A Normal Life?
Chris Larabee walked into the oval office like it was his office. "Mr. President."
"Special Agent Larabee." He smiled. "I have absolutely nothing planned for the next three days so we can help you figure out what we need to deal with things around here."
"We talked on the plane. You're getting JD first, he's a bit hyper and bouncy but he's smart and very good at what he does. You'll be getting him with Vin Tanner." John nodded. "That's for going out of the White House. In here you'll get the usual guards."
"That's fine. For Xander?"
"Ezra and I are taking him for right now."
"That'll work. See if your nicely dressed teammate can talk to Xander about buying a suit that fits right?"
Chris smirked. "He suggested that necessity himself."
"Good." John smiled. "For this upcoming weekend, I'm going to Atlantis. As you know it'll take an act of some evil being to get to me there. That way you guys have time to set up. Xander's due to stay in town because he's going to something with one of the boards he sits on."
"That's fine. We can work on him and his skills."
"I've had the arms master for Cheyenne teach him about our weapons as well," John warned. "He's presently cooing over his staff weapon at home pretending to have the flu."
"I'd be more than happy to learn those myself. Just in case some get out."
John smiled. "That's pretty rare but if so, go for it."
Chris nodded. "As long as we understand."
John smiled. "Can I ride sometimes if I get someone to take care of my old horse?"
"Sure, why not." Chris smirked. John smirked back. They had an understanding and it would be okay. Chris went to take Ezra to Xander's so they could get used to him.
Xander opened his own door, staring at them. "Gate security before you say a word. That and I kinda have my inside guard tied up to banish the possession he's currently got." He let them inside. "So, what are we doing? And if they forced you, I'm *so* firing a director of something. Even if I have to make him cry and quit."
"No one forced us and they bent over backwards to make sure we'd be fine for the year we're here," Chris said calmly. "Possessed?"
"Yes," he muttered. "My last date." He took them back to the kitchen so he could finish the depossession. Finally his guard was free and Xander untied him. "You go do religious stuff," he ordered. "They're here to help you guys so we can talk until you're done." He nodded and left, wiping off his face. Xander sighed, looking at them. "Beyond the usual excitement in my life, why pick you guys?"
"You listened to us," Chris said bluntly. "And we're used to people jumping in the way you and your boss do." Xander smiled and nodded. "Also, Ezra is one of the better undercover operatives we have."
"Should I keep him out of the press?"
"No need. It'll be fine," Chris assured him.
"Okay, second question. This weekend's event is actually for a pro-gay charity." Chris nodded once and looked at Ezra.
"I have been to such events on a female friend's arm," he admitted. "Though, you need a better suit to be among that particular clique. They will mock you for wearing such baggy attire."
Xander shrugged. "As long as I'm comfortable I don't usually care. Though I'm wearing a nice pair of pants and a sweater. It's not black tie that anyone's told me. I can check with Marian later."
"That would be fine," Ezra agreed. "I'm told you're used to the women in your life making you shop?"
"Yeah, the Xander pack mule years," he sighed, shaking his head. "I still have nightmares about the slayers going shoe shopping." Chris snickered at that, shaking his head. "Seriously," he assured him. "I took twenty-eight slayers school shopping one fall. It took us *five hours* to get through the shoe shopping and another two in Deb." Chris shuddered. "So I don't usually shop. I have a suit shop and they're very nice about fitting it so I can move."
"There's ways of fitting your clothes so you can move that don't require them to be baggy and dowdy," Ezra assured him. "We can handle that tonight?"
Xander winced. "Payday's tomorrow."
"Surely you've not spent all of it?" Ezra asked dryly.
"Hell no, but Willow stole some of it for my retirement account. Buffy's trying to talk her out of it but well... it's Willow and I'm about to paddle her again."
"I know, from the dossiers we got given, that your friends tend to think that they know what's absolutely right for you," Chris said. "We can talk to her."
"She's in Cheyenne."
"He might like to paddle her," he admitted, texting that to John. He got one back. "He said Cam Mitchell made her stop it last night. Apparently I haven't checked since then." He led them to the study to do that. "This house is way too huge for me, guys."
"Thinking about a dog?" Chris asked.
"Thinking but I've never had a pet anything beyond a pet girlfriend." He looked. "No, it's not back. It's...." He switched accounts. "Ah, it's in that account. I really should move that out of Cairo." He sighed and did that.
Ezra came over to look at the first one. "That's more than enough to get you something that fits later on." He patted him on the shoulder. "Look at this bank," he offered, pulling up their homepage. "They're fairly decent and give good interest."
"Baby money is nice," Xander agreed. He sighed and shrugged. "I'll screw with all that later. I have that account, the retirement funds, and my usual checking account here to deal with."
Ezra nodded. "A financial manager perhaps?"
"Then Willow would memory charm him," he said dryly. He did something. "There, the EFT from Cairo's bank is on its way. That about closes that account." His phone rang. "Yes?" He listened. "No, Giles, that isn't the girls' account. That's mine. If you're taking money from my account, I get to throw a Buffy sized fit. No, theirs isn't in Cairo. Theirs is in Morocco because it was easier to get what they needed and the slayer house was closer to there," he said dryly.
"Yes, that's the slayer account. Then I'd put all mine back, Giles. No, if you didn't add the monthly expenses to it, you sure as hell didn't add it to mine. Because I actually check my bank account and if I had seen that twelve grand a month I would've said something," he said bluntly. "You know what, bring me there." He hung up. Nothing for two minutes. He walked off and grabbed something. "Be right back after I scream and yell like a slayer at a rave." He crushed the thing and landed in front of Giles, staring at him. He got into the computer the secretary had, showing him. "The slayer account," he said bluntly. "You've been putting money into it and sucking out of mine."
"I didn't realize they were separate," the secretary complained, taking her laptop back.
Xander stared at her. "You're a crap liar," he said bluntly.
"Xander, that's uncalled for," Giles complained.
