Tim looked at the boys once that room was cleaned out and swept by Xander 1, who had insisted. "Okay, let's look at the necessary things. Dean, what sort of bed would your dad like?"
He shrugged. "We spent most of the time in motels and rentals. As long as it's not too bad for his back I guess he'd be fine."
"The place by Eric's mother's den of baked goods and cheek pinching is having a sale," Xander 2 offered with a sweet grin.
"I think he'd mind if we got him a Disney Princess bed," Tim told him.
"Can we take a picture just to see his face?" Dean asked.
"Sure, we can do that. We'll find a girly canopy bed too." They all beamed at that. "For right now, what do we need?"
"Bed, dresser, mirror," Xander 1 said. "Night stand maybe? A lamp? Alarm clock? Sheets and pillows definitely."
"Dad had no idea why people matched sheets or why sheets came in colors other than white," Dean warned.
Tim snorted. "This is Miami, I'm not sure we can find white sheets." The boys all groaned. "Full, Queen, or King?"
"We're used to full or queen ones," Dean said.
"So anything bigger would be good," Tim decided. He considered it. "We can do that. The same furniture store we got the extra bookcases from should be good." They nodded. "Okay, someone go change Sam since he's making that face, and we'll go find him some bedroom furniture and maybe something nice for dinner the night he joins us." They ran to do that, Dean having to steal his brother back from Xander 2. Tim picked Xander up to look at him. "Would you want something like a bear to fuss over?" he asked quietly.
"No thank you. That's for kids."
"You are a kid at the moment."
"It's for littler kids."
Tim mentally sighed. "I know you need something to do, Xander, but Dean has always taken care of Sam and he wants to do some of it now so can you share with him without giving him hurt looks?"
"I'll be better."
Tim gave him a hug, even though Xander tried to push him away all the way into his bedroom. He closed them in and put the boy on the bed, sitting down next to him. "It's not about being better. You're being a good boy. You're being a great boy. You're helpful, you're sweet, you're quieter than Dean and Xander fighting. Stop it!" he bellowed to stop the current argument. He looked at him again. "It's not that you're causing a problem. See, Sam's been Dean's stability and touchstone ever since they lost their mom. He basically helped raise Sam." Xander nodded, looking down. He tipped his face up. "So you have to share helping Sam with him. If you want to play with Sam go ahead as long as Sam doesn't mind." Someone knocked. "No." He looked at the boy again. "I'm not mad at you. Dean's not mad at you. You just have to learn to share."
"I like taking care of him."
"Good. It's a great thing that you like to take care of things. You can help me take care of everyone if you want." Xander blinked at him. "It sucks sometimes, having to stay a bit away from you guys instead of taking you off to heal the traumas you're all showing. I'd love nothing more than to help you be a normal little boy. One without low self esteem and low self worth. One who was loving and going to be a fantastic boyfriend some day. One who didn't feel that the only value they had was how they treated others and how strong they were. I may not be able to heal all that though." Xander nodded at that. "So what I can do is help you heal however much I can and be there to be the parent you guys need. Even with John here."
"Helping Sammy is giving me something to do so the bad thoughts don't come." He groaned, leaning over to put his head on the blanket. "Sorry, Tim."
Tim patted him on the back. "Xander, one of the reasons John got brought back is because the demons realized that doing this to you guys meant you two and Dean could destroy everyone. All them, all us, everyone." The boy looked at him. He nodded. "They gave me some help to help heal the combat traumas and the anger."
"Why can't they undo it?"
"I don't think they can. They may never be able to. Maybe not Willow either."
Xander nodded, relaxing again. "Helping him means I have something to do beyond think."
"That's great, but you still have to let Dean have him sometimes. We can find other things for you to do. There's all sorts of hobbies, activities, even PT if you're that desperate." Xander nodded. "Can you share helping me take care of Sam with Dean?"
"Good." He gave him a hug, even though the boy struggled. "Stop it. Hugging is nice or else you wouldn't hug Sam all the time," he said quietly.
"I'd rather give than be smooshed."
"I'm not squeezing that hard." He looked at him. "You can like hugs. I'm not going to be mean and Alexx makes me take them all the time. She had to break me of my bad habit of running. Even though we're going to try to reduce the fussing over you guys it's easier if you let them sometimes." He smirked. "Beyond that, I saw a lot of boys and girls who had the same sort of bad parents yours clearly were." The boy went stiff again. "They ended up being on my caseload a lot, Xander. Even down here." Someone kicked at the door. "You do that again and I'm going to whip your ass," he called. He looked at him. "I'm not ever going to hurt you. No matter what. Never. I was raised pretty normally even if I can't stand my parents and they blame me for their marriage going to hell. I like to fuss sometimes and I like to bake and cook. It's never a problem if you guys want something. Even if you have been self-sufficient since this age the first time."
"Of course you are. But remember we can help. Me, the others, John." He made the boy look at him. "If you feel that overwhelmed, I need to know. That way we can make sure no one that'll set you off comes near you." Someone knocked. "Five more." He looked at the boy. "They're very protective over you."
"The original Toth spell meant that if you kill the weaker side they both died. We took that off, we think."
Tim leaned closer. "Even when you wake me up at two for no reason other than to stare at me, I'm not going to kill you." Xander giggled. "Good. Let me know?" He nodded. "Let Dean have some Sam time?"
"If he wants."
"Good boy. Now, go beat your other half for trying to kick in my door?" He nodded, going to pounce him to tell him about that. Tim calmed himself down, mentally swearing at Xander's parents. John didn't have a lot of choices in how his boys were raised. Xander's parents did and they had chosen to nearly ruin their son. He got up and went to check his door, then glared at Dean for the size of the footprint.
"He was upset!" Dean defended.
"Don't try it again unless it's an emergency, Dean. You know damn well I'm not going to hurt any of you." He pointed. "Let's go."
"Sammy's being changed again. He's being a bitch and decided I couldn't. Again."
Tim leaned down to get into his face. "It doesn't mean he doesn't love you. It means Sam's very sensitive to the emotions of others and he understands that Xander's clinging to him because it's helping him. He'll share Sam with you."
"Welcome." He pointed. "Go that way. Xander, his butt nearly clean?"
"Nearly. He has a slight rash so I'm putting on cream." He finally carried him out, looking at Dean. "Want to carry him to the car?" he asked sheepishly.
"Sure, I can do that." He grinned, taking Sam. "Ooh, did you gain more weight?" he complained but Sam cackled at him. "Let me guess, you got the runs again?" He looked at Xander. "I swear he used to do it to us on purpose. Usually on the night Dad had to go hunt." They walked out together, Dean climbing in to undo the straps while Xander held him, then took him to put into the seat. Hitching him in was easy enough then he sat down in his booster seat. Xander sat in his. The other Xander got into the one in the front seat. They switched off with that one. Tim checked them then got in to drive them to the furniture store. They did stop to get the pictures of the princess beds. The boys cheered at the bed pictures since it was nicely set up with throw pillows and stuff. The stuff they decided on was fairly simple but Colonial in design. Dean pointed at plain sheets and Tim got them plus one more fancy set to tease him with that night.
John looked up as Dean walked into his father's hospital room. "We fixed up your bedroom."
"That's nice of you guys." He took the pictures and his face got a picture taken. "It's a joke, right?"
"Yup." He grinned and handed over the other pictures. He took pictures of his face at the frilly girls' room too. John gave him a dirty look but smiled at what had to be the real picture. "It's all in so when you come in tomorrow it'll be fine."
"That's good. Who brought you?"
"Tim. He's changing Sammy's dirty butt again. He's got *that* look again."
John shuddered, but winced and held his side. "I hated that look."
"So do we." He hopped up to the foot of the bed, getting comfortable. Tim walked in with Sam. "Are you sure Alexx won't fuss over Xander?"
"She said she'd quit doing it, Dean." He handed over Sam, letting the happier baby beam at his father. "How long does that usually last?"
"Four days," John and Dean said together.
"Good to know. I'm feeding you cheese, Sam."
Sam cackled, waving at him. He beamed at his father. "Bah!"
"I take it you had a good day shopping?" Sam scowled at him. "Or not. Are we good?"
"We're fine," Tim assured him. "They said you can get out tonight if you want." He handed over the bag he was carrying. "Under the baby stuff." John grabbed his clothes and limped into the bathroom. Tim rang for the nurse, getting one with a set of paperwork. "We're taking him home." John came out dressed, dropping the gown on the bed. He signed the forms and she got a wheelchair for him. Dean took his brother back. Tim snorted and took him to carry. Dean scowled. "Not in public."
"Whatever." He climbed on the side of the wheelchair, getting a pat on the hair from the nurse. He grinned and she smiled back, wheeling his dad out while Tim and Sam followed.
Sam looked up at Tim, then shook his head. "Gah!"
"I know, but he likes to flirt," he said quietly, cracking the baby up. "He's like a miniature Eric."
Dean looked back. "She's prettier than anything Eric ever hit on." The nurse blushed but giggled. He grinned when his father gave him a dirty look. They dropped him off outside so the nurse could go back up to her floor. She was still blushing.
Tim handed him Sam. "Let me get the car." He handed off the bag too before walking off.
John looked at Dean. "How is it?"
"Good. The room's nice. The house is nice. The play stuff is nice. Tim's a good cook. Very good cook. They're still fussy but oh well. We can run. Alexx is fussing over both Xanders so they're probably hiding and she's ranting about the knife sharpening he does when he's upset." John gave him a look. He shrugged back. "We do what we can to wear it out."
"Fine." Tim pulled up with the car and he got up with a groan.
"Let me." He took Sam and put him into the car. John got the booster into the backseat for now. Dean hitched himself in, getting a nod from Tim for the good job. The bag went in front of John. "Can we save Xander?"
"Alexx still has him at home. She fed them ice cream and cookies so they're watching cartoons together. No knife sharpening that creeps her out." He drove them off, taking the shorter way home. "John, any pills we have to pick up?"
"Nah. I'll live with some advil."
"We have that at the house." He turned on the radio, making Sam happy. He squealed and waved his hands.
Dean moaned, shaking his head. "This isn't a concert, Sammy. You're such a geek." Sam spit at him. "Fine, you like being a geek." He rolled his eyes, looking up. "I don't know how you did it, Mom." John swatted him gently. "Sorry."
"No, it didn't come from your mother. She wasn't a great brain either. It's a skill that came out of some distant relative." Sam spit at him too. "I can smack you too, Samuel." Sam beamed at him and waved. "Even at this age, Samuel."
"Ease off," Tim ordered. "He's having fun. Yell at him some other time over something more important than him being smart." He gave him a look. "After all, us geeks rule the world, we just let the rich and important think they do."
John swallowed. "You are?"
"Former CSI. I did my master's in a year. Highest honors." He smirked and turned onto another road, beeping as he passed a hummer. "H is out hunting someone."
"I guess that job is a lot like hunting. Putting together clues to find what did what among a limited number of options, then hunting it down. The only difference is shooting it instead of arresting it."
"Tim doesn't like guns," Dean told him.
"Don't all cops have to use their guns?"
"I was a criminalist. Though yes, I died when mine jammed."
"Hmm. We can make sure it won't."
"Xander spends a lot of time cleaning the guns and swords." He pulled onto another road and found their gate open. "Hmm." He pulled in and parked, frowning at the car. "That is a social worker, boys." He got out and John got out. He released Dean to go find out what was going on. He got Sam out, carrying him inside. "Alexx, who's visiting?" he called.
"Stephni," she called from the back yard.
He walked out there, setting Sam down. He looked at her. "What was reported?"
"Following up on the other one." She smiled. "Cleveland can't seem to find the paperwork, CSI Speedle."
He nodded. "She's a halfie!" Xander 1 called.
She glared at him. "You, quit."
He smirked. "Hi, Xander Harris from Sunnydale. Roomie of Spike for a while."
She gaped then stared at Speed. "You're *him*?"
"Depends on which him."
"The three hunters in that plan?"
"They gave them to me because my dad used to hunt. Is there a problem?"
"Not anymore." She filled out something, handing it over. "You're clear with us, unless you go evil."
"H would kick my ass," he said dryly.
"Good point. Are we aware of..." She waved a hand at the Xanders. "The anger issue?"
"If you went from twenty-five and well respected to two-years-old you'd be pissed too. Especially if it was something that you used to hunt for trying to kill others. You'd have to leave what little family you had made, your life, all that."
She shuddered. "I can't even imagine. At least you're working on it." She gathered her stuff together. "I'll make sure we don't have to do any checkups."
"Ow, bitch!" Dean said, glaring at the baby that had just bit him.
"Try to fix that," she told him. She left, going back to the office to file the reports.
Tim looked at Dean. "You good or do you need a bandaid?"
"He needs a mouth soaping," Alexx said with a glare at him. He held up his bleeding finger. "Come on, I'll bandage it for you, sweetie." She walked him into the kitchen sink to do that. "Do not swear around my babies."
"Thank you." She got it cleaned off and band-aided then let him go with a popsicle. She came out to hug Tim. "I started that stuffing casserole you liked so much, sugar. Call me later?"
"Of course." He grinned. "Thanks, Alexx."
"You're welcome." She left, going to hug her own babies. It was good someone handled things that the cops couldn't when they took out other people's babies but she hated it for those kids. Maybe they could have a different future this time around.
John stretched out in his chair. "That is a nice play area."
"Thanks. Eric's father picked it out. I did the rest of the inside through him too."
"That's good work." He watched the two boys playing, frowning at the one on the tire swing. "He's not happy?"
"He's bored. Dean, want to make Sam swing?"
"Xander, come get Sammy to swing?" he called. "I don't want bitten again."
"Sure," he said, hopping off the tire swing. He came over to get Sam and toddled off with him, putting him inside the swing before climbing up on top of the swing and moving it. Sam hooted and hollered in joy.
"There's no stagnant water in there, right?" John called.
"No. Those cause mosquitos. They're bad and evil things."
"Thanks, kiddo." He looked at Tim. "He's a good kid?"
"He's very good and very helpful. Hell, I hardly ever change diapers thanks to those two. They don't want to let me." He heard a crack and looked up. "Xander, that tree's cracking!" He hopped off the swing, landing on the ground with a groan of pain, but got up and got Sam out of the tire. "Dean, get Sam." He walked out to pick Xander up and set him up onto something so he could check him over. "You okay?" he asked quietly.
"Of course I am."
Tim gave him a look then went back to checking him over. "Your wrist is sprained and so is your knee, Xander." He pulled away but Tim gently pulled it back so he could check it over. "Let's get you an ice pack."
"I can do it."
Tim sighed, looking at him. "It's my job, Xander."
"No, it's not. We all know that."
Tim scowled. "It is now. Until you're grown up again. It is my job to make sure you're healthy, happy, and well. Not just well fed. Xander, please go turn off the oven?" He went to do that for him, coming out with an ice pack. He stopped them both, handing the ice pack over. "It is my job. They made it my job. Even if it wasn't my job I'd still probably do it because I like you guys. Even without you being cute little kids. I like you for being Xander as well as being cute. But it's still my job to take care of you boys, all four of you. So let me." He put the ice pack where it should go, then put the wrist down on top of it. "Any ringing in your head or light flashes or spots in your vision?"
"Good." He stood up and picked the boy up then sat and put him in his lap. "There, that's better. We'll check the tree tomorrow and move the swing to somewhere more sturdy." Xander nodded. He waited then tried to move. Tim shifted him to somewhere more comfortable and checked the injuries again. "Hopefully that's just a sprain." He made him wiggle his fingers, watching him for wincing and hissing. "No pain?"
"Not that much."
"He's looking of more serious injuries, Xander. Anything broken or possibly beyond bruised?" John asked.
"No, I think he's right and it's just sprained."
"We'll check again in an hour. No more than twenty with the ice." Tim nodded, checking his watch then going back to the icing.
"You're way fussy. It's clear you learned it too well from Alexx."
Tim smirked. "Yes I did. Thank you. And if you ever complain about me treating injuries again I'm going to make you eat salads every day for a month." Xander and Dean both shuddered at that. He pulled the other Xander up into his lap too so he could check his other half over. "Think it's more than a sprain?"
"He said it's not."
Tim looked at him. "How many times did you lie about that?"
"A lot. It's not." He hugged his other half. "We'll quit fussing before we have to eat salads. Is it nearly dinner?"
Dean laughed. "Nearly."
John stood up with a groan. "Let's get you two cleaned up." He carried Sam, having to steal him from Dean. Dean glared and took him back. "I can do it, son. Really."
"So? I'm being a good big brother." He looked at Sam. "Need changed?"
"Yes, he needs a new buttflap," Xander 2 said.
Dean looked at him. "George of the Jungle, dude?"
"It's a funny movie!" he defended.
"I guess." He went to change Sam and clean them both up. They came out to find Tim and John dishing up dinner. He pouted at the vegetables. "I didn't try to escape having things checked over. Why do I have to eat broccoli?"
"Because I wanted broccoli and you still have to regrow, so that means you need veggies now and then," John told him.
"Yes, sir," he muttered.
Xander poked at the broccoli. "Why is it dotted with stuff? Is that mold?"
"It's parsley and it's pickled broccoli, guys," Tim said. John gave him an odd look. "My father does run a restaurant," he taunted with a smirk. "Beyond that, it's good. Eat." They all dug in before he got cranky.
Xander 1 raised a hand. "I don't like pickles unless it's on tofu dogs. Please?" he begged.
Tim took it from him and Xander 2's too. Dean offered his plate. John gave him a look so he tried it. "Not too bad," Dean decided. "Tastes different than pickles or pickled eggs."
"Ewww," Sam said. Then he beamed.
"Good job. Your first real word this time," Tim praised. He gave Sam an extra bit of pork chop. Sam waved it at Dean then ate it.
"Good job, Sammy," Dean agreed, eating another bite of broccoli. It wasn't too bad. "Any hot sauce?"
"Three different strengths and flavors in the fridge. Want regular, extra hot, rhubarb based, or tomato based?"
Dean blinked. "You are such a food geek."
"Thank you," he said with a grin.
"Regular or the tomato if it's not too hot?" Tim checked the bottle, letting Dean taste the tomato one. He added it to his broccoli and nodded, eating that. He held it out to Xander, who shook his head. "Don't like hot stuff?"
"Not often. My tastes have changed. I'm more into sweet stuff." He went back to his pork chops and got up to get himself some corn from the jar.
"Um, probably won't like that," Tim warned. Xander sniffed then put it back with a grimace. He got him something and handed it over, getting a smile after a test sniff. "I'll remember you don't like pickles and watch out for Alexx's potato or tuna salad. She adds it."
"Sure." He sat down to serve both them the tomatoes with stuff on them. Tim added sprinkle cheese, making both boys happy. Dean looked then took some too. After a taste he added some hot sauce and the sprinkle cheese, getting a nod. John tested it and it was good for him too. Sam let out a whistle. Tim got him a bowl of it and a spoon. Sam smiled, inhaling it.
"What is this?"
"That is a new hybrid tomato type that's been stewed in a champagne and balsamic vinegar sauce, plus some herbs and a bit of maple syrup to take some of the tartness. There's a local shop that makes it." John gave him another odd look. "I'm fluent in three different cooking languages and four spoken ones."
