Xander drove up to the gate, looking at the keypad. The swipe card didn't work when he tried it. "Loose wire probably." The keypad did and the gate opened. He carefully drove the truck through the gate, minding the map Caleb had given him. He didn't want to drive over the old mines on the lawn. He pulled around to the side storage area, getting out to unpack the truck. After he made himself some coffee and called Bobby's place. "Hey, it's me." He looked at his GPS readout on his watch and read it to him. "I'm there. We evacuated Sunnydale," he admitted. He listened. "I'm moving my stuff in here. Caleb found it for me. Traded me for some stuff for it. Because it's too dangerous to have Izzy there, Bobby. Please. If you want to bring her instead of having me pick her up sure. Thanks, I'll be here. It'll take me a few hours to move her nursery and our stuff upstairs. Yeah, it's a compound," he said with a grin. "The keypad works but the slide card thing doesn't. I'll be here; buzz when you get here." He hung up and went back to moving and hiding his weapons. Then he could do the nursery and stuff. He could take the truck back tomorrow.
John's truck and Bobby's car pulled up to the reinforced wooden gateway. John put in the passcode Caleb had given him but it didn't work so he buzzed the gate. No answer. He did it again. A few minutes later a breathless voice hit the speaker. "What's up?" Xander asked.
"We're here," John said. "Keypad's broken."
"Crap." The gate opened and they drove in. Then it closed behind them. Xander met them at the door so he could grab his daughter to hug. "I missed you. Were you good for Grandpa and Uncle Bobby?" He sat down on the front stairs to hold her. Even though she protested. "I'm sorry I had to leave you with them."
John gave them fond looks but Bobby got out shaking his head. "Ease up on the pressure, she's still smooshable, boy."
"Sorry." He looked at his girl, getting a grin back. "You didn't forget me. Daddy's so happy." He kissed her on the head. "From your Auntie Faith."
"What happened?" Bobby asked.
Xander gave her another hug. "Inside. I thought I saw a listening device on a tree earlier."
"Caleb said the last owner was picked up by the FBI," John agreed. They went inside and Xander settled into his usual recliner to hold his girl. "She was good. She cooed and charmed some customers for Bobby. She was good for us and the last of the messy diapers from the flu was quickly gotten over with."
"That's so cool. Now if only your uncle and daddy hadn't run away after giving you the flu." She cooed and stroked his cheek. "I know, I need a shave." She grinned because he was. "I missed you." He kissed her on the nose then looked at them. "Basically, the cult decided to take over the town and tear down the unholiness to make way for her magnificence while the new mayor took advantage of that to ambush Buffy so she could be turned." John shuddered. "She's still complaining that one of the girls who was all stake happy should be an eternal slayer, not her since she didn't want it."
"How?" Bobby asked.
"The new mayor had her tranqed and tied up then dropped her into a nest." They groaned. "She didn't even realize when she woke up. I had to tell her. Then I had to call Wes to warn him I had Spike bringing her to Angel and then I got to tell Faith before I left town." He gave her a squeeze, getting a cuddle back. She did love him. "I had Willow sedate the town so we'd have enough time to change over to Riley's team. There's no way they wouldn't come after us with her gone. I heard them saying so at Willie's when we went to get a sit rep. They're military and can pay for their former misdeeds by handling it until they can get Faith out of jail." He swallowed. "Buffy nearly lunged at Dawn when they got to Angel's."
John nodded. "It was the most reasonable solution. So why here?"
"I needed somewhere safe for Izzy. With the ones who want her because of Sam, the ones who now want to make me ache, and the last few kooks of her cult, I wanted somewhere safe." He grinned slightly. "I used that two days to do a bit of ...cleaning around Sunnydale. Caleb said a few things were too evil for him but he took them to hand over subtly. Apparently he knows someone in the government who knows about hunting."
"There's an ATF agent who does," Bobby agreed. "He hates that he knows but somehow he wandered into it once."
"So it'll go to someone who knows and knows how and why it was found," Xander decided. "The rest is hidden but we have to be careful of the mines on the lawn until I can check them out. We have a map."
John pulled out his phone and texted that to his boys. "For when they show up." He grinned. "You'll have to do that before she's walking."
"I know. There's none near the front of the house so it'll be safe until I can get to it." They nodded at that. "Plus, the property taxes are really cheap here. So this is my first owned home."
John nodded. "They would be." He looked at Bobby. Then back at the boy. "Her room?"
"Could use painted after I strip the paneling. The last guy *really* liked faux wood paneling. But it'll give me something to do for a while."
"There's going to be snow soon," Bobby offered. "You'll need a better car."
"It happens. I got him to give me some extra on a few other things." He grinned sweetly. "Apparently a few of the ones in Florida needed it for some sea monster."
John shuddered. "Heard about that. It is nasty."
"Hey, it's not my former swim team," Xander said dryly. They stared at him. He grinned and went to show his daughter her room. "Don't you worry, we'll make sure you don't turn into a fishy monster and then we'll make sure your room looks more girly, princess." She blinked at him then stole her bear with a grin. "Yeah, that's your Tara bear. She'll see you soon. She'll find some way to sneak in and cuddle you again." He kissed her on the head, putting her into her crib. She pouted. "Don't want a nap?" She made begging noises, holding up a hand. "Okay, but you can't get down until after I clean the rug. It's nasty." He took her back out there. "She found her Tara-given bear."
"That's a good gift for her," John agreed. "Carpet could use cleaned."
"I know. I only got here yesterday." He sat her on the couch, settling beside her. "Better?" She gummed her bear's paw but cuddled him. "Okay, we'll keep cuddling."
"Take a nap," Bobby said. "Anything left to unpack?"
"Food. I got her a lot of food since she can eat now." He laid down with her on his stomach, letting her cuddle her bear and him again. It made her grin and be a happy baby. He loved her being happy and he was exhausted. He had spent the last few days running on adrenaline.
They went to nose around. The food did get unpacked and sorted. The bedrooms got looked at. There were spares there for the boys and at least one other person. The basement was concrete but had carpet down so it could be finished easily enough. The storage areas were on the side of the house. The closest had weapons. The farther one had bigger weapons. "Clearly Caleb didn't take all of them," Bobby said dryly, opening a case to look. "Full of stakes."
John opened the next one and hissed, shutting and locking it again. "Not that one." Bobby groaned. "I wonder if they need more for that sea monster."
Bobby smirked. "He won't get into trouble. He can say it's the last guy's stuff. Like the mines are."
John snorted. "There's no agents that nice these days, Bobby. That's why they got Kyle."
"Some do know."
"Yay." They went to look around the porch. They could spot a few starts to safe paths but otherwise they weren't going to try the lawn without the map. Bobby found it in Xander's car and went to look. The agents had gotten in last time by blowing a safe path for themselves. That was more easily found. "Think he'll remine it?" John asked.
"Boy's paranoid for a good reason," Bobby pointed out.
"True. How long do you think my sons will take?"
"They're in Ohio."
"I made it from Missouri in about a day to your place."
"Dean drives faster," Bobby agreed. "Think Angel's going nuts with her newly turned and there to be trained?"
"Possibly. Especially if Spike stayed." That got a smirk back. "He always seemed to like to annoy others on the show," he said with a small shrug. "I remember seeing a swim team episode."
"Black Lagoon monsters."
"Eww." John paused. "That means he's got some." Bobby nodded, smirking some. "Huh." He went to glance in at them then got them some coffee so they could sit outside and see what other plans Xander had made. He might be there all the way until spring. Maybe even next fall depending on how long it took to get Faith out of prison. So he could plant a garden or flowers for the baby to admire. John finally called Caleb. "Thanks for giving him a paranoid place to live, Caleb." He smiled. "Taking a nap on the couch with the baby. She's very happy to have the daddy back." He laughed. "Yeah, it's fine so far. Sorted, mostly hidden and put up. Why? Did someone need something? We found a whole case full of stakes."
Caleb laughed and said he had too. "Any news out that way?" He nodded as he listened, making notes. "Any idea where the witches are?" He laughed. "That'll work. Thanks." He hung up. "Tara's heading this way looking very purposeful. Willow's back in Devon being helped some more on orders of Giles. Who's still in LA being driven nuts by Buffy, who isn't sure if she likes being leather girl or not according to him. Angel's walked off and had to be pulled away from a bright, sunny window once. Spike saved him." Bobby snickered at that. "Spike's headed back east, possibly to London, for a bit. Until they fall back to handle Sunnydale again."
"Any news on Faith?"
"Not yet. The sea monster's gone. The locals were not happy with the mess they made of it either. All over one of their tourist beaches." Bobby shuddered. "But they got out of view fast enough." He looked inside then called Dean's phone with the GPS coordinates. Then he hung up on his son asking what was there. "There, that'll get Sammy back here to be a daddy soon."
"It's ripping him up, John," he said gently.
"I understand why the boy did it, but I don't like it. Winchesters don't have baby's momma's."
"Not him, Xander. Xander's the same sort of noble. Hell, if he had one with a girl and she dumped him, he's the sort to take the baby and walk off from her."
"I realize that. I also know it's better for her to have both parents, even if I don't think they'll get together."
"Probably not but Sammy wants to find a pastor and a ring anyway."
"That's how I taught my boys."
"The kid's the same sort of guy, John."
"I know it's better for her this way. Still sucks."
"At least he's not blocking them or you from seeing her. He should because it'd make her even safer."
"I know." He looked inside then at him again. "He's still a smartass."
"No one ever said you'd like all your daughter-in-laws," Bobby taunted.
"True. I can only imagine the bimbos Dean could be bringing home." He sipped his coffee, watching as a squirrel set off one of the mines. "Really old."
"Very. He'll need to demine the yard to make sure they're destroyed."
"Then he'd have to plant a lot of grass," Xander said from behind them. "What was that?"
"Squirrel if you wanted it to cook," John said with a point.
"Eww." He shuddered. "I've heard of people eating bunnies but that's just sick, John." He went back inside to his nap with his daughter. The gun got put onto the table with the safety on. Just in case it wasn't a squirrel next time.
John gave him ten minutes and looked inside, going to steal the gun. He checked it over. It was clean, loaded, and had the safety on. He put it next to the stove before going back outside. "He's still too paranoid."
"He has a reason. The cult to his daughter tried to take over a town."
"They nearly did it. It's a mess from what I heard."
"The news said it wasn't pretty. Thankfully those FBI guys were stepping in too. After they got out, they went hunting really fast to protect others."
"I don't like the Initiative being back."
"They're not. Just the hunters who're left. We can check on 'em now and then." John nodded, putting his feet up on the bench. "How long do you think?"
"Dean was driving and had the radio on. Depends on which way they were heading."
"True. And if it was an emergency or if their current hunt was solved." That got another nod. "You think they'll be back for the mines?"
"Yup. I think he'll have to have someone demine it if he doesn't want to ruin the land by setting them all off." They looked at each other and John sighed, calling the hunting ATF agent he knew. They'd come out to bother the boy and get the mines. They'd make sure they didn't arrest the boy for anything else.
Xander came out to the gate, looking at the agents out there once he had climbed the fence. "Yes, gentlemen, can I help you?"
"Sir, do you own this place?" the lead agent asked calmly.
Xander nodded. "I just bought it. Which agency are you with since I heard the last owner got the FBI down on him?"
"Can you guys handle the mines he left on the lawn? I don't want to ruin the grounds by setting them all off."
"We can," he agreed. "If we have a map?"
"Yeah, I have one and a seven month old daughter."
"Then it's a very good idea. May we enter, sir?"
Xander considered it. "Why else are you here?"
"Word got back to us from a hunter," the other one said, stepping forward. His mustache was really bushy and he looked relaxed. "We want to know what else you found."
"A lot but I'm still a hunter."
"Hunter?" the lead agent asked.
"I'm from Sunnydale, guys. I hunted the bad things out there." The one who said that grimaced. "I hunted with Buffy."
"Then you're Harris," he said. Xander nodded. "That makes more sense. Found?"
"Mostly. A few things were our apocalypse vault. With the town going to hell I couldn't leave it there."
"Good. Can we see them?" the lead agent asked.
"No." He grinned. "Those are hidden elsewhere." He kicked open the gate, letting it swing open while he got down. "Walk, gentlemen. Your truck is too heavy to not set off the side mines." They followed him up to the house. "ATF," he shouted as he walked in.
"Thanks for the warning," John called back. "You woke her up."
Xander went in to take her, walking back out with her. "My daughter Izzy."
The agent who knew about hunters stared. "She had that cult."
"Yes and the nice FBI agents handled them before I had to," he said simply. That got a nod. Xander pointed at the map on the wall. "The safe paths. One got detonated by a squirrel the other day. They're really old and I wasn't sure how to disarm them without using a remote controlled car or something." He looked at his daughter. "Some day you'll learn to love the explosions like Daddy does."
"Hopefully not," John said, coming out to take her back. "Hey, Buck."
Xander looked at John. "Gee, thanks," he said dryly.
"Just about the mines."
"We heard someone had cleared out the multiple apocalypse vaults out there," Buck admitted, looking at the boy.
"Like I wanted to leave it in their hands," he defended. "Besides, Caleb already turned that in. I let him handle it."
"What else do you have, kid?"
"Stakes. A few guns. I might try deer hunting this year, not real sure yet." He frowned, then went to check something. He came back out with a book. "Nothing too big. No more explosives. We used all those. We have another thermo-phosphoric grenade somewhere." They stared, mouths slightly open. "Heat and light to take out nests. I dealt in vampires." The agents moaned at that. He shrugged. "It's like that in Sunnydale."
"I can understand that," Buck agreed quietly. He looked around. "This place...."
"Is being redecorated. Though it's nice, they put all the dead animal heads in the basement." John gave him an odd look. "I put them in the shed. Because eww. I don't keep the heads of the cows I eat as burgers and steaks." He took his daughter back. "If you guys want those mines, just don't tear up the trees and too much of the ground, okay?"
"If we can," he agreed. "We have a new mine removing tool."
"Cool with me." He shrugged. "I was going to have to remove them anyway when she started to walk."
"Good point," the lead agent agreed, staring at him.
Xander stared back, then snickered, walking off shaking his head. "I've seen worse scowls on Clem when Dawn wouldn't give him his kitten back for his newest kitten poker game."
The lead agent pointed. "Is he sane?"
"Mostly," John admitted. "He had nightly hunting instead of case-by-case hunting we had. That or the pregnancy did it to him. Mary was a bit insane after having Dean."
"Not funny," Xander called. "And it'll never happen again."
John looked back that way. "It'd better not." He shook his head quickly. "Anyway, guys, what do you need to remove the mines?"
"Not a lot. We've got the mine robot in the truck." They took the map. "Can we see what else he has?"
"Not everything's in the right box or case. I found a case of stakes." They groaned. "He's well settled for an apocalypse, which he handled with his team. He won't be using it on normals. Plus Caleb can use him to supply some of us like the guys who needed it in Florida."
"What was that mess on the beach?" Buck asked. Xander came out with a book, handing it over before going into the kitchen to make her a bottle of juice. Then he walked off again. Buck shook his head but looked at the picture. "That's...disgusting I guess."
"Especially afterward," John agreed dryly. "We're keeping track. Especially my son Dean. He's a weapons nut too. He nearly bowed to the kid."
"Why are you and your sons involved?" Buck asked. "You've kept strings from them for years." The baby let out a squeal. "Really?" he asked dryly when John flinched and tried to reach for his gun.
"When Rosenburg made the wish to accidentally merge our realms, she was muttering about Sammy," he said quietly. "That's why the little lynch pin in there was created and carried by Xander." That got a nod from both agents. "With the demon that wanted Sammy, the cult to her because he carried her, and his past, he's a bit paranoid. That's why Caleb gave him this place."
"I can understand that," the lead agent said. "Does he ever not act like that?"
"I've seen him in a fight. He's scarily self-trained," John told him. That got a groan. "But he knows what he's doing well enough that I don't worry about him."
"Good to know," he decided. "Let us work on those mines." That got a nod and they went out to get the robot and start extracting those things so they could be disarmed. The lead agent came in and found the right light switch, turning off their lines. Then he went back out. "Forgot about the switch."
"Probably makes for a good plan," Buck decided. The robot was working pretty well over the grass. For now. It was a tester model so they'd see how well it ran after a hundred mines. Because there was probably a thousand out there.
Xander settled in on the front porch two days later with Izzy while the ATF agents cleared a few more feet out there. "Maybe some day you'll take what we're going to teach you and go to do their job, princess. They'd probably like that since your Uncle Dean and I will be teaching you guns before you hit puberty."
Buck looked up at him with a small grin. "You'll need all those shotguns and semi-automatics we saw to protect her from the boys, Harris."
"Hopefully she won't be that easy. Finding many she likes but not easy." He grinned. "Think she could go do your job some day?"
"I think if you ever calmed down you could," he offered. His boss gave him the oddest look. "They'd know more about guns and some networks than we do."
"Yeah, but I doubt the kid could ever calm down that much."
"He's not much worse than JD," he said dryly.
Xander snickered. "I can and have calmed down before but usually I'm in the thinking time before an apocalypse that I'm helping plan the defeat of."
Chris turned to stare at him. "You throw that word around awfully easy."
Xander nodded. "Were we a show to you guys?" Buck nodded. "Figures. Yes, all that stuff that they showed, happened. Up to Glory. We merged right before we took down Glory with the Winchesters help. They told us about Joyce's tumor, her, Willow going bad, all that." Buck shuddered. "Then we told them what we saw because to us the Winchesters were a show. It helped with the demon after Sam and all that stuff." He looked at his daughter then at them. "I don't know what you'd call fighting something that could destroy the world, but in Sunnydale we called that an apocalypse. We had at least a major one every year and then a more minor two or three the rest of the year. Including the hellmouth opening and all that stuff. It would've only taken a day for anything coming out of it to get past our borders and come for the rest of you guys."
Buck nodded. "I can see how that happens. What about now?"
"Finn's guys have it." Buck looked confused. "Initiative strike teams that got sent to the UN for hunting squads. Until they can get Faith out of jail or Buffy back to slaying since she was turned."