Xander glared. "You let Willow steal out of my account too, Giles. Cam Mitchell had to fix that one." He glared at the assistant. "By the way, you tried to close one out on me already. I'd expect a visit from someone since that was a kidnaping reparation when he realized what he had done." She blanched. "That may be why you got that threat in the mail, yeah."
He smirked. "Put it back, bitch, before I rip your head off and piss down your neck. Your species likes it like that I'm told." She got into her computer and started that process for him. He glared at Giles. "I'm changing all my accounts so they can't get into them. Including Willow."
"I still had no idea they were separate, Xander," Giles complained.
"Why would I put their account across the continent from where they were?"
"Well, that is a good point but I had no idea if you had started it at first and then hadn't moved it."
"No, I traveled with it for their expenses since you didn't pay me expense money either." Giles blanched. "Yeah, this has been an ongoing problem." Buffy strolled in with Jack behind her. "Good, Buffy, slay this bitch for trying to steal from me then spank the hell out of Willow for the same cause?"
She nodded. "I talked with Willow. She said it was fixed."
"She sent it to the bank in Cairo that I haven't used in years."
"Oops. Is it still there?"
"Needs to be sent back. I got the EFT started. Then I find out that Giles has been using *my* account for slayer money."
"Double oops," she sighed. "Giles, did you get spelled by Willow this last time too?"
"Excuse me?" Xander demanded. "She's slipping again?"
"You can't paddle her this time," Buffy ordered.
Xander stared at her. "I won't let her get back to that point on the cliff," he said quietly. "Are you?"
"She can't sit today though. Sam Carter took her well in hand and did it for you," Jack said.
Xander stared at him. "Does that mean it's fixed?"
"Hopefully. We don't know why she surged, Xander."
"I do, she wanted to. She was feeling human and decided she could safely start over again."
"Possibly," Buffy agreed.
Willow appeared. "I'm not doing it again!" she shouted.
Xander stared at her. "Then how did you cross the ocean by magic?" he asked. She flinched. She tried to disappear but nope. The office had protections. "I think we need to have another talk, Willow."
"No! I promise I'm not, Xander! I was trying to help you retire!"
"I'm in the Reserves. If there's a problem I'm still going to jump in. Just like Jack and John have."
"You can't! You're normal!"
The secretary snorted. "No he's not! Normal people don't keep possessions the way he does, have visions, or date what he does." She stood up and looked at him. "You won't win reelection."
"I didn't want the damn job in the first place," he shot back, glaring at her. She flinched and tried to run but Buffy got her down and made sure she wasn't doing it to others. "Take that to JD," he ordered. "Let him figure that out. She probably got into John's too." Buffy nodded, having herself beamed back to the White House with the computer. Xander looked at Jack, then at Willow. "I made a promise she wouldn't get back there again."
"I agree, she won't," Jack said. "She needs something to block her backlog." He stared at her. "McKay has new solutions." She tried to leave again but nope. He got McKay there and he scowled at Willow, making her melt and look down. "She's back in 'I know best' land, McKay. Plus she's rebuilding magical stores."
McKay nodded, looking at her. "You're backsliding?" he asked calmly.
"I'm trying really hard not to. I was only helping Xander's retirement account. That way he's not left penniless in a few years."
"He'll get a continual check from his current job for the rest of his life," McKay told her. "The same as Jack does."
"I turned it down," Jack said. "We can live on my retirement."
Xander nodded. "I probably will too. I might keep the health care option though."
"I did do that," Jack agreed. They stared at her. "Well?"
"I know that he has to retire. He keeps getting injured and it's not good for the girls to see that."
"It's very good for the girls to realize they're not alone," Jack told him. "It makes it easier to fight when things are going bad." She shook her head. He looked at McKay, who walked her off to tell her why that was so. He sighed, looking at Xander. "You good, kid?"
"I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be fine? Just a bit pissed at the 'you're normal' shit coming back."
"You're no more normal than I am," Jack reminded him.
"Um, dear, you're normal too," Buffy said as she walked back in.
"No, I'm not. Not after having all that stuff done to me. I'm nowhere near normal and neither is Xander. She was right, you don't have his gifts with being normal."
"He's not a slayer."
"That doesn't make him normal," Jack said, staring at her. "Beyond that, you've used that problem attitude for years to push him aside and he's always saved your ass. Then he has to get unpissed at you. Don't you think maybe it's time you stopped it and accepted he's here, he's decent at what he does, and he knows what he's doing?"
"He's still going to get hurt."
"That's my choice, not yours," Xander said firmly. She flinched. "For that matter, Mistress of the Slayer line, I've been in more battles than you have, alone and with a very minimal slayer force." She glared. He stared back.
"You never should've went to Africa."
"You brats never would've let me grieve in peace, which I needed, or left me alone about my eye." She backed up, staring at him. "For that matter, the brattiness problem? I think I found the cause." He stared at her. "I've done nothing but help you and all the other slayers and you've continually cut me down like I'm weak and helpless. Well, hate to tell you this, Buffy, but I'm not helpless. I never have been helpless. I knew what I was getting into." She opened her mouth but he held up a hand. "I've waited *years* to try to vent this problem. Each time I do, you try again."
"You get hurt!" she complained.
"And you don't?" he demanded.
"You're missing an eye."
"Yeah, and yet I was in that final battle the same as you were. Guarding some of the youngest and most vulnerable of you." She shook her head. He nodded. "Yeah, I was on the right flank the whole time. That's why I wasn't nearer to Anya when she died." She sat down, slumping. "I'm tired of that chorus. I'm a combat vet just like your husband is, only my war was a bit less world ending for about eighty percent of the time. It's not like I didn't save a few slayers by shooting the humans trying to kill them." She flinched.
"Or blew a few up for the same reason. I'm not your fucking whipping post so quit treating me like it and actually see that you still have some friends, Buffy. Because you haven't been a friend in *years*." He used the charm to get home and went to the gym to beat the shit out of something. He slammed the door and locked it before they could interrupt him or try to talk to him. In his current state, he'd snap and start to cry or rant. They didn't deserve that.
