Ballistic - post part 2
Gryphon's Troubles - during second seventh year
Thieves - during island time
Chicago - before part 80 and move to Mars, during that two year gap
GHS? - while in Miami. Mentioned only, a lot.
Lavelle walked into the Crossover Saloon, looking at the frantic man who had summoned him. "Okay, what's happened?" A beer and a shot was handed to him. "That bad?"
He nodded, swallowing. "You know that nexus points can remake themselves now and then?"
"Actually, every few centuries the points rearrange the paths they're on," he noted dryly, taking his shot then sipping his beer. "The last one led to all the dragon mythology because it crossed over into a world where it was there. We're getting ready to have another one?" The bartender nodded. "So what's the big? Am I involved?"
"Very involved. All the worlds.... The nexus that's shifting is this one, Xander." Xander nodded slowly at that and took another drink. "That means that this place won't be the same next time but it'll still be here, but the worlds that directly connect to here will be touching."
"Yours, the Xander who limps, the geeky Xander you met when the Rays showed up. Possibly the fuzzy one. That event was just too weird and I'm thinking it was a forewarning of what's coming."
"Also, we're all magical Xanders," he noted, finishing his beer. "Okay. What's the big issue? We can probably hang for a day or so."
"Try more like a month," he said dryly. He took the beer glass and cleaned it, putting it in a box. "I checked, you'll all be stuck. It'll be one big plane and I'm not sure why it'll stick."
"My guess would be Wolfram and Hart," the limping Xander, the father to Iggy, said as he appeared. "Hola."
"The nexus points are shifting," Lavelle told him, waving him closer.
"Wonderful. We heard a rumor and a prophecy about that. It's cool, but something or someone is going to be sticking it due to the desire for certain artifacts and ingredients to do a Godmaking Potion." He sat down, looking at the bartender. "I take it we're involved?" He nodded. "Who else?"
"That last meeting was probably prophetic," he offered. "The only one I'm not sure about is the furry one, but we might need him. He's powerful. More powerful than either of you without your special gifts."
Both Xanders nodded. "Can we arrange for them to join in?" Lavelle asked.
"Hopefully," the bartender offered, pulling out a journal and handing it over. "It'll have to be cast *as* the worlds start to touch, or else there'll be a lag and they could get trapped out of sequence and be destroyed."
"Hmm, wonderful." Gryphon Xander looked it over, then nodded. "I can do this with Draco and Iggy." He looked at Lavelle. "Do you need in this?"
"I'm going to have the most problems. Remember, we've got the kids who stole from you guys."
"Point," Xander agreed with a grin. "The first successful theft in nearly six hundred years," he praised. "They're damn good."
"They're teenagers now," Lavelle noted dryly. "They're even better. I've been working hard on them." He looked at the bartender. "Where's the convergence points?"
"London and Chicago. Technically this bar would physically be in London in either of your worlds."
"So, you're the Leaky Cauldron?"
"No, he's the Maystaff," Lavelle told him. "I'll show you when it shows up. We'll go whine about our kids." He looked at him. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, the geeky Xander doesn't use magic, but he can," he said bitterly. "You'll have to make him." They both nodded at that. "Two other worlds are coming in as well, both of them are like the Forgotten Realms. Without the elves. I wouldn't worry about those."
"But ogres, orcs, and dragons are probably fair game," Xander noted dryly. The bartender nodded. "Especially in Chicago?" He nodded again. "Good deal. When?"
"Tonight at midnight. It's nearly eight in your time," he offered. "I wish I had known sooner, guys."
"Not an issue, we're used to spot emergencies," Lavelle noted. "I'm sure I was in the past in his world too."
"Yeah, that's why I limp," Xander agreed. He shrugged. "Okay, send me back."
"Sure." He touched him on the hand and he faded out. He looked at Lavelle. "You've got to warn the kids. I saw Arsene being eaten this time."
"Eh, she likes dragons. She'll learn." He grinned. "She's not quite that dumb. Send me home too so I can give orders to the Empire." His hand was touched and he found himself back on their island. He looked at the people gathered around. "Ishi, I need to call a general contact meeting. Guys, we're about to have a nexus shift. That means our world will be touching with some others. Arsene, I was told to warn you not to walk up and pet the dragons."
"Dragons?" Jigen asked, following him down to the office. "What dragons?"
"Don't ask," he called back, heading down to his real office cavern. He saw everyone's pictures up. "Guys. Major magical event coming," he reported. "This is not a drill, we're having a nexus shift happen. That means at least five other worlds will be touching ours within a day or so, they'll probably be here for a month. I want everyone on alert and ready for anything. We're getting two worlds that have dragons and things as well as other worlds with other Xanders."
"Tell me you're joking!" Bastian said, laughing a bit. Xander frowned at him. "Oh, please, tell me you're joking?" he begged.
"No joke. Sorry. We've seen them before. That's how we got the phoenix actually. The kid went to loot in a Harry Potter universe." He looked at the others, who were just looking horrified. "It's happening tonight, people, or early tomorrow. London, you and Chicago are being the worst hit. You're the points of intersection. Clear your area, warn the others, get word out to the underground Wiccan network there as well. Tell them to find a damn big bunker for a few days at the least. There will probably be some explosions of magic because I know at least two of the worlds are more magic heavy." Spider, his head over London's operations nodded quickly. "Good. The rest of us, hang on, it should only last a month. Give me daily updates and just dig in, people. It's going to get strange but it'll end within a month, we think." He signed off and looked at his family. "All right. We've got to head to Chicago. Melissa, don't bug Ray for now." She nodded at that, swallowing a bit. "Arsene, again, don't pet the dragons. Bigger Arsene, you don't pet the dragons either. Goemon, are you going to Chicago with us or to London?"
"I'm going to London with the other kids," Ishi told him. "Sorry, but I'd rather be there with Melissa and Lotus in case we needed magical support there."
"Actually, limping Xander, the one we got the phoenix from and you guys robbed the Gringotts of, is one of those worlds. He and I just met at the Crossover Saloon to discuss this event. It only happens every few centuries." He clapped his hands. "Having said that, if you guys want to go play with their kids, be my guest." He looked at his lovers. "You guys can stay here if you want. I won't force you to come with me. There's going to be a few Xanders there." They shuddered and Goemon looked horrified so he grinned at him. "I met the Biker Mouse me," he said proudly. "He was so cute! He was a white mouse!" He hopped up the stairs, going to go pack and set things up to run in his absence, unless Lupin the Third was staying, then he could handle food stuffs. He came out of his bedroom with a bag and a backpack. "Lupin, you staying?"
"Please, God, don't make me go deal with another you ever again?" he pleaded, kissing and holding him. "I'll be a good boy and only please you for the next year if you don't make me deal with another Xander ever again."
"Sure, babe. The forms are on the office computer. There's a food order to be made. Everything's set up on routine once you've made the order. Just hang on, okay?" He nodded and Xander headed out to the car, watching as the kids and Goemon got in with him. "Goemon, where are we sending you?"
"I'll go with you to keep you out of trouble," he noted. He looked over as Jigen came out, nodding at him. "Are you coming?"
"Hell no. I don't step foot in Chicago unless it's an emergency." He waved, then kissed his daughter on the cheek. "Behave. Remember to warn Dawn and them."
"I'll do that as we head for the helicopter," Melissa promised. "Bye, daddy. Be safe."
"You guys too." He waved as the jeep took off, shaking his head. That was too strange for him. There was no way he should ever have to deal with more than one Xander. No one should ever have to deal with more than one Xander.
Xander appeared in his shop, looking at the twins. "Close, get me Draco now. Iggy and Simone and Percy as well. It's an emergency coming. We're in for a nexus switch," he said as he headed for the living room. He found the books he'd need in gryphon for his son and Draco, and then went to raid the potions ingredients. Everyone but Draco was there within moments. He called him since Fred just shrugged. "Draco Malfoy, get your blond ass here now!" he snapped. "We're having a nexus switch and we're about to be joined with at least five other worlds, including two with heavier dragon populations! London's a point of match!" Draco looked horrified. "We've got to add in another world or else we'll be stuck *forever* that way." Draco came out of the floo and took the spellbook from him, sitting down to read it. He looked at everyone else, noticing the extra people. "Draco, we've got to do that spell *as soon as* the point starts. It's supposed to start at midnight."
"No forewarning?" Katie demanded.
Xander shook his head. "Nope, sorry. I just ended up at that Crossroads Saloon place again. The bartender called me and the Xander over those kids, Percy, they're coming too, and we've *got* to add in this other world or else. It'll last a month this time, London and Chicago are the main points of intersection. He said at least five worlds, including our two and the two that are like the Forgotten Realms, only without the elves. That means any and all magical creatures are going to be coming across." Draco pulled on Iggy's arm, taking him back to the Manor to get some ingredients they'd still need. He looked at the rest of them. "The world with those kids is coming and at least one other one with a me there. We think it's going to be one I met recently. He doesn't really do magic, he's a ballistics person. That means he's a cop and he deals with guns. He's another who said we're books to them." That got a small moan from Percy and his wife Arabelle. "There could be more," he admitted. "I have not a fucking clue, people, but it will only, hopefully, last a month. The bartender said someone's going to be sticking it for a bit because they want potion stuff for a Godmaking potion probably, just like our prophecy. Any questions so far?"
"Why are we adding in another world?"
Xander grinned. "There's a huge, fuzzy me who can help us break the bond. We need them. We need them a lot. So we'll have to touch the two spots. That might mean that I and Iggy have to go to Chicago as well. I'm not sure," he admitted. "I know that the geeky Xander doesn't really use magic. I'm thinking the furry us does."
"Cool," Simone offered. "What's my part in this?"
"You and Melvin are protecting the school, princess. You're taking over protection of Hogsmeade and the school if something happens. I can't be sure the Voldemorts in their world aren't gone. I also can't guarantee other odd things won't trundle up this way."
"Chicago and London could touch," Percy noted calmly. "They're sister cities for strange and unusual happenings. I've got to start the alarms." He got up, heading back to the Ministry. For the third time in his life he took off running up the halls, scaring everyone in the building at this hour. A few even burst out in tears. He ran into the meeting he and Arabelle had left, which was being held over to make sure this wasn't important news, panting hard. "Prophecy coming tonight. Nexus switching," he gasped. "Dragons and other muggles. London and Chicago."
"Excuse me!" his father yelled, standing up. He was the Minister for Magic. It was his job to get upset. "What's going on?" Percy held up a finger and caught his breath. "Whenever you can give a concise report," he agreed, glaring a bit at his son.
Percy took one last long breath then let it out. "All right then. Xander just got back from that Crossroads place again. The bartender up there said that the nexus switching we heard about is coming, tonight at midnight precisely from what he said. It'll last for a month because the other part of the prophecy is correct. We're going to have to add in another world besides the ones already coming because we'll be stuck forever this way if not." Everyone groaned. "We had to get another magical Xander involved. It's us and Chicago that are touching. He said two worlds like the Forgotten Realms games he has books about. Only no elves. Just dragons and other creatures he thinks." Arthur nodded slowly. "There's at least five worlds touching, including the world where those dratted thieving children came from. He was warned at the same time. We know it's us and Chicago and we're adding in that other world tonight so we can solve it."
"Isn't that dangerous?" one of the other Under-Ministers demanded.
"If not, we'll be like this forever more," Percy told him. "Did you really want to come out of your flat tomorrow and walk into the back of an orc or an ogre, or even a dragon?" He shook his head quickly. He looked at his father. "Xander said he may have to hit Chicago, he's not sure yet, but he's turned his protection spot over to Melvin and Simone. Iggy and Draco are working on the spell to cast it when it starts. That way we're not buggered by this being permanent." He took another deep breath. "We need to warn others. It'll cause a panic among the muggles but we'll be working our arses off for the next month, father."
"I agree, we will be. When is it happening?"
"It starts at midnight."
"They couldn't give us more warning?"
"I don't think they got it," Percy told him dryly. He looked at his father again. "Can we warn the muggles?"
"No, but we can't exactly not warn them either," he agreed, sitting down again. "All right. The main problems appear to be random creatures?"
"And other worlds of us," Percy told him. "Xander said he can't be sure that Voldemort is dead in their worlds. We know the world with those children we're only a book but magic is different and strong there." Arthur and the others nodded at that. "We're having to add in another magical Xander to handle this, upon orders of the barkeeper, but no one was sure if the naturally occurring other Xander, a geeky one he said, used or not." He sat down, looking around. "We've got three main problems. Muggles, because this was what got most of the dragon mythology among them started, the other worlds touching ours, and any possible creatures."
"Fine, we'll work things out," Arthur told him. He looked at the head of the Magical Creatures department. "Get on the floo, get every single conservation group here by tomorrow."
"Chicago as well, Minister," Percy noted. "They don't even have a school there."
"I'll call Salem's headmaster personally," Arthur promised. "We're going to be too stretched doing London. They'll have to handle their own. If Xander has to go, I want more than a letter stating it and how to reach him."
"Of course," Xander agreed as he came in. "I do have to go. Draco's started the spell. It's necessary. Sorry. Simone's got my spot with the twins. Don't worry about it, I asked a Xander who came through temporarily and he said Voldemort wasn't in any of their worlds. To them, we're books." That got some whining noises. "Tough, people! We've got a major preserve in both cities, Arthur. I'm heading to Chicago to meet with the other Xanders coming. Draco felt it and started the spell on time."
"That's fine, Xander. Be safe and let us know what's going on."
"Of course. Someone tell Dumbledore to cover my classes please." He headed back to the apparation point, sighing as he started off. This was going to give him a headache to teleport so far. Then again, he'd never been to Chicago, he had only seen pictures.
Behind him, the Ministry was yelling at each other and shouting counterproductive orders to get things done. They'd work it out by morning, they'd have to.
Xander Harris looked up from his microscope, frowning a bit. "What the fuck?" he muttered, heading over to his lover's lab, not even bothering to knock. "I've got to head for a few," he reported. He took off his labcoat and hung it up. Then he stole a kiss. "I just felt something really wrong happening outside." He grabbed a gun and headed out, stopping when he saw all the guys standing in the doorway. "Is it a riot?" he called.
"No," one said weakly. "It's a dragon."
"It's a what?" he asked, snorting a bit as he walked that way. "Well, damn, it is." He stared up at the dragon. "Are you sentient?" he asked. Everyone gave him a dirty look for trying to talk to it. He could feel it. "I don't want to hurt it," he defended. He looked up and the dragon only stared back. "Well, are you?" It leaned down to sniff him. "Hmm, apparently not." He walked outside and someone thoughtfully closed and locked the door behind him. "Don't worry, they're just scared. Not that I'm not, because I'm about to piss myself, but you're a very pretty green dragon." He reached up to pat her on the side. Or at least he had decided it was a her dragon. He pulled out his cellphone and paged through his phonebook, finding the store in Cleveland's number. He called, continuing to try to keep the creature calm. A cop car came flying in with its lights on and he shot at the lights, stopping them because the dragon and flinched. "Don't spook it!" he yelled at the angry shouting. "She could attack!" He listened to the cheerful person on the other end asking what was attacking. "A dragon, Wills. A big, pretty green dragon. No, I'm not high," he sighed. "Got a picture phone or something?" He took a picture and sent it to her phone, then listened as she went to find it and look at it. "Well, it's calm and not killing everyone, but it doesn't speak. It seems to like me petting it. It took a long sniff but didn't like lights or sirens. Yeah, kinda necessary, Wills," he said dryly.
The door behind him opened and he glanced back. "Inside!" he ordered. "Let these guys come in too! I need a report of *everything* that's suddenly different or wrong," he ordered as the cops passed him by.
"I didn't know ballistics dealt with this stuff too," one of them said bitterly. "I guess I don't want to go there now."
"We don't usually but unfortunately I grew up around this," Xander deadpanned. "This is nothing compared to some of the strange I've seen. Most ballistics techs only get guns." He patted him on the back. "It'll be fine. You can come do your internship with me if you want." He went back to listening to Willow babble at Giles and Buffy. "Guys, dealing how?" he demanded with a sigh. "Well, I'm doubting its the only one," he said dryly, rolling his eyes. He popped his neck and the dragon growled. "Sorry, dear." He went back to petting her, looking around the dragon as the person in robes appeared. "Huh. Robes. Wand. Hey, I know the book you came from," he said with a grin. He looked at the dragon, then walked around to talk to him. "I've got the slayers in Cleveland on the phone. How strange is this? I'm the gateway of strange here in town."
The wizard looked at him, then at the dragon who was bending down to sniff him again. "I see." He shook his head quickly. "Do you know what nexus points are?" Xander listened then nodded once Willow explained it. "They're touching." He looked him over again. "Are you a Xander?" He nodded slower this time. "I was told to remind you about that bar place? This is one of those worlds and there's a few more of you coming, including a limping one I was told to tell you? Also possibly a bad guy you."
"Okay then," he said, nodding just once. "Cool. How bad is the strange, do we need a slayer on active duty here, and how long?"
"A month, it might help but might not, and it's going to get worse. There's two worlds like his, which I was told to tell you were like the Forgotten Realms?" Xander shivered at that. "Only no elves."
"Pity, but cool I guess. And?"
"The limping you and he said the bad guy you, but the Minister for Magic, Mr. Weasley, also said something about a furry you possibly."
"Hmmm. Interesting. Okay. Are you staying?" He snorted and shook his head. "We'll need someone to pick up the magical creatures, dude."
"I don't care," he said, grinning at him. "I'm only here to brief you. You've got a better one coming with the limping guy. I'll gladly take the dragon with me though." He raised his wand and muttered something and he left, but the dragon stayed.
"It didn't follow," Xander called. He looked at the dragon, then listened to Willow babble some more. "Send me an unfun-kill one," he ordered. "Apparently what happens in Chicago stays in Chicago." He hung up and went back to petting it. "Why don't you sleep, sweetheart. Just don't eat anyone or my dog, okay?" He walked back to the door, finding it locked. He knocked and no one answered. So he shot the lock and walked in, then slammed the door. "I need the Chief on the line when I get up there," he ordered. "It's gonna last a month and it's going to get weirder." He headed up the stairs, finding Welsh in his doorway, with the phone in his hand. "Nexus points are where worlds touch. Chicago's one," he reported, standing in front of him. "We've got a few of them touching with bleedover. We've got two worlds that are basically the Forgotten Realms, including mythical beasts, and a few others of me coming. It'll last a month. That means suddenly appearing trees, some houses being there possibly, but it's being held inside Chicago's boundaries. Someone tried to take the dragon and it didn't work." Welsh moaned. "So we've got to figure out how to deal and not get dead." He heard a roar and walked over to shoot at the siren going past. "No sirens around the dragons, Lieutenant. It pisses them off and they'll attack people or things," he said tiredly.
"The Chief said he doesn't have a clue what you're talking about, Harris," Welsh admitted, hanging up. "He will be putting out orders to be more careful and to keep away from anything bigger than a building or with large teeth." He looked at him, seeing the defeated slump of his shoulders. "What?" he asked dryly. "Too magical for you?"
Xander glared at him. "I ...." He cleared his throat. "I was given the opportunity to practice like my friend Willow did and I turned it down, but the good news is that the Harry Potter books are real somewhere because we just saw one of them." He pointed down there at the robed guy, who was back and looking quite confused. "See." Welsh came over to look, then looked at him before moaning and heading in to his couch for a nap. "Not my fault this time," he called. "It happens every few centuries!" He looked at Ray. "Do you remember that bar place?" He shuddered but nodded. "Okay, the limping Xander guy is headed here to help us. Possibly the furry me as well. I need to know and to call the comic shop and a few others." He headed into the office and slammed the door. "I'm taking over your desk and phone, sir."
"I'll go nap in the breakroom," he muttered, taking his blanket and pillow that way.
First, Xander called his backup. "Hey, Renny, there's a pretty green dragon outside the station," he said cheerfully. "Yeah, I said a dragon. I meant it too. Sure, come help! The door's presently broken so you may need to force your way in." He hung up and started on the others.
Charley Davidson, owner of the Last Chance Garage, opened her garage's doors and looked outside, finding the big thing standing there staring at her, looking very confused. She opened her mouth to scream, but it wasn't attacking her, just looking very confused. So she shook her head and opened a window that was right next to the lair next door. "XANDER! WHY IS THERE A DRAGON OUTSIDE!' she yelled. "GET YOUR TAIL OVER HERE, NOW!"
Vinnie opened the front door, looking up at the giant lizard creature, then blinked a few times. "Xander!" he yelled. "Dragon!"
"They're mythological creatures!" Dawn snapped. She looked over his shoulder and then he got out of the way, making her stop and gape. "Well, shit," she said finally. "That's not normal." She frowned, walking out to touch it. He grabbed her with his tail and she swatted at it. "Let me! I'm better prepared!" She got free and walked out, touching it gently on the leg. It moved the leg and leaned down to sniff her, then licked her on the cheek. "Hey to you too," she said, patting it on the nose. "Where did you come from, sweetie?" She looked around, then back at the house. "Vincent, go get me the purple prophecy book please," she stated calmly. "Keep your son away from the dragon as well." She smiled sweetly. "By the way, there's about twelve of them up the street."
"Cheese!" he said, leaning out to look. He walked back and pounded on the couple's door, getting an irritated Throttle right before he kicked it in. "There's at least ten dragons on our street," he growled, heading up to the library.
"Dragons?" he called. "They're myths, bro!"
Xander groaned as he got up and walked outside, then blinked up at the dragon. It sniffed him and pulled him closer to sniff some more. "Yeah, I smell like sex. Blame me much with a studly mouse like Throttle in my bed?" He looked at Dawn. "Explanations?" he asked calmly.
"I didn't do it!"
"I didn't say you did," he retorted, trying to stay calm. He looked over at Modo. "Not the cannon, it's never seen one and I'd already be eaten if it didn't like me." He looked at the dragon, then back at Modo. "I don't think there's anything that can kill them in our arsenal anyway, big fella. Go call Micah, Dawn?" She nodded, going to do that, taking the book from Vinnie. Xander watched as the baby mouse of the family came out, grinning at him and the dragon. "Inside, Victor!"
"No!" He walked up and patted the dragon on the foot, then beamed at it when the large nose came down. "No sniffy me! I not wear diapers anymore!" he said, stomping his foot. "My unclie!"
"She's not hurting me, Vic. Go find your daddy, tell him to get a camera so you can get a picture taken with the dragon."
Vic squealed and noticed the garage's door was open so he headed that way. He beamed at his mother. "Snake, momma, big snake! Pictures! I cute!"
"I'm sure you are," she agreed, putting him into the office and closing the door on him. He couldn't get out yet. She looked outside, noticing the naked Xander mouse was still being held like it was cuddling him. "Changing lovers?"
"Well, she's pretty and cool, but I kinda like my male mouse. Sorry," he deadpanned. He looked up at her. "I have no idea what we're supposed to do about you, sweetheart. I'm not killing you since you're not violent, presently, but I have no idea what to do about you."
Throttle came to the door and took the picture, then looked at the dragon, who leaned over to sniff him. "You've got my boy. Can I have him back? Micah kinda wants him on the phone." The dragon snorted and went back to sniffing the Xander. So he got the cordless and came over to hand it to him, putting the bud into his ear. "Micah."
"Hey, Micah. Why is there about ten dragons on my street, including the one cuddling me?" He listened to the click. "Dial the office," he called. Throttle dialed ECHO headquarters, after all that agency dealt with the strange stuff. "Lorne, why am I being cuddled by a dragon and why are there more of them on my street?" He listened to the preliminary report. "No, no slayer needed, Lorne. They're not hurting anyone presently. I'm just being cuddled and sniffed. Hey, watch the tail!" he complained, moving the big nose away from his tail. "You're not getting that, sorry, dear." He listened to the laugh. "Hey, Throttle, email that picture to Lorne, babe," he called.
"Already did," came out of the office. Dawn opened a window. "It's a nexus switching, Xander. It's going to be about a month."
"Fuck me," he sighed. "Did you get that with the picture, Lorne?" He sighed. "Lorne?" The man on the other end started to splutter. "Cool beans. Now what? Why would I want to go to the cops about the dragons? There's another me here?" he asked, making Dawn shudder. "Besides the vampire me?" He nodded once. "Sure, let me get dressed. No, I'm naked. Vinnie woke me up. Thanks." He hung up and tossed the headset back. "Okay, I've got to go put on clothes," he announced. "Let me go, dear." The dragon went back to sniffing him so he wiggled out and went back inside, going to put on some semi-decent clothes. He walked out back and found his bike growling at the orc standing out back. Then he grabbed a sword. "You guys are all bad, right?" It tried to lunge and hit him but he stabbed it and then tossed it aside. "Modo, come guard the back door!" he called before taking off.
"Where are you heading!" Charley snapped over his radio in his helmet.
"To the precinct. There's at least another me here who can help with this. I'm going to get information before Vic decides he wants a new pet." He turned off his radio and sped up, weaving around the dragons on the street. One was following him though so he sped up more, not wanting there to be any problems, like a territory fight. He pulled into the parking lot and parked, looking at the dragon sitting there. "Another one, okay." He got off. "Only stun them gently, they're as confused as I am," he ordered. He walked up to the door, noticing it was broken, had been shot, and was probably being propped up. So he kicked it in and headed inside. "Where's the me here?" he called as he walked. "And where's Kowalski and Vecchio?"
"Same place, Interrogation three," an officer called. "Are you a Xander too and what's with that thing out there?"
"She's asleep, dude. She won't attack. They like to sniff. They're just as confused as we are." He headed up the stairs unchallenged, waving as he got off at the top and headed in the proper direction. He found the room from the yelling Ray sounds and knocked before walking in. "Okay, are we in *your* world or my world?" he asked at the shocked looks.
"It's all the same in Chicago and London," one of the hims noted, waving a hand. "Welcome here. The nexus points are touching. It'll be a month of this."
"Oh, goodie," he said as he sat down, looking at the two Rays. "Only two of you?"
"Another set is coming," the older looking Xander noted dryly. "You might remember Lavelle and his Ray?"
"I certainly remember Lavelle," he said, staring him down. "Why do we need the thief and assassin me here?"
"He's a Demon Lord," the geeky Xander sighed, rubbing his eyes. He got a gentle pat on the back from the guy beside him. "This is a bit too strange for me. Alternate realities, fine. More than one touching and I need a long nap and a cuddle."
Furry Xander patted him on the hand. "It's all right," he promised calmly. "Do you do magic?" He looked up and shook his head. "By choice or by lack of power?"
"Choice," he said quietly. He heard a shot and winced. "Is that him?"
"Too low caliber. I'm guessing that's Chassis. Chassis!" he yelled. She came to the door and leaned in. "There's another me heading in with another Ray and possibly another Stan if what I remember is correct. The me has silver hair; be very gentle with him, he will kill if you try to harm him. Do not shoot at the dragons and get online to find a Forgotten Realms creature manual." She nodded, going to pass that on. "I'm figuring since I saw an orc outside the house."
The older Xander nodded. "Definitely. Two worlds like that, mine, Ballistic Xander here's, yours, and Lavelle's that we know of."
"Cool." Xander looked at the glaring Rays. "Sit down!" he yelled suddenly. They sat and glared at him instead. "Thank you! Get together and get drunk later or go see your mother!" He looked at the younger Xander. "If it's the only way, can we count on you to use some of the skills you chose not to?" He swallowed and nodded. "I'll explain it to whatever person you're married to, honey. It's not a problem."
"It is. I never told David I can do magic," he said quietly. He ran a hand through his hair. "I'm in for the fight of the century when I finally get home. He hates me fighting."
"Shit happens and sometimes you've got to," the older Xander noted, patting him on the back. "I'm sure we can reassure him that it's a once in a lifetime event." Xander snorted and shook his head. "No?"
"No, I'm not betting that way. I'm betting on a lot of yelling and screaming." He looked at the door. "Okay, we've got other Mounties too. I called in my second since I'm teaching Turnbull how to fight demons."
"Cool. We've got the bros," mouse Xander promised. "We've also got more dragons on my street than here." He heard a roar and got up, heading down to the door with a sigh. "Leave my bike the hell alone!" he yelled at the human. "I'll have her kill your stupid ass next time, officer! This is not how I wanted to wake up and you're interrupting my day-off sex!" The cop looked horrified so he went back upstairs, going back to the meeting. "We should really take this to the house. I've got the libraries," he told the older Xander. "Who else is coming? We can set up a point for teleporting or whatever."
"Technically, Draco or Iggy could be showing up soon," he offered with a small smirk. "I teach at Hogwarts, me."
