Notes: Thanks be to this page (http://www.sk4p.net/egypt/gods.shtml) for the info on the Egyptian Gods.
And He Dances On.
"It's a great property," Steve said, getting Xander sitting. He jumped as a demon appeared beside him. "Yes?"
"For us?" Xander asked, holding out a hand for the message. The demon leaned down and whispered in Xander's ear. "We've got to go back to Sunnydale tonight," he said, standing up. "Seth sent the message."
The General looked up from his paperwork. "You still have to debrief before you can leave the base." He saw the seriousness reflected in Xander's eyes. "Why do you have to go?"
"Because we're officially Sunnydale's guardians," Oz told him, standing up too. "Fly back with us, Steve?"
"Of course." He smiled at the General. "They really are the guardians of the Hellmouth."
"And if this is magic-based, we're screwed," Oz shared as he walked out.
"No, big demon trying to take over. One of the middle echelon, hell spawned."
"Do you know this demon, Xander?" Oz asked as he walked behind him.
"No. Never met him. Why he wants to talk to us I'm not sure, but we'll deal when we get there." They got onto the elevator and Xander grabbed his husband's hand. "Right?"
"Right. We'll deal."
"Guys, I should tell you, both of your housekeepers are living in Florida permanently now." He coughed and shook his head. "There's been a large manufacturing company that moved into Sunnydale a few months back. The town's nearly wasted. It's also nearly deserted."
"Maybe the demon's there to stop it," Xander said cheerfully as he stepped off the elevator, flashing his pass and signing them all out. He walked out to where the gate Sergeant was. "We need a cab to the airport," he told him. "Do you know the number?"
"Yes, sir, I'll call one for you," he said.
Xander coughed as he stepped out of their rental car, gagging at the smell. "How is the EPA not monitoring this?" he yelled as he walked away from the car, heading into the park to meet with his brother Seth and Seth's boyfriend Spike, the vampires they had picked to run Sunnydale while they were gone. "Dudes, why didn't you eat them?" he asked as he walked up to them.
"Because they were creating jobs and Sunnydale needed them," Seth said with a shrug. "We're all sorry now." He hugged his brother gently. "How are you?"
"Fine. My present job's classified but it's very exciting."
Spike nodded at Oz as he walked over to them. "Hard to believe people used to be able to breathe around here, innit?"
Oz nodded. "Definitely. Can we burn them down?"
"It's probably not a good idea," Seth said delicately. "They're making metal widgets." Oz raised an eyebrow. "That's all we know."
"Then let's let them be stomped," Xander said with a smile. He looked over at Spike. "How're things besides that?"
"No problems," Spike said, dropping his cigarette and stomping on it. "Not much activity around here now though, only the ones able to live on this muck."
Steve walked up to them. "This has got to stop," he told them. "One of the local cops just told me that the company demanded all its workers be in bed by now. I pointed out that I wasn't working for them and that if he tried anything, I was the manager of your estate."
"Are they coming after my house?" Xander asked. Steve nodded. "Fuck 'em then, they die." Xander pulled out a large bead and put it into Spike's hand. "He owes me."
"You can't," Seth said gently, resting a hand on Xander's shoulder. "If they die, so does the town."
"The town didn't die when there wasn't *any* work back in the fifties. It won't die now," Xander told him. "People are drawn here. You might have to deal with the chaos people for a while, but otherwise it'll regrow. It always does."
"And it will this time," an older man said as he walked up to them. "Good plastic surgery," he said in greeting. "If you take them down, take down the other being too, please." He smiled at Xander.
"Chief Smith," Xander said, walking over to give him a hug. "How did this happen?"
"The new mayor. He made a deal for the jobs." He shrugged and leaned on his cane. "He regretted it first since he was the first to complain and the first to die." He looked at Seth and Spike. "These two have done very well. The death rate is steadily going down, even when the population went up last year."
"Said we'd control it," Spike pointed out. "Now, about this big bugger, what about him?"
"Depends on what he wants," Xander said lightly. "Where is he?"
"He'll be here soon," Seth told him. "We told him about half an hour after you were supposed to arrive, just in case."
Xander smiled at him. "Good job. So, tell me more about these idiots."
Xander looked up at the hell-spawned demon, grimacing at it's bulk. "You do know that you're not going to be able to rule this town, right?" he said in greeting.
The demon laughed and looked down at him. "I don't want the town. If I had it, it wouldn't have been allowed to happen," he said with a point at the factory. "The vampires are fighting it but they'll lose."
"Not with some extra help," Xander suggested. "If you don't want the town, why did you want to meet with the guardians of the Hellmouth?"
"Because the portal isn't draining right. We can tell. There's some sort of problem with the connection."
"Could it be the pollution?" Oz asked.
The demon nodded. "That was my thought once I got here."
"Then we have to cure the company or else the Hellmouth will open." Xander looked at the factory, trying to figure out where it was. "Tell me they didn't," he breathed.
"They built it over the Hellmouth," the demon agreed. "Which insulted us. A school was bad enough." He laughed at the grimaces both young men wore. "It could have been worse. Mayor Wilkens could have had the Hellmouth tied into the building so each time it opened it would have sucked in the whole school."
"It always opened at night," Xander said dryly. "No tasty students, just a few janitors and some really old seats." He shook himself. "Can we intentionally open it?"
"We could," the demon agreed. "It could backfire."
"They'll complain and say that we sabotaged them. They did it to the town when we cut off their water supply," Chief Smith noted. "They won too."
"Then let's give them a reason to move on," Xander said with a smile. "If they build on top of a portal to Hell, what else would they expect?"
"Um, possessed metal widgets?" Oz suggested. Xander frowned. "It can happen here and then it would spread."
"Then we'll call on the Master of Business in the family," Seth said. "I've already spoken to Micah and he was *not* pleased. He said he'd be here tonight but apparently he's late."
"Micah!" Xander yelled. His brother appeared. "You're late? You're never late."
"The owners of the business called on a demon and I was talking to her," he said, after giving his brother a hug. "How is your mission?"
"Going very well," Oz told him, shaking his hand. "What did they want?"
"Your house and for you to go away. They want the keystone."
"Oh, then let's give it to them," Xander said cruelly. "They want my job and my house, let's give them a taste of my life too."
"You can't," Micah told him. "You promised to guard it with your life, or to find a suitable guardian for it when you had to leave. You giving it to them, or opening the Hellmouth, would violate that promise and it will come back to bite you some day."
Xander shrugged. "Okay, then what do we do?"
"How about you freeze?" a voice said from the edge of the clearing.
"Put it down, son," Chief Smith said quietly. "You don't know what you're doing."
"You can't sabotage them, they're the only reason we can live here."
"No, they're the reason that you *can't* live here," Xander told him. The cop reached for his part of the keystone and he dodged. "Don't even," he warned. "You don't know what you're doing." He glanced up at the smoky air. "Do you really want this to continue? Can you even *consider* raising kids here?"
"They said they'd fix it, said some new technology was going to be eating the pollution."
Micah snorted. "What they wanted from my kind isn't going to help this level of pollution. It will take decades to clean this up." He looked at Xander. "Can you manipulate the portal?" he suggested. "That wouldn't technically violate your promise to guard it. Most demons wouldn't look on you favorably for it but you wouldn't be in violation for it."
"No," Xander said, shaking his head. "I don't know how to pick a certain dimension. Sam would, she's studying that stuff, but we left her back at work." He looked at the cop again, who was starting to look very confused. "Listen, man, we want to *fix* this, not hurt the town. The people will come back once the pollution is gone. Jobs will even come back, they have many times before. Sticking up for these idiots means that you let this continue until even God himself can't cure this town of its problems. Choose, man."
"They're making sure my child gets help," the cop said, straightening up. "Can you say the same?"
"Can you be sure that they didn't cause your child's problem in the first place?" Oz asked. The cop glared at him. "Cancer?"
"Then there's always help. Shriners for one."
"The cost of her treatment is astronomical," the cop told them.
"And it's only fair that they pay for causing it," Xander agreed, "but if you don't let us stop them then you'll be sentencing more kids to your kid's fate. Do you really want that? Generations of kids that die because they put something in the soil?"
"No," the cop said, "but I promised. I signed an agreement and everything."
"Yes, you did," a deep voice said from the shadows, and a man walked out to join them. "Why, Mr. Harris, how nice to see you back in town. Your necklace if you please? We already have the rest of the stone."
"We fractured part off, mate," Spike said, lighting another cigarette and taking a deep pull. He tossed the crumpled pack on the ground. "You'll never get control of the Hellmouth, not even if you have the full key."
"Good point," Seth agreed. "There is the matter of holding the power to control it."
"Oh, but I do," the man said jovially. "I'm going to finish what should have been done years ago."
Xander crossed his arms and shook his head. "Not another guy with a God complex. Is this some sort of flaw in our species?" he asked the hell-spawned demon.