Chris looked at Ezra. "Apparently it was a bad meeting."
"Clearly so," he agreed. He listened. "He's hitting the heavy bag."
"We can wait," Chris agreed. He went to check on the kitchen staff. The housekeeper was making him dinner. "He's upset in the gym."
She smiled. "I never feed him directly. He never eats. I always make something he can warm up later." She finished things and put it into the oven. "Let me check his study since he was messing things up." She got the dusting cloth and furniture polish and walked that way.
Chris went to lurk outside the gym. Clearly something had happened. JD called him to tell him that he had found all the money the Council's former secretary had moved and had locked it down so they could move it where it needed to go. She had spent some but not a whole lot, but they knew on what because she had used a debit card. He was informing Sheppard of that so he could get his money back first. Then the rest could go to Xander. Chris agreed and hung up, looking at the door. "JD found it all," he called.
"Yay. Can he find me new friends?"
"Maybe," Chris admitted. "Most people like the boy." Xander opened the door to stare at him. "Nathan and Josiah are both good listeners if you wanna talk to them."
"No, not really at the moment. I just told my former best friend what a shitty friend she was." He closed the door again. "It's gonna be hours, guys. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
"Fine," Chris agreed. "I'm leaving Ezra here." He looked at Ezra, who nodded for him to go. Since he was down a guard, someone needed to stay with the boy. Chris went to get a sitrep from the others and check on the horses since they had been flown out today. Maybe he'd bring the boy out here tomorrow to calm him down some. He had no idea what had started that fight but it was probably something that a heavy bag alone wouldn't cure.
Buffy appeared in a flash of light, looking at John. "I so screwed up. Jack and Xander were right and I need to apologize but Xander won't even answer his phone."
John looked up from his reading in bed. "He's probably asleep since it's two in the morning."
"Ooh. Sorry." She winced.
He shrugged. "I was putting myself to sleep. As for Xander, yeah, apologize for that shit, Buffy. Please? He's been in a storming rage all night according to the reports from his place. So, tomorrow morning, apologize first thing."
She nodded. "I will. Thanks, John."
"Welcome." She smiled and left. He shook his head, turning off the light so he could go to sleep. Thankfully Jack had woken him up so he had time to put on pajamas. He didn't want to know what Buffy would do if she saw him only in his boxers. Or what Jack would do.
Xander looked around the farm the next day. "Drug dealers?"
"Probably," Chris admitted. "How can you tell?"
"They put bling on the barn." He pointed. Chris looked then snickered at the shiny roof-line lights, nodding. "Are you sure they won't bite?"
"Vin's horse will bite. The others will suck up attention if you have sugar cubes." He took him to the barn, letting him get used to the horses, and the new one that was there. He stared at her. She was an old mare. Not beaten down but graying nose fur and a few other gray hairs in her coat showed her age. "I'm pretty sure that's John's horse." He handed the boy the box of sugar cubes. "Hand flat," he warned quietly. Xander put his hand out and Vin's horse ate it then snuffled the boy's cheek. Chris smiled. "Usually Peso bites me."
Xander hesitantly petted his nose, making him a happy horse. "You're sweet." He moved on, feeding the others a treat, including John's horse. She nearly nuzzled him to death for it. Xander cooed, feeding her another then went back around to treat the rest of them again. Ezra's horse lipped his cheek and hair, making the boy grin. "I like you too, sweetheart." He petted him gently, making him happy too.
Vin walked in. "Peso, you up for some yard time?" His horse flattened his ears and glared at him. "Hey," he complained. "Want in the sunlight?"
Xander came over. "C'mon, we can go sun ourselves." The horse glared at him too. "Please? The others can go if you ask nicely."
"They can go out too," Chris agreed. He let them all into the paddock. John's horse kicked up her heels and trotted around being happy. The boy laughed but leaned on the fence. Ezra's horse came over to nuzzle him for more sugar, getting a Larabee glare. "You've had plenty." The horse ignored him. "Ez, your horse is learning how to mug people," he called.
Ezra came out with bottles of cold water. "That's enough," he said firmly. He looked at the horse he didn't know. "John's?" Chris nodded. "Wonderful." He petted his own horse, giving him a piece of carrot.
"Do the others get jealous?" Xander asked.
"If they do, they can beg their humans. The same as every other pet does." He smiled as his horse trotted off. The boy got a bottle of water, letting John's mare come drink some from his hand. Vin went to fill the trough for them, smiling the whole way. "You do seem to like animals."
"I like animals more than I do some people. Unless they're attacking or something. Because the ones who tried to eat me sucked but usually tasted okay."
Ezra laughed. "Most of them are tasty, yes." The mare nudged him and got an extra sugar cube, dancing off to play some more. "She's clearly lively." JD pulled up with John, both of them walking over. John's horse whinnied loudly and jumped the fence to nuzzle her human.
"I missed you too, Blossom." He petted her, making her a happy horse. "Good girl." He saw Xander watching and waved him over. "C'mon." He came walking over. Blossom nuzzled him. "Ah, gave her sugar," he said dryly. Xander smiled and nodded. "Here, pet her here and you'll have a pretty good friend for life." Xander scratched the spot on her neck. She groaned and let him do whatever he wanted. When Xander got done, he walked Blossom back to put her back in the paddock. "Go play and we'll ride in a bit." She went back to playing. He smiled at Chris. "Thanks."
"You more than most need the mind clearing time," he said. He watched the boy, who was staring at the trees. "Kid?" he called quietly.
"Shh," Xander said, waving a hand. He squatted down, staring at the same spot. Then he got up and slowly walked over. "You poor thing," he crooned, carefully moving closer. They all heard a roar and John pulled a gun. "It's all right. I won't let them hurt you, sweetheart. Yes, that's a good girl." He growled when she snarled, making the cub whimper. "Such a good cub." He picked her up like a mother cub would and tucked her into his arms. "Such a good cub," he cooed. She whined. "Guys, do we have any milk? She's barely got opened eyes," he called.
Ezra looked over. "What is it?"
Ezra blinked, looking at Chris. "How on earth?"
