Uncle Don."  She wiggled so he put her down.  "I can't be wrinkled.  The official painter is coming today."  Xander helped her straighten herself out and she bounded off.  "I'll see you after dinner, after the painter is done."

"Okay."  He grinned at Alan.  "Thank you."

"She's charming and making Don and Charlie want kids," he said with a smile.  "My boys were little hellions at her age.  I've never had to tell her to quit playing around with rocks and a crossbow from the top of the castle."  Xander snickered.  "Let's get you guys up to your rooms to freshen up."  He led them up there talking about the lands between their kingdoms.  It was nice.  Charlie was slowly calming down.  When he heard Cuddy start to yell, Alan went to kick her out of the castle too.  He'd had enough of her.  How her people would thrive with a wench like her in command he wasn't sure.


Cuddy caught Xander in the market looking at herbs.  "Still sick?" she sneered.

He looked at her.  "Considering I was poisoned by a bitch of a princess who thought that it would counteract the one that John sent at my family when I was younger, and underage, very slightly.  Then again, I was in a fever coma for over two months."  She flinched.  "So yeah, I'm mostly better.  Not fully better, but mostly."  He smiled.  "Gregory was instrumental in figuring out what the remaining problems were and curing them for me."  He heard a shout and looked.  "Oh, fuck.  Rory's people," he noted.  The stall keeper ran off to get a guard.  "If you're not worthless, I'll expect you to get people out of the way," he sneered.

"Boy, I'm going to kill you for taking out your father!" the warlord Rory shouted.

"He's not dead yet.  It's up to him when he dies.  He has a dagger there and can use it.  He hasn't so apparently his punishment suits him."  Rory glared and moved closer.  Xander stood his ground.  "Damn!  How much liquor did you inhale this time?" Xander sneered.  Rory took a swing at him and Xander stabbed him in the chest.  "Sorry, didn't mean to kill you without warning."  He looked over as Rory's body fell.  The guard unit with him looked nervous.  

"I'd.  Leave."  They ran.  "And don't come back to the Joined Kingdoms unless you want me to kill your dumb asses too!  Your army is disbanded!"  Guards rushed down.  Xander stepped over the body, wiping at his shirt.  "Now I need a bath.  He was disgusting and dirty, not to mention sweaty."  He grimaced, spying a clothing stall.  "Perfect."  He went to buy one and came back to the herb seller's stall to pick up what he needed.  

Cuddy was still standing there, gaping mouth making squeaky noises.  He looked at her.  "That's what being a king under attack means," Xander said bluntly.  "Protecting what is yours even if there's no honorable warning or ethical, honorable single combat."  He walked around her.  "I hope your people have a better choice in mind."

"Xander," Don called, catching up to him.  He looked at the body.  "Dead?" he asked the head guard.

"Yes, Prince Don."

"Then burn the body before it infects someone with sad desires about conquering princesses that can kill him."  They nodded, dragging the body off to the prison yard so they could burn him.  "Xander, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Don.  Why wouldn't I be fine?"  He smiled.  "He tried to get into my face.  He lost.  Pity."

Don smiled and patted him on the arm.  "The laundry should be able to get any blood stains off your shirt."

"I'm more worried about the stank, rank sweat and liquor he had on."  He shrugged, letting Don lead him to the laundry then back to the castle.  Cuddy was silent and still in the market nursing a beer at the tavern when they walked past it.  "I had to tell her before what a real king was," he said quietly.

"So have I and Dad."  They shared a grin and went inside.  Don walked him into the throne room.  "The Warlord Rory deMal is no more," he announced.  "He attacked King Xander in the marketplace and King Xander defeated him before the drunken bastard choked on him or something."  The room cheered.  "He ordered their army disbanded so let anybody from up that way know so they can tell their people."  The pages and courtiers went to do that.  Don took Xander to the kitchen for a treat.  The kid looked tired.  "Still sick?"

"Not much.  Tiny bit.  Long trip mostly.  Genjo snores."  Don grinned at him.

Alan walked in and patted Xander on the back.  "Thank you."  Xander grinned.  "Good job, Xander."  He left them to nibble on pastries.

Gregory leaned into the kitchen.  "Should I coo 'my hero' and faint into your arms or offer up my virginity for that service since the disgusting pig wanted my ass?"

Xander smirked at him.  "You mean you're a chaste princess?  I never would've thought that, Gregory.  The bards were clearly wrong about you."  He grinned and ate a bite of pastry.

"Asshole," Gregory said but he was laughing.  "Nice one, kid."  He walked off.  Don was laughing and shaking his head too.  

Xander got another pastry and went up to his room to see how it was laid out.  He found everyone in the living room.  "How're we doing beds?"

"You two can sleep together," Goku said.  "There's only two beds and no one can sleep on this couch with how slippery and tilted it is.  We can barely sit on it."

"I can do that," Xander agreed, looking at his spouse, who shrugged and nodded.  "Cool.  By the way, Rory's dead."  He headed for their private baths.  Charlie had recently devised a way for there to be warm water all over the castle.  Xander was having him fix theirs next if it was as nice as his daughter said it was.

"Why is he dead?" Gojyo called after him, tipping his head that direction.

"Because he got stank, liquory sweat on me when he came to sneer at me," Xander said, leaning out of the bathroom without a shirt on.  They all stared at the few scars he had prominently on his chest.  He looked down then at them.  "Assassination attempts."  He went back to drawing his bath.  It was really handy and no having to take time to warm the water.

Genjo shook his thoughts free.  "That explains why he had a new shirt."  He got back to their card game.  The others stared at him oddly but he could ignore that too.


Goku was the first up the next morning.  He paused in the living room, finding Xander on that slippery, tiny couch.  "Xander, why are you out here?" he asked quietly.

"His snoring got to me," he muttered.  "Go away."

"Sure."  He skipped out before he irritated Xander enough to wake him up.  If he was anything like Genjo or Gojyo, he didn't want to see him before coffee.

Genjo came out of their shared room in only his pants.  He stared at his spouse. "What?"

"Your snoring annoyed me," Xander mumbled into his pillow.

"I'm not the only one that snores," he countered.

Xander lifted up his head and cracked his eyes open.  "I figured if yours was annoying me, mine was probably annoying you so I did the husbandly thing and came out here so you could rest."

"The husband...  Excuse me?"

Xander blinked at him.  "It is the chivalrous thing to do, giving the wife the comfier sleeping spot while you take the more protective one."

"Why are you the husband?"

"Because I'm the king and you're the princess?  Which bites for princesses I know.  It did when I was one.  That's why I'm always very careful about such things.  That and because your family hates me for some reason."  He put his head back down.

"Why is there a body tied up in here?" Hakkai demanded.

"My adoring brother-in-law sent him.  Which is why I only knocked him out so you guys can question him," Xander said into the couch.

"Your brother...."  Genjo stomped in there.  Someone yelled.

Xander lifted his head up then moaned and got up.  "Let me get cleaned up so we can attend breakfast."  He wandered into the bathroom.

The three members of the team looked at each other then Genjo got down to torture the would-be assassin for information.  He wanted to know what his brother had done this time.

Hakkai walked out to stop Xander before he could leave.  "He doesn't mind doing some of the more male-oriented roles," he said quietly.  "It's going to piss him off if you treat him like a female princess."

"I don't treat him like he's a girl, Hakkai.  I treat him as befitting his station as my consort.  It's my job, as the king, to protect my consort."  He shrugged and put his hands in his pants pocket.  "That's all that is.  Protocol and chivalrous rules dictate a lot of that.  Even if we had one of those wildly passionate and fucking relationships I'd still be doing the same thing."  He walked around him.  "I'll tell any guards coming this way to give you guys about ten minutes with him."

"Thank you."  He went back in there.  "He gave up the bed?"

"He claims I snore," Genjo said blandly.

"Yeah, you do," Gojyo agreed.  Someone knocked and he went to get it.  "We're questioning him about why he broke in here."

"That's fine," the guard agreed with a smile.  He let the maid put down the tea service.  "We'll take him when you're ready, sir."

"Thanks."  Genjo came out to get tea and went back in there to finish his questioning period.


Genjo walked up to his brother and mother.  "Since when is it appropriate to wonder about how much fucking I get in our relationship?" he demanded.  "We all know it's a political one.  Did you expect him to bed me against my will?"

His mother gasped.  "Do not say such things," she ordered.

"I wouldn't if my brother hadn't sent an assassin to our rooms last night."

"It is clear that your marriage will not be fruitful," he sneered.

"Actually, he had his daughter after he was first dosed.  I already have a stepdaughter."  His brother looked horrified and backed off.   Genjo pulled his banishing gun.  "You may not be a demon but it will still kill you."  His brother ran.   "Good!  You dishonor all the family!"  He looked at his mother.  "Are you in agreement with him?"

"No.  It is right that we in political marriages do not fornicate grandly every night with our spouses unless it is to breed an heir," she said bluntly.  She tipped her chin up.  "You living in your own house is more than suitable and he is very proper towards you from what I've been told by the ones who tell us things."

"I knew you had a spy in the guards, Mother."

She smiled and pinched his cheek.  "Where is my granddaughter?"

"She's fostering here because people may want to kill Xander."  She beamed.  "Amellisame is his, yes.  She's also asked that Princess Samuel be her regent if she must because we haven't done more than meet once or twice.  Which does not offend me any.  She's known him most of her life probably."

"That is wise of your spouse.  Where is he?"

"Prince Don is running a workout for the various princes and kings.  He's there."  He walked off.  "I'll see you at tea, Mother.  Once you fix the abomination that is my sibling."

"I shall."  She went to find that son.  She had to instruct him in how to honorably end his life.  After the wedding of course so they didn't create a spectacle that would overshadow it.

Genjo went to watch the practice.  Gojyo and Goku were roped into helping apparently.  Hakkai was off to the side in case they needed him.  The various princes were having a brawl while Xander and John snarked about it.  Genjo sat beside Tony and Gregory.   "Who's winning?"

"John on critiquing," Gregory said.

"Xander on letting them get it out of their system."  They watched as Xander threw one of his wind and fire wheels at the group, making them part with a yelp.  Ian, the groom-to-be, laughed.  Xander strolled over and challenged them to fight the actual people who could fight.  He'd take it easy on them.  They attacked him and John, which meant that the brawl was more even toward Xander and John - most of the princes were pathetic - and a few of the older princes who had battle experience.  Ian, interestingly enough, was the one that got John down.  John smiled at him and shook his hand for the good job.  Xander and Don ended up battling against each other after taking out the others.  Xander barely won.

Ian smiled at them.  "I'd offer to take on the winner but I have to look pretty tomorrow and Charlie will fuss himself to death over any bruises."  They laughed and agreed, heading inside.  

"Don't worry, kids.  You can show us how princes dance tomorrow night," Xander quipped with a grin back at them.  "I know the princess academy was very big on teaching how to dance too."  They shut the door and the princes decided to go drinking to salve the defeat.

Genjo looked at Tony and Gregory.  "Are any of them fit for you two?"

Tony shook his head.  "No."

"Not really my type," Gregory agreed.  "I'm not the giggly princess sort and that's what those type of princes want.  Though, Don was pretty damn hot."

Charlie flopped down next to him.  "He's been fighting off every princess known to mankind," he complained.  "Plus a few queens, some queen mother's and fathers, and a few widowed kings.  It's driving dad nuts."

"We've all been hanging out at Xander's," Tony admitted.  "He's very liberal.  Though he hates drunken behavior.  We pretty well get into whatever we want.  I've been taking more defense lessons with the guards."

"I've been getting into the history of poisons that his father used and what had been given to Xander since he's a master of having the right antidote at the right moment."

"Xander was poisoned our first official day at the princess academy," Tony said.  "The headmistress denied him permission to go get an antidote from his room."

"She still hates Xander," Genjo admitted.  "Called him a barbarian recently.  Said that barbarian was sullying me.  I sent back the nastiest note I could that was still politely formal."  Tony and Gregory laughed.

"I didn't invite her to my wedding but she sent a letter turning down my invitation because I was marrying beneath my station," Charlie said.  "I politely said we'd miss having her drill the people dancing who were having fun instead of doing it correctly."  Gregory kept snickering.  "Dad sent her a strongly worded missive that none of the princesses in the family would be coming anywhere near her academy anyway since it had so little in the way of *real* education.  I was *so* bored and I hated the clothes."

"I refused to wear tights," Tony said.  "Told her it meant I wasn't representing my people."

"She said something about my robes once but I pointed out that being me meant that I had a religious obligation and the robes were part of it."  Genjo shifted.  "Why did Xander have three parallel scars on his chest?  I've never heard that story."

"You'd probably have to ask someone who's known him longer," Charlie said.  "I only heard of him before our first class together."

Tony nodded.  "Me too.  I only met him at the academy that first day.  I had rumors but nothing more than that."

"Before my time so I'd only heard of him too," Gregory admitted.

"You can do what he does and ask a bard," Tony offered.  He heard a squeal and looked around.  "I think my mother's here.  Excuse me, guys."  He left them to talk.

"I asked Sam and he just walked off shaking his head," Genjo told Gregory.

"Have you tried asking John?"

"John was within hearing distance but he looked clueless," Genjo said.  "Dean didn't seem to know either since they were together."

"Then ask a bard," Charlie agreed.  "They seem to hear all the good gossip."  He got up.  "I've got to make sure the cook doesn't try to poison the people she doesn't like again."  He left them alone.

Gregory looked at Genjo.  "Usually you wouldn't care about scars.  So what gives?"

"I'm not sure.  I feel.... guilty maybe.  That he's never going to be happy because of the shit I bring into his life.  Like last night, he considered it acceptable to take the couch because of my snoring instead of making me take it."

"That is how the book goes," Gregory said dryly.

"I'm not that sort of princess to quote him at the academy."

Gregory smiled.  "But you're starting to like him.  Before it was stiffly formal probably. Now you're getting to know the man as a husband, even if you're not enjoying anything husbandly from him."  He stood up, balancing with his cane.  "Up to you if you stay an uptight monk-like princess or not, Genjo.  No one said you had to deny everything for your spouse."

Genjo looked at him.  "Even if that were true, my tastes ...  Well, that would be awkward."

"You're just more used to those two and Goku being around and curious.  If you give Xander a shot he'd probably make you enjoy it.  Most of us don't have the ones we fooled around with as we grew up unless we're like Dean and keep going back to the wellspring of youthful lust."  He left him alone to think.

Genjo did think.  He was starting to treat Xander like he did Gojyo, only a bit more formal, like he had when they had first teamed up together.  Maybe this was all his doing after all.  He got up and went to find a bard.  There had to be at least one by the castle to record the wedding for later stories.  He found a bard's scroll stand and looked at it.  "My husband has scars on his chest that he will not explain to me.  Do you know what happened?"

The bard looked at him.  "Aye, sire.  A few of us know a lot more than we think."  He smiled and handed him a scroll.  "Two pence."  Genjo scowled but paid.  "That's a pretty accurate history.  Not much embellishment at all.  Can't really embellish that really."

Genjo nodded, taking it to read in the garden.  It was quiet out there so he'd have some time to think on what he read.  When he got to why he had the scars he stiffened.  He had no idea that his spouse had taken on a dragon by himself.  He got up to find him, taking him out of the room he was chatting with other leaders in.  They just gave them fond looks as newlyweds.  "Dragon?"


"The scars.  A dragon."

Xander snorted.  "It's not as fantastic as it seems, Genjo.  Now and then the kingdom gets a dragon that tries to nest there.  My father was too drunk to go run it off.  The guards didn't want to do it even when ordered so I pulled up the big boy panties and did what my brother should have.  He was off helping my father be a drunken shithead that week.  Yeah, I got a bit scratched but nothing too major."

"Then the three parallel scars aren't from that?"

Xander grimaced and shook his head.  "No, they're not."

"You said an assassination attempt."

"It was."


"No.  The unit that was sent to kill me before I made them all friendly."  Genjo gaped, looking horrified. "I was almost legal I guess, few weeks before.  It happens when your father's a warlord instead of a prince.  They have very odd ideas about appropriate behavior.  Especially when drunk and their mistress praises me for being the better son."

"So they were going to kill you?"

"Yeah.  A few tried really hard.  A few actually liked me but they had orders and would've been killed if they didn't.  We fought pretty well.  We were all getting tired.  I decided to put forward an idea.  It was just after I was dosed but yeah, that was basically how I learned what military guys did in their tents at night to keep my ass unkilled."  He stared at him.  "All you have to do is ask," he said quietly.  "I know you're not a fainting flower sort so if you ask about some of the bad things I might tell you honestly."  Genjo held up the scroll.  Xander squinted at the title.  "Not a bad history report.  Bit scarce.  Bit wrong in places.  Overall not bad."  He looked at him.

"How are you....  You managed to not hate people for that?"

Xander sighed as he shifted so he was leaning against the wall.  "That was about a month after I was dosed, Genjo.  I had a bad buildup in those days.  I barely made it out of bed a few times.  It was seriously looking like I was going to relapse because no one told me I'd have to keep wearing it out.  That's actually how I found out.  One of them realized it when he tasted my sweat.  He got the other guys to agree to it."  He shrugged.  "Then he told Sam.  Apparently his brother had been dosed by his girlfriend who hated him."

"How many?"


"Are they still around?"

"Two of them are in my personal guards.  I know they won't try ever again.  Even if paid. I also know that if something happens they know what to do to cure me if I go into a relapse.  They hate Sam like hell and John even worse.  The six of them will never protect Sam or John.  They realize that I was young and they had to do it to follow orders.  My father probably had someone of theirs hostage.  Two of them probably tried it for fun and to climb up the ladder."

"Most people would never let anyone touch them again," Genjo said quietly, glancing around.

Xander shrugged.  "And some of us move on.  I'll never forget or forgive, but I managed.  Now I manage to have gotten over any lingering problems that and other things have left.  It's a weakness and you're not allowed to have exploitable weaknesses in a warlord's house.  They get used against you," he said simply.

"That touch thing?"

"There's been three assassination attempts by someone trying to incapacitate me by hitting me so they could bind me.  They lost.  I've been tough for a very long time."  He smiled and stroked his worried spouse's cheek, getting it pulled away.  "Thankfully I'm not a warlord.  No matter who thinks I might turn into one, I'm not.  I'm more military trained than the average king but I'm not a warlord."  He walked around him.  "Come talk to your mother?  She was nagging about children and I'm not introducing her to Amellisame until your brother's gone."

