A Kid's Strange Friends.
Dean looked around the cemetery he and his little brother were walking through, spotting someone else out for a casual looking stroll. With it being midnight, and this cemetery supposedly being haunted by demons.... Probably not what it seemed. "Do we know him?" he asked with a subtle point.
Sam Winchester looked, pushing some hair out of his eyes. "I've seen him at the kids' school." They shared a look and walked casually that way. "Hey, I didn't know we had a school field trip out here."
The other guy jumped but they saw they had snuck up on him from his blind side. He was wearing an eye patch on the side they were standing on. "Oh, hey. No, not a field trip." He stared at them for a moment. "Hunters too?" he asked dryly.
"Yeah," Dean said. "I'm Dean, this is Sam. You?"
"Xander Harris." He held out a hand. "I know you two from somewhere."
"Do you work at a school by any chance?" Sam asked.
Xander grinned. "No, I run a bookstore with an extras room in the back. But I have kids that go to a local elementary school. You probably saw me picking up one of them."
"Probably," Dean agreed. "Mine's in kindergarten this year. Sammy's is in the same class."
"I've got one that they skipped to first grade and one that decided she didn't want to skip and threw a fit when we talked about it so she's still in kindergarten. Bri's mine."
"We're Bobby and Missy's parents," Sam said with a grin.
"Ah! Bri's talked about your two little pouncing heathens who helped her get the bullies from her sister's class last week. Nice work you taught them." They grinned. "So, work or pleasure bring you out tonight?"
"Work," Dean said, shifting to glance around. "We've been tracking some rumors of a large, horned demon that keeps scaring the crap out of people out here. He's been said to be causing some chaos."
"Horned... slime?" They shook their heads. "Huh. That'd probably be D'Hoffryn then. He's the head over all the vengeance demons."
"How do you know that?" Sam asked.
"I dated one of his when she was fired." He grinned. "She's the reason I have kids. After she was killed, we found out she left a time delayed curse on me to give me a family. She knew I wanted one but I wouldn't make her give birth or help me raise one so she set it to go off once I got over my grief from losing her and was in a stable place. I get back from Africa and found out I had twins thanks to D'Hoffryn, who giggled his horns nearly loose because of it." He grinned. "Winchester..... If I remember right, aren't you guys traveling hunters?"
"Sammy caught mono," Dean said dryly. "We're stuck while he's sick, tired, and weak."
He nodded. "I can understand that fully. We had a few slayers with it." They looked confused. Xander grinned. "I work with the Watchers Council. The old Sunnydale group I was part of is now the head of it." They both took a step back. "Willow's back to normal, guys. Really. She's over her grief and all that stuff." He leaned against a headstone, looking around. "I can feel you, D'Hoffryn." He appeared, looking amused. "Long time no see. You haven't even checked on the twins recently. Something horrible going on that we need to tell a slayer about?"
"No, I needed you both here because we have a problem like your curse going on." Xander smirked at him, shaking his head slightly. "We have three souls that have to come back. It's very important that they come back."
"Like prophecy important, slayer or chosen one important, or they're annoying the crap outta you guys so you want them gone important?" Xander asked.
"Do we know how to kill this thing if it ends up being dangerous?" Sam whispered to Xander.
Xander grinned. "Anya did tell me how, yeah. She had PMS and was really pissed at him." He looked at the head demon again. "Which is it?"
"Two of them are annoying everyone in hell and beyond," he admitted. "The other is important in the future. Once all the slayers fall, she'll be the one to revive them, though we're not sure she'll come back as a female. That's roulette you know."
Xander stared at him. "What do you mean the slayers are going to fall?" he asked with fake casualness. They could hear the ice under the words.
D'Hoffryn took a step back before answering. "The one who wanted the one there," he said with a point at Sam, "has a new plan. She's mad at Summers for stopping her plans with the First."
"Uh-huh," Xander said dryly.
"Lilith's back?" Dean demanded.
D'Hoffryn nodded with an evil smirk. "She is. She's not the usual Sunnydale style apocalypse. She's much more modern."
"So were the Bringers that blew up the old Council," Xander said impatiently, standing upright again. "When? If you tell me and give me more info so we can stop the bitch, we'll see what we can do about getting them good parents. Dawn's a good age and she knows what it's like to be chosen thanks to her sister."
"It took three demons to mark them as rebirths, Harris."
He burst out laughing. "Hallie, Anya, and who?" he demanded with a smirk.
"Mestistopoles. They're *really* upsetting parts of hell."
Dean blinked a few times, looking at his brother then at him. "Is one our father, dude?"
"Yes," he said grimly. "And if he doesn't quit pissing me off he's coming back as a girl." He glared at them. "There's a movement to make you both immortal so we never have to see any of you again. Especially not after Lilith's last fiasco."
"Heard about that but I was in Africa at the time," Xander admitted, looking at Sam. "I thought it was just me that drew demons that bad onto their heads for no reason other than being born."
"No, Sammy does it all the time," Dean said sarcastically.
D'Hoffryn shook his head. "He has nothing on this one. This one ended up dating an enslaved soul that was reanimated and killing people. Then made her want him enough that she gave up and went back to being a mummy. And that was probably the nicer one."
"You know, Cordy didn't try to kill me physically. Neither did Anya. They're probably the nicest of my former girls," Xander pointed out.
"Anyanka wanted to curse you so bad she managed to screw up your life in the guise of giving you what you wanted. Or else you'd have a new girlfriend, Harris."
"I do have a new girlfriend. She loves the girls and the mini-slayers I have staying with us. She thinks they're little heathens and going to go to hell for their pranks but she loves 'em anyway." He grinned sweetly. "And she knows about hunting since she's a As'Watna assassin demon who retired last year."
Dean whimpered, staring at Xander in horror. "You're dating a what?"
Xander grinned but shrugged one-sidedly. "She's nice. She's sweet to me and the girls. She's great in bed and she doesn't mind when I burn toast some mornings. She understands about apocalypse duties. She helps in the bookstore." He beamed at Sam. "You'd really like her. She's very nice and only tries to kill the occasional mouse that sneaks into the bookstore. Or the witch that tried to sneak in as a mouse and scared Bri." He looked at D'Hoffryn again. "You're here to deliver, aren't you?" he sighed.
"I am," he said, looking very smug.
"Uh-huh. I want dossiers on who they were, why they're being sent back, and if there's any future prophecies or anything about them. I also don't want them to be newborns. I can't handle that again."
"We remember you accidentally casting chaos spells when the twins wouldn't let you sleep. It was amusing when hell went fuschia because Briony thought it'd be a good color but you hated it."
Xander grinned. "That was before or after the teething?"
"After, Harris. Teething made us all take a year-long vacation to other planes because we had to stabilize ours. You nearly ruined it for us."
"You're welcome," he said cheerfully.
D'Hoffryn glared. "So I'm allowed to age them to around two or three if you want."
"Three, preferably potty trained," Xander said firmly. The demon looked so confused. "I had a hard enough time potty training the Bride of Frankenstein and the Dracula twins, D'Hoffryn. Remember, people use toilets, babies use diapers."
"Oh, that. That's a boon I can give you and the dossiers but I can't tell you more than there are prophecies about one of them."
"Can you name the prophecy or an approximate age?"
"That I may be able to do."
"Why call us here?" Dean asked. It seemed those two were so chummy so why have them involved? Even if one was their father.
"Because your father annoys me to no end," he growled. "He's going to be a little girl who loves ponies and flowers very shortly. I thought you might want to take him in. If not, I can easily give her to Harris too."
Xander shrugged. "I've got my two and the three mini-mites of terror," he said dryly. "Is three more really going to make much of a difference?"
"Probably not with how horrible and chaotic your children already are. You do know that Ethan Rayne is looking forward to the time when he can ask Amanda to join him?"
"I'll do what Ripper has so much fun doing and beat his ever-Janus-loving ass," he said impatiently. "If she wants to do chaos magic, she can learn the same way Willow did. Hopefully without the screw ups though." He blinked a few times. "Boys? I get a boy?"
"It's a roulette. We don't get to decide that," he said, looking impatient.
"I'd like a son," he said with a slight pout. "I'm surrounded by girls. Still. And hey, a boy could be me the next generation. Or maybe Andrew, not real sure yet."
D'Hoffryn shuddered. "That's a horrible thought." He snapped his fingers, handing over a sealed packet. "That's what you wanted. Are you ready for them now?"
"I don't know about them but I do have carseats in the van," Xander admitted. "We can do that. Let me call home." He pulled out his phone, dialing one handed. "Bri, why aren't you in bed? No, bored isn't a good reason to be up this late on a school night. It's a good reason to be on your bed working on a workbook. Not up answering the phone. Oh, your aunt is in a pissy mood and wouldn't let you read. Okay. Well, you know what? You get to make her life. Tell her D'Hoffryn is sending back three kids for you to have younger siblings."
His daughter, bless her little lungs, let out a shriek of joy that brought everyone in the house running to see what was going on. He grinned at Dean. "Bri's excited and she wants a brother too." She handed the phone to Dawn. "It's me. D'Hoffryn's found another three that need to be brought back before they annoy hell more than I did when they were teething. He's said one's going to be a girl. I'm hoping for one to be a boy. About three, hopefully potty trained. I didn't have to get through the twins, Dawnster. Willow had them that weekend while I was off hunting something and she did it.
"I'm not sure if she did it by magic or not, but if I found out for sure she did it by magic because she was disgusted with diapers I'd beat her ass. She knows that so she only bragged that they were potty trained. I did the three in Africa because diapers are kinda scarce in the middle of the desert." He listened. "Three. Yup. Please do." He hung up. "They'll pull out some cots for tonight. Any other cheery news? Like I won the lottery or something? Because Bri eats like a full-grown slayer."
"Anya's will is about to be probated," he complained.
"She left me more than a curse in it?"
"Probably. The other one it went to was Halfrek and she's dead too."
"Good point." He shrugged. "If so, I'll be happy with pictures or whatever." He looked at the guys then at the demon. "Any other reason you brought them out of bed tonight? It's going to make Sam get sicker."
"It won't. They needed warned about Lilith anyway, Harris." He snapped his fingers and three little tykes appeared. "There, even two boys," he said with an evil smirk.
Xander looked. "I see Faith, I see a girl who's probably their dad, and I see.... Is that Joyce?"
"No. She's quiet when she complains." He disappeared. "Have a good life."
"Yuppers. Always do." He felt the magic leave the kids, squatting down to look at them. "Hey, guys, let's hit the cars?"
The little girl looked at him. "The big idiot with the horns said you were our dad."
"Yup. I'm Xander. He chose me to be the dad of you three. I've got three girls who live with me and my twins so you won't be alone, sweetie. Okay?" They all nodded. "Good. Let's hit the cars. We'll head home, get a snack, have a nap, then we'll figure things out tomorrow." They nodded, trooping that way. He looked at the horrified brothers. "If I had complained he'd have made them all infants," he said quietly. "Or they'd be going to Buffy and that's not a good thing. Coming with us?" He followed the kids. "Left." They all went left, heading out to his van. At least they could all fit in there. Some little voice in the back of his head had told him to get a huge van so he had. Fortunately. He got them strapped in and closed the back door, looking at the brothers. "C'mon, might as well."
"He turned our dad into a girl," Sam said. They were too stunned to protest anything at the moment. Freaked out too. Their dad was now a little girl who had been wearing a flowered sundress and had her hair in pigtails.
Xander smirked. "He's perverse that way. D'Hoffryn isn't the nicest of demon lords but he's usually fair within his own boundaries of ethics. They're a lot looser than anyone else's, even some other demon's, since he's over all the vengeance demons, but what he does hold as honorable he does follow." He shrugged. "If we're lucky, they won't have any former memories."
He walked around to get in. "You guys can come back if you want. If not, pop over to the bookstore after school." He got in to drive, heading home. The kids were drifting off in the backseat, so that was a good thing. The dossiers he'd go over after they were magically and physically checked over by Dawn and then put to bed. Though, he could tell Dean wanted to have a hissy fit over his dad. They'd work that out later. Even if she did end up being an extra scruffy biker chick some day.
Xander opened the back door, holding a finger against his lips. "Napping," he said quietly. Dawn nodded, coming out to help him get the kids inside. Willow and Buffy were waiting. Xander flopped down in his usual chair while Dawn looked them over by tucking them into bed. He opened the dossiers, looking at them. "Huh, some noisy guy that was bothering all of hell that we weren't related to. Faith. And a pair of hunters I met earlier's father." He put it down. "She's the girl because he annoyed D'Hoffryn that much," he said blandly, putting his feet up.
"Xander, that's eight kids," Willow pointed out. He nodded slowly, making get to the point motions with his hand. "That's way too much for anyone, especially a single parent. Let us take the baby slayers?"
"No. Because Lilith, who did that bad thing while I was in Africa to the pair of hunters I met earlier, is pissed at you two for the First Slayer taking down." Buffy moaned, flopping onto the couch. "D'Hoffryn said she's a bit modern and wants to bring down the Council. Completely. One of them is going to be the harbinger of future chosen ones after she tries her hand." Two guys knocked. "Go let Dean and Sam in." Willow went to do that. Sam walked in with his laptop. "Hey."
"Hey. They in bed?" Dean asked.
"Yup, sure are," Dawn said, bringing in a pot of coffee and a stack of cups. "If you want sugar or milk, I'll have to find some." She sat down once they were on the table. "More from Anya's curse?"
"D'Hoffryn said three demons had to mark each one to have them brought back," he told her, letting her see the dossier. "How's the research team?"
"Slow at the moment. Why?"
"Lilith is pissed at you guys for the First Slayer thing. She's the one that nearly got Sammy and did send me to hell," Dean told her.
"That's fucking wonderful," Dawn said, getting a swat from Willow. "I'm old enough to swear if I'm old enough to be in medical school, Willow. Get over it." She went over the information they had, letting them see it and pass it to Xander. "Okay, so now we have eight kids in the house." Xander nodded once. "Bri's very excited by the siblings. She's looking forward to fussing over someone."
"If their last lives come out, Dad's seriously going to hate that," Dean told her.
Sam grinned. "But she was so cute in her flowered sundress, Dean."
"Yeah, but if he knows, he's going to throw fits, Sammy."
Xander grinned. "If you guys want, I can share custody of her with you. That's not an issue. She'll be safe here but I know that's a relation thing." They shrugged. "We'll work that out this weekend, especially once we see if they're going to shine through."
"No true memories, but some traits might," Dawn said. "I checked. Faith had none of hers that I saw. She's stubborn though. You could already tell he's going to be a stubborn one."
"As long as they're potty trained," Xander said dryly, cracking Buffy up. "I ended up letting the Dracula twins bite me as a reward, Buffy. That's how they ended up with their nickname of terror. Oh, Ethan's looking forward to Amanda's future."
"Fat chance," Willow snorted. "I'll trap him in a shrinking plane if I have to."
"I said I'd beat his ass," Xander told her. "You don't have to go all magicky to solve that one." He grinned. She glared. He stared her down until she wilted. "No magic around the kids." He looked at Dawn. "Any other good news?"
"We need groceries?" she suggested. "We're nearly out of cereal?"
"I noticed that. I picked up some earlier."
"No, Bri and Amanda snuck down to get bowls when they didn't want to sleep," Willow told him. "You're nearly out of cereal again, Xander."
"I can fix that too," he sighed. "Guys, do we have any intel to share?"
"We have a full diary from the Lilith stuff," Sam said, handing him the laptop, open to the right file already. Xander skimmed it then patted the nearest table until he found something and copied it off. "Are you all right?"
"It's been a long day. Adanne woke me up at six to make her breakfast because her stomach was growling and she had some nightmares."
"Slayer dreams?" Buffy asked.
"Nope. Her village."
"How did you get the three mini slayers?" Dean asked.
Xander grinned. "I was finding missing called slayers across Africa when I ran into their mothers. Adanne and Paka's moms both died due to attacks. Adanne's mom was a slayer who died protecting her village from some civil unrest. Paka's mom was sent away from her village because the shaman knew there was a demon hunting baby slayers. She died right after I killed the demon. Adanne's mom's tribe gave me Adanne because her mother said to do that if she died protecting them. That I'd protect them both. Halla's village was attacked. Her mom was a former Peace Corps member who decided to stay in the village when she fell in love with Halla's daddy.
"They defeated the inter-clan warfare going on then Halla was handed to me by her mom, right before she led the village off to find somewhere safer to live. She told me I could train her for her destiny better and keep her safe, then didn't look back. I had the other two with me plus an older one I found for training. I got Halla right before I got back. I got back and found social workers looking for me about my six-month old twin girls, Briony and Amanda." Dean winced. "The two older ones are seven, Halla's five. Bri and Am are both six. It's been wild so three more won't be much different even if two are boys."
"My son's mom kinda up and left him," Sam told him. "Sent him to me via another hunter, who was amused to say the least. Told us Dad would've been pissed. Bobby's pretty cool though. He never asked more than once. He asked Dean and Dean told him how his mom had sent him to us to be safer."
Dean nodded. "We have no clue how my daughter Missy came to be, but Sammy thinks she's evil incarnate now and then."
"She's a little girl. They all are," Xander assured him. "I can't even count how many times I've walked in to interrupt the girls from doing something that would make others scream in fear." Dean grinned at that. "No mom either?"
"She just appeared one night. No idea beyond what we found as a birth certificate that listed me and no mom."
Xander smirked at him. "That means D'Hoffyn's people were involved, Dean. Dawn, can you check to make sure his daughter isn't a reincarnated one too?"
"Sure I can," she agreed with a smile for him. "Usually that means someone over Lost Childhoods or something stepped in. Or like me, they were made magically somehow." Dean's mouth flopped open. She gave him a smug look. "It's not bad. Kinda freaky at first but you get used to the idea that someone made you for a reason."
Xander nodded. "Took us a bit but then we just shrugged it off and decided I somehow tainted her essence and that's why people want to keep her when she doesn't want to be kept."
"I haven't been kidnaped in months," she snorted, sticking her tongue out at him.
"Weeks," he countered. "I stopped the stupid football player from taking you out and using you as a panty trophy and then probably killing you. You do know that the cops arrested him for doing that?" he asked a bit smugly.
"I heard about that. I gave a statement and told them you had scared him off as a good almost big brother should. They said I was really lucky." Her sister whimpered, covering her face with her hands. "Cheer up, Buffy, I'm not dating anyone you would have."
"Not cute," Buffy growled at her.
"Yes I am. All the perverts say so," she quipped back, cracking Dean up. "See?"
Buffy looked at him. "Want my little sister? She's a cheap date since she doesn't drink and she doesn't eat a whole lot. She's even house trained."
"We can't have pets," Sam said dryly. "Motels won't let us and she'd have a hell of a time doing her education from the backseat with the kids."
"Be honest, those terrors of ours would make her read them all her assignments," Dean said dryly. "Your son's a book nerd too, Sammy."
Sam rolled his eyes. "He's not. He's pretending so you don't go scare any more bullies for him, Dean."
Xander snickered quietly. "My girls all ganged up on me and found Dawn's playcuffs the last time I broke bad on someone coming near them the wrong way. I woke up cuffed to the bed with Bri on my chest staring at me going 'daddy, you can't get free until you quit growling at the bad men. You're not Auntie Buffy'." Buffy burst out cackling. "I pointed out it was a dad's duty, not an aunt's. She said that was fine, some day she'd make a good dad since she could growl nearly as well as Paka can. But until then I could hit them with the taser instead of growling. Growling made the other mommies at the park nervous." Sam and Dean both burst out cackling at that.
Willow groaned, shaking her head. "Your daughter's warped, Xander."
"She's my little girl," he quipped.
"So some day she'll date an Incan mummy too?" Dawn asked.
Xander shrugged. "Don't know. If so, we'll be ready for it."
Sam shook his head. "You guys are so bad."
"It's experience," Willow said dryly, giving him a dirty look. "After Sunnydale, it's all downhill from there." She took the laptop to look over. "I'll get the research council onto her, guys. Plus we'll start calling around to see if anyone knows anything about her plans yet. Maybe Lorne's heard something." She copied it onto her own USB keydrive then left still shaking her head.
"You've got to forgive Willow. She's a bit uptight sometimes," Dawn said with a grin. She saw a little bit of white hair. "Halla, I could've sworn you were in bed," she noted.
Xander leaned back to look out there. "Come sit." She came running out to crawl into his lap. He grinned. "This is Halla. Yes, the white hair is natural. No one's sure why but she was born with it and it doesn't like to grow longer than her ears." He gave her a hug. "Why're you up, sprout?"
"Wanted to see siblings," she said, looking up at him.
"They're in bed too," he told her. "You can see them at breakfast once Auntie Dawn runs out for more cereal."
"Oooooh. Did Bri eat like a giraffe again?"
"Yup, both twins did," Dawn assured her. "I'll pick up some before I go to bed. Why else are you up, Halla?"
"I wanted to make sure we weren't going to have to go live with the bigger slayers since they're all nasty and do things that make us not like them."
"What did they do this time?" Buffy asked patiently.
"Ter said my hair was unnatural and it meant I was demonic. Then she went to make out with her boyfriend in front of us. It was gross, Auntie Buffy."
"I'll beat her butt tomorrow in sparring practice for you."
Halla snorted. "It's not hard. She trips all the time because she doesn't pay attention to her feet. Dad taught us better already."
"He did. I'm proud of how good you girls are," she assured her, getting a happy, beaming girl in return. "But you should still be in bed."
"I'm not tired."
Xander poked her on the back. "You have class tomorrow."
"Can't we stay home?" she whined. "We need to get to know the new siblings D'Hoffryn gave us."
"How did you know about that?" Buffy asked.
"He popped in and told Adanne so she wouldn't freak out at the magic traces just after Dad left to go cemetery strolling." She wiggled down, staring at Dean and Sam. "I've seen you at the school. I'm in Pre-K because of the birthday rules."
"That happens to the best of us," Dean said. "We're Bobby and Missy's dads, Halla."
"Bri's told us about them. She says they're pretty cool. Even if Missy does wear really huge clothes sometimes and she pouts a lot about her hair. Good job!" She ran off, going back up to her room.
Xander shook his head. "Sorry, tact isn't one of my strong points either. Can't teach what I don't know."
Dean waved a hand. "She's in the middle of a growth spurt so I got her bigger stuff. Some of it is still too big on her but she wanted to wear that one. She's always fussing with her pigtails too."
Xander nodded. "I know that talk very well some days. Amanda's a bit more goth than her sister but Bri's a fashionista wanna-be. She's never satisfied if she's got any wisps of hair free."
