Demon Criminal Investigative Services: The Consequences of Willow.
Horatio walked into the new building for the Slayers Council, looking around. It was still being fixed. They were doing some nice looking things though. He saw someone coming his way. "DCIS."
"Gentlemen, what can we do for you?' the watcher asked. "Mr. Giles is a bit indisposed." John Winchester walked in. "Hmm, problems with a hunter?" he asked.
"No," John said. "Problems with a witch and we heard Giles got his brain sucked again."
The watcher puffed himself up. "There are no such problems here. I can assure you of that."
"Then we'll be seeing Mr. Giles immediately," Horatio told him. "That way we can settle this matter."
"I'm afraid you can't. He's not here right now."
"Buffy!" John called. She came jogging out of the back. "Where are they?"
"Giles is on his office couch. We just put him down for a nap. Willow's out back." She glared at the watcher when he made shocked noises. "Yes, the tentacly thing got Giles again and Willow summoned a very high level demon to take out something minor," she said. "Plus there's evidence of coercion," she told John. "For some reason Cho's here and so is Kennedy. She woke up this morning wondering why she was here and went back to Vienna on the first flight out. She had no idea how she had gotten here."
"Wesley thought there might be by the way you sounded when he called," he agreed more gently. "Let's go. Horatio?"
"Check on Giles, give us a report," he ordered. They headed out back. The annoying one got put into a closet by Buffy.
"He's being a bastard and I won't let it be around the girls. He doesn't like that but oh well. I'm about to sic Wes on him." She led them up to Giles' office, tapping before walking in. "Hey," she told the slayer sitting at the desk. "They came to check on him."
"Hi, John." She bounced up to give him a hug. "We can't find the stupid thing."
"Let me check him over so I can call Chase if we need to."
"Dawn didn't answer her phone," Buffy said.
"McKay's people had a medical emergency, she had to move some meds for them," he told her, getting a nod back. "She'll be busy for at least the next few days." He squatted down to check Giles' pulse and respiration. "Did it knock him out?"
Buffy nodded. "It did at first and then this time we knocked him out because he was wandering in circles saying 'whazit' over and over. It kinda got annoying and we decided he'd probably like us to knock him out since he was that bad," the other slayer said.
"That's fine, Kyria. It's not a bad idea." He called Chase. "It's Winchester. I'm here looking at Giles. Not too good. Whatever's gotten him did a number." He found a sucker mark on his throat and looked at it. "Looks like it had a tentacle to attach to him. Buffy called it a brain sucker, so did Kyria. Said he was wandering around in circles saying the same word over and over," he added. He listened then nodded. "Buffy, can you find this thing?"
"I have no idea where to find it. We've searched the room where he got bit the last time."
"Did you check the air vents?" Jon asked.
"It's really tiny. We've shined lights into the ones we could."
He considered it. "Is there some way we can get some of Dean's small little robots attached with a camera? It'll be a delay, yeah, but it'll have to happen with Dawn helping Carson and them, Chase. Good. Tell him I need that to search tiny air vents. We can switch out. I'll send you Giles, you send me the robots. Thanks, Chase." He hung up and looked at the girls. "If you had told us about this the first time, we would've already sent it, girls."
"We thought we had it once," Buffy admitted. "Then it got free somehow and disappeared. We don't know how. Willow had it and it somehow got free."
John just nodded. "Okay. Are there any portal sort of demons local?"
"Um, no idea," Buffy admitted, looking at Kyria. "Go find Kalazar's people and ask them? He tends to keep track of everyone in town?" She nodded, hurrying to do that. "Local demon club owner."
"I'm proud of how you've handled Cleveland, Buffy. I know Wes was too." She smiled. "C'mon, let's let him rest. We'll come back in a minute. I want to make sure Horatio's team isn't being beaten to death by Rosenburg."
"Is Xander all right?"
"He heard and his arm started to ache again," he admitted quietly. "I don't think she's attacked him since then. I know she was giving Cordette bad advice. She's had some bully problems. She ran away to where Xander was helping negotiate a warrior clan's marriage with House. They barely got back and House had to leave again with Carson." He walked her out to look out the window she pointed at. It looked down at the backyard. "They're not out there yet?"
She grimaced. "Let me check. You keep an eye on Giles." She jogged down the stairs, heading for the back door. She found them in the kitchen, frozen. She nudged one, getting Eric free. He seemed the easiest distracted. "Get them free."
"H," he said, waking him up. Speed got nudge by Horatio. He got Calleigh up too. She had come with them in case they needed more 'Xander style' finesse. Or weapons. "Thanks, Buffy."
"Not a problem." She walked out with them. "Willow." She looked up, putting her finger in her place in the book she was reading. "They're sending Giles to the base to treat him."
"He'll be fine here."
"He won't be," Horatio said, hands on his hips. "I think we need to talk, Miss Rosenburg."
"About your summoning a higher demon to handle something," he told her, moving closer.
"It was necessary. The girls were all tired, Horatio."
He stared at her behind his sunglasses. "Why were they tired?"
She shrugged. "I don't know."
Buffy looked at her. "I don't remember you doing that."
"You told Wesley she had," Speed told her.
She grimaced. "I did?" Horatio nodded. "When did Wes call and was it about something important?"
"Xander heard about the brain sucking demon at the wedding he helped negotiate," Speed told her. "He told Wes so he called."
"Oh. Okay, I guess." She rubbed her forehead. "I have a headache."
"Let John check you over," Calleigh ordered. She nodded, going to do that. She stared at Willow. "Are you going to say she got attacked by the same brain sucking demon?"
"She might have. Giles looked about like that after his first one." She shifted. "I'm not doing bad things, guys."
"How many people got endangered by that summoning?" Horatio asked calmly.
"How many people might've died if I hadn't," she shot back. "Kyria saw it. So did Cho."
"Why was Cho here instead of her house?" Speed asked. She stared at him. "She's supposed to be in India, Willow. Why was she here? Dawn didn't log in sending her over."
"Maybe Dawn forgot. She was here when I got here."
"Things like that Wesley logs," Speed said calmly. She glared at him. He stared back. "Do you know that you screwed up Cordette so badly she ran away to find Xander?" he asked.
"It's just bullying. We all went through it." She snorted. "I had plenty to deal with."
"If you had listened, you probably would have done the same thing Xander did and call CPS on her friends," Horatio told her. She glared. "Some of the points she had were very valid, Willow. They should not have called her a lesbian because she hadn't hit puberty yet or gotten in trouble by going out to see boys. Like they were. Or let the teacher help her cheat, like she was."
"She never said anything about cheating, just that the girls were bothering her," she defended, starting to sound huffy.
"They were trying to get her into trouble by making her ten-year-old self go to the mall without a guardian and go grope boys," Calleigh told her. Willow glared at her. "They've since been stopped. Xander went to have a good yell at the teacher and told CPS, plus Alan and them. Alan got the teacher and principal fired for what you thought was simple bullying."
"Alan's overprotective," she said, waving them off.
"No, he was right to do so," she corrected. "Xander was right to go to CPS about the other kids too. Sam Carter made sure the right educational people heard when Xander called her to help with the educational stuff."
"Why would she help?"
"She's a slayer too," Horatio reminded her. "Xander asked her for her expertise since she was local at the time."
"That's Xander, highly overprotective," she snorted. "And jumping into things."
"If it's bad enough to make her run away, that's more than just some minor bullying," Speed told her. "I saw plenty of bullies in my time, Rosenburg, and this was worse." Willow snorted again. "Whatever, not why we're here."
She glared. "I didn't do anything wrong! The girls were tired!"
"That doesn't give you the right to summon higher demons to handle things," Horatio shot back. "There's other ways."
"I don't do guns."
"That's not our fault, and you could have called for backup from Faith or any of the other girls," Calleigh pointed out.
"There wasn't any time."
"Summoning a higher demon takes at least an hour," Eric told her. She glared. "It does. We've seen the whole process in the past. It takes at least an hour for the lowest of the higher demons unless you had something of theirs to call them personally."
"The Council has the marks of a few of them. I did a shortened version," she defended. She shifted again.
"There's no shortcut version according to Thomas," Calleigh said.
Willow glared. "I learned how to do it in Sunnydale, Calleigh. I had to do a lot of things the fast way out there."
Calleigh nodded. "Hmm. That was never logged in and the witches in the Devon coven said that you can't do that either." She shrieked and threw something at them. The protection the witches had sent at them blocked it. They had called while they were flying out to say they had heard and were protecting them from their former student. "That's what I thought you'd say."