"No, just in some people," it answered. "You will not be able to hold the portal, not open or closed. There are beings waiting in line to get out that no one will be able to fight."
"Well, that's peachy," Oz said. "Why didn't Giles ever tell us about this?"
"Because he didn't want to worry us," Xander said as he watched the man.
"Take his necklace."
"You can't have it," Xander told him. "If you touch me, then you'll die too," he told the cop. "Working for him is making sure that all of you die a horrible death. If he opens the portal then you'll one of the first to go as food because you knew it was going to happen." He took off his necklace and handed it to his mate. "Hold that for me, Oz. I want this one."
"Xander, you can't," Oz warned. "Just because Giles could use the quickening to raise his magic levels doesn't mean you can."
"He told me all about it while he had me," Xander said as he walked closer. "Challenge me for it," he sneered. "You think you're so big, challenge me for the ownership of the portal."
"No," Seth said, stepping forward. "I know more magic than you do, brother."
"Do it together," Spike suggested happily. "A real family sorta moment. Bonding or some such."
Oz looked over at him. "They bond over shopping, Spike, they don't need to do it over fighting too. Xander, just kick his ass so we can solve this tonight. I want to get back to our animals."
"Sure, honey, let me take this stupid idiot out and we'll get back to report then go on vacation. Are we taking Furry and Rocky?" he asked, raising his hand in the air. "Challenge me or leave my town," he told the asshole.
"Mr. Harris, it is a delightful offer, but we do have other means of winning. Arrest him for threatening me," he ordered the cop.
"Touch me and find yourself under federal arrest," Xander told him. Everyone looked at him. "You don't have jurisdiction over our lives right now, sorry," he told the cop. "We're working on a federal matter and can't be bothered with your smaller version of justice." He snapped his fingers. "Shoot, that must suck. Go home," he ordered the cop. "This isn't your fight and it will only turn out really badly for you." The cop looked at his boss then ran away. "Spike, please make sure he gets home to his kids. It's not his family's fault that he's working for the putz here." He looked the bad guy over, then nodded. "You're not a magic user, you just know that it exists," he told the other man, reaching in to touch his inner scary and calm spot. "Not only can't you use it, but you *want* it so bad that you're willing to murder millions of beings to get what you'll never be able to control."
"Wrong," the man interrupted. He lifted his hand, showing off a metal cross-shaped thing on his palm. "I can use it. Now."
Xander snorted. "That's not really using it, that's channeling it. Using it means that you make it personal, it becomes part of who you are on a fundamental level." He crossed his arms. "Even though you can channel it, you can't really use it because you can't really control it. *I* have more ability and I can only play with plants." He shrugged. "You're just another loser who wants something he doesn't have."
"No!" the man said, starting to lose his temper. "I do more than channel it," he spat. "I'm powerful!"
"Yay," Oz said dryly, backing up his mate. "Xander, can we relocate his factory to a demon plane?"
Micah looked at him, looking quite shocked. "That's a brilliant idea. I know a few planes where the metal would be most welcome, and the building would be the only for many miles." He looked at his adopted brother. "Xander, can I have your help in doing that?"
"Sure," Xander said absently, watching his prey. The guy was going to make a move, and he was going to do it soon. The only question was what was he going to do. "You've already lost," he said quietly. "The Hellmouth knows and loves us. It'll eat you before doing anything else."
The man shrieked and sent a blast of power out of the device on his hand. "This is my town now!" he screamed as the beam bathed Xander. But nothing happened. He glared at the man. "What are you?"
"Human. Blessed, but fully human," Xander told him, giving him a smile. "Didn't consider that?"
"It only works on demons," Micah said in awe.
"Well, in that case," Oz said, leaping onto the man. "Xander, get the toy," he panted as they rolled around.
The higher demon froze the pair and reached down to pluck the device off his hand, ripping off his palm with it because it was attached. "Handy thing to have."
Xander held out a hand. "I'm going to put it somewhere that only certain trustworthy military people can get to it," he said when it wasn't given to him. He put the device on and nodded at the pair on the ground. "Get Oz free." The demon waved his hand and the pair disengaged. "Move," Xander warned, pointing it at the man on the ground. He screamed, and then he changed. He was now a puddle of semisolid material; about the consistency of Jell-O, but with a skin around it. "Huh," he said, looking at the toy. "Neat." He handed it to Steve. "Take this back to Hammond, and only him." He took Oz's arm and started him walking away. "Micah, can I get you to do something about the factory and the pollution?"
"Yes, brother," Micah called, resigned to being left doing all the work again. Xander grinned back at him and it made him feel better. "Any other orders?"
"Yeah, we're coming back in another year and a half. I want to be able to *live* in my house!" He pulled Oz to their car and got in to go up to Canada. They had stuff they had to do. Hammond would wait for them, even though he might be pissed, they deserved it.
Steve looked at Micah, then at the other demon. "You two don't need me, right?" They both shook their heads. "Good. I'm going back to where things are normal." He headed for his rental car, it was a safe haven of sanity in this odd world.
Micah looked at the blob, then at the other demon. "Did you want to clean that up?"
"No, I was going to take him back as an example." He froze the blob and picked it up, putting it into a bag. "Have fun moving the factory." He disappeared into the ground, going home.
Micah sighed. "I deserve a vacation for dealing with Xander's problems," he told himself as he started walking toward the factory. "No brother should be able to do this to another. Especially not when he's perfectly capable of dealing with it himself." He shook his head. "Never mind, his sorcerer mate went bad, he can't deal with this, so therefore I get the onus again." He sighed. "It's always me."
General Hammond jumped as the alarm for the Stargate went off, running for the control room. "What's going on?" he shouted into the organized chaos.
"Incoming wormhole," the technician in charge of the computer that opens the gate called back. "No signature, no teams off world."
"Close the iris," Hammond ordered, watching as it was closed, and then as it broke. "Security to the gate room!" he called over the speakers. "Prepare for invasion!" He nodded at the man to type in a special disaster message to the team using the other gate. He needed Jack and Sam's brains to fight this. He grabbed his own weapon and went to take up his position in the defensive line. He wasn't going to be fighting from behind this time.
Jack looked down as his 'pager', or that's what he was calling it, went off. "Sam, trouble," he called as he read the message.
Methos and Ray looked up, they were taking Xander and Oz's place while they were on vacation. "Can we help?" Ray asked.
"These are very major bad guys," Sam said as she jogged past them. She grabbed her jacket and followed Jack out the door. "Stay here!" She slammed the door, running to catch up with Jack. "I wish I had changed," she muttered as she ran across the threshold of their gateway. She took up her usual position in the line of defense, waiting for whatever to come through the stargate.
Jack looked over at her and sighed. "Carter, no more dressing like a native."
One of the other soldiers looked at her, then shrugged. "Hey, they taught us to fight naked, I guess that's the girly version of it."
"Ouch," Jack whispered, stepping away from him.
"We'll talk about that later," Sam told the idiot. "In a practice room. I'll be nice and even let you have a weapon and padding." He whimpered. "Pay attention!"
The first Goa'uld walked through the portal. "Amun demands your compliance," he said firmly. "You will drop your weapons or he will destroy you."
"Bite me!" Sam yelled, and fired. The rest of the troops followed her lead and fired, killing the guard. One soldier ran up and released the guard's helmet, then sent him back through the portal. He ran back into his position and waited.
"Which one was Amun?" Jack called out.
Daniel walked through the portal. "Which one?"
"Creator god, originally of Thebes but gained ultimate power later. His temple was at Karnak." He looked at the portal. "I can't keep our ...guests over there much longer."
Sam sighed and tossed her weapon to Daniel. "You take my place, I'll go say something." She ran back through the portal, hoping to be back in time to kick some ass.
Daniel relaxed as the stargate closed and looked around at the soldiers. "Jack?"
"We stay," Jack told him.
"Maybe we should ask to borrow the goats," one grunt said, and Jack laughed.
"Good one. Let's send them over."
"No," General Hammond called. "You won't torture them by sending those two goats to them. No matter how many dogs they eat."
"What did it eat?" Daniel asked.
"A visiting dignitary's rottweiler," the soldier next to him explained. "The President nearly had a coronary, but his wife was slick about it." He smiled, and just at that moment, the stargate opened and another guard walked through.
"We demand your total surrender...." Then he too was shot.
Xander sighed as he found the *perfect* spot for their new house. "Here," he announced, stamping a foot. "Great views, not a lot of trees to clear, comfy feeling ground."
Oz nodded. "Okay." He blinked as a hallucination swam before their eyes. "Xander, do you see that too?" he asked quietly.
"Yeah." Xander walked back to his mate's side and took his hand to hold, watching as a house formed around them. "Wow." He reached out to touch a wall, and it was solid. "I want to know what drugs I took to cause this."
The sound of laughter floated across the breeze from the open windows.
Oz looked at his husband. "Someone likes you," he said finally.
"Us," Xander retorted, then he stole a kiss. The laughter came again. "You like?"