"How?" Buck asked. "I know that didn't happen on the show."
Xander nodded. "During the cult taking over, the mayor's people decided to take advantage of it and take out some of the problems we gave them by darting her, tying her up, and dropping her into a huge nest." Buck shuddered. "I had her sent to Angel and Willow souled her the next morning." He bounced Izzy on his knee a few times, making her squeal happily. He smiled at her. "You'll get to see Auntie Buffy soon, princess." He looked at Chris again. "What do you call something like our graduation? Or the Initiative creating something that would've tried a world-takeover bid?"
"I'd call those apocalypses," he admitted. "Are you retired?"
"We're in hiding until it's safe to go back to help Faith."
"You don't have to," Buck pointed out. "It'd be safer if you didn't. Especially for her."
"I'm a hellmouth baby, Buck. I know that town better than even the demons who've lived there for years. Once they make it safe again, we'll be needed to back Faith up. It's not a glamorous job but someone has to do it. That's usually my job description. Your little robot is going to hit the tree." They stopped it. He smiled a bit. "It happens that I need to be there. She'll be safe. We'll make sure of it. Faith doesn't want her hurt either. I'll probably be the last to go back because of Izzy but I'll be needed some day. Faith doesn't have a tactical thinker on the team unless she keeps some of the Initiative guys. And she hates them."
"Because they screwed up?" Buck asked. Xander nodded. "How did she hear?"
"We told her. Some of the old mayor's people told her too. Wes gave her the reports of what happened during that last battle. She heard all about that last year in Sunnydale from him and me when she asked."
"They really pushed you aside?" Xander nodded, cuddling his patting daughter. He nibbled on her fingers when she patted his lips, making her giggle so he grinned at her. "You're doing a good job with her."
"If she wants to hunt, she's got to be eighteen and trained more than I am now," Xander told them. "We'd all love for her to do something normal. Be absolutely mundane." He shrugged. "We'll see what happens."
"You didn't have to stay," Buck pointed out.
Xander nodded. "Yeah I did. Even when they didn't admit it, they needed me because I was the only one backing her up most of the time. Willow didn't really hunt. She staked a few times when she had to. Faith did when she got there. Giles didn't hunt with her. Angel did now and then but I'm sure you saw the problems there. There were days I felt like Cassandra shouting warnings that no one paid any attention to and didn't remember hearing when things went as predicted. Then again, it was high school. It was a drama sink."
"You could've died," Chris pointed out.
Xander nodded. "I could've died at home, guys. Since we know the dead like me, what would've happened if I hadn't helped? If they had come for me because for whatever reason the spirits of the dead like me? I had a big target once they realized I knew. A second one for having people around me who didn't pay attention to me. If I had been turned and disappeared for ten or twelve days, my parents might not have noticed. Plus those with any gifts get hunted more often so I'd have a third huge target once they realized these things about me. I knew a few who said they had waited for me to finish gaining my full height to come after me. Guys like me are useful as more than minions. Since I know what I'd be like, I can't let that happen. I had to act to stay out of more danger. Even if the hunting could've gotten me killed. Buffy would've stayed dead. Kendra still would've died. Faith would probably be dead by now too. Having Buffy there took a lot of slayer pressure off her. She didn't hunt nearly as often as Buffy did in the early days."
Buck nodded. "I can understand that. You still have the chance to fall back to a secondary position to protect her, kid. Isn't she more important?"
"What makes you think they still won't come for her? She still has demons who want her because of both of her fathers. After you guys are done, I might be remining around the fence area. Because there's still demons who remember me, want me for what I did, want Sam for what his family does, and her cult still has some random members here and there. One tried to get her when she had the flu right before Sunnydale fell in."
"Being proactive would help keep her safe, but it's a sucky choice," Chris agreed.
"I know, but it's the only good one I have. Short of running away and changing our names. Then they'd still find us. Even if we ran to Mexico or lower Central America. As Riley's guys found out, there's plenty of higher demons down there and not a whole lot of fighting against them."
"Think there's any good, safe place?"
"Somewhere she's surrounded by people who love her and know what could happen," Xander told them. "We already know something from my past will come back to try for her at least once. The demons who wanted Sam want her now."
"Why?" Buck asked.
"Small prophecy about the demon that wanted him building a demon army. That's why he kidnaped something like eleven kids to make a chosen one. Then they'd lead his army. Since he wanted Sam for that, they want her to finish it and be his heir. I had the worst time during my pregnancy with demons coming up to bow to my stomach."
Buck hid his smile. "I can see how that'd get annoying."
"I didn't need a paternity test, it told me all I needed to know," Xander said dryly, cracking them up. "It was easy targets for mood swings though." They cracked, laughing at that. "How much longer on the mines?"
"Few more days for this batch," Chris said.
"Okay." He looked at her. "Want to stay out here? It's getting a bit chilly. We'll need to buy you a sweater soon."
She looked at him. "Meme!"
He stared at her. "Was that like mama? Was that talking or more baby babble, Izzy?" He stared at her. "Say it again? Or Dada? Can you try Dada?"
"Mememememememememememe!" she shouted, beaming at him.
"I'm so proud," he squealed, giving her a big cuddle. "John, Bobby!" They came rushing out with guns. "Tell them, Izzy. Say it again?"
"Memememe!" she said, beaming at them.
"That's your first word?" John asked.
"Apparently it's her version of mama," Xander said with a shrug.
"Congrats, pumpkin," Bobby said, grinning at her. "Your daddy's first word was Dede so don't you worry."
John gave him a dirty look. "That's because I spent the week before yelling at Dean," he said dryly. He picked her up to hold. "I'm very proud, Izzy. That was very good." She leaned forward to suck on his cheek.
"That's right, Grandpa needs sugar," Xander agreed happily. He found his phone, getting into the recording feature. "Say it again for Daddy, Izzy? Please?"
She looked at the phone, reaching for it to play with or nibble on. "Me?" she asked, staring at it. She beat it on her grandfather's chest. "Memememe!" She beat it some more until he plucked it from her fingers and turned it off, handing it to the kid. "Meme!" she shouted.
"You can have it back later," he promised with a smile. "Want some nummies as a treat?" She cooed so he took her inside to get her some applesauce.
"Congrats," Bobby said. "That's very adorable."
"Well, we do call her a princess so of course it's about her," he said with a grin, getting a laugh back. Bobby went to help her eat. Xander went to email that audio file to Sam and Dean's email account. Then he went back to watching the Feds try not to be too nosy.
Sam's phone beeped with a new email message. He pulled it out of his pocket to upload his email, getting into it. The file was played and Dean laughed. "That's our princess," Dean agreed. "All about her."
Sam nodded. "She doesn't really have anyone to call mama so I'm guessing that's as close as she'll come for a while."
"It's good that he shared that."
"It was." He reran it, smiling at how brilliant his daughter is. "How long before we get there?"
"He's got Kyle's old compound. We'll be there late tonight if we don't make more than a few short stops for gas."
"We can do that." Dean nodded, speeding up a little bit. "His email said that the ATF guys are still demining the grounds."
"That's a good warning. He say which branch?"
"He said Dad called a contact named Buck."
"I haven't seen him in ages."
"We know him?"
"About five, six years ago, he ended up on a case that had a poltergeist trying to take out an arms dealer. That was before he was ATF. Him and his former partner were not amused but Dad and I got the poltergeist while they got the arms dealer."
"Good to know. So he knows?"
"A lot. He's the guy that Caleb turns in anything too huge to. Some of Xander's stash probably went to him."
"Very good to know. Which branch is he out of?"
"Last we heard, Denver."
"Not too far away from Kyle's then." That got a nod. "Think they're harassing Xander about his stash?"
"Hopefully not. He's pitiful when he pouts and who knows what he'd find the next time."
"Yeah, that's a scary thought," Sam decided, shifting to get more comfortable. "I still can't believe she's old enough to talk."
"Dude, you were the same age once. I remember changing your diapers."
"Think Xander's pissed that we gave her the flu?"
"Yeah. I got a voicemail of him swearing at me with her crying in the background. Twice."
"Ow. He's going to beat us."
"It was necessary. There was a Fed looking for us there."
"I know." They sighed. "Willow?"
"Talked to her. She removed the newer stuff."
"Good. She's a handy one to know."
"Think Tara's there yet?"
"Probably on her way. She didn't want to give up the baby at all the last time we talked."
"She's a fussy aunt," Dean agreed. "Fussier than any we had."
"We would've been spoiled by having one like her," Sam pointed out.
"True. Dad would've stopped her if it was us. Since Izzy's a girl I guess he doesn't think she'll want to hunt."
"Maybe." Personally, he thought if their father had given Xander orders to raise Izzy like they were, Xander would've laughed his butt off and tossed him out of the house --probably on his butt. Though Xander did want her to make her own decision about hunting but they'd let them train her. "When are we going to start working on her self-defense training?"
Dean shrugged. "Older than you were?"
"Do you think maybe around school age she should learn how to defeat bullies? She'll have plenty with having two dads unless she's living in a gay town."
Dean glanced at him. "You want me to plan that?"
"You're better at physical brawling than I am," Sam admitted quietly. "I don't want Dad to boot camp her like we were. Can you work with Xander on that?"
Dean smiled. That was a great compliment from his little brother. "Sure. I can work on him with that and any gun training she'll get." Sam beamed but relaxed. "Without being such a hardass like Dad was." Sam nodded. Dean tapped the steering wheel along with the music he had playing. He checked the gas gauge. "Pit stop coming up."
"I could use a bathroom break," Sam admitted. "Whichever is done first gets lunch?"
"Deal." Dean found a good gas pit stop and pulled in. Sam went to the bathroom. Dean pumped gas. Then they went to scrounge lunch from the packette attached to the gas station. A few microwavable sandwiches, a bag of chips, three sodas, one juice, and they were back on the road.
Dean parked behind Bobby's car, looking around. "They've done a good job on the mine removal." Sam groaned, pointing at the open storage areas. Dean groaned too. They went to find the spikes that the original owner had used. They pulled the doors down and inserted the spikes into the special holders. That electrified the doorways so no one could open it from the outside. They finished up and moved to the main doors. The security system was off so Dean flipped it back on and they went inside to check out the house. Xander had done some work. He had painted some of the darker wood paneling Kyle had put in. There were no more animal heads hanging in the living room like there had been when he had watched them the last time. Sam found the nursery and cooed, smiling at his sleeping little girl. Dean came in to look over his arm, grinning too. They turned when they heard a footstep. "We closed the storage areas and set the spikes," Dean told Bobby quietly.
"Sure." He looked at the girl then at them. "The rollaway's in the closet. Xander's got one in his room too. Don't know why Kyle had a trundle bed."
"He had his wife sleep there until she left him," Sam said quietly. "He had nightmares that made him thrash her a few times."
"That makes more sense I guess. Sleep, boys." He went back to his own bed.
Dean looked at Sam, who shrugged and pointed at the closet. Dean nodded, going to check the couch. It was lumpy, bad for his back, and had springs sticking out - like the last time he had slept on it. So he went to find the trundle bed in Xander's room. He had slept there when he was younger. It wasn't a bad bed. He stripped down to his boxers and tank top undershirt before climbing in. His knife went under the pillow. Then he laid down to listen to Xander snore. Dean snickered. Every few snores Xander would purr. That was so sickeningly cute.
Xander woke up and snuffled. He was on something softer than a pillow that was moving. He grunted inquisitively. Then he scratched his chin on it.
"You pulled me up," Dean said patiently. "Then pinned me like some war prize that was going to escape."
"Not in that life anymore," Xander mumbled. "No more riding in to capture brides for the tribe." He yawned and got up to wander to the bathroom.
"Xander, maybe you should put on more clothes?" Bobby said loudly. "Before your daughter starts to appreciate naked men?"
"Bite me," Xander said.
"It'd be pretty easy to do with the way you're naked," Bobby complained.
Dean chuckled, getting up to search for the downstairs bathroom. He came up to pull on clothes. John gave him an odd look. "Trundle bed but Xander decided to relive a past life or whatever and capture me for the tribe."
John walked off shaking his head. "Too early for this." He went to make some coffee. He heard the squeal and looked down the hall. "I take it Sammy's in there?"
"Yup." He went to check. "Sammy!" he shouted. Sam woke up with a gasp. "Your daughter squealed for your attention."
Sam beamed at his staring daughter. "Good morning, Izzy!" He pulled her out and to his cot to cuddle her. She snuggled in. "I missed you too, baby. I heard you talked. Can you talk for me?"
"Mememe!" she said, looking at Dean. "Meme?"
Dean came in to kiss her on the head. "You're a good girl, Izzy." She smiled since he was and snuggled in again. "Sure, you cuddle the Sammy daddy." He went to get his own coffee. Xander was in there gulping some while Bobby waited to give him more. "Morning, Xander."
Xander frowned at him. "You're here?"
"We got in late last night. Don't remember pulling me up to pin me?"
Xander slowly shook his head. "I didn't think I was doing a redo of going out to capture brides for the tribe." He frowned and then it cleared up so he could get a drink. "Izzy?"
"On Sammy's chest cooing at him."
"That's good." He smiled. "Did you see this place?"
"The old owner, Kyle, watched us a few times when we were younger. That's why we put the shock system on the storage area doors for you and turned on the security system."
"Cool. Shock system?"
"I'll show you after I shower and you wake up." Xander smiled and nodded, drinking more of the coffee Bobby gave him. Dean went to take his own shower then came out redressed to take the baby and get her cleaned up. "C'mon, since we weren't there when you were so sick."
"She spent the night in the hospital," John told him. Dean grimaced. "She wouldn't quit crying, her fever spiked, and she started to puke. Nearly on one of the cult members."
"Not our fault. One of the nosier Feds was nearby checking up on us," Dean said quietly.
"I can understand that." Dean took Izzy into the bathroom to give her a bath. Sam came in once he had on clothes. John shook his head when Sam kicked Dean out. "He is experienced in how to do it, Sammy."
"We did good the last time." Sam kicked the door shut and went back to helping her splash the running water. She was happy so he was happy. Even if he had to clean up her butt when she let one into the water. The rerunning was fine with him. She let him do everything but her hair. She fussed at that.
"Tip her back, run the water over from front to back," Dean said, opening the door. "She's probably got an ear ache."
"Thanks." He did that. It was hard to juggle her but Dean came in to hold her for him. "Thanks," he said more quietly.
"Sometimes you've gotta adapt." Dean let him do the shampoo, which she didn't like. "I know, it's bubbles you can't chase. You can have bubbles later." She let them rinse it off then get her out to dry off and put into a new diaper. She was extra wiggly this morning. They brought her out and found the agents getting their own coffee. "Morning, Buck. New boyfriend?" Dean taunted with a smirk for Chris.
"Don't make me arrest you, Winchester." Xander smacked him on the arm with a growl. Chris glared at him. Xander just smirked. "Don't do it again, Harris."
"Or what? You'll scowl more fiercely? Can you do that? Because still not as bad as a few of the girls I know. You should've seen Cordy with PMS. Especially the first year when she had zits too." Chris walked off shaking his head. "Willow took them anyway," he told Dean. "That way you don't have to run again the next time you give her the flu." He punched him on the arm. "Bastard."
"Hit me when I don't have her in my arms," Dean complained, rubbing the spot. She cooed at him so he grinned at her. "I know, I was mean. I'm sorry you got our flu, Izzy."
"I had to sit her on the toilet for a few hours because we ran out of diapers."
"That bad?" Sam asked.
"Forty-eight within a day."
Sam shuddered. "Very sorry, Xander. We didn't have much of a choice."
"I realize that now. If you ever do it again you're going to get to give her the sex talk and talk to her about periods."
"Eww," Dean said with a shudder. He looked at her. "Maybe you won't have those girl problems."
"Fat chance," Buck said with a grin as he came back for more coffee. "He'll need all those guns he has to drive off the boys."
"We put on the shock system," Sam told him with a grin. "The original owner made them."
"We heard," Buck said dryly, going back outside. Chris was already shaking his hand to get the feeling back in it. "The more times you touch it, the worse it hurts."
"Wonderful." He glared at the door. "Someone thought we were too nosy."
"Sam and Dean did it. They knew the original owner." He handed over the extra cup of coffee. "How much longer do you think we have?"
"Probably a few more days. At least someone's at the ranch feeding everything." He went back to dealing with the mine freeing robot. Buck went to snoop around because he was a bit better at it.
Dean came out a few hours later. "I always liked the grounds here. Even if Kyle wouldn't let me dive into his backup well to see what he had stored down there."
"Is that why we have so much iron in the water?" Xander asked as he and Izzy joined him to sit in the old lounge chairs.
"No, the water was already irony before he started to hide wrapped stuff down in the well." He got comfortable. "He had the stuff wrapped so it's all waterproof but it's been years so I don't know if anything's still safely wrapped."
Buck's head came up. "Well?"
"Yeah, there's the main water well and then there's a deep hole well that's somehow a cavern or something. He used to put stuff down it after wrapping it in water-tightplastic." He sipped his coffee. "Also, did they ever break into his underground vault?" Xander gave him an amused look. "Sammy and Dad think it'll probably be really old and need to be given away for safety reasons," he said.
"That makes sense," Xander agreed. "We can check. I can dive somewhat."
"We have an underwater camera in the truck," Chris admitted. "Where's this well, Dean?"
"Out back." They followed him through the house to where the well cover should be. "I need a shovel. And it looks like an axe for the tree."
"We found a really crummy chainsaw," Xander admitted. "And an axe we need to sharpen."
Dean gave him an odd look. "Those are just covers, Xander." He led him to the garage, opening the compartment behind the crummy tools. "Kyle said he did that so no one would break in and steal it from him." He checked the chainsaw. "We need gas." Buck went to get him some, bringing a can back a few minutes later, and a shovel since it didn't look like they had one. Dean took the shovel to find the opening, freeing the top. Then the tree had to go. He checked it over, then what was around, picking a direction for it to fall. It took a good half an hour but it finally fell. Sam came out to get the baby since she was yelling back at the loud noise. Xander took the axe to get the roots that were still in the way. Dean pulled up the cover and they looked at the dark, deep looking water underneath the wooden cover. "I know at least one artillery case is wrapped up down there."