"Bigger brains than anyone but Willow and Sam," Xander 2 said. Tim smiled at that compliment. He looked outside. "Headlights at the gate." They watched but the headlights was someone turning around. They went back to eating. Sam was making a mess but he was happy and he could take another bath. Xander finished and put his dishes into the dish washer then looked at Sam. "Bath time?" Sam gave him a happy look and patted him on the head with a messy hand.
"You two take baths together?" John asked.
"I'm a very good swimmer. I was on my high school team," Xander 1 said. "Plus it helps to get each of us clean. Sam likes to splash us and Dean doesn't seem to mind." He looked at Dean, who shrugged.
"We used to," Dean reminded his father.
"You're his brother."
"Now we're all brothers," Dean shot back. "Quiet One there is good with Sammy. As long as he doesn't steal him from me all the time, I'm good with it." He stared at his father. "He's good with Sammy. He squeals and gets clean and plays, like normal kids do. It helps Xander get clean too because Sammy splashes him fit to drown him."
"Fine," John agreed.
Xander 1 glared at him. "It's not like I'm a pervert, John." John flinched at that. "If I was, I wouldn't be in charge of the regular life issues at the new Watchers Council that we had to rebuild after the old one got blown up by the First Evil's asshole Bringers." He stared at him. "Really, never had a thought that way. Sammy's a friend to us, the same as Dean is." He got up but Tim tried to stop him. "Let go," he said too calmly.
"We can talk and I'm sure he didn't mean that, Xander," Tim offered.
"I don't care. Let. Go." Tim let him go and he went to clean the guns in the armory.
Dean glared at his father. "Do not start," he warned. "Not on Xander." He got up and went to see if Xander was all right. They were both in there since 2 had snuck around them. He heard the punch and nearly looked out there but if Tim wanted to hit John that was fine with him at the moment. His father had stuck his foot in his mouth and needed it. "Maybe we should sic Alexx on him? Or Mama Delko?" he suggested. Xander stiffened. "I know you're not like that, Xander. If you were, I'd never let Sammy near you." He sat down in front of him. "He's sorry. Tim just hit him."
Xander looked at him. "Why are you trying?"
"Because what he did was wrong."
"You're his family."
Dean nodded. "Which is good and all but not all that matters. Especially not with this. He was wrong." He took the gun he was looking over to break down. "Get the gun oil? We can work on the bigger ones after this."
Xander stared at him, looking so confused. Both of them. "But he's your dad."
Dean nodded. "Yeah but he was wrong, Xander. I'm not going to stand for him when he's wrong. Dad saw a lot of bad things and his mind goes that way sometimes. It's where he raised us on the road while hunting."
Xander nodded. "I've seen plenty like that." He got the gun oil and they settled in to clean the guns together. Xander 2 didn't get the gun love his other half did so he worked on the knives. It was comforting to them.
Tim walked in. "Guys, finish up those pieces and it's bath time." He picked Xander up to look at him. "He's sorry. I know it's not like that. So does he. He has hoof in mouth disease and he wanted to apologize."
"Because you hit him?"
"No. Because I pulled him out back and let him have it; he was already feeling miserable before I hit him. Now he feels worse. Would you listen to it?"
"I have a choice?" he snorted.
"Yeah. You do." Xander gave him that same confused look. "Plenty of people have apologized and not been listened to."
"But that'll be a problem if we have to work together."
"True, but teams can work together and not get along. Mine does at the moment."
Xander nodded. "But it's not good."
"That's still your choice."
Xander nodded. "I'll listen." Tim nodded, giving him a hug. "Quit doing that!" he complained, pushing at him. "No hugging!" He wiggled down and straightened himself down. "C'mon, me." They walked out once he had the knife back in place.
Dean looked at Tim. "Can I get his parents?" he mouthed.
"They died in Sunnydale according to Willow."
"Leave my past out of this," Xander 2 said.
"Sure," Dean agreed. Mentally he was shaking his head. He wanted to beat someone badly for doing that to Xander. No kid should hate being hugged. He finished up the guns they had broken down, then put them back. He went to find the others in the tub but Sam yawning. "Is it my turn?"
"Nearly," Xander 2 said. He handed Sam to Tim then finished rinsing off his own soap. He climbed out to dry off and Dean came in to undo the water. "Xander's still got to take one."
"Sure," he agreed. "He out back?"
"Yup, finding out why the branch nearly broke."
"That's a good thing," Dean agreed. "You guys used to do construction." Tim smiled before taking Sam out to bed. Xander trailed out wearing the towel like a cloak. "See you soon." He let the water out and rinsed out the tub then started new water. His father and Xander 1 walked in. "Wanna share, Xan?"
"No, I'm good to go after you. My other half down?" Dean nodded. "Cool. Let me tuck him in. Take as long as you want." He went to check on his weaker half. He was in bed in boxers but staring outside. Xander smirked at him. "Sleep. You'll need sleep. Remember, the Delkos are coming over tomorrow. We'll need the energy to fix the swing."
"Yeah, we will." He yawned. "You be done soon?"
"Dean's starting his. I'll be in after that." 2 nodded, snuggling down, letting him tuck him in. Then he went to lurk near the bathroom. Tim came out of Sam's room, looking at him. "Delkos are coming tomorrow."
"Can we move the swing safely?"
"I think so. If we have to, we might need to build a frame for it. The branch is weak in one spot. I don't think we can fix it."
"Then we'll figure it out," Tim decided. "If not by when the kids get here, we'll take it down."
"Sure. I can do that."
Tim leaned down. "Not like I'll be doing a whole lot, Xander. I can do a lot of things. Really. I'm here to do more than cook."
"I know, but I feel so useless sometimes."
"You're not. You're a great help. Both of you are. Hell, I'd be lost about more of the stuff going on if it wasn't for you two, but I have to handle some stuff too. So let me do the big things that you need ladders for or we need tools for, at least until you're older again."
"Thank you." He smiled. "I'm going to keep the kids from sugar tomorrow."
"Mama Delko won't like that. She'll bring some."
"Mama can kiss my butt. I'm not dealing with the heathens on a sugar rush." Xander and Dean both cackled. Tim leaned in. "Not too much longer. The loud ones are coming and you'll have to run and hide, plus keep the armory locked."
"Shit, I forgot about that," Dean complained. "Alexx still on her kick?"
"She thinks one of you three is going to use it on someone someday when you snap. Mama too. Eric told her no but you know how she is by now."
"Stubborn," he agreed. "Okay, we'll figure it out. Remember the padlock this time."
"Sure. No teaching the kids how to break into a window either. The Delko twins are super smart once you show them once."
Dean snorted. "I remember." Tim left, going back to his room. Dean finished his hair then started on his back, frowning. "Crap, need the brush." Xander came in and climbed up on the side of the tub to get it down for him since Tim had put it on the showerhead. He nearly fell in but Dean steadied him. "Thanks, Xan."
"Welcome." He walked back out to give him privacy.
Dean finished his back and feet then hung it lower for Xander. He finished and got out, letting out the water with his toes. He dried off and wrapped himself into the towel. "All yours."
Xander came in and smirked. "Do I have a towel?"
"Um...." Dean looked. "No." He handed over his and hiked back to his room to change into clothes.
"Clothes, son?" John called.
"Out of towels."
"I'll start a load in the morning." He smiled when he heard the shower come on. "Don't forget to spray the bathroom, Xander."
"I'm not." He got into the shower and got clean fast, then got out and cleaned the shower with the spray so he could go to bed. Tomorrow was going to be hell.
Twenty minutes after the Delko Horde had left, John flopped down, giving Tim a look. "You're still standing?"
"I used to babysit with Eric." He smirked. "They were worse, some of them are in school."
"Worse?" he moaned.
"Worse." He finished dumping the trash and sat down, looking under the couch at the hiding boys. "You can come out."
"No, we can't," Xander 2 said. He pointed. "She's still here."
Tim looked toward the kitchen. "Marisol, you're scaring the boys," he called.
"How am I scaring the boys?" she demanded, coming out with bottles of water. She handed him one and one to John. "I am not scary, boys."
"Bullsnot," Dean called. "If you weren't, you'd get to hold Sammy. Before you ask it's not because you're sick either."
She gasped. "You told them?" she demanded of Tim.
"No, Xander told me." He sipped his water, then grimaced. "What did you do?" He put it aside and yawned. John didn't drink his. "Mari, I don't care who you made the deal with, you're not going to get near Sam." She backed off. "Really. Just...don't. I don't want to hurt you or Eric. I know it's a natural urge." He yawned again. "But we can't let that happen. Because if they do, then Xander and Dean will destroy everything else." She burst out crying, running from the house. "Call Eric or H?" he asked, laying down. "Let me nap it off. Order pizza with chicken for dinner."
"Sure," John agreed. Xander came out of hiding to do that. "They make chicken pizza?"
"Yeah, Papa John's does." He called Eric's phone. "It's Xander. Marisol handed Tim a bottle of water and he needed a sudden nap. He faced her down so she ran off crying. Tim's taking a nap and he said to bring over chicken pizza when you come for the bottle or whatever. John is. Thanks." He hung up. "He'll handle it." He looked under the couch. "Want help out, Sam?" Sam chuckled but shook his head. "Okay. Eric'll be here soon he said. He said Horatio might be too." Dean came out, helping Xander 2 then they pulled Sam out. Sam giggled, grinning at them. "That was a great hiding spot," he promised. "It was a good point out." He went to the kitchen. "Think anything else is safe?"
"Not until someone gets here," John ordered, yawning some. Dean gave him an odd look. "Exhausted from the other kids."
"Hmm," Xander said, nodding. "They do it to us too." He went to open the door, pointing. "It's on the table beside him. He told Marisol we knew about the deal she made and that she wasn't allowed near Sam because of it. She huffed off crying."
"That happens," Eric said. "Girls do that stuff." He came in to bag the bottle of water and John's. Then he went to check the kitchen. "Found it." Horatio walked in, pausing to take off his sunglasses. "Found the bottle, H." He handed the bagged bottle off. And the needle. "Don't know how she did it."
"We'll find out," he assured him. He looked at the boys. "The pizza is coming in twenty minutes. Are you four okay?"
"We hid," Dean said bluntly. "They were horrible."
Eric chuckled. "Yeah, they are. That's why I don't live at home." He went back to check things out in the kitchen. "What happened to the tire swing?"
"It cracked last night so we evacuated," Xander 2 called. "But we told them and they didn't listen so it fell with two on it."
"Yeah, that sounds like Maria's kids," Eric agreed. The boys nodded. "They hurt badly?"
"Loose tooth, bit of bleeding," Xander 1 said. "A sprained wrist and a bump on the head on the other one."
"Kid injuries," Eric decided. He let the pizza guy in, getting Tim's wallet to pay him. "Thanks, man."
"Welcome, Officer." He left counting the money.
Eric got the pizza onto the coffee table for the boys. Dean got them pieces and let Sam pick off his. John snagged a piece but grimaced after the first bite so Xander 2 snatched it and ate it on him. Eric shook his head, getting his own piece. "I'll talk with Mari in a bit. Once she's vented to Mama."
"Then your mother will be horrified," Dean pointed out.
"I told Mama. She didn't believe it." His phone rang so he answered it. "Yeah, Poppi." He listened then he snorted. "Poppi, she drugged Speed. Yeah, I'm coming. She's got something to answer for." He hung up and looked at Horatio, who nodded. "Thanks, H. See you tomorrow." He headed off, going to the house. He got out and walked past his sisters, then glared at the three people in the kitchen. "You were going to drug Speed and John? Did you even *think* about the fact that it could kill one of them, Mari? Or that it could react with something John might be taking for the pain he's in from broken ribs!" he shouted. She flinched back. "No, you're not allowed near the boys! I know you made the deal. I don't care personally but yay! They've got to protect Sam, even from you. It's clear you're open to doing stupid things."
"Eric," Mama said.
"No! She drugged Speed, Mama. It was going to leave those boys without an adult when she probably would've taken Sammy out of the house!" He moved closer to her. "I don't care about the others going to terrorize the boys. Because they do." Mama gasped. "Mama, the kids are holy terrors. Even you've said that. Xander grew up with drunks for parents and John did the best he could raising those boys always on the road. They have no idea what boisterous kids like those do. They were hiding under the couch when I got there to handle Speed being drugged. By her!"
Mama sighed. "The boys were hiding, the kids are a bit loud and energetic. But that does not mean...."
"Mama, he presses charges and she's going to be doing her treatments in jail. We have the bottle, we have the needle she used once she had crushed up her sleeping pills. H has them." Marisol wailed and sat down. "No, you're not allowed to go near Sam and you're not allowed to watch Sam on your own. At all. They have to protect those boys from the deal you made. I understand why you did it. I know why you did it. I'm not mad that you did it. But I can't let you harm those boys with it."
Poppi nodded. "That's fair."
Mama looked at him then nodded. "That is fair. Is she going to be charged?"
"It's up to Tim when he finally wakes up. H is there." She nodded at that. "He'll let us know." He looked at Mari. "I don't like being put into the middle. I didn't like it when you girls fought and I don't like it now. So stop it." He looked back at his other sisters. "You guys too."
"My kids are not that bad," Maria complained.
Eric pulled off his shirt and pointed at a mark on his side. "Your son tried to knife me last year playing cops and robbers since I was a cop and he was supposed to be a bad thug." She whimpered. "They're doing okay most of the time but all those boys are more used to more quiet things. Not like they made a lot of friends moving all the time and Xander's are in Cleveland. Xander wasn't the kid who went to sleepovers or birthday parties. Are they okay after they fell off the swing?"
"Yeah," she admitted. "Kid injuries."
Eric nodded. "Just try to keep them better when they're over?"
"I do try."
"Leash training?" he joked with a smirk.
She swatted him on the chest. "They're not dogs."
"You sure? One's out there sniffing the dog's crap in the yard."
She ran out to stop the child before he did something disgusting. Eric shook his head. "We'll handle it," his mother assured him.
"Thank you." He left, going back to Speed's house, putting his shirt on in the car. He found Speed moaning. "They want to know if Mari is going to be charged."
"Probably not," Horatio admitted. "Does she know?"
"Yeah. They all know. They were all waiting on me. Maria's going to try to train the younger ones to be nicer and more decent."
Horatio smiled. "I'm sure you were wild too, Eric."
"Not like that. Mama had a spoon for my butt."
Horatio laughed. "At least it worked sometimes." He got Speed some water, smiling at him. "Welcome back."
"Good." He sipped the water, looking at the pizza then around. "Boys?"
"Their rooms playing with books they probably shouldn't have," Horatio admitted. "With John."
Speed groaned, giving him a look. "Books they shouldn't have?"
"Willow sent some things. They're helping the Xanders put them up or sort them. Something like that."
"Good." He finished the water and got up then sat back down when he wobbled. "I'll go see soon."
Xander 2 leaned around the doorway. "It's nothing bad. Don't worry." He disappeared again.
"Good," he decided. He looked at them. "They have dinner?" Horatio nodded. "Wonderful. We need a second bathroom."
Eric laughed. "You could, yeah." He got the other end of the couch. "Maria said she'd try to leash train them."
"That'd be nice. Or if your mother loaned her the spoon she used on you."
Eric nodded. "My nephew was sniffing dog crap. She went to keep him from eating it."
"Your nephew is insane," Horatio told him.
"It's possible. Her husband's not too sane."
John walked in shaking his head. "Xander got a lot of comic books. Some new clothes and a pair of sneakers. A few magic books but I'm not sure why, and a few more serious books from someone who clearly has no clue why they gave the boy _Moby Dick_ and Shakespeare."
"Sometimes friends have odd tastes in the gifts they give you," Speed said dryly. He tried to get up and managed it this time, going in search of the pizza.
"You know, I can cook," John pointed out.
Tim looked at him. "You can?"
"Nothing too perfect but I can make simple stuff."
"Good, you get dinner tomorrow and breakfast since I've got to go talk to someone about something." That got a nod and a slight smile. "By the way, Sam won't eat toast."
"He probably needs jelly."
"We tried jelly and marmalade."
"He used to like jelly."
Dean leaned out of the bedroom. "I asked him when I discovered he hated it suddenly. He said something about Jess, the bed being a mess, and memories he didn't want to think back to so apparently it was a bad sex game." John blushed. "Had to be."
Sam swatted at him then smirked, shaking his head. "Eww."
Dean looked at him. "Is that because she was boring?" Sam beat him with the pillow again. "Hey! Mean shit!" Sam hit him again! "Fine, when you can talk you can clear up that misunderstanding." Sam hit him again then leaned forward to bite him. "Damn it, Sammy!"
Xander 2 came over. "I know jelly isn't a sex toy. You're a good boy and good boys don't go beyond handcuffs, even if they do date girls like Anya." Sam gave him an odd look. "What? She was a former vengeance demon and had been one for eleven hundred years. She had a long dry spell." Sam cooed, petting him. "Thanks, Sam. Did she try to tease you with it and it got sticky? Or a food fight?" Sam nodded at that. "Had to clean it up, huh?" He nodded again. "Poor guy." He gave him a cuddle. "Want to read comics with me?" Sam beamed and they settled in on his bed to read the comics they had been sent.
Dean shook his head. "That's too strange even for Sam," he decided. "Not even Sammy or I can date a former vengeance demon."
Willow appeared, glaring down at him, hands on her hips. "She was nice, if a bit blunt and loud about her desires and what she wanted from Xander, but she was nice to him. They nearly got married."
Xander 1 nodded. "True. He thought Sam was against jelly because of sex but he's clearly a good boy so he probably never went past light handcuff play." She gaped, giving him a horrified look. He looked at her. "I do have all my former memories." She squeaked and disappeared. "Thanks for the presents, Willow!" he called after her. "I needed the comics."
She reappeared to give him a hug. "You're welcome. You need fun things since you're little again and Jesse isn't around to help you get into trouble." She smiled at him. "You behave. We have a slight apocalypse coming next week so I'll make sure you know we're all fine."
He stopped her from moving. "We do have someone who can plan?" She shrugged. He pointed at John. "He hunted for over twenty years and he's former military. Run the plans past him, Willow. He can't encourage us to hunt but he can help you guys."
She beamed at John. "Do you think you can?"
"I know I can. What sort of help do you guys need?"
"Oh, we have one of the K'rost'as clans coming to Cleveland next week. Nothing too huge, only twenty or so."
"One of them alone has been known to take out a hunter," he said calmly. "Usually in very messy ways."
"Well, yeah, but we have thirty slayers who can jump in."
He groaned. "Okay, can you take me with you?" She beamed and brought him back to Cleveland to look over the battle plans. He saw then he looked at the girls watching him. "This won't work. They can surround you and then you're all trapped away from backup, extra weapons, or even a tactical retreat so you can regroup."
Buffy shrugged. "It's about the only way in that park. Who are you?"
"John Winchester, Sam and Dean's father. The same beings decided they needed a way to calm down the anger the boys were feeling and to keep the women down in Miami from fussing at the boys."
"They are adorable," Dawn said. She put down pictures. "That's the place they want to pick them off at. This is the area we know they'll be in for their clan gathering, picnic, and marriage between the cousins. We were told attacking there would bring other clans since they had to have holy relics for the wedding part."