"I can do that."  He followed, going to talk to his mother.  They would be talking later.  Xander was reminding him more and more of Gojyo by the hour.


Xander looked up as someone walked up to where he was enjoying the nighttime air.  "Yes?" he asked, staying polite.  He had no idea who this was.

"How do you stand it when your spouse is in love with others?"

Xander looked at her.  "As far as I know there's nothing between them but friendship, ma'am.  If there is then there is.  Political marriages aren't fairy tales and you have out of them what you make of them."  She grimaced but stomped off.  He went back to enjoying the stars.  He hated trouble makers.  He really did.  Someone else joined him but they felt familiar.  "I take it you saw the wench?"

"Yup," Gojyo said, lighting up a cigarette.  "Bitch was wrong.  He doesn't touch us either, Xander."

Xander looked at him.  "What makes you think that would bother me?  I know we don't have a love match.  All I ask from it is respect, which I get."  He walked off.  "Tell him to quit being so pissy too.  Alan asked if he had PMS."

"I can do that."  He relaxed.  At least Xander wasn't huffy about that sort of thing.  He would've been.

Xander walked into the suite and stared at his mate, who was napping on the couch.  "What are you doing?"

"It's my turn to sleep out here," Genjo said.

Xander snorted.  "That's my job, not yours."

"I don't follow stupid rules and neither do you, Xander.  Go take the bed.  You need to look well rested during the wedding.  If I don't, they'll just think you kept me up."

"We can share," he offered.

"No thank you.  You cuddle."

Xander hauled him up and carried him in there then dumped him on the bed.  "If anyone found out I'd have my ass kicked."  He went back to the couch, ignoring all the pissed off noises his wife was making.  He laid down and let himself drift off into a dose.  He never fully slept unless it was someone he trusted implicitly next to him.  Which there wasn't anymore.  John had told him that he was setting up Sam's marriage alliance now.  That it'd be done within the next few weeks.  With Buffy of all people.  So, nope, no more snuggly sleeping ever again.


Sam looked at his father with cold hatred.  "No, I won't."  John opened his mouth.  "Excuse me, but her mother was partially responsible for the two month *coma* Xander was in.  Hell no I'm not marrying her!"

"You will.  She's asked for forgiveness."

"Since when has that mattered to you?" Sam shot back.  "Hell, you never forgive anyone, even yourself.  No.  You want it that badly, use the spare son."  He walked off.

"You will, Samuel, or I'll remove you."

"That's fine.  I'm sure I can do something easily enough.  Not like I haven't been offered the chance to go to multiple academies."  He waved as he walked off.   He ran into Don in the gardens.  "Sorry to intrude."

"No, don't be.  Sometimes duty sucks."

"Did my father set up a bad marriage for you too?"

"No, not really.  Although Jethro would like it if I took in Tony."

"You two do work in similar thought processes and have a lot of the same mannerisms."

"Who is he trying to set you up with?"


Don looked at him.  "Just because she can fight...." he said quietly, glancing around.

Sam shook his head.  "Apparently he's forgiven her for Xander."

"Hell no," Don muttered.

"I've got to talk to Xander."

"He's on the couch in his suite."

Sam nodded, heading up there.  Don shook his head.  He decided to go talk to Tony about things.  Alan wouldn't make him marry anyone he would have a cold, impersonal relationship with.  He wouldn't be trapped like Xander was.


Xander walked out the next morning and took a swing at John, knocking him into a wall.  "You're not my father," he said bluntly.  "You're not any relation of mine.  You have no right to accept an apology on my behalf."  John looked startled.  "We may be friends.  I may like your sons, but I'm still awfully fucking pissed at you about why I like your sons.  For that matter, you have no right or reason to interfere with how I run my kingdom.  Or who I hate like hell among the other leaders, John.  

"I've made it very clear I'm not forgiving her for the two months I spent in a coma thanks to her and the brainless thing.  If you want to forgive them for spending two months helping the healers fix me, then you go right ahead.  For that matter, your son has to forgive her for inconveniencing him for two months of being my regent and helping take care of me.  As does Dean."  He stared at him.  "I don't give a *fuck* what you want but you do not make decisions for my people or me.  If you want to do things for your family, go for it.  Though I think you've made a serious mistake with this one."  He walked off.  "Sorry to cause a scene, Alan.  Had to make my feelings known since *someone* decided to accept an apology for me."

"I'd be mad too," he agreed phlegmatically.  He looked at John.  "I probably would've killed someone for poisoning my son."  He gave him a pointed look that said he knew about the earlier one.

John stomped off in another direction.  He had to talk to his son.  Apparently Sam had gotten some support.  "You still have to marry her if I say so."

"That's fine.  She can live in another part of the other castle while I travel," Sam said bluntly.  "I'll do my political duty and nothing else."

"You'll have an heir."

Sam snorted.  "Unlike Xander I am infertile thanks to that poisoning you gave me, Father.  And the curse that went with it made sure."  John glared.  "If not, I probably would've had one in the last year or so that I've been fooling around."  He sipped his coffee.  "Even then, I'll still travel.  She can sit at home and be a good prince."  He walked off.  "Maybe I'll go learn from the Sanzo's.  Dean says I could use the good, calming meditation that Cas learned from them."  He took another drink of his coffee.

John glared.  "You'll do as I say, son."

"I said I would."  He looked back at him.  "But you're not the Merciful Goddess either and I'm still infertile.  So therefore her line can die off too."  He smiled.  "Until Dean uses a surrogate with Cas."  He finished his stroll off.

John started to mutter swears, going out into the garden so he wouldn't disturb anyone before the wedding.


Sam looked at Queen Joyce at the banquet that night.  They had been seated together.  "I hear my father has forgiven you on *his* behalf."  She flinched. "I'm told it's my duty to marry your daughter.  I can guarantee she'll be perfectly safe while I'm at the academy and she's living at her castle."  He ate a bite of the roast pig they were having.  He looked at Cas.  "Dean mentioned that you studied with Genjo's family.  Did you enjoy it?"

"Not a lot," he admitted.  "I found the calming techniques useful and I find it does help when I have to hunt."  He gave him a pitying look.

"I'll have to consider that.  That might go before the academy then.  The healers and a few others have offered for me to come study with them."

Castiel smiled.  "You are quite bright, Sam.  You should study more.  Like the newly married princess, your brain should not be wasted."

"Thankfully Ian wants to travel with Charlie when he goes to the engineering academy to study math."  They smiled at the new bride, who was babbling about something to Amellisame.  "I've got to talk to her later.  She's going to be so upset since she looks up to Charlie so much."

Queen Joyce cleared her throat.  "You're close to Xander's heir?"

"Yes, I am.  I'm the only one who knew for almost her first full two years.  I've always been an uncle to her."  He caught her eye and smiled.  She grinned back and waved.  Alan said something so she replied and he smiled at Sam.  Sam grinned back at him and waved a bit then ate another bite.  "If something happens to Xander, I'm her regent instead of his spouse because she hasn't really gotten to know Genjo yet."

"I see," Joyce said.

Sam looked at her.  "I doubt it but it's already filed."  He looked at Cas again.  "Meditation?  I'm already pretty good at that."

"That was part of it, but also expanding any natural gifts you may have," he said.

"That could be handy, yeah."  Dean looked at him.  "It might be."

"It definitely could be, Sammy."  They shared a look.  Dean shook his head.  "I'll miss watching you wander around babbling at the books you're reading."

"I haven't babbled *at* the books in years, Dean.  Not since I found that one that was enchanted and was teaching me."

"I remember that book.  Did you send it to her?"

"I have.  Alan said he'll hold it until she's a bit older.  She's a bit too young for it yet."  He caught her eye, giving her a pointed look.  Amellisame quit pouting.  "Maybe she can come home for a while.  With Rory out of the picture it might be safer again."

"Maybe," Dean admitted.  "Not totally sure since Xander had to beat off someone late last night when he was up and wandering."

Xander looked over from his table.  "That wasn't against or about me, Dean."

"Good to know."

Sam grinned.  "Can she?"

"Yeah, she's coming home with us for a few months."  They smiled when his daughter cheered.  "Calm down," he mouthed.  She smiled and dug back into her dinner properly.  Alan smiled at him.  It would all work out.


Xander looked at his daughter.  "In."  He lifted her up into the carriage.  "Sit in the shadow in case someone does something stupid."  She snuggled into it.  "Good girl."  He helped Genjo into it.  "You two talk for a bit.  Let me go say goodbye to Charlie and Don."  They shut the door.  Xander walked off.  "Charlie, beautiful ceremony."  He shook his hand and kissed him on the cheek.  "Don, if you need help, come see us.  Or come pick her up in three months if you want."

"I can do that."  He smiled.  "She's a darling little girl, Xander."

"I know.  I have no idea how I made something that sweet and innocent."  He heard a scream and turned, helping his daughter out of the carriage.  She was bleeding from the spike in her arm.  "Genjo?"  He got a groan.  "Don, perhaps we're not leaving for a few minutes."  Don got his healer out to help them.  Xander carried her off.  Genjo had people to take care of him.  He had to take care of his daughter.  He put her on the stretcher someone rolled out, looking at her arm.  "Damn it.  That's not poisoned though," he told her.  "So it'll only be a cut."  She nodded, still sniffling.  He hugged her while the healer pulled it out and stitched it.  "My spouse?"

"Much the same sort of injury but it went into his side," the healer working on her said.

Xander nodded.  "Thank you.  His healer is Hakkai."

"He's already with him."

Xander looked at the barb then around.  "Where were they?"

"Had to be the prison tower," Don said.  "I sent guards but they didn't find anyone."  He brushed some of her tears off.  "Is she all right?"

"Not poisoned," Xander said, letting him see it.  "Hakkai, no poison, right?"

"No, Xander.  No poison.  He'll be fine."

"Good.  Because now I'm going to kill someone."  He kissed her on the forehead.

She blinked at him.  "Can I stay for a few more days?"

"You can stay for as long as King Alan will foster you," he promised, kissing her and hugging her.  "I love you but it's safer."

She nodded.  "Bad people want you because of Grandfather."

"And they're about to get me too," he promised.  "I will make sure they never touch you again, dear."

"Thank you."

Xander smiled and tweaked her nose, getting a weak smile back.  "Alan?"

"Let me," he said, taking her to cuddle.  "The guards couldn't find anyone."

"Which means a demon or an alchemist," Dean said from behind them.  "I'm betting on the later because the spikes aren't demonic weapons."

"No, they're not.  They're made by and used from people in the north eastern countries," Xander said, letting him see that one.

"Fuck them," Genjo said.  "Are we traveling that way?"

Xander smirked.  "Their king is here.  I don't think he's left yet."

"No, he's still here," Alan said, having him sent for.  "They do have alchemists up there."

Dean nodded.  "Including the sorcerous alchemist's academy."  The king stomped their way so Dean held up the barb.  "Into not only his four-year-old daughter's arm but also into his wife's side."

That king took it.   "I had nothing to do with this, Alexander."

"I know you didn't, Mac."  He shook his hand.  "I want to know who did.  Especially since they disappeared."

"I will find out.  I will ship them to you."  Xander smiled.  "And if it's the same alchemist that poisoned you, he'll be alive so you can punish him."

Xander grinned.  "I love it when you're as mean as I am."

"People like this give my people a bad name.  One they don't deserve.  I will figure it out."  Xander grabbed him and moved him out of the way, throwing a weapon at the body that appeared.  More guards appeared to gather the injured one.  Mac got up.  "Thank you.  I owe you one."

Xander shook his head.  "Not really.  Your healer gave me the cream that finally healed the last dragon marks."  They walked over to him.  "Were you the one that took aim on a child?"

"Your line will die," he sneered.

"No it won't.  I'm still fertile."  The man started to shout and fight.  Xander stepped on him, making the shouting turn to screams.  "You took aim and hit my spouse.  You took aim and hit my child.  For that you will be destroyed.  And if you think I didn't learn a goddess damned thing, you're mistaken."  He hauled him up.  "Don, let us go question this person please?"

"Definitely.  This way," Don said.

King Mac followed.  "He's not got the coloring of my people but the skills of us.  Maybe I'll get to shut down the damned academy for good."

"I can help," Genjo offered.

Xander looked back at him.  "Guard what is most important to me next to yourself.  Please."  He continued walking off with the idiot prisoner.

Genjo nodded, moving closer to his stepdaughter.  "Hakkai, can you at least ease the pain?"

"I can try," he promised, smiling at her.  He did ease it some.  She sighed in pleasure.  "Some day you'll be a great queen who never has to worry about such things."

She nodded.  "I will be.  I'm learning from some of the best there are."  She looked up at Alan.  "Are you sure I'm not a bother?"

"You're not a bother.  You'll keep me from going insane and stalking Charlie to school, sweetheart."  She beamed and hugged him.  "You and your stepfather should be guarded.  Let's get you inside for a minute."  He took them in there, Genjo's staff following him.  They were certainly loyal.  Goku was almost foaming at the mouth.

Goku excused himself to go outside.  "How dare they fucking try to kill an innocent little child!" he shouted to blow off steam.  "What is this, the middle fucking ages?  We are not barbarians!  If they are, fuck them!"

Genjo and Gojyo looked out there.  "Aww, I've taught him well," Gojyo said happily.  "He's starting to grow up," he told Genjo, who swatted him with his fan.  Amellisame giggled at that.  They smiled at her.

Genjo patted her on the hand.  "You never have to worry about my family doing that.  My mother has said that you're sacred to the whole family because you're the only granddaughter.  There's two grandsons but you're the only girl."  She beamed at him for that.  He pushed some of her hair back.  "We'll get to know each other soon.  We can start to write as soon as you can do that."

She nodded, looking at Alan.  "Writing is a great thing and Charlie was teaching you your letters."

"Then I can do that," she agreed. "Maybe I'll ask my guard to write you until I can?" she asked her stepfather.

He smiled and nodded.  "That would be fine.  Your father would enjoy that too I'm sure."

She wiggled.  "Then I'll start doing that."  Her guard slipped into the room with Ian.  "Uncle Ian, they tried to hurt me and Mother Genjo."  Genjo didn't flinch at that name but he had self control.  He was getting better from exposure to Xander's insane life.

"They're really stupid then.  Charlie wanted to go talk to them in that bad way."

She smiled.  "I like Charlie.  He's really sweet."

"Yes he is."  He picked her up to hold her.

"You're wrinkling me."

"So?  Wrinkles prove that you do more than sit and look pretty."

She looked like that was an amazing thought.  She looked at Alan.

"That's why you change into stuff that's easier to clean when you go play and formal stuff for things like this."

"Some day I'll teach you how to wear the robes," Genjo promised.  "Then you won't have to change as often.  Mine get dirty but clean very easily."  She giggled and hugged him, letting him hug her back.  Xander walked in looking calm and settled.  "Who?"


"The last of the warlord's people?" Alan guessed.

"No.  More personal."

"Princess Willow or her family?" Genjo asked.

"Family.  Because of course their daughter didn't have me poisoned.  I'm almost sorry I had Don free them from my father."  He took his daughter to cuddle.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm okay."  He hugged her.  She hugged back.  "We'll be writing."

"I'd love that."  She beamed and nodded, getting down and heading off to talk to the other young kids that had come for the wedding.  Xander looked at Alan.  "Sorry to add drama to the wedding festivities."

"I wouldn't have waited either," he admitted.  "Are you and John going to make up?"

"No.  Not yet.  Because he knew I wasn't going to forgive Joyce or Willow."  He helped his spouse up.  "Are you okay enough to travel?"

"I'm fine.  Hakkai healed it most of the way and helped hers too."

Xander smiled at him.  "Thank you."  He looked at Alan.  "Let us leave before someone else loses their stupid minds."  Alan laughed but escorted them back out.  Amellisame came out being carried by Ian with Charlie next to him.  He smiled and waved.  "Write real soon, dear."

"I will.  Send pictures of the horses."

"I can do that."  He got into his carriage after Genjo did.  He sighed and slumped down.  "I'm trying very hard not to prove that I'm the get of a warlord."

"I would've worked to destroy them by now," his spouse said.

Xander nodded.  "I *so* want to and yet it's a bad idea."  Genjo nodded.  "But...  They're never taking our roads again."  The carriage moved and he looked out at the driver.  "Why are you going west?  We live to the south."

"The road is blocked, Sire."

Xander snorted.  "You're not our driver.  You're wearing the wrong livery.  Are we in the right carriage?" he asked his spouse.

"Yes.  We are.  There's my blood from earlier."  They heard shouting and the carriage was stopped.  The driver fled, and they heard committed suicide when he was caught.  Their driver was found in the luggage compartment and released.  Xander decided he could drive for a bit while the guy healed.  Thankfully his daughter hadn't seen that.


Xander finished penning the proclamation and the letter to John about staying away before he killed him, when someone knocked on his office door.  "Enter."  He pressed his seal to the edict and handed it to his assistant.  "On each incoming road post."  She nodded and left.  He looked at his mate.  "What's happened now?" he asked tolerantly, smiling a bit.

"Sam's here."

"Sam tends to stay here when I'm here and my father isn't."

"He said your father's been gotten free."

"I doubt someone broke the Ever Tight shackles."

"I sent one of the generals who had checked on him out to check."  He shifted.  "Sam doesn't look happy."

"I doubt he is.  John's being very bitchy about the wedding."  He got up.  "Let's go greet Sam.  If we have to, Sam can join Gregory in exile."  They walked out into a screaming match.  Sam versus Cuddy.  Xander watched then cleared his throat.  "It is very rude to yell in my castle."  He glared at Cuddy then smiled at Sam.  "Hiding?"

"I request sanctuary."

"Granted."  Sam relaxed and smiled.  

"My father?"

"Vision.  I think."

Xander handed one of the pages the letter.  "Seal that and it goes to his father.  It blatantly states I'd rather not see him for a bit over his arrogance and assumptions."  Sam beamed.  He looked at Cuddy.  "Why are you screaming in my palace?"

"I came for my princess."

"He's not here today.  He's off with Tony.  They're talking with Tony's parents about his possible future marriage."

"I doubt anyone would take any of the beings that 'hang out' here," she sneered.

"The offer for me to drop you into the woods and let you make your own way out stands," Xander said calmly, staring her down.  She backed down shaking her head.  "You sure?  I'm pretty damn certain that any *real* prince could do that.  Even one where the lineage is picked by testing scores as yours is."  He saw the general coming in looking disgusted.  "He still there?"