John stepped out with his shotgun, getting her in the side with it. She screamed in pain as she doubled over to hold the injury. "Rock salt, hurts like a bitch but does no real damage," he said when Horatio gave him an odd look. "Too much pain means she can't focus." They moved forward to handcuff her with the cuffs that zapped at your hands so you couldn't cast anything. She started to chant.
"Can we cocoon her?" Eric asked, covering her mouth.
"I don't think that's legal," Horatio admitted. "We can sedate her however." John knocked her out for them. "Thank you."
"We're sending Giles back to the infirmary. He's fully gone from what the girls said. We're getting little robots to check the vents."
"That's fine. We can take him back if you want," Horatio offered.
"I don't want them on the same plane. She's been around him often enough and he's in the sort of state where she could animate him and make him do her bidding. Since he's got magic too...."
Horatio nodded. "That's reasonable. Let us take her back."
"If she crashes the plane, I'm making sure she's unbuckled so she gets thrown around," Speed said, smirking at her body. "Any other cheery news?"
"Some of the oldliners are causing the girls problems. One came in to complain to Buffy."
"Handle it, John," Horatio ordered. "Call Wesley and handle it."
"Xander's second-in-command," Calleigh reminded him with a grin.
He smirked back. "He can come out with the robots then." He went to make that call. Dean had apparently anticipated it and sent him with them. And a sedative for Willow. "Horatio, they're sending Xander with the robots and the sedative."
"Good." He walked her inside. "Eric, Calleigh, do her room. Speed, find her workroom. I'll watch her." They nodded, going to do that. One of the younger slayers led Speed to her work area. Another led them to her room. He nodded politely at the man stomping in. "She's going back to the base to face charges."
"Figures," he sneered. "They're both wrong."
"You do remember Xander is second-in-command after Rupert?" he asked. The man stopped to gape in horror. He nodded. "It goes Rupert, Xander, Wesley. Wesley didn't want the hassle."
"He can't! He has no idea what we do!"
"You mean besides training the slayers for their duty, hunting beside one for years on end, and dealing with their current crises?" Horatio asked. The man huffed off. He waved at his back. He hated some of the oldliners. A lot. That was not going to make anyone happy when Xander got there.
John met the plane, taking the box from Xander. "They're waiting to sedate her so they can leave."
"Of course they are," he agreed, walking over to the lounge where Horatio and Willow were waiting. He handed him the package. "From Chase. Already drawn, just snap off the protective cap and inject into a muscle."
Horatio withdrew the needle and did that, making her whimper. She fell asleep within a minute. He looked at him. "Thank you, Xander. Beware, they don't like you."
"They're in for a really rude shock since that sort of demon has to be summoned to this plane." He walked off with John. They drove back to the new headquarters, making him grimace. "Gothic much?" he sneered.
"Very," John agreed. "But it does suit the girls. It's huge."
"Good. They'll need it." They parked and got out, Xander carrying the robots inside. "Morning," he told the watchers. "Let's find the sucker so it can be sent home."
"What?" one demanded. "Who're you?"
"Xander. As in the second-in-command, DCIS agent Harris." He stared him down. The man backed off looking horrified. He looked at the gremlin who used to help Thomas, who had bugged Horatio earlier. "I looked up brain suckers with Thomas." He shuddered. "Who summoned it?"
"It has to be summoned," he said, handing over the information from the top of the box. "John, it'd like a slightly moist but not really damp, and really dark spot. It likes dark more than light. That's why I put on the infrared cameras and the night vision scopes." He handed them over. "They also like high places. They like to feel winds through their tentacles from what one book said."
"I'll start up in the attic," he said. He nodded for the girls to follow him, getting all but one. She stared at him. "C'mon, you're good with electronics."
"I wanted to hug Xander."
"That's fine. You can help Xander," he agreed. He knew that look. She was going to protect Xander. "Xander, Dean said Cordette did very good. He got to watch the video and was impressed by how she's been trained." Xander grinned.
"Your girl?" one asked.
"No, the youngest active slayer," he told him. "We've been helping her foster family train her since her big brother is FBI." He shuddered. "She came to see me when I was negotiating a warrior clan's heir's wedding. They mock battle at theirs, did you know that?" He grinned. "She's only ten but she did very good during them." He looked at the guy who was puffed up to say something. "Get it out now."
"You have no authority...."
"Wesley put me ahead of him and Giles agreed," he said bluntly. "Because I'm still the one doing all the admin stuff. Including paychecks." They all backed up at that. "I don't want to have to turn into an asshole, guys, but who summoned the brain sucking demon?"
"Perhaps it was Rosenburg," one said snidely. "It appears she's in trouble for that magic crap."
"Willow's a very strong witch but it takes three casters to summon one from another plane and another to anchor it here," Xander said bluntly. They all glared. He shrugged. "Those are the facts as recorded in the books Thomas had in the Carribean library." He looked around at the idiots. All seven of them. "Now, who summoned the demon?"
One lunged at him with a fist balled up. Xander side-stepped and knocked him down with a fist to the back of the neck. He looked at the others, seeing them coming at him. It turned into a brawl. The slayer got there in time to get the last one. Xander got the others down. "They do suck," she told him.
He nodded. "We know. Thomas has the good ones at the base." He grinned at her. "Thank you."
"You need it. You're a guy," she said, patting him on the cheek. "Girls are always stronger." She kicked the one that tried to move. "It really had to be summoned?"
"Yup, sure did. We'll search their rooms soon."
"I'll make sure the other girls know that." She called one. "It's me. Xander said it had to be summoned, it takes three summoners and an anchor to hold it here." She nodded. "They're all down. They attacked Xander when he said that. Thanks. Don't leave John alone, just in case." She hung up. "Two of the girls will break off to check the other rooms."
"That's cool." He gave her a hug. "Get me cuffs?" She went to do that. He stared down at them. "How could you hurt these girls, your sacred charges, by doing such things?" he asked quietly. "It could have attacked any of them."
"It can't attack virgins," one huffed.
Xander leaned down. "The girls are uninnocent enough to play with a malicorn," he said bluntly. "Binky loves all the girls, even the virginal ones." They all went pale. "The slayer calling taints them so they're not pure even if they are virgins. And half the girls here aren't virgins anyway." He straightened up, staring down at them, arms crossed over his chest. "Whose bright idea was this?"
"We're not saying anything," one said firmly.
"That's fine, you can argue your case in front of the judge at DCIS." They all glared. "Not like we have enough watchers for a tribunal," he said dryly. "That takes five and with you seven idiots doing this, we're down to only six with me." He grinned. "Fucking morons." He took the handcuffs from her. "Thank you, my dear." He cuffed them, then let them sit up. "Anything else you've summoned to come bite Giles or us?"
"You'll see," one sneered. "That whole abomination you work for will fall and the slayers will be back where they belong. Being trained as they should be."
Buffy came down the stairs with a book. "No we won't. I'll kill you all myself and Faith will help me before it comes to that." She handed Xander the book. "It's in there. We found that in one's room."
He nodded, looking at it. "Fairly comprehensive summoning book. How's your head, Buffy?"
"Hurts a bit but I realized earlier I was missing memories. I think I've been thinking too hard and that's why I've got a headache."
He smiled. "Did you have it checked?"
"Yeah. I made sure it wasn't something like what got Mom the last time I had a bad series of them," she said quietly, looking at her. He gave her a short hug. "Thanks, Xander. Are we going to be okay?"
"We're going to be fine. We were when it was just me and Wes with you girls." She relaxed and nodded. "Now we have Thomas, the Winchesters, and the other good watchers he kept with him." She smiled. "It'll be handled. We'll just have to hire for quality next time instead of proper breeding. Dawn'll be out in time to handle some of the younger girls as they start coming into their powers."
"Even better. How is she doing with the stuff with McKay and Carson? He's the hotty doc with the accent, right?"
"Yeah, that's Carson," he agreed with a small smile. "They're there working on it. Somehow they got a mass case of diphtheria. I just got back myself." She nodded at that. "I had went up to get the temple's help. They made sure I knew I was needed here. Then they helped me get back here in time to deal with this mess."
"Good." She batted him on the arm. "We never have cocoa anymore."
"We can do that while I straighten shit out around here." She grinned. "Matt said if I had to I could hire him to interim run things for a few days." She stared. "He's off work for about a month due to a shoulder thing. He helped with the original PT duties at the base."
