The demonic council met in the small room at the back of the old building. No one knew it was there. You had to be high enough to be able to teleport to even get into the room and most of the lower demons who thought they could join it when they heard were killed off for being arrogant little demons. The six member council sat around and looked at each other. "Hunters are on the rise," one said. "With all the recent media and stories going out, plus some of the less careful being over enthusiastic, we're making more hunters than are good for the community."
One sneered. "No hunters are good for us."
"They keep down the population of stupid ones so we don't have to be bothered," the first shot back with a glare. He looked at the oldest ones in the room. "How did we used to deal with it?"
"That will not work. We can't simply start a new plague. There's every chance modern medicine would stop it," she said, sounding like she was thinking. "There may be a way. Some of the younger ones have run into a few clans of hunters repeatedly. We can use them as an example of what should happen to those who oppose us too strongly." She looked around the room, seeing interest. "Now all we need is a good plan for what needs to be done."
"How would the others hear if we eliminated them?" one asked.
She considered it. "We'd have to do something larger, something that would get rumors started. Something the unwary would gossip about with the other hunters at their pathetic little clubhouses."
"We could...curse them," one offered. "Make them unable to hunt for some reason?"
She shook her head. "Not good enough in this case. The two clans I'm thinking of are strong. They've been strong for years now and someone has to take a firmer hand than a simple curse."
Someone coughed. "Which clans?"
"The wanted Evil One's clan and the other hunter that is bothering us with all those slayers. His legacy is going to be painful for years if someone doesn't stop him but he's well protected for some reason."
They all hissed. They knew those ones. They had been a pain in their side. Plus taking out the wanted Evil One's clan would make him slip toward the dark sooner so their plans could be fulfilled.
One of the newest to the board cleared his throat. "What would happen if they suddenly found themselves unable to do anything for themselves? To be children again? They would split up that duo. The wanted Evil One could be placed with a suitable family if the plan was thought out in advance. The other two put with a family that was pitiful and not worth anything."
"Even as children they were all dangerous," she said. "Demons would know them by scent alone in many cases. Especially that single one. There's anecdotal evidence that he had been drawing demons for years. Though that might work out if they were taken out."
"True. There's also a curse that we should have kept open years ago that we can take advantage of," he said. They all stared at him. "You did not hear that the one we're all concerned about influencing too many slayers was split by Toth's warhammer?"
They all smirked. That was a good curse. "We can do this but we'd have to plan it out carefully," she decided. "That way the brothers are split, the one is put with a family who will retrain him to be more selfish. We can even keep the older brother and that other annoying one together."
They nodded, moving to make more concrete plans. They'd have to get them into the same general area first.
Xander yelped as the magic hit him, going to his knees, screaming mentally in pain as the magic ripped at him. There was a dark flash and he found himself in an unfamiliar room. It was clearly a child's room. He looked around, noticing he had two eyes. He spotted a lump of miserable child and moved closer to it to see if it was all right. It was the size of his hands that clued him into the fact he was a child too. He stared at himself. "Shit," he muttered. "Got to kill whoever did this." He nudged the child, waking it up. It was...him. Him with an eyepatch no less. He stared at himself. "Huh. Well, I feel like Oz."
The other him smirked. "So do I. You okay?"
"Sore," he said quietly. "You?"
"Sore." They looked around. "Willow?" he called. He reached for the necklace he usually wore to alert her he was surrounded by magical trouble but it was missing. His twin wasn't wearing his either. The door opened and someone walked in two little boys. One older than the other, the other an infant.
"You leave us alone!" the older one shouted. "Don't touch my brother!"
"It'll be fine. Sit in here and calm down while we try to find a good family to take you in."
"You're not taking him from me. I will hurt whoever touches him."
She stared at him. "That's not going to win you a good foster family," she chided. "We'll do what we can, Dean, but I can't promise anything." She left them alone again.
Xander with the eyepatch coughed. "Hey." The older one turned to stare at him. "I'm Xander, and this is, was part of me earlier. So I'm guessing he's Xander too."
The kid stared at him. "Are you freaky or otherwise?"
"No, we went through this when we were younger," Xander without the eyepatch said dryly. "Willow fixed it by putting us back together." The magic around the two of them was nearly blinding. Dean groaned. "Who're you really?"
"Dean Winchester, this is my brother Sammy. You?"
"Xander Harris. We worked with Buffy in Sunnydale. Now we're Watchers Council."
"Aw, shit," Dean said.
"That was our feeling when we realized we had been split again. Willow fixed it last time but someone or something unraveled it." He looked around then at Dean. "We've got mojo around us," he said, lapsing into Latin.
Dean looked at himself then at Xander. "How can you tell?"
"I've been able to do that since Willow hit me with some." He stood up and walked over. "Let's gather everyone together, Dean. We clearly need a plan." Dean moved Sammy closer and the other Xander came over. "Where were you guys earlier?"
"Cleveland to deal with a major possession and spirit issue. You?"
"Cleveland as usual recently." The two Xander's stared at each other.
"Willow?" the one with the eyepatch called. "Help?" Nothing. He sighed. "Halfrek's successor?" he tried. "I wish we had a wish demon!" Nothing.
Dean snorted. "Does that work?"
"Yeah, we used to date Anya, over women scorned," the eyepatch Xander said.
"Shit, dude, much more brave than I am," he said. The adult came back. She stood there for a minute. "Touch my brother, lady, I dare you."
"I was going to see if he needed a bottle or a change, Dean."
"I can do that."
"You shouldn't have to. You're still little."
He snorted. "The world shouldn't have people like you either, but life sucks that way." She scowled. "Doesn't it?"
"Yes, it does. You're well spoken for someone your age. How old are you?"
Dean stared at her. "Go away. I'm not going to talk to you. I don't know who you are. I don't care who you are, lady. Leave me and Sammy alone."
"I can't do that, Dean. We found you abandoned in a park."
Dean snorted. "No you didn't." She gave him a dirty look. He stared. Then he sniffed. "Why do you smell like wet dog?"
"I had to help bring one in from outside just now."
Xander sniffed then shrugged at Dean. "We're fine, really. Thank you anyway, ma'am." She smiled and left them alone again. He looked around and pointed. "Two way." He looked at Dean again. "Not demonic." He leaned closer. "Can you draw anything?" Dean nodded. "There's chalk over on the board. Get me some, we'll do it together." He and the other Xander went to do that. He looked up. "I hope like hell this works." They drew out the right symbols on the floor. It was linoleum so it was hard to draw on but the other Xander found a marker so Dean went over it again. He settled them all inside and cast the call out. "I wish for the demon over Lost Childhoods to come to us." He waited. He felt something but it was blocked. "Fuck! Something higher did this," he muttered. He looked up then at his self. "We have to."
"It'll expose her," he said very quietly.
"We have to or they're going to split us and them up. Since something higher did this, it's a plan."
Dean looked at them. "How can you tell?"
"She was blocked from answering."
"Crap," Dean muttered.
"We have a way but we're not supposed to expose her." Dean gave him a hopeful look. He looked at himself then at the ground, patting himself down. "Need to spill a few drops of blood." Dean patted himself down, finding his smaller pocketknife in his boot. Xander sliced into his palm and let it drip, mentally chanting the summoning spell he knew. The worker came rushing back in. "Dawn Annabelle Summers, Xander needs you, now." An explosion of light and air, and an older teenager was standing there. "Hey, Dawn Patrol."
"Oh, my, God," she breathed. "Xander?"
He nodded. "Someone higher did this. This is Dean and his brother Sam. They're like I am. Was. Whatever. Fix it? That's a social worker."
"Hell!" She pulled out her phone and called. "Willow, Xander's a baby with skills and he just summoned me. I need you here ASAP. Two other hunters and there's two Xander's. I know you were wondering too, just get here." She hung up.
A redhead appeared a second later. "Why the panic, Dawnie?" Xander without the eyepatch waved a hand. "Oh, poop."
Dean coughed. "Ma'am, you would be?"
She smiled, squatting down. "Willow Rosenburg. What's your name, cutie?"
"Dean Winchester. Of the demon hunting Winchesters. This is my brother Sammy, who demons think they want to lead an army of them."
"Big piles of crap." She stood up. "I see the proper summoning. She didn't come?" she asked Xander.
"I felt it be blocked. Since I'm like this, and they're like this, that means something bigger has a plan."
"Yup, I'd say." She leaned down to erase the social worker's memory, then Dawn got to work on the tapes and cameras. They moved the boys back to the Council with them. One of the slayers cooed. "Don't. It's demonically done."
"Oooh, one looks like Xander! I didn't know he had kids!"
"That's because that is Xander," Willow said. Dawn appeared with the missing Xander. She looked. "Dean, where's your brother?" He pointed and she smiled. "He's adorable at this age." She paged someone, bringing them running. "Maria, use the workout bottles to get some juice please?" She jogged off to do that. "Welcome to the new Watchers Council, guys." Giles, Buffy, and Faith rushed in. "Figured out what I felt earlier."
"Why does it look like Toth was back?" Buffy demanded.
"Duh," Xander said dryly. "Higher plan, Buffster."
She glared. "Tell me you're joking."
"Do I look like I have a sense of humor at the moment? I'm not even sure I'm potty trained at this age. Lay off, I'm having a bad fucking week, Buffy."
"I can see that," Faith agreed. "Who're the other two?"
"Other demon hunters," Willow said. "One the dark wants to taint and take over."
"So that's Sam Winchester then?" Giles asked. Dean nodded. Maria brought in four bottles with the poptop for easier drinking. "Thank you, Maria. Try to keep the girls out of the way for a bit?" She handed them over and went to tell the other girls. He sighed, sitting down while the boys drank. "Did we try to call for help?"
"I remember being in a buttload of pain, falling to my knees wanting to scream, and then I woke up in the room the social worker had us in," non eyepatch Xander said. He sipped more of his juice. "I take it we got the last of the orange mango?"
"Probably. It was about to be tossed," Buffy admitted. "So what are we doing to correct this?"
"We need to start with a sensing spell," Willow said. "That way we know who did it and what they did exactly. We don't know if they laid additional magic on you guys," she said at Dean's grunt. "Need help with Sam, Dean?"
"No. He's mine to take care of. Has been since we were this age the first time." He put down his bottle. "Can we check for demon taint? If they deaged us and he's below six months, the Yellow Eyed Demon hasn't tainted him yet."
"I can do that too," Willow agreed. He smiled. "It's going to take a few hours. Buffy, run out and get diapers for Sam? I know we don't have any."
"Um... I'd say two." She nodded, going to do that with a few of the younger girls. She looked at Giles. "We erased what we could, Giles." He nodded, going to talk to the local Mayor to see if he could finish covering for them if something was found. She looked at the Xanders then at Dean. "Let us try what we can, Dean. We'll see what we can do."
"Welcome." She got what she needed and laid it out while Faith watched over them. First the spell to check Sam and both Xanders for taint. Then she checked Dean separately. "Hmm. Dean, is there a soul clause on you?"
"Sammy died. I signed a contract to get him back."
She smiled. "It's not the same Sam, Dean. It's null and void." He beamed. "I'll make sure of that later." She checked Sam again. "He does have some small taint but not a whole lot." She looked at Xander. "You're still so very tainted from Sunnydale, Xan."
"And you, and Spike when he got drunk enough one night to get past the pain the chip gave him." He nodded. "And? What else is new? Do we have the same 'kill one, kill them both' clause?"
"Yes. So far. I need to stick you two together again." She frowned, looking around at things. "To do that, I need a few things."
"Get us back together after you reage us?" Xander suggested.
"Let me look that spell over." She cast a different one to tell demonic magic instead of taint and sighed. "It's not permanent. I guess that's good of them." She smiled at Dean. "They could've stuck you at this age forever."
"We'd be like that kid in _The Golden Child_," Xander said dryly.
"Awww!" one of the girls coming in said.
Xander stared at her. "Why didn't you show up in the social worker's place?" he asked her. She flinched. "We did it correctly."
"I was blocked, kid."
"Xander," he said slowly and clearly. She flinched. "Are you still blocked?"
"Not fully. I'm supposed to be putting you with families that'll encourage you and Dean there to not hunt and Sammy to give in to his destiny."
"Fat chance," Willow said dryly. "Though, if you want, you can unage them so I can fix the rest."
"They'll destroy me, Rosenburg," she said impatiently.
Xander poked her on the leg. "So will I." She reared back. "A lot. And I'll cackle pleasingly. Anya did tell me how to do that in case one of them came to attack her for us accidentally breaking her power center."
She went pale. "Does D'Hoffryn know?"
He shrugged. "He fired her. If he wasn't paying attention, it's his own shit."
"Quit swearing," Willow ordered.
"I think now's a good time to swear," Dean told her. He looked at the demon. "Who were you supposed to put us with?"
"Yuppies. Someone who'd make you do other things."
Dean shook his head. "You can't split me and Sammy up. I'll always find him."
"Not if I remove the memories."
Xander with the eyepatch tackled her, knocking her into the door. "Dawn, binding?" She did the binding on her, magically and physically. Willow snickered. "What?" he demanded.
"You're a bit too small for that to work all the time."
"Yuck it up," he sneered. He glared at the demon then at her again. "Now what?"
"Now, I'm not sure I can unravel it. I need demonic help." She looked at Giles, who shrugged. "Any that owe you favors?"
"Not at the moment. Buffy or Angel perhaps."
"Angel wouldn't," Xander reminded him. "If this was Buffy, maybe."
"Good point." He called out there anyway. "Wesley, I need some of your research. Someone higher up in the demonic hierarchy... Yes, about that. Do you know what happened?" He made notes while holding the phone with the other one. "It wasn't just Xander caught and they split him again, Wesley. Like Toth did." He nodded, making another note. "Has anyone come up with a way around it?" He smiled, making another note. "Are any other demon fighters affected? We have two Xander's and a pair of brothers who hunt demons as well." He raised an eyebrow. "That's interesting. Thank you, Wesley." He hung up. "We cannot undo it. This came from ones higher than the one who wants young Samuel. Ones who should be in the Deeper Well but who aren't." Dean slumped with a groan. "There is a way around it. It will protect him and both of them." He worked out the wording carefully. "We need a new parent to watch over them."
"If I had my Impala, I have Dad's journal in it and his contact list," Dean said.
"Where is it?" Dawn asked. "We can bring it here."
"I don't let anyone drive her."
Dawn gave him a look. "Not like you can right now, Dean. I won't crash your baby. I'm a good driver. I haven't even gotten a speeding ticket yet." He sulked. She checked the demon. "Where is it?"
"By the main library. We were researching the mass possessed house with spirits by the campus."
"How do you deal with that?" she asked, picking him up. "That's about two miles away. Have the keys?"
He shook his head. "Willow will have someone good watch Sammy?"
"Of course. The slayers will protect him and so will Giles and Willow. Or else I'll make Buffy beat them to death with a stinky shoe."
"Okay. Let's get a ride then we'll figure it out." He nodded, letting her take him with her. That way at least he'd be in the car.
Willow looked at Giles' notes, then at him. "That's going to suck. The girls are going to riot."
Giles nodded, watching the boys. "They may well do so. Do they have any other family?"
"I can look them up on the usual sites." She went to find her laptop to do that.
"She could've just asked Dean," Xander said dryly.
"I know. How are you feeling?"
"I'm hoping like hell I'm potty trained," the other one said.
"I hope so as well. I fear it'll traumatize us both if you're not." He smiled and patted him on the head. "We'll figure it out, Xander." He nodded at that. "The only way we can do this is to give you to parents who are good. Included in the wish would be the only way to take out that relative clause from the splitting." Xander grimaced but nodded. "We would keep you four together. I think it'd be better that way really."
"Do we know someone?"
"It'd have to be someone who could understand demons and hunting. We're waiting to see if we have any contacts." He punched the demon out since she was groaning. "Let's see what Dean has in his contact list. I definitely will not trust you with any of the former Watchers."
"Ethan might be better," he said dryly.
"No, I fear he would snap over this." He stroked over his hair again. Willow came back and checked the baby, tipping up the bottle of juice so he could suck on it while she typed one handed into her laptop. "Hand him over, Willow." She handed over the baby and bottle. "Shh, Samuel. I'm Rupert Giles, head of the Watchers Council. I'll protect you until Dean gets back." The baby sucked, staring at him. "Do you have your memories?" The baby waved a hand. "That's good then. We'll do what we can to make sure you're all safe and staying together." He stroked his foot with his more free hand. "Drink. You probably need it with the night you've had so far, lad." He watched the two Xander's end up against each other's head to nap for a bit. Dawn came back with Dean being happier. "Xander's car?"
"Faith." She settled in next to Giles. "He good?"
"He's fine. He's nearly asleep." He handed him down to Dean to hold.
Dean sniffed him then checked him over before going back to cuddling him. "Shh, Sammy, I have you."
"He does remember as well," Giles said.
"That's really gotta suck. He'll remember being changed and stuff." He looked up at him. "I need to call a contact to see if he knows anyone. Most of the ones we know will be hostile thanks to the demons wanting Sammy for their general."
Giles found the phone, handing it down. "Go ahead. Dial wherever."