"Yes, sire, and I brought the new goblet with me.  I left it after killing the sorcerer trying to get him free."  Xander smiled at him for that kindness.  "That was nearly evil, sire."

"He deserved evil punishment."

"Yes, he did," the general agreed.  "I checked, the knife is there and useable."

"It's been there since John dropped it on him before my coronation.  Apparently we now know what does it for him."  The general shuddered.  Xander smiled.  "I only punish the most evil ones with evil things," he pointed out.

"I'm very glad I'm not evil and I don't let my troops do anything that bad, sire."  He looked at the prince then the princess.  "Are we having a problem?"

"Queen Joyce is never allowed in our lands again.  Neither are the Rosenburgs."  The general nodded.  "Mostly because they're both being dumbasses.  The Rosenburgs tried to have my daughter killed, General Hardrion."

"Excuse me?" he demanded.  "Sire, to be blunt, I like your daughter more than I do you because she's sweet and innocent, plus a future scholar."  Xander smiled at him.  "Not to offend."

"You didn't.  I heartily encourage her mind and skills.  She'll make a great prince if she doesn't become a true healer."

The general grinned.  "She is good at it.  If we hear of their people they'll be banished."

"I already made an edict."

"Yes, sire."

Xander shoved Cuddy over.  "Have her escorted off.  Prince Cuddy, if you had been paying attention you probably crossed paths with Princesses Anthony and Gregory.  As for them seeking sanctuary here, we're pretty darn protective of our friends and peoples.  Anyone peaceful with good intent can seek sanctuary here."  He stared at her.  "Now, is there anything else?"  She stomped off.  He waved at her back.  Then he grinned at his general.  "The guard with my daughter?"

"He adores her like his own, sire."

"Excellent!"  He beamed at his mate.

"I like her and I don't like kids," Genjo agreed.

"Even better.  Sam, you have a room."  He grinned and walked off.  Xander looked at the general.  "There was talk that one of you wanted some of my father's ways back?"

"No, sire, they wanted the discipline in the military ranks.  The rest of us pointed out that we didn't have a problem with keeping it under you, he was just lenient and your father had leaned on him to keep order since it was his personal troop."

"You can take him out there so they can pay their respects," Xander offered.

"That's still an evil thought," Genjo complained.

Xander blew a kiss.  "Yes, I have them now and then about some matters."  He looked at the general.  "If they're the same troop I've had complaints about, some corrective action will be taken."

"I've heard and rooted out the ones doing that.  They're in the jails, sire.  Though I will make an example for the rest."  He bowed and left to shudder and get drunk in his office.  He called the other generals in to tell them exactly what he had seen and to set up a rotation for one of the soldiers in that problem unit to go check on him every month or so as a deterrent.  Because King Xander would do the same to them if they screwed up that much.  King Xander was nice but not that nice.  They had made sure of it as he was raised among them.  A nice king was a weak king to the military way of thinking.

Xander smiled at his wife.  "So, anyway," he said.  "We have to plan for the garden festival."  Genjo winced.  "I take it you read that?"

"I do not have a green thumb."

"Me either.  The last time I trimmed some bushes someone else grew for me."

"That I could probably do.  Do you think Queen Joyce is possessed or might it be from her captivity?"

"I don't think it's either.  Dean said she's not possessed.  John would be able to sense it from her too.  He would've handled it during their last meetings.  As for it being from her captivity, I doubt it.  That would've shown up just afterwards, not waited this long as I took it.  I think perhaps there's an underlying problem and it's being nudged by someone."  He pointed up at the tower above them.  "As we've found letters between the two.  I've already warned her she's in deep shit with me."

"That's fine," Genjo agreed.  "We hide or quietly eliminate our insane royalty as well."  He crossed his arms over his chest.  "How are we handling this?"

"Joyce has her supporters, including a few who are paranoid that I'll turn into my father.  Which is one reason why I let my daughter go to Alan for her safety.  If something pops up we'll handle it.  I'm hearing whispers of it.  I don't know though.  I did put in an emergency out clause for the edict banning them from our roads.  I also believe Buffy is in the country somewhere.  For now she's allowed to come here and then I'll have her escorted out safely."

"That seems reasonable.  What problems are you hearing?"

"I'm just hearing that she's unreasonably pissy about something."

"Hmm.  How far out?"

"Two days."  Genjo nodded and walked off.  "Dinner tonight over that plan?"

"I can do that."  He smiled and walked off to think.  There was something oddly familiar about Joyce's problems but he wasn't sure what.  If it wasn't demonic it had to be something serious, right?


Xander looked up as Buffy was escorted in.  "Thank you, gentlemen.  I believe you were proper with the crown prince?"  They all nodded.  "Good."  He looked at Buffy.  "What's up?"

"My mother says that she is carrying your father's heir so you're not legitimate."

"That would be hard to do unless she went to visit him in the woods and I'm told they castrated him within days of learning he was there."

"What?" she asked, looking confused.

"I'm sure you've been told that babies come from sexual relations?" Gregory said dryly from next to the throne.  The visiting princesses and Genjo tended to hang out on the couch there.  She nodded slowly.  "From the creation to the birthing only takes nine months, Prince Buffy.  There's no way she's pregnant from her time here."

"Do we know what's possessing my mother?" she demanded.  "I'm very confused and she's acting weird."

Xander nodded.  "She's not possessed."  He looked at Gregory.  "John's met with her in person and he would've sensed it.  Or Genjo would've during the wedding since they were only the next table over.  He felt one on the other side of the room."

"No, that sort of personality change sounds more like a brain tumor," Gregory said.  "Who is her healer?"

"She had him fired.  I asked for one of you to look at her and Cuddy blew me off."

"She does that a lot," Xander said.  He shifted.  "Gregory, if you want to fire call her healer, go for it."

"What's a tumor?" Buffy asked.

"You know those ....  A tumor is actually a little lump of abnormal cells.  Having too many of them gathering together creates a lump," Gregory explained, bringing it down to her level since she was clearly not the scholarly sort and he was feeling a bit sorry for her for some reason.  "In this case, it may be in her brain.  Which causes sudden personality shifts and mood swings.  Plus other problems."  He walked her to the fire calling station.

Xander walked outside and looked up at his stepmother's window.  "Even you know that it takes a child nine months, not two years, Stepmother.  We're not dragons to be carried that long."  He heard a shriek.  A few of the guards were laughing.  "She's seriously cranked and bothering others.  No more mail and no liquor or wine for the next six months.  Maybe she'll return to human."  He walked back inside.  The guards went to search her room.  Gregory was talking to Prince James.  He agreed to go look at her.  Buffy came back looking pissed off.  "I'll give you a safe conduct pass," he told her.  "That way no one bothers you."

"Are you going to forgive her?"

"No.  I don't think this was infecting her when she had me poisoned."

"You forgave John."

"No, I haven't.  I'll never forgive him for that.  I've accepted that he did not mean to hit me.  I've accepted that he hated my father enough to try to kill him that way and was mercenary enough to use his son to help his plan.  I'll never forgive it because he'll never offer a real apology for it.  Right now, his mercenary side is showing and I don't want any part of that.  He takes these swings."

She nodded, looking around.  "It looks nicer than it did during your wedding."

"Tony's helped me with the decorations.  He has great taste."  He smiled.  "Safe travels."

"You as well."  She left, getting a personal guard back to the border.  "I don't need a guardian."

"Yes you do, Prince Buffy," he said quietly.  "We've found some of Rory's army trying to sneak into the country to cause problems.  A lone woman traveling, even a royal one, is no match for a poorly trained military group of men."  She shuddered.  "So we will make sure you're safe."

"If you find them," the head guard ordered.  "Call.  We'll come get them.  The king's orders state that they are to be captured, tried, and taken out if found guilty."  The guard nodded.  "His father's a lord, Prince Buffy.  He's very well educated so you can talk to him as well.  He's a fairly new guard."

"Thank you."  She shook the guard's hand and they rode off together.

The head guard went in to talk to his king.  "I sent the new guard with her.  He's well trained and well-spoken.  I also told him to call if he found that unit from Rory's shitty army."

Xander nodded, scowling.  "I got a fire-called report from the Granget region about them.  Apparently they did attack a farming family."

"Did the guard unit down there respond?"

"Yes.  They're the ones who called.  They lost them in the woods by the border.  They're trying to track them down today."

"That border is touchy but I'll send another unit to help.  And another to the region next to it on the same border."  He went to do that.

Xander relaxed.  It was going to be a long week.  He looked at Gregory when he came back.  "How is James?"

"Good.  He's going to look at her."  They both looked outside at the loud thump and the screaming that started.  Gregory shifted so he could see what happened.  "She fell on a maid."

"Shit."  They ran out to help the maid, getting the local healers to help Gregory move her to somewhere they could check her injuries over.  Xander looked at his mother.  "She jumped?" he asked, looking up.

One of the guards leaned out the window.  "We took away her wine cask and she spat something vile in a slur that we didn't understand, sire, then jumped."

Xander nodded.  "Thank you.  I'll send someone up to clean up her things and put what's needed into the archives."  He scratched his neck and went back inside.  He found his spouse looking confused.  "Does that mean we have to throw a state funeral for her?"

"Probably a small one as she was a former queen."  He grimaced.  "Though in disgrace so protocol is twitchy on that."

Xander grimaced.  "Closed casket, outside the palace.  The local village can host it on their next rest day?"

"Late the night before.  The rest day is due to a religious thing."

"Good point."  Xander nodded, going to find his majordomo to get that set up.  They'd have to have a small procession to the family crypt.  Which was outside the town anyway.  Not like she was a beloved leader.


Buffy met Prince James at the gates of the castle.  "Let us in," she ordered.  "I sent for him."

"Your mother said neither of you may come in, Prince Buffy," the guard said.

She stared at him.  "I'll be going in and she'll be seen by this healer or I'll be confining her to somewhere until she does.  Now, let me in."  He let her in, bowing his head.  She and James rode across the drawbridge and dismounted, letting the grooms take their horses.  She walked him into the throne room.  "Mom?"

"Buffy.  I'm having the castle painted, dear, and you know you can't stand the smell of paint."

"Yay."  She looked at the queen's guards.  "She's to be examined."  They nodded and caught hold of her.  James moved forward to examine her no matter how much she struggled.

James grimaced and stepped back, nodding at the now quiet queen.  "It is a brain tumor," he announced.  Joyce burst out sobbing.

"What, exactly, does that mean?" Buffy asked.  "Can we do anything about it?"

"Not much," he admitted. "It will lead to her being incapacitated."  Buffy slumped but nodded.  "Looking at your family history, your great-aunt had a tumor like this but hers was in her back."

"I heard that story.  That makes more sense to me," she agreed.  "So what do we do?"

James closed his bag.  "You can get her respite care.  There's no great treatments.  I can try some things but I can't guarantee it'll work.  It will tire her out."  Buffy nodded.  "There's no guarantee though.  If we had more knowledge we could possibly find something but we can't look inside a body and see the tumor, much less use things to destroy it without taking out brain tissue.  I'm sorry."

Buffy nodded.  "So it's time for her to step down?" she asked quietly.

"Yes.  I'm afraid it is."

"I will not," Joyce spat, standing up.  "I'm perfectly competent."

"No you're not," James assured her.  "If someone had caught this earlier, treatment would've been easier and more certain," he told Buffy.  "I can rule her unstable if your people need me to."

"I'll ask them.  Make sure Prince James has the best room in town," she ordered.  The guards took him to the inn and guarded him in case their queen tried something.  "Mom," she sighed, looking sad.  "I'm sorry.  I tried to get someone in to look at you when we got you free."  She walked off dragging her feet.  "Call the Council of Nobles together," she ordered.  Her mother was sobbing out there.  Buffy was feeling like a responsible adult again and it sucked.


The guard on the road stared at the approaching carriage.  He did not lift the bar to admit them.  "Ma'am, I need to see your papers."

"Papers?" the woman in the carriage demanded.

"Yes, ma'am.  Papers.  As in the request to come into the country?  You know about those I'm sure."

"I'm a messenger on an important mission.  Why would I need papers?"

"Because two other countries have decided to hold and give safe passage to some idiot soldiers who have been trying to gain entry.  Where are you from?"

"I'm on a mission from Queen Joyce to King Pelgar."

The soldier winced.  "Then you'll want to go back about a mile and take the turn to the left to go around, ma'am.  Both of those countries have sent assassination attempts recently and their people are not allowed in.  I'm sorry."  He stepped back.

"Now see here!" she shrieked.  "I'm on a messenger delivery!"

"That's fine, ma'am.  That road will only add a half day's journey and most messages can last that long or you'd be on horseback.  The turn-off's about a mile back on the left."

"Let me through!"

"No, ma'am.  It's not allowed.  I can pull out the edict if you want."  He stared at her.  "Though the longer you stay here to argue, the later your message gets there, being all practical about it."  He stared at the rider coming up.  "King John, sir.  You know he's still mad at you."

"I'm aware of that.  My son is meeting me here."  He looked at the huffy woman in the carriage.  "The new road is smoother anyway.  It doesn't have any wheel ruts."

"Why can't we go through?" she demanded.  "The road has never been blocked before.

Sam jumped the fence and grinned at the soldier.  Who gave him a dirty look.  "Had to test her."  He looked at the bitch.  "Because Queen Joyce is sick and her judgement is compromised," he said bluntly.  "King Pelgar is also insane.  He's been hoarding and giving shelter to a band of mercenary soldiers that took out a village full of people for fun."  She shuddered and shrank back.  "So, no, the road around this kingdom is a mile back on the left, ma'am.  Do have a good trip."  She motioned her driver to take her off.  He looked at his father.  "It's a good thing I've heard back from Genjo's mother.  She'd love to have me come learn to properly meditate with her.  Shall we get this over with so I can get on with my life."  He waved a hand.

John stared at him.  "It's not that bad."

"Yes it is."  He rode off.  "We found the stupid assassin whoever sent this time," he told the guard, grinning back at him.  "Up at the palace pretending to be a healer."

"Crap," he muttered.  "I didn't let them in."

"I know.  So does Xander.  He said you're doing a very good job."  The soldier grinned and nodded his thanks.  John pulled up beside him.  Sam reached over to pet the mare's ears.  "Good girl, Impala."  She shook her head but seemed happy.  Sam popped his neck.

John looked at the gelding his son was riding.  "Isn't that Xander's horse?"

"Yes.  Mine's lame in the ankle again.  She's resting in the stables and being spoiled rotten while Xander and Dean train the new foals."  He grinned.  "Castiel gave Dean the three foals sired off Impala's line for a wedding present."

"I wondered who had bought them.  Dean and Xander can both train fairly well.  Xander's are more war oriented but still steady on a hunt."  Sam nodded.  They rode for a few hours then he cleared his throat.  "If the treaty wasn't important I wouldn't have demanded," he said quietly.

"It's a moot point anyway since Joyce has a brain tumor."  He didn't look at his father.  "I'm aware of your expedience plans, Father.  I don't really give a damn anymore.  I'll bed her our wedding night as necessary and then I'm going to study somewhere else."

"You'll need an heir to seal it."

Sam snorted, shaking his head.  "I had Princess Gregory check.  I'm fully infertile thanks to that poison."

"I...  I never meant for that to happen."

"No, I was expedient," he said dryly, glaring at his father.  "Your long term planning goals suck, Father.  If you had thought instead of planning things like a hunt the kingdom might have a pack of little heirs running around.  Instead, you've driven off Dean.  You've driven off me.  Your spare son is probably cowering and hoping you've forgotten about him."  John glared at him.  "Truth.  Kingdoms take both long and short term planning.  You only see the short term gratification of ending a problem.  So now you've made your bed and we'll both have to live with it.  I'll find my own happiness somewhere."

"If it wasn't necessary..."

"Nothing is that necessary.  Never has been.  Beyond that, Buffy's not written or anything so the proposed treaty may be off.  With her mother having that brain tumor things are probably going badly there."

"What's a brain tumor?"

"An abnormal growth in one's brain that means you make poor decisions and have personality changes in her case."

"So like a possession?"

"Only like it's a knot of tissue instead, yes.  Same effect."

John grimaced.  "That came from her captivity?"

"No.  If it had, it would've shown up in poor judgement sooner.  We think it happened shortly after the poisoning by what Gregory said about the probable size of it."

John swallowed.  "Then we'll see what happens."

Sam looked at him, a cold, pitying look.  "Even if the wedding is called off, I'm going back to Xander's to learn more from his wife.  I feel safe there."  John nodded, making himself not slump.  They kept riding until they made it to a nice inn halfway there.  Sam got down and smiled at the stableboy.  "Rooms?"

"Yes, sir.  Many of them.  Let me get the keeper of the keys."  He went to do that then came to take care of their horses.

"She's a fairly well trained warmare," Sam warned.  The stable hand nodded, walking them off.  "We've been at an easy trot so they're not too tired."

"Good of you, sir."

The keeper of the keys came out with a nod.  "You need two rooms or one?"  He stared.  "Princess Sam!"

He grinned and shook his hand.  "My father needs his own room.  He snores horribly."

"We have an outer edge room, Sire," he said, nodding politely at him.  John paid for them and they went upstairs to stretch out and clean up a bit before dinner.  Sam would talk to the locals about how things were going.  He was sure those mercenaries weren't just bothering Xander's people.


Buffy met them at the palace entrance.  "Sam, didn't you get any of the letters I sent?" she asked quietly.  Her nobles hadn't agreed to remove Joyce yet, thinking that she was still competent enough until Buffy grew up some more.

"No, I hadn't.  I'll have to see what happened to them.  We have a decent postal service in Xander's kingdom."

She huffed.  "Mom's lost her mind.  She's determined that I'll marry you so you can help me with the kingdom and some guy who has sired a lot of children for the heirs portion."

Sam snorted, shaking his head.  "Totally unacceptable."  She slumped and nodded.  "We realize your mother is ill, Buffy."

"She's given me the most horrendous wedding dress too," she said quietly.  "She's also insistent that she's pregnant again."

Sam shrugged.  "That can happen even when you're ill."  He followed her into the throne room.  His father was behind him.  "Queen Joyce," he said with a slight bow.

"Ah!  My son-in-law to handle the kingdom."

"Plural marriages aren't acceptable," John told her firmly.

"Arrest him," Joyce said.

"Touch King John and watch me use you for pells," Buffy ordered.  The guards stayed where they were.  She looked at John.  "I'll try to work things out with you tonight."  She looked at Sam.  "I have no idea."