"I heard about him. The girls said he was cute and Benny Ray was a hotty with a gun."
He grinned. "He is, and very tough too." He looked over as the doors were opened, nodding at the young woman standing there. "You are?"
"One of the few female watchers," Buffy said dryly. "That book was in her room."
"Huh." He held it up. "Want to explain that?"
"Why were you searching my things?" she demanded calmly in a British accent.
"Because the brain sucking demon had to be summoned," Xander told her. She went pale, gripping the door. "Did you have any involvement in that?"
"No!" she said, moving closer. "I had nothing to do with it!"
"Good, then you can help the girls and John hunt it down," he said. She nodded. "He's upstairs. Any idea where they could have summoned it?" He saw her hesitate and stared at her. "Where?"
"There's a small room that we don't use at the end of the hall our resident rooms are on. One of the workmen said that he had seen some chalk dust on the floor but they haven't done anything to it yet."
"Huh. Did Giles make a report?" She shook her head. "Then we'll look. Horatio said there's lights that'll expose that sort of thing. Thank you. Help Buffy."
"Who're you?" she asked.
"Oh. You're the second-in-command." She glanced at one then looked at him. "Are they in trouble?"
"Just a bit," Buffy said blandly. "They attacked Xander too." She led her away. "John's starting upstairs."
"That's fine. I heard they like heights. I was doing some minor research through Thomas when Rupert was first hit."
Xander watched them walk up the stairs, then looked at the slayer, mouthing something. She nodded, going to make that call from the office. "What are we going to do with you guys? Beyond taking you back to the base to face charges?"
"You can't do that, we didn't do anything illegal," one said, trying to get free.
"I can switch those out for the cuffs that block magic," he offered. That one stopped. "If you had nothing to do with the summoning then you're only guilty of trying to overthrow the head of the council and assaulting a federal agent." They all stared. He wiggled his fingers with a smirk. "I am a Fed since I do work for DCIS as an agent." They all scooted back. "Good idea." He looked behind him at the forming portal, frowning. "Hmm. Who're you?" he asked.
"That seems to be a popular question today." He walked out and threw his cloak hood back. "I'm looking for Rupert?"
"He's going back to the base to be treated in the infirmary," Xander said. "He was attacked by a brain sucking demon. It took out part of his conscious mind."
"Oh, dear. He called me last week about something important."
"Did he say what? Wesley might know," he offered. "Or Buffy."
"No, that he didn't. Is she here? I've always wanted to see her."
"Buffy?" he called. She came to the top of the stairs and gave him an odd look. "Giles called him about something important?"
She came down the stairs. "About what?" She smiled. "Hi." He kept staring.
"You're very tiny and delicate, Miss Summers."
"It makes the vamps underestimate me," she said with a small grin. "Why did he call?"
"I'm not fully sure. Just that it was important. Something to do with odd magic in the building? I usually spell clean things for a living."
"Can you pinpoint where the brain sucker was summoned?" Xander asked. "It could be that he felt it being summoned since you said he called about a week ago."
"It might be," she agreed. "He got attacked the first time about six days ago."
"Interesting." He looked up. "It's off in the attic behind the ones watching out for it and it was summoned, or something was summoned on the second floor."
"Willow summoned a higher demon to handle a tiny problem," Buffy told him. "She tried to tell Horatio it only took her a few minutes."
He gave her a look. "She's free?"
Xander rubbed his arm. "Shocked the hell outta us too since no one told us. Even the white lighter we have helping Dawn didn't know before we told him."
"That could be a bad thing." He looked at her. "Would you care to come with me, Miss Summers? I'll take you to him so you can talk to him about this. Let Mr. Harris there blow up these ones since one was responsible for the bomb that let you have a year's nap."
He pointed. "The residue is on him."
"That's good to know. Sure, let's go visit Leo." He nodded, taking her with him. She landed at the new house the witches were hiding at, making Phoebe jump up. "Chill, he brought me."
"I didn't think we needed you exposed to the magic going on in the building," he told her gently.
She called Xander's phone. "Heavy magic going on. He evac's me for that." She nodded. "Good to know." She hung up. "He was talking to Ethan on the main phone." He shuddered. "I think he can handle that part. Ladies, is Leo here?"
"He's up checking on some of the elders. Why?" Phoebe asked.
"Because we wanted to know how Willow got free," she said. The witches all stared at her. "I don't think they let her free. Something seemed a bit off about her. She seemed...harder maybe? Plus she supposedly did a quick summoning of a higher demon for a small problem."
"Not to mention the coercion spell," Xander said as he appeared. "Ethan sent me just before the whole lower level went up in smoke. Literally. He said it felt like Giles and Willow working together. I told him about the brain sucker and he said she had to have made him do it." He looked at the witches, who were stunned. "They're fine, it was sleeping gas. He sent the morons of the universe to the base. John got all the girls outside. One got grabbed by the brain sucker on the way so John got it outside too and killed it there." He smirked. "The one with you?"
"Used to act in high school. She said she wanted to do Broadway but her parents were watchers," Buffy told him.
"Hmm. Interesting." He looked at the witches, waving a hand. "Yes, us."
"Where's Willow?" Piper asked.
"Horatio has her. We sedated her before she got on the plane."
"Good idea," Piper agreed. She looked at her sisters.
"Where's Dawn?" Paige asked. "I can't feel her."
"With McKay," Xander told her. "There was a diphtheria outbreak."
"Oooh. That's bad."
"She had to move some meds for them," he told her. "She's fine, just tired. She'll be back once she's not as tired." Buffy looked at him. "Weak magic area," he explained. "She spent a few hours on an IV. I got her something that she had loaded with stored power. She's better. She'll be back when House is."
"Good," Buffy said. "I should hug her for that."
Xander nodded. "She'd like that." He grinned. "So...."
"Leo?" Paige called. He appeared. "Did they let Willow out or did she somehow break out?"
"She broke out," he said, looking at Xander. "She'll get free of the sedative long before it's time to land."
"Horatio can knock her out."
"She can do magic just by speaking. Most do need a gesture or something but some is purely mental. Like levitating."
Xander just nodded, texting that warning to Horatio. "Okay. Thanks for the warning. How did she get out?"
He shrugged. "We have no idea."
"Good. That higher demon?"
"Banished," the sisters said in unison.
"Even better since I kinda don't remember it," Buffy said.
Phoebe pulled her closer to look at. "You do have memory blocks. Shoot. That'll take a bit." The demon ran a hand over her hair, making Buffy smile when the spells on her were absorbed. "You're damn handy to know," she said with a smile.
"Yes, my kind are."
Xander handed over a card. "You need us, you let us know." He smiled. "Thank you for helping Buffy."
"You're most welcome. Is there any idea why Giles summoned me?"
He nodded. "Ethan got a call the same day. He did feel someone summoning something. He wanted you to spell clean the building and make sure nothing like that could be summoned inside it. Can we talk about that in about a week? When we know what we can do for Giles?"
"I would enjoy such a contract."
Xander smiled. "Good. Come see me and Wes on the base in a week. We'll have the arrangements made then."
"Agreed." They shook hands and he left.
Xander looked at Buffy then at the witches. "We've got to get back there. I've got some watchery ass to kick and she's probably got to soothe the girls if they haven't pounced John as an alternate dad. Ethan?" he called. "Can Buffy and I come back?" He waved as they disappeared, waving as they appeared in front of John. "Did killing it keep it from giving Giles back his mind?"
"No. The research said it ate it," he said quietly. "Chase and Thomas were already talking about it. I told him we had it captured since it didn't list a handy way of killing it. Thomas told me that."
"Good." He looked at Buffy, who looked a bit green. "Go puke." She went to do that. He looked at the other watcher. "Broadway? You're not going to strive for Hollywood or even Bollywood?" She backed away slowly. The girls knocked her down to sit on her. "Okay. Which ones of the eight summoned it?" he asked Ethan.
"Seven of the ones in the entry did with her. The one that wasn't mentioned was the reason for the blood in the basement." John shuddered. "Quite a charming pack he had here."
"Yeah," Xander said dryly. "Have to fix that. Thank you. Are you going to visit Giles?"
"I can see if I can help. Where is Miss Summers?"
"With McKay on a classified project," he told him.
"Ah. All right then." He disappeared with that last watcher.
Xander looked at John and the girls, then at Buffy. "Want him for a few days until we can arrange things?"