Buffy smirked. "We did good teaching the girls what fashion was so they don't end up wearing ugly shirts like you do." She stood up. "Heading home since it's not a problem. We'll call this weekend about the Lilith thing. Give us time to look things up and talk to people?" They all nodded. "Cool. See you guys Sunday evening." She left, going back to the center too.
Dawn shook her head. "Sometimes Buffy's kinda clueless. That's why she didn't realize you were watching her, Dean." She grinned at him. "Please hit on my sister if you want to. She could use a good guy who wasn't afraid of demons." Xander nodded quickly at that. She stood up. "Let me hit an all night grocery store for cereal and the rest of the necessary things they'll fuss for tomorrow. Are they going to school?"
Xander considered it. "Probably not. It's Thursday. I'll let them go back on Monday, once we're settled again." Dawn nodded, going to get stuff to eat for lunch too since they'd be home again. "She moved in because she said I wouldn't turn them into Cordelia, my ex girlfriend, with her here."
"Bobby says nice things about Bri," Dean told him with a grin. "He hates all girls but he said she was only slightly icky."
"She said he was all right for a boy thing," Xander told him, getting a laugh from Sam. "She thinks boys are aliens for some reason. Amanda knows that they're not, they're just strange and like mud a lot more than anyone but Adanne."
"Gardening?" Sam guessed. "I saw the flowers."
"She and Dawn do that every single weekend," he agreed. "Paka says it makes her nails too dirty. Buffy tried to tell her about demon goo and slime but my poor little girls nearly passed out at the very thought of getting that messy. They went on an 'eww' fit for over an hour and then demanded gellato to take the nasty thoughts away." Dean was snickering quietly but shaking his head. "Boys are so much easier."
"Trust us, we know," Sam assured him. "Bobby's a saint compared to Missy."
"She's not that bad," Dean complained.
Xander laughed. "Bri did say Missy was a hellion and wanted a motorcycle when she got older."
"Not while I'm around," Dean told him. He stood up. "Let us hit home for the night to let our sitter go to her own home?"
"Sure. Bring the kids over tomorrow to be bored with mine if they don't make it to class."
"We can do that," Sam agreed cheerfully. "If not, after school." They shook hands and left him alone to check over the kids. It was nearly midnight and he probably still had to get up in the morning to go to work. "He seems pretty nice and decent," Sam said once they were in the Impala.
"He does. Still freaked out about Dad?"
"Very. Man, if he realizes, he's going to throw fits." He started the engine and pulled away from the curb. It was nice that Xander understood hunting and wasn't being pushy about stuff. He seemed very nice and decent, but a bit wacky and warped by the hunting, the same as they were. "Do a background on him later so we can decide about dad's custody?"
"Already started," Sam promised. "When he had the laptop he copied a file onto it that holds a dossier from a former military project."
"Huh. He was? He doesn't seem former military."
"No. It says they were studying him. He was against their unit."
Dean tapped the steering wheel a few times. "I heard something about a military unit being brought down for torturing demons but nothing more than rumors."
"This would be them," Sam agreed. "I knew one of the guys in it. I tutored him after their unit got disbanded and he took the GI Bill out." Dean nodded once at that. "He was really sucky in English Lit. He got drunk one night and told me *all* about his former job and why he couldn't sleep anymore."
"He deserve it?"
"Where is he now?"
"He was going to be a psychology major and do therapy."
Dean shook his head quickly at that thought. "So anything good?"
"Hunting since sixteen. Mix of skills but they didn't know why. Not seen as very good but always in the right spot at the right time. Some minor planning abilities. Have you heard anything about their group?"
"Their witch going rogue a few years back, before the town got sunk. Rumors mostly about a hunting team that had a lot of personal stress but they still did the job. That their slayer was dating a vamp or two. Nothing too concrete."
"Huh." Sam went deeper into the group's background once they got home and he could get online. He figured they were probably doing the same thing about them. After all, you couldn't just trust intel from any person that showed up with it.
Xander woke up at the sound of little footsteps in the hall, getting up to see who it was. He smiled when he saw the confused look. "Sauda, is there a problem?" She jumped, turning to look at him, looking very confused. "C'mon, we'll talk." He let her into his room, settling them on the couch in there. "What's up?"
"Where are we?" she asked quietly, looking around. "I don't remember this but I seem to for some reason."
Xander petted over her dark hair. "I'm Xander." She nodded she knew that. "D'Hoffryn made sure you came to me."
She blinked at him. "I remember something about being John."
"That happens sometimes. Dean and Sam will be in tomorrow but I can tell you that D'Hoffryn decided you needed to be reborn. Since one of my girlfriends was his and she laid a curse to give me a family, you came to me."
"That kind of explains why I remember being John." She looked at herself then at him. "Now I'm a girl?"
Xander smirked at him. "He said you're a bit stubborn and girls are always more stubborn."
"Oh." She stared at him. "There's other kids here."
"Yup. Three slayers I have custody of and my twins. Plus now you, Everett Skylar and Caleb Dillan. You three came together."
"Wow." She considered it. "So what do I do with these old memories?"
"It's up to you. You can forget some of it or not. I'm not going to do more than help you work through any nightmares and those problems." She relaxed. "I'm here to be your new dad, Sauda."
"What does that mean? I don't recognize the name."
"D'Hoffryn decided to name you an African name because I spent a good bit of time there. It means dark beauty. Your middle name Patrice means of noble descent. He left clues to who you were in your names I think."
"We weren't noble."
"I think that's because something thinks Sam was."
"I almost remember that." She scrunched up her face then let it clear up. "Dean and Sammy are okay?"
"They're fine. Them and their kids will be over sometime tomorrow. Sammy's got mono so no kissing him. Okay?"
"Eww." She shook her head. "This is really strange."
Xander stroked over her head again. "It can be. You have the chance to do what you want with this life. While I work with slayers and the Watchers Council, I also run a bookstore. You're more than welcome to forget that part of your past and just have a normal life this time. That's fully up to you as you grow up."
"The memories are screaming at me about a demon. I don't know why."
"By the rumors I've heard, they took care of the one that went after your last family. Then another higher one came after them. They defeated her plans but she might be back after the slayers. You'd still be protected. Because we have major wicca on our side. And Dawn."
He nodded. "Really. You can ask them tomorrow. They wanted to see if you had full memories or not."
"I don't think so. I guess we'll see." She yawned. "Being little sucks."
Xander laughed. "It gets better. Go back to bed. We've got to get up at eight to be at the store to open it. You guys can hang out in the back area tomorrow with the new siblings." She nodded, sliding off the couch and heading back to her bed. He got up to check on the others. Everett was having some nightmares so he stroked over his hair and whispered in his ear until he calmed down. He smiled when the boy woke up. "Hey. None of those."
"What's going on?" he asked.
"Yeah, but not many. A redhead, sunglasses, a hummer, a gun. How do I even know these things?"
"That's what happened before. We'll work on those in the future. For now, just relax and sleep." He nodded, yawning and letting himself be tucked back in so he could go back to sleep. He looked at the one spread out on his bed, smiling at him. He poked Caleb on the side since it was clear he was awake. "Same goes for you. We've got to leave at eight to get to the store in time. We'll talk about that stuff tomorrow night." He nodded, blinking up at him. "We missed you while you were gone, sweetheart."
"Xander?" he asked quietly. He smiled and nodded. "Why?"
"D'Hoffryn and Anya's curse."
"Kinda. Not that it's you." She relaxed. "You're my son now. We'll work all that out and keep the girls from pouncing you two too much. Bri likes to sneak attack." He tucked him back in. "Sleep. We'll go over this tomorrow night." He nodded, snuggling back in to sleep. Xander checked on the girls then went back to his own room. He'd call the school in the morning. Those three could be triplets. So maybe that's the cover story he'd use for them. That part hadn't come with the paperwork.
Xander walked into the school. Dawn had the kids at the store this morning. "Sorry, I need them at home to acclimate the new ones."
"You have a new child, Mr. Harris?" the principal asked. "I didn't know you were dating."
He grinned. "My ex just died and left me her trio. Two boys and a girl."
"Are they yours? Because that means you now have eight."
He nodded. "I know that."
"Have you considered a vasectomy so you don't end up with more from suddenly disappearing girlfriends?"
"Only the twins are biologically mine," he said dryly. "The other three their mothers gave me custody because they knew I'd love their daughters and protect them since their villages were attacked while I was local. You asked that when you saw them."
"I did," she agreed. She stared at him. "What happened to this one's mother?"
"She died. Car accident. I just got them last night and was told. So the girls are pouncing their new brothers and sister. Bri's even gotten over her distaste of boys to pounce them. She thinks it's good that she'll learn how to get around boys before they start trying to pick on her."
"If you say so. Do we need to enroll them in Pre-K?"
"They're three. They're going to start head start next week when we get all the paperwork worked out." He grinned. "Will the girls have any homework? If so I need to know so I can make them do it on Sunday."
"I'll ask and fax it to the store," she promised. He smiled and left. "There is something odd about that family," she muttered, calling a friend in social services who could look them up for her. Just in case her instincts weren't wrong.
Xander looked up as a social worker walked into the store. "I got the new three last night."
"New slayers, Mr. Harris?" she asked with a smile.
"No. Actually, Anya's curse. Thankfully above potty training age." He beamed. "The principal asked me if I had thought about a vasectomy too." She cackled, shaking her head. "So anyway, need to see them?"
"Are they all right?"
"All three have some residual memories but nothing too horrible." He pointed. "They're being read to by Am."
"That's wonderful." She went back there to talk to them. She was the witch on staff and worked with the Council. Her boss knew what the council did and why. They knew all about the slayers being called. She was assigned to handle any irregularities that cropped up or in case something did happen and she had to step in for one of the girls. Though, she had never had a problem out of Harris. He was a fussy, bouncy, hyper father that was highly overprotective and seriously scary when bad people or things came near his kids. "Hi, girls, and boys."
"Miss Heller," Paka said with a smile. "Look, new nail polish." She showed off her nails.
"That's a very pretty color, Paka." She smiled and patted the girl on the head. "Someone asked me to come check on the three new kids to make sure they're all right with their new home." She sat down, looking at them. "I'm Miss Heller. I'm a social worker but I handle whatever happens at the Council, kids. So if you have problems you can talk to me."
Xander leaned in. "She knows, guys. She's seen the senior slayers in action." Caleb stiffened. He grinned. "She ran into Buffy on patrol. That's Caleb, Everett, and Sauda."
"That's a beautiful name." She smiled at the little girl, who was staring back. "I'm not a mean one. I'm not scary. I'm not here to cause problems. The state said we had to look in on this issue when so many girls from outside the country ended up in the same building." She nodded at that. "That's why I'm here. That and the school's principal was being a bit paranoid."
"Suddenly appearing kids can do that," Halla agreed calmly. "Does she know?"
"I told her those three were triplets and their mom had a car accident," Xander told them. That got a mass nod. They could go with that story. "That she was my ex. There's been any number of those and it's good enough." He helped the social worker up. "Any problems you see?"
"Get the boys their own clothes?" she told him.
"Going to tonight. For today they can wear hand-me-down shirts. Dawn's handling that."
"That's fine." She pinched him on the cheek, earning a smile. "You'll do your ususal wonderful job, Xander. I know you will." She left, going to make notes. They were adorable! Very healthy looking too.
He looked down at them. "The Watchers Council is well known by some who need to," he admitted at the curious looks. "It's cool. The principal doesn't think that men should be single dads. Go back to the books and I'll be out here doing the monthly receipts."
"Homework?" Paka asked.
"You're the only kid I know who looks forward to homework," Adanne complained.
Xander looked at the girls. "It's people like her who keep the store in business and you guys in cereal. Quit picking on your sister because she likes to study. She can be as brilliant as she wants to be. The same as you can." He stared her down. "And I would suggest that you do spend some time. Remember, report cards come soon, guys." They groaned. "And I do give treats for good grades." They pulled out their school books, reading them to the new kids instead. He grinned, going back to the register. A new customer came in. "Welcome to the Dimension of Books. Let me know if you need help finding anything."
"Romances?" the older woman asked. He pointed. "Thank you." She went to browse.
Xander went back to his receipts. He'd had a pretty good month. Dean and Sam walked in with their two kids in tow. He pointed at the back room. "They're doing homework because I give treats for good grades and it's nearly report card time," he said with a manic grin.
Dean looked around then grinned back when he spotted the customer. "That's always a nice thing. We take the kids out to the circus pizza place for good grades."
Xander pointed behind him where the last ones were hung. "C's get a candy bar. B's get a special dinner. A's get a small mall certificate so they can pick up something they want at the toy store or somewhere."
"You're much more liberal than we are," Sam said with a grin. "Hi, kids. We didn't get to see most of you guys last night. I'm Sam, this is Dean. We're Bobby and Missy's dads."
"We know Bobby and Missy," Bri said, making room for them. "Dad's bribing us soon," she said with a grin.
"Report cards come out in three weeks," Sam told her.
She stuck her tongue out. "We've got to go shopping." She gave him an evil smirk. The other girls cackled at that.
Xander looked that way. "You guys can be babysat while I take the younger three," he called. That stopped that joy. He smirked at Dean. "It's the torture of having so many girls."
Dean snickered. "Probably, yeah."
"Daddy, since the stuff we outgrew went to AnnaBeth, does that mean you need to go to Baby Gap?" Adanne called.
"You know very well I only go into the Gap when your Aunt Buffy drags me, Adanne. Hopefully she's hitting there today so I don't have to. That way I can hit the other place that I like better." Dean shuddered. "That's how I feel. But they have five or six shopping aunties so I don't have to buy too much for them." The customer giggled at that. He grinned. "They do. It's good. Oh, boys, if Buffy say she's going to turn you into a gay shopping buddy, just tell her clothes are evil and watch her turn purple. She'll try to pick on you about that at least once. She did me."
Dean shook his head. "You're insane," he said dryly.
"Now and then," he said with a manic grin. "It's being surrounded by girls."
Dean patted him on the back. "Let us look at kid books for our two heathens." Xander pointed at the shelves and rack of used books. "Thanks, dude."
"Welcome." He went back to his receipts while Sam went in to read to the kids.
"Wow, a boy thing that likes books," Amanda said in awe. Dean burst out giggling at that pronouncement. "He is!" she defended, huffing at him.
"He is, princess. He was reading Lord of the Rings at about your age."
"You did good teaching me to read so I'd quit asking you what things were," Sam said with a grin.
"Then Dad got pissed because the back of the car looked like a library had exploded some days."
"Did not," he complained.
"Did so," he shot back. "When you got into it, you had six and seven books all around you and on the floor of the car. He hated library trips, Sammy. Said it gave him his weight lifting for the week."
"At least I always returned mine," Sam defended.
"Even if Dad did have to mail a few back because you weren't done with them," he shot back. "Remember, you're not too old for me to toss over my lap and spank, Sammy."
"Yes I am. I'm taller than you are, Dean."
"Guys, no spanking in here. Spanking is done about three blocks to the left and up one to the north," Xander said dryly. "Let's not scare off my customers."
The older woman giggled. "They're adorable and it's nice that they can still play with each other."
Dean grinned. "Thank you." He winked and she blushed, tittering some as she picked out some books.
"A free day due to appointments and stuff." He smiled. "Needed anything you couldn't find? We do order for our good customers."
"I found enough for the next month. Then I'll be back for more." She paid and let him bag them up, sliding a new bookmark into each. She smiled at that and left the store. She could tell all her friends about the cute children the nice guy at the bookstore had. They were adorable.
Xander looked around then at Dean. "Back that way and to the right is the supply and research room," he said quietly. "I keep it locked but the key's under the register." That got a nod. "In case it's needed. Small herb stash for rituals and things."
"Gotcha. That's good to know. Used books are expensive."
Xander looked. "That's original price, Dean. The used price is the bottom one." Dean nodded, letting his little girl come out to make sure he was getting good ones.
"Daddy, I want one on horses," she pouted. She blinked her big blue eyes at him. "Please, Daddy?"
"There's a kick ass older series about a pony club," Xander told her. "But you've got to prove you can read it for me to show your dad where it is." She glared at him. He grinned. "There's like ten of them. They're older girl books."
She considered it. "Are they cheap? Daddy doesn't like spending too much money."
Xander nodded. "They're not bad. About the same price." He walked her back to the right rack, letting her see. "All this series is pony club girls. That one's babysitting girls. That one's vampire girls. And that one's scary books." He looked at her. She gave him an amused look. "The vampire and scary ones aren't bad for being completely wrong but they're a decent read. I don't let books I wouldn't read to my kids in here."
She looked at the first pony club book. "It's got some bigger words."
"But learning bigger words means you're smarter. Prove you can read the first page to your dad and I'll let him have that one for the same price as a used one."
She bounced back to her dad, making him sit down by pushing him down. Then she climbed into his lap to read him the first page. She wanted to be a big girl. She was a big girl now, she should have big girl books. Dean listened, helping with a few words when she got stuck. "Good job, princess. You can have that one." She beamed at him. "We'll work on it at bedtime." She squealed and hugged him, taking it up to the counter. Dean got a few others that Bobby might like, letting Sammy see and nod his approval. Xander handed him another one. "Boy book?"
"Yup. About dinosaur hunters. It's a local favorite but a bit higher so he can have a big boy book too."
"That's pretty cool." He put it in the stack. Xander rang it up and let him pay. "Need any help around here? Sammy's starting to get better."
"Dawn's had to pull back some of her hours thanks to medical school. I could work out with some part time help." That got a nod. "I know you guys travel a lot."
"Yeah, but like Dad did, we'll have to stay around now and then for school stuff. It sucked always being the new kid every few months."
"So hunt outside of the area and move every few years," Xander suggested. "With the hellmouth here, it's not like we don't have plenty to do. Plus most of the current slayers are heading off to oversea assignments in the next few months."
"That could help. Thanks, Xander."
"Welcome, Dean. I'm a nice guy." He leaned on the counter. "They have a few bleed through memories but not that many," he said quietly. "She was a bit confused last night but something was prompting a worry about the demon that was originally after you guys. I told her you two got it and she went back to bed."
"I'll talk to her later," he promised. "You're pretty good at this."
"I need to be for mine. I've got three slayers I've got to get ready. Oh, girls, weapons safety lessons this weekend. So we'll be at the Council."
"Yes, Dad," they all sighed.
"Can Bobby and Missy come?" Bri called.
"That's up to their daddies," Xander called back. He shrugged at Dean. "I've got to go over sharp and pointy lessons and weapons safety with the girls. I do it once a month in case they forget. Because they sometimes do. Plus some hunting drills and things."
"We might show up for that. Right now I think we've got a ghost to deal with on Sunday night."
Xander leaned closer. "Some of the shopping aunties are slayers who babysit cheaply, Dean." He grinned at that. Xander leaned back with a grin of his own. "I nearly never have to shop for anything except food and new shoes for them. All their school shopping was done by the aunties who wanted a vacation in the mall."
"That's gotta help."
Paka came out with a huff. "Daddy, I messed up my nails."
He looked at it. "We'll redo them tonight." She pouted. He stared back. "Instantly being redone can't happen. We don't have any polish remover. Ask your aunts when they show up later. They might have some." She nodded, picking at the stuff that had gotten messed up before going back in there. "It's amazing how girly they can be sometimes."
"It means they're normal girls I guess. Missy wanted nail polish but we had to talk her out of it."
"Oh, I'm sure they'll fix that sometime soon," Xander said dryly. "My little fashion plates won't let any girl go if they think she needs it. They started to help another girl in the class who didn't like doing her hair and things recently. Bri sat her down on the playground to brush and braid it for her." Dean laughed. "Seriously. The teacher sent home a note that they were torturing the other girl by doing her hair for her. I think your two made sure she stayed still."
"Kids, are we torturing the others with makeovers?" Dean called. Sam gave him an odd look.
"She needed to learn how good having her hair done felt, Daddy," Missy called. "Bri braids really well."
Sam moaned, shaking his head. "Ask, don't force things on others." They all sighed but nodded. Sometimes he had funny ideas, Missy had told them that.
"I'm not sure if they're the bad influence or it's someone else," Dean decided.
"Our kids are badasses because we are, Dean," Xander assured him with a pat on the shoulder. "They'll have to take over our callings some year and by then the demons will fear them like they're worse than we ever could be."
"True. We can train them in all the little things we had to learn on the job," Dean agreed.
Sam looked at him. "Hunting training after puberty, guys."
Halla poked him on the arm and smiled. "Does that mean they can't come have handling sharp and pointy thing lessons with us this weekend? The bigger girls never spar with us because they're afraid we'll whoop their butts because they're not paying enough attention. It'd be nice to spar with someone our own age. Even if Dad can't go out to find more young slayers anymore."
"We'll see," Sam told her. "If they want to." She beamed and hugged his arm then went back to her homework and teaching Bobby how to multiply. He and Dean shared a look. The young slayers were seriously strange but it was good that they were being trained already.
"Ladies," Xander called. "And boys. I can see Auntie Buffy coming up the street." The older girls all squealed and put up their books to go pounce her. She came in with them chattering around her.
"I found the absolute most cute outfits," she said proudly, pulling one out.
"Um, Buffy? Boys?" he suggested.
She waved a hand. "I didn't know what sizes they wore so I'll take them later." She beamed. "That way I can make sure they don't like fashion disasters like their new daddy does." She walked into the back, looking at the two new kids. "Are you two Xander's too? I didn't know he snuck in a few more."
"They're ours," Sam said with a smile.
"Oh, hi. Didn't notice you lounging there looking kinda adorable with a kid's book, Sam." She patted him on the head before stepping over him and plopping herself down. "What're we doing today, kids?"
"Homework. It's nearly time for bribes," Adanne said happily.
"I wish my mom had been so generous with our bribes for good work. I might've tried harder."
"So I take it you ignored your job interview today?" Xander called from the counter.
"No! I went but it wasn't good." She shrugged at the hugs the girls gave her. "Paka, what did you do to your nails?" She picked up her hand to look at the ruined polish job. "Hmm, still wet?"
"No, the book gave it a papercut. Daddy doesn't have any polish remover."
She checked her purse. "Me either. Just the emergency polish pen for touch ups before my interview." She got up to look in the bathroom. The girls had all put a basket of necessary girl stuff in there. "Ah-ha! One of us did put a small jar of polish remover in here." She brought it back. "This works by sticking your finger in there and rubbing it against the sponges."
Paka did that, wincing some. "It stings too."
"It can on the paper cuts. That's why we use the cotton ball method most of the time." She let her undo all her nails since her polish pen wouldn't match what she was wearing. Then she dried them off and started on the clean fingernails. "You do very good not biting them, Paka."
"I try really hard even if now and then they do sneak into my mouth," she said with a sheepish grin.