"I know.  We'll have an absent marriage for form's sake if we must."

She grimaced.  "I know you don't like us, Sam."

"No, I have no feelings for or against you, Buffy.  Your mother....  Her I'm still waiting on an apology for making me take care of my friend for two months of a fever coma."  She winced.  "Let's go talk so she can rant and rave."  They walked off.  They knew their duty even if it did bite.  Even Dean had offered to put him out of his misery or find him someone to elope with.  Castiel had offered one of his brothers, who was a bit creepy and stalkerish over Sam.

John looked at her.  "Have the healers seen you?"  She sneered and stomped off.  John looked around then followed the two heirs.  "Buffy, has someone seen her?"

"We asked Prince Cuddy to have someone see her when your other son found out she wasn't possessed.  She sneered and said it wasn't necessary."

Sam found the fire calling station and called.  "Gregory, Cuddy decided not to send a healer way back before that battle with the evil thing."

"That's it.  I've had enough of her," he decided.  "Thank you, Sam."

"Is there anything we can do to restore her?" John asked.

"No.  James said at this point the only thing she could have was probably mercy.  We're not advanced enough to get to those things inside the brain."  He hung up.

Buffy took a deep breath.  "Don't tempt me," she muttered.  She rubbed her forehead.

John patted her on the shoulder.  "What is going on, Buffy?"

"I wrote Sam to warn him but if he didn't get them I'm not sure why."  She settled in at the kitchen table with them to go over the problems going on.  During it she looked at John.  "Could an alchemist like the one Willow went to have caused this?"

"Yes.  An inappropriate spell, especially of dark magic, has been known to cause health issues.  If she was predisposed to that condition it could trigger it as far as I understand it," John said.  Buffy shuddered.  "Do you think she did?"

"I don't know.  I know that she's got a new girlfriend.  Common but very nice.  Her parents haven't been saying much of anything recently.  It's all come through Willow."

"That's clearly a problem," Sam said.  She nodded.  They all winced when Joyce started to shriek and rant about Buffy's wedding dress being white.

Buffy got up and walked out there.  "Why wouldn't it be white?  I haven't wenched around like some princes."  Her mother glared at her.  "I haven't.  You wanted me to marry a virgin and I will, Mom."  She walked off.  "Beyond that, the train's longer than the building.  It can be donated to some local bride who needs lace."

"Yes, Prince Buffy," the tailor said, fleeing the irritable queens.

Buffy walked back into the kitchen.  She looked at John.  "I know you're... that in the past you've had to do things that weren't perfectly correct to solve problems.  Can you teach me that?"

"I can handle it," he promised.  She relaxed and nodded.  "Then we'll talk about the wedding?"

"Honestly, with all this, I think the kingdom is going to die in shame."  She shrugged.  "I have no idea how to do any of this and Pelgar wants me to marry his son.  Who I will stab if he comes near me again.  He tried to trap me a few times when his father took over the throne.  I had to go for the celebration and it was disgusting."

"He's been holding fast the last of Rory's army," Sam told her.

"Then we're so through with them."  She grimaced.  "I heard Xander had the roads closed?"

"We've had a few assassination attempts from Willow's people.  We caught one last night pretending to be a healer."

"Her parents were never like that before," she complained.

"It's possible that if Willow's went to rogue or dark magic then she's influenced them," John said, leaning his elbows on the table.  "At which time something has to be done because no one will allow a sorcerous queen."

Sam looked at him.  "Xander was back in evil plan mode.  Genjo walked off shaking his head to get his banishing gun."

"Why?" John asked.

"I wasn't involved because I would be here."

"Is Dean?"

"Dean's off hunting on our borders.  Some of the demons from the Sanzo kingdom passed across our bottom boundary and into the other lands."

"I hadn't heard."

"I think Castiel is still reminding Dean he should talk to you now and then."

"I'm sorry, Sammy."

"I don't want to hear it," he admitted, standing up.  "Buffy, let us take a room in town?"

"I didn't plan for that," John admitted.

"I did.  I got a nice allowance from Xander."  He grinned.  Buffy grinned back.  "Let us do that."  She nodded.  He and his father retreated to the local inn.  Which had really ugly paint on the walls and crocheted bedspreads in a color that would not go well with any other color humans knew about.  "How did they dye it that color?" he wondered.  He tucked it under the bed so he wouldn't have to look at it.


Xander snuck into the palace.  He was actually trained for this.  He motioned and his team moved to take down anyone who was obviously in their way in a non-fatal manner.  Willow was outside the castle right now.  They had made sure she was on her weekly jaunt to the pub to listen to complaints.  Dean and Castiel slipped in behind him.  Xander pointed at the royal chambers, getting a nod from Dean and his spouse.  Xander moved to Willow's rooms.  They had paid one of the maids handsomely to give them a map.  He walked into Willow's rooms, startling the blonde girl in there.  "Relax," he said quietly.

"I'll scream for help!"

"If you do I'll have to take down the guards, Tara."  The girl flinched.  "I'm King Xander.  We're here to free you from the bad magic."

"I...."  She started to cry.  "You can't."

He snorted.  "No, I asked about you.  You're not enchanted like her parents."  He led her out.  "Come on.  They're freeing her parents right now."

"They'll never realize what it was.  They don't understand," she said.

"I know.  Still, it has to be done.  The other kings were going to destroy the castle if we don't.  So either way we need you safely out of the way."  She shivered.  "I'd never hurt you.   No matter what she's said."

A female voice shrieked.

Xander looked.  "Cas," he hissed.  He came out.  "Guard her.  She's back."  He nodded, taking Tara to guard with Dean.  The parents weren't living.  They were zombies.  Xander hurried down to stop the witch before she brought the castle down on them.  "By order of the Gathered Kings, you are under arrest, Willow of Rosenburg, for dark magic on other rulers and your own family."  

She sneered.  "You can't prove that."

"We can prove that.  My spouse's people have ways of proving it."

"You'll never make it back to your *wife*," she sneered.  She threw a spell at him, which was absorbed by his pendant.  "What the hell was that?"

"White magic.  Perhaps you've forgotten what it is?"  He lunged to grab her.  She moved herself.  "Fine, we can do it your way," he promised.  The sound of a chain extending whipped past his ear, making him move.  "Hi, Gojyo."

"Hey, Xander.  The princess is in a snit that you left him again."

"I didn't think he wanted to deal with this evil."

"Yes, I do," Genjo said, staring at her.  "By the way, your magic is what made Queen Joyce have that brain tumor that's killing her.  We checked."   He pulled out his banishing gun.

"That won't work on me.  I cannot be killed by mortal methods," she sneered.

"This is a banishing gun.  It only works on demons," he said then shot her.  She shrieked and went up in a ball of fire, but hovered.  Gojyo recalled his weapon.  "Hmm.  Turned into a demon."

Castiel came jogging down the stairs and got to work fighting the demon.  "That sort of evil is not allowed," he sneered.  The ball of flame reformed into a girl who wasn't Willow.  "So you show your true colors now.  Good."  He pulled a special dagger.  Specially blessed for killing demons.

"My banishing gun only ruined her form," Genjo said.  "We can help."

"No.  This is my sort of evil, not yours."  He fought with the 'princess' until the demon died.  Then he sneered.  "The evil is gone," he announced and a tiny bell sound rang.

Xander looked around then at him.  "Huh."  He walked off.  "Let me rescue her girlfriend.  She could probably use a safe spot to grieve and shake."  He took her from Dean.  She had watched.  "I'm sorry, Tara."

She swallowed the sobbing she was doing.  "She wasn't my Willow.  I was destined for the real Willow."  Xander led her off, letting her sob on his shoulder.

"I can't stand a crying woman," Gojyo said, following to help her calm down.

Dean looked at Castiel.  "So was that the evil one you were destined to banish?"

"I think so but I cannot be sure.  She seemed weaker, like she may have cloned herself into someone else."

"With our luck it's in Pelgar," Genjo said.  He whistled and the rest of the team rejoined them so they could leave.  Almost no one saw them and they were all wearing dark clothes and masks by the time they exited the castle.


Xander walked Tara into his palace a few days later, handing Tara to his cook.  "She's a gentle soul and was just devastated by a demon taking her girlfriend's form," he said quietly.  "We're guarding her until she's better and able to make her own choices."  The cook nodded, taking the poor thing to her suite to use her spare room.  Xander went to slump down in his suite, fighting the self hatred over having to end that family.

Genjo walked in and stared at him.  "Evil doesn't mean to take out the better people, it just considers them more fun."

"I know."  He looked up.  "Are you all right?  I should've asked sooner but I was helping Tara."

"I'm fine.  I've had to do that before.  As has John when someone was too possessed to clear."  He blinked at his spouse.  He hadn't seen this side of him before, Xander hid it too carefully.  "Do you need to talk?"

"No, I'll be fine."

"I..."  He looked around. "I can stay so you can talk later."

"I'd need a cuddle, Genjo, and you're very against that sort of thing.  Or were in the past?" he asked, making sure in case his spouse was having a moment of squishy feelings towards him.

"I can lay there and let you rest against me," he offered.

"Not quite the same."  His wife nodded and left him alone.  Xander wandered into the bathroom to bathe and relax in the hot water.  He'd deal with the need for a cuddle later.


Castiel was waiting the next morning, nodding at Tara.  "Come, it's time for breakfast."

She nodded, wiping off her cheeks.  "Am I being held hostage?"

Castiel smirked.  "No more so than any of us are.  We tend to gather around Xander because he understands."  He led her to breakfast, sitting her down on Dean's other side.  It was usually Sam's spot but he was still gone.  "Eat what you like."

"I..."  She looked at Xander.  "Thank you for rescuing me."

"You're welcome."  He patted her hand.  "Eat.  Real women need food and you have a lot of thinking to do."

She nodded.  "I don't think I can go home.  Someone will blame me for their downfall."

"No, the only one responsible for that was Willow and her parents," Castiel said firmly.  "They goaded her into studying to prove them wrong.  She got lost and didn't seek counsel or help."

"She asked me to help her," Tara said.

"Tara, her parents were zombies," Dean said gently, for him.  "They were very old zombies.  Probably since before Xander had them freed."

"Don would've noticed so probably right afterward," Xander said.

"Could be," Dean agreed.  She  nodded, looking down.  "Cas and I have to go visit his mother if you'd like to go with us.  They have other white, nature witches there who could help and support you."

"Or there's a nice coven close to our northern border," Xander offered.  "But they tend to be uptight and very strict on protocol.  Even with me."

She smiled.  "I might write to them."

"Good."  He smiled at her.  "One's going to be here tomorrow.  It's time to bless the farms."  She grinned and dug into her fruit salad.  Xander added toast and oatmeal to her plate.  She blushed but dug in.  "Real women need real food.  They do a lot of things that men never will."  She blushed brighter but seemed happy with his fussing.

Genjo walked in and nodded at everyone.  "Good morning, Tara."

"Good morning, Queen Genjo," she said quietly, not looking at him.

Genjo looked at Xander, who shook his head subtly.  Genjo relaxed since her shyness wasn't that she had slept with his husband.  He had no ideas about any womanly things.

Goku and the others walked in.  Goku paused and grinned.  "Hi, I'm Goku.  I'm one of Genjo's guards."

Tara smiled and shook his hand.  "Tara.  They rescued me."

Goku grinned.  "We're all real good about that around here."

"Goku, can you show her around the gardens later?" Xander asked.  "That way she has some thinking time outdoors if she can find a spot?"

"Sure.  I can do that."  He grinned at her, getting a shy smile back.  She seemed so young and innocent to him so he'd have to protect her from some of the mean guards.  He sat down to inhale food, staring at her.  "You don't eat eggs?"

"No.  I'm a nature witch.  We don't eat meat or meat products."

"Wow, that means no cheese.  No meat buns."  He grinned.  "But I guess that's something that you've gotta do if you have faith.  Like some of Genjo's relatives only seem to drink broth and water, which they cover to make sure nothing in it is living."

She smiled.  "I've heard of that sort of devotion to life."

Genjo nodded but shrugged one-sidedly.  "They're a bit uptight too."

"Talk about sitting on the stick up their ass and ignoring the fun potential," Gojyo said.  Hakkai and Xander both swatted him for it.  "Sorry."

Tara patted him on the hand.  "Some men never learn to control those desires and some learn too much control."  She got some tea once the queen had.  The cook had warned her that Genjo was a grump without it first thing in the morning.

"Xander," Cas said.  "My mother wanted to know if we could do some fostering with your daughter."

"I don't think she'd mind a long visit.  I know Don's got one coming up for a treaty.  You can ask if he'll bring her."

Cas smiled.  "We consider children sacred and there's been none in the palace for a while."

"That's why there's surrogates or that curse," Xander quipped, sipping his coffee.

A messenger ran in panting, handing Xander a scroll before flopping down beside his seat.  "I ran from the border road, Sire."

"Thank you.  Good job.  Go rest and cool down appropriately."  The messenger got up  with a moan and went to cool himself down properly in the gardens.  Xander undid it.  "It's from Sam."  He read it, grimacing.  He handed it to Cas, who read it and handed it to Dean.

"So the demon's not in her or her daughter," Dean said.  "Pelgar?"

"Probably.  There's been a lot of traffic between them," Xander admitted.  "And between Willow and Joyce.  She's the other one that convinced Joyce that she was having my father's child two years after she got free."

"Sammy said that it's possible the black magic caused the tumor," Castiel said quietly.

Genjo nodded.  "I checked the magic around her on the way to join you.  It was."

"Which sucks the big one," Dean agreed.  He looked at Xander.

"Thankfully that's one curse I've missed stumbling into."

"Or the one that would let you carry your own heir," Hakkai teased.

Xander smiled back.  "Or that one thankfully.  Or else I'd have a few kids by now."  The others chuckled and got back to eating.  Xander leaned back.  "Gregory!" he bellowed, hearing his cane tapping up the hallway.  He came in.  Dean handed over the message when Xander pointed at it.

He looked and grimaced.  "It's not unheard of.  Looking at her family history she had a relative with cancer a few years back."  He sat down, nodding at the one he didn't know.  "New princess taking refuge?"

Tara blushed and shook her head quickly.  "No," she squeaked.

"We rescued her from Willow," Xander said.  "Dean, are you guys staying long enough to attend the Kings' meeting?"

"I can do that in Dad's place since he can't be here."

"Okay."  He looked at Tara.  "Do you need anything?"

"I had to leave some things."

"I left a guard and told him to pack you up," Genjo said.  "That way you're not without any heirlooms."

She smiled.  "Thank you."

He waved a hand and made a snorting/throaty clicking noise.  "It was nothing."

Xander smiled.  "Thank you, I hadn't even thought of that need."  He dug in again.  "When are they due here?"

"Later today," Gregory reminded him.  "Tony and Don will be with them."

"I'll ask Don about bringing Amellisame with him on the treaty then," Castiel decided.  He wiped his mouth off and watched his spouse eat.  Dean smirked at him.  "Sparring practice," he reminded him.  That had to come before sex.  That smirk always meant he was going to be pounced.

Dean nodded he agreed, hurrying up his eating so they could do that.

"Boys, go help," Genjo said.  They nodded.

"But I'm still hungry," Goku said.

"You're showing Tara around and then you can go spar," Xander said.

"Yes, Xander."  He grinned.  "That means I can have seconds."  He dug into a huge plateful of food.

"He's not really a growing boy," Genjo complained lightly.

"Yes he is.  We were all bottomless pits at his age, Genjo."

"I wasn't."

"You were being raised as a monk.  You were taught to deny all those urges."

"Good point."  He grimaced.  "Not that it matters at times."

"Repressing things only turns you into a cardboard cutout man," Gregory said.  "If you don't give in now and then, how do you know why you repress so hard?"

"I'll meditate on that later," he shot back.  Tara giggled and they both smirked at her.  She seemed so young and innocent.  Not even Genjo would break that for her yet.  Once she was gone with Goku he looked at his spouse.  "She's very innocent," he said quietly.

Xander shook his head.  "Less than I was at that age."  They both stared.  "I had someone ask about her family so they could tell them she was all right.  The report I got back said the guy wasn't even going to try because her parents were like warlords in many ways without the benefits."  He sipped his juice and put the glass down.

"So she's pure but she's seen the damage people have," Gregory said.

Xander checked the hallway to make sure she wasn't listening.  "Greg, she panicked when I woke her up on the trip back here," he said quietly.  "Because I'm a guy and I put a hand on her wrist."  Gregory growled.  "I think Cas's people could be of great soothing to her.  The local witches would run her over without meaning to because they're forceful bitches at times."

Genjo nodded.  "Then we'll protect her and they can take her when they go home to visit."  Xander smiled at him for that agreement.  "Why Goku?"

"He's harmless seeming.  Unless they're attacked.  He won't make her uncomfortable.  He won't pick on her, tease her, flirt with her, and he'll chatter so she doesn't have to talk all that much if she doesn't want to."

"Then he is a good balm to a scarred soul.  At the very least Willow had to scar her," Gregory decided.  "When are they getting here?"

"The meeting is for tonight," Xander said.  "I have no idea if some of them showed up overnight.  I heard hooves on the cobblestones out front a few times last night."

Everyone else finished their breakfasts and went to deal with their daily chores in the castle.  Gregory was helping by being Xander's second because the insane, minute details drove Genjo nuts.


Ian walked in.  Charlie had gotten there with his family earlier.  "There are no more mercenaries."

"Alan said you guys had been attacked," Xander said, shaking his hand.  "How many troops?"


Xander smiled and wrote out a release, handing it to his assistant.  "We have rewards for their capture or killing."  He smiled at him.   "We saved Willow's girlfriend from her.  She reminds me of your sister's friend."

Ian winced.  "Okay.  Is she here?"

"She's talking with the local witches and is thinking about going with Castiel when he visits home."

Alan walked into the throne room.  "I don't mind if they take Amellisame with them for a bit.  It's a good learning experience.  Ian, are we all right?"

"We're fine.  They're gone."  His assistant brought back the reward bag.  Ian grinned.  "Means I can buy a new sword and bow."

"Or six," Xander agreed with a grin.  "Are we all here, Alan?"

"All but two."  They went into the meeting room.  The others got there shortly afterward so the chatting and nibbling they were doing while waiting got called to order by Alan.  He was the longest on the throne so he was the chair of the meeting.  "We're here to discuss what our next steps have to be.  Dean, if you could report on what happened there?"