Dean dialed, wincing at the answering machine. He dialed a second number, getting the one he wanted. "Bobby, Dean Winchester." He winced at the spluttering. "I know I sound too young, Bobby. The great plan of the higher demons to take out hunters was to deage me, Sammy, and another one that got split into twins for some reason. Sammy's about six months. Yeah, I'm certain. Feeding him some juice. Watchers Council." He smiled. "We might have to have new parents, Bobby. The plan was to give Sammy to someone who'd be pro demon and Sammy's destiny and send me and the other hunter off to some yuppie who'd make sure we wouldn't hunt." He nodded. "We might have to. We have one tied up. She's moving." Willow stunned her this time, making her moan as she passed back out.
"Know anyone who'd like to be a parent?" He listened to the muttered swearing. "Yeah, sucks on this end too, Bobby." He grimaced. "Who was that?" He put the phone against his shoulder, taking the pen from Dawn to write on the paper she was holding. "Where was he?" He wrote it down. "Will that create a bad situation otherwise?" He nodded, writing down what happened. "Thanks, man." He hung up. "He said he's too old." He handed back the pen. "That's the son of a former hunter who used to be a cop of some sort. He died. Bobby said there was demons who interfered so if we make that part of the wish, it shouldn't create a bad situation."
Willow looked up the name, nodding. "Two demons wanted his line to end. He had a destiny to raise great hunters." She smirked. "Four of them."
Xander woke up with a start, looking around. "Hell, I hate those."
"Vision, nightmare, or otherwise?" she asked while typing.
"Nightmare." He leaned over to look at the wish, making a few changes. "No using and, but, or commas, Giles. One wish and it has to be one run-on wish."
Giles nodded, reworking it. When the demon woke up this time they only kept her restrained. "I have a deal for you."
"Why should I?" she groaned, trying to hold her head. Faith came in to help her sit up. "What do you want?"
"We have three children here who needed your services before we found them," Giles said. "Two of whom their parents are trying to regain custody." She shuddered. "You have their files?"
"I do. Now."
"We will wish for them if you grant one for the boys."
"I'll get killed if a wish is said out loud," she said.
"We wrote it down," Xander told her. "And it'll give us to a non-hunter."
She stared at him. "A non-hunter?"
He nodded. "Someone who'll take care of us while we regrow."
"How will he do that?"
"It's touched his life but he's not in it."
"Hmm." She considered it. "That might be fulfilling most of it."
"The only part he'd definitely hate was Sam's destiny and he's a cop," Willow said, looking at her. "Which means he could be checked on easily enough and there's enough bad in his area that they can still try all they want. It'll be like a neutral location." Dean gave her a look so she smiled. "We do have to sometimes play inside their rules, Dean." She patted him on the shoulder. "It'll be fine. I know it will be because I'll kill him if he hurts you guys. I'm the scary one around here."
"Uh-huh." He looked at the demon then at Xander, who nodded. "We sure?" Giles let him see the wish, getting an awed look.
She stared at him. "That's too easy."
"They're not thinking logically. They often don't," Willow assured her. "It'll solve a lot of problems for a lot of people, including some of your other clients probably."
She stared then at the boys. "And for the other two you think you can give me help with?"
"I wish the two slayers who we're talking about's parents were exposed in all their evilness," Dawn said. "So that everyone who mattered to them or the girls' custody would know exactly what they're like and what sort of life those girls will live. The authorities can punish in one case and the other one's future should be enough to get them to the point of ruin."
She smirked. "That's nearly evil, young one."
She smirked. "I'm Dawn. I learned evil watching it try to kidnap me."
She laughed. "I can see that. The wish for them?" Giles tweaked a word, added the name, and handed it over to her. She read it then looked at him. "One long run on sentence."
"Commas mean a separate wish," the non-eyepatch Xander said in a sing-song voice.
"Good point." She stared at them. "Wish granted."
"We did put in there that they'll be able to afford things?" Willow asked. "If not, I can divert funds."
"Oh, hell. I wish the new parent of us would have enough funds and weapons to be able to protect us from whatever comes," the eyepatch wearing Xander said. The demon wobbled but eventually a small 'wish granted' came out. He grinned. "Not against orders."
"No, not against orders," she said, giving him a look.
He smirked back. "I am the local tactician."
She laughed. Dawn removed the bindings on her. "It shows, Xander." She stood up. "As part of the wish, that one is revived. He will be up here to find the children within a week. I'm sure you can protect them that long?"
"We can keep the slayers from cooing over the cuteness of little Dean there," Faith agreed. "They'll try to traumatize Xander."
She nodded. "That's doable. The part of Toth's curse that they not be linked so if one dies they both do is also removed. I didn't redo the eye."
That Xander shrugged. "I'm good with it now. Been a while."
She nodded. "I hope you enjoy school this time around. He's not going to be easy going on that matter. You're going to have a lot of expectations to live up to, guys." She faded out. She felt some of her older clients' lives even out and smiled because it gave another of her good deeds time to help others. "Excellent." Her boss came thundering toward her. "It was not spoken. They did not go to a pro-hunting family. Their new father is nearly phobic about weapons but he does know about demons. There's plenty down there that could come for Samuel if they're subtle. If they're not then they don't deserve to lead. Plus it helps more of my power base without me expending as much energy." She flashed out to go to her next call, after a few aspirins for her jaw. It hurt a lot. They punched really hard there.
Eric Delko looked out his parents' back yard, gasping when he saw a light come up out of the ground. "Mama?" She came over to look and babbled, grabbing something to head outside. Eric rushed out too, staring at the figure standing there. "Speed?" he whispered, mouth open.
The figure stepped out of the light. "Got it. Thanks." He looked up. "As you wish, guys." The light faded. He looked at Eric. "I need to get to Cleveland."
"Why did they send you here?"
"Because I'm coming back here in a few days." Something floated down, landing at his feet. He picked up the lottery ticket, putting it into his pocket. "We need to talk and I need to make plans."
"How?" Eric asked.
"Long story. Which I can't tell you half of. Yet."
"H is going to be so pissed."
"Yay him." He shrugged. "It'd have been nicer if the demons hadn't made me forget to clean my gun." Eric moaned. "Get H here, Eric. Or wherever."
"My place," he said, making the call.
Speed grinned at Eric's mother. "Hi, Mrs. Delko."
"Timothy. Are you an angel?"
"No. I got returned for a task." He kissed her on the cheek. "They'll need your help too. So will I. That's why they put me here instead of H's backyard. That and he's got the bitchy ho there." He walked out, following Eric to his car. "H able to get free of the slut?"
"The cranky ho."
"Oh, Boa Vista. Yeah." He backed down the driveway, taking him to his apartment. He saw the hummer pull onto his street and waved. Horatio nodded, parking and heading up. He had a spare key in case something new happened to Eric. Eric parked, looking at his buddy. "Speed, are you okay?"
"I'm good," he admitted. "But it's going to be a hellish few months, buddy." He looked at him. "It's going to get real strange real quick." He got out, heading up there. He paused in front of the door then knocked. Horatio opened it, staring at him. "I have a mission and a reason."
"Did it come with gun cleaning instructions?"
"It'd have been nice if the demons didn't make me forget," he said bluntly.
"Demons?" he asked dryly.
Speed walked in. "It's a long damn story, H." Eric walked in and shut the door. He sat down, looking at them. Then he took off his undershirt, showing them the old scars on his stomach and lower back. "Did you guys not ever wonder how I got these?"
"I figured it was a car accident," Horatio admitted.
Eric shook his head. "Those are claw marks."
Speed nodded as he put back on his shirt. "They are." He looked at Horatio. "You have seen demons."
"I know I have."
"My father was a hunter until I got hurt. Then he gave it up and opened a restaurant."
Horatio nodded slowly. "Then why are you back, Tim?"
"There's a situation going on up in Cleveland." Horatio snorted at that. "I take it you've met some of the council?"
"One of the girls came from locally. They came down to get her after she had a freakout in the middle of a club."
Speed nodded. "Some of the higher ups have tainted a child. They want him to lead an army to wipe out all that oppose them. They did it to another hunter's child and the kid's against it totally." Horatio and Eric both nodded. "Unfortunately the demons' plan included him and a few others. You see, he has a very strong brother. One that's keeping him here and clean. The boy himself doesn't want that curse. His brother helps him whenever he slips. The hunters are getting too strong in a few areas." Horatio nodded again slowly. "So they decided to take out some hunters and give themselves better access to the one child. They're all real children, but they have their old memories. His brother's four. The child is an infant of about seven months. The other hunter, well, they hate his ass. They decided to enact an old curse that got cured. The original split him in two. So did this one. He's about a year and a half at the moment."
Horatio cleared his throat. "Why bring you back?"
"The demons were going to split them up. The two hunters to a family that would keep them from hunting. Yuppie scum who'd put them on drugs almost immediately. The one tainted one would be given to a family that would taint him further and teach him how to rule the army." Horatio slumped. "The Watchers Council got the boys since the split hunter is theirs."
"A slayer?" Eric asked.
"No. Xander." He looked at Horatio again. "They cast a wish with the demon over Lost Childhoods."
"I remember Halfrek," he said quietly.
"New one in the spot but same gig," he agreed. "It fixed the weakness in Xander's curse and appointed me their father so they could stay together. There's enough demons down here and I'm weak enough in those skills for Sam to still be in danger. I don't particularly like hunting so I'm not going to encourage the other two, three really, in it. But I know what's going on so I won't taint them against it the way the demons want. Doing this to me means that she also gets to help a few others." He swatted him on the head. "Watch Madison more closely." Horatio moaned. "Her mom's doing fine but she's under pressure at the moment. She needs a signpost." He looked at Eric. "I am now the father to a four- year-old, a set of twin year-and-a-half olds, and one seven-month-old, all boys. That's why they sent me to you."
"Because my mother knows how to help with that," he agreed, grinning some. "Plus I won't freak out."
"Exactly." He pulled out the ticket to look at it then handed it over. "Should've been drawn." A new ticket floated down and he smiled. "Didn't work the first time?" he called. The old one burnt up. Eric took that one to check the date. He looked at Horatio. "I have to get to Cleveland to pick up the boys within a week by the constraint of the wish. That means I need help. I know this freaks you out. Can I come to you for wise advice, H?"
He nodded. "Of course, Speed." Someone knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" Eric called.
"Let me in," a female voice called.
"No. Not tonight."
"I need to see Horatio."
"Not tonight," he yelled. "We're dealing with a personal issue for a friend." She stomped off.
Speed looked at Horatio. Then he smacked him on the forehead again. "She's still tainting evidence and she's still bad for the lab."
"They made me keep her," he said dryly. "Can you quit doing that?"
"You and Eric both get another one. I saw him. I saw how you treated him, how you dissed him, how you didn't stand up for him." He stared at him.
"I... I lost some of my optimism, Speed."
"Duh, H." He stood up. "Ryan's to help me. The kid needs it. Yeah, he's got faults. He's human." He glared at Eric, who shrank down into a chair. "Good." He looked at Horatio. "Can you help me get to Cleveland and find me a place to squat with the boys?"
"That I can do. Is social services going to be involved?"
"I hope not." He looked at Eric, who waved the ticket. "Thanks, buddy."
A redhead appeared, grinning at him. "You must be Tim."
He nodded. "I am. How's my boys, Rosenburg?"
"They're down for the night. You'll need help getting their stuff down here."
"Why?" Horatio asked.
"Dean and Sam's car is a family car. He told Dawnie that they've had it since before they were this age the first time. It belonged to their father and it was basically the only home they knew before." She looked at him. "Plus, Xander's got weapons, some books, a tv, some ugly clothes, and some other stuff, including his car. He said he didn't mind if you used it. Dean's *way* possessive over his."
He nodded. "I'll take that into account."
"Good." She smiled, handing him something. "We bought it online. It should be in good condition. We have enough diapers for Sam for a few days."
"That's cool. I'll try to be up the day after tomorrow."
"Even better," she said happily. "Someone came from social services but they were memory charmed. You should be in the clear. We're making the stuff you need to take custody."
"Not a problem but if you aren't good to my Xander buddy...."
He stared her down. "I saw."
She grinned. "I can do worse now. Then sic the slayers on you."
He laughed. "I have an adoptive mother down here who can spank them all and then me."
"Good!" she said cheerfully then disappeared.
Speed handed Horatio the papers for the house. "That in a good spot?"
He looked then nodded. "Fairly decent." He looked at him. "You're being railroaded."
"To save the lives of three boys, now four, who saved a lot of other lives." He wrote down the names. "By the way, a head's up. They said Dean was funding the hunting in the wrong way."
"Credit card fraud?" Eric guessed. Speed nodded. "Any other sins?"
"There was a shape changer who was pretending to be Dean when he died. He killed a bunch of people in Kansas City."
"Crap," Horatio muttered.
"He basically put on a new external skin."
"DNA?" Eric suggested.
"You can check, buddy. I can't."
"We'll fix the dead thing too," Willow's voice called. "I can't figure out how to fix Dean's."
"I can," Horatio said. He stood up. "We will be talking."
"I did try to clean it, H. I kept blacking out."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"Hindsight is twenty-twenty," he said calmly. Horatio glared. "It is. At the time, I didn't realize."
"We will be checking."
He grinned. "Xander and Dean are both gun geeks. Worse than Calleigh ever was."
Horatio smirked. "It's a fitting punishment for how you died, Speed."
"I am not telling Alexx," Eric said.
Speed nodded. "That's fair. Have her meet me somewhere when I get back." They both nodded with evil smirks. "Eric, can I bum the couch tonight?"
"Go ahead." Speed laid down. Eric looked at Horatio. "Can you get that file? I'll help where I can."
"I can do that." He gave Speed a look. "Put a tracker on him?"
"The airport security people would mind that," Speed said dryly.
Eric snickered. "We'll put it in your watch." Horatio hummed, going back to his place to start making plans. Eric went to his room to think. This was a big shock. He could be shocked now. He was shocked now.
"Quit thinking. Dean and Xander are both little smartasses. It's like they're mine naturally," he called.
"I'll be sure to pray for them."
"Go ahead." He flipped onto his side, considering it. How was *he* supposed to deal with *four* kids when even one gave him hives? He had no fucking clue what he was doing. Or what he was supposed to do. Hopefully, Eric's mother and Alexx would hold his hand a little bit at first. He'd need it.
Speed walked into the building, looking around. "This is... gothic," he said.
Dawn smirked at him. "We have to be a bit creepy with what we deal with, Tim."
He looked at her. "Looked me up?"
"Yeah, of course. Not like we're going to trust just anyone with Xander." She heard screaming and sighed. "Speaking of." She jogged off, letting him follow. "Stop it!" she snapped, dragging the slayer bothering Sam out of his room and tossing her down the stairs. "Leave the boys alone! You scare them for some reason!" She walked back in there, picking up Sam and sitting down in the rocking chair. "I agree, Sammy. She's a scary slayer. She shouldn't bother you." Dean stomped in. "She was bothering him again."
"Uh-huh. Can I have him?" She grabbed him, making him squeak as she pulled him into his lap. "Hey! You're not my mother."
"Not trying to be. I'll settle for auntie." He gave her a dirty look. "I will." She rocked them gently, letting him mostly hold Sam. "I'm not going to steal him from you, Dean," she said quietly. "Neither will Tim. We may be like favorite aunts or uncles, or even stepparents in Tim's case, but we don't want to replace the originals and we don't want to make you forget them. That means that no one would remember and that's kinda tragic." He looked up at her. "The Native Americans say a spirit lives on in this world as long as someone remembers them. That's why tales of parents and grandparents get passed down through each generation. So that the memory lives on and their ancestors feel properly respected. If you forget your parents, then no one will remember them."
"Especially Mom," he admitted quietly.
She smiled. "Especially your mom. That's why we don't want to take their place. Make new happy memories hopefully. Comforting ones. Ones that'll add onto the collection you already carry."
"I think we'd like that."
Tim coughed from the doorway. "I'm not going to be your dad, kid. Uncle, stepparent like Dawn suggested, but I'm not going to take his place. I'm definitely not going to take your mom's since I'm not configured that way." Dean smirked at that. "You're Dean and that's Sam, right?" He walked in further.
"This is Sammy. Though he liked Sam better when we were bigger. I used to tease him all the time with it."
"That's part of a big brother's job," he agreed, squatting down to get on his eye level. "I'm not going to hurt Sam or you, Dean. I'm formerly a cop and a CSI. Do you know what that is?"
"I've still got most of my memories, dude."
"Some guys don't know what we do. Including some cops."
"You're a crime scene cop."
"Exactly." He smiled a bit. "I have a former boss and friends in the unit who're going to help. You can pick on Calleigh if you want to see her blush. She could use the lightening up at the moment. I also have a great woman who's their ME who adopted me when I started to work there. Alexx is going to smother you boys in attention if I know her. She's like that. She's got a few of her own. My friend Eric has his three older sisters and parents, they're Cuban and Russian, so you'll be smothered in attention there too."
"We never had that before," he said quietly.
"There were rumors about your dad and you guys when I was little. With the way he was hunting, he couldn't. I'm not going to do that."
"Because Xander made the wish?"
"Yup, because one of the Xanders made the wish." He stroked over Sam's head. "We'll learn to get along and if they get overbearing, you'll tell me. I'll nag them." Dean nodded. "Good." He stood up with a slight moan. "I am arranging for your car to be shipped down. Xander's too. Plus all your stuff. Got it?"
"What about the people who want us?"
"Eric and H are looking into that. See, skinwalkers won't have taken your DNA as well as your image. We think." Dean gaped. "So we'll have to see. We're looking into it." He grinned. "I can hear you, Xander."
"That's because he's been sucking on popsicles for a cutting tooth," Dean said. Both Xanders leaned in. "This is Tim."