"So far, I love," Oz pointed out. "Let's go explore." He led the way up to the loft bedrooms, starting from the top.
"BOHICA!" a soldier yelled as the stargate started to dial-in. This was the sixth time in the last hour that someone had come to demand their surrender. They'd gotten smarter, they were sending a small team now instead of a single guard, but the results were the same. And the soldiers were getting *really* tired of this. As soon as the gate opened, they opened fire.
Eris, Goddess of Discord, growled as her irritation grew. Those people were messing with her fun! A plan formed in her mind. Yeah, she could fix this. She teleported down to a small, private mental hospital, landing beside a bed. "Want your powers back?" she asked the man lying there. "You work for me and I'll give them back. You fuck up, I'll kill you and give your mates something in your likeness that treats them well and begs to give them oral sex." She waved away his restraints and tapped him on the forehead, blowing open all his lines of power. Then she took the groaning body to the gateway and shoved him through, sending some limited spells with him.
Giles smiled nicely as he walked through the portal, looking totally British. "Hello. I'm your new God," he told the Goa'uld. "You will worship me." They laughed and Giles used the spells to blow them back, fascinate them, and ensnare them under his control. "Lead me to your old God," he demanded, and his soldiers obeyed. He smiled at the head Goa'uld, bowing to him. "I do believe we have a lot to talk about." He pointed at his guards, half of which were destroyed in a power blast. "I'm your new God."
Amun's mouth fell open. He was a powerful and old Goa'uld, but he had never seen power like that. He watched as one of his faithful bodyguards rushed this stranger and shot him, then laughed when he fell. He continued until Giles got back up and dusted himself off.
"I must say, that was rude," Giles scolded gently. "You'll have to pay for that." He destroyed the guard. Then he smiled again. "Don't do that again, it only pisses me off, and I'm having such a nice day."
Amun stood up from his throne. "You will come discuss this with the others," he commanded. He led the way to the transport rings that went to his ship. They had a lot to talk about. Little did he know that he was going to end up the favorite personal body slave of this new God.
Ares picked Eris up by the throat and shook her. "What did you do!" he screamed.
"Relax," Strife said as he appeared. "It could be worse." Ares glared at him, but he dropped Eris. "She made Giles powerful, then turned him inta a tool against those guys that tried ta take over our spots." He grinned. "He's fuckin' with them now. It's so cool!"
Ares groaned. "This is bad!" he shouted. "That means that the asshole has the capability to try and take over this planet!"
Zeus appeared, giving his son a bland look. "Why are you screaming? It's very undignified, Ares."
"Eris, in her stupidest of moments, freed the anchor's insane husband, gave him back his powers, and turned his insanity on our ancient enemy. He's making them his tools."
Zeus looked at Eris. "It's a good plan."
"Um, Unc thinks that this putz is gonna try and take over the world. He kinda has this grudge against us too because the anchor likes us." Strife shrugged when Zeus looked at him. "The anchor is one of his husbands. He kidnaped him and demanded that the boy worship him insteada us."
"I see." Zeus stroked his beard while he thought. "Eris, that was an excellent plan. Can you control him?"
"Only Xander could control him," Ares told him. "If anyone can, he might be able to."
"Not the issue," Eris said as she picked herself up off the floor and dusted off. She looked at her father. "He knows I'm the one who opened his powers back up." She grinned. "And hey, he might decide that being a God is hard work and give it up."
"It won't break the insanity," Zeus told her. He looked at Ares again. "I want a plan, today," he ordered calmly. "I want to know what they have now, how we can counter it, and what we can do about this upstart."
"He's an immortal," Jace said from the doorway. "He's got known vulnerabilities." She walked into the room. "Strife knows Xander, who knows Giles best of anyone alive. Go to him and warn him." She smiled at Ares. "I think that General Hammond would know what you needed to know." Ares smiled and nodded, leaving them alone. She nodded her head at Eris. "It was a great plan," she offered with a smile. "And this will definitely give you a power boost." Then she looked at Zeus. "We'll handle it in-temple. Don't worry about it." He smiled and disappeared, and Jace nearly fell to the floor as her knees gave out.
"You did great," Eris said with a grin. "I'm going to help Ares."
"I'd stay away," Jace warned. "He's still mad at you. He hates having to save Xander."
"Point," Eris said, chewing on her lip. "I think I'll stay here and work on the mapping. There's only a few places where a ship could land, and only one place where they can get here otherwise." She jogged into the map room.
Jace sat down on the marble floor, limp with relief. No one had hurt her for speaking up. She called Cupid to her and explained to him what was going on, and he picked her up and took her to bed.
Jack jumped as Ares appeared behind him. "Don't do that!" he yelled, drawing attention from the other soldiers. "Hammond to the gate room!" he yelled as an afterthought.
"Thanks, saves me from doing it," Ares told him. He looked over the formation, then pointed. "Send three of them with heavy guns to the sides of the gateway ramp, you'll get surer and faster deaths when they're caught in the crossfire."
A few of the soldiers moved but a Colonel stopped them. "What are you doing? And who is this?" he demanded of Jack.
General Hammond walked in and smiled. "Lord Ares, how may we help you?"
"My sister, in her infinite stupidity, released Giles, gave him his powers back, and sent him to go subdue those aliens." Ares shrugged at the shocked look. "He's stopped the one that's bothering you by making the idiot worship him...physically." Then he grinned. "I want to discuss your defense strategies before this comes back to bite us on the ass."
Jack looked at him. "Huh?"
"Xander," Daniel sighed.
Ares laughed. "Good boy. Yes, Xander. The only one who can *really* control Giles."
General Hammond snorted, then he started to laugh. "Well, it's different," he said finally. "O'Neill, assign a guard, the rest of you stand down."
"You're going on the word of someone who *appeared*?" the Colonel asked.
"Son, that's Ares, Greek God of War. We've had a few discussions and I trust him." He patted the junior officer on the shoulder. "Don't worry, you can stay in here and arrange people if you want." He nodded up at his office. "Join me up there? O'Neill, you too." He walked away.
Ares smiled at Daniel. "You and..." He stared at Sam and licked his lips. "I must say, Captain Carter, those clothes suit you," he said with a leer.
She shook her head and went to give a report to their off-world contacts. They had wanted to know what was going on. "Men should be inoculated against," she said as she crossed the gateway.
One soldier nudged the one beside him. "Why can't we have uniforms like that," he whispered.
Jack glared at him. "Lieutenant, the women on that other world make our Marines look like pussy cats. Their clothes are a misleading trap to make men think that they're weak." Then he relaxed. "Besides, the warriors and soldiers wear more clothes. That's an everyday outfit." He followed Ares up to the General's office. "Sir, permission to burn all of Doctor Carter's clothes?"
General Hammond smiled. "Maybe before you come back." He knew Jack wouldn't be able to do it, Sam would kill him first, but Jack was more than welcome to try. "Lord Ares, would you please explain it to me again? I think I must have misheard."
Ares shook his head. "No, you heard right. Eris released Giles, gave him powers, and sent him to become the personal god of the Goa'uld." He sat down in the more comfortable chair and put one leg over the arm. "My nephew suggested that Giles might want to attack Earth to get back at his husbands." He smiled. "So I'm here to find out what you know about them so we can make plans." He looked at Jack. "And to answer the unasked question, I prefer the direct approach instead of getting the information from a computer. Computers don't give out personal opinions, speculations, or have ideas."
Jack nodded. That made sense. "So, did you need to pick brains or speculate?"
"Both," Ares told him. "We haven't been keeping track of these aliens, I've been much busier with the wars on this planet." He looked at the General again. "What can they do?"
Sam sighed. "They're space capable, but we weren't asking for help with them. We manage to deal with them most of the time." She looked up at Nethisha. "We really didn't start this alliance to get military help."
"You don't think we can beat them?" the First Wife asked.
Sam shook her head. "No, we think you could stomp them very well, and probably even have fun doing it, but we can deal with them most of the time. Their attack today was an isolated incident. Usually, they like to deal with technologically backwards peoples because they can claim to be Gods. We know, or at least some of us know, what they are and have fought them back a number of times."
"But our military does have things that you could use," Nethisha noted.
Sam nodded. "Of course, but we wouldn't be able to understand them." She smiled hopefully. "We'd rather come up here and pick your brains for knowledge and then build our own."
The First Wife chuckled. "A very bold move." She looked at her wife, who was looking confused. "They'd rather learn from us and develop their own weapons," she explained. "Picking of brains is a euphemism for learning what another knows."
"Oh." Nethisha smiled. "That's fine, but we would gladly put forward a request for some Space Marines to come guard your planet. The Empress was most appreciative of Xander not causing a...stir?" Sam shrugged. "A disturbance."
"Yeah, both were right," Sam agreed, Nethisha still had some problems finding the right word in English. "He wouldn't though, Xander's not like that." She smiled. "Really, what we want most is to learn from you. Not that there won't be people who will want to get technology from you, but we'd rather learn what we're doing first."