Chris knelt to look then turned on the camera before dropping it into the water. Buck had the monitor for it. They stared. "Yeah, you could say that, Dean." He let him see it.
Xander pointed. "That one's leaking water." That got a nod. "Should I go find my swimsuit? I don't want that in the water. Though I'm guessing that's why there's a radiation sensor on the water supply."
"No, Kyle was paranoid about that stuff." That just got a nod. "Want us to bring it up for you, Chris? Some of that still looks good."
"Please, boys." Xander went to get his swimsuit and came back to warm up then dove in. "Isn't that cold, Xander?"
"Not like I have a girlfriend who'll complain," he quipped before taking a deep breath and diving down. It didn't look that deep. He grabbed the first few things to bring up, letting them grab them. "I'm not sure I can touch the bottom, guys. Not without an air tank."
"That we don't have," Buck admitted.
"Dad, do you have an air tank?" Dean called.
"No." He came out to the back porch. "Oh, that stash. He planned on using some metal rods with magnetic tips to help him bring them up." He went to find one and brought it out. "Try that." Xander took one and went down, sending it up a minute later before coming up with a few more cases. "Won't work?"
"The stuff that sank is the heaviest and doesn't have a way to get it without poking it for water to get in." He looked at Chris. "I'm good but I'm not that big on the mermaid taint."
"We can rig up something later. Bullets it looks like?"
Xander dove then came back up with one, tossing it at him. "Cash. Can I keep that?"
"Sure, kid," Buck decided. Chris gave him an amused look. "Not like we can prove where it came from and he found it in the home he bought. If the former owner isn't around to argue with him it should be finders keepers on cash, Pard."
Chris considered it. "He was clearly dealing weapons."
"Yeah, but the baby will need winter clothes soon. It's either that or the kid has to sell something else of *his* collection."
"I take rewards," Xander quipped before diving down again. This was cold water. He brought up a case with a gasp of air. "Heavy because it's water logged." Dean dragged it over with the pole. They opened the plastic to let the water out then opened the case to show the nice compact land-to-air missile system. Xander looked from his spot on the edge of the opening. "That's pretty but I doubt even a gun god could get it to work now."
"It probably was," Chris agreed. "How many more, Harris?"
"The best way is probably going to be pumping the water out," John said. "Sending it into the forest so anything that was leaked into this one can filter off in the ground." They all nodded. "I have no idea where we'd get a pump that strong."
"I doubt a swimming pool one would be," Xander admitted. He looked at the money. "One of you guys check the money to make sure it's real?" Chris knelt to open that package, nodding at it. "Cool. Grocery shopping!" He climbed out, shivering a bit. "Let me shower and change back into real clothes." He hurried inside. There was a breeze out here.
"Hell of a son-in-law you have," Buck teased John.
John nodded. "Even if he does sing the baby silly, goofy songs that stick in your head until you bang it out of there," he complained. Dean shot him a look. "He did."
"Xander's a nice guy, Dad. If I was gay, I'd take Xander in a heartbeat."
"If you're gay, at least you won't be giving me more grandkids from the fooling around you do, Dean."
"Hasn't happened so far."
John looked up. "Thank you." He glared at his son. "You don't have to sleep with half the US's waitresses, Dean. Really." He walked off.
"Sure, Dad, let me find a wife," he called after him. "Settle down and give you more grandkids." John shuddered. "Asshole."
Sam came out onto the back porch. "If I were gay, Xander's shyness would have already been taken care of, guys, but I doubt Dean can marry the baby's daddy." He glared at his father, who snickered. "Keep it up, Dad. Willow was wanting another niece."
"Better not be from me," Xander called from inside. "And that would have to mean both of us were gay, Sam. Since I've never even seen another naked guy, that might be a problem."
Sam glared inside, cracking Dean up.
"He does know that he and his dad do scowl just alike?" Buck asked Dean.
"Now and then, yeah. They're both stubborn assholes." He looked down in there. "Where would we get a pump that big?"
"Let me see if any of the local offices have one," Chris said, going to call from the truck. He came back with a smirk. "Vin knows someone who has one. He can borrow it and be up here later tonight."
"More to worship at the altar of cuteness that is my niece," Dean quipped.
"She is adorable."
"Everyone says that," Dean agreed. "Maybe the succubus Xander slept with gave her that sort of taint since we couldn't find another one."
"I was adorable at that age too," Xander called from inside the house. "My mom had me try out for a few commercials. It's the female version of my drawing bad girls only she does nice guys instead."
"Then explain Cordy," Dean called back.
"Exposure to my own cuteness."
"You two did date," Dean agreed more quietly.
Xander leaned out. "Still didn't sleep with her, Dean. Not fully." He withdrew. "I'm making eggs." His daughter let out an awesome squeal. "Gee, sweetie, want some eggs?" he teased with a grin. She beamed from Sammy's lap. "Okay, I can make you some eggs." He finished his breakfast and started on hers, handing it to Sam before sitting down. Sam reached over to turn off the stove. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He let her scrunch her fingers in the scrambled eggs and suck them off. "Want me to feed you?" He picked up a fork but she refused to eat off it. She kept turning her head out of the way. "Okay, you can feed yourself today." He put her hand back in the eggs, letting her suck them off again. It clearly made her happier today. "Any word on Faith?"
"I called Wesley last night and he said that they're still trying to get her down to probation or something like that." He ate another bite. "Her next parole hearing is in two weeks."
"Any chance of it?"
"Wes doesn't think so. He said the Warden supports it but he's not on the panel. If not, the next one is in about six months."
"That's going to suck. What's going on in Sunnydale?"
"Riley's lost two guys so far. Both vamped. Spike was kicking himself for saving Riley's ass; he went to lurk in LA instead for a while. Dru showed up to start a new vampire nation." Sam moaned, shaking his head quickly. "He's letting Angel handle her since he can't and doesn't want to stake her himself." He ate another bite, hearing the begging noises. He picked up some of hers to feed it to her but she didn't want that. He ate that bite and fed her a bite of his, getting a smile back. "Ah, you're having a fussy day. No wonder." He finished up his first egg with her help, moving onto his second. She ate hers in between bites of his. "Buffy said she'd be going back to Sunnydale in a few weeks. She doesn't like Dru all that much and she thinks she can handle being back there for a bit. We're not so sure and Angel's been nagging her about not overfeeding and how the hellmouth can taint."
"I guess that sort of energy could," Sam agreed. "Will she be okay?"
"If he thinks she's tainted, he'll pull her out of there and send her to New York or something to hunt. Travers has tried to have her taken out twice but he stopped one and she stopped the other one with Willow's help. Then she told him about the soul restoration spell. He's not happy."
"I'm not happy," Sam admitted. "I think it's pretty unfair to her."
"She agreed to it. It was that or stake her. She decided to keep going on." That got a nod. "Faith agreed not to stake her apparently. Travers is pissed with our judicial system because he can't get Faith free or take her out to call the next slayer. Whichever one would be easier." Sam gave him an odd look. Xander nodded, eating another bite. She made begging noises so he cut off another piece for her. "He's not real particular and he sees the girls as disposable weapons. I treat my guns better than he does the slayers in line. That's one of the reasons we don't like the Council. They hate me because I butted into Buffy's scared duty of being alone."
"That sucks though. You guys kept her alive for over five years."
"The longest lasting before her was eleven months I think," Xander agreed. Sam gaped. Xander nodded. "She was kinda young too. Not a lot of activity around her."
"It happens, but it sucks," Sam agreed.
Xander nodded. "Which is why the Council hates my ass."
"They can blow me," Sam shot back. "You did what was necessary. Thank you."
"Welcome," he said with a small grin. He looked at his staring daughter. "Can I finish my own breakfast?" She grinned at him. He sighed and ate one last piece, feeding her the rest. Then she finished her own eggs. "Once you're in the living room, I'll make myself something more to eat since I'm still hungry for some reason," he said dryly.
Sam laughed. "What still needs to be done around here?"
"Drywalling instead of the paneling. Cleaning the carpets. Finding Dean his own bed."
"There's a trundle under yours."
"I noticed that. I apparently decided to relive my past life and captured him as a tribal bride." Sam snickered. "I don't think he wants to replay that one."
"Probably not, no." He looked at her. "Want to get a shampooing machine, sweetie?"
"If that cash isn't counterfeit then we can do that and get her some sweaters," Xander agreed, leaning on the table. "Plus have them bring out some more drywall sheets."
"That's not a bad plan for the day," Bobby agreed, coming up from the basement. "Thanks for turning on the shock systems, Sammy."
"I didn't want to get Xander in trouble."
Xander shrugged. "I hid most of that stuff magically. It already had a spell on it," he offered with a grin. Sam snorted, giving him a look. "It does." He took his daughter back. "Think your other daddy should get his daddy's truck so we can go hit the hardware store, princess?" She cooed, patting his cheek with her eggy hand. "Yeah, the place with the stuff I won't let you look at too closely. Want to go back there?" he asked with a grin. She continued to pet him. "That's a good idea."
"Let me get the keys while you clean her up." Xander took her to clean them both up. Sam went outside. "Dad, need the truck keys."
"Hardware store run if that money's all good. Drywall and carpet shampooer."
John tossed them over. "Make sure they'll handle shag and industrial carpet both, Sammy."
Sam nodded, going inside to grab his jacket. It was a bit chilly today. Dean brought in a few stacks of cash. "Good?"
"Very good. No counterfeit that I've found anywhere." Sam nodded pocketing it. "Get her something cute too."
"We can look while we do a bit of grocery shopping," Xander agreed, coming out with her under an arm. He looked down at Dean's odd look at her. "She likes to be carried like that."
"Is that good for her?"
"It might make her belch after eating half of my breakfast on me." He walked her out to get the carseat from his car, taking it to the truck. It went in the middle and he climbed in once she was hitched in. Sam got in to drive. And away they went.
John woke up when he heard his truck, checking his watch. "Three hours to do some grocery shopping and the hardware store?" He walked outside, getting handed his granddaughter. Who for some reason was dressed up like a puppy, complete with ears. "Halloween costume?"
"No. Kiddy play and crawl suit." Xander grinned. "Dean wanted her to be cute."
"I doubt that's for daily wear," John said.
"It was in the normal kid clothes section," Sam said as he slid out to help with the groceries. "Dean, come help!" he shouted. Dean came out but paused when he saw his niece, giving them a funny look. "It was in the normal clothes. It's for babies to get down and play in."
"Uh-huh. A puppy?"
"We got all three that they had in her size," Xander promised. "She's got a kitty one and a pumpkin one. The saleslady said they had one with a sparkly wand but I don't think we need her to be a fairy princess yet." He carried bags past them. "Help or don't eat, Dean."
"Sure, I can help." He grabbed some of the stuff to carry in. "She is terminally cute in that. It's sapping my macho points by the ton looking at her."
Sam beamed. "I knew she'd be adorable when I found them."
"That explains so much," Dean decided. Xander walked past him snickering. "Not like you haven't picked out a few cutesy outfits for her too. Or don't you remember her baby lumberjack outfit?"
"Of course I do. She looks adorable in a flannel shirt. And it was more grunge than baby lumberjack."
John shook his head. "C'mon, princess. We'll make you more normal." He put her on the couch. She wiggled and got onto her stomach. "Ready to crawl already?" She wiggled her way onto the pillow, sucking her thumb with one of her ears. "Sure, you cuddle in. I'm sure it was a long day for you." He went to get the rug shampooer. Then the bottles for it. "How do we do this?" Xander found the instructions and receipt package, handing it over. He checked it over and went to run hot water for it. Since she wanted to crawl, he wanted that ugly beige shag carpeting cleaner for her. He looked at her and smiled. "Mary would be cooing over you, princess."
Dean stopped to look at her then went to get the camera. Before he disgusted himself by cooing a the cuteness. He was her favorite uncle but he still had some limits he couldn't cross without making himself sick from the sugar.
Bobby came out of the basement, looking at her since the other two were. He shivered. "That's a fatal level of cuteness." Dean took another picture for him. "Thanks, Dean."
"Maybe it's so cute we can banish stuff with it since she's so adorably pure," he quipped. His father swatted him. "Hey! That was a different show!"
"Shut up, Dean."
Sam walked in with a load of bags, stopping to coo. "Awwww."
"There went all your macho points for the month," Dean told him.
Sam kicked him on the leg. "Shut up, jerk."
"It did, bitch. You need to grow more anyway. You were critically low before she was born. That's why you turn into a chick now and then."
Xander walked in with a sigh. "She's a little girl. Of course she's adorable, but there had better be a picture."
"Already got it," Dean promised, letting him see the digital image on the camera's screen. Xander grinned and carried the rest of the bags into the kitchen. Sam followed with his. He looked at his father. "Think Caleb wants a copy?"
"I think that's cute enough to make me mushy," he admitted. Dean laughed, going to email a copy to their friends who knew about the baby.
Bobby answered his phone. "Singer." He listened then snickered. "Yes, it's a puppy costume, Ellen. She's still sucking her thumb with one of the ears. Sammy said she got a few others too." He burst out snickering again. "Of course you can. Kyle's old place. Buck and his boss are up here to demine the yard for the boy."
Xander leaned out. "Wait until you see the kitty one. She looks a lot like Miss Kitty Fantastico."
"Who?" Dean asked.
"We'll make sure she gets pictures of her in it then," John decided. Xander grinned, going back to putting things up. "Someone help me with this thing," he ordered. Bobby helped him set it up and then they worked on the carpet. "Bobby, how long are you staying?"
"I'll probably head later on tomorrow. Gotta get back to the salvage yard."
"If I can figure out how to bake stuff, you can come back for Thanksgiving," Xander called from the kitchen.
"Thanks, Xander. I might do that." He smiled, taking his own picture of the girl. She was too adorable. They'd be able to tell other hunters by their pictures of her some day.
Xander opened the gate, looking at the guy out there. "Yes, I know the intercom is broken. I've got to rewire the whole set. Who're you?"
"Vin Tanner, Mr. Harris. Chris and Buck needed something."
"They're to the right. Stay on this side until you get to the pine tree then you can swerve a bit more to the left." That got an odd look. "Hold on. Buck! Chris!" he bellowed. Chris came jogging out. "Here, drive him in so he doesn't hit one of the mines that's not cleared yet. I've got to rewire the intercom." That got a nod and they drove back to the house. Xander settled in to work on the system out there. Just a few loose wires but it had to be fixed. He hated to run out to the gate every time someone showed up. He might shoot someone if they were selling something. It was a good hike. He finally came back and found his daughter in one of her less cute outfits. "Why is she in jammies?"
"It's nearly time for bed," Sam told him. "Besides, she spit milk all over the puppy outfit."
"I guess I can wash it."
"Let her be a pumpkin or a kitty tomorrow."
"I can do that." He gave his girl a cuddle. "Ready for night-nights?" She pouted. "Don't do that, Izzy," he sighed.
Vin looked over then at his coworkers. "They're going to drive you nuts."
"Too late," Buck said with a smirk. "Chris can't glare the boy into anything."
Vin giggled. "Can't do it, Cowboy? Someone fiercer than your glare?"
"When you've faced down huge ass things that want to eat you, he's nothing," Xander said, looking over at them with an evil smirk. "He's nowhere near as bad as looking at the kraken monster or the mayor. Or hey, even zombies can scowl better." He grinned. Then he walked her inside to get a book to read to her tonight. It was their nighttime ritual. He yawned halfway through.
Dean walked in. "Totally blew his ego, dude." He plucked his pouting niece out of Xander's arms. "Let me, Xander. You go nap. You've been on the go all day." Xander nodded, going to bed. Dean sat down in the rocking chair, looking down at her. "A book on puppies? Or want a story about how I totally kicked a demon's butt?" She sucked her thumb, staring at him. So he settled in to tell her about how he kicked the last demon's butt and saved Sammy, who had been knocked out. She fell asleep during it but that was the point of a bedtime story. He carefully put her down and covered her then started her mobile. He left once her nightlight was on and the main lights off, going to check on Xander. He was already asleep. He came out to find Chris glaring in the kitchen. "I'd consider it a compliment."
"I didn't know he saw the kraken."
Dean shrugged. "Who said he hasn't seen another one?"
"Good point. He napping?"
"Both of them are in bed."
"Could've sworn she had you tied up, Dean," Sam said from his seat. "Not the other way around."
"Not that one. The witch last month."
Sam grimaced. "Don't make me look that woosey, Dean. She knocked me out and I had a concussion."
"I told her that." He smirked at his little brother. Then at Chris. "I'd still consider it a compliment, dude."
"I probably should. Does he have any fear left?"
"Not much for normal people. Then again, most of us who hunt don't. Bad guys don't usually have anything on demons." He went in to get something to drink, coming out find Chris had went back to talk to his people. He saw his father come in. "Pumpkin or kitty cat tomorrow?"
"Don't do that."
"She likes them apparently." He shrugged. "She's a girl, she should be cute. That's a young girl's job."
"I know, still too much cuteness in a row."
"Like that'll stop her?" Sam snorted. "Wait until she's a mouthy kid."
"Meme!" she yelled.
"Go to sleep," Dean called back. She squealed unhappily so they went in to check on her. "Shit," he shouted, bringing his father. His father shot the mouse for him. "There, princess." Xander came running in. "Mouse. It woke her up."
"Why?" He checked, letting Dean get the one in her bed. "Where did they come from?"
"Let me check," John said, checking the ceiling. Not there but there was a newly opened hole in the wall. He put down a few traps and went to check the other side of the wall. It was the bathroom. He put down another trap and went to check the attic then the basement levels. He found the next and shot a few more. It was good stress relief. Maybe he'd go back with Bobby. This was too much domestication. He hadn't been this domesticated since he had been married. And not even Dean had been that cute as a kid. Maybe his son was right and it was sapping his macho strength in some sort of girl radiation.
