Eight months later Dean and Sam both looked back at the magical tinkling going on in the backseat of the Impala. "Just dropping in for a visit?" Dean joked. They hadn't seen anyone out there in person since John's funeral two months ago. Sammy's girlfriend had died weeks after the reunion and he had rejoined the hunting then.
"Oh, you know, it's the end of the world and they decided I should come visit you guys instead of being in the way of a houseful of slayers," she quipped.
"A houseful of slayers," Dean said, considering that idea. He slowed the car's speed so he could think, talk, and drive without going off the road. "Why?"
"The First Evil."
Sam frowned. "As in the very first evil? Or as in one that wants to be the first evil?"
She shrugged but she was grinning. "Like they tell me shit!"
"Language," Dean ordered.
"You say it."
"I'm not a fifteen-year-old girl," Dean shot back.
"Now and then you do pout like one," Sam teased.
"I'll beat your ass later." He glanced at Dawn in the mirror. "I know you probably came with a verbal message?"
"Keep me until it's done and they're out of hell again."
Dean blinked a few times. "In hell?" Sam asked. She nodded, grimacing. "Like opening a devil's gate into hell?"
"No. Like the First Evil bitch has a spot open and they're going to go inside to fight her," Dawn said.
"Uh-huh," Dean said slowly. "Do they need help?"
"It only takes seven slayers and they have fifteen at the moment. Willow activated them late last night."
Dean moaned. "That's gotta be a sorority porno in the making."
"Buffy's in charge," Dawn said.
"Never mind, she's too uptight to let the girls have fun," Dean sighed, shaking his head. "Waste of a perfectly good setup for amateur porn." Sam swatted him. "Quit, Sammy!"
"Not everyone's a pervert like you," he shot back. He turned to look at Dawn better. "Anything else we should know? Because it's been a suspiciously long time since we talked to Xander. Usually we get emails or phone calls every few days. It's been two weeks since we've heard."
"Dad's being a goober. He probably can't see well enough at the moment to write since he's refusing pain killers."
"Why?" Dean asked calmly.
"Because one of the big dweeb's minions popped one of his eyes." Dean pulled over so fast she had to grab the back of the front seat. "Easy on me! Xander would be *totally* pissed if I died from that move. Plus, it's not really courteous to other drivers, Dean."
He turned to look at her. "They'll get over it." He stared into her eyes. "Someone did what to my baby brother?"
She was starting to realize why demons found Dean scary. "Took a dirty fingernail to it so he could see differently. Spike stopped him from doing the other. Some insane minister guy named Caleb."
Dean took a calming breath then let it out. No wonder Xander hadn't written or called in a while. "So, Xander's going into hell to fight with fifteen slayers and your witch, plus Spike probably, even though he's missing an eye and he's in shitloads of pain?"
"Not so much pain but now and then it aches. Willow thinks he's got phantom limb syndrome."
"Is he missing something else?" Dean demanded.
"No, just that." She grinned. "He didn't tell you because he didn't want you two to worry."
"Yeah!" Dean snorted. "That'll work!" He looked at Sam. "Want to watch the niece?"
"Think Bobby would? We're within an hour of there."
"They're going in later today," Dawn said. "I don't know if we can use portals. I haven't studied what the shiny green stuff in my blood can do."
Dean stared at her, then pulled out his phone to call Xander. "You had better come out alive, little brother. Fully, one hundred percent alive. Am I clear?" Xander quipped. He growled. "You better not lose your other eye either! Dumbass! We wanted to know about that stuff!" He listened to him tell him why. "So you're gonna see like Sammy does?" He groaned. "Okay, listen. If you're really in hell, some of the shades can help. There's all sorts of hunters in hell, even Dad, Xander. See if you can call them."
Xander called Willow's name to ask that. She squealed and apparently hugged him because he grunted. "Can the Wicked Witch of Sunnydale get us there to help you guys? Because we will if you can get us there. We're near Bobby's and he used to watch us so we trust him to watch Dawn." He listened then sighed.
"We want a call as soon as you fucking get back to this plane, little brother. Or else I'm calling Gibbs. Am I clear?" Xander quipped again. "Yes, even from the ER. As soon as you humanly can." He hung up and looked at the phone. Dawn held out hers. He smirked. "They could use the help." He dialed the number in the phone book. "Gibbs, Dean Winchester." He smirked at the gruff response.
"Xander's team is getting ready to head into hell to fight the First Evil tonight. Yes, that's what I said. We have no idea but they think it'll close the hellmouth permanently. Which could mean they'll need disaster workers, we're not sure. I know they've got fifteen slayers now called who're going into hell to fight. Yeah, I said that." He smirked. "That's why I'm calling. I figure you can get it into the right ears out by them so they either have some backup in hell or there's people waiting to handle the fallout and injuries. Thanks, man. We have Dawn." He hung up. "He's swearing in Marine."
"That's what I'd be doing, only in a less known language," Sam admitted. Dawn snickered. "We would. Bobby's?"
"Yeah, let's. In case we need to see it." He started the car and tossed the cellphone back. "Bobby will have you drink holy water. He will be on the porch with a shotgun when we pull up. Don't mind his dog. It helps him hunt."
"I love dogs. Think I could play with it?"
"It's a huge, slobbery thing," Sam said with a small grin. "Ask first."
"Sure." She buckled up and got comfortable. "Xander evacuated all our stuff to LA last week. We've been at Angel's mansion."
"That makes sense. It's easily defended, will fit all the girls, has room for stuff," Dean agreed. He called Bobby. "It's Dean, Sam, and our niece Dawn. Longer than average story, Bobby. Didn't Dad tell you the Marines made him a few new kids?" He smirked. "Turn on the tv, we're heading your way because one of them is going into hell to battle the First Evil with the slayers later. Few hours. Thanks, man." He hung up. "He'll do that."
Somewhere up the road, an older man swore and found the book he needed to look things up in. He wanted to know what that meant. That sounded really horrible and like they'd be overrun sometime soon.
Xander blinked at the man standing over his bed. "It worked? You're back?"
"I'm back," John agreed. "Willow's spell to call us back helped a lot." He smoothed down his hair. "I'm going to paddle you black and blue for going into that two weeks after you lost an eye, son."
Xander grinned to try to stay out of trouble. "It was necessary."
"I don't care. Especially since you're grinning like Dean after his first hunt." He patted him again. "They said you're fine to go when you woke up. You passed out on the bus from your injuries."
Xander made himself sit up with a groan. "Let me hit the bathroom; can I have a soda on the way out?"
"Sure. We're going to the Hyperion to regroup. Dean wants a call."
"I'll do that on the way."
"Your cellphone is still in hell, son."
"Uh-huh." He handed over his. His sons had burned him with it so it went with him. "Call in the bathroom." Xander grinned, taking it that way to babble at his big brother while he relieved himself. John got the nurse. "He's awake and in the bathroom." She got the papers to discharge him, letting him sign since Xander had been knocked out. Xander came out and hung up. "Want to hit the Hyperion, food?"
"ER? That way I can check on the others?"
"Two are here. The rest are at the Hyperion." He took him to check. Willow had extreme magical exhaustion. She was limp in a bed getting IV fluid and being forced to take a nap. He kissed her on the head, whispering something into her ear. Then he headed to the other room. The slayer in there sniffled so he let her cry on him. John smiled. His boy was good with the slayers. She finally got discharged too and they headed back together. John pulled through somewhere to get them burgers. The others had probably eaten already.
Buffy looked up as Xander and Cho walked in. "How's Willow?"
"Forced nap and liquids. She's fine."
"Good." She slumped again. "Dawn?"
"Willow sent her to Dean. She's playing with another hunter's dog."
"He has dogs?" she asked with a frown. "We won't have room for her to adopt one for a long time, Xander."
"He hunts demons with his," John said.
She shrugged. "She'll still try to adopt it. She's like that."
John nodded. "Bobby'll straighten her out. Dean will never let it in the car because it slobbers."
"Eww. That's nearly as bad as demon slime." She shuddered. So did a few of the other girls. She looked at them. "Giles tested and the new hellmouth is in Cleveland."
Xander stared at her. "Dad's gonna hate that."
John nodded. "Gibbs will throw a fit." He clapped Xander on the back. "I'll help get the girls there with you, Buffy." She smiled. "Any idea where the others she called are?"
"All over the world."
"That's going to be a problem but we'll help you figure it out." She nodded, smiling. "Go rest. You need it after a battle."
"I'm bouncy and hyper. Post patrol hyper."
"That's called battle nerves. Go club and get laid," he said bluntly. She blushed, shaking her head while staring at her feet. "The girls will understand, Buffy. They've got the same thing probably. Take them all for a night off. They earned it."
Faith walked out of the kitchen with a sandwich. "We have but she's uptight. Girls, we're going to the club to wear out the nerves and get some of us who're old enough laid. Get dressed!" she bellowed. She ate a bite. "You too, B." Buffy glared. "Now. You partied hard after patrol a few times I'm sure."
Xander gave her a nudge. "I'll be up." She nodded, going to get redressed. He shook his head. "Be safe, Faith."
She smirked. "I always play safely."
He grinned. "I should hook you and my big brother Dean up." John swatted him. "What? They're a lot alike in some ways." He patted himself down but John shook his head. "I lost my wallet too?"
"It was on the bus, with your pack of things," Buffy called as she came back down the stairs. "A few are napping."
"If they can manage it, more power to 'em," Xander said. She smiled and the girls went with her and Faith to club. They'd end up teaching most of them how to dance but the old watchers sucked that way.
John found Giles, leaning into the office. "Xander and Cho are back. Buffy and Faith took the girls to wear out the battle stress. Any other immediate issues?"
"I think I might go insane with this situation," he admitted, looking at the other man. "I'm going to be responsible for rebuilding the Council."
John mentally snorted. This is the heavy thought that hits the man after surviving another apocalypse that destroyed a town? "Giles, it'll never be the same. Mourn, move on to create something that does work, and deal with the reality of the situation. You need people to get the girls, people to train the girls, and somewhere for them to train and live. That's got to come first."
Giles sighed, taking off his glasses to rub his eyes. "I know. How is Xander?"
"Bump on the head. He's trying hard not to get paddled for being in the battle two weeks after losing an eye and trying to hide the fact his own battle nerves are ongoing and he's shaky."
Giles nodded. "He always did, John. We'll be leaving for Cleveland within two weeks. Once I find somewhere for us to reside."
Xander leaned under the arm John was bracing against the doorway. "Send Buffy and Faith or a few of the older girls ahead, Giles. They can stay at a hotel. It'll take you longer than two weeks to find and buy a big enough place." That got a nod and a smile. "Also, have someone look online. Places that big are listed because they go for a lot of money. I can call Sam if you want. They've been to Cleveland I'm sure and might know somewhere."
"I'll call them myself. That's not a bad idea, Xander."
"Giles, the girls aren't really ready to take on duties," John told him, smirking at his son. "That was a good idea though." Xander smirked back before walking off. "Eat something more, son. I doubt you did earlier."
"I'd puke it back up. I'll eat later on."
"Hey, I cook very well!" Fred complained.
Xander looked at her. "Fred, earlier today I was in hell dealing with Turok Han and a lot of new slayers. I shouldn't eat even if the greatest cook in the world who only cooked with chocolatey goodness was doing the cooking."
"I know how that feels." She gave him a hug and let him go when he shifted because he felt uncomfortable. "Are you okay?"
"My head kinda hurts. Any tylenol?" She found it and handed it over with a smile. "Thanks, Fred. Who called the military to clean things up?"
"Ah. John, did you call Gibbs?" he asked before dry swallowing three pills.
"No. I was still dead then, son." He shot him a dirty look. "It was probably Sammy. Dean maybe if he was in overprotective mode."
"Hmm. Speaking of, we need to call Dawn." He frowned, going to find his pack from the bus. He found it and his calling card, going inside to call her. "Hey, sprout. Dog?" He listened to her babble and fight off Dean by swatting him. "Tell him thanks for calling Gibbs, whichever did it. No, I'm good. They're wearing out stress. We're doing a slow move to Cleveland. Have Sam look to see if he can find the new Council somewhere to squat?" He grinned. "No, I'm still fine. Let them have the phone after I switch over." He handed it to John and walked off.
"Hey, kitten," John said. He had to wince at the loudness of the squeal. "Before you put Dean on, can you put on Bobby?" He smiled. "Of course. Here in LA. I'll be helping herd the girls. Thanks, kitten." He laughed at what she said. "Buffy was worried you'd try to dognap Rumsfeld. I'll let her know you don't like being slobbered on." The phone was handed over on that side. "Morning." He laughed, checking his watch. "On the west coast either but it is a good greeting." He listened. "They called all the hunters' spirits to help in the fight and Willow basically brought most of us back to life if we didn't fall during the battle, Bobby. Yeah, I'm here. I'm good. Watching Xander pace around to try to control his battle nerves. I'd do that but I saw her fall," he said quietly.