"Hey," the one with the eyepatch said, coming in to stare at him. The other hung back. "He's cool enough." The other one came closer.
"How does this spell split you?"
"It basically splits the dominant personality traits off," Dawn said. "One's more extroverted and forceful. One's more shy. One's more physical than the other. One got the eye issue and the other didn't."
"Hmm." He looked at them. "We can handle that. We might have to think up a second name for one of you for school records so no one gets curious but I think we can do that." He patted them both on the head. "I'm going to be good to you guys, but you can run from H and Alexx if they get too fussy." Xander nodded at that, looking serious. "Good." He looked at Dawn. "I'm booked to take them tomorrow." He looked at the boys. "That'll give us time to do any shopping, make arrangements for the weapon transfers so we don't get hit by a nasty Fed being nosy, all that stuff."
Dean grimaced at Sam's butt. "Eww, Sammy. Did you have to stink that much?"
Dawn laughed, handing Dean over to Tim. "Let me change them."
"I should learn how," Tim said, taking him to the changing table. "Hey, Sam. It's nothing personal, I promise, okay?" The baby stared at him. He grinned back. "Eric will tease, I'm not, Sam." He opened it and grimaced. "Eww is right."
"One less shitty diaper for me to do," Dean quipped.
Tim looked back. "A bit less swearing please? Alexx will soap your mouth."
"Fine," he grumbled.
"Thanks." He dodged Sam's intent to pee on him, smirking back. "Nearly there, Sam." He got a few wet wipes to clean him, being gentle but not staring at him. Then he powdered and rediapered. "There, how's that?" Sam beamed "Good." He picked him up after throwing out the nasty stuff, finding Dawn out of the rocking chair. "Not really my scene."
"He likes it."
"Sure." He sat down, letting Sam rest in his lap while he moved slowly. Sam yawned and fell back asleep in his lap. "That's a cool trick. I like that one," he said quietly. He looked at Dean. "Want him in the crib or down with you?"
"Down with me." Tim found something for him to lie on that was softer than the floor, letting him nap on the huge bear they had in there. Dean grinned at that.
"Every kid needs one now and then," Dawn said, patting Xander 1 on the head. "We need to get you one."
"I'm too old for a bear." He looked at Tim. "Where do you live?"
"Miami. Willow found somewhere for us down there." That got a nod. "Dean, can you and Sam share?" He nodded at that. "You two too, Xanders?" They nodded. "Good." He stood up. "Let's see what we have to move immediately and what's coming down in a few days." Dawn showed him what they had gotten. The crib was a rental. The changing table too. The clothes and diapers could go with him. Willow came in and said she could shrink everything but the cars. Tim told her he had a plan for that. She beamed and said she could move the weapons separately. Dean said he'd pack them to make sure they were safe. She gave him an odd look but oh well. His weapons. Xander nodded that he'd do the same. Tim looked at them and they gave him angelic looks. He rolled his eyes but they'd be fine. He hoped.
Speed got off the plane carrying Sam and the boys trooping behind him. "Let's not get lost. We have to pick up the bag from the baggage area. Then maybe, if we're lucky, we have a ride to the house." They smiled at that. It had been a long, exhausting flight. Dean's ears hurt. One of the Xander's nose had started to bleed. The other went into hyper protective overdrive. They found the bag and headed out to the main area, finding someone waiting on them. "We can go home, right?" he asked hopefully.
"Two days," Horatio said, smiling at the boys. "Hi, boys. I'm Horatio. I used to be Speed's boss." They waved. He smiled at Tim. "Calleigh said you could stay at her place. Eric said the same. Or you can cram into my guest room."
"They'd only have a couch and a cot," he said.
Horatio nodded. "The boys could share the room and you could have my couch."
Tim looked at the boys, who all shrugged. "Let's try that then." Horatio nodded, taking the bag so they could walk out together. He looked at Sam. "It's a half hour to his house. Think you can make it that long or should we check your diaper on the way?" Sam sucked on his first two fingers. "Think you can?" Sam patted him with the wet hand.
"Check him now, Speed. I can wait." He went to do that with the carry on/diaper bag. He smiled at the boys. "There's a few people in the lab you can trust, no questions asked, guys. Eric, Calleigh, Frank, Ryan Wolfe, Alexx, and a few of my techs. I'll introduce you to them all so you know what they look like."
"Does that mean there's some we can't?" the eyepatch, overprotective Xander asked.
He nodded. "There's a few who have never been exposed to children. There's a few I don't know well enough to be able to gauge what they might do. There's a few I do not trust for other reasons and we're keeping an eye on them."
Dean nodded. "We can understand that. This Alexx chick, is she going to be really fussy?"
"Don't call her that, and yes. She doesn't know that Speed's back yet," he said quietly. "We haven't been able to find a way to tell her. She's the mother hen of the lab and she fusses over all of us. You'll get your share and probably part of Tim's." He grimaced. "Also, language, Dean. She will soap your mouth. She has Tim's. She has Eric's. She will yours." He nodded at that. "Be respectful, don't call her a chick, and hide if she gets too pushy. All right?" They all nodded. "Good. Thank you." He stood up again.
Tim smirked from where he was listening. "You can run screaming the first few times. She'll set her limits by that." They nodded and Horatio walked them out to the Hummer. He found approved booster and child seats. "Bless you."
"Not a problem, Speed. We borrowed them from Eric's sisters." He helped hitch in the quieter Xander. "What's wrong?"
"He's quiet," Tim said. He looked at him. "Half an hour, then we'll be there. You two need a potty break?" They shook their heads. "Let me know." They nodded. "Good boys." He finished up and closed the car door, getting into the front.
Horatio slid in to drive, putting on his sunglasses. "And away we go." He started the engine and backed out, heading home with them. He saw Dean's watch of the city going past. "Miami's pretty big but you'll be living in a fairly quiet neighborhood, guys."
"Can we watch bikinis on the beach?" Dean asked.
"As long as you don't leer and get social workers on the doorstep thinking you're thinking about sex so young due to mistreatment," Speed said. "Eric can take you to do that. He does it a lot." Dean grinned and nodded.
"The house is in fairly good shape," Horatio told him. "Eric had his father go through it. One of the bedrooms has a leaking roof. He also turned in that ticket for you." Speed nodded. "Good choice."
Speed grinned. "Thanks, H. As long as we can afford those things, I'm good." He shifted. "Have my things gone through probate yet?"
"I would assume so."
"Any idea where my books ended up?"
"I would assume your parents." Speed gave him a look. "They were down after the funeral."
"Uh-huh. I'll call later."
"Don't be mean."
"They didn't call for eight years."
"I know." He reached over to pat him on the arm. "We'll work it out, Speed."
"Would you rather we call you Speed?" Dean asked.
"No, Tim should be better." That got a nod. "Did Eric give them any info on anything? If they go looking they're going to find me dead."
"I do not know." He pulled off the highway and down toward his neighborhood. "We'll call Alexx to come over tonight."
"I can understand why you guys didn't tell her but I did leave a cryptic email while in Cleveland." He grinned. Horatio snorted, shaking his head. "It'll get her thinking and searching." They pulled onto a different street and found another hummer in the driveway. "Eric or Wolfe?"
"Eric. Ryan is off today." He pulled in beside the other one and parked. "We're here, boys." They unstrapped and Dean got to work on the carseat for them. "Thank you, Dean."
"I'm used to it." Tim smiled, getting out to come get Sam. Dean hopped out and got the bags. Both Xanders ran inside. "Guess he needed that potty break now." Horatio came to get the bigger bag, earning a grin. "Thanks."
"You're very welcome, Dean." He walked inside and was nearly bowled over by Calleigh. "I was not expecting you."
"Clearly." She looked over his shoulder and wobbled. "Speed?"
"Long story and if you swat me I'm going to hit you back."
"Someone made him not do it," Horatio said quietly. She snorted.
Dean stared at her. "You're cute." She gaped at him. He smirked. "Dean Winchester and that's my little brother Sammy." She passed out at that. "Knew you were her daughter." Sam fussed. "That's the daughter of the one lady we had to save from the drunken possessed lawyer, Sammy. Calm down."
"He's hungry," Tim assured him. "Boys, need help?"
"No!" they called back. Horatio smiled, letting Tim settle Sam on the couch and dig out something for him to eat. A yogurt tube was gotten and it was all good for the baby, who cooed around it.
One of the Xanders came out, bouncing around. "Can you do them back up? I'm having small motor control problems."
"Sure." He buttoned the jeans for him and nodded at Dean to finish feeding Sam while he went to help the other one. That one was still on the toilet so he ducked back out. When he heard him moving, he leaned back in. "Need help?"
"No, I got it."
"Okay." He saw him struggling and came in to do it for him. Then he redressed him, washed their hands, and gave him a look. "I know it's embarrassing but I'm cool with helping if you ask." The kid nodded. "Go help with Sammy?" He beamed and went to do that. Tim washed his hands after flushing the toilet, coming out to find Alexx staring and Calleigh back on the floor. "Wasn't she waking up?"
"She saw my magnificence and passed out again," Dean said with an evil smirk. "Or it could've been the eyepatch."
"Hey!" Xander said, bopping him on the back. "Meany." He stared back at this new person. "Who's she?"
"That is Alexx, guys." She blinked up at him. "Hi."
"How?" she asked calmly.
"I got called back to help them."
"They are not normal, Timothy."
"No. Which is why I got called back to help them. Long story." She glared, her hands drifting to her hips. "You know what my father used to do?" She nodded, her glare not easing but now a foot was tapping. "It was the evil things' plan to take out a lot of hunters. Technically, Xander used to be one person and they were going to split up the brothers once this was done."
"I see," she said dryly. "Then why call you back?"
"I'm a DMZ between the two worlds. I won't encourage or discourage the hunting. I won't let the child be taken by the dark that wants him so badly but I'm not strong enough to fully keep them out with wards and things, yet. My death was caused by one of them keeping me from cleaning my gun." She went limp. "So, I have four boys and a house that's mine in a couple of days."
She stepped over Calleigh, who was awake and listening. "How long have you been back?"
"Four days. I had to get them first, Alexx," he said quietly, staring at her. "I appeared in Eric's back yard. That's why I sent you the cryptic email." She glared. "I did."
"I saw. That's why I'm here today." She pulled him closer to hug. "I am going to beat your hind end, Timmy. I really will."
"I know, Alexx. Not in front of the boys?"
"No, not in front of the babies."
"Hey!" both Xanders complained.
"She's going to call you that for years," Calleigh said. She made herself sit up. "You're joking."
Tim shook his head over Alexx's shoulder. "No."
"Why take you out?"
"It ended a long line of hunters. They apparently thought I was in danger of knocking up someone."
"Hell," she muttered.
"They do have plans," Xander 1 quipped. She stared at him. "Toth split me and they redid that spell. It was meant to make it easier to defeat a bigger foe."
Dean hummed. "Why?"
"Kill the weaker side and they both die," Xander 2 said quietly, looking at him.
"That makes more sense."
"Plus it knocks you out since you have to be hit with a warhammer and it hurts like hell," Xander 1 said. "Then you get freaky thoughts, especially when your girlfriend wants to try a threesome with your other half."
"No talk like that from a young mouth," Alexx ordered. "Even if you can think on that level still."
"Sorry." He shrank down and sat on the end of the couch. "I've never been around babies."
"Dad was busy a lot after Mom died so I did a lot of Sammy raising now and then." He pushed up the last of the yogurt for him, watching him suck it down. "Better?" Sam beamed at him. "Good." He tossed it out. "Need burped?" Sam babbled some noise. "Even better." He sat down next to his head, looking at Xander. "He's an okay baby most of the time. No real loud. Only had colic once and that's when Mom was alive. He'll be up and babbling non-stop pretty soon." His brother scowled at him. "If I didn't already know you were Sammy, I would now. Not even your kid'll give me your bitchy face the way you do." He smirked. "Need a diaper change?" Sam shook his head. "Okay." He relaxed, watching the adults.
Horatio cleared his throat. "Boys, your room is that one," he said with a point. They nodded at that. "We'll have dinner in a few hours if you wanted to rest." They all shook their heads. "All right." Tim grinned at him. "Want a book?"
"No thanks," Dean said. He looked down at the babbling. "What? You want read to?" The baby gave him a look. "Sure, if one of the books is one of the sort you like." He went to look, finding one and bringing it back. He settled in to read it to Sammy since he couldn't read himself. The more timid Xander 2 leaned against his arm, falling asleep too. He smiled at the other one. "I don't mind," he said when he reached for his other half. Xander shrugged and pulled his other half against him to cuddle him instead.
Tim came over to lift him up, getting protesting noises. "Shh."
"Let him stay," the other Xander said. "He'll wake up again." He got himself better situated and took his twin back to hold. Dean went back to reading. The adults went onto the porch to talk. Xander looked around then at Dean. "It could be a lot worse."
"It could be," he agreed. "Tim seems pretty cool and won't try to make us pod people."
Xander nodded. "True." He looked at his other half then at him. "Think we need booster shots again?"
"Don't know. We'll have to ask. He said Alexx is an ME so we might be able to ask her." He shrugged and went back to reading. Sam was falling asleep so that was a good thing. Sam finally conked out so Dean looked at the awake Xander, seeing him drifting. "Go ahead. I've got us covered." Xander nodded, curling up with his twin. Dean put the book down with a small bit of string from his shirt in his place. He watched the adults talk and hug Tim. He was clearly missed when he had died. Someone else walked in and he stared. Then he pointed. "They're out there."
"I .... Hmm. Well, that's interesting." He smiled. "Thanks." He walked out there. "Boss, the Chief is livid that you're out of contact," he said as he walked outside. Horatio moaned. "He had Frank stomp through the lab looking for you. Frank didn't look too pleased either. He had that chewed on look for some reason."
Horatio nodded. "I'll call Frank. You couldn't call?"
"Your phone's dead or off."
"I turned it off at the airport," he said, pulling it out to turn on. He called Frank before checking the two voicemails he had. "Frank, what happened? Picking up someone at the airport, Frank." He listened. "I can be there immediately. Home. He knew I was taking the afternoon off to pick someone up. Please. I'll meet you there, Frank." He hung up. "The Carter case just went into the bin." Ryan moaned, shaking his head. "Who testified today?"
"Eric is there right now," Ryan said. "Do we have any idea what's wrong? I can go pull the evidence while you pick him up."
"No. Don't worry about it yet." He looked at Tim, who glared. "Thank you, Mr. Wolfe." He left, going to handle that.
Ryan looked at him. "You don't have to be a mom to me too, Speed."
Tim smirked. "Of course I do. I learned from Alexx and she adopted you too, dumbass." He looked inside. "Asleep?"
"All but the one."
"That's Dean. The smallest is Sammy. The other two are Xander." He looked at her. "We've got to fix that problem."
"What's his middle name?" Calleigh asked.
"We'll figure it out after we talk with the grandbabies," she said. "We should put Sam to bed."
"Dean'll bite if you don't ask him first," he warned. "He is hyper protective of his brother."
She stared at him. "In that life, I'm not surprised." She went in to talk to Dean. "Sugar, if you want to nap, go ahead."
"I'm not tired."
She sat down in front of him. "I'm Alexx. I adopted Tim when he showed up needing a momma." She reached out to smooth a hand over his head. He ducked. "Tim told me some of it, sweetie. I'm not mean."
"I don't need mothered. That's Sammy."
"Every young boy, even ones Horatio's age, need some babying. Otherwise they think no one's there to give a darn." He stared back. "Would you mind if I mothered you boys?"
"Grandmothered?" he joked.
"I guess that'd be fine. We'll get used to it. Don't grab Xander. I learned that already." He rubbed his side unconsciously.
"Let me look at it."
"It's just a bruise."
He scowled. "Alexx, a bruise is nothing. We've all gotten bruises. Hell, I've had broken bones and concussions and all sorts of neat things thanks to the life. I'm sure Xander did too. A little bruise because he jumped and kicked me isn't anything."
"Around here it is." She pulled him closer. He swatted but she glared and he had to shrink down at that. She checked the bruise, getting him an ice pack. He took it with a nod of thanks. "Now, anything we should worry about health wise?"
"Xander wanted to know if we needed more shots."
"Probably. Did you guys get yours?"
"Yeah, we went to public school."
"That's fine, sugar." She smoothed over his hair again, not minding when he ducked away. "You'll get used to us." She looked at Sam then at him. "If he needs cuddled, I'll gladly do it."
"He'll wake up if you move him and you'll get one of the many bitchy Sammy faces."
"Do not swear at me."
He looked at her. "It's the truth."
"There's other words."
"Fine." She smiled. "You can change him if you want the next time. One less for us to."
She laughed. "We'll see." She looked at the two Xanders. "What happened to his eye?"
"He said an insane minion of a hugely evil thing popped it," Dean said. He went back to icing his side. It didn't really hurt but it'd keep her from fussing. He hated being fussed over. Sammy would soak it up. He'd let her feed his candy habit though since she looked like she baked.
"Poor babies." She stroked over one's hair, making them both jump and the one she touched reach for his waistband. "No need for that, Xander."
He looked at her. "Don't sneak up on me please." He snuggled in again, falling back asleep. His twin would watch.
Dean tossed the ice pack at him. "I've got it. She's a grandmothering person."
That one blinked at her. "Can you make cookies? Dean and both of us love sugar."
"That's because you're so sweet," she said with a smile. She patted him on the head. "I can do that. Is his eye giving him problems?"