Halla patted her on the back. "We remind you when we catch you."
Adanne nodded. "We do. Can you do mine too, Auntie Buffy? And Missy's? She's never had hers done because she only has a dad and he doesn't understand girl things are necessary for girls."
"Sure, I can do that," she said happily, getting back to work on their nails. Missy wiggled until she gave her a grin. "Sit still. Don't want me to paint the fingers too, Missy." She sat still, watching what she did very carefully.
Bobby got up with a huff of noise. "C'mon, Caleb and Everett. We'll do boy things. Girl things are nasty unless you like smelling nail polish." They got up to follow him out into the main store. Dean gave him a one-armed hug from where he was reading a new paranormal journal. "Are there any guy things to do?"
"Only if you want to go polish swords and the girls might want to help," Xander said, turning the page on his own book. "Unless you want to help me unpack and tag the new box of books I've been ignoring because they're all romances?"
"I can help with that. Dean's the weapons nut in the family," Sam offered. Xander tossed Dean a key, letting him catch it with the magazine. "Thanks, guys."
"Welcome. Never too early to start these lessons for safety reasons." He led them back to the supply room, unlocking the door and finding the light switch before letting them inside. He closed the door behind them, looking at the very plain room with only a table. "Huh." He checked around again, finding another light switch. He flipped it and the illusion fell, making them all moan in pleasure.
"He has more books than Uncle Bobby does," Bobby said in awe.
"He does," Dean agreed. "And in more languages too," he said, spotting a whole shelf next to him in other languages he couldn't read. "Weapons are where?"
"There's a trunk there," Caleb said with a point. "And there's another thingy in the back." He walked that way, opening the small hidden door. "This is so the girls couldn't get into it." He grinned.
"Memories of before?" Dean guessed. She beamed and nodded. "That's cool. How about you, Everett?"
"I don't think I remember anything like this." He looked at the books. "I have no idea why it's got a tentacle wrapped around it."
Caleb shrugged. "Who knows." He crawled into the small space, opening the bigger door. Dean walked in and moaned, nearly falling to his knees. "See?"
"Wow." He walked over to check out what was hidden back there. "This is so awesome."
Xander strolled in and leaned over his shoulder. "Caleb!"
"What?" he defended, starting to pout.
"Show off the more mundane weapons, dear. The ones behind the bookcases." He came out to move them on their tracks, showing the swords and other weapons that they usually used. "Sorry, apocalypse vault," he said with a sheepish grin.
"I totally understand that need after the background check we did on your group, dude," Dean assured him. He came out to look them over. "This one has some rust, Xander."
"That one was on the bottom of a lake until about three weeks ago. I've been slowly getting it clean. It's time for another steel wool treatment if you wanted to. If not, the others could use cleaned. Stuff's in the trunk." He closed that one door and then left them alone. He had heard the door bell's jingle. "Hi, welcome to Dimension of Books," he said with a smile. "Sorry, I was in the back. What can I do for you two today? Sci-fi? Horror?"
"Money," one said, pulling a knife. Xander sighed and put his gun on the counter, under his hand. He was a bit unnerved by the one-eyed stare he was getting. He slowly started to back up. "Yo, just a prank, dude. Really!" They turned and fled.
"Oooh, can we hunt?" Adanne asked, bouncing up and down.
"You'll mess up your nails," Missy said primly.
"Pounce and tie up only, with Buffy supervising," he ordered. They ran out, Buffy behind them. "Before they really hurt someone." Sam gave him an odd look. "The neighborhood cops know the girls. They pounced someone trying to rob the bakery a few months back. Then Halla asked one of the guys if she could help him type his reports. They adore my girls." He grinned when they all came back in and Buffy had to redo a few nails. "They that tough?"
Buffy snorted. "Hell no, got scared of little girls. You've got a good avenging army, Xan." She beamed at the girls. "We should go over how to pounce again this weekend." They all nodded at that. Missy pouted at her. "If your dads let you, sweetheart." She gave her a quick hug.
Missy pouted at her uncle. "Can we go take pouncing lessons, Uncle Sam? Please?" she begged.
"Your dad and I will talk about it later," he said firmly, not looking at her. She had learned Dean's begging looks all too well. She came over to hug him around the waist, staring up at him, eyes moist and lips sticking out. "Don't do that," he complained. "That's worse than me pouting at Dean when we were younger."
"Daddy said I pout so good so I can be payback for all the ice cream you stole off him that way," she said with a slight grin. "Can we please go with them?"
"We'll talk about it later."
"Fine. You don't love me."
Sam glared at her, making her shrink down some. "If I didn't, I wouldn't give you anything when you beg, Missy, and I'd make you wear scratchy clothes instead of washing them, plus I wouldn't feed you. So don't start that. Ever. Am I clear?"
"Yes, Uncle Sam. I'm sorry." She gave him another hug then went back to learn more about being a real girl who was a bit naughty and could kick butt like her daddy did from this nice blonde lady who apparently did the same thing her dad and uncle did. "Can Mr. Xander hunt?" she asked. "I've never seen another hunter with an eye patch."
"Just because he only has one eye doesn't mean he's helpless, Missy. It means he's got a weakness on that side, but Xander's not like everyone else. See, Xander's really able to do more than we let him do, but we don't want him to be hurt so we don't let him. It's a complicated thing."
"But can he hunt?"
"He can," Halla agreed. "He's the one who teaches us slayers how to hunt." Buffy nodded. "He's very good at hunting things." She smiled. "Only having one eye means that he pays more attention to that side. We know it's been a long night if we can sneak up on him on that side and he doesn't catch us. Usually he does."
Missy smiled at Xander then at them. "Are there other hunters who're hurt like him?"
"I don't know much about your daddy's type of hunters, but there is one slayer who's now in a wheelchair. She kinda hurt her back a lot last year. We don't let her hunt but we do let her use her skills in other ways and she's retraining to help us by doing other necessary things for us. It all depends on how hurt and what they used to do. Just because they have a weakness doesn't mean they can't do stuff. It took me a long time to learn that one and Xander kicking my butt a few times too."
"Wow. Do you think he can beat Daddy?"
"I don't know. I've never seen him fight," Buffy said honestly. "Maybe we'll invite your daddies over to spar this weekend. The girls could use new sparring partners too."
"That would mean we'd get to have sharp and pointy lectures too?" Missy asked, pouting at her. Pouting usually got her what she wanted.
"You're damn good at that," Buffy said dryly. "Nearly as good as Xander is at pouting."
"Missy, no pouting or you're grounded all weekend," Sam called.
"Sorry," she said with a grin.
"We'll ask and nag your daddies into it, princess. Every girl should be able to kick butt. If only so she can shoo boys off her when she's older." She got up and went to talk to Dean. "Missy wants you guys to come spar with the slayers this weekend so she can have sharp and pointy lessons. Can they?"
Dean looked at her. "We'll think about it. We'd like to keep the kids from hunting until they're older."
"Something we had to learn the hard way, Dean. Things come for the families very easily." Dean nodded once at that. "I don't know how many times things came for Dawn because of me. Xander was teaching her self defense behind my back because he knew but couldn't make me see it. I was in my butthead phase."
Dean snickered quietly. "Can't imagine that one, Buffy. I think weapons safety is good at their present ages but I think it'd be more handy to have more defense and running away than pouncing and fighting lessons."
"Sure, we can do that. That's what Xander gives his girls anyway. None of us want the mites of terror out there in a real battle unless we're all dead and it's coming after them. We just have to plan in case it does happen."
"I get that. Things have come after all of us over the years." He looked up at her, grinning some. "It'll be okay. We can come help."
She beamed. "Thanks, Dean." She gave him a hug. "You're not bad for being older and so damn tall." She bounced out to talk to Sam, who was even taller.
Dean shook his head. "Some of the other hunters would be very amused by her," he told Bobby, who nodded.
"Uncle Bobby would think she was too tiny but I'm sure she's really good at it since she's lasted this long."
"Slayers are special," Caleb told him. "They have special skills and stuff. Halla explained that to us earlier when she lifted the end of my bed up to show off."
"Interesting to know," Dean agreed. He patted them all on the head. "Finish up and we'll hit lunch, kids. You can help me pick up some." They cheered and got back to work. There was a burger place up the street that would do. They came out, relocking the door once everything was closed up and rehidden. He handed Xander the keys. "Lunch?"
Xander winced. "Let me get the girls'. They eat like wild animals at times," he said quietly. He handed him a fifty from the drawer. "The grocery place on the next corner up has a good deli. Tell them you're feeding my girls and they'll give you what they usually give us. Get you guys something and it'll be good." Dean nodded, walking out with the guys. The girls were back to doing scary girl things with their hair. They didn't want to interrupt it.
Sam grinned. "We could have."
"The mini slayers in there can eat more than their fair share. I've seen Buffy close down buffets, Sam. There's a reason the Council has a really high food budget."
"I heard that," Buffy complained.
"Dean's going to the grocery store for food, guys."
The girls all cheered. They were getting hungry too.
Dean sat down, watching the slayers warm up. It was truly an army of tiny girls who looked so innocent and delicate. Until the first one got a split lip and then tackled the pouncer while pulling her hair. Cat fights had nothing on those two. And Xander calmly walked out and pushed them apart, glaring at them until they apologized and got back to their warming up routine. "Fighting over a boy?" he teased when Xander came closer.
"Xanria took the last twinkie in the building and she has PMS. All it takes is a funny look," he said dryly. "Girls, we have visitors as I'm sure you've noticed. These are Dean and Sam Winchester. They hunt demons too," he announced. They all stared and a few started to drool. "They're here to spar with you ladies, and I do expect you to be ladies," he said, glaring at the droolers. "They have two mini-terrors of their own in Bri's class. Do not damage them but they can probably give as good as you can. Fair warning." He got out of the way. "Free for all!" The girls pounced the new guys to test them out. Just because they were sitting down didn't put them at too much of a disadvantage. Sam was quickly out of his chair and battling against two of the girls, yelping when one pinched him. "Do it again, Mel. Watch me spank," Xander warned.
"Sorry," she said cheerfully, smiling at him and then trying to knock him down with her usual teammate.
Dean was surrounded but the girls were playing nice. He looked at Xander who only smirked and waved a hand. "You sure?"
"They'll face tougher vamps than you, Dean. Don't do permanent damage." He nodded and took a swing at one. She squealed as she ducked and they fought harder. Dean and Sam ended up against each other but a few of the slayers had been pulled out for being down too long. Xander watched. The girls weren't great. This was the younger class anyway. Barely cleared for field duties. Dean got knocked down by one and sat on until Xander declared him out. Sam decked one of the girls and the last two girls knocked him down with a tackle, holding him down too. "Hold," Xander called. He grinned at them. "They're not bad for barely being out of training. This is the lighter class by the way." He helped the last few up, checking for injuries. "Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Went half an hour." He considered it. "Shower, change, do katas before the ice cream and no hitting on Dean or Sam unless you're over the age of consent and reason." They pouted but did as he said.
"They're how old?" Dean asked, watching them all leave.
"All under seventeen," he said with a grin. "They're the junior class of terrors of the underworld. The upper one is Buffy's job to spar with unless I feel they're slacking off, which they haven't been this week. I think one's nearly seventeen so she might try to come back and hit on you guys."
Dean gaped. "How on earth?"
"Slayers are chosen and given gifts, Dean. The ability and knowledge of how to fight, strength, speed, faster healing, all that stuff. That's so they can do their jobs. When Willow opened the calling up to all of them for the First Evil battle, every one of them down to my girls got gifted. They have to train it. Or else they're in danger. There were plenty of them hunting the girls that didn't make it to Sunnydale while we were searching for them. That's how I got Paka." He shrugged. "They have to be trained as soon as possible and given ethics lectures so they know it's not a 'kill anything that looks creepy' duty."
"They're really good," Sam said, rubbing at his split lip. "Ice packs?"
"Freezer there," he said with a point at the built-in mini fridge. Sam got them both ice packs. "I don't spar with this group because I will trash them if they try me like they did you. I learned the hard way, by having it attack me. They're learning better by training."
"Not bad," Dean agreed. "Probably could've lasted longer and worked closer together."
"The problem is that slayers are meant to be single girls out fighting so they don't always work well with others helping. We found that out with Buffy. The slayer essence that activates them leads them to want to hunt alone. Buffy can turn into a real bitch when it starts poking her now and then. Some of them have been in training by the old Council since they were little but most of them didn't start training until Sunnydale fell in. I'm proud of the girls. They're doing better. They're learning what teamwork is too. It'll save them more than any other gift they have."
Dean nodded. "It can. The older ones?"
"All vicious when it comes to it. Most of them are overly trained or have been in combat for years now. Senior team girls go out in pairs on nightly patrols. The younger crew adds a member or two each night to back them up and to get some on-the-job training from their experience once they're passed into the field. All of the senior girls would have pinched you to distract you and then beaten your ass until you were staring up at them sitting on your chest with a wicked smirk. That's why I let the younger ones have you."
"Sensible and saving Sammy's butt," Dean agreed. "They're good."
"They still need experience and weapons work. But they're not bad. Some day my terrors will be in that group too." He led them off to the range. "That's our present weapons master. He's a douche," he said quietly. "But he knows what he's doing with them." They nodded at that. "We agreed that the girls would be exposed to every single weapon but he's an ancient weapons specialist since we use them most often. Can you guys teach guns?"
"I can," Dean agreed. "I'm damn good at it actually."
Xander whistled, drawing attention. "Peter, this is Dean and Sam Winchester. They're demon hunters. They're more shotgun and handgun oriented. Let Dean teach the girls."
"Sure, Xander. Show your stuff, Winchester. Our guns are in the blue cabinet. I stocked easy to carry, conceal in skimpy clothes, and lightweight ones." He sat down, letting Dean look over the weapons then stand in front of the girls.
Dean stared at them, then looked at Sammy. Then back at them. "Our family started hunting when I was four and Sammy was six months old," he said calmly. "Our dad taught us and then we learned more on the job and from other hunters." They nodded. "We can help you learn what we have." He smiled, pulling out a gun. "This isn't a bad model of gun. Fairly light for a guy my size but since most of you girls are smaller it should be good in your hand. How many have practiced in the last month on the range?" A few raised their hands. He looked at the weapons master. "No drills?"
"Supposedly. Most of the girls don't understand guns. We're more used to swords and crossbows."
Dean nodded once at that. "I can get that." He moved up to put the gun in the overhead projector that would show what he was doing. He went over each part, how to break it down and clean it. He ignored the two girls in the front who were wiggling as he talked about the proper method to clean the inside of the barrel. If they got wet over guns, he wouldn't mind. It'd be good for them. Then he took them to the range, helping each one learn where her center of gravity for firing was at and how to best aim around their breasts since they did get in the way on girls. Thankfully he knew how Ellen and other females hunted. Sam pulled a few out to go over what he was with the rest of the group. They needed more help. And a few were drooling on his baby brother but it was good for his ego.
Dean and Sam collapsed at Xander's later that night, staring at the younger guy. He was Sammy's age but it seemed like today had been another day at the store for him. The kids were all in bed, worn out beyond any nightmares that might come. Dean was ready to collapse. He had spent the time before dinner sparring with the younger crew again. They were good but he had made a few fight together instead of their usual ones. It got them thinking more strategically about who they'd want at their back in various situations. Sammy had went over the Lilith information with the research council. It wasn't looking good. "So now what?" Dean asked finally.
Xander shrugged. "We can wait for her plan to manifest. We know what she's planning basically. One of her minions likes to drink at a bar where one of the older girls temps as a bartender. We know she's in town. The whole Council is behind taking her out."
"Small problem, we don't have a weapon that can."
"The slayer scythe can," Xander told him simply. Dean and Sam had both been shown it and told about the battle with the First when they had asked. Buffy had told them. "I think we need to small team it but Buffy wants to go in en masse. We're having a present disagreement about that. I do know that Dawn found a mention of innocent's blood being needed for some reason. I think that's part of another prophecy though. Not real sure and neither was she. She was decoding it earlier."
Sam leaned forward. "It's a later prophecy and it looks like it's about Caleb regaining his memories. I was helping her with it before the information meeting."
"What happens if she does take down this Council?" Dean asked.
"Not everyone's here this time. We're warned so we've taken the precautions we put into place after the First blew up the old council. We already have girls overseas and in a lot of troubled areas here in the US. The younger girls are here for training until we farm them off to another site." That got a slow nod from Sam. "Technically you just saw about ten percent of our people, guys. Even if she takes out the building and goes after us, we've got alert systems ready. There's plenty of things that come after slayers. All but my three because they're protected by D'Hoffryn."
Dean licked his lips. "Why? I remember you said your ex was one of his, but was he hers too?"
"No. D'Hoffryn and I made a deal when we had Anya as a human. I'd quit trying to hurt them for hurting her. He'd leave me alone and make sure I wasn't as...attuned to demons as before. See, I'm a medium," he said, shifting some. "I've been possessed a few times and kept the memories of them."
"I've been possessed but didn't keep any memories," Sam admitted.
"I kept skills and memories, plus I'm also fairly filled with former hellmouth energy. Which freaked everyone out when we got to Cleveland and the thing tried to open to hug me on my first patrol next to it. Caused no ends of fits until Dawn finally figured out it was an energy signature. I sucked up so much of the old hellmouth's energy that it's tainted me to the point where I feel like Sunnydale to everything that can read it." They both nodded more slowly, paying a lot of attention. "Which is how I kinda almost destroyed a few demon realms during colic and teething times."
"I nearly destroyed a few demon realms. If you've got magic or something I'm sure it was worse," Sam admitted.
"Oh, I don't have it, it just kinda loves me and likes to snuggle up around me. I draw in energy like I do spirits. So while Willow has some energy, I have a lot more than all the others who lived there do. It tends to come out in wacky ways. D'Hoffryn made a deal that I'd quit doing things that would upset the whole demon hierarchy before bigger demons came to take us out for upsetting them and he'd mask my signature a bit. Then with Anya's curse enacted it made him responsible for overseeing my kids' upbringing to make sure I wouldn't warp them too far against all demons."
He grinned sweetly. "Anya knew my kids would be given a choice but they'd see the hunting and might take it too far. This way they got a more balanced view. Which means that all my kids look like they're protected by D'Hoffryn. Even the mini slayers upstairs. I can't usually use it to any advantage but it means nothing short of Lucifer is going to attack this house. Lilith trying would get D'Hoffryn in her face and he's the Lord of many higher demons. And a lot more owe him favors. I'm strategically unsound to attack."
"But the main building isn't."
"Slayers are a target. We all know this. Watchers are a target too. All Lilith could do to me is take out the store. And if she tries, the apocalypse vault I have for my own fun will take half the block if not more of it." Dean nodded quickly at that. "Again, strategically unsound since all demons know I'm the slayers' gear guy. I have been since I hit a military base to get Buffy something she needed way back when for her seventeenth."
"Wow. I thought that was a rumor," Dean said.
"Nope. It was a nice date though," he offered with a grin. "One of my better ones." A woman appeared in a flowing blue cloak. She landed on the floor with a soft thump and moved the hood out of her way, showing her light blue antennas and pale green skin. "Hey, sweetie. These are Dean and Sam. Bri's talked about her friends Missy and Bobby, they're their dads."
She looked at Sam, bowing slightly. "I heard."
"She's back," he said grimly. "Mad at the slayers."
She looked at Xander. "She is?"
"Got a head's up from the big guy. We know, we're working on it."
"Huh. Any other news?"
"D'Hoffryn sent back three more souls that needed to be reborn, mostly to make them quit tearing up hell with their complaining. We finally have sons, dear," he finished with a grin.
She shuddered. "You know there's a prophecy about you being freed of your enslavement by the girls who surround you, right?"
"No, I hadn't. Good or bad?"
"Massive attack that can take down the slayer line."
"Huh. Maybe that's what's going on then. Got any idea where we can find a copy?"
She sighed. "I'll find one for Dawn. Is she back? I need a cut looked at."
"Not yet. She's in happy researcher mode. Want me to?"
"You pull too tightly when you do stitches, Xander. Hell no."
Dean coughed. "Sammy and I can both stitch, ma'am."
"Guys, this is B'letta. She's my lady."
"Charmed." She looked at them. "Do you pull very hard? We have very sensitive skin."
"I don't," Sam said. "Dean says I make mine too loose."
"Please do then." She took off her cloak and halter top to show off her sports bra and a long cut down her back. They all hissed.
Xander looked then at her face. "Fistion demons again?"
"They're still pissing off my clan in that trade dispute. Pity."
He shrugged. "They're slime suckers and not really nice. Plus they don't read. I don't like demons that don't read books."
She patted him on the face. "You don't like them if they don't read comics either, dear. Get me some ice?" He nodded, going to do that. She looked at Sam. "Don't you dare bring more danger to him and our children."
"I'm not trying to. Unless they catch the mono I'm getting over. D'Hoffryn told us both about Lilith at the same time. When he decided our dad had to come back as a girl."
She burst out laughing. "He is?"
Xander came back. "Sauda is very nice but very stubborn already. She didn't want Buffy to put her in a dress," Xander said, handing over the ice pack. "She has funny ideas of cute too according to our shopping aunties. But she relented and got her jeans and stuff so she's comfy. They have very few memory spikes. Caleb seems to have more from his time as Faith."
"The slayer Faith?" she asked impatiently. He grinned and nodded. "Who else?"
"A guy who needed a second chance and was kicking himself. He's kinda important in the future so D'Hoffryn threw him in too."
"He's a sweet boy," he said firmly. "Leave them alone so they quit remembering so hard."
"I will, Xander." She stroked his cheek. "Any other good news beyond my clan has grown?"
"Just that," he said with a grin. "Dean and Sam have kids in Bri's class so we gave them safety lectures earlier. I let the barely cleared ones pounce them for fun."
"I taught some gun lessons," Dean agreed. "Handgun and shotgun." He helped Sammy stitch her back, not noticing she didn't hiss or flinch at any of them. Maybe it was her species or because she was an assassin. Some sort of training. "Xander, if things hit south of the border here, what's going to happen?"
"Cleveland's the hellmouth. Buffy gets it with a few of the senior girls. The rest are magically airlifted to a mentor somewhere safer while I take the tots and head south. We have a small field office I can take over in Houston and one in Miami. I'm welcome to take over either and make sure my girls will survive and any others I can teach to hunt."
Dean nodded. "Decent. Which way are you heading?"
"Probably Miami. It's the safer town. It's got some decent guardians already. A lot more crime but I know people from down there and I had to do some scouting when we took Carma from her mom's new friends in the gang she was sleeping with." He sighed a bit. "Their local PD was very proactive when I brought her to them to make the report. Then we disappeared and very few tried to follow up where I had her hidden."