Xander stared at him. "He asked about Anya." Xander nodded and walked further away. "Are they okay?" He smiled. "Sure, let the others hear. I'm in LA and we'll be riding herd on the girls on the way to Cleveland soon enough. The boys can help on that end or here. We're not sure how bad Cleveland is yet. Sure. Thanks, Bobby." He grinned as Dean stole the phone. "Hello, son." Dean gasped and said something. "If you speak just a bit faster, that'll be your younger brother's babble. I'm impressed you're picking up his habits too." He laughed. "Willow when she called us to help with the battle. A few fell again but they got to move onto where they should've been. I'm good. Xander's got some nerves. No, the left." He nodded.
"Eyepatch too. Sure, I'm here. This is his calling card so I'll let you two go. No, his phone fell out during the battle. If you call you might get one of the evil super vampires." He laughed. "Tell Sammy I said hi." He hung up and went to find Xander. He could hover over this one. He was injured, battle weary, and grieving. He'd need some comfort sometime. Even if his boy was trying to hide. He heard where he was and situated himself nearby so his son could find him later when he needed to talk. He hadn't loved Anya like John had loved his Mary, but it was close enough and his son's first true, long term, meaningful relationship. Xander walked past him so he held up the calling card. "They're seeing if they can help and checking with the hunter near Cleveland to see how bad it is right now."
"Welcome." He looked at him. "Want a beer?"
"I hate drinking."
"I got to that point but sometimes you need one."
"If I rely on that to relax then I'll end up on the same road the 'rents were on." He gave him a look. "Thanks for trying."
John nodded. "I'll be up and around." Xander nodded, going back to his laps around the hotel while he thought and checked the security. He got up to fix his son something to calm his nerves, handing it to him when he walked past on one of his laps. Xander shook his head but sipped the coffee on the way. The girls came back and he saw a few who were clearly drunk. "Go to bed."
"Who're you?" one demanded. "You're not a Watcher."
"I've been a demon hunter for over twenty years, young lady. I raised two others. I'm also Xander's father. You're drunker'n shit. Go to bed." She huffed off.
Buffy walked in, smiling at him. "Doing daddy duty?"
"Two drunk ones."
"Tonight's a good night for it," she said. She bopped him on the arm. "Are the boys coming out?"
"Calling around to the hunters near Cleveland to see how bad it is for the forward scouting team Xander suggested and watching Dawn go 'eww' at the dog drool."
She snickered. "Good to know. Means she won't want to adopt it." Faith strolled in with a drunker-than-the-other-two girl. "Put her to bed?"
"Can't I drop her off a balcony?" Faith asked.
John reached over and smacked the girl lightly across the face. "Hit your bunk, slayer. Now." She grumbled something but went to bed. He looked at her. "Tomorrow, get them up early for PT. That'll make sure they quit drinking that much unless it's a horrible situation."
Buffy nodded. "Early for us is noon so that'd be good," she decided. "Night, John. Night, Faith."
"Night, B. I'll herd X that way too."
"Leave him to me. He's thinking," he said, watching his son walk back their way. "The girls are mostly back. Two are still out."
"They're still making out in the back of Angel's car in the parking lot." He looked at Faith. "Go to bed. I've got it. Not like I'm not used to short hours with work."
She nodded. "Okay. If you're sure." She patted him on the arm as she walked past him. She melted into the shadows to see how John would deal with his son.
John stared at him. "I can channel Sammy and offer a hug," he said.
Xander snorted. "Sammy would be appalled and so would Dean."
"They're not here." He moved closer, making his son look at him. "Ready to talk about it?" Xander shook his head, getting free. "You sure?" He got a nod. "I'm going to make a sandwich if you want one."
"No, I'm good. Thanks, John." He walked off again, going to herd those two girls back inside since they were down to cuddling. He tapped on the window. "Slayer bedtime, ladies." They groaned but went inside. He looked at one's back and frowned. "Willow's going to be *really* upset," he muttered, going back to his security rounds. After another two John captured him to hold him, making him struggle for a few minutes but give up and go limp. "I saw her fall."
"So did I. If I had been closer I would've taken it for her. The same as you would have," John said quietly. Xander turned to look at him. "She went into the battle knowing it was possible she'd die. She wasn't the best fighter and she knew that. The same as that young, geeky boy did." Xander slumped, nodding. He made his son look at him. "It sucks but it's part of the life, Xander. Would it have been any easier if they had been turned?"
"They decided to go into the battle. You didn't make them. They made you guys take them."
Xander nodded. "They did."
"Then relax and let it happen, kiddo. It's grief. Grief, plus combat stress. Guys snap from this in the field all the time." Xander looked at him. "I don't want you to snap."
Xander shook his head. "I'm not near that point."
"If you're sure." He got a slight nod. "Good. Then hit your room. I'll be up for a few hours and Angel's prowling somewhere."
"Fine." He smiled. "Is that where Dean gets his fussing and mother henning over Sammy from?"
"Had to be. Mary fussed some but I was the hyper-protective one thanks to the demons." Xander nodded, heading inside. He smiled at his son's back. "I'm proud you made it out and your plan was so good, son." Xander shot a grin back before heading inside. He looked at the shadow. "Go to bed, Faith."
"Fine. Should I offer him a shoulder?"
"No. He might think you're hitting on him." She snorted, going to her own bed. He looked up then shook his head. "This is going to be a mess for months."
Angel coughed as he slid out of the shadows. "We can work on someone getting you legal papers, Winchester."
"Thanks. Can they fix where Dean died due to a shapeshifter?"
"I can ask." He stared at him. "Send Xander to find the other girls."
John looked at him. "That might help him calm down but he'd be awfully lonely. My boy needs to have people around him to feel comfortable. Let him heal before he does that." That got a nod. "How's the local community handling it?"
"They're having a 'thank god it was Sunnydale and not us' moment," he said blandly.
John smiled. "Having something like that happen here would be worse. A lot more people to die from it." Angel shuddered. "We'll start making plans to get out of your hair tomorrow."
"Thanks. I'm not used to such bouncy young girls anymore." He went back inside "We have a security system."
"And a law firm who can hire people to break it," he said. Angel groaned. "They're watching from across the street."
Angel went to run them off. He didn't need Wolfram and Hart today too. That was too much for his nerves; he'd lose his temper. That was never good for the world.
Dean hung up and looked at Bobby. "How many hunters?"
"No clue," he admitted. "They should probably be heading to the Roadhouse." He called over there. "Jo, Bobby Singer. Get your Ma for me now please?" He grimaced. "No, it's vital. Turn on the news, girl. It's about that." She got her mother from outside. "Ellen, Bobby." He smiled. "Sunnydale did fall in." Dawn grimaced at that, going back to playing with his dog. "Dawn, don't spoil his training," he ordered. "No, Winchester's granddaughter Dawn. Long story. Later. Right now, the team out there had to call some help from the former hunters since they went into hell to fight the First Evil earlier." She gasped. He laughed at the begging. "I haven't been drinking, Ellen. I talked to John a few minutes ago. He's with his middle son in LA after the fallout. Yeah, they brought 'em back to help with the battle. None of us would've turned it down."
Dawn looked over. "If they died, they probably got to go to wherever they belonged instead of wherever their demon-contract had them," she offered.
"That's a good point. Dawn said if they fell during it, they'd get to move onto their rewards. I'm sure. He's with the team there and the one in LA probably. Regrouping at the moment, calming down nerves. Long story short, the Marines were running a study to make future soldiers. John was an unknowing donor for it. He has three extra sons. One in Nevada, one at NCIS in DC, and one who is on the slayer's team out in Sunnydale. Xander, yeah. Dawn is his girl thanks to magic. So he's back and you've probably got some who're heading your way at the moment. Yeah, a head's up. At home with the younger Winchesters. And her," he agreed, but laughed when she stuck her tongue out. "Thanks, Ellen. Good luck." He hung up. "She's going to swear at her truck."
"That's enough to make me swear too," Dean agreed, looking at Sam. "He didn't want to run up Xander's calling card bill. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to you, Sammy. He's probably still trying to calm Xander down after the battle since he said Anya fell." Dawn gasped and he moaned. "I didn't tell you?"
"No!" She got up and hit him on the arm. "Who else!"
"Um, not real sure," he admitted. She found her cellphone and called the hotel, walking outside with Sam and the dog following to talk to them. Dean rubbed his arm. Bobby snickered quietly. "They're teaching her how to hit pretty well. She's nearly as strong as Sammy is."
Bobby laughed louder. "You're such a big brother to her."
"Uncle, please. I get to nag her father for not telling me he lost an eye two weeks ago. Otherwise we'd have been there too." He stomped off to fume about Xander not wanting him there. Didn't he think they could help? They would've helped if they had known! Sam came around the house. "Why didn't he tell us?" he demanded.
"Because he didn't want to worry about losing us, Dean," he said quietly, glancing around. "He wanted us to be safe and to take care of Dawn in case he died." Dean slumped, still glaring at the ground. "He would've kicked himself forever if he had caused one of the family to die. He's still kicking himself about Anya and Andrew dying during it." Dean looked at him. "He fell while doing some sort of spell."
"Basically. He didn't want to face that with us." He gave him a punch on the arm. "Dawn needs to hit the sack soon. She's only fifteen."
"Good point. At least we don't have to give her a bath." He went to find her. She was talking to John about the demon trying to menace her. Dean did the practical thing and got a shotgun, shooting it. "Bitch, leave the family alone! How stupid are you!"
Bobby took his gun back. "Apparently very stupid."
Dawn looked back at them. "Grandpa said to work on your aim, Dean. He said that was way too close to me."
"You were in front of it. Be thankful I didn't have to wound you to get it."
"Then we might see what Glory did," she said dryly.
"You're so taking lessons about that stuff," Sam said as he came out. "Hang up. Bedtime."
She pouted. "I don't need to go to bed!"
"Tough. Bedtime. Now." He came out to take the phone. "We're enforcing a bedtime. She'll talk to you guys tomorrow, Dad." He listened then smiled. "Good to know. Everyone okay?" He nodded. "That's reasonable. Thanks." He hung up and walked her inside. Dean got her their sleeping bags, making Bobby give him a dirty look.
"The bed's not big enough for the three of us, Bobby. Besides, she might cuddle Sammy and he'd go all gooey minded because she's a girl and he never touches them." He tossed Dawn the bedroll. "On the side away from the door and windows just in case something tries to get you."
She gave him an odd look. "I am not sleeping in the bathroom, Dean. Nothing's going to get me here. I'm over that whole Tuesday thing, especially with it being Friday."
He shrugged. "So?" He smirked. "Bed. Now." She huffed off. "Don't steal the bed either or I'm paddling your ass like you were a kid!" he called after her.
"Yay you. You'd probably enjoy it too because you're a huge ass perverted bastard who needs to know what good girls are like since all you get are skanky hos," she called back. Bobby's mouth fell open. She grinned. "Not like he gets the good girls. He's probably caught all sorts of nasty things off the skanks he gets in the bars." She went up there and found a cot. She put the bedroll on it and settled in to nap. She'd get up later to think and stare outside.
"How did she know you caught the clap when you were fifteen?" Sam teased.
"I did not!" Dean shouted.
"Bullshit. I remember Dad chewing you a new one on the way to the clinic."
"I don't need to hear this," Bobby said, heading back inside. He whistled but his dog went to guard Dawn, earning a dirty look at its tail. "You can't live with her, Rumsfeld." His dog barked but went to curl up with the girl who petted him so nicely. Bobby shook his head. Girls were strange. "I'm so glad you two weren't born girls," he complained when Dean came in.
"Are you sure Sammy's not?"
Bobby looked at him. "No, they were certain about him. You were the questionable one, Dean. Probably the last time you were ever shy about anything but your dad said you hid your penis from every single ultrasound. He ended up repainting your room when you were born a boy."
Sam cackled, heading up to bed. "Night, Bobby. Thanks."
"Welcome, Sam." He smirked at the cocky young one with the horrified look on his face. "Your Ma was so sure you were the girl she wanted."
"I was saving up macho points for now," he said firmly. He headed up to get Sammy off the good side of the bed in the guest room. The dog stared at him. "What're you looking at, mutt?"
"Apparently he thinks you're a bitch in heat," Sam teased.
Dean slapped him. "I am not."
"Guys, no more manMS," Dawn mumbled. "It's annoying and I'll turn you both into girls. Since I'd be dabbling, you'd be stuck that way until Willow regained strength." She shifted and the dog moved, curling up behind her calves. "Good puppy dog." She reached down to pet it then went back to sleep.
Dean and Sam both shuddered but let her sleep. He could get Sam back in the morning for saying that. When Dawn was out doing something less useful than hexing them.
Gibbs calmed himself, walking outside to get some air. Tony followed him silently. "They're all fine."
"Who called?" Tony asked.
Gibbs looked at him. "John."