"Cool. We'll deal." He looked at the geeky one. "How about you?" He nodded, swallowing. "Good. It'll be us for now. Get your mate. Tell your second to hang at the Consulate so we can find him." That got a nod and a small relief of the gloom going on. "Someone tell the bad guy me to follow. Rays?" They shuddered. "Fine, head home or stay here. I want you where we can find you. I want reports, up to the minute, of what's going on around the city. We need to know the scope and the breadth of this problem." He stood up. "Can you get there or did you want to ride with one of us?" he asked.
"I'll ride with you if it's not a problem," he offered, standing up. "I'm sure my cane can be held."
"Sure. Younger me?" That got a nod. "Good. Head down to get your boy. We'll meet at the Last Chance Garage. It's down by Dover." That got another nod. "Have Chassis out there give you directions if you need it." He walked out and whistled, getting everyone's attention. "All right, it's going to be a long damn month. If I'm right about what's going on, it won't happen again for at least two hundred years. The multiple Xanders are going back to the Last Chance and the lair. Tell the missing one that. The Rays are either staying here and doing something constructive or heading home. The Mounties are to go back to their Consulate for the moment until we've got comprehensive reports on what *exactly* has happened. Chassis, you're in charge of that. I need full reports, down to the scouting, babe. Got it?" She nodded. "Good. There's another me, he's older, he's got silver hair if I remember right, he's got that air of danger and mystery. I need him at the lair. Give him and the younger me here direction. You stay here, coordinate reports. Just like during the war." She nodded. "I need it ASAP."
"Yes, Xander." She sat down to start making calls.
"Why are you in charge?" one of the Rays snorted.
"Because this is gonna take magic to fix, Ray. You suddenly have that skill?" He shuddered. "Also, the dragons come from a D&D sorta world."
"I've got a slayer coming," the younger Xander offered hesitantly.
"Cool beans. Have them take out the orcs and ogres. Have someone find them the creature manual so they know what to touch and what not to touch. Don't. Touch. The. Dragons. You can't kill 'em and we can't kill 'em. So just don't. You can try herding or not. Any of the Xander families comes to us. Got it?" Welsh nodded. "Good. Go through Chassis. If I'm right you've got at least one other Ray coming. A few months back all of us met at a nexus point place called the Crossroads Saloon. Or sometimes the Crossover Saloon. Anyone who says anything about it, I need to know. It could be really important." That got a nod. "For now, treat it like you would an alien invasion, consider this a drill for that. It's gonna be a long damn month." He headed out, walking over the dragon's tail and out to his bike. "Hey, bike, we're taking this me here to the lair. He's riding with me. Do not fuss about the magic around him." He pulled on his helmet. "Babe, you on?"
"No, but I am," Modo said. "He's taking something for his headache. What's going on?"
"It's a nexus switching event. We're getting a few others Xander's coming in to work on this. We'll need at least three rooms ready. The Xanders are coming with me. There's one still missing as far as we know. Chassis' sending scouting reports. So someone head to the store to get some more coffee please." He hung up and looked at the other Xander as he came out with a guy he'd seen on TV. "Hey, I know you." He shook his hand. "David Hodges, right?" He nodded. "Cool, here you're a tv show."
He shook his head. "This is all a bit strange for me. I was in the lab doing something constructive while Xander was handling it."
"It'll get worse but this way you'll have a good place to hide if your present place is occupied." That got a lick of his lip. "It seems to be an option, you can check on it once we're all together. Get on, let's head." He got onto his bike and his passenger climbed on behind him. "Feet on the little pads and arms around me, Xander. Put the cane through your belt or something."
"Sure." He did that and held on. "Not much different than riding a broom." Xander chuckled and started the bike, making him shiver. "Except for that. That's a strong engine."
"Yeah, my bike's a great guy." His bike beeped. "Home. Home and only home. Someone else can run out for coffee." He looked at the small dragon trying to chew on the tires and used his tail to pick it up then held it up. "Hey, momma dragons?" The sleeping one snorted and woke up. "We've got an orphan here," he said, handing it over and taking off before it could protest. "I think that's a male but he'll be fine. I hope." He sped up, going through a yellow. "Okay, give me the full rundown?"
"I can wait until we get back to your place. That way I don't have to repeat it."
"Sure! Not an issue. That's actually a pretty good idea." He touched his radio button. "Hey, babe. Get some munchies too please?"
"Xander," Throttle said patiently. "They're going to freak out."
"Babe, one's got a wand and compared to dragons, giant mice aren't nothin' to be scared of," he said dryly. "But it will be four Xanders brainstorming so we'll need munchies and probably chinese food."
"Oooh, I haven't had Chinese food in ages," the Xander behind him moaned. "It's really hard to get one to deliver to Hogsmeade."
"I bet," Xander agreed. "Please, babe?"
"Fine." He hung up.
Vinnie came on a moment later. "Bro, need anything else? Like me?"
"Not yet, Vinnie. We'll figure that out once we've got the briefing done and Chassis starts piling in the scouting reports. You can try to herd the dragons if you want, but be careful. Some are still pretty scared. After all, they've never seen a bike." His bike swerved around one in the middle of the road. "Oh, hey, we've got suddenly appearing trees too. Bike, be a dear and send that information to Chassis' bike?" It beeped and did so. "Thanks. Be careful on your ride, big brother."
"Yeah, I don't think my studly bod would look too good after being chomped. When you get here, can you please get Vic away from the dragon? His momma's panicking and I can't make him let go."
"Sure. It'll be about another ten minutes. Oh, hey, the younger Xander is married to one of the guys from CSI: Las Vegas." Vinnie moaned and cut the connection. He snickered. "This is going to test the limits of the strange we can all take," he offered.
"Probably true. Then again, my son's going to go into blissful overload. He could probably pick up some shed scales for free. He's a potions master."
"Congrats. I design weapons." He pulled his sword carefully and got an ogre in the back of the knees as they passed by it, letting the car it was menacing speed off. "And another one," he sighed. "Did you ever want to go to the D&D worlds?"
"Now and then," he admitted. "Then I found out I was gryphon born and I could do magic so it's nearly as good."
"Wow. I do magic, but not like that."
"That's fine, I'm sure we can all learn from each other." He grinned at the streetfull of dragons. "Well, it looks like a parade."
"If I'm right either Dawn pulled them to her with her innate gifts or Vic's calling them to pet them." He rode up beside the garage and looked at his nephew. "If you let go of the dragon, I'll make you pancakes." The baby spit at him so he reached over and picked him up, looking at him. "No playing with the dragons today, Victor. You'll make your momma upset." He rode into the garage and parked. "So, Charley, are you officially closed today?" he asked as the car that had followed them pulled in and let the Xander out, then it left to check out their home.
"I don't think anyone's going to be doing much traveling today," she said bitterly. She looked at the other two. "Hi." Then she blinked at them. "You're both... Xander. How?"
"Other worlds, ma'am," the younger one said, giving her a small shrug and a sheepish grin. "I'm pretty lost myself. This is well beyond my usual level of strange but there's another of us coming."
"Sure," she said, nodding. "Where?" She looked at her Xander, the furry one. "Where are you going?"
"Library. For now. Come check on us later. We could be expecting some family, probably Chassis soon. Maybe a Ray or two." He headed that way. "Come on, guys."
"Sure," the older Xander said with a grin for her. "It only happens every few hundred years."
"Good! I won't be seeing the next one!" She went into the office, going to find her stash of medicine. She had to have something stronger than Tylenol. She called Enamel. "There are multiple Xanders in the library. What can I take for that?" She looked out as a big nose came into the garage. "Out!" she yelled. It withdrew with a small snort. "Thank you! You'll break the door and I've had to replace it too many times thanks to the mice!" She listened to him laugh. "Look outside, Enamel," she suggested. He did and squeaked, a very unmanly sound. Then he coughed and did it in a lower register, making her laugh. "Along with the dragons, who Vic loves to pet and called to pet, we've got multiple Xanders. What can I take and do you have any?" His quiet words made her chuckle. "No, I don't know anyone with any pot. Dawn might." She hung up and sat down, watching the door for more big noses. She really didn't need to repair the garage again. She had done it plenty of times thanks to the three original mice in her lives.
The gathered Rays walked into their house, staring at the same things. It was exactly the same as their homes. The only difference was this one was quieter than any of theirs. "Ma?" they called.
"In here, bambino," a older, female voice called.
They headed back to the kitchen and stopped to stare. There were two Ma's. The two Rays stared and one of them whimpered, and it was his mother who came over to give him a hug. "Ma?" he asked pitifully.
"Bambino, do you know what's going on?" the other Ma asked.
He nodded and the other Ray answered. "There's a situation where multiple worlds are touching. The Xanders are dealing with it." He looked at them, then around the house. "Where's Maria and the kids?"
"We sent them all out to a hotel," the cuddling Ma offered. "It was a bit crowded and noisy." Both Rays nodded at that. "Now, tell us what's really going on."
"Just that," the mentally aching Ray said quietly. "They're touching and switching somehow. It's us and London, Ma. Mas," he corrected. "We're dealing with it but Xander is doing the research. Both our Xanders. There may be another Ray, why isn't his mother here?"
"Maybe his mother moved to Europe to be with him when he moved to Interpol," the second Ray offered. "I know my Ma was thinking about traveling over there some year." His mother smiled and pinched his cheek, going to the fridge to pull out some food. "Not now, Ma. We've both got upset stomachs from this. We saw three Xanders together earlier. We've got really bad heartburn."
The first Ray nodded. "Lieutenant Welsh is passed out on a couch so he doesn't have to deal with it and Stan's chatting with himself about stuff and Stella and Mounties. Apparently one's not gay."
Ma pinched his cheek and got him something soothing. "How are you going to work this?"
"How long will it last?" the other Ma asked.
"A month," the Rays groaned in unison.
The mothers made upset noises and hugged their baby boys. They obviously needed help.
The Rays looked at each other. "If we get that third Ray, we've got to go out tonight," the first noted. The other nodded. "Wine bar?"
"Sounds good," the second Ray agreed. "Then what?"
"Rotate out? That way we can each do some work and the paperwork? It's only fair."
"Fine," the second Ray agreed. "Just don't leave me with the gay Stanley. He's kinda freaky."
"No, ya think?" Ray taunted, smirking at himself. "Just think, he's bagged both Mounties. Not even Xander can compare with that." The other Ray groaned and rubbed his stomach. Ma fussed and got him some antacid but also pushed his bowl of soup closer. Ray sat down to eat his lunch. He decided he'd need it to deal with this. This was enough to make a confirmed sober bachelor drink.
Throttle walked into the library with the missing Xander, pointing the way. "There they are."
"Cool." He walked in and pulled off his bag, handing over the Chinese food he had stopped to get. "Sorry, Goemon and I got detained by Customs. Something about an ECHO?"
"Micah," the furry Xander said, nodding. "I called him already." He looked at him then stole some of the food. "Thanks, man. How's the kids I heard you had?"
"In London. That's the other point that's touching." He sat down and looked at Goemon. "You might as well join us, big guy."
"I'll go watch the dragons. They are a symbol in Japanese society." He looked at Throttle, who pointed at a door. "Thank you." He headed that way, going up to the roof since that's where the stairs led. He looked around. "They have a helicopter?" he mused, going to sit down and watch the dragons the young mouse was petting. He wondered if the parents knew where their son was but it wasn't his son so it was all good.
Downstairs, Lavelle handed over two books he had brought from the house in France. "This is what's going on. It usually only takes a day or so. This time it's being held open."
"We've had hints and prophecies about someone and a Godmaking potion," Gryphon Xander noted. He handed over that reference to Lavelle, who groaned and sat down shaking his head.
"Wolfram and Hart?" mouse Xander asked. The others all nodded. "Okay. What can we do about them? There's an office locally. There's one in London I know."
"My kids are in London," Lavelle noted, handing the spell off. He looked at the younger Xander. "I know it's not your usual thing to work with the bad guys. Can you handle it this time, kid?"
"I'm not that young," he defended angrily. "How did you become a bad guy!"
"Easily. Buffy and Willow tried to kill me after Dawn rescued me from Hell. I ran and Jigen found me and took me in," he said quietly. "He's the first one who gave a damn about me."
"My Willow cared a bit but it got warped in there," furry Xander admitted, scratching the back of his head. "How about you, Gryphon Xander?"
"She tried but life got in her way," he admitted. "By the way, thought I'd mention it, pregnant Willow. Scary, bad, evil. Had to be locked up until she popped evil."
"Eww," furry Xander moaned. "I've still got to look forward to that."
"You and me both," geeky Xander noted dryly. "Then again, we've got Spike back."
"Ours is a reincarnation. He's a baby mouse like me," Xander offered with a grin. The others just stared so he nodded. "Yeah. And there's a vamp me around here somewhere too, unless he's off on a roadtrip."
"Hey, it can only help," Lavelle noted dryly. "I promise, while I'm here, I won't touch or steal anything inappropriate and I'll only kill someone attacking me, okay?" They all nodded. "Cool. Now what?"
"We need to check the magic holding it," Gryphon Xander noted. "By the way, Lavelle, the Ballistic, good guy Xander there doesn't really use magic. He turned down the chance to study. I'll be working with him a bit but I'll need you to do the same."
"Sure. Not an issue. I taught Lotus and Melissa magic too."
Ballistic Xander nodded at that, smiling a bit. "Thanks, man."
"Welcome," everyone announced.
"Where's my son!" Vinnie yelled.
"Not with us," furry Xander yelled back. "Check the dragons! He was petting them earlier!"
"I'm going to beat his tail this time," Vinnie muttered as he walked in. "Why can't we stop him?"
Xander looked at him. "If a dragon suddenly appeared on Mars, Ramjet and Spike would pet it to death too, bro. Calm down, they're not hurting him. He's not a threat to them. They might fight over him but I doubt it." He grinned. "Send him to Wrench if you want him out of danger."
"That's a good idea. Thanks." He went to grab his son and walked him inside, heading right to his bike and the transporter, no matter how much his son wiggled. "No, we're going to see Wrench, son. I don't care, we're still going," he said at the wailing his son was letting out. He got onto his bike and turned on the transporter, sending himself to Mars, but leaving it on so he could get back home. He rode through with the screaming child. "Guys, don't come to Chicago for a few days," he ordered as he rode through. "Strange stuff's coming out our tails." He headed off, going to hand the screaming thing in his arms to his cousin. Wrench met him at the door, looking amused. "I wanted him away from the dragons. He disagreed. Here, keep him safe." He handed him off. "Victor, be a good boy while your cousin babysits you." He turned around and headed back, seeing the still- stunned looking Council. "He's safer up here," he muttered as he went back and turned off the transporter, noticing there was a small dragon standing there trying to get through. "No! Outside!" It bleeted pitifully. "No! There's nothing for you to eat on Mars, little one." He took it outside and sat down to pet it, watching as his bike came out to guard him, just in case.
Wrench looked at the sniffling baby in his arms. "Dragon?"
"Dragon!" he yelled with a renewed wailing. He heard a thundering noise and looked around, then smiled and waved his arms and his tail. "Dragon!" He wiggled down and walked out to pet it, cuddling up to it. "Nice dragon daddy!" He beamed at his cousin when the dragon licked his face clean of the tears and cuddled in to pet and love his new friend.
Wrench looked at the huge silver beast, then shook his head. "This is too strange for me," he noted. "Seal? Willow? Can you please knock me out and watch Vic for a while?" he whined as he walked inside and shut the door. "Please?"
"Why?" Willow asked as she appeared. "What's happened?" She heard the giggling and moved to look out the window, then stared. "That's a dragon."
"No, really?" Wrench said dryly, heading into his room and slamming the door. "Watch the baby mouse! I can't! I have a migraine!"
"Sure," she said weakly, going out to pet the dragon. It sniffled and guarded the baby from her. "It's okay, I'm watching him. I'm a good person." She stroked the soft nose. "I thought you'd be tougher than this. Seal!" She appeared and blinked. "It's a dragon!" she said, beaming at her. Vic beamed too and nodded, going back to his petting and stroking the paw on his stomach. "Who's the good little baby mouse?" she cooed, reaching down to tickle the baby. "You're so cute!"
The Seal looked then let out a whimper and went to find Xander, noticing the dragon staring in the window. "So that's where it came from," she said, moaning and shaking her head. "At least it's harmless." She looked over as Throttle walked into the office. "One of them and Vic is on Mars."
Throttle held his head and walked off. "All the Xanders think they're peaceful until agitated." He went to find Xander's stash of seer's painkillers and take one, then head for a nap. He needed a nap. He *really* needed a nap. He heard the transporter go off and got up to lock the door, then laid down again. He wasn't dealing with this. Unless they came up and said they wanted to eat the Plutarkians, he didn't care.
"Xander Harris, what did you do!" Carbine shrieked. Then she shrieked in a different key. "Get off me! Do not lick me!" The transporter went off again and she headed home. "It licked me!" she said coldly. Stoker quit staring and started to laugh, not able to stop.
Anya threw open a door and ran in. "It's okay, daddy. Mommy said to come home," she promised, leading him out to his bike. "It's all right. You don't have to play with the dragon like Vic and Spike and Cranky are. I promise, momma said it's all right," she said, soothing him as she got on to drive. Momma had said her daddy was going to be hysterical so she had to get him home. He hugged her and she patted him. "We're going home, daddy. It'll be okay. You can yell at Vic later for bringing a dragon to Mars." He nodded against her ears and she sped off, taking him home.
Arsene Lupin the Fourth looked around the street she was on, seeing all the wizards looking confused. "Um, people, Diagon seems to have slightly disappeared, you might want to apparate," she called. They looked, then disappeared. She looked at her cohorts and friends, shaking her head. "Well, there goes that plan." She looked at the cop rushing their way, moving to trip him and look down at him, smiling sweetly. "We're here to help with the emergency, dear. What's going on?"
He whimpered. "You too! You're going to rob the Tower, aren't you?"
"Not really. We did that for five years running," Melissa said, shrugging a bit. "It's lost its fun." She helped him up and dusted him off. "All right, who's handling things? We know a bit about magic and this stuff. Daddy Lavelle sent us here to help."
"Um, we don't know," he said, shaking his head. "We were told to get everyone inside." He blew his whistle. "We're quarantining London!" he called. "Head inside! Now, right now!" He looked at them. "There's a group of people muttering about magic about three blocks away," he offered, shrugging a bit. "Please, don't make it worse? We'll beg, kids."
Lupin patted him on the arm. "It's no fun to rob something in the middle of a crisis unless we're causing the crisis and it'll make it worse. Calm down. We're here to *help*. Lavelle went to Chicago to help them there. We know, kinda, what's going on. We were told it would last a month." He let out a nervous chuckle. "Go pass that back and they can call Zenigata or Vecchio or Kowalski to get stuff from Daddy Lavelle." He nodded and ran off, blowing his whistle. She looked around again, then smirked. "Redheads. A few redheads together." She ran off, making Ishi, Melissa, and Lotus follow her. She grabbed the matriarch's hand, making her spin around with her wand out. "Whoa, Mrs. Weasley. We're here to help. Lavelle, our version of Xander, sent us. Take us to Percy and them?"
"He might throw us in Azkaban," Melissa hissed.
"Not now he won't," she muttered back. "We know what they're going for and can steal back the things that the others are displacing to keep it open." She looked at the woman again, licking her lips. "We promise, while there's a crisis, we're not here to steal a damn thing, but we were sent to help. Lotus and Melissa both know a bit of magic. A version of Snape taught Lotus."
"Fine. I'll bring you to the Ministry. They'll decide on that." She took them to a phone booth and put them inside first, then closed the door. She pushed in the buttons she had for an access code. "Molly Weasley," she said before the voice could answer. "And four others a Xander sent to help. Get Percy there now to meet us." She input the forced code to make them go down, taking them into the Ministry. Arabelle was waiting on them and she smiled, kissing her on the cheek. "Their version of Xander sent them."
Arabelle looked at the kids. "Oh, I remember them quite well. They gave us a headache like you wouldn't believe."
Lupin just grinned. "I seem to do that to a lot of cops, ma'am. It's my version of fun and games. Anyway, Lotus is a witch, Melissa knows a bit from Daddy Xander, and we're here to help by taking back the displacement things. That way this is solved faster. You have all our words we won't be stealing anything during the crisis."
Arabelle looked at them. "We'll see, child. Let's go to my office. Molly, good work. How's Diagon?"
"I had to yell at some wizards to apparate off," Arsene said dryly. "They were just standing there staring around."
"Oh, dear," Molly sighed, heading back to go back to helping things. She was the Minister's wife and people would follow her orders. She was sure the kids wouldn't hurt Arabelle. Besides, she had seen her grandson lurking in the shadows.
Arabelle looked behind her. "Iggy." He came out and nodded. "Take them to Percy's office?"
"Of course. Is our father in Chicago yet?"
Melissa nodded. "Lavelle, our Xander, said he met with a Ballistics tech Xander, your father, and a furry Biker Mouse Xander."
"Cool. Then the spell worked. Come along. We've got to take the lift." He walked them over to it and then down to the offices in question, taking them directly to the archives and up to the office. "Uncle Percy. As you thought." He let them inside, taking a corner seat.
Lupin smirked and nodded politely. "Our Xander sent us."
"Why?" he asked dryly, staring at the children. "You've obviously dabbled in magic."
"Actually, I had a version of Professor Snape teach me," Lotus said quietly. She sat down and pulled on her brother's arm, making Ishi sit down as well. Lupin and Melissa both sat next to them. "Melissa's dabbled in the magics she learned off her mother. We're here to help. It was thought that the displacement of materials was part of the reason the switch was being forced to stay open."
"We believe so but we don't know where it is," he said.
"Wolfram and Hart's local offices," Melissa said, handing over the slip of paper in her pocket. "We are thieves, we can get it from them. We're probably your only hope of getting it past the demonic lawyers without invoking Lavelle to come back here."
"We do vow not to steal anything during the crisis unless you need us to," Arsene offered quietly. "It's our one good deed a year you know."
Percy looked at her. "Yes, but the moment the crisis stops, I'm sure you'd head to Gringotts again."
"We never double up on targets unless we feel it's absolutely necessary to bring down egos," Lupin assured him with a small smirk of evilness. "You've got to admit, it was a daring plan for eight-year-olds."
"It was," he agreed.
"Hold on, you were *eight*?" Iggy demanded, looking at them. "Were your parents negligent?"
"No, we slipped their control," Arsene assured him with a grin. "Lupins are known for starting early and I groomed my best friends and cohorts so they'd be ready when I was. Believe it or not, you guys were like our fourth job together." Iggy just stared in open- mouthed shock. She smiled and nodded. "My grandfather started when he was nine. Daddy started when he was eleven. Women in crime have to be better though so we started at eight. We have quite the reputation in our own realm."
"Our parents are proud but Mommy Xander has had people watching over our shoulders the whole time," Lotus told him. "Even though we routinely slip things past the others, we can't slip anything past Lavelle."
Ishi nodded. "Plus he's the most involved of all the parents. He's the one who worked on our training and things until we're the special specimens you see before you." He grinned. "Not even my dad likes to spar with Xander. It's a sign of respect."
Iggy shook his head quickly. "It's not much different than you sneaking off to do potions, nephew," Percy said dryly. "Xander always knew and made sure you were being careful, but he let you have that freedom. Their Xander simply was a bad person by then."
"Actually, he's not. He was pretty much forced into the life," Melissa told him. "Our Xander was given to Hell as a toy by a Watcher to try to stop a higher demon. It didn't work and when he was finally rescued, Auntie Buffy and the bitchy witch Willow tried to kill him for surviving. My father was saved by him when he was running from them and took him in. He said that my father was the first one who gave a damn about him and his well-being. That's why he turned. He's considered a dark knight now, taking out the bad influences on the dark side."
"Interesting," Iggy noted, looking them over. "You never thought about going straight?"
"Of course we did," Ishi assured him. "It was even offered to us. Those two have sisters who went straight and became cops." Percy smiled at that. "We made our choices and we stand by them. Then again, it was Xander who taught us how to use our gifts and skills to help those who needed it."
"We routinely take down those of overblown ego who trod on the little folk," Lupin agreed patiently. "The same as our fathers do. The worst of the worst of crime are our targets, except for training and things. Then again, the Tower is safe from us," she said with a hand wave. "We've already hit it five times for training." Melissa looked at her. "Five?"
"Seven," she said patiently.
"No, one of those was your solo job and one was mine," Ishi reminded her. "Not counted in group statistics." He looked at Percy. "So, can you use us?"
"I could," he admitted. "But I'm not sure I want to. You are children."
Lupin snorted and stood up. "We've graduated from our training, Percy Weasley. We graduated from the Assassin's Academy at the top of our classes, some of us literally," she said, pointing at Lotus and Ishi and Melissa. "I got sixth down from the top," she said modestly. "I'm not the brain of the family. I'm a lot like my father, a focused idiot savant." He snorted and shook his head. "Mom tried but I know I'm not nearly as smart as Melissa and Ishi, or even Lotus. Now, you've got two witches, a samurai, and a world- renowned thief at your disposal. We're going to get a room at a hotel locally. When you know what you need stolen to break the sticky spot, you'll call. We'll go, bring it to somewhere safer you pick, or to Chicago if Lavelle's thoughts are correct and the two offices are stuck together to facilitate stealing stuff, and hopefully that'll solve it."
"Fine," he agreed. "We will check out this lead. I want your vows."
"We promise not to steal anything during this crisis," the others repeated.
He nodded. "Fair enough. We'll shoo you off once it's solved. Go find a room, children. Iggy, I'll expect you to check on them daily."
"Of course," he sighed. "Can't I go play in Chicago?"
"No," he said firmly. "You and Simone are part of the school's defenses."
"That is something else we excel at," Melissa noted gently. "We'd be more than willing to help. After all, the helpless should be protected."
"Yes, but then we'd have to tell you where the school was," Percy said dryly.
"How do you think we got here the first time?" Arsene snorted. "We came out at the school, went down to Hogsmeade, and used the twins' shop's floo to get to Diagon." He looked flabbergasted. "It's not like we haven't seen it and it has nothing we want, Mr. Weasley. It's very cute and all but we've got an island paradise at the moment waiting on us." She stood up. "So defense isn't a problem. Ishi and Lotus are both samurai level already. Ishi and Melissa are also crack shots. I'm not so bad at that art myself if I may be so modest since I was third behind them at the academy. I even helped teach some newbies the art of firing a gun. If you need us to help there, we can do that as well. All we'd ask is a chance to do some of the pranks at the shop. We love pranks," she offered with a shit- eating grin. "They come in quite handy to flummox guards and things, or our parents."
"I'll discuss that with the Minister for Magic," he said blandly. "Find a room and send us a message saying where you are."
"Sure, can we borrow an owl?" Melissa asked. Percy groaned and shook his head, holding his forehead.
"I'll go with you," Iggy promised. "That way I know exactly where you are." He walked them out, smiling at them. "Be a bit easier on him please? He's got a small heart problem and he doesn't really need this stress."
"I'll try, but I was being nice and polite," Lupin promised, grinning and winking at him. "So, it's been a while since we've seen you. How are things?"
"Pretty decent. My wife and I are doing quite well." She shook her head and he smirked. "I married my wife when I was fourteen in the Potion's dungeon. She's adorable and a potion's master in her own right." He pulled out a photo to show them. "That's my Raena, Simone, Melvin, Denver, and Mellie Potter after one of our fun league games."
"Wonderful. I'm guessing quidditch by the uniforms?" Melissa asked. He smiled and nodded. "Brilliant. That is the one thing we wish we had in our world, it'd give us something to do when we're bored." He chuckled as he led them outside, then out into Muggle London. "Lupin, Ritz?"
Lupin looked at the cop running their way and sighed, pulling her gun. "Freeze." He stopped, looking horrified. "We're here to *help* not take advantage. We were just checking in with someone and now we're going to find a room. Got any good recs?"
The cop swallowed. "The Chief Inspector wants you four," he gasped. He looked at the other kid. "Who're you?"
"Their escort," he said dryly. "Sorry about her. She seems a bit upset." He glared at Arsene. "Let's not get arrested today, all right?"
"Not on my plans," she admitted, putting up the gun. "Let me find us a suite and then we'll see him tonight," she promised.
"Do you know what he wants or is this about our jobs?" Melissa asked calmly.
The cop shook his head. "No, Jigen the Second, it's about Zenigata."
"What happened to Uncle Zenny!" Arsene demanded, glaring now, hands on her hips.
"He's in town, he demanded to speak to you lot. We don't know why."
"His wife's like us, she's got skills to help with this situation," Lotus said quietly. "Tell him to find us later. Whichever of the two Rays he kept may come if he feels insecure." He nodded, pulling out a phone to call. "Lupin? Hotel?"