"Probably thought it'd protect her so it's all good," Dean agreed. Xander nodded. "Okay, so Dawn?"
"Coming with us. She'll do her internship wherever I end up. She's already decided that." B'letta nodded at that. "The clan and I will have it, Dean. You guys can follow if you want. It'd give you two some protection from her too."
"That's what I was thinking," Dean admitted, looking at Sam, who shrugged a bit as he was taking off the gloves he had put on to do the stitches.
She looked back at him. "Very gentle, thank you, Samuel." She kissed him on the cheek then laid one on Xander that made him moan. "I'm for a bubble bath."
"Kids are all in bed," he promised with a grin. She strolled off. He winked at Dean. "She's very deadly to my self control too."
"I can see that," he joked back. "So we're set on emergency plans?"
"Yup, and we're set on how to take her out if we have to. You guys don't have to go on that. She wants slayers and she'll get them in her face."
Dean nodded. "If you need us though...."
"Of course and if you need our help on a hunt, you'll ask. It's all good and you guys can brag about my back room and reasonable prices too," he offered with a grin.
"Cool. We can do that," Dean agreed. "We'll be here through the holidays probably."
"That's cool. The kids need more friends. We all know the secrets separate them out."
"You know, there's a girls' religious boarding school that a lot of hunters' kids go to," Sam offered.
"We heard but I don't think they need that sort of stress yet. We're pretty inclusive no matter what your religion. Halla's mom was borderline cannibal for the dead so you kept a part of them with you if I remember right. Willow's Wiccan. Buffy's not really. Neither am I really, leaning kinda toward generalized pagan than not. Dawn's got her thing going too with some of the Druid ways."
"It's still a thought if you need it," Sam offered.
"Oh, some of the slayers could definitely use it and it'd help protect the school and the other kids. When we heard, Willow suggested we do send a few of the girls who are catholic there once they're trained if they're young enough. I think she picked out two and she's talking them into it." He sat down again. "So anyway, welcome to our whacked out reality problem. If you guys want help with stuff, let us know. We will help even with the little things. Buffy will take any reason to go shopping, including your future fashion plate."
Dean grinned. "I might take her up on that. Missy would love to go with the other girls. She's been afraid to make friends because we had to leave so many places."
"But now she can write and you can teach her how to email," Xander reminded him with a grin. "I had to teach mine to email with Dawn when she's sucked into her schooling or research. They usually try to get her to come cook on the nights I'm making stuff they hate. That's how she knows to eat with friends."
Sam snickered. "Bobby would do the same thing."
"Missy too," Dean agreed with a grin. "See you at school tomorrow?"
"Sure will. All the brood has to go. I want them to be smarter than I was."
"Cool beans." They left, heading to take their two sleepy ones home. Bobby tried to protest it but he was fully asleep on Caleb's bed anyway.
Xander leaned back, getting comfortable while he made emergency plans. At least until he heard the water upstairs shut off. Then he decided he could think just as well from his girl's bubble bath. Plus get some cuddling and groping time in.
Xander looked up from his reading in his van, listening to the news report going on the radio. "Huh. We made it to January." He called the base. "It's Xander. We had an attack on the hellmouth?" He listened to the preliminary intel. "Scatter. Have Buffy sound the command." He hung up and got out, going over the shiny black Impala Dean was leaning against. "Heard the radio?"
"Not yet. Why?" he asked, grinning at him. It was a pretty day in Cleveland. No snow today. The last stuff had melted so he had gotten the road salt off his baby.
"Attack on the park." Dean stiffened. "Took out the grandstand," he finished quietly. "I ordered a scatter."
"We'll follow. We found someone sniffing around Bobby the other day."
"Bobby has some magic. Dawn pointed it out." He looked around, spotting someone. "Aww, look, it's a demon child," he said just loudly enough to be heard. "You wanted something?"
"She'll still get you, Harris. You're a worthy target."
He leaned down with a grin on his face, looking like he was giving a compliment to the other parents. "I know what you are and how to dust you, little geekling. And I'll enjoy calling the hellmouth open to eat you and your realm. Remember, I can do that," he hissed with a wink. The demon disappeared. Xander stood up, giving Dean an interested look. "So we're probably going to be heading later." He patted him on the arm. "South side. Avenue K. Blue building that looks like a bank." He walked inside, going to the principal's office. "Bad news." She glared at him.
"My teaching duties are taking me out of the area for a bit so I've got to move the kids to the south. Sorry. We'll be heading this weekend. I just got the call." He waved. "We'll write for records, dear." He strolled out. She hated him and he didn't really like her all that much either. On the way back to the car, his kids ran out. "Into the van," he called. "Bobby, your parents need you home tonight." He pointed at Dean. "Go there, little fella. We'll see you in a few days." He smiled and patted him on the head. "Remember, you're protected. Paka likes you." He shuddered but went to pounce his uncle. His cousin was hugging her dad too. "Into the van."
They climbed in and did up their own belts, letting him get in to drive and call around at the same time. "It's me. Scatter," he told Dawn's phone. Then he hung up and called another contact out of LA. "Henry," he said dryly. "Small issue. No, bigger issue. Lilith sort of issue. I know I warned you, dude, but now we've got to pull a move. Yes, that's what I mean. Tonight. Tomorrow at the latest. And I do need top dollar. After all, my girls have learned shopping from Buffy." He hung up and took them to the store. "Guys, gotta work in the special room. Come with me," he said, gathering the other three.
Dawn gave him a scared look. "Chill, it's only the beginning," he said calmly. "It just started. We're moving the most vulnerable." She nodded, relaxing some. "Arrange things however and find all those special orders to go out tonight." She nodded, going to do that. He could lose the store. He had insurance if she attacked it. He didn't want to endanger anyone else with the weapons though. Dawn came back an hour later while he was packing boxes, muttering a packing spell. Everything was packed into the trunk in there. "Weapons in the vault?" he asked.
"Both vaults. Including the one at the house. It's all packed and ready for us, Xander." She gave him a hug then the others. "Buffy said we're overreacting to that one attack."
He smiled. "No I'm not. Her minions have been spotted that way. She knows that."
"I know. She said they're moving tonight anyway." He nodded. "The store?"
"Pick what we really want to bring to read." She went to do that, packing up the kids books section for their clan and the sci-fi fantasy section for him and Dawn, plus some romance and the how-to manuals for them. The last customer finally picked up their order and they closed the store for a few weeks by the sign. Then they headed off into the night with a stop for burgers and to pick up the stuff at the house. Thankfully her packing spell packed everything into some very compact containers so it all fit in the van.
Xander looked up as a person he didn't expect to see showed up. "Finn," he said patiently. "You don't look like my ususal contact."
"You're selling your vault? Are you retiring, Harris? We need to know if we need to move operatives into Cleveland."
"Lilith's trying to take down the Council. The First was a protégé of hers." Riley Finn shuddered in horror. "Exactly. And I have kids. We're pulling the emergency plans and I've got to move the mini-terrors somewhere safer. So not really retiring, forming a secondary younger group in a safe locale for training purposes to put it into government speak."
"I can understand that. I'm authorized to take over your primary vault for you if you'll accept. One of the UN teams is being moved into town."
"Buffy won't like that."
"They're former Watcher trained."
"She really won't like that."
"They're good people. She won't mind them if she survives. We'll pay going black market rate for it."
Xander considered it. "Fine." They shook hands. He got the box Dawn had packed them into, peeking then handing it over. "Pay my account by Friday. I'm closing it then."
"Deal. Anyone else going?"
"Of course. But they have kids too." He grinned. "Be safe. She's tried an apocalypse before."
"You too. The kids are too precious to risk. Even my wife likes Paka." He walked off with the box. When he got back to the office, their witch on staff unpacked it. Weapons shot out all over the room they were in. "Jesus," he said in awe. "How did Harris find all this? I expected a lot less. Maybe a few missiles or something."
"There goes our budget," his wife agreed, checking on them. "Clean, labeled correctly, loaded and ready to be used if necessary." She looked at him. "Pay the man." He nodded, moving to do that while she called the new team to Cleveland. "It's Sam Finn. Cleveland's Council is pulling a scatter move. Lilith is after some of them. Move in, we have an apocalypse vault for you to use if necessary. Get with Summers as soon as you can." She hung up. Riley finished the stuff that would pay Xander. It was a practical move and Xander was a practical man no matter how much he hated Riley.
Xander looked at their new building, leading the kids inside. The receptionist gave him a horrified look. "Hi, Beth. We're here and yet not here."
"Oh, no. Cleveland?"
"Buffy went against Lilith for the first time last night. It wasn't pretty but they're all alive. Some barely but they're there. Finn's people are adding to her. Is our apartment ready?"
"Yes, Xander. Rooms are all set up for you. The three slayers in residence are staying or not? We didn't have orders."
"Depending on who."
"Cara, Cho, and Rona."
"I thought Rona was in Cleveland last night," he admitted, looking confused. "Dawn?" She went to check the girls, banishing the demons pretending to be slayers. Then they took over the building. He gave Beth a copy of the picture he carried of Dean and Sam plus their kids. "Expect them soon. They're allowed anywhere. They're hunters." She nodded at that, making a note. "Find them a school. Call for records. Let Dawn unpack. We'll be up there." He walked off again. He hated that the Council devolved to him if Giles was injured. Since he was presently knocked into goofy land from the battle last night, he was it. And he loathed this job. Beth came up an hour later with reports. "Around here?"
"Sixteen problem areas, three ghosts we didn't know how to handle, a request from the local crime lab to talk to you about this building, and a few other things, Xander. Is Mr. Giles going to be all right?"
He shrugged. "He was only knocked out and came up goofy. We think so but it's better to have it out of Cleveland right now." She nodded. "Okay, arrange my schedule tomorrow. As long as they're not stressful we can talk then. Dean and Sam's type handle ghosts and things. Hand that to them when they get in. They should be here in a few weeks if it's not critical."
"One's banging around in a group home."
Xander found the fax machine and took that report from her, glancing over it before faxing it to a number Dean had said was their emergency contact number. He added a note at the bottom saying Dean and Sam were headed their way but it'd be days if not weeks before they got here. Then he sat back down, looking at her. "Any other good news?"
"Grandson of a watcher in the lab. Or two possibly." She handed that over.
"Decent. For, against, or unknowing?"
"Probably not knowing."
"Even better. Why do they want to chat?"
"They heard strange things."
Xander grimaced. "See if the officers I had help her are still around? See if they'll talk to them first?" She nodded, making a note of it. "Any other cheery news?"
"Your bank account went up by a lot last night," she said, giving him a stare.
"We didn't need all my vaults but Riley's secondary team might. It's practical in case we need to find us a house."
"I noticed the two boys."
"D'Hoffryn," he said.
"Ah." She made another note. "Any particular school?"
"Good school, non religious, can probably fit another boy and girl Bri's age. In her class."
"Done." She walked off to make those calls. She loved being the secretary.
Xander called his contacts. "We're here. We're fine so far. Dawn's unpacking tonight. The kids crashed for a nap. We've got meetings set up with the locals. Did the B team show up?" He smiled. "Even better, Willow. Yeah I did. My backup one. Not my primary one with the babies but the one at the store. It should be more than enough if they need it. Let me know when I can go back to being my goofy, loveable self." He hung up and went to check on the kids. Dawn was asleep on the couch. Everett was staring out the window so he picked him up with a groan. "Too heavy," he complained lightly.
"Am not," he complained. He looked at him. "Why are we here?"
"A bigger bad thing wants Buffy."
"Are we in trouble?"
"Nope. That's why we moved so suddenly, Everett." He gave him a squeeze. "I know you still get some bleed through from your last life. Tell me if it gets too intense and we'll try to fix it, all right?" He nodded. "Good. Now go nap. We've got a long week finding a new school for you guys." He put him down with a pat on the head. "I'll call out for pizza soon." He went to bed for a while. So did Xander. He was exhausted from all the driving.
Xander looked up as the redheaded man was shown into the office. "Lieutenant, I'm shocked to see it's you that wanted to talk to us. What's happened?"
"Word was sent to us by some unusual sources that your organization tends to harbor a certain...shady element, Mr. Harris."
Xander grinned. "You and I both know what the Council does, Horatio Caine. You also know why we do it and why you can't live in the total light or the darkness to do it."
"I do but I've also heard some very impressive words about certain arsenals....." He let it trail off into a question.
"I sold my backup vault to a military group that was helping out up there. I won't lie and say I'm not prepared if we have to use it but I will assure you that we don't use it unless absolutely necessary. Even most of the other hunters are that way."
"That is good to know but what you consider necessary and we do could be different."
Xander leaned on the desk, staring at him. "Lieutenant, I'm in your city for good right now because a very high demon named Lilith is trying to take us all down. We've decentralized again." He shuddered. "Exactly. I came here with my kids. They're safer down here. I won't lie and say I won't be conversing or conferencing in with other slayers or hunters. I have a good bit of respect for others who jumped into the battle. I will assure you that if we have an apocalypse centered down here, you'll hear it from me or one of mine as soon as I know so you can warn others. Especially if we think it's a real threat to the populace.
"I am *not* like the old council. We can't operate in the same paranoid, shadowy way that they did for centuries because they built the system that way as it was growing up. They influenced whole governments to not look at us. We're the nicer, kinder, more thoughtful version of them. The girls are treated a whole lot better. The people in command have common and uncommon sense. Actually, until he regains sense, I'm in command."
"What sort of dangers did you bring with you?" he asked.
"The current problem has a very small chance of coming back to threaten me or hurt my kids. Yes I was there, I did help in the battle she's trying to get back at us for winning. Another of her former targets is also probably going to be down here for a bit. We will keep it to ourselves unless something is absolutely necessary. You should have no fears about your city."
"I do know that we do have a small demon population," he offered. "Are they safe as well?"
"As long as they're peaceful we are not kill them all types. If they act, then they'd better be ready for the fight they started, but not to just outright attack, no."
"That's reassuring. Where is Carma McKensie anyway?"
"Right now I think she's in England for a few weeks and then she's going to be training with a mentor in Thailand. With her past, she'll know how to avoid some of the worst elements that're preying on the population and her mentor will guide her in helping stop the demons who're adding to that problem."
"Good." He relaxed slightly. "You have children?"
"I have eight wonderful kids," he offered with a grin, showing him the latest picture. "The twins are Briony and Amanda. They're mine naturally. The others were given to me to raise. The three oldest are the youngest slayers that I picked up in Africa. The other three are ones that're important and given into my care."
Horatio handed back the picture. "They're a good looking family."
"Half the slayers shop for stress relief. It means I don't have to do it as often." Horatio let out a small laugh at that. "We're doing the normal new resident things. School finding, seeing if we need to restart the bookstore down here since I heard late last night that she had it blown up on me. Finding the grocery stores and all that stuff."
"Then I won't worry and I'll come to you if I hear of a problem."
"Please do. Especially if you find more demon and vampire-caused deaths. I know they'd hit your team first." He held out a hand, getting it shaken. "I hope Miami has an easy year, Lieutenant."
"From your mouth to God's ear, Mr. Harris."
"Well, maybe the Powers', but possibly not that high up," he offered with a grin, making Horatio laugh again as he walked off. He relaxed, looking outside. Beth gave him an awed look. "He helped when I had to come get Carma."
"I remember that but you made him laugh. That's almost unheard of these days." She came in with a few information packets. "Six good non-religious schools. All private academies. All with good records, good security, and don't do background checks on the parents."
"Two aren't that bad. If they sign on they do get tuition help," she reminded him, going back to her desk.
"Thank you. When do I see them in person?"
"Decent." He settled in to look over the information. He weeded out three almost immediately but one kept drawing him back. "Is Clayson magically related?"
"Magically protected," she corrected, looking at him. "A gift from an alumni a few years ago. It seems nice. I go past there when I head to Wal-Mart."
"Huh. I'll look. It might be." He put it aside to share with the guys when they got there. He had other formal matters to handle for the moment and they had to be done. Decentralizing did screw things up in some of the administration areas. Paychecks couldn't be late but timecards had to be sent longer distances. So he authorized them to move into an electronic one. Something Giles hated but oh well! He looked up at the cough. "Problems?" he asked.
"Some scrungy looking guy is here to see you, Xander."
"Show him in." It was either a witch of some sort, a demon in human disguise, or a hunter. He smiled when he saw it was a hunter. "Hi, Xander Harris, Watchers Council."
"How did you get his number?"
"Dean and Sam's kids went to the same kindergarten my daughter Bri did. Plus the new council doesn't discriminate. We're thankful guys like you exist so we're not stuck doing it all on our own."
"You suck up pretty well. Government service?" he guessed.
"Girls. I'm always surrounded by girls." The guy laughed. "Seriously. First a slayer and her witch and then my girls. It's nice I have two sons to blunt some of that with some guy time with Dean and Sam now and then to remind myself I'm an adult guy."
The hunter laughed harder. "Dean said you were a pisser."
"Very muchly so but ghosts aren't our thing. Plus most of the slayers are out of the city except some very young ones. We'll get an older one sometime soon but not yet."
"Heard about the problem Sam and Dean ended up in?"
"Yeah, and I nearly died. Why?"
"The First, who brought down Sunnydale, was her protégé. She's mad at our senior slayer."
"Aw, crap, kid."
"Which is why we decentralized and I'm in charge until Giles wakes back up. So, can you handle that ghost in the group home for us and would you need any support we can offer?"
"I can handle it. Not an issue there. Sammy said they'd see you in a few weeks."
"That's about what I expected. They have to be more careful. Their kids have more danger than mine do."
"You have kids?" Xander showed him the picture. "Large brood. No wife?"
"Present girlfriend." He grinned and put it back onto the desk. "Three are very young slayers."
"Understood. I'll handle that soon enough. Do you know anything?"
"I haven't been researching into it. We've been unpacking. Beth, do we have anything more on that ghost in the group home?" he called.
"No, Xander. Not yet. We do have an online subscription to the newspapers' archives if they need to look through it. Plus our research center."
"If we can help you, ask," Xander told him. The hunter nodded, going to get online in their research center so he could look up who had died there and why. It'd help to find the ghost so he could salt and burn them. Xander went back to the unamusing task of paperwork. He really hated being in charge. Everett ran in and pounced. "Good pounce, little guy. Is Bri trying to do your hair again?"
"She wants to dye it, Dad."
He snorted. "Bri's too young for hair dye. You can tell her hair dye rots brains and all that good stuff and tell her I said to stop it. I'll be up in about an hour once I get all this crap straightened out." He nodded and ran back that way. He knew in an hour one of the kids would be pouncing him. Halla would be timing it in case he got caught up. He took the information packets up there when he got done, a whole five minutes before he'd get pounced again. "Guys, we need to talk about the new school." They booed. "Sorry but unless Sam does it, we can't home school you terrors." He sat down with them at the coffee table so they could all see the pictures. "We'll look in person next week."
Bri looked over them. "I don't like their uniforms. They're yucky, Daddy."
Xander shrugged. "Sometimes that happens, dear. Judge it on more than yucky uniforms. Remember, you can wear play clothes afterward."
She pouted. "I don't like uniforms."
"I don't care and if you whine, you don't get dessert," he told her.
"Why can't we go home?" she complained, trying not to whine. "I miss my friends."
"Because the bad things were coming for Auntie Buffy and we had to get you eight to safety. Didn't we have this talk?"
"It still sucks."
"Yes it does," he agreed. "But dying would suck more. Right?" She nodded, still pouting. He gave her a hug. "You'll get to see Missy and Bobby pretty soon I think. You'll make new friends too. We Harris' are likeable and easy to get along with so we'll make plenty of new friends. You can still write your ones up there if you want."
"Won't that put them in danger?" Dean asked as he walked in carrying Missy, who was struggling.
Xander looked at him. "Put her down." He put her down and she ran behind him. "Missy, where's Bobby?"
"Car," she whined. "Uncle Sam's going to be *so* pissed."
Xander nodded. "Probably." Xander activated the wards, trapping the demon. "Nice try but Dean has more scars." He went back to going over the stuff, finding his phone in Amanda's hands. She was trying to dial but couldn't remember the area code. He hit the speed dial button, getting a frantic Sam. "I've got Missy and the demon that stole her who was pretending to be Dean." He hung up and cuddled her until she wiggled free. "We're looking at schools you guys might like down here."
"Are they 'spensive? You know daddy doesn't like to spend money. He fussed at the price of candy yesterday."
He grinned. "I think we can help a bit with that," he offered. She beamed. "Dawn even packed all the kids' section of the bookstore if you wanted to read for a while or take a nap. Bri's exhausted anyway."
"No I'm not," she said with a sulk, arms crossed over her chest. "That's mean, Daddy."
"Missy could probably use cuddled until her dad and Uncle can come get her."
"I can cuddle without needing a nap and I make a good pillow because I'm soft and smooshy like you are. B'letta said so." She pulled Missy over, cuddling her. "There, you can nap on me if you need to." She nodded to seal that statement and went back to looking. "It still has yucky uniforms, Daddy."
"Fine. We'll look anyway. The school might be nicer than the uniforms, dear."
"Thank you." He looked at the demon. "Got any input?"
"It won't save them from us," he sneered. "We'll still get the young slayers."
Xander snickered. "Sure you will. Because I'm so sure you want Sunnydale to come open." The demon paused, then went back to sneering. "No one told you that I'm the new source of the Sunnydale taint? That the Cleveland hellmouth tried to hug me?" The demon tried to back away from him. "Or that I nearly destroyed demon realms when they were teething?" He smiled sweetly. "You don't wanna fuck with my clan. You want Buffy, you go after Buffy. Not Dawn, not me, Buffy. You touch my kids and that draws me back into the fight and then you're fucked."
The demon tried to disappear but still couldn't. "Like 'em? Willow created those," he said with an evil smirk. The more he fought, the weaker the demon became. His phone rang. "Harris." He smiled. "She's here and fine, Dean. She's cuddled up to Bri because Bri said she was as soft and snuggly as I am. She's fine and the demon's trapped. Sure, we're here. No, he walked in carrying her. She's fine. I promise. Dawn'll be back soon and she'll make sure for you. You know I'd tell you if she was scratched or anything. Sure, we're here. Beth knows to expect you. Looking at schools. By the way, don't worry about tuition right now."
He hung up and grinned at the demon. "Dean wants to talk to you." The demon tried to remove himself again but the wards were still leeching off him. He lost his illusion power. "Huh, my girlfriend's one of you. B'letta?" he called. She appeared so he pointed. "Tried to hurt Missy Winchester. Your clan elder said he didn't want to see me again so have some fun with him," he finished with a grin. "Do it out of sight with the kids please if you play with him."
"Of course I will. Missy, did he hurt you?"