John looked then nodded. "Are there other areas in the same park?"
"Yes," Dawn agreed, finding the file on her laptop. "We have all the parks in the area filmed for terrain." He looked then pointed at one area. "That's nearly on the other side of the park. This one's closer but I don't think it'll work. It gives them too much cover."
"Unless you lure them there and you're in that same covered area," he said. "I know they can be taken down with iron."
"Slayers don't use guns," Buffy said.
"Some of us do," Faith corrected. "B doesn't but that means she can be the bait or use iron tipped crossbow bolts." She pointed at one area. "That's a worry because it leads down to a hill some of us have fallen down before. It bottoms out into a parking lot about a thousand feet down."
John nodded, pointing at the first area. "Physical map?" She pulled it up. "There," he said, pointing at a new area. She found the pictures for him and he nodded. "Any bad drop-offs?"
"No," Faith said. "Not a lot of cover."
"There's a lot. It depends on how well you can conceal yourself," John countered.
She smirked. "We're slayers. We're all loud and bouncy."
"That can be helped for an hour." He looked at her. "Right?"
"Probably. Some of the younger ones, maybe." She moved closer. "You hunted how long?"
"Twenty-five years when I gave myself to a demon to save my son," he said quietly.
Buffy punched him on the arm. "Dean's cute."
"Very. But he's not looking for anything serious until he's older." He shrugged. "Anyway. If you can talk him into it, Buffy." She smirked, shaking her head. "This one is how close?"
Dawn pointed at an area. "That's their picnic area."
"Okay. Then we can bait and draw." The girls all nodded, gathering around to find out how well this one would plan. He finally looked up. "Xander's job?" They all nodded, pouting at him. "He's planning how to escape from fussing women. It's saving his sanity." They all laughed and decided they could like this one. Even if he was a bit...tall and scruffy and maybe a bit snarly. They had heard he was snarly.
Xander woke up sweating and panting, looking around. He got up and went to find the phone, calling the Council's building. "It's a trap. There's going to be more than you think, Merry. It is Xander!" he said hotly. "Just listen! Bitch, am I not gifted with prophetic visions of nastiness? Then fucking well get someone else," he snarled. "Now!" She put down the phone and ran off. Someone else came to the phone. "It's a trap. They're going to have more clans there and they came to Cleveland to whittle down the slayers. I know I yelled at her but I have a low tolerance for stupidity after seeing her shived on a holy spear, Giles. Yes, them."
He rubbed his forehead. "Damned if I know. That is what I saw but still, damned if I know. Yeah, they've got more than one clan coming. Whoever told us was led to believe that. I heard them saying they had lied on purpose and the wedding was a good reason for a hunt, it'd add to the celebration and mean great things for the new couple; who were going to be starting a new clan." He listened. "Yeah, so expect more. A shitload more. At least three clans, Giles. Yes, tell John. Let him figure it out. Tell Faith if you guys need the higher stuff to call." He hung up and went to find the advil then head back to bed with his evil twin. Because 2 was the eviler of the two of them even if he was nicer, sweeter, and more gentle.
"Vision?" he asked quietly.
"Vision," he agreed. "The clan's more than one clan and Merry argued with me so I snapped."
"We can apologize."
"If they don't fix it, she'll be shived on one of those holy spears."
"Call her back."
Xander 1 got up with a groan, going to do that. "Tell Merry I'm sorry," he said into the phone. "I snapped because of the headache and her being stubborn. Thanks." He hung up and went back to bed, covering up his head and all this time.
Dean leaned in a minute later. "He good?" 2 nodded. "You sure? Sammy had those. I know they come with a migraine."
"He's fine. He had some advil and he smells like milk. He doesn't have them often."
"'Kay, let us know if we can help."
"Of course." Dean went back to bed and 2 curled around his other half. He could take better care of himself than anyone could. Even if Sam did have visions. Only he got to take care of his twin. His twin started to moan so he calmed him down again, letting him go back to sleep before it got worse. "No more nightmares," he whispered. "I've got you and nothing's going to get close enough to hurt you." Xander burrowed into the area between his neck and the pillow, getting comfortable. Dean came in so he glared. "I have him."
Dean put down the glass and looked at him. "Water works better than milk because even milk won't cure the upset stomach or the heaves he'll get again later on," he said quietly. He leaned closer. "Like with Sammy, I'm not trying to take your place, Xander." He patted him on the head. "Have him drink the water and take some vitamins tomorrow or have some protein. It helps Sammy a lot." He left, going back to cuddling Sam. "I guess they feel as possessive over each other as I do over you," he whispered. Sam burped and patted him on the cheek before drifting back into full sleep again.
2 watched over his brother for the rest of the night. Anytime Xander would wake up he'd give him water and then he'd go back to sleep. It did seem to help so he'd apologize to Dean in the morning.
Speed came out of his bedroom, looking at the two boys in the kitchen. "Xander sleeping in?"
"He had some problems last night."
Speed blinked at him. "What sort of problems?"
"A vision," 2 said. "Dean, I can't get him up."
"Let him sleep."
Dean grinned. "I figure it's the same thing I have over Sammy only he's you and you both hate being fussed over." That got a nod. "Is it a migraine leave me alone?"
"No. I don't know what this is. Maybe it's because we're separated." Dean nodded, coming in to check on him.
Speed followed, testing his forehead. "He's got a fever."
"That's not that unusual," Dean admitted. Speed gave him an odd look. "The demon gave them to Sammy." He checked his eyes, getting swatted at. "Crawl in with him, Xan." He did that and Xander got better. "Okay, what we're going to do..."
"Is call Alexx because this is medical issues," Speed said.
Dean stopped him. "Has she ever dealt with someone having a vision?" Speed shrugged. "Then she can't really help." He checked him again, then nodded. "He'll be fine. Right now it's like an extreme migraine." 1 nodded slowly. "2, stay with him. You being here is helping him since half his coping skills are in you now."
"I used to have them and just pause, take a tylenol, and move on."
"Well, now that's apparently in you but he got the visions."
"Why can't they rejoin us!" he demanded.
"No clue," Speed admitted. "Has he had some tylenol?" Both Xanders nodded. "Water?" 1 heaved so they got him standing and let him run to the bathroom. "There is medicine for migraines."
"It's a fifty-fifty thing," Xander said. "Cordelia didn't get four of them to work but one worked for a few months. Before hers killed her."
"Ours isn't like that," Xander 1 called. "Mine's more like Sam's. A gift from the bastard demon Caleb." He came wobbling, wandering back in and crawled back into bed. "I didn't have them before he popped my eye and told me I saw too much so I needed to see differently." He covered his head again. "No offense, Tim, but your aftershave is very strong and I'm nauseous. Let me have my migraine in peace?"
"Let me call Alexx to see if any of the medicines will work." Xander 2 wrote down a name, handing it over. "I'll check to see if it's safe for kids." He went to make that call.
Dean refilled the water glass with ice and put it back with the bottle of tylenol. "Want me to make some soup?" The blankets shook violently no. "Okay." He went back out to the kitchen, finding Sam watching the doorway. "The one who popped his eye gave him or started off visions." Sam shuddered. "He's got a migraine."
Sam pouted. "Bahbah?"
"Yeah, it's pretty bad. One side got the vision and the other got the coping mechanisms." He sat at the table, staring at his brother. "Maybe you can cuddle him later to make him feel better but his stomach's upset and his head's killing him." Sam nodded. He knew that feeling very well. "Hold on." He went to the car, getting into Sam's bag, coming back with the two medicines. "These are what Sammy uses on his."
Speed looked at them. "Neither one of those are going to be for kids. One's a sedative. The other is one Alexx mentioned. We'll see what she comes up with." He called up there. "Giles, good. Is Xander on anything for his vision headaches?"
"He said tylenol."
"Why is he on less stuff when Sam's on major meds?"
Dean shrugged. "Maybe his are less painful usually or Xander's just like that."
Tim listened. "Giles said he's just like that. Do we know what Cordelia used to take? Yeah, in bed with a migraine from it. Thanks." He hung up. "He'll call someone." He looked at Dean. "Looks like we're pretty well house-bound today."
"We didn't have anything planned."
"Not a problem." He went back to feed Sammy breakfast but Tim came in and made peanut butter english muffins for them, getting a smile. "Normal food."
Tim looked at him. "Whole grain english muffins with all natural peanut butter?"
"Okay, higher end real food. Dad could make hamburger helper and that class of food, Tim. You make us feel like we're in a restaurant."
Tim smiled. "Thank you." Dean smirked back. "Now and then I do things the normal people way, guys. Really. If you guys want something, let me know."
"Can we have lasagna?" Dean asked. "It should be soft enough for his touchy stomach and Sammy loves your sauce."
Tim nodded. "I have the stuff for that. With meat or vegetarian?"
Sam hooted at the second option. Dean looked at him. "That's just freakishly wrong, Sammy." He looked at Tim. "With meat?"
Tim smiled. "Sure, I can do that." Dean grinned. "Sam, I'll make you some vegetarian special." Sam gave him an awed look. "It's not like it's a problem." He kissed him on the head. "Or I'll combine them." Sam beamed at that idea. "Okay, I'll combine them."
"Normal hamburger meat, right? Not ostrich, chicken, or tofu?" 2 asked.
Dean gave him a horrified look. "That's just *wrong*! Tofu was the devil's concoction."
"I'm from southern Cali, Dean. I've had tofu plenty of times. It's less evil than being Spike's roomie. Tim, can we have some lemonade for later?"
"Sure, Xander." He moved to get the mix down and make some for him. The boy smiled and went back to fussing over his other half. He put the pitcher into the fridge, then came back to making some scrambled eggs. Dean inhaled them, Sam smooshed it into his mouth, and it was good for them to go outside. Dean went to find a new branch for the tire swing. Speed made his own food and cleaned up his mess. "Guys, we're going to be outside. Come get us if you need us." He went to put a sign on the door too so no one would knock and wake the boys up. Then he went to eat out back with Sam picking some off his plate. He finally let him have the plate. "Need more food?" He nodded. "Let me know, Sam." He grinned and stole another bite. Then he hummed and pointed. He looked. "Dean, that'll be too high for you guys for a few more years."
"The next one up from the broken one is too thin."
"We can build a frame."
"It's not the same."
Willow appeared, sitting beside Sam, then picking him up to cuddle. "Your daddy is a poop but he made the girls quit pouting and do PT for a change." She gave him a squeeze. "He's being a big grump. We'll send him back after the problem tonight."
"That's fine," Dean called. "It'll keep us from dealing with the scowl of doom for not doing PT." He hopped out of the tree. "Let me check the other one." He walked up to the other tree, looking up then taking a running leap to catch the lowest branch. He climbed up. He found a good, sturdy branch. He jumped a few times. "This'll do." He looked. "We'll have to trim a few branches to get it out of the way." He moved around the tree, finding one slightly higher but with only one branch in the way, but it was against the fence. He climbed back down and walked over. "There's one good on this side but we'll have to cut two good ones and one thinner one." He flopped down to look at Sam then at Willow. "My brother." She pouted. "Now, woman."
"That's Willow," Speed reminded him.
"Yeah but strange women have this bad habit of cuddling Sammy. Then they don't want to give him back."
Tim leaned closer to Dean's ear. "Diapers cure that," he whispered, cracking him up but getting a nod.
Willow looked down. "Do you have bad butts?" she teased. He beamed and nodded, pointing. "Aww." She got up and went to change him, grimacing some but that was fine. "Not as bad as my nephew used to." She finished cleaning and diapering him then handed him back to Dean. "I'll give your father back later."
"Sure, if you want. Less time for him to scowl about us doing PT too."
"You're too young."
Dean shook his head. "No. Not really."
"Once a Marine, always a Marine," Speed agreed. "We see a lot of that among Marine families."
She sighed. "Way too young."
"Things come for hunters, Willow. He can't do anything if he's off working or hunting and the kids get attacked by someone," 2 said from the doorway. "The same as we should have trained in case something came into one of the houses for us or our families. Of course they trained. Dean had to protect himself and Sam."
"I never thought about that."
"That's the same reason Giles removed me from training for being so hard on the girls. We're a target. Especially you guys. This clan proves that."
She nodded. "I know." She handed Sam back. "Are you okay?"
"The other me has a migraine from the vision."
"Poo." He smirked. "Fine. It'll go down tonight." She patted him on the head. "Thanks, Xander." She looked at Speed. "Need anything?"
"Right now we're pretty decent. Dean's not used to having great food, just normal guy food."
She smiled at Dean. "At least he can cook. Xander's parents couldn't cook and didn't try. He lived on takeout and my mother's food." She gave her Xander a hug. "Be safe."
"They're allergic to iron," he said slowly and clearly.
"Faith and some of them are using guns. The rest are using the iron tipped crossbows."
"Half the girls, including Buffy, have sucky aim with them."
"I'll tell John." She disappeared. "John, Xander said the girls using the crossbows need practice. He said some have sucky aim."
"We can fix that," he agreed, leading the girls out to do that. He had talked to Dawn about the girls' training and who was doing it. He knew why the girls had him removed for being 'too hard on them' but he considered that a good thing. Someone had to protect the girls and they'd get it done somehow. Even if he had to help too.
Speed checked the lasagna then went to check on Xander 1. Alexx was looking him over. "His migraine better?"
"Mostly gone," she said, ruffling his hair. The boy grumbled. "As you can tell."
Speed sat on the foot of the bed. "Next time you have one, let me know too?" Xander shook his head. "That way we can start the drugs and stuff sooner. No one should have to suffer through those." He patted him on the foot. "What are we doing about migraine medicine?"
"I looked at the one that got sent to me and it's not approved for children. On the list, only one was and it's not recommended for children but they do have a child's dose."
"I can nap it off," Xander said quietly. "I used to be able to take a tylenol and then go on. 2 has that skill but I'm getting the visions."
"Does having him next to you help?"
Xander 1 nodded. "It is. He can help me protect myself and gets me whatever I need."
Alexx frowned. "You don't need the guarding, baby. You're safe here."
Xander snorted. "You'd think I was safe surrounded by slayers too, but nope." She stared, mouth slightly open. "Just because we're together doesn't make us safer."
"Things come for hunters," Dean agreed from the doorway, lounging against it, arms crossed. "It's a universal truth and law we all live with. That's why we're always on our guard. Even on vacation. Even when cursed. Plenty of things could see this as a perfect time to get any of us because we're too weak to physically fight or to fire most weapons. My shotgun's recoil would be too heavy for this present body."
She swallowed. "But you guys have Tim and John when he comes back."
"And that's wonderful," Tim agreed, "but if I'm off paying attention to Sam or one of the others, they can still get in here. All it takes is an air leak in some cases and less than that if they can teleport in. Like Willow did earlier." She slumped. "Yes, it's paranoid, but it's a truth all hunters and their families live with. I did when I was at home. Disappearing and distancing myself helped some but there were still a few demons who tried to get me because getting a hunter's son or daughter can still get them to give you themselves."
"Like rich kids do," she said.
He nodded. "Yes. Basically. That's why they have to be a bit paranoid. Though all four are learning that they can trust me. I will protect them."
"Yeah but you're busy and we're used to doing it on our own," Xander 2 said from behind Dean. "It was Willow that got me through the chicken pox and all that stuff."
"That's because your parents were dirtbags," Speed said firmly.
"Well, yeah," 1 agreed. "But it was what I was given."
"But he's not like that," Alexx said.
Xander shrugged. Both of them. "That's good and we let him do a lot more than I ever expected my original ones to do," Xander 2 told her. "I'd never expect mine to cook or do laundry. Much less make us lemonade because we feel miserable or get us tylenol."
She groaned. "Are they alive?"
"Nope," 1 said. He held his head. Dean tossed over the tylenol bottle. "Thanks, Dean."
"Welcome. He said dinner's nearly ready. Think you can eat? Sometimes Sammy can't."
"I'll be good I think. I might take a longer bath tonight." He sat up to take two of the children's tylenol and handed them to Tim. Then he got out of bed. "Thanks, Alexx. If we can find one, please let us know?"
"I can do that," she said, stopping him to give him a hug. "You're not as alone as you were before," she said quietly. "Remember that?"
"Of course I do." He smiled and got free, going to the bathroom to use it before dinner. He came out and found Sammy in his chair. "Hey, Sam." He settled in next to him. "I guess you get bad ones too." Sammy petted his head. "Thank you, Sam. I needed that." He rested his head against the baby's shoulder. Sam cooed, petting his head. "We need to hear from up there."
"We'll hear later," Dean said, coming out to look at him. "Head still feel pitiful?" Xander nodded. Sam smiled at him, still petting him. "Sammy, want some syrup or something?" Sam growled at him, then huffed and went back to helping Xander feel better. He better than anyone knew about the headache he had. "Fine. He's going to soak tonight. Want him to give you your bath or me?"
Sam beamed and giggled.
"That means he just wet himself," 2 said.
"I know," Dean groaned. "He used to do the same thing to us the last time." He got him out of his seat and took him to change. "Eww! What did you eat this time, Sammy? It's *orange*!"
"He had some carrots for lunch," Speed said, sitting down next to Xander, letting him cuddle in. He pulled him closer to give him the hint he could. Xander looked up at him. "You can. I'm good at it."
"Xander, we're going to be playing parent and child for nearly two decades," he said dryly.
"Good point." He let himself cuddle into Tim's shoulder, making Tim happier. "You give a good cuddle. Better than Willow did."
Tim gave him a squeeze. "We're having lasagna and garlic potato wedges. If you think you can't handle it, I'll make you some toast with orange marmalade."
Xander looked at him. "I'm not that hungry but I'll try."
"Okay." He reached back to turn off the oven. "There, that'll be done soon." Dean checked the oven. "Leave it open to cool off." Dean did that. "Thanks, Dean."
"Welcome, Tim." He came over to put Sam back. "There, sit and behave." Sam stared at Xander and smiled. "I know, they're cute." He took a picture with the camera Eric had left on the kitchen counter the last time he was over. Both Xander's frowned. "We need new pictures of us being cute so we can look back during our zit period of puberty."
"No comment," Xander 2 said.
"Oh, tell me you had one!" Dean complained.
"Every now and then to the day we got little," 1 quipped.
"Amen," Tim muttered. "That's probably bad diet though." All the kids stared at him. "Yes, now and then I ate junk food too, guys. Especially when I was working quad shifts on an important case. There's been plenty of days I had to eat out of the machines at the office because I spent all night in the lab."
"That's one job I don't think I could do," Dean decided.
Tim nodded. "It's hard." He looked outside. "Sounds like H is in. That's clearly a hummer." He looked down at the sleeping boy. He nodded so Xander 2 went to let him in. "Hey, H. Bad day?"
"I heard one was a bit sick."
"Vision," Dean agreed. He looked at Xander, then at Tim, who nodded at the oven. Horatio smiled and nodded, dishing the boys out some dinner. Sam got some from both dishes when Tim pointed with his free hand. Sam squealed in joy. Horatio sat down to eat with them. Dean tasted his and looked at it. "The sauce tastes different."
"Oh." He went back to eating. He swore this lasagna was strange. "What's the green stuff?"