Tara finally managed to get away from Willow. She appeared in the backyard and snuck into the kitchen. Dean grinned and handed over the kitty dressed girl, getting a coo back. Sam took a picture of them together.
"T..t..t..t," Izzy stuttered with a happy grin.
Xander leaned in. "I think it's cute she stutters your name because you do."
"Oh, no. I didn't want to teach her that."
He kissed her on the forehead. "She only does it on your name because you do." He grinned. She grinned back. "She's dressed like your kitty."
"I can see that," she said quietly, smiling at her niece. "Such a happy girl." She waved at her auntie. "C'mon, we'll go sit and talk." She carried her off, squeaking when se saw the strange men.
"Tara, that's the ATF agents who're taking the mines out of the ground around the house," Dean told her. "Don't be scared of them. They're decent guys." She gave them a sideways look but took Izzy somewhere else to talk to her.
"Try the basement, Tara. It's carpeted and if you're moving in I'll fix it up for you." She kissed him on the cheek as she walked past him. "That way I don't turn my daughter into some truck driving lesbian who hates men," he decided, going back to his laundry duty. "This washer sucks."
Dean came in to look, showing him how to use the old wringer washer that was partially electric. At least it spun and swished by itself. Then they wrung it out and put it into the dryer. They had a lot of them to do with how often she messed up her clothes. Bobby came in from checking his car over. He found Tara. "Miss," he said, making her squeak. "Sorry."
"H..h..hi?" she asked, guarding the baby.
"Don't be that afraid of me. I'm Bobby. I was there when she was born." She blushed. "Don't be like that. I just came in to get a hug before I had to head home." She handed him the baby since she was begging for him. "Thanks, Izzy. You're a special little girl to make so many hunters coo over you." She smiled at him. He hugged her back. "I'll miss you but I gotta get back to work."
"Good girl," Dean agreed, coming down to look over his shoulder. "You taking Dad? He's looking antsy."
"Probably." He gave her a good hug then handed her back to Tara. "Thanks, Tara." She gave him a shy smile. "If you need us, you call. I'm about a day away."
"Good girl." He patted her on the head then left.
Dean showed her the puppy picture. "That was yesterday." She cooed and cuddled the baby. "She could use more of a girl influence than Sammy." She giggled so he left them alone.
"You were so adorable," she whispered to the girl. She caught the thing coming down the stairs, looking at the catalog. "Your daddy is very pushy, Izzy."
Izzy smiled and snuggled in. She had missed her favorite cuddly female one. They both squealed when an explosion went off outside.
Xander leaned out the front door. "Guys, did you blow yourselves up?" he called.
"Just the robot," Vin called back. "One wasn't marked."
"Not my map, dude. But sorry." He went back inside. "No need for bandaids."
"Good, though it'd probably be more like a trauma unit," Bobby said. He flipped off the switch again. "Did we flip it on by accident?" It flipped itself back on while they were standing next to it. "Kyle, if that's you, this is Xander. He owns here. Caleb gave it to him to protect his baby girl." John walked in. He flipped off the mines. The switch flipped itself back on.
"Either the mice are telekinetic, or we're being haunted," Xander said.
"We can fix that. I know where Kyle's buried," John admitted. He and Bobby gathered their stuff and went to the old graveyard out back to make sure it wasn't one of them. Even if they had to salt and burn the whole place. Xander came out an hour later with a pitcher of water but shook his head. "No?"
"No. Still happening. Was it haunted before maybe?"
"Kyle never said anything," Bobby admitted. "I have no idea where his journal would be to check either."
"Then we do it the harder way and banish it back to its rest." He went to help Tara do that. Sam took over for him. So he got to hold the baby and watch. She finished and the switch-flipping creature left with a wail of sound and noise. He looked down at his daughter. "See, not that bad." She turned her head to blink up at him. "Hey, um, Sam, didn't she have your eyes before?" Sam looked and groaned, going to get Bobby to get some holy water. They'd need it to depossess her. Then the spirit would be truly gone. Or else Xander would be curing it by dealing with it in a more permanent manner when he went to hell to destroy it all. Dean took the baby to hold while they did the exorcism. John tried but Dean glared so he had to back off.
Buck and Chris watched while Vin finished the report on why the robot had been blown up. It was only their toy to test, not to wreck, so they had paperwork. Chris looked at Buck. "Can you do that?"
"Not really well. I know enough to know when to call someone and identify what it could be if it's one of the mundane things. Not do that stuff." Chris nodded once and got back to the minefield. Once he had checked the switch again. Just in case because he didn't want to go home in a mason jar after a mine blew him up.
Xander sat down across from Faith with Izzy. It was visiting day and the boys had the house, and the minefield, well in hand. "The guard said she was too cute."
"I can agree to that. Are you a kitty, precious?" Izzy smiled and waved. "You make a good kitty."
"She's Auntie Tara's kitty today." He smiled, handing over a new envelope. "New letter, calling card, stamps, that stuff."
"Thanks, X." She looked at him. "They're trying."
"I know. Riley's guys are mostly still okay. Even if Riley is having an issue with some of the vamps." She moaned. "He went to feeding them for a bit to cheat on Buffy. Since she's back and helping them clean up a little bit, until it gets to her again, he's back to doing that. His wife isn't pleased."
"Charming. It's still a soap opera I see."
"I'm in Montana." She laughed, nodding. He put the baby on the table, letting her cuddle her auntie. "They were nice when they checked her over. Made me strip her but otherwise it was fine."
"That's mean of them but I guess I understand why. How are you, Izzy?" The baby beamed at her and leaned over to kiss her on the forehead. "Aww, I needed that. It's been a bad week."
"I asked," Xander admitted. "Are you okay?"
"I only broke up the fight," she admitted. "My cellmate was one and I didn't want to be pulled into it. Let her and her girlfriend fight somewhere else."
"I get that." He leaned on the table. "So, what's going on otherwise?"
"No clue. Wes hasn't been back in a week. Or is there a reason you showed up this time?"
"She wanted to see you before her birthday."
"Isn't that in a few months?"
"Month and a half," he admitted with a grin. "But Montana has snow."
"That explains a lot."
"Plus we've got a few ATF agents who keep coming up to bug us over the former owner's stuff. He did neat things like have a minefield around the house and put stuff into the well to hide the guns. Little things like that." The nearest guard gave him an odd look. "My house's former owner." That got a nod. "We have ATF agents who show up to deal with things for us." He looked at Faith's amused look. "If they wanna remove mines, less chance of me being blown up. Though I did get a deer this year. One came up to nibble so we got the back end." Faith snickered. "Messy too. Izzy squealed in disgust at it."
"Baba," she said happily, beaming at her father.
"I don't have your bottle. The guards do." She pouted at one when Faith pointed at him for her. "You should see her scowl. Even the ATF agent in charge said hers was nearly as fierce as his."
Faith cackled. "She'll be one hell of a girl, X."
"Hopefully. Tara's helping me so I don't warp her into a truck driving, butch lesbian who hates men for being men."
"I saw Red last visiting time and she said she had left her."
"To my basement. She's got a nice room of her own. She's even gotten to the point where she'll talk to the agents instead of running from them. One was very nice and calmed her down the last time she got uber shy." Faith nodded at that. "So that's Izzy. She's grown a ton."
"I can tell. Last time I saw you, you were tiny." She poked her on the stomach. "Still a bit pudgy."
"Her doc said she's fine."
"Good." The baby smiled at her, patting her on the head. "They're saying my next parole hearing is next month. Someone pulled some strings to get it moved up."
"Good. Let's hope you get out of here. If only so you keep your sanity, Faith," he said quietly. She stared at him. "I don't think this sort of environment is good for anybody, even if it is necessary in a few cases." She gaped. He smiled. "I'm a bit deeper than some think." He shrugged. "It's clear you're not eating again."
"It's been nasty crap again."
"Sorry to hear that." She cuddled the baby. He looked around, spotting someone coming in. "You lucky girl you."
She looked where he was. "Red," she said in greeting. "Hey."
"Hi, Faith." She gave her a quick hug and handed over a letter. "From Fred, Wes, and Gunn." She sat down, staring at the baby. "Hi, Izzy." Izzy pouted at her. "Want Auntie cuddles?" She clung to Faith. "You look adorable. Tara told me about the kitty outfit."
"She's nearly grown out of it," Xander said. "Her puppy one too." That got a smile. "We're looking for more cute stuff."
"That's cool. What's up, Red?"
"Nothing much. Wes would be here but he broke his leg last week during a fight."
"Happens to the best of us," Xander agreed. "We can stop in there on the way home."
Willow pouted. "You're not staying?"
"Nope. There's a huge snow coming in four days by the weather reports. I need to get back to the house or I might not be able to get up my road. I live in the middle of nowhere."
"So Tara said. Is she okay?"
"She's fine. She was busy painting the library when I left." He grinned at his oldest friend. "She's been good at teaching Izzy girl stuff." He looked at Faith again. "She's also been working on my cooking skills. I'm pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Thanksgiving went really well." Faith grinned. "I made a *huge* dinner for her other family. Mostly because half of them can close out a buffet like Buffy can after a patrol night." Faith snickered. "Izzy got her first turkey and liked it a lot. Tara had a lot of veggies and stuff for her since she doesn't eat meat. That's when the deer blew itself up for a nibble of grass too so I got field dressing lessons from Bobby and John. He's finally quit giving me dirty looks for giving him a granddaughter. At first it was really bad. He gave me 'you dirty whore' looks and then it toned down from there after a few good mood swings."
"You didn't have to have her, Xander," Willow complained. He gave her a look. She shrank down because she remembered what would've happened. "Never mind."
"Just don't make me have a second one. Tara had to end a spell around my stomach the other day thanks to something that wanted Sammy to have a more suitable heir."
"Hell," she muttered. "She okay?"
"She's fine and Sam went to have his version of a mood swing on it." Faith laughed. A few people looked their way. "Yeah, it was very pretty."
"Damn, X. Still not bored?"
"Many days a week because I need to get the satellite turned on but I waited too long. Now the guy can't get up to the house." He gave her a slightly insane look. "I don't like reading that much and there's only so many times you can clean your guns. Now I know why the ancient settlers had kids every winter; nothing else to do all day." That got a cackle from Faith. "Really. There's not."
"You're so bad," she snorted. She saw someone scowl. "Oh, crap."
Xander looked then at the guard. "There's an older restraining order for her and all her fellow cult members to not come near my daughter," he said calmly. "Because she's the one they consider a saint." The guard nodded. "I'm very sorry if they come over if you don't stop her. I don't want to be mean."
"Let us handle it, sir." He called that in and another guard got put into the room to make sure it didn't come to blows. They went back to talking while Lehane cuddled that cute little baby. The guards were all amused by the kitty suit. She was adorable but not a saint since she was trying to suck on her aunt. He went to get her a bottle the father had left at the checkpoint, handing it over once it had been checked by one of the guys. "She drinks plain milk?"
"Now and then she likes it better than formula. She's having a fussy day. She wants her aunt to feed her veggies." He let Faith feed her. Izzy cuddled her and loved her for it. "Now you can't be picked on for baby hickeys."
"I don't mind hickeys. Better her than my cellmate trying to give me one." They shared a look and he patted her on the wrist. "Thanks, X."
"Soon, Faith. You'll get out soon and find real sanity and all that again," he said quietly. She nodded at that. "And again, once you're ready, we'll come help you. That's not a problem. Sunnydale has real cable and isn't in the middle of a minefield."
"Really?" she asked dryly. "How many are left?"
"After two months of on and off cleaning them out, it's down to about sixty or seventy in the back woods around the fence. I might leave those up since someone tried to break in the other day to get Izzy."
"Job or cult?" Faith asked.
"Neither. He saw her at the store, thought she was adorable, and I was too soft to not stop him. Pity but the Sheriff didn't puke at his injuries. Tara pulled me off him," he said with a sweet smile. "And called the Sheriff. He was very amused that their problem resident was stopped."
"Good job," Faith agreed. "Slime like that don't deserve to live."
He shrugged. "I nearly dropped him on one of the mines but the ATF guy was sleeping in their truck." She smiled and shook her head. "He was not happy either. Tried to scowl at me again. Told him I saw worse on Spike. Who showed up recently." He looked at Willow. "He said he was heading for Dallas."
"We heard. He wanted to eat someone rich so he could have some extra spending cash." She shrugged. "Vampires, what're you going to do about them?"
Faith shook her head quickly. "Now I remember why I slipped over the edge of sanity."
"Hey, I had him as a roomie for a bit," Xander said dryly. "When Giles got in some international booty action, I had to duct tape him in my recliner for a bit." Faith snickered, shaking her head. "I didn't want his blood breath near me or anything." They shared a look.
"He was helpless, Xander," Willow complained. "We treated him badly."
He looked at her. "What kept him from getting a minion to do something nasty to us?" She gaped. "Or even making non-hurting plans. The same things that could've embarrassed us could have hurt us. His chip wouldn't have reacted to that. It didn't when he tried to do it to Buffy."
She moaned, shaking her head. "I didn't think about that."
"That's because you want people to be nice sorts," Faith told her. Willow nodded that was true. "So, X, job?"
"We found some money the former owner had stashed before he died. I'm set for the winter. Though Dean does want me to get a pickup truck."
"Sounds like you could use one."
He nodded. "Definitely if I want out before May or so. I've got my old clunker at the shop anyway. I'll be looking when I go back." She nodded. "That way I get something good on snow and ice."
"Hopefully it'll work for you." She looked down at the napping baby resting against her chest. "She's a good girl," she said quietly.
"She's too much like me for that," he said dryly. "She was taunting the local minister's wife the other day in the store." Faith gave him a horrified look. "She was. She was teasing her and then acting shy and coy, then outrageous to get the attention back." He saw someone coming their way but the guard headed them off. "I personally think she was trying to flirt her into cookies since she smelled some on her." Faith grinned, shaking her head. "I did too. They had a church bake sale. She didn't like fudge so much but she loved the coconut cookies someone made."
"Good to know."
"Like I said, you can show up and bake for her pleasure too, Faith," he said with a grin. "Even if I will feel like I should be in Utah with having two girls in the house."
She snorted. "Not gonna happen that way, X."
"I know that. I said that to Tara and made her cackle though." Willow pouted at him. "She enjoys my mind going odd from lack of things to do."
"You're warping my Tara from a sweet, good girl into some heathen brat, aren't you?" Willow complained.
"No, she's just relaxing finally. It's doing her good. She's barely stuttering around the agents or me. Now and then in town but not around those she's used to."
"That's fine I guess. When is she coming back?"
"That's up to her, Willow. Not like I'm keeping her hostage to fuss over my daughter's clothes." He looked at Faith again, watching her watch Izzy nap on her. "You know, some year you can have one of those wailing, screaming, crapping things of your own," he reminded her. "Then we can teach you how to clean dirty diapers and stuff."
She looked at him. "Not my thing. I'll be a good aunt."
"You're a very good aunt. She loves me to read your letters to her." Faith gave him a dirty look. "She doesn't get to hear the bad stuff, even if she wouldn't understand it." He looked at the door then grimaced. "You lucky, lucky girl you." She looked then groaned. "Council?"
"Yeah. Toady." She shifted the baby to her other side so the side he'd have to sit on would be free in case she had to hit him. The guard shooed off another person coming near them. "What's up?" she asked him when he sat down.
"I came to check on you for Travers." He nodded at the others. "Are you two back?"
"When it's safe for my daughter to be there, I'll be back to back her up," Xander told him. That got a grimace. "We kinda proved the approach worked. Look how long Buffy lasted." He stared him down. "Worship at the altar of cuteness that is my daughter or not, dude, but don't piss me off." He looked at Willow then at Faith again. "I think she's mid-growth spurt. She's always napping and she's not sick. She did the same thing the last one."
"Babies are supposed to grow," Willow said. "Can I hold her?"
"You can hold her later," Xander said firmly. "Faith never gets to hold her." He stared at the council's guy when he looked horrified. "She's a favorite aunt like Tara is."
"We were wondering where the witch had went."
"My basement to be protected by the ATF agents finishing removing the mines from my yard." The guy gave him a horrified look. "It used to belong to another hunter. That's how I got most of a deer this year on Thanksgiving."
"He was probably a bit paranoid. A lot of them seem to be," Willow offered. Xander nodded. "Very?"
"Very. They did finally get all the stuff he hid down the well. Most of it was even waterproof sealed still." He looked at Faith again. "She loves you."
"She's very cuddly and a bit warm."
"It's the heat being on in here." He checked her forehead. "Not sick."
"Good. I'd hate for her to puke on him or something. Might horrify her later." Xander grinned at that. "Why else are you here?"
"Just to check up on you."
"I'm doing fine enough. Food's been crappy lately. My cellmate's having a fight with her girlfriend. The little things that drive you nuts when you can't get away from them."
"I can understand that. I did also come to tell you that the Council has appointed a new lawyer for your parole hearing next time. He's a local boy, fairly well recommended." He handed over the report on him since he was looking overprotective at the moment.
"Wolfram and Hart?" she asked. "Where do I know that name from?"
Willow took it to look at. "You got one of hell's own lawyers to represent her?" she demanded. He looked stunned and a bit horrified. "They're the reason Angel got sent to LA. Because they keep trying to take over the world in that bad way."
"Oh, dear. I'll report that later," he said, taking it back. He looked at Xander, who shrugged.
"What do I know about evil lawyers? The only one I've dealt with is over my parents' estate and they mostly had nothing left."
"I'm sorry to hear about that, Xander," Willow said, patting him on the arm.
He shrugged. "Someone from high school who didn't make it to graduation."
"Oh, really sorry."
"It happens. How's Dawn? I haven't heard from her in a few weeks."
"She's having bad girl problems. Somehow she's got a nasty boyfriend who Buffy threatened to nibble on and even Joyce said it was bad compared to Buffy's tastes." Xander snorted at that. "We don't know why she likes him but she seems to."