"No clue," Chris admitted. "Vin, get him some milk while we get DNR here." He jogged up to the house and came back with a small bowl and a carton. Chris called their contact number for the communication officer handling the agents on guard. "It's Larabee. No, not an attack," he sighed, cracking up John. "We're at the farm and Harris just found a cheetah cub. Thanks." He hung up. "They'll come over soon, kid."
"Sure. We're good." He and Vin let the thing drink all it wanted. "They're so soft," he said quietly.
"They are, all cubs are," Vin agreed. "But you can't have it near the horses."
"I know. Horses are like gazelle." He grinned. "Gazelle tend to freak out about my scent so I was hoping horses were nicer and they are."
"They usually are. Ours are mostly smart ones." A truck pulled up and Vin looked then waved. "He found her in the bushes."
The DNR agent walked over slowly. "Is she hand-raised?"
"Yeah," Xander said with a smile. "Barely has her eyes open. Let me pick her up and move her away from the trap I found."
Vin looked and went to fix that problem. "Bear traps," he called. It snapped and the cub flinched but Xander purred and she calmed down again once she was tucked up against his chin. Vin stared. "I've seen bigger hunting cats do that before."
"That's how I learned it," he admitted.
"We can have the woods checked," the DNR agent said. "Can I, sir?"
Xander cooed and handed her over. He cuddled it the same way, making it quit shaking. He smiled at him. "You're good."
"I learned in the wilds." He grinned back, giving her another pet. "You'll have a nice life somewhere safe, dear."
Chris came over. "She really is a baby."
"Yup," Xander agreed. He handed him the milk. He heard another trap snap and a swear. "You okay?" he called.
"I'm good but she had a family." He came out to look at the agent. "The momma's ear tagged like a deer." The DNR agent grimaced. "Two other cubs, both shot. This one apparently got real lucky."
"Thanks." He took her back to the truck and then came to get the remains. Xander grimaced staring at them. "Someone will be charged, sir."
"Thank you." The DNR agent put the dead ones into the back of the truck and got in to drive off. The cub was trying to climb into his shirt so he let her sit wherever she wanted.
"Maybe the National Zoo will have a new cub," Chris said quietly. Xander grinned at that. "Did you bring another shirt? The horses will freak out if you smell like her."
"Um.... Did I put an emergency pack in your truck?"
Chris nodded. "I remember you putting something in there."
"Then probably. Can I bum the shower?"
"Sure. Good plan." He took him to do that. The bag got a longer look once the boy was inside. Crossbow, bolts for the crossbow, six guns, with various clips and types of bullets, two knives, one small axe, and a small sword. Ezra looked over his shoulder. "No artillery."
Ezra looked at something and pulled it out, holding up the shrunken box. "I believe someone was a Harry Potter fan," he said dryly. Chris put it back, shaking his head quickly. "At least he's not wearing it."
"True, he's leaving it in the bag," he agreed. He put it back into his toolbox and went to the horses. "Vin, you change?"
"Yeah, and scrubbed my arms." He walked Xander back out when he came out tucking in a new shirt. "Thanks."
"I wouldn't want them to freak out." He walked back over. Blossom nuzzled him, ignoring John for a few minutes, then went back to her human. "I like you too, Blossom."
John smiled. "My mother named her." He looked the boy over, then at Chris. "Think we can get him onto a horse soon?"
"After we clear the woods," Chris agreed. Xander beamed at him, bouncing some. "It's not hard and it's relaxing."
"Usually I clean weapons for that."
"This'll be a better option," Chris assured him with a smirk.
"Maybe." He cooed at Ezra's horse, getting nuzzled and lipped again. "Such a good boy."
Ezra shook his head, waving the curry comb. "Want some more work on your coat?" He got ignored. That was unusual. He came over to save the boy. "I doubt he has more sugar."
Chris snickered, getting the bag from the barn. Xander liked to spoil the horses and they were being good today. Even Peso wasn't biting today. He was proud of the horses. They'd get the boy back to a normal guy again sometime soon.
Ezra walked into Xander's room that night. "Grab things and let's go."
"To make you pretty enough that all the gay men at the dinner this weekend won't snipe at you." Xander grimaced and shuddered. "It is necessary. You can be comfortable and still look nice." He walked him out, taking the new financial packet from JD. "All the new ones?"
"Yup," JD said with a smile. "It's all been moved to a safer bank and they were warned that he knows a hacker. The new credit card and debit card are both in there too."
"That shall work," Ezra agreed. He took Xander out to his car. It was safer than a formal trip with more guards. Xander looked around the area of the city they went to oddly. "You've never been down here?"
"No, I went to Jack's suit shop."
"That explained a lot." He smiled as he parked and got the boy into the store. "Gentlemen." They smiled at him. "I'm sure you know my compatriot."
"He needs to be comfortable. He's very much a man of action."
"I need to be able to defend myself if something happens," Xander agreed.
"We can help with that," one of the salesmen said, coming over to show him nice things that would make him look nicer. Xander shook his head at one thing but they made him try one on anyway.
Ezra looked. "That doesn't show your assets too much but would be appropriate to keep all the old biddies in the Senate from pinching."
Xander looked at him. "They're kinda hateful. They never pinch me."
Ezra smiled. "They'll get over it."
"Maybe. Maybe when I get to retire."
Ezra smirked. "It will be sooner than that I'm sure." He handed him a shirt. "That would look nice on him."
Xander got talked into trying it on and it was better. He looked successful, hot, and handsome. "Wow," Xander said.
"Indeed," Ezra said. "We'll take them." He handed over the boy's debit card. They ran it and then the credit card. "I will have to club JD over the head."
"Are we sure it wasn't Willow?" Xander asked dryly. "In the emergency bag I slid into everyone's trunks, there's some cash." Ezra went to check on that, bringing it back. He called JD on the way. He checked and told him what was going on. JD decided to make sure Willow couldn't hack the boy ever again. They got everything back for him and it was resettled. Ezra came back and nodded. "It's fixed?"