"Didn't Dean say he died?" he asked quietly. "I could've sworn we went to the Viking style funeral."
Gibbs nodded. "He told me Willow called them back during the battle. I asked, he said this won't be happening again. They tied her down tightly and sealed the hellmouth so it cannot come open again. But there's a new one opening in Cleveland."
"Wonderful," he sighed. He glanced at the building then at his boss. "Hey, boss, any word on Xander or Dawn? Xander hasn't emailed or anything in a few weeks."
Gibbs snorted, finishing his current cup of coffee, wishing it was liquor instead. "He lost an eye two weeks ago. He was at the battle. John's hovering over him since he lost Anya during the battle."
"Excuse me? Xander lost an eye and he didn't tell us!" he demanded.
"John said the kid didn't want to worry either of us so we wouldn't be in danger."
"Not gonna happen," he said coolly.
"A forward scout team of the girls will be in Cleveland within days. He'll probably be with the last group. They're going to have to rebuild everything from the ground up." Ducky came out. "What's the probable consequences of having an eye popped, Ducky?"
"If they couldn't save it, it was most likely removed surgically. The poor being would probably have pain killers for a bit but be able to go through rehabilitation so he or she could drive and all that again. Why?"
"Xander got his popped two weeks ago by an insane minister who was a minion of the last bad thing they fought," Gibbs said. Tony whimpered, tensing up all over. He had to force himself to calm down. "He's fine, DiNozzo. He made it through the battle and is in LA trying to sleep."
"I'm going to kick his ass for not telling us," he growled.
Ducky smiled. "I'm sure he's fine and he didn't want you to worry, Anthony." He looked at Gibbs. "Is this why the news out that way was reporting a large earthquake had taken out the town? They said it had been pulled into a sinkhole of immense suction proportions. Destroyed everything in it."
Tony stomped off. "I'm calling someone."
"He's in bed, DiNozzo. John doesn't have a phone. He said the boys were guarding Dawn at a friend's place." Tony went to the building's gym to beat the heavy bag until he was calm. He looked at his old friend. "No lasting physical complications?"
"Depth perception issues. Most states do have a way for those who have depth perception problems to get around it if they're still fit to drive. Some states won't let him. I have no idea which one California is."
"He'll be moving to Cleveland."
"Or there. I can have Abigail look it up tomorrow if you wanted."
"Please. Headaches or migraines?"
"That may depend on him, Jethro. Also what sort of additional damage he took."
"Willow," he explained.
"Didn't that start off this current mess?" he demanded.
"Different way this time. It won't happen again." Ducky sighed in relief. "John said it was a dirty fingernail."
"Then he shouldn't have more than flashbacks to it," he told him. "Unless the finger attached used extraordinary force."
Jethro nodded. "Good. We can handle those. Maybe now he'll give up hunting."
"There are other hunters with injuries, Jethro. Plus if there's more than one girl, he's got to handle them and Dawn."
"Good point. Thanks, Ducky."
"It's not a problem but I would be wary of bringing him here." He gave the office area a look then him. "Things may not go very well for certain people."
"She pulls her usual bonehead stuff around Xander and he'll chew her out," he agreed. "Maybe have her eaten too. One never knows about Xander."
"He is an amazing young man. Have you told the others?"
"I'll log onto the chat room to let everyone know. Thanks." He gave him a pat on the arm as he walked around him to get inside. He sat down at his desk, staring at his computer before logging in and getting onto the 'clan's' bulletin board. He typed a quick message saying everyone was all right in Sunnydale, Xander and John both. Dawn had been with Dean and Sam. He sent it and got back a message from Ryan asking how John was alive. He put in the name 'Willow' and saw a few cyber shudders. But it had to be known. He logged out and got back to work on their current case. Tony finally came back up. "You good?"
"Hell no," he snorted. "I'm too tired to beat anything else."
"Work then take a short nap later."
Tony wiped his face off with the towel in his desk, sitting down to do that. "You tell anyone?"
"I put out a message on the board."
"I'm sure they're outraged." He got back to his current search. "Hey, boss, would her boyfriend's boyfriend be a possible reason why she was killed?"
"Yes," he decided. Tony sent it to him. "Where did you find this?"
"I googled her name for any articles containing it. That's his personal journal."
"Why is it online?"
"Because some people like to put their thoughts out there, boss. They share and stuff."
He shuddered. "Let's start the warrant."
"On it, boss. Probie!" he snapped, waking him up. "Finish this search, trace this guy," he said, IM-ing it to him. "His insanejournal entry said he killed her because she was stealing his boyfriend."
He grimaced. "Insanejournal is like livejournal but I guess he went there for a totally different reason." He found his site and captured what they'd need for the warrant. "He's logging in remotely. He's not at home. He's at a hotel down by Richmond, boss." He yawned, rubbing his eyes. He got back to work on the search. Tony faxed in the warrant request. They waited and built a solid case against the guy. He deserved it for what he had done.
Dean and Sam looked at the last of the girls their father was escorting with their brother. Dawn scampered over to pounce Xander. One of the girls sneered so she backhanded her. "Shut up, slut. This is my father and he wouldn't date you anyway. You're not near evil enough for him." She went back to cuddling Xander. "You're okay?"
"Still tired but otherwise only a few bruises, some scratches, and a huge bump on the head. Dad woke me up to get me free of the hospital." Willow got out of the car she was traveling in. "Look who pounced."
"Dawn." She got her own hug. "Sandy, shut up. Dawn is Buffy's little sister."
"She just said Xander was her father!" she sneered.
"He is. The magic that created her made her from Joyce and Xander." She went back to hugging her. Then she looked at her. "What's this I hear you did an exorcism?"
"It was trying to eat Bobby's dog."
"That's fine then. You didn't adopt, right? Buffy would be *way* pissed at some huge, slobbery thing that would drool on her shoes."
"No. He wouldn't let me. He did say if he could find a puppy he'd train them to go hunting with the girls. He trained his to hunt demons with him."
"That's a pretty cool offer," she said happily. She let her go. "Hey, guys."
"Willow," Dean said. "Just to make sure, Dad and them being called back won't wake her back up?"
"No! Totally different way," she promised with a grin. "It was your idea."
"It was but I wasn't sure you'd rehuman them."
"Well, yeah," she said dryly. She pinched John on the arm, getting a tolerant look back. "Relax."
"Not yet. Kennedy..." Xander stopped him. "She's got to be here."
"Let Willow pounce, Dad." Willow beamed and headed inside. He motioned the guys away from the door. "I found Kennedy boinking Sandy in LA," he said very quietly. "I want out of range." They nodded, going to talk by the truck. Willow's shriek nearly shook the house and brought the other girls running. Faith carried Kennedy out and tossed her out of the house. "Where's patrol schedules, Faith?"
She looked at him. "Training, X. Say it with me. Training. Ain't no way B'll let you go on patrol with that hole in your head until she's sure you're capable."
"Inside, upper floor. Near your apartment with D there." She grinned at the guys, pinching Dean's arm. "He said you were cute and fun." She sashayed inside. "She's out of the house, Willow. We'll deal with her later."
"How could that bitch do that to me!" Willow shouted.
Xander leaned in, then went to where she was fuming. "You're levitating Dad's truck." She concentrated and it went back down. "Thanks." He crossed his arms, looking at her. "You want to hear more?"
She glared. "You knew?"
"I knew she was engaging in some stress relief back in LA later that night. I wasn't about to tell you that. I figured it might be an isolated incident and she does know I caught her. I sent them in to bed." She slumped, sitting down covering her face. "I had no idea how to tell you and I didn't think she'd be stupid enough to do it in the house with all the girls around." He gave her a hug. "I'm sorry."
"No. It's better I know instead of drawing it out." She looked at him. "Next time, tell me?"
"And have Dawn need to buy me a collar?" he snorted. "Yeah, right."
"I have control." He pointed at the still floating things outside. She put them back down with a groan and went to work on her control exercises. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome." He looked at Buffy, who swatted him. "If I had told you, she would've leveled LA," he said quietly. "Right out of the hospital. She didn't need that and I truly thought she wouldn't be that fucking dumb."
"I don't know why she was," Buffy admitted.
Faith nodded. "True. We've all got great hearing from the slayer gig. I don't know why we didn't catch them at it."
"She had a pillow over her head," Willow said from her corner.
"That makes more sense," Faith said.
"Who was she with in LA?" Buffy asked. Xander pointed at the skank still glaring at Dawn. "Hell," she muttered.
Xander grinned. "She questioned how she can be my daughter and your sister."
"Monks. They did it. I know very well my mother wouldn't hit on you." She punched him on the arm. "Let your brothers fuss over your eye. You can settle in later and Giles said your apartment had a guest room or three." She walked over there to talk to Sandy and the other girls. "Ladies, let's act like adults now and then please? Poaching is a trifling thing to do to any of us."
"Especially since Willow can turn you into something gross and make you a pet," Dawn said smugly. Sandy shrieked and went after her with her nails. Dawn punched her but she got up and came back again. Dawn fought and when she was nearly pinned she reached for her magic, making Sandy shriek as she shrank down to a four-inch-high doll. "That was *so* fucking dumb," she said dryly, staring at her. "Hello, I'm more powerful than Willow is, stupid bitch!" She punted her and stomped outside sniffling. "Sandy attacked me. I made her tiny." Sam pulled her closer to hug but Xander stole her to hug instead when he made it outside.
John stared at her. "On purpose, Dawn?"
"She fought with her first but Sandy was using slayer strength," Xander said calmly. "She got Dawn pinned. Dawn instinctively reacted. I don't know if making her mouse sized was intentional. Dawnster?"
She sniffled, looking up at him. "No. I meant to float her."
"You're so getting magic lessons," he said bluntly.
She nodded, resting her head against his chest. "Yes, dad."
Willow leaned out. "I corrected it. Don't feel bad, Dawn. It's easy to confuse those two."
"I do not want her making the same sort of mistakes you used to make when you said 'what does this do'," Xander said, mimicking her. She blushed. "Am I clear?"
"Very. We'll get one of the coven's members over to help her, Xander."
"Thank you." He looked at her. "Feel better?" She nodded. "Good. Go check my suite so I know if I need to buy a pullout sofa or anything." She went to do that with Buffy and a few of the other girls. He grinned. "I'm told I have a guest room at least."
"That's cool," Dean agreed. "We can rest here and get Dad used to being alive again."
"I've already figured out my body's the same," John said dryly.
"So?" Sam said, grimacing. "Do you want to see Buffy flounder being a mom to all the slayers?"
"No," he said. They went inside to check out Xander's apartment. It was nice, had two bedrooms. An attached bathroom with an older cast iron tub. It already had a hide-a-bed sofa and two beds in the spare room. It connected to another combined bedroom/bathroom area that was clearly meant to be Dawn's by the boyband posters on the wall.
"You have better taste than that," Dean said dryly.
She looked at him. "What do I care what they sound like? I'm staring at their packages and faces, Dean."
He stared at her, mouth slightly open. "You're too young for sex!" he said finally.
"There's girls my age with two kids," she shot back.
"You'd better never be one!" he countered. "Not until you're older than I am!"
Dawn stared at him. "Xander said I could start dating at sixteen and Buffy did too once she remembered she pinned Angel into bed at seventeen and was dating at my current age." Dean growled. She smirked evilly. "That means I can wear my blue skirt," she pulled it out of the closet with a pair of heels. "And go clubbing."
He snatched it and tossed it onto the bed. "Like hell."
John leaned in. "Dean, she'll have to date sometime so she knows what a dirtbag most men are," he said patiently. "Even if you don't like it."
"See, Grandpa understands."
"I'm going to sew you shut if you have sex before sixteen," Xander called from the couch. "And I get to meet each and every single boyfriend so I can threaten their asses until they're too scared of me to want to do more than kiss you."
"As long as you don't hit on them," she called back.
"I doubt we have the same tastes, Dawn. But if you want to try girls, go for it."
She laughed, going to hug him. "Thank you for the blessing. When do I get to find the local teen club?"
He checked his watch. "When you're sixteen." He looked at her. "Which is in how many weeks?"
"Six," she said, looking glum.
"Good!" He smiled. "We'll be busy setting things up anyway and you can talk Dean or someone into teaching you how to drive for when you finally get a job and can afford a car of your own." She squealed, going to pounce John and beg cutely for driving lessons. He laid down, getting comfortable while he listened to her begging and pleading. He fell asleep there.
Dean came over, staring at him. He pointed. John nodded it was normal. They left him there and went to talk to Buffy about her driving lessons. She had to learn so someone had to teach her. How John ended up agreeing to give the other girls lessons as well he wasn't sure... but he'd live through it. He had lived through Dean stealing the car for sex. He had lived through Sam's nerves at going too fast. He'd survive driving slayers and witches.
Ten days later Giles found John with the girls working on their PT for being brats again. "John, may I have a word?" The other man nodded, walking off with him. "I..." He took off his glasses to look at him. "I fear I have no idea what I'm doing."