"It's been over a year. Why would it be?"
"Is it there?" she asked. He shook his head. "All right. Does he have to rinse it periodically?"
"He probably should but it's gross."
"Fine. We can handle that if we have to." She stood up. "I'll make cookies when you guys get into the house." They nodded. Tim came in with Calleigh and Ryan. Calleigh was rubbing her forehead. She smiled at her very unsubtle baby. "I said I'd make cookies when you boys got into your house."
"Sure," Speed agreed with a grin. "We love your cookies." She gave him a hug. Then she let him go and left. Calleigh waved at the boys then left too. "Go ahead, Wolfe. I've got 'em."
"Okay. If you're sure. Nice meeting you boys." He left.
"Ryan's a bit OCD but he's okay," he told the boys. "He'll be good and calm down around you four." He sat down at Sammy's feet, making him wake up slightly. He stroked his stomach and he went back to sleep.
"Huh, that's new," Dean said. "Maybe Jess trained that into him when he had nightmares." He shrugged. Then he yawned.
"I'm up," Xander 1 said quietly.
"There's no need to post a guard, guys," Speed assured them. "It's safe here." They gave him an odd look. "It is safe here."
"There's no salt lines, no other wards," Dean said.
Tim sighed. "I can do that. Horatio will crap but I can do that." He called him. "H, I'm laying down salt wards. Yeah, what it sounds like. Thanks, man." He hung up and went to get the salt in the cabinet. Fortunately he had once stocked Horatio's pantry himself. "Ah, sea salt." He came out to work on them, going for a thin, even line that would be easily cleaned up later. He did the openings out there then the full room the boys would be sharing, getting a nod from Dean for that practicality since he'd run out of salt if he tried to ring the whole house. "There." He put the small bit back into the cabinet. "Relax, Dean."
Dean nodded, laying down on top of Sam's head and around his shoulder and arm, resting on his stomach. It was a protective move he'd learned years ago that comforted Sam if he woke up and let him know if something was wrong faster. He was asleep within minutes.
Tim smiled at the baby who woke up. "Shh, Dean's asleep," he said. Sam beamed and patted his brother, letting him sleep. He yawned and drifted off again. It was all good to him. His new body needed a nap.
Horatio came home to a wonderful smelling house and two running boys. He caught Xander, making him shout. "It's me, Xander. I didn't need run over." He smiled. "Go play in the living room." He put him down and let him run that way. He closed the door, heading toward the kitchen. "My house has not smelled that good in quite a while."
"That's because you don't eat."
"You did learn nagging from Alexx," he joked back.
"Of course. It's nice she cared." He finished cutting up stuff for Sam and walked out a few bowls. "Guys? Go ahead and shower, Horatio. There's some for you." Horatio went to do that while the boys came over to sit around the coffeetable. "Try not to spill it." He shifted Sam so he was sitting up. "I made it really small so you can suck it down too, Sam." He fed him the first bite, watching him lick his lips and lean forward. He fed him another bite.
Dean looked at his bowl after the first bite. "These don't taste like the normal ravioli from the can."
"That's because I made them fresh, Dean," Speed said patiently. "I'm a very good cook. There's hardly going to be any cans or boxes in the house." He glanced at him. "I'll teach you." He got back to feeding Sam, who was happy with it.
"I can make box stuff," Dean protested.
Speed looked at him. "Of course you can. There'll be plenty of food in the house. Don't stress over it, Dean." He sighed but nodded, digging in again. "We'll go grocery shopping together the first time if I can get Eric or someone to watch the other three." Both Xanders pouted. "You can go the next time, unless you're going to be picky eaters?"
The shy one shook his head quickly.
"I'm not either," Dean said. "Neither's Sammy. We had a lot of boxed stuff because Dad couldn't really cook."
Tim leaned closer to him. "I'm an excellent cook. My father left hunting and opened a restaurant in Syracuse." Dean gaped. "I'm pretty fluent in three different languages in the kitchen. Even with that there's going to be times I'm going to order out, because it never tastes the same at home, and there's going to be times when I'll let you boys pig out on chips for dinner, just like normal kids get." Dean grinned at that. "Quit stressing. I like to cook. It's a relaxing hobby."
"Thanks." He grinned at Xander. "No food allergies, pickiness?"
They both shook their heads. "No, Tim."
"Anything that was a favorite when you were a kid?" He shrugged. "You sure?"
"Willow's mom made this melty thing with thin, white, round cheese, plain tuna with some cracker crumbs mixed in, and put it on thick, not white bread."
"Huh. We can see if I can find that stuff down here." Xander grinned at that.
Dean looked at him. "Nothing your mom made?"
"My mom didn't cook," he said, eating another bite of dinner. His twin looked at him. "She didn't."
"No, she didn't," he agreed. He finished his and settled in to watch the others. "Is there going to be a big kitchen like on tv?"
"Eventually. I'll have to change some things around some day." He grinned at them then at Sam. "You can even help pick out what color you want your walls eventually, Sam." The baby squealed at that.
Eric walked in, pausing to take a picture with his phone. "That's so adorable."
"Of course I am," Speed said, cracking up the boys. He feed Sam his last bite then scraped the extra sauce for him. "Still hungry?" Sam sucked on his fingers, grinning. "Let me know, Sam. I don't read minds." The baby nodded. "Good boy." He turned to look at them. They had all scraped their bowls clean. He looked at Eric. "So, our house?"
"Dad's fixing the roof. It'll be done later tomorrow. The rest is sound but not exciting."
"Fixing it up can come later when we have the money."
"About that." Speed gave him an odd look. "Someone asked why I had handed it in for you. I had to tell them you had just gotten custody of your boys. They did a background and came up where you had died."
"And we told them...."
"It was a coverup." He smirked. "H got the Chief in on it. He talked to them and said it was. H said it was. They said it'll be about a day before they announce it and then about ten days before they can pay it out. Are you taking it all at once?"
Speed nodded. "That'll work best. I can invest whatever I don't need up-front." Horatio came out of the bathroom. "Food's on the stove." Horatio went to get some. Eric looked in. "I made extra." He looked at Dean. "Sometimes he's a bottomless pit," he said quietly, cracking Dean up. Sam belched so he looked at him. "Better?" The baby grinned and nodded. "Good!" The baby babbled at him. "Hmm. What's up? Need changed again or what?" He squealed at that. "Is that a yes?" he teased.
"I think he wants a bath," Dean said. The baby let out a shriek of pleasure. "Yup, he wants a bath." The other smiled. "We can go in together." Sam scowled at him. "What? Not like I care what you're packing, baby brother." The scowl got worse. "Fine, whatever."
"We'll figure all that stuff out," Speed promised. He looked at Sam. "Someone has to wash you, Sam. Want me to do it?" He gave him an iffy look. "Me, Dean, or one of the Xanders." He pointed at his brother. "Then I'll referee and help." He looked at Horatio. Then at the boys. "Bedtime is when?"
"Midnight," they all said together.
Horatio snorted. "My nephew tried that many times, boys. Fat chance. Eight or nine is usual, Speed. By the way, good ravioli. Thank you."
"Welcome." He looked at Eric. "My kitchen?"
"Eighties dark wood and appliances." He shrugged. "You can have that upgraded soon." That got a nod and Speed hauled the boys into the bathroom with him. The two Xanders sat and watched whatever Horatio was on tv. Eric sat on the other side of them. The boys stared at him. "Yeah, we're gonna be watching Tim for a very long time so he can't escape."
"Does that mean you can take us to the beach to watch bikinis?" Horatio choked. "Tim said you could."
"I can," he agreed with a grin. "When you're older, we can take you clubbing too."
"Mastered that at sixteen," Dean called.
Xander nodded. "Us too. It was the only place to play in town plus gave us pretty good hunting." Dean leaned around the door. "It did."
"How did you guys manage to stay alive?"
"Patrol and dumb luck."
"Ah." He went back to his getting ready for a bath. Finally the tub had water and he got in. He was handed Sammy. He grinned. "Washing time." Sam scowled at him. "Quit. I did it plenty of times when I was this age before." He got the baby shampoo Tim handed him and wet down Sam's hair carefully, starting there. Then down onto his back and arms. Then he rinsed him and got his legs under the water after shifting him some so he was resting against the tub. He looked at the tiny body. "Gotta do the butt, Sammy. Don't get too happy." Sam let out a shriek of outrage. "Me or Tim." Another shriek. Tim came over to help do that for him so he did his own. "This stuff smells like girls."
"Baby shampoo often does," Speed agreed. "Don't use the blue bottle. H will pout." Dean grinned, getting the regular shampoo to use instead. Then he got to work on his body while Tim got Sammy out and laid him on a towel to dry off and put on a clean diaper. He came over to get Dean's back then let him rinse off however he wanted. Dean got out and dried off, wrapping a towel around his waist. "I didn't master that move until I was ten," he said dryly.
"I'm talented," Dean quipped.
"Go get dressed. Willow and Dawn got you pajamas."
"Boxers?" he asked hopefully.
"Don't know." Dean huffed but went to look. "Bring me something for Sam?"
"Of course." He tossed in a pair of footy pajamas for his baby brother. "We're done, guys." They went to take a bath. Dean listened, they were splashing around and being happy. It was good Xander got happy about some things. He climbed up next to Horatio. The tv was playing something on the Discovery channel. "Got any good blackmail I can have so he won't dress us up too cutesy?" he asked quietly.
"Yup," Eric said. Dean smirked at him. "But he can't do cutesy with you guys. You're boys. It's my sisters you have to watch out for. You'll see them tomorrow." Horatio gave him an odd look. "Mama said to bring them over. I wasn't going to let the whole clan invade your house, H."
"Thank you for that, Eric." He went back to watching the show on bridge engineering.
"Dean, come get Sam?" Tim called. He came in to get his baby brother, carrying him back to the couch. Horatio took him so he could climb back up onto it. Tim grinned at the twins. "You two like water?" They beamed and nodded. "That's pretty cool. Eric dives so you can ask him all sorts of questions about the nasty water we have around here. Maybe he can tell you how to avoid alligators liking you like they like him."
"Not funny," Eric called. "I haven't seen an alligator in a few weeks."
"No water bodies?"
"He did underwater recovery before joining the lab." He got them both clean and let them splash around for a bit. When the water started to get cold, he got them out and dried off, they ran off to get dressed. He let out the water and rinsed out the tub then went to watch tv too. "Do any of you guys want to help me tinker with Xander's car engine sometime soon? It sounds pitiful."
Dean's face lit up. "I like cars."
"I saw. Yours is amazing, Dean. In great condition with all the wear and tear you put on it." He beamed. "We'll work on that together." That got a happier nod. He picked up Sam to hold and got beside Dean. The other two came out and wiggled into free spaces on Eric's sides. He grinned when they started to ask Eric about diving stuff. Eric pulled them off to the side of the living room to talk to them about that, telling some great stories that made the boys gape in awe. Tim looked at Dean. "Like to swim too?"
"I can swim. It's good exercise."
"It's fun now and then," Speed agreed.
"It's okay." He shrugged. "We can swim."
Tim stroked over his head to flatten down his hair. "We'll work it out, kiddo."
Dean looked up at him. "We still remember."
"Yup but you still need to retrain yourself too."
"Good point." He settled in to watch the show on engineering. It was interesting, kind of, so he could get into it. He had no idea he was drifting off against Tim's side.
Tim looked down at the first snore with a grin. He looked at Eric. Those two were yawning too. He cleared his throat. Eric nodded, getting the boys to the bathroom before bed. They pouted but went. It had been a long day. Horatio took Sam since he was still awake. Speed carefully picked up Dean, waking him up. "Putting you to bed, Dean," he said in his ear, getting a nod. He put him on one side of the bed. "Once Sam's more tired I'll put him next to you. Give it an hour." Dean nodded again and the other two curled up in a ball of Xander. He patted them all on the head before leaving them in there. Sam was yawning around his fingers. "Ready to go down too?" Sam nodded. "Okay." He took him in there, letting Dean use him as a teddy bear. That was fine with him and they were okay. He backed out, closing the door part of the way before going back to the couch. "Hopefully they sleep all night."
"Sam should," Eric agreed. "You do that pretty well."
"I had experience babysitting your nieces and nephews."
Eric smirked. "True. Mama wants to see them tomorrow."
"Your family will destroy H's house."
"That's why you're coming over."
"I'll warn the boys about your sisters." Eric laughed. "Was the roof the only problem?"
"The whole thing could use replaced but Poppi is fixing that one spot that's leaking for the moment. I was there today when furniture mysteriously appeared. So did a large shipping case and two cars."
"One a black Impala?" Eric nodded. "That's Dean and Sam's car. Specifically Dean's car, and no one but him touches it."
"I drove them both into the garage. Not even scratched. The case said only they could unpack it?"
"They're demon hunters, Eric. That's things like Dean's shotgun."
Horatio looked at him. "Hunters do use weapons?"
"Depends on the hunter. I know some do. I heard slayers use stakes." He shrugged. "I have no idea what they had in their arsenals. Xander was acting weapons guy for the Watchers Council and all the slayers. There's no telling what they had since they decorated in swords."
"I'll have to look over them."
"Sure. Dean's a gun nut too so they can handle that with you if you want." He smirked and settled in to watch tv for a bit. "We've got to work on the name issue with Xander. I can't call them one and two."
"Alexx said you'd probably have to get them their booster shots again," Eric said. "Plus she was worried about schooling."
"I can home school with the best of 'em," Speed said.
"They want you to have an advanced degree and if they look...."
"Willow's fixing it."
Horatio moaned. "That poor system." Speed gave him a dirty look. "She was in ours this morning and it crashed it. She apologized but still, that poor system."
Speed shrugged. "She said she's pretty good. Was it the self-defense measure they were talking about putting in?"
"They still haven't," Horatio admitted. "No, it was a synching glitch. When our computer tech caught her, she explained why and he squealed all over the lab."
"Speaking of, Stetler heard and wants to talk to you," Eric said, looking a bit grimmer.
"If he wants to know what happened, take him down to the bar on eighth, Eric."
"They wouldn't eat him. He'd taste bad."
Speed shrugged. "He can't deny it if it's in front of him." He looked toward the bedroom at a moan. Eric shook his head so he stayed. Then one screamed so he went in to help with the nightmares. "Hey. It's all right, Xander." He got him calmed down while Dean got Sam back to sleep. "What was it about?" He shook his head, shaking but not crying. "You can tell me, Xander. I'll understand. I have a few of my own." Xander shook his head again but he calmed himself down so he wasn't shaking. "If that's what you want. If you need to talk, you can talk to me."
"It was nothing. Replay of the last hellmouth battle," he said quietly, looking at his worried other half. "It'll be fine." That one pulled him down. "I was replaying the walk into the hellmouth. The army was bigger and all that."
"Dude, you went *into* the hellmouth?" Dean demanded. Both Xanders nodded. "Was it dirty and nasty?"
"She had redecorated the outer meeting area with an army of Turok-Han and her insane altar," the shyer Xander said. "We had to keep the Turok-Han off the girls as they fought to the altar and spilled blood." He scratched his shoulder. "I'm fine. Just one of those 'they magnified the army' dreams."
"Dude, we've been in fights, but never *battles*," Dean said.
Xander looked at him. "We had yearly apocalypses. I've been in three, four?" He shrugged. "Something like that." He closed his eyes. "Thanks, Tim."
"Welcome, Xander. Remember, if any of you need to talk about this stuff, come to me. My father quit when I was eight but I saw plenty before then and then as a cop. Got it?" They nodded. "Good boys." They settled in and he stayed with them until they fell asleep again, smiling at the happy Sam. He let Sam suck on his finger and he went back down too. Then he snuck out and went back to the living room. "PTSD nightmare."
"I was listening," Horatio admitted. "Apocalypses? Plural?"
"Yeah, plural." He nodded. "Now they happen in Cleveland."
"Better there than Miami. Miami's bigger and we have nosier people. People would talk and panic others."
"Though it might get Ryan's little reporter friend eaten."
Horatio scowled at him. "She serves a purpose, Eric."
"She's still a pain in the ass."
"So are you some days," Speed reminded him.
"Fine." He looked at him. "I'm a good friend. I got you laid all the time."
Speed nodded. "Yeah, but they usually tried to steal clothes." Eric snorted, shaking his head. "Leave Wolfe alone, Eric. He's doing wonderfully for having no mentoring like we got, and for having to find the mole so he couldn't bond to anyone early on." Eric slumped. "Thank you." He looked at Horatio. "I smacked you on the head for that, right?" He nodded quickly. "Decent." He yawned and stretched. "Let me go shower. I rinsed out the tub."
"Thank you. The shower spray is under the sink, Speed." He nodded, going to do that.
"Mama is going to fuss over those boys," Eric said quietly.
"They didn't like Alexx doing it. Dean ducked away from her. The other two were using bait and distract tactics."
Eric smirked. "They'll have to put up with some, H. Alexx won't let him raise those boys without her help."
"I'm sure they will." He stretched. "Good night, Eric."
"Night, H." He left, heading to talk to his mother and warn her the boys were wary of mothering. His father snorted but said they'd deal with it. Eric had. They settled in to watch tv over there and make plans for Speed's boys. He'd need a lot of help with four mouthy ones in his control.
They walked into the house, finally, and paused. "Oh, look, the Gothic Traditional fairy decorated," Speed said dryly, blinking at the heavy tapestry and dark wood furniture. Both Xanders cackled. "I guess it'll work."