Tim grinned. "Basil," he lied.
Dean's fork paused. "Did you dose us with vegetables?"
Tim smirked and nodded. "Spinach. Zucchini puree in the sauce. It's good for you. Sam's got a few more like carrots." Sam ate one with a hum of pleasure.
Dean shuddered. "Eww."
"You didn't taste them before then," Horatio pointed out.
"That was sneaky," Dean complained.
"He's known for it, Dean. He got Eric to eat vegetables and like it the same way. That and with his fried bits and pieces recipes."
Tim nodded. "Well, yeah. He needed it. All his hos were wearing him down. Again." Horatio coughed, shaking his head before taking another bite.
Xander 1 gasped, sitting up and looking around. "Hey," Tim said quietly. "Another one?"
"No. Bad thoughts about Dawn."
"She was cute," Dean offered.
"Not that sort," Xander said dryly, giving him a dirty look. He looked at the plates of food, then got his own. Tim got up to get him some of the potatoes, letting him sit down to eat. "This is good veggie lasagna, Tim."
"How did you know?" Dean demanded.
"Because Tara was vegan." Dean shuddered. "It wasn't so bad. She let me eat all the meat I wanted as long as I didn't do it in front of her or near her."
Tim nodded. "I know people like that."
Horatio nodded. "Two have been in the lab recently."
"Get rid of the cranky, furry one yet?" Tim asked him.
"They're making me keep her."
Tim's fork paused then he smirked. "Is that a request for help, H?"
Horatio gave him a look. "I can't let you."
"I can't. They want her to stay."
"Hey, if she quits, she quits."
"She's not allowed to at the moment. It'll look like retaliation."
Speed snorted. "Yeah, right." He ate another bite. "Hey, boys, let's plan on a field trip to see what Calleigh does in her lab tomorrow?" Horatio smiled. "They should see the machines."
"They should. We're having a group trip in on Wednesday from a local kindergarten."
"Can we join?"
"I don't see how that'd be a problem. It'd give Xander some extra time to get over his headache." He nodded at the sleepy boy.
Dean finished and wiped his mouth then got up and walked over to Xander, making him jerk away. "Let's get you into a soaking tub, Xander. It'll help rest the rest of it." He walked him that way, running him one like he would've done for Sam. He let him strip down and do any final adjustments while he went back to get seconds by scraping Xander's plate clean. He looked at 2. "Can you use Tim's tub for baths? I know it's small and shallow." He nodded. "Good. That'll help those muscle cramps he's probably getting."
"Welcome." He looked at Tim. "Who's going to take Sammy in tonight?"
"You two can argue about it." They smirked and looked at Sam, who pointed at Dean. "Sure, your big brother can." Sam beamed and ate another bite. "Finish up so we can do the bath stuff." They inhaled the rest of the food and went to Tim's bathroom for their evening baths. Dean snuck in to get the baby shampoo and soap but Xander was busy snoring in the tub. Tim peeked in then went to help with baths. He and Horatio settled in the living room once the boys were in their rooms for the night. "What's going on beyond her?"
"The team's ripping itself apart," he admitted quietly.
"That's because you're treating Wolfe like he's a kid that got foisted on you against your will when your own are already starving." Horatio slumped. "You did so good helping Eric and me, H. He's lost. Making him find the bitch made him a bigger outcast than he would've been before."
"H, you're still calling him by his last name and it's not a nickname," he said more gently. Horatio gave him an odd look. "How long did it take you to call me Speed?"
"Four days," he said quietly.
"Do you even know what his first name is?"
"Then why don't you use it?"
Horatio considered that. "I don't know."
"Maybe you should. And then kick Eric and Calleigh in the ass for the same sin."
Horatio nodded. "I can start working on that."
"I'll start helping the kid too." Horatio gave him an odd look. "I had Megan there to hold my hand for my first year. Eric had both of us. Who did Ryan's?"
"We were too deep in our grief and that mole issue created more problems," he agreed.
"Then it's time to be a big, bad boss and fix it."
"Do you want to come back when they're older?"
Speed shook his head. "They'll need me. Beyond that, I'm not sure I could handle another dispo incident. I had nightmares for months."
"Then why didn't you clean your gun?" he asked quietly.
"I did, just not often enough." He stared back. "There was other shit going on, H. I... I couldn't. It was part mental and the demon was making it so I couldn't as often when I remembered. I was meant to be more scientist and less cop. That was pretty clear when Dispo Day happened. I couldn't handle being a straight lab tech because I wanted in the field but I was never meant to be a cop."
Horatio nodded. "I can see when that happened." He stood up, looking outside. "How long has he been here?"
"At least an hour. I'm letting him stare in awe." He smirked. "Let me walk you out? Guys, I'll be right back." He walked Horatio out to his hummer, looking at the man who had been watching the house. "What's wrong, Rick? You look sick. I can call Alexx if you want."
"You..." He cleared his throat. "Why aren't you dead?"
"Long story," Speed assured him. "Let's just say someone had to bring me back to watch over some very special children."
"Then it was like what happened to Ray?" he asked Horatio.
"No. I wish but no." He looked at Speed. "I still have nightmares about you dying on me."
"If I could have, H."
"I know." He patted him on the arm. "Wednesday at ten." Speed nodded at that, grinning slightly. "Rick, why are you here tonight?"
"Someone reported all the lab's been coming here for the last few months. They said this is where you were going to go over whatever conspiracy you're cooking up."
"No, tonight Alexx came to check one of the boys who has a migraine. H came for dinner. I made lasagna so I could sneak vegetables on the boys. You know, I was at the lab one morning. Valera knew."
"After the mole, all gossiping stopped," Horatio told him.
"Hmm. Guess Wednesday may break that." Horatio smiled. "Go nap, H. You look tired again." He nodded, getting into the hummer so he could head home. He looked at Rick. "That was such a weak-ass lie, Rick."
Stetler coughed. "I heard there's a reason why there's been two reanimated corpses here."
Speed smiled. "Some higher demons decided they wanted one who could become a great evil one even though he's the son of a hunter and not inclined or wanting to go over. Their plan to get him to break was to take out his big brother by making him four again. They made Sam down to a baby so they could get more demons around him and have better access to him. They decided to get another hunter as well by deaging him and splitting him in two like he had been years ago."
"Harris?" he demanded.
"Xander, yeah. He's twins again. They're adorable. One has visions. That's why Alexx was here."
"Crap," he muttered.
"Then someone made a wish to the Vengeance demon over Lost Childhoods to give them a guardian who could help them, protect them, and take care of them, but they couldn't give them one who'd encourage hunting. I'm the son of a hunter." Rick slumped a bit. "So they're my boys. They'll be in on that tour Wednesday."
"Okay. And the other one?"
"You take a boy like Xander or Dean and deage them from their mid-twenties to toddler age to take them out of the equation, Rick. What do you get?"
"Very angry young boys," he admitted.
"With the same skills they had before. All their memories. All their weapons, that they take care of. All that rage." Rick shuddered suddenly. "So they brought back Sam and Dean's father John to help with the anger issue."
Rick winced. "Winchester?" Speed nodded. "So you're...."
"The new daddy. I can't encourage or promote hunting. I'm here to be a daddy and protect them. If I die again, H gets the boys and John can shack up with him."
"Okay," he said, shifting closer. "And we're doing what here?"
"This is our house."
"The lottery," he sneered.
Tim smirked. "One of the boys wished so I wouldn't have to work and leave them more exposed."
"Hell." Speed shrugged. "Are you having fun?"
"I'm doing a lot of cooking and refining my subtle fussing and smartass skills. I had to sneak vegetables on Dean earlier."
"Fine. Whatever." He looked him over. "Who else knows?"
"Most of the lab. I appeared in Eric's parent's backyard. Calleigh likes the boys but she tries to fuss. All the Delkos fuss. Valera knows, she saw when I came in that day to have Xander and Alexx talk. Ryan knows."
"Uh-huh. We don't see this as a problem?"
"Dean told his people. As far as I knew, I was the only hunter down here except for a few retirees."
"My cousin hunts."
"My dad did before he retired and opened the restaurant."
Rick sighed but nodded. "Are they safe?"
"We've been warding the house. The only demon that's gotten near them was someone who took a deal to be a bit more healthy again. They know we know so they know they're not going to get near Sam." He felt a body and looked down. "Can't sleep, Dean?"
"Had to go let out some of the water on Xander. He was snoring at the waterline and it was cold on him." He looked at the other guy. "Who's he?"
"This is Rick Stetler, Internal Affairs. He hates Horatio and the lab, but his cousin hunts."
Dean nodded with a grunt. "Nice to meet you. Don't try Dad. He'll beat your ass then have a beer." He looked at Tim. "He's rerunning some warm water."
"He can stay in as long as he wants to," Tim said with a grin. "As long as it helps him feel better."
"That's cool. Are we bringing the stroller we never use on that tour thing?"
"I can wear a pack." Dean nodded. "You guys can't carry Sam while we're there."
"Sure." He looked at Rick again. "So, are you the guy who Eric said had his nose up his jockeys?" Rick gaped at him. "Dude, I was twenty-eight four months ago." Tim patted him on the head. "Hey!"
Tim smiled. "We can do haircuts that day too. Want to save some of Sam's or yours?"
"I'm good with mine, we can save some of Sam's. He's sentimental like that." He looked at Rick again, then back at Tim. "Xander has nearly no hair."
"They can wait and watch or read. Or we'll let Mama Delko watch them for a few hours."
"Sure." He looked at Rick again. "So, why the visit?"
"I was asked to look into the situation with the two resurrected ones."
"We were assured it wasn't going to create a new First Evil situation."
"That's good to know. Can I tell him?" he asked Speed.
Dean shrugged. "We have. That way no one tries shit."
"Then I'll tell him. Have you told your parents?"
"Yeah. Dad's horrified but he's staying up there. We don't get along that well. Anything else?"
"No. Thank you for not having me eaten by the guard you have."
Dean looked where he pointed. "Aw, shit."
Speed looked then shrugged. "It can't come in, Dean." He stopped him. "You know the rules."
"I know," he complained.
Xander 2 leaned out and smiled, coming over to let the dog sniff him. It gave him an odd look. "I know, I smell like Willow but I'm this size. I'm the same Xander I was before." The dog sniffed then gave him another odd look. He stared and the dog backed up, sitting down to stare at him. "Who sent you?" It yipped. "Willow, Dawn, or someone else?" That got a yip. "Hmm. One of the slayers?" That got a happier sounding yip. "Stay out of sight, okay?" It nuzzled him then disappeared. "Sorry, one of the slayers sent him to watch over us." He looked at Rick. "Hi, Xander Harris, Watchers Council." Rick gaped. "White Knight of Sunnydale." Rick took a step back. "Say hi to whoever sent you."
"His cousin hunts," Dean said.
"Goodie." He went back inside. "I'm going to bed. Night."
"Night," Tim called.
"Night," Dean agreed. He looked at Rick again. "The more who know the less who'll come after Sammy for trying to stay good. No matter what the higher demons want."
Rick nodded. "I'll tell him. Night. Speedle."
"Be safe, Rick. Miami's still dangerous." He nodded quickly, heading off at a run.
Dean shook his head. "Ass licker." Tim swatted him gently. "Sorry."
Tim grinned. "I usually call him worse." They walked back inside. Dean went to bed. He went to check on 1. The boy was back asleep in the water. Tim went to sit in the living room and wait on the boy to get out so he could check on him and feed him dinner.
Speed smiled at the teachers unloading their kids. "Horatio Caine said my boys could join in." They smiled and nodded. "These are Xander and Alex, that's Dean, and this one is Sam. They will behave." They all nodded. He and the boys walked behind the students. That gave them an extra herding group. Xander 2 got a few of the girls who tried to wander off, smiling at them so they crowded around him.
One of the teachers leaned closer. "In education?"
"I used to work in the lab." She beamed at that. "The boys wanted to see." He looked at Dean, who pointed at one. "Um, one went that way," he said quietly with a point. She went to gather the child before she got into trouble.
"I'm not holding a girl's hand," Dean said quietly.
"Not a problem," Tim promised. They walked up to the receptionist, who gaped at him. "What?" He smiled and patted his. "My boys Xander, Alex, Dean, and Sam." Sam smiled and waved. "H said we could join in."
"Sure," she said weakly. "It's just a surprise to see you."
He shrugged. "Happens sometimes." He looked around. "Hey, um, guys, no going into the lab without someone from the lab. They can get shut down for that." The teachers went to get the other wandering students. One was missing so he pointed. "She went for ballistics." He texted someone. Ryan walked her out a minute later. "Thanks, Ryan."
"Welcome, Speed. So, the tour? H is on a call but he'll be here in a minute." He smiled at the teachers. "I'll warn the others to make sure no one's got anything too dangerous out." He went to do that. "Kids coming," he yelled from the main junction.
A few techs groaned but put things out of the way in case the kids visited them. The AV tech switched projects since he had been working on some pictures kids should not see.
Horatio got off the call and came out, smiling at them. "Good morning."
"Good morning, Lieutenant H," Speed said with a grin.
"Good morning, Lieutenant H," the kids echoed.
Horatio smiled. "Are we ready to learn what the lab does?" They nodded. "Now, there are three rules. Do not touch anything. Some of the things we're working on will make sure the bad people pay for whatever bad things they have done." That got a mass nod. "You may ask any tech any question about their lab, but if they don't know, they might refer you to another tech. Don't pout, because sometimes even they have to ask questions. The third rule is we do not put our gum or any candy anywhere in the lab. All right?" They nodded.
Dean raised his hand. "So we can't blow bubbles in our gum?"
"I would wish you wouldn't but definitely throw it out instead of using it to hold up the underside of a table, Dean." Dean smirked back. "Good. Let's start with the interrogation areas since they're closest. This way and stay with the group please." He walked them off, noticing Speed was riding herd on the stragglers. He let them into one of the larger rooms. "This is an interrogation room. Where we talk to people that we're taking statements from or who might be bad people." He saw an officer walking someone past the windows. "Hold on." He leaned out. "We have a tour group of young children." The officer nodded and took him to a different room away from the kids. He smiled again. "Sorry. As we say around the labs, Miami never closes." The teachers smiled and Speed smirked. "In here, we talk to suspects and victims, we take statements, and sometimes we take fingerprints or DNA samples on a swab."
"That's like a big q-tip," Speed told a girl who had raised her hand. "They rub it against the inside of your cheek."
"Oh." She put her hand down with a grin for him. "Did you work here?"
"I did a few years ago." She beamed at him for that. "See that mirror? It's so other officers or lawyers can watch from the other side of the glass without being seen." Horatio coughed and pointed. "They moved it?"
"They did. That's a decorative touch they gave us during the last upgrade that we got from the federal government. It came along with a cold case DNA tech."
One of the teachers looked then at him. "Not what you wanted?"
"No. Not what we expected. They did it and put s on vacation." She laughed. "Let's go look in the layout rooms." He walked them off, showing them the layout rooms, the regular labs they could only stand in the doorway of. The kids did shout questions at the techs about what they were doing. Most of the techs were helpful and the one who wasn't Horatio got to glare at. He answered questions when Tim called one out about him supposedly using the wrong chemical for acid washing a photo. The tech gave him a horrified look and backed off. He only smirked and patted Sam's head. The kids all smiled at Sam being a happy baby. They went to DNA to talk to Valera, who was happy to tell them what she did all day and night. They left and went to ballistics, where Calleigh had put up a fence so no one could get near the guns but they could use the microscopes since none of the other labs would let them.
"Aww, there's Sam," she said, taking him to hold. "Hi, Sam. Are we having a good day?" Sam poked her on the cheek then pointed. "No, have to be held in here." She smiled at the kids. "I'm a favorite auntie of Sam and the other three." She pointed at each thing and went over what it did, including some pictures she had pulled up of bullets so they could see what grooves were. They all cheered and left. She saw the boys looking around. "You three don't even think about going into the exemplar."
Xander 1 grinned at her. "I have better."
She snorted. "No, you don't. I've seen yours." She walked the kids off back to the break room, where they had cookies and milk waiting. Then they went to see the detective's area. She came back to find Speed letting the boys look but not touch the guns. "Speed."
"Hush. Not like they don't know as much about guns as you do." He handed over the diaper bag. "You're damp too."
She looked then went to change him.
"Awww, you're so adorable!" Valera cooed in the hallway. "We should help change you."
Dean shook his head. "I have never understood why Sammy made women's minds go gooey." Speed snickered. "I don't. I'm cuter."
Valera came in and nearly squealed before pouncing the boys. "So adorable!"
"Lady, get off!" 1 complained. "I just got over my migraine."
She gave him a look. "I can coo if Calleigh can."
"She and Alexx don't get to coo either," he complained.
"They hate being fussed over, Max," Speed told her.
She giggled, letting him down. "Some boys take time to learn the value of fussing. I'm sure we can get them used to it." Horatio came in with Sam. "Aww, are you dry?"
"Thankfully. Calleigh has to change her shirt." He looked at Sam. "This is Maxine Valera. She's one of the DNA techs, Sam."
"Sam's a good name," she said, tweaking his nose, getting a scowl for it. She smiled. "You're adorable. Some day I want babies like you." He shook his head. "No I don't?"
"Nah, he's a pain in the ass," Dean told her. Sam squealed at that. He looked at him. "When you don't need diapers, you'll be less of a pain in the ass, Sammy." Horatio gave him a look. "He will be."
"Diapers aren't a problem," 2 assured him. He stole Sam to hold. "C'mon, they clearly don't appreciate your brilliant mind, Sam." Sam grinned at him. "We'll go swing later since our tire swing is up again." He pointed at one. "It's a Kalif, that's a speciality gun."
Sam looked at him then patted him on the cheek, shaking his head. He pointed at one. Then he made a tweeting noise.
Horatio looked then nodded. "That is like yours at home, Sam. The one that Dean pets." He took the baby back when he heard someone coming. "Calleigh. The boys were comparing and seeing who could name the most."
"They can probably name a good lot of them." She pointed at one. "That's this year's model." Dean moaned, reaching for it. "No way."
"No. Not in the lab."
"Can you bring it for a picnic?" Xander 1 asked hopefully.
"If I can get permission."
"If not, maybe we'll take a trip to a pawn shop," Speed said. Rick walked in scowling. "Guys, this is Rick Stetler. He's Internal Affairs."
"What are they doing in the exemplar cabinet?"
"I can name all but about six samples," Xander said.
"Me too," Dean agreed. Rick moaned, shaking his head. "Not like they'll let me touch. Which you know, pity, because some of them are dusty and dad would bitch."
Calleigh rolled her eyes. "I haven't had the time to clean them recently."
"It happens," Xander 2 assured her. "I had that problem in Cleveland when things started to go bad."
She smiled. "I still think you two miniature gun nuts are adorable." They both smirked back. "But I won't pet you again because I know you'll fuss and hide for a few hours."
"I found baking cookies usually brings them out of hiding," Speed quipped.
"You make good cookies," Dean said dryly. "If you made crappy ones we'd hide from them too." Horatio chuckled.
"Okay, I need to work," Calleigh ordered. They all nodded and gathered things back together to go home after haircuts for Dean and Sammy.