"Like that First Contact protocol in those books?" Nethisha asked. Sam nodded. "That does make sense." She looked up at her wife. "We really could give them things that they can handle. Give them things that they've figured out most of the way?"
The First Wife shrugged. "It might help. We need to talk to Hammond. He speaks for the military."
Sam nodded. "Okay. I can lead you back there. There's been news that there won't be another attack for a while." Nethisha looked at her. "Um, how should I put this?"
Cupid appeared behind her and gave her a hug. "I'll do it, you go calm down Methos and Ray. I can't get Methos to stop raging." He let her go, waiting until she was gone. "My Aunt released Giles from his imprisonment and sent him to deal with those aliens," he explained. "She's presently being screamed at by everyone else."
Nethisha frowned. "Really?" He nodded. "Could he come here?"
"Not likely," Cupid told her. "We're trying to get him back into his confinement."
"Is he effective?" the First Wife asked. Cupid nodded. "Then maybe you should leave him. A good death is one where you die fighting."
Cupid grinned. "I know, but we want him back where we know where he is. With Xander's ability to get into trouble, we figure this is going to bounce off'a him soon enough."
Nethisha laughed. "Yes, it probably will," she gasped. "That boy and trouble are very close."
"To both Gods of it," the First Wife added dryly.
Cupid broke out in giggles. "Yup. Too true. Oh, and Lissa's taking a nap beside my son." He nodded. "Want to come get in on the discussion?"
"Yes, I think I would," Nethisha said, standing up and taking her wife's hand so they could walk down the stairs together. They walked past Cupid. "We'll see you there?"
"Nah, I gotta go warn Xander," he sighed. He disappeared.
Nethisha and her wife took one of their carts and headed for the official portal. Even stubborn allies should be able to accept help. Or knowledge if the Empire had it. She smiled at the soldiers standing around the bottom of the gate ramp. "A well-kept meeting," she said calmly.
"Queen Nethisha, what can we do for you?" Daniel asked from the Control Room. "Guys, stand down and escort them up to Hammond's office." The microphone clicked off.
"Yes, we want to see if we know of these aliens and if we can help," Nethisha told them.
"Can we borrow some more goats?" a soldier asked from the back wall as one of the others stepped up to escort her. The guys laughed.
"Stow it," the Colonel ordered harshly. "Take them up to the meeting room."
"Sir, General Hammond is in his office," the soldier said.
"He'll go to the meeting room," the Colonel said, watching as the two aliens walked out. He did not like this at all. They were much too dependent on the good will of people that they didn't know that much about, and what little they did know came from civilians.
Nethisha smiled as the men joined her. "We came to see if we could be of some help," she told them, getting up to shake Hammond's hand. She smiled at the stranger. "And you are?"
"Oh, yeah," Jack said. "Ares, God of War, this is Queen Nethisha and her First Wife. They rule the planet where we're setting up relations." He sat down.
Ares smiled at the two beautiful women. "Your daughter was most helpful when we were up there," he said in greeting. "Have you seen these aliens before?" He pulled out chairs for them and helped them sit down again.
"We've seen no description of them," the First Wife noted. "We're trying to see if we have or not."
"Good." Hammond pushed over the file he had been carrying. "That's the specifications for their ships. That would probably be the most distinctive thing you would have noticed."
Nethisha flipped open the file and gasped. "We routed them many years ago," she said in glee. She looked up at Hammond. "May we call one of our military people to come talk to you?"
"Yes," Ares agreed. "I'd like to talk to them." He looked at Hammond, who shrugged.
"It can only help," the General agreed. He picked up the ringing phone. "Yes?" He sighed. "Send him down. I'll meet him in my office." He hung up then stood up. "I'll be right back." He left.
Ares looked the two women over. "Tell me about your armies," he requested gently. "What little I got from your daughter's mind was impressive."
Nethisha let her wife speak, that was more her area.
General Hammond shook Steve's hand as he walked in. "What happened?"
"Xander beat the demon person polluting his town and then left for Canada while his brother started the cleanup of the town. He sends this," he said, tossing the little thing over.
"The demon guy used it to channel energy from his hand. All I know is that its still got his skin on it and that's rather gross." Steve sat down. "Is there a problem I can help with?"
"Only if you can deal with aliens," the General said absently as he looked it over.
"The negotiations?" Steve asked, looking pained.
"Not them, son," the General said, giving him a smile. "Explain what he did."
"Well, that top ring was around his middle finger," Steve said, pointing to the floppy ring. "The bigger one was around his wrist. The cross looking part was what shot the energy." He shrugged. "I don't deal with the strange stuff, that's Xander. I'm just the delivery guy." He stood up. "If you don't need me, I'm going to go to Vegas."
"Have fun," the General said absently, still trying to figure out if it was like what the Goa'uld used to shoot energy beams from their hands. He walked out, heading for the lab. He ran into Sam first. "Doctor Carter, this just fell into our hands. The person using it shot energy out of their hand," he said, handing it over. "I want to know how."
She grimaced at the dead skin. "Can I clean it first, sir?" she asked. He shrugged. "Thank you, sir. I'll get right on it. Did Nethisha come this way?"
"She's in the meeting room. They've beaten the Goa'uld before and we're seeing how." He walked away, confident that she had it well in hand. He walked in and shut the door before Sam could walk through it. "Ellison just dropped a puzzle in our lap," he told Ares.
Sam knocked then stuck her head in. "Sir, where did we send the Goa'uld hand weapon? I'll need to compare it."
"It went to New Mexico," Hammond told her. "They've got it locked up and haven't started looking at it after they blasted someone."
Ares held out a hand. "Let me see." She put it in his hand. "Hmm," he rumbled as he studied it. "It's to channel magical energy out this little mouth-shaped opening. The person would draw it from the earth, through their body, and out through their hand. Which is why the skin was stuck to it." He handed it back. "Useful, but dangerous to use."
She smiled. "Thank you, Lord Ares. Should we lock it up?"
"Just keep it away from Xander," he said coolly. "We don't think he needs the encouragement. Strife thinks that he'll go after Giles without any encouragement."
Jack shuddered. "Sir, with all due respect, I'm not going after him if he does."
"O'Neill, we're sending a full team with him if he does," General Hammond assured him.
"Huh?" Sam asked.
"My sister, Discord, released Giles, made him powerful, and sent him to the Goa'uld."
"I heard that part," she sighed.
"To be their God," Jack added.
She burst out laughing. "Really? Sir, can we see what's going on?"
"No, Captain," the General told her. "Go lock that up and get back into uniform." She saluted and walked out of the meeting room.
"She is a delightful woman," Nethisha told everyone. "Truly, she could be one of us."
"We noticed," Jack and the General said in unison.
Ares just snickered. He liked his women brassy and mouthy. He *really* liked these new aliens.
Xander looked up as Cupid appeared beside the new bed, giving him a warm smile. "Hey," he said in his favorite post-multiple orgasm voice. "Cuddle?"
Cupid, never one to pass up offers like that, climbed in on the other side of Xander. "Hey, Oz, we've got to tell you guys some bad news."
Xander giggled and rolled over to play with Cupid's firm chest and stomach. "I think I broke him," he confided.
Cupid giggled as Xander hit a ticklish spot, and he captured the hands. "I think you did too, but we still need to talk to him."
"Let him nap first," Oz suggested, not opening his eyes. "He'll be mentally there when he wakes up." He grabbed Xander's waist and pulled him back, eventually rolling to make a Xander sandwich. As soon as Xander was happily snoring, Oz opened his eyes. "What happened?"
"Eris released Giles, gave him his powers, and turned him onto the Goa'uld."
"Excuse me?" Oz asked.
"You heard it," Cupid agreed. "He's presently gaining status as their personal god."
Oz closed his eyes and put his head down on top of Xander's. "Wake us up when it makes sense."
Cupid settled in for a long wait. They both looked like it had been a long, hard, good ride. He took the time to look around the house, smiling at the great details, and that view. Marvelous. He heard the laughter and smiled. "Hey," he whispered. "Great job."
A little girl appeared beside the bed. "Thank you," she whispered back. "We like them, they're fun."
"Are you related to Lissa?" The little girl giggled and nodded. "Are you her sister Migrid?" She shook her head. "Then who are you?"
"Amrist, Goddess of Contentment, younger sister to Lissa and Migrid." Strife said as he appeared. "We were having lunch when she felt Xander go off." He nodded at the cuddled pair. "They asleep?"
"Post-coital crash," Cupid agreed. "I told Oz, he demanded the right to nap first."
Strife shrugged. "Okay. Unc's presently makin' moves on that queen and her wife. Jace and Eris got the map going. I'm gonna go take the kids back home."
"Stop in and check on Methos. I had to send Sam to calm them down," Cupid said quietly. He nudged Xander, and got one open eye. "She made the house," he whispered.