"Yes, JD is a much better hacker than she might ever be." He smirked and took the bags, taking the boy to the car. He had a few more planned stops. Then he'd go through the boy's closet and fix things on him. The next one was a suit shop. Xander made a whining noise. "You will look just as nice," he assured him. "Unless you wanted to go higher end shopping?"
"No. I'm not the sort to own suits."
"For the next three years you have to have a few." He walked the boy inside and the clerk in there sighed in pleasure.
"Finally someone brings you to us, Mr. Harris."
Xander shrugged. "I have to be comfy and able to move if I have to defend myself."
"Yes, but those other things do nothing for your butt." He walked him off to measure him. Xander tried on something but it was too baggy. They got him into something that fit correctly but the boy balked. "Why not?"
"Because if we're attacked, I have to be able to move," Xander said. "I can't move in these. These will tear since they're so tight."
"There's ways of adding fabric without making them too baggy," Ezra said, going to look. He found a different fabric. "Here, try this on. It's got a bit more give as a fabric. It's a lot more hardy at the thicker versions." Xander nodded, taking it to try on. He looked at them. "He uses a sword as well." The clerk grimaced. "He's very hot with one."
"I saw him at that last battle," he said quietly.
"He's still attacked now and then." That got a nod and something different got selected and put in for him to try on.
Xander came out in the first. "They're a bit tighter. I know I can't sit in them."
"We don't have the bigger size right now but we can find something," the clerk said. "The color doesn't do much for you either."
"He's going to the dinner this weekend," Ezra said.
"We have something very nice," he assured him, going to the highest end room. He came back. "This is a heavy silk, which will not tear." He smiled. "Even if you have to roll around on the ground due to a bad boy or girl."
Xander smiled. "It's been a while since I had a bad boy." Ezra looked at him oddly. "After some of the women I dated? Yeah, I went for something less complicated. They never were intended to be long term things but they were nice while they lasted." The clerk smiled at that but the smile didn't go for his eyes. "That was their choice, not mine."
He shrugged. "Some men only want the O."
"I had a former fiancee like that. She was all about the O, all day long. Every day. Eight, ten a day if possible." The clerk gave him an awed look. Xander nodded with a grin. "She was neat. We were still in Sunnydale then." Cordelia faded in and scowled. "And of course, my single fashionable ex. Yes, Cordy?"
"That color will look bad on him. Make him look like a gigolo. He should be."
"I can banish you again," Xander quipped. "I'm going to a gay charity event."
"Hopefully someone there will adopt you," she quipped. "That way that bounciness of yours is finally cured."
"If I find someone there I'm interested in, I'll gladly glut myself on them until they got tired of me. Wouldn't be the first." She glared at him. He smiled. "After I lost Anya, I had a few brief flings that didn't want more than that." He shrugged. "Why would I be worried about that?"
"People won't like that," she sneered.
"Why do I care?" She gave him a funny look. "I didn't ask to be appointed. I was in the hospital recovering from liver damage actually."
"Oh. Then you don't want to go higher?"
"When was the last time you saw me freak out?" he asked.
"The other day when you lost it on Willow."
"No, I meant really freak out. Like the breakdown after Grad."
"About three months ago," she admitted.
"Now you know why."
She huffed. "The Powers don't like this job of yours."
"They're the ones that let us get elected."
"Fine, whatever. Go looking like a pimp so they cure this bounciness before things happen." She gave him a pointed look.
"I always have a gun on me, dear. You know that. Plus an emergency kit within reach." She groaned, fading out. He shook his head, looking at Ezra. "Apparently someone thinks I need laid again. I wonder if the last agent I saw is in town. She was fun and cute."
"I heard she had a problem getting to work on time," Ezra said, hiding his shock.
"Well, yeah, I made her a bit sore with all the sex." He shrugged. "This one's a little tight across the shoulders and I can't sit." They got to work fixing it, giving him worried looks. "That was my ex Cordelia. She used to be head cheerleader. We'd snark at each other then go make out in closets." They both laughed at that. "Yeah, that was foreplay for her. Too bad she's kinda not touchable or I'd break my bounciness streak again with the way she was staring at my butt."
The clerk cackled and got him pants to show that off and that were better fitting. "I like this color," he decided. "I wear it a lot in my t-shirts." They nodded and got him prettied up for that night. Ezra made him go to another store and picked out cufflinks plus a few new shirts. That was nice. They went home, Ezra told Chris what she had said while Xander went to work out since he hadn't yet that day. Then Ezra got to clean out the boy's closet. He had to have better tastes.
John looked at the report Buck gave him, giving him a smug look. "No, Bethany's not in town. She transferred to Oregon so she wouldn't be tempted to take him out again." Buck snickered. "It was nice it took her over a day to recover from the good sex." He went back to the paperwork. "Where is Xander going this weekend?"
"Which of you guys is going?"
"I think Vin's going as the backup security with Ezra. I'm not sure though, Chris hasn't decided. Every time he goes to those, he gets pinched a lot so he tries to avoid them."
John nodded. "Me too for the same reason." Buck left him alone. John smirked. Maybe Xander would find someone nice there. He could use someone nice. Or maybe a lot of someones nice. With Xander, you never knew.
Xander walked into the event, smiling at the hostess. "Thank you for letting me come do something worthwhile this weekend," he said.
"It's an honor. Usually the white house doesn't pay much attention to us."
Xander shrugged. "I've dated some really nice guys in the past." She gaped. He smirked. "They didn't want anything more than fast."
"That's a shame." She walked him off. His guards were behind them. "I know a few very nice agents in here." Xander beamed at that suggestion. She walked him over to one. "Agent Stevens."
"Ma'am," he said, staring at his boss. "Sir."
"Relax." Xander shook his hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
He grinned back. "Is this why Bethany said she had to move?"
"No. I think I wore her out too much. The message she left on my voicemail said I wore her out too much." He shrugged. "Then again, my past lovers usually complained about that."
Agent Stevens laughed and pushed back some of his dark hair. "That's good to know, sir."