Speed walked in with the boys, letting Sam down so Xander 2 could pick him up and carry him out back to swing as promised. "Hey, John," he said, waving and handing over a small envelope. "From Sam's first haircut this time."
He looked at it then at him. "You already took him?"
"I had to take Dean; it was easy enough and he agreed, it was floppy and in his eyes. I asked." He shrugged. "We had no idea when you'd be back."
"Thank you." He put it into his shirt pocket. "Things go okay?"
"They went fine. H was giving some school kids a tour of the lab so we went to freak people out and let Dean and Xander stare in awe at Calleigh's exemplar cabinet."
"She's a ballistics tech. All the guns on hand to test against are her exemplar."
"Oh." He nodded. "So they had a good morning?"
"Very, even though a few of the young kindergartners wanted to bring Dean home." John shook his head quickly. "They were good all morning. We got it straightened out when the cousin of a hunter showed up to see why there were strange things going on here. As Dean ordered, he's letting his cousin know he doesn't have to come set fire to the house with us in it." He heard a scream and went to look. "What the hell, kids?" Xander 2 was protecting Sam while Dean and Xander 1 were staring at something. "Well, fuck. That is an alligator, guys. Why do we have a second one?" He called it in. "Eric, Speed. We got another 'gator. Please. The boys are out back and it's too close. Can I sedate it or something? Thanks, man." He hung up. "John, get a tranq rifle from the armory please?" He went to get a regular gun. "No, if we shoot them, we go to jail unless it's actively biting someone or a pet. Get a tranq rifle. In the blue case." He went to do that. He came out and shot the alligator, watching as it went down. "Thank you. Boys, inside until it's picked up?" They did that, 2 carrying Sam again. "Sorry, Sam."
"Maybe they like Sam like they do Eric," Dean teased.
"With my luck they think I'm cute," Xander 2 quipped back.
John looked at him. "What?" he demanded.
"Why not? A demonic praying mantis shape changer, a reanimated Incan mummy, Anya, they all seem to like me." He shrugged as he went inside.
John looked at Tim, who nodded. "Yeah, that's his dating history." He heard brakes. "Around back, guys." They came jogging back there. "We sedated it."
"Thank.... Um, don't I know you?"
"I got called back specially to raise the boys," he said with a grin. "They seem to like the yard. This is the second one we've had."
They just nodded and went to gather the poor creature to carry it off. DNR officials would look the area over since this wasn't even near a water source.
Speed looked at John. "I'm sorry if I stepped on your toes about his haircut. We were going anyway and I asked. He said it'd be fine."
"He's still my son. That should be my job."
Speed looked at him then moved closer. "They made him *my* son, John, and we're not sleeping together so we'd better work this out now." John stared for a second then gave him a dirty look. "I'm not saying you can't help and you can't be their dad too, but they put all the boys in my custody. Not like I can't use the help with four of them. Even if the boys do seem to want to do it on their own. I think we need to work this out before we end up having one of those epic screaming matches that'll hurt the boys."
"God, save me from emo shit," Dean moaned from the doorway. "Maybe this is hell."
"It's not hell," Speed said firmly. "No whips or chains even if you do get tortured by emotional stuff now and then or fussy women."
"They do say hell is other people sometimes," Xander quipped from inside the kitchen. "Or so the saying goes."
Dean looked back at Xander. "Are you sure you're our Xander?"
"Yes, I do occasionally say wise things, and yes, before you have to ask the girls don't like it when I do so." He got himself some lemonade and went back to the armory. "Isn't tonight the night we have to have your special night?" he asked from in there before closing the door.
"Fuck," Dean muttered.
"Not at this age," 2 quipped, coming to get his own lemonade. "We have it dug out, Dean. All we have to do is point out that you're not able to be taken." He grinned and went out back to put the glass down. Then he went to get Sam and carry him out.
"Xander, you're too little to do that," John said.
"Shut up!" He went to put Sam in the swing and climbed back on top, like usual. "Don't make me channel my other half and say something rude."
"Someone needs a nap," Tim told him, staring him down.
2 shrugged. "Yay me." He pushed the swing off and it was good. Sam was giggling inside it.
John looked at Tim. "They need discipline."
"I have the memories of the discipline I had before," Dean and 2 both called.
John glared at his son. "If you did, you'd be showing more respect, son."
Dean sipped his drink. "When have I not?" John stared. "I do respect you but I'm not getting in the middle of that argument. You two can argue all you want because Xander and I agree you're both guardians and you can both beat each other up until you can work out how to get along. We've got enough issues without that one." He walked off with his water.
"What is that supposed to mean and do not walk away from me, Dean."
Dean sighed and turned around. "Have you really thought about what it means for me to be four again?" John shook his head slowly. "I'm in a hell of someone else's making at the moment. Not only am I not big enough to do anything for myself again. Not only have I lost the respect I had gained over the years from the other hunters. Not only are most of the ones I know going to be dead by the time I'm old enough to hunt again, but I get to go through all the crap I did last time on top of it." He walked off, going to meditate out the anger some more. It wasn't going to work. If he ever met the demons who had done this to him he'd be gutting them, four or not. If he had to go back through puberty again, he might even play in the guts. Yeah, he might like that a lot. Which meant he needed to dump some of the anger again before it came out on Sam. Or Xander.
"Xander, do you not know what respect is?" John asked 2.
Xander snorted. "Why should I respect you, John? You haven't earned it yet."
"I am an adult and a fellow hunter. Surely you had some for your parents."
"For the people who loved the bottle more than me? Nope." He hopped down, coming over to look up at him. "No, I don't. With me you have to earn the respect and the trust because I don't have any anymore. It's been too many years of bad shit going on and those who I do let in trying to screw me up worse. So no, you haven't earned it yet. When you do, I'll do more than pull out company manners for you." He looked at Tim. Then back at Sam since he was out of the swing and walking off shaking his head. "Good job, Sam!" He ran over to pick him up and spin him around, getting a laugh. "Great job!"
Dean came out to see what the happiness was about. He smiled at his brother. "Good job, Sammy. 'Bout time." He gave him a pat on the head. "Figures you'd walk now since the last time you walked off during a fight Dad and I were having." He smiled.
"Get him two cookies for that, Dean," Tim ordered. Sam beamed and waved, going to get his reward. "I'm going to be the best damn father I can to those boys, John. If you want to help me, please do. The boys have issues I've never dealt with personally before. The only way I know how to deal with Xander's anger is to have him talk to Horatio because they come from similar backgrounds."
"We could split it so I have mine and you have Xander."
"They said you couldn't take custody for more than a few days," Tim reminded him. John groaned. "Beyond that, I have the means to take care of them. The house is already set up. We have plans in place to get them through the state's education demands by home schooling or yearly testing for the first few years. They're not allowed to go hunt until they're old enough to do it on their own or else they'll put Xander and Dean with people who'll hurt them on purpose to keep them from hunting. They'll hand Sam to a family that's pro-demon so they will warp him."
"If they have their old memories...."
"It's not that hard, John. They do it to adults in prison, cults, and in marriage every day. It only takes a few weeks in some cases."
John considered it. "They're still my sons."
"Two of the four are. You still can't have more than living with and helping duties. You can help, you can do all those dad things you missed the first time. I'm not stopping you from doing any of that."
"You do act like a mother," he said dryly.
"Don't make me hit you, John. Most of the world's chefs are men." John ducked his head. "Even if I was gay, you're still not my type so don't worry about it. I'd go make H happier first." John blushed. "We have a good chance to help these boys heal and become better rounded adults. To help Xander with the past he had the last time. To help Dean be more centered in himself and let Sam prove he can do a lot of his own stuff without abandoning him."
John nodded. "We can do that. What were you going to teach them?"
"More languages. Whatever they want to learn. Dean's been tinkering with the VCR since it's broken so maybe some of that stuff if he wants."
"Dean is good with fixing electronic things," John agreed. "Languages?"
"Did you go into the library up in Cleveland? Beyond that, there's a lot of natives here in Miami and it's a good thing for anyone to know. Helps them talk to people no matter who they run into. It's something a lot of cops learn too."
"PT and weapons?" John suggested.
"We can't encourage it," Tim reminded him.
Tim smiled. "If they do it on their own, they can do that all they want. I'm going to focus on skills they can use no matter what they want to end up doing. While prompting others to see if they can unseparate Xander."
Dawn appeared, looking at them. "Hi. Where's Xander? It's my Xander snuggling time."
"They're inside," Tim said with a small smile. "Sam just walked."
"Cool." She walked in and picked up 2 to hug. "Hi, Xander."
"Dawn. What happened?"
"They're being butts again." Dean snorted. "Long history of it on the slayers' side," she admitted. She gave him a squeeze. "I have *got* to go to college to get away from them."
Xander patted her on the cheek. "Put me down." She pouted but did it. "We're in the armory." She walked in there with him. "Now, what happened?"
"Oh, the usual. I'm so helpless, can't date, don't think, etc. and so forth." He sat down, letting her sit between them to cuddle them both. "She got onto me for dating a nice, normal boy who wasn't even a bit goth or strange. Literally, A student, on the academic olympic team, nice guy who didn't want to have sex on the first two dates but he'd accept if I wanted to, drives a nice, fuel efficient, environmentally neutral car. And they decided I'm too stupid to date because I didn't pick something evil this time."
Xander sighed, shaking his head. "You're how old?"
He just nodded. "Your sister's got this funny mental problem now and then."
"Yeah, she said it's better this happened to you so you could find a life without hanging onto them."
Xander nodded. "I heard." She squeaked. "Yeah, someone told me. There's going to be hell to pay in about two weeks. Want to move to Miami?"
"I might to go to college." Tim leaned in. "Would it bother you if I came down here to go to college?"
"Not in the least, Dawn. How are we doing on getting him back together?"
"Willow decided this plan has a point and that Xander should find a life outside of them. I'm still looking. I've found a lot of stuff on Toth and we're looking into the warhammer itself and how she undid the spell the last time since she had to write one. I'm working on the clause she apparently built into it. I'm not great at making my own spells. Hell, who am I kidding, I need more training to even dabble like Willow used to do to screw things up." She looked at Xander then at him. "I don't want to make more mistakes."
"We agree, no more mistakes," Tim assured her. "Apply to colleges down here. You can pseudo-babysit."
She smiled. "I can do that." She patted herself down, finding her cellphone. "Buffy, you're a stupid, selfish bitch who has bad taste in men since you sent mine, who was going to be a doctor, away because he was a nice guy. So therefore, fuck yourself; I'm leaving the Council when I get back and I'm going to college somewhere far, far away from the brain sucking rot that you're letting take over up there. By the way, I'll be packing all my stuff before you can go do something even stupider." She hung up and disappeared, coming back twenty minutes later with three boxes and a duffle bag, plus a makeup case. "Ah." She smiled. "Tim, can I camp for a few days until I can find somewhere?"
"How are you going to afford it?" he asked.
She smirked. "Mom made *me* her beneficiary of her life insurance and it's locked away from Buffy touching it. Not even Giles can touch it." She stared. "And they do know Willow's a hacker so it has no outside electronic access. I called the guy who does it for me and he's agreed I can move as long as I can find somewhere safe enough to live down here. He suggested one of those rent by the month motels until I can get into college."
"How soon before you get in?" John asked.
"How soon will it take them to approve my paperwork? I was taking a year off." She looked at Xander. "Can I camp, guys?"
"You can have our spare bed," 2 told her. "We usually curl up together."
"Cool." She kissed them both on the head. "I knew that spell off _Sabrina_ would work." She floated stuff that way. Then she came back. "Since I'm not a freeloader, can I help make lunch, Tim?"
"Sure, Dawn." She smiled, going to make them decent sandwiches and stuff for lunch.
Dean looked over at her. "Buffy cry?"
"Still gaping and making squeaky noises. After lunch I'll make it so Willow has to appear outside and no new magic can go on inside the house unless I'm doing it, you guys are doing it, or Xander's doing it." She finished up and put plates on the table. "Xander, want ham or there's some leftover chicken breasts if Tim isn't going to use them."
"No, those were for salads and stuff. Go ahead."
"Xander, want ham or chicken?"
"Ham," the other said.
She smiled and made both like how they usually liked, putting them onto the table. "There we go. Lunch." The other boys came in. "Hi, Sam. Good job with the walking." She patted him on the head. "You should have some extra veggies for that." Dean handed over his. She gave him a look. "Even you have to eat vegetables, Dean. They'll make sure this time you don't grow up weak and sick. Take half of those back." He did with a groan. She gave him a cuddle. "For that you can help me pick up hotties on the beach." He snickered. "You can. That way I don't pick up on Xander's bad boy tastes."
Xander 2 gave her a look. "Since when have I gone after bad boys?"
"Good point." Her cellphone rang. She handed it to 1 since he was the more aggressive.
"What?" he answered. "Yes she is because her sister's a stupid bitch again, Willow. I don't know. Why did she try to drive off the straight A, good boy with a decent car who didn't want Dawnie for sex guy who was headed to medical school?" She spluttered. "And by the way, the spell to put me back together? You know, before this means I have a psychotic break and become worse than Spike or Angelus? Because they did bring back other hunters to control mine and Dean's temper over this before we destroy all the worlds." He hung up. He looked at her. "She's sniffling."
"Yay her." She shrugged. "I can't stand their 'tude now and then." Someone pulled in so she looked back there. "Hmm. Wannabe hotty in a hummer?"
Speed looked. "Eric." He waved him inside. "Want lunch? Usually you show up when I cook."
"Nah. I came to check on the boys." He patted Xander 2 on the head. "Mama wanted to know if they could come over this weekend or if they wanted to go to mass with the family."
"I don't mind if they wanted to go play with the heathens," Tim agreed. "John?"
"We trust this family?"
"Yeah, I've known the Delkos since Eric joined the lab. With the exception of Marisol, it's all cool over there."
"Mari's going to be off for the weekend," Eric told him. "That way you don't worry about her."
"Thanks," Tim said. "Guys, want to make Mama feel better this weekend?" They all shrugged. "Sure, they can come over Saturday afternoon?"
"That'll work," he agreed with a grin. "Mama says there's not enough boys in the family and she wants more grandsons. She thinks these ones will encourage my sisters."
Tim snickered. "Probably not. Warn her Sam just started to walk today."
"Good job, Sam," Eric praised. Sam grinned at him. "I know but it's a big step to getting back to yourself." He leaned down. "That means you can hide from Maria's kids." Sam cackled, nodding. "Good." He looked at Tim, who handed over half his sandwich. "Thanks, buddy." He looked at Dawn. "Neighbor?"
"Do we need to send 'I'm safe' letters?" Eric asked.
"No, I called up there to swear at my sister myself," she promised with a smile. "Who else but my sister would drive off a straight A student with a good conscience for the environment and a decent future?"
"Your sister's insane," Eric agreed.
"No, she's the senior slayer and fuck if I wanna deal with her issues this year or ever again at the moment." John gaped. "What? It's the truth." She gave 2 a hug. "We'll do fine and I'll sit when people have to go out as long as it doesn't interfere with classes." She smiled at Eric. "Can I take the boys to the beach?"
"The guys around here will think they're yours."
"I'm not looking to pick up men today, Eric. Just to relax. Show off my new bikini Buffy didn't know I bought on sale." Her phone rang.
Xander looked. "Giles." He handed it over.
"Yes, Giles?" She listened to him chastise her. "Then tell my sister to get someone's head out of her ass. The power's gone to her head and I'm tired of being her whipping post since she can't use Xander as it anymore. Also, I don't think she has my best interests at heart since she drove off a nice boy who had a good future and who didn't want to pressure me for sex. Well, Giles, gee, I don't know. Would you rather I embrace Faith's philosophy?" That got more spluttering in her ear. "Exactly. So I'm with Xander and I'm working on that small issue Willow decided to leave alone, even though it's harming her best friend irrevocably. Because someone should and do we remember Xander the last time he was split?"
He said something quietly. "Giles, if they had to bring back another hunter to try to calm down the tempers that are going on in Xander and Dean.... Exactly. And yes, Xander can. Remember, Xander has higher weapons knowledge. He may start with the demons but not like you guys tried to help fix the split or the aging spell." She hung up then tucked it into her pocket. "There." She smiled. "Someone will be working on it with me later. Now, I deserve a day of vacation before I tour all the local colleges and pick one. Can I take the boys to the beach, Tim?"
"Go ahead. You can drive, right?"
"One of three at the council," she said dryly. "Slayers are scatterbrained and would try to hit the demons with the cars." She went to change clothes, coming back to get a soda. "Finish up, guys. We're going to the beach." They smiled and dove into their food. Tim got them their bathing suits and she got the sunblock for them. She oiled them down. "There." She smiled. "To the car!" She took the keys and gave an odd look at the twenty. "I have it, Tim." She walked off, going to take them to stare at the ocean. "We should stop and get toys too, huh?" She went to the local dollar store first then to the beach once she had beach toys. She parked and got out, carrying Sam. Xander laid out the two towels and put up the umbrella she had bought. "That's good." She put Sam in the sand. "Stay here and we'll hit the water in a few minutes, once we're all sweaty." They nodded, sitting down to stare at the bikinis. She took off her shirt and then wiggled out of her shorts. "There." The boys looked then stared, mouths slightly open. She smirked. "Yes, I'm a girl too." She settled in on the blanket. "You guys can play."
"I'd rather stare at the breasts," Dean said in awe.
Xander nodded. "Breasts good." 2 nodded, licking his lips. They saw one woman up the beach feeding her young. "Damn, we were bottle fed," he whispered. Dawn smacked him. "Hey!"
"No staring at the breastfeeding. That's rude and it'll make her feel odd."
"Yes, Dawn." They looked at the bouncing girls jogging up the sand. Then they stared at their asses. "Yeah, that's a good, relaxing sight," Dean said in awe.
Dawn snickered. "Mini perverts."
"Not our fault we're mini," 2 quipped.
"True," 1 agreed. He leaned back, watching the waves too. Bikinis in the waves was perfect for him. "Wonder if any of the swim team are here," he mused.
Dawn snickered. "If so we'll warn people before they get snacked on."
"Huh?" Dean asked.
"Incident back in high school," Dawn told him. "Don't worry about it."
An older woman walked over. "You have such an adorable family."
Dawn smiled. "Thank you but they're my little brothers. I'm giving the dads time off."
The woman beamed. "Such a thoughtful girl." She patted 2 on the head, getting a grin. "Your sister should apply more sunscreen."
She checked her watch. "Let them splash in the water then we'll put some more on." The older woman smiled, walking off. Dean looked at her. "We can splash in the water."
"I've got Sam," 2 said.
"I can get Sam. You guys have some fun." She looked at Sam, who shrugged. They walked down there, Dawn pulling her purse with her just in case someone unkind tried to rob them and found her stake. The boys dove into the waves on the sand, playing in them. A few of the buxom young women came over to help when 2 cackled evilly and threw some sand at Dean. "Little brothers," she explained with a grin.