"I can't help you with paperwork, Giles. I haven't done paperwork since Sam was eight months old and it was for an insurance repair job. You could ask Gibbs or Mac. They might be able to help."
Giles smiled. "I might think on that later. Would they know anything about the life these girls must live?"
John shrugged. "They've all asked careful questions and they have good imaginations. They know we don't arrest or read the demons their rights." That got a slow nod. "They're all very glad they don't have to deal with it but one of them might be able to be an administrative consultant."
"That might be helpful." He looked around then at him. "Before I was chosen to aid Buffy I was a research Watcher. My whole day was in the library or in the museum I worked in."
John nodded slowly. He had a bad feeling about this talk. "I can help with training for a while. I'm not ready to hit the road again yet. I have to get some documents before then."
Giles sighed. "Would you consider staying on to handle this matter?"
"No. Some day I'll want to be back out there taking out evil things threatening people."
"Would you consider training as a field watcher?"
"That I might do," he agreed. "Sammy would be better."
"All of your sons are on my list but Xander has adamantly refused to be in a field position outside of going to look for some of the girls."
John nodded. "I expected that. It'll give him some peace and quiet while he finishes grieving for Anya."
"I understand that." He looked at the girls. "Them I have no idea about."
"Ladies, no slacking. If you're going to act like spoiled brats, I'm going to treat you like I would a spoiled brat." They groaned but went back to their working out. He looked at Giles again. "You did okay with Buffy."
"She had her mother."
"We can see if they still have families. Mac or Horatio would probably let their techs help with that."
"I hadn't thought of that. I'll call Mac and Jethro later to get their advice." He relaxed some. "You seem to see the problems I'm not."
"Oh, no," he said, backing away. "I'm not going to run this insane asylum. No way. Ask Sammy!"
"I can do that. The girls do look up to him."
"The girls stare at his ass, Giles. Dean's too. If Tony showed up they'd probably swoon."
Giles smiled slightly. "That might raise some morale around here."
"I'll call them and say you need some help with organizing things." He fled before Giles could outright ask him if he wanted to take over for him. He was not taking control of the new Council. He wasn't. There was no way in hell. He'd fade off and go die on a hunt first.
Tony answered his phone. "DiNozzo," he said grimly. He leaned back. "Why would he need that sort of help, John?" He shuddered. "That's bad. Sure, have him call us later tonight with Mac. Or we'll call later with Mac. That's a decent time for us. Thanks for the head's up." He hung up and looked at his curious looking coworkers. "Giles is needing admin help setting up the new Council. John, Dean, and Xander have some ideas. We need to conference him in with Mac about eight tonight. That's before their patrol and before we go out on our surveillance."
"What sort of admin help?" Gibbs demanded.
"John said Giles was a research watcher, Gibbs. Nowhere near the admin levels. Now he's got all those girls to train and get ready for life."
Gibbs shuddered. "That sounds like a lot of paperwork."
"And then some. Dawn's last email said most of them were spoiled. They finally got free of their old bastards raising them and they want to be more normal based on what they think normal is from tv. Dean's last email complained one of the underage ones tried to climb into bed with him."
"Who are we talking about?" Ziva asked.
"Family issues," Tony said firmly. "Stay out of it." He looked at Gibbs again. "So we may need to give advice on how best to work it so they get a life but can still do their jobs."
"That's a hard calling."
"And they were raised to do it," Tony reminded him. "Doing it like they do on base might work."
"Hmm. Any families come forward?"
"Not yet. That may be why he wants to talk to Mac."
"It could be. We'll call later. Make sure Mac can make the call." Tony nodded, dialing his friend's cellphone to talk to him. "Why are you talking to Danny?"
"Mac's off today for court." He listened to him. "You sure?" He smiled. "Thanks. Yeah, let him know however. Giles said he needed help. I think the girls are driving him nuts and we should hold the next reunion in Cleveland or nearby since that part of the clan is mostly there." Danny said something and snickered. "Thanks, Danny." He hung up. "He'll tell Mac once he's done with blistering the defense attorney who said he was incompetent and tried to question his morals since he hadn't dated after his wife died."
"I'd do more than blister them," Gibbs said, getting back to work. "McGee, anything on the site so we know what natural obstacles we're up against?"
"A few things, boss, including a canopy that covers part of the view from the best spots to sit in." He showed him the map he had been working on using the local street cameras and other footage on file. Gibbs grunted in displeasure. "We'll have to sit there but we'll be in plain sight of the room."
"I don't like that."
"It's either that or we rely on hearing only, boss."
Tony came over to look. "What about from one of the other apartments?"
"All taken. It's a building that's gone condo. The guy sued the FBI last year for wanting to use an apartment for the same target."
"How did they manage it?"
"It's not in the notes; I can't find the agents who did it. They've been released from duty and I can't track them through social security or any other database, boss," McGee said. He shrank back at the look. "I don't know why, boss. I can't access their records. They've been saved down to their backup personnel server and it's not connected to any outside machines."
"Can we call Fornell and ask?" Tony suggested.
"I tried, his secretary said he's out of town testifying in a case in Texas. I asked her if she knew anything or could pull up anything, she said it's classified above her and her boss's level."
"We can ask the director," Gibbs said. "But that could take weeks."
McGee nodded. "I've even had Abby try, boss. Her contacts over there couldn't get in and didn't remember them being in part of a scandal. They would've remembered the gossip going around if they had been terminated for something serious."
"The same as it is here," Tony agreed. He considered it. "Rooftop?"
"It's supposed to rain," McGee said. "The stuff is too delicate."
"We can set up a camera and cover it," Tony said. He pointed at something. "Put it against that stairwell and cover it with something waterproof. That way we get live video feed and the audio we have set up. That should protect it in case of gusting winds too."
"Same problem with the owner of the building," McGee said.
Tony stared at the building. It looked familiar. "Do we have an owner list?" McGee got it for him. He stared then smirked. "I'm going to go get slapped, Boss." He walked off with his cellphone and personal phone book.
"I hate his exes," Gibbs said once Tony was in the elevator. "They always cause problems."
"If she'd let us use her place or help us, it would solve a lot of problems." He went back to his seat. "I'm surprised we don't run into more of them."
"Not in that side of town," Gibbs said dryly. "He dates like he grew up." He looked at Ziva. "Do you have anything new on the target's activities?"
"No," she admitted. "Nothing that hasn't come up a few times in other reports. Scotch, cocaine, opera, and pretty little rent boys."
"The meterosexual's version of wine, women, and song," McGee quipped. Tony came back looking smug. "Does she have a direct line of sight?"
"Better." He looked at the map and pointed. "She is dating the guy who lives underneath him." They all smirked. "Who is Metro PD."
"Why hasn't anyone talked to him?" Gibbs demanded.
"He's a transit cop."
"Crap," Gibbs muttered, shaking his head. "They probably thought he wasn't going to be of any use."
"He said to come over about seven to set up. He's leaving us some bottles of water and heading over for some fun time with my ex." He handed it back and went back to his seat. "Why was I looking up operas going on in the city?"
"He likes to take his cute little rent boys to the opera," McGee reminded him.
"Oh, yeah. Boring crap," he muttered. Gibbs gave him a smug look. "I got it as music appreciation, boss. It's still boring. Even when you do understand the original language half of them butcher." He got back to looking. "Two of the ones he's seen in the last two years are passing through within six months."
"Any chance he's got tickets?" McGee asked.
"He's a member of an opera lovers society and they get group tickets to pass out to members," Tony said. "The group has tickets for these four events," he said, putting them up on the larger screen. "Two later ones, one of the ones we know he liked, aren't on sale yet."
"How do they do that?" Ziva asked. She was confused.
"They use the membership dues to buy bulk tickets at the reduced rate," Tony told her. "So many of them want to go that they can get something like fifteen percent off for so many tickets at once."
"Oh." She shook her head. "I'll never understand that."
"It's the joy of being around people who share your hobbies and likes," Tony told her. He got back to searching. "They do have bulk tickets for an out of town event," he said, adding that to the screen. "And that town does have a major dropping point on the smuggler's line. Plus a military base within twenty miles for easy traveling."
Gibbs stared at it. "Can we get in?"
"They're a Russian company and they are very security conscious. They've already told the FBI everyone who is in the group and asked for help if they have problems."
"Good. That can help us bust that spot." He checked his watch when the phone rang. "Gibbs." He listened. "Giles is having issues setting things up. He needed admin advice from what he told Tony. We were going to call later so we can conference everyone in before we go on surveillance. Only if you have a light, little fairy rent boy we can borrow to stick better bugs," he said dryly.
"Xander might if we asked," Tony offered.
Gibbs glared. "He's not trained."
"Fine. He just sent me an email that he's bored and he might be going to Africa to hunt for some of the missing girls."
"Why is he emailing you that?"
"Because you never check yours," he said dryly. "Even John uses computers more than you do, boss."
"I'll write him in a minute." He listened to Mac laugh. "When's a good time for you? Before six-thirty." He nodded, making note. "Let me get somewhere more secure and I'll do that." He hung up and grabbed his cellphone, heading outside to get coffee while he conferenced them in to talk to Giles about what he needed.
The guy had ideas but no way of doing them.
John evacuated his boys before anyone could get any funny ideas. Giles was giving them speculative looks and he didn't like that one. They'd end up doing something really troublesome if they stayed. So they went to play pool. His boys taught Xander how to play pool while he watched over them. Xander relented enough to let himself have a beer. John watched as the stress came out slowly. Xander accepted a shot from a pretty girl Dean drove his way. That's when John realized Xander had no tolerance for alcohol. He was already gone on the single beer and shot combo. He walked over there but Sam waved him off. He settled in closer to watch what happened.
That's when he got his second revelation. Xander *never* let down his guard with them. Or with the girls. Maybe with Dawn when they were alone but the tired, weary, sore young man in front of them that had been their family member was new to them. Dean was good though, he was talking him down from the edge of the combat weariness again. Sam was helping with the other problems. The four of them ended up in a corner table. One of the half-round ones with the wraparound booth since they couldn't all fit into a normal booth. The third revelation was that those girls had nearly destroyed his son a few times. He was still hurting from that because they decided to move on without healing. Well, it was not going to be allowed this time. When Sam finally quit making Xander talk, John coughed. "Xander, you know there's a finding trip coming," he said quietly.
Xander stared at him. "I can't go. Giles will destroy the girls."
"You can. He'll have to deal with them. Maybe he'll find a good administrator."
Xander dug out his phone and held it up once he had found the last text message. It was from Willow's phone asking how to deal with a spoiled brat, signed in Giles' name. "I've got ten more like it in there," he said bluntly. He took Dean's beer to sip. "He can't deal with the girls. At all. He's going to end up going on another trip home like he did when Buffy died. Hate to tell him that the Bringers got his house too but he'll try. Maybe he'll go back to excavate the original building," he said dryly. "Or to search for more former members but he's already retreated back into his bottle of scotch."
Dean took his beer back to sip then handed it back. He wasn't going to take Xander's release away from him. His father slid over his for him, getting a nod of thanks when John waved for another one. "Xander, you can't take over where he's stumbling. It's too much for one guy. That's what he's figuring out," Sam said.
Xander snorted. "He won't get anyone outside. He never will. We have to protect the secret and all that bullshit." He took another drink then looked at the bottle. "Why am I drinking beer?"
"You took it from me," Dean said, taking a sip of his own. "Want something different?"
Xander stared at him. "I've had one other binge in my life, Dean. I was sixteen." John shivered at the coldness. "Beer is not my thing and I'll have nightmares about the 'rents all night." He finished it anyway and went to get himself a drink. The bartender gave him a long stare. He spit out something complicated in Latin that took a lot of skill to pronounce. "Shitty life," he told him when he got the drink he wanted. He went back to the table and sat down in his spot again. Sam had made sure of it by moving for him. He looked at his little brother. "I won't run."
"I'm trying to protect you," he said gently. "Really."
Xander shrugged. "I could use a good few fights. Then maybe I'd quit being seen as helpless." He saluted them with the glass and drank some. "I hate this stuff but it tastes pretty good." He drank some more and put the glass down, looking at them. "I can go to Africa on the fact finding mission. I probably should because the girls going will die in the heat and bad conditions. Plus the fact none of them speak any language other than their native one." He considered it. "There's three small problems though. One, the Initiative crap flagged me in the system. Other countries won't let me in. Canada didn't want to let me in when I went on that trip."
He took a smaller drink. "Two, passport is not owned by me. Another problem with the flag that not even Willow can remove. Three, I can't go in the way that would make me comfortable to handle things in a strange environment. I can't go in with anything that might be considered a weapon and half the time they aren't going to want to believe me because I'm a white American." He took another drink to drain the glass. "Yuck." He put it down. "Hate liquor." Dean offered his bottle, getting a head shake.