"If that's Mark, then it's friendship the last I heard. He's got a crappy family life and she's being his normal person and light to guide him to a better future." Willow looked stunned. "She can have boy friends, Willow. The same as you did. Really. She said Mark reminded her of me when I was younger." He smirked. "Her actual boyfriend's name was Earl I think. One of yours I do believe," he told the watcher, who nodded. "We do know that Dawn is sacred to most of the group?"
"It wasn't intentionally done. It does vex his father and Travers quite a lot so they finally got them broken up last week."
"Huh. Have to stop in and talk to her on the way home then," Xander decided. He looked at Faith and his daughter. "She's really loving your shoulder."
Faith looked down at the spot where the drool had come out. "It washes and it smells better than most of the stuff around here. We're cool." She smiled at him. "Thanks."
"Not an issue. If you want to be snowed in, you can come over too when you get out."
"I might take you up on that. Depending on how Sunnydale is."
Xander nodded. "I can understand that." The guard coughed so he looked at the woman coming over. "Get away from my daughter please," he said calmly. "Only family gets to worship at her cuteness."
"She is adorable."
"Everyone says that," Xander agreed.
"Catter, move away from the child," the guard ordered. "Now. You know better." The prisoner moved away. "Back to your visitors." She scurried back. He looked at Xander. "Good instincts. She's in here for hurting hers."
Xander nodded. "Thanks then."
"Welcome. She is adorable."
"Everyone says that," Xander said with a grin. "I think her Wiccan auntie cast a spell on her or something before birth." The guard laughed. He looked at Willow, who shook her head quickly at that accusation. "You sure?"
"Good." He smiled at Faith again. "If they'd let me, I'd smuggle in food."
"Not allowed," she agreed. "I know. It'll be fine. It was beans all week and I can't stand them. They turn my stomach." He nodded at that. "I'll be okay, X. Quit fussing. I'm not your daughter."
"I'm good at fussing though. She just focuses it until her other family comes to steal her from me for a bit. Then I only get to fuss over Tara until she complains or swats me."
"Get a dog," Faith taunted with a smirk.
"Can't. She's too young for a dog." He shrugged. "Some day. Bobby has a dog he hunts with. He said he'd help me train one to guard her."
"That might be a good idea," she agreed, glaring at someone. "Yes, this is my niece, in quotes. We know she's adorable."
The black woman smiled. "She is but her head's laying funny." Faith looked and adjusted it. "She have problems?"
"A minor cult to her," Xander admitted. "We're all a bit paranoid about her because of them. How many do you have?"
"Three I'll hopefully get to see soon." She patted the baby on the head then left the visiting area.
"That's a sucky situation to be in," Faith agreed quietly.
"In some places, children go to jail with their mothers if no one in the family will keep them," Willow said. Faith shuddered. "Exactly." She looked at the baby. "She's going to wiggle back down."
"She usually sleeps scrunched up into a little ball," Xander admitted. "She likes to try to hide under her Tara bear too."
"You're certainly not the man I was led to believe you were," the Watcher said.
Xander snorted. "Just because I'm cute and fussy with my daughter doesn't mean I don't kick ass very well."
"The same as you can be an ass at home and an uptight ass here," Willow agreed. "Home and in a fight are two different things."
"I'm formerly SIS, Miss Rosenburg."
"I never had that sort of training," Xander admitted. "I got mine from the possession stuff and a few other places, including practice."
"Rupert never...." Willow shook her head. "We expected him to break the rules that far."
"No, I spared his aches and pains by sparring with Buffy a few times but no."
"Pity. You could probably be trained now."
Xander nodded. "If I want to, I can ask her other family to do it. They're very good and they've been hunting for years."
"That's good to know. How did she come into being?" Xander pointed at Willow, who got a scowl.
"It was accidental. I was muttering over the sink."
"Oh, that reason," he said, understanding it now. He had seen that report. Xander nodded. "Is she healthy?"
"Very. She had one massive bout of the flu so far. She had some sniffles last week. Nothing normal babies don't get and we do know that she's a perfectly normal baby. The Host even said so." He smiled sweetly.
"That's good to know. Are you planning on others?"
Xander looked at Willow. "I couldn't even if I wanted to. Adding another realm might destabilize this one."
Xander waved a hand at her. "She did it to me, not my choice. So apparently not since it's not connected anywhere. How long did Travers wait to get my medical records?"
"About two weeks after he found out."
"Ah." He looked at Faith, who was snickering again. He shrugged. "Buffy broke Travers jaw when he wanted to meet Izzy to make sure she didn't have a mole. That was around our first visit with you."
"I can understand that urge now and then. He's controlling and an enema. He's not fun enough to be a douche."
"Quite," the watcher said. "But it's not an elected position. None of us are mad enough at him to hire an assassin yet so we have to live with him until something eats him."
"Don't tempt me," Willow said with a sweet smile. The watcher shuddered. She looked at the baby then at Xander. "Are you still mad?"
"I think she's a great thing in my life, but yeah, kinda. I mean, would you be mad if the roles were reversed?"
She nodded. "I'd never have spoken to you again."
He smirked. "I'm less judgmental than you are, Willow. Look at all the other stuff I forgave."
"Point," she said quietly, looking up at him. "Tara's really happy?"
"I think the boredom is starting to infect her sanity too. I heard her telling one of the agents a dirty joke the other night."
She shuddered. "My poor witch."
"Who learned how to do that teleporting trick from you since she appeared in the backyard one day." He gave her a look. "If she hasn't, then that's her call."
"I know." She pouted but she knew that. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry, Xander."
"I know, Willow. It's why I'm still talking to you." He looked at Faith when she started to get up. "We'll stop."
"I'm shifting to get off the numb parts, X. Calm down." She sat down again. "There, that's nicer." She looked down at the baby. "She's very nappy today."
"Growth spurt," Xander sighed, nodding some. "She'll be hyper all night because of that. Maybe we'll go visit Angel tonight so she can stay up with him and keep him company."
"Gunn would kill you if her and Fred's squealing woke him up," Willow told him.
"Maybe but maybe she'll find the mice that Wesley was complaining about. She did at the house. Woke me up out of a sound sleep squealing in outrage that a mouse climbed in with her." Faith burst out laughing. "Seriously. Grandpa showed up with a gun to get whatever had made her scream that way."
"She's one special little hellion, X," Faith said, giving him the baby back. "There, enough mushiness for the day."
"She sucks it from you," Xander agreed. "I think she's storing up to make a mushiness shield against any bullies she'll face in school."
"She'll have 'em wrapped around her finger in no time," Faith assured him.
"Quite possibly. She does everyone else." Even the watcher was cooing at her and wiggling his fingers to make her quit scowling since the move had woken her. He and Faith shared a look. "Wanna hear about snow?"
"I had plenty of snow in Boston," she told him.
"We only had snow once in Sunnydale. It turned me invisible."
"Ah. So big snow?"
"Huge snow last month. We got trapped at the house with two of the ATF agents, who agreed that people in the old days had babies so they wouldn't be as bored all winter." Willow moaned, shaking her head. "Fortunately I've got a lot of wallboarding to do."
"That's at least something to do," Faith agreed.
"Tara's more than happy to paint once I get a room done. She even did her room finally. I had to take her to the paint place and drop her off for two hours but she relented when I came back for her. She picked out a color and I got it for her. It's now a very pale blue color. Nearly white with a hint of blue."
"That's cool." Faith smiled at the baby, getting a coo back and her holding out her arms. "My arms are tired, sweetie. I'll hold you again before you go." The baby pouted. "Aww. Damn mushy feelings."
Xander laughed. "Sucking more from you," he teased with a grin.
"Definitely but I don't need it here so it was only going to waste anyway. Unless I go coo over the pregnant one on my block."
"I remember that feeling very well." He smiled. "Sometimes you mind and sometimes you don't."
"She does most of the time."
"She's probably scared that someone will hurt her or the baby, Faith," he said gently.
"Maybe. I'll talk to her later in the yard, see if that's the issue." She shrugged. "I'd never hurt a kid. Even when I was bad I couldn't do that." He patted her again, getting a dirty look from the guard. "Chill, dude. I slept with him once. That's the only free ride he's ever going to get."
"Wasn't that free. You nearly threw out my back," Xander said dryly. "Since you were on top...." She actually blushed at that and he grinned. "Good, got you back," he said with an evil smirk. She swatted him but laughed. One of the cult members came over. He gave the guard a look. He tried to shoo them off but they stared at the baby. "Willow?" She glared at the women.
"Ladies, that is my niece," Faith said firmly. "Leave the cuteness alone. Now."
"She's truly a saint. She redeemed you," one said in awe.
Xander looked back at her. "Were you there the last time I had to deal with you guys or just in the town takeover attempt?" They went pale. "Faith is better because *she* wanted to be better. No outside force can make you a better person. She's reformed because she wanted to be. Not because my daughter is so adorable. Now, shoo before I start having flashbacks to the day I had to take her back from your cult." They fled again. He relaxed again. "Sorry," he said with a charming smile for them.
"You were kinda scary from what Buffy said," Willow admitted.
"Just because I pulled the front of their church off and had to go in to retrieve her," Xander said dryly. "Doesn't mean I'm not still scary over my daughter."
"Clearly so," Faith agreed, taking the baby back. Most of them left her alone. Even when she was being bathed in the glow of adorable babyness. "Are we doing anything special for her birthday?"
"A huge cake and stuff. If no one can get in, we'll have a party when they can. Her dad is threatening to have Willow send him there magically."
"I like that about Sam," Willow complained. "He's very hands-on when he's around."
"Yeah, he is." He smiled. "He doesn't resent her and he loves her. Even if she is crapping right now." He sighed. The guard looked and laughed. "We should probably go so the watcher can talk to you, Faith." She pouted. "Use the calling card to call the next time you get phone time. Not like I'm going to be busy. And we'll be back in a few months, when we can get out of the snow." He took her back when she fussed. "I know but your diaper bag is in the rental car." He looked at her. "Sorry."
"It happens. I'd crap too if I had a cult to me and the members wouldn't leave me alone." He smiled. Then he leaned over to kiss her on the cheek before leaving with the baby and her bottle. Faith smiled at Willow. "If you had to screw up so majorly, she's a good one to have made."
"Yeah, she is. But I'm better now, just like you are."
"Good. Gotta say, that shit scares me, Red."
"It does me too sometimes," she admitted. She looked at the council toady. "Anything else?" He shook his head, running off to make a report about what he had heard. She settled in to chat with Faith about the group. She never got the good news. Faith got more than she did sometimes.
Xander walked Izzy into the Hyperion later that afternoon. "The cuteness is here," he called.
Cordelia looked up. "Of course I am. Where else would I be?"
Xander stopped to look at her. "You're not Cordelia." Gunn gaped at him. "Hey, Gunn." He looked at him then handed over the baby. "Can you protect her for a minute?" Gunn nodded slowly, backing away with the baby. Xander moved closer, splashing her with the holy water Bobby had made him start to carry. She shrieked and lunged for him. He grabbed the dagger off her desk and went after her, pinning her after a few minutes. "Knew you weren't Cordy. She's better than that. So either you're possessing her or mimicking her. Either way I'd hop off. Now. Before I have to go Sunnydale style on your ass."
"Xander?" Wesley asked, limping out. "What are you doing?"
"We were sure it wasn't but we couldn't prove it."
"He splashed her with holy water or something," Gunn said, handing Wesley the baby. Izzy smiled and patted Wesley. "Do we need chains, Xander?"
"Probably not." He stared down at her. The demon bucked. Xander rode it and pushed her back against the floor, starting the exorcism ritual.
"Cute from one who's so easily possessed," the demon sneered.
"Bobby helped me fix that, dear. Now it'll only happen if I want it to." He kept going, making her shriek and try to get him off her. "Hmm, not possessed." He looked at the dagger, then twitched his hand so the holy water went down the blade. Then he stabbed her in the stomach. "I've had enough of staking my friends and family. Thankfully for you." The demon turned into a puddle of goo and ash. Xander got up, dusting himself off. His daughter hooted and cooed at him. "Thanks, Izzy. Good to know you still like me." He looked up. "Can we have her back now?" he shouted. Cordelia appeared in a flash of light. He stared at her. "Well?"
"Ugly shirt, Xander."
"Yay. Prove it."
She looked at him then snorted and said something Latin, making Wesley blush. "So there."
He smirked. "But I liked it." He pointed at the baby. "Cuteness alert."
"I can see that." She stole the baby to cuddle. "C'mon, Isabelle. We'll make sure you're a normal girl and Xander hasn't infected you already."
"Tara's making sure of that."
"We wondered where she had went," Wesley said, clearing his throat.
Xander looked at him. "She never learned that word in the other languages we had to know to research." Wesley stomped off still blushing. He grinned at Gunn. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He watched Xander follow Cordelia, shaking his head quickly. Xander was just...strange in too many ways to think about for too long. Him and Cordelia had to be like fire and ice when they were together. "Angel, Fred, Xander's here with the baby." Fred's squeal echoed all the way down the stairs until it caught up with her when she snatched the baby from Cordelia.
"I'm me, Fred, not the demon." She took the baby back. Fred pouted so got the baby to cuddle.
"Don't blow her ego up any more," Xander complained. "Her cult tried to worship her at the prison when I went to see Faith." He sat down, watching them coo over his daughter. Though he did call Joyce's house. "I'm at the Hyperion with Izzy." He hung up. Ten minutes later Joyce and Dawn walked in. Dawn stole the baby from Fred, dancing around with her. "I hear you and the watcher spawn broke up."
"Yup. His daddy made him or else he'd disown him." She looked at him. "Did you correct them on that one issue?"
"Yeah." He looked at Joyce. "She's not dating that one. She said he reminds her of a younger me so she's helping him find a normal, good life."
"I figured she was. It was Willow who was concerned she was dating him."
Xander rolled his eyes. "Figures. No bouncing or shaking, Dawn."
"I'm not. Aren't you adorable as a kitty?" she cooed.
"Way too much cuteness for me," Cordelia said.
Fred nodded. "Only the really young and innocent can get away with that sort of cuteness."
Xander snorted. "She crapped on Grandpa on purpose the last time he was in for the night. He didn't want to get up and help with her bath so she crapped down his arm and shoulder. Then she gave him this shit-eating smile and cooed in his ear." The ladies all laughed at that. "John did help her get her bath that night, like she wanted, and then he got his own."
"That's my girl," Dawn said happily. "You just wrap those nasty boy things around your hand, sweetheart."
Xander looked at Joyce. "We're going to have a lot of snow soon so she's getting in her birthday visiting."
"That's reasonable. I know Montana has a lot of snow." She took the baby from her daughter, weathering the daughter's pout. Izzy smiled at her too. "Hello, Izzy. I haven't seen you in months. You've grown a lot."
"And she's in that sleepy, hyper, wiggling growth spurt stage again," Xander said dryly. "She's going to have Sam's height."
"Sam's only a few inches taller than you," Cordelia pointed out.
"Yeah. Dean's my height." He watched them coo and play with his daughter. "So, how's things beyond the demon not-you?" he asked.
"Good enough," Cordelia admitted. "Coming up on a rare solstice apocalypse event."
He nodded once, then glanced at Dawn and back, getting a nod. "I can do that. Tara could use some help painting and keeping us from being bored."
Joyce looked over. "Are we sure this time? Last time it was nothing but a small earthquake."
"Definitely," Cordelia agreed. "I saw it while I was trapped." Dawn sighed, stamping a foot. "You'll get to help Tara warp her back to a girly girl, Dawn."
"Fine." She took the baby back to babble and coo at. She was the best niece ever and she could teach her all sorts of girl stuff when she was older.
Dawn got out of the new truck. "Are you sure it won't set you back too far, Xander?"
"No, Dawn," he said patiently. "I'm sure it won't." He looked at her. "Get the baby?" She got in to get the baby out, weathering her pout for being forgotten. He opened the door and got the first of the bags of food. "Don't put her down, she'll try to help."
"Sure." She went to find Tara with the baby. She snuck up behind her to hug her, making Tara squeak. "Major apocalypse trial run in LA."
"T...t...t..ta!" Izzy said happily, hugging her too.
"My baby girl," she said, giving her a hug. "And my little sister."
"Wow, living with Xander has done wonders, Tara," Dawn teased. "You're wearing his shirt, pants, which I never see you wear, and not stuttering. Miracle of Izzy's?"
Tara pinched her hard on the arm. "No." She smiled. "I've done a lot of thinking because I'm always surrounded by men here."
Dawn laughed. "I can understand that. He told me I could flirt with the ATF agents when they came back as long as they all blushed and walked off mumbling or moaning."
Tara pinched her again. "How long are you staying for?"
"At least a week. More if we get snowed in. Xander's hauling in groceries."
"And I've got it," Xander called. "Tara, settle her in the guest room?"
"Sure, Xander." She got her settled in back there, with Izzy's help of course. Otherwise the baby would wiggle her way out to play in the snow. She got Izzy dressed for playing and herself, then leant Dawn something to wear too. Then they went to watch him work while playing in the snow with the baby. She loved snow.
Xander paused to look at his squealing offspring. "It's too cold for her."
"It's not," Tara said firmly. "Hush."
"Fine." He carried in the last load then came out to sit down with them. "Hey, Izzy, can I have a cuddle?" Izzy waved with a huge grin. "Yes, hi. It's the daddy. Can I have a cuddle?" She patted his leg and threw snow at him. "I guess that's good enough." He cleared off an area to sit since he didn't have on snow pants, getting down to help her play with the snow. He looked over as another pickup pulled up. "That's the lead agent's truck."
"Cool," Dawn said with an evil smirk.
"He's a widow," he said in her ear. "Go easy on him."
"Fine. Take my fun." Two guys got out. "The other?"
"Pick away. He's a bit uptight but he flirts with Tara to make her blush. Hey, Buck, Chris. Look, a useful vehicle."
Chris looked. "Unless it has four wheel drive, not that much, kid."
"It does. The salesman was very helpful when he heard I lived up here with the baby. I had him put lifters on it too in case we had to go through some deeper snow." Chris looked confused.
"Like the gang kids' cars?" Buck asked.
"Yeah, those. It'll lift it another six inches."