Dean stood up to tell them about the family Rosenburg's downfall and what they had seen.  One of Sanzo's family wanted to talk to Tara but Genjo told him no and why.  The girl already had enough hell in her life.  He told him to talk to Goku, who had been walking with her earlier.  Alan agreed it was a good idea, especially since their reports hadn't had them together for very long.  That one said he'd talk to Goku about her.  Castiel said he was taking her home with them if she wanted.  

They agreed that was a safe place for her to heal and rest.  They brought up the note about the demon.  Castiel and Dean had looked her up.  They accepted a motion that John go talk to Pelgar to see if it was in him or if he was just insane.  They decided on a good path and the meeting broke up so they could go home.  Or pause there on their way to other treaty meetings.


Castiel looked up as his mother came down the steps from their temple-like palace.  "Mother."

"Castiel."  She stared at him.  "They feed you well."

He smiled.  "We have rested at Xander's a few times.  He has excellent cooks."

She smiled.  "Good."  She gave him and Dean both a careful hug.  She looked at Tara.  "Your chosen surrogate?"

"No, I'm taking her to the coven outside the city tomorrow.  She needs to heal.  I must report to you and Father."

"Come, we'll do that."  She smiled at the gentle seeming young woman.  "You as well."  She led her inside.  "Dean, Gabriel is wanting to see your brother."

"He's taking himself out of the marriage contract with Buffy since her mother died of her brain tumor."  The queen looked at him and he nodded.  "Before Dad got there to ease it for her."

"Why did she have one?"

"Willow," Castiel said simply.  Tara sniffled but Dean patted her on the hand and Castiel babied her.  She got herself back under control and they went to make the report while someone called up a member of the coven for their prodigal son.

The witch stomped in.  "I don't usually get summoned up here so who's sick?" she demanded.  Tara squeaked.  She stared at her.  "You're Meredith's daughter," she sighed, hugging her.  "We were wondering what happened to you, child."

"She was with Rosenburg," Dean said.  "We rescued her."

"You poor thing.  You come down for tea."  She looked at Castiel, who nodded and pointed at Tara.  "Then it's an excellent you ran into that goofy King Xander."  She walked her out to baby her and get her healthy again.   Who knew what King Xander thought was an appropriate food group.

"King Alan's group was a few hours behind us," Dean said.  "They had to stop and pick up his foster daughter since Cas heard you wanted to meet her."

"Alan agreed traveling to meet other royal families would be educational for her," Castiel agreed happily.

"Wonderful," his mother said.  "Let me have someone start some cookies baking."  She left them to talk.

His father looked at them.  "We would like heirs some year, Castiel."

"We're looking into surrogates," Dean said.  "We have an accessory line of cousins I can probably talk into having one with him and then we'd talk to one of his cousins to have mine with."

The king smiled.  "That is an excellent idea.  How is your friend Xander doing it?"

"They have an official surrogate.  His spouse's people were supposed to send one over and haven't.  Neither one's very comfortable around children though.  Plus there's still dangers.  Xander had to shut his boundaries for a bit."

"We heard."  His wife came back and it was nice.  They had always enjoyed watching Dean try to have manners.


Xander looked up as someone stomped in through the rainstorm.  "King Mac, want a towel?"

"Please."  A warm one was brought to him.  "Thank you."  He toweled his hair off.  "Is your spouse here?  I need to talk to him about members of his family doing strange things that is bothering our shared border."

"He's either in his house or in the kitchen," he said. " Someone tell my spouse he has a visitor," he bellowed.

Mac smiled.  "I do the same thing and my spouse complains constantly about it."

"I'm waiting on Princess Charlie to find some way to shout from one end of the castle to another without wearing out pages."  He stood up.  "Come see.  I just got a new statue."

"I know your father had them all destroyed."

"He was so mental and drunk he thought everything decorative was hiding assassins.  He even destroyed the old throne."  Mac shook his head.  He uncovered the statue.  "I thought it'd go very nicely by the doorway to the back hallway."  He pointed at the empty nook in the wall.

"That would fit well.  It's finely done too."  He ran a hand over the upraised arm.  "Nice stone carving and smoothed."  He smiled as Xander recovered it.  "Officially announcing it?"

"No, we have a festival coming up so I'll have it put in place for that with the new tapestries the nuns at the convent in the woods made."  Genjo walked in toweling his hair off.  "I wasn't sure if you were at home or not."

"I was.  It's going to flood everything."  He looked at Mac.  "What did my relations do this time?"

Mac walked over to talk to him privately.

Xander walked around them.  "Let me get some cocoa."  He smiled at the pages in the hallway.  "Next week we'll be hanging things," he reminded them.

"We'll deal with it."

"And the month after that, we've agreed to let Princess Sofia use the castle for her wedding because hers is in rubble thanks to that earthquake.  I'm sorry in advance for whatever she dresses you guys in.  I know they're sometimes a bit weird.  King Mac's wife comes from them."  The page went to tell the other staff in the castle.

Mac heard him and grimaced.  "Sofia's finally trapped someone into marriage?"

"It's going to be a grand thing that I'll want to hide from," Genjo said dryly.  "Including ritual togas."  Mac winced, he had seen those.

One of the more adult pages cleared his throat.  "Togas, sire?"

"Togas," Mac said.  "Short, white togas."  The page squeezed his eyes shut and whimpered.  "Sorry.  Stella had hers when we married but I wore my own clothes."

"She's marrying one of her lesser nobles," Genjo said dryly.  Mac shuddered.  "Exactly."  They walked off to take over Xander's study.  His family's holy celebration was annoying in person and the fact that this was an anniversary so they were doing a 'forgiveness', which meant releasing those minor criminals into the woods, who were encouraged to run off somewhere else, meant that the others around them were going to be pissed off.


Xander walked into Genjo's house that night.  "Togas?"

"Short, white togas," he said flatly.  "And I'm not immune."

Xander shivered.  "Damn!  I need to do some exercises then.  My legs do not look good enough or my arms."

"You look fine," Genjo said, staring at him.  "Gregory's already threatened to get sick and stay in his house that night, even though they've asked him to prepare the fertility potion and give it to her."

"Does that involve sleeping with her?"

"Only his fingers," Gojyo quipped.  "We looked it up."

"Well, hey, they can use the viewing chamber," Xander decided.  "Does this mean we need jewels?"  Genjo shook his head quickly.  "Is it expected?"

"Yes," Hakkai said, handing him the book.

"Shit, that's thicker than the one they sent for our wedding," Xander muttered.  He considered it.  "It's during the rose festival.  Would that be suitable, Hakkai?"

He took the book back to look at it.  Then he smiled and nodded.  "It would be, yes. A  crown of roses and the bride can carry some."  Xander beamed and headed back home.

Genjo took the book to look at.  "If not, we had to have a jeweled what?"

"Circlet, which is a band that sits on your brow over your hair.  Plus an ankle bracelet and a wristlet.  And a belt if you're of high enough station."

Genjo handed back the book.  "Can I be ill?"

"It'd be considered a grave insult of the starting a war kind," Hakkai said.

"I'm not wearing a toga," Goku said.

"If we have to then we have to," Gojyo complained.  "Even though my legs will look skinny.  I can't pull off a skirt at all."  Genjo threw something hard at his head, making him duck.


Xander smiled at Queen Stella, who Xander had begged to help them figure out what they were wearing.  "Okay, I know togas, which means I need to do some exercising.  I've got chubby thighs again."

She patted him on the cheek.  "You'll do fine, Xander."

"It's during the rose festival."

She smiled.  "We can figure something out."  He sighed but nodded, letting her lead him around to look at everyone and see how tall/what weight they were.  The servants' togas were supposed to be shorter.  "I won't let them be too short.  I know your staff isn't for convenient use like some people's.  Sofia treats hers like that but I'll remind her you don't."  She made a note on her paper.  "That means a courtesan probably."  She took Xander to look at the royal jewelry collection.  It was fairly sparse.  "You don't have any crown jewels?"

"I think my father used them all for one of his earlier wars."  He had forgotten to look into that.

"Pity.  We'll have to figure something out."  She took him to the village's craftsmen.  Xander could afford some new crown jewels.  Even if they were tastefully subtle.  She talked to the tailor about the needed togas.  They were easy enough to make.  She made sure he knew what appropriate length was.  The higher the station, the longer the skirt.  Unless they were single and male, then they could be short enough to be flirty.  She found the blacksmith had a good idea for the circlets for the family.  It was pretty work, could be done in simpler metals and later melted down if they needed to.  For the royal family it could be more flashy metals and still look tasteful.  It would work and she had a good time bossing everyone into the appropriate toga.


It was time for the neighboring princess's wedding and Xander was trying hard to adjust the stupid thing.  Sam was back and he had been taught by Stella so he was fussing at it for him.  The gold belt was put on and Xander felt a tiny bit better.  The sandals got put on.  Then the jeweled anklet and wristlet, which was fashionably like a fishing net since Sofia's people were fishers by trade and nature.  Then the circlet.  It was gold with silver roses and scroll work.  Xander looked at himself.  "I look weird," he said quietly.

"Just a bit," Sam agreed.  He followed Xander out with the boxes for Genjo's family.  He could get dressed in a minute.  Sam knocked and they walked in.  "Let me see, guys."  He went to help everyone fold and manage the draping properly.  Goku was still complaining so Sam quirked an eyebrow up.  "Don't make everyone look bad.  Sofia's under a lot of pressure and she's at the point of snapping and biting."

"Fine," he sulked.  Sam handed him his circlet in bronze.  Then he went to Gojyo, who he had to force into his.  The circlet was arranged in his hair since it was longer and he had bangs.  He went to Hakkai, who had managed to dress himself but was staring at the circlet.  Sam plopped it on his head and fussed at his hair, grinning at him.  "There."  Hakkai smiled back.  "Let's go force the princess."

"We might have to take his weapons."

Xander knocked and got Genjo out of bed.  "C'mon, if I have to you have to, my queen."  He smirked and held out the box.  "Your circlet, jewels, and I'm sure you've got the sheet somewhere already."

Sam and Hakkai walked up behind them and got Genjo into his bathing room.  Genjo complained loudly but they still made him get dressed up.  "This is not what I should be wearing."

"Yay," Xander quipped.  "Her wedding, her people's rules.  At least we don't have to watch the consummation.  The hosts have the option of not viewing it."  He held up the circlet, putting it on Genjo's blond locks.  "There."  He fussed a bit.  "That's nice.  Sam, why does he have eyeliner?"

"You should but with your sinus attacks it'd run."  They walked out together.  Sofia saw them and scowled.  "Xander's allergies are acting up, Princess Sofia.  It'll run if I made him up.  I don't want him to look bad to your guests."

"Fine," she said, stomping off.  "It's not that important.  At least they're dressed."

"She needs a dose of that new valium potion," Tony said from his seat at the breakfast table.

"Yes she does," Genjo agreed.  He sat down.  "Do I smooth this underneath me?"

"Yes.  Like you would your robes," Sam quipped.  He went to get dressed and came down appropriately made up for his station.  His eyeliner was a bit heavy and dusted with a touch of glitter since it was fashionable and he was single.  He had his own family circlet.  He had asked Dean if he was coming and Dean swore up and down that nothing was ever going to get him into a toga or other sort of dress.  Sam could represent the family.  Castiel had calmed Dean down but agreed they didn't want to travel all that way for her wedding and sent a nice present.  Sam, mean shit that he was, had asked Xander if he would allow John to come.  They had shared an evil smirk that had Genjo reaching for his banishing gun as he searched for the evil things.  John was due to arrive today.  Sam had even thoughtfully included a good note on how to get dressed and what he had to wear.


Xander walked out to finish the greeting.  "John, get dressed.  Do not embarrass your people."  He greeted the other one.  "King Mac, Prince Don, Princess Danny, Prince Aiden, Princess Lindsay."  He nodded his greeting.

"I wore a kilt to mine," Mac complained.  "Our southern sister group is coming behind us."

"That's fine.  I'm sure King Horatio will be suitably attired so no one can say anything.  Because Princess Sofia just went on a crying jag."  Stella smiled and went to calm her cousin down.  Horatio's group pulled in with two carriages of people.  "King Horatio, Queen Timothy, Prince Calliegh, Princess Eric and Princess Ryan."  He helped the last one down because he was wearing dark glasses.  "Hung over?  We have some tea for the pre-event nibbling."

"No, I got hurt during a hunt for a criminal," he admitted.

Horatio took off his dark glasses, looking around.  "You did a nice job, Xander."

"Thank you.  Right inside and the banquet hall is on the left.  We're doing the talking and mingling in there for now."  They walked in and their carriages were put up for them.  Xander popped his neck with a groan.  He felt fingers on his neck and looked back, smiling at his spouse.  "Mac said he wore a kilt at his."

"The manly warrior skirt is still a skirt," he said quietly, cracking Xander up.  "You need to rest.  I can greet some."

"I was hoping you were keeping order in the mingling room."

"I was but now Mac is."  He smiled.  "Who's left?"

"John got sent to change.  Gregory's hiding.  Cuddy's not allowed to come.  Buffy's not coming."  He considered it.  "I think we're only missing Don and if he's bringing Charlie and Ian."

"Wonderful.  Let me go force Gregory into appropriate attire."  He walked off.  Xander had quit stressing out so it was all good.  He noticed Sam was bullying his father into appropriate clothes.  "She's ready to open fire on people," he warned quietly, staring at John.  "Do not shame us or your people.  If we can wear a toga, so can you."  He walked past them.  "Let me chide Gregory."   He walked out to the house in the gardens and opened the door.

"I'm not going."

"You are.  If I have to get into a toga and jewels so do you.  Or else I'll shoot your dumb ass and make you go injured."  He stared at him.  "Sofia's become a horror of nerves."  He hauled Gregory up and walked him into the bedroom to make him change.  "Come along."

"Yes, Mom," he sneered.  "Underwear?" he asked when the toga was handed to him.

Genjo snorted.  "Not allowed.  Mac said he wore a kilt."

"Yay.  At least this is longer."  He got helped into it and Hakkai slipped in to help him get dressed and made up. "What the fuck is the makeup for?" he demanded.

"To show your single status," Hakkai said with a smirk.  "You look very fetching in the eyeliner."  He helped him put on the circlet.  "There.  Now you're ready.  Go give the princess something for her nerves before she chews on the cook again and Xander has to knock her out?"

"With her fancy collar, any bruises would be hidden," Genjo said.  He walked Gregory out, handing him his dress cane instead of the plain one.  "I saw James so you two can hide together in a corner."

Hakkai followed with a smile.  None of the males were happy with the toga thing.  John was complaining that his underwear felt wrong.  Hakkai stopped beside him.  "You're not supposed to be wearing any," he hissed.  "It ruins the lines and makes you look rumpled."  He walked off.

"That will not happen," John assured him.  His son handed him his circlet again.  "I'm not wearing your mother's girlish circlet."

"That's not Mom's.  It's the family's motif and crest, Dad.  Put it on!" he growled.  John put it onto his head.  Sam fixed his hair around it.  "Good, now for the eyeliner."

"No way in hell."

Sofia stomped out to glare at him.  "Samuel, your father is shaming our traditions?"

"No, Princess Sofia, he's just not aware of what they mean.  Dad doesn't always understand people things."  He grinned.  "I'm working on him."

"Good!"  She glared at John.  "You will be appropriately dressed or I'll have the pages make you one of them for the day!"  She stomped off again.

John watched her go.  "She's very fiery."

Sam nodded, taking him into the office since it was the closest room.  "Drop 'em."  His father glared.  "Now!  Unless you want to be in a page's toga?  They're about mid-thigh and still no underwear."  His father complained but took them off and folded them into a chair.  Sam made him sit down and did his eyeliner and hair again then put on his other jewelry.  "There.  Now let's go be nice people so others like our family again."  He shoved his father out of the office.  He walked past Xander.  "You should open an official wedding temple," he said with a smile.

Xander grinned back.  "I'll think about that.  The people might like it."  He sipped his water.  "One more hour before the ceremony starts.  Here come the torch bearers."

Sam smiled and explained how the holy torches had been run from the main temple there to here by messenger runners.  They were all wearing gold togas, as the family demanded.  The chamber's fires were lit fresh by the torch and it was put into a special holder.  Xander made sure it had fuel and left them to it.

"At mine, they only had to run about two hundred miles," Mac told John and Sam with a smile.  "They were the best behaved of anyone at the wedding."

"Do women get to wear underwear?" John asked quietly.

"Only if they're being womanly," Sam quipped back, sipping his wine.  

Mac laughed and walked off to break up the corner of snarky princesses with his queen added in.  Her hair looked wonderful with the jeweled clips and ribbons in it.  The toga fit her shapely figure well.  She had tied hers in a special knot underneath the breasts so they still stood high and firm even after so long.  Mac thought she was as beautiful as they day they wed.  Mac smiled.  "It's pretty unanimous that everyone wants underwear," he said in her ear, earning a laugh and a hug.

"Ditto," Gregory complained.  "Why can't we wear a thong?"

"You own one?" Genjo asked. "I thought you said if you needed something that tiny you should just not wear any at all."  He sipped his sake.

Gregory glared at him.  "Shut up.  I found that curse to knock you up and I'm sure Cuddy could be talked into thinking it would be a good thing for everyone."  He sipped his beer.  "Did Sofia pick the drinks?"  Genjo nodded.  "I didn't figure Xander did since he claims the whole wine cellar is poisoned."

"It may be," Mac said.  "His father was fond of that approach."  He sipped his own beer. A gong sounded and they were allowed to find their assigned seats.  Their invitations had seating assignments and there was a chart right outside the doors as well.  At least the seats were padded.  Mac knew from experience that this wedding was going to take *hours*.


Xander was outside enjoying the lack of noise Sofia considered music.  The ball had just ended and everyone had either left to travel home or was going to bed now.  So Xander was up on top of the castle.  It was quiet, there was a slight breeze.  It felt nice up there.  And best of all, none of Sofia's relatives could cry on him about how nice he had made their baby's wedding.  He was sipping some juice, getting comfortable.

"Fag," a male voice sneered.

Xander looked at him.  "I know damn well you're not my father, dude.  So just change to your usual form."

"Are you so sure I'm not?" it sneered.

"Yeah, because he's not really talking and apparently he's got a preference now of centaur or dragon."  He finished his glass and put it on the low wall.  "Why are you here?"

"You're going to be mine."

"I doubt it."  The demon lunged and Xander fought it off.  It did injure him.  Badly.  Xander killed it though.