"Try the one by Kings Cross," the cop ordered. "That's where he's staying." They nodded, heading that way in a cab. He slumped a bit and listened to the people complain on the other side. "Sir, the four teens were being escorted around by another teenager, one in those robe thingys. They said they're here to help. They said to send the Inspector and whichever of the Rays he kept to see them later. I suggested his hotel as well. Thank you, sir. No, sir, I need to hit the bathroom. They're so young! They also were quite scary! Lupin pulled a gun before I could say a word and you could see Goemon the Fourteenth reaching for his sword. Yes, sir, his sister as well, sir. Thank you, sir. Thank you again, sir. Yes, sir, right home and going to follow the curfew orders." He headed for home after a quick stop in the bathroom. This was a story he could tell his grandkids if he made it that long. Most cops didn't walk away from meeting Lupin the Fourth unless they were the Inspector's people and even they got injured quite frequently.
Throttle looked at the Lavelle Xander as he fixed a sandwich. "So, I have no idea what sort of Xander you are."
Xander grinned. "Damaged." He finished the sandwich and put away everything then washed the knife and put it up. "Don't worry about it. I'm harmless at this moment unless I'm attacked." He took a bite.
"So, you're a warrior Xander?" he asked hopefully.
Xander snickered and forced himself to swallow before he choked. "Only sometimes." He wiped his mouth with a hand. "Actually, I'm one of the geekiest Xanders. In my world you guys are a cartoon and I've dressed up like you three to go to fandom conventions." Throttle let out a small whimper at that. "Servo motors in the tails and things like that." He grinned. "I'm also the most deadly Xander. After being given to Hell and finally being rescued, I ended up being found and mentored by a great thief and gunman." He ate another bite. "Now I'm a dark knight," he said once he had swallowed and Throttle's mouth closed. "You don't have to worry about me. I'm not touching anything while I'm here. I'm here mainly as magical support and as an extra gun if you need it. I'd never do that to myself and good guy me, the ballistics tech, would get really upset and his husband would shriek and complain at me if I tried." He grinned again.
"Technically I'm a Master in Hell. I'm a Prince in my own right and a consort to a dead Prince since I killed him." He ate another bite and chewed slowly, letting him digest that information. "I'm also a fairly good buddy to some kitsune and I've led many battles against the undead in Europe since my Buffy took all the junior slayers with her to Cleveland and refused to lend us any, even when we had whole armies of vampires. I'm also the one who taught my kids, most of whom have followed their fathers and I into the dark side but with a conscience so they only hit the worst of the worst. We take out the idiots on the dark so you guys don't have to work so hard." He winked. "I'm a nice guy, just don't try to wake me up by touching me. The last guy got blasted into a wall. But hey, I'm not pregnant this trip, it's a nice change." He walked off, letting that be the straw that settled into the puzzle in his mind and made him shudder and ignore the rest. It usually worked.
"My momma may wanna know how you did that," he called after him. "She wants grandkids soon."
Lavelle chuckled. "It's not that hard. Fertility spells work wonders."
"No!" Furry Xander yelled. "NO! NO FERTILITY SPELLS! I'm not going to be a pregnant mouse no matter how much his momma may want me to be!"
Throttle chuckled and shook his head. His mate wasn't as calm as he appeared to be, it was a good thing. It made things better since he and Modo weren't the only ones freaked out by the multiple Xanders or the dragons. He went to check on Vinnie, who was still petting the dragon out back. "Bro, want me to make you something to eat?" He held up his food with his free hand, still petting and watching the dragon. "Charley girl might get upset with you if you toss her over for a scaley lover."
"I doubt it'd happen, bro, but she's just a baby dragon." He grinned at him. "I'm missing my baby mouse." He stopped petting and the dragon growled. "Hey!" He flexed his fingers and the dragon's tail came up to capture the hand, putting it back on her head. Then she purred and closed her eyes again, getting comfortable. "Fine, I'll pet you some more."
Charley came to the back door of the garage. "Vinnie, it's time to come inside." The dragon growled. "Do not start with me," she ordered firmly. The dragon whimpered. "No! He's my mouse. He pets me first." The dragon sighed and got up, coming over to nuzzle her then find a comfy spot in the garage to sleep. It decided to sleep on the hood of the car and settled in with a sigh of pleasure.
"Eeeeh, fine," she decided, looking at Vinnie. "Inside, VanWham."
"Yes, dear." He got up and took his food with him, shooting a grin at Throttle. "Night, bro."
"Night," he said, heading back inside. He saw Staff pacing and looked at her. "Hey, how's baby Modo?"
She sighed and looked at him. "Not happy. She keeps kicking."
Modo came out of their room and patted her on the stomach. "Calm down, daughter. It's all right. I promise it's okay." He felt her tighten up and looked at her. "That's a contraction, Staff." She looked alarmed. "Bro, transporter, please?" he requested, going to get her a bag of stuff. He walked out and picked her up, carrying her down to the transporter. "We think it's time, I'm taking her to Mars!" he yelled as he walked.
"Dear, it's not time," she soothed, stroking her neck fur. "I promise it's not time. It's just a reaction to her kicking."
"That was a contraction, it's time," he said firmly. He nodded at Throttle and walked through, finding Mirror sitting there crying. "Excuse us, she's in labor." Mirror sniffled and nodded so he walked her on, taking her to the ER down the hall. He kicked in the door and walked in, startling the napping nurse. "She's in labor." He carefully put her down in a wheelchair, watching as the nurse got up to bring her back to a room. "I promise, Staff, when it's closer I'll call Momma and Cell so they can help. I know I'm not much good at these girl things." He walked behind her, worried to death. This was his first child and Staff seemed so much calmer than his sister had when she was pregnant the last time. The nurse checked her, then hurried out, bringing back a doctor. "Should I call my momma?" he demanded, letting some panic out.
Staff took his hand, squeezing it gently. "It's all right, Modo. I've still got some time left. Let the poor woman nap for a while longer." He nodded, staring down at her and kissing the back of her hand. He stroked her hair and soothed her like Vinnie had Charley when she had Vic, making sure she was fine. "It's all right," she promised after wincing. "It's just a bit more painful now."
The doctor coughed. "You've probably got about another three hours of labor, ma'am." Modo whimpered. "It's all right, sir, this is normal. She appears to be fine. Do you want her to deliver here?"
"I want her and my daughter to have the best care," he said firmly. "She's special to me," he said when Staff squeezed his hand to calm him back down.
"I understand," the doctor agreed with a small smile. "We'll move her up to obstetrics then. You can call your families from up there." He nodded, walking beside the bed as it was moved. "It's a natural process, sir, she's handling it fine so far."
"Good. Charley ma'am was in a lot of pain when she had Victor," he mumbled, staring at his lady. Once he made sure she was settled in he called her half-brother. The grumpy mouse answered after a moment. "Staff's in labor. It'll be about three hours," he reported.
The grumpy mouse just nodded. Then he yawned. "I doubt she wants me to watch, Modo. I'll be up to see her before work tomorrow unless there's a problem. Call us back if there's a problem, okay?" He nodded quickly. "Good boy. Now call your momma then help her. She's gonna need someone to swear at by what my wife went through. I'll see you in the morning." He hung up and went back to bed, telling his wife what was wrong when she made an inquisitive noise.
Modo called the family house, getting Primer. "Staff's in labor, it'll be about three hours."
"Good!" she said, beaming at him. "Someone else can change diapers too!" Modo frowned at her. "You want me to wake grandmomma up?" she teased.
"Yes! I want her here! I don't know nothin' about this girl stuff!"
"Fine, calm down, Uncle Modo. Let me get Momma up first." She hung up and headed for the back bedroom, pounding on the door. "Momma, Auntie Staff's in labor. It'll be about three hours and it looked like Uncle Modo was panicking. His fur was standing on end!"
"Cheese, can't she go in the daytime!" Cell complained, but she came out of her room and headed for the bathroom. "Go get up momma, Primer."
"Yes, momma." She headed up the stairs and only had to knock. Racer opened the door and nodded her back to her room. "Thanks, little mouse." She patted him on the head.
"It's not like I'm gonna sleep with those hellions plotting my demise again," he said dryly, closing the door. "Momma, can I come too?"
"Of course, dear." She pulled on a dress and gave him a hug. "You'd better hurry and get dressed. You can calm Modo down by distracting him with your homework." He nodded, hurrying to put on a pair of pants and his boots. He could find a shirt later, maybe. He made it down to the door in time to intercept Cell.
She looked at him. "You're coming too?"
"Yeah, that way I'm not tortured tonight. I'll distract him."
"That's fine," she agreed, patting him on the back, watching him wince. She looked at his back. "Primer! Beat the brats again!" she ordered. "They got him on the back!" She walked him out to his bike. "Think you can keep up?"
He snorted. "Of course I can. I usually do." He revved his engine and took off, leading the way for a few minutes while the women made girl plans. He wouldn't understand and it was a nice night for a ride. He paused beside where Vic and Spike were petting the dragon, then shook his head. "Hey, Vic, Spike, Staff's in labor," he called.
Vic looked over a paw at him, then wiggled out and came to ride with him, Spike was getting his own bike. They had to help! He grinned at Momma as she passed them, then up at Racer. "We go now!"
"Sure." He sped off, letting Spike catch up to Cell since she was watching him ride. He caught up to Momma. "I thought Vic might like to welcome her."
"Hopefully he can help," she agreed happily. "I hope my baby boy remembered to call her family too." She parked in front of the hospital portion of the main building and walked inside once everyone had gotten off. She smiled at the mouse manning the main desk. "My son's wife was just brought in in labor?"
"Staff?" she offered. Momma nodded, smiling at her. "She's up in obstetrics. Up the elevator by two floors and take a right, ma'am. Are you bringing the children?"
"They'll help keep my poor baby boy calm," she promised. She smiled at Racer. "Won't you, dear?"
"Sure, and I'll learn more about birthing babies," he promised with a grin for the receptionist. "Hi again. This is Victor VanWham and that's Spike, still." She laughed and made a note in case someone called about them. "The dragon shouldn't follow." They went up the elevator and he led the way to the delivery rooms, handing his big brother the littlest mouse. His fur was standing on end and he was nearly vibrating. "You look like a white mouse," he soothed, patting him on the natural arm. "It's all right, Modo. I promise it is." Modo clutched Vic and nodded, watching his wife. "Momma?"
She cooed and came over to help calm him down while Cell went over to check on her. "As I found out with the last one, you can have drugs," she offered.
"It doesn't hurt that much yet," she complained. "I expected a lot more pain, like what you were in, this is nothing!" She grabbed her hand and panted through the next contraction. "I think it's nearly time. They're changing."
"Sure. Racer, get the nurse, dear." She looked over as Modo nearly pushed his momma out of the way to come help his lady. "Calm down, little brother. She's fine. She's not even in that much pain. I had a lot more pain, she even said so," she promised.
"I don't care. I don't want her in pain!"
"How else is the baby getting out?" Staff teased. "Hi, Vic. Did you want to come greet the baby for your clan?" He nodded, sucking on his first two fingers. "What's that in your fur?" She plucked out a scale and looked at it, then at him. "One of them is up here?"
"One followed him," Spike said, taking Vic to hold out of the way. "We've petted the thing all night. Ramjet's still there." He looked down at Vic. "You all right so far?" He yawned and nodded. "Good. You can nap if you want." He waved at the doctor coming in. "We're here to greet the baby and scare it straight right off so it's not like the twins."
Modo looked at him. "No kid of mine would dare," he said dryly. Spike just smirked at him. "She wouldn't!"
"Girl?" Vic asked. Modo nodded, grinning at him. "Girls icky," he said with disgust.
"Mommas are girls," Momma assured him. He looked at Racer, who nodded.
Vic pouted. "Having baby mice makes them unicky," he stated with a scowl. The adults all laughed but got down to business helping her have the baby. Once it was out he pointed at the slimy mess. "See, told you icky!"
Spike chuckled, giving him a squeeze. "Even you came out like that," he promised. "We all did." He looked at Modo, then whispered in Vic's ear, getting a nod. He helped Vic climb up onto the bed and watched him pounce Modo with a squeal of delight, making him react and turn to catch him. That's when the doctor cut the cord so he couldn't see it and handed him to Momma. Who only smiled at Spike for it.
Racer took the baby, sitting down to wipe it off and make sure it was breathing. "Hey, little girl. Welcome to the family. I'm sure you'll be more like your momma than Shot and Detail are. They're like their momma but we'll make sure you're a normal, if splendid and special, mouse. We'll teach you how to ride and fight and all that good stuff, then we'll let Dawn show you how to dress up and find a big boy mouse when you're old enough." He smiled when she pulled up a thumb to suck. "I know, it's a big, bright, shiny world out here. It's okay," he crooned. "You're fine now. You'll be cosseted to death soon." He smiled as Vic came over to look, letting him see the baby better. "See, this is... What's her name, Modo?"
"Punch," he said, smiling at him. "You do that very well."
"I'd hope so. It's what I want to do for a living." He grinned at Vic. "This is Punch. Some day you'll be bros with her, like you are with Spike. For now, you've got to be very protective though. Okay?" Vic nodded, patting the baby on the arm. The arm moved and she let out a noise, making Vic chuckle. "I'm told all babies do that, little mouse." He dropped a kiss on his ear. "Now, let's let her be cleaned up and a diaper and clothes be put on her."
"She not as tiny as Healer," Vic pointed out. "She big."
"That's because Uncle Modo's so big," Spike told him. "Healer's about normal size for a baby." He clapped him on the back and looked at the baby. "Welcome to the bigger world, Punch. Don't worry, we'll overprotect you and make sure you're right in the head, unlike my sisters. We'll make sure you're a right neat bint who'll find some biker stud of your own some day."
Cell came over to take the baby for the first bath, shaking her head. "You three are horrible," she said but she was smiling. "Remember, Spike, Xander said the next brother you have will be a flaming poof just like him."
"Like Jace on Hercules?" Racer teased, smirking at her.
Spike nodded. "Just like that," he agreed, punching him on the arm. He looked at Modo. "Nice work, Uncle Modo. She's cute. We'll beat up the boys with you for a bit, until she swears at us for it." Modo chuckled and hugged all three of them.
"Uncle!" Vic complained. "Go pet dragon and tell her?" he asked hopefully.
"No, first you've got to tell Wrench and get some sleep," Modo ordered, smiling fondly at the boys. "No more petting the dragon tonight."
"Someone should tell Ramjet then," Spike said smugly. "She's still curled up with her and her mother screams."
Stoker came racing in, stopping when he saw his son. "Thank God you're not hurt," he said, picking him up. "What were you doing with that beast!"
"Petting it. It's soft and it's a kid dragon! It's lonely!" He pointed at Vic. "It came up with him! It can't be all bad. Ramjet's still petting it."
Stoker hugged his son tightly. "Son, you're giving me an ulcer like Racer used to have," he complained as he walked his son off. He came back and looked around. "It's time?" he demanded. "You didn't call!"
"She just had her," Modo offered with a grin. "I called Momma."
"Hmm." He looked at the baby as it was brought out. "Well, you're a big little mouse, dear."
"Punch," Vic said with a grin. "I pet dragon."
"I saw. Your daddy's gonna shed his tail and eat it," he said dryly. He looked at the baby again. "Hey, Punch. Don't worry, we'll unwarp you so Xander can't turn you into a white mouse." He walked off with his son, shaking his head. "Son, if I asked nicely would you quit worrying me?"
"You're a father, he's supposed to worry you to death," a nurse offered with a grin. "What did he do?"
"He was petting the beast that followed Vic up," Stoker complained. "Ramjet still is." He stomped off, taking his son home. His son's bike followed him because he wasn't letting his son out of his grasp. He might run off and get into more tail-nibbling trouble.
Vic went to call the house like his cousin had taught him the last time he had watched him, getting an unfurry person. He looked at him. "Who you?"
"I'm David. I'm married to one of the other Xander's here. Hold on, let me get one of the big people." He leaned away from the camera. "There's a little redish mouse calling?" he called.
Vinnie ran in, looking at his son with a sigh. "You're okay."
"I pet dragon and baby," he said with a grin. "She big mouse."
Vinnie smiled at his son. "I'm proud of you, son. Is Modo there?"
He nodded and yanked on his uncle's tail, making him look at the screen. "Daddy mouse," he said happily.
Modo smiled and brought the baby over. "This is Punch," he said happily, showing her off. "She just had her bath."
"She's adorable, Modo. Quite a beauty. Hey, bro!" he yelled. "She had the baby!" Throttle came jogging in and bent down to get closer to the screen, smiling at them. "She okay?"
"Oh, yeah. Staff's fine. She didn't even want drugs. Said it didn't hurt that much." Someone in the background said something like 'bet me'. "Who's that?"
"One of the other Xanders who had his own kids," Throttle offered. "Bring 'em home soon, bro. Can you watch Vic tonight?"
"Sure, not a problem. He can probably go home and sleep with Racer."
"Not really. Shot and Detail were together planning and staring at me again," Racer offered. "We can bring him home though."
"That's fine, try to keep him away from the dragon," Vinnie pleaded. "Please?"
"I like dragon!" Vic complained.
"Son, you're giving me an ulcer," Vinnie said seriously.
Modo chuckled. "Stoker just told Spike the same thing," he said at the hurt look he was getting. "Spike and the nurse said it was what happened to all fathers." He waved his daughter's hand and hung up. "Vic, you're stayin' with Momma tonight."
"Fine," he complained. "Play dragon tomorrow?"
"We'll see," Cell said firmly. "I was going to let you help me tomorrow." Vic smiled and hugged her. "Thanks, little mouse. Let's go home so Staff and the baby can sleep. You can see them tomorrow."
"I'm not leaving," Modo said firmly.
"Not you, the rest of us, little brother." He gave her a hurt look. "If you move, I'm going to wind your tail up and then turn you into a propellor. Your spot is with her and the baby." She took Vic with her, letting Momma gather Racer. "You did very good tonight, Racer."
"Thank you, Cell."
"I agree," Momma praised. "Very nicely done, Racer. You'll make an excellent baby doctor some year." She clapped him on the back and watched as he got onto his bike, then headed off toward home. "Do not stop to save Ramjet."
Cell looked at her. "I doubt anything's going to save that girl from her mother's wrath."
"Me either but both boys would stick up for her." She smiled and stole Vic to ride with her. Just like she had with her baby boy so many years ago. "Just like your Uncle Modo, baby boy." He beamed and tweaked her on the nose, making her laugh as she sped off.
Cell shook her head. "Momma needs more grandsons to spoil," she decided, going to talk to her husband about that.
Lavelle woke up at the feeling of strangeness starting across the city, then groaned and got up. He heard Goemon let out a small moan. "Relax, it's magical," he said quietly, going out to look out the window, finding Gryphon Xander out there. "Is that your sort? It felt chaosy."
"It was," he agreed, pointing down at the street. "Draco, my first son, and Snape." He tapped on the window and held up a hand, going down to talk to them. "Hey, guys," he said, grinning and hugging his son. "How's the shop?"
"Those thieves came back and they're staying in Hogsmeade to protect the town, Simone got called to the Ministry about some animals running around. They were hoping her phoenix could help," Draco noted, looking at Lavelle. "How did you manage to make four children become the blight of the universe?"
"Awww, that's so sweet," Lavelle taunted with a smirk. "They followed in our footsteps. What're they doing wrong?"
"Nothing at the moment. They're being good and it's scaring others. Though, the rampaging dragon was fairly easily sliced once that one got done with it," he noted dryly. "She's quite a specimen."
"I gave her some of our female problems potion," Iggy said, shuddering a bit. "I thought Anna was bad." He looked over as a large furry man came out. "Demons?" he asked hopefully.
"Martians." Xander looked back then waved Vinnie closer. "This is my son and my proclaimed son," he introduced. "Draco Malfoy and my son Ignatius."
"Call me Iggy," he said, shaking his hand. "We've been sent to help. Percy sent this," he said, pulling out the letter. He looked at his mentor, then nudged him. "He doesn't bite I'm sure," he noted calmly.
Snape walked forward and touched his arm, then his ear. "They're real!"
"Yeah, all my people are like this," Vinnie said with a smirk. "Let me guess, your Xander doesn't drag you into stuff like ours does?"
"I try very hard to resist," he said blandly. He looked back at his student. "Does this happen to your family?"
"Not usually." He shrugged. "Then again I'm a son of Xander. We take it all in stride anymore, Severus." He looked at Draco, then at his mentor, then back at Draco. "You need to find us lodgings for the night, Drac."
"You're right, I do," he agreed. "Come along, Severus. We'll call later to tell them where we are."
"Chicago's got a lot of very confused and mellow dragons," their Xander told them. "A few random trees as well, but mostly mellow dragons. The Xanders are all meeting here at the moment. I'll bring this up in the morning." That got some nods. "Also, we seem to be missing one of the ones who was hanging around earlier, Vinnie."
Vinnie moaned. "I'll see if it followed the son," he promised, going to make that call. There was always someone on the comm on Mars, even if it was a messenger. He waved when he connected to one of them. "Is there a dragon up there?"
She nodded, grinning at him. "My mother made it run off for the caves near the Valley of the Temples. She was screaming a bit at Ramjet for petting and napping with it. She has decided that Spike is the root of all evil on Mars."
"Not really," Vinnie said with a smirk. "Tell someone to figure out where it is so we can transport it back. After all, I don't think it'll thrive up there very well."
"Sure. I'll tell Stoker that in the morning. He was swearing about Spike being the gateway to strange things and his future ulcers and chest pains. Though he believes that Vic and Xander are the source of all the strangeness, Spike just lets it onto Mars." She waved and cut the connection.
Vinnie snickered, shaking his head. "Poor Mars. How will they survive when we're all up there? Then there'll be a Xander full time just waiting for the strange stuff to appear."
"Maybe he'll calm down," Throttle said from the doorway. "After all, the strangest of the strange is on Earth, bro. It won't be able to come for him again."
"If you say so," Vinnie said with a smirk. "Ramjet's mother is sure that the source of all evil on Mars is Spike." Throttle snickered at that. "She apparently made the dragon that followed my poor little mouse run for the hills."
"I'd run from her too. What's going on?"
"Limping Xander's son, proclaimed son, and son's mentor just showed up. I always thought Draco Malfoy was paler by the book's descriptions." He shook his head. "I'm headed back to bed. You wanna go on watch?"
"It's not like I can sleep," he complained, coming in to watch out the window. "Who's the guy in black?"
"Snape." He gave him a hug then went back to cuddling his girl. She needed it, she wasn't feeling well. For some reason she had a headache.
Throttle shivered, then called Enamel. "Are you up too?" he asked. The new father grunted something. "No, but we just got Snape and Malfoy here. Younger, not Lucius. Draco. Yeah, Vinnie said he thought he'd be paler." He laughed at the complaining and the sudden hanging up. Then Enamel stomped over a few minutes later, looking out the window. "They just appeared."
"I thought Snape would be thinner," he decided.
Lavelle came in, smirking a bit. "He would be but he's married to the Tara from their world and she's been on a baking kick recently," he offered, smirking a bit. "We're sending them to a hotel since Snape's so freaked out by the fur." He shrugged. "Apparently his Xander doesn't drag him into as many things as I do my guys and kids," he offered smugly. "I'm off for bed unless you guys need something?"
"Who are you?" Enamel asked.
"According to goody goody Xander, I'm bad guy Xander," he said with a grin. "I'm also known as Lavelle, or that smug asshole shooting bastard. I'm a thief and assassin in my world, but also a Prince of Hell and have former consort status since I killed the one who had me."
Enamel blinked a few times. "Damn," he breathed. "How did you get there?"
"Wesley. He gave me against my will. Without telling me, nice huh?" he asked with a small smirk. "He paid and is still paying."
"Good," Throttle agreed. "Here he's the last watcher with Fred."
"I always liked Fred. Fred's a neat girl. I've protected Fred a few times. Well, night guys. I'm off to annoy Goemon with my snoring."
"He could have his own room."
"He's convinced that somehow I'll turn furry too and then Lupin and Jigen will beat the shit out of him for letting it happen to me. He's a bit paranoid now and then," he offered with a wicked grin. "Do you think I could take some measurements and readings so I can make a mouse me suit for my next fandom convention? I usually go as you or Vinnie since I have problems aiming my cannon, but people want me to be more original now and then."
"Sure," Throttle agreed, nodding a bit. "Go ahead. He likes leather. Really tight leather."
"Fur tight leather," Enamel agreed with a near purr of delight. "He's a bad tease."
Lavelle winked. "We all are, baby. That's part of what a Xander is. Didn't you get the handbook?"
"No, Xander's his. If he were mine, I'd have him tied to me and behaving," Enamel assured him.
Xander snickered, shaking his head. "It never works. Lupin tried that too. That's about when I took my first trip back with Goemon to visit his ancestors." He waved and left, heading back to his room. "You know, it's not really a good party without that swishy Xander," he said when he found Goemon awake.
"Should you summon him, I'd have to find something horrible to retaliate," he said grimly. "He made my son want to dance. That's a bad thing," he said at the amused sounding laughter. "No samurai should *dance*, especially not dance as if they were summoning multiple sexual demons. Nor should they become a sexual demon, which I'm sure he was." He switched the side his sword was resting on and closed his eyes. "We should rest. It will be a long week."
"It will be," Xander agreed, leaning down to pat him on the head. "He was a very good sport, Goemon."
"No, Xander. I will tell Jigen to beat you. Lupin may not, but Jigen would given enough of a reason." He opened his eyes to look at him. "If he won't, I'm sure Stanley would since that Xander made him doubt his orientation and his love for my cousin." He closed his eyes again. "You should rest."
"Fine. Take all my fun away."
"Yes, I'm trying," he agreed. "You're having too much fun already." He switched his sword back and dropped his mind back into a near meditative state, drifting off from there.
Xander laid down and stretched out, getting comfortable. He was still smiling when he fell asleep.
Lupin the Fourth looked around the village about a week later, seeing the scared people were relaxing. "Uh-oh," she whispered. Melissa and Ishi both looked at her. "We've got relaxing people."
"Maybe they're looking forward to the quidditch game this afternoon," Lotus offered from behind her cup of tea. She finished it and put it down. "It's nice, they make such different tea over here." She looked at Melissa. "Is the manor over here?" She nodded. "Is it occupied?" She nodded. "By who?"
"The guy who gave it to her in this world," she said with a small shrug. "Or possibly a wizard, I wasn't sure." She looked around, then at Arsene. "It's a good thing they're starting to relax, Ar. You can't live in that state of fear for a month but they'll hop back to it quickly enough."
"Uh-huh. Things always happen when you're starting to get comfortable," she reminded her. "At least the animals have learned to leave us alone."
"True," Ishi agreed, buttering his scone, which looked a lot like a biscuit to him. "I'm sure something will happen in the next week. Even London's calmed down a bit. The animals got upset when it went over a few days but otherwise we're calm and fine. We're dealing."
"Can we go to the game this afternoon?" Melissa asked. "I'd love to see an actual game."
"Sure," she agreed, smiling at her. "It's when?"
"Just after noon," Lotus told her. She looked down at the street, then at Arsene. "The old fart's back."
"Hmm. Yay," she said flatly. "I wonder if Percy has worked out anything about Wolfram and Hart yet."
"Yes," Lotus said, handing over the note they'd gotten late last night. "You were already in bed. As Mom thought, the two cities are touching. They've got a portal between the offices. So we've got multiple exit strategies when we have to go in."
"Sure," Arsene agreed. She reread the letter then put it down between her and Melissa. "When do you think we should?"
"They need six more ingredients for the potion and the spell," Melissa told her. "One of them can only be found up here. So we have a choice of stopping it before it starts or taking it once it's done." Someone knocked on the door. "Enter!"
"You know better," Ishi taunted with a smirk. He looked over and nodded at the Headmaster to come in. "Welcome. Want some breakfast?"
"No, thank you, I've already eaten," he said, closing the door behind himself. "I see Percy's letter did arrive?" They all nodded. "When were you planning on going in?"
"We're debating that now," Arsene admitted. "Should we go in while they're missing ingredients it allows them to keep some for future usage or to steal more. If we go in while they're making it I was informed it was quite volatile."
"An explosion ripping between the offices might not harm anything but we can't be sure," Melissa noted calmly.
"Or we can wait until they're done," Ishi said patiently. "At which time something would have to be done to get rid of the potion." The Headmaster nodded at that. "It was the topic of our breakfast. Are you sure you're not hungry?"
"No, lad, I'm not hungry. We had a wonderful spread this morning." He walked closer, looking at the letter. "How many do they lack?"
"Six that we know of," Arsene said. "We stopped one of them coming for that crystal potion last night. I might also add that they made a very satisfying screaming noise as they fell off the top of the castle. You might want to lock the doors, sir."
Dumbledore nodded at that, smiling a bit. "We had thought we had intruders. We're not sure we still don't."
"We'll gladly come up to check, sir," Lotus admitted. "We'd like to come up to watch the game anyway."