"They're adorable," one cooed, pinching Sam on the cheek. They got down to play with the boys. The boys all beamed since they were playing with hotties in bikinis and could probably get away with a quick 'accidental' knock into them. Dean even managed to get thrown by a stronger wave into one's backside, giving her a sheepish grin when she laughed. They got out and went back to the towels, where she dutifully applied more sunscreen to all of them. Other girls came to coo over the boys too. Especially 1's eye patch. They thought it was a shame but that he was still too adorable to let it matter.
Someone up the beach screamed. Dawn looked then sighed. "Guys, running pervert," she ordered. The girls all glared. Dawn looked then looked at Xander. "Sit." He nodded he'd guard them. She got up and got in his way, stopping him. "Hi. Did you need him, Officers?"
"Yes, ma'am. He's fairly dangerous." The guy tried to grab Dawn but Dawn proved Xander had been sneaking in some self defense.
"Kick him," 1 called. Dawn did that, making him sorry. He shook his head. "Too girly." The girls giggled at that. "She can be," he told them. Dawn strolled back. "You learned better than that."
She kissed him on the head. "Quit fussing, dear."
Dawn sat back down, looking at the boys. "Think they've finished their fight?" Dean nodded. "Good." She grinned at the girls. "Want to splash some more with the boys? Or should we had for a snack?"
The boys looked at each other. "Snack," Xander 1 and Dean said in unison. The girls giggled and helped her gather them up to go back to the car. She drove through a salad stand to get them something to nibble on fruit-wise then brought them home. "There we go." She released Sam, letting him walk off with his grapes.
Dean shook his head. "Sammy's such a freak sometimes." Sam spit back at him.
John looked out the front door. "You're wet and sandy, son."
Sam beamed at him, pointing back at Dean. Then he cackled as he went inside.
John looked at them. "Let me guess, the pretty girls helped you guys play in the waves?"
"Yup, I even got some touching in because I'm so adorable," Dean said with a smirk. John swatted him on the back of the head. "Hey!"
"Be good," John ordered.
"I was." He smirked. He walked into the kitchen. "We're back, hide the cookies."
"I can see that. You need to hose off the sand," Tim told him.
"I will." He switched his healthy snack for a less healthy set of cookies on his way to shower. "Dawn looks hot."
"I'm sure she does." He shook his head. "Take Sam to shower off his sand and grape stains too." Sam waved the last of the bunch before sucking another off the stem to chew it. "After you eat."
Both Xanders pelted in and looked at him. "Can we have cookies too? We ate the fruit Dawn bought us. We only leered and mildly snuggled one woman's chest."
Tim laughed, handing them both cookies. "Use my shower to take off the sand and whatever's in the water, guys."
"Sure, if you go over how to beat a guy who grabs you by the throat again with Dawn. She forgot some of mine," 1 said. He took his cookies and went to the shower. 2 followed nibbling his.
"Dawn, what guy grabbed you?" Tim asked dryly.
"Oh, some guy running away from the cops. I stepped in his way. He tried to grab me by the throat but I nearly had gotten free when Xander told me to kick him." She shrugged. "It happens."
"To you," 2 called. "A lot."
"Worse than H?" Speed called.
"Yeah. They all love her because she's super special," 1 called.
"Really?" John asked. "Because you're a witch?"
"No, because I'm the Keyholder."
"Wasn't that in _Ghostbusters_?" John asked, looking confused. She sighed and went to get the book, letting him see the spot she opened it to. He read then blinked at her. "How in the hell!" he demanded.
She smirked. "To protect it from Glorificus, who died but was the reason my sister died the last time. Which was what started the First Evil crap." John gaped. She nodded. "So I'm good but I'm trying to be normal and average."
"Sure," he agreed, nodding again. "Do you need protected?"
"No. I'm good and she's gone. No one can use it. I can't without actively tapping into it and that gives me a great headache. So magic is all me but not all me." She took the book back and went to put it back then went to shower off her own sand. She walked past them taking off her t-shirt.
"Must you!" John demanded.
"Yes. It's a bikini. Miami is full of them and Dean even managed to face plant into a butt."
Tim snickered. "Wear clothes around the house please, Dawn."
"I am. It's not that bad."
Dean came out of the bathroom with Sam swaddled in a towel and him too. He blinked, he stared, he even drooled a bit. "No fair showing those around the house."
She leaned down. "It's so you learn not to stare," she said with a grin. "Like boys like Tim don't." She wiped off his mouth. "With exposure you might not even be a little shit that only bangs them and then forgets it. You might be decent to a girl so she's too tired to protest when you drive off." She walked around them, leaving Sam cackling. "Girls like guys who leave them limp and laying there sweaty or they're faking it." She closed the bathroom door.
Dean wiped his own mouth. "It's not fair to flash those at me, Dawn. I'm a little guy and weak."
"You'll get stronger with exposure," she called. "Like a vaccine."
Tim cackled. "That's true. Even Eric quit staring eventually."
John gave him an odd look. "That's bad."
"No, it's good. Bikinis are everywhere in Miami, John. The boys will all have to stop staring at anything but the very obvious fake ones."
"We saw one of those. Her tits were bigger than her butt," Dean said. "Really huge. Huger than her head on each side." He grinned at John's distressed noise. "Or as Xander called her Feats of Structural Engineering woman."
"Because that one needed to have specially made bras. She clearly could not wear heels because it'd tip her over for good. There's no way those were natural," 1 said.
"I took a picture with Dawn's phone," 2 said as he came out of the bathroom.
Dean got the phone to look at it. "Dawn, new text." He looked at the picture then handed it to his father.
John stared in horror. "No way that's natural."
Speed looked. "Hey, she got a bigger set. She's one of the local headlining strippers. She's not that bad." He went back into the kitchen. "What'm I making for dinner, guys?"
John turned off the phone. "Go get dressed, boys," he said quietly. They went to put on real clothes again. Dawn came out in a towel and scurried to get clothes then back to the bathroom. "Thank you, Dawn." He went into the kitchen to watch Speed stare at the fridge and freezer. "Make whatever you want. The boys will eat it."
"Sometimes. Dean has this hatred of vegetables so I've got to sneak them in." He decided on beef, pulling some out.
Dawn came out tucking in her t-shirt. He handed over her phone to get into the text message. She snorted, calling up there. "Buffy, it's not yours. She left it to me. It's my college fund. I'm going to college. Yes, in Miami. Because Tim could use a good babysitter and there's a few good colleges down here. Plus, hey, a lot of hotties both smart and cute. And yes, I'm going to go for good boys, like my last one. Because bad and trashy is not *my* taste." She snorted. "Riley. Spike.... Yeah, not my tastes. The closest I got was my crush on Xander." Xander 2 snickered, nodding. "I've got all my stuff unless I come up and steal a few pictures out of the library. No, I don't think we need to have slayers down here. We have some hunters. John's here if we have problems. We're good. Just stay up there so I don't have to hear more shit from you going off about my life. Because you're not Mom and you're now endangering my future and my sanity." She hung up. "I love my sister. I do. I love her dearly, but she's too wrapped up in being the slayer and not enough in real life."
Xander gave her a pat on the hand. "She gets that then she comes out of it."
Dawn sighed, nodding. "I remember when she used to rag on you during them. I took your spot for that." She called her back. "Buffy, the last time you had this sort of moment, you kept calling Xander too normal. Hey, Faith. The truth. I'm not her whipping girl. She was treating me like she used to treat Xander when she had her special girl moments. Yeah, well, brutally honest but needed. Maybe it'll break it sooner before she shoves off more of the girls. Faith, what happened last night?" Faith said what she heard. "That was hour two of her ragging on me. I'm not putting up with it. It's hurting me. I love my sister but her head and her butt need to quit french kissing.
"I'm going to college. I know I was taking a year off. Then Buffy got naggy and annoying. So I'm going to college in Miami. I'll be picking one this week and applying then. I might like Buffy, I love my sister, but her 'tude is getting out of hand and I won't put up with being her whipping post like Xander was for years. Xander's a stronger guy than I'll ever be. So, sorry, and if you need me, call. If she gets her head out of her miniskirt, call. Until she does, don't call." She nodded. "Yeah. And I love you guys, well, a few of them. The younger girls are picking up the same problem. I'm not going to deal with that."
"You shouldn't have to," John said. He took the phone. "Faith, John. She's here and she's moving close enough until she gets into the dorms." He nodded. "They still need it. Giles needs to get someone to work on training them, Faith. Yes, that stuff. So they don't die in the next battle," he said bluntly. "Some of the girls have no training." She agreed with him. "Good. Then put it up this way. She got trained. You got trained. The younger ones need it too." He smiled. "She took the boys to the beach so they could leer."
Dawn took her phone back. "The guys drooled at the bikinis and it gave Tim some adult time. No, I'm good. She hasn't had access to it, Faith. Mom left it to me and I made sure that what was Buffy's stayed Buffy's and mine stayed mine. No, I'm good. By the way, they do know that Willow hacks." She listened. "Exactly. So I'm going to be Dawn, not Buffy's little sister and whipping post or clothing opnion committee. If she needs fawned over, let the girls. No, Faith, I'm exhausted. I'm going to school. I'm going to do good. If they need me they can call me. Giles heard that earlier. Yeah, I'm sure he is calming her down. It's a hard truth but one she needed to hear when she started it with Xander. He was too nice. I'm not. Mom taught me to shoot back at Buffy when she's being a bitch. I'm fine. You be safe too. I don't want to see your headstone, Faith. Or your vamp self. You'd be even more badass. Spike might like you too much." Faith giggled so Dawn hung up and put the phone back into her pocket. "Sorry. It went on far too long." She gave both Xanders a hug.
"It'll be fine," 2 assured her, patting her hand. "She always comes out of it."
"Eventually." She sat down, looking at the boys. "Anyone else want a hug?"
"Hugs are toxic to guys like us," Dean said.
"You got cuddled all the time by your own mother," John assured him.
Dean gave him an odd look. "I may be this age but I'm still my old self, Dad." He watched Tim. "Are we grilling?"
"Stir fry?" Tim suggested. "Or I can do something like a casserole?"
"Grilled?" Dean suggested again.
"Anything's fine as long as it's not a lot of sauce," Xander 2 said.
Tim pulled out more beef, going to thaw that too. "We can do that but you're getting grilled veggies too."
"Fine," Dean agreed. "Onions?"
"We have a few I think." He looked in the fridge, pulling out some vegetables. "There, we can do that on the grill plate."
"No real grill?" John asked.
"No, I went with a grill plate for the stove." He put it up there. "I know it won't taste like charcoal but my treatment tastes like apple wood smoke." He got to work making his marinade. The boys smiled. "I'll make sure yours is sauce free, Xander."
"Welcome." He got back to work. "Car." Dean went to look and came back with Ryan. "Hey. How was work today?"
Ryan looked at him then grinned. "Should I kiss you on the cheek and ask how the housework went?" John gasped.
Tim gave him a long look. "Don't know, baby, ask me in a few weeks after I get to know you better," he said blandly with a smirk.
Ryan grinned. "Okay. H said to bring you this." He held up the bag.
Tim washed his hands before taking it. "What is that?"
"Yours. He said it was in the bottom of your locker."
Tim shrugged, putting it onto a clear spot on the counter. "Okay. Anything good happen since then?"
"The guy the girl with the boys helped us catch was a rapist."
"That's good. We'll be working on her self defense skills I'm sure," Tim agreed. "H and Eric better?"
"Eeh, somewhat. You get used to it."
"You shouldn't have to, Wolfe. They're assholes now and then."
"Yeah, well, human or not, it was still wrong part of the time."
"Point." He shrugged. "It's water under the bridge."
"If you're sure." He grinned. "How much did the kids trash the lab?"
"Not too bad outside of the break room. The detectives' they got. Some had things on their desks."
Speed nodded. "The last time I saw one of those the kids got free and trashed the locker room and one of the layout rooms."
"We did good keeping them out of the rooms, thankfully." He smiled at the boys. "You guys are good." He grinned at Tim. "The beach cops said they sat and watched the young woman help and they did some breast diving but they were too cute to yell about."
"That they are," Tim said, staring at the boys.
Dean just grinned. "One said I cuddled very well."
"Next time, sneak better," Tim told him. "You're sneaky and smart enough for that."
"I used it for the butt grab."
John groaned, shaking his head. "Son." Sam looked at him. He held up his crayon. "No, I don't need to color. Thanks, Sammy." He patted him on the head. "Dean, go do pushups." His son nodded, going to do that outside.
Ryan smiled. "It's good you're good to them." He looked at Tim. "H said he can't come over for the next week. The Chief has called meetings out the wazoo about the budget and stuff. Plus rumors about you got back to them and they're confused and scared you're like that Crow show."
Tim snorted. "If I am, Stetler's in danger. Since we had a talk without yelling, insults, or accusations, it's probably not true. Let H create the story." Ryan nodded. "Want dinner?"
"No thanks. I don't ... I don't eat around or with other people."
Speed gave him a long look. "Is the OCD bothering you in the lab?"
"Not really. I was okay for the most part. Now and then I go home and have OCD outbursts after a long, bad day."
Speed nodded. "I remember those. Hug Sam, it helps."
Ryan gave Sam a hug. "You are good at calming people down, Sam. Thanks." He grinned. "Thanks, Tim."
"All new CSI should have a mentor, Ryan. It makes it easier and calmer for us. I had Megan and H. Eric had me and H. You should've had him and H."
"They needed me to be a bit more outcast for the mole stuff."
"While that's good, it doesn't mean they had to cut you off. If you need to talk, come hug Sam again."
"I can do that. Thanks, Speed."
"Not an issue." He grinned. "I'm making steaks."
"No. I can't. I'd have to scrub the kitchen first and then do it again with vinegar after the bleach. Then handle all the food myself. It'd get nasty."
"Sure. Next picnic bring your own lunch. We'll understand." Ryan nodded, leaving to head back to the office.
"OCD?" Xander 1 asked quietly.
"Obsessive-compulsive disorder," Speed told him. "He can't help it, his mind is making him do those sort of things under the assumption bad things will happen. There's desensitization therapy but it doesn't always work. Even if it does there's usually more than one so you have to go through the whole process for each habit. Like guys who turn around a few times before getting into the car or people who have to check the door a certain number of times before they leave. Or even some in the bathroom about how many sheets of toilet paper they use or they rip off so much first, then a second or a third time then use it."
"Sounds like it sucks," Xander 2 said.
"It can," Speed agreed. "It's hard on those who have it and those around them who have to watch it. Unfortunately it's not something they can drug away like depression. Though, for a CSI, we can't take anything like that by federal law." He went back to cooking. He looked at the bag, frowning. "Where did that come from?"
"Don't know," Xander 1 said. "What is it?"
"It looks like a charm from a bracelet." He looked at it then put it into his room so he could get back to cooking.
John looked at Xander. "I was looking over the armory, kids. You've been doing a good job keeping it clean for use."
Xander 1 smiled. "Thanks, John. 2 doesn't like guns so that's been me and Dean." He went back to watching Tim cook. "Can you teach me how to do that?"
"Sure," he agreed, smiling at him. "Dawn, if you need it I can teach you too."
"Sure," she agreed. "I can warm stuff up but my Mom was a great cook. I should be as good as she was."
"When did she go?" John asked quietly.
She looked at him. "Before Glory got me and Buffy had to die to save me and the world. Brain tumor. Turns out her doctor was Glory's host." Both Xanders gave her a pat. "I'm okay. Mom would have sent me to the movies so she could yell at my sister. I'm growing into a woman mom would appreciate and like."
"Joyce would be proud," Xander 2 agreed. She smiled at him.
"You can look up the local colleges online, Dawn. The computer in the study has cable internet." She smiled and went to do that.
Dawn came back the next day. "I have picked a very nice, small school. I have applied and talked to the admission's counselor. He likes my records quite a lot. He said he's applying for me for this fall. They do have a languages program I do like. I talked to a few of the teachers. The only problem they saw is that I only read Latin, not speak it very well. Beyond that I speak and read three other ancient languages and speak two other modern ones. Unfortunately not Spanish, which seems to be predominant around here."
Speed nodded. "In some sections of the city." He gave her a hug. "Good job. When will you know?"
"Within two weeks. I didn't use anyone at the Council as a reference. One teacher did ask if I knew of the council so I answered that I knew but I had left because of the slayers."
Tim nodded. "That's good then." He pointed at the backyard. "They're out there with John." She bounced out to tell them the good news. Tim smiled, going back to straightening out his library.
John had the boys playing in the backyard. Even Sam, who was trying to do some stretching. Dawn sat down next to Sam, helping him get into a better position. "I found my college, talked to the admin counselor, got all my transcripts sent down electronically. The real ones will take about a week. I'll know in two weeks. The language department is a great place. One knew about the Council but I said I left because of the slayers and they don't like that I can read but not speak Latin but I'm good." Xander 2 beamed at her. "Here, Sam, stretch forward, I'll help." He nodded, letting her help him stretch and get to know his new body. "Now up and back. Like with Yoga." He did it and she smiled. "Good. Now, let's change forms." She got into one and he mimicked with her help. "Now, stretch." He did and she did it.
"That looks painful," John said.
"It looks boring," Dean said. "Even worse than pushups."
She looked at him. "Pushups are to build arm muscles. Yoga is to use all your muscles so they don't stiffen up. They both have a place in a good fitness program." She changed positions, then helped Sam into his. He did what she did. "Good job." She changed positions but he couldn't so she got into one he should be able to do. He nodded, doing that one. "There we go." She stood up. "Now, stretch up." He did that. "Now, down." He bent down to stretch, putting his palms flat on the ground. "Excellent." She gave him a hug. "Now go swing. Xander looks lonely on the tire swing," she said in his ear. Sam grinned, toddling over to climb into the tire with some help from 2, who got back up there to swing with him. Dawn settled in to watch the boys.
John looked at her. "Language degree?"
"Yup. I speak and read about eight thanks to the research stuff."
"Very," she agreed with a grin. Xander 1 tried to pounce so she rolled around with him to tickle him. Xander had to get free by kicking her gently then ran for the bathroom.
Dean shook his head. "It's clear he thinks of you like a sister."
"I am." She smiled. "He's a better family than anyone but my Mom." She snagged Dean to roughhouse with him too. He wasn't as gentle with her but that was fine. She could handle him at this size. When he was full grown she couldn't. Dean kicked her too but she got him onto his stomach to tickle him. "Ha ha, Dean." She finally let him up, blocking the kick. "Hey! I can pick on you like I would pick on Xander." She gave him a look. He growled and pounced but she managed to get him back onto his back, tickling him again. He finally had to get free. She let him go and helped him up, giving him a short hug. "Go pee before you have an accident."
He looked at her. "I'm a prank master."
"You and Xander, but you're still little." She smirked. "If I'm his sister and he's now your brother, then I'm yours too."
He smirked. "Good to know." He ran off to hit the bathroom. He found Xander hiding. "She's mean."
Xander nodded. "We'll get her later. Knot her hair all to death."
Dean gave him an odd look. "That's weak."
"No, she's fashionable."
"Oh. That sort. Her clothes?"
"Half her mother bought and I'd never hurt that."
"I'll respect that," Dean decided. "Knots?"
"A lot of knots."
"We'll work on that tonight then." They shared an evil smirk. "So, how bendy is she?"
Xander gave him a dirty look. "She's like my sister, Dean."