"Just snatched me at a rest stop when I was going potty," she said tiredly. "I'm fine. He didn't try to touch me like some skanky perv or anything."
"Good. Then I won't have to hurt him. Much." She felt the wards release and took him with her to have some fun. No one touched her kids. Even if she broke up with Xander she'd still be protecting those kids.
Xander winked at her. "Your dad's in a Sammy style fuss according to what Bobby yelled from the back seat. They should be here in about a day. You can borrow some clothes and stuff too, Princess Winchester."
She beamed. "Thanks, Uncle Xander." She looked at Bri. "We should match."
"We should," she agreed. They went to play in her closet. It was so much better than *school*.
Xander went to start dinner. The kids would be hungry soon; since Adanne and Paka bit he wanted to feed them something other than his hand.
Dean stormed in. Beth smiled. "Good afternoon, Mr. Winchester. You made good time. The girls are upstairs in the apartment watching Superman with Mr. Harris. The boys are presently trying to play fort to keep the girls out of their hair. Go up the elevator to the top floor once your brother and nephew get here."
He paused to look at her. "He has a secretary?"
"I was already here and until Mr. Giles can function he's in charge," she said cheerfully. "It means those who like computers aren't forced to hide in the shadows to do their jobs."
"Huh." He pushed the button. Sam and Bobby walked in with their bags. "They're upstairs watching cartoons. The boys are playing, Bobby."
"Cool. I need some play time. I hate all days in the car." He got down in the elevator, running off once they got up there to pounce Caleb. "I'm here! Finally no more driving!" They dragged him into the fort. He was older and taller so he could build their walls higher to keep the girls out.
Xander grinned at them. "The girls are doing good together. They match today."
"They do," Dean agreed, staring at his daughter. His little girl was wearing a plaid skirt and a navy blue t-shirt, tights, and shoes. Bri was wearing another plaid skirt with different colors and a green t-shirt, tights, and shoes. "Is that their school stuff?"
"I'd never decide on schools without input," he said dryly. "But I will help with tuition." Dean grimaced. "That way the kids won't pout us to death. It's that or home schooling them. Sam, up for that?"
"I do a lot of their home training anyway," he admitted. He sat down, smiling at the girls. "Have a good sleepover, Missy?"
"I did," she said happily. "We even talked Auntie Dawn into streaking our hair with Sun In."
"That's wetting it, spraying it on, and using a hair dryer," Xander told them. "I woke up to the sound of the hair dryer. I nearly spanked Dawn too." Dean relaxed, sitting down once he had picked up his girl to put in his lap. "She's cool, Dean. She had a few nightmares but she's good. The demon didn't touch her. B'letta got him for her when he showed up pretending to be you. The girls have been complaining about school stuff for the last week. I had them all do workbooks for the last week too. Including her so she's not missing any lessons." They shared a look. "The scrungy guy as Beth called him got the ghost at the group home that was worrying people. They think Giles will be back to normal tomorrow so I can revert control again. We're looking at schools next week if you wanted to come with the clan. There's a small apartment here in the building if you wanted as well."
"I need someone to help me if shit hits the fan and it's a fully warded building, Dean. We're safer here than anywhere else. Plus it means no more pouting kids. I'm tired of pouting kids."
"Yeah, ours pouted too," Sam agreed. "Did they write their friends?"
"Yup," Xander agreed. "Sent their teacher an email too. Bri only mentioned that Missy and Bobby were okay but traveling right now. If they could you'd let them write their friends themselves."
"That's cool," Dean agreed. "We can let that happen. Any new news from up there?"
"She's sneaky but Buffy has PMS and so does Willow. The whole hellmouth is presently clearing out. Especially since the UN's B-team for demon hunting just showed up last night with my backup closet from the store." He gave him an insane grin. "Which means if I have to I can help with tuition. That way we have less pouting. Quit pouting, Missy."
"You said we could have pizza tonight, Uncle Xander."
"You can but your dad can order yours. That way you can eat and cuddle with him."
"Plus we can come eat with you so daddy can have stinky onions again," Paka said happily.
"I remember grinding up fried grub worms to feed you," he shot back with a dirty look.
"Grub worms are still less gross than onions," she retorted with an evil look. "They stink and they taste bad too."
"I like onions," Dean told her. Missy grimaced but nodded. "So you'll have to steal from Sammy's stuff if you don't want any."
"Shoot. Uncle Sammy, can I eat with you so I don't have stinky onions?"
"Sure, Paka. We can all eat together so you guys can play for a few more hours." She cheered and the girls went back to their cartoon watching.
"Superman?" Dean asked quietly.
"My kids will be geeks just like their daddy," Xander said firmly. "This is where I started. This and Super Friends." He grinned. "They know they can have anime when they get older. That way they can pick their own version of geek."
"It won't keep the boys from hitting on them when they're teenagers."
"No but it means they'll date a geek instead of a jock, which is always better. Geeks need more hot chicks who're nice and sweet. Plus can shoo off bullies."
"Good point. Sammy could've used a few more at that age too."
"Dean!" he complained.
"You could've. I got all the chicks back then. They thought you were too geeky and gangly."
"I grew into my height. You never grew into your mouth," he shot back.
Halla looked at them. "You two should kiss like on the soaps and be nicer to each other. That way there wouldn't be any more fighting." She beamed. "It always works on Auntie Buffy's soaps," she said at the horrified, yet amused look Sam was giving her.
Xander poked her gently on the side with a finger. "No more watching soaps, Halla. That's not real life. That's a fake life where everyone's pretty and shallow. Though, Miami has plenty of that sort. You're not allowed to turn into that sort. None of you are."
"They get all the nice boys though. And the occasional bad boy according to Auntie Buffy."
"You'll get plenty without watching soaps because you're too young," he said more firmly. "No more soaps, Halla."
"Yes, Daddy," she sighed, pouting some. "It's very educational."
"No it's not and if you're learning tricks like that I'm putting you in a convent school with mean nuns."
"Yes, Daddy," she complained, looking at Dean. "He's being mean again. Maybe you should kiss him instead."
"Uncle Sammy said Daddy only likes skanky hos," Missy said, looking very serious. "Uncle Xander would need huge breasts and booty shorts like them. Maybe even roller skates too."
Sam groaned, shaking his head. "I did not say that!"
"Yes you did! You were complaining at Daddy about staring at women like that, Uncle Sam." She blew a kiss with a smile. "Some day I'll pick up smart boys instead of boys like Daddy."
"You do that, princess. If I let you date, you can do that."
She looked back at him. "Of course you'll let me date. It's a girl's job to date and drive her daddy nuts then eventually give him grandchildren."
"Not before you're thirty," he ordered. "And no dating before you're fifty."
"Shouldn't that be in the other order?" Sam teased with a grin.
"Nope. That way I don't ever have to be a Grandpa."
Xander laughed. "I know that feeling. Paka once told me she'd give me many grandsons to honor the family." Paka blushed, ducking her head. "I think that's the last time the villagers gave me liquor." Paka nodded. "They told me not to worry, girls didn't want that many babies after the first one."
"Good to know." He gave his daughter a squeeze. "Is this other apartment big enough for us?"
"No clue," Xander admitted. "Haven't been in it yet."
"We'll look later then."
"Beth has the keys." He paged down there. "Beth, keys to the other place?"
She came off the elevator with a stack of papers to make him sigh and a set of keys. "We have a parking garage too so you don't have to worry about parking meters, Mr. Winchester."
"Daddy, you can't date Beth," Missy said. "She's not busty enough for you and she's way too nice." Dean blushed, moaning into his daughter's hair.
Beth smiled. "It's okay. I'm already married, Missy. My wife might mind."
"Oooh. Okay. Sorry."
"It's all right. I understand." She looked at Xander. "Sign and date please. Before he finishes coming around."
He looked, taking the pen she held to sign what needed to be signed. He handed back one. "I'll be lynched if you take out the slayer shopping trips." He finished up and let her leave to fax them around. "There, all set up so even Giles can't fix things back to the pre-computer age. Missy, why don't you have a potty break and get your book to work on with your dad?"
"Because it's cartoon time," she told him. "We'll read later. I'm enjoying being cuddled." She snuggled in better.
"Love you too, Missy," Dean assured her, giving her a squeeze. She might be the only non-skanky ho he'd ever love. Even when she realized a daddy couldn't fix every little problem for her and became more independent. Sam grinned at him, taking a picture with his phone. "Thanks, geek boy."
"Welcome. We need more family photos." He went back to playing with the boys. Dean was enjoying his daughter being back with him. He wouldn't bother them anytime soon. He would have been just as frantic if the demon had taken Bobby from him.
Xander put in an order for pizzas, including two without onions or mushrooms for the kids. It was going to be a good night.
Dawn came out of her last day of real classes, planning a small party with her buddies before she went to do her hours in Miami. She was needed down there. She saw someone with black eyes coming her way and zapped her friend's phone to ring and summon her off to answer it in private. The demon sneered, moving closer. "Hi, are you lost?' she asked kindly. "I can show you where to go if you need me to."
"I know exactly where to go, Miss Summers. Someone wants to talk with you."
"Leave Dawn alone," one of her buddies said. "I don't know who you are but buzz off, man."
Dawn got between the two when the demon tried to hex him. "No, not cool." The demon stared at her. "You can't have me. You can't handle me either. Tyler, take the others and I'll try to meet you for pizza later. 'Kay?"
"Yeah, I don't want you guys hurt if this one tries something dumb." He nodded, dragging the others off to the local pizza joint they hung out at. "So, what did you want to talk about, little one?"
"We know what you are," he sneered. He moved closer, trying to menace her. "We know you will serve Lilith."
"Nope, sorry. The only one I serve is Xander." The demon sneered so she leveled a spell at him, making him shriek as the demon was forcefully sent out of his body. The body flopped down. She checked for a pulse then called campus security. "This guy collapsed at my feet after making some threats against me. I didn't touch him but he's unconscious. No, I checked for a pulse. In front of the science building. Thank you." She hung up and waited. The guards came to get him. Both had black eyes. She zapped them with the same spell. One of their coworkers came running up, seeing the demons floating out. She smiled. "I don't know what sort of epidemic that is. I'm not that far into my medical courses and I didn't have to take virology. It was optional."
"What are you?" he asked.
"Pissed that they came to kidnap me."
"I work with people on the old Brown Primary School campus." A few other slayers were on campus and had been caught patrolling by the campus cops.
"Oh, them. Okay. So this is...."
"Their crap, yeah. They wanted me because my sister's there. And I'm going to Miami." He nodded quickly, letting her walk around them. "They should be fine, have massive hangovers later, but they all should be healthy. I'd suggest a priest but that's up to them." She headed for her car, getting in to magically move herself to the building in Miami. She'd call her friends in a few minutes, once she finished shaking and reacting to nearly being taken again.
Xander looked up as the wards went off, frowning some. "Dawn's here." Dean looked over from his book with Missy and Bobby. "She is." She walked in looking confident but he knew. "Vampires or otherwise, Dawnie?"
"Possessed people. By the way, that spell Sammy found works *really* well. All three of them went down but they'll be fine." She sat down next to Dean, taking Bobby to hug. He grimaced but let her for a minute before wiggling away. "Anyway, I'm all arranged for hours down here. I start in two weeks so I have a bit of a break." She smiled. "And they're going to get my foot up their asses."
"That's my job. Yours is to protect the kids and the home base," Xander reminded her firmly. "I will handle it, Dawn."
"Yes, Xander," she sighed. She looked at Dean. "Are you that sort of overprotective big brother too?"
"Yup. Even worse at times. I drove off some of Sammy's skankier dates all the time when he was younger."
"Damn, you are worse." She stood up. "Where am I bunking, X-man?"
"We can split my room since you'll be working funny hours and Giles doesn't think it's a good idea to have administrative oversight up there until this is done with."
"Oooh, yay. He hates doing paperwork."
"He hates it more since I gave his secretary permission to accept emailed things and print them for him." She snickered, walking upstairs to get something to eat and take a nap.
"Plans?" Dean asked.
"Some. Still percolating. We'll see very shortly." He looked around, frowning. "The wards just went off. Beth?" he called. She leaned in. "The wards just went off why?"
"I don't know, Xander. I'll check with building security." She went to do that. She came back a minute later. "The research center has someone in holding."
He got up and headed that way, nodding at the higher demon. "Yes, oh great supposed one, what did you want this time?" he asked dryly.
"Your mouth will get you in trouble, Harris," she sneered.
Xander smirked. "Maybe, but my kids are worse. I taught them all I know." He looked her over. "Huh, didn't change." He stared at her. "How did you get out?"
"I didn't. I'm not the one you think. Release me?"
"Fat chance. I know very well you're not the person who owns the face you're wearing." He pulled out a chair and sat down, looking this demon over. "So, you wanted a chat. Talk. I might listen."
"Buffy will be destroyed. She's very upset with her."
"Buffy's a slayer. She's got a lot of them at her back and a military unit to help. If she wants mine all she has to do is ask."
"She won't though. You know she won't."
Xander nodded. "So I've heard in the past but she's finally gotten past that. She's already asked for some advice and I gave it to her. We'll come out of this apocalypse sane and mostly whole. Even if she does return. Though this time Willow won't be allowed to bring her back."
"That's probably a good thing." The demon shifted. "You could let me out."
"I could give birth to live sea monkeys too, but I'm not going to." He crossed his feet after they were in the chair across from him. "Any other good advice? Because I'm keeping the kids out of the thing with Lilith."
"You were there. She wants you too."
"Yes but I'm not the easy target the slayers are." She gave him a horrified look. "Slayers are tainted by the slayer essence. Anyone can find a slayer with the same spell Willow did if they want to. Not like it's not written down in a few places. Finding one man is always harder, even if he is tainted."
"She knows you're here."
"Yes, but attacking me still isn't strategically sound. Unless she's insane?" She slowly shook her head. "Then trying me and the mini-slayers or the kids gets her nothing but one really pissed off person with explosives, weapons, tactics, and combat knowledge. Because I will use everything I have, every contact I have ever gotten, everything I can beg, borrow, steal, or magic away, to ruin her if she comes after my family. She wants the slayers for that battle. Let her fight them. Me and mine are staying out of this one. They're too young and weren't there."
"I was," he agreed. "I was injured and still helped kick ass." He stood up, looking at her. "If I could do that then, imagine what I can do now. With some retraining to compensate for my eye being gone. With some extra combat training since then. With a lot of training from some shaman along the way of picking up the girls. With a whole host of magical information I had downloaded into me during that last minor possessions," he hissed, leaning closer. "I'm not the universe's bitch this time. Go hunt someone else. Because I won't start it but I will end it and it will be messy. Now, anything else?" he asked with a smile. "If not, begone Cordy impersonator. Before I call upon her to come down as the Messenger for the Powers That Be." The demon gave him a scared look as a twinkling started and the real Cordy appeared. "Am I in trouble for stepping out?"
"No, they *love* you stepping out. Some day, Caleb will be you and start the great resurrection when the next really bad fan starts to blow evil winds." She looked at the demon, snorting. "I never would've worn that top. It's ugly and makes me look flat chested." The demon huffed but couldn't disappear. "Nice wards."
"Yes they are." He grinned. "Any other good news?"
"Not yet. They said to stay out of it this time. Before they were pissed. This time, it will end all the lines if you're involved. Because there's no last one called now."
"Yes there is. He's upstairs." She gaped. The other demon stared too. He smirked. "Didn't hear that part?" He walked off. "Have it, Cordy. I don't want it here. It might teach the girls bad habits like you would."
"Thank you." She took it with her, back to her masters. They'd have some fun pumping it for information that was blocked from their view.
Xander walked into the apartment again. "Cordy has the demon well in tentacle." He flopped down, taking Bobby to cuddle until he wiggled free then he snatched Caleb before he could sneak away. "Ha, caught you," he said happily.
"Tough, suck it up, son. Some day you'll feel too old to be cuddled. You'll be wrong and I'll pout you into it that day but you'll try really hard." He gave him a squeeze then let him go. "Cordy said something interesting. They didn't know about the last delivery of D'Hoffryn's," he told Sam quietly.
"Very interesting. Ours or yours?" Xander nodded at Caleb. "What happened?"
"Someone came to warn me that she was going to try to attack here. Pity but Cordy has him well in tentacle." Sam gave him a confused look. "The Powers gave her visions but they were killing her. She ended up going squid girl as their messenger."
"Eww but okay I guess. Reasonable. I'm glad mine aren't like that."
"Me too. I'd miss having guy friends. Hey, Dawn?" he called, bringing her out of her reading. "Someone told me a prophecy about me not being surrounded by girls. Have you ever seen it?"
"Yup, it's a minor attack, Xander. Don't worry about it." He pointed at the boys and then Sam. "Ummmmm.... Well, it's not an attack here at least. Let me tell Buffy the bad news that you being surrounded by girls to warp you had a reason." She called up there. "Um, phone's out."
"Crap," Xander said, calling Willow's cellphone. If she was alive, she'd answer it somehow. She was out of breath. "Phones are down?" He listened. "Have fun, Wills. You know the plans as well as I do. She tried some intimidation but nothing too concrete yet. Be safe." He hung up. "Blew up the campus. Everyone's okay. Someone was taking a nap and had a slayer dream about the old one blowing up so they evacuated." Dawn let out a breath and relaxed, flopping back down again. "They're going again tonight."
"Do they need me?"
"Willow said to stay here. She's got part of the Devon Coven with her."
"Okay I can do that." She went back to her studying. Medical school didn't take into account apocalypse time.
Sam and Xander shared a look then Sam went to warn Dean and Xander went to check his weapons. Just in case. It was nerve wracking to sit out of the battle this time but he knew he had made the right choice. He had to protect the kids and the Winchesters. Funny how packs worked that way.
D'Hoffryn appeared to Xander, staring at what he was drawing on the ground of the park they were in. "You're giving away all that protects your children for her?" he asked calmly.
Xander looked up then went back to drawing. "It won't take all of it and other people can tell where I'm from. It'll mask me better yet be useful at the same time."
"Are you sure of your choice? In the past you've made bad ones. Including sending a soul to hell."
Xander glared at him. "It was the right choice at the right time. Buffy couldn't fight him. Willow wouldn't have been able to do that spell if she wasn't possessed. I'm sorry I got in something's way that time but we'd have been without Buffy totally at that point and you know Faith wouldn't have lasted that long. Seeing the ones after her? We wouldn't have won the ascension. Kennedy certainly wouldn't have been able to think outside the box well enough to deal with the issue."
"Good point," he admitted. "Plus it taught that one humility and more about why he repents."
"I'm glad he's settled down in a life he likes, but I don't really care about Angel or Angelus, D'Hoffryn. Why are you trying to stop me from draining some of the energy?"
"It can draw things here, Harris."
Xander snorted. "Things are already here. That's why I had a power hound come looking for me." The demon grimaced, shaking his head. "The same one that usually goes after Willow actually. We tagged it you see."
"I had noticed that. Very amusing." He watched him. "You forgot a line."
"You can't do that one until you step in. I did learn enough ritual magic to know that." He stepped into the figure and closed it, concentrating on letting some of the taint flow out of him while he made a heavy-handed wish.
"That's not a good idea," D'Hoffryn warned. "All wishes are blessings and curses, boy. You know that."
Xander grinned at him. "That's what I'm counting on, D'Hoffryn."
He stared at the boy. "You can't be hoping for the negative outcome."
He smirked. "You're so sure about that? It's gestalt, D'Hoffryn." The demon gave him a horrified look, stepping back. "But if you won't there's higher that will."
He stared at him. "Fine but they'll know what you cast."
"She knows. Willow asked me to."
"You do what that tainted one wants suddenly?"
"Only within reason." He added the last sentence to his wish, making D'Hoffryn shudder but cast it since he had agreed. He felt it take hold and glared at the boy. "You made her impotent and unable to possess people?"
"Of course. Like the First, half of her power is mind fucking." He released more energy then sighed and got out of the figure once he had opened it. "The energy flowing into me is so much nicer. Now I can feel it again."
"It wasn't wise."
"I'm not wise and I probably won't make it to a wise old man, D'Hoffryn. But I do know what I'm doing most of the time. Even when you don't think I do. That nice blessing of giving her back her own body means that she's trapped in it. And she's ancient. A more corporeal target that won't make Buffy kill an innocent." He stepped closer. "By the way, how did *they* not know about her?"
"I don't think they were paying attention. Train him well in how to train, Harris." He disappeared to watch this new interesting twist happen.
Xander grinned, nearly skipping off to his van so he could go home and relieve Sam from babysitting duties.
Buffy looked up as D'Hoffryn appeared. "I heard about Willow's insane plan already and I was against it but I guess he did it anyway?"
"He did. She was granted her own body back."
"Since she's so ancient, does that mean she's crumbling and dying?" she asked, scrunching her face up.
"No, but it does mean she can't possess people."
"Even better." She gathered the scythe and her slayers, heading out to handle this last battle. The military guys had been watching her place for them. Now it was time for a final battle situation. She did almost wish she had Xander with her but she'd handle it without her usual backup. The girls were good. Trained by the both of them good. Dean and Sam had helped too. Even the ones Faith had trained with Xander were good and waiting to help. They'd be okay.
Xander looked up as a demon appeared, already smirking. So he shot it. "I can already smell the lies. Hyena senses, you remember?" The demon wailed as it died. "Good." He put the gun back down beside him and resisted the urge to call. It was not a good time for a phone call. It'd only interrupt the fight. Dean patted him on the back as he walked behind him to clean up the mess. "How much longer should it last?"
"No clue," Sam admitted. "Hopefully not too long." He and Dean shared a look. "Dean?"
"No idea, Sammy. However long it does it will. No idea if we'll get real updates or not."
Xander looked at him. "You guys signed up for a messenger service from Cleveland?"
"We've run into some less than evil mystical beings over the years."
"Good point. Hey, Cordelia?" he called. She growled as she appeared. "Do they need weapons? Because I can have Dawnie send some up."
"Won't help. Unfortunately. I'm cheerleading in finest Sunnydale fashion. You mind?"
"I want updates," he told her. "Because if they lose I'm next and I will be blowing all expectations and betting pools away."
She nodded. "Good to know. Thanks for the warning." She disappeared, going back to watching the battle. It was pretty even at the moment. Hopefully something would turn the tide soon. Which.... Huh, that was the original protégé of Xander who just appeared. "You go girl," she said quietly. She was almost praying that it would work. Whatever insane plan Xander had come up with out of his belly button lint or his butt crack had to work this time. Or else they were all doomed.