"That would be more than acceptable. Fortunately one of the people with the stones is in Chicago. His wife doesn't have any up there."
"Interesting," Melissa noted calmly. "Does our mother know?" He shook his head. "He really should. If he has no idea he needs to protect them, he won't if he thinks the maker can protect themselves."
"I sent two others with him. He's not helpless either."
"Wonderful," Arsene agreed dryly. "He's still mortal however and these idiots have proven time and again a bit of murder has no qualms on their souls."
"Much like you?" he asked.
"I only kill when there's no alternative," she said coolly. "Almost all of the family shoot to wound unless we're in mortal peril, and then we figure they put themselves in the line to the be killed. I have no compunction about killing to save our lives, Headmaster. Doing otherwise is dumb in our line of work and suicidal thieves don't tend to live that long." He tipped his head in acknowledgment. "Then again, we can wound very severely and cackle at the people who put themselves in that position. By now, everyone in the world of crime knows what becoming ours or Lavelle's target means, that you've done too many people wrong. It's well whispered in the right circles." He smiled at that. She gave him back a cooler smile. "So, may we attend?"
"You may and I'm having the school searched at the moment."
"Remember, they use demonic magic," Melissa told him. "They've been doing this longer than your school has been around."
"True," he agreed. "Thank you, I'll warn those checking to be extra careful. Now, you had an interest in quidditch?" They all nodded, smiling and relaxing. "It is an exciting game. I'm supposing that our books in your world have descriptions?" They all nodded, grinning at him. "Ah, then you know what to expect. We'd like for you to be less than visibly armed today if possible."
"My sword goes with me no matter what," Ishi said firmly. "It's the family code."
"I understand," he agreed quickly. "But surely the ladies can hide their ...implements easier?" They all nodded, smirking a bit. "Thank you. I don't want to cause a panic when we're just starting to relax."
"I think it's a bad idea to relax already," Arsene warned. "Things always come back to bite you on the ass when you're truly relaxed and kicked back." He nodded at that wisdom. "The books were never clear, did you know that old stinky snake-guy was gonna come back or not?"
He swallowed. "I had an idea he *could*, but not that he *would* until he did," he assured her.
"How did he die here?" Melissa asked. "I ask to see the difference between the books and our worlds."
"Here, our Xander performed a hard Creation spell and destroyed his soul," he said quietly. "It ricocheted through many before letting the energy back into the ground. It also tore up the entry to the school. Fortunately he fixed it once he was healed."
"So the difference was a Xander being present?" Lotus asked. He nodded. "Interesting. When did he come?"
"The first time during Harry's fifth year. All of them came to interview a vampiress who had found us. I believe her name was Druscilla."
Arsene smirked. "It's got to be butt-nibbling to realize your survival depended on the whims of a loony vampire seer," she suggested.
"Indeed, but we've had other seers who were even more odd and obtuse," he retorted with a smile. "I'm more glad that George finally got Xander calmed down so he quit getting hurt so much. For four years running he was hurt every single spring and we had to have a substitute. It almost became a tradition." They chuckled at that. "Then again, he did save us each time he did so. Now he gets hurt during the summers instead." He smiled. "I'll see you all at the game. You may come up for lunch if you wish."
"That'd be very nice," Lotus said with a grin. "Thank you, Headmaster."
"You're welcome, my dear. Have a good morning and I'll see you at lunch." He let himself out, going to report back to Percy that they had gotten the letter and were debating the best time to go in. He was sure Percy and Arabelle could guide them to a sooner decision. No one wanted this to run on the projected month. How he'd obliviate those children he wasn't sure. Percy would have to find a way but he didn't envy him that task.
Vinnie looked out, seeing the little book nerd wizard out back in his favorite chair, and decided he could at least be nice and go out to talk to the kid. "Hey," he said as he walked out, handing over a rootbeer. "Do you guys get that at home?"
Iggy took a sip and shook his head. "No, but my father runs out for sodas all the time to a muggle place," he offered with a grin, putting the can aside and sitting up. "Am I in your chair?" Vinnie nodded so Iggy moved to the bigger chair. "Sorry about that. I was doing some advanced homework in my healing classes."
"You're a doctor?"
"In training," he admitted sheepishly. "It's going along well with my studies as a potions master since I had to take so many of the classes for my concentration in healing potions. I won't have too much longer after I graduate, and then I'm free to do what I want."
"Wow. Our Xander barely graduated high school and he hates books."
"So does my father," he admitted with a small grin. "But he has never stopped me. Outside of his attempts to make me go play when I wanted to study." He checked his watch. "Actually, I've got to play this afternoon. My team's having a quidditch match." He stood up. "I should teleport back. I'll be back later tonight if anyone asks."
"Sure. Don't you have to tell your dad or anything? He lets you just pop around at will?"
"Well, no," he admitted, "but he often doesn't hear about it until after I've gotten back," he said with a mischievous wink. "My all time favorite is sneaking out of the school to get pastries and candies. He loathed it but it came in handy when I needed a bribe for another student." He took his book and his rootbeer inside, heading up to remind his father of the match. He found them doing the research. "Dad, I've got a game today," he called.
"Oooh, can I come?" geeky Xander called, smiling up at him. "I always wanted to. The card game is confusing and not the same as watching people fly around." He pouted at his husband, who sighed and nodded. "Please!"
"Fine, go," David agreed, shaking his head. "You're the biggest fandom geek I know, Xander."
"Outside of me," Lavelle announced. "I'm the queen of the fancons in my world. I attend at least seven a year and I learned Japanese due to my anime collection." David let out a small whimper. "As a matter of fact I commonly go as a Biker Mouse." Xander just smirked at that, his tail waving behind him. "I'll take him and follow you if you want, kid."
"Sure," Iggy agreed. "Your kids are there anyway and I'm sure we can do something if someone doesn't like the other one watching it." He shrugged, looking at his father. "After all, he already knows we exist."
"We do and Arabelle and Arthur agreed," he said lightly. "Want me to come?"
"Nope," he said, smirking a bit. "It's against Ravenclaw, dad." He kissed him on the cheek. "Come on, guys. I've got time to warm up if we leave now."
"Should I change?"
"You can borrow my robe," Iggy assured him. He and Lavelle left, him taking the other Xander with him. He landed second, finding Percy standing there with a wand pointed at them. "Chill, Uncle Percy. That's those kids' father and another Xander who already knew we exist. Dad said that Grandfather already agreed." He took off his robe and handed it over. "Here, don't empty the pockets and don't eat all my candy." He headed for the changing rooms. "Up the path, gentlemen. You'll hit the pitch first."
"The children are already up there," Percy admitted, putting away his wand. "How did you do that?"
"Demonic teleporting capabilities," Lavelle said with a grin. He led the other Xander off after putting him into the robe. "There, now you look like you fit in. Need your glasses?"
"No, that's only for fine details." He grinned at him. "You really get to see stuff like this all the time?"
"No, not really. I've seen some incredible things, but I don't usually visit this realm. Not too many others have brooms that fly, though I know there's another Xander in a Harry Potter realm somewhere. He's a cursebreaker. He's training Draco, Ron, and Harry there." He shrugged. "He was more like me, an adventure sort with a reckless edge now and then. My crew got to legally take some artifacts back to our world for storage to get them out of this one and his."
"Wow," he breathed, grinning at him. "Maybe I should start studying magic."
"It's not something you take lightly, Xander. Magic can easily take over your life if you're not careful. And boy did I sound like a father telling his son that," he sighed, shaking his head. "Sorry, didn't mean to lecture. I don't like it when I do it to my kids either. Just know that for us magic can be as strong a force in our lives as love. If not stronger. You don't have the reason to practice that I did or furry Xander did. You hopefully won't ever have that sort of reason. But a few handy household spells probably wouldn't let it take over your life."
"I, um, kinda did a banishing," Xander admitted sheepishly. "Anya's been bugging David now and then."
"Which again, won't take over your life," he noted dryly. "If I were you, I'd talk to David about it tonight. Lay out your reasons, let him talk to you about it. Make him understand what you learning magic might mean to him, including some very expensive stuff now and then as you get deeper into it. Just because I have imps who will copy any part of Hell's libraries for me doesn't mean I don't buy books. Last month I paid nearly six million for a book through an agent at an auction. That was to keep it out of someone's grasp but it's still six million I can't use on other things, like my anime and kimono collections. If Lupin knew he'd throw a fit that might even be louder than the one he threw when he found out how much our island paradise with the pros cost me."
"You have a what?" Xander asked, stopping to look at him. "Huh?"
Lavelle smirked at him, turning around to walk backwards. "Lupin has this nasty habit of trying to bed every woman with a 'd' or bigger rack. This way he's got some he can play with and I know what they have, but it's a treat for all of us. It's our retirement village. Sixty pros, who do have the right to say no, and our family." He turned around, stopping to look at the castle. "I thought it'd be whiter," he noted dryly.
Xander stopped beside him, staring in awe. "Wow." He looked at Lavelle. "I wish we had one of these in my realm and I could deage and go there," he said quietly. "Even if I would have ended up in Slytherin."
"You never know, you could have been a Hufflepuff," he said, clapping him on the back with a grin. "I wish we could do that for all of us, Xander. It would have fixed so many wrong things in all our lives," he said quietly.
"Do you regret it?" Xander asked, looking at him.
Xander considered it, then nodded. "Now and then. Then again, I've seen what some of the rest of us went through and I've almost got the better deal. At least when I die, I'm going to be commanding my own section of Hell." He looked at him. "Some of us have had it worse than you or I did," he said gently. "My downfall wasn't even my own decision. I didn't ask to be sent to hell against my will." Xander shivered and he gave him a hug. "There's probably a me somewhere that didn't get free," he said quietly. "Or a you who ended up committing suicide in front of the girls after they said that to you. There's ones who have it worse than either of us. Those are the ones who regret being born. I just regret what someone did to me and forced me into now and then when things go bad and I have to use my skills in ways that give me nightmares. Like nearly having to kill Vecchio to save his life last year." Xander shivered at that. "It's what got him away from some corrupt supposed-police who decided he was going to hang for being effective and efficient and knowing his shit. They were going to kill him to keep him quiet about one of their crimes. I ended up doing a beautiful sniper shot to hit him in the chest while they were walking him out to hang him. Then I puked my guts out as I planned how to rescue him from the supposed hospital they put him in."
Xander shivered so he hugged him tighter. "You regret what's happened to you and what it's forced you to do. You regret some choices you made. That's life. That's all anyone gets, me. Sometimes you decide it's worth it even though it's necessary. Unfortunately we can't all go back and correct them. You've got to live life while you've got one. You can't do that when you're dead and no one can conclusively prove reincarnation for everyone." He looked at the younger version of himself. "Like the decision to study magic is biting you on the ass now, kid, but you can't go back to change it. You've got to live with it and move on. Sometimes that means more suffering. Sometimes it doesn't. I had to tell Ray's mother that I had to shoot him and withstand the beating to tell her why I shot him. Ray didn't even know I shot him. He and the cops down there thought it was the guy whose daughter was raped. Him I was able to get out of jail since he had never held a gun in his life and couldn't hope to make that shot. Do I regret it? Hell yeah. Would I do it again? Hell yeah. Did I shake from the nightmares for the next two weeks? Oh, yeah. Do I still now and then? Yup. Will I *ever* tell Ray I saved him that way? Hell no and everyone who does know is sworn to secrecy, including his mother. Do I regret it enough to not draw when someone's firing on me? Not at the moment. And that's life and the decisions you make."
Xander nodded, looking at his shoes now. "I understand. It still sucks that we had to make another Xander's family have mental issues with him because we had to draw him into this."
"Yeah, but he might have come anyway. Remember, that was his first time at the Crossroads too, Xan. That was supposed to be showing us who was there and who wasn't. I'm just glad he's drug his people into strange stuff too. I can't imagine a Xander who had a normal life or one who had left Buffy to lead a normal life and had a normal family dealing with this. Can you?"
"I can't imagine any of us leaving her side before the town died," he admitted.
"Unfortunately in the law of infinite universes, there's a Xander somewhere who never met her. One who mourns Jessie every day but doesn't know why he died. Ones who left on their roadtrip and never went back, by choice and not probably. Ones who took off after Glory and Buffy died. Some who might have even taken Dawn. And there's some who stayed and died." Xander nodded, swallowing a bit. "Hey, we survived, kid. We survived a lot. In the long run, we lived our lives and we saved other lives and we survived long enough to see a life and love. That's what I feel is important. You might feel differently. I'm not sure how religious you are or aren't. Sometimes you've got to think about that stuff. I know what's gonna happen to me. I got the High Evil's name whispered in my ear." He flicked his silver hair. "Some of this was from that." Xander nodded. "So talk to your mate. He's freaked by this but he's got to be supportive if he loves you. If not, well, you'll find someone better and maybe that cute Mountie will take you in," he offered with a grin.
"They're both cute and they're both with Stan," he said, elbowing him a bit. "I'll talk to him tonight. Thanks, dad. How much older than me are you?"
"Um, probably about twenty years. We found a deaging potion and had it used on us and by us." He grinned. "I'm about fifty naturally."
"Wow. That's nearly twice my age." He shook his head. "I'm twenty-seven."
"That's why I called you kid," he taunted, smirking at him. "Come on, I can see kids heading out to the pitch." They jogged that way and he found his kids, pulling that Xander to sit with them. "Hey, snot nosed brats," he taunted, stunning the adults around them. Apparently none of them would ever dream of picking on his kids that way, which was good in a lot of ways. "I gave birth to one of them and trained the rest," he said at the horrified look someone gave him. "I can call her that because it's true. The same as one's a know-it-all worse than Granger ever was, one's a shy little flower that will and has become carnivorous now and then, and the other's a babified warrior wannabe."
"Gee, mom, watch me kick your ass next practice," Ishi said dryly, smirking at him. He nodded at the other Xander. "Hey. Which one are you?"
"Ballistics Xander," he said, shaking his hand. "My mate, David, didn't want to come, but I'm fascinated by the books in our world and especially this part. Though I am guilty of buying the chocolate frog Nestle put out and over indulging quite a bit. A whole case is a bit much," he said happily.
"A Xander on a major sugar rush. I'm nearly scared," a male voice said from behind them.
Arsene looked and smiled. "Hi, Mr. Potter. Come join us. This is a nice, normal, good guy Xander. The other is our mother figure, Lavelle Xander."
Harry waved. "Hey. Where's our Xander?"
"Nose deep in a book," Lavelle admitted with a grin. "The kid told him he didn't have to come since he's playing Ravenclaw?" Harry nodded. "You can sit with us. I promise we won't plot to take over this world too." Harry snickered and swatted him on the arm, sitting down next to him. "Lupin said I accidentally took over my world. I've got this great underground network," he offered with a grin. "I just don't get pushy about it."
Harry nodded. "It sounds like you've got a lot on your hands, especially if you're working with those four."
"And their siblings," Melissa reminded him. "Mom, I had to send Fred home."
"Good!" he agreed. "Fred would drive everyone nuts trying to see whether or not people wore underwear under their robes." He shook his head. "He's twelve," he explained.
Harry nodded. "I remember some boys having that fascination at that age." He smiled as the announcer took his seat. "He's pretty good. He's an upper level Hufflepuff." He looked at Xander again, then glanced at the kids before looking at him again. Xander winked and nodded. "You're sure?"
"If they want and they beg and behave," he agreed quietly.
"We can what?" Arsene asked, leaning around the other Xander to butt in. "We can what, mom?"
"Behave for a start," the nice guy Xander complained, shoving her a bit. "I can't see!" He pouted at her and she sighed, giving him a hug. "Thanks." He watched as the teams came out and flew around a few times, his mouth hanging open. She shut it for him and he swallowed, watching raptly as the game began. "Wow," he breathed.
Someone sat down behind them, handing over a bag of popcorn. "Here, try some of that, mate," he said with a smirk for the kids. "Anyone need some?" Lotus gave him a horrified look. "What?" he asked innocently.
"I don't want to know what that does, Mr. Weasley."
"Nope, ring is present so it's Harris-Weasley," Ishi noted to his sister.
"We can both wear rings, kid. She was right, I'm Forge."
Xander looked back at him. "Funny, you don't look like an X-Man." Lavelle cracked up and clapped him on the back so he grinned. "It's nice to have people get your jokes." He went back to watching, leaning forward to rest on the rail in front of him. "This is so much better than it was described and the card game. Even better than the movie!"
Melissa rolled her eyes. But she went back to watching as well. She really liked that Iggy kid, he was smart like she was and a smart ass like she and Ishi could be now and then. She briefly wondered if liking him would be incestuous but then shook it off. It'd never be more than a fling and he was married so it didn't matter anyway.
Lavelle looked down at her, giving her an odd look. "Don't even think about it," he said firmly.
"I wasn't, mom. He's married," she sighed.
"That would probably be incest," George Harris-Weasley said from behind them. "His daddy's a Xander too."
"Yeah, but he's what I want in a man. Outside of his age. I like my men older. He's just so...like me." She looked at her father. "Ray would get really pissed at me for saying it, but Iggy's smarter."
"He's smarter than about ninety-nine percent of us too," George assured her, patting her on the back. "It's a dream, dear."
"I know, but not for some of us," Lotus quipped.
"He's married," George said patiently.
"Pity. I need to find me a boy like that," she sighed, shaking her head. "Mom, find me one like him?"
"I already did," he complained. "Date Homer, Lotus. He adores you like Iggy does his wife." She blushed at that. "Thank you. Settle that issue before my other seconds have to tie you up and give you to him as a present." Ishi snickered at that. "I'm serious and you're next."
"I could never date anyone that much smarter than me, mom. Remember that and that I like girls," Ishi teased, winking at the good guy Xander. "My father would be really upset if there weren't grandkids to carry on the family name and sword."
Xander nodded, going back to the game. "I got that feeling from him, yeah." He pointed. "Oooh, good move!" he cheered as Simone batted the bludger back at a chaser and she had to duck under it. "I can't do that."
"You could if you trained," George told him. "After all, we taught those kids and Xander." Harry snickered at that. "We did!"
"You and Draco," he taunted back.
"Hey, someone had to keep his mind off evil plots and my sister's bum," he reminded him. "Otherwise there'd be twenty or more kids by now." Lavelle snickered at that. "There would be!"
"Shh!" Xander leaned forward, engrossed in the game, watching them go back and forth.
Everyone gave him amused looks and went back to watching. They could play-fight later.
David Hodges looked around at the remaining Xanders. "What can I do to help? I feel pretty non-productive at the moment. This isn't my thing and I hate the strange stuff that floats around my Xander." They gave him amused looks. "Anything?" he offered. "Or should I go call Greg to come help?"
"Actually, there'll be a bit of stuff to figure out," Gryphon Xander offered. "We've got to make sure everything returns to the right realms before they shut or else they could snap back open again. Or you could help Sev and Iggy later tonight. They're working on a new potion and that's basically weird chemistry. Draco's working on the first if it matters." David looked like he was considering it. "A mechanical means we can duplicate magically would be easiest to carry around. I know it's going to be up to Lavelle and I since we got called first."
"I guess they're not so bad," he admitted quietly. "Where are they?"
"Sev probably went to the game. I know Draco did because he's been frustrated. Games against Ravenclaw usually last about an hour so they could be back in about two with the after-party and the changing and stuff. Either that or it'll take that long to pry your Xander off the brooms."
"Probably true," David agreed with a small grin. "He's so fascinated. I caught him reading a magic book last month to see if he could charm the chocolate frogs they put out to honor the movies we've got of you guys."
"I've never seen those books," Gryphon Xander admitted.
"Sixth shelf, black bookshelf, it's alphabetical," mouse Xander offered with a small grin as he continued to read. "Either that or you could help Dawn and Rimfire with a project for Mars that's part chemistry and part physics, but it's also partially magical once they find out what's needed. They're working on planetary recovery." David gaped and Xander shrugged a bit. "Mars was torn up by the Plutarkians." He suddenly sat up. "Babe?" he called. No answer. "Throttle!" Vinnie stuck his head in, giving him an interested look. "Someone should go check on the tower. We haven't heard anything from them and either they're freaked out or they're finding a way to hurt the poor dragons to use against us."
"I'll go," Vinnie promised dryly, heading down to his bike. "Scouting's better than magic any day. Now I remember why I really gave up the Goddess' path, too much homework." His bike beeped. "We're going scouting, sweetheart. Let me grab a jacket." He found one and slung it on, heading out on his bike, going to watch the tower. Xander's hunches were usually pretty good about this stuff. He didn't know which one he wanted more. A scared Limburger wouldn't be any fun, but wouldn't add to the problems. An active one would be more fun but they'd have to fight around the dragons and the magic. Or maybe he'd just figure out how to destroy the tower by himself on the principle of the thing. He didn't want to leave it standing too long, they'd get cocky and think they were winning this time.
Back at the lair, Xander drug David down the stairs, knocking on Dawn and Rimfire's work room, giving them a long stare. "Did we know David is a chemistry whiz? That he works with chemicals and soil samples and things all the time for his job in the PD?" They both shook their heads. "Think you can give him something semi-normal to deal with? He's freaked by magic."
"Sure," Dawn agreed. "Come on in, David. I was just doing some homework for an English elective and Rimfire was doing his Ag homework, but we'll gladly switch back to our pet project to get out of it." David grinned and walked in, letting her shut the door. "So, you do what?"
"I analyze trace samples, basically anything without DNA."
"Cool," Rimfire agreed. "Stoker may want to talk to him about how we do that on Mars."
"Easy, you use the scanner system, dear," Dawn reminded him. "Unfortunately we can't do that to heal Mars." She sat him down on the pillows next to her lap desk and reached around her mate to find their files, handing it to him. "This is our pet project. It's a lot of physics and chemistry, but it's fun and necessary at the same time. It's also one of the reasons why Rimfire's taking Agricultural classes. They need the farming stuff back sooner instead of later. Mars needs to be self-reliant within a decade if possible. Right now they're still buying a lot of stuff from earth, but that's getting costly and shipping is still a problem."
"Plus we've still got a growing population base now that we've got all the survivors of the war back," Rimfire pointed out gently. "The last influx of refugees totaled nearly a jump of fifteen hundred mice. So it's really important we figure out how to work the farming stuff and get us hotdogs again."
David looked at him. "Those things are bad for you. Do you know what chemicals are in them?"
Rimfire grinned and flexed. "They give mice muscles like these, babe. It's all good to most mice, except Xander."
"Yeah, Xander had a tour through a meat packing plant when he was in elementary school," Dawn said with a smirk. "I know what's in them thanks to him too. That's why neither of us eat the meat equivalent of a cigarette."
"Eww," Rimfire said, plugging his ears with his fingers. "I don't want to hear this, Dawn!"
"Sorry," she said smugly, grinning at David. "We're married, I'm allowed to ride him now and then about his diet."
David nodded. "I try to keep my Xander away from chocolate and sugar too. He ate a box of chocolate frogs a few days before our wedding." Dawn looked horrified, and Rimfire looked like he was going to cry. "I understand fully."
"Here we try to keep down the caffeine and the sugar," Dawn said, patting him on the arm. "I'm not sure how you put up with a caffeinated Xander but you're obviously more tolerant than we are."
"He learned how to live and not bounce on it in college. He was working with Wolfram and Hart while Angel had it and doing school at the same time," he offered smugly. "He got decent grades too."
"I'm sure. He'd have to to have the job he's got." She shook her head. "Don't tell my Xander that. Please? We don't need to remember Xander on too much caffeine." He nodded, looking down at the files. "If you want, we can move this up to the office and the computer up there. It's got a bit better light."
"No, this is fine." He shifted closer to the nearest candle and went back to reading. "This is really comprehensive, guys. I'm impressed."
"Thanks," Rimfire said happily. "We've got an idea what we need, now we're figuring out how to do that."
"Well, it looks like you're going to have to rebalance the soils," he said, looking at him. "Are they in chemical harmony?" Rimfire looked stunned. "That's one of the purposes of fertilizer."
"We haven't covered that in Ag classes yet," he admitted. "Next semester I've got a special chemistry class on soils and fertilizers." He shook himself out of his musing. "You think it's that simple to start?"
"To start, but you've also got to solve the water problem," David warned. "Farming in a desert environment isn't that easy. It can be done but you can't grow as much or as many varieties. You'll need both."
"Yeah, but can they use greenhouses for that?"
"With how much of a population?" David asked.
"As Xander pointed out to that Braveheart mouse that day," Rimfire agreed. "Who would know what sort of fertilizer mix we'd need?"
"I don't know," David admitted. "Maybe someone in the USDA? They watch over farms and things. They might be able to do a soil analysis and figure that out. It might also depend on the volume of water you're going to be able to devote to this."
"Point," Dawn admitted, leaning on her knees while she stared at a flame. Rimfire suddenly kissed her and she looked at him. "Sorry, did I spaz?"
"Just a bit," he offered with a small grin. "We need to get soil samples."
"Want me to head up?"
"No, I was going to call Wrench and ask him," he offered. Dawn snorted and shook her head. "Why no?"
"He's watching Vic."
"He's probably with my gray furred grandmomma," Rimfire noted patiently. "I doubt Wrench would deal very well with a hyper toddler and his duties, plus the dragon that followed him."
"Won't it die up there?" David asked.
"There's lots of small, poisonous-to-mice creatures," Dawn offered. "It could live off those for centuries probably." She flicked a hand through her hair then went back to leaning forward again. "Anyway, it'll probably disappear when the rest do."
"How? His Xander said that the first dragon he saw couldn't leave Chicago?" Rimfire asked.
Dawn stared at him. "Huh?"
David nodded. "Xander did complain that the wizards who showed up from the older Xander's world couldn't move them," he told her.
"Then how did one get to Mars?"
"How did it get to Mars at all?" David asked.
"We've got a Plutarkian transporter from where we raided them once," Rimfire admitted. "We can get home with it." They looked at each other then got up to check it out and see how that had happened.
A few hours later David had to call in someone geekier in technology than he was. He pulled out his cellphone. "I'm assuming I'm still in my home area and not roaming," he admitted, dialing Las Vegas. "Hey, Greg? David. No, not big problems." He grinned. "Yeah, and of course Xander sucked me into the middle. Listen, are you a Trekkie or not? I could never figure that out and one of the strange things has a transporter that moved something that wasn't supposed to be able to be moved and I was wondering if you knew why?" He listened to the babbling and smirked. "Tell Grissom I'm sorry and yes, we're involved in the strangest of the strange out here yet again. What do you mean food shipments were cut off and they're evacuating us? We haven't heard anything about that." Dawn frowned and went to the garage to check in with Charley. "No, I'm in strange headquarters. You mean like dragons?" He smirked at the giggling. "Seriously. And one's been taken out of the area but it wasn't possible before. Yeah, transporter." He grinned as Throttle came in. "We're trying to figure out why the dragon made it to follow Vic when limping Xander's buddy with the pointy stick couldn't move one."
"Oh." He nodded and headed up to the library. "There's a dragon on Mars?" Xander, his Xander, smiled and nodded. "Why?"
"It followed Vic." He stole a kiss and grinned again. "I sent Vinnie to scout the tower and see what he's doing about this."
"Good idea," Throttle agreed. "It's a normal thing. That and getting Modo's nursery ready," he decided. "I'm going to work on those if that's okay?"
"Sure, babe. We can handle this. You go be weirded out and make sure I'm normal each morning." Throttle nodded and stole a harder kiss. "See you tonight?"
"Of course. Come to bed early tonight, Xander. Not the middle of the night." He headed back to fix up Modo's room for the baby. Punch would need special stuff. He heard a bike and went to get Vinnie's help. He was freaked out by this too, his fur was standing on end. "What's he doing?"
"He's being licked by a dragon, who looks disgusted. I think it's giving him a bath," he admitted, making a grossed out face and shuddering. "Otherwise they're just lounging around his tower for warmth and getting comfy."
"Doing this in the middle of winter was mean," Throttle agreed. "They're probably cold blooded and freezing half the time."
"Well, one looked like it so I kinda shot a low powered laser bolt into its side and it warmed up nicely. It looked much happier and the others crowded around it."
"We should work on that," Dawn agreed as she came in. "They're evacuating the other end of Chicago but not us. Charley called the station and we were threatened with torture and mutilation if we tried to leave. The good news is that classes are canceled." Vinnie snickered. "David's helping us on our terraforming plan, guys. Did you want to help us with that too?" They both shook their heads. "Are you sure?"
"We're not that smart, Dawn," Vinnie told her, giving her a hug. "We'll handle the baby and Limburger, that stuff. Can you figure out how to keep the dragons warm when it snows again?"