"Please. Are you taking Giles' desk back?"
"Yup. Since I'm doing it anyway," he said blandly, making her smile. "Okay, let me go clean up Giles' desk. John, can you be head watcher for a day or so? Until we get with Wes and Thomas?"
"Sure, I can do that for at least a week."
"Good. The contractors are very good. I've been checking over their shoulder with the demon maid we have. She said they've been doing good work so they shouldn't bother you any. I asked the demon that took Buffy to come talk to us in a week about spell cleaning and blocking off further summoning in the building." That got another nod and a smile. "He said he could do that. That's what he does for a living. So let me do that so you can rest. Let me know if you hear anything about how she got free. Leo said they weren't sure yet. Or if she manages to crash the plane on Horatio's team."
"I can do that," he agreed. He watched the boy head inside, looking at the girls. "You girls did good."
"Can we have ice cream?" one asked, bouncing against his arm.
"There's none in the house," Buffy reminded her.
"We need to let the place air out anyway," John told her. "We can take a small field trip if you girls can get the card from Xander." They ran up to do that. Buffy grinned before heading inside. He called Dean. "I'm going to be here for a few days. Watch your sister for me." He hung up, heading after the hyper slayers. He had forgotten how bouncy some of them really were.
Xander walked into Wesley's office the next morning, handing over a stack of folders. "Pick from them who you want to train as a watcher. Giles had the files of other offspring that took the training but hadn't fully passed through."
"We lost all of them?"
"Seven summoned it, one was doing blood magic using the raccoons and squirrels from out back. Yes, you did." He walked off. "I've got all the admin stuff. John's there until we can get him a replacement."
"I'll look these over today," he agreed. He got to work. He knew most of them. He knew some would have made wonderful watchers but they got told they thought too much. Well, that was a skill they appreciated so that was good for them. He narrowed down the list to ten by dinner that night, finding Xander ready to pull out his hair. "Did he bollix something?"
"Oh, so very badly," he agreed. He leaned back. "He signed a maintenance contract with a group that doesn't do maintenance." Wesley gave him an odd look. "There's three other
contracts that have odd parts in them. Is Wolfram and Hart still going? This looks like some of their work that Cordy warned me about."
Wesley came over to look over his shoulder. "Indeed that is. Hmm, possibly someone that wasn't arrested started their own firm?"
"Maybe. They're all the same lawyer."
"I'll have Gunn check up on them," he said, taking one to call him. "Then we'll see if it's a case or not."
"Thanks, Wes. Any luck?"
"I have ten to recruit immediately. Another two I want to interview."
"Go for it. Or send Thomas."
Wesley smirked. "A vacation back at home?"
"If you want. You do nearly as much as I do and I do two jobs." Wesley smiled, heading out to talk to his buddy. Xander went to dinner, finding all the girls staring at him. "What? Cleveland's fine. John's staying while we get better watchers. Instead of ones doing blood magic from small, furry things in the basement." He sat down. "Any news on Giles?" he asked Faith. She'd know.
"Not yet. They're still doing tests. D's back."
"Good. She resting?" She nodded quickly. "We hand her the other stuff she had stored power in?"
"Sammy did," she told him.
He grinned. "Even better. I'll check on her after dinner." She relaxed. "Everything but a few contracts are fine, Faith. Relax. Wes is checking into those because they looked suspiciously like Wolfram and Hart's stuff." She shuddered. "So we'll see. We'll handle it. You know very well almost nothing's going to get past John. He was even taking the girls out for ice cream last night."
"We heard. They found a demon ice cream shop. Horrified Papa Scruffy horribly," she said with an evil smirk. "Though he said it was some of the best ice cream he's ever had." Xander laughed, making her happier. "Dean and Sammy sent their friend Bobby that note so he could send John some holy water to make sure he was fine and not possessed again. Little B laughed her butt off so hard she fell out of a chair. Which meant Dean got to fuss."
"Dean's good at it. Nearly as good as I am," he agreed.
"You can fuss over D," she reminded him.
"I will be." He leaned closer. "Any word from Leo?" he hissed. She shook her head. "Anything on the underground?"
"They said it had to be powerful. They don't think it was demonic. She's downstairs in the special cell if you wanted to talk to her."
He considered it then shook his head. "No. I don't. That's Horatio's case."
She nodded. "Good choice. You've been making a few of those recently. I almost don't recognize you as the guy I once groped and insulted."
He smirked. "I know, but now and then I have to make a bad one to keep my naughtiness in check."
She burst out laughing. "You, naughty?"
"He's very naughty," Anna said. "That's why you went to the prom."
She smirked at her. "I forgot." She kicked Xander under the table. "Fine, you can be slightly naughty."
He winked. "I can be more naughty but it might shock the girls if I went out trolling at the club again."
"Why make more work for the nice agents?" she quipped. "Slip onto your back for one of them instead. It'd be good for you."
He shook his head. "If they wanted me that way, all they had to do was ask. None of them have so none of them want me that way. That's a hitch in you girls' plan to get me to go fully gay."
She gave him a long look. "Stress relief," she said quietly.
He shrugged. "Was what it was. Hasn't happened since. So clearly not his thing," he muttered.
She shook her head. "His loss, boytoy. His loss."
He grinned. "I'd offer but you seem to have an extra fussy one of your own."
"Yup, I seem to," she agreed. "I have no idea what I'm doing with him sometimes but I do seem to have one."
Xander grinned. "Do whatever you feel like. Not like he's going to complain."
"Good point. He said we could date forever if I wanted."
He nodded. "That might be good for you. Instead of the stress of formal stuff, the easy going dating stuff."
"I could handle less stress." She looked up as Dean and Sam walked in, grinning some.
He kicked her under the table, grinning at her. "I give that same look to twinkies."
"Well, he does taste good," she quipped, making Dean splutter. She winked at him. He smirked back. "He said it first."
"I like you more than him. We'd have to compare gun sizes." He kissed her. "Eat. You might be heading back to Cleveland."
"Why? Is Buffy heading overseas?" Xander asked.
Dean looked at him. "You are back."
"Yup, have been for most of the day. You were hiding."
"I was doing your paperwork, duffus."
Xander grinned. "I'd hug you but you might like it."
"Hug Sammy, he's emo that way and likes hugs," Dean told him.
"I don't think I'm in his configuration for hugs," Xander said blandly.
"Maybe, I don't know. Sammy, do you think you'd like Xander hugs?"
Sam shrugged. "Don't know, only had the one. I know he cuddles. Dawn said so."
"How would Dawn know?" Anna asked him.
"Dawn needed cuddled a few times," Xander told her. "Like after her mom died."
"Oh. I didn't remember that. Sorry."
"It happens." He grinned. "Eat. You're getting too skinny."
"You're a big brother, not the slayer team's mother," Anna joked.
Xander smirked. "With Giles in the infirmary, we're back to me doing it with Wes." They all shuddered. "Speaking of, Wes is going to go talk to the other Watchery offspring to see if they want to come back or not. Some got tossed out of the training program for having a brain. Clearly we need that in Cleveland." He ate another bite, shaking his head. Horatio was staring at him so he looked over. "What's up, Horatio?"
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Are you? We were warned she might try to crash the plane."
"She did try. Speed pointed out she'd be the first to die since she wasn't hitched down. Eric offered to blow out a window to toss her out of. She pouted the rest of the trip."
Xander nodded. "She seems to do that," he agreed calmly. He didn't realize he was rubbing his arm until Faith reached over to stop him. "Huh?" He looked down. "Sorry."
"I've rubbed some of my own when the memories hit," she said quietly.
He shrugged. "We don't have them anymore. That's probably a good thing." He looked at Horatio. "Did you want the stuff from her room? You left it on the plane so I had it brought back."
"We did. The prosecutor was most pleased to see her."
Xander shrugged. "Sometimes the dark has the better offer," he admitted. "Sometimes you want to take it, and you delude yourself into thinking that you're doing the right thing."
"I understand. She did want to talk to you." He watched as Xander looked at his arm then shook his head before looking up at him. "Are you certain?"
"Yeah. If I want to talk to her, I've got years probably."
"True. She's looking at five felony counts." Xander grimaced but nodded at that information. "You can come talk to us. Remember that."
"I will. Thanks, Horatio. And for letting me know."
"Not a problem, Xander. How is Cleveland holding up?"
"John hasn't called to have us save him yet," he quipped with a grin. "Wes is going to look for people who have sense among the other trainee watchers. It's not that much more work for me. I was doing most of it anyway." That got a nod. "Are they being charged soon?"