Dean looked in the living room. "That's nearly scary."
Xander nodded. "Willow did it." They went to explore the house. The kitchen was stuffed with food from Alexx and Mama Delko. The bedrooms were nice. Xander's bed was covered with a plastic sheet. The other one was okay. A bit damp. Speed came in to take off the sheet and flip the mattress. They could curl up together if they needed to. Dean and Sammy's room had a bigger bed and a toddler sized bed for Sammy. One of those that adjusted out. Sam went down on it since he was napping after being passed around to every Delko woman in existence, including the baby ones to play with him. They went to explore the rest of the house. The garage was nice, stuffed full with both cars in there. The back room had the big box of weapons, and it was a crate like you found on ships. Speed blinked. He looked down at Xander. Who shrugged. "What?" he asked.
"I wanna see," Dean said.
"Once we can get the proper stuff to hang it up and hide it, guys," Speed ordered. They nodded at that. "Did we see anything we needed?"
"Workout space?" Dean suggested. Speed nodded at that. "Or we can jog around outside."
"There's probably a good trail around the fence," he agreed. They had about an acre around the house and it was well fenced off. Xander went outside to look at the trees. Speed smiled at Dean. "Think you can manage it?"
"Of course," he snorted. "You'll need a changing table."
"Good point." He went to make a list. Someone knocked on the door so he detoured to answer it. "Yes?" he asked.
"I'll be damned, you're not dead," Frank said. "This guy is a lottery official."
Speed let them inside. "No, I'm not dead. Long story." One of the Xanders peaked around the corner. "This is Frank, one of my former coworkers, Xander." He came out to stare at him, then grinned before running off again.
Frank pointed. "You have kids and never told anyone? Does Alexx know?"
"Now. They're not mine, I'm their guardian."
"Oh. That makes more sense." He looked at the pursed lip lottery official then at him. "Let me look around."
"Sure." He looked at him, leaning on the back of the couch. "What's wrong?"
"The store that sold the ticket has no record of it." The wish demon over childhoods came down to look at him. He squeaked. "Who're you?"
"Talina. Vengeance over Lost Childhoods." He swallowed hard. "I'm watching over the boys since I had to arrange things to get them to their guardian." The guy looked like he was going to wet himself. "I bought the ticket for Tim. He asked me to."
"Oh, I see." He swallowed, then looked at him. "We could find no evidence of other tampering but we'll have to do a small ceremony to announce it. It's good publicity and makes people want to win more."
"As long as we can do it subtly, that's fine. Can we do newspapers instead of the tv press?"
"That we can arrange." He swallowed again. "Are the boys all right?"
"Just fine for being smartass little bastards." She looked at Tim. "You can't encourage them to hunt."
"I'm not. I'm encouraging them to be fit so they don't end up overweight. I'm encouraging them to be CSI, like I was."
She smirked. "Which would include weapons training?"
"Someone's got to follow Calleigh and they're already gun nuts. It'd be a good job for them."
"Fine. I guess that doesn't break that rule." She disappeared.
"Sorry," Tim said.
He nodded. "That's fine. We can announce it tomorrow if you'd like. Get the money to you the day afterward?" Speed nodded at that. "You'd have to have documentation that you're you and alive."
Tim looked at the package on the coffeetable, digging into it. He came up with all the documents he needed for all the boys. He handed over his birth certificate. "The death certificate was erased from the system."
"Thank you, sir. If they ask, what are your upcoming plans?"
"Renovating the kitchen and the garage. We'll dig down a few feet and sink the garage a bit so it's better covered during a hurricane. Reinforce and replace the old roof since they had to fix a leaking spot. Get the boys some toys. Some books."
He nodded. "That's fine. Can you be there at ten tomorrow?"
"I've been promised a babysitter anytime I need one," he assured him, getting a smirk back from Dean who was watching them. "Get the boys a snack?"
"Xanders found an orange tree. They're nibbled once the one with the patch said it was good."
"That's fine." He looked at the guy again. "Twins. Both named the same."
"That's going to cause confusion in school."
"That's reasonable with some of the local ones." He filled out the paperwork in his briefcase. Tim signed it. Then he left, heading back to the office. His boss apparently knew about these things since he was scowling when he mentioned that visitor. There was nothing they could do however. The sale was now on record. The video surveillance showed her buying it. The ticket hadn't been altered in any way except folded. The boss did slip the word about that family into the ear of a demon in DHHR. Social Services needed to know about that. Money often unbalanced things.
Tim came home from the lottery thing, finding Marisol with the boys. "We can redo the kitchen this weekend." They cheered. "They eat lunch, Marisol?"
"They did. They were good boys for me, Speed." She handed over Sam, kissing the baby on the cheek. "He's adorable."
"Yes he is. Especially when he wants something." The baby beamed at him. "Want down or with Dean? Hungry?" The baby waved a hand at that. "I can do that."
"I'll get some of the stuff in the container that Mama Delko sent over," Dean told him. He walked off. They'd talk later about that woman. Speed finally got rid of her. "I didn't know Eric was a halfie."
"He's not. Marisol's sick."
"Yeah, that's a good way to get tainted. We made sure she didn't do more than cuddle Sammy." He handed over the bowl and looked outside. "The boys are climbing trees."
"They dragged a chair out."
Tim smiled. "That's fine." He leaned over to look. "Don't get too high, guys. That one won't hold me if I have to come up to get you." They nodded. "Want a book?" They grinned and shook their heads, going back to cuddling and talking. He looked at Dean. "You good?"
"I'm fine. When can we unpack the weapons?"
"Late next week. We have to put in some security measures H is planning with Calleigh first." He fed Sam a bite, making him a happy baby. "Pretty soon you'll be crawling after him." Sam spit at that.
"He moved from sitting up to walking. I don't remember him ever crawling."
"Some kids do. Eric's youngest niece up and walked one day without warning because she was bored. They had been worried she was a bit slow because it took her so long." He fed him another bite. "What do we want for dinner, Dean?"
"Some of the leftovers so they don't spoil?" He looked out as someone walked up to the door. "Looks like an uptight, lips pursed social worker."
"Charming." He handed Dean the spoon when she knocked, heading out there. "Yes? Did you need something?"
"I'm Miss Baret with Miami-Dade Department of Health and Human Resources, sir."
"I knew you were a social worker, Miss Baret. I worked with you once as a CSI. What did you need?"
"May I come in?"
"Do you have a good reason to want to?" he countered.
She scowled. "Of course I do. We got a call saying you had four children that are not your own?"
"I'm their guardian." He let her inside. "I do have the appropriate paperwork."
She looked around the living room. "It's a bit...dusty in here."
"We only moved in two days ago," he said dryly. "Feel lucky it's unpacked."
"You don't have to be hostile."
"The last time I saw you, you were taking a child away from a good family because some airhead in charge said that the child's emotional problems were abuse when in truth it was seeing his mother blown away in front of him. His remaining parent and older siblings had
been doing a wonderful job helping that one over the trauma but you still took the child, put it into a larger institutional setting that made the child attempt suicide and the father had to get the child out of the hospital and fight you at the same time." She sneered. He gave her a cold look back. "We just moved in. Yes, it's going to be a bit dusty for a few more days while we finish moving things around where we want them. Some of that is also the dirt the boys brought in from playing. As happy children do."
"It was still reported you had children that are not yours." He found the papers in the box and handed them over. "Why did you move them?"
"Because the people they were with up there while waiting on me can't have children in the house. They've had two attacks on the house for being a small, private, non-religious school. The boys would've been in danger. Since I've been down here myself for many years and I have many ties I brought the boys back down here and they agreed."
"How are you related to them?"
"That should be in there." She found it and sneered harder at it.
Xander 1, the more aggressive Xander, strolled in, looking at her. "Cool, a Fraset." She stiffened, looking at him. He stared back. "You must get out your evil tendencies by dealing with the bad parents. At least you're doing good for the world."
"How do you know what I am?"
"I'm from Sunnydale originally, before it fell in. My aunt Buffy told me." She shuddered. "Since we can't stay at the watchers council building because it's not safe for us, we moved in with Tim."
"Did someone tell you that?"
Xander smirked. "Maybe you should talk to your clan's leader," he said in a demon language. She gave him a horrified look, backing up. "There's a higher up who wanted us here. Tim's a neutral being, he's protecting us from both sides."
"Why?" she asked, sounding shaky.
Dean strolled out. "Hi, Dean Winchester." She blinked, looking confused. "Big brother to Sammy Winchester."
Xander smirked. "Alexander Lavelle Harris," he said, holding up his hand.
"Oh, Dark God," she whimpered. "You were deaged?" They nodded. "Then you're a hunter too?" she asked Tim.
"My father was. I'm neutral. Both sides want the boys. I'm a safe area and they're not supposed to do more than to try to get Sam."
"The other two?"
"Sammy's the one the Yellow Eyed Demon wants to be his heir," Dean told her.
"I've heard of that, but not his name." She looked at him. "The lottery?"
Tim shrugged. "Just lucky I guess," he said with a smirk of his own. "We'll be doing some minor renovations to the house. You can tour to make sure it's fit."
"I will be. Who decorated?"
"Willow," Xander said.
"No wonder. Things are said about her among the clans." She went to look around the house. "The boys share rooms?"
"They do," Speed agreed, following her around. He noticed Dean had Sam out back.
She saw his room. "What will you be doing when the urge hits you to bring a cheap woman home?"
"I have babysitters and better taste than that." She stared. "You didn't realize I'm the same Tim Speedle who used to be on the Miami-Dade Felony Crime Lab team?" She shuddered. "Directly under Horatio, yes."
She found the big box. "What is this?"
"Stuff the boys had in storage before. We won't be unpacking it until late next week, when we get shelves and things put up. After I get the money, put in a washer and drier, update the kitchen so it has new appliances, get them some more clothes and toys, and a changing table."
She turned to look at him. "You don't like me, do you?"
"I think you were sent to hurt the boys. They only send you out to places where you can be an evil bitch from what I remember."
"You have no source of income?"
"I will after Saturday. Other than that, I can get a job with my old department as quality control or something I'm sure. Right now I'm focusing on the boys."
"The older ones should be in preschool."
"They can already read. They're being home schooled unless they want to go to a normal school."
"You'd need a degree."
"You mean like my masters in Forensic Sciences?" he said. "With honors I might add. I did it in a year even. I had been in medical school."
She swallowed. "I see." He grinned. "It's clear why they chose you."
He nodded. "Pretty much. Now, did you see anything wrong except lacking a changing table?"
"You need to clean up the boys' rooms."
"They're boys. They can have toys in their rooms. They clean it now and then when I need them to."
"You're not keeping a good eye on them?"
"They're only in the backyard. We have a fence. I will take down anyone who comes for those boys in a bad way."
"Is that why you're no longer with the department?"
"No, it's more that I got shot in the line of duty. For some reason a higher demon was making it so I couldn't clean my gun. I think they wanted to take down Horatio."
"Oh." She looked around then at him. "If you were correct about why I was sent, there could be pressure applied."
He grinned. "No there won't be. Because the first thing I'll do is call Willow. She'll tell Buffy and the other slayers while helping me fix it."
She shuddered, tensing up. "I see. The fact one has a soul countdown going on?"
"They can't take him as a child," he said dryly. She gaped. "We'll be talking to them soon enough I'm sure."
Willow appeared to bop Tim on the arm with a rolled-up scroll. "The deal he took to save Sam. It has eight good outs. Including his age."
"Thanks, Willow. This is Miss Baret, with Social Services."
"Cool, a Fraset. You guys aren't usually involved in an apocalypse. Which there will be if the boys are touched," she said with a grin. She stiffened more. "The slayers lost their tempers big time over Xander."
Xander 2 leaned around the doorway. "Willow, would you like a glass of water?"
"No thanks, Xander. I came down to talk to Tim." She smiled. "You look so adorable!" He fled before she could hug him. "That's not nice, Mister," she called after him. She smiled at the social worker again. "Is there a huge problem? I know he's settling in so things aren't in perfect shape at the moment. He still has to get a washer and that stuff."
"It does meet minimum standards set," she said stiffly.
"More than that, lady."
"There's not a lot of food in the house."
"Once I get paid and get new appliances in, there's going to be tons of food. My dad owns a restaurant so I can cook. Until then, we've got leftovers from the people who are very happy I'm a father and a pretty decent pantry. I can whip up a four course feast out of it."
"You seem to have an answer for everything, Mr. Speedle."
"That's because you came into this assuming I was some drunken bastard without skills. I'm clearly not and the boys are well cared for and we'll learn to love each other as time goes on. I've only had them about five days."
"Fine." She walked off. "I'll be back in a few weeks."
"Go for it if it makes you feel good," he called after her, waving with an evil smirk. She shot a glare at him before she slammed the door.
"Bitch," Willow said.
"You can swear, I didn't know that," Dean said. "Why would she know Xander more than us?"
"The higher ones are what you guys go after. Slayers go after the lower classes and vamps," Willow told him. "Though, the highers do not like Xander either. He tends to mess up prophecies and the bad guys' plans." She smiled at Tim. "Let me see what I can do. I left the ideas in the file. That's a copy. Don't worry, Dean. We found a few good out clauses." She zipped off again. She was not about to let a flesh-eating demon be a social worker. Especially not an evil one. "Giles, I found a Fraset being a social worker in Miami."
"Call someone down there. That can't be good for anyone."
"She was bothering Tim and the boys."
"We'll use some pressure," he agreed. There was no way he was going to allow that near those boys.
Tim smiled as Horatio walked into the house. "We are going to go appliance shopping if you wanted to come, H."
"I take it we've been paid?"
"I have cash in hand," he agreed dryly. Horatio smiled. "Plus we need more diapers." Sam pouted. "I know you're down to two."
"I just happen to have the car seats we're borrowing until you can get them some," Horatio said.
"Willow's trying to undo the spell so we can be near our normal age," Xander 2 said quietly.
"She said she's doubtful she can do it, but if so she'll warn us first," Tim said, picking him up to look at. "Even if you do age out of the carseats, we can donate them." Xander grinned at him. "C'mon. H, are we taking the hummer or Xander's car?"
"The hummer. That way you can grocery shop."
"Let me pack Sam's diaper bag." Dean walked out with it. "Remember food?"
"We're out of yogurt tubes."
"That's fine, we can eat lunch out." He grinned and the boys were checked for clothes and shoes. "Last potty break until lunch." Both Xanders headed for one. Dean got a look, and he went too. He looked at Sam. "Need changed before we go?" Sam shook his head. "Okay." He went to strap him in. The others got herded by Horatio, who locked the door behind them. They all got buckled in and it was good enough. He got into the front, buckling himself in. "Home Depot or Lowes?"
"I prefer Lowes but Home Depot would probably have a better selection since they've got more decorating things. Sears? They'd have the same things plus the changing table and clothes for the boys."
"I could do Sears." They headed to Sears. The one Horatio liked had a grocery store across the street too. Speed went to look at the appliances, picking out what he wanted. That, a changing table, and some new clothes and they were down about three grand out of the ten he had brought with him. They agreed to deliver today and haul off the other stuff to a donation place. They went to the grocery store and loaded up. Dean pointed at a few things and Tim got them. The shyer Xander pointed at one box of cereal, getting a grin and it being handed over too. The more aggressive Xander stared at the meat like it was strange. Which in one case it was since it was ostrich meat.
He loaded them up with Horatio's help. They got back to the house and packed the pantry, cleaning out the fridge to an ice chest Horatio had filled. Then they unplugged the old ones and hauled them outside. The boys helped by putting up the canned goods and soda the more aggressive Xander had pouted his way into. Horatio gave him tolerant looks. The Sears guys got there and unloaded. The stove was a tight fit but Tim could saw off a small piece of the counter and fit it in there. It did and it was good. They hauled off the old stuff once the tv and that stuff was inside, and had gotten tipped. Tim sighed in pleasure.
"Now all you need are new cabinets and countertops," Horatio teased with a smirk.
"Yeah but that can come when I hire Eric's father to finish fixing the roof." That got a nod. "And to put on a small sitting area out back. Because we have a mudhole next to the kitchen." The boys all grinned. Xander 2 had been finger painting Sam with the mud last night before their baths. "How is Miss Baret?" Horatio growled. Sam looked at him, looking shocked. "He's not an animal but he does a good impersonation of a guard dog, Sam." He smirked. "She showed up. Someone turned her onto the boys."
"Someone also got her fired. We heard there was a lot of political pressure. All the way down from the Governor."
"Gotta love Wills. She goes right to the person in charge," Xander said dryly.
Speed moaned, shaking his head. "Figures. By the way, Dean. She found eight good out clauses for the contract." Dean beamed. "Plus the fact they can't take you at your age." He looked at Horatio again. "So."
"So. What's for dinner?"
"We didn't buy a grill but I do have a grill plate for the stove and those nice pork chops. Want to stay?"
"I wouldn't mind." The boys cheered and went to play outside. Sam pouted. "H, take him out too?"
"If he wants." He picked the baby up, getting a happy look. "We'll go sit in the sun, Samuel." He walked him out there to watch the boys play around. Tim had created a tire swing for the boys and someone was sneaking some play equipment in. Another delivery truck showed up and more play equipment was put in. Monkey bars, balance beams, climbing towers, a baby safe swing on the swing side. A few ropes to climb or swing on. A small kiddie pool too. Speed came out to tip Eric's father, getting a hug back. "Thanks, Poppi."