A guard looked up as a cup fell next to him, grimacing.  "Must be one of the guests up making out," he complained.  He picked it up and sent it into the kitchen with one of the tired pages.  Xander had made sure that no one touched the staff after the first try.  The guard felt something drip and grimaced, wiping the water off.  The second drip made him look at it.  It was bright red.  He yelled and ran for the stairs to the tower.  The other guards rushed up with him.

Sam was still up, and half dressed, when he heard the alarm.  "That must be what I felt," he complained, tossing on a shirt as he ran.  "Oh, shit!"  The guards got out of his way.  "That's not his father."

"We know, Princess Sam," one of the senior guards said.  "They got his nose wrong."

Xander moaned when Sam touched him.  Sam found where he was bleeding.  "Get Princess Gregory up.  Help me get Xander to his rooms."  They did that.  "Let my father handle the demon."  Orders were sent and Xander was carried down.  Sofia's father looked alarmed.  "It was a demon attack, nothing to do with the wedding.  It went after Xander."

"Thank the Gods," he muttered, crossing himself.

Sam kicked in the door and they put Xander on the special pad they had gotten him for his bed.  It was washable.  "Rags," he ordered.  Some were handed in.  Gregory limped in with the local healer after him.  "Dad, go deal with the damn demon!" he ordered when he spotted him.  John ran off to do that.

Gregory looked. "Move, Sam."  Sam shifted out of the way.  "I need into the injury."

"It's bleeding hard."

"I can tell."  Sam moved and let him look at it then went back to putting pressure on it.  "Stitching kit," he ordered.  A few were gotten for him.  Gregory settled in to do the delicate internal stitches then the less delicate external ones.  "Why would a demon come after him?"

"They think he'd be a fun prize," Sam said dryly.  "The same as they do me."  They shared a look and Sam got a cool cloth to wipe down Xander's face.  "Is the sweating normal?"

"Means he's in pain."

"Okay.  Can we administer a pain killer?"

"No, not yet."  Gregory finished and cleaned up the mess around the wound with the cool cloth.  He checked, Xander was a bit pale and probably had lost a good bit of blood.  They got him some water Sam made him drink.  Gregory settled himself in there to keep watch.

Sam looked up.  "Someone tell the queen a demon attacked him again?"

"No way in hell.  He's drunk and mean," one of the guards complained.

"Think about how mean he'll be if he doesn't hear tonight," Gregory said.  The guard shuddered but delegated the task to a page.


Gojyo, who was nominally sober, answered the door at the delicate tap.  "If you tell me there's been a problem, an attack, or a demon I'm going to kill someone," he said bluntly.

"Demon attack on the king," the page said.  "Princess Gregory and Princess Sam are taking care of him.  It looked like a bad slice into his side."  He fled because the queen's warrior was growling loudly.

Gojyo slammed the door shut.  "Hakkai, did you sense the demon?" he yelled.

"What demon, you demented water sprite?" Genjo yelled back.

"The one that sliced into your husband's side?"

"EXCUSE ME!" was yelled in a few voices.  Gojyo got out of the way to grab another beer.

"Merciful Goddess, does every single bad thing in the world have to love Xander?" Goku complained as he followed Hakkai and Genjo.  "I mean, can't he have a nice, relaxing few weeks?  Nothing with an attack or anything?  Why does it always have to be him and Sam!"

"Shut up!" Genjo complained, smacking him with the fan.  "Rant later!"  They rushed into the suite.  "Gregory?  An explanation?" Genjo asked a bit too calmly.

Gregory knew that tone of voice.  "Demon on the higher tower, stabbed him on the side.  He's lost a good bit of blood but not critically.  Has a slight fever from the pain.  We've already cleaned and stitched the wound," he said, getting out of the way.  Genjo climbed onto the bed to look at his spouse.  "Sam's got the bathing rights for the moment but I'm sure he'd let you do it so he could go change and take off the makeup."

Sam came out of the bathroom, his jeans slung low on his hips, his t-shirt damp with spots of blood. His eyeliner was a bit smudged from the sweating but otherwise he was hot looking.  "Genjo, here, clean him up?"

"I can do that."  He took the cloth and wrung it out, then carefully wiped off the sweat.  "Why did the demon attack him?"

Sam shrugged.  "No clue.  He managed to kill it."  That got a nod.  "It was our sort of demon, not the banishing kind."  He took off the t-shirt to wipe off the blood and water on his stomach from holding Xander.

Xander groaned and pushed at Genjo.  "No liquor.  Can't stand it," he muttered.  "Eww."

Genjo calmed himself and went to rinse out his mouth.  He came back and took over the bathing duties.  "Sorry.  The wedding drove me nuts."

Xander blinked at him.  "It's you."

"It is me.  Why did a demon show up for you?"

"Tried to be my father.  Bragged I'd be his."  He winced.  "Must I lay on this pad?"

"Yes.  It's keeping the water off the bed," Sam noted.  He backed off.  "I'll let Genjo fuss over you, Xander, and I'll come back when he's tired."  Genjo and Hakkai both smiled at him.  "Let me go finish cleaning up for the night."  He walked off.  He saw the flash.  "I'd hope that wasn't a picture," he said smoothly.

"No, Princess Sam," the photographer quipped and ran for his life.

Sam shook his head.  "At least the jeans are better than a toga."

Genjo sat next to Xander to fuss over him.  "You don't have to," Xander said quietly.

Genjo hit him with the fan.  "Shut up, Xander.  It's my right to fuss if I want to fuss."

"Okay.  As long as you want to."  He curled up around his injury and got comfortable.  "Thank you for guarding me tonight," he whispered as he fell asleep.

"It's not a hardship," Genjo promised, smoothing over the damp hair.

Hakkai smiled.  That was very good of Genjo.  He was finally relaxing around Xander.


John sneered at the demon that had approached him.  He killed it.  The demon's scream alerted the guards but they let him handle it.  "That's it," John decided.  "I'm adding new protections to the kingdom since there's a few already laid."  He walked inside.  "Dean," he called over the fire calling system.

Dean appeared.  "Dad, what are you doing at Xander's?"

"Your brother said I had to represent the family at the wedding."

"So, is there a picture of you in the toga?" he quipped with an evil smirk.

"Hell no!"

The nearby page smiled at him.  "The new pictures that the engineers at the academy created were taken of each guest, King John.  It will be about two days from now but I'm sure they did get you in your wedding finery."

Dean grinned at the page.  "I want a copy."

"I believe they can copy them, Prince Dean."  He left because John was looking less than happy.  Though most of the staff had enjoyed him in a toga all night with the makeup.

"Whatever," John noted.  "I need Castiel."

"Sure.  Cas?  Dad wants you," Dean called.  Castiel joined Dean.  "What happened this time?"

"That demon you got, Castiel, his other half is sending demons to take out Xander."  Castiel started to look pissed off.  That was a look that made most of his family flee if they were sane and wise.  "I need you and a few others in your family to help me set some new protections up."

"I can do so.  My brother Gabriel wants to stalk Sam."  He looked back.  "What?" he demanded.  "I'm sure there are pictures, yes, Gabriel."

"The page said they got everyone," John said grimly.

"Good, then we want copies of yours and Sammy's, dad."  Dean hung up.  That would pay his dad back for being such a bitch about Sammy.

Castiel looked at his spouse.  "Do not make me slay you for going evil."

"We'll soon have pictures of Dad in a toga with makeup."  He grinned.

"It's a spouse's job to cure those sort of evil thoughts," Gabriel called as he walked off cackling.

"Then who takes yours?" Cas called after him.

"My desires for your brother-in-law when I'm lucky enough to have ten quiet minutes," Gabriel shot back with an evil smirk.

"Sammy needs more than ten minutes, Gabriel.  Dad had him poisoned when it went to Xander's family."

Gabriel paused and stared at him.  "That poison?" he asked, looking faintly interested.  Dean smirked and nodded.  "I will work on my stamina."  He walked off happier.  That meant that Sam was perpetually horny. Yes!

Dean and Castiel shared a look.  "If he and Sammy get it on, they do," Dean decided.

"At least my brother will treat him well."

"Probably as good as Xander would've."  They walked off to talk to Cas's mother about the protections. The family couldn't *officially* do it as it was against their religion and Xander's people didn't officially share their religion.  But she would ask a few of the family members if they would help.


Xander rolled over the next morning, holding his side.  "Goddess, did it puncture something?" he complained, making himself sit up.

Genjo pushed him back down.  "Rest.  I'll have breakfast brought up."

"I need the bathroom first," Xander panted.  Genjo helped him get vertical and watched him walk in there.  Then helped him back into bed.  "Thank you, and for not wanting to help in there.  That's kind of more kinky than I like."

Genjo smiled.  "Not my thing either."  He rang the bell for the maid.  "Get us breakfast."  She nodded and passed that on before coming in to straighten things up.  "Gregory stitched you."

"He's an excellent doctor even if he is a pain in the ass.  His ranking proves that."

"How do they nominate?" Genjo asked.  "I know it is a nominated line instead of a bloodline."

Xander shifted, moving closer to him.  "All the excellent doctors are offered a chance to take a test.  That ranks them into the nobility.  That's why Gregory always complained about waiting to take the test."  He shifted again, resting his head on Genjo's thigh.  The silent appeal for comfort was taken up by some mild hair stroking.  "There's accusations of favoritism in the rankings.  Cuddy can't have scored too highly but she's had seven doctors in her family make it into the ranking.  The only reason she's not already king is because they have a law that states the king disappearing means they have to wait ten years to declare him dead.  She's the crown prince.  Though I'm thinking Gregory's going to nominate someone else when the vote comes up next month or so."

"In other words, you prove you're competent, take a test, and then you get to lord over people and fuck up the world," Genjo said.

Xander grinned up at him.  "Yeah, basically.  I can't imagine Gregory as king."

"No way in hell," he called from up the hallway.  "You need those new elevator things the engineers just put out."  He came in to check.  "The stitches don't look infected.  We'll keep them clean."

"I've always kept mine clean," Xander promised.  "That way no one has to accuse you of fussing."  He grinned.  "I know you don't like to fuss."

"Shut up, Xander."  He patted him on the head like he would a dog or a child.  "Or else I won't let anyone give you a picture of Sam looking hot last night.  It's the reason Princess Sofia probably conceived."

"Let me hide," Sam complained, walking in the other direction.

Xander grinned.  "Did you see Sam looking hot, Genjo?"

"I didn't take notice of what he was wearing when I took over keeping your fever down."

Xander smiled.  "Thank you for the fussing."

"Welcome.  Even if you did try to push me away because I had been drinking."

"I really hate the smell of alcohol."

"Some people do.  Some people take it to extreme limits."

Xander sat up to look at him.  "My father drank three quarts a day," he said quietly.  "I *loathe* the scent of alcohol on anyone's breath."

Genjo winced.  "I've never drank that much."

"I barely drink now and then and I always eat something that takes the scent from my breath."

"That's not a bad idea.  I'll remember that."  He pushed him over.  "Eat.  I can smell the food."  He stood up.  "Let me bathe and I'll meet you back in here in twenty minutes?"

"You can eat with me."

Genjo smiled since they had brought two trays.  "I can bathe later."  He settled in to eat and talk with Xander.  They did talk often but it would never be wild lust between them.

John walked in.  "I'm getting some of Castiel's relatives to help me up the protections on the kingdom," he told Xander.  "That means you'll have to renew the ones already there."

"If it takes blood, it'll be at least a week before he's able to do that safely," Genjo said.  "If not a few days longer."

"We have it planned for Saturday?"

"He lost a lot of blood."

"It only takes about a pint," Xander said.

"Hell no," Gregory shouted from the hallway.  "No bleeding for *any* reason for a month."

"To renew the protections?" John demanded.

"No!"  He shook his head.  "I mean no bleeding for *any* goddamned reason."  John groaned.  "Does it have to be him?"

"Yes," Xander said.  "Someone in line for the throne or the king."

"What about your daughter?"

"I'm not going to ask my baby daughter to bleed," Xander said impatiently.  "What sort of jackass do you think I am!"

Gregory backed down.  "How much is needed?  I thought it might be a few drops."

"It's a few drops on about eight places," Xander said.  "And one here.  So traveling to it, bleeding, moving on.  Has to be done within a day so we'll need some very fast horses."  Gregory glared.  "Has to be done by the same source.  If I had older kids I'd ask if they wanted to do it.  I do not.  So that means it's my job."

"Give it an extra week.  I doubt you can be on a horse that long," Gregory ordered.

John shook his head.  "There's probably going to be at least one more attack before then."

"Does he have to drip it?"

"Yes.  Has to be fresh," Xander said.  "My father sneered but tried to use bottled blood one year.  The protections fell and it took nearly killing me in a sacrifice to put them back up.  They weren't sure I'd remake enough blood."

"Shit," Gregory muttered.  "Why do we have to do this?"

"The attacks are getting stronger," John said.  "When did you last renew them?"

"Six months ago.  So they're still good until solstice."

"Is that what you were doing?" Genjo asked.  Xander nodded.  "Huh.  I had no idea."  He ate a bite of toast.  "No in-laws?"

"No, these are ancient," John said.  "More ancient than even your kingdom, Genjo."

Genjo grimaced.  "I've heard of such things."  He looked at his mate.  Then at his former mentor.  "Can we do something to help him heal faster so he's stronger?"

"Probably not.  We can't really transfuse blood.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and with his taint I'd say it probably wouldn't work."

"If I rest until then it'll be okay," Xander said.  "I heal pretty fast."  They all nodded.  "That means someone else gets to kill demons."

"Yes, I believe that's our job," Hakkai said with a smile.

Xander smiled.  "If you want to, go for it.  There's one trying to hide in the bathroom doorway."

Goku leaned in and looked that way.  "That's neat."  He produced his weapon and stabbed it with the rounded end.  The demon 'oof'ed and became visible so Hakkai could kill it.  "I've got to learn how to do that," Goku decided.  He walked off.

"I'm surrounded by insane idiots," Genjo muttered, holding his forehead.

"Just wait until they're your sons," John quipped.  He looked at Xander.  "So Saturday?"

"I can travel out late Friday night so I can start that one at midnight."

"It'd take more than one day to cover the entire border," Genjo said.

"The eight spots aren't totally along the borders.  I have routes I can go overland to get to one faster.  I'll need to set up fresh, fast horses at a few spots."  That got a nod.  "Tell the head of the stable that I'm doing the renewal now so we can add more.  He knows where to stash them with waiting grooms."

"I can do that."  John went to talk to him.

"We're going to make sure you rest until Friday," Gregory said.  "Even if there's an apocalypse battle."  Xander nodded that was reasonable.  "Want Sam to tell people?"

"I can probably hear complaints."

"No.  Bed and only bed," Gregory said.  He limped off.  "Sam, go be a regent if Genjo doesn't want to."

"Go," Genjo said with a nod.

Sam grinned and went to tell the people in the throne room.  He stepped up in front of the throne.  "A demon showed up last night."  The group groaned.  "It relates back to what happened with the Rosenburg dynasty."  A few shuddered.  "King Xander got mildly stabbed in the side so he's resting and resisting being fussed at by his spouse and Princess Gregory.  He'll also be gone part of this weekend to look at the protections on the kingdom.  My father said we need to renew them early."  They all nodded.  Sam sat down on the queen's throne.  "Until then, Xander said I can hear complaints so things don't have to wait and fester."  Most of the waiting people moved forward.  A few hung back.  Sam pointed at a page to find out their problems.

One of the commoners looked at him.  "Why you and not his spouse?"

Sam smiled.  "Queen Genjo has not a lot of patience.  I'm also the regent in case something happens and Amellisame has to assume the throne.  I have been since she was born.  He's never devolved it back to his spouse since those two have barely met a few times.  When Xander updated the paperwork before the coronation, she asked that I do it."

"That's sweet of her."  She handed over the paper she carried.

Sam yelped and dropped it.  "Cute, demon. Really."  She changed and Sam ended her.  "Do remember that my father is the better hunter of demons for all the kingdoms."  The remaining demons fled.  "Good idea."  John stomped out after them.  "Okay, first real problem?"  The next problem stepped forward so he could hear it.


Dean and Castiel got to the palace in time to see Sam attacked in the gardens.  Dean took off to save his little brother.  Castiel went after him.  These were not the lesser demons.  They were upper demons, which was more his job than Dean's.  Though Hakkai's chi attack looked quite handy.  Dean blinked at him.  "I so gotta learn that."

"Meditation," Hakkai said with a smile.

"And a natural gift for it," Castiel said, stabbing one of the demons brutally.  It went down with a scream.  The others quit trying to rush Sam and went after Hakkai, who simply arched an eyebrow up, jumped out of the way, and blasted the rest of them.  Castiel moaned.  He knew what that move meant.

Hakkai smiled.  "They took out my fiancee," he said very quietly.  "I decided that was wrong and got retribution."

Castiel bowed his head.  "I have heard of such things.  At least you are not ruined."

"No, not by any means."  He smiled and helped Sam take out the last one.  "Are you all right, Sam?"

"I'm fine, Hakkai.  They blew some sort of polleny thing at me."  He wiped at his face.

"Quit," Castiel ordered.  "We'll wash it before you rub it into your eyes, Samuel."  Gabriel and the others pulled up and dismounted.  "Gabriel, help Hakkai wash that pollen off him?"

"Of course."  He walked Sam off ignoring the other one.

"I'm a healer," Hakkai said.  "And Genjo Sanzo's guard."

"I've heard of your kind," Gabriel admitted.  They got Sam into his suite's bathroom and got to work cleaning him off.  If Gabriel had a lot of fun washing Sam's body slowly and carefully, well, it was good for a body sometimes.

Sam looked at Gabriel.  "Is this part of your stalking thing as Dean calls it?"

"Probably," he agreed happily.  "How are your levels today?"

"Crappy.  All the concubines in the palace are on the rag and I've never paid for sex a day in my life so I wouldn't even know how to go down and hire someone to help me lower the build up."

Hakkai blushed.  "That's fairly blunt."

"I find fairly blunt works for me," Sam said with a grin.  "If you really want to know, it's interesting.  If you don't, it'll drive you off so you quit annoying me.  Works *wonders* with courtiers."  He grinned more brightly.

"I'll have to try that sometime," Gabriel quipped.  "Of course, I find you fascinating.  You've never paid for pleasure?"

"Nope.  Never needed it.  If I'm that badly off, Dean throws someone at me and I pout about it until they pounce."