"I can lend you a few CD's to play," Dawn teased. Tara shook her head, rolling her eyes. "It'll be cute. He can be the only thug around here."
"There's two in town but they think I'm tragically old, even though I'm from near LA and can quote their favorite songs better than they can," Xander told her. "You guys, this is Dawn. Buffy's little sister. LA's getting ready to have an issue soon."
Chris nodded politely at her. "Miss."
"Try my name, Agent Stick Up The Ass. Really, I respond to it," she said. Then she smiled sweetly.
"Izzy must've learned that look from you," Buck teased.
She cackled. "Quite possibly. It clearly wasn't Tara."
"I think she learned it from Dean," Xander admitted. "He has a better one than even I do." Both girls threw snow at him. Izzy added to it with a happy coo. "Thanks, Izzy. Good to know you're a girl too."
Chris shook his head. "Okay, kid. Someone said you were buying weapons?"
"I was? Beyond the new shotgun I got at the pawn shop?"
Chris nodded. "They were talking like artillery. Since it came from Caleb...."
"Oh, that must be the stuff I found in LA that Angel said to take with me. It won't be here until tonight. I raided a few demons' nests to get it. Though, did I call Caleb?"
"No, he said his contacts told him you were being more paranoid than the old owner was," Buck said.
"Well, I did make some new mines for around the fence. Hmm." He considered it. "Nope, just that stuff I conveniently found lying around in a demon's lair. And the shotgun from the pawn shop because mine's not in that caliber but we seem to have a lot of bullets in it."
"I didn't know pawn shops could sell guns."
"I don't know about in Denver, but the ones here do."
Dawn nodded. "Some of the ones in LA do take guns in at least. It's on their signs."
Chris sighed. "You will let us look at the new stuff."
"If you want to haul it that bad, Wesley's driving the truck. He should be about six hours from here," Xander offered. "I can try his cell. He might have service."
"We can wait," Chris said. "That way no news crew catches it and thinks that you're a terrorist or anti-government sort."
"Well, now and then I don't like them or what they're doing, but it's too much work to take down DC as a whole to get them all."
Chris looked at him. "You say stuff like that again and I've got to arrest you."
"Fine. Make them leave me alone?"
"Taxman?" Buck asked.
"No, I went to talk to them about the found money. They were more than happy to help me fill out the proper forms and pay on it." They both snickered. "Then I told them I was spending it all to fix up the house. He said he expected a young guy like me to blow through it. I held up my daughter's picture and he cooed. He suggested I put her in pageants."
"Eww," Dawn said. "They dress some of those girls up like hos."
"Which is why I'd never do that," Xander said sweetly, giving her a look. She smirked back. "Keep it up, do high school here, Dawn."
"Yes, Xander." She sighed, looking at them. "See how he threatens me? You guys should spank him so he's better to me." Tara pinched her again. "Hey! Meany! Xander said I could talk to them."
"Behave," she ordered quietly, giving her a look. Dawn smirked back. "Please? They're nice."
"I know." She smiled. "I can pick on you guys, right? Tara seems to think you're like big brothers and I pick on Xander horribly since he's my big brother."
"I fell asleep while pregnant and she gave Izzy a smiley face target to kick," Xander agreed.
"If I end up pregnant I'm going to kill the witch," Chris told him.
"We kept him from ending Willow once we found out where she was hiding as a mouse," Dawn told him. "Why did you get a dark blue truck, Xander?"
"So I can find it in the snow."
"Oh. Makes sense I guess."
"Goes with all my shirts," he teased.
She looked at Tara. "You've done good with him. Cordy would be proud." Tara gave her a look and pinched her again, making Izzy throw snow at her. Dawn laughed. "See, she agrees with me."
"She might but she's still young and I have manners."
"Buck doesn't," Chris told her. Dawn cracked up at that. "What route is he taking?" Xander shrugged. "Didn't plan this?"
"Rent a U-haul and move it? No."
"Fine." He went to make them some coffee and try to find the way into the storage areas from the inside again. He found one but it had boxes. He looked in one and grimaced at the books in Latin in it. He couldn't find any connection to any of the others.
Xander looked at Buck. "How is his stick up the butt? Is Vin hurt again?"
"Yup. Got shot in the shoulder last week. He's fine but fussy."
"That happens to him too," Dawn agreed. "Then we tie him down and baby him until he finally gets free. Then we made him take even more babying until he was better. He quit getting hurt so much."
"I'll have to suggest that to Chris," he said, heading inside. "He's probably looking for the other storage areas again."
"Of course he is," Xander agreed. "Are you guys going to be able to handle that demon on your own or not?"
"The one who wants to eat your local courthouse in Denver because you have one of his spawn on trial." Buck groaned. "Newspaper was beside the phone." Buck went to look. Tara got up to get it for him. He shrugged at Dawn's look. "It's one they'd need artillery for."
"Of course it is. Way to hide, Xander."
"Yeah, well, has to happen so blow it out your butt, Dawn."
"I can't fart on cue." She ducked the swat and got back to playing with the baby. "Hi, Izzy. Ready to go in?" The baby's face was red and cold. "C'mon, let's see if you like cocoa. I make excellent cocoa. Mommy taught me." She carried her inside.
Xander got up with a groan, heading in too. He closed the door behind him, heading to change out of his cold, damp clothes first then to get his own cocoa. "Hey, Chris, Dawn is a champion cocoa maker thanks to her mom. Want some?" he yelled once he had his.
"Cocoa's a good thing," Buck agreed, taking his mug.
"Mom uses it to help vampires talk about their former love lives. Spike was back in town again, Xander." He nodded he knew that. "He came to mom to talk about Dru again because she caught him for a day."
"As long as she's not here," Xander quipped. "Or else Angel can pout when I stake her. However I can get her."
"Amen," Tara said quietly.
Dawn smiled at her. "That says something coming from you, Miss Wicca."
Tara smirked. "The sentiment's the same even if the deity isn't." She sipped her cocoa. "I need to finish painting your room." They went to do that while the baby wandered around the living room by scooting on her little wheeled cart.
Buck watched her. "Doesn't want to crawl?"
"I think she's waiting for everyone to be here again. She likes to rock back and forth to make the little platform go." He shrugged. "She's my kid so she's a bit odd. I didn't expect anything else to happen." He called Wes's cellphone. "Where are you? Home. Dawn and Tara are painting. Izzy's scooting around. Someone told the ATF I had those so they want to peek." He nodded. "Basically. They already know, Wes. They're the same guys who've been going over the minefield. Sure, we're here. How much longer?" He nodded. "That'll work. Thanks, man." He hung up. "Two hours. He's at the off- ramp from the interstate."
"That's fine," Buck agreed. "Shouldn't take us too long to confiscate something. How would you take on that demon?"
"Burning it from the inside out. So either a laser or something that'll explode and ignite thermite in their chest." He took a sip.
Buck nodded. "Know anything like that?"
"I do, yeah. I only have one though." Buck gave him a look. "Only if you're really nice, Buck."
"We could've busted you on suspicion of having artillery."
"Fine." He went outside, going to the secure area. He pulled up the spike then opened the door, ducking in so he could close it again. He held it down when he heard the snow crunching outside. When it went on he walked over to find the case he wanted, looking over as the door opened. "What?"
"More boxes of books?" Chris asked, closing the door to keep the heat in.
"Something like that. You mind?"
"A lot. You scare me."
Xander smiled. "You say some of the sweetest things but I don't think I could hit on you, Chris. You're my type but I'd almost rather have a hunter who understands what I've seen." He turned back around at the horrified look on his face. "Not like everyone knows what it's like to stand there and stake someone in the heart. It's a bit more personal than shooting them."
"I'd guess it was. Probably like stabbing them would be." Xander looked up and nodded. "So you like the Winchester boys?"
"They're good friends but if I went gay, they're still straight." He found the one he wanted and pulled it out.
"Illusions?" he demanded.
"Yuppers. Because you're a nosy SOB. Must come with the job," he said dryly, handing it to him. "I need one more thing and that's for Buck." He moved back to the back case, finding what he wanted in there. He bounced it in his hand to make sure it was full. "Crap, I thought I had a full one." He searched, but nope. He sighed, settling in to fill that one.
"You're...filling a grenade?"
"The demon about to attack Denver needs to be burned at a high temperature as close to from the inside out as possible. Buck needs it to take it out before it eats your courthouse for having one of its spawn on trial."
"How do you know that?"
"Oh." He watched him. He had a good hand. "Thermite?"
"Yup. Hottest burning thing I know." He finished and put in the detonator cap then wired it shut. He weighed it, staring at it. "I know I forgot a step."
"Tamping material?" Chris asked.
"No. Ignition source," he moaned, opening it to lay that in too. He had to empty it and start over again but that was fine. Then he reclosed it and handed it over carefully. "There. That'll fire that." He looked at him. "Welcome."
"What's in the other room of books?"
"I think those are actual books." Chris gave him a look. "Really. Half the research books are in Latin, Chris. Not like I have a library upstairs. Well, I have a library room but nothing unpacked in it yet." He gave him a look, taking the launcher from him. "C'mon." He led him out, replanting the stake in the hole once they were out and the door was closed. They walked out to the truck, letting Chris put the things where they should go. "Cushion that better." Chris took off his sweater to do that so it was fine in the tool compartment of his truck. Then they went back inside to get more warm drinks. "It's in his truck."
"Welcome. Hate to see it if it got on the news."
"He filled the launchable grenade in front of me," Chris said.
"Of course he can," Dawn agreed from the kitchen. "He made most of our higher weapons in Sunnydale. Buffy didn't like guns." She looked at him. "All sorts of stink grenades and things to clear nests."
"That's a different version of our light and heat one that I used to use on nests," Xander agreed. "Don Epps saw that one at work. He's in the LA FBI office."
"I'll tell him you said hi," Chris said. He looked at Buck, who shrugged. "How many armorers are there in the hunting community?"
"No clue," Xander admitted. "My only weapons contact is Caleb. Most of what I need I can find in a nest or make it. Except that one time back in Sunnydale when we needed something in a mall."
"No, Xander," Dawn ordered. "That's probably going to get you in trouble."
Chris looked at her then at him. "Would I be horrified?"
"Caleb was." He smiled as he took a drink. "He didn't think it was possible either until I showed him how. It wouldn't be your agency's job though."
"Yeah, I definitely don't want to hear that one," Buck decided. "Hold on, in a mall?" Xander nodded. "Blue thing?" Xander nodded again. "I saw that episode."
Xander smiled. "It was a decent enough double date. Me and Cordy went with another couple since one of them had a car."
Buck shuddered. "Thank you for getting that for her."
"Not an issue. Dawn, are you making food?"
"I can." She got to work on that for them. They were hungry, hard working guys. They needed good sandwiches. Then she brought Tara one and took the baby with them so she wouldn't be infected by the weapons talk going on. Izzy wiggled her way out again. "Fine, don't cuddle us," Dawn called after her. "Xander, incoming."
"I hear her. C'mon, Izzy. Daddy's got lunch meat." She cooed, wiggling as fast as the board would let her go. Chris picked her up and handed her over, getting a smile for it. "That's a good girl to smile at him for his help." He handed her some of the lunch meat, letting her suck on it until it dissolved in her mouth.
"You're insane, kid," Buck said.
"It comes from hunting and Sunnydale both." He gave him a bland look. "I could be more insane but then I'd have to be a girl."
"Probably true," Buck decided, eating his sandwich. He looked down when it wiggled. "Tara, I wasn't being mean. Please don't put goldfish in my food?" he called. He plucked it out. Chris checked his but it was still normal.
"Wrong witch," Dawn called. "Plenty of us are mean, not insane, thank you."
"I didn't mean it that way," he called, checking before taking another bite. He didn't want to eat a goldfish ever again.
Xander leaned closer. "Just think, I got to hunt with her sister and Willow for *years*."
Buck patted him on the back. "There's retraining programs so you can find a more normal life," he offered. "That way you don't think clothes thoughts."
"I heard that," Tara called.
Buck sighed. "He said it." His food changed back and Xander went back to eating. "Don't pick on me. I'm the nice one."
"Wouldn't hit on you either, Buck. You don't love my weapons like I do."
Chris moaned, shaking his head but stuffing his mouth before he could suggest something.
Buck, well, he was in a picking mood. "You could try for Ezra but I think he's straight."
"He's a nice guy and I think he could understand hunting pretty well but I don't take him as settling here in the middle of nowhere or watching me hunt. Maybe you should take that advice?" Buck blushed, shaking his head. "He'd suit you pretty well and you're already close."
"Too fancy for my tastes and too male, Xander." His phone beeped with a text message, making him look at it. "I forgot we planted that here." Xander pointed at the bug. "I remember now." He took it off and put it into his pocket.
"I took the one in my room out already. I didn't think you needed to hear me have naughty dreams."
"No, not really," Chris agreed. "The person who transcribes it for us enjoyed it though."
"Happy for her then," Xander quipped back. "I'm known for pleasing my ladies."
"Before or after they try to kill you?" Dawn called.
"Before. I tend to walk away afterward."
"Then explain Cordy and Anya?"
"I didn't please either of them once they were unhappy with me."
Chris groaned. "Please?" he begged. They changed the subject for him. This kid was going to drive him insane. Maybe they should just set off the rest of the mines? Be done with it? When the truck got there he nearly ran outside to see what it had so he could get some sanity back.
Dean pulled up in front of the house, looking at it. Sammy was off with his dad and Bobby doing something mystical; Dean wanted a cuddle. He got out and snuck into the baby's room, picking her up to cuddle. "Hey, princess." She blinked at him then snuggled in to go back to sleep on his shoulder. He sat in the rocking chair.
Xander walked in a few minutes later. "What's wrong? Someone die?"
"Sammy's off doing mystical crap with Dad. I was feeling a bit bummed, I'm between hunts, so I came to check on her."
"You never have to sneak in, Dean." He grinned. "She's good at that." He left, going back to his own room. Dean knew where the beds were in the house. He laid down, listening to Dean move around Izzy's room. She was being a comforting thing so it was good to him. He heard Dean put her down and head for his usual room and Dawn squeak.
"Sorry, Dawn. Didn't know you were here." He went to the other guest room instead. She was cute in those jammies but way too young. He stripped and stretched out, getting comfortable. Izzy made unhappy noises and since he was up he was the first one back there. Xander came in a minute later with a warm cloth. "Diaper rash?"
"Big time. She put snow down it and it got way too wet before we realized. Then the rash popped out the next day." He took her to change, cleaning her wet butt off with the warm, soothing cloth before putting on the cream and new diaper. "There. How's that?" She smiled and waved at him. "Hi, Izzy. Ready to go back to sleep?" Dean picked her up to rock her some more. "Sure, you can do that." He threw the washcloth into the hamper in there, then went to wash his hand and go back to bed.
Dean looked at her. "You are so spoiled, Izzy." She snuggled into his neck, liking how he smelled. "Want to go back to bed?" She nuzzled him. "No, that's not a bottle." He tried to put her down but she fussed so he took her to bed with him. He was tired, she'd be fine. He had slept with Sammy plenty of times over the years. She snuggled into his chest, getting comfortable with her favorite uncle. "Night, sweetheart."
"No, no baba. Not right now." She pouted. He stared down at her. "In the morning. It's not early yet. Wait until it's bright." He held her better and she drifted off against his chest. Dean let himself sleep too. It was a good night for it.
Xander walked out to the kitchen, handing Tara his keys and some money. "Go do girl stuff." She pouted. "I haven't gotten to hold my daughter in days. Take Dawn and do girl stuff, Tara." She sulked all the way out to the truck with Dawn in tow. "Dean, want breakfast?" he called. No answer so he went to check on him. He got the camera and snuck back, taking pictures of her sucking on her uncle. "Hey, Dean, don't flinch," he called. Dean did flinch a bit but she batted at him, going back to her sleep sucking.
Dean looked down, smiling. "Does my chest taste good, Izzy? Those don't work that way." He pried her off, making her fuss. "Quit. It's time for food."
"I think she knew what she wanted," Xander teased with a grin. "It's clear she'll be het and very picky."
"Of course. Only the best for my niece." He got up, handing her over. "Let me put on a shirt." Xander walked off with her. He spotted the camera. "Please don't show Sammy, Xander?"
"I'm not. It'll go into her photo album."
Dean groaned but got dressed, heading out to breakfast. "Where's the ladies?"
"I handed Tara two hundred and told them to go do girl things. I hadn't gotten to hold her in days."
Dean laughed. "Good to know." He settled in to watch him cook. Izzy was doing the same. "You don't mind?"
"No. I don't mind," he assured him quietly. "Sometimes you have to relax from the hunt."
"Not a problem. You're her most favorite uncle." He looked back at him. "Did you feel her doing that?"
"Nope. Not a bit. Not even a dream of someone sucking on me. Sammy did it once but he was a few months old."
"She's a special girl," Xander teased, kissing her on the head.
"In that very special way," Dean agreed dryly. "It's good that she'll have such great taste."
"We'll have to find her someone who smells like you."
"I don't stink."
"I meant your natural scent, Dean. She sniffed someone in the grocery store because he had on the same aftershave."
"Did you sniff too?" he joked.
"No. I could smell it."
"Since the birth they've been pretty open." He popped out the toast and handed over a plate. "Hers." Dean settled in to feed her while Xander made them breakfast. "We need to get her some new clothes. She's nearly outgrown everything."
"Bobby's getting her clothes for her birthday."
Xander called him. "Izzy's in a growth spurt," he said in greeting. "Dean said you were getting her clothes for her birthday. She's already in eighteen month clothes and moving up from there, Bobby. That way you know what to get her." He smiled. "That's fine. No, I sent the girls off so I could have my own daughter for a while. Dawn had a lot of fun picking on Buck. Sure, I'll have her call." He hung up and called Dawn's cellphone. "Have Tara call Bobby. He needs witchly advice." He hung up and got back to frying eggs. Izzy was humming in between bites.
"She's definitely hoovering this stuff down."
"Yeah, she does that now and then." He came over with their plates once the toast was out, settling in once he had some milk. Dean smiled at that touch. "It helps. We need strong bones as much as she does."