"Sure," she agreed, pulling down a book from where she had left it and opening the window, chanting down at the street. A glowing ball grew and the dragon nearest it looked and sniffed, then roared in pleasure and moved closer. "There. I can put up a few more if I need to. I'll call Welsh about that problem too. Good idea, Vinnie," she said, punching him on the arm. Then she strolled out.
He rubbed his arm. "Ow, bro. You made her hit too hard!"
"Whiner," Throttle taunted. Vinnie growled and pounced him to beat him, but it was just playing between them. It was the biker stud way and part of their biker code as Martians.
David stopped to watch the fight. "Should we step in?"
"Nah, they're playin'," Rimfire said fondly. "They won't really hurt each other." He walked over them and motioned David on before closing the window. He looked down there at the growling beasts. "Ah, that's what Dawn's doing. Dawnie, make another one!" he yelled. Lavelle walked in with a new can of soda, opening it as he looked. Then he touched something on his stomach and a part of the street melted, making them happy dragons as they crowded around this other warm spot. "How did you do that?" Rimfire asked patiently.
"Easy, I called up a bit of hellfire," he said with a shrug, going back to the library.
Throttle and Vinnie both watched him go, then looked at each other. "That's the strangest Xander," Vinnie said dryly.
"No I'm not, that would be swishy, gay Xander," Lavelle called back. "He even freaked out Lupin and Jigen."
"Do not call him!" Goemon yelled from the roof. "I will harm you, Xander!"
"There's a gay, *swishy* Xander?" Vinnie asked, smirking a bit at his bro. "Is he worse than ours?"
"Much," Dawn said dryly as she came back. "Much worse. He's a killer tease too." Rimfire gave her a dirty look. "I'm the one who got the vision from the Seal, who was watching him dance! It's not my fault! And hey, I jumped you when I woke up!"
"True," he decided, kissing and nuzzling her neck gently. "It was a nice night."
"Yeah, you two kept us up," Throttle noted sarcastically. "We'd like it if you two quit that by the way."
"Tough! You two woke us up plenty of times with kinky, bed breaking sex," she complained right back, frowning down at him. "I should call kinky, swishy, gay Xander here just to make you a sorry person for waking us up last night!"
Throttle shuttered. "Please, no more Xanders," he pleaded. "I can't take any more Xanders."
"This one's not magical," Dawn assured him with a grin. "He's just a pleasure ho to his Oz, Methos, and Ray." She kissed Rimfire hard then went to turn on the computer, smiling at the message. "Stoker and Carbine called earlier."
"Yay. I'm ignoring Mars at the moment," Vinnie decided. "Is it about Modo or Vic?"
"Him complaining about headaches is the message he left." She replayed it, turning up the volume on the speakers when Stoker's gravely voice came over quietly, but very insistently, that they quit moving strange stuff to Mars and to please keep Xander away from them for a very long time. Especially from Vic so he'd be a normal mouse, like Wrench. "Oh, yeah, because the watcher mouse is *so* normal," she snorted after that part.
Throttle chuckled. "I'm sure he'd be happy to be thought of as normal," he offered. He got up to call them, smirking at Stoker. "Hey, coach. It's not our fault. We've got multiple worlds touching. That's where the dragon came from."
"I don't want to hear about that stuff," he complained.
"Think how we feel, there's four Xanders here," Rimfire complained, sitting down and nodding David to take the spare chair. Dawn could always sit in his lap. "Old fart, we need some soil samples for some fertilizer testing," he said.
"Fine. I'll send them down with Vic and his dragon."
"Sure," Vinnie sighed. "I'd rather he stayed up there though. They're evacuating parts of Chicago to get them out of the area of strangeness the four Xanders brought with them."
"Four?" he asked weakly. "You've got four Xanders?" Everyone nodded. He let out a whimper. "I'm so sorry, punk. I'm so very sorry. Of course Victor can stay up here. I'm sure Wrench can make him into a normal mouse. Hell, even the dragon shouldn't be exposed to four Xanders. I'm so sorry." He hung up and looked at the rest of the council. "There's four Xanders together down there."
"How?" Exhaust said calmly.
"They said something about worlds touching." He shrugged. "I don't know. Four Xanders are a bad thought."
Spike came over from his seat in the corner and led his father back to his bike, taking him home. His mother had made sure he and Anya were taking turns taking care of their father for the time being. Not that he could deal with the concept of four Xanders at once, but it was better than his father was doing. His father was buggered in the head and his big sister would only make it worse with whatever was wrong with her head. They rode past the mouse holding up the sign saying 'the end is near, pray to the Old Ones' and snorted. "They won't help you," he called. "They already know!" He took the turn to home and headed there faster. His father needed a nap.
David looked up from his reading, smiling at Dawn as she came in with two familiar people. "Detectives."
"Inspectors," Stanley corrected grimly. "We're from Lavelle's world." He sat down, looking at him. "What's been going on?"
"So far, a lot of funny and odd research," he admitted. "I don't understand that stuff so I'm helping Dawn and Rimfire with these things."
"Fine," Ray Vecchio agreed, sitting down across from him. "What about Lavelle?"
"He's been doing a lot of research and he might be back from the quidditch game by now. I've been up here for the last few hours. He did promise to be a good guy while this was going on."
"Sure," Ray agreed. "He does that now and then. He did tell them what he was?" David nodded, grimacing a bit. "Are you okay with that?"
"He's not on my caseload as a Trace tech," he said simply. "It's not my duty to do more than watch and see if something happens."
"Good point," Ray agreed, nodding a bit. "Is he staying here?" David nodded. "That's fine. Where is the library?"
"Other end of the house," David said, pointing toward the kitchen. "Go past the fridge and keep going."
"Thanks," Stan said, getting up and heading that way. Ray followed after a second of talking about the various Xanders, but he got to see them first. Lavelle was studying and making notes, something he hadn't seen before.
"Staring makes me nervous," Gryphon Xander noted dryly, looking at him. Then he kicked Lavelle on the shin and nodded. "Yours."
Lavelle looked and grinned. "Hey, guys. Come to help?"
"We came to watch you," Ray said from behind Stan, walking around him. He looked around the library and whistled. "They weren't kidding when they said a library."
"Sometimes it's necessary for the strange and unusual stuff," the furry Xander said, shifting on his couch. "You might as well come in and join us, gentlemen. I promise I don't nibble on humans."
"Only tacos and pizza," Lavelle joked.
"And the occasional chip or my man," Xander shot back with a smirk for him. "He's very tasty."
"I'll take your word for it. I couldn't ever be with someone that hairy," Gryphon Xander noted calmly. "There's chairs, come sit." He forced himself to sit up. "At least we can figure out how to make sure everyone's in their own realms," he told Lavelle, handing over his book. They exchanged and he nodded. "That'd work to break the linkage."
"Good. We'll have to do that while the kids are stealing that potion. Doing it now is dumb, they'll still keep us stuck while they make another try for everything. Doing it during is explosive and dangerous. After's the only real choice we've got."
"Wonderful," Stan said dryly. "London's under quarantine at the moment."
"They were evacuating the other side of Chicago," furry Xander assured him. "Dawn heard we're not getting any food shipments either. Hey, guys?" he yelled. "Did anyone think to check on Chef Andy?"
"He's fine," Vinnie yelled from the garage. "Should I take your wallet and get lunch?"
"Please! Get me a barbecue if he's makin' 'em today!"
"Sure," Vinnie called back and his bike roared off a few minutes later.
Lavelle grinned. "Those bikes are great."
Furry Xander grinned and nodded. "They are. Unfortunately the military's figured out how to make their own."
"They've even got a scooter made."
Lavelle snickered. "Yeah, they're using them for covert work then," he said dryly, shaking his head. He looked at his buddies and grinned at them. "Yes, he's this world's me."
Stan looked then looked at Lavelle. "Don't you dress up like him now and then?"
"Um-huh," he said happily. "Speaking of which, I've still got to take measurements and stuff, me. That way I can go as myself to the cons."
"Sure, measure away, me. I'm studly and cute enough to want to be admired that way." He winked at Ray when he gave him a horrified look. "I changed into a mouse."
Ray shuddered. "I don't wanna know how. Really."
"Sex," Lavelle told him with a grin. "It was Willow's doing." Stan whimpered. "And you wondered why Jigen killed ours?" he taunted, smirking at them. "So, what's up? The kids are in Scotland handling some minor stuff while we wait for the right moment to break this linkage."
"Good!" Stan agreed. "At least that one's not here yet."
"No, but I can't call him. Goemon threatened to have me beaten this time. Of course, if *you* wanted to see him or his dancing again I'm sure we could accommodate you, Stan."
Ray growled, "I'll help beat you." He looked Lavelle over, then tapped his fingers on his arms a few times, shifting a bit as well. "You shot me last year."
"Who told you?" he groaned, then sighed. He looked at his friend. "You would have died if I hadn't." Ray looked stunned. "Not that one? I only grazed you otherwise last year."
Ray reached over and smacked him across the face. "That was you!"
"Yeah! Did you want to be dead?" he retorted just as angrily. "I saved your damn life and got you out of that damn hospital. Trust me, I didn't enjoy it either! Now, get over it and shut the fuck up, Ray." Ray glared. "I also told your mother that I had to do it and why. You should have seen the bruises." Ray continued to glare. "Sorry, next time I won't save your life."
Stan coughed. "Our Dawnie told him," he noted calmly. "She analyzed the shot and said it had to be a marksman and Jigen was in Tokyo on that job. Ishi was in Sweeden on their job with Melissa, and the only other one who'd do it for him was in China doing some training and he wouldn't have missed by that much." He stared Xander down. "He was talking about the thing at the movies and his date."
"No, that was Arsene," he admitted.
"Why did she shoot me? She likes me."
"Bigger Arsene, the First," Xander told him with a small grin. "He wanted to let Melissa get away. He didn't realize you two were together." Ray shivered. "He did apologize to her when she screamed at him and made him back into a corner however."
"Good!" He looked at the other Xander, then at Lavelle again. "I should bring you in for that."
"You probably should, but since I saved your ass by doing it, on purpose, and told your mother, I think I've already been punished enough." He got up and headed outside, smiling at the dragons playing in the snow. "Are you having a snowball fight?" he asked, picking some up to toss at them. They howled and pounced, making him laugh and play for a few minutes.
Charley opened the back door. "Guys!" She shook her head, but she was smiling. "Yeah, you're a Xander all right." She rubbed her stomach and let him inside when he came that way, petting the nose following him. "Hey, big, purple one. How are you today?" It nuzzled her stomach then withdrew quickly when the baby kicked, looking alarmed.
"They don't come in eggs. That's a baby mouse," Lavelle told him with a grin. "Don't worry, it won't hurt you." The dragon whomped off to play some more. Lavelle put a hand on her stomach. "Hmm, strong kicker. Melissa and her twin did that to me time and again when I was trying to do something."
"You actually had your own kids?" she asked, closing the door to keep some heat inside. He nodded. "How?"
"A very potent fertility spell," he admitted. "Plus this choker I have that changes gender. Otherwise I'd have been a pregnant male and miserable when they tried to come out. Besides, morning sickness was easier as a girl," he offered with an impish grin. "I've got to get my bag out of the car."
"Sure." She stroked her stomach and winced. "Hey, kiddo, let's calm down," she pleaded. "Please?" She heard the car door slam and forced herself to straighten up when he came back. He raised an eyebrow. "Braxton Hicks."
"I hated false labor," he agreed, stroking her stomach again. He frowned and dropped the bag, putting both hands on it. "That's not false pains. How much longer do you have?"
"Almost three months. Why?"
"That's a real pain. I can feel it starting." He looked up. "Yo, furry ones?" he called. A kitsune landed, looking amused. "Check this for me. I think she's in really early labor."
"Enamel!" she screamed. He and Vinnie both came running. She punched Vinnie on the arm, then glared at Enamel. "He thinks I'm in really early labor."
"Let me get my stuff," he promised, going back to the house at a run. He came back and found the furry creature patting her on the stomach. "What are you?"
"A kitsune," Lavelle told him. "They're counted as demons but they're not demonic. They're very magical creatures." He watched as Enamel checked her over, then nodded. "Should we take her to the hospital?"
"Nope." He looked at her. "We can get you onto Mars, Charley. There's got to be a neonatal unit there. I don't want to expose more medical people down here and there's not enough time to get Micah out here to clear it."
"Our time runs differently," the Kitsune noted calmly. "A day with us can be like three months if we will it so." Enamel stared at him. "I have done so in the past with Lavelle when he had his children. One of them wanted to come much too early as well."
"Are you sure that won't get you into trouble?" he asked his buddy.
"I'm the Lord of the Kitsune. As long as I take them to my realm, it'll be fine," he promised. He looked at Enamel. "Are you the father?"
"I'm her doctor," he noted dryly. "The white blur next to me is the father."
The kitsune looked at him, then at Lavelle. "He seems much like you," he noted dryly. He looked at Charley. "If you wish, this would keep you from delivering too soon."
"Please," she begged. "I'll stay out of the way and everything."
"As I said, I have done this in the past for our ambassador Lavelle." He took her hand and looked at Enamel, then at Vinnie again. "Come, healer. You may come to monitor her with ours." Enamel grabbed on and they disappeared.
Lavelle looked at Vinnie. "She'll be ack tonight, it won't hurt her, she won't realize it's been three months," he promised. "She'll be in hard labor." He nodded, looking stunned. "They're nice guys. I promise. A bit formal but very nice guys. They took great care of me when I was pregnant."
"Sure," he said weakly. "Bros?" he called quietly.
"Throttle!" Lavelle yelled. He came running. "The kitsune Lord just took Charley and Enamel since she was in early labor. She'll be back tonight. They're going to age her so she doesn't deliver too early." He nodded at Vinnie. "She'll be back tonight and they're very good and nice. They helped me when I was pregnant."
"Sure," he agreed, letting that go over his head as he walked Vinnie back to the lair to cuddle him. They needed to cuddle him right now. "She'll be fine. If Lavelle said they're okay, he'd know. They won't hurt her, bro."
"Still, three months?" he whined. "Without any of us but Enamel?"
"She'll be back tonight." He sat him down and pulled him closer, just holding him. "She'll be fine and Enamel will protect her," he reminded him. "Nothing will happen and he's good at protecting." Vinnie nodded and relaxed into his side, going limp.
The Lord of the Kitsune landed in front of his throne, looking at the ones around him. "Did we land in the wrong realm due to the nexus?" The kitsune on his throne, who was him, shook his head. "That's fine. Someone get my healer! We're doing a favor for our ambassador Lavelle!" One of the guards went rushing away. "Come sit, dear."
"Of course, Charley." He called a chair over and sat her in it, stroking her shoulder. "It will be all right. You won't realize how long it is." He looked at Enamel. "We'll put her with my healer. There's not many humans up here but he is one and he's used to birthing problems. He took care of the mother who had a half-kitsune recently." She nodded and clutched his hand. He looked at himself, then shrugged. "She's going early. It's a favor for our ambassador."
"Lavelle is who?" he asked. "That's not a kitsune name."
"He's our ambassador to the European syndicates," he admitted. "He's a Prince." The others all groaned. "Those who are mine know much of him." A few nodded. "When did this happen?"
"About as soon as you left," a guard admitted, walking the healer closer. "You left, they appeared, and things started to go funny, sire." He pointed the healer at the woman. "Her."
"Thank you." He looked at Enamel. "A demon?"
"Really? There's none of you in our world. Interesting." He got down to check Charley, removing his disc system to get an unimpeded view. "Ah, a bit early but she's still fine. Does she have a name?"
"Her daddy said to name her Magnet," she said quietly, stroking her stomach. "I'm sorry about this."
He smiled. "You're not the first. We did the same for Lavelle when he went early with Melissa and Savannah. Come, I'll take you back to my suite so you can rest and we can monitor you. Sire, with your leave?"
"Of course. Keep me informed." The healer nodded and helped her off with Enamel following. He looked at himself. "Are we in yours or mine?"
"Yours. We all merged here. We're not sure why this is going on so long."
"Lavelle!" the lord snapped. Lotus and Melissa appeared. "Not who I wanted," he admitted.
Lotus shrugged. "Tough, Lord of the Kitsune. Mom's working on the nexus problem."
"Ah, so you know," he said happily. "What is going on!" he yelled.
Melissa snorted. "Imagine our shock when Mom got home and told us. We only had a few hours warning."
Lotus nodded. "Indeed. Homer's still flustered about the dragons he's seen on the news," she said quietly. She bowed to them all. "With all due respect, it's a magical nexus switching moment. They're presently stuck due to the actions of a law firm known as Wolfram and Hart."
"They needed access to the various realms to find some items for a godmaking potion," Melissa noted calmly. "Which we're set up to steal and break the linkage." Everyone whimpered and a few held their heads. "We won't be using it. There's nothing in it that we want." That got some sighs of relief. "We will have to hide it somewhere however." She looked at Lotus. "Why don't you take the heavy-duty mages to explain all the magical sticky points to make sure we're not missing a point we've got to consider in our plans?" Lotus nodded and headed off. "Is there some service I can help with?" she asked the remaining.
"You may stay with the human woman just brought up as a favor to your mother," one of the guards noted. "Follow me." She nodded, looking around as she followed along. "Where are they stuck?"
"Chicago and London are the points where the switches are happening but those two offices of the law firm are also stuck together," she said quietly. "We were sent to deal with that since the wizards probably couldn't. We've got a Xander from a Harry Potter realm," she noted at his sideways look. He stopped and gaped and she grinned and nodded happily. "We just got done with a quidditch match."
"Wow." He shook his head. "I'll go watch that later on a mirror." He continued on, tapping on the doors of a suite. "Lotus is explaining the situation to the Lords and mages," he told the healer. "Melissa offered to help you."
"That's fine. Charley could probably use some more calming. Come in, dear." She smiled and hugged the guard, then walked inside and stopped to stare at the other person. "His name is Enamel and he is sentient."
"He's also a giant furry thing," she said in awe, walking forward to stroke down his arm. "Wow." She looked up into the amused eyes. "Sorry, but Xander's my mom."
"It's okay. I'm sure he petted the first ones of us he met." He patted her on the back. "Name, child?"
"Melissa Jigen, daughter to Lavelle." He snorted, walking off shaking his head. "So I take it Uncle Stan and my Ray are there?" she called, following him. She smiled at Charley, shaking her hand. "Hi, I'm Melissa Jigen. I'm Lavelle's first daughter, one of the first set of twins he had." She whimpered and she giggled. "Exactly. Two sets of twins and then a single. How are you doing?" She knelt beside her, stroking her stomach. "Well, she's a strong little girl, but not magical." Charley relaxed. "Don't worry, she won't be tainted by the magic around here," she promised gently, smiling at her. "They only did that to one and it was a matter of prophecy, dear. I promise, she'll be a normal baby."
"Thank you. Can you tell she's a Martian?"
Melissa shook her head and glanced at Enamel, who was hovering close by, then leaned closer. "Not a bit, but do you know any I could bring home for Arsene? She'd squeal and be happy for *years*," she whispered. Charley snickered and nodded. "Really?"
"Really. I know a great many mice, including a baby Spike mouse."
"Wow. I only met the vampire Spike a few times, but that would be pretty neat." She grinned at Enamel and got up to pet him some more. "I might even give up my Ray if I could have one of you to pet."
"Xander said that we're the reason the world would hit space sooner," he offered, removing her hand. "I'm mated, kid."
"I'm not that young, and I'm not being fresh, just admiring." She went back to looking over his fur, getting out a knot. "Sorry," she said when he hissed. "Knot." she went back to petting him. "You're well-built too. Can I have one of you? Ray would pout for a bit, but I'd share with Arsene."
"Probably not," he noted patiently. "Charley girl, how are you feeling?"
"Fine," she admitted, putting her feet up. "I wonder how Staff is getting on."
"You mean there's female giant furries too?" Melissa asked, her eyes bright.
"And a Xander mouse," Charley agreed dryly.
"Oh, I so wanna see that!" she stated, looking at her. "Mom dresses up as a giant mouse for conventions but they're cartoons in our world."
"Yeah, well, we're real in ours," Charley said with a grin. "You should watch the cartoons."
"I've seen one of his videos, but he greedily hordes the rest of his anime stash." She came back to pat her on the stomach. "Calm down in there, dear. It's all right." The door opened and Lotus walked in, then stopped to stare at Enamel. "They're real in their world."
"I've got to tell Arsene. She'd piss herself in joy," she said in awe, coming over to pet him. "Wow." She grinned at him. "I hope you don't mind, sir."
"My name's Enamel and I've been petted by humans before," he admitted.
"We've got to tell Ishi and the others," Melissa told her. "He doesn't think that Xander makes a good mouse." Charley snickered, shaking her head. "No?"
"No, he's a very good mouse," Enamel promised. "He makes more mice worry and twitch than any other mouse on Earth or Mars." He smiled as the girls calmed Charley down, looking at the young female fox spirit coming in. "Is she needed?"
"No, sire," she said quietly, looking at the floor. "We were wondering if she'd like a long soak. It helps many of us relax and calms down many kits." She bowed to the girls. "You as well if you want."
"We should get back to Hogsmeade," Lotus offered. "But thank you. Charley, would you like a soak?"
"Sure, I like to soak. The baby likes to float," she agreed, standing up. "If it's not any problem?" The girl shook her head without looking at her. She looked at Enamel, who shrugged, then at the girls.
"The Kitsune follow very traditional Japanese roles," Lotus instructed. She smiled and patted her on the arm. "I'll help you with this. It can take some getting used to when you've never been out of the US to the stricter societies." She looked at the maid. "Please, she would love to accept the soak. Where are we going?"
"I can run it in the attached spa," she promised, bowing and backing out, then going to do that. She came back a few minutes later. "Come with me, ma'am?"
"Call me Charley." The girl blushed and shook her head quickly, glancing at her. "Okay, or not," she offered.
"It would be considered very rude of her to do something like that with someone who is from an upper class family," Lotus said quietly.
"No, that's tradition," Lotus instructed. She walked her that way. "Come with us, Enamel?"
"She's not my wife. I can monitor the disc from the doorway and it is waterproof." The maid nodded and moved a chair for him so he could take up the traditional guard's position outside the door. He waited until the maid had left to glance back at Lotus. "I've seen some older societies but that's stricter than most."
Lotus came out, grinning already. "It is. It's got its freedoms but she serves the Imperial family here in the palace. Her conduct is very proscribed and has to fall into certain layers. She's not allowed to look you in the eyes, not allowed to joke or play with you, and she can't call you more than sir or ma'am, something respectful. Otherwise it loses her boss, your host, honor and standing. It looks rude," she said at his opening mouth. "The Japanese society is very strict on that matter." She looked down at her outfit. "Speaking of, I should probably change since I know better than to wear jeans in the palace if I'm up here for more than ten minutes. I'll be right back, let her nap in there." She walked to the door and smiled at the guard. "Please get Mother's maid and something appropriate for me to change into?" He nodded, smiling at her. "They've never been exposed to the traditions so I'm translating and helping."
"Of course, Lady Lotus." She nodded and closed the door. He came back ten minutes later with an older fox spirit with three tails and her kimono. "Is this acceptable?"
"Well, I'm an adult now, but not exactly a maiden. I'm dating." The fox spirit looked horrified. "Sorry, was kinda necessary for a spell to help with things." She pursed her lips and nodded. "But I can pretend," she offered with a grin.
"That would be acceptable since you are not married." She walked Lotus into the other bathroom, coming out a few minutes later and bowed to Enamel. "Does the other Lady need clothes?"
"She'll be leaving tonight," Lotus offered. "She's pregnant and in labor. She's in a bath right now." She came out, pushing a pin into her hair. Enamel gaped and she shrugged. "It's traditional. "Would you please tie my obi?" The maid nodded and tied it for her, then patted her on the back and bowed before leaving. "Thank you!" She looked at Enamel. "How is she doing?"
"She's fine." He checked his screen and smiled. "The baby's moving but not uncomfortable and her pains are about an hour apart."
"Good." The door was knocked on and opened and she bowed at the doctor coming in. "Healer, how are your patients? Especially my sister and the half-kitsune?"
"The half-kitsune is adorable," he assured her with a smile. "Your sister is in her lessons but I had her sent for when I heard you were staying for a few hours." He kissed her on the cheek. "Is there news of a bonding coming?"
"Not yet," she admitted. "I'm still thinking. I'm having some serious doubts."
"Pity, I had him brought up as well." She blushed but did smile. "He'll be in soon." He looked at Enamel. "How is she?"
"Her pains are about an hour apart and the baby's happy in the water," he offered, letting him see the screen.
"Fascinating. I wish we could make something like this so we can do it magically. It'd be so much easier."
"I just want Arsene to come up. She'd go nuts about the giant furry person," Lotus teased with a grin for him. Someone tapped on the door. "Enter!" The healer looked at her. "Sorry, I'm taking liberties."
"Not an issue. Enter!" The door was opened. "She's translating for them, it's fine," he told the guard. He smiled at Homer Peacekeeper, who was a giant man. He was nearly seven feet tall and nearly that wide with muscles. Even Enamel gaped in awe at his body. There weren't many people bigger than Modo, but this guy was and he was definitely bigger around. "Homer, Lotus is acting as a helper for the human female in labor."
"That's fine. May I take her for a few moments for a stroll?" She blushed but put a hand in his, letting him walk her off. "Lotus, you look lovely. I like that kimono on you."
"It's not often you'll get me into one these days, but I do look cute," she agreed, smiling up at him. "I'm sorry I've been ignoring you, Homer."
"You're confused. There is much you need to think on. I am older than you and I am quite a bit bigger." She stopped him and kissed him, then blushed and walked on, making him follow. "I take it you're done thinking?"
"Everything is so much easier when you're around. I only doubt when you're away."
"Inspector Vecchio says much the same thing," he noted, taking her hand again. He nodded at a guard staring at them. "She is my fiance."
Lotus looked up at him. "I am?"
"You are," he agreed. "Your mother said so." She snorted and rolled her eyes. He smiled. "He's offered to do an arranged marriage if he had to so you'd be happy."
"I'm going to kick his ass later," she muttered. He chuckled and hugged her gently. "I'm not that fragile." He hugged her harder. "Thank you. Have you managed to ask my father for my hand?"
"No I haven't," he admitted. "I can do so today if you wish." She considered it then nodded, blushing again. "Do you know where he is?"
"In Chicago with Lavelle."
"That's fine. I'll go back with you?"
"I'm in Scotland."
"You can travel back," he promised. "Besides, the children probably need to check in with Lavelle over the final plans. I know Bastian is in London and the plans he got worried him."
"It happens but we're working on them while the Chicago group works on the plan to get everyone home where they belong."
"That's fine," he agreed. He kissed her hand then walked on with her, taking her back. "Shall I stay?"
"If you wish. I'm interpreting. Neither of the people up have been exposed to Japanese society."
"Ah. Then it is good that you are helping them." He nodded at the guard, who let them in. He walked Lotus in and helped her sit, then looked at the healer. "We should have tea."
"Please, no more tea," Lotus moaned. "I'm in Scotland and I've drank more tea than I have in the last year."
"If you wish," the healer agreed with a smile. "Why are you in Scotland?"
"Dealing with the sticking in London and protecting the Hogwarts school." He looked stunned. "One of the worlds is one of theirs. There's two with nothing but creatures like dragons, which are all over Chicago, and ours along with the mice's world." She pointed at Enamel. "They're real in their world."
Homer looked, then blinked. "Did Xander get the gray mouse costume wrong?" he asked politely.
"No, I'm a different gray mouse," Enamel said tolerantly. "I'm Enamel, I'm their doc."
"Ah. It is nice to meet you. I have seen Xander's tapes a few times. Your people seemed quite interesting."
"Thanks. Both girls petted me."
"You're very soft," Lotus assured him with a grin. Homer gave her a sideways look. "He is. I petted his arm."
"Fine," he agreed tolerantly. "I'm sure Melissa nearly wet herself this time." Someone opened the door and he stood up, ready to attack someone. He looked at the strange fox. "You are?"
"I'm the Ambassador to the Demon Courts," he said, bowing to him. "Lady Lotus, the Incubus' ambassador has returned and would like an update on the situation since he has felt your...mother being a bit active in Chicago."
"I felt him call some hellfire," she admitted, standing up. "I'll be right back. Homer, can you help them?" He nodded. "Thank you. Give me a few minutes." She followed him, nodding politely at the foxes she passed. The ambassador was waiting for her in the garden. "I did feel Mom call hellfire. I'm not sure why."
"Heat," Enamel said from behind her. "I'm involved in that side of things, I thought I should tag along."
"That's fine," she said with a smile. "This is Enamel, he's a physician among his kind." She sat down and nodded at the maid. "Ooh, cookies. Thank you." She took one to nibble, letting him take some. "As far as we know, Wolfram and Hart are responsible for the switch sticking. They're trying to make something called a godmaking potion. They're missing a few ingredients, but we've decided to let them try it. Since stopping them now would mean that they could do it again or keep this going longer, and doing it during the brewing could lead to an unpredictable explosion, we decided to allow them to finish it if possible."