"Xander. I hate being sir'd."
"Fine, Xander then." He grinned. "Which table are you at?" He walked him off to check. They got settled and he sat next to him to talk to him. Xander was clearly good for his career but also very bad for him personally. It was a heady combination. The guards were ignoring it, focusing on the room. When the music started he managed to talk the guy onto the floor, making him blush because he wasn't much for slow dancing but he moved well. At least until he stiffened in his arms. "Sorry," he said quietly.
"No, I just heard someone yell," he muttered. He looked around while they were dancing. Ezra pointed at him to stay out there, they were handling it. He relaxed slightly and smiled. "They apparently have it."
"That's their job," he agreed with a smile of his own. "I'll protect you for now."
"I don't need much protecting usually but fun I could use more of." Brian, as he found out what his name was, got happy with that thought, earning a wink and a smirk. They could get some happies later maybe, if the situation wasn't too bad. Finally Vin came back without Ezra. "Need help?" he asked quietly.
"Ezra is having the fighting couple arrested. She found her wife here and got pissed off," he said quietly. "So we're clear." Xander nodded, changing Brian for Vin for the next dance since it looked awkward. "I'm not used to this stuff, sir."
"I told you I'm Xander, even if you're guarding me, Vin. And relax. Neither am I. I'm used to clubbing, not formal stuff." Vin grinned at that. "Makes no sense to come to these things and be bored like you were." He let him go and went back to Brian. Vin got a bit teased by Ezra when he came in but when Brian got a sudden call out, Ezra danced with him instead. "Thank you."
"There is no end to the call-outs some nights," he admitted. He led him back to the table. It was a nice event. "Very nice DJ."
"Very," Xander agreed. "I'm still more used to clubbing than this."
"That would be a dangerous hobby to partake of," Ezra pointed out. "Many too many variables to deal with. Many people, liquor fueled aggressions, and drug induced stupidity. Plus you probably wouldn't be able to remove anyone for a discreet dalliance in the back room."
"Which is a sucky thing. Though if you're doing it right you can get happy on the dance floor."
Ezra looked at him. "Usually that's frowned on."
"That depends on the club you're in," Xander countered with a grin. "Some of the underground ones it's all good."
"Definitely not while we're here," Ezra said.
"They're for younger guys anyway," Vin reminded him with a grin.
"I know. I feel horribly old some days already." He shrugged and sipped his water. He grimaced and handed it over. "Funny tasting citrus stuff."
Ezra tasted a bit and shrugged. "They used Spanish lemons instead."
"Oh, okay. I've only had lemonade and pie lemons." He shrugged and took it back to sip. He looked around. "Hmm. E news is here." He pointed. They glared at the reporter. Xander snickered. "They do love to stalk us, guys."
"Of course they do," Ezra agreed. "You're single and powerful. They want to know what you're doing and who you're doing."
"I never do anything interesting these days," Xander said with a shrug. "They would've had better stories back when I was in Africa or working in Cleveland."
"For some of that they'd need to spend millions to remake for the big screen," Vin teased.
Xander smirked. "You have no idea, Vin. Really." He looked over as someone came up to him. "Hi."
"Mr. Harris, may I have the next dance?" he asked, flashing his ID at the guards.
Ezra nodded. "He's safe." Xander smiled and let himself be led out there. He watched. "We do have to get the boy more used to dancing like a man instead of a boy."
Vin shrugged. "All that stuff confuses me, Ez."
"I know." He went out to take the next dance. "Let me lead," he said once he had Xander in his hands. Xander smiled and nodded, letting him show him how it was done.
"Should I put on heels?"
"Why would you?" Ezra asked.
"That's how the girls finally taught me rhythm."
"No need this time." He made sure he had it for the next dance and handed him over to another agent. Who suspiciously got called out as well.
Xander came back from his last dance smiling. "I think their boss is paranoid since that was a call-out to the main building and the director's office," he said quietly.
"You could be quite politically dangerous," Vin agreed. "Good agents don't do that though."
"No, we do not," Ezra agreed. "They probably see a possible backlash by you being here. The conservative sort," he said at Xander's clueless look.
Xander shrugged. "Screw 'em. I'm not hiding who I am for anyone. They already hate me anyway. They don't like John for not having a present wife. Because they decided he should run out and purchase one or something to make him appear more family friendly," he said dryly. "Me too apparently."
"I think that would have caused more problems," Vin said. He shrugged. "But I don't pretend to understand those sort anyway."
Xander shook his head. "Me either." He smiled at a young woman walking his way. "Yes, miss?"
"Can I have this dance, sir?"
"As long as you call me Xander," he teased. He stood up and walked her out there to dance with her.
"Any idea who she is?" Vin asked quietly.
"One of the stand-in weather girls at one of the local news stations," Ezra said dryly. "She's not asking him any questions though."
"That's nice of her," Vin agreed. Xander quipped something and she giggled and said something, making a conversation start. Xander gave her a dirty look over something but she grinned and winked, making him laugh. "Hmm. She's cute at least."
"I doubt he'll ask her to sneak over," Ezra said. "That would draw too much attention."
"True." They watched as they broke up and Xander came back. "No more dances?"
"She wanted the status." He sat down and watched the room. The reporter for E news was having an orgasm to her camera. He pointed. "She's going to need to change clothes soon," he hissed. Vin looked then cackled.
Ezra smirked at him. "Quite possibly from the drool as well." Xander nodded. "You should ask her to dance, get it out of the way."
Xander smirked. "Preemptive strike? I like that." He smiled at the man walking over to him. "After you," he decided, taking him out to dance, making him a happy Sergeant. Then he went to interrupt her report. "May I have a dance?" She gaped at him, microphone falling out of her hand. He grinned. "You probably want to ask something anyway. Best get it out of the way and I'm sure you could use some movement outside of this corner." He held out a hand.
She took it and walked off, letting him dance with her while she asked nosy questions. He dodged most of them and answered only one fully. She pouted about that but oh well. She went back to her report. She was still gushing and happy but he wasn't going to give her an exclusive interview.