"Welcome, Speed." He grinned at the awed children. "Go ahead. I anchored it so you could play." They dove for it, but Xander 2 stayed on the tire swing. He looked at Speed. "What's next?"
"Kitchen counter and cabinets, plus the roof."
"Could use it, Tim."
"I know. Now I have the money to do that." That got a nod. "Come see?" He came in to see the new appliances, frowning at the cut next to the stove. "It was a bit too wide."
"It happens. What sort of counter were you thinking about?"
"Something good I can cook on." He pulled out a catalog he had gotten from Sears, pointing at one. "I love that one." That got a smirk. "I know it's too small to put in an island."
"Not if you expand it back some. We can do that out to a deck too. Give the boys somewhere to sit when they're tired." That got a nod. Mr. Delko drew it out for him. He already knew about what it'd cost. He knew Tim was a very good cook who'd want some more room. "Any other changes you want made?"
"How deep can you dig down to recess the garage a bit? It'll make it safer during a hurricane."
He considered it. "At the most, four feet."
"Can we do that? The Impala's special to Dean and Sam."
"That's not that hard to do. We can turn the other one into a storage area or a play area for the boys. Or even a place to let them run and scream," he said at one shriek. He looked out. "Is that what I think it is?"
"I think Xander has Eric's curse. Boys, don't touch the alligator," he called.
"I've already called it in," Horatio called back. "Boys?" They ran far around it. One of the two Xander's nearly got chased but he managed to evade. A truck showed up twenty minutes later while Mr. Delko was figuring out the estimate for the work that needed to be done. They got the alligator and left with it.
"That's insane," Dean said. Sam babbled at him. "I know one nearly bit Dad on that one case, but we're not near the water."
"Someone could've been raising it and let it go," Horatio told him. "They do that now and then." That got a nod and the boys went back to the gym setup. He let Sam down, watching him play with the grass. The baby grinned at him. "Not too long. You'll burn." Sam nodded, giving the ground a look. He sighed in displeasure so Horatio took him over to the baby swing, putting him in to push him. Sam squealed in happiness.
Dean leaned down from the monkey bars. "Good work, Sammy." He grinned and went back to it. These could help retrain his body very well. Plus be a bit fun. He got down and watched Xander go across the usual way. "Did you guys not train?" he asked him.
"Nope. On the job training," Xander said before hopping off the last bar. He looked at Dean. "You guys trained?"
"Dad was a Marine. We did PT daily."
Xander nodded. "I used to work construction." He walked off, going to talk to his other half. "You can come play."
"Then go nap."
"I was going to."
"Inside where it's soft?"
He stared at him. "Mr. Delko's nice."
"I know. I'm good here. Go away."
"Fine." He went back to playing. He still couldn't climb a rope. Dean smirked. "I know I'm not perfect." He gave up and went to swing, making Sam happy. "Hey, squirt." Sam babbled and waved his arms. "It is good to swing. Swinging makes you feel better." He started his swing too, making Sam a happy boy, even though he did scowl at his brother. Dean rolled his eyes. He knew what that look meant.
Tim leaned out an hour later. "Guys, want lunch? I made grilled ham and cheese." They ran inside to eat. Horatio carried in Sam. Sam got his bowl of chopped up ham and cheese gooeyness. Sam beamed and fed himself this time. The boys dug into that and their diet sodas. Dean gave it an odd look. Tim smirked. "Eric and Calleigh won't drink regular and it has just as much caffeine, with less sugar." He gave Horatio his sandwich and sat down with his own. The boys finished up, both Xander's went to the bathroom, Dean too afterward, then they went back to playing. "Eric's dad can do the cabinets and stuff next weekend and the roof the following week while someone digs down for a better fortified garage. Digging it down means less chance a hurricane can pick it up."
"That's not a bad idea," he agreed. "Is the house steel?" Speed nodded. "Good." Sam burped. He smiled at him. "Need help with that?" He let out another one then beamed and tried to grab Horatio's sandwich. Tim tore off part of his to hand over, earning happy baby grins. "You are a growing boy, Sam. We'll feed you all you want." Sam beamed at him and stuffed his mouth. He looked at Speed. "Then what?"
"Then we unpack the weapons once you and Calleigh anti-theft lock the old garage. The new one's going to be beside it and a bit bigger."
"I know where your bike went."
Speed moaned. "I'd love to have her back but I can't carry the boys with me."
"You do have babysitters, Speed."
"True. How much do they want for her?"
"It's being held for tax auction. Your parents surrendered it to pay the death taxes." Speed moaned. "By the way, someone told them. They wanted to make sure it wasn't like what happened in Sunnydale?"
"No, it won't be the same problem they had. I'll call him later." Horatio smiled, letting Sam down. Sam pouted at him. "Try crawling or walking, Sam." Sam slapped the floor. Tim got down to help him stand up. A few shaky almost steps and Sam sat back down. "We'll work on it together this week." The baby smiled. "Think you can crawl?" Sam shook his head. "Okay." He took him out to put him into the swing, letting him have some fun too. Horatio came out to sit in the shade and help him.
Horatio, Calleigh, Dean, Xander 1, and Tim all gathered to unpack the box of stored weapons, looking around the newly recreated weapons room. Horatio had brought a pry bar for the crate. Calleigh had a notepad and her laptop so she could check things for being stolen. Because if they were, she'd have to confiscate it. She knew it was important but stolen weapons were still a bad thing. Horatio got the top of the crate off, finding a letter. He opened it. "Willow did the packing spell?"
"I think that means Giles decided some of the stuff I stocked in the armory up there wasn't good," Xander 1 said. "He's not real fond of the more modern ways but yay. I can ask Faith if we need to."
Speed nodded. "Okay." They took off the top of the side that was two half panels, exposing a few very nice weapons.
"Baby," Dean said, coming over to pat them as they were brought out. Calleigh took them to look them up, look them over, then put them in their proper place. Finally Dean's weapons were on his side of the garage.
Tim found the next card under the packing material to separate the layers. "Looks like it's a spell." Xander came over to mumble it. The crate disappeared and instead was Xander's haul.
"Damn," Dean said in awe.
Xander shrugged. "We have apocalypses yearly. I should call Faith." He patted Tim down to find his cellphone, calling up there. "Mandy, can I talk to Faith?" He waited. "Faith, Xander. Giles packed a lot more than he should have." He beamed. "He did get a good armorer? That's great. Why did he pack the apocalypse vault?" He cackled. "Even better. Then I'm not upset. No, I didn't want to think about you girls being without. Sure, Miami. Thanks, dear." He hung up. "They have a real armorer who has underworld ties and got them better stuff than what I could find on the way to Cleveland. So we don't have to worry and he is teaching all the girls about every single type of weapon there is."
Horatio cleared his throat. "Xander, why did you need an RPG system?"
Xander blinked at him. "Should've had one at Graduation. We wouldn't have had to blow up the school to defeat the higher snake demon that was about ninety feet long."
Horatio blinked, considering that. "I'd like to hear more about what you handled."
Xander gave him a serious look. "Do you need more nightmares than the cases give you?" he asked quietly.
"Then it happened in the past and if the girls need it, he's got the contacts to handle stuff."
"I've never heard of a demon that big," Dean complained.
"It was an ascension. The mayor turned into a higher level, pure demon."
"Shit," Dean said, gaping. "What the fuck, dude!" Xander grinned. "Your graduation from high school?"
"Yeah. It was the last step and he was the speaker. We had a two-part plan. He had some vamps and other smaller demons there to herd the food sources toward him and to keep anyone like Buffy from stopping him. We dealt with them while she lured him into the school and we blew it up with him inside. Then later on my construction crew rebuilt the school on the same foundation and it was worse, but it got sucked in first when the First Evil stuff happened."
Dean gaped. "I should bow."
Xander shrugged. "You guys handled higher things that possess people. We handled the lower classes that look funny, talk a lot of strange languages, and now and then wanted to end the world."
Dean swallowed. "Thanks."
"Not an issue and not all my doing. Buffy's the slayer. I'm the normal guy."
Dean gave him an odd look. "Uh-huh." He went back to petting some of the stuff.
"The artillery may not stay in Miami," Horatio said calmly. "Someone will hear and try for it." The boys pouted. "I'm sorry but it's too dangerous."
Calleigh nodded. "It is. We can mark it as an inheritance that got turned over so no one has to get upset or too nosy." They sorted out the bigger things. Xander had a lot of swords, a battle axe or three, a few crossbows - modern and older wooden style, some stakes, and a few guns. Xander petted one of the axes before putting it into a good spot. Dean got to pet his shotgun; he got to pet his axe. Calleigh looked at the boys then at Speed. "Did you grow up with them?"
He shook his head. "My father was a trapper and banisher for the most part. He had stuff for deer hunting but no weapons and he wasn't really training me all that much at my age."
"We need to put a devil's trap somewhere," Dean said.
Xander looked confused. "There's a devil's trap that works? The ones we found in the books wouldn't hold vamps."
"I can get us a diagram," Dean said. "Can I log online?" Tim nodded, letting him do that.
Horatio looked at all the weapons then at his coworkers. "It looks like we're set if Miami's invaded."
Xander shuddered. "Don't even joke about that. LA's having one this spring." They groaned and Horatio went to call someone out there that he knew, who would know about demons. He went back to petting his babies. "I'm sorry you'll be going away. We'll miss you."
Calleigh pulled him over to give him a hug. "They don't have feelings."
"How do you know? I know the one tube was possessed at one time. Giles had to banish it. It kept trying to bean its former owner for thinking about using it."
She blinked. "Okay," she decided. She gathered things into Horatio's hummer and her jeep, and they took them back to log into the destruction system. They'd need a dispo run soon.
Tim pulled out the envelope that had been under a case, handing it to Xander. He frowned, saying the spell on it. The rest of his stuff appeared, making him a happy boy. They pulled up the plates that hid the specially shielded, waterproofed, and secure storage under the old garage's floor that Mr. Delko had put in. All but one fit and that one wasn't so bad so he'd let it be in the more open of a cabinet in the room. Dean came back to look at them, whistling. Tim smirked. Xander grinned. It'd be their secret. The boys got to settle in and play with the weapons of choice. Dean definitely wanted to see Xander's guns. Xander wanted to see his crossbows. Dean liked them too so they settled in next to each other. The other Xander was watching but didn't want to play with them. He wanted to cuddle Sam for a bit. Apparently he was Xander's softer, gentler side.
Xander 1 curled up beside his other half, getting a squeeze. "I don't know why they think it was something special," he whispered.
"Not everyone could do what we did. It was special for that reason." He gave himself a cuddle. They clearly needed it. Dean had given him too many awed looks and it made him uncomfortable. "They would have too." Xander nodded. "They didn't have to deal with the same sort of stress. They had their own sort. Always moving, the next hunt, getting hurt on hunts, taking care of Sammy." He stroked over the damp, dark hair. "What they did was more special because they knew why they were doing it. They had a purpose beyond fighting in a never-ending war that will someday kill us."
Xander 1 looked at his other half. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He cuddled him, letting him fall asleep. Someone tapped then walked in. "Sammy having problems, Dean?"
"Nah." He pulled himself up, looking at the sleeping Xander, then at him. "He okay?"
"You kinda freaked him out. I wasn't that special, Dean."
"My dad would've freaked out at any of those things. We never needed more than a shotgun." Xander 2 shrugged. "That says that it was major."
"Maybe that's in the eye of the beholder, Dean. To us it was a nightly thing that we went out to do. Like any soldier, only the war was unwinable and we were holding onto what little territory we had gained."
"See, we go out and hit one or two things a month. Not that nightly shit unless we were tracking and then we still moved on."
Xander 2 nodded. "That can happen but it still wasn't special. We had no super powers, no magic, very little training that we had to learn on the job. That's not special. We were the normal guy."
Speed leaned in. "Sometimes a normal viewpoint is the only thing that makes the special ones see reality. If you guys break into the ice cream, don't leave it out this time." He went back to bed, his chest hurting for the boys in there. Xander clearly had self-esteem issues. Dean didn't have many, he had some abandonment and PTSD issues. Xander had those too, but his were for different reasons. He texted Alexx; he knew she'd have something wise to say in the morning. Both those guys needed held and cuddled. They wouldn't let him, or anyone do so. He had no idea how to relate to combat trauma. He had never been that badly traumatized on the job. If she didn't know, she'd ask someone who would and tell him. The boys were still talking. Dean was trying to convince Xander it was something special. "He'll try for days," he said quietly. "And never make him see it. I want to beat his original parents." He turned onto his side, drifting off slowly. Dean was getting a bit loud. Sam woke up so he started to move.
"Thanks. Then go to bed so you're not cranky tomorrow."
"Whatever, dude." He went to look at his little brother. "Sorry." Sam grinned at him. He pulled him over to his bed, cuddling with him until Sam fell back asleep against his chest. "Someone needed to beat Xander's parents," he whispered in his brother's ear. "He talks about battles and nightly patrol like it's nothing." He squeezed Sam. "You'll never be that badly hurt, Sammy. I promise. I kept it from getting you last time; I will this time too." He let the quiet huffing calm him back into sleep. God, he wished his dad were back. He'd help Xander and he'd make sure they were protected from all this crap the higher demons' plan had started.
Horatio looked up as Alexx walked into his office the next morning. "Problems?"
"Timmy realized that Xander has very low self esteem."
"I noticed it yesterday when we were unpacking that crate. The boy believes that everything he did was nothing special. That anyone could have and would have done just as good as he did. And that maybe the girls would've respected him more if someone else had done it. Dean was giving him awed looks because Xander handled bigger small issues whereas Dean's family handles mostly bigger issues one at a time."
"He wanted to know how to cushion it for the boy."
"No matter how many times you encourage it, it'll take time and he'll have to see that for himself. The problem I was worried about was Dean kept trying to keep Marisol away from Sam."
She pursed her lips. "Do we think maybe something happened?"
"I do not know." Eric leaned around Alexx's arm. "Yes, your sister."
"I saw that move of his. I asked, he said she's tainted?"
"She probably did something like 'I'll sell part of my soul to stay healthy'," Alexx said. "Or at least give her more time. Because I've never seen a cancer patient who looked as healthy as she does, Eric. No hair loss, no weight loss from getting sick."
"I noticed that stopped a few months back. Why is Dean worried?"
"Because the higher things want Sam," Horatio told him. "They've been trying for years to get Sam to lead their army."
"Aw, shit. I hate that stuff."
"It may have a good reason," Horatio said. "I'm sure she wouldn't but Dean won't be taking that chance."
"Mama saw too and she got to wondering. She was going to talk to Mari today." He shrugged. "I don't know. This has gone far beyond my skills at logic or any other ability. I'll deal with it some other time." They smiled. "Why are we meeting?"
"Speed realized Xander has some serious low self esteem," Alexx said.
He nodded. "Yeah. I'd like to dig up his parents and kill them. So?"
Horatio smiled. "It'll take time to even that out. Yesterday set off another bout while we were unpacking that crate."
"Do you think you got all the big things?" Alexx asked.
"No. Eric's father put in a hidden set of under-floor areas in the old garage." They smirked. "But it'll be fine." His boss came in and Horatio stood up. "Sir. Is there a problem?"
"Wondering where that artillery you and Duquesne checked in yesterday came from."
"A young boy inherited it from his father. As a favor to him, Calleigh and I went over the collection to weed out any extreme weapons."
"Was the former owner an officer or someone we'd normally not worry about?"
"He ran an armory."
"Oh, I see." He grimace. "We only confiscated the larger things?"
"His son is already well trained on most of the others. We also made sure that the storage area he's using is fairly well sealed and secure."
"Hmm. What sort of armorer? Gangs or otherwise?"
"People like Speed's dad," Eric said.
"Ah. That's why. Yes, I have heard about that life. I do not like how it sounds."
"Neither do we but someone has to do the job," Alexx said.
Eric nodded. "Or else we wouldn't have Calleigh."
"I see." He looked around then nodded. "Very well then. Does he have other things we should have in custody?"
"Perhaps, but they're being looked over at the moment. It went from those things down a stake and a sword, sir."
"Wonderful. Thank you for doing that before the boy get pissed at his teachers one day and uses it on the school."
"He's being home schooled." The Chief rolled his eyes. "That way he gets things like Latin at a very early age."
Speed strolled in with Xander, pointing him at Alexx. "Tell her."
Xander blinked at her. "Tell him I can too bandage my own cuts."
"No, you can't."
"Yes I can. I'm very good at it. I've even learned how to stitch."
She stared down at him. "Unless you've been to medical school, no. You may not do that in Miami, Xander. I can do them for you. Speed can put on bandages as well. We believe in the ER around here."
Xander pouted. "It's because I'm small."
"No, I'd protest anyone of any age doing it. That is something only a doctor or someone trained should do."
"But I am trained, kinda."
"I meant formally trained, Xander. Not home trained because you needed it. It's a good skill to have when you're in the field. Right now, you're not in the field and you have people who can do it for you. Fall back to learning new skills and training more."
He sulked. "Being little sucks."
"I know, sugar, but we all had to be little at least once." He glared. She gave him a look back. "Now, let's see this cut?" He sighed and moved his shirt. "There's no way you could do those on your own."
"I did one on my lower back last year," he complained.
She looked at that scar. "Not bad. Fairly straight and even it looks like. Good job." She looked at the current one. "It only needs bandaged."