"I can agree to that. After it's done?"
"We have no doubt we're going to be doing something to disarm it. We've been talking with Iggy Harris-Weasley since he's a potions master." She shifted some, looking at Enamel. "What is Chicago working on?"
"Well, most of us are working on how to make sure everything gets home to the right spot. I know that David has pointed out a flaw in something that happened. A dragon went to our world through the transporter when we couldn't move it out of the city by magic."
"Interesting," the ambassador noted, looking at him. "I don't know your type of demon."
"I'm a Martian, not a demon."
"Ah." He nodded. "Very interesting," he offered with a smile. "Have you met ones like me before?"
"I've treated Dawn after she had to protect her mate from a female one of you," he noted calmly. "She went protective to wear him out."
"It is an instinctive response and usually quite correct when some of us hunt," he agreed. "I congratulate her for lasting that long." He smiled gently. "I'm not out to hunt, you can relax."
"I'd rather not."
He inclined his head. "As you wish. Lady Lotus, how is it going?"
"It's been said it'll take about a month to cure. The holding point is Wolfram and Hart. Can your Court do anything about them?"
"They are ignoring their lords and Princes," he admitted quietly. "My Lord is very upset with them. It's said that if he could come out of his chambers, he would be doing some damage to their homes and structures."
"Not to mention their bodies," she agreed lightly. Enamel shuddered. "Lavelle had to deal with that once," she said quietly. "He's better now. It took nearly two years." She looked at the ambassador. "What can we tell you that you don't already know?"
"For one, what is Hogwarts like?"
She smiled. "Shiny and bigger than here. Crowded with students who don't want to believe but have to and are being forced to. The upper years were taken to London to see the creatures by a few of the professors and came home bragging with scales and things, and a few badly damaged among them. Iggy's wife saved most of them and got a bad cut on her arm, which her mate took care of."
"Who is this Iggy?"
"The Xander from there's son."
"Ah." He nodded and smiled. "He is wise?"
"He's a potions master and a healer candidate. His wife is also a potions master."
"Interesting." He leaned back, getting comfortable. "How is Arsene doing? I know her curiosity must be great."
"She's already bugged people to let her try their wands, their brooms, and their robes, plus she's spent a lot of time helping the Weasley twins with their pranks in their shop. She's had a lot of fun," she admitted with a grin.
"I wouldn't mind going over there to help for a bit," Enamel offered. "I had to listen to the books when I was incapacitated."
"Talk to the limping Xander. He's one of them."
"Sure. Thanks." He checked the screen and smiled. "Charley's asleep in the baths."
"Good. Mothers should be allowed to nap."
"Her son's on Mars with his daddy's family," he admitted. "He kept petting the dragons."
"I've done a bit of that too," she agreed fondly. "It's not often I'd get the chance since the Imperial Dragon is hiding again." She smiled at the ambassador. "I wouldn't suggest you going to see mom personally. The Xander who lives there is very against demons."
"I understand. Many of them are." He bowed to her. "I thank you. I'll report back to my Lord, and possibly see you tonight at dinner?"
"I'm interpreting and helping guard the female that Lavelle sent up as a favor since she was in early labor," she admitted. "If she wishes, we can attend."
"Very well, Lady Lotus. I thank you and so does my Lord. My blessings on your marriage to Homer Peacekeeper as well. My Lord said we'll be leaving you alone if at all possible." He left, heading back to his suite.
"Does everyone know?" she complained.
Enamel nodded. "Probably." He helped her up. "Those robes look really heavy."
"They are, it's winter stuff. After a certain point in the year, you switch to winter wear even if it's not cold." She shrugged. "You get used to it after a few hours." She walked him back inside and their guard escorted them back. She smiled and bowed properly to him at the doorway. "Thank you."
"You are welcome. Should I inquire about dinner?"
"Inquire before it's time," she told him. "With one of them pregnant, it's doubtful she'll want to come." He nodded, heading back to make that note so no one would forget. She walked him inside and shut the door. "We have guards so no one can say anything," she said quietly. "Some kitsune do not like humans. That's why I created a tree when I was twelve that ate tails." He smiled at her. "There are some very stubborn kitsune about cross-pollination of cultures." She bowed to the healer and smiled at Homer. "The Incubus Ambassador blessed our union and said that his boss didn't want to bother us if he could help it."
"Good! I'd hate to have to tell your mother and have her destroy them for me." He pulled her closer and sat her beside him, holding her hand again, making her blush. "I will go tonight to talk to your father."
"Sure." She smiled as Charley came out yawning, wrapped in a robe. "Feeling better?"
"Much," she agreed happily. "I haven't had a pain in a while." She looked her over. "You changed."
"I'm supposed to since I'm educated in the manners expected of me up here. The question was raised about dinner tonight with the Court. Did you want to attend? You can borrow some of my clothes."
"Usually I hear that from Dawn and it's about naughty clothes," she admitted. Lotus chuckled and Homer blushed. "Sorry, but Dawn's a teenager."
"Who's a worse tease than Xander," Enamel agreed dryly. He helped Charley sit down, checking her stomach. "You still feel all right. It's up to you whether or not we hit the main tables."
"I wouldn't mind."
Homer looked at Lotus. "How old is our Dawn?"
"Nearly forty-eight I think." She shrugged. "It's a good thing we slipped Uncle Zenny both types of deaging potion or she'd have gone on a rip and destroyed us all by now." He groaned and nodded. "Has anyone made any plans about that?" He shook his head. "We should."
"I'll note it to your mother later," he promised, smiling at her. "Shall I escort you to the suite so you can pick out something?"
"Please." She stood up and smiled. "We'll be right back." She looked Charley over. "Something of Mom's perhaps. I don't have anything maternity capable really." She walked out on Homer's arm, taking him down there but leaving the guard on the doorway in case. She came back a few minutes later with a red kimono and put it across the foot of the bed. "That should do and I've told my maid we're going to dinner tonight." She smiled at the napping woman on the couch. "I can move it so she can nap on the bed."
"If I move her, she'll wake up," Enamel offered from his seat. "Will you have to change?" She shook her head. "You're sure?"
"I shall," Homer admitted. "She's dressed formally enough at the moment." He bowed. "I'll return in an hour, Lotus."
"Of course, Homer. I'll be here waiting." He nodded and kissed her gently, then fled while blushing a bright, hot red. She sighed and sat down, looking at him. "He's very sweet."
"I noticed that. Can he protect you?"
"He's as good a samurai as my father is," she assured him. "The same as I and my brothers are." She smirked a bit. "I've beaten both him and daddy before." Enamel snickered. "Just so you know, Lavelle isn't my natural mother, like Melissa, but he basically raised all of us kids."
"As mine does my son," he agreed dryly. She snickered at that. "He's a horrible spoiler of the kids in the family."
"Good! Every kid deserves it." She looked at Charley as she moaned. "Another one?" He nodded. "Are they closer together? She really shouldn't go to dinner if she's going to deliver then. It'd be considered very odd and rude."
"No, she'll be fine. She'll deliver later tonight," he promised.
"Good. Then I've missed the royal dinners. The kitsune chefs are wonderful." She smiled as the door opened and the Lord came in, getting to her feet to bow. "Lord of the Kitsune."
"Don't do that, Lotus, we've never been that formal." He got out of the way, letting the child inside to squeal and hug her sister. "I brought the fun one."
"Hi, Sarah!" She hugged her tightly, sitting down with her. "How are you!"
"I'm good." She smiled at the new person and waved shyly, hiding her face in her sister's shoulder. "How's Melissa?"
"I'm sure she'll be back for diner or as soon as we fix this stuff," she promised, kissing her on the cheek. She looked her over. "You look good in that."
"Thank you. I stole it myself," she said proudly. "I'm a good kitsune."
"You are a very adorable near-fox," she promised, beaming at her. "This is Enamel and that's Charley, she's sleeping because the baby's being a bit fussy."
"They do that. Oooh! I saw Auntie Bix's baby!" she said happily, wiggling a bit. "She was so cute!"
"She is," Lotus agreed. "Let's go into the other room so Charley can nap, okay?" She nodded, dragging her into the healer's office to chat with her.
The Lord shrugged at the curious look. "Sarah is Melissa's sister but she had a heart condition. She's taking over Lavelle's spot as our future ambassador to the European Syndicates. All the kids were raised together."
"My Xander does the same with all the family and friends' kids," he admitted. "Even mine." The kitsune chuckled and nodded. "Thank you for hosting us."
"It's not a problem. We needed a report on what was going on anyway. Do you think she'll be fine for dinner?" He nodded. "Not due then?"
"Probably not until much later tonight. Right now she's got about two months left by my scanner."
"Excellent. Dinner is in two hours so I'll have the maid come back in an hour. Some of my people need to get over their isolation practices." He bowed and left, closing the door behind him.
"What's going on?" Charley mumbled.
"Lotus' little sister just showed up. They're squealing in the office and you've got about an hour before you've got to get up and get ready for dinner."
"Sure." She flipped onto her side, stroking her stomach. "She's calm again."
"She's napping too, Charley girl. Just relax and fall back asleep. I'm still here." She nodded and yawned, drifting off again. That was the thing he had always admired about pregnant women, their ability to nap through anything.
Vinnie's ears perked up when he heard the displaced air, coming out of the kitchen to find his wife and Enamel, along with two others who he didn't know and one really big guy, standing in the garage. He looked at his girl, his tail swishing behind him. "Oooh, sweetheart," he moaned, coming over to kiss her. "You look great in that," he promised, kissing her again. One hand strayed down to the bulge in her belly, not finding it. "Already?" he whined.
Lotus coughed and held out the child. "One small, tiny mouse. Very healthy and happily squiggling around in her robe." Vinnie grinned and stole the baby to hold, smiling at it. "We weren't sure of any birth rituals so we basically just bathed her and Charley. She delivered right after dinner." She walked Homer off. "We're going to find Mom, Melissa."
"Sure," she said, staring at the other mice. "Hi." She blushed a bit. "You're all very fuzzy."
"Watch out for the petting," Enamel said, picking Charley up and taking her up the stairs. "Come, Vincent. Bring the baby so we can do the oil bath."
"Yes, sir. Didn't she look great, bros?"
"Wonderful," Throttle agreed, nodding. "Take pictures of her in that!"
"Already done, both before and after," Enamel called. "It was in my bag." He came down to hand over the camera. "Oil?"
"Warming," he admitted. He pointed at the stove. "Special stuff Xander found in the archives."
"Sure." He went to check on it and brought it upstairs. It was warm enough. "Who's doing the blessing?"
"I usually do," Throttle admitted, heading up the stairs, putting the camera safely aside. He could get the pictures later. He heard Xander squeal and grinned. "Honey, get the pictures off Enamel's camera!" he called before he could burst in. "I'm doing the baby's oil bath."
"Sure!" He went to do that, coming back a few minutes later. "She was wearing a kimono?" He walked in and hugged Charley. "You look wonderful in that," he said, a bit of drool coming out.
"Mine!" Vinnie complained.
"Oh, no. Just like last time, Vincent," she assured him. "I'm much too sore to have you do more than cuddle." He pouted and she glared so he ducked his head and grinned. "We'll see."
"Sorry, but I agree," Enamel offered, coming over to check her again. "Yeah, you'll be fine in a few weeks. We did another month on the other side of the birth," he told Throttle. "I figured her blessing could wait since she's got no magic according to everyone up there."
Vinnie looked up. "Thank you, Goddess!" He heard Dawn laugh. "Go get my son!"
"He's already back. Melissa is presently petting him and Spike," she offered, opening the door to stick her head in. "Wow, Charley. That's one happenin' outfit." She blinked. "You look good as Vinnie's bike." She snorted, shaking her head. "You do," she offered with a grin. "What's up?"
"Oil bath," Throttle said, finishing it up. "There we go. All done," he soothed, wiping off the excess. "That'll make sure you're a smooth mouse, Magnet." She cooed and he grinned. "Yeah, you're adorable. We'll have one of you some year soon." He got her dressed and handed her back to the proud daddy. "There you go."
"Thanks, bro. Let my son come in to see his little sister."
"Hey, miniature mouse!" Dawn called. "Your sister's finally come!"
Vic squealed and ran up the stairs on all fours, then burst into his parent's room, staring at the little mouse. "Wow." He climbed up on the bed, standing up so he could see her. "You're not all little." He stroked her fur. "You kinda messy. You need bath," he said, trying to take her.
"All baby mice get a bath in oil when they're blessed, son. We can bathe her tonight," Vinnie promised, kissing him on the ear. "Do you like Magnet?" He beamed and nodded. "You're sure?"
"He'd better, she can't go back where she came from," Charley said sarcastically, shifting a bit. "Can I get undressed again?" Vinnie handed his son the baby, helping him sit down to hold her, then got his wife under the covers and undressed, in that order so no one got to see her naked but him. "Thanks."
"I 'tect her like I do dragon and kitties," Vic promised his momma, smiling at her. "Love you, momma." He slid off the bed, toddling away with the baby. "Spike!" He came running up the stairs. "Sister," he said proudly.
Spike took the baby before Vic could drop her, holding her correctly and sitting down with her since he wasn't so big himself. "Hello, love. You're a bit of fluff, aren'tcha?" She cooed at him and he grinned. "I know, I'm a smaller white blur, but the name's Spike, love, and we'll be protecting you for your da." She cooed again and he chuckled. "She's adorable, Vic, even better than Crankshaft was." Vic beamed and danced around. "Bathroom." Vic ran that way, just in case. He was a big boy and he would not have an accident in front of his new sister, she might laugh.
Vinnie came out to steal his daughter back. "Hey, Spike. How's your dad?"
"Drunk and asleep. It was the only way he'd nap and recover." He stood up to look at her. "She's a cute bit'a fluff, Vinnie. Good job." He punched him on the arm and went back to his rightful worship. After all, he was adorable as a white mouse and could use the petting by the pretty human girls. Especially since they knew another version of him. Maybe he could go see himself and freak himself out. He'd have to make them think it was their own idea. He heard a squeal and looked around, finding another girl standing there with one of those fox things. She pounced him to cuddle and pet, so it was all good for him. Still worship.
"Arsene Lupin the Fourth!" Lavelle called. "Let the baby go!"
"Not that young," Spike drawled, smirking at him.
Lavelle stared, then slowly slid to the ground. He knew exactly who he was.
"Wow," Lupin the Fourth said in awe. "No one's done that since Mom found out he was pregnant the first time." She smiled at the mouse. "You're adorable! What's your name?"
"Oooh, I know a vampire named that," she offered happily, bouncing a bit.
"I know, I'm him. This is my reward for surviving Buffy." She blinked, then passed out and he cackled. "I'm so good!" he praised, grinning at Throttle as he came down to pick him up. He was carried over and handed to the pretty Japanese girl for petting. "Thanks, mate. Didn't need cold toes or tail from the snow."
"Sure," Throttle agreed. "Lotus?" She looked at him and smiled. "Thought so. Um, Lavelle and someone he called Arsene Lupin the Fourth just passed out because of baby Spike there."
She looked at him, then gaped. "Bloody hell!"
Homer frowned. "Lotus! Such language!"
"He's *Spike*, Homer! He's the one who taught it to me!"
"Oh. Then I suppose it's all right then." He shrugged and patted the baby on the head. "Are you still a vampire?"
"No, this is my reward for surviving Buffy." Then he grinned sweetly. "Can't you tell?"
Lotus and Melissa both laughed. "We understand perfectly," they agreed in unison.
"You should take him to meet his namesake," Homer offered. He looked at Goemon. "May we speak?"
"We may in front of the children."
Homer coughed and blushed a bit. "Um." His blush got brighter and he glanced at Lotus, then at Goemon, who had one brow raised. "I wish your daughter."
"I see. She is not some war prize."
"She is definitely more than that," he said firmly. "Especially to me." He pulled his sword. "She is mine! I challenge you!"
Goemon snorted, then shook his head. Now he knew why his own father didn't have any daughters. Men got odd around the fathers. "You may have her since I know you'll treat her kindly and well. Watch out for her brothers."
"Hmm. I've already had this talk with Ishi in the middle of the night in my bedroom. He was most upset with me for besmirching her."
"He had a worse reaction when Bix was married," Lotus reminded him, blushing a bit. "Father, he's asked to marry me. Do you mind terribly?"
"No, daughter. He is worthy of you. I will accept him as I know he is aware that I will kill him most horribly should he ever upset you." She smiled at that. "I do mean that. The least bit upset and I will be there to avenge you."
She rolled her eyes. "Uncle Lupin, help!" she called. He and Jigen appeared, Jigen was already smoking. "Uncle Lupin, Homer's asked for my hand."
"He only wants that one part?" Jigen asked, looking at Homer. "It'd take a missile to kill him, Lotus."
"We've got a few of those," Throttle noted.
Lupin looked at him and froze. Then he whimpered. "Oh, Gods, you're real. Janus, why?" he moaned, holding his head. "Now I'll never see Xander outside of his costume."
Jigen patted him on the back. "It's fun having sex that way but I'm sure it'll be okay." He looked at Homer. "You want all of her, right? Even the smart mouth and all that?" He blushed and nodded. "Cool. Tell us when so we can buy presents."
Lupin looked around. "That one Xander's not here, right?"
"I have prevented our Xander from calling him," Goemon said firmly.
"Thank you!" Lupin walked over to hug him. "I love you, man! You're the best samurai I've ever met!" He looked at Homer. "You're second best, but close enough for me." He hugged him. "Xander has to okay it too,," he reminded him. He hugged Lotus, letting her curl up in his arms.
"He's the one who put us together," Lotus noted dryly. "He's also the one who reminded me I was thinking over his proposal. I don't think there's going to be a problem. Even though he's passed out because of baby Spike here." Spike growled because Melissa was scratching behind his ears.
Lupin looked, then blanched. "Oh, please, tell me that's not a baby vampire mouse?" he whimpered.
Jigen came over, nodding at Spike. "You good?"
"Sure, mate, but I'd love to see myself and the look on his face."
"Sure. We can do that," Jigen agreed. "Come on." He took Spike with them, letting Dawn know they could return now. He handed her Spike, making her squeal and hug him, and the baby mouse growl and nip her on the throat.
Then Spike looked over at the vampires and smirked a bit, making himself whimper and stare in horror. "I like the fur. It's kinda neat. I can do fur dye too. Plus I've got a whole planet of people who let me taunt and play with them, and no flaming loonies around to bother me. Right neat, huh?" Spike groaned and grabbed his chest.
Zenigata looked from the small mouse to the vampire having a heart attack. "You can't have those if it's not beating," he pointed out dryly. He went back to his reading. He ignored all the strange stuff Dawn brought into his life before he went insane. This was all a very long dream to him. Everyone knew that mice didn't talk and vampires were myths.
Stoker looked at his son as he came off the transporter, picking him up to sit him in his lap. He sniffed. "Who was holding you?"
"The vampire me," he said smugly. "He had a heart attack." He wiggled down and handed Exhaust a letter. "Here, from the many Xanders." He strolled out whistling, happy with the chaos he had created so far that day. Some God somewhere was getting a rush he was sure.
Little did he know he was right and GHS Xander's God of Mischief was vibrating hard from his antics earlier, shaking the chains holding him down hard enough to break them - at least until his uncle, aunt, and boyfriend got hold of him again. Another Goddess felt her area tweaked and finally woke up from her long slumber with a yawn. "Who woke me?" the Goddess of Chaos and Mischief called to her brethren. One sister brought her a cup of coffee and sat down to show her what had happened.
Stoker looked at Exhaust. "Do I need to know?"
"No, but I need to get some stuff off Wrench and send him with it," he admitted. "I'll be back later." They all nodded. Having Wrench off Mars meant the strange stuff would calm down even further. He was all for that!
Wrench came off the transporter the next morning with a yawn, handing the books over to the person meeting him. "Hey," he said, nodding a bit. He blinked at him. "Aren't you on a tv show?"
"Only in this world. In mine, I'm real."
"Okay then," he decided, taking the books back. "Xander?"
"Which one?" Wrench blinked a few times and he grinned a bit. "Mine's still in bed. Bad guy Xander is doing katas on the roof with his Goemon. Older, injured Xander is in the kitchen making real food since he was horrified that Rimfire wanted hotdogs for breakfast. The other one, the furry one like you, is still chained to his bed and whining pitifully at his mate to let him go."
"Sure," Wrench said, nodding a bit, heading to Xander's room. He tapped and walked in, leaning against the door once he had closed it. "What's going on?"
"A nexus switching," Xander said dryly. "Can you please let me go? I've really got to pee."
Wrench came over and undid him, then handed over the books. "You needed these."
"And you," Xander noted.
"No, you needed those. I can't deal with more than one you." He went back to Mars, shaking his head the whole way home. He couldn't deal with multiple Xanders. One was his limit. It got lethal after that in his book and he was trying so hard to be a good boy. This week. The Seal appeared as soon as he walked in. "I saw a guy who's on CSI and he said there's multiple Xanders." He took off his shirt as he trudged back to bed. "I'm going to wake up now."
"You poor baby," Willow cooed, going to help him back to sleep. He obviously needed it.
The Seal sighed. "All the other switches were less traumatic but I guess that's what happens when you have multiple Xanders involved and dragons." She went to put something on to cook for him. Willow would make sure he ate later.
Arsene landed in her inn room, smiling at the man sitting on the end of her bed. "I saw the *cutest* baby mouse!" she cooed, handing him the picture of Victor. "He's so adorable!"
Melissa and Lotus appeared and she handed over her picture to Percy too. "That's the other adorable ones," Melissa told him. "I'd give up Ray for one of them."
"You'd better not, that'd be a fight and a half," Arsene snorted as she sat down. She pulled out the plans and handed it over to him. "Here ya go, Percy."
He handed back the pictures of the giant mice, looking at them. "Demons?"
"Martians," the girls said in unison.
"And they have girls too so Ishi could easily find one," Lotus offered with a grin.
"I'd like to see his face when he sees one," he noted, looking at the notes. "This is a battle plan," he said blandly.
"No shit?" Arsene retorted with a smirk. "However did you guess, Minister Weasley?"
He glared at her. "No more jokes, child. I will have the twins hex you for me."
She smirked. "Hex their newest muse?"
"Indeed. They've done it to Xander, they can do it to you." He went back to reading. It was very precise and well-thought out. He looked at Melissa. "Did you twitch it?"
"A bit on the timing with Iggy's help. We were being too optimistic for brewing times before and he told us when the perfect point to stop it was. Then we'll have to wait for the worlds to slowly unstick. That should take about a week according to the magic people in Chicago. All the Xanders agreed on that."
"How many are there?"
"Four now," Melissa offered, pulling a chair closer to where he was sitting. "That's our plan, and Mom's got his already in place to start shifting the creatures back first. They're being hurt since it's winter in Chicago as well." He nodded at that, looking at her. "He did say that the cauldron would be given to the Ministry. That the potion was going to be going to the kitsune and being destroyed by Iggy up there and then the remains would be hidden by them in one of the other worlds. Probably a dragon one." He nodded at that, it was a sound tactic. "Iggy also told us why they don't have the last ingredient and why he's really in Chicago, which got all the Xander's there protecting him greatly. So he's going to learn how to ride a motorcycle this week. Throttle agreed he could since he wasn't going to be doing real magical stuff like the others were." Percy snickered at that. "He also said that we could try out a broom and he'd let the geeky, good guy Xander there try his while they were still there. So in a week and two days, we'll be able to start the unsticking process."
"Which will apparently end just short of one month," Percy finished.
"Lunar month to be exact," Lotus agreed from her position. "After which time, we'll be home and I've got to plan my wedding." She looked at the girls. "I'm not sure what you're wearing yet. I'll try not to make it orange and taffeta though." She grinned sweetly, making Arsene shudder. "Homer wants a dual wedding, with the Shinto one later in the day." They both whimpered. "It'll be fine. It'll be in Kyoto since his family's from right outside it." They both whimpered again. "Buck up, ladies. We just got sniffed by a dragon and traumatized by a Spike mouse. We can survive my wedding and wait on Arsene's to kill us all."
"I'm not getting married," she groused. "Never ever." She looked at Percy. "Don't you think I should be single and just play the field?"
"It's never been my way, I can't compare," he admitted dryly. "I was married shortly after graduating Hogwarts, and about four years after losing my first wife." They all hugged him. "Thank you, ladies. Get off?" They got off and smiled at him. "Arabelle would kindly kick your bums for that."
"It was sympathy, she wouldn't," Melissa told him. "It's not like we groped."
"Hey, I only felt you up a bit," Arsene offered with a wicked grin. "I'm just like that."
Lotus knocked her out, shaking her head. "Sometimes I wonder about her mental capacity. I really do."
"You and me both," Melissa noted dryly, nodding a bit. "Will that work for the Ministry?"
"I'll hand this in tonight and we'll go over it tomorrow. Expect a summons sometime." He got up. "Thank you, ladies. Your brother is downstairs in the pub." He apparated off.
The awake girls checked their clothes, then shrugged and headed down as well. They were dressed normally enough.
Ishi looked at his sister. "How were the kitsune?"
"Charming as always," she promised, sitting down between him and Ron. "Hi. We had to go up to give a status report and to help a woman from Chicago have a baby mouse."
"A what?" Ron asked.
Melissa looked at Lotus. "Pictures?" She summoned them and handed them to Ron, who just stared in horror. "They're Martians. They're real in their world, the same as we all are."
Ron put down the pictures and finished his beer. "I'm headed home for the night, kids. Behave and be good." He wandered off shaking his head. There had been three Xanders standing with one of them, including his. He was done for the night or else he'd pass out trying to think about that situation. Either that or he'd die from the stroke he'd be having.
Ray answered his phone and sighed. "Sure. I'll get him to do it. Thanks." He hung up. "Yo, Lavelle?" he called. That Xander came out of the bathroom drying his hair. "Can you maybe stop the crime wave goin' on for the next week or so?"
"Sure. Give me ten to find clothes and Goemon."
Vinnie looked at him. "You can do that?"
"Lupin and his crew are like Gods in the world of crime," Ray said bitterly. "It happens. He's done it before."
Xander nodded, heading down to his room. He found Goemon back in the corner and grunted at him. "Problems with the world of crime." He found his favorite suit, and moved to pull it on. "Let's go," he said as he put on his shoes. Goemon sighed but stood up. "Oh, whine. You're bored anyway," he taunted, smirking a bit. "Have you seen my hair tie?"
"No." He walked out, finding the furry Xander lounging in the hallway. "We'll be back shortly, after he shows off."
"Cool. Need directions?"
Xander came out smoothing back his hair. "No, I'm good. So far. I've been to Chicago before. As long as the Wayside is here, we'll be fine." Xander nodded, grinning at him. "Have you seen my hair tie?" It was handed over. "Thanks. Library?" That got a nod. "Damn."
"Why are you wearing something that thick?" Goemon complained. "It looks like a girl's hair accessory."
Dawn bounced down the hall and took his scrunchie from him, handing over one of her plain rubber bands. "Here, much more 'guy' so he'll quit complaining." She looked at him. "I'll have you eaten by a dragon if you don't leave the mean Xander alone." She hugged her Xander. "That David guy really knows his stuff. We're *way* ahead on the plans." She headed back to their room after a stop in the bathroom.
"Have less caffeine," Xander called after her. He shook his head. "I'll be up until about one if you're going to run late."
"It won't take that long," Xander said with a small smirk. "I'll even get him dinner out." He tugged on Goemon's sleeve, heading over to where the car was parked and taking off. He glanced at his friend. "You could go lounge in a hotel." He turned a corner, ignoring the red light they ran since there was no traffic.
"Lupin would skin me if you got eaten by a dragon."
"It doesn't seem like it's going to happen, Goemon."
"So? He would still complain and I would get into trouble." He looked around. "Hmm, hold up in progress. Looks like a standoff."
Xander parked and got out, heading over to the store. He nodded at the cops outside. "Allow me." He walked in whistling and the crook in there stopped, stared, and dropped his gun in shock. "They called me in for the strange crap going on. Do you really want to make me come deal with this stuff and make the dragons stay longer?" he asked plainly. The thief shook his head. "Good. Then next time, think about a mask of some kind, junior. And something other than a water pistol too." He picked it up and handed it off. "Did you at least not give her your name?"
"No, I know him," the clerk offered, looking confused. "Do I know you, sir?"
He grinned. "I'm Lavelle." He looked at the minor thief. "Come on, let's go. I'm assuming the Wayside is still popular?" That got a shudder and a nod. "Where else?"
"The lower class go to the Higher."