Xander wiggled his way over Cupid's body and gave the little Goddess a hug. "Thanks. It's the greatest of all houses," he told her. "We love it and we're going to live here for a long time."
She giggled and poked him on the nose. "Beep." Then she disappeared.
Strife giggled and stole a kiss from Xander. "Try ta stay outta trouble for a few days, 'kay." He followed Amrist.
Cupid pulled Xander back to his original spot and wrapped him in his arms. "Staying out of trouble we can do," he told the sleepy man, who just grinned at him and burrowed back into his chest. He sent a thought out to his mom, they would need her help. His mom was a mighty woman who could make many people beg. Maybe she'd go retrieve Giles for them and end the problem.
Strife appeared in the main off-world temple, smiling at the women sitting on the thrones. "I'm returning them, safe and sound," he said, pushing them forward.
Artten, Goddess of Godly Combat and War, looked over their daughters, frowning at the younger one. "Amrist, what did you do?" she asked, holding open her arms so they could get hugs.
"I made a house," she said proudly. She ran up and cuddled with her mommy, her sister hitting her mom's lap to get her own hug.
Strife scratched his head. "Yeah, she kinda made the Xander a house. The *perfect* house."
Grethen, Goddess of Grief, smiled at her younger daughter. "Did they appreciate it?" Her daughter giggled and blushed. She looked down at Strife.
"They appreciated it so much they *christened* it," Strife explained. "To the point where one'a our Gods'a love got a power boost and he's presently cuddlin' with them."
The couple laughed, but it was in delight. Their daughters created such joy in lives, even when it wasn't done to amuse. "You did very well," Artten told them both.
"I turned purpley," Lissa told her.
"Who did you turn purple?" Grethen asked.
"Hera," Strife told them. They looked clueless. "The matriarch of our clan. It was an improvement over what had been going on." He grinned at Lissa. "She's been a delight and I'll gladly watch her again."
There was a bright flash behind them and Hera appeared, already tapping her foot. "Strife, what is this I hear about those false Gods coming back?" she demanded. She looked around the temple. "Where is this?"
"This is the world that the anchors are workin' on. Um, this is Grethen, Goddess of Grief, and Artten, Goddess of War...."
"Goddess of Godly Combat and War," Artten corrected. "I only handle the Godly challenges." She nodded at Hera. "Thank you for your hospitality while our daughters were up there. I know they can be a bit...enthusiastic for those not used to them."
Hera waved a hand. "Beside those few times that I found myself the wrong color, I hardly saw them." She looked around again. "This is an excellent structure. I wish our own temples were this spacious."
Strife kept himself from saying anything about Hera's addiction to little trinkets, which was making her temple's open spaces shrink every day. "Should we arrange for a meetin' of the minds?" he suggested.
Hera gave him a condescending smile. "I think that's planned for when they come to our world."
"In another year, your time," Grethen noted. "We could wait that long."
Artten gave a delicate cough. "It'll take that long to get all of our Gods to agree," she noted.
"There's that many of you?" Hera asked.
"There's sixty in our direct family," Grethen told them. "And the additional Gods that have been raised for their powerful natures. That's from this planet alone."
"There's six hundred or so planets with individual pantheons," Strife told her. Everyone looked at him. "I went and looked it up. I *can* read!"
"He tells good stories," Lissa told them all, breaking the tension.
"Pooh," Amrist agreed.
All three mothers smiled at the children, and Strife just grinned. "I think we could arrange to have a meeting," Hera agreed. "I wasn't going to include all our minor Gods, but you can bring them if you want. Also, it will give Bliss someone else to play with for a while."
Strife coughed. "Bliss is already up here. He and Migrid are playin' tag in the Market." Hera looked at him, one eyebrow already up. "He *likes* her," he explained. Hera nodded wisely.
Bliss and a little dark haired girl were walked in. "My Ladies, are these yours?" the man with them asked.
"One is," Hera told him. "Were they troublesome?"
The man bowed to her. "No, my Lady, but they were running through the market with some of the cubs and the ferrets, and some worried about their safety." He handed the two children over. "There has been a criminal loose in the market today and we didn't want them harmed."
Artten looked the man over. "They knocked over a what?" she asked finally.
"We think it was the cubs," the man said with a slight smile, "but the game of tag got rather involved and they didn't notice it." He patted Bliss on the head. "When someone yelled at him, he came back to help them pick up. He's very well mannered." He looked at Bliss. "If I may ask, which one is he?"
"He's from the diplomat's planet," Strife told him. "His name's Bliss, and his daddy's a Love God."
The man smiled and bowed. "Thank you." He smiled down at Bliss. "Feel free to come visit again anytime. The young Gods are always welcome in the Market." He backed out of the room, hoping he hadn't insulted anyone.
Hera looked down at Bliss. "Did you knock something over?" she asked calmly.
He shook his head. "It was a kitty," he told her. "They were talking and running and forgot to look out where they were going." Bliss smiled at his girlfriend. "Will you come play with me again?"
"Next week," Grethen told him. "Give them a chance to calm down first." She smiled at the young boy. "You have very pretty wings. None of our Gods have them."
Bliss giggled. "My daddy has them too. His are really *big*!"
"Yes, I've seen him," Artten told him. "I met him and Strife when someone stole Xander." She laughed when she saw the eyeroll Hera did. "We managed to get him back."
Bliss looked at Migrid, who looked determined. They nodded at each other. They would fix it.
Xander woke up warm, comfy, and cuddled. "Hey," he said through a yawn. "What's up?" He noticed he was laying on Cupid's chest and smiled up at him. "Did you need a cuddle?"
"You offered," Cupid told him, giving him a squeeze. "Besides, you'll need the hug when I give you the bad news."
"What bad news?" Xander asked, starting to pout. It had been such a good day. He'd gotten laid, and had nearly died from the pleasure. He had the *perfect* house, courtesy of a little Goddess. He stopped and looked at him. "I heard someone say something about Giles."
"Yup." Oz shifted and stretched. "Eris released him and sent him to go deal with the Goa'uld."
"But he doesn't have any powers," Xander complained. "What can he do against them?"
"He does now," Cupid told him. "Eris released all his powers, gave him a few spells that'll help him enslave them, then sent him across." He gave Xander another squeeze. "You're really comfortable," he said in appreciation. "Strife has all these angles."
"He is kinda skinny," Oz agreed. He wasn't going to snatch his Xander. Cupid looked over at him and grinned, apparently catching that thought. So he snatched him anyway. He wasn't in the mood to share his Xander. "What do we have to do about it?"
"Personally, I'd like to say nothin'," Cupid told them. "Leave him there for a while. He's managed to enslave a few of the higher ups already." He shifted over, snuggling back against the Xander. "When it's time, I'm all for sending Discord to go get him. And no, Xander, you may not go. It's much too dangerous."
"Wasn't planning on it," Xander noted, starting to hum deep in his chest. He was feeling *very* happy.
"Your hormones are broadcasting," Oz whispered.
Cupid snickered. "Yeah, and?" He lifted his head at the growl. "You mean you won't share your toy?"
"Not right now," Oz told him. "My Xander. Get your own."
"There's no other Xanders," Xander pointed out.
"Good point," Oz and Cupid said together. They stared each other down.
"Maybe later," Oz agreed. "If Xander agrees."
"What would Jace say?" Strife asked as he appeared, Hera right beside him with Bliss. He grinned at the guys on the bed. "Wanna camera?"
Xander grinned at him. "We love you too. Did you see the house? It's *great*!" Xander said, trying to wiggle out of the four arms. He wasn't successful. "Hey, Hera, what's with the Bliss guy?"
"He and Migrid were playing chase in the Market and there was a criminal loose so they returned him early." Hera zapped Cupid. "Get him, he's heavy."
Cupid reluctantly let the Xander go and rolled over, grabbing his son to cuddle. "Did you have fun?"
"Yup," Bliss said, bouncing on his father's chest. "We have fun and I give her ring. She pretty and nice. We get married."
Strife blinked a few times. "Excuse me?"
"It's something that kids do," Cupid told him.
Bliss shook his head, still smiling. "We talk, she likes me too. We marry. I tell her we engaged and she agree."
Hera disappeared, going to talk about this with the mothers.
Cupid patted Bliss on the head. "I'm sure she's a very nice girl." He sat up. "Xander, stay here until you have to go back, 'kay?"
"We need to bring Henri up," Oz told him.
"Actually," Strife told them, looking off into the distance. "Xander, get dressed in somethin' impressive and put on your illusion. The boys are in trouble."
Xander muttered as he climbed out of the large bed and headed for his closet. Which was still empty. "Um...." He found himself cleaned and clothed in one of his favorite suits. "Thanks." He grabbed onto Strife and they disappeared, appearing outside a hearing room. "What's going on?"
"Snobs who don't want the boys in the school because their mom's a servant," Strife said quietly. "Go get 'em."