"Which is what I said but Tim went hyper spastic when I got one and told me I couldn't put it on myself."
"That's why he's there, Xander." She got into Horatio's first aid kit to get the neosporin and bandage, plus tape, to cover it. He sighed, letting her do it. "Thank you." She kissed him on the head. "Until you're back to normal again, let us handle those things," she said quietly. He shook his head. "Yes, you'll have to." She stood up, patting him on the head. "There you go, Speedy."
He grinned. "Thank you." Xander glared at him too. "You, quit, or no eggos for breakfast. I'll make omelets and make you all eat real food again."
"We don't mind when you do that," he said weakly.
"Dean kicks up a fit. You'd have to listen to it."
He shrugged, looking down. "It's nice to have someone cook."
Tim patted through his hair. "Thanks, kiddo." He picked him up to hold and cuddle. "Thank you, Alexx."
"Welcome, baby." She stroked over Xander's head, watching him duck away. "You can let us handle some things."
"We can still do a lot."
"I'm sure you can. But that's what we're here for. That way you don't have to until you're bigger." He nodded, putting his head down. "Good boy." She kissed him on the ear. "I'll make muffins this weekend with you boys, how about that?"
"Eric's dad is redoing the kitchen," Speed said.
"Then maybe you four can come over to play with my two." Xander grinned. "My girl is about five and she'd smother Sam in attention." He shrugged. "I know, ask Dean." He grinned. "Why don't you go back to bed?"
"I'll nap after breakfast." He yawned again. Speed kissed him on the head, waving as he walked the boy out.
"Oh my god you are alive," a female voice in the hall said. "And he's adorable!"
"Eww," Xander said. "Girl germs."
She giggled. The people in the office grinned at that. Even the Chief.
Dean stomped over to where Tim was sitting in the sun reading to Sam. "Why can't he see that?" he demanded.
"Because his parents weren't that good." He put down the book. "He knows he was important but this is a self esteem problem, Dean. He'll get better once he's used to having people who give a damn about him."
"And his thing with wishes?"
"He used to date a wish demon. He told me he's even seen alternate realities thanks to that when I asked." Dean slumped, sitting next to him. "I know. It's hard and painful to watch but he'll get better the more he realizes we like him for being Xander."
Dean looked at him. "It was important. My dad and us couldn't have done it."
"Yup, my dad either. I have the feeling that now and then the girls gave him that 'normal guy' line too, probably thinking they were protecting him." Dean snorted, shaking his head. "You'll both be getting over some of the issues you kept from your last lives as you age again. Things like abandonment," he said when Dean scowled at him. "Sammy's not leaving you."
"He can do college this time really easily."
"The demon still wants him, Dean. It'll never be safe for him to go back. He knows that."
Dean slumped again, nodding. "The hunting life is still hurting him."
"That's for him to decide, not for his protective big brother to decide for him," Tim said gently. Dean looked at him. "Every person has to make the decision to fight or not based on what they feel they can do and what they feel is right in their souls. You could have walked away even though it would've been harder." He reached down to stroke down some flyaway hair. "You need a trim."
"We can do that later. Sammy'll really need one soon."
"I noticed that." He smiled. "It'll be fine, Dean. We'll do what we can to keep things as even as possible."
"Does that mean you have to let the tainted one watch him?"
"I don't think Marisol's going to hurt him. She's pretty sick and she apparently made a deal to not die looking horrible and to ease the symptoms. I've never seen a cancer patient that didn't lose at least some of their hair."
Dean gave him an odd look. "She does?" Tim nodded. "Huh."
"I know she's made a deal but I doubt they're going to use her to try to get to Sam. They know her family's very strongly Catholic. If her mother knew, her mother would have her rebaptized and then beaten to death." Dean grinned a bit. "Seriously. Mama Delko is not one you want to screw with. I've seen her take a spoon to Eric's head once when he was dating some slutty girl." Dean snickered. "He does a lot of that, yeah." He smiled at Sam. "I'm sure you have better taste, right?" Sam nodded quickly.
"He said Jess was sweet," Dean said quietly. "A good girl."
"Everyone needs a good girl in their lives. For some it's their mother. For some it's their girlfriends. For some they obsess and stalk them so they go to jail." Dean relaxed again. "Whatever happens will, Dean. That's not for you to decide."
"What if I decide not to bring him with me to protect him?"
"If Sam's really serious about going back to the life, he'll hunt you down and beat you with a spoon," Speed said. Dean grinned. "Won't he?"
"Probably with the shotgun, but yeah." He leaned closer. "Battleaxes?"
"Apparently they used it. Xander petted that one like you petted your shotgun."
Dean nodded at that. "Are your parents coming down?"
"No. My father and I don't get along. It's better if he stays in Syracuse." Dean nodded at that. "What did happen to your dad?"
"The daughter of the demon after the family had a possessed semi hit the car we were in. He sold his soul to get me out of a coma," Dean said, looking at him.
Speed nodded at that. "That sucks, dude."
"Very. If I could see him, I'd go off on him. Then let Sammy go off on him."
"You should let Xander do it."
Dean grinned. "Xander 2 does have a mouth on him." He looked at his brother, who was staring at him. "What? He does."
Sam blinked then kicked at his brother's head. He cackled and did it again.
"Fine, you'll make your own decisions, bitch," he muttered. Sam nodded, beaming until he let out a belch. That got a sigh of pleasure and him going back to kicking Dean in the head. "Hey! You can't get me back for all the pranks, dude. It's not right. I won."
Sam cackled and kicked him again, scoring on his ear. "I think he's being a little beast today," Speed said.
Dean snorted. "You have no idea. I think he used to get the runs on purpose to make Dad and me gag while we changed him for us being on the road." He got up. "How do I help him?"
"It'll take time but quit staring at him like he's a super warrior," Speed ordered. "You're creeping him out."
"I can do that. This is one of those times I kinda wish Dad were here. He'd straighten things out and call the demon so she'd know she can't have me."
"I can do that. Did we get the devil's trap figure?" He nodded. "Go draw it in the old garage."
"She can still float over weapons."
"Good point. Um, hmm. Where to put it?"
"The right side of the house has no one that watches it," Xander 1 said from the doorway. "We can put it into the dirt there." They nodded and Dean went to print it off to work on carving it into the dirt. "I'm fine."
"I know you are." He waved him out. "I know it creeps you out, Xander. I also know that not everyone could do that, especially not every night. So for now we'll leave it as it was something special and you did a good job."
"But I did wrong things too," he said quietly.
Speed gave him a hug. "There's no such thing as a perfect person, Xander. Sometimes doing the right thing is really wrong." He made the boy look at him. "One of the hardest arrests I made as a rookie was some woman who had just killed the guy who was beating her to death. She got arrested in the ER right before she went in for ten hours of surgery to repair the problems he had caused. It's right by the law, but unfair to her since she was protecting herself, and a bad thing to do in any book of morals I hold accountable and right."
"Can we talk?"
"Sure." He put Sam down. "Wait on me, Sam." He walked Xander inside, taking him to his room to talk to him. "What happened?" Xander curled up in front of him, telling him about Angelus and how he had sent him to hell. Speed considered it for a minute. "Would she have been able to stop him?" Xander looked up, shaking his head. "Even in hindsight?"
"No. Not if she knew."
"Then it wasn't a bad thing, Xander. That was a good thing but it caused pain." He pulled him closer to hug. "Things like that happen to good people but they do suck and we hate when they happen. We really hate when they happen but all officers are faced with similar dilemmas. You did what you had to do so that everyone but her wasn't hurt. Did she eventually see why?"
"I don't know that she doesn't know. We don't talk about that."
"I can see why." He smiled at the boy. "If it makes you feel better, I would have done the same thing and H probably would've taken him out for her to spare her that pain. Maybe made up a slight lie that another hunter or higher demon had."
Xander relaxed, nodding. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Anything like that you can talk to me about. I never hunted but I saw my father doing it. The same as you could probably talk to H if you wanted. He'd definitely understand." Xander nodded, wiggling free. "Good. Now, go read to Sammy?" Xander smiled, going to do that. Speed laid back on his bed, thinking about that situation. It was very clear Xander was in the right and Willow shouldn't have even attempted the spell a second time. Buffy shouldn't have been emotionally involved with him but she was a teenage girl with first love issues. It was a sucky situation and he hated those. They made the soul ache for years. He got up and went to write H and email about talking to Xander when he needed to. They'd understand each other scarily well.
He was so glad he had never hunted. It destroyed your soul like nothing else.
Sam lay on his bed later that night, staring at the ceiling, thinking hard. No matter what Dean said his thinking face looked like on his current body, he wasn't crapping himself, he was thinking. He was thinking about all the fussy people who were driving both Xanders and Dean nuts. None of them had been fussed over. He sure hadn't. Dean hadn't since their mother died. Speed did good but the fussy people kept getting around him. Especially Eric's sisters. They were nearly gaggingly fussy. He glanced over at Dean, who was snoring, then back at the ceiling again.
This would be so much easier with dad, he decided. He'd make them quit creeping the other boys out by fussing at them. Even Alexx, who was nice, but it was still odd to be cooed over and cuddled and tickled and read to and held; they treated him like a doll half the time and a precious statue the rest. Though it was nice both Xanders and Dean had nearly dropped him at least once. Plus Xander 2 kept bringing him out to the tire swing and putting him inside while he crawled on top to swing on it. It was fun. He mentally sighed, wishing for his father to come back from hell. He'd stop the women. Before Xander had a screaming fit at one of them. He was ready to snap since he had been surrounded by cranky women for most of his life.
Both of them hid whenever anyone but Horatio and Eric showed up. Calleigh had learned not to bother him in the armory unless she was going in there to clean weapons with him or Dean. Alexx wanted them locked out of the armory, even after seeing Dean shooting a perfect target with a light pistol and Xander cleaning one of the swords. Speed had calmed her down a bit but she was still complaining. She was going to drive Speed nuts. Maybe they should all head to Kansas or South Dakota? It'd save their sanity. Maybe. He hoped. Because he was going to lose it on Marisol Delko the next time she tried to get him to do something like shopping with her. He didn't know how Xander had stood being dragged everywhere with shopping girls. Yeah, Dad would help that, if only he was back from hell. Well, wishes were all well and good but there weren't any wish demons in the house.
One of the higher, more or less neutral, demons heard the wish and grimaced. He did not like this plan. It made for a stronger future against them and gave the three hunters, or four depending on if you counted the twins as the single person they really were, a stronger reason to hunt them all down and kill them all. He checked on the children, seeing the darkness in the one's soul. If they weren't careful, he'd take over hell, earth, and the higher planes to destroy them all for doing this to him. He pulled one of the higher demons not involved in this plan to watch over them with him, showing them what he saw. That demon gave him a disgusted look. "Look at their souls, Frod. Look at the anger this has created. The rage and the thoughts of darkness. Even if we would gain the one from the prophecy, the others would keep him from having anything to rule. That one that's split can do great harm on his own. Even when he was a single person. Look what he did in Sunnydale."
He looked at them again, seeing what he was. "They can be healed."
"Not as it stands. Samuel was just lamenting mentally about the others fussing over him. How it was going to drive the hunters over the edge and their guardian as well."
He grimaced. "That would turn him softer. Take his edge."
"He wanted to hurt one of them. Dean will end up hurting someone. As will one of the twins. That aggressive side has some of the darkness but the other has more."
Frod, whose real name was unpronounceable, frowned, taking a deeper look. At least until Xander 2 fought back against the magic sensing him. Then he had a sharp, intense headache that would not go away even with a healing and regenerative gift. "The caretaker is a good choice to keep them softer. He neither stops nor encourages the hunting."
"He'll let them go back but that's not a current issue. I do believe that no demons will ever be safe, even the harmless ones, after this incident. The rage grows at each day this plan goes on."
"Hmm. Some easing of the rage would possibly keep us safer."
The first demon nodded. "But how?"
"Samuel wants less fluffiness; give them that wish. Someone who can stand up to those women and who can train the boys not to let the rage out. One who would not let them destroy all."
The first demon gave him an awed look. "He did wish for his father to stop them."
Frod nodded. "That may help." He took the viewing to the senior council, looking at them. "We do realize that you have created a rage deep enough to destroy not only all the good on the human's planet but all other planes and our lives as well?" They stared. He showed it to them. This time Xander fought back harder, giving himself a headache and them all severe migraines, some with bleeding ears and eyes if they were on stalks. "Look at the rage in the souls. They would not care if they destroyed everyone as long as the ones who did this to them are destroyed. All of those boys have the means to do that. You need to give them someone to counter some of that. Timothy is good but he has to try to soften some of the damage their old upbringings created. The others try to help lessen the rage as well, but even they will not help. The fussing women aren't helping at all and one is tainted so she's not going to be getting near Samuel because of Dean." He looked at them. "You're creating a triad or quad that can destroy us all. Highers, lowers, all planes and everywhere on that planet as well. Remember, Xander knows how to build massive weapons. Dean could probably help with the knowledge he carries. Samuel would see it delivered correctly even if it means sacrificing himself."
The others considered it, looking at each other. "What do you suggest?" the head of the council asked.
"Another player in this game. One who can grease some of the gears and ease some of the strain. One Dean would listen to. One who might even show a bit of loyalty to us for giving him back his life."
"That one would never show loyalty to us," the head of the Council said dryly.
"No but he may relent when he sees what sort of damage his boys will be doing to the non- demonic. Also if Samuel wishes much louder, someone will hear. If only because they see what Xander will do, split or not, in the future."
She considered it, then looked at the others. "He is a bit angry."
D'Hoffryn appeared, looking at them. "More than a bit. I have watched the boy in the past. He has vowed to find a way to destroy all of us. In most humans we'd laugh. In him.... He may be able to find the Lost Things." They all shuddered. "Or possibly be stupid enough to open the Gate. With the taint he carries it's entirely possible it'll open readily to him if he finds the right spot and key."
That got a few more minutes of thought then everyone nodded. "Do so," they decided. The lower demons went to find a way to get John Winchester out of hell. Alive, whole, and out of hell.
Calleigh saw lightening hit outside her apartment and went to look, phone in hand. "Shit," she said, calling an ambulance on the way down to the small grassy area near her building's parking lot. "This is CSI Duquesne, I saw lightening or something like it hit a male next to my building. 321 Frostway. Thank you." She hung up right before dropping to her knees beside him. "Sir, calm down. An ambulance is on the way and I'm a police officer," she said, checking him visually. He looked rough. Familiar too. "Can you speak?" He groaned. His eyes fluttered. "It's all right, sir. You'll be okay."
"Not hell?" he murmured.
She smiled. "No, I'm not that mean. You're in Miami." An ambulance came screaming up. "He's barely lucid. I swear I saw lightening hit here."
"We've had a few odd strikes now and then," one assured her. They got down to check him over. "Whoever worked him over was sadistic," he said a minute later after getting his shirt off. Calleigh got on with them, holding up her ID. "Hey, CSI on site."
"I live there," she said with a wave at the building. "It'll be all right, sir. I'll find who did this to you."
He blinked at her. "Hell."
She stared back. "I'm sure it was."
He smiled just a bit. "Dean would like you." The pain medicine they gave him started to take effect and he drifted off again.
She looked at him. "What're the odds it's the same Dean I know?"
"There's millions of people in the city," the paramedic told her.
She looked at him. "True." But somehow she knew it was the same Dean. She called Horatio to meet them at the hospital. He had done a lot of checking into the boys' backgrounds. Willow had caught him so he had pictures too. She gathered the evidence off his clothes and bagged them while the nurses and doctors got to work stitching. Some things were bad but John refused to go to surgery when he woke up. Stitching, bandages, liniment, no surgery but he might stay overnight. She walked out, handing him the bag and the scene kit they stored in the ER. "He said his name is John Winchester."
Horatio looked then nodded once. "That he is."
"He said Dean would like me."
"All but the times you fuss over him," he said dryly, giving her a look. She gave him a dirty one back. "Want to stay and talk to him?"
"They'll be done in about an hour."
"I'll call Tim to let him know we've got more strange things going on." He went to do that. Speed was not happy to be woken up. "I think we have the start of a situation." He listened to him say it was going to be hell coming to beat him for waking him up. "We have a John Winchester that just appeared beside Calleigh's apartment building. Beaten up, cuts, bruises, torn skin. Two broken bones." He nodded. "Yes, he said Dean would like Calleigh." He got the same answer he gave her. "Memorial. He'll be staying at least for the day so you have time to break it to them. He does look just like the picture I found. That is why I woke you. That way you could tell the boys." He smiled. "That's fine." He hung up and walked back that way, looking at the man staring at Calleigh. "We need to debrief him," he told the nurse. "How soon before he's in a room?"
"Probably not for a good hour, Lieutenant. He'll probably be in a double." He nodded. "We're done for now. We can leave you guys alone for a bit." She adjusted his IV, took some notes for his chart, and left.
"You are? Did we meet?"
"I'm Lieutenant Horatio Caine, Miami-Dade Crime Lab. This is my coworker Calleigh Duquesne."
"Who you freaked out because Dean's an adorable four-year-old at the moment. He's with one of my friends."
John tried to sit up and groaned. He held in the scream by clenching his jaw until he could relax again. "How did that happen?"
Horatio gave him a look. "It was a plot to get Samuel easier and to remove a few decent hunters from the world. They got both your boys and another hunter named Xander Harris, who was split due to an earlier incident in his life."