"Fine. You mind?"
"In this body, yes. When you're older, try." Dean snickered, nodding at that. "Until you're legal, she won't."
"Pity." He shrugged and they went back out there. Sam squealed and pounced. "Hey, Sammy. Are you teaming up with her?"
Sam shook his head, pointing. He looked up. "How did she get up there?" Xander asked.
"No clue," Dawn admitted. "I think there's a local one and she did it."
"There's probably a lot of local practioners," John agreed. "Can you get down?"
"Yeah, no issue." She concentrated and floated down, landing gently. "There." She smiled and blocked the next magical attack to backlash on the caster. "Better." She picked up Sam to twirl him around, making him squeal louder. "You sound like me last year. All you need to do is squeal 'ohmygod' all the time."
"If he was older, he's a good boy who good girls should date," Dean told her.
She winked. "I'm not fully used to good boys, Dean. After all, my favorite sitter was Spike. I'm simply not going to date a shitbag like Buffy did. I have *much* better taste than Riley or Spike. Or even Angel."
"Everyone has better taste than Riley except for his wife," Xander 1 agreed.
"Last time I saw them, even she was disappointed in Riley. So apparently Buffy didn't teach him anything," 2 told him.
"When was that?"
"I caught them shopping with her nagging him to death about not being able to match socks. The scary thing is I think there's a baby Riley on the way." Both Xanders and Dawn shuddered.
"I take it this boy wasn't decent?" John asked.
"Riley was a team leader for the Initiative before he turned against them. It took him a while to see that they were doing wrong. After they experimented on him, he had captured Spike twice, and a few other things," Dawn told him. John gave her an odd look. "He was trying to recruit Buffy."
"I think he originally cared for her," Xander 1 said, "but then his ego got in the way and so did hers. Like how he had to have more people to patrol than just her."
Dawn nodded. "I remember those days." Xander grinned. "Or how he went junkie thrill seeking and let vamps feed on him."
Xander 2 nodded. "That was creepy. Most of us try not to be bitten." He sat up. "Where is Spike?"
"No clue," Dawn admitted. "He left Angel and disappeared." The two Xanders and she shared a look. "I'll do a search for him down here."
"Thanks. Just in case."
"If he does show up, we'll deal," Dawn pointed out.
"Guns do that," John said bluntly.
"He can't feed and he's got his soul," Xander countered. "He asked for it back because he loved Buffy."
John gave him a horrified look. "That's a problem for the soul, Xander."
"Angel got cursed with his first," Xander 2 said. "Spike did it on his own in Africa."
John shook his head quickly. "That's still wrong."
"It happens." Xander 1 gave him a look. "We all have issues."
John shook his head, going back inside to get some caffeine. Maybe it would help clear his mind. Because that thought was giving him a headache. A really, really bad headache. Tim gave him an odd look from where he was reading something philosophical. "Vampires with souls."
"And Spike. He might be local."
"That's fine. An invite is still needed." John smiled at that, going back out back. "Won't help for the yard," he muttered. "Might have to have that blessed so it's holy ground." He turned the page and went back to reading. It was John's day to be traumatized by the boys.
Dean looked at the demon that appeared. "Sorry the handover didn't go as planned," he said.
The demon stared at him. "That is a weak attempt to avoid the contract, Dean Winchester."
He nodded. "Wasn't my idea."
"This was Samuel's bright plan? We thought better of him."
"No, this was some panel of higher demons' plan to get me out of the way and give them more access to Sammy, but it was also done to another hunter." She stared then ran a hand over him. "Not my doing."
She licked her lips. "That is not something I would have chosen."
"Yeah, well, it sucks to be us," Xander 1 said from the steps beside them. She looked then stared. He grinned and wiggled his fingers. "They split me in two. They only made him little."
"Oh, dear," she said, starting to laugh. "They really have screwed themselves."
"Yup," 1 said dryly, leaning forward. "And you." She quit laughing. "By demonic law, you can't take any child's soul unless it's spelled out. Innocent or not."
"He's not a child."
"I am a child," Dean corrected. "Test me again, Lilith." She did and scowled. "Yeah, the problem is that my soul isn't the one that signed the contract and the contract doesn't say you can take a child."
"It does not matter," she sneered.
Xander coughed. "Point of order; it does matter, Lilith. Wolfram and Hart's lawyers said so." She stepped back, glaring at him. "Dawn?"
She came out of the shadows, doing the spell over Dean. "There, that cleans some of the taint off." She smiled at Lilith. "I had to, sorry," she quipped with a grin.
"How dare you, child," she sneered, moving closer.
Dawn waved her on. "C'mon if you're coming, demon."
"A hunter? You?"
"A witch, me," she sneered back. "A hunter is them and my sister. I'm the witch trying to fix what your higher ups decided to do because Xander can and will destroy every single world there is, starting with the demon planes and hell." Lilith looked at the boy. "He looks so sweet, doesn't he?" Lilith checked then backed off shaking her head. "Yeah, so you're upsetting me and I kinda need Dean to help me with this. Beyond that, even before I did the spell, the soul wasn't the same as the one on the contract." Lilith made it appear, then growled at Dean.
"Hey, yell at the demons who did it," he said dryly. He shrugged then grinned. "I didn't want this. I've yelled a lot about this. Especially since this was their bright idea to get nearer to Sammy."
Xander snorted, shaking his head. "Sam has all his memories too. It'll never happen." He pointed something at her. "Since you're here, I should make you a harbinger of my future anger." She gave him a scared look. "I should. Maybe they'll listen to how pissed we are." She backed up slowly. "It won't work, dear. You know very well we know what we're doing." He stared the demon down. She shook her head. "I should."
"If you do, it declares war."
Xander nodded. "I can like that feeling. After all, they started it by changing me into this."
She swallowed. "I cannot fix it."
"Not. My. Issue," Xander said simply, cocking the gun. She stepped back. "Pity." She disappeared. "Oh, come back," he called quietly. "I'll play as nicely as you guys do." No answer. "If you don't then you've officially given up on Dean." A hellhound appeared. Xander made a clicking noise, holding out his free hand. "Good morning, dog." It tipped its head to the side. He smiled. "No, he's not the soul she wants." The dog sniffed Dean then growled. It didn't move any closer though. It tipped its head to look at him again. Xander screwed on a silencer. Lilith came back.
"Him, he is mine."
The dog looked at her then at Dean, growling again.
Lilith let out a scream as the bullet went into her upper stomach but it went outside of human hearing fairly quickly. "Pity, I didn't hit on target. I need more work," Xander said blandly. He shot her again, watching as she burned up. He looked at the dog, letting it carefully sniff him. "You don't want to come here again unless there's an apocalypse. Or else the demons who did this to us will hunt you down too." It yipped quietly, staring at him. Xander smiled, petting it. "I'll let you help me hunt them when I'm older, pup. Such a good pup." It groaned, tipping its head so Xander could do his ears. "Such a good puppy. We love you." The puppy lapped him then Dean before disappearing.
Xander ejected the clip, then put the gun down, looking at Dean. "I can't stand them. I really can't stand them." He looked at the other boy. "So. How's it feel?"
"Scary, Xander." He moved closer. "Can you please calm down?"
"I'm going to get them."
Dean stood in front of Xander. "If you keep this inside, you're going to explode," he said calmly. He made Xander look at him. "You have to let it go, Xander. Come back to it later. Let the initial pain go."
Xander shook his head. "I can't."
"You can, dude. I can, you can." He stared into the brown eye. "When was the last time you let it out?" he asked.
Xander shrugged. "It's been a while. I manage."
"It's eating you, Xander," Dawn said. He glared at her. She stared back. "Do not give me that look."
He slumped. "I'm trying, okay?"
"No, it's not. You're not managing it and it's going to kill you," Dawn said. "People die of this, Xander. We want you to stay alive." She heard a car pulling in and sighed. "Let me get Tim up." She went to do that. "Tim, someone just pulled in." He went to handle it. She caught John in the kitchen. "Don't." She walked out there, putting the gun into her bag. The clip too. She wiped off his hand when the lights came on out back. She stared at him. He shrugged. "Problems?" she asked the officer coming with Tim.
"Someone heard a short scream," Tim noted.
"Xander's still holding in some pain," she told him. "It was him letting some out." The officer looked at the boy, who glared at him. "We're trying to get him over why he was given to Speed to raise."
The officer looked at the kid then stared at Speed. "Have you had many problems?"
"We've been working on it," he said calmly. "It's been a long climb. Right now, we're staging an intervention after another nightmare. He came out here to dump some more of it."
The officer nodded. "The neighbor reported a woman?" Dawn waved a hand. "Beyond you, ma'am. Said she was lit on fire."
"Wouldn't there be evidence of that?" Dean asked.
The cop looked at him. "Most kids your size don't speak that well, kid."
Dean smirked. "I'm super smart."
"Uh-huh." He looked at Xander again. "Why are you so mad?"
"Being sent away from my life," he said dryly.
The cop backed off. "This isn't normal."
Speed snorted, holding up his old ID. "Really?" The cop stared at him, nearly crying. "The strange stuff that happened earlier is related to why he's so angry and why I'm back. Horatio knows. We're working on it but something wanted the boys; they handled it while I was in bed."
The officer shuddered. "Do I want to know?"
"No. Xander was venting."
"That works for me. Because cops who died a few years ago I can't handle." He walked off to talk to his boss. His boss looked up when he walked in. He closed the door. "Detective Speedle's sons are wonderfully smart for being around 2 and 5, sir. They're well spoken. Angry. Smartasses."
"Hold on. Detective *Speedle*?"
"Yes, sir. Saw his ID. I remember working with him. It was him. From the lab, that died a bit ago. And the boys aren't normal either."
The boss looked at him. "Okay. And?"
"The scream was one of the boys venting. He's got severe anger issues. His eyes said he was going to kill someone. He looks like he's about 2 but he spoke just as well as the five- year-old boy and the young lady who was probably about eighteen or so."
The captain licked his lips. "Did they tell you what was going on?"
"The boys relate to why he was brought back to watch the boys." Someone knocked and he groaned at who walked in. "I didn't break any laws!" he complained.
Rick Stetler looked at him. "No, you didn't. You had a call at Speedle's house?"
"Didn't he die?" the captain asked.
Rick nodded. "He did."
"Then how.... Twin?" he asked hopefully.
"No. Or his younger brother." He looked at the officer. "Sometimes beings interfere with the lives of others. Something higher and malevolent interfered with the boys' lives. They were in their twenties before this." Both cops shuddered. "When that happened, someone brought back Speedle to watch over the boys. It was a wish," he said dryly. "There are things that granted it because this issue screwed them up and those boys used to hunt those issues. Those boys hold it in them to screw them back. They also hold the anger to do it to them."
The cop shuddered. "What are they doing about it?"
"Helping the boys. They need it. We need them to be safe. That's one of the reasons they have that house guest of the other guy. He's there to help protect them." He looked at both officers. "Earlier they handled something that was going after the boys."
"Why come back down here?" the captain asked.
"Because they have the support down here," Stetler said. "The Delkos. The lab. The others around them. The boys run from fussing." He looked at the officer. "It was whatever lame cover story they cooked up."
"It was the boy venting some of the anger that scared the crap out of me."
"You try going from your age to three," Stetler said dryly.
The officer shuddered. "I can't even imagine."
"Which is why we're leaving them alone about all that. Including the guns they're hoarding in the old garage."
The captain gave him an odd look. "Speedle with a gun?"
"No, the boys and the guest with guns. They all used them and they all take care of them. Speedle's the mom." The cops shuddered. "At least he can cook." He looked at them. "Just leave Speedle alone unless they call in something."
"That one boy with the patch getting is help?"
"They're trying. It's only been a few months."
"They make drugs for that."
"It won't help the boy. He won't act out except for those that created the problem. And split him into twins." The cops shuddered again. "So let's leave them alone?"
"Hey, if you won't bust me for it, I'll gladly write the report about that boy venting."
"Go ahead. Call me if it comes up again." They nodded, and he left, going to find Caine. "They had to make a demon scream," he said as he walked into the office. "The officer is agreeing to leave it as they were making the one with the eyepatch vent, finally."
Horatio looked at him. "Are they all right?"
"They're fine but the officers are scared of the anger the boy shows. Not that I don't understand the source and the depth."
Horatio nodded. "Tim and I have talked. I'm going to be taking some time with Xander to help him myself. We think we can help him let it go for a bit."
Stetler looked at him. "He scared the cop who answered."
"We're working on it, Rick."
"Good. Just a head's up." He left, going to make notes in his personal files. No one needed to know about this outside the few who *had* to know. He could even work with his enemy as long as Horatio kept the boys from destroying Miami or the world.
Horatio got his jacket and headed out to Speed's house. He walked in and saw Dean in the living room with John. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be? I mean, they just canceled the contract that would've sent me to hell, dude."
Horatio nodded. "Is Xander all right?"
"That's more iffy," he admitted. "He's in his room."
Horatio nodded, going that way. He tapped before walking in, sitting on the foot of the bed the boys were sharing. "Xander, would you like to talk to me?"
"Not really," 2 said.
Horatio looked at him. "The other one." He stroked his hair down, letting him duck away from his hand. "I think you need to talk to someone but I think your other half has a greater need because he's been holding in pain for years." 1 looked at him. "Haven't you?" he asked calmly. He shrugged. "It's not good and it's not healthy. It worries others."
Horatio sighed and took off his jacket, then rolled up his left sleeve, letting him see the scars on his arm. He stared at them then at both boys. They slumped, shaking their heads. "It's not like I won't understand, boys. After all, I was bomb squad for a reason," he said quietly. "I haven't seen my family for years since I shot one to try to save the other." Both boys stared at him. "I do understand the anger underneath the anger from this incident. It can only help you to get rid of some of that so you can work out some of the new anger. Because if you don't, there's a real fear that some day you'll snap on one of the family here or someone innocent. Eric's heard rumors that they're taking bets about which one of you it'll be." He looked at them. "It's not a sign of weakness, boys. It never was. Everyone needs a way to get things out of their soul. Some have religion, some have friends. Some meditate to work through it."
"I've been doing that."
"Then perhaps it's time to try another method in addition to what you're doing." He shifted, looking at them more straight. "You can talk to us. I may not have hunted, but I have had to shoot people in the line of duty. I have had to shoot a good number of times." The boys sat up, looking at him. He stared back. "We can listen. Me especially."
The boys looked at him. "It'll look bad," 2 said quietly.
"Not to me," Horatio assured him. "More than anyone I would be one who would understand."
They leaned against each other's head. Then they nodded. "We can try."
"Letting it out to me means that maybe the meditation will work," Horatio said. "It eases it a bit."
They nodded. "We can do that. Want some cocoa? Joyce always talked to us with cocoa."
"Sure," he agreed. "Should I go make some?" They shrugged and went to make cocoa with him. Then they took them outside to sit on the swingset and talk to him. Horatio wouldn't make it to work in the morning but the boys were more important. Afterward they went to clean guns and meditate that way. Well, 2 sharpened blades instead. He didn't like guns as much as his other half. By dinner that night they were better able to handle the anger.
Dean looked at them. "Leave me any to do this week?"
Xander 1 shook his head. "Sorry."
"Not a problem if it helps," Dean told him. Xander 2 looked at him. He stared back. They shrugged but nodded slightly. "Then we're good, guys. Remember, others of us have the same sort of problems." He glared at Sam for poking him. "Yes, Sammy?" Sam grinned at him "What? You really need to be able to talk, Sammy."
2 came over to hug him. "We're better," he promised.
Tim hugged them both. "Good. I'm happy you guys helped that some." He looked at them. "Remember, you can talk to me too." They nodded. "Good boys. The subject is closed unless you need it to reopen. We don't nag around here." He put them into their seats, then handed them plates.
"Vegetables?" Dean whined.
"Yes, vegetables and they're deep fried," Tim said dryly. "Eat them. They even have cheese under the breading." Dean groaned but nibbled, looking at one in disgust. "Eat."
John walked in. "Eat it anyway, even if it is goat cheese."
"It is not," Speed noted patiently. "It's a soft cow's cheese from Italy. The same sort that you put in desserts. Eat more." Dean grimaced but did it anyway. Tim put down salsa con queso for him to dip it into, making him happier. The boys dug into it. Sam looked then at him. He whispered what it was in his ear, getting a grin. Sam dug into it with help once it was cut up for him.
"This is California food, right?" Dean asked.
"It's fussy people food," Xander 2 told him.
John sat down to eat his own, looking at the cheese. "You put that in desserts?"
"Yeah. I make a kick ass dish with that, honey, some nuts, some phyllo dough. It's wonderful and it's for dessert." Dean finished his and got the meat dish he had prepared. It was more 'Dean' food so he was happier. Xander was happy with any food. Sam liked it too. John smiled at the more normal food. When they got done, Tim unveiled dessert with ice cream. Sam squealed in pleasure. He nearly dove face first into the food. 2 moved to help him eat it while he moaned through his own. Tim smiled. "Knew I could cook."
Dean looked at him. "Make this more often and teach me to make it when I can date, and I'll bow at your feet, dude."
"It's not that hard. We can give all you guys cooking lessons." They all grinned at that. "That way you can date better than Eric does. By the way, you're seeing Eric and Mama tomorrow so lock the armory tonight."
They nodded. Mama Delko got huffy over the armory sometimes. John gave him an odd look. "Eric's mother, Mama Delko. She likes to fuss over the boys. She wants more grandsons. Eric's one of my best friends. His mother's tried to mother me for years. She comes to fuss over the boys and lets her other grandkids play with them. Just like last time only she'll be staying with the kids this time."
John shuddered. "She's going to be as bad at fussing as Alexx is?"
"Worse," Dean admitted. He ate another bite of his dessert. "Is that why you made the fancy dessert?"
"No, I needed to use the dough before it went bad." He smirked. "I'm making stuff for tomorrow to bribe you guys then."
"That'll work," 2 said. He finished his and concentrated on feeding Sam. John took the spoon and did it for him. "I can," he pouted.
"He's my son. I fed him many times, Xander."
"You can help him wash off all the stuff he drooled," Dean offered. 2 beamed. 1 smiled at his other half. "Are we here or there?"
"Here. Where is Dawn?"
Xander pointed out back. "She was talking to Willow. They had a screaming match about their magics. Willow's heading back to Devon and Dawn's making sure she's not going over the edge. I know she's not but it's important that she learns to trust her senses."
"That's something we should all learn," John agreed. He got up to look out the door. "Dawn, dinner."
"Coming." She came in. "You guys could've called."
"You were thinking," Speed offered, nodding behind him. She got her own dinner and sat down to eat. "You okay?"
"Willow said I'm following too closely in her footsteps."
"Really? I don't remember you playing 'what does this spell do' and turning people into pets," Xander 1 said dryly. "Or making things float, doing some mind magic that ended up mind-raping your girlfriend and the rest of us by accident." He snorted. "No contest, Dawn. You've been taught control from day one because I said so. That's why Willow didn't teach you."
She looked at him. "I wondered about that."
"I had a talk with her about 'do you really want her to end up doing the same will spell you did' one night when she was trying to teach you. She agreed someone more formal should. That's why you've been taught formal methods like Tara was. Because she didn't screw up the same way."