Dawn appeared and coughed, then opened the case in her hands, taking aim to blow out Lilith's altar. The battle nearly stopped to stare at her. She grinned and dropped the tube. "Hi. Did we forget that she has other backup?" The demons tried to get her but she formed a wall between them. It gave the slayer teams a bit of a rest break to catch their breath. "Hey, sis."
"Dawn, you shouldn't be here."
"Shut up, Buffy. I'm your sister, not your dog. You can't tell me to sit and stay." She looked around. "Besides, there's... some fun coming." She raised both hands, magically cutting the palms, spraying the blood on the demons before she hissed a few words. They went up in flames. Holy flames. "Huh. It did work. The guy with the wings was right. Oh, Buffy, she's corporeal. She's got her own body back now. She's fully killable."
"Wonderful. Pull it down and let's go." Dawn let the wall down and they attacked. "Get the head one. It's her real body!" she shouted. Willow started to cast spells that way. Dawn was focusing on the foot soldiers. There were a hell of a lot of them and they were possessed so killing them would probably be wrong.
Dawn nearly got knocked down but got back up dusting her pants off. "No groping," she ordered, kicking it on the head. "Stupid demon." She banished the demon then did a general banishing on the room. More of the possessed ones fell to the spell. They'd be out for a while. She did it again until the troops were nearly a third of what they were before. Buffy shot her a grin so she smirked back. "Duck!" she called. Willow fired a flame spell at the demon trying to pounce. Dawn did the same thing. Green fire came out, touching all the demons, making them all scream in misery and agony. Except Lilith. She was pissed. Beyond livid really. She was watching it all and unable to do much about anything.
Willow pulled Dawn closer. "We can banish her too."
"We can't, Willow. She's in her body. We've got to kill it or trap it," she argued. Willow gave her a horrified look. "That's the original demon."
"The scythe should kill it."
"The scythe's only one weapon. And it's a slayer weapon. There's stronger. Or we can bless it."
Willow nodded, sending a blessing at the blade. Dawn did the same then created a wall between the rest of the troops and everyone else. Now it was just them, Lilith, and the slayers. "Good morning!" Dawn said cheerfully. "How are you liking having your body back?"
"I'll destroy you for this," she sneered, standing up.
"I didn't wish it back, baby, but I can make sure it goes back to hell. By the way, Dean said hi." She pulled out a gun and shot her, making her scream when it hit her shoulder. "Now, Buffy. She's vulnerable." Buffy lunged and got the demon at the same time Dawn shot a second shot. Lilith fell with a wave of powerful magic knocking most everyone down. She and Willow were grounded so they got to stay standing up. She petted the colt. "Good colt. Very good baby." She walked over to the demon queen, staring down at her. "Pitiful, really pitiful. Slayers with ordinary weapons and hunters without special skills took you down by thinking outside the box. Truly pitiful. But good for the light I guess since you're so pathetic." She walked away. Buffy was groaning but being helped up. She helped steady her, giving her a pointed look. "You need a bath. You're nasty. The girls would be horrified."
"I know." She looked at herself then grimaced. "I seriously need a good loofah." She looked around. "We good?" she called.
"Everyone's accounted for. Two deaths," one of the military guys called. "Both slayers protecting our people."
She nodded, swallowing hard. "We'll bring them with us, guys. They deserve it." They walked out. Buffy looked at the house. "We should make sure."
"Buffy, there's innocents who didn't choose to be there," Dawn told her, getting her attention. "They were possessed. They had no idea. If you burn them alive, you turn just as dark as what you've fought. Get them help."
She stared at her little sister. "Why are you so wise?"
"I got some advice from someone who came to Sam and Dean once about her last plans." She winked. "Almost cute and has really soft looking wings." Buffy swallowed. "Castliel said hi by the way." She blipped off to take her own shower. She did look nasty.
Buffy held back her tears, looking up then at the building. "Clear it, let the military guys handle it," she told Willow.
"I remember him, Willow. From *then*. If he says no, then I won't." She walked away, going to think and maybe he might visit her too? Maybe? She felt the feeling of being hugged and looked back but no one was there. "I guess that's kinda like a visit," she sighed. "Some day soon though, I'll be back and you will be beaten at arm wrestling this time, mister." She heard a quiet laugh and was cheered up again. She went to shower and change. She was the senior slayer. She had to make a good impression on the girls. They needed her to be strong since this was the second time they had lost slayers since the full calling and things weren't good right now. Maybe he'd help by advising her what to do now. Because she was kinda lost. Last time Giles had arranged things. This time, Giles was knocked back out and Xander was in charge but letting her handle stuff. She was *so* lost.
"You'll do fine. Like before," the voice whispered. "Remember that you're not alone and slayers can work as a team, no matter what your instincts say. What saved you is what you teach them so they learn the right ways to be warriors for the light. Hopefully with a better dating record," he finished.
She looked up. "It's not my fault I only like bad boys," she muttered. "If I could draw good boys I would. You know that." She went back to her scrubbing. "You really talked to Dean and Sam? They seemed kinda nice and decent when they were up here. So can you maybe make them want to have Xander and guard each other?"
"Relax, it will all work out as it should, Buffy."
"Yes, Castiel." She felt another hug. "But you're still losing our next arm wrestling match. Slayer skills not following me into death or not." Yeah, it'd be okay now.
Dean blinked as Dawn appeared, grimacing. "Bad?"
"Done with. Passed on the info and advice I was given for Buffy. It's all solved." She smiled. "I need a good scrub."
"You're too young for me," he quipped back. "Even if I can scrub very well."
"I'm not skanky enough for you according to your daughter, Dean. Besides, I'm over my crush on bad boys like you and Xander. Now, Sammy...." She strolled off, acting like nothing was wrong.
"Eww! Don't you dare make me messy!" Amanda complained. "Ewwwww! Daddy!"
"Welcome to slaying," Dawn said cheerfully, hitting them all with some slime on the way to her bath. The girls deserved it. It was breaking up their current evil planning session.
Xander shook his head. "We've all been covered with worse but I think we could take a bath." They ran for the bathroom. For the first time in history, the kids wanted to take a bath so badly that they didn't fight, whine, or fuss about getting into the tub. They even tried to *share* it, even with the *boys*. Xander and Dean shared a smirk but went to help them scrub off the slime. That took experience.
Missy looked at her cohorts. She loved having friends. It was so cool when they liked her evil plans. This one had even been from the nice guy. She smugly walked up to her daddy and pushed him back into the room they had set up earlier with twinkies, sodas, M&M's, and some tacos Beth had gotten them. It was all their favorite food so they wouldn't pout. "Daddy, we need to talk."
"About what?" He sat down, letting her stand on her own this time.
"I'm getting bigger."
"You can't have a sibling and I'll still fuss over you when you're twenty. Like I do your uncle."
"Not the point, Daddy, you need more people to fuss over. Whole lots more. Plus, hyenas run in packs. So we like the pack." She walked off and the plan went off. Bobby had found the sleeping gas canisters when Xander had let him into the armory to help him clean weapons. Stealing one hadn't been that hard. Stealing three wasn't that hard really. Her cousin agreed that her daddy needed someone new to fuss over and turn from being girly girls. Otherwise he'd pout that she was getting older. Xander was led in there by Paka, who left and locked the door behind her. Then she broke the lock with her slayer strength and stranded them in there. Xander was now out thanks to the sleeping gas. They'd wake up soon and fuss but they'd work it out eventually. Then she'd have a non-skanky daddy and the other girls would have a human step-daddy. Though they might still call them a mom now and then to make them splutter. It was fun when they got frustrated.
Dean snapped awake, looking around. "I'm going to paddle her until she's black and blue," he announced.
Xander moaned, lifting his head to blink at him. "Make more sense. Head fuzzy. No thoughts." His head thumped back down.
Dean smacked him on it. "My daughter set us up. This is her idea of us learning to get along so I'd give her you as a step-mother, Xander."
Xander snorted. "Sam said she was evil."
"Yes she is," he said, appreciating it even if he was caught in the trap. "How do we get out of here?" He tested the door. Stuck and locked. Plus there seemed to be a padlock or something on it. He checked the windows. They were on the fifth story. "Think she left us rope?" He noticed the food. "My girl's brilliant but too evil for a Winchester. I'll have to spank that out of her."
Xander finally got up to come over and look then burst out laughing. "Our favorite junk food, semi-real food, and sodas. She expects us to be in here for a while I take it?"
"She expects us to do nasty things to each other so I have a wife," Dean corrected.
Xander shrugged. "My hyena remains thinks of you guys like the pack already." He laid down on the bed. "My head still hurts. Give me an hour?"
"Fine. Where did they get the sleep gas?"
"Bobby was in the armory the last time I was in there."
"They're so paddled. Sammy!" he bellowed. Xander moaned and covered his head with a pillow. "Sorry, Xander. Sammy!" He heard him come near the door. "Sammy, our spawn locked me and Xander in here."
"I can see that. His must've helped since the doorknob's broken and smashed a bit." The door rattled. "I can't get it open, Dean. Even if I could pick the padlock. Though I can't find my lock pick kit right now."
"They planned this, Sammy. Missy got me in here and there's food and sodas in here."
"A bathroom?" Sam called.
"I'll ground them until you can come out and spank them. His too?"
"If they bent the knob, yeah," Xander called. "Please ground mine too. And Dawn if you can." He put the pillow back over his face.
"I'll try, guys." He went to find the girls and boys while the two adults fussed and fumed into better punishments than grounding, spanking, or KP duty. He found the girls watching cartoons. "Ladies," he said patiently.
Missy smiled up at him. "Hi, Uncle Sam."
"Your innocent look isn't nearly as good as your dad's. Wanna tell me what you were thinking?"
"I don't want a skanky ho with big breasts to be my stepmommy. We like Uncle Xander for that and they needed a human step-mommy too. It's for the best because we like being a pack. This way nothing can tear the pack apart, even if we do have to go back on the road sometime."
"Your dad wants to beat you to death. You know this, right?"
"He'll like Uncle Xander once he decides he doesn't need breasts. They're a lot alike, Uncle Sam," Paka said with a beaming smile.
Adanne nodded to show her support. "They are, even if Uncle Dean doesn't have a hyena cackling in his head now and then. Plus we need more sisters to offset the evilness that's the brothers."
"Did Dawn help you guys?"
"Beth didn't know why she got us tacos but we're very lucky she did," Halla said with a happy grin for him. "Now I've got you as a real uncle."
"Having them locked in the room isn't the same as a marriage, guys."
"It was in my tribe," Halla said firmly. "Adanne's too. We talked to people and they said it was usual when you got married."
"Usually the people want to be married. I don't think Dean's wanting boys that way, girls." He sat down, blocking the tv. They all scowled. He glared back. "You're already grounded. Let's not make it worse."
"I don't care if Daddy does send us to school with the mean nuns. We need a human step-mommy who can help when the demons come after the older three," Bri told him firmly. "B'letta's cool but even she said that sometime in the future she'll have to choose her clan over us. We can't let that happen. It's not right." She smiled at their brilliance. "Therefore we decided you were too nice and should have Auntie Dawn instead. Do you want tacos too?"
"Locking adults in a room doesn't mean they're married or together. Right now the dads are fussing and complaining, not getting together."
"So?" Adanne said with a small shrug. "According to my tribe, they're still married. I called the local consulate and asked about wedding rituals. They told me all about it."
"How did you get that information?" he asked.
"I said it was for a school paper. He said I'm very smart so I told him Daddy had adopted me from my tribe when it was attacked to keep me safe. They said I sounded very smart and I would do great things." She smiled. "Don't you think I will?"
"Yes you will, Adanne, but right now you're still so very grounded for months."
She shrugged. "We'll have homework again soon. So?"
He flipped off the tv. "That means no cartoons too." They all sighed and went to find a book. They knew Xander's rules about what to do when they were bored. "Start on the workbooks again."
"We're out of them," Amanda said cheerfully. "So we have to read."
"Then I want you guys to write me a report on what your books were about." They pouted but went to do that. He went to talk to the other guys. "Guys?"
"Yeah, Sammy?" came through the door. "Any luck getting us out?"
"You might have to take off the hinges. Adanne and Halla decided that this is how their tribes consecrated and celebrated marriages, guys. They've decided you're now married. Adanne even called the local consulate to get info on tribal marriage customs, supposedly for a paper."
"They are so paddled for this," Xander assured him. Then it sounded like he yawned. "Sorry, sleeping gas was pretty strong."
"It's all right," Sam assured him. "I did ground them. They're working on book reports since they're out of workbook sheets to do. Are the hinges in there and easy to knock out?"
Xander looked then made a disgusted noise. "Recessed into the door. Can't be removed from this side, Sam."
"This side either."
Xander looked at Dean then sighed. "Move." Sam moved out of the way, letting him and Dean kick the door out of the frame. They came out after a few kicks, staring at his girls. "I'd run and hide," he vowed. They all squealed and ran. "And not in the fun way either."
"Auntie Buffy will save us!" Adanne called, snatching Dawn's cellphone on her way to hide so she could call in some help. "Daddy's so very pissed because we married him and Uncle Dean off," she babbled when it was answered. "He's going to spank us, Auntie Buffy. Help?" She found a good hiding spot and hung up, making sure the phone wouldn't ring to show where she was. Not that her father wouldn't find her. He was a very good tracker.
Xander and Dean shared a look, then shook their heads, going to their own rooms. They would deal with the evil little shits when they came out for dinner.
Sam shook his head on the way to warn Dawn. "Adanne or someone grabbed your phone."
"Because they wanted reinforcements to save them from the fathers they locked in a room. They decided that their tribes married people off that way so they're now married."
"Ahhhhhh," she said, looking confused. "Whose bright idea was that?"
"Are they still able to walk?"
"So far. Dean and Xander had to kick the door down."
"Sure. That'll work. Xander's going to get them so badly, Sam."
He smirked. "They're grounded and supposed to be doing book reports."
"That's an evil punishment for those who like to read." She summoned her phone magically, looking at it. "Huh, she did call Buffy." She put it into her pocket. "Let them hide and get complacent then get them before dinner."
"Sure. Are the boys in here?"
"I think they went to hide down in the office. That way they could steal Beth's lifesavers."
"Good. Glad they weren't in on it." He went to check on the boys while she went to find all the girls and check on Xander. "Boys." They gave him guilty looks. "Were you in on the girls' plans?"
"Plans?" Beth asked from her desk.
"They called the consulate after deciding to get Dean and Xander together. They locked them in a room, Beth, and declared them married."
She burst out cackling. "That's so evil."
"Missy and the mini-terrors planned it." He looked at the boys. "Head upstairs, do not help the girls get out of trouble or hide, and do not get in the way when the fathers spank later." They nodded, going up there. He and Beth shared a look. "He'll get them."
"Xander's going to make them sorry in whole new ways, Sam." She went back to her paperwork, spreading that rumor around. The other secretaries and slayers who filled in would adore that story.
Xander walked his mini-terrors into the local Namibian consulate, nodding politely at the secretary. "These are my daughters I adopted during my trip in Africa." She smiled at them. "We need someone to make sure they understand that locking someone in a room doesn't equal a real marriage. This one called to see if it would," he said, patting her on the head.
"They're obviously very smart," she said. "We have a priest in here visiting."
"Please," he agreed with a grin. She got the visiting priest out and Xander pulled him aside to tell him what they had done and why.
The priest sat down with the girls to go over what marriage was and why you locked the new couple in a room by themselves, without going into detail. They all pouted but they understood that it was wrong to try to force couples together. Even if they did make a case that sounded like they suited each other. He let Xander have them again, getting a handshake from the parent. "They're very bright."
"Yes they are," he agreed, smiling at his girls. "And very grounded. For a very long time." They all grimaced but nodded, looking down. He looked at the priest. "Are there any native style celebrations coming up that I can bring them to? I think they'd like that once they're not grounded."
"We have a dinner and storytelling on International Day coming up," the secretary offered. "That way more can learn about the tribes we have in our lands. Many children like it. Some natives who've moved come to cook as well."
"I might be able to help with that. I spent months with each girl's family before we had to leave." He patted them on the heads again. "When is it?"
"In about three weeks."
"If they're good we can bring them that day and they can still be grounded." She smiled at that. "They deserve it this time. They went evil." He stared at them. They slunk back some. "Thank you." He took that information flier and shook their hands again, walking them off.
"He's very odd," the priest said. "But those girls are clearly stronger with him." He looked at her. "He's a watcher."
She nodded. She knew what that meant. "Are they?" He nodded. "So he's correcting evil thoughts."
"They did reason it out. Provided enough food for a day or so. They're very bright but very warped." She laughed, nodding a bit. "Thank you for getting them here. It'll do good for them to go over their own history."
"There were rumors of a watcher traveling around helping villages," she reminded him. "After the main council got destroyed."
"True, there was. They still speak their native languages too. I'm very impressed with how he's done that." He went back to make notes for future teaching. He was sure some other child would come up with that idea sometime. Plus the other priests would love that story.
Xander looked at the newest set of forms. "Beth, why isn't Giles doing these?"
"He's *recuperating*," she said blandly.
He looked up at her. "Want a promotion?"
"No." She smiled. "I hate paperwork as much as you do. Now sign those like a good boy so we cen let the other secretaries know."
He looked them over. "Scouting reports?" he asked, looking over the largest stack clipped together.
"Yes, Xander. From all the main branches."
He looked through them. "Send those to the others so they know."
She gave him a look. "The faxing is going to leave us a huge phone bill."
"Well, you could conference call and read it to them," he suggested dryly. "I don't want anyone not informed of what's going on. Since half the slayers think that computers are evil beings meant to ruin their nails and tempers and all the older watchers think that computers are worse than Satan, we can't email it."
"Good point. Fine, I'll do what I can to track down their numbers and fax it to them somehow. Do all the ones in the field have faxes?"
"Send it to the regional offices if you have one and make them responsible for passing it on," Dean said as he walked in.
Xander beamed at him. "Want a fifty grand a year paycheck for you and Sam? Paid health, dental, and tuition reimbursement for you guys and the kids?"
"Hell no," he said with a grin. "We like traveling most of the time, Xander. Sammy might like to settle down sometime soon but I'd kick his ass."
"We don't think the kids know that, right?" Beth asked him.
"Missy knows that if she did something to keep us from traveling, like popping the tires with one of our knives, she'd be in the deepest shit ever and she'd better start praying for divine intervention. She knows the car was my first baby and she's the second. She even used to get jealous when I'd pat the car."
"I'll make sure building security knows to watch out for them going after the car. Just in case since the girls are so sneaky."
Sam leaned in. "Is that why I took the hose they managed to get off the engine back earlier?" he asked with a grin.
"Excuse me?" Dean demanded, looking at his little brother. Xander was laughing. "It's not funny. They probably talked yours into it."
"No probably about it. The arms master out of Cleveland was showing all the kids how to make sure their engines were cleaned one day when he was changing his oil. That's how they knew how to pop the hood, Dean. Is she all right?"
"She's fine. They managed to get a hose out of the clamps." He looked at Dean. "Your daughter's presently sitting in the corner in time out." He grinned. "She's pouting, got her arms crossed over her chest, and said that we were not moving away from her friends and pack members. Since you're still married in their eyes, it won't happen." He left so Dean could throw a fit.
"Excuse me, I think I need to beat my daughter senseless," Dean complained, heading up to yell at her.
Beth looked up as 'what were you thinking' floated down through the floor. "They could use a mother figure, Xander."
"I had a girlfriend. B'letta's very nice."
"She's demonic," she pointed out. "Some of the old-line watchers hate that and want you quarantined."
"They can kiss my ass. If we had more people I'd let her go talk with them." She shuddered because she knew what his girlfriend was. "By the way, she heard about their plan and came down to pout at them. They explained it to her. She was kind of amused at them and their mental skills." He went back to signing. "Giles will kill you when I make him take his job back," he said, handing over a few more. "Anything else?"
"Just the school visits tomorrow."
"Thanks, Beth. Have a good night once that's sent off. I'm going to try to unwarp my own girls." He got up and went upstairs, scowling at his kids. "We do not touch Dean's car without him asking or suggesting, ladies. It's wrong. Dean's family has had that car since before he was your age. Am I clear?" They pouted but nodded. "Right now no one's moving. So quit your campaign before I find a boarding school." They pouted but settled in to plan less evil things.
"I'm wondering if this new stubbornness was inherited or always there," Dean said, glaring at his daughter.
"She's always had it," Sam said, grinning at him. "She's found a better target than denying the existence of green vegetables and getting her way about her hair."
"She doesn't fight against me that way usually."
"That's because she's got you wrapped around her finger," Sam said sarcastically. "As proven by how she sucks up to you."
"Do not," Missy complained. "He's my daddy! He's supposed to be mine and I'm supposed to be spoiled by him."
"Little girls in time out do not speak," Sam said firmly. She stuck her tongue out. "Want another half an hour over there?" She turned back around, still scowling. "See," he told his brother.
"Yeah, I'm starting to see why you complained she's so evil too. Missy, you knew better than to touch the car."
"We're not leaving the pack," she said.
"We're not leaving the pack!" she said more loudly. Now she was really starting to get huffy.
"Melissa Mary Winchester," he said firmly.
"WE'RE NOT LEAVING THE PACK!" she shouted, turning to glare at him. "You're married, you don't need to give me a skanky ho as a stepmommy! We'll destroy her if you do so no one will want her anymore!" She turned back around, starting to sniffle.
Xander looked at her. "Who told you about the pack?"
"Bri," she sniffled. "She said you'd adopt us into the pack so we could have two parents and do normal kid things too. I don't like traveling." She pouted at him. "Won't you, Uncle Xander?"
"That's up to me, not him," Dean told her.
"Nah-uh. The shaman told Adanne that he had the hyena mommy that made the pack. That's why he took such good care of her." She pouted at him. "I hate traveling, Daddy. There's never any friends and we never get to stay anywhere once we like it. We like the pack."
Dean stared down at his little girl, sighing mentally. "I hated it at your age too, Missy. For right now we're not leaving Miami or the family here, but you still did the bad thing touching the car and trying to get me and Xander together against our wills. We will be talking about this later tonight." She nodded, still pouting, looking miserable. He gave her a short hug. "Go back to your time out and then we'll talk about this stuff."
"Yes, Daddy. I love you."
"Love you too, munchkin, but you're going a bit too nasty for my tastes." He gave her a look then went to sit down by Sam. Sam shrugged slightly. "I know, we both felt the same way," he said quietly.
Xander stood up. "All mine, c'mon. We'll go down to the library." They trooped after him. All their books were down there. He looked at Bobby, who was coming, then at Sam, who shook his head. "Bobby, this is a Winchester talk. You're one of them."
He pouted. "I want a new book."