"Already took a deal," Horatio said. "There's a special section of the prison for them. We moved some people around so they could have their own solitary ward."
"We did put magic dampeners in that area?" Xander asked. "Watcher training includes at least the basics of Wicca style magic. One was using blood magic and the others summoned an other-plane demon."
"We did," Mac assured him. "We made sure first."
Xander grinned. "Thanks, guys. You take some of the hassle off me."
Daniel looked over. "You and Fargo do the same for me," he said with a smile of his own.
Xander smirked. "That's how I get into those situations where YouTube is amused."
"Don't remind me," Danny said. "Dean showed off the video of Cordette. She looked very good."
"Don has been doing a fantastic job with her," he agreed. "I gave them a copy."
"I sent her critiques of it and a lot of it was praise," Dean told him. "I also mentioned that the tripping problem would be solved when she quit growing. That was usual for a growth spurt so she wouldn't worry about it."
"She's a good girl," Xander said. "She does Alan's raising proud." They all smiled. "Any other good news?"
"Not much," Dean said. "Did you do watcher paychecks?"
"Last week. Is it due this week?" he asked, looking hesitant.
"Thomas said one of his gremlins didn't get one."
"Do I have paperwork on him?"
"Not real sure," Dean admitted. "I couldn't find any."
"I'll get with him after I check on Dawn." They all smiled. "She's my little sister. She comes before paychecks." He finished eating, stealing some dessert before the girls ate it all, then headed to check on Dawn in her room. "Hey," he said, smiling when she blinked up at him. "Still sleepy?"
"Still have a headache," she admitted, letting him give her a hug. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome, Dawn." He sat on the side of her bed. "How are you feeling beyond the headache?"
"A bit sore and achy. Like I've got the flu. I managed to not drain two of my storage pieces. I'll refill them this winter." She plucked at her blanket. "Am I okay?"
"As far as I know. Why wouldn't you be?"
"House has been extra fussy like he thinks I'm a great specimen."
"Well, you are, and nearly legal for him to hit on," he joked. "I'll make sure." She nodded, pulling him down for another hug. He gave her the cuddle she needed. "I'm impressed. You did great work, Dawnie."
"Thanks, Xander." She let him go. "Go bother other people. I need rest to shop for my new apartment." He nodded, leaving her alone once he had her tucked back in. She grinned at her door. He was such a fussy, silly big brother sometimes.
Xander walked into the infirmary, finding Thomas. "Give me ten minutes and we'll go over the paycheck dilemma?"
"That'd be fine, Xander. Are you banged up again?" he asked.
"Dawn wanted a technical question asked." He sat down to wait, not watching while House finished Thomas's injury. Thomas left, leaving him and House alone in the infirmary. "Dawn said you've been looking at her like she's got some vile, strange disease you can name after yourself," he said quietly.
"She's paranoid. I'm learning what I can about magical exhaustion. Not like I saw a case before, as far as I know."
Xander nodded. "That's what I thought it might be but she was worried because you've been fussing."
"She needed it since you were off making the city of Cleveland safe."
"All I had to do was arrest the bastards out there," he quipped. "John's in charge for right now."
"That's reasonable. The girls will listen to him." He came over. "What else is wrong?"
He sighed, looking at him. "For hating people, you read them awfully well."
He smirked. "It's my BS detector that I gained from my years of clinic duty."
He shrugged. "Willow wanted to talk to me."
"Are you going to get to smack her around?"
"No. It'd be wrong with her in the jail."
House stared him down. "Still getting phantom pains in your arm when she's mentioned?" Xander nodded. "Do you get them at other times?"
"It twinges more than the usual pain when I hit that memory. Even when we're talking about something other than her it twinges."
"Any other times?"
"When I get around heavy magic. I can always tell when Dawn's portaling in because it suddenly twitches."
"So it attuned you," he said. Xander shrugged. "Any other instances?"
"I kinda had that twinge in Georgia. That hit almost when the 'oh shit' feeling hit."
"So very heavy magic there and he used a portal to move in. Does regular, non-portal, heavy magic make it twinge?" Xander nodded. "Very interesting. Have we scanned it recently?"
"Yeah. The physical break is gone. Maybe it is mental. Faith caught me rubbing it while Horatio talked to me."
"Maybe." He patted him on the head. "Go pay Thomas's little gremlin friend."
"Is it the pale, jaundiced one?" he asked.
House thought about it. "The one that's slightly green tinged from the gold poisoning."
"Wonderful." He walked up there, finding Thomas had went to his office. He walked out, pulling up the roster of current watchers for him. Plus he looked in the filing cabinet. "Rostin?"
He found the empty file, showing it to him. "We have a file and nothing in it."
"He said he shouldn't have to refill out the forms since he did when he was hired."
"That building blew up too," Xander pointed out, sitting behind his desk.
"According to him, it was online."
"If so, none of us knew about it." He looked at him. "Is it?"
He shrugged. "I have no idea what the Council was doing with their new internet connections."
"Is there anyone who would? And who could track down the site and things?"
"No idea. Asters, who you had arrested for blood magic, perhaps. What was he doing with it?"
"He wanted to work his way up to sacrificing Willow to take her power." They shared a look. That guy would be an ass if he had any real power. "I put that in the notes for the judge. That way they can see if they want to charge him with more than trying to attack me and assaulting furry creatures."
"Blood magic is so trite," he complained. "He couldn't think of a better plan?"
"Apparently not." He yawned. "If we had more watchers, I wouldn't have went with the judge, I would have went with the tribunal, but we only have six of us until Wes hires more."
"I know one came up with me. Who hired the others?" Xander pointed toward the main building. "Rupert?"
"They got through the training and were in the field," he said dryly. "Unless he can find the online version of his records and therefore the watcher server, he's got to fill out the forms so I can consider him employed. I'm not doing a background check but since we do go through the government's database for these things, we'll end up reporting him if he owes back child support or something."
"I'll tell him that. Are there any other folders with missing content?"
Xander got up to look, frowning at his. "Mine's empty. Wes's is empty. Looks like yours is full." He found another one. "Peters?"
"One who was arrested, that was the female."
"Hmm." He tossed them down. "I have no idea and Wes can tell me hopefully."
"I'll send both of them down. Thank you."
"Welcome. We'll talk about back pay and things later." Thomas nodded, leaving him alone. Wesley leaned in a few minutes later. "Would you know why my file, your file, and the file of one of the now-arrested ones are empty?"
"No, I have no idea," he admitted, coming over to look. "Oh, those files. I have those in my office for safekeeping. Hers had a restraining order against her ex-husband. Yours and mine were too sensitive to leave in a simple locked cabinet."
Xander nodded at that. "Okay. Next time leave me a note?"
"I can do that," he offered with a smile.
"Do we want to move them somewhere more secure?"
"Once Cleveland is set up we may."
"Asters said that he had his stuff online?"
"I know they were trying to put all the records online but I have no idea if they succeeded or not." Wesley sat down in Thomas' former chair. "Is that why he's not being paid?"
"I don't have anything on him. I can't pay him." He shrugged. "If they did, who would know that's still around?"
"They'd need a secure server somewhere that it wouldn't get a lot of notice." He considered it. "I have no idea. Can we have Sam look?"
"That's not a bad idea."
"I'll ask him on my way to my room. He's visiting with Dawn." He stood up. "Thank you for handling these issues."
Xander looked at him. "I was doing it anyway, Wes. If Cleveland is done before we have a new titular head, are you moving back there?"
He nodded. "I might, yes. I haven't decided yet. The library will remain here until Thomas has it all in a format Daniel likes. Things will still be settling in for years to come."
"Good point. Thanks, Wes." He nodded, leaving him alone to the paperwork headaches he'd have soon. Asters stomped in. "Can you find the online version to print out?"
"No, I can't," he said grimly.
"Then you've got a lot of filling out to do," he said, finding a packet to hand to him. "I need that done before I can start paying you. We'll talk about backpay sometime soon." He nodded, leaving him alone with his reports. He looked over one, frowning. "Cho's back there, right?" he muttered, calling India. "Marge, isn't Cho back?" He listened to her, grimacing. "No, we know Willow stole her. We know she took a flight back a few days ago. She's not back yet?" He covered the mouthpiece. "Wesley, find where Cho is," he yelled. He went back to her. "He'll see if we can find her. No, there was a problem in Cleveland beyond Willow," he admitted.