"Long story," she told him. "Something named Toth or a Toth demon, whichever because Speed never clarified that, hit him a few years back with his warhammer and split him into two parts, one stronger and one weaker. When the demons deaged them, they decided he'd be too strong so they redid it."
John blinked. "How?"
"No clue," Horatio admitted. "The first we knew, a former friend had come back like you did earlier, though I do hope from a better place, because he had been given custody of the boys. That way they could stay together and he was neutral enough not to push the hunting but his father was one so he could reasonably protect even Samuel."
"Who does pout adorably at Marisol," Calleigh said, looking at him.
"Tim thinks she made a small deal to be a bit healthier for a while," he said quietly. "That's why Dean won't let her near Sam."
John swallowed. "So my boys are small?"
"With another former hunter," Horatio said. "Who is now twins."
John looked at his IV then at him. "I'm not on that good of pain medicine."
Horatio smiled. "It never seems to be enough when I'm in here either." The nurse came back in. "Moving him?"
"Not yet. Just checking on him." She looked him over then smiled at them. "He cannot take custody of the boys, unless he wants to take Dean and Xander. He can live with them. That was the purpose of bringing him back. Xander's and Dean's rage is going to destroy everyone on all planes."
"Sounds like my boy," John said dryly, giving her a look. "You got a name?"
She leaned closer. "I'm over Lost Childhoods, Winchester. I put your boys in the safest place I could when the higher ups did this." He nodded once. "And Xander wished that Tim would win the lottery, which is a double-edged sword."
"Okay," he agreed. "Anything else we should know?"
"Help Xander. He was not raised a hunter, he jumped into being a hunter after the vampires took who could have been his soulmate." John moaned. "When he was sixteen. As twins, his dark side is incredibly cute, but quiet."
"I thought the most aggressive one was darker than the quiet one," Horatio said.
"I'll help," John said.
"Reassure him that you coming back won't release the First Evil again."
John moaned. "Again?"
"That's how he lost an eye," Horatio said. "Well, one of them did. One of the thing's minions popped it."
John looked at him. "Is Sunnydale standing?"
"No. It's a giant crater and they're in Cleveland," Calleigh said. "Buffy's still alive. Willow too. Willow's the one who cast the wish that got us Tim back."
"Samuel's the one that cast the wish to get him back," she told her with a smirk. "Because he knew that John would keep Dean from blowing up at the women who fuss at them. And possibly Xander as well because the boy doesn't understand and it's going to send him off the deep end." She gave her a pointed look.
"I'll back off."
"Make the others. We'd all hate to see the world go boom when he finishes losing it." She looked at him. "You'll heal."
"I'll heal," he agreed. "I can stay with them?"
"We don't care if you date Timothy. Though I don't think you're his type. You simply can't have custody for more than a few days."
"So if something happens to Speed...." Horatio said.
She smiled. "You have sons, yes, Horatio. Gotta go stop someone from killing her parents, even though they do deserve it and I'll be doing it for her." She blinked out.
John blinked. "Xander would be a Harris?" They both nodded. "I heard of him right before I saved Dean's life." He frowned. "They said he was a bit reckless but also a smartass and wondered if he was a long lost son with some of the trouble only he and Sammy seem to be able to get into." He stared at him. "My boys are okay?"
"Mostly. Both Xanders and Dean take good care of Sammy. Speed does what he can and he's doing all that he can. Sometimes he's a bit lost healing some of the combat trauma and PTSD issues."
John nodded. "You said he was kin to a hunter?"
"Apparently his father used to before he retired and opened a restaurant. His father's a Speedle."
"I heard about him. A pretty good banisher instead of a true hunter. Didn't deal with anything that needed to be shot to kill."
"Maybe that's why Tim doesn't like guns," she said. "By the way, the boys' collection is very nice. I watch over it since I'm the ballistics tech in the lab."
"Does that mean my Impala's down here?" She beamed and nodded. "Good. Dean'll be happier when he can drive it again."
"Another twelve years."
John groaned. "Puberty was horrible the first time around."
"But Sam's so cute," she cooed. She pulled out pictures to show him. "That was last week at the park with all the Delkos, we work with Eric, that one, and Alexx, our ME. She adopted Speed because he needed mothering way back when. That's Marisol next to Eric and Xander 2 holding Sam. He likes to read to him when he can."
John smiled. "Just as adorable as the last time. Sam used to coo at girls so Dean could get candy." Horatio snickered. "They were a great team when they were little." He handed the picture back. "When do I get out?"
"Probably not for a few days," Horatio said. "You should've had surgery to close some of those injuries."
"Hell was mean to me," John told him. "I expected it to be when I made the deal to save Dean's life." The nurse and two orderlies came in. "How long am I in for?"
"At least a few days, sir. Your injuries are very severe. Are you two done?"
"We'll follow to make sure where he is. He's got some people who'd want to come see him," she said with a smile. They nodded, walking John off to the elevator to take upstairs.
Speed woke up Dean and Sam, nodding outside. "We gotta talk," he said quietly, carrying Sam with him. He settled them in on the swing set, looking down at them. "There was another play made by the higher ups."
"Are we getting another brother or sister?" Dean asked with a yawn.
"No, you're getting another parent." Dean stopped to stare at him. Sam gave him an awed look then giggled.
Dean looked down. "Did you maybe wish to have Dad back too?" Sam nodded. "And?" he asked Tim.
"He's pretty beaten up. Horatio called from Memorial. He'll be in there for a few days. Few broken bones, some cuts and stuff."
"Hell was mean to him I guess," Dean said, looking at Sam. "Does this mean you two'll fight?"
Sam looked up at him. "Gah." He scowled, then huffed.
Dean shook his head. Hopefully Sam would start talking soon. "No, yes?" Sam shook his head. "Okay." He looked at Tim. "He'll help protect us but there's probably a clause."
"We'll figure it out, guys, but I wanted to warn you outside of Xander's hearing. It'll probably upset him."
"If his parents show up, can I beat 'em?" Dean asked.
"Sure, right after Horatio does."
"Fine," he muttered, looking at his baby brother. "Dad's gotta be flipping out."
"Calleigh found him. He said you'd like her. That's how she knew."
"I would if she'd quit fussing and shit."
"Fine. Whatever, dude."
"If the authorities or someone hears you, we get more social worker visits."
"Besides, you sound like a thug and I'm not letting you go gansta. You'd look stupid in the bling and the low hanging pants." He stood up. "We'll take a field trip tomorrow to go see him. Do you want to bring the twins?"
Dean shrugged. "He might as well meet them. Is he coming back here?"
"We'll have to find a place for him other than the couch."
"There's that back storage area," Xander said from the doorway. "Not that hard to fix up even if it is a hike to the bathroom." He looked at Dean. "I don't need to go. It's your dad."
"He'll be helping all of us, Xander, and he can up the training you had too. I'm sure we'll all be doing PT eventually."
Xander shrugged. "I'm good." He went back to bed, going to cuddle his other half. He had been having nightmares and dark images again.
Speed looked at the house then at Sam. "I don't think it was only to help you two." Dean shook his head. "He okay?"
"He's okay enough," Dean admitted. "If I was that angry, I'd be kicking things." He stood up, looking at the baby he was holding. "Let's go back to sleep. This means a bath in the morning before the trip to the hospital." Sam grinned because he liked his bath time. "Sure, you and Xander can splash together all you want. Keeps me from drowning when you splash me." He walked them back inside, putting his baby brother into bed. Speed tucked them in together then went to his own. "He won't say too much stuff," he reassured Sam. "I'll yell again if he does." Sam blinked up at him. "I will. Just like last time, Sammy." Sam nodded, yawning and snuggling in. "You cuddle like a girl," he teased. Sam let out a wail of discontent. "Hey! Just teasing."
Speed came in to get the baby, taking him back to his bed. "C'mon. I appreciate snuggling. Girls do it to me and I'm sure that's where you learned it too." Sam babbled happily at him, waving an arm. They cuddled in together and Dean snuck in later. Speed got woken up when someone else snuck in but it felt like one of the Xander's. "Snuggle in, kiddo. I can do that." They both climbed up and got his back since Sam and Dean had his front. He smiled because his boys were so cute. When they were behaving. Most of the time.
John looked over from the crappy daytime court shows when the door opened, smiling at the boy leaning in. "You are four."
"I am four," he agreed. "But at least I'm potty trained."
"Thank God. It took me nearly three months the last time after your mom gave up because you'd only pee outside."
Dean smirked. "Good to know you remember that, Dad." He walked in. "They're outside. Xander doesn't want to come in." He stared at him. "So, clause?"
"I can't take custody for more than a few days. I'm there to protect you guys and to calm you and Xander down. Something about that temper of yours, son."
Dean snorted. "Put yourself here, Dad."
"I'd be pissed too."
"I'm so going to destroy the ones who did this," he agreed. The door opened and both Xanders trooped in, 2 was carrying Sam again. "Dude, we should get you a teddy bear. It'd be lighter than Sammy."
"Quit," Speed ordered. "Sam doesn't mind, or else I'd get him one." He looked at John. "Hi, Tim Speedle."
"I heard of your father." He shook his hand then held a rib. "I don't like this coming back to life stuff. It hurts." He looked at the twin boys staring at him, one from behind his younger son's head. "I was told to reassure you that the First Evil was not coming back because of this. I'm here to guard you boys, help Tim, and to help you guys deal with some of the issues he can't handle. Things like combat trauma." Xander 2 flinched.
"I've got to keep the boys neutral on hunting," Tim said, staring him down. "I can neither discourage nor encourage."
"Oh, we're going to hunt, if only to destroy the things that did this to us," Xander assured him.
Tim nodded. "I'd do the same thing," he agreed. Dean nodded. "There'd be lots of pretty bonfires if it were me, Xander." The boy smirked at him. "This gives you someone else to talk to about it. Or about the girls. Because those muffins this morning had to come from Willow. Alexx's banana nut muffins have pecans, not walnuts."
"I love my Wills," he agreed happily. "But they came from Dawn. Willow doesn't make them. She doesn't like nut muffins."
"Does that come with the lesbianism?" Dean teased. His father swatted him. "She is!"
"Still rude." He looked at Xander. "Do you get to see them?"
"If they come down. They're at the Watchers Council. Well, now they are the Watchers Council since the First Evil shit happened, but if they or the many slayers come down we can see them."
John stared at him. "It sounds like I missed one hell of an issue, kid."
Xander nodded. "Yeah, kinda." He looked at his twin, then took the baby. "Sit." He sat down, kicking his feet.
"Dude, my baby brother," Dean complained, taking him back. "You guys hold him more than I ever did." Sam slapped him. "Ow! Damn it, Sammy." Speed swatted him gently too. "Sorry. Baby nails."
"I do need to trim them," Speed admitted.
"Can I?" John asked. Dean held him up for him to take. He sat Sam on his lap, staring at him. "Hey, Sammy." Sam gave him a long stare then a smirk. "Yeah, you're Sammy. Clearly Sammy with that look." He shook his head. "The trouble you get into, son."
"Not his fault," Xander complained.
"Or yours," Tim said firmly.
"I was too good," he shot back. "That makes it partially my fault."
"No it means the ones who did it were stupid and making crack ho plans," Tim shot back. "Because even meth heads who're high and tinkering can't come up with a plan that bad."
Xander gave him an odd look. "You know some strange people."
"I arrested some of them. They like to tinker or build bombs."
"Oh." He nodded. "I can see how bombs are nice." He sat down beside his twin, letting him rest on his shoulder. "Sorry, he had some nightmares last night."
John looked over. "Any hunter who's ever faced anything has nightmares, Xander. I do, Dean does, I'm sure Sam does." They both nodded. He looked at Sam. "Can you talk yet?" He baby babbled. "Huh."
"Xander's only about two and he's fully verbal so once he regains that skill he should go from babble to full out Sammy talk," Dean said. "And walking too. Hopefully soon."
"He walked when he was about eight months old," John said. Sam smirked again. "Let me guess, it's diaper time? You used to give me that look every time you got the runs."
"I can change him," Xander 2 said.
"So can I," Dean agreed.
"Guys, I'm the adult," Speed pointed out.
John looked at him. "That never worked for me. Dean would go 'so' and shrug."
"I bake," he said dryly. Dean and Xander cackled. "I win a lot of arguments because I'll withhold baking." He took Sam to the bathroom to change, bringing him out minus pants. Xander 2 dug some out and handed them over. "Thanks, kiddo." He patted him on the head. Dean put Sam's pants back on while Tim stored the dirty ones in the bag inside the diaper bag.
A nurse leaned in. "Not too much longer, sir. Children shouldn't have to see things like that."
Dean looked at her. "I've seen worse than a few bandages, lady." She gaped. "Really." John swatted him gently. "Ow!"
"Be more polite."
"It's all right." She looked at Speed.
"Car accident," he excused.
"Oh, poor thing." She left, going to tell the others about that. They wouldn't nag the boy about it or call someone about the swearing they heard him do. It was clearly trauma related.
John handed Sam back. "They say I can get out in two days. The cute blonde one said she'd give me a ride over."
"We have a storage area we can make into a room for you," Speed assured him.
"How are you doing their PT?"
"They have a wonderful jungle gym setup," he said with a smirk. "Plus a large yard with some trees."
"That should work at their age," he agreed. "I'll see you boys in a few days?" They all nodded. "Sam, behave?" Sam spit at him then grinned and waved. "Uh-huh. Fine, torment your brother." He shook his head but Speed walked off laughing with the boys following him. He got to lie there and think about the kids. Because that one Xander was a bit creepy with the eye patch but the other one set off some bad signals in his head. He looked at the phone, finding a new calling card there. He called an old friend. "I'm back." He listened.
"No, someone brought me back to help Sammy and Dean. Not that way. No one told you the higher ups wanted to take them out of play so they're adorable again?" He listened to the gasp then the cackle. "They are. Sammy's about seven months." He smiled. "Miami. Yeah, him too. Just met him. Well, both of him. That is what I wanted to know. Please. Thanks. Hospital. Well, I did just get out of Hell, Ellen." She said something. "No, I was assured it wasn't going to happen but I'd like to hear about that." She said something. "Thanks. Met him, saw the boys just now. Dade Memorial for another two days." A woman leaned in. "Gotta go, new visitor. Sure, thanks, Ellen." He hung up. "Yes, ma'am? Do I know you?"
Alexx walked in. "I'm Alexx Woods. I adopted Speedy when he first got down here. He told me because the boys are like my grandbabies."
"Ah, one of the ones who fusses. I got warned about you guys." She gave him a dirty look. "Dean and Xander are both the macho sorts who don't understand fussing and would normally run from it if they had a choice. Dean would never let *anyone* fuss over him since his mother died unless they had cookies he wanted."
She sighed. "I've been trying to help them."
"Maybe it's because they have their old memories," he offered.
She nodded. "That could be. Xander does worry me a bit. He's too quiet."
"I'm sure this is wearing on him. I'll talk to him later." That supported his theory the boy was burnt out and so lost in his anger he'd explode soon. She stroked a hand over his face and he flinched away. "Don't. Please."
"I'm a doctor, John Winchester. I may be an ME but I did go to medical school. You had some good work done on you but a few of them are a bit loose at the top. It looks like they've kept it from infecting so far."
He nodded at that. "I'll remember that the next time we get injured, ma'am."
She stared at him. "I had to tell Xander about the wonderful things hospitals can do since he was doing his own stitches. You and your boys need the same talk?"
"I did do most of ours, but Sammy had a pretty good hand when he got older."
"If we walked into an ER with some of the injuries we had, they'd ask questions," he said quietly. "Especially on the boys." She gaped. "We did travel and they did get hurt a number of times."
She sighed. "Down here, you have support and I can help if it's a minor thing."
"We'll see," he assured her. "As long as it's not an attack or something."
"It won't happen," she snorted.
John looked at her. "Sam's wanted by one of the higher ups because he made him able to be tainted. With his history, they want him to lead an army to wipe out everyone like us," he said quietly. "The one thing that will always keep Sammy straight is Dean. The same as the one thing that'll keep Dean going is Sammy. Dean would give up his life for Sam."
"No, they have that solved," she said.
He raised an eyebrow. "I'll ask about that later." She smirked. "Not like I was in the loop in hell."
She shuddered. "No, I suppose you weren't." She stared at him. "How do we help the other babies?"
"Quit fussing. I was told to try to save the boys from all the fussing." She slumped. "They're not used to it. And some of Xander's scars are much older than he his hunting I would presume. Unless he comes from a family of them?"
"Not that I'm aware of. Oh, no, that baby was badly treated before?" He nodded. "You're sure?"
"I've seen it on plenty of kids. We lived in the shadows for a long time, ma'am."
"You can call me Alexx. We'll be seeing a lot of each other."
"You can call me John." She smiled. "It's like gentling a wild animal but I can tell you Dean will not let you fuss. No one gets that right since his mother died."
"He has another chance now. Time to heal."
"He might but he won't let anyone, even me, do it."
"Speedy might get to then. My boy learned well at my knee." She fussed over his sheets. "Do you need anything?"
"I could use something to wear when I get out."
"I'll make sure Speedy knows that." She smiled. "You get better and I'll see you the day you get out." She left, going to talk to Calleigh and Eric about the fussing and the boy's history. Horatio subtly agreed with them but that was fine. Eric could rein in his mother too. Plus explain why Dean hated Marisol so much.
John leaned back, shaking his head. "Miami has a lot fussier and nosier people than Kansas. I didn't think that was possible," he muttered.
to part 2