"I definitely do. I hit way too many walls thanks to things throwing me."
"I hit gravestones all too often."
Dean nodded. "I can understand that." He fed her the last bite, then dug into his own. She made begging noises so some of his went to her too. It made her a happy baby. He grinned and went back to shoveling food in. "What still needs done around here?" he asked through the food.
"Not a lot, but don't teach her to do that. Tara will swat her." Dean shrugged a bit, looking sheepish. "Not like I care, Dean. I was raised by animals. I don't care if you're talking out your butt while licking your ears." Dean grimaced, shaking his head quickly to clear that image. "I don't but she will."
"I can work on her manners. I did most of Sammy's home training."
"Sure, if you want. I think she'll mostly do okay." His daughter reached for his toast so he tore off a piece for her, letting her happily gum it to death with her two teeth. "We think she's been waiting to crawl until you guys were here."
"Could be. She knows who spoils her the most beyond Tara." He nibbled a bite. "Why is Dawn here?"
"LA's going to have issues. They wanted her safer."
"Yup." Dean groaned, texting that to his father and Ellen. He put his phone up. "Your dad?"
"And Ellen. A lot of hunters go there between jobs to talk and compare stories." Xander nodded at that. "So, what're we doing for her birthday?"
"The usual stuff. If no one can get here, we'll do her official party when they do get here. We're supposed to be snowed in soon. But I did get a pickup like you suggested."
"I saw. It was shiny."
"It's new and I had them put a lift kit on it."
"Like in the rap videos?" Dean asked, looking confused. "You flip a switch and it goes up?"
"Yup. That'll lift it another six inches if we need it to go up. It's got air bladders so it won't short out in the snow."
"Huh," Dean said, nodding some. "Interesting idea." He went back to eating, letting Izzy steal a piece of his toast too. She beamed and nibbled, babbling at them about the toast. "She's really mouthy today."
"She's having a happy day. Her favorite auntie here with Dawn, who she's liking a lot for helping her pick out her clothes. You're here. She probably thinks Sam's hiding from her and you're going to make him show up."
"He'll be here in a week or so," Dean told her. "Yeah, your daddy will be fine."
Xander smiled. "She was so good when we got snowed in with Buck and Chris for a few days. They even agreed with me that the old timers had so many kids because they had nothing else to do all night."
"And no birth control."
"There was a form of condoms around but they weren't that popular."
"Yeah. They had condoms back in Ancient Egypt made from sheep and goat intestines."
"Like the lambskin ones, Dean."
"They feel nice. Anya liked them."
"Heard from her?"
"She showed up with Hallie when she got her powers back because she now had a conscience and didn't want to hurt people anymore."
"She back to being human?"
"She's on probation but she'll be fine." He smiled slightly. "She's a tough girl. She worked for and schemed her way into what she wanted." Dean nodded, stuffing some eggs into his mouth. At least until Izzy squealed in outrage and threw some wet toast at him. "Yes, dear?" he asked dryly. "Problems?"
"Here," Dean said, feeding her a bite of egg.
"Baba?" she asked.
Xander got up to make her one of juice handing it over. "All you had to do was ask."
She leaned over to suck on his cheek then went back to her bottle. "She's going to have more personality than most girls," Dean said. He fed her another bite of egg when she made begging noises with her mouth open. She smiled and went back to her bottle of juice. She smashed the rest of her wet toast in her fingers. "Will she need a bath?"
Xander looked then shrugged. "A washcloth should do. There's one on the faucet." Dean got up to get it and put her on the floor so they could finish eating without help. She patted Dean's leg until he handed over another piece of toast. She wiggled onto her stomach and then wiggled her way to her platform. She wiggled and rocked her way to the window.
"She should be crawling."
"She will be soon, Dean. She's mobile very well. She scoots around on her board all the time. I think she's waiting to show off for Sammy and you."
He looked then grinned. "Well, I'm here."
"Then give her incentive." He grinned back. "Tease her until she crawls or walks over to beat you for it.
"I can try that later. What's with the little baby roller platform?"
"Buck suggested it when she kept trying to move but never made it. He said Chris's son had one before he died. It was like a pre-walker."
"Not a bad idea."
"Did they get the thing in Denver?"
"Yeah. It was on the news. Their boss is probably not happy. I heard the boys all got drunk that night thanks to it. What were they using?"
"A grenade launcher. I modified the grenade to blow thermite so it could be burned quickly." Dean gaped. He smirked back. "They were here to check out the stuff I found in LA that Angel said he wanted out of his city."
"Quite a bit. They only took the artillery, not the swords or that stuff, or the gems or money." Dean gaped. He gave him a smug look. "A few were doing some very bad deals. Angel was happy to have them gone. Fred wanted some babysitting time to see if she wanted to be a mom someday. Dawn had to pack. Buffy was bored. So it went and Wesley got to groan all he wanted."
Dean shook his head. "You're an insane nest raider, Xander."
"I know. But I like it."
"Need help with your inventory?"
"Nah, nothing else to do around here."
Dean smirked. "You need the tv on."
"Yeah, I know. He can't get up here to dig the post hole."
"The dish can hang on the house."
"He said it can't."
"Uh-huh. We'll talk to someone else. One of the official companies."
Xander shrugged. "He has my deposit but hasn't cashed it yet."
"It's in my bank account. It hasn't been cashed yet."
"Good. Then he's honest."
"Yeah. He's scared Kyle's haunting up here too."
"Fear of Kyle is a good, reasonable thing. He was seriously one of the scarier hunters I've ever met. He scared me all the time because I kept wanting to dive into the well to see what he had down there. He'd sneak up behind me and scare the living shit outta me."
Xander grinned. "I feel that way about Spike." Dean cackled. "I do. That's why I tied him up when I had to have him as my roomie."
"I understand that. Even chipped it didn't make him totally helpless or unable to plan."
"Willow had a guilty conscience about that."
"Yay her." He looked out there, watching her watch the snow fall. "We need to turn one of the storage areas into a garage."
"We can do that." He and Dean got up, Dean grabbing the baby so she wouldn't be upstairs alone. It was a bit chilly so they all put on sweaters and shoes, but the clearing of the garage went well enough. Dean got to pull his baby in there by lunchtime. By then, the girls were back and had done a lot of baby shopping for him. "We could've done that," Xander told Dawn.
"We checked with Bobby so we didn't duplicate." She picked up Izzy to dance around with, making her giggle. "What did you do today?"
"Cleaned out a space for Dean's baby," Xander said, taking her back. His daughter smiled at him. "I know she loves you but you're my girl and not hers." He looked at her. "Go grocery shopping since you won't let me cook anymore?" She sighed but gathered Tara since Dawn didn't drive. Xander handed over more money. They hiked off to the pickup in the snow.
"Be careful out there," Dean called after them.
"They used the money this morning to go baby shopping so I sent them for groceries. That way they can do girl things without male input or getting in the way."
"It's fine with me. Estrogen is fun to be around but you're nearly smothered in it."
Xander gave him an insane grin. "When has it been different?"
"Maybe I'll get stranded here for a few weeks so you remember guy stuff. Before you start to interior decorate or something."
"Who do you think decorated this place? Tara only painted, Dean."
"I'm sorry, dude," he said, patting him on the shoulder. "If I had known, I would've shown up sooner with wings and beers."
"Not so big on the beers, but wings are nice."
Dean called Dawn's phone. "Pick us up some guy food so we can do guy things without you girls doing girl things around us to pollute our manliness, Dawn. Wings, that stuff. That's fine. Thanks." He hung up. "Tara's not twenty-one?"
"Um, nineteen? Almost twenty I think."
"That explains that." He swung the girl around, making her cackle and babble at him. "That's my niece." He put her down, letting her get comfortable. "Now, we should do something nice, huh?"
"If you're going to tempt her into crawling, set up the video camera. Your dad wanted it."
"I can do that." He went to grab it and set it up, then sat down while Xander checked the view. Then Xander came to sit beside him. Dean held up the teddybear he had gotten at the same time. "Want your Tarabear, Izzy?" She looked at him, then reached out for it. "You gotta crawl, niece. You can crawl if you can use that strange walker without a seat." He waved it. She pouted. Xander waved her bottle, and she made begging noises. Dean put them together. "Come get 'em, Isabelle. You can do it. Most girls are very good crawlers."
"Eww, mental image I did not need," Xander muttered.
Dean looked at him oddly. "Stripper floor show?"
"Yeah." He shook his head quickly. "I need to date again."
"Yup," Dean agreed. "You do." He looked at the baby, who had wiggled closer. Xander got up to put her into the right position and show her how it went then they scooted back a few inches. Izzy scowled but tried what the daddy had showed her. She tried really hard and crashed on her chin, making her cry. Dean stopped Xander from going to her. "C'mere, you can have all the love you want, Izzy. You know that. Your daddy Sammy will like it if you crawl. He'll see it." She stared at him. "C'mere," he ordered, patting his lap. She scowled again and got back up, crawling forward to take her rightful lap spot with her baba and Tarabear. She huffed as she crawled into her uncle's lap, giving him a dirty look as she got what she wanted.
Xander leaned down to hug her. "I'm so proud!" he cooed, kissing her on the head.
She looked at him then gave him a shove. "No!"
He laughed. "That's a new word." He kissed her on the head again. She gave him another shove then snuggled into her uncle's lap. He was mean to her but not that mushy.
Dean looked down at her. Then he gave her a hug before putting her down and moving away again. Xander checked the viewfinder then sat beside him. "C'mere and you can cuddle some more." He patted his lap.
Xander found a book, waving it. "Want a story?"
"That definitely worked on Sammy. He used to like to try to hide inside and under things. Books brought him into the open all the time." He patted his lap again. "C'mon, princess." She huffed but crawled to them. She stared at them so Xander settled in to read to her. Dean turned off the tape after the story was done, putting her onto the couch. "Pretty soon you'll be walking and then you'll be a real holy terror."
Xander looked at him. "Don't remind me. I think that's why some parents intentionally handicap their kids, so they can't become holy terrors." Dean cackled, shaking his head. "You sure?"
"Yeah, they're just sick." He looked at the camera then at Xander. "Still got DSL?" He nodded so Dean got up to plug the camera into the laptop he had stolen from Sammy so he could send it to Bobby's computer. They'd like that one. It went with a note reminding them of the baby's birthday. Plus that if they couldn't get there they'd throw a party for her when they could. He looked outside. "It's getting nasty."
"Tara drove during the last white out. They'll be fine and take it really slowly. And hey, now they can be followed around too." He got up and went to the bathroom, looking down when he heard a noise. "Hi, Izzy. Coming to help in the bathroom? Some day you'll do this too." He peed then shooed her out while he flushed and washed his hands. He followed her out. "She's very helpful."
"I'll remember to close the door," Dean said. "You let her watch?"
"Not like she'll understand and maybe it'll make her want to potty train sooner. Then no more diapers."
"I could like that," Dean agreed. He got back a message from Ellen, who had gotten the video forwarded from Bobby's computer. "Ellen said we were mean to her but it was a good job. Jo didn't crawl for another two months."
"That's fine. I think I crawled earlier." He shrugged. "She'll do it when she does. The doctor said she's on target."
"Good." He smiled at the cuddly girl. "You tired again? Are you sure you're not sick?"
"She's having a growth spurt and it's time for her morning nap."
"Ah. I love schedules sometimes. So now what?"
"Now, we find something to do so we don't go nuts."
Dean looked up something, hooking the computer up with a program that let him watch tv on it. He handed it over. Xander leaned over to kiss him for it then decided to watch an episode he hadn't seen of a show he liked.
Dean shook his head. "Silly bitch," he muttered.
"Been called worse by Willow."
"I figure you have," Dean agreed dryly. "How is she?"
"She and Faith have been talking about life rehab and how it's going." He looked over. "She's pouting because Tara's here."
"Figures. Any idea if she'll try it again?"
"She said there's no other realm that could be merged." Dean nodded once at that. "So we're good. Unless she decides to do it to me the normal way." His phone rang. "What's up?" He listened. "That's fine, Dawn. We know it's coming down. Take it slowly and inch here with the hazard lights on."
Dean got up. "C'mon, we'll head out to rescue them." Xander pointed at the baby. "Ah...." He grimaced. "Damn."
"Yeah. They're on the road here. They just turned off the main road."
"Then they've only got two miles," Dean agreed. "Inch along on the middle of the road." Xander repeated that. "Go as slowly as you want with your hazards on." Xander told her that. "I'll meet them at the gate." He put on his coat and boots to go meet them. It'd take them nearly an hour but that was being cautious. "Sorry, if we had realized it was that bad, we would've went with you two."
"It's all right," Tara said calmly. "I was giving Dawn a driving lesson."
"That's not a bad idea. We can up those skills once it's clearer out." He drove them to the garage and backed the tailgate inside, letting them unload from the warmth in there. Then he parked the truck in the sheltered side of the building and closed the garage door again. He jogged inside, getting a mug of coffee and a hug from Dawn, and then a hug around the ankle from his girl. "That's my princess," he said with a grin. "See, you like being more mobile than that platform thingy. Huh?"
Dawn looked down. "You're finally crawling?"
"Yes she is," Xander agreed. "She got the point earlier. She was also very curious about the bathroom." Tara snickered but picked her up to hug her. "You two go do girl things here. Do your hair and stuff." They sighed but gave him the baby and went to do that. He looked at Dean, who could only smirk. "C'mon, sweetie. We'll go watch some Deal or No Deal." He took her to the couch so they could watch the laptop together. "New mail." He opened it and snorted. "Sam said we're both evilly mean to her."
"Sammy can kiss my ass," Dean said.
Xander let him type out that message to him. Then he took it back to go back to his show with her.
Sam snorted at the retort he got. "Dean said he's not mean, he was tempting her to finally crawl because she was waiting to show off for us."
"He probably was," John agreed patiently. "He got you to crawl for a story." He patted his younger son on the head. "How's the weather there?"
Sam checked. "It's a good idea to have a pickup. Dean's probably stored the Impala in a garage. It's a near blizzard."
John groaned. "I don't want to miss her birthday."
"We can make it tomorrow," Bobby said patiently. "Tara just got back from getting groceries. She said the road's passable but scary."
"That's fine," John agreed. "We can probably make it in the pickups." Bobby nodded. Sam looked at him. "You're going to miss your daughter's first birthday?"
"Not if humanly possible. I was going to see if Willow could magic me there if I had to."
"We should be able to drive it tomorrow but we've got to bring some supplies. The girls are good but probably not planning for a good snowed in time," John said. He looked at Bobby. "Coming?"
"Only if I can get back out. I can't leave this place closed all winter. Even I've got to eat."
"I know that. If not, we'll take plenty of pictures and you can spoil her the next time you see her," Sam promised with a grin. "She'll expect it. Dawn's been teaching her how to be a demanding girl according to Dean."
"All girls are demanding somehow," John said wisely. "Even your mother." Sam rolled his eyes. "Jess wasn't?"
"That's good; maybe we can warp the little one closer to that," Bobby said. He didn't know how she wasn't since his wife had been a demanding, nagging one.
"Dawn said she's got to go home sometime. Unfortunately her mother has a date tonight so Dawn's pouting and the thing in LA is about to go down soon."
"Take your joy when you can. She's not a hunter but she knows enough to live by the creedo," Bobby said. He went to get himself some coffee. "Anyone want something warm?"
"Please," Sam said, getting up to get it himself.
John sent an email to Ellen, getting back a reminder of when Isabelle should be doing some normal things. She'd be walking soon and driving them all nuts.
Dawn watched the newscast from LA, tipping her head to the side. "Too bad it was during the day so the vamps couldn't help."
"They got the tail that was still underground," he said, pointing at it. She nodded, leaning on his shoulder as they watched the laptop's screen. "At least it wasn't going to finish eating the city." She hummed but nodded. Izzy crawled out so she pulled her into her lap. "Look, Izzy, it's the auntie and the uncle fighting the huge scary monster." Izzy stared then scowled at it, beating at the image. He smiled. "That's right. It was bad."
"Clearly since it made the news," Dean agreed. His phone rang. "Yeah?" He listened then snickered. "I'm so sorry, Buck. Want some tranquilizers? I think Xander has some darts still." He cackled. "Sure, send Sammy up once he can drive, man. Thanks for the head's up. Bobby with them?" He nodded, still smirking. "Go ahead and taunt him. Send him to Ellen when he gets too cranky. Have fun with that, Buck." He hung up. "Dad and Sammy had a small crash outside Denver. Sammy's fine. Had a small concussion and a few bruises from the seatbelt." He took a sip of his cocoa -- they were out of coffee. "Dad has a broken leg in two places. He's in a thigh to ankle cast on his right leg so he can't drive."
"He'll grump us to death," Xander complained.
"He can't get up here anyway. Buck's going to put up with him for a few days then send him to Ellen when he gets too cranky." He shook his head. "Sammy will be up later tonight. He can drive. He's just sore."
"John'll be okay, right?" Dawn asked, giving the baby a squeeze.
"The last time he complained so much Sammy called him whiny." He walked off smiling to tell Tara that. She'd want to fuss over them so she could go do that magically.
Xander and Dawn shared a look. "If you ever get pregnant, don't let anyone give you the looks he gave me," he said quietly.
"I'd mood swing and kill them." She gave him the baby and went to call her family to make sure they were all right. Plus when she could come home because she was going to go insane soon with nothing to do out here. She even mentioned that having Izzy here and nothing else to do was making her think about having one of her own. Willow appeared to grab her and her bag. Xander waved. Tara gave her a hug. Izzy scowled at Willow for taking her playmate, but Willow still took her and Tara off. Dawn grinned when they landed. "Cable tv and things to do," she said in relief, getting a swat from Tara. "Even you've been going insane, Tara."
She nodded. "I have." Buffy gave her an odd look. "No cable. Only Izzy, painting, and Xander or Dean."
Buffy nodded once. "No wonder you were so bored you were thinking about breeding. I'm not to be an aunt for many years, Dawn."
"Whatever." She went to put her stuff in her mom's car then hug her mother. "How was your date?"