Xander walked into the room and smiled at the shocked look D'Nalia had on her face. "You called?" he asked.
"Sir, do you have something to say in this matter?" the man sitting in the middle of the hearing board asked.
"Yes, I do," Xander said as he walked over to where the boys sat. "I'm their benefactor. I think I'm involved in this. I'm sorry I showed up late, but it was unavoidable." He patted both boys on the head. "You've both grown up quite a lot," he said with a grin. "We'll have dinner later." He looked at the board. "Is this really a hearing, or is this just some snobbery about what their mother does?"
"We feel that the boys' best interest isn't served by them being in such an...uncomfortable environment," one of the females stated.
Xander looked down, then back at her. "Who's uncomfortable? You or them?" He walked up to them and looked the three members over. "I know what this is, it's very obvious, and if you continue, my family has quite a few lawyers at their disposal. Your tactics of hated because their mother is presently my housekeeper won't work." He smiled back at D'Nalia. "Maybe you ought to ask her what her Ph.D. is in."
"She has a Ph.D.?" the male member asked.
D'Nalia stood up. "I have two Ph.D.'s actually. One in biology and one in chemistry. I used to be a virologist, but I retired when I found out I was pregnant." She looked at the Superintendent, the guy Xander was in a staring contest with. "Not only are my sons going to have the best education, but I didn't *need* the job. I enjoy working and Xander gave us a safe place to do so while raising my sons. Just because I decided it was too risky to do my job with a family doesn't mean that I decided to stoop low." She looked over the three members. "You may be trying to have my sons forcefully switched, but I will pursue this in court. I have no qualms about exposing the shitty nature of your school." She smiled at her sons. "As a matter of fact, if I didn't feel that your school was better for my children, I'd have already moved them because of your school's attitude problem. I also don't happen to like your teachers and how they treat anyone there on scholarship, which my sons aren't."
"No, they're not, are they," Xander agreed. "They're on trust fund." He looked back at the members of the board. "You may not know who I am, but I am quite wealthy. All of the proceeds from my writing and my jewelry has to go somewhere, and since I don't have children, these two are getting a lot of it when I pass on." He looked at the snotty woman again. "Is that *good* enough for you?" he sneered.
She swallowed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Harris, we had no idea. We thought that the children were being forced into an uncomfortable environment to better their standings."
"And how are their grades?" Xander asked.
"Mostly A's," the Superintendent admitted. He looked at the boys, then at their mother. Then he banged his gavel. "This matter is laid to rest. The boys will be allowed to stay."
Xander leaned down some. "And there was never any merit," he said coldly.
The man swallowed, remembering who this man was now. "And there was never any merit," he repeated quietly.
The boys whooped and hugged each other, then their mother. Then Sean jumped over the table and came to hug Xander. Xander hugged him tightly. "We missed you guys," he said, smiling at their mother. "I've got some killer stories to tell you guys."
Ian rushed over and hugged him too. "Welcome back, Uncle Xander."
Xander patted him on the head once he let him go. "Not quite yet. I'm on break. I'll be back in about a year." He smiled at them. "But trust me, we're going to have a lot to talk about when I get back and you guys are going to get major prezzies." He walked them back to their mother's side. "Hey," he said quietly.
"Where have you been?" she hissed. "We tried *everything* to get you."
"Not in here," he said quietly, leading them out into the empty hallway. "Oz and I took a short assignment to help Daniel and Blair," he told her in a near-whisper. "We're not exactly staying around here."
She stepped back. "You're what?"
"Have you read the new books?" he asked. She nodded, her face clouding up. "That's where."
She shook her head. "No way."
He nodded. "Definitely way. And they're great," he said with a grin. "Especially the telepathic cubs." He looked down at the boys. "You can't tell anyone, okay? It'll be announced in a year or so, but you can't tell anyone until then." He hugged them both again. "I really should be getting back. Oh, we've fixed Sunnydale and found the most perfect spot in Canada."
"How long before there's a house?" she asked, willing to change the subject.
"Already there," Xander said with a grin. "And we're going to build you guys a separate house." His grin got brighter. "It's so cool. You'll love it." He pulled her into a hug.
Someone cleared their throat behind the group. "I was only doing what I thought was best," the snotty female said quietly. "I'm sorry I was wrong."
D'Nalia looked her over and smiled cruelly at the woman who had been snotty to her since her boys had started school. "If you *ever* grab Ian by the shoulder again, especially if you dislocate it again, I'm going to go to my contacts and I'll make sure that you're very sorry," she said nicely. "I won't allow my boys to be hurt."
Xander looked at her. "Honey, if you *ever* touch or harm these boys again, I'm going to make your life a living hell, something which I excel at. Not only *can* I do what I wrote in that one series, but I *will* over these boys. So I would back the fuck off and go back to your little mansion before I buy it out from under you and run you out of town." He moved the boys in front of him, walking out of the building, their mother following. "You drive," he told her, following her to the car.
"How long are you back for?" she asked.
"Not long. We have to be back in Colorado in a few days. Oz is still in Canada." She looked at him. "I was helped down here by a *friend* who said you needed me."
She grinned. "Okay then. Dinner?"
"I need one of my cards," he added sheepishly. "My friend kinda dressed me and brought me here."
She waved a hand. "Your other bank opened a branch here," she told him. "We got a letter from them."
"How's Henri?" Xander asked as he got into the front.
"She's okay. She's bored, but otherwise she's fine. She's on a cruise right now." She laid a hand on Xander's thigh. "Really?"
He nodded. "Really. You'd love it. They wear almost no clothes. Their planet has less than three million people. It's a matrilineal society and they allow polyamorous marriages. It's so cool."
She nodded. "Okay. I'm looking forward to it."
"A year," he told her, patting her hand. "Let's go eat, I'm starved. Oz and I christened the new house."
She chuckled. "How many rooms does it have?"
"Three bedrooms in the loft, four hidden on the main floor behind the kitchen and living rooms under the loft area, and then a *huge* basement that's a playroom. And it's got killer views"
"Cool." She started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. "How long before Oz comes looking for you?"
"I guess that depends on whether or not someone wants me back there or I need to be here."
"No, you're going home tonight," Strife's voice floated out of the stereo. "Have dinner though, there's no food up there and it's too far out to deliver." The stereo staticed up then started back on the trendy rock station again.
"That was cool," Sean pronounced. "Mom, how did he do that?"
"Dear, that was Strife," D'Nalia told him. Xander looked at her. "He comes to check on the boys for you every once in a while," she admitted.
"That's who got me down here," Xander told her.
She laughed. "He's great."
"Too true," he agreed.
Oz strolled into Stargate Command with Xander on his arm, both of them relaxed, smiling, and happy. "Hey," he said as they walked into the meeting rooms.
"What's wrong?" Xander asked as he sat down. Everyone was frowning.
"Boys, there's been a small problem," General Hammond started.
"If this is about Giles, Strife and Cupid told us," Oz said.
The General relaxed and smiled. "Good. We were worried that you'd want to go after him."
"Not right now," Xander told him, "but I want to keep that open if something major happens and we have to deal with it." The General nodded. "Cool. What else is going on? There were way too many guards up-top for things to be normal," he said at the look he got.
"We almost got invaded by the Goa'uld," the General admitted. "Oz, you're going to be working exclusively with a new military liaison for a few days."
Oz shook his head. "I'm not leaving Xander alone that long. He can come with us, I have no doubt we're going to be up at the palace for a few days."
"Our new house is great and I got a new story done that I was going to have read," Xander said happily.
The General nodded. "However you want to work it out. This liaison is used to working multiple tasks. He's the newly retired JAG."
Oz whistled. "I've heard of him. Very tough but fair." He looked at Xander. "We're finding a way to soothe his hormones down again, they've rebounded back into the stratosphere."
The General sighed. "Are you sure you want to go back?"
"Yes," Xander said firmly. "They have people with the same sort of condition up there. We're going to ask for someone to check on mine and see if there's another alternative, besides wearing them out."
Hammond chuckled. "Good boys. All right, the JAG is waiting on you back at the house. Jack brought him over earlier. Have fun and we'll talk again in a week, Earth time."
"Yes, sir," they said together, standing up and walking away. They walked down the corridors and into the gateroom, waving at the soldiers standing at the ready.
"We'll be back in a few days," Xander called as they walked across the gateway. A guard was waiting on them. "Hi," he said, smiling lightly at her. "What's going on?"
"Nethisha wanted you to come tell her about your vacation," the guard said, nodding at them. "The newest diplomat is already up there."
"Let us go see the animals and we'll be up," Oz told her.
"It won't take long," she promised. "Just a check in and setting up of schedules."
"Okay," Xander sighed, getting onto the cart with her. "We need to ask her to refer us to someone anyway."
"Good point," Oz agreed as he got on too. They flew to the palace, then got off and were led inside. They were led down to a lower level than usual, the prison level. "What's going on?"