Xander walked past the press secretary the next day. "Who yelled for me to come in today?"
"Everyone. You're gay?"
Xander stared at him. "I like personalities. Want me to talk to them?"
Xander walked into the press corps room. "Who's whining about what now?"
"Sir, you're gay?"
"I've dated both men and women but none of the men I dated have ever wanted something more than fun. They told me I'm meant for sin, not for heaven." He smirked.
"Sir, when did you come out of the closet?" one shouted.
Xander stared at her. "I've never been in a closet for more than making out," he said dryly. "Everyone who knows me knows that. I've never hidden anything. I'm a very blunt, take me as I am because I'm not changing for anyone, sort of man. I don't care who doesn't like it. Whether they be fundies or family oriented people who I usually just freak out because of the Council stuff. Even if it's the hippies I don't care. I'm not going to change who I am for anyone." He stared them down. "You guys didn't appoint me for my dating record. Hell, most of the guys I've seen were slightly nicer than the women. None of them were arms dealers." He smirked as he walked off.
"How many were assassins?" John asked as he walked past him.
"Two, both Russian. There for a bit I thought they were stalking me but it turns out they were teammates and the first bragged," he said with a grin. "He's the one who told me I was built for sin instead of for heavenly pursuits." He smirked. "Want to yell at the director of the FBI for pulling his guys out for dancing with me?"
"Yup," John agreed. "Because that's stupid of him." He went to have that talk with him. He agreed, Xander should be happy. Preferably with an honest, slightly dangerous man who would keep him happy in bed as well. Hopefully he'd get to wear the goofy look Buffy made Jack have most of the time.
Chris watched Xander as he sat on JD's horse. JD was at the white house right now so Chris was giving him his first riding lesson. "Don't shift too much. It'll rub the saddle against her coat." Xander quit shifting. "You comfy?"
"Not quite." He shifted once more and nodded. "There, more like riding.... Never mind."
Chris smirked. "She's a bit wider than most of the guys you've probably played with, Xander." He took the reins and walked her around the paddock, making him get comfortable with that. Xander was grinning like a little kid. It was good to see. He handed back the reins. "Okay, not too loose or too tight." Xander nodded, putting them like Chris had shown him. Then Chris let him walk around the ring on his own. "Nice job." Xander grinned again. "Go around a few more times."
"Willow told me a fair she went to had rides like this."
"Some do," he agreed. "A few of the pony rides aren't run by good people but some are nicer." He helped the boy stop. "Now, let's dismount. Your butt's going to be sore."
"I have a huge temporary tub," he quipped.
"Ever think about buying yourself a place for after all this?" Chris asked.
Xander shrugged. "I don't make plans that far in advance. They tend to get ruined." He petted the horse gently. "Thank you, my dear. You were much more fun than a matron scowling at me today." The soft nose nuzzled him and let Chris take off her saddle. Chris taught Xander how to tend to her coat and then they let her go play.
"Maybe you should make a few plans," Chris said finally. "You probably don't want to go directly back to the slayer camp in Cleveland. You'll probably want some time getting used to people not staring at you so much."
Xander nodded. "Maybe."
"You're making more than enough to afford a house somewhere."
Xander shrugged. "I have no idea where I want to end up." His phone beeped with two text messages at once. "Huh." He read the first one. "The head diplomat said I cannot embarrass them again. Oh, and Prince Ral is here." He smirked. "I wonder what I did to be embarrassing this time." He called that one. "What did I do to embarrass you this time?" He listened to the careful instruction on not taking any diplomatic gift. "Isn't that rude?" He sighed. "I know, that would mean I was showing favor. But hell, if all my ex's gave me more stuff would you complain?" The man hung up spluttering. Xander looked at Chris. "I have to reappear at the hotel downtown to talk a former boyfriend into not giving the US a new present. I'll see you there?"
"You don't get to drive by yourself," Chris reminded him dryly. He put the horse up and drove him back to his place so he could change and get pretty. He looked him over. "Go change into something Ezra bought you," he ordered. "You look more sloppy than usual."
"The last time he saw me I was in jeans shorts and a t-shirt," Xander complained but went up to do that. He came down dressed casually but better.
Chris gave it a long look. "Those aren't what Ezra bought you but fine." He walked out with him, taking him to the right hotel. He ran into Vin and JD there. "Your mare's back up," he told JD. "The kid rode around for a bit and got the hang of it pretty easily."
"I've ridden a camel," Xander reminded him with a grin.
"A lot different than a horse. Most horses don't spit." He looked at his teammates. "What's going on?"
"Sheppard came to greet the Princes who came in for some minor shopping and banking stuff. They wanted to talk to Xander for some reason," Vin reported.
"He looked really happy to see John and talked about knowing Xander," JD reported.
"Yeah, he caught me taking down a hellgate when he was on vacation in Jordan," Xander admitted. He smiled at John as he walked up with Buck. "They fussy?"
"No. They're very happy." He clapped him on the arm. "I'll see you later for our meeting."
"We have a meeting?" Xander asked, looking confused.
"With the head diplomat."
"Oh, him. He told me I couldn't accept any presents." He shrugged. "I think he's having a seizure." He walked off, Chris following. The guards on the suite's door stared then one smiled and opened it. "Thanks, Riyad." He walked in. "Prince Ral and Prince Sel." He bowed and smiled. "Nice to have you here in DC."
"Xander," Ral said, coming over to hug him. "My wife wishes to meet you." He winked. "She was most pleased that remembering meeting you gave us a son." He walked him off to meet his wife and son. Xander cooed over the baby and her, making her laugh but shake his hand.
Xander grinned at them once they were done with the greeting stuff. "Why did the head ambassador have a hissy and tell me not to embarrass him?"
"I have no idea," the wife said. "I believe he wanted you to not accept the present we have for you for helping us conceive a son."
Xander shrugged. "I'm told I'm not allowed to accept presents at all," he admitted. "Which makes dating kinda hard sometimes." They all laughed and nodded. "I'm happy he's healthy and that I could help."