She smiled. "I do miss Tara."
"Hell, I miss Tara. She'd have fit in real well down here to play mom. Instead of Tim, who Eric said is the mom because he cooks."
Speed snorted. "I'll put him in a skirt later," he muttered.
"Dad does dad things. You do some of the mom things but Dawn does others," Dean offered. "I guess it's how it breaks down in two gay-dads households." He stuffed his mouth at John's dirty look.
"Probably," Tim agreed. He looked at her. "Are you going to branch out to learn with other approaches?"
"I'm thinking about that. I'm good at the formal, ritual magic. I've had to learn some on- the-fly protective magics. I need to learn more about protective magics and I should learn what other styles can do. It'll make me well-rounded in case I need it some day to protect someone."
"There's a few styles here, but most are native or blood magic based," Speed offered.
"Which I know nothing about," Dawn told him. "Willow didn't practice that. The occasional foray into chaos magic or nature magic. Usually she used blended nature magic." John gave her an odd look. "It worked in Sunnydale."
"I guess but that's dangerous. The more firm of a framework and more support you have behind your studies, the less chance you have of casually strolling across into black magic."
"Now, see, she tempted there. When she went bad," she admitted. "So I looked over the books to know what it was. The bad things, the selfish magic, that stuff."
"The sacrificing, the memory spells," Xander agreed. "That's how we brought back Buffy the last time."
She nodded. "I heard."
He shrugged. "She talked me into it, Dawn."
"I know. Things were going to hell." John gaped at them. "Sometimes things have to happen to save everyone. Like you had to make a contract with the demon that killed your wife to save Dean. She had to sacrifice a deer to bring back my sister from the dead."
"That's still wrong."
"Wrong and black magic versus saving hundreds of lives," Dawn told him. "Where's the line there, John? We dealt with saving lives, even if it killed us." Both Xanders nodded. "That's why we had nightly patrols around town. That's why we've lost three slayers since the calling."
"That's the slayer training method," Xander 1 agreed. "A hallmark of the old system. Since the watchers thought the girls were expendable they taught them. We learned it from Giles when he taught it to Buffy. I learned it because it was all I had to go on. We kept more people from dying by going out to stake the vampires that were hunting, and handling the yearly or bi-yearly apocalypses."
"Something bad every four months or so then something bigger and badder once a year in the spring; sometimes someone causing something in the fall," Dawn agreed. "Usually around Halloween."
"Not always," Xander told her. "Spring apocalypses were demon caused. Fall ones were caused by people." He took his last bite then scraped his bowl to get the last of the ice cream sauce. "Though I did not like the Chumash giving me smallpox and syphilis. I didn't feel all that good."
"I'm sure," Speed agreed.
John was staring with his mouth slightly open. "Most hunters handle something and move on to let people get back to their lives."
"Sunnydale had a denial problem that not even NA could cure," Xander 2 told him. "Even addicts can't deny that strongly. After graduation when half the town saw the mayor turn into a giant snake demon, they convinced themselves it was a gas leak within a day and a half."
Dean whimpered. "Giant snake demon?" he asked weakly.
"Ninety feet. He went for the largest form he could become as a pure demon."
Dean shuddered. "God!"
"That was our graduation ceremony," Xander told him. "I led the assault to give the spectators to get out of there and away from the extra vamps he had brought in to help him. Buffy lured the demon into the school and we blew it up to kill him."
"Every kid dreams of watching their school explode," Dawn quipped.
"Yeah and it was pretty," Xander 2 agreed with a grin. "Especially when the principal got eaten." He looked outside. "Someone's out there."
Dawn went to look, smiling at her. "He was telling us about a movie he saw earlier."
"Oh, that's good, dear. We realized we hadn't welcomed the family to the neighborhood."
"Tim's in here with us." She let her inside. "Tim, one of the neighbors."
"Hey," he said, grinning at her. "Tim Speedle." He shook her hand. "Which neighbor are you?" She pointed. "We've heard your kids playing a few times. Sit, please. Want some coffee?"
"No, dear. I'm sure you need to talk to the boys about appropriate shows to watch. I was wondering if your boys did play dates?"
"Now and then they hate to be around other kids. People fuss over Sam." He patted Sam on the back. "The other boys pout at them so they like to guard him. Mostly we go play with one of my former coworkers' nieces and nephews because they need to calm down."
"Some children are so hyper but thankfully they make drugs for that."
"Yes, but they leave most kids cloudy headed and feeling miserable," Xander 1 told her. She stared at him. "I've seen a few that looked like zombies."
"That's just too high of a dose, dear."
"Sure, I get that." He looked at Tim. "Are we going to wear them out tomorrow morning or afternoon, Tim?"
"That's cool." They smiled.
He grinned at her. "It helps to wear them out and gives them someone new to pick on when I bring the boys over. Her grandkids are horrible about it."
"That does happen sometimes. What do you do, Tim?"
"I'm formerly an officer. Before I hit a small lottery jackpot and retired to raise the boys."
"That's interesting. Now we know who to call if something happens." He wrote down a number. "That's who?"
"The local precinct. When I gave up my badge, I'm no longer allowed to arrest but they're fairly speedy."
"That's good to know." She patted Xander 2 on the head. "They're charming looking boys."
"Only when they want to be," he said dryly.
She giggled. "All boys are like that I suppose. Well, it was nice to meet you. We're holding the summerly yard sales in about a month if you wanted to join in. A few of us do sell our old clothes."
"I usually take the good stuff to a few thrift shops. That way others can get them if they need them," he admitted.
"That's even better. If not, it'll be the second Sunday in June."
"We can walk around and look," he promised. "Now, a bake sale I might be able to help with, depending on if the boys are behaving."
"He makes great cookies," Dean agreed with a grin.
She cooed. "That's wonderful! I'll let the girls who handle that know." She patted 2 on the head again. "I'll let you do after dinner things. It must be near their bedtime. It was nice meeting all you." She left, heading to tell the neighbors about the nice family. They were adorable!
Tim smiled at the boys. "Thank you," he said quietly.
"Not a problem," Dean agreed. "Nosy neighbors happen. I expected it sooner."
"They were watching us to make sure we're not all psycho," Xander 1 said.
"That happens," Dean agreed.
John shook his head. "They probably think we're gay."
Tim shrugged. "It's Miami, John. A good fifth of the city is gay."
"Not my style."
"I'm more picky about personality. Beyond that, you're not my type. I go for intellectual and geeky. Hot for women but geeky otherwise."
Xander grinned at him. "When I'm bigger...."
Speed laughed. "Not a chance, Xander." They grinned at him. "Bath time if you're done so I can start the dishwasher." Dawn finished up and got dessert, eating it with a moan. He grinned. "You're welcome."
She gave him a hug. "I'm so picking your brain about food stuff." She went back to eating while helping him clear the table. 2 took Sam to the bathroom to bathe with him while John watched. She pointed. He nodded, rolling his eyes.
"Yes, he's paranoid Xander won't be able to save him," Dean said.
"He got off his 'he could be touching him' thing," Xander 1 said. Dean nodded quickly. "You want next or last?"
"I'll take next so you can take a longer one."
"We definitely need to add another bathroom since mine's so tiny," Speed said.
"You keep going and the whole house is going to be redone," Xander teased. "If you get a huge tub you'll never get to use it. We'll steal it on you."
"I can use it after you boys go to bed."
"True," John admitted when he came out. "They want bubbles?"
"Under the sink," Dean told him. "Smells like bananas."
John walked off shaking his head. That was not a guy thing but they were kids. They could give it up at a later date when they were older he guessed.
Dean and Tim shared a smirk. John would get used to boys who liked their baths soon enough.
Dawn finished her dinner and put the dishes in the dishwasher, turning it on once she had soap in there.
"Why won't it make bubbles?" he called.
"You have to add water to make bubbles," Dawn said. She leaned in. "Guys, handle it?" They nodded, trying to slink down. "Not like I don't know about guys' bodies, kids. You and Xander are like a brother anyway." She walked off. Tim and Dean were shaking their heads again. "They were being modest." She hugged 1 and went back out back. "Need me to help some more?"
"We're good," Tim promised. She skipped off to go back to her big think. "I know, we're guys and she doesn't understand why we're shy at odd times." 1 shook his head. "Was she ever shy?"
"When she was younger."
"Uh-huh." He went to check on the other two. "Did we get bubbles?"
"Way too many," John said. "They nearly drowned Sammy."
"Bubbles are air, not water. You can't drown from bubbles," 2 said impatiently. "You put too much in."
"Whatever," John said.
2 got Sam clean then they played once his own hair was clean. The rest would get clean from the splashing. "Can we inflate the kiddie pool tomorrow, Tim?"
"Sure, we can do that." He went to make sure he could inflate it easily then that they had a hose. He walked back in. "Someone has to get a hose before they get here."
"Do we need a special connector?" John called.
"I'm not sure the spigot works so get one for the kitchen sink in case," Tim called.
"Sure." He shook his head. Most guys he knew who had a home, and some that had an apartment, had a hose of some kind. If only to wash their cars.
Tim ran outside at a familiar roar. "Baby," he cooed, hugging his bike once Horatio got out of the way. "I missed you. You're back and safe from the stupid people who can't drive you properly."
Dean leaned out, smiling. "Sammy will tease you about wanting to cuddle it." Tim glared at him. "He does me and the Impala."
"At least you understand." He hugged Horatio. "How much do I owe?"
"Only six hundred." Tim wrote out the check and came out to ride his bike into the garage. Horatio looked at him. "Go for a ride, I can watch the boys if John can't." Speed beamed, pulling it back out to go for a zip around Miami. "Be safe!" he yelled after him. "You crash and Alexx is going to kill us all," he said more quietly.
"He'll be fine," Dean promised. "Guys like us know our rides inside and out, every shimmy, every twitch, all of it." He leaned into the bathroom. "Horatio got Tim his motorcycle back."
"You can't go for a ride until you're older," John said automatically.
"Dad, shut up," Dean said dryly. "It's a racing bike and it's as special to him as the Impala is to me." He walked off shaking his head. "Horatio's here to watch us," Dean told 1.
"I heard." He grinned. "Tim'll come back blissed out like he had a great date." He went back to reading his comic.
Dean walked out back to let Dawn know, getting sucked into a hug. "Let go!" he whined.
"All boys need hugs and I need one today, Dean. Hush."
"Whatever, just let go!" She sighed, letting him go. "Go hug Xander!" He went to hide from her before she hugged him again.
Xander took his comic out there, letting her hug him all she wanted. The girls had made him hug many, many times. He was almost used to them. Even though they weren't the guy way.
John came out an hour later. "Dawn, it's time for his bath. You done with him?"
"Can I have Sam?"
"He's in bed, so is the other one."
"Damn." She let him go with a kiss on the head. "There you go. Go bathe."
He looked at her. "You have talent and sense. We know you're not."
"I have to find my own limits."
"You stop when it gives you a headache." He gave her a look. She smiled back. "Now go to bed." She went to do that. He went to shower.
John went to talk to her. "You know where your limits are, Dawn. It's where your conscience stops you."
She looked at him. "I grew up in Sunnydale, John. All I knew was the hunting the others did. I still have that expedience switch. I have a great fear that some day I'll flip it again to do what's necessary, even if it's not perfectly right."
"That's called war," he pointed out.
"Which was all I knew since I was created."
He nodded. "I can see that. Do you do it usually, everyday sort of magic?"
"No. I don't do magic every day. I don't use it to change my hair and clothes like Willow did when she was getting addicted. I don't use it except for big things, which is how I think it should be, but what happens when I need to do something to save people and it ends up hurting others?"
"That's war," Horatio agreed, walking into the living room around John. "I would hope you'd give us some warning so we could clear anyone who might be hurt?"
"If I could."
"Then you can only do whatever is ethical and right in that situation. Even if it's not the most right thing, every situation of the kind you're worried about has to be judged individually. The same as running into a house to arrest a suspect is never the exact same situation."
She stared at him. "Thank you. Willow told me I'm on the same road she is."
"You're not using it for every little thing or to hurt others to keep your ways secret," Xander 2 called from his room. "Quit worrying about it, Dawn!"
"Yes, Xander." She smiled. "He's good."
"He is," John agreed. "Do you think you've found your footing?"
"I do." She smiled at Horatio. "What sort of practioners can you find down here?"
"I only know about those who have neo-pagan groups and the ones that practice Santeria and other native religions. People like that usually try to stay out of our view because they fear prejudice."
"Good point. Know of any good herb or pagan shops?"
"There is one down by the ocean. Tim knows it, he had to work a case there."
"That's cool. Thank you." She gave them both hugs. "Now shoo so I can sleep too." They smiled and went back to the kitchen to wait on Tim.
"He's probably off getting a speeding ticket," Horatio said after a cup of coffee.
John shook his head. "I understand the bond, but that's too intense for my tastes."
"I've got it. Go to bed, John." He nodded, heading for his room. Horatio stayed up to listen to the children sleep. Speed came back at midnight happy, glowing, and beaming. "Have a good few tickets?"
"No tickets. The one that tried recognized me and had a small freakout." He beamed. "Thanks, man."
"Welcome. Be careful on your deathtrap?"
"Of course I was."
"Good." He clapped him on the arm. "Have fun with the children."
"We're inflating the pool."
"I'll warn Eric in the morning so he can warn his mother." He left for home, going to relax and smile at the happiness he had given back. Speed looked so content. He texted Eric's phone so he'd get it when he woke up. Whenever that would be. Because the kids would drive them nuts with the pool.
John watched from the kitchen as the kids shrieked and chased each other around. He looked at his boys. "You're not like that," he said calmly.
Dean smirked. "Usually. We did have our heathen moments." He leaned out. "Do we want tea, water, lemonade, or what to drink later on?" he yelled.
"Tea!" 2 yelled. "Please?"
"Sure." He went to climb up and make some but John put him back down and made it for him. "Thanks, Dad." He went out to get some sun.
Tim came out of the study, watching him make tea. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Earplugs are where?"
"Bathroom, in the medicine cabinet." He grinned, going to take the bubble bath out there, pouring some into the pool. He topped off the water. The kids splashed to make more bubbles. Tim had to save Sam from being knocked down and drowned. He looked at him. "You good?"
Sam nodded. He pointed. Xander 2 stole him and they went to play on the regular swings instead. "We'll be safe."
"I know you will." Tim let the kids continue to shriek and play until the cops got there. They walked around the back. He pointed. The cops groaned, shaking their heads. "They belong to CSI Delko's family."
"He's usually not that loud, sir. Can you maybe keep the shrieking down?" One of the Delkos ran over to cover him in bubbles. He winced. "Must you?" he asked the child. "You should respect the uniform since one of your cousins wears one."
"It's the same uniform your Uncle Eric wears, kid."
She beamed and got more bubbles, holding them up. "You need bubbles to be happy."
He patted her on the head. "I'll tell your uncle you said that." She beamed and went to jump back in. He looked at Tim. Then he stared, mouth slightly open. He finally shook his head. "Okay. I'm sure Caine knows?"
"Yeah. ME Woods too."
"Good. I don't have to be the bearer of bad news." He heard a car and looked around the front. "Minivan? Cute woman?"
"Maria, most of them's mother or aunt."
"Maria's here," Speed yelled. The kids kicked up a louder set of squeals. Even he had to wince at that. Even with the earplugs.
Maria came out of the house. "You're soaking wet," she complained. "Go dry off!" They ran to do that. She kissed Tim on the cheek. "I'm sorry if they were too loud, Officer."
"They're kids. Next time, try to keep them a bit quieter. One of your neighbors works nights."
"We're usually pretty quiet," Tim promised.
"It's the horde that's loud," 2 agreed from the swing.
Maria nodded. "We are a loud clan. I'm sorry."
"Just don't let it happen again, ma'am." He walked off wiping at the bubbles. He got into his car, heading off to the crime scene Dispatch said Delko was at. He walked over to him. "Sir?"
Eric looked at him, then at the bubbles. "My nieces and nephews?"
"Shrieking so loud you could hear them up the street. I did tell one she should respect the uniform you wore too, but she said we needed bubbles to be happy."
Eric smiled. "About five?" The cop nodded. "They've been worse. Are they in trouble?"
"Try to keep them down?"
"We do try."
"Thank you, sir."
"Just think, that was only four of the seven," Frank joked. "The others were in school."
The cop stared at Eric. "Don't live at home?"
"No, my mother fusses too much."
"Ah. Well, just a warning. They had a kiddie pool with bubbles."
Eric nodded. "The ones around Mama are used to kids being loud."
"That's fine. Just try in that one. He has a neighbor who works night." He left to go back to the station so he could take something for his headache. His boss gave the wet uniform a look. "Speedle had over four of the seven nieces and nephews CSI Delko has. One decided I needed bubbles to be happier, sir."
"Uh-huh. Go change."
"Thank you. Let me find the advil first, sir. Kiddie pool with bubbles." That got a nod. "I heard them up the block. He'll talk to their parents." He went to change his uniform and take something.
His boss shook his head. Delko was a bit loud. It figured his nieces and nephews were just as loud together.
John looked at Tim that night. "My boys will *never* be that loud."
Tim smiled. "The whole family is loud. Eric's probably the quieter kid of all of them. I'm sure the officer went to tell Eric." John gave him an odd look. "He did. Went to tell him about the bubbles."
"I'm sure he stopped for something for the headache too. I did, twice."
Speed smirked. "Why do you think I was in the study, John."
John scowled. "That's mean."
"Thank you. I did it to H once." He beamed.
"Aren't you supposed to be angelic or something?" John asked.
"No, I'm the same smartass, sarcastic bastard I was the last time," he said happily. "With my bike again."
Dean came out to look at him. "I'll let you ride in my car if I can ride on your bike."
"I think we can arrange that," Tim said. Dean grinned. "Bed."
"I know. Sammy's having a snuffly dream again and it's annoying. He used to have them and then bite me during it." John laughed, nodding that he remembered them.
"Then sleep in the other bed, Dean," Speed said.
"It's the kiddie bed."
"I'll put Sam back in his own bed for you," John promised, going to do that. His son bit him when he moved him. "It's just me, Sammy. Quit biting." He tucked him in and then Dean, smiling at him. "Hard to believe but I missed doing this the last time."
"This time you can't train us to hunt, so you can do all that stuff you missed before."
"I can, can't I." He walked out smiling, going to his room to think.
Speed got up to make the batter for breakfast the next morning then went to bed once it was resting in the fridge. He unplugged the microwave in case Dean or one of the Xander's got up earlier than him so they couldn't eat anything but real food. Even he had to complain about their diets sometimes. That's when he realized he was acting like a real father and it was scary, but okay. They'd get through it. He could be a good stepdaddy to the horde of hunters and Dawn. It was better than being dead any day. And hey, he had fifteen years to convince Xander that plaid was not fashionable and neither were loud prints. To convince Dean that there was more to life than a shotgun, loose women, his car, and his brother. To give John the chance to be a father like his own had been. And maybe they'd all start a new life that'd make them see new parts of the world. Though, that diaper thing had to go because Sammy's butt stunk. Again. "Eww," he muttered, going to change him.
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