"There's a fourth problem beyond that. Someone had a slayer dream about me going on that trip and my ...little sucking problem that happens sometimes like Halloween is going to come back out in a very bad way. Especially since I still carry one and that means I'll end up doing this the harder way as I take us primal to teach her and then back to normal. Which no slayer needs or wants." He looked at John. "Whereas you're better suited since you do have combat and travel with the military experience, including survival training since most of the girls are in that warzone area that they keep talking about on tv every night."
"Those are bad problems but they can be solved."
"Nope," Xander said with a grin. "I asked Jethro to look into the flag situation. They said it was put on at the highest levels. They don't want me to leave and they don't want me do what I'm already doing."
"Can he ask someone higher up to remove it?" Dean suggested.
"Nope. He asked his director to ask someone in the right area and they said they want me here. Firmly here. Apparently they have decided that I need to be *here* for some reason."
John grimaced. "Why?"
"No idea. Maybe it's because I pulled things out of the deep fryer before. Maybe it's because they don't like me. I don't know. I know after the last reunion it got stronger. I know they flagged my credit history too so I can't take off and go to college. I can't get student loans or any other sort of loan. He did point out to someone that I might need that flag removed to ensure housing and other things so they'll think about that if that Dad says I need it."
John stared at his son. "Who put it on?"
"The people who were giving the Initiative orders in the NSA. I have no idea why. No one would tell him. He even found the right person to ask and Jethro said they gave him the biggest dumbass look ever. So I don't know. I know right about now I'm really tired of that person. But there's nothing I can do about that that's not an ethical problem for everyone who knows me."
The waitress came over. "Don't threaten people, sir."
"I'm not. I'm laying out facts. My friends and I stopped a covert government group that was torturing some of the people in my former town. Thanks to that, I'm now flagged in every way imaginable so I can't travel, go to school, get an apartment, rent a car, nothing."
She grimaced. "That's pretty pathetic of the government but if we hear you threaten someone we'll have to turn you in."
He snickered. "The guy on the end of the bar is the FBI agent who's been watching my friends and I for a week now." She stared then at him. "You can ask him if you want."
"No need, Harris." He looked over. "I'm only here watching to make sure you guys don't have to do anything major to save someone else's life."
Xander snorted. "It's not spring yet. Ask us again then."
"I can do that." He came over, staring at him. "No, you can't go to Africa on that finding trip. We're paranoid now. Your friends and you made us a bit paranoid about all the bad shit we haven't seen for decades. Not since Kennedy actually. Hoover saw some of it and tried to do something but others got in the way."
"Hmm, demon cock sucking whores even back then?" Xander suggested.
"Yes they were, if you're being blunt in front of ladies."
"Sammy already knows what those words mean and he's the only girl I worry about," Dean shot back. "The waitress has probably heard worse."
She laughed but nodded. "I have and said worse tonight." She left them alone.
He leaned on the table, looking at him. "You can't go because we can watch you. We can't stand to watch the others. They do things that make us cringe and worry more. Let's face it, Buffy was shopping for bikinis the day before the battle." Xander nodded at that, smirking some. "You were doing practical things. So we're watching you to see the next time you start to do more practical things so we know when to find a hole to hide in."
"The spring. Every now and then you get a small one in the fall or Halloween turns worse than it should be but usually in the spring."
"I'll let them know that. We want you here so we can gauge when we might need to step in and help. We can't work with them. We won't ever work with Summers or Rosenburg. We might work with Dawn. You've made her a sensible young woman."
"Her mother did that," he said quietly but firmly.
"Good! Women with sense are hard to find these days. We'd all like to have her back I'm sure because she'd kick some butt out at the center." He looked at John. "You're never going to get him to be more than a research nerd. The books already sucked him in again tonight right after the conference call." He looked at Xander again. "We're going to keep watching you to make sure we know when we have to duck and do something. The other flags we'll try to convince someone to remove as long as you don't go anywhere."
"You could ask," Sam said dryly. "Or try to be sneaky and put an agent in. Someone'll have to run the armory when we go back on the road."
The agent looked at him. "Not for a long time?"
John shrugged. "Within six months. We're still tracking one that took on the family."
"Oh, yeah, had a vision about that. Who's the blonde lady who owns the bar and looks kinda old? She sneered at you about her husband."
"Ellen. That's the Roadhouse."
"When it's blown up, Sammy's gonna be snatched by the demon wanting a special child to be his chosen champion. If he has the colt, he can open a devil's gate in one of the Dakotas. If he steals Sammy, he'll kill everyone where he is at the time." He rubbed his head and looked at him. "The devil's gate'll open and spill out hell."
"Sounds like a job for a slayer," the agent said dryly.
John shook his head. "No, it's not like a hellmouth." He stared at his son. "When?"
"Spring, like always. Instead of ours. Ours are hiding in the aftershocks of the falling in."
"We can stop them."
"You'd have to stop him stealing others. If he gets the colt, he can open the gateway. It's the key."
John smirked. "What would destroy the gateway?"
"I'm partial to C-4," Xander said dryly, cracking Dean up. "But hell doesn't like it. Beyond that? Well...." He considered it. "You'd have to look at the gateway. It's got a huge devil's trap around it."
"I'll see if Jethro can use satellite imaging to pinpoint it," Sam said.
John looked at him. "Where would he be stealing Sammy to, Xander? Is it the same place?"
"No. A haunted town with a bell. Cold.... Cold some sort of tree. I saw a frozen tree."
"Cold Oak," he said. "The town so haunted it had to be evacuated." He stared at his son. "When is he trying?"
"He's been snatching special kids for months now to weed them down. Sam's in the last batch to go because he's got more than one gift. That makes him the heir he wants."
John nodded, taking some paper the agent had in his pocket to write that down. "Thanks, son." He went to call from his truck for privacy.
"That's damn helpful," Dean said.
Xander grinned. "If he gets Sammy, you'll be in hell within a year." He patted Dean on the back, marking a line. "Something right there will get him and you'll snap."
Dean flinched. "Gotcha. Want another drink?"
"I hate drinking."
"It's helping you let go," Sam said. Xander gave him a hug. "Thanks, Xander. I love you too, big brother." He looked at the smirking agent. "We can kick your ass, even drunk. Which Dean and I aren't." He backed up. "Anything else you want to tell us about how you're watching Xander too closely to be able to do his job? What's going to happen the next time he needs something like what he used in the mall?" The agent gave him a confused look. "Ask Jethro's Abby. She knows. She sent a fangirl letter to me. If he has to do it again and you guys are watching, it won't happen and then you'll all die for watching him too hard." The agent stomped off.
Xander grinned up at him. "That's so cool. Thank you."
"Welcome." He helped him sit up. "You sure you don't want another drink?"
"Make Dean drink the next one." He went up there. "Can my big brother have the same thing I had?" he asked with a goofy grin.
"Not if he's driving."
"We can let Dad drive."
"Fine." He took the money and gave him the drink. Xander walked over very carefully, handing it to Dean.
Dean took a drink and gagged. "What is that? It's sickeningly sweet, dude."
"Honey mead," Sam said after a sniff. "Mixed with something because you can smell the extra liquor."
"Vodka," Xander said. "They come from the same region and if I want to be plastered, that'll do it."
John came back, watching Dean swallow the thick, honey colored drink. "What is that?"
"Honey mead and vodka," Sam said. He took the last half of the drink when Dean gagged, making Xander cackle.
"Keys," John demanded. Dean handed over his. Xander handed over his. "Thank you." He put them into his pocket. "Ellen said thank you too, Xander. She upped her insurance." He finished his lone beer for the night, watching his sons get closer to the relaxed son. Xander was incredibly goofy and happy when he was off-guard. When he was relaxed he seemed to go back to the boy he probably was at sixteen. He told them about Jesse and how he grew up pranking and playing with him. How Willow joined the duo to even out some of their worst traits and to mother them to death at times. How she had managed to stitch him up a few times when things went wrong one way or another.
John listened and he wanted to find Xander's adoptive parents to kill them. But he wouldn't. They were lost in Sunnydale because they had refused to evacuate. Xander had went to talk to them, he had said so. They went back to drinking and snorted in disgust. So they had died. Maybe they had his son's cellphone in hell. Who knows. Xander told them about dating Cordelia and all that went along with that. Dean was gaping at some of his other dating stories. It was good to watch Xander finally let all his guards down. He had a few left up but John got him another drink while he was talking and they went down too. He almost wished he could tape this but that would leave evidence for others to find. Though he would be having a word with Jethro to help his boy.
The boys finally got tired of the bar, heading out together. Dean and Xander were holding each other up.
"Fuck you," Dean joked at some comment Xander had just made.
"We're related, that's illegal," Sam quipped. "Don't make Dad give you that talk too, Xander."
John snickered. He remembered having to stumble his way through that talk when his boys were getting a bit too close for his comfort.
"There's no way he can have babies to taint, so it's not that evil," Dean told him. "We've dealt with worse things than a little bit of brother fucking."
"You do and I'm tanning your ass," John promised.
"Besides, Willow can do that and said she wanted nieces and nephews some year from me. She might make you pregnant, Dean," Xander shot back. "You might look cute all fat and round but you'd be miserable in the summer heat."
"I'd top, Xander," Dean said, almost whining.
"Anya said the same thing," he said, beaming at him. "But she decided she didn't like it because it meant I didn't give oral sex first and she only got as many orgasms as my dick could go through. Usually not enough for her." He sighed, giving him a pouty, puppy look. "I miss my nympho."
A girl in the parking lot smirked at him. "We could take their place, honey. You three boys look like fun."
"We're brothers," Sam said with a grin.
"Oooh. The girls will be jealous." They mobbed them, getting them away before John could do more than protest. "We'll have 'em back early, pappa. We promise," she laughed, waving at John in a mocking manner as they got into their car and headed off.
John got into his truck to follow. Those boys got into all sorts of trouble. That's why he wasn't surprised when the girls led them to the park that held the hellmouth. Or that there were strange beings in robes waiting. He was a bit surprised that Xander whooped out a war cry and attacked. He was even more surprised when his boys shrugged at each other and moved in to help without pulling a gun. The guys were beaten and tied up with their robe's belt ties before John could get closer than the edges of the brawl. The police got there pretty fast. John made up a good cover story about the girls bringing his drunk sons here from the bar while he was looking for them. Maybe some sort of strange cult. They helped get the boys into the back of the truck - that way anyone who puked could clean it up easier in the morning and he wouldn't have to smell it for months on end - and he headed home. Where Buffy tried to pounce. He glared at her. "Leave the boys be, Buffy."
"But... they ran out!"
"We went to have some fun," Dean said. "You should try it. It might help that pinched librarian face you're putting out right now." He walked Xander off. "You don't really think Willow would knock me up if I teased her, right?"
"Yes she will," Buffy called after him. "I'll tell her you suggested it, Dean." She waited until they were gone to round on John. "You let him get drunk? Knowing his past?" she demanded.
"Xander's old enough to make that decision for himself, Buffy. He ordered the beer, not us. It was nice of him to finally drop all his guards and *relax* for the first time in years."
He held up a hand. "You're not his mother. You never were his mother. You never were his girlfriend. As long as it's not hurting anyone, he's not going to become an alcoholic from a few drinks every few years. The last time he had one, he was sixteen and it was after the Harvest." She whined at that. "I don't care, Buffy. If Xander needed it to calm himself down then that's his decision and he's a big boy. He made sure he was in a safe enough environment and had someone there to watch his back, namely me. It also didn't stop him fighting back when the cultists wanted to sacrifice all three boys. Now, anything else?"
"That's a bad thing for Dawn to see."
He snickered. "Buffy, the last time he got drunk he was sixteen. He's how old now? How often has she seen him drink?" She huffed off. He stared at her back then decided maybe it was time for some preemptive action. He went upstairs and found Dawn halfway there, out of sight but in hearing. "She always like that?"
"She's the slayer," she said flatly. "Her word is law."
He nodded once. "What do you think about a vacation to visit the other clan members?" Her face lit up. "New York is very educational. School's done for the year. You could learn from a few teachers in a few different styles, find one you like since the Devon Coven nearly made you have hives."
She hugged him. "Thanks, John."
"Welcome." He walked her back up there and locked the door after tossing out one of the slayers yelling at Sam. "He's an adult and old enough to have a few to unwind, Mary. Get over it." He put on the chain and the deadbolt then looked at Sam and Dawn. "We need a vacation," he said quietly.
Sam gave him an evil smirk. "Dawn should start thinking about colleges. She can start touring them now since she'll have to start applying in a year and a bit. Plus learn what she needs to know to get in."
"That's a good point. I was thinking she could find some local practioners and ask them too," he said.
"We can take her to meet Missouri," Dean agreed. "Kansas State is a great school."
She sniffled. "You guys would do that?"
"We've always been on the road, Dawn. It's freeing in some ways but it's also tiring," John said. "Since your mother didn't want you to hunt, you should probably be thinking about long term careers."