"It was...not pretty, Marge. No, none of the girls died. Some of the oldline watchers summoned a brain sucking creature that got Giles," he offered. She laughed. "Well, kinda. Anyway, he's in the infirmary. John's in Cleveland until we can find someone to replace him. Buffy's still senior there. If you need us, yell. We'll tell you when we find Cho or you call if she gets back first. Okay?" He grinned. "Good girl and happy, safe hunting, Marge." He hung up, resting his head against his chair's back.
Sam leaned in. "We have a possible link to the watchers council old server. We're not sure since it's an underground source and they said they never had the password."
"See if McGee or Abby can hack it in their spare time?"
"I can do that." He grinned since Xander had his eyes closed. "Bad problems?"
"Minor things. Cho never made it home. India had a pretty high demon show up to try to wed one of them." He sighed. "It's been a long few days."
Sam walked in to make him stop rubbing his arm. "It'll get better."
Xander blinked up at him. "Promise?"
Xander frowned, looking at his arm. "Heavy magic's going on." They rushed out to see what was going on. Dean was out there looking around too. So he felt something was off. He frowned at the night. It was very quiet. Even the small amount of noise from the road was covered up. They all looked toward the gate as something started to twinkle that way. "Dean, get weapons, just in case, because I hope I've got the wrong feeling," he ordered quietly. Dean ran for the armory. Sam took his gun when Dean came back, moving to a position slightly behind Xander but off to his right. Dean mimicked him but tried to move in front of Xander. Xander shook his head, getting away from them. He checked his gun. It was loaded. It had nine shots. He looked up as the twinkling increased and then a sonic boom went off above them. They glanced up to see a fire trail but on the ground were now a whole clan of demons. The alarms on the base, the magical and non-magical both, started to shriek. Xander moved forward. "You are on the DCIS base. Why are you trespassing at this time of night?" he demanded cooly.
"You have imprisoned one of us," their leader said. "We want him back."
"We try all people who do wrong by the law. If he's in our prison, he deserves to be there."
"Human laws do not apply to our kind," he sneered. "Move, human. Or die."
Xander pulled up his gun. "You first." The demons sneered and a few laughed. "Let me repeat myself. I am Xander Harris, knight to the slayers, the Slayer's Protector. DCIS agent." A few backed off at that. "You're fucking with my people and I do not like it. Get off my base. If you have a doubt about their guilt, you bring a polite challenge to our director and he'll look into it."
"We are not bound by human laws," the leader sneered, moving closer. "You would not harm me. You're human."
Xander shot him and looked down at him then at the others. "Anyone else want to speak for your group?"
One younger woman moved forward. "That was undoubtfully rude," she complained.
He stared at her. "Threatening the base is stupid," he replied. "We can and will protect it. Now, if you have a *polite* challenge, I can get our director to hear it tonight while no more than an honor guard stays with you. This is your choice to press a threatening action."
She sneered. "You're too full of yourself. You do nothing here but torture others."
"No, sweetie, my original team helped take down the Initiative." She gasped. "Yeah, I'm from the Sunnydale crew." Faith jogged out. He felt something. "Faith, slayers back!" he shouted. "They've got something that'll kill you guys."
"Okay," she agreed, stopping the girls behind Dean. "We're good here?"
He nodded without having to look. "Yeah, you are." He continued to stare that one down. "Do you have a *polite* challenge?"
"Humans aren't worth talking to or teaching manners," she said.
He shrugged. "Your loss." He pointed his gun at her. "Your choice. Leave or join your clansman on the ground."
"You can't kill us. He'll get up in a while."
He pointed behind him. "I'm sure we can start a fire. If I can't, Dean and Sam probably can." She gaped at them, bowing slightly to Sam, who sneered and growled. She backed off. "Now, why don't you come back when you have a polite challenge to whichever person is in the jail?"
"Because we will not be denied. If we must, we'll take down this whole misbegotten, son of satan's crap pile to get to them," she said, flicking a hand.
Xander shot her and a few others. Behind him, Dean, Sam, and the other agents went for wounding shots. Anyone who stepped too close got him. He ran out of bullets just as the magic user was shown. He was chanting a spell, which he heard the word slayers as part of. "Get him!" he shouted, moving out of the way. Calleigh got him. He grinned at her. "Nice shot."
"Thank you." She moved forward to check. "What was he doing?"
"He was going to harm the slayers. That's what the spell was saying." He checked a few, they were groaning. The ones he had gotten were dead. The female was whimpering in pain. He stared down at her. "You doubted humans?" he asked her.
"You will pay! They will take this out of your hide, human!"
He sneered. "Get in line. Higher demons than you or any you've ever served in any manner want me for what I can do. You're pathetic and not worthy of being on the same plane I am. Now, leave before I finish you off." She screamed something. A few more people came in. Dean and Jack, from the armory, got them. Another magic user went down thanks to Faith's gun. He stared at her then the mess. "You done yet?"
"If we have to throw all our lives away, he will not live in a human jail!" she shouted weakly.
"It's a demon jail," Xander told her simply. She shuddered, trying to scoot back. "No, you violated our base and our grounds. You came to hurt our people. You can join him down there." He walked off, handing Daniel his gun. "We need cuffs and she needs a bullet removed." He went to get them from the armory while the others covered. He came back to cuff her personally, then handed her to the waiting docs. "She's so concerned about that one clansmember of hers, put her with him."
House nodded. "We can do that once she's charged." He walked her off, taking her to clean her up so she could go to the jail. The other agents got the rest of them and it was easier. Xander watched, sneering at the living ones. The dead ones Thomas was looking up to see if they had burial rites or anything they had to do. He came out with a sheet of paper, handing it to Daniel.
"We need to bury them facing west and face down," Daniel said.
Dean looked at him. "What if we just had a bonfire?"
"They'd get pissed and attack again," Daniel told him.
Dean nodded. "Then I guess we can. How deep do we have to bury them?"
"About tree root deep according to the notes he found. They break down fairly quickly."
Xander pointed. "Put them on a truck, take them to the back forty fo the base. Put them by the old back gate," he suggested, looking at Daniel, who smiled. "Thank you."
"You had to prove your rep," he said quietly. "Don't do it again."
"We felt it first," he offered. "Dean and I did. Sam followed me." He looked over with a frown. "Dean, how did you know?"
"I felt you being uneasy."
Sam nodded. "His arm twinges when there's heavy magic." Another sonic boom went off. "What is that?" he demanded, looking up.
Daniel went into the security office to call someone. "This is Doctor Daniel Jackson, director of DCIS. We're hearing sonic booms above the base." He listened to the report. "You're sure?" He nodded. "I'll find that out then, thank you." He hung up and called another number. "It's Daniel Jackson. Are the sonic booms above us you guys?" He listened then nodded. "That's fine. With the temporary housing, we'll just barely fit. That'd be reasonable. Thank you." He hung up and came out. "Jack, the Daedalus is back," he said in his ear. "They're coming here."
"We're sure?" Daniel nodded. "I'll get Cloris up so she can open all the rooms. How many?"
"Many more than we have beds but some can have couches. They'll figure it out. Put somewhere safe aside for their weapons."
Xander raised a hand. "Can we know? I know Bauer did covert stuff but some of us would probably realize it anyway by in the morning."
"McKay's group is down."
"Ah." He nodded. "Well, someone can have my couch and the pullout in my office if we need it."
Daniel smiled. "I might do that, Xander. Help the security guys?"
"Sure. Girls, bedtime," he ordered. "Let us clean up this mess." They pouted but went to do that. He, Sammy, and Dean walked over to the bodies, waiting on a truck. "Should we wrap them?" he asked Daniel when he walked over.
"No. Nothing between them and the ground, guys. Sorry, I know it's messy."
"We did them in, we should be able to handle the battlefield clean up," Dean said. "Usually we just salt and burn but I guess we can do it this way too." Xander grinned. One of the security guys pulled a maintenance truck up, letting them heave the bodies into the back. They rode out with them, finding a good, easy to dig spot back by the old back gate. They even took turns digging. By the time they were done, they were sweaty and nasty. They took a short break then heaved in the bodies. Heads going west, face down. Sam had to get into the hole to flip one over but that happened when you were tossing. Then they got to fill in the hole and ride back to their apartments. Xander walked in and found people crashed. Well, they wouldn't wake up if he took a shower. He checked his bed. It was still free so he was happy enough he guessed.