"We can pick a new book after we talk, son," Sam said. His son beamed, coming over to hug him. "Let me and Dean talk then we'll talk to you two." He nodded, moving to straighten up the kid mess they had already made today. "You don't have to do that."
"Yes I do. Everett gets fussy if we leave things out too long. He's against messy rooms."
"Is he OCD?" Dean asked Sam.
"No, he's just a bit cleaner than average. He doesn't want to step on and break toys." He leaned on the table. "I wouldn't mind settling down semi-permanently, Dean," he said quietly, glancing at the kids trying not to listen in. "I know we need to hunt but we can hunt out an area before moving on. Miami has a good count of ghosts, poltergeists, and problems."
"I know. I've been looking around. I was thinking we needed to move into our own place now that the threat's gone."
"The threat's never gone," Sam reminded him.
"Yeah, but the bigger threat's gone, Sammy."
"True." He considered it, looking at the kids, then at him. "But I think they'd tie us up and move back."
"Could be," he admitted with a slight grin. "She's definitely got more backbone than I had. Dad would've killed our asses if we had pulled some of her recent stunts."
"Yeah, and then sent us to Bobby until his temper calmed down again."
"Yup." He looked at the kids then at him. "The other apartment is kinda small."
"Yeah, but we're used to sharing a room. They're too old to share one now."
"So maybe finding our own apartment off-site?"
"Could," Sam agreed.
Beth came off the elevator with something. "The school visit schedule tomorrow."
"No public ones?" Dean asked, looking at the list.
"Overcrowded, poorly funded, and overstressed teachers. Missy needs someone who'll work her brilliant little mind in less evil directions instead of having to let her do a lot of her studying on her own."
"Xander did say he'd help us with tuition costs," Sam reminded him.
"I don't like sponging. Having to do what we did on the road was one thing."
"Then let one of you sign on," she said dryly. "We offer tuition reimbursement for the kids and you guys." She patted them both on the cheeks. "Because right now, we're the head office. We have no researchers. No one to handle problems if necessary. No one to help Xander if we crop up a problem."
"What about Mr. Giles?" Sam asked dryly.
"He's off in la-la land rebuilding the building again. He told us earlier he's concentrating on that and making sure all the girls are doing all right after this last attack. The hellmouth was left more active than usual and they've got the UN's B-team helping. Still. They need all ten of their slayers up there to handle it. He doesn't have time to do admin stuff. Xander's his second. Willow's head of the research council. She said to hire you if possible so Xander has a researcher down here who can help him if the Southeast hits a problem."
"Is it likely?" Dean asked.
"There's a small hellmouth, very tiny compared to either Sunnydale or Cleveland, down in the Keys."
"We should probably be closer than Miami," Sam said, starting to frown.
"We can't be closer. It's privately owned. Miami has a demon community but it's small and patient. Very quiet usually. Orlando's is worse. They've had a few vampire attacks recently but you have one girl there working at Universal Studios in some restaurant in her non-hunting hours."
"So we'd be responsible for Florida's problems?" Dean asked.
"Houston takes over to Mississippi. We get New Orleans since there's some ties there. Especially after Katrina. Half of it split and went to Texas, half came this way." They both nodded at that. "So we get all the bayou problems too. Up to about North Carolina."
"There's some hunters in those areas," Dean admitted.
"Which you can easily send stuff to," she reminded him. "Before you got here, Xander sent on a ghost that was bothering a group home to one. He was amused when Xander said he had tact from being surrounded by all the girls."
"So still some traveling but within about a day's drive, two at the most," Sam said.
"Which is better in case something serious starts. New Orleans has something there that draws weird things. Not a hellmouth and the Council never figured it out. South Carolina has a small spot of it in Charleston."
"Which is why there's a hunter who lives about ten miles from there," Dean told her. He looked at Sam. "Temporary work?"
"I can like that idea. Until something too big happens and we have to fade into the shadows to cover our butts."
"Dear, we're the Watchers Council. Don't be stupid. No one questions us when these things happen. You'd have a nifty ID and almost every single department knows and hates us. We were here as the US was building its government so they know to step out of our way unless we're doing things very wrongly. That's why no one busts Xander for his weapons addiction." She pinched them both on the cheeks. "I can get the standard contracts for you guys to talk over."
"Please," Sam agreed. "I probably will even if Dean doesn't. Research can be done anywhere."
"Good point." She went to dig one up and brought it back. "Here you go. Standard field watcher and standard researcher. Now, if we lose the Cleveland team and full control comes down here, that would make you secondary head researcher. The present secondary head is still in England cleaning up all the messes of the wills to get the stuff that should still be hidden back into our hands." She left them alone.
Sam looked it over. "Dental, eye care, nice salary. Tuition reimbursement because the English system has a lot of private schools and they probably expected their people to use one if they didn't have their own specialized school." He turned the page. "Silence clause to keep us from talking about council business after we leave or during it. Clause saying we won't use black magic while employed. That's an interesting clause. Wonder why."
"Probably some of the bad ones back in the day," Dean admitted. He was reading over his. Sam snorted at something so he turned to the same page, skimming until he came to it. "I wonder if they wrote an out for Xander's dating habits."
"No telling." They held a silent conversation then took out pens and signed them. They'd give them to Xander later. "So," Sam said.
"Yeah." He looked at the kids. "She's still in deep shit for touching the Impala. Dad would have killed me. He nearly did the first time I tried to help him with the car and messed something up."
"I kinda remember him yelling at you for messing up the car. Then getting a lot of lessons in how to take care of her." Dean nodded. "So what do we do?"
"I'll talk with her tonight," he assured him. "You talk to your spawn?"
"My boy's okay but we can talk later on too." That got a nod. "Staying here?"
"We need more room, Sammy."
"Good point. We'll start looking. Maybe Dawn can ward it for us."
"Maybe. If she's not too busy at the hospital with her hours." He looked at the kids again. "Missy, I doubt your time out is done with."
She shifted again. "Have to use the bathroom, Daddy."
"Go and come right back," Sam ordered. She nodded, going to do that. He looked at his big brother. "She has another hour."
"Good. Gives me time to finish calming down my temper. Did you put the hose back on?" Sam pointed at it. "I'll do it later with her. That way I don't beat her. Any other damage?"
"Not that I saw. Since the hood pull's so hard one of the others probably helped."
"Xander's good at yelling at his own spawns of evil thoughts."
"True. I'm sure they're having a talk in the library." Someone came off the elevator. "Hey, Henry. We heard you were taking care of that ghost for us. Thank you."
"Welcome, boys. What's going on?" Missy came out and sat back down in the corner. "She in trouble?"
"Much trouble," Dean told him. "What's going on? New hunt?"
"Slight one. You guys staying local for a bit?"
"It looks that way," Sam agreed. "I signed on to do research for Xander and this group."
"That's good. Bobby said you're a great researcher, Sam." He smiled. "Any other good news?"
"I guess I'll hunt with the team here," Dean told him. "That way the kids can have some years in the same spot and quit fussing." Missy cheered. "Time outs are silent," he reminded her. She shut up. He looked at the hunter again. "How bad's the new hunt? Need help?"
"No. Werewolf problems. We heard there's a small preserve down here."
"You'd have to ask Beth or Xander," Dean told him. "We're still learning the local areas." He pulled out his phone to text Xander, getting one back. "It's a safe, protected preserve for their nights changed." He looked up. "He said they don't get out to hurt others."
"Still not right to let them run free."
"I doubt you'd get Xander's help to stop that," Dean told him. "From what we learned, Xander worked with one who tied himself up on those nights. They were friends."
"Still wrong to let them go." He stared the boys down. "Your daddy would hate that you were going to stick up for that."
"No. Dad left them alone unless they were actively hurting someone. Dad hated pelt hunters, Henry. He smacked a few around at the Roadhouse if I heard right." Henry grimaced. "We can't help you with that. And I'd be very sorry if you did it. Xander's going to protect any that are harmless and not doing anything."
"There's no such thing."
Bobby looked over from his playing quietly. "Yes there are. The Council's worked with a few demons over the years who're not only peaceful but have been very helpful. Like during the invasion in LA. A lot of demons helped with that. Halla told me so. Buffy told her about it."
"Buffy?" he asked, almost sneering.
"The senior slayer," Sam said. "Don't sneer at my kid, Henry. I have Dad's temper, not Dean." He backed up at that. He stared at him. "We won't help you take down things that aren't causing a problem. If they're not out hunting or ripping up people, dogs, cats, alligators, or livestock, then they're clearly in control of it."
"Fine. I'll be sure to let the others know."
"You do that," Dean agreed. "Be damned if most of them would stick up for you anyway, Henry." Xander came off the elevator. "The preserve here good at keeping them out of trouble?"
"They have about five acres of woods. They're open to any werewolf or other shape changer during their changes. They have guards armed with tranqs in case one gets out. When I was down getting that one slayer out of her mother's grasp, they had to get one that managed to get past the guards. Got him less than a mile away before he attacked anything."
"You took one from her mother?" Dean asked.
"And the gang her mother was sleeping with and trying to offer her daughter to, yeah."
"Oh, good reason." Xander grinned at that. "You hear things about the old council."
"I know. We hate them for that very reason. Travers was on our 'kick ass first and then shoot in non-lethal ways' list while he was alive." He looked at the hunter. "Thank you for handling that ghost, but the Council is very firm on this. If they're peaceful, more power to 'em as long as they're not causing strife within the demon community that would cause others to act in ways that would get human notice." He stomped off in a huff. He looked at them. "Sorry if he was a friend," he said more quietly.
"It's cool. We don't hunt things that aren't causing problems."
"We heard about pelt hunters back in Sunnydale. One came after Oz." He sat down. "Did Beth talk you guys into it?"
"For now," Dean said. "As a trial."
Xander squealed and hugged them both. "Thank you! It takes some of the job off my shoulders." He straightened up. "As a matter of respect, there's a lot we'll get but you guys might want to let the others know that the Council of old died thanks to the Bringers. We're different now."
"I'll let the ones we work with know," Dean promised.
"Did you know there was a no dating demons clause?" Sam asked him.
Xander looked at it then shrugged. "No one says anything to me, Sam. If they did, I'd show them my last human date, Cordelia." He gave him an evil smirk. "I'm sure she'd agree that dating demons is better for everyone."
"You married Daddy," Missy reminded him.
"Being locked in a room is not a marriage, Missy. Even if we had done what you guys wanted it still isn't a marriage. Marriages come after dating and things. In Africa they're sponsored by the parents of the person being married and the whole village. Kids can't set up marriages for their parents. I can marry off my girls... but I'm not that mean usually." He grinned at Sam. "Do you maybe like Dawn? She's been moping that you're not reacting to her flirting."
"I do like her but I'm not sure if she's flirting or not."
"I'll tell her to be less subtle then." He stood up. "Any other decisions reached?"
"The place downstairs is really too small for us," Dean said.
"This one is for us too," Xander admitted. "Which is why we were going to take over the old regional head's house very shortly." He grinned. "Once I get it cleaned out and rewarded by Dawn." He walked off. "It's huge and has a small guest house out back that would probably fit you guys. Let me look it over for building problems." He went to his room and came out with something. "The girls think they're getting cookies tonight from Beth. I have no idea why but what am I cooking for dinner?"
"Hamburger and stuff?" Sam suggested. "It should go pretty far." Xander nodded, going to handle that. "How did the regional head's house survive the bringers?"
"It's owned by the Council and the things never came after him," Xander said, finding the hamburger and boxes of helper in the proper places, then moving them to the counter so he could get to work. "The guy ended up dying when he heard the building in England got blown up. Heart attack. He was high on Travers' like list before you ask. That's how he got to semi-retire to Florida on the Council's dime. He bought the house, set up this building for slayers and visiting watchers. Set up another couple of safe houses I still have to check out, and supposedly a vault for emergencies somewhere that I might have to argue with the police over. He died so it left Beth in charge down here. She started sending messages around to the others until she finally found Wesley in LA and told him what had happened. Giles told her to hold on, once we solved this apocalypse we'd have new orders and probably a new head." He looked back at them. "Then surprise, he got named. Which he doesn't really like but oh well."
"What sort of vault?" Dean asked. "Weapons?"
"No clue. I know he was embezzling some cash somewhere. He had three extra employees who never existed. Plus some contracting work that doesn't go back to any known company. There's no telling what I'll find there." He emptied the hamburger into the pan and got to work browning it. "Bobby, Paka picked you out the next book in your series. She'll bring it up when they've finally conned Beth into making them cookies tomorrow." The boy laughed at that. "Other than that, we know that Travers knew he was sponging off the Council to supposedly set up a new regional center. He claimed the single slayer down here needed it. Plus there were a few that could be brought here until their new watchers were chosen. Since Carma's now in Thailand...." He glanced back at them again with a grin. "Beth pulled up everything so we can look it over after schools. Is that schedule going to work for you guys? It's in order of her preference."
"It should," Dean agreed, looking it over. "Two hours, an hour for lunch. Should it take that long to look over a school?"
"You'll want to look at their facilities, the classroom, maybe talk to the teacher, plus expect some time for the headmistress to grill you," Sam said.
"Beth said that's how long it took when she put her kid into a catholic school locally. I have no idea. I knew I wasn't going to permanently be in Cleveland so I didn't set up anything too permanent. The bookstore could've went to one of the girls that wanted to escape the main building when I left. The house was a rental too."
"Why not?" Sam asked.
"Because after so long together, we start to grate on each others' nerves. Plus with the mini slayers I'd be going wherever they were stationed to learn from a more senior girl. Plus me. That means I'd be put back out as a field watcher eventually. Not for the mini-terrors but for the senior girl. You can't be a watcher to your own girls."
"That makes sense," Sam agreed.
"Yeah, it does," Dean agreed. "So where were they talking about you going?"
"Here originally. Or possibly to Germany. Maybe to the one that's in Egypt but we couldn't be sure about that one with the state of things going on in central Africa. All the wars and famines."
"Would the girls like to go back?"
"I think they would but they'd miss cartoons horribly," Xander said dryly. "I've tried not to spoil them too much but I got overruled a lot by the older slayers who did spoil. That's how all my girls learned about fashion, nail polish, and those things."
Dean laughed quietly. "Figures. Could they live in the field?"
"Yeah. Even in Cleveland I took the whole horde out camping a lot. That way the slayers remembered and the younger ones could handle it if something happened to me. Because I know I'm a target now and then. What protects them doesn't really fully protect me. I'm just not sensible to attack for most people trying. So I knew we'd be reassigned eventually." He drained the grease out, adding the water and other stuff that went into it. The girls trooped off the elevator. Paka handed Bobby his book with a grin and sat down with her own. "We all remember we have to do the school tours tomorrow?" he asked.
"Beth said we could stay," Halla pouted. "That way you didn't have to drag us around."
"No, I'm dragging you guys with me. That way we can make sure you like your new teachers."
"The uniforms are still icky, Daddy," Bri told him.
Xander gave her a dirty look. "Tough." She wilted. He went back to cooking. "Make sure you have something to wear tomorrow. If not, I need to do laundry tonight." They went to check, Bri laying out something for the older girls and Missy as well.
Dean gave her an amused look when she handed him the stack of clothes. "Thank you, Bri."
"Welcome, Uncle Dean." She smiled and went back to her book. "Daddy, what're we going to whine to Auntie Dawn about you making us eat this time?"
"Hamburger helper. The lasagna stuff."
She considered it. "No veggies?"
He gave her a dirty look. "For that, no dessert and you're definitely having vegetables. That way you're not as short as Buffy is." He went back to cooking, opening up a few cans of vegetables as well while the to her adults snickered. Sometimes parenthood drove him nuts. His girls were so spoiled.
"When did you want to look at that house and the vault?" Sam asked him, still grinning.
"I figure after the tours if we're not too tired. Before then if we are."
"What about Henry?" Dean asked.
Xander smirked. "The preserve has a seer on site." They smirked back. "They told me he was coming last night. That's what that call was."
"Ah," Dean said. "Any other news?"
"They said Bri's going to hate her uniform no matter which school we pick."
"Probably," Dean agreed. "I don't much like uniforms either."
"It's that or a class with thirty other students," Xander told him. "At the minimum, Dean. My girls are too smart and they'll end up getting in trouble if their teachers can't pay attention and divert them when they start going into evil girl mode again. I don't want to be a grandfather in ten years."
"Good point. I'd better never be a grandfather," Sam said, looking at his son. "You don't want to be a dad, right?"
"If I say no, can we not travel for a bit?"
Sam gave him a hug. "We'll be talking about that later but for right now we're not traveling for a bit." Bobby grinned at him. "We'll email your Godfather tonight." He nodded, going back to his book.
"Nerds," Dean muttered, shaking his head. "Our kids were never book hounds before they met Xander."
Xander grinned. "I'm so happy to corrupt them. I wasn't a big reader either but I want my kids to be smarter than I was with less problems in high school."
"I can agree to that," Dean said. He looked at the kids. They weren't watching tv. They were all reading books. It was nearly unnatural. Even Sammy had watched more tv than these kids did.
Xander pulled stuff off the stove, bowling up the vegetables. "Guys, set the table." They set things around the table once they had put all the leaves into it. He brought out food, going back to make more. Then he came back. "Wash up." They trooped into the bathrooms to wash up then came out to eat. Even Missy. She could go back to her time out after dinner.
Xander groaned when he saw someone waiting at the bunker's entrance. "Lieutenant."
"Mr. Harris. We heard that you found out about this."
"You could've told me."
"I had no idea that the old head didn't own it."
"Nope. The Council does. So now I've got to see how bad and what he embezzled for."
"He did. Three extra employees worth." Horatio winced. "We have no idea what's in here."
"I'd prefer if it's something like drugs or higher weapons, that it be handed over."
"I can see drugs. We can negotiate about the weapons," he told him, staring him down. "Because there is that small spot in the Keys." Horatio shuddered. He found the keys Beth had found for him, opening the door and pressing in the code she had given him. He opened and sniffed. "Shit." Horatio reached for his gun. "There's at least one dead thing in here. I can smell decomp." He found the overhead lights and turned on the first one, looking at the small sealing hallway. Horatio followed, hand still on his gun. Xander opened the other door and found the light switch. He flipped it on and paused, staring at it. "Huh." He stared at the piles then at Horatio. "We had no idea. He died before Sunnydale fell."
"I remember. We've been waiting for someone to probate his will so we could get a legal search warrant to come in here and his house."
"I'm checking his house tomorrow. Plus the other two safe areas he set up." He walked around the bodies slumped over the table, clearly dead. Clearly shot too. He moved to look at the other things stacked around the room. "Survival supplies are weak and really not what I'd expect." He looked at the few weapons then found the cabinets. "Ancient technology for weapons. Some books. Looks like a watcher built it," he said dryly.
"Did they tend to play with drugs?" Horatio asked, looking at the stack of blocks of cocaine.
"No, but he was an asshole. We all knew he was an asshole. Beth nearly hugged me when I came down and wasn't one of the old assholes." Horatio smiled. "So, what do we do?"
"The cash and things that aren't drugs would belong to the Council since you have proof he embezzled?" Xander nodded. "Then we can't confiscate it. We would be confiscating the drugs and the bodies."
"Please do. I don't want anything like that around mine." He heard footsteps. "Dean, there's bodies."
Dean leaned in. "I smelled, dude. That's sad."
"Very," Xander agreed. "Let's move the cash, the weapons, and the books. Then we'll let the nice lieutenant call his people to get the bodies and the drugs."
"Sure," Dean agreed, coming in to help him carefully move things under Horatio's watch. "How much coke is that?"
"Probably close to a few million," Xander said. Horatio gave him an odd look. "I had to get the slayers some weapons on the underground, Lieutenant. I'm not that naive." He grinned. "Some of the people I've dealt with in the past know about that too." He finished carrying out books. They came back for the cash and then locked the van up. Dean could drive it back later. "Okay, call your people. We'll stay in case something comes in to eat them or something's hidden and activated by one of them."
"Thank you. Do we think there might be?" Xander shrugged. "Good point." He called dispatch to route some of his team and the ME to his current location, then waited. The first one walked in. "Calleigh, this is Xander Harris. He's the new regional head of the Watchers Council."
Xander shook her hand. "I've heard about your work on bullet identification, Miss Duquesne."
"You know weapons?"
He smiled. "I'm the gear person the senior slayer used to lean on. Now I'm the regional head of this office due to my kids."
"Good to know. Are we going to have a problem with you and your weapons like we did with him buying some illegal things?"
"I have mine stored very carefully in case of apocalypse, I'm fully qualified to use anything I need to, and I'll give you fair warning first. Where was he storing them since none were here?"
"I don't know."
"If you find out, I'd like to know, but we'll be searching them out. I've already made arrangements with Lieutenant Caine about anything that should need to happen that we'd have to deal with."
"Good. I like people with sense." He pulled out a picture and showed it to her. "They're adorable."
"They're evil little brats who think fashion is all that's important in the world," he said dryly. "Who drive us nuts daily making up little evil plans to get me and my people together." She burst out laughing. He smirked. "This is Dean. He's signed on to be on our hunting staff."
"Nice to meet you," she said, shaking his hand. "I hope you have sense too?"
"I do, and a daughter in his daughter's class. She's being corrupted to the evil side by the other girls."
"Ah." She smiled, walking over to the bodies. "This is pretty. I wonder which one shot the others."
Xander looked. "None of those are at the angle to be self-inflicted." They stared at him. "Before rejoining the group in Cleveland I spent nine months traveling in Africa to rescue some of our girls. I saw some of both and helped defend a few villages."
She nodded. "You're right, none do look self-inflicted right off." She looked around. "What was removed?"
"Mystical books, the money he embezzled before he died, and the less than technological weapons. We're staying in case he hid anything else that might bite you."
"Good. I hate that stuff." She looked up as the ME came in. "Very nicely done, Alexx. Very neat."
"I can see that. Almost no blood." She looked them over. "It looks like the body's dehydrated."
"The vault wasn't airlocked," Xander told her. "If that helps."
"It might. The new owner who just found it?"
"Xander Harris, this used to belong to our former regional head." She blinked a few times. "I'm the regional head of the Watchers Council, ma'am."
"Oh." She winced. "So these guys?" He shrugged. "No idea?"
"No. The last head died a few years ago."
"Interesting. These aren't that old."
Xander smirked at her. "As far as we know, no one was in the vault after he died. Now, if he had a helper locally... who knows."
"Good." She got to work making her preliminary notes. The body haulers got them out of there, letting Calleigh and Horatio bag up the drugs while she followed the bodies. She stopped in front of Xander. "I've seen one of your people recently." He quirked up an eyebrow. "Simmons."
"David Simmons?" She nodded. "Huh. We thought he went back to Bermuda and his retirement. I'll let Giles know. He's the full head. Did anyone claim him? I can have them do that."