"I can already read some of the research languages around here. I could work with magical artifacts and stuff. Or in a mega research library."
"A language degree isn't a hard one to pursue," Sam said. "Not a lot of heavy sciences to take unless you want to. Most colleges make you take at least a year of one language anyway."
She blinked. "Wow, you're really high on the whole college thing."
"I loved college. The freedom to spend all night in the library researching whatever I wanted. Getting to know people for a change, and them wanting to know me. Having friends I kept for more than three months. It was great."
"Pretty women in skimpy clothes, frat parties; I could stand that," Dean said with a leer.
"You're still my uncle, Dean, and I'm not that hard up," she quipped, making him cackle.
"Hey, that's my noise," Xander complained weakly from where he had fallen into bed.
Dawn looked in there. "If you go hyena, they're going to make Sam exorcize you, Dad." She heard the footsteps in the hall and sighed, going to answer the door. "Are we being too loud? We're talking about going to check out colleges I might like this summer."
Buffy stared, then blinked slowly. "College?"
"Mom said she wanted me to have a career where I'd die being a great-grandmother. I was thinking about using what I've learned here to do work with artifacts and things." She grinned. "Sam wants me to follow him to Stanford."
"Harvard's a beautiful school," Sam offered. "But I couldn't get full ride there." Dean gaped at him. "I couldn't. I had to decide between Yale and there but I didn't like Yale's campus as much. Something felt off to me."
Buffy blinked. "We can't afford that."
"Mom left me a college fund," Dawn said. "There's a guy in LA that's managing it for me. Also, did you want to cosign the insurance paperwork? You're still legally dead and it was left to me anyway."
"The house, Buffy. The place we lived? The insurance company owes us majorly for it."
"Oh," she said weakly. "They do?" Dawn nodded. "Huh. Do I need to sign anything?"
"No, I do, but I can put your name on it even though you're still legally dead."
"They probably wouldn't like that," Willow said as she joined them. "I've got the forms filled out for all of us."
Dawn gave her an odd look. "I only have to sign them with Xander, Willow. Our agent agreed that we were covered because Mom got the insurance that covers earthquakes and other disasters." She looked at Buffy again. "The house's stuff is going to your apartment? I know I have my old bed."
"Um, yeah. Most of it is in my place if you wanted to come hang out?"
"Not while you have your head up your ass," she said bluntly, staring at her sister. "First you put him down and then you decide he's helpless, but you need him here to do everything you can't? No, not playing with me, Buffy. I love you. You're my sister, but your head's up your skirt again. It needs to come out. Soon." Willow stared. She stared back. "Yes, I did notice that. The same as I noticed Giles isn't sure what he's doing so he's trying to make John the head of the Council. Oh, and they were babbling something about the FBI wanting to know about the next apocalypse but it won't be here?" she asked John.
"No, Xander saw it being in the Dakotas with a huge devil's gate and the family's problem being dealt with. During that, we'll have you protected in case he comes after you too, Dawn."
"Sure. Am I going to be with Mac or someone else?"
"Tony could. I've told him how to ward things. Maybe Bobby if we think it'll be safe."
"She can be here," Buffy told him.
"No she can't," John told her. "Because the demon can steal people from where they are if there's not specific wards set up to prevent it. If they do, everyone around whoever it is will die." Both older young women went pale. "So we're going to evacuate a possible target to somewhere safer for everyone involved. That way we know she's protected by people who don't snap at her for noticing guys when she's at the proper age and also by people who have a clue."
"By the way, Willow. I talked to your mentor over there. She hates me. I don't like her much better. If you can do it that way, that's great and all, but it gave me hives." Willow snorted. She showed her the picture she pulled off the wall. "Doing things their way." Willow groaned. "It looks like the Key's going to make me take up something other than a mixed earth magic you use and they use."
"What are you looking at?"
"I figured this summer I can find some other practioners to see if their ways resonate more," she said. "It's a mature decision and it'll let me build up contacts within the community since I'm thinking about dealing with artifacts or research."
"What about working for the Council?" Willow asked.
"Mom wanted me to die a great-grandmother, Willow. She put it into her will."
"Oh." She nodded. "I can see that. She didn't want you both to die from hunting. But you won't have to as a research watcher."
"No but I'd have to put up with Giles being the head research watcher and I can't do that. Beyond that, if I go out and do what I'm thinking, it means I can come back some year as an expert in some fields and I'll still be lending help when you guys ask. Even if I'm in another country."
"That's good," Buffy said, sounding very tired. "Do we get to at least visit you at college?"
"All the time. As long as you lay off Xander. Remember, he lost Anya in the battle." They both slumped and nodded. "He doesn't need to do everything Giles can't either. There's a reason there used to be an executive board and administration people. Now he sees that. I'll help where I can. Xander will help where he can. Neither of us want the top job and it's bad enough that the Initiative mess got him flagged so he can't travel."
"He can't?" Willow asked.
John shook his head. "Nope. He can't travel, apply for a passport, get a student loan, nothing like that." They all groaned. "The agent who was following us earlier said they did it because he was a normal guy who did normal preparation before things happen. If they watch him they know the signs of something big coming. Watching you two gave people headaches. Agents think in a much more linear fashion than you two do."
"They're watching us?" Buffy asked. John nodded. "Why?"
"Because you guys do things that they think they should be handling," Sam said from his seat on the couch. "They're very worried that you guys won't be able to handle something and then they'll have to without any warning. They want to keep Xander around because he has ties back to the intelligence and the law enforcement community and he shows the same sort of preparation they use. They know and understand what it means when Xander goes looking for weapons as opposed to herb shopping or being dragged by the girls to go clothes shopping."
"We do, don't we," Buffy admitted, frowning some. "That should stop. He's not their pet."
"No, he's not," Willow agreed. "He's been doing a lot of work with the girls."
"The girls need a firmer hand anyway," John told them. "They're trying to run wild. Unless you both want to start visiting them in rehab or on a birthing unit?" They shuddered at that, shaking their heads. "Then talk to Jethro about how to train, girls. They need some firmness even with this being their life. Without training, they won't have time to enjoy the rest of it. They'll be dead. Plenty of slayers have been. The same as plenty of hunters die of it."
"More die from sinking into a depression or retreating to drugs or alcohol to deal with the crap they see daily," Sam said quietly. "Because it can happen. We see the same things you do but remember we don't get there when things start. With as few of us as there are, we miss a lot of problems until they make more than local news. That, plus injuries, plus being on the road all the time wearing on your soul because you have nowhere you can retreat to where you can feel safe and relax all your guards again. Not to mention that there's not many older hunters. Most of them are too injured to go into the field or they retired to do research when the pain of doing the job got too much for them. Even then, they still jump into the field, ready to die at the next time they're needed."
"Been there, felt that sucking me down," Buffy admitted.
"We get it too," John assured her. "We've had nearly a quarter century on the road. That's one of the reasons Sammy left to hit Stanford." Sam nodded at that. "He needed roots and he needed to be around people for a bit."
"Wow." She looked at Dawn. "So, college? Magical artifacts?"
Dawn nodded. "Or maybe research stuff."
"That's ... I guess mom would like that," she decided. "Do you need help with the forms?"
"Nah, the guy filled out most of it with me on the phone the other day. I haven't been able to get Xander to sign them because Giles keeps trying to get him to sign stuff he doesn't want to deal with." They groaned. "Now, anything else? It's late and Xander had a long night of letting go of some of the old hurts. I should be in bed too so we can plan where we're going tomorrow."
"You're leaving tomorrow?" Buffy whined.
"Two weeks," John told her. She sighed but nodded. "We'll be back in time for school."
"Fine. I know Xander will overprotect you like I would." She gave her a look. "No drinking, young lady."
"You're still not the mom, Buffy, and I drank last year at that sleepover." She closed the door in her sister's face. Then she bounced back over. John gave her a look. "One!" she defended.
"You do it again before you're old enough and Xander said he's bringing out the caveslayer beer."
"I know. That's why I haven't." She sat down next to Sam, letting him lean on her. "You should go to bed."
"I should but you're sitting on it."
"You have two beds in your room, Sam." She pushed him up and walked him in there, dropping him on the bed Dean wasn't on. Then she closed the door behind her on her way to her own room. "Happy sleeps, Grandpa."
"You too, Dawn." He smiled when her door was shut, going to relock the room's doors and put down the salt lines someone had pulled up on them again. He'd have to make a sign for the door apparently. Someone didn't do their homework.
John walked into breakfast the next morning, looking at the girls. "Whoever keeps removing the protection wards I put on Xander and Dawn's rooms, stop it." They all flinched. "I will paddle your ass if something gets to them. Especially if it's another spirit and Xander ends up possessed again."
Xander bounced down the stairs. "Is that what the salt does? I can't remember which one does which."
"Hangover?" Buffy asked.
"No. Not in the least." He smirked. Then he took the plate from his father and his coffee too, sitting down to eat it for him. John rolled his eyes but got another plate, which Dawn came down and stole. John finally got his own breakfast and sat down. Xander looked at the girls after his first bite. "I was watching the last few days. Some of you are not fit for patrol. Some of you are not even fit for shopping. Since you're not fit for patrol, there will be no shopping until further notice. If you don't have the energy to train to save your own lives, then you don't have the energy to go to the mall. You definitely don't have the energy to date, because that comes with stress and fussing, which can wear you down further since I'm pretty sure none of you are using anything like condoms, and if you get sick from some form of VD you're in deep shit.
"Additionally, until you've found enough energy to train so you can save your own asses when you're attacked, there's not going to be any tv, any movie nights, or anything else. It's not fair that Faith is the only slayer who is still keeping in shape. By the way, Buffy, I killed the two vamps who tried to get you in the mall." She gaped, making whimpering noises. "Since there were four other slayers with you, that should include you." He stared her down. "Dean's running PT today. John's running self-defense. Sam's running knife fighting, Faith's running it at slayer speed after lunch, and then we'll go on patrol with whoever you want later." He ate a bite of egg. "Good, I'm glad there's no questions." He stood up. "Practice starts as soon as Dean finishes shoveling food in." He walked off to finish his breakfast in private.
Dawn looked at them. "Yes, he was serious. Because I can beat some of you and John's barely started with me." She finished and got seconds then followed Xander, going to find Faith and eat with her. "Hey."
"Hey, D." She smirked. "Heard the butt munching. It taste good?"
"A bit. How many do you think have VD already?"
"Two. We had the talk with the girls. Buffy sure didn't." She nibbled on her bagel. "You joining classes?"
"All but the slayer one you're running," Xander agreed. "She'll have to beat a boy off her some year soon and I want her protected in case some leech comes out to date her."
"Good idea," Faith agreed.
"If you want to go on the trip to find the girls in Africa, let John know," Xander told her. "We need someone combat trained to go and I'm banned from even going to Canada after the Initiative mess." He finished up and put his plate aside. "By the way, saw your last practice. You looked good, but tired. There's a lot of other slayers in the building, even if they're only half trained. You two can split patrol." She gaped. "Really. That way you get a few nights off too." Buffy stomped in. "Don't you agree you and Faith should be splitting patrol nights for the routine patrols? That way the girls have a senior, fully trained one there with them but she doesn't have to do it every night? Like she has been for the past two weeks?"
Buffy blinked a few time. "You have?"
"Yeah," she said dryly. "Someone had to. You didn't. The minis didn't."
"No wonder we got nibbled on."
Dawn gave her a look. "Ya think?"
"Need midol?" Xander asked her.
"No, I need tampons. Get me some?"
He snorted. "No way in hell, Dawn. There's a store on the corner. Go for a run."
"Yes, Xander," she complained. "Insurance forms?"
"They're on the desk and signed the last time I knew."
She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. "I'll fax them over on my way to the store. Need anything, Faith? Buffy?"
"No, I'm good," Buffy said. "Get me a water for later?" Dawn nodded, getting up and checking the mat where she had been sitting before heading off. She stared at Faith. "I didn't think it was that bad."
"It's not but it's harder to get rid of later on. Getting them now means they can't make more baby vamps to start a nest."
"Good point. We'll work one out later?"
"Sure, B, but you get tonight?"
"I can do that," she agreed, going back to the girls to agree with what Xander had said. Dean came down and grabbed a plate, heading outside with it. The girls all followed, including Buffy. She hadn't been working out either. Her skirt was tight this morning. Dean gave her outfit an odd look. She slunk off to change and came back in jeans and a t- shirt, getting a nod. He pointed and she got into the training with the others. They needed her experience to help them be better and she needed to spar. It felt good to get into the rhythm again. Dawn came back and put her water in the shade then joined in. Dean nodded at her and Buffy was shocked. Her baby sister could brawl! She moved to test her, but Dawn gave her a look and a wink then attacked the one who had been bugging Xander. Buffy smirked. That bit of protectiveness was clearly from their mom. She had protected Xander too. Dean coughed and Dawn quit beating that one, moving to Buffy's side to fight with her.