Once the truck had moved off, Daniel looked over as the first beam came down, smiling at the man. "Jack."
"Danny." He gave him a hand shake. "Hate to intrude but the sickness was going to start again if we didn't."
"I don't mind. We have the temporary housing and a few free apartments. Plus some of us have couches and things."
"Good, because we brought everyone." That got a nod. He called up. "It's me. It's safe." He put the radio back into his pocket. "What was that?"
"A minor base assault. We've had worse. And I don't think this is the one that Xander and Sam have been edgy about." He shrugged. "They just took off to bury bodies."
"That's wonderful," he said grimly.
"We don't want to insult their people and make more attack so we'll do it their way." More people started to appear. Armory Jack came out with Cloris in a robe. "I know it's late."
"It's not that late. I was in the tub, Doctor Jackson." She looked at them. "How many?" she asked Jack. He gave her a manifest list. She grimaced. "Those who have rooms, hit them," she ordered. The few who had been there went to find their beds. Rodney pulled Sheppard with him, earning a smile from Daniel and Jack. "It's make-shift but we can find you something soft to nap on for now," she said. She led them to the temporary quarters, putting them in as fast as she could. Daniel told her a few could have Xander's couch and pull-out couch. So she added a few there. He wouldn't touch the female officers, he was a good boy.
The twenty who were left got the camping supplies in the gym. That solved all but six who Daniel got supplies from John and Dean's stuff for. With John's permission since he called him to warn him about that assault. They settled in and he warned their cook they had doubled the size of the base. She sighed but promised she could handle it. Or the girls could help her. Daniel went to check in with Jack, finding out what was going on. He found him in his office talking to his replacement. "Anything I should know?"
"It's not pretty," Jack said. "We lost twelve from the diphtheria. We lost another two to the fever that started right afterward. Our base is overloaded so there's no room for them there."
"You guys are part of us," Danny reminded him, getting a weak grin. "If we have to, we'll go buy more cots tomorrow." Jack nodded. "Go rest, Jack."
"I'll do my best. I've got four people in my place."
"No, your spare bed wasn't touched because the last time I knew it was covered in books."
"I was resorting my bookshelves. It should be free. Besides, I almost miss your snoring while camping somewhere strange."
"DCIS isn't strange enough?" he quipped back.
"Not usually." He hung up on the conference call and dragged Jack back to his place, letting him have the spare bed. It had a few books, three or four, which Jack nicely piled underneath it for him. Then Jack got a shower. Danny got a shower, and they both went to sleep. He really had missed hearing Jack snore while they camped in some strange place.
Xander got up late the next morning and felt like hell. He hadn't slept well at all. He got up and wandered out to his kitchen, ignoring the giggling. In his sleep-deprived state, it could've been the slayers giggling at his boxers. He didn't care. He waved listlessly at them, heading directly for the coffee. At least until his phone rang. He grunted into it, then grunted a second time when the words got through. He took his coffee with him to get dressed, hiking over to the main building once he was prepared. Still not awake, but more prepared. He walked into the office, grunting at Daniel.
"No sleep?" he asked.
"Very little. Nightmares." He sipped from his cup, looking at him. "Am I in trouble for taking the lead last night?"
"No. Though a few have wondered. I pointed out your rep was scarier than we all were. You had gotten a few to back off. You did well as a spokesman for the base and reacted in a timely manner. No one's saying anything." Xander gave him a slight smile. "The bodies?"
"Buried like Thomas said."
"Good." He smiled, leaning on his desk. "How bad is this new Council oversight going to tax you?"
Xander scowled. "Huh?"
Daniel smiled. "Want some more coffee, first, Xander?" Xander smiled and nodded. "Fine, go get some from the caf and come back up here with breakfast." Xander nodded, trudging that way, finishing his cup on the way. Daniel smiled at his back. Sleepy Xander was adorably confused.
Jack leaned in. "You look like that after a few days of researching and then a long crash on top of your books."
"Giles got attacked by a brain sucking demon."
"Like it took his consciousness and ate it," he told him. "He's in the coma ward. They're not sure what they can do about him. Which puts Xander back in command. John Winchester's out there right now."
"I'm sure he's enjoying the hellmouth." He shuddered. "I'm used to strange stuff from what we did, but sometimes their job gives me a headache."
"Me too but it has to be done by someone. I'm glad he heard the magic user or whatever and got the girls back so they wouldn't be hurt." Jack smiled. "Any idea which one they were coming for?"
"I think DiNozzo was looking into that. Hey, DiNozzo?"
"Yeah?" he called. He came that way to lean into the office as well. "What's up, Danny?"
"Who did they want to free?"
"Their prince and the second mouthpiece's husband. He was convicted of arms ferrying a few months back. He's in for ten years. We moved him and those who survived last night to a clan cell then upped the monitoring."
"Good idea. Thank you."
"Welcome." Xander poked him until he looked back and grinned. "Sleepy?" he teased lightly. Xander nodded. "It'll be okay, Xander." Xander gave him a hurt look. "You'll wake up soon."
"He said I'm not in trouble."
"No you're not," Tony agreed. "We expected you to do something like that after some of the trouble you get into." Xander gave him a shy grin. "Eat, have more caffeine. Your desk only has one envelope on it. I'm not sure if it's a case or not." He left them alone to talk. "Guys, Xander's half asleep," he told them. "He's a bit confused."
"It happens to the best of us," Calleigh said, chipper as always. "He's an hour late too."
"He probably just got up. He had to bury the bodies with the Winchester boys." He sat down to go back to his present research case.
Xander sat down in front of Daniel's desk, putting his plate and precious coffee in front of him. He grunted at Daniel once his mouth was full of food.
Daniel smiled. "How much extra time is doing more of the Council's work going to take, Xander?"
He shrugged then swallowed. "I'm doing most of it now. As long as Wes can find someone suitable to run Cleveland or head back there himself for a while, it'll be less worse than it was at first. Didn't mean to rhyme."
"It happens when we're nearly asleep," he said gently, getting another grin. "So no extra time being needed?"
Xander shook his head slowly. "I set it up so even Giles could handle it when he was half-asleep. Or Buffy. I'm still doing most of it anyway. So not much more often."
"Good. I don't want to overwork you." Xander grinned at that. "You know, we do have those agents who've retired back to normal life if you want to talk to them about taking watcher training."
"I'll tell Wes, that's his job. Mine's to make sure the slayers are all right and fed and stuff." He ate another bite. "She did good for having a starving military base join us."
"The girls helped." Xander beamed at him. "They do very good work and they have all new people to hit on. Anna made Sheppard blush very brightly this morning."
"Good for her. We like her naughty." He ate another bite, chewing quickly before swallowing. "What else is going on?"
"Was that the base assault you saw in the vision?" Jack asked.
Xander stiffened, looking at him. "No. I don't think it was. I saw late winter. Melting snow. Not summer. Shit."
"We'll handle that one too," Daniel promised. "We had to make sure." Xander nodded, getting that. He shoveled in the rest of his breakfast. "Are you sore after last night's work?"
"No, I'm good. I don't want to go out today on a hard case because this'll probably be all over the underground. I'll have Sam check to make sure they don't want to kill me more."
"Good. I can do that while you check that envelope. Remember, if there's a threat you let us know."
Xander nodded. "I can do that. Where's Tiff?"
"With Abby," Jack said. "She said hi to the girls, then went to hang with Abby and Carter in the lab."
"Okay. If that's what she wants I'm happy for her. She's had a good last few years growing up." He looked at Daniel again. "Anything else I have to handle?"
"The three empty buildings. Do any of them have housing areas or real bathrooms?"
"The non-testing building does and the testing building does on the top three floors but it might stink from the stuff Abby was working on last week. The building on the east side is sucky and needed to be torn down too."
"Newbie barracks it looked like. Six bed barracks. Without beds."
"Then we can move the cots that way," Jack decided.
"No electric running yet," Xander warned. "But I can check that and turn it on if you want."
"We can have the electric company come out to check," Daniel told him. "And then let them do that so they don't get huffy at us again. They did last month." Xander nodded. "What about Willow?" he asked gently.
Xander stiffened, shaking his head. "It's not my case, it's Horatio's case."
"Do you maybe want to talk to her to put some things behind you?" Daniel offered.
Xander paused then shook his head. "No. I can't forgive her for the realm switching thing. My arm still twinges with heavy magic." He swallowed. "I can't, Daniel." He started to regurge. Jack thoughtfully got him a trash can. "Sorry," he said between heaves.