"Please do. He's taking up room for the next week then we'll release him to the county to bury."
"Yes, ma'am." She nodded, leaving them alone. He called. "Giles, Xander. David Simmons is in the Miami-Dade morgue. I just opened the vault and found bodies so we had a short talk." He listened. "Yes, him. I thought he went back to Bermuda. No, not that I'm aware of. Who did I miss?" He nodded once. "Okay. I'll look into that. Thank you." He hung up. "Miss Duquesne, do you have a mole on your left shoulder by chance?"
She stiffened. "I was never called."
"When Willow activated all the slayers, you should have been."
"Can we check? That way we make sure you're able to handle things if they come for you? We're realistic. Even if you don't take up the job, things can still feel you." He stared at her until she nodded. "Good. Come to the office tomorrow? There's a strength test that can tell and one drop of blood test. If either register we'll hand over a training and information packet and let you come when you want or need training and help."
"You're not going to be pushy like the one that came for me when I was ten?"
He snorted. "I found three in Africa that I'm raising, ma'am. They're pre-teens." She winced. "There's over sixty of you. If you don't want to take up the duty, that's your decision because you're reasonable enough to make it. We will make sure you know how to take care of yourself in case you are jumped. We will be there if you need us because something's been hunting you. We won't make you go on patrols though."
"Thank you." She gave him a slight smile. "It's nice when people have sense."
"Isn't it though?" he said dryly. "We'd like some of the old-liners to have some too." She laughed. "If I'm not at the office, have Beth call me. I'll introduce you to my girls later." She nodded. He looked at Dean. "He came back to hunt her down and have her told."
"Interesting. Any others that got missed by Willow?"
"I think she intentionally didn't look for anyone over a certain age. I'm not sure why though. Giles is asking her. If so she'll redo it and we'll see."
"Decent. More students?"
"Only if they need and want it. I'm sure her academy training will cover some of it." She nodded at that. So did Horatio. "Plus I've heard and seen that she has a highly overprotective group around her."
"Very," Horatio agreed smugly. "If something's hunting her, we'll get her to you."
"Of course. And if someone else needs trained as a pro-tem watcher in case something happens, you can send them to us too."
"I can do that." Xander smiled, pulling a gun and shooting the thing coming for Horatio's back. He looked then at him. "Thank you. Warn me next time?"
"It would've went invisible."
"Ah." He got back to work, letting them protect them. Some very strange things happened around watchers so they knew not to expect normal occurrences.
Xander looked up as Beth put a call on speaker for him. "What's up?" he asked.
"Xander, why didn't you go to New York?" Giles asked.
"Because the plan was for me to take over Miami or Houston, Giles. My girls aren't old enough to handle New York. Why would I go up to the International Flavors of Hell city?"
"There's been a problem up there. Simmons was right. Willow missed some slayers that were older. Three are up there and in danger." He sighed, sounding frustrated. "If Faith were still alive, I'd have sent her up there to talk to them and help them."
Xander looked at the phone. "My girls are still too young for New York, Giles, but I can suggest that you send Willow up there. A bit of a light show should prove it to them if they don't know it already exists."
"That's not a terrible idea. Why am I getting printed reports?"
"Because not everyone wants to handwrite things. Also, some people's scrawls are unreadable. Typed is much neater and you can spell check it."
"Yes, but it costs us more when my assistant prints things out."
Xander glared at the phone. "I'd rather have it printed from an email than miss a warning. Have you gotten the last few scouting reports? One of them listed something coming your way."
"Oh, dear Lord. Abigail, where are the recent scouting reports?" he called. Apparently she brought them because he hummed and you could hear pages turning on the other end of the line. "I do see that. Thank you."
"Not a problem. I told Beth to make sure all scouting reports hit all slayer teams somehow. Regional people passing them out or whatever. That way no one's surprised when the Irish gypsy clan that wants to kill slayers for mystical rites shows up in Cleveland or New York. But I can have a word with the police officer I worked with before to call up there. That way they can subtly warn their own people."
"That would be nice. I'll have Miss Chester send it to you immediately." He cleared his throat. "You did hire those two boys?"
"Yes I did. Did you get my report this morning about the old regional head's emergency vault?"
"He had one?"
"Not only was he embezzling, he had some. You'll want rolaids."
"I seem to live on them some days." That report apparently got handed to him because he spluttered while turning pages this time. "Cocaine?" he demanded.
"Oooh, yeah. A good pile of bricks of white powder. The local crime lab is very nice and I met them when I came down to get Carma."
"Wonderful. Are we in trouble?"
"He's dead. I'm just the new regional head guy. They know this. Found the one Simmons came looking for. She's in the lab. We talked last night for a bit while they were removing the drugs and bodies."
"Interesting. Is she fully called?"
"She hasn't come in yet for the blood test or that strength test. I'm assuming she will sometime today."
"Good." Xander smiled at the sound of rubbing going on. "Anything else I should know about that former person's problems?"
"I did a drive-by of the house. Smelled more decomp so I'm going over there later with Dean and the crime lab. Then the two safe houses. If we find he had more areas, we'll call them too."
"They don't mind this?"
"No. He's dead so they can't charge him with anything. I didn't do it so they can't charge me. They don't want the drugs or the bodies to sit there so it's all good. They have some easy cases solved. It looks like he shot the ones in the vault. They called earlier to ask Beth if he could use a gun. Seems he could and he was very good at it. Three of the four in the vault were known drug people too. So yeah, they're not unhappy to gather the bodies for us."
"I can see that works for you. Are you going to go to that mansion he bought?"
"We are. My apartment only has four bedrooms. Dean and Sam's only has three. I figure the guest house out there has more than three so they can do that and we'll take the main house. Dawn can go over the wards when she's got a free weekend."
"That's a sensible plan." He cleared his throat again. "Anything else I should know?"
"If you die I'm going to resurrect you so I don't have to do all your paperwork. The First be damned." He hung up on that cheerful note, hearing Beth laugh. "I will. I'm not becoming the full head of the Council. Fuck that."
"Good. I'd hate to be the top secretary. She spends a lot of time forwarding things or dealing with twittering new people." He grinned at her. They understood each other perfectly on that point. She brought in the fax when it showed up. "New slayers called?"
"Willow never looked over the age of twenty." She walked off groaning. "Yeah, so that's why Simmons was in town when he died. By the way, we can nag Duquesne at the crime lab if she doesn't come in." She nodded, making a note she was due in for testing. Xander got up. "The tots from hellish boredom are with Dean. Let me go talk to Horatio about the main house and this. I'm sure he knows someone since he's from up there." He left, taking the van to the crime lab. Which made his poor van look like a trashy, ancient car. It was but the lab was sparkly, shiny, and had that 'we're better than you'll ever be' air about it. It had to be a remodel since the last time he was in it wasn't that bad. He walked in and up to the receptionist. "Hi, is Lieutenant Caine in?"
"College student thinking about being a CSI?" she asked with a smile.
"Regional head of the Watchers Council." She blinked a few times. "I know, we're all young now." He grinned. "It keeps us hip enough to hunt with the slayers." She shuddered. "I found some info he needs to tell someone up north about."
"I'll see if he's busy, sir."
"Thank you." He went to sit down by one of the windows. He saw Calleigh come in and scowl when she saw him. "Not here for you today."
"Why are you here?"
"You weren't the only one she missed." She rolled her eyes. "Some are in New York and there's a nice clan of people who want to kill them. I figured he'd know someone up there to tell."
"Probably. None of you?"
"On maternity leave in New Hampshire at the moment. She's with her mom until after she delivers."
"Pity." She looked at him. "Blood test?"
"One drop onto a special pad." He patted himself down. "If I had thought about it I'd have brought one. I really didn't come to nag though," he offered with a grin. "Are you coming tonight to see why the old guy's main house smells like decomp too?"
"Probably. I think I'm on tonight." She walked off shaking her head to talk to Horatio. He was on a call so she waited. He mouthed 'I heard'. She shook her head so he finished up quickly. "Not only was I not the only one missed, there's some in New York in danger but they don't have anyone up there. They're on maternity leave out of the city. He needs to know who to contact and who's coming tonight to help with the main house."
"You and Eric. There's no telling how many bodies he left when he died." She nodded at that. He went to talk to him. "Mr. Harris."
"Xander, please. I'm not old enough to be a Mr. anything, Lieutenant." He held up the list. "Willow found them last night when she looked at the girls who didn't get poked with the crossbow of destiny."
"I know some of these names." He looked at the note on the next page about what was going on up there. "Where is your person up there?"
"New Hampshire until she delivers."
"I suppose that's a problem."
"Willow's on her way up, possibly with a few of the more junior girls. We need to warn them to be more careful anyway."
"I can call the one I know. I know the NYPD knows about the Council." Xander nodded he knew that. "Do we have anyone that can protect them if something should happen?"
"She's in Boston this week. Her sister's being married."
"That could be a problem."
"Last time I heard, New York had a few officers who *knew*. If they can help until someone gets up there it should be enough."
"Two are officers. I'll talk to them as well. Thank you for bringing this to my attention."
"I figured you'd know someone to call who'd at least know someone to call." That got a smile. "The house tonight? When did you want to do it?"
"After our regular shift. That way my people won't be worried and overstressed."
"Sure. The more the merrier." He stood up. "I have no idea how bad it is. I didn't get past the secondary gate when I smelled it. I have the feeling febreeze and a cleaning team isn't going to be good enough to fix it however."
"Probably not," he agreed. "If it's that strong, there's no way it's a dead animal."
Xander grimaced. "I'd like to beat his ass for this." Horatio smiled. "You have my number. Call me and I'll meet you there when you're ready."
"I can do that." He shook his hand, watching the young man walk off. He looked at the receptionist. "Did he tell you who he was?" he asked her. She nodded quickly. "If it's a problem, even if I'm not here, he is to find me. If it's something less than a problem, decide and let me know when you can."
"Yes, sir. Should we expect problems?"
"The last person who had his job had a bunker with drugs and dead bodies." She shuddered. "Apparently so does his main house."
"I'll let you know as soon as I can, Lieutenant. He seems too nice to be one of them."
"The new Council has sense according to him. He also has children." She smiled. "Eight children." She shuddered again. He smiled. "Mostly girls even." He walked off, going back to his office to find his personal phone book. "The lovely Stella Bonasera. Yes it is Horatio. No, I need to talk to you and it's going to sound a bit odd. Have you heard about the Watchers Council?" He listened to her go off on them. "Well, it seems that a few years back something happened that activated all the girls they missed." She said something sarcastic.
"No, that same problem blew up the old building. Very few of the old ones exist. The new one is made up of people who were in the actual field. When they went looking for women who were called over the age of twenty, a few interesting names came up. Including yours." She said something in Greek. He smiled because he knew that swear word. "I'm told that there's a problem near you. I can send it up to you along with a list of people that need to know. That way you can protect yourselves until someone gets up there to help you handle it. She's on maternity leave."
He laughed. "I'm told Miss Rosenburg is heading up. That's on the note. Let me fax it to you. Where would you like it sent to?" He put in that number and sent it off. "There, it's sent." He leaned back, listening to her go over it. "I do know the local regional head down here. He's very young but has a lot of sense and weapons skills. We've had to talk a few times. He's very intense but very good at what he does apparently. Yes, Xander Harris. How did you know?" He listened to how she had run into him once while he was retrieving one girl from their area. "That's about how I met him. We had one down here in danger because of her mother. He rescued her and got the whole situation cleared up legally and in jail."
Calleigh leaned in. "Is that the lab up there? Ask them if they got the results from that one bullet for me please? I haven't gotten an email back yet on that crossover gun case." She walked off again.
"Calleigh wanted to know if you had the crossover ballistics report done yet." He smiled, making a note. "I'll let her know it's on its way down via fax. I don't know if Mac does know, Stella. I know he suggested that there's some officers who deal with those issues when they occur and he suggested that you get in touch with them until someone can get up there." He nodded once. "That's true. Mac is scarier than any of them. If you wish. I'll let him know. We're going to be checking over the former regional head's house for the cause of the decomp smells. No, there's a good reason." He grimaced but let it clear up. "Let me know if you need more help, Stella. I can ask him. Cleveland now. A Mr. Giles is in charge. Of course, let me know. Have a better day, Stella." He hung up, tipping his head back. "Calleigh, expect a fax later this afternoon," he called.
"You and Eric are going with me to the house."
Horatio smiled. She was taking the news fairly well. He'd have thrown fits. Of course, he was male so being called as a slayer was nearly impossible. He hoped.
Calleigh got there first, finding Xander and a young girl standing there when she got out of the crime lab hummer. She had long, straight, dark hair, skin that clearly said she was not Xander's biological daughter since it was closer to caramel or bronze than his own pale tones of white, and green eyes when she looked up at her. "We needed a child?"
"Beth found something of his in the file archives. He set the wards to slayer blood." He pointed at her. "This is Adanne. One of the mini-terrors I'm raising."
"I could have...."
"In case you're not, she can. Plus he said he put something in there that would be repelled by slayers. She's been good. She won't go near the bodies if there are any, and she'll sit quietly on the porch with me once we let you guys in." She nodded at that. "Are we waiting?"
"Horatio and Eric got stopped by a few lights behind me. Let's go ahead and open the house up so they can jump right in. That way she gets to bed on time."
Adanne pouted. "I never get to see hell beasts anymore. Not since Auntie Dawn quit sleepwalking around the house during finals."
Calleigh laughed. "I'm hoping that they're wrong and there's none in there, Adanne."
"Me too but Daddy can slay anything. He even got the tiger that tried to nibble on us one night while we were in Africa."
"That was good of him." She looked at him. "You're her watcher?"
"No, I'm her father. Her and the other kids. Her mother gave me custody of her."
"Because she was a slayer but she died in a battle to save our village. They gave me to Daddy when he showed up to tell us why she got called suddenly."
"Why did we all get called?" Calleigh asked.
"During the battle against the First Evil, Willow activated all the slayers. Locking her back inside the seal needed the blood of seven slayers." Calleigh shuddered. "There's over sixty of you now. We had fifteen at the battle and lost four. Plus a few others that weren't slayers."
"She's awfully young."
"I know that bad things come for slayers. That's why I train and some day Daddy will fuss and whine and throw a fit when I have to start hunting. But he'll trail me to make sure I'm okay my first few times. After he scares my watcher to death to make sure he knows he's going into the field as my backup."
"That's right, I am," Xander agreed. "Once you're out of high school, unless there's an emergency locally." He smiled at the worried blonde woman. "I'm truthful with them. They have to know in case something comes up or something comes after them. I'm very good at making sure she's training her butt as much as she can since she's already active." Calleigh shuddered. "The same things that come after you older ones can come after her and I can't be with her twenty-four/seven. Most of the time, but not in school. So she's training. She knows she's not old enough yet to handle anything. It's probably stealing some of her innocence but better that than to have her attacked at school by something that she didn't realize was out there."
"That's a good point. How long has she been active?"
"Almost four years now," he said. He gave her a slight smile. "You probably had some dreams about the battle. Most of the ones that weren't there did."
"I did have some shadowy dream with a scythe for some reason back that year."
"The slayer scythe is the special weapon of the line. It was needed and what calls the next one in line." He looked at the house. "Okay, Adanne. What did I tell you about blood magic?"
"Never do it unless it's absolutely necessary, make sure it's not chaos or black magic, and if you see it, start with holy water to make it stop and then move to fire if necessary." She gave Calleigh a proud look. "I only got those lessons last month from Auntie Dawn."
"That's good, sweetheart. What do we need to do?"
Xander handed her his pocket knife. "On the top and next step down. A few drops." She pricked her thumb, going to drip it there, then the next step down. Then on the spot she could feel lower. Then she came back to let her daddy kiss it once he had picked her up. "Good girl. Thank you."
"You're welcome. There was a lower spot."
"It felt like the scythe."
"Interesting. We'll have to have Auntie Dawn look at that." She nodded, resting against his shoulder. "Go ahead. We'll be on the porch until you clear the entry. Then she'll be on the porch and I'll make sure nothing attacks." She nodded, heading up there with her case. She carefully opened the door and looked inside with her flashlight shining around. He looked over her shoulder. "That's fresh blood," he muttered, putting her on the porch swing. "Stay." She nodded, curling up. He grabbed his hunting pack from the van and came up behind Calleigh. "There's got to be a decomp beast in here somewhere."
He moved carefully with her following. He found the beast in the kitchen and pulled his knife, getting a direct hit when the thing turned to growl at him. Another few came running in, but he had time to get out his crossbow and get them. They moved upstairs, nothing but an altar that he'd have to have Dawn help with. The half-basement reeked of blood once they opened the door to it. "Guess it's a storage area," he said grimly. He took her flashlight and squatted down to look through the hatch. "Eww. I can see bones sticking up." He handed it back and went to look at a few walls that looked squishy to him. He pressed on one. Nasty smelling fluid that looked like old blood came up. "I think we're going to need some renovations. What the hell was he doing?"
Horatio walked in. "You came in with her I hope?"
"She's staring in horror at the half-basement storage area. Look at this." He pressed, getting more fluid.
"That is not a good sign, no." Horatio looked at him. "The little girl?"
"Adanne is a fully active slayer. He had the wards set to eat anyone that didn't drip some slayer blood on them first. It also listed some things that would be coming for anyone who stepped in that a slayer could shoo off." Horatio nodded once at that. "I've already kissed her thumb better. We'll be on the porch for a while in case something shows up after sundown."
"That would be helpful."
"Altar on the second floor that I'm not sure anyone should touch. I need Dawn or Willow to look at it." That got another nod. He left them to it, going to sit beside his little girl. "You did good, squirt."
"Thank you, Daddy. Do we really have to go to the school with the nasty lady?"
"I thought we were going to Clayson."
"Their second grade teacher seemed mean to me."
"If she's mean to you I'll kick her ass, you know that." She beamed at him. "Do the best you can. That's all I expect."
"Yes, Daddy. Oooooooh, look." She pointed. "A swamp thingy."
Xander looked, then blinked a few times before getting off the porch and walking over there. "Peace," he said in the demon language he had learned off Spike and Anya. The demon hesitated. "I'm the new regional watcher." The demon bowed, keeping his eyes on him. Xander bowed back. "Do you protect here or did the last one have you linked here?"
"He had us moved here, Watcher."
Xander nodded. "If you want to, you and any others are free to go. My children and a few other hunters will be living here with us. We mean you no harm unless you're harmful to us, but I'm not going to keep you bound to the land." The demon nodded, backing up a few steps. "Are there more bodies buried anywhere?"
"No, Watcher. Not here. He had somewhere closer to my natural home for that."
"Can you tell me where? The ones inside wish to have them buried properly."
The demon nodded, drawing with his finger in the dirt. "There is where I live. Here is where he was working rituals."
"Do we know what he was doing?" He shook his head. "Then I thank you for your service; I wish you a happy, peaceful life." The demon nodded, bowing again before backing off then running. Xander looked around. "Hey, Horatio?" Calleigh came off the porch where she had been watching. "Cramps?"
She grimaced but nodded. "I get them now and then. All women do, Xander."
"Slayers get them when certain types of demons are around." She moaned. "Sorry. The demon that I just freed from his slavery to the lands said he lives here, and the asshole who tied him here was working black magic there," he said with a point at the map. "If it helps, he's naturally from a salty swamp area."
She squatted down to look at it. "I know that area of the county. We had a body found there a few months back but no idea why."
"I'm guessing whatever sort of magic he was working required a shitload of blood spilled." She nodded. "So let me know if you find something out there that needs to be handled."
"I will." She stood up. "You can go."
"No I can't. Anything that'll show up will probably be about dark." She grimaced but nodded. "Besides, I need to check the guest house for Dean and Sam." He grinned and they split up. He took Adanne with him to check the other houses. She took pictures of the map then went to tell Horatio. He came out to make sure of where it was. They had wondered about that body.
Xander walked in that night, putting Adanne down in her bed before coming out to join the other adults. "He had demons enslaved to protect the grounds." Sam grimaced. "They found parts for over sixteen bodies. An altar that has some scary shit on it that they won't touch until Dawn clears it, and some in the walls. We're going to have to destroy the main house. Fortunately there's the carriage house, a gardener's cottage, and the guest house. The guest house has five bedrooms. The carriage house has stairs, a huge garage, and four bedrooms. The cottage has one bedroom and three rooms total." Dean grinned at that. "Neither one had magic taint that I could tell. The carriage house is also where he was storing his apocalypse vault. Mostly older weapons. Some older guns. One muzzle loader for some reason." Dean grimaced but nodded. "So up to you two."
"Carriage house," they said in unison.
"Does it have a kitchen?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, fully set up. Some narrowish stairs to get up there from the garage but not too horrible and an external set of stairs that're better."
"That sounds decent. How soon before they clear it of bodies?"
"They're going to demolish the house. I pressed on a wall that was bowed out and it squished in that bad, looked like ancient blood way. They're going to be there for days."
"So when do you think we can move in?" Sam asked.
"Dawn has this weekend off. If she can go over it, both houses are out of the way of the main house." That got a nod. "So probably within the next week. I did release all the slaves he had on the grounds. Two told Horatio about where he was doing black magic."
"So he's spilled a lot of blood," Dean said. Xander nodded. "Anything else of note?"
"I got scowled at until Adanne told Horatio to quit scowling, that's what she did. That she had begged and tied up her sisters so she could help tonight instead of them. Calleigh asked her why so she told her. They all were very impressed with her logical, reasonable points about needing to know and it not being dangerous with me there to protect her. That if it needed slayer blood a small ouchie would only get her fussed over and cuddled. She made some other good points about the training being good for her and made sure all her siblings would be safe. She's finally decided having brothers is neat. She told Eric all about her siblings. He said Bri sounds like two of his sisters. She's still calling them boy-things but he understood because he only grinned at that name."
"That's good then," Sam agreed. "Any idea if his magic is going to come back and bite us on the ass?"
"Not yet. I'm still trying to figure out what he was doing. Horatio is bringing pictures of the altar tomorrow for Dawn to look at in case she needs to bring anything with her."
"Interesting." He looked toward the shared adult room. "She's down for a nap."
"She's working damn hard to keep good grades during her internship. I'm proud of her and her mom would be too." He smiled, shifting some. "I guess I'm sleeping on the couch. Thanks for babysitting, guys."
"Not a problem. We couldn't get Bobby away from the other boys anyway," Dean told him. Xander grinned at that. "Let us head back to our own beds. See you in the morning, Xander."
"Sure. He took over the couch once they were gone, turning the tv on quietly so he could fall asleep to some noise. Noise was always good to him anymore.
to part 2