Dean looked at the whining slayer. "If Dawn could beat you, a vampire surely could," he told her. "Work harder." She growled and stomped off. "That's your only one today." He watched the others. They were working okay today. Still a bit slowly. He set up the next exercise and got into it with them. He upped the pace and they groaned but kept it up. The minor scuffles would be gone over later with his dad.
Xander looked up as Giles walked into his suite, going back to cleaning the gun he was working on. "New problems or did we solve some with the conference call?"
"We did solve some." He cleared his throat as he sat down across from the young man he considered like a son. "Xander, I've been meaning to take some time off. Head home for a few days," he said.
Xander looked at him. "That'd be a problem since the Bringers got your house too, Giles." The older man gaped. "You're a field watcher, of course they went after you." He went back to swabbing the barrel of the gun. "The guy handling the stuff in England is handling it for you too. It was on the list that you apparently never fully read over. Did anyone tell Wes his father died?"
"Yes, I believe so."
"Good." He finished up and ran a dry cloth to pick up any extra cleaning fluid then got to work putting it back together again. He frowned, looking around. "See a spring?" Giles pointed since it was on his blind side. He found it and picked it up, putting it into place. "You do know Dawn and I are going on a college looking roadtrip this summer?"
"Because she's got to pick one sometime soon. Sam said she'll have to apply late this year for early admission. By January of her junior year." He put the gun down into the case and closed it, looking at him. "It'll also get her away from the slayers who think she's a pet. It'll get me away from the slayers before I spank a few who need the attitude adjustment. It'll save a lot of sanity and I haven't had one since my failed road trip." Giles slumped. "Beyond that, even if you did take a break, I'm not going to take over as the had of the Council. I don't want the job. I'm not even sure I want to stay over training, Giles. I'm a bit burnt out at this moment in my life. It's been eight years. Things keep getting worse. I'm tired of losing people I care for because of things getting worse. For a while I'd like to see things get better. Plus, hey, I can easily use it to scout out future problem areas. Get to know the various places that have large concentrations of demons. I heard Miami has a lot but Orlando only has a handful working there."
Giles stared. "I hadn't heard that. Who told you that?"
"She's a charming girl." He stared at the boy. "Could you fill in while I was gone?"
"As long as it doesn't take forever," Xander said. "I'm not taking it permanently. Ever."
"I dare say that's not a problem, Xander." He stood up. "I'll be leaving in three days."
"We planned on going in about two weeks," Xander told him.
"School's not out for the summer."
"I decided Dawn didn't have to go through the trauma of switching schools with only a month left; the local school board agreed when they heard ours had caved in. It'll take them a good while to get any records on her. She'll probably have to take some tests for placement."
"That may be the letter on the table for you." Xander groaned, going down to look and coming back with it. "Was it?"
"No. Confirmation that they did get some of her records from the junior high. Nothing from the high school."
"They hadn't sent them off to the state board yet I suppose." He stood up. "I'll try to be back by then. If necessary can you push it back by a week?"
"I can do that." He went to talk to John, finding him browbeating a few of the younger slayers. "Is that really necessary?" he asked calmly.
"If you want her to live past her first run-in with vampires? Yes."
"I can see that point," he admitted. He glanced at the girl and she scampered off, happy to be out of yelling range for a few minutes. "I need to head home for a few days," he said quietly.
"Are you going to do what you did after Buffy died and climb into a bottle?" he asked, looking serious.
"I don't plan on it, no."
"Then we leave in two weeks and I'll help my son."
"Could you perhaps push it back by a week? I leave in three days."
John considered it then nodded. "We don't have any concrete plans until the group picnic. It's in Miami this year. In late July."
"That's wonderful." He smiled. "I shall try to be back within the two weeks. Xander told me my house was gotten as well but I hadn't looked at the manifest list close enough."
"Sometimes it's painful to look at the lists of those who're passed on," John said.
"Indeed. I spent much of my life with them." He clapped him on the arm. "Must we yell at the girls?"
"If they're not doing what they need to do to survive? Yes. Once they're well trained they can fall back and have more free time. Until then, they need to know as much as they can so they can protect themselves and the other girls on patrol. Or in case we're attacked here."
"That is a good point. And Buffy?"
"Has been slacking. Faith's done patrols for the last two weeks."
"Ah. An excellent reason. I'll tell the girls after dinner. Thank you."
"Xander's not going to take the head of the council spot, Giles."
"Of course not. He doesn't have the experience." He walked off, heading to his office to straighten things up. He found the file he needed and sure enough, his estate was on there. "I'll miss my horses," he sighed.
Three days into Xander's tenure as acting council head, he was going to shoot himself. He really was. He knew where all the guns were in the building and the cars, and he could reach one before even Sammy foresaw it and tried to stop him.
"No you're not," Sam called as he walked past the door.
Xander groaned, putting his head down on the desk. "Then can you shoot me?"
"Hell no. Dean would have to start pranking me again." He leaned in. "What's wrong?" Xander held up a folder for him to read over. He stared. "That's ass backwards of any decent system." Xander stared up at him, giving him hopeful looks. "We'll figure it out." Xander whimpered. "Together. There's no way you could pay me to take this job."
"Please?" he begged.
"Try it on Dad. He caves now and then."
"I can do that." He walked off, going to give his father pitiful looks. The girls all cooed at it. John gave him a horrified look, backing away. "They already messed stuff up, Dad."
John groaned. "It figures."
"Please?" he begged. "Before I let one of the cranky ones shoot me during crossbow practice they've been neglecting?"
John shook his head. "We'll make sure they can't, son." He waved at the girls. "Crossbows. Now." They ran for it because it was better than being thumped by John in self-defense practice. They went into the office to look at what Sam had cobbled together already. John stared. "Rupert really is a failure at paperwork." He got what he needed to see. "What were you working on?"
"Invoices. Now I can't find the checkbook."
John stared then groaned, calling someone. "Hey, Jethro, John Winchester. Do you know of anyone right off the top of your head who can come unscrew the system Giles created so they can actually pay the bills? He left Xander in charge and even Sammy's giving it horrified looks."
"Not Sammy, Sam," he complained.
"I changed your diapers and wiped your butt, I can call you whatever I want, Sammy." Jethro laughed and said something. "An assistant won't do any good until we get a working system, Jethro. Yes, I'm serious. He has the invoices split into nineteen categories for seven bills." Gibbs moaned like he was in pain. "Even military paperwork isn't this bad. Xander can't even find the checkbook. Sure, we'd like that and we can let the girls hit on him too. Thanks, Jethro." He hung up. "Tony will be up tonight."
"Should I go pick him up?" Xander asked, looking excited.
"You still have to retake your driving test," Sam reminded him.
"Crap." He went to grab some keys and go do that. He hated this problem of his. He really needed a fake eye so no one could tell. The eye patch was a clear sign he had vision problems. Plus people stared. He hated it when people stared. Or when kids asked him where his rum, parrot, and musket were. Maybe this year's Halloween costume was set.... No, he'd never get to go. Something bad always happened. He went to the DMV, giving the woman there an odd look when she stared. "Yes, it got hurt."
"Um, you need to pass a depth perception test, sir."
"I had sucky depth perception before it happened, lady." He gave her a look. "Can we just try, please?" She nodded, letting him do the small depth perception machine. "You know, there is a compensation for that. It's timing things to see how far apart you are."
"I didn't know about that." She marked down he passed when he did. "Why are you changing licenses?"
"I moved after my town got sucked into a hole."
"Oh, you're from that one on the news?" He nodded, pulling out his old license. "You had a small truck code?"
"I worked construction. I had to be able to use the small machinery."
"Oh, dear. That you may not be able to get."
"Not doing that now anyway. We'll see if I can up to that soon." She nodded, passing him onto the next tester, who'd do the driving test. "Hi."
"Sir, are you legally blind in that eye?"
"It's missing," he said bluntly. "I didn't have great depth perception before. I do drive, and I work in an all girls' school so I have to be able to drive." He hissed. "Trust me, I can do it and there's people out there with worse eyesight than mine. Now, can we try it?" That got a sigh but a nod so they went to do the driving test. He was a bit too far away in the parallel parking but looked over then adjusted the car more. "Do I get counted off for wiggling so many times?"
"No. Just for being too far from the curb. You fixed it so you're fine." He looked at his sheet. "By state law we should not license you if you cannot see."
"I can see. I can see as well as anyone with an eye dominance problem and plenty of them drive. Some of them even fly. I'm not a danger on the roads; I learned how to compensate for having sucky depth perception before. Unless someone's coming directly on my blind side to hit my door, I'm always checking around me and I should see it even then."
"Good point." He signed off on it, handing over the slip.
"Thank you. You made my daughter very happy since we're going on vacation to see relatives this summer." He drove him back to the building and went inside to get his new license. "If I get a fake one, can I have my picture retaken so I don't look like a mug shot from a pirate movie?"
"You can but you'd have to pay the fee for a new license, sir." The woman took his picture and handed him his warm ID a few minutes later.
He walked off, heading back to the school. He was free! He hoped. If Giles didn't disappear.
Xander pounced the man coming out of the secure section, giving him a hug. "Thank you!"
"Ease off, little brother." He grinned at Xander. "That bad?"
"I'm going to shoot myself. Sam keeps stopping me."
"Uh-huh. We'll see what I can do." He walked them out with an arm around Xander's shoulders while they waited for his bag to appear. "How's the daughter?"
"She's good. Squealing happily because I let her buy a new outfit. I told the others they can't shop until they're ready for patrol. They're still pouting."
"Sometimes you gotta motivate," Tony said dryly. He grabbed his bag and headed off with his baby brother. "They're letting you drive with an eye injury?"
"Um, it's gone," he said.
Tony stared at him. "You didn't tell me you got that injured in that battle!" he said hotly. He had known, but to see it was different and Xander needed to hear this because he hadn't told anyone.
"It was done before then by an insane minion of hers," he quipped with a grin. "I learned how to compensate before the battle even."
Tony stared then smacked him on the head as hard as he could, getting a yelp. "Does Gibbs know?"
"Don't know. Unless Dad or someone told him?"
"Yes, dad told him, but things like this we need to hear from you, not from John." He stared him down. "You can tell the rest of the group too."
Xander winced. "Must I?" Tony nodded. "Why? They'll see me at the picnic."
"You want to be yelled at more because you didn't tell us?" he asked.
"No." He handed over the keys with a pout. "I'm fine."
"I don't care! We wanted to hear this from you, not from someone else!"
"I can get a glass one and no one will know."
Tony snorted. "Yes we will. We're trained to notice things like that, Xander." The boy slumped but nodded. "Now, anything else you want to mention in a physical way?"
"I miss Anya."
"I know." He gave him a hug. "Let's head back to look at the mess Giles made." He got in to drive, letting Xander navigate while he asked about what had happened and the girls. The girls were apparently driving his little brothers nuts. Every last Winchester really. So when they got there he smirked as he hugged Dawn. "Niece."
"Uncle Tony!" She pulled back to look at him. "Did you bring me a hotty to look at?"
"Fat chance. They don't pack well." She cackled, leading him back to the office.
"Are there any ugly Winchesters?" one of the girls hissed to another.
"That's Dean," Dawn quipped.
Dean leaned out of the office. "I am not the ugly Winchester. Xander is."
Xander pouted at him. "I'm not that ugly."
Dean stared at him. "I was picking, Xander. You're not ugly." Xander gave him a hopeful look. "I'm *so* going to work on your self esteem this summer." He pulled him into the office and shut the door after them. "Welcome to the mess Giles left."
Tony looked at all the folders. "This looks like it."
John held up a list. "Sam worked out how he was filing and categorized everything."
Tony took it to look over. "This makes *no* sense."
"It was a system started by rich guys in England way back when," Dawn quipped. "Who had assistants, and departments, and all sorts of administration people." She settled next to Xander. "You're not the ugly Winchester, that's Sam's hair." Xander relaxed and cuddled her.
Dean looked at him. "There's no such thing as an ugly Winchester, Xander. Even Dad had some looks in his youth. That's how he trapped Mom."
"No comment," John said dryly, reaching over to swat his son. He looked at his second youngest. "There is no such thing as an ugly Winchester anyway. We all look good with a shotgun; that's all that matters." Xander grinned at that. John wanted to go dig up the boy's original parents so bad, but he didn't want to go to hell to do it. Maybe he could taunt one of the demons into doing it when they sent them back? Sam gave him a look. "I didn't know you were telepathic too, son."
"I'm not. It's exposure." He looked at Tony. "I was thinking a simple 'in, out, research, problems' system. Plus the scouting reports from the guys Dad found to go get the girls who want to come here and train the others."
"We have scouting reports?" Tony asked.