"Not bad. It was a business dinner but it wasn't bad."
She snorted. "Yeah, he takes you to a romantic restaurant for a business dinner, Mom. Even I know that one." She gave her another cuddle. "Did you guys get film of Izzy crawling?"
"It's in Cordy's email," Tara said quietly. Fred went to find it. Cordelia came out of the kitchen. "Hi."
"Hi. Back to civilization?"
"For a few days. Her birthday is in two days."
"I left my presents for her on my bed," Dawn told her.
Tara nodded. "I'll make sure she gets them." Fred squealed so she laughed. "It's the only way she'd start. Now she follows people everywhere."
"They had to tempt her into it," Dawn told her mother.
"I had to do that to Buffy once or twice before she got the point too." Buffy walked off rolling her eyes. "It's not mean, it's practical, Fred."
She huffed. "I'll have to show that to Faith when we go up to visit." Tara smiled. "She loves her niece."
"So do I but Xander wanted his own daughter for a while," Dawn told her. "He kept trying to send us out to do girl things so he could have his daughter back the day of the blizzard. Thankfully Dean's there so he's not going to go fully insane. Dean even hooked up cable to his laptop so he can watch some shows."
Fred shuddered. "I lived without tv."
"Yeah, but you were busy all day," Dawn pointed out. "Xander isn't that busy all day long."
"He's going to go nuts," Cordelia decided.
"I nearly did," Dawn quipped. Her mother swatted her but gave her a squeeze. "Thanks, Mom."
"We'll save you from making me a grandmother anytime soon, dear." Dawn grinned, showing her the pictures she had of Izzy on her camera. They all cooed over the cuteness of the group's niece.
Gunn came down the stairs. "Back again, Tara? Hi, Dawn."
"Hi, Gunn. We were going nuts up there with nothing to do but play with Izzy. I nearly wanted to have one," Dawn told him. She let him have the camera. "Pictures?"
He looked at it. "That's a nice spread."
"He's got ten acres," Dawn told him. " Most of it now without mines. Buck and Chris can't get the rest until this spring they said. Too much snow."
Gunn shuddered, flipping through them. "She's crawling?"
"We have video of it," Fred said cheerfully. "They were evil and mean to tempt her. What's with that platform?"
"She used to sit on it and rock back and forth so she could get to the window and stuff," Dawn told her. "She basically slithered everywhere before they showed her how to crawl." She grinned at Gunn. "John and Sam had a small booboo accident. John's got a broken leg near those ATF agents they know."
"That poor agent. He's going to be insane," Fred said. Dawn nodded, snickering some. "Sam all right?"
"Small concussion. They were coming up for the first birthday."
"I can see how that'd be an important event," Fred agreed. Joyce nodded quickly. "We need to send presents back with Tara." The other ladies nodded and went to pick up something. Willow got hold of Faith to see what she wanted to send so they could pick it up for her. Then Willow and Tara got to talk and argue. Willow wanted her witch back. Badly.
Xander looked up as the door opened, smiling at the man standing there. "Don't you dare let her escape to play in the snow in her jammies." Sam went to grab his very determined daughter, bringing her back inside to cuddle. She was squealing and pointing but letting him cuddle her. "Good time, Sam."
"It stopped snowing," he admitted. He shut the door and sat down with her, just cuddling. "I missed you."
She looked at him. "Meme?"
"Yes, I missed you." He kissed her on the nose, getting a grin back. "I saw you're crawling. I'm so proud of you, Izzy." She snuggled in to hug him back.
Xander grinned, going back to his show of the moment. "The girls disappeared thanks to Willow. Tara should be back sometime soon to either pack, if Willow demands she come back, or to bring presents for her birthday."
"She deserves great presents. I've got mine, Dad's, and Bobby's in the car." He grinned at her. "What're you doing?" She wiggled again so he quit holding her so tight. She patted his shirt until he took off his outer shirt and hoodie, making her look up at him, then get under his t-shirt to make him laugh. "What are you doing?" he said, looking down the neckhole. He suddenly yelped and put her down as he stood up to tuck in his shirt. "Dear, those don't work."
"Fair warning, she's been fascinated by nipples recently," Xander said dryly. "Izzy, we're not going to feed you that way. You can't have those." She pouted. "Go pout at Uncle Dean." She fussed. "Let me guess, he's napping?" He looked at her. "Go wake him up, it's his turn to make you a baba." She got put onto the floor when she tried to slither down, crawling that way looking very determined. "Sorry, Sam." He grinned. "She found them the night Dean got here."
"Did she get him?"
"He let her snuggle in with her that night and she woke up hungry." Sam gaped. He nodded. "It was cute." Dean yelped. "Sam's here."
Dean came out carrying the baby. "She's got your dirty mind, Sammy."
"She got under my shirt too, Dean."
"She was tugging on my boxer briefs to get me up. Nearly pulled them off my ass. For a second I thought it was an incubus." He shook his head but made her a bottle since she was chanting for one. She squealed in happiness like her auntie did, taking it to drink. "There, go cuddle the daddy?" She crawled out with it in her mouth to get her daddy to do the cuddling stuff again. Which he did as soon as she got within range. He looked around. "Tara not back yet?"
"Not yet. Gunn sent an email that the girls were shopping for birthday presents for Izzy." He grinned. "Dawn left hers on her bed?" Dean went to look, coming out with one that was slightly damp on one corner. "Ah, she does snoop. Put them in the closet with mine, Dean." He did that. "Sammy said it quit snowing."
"Finally." He looked at his niece. "You good, niece?" She beamed and waved. "Yeah, hi. No trying to get me naked. You're not gonna be the easy sorta girl I like."
"I don't care if she's easy as long as she's careful and not a slut," Xander said patiently. "A bit easy is fine though. As long as she's enjoying it and being very careful not to catch anything, especially not a baby."
"Sorry, but I want my daughter to be the sort to not give out until she's sure she's sticking with her boyfriend for a very long time," Sam told him. "That way she's a good girl."
"By then she'll be figuring out if she wants to hunt or not," Xander pointed out, looking at him. "And sex gets looser every year, Sam." Sam scowled. "Yeah, she may wait, but we can only give her our views on when sex is a good thing and when it's not. It's up to her to interpret it. So as long as she's not the town slut, I'm not going to be too unhappy. Three different boys in the same week is bad."
"No. Boyfriend and only boyfriend."
"When it's time, we'll tell her that," Dean said to break up the argument. He looked at Xander. "You waited."
"Willow drove off everyone I hit on if my geekiness didn't."
"Oh. Sorry, dude."
"Not your fault. I got plenty on my road trip." He looked at Sam. "If she were a boy would you say the same thing?"
"Then again he's a prude," Dean pointed out. "I had to talk his first time into pouncing him." He went to finish getting dressed, coming back out to put on his socks. Izzy held up her feet. "That's right, I put socks on you this morning," he agreed with a smile. She smiled back and went back to her sucking. "She's very smart."
"Yes she is," Xander agreed.
"How're we doing her vaccinations?" Sam asked.
"The few that people worry about have an alternative. She got those instead," Xander told him. "Just in case since the evidence isn't specific in either direction." That got a nod. "Those are considered safer and just as good for the reasons."
"Good," Sam decided, looking at her. "You're a bit pudgy."
"She's at a good weight according to her doctor," Xander said patiently. "Quit second-guessing me and him, Sam. She's fine, healthy, and all that. On target emotionally and physically. If she wasn't, you would've heard."
"Sorry, Xander." He nuzzled her hair. "How about a hair cut?"
"Did that last week. I saved you some since you're such a mushy girl," Dean said patiently. He glanced at Xander. "You put some in the baby book?"
Sam smiled. "Then all we have to worry about is her first birthday. What're we cooking?"
"Fish," Xander said. "She likes it. It makes less of a mess than spaghetti."
"She stole some of my fish sticks and kept trying to steal my whole plate," Dean agreed. "So that, some bigger pasta, Xander?" He shrugged but nodded. "Then the cake and ice cream?"
"I need eggs to make the cake and some frosting. Tara forgot to pick some up."
"If it stays clear tomorrow we can pick that up," Dean agreed. "Your pickup should make it."
"The main road's mostly clear," Sam said. "The one up here could use a plow."
"If I had a plow blade," Xander told him. Sam smiled. "I have a truck now. It should work." That got a nod. "That means you can watch her tomorrow, Sam?"
"Good." He went back to his tv show, rewinding it to where he had forgotten to pause.
Dean smiled when Sam gave him a funny look. "I hooked him into one of those services where you can watch tv on your computer because he doesn't have a dish hooked up."
"He's going insane," Xander agreed. "No sex, not a lot of work to do, no tv, only one radio station and it's a country one of modern country, which I don't like, and only Izzy to play with."
Sam nodded quickly at that. "Sure, I can see why you're insane."
Xander gave him a smug look. "I said going insane, Sam, not already there." Dean snickered but Xander went back to his tv on his computer. "I even got onto a conspiracy site and helped a few of them with some trajectory problems since theirs were wrong. No way their target got shot from where they thought because the bullet was at the wrong angle."
"Buck called and said to keep you off them; you caught one group that was planning something," Dean told him. "He had to explain you were bored and knew guns, and their whole team knew who you were. You were just bored."
Xander looked at him. "I figured one was a future problem since I hadn't heard of that noted figure before. Since it looked like it was in a city I passed it onto the email they have to send things to the NYPD. I figured it was probably there and if not, they could find out who it went to." He grinned and went back to his watching.
"Yeah, Chris called and said to get you off the computer for the day. That you needed to be grounded," Dean agreed.
Xander shrugged. "Was I right?"
"Chicago actually and they warned someone up there. Did you remember to tell them that the new mines are better and you got more of a deer this time?" Xander paused the show to email that to them. Then he went back to it. Sam was giving them a very strange look. "One of her cult tried to get in while they were up here. We had to hold the rest of the stump closed while they sent for an ambulance. Chris said it was paranoid, but reasonable, and he could only mine along the fence but they wanted a safe passage map."
"I only did the back of the fence and off to the right side by the river. I did give Buck the map last time, right?"
"Yeah, you did."
"Good. Plus they have the old one of the things that need to be cleared. They were going to pull those this spring." He looked at Dean. "Did he own down to the river?"
"Yeah, but he decided to build his fence with a gate back there so he could go down to the river but it wouldn't be a weak defensive spot."
"Makes sense to me. Especially with the water nymph down there that wanted to play when I was surveying." He shrugged and went back to watching his show.
"Izzy won't get into those, right?" Sam asked.
"No. They're only on when we turn on the security system here at the house," Dean assured him. "When we're outside with her, we turn it off and have a keychain remote thing to turn them back on if we have to. Buck's boss approved of the design since it was safer around her but kept the cult members away."
"I guess I can understand that. What if someone harmless wants to fish at the river?"
"It's a lot easier to get to the river from up the road," Xander said with a point. "That neighbor doesn't have anyone in the house and there's a shorter walk. Plus most of the townspeople know that Kyle had mines on the grounds. The Sheriff said so when I asked that question." He shrugged. "It'll be fine. He has a safe passage map too and he knows to call. And why we put the new ones out."
"Good. I guess." He shrugged. As long as Xander didn't get thrown in jail. His daughter was giving him godlike looks again so he was happy enough to sit and cuddle her. "That's my girl, Izzy."
"She's been your girl for the last few days by having diapers nearly as bad as yours," Dean said dryly. "Thanks for changing the next few, Sammy."
"I can do that." He wasn't scared of diapers. Not anymore. "We really do need some noise around here."
"I talked to the satellite guy and he said he'd come out to put the dish on the sheltered side of the house on Monday, if the road was clear," Dean offered. Xander gave him a hug. "I know you're going insane. So am I." He looked at Sammy. "You ready to get back on the road soon?" Izzy pouted. "Not right now, Izzy, but later on next week."
"It's been a nice vacation," Sam offered. Dean nodded. "But yeah, kinda. Too long with Dad."
"I can see how that'd be bad, but you guys know you can be here as long as you want or need," Xander told them. They grinned. Then Izzy made a stinky butt and Sam sighed, taking her to change. "Potty training is done how?" Xander asked Dean.
"She'll start to get curious. She'll want to run around naked. Then you encourage, bribe the hell outta her, and get her to the point where she can tell and control it at night." Xander nodded. "But there will be accidents. Sam had one in the car and Dad nearly screamed at him. It was his fault for not wanting to stop to give him a potty break but Dad wasn't really rational that day. They do happen though."
"Okay. I'll keep that in mind. Almost everything is washable around here." Dean grinned at that. "Izzy makes a mess. I'm realistic about that."
"Good." He gave him a nudge on the leg. "You'll be fine once we're gone."
"The dish will be on then."
"We're due to have a hard winter. I need to stock up."
"Yeah, you probably should," Dean agreed. "We can do that tomorrow." Xander nodded. "And possibly find you some chains for the truck."
"I have those in the case under the back seat."
"Decent." He went to check, finding Sammy teasing her belly. "She's going to pee if you don't cover it," he warned.
"She already did. That's why I'm teasing her."
"Xander's thinking ahead to potty training."
"Years yet," Sam said with a grin for him. "By what I saw online."
"Two or three is normal," he agreed. He came in to clean her up again, then handed her back to Sam. "After you change clothes too. Washer's in the basement." He went back to the living room. Izzy crawled after him to pounce his ankle, making him smile. "Hey, princess." He picked her up, tossing her lightly into the air. "Happy today? You'll be a year old in a few days. Does that make you happy?" She squealed and wiggled so he tossed her up again, catching her. "There, how's that?"
"Don't let it shake her," Sam complained.
Dean looked at him. "Dad did it to you and it didn't hurt you any." He took her back to the kitchen to get something to nibble on then out to the living room. She pouted at him so he handed it to Sammy, letting her wiggle over to get her snack from him.
Xander looked over. "Is that the last of the sugar free pudding?" Dean nodded. "I'll have to start a list." He moved to another screen and worked on that. "What else do we need?" Dean got up to look, coming back with a short list. Xander put his down on it and it was good. Xander went back to his show. Izzy fussed. He looked over. "What? Want to cuddle?" She snuggled into Sam's arms. "So cuddle him."
"You're not playing with her."
"I'm waiting for him to put her in her snow gear," Xander said dryly. Sam beamed and went to find it, coming out to put the wiggling one into her snowsuit. Then they all went out to let her play in it. Sam got down to play in the snow with her while Xander brought out coffee for them so they could help.
Dean nudged Sam, pointing. "Deer."
Sam pulled Izzy up to point for her benefit. "Look, it's a deer." She cooed, waved, and squealed. The deer's head lifted and looked around. "No way is that a normal deer," Sam decided when it didn't run.
Xander looked. "No, it's one of the forest spirits." He waved. "It's nearly her first birthday," he called. "You know we won't be hurting you guys." It came closer to sniff then her. It stared at Izzy then turned and walked off. "Watch out for around the fence," he called.
The deer looked back at him then snorted and walked off again into the trees.
Xander shrugged, settling next to her. "It's good that the forest sprites like you, huh?" he asked her. She threw snow at him. "Thanks." He threw a little bit back at her, earning an outraged squeal and her doing it again. It turned into a baby snow fight but that was what made her happy. She even got Dean a few times, making him scoop up some to toss back at her. They let her win of course, because they wanted her to be happy. Xander looked over as a brownie appeared. "What's up?"
"You own here now?"
"I do. I'm Xander. This is my daughter Isabelle. We call her Izzy. These are Sam and Dean."
The brownie looked at them then at Xander. "The last one did bad things."
"I only hunt things that're causing problems," he said bluntly. "I used to live in Sunnydale."
The brownie stared. "You worked with the blonde that babbled?"
Xander nodded. "I did. You might want to warn your kind I put up things to make the ground explode by the fences to keep those who want my daughter out."
"We saw and can feel." He stared at her. "She's cute."
Xander smiled. "Thank you. She'll be one in three days."
He laughed. "That's a good age." He looked more closely at her. "Perfectly normal but you can feel the magic that went into making her." Xander moved his shirt so the brownie could see the surgical scar. "Ah. No wonder." He patted her on the foot, getting a happy smile back. "She's adorable."
"We know. Everyone says that," Dean agreed. The brownie smiled. "Are we causing you guys problems?"
"No, not in the least. Though you might want to be careful. There's another bad snow moving in."
"By tomorrow?" Xander asked.
He nodded. "Probably by dusk."
"We're going to stock up tomorrow morning. Should we leave you something?" Xander asked. "I've never met one of your people before."
"We take care of ourselves."
"That's fine. If you need something, come tell me. Or if you hear an intruder out that way, please?" The brownie nodded. "Thank you. Feel free to raid if you need food this winter. I'll get some honey and some powdered milk so I can make up bowls."
"That'd be nice," he agreed. He patted the baby's foot again. "You be safe out here. Without the road being plowed it'll be a bad ride tomorrow."
Xander nodded. "I'm looking at getting a plow for the front of my truck."
"Good boy." He smiled at Dean. "Do be safe out here. It gets lonely. That's part of what drove the last one over the edge of reason."
"We're finding them noise before he goes nuts too or wants another baby," Sam promised with a grin.
Xander shuddered. "Bad thought, Sam."
"Sorry, Xander." He smiled at the brownie. "We'll check back as often as we can on them since she's my daughter too."
The brownie nodded. "Of course she is. She smells like you." He looked at her then at Xander. "You don't mind sharing your forest with us?"
"As long as you're peaceful and don't bother or hurt my daughter, why would I? I only hunt things like vampires, who hurt others."
"Not all do."
"I worked with Angel and Spike," he said dryly. "If others aren't feeding either, they have nothing to fear from me."
"Good!" He smiled and looked at the girl. "She'll do normal things I think. I can't see the soul of a hunter in her."
"I'd welcome her to become the most mundane person ever," Xander said, smiling at that information. The brownie nodded and bowed then left. "Wow," he said, looking at his daughter. "He loved you too. You just make everyone love you, Izzy." She smiled and threw snow at him now that the strange creature was gone. He laughed, doing it back.
to part 4