"Hey, it's all right," Daniel said, coming around to help him. "Shh, calm down. I was just wondering, Xander. Don't stress." He got him calmed down but a bit shaky. "Shh, it's all right. Jack, call House?" He moved to do that. "We'll let you rest down there. Okay?" Xander nodded, looking at him as he wiped his mouth. Daniel got him a tissue with a smile. "Spenser was asked for by Horatio to evaluate and debrief her. Would that bother you?"
"Maybe he can figure out why she went bad," he said quietly.
"Maybe," he agreed. He ruffled his hair. "Take a short nap in the infirmary until your stomach settles then eat again and hit your desk, Xander. If you want I can have Tony check that envelope. Or Dean."
"I can on the way down." He stood up but he was still shaky. Daniel helped him sit back down and went to get the letter for him. He opened it, looking inside. "From Tiff. Her records and lab evaluations. We need to use these to get her a diploma."
"We can do that," Daniel agreed. "We'll let Sam and Sam work on that." House walked in, leaning heavily on his cane. "We were talking and his stomach decided it was upset."
"That's fine. I was told he was half-asleep anyway. C'mon, Xander. Your bed's free." Xander nodded, heading down leaning on him. He looked at him once they were in the elevator. "Last night?"
"Hmm. That is a sucky situation." He walked him off the elevator and into the infirmary. The boy curled up on his bed without a protest, letting House put a bottle of frozen water next to him. "Sip when it melts so you have something for the acid to work against." He went to look at the new patients he had. He had no idea what to do with Rupert Giles. Ethan hadn't with his mystical MRI either. They'd have to figure out something. If not, maybe this was why some people were in unexplained comas? It'd make sense. He checked on Xander, seeing him curled up asleep. Dean walked in and pulled a chair over to sit next to him. Xander relaxed, sighing in pleasure in his sleep. House walked out as quietly as he could. "We'll protect him."
"One of us that he's bound to being here will keep down nightmares," he said quietly.
"That's fine. Pull the curtains if you want, Dean. Or get Dawn since she needs to rest since I know the girls need you to kick their asses into shape." He nodded, calling her. Wesley helped her over to curl up with him. Dean tucked them in and left them alone. House went back to his daily chores until Chase came in. He stared at the duo on the bed. "He's sick. She's still exhausted."
"She looks it." He came over to check them both over, getting batted at by Dawn. "Just me," he told her. She relaxed and let him check her pulse for now. "Should we start another IV for her?"
"She's healing fine," House assured him. "She said she feels like she's got a magical flu." He put the CT scan up on the board. It showed almost no damage. "Any ideas?"
"Not a one," he admitted, staring at it. He pointed at something. "What is that?"
"Head trauma like boxers get." He frowned. "Probably a few too many concussions. Xander's shows that too," he said quietly, glancing at them. Then back at the board. "There's no evidence of the thing sucking at him."
"Can we do a PET scan? That'll show brain usage."
"We don't have the stuff to do it here." He considered it. "We could send him out to do one. But it might not help us any."
Dawn looked over, blinking at them. "He's closer than he was before but he's still down. We have no idea if some of this is magical or not."
"You, no magic," House reminded her. "Even light tethers to check people. Turn it off. You're only hurting yourself." She sighed but did that. She wouldn't admit she felt better but it showed since he looked so smug. "I can call Piper and them. She could probably help."
Leo appeared. "They're busy with the terrible tots and the flu." Dawn shuddered, cuddling Xander better. He wrapped himself around her, earning an awww from the angel. House smirked. "What's up with Mr. Giles?"
"Brain sucker demon."
Leo grimaced. "Those are nasty."
"Could that be why some people are in unexplained comas?" House asked.
"Possibly but they have to be summoned. They're not native." He walked over to where Giles was resting, laying a hand on his head. "He's got a while before he can wake up. When he does, he'll be relearning the simple things. Talking and those things." House nodded. "But he's not fundamentally damaged. A few more times being hit and he'd be fully without brain function."
"I saw an infant come out comatose," Chase said. "Could that have been a cause?"
Leo considered it. "I'm not sure if they can get through the mother without hurting her or not," he admitted. "Huh. That'd be interesting to look up. No brain function?"
"Very minimal for life support. No clear indication of any problem. Just non-responsive to anything. After being here I'd almost say it looked like he was out of his body."
"That's more possible. It's happened a few times when there was a twin that died in utero. Basically that death pulls them because they're mentally and spiritually bound. One follows the other."
House looked at Chase. "When was that?"
"Right before I became your fellow." He smirked. "It drove the doctors nuts for months until they finally decided on long-term care for the baby. No one could find any cause or abnormality."
"That does sound like an interesting case," House admitted. "So we let him nap?" he asked Leo.
Leo nodded. "For now. He'll start to wake up in about six months. Slowly for a few minutes at a time instead of waking up like Xander does."
House checked Xander, patting him on the head. "Leo's telling us how soon Giles is going to wake up."
"Will he be able to resume duties?" he asked. "Sometime? Wes would like that."
"Some year, but not anytime soon."
Xander nodded. "Then we'll make plans around that. Thanks, Leo. Is she all right? She's still really tired."
Leo laid a hand on Dawn's head, then nodded. "She'll be fine in a few days. She's already stronger than the one helping her said she was. That was heroically stupid of her to do. She learned well from you." He disappeared with a grin.
"Thank you." He gave her another cuddle. "I should probably get up and hit my desk."
"Drink the water, kid," House ordered. "You can head up for lunch since your desk is clear."
"I'm spending a lot of time not working."
"Bullshit. Drink the water." Xander was handed the bottle by Chase, letting him drink the part that had melted. Then he snuggled better, making her sigh in pleasure. "Better. She needs you. It's part of being a parent." He went to his office to make notes in Giles' chart. The nurses could handle long term care for him. He hoped. He didn't want to wipe butts this week. He checked, he had a catheter and feeding tube so he'd be fine for now.
Xander walked up to his desk. "Sorry I'm so late. My stomach rebelled this morning, guys. Anything for me to do?"
"What's this note?" Eric asked, handing him a file. "They called to say another one showed up."
Xander looked at it then at him. "We told them to look for eggs and a nest. Apparently they missed one. How many are free?"
"Just the two. They've already disabled them like you told them to. They think they might have another one; they called in to see what sort of animal could track it. If dogs could or not."
"Pigs might be better, but they'd run," he said thinking about it. "Maybe a cat but you can't get them to track things. Though if someone had a hunting cat as a pet I'd say let it loose and follow it since they taste like kitty treats to them."
"They have a zoo in the next town," he said, calling them. "I'm DCIS Agent Delko." He got transferred. "We've talked to Xander and he suggested that larger hunting cats can track it. It would mean you'd have to protect the people," he agreed when the sheriff complained. "Would it hurt the cat to eat it?" he asked Xander.
"That I'm not sure about. I don't think so but if you absolutely couldn't pull the cat off in time you could always pump its stomach I guess. But I don't think it'd hurt it."
"He said he doesn't think so but try to pull it off sooner. That sounds like a safer plan. Shut the area down, let the cat loose so it can hunt it for you, then tranq it when it does find it." He nodded, making notes. "If not, we can come get it for you." He smiled. "Thanks, Sheriff. Happy hunting and good luck. Let us know if you need more help." He hung up. "It's a bold plan according to him. He was hoping their local hunters could use their dogs."
"It's scent would send the dogs into heat." He shrugged one-sidedly. "Sometimes you have to improvise."
"Good point." He watched Xander get to work. "How are you doing?"
"I'm fine. My stomach was rebelling during breakfast, nothing too unusual. I was half-asleep and sometimes my stomach doesn't realize what it's supposed to do with the new stuff I put in it when I'm that tired." He grimaced. "Besides, Dawn needed hugged too." He looked over. "I'm fine, Eric. Really."
Daniel came out of the office. "Xander, the president wanted to know what happened last night."
"They wanted their person back?" he suggested. "Do we have security footage?"
"We do. Go talk to him while I get it to send it over." Xander grimaced but went to the office. Daniel headed down to security. "The president wants the film of last night's attempted assault."
"We can compress it for you," the head of security agreed. "These new military guys?"
"They're going to be busy today setting up and things. Cleaning and checking their weapons, those things." That got a nod. "If they need House, let them down to the infirmary or any of their docs if they want." He took the CD, heading back upstairs.
To part 41
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