"They're down here," she said, leading them to a chamber. She pounded, then opened the door, letting them go inside. The door slammed behind them.
Nethisha smiled at them. "I think we're having problems," she told him. "There seems to be a small coup."
Xander smiled and rushed over to give her a hug. "Don't worry, we will fix this. Who is it?"
"I thought your crown picked the leader," Oz said, looking at the door. He looked over at Methos, who nodded. "Good. Xander, hair stuff?"
"Yup," Xander said, handing over one of his handcrafted hairpins. He looked at her again. "Who is it?"
"A cousin of my third wife. Her daughter is one of those the crown was looking at for further down the succession. I'm sure this will be resolved quickly. She'll have to present herself and her daughter wearing the crown within three days or everything shuts down."
"And the crown, being sentient, won't allow it?" Oz asked. He got out of Methos' way, after giving him a hug. "How long?"
"Two more days," a man said from the far wall. "Harris, Osbourne," he said as he stepped into the light. "I believe we should have met today."
"General," Oz said, shaking his hand. "I've heard of you. Xander, this is the new military liaison. Sir, my husband Xander." He watched as they shook hands. "Don't worry, sir, we're very good at this."
Methos stepped back and shoved the pin back into Xander's hair, right before the door opened. "You," the woman said, pointing at Oz. "Come."
"No," Oz told her. "I don't leave my mate."
Xander carefully pulled a shiv out of his hair and palmed it, holding it behind his back. "You take my mate over your dead body." She pointed a weapon at him and he threw the knife, hitting her in the chest. "No one touches what's mine," he told her dead body. He walked over and shoved open the door. "Shall we?" he suggested. "Oz, take the Queen upstairs." He headed out, going to check the other cells and pray for help. A male and female appeared down the hallway and he walked slowly up to them. "Lady Artten, thank you," he said as he bowed to her.
"I only do Godly combat," she told him, but she was smiling. "You are fine?"
"I'm great," he said with a sheepish grin. "We're getting my hormones fixed." He looked at the man. "Is this your counterpart?"
"No, this is my chosen son, who will fight for Nethisha. You may borrow him," she said, shoving him forward. "Do try not to hurt him too much." She disappeared.
Xander looked him over, nodding. "Cool. Someone's tried to take the crown by force. Nethisha is headed up to try and get it back." The man ran off, going to help. Xander checked the last cell, smiling at the woman inside. "Hey," he said as he released the First Wife and Husband. "She's headed upstairs."
She hugged him and whispered in his ear. "My name is Ris." Then she ran to help her wife.
"Wow," Xander said, following them. He knew her people thought that giving names meant that you had power or control over them. He stopped long enough to find the weapons lockers, and to grab stuff for himself, then headed upstairs too. The fight was on.
"Don't hit the girl wearing the crown," Oz called.
"Or the crown!" Ris yelled, taking on a guard.
Xander nodded, heading for the woman guarding the child. He shot her in the leg, making her scream and the fight stop for a moment. "Let go of the child," he ordered, deciding on the direct approach.
The girl looked at him and this unearthly voice came out of her mouth. "Who are you to interrupt my workings?"
"Who are you to overthrow someone you chose?" he countered, trying to remove the crown. He didn't make it, and he got shocked for it. The woman shrieked and lunged at him, but he dodged her and tried again. They danced around the girl, and eventually Oz made it to his side, but it was his fight. He finally managed to grab the crown, and the girl shrieked. She fainted and he got out of the way of the rushing people. A man stepped in front of him.
"Give me the crown," he ordered softly. Xander gave him a look. "I am a guardian of the crown and it is my job to protect it."
"Nethisha?" he called.
"He is the guardian," she agreed as she walked over. "I want it first though." He handed it over and she examined it. Then she handed it to the guardian. "There's spots on it."
He looked the crown over, then blanched. "I will have them look at it."
"Doesn't she kinda need it?" Oz asked as he stepped closer. "She said that the girl would have to present herself in it."
"They're probably already on their way," Nethisha told him, giving him a pat on the head. "The person who would have to look at it would also have to confirm that the crown wanted the girl." She looked at the girl, then at the crown. "If what happened is like with that other crown, she'll need help."
"She seems to need it anyway," Xander pointed out. "She's not breathing very often."
"Her kind don't," Nethisha told him. "Guards, fetch a physician and put this girl in a room, under watch." The guards hurried to do as they were bid.
"If I may ask," the JAG quietly asked one of the guards. "Why were they fighting for the upstart?"
"The crown is made of a semi-sentient metal," Oz explained. "It picks who will lead and the guards are sworn to it, not the leader." He noticed everyone was looking at him. "It was in the fact book you gave to the diplomats," he reminded them. Everyone went back to cleaning up. "Will this hinder our mission?" Oz asked Nethisha.
"Not necessarily. The girl ordered you confined because she knew you'd help me." She pulled Xander over, looking at his hair. "Where do you store these things?" she asked finally.
Xander wiped off his dagger, which had been handed back to him, then put it back in his hair in the correct spot. "That's where that goes." He touched his hairpin. "That's what Meth used on the door."
She laughed. "You really don't travel without a weapon, do you?"
He shook his head. "It's a very bad idea." He glanced around. "What would you like us to do?"
"The other diplomats have been confined to their house," Ris said as she walked over to their group. "I've sent word to free them and let them go back to your base for their own safety. If you wish to go...."
Xander shrugged. "It doesn't much matter to us. We've just had a vacation and our group was picked because we could protect ourselves." He pulled Nethisha a little closer. "We also need to talk to someone who knows about hormones. Mine have surged again and we know that's going to cause trouble."
She hugged him. "I know of the person to ask, but it will have to wait until this is over." She let him go and backed away. "Xander and Oz cannot go anyway, they need to stay and talk to the representative of the Empire about that planet," she announced. "The other diplomats will be evacuated for their own safety." She walked away, heading for the solarium to check on the cats. Ris shot them a smile before following her wife.
Xander looped his arm through Oz's. "General, would you like to come back with us or would you like to go back to the base?"
"With you, after I stop at the base," he agreed, following them from the palace. "What was that about?" he asked once they were in the Market.
"He has a funky hormone condition," Oz explained. "It leads to him getting kidnaped." He nodded at a young girl. "One of your groupies."
Xander waved at her and she squealed, running over to give him a hug. "How have you been while I was gone?"
"We all waited patiently and pouted," she reported. She looked back at the palace. "Is everything fixed?"
"They think they found out what's wrong and someone's coming to look at the crown," Oz told her. A guard walked up to them. "It was fixed," he announced.
"How do you know about our crowns?" the guard demanded.
"It was in the fact book given to the diplomats," Oz reminded her. She frowned. "Sorry, but it was."
She nodded, looking down at the young girl. "You will ignore that part."
The girl shrugged. "I wasn't going to tell anybody. But that's what we thought happened anyway. We've heard rumors about another crown getting sick and doing the same thing."
The guard's frown got deeper. "You will still not say anything." The girl nodded. So she looked at the diplomats. "Are you going home too?"
"No, we have to stay," Xander told her. "There's someone who wants to talk to me about the planet I ended up stranded on." He glanced around. "We're sorry if we said something inappropriate, we thought everyone knew about the crowns."
The guard relaxed. "Thank you. Don't say any more about it. Those situations are very volatile."
"There was nearly a riot last night," the girl agreed. "Will you be working soon, Xander?"
"Not until this is all fixed," Oz told her. "We don't want to get his coworker hurt, or any of you." She laughed. "So we're going to go home and check on our animals."
"They're all up at the palace," the guard told them.
"We'll call to check on them once we get home," Oz said, starting to walk again. "We'll be at home."
"Thank you," the guard called after them. She nodded at the young girl. "Very well done," she said.
"They're good men," she agreed. "They won't hurt us."
"Good. We don't need more bad men." The guard walked away, going back to her duties. The girl went back to her shopping.
Xander opened the door and watched as all their animals ran inside, followed by Blair, Daniel, and Jack. "Confined with the furries?" he asked Jack.
"They thought we were the bigger threat," Daniel said. He headed up the stairs. "They interrupted our nap."
"It's all good with us," Oz said as he walked out of the back hallway to join his husband at the door. "Were they any trouble?"
"No," the guard said with a blush. "Just the normal ferret routine."
Oz nodded. "Someone end up with one down their shirt?"
"A few people did," she said. "There's one missing, we think it's still in the palace."
"It's not the one with the collar, right?" Xander asked. She shook her head quickly. "Good. They love Dessie." He nodded. "Did you need anything else?"
"I have a message asking for you to come up later tonight. The First Wife will come down to get you." They both nodded. "Thank you for your understanding." She got back onto the cart and left, after handing over a hidden kitten who had come out to bat at her ankles.
"You're such a naughty kitten, Homer," Xander said, smiling at his kitten and rubbing noses with the little furry. "Come on, let's go eat," he told the animals, heading for the kitchen area.