"Deal. I'll be at one of them later. Just leave, kid. If the cop gets you feel lucky and plea really hard for mental incompetence." He nodded and ran out, and the cop did get him. He looked at the clerk. "He's very sorry he's so dumb."
"It's fine," she offered with a small smile. "It happens around here."
"Hopefully not as often after tonight." He headed out, going back to his car. He found one of the Rays leaning against it. "I'm intervening on the local crime waves."
"How? Most of us don't know you."
Xander snorted. "My own Chicago is here and most of them know me. Word's gotten around by now. That junior league thug knew me." He looked at the Ray from furry Xander's world. "How's your mother? I know my Ray's mom is doing really nice. She's in Italy with the family."
"He moved them to Europe with him?"
"Eeeeh, kinda. He came over, they got lonely. They talked me into sending them over to visit him and Ma got pushy once she found a house she liked on the tour. So she's living in upper Italy at the moment."
"You're friendly with your Ray's Ma?"
"Yeah. Someone had to give her updates. It's not like Ray called to tell her he was fine every week while he was chasing me." He grinned. "I like your mother, Ray. She's a sweet lady who can kick my ass when she feels like it, but she does make really good banana bread." He grinned. "I'm off to see if I can slow down crime for a few days." He got into the car and started it, heading off. "Goemon, call around and find a bar called Higher."
"It's on Second Avenue somewhere. Jigen said so."
"Thank you." He found the Wayside and checked his hair, then got out and headed inside. The bouncers at the door glared but he just grinned. "I'm unarmed, presently. It's time we had a conference."
"Who're you?" he sneered.
"Lavelle." The guard looked clueless. So he grabbed him by the throat and hurt him, a lot. Then he walked over his body and headed inside, right for where the big guys were meeting. He nodded at the guards. "You need a new door guard. He was insolent." He tapped on the door.
"I said no one is to bother us!" someone yelled.
Xander walked in anyway. "I never considered myself a no one. Or at least I haven't for the past ten years or so." He shut the door and looked at them, noticing the stunned looks. "Who doesn't know me here?" A few raised their hands. "For those of you who don't know, I'm Lavelle. I'm one of the top assassins and thieves in my world. I'm Lupin the Third's second gunman and teacher of their kids. And yes, I know he's an anime here. To put it mildly, I scare Interpol." They shivered at that. "But I'm not here for work reasons. I'm here to help with the strange stuff. Unfortunately, the crimes going on are distracting me. Do you *think* we might give me a few week's peace so we can get the dragons home?" The local crime bosses all stared, then a few started to snicker. So he pulled the gun he got off the door guard and shot one of them in the shoulder, and then the other two laughing in a closer-to-fatal spot. He looked at the rest. "This is really cheesing me off, guys. I hate having to do this. It's bad enough I have to come back here and leave the kids doing London."
"Do you know what's going on?"
"Yeah, Wolfram and Hart. All this is their fault." They gaped and he smirked. "Yeah, I deal in that side of life, gentlemen." He nodded at the single lady in the room. "And Lady. Sorry, I didn't see you at first." She nodded back. "I'm not asking for much. The smart people have their people inside anyway since the dragons have eaten a few thieves. All I'm asking for is a quaint, quiet truce so I can do my research, send them home, then escape so you guys can go back to your life." He shot the woman when he saw her moving to draw a weapon, just in the arm. "Guys, it's not like I can't prove I am who I say I am. I've got two Interpol Inspectors dogging me every day. Goemon's outside." That got some swallows. "I'm Jigen's and Lupin's student and I spent a good deal of time learning from Goemon as well. By the way, whoever owned the door guard, he needs some stitches for his rudeness problem. I left him living." He grinned a goofy, safe grin. "Can we just leave me alone for a few weeks? Then you guys will be back in your world, we'll be back in ours, and all the dragons will be home too."
"Fine," one of them said. "You're going to go impose yourself on the lower class too?" Lavelle nodded. "What else do you do? Does Lupin run a syndicate?"
"Not for lack of trying on the Dark Syndicate's part," he admitted with that same grin. "They keep trying and he keeps having nightmares over having to run Europe. Right now, we're running the kids. We're also running our own jobs and I'm running my underground associate network." That got some swallows. "It's multi-national and very profitable for me. Just ask the Inspectors. They'll gladly gripe and complain about it. Now, I'm going to a place called Higher I'm told?" That got some fast nods. "Anywhere else I should visit?" They shook their heads. "Good. Any questions?"
"How much longer?"
"That long?" that one whined.
"Yeah, we've got to wait for them to do a certain something before we can break it. See, they're so dumb they did this and have a bit of London touching their local office too. They've messed up on a grand scale this time and not even Hell wants them." That got some shivers. "So, give us a few weeks to solve this while you guys do your yearly civic duties to look like good citizens. Just relax and we'll all be fine." He walked out, letting Goemon follow him. He smiled at the door guard. "I hate to say it, but straighten up before I let Lupin the Fourth come plague the city, kid. She's not a happy camper at the moment."
One of the guys outside coughed. "You might want to stop Limburger from doing something too," he offered quietly. "He's usually not in this circle but he's an evil bastard. We're used to the furry people coming for them but I guess they're busy with this?" Xander nodded. "Thank you."
"Welcome. And thank you for the suggestion too." He smiled and tipped him. "If the kids come, I'll make sure they leave you alone." He got into the car and tossed the gun back. "He's almost out of ammo." Goemon got in and they headed off.
Lavelle walked into the office in Limburger tower, looking around at the semi-tasteful furnishings. "Well, he's got a good decorator."
"Unfortunately his rotten core stinks up the pretty things," Goemon said with distaste. "How can you stand this?"
"Ain't nothin' compared to Hell," he noted dryly, focusing on the person standing there. "Oooh, a lackey. Go get your boss, moron."
"Who are you?" he wheezed. "I'm not a lackey, you simpleton. I'm ....."
Xander grabbed him by the cord running out of his head, pulling him closer. "I'm Lavelle. I'm a Prince of Hell. You're pissing me off and I can smell the stench of my fellows on you." He stared him down. "Now." He let him go and he backed away, hitting a button. Lavelle sighed and looked up. "Did I really need to do this today?" He pulled the guns he had taken out of the bag in the car, shooting the goons coming in. He glared at Goemon when he stayed there. "Ya know, you could help."
"I like watching you work. You dance nearly as well as that swishy you."
"Gee, thanks," he said dryly. "Their Ares was pretty cute and their Strife was droolworthy too. I wonder if he's hittin' that." He shot one last one and then put away the guns, looking at the mad scientist. "Now, your boss?"
The guy ran and Limburger came up the elevator a few minutes later. "You couldn't make an appointment?"
"I don't make appointments," Xander said dryly, staring him down. "Unfortunately, you've just made one, with death." He shot him, ripping his costume. Then he gagged. "Gods, that's even worse than before! Does it have a built-in stench modifier?" He shook it off and shot him again, making him scream in pain. "Limburger, remember this face?"
"You're... you're that new mouse!"
"No shit," he offered with a smirk. "I'm another of him actually. I'm Lavelle. I'm the him that turned into an assassin. I run my world through my network. You're a pitiful alien who's annoying me while I'm trying to stop this convergence from going on forever. Do you *think* you might leave me and my brethren here alone?" he said coldly.
"This world will be mine," he hissed, holding his wound.
"Fat chance," Xander said, rubbing a spot on his neck. A demon appeared beside him, already kneeling. Limburger and Karbunkle both screamed in fear. "Good, I see the me here let you meet my buddies." He looked at the demon. "I want you to keep this tower out of everything and incommunicado for as long as possible," he ordered. "He's aiding the people who are keeping the convergence going." The demon nodded without looking. "He's also annoying the fuck out of me. The me here is fighting him because he's the one stealing the land and sending it off." The demon looked at him, then at Limburger, then back at him. "Yes, he's an alien. I can smell the stench of Hell around him though." The demon nodded, standing up. "Use whatever you must, just leave the city alone, keep them here and harmless, and do it for as long as you can."
"Yes, Prince," he said respectfully. "May we have them as a prize?"
"I doubt the me here would care," he noted dryly. "His friends have higher ethics and might protest if they found out, but I don't care what methods you use." He stepped over a body. "Have fun, I'm working on sending the dragons home and splitting the realms."
"The children, they're at Hogwarts?"
"Hogwash! That's just a sniveling story for children," Limburger complained.
"Really? With this convergence, there's some of them here. Including the me from there." He sneered. "He's nearly as powerful as I am. He's also got low ethics on the point of enemy control." Limburger backed away. "Be a good boy and they won't hurt you...much. Oh, see if they've truly paid. From what I hear, him and his doctor are the reasons for a whole planet going infertile and unbalanced. They helped wipe out a lot of furry people with good morals." The demon smirked at that. "In a bad way. He's the one who wrecked Mars." The demon growled and nodded. They had used Mars in many rites before. Now they were out of that source. "Have fun. Goemon?" He walked out with him, heading down to the car. Once down there, he rolled down the windows. "Hopefully we're going to smell normally by the time we get home."
"I'm taking a shower anyway. Who knew aliens stunk so much."
"I think it's just them. Furry Xander smells a bit like chocolate and musk. Think Lupin would mind if I tried myself to see if it's much different?"
"I don't think Lupin would care, much, but his mate seems like the jealous and possessive type," he warned. "I heard them mentioning restraints last night."
"Hey, I'm a kinky guy," Xander said fondly, running another red light. A siren came on behind him and he sighed, shaking his head. He pulled over and got out, leaning against the side of the car. "Officer." He looked around, then back at the cop. "At least there's no dragons around here."
"No, that's why I can use the siren. Who are you?" he asked. "You look familiar."
"I'm Lavelle. The Xander from my world." Then he did a courtly bow. "I'm off solving some problems tonight so you guys get to be more bored. Tell me, are the gangs meeting anytime soon?"
"How should I know?"
"Good point." Xander looked around. "Did we evacuate the projects?" The cop nodded, backing up a step. "If you want to ticket me, go ahead, officer. I don't care. I don't hurt cops unless they pull a gun on me." The cop let out a nervous laugh. "Seriously. I'm a nice guy part of the time. Go ahead and write out the ticket." The cop nodded and wrote out the ticket, even taking his license with a shaking hand. Lavelle grinned. "See, I'm not so bad unless you're forcing me to be. Now, go be a good boy and call the garage if I have to talk to the gang kids. Okay?" He nodded quickly. "Either that or tell one of the Vecchios or Kowalskis, preferably mine." He got into the car and handed Goemon the ticket. "Pay that for me tomorrow while I'm researching." He sped off, heading for home.
The cop headed back to his station to make a report to his boss. He wouldn't believe this!
Greg Sanders, former coworker of Ballistic Xander and David, got out of his car at the barricade around Chicago, walking over to the agents. "I'm CSI Sanders. I was called in to help CSI Harris and Hodges." The guy gave him a pained look so he grinned. "I'm a geek, guys. It's necessary sometimes. You can check with Welsh at the twenty-seventh. He knows me." That got a nod and the agent led him to his boss, who had the authority to do that. "Hey," he said, shaking his hand. "CSI Sanders. I work with Harris and Hodges sometimes. They called me to liaison since I'm such a techie geek."
"Transporter problems." One of the nearby agents choked and he grinned at him. "They had one of the worlds with a working transporter system take one of the dragons and you can't move them any other way. I got called to help."
"Transporters work by resequencing the DNA," the agent noted. "It would probably take away any worldly markers that made distinguishing their home realm possible."
Greg nodded. "I think so too but that's why they sent for me. I'm a former DNA tech." The agent nodded. He looked at the guy in charge. "Can I go in? Do you have directions or should I stop in at the twenty-seventh?"
"Go ahead, CSI Sanders," he offered, smiling at him. "Everyone is at the Last Chance Garage. Do you know where that is?"
"Nope, I've only been to Chicago a few times. Harris did his internship in Vegas with us," he offered with a grin. "I can check with Welsh, I've got to hit there anyway."
"That's fine. Ask any Vecchio or Kowalski, they all know where it is."
"Sure. Thanks, man." He shook his hand and allowed the agents to escort him back to his car, going through the checkpoint. It was odd, the streets were deserted. There were no lights on in this part of the city. They had done a fantastic job evacuating the area. He got to the parts that still had people, and dragons, and headed to the station. Once there, he got out and went to pet his first dragon, a baby dragon bleeting on the doorstep. "Ooh, are they ignoring you?" he cooed, making him look up at him and give him a pitiful look. "I bet you're hungry." He opened the door and let the dragon inside.
"Outside!" someone yelled. "That thing is not allowed in here!"
"He's hungry. If you're going to make him freeze his tail off, at least feed the poor thing," he said, glaring at the cop. The cop noticed who he was and swallowed, running up the stairs. "Come on, baby. We'll let Ray's Ma feed you." He walked the creature up the stairs, stopping when he saw Frannie. "Do you have anything to feed this one? He's starved and cold and just a baby."
She cooed and 'aww'ed and got up to lead him into the kitchen. She came out a minute later. "He can eat Xander cooking," she said happily.
"Clean the fridge," Ray called. He looked at Greg. "Why are you here from your tv show?"
"I'm real," he offered with a grin. "CSI Harris trained with us." Ray shuddered. "I need to check with Welsh. I got sent to help and liaison."
"He's in his office. Well, one of them is. There's three of us after all."
"Sure." He walked in there after a quick knock. "CSI Sanders reporting for duty, sir," he said, snapping off a salute.
Welsh looked up, looking very tired. "Won't they fire you for coming out here so often?"
"Actually, Grissom and Brass want me to transfer out here permanently, Lieutenant. They're tired of the strange crap that apparently tracked Xander and decided it liked me. So I'm yours if you can arrange it with them." Welsh nodded once and pulled out a folder, handing it over. "Gee, thanks," he offered with a grin. "Where's Xan and David? David called to get some techie support for a transporter issue."
"Apparently the furry Xander has one."
"Ah." He rubbed his head. "You know where the old hotdog stand is?" He nodded, grinning. "About ten blocks past that, heading toward Dover. There's a place called the Last Chance Garage on the left. They're all there. You can get a hotel room and stay tonight if you want, or head out there and shack up with them."
"David might get mad if I stole his Xander," he said dryly, grinning at him. "I'll do the hotel room thing then call." Welsh nodded. "You're sure this is okay?"
"If you can help it be solved faster, we'd appreciate it. It's amazing, the bad guy Xander stopped most of the criminals earlier. We might actually catch up on our paperwork this month."
Greg giggled. "There's always more. Is Mort downstairs?"
"Yup. We've got one competent DNA tech right now, we'd welcome a second one and the hiring board likes Vegas people. I already cleared it for you, Greg. Welcome home."
"Thank you, sir." He snapped off a salute. "I'll do this at the hotel later." That got a nod and a shoo. "Later." He headed out, going down to the CSI lab. "Mort! You lucky man, you get me permanently. Grissom and Brass got tired of the vampires who like me."
Mort came out of the autopsy room, giving him a long look. "Are you still human?" Greg nodded, grinning at him. "They gave you up?"
"Xander called for tech support and Brass said it was too much with the dragons and everything. They sent me out here on transfer instead of out-right firing me. That way no dragons would migrate. They said they couldn't deal with it like Xander and I do."
"Then I'm pleased to have you, Gregory. Mortty?" A female came out of DNA. "This is Gregory, Mortty. He's David and Xander's helper from Vegas. He's going to be splitting with you. Did you want swing with him?" She beamed and hugged Greg, getting a hard back slap in return.
"I heard all about you from David," he praised, grinning at her. "Want late morning to early evening and I'll take early evening to late night?"
"Sure," she agreed, hugging him again. "That way we can split David and Xander." She grinned at Mort. "Did you get to see the dragons, Greg?"
"I did, and there was a poor little baby dragon starving to death outside so I let Frannie feed him," he said with a beam for his good deed of the day. "She said he can even eat Xander cooking."
"Wow. They really can eat anything." That got a giggle. "Where are you staying tonight?"
"Hotel. Xan and David called me for geek support. I'll check with them tomorrow." He looked at Mort. "Still three days in the field?"
"Two for right now, Gregory. We've got many field techs since we just hired. We'll gladly finish your training and let you have a few days in the field. You'll be keeping the others calm the rest of the time. Besides, you've got two in-school interns at the moment. How much longer will this last?"
"Xander said a full month, Mort," Mortty reminded him. "It's only been two weeks so far." She pinched Greg. "I'll see you soon, studly. I've got samples running and waiting on my greedy little fingers." She skipped back to her lab.
"I like her," Greg admitted with a grin. "I'll do the paperwork tonight, Mort. Welsh already gave me some."
"That's fine, Gregory. I'll expect you to start after this is done with since apparently crime has nearly stopped with the evacuation." He went back into his lab, looking at the interesting body of a person half-eaten by a dragon. "That is an interesting bite pattern," he told himself, probing it a bit. "I would have expected sharper teeth."
Xander crawled into bed next to his husband, stroking his stomach as he laid on his shoulder. David put an arm around him, letting him cuddle closer while he read. "Can we talk?" he asked quietly.
David looked at him, then put down his book, flipping onto his side to look at him. "What's wrong, Xander?"
"I, um, I want to talk about the magic stuff." He blinked a few times and looked away. "I can kinda do some of it."
"I figured you could." Xander looked at him. "The banishing stuff looked a lot like magic. There was a chant, some herbs, a candle. It looked like a spell to me." Xander nodded, swallowing a bit. "How strong are you?" Xander shrugged. "So what's the bad?"
"I talked with Lavelle. He's got some pretty strong magic and he doesn't really mince words or thoughts. He, um, said that magic can be as strong as love for any of us." He swallowed again. "It can also be a bit expensive."
"Dawn said that when she was up," he reminded him. "She said she couldn't practice the way she wanted because it was so expensive." Xander nodded. "What do you want to do? Do you want to study it for real? Because I can't take that."
"No!" He snuggled in closer. "I wouldn't mind studying the basics, the easy stuff. They do really hard stuff and that's time and energy consuming. I don't think I could handle that, but if something strange happens I don't like running to Cleveland and Willow for spell stuff, ya know?" David nodded, giving him the hug he needed. "I don't want to study much, David. Maybe enough for it to be a minor gift, like a minor in college sort of thing. They even sell some books on the Wicca stuff at the major bookstores. I'm not sure if they're any good or not, but I can start with some theory and stuff," he offered, sounding hopeful. "I really don't like running to Cleveland for stuff," he groaned at the silence. "I hate running to them after I walked away. I feel... I feel like a failure each time I have to go back there. I know I've got to go back for books sometimes but I can't handle having to run to them again this year. It's bad enough we had to get a slayer into the city. I should have been able to handle that."
David kissed him so he'd quit babbling. "I don't want you to become a slayer, Xander." Xander looked at him and nodded. "I know you don't want to do it. I'd rather we get one of the girls here to help full time. I'm almost willing to talk to the whiny blonde myself to beg her so you and Rennie don't have to go out hunting ever again." Xander snuggled into his chest, so he smiled and patted him on the back. "We'll talk about the magic stuff when we get home. I like Lavelle, almost, but I want you to talk to the other Xander," he said firmly. "He uses different magic and he knows something about Willow's forms too. He teaches magic and I want him to talk to you about the options and all that." Xander nodded, grinning at him. "I will set my foot down. I'm not going to let you turn into someone like Willow, or even that Rash guy who came in to lead the coven you work with sometimes, or any of the chaos people in town that you've had to associate with. If you become that much into magic, I'm going to kick you out." Xander nodded quickly at that. "I mean it. I don't want you to be sucked in so far that you get lost. I'm not married to a wizard or whatever you call male witches in our world. I won't put up with it and I will kick you out. Got me here?"
Xander nodded, grinning and kissing him. "Thank you. That's why I didn't want to study when I was first offered. I was scared of turning into Willow," he said quietly.
David nodded and gave him a squeeze. "I understand. I even understand why Lavelle warned you. That's why I want you to talk to the other Xanders. They've both practiced and everything. As long as you don't turn into the magic guy in Chicago."
"I don't want to," Xander assured him. "I don't like having to hunt either. If we can get a girl who isn't a snotty brat with a desire to kill I'd like it too," he said quietly. "I don't want you to have to beg. That's nearly as bad as me having to run back there. It's humiliating."
"We'll let Welsh or Ray do it then," he soothed. He agreed, it would be humiliating to beg that group for anything, but he and Stan would gladly do it if it meant their mates wouldn't have to hunt anymore. He'd have to talk to their Ray and Stan tomorrow. Xander snuggled in and he calmed him down so he could sleep. He'd have to get a bit pushy if Xander started to study magic, but Xander knew he'd be like that, that's why he had come to him he was sure. Nothing would ever take Xander from him. After all, how often did you find someone geekier than yourself who appreciated you, tried to kill you with their cooking, and loved you with every bit of their souls?
Greg strolled into the garage, smiling at the pretty woman in there. "Hi. I'm Greg. David called for some geek support?"
"Sure. David!" she yelled. He came jogging in. "You called for geek support?"
David hugged Greg. "You could have answered over the phone."
"Brass overheard me talking about it. He and Grissom transferred me out here."
"He what?" David demanded, pulling back to look at him. "They fired you for being our friend?"
"More for the strange stuff that keeps coming for me now since Xander left. They decided that they're lonely and consider me Xander enough." He grinned. "Welsh has already hired me. I'm splitting your shift with Mortty. She's doing earlier in the day and I'm getting the late afternoon and evening hours."
"Xander's going to throw a fit," he assured him. "Charley, how are you and the baby mouse feeling?"
"We're fine," she said, smiling at him. "Magnet's taking a long nap. It's nice."
"It is," David agreed, grinning at her. He grinned at Greg. "Be ready, there's a lot of furry people, including a furry Xander."
"Sure." He followed him next door, blinking at the Xander who met him. "Do I know you?"
"No, but the feeling of familiarity is from the you in my world did a DNA test on me that proved I took a lot of radiation," Lavelle told him. "It's okay though. We like you anyway."
"So you're which Xander?" Greg asked.
He smirked a bit. "Lavelle. Second gunman to Lupin the Third."
Greg blinked a few times. "That means you're a bad guy, right?"
"He's promised he's harmless while we're dealing with this," Vinnie said from the garage. "More helpers, David?"
"This is Greg. He's a DNA and field tech we work with. I called him for some geek support about the transporter being able to take the dragon when we can't move them any other way."
"One of the agents and I figured it was because the transporter basically unravels the DNA and it would remove or make neutral any world or realm marking in their innate nature," Greg told him.
"Way too technical for me," Vinnie decided, walking off.
Lavelle looked at him, considering it. "That could be the reason and it might help us transport them," he admitted, walking off. "Hey, me, a friend of goody goody Xander is here and he knows why the transporter could take the dragon when we can't magic 'em."
"Cool!" called back a slightly British accented voice. "Can we use it to magic 'em home?"
"Maybe," he said, disappearing up the stairs. "We're in the library, David."
"Sure. I'll let him help me with Dawn and Rimfire's stuff," he called, shrugging a bit. He looked at Greg. "I was hoping it was something like that. Would it come back when they landed or when we brought them back?"
"That depends on if the transporter allows for any DNA shifting." Throttle leaned out of a room, giving them a long look. Greg stared. "Wow. They weren't kidding. Furry people." He walked closer, stroking his arm. "Wow. That's really neat," he said with a bright grin. "I'm Greg. I work with David and Xander."
"That's cool. Enamel?" Enamel came down from the older part of the house. "He's got an explanation for why the transporter could take the dragon when we can't magic 'em."
"Wow," Greg said.
"If you pet me like those girls did, I'll pop you in the nose," Enamel warned. "I've been up all night with the baby."
"Sure," Greg agreed, grinning at him. "Want me to hold the baby instead?"
"He's thinly furred." He handed him over anyway. "Why did you get called?"
"We had to figure out why the dragon could go to Mars when no one could magic them away," David told him. "We can't remove them from the area by any way but the transporter."
Enamel nodded, considering it. "Sure. What's the current question?"
"We figured, an agent at the barricade and I were talking about it while I waited to be let through. Anyway, we figured out it was because the transporter unwraps the DNA code and probably either eliminates or neutralizes any natural world markings in the DNA."
Enamel leaned against the wall. "That's possible. I know that the transporters can reach across realms and there's a one percent shift that's allowed before they won't reform. We've used it in the past to treat some illnesses." Greg beamed and nodded eagerly at that, patting the baby on the back. "He doesn't have gas."
"I always pat babies. It keeps them from spitting up on me."
"Sure," Enamel agreed, accepting that. "That could be it. Come on." He headed to the garage and the computer, showing him how they found the realmal designation. Greg looked and pulled up something, pointing at the program. "Throttle, did Meg write this or is this native?" Enamel called.
"I have no idea," Throttle called back. "Let me call. They're in DC." He headed up to the office, calling on the computer since Meg or Oz would be at the office at the moment. "Did you write the program for the transporter or did we get it from the stinkfish?"
"Oz wrote it," Meg said with a grin. "Why? And Micah wants an updated report from Dawn. He said she's late. He's holding up a sign to beat it out of her." She turned her head. "I'm talking to Throttle and I told him," she called. "Calm down! There's four Xanders, they're doing good to be up by now!" She grinned at him again, letting the baby peek over at him. "Here's baby Ted. Isn't he cute!" she cooed.
"Very cute. Nearly as cute as Magnet and Punch." She squealed and bounced, making the baby fuss. "Magnet was born among the kitsune thanks to Lavelle. Punch was born on Mars."
"Kitsune are real?" she asked, perking up a bit more. "Really?"
"At least in Lavelle's world," he admitted, shrugging a bit. "I have no idea about here. Everyone so far has asked if we're demons except for that new Greg guy that David needed for geek help. They said something about DNA and realm codes and the transporter taking it out and that's why we could move the dragon to Mars but we can't move the rest out of Chicago?"
Meg frowned, swinging her chair back and forth. "Maybe," she said finally. "Oz wrote it. I can have him call." Throttle nodded. "Sure. Either that or I'll make him pop over. Is there any other news? Or gossip? I haven't had any good gossip from Xander or Dawnie recently."
Throttle smirked a bit. "Spike came down to welcome Magnet home. The girls from Lavelle's world not only petted him to purring, they took him to talk to the vampire him in their world. He said that vampire him had a heart attack." She burst out in giggles. "Send Oz so he can be a geek with David and his friend Greg."
"Sure," she agreed, beaming at him. "Micah's holding up another sign. He said he wants a full, non-headache producing report. If she can't, send it to Lorne and Max instead." She wiggled her fingers. "He'll see you soon. Send him the report." She hung up and cooed at her son. "That was Uncle Throttle. Wasn't he cute!"
Throttle got up and headed downstairs. "Oz wrote it," he told Enamel. "He's coming soon. Meg just cooed at Baby Ted and wanted Dawn to send a report. To Micah if it won't cause a headache, to Max or Lorne if it will." He went on, going up to the kitchen. "I'm making hotdogs. Want some, Enamel?"
"Do you know what's in those?" David called.
"I don't care!"
"Give me a few, bro," Modo called as he came out of the transporter, nodding politely at the people standing there. "Hi. Who're you?"
Greg smiled. "I'm Greg, I work with David and his Xander." He shook the free hands. "I'm here as geek support."
"Oh, okay. Where are my bros?"
"Throttle headed for the kitchen. Vinnie was at the garage the last I knew," David told him.
"Vinnie's out on the rope course," Enamel told him, opening the nearest door. "Modo's back!" he yelled. Then he closed the door and locked it, grinning at Modo. "It'll be funny when he runs into it." He went back to looking. Then he glanced at the baby, taking her to look over. "You look healthy and huge, Punch. Good job, Modo. Where's Staff?"
"Momma's sending her in a few hours so she can rest without the baby wakin' her," he admitted, taking his daughter back. "Thanks, Enamel." Something hard thumped into the door. Then again. Then a third time. Modo snickered. "Vinnie, try the knob."
"I would but that's a dragon!" He opened the door by shooting the handle out and walking inside. The dragon came over to sniff the baby and Greg, then snuffled and let out a pitiful noise. "No. No Vic. He's still in bed." The dragon pouted but wandered back outside. "Oooh, baby!" he cooed, taking her to hold. "Hi, Punch. You and Magnet are going to be the best of bros," he cooed, rubbing noses with her. Punch grabbed some fur and he laughed, letting Modo take her back and get him free. "Thanks, bro. She's adorable!" He jogged out and came back with Magnet, showing her off. "Charley girl went early so Lavelle took her to the kitsune and they aged her a bit so she'd be fine, but she's a great little girl. She naps!"
Modo grinned and tickled the baby's belly, getting swatted with a tail and a coo in return. "You are cute. You look like your daddy, little Magnet. Come on, let's put you down with Punch so you two can talk in baby talk." He led the way upstairs. He needed a snack and Punch needed changed by the wet spot on his arm.