Hakkai laughed.  "Gojyo has done that to me a few times as well."

Gabriel got them all out of the baths.  "Come.  Let us see if your vision is fine.  Do I look magnificent or simply minorly godly?"

Sam looked at him. "That is such a cheezy pickup line, dude.  Did you learn it from Dean?"

"Yes."  He smiled.

"You look fine."  He walked around them.  He knew Castiel's whole family had been worshiped as angels back in the seriously pagan days.  Apparently some things had been passed down through the line undiluted, like egos.  Sam wasn't about worship though.  "Gabriel, the only altar I pray at is 'oh, goddess, yes, more please," he quipped with an evil smirk.  "And only for hers and my pleasure."

Gabriel shivered.  "If I did not have to be celibate before the rites I would make sure your goddess was properly worshiped."

"Let me leave you two alone," Hakkai said, nearly fleeing the room.  He did make sure that a copy of the pictures from the wedding and ball, and the one later that night were sent to Sam.

Gabriel looked at it.  "Why were you coming out of Xander's room?"

"He had just been stabbed by a demon.  Gregory was handling it so I could let Genjo fuss for a while."  He looked at him, sliding into his last pair of clean jeans.

"They eyeliner?"

"Tradition with Princess Sofia's people."  Gabriel looked at the picture of him in a toga.  All he could do is stand there and twitch.  Sam smiled and strolled off.  He ran into Castiel's sister.  "Gabriel's getting changed in my rooms," he told her.

She blinked.  "I sense a naughty thought."

He smiled.  "Yes, you do."  He strolled outside.

Dean and Castiel looked up from the pictures.  "Dad actually looked pretty damn decent in the toga."

"I had to fuss and nag to get him dressed and made up properly.  Princess Sofia threatened to have him put in a Page's toga if he didn't quit fussing."

Dean cleared his throat.  "The makeup's a good job, Sammy.  Makes him look younger and nicer."

"Someone caught me half dressed coming out of Xander's room after he had gotten stabbed."

Dean looked at him.  "Is that where Gabriel is?"

"Could be," Sam quipped with a grin.

Genjo walked past them.  "Less evil thoughts before it draws more demons.  I'd hate to have to shoot you, Sam.  Xander might miss you."

"Hey," Dean complained but he was smiling.  "I'd probably miss you too, Sammy."  Sam smirked back at him.  "Where's Xander?"

"Traveling to the first location.  That way he gets some rest before dropping the first drops at midnight."  Dean nodded, accepting that.  "I gave him the new mare that's really fast.  He'll change her out after two locations, which is about four hours of hard riding."

"That's a good time to change," Dean agreed.  "The other spots?"

"Plenty of fast horses," Sam said with a smile.  Gabriel was storming out after him.  "Dean wanted to see the pictures," he said, taking them to hand to Dean.  He walked off.  "What's my job during this?"

"Thinking tasty thoughts so anything that shows up comes for you," Dean said.  "With Dad or someone guarding you."

"I will," Gabriel said smoothly.

"No can do, big guy.  Gotta have you in the spell."  Gabriel pouted.  "You can stalk Sammy around later."  He looked at those pictures.  "Yeah, he was half-dressed.  Still made up though."  He looked at the toga picture, shaking his head.  "Somehow Sammy manages to look hot even in a dressy robe thingy."  He handed them to Castiel and walked off.  "Let me check on things like lunch."

"Sure," Castiel agreed, staring at the pictures.  "Sam does look nice in the toga and in the pants while shirtless.  The eyeliner is a nice touch for his eyes."  He walked off.  Gabriel plucked the pictures from his hand and stomped off again to stare at them since he couldn't find Sam.  "Dean, full energy means fasting for today and no sex," Castiel reminded him.  Dean whined but put down the sandwich.  "Thank you.  We wouldn't want to fall down on our duty.  Xander might get attacked again."

"Yeah, yeah."  Gregory walked in and took the sandwich, walking off eating it.  "Thanks for taking the temptation away."

"Go bathe," Gregory ordered.

"That's not going to help anything."

"I'm sure being horny will help power the spell."

"Only if all the beings in it wish to have the one they're protecting, which turns it into a personal protection instead of a mass one over the kingdom," Castiel said, looking at Dean.

"I like Xander like a spare brother but his isn't the cock I like to have around."  Castiel blushed and walked off shaking his head.  The cook was staring at him.  "What?  It's been *days*."

"Perhaps you should learn something from the queen about self control?"

Dean snorted.  "He's miserable.  Why would I want to be so uptight?"  He got up and went to find something to take his mind off the need for food or sex.  Whenever he got in the castle it was like he was suddenly horny.  That thought stopped him and he went to see if something had happened to the marker for the protections.  Xander had shown him them one summer.  "I'll be damned," he said loudly.

"Probably," his father called back, stomping his way.  "If only because you enjoy sex so much."

Dean looked at him.  "I'm sure you and Mom had sex more than twice, Dad."

"Not like yours can get you pregnant."

Dean pointed.  "You're a bigger asshole here.  I'm more horny.  Sammy's more slinky and teasing."

"I'll be damned, someone did lay an extra few runes on it.  Elizabeth?" he yelled.  She came jogging in.  She was Cas's youngest sister, hardly ever seen anywhere outside a classroom.  "What are those marks?"

She moved closer, adjusting her glasses.  "Oh, my.  Sam, call Xander and make sure he doesn't start!  The marks were screwed with!"

Sam leaned in.  "No idea how I'd do that."

"He's heading to the northernmost mark," Dean said.  "He said he always starts there because it's so far out of the way."

Sam nodded, going to fire call the guard post up there.  "King Xander is coming."

"We know, Princess," the answering guard said.

"Tell him we just found special runes on the protection rune here.  To not start anything or it can make things worse."

The guard looked confused.  "Huh?"

"Have him fire call when he gets there."

"Yes, sir."  He hung up.  He passed that out to the other guards in case they ran into him first.  Even if a few missed the old king they did not want the kingdom killed by demons.


Elizabeth came in with a book.  "I found it."  They all stared at her.  "They're markings to exaggerate any personality flaws.  So Dean becomes horny and jumps Castiel more often.  John becomes more grumpy.  Gabriel became a pervert.  Castiel seems to be the most normal."

"Nah, he turns shy and unsure of anything but fighting," Dean said, looking at his spouse.

"You can't have sex until we do the spell anyway, Dean."

"What about dinner?"

"Dinner may be possible," he admitted.  He looked at his youngest sister.  "Can we break them?"

"Sure, if you can get the Queen's Merciful Goddess down here," she said dryly, showing him the passage.  "It's been more than a year, right?"

"Oh, yes.  Since before the coronation," Dean said dryly.  "Xander's usually wiped out by the time he gets back here so he just cuts his hand, bleeds, and falls down on a couch."

"I talked to Xander.  He went to look at the one up there.  It's also infected with this.  We have no idea why."

Genjo walked in reading something, handing her the scroll.  "Because my brother's a former fucking moron."  He walked out again.  Too bad the jackass was dead.

She read the confession.  "Oh, dear."  Castiel winced at that sound.  She looked up.  "He's the one that summoned the higher demon as well.  Plus he said he marked the symbols as they were important to be dropped."

"Why Rosenburg?" John asked.

"She liked him."  They shared a look.  "He got her interested, led her on, knocked her up, which made her miscarry so he could sacrifice it, and then the sacrifice opened her to the further possession.  And this was back when Xander was ten."

"So his father's got the other part of the demon," John said.

She nodded with a blush.  "Probably, yes.  The whole warlord thing was the demon's plans."

"Shit," Dean muttered.  "Well, we know he can't really get free.  Will an Ever Tight set of shackles hold him?" he asked his spouse.

"Actually, yes," he admitted.  "Though we'd have to inscribe appropriate binding marks to keep him out there until his human host body dies."

"Willow wasn't human any longer," Dean said.

"I'm not sure if he is or not.  We would have to see."

John grimaced.  "Castiel, Xander put him in a very.... strong punishment."

"I've seen a lot," Elizabeth said.

"He's having...relations with dragons and centaurs," Dean said.

She squeaked and shook her head.  "Gabriel can go.  He's got a very strong stomach."

"What about the extra protections?" John asked.

"Not with those markings on it so we'll have to redo them again.  Xander said it nearly killed him last time?"

"It took a major bit of blood to redo them," Dean agreed.  "Not just a few drops but gushing from what he said."

"We'll have to redo the plinths anyway," John said.  "Do we have a book on how to link them in?"  Elizabeth smiled and found it, handing it to him.  "So we have six months to carve them, seat them, bless them, and then reactivate them."  He passed it around.

"Taking them out will take down the protections," Dean said.  "That means the kingdom is going to be open to major attacks.  There's probably been some that wanted to take out his father's lineage so it couldn't be passed on."

"But Xander's not demon tainted," Castiel said quietly.  They all stared at him.  "There is  a taint but not from his father.  That was due to him solving something and it infecting him with a gill spike if I heard right."

"His father didn't start drinking and whoring around until Xander was born," John said.  "I have the feeling the demon was there waiting and if Xander had been born female he would've been sacrificed."

Castiel's family all nodded.

"If we could, I'd say move his confinement to the sorcerous alchemist academy," Dean quipped.  "They deserve each other with how much bad shit they do to the world."

Castiel looked at his spouse.  "We'll fix that evil thought later as well."  Dean grinned because that meant he was getting laid.  All right!

"While some of them have been known to conjure demons, Mac would kill us," John said.  "If not his wife Stella.  I'm actually more scared of her."

Castiel's oldest brother looked at him.  "You have been alone much too long, King John.  Perhaps you should at least hire a consort?"

"Not my thing," he said, glaring at the idiot.

"I'm just glad the damn runes didn't get pushy when the demon was trying to push me and Sammy together that one time."  His father gave him a strange, pointed look.  "Back when Sammy was...seventeen?  I think.  That summer while his father was off subjugating the south-eastern provinces.  There was always *something* that meant that one of us was half-naked when the other walked into the room.  Sammy and I had to change more shirts that year, not to mention growth spurt Sammy that meant everything was always tight or had to be taken off and changed. Even Xander thought it was weird how often we ended up half-naked and together looking really confused and embarrassed."

"What sort of demon would want incest?" Elizabeth asked.  Gabriel was closer to he got to swat her.  "Hey!  It might be important."

John snapped his fingers.  "That damn jinn was that summer."  Dean slowly nodded.  "He threatened to make Sammy super fertile on me."

"Scion of hunters thrice damned," Castiel said, looking at his family.  Elizabeth's face lit up and she went looking for the prophecy book.  She brought it back open to the right spot.  "That would fit.  Samuel would have been underage."  He let Dean see it.

"I hate crack-in-the-head prophecies," Dean complained.

John took it to read over.  "That would fit Xander better but it doesn't mention him."

"The demon could not account for Xander," Dean realized, looking at his mate.

"It's entirely possible.  Xander does have a thread of chaos that seems to swim around him.  We saw it during that battle.  Him and Sam both had it."

"So, do we perhaps think that Dad stroking out and cursing Sammy while giving him that poison to deliver was prompted?" Dean suggested.  "Maybe to protect Sammy and Xander?"

"I wouldn't call that protective," John said dryly.

"I would.  It rendered Sammy infertile.  It meant that Sammy and Xander would wear out anyone *normal* in the bedroom.  Especially back when they were still kinda new to the whole sex thing.  It probably ruined the demon's plan because it meant that Xander was a flawed sacrifice.  Which is what happened when his father sent that unit to kill him and Xander made them *friendly*."

John shuddered.  "I can't even imagine."

"That much sex and the build up of the remaining poison in his system would mean he could not be sacrificed," Gabriel said.  "Unless it was as a total uninnocent.   Which would take him *willingly* doing things like a dragon or something extremely wrong like that."

"So the super non-chasteness, it saved him and Sammy," Dean said.  They all nodded that was probably true.  Which made John feel better about that.  "Then who countered it to curse Dad?"

"I don't know," John admitted.  "I never found out."

"Perhaps a demon that had other plans and this one's plans got in the way," Castiel said.  "Or one of the more active deities that people still say they see?"  He looked at his siblings.  Gabriel suddenly shuddered.  "What?"

"Perhaps the one that the Sanzo family prays to.  That something was meant to draw them here and to Xander to protect each other.  Otherwise Genjo would have died when he was younger.  During that attack."

Castiel considered it then nodded.  "That could be.  It also let them get to the end of their quest sooner, before the demon got too powerful."

"I don't believe in shit like that," John admitted.

"Any higher being could be either good or evil, or neutral," Castiel said.  "You've probably only seen the evil sort.  It could have even been a spirit that saw ahead and helped change things.  Some of the witches Tara went to can do such."

"So Xander being born male, or at all, meant that the prophecy was warped," Dean said.  "And he couldn't get it back."

"No, he could not," Castiel said, smiling at his spouse.  "So we must add to the protections when they are reinstalled."  The others of his family nodded and moved to take dinner in their rooms.

"Food, all right," Dean said happily.  His spouse quirked up an eyebrow.  "I'll get to you once I fix the gnawing of my insides.  Unless you want to help me eat dinner?"

"I thought we could eat together," he offered.  Dean got up and went to get them dinner then took Castiel up to their rooms.  Castiel's complaint about not bringing food into their marriage bed made his siblings snicker.

John walked past his son's room.  "Your mother would not approve of those table manners, Dean."

Dean glared at the door then looked at his husband.  "If he didn't lick cake off Mom, that's his problem."  He went back to taking care of all his needs at once.  Castiel made frosting irrelevant.


Xander came back to the palace.  Sam handed him the notes they had.  "Oh, fuck," he complained loudly.

His majordomo stared, eyes wide and shocked looking.  "Is there another threat, sire?"

"Only from my father consorting with demons."  He stomped off.  "He would've had to ask or offer, right?"

"Yes probably."

Xander went out to his wife's house, pounding before walking in.  "Someone needs coffee," Genjo said.  Xander handed him the notes.  "You're not marked in any way, Xander.  None or I would have sensed it on our wedding night."  He stared at him.  Xander stared back.  "I heard it was him."

"Where would he have made the offering or the asking?"

"The old temples?" Genjo guessed.  "Or....  In the room with the protection mark.  Because he probably didn't understand it."

"In the basement of the castle is a mystical spot of confusion."

"I've been warned about the basement," Genjo admitted.  "We can see and perhaps dismantle anything still down there."  He finished up and they walked out together, Xander sending for everyone else.  "The basement."

"We have a basement?" Sam asked.

"It's sealed," John said.  "There's something that went wrong there ages ago.  It was assumed it was alchemy or another form of magic that's no longer practiced or been rolled into the alchemy standards."

Xander smirked.  "It's not sealed."  He held up the family seal.  "Grandfather died when I was about four months old."  John groaned and hit himself on the head.  Xander led the way down there, getting them through the three sealed doors.

"I can feel the evil," Genjo and Castiel said in unison.

Xander opened a hidden door.  "This overlooks the room.  I know that there's an inner and an outer room separated by a simple ten foot wall.  The ceiling is over thirty."  He led them in there.  From there they could see the marks inscribed on the floor.

"It's a leak of power from the universe," Castiel said in awe.  "I have only heard theory about it."

Xander looked at him.  "You said you felt something wrong in Willow's castle.  Could she have been trying this?"

"Yes.  This is what the demon was trying to do.  If he could merge them it would give him immense power," Elizabeth said.  "If he could create a third one it would be unstoppable."

"Which Rory was probably prepping," Xander said.  "But your quest got in the way, Genjo."  He nodded, crossing his arms and putting his hands up his sleeves to keep them from shaking.  "So did my birth somehow."

"You were born down here," Elizabeth said.  "I notice in your aura, it flashed and seemed to get comfortable when we came in through that last door."  Xander stared at her.  "It did."

"That might explain the whole stepmother thing," Xander decided.  "How do I stop that?"

"I'm not sure," John admitted.  "I've only heard theory on it too."

"I can't banish it but the scripture," Genjo said.  He hurried off and came back with it around his shoulders as he had worn it in battle.  It was already moving in an irritated way.  The others from his party joined him.

Hakkai looked.  "A well to the powers of creation," he said, suddenly getting it.  He looked at Xander.  "Was your brother born here in the castle?"

"No.  He was born in town.  The story went that his mother had to go to the midwife, who had a broken leg.  There hasn't been a child born inside the castle since ... hell, probably back when the protections were done?  Amellisame was born in her mom's home village, about thirty miles away."

"Who was the last one born here?" Elizabeth asked.

"Savra.  She was the queen at the time's half-sister.  She wasn't in the line though, the queen married into it.  The last one in the actual lineage....  The one who built the castle's sons?"

"Who were strong warriors," John said.  "You're not fully of the lineage."

Xander smiled.  "Yes I am.  Grandfather wenched horribly."  John shivered.  "He fathered something like three-hundred-forty kids in three kingdoms.  That's why your family and ours was so friendly.  Your grandmother's sister had two of them.  Don's great-grandmother had her last one by him.  It was an end of fertility baby during a festival.  Almost every line in town is related back to the royal family somehow.  I'm assuming it's why we have the pagan fertility rituals here instead of further out."

"Probably," Dean agreed.

"Fascinating," Elizabeth said.  "Did anyone trace them?"

"He had nine legitimate heirs with his spouse.  Who sent him out to go wench to save herself.  I often wondered if he got poisoned."

"It's been thought that the curse on me that made me curse Sam and send that was done to stop his plans," John said quietly.

Xander cackled.  "Well he definitely couldn't sacrifice me, no."

Gabriel cleared his throat.  "In the histories I looked up before we came, his whole family was known to wench."  Xander nodded.  "So probably most of the kingdom is related somehow."

"But it was never kept officially in any record," Xander agreed.

"Our surrogate?" Genjo asked calmly.

"She's not from around here.  She's from Horatio's people if I remember right."

"When is the next pagan holiday?" Elizabeth asked the group.

"This rest day is a saint's day to an older pagan Goddess," Xander said.  "She kinda resembles Genjo's Merciful Goddess turned farm goddess.  It's mostly not really celebrated except to have a special dinner and give thanks.  The next big pagan holiday is ...  There's a feast to a new one at planting.  There's a kingdom anniversary right after that, that we're combining because they're two days apart.  There's....  there has to be one before solstice."

Dean snapped his fingers.  "That one where you took us to the village and we danced."