Oz shook his head. He wouldn't be seeing Xander again for many hours.
Xander looked up as someone walked into their living room, nodding at General Hammond then going back to his work. "They all get home okay?" he asked as he finished the paragraph he was editing.
"They got back fine. Are you six all right?" He sat down across from Xander. "Another story?"
"Yup. And even one I'm supposed to be doing," Xander said with an absent grin. "We're fine. The animals are back. They're all fine. Oz has hidden himself in the back room." He looked up. "We're okay. You picked us because we can protect ourselves."
Hammond smiled. "I remember. What happened?"
"There's a disease in the crown," Oz said as he walked in. "It happened with one of the other crowns, or so the rumors go." He handed Xander a sandwich. "The maid's gone."
"Yay," Xander said, going back to his writing. "Oz, does this sentence sound funny?" he asked, pointing at his laptop's screen.
Oz looked at it, then shook his head. "No more awkward than the native language can be." He nodded at the General to follow him. "He's got to get this done, he's presenting it tonight," he explained as they walked toward the back of the house. "We were asked politely to not talk about the crown's problems."
"I see. Is it common knowledge?"
"Apparently, but they didn't think that they told us. I had to keep reminding them it was in the diplomat's fact book." He held the door open to the kitchen. "Jack and Daniel were locked in with the animals so they're starved." He went back to shredding the meat for the begging dogs. "Here we are," Oz said as he tossed down the smaller pieces. He hopped up to sit on the stool next to the counter. "How are the diplomats?"
"Most of them are fine, they've been in this type of situation before, especially Webb. He managed to keep almost everyone calm while they left. They're all being warehoused at the base until they can come back." The General looked around, he hadn't been in the kitchen before. "How is Xander doing?"
"Fine. His hormones aren't out of hand yet. I'm going to have to ...relieve the pressure before we go up to the palace tonight, or he'll end up enslaving a bunch of women," he finished with a wry look. "I'm pretty sure he's going to break out in a spontaneous dance."
The General chuckled. "I'm sure it would take some of the tension out of the situation." He looked around again. "Where did the maid go?"
"She was released from service so no one would be able to hurt her if someone decided to attack the house. We think we'll be getting someone back as soon as this situation is over with. Otherwise, we'll force Meth to cook for us."
Xander wandered into the kitchen, blowing kisses. "Oz, I'm itching again."
"Go shave," Oz suggested. "That way we'll be ready before it's time to go."
Xander looked at him. "I shaved while I was in Florida. I don't need to do it yet." He looked over at the General. "Any new orders?"
"Just to maintain the line," the General told him. "What's this that Webb heard about you and that other planet you ended up on?"
Xander shrugged. "I don't know," he lied. He really didn't want to have squatters rights to a planet, it would really screw up his taxes. "Someone's coming to talk to me about it." He looked over at Oz. "What are we wearing tonight?"
"I laid out clothes already," Oz told him. "Go bathe, I'll jump in with you in a few." Xander nodded and walked away, heading for the bathing chambers. Oz sighed. "I think he's bored."
The General's laugh boomed around the room. "Only that boy could be bored in a paradise like this, even under house guard."
Oz shook his head. "You don't know Xander. Trust me, Xander could easily become bored surrounded by his favorite things and animals, and having sixteen projects in line for him to work on. He's bored."
"No, I'm not," was called from the hallway. "If I was bored, I'd be in the market in that one aisle."
Oz groaned. "No, not more toys," he muttered, holding his head.
The General patted Oz on the shoulder. "Hold on, Oz, it won't be too much longer." He looked around again. "Any idea what's going on tonight?"
"Not a clue," Oz admitted. "I know Xander planned on putting forward his next story for approval. I know that the First Wife wanted to talk to us because she's picking us up personally. Other than that, I'm assuming it's just dinner with people who won't try to hurt her."
The General nodded. "All right. I'll go deal with the diplomats. Come see us when this is over with, one way or another." He headed out, stopping to pet one of the dogs. Who started to follow him. "No, you belong here," he gently chided the animal.
Oz walked out and handed over a small bag. Then he picked up the dog and handed it over too. "We believe our pets pick their owners," he said, then he went to go help his husband bathe.
The General looked down at his dog, smiling when he felt the whip-like tail beating him on the leg. "What are you?" he asked.
The dog barked. Apparently it was happy.
The General walked out with his new friend, stopping long enough to greet the telepathic cat sitting outside the house.
Xander swayed up to the First Wife, giving her one of his best teasing grins. "Did you like it?" he asked.
She hugged him. "I haven't heard a retelling like that in years," she praised. "Very good work." She led him a little way away. "Xander, tell me about this hormonal condition."
"It's basically an over abundance of them, and they attract people to me."
"And those things that you sent from the market?"
"The scent originally attracted just them, but now they've branched out and they attract anyone close enough and able to smell them. Oz really hates it, but I always figured it was part of who I am."
She nodded. "You know that we have people with similar conditions?"
"Which is why Oz wanted us to talk to them. Personally, I think he's just tired of rescuing me," he said with a wink.
Ris laughed. "I'm sure he is." She led him back to the group, smiling at her wife. "He is one who should be marked," she told Nethisha as they walked past her. "He attracts everyone."
Nethisha looked Xander over, noticing how he was moving. "Xander, would you dance for us?" she asked in her sweetest tone.
Xander looked at Oz, who shrugged, then nodded. "Sure. Give me a minute to stretch." He walked over to where he and Oz had been sitting so he could take off his jacket and most of his jewelry. As he stretched with Oz's help, he felt the usual twinges. He needed to practice some more.
"Just relax and let it flow," Oz said softly. "Your body's broadcasting and your nature will come out to play. Just remember that you're mine." He let Xander go, after giving him a long, hard kiss.
Xander moved into the middle of the floor and tipped his head down, letting the music in his head flow through his body. As he moved, he tried to follow the music, wanting to do something different and original. The music in his head flowed from one song to the next without stop, barely changing his rhythm and style. As he moved into the third, starting to sweat heavily now, he noticed the feeling of the room and pulled himself out far enough to see what was going on around him. He stopped when he saw everyone was looking at him.
"Finish it," Oz told him. "It was good."
Xander tried to capture the music, but it was gone. He shrugged and gave them a pitiful look. "I'm sorry, I lost it."
Nethisha pulled him into her arms. "It's all right," she said, her voice warm but husky. "It was better than your usual ones." She smiled at Oz. "I'll give you twenty thousand gold for him."
Oz nearly whistled. Working through the exchange scale that was nearly six hundred million dollars. "Mine," he said quietly, holding out a hand. Xander jogged over and hugged him. "But now that you realize about his hormones, do you think we can find someone to help us blunt them just a little bit?"
"Definitely," Ris said, eyeing Xander. She wouldn't mind having a man who could do things like that either, but she wouldn't interfere with their bond. "We have a few specialists. We'll even send the tape to them, I'm sure part of the power of the dance will come through." She swallowed and looked at her wife, who was all but masturbating right there. "Boys, do you need a ride home?" she asked.
"No, we've got it," Oz said, helping Xander pick up his things so they could go home. "We'll leave the story here for you to look over until tomorrow." He led his mate from the palace, nodding at the bodyguard waiting on them. "Xander danced," he explained. The guard's eyes opened wider, but she nodded and let them out of the gate, following right behind them.
"At least it wore it out some," Xander offered as they walked through the quiet market.
"Yup, which is always of the good," Oz agreed. "I don't think I could have worn that much of it from you." He looked Xander over. "You do want to calm them down, don't you?"
"Yes," Xander sighed. "I wouldn't mind keeping things like earlier, but the attraction part sucks, you know that. I don't want anything that'll take me away from you." He smiled at his mate. "Though I could use a backrub when we get home. That whole bending backwards while doing strange motions with my arms part got to me."
"Sure, babe, you know I'll always take care of you." They opened the front door, smiling at the people waiting on them. "He danced," he explained as he ushered Xander up the stairs. They firmly closed and locked the door, intending to get into some serious wearing out of the hormones.
Daniel looked at Blair. "Do you think that'll cause a riot?" he asked.
Blair shook his head. "No, his dancing always causes happy feelings. Or at least all we've ever seen were happy feelings." He looked at Sam, who was back in uniform. "You think it'll be bad?"
"Only if someone tries to take him again," she offered. "Or if they rush the house to try and make him dance in public."
Blair shook his head. "They broadcasted the one he just did. I doubt they're coming if they're not already here."
Jack coughed. "Did you recognize any of that?"
Daniel shook his head. "It was free form." He took Blair's hand and led him up to their room. "We're going to nap," he called down to his coworkers.
Sam looked at Jack, who shook his head. "Does that mean that you don't feel left out?"
Jack shrugged. "I was married. You get used to feeling left out." He headed for the garden. There was something out there that he could wear out his sexual frustration on.
Sam headed up to her bathroom, she had her own way of dealing with the need.
To Be Continued...