Greg grinned. "I love happy babies. They're so cute when they don't have colic."
Enamel smirked. "We're not prone to that." He took his son back, patting him gently. "Yeah, you can go wiggle with the girls later," he promised when his son sucked on his shoulder. "Just know that you're not going to be allowed to date them. Their daddies would whip my tail."
Greg giggled, grinning at the guy coming through. "Hey. I'm Greg. I'm geek support."
"Oz," he said, shaking his hand. "Problems with the program?"
"We couldn't move a dragon by magic but we did by transporter."
Oz looked at him. Then he looked at Enamel, who pointed outside. Oz looked then closed the door. "Okay, dragons." He nodded a few times. "I've seen stranger," he said finally. "Demons are stranger than dragons." He came over to help, getting into the programming.
Arsene Lupin the Fourth looked over as the door to their suite opened, nodding the guy inside. "Hey, Mr. Malfoy. What's up?" She finished her paragraph and put the book aside. "We've still got two days."
"I know." He sat down across from her. "I was sent to ask. You have no desire to rob Ignatius, correct?"
She grinned and patted him on the hand. "Iggy is safe from us. Yeah, it'd be a great thing to have a philosopher's stone. Magic works differently in our realm though. It might not work in our world and could shatter on the way home. Melissa wants a copy of his notes, but then I wouldn't see her for months on end." Draco cracked a smile at that. "So no, that's not even a possible target. Besides, Lotus respects Snape since one taught her when she was younger. Iggy is a lot like Snape." She grinned. "Why the questions?"
"Iggy saw Melissa and Lotus staring at him," he admitted gently.
"Ah." She nodded. "That's because they want to pounce the little guy and make him beg prettily as they fuck his brains out. He's a lot like them, that smartness with the smart ass tendencies." Draco just stared, mouth slightly open. She giggled and leaned over, kissing him on the cheek. "I think you're pretty neat for a formerly bad guy. You're safe from us too, Mr. Malfoy. Though I wouldn't mind seeing if wizards really do wear magical underwear. Tell me, do yours change color, roar, or slither?"
He blushed for the first time since he was a third year. "No, I can't say as I'm partial to the magical underwear," he admitted quietly, standing up. "I'll tell Ignatius he's safe from you girls and why he's safe. Though I do believe that would be incest in Melissa's case and his wife might protest quite a lot."
"That's why they won't. We don't break up happy couples." She grinned at him. "Are you sure they don't slither?"
"No more than silk usually does," he said, fleeing before his blush got any brighter. He ran into Madam Rosemerta and coughed, trying to clear it. "Ignatius sent me with a question," he noted, hurrying off.
She watched his back, then giggled, heading for the kitchen. She'd never seen a guy blush like that, especially not one like Draco Malfoy. That girl really was special.
Greg walked into the bedroom David and Xander were sharing, handing over the sodas he had pilfered from the kitchen. He got onto the bed on his stomach, looking at the board in front of them. They, and Lavelle, were about to embark on the geekiest of geeky treats, TV Trivial Pursuit. "I want blue," he said when pieces were handed out. Xander grinned and nodded, handing that one over. Greg liked blue, he looked good in blue and usually chose blue pieces when he could. He looked at the categories, then grinned and rolled for his turn.
Little did he realize that they were going against the Geek Master, Lavelle. He who usually had *way* too much time on his hands and free access to a satellite system that most people would have to pay six or seven hundred dollars a month to watch. Lavelle took his turn, smiling at the card David pulled out.
"Where is the show _Newhart_ taped?" David asked.
"New Hampshire. It's commonly thought of as being done on site in Vermont but there was a huge stink about them taping it in New Hampshire instead." True geeks gave more information than necessary. It was in the rules somewhere.
Xander and Greg looked at him, then at David. "Dave, sweetie, I think you may have met an equal," Xander said gently, patting him on the hand and kissing him on the cheek. He grinned when David glared at him. "I still love your geekiness. You're my King Geek."
"I thought I was King Geek, he was Godly Geek," Greg joked.
"Sure," Xander agreed, grinning at his buddy. Then at his lover. "Can we give him the downstairs bedroom?"
"Fine," David agreed, sounding patient. It's not like Greg wouldn't be at their house most of the time anyway. He looked at Lavelle. "Let's see how good you really are."
Lavelle beamed. "I've got seven thousand, four hundred, thirty-two DVDs of tv shows, anime, and hentai." David gaped so he beamed. "Plus, we leach off one of the pro, feeder satellites that hold *all* the channels. The island gets about eight hundred stations plus free pay per view on another forty stations. I get to watch the naked news anchors in Europe and all the soccer games I want, plus HBO in Japanese, Korean, and Spanish." David whimpered. "Besides, mine's a labor-light job. I get bored easily, as I'm sure you've found out."
David patted his Xander's back. "I have a cure for his boredom."
"I sometimes do but then again Lupin's more into girls than me sometimes." He shrugged. "I make do. That's why we have an island with sixty prostitutes as a retirement village." Greg just stared, a bit of drool flowing out of the corner of his mouth. He finally shook himself free and slurped it back in, wiping his mouth. "Yes, they do have the right of refusal too," he said calmly. "That way Lupin and Jigen can play alllllll they want and I'm sure they'll be disease free. Plus I don't have to worry about the girls getting knocked up, except for Melissa, who keeps pouncing Ray."
Xander giggled. "I'm sure he's flustered and trying to act cool and macho about it."
"I can't see our Ray taking up with a girl her age," David said, looking at Xander, giving him a little nudge. "Maybe we can let him date some nice young women. That way he'd be as tired as Stan usually is and he couldn't complain about him."
"Ray would always find something to complain about," he promised, stealing a kiss. His head popped up and he sniffed. "Vampires? Here?"
Lavelle got up and opened the door, staring at the vampire him. "I see you switched worlds again." That got a growl and a pale hand came out grab the vampire Xander by the arm and lead him off. He leaned out, looking at the well-dressed blood sucker. "If you're looking for furry Xander, he's in the mineral pool," he offered with a grin. "Who're you?"
Boris, Xander's vampire boss at the construction site, looked at him. "Who're you? Besides being a Xander."
"I'm a Lavelle." Boris moaned. "Furry Xander's in the mineral pool, I've got good boy Xander in here with me, and the other Xander is watching the stars with his son on the roof."
"Thank you, Xander." He headed for the mineral pools. He stopped to look at the dragging vampire, looking worried. "That means you're the fifth Xander. Isn't that a sign of an apocalypse?"
"No," furry Xander called. "That's ten Xanders singing country music through flugelhorns."
"Wouldn't that be *playing* nasty, ear splitting, pain inducing, blood spewing from the ear music?" Vinnie asked from the mineral pool room.
"That depends on the song," Xander said with a wicked sounding smirk to his voice.
"Boys, trying to cuddle and talk Xander into group sex here; can we not talk about nasty music?" Throttle pleaded. "Boris, we don't need any more Xanders unless that one can do magic, herd dragons, or help research."
Boris shook his head. "Fine. I was bringing him for a visit to see what was going on and to see if Xander had anything new for me."
Xander giggled. "I'll bring it over tonight, boss."
"Fine, Xander. Have fun with the group sex. Don't share details of the multiple Xander thing, please." The vampire Xander whimpered and nodded, clinging to his chest, so he walked his poor pet back out to the car. "Fred, home. There's four other Xanders in there and it was too much for my poor pet."
"Oooooh, four Xanders, do you think they could spank me together?" Fred the alien asked with a laugh. "I'd like that."
"Fred, home, I didn't need that image," the vampire Xander complained. "Or else I won't let Willow play with you."
"Yes, sir." He put the car in gear and headed for the house as fast as he could. He liked the Willow vampire, she was fun! She tortured very well.
"If you guys need any help with the group sex thing, just yell my way," Lavelle said, grinning at the others. "I've seen and done most everything already."
"No thanks," Throttle called. "We're good with just us. It's a Martian thing to do twins."
"Hmm, twins are nice," Lavelle agreed. "I'm gonna go back to being King Geek then," he said happily, going back to his fun and games with the other geeks. "I need more nights like this in my life. Lupin doesn't like to watch me be a geek."
"Maybe you should retire and kick him out," Greg offered.
"I tried that, he looked so pitiful and kept begging. Then my ex left me for someone who could enhance his career and I ended up taking the pitiful ones back." He shrugged. "I guess I'm happy but I'd like more attention."
"Chains?" David suggested, taking his turn. "Oooh, Mr. Wizard!"
"No fair," Greg complained. "I should get that one first." He did pull out the card and read it. It was only fair since David had landed there first. Even if his boy was teasing his thigh to distract him, he still got it right.
"You guys are *so* far beyond geek," Dawn said from the doorway. "So I guess you guys are helping Rimfire and I tomorrow?"
"Sure," David agreed, smiling at her. "Did you meet Greg?"
"In front of the fridge," she said with a wink. "I'm off to tease my man into howling. Ignore us if we get loud." She walked off, her short skirt swishing.
"That girl doesn't need a tail to wave her interest," Lavelle said, watching her walk away in a mirror.
"Behave, she's married," David complained. "Besides, she's only eighteen." He looked at his Xander. "If that ever comes out of your mouth, I'm strapping you down, putting in the adjustable vibrator, and locking it in place for *weeks*."
Xander kissed him. "Sure. If that's how you want to cure the horniness, go right ahead. You know I prefer you, a long hot bath with bubbles, a nice backrub, and then the pounding of my life."
"That's it, no more smutty romances for you," Greg declared.
"Just think, the other Xanders are more normal about sports and non-girl things," David joked. "They've never heard our Xander go off on sports before."
"What about sports?" Lavelle asked.
David shook his head and Greg shivered. "Don't ask," they said in unison.
The time came for the theft and the girls were ready. They had already cased the offices both physically and magically with Percy's people's help. They were in London and ready to go in. Ishi was moving into position. Lotus was already inside as a janitor. Arsene and Melissa were out by the car, waiting for the door to open. Lotus came out to dump a bag of trash and they headed in after she had gotten out of the way. The girls headed up the stairs, going to their secondary target first. Iggy said they needed to get that too. Melissa loaded the tranq darts into her gun and screwed on the silencer as they walked, hitting a few guards on the way. It was mixed demon strength but it wouldn't harm any actual humans, which was what Percy had demanded. They were going to go in and get out with the things. Melissa darted a few more people and they headed into the secondary target's hiding spot. Arsene pulled out her headphones, getting the safe's combination open. She handed off the potion and looked at the other contents. Melissa tapped her and she sighed, leaving them there. They could come back sometime. She shut the door and an alarm started, making Melissa sigh. "So?" Arsene demanded.
Melissa nodded. "We're going." She tapped a coded message to Ishi's mic, making him start a real diversion for them. They slipped through the back doors, going through the 'servant's' hallways to the other space. Arsene tried the door and had to get down to pick the lock, wincing at the magical current. "Let me," she said, handing off the bottle. She put a hand over it and chanted and the door opened, letting them into the room with the wizards waiting on them. She started to shoot.
Arsene put the bottle inside her shirt and pulled her own gun instinctively as Melissa's gun came up. She targeted the ones on her side, taking them out. A few started to get up so she changed clips, loading a clip of silver hollow-tip bullets with holy water inside. That got most of them, all but one. "Lotus!" she called. Lotus came in and took on the remaining demon, making it very sorry as it was sliced into little pieces of bait. "Potion," she ordered. "Clear the pathway to the portal."
Melissa ran for the potion, wincing at the heaviness of it. "It's really fucking heavy. They fucked it up." She carried it with Lotus' help, letting Ishi come up to finish the demons in their way off. Ishi charged in and they ducked, letting him go over their heads to take out the people following them. "Get the gateway," she ordered. Ishi finished those off and headed for the gateway, clearing it of the few demons in front of it. One of them managed to freeze him but Lotus countered it and got him with a well-aimed bolt of magic. Arsene grabbed Ishi and drug him across the portal, getting it all across. The portal snapped and Ishi woke up, taking out the people rushing for them.
On that side, Malfoy and Iggy were both there, waiting. They had taken out most of the counter-forces. As soon as the kids took out the rest, Malfoy walked forward. "Give me the cauldron."
"Fat chance, dearie," Melissa said tiredly. "Iggy? Kitsune! Pickup!" The Kitsune Lord, the younger version, appeared and took Iggy and the potion. She rubbed her shoulder. "That was so heavy." She looked at Arsene, pointing at the bottle. She sighed and handed it to Malfoy. "Thank you." She drug them off, heading for the outside. Lotus had to take out a few people, but that was fine. The sticking point was gone. The worlds could start to unstick now. Outside, two very familiar inspectors were waiting.
"Oh, what now?" Arsene demanded. "We're tired, that potion was heavy, and there were way too many stinky people for us to deal with you," she announced. "Get out of the way unless you're getting us back to Scotland."
Ray Vecchio looked at the kids then shook his head. "Fat chance, kids. You're under arrest."
Melissa rolled her eyes.
Melissa pulled up her gun and shot them, knocking them out for the next week and a half. "Pity, but nope. Guess I'm not getting sex this week." She walked off, stopping to grab Ray and his keys. "Lotus, you want Uncle Stan?"
"Sure," she agreed, waving at them. "Have fun. Heading home?"
"Ireland and the safehouse there." She got Ray into the car with Arsene's help then took off with Arsene. She could be dropped off somewhere. She was even nice enough to take her to the garage before heading out of town with her. "Have fun," she called, waving as she sped off.
Arsene snorted and walked over to the lair, picking the door's locks and going inside. She shut and locked it behind her, heading down the hall to find her father and Uncle. Modo came down a ramp and caught her, making her grin. "Hey. I'm Lupin the Fourth. Which one has Lavelle? We just got the potion and handed it off to Iggy."
Modo frowned. "Huh?"
She patted him on the arm. "It's okay. I do that to many people. Go back to bed, man. It's all good now. It's mostly solved and it'll start unsticking soon." He nodded and headed back upstairs. She grinned and went to find her parents, finding David and Xander's room first. She blushed and backed out, leaving them cuddled. He was a really cute, younger, Xander. She went into the next one, hearing the unique strains of Uncle Goemon's snoring, and pounced. She grinned at the surly assassin underneath her. "Done."
"Cool. Are you sure?"
"No, but that's where the potion was supposed to be. The portal snapped. We left Lotus and Ishi there just in case Iggy comes back and says it's not so. Draco has the secondary potion, Iggy went with the kitsune to break the first one." She grinned at him. "Melissa darted Uncles Stan and Ray and took off with Uncle Ray for Ireland."
"Cool. Get off me, daughter." She got off him, cuddling up to his side. "We'll have to scry to check it. Can you still reach Lotus?" She handed over her earpiece, watching him wipe it off before inserting it. "Lotus? Was it the right one?"
"The secondary potion was the actual Godmaking one according to Draco. The first one was something else they were working on and it was destroyed also. The real secondary potion is in the Liverpool office and we sent Bastian that already. He and Percy moved in to get it since it was a wizarding office. I haven't gotten a report yet from him. Homer told me that much so far." She coughed. "Ishi, any updates by phone?"
"Yeah, Homer said they've got it, Iggy's got it and is destroying all three. The heavy-ass one was to determine their area. They wanted to be over metal?"
"That would mean they could determine whose building was sound and which one would collapse, allowing them access to vaults and things," Lavelle told him. "Good job, kids. Head off. Make sure Stan's fine on the way."
"He's already been sent to the cops," Lotus admitted. "It's all good on our end according to Malfoy and Iggy. We're doing the flying thing. Laters." She hung up.
Lavelle smiled and let himself drift off with that happy news. It was nearly done. Now came his part.
Gryphon Xander looked at the dragons gathered around the warm spot he and Lavelle had created, and he, Lavelle, and Dawn joined hands, working on sending them out of their native areas. As long as they got past the borders of Chicago in their own worlds, they could come back in a few days. The trick was moving past the borders and David's theories with Greg had helped them prepare for this. The dragons slowly faded out, and didn't come back, and no one felt the snap of them dying. They all relaxed.
"Twenty down, close to three hundred to go," Dawn said sarcastically, shaking out her hands. "Can't we just wait?"
"There's every chance their barrier could snap with the fusion of ours," Xander said gently. "Doing that would mean they stay here." She sighed and nodded. The pollution and heavier magic here would mean they'd have to stay. "Where was the next planned spot?"
"Down by the wizarding area," Lavelle reminded him. "That way we could get some help." That got a snort and a nod from the other Xander, and Dawn drove them down there. Lavelle was still really tired. "I need a vacation," he decided. "Away from everyone."
"Your empire will last without you?" Dawn asked.
"Yeah, for a few days. Besides, I've got it on laptop, I can always switch back to it and get updates that way. Ishi and Melissa can do the other stuff for a few days." He yawned and stretched. "I hate sharing a room with Goemon. He snores."
Xander chuckled. "So does George. It took me *years* to get used to it. Then again, I sleep sedated and it took him a while to get used to the nightmares."
"There are days when I wish I had a marriage like yours," Lavelle admitted quietly, "but then again I'm a practical man anymore. I'm just happy when Lupin and Jigen sleep with me most of the time." He shrugged at Dawn's look over at him. "That's why I have a whole island full of prostitutes waiting on me at home."
"I still can't see myself with anyone who'd cheat on me," Dawn told him. "That's disrespectful."
"In Lupin's case, it's genetic. There hasn't been a Lupin yet who could focus on just *one* woman or man. Well, except for the nun." He stretched. "Turn left." She did so. "Lots and lots of magic down here."
"Yup, the candle and herb shop I use is on the corner," she told them. She parked in front of it, following Xander to a small tavern. She wrinkled her nose. "This place smells funny."
"Your sister said the same thing about the Leaky Cauldron," Xander admitted. Everyone stared at them. "We need some help sending the dragons home. We figured it out." No one moved. "It's helping us or they're staying." That got some groans and some people joined them, walking outside. Dawn created another warm spot, drawing the dragons in this section of town closer. Iggy, Snape, and Malfoy joined them and they all got copies of the spell. Lavelle and Dawn did theirs together and the rest pulled their wands to work the magic with them. More dragons disappeared. Xander was pulled aside by a few once they were done, being told exactly what had happened and who to contact in case they missed any. That news got put onto the bulletin board inside and they went back to their drinking. And the group moved onto another spot.
The Xanders all went back to the twenty-seventh, each dragging their people with them. They could feel the unraveling going on and everything was okay so far. They shook hands, hugged, promised to write if they could, or share a drink the next time they were at the bar together. Lavelle got a few last pictures of mouse Xander and the rest for his costumes. Goemon nodded politely at Modo, they had found a shared respect for each other, even though they were against each other on the good/bad guy scale. Gryphon Xander smiled and waved one last time as their world disengaged. That group teleported home, with Snape in tow, and landed in Hogsmeade.
Lavelle and his kids were separated off and they appeared in their own version of Chicago, with the cops coming outside to see what was going on. "It's fixed," he called. "You can tell Welsh to call Zenigata to make sure, but it's fixed!" He waved and they ran off before anyone thought to try to catch them.
Ballistic Xander, David, and Greg got last hugs then walked inside, splitting off as they walked in the door. Xander turned to make sure it was their door, which he had shot just a month ago, and found it was patched. He grinned and headed up to bug people he liked a lot. David and Greg shared a look then walked up after him, chatting about which room Greg could have at the house.
Mouse Xander looked at Modo once they were alone. "I'll miss the other mes."
"So will I, but it'll be so much more calm without them," he pointed out gently. He clapped Xander on the back. "Come on, let's head home. We can pick up lunch on the way and lounge around this afternoon." They both looked at Limburger tower, noticing it was still really quiet. "What do you think Lavelle did to them?"
"Threatened 'em. Maybe even sicced a demon on them," he said, shrugging a bit. He walked back to his bike, grinning at the guys coming outside. "Yeah, it's fixed," he called, waving back at them. "Tell Ray he can come get a final report if he wants!" He got onto his bike and they headed to the tower, going to look at it. Xander looked at Modo, who just grinned. They pulled up their missile systems and bombed the place, bringing it down. Just like normal. After all, a menace to their Chicago always ended with the tower coming down. "Chef Andy's?" Xander suggested as they rode off.
"Sure, I could use a good hotdog," Modo agreed with a grin. "Do you think Punch is old enough to eat his sauce?"
"Nope, big fella, not yet," Xander said, shaking his head. "Give her a few more months. Right now, she's enjoying the hell out of momma."
Modo blushed. "Me too." He sped up at the laughter, blushing even harder. Yeah, things were back to normal again.
Lavelle looked at his men as he got out of the jeep, running over to give them a hug. "I'm back! I see nothing fell in?"
"We got Spider to help us," Jigen admitted, leading his man inside. "It went okay?"
"Everything went fine. The kids are going to research Wolfram and Hart to see what else they have. Lupin found a cursed ruby she liked in the safe, but Melissa wouldn't let her take it." He let them lead him up to the bedroom, and even let Lupin pounce him first. He needed the cuddles. Seeing the other Xanders had been a reminder of what he had been and could have been and it made him ache, but he loved what he had and Lupin and Jigen reminded him of that very well all night long.
Ray Vecchio walked into the bookstore in Cleveland, shutting the door behind him and turning the sign. "We gotta talk," he told Giles, walking down there, taking off his coat and sunglasses. Giles gave him an interested look. "The magic stuff wore out our Xander. David's worried about him having to hunt in this condition. The girl you sent went psycho on us," he said bluntly. "So I'm here to make sure our next one is better."
"Next one?" he asked tolerantly, even grinning a bit.
Ray grabbed him by the collar and pulled him closer. "Your real girl in Chicago is in a mental ward for killing her aunt. Your temp girl just went off the deep end and federal agents had ta shoot her," he said with icy calm. "That leaves us with one very tired ballistics tech and a Mountie. They're great, but we've still got bigger and badder. You're hogging the girls here and it's not fair to the rest of the world. See, I had a chat with Lavelle about what their world went through since their Buffy kept all the girls in Cleveland. How half the time he traveled to stop the vampires and other demons menacing real people during things like Carnivale and Mardi Gras. How they took out a few vampire armies in Europe that had gathered because there was no slayer due to selfishness. I know you don't want to continue that, correct?" he asked smoothly. "That's why I'm here to negotiate which girl comes. We need someone stable who won't upset David or Turnbull, and who can work with Xander and the sorcerers or whatever occasionally. See, it's not real fair that Xander is our slayer. He's good, but he's still got a full time, demanding job." He let him go. "Therefore, let's talk. Capice?"
Giles rubbed his throat. "I hadn't realized things were getting that bad off the hellmouth."
"Just because it gathers here don't mean it doesn't vacation elsewhere." Giles nodded at that wisdom and pulled out the folder with all the girls' profiles. "We need someone calm, nice, and smooth, someone stable mentally. I don't wanna have ta arrest another girl or bury one. I'll even consent to helping Xander now and then since I get given the strange cases with Stan since we know Xander so well." Giles winced at that. "Yeah, exactly. Therefore she's saving me work, saving Kowalski more mental problems for his already weakened mind, and she'll be saving David from tying Xander down so he can't go hunt ever again. Are there any my Ma would like? She said that'd be nice and I agree."
Giles looked at him. "There's one very Catholic young lady. She had been going for her novitiate before we activated her," he offered, handing that sheet over.
Ray looked at it, then shook his head, handing it back. "She's the one who took on the federal agent."
"Oh. Sorry." He marked something on that one and put it aside, going back to his searching. "How about her, Detective?"
Ray looked, considering it. "Better. A bit wild. Anyone more stable than this?" He put that in front of him as a 'maybe'. Giles handed over another one and he smiled. "I like the looks of this one. When can we interview?"
"It's not how we usually do these things," he offered politely.
Ray looked at him. "I'm the one who hired Xander."
"I see. Are you making up for that mistake?"
Ray glared and Giles wilted. "It wasn't a mistake. Xander's the best investment we ever made. See, we had a manpower problem there for a bit when they enacted our retirement law. Xander *was* the crime lab." Giles winced at that. "He ran out of overtime within six months of being hired. He was working eighteen hour days with pneumonia. We want someone more like him."
"Take the wild one," Giles said seriously. "Rona and he always got along well in Sunnydale and she's a good Slayer, Detective. She'll do Chicago very well and do us all proud. Plus she's very easy going most of the time in temperament. She's very kind to those who don't know. She can find a real job during the day if she must." Ray nodded, liking that. "She's working right now at a pretzel stand I believe."
"That's fine. I like the fact that she can do the real world thing too. That last one was a flake." Giles nodded and sighed at that. "Anyone else?"
"I would suggest Rona above the others. She was already partially trained when she was activated. Xander can perform as a Watcher when necessary, that is if she can't reach us."
"I'd rather have it so she didn't have to reach out and beg," Ray noted. "So would David. It depresses Xander each time he has to come and beg for help because of what you guys think about your former friend and helper," he said honestly. "David doesn't like that it depresses his husband and he's had to get...creative to help him. Therefore we'll gladly take Rona and anything you think he should have as a starter set."
"Who...who's doing the magic?" Giles asked, taking off his glasses to clean.
"Xander's decided he doesn't want to learn, even though he could," he said honestly. "He said he didn't want the trouble or the hassle or the expense of learning magic. Apparently when we had four magical Xanders together, they talked about their studies and he decided he'd rather focus on his career and his husband." Giles nodded, accepting that. "So the full starter set if we can as well."
"On loan?" he suggested.
"However," Ray agreed. "What about the rest of the world?"
"I'll gladly start looking into the rest of everywhere," he admitted quietly. "Are you aware of problem areas, Detective?"
Ray nodded. "Considering we got Greg back because of the vampires in Vegas liking him too much? Yeah."
"Fine. I'll send someone out there to check it out regularly," he promised. "Faith!" She came out of the back room and grinned at Ray. "We're sending Rona to Chicago. All they've got is Xander and the Mountie he's training."
"Xander's usually more than enough for a city," she said, frowning a bit. "What happened to him this time?"
"David doesn't want him hurt ever again," Ray said calmly. "He's had enough of that since he's not a slayer and it's not his job." Faith nodded, getting that. "I had to talk David out of coming himself to beg you guys to start sending the kiddies out to handle the minor crap floating around. Him and Stan were both at the begging point. We've got sorcerers or whatever. We've got a local source and then we've got Xander and Renfield."
Faith shivered. "Xander's usually more than enough, but you're right. He's got bigger fish to skin now with being a cop. Rona, Giles?" He nodded. "I'll tell her and escort her there personally, Detective Vecchio. Can we have a week to pack her stuff and find her a spot to park it?" He nodded, smiling at her. "Thanks. How bad is it?"
"Xander said it's only minor problems. We're still recovering from the switching. He suspects we'll have another buildup soon. Our boss is already taking medicine to ward off the headache he'll bring then. See, the police department doesn't like admitting to the strange stuff. It's not how we operate. Xander's one of us now, and it's crimping people and making it harder for him to work well with others. Since we like Xander...." She smiled and nodded, heading back into the back room. Ray nodded at Giles. "Thank you for being so reasonable." He grabbed his coat and walked off, flipping over the sign before he walked out the door. His sunglasses were put back on with a smile. It was nice when people did reasonable things because he asked politely.
Giles leaned on the counter, holding his head. "Xander was their only protector," he moaned.
Xander grinned at his mates as he walked into the joke shop the night after getting back. He had been snatched by the Ministry for a tiring round of reports and conferences on what happened. He was tired but his mate only opened his arms so he was much better once he got the hug he needed. "I'm home. The dragons went home. It's all fixed," he said happily, falling asleep in his arms.
George picked him up and carried him back to their bed. "Fred, take over the front of the shop," he called before kicking the door to the living quarters shut. Xander was more important in this case. He tucked them both in and settled in to cuddle his mate. He deserved it. "You deserve the Order of Merlin for that," he whispered, making his mate smile and hug him harder. Apparently it was a good dream. He liked those dreams. He could worry about any tainting from the other Xanders later. Even though the letters his Xander had sent home said he had the happiest marriage and life of any of them, he would worry and check for taint later. "You're home and I've got you," he said when Xander shifted, letting himself become the teddy bear Xander snuggled. It really was his favorite position.
Somewhere in Miami, a Xander smiled as everything went back to normal. His Chicago was back and it was all good to him. He had almost went to help but Strife and Cupid had warned him not to get involved since it was so magic and chaos heavy. He had given them many good ideas and thoughts for that, but he had to wonder which Xanders had been together. After all, it was always special when more than one Xander came together. Great things happened when Xanders worked together to change the world. That gave him an idea and he went to work on it in his study, making him a happy, horny, slutty Xander. "Quad porn," he said happily as he typed. "I haven't done this in a while."