"Still, it would be rude not to accept it," she pointed out.
"I leave that stuff to the diplomats." He looked at her. "I got told he was going to paddle me this time."
"Hmm. We'll work that out then," she promised. She patted him on the knee. "My husband said you should shop more."
"My new guards took me the other day. We raided a great many stores."
Prince Ral smirked. "Perhaps but not enough." He looked him over. "You looked more comfortable in those silly looking shorts, Xander."
"I know but I can't wear jeans to the Senate and to things." He shrugged. "I do what I must until I can flee in relief."
"We understand fully," Sel told him with a smirk. "I do much the same some weeks."
"It must suck to be even closer to being in charge," Xander told him. "I'm glad I only have to do little things." They all grinned at that. "Though the press will drive me to drink someday soon."
"I fully understand that," Ral agreed. He glanced at Chris, then at the boy. "My brother needs a favor as well," he said quietly.
Xander looked at him, then at his brother. "What sort of favor?"
"We have three daughters. Two we believe are future slayers." Xander winced. "It is an honor but painful."
"I can recommend how to train them before they get called. That way they're ready in case something happens."
"We have some of the best trainers from multiple militaries," he assured him with a smile. "It was a wise thought though. No, my wife wishes a son."
Xander nodded slowly. "How can I help with that?"
"We believe that what you did for my brother helped him," he said bluntly.
Xander nodded. "I'm not against that," he admitted with a smile. "But I'm not sure how I helped him have a son."
"Hmm. Nothing special?"
"No. Not that I remember doing. It was good, very good, but I don't remember casting on him or anything."
"I understand. Can we try anyway?"
"Of course. I know how important it is for you to have a son." He looked at Chris, who casually went to look out the windows. "When would be a good time for your wife?"
"I'm told I have a meeting with John later and the ambassador, but otherwise I think I'm free." He smiled. The prince smiled back and led him to meet his wife. They could do so now. Xander did pull out something to put on. "I was wearing this so maybe it helped." He took off all the other jewelry then his clothes. The prince did the same.
Chris looked over at the noise, shaking his head. "I hope he gets the son he wants," he said at the other prince's look at him. "A son does a man good." He knew what importance they had for the Middle Eastern families. He went back to staring outside and ignoring them. When the baby fussed he looked but left it alone. The mother handled it well. They had staff to help her too he was sure. Xander finally came out a few hours later looking a bit sweaty but calm and collected. Chris raised an eyebrow at him. Xander smiled and they left after he fussed over the baby again. Once they were in the car, Xander shrugged. "No idea why?"
"No. I'm hoping it worked. If not, I have no idea how to help him," he said quietly. His phone beeped again. "That got annoying an hour ago." He looked at the text message. "John's impatient." Chris drove them that way. "It's much nicer doing it this way instead of with a limo and a security escort."
"It is," Chris agreed. "Plus less attention on you so it's safer." He pulled into the White House, getting a nod for them to go in. Chris parked and walked Xander into the oval office. "Sir, safely as ordered."
"Thanks, Chris. Xander, what did they want to give you?"
"No idea," Xander admitted. "They know the diplomat said I couldn't accept anything." The head diplomat sighed. "They're shopping for their son."
"I saw him. He's adorable. Why are you an honorary godparent?"
"I met his father while I was taking down a hellgate in Jordan. He was on vacation."
"Oh. Okay." John smirked. Xander gave him a look. So yeah, he understood why he had a son. Xander had prompted it. "The other one?"
"His wife is currently working on a non-daughter. He has two that have the mole problem. He said he's already made sure they have excellent trainers."
"Even better." John smiled. "Are you going to have dinner with them?"
"If they ask." He smiled at the diplomat. "Are you doing being huffy?"
"Small things that we can show off in the White House are one thing but they traveled with something quite large, sir. We have to worry about such things. It's a bad thing and it looks like you're giving preferential treatment."
"Since when have I made the laws?" Xander asked.
"You do have influence, sir. In the Senate and in other areas."
Xander stared at him. "You know most of them hate me for not being like them, right? Some of them are downright scared as hell of me sometimes."
"Oh, I see. Well.... It's still against policy, sir. Small diplomatic gifts are one thing. Big gifts are not."
Xander shrugged. "Whatever. If they give me something I'll warn you. We'll call it in thanks of taking out a demon in their country a few years back." The man nodded at that. He looked at John again. "Anything else I have to be nagged about today?"
"The press is having a field day with you at the ball, Xander. Though you did look very nice," John said.
Xander grinned. "Thank Ezra for that. He took me shopping. Other than that, I've never hid it."
"I know." He smiled. "When's the next bad apocalypse since they seem to come every few years?"
"Every three years we get a bad one and it's due next year in the spring."
"Right before midterm primaries yet again," John sighed, shaking his head. "That means it'll be the year after the presidential election."
Xander smirked and nodded. "Yup. Definitely. Thank the Goddess for that too." He looked at Chris with a grin. "Things are going to get insane with the midterm primaries and people proclaiming they're disgusted with us."
"I've seen it in effect."
"The Senate will have wannabe speech makers," John warned. "He's managed to hide a headset a few times."
"Sure," Chris agreed. "We'll be watching for weapons instead." John smiled at him. "Your mare is doing fine."
"I was out late last night with Buck to fuss over her. She's been a good horse." He smiled at Xander. "We'll get to take a team ride together so we're all safe pretty soon."
Xander beamed. "I'd like that." He looked at Chris. "The national park has a rental horse thing. I looked it up."
"That'll work," he agreed. Xander grinned. "Let's get you home so you can rest and have dinner." Xander smirked at that suggestion. They walked out together.
John got Chuck in there. "Remind the guards that the primaries are coming up for the midterm election so we'll have the talking heads going off again. Also tell them that the next apocalypse battle is next year." He nodded and went to pass that around. "That's a relief. They'll let us go because they won't have a recent battle in their memories."
"If you're sure, sir," the ambassador said, leaving him alone to fantasize about a normal life again.
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