"Oh, yeah, that one.  Um, major holiday but minor powering.  It's more of a celebration that life is renewed through the harvests.  It's probably going to be combined as well as it's about a day before a saint's festival."

"It seems to work that way," Castiel admitted.  "Genjo?  Or you, Hakkai?"

"I haven't really researched them," Hakkai admitted.

"The last major one was the rose festival," Xander said.  "There's three a year.  The rose festival, the fertility one we had that other wedding around.  Then solstice.  Which I have to renew the protections during."

"No," Dean said.  "The holiday of solstice isn't the day you do that.  That's the saint's celebrated solstice.  Solstice itself is a slightly rotating holiday.  Most kings made it a solid one instead."

"Real solstice is two days before the celebration this year," John said.  "Next year's it's a day later."

"So we'll remove this then?" Hakkai asked.  Everyone nodded.  "What do you need us to do?"

"It'll have to be a multi-way assault," Elizabeth said.  She looked at Xander.  "Can you move castles for a bit?"

"I've lived here most of my life, Elizabeth.  It's not going to bother me."

"What about your spouse?"

"He couldn't feel it until I unsealed the first door."

Genjo shook his head.  "I had no idea about any of this."  They smiled at his disgruntled response.  "It's not fully evil though."

"Creation isn't," Xander said.  "The power of creation is one power raping another to create a third.  It's never soft, sensual love making but it's almost always violent and needy.  Most of the time it is forced instead of their own idea.  As I take it, the only time it's not forced and they do it with full consensual passion is when someone tempts it with an aphrodisiac.  Otherwise the making of new mountains and volcanos would be quiet and gentle things.  That is why Mother Nature is such a bitch at times."

"Well put," Castiel said, smiling at him.

"Very," Genjo said, looking at his husband.  "Can we seal this back up?  I'm starting to itch from the evil portion of the energy."

"I think it's been twisted," Elizabeth said.  "It should not feel evil.  It should just feel like the power of the earth."  They all nodded.  "I need to make notes so we know exactly how to cancel it."

Xander looked at his friend.  Castiel nodded.  "I can open the wall.  Take what drawings you can from up here."  She nodded, sketching things that she could see and sense.  He took them down into the main chamber.  John, Genjo, and all of Castiel's people were on alert.  He opened the last barrier wall and Genjo fell to his knees with a moan.  Xander helped him up and shielded him with his body.  "Rest behind me.  For some reason I don't think it will come near me."  Elizabeth walked in a brunette and came out with white hair looking unamused.  The wall shut and they left, resealing everything.  "Elizabeth?"

"The power was immense," she said quietly, looking at her siblings.  "I was right though, it is twisted.  There's blood.  Multiple types of blood."

"Figures that's what he did when he kidnaped about ten centaur females," Xander said.  "That's why he went into that part of the woods."

Elizabeth looked at him.  "I also sensed that the splitting he did, he did wrong.  Which is what traps him and why he drinks.  He's not as powerful as he should be.  He did it wrong."

Xander hugged her.  She quit shivering.  "Gregory?" he yelled.  The princess came in.  "She was just exposed to a shitload of power."

"We can get her warmed and all that."  He led her off, her brothers and sister following.  Hakkai as well to help.

Xander looked at Genjo.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."  He stood up a bit straighter.  "I've never seen that sort of power.  Even on the quest we didn't face that sort of power."

"I don't think anyone's meant to," Xander admitted.  "Especially not with how it's twisted."

Genjo nodded, smiling at him.  "Thank you for protecting me."  Xander grinned.  He walked off.  "I want a beer."

"I'm with you," Dean agreed, following.  "Xander?"

"No thanks.  For some reason I feel bouncy and a bit sore."  He looked at his hands.

"Go feed the succuba," John ordered with a point.  Xander nodded, going down to the dungeons to do that.

Dean paused as they walked past the wedding night room.  He mentally mapped it and pointed.  "It's right over the second door."

"The second power of the universe is creation," Genjo said quietly.  "The first is raw power.  The second creation.  The third is personal energy."   They all groaned.  That made sense.  Someone in Xander's past knew a lot about that room down there.  Which meant there was probably a hidden room somewhere.


Sam slid into a chair next to Xander at dinner.  "Are there any hidden rooms around here with books?"

"You mean like the supposedly magical tower at the First Castle?" he guessed.

"Where's that?"

"It's a horrendous wreck, Sam.  We can't go there."

"We can see if that room is still available.  It probably has the books we need."

"Have I mentioned the horrendous, falling in wreck that it is?"

Elizabeth smiled from her seat.  "You have, yes."

"Where is that?" Genjo asked.  "I haven't seen any mention of it.  Is it near that ancient temple?"

"No.  It's actually to the north, on the edge of the woods.  Back then, the kingdom reached from part of Alan's to most of John's and down to the south in the Rosenburg's kingdom somewhere.  There were originally three castles, mostly just towers, that they moved from during each special holiday.  This was way back when pagan ideas ruled everything.  There was a battle up there and it destroyed the town around the tower and most of the tower itself.  That's where Wayfaira Woods got its start from.  My father's imprisoned about ten miles from there.  Should I move him?" he asked Castiel.

"How would you move him?" John asked.

"Drug his wine or beat him over the head like last time?" Xander guessed.

"You clubbed him on the head?" Sam asked.

"I rode up, used one of those new smoke things that the engineering academy made, and when he ran out choking and coughing I clubbed him from behind.  I put him over a mare's back and took him out there.  He was out for a good two hours.  He didn't wake up until I was hitching him down.  Though the hangover flag was up so his head probably hurt before I clubbed him."

John and Castiel both shook their heads.  "Only you," John said.

"During Sofia's wedding, Sam suggested that we set up an official wedding temple."  Xander grinned at Sam then at his spouse.  "To give them a special place to marry.  We could give the commoners six days a month to use it for a discount so they have a special ceremony too.  Let those picture things be taken out there?"

"A small grotto for intimate ones.  The larger halls for the more massive weddings," Genjo said.  "That could be helpful and would keep the staff here less stressed."

"We could put the damn viewing room out there," Xander said with a smile.  "So when your parents finally manage to nag us into a renewal we're not here."

"Having a honeymoon suite out there would probably make the couple feel special, commoner or noble," John agreed.  "Can your people support one?"

"We seem to be a destination to go to if your parents don't like your wedding or the plans," Xander admitted with a small shrug.  "I'm not asking for a huge religious complex.  They'd have to bring their own officiant.  We can put it near the huge flower beds so they can pay for people to pick them.  That's also near a small town that could use some economic pushing because it's all farm folk.  That's where that really sharp cheese you like comes from," he told his spouse with a grin.

"That is good."  He considered it.  "Ask the people you go to for advice."

"I'm going to if you think it'd be a good idea."

"I think it'd be a nice one.  Six days a month at a reduced rate for the commoners would mean that they'd have to schedule it more carefully."  Xander plucked a pencil off the table behind him and drew on his napkin.  Genjo nodded.  "The tri-design would work with most religions.  It'd allow for multiple weddings too as long as they weren't too massive.  I know the nobility would probably want to rent it out completely so they can throw a huge, purse busting wedding."

Castiel looked and smiled.  "My mother would adore that.  If he does, Elizabeth, perhaps you can marry there."

"It will be some time before I marry, Castiel," she said impatiently.

"It'll have enough natural area so Horatio's people could comfortably marry there or some of our people," Hakkai said.  "Kitchens?"

Xander pointed.  "There.  With the new system that Charlie helped invent for bathing chambers and warm water pools.  Maybe a pond for pretty fish here?" he suggested, drawing a circle.

"That would be nice," Hakkai agreed.  "Someone might say you're tired of hosting weddings."

"They'd think it was because Sofia's mother kept trying to molest one of the pages.  It would keep things here more calm and regal and there could be the huge parties."

"I think it's an excellent idea," Genjo said.  Xander grinned at him.  "Did we report to any of the advisors about the Rosenburg issue?"

"No, I haven't.  I didn't think they'd need to know."  That got a nod of agreement.  "I did tell them that we were going to add to the protections but I can tell them that some research led to us having to do it differently."  He looked at John.  "Yours and Mac's people have great stone masons."

"I'll talk to some of mine.  I know many that work in it, Xander."

"Thank you."  He looked at the others.  "Are you going home or staying here until we can arrange things?"

Elizabeth smiled.  "I think I'll be staying if we can find that magical tower room."

"We have to tell the other kings," John reminded Xander.  Who nodded.  "I'll send around personal messages."  He leaned on the table, getting a sour look from most of Castiel's family and Genjo.  "I'm finished eating, I can lean."

Genjo looked at Xander.  "Now I see where you learned that from."  Xander nodded, eating a bite of dinner with a slight grin.


Xander was a bit behind so he listened as his advisors started their meeting.

"As King Xander will probably not be here today, mostly due to playing with things that only King John deals with yet again, we might as well get down to business," the chair said.  "We have three proposals to put in front of him.  Which one do we want to start with?"

"It was easier with his father.  He'd just laugh if he thought they were stupid.  Xander has us explain them so he makes sure he doesn't like them."

"Yes, but less of us end up in jail," the chancellor said snidely.  "I see we have raising taxes, raising taxes, and reopening the roads."

Xander strolled in.  "For those who miss my father that much, you can join him in the woods."  He looked at those three.  He sat down in his seat and looked at them.  "As for the protections, my father had them tainted in ways no one's ever noticed until it was realized that people have a personality change when they show up here.  So we've got to redo them at solstice."  The advisors all grimaced.  "Hey, I can lower them and let the demons that infect John's people come here.  Because we found out late last night that my father had asked one for a favor once."  They all whined.  Xander smiled.  "Which is probably why he infected the protections and why we've had so many demon attacks."

"I heard we had one at the wedding," the chancellor said.  Xander pulled up his shirt to show the cut.  The five men all shuddered.  "Against her?"

"Me.  The demon was trying to get me.  It's the same one we found my father asked a favor to."  He looked at them.  "By the way, I'm adding a suggestion since I doubt I'll be inclined to raise taxes.  We have a good surplus."

"The weddings have drained some of this year's," the chancellor said.

"Which is where my suggestion comes in.  Princess Sam suggested it to me and I added onto it."  He checked.  "Helga, where's the napkin with the drawing?" he called.

"I threw it out.  Sorry, Sire."

Xander got some paper and redrew it, adding in location markers.  He slid it down the table.  "Princess Sam suggested that we build a special place just for weddings."  He smiled and wrote out his ideas.

The five advisors looked it over.  "Would it make much money?"

"We've hosted how many?" Xander asked.  "Plus, with it being large enough for multiple ones or for some nobles to throw a huge bash of their dreams, yes.  I have plans of letting the commoners use it at a highly reduced rate six days of the month.  At least three of which coincide with rest days as most nobles don't tend to do anything those days.  That village is a farming village and grows a lot of the flowers we need to use for all the weddings.  Everyone in the meeting last night liked the idea.  It's encompassing enough to appeal to more than a few religions or those who aren't.  It can do large or small weddings."

"That's actually not a terrible idea.  It would keep the castle staff from going into a tizzy over details," the chancellor admitted.  "My daughter would use that and so would my wife so we didn't have to clean the estate as much."

"Three major villages within an hour that have inns for rented rooms," the chair said.  "Staffed?"

"Kitchen, serving, garden staff," Xander agreed.

"Would we really get that many weddings?" one of the others asked.  "I know we've had a few."

"We've always had a few that snuck over to the priests at the cliffs," Xander told him.  "They do about thirty a year.  That's how they fund themselves.  The ones my spouse and I eloped to fund their charitable orphanage that way.  It'd be good for all the flower growers.  It'd be good for the farmers.  The town could probably expand to include an inn or two.  Also, for all those viewed honeymoon night traditions, they can do that out there."

"How many kingdoms have that?" the chancellor asked.

"Seven," the chair said.  "My daughter's marrying one."

"Warn her that anxiety happened to even me.  Just to calm down and ignore everyone," Xander said with a smile.  "I hope she has a happy one."

"Us as well.  With many heirs.  Speaking of heirs...."

"Not this week," Xander said dryly.  "I'm back in pain from the touching thing."

"Why do we have a succuba in the dungeon?" the chancellor demanded.  "It's most unsettling."

Xander smiled.  "Where I was poisoned she can suck off some of the buildup without me wearing out four concubines every few days.  And if I get too backed up then I get sore to the touch thanks to that fever coma.  Princess Sam thought it might work and got his brother to find one for us.  The healers are looking at it to see if it might be a partial cure to let more survive it."

"Princess Sam has many good ideas," the chancellor decided.  "Is he your regent?"

"He is Amellisame's regent.  Until and unless she asks me to put in someone like Princess Charlie and his husband Ian.  She does adore them because they teach her so much."  He smiled.  "She asked for Princess Sam when I asked her.  I have it stated that Princess Sam and my spouse will co-rule if I die until she's of age."

"Yes, your spouse has little temper for those with lesser problems," the chair said dryly, rubbing the back of his head.

Xander grinned.  "Even I get swatted with the battle fan, people."  He looked around.  "Does anyone not like this idea?"

"Why not move it further south?" one from that region asked.

"Because that village is about perfect.  It creates most things that would be necessary for the weddings.  It's also on the main road so if they need something special they can order it easily enough without shipping drama.  If it works out well and there's a need, I'll consider opening one to the south near Abrax.  That's on a crossroads, has good farms and a slight flower industry that could grow."

They all nodded.  "I think we like it," the Chair said.  Everyone nodded.  "Which engineers are you going to ask?"

Xander smiled.  "I'm going to ask the academy.  The teachers are fully qualified and they always complain that the students need more hands-on work before graduating.  They're also going to be putting in that new hot water system that Princess Charlie invented."  He grinned.  "No more waiting on water to heat.  It was one of the highlights of his wedding.  King Mac was talking to him about using it to help heat his mountain castle."

"My wife would adore that, even if it did mean extensive renovations," the chancellor said, smiling back.  "How long will it take?"

"Six months.  They'll do one wing at a time.  Each of the houses on the grounds will get their own."  They all nodded that was wise.  "Princess Charlie said that theirs heats with a combination of sun's heat and fires in the winter."

"That would be wonderful," the chancellor agreed.  "Plus provide some jobs."

"And some job training for others who'd want the same sort of thing put in," Xander agreed.  "Plus construction experience since they'll have to do a bit of that to fit them in."  Everyone smiled.  "I'm writing a letter today, after we're done.  I heard the roads mentioned?"

"Must we keep them closed, Sire?" the chair asked.

"Right now, they're only closed to a few kingdoms.  The rest, the guard is to check their purpose, ask if they have any entrance papers since a few we do have mutual papers needed agreements, and then turn those who are from the banned places back to the road that goes to the east of us.  Otherwise they open the gates and let them in.  The guards are also knowledgeable about where the nearest inns and taverns are for road weary travelers.  I made sure they should be."

"Are we going to stay peeved at future Queen Buffy's people, sire?" one of the other two asked.

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know.  I know it was tough on her.  I don't think she needs the stress during the coronation and the grieving year that she has to follow.  I've moved back to a neutral take on her.  They're not allowed in the kingdom because there's still a crapload of assassins that former Queen Joyce gathered.  Our neighbor to the west between us is still paranoid that we'll attack him so he's closed his borders to us.  He's also sent some assassins and was holding those mercenaries who were killing our people.  So no, we're not happy with them.  With the Rosenburg dynasty ended, the kingdom is being divided if we cannot find a deeper family member to take over.  So far we've found one cousin who is in a religious order and took a vow of silence when someone told her she could have the throne.  Her abbot will not allow anyone else to upset her by talking to her."

"Who is deciding on how it will be divided?" the chancellor asked.

"The Governance of Kings.  We've had a few meetings about them.  We've had one about future Queen Buffy's people as well.  We all agreed she's not like her mother but she does need time to grieve.  She does not need the stress of remaking all the old treaties.  King Alan also thinks that it would be highly inappropriate to approach her during this mandated year of mourning.  If we don't find someone to take over the Rosenburg kingdom, it'll be divided up fairly during the meeting right after solstice."

"It's not a huge kingdom," the chair admitted.

"Alan was thinking that making the old castle the place where the lines are drawn from."

"The town there could be the new crossroads," the chair agreed.  "I've visited it and it's a nice town.  What did happen to them?"

"Things that King John found," Xander said simply.  "I don't want to spread that news because it can and will hurt their former people and if someone takes over they're going to be horrified and have a lot of work proving they aren't the same way."

"Like your spouse's quest's main enemy?" the chancellor agreed.  Xander nodded.  "Oh, dear."

"Which is how my father learned to ask for a favor."  He shifted.  "I may be moving him to another part of the woods.  If so, I'm not sure if a humiliating spectacle would make the people feel better or not."

"Probably not, sire.  They're still healing over all the things that went on," the chair said.  "Did you have more plans?"

"I did."  He smiled.  "This solstice, we're going to be replacing the protections.  So the party here at the castle will be a bit...quiet.  We'll try to have one but King John and his sons, Prince Dean's husband Castiel's family, and my own may disappear now and then to handle something."  They all nodded and made notes.  "King John is handling the relaying of the protections."

"Did we forgive him?" the chair asked.

"Not formally.  I'll never fully forgive him, nor will I forget.  He hasn't asked for it however."  That got a nod and an unhappy look.  "Think about what I'd be like if I didn't have to wear this out."

"Good point.  Someone saw you going into the forbidden areas of the castle?"

"Yes.  The information we got from the Rosenburg incident led us to look down there for more information.  Which means we found out where my father made that questionable choice.  Which is also why Castiel's family has been here."  They all nodded.  "I made sure it is resealed and no one else can get to it."

"Excellent, sire.  Will you have to go back down?"

"Yes.  To link in the protection runes here I'll have to go down there.  The whole group from the battle will probably be going down there.  That day is going to be a rest day for the entire castle."  They all smiled at him.  "All right, any other ideas that need to be asked for?"

"Raising taxes on taverns?"

"Then the quality of food goes down.  Which then poisons people so no one buys anything, which then reduces our tax income greatly," Xander countered.  "I'll consider one on inns bigger than twenty rooms.  They always do good business and I've heard most of the road inns have just raised rates."

"That's good," they decided.  They filed out.  Xander wrote the note, with the drawing, to the engineering academy.  He had it sent by messenger.  Then he went to collapse in bed.  Sam had promised him a backrub and Genjo was going to sit in there to talk to them.  The trio of sensible princesses would have their work cut out for them over the next few months.  It was best to start out as relaxed as possible.

The End.

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