Xander pointed at a filing cabinet. "They send a report each week. Right now we've got three teams of hunters out there. All the ones that came back during the battle who needed some time to relearn and get used to being human again. Two are expected to end their part in another two months. The last one is traveling to the last ones in Africa and none of them are coming here. They all wanted to stay to help their people. They're doing one that Willow found in a refugee camp last."
Tony nodded. "Can we let someone look at those?"
"I figured it'd help sometime. I was going to offer Gibbs a chance to look at them. It's not like we have a good idea of what's happening on the ground over there. I have it separated by team."
Tony beamed and used the desk phone to call his boss. "Hey, boss, Tony. Xander's had the teams of hunters gathering girls file scouting reports each week so they had an on-the- ground perspective in case someone needed it. Some are in Africa..." He looked at Xander.
"Six girls in Europe, four of who came over. Nine in Asia, three of who had to be smuggled out and another four who're coming over. One's a baby at six or seven and one's twenty and getting married. She's in a farming village in upper China so she decided to stay but she might come over at a later date for more training if she can't stand being married. The ones in South America all came up here because they were in pretty dangerous areas and one was in a serious slum area of a major city. I don't remember which right off the top of my head. They'll be up tomorrow. We'll train them then let them decide to go home or work in another area of the world."
"Asia, South and Central America, Xander?" He nodded. "Yeah, both, boss. A whole filing cabinet. Sure, I'm here. Send someone I know." He hung up. "He'll get someone up to look those over to see if there's anything we need to hear."
"Sure, I figured he'd want to. I would've offered but I kept forgetting and Giles basically skims then files."
Tony nodded. "He's been creating the system from hell for himself." John gave him the desk seat and he sorted things into simpler categories. "Um, scouting reports?"
John took them to look over, going to find Buffy. "Scouting reports say that we had sixteen vamps come up last week?" he asked her and Faith since they were together.
"Um... Sounds about right," Faith agreed. "I know I got ten."
Buffy nodded. "Yeah, we got six the first two nights I went," Buffy agreed.
"I think we should start making a map of where the problem areas are in the city. Cleveland's bigger than Sunnydale. You can't run across it if there's an emergency across town."
They both nodded. "We can do that. Mark all the cemeteries, all the demon living areas," Buffy said, looking at Faith, who shrugged but nodded. "It can be our art project tomorrow."
"Good. Also, let's keep a nightly tally for which cemetery they raised from? There could be a pattern or it could be that there's a surge in one area that we hadn't seen, an area that needs hunted."
"That'll work," Faith agreed. "Simple list or write-erase board?"
"That'll work and we can compile." They nodded, Buffy making notes. "Do you girls need more support? One of the hunters going with you?"
"The girls would get distracted at Sam and Dean carrying a gun," Buffy said dryly. "They're still wondering why all your sons have the hottiness switch."
"It's where we all look so good with shotguns," he said dryly, making them both smirk at him. "Let's work on that. Faith, are you going tomorrow night?"
"I've got patrol," Buffy said.
"Excellent. Faith can sneak around the worst parts of town since she's from somewhere like that?" He looked at her. "I noticed the wariness that showed you've been in the bad parts now and then."
"Born and bred in Boston," she said dryly. "In the worst immigrant sections, yeah."
"Can you go down there, see the problem human areas? They like to intertwine and it can spill over on us. Maybe find a good spot for you to listen for gossip at now and then?"
"I can do that," she agreed. "I didn't even think about that."
"Giles should have, Faith. Cleveland is an actual city. What happens in one block may not impact the next one over. Sunnydale was a lot more compact and nosy than they are here."
"True. I can do that."
"Be armed," he reminded her.
She snorted. "Of course. How're we swinging my parole stuff?"
"Wesley's handling that. He said your probation officer knows what's going on. He took him down to Lorne's club, whoever that is, personally to let him know." She nodded once at that. "So as long as you don't get arrested with a weapon, you're good. Especially since the FBI knows about you girls. They've probably told someone in the higher ups locally."
"Good enough," she agreed. "Thanks, John."
"Welcome." He patted her on the shoulder. "If you need to talk about that stuff? I can do that too," he said quietly. She nodded once. "Good girl." He smiled at Buffy. "You good? See any immediate needs for the girls?"
"Can they have a minor shopping trip this weekend?"
"As long as combined you guys don't spend more than four hundred," Xander said from the doorway.
"The Council has money," Buffy complained.
"It's in probate, Buffy. Like your mom's will was. That means the judges in England have to go over the wills and that stuff to agree to what they left everyone." She slumped. "That can take up to a few years. Our lawyer over there hasn't even gotten us onto the list with a date yet. It'll be at least a year. We need to conserve some of it. Especially since we had to pay hunters to go get the other girls."
She nodded. "I can see that. How bad are we doing?"
He stared at her. "If you want more than twenty a week in allowance, find a job."
She grimaced. "I can't do that and patrol, Xander." He stared at her. "I know you did but I can't."
"Then live on the allowance," he told her. "The allowance starts once John says you're ready for patrol on your own." They nodded at that. "I'm trying to free some of it up, but right now we've got a lot of start up expenses. Including this building."
Faith nodded. "It's fine, X. You're doing a pretty good job. Especially if you can untwist what Tweedy did."
Buffy nodded. "Giles was not the paperwork sort."
"We're working on that. That's why Tony came up from DC." He grinned. "Patrol tonight?"
"Kennedy," Faith said. "She's fully trained. She's got two of the minis with her."
"What are we doing with the snotty bitch society?" Xander asked them. "They're not integrating well."
"We'll need people to go deal with problem areas," Faith said with a catty smirk. "Kennedy's the sort whose daddy flew her off at the drop of a hat."
"Send her to Asia since so many of their girls left," Buffy agreed. "Send Sandy too."
"They'd need someone to watch their back," John pointed out.
"Some of those hunters might not mind an easier job though, right?" Buffy asked. John smiled and nodded at that. "See, I have good ideas."
"You do, B." Faith grinned at her then at John. "We can ask. It'll be cheaper to have them on the payroll anyway."
"True." He patted them both on the shoulders. "Good thinking. We'll see where needs the most help and start parceling out girls once they're ready enough."
"Some are nearly there," Faith offered. Buffy nodded. "It'll be soon." That got a nod and he went back to the office. "You wanna hit some foreign city?"
"I might not mind part of the time. Maybe for a long working vacation?"
"Could," Faith agreed. "One of us has to be here but that'd be pretty cool. I've never been outside the US, even to Canada."
"Do you have one you want to visit?"
"Don't know. I'll have to think about that." She smiled, going to her room for the night. She walked past one of the girls who was blatantly listening in. "You've got a long time before you go. Don't worry about it." She nodded, going upstairs to tell the others what she heard. "And remind the bitch patrol that attitude and being able to get along is a necessary thing. Because I will kick an ass myself if I have to deal with more 'tudes."
"Yes, Faith," she said quietly. The other girls might not be totally happy but it gave them a goal to work toward. Plus knowing that the Council would be fixed within a year or so. Once all the probates got done.
Tony walked into breakfast the next morning. He ignored the girls in favor of the coffeepot.
"Do all Winchesters need caffeine first thing?" one of the girls asked.
"Yup, all the ones I know do," he agreed dryly, taking a drink once he had it perfect. He saw the list on the fridge and grimaced. "Buffy, who does grocery shopping?"
"Let Xander and Dawn do it." She nodded. "From you girls, we're going to start a weekly need list. Break it into want, need, and I'd squeal portions. Needs are things like personal hygiene items with brand if it's important to you. Wants are things like new shoes unless yours are broken." They nodded. "Submit them to Xander or whoever once a week." They went to get notepaper to do that. Tony looked at the list. "Where's the warehouse club card?"
Buffy looked confused. "Warehouse club?"
"So you can buy groceries in bulk and save money?" He took another sip when her face lit up. "We'll do that today." Xander wandered in and got a soda. "Can you do the grocery shopping today with Dawn?"
"Sure," he agreed. "Where is Costco?"
"I don't know. We can look it up on the computer," Tony promised with a grin. Xander beamed at that. "There's no card."
"We can get one," he promised. "Fifty bucks to save hundreds is a good deal." The girls cheered. "I heard about the list. Needs are: my clothes got torn on patrol or I can't get them clean so I need new ones, my shoes broke on me and I have none at all or less than two pairs or no sneakers, I'm out of tampons/shampoo/soap, the house needs advil or tylenol or any other first aid gear, we need special stuff for birthday dinners we'll start holding somehow. Wants are: makeup, a third pair of shoes or something hipper to wear for dates if you're allowed and to the point where you're ready to patrol, new DVD's for the house. I'd squeal if we got are things like: stuff for clubbing, presents that would normally make you squeal, another tv in the rec room. Got it?" They all nodded, beaming at him. "Whole house needs are to go on the list I'll be putting on the door in the same categories. Groceries are in here still as we use them up. Personal lists get put onto the desk in the folder marked 'buy me'." They all nodded and got back to their lists. He took a drink of his soda and looked at Buffy, then at Faith. "That brings up the point of club hunts?"
"There's a few we can do that in but I don't want to trust the minis until they're sure on their feet in that environment," Faith said. "It's different than a cemetery patrol and you have a lot of different dangers. Speaking of, for those of us who can date, condoms?"
"Health department?" he quipped. "Or I'll get a box while I'm out shopping. Go steal from my room if you're out, Faith." She grinned. "Anya sent her toybox and supply box with our stuff. Not like I need it right now." Dawn came in and gave him a hug. "Thanks, Dawn."
"Welcome, Xander." She smiled. "What do you want to do about the roadtrip?"
"I want Giles to get back on time so we can go." He took another drink. "Practice is still on, girls. I can hear Dean." They finished up and handed him their lists on the way out to warm up. Dean came in to get coffee and a large plate of food then went to oversee morning practice. He looked through them, putting them on a master list with the grocery stuff. "We're going grocery shopping. Find the Sam's Club or Costco?" She nodded, going to do that. "Thank you, Tony."
"Not a problem. When the budget gets a bit more room you can hire a secretary to do most of it."
Buffy leaned in. "Xander, don't get the cheapy tampons? Get something a bit more upscale than that? The lesser ones can be scratchy and the strings can break. Kotex is good for most of us, some are playtex girls, and get all the sizes, just in case?" She smiled. "Only one uses pads and you can get her the heavy ones." She went back to practice.
He made a note. "So Dawn can do that." Tony laughed, grabbing some food on his way to the office. Xander got his own breakfast, settling in to eat with Dawn before they headed off to do their own duties. Even if Xander did have to borrow the truck from John to haul it all back.
John let the girls doing their PT haul stuff in from the store. "I see we raided the bulk canned food," he joked.
"There's a lot of them and a few more coming in a few weeks. We had to get sheets too," Dawn said, putting down her last load. She got a drink and sighed in pleasure. "If I have to do that too many more times, I'm going to become shopping phobic." Buffy gave her a horrified look. "I will." She took another drink. "Tampons were next to the eggs. I got them so Xander wouldn't be traumatized." The girls got that bag in next and the rest of the stuff after that. Xander came in with the last load, tossing John his keys once his hands were free. "And hey, we spent a lot but we saved even more and this should last us for a good, long time." They all nodded, loading things into the pantry and cabinets for them while they looked over the receipt with Tony.
Tony got one of the mini candy bars from the bag the girls had broken into, nodding at the total. "Not bad. Club cards?" Xander handed it over. "That'll work." He put that into the paid invoice file. It was probably a tax deduction. Dawn gave him an odd look. "You keep receipts like that for tax time. So you get deductions and don't have to pay as much."
"Oh!" She nodded. "Will we have to? Aren't we non-profit?"
Xander groaned, shrugging. "No idea."
"I'll make sure you have what you need," Tony promised. "I already started that paperwork with someone who'd know if we'd pay less that way or as a private corporation." They beamed and went to help in the kitchen. Xander could do lunch since he had gotten the big cans of spaghetti-ohs. Tony smiled at their backs and got back to work. He emailed that question to McGee too, who said to keep all receipts, no matter what, and his investment guy was figuring that out for them. He'd let them know tomorrow. He also got an update on the current case so Tony sent back ideas for him to give out. Gibbs would be pleased he hadn't been abandoned. Even if Tony was going to drown sorting everything out. Someone knocked on the door so he went to get it, nodding at the agent there. "Fornell. Scouting reports?"
"Please. This is Mr. Webb, State Department."
"I know. Clayton."
"Tony." He shook his hand. "Scouting reports?"
"We have a few teams of hunters gathering the other slayers who're overseas or training them if they don't want to come here for a bit."
"Good to know. Are they going home later on?"
Tony nodded. "Some are being sent out soon from what John said."
"We'll need to liaison with someone about that. What sort of reports?" Tony led them back to the office and he grimaced at the piles of folders. "Better you than me."
"Giles totally screwed the system up. He had nineteen categories for seven invoices."
Webb shuddered. "That's bad."
"We're simplifying it to something Gibbs could deal with. Want some coffee, guys?" They nodded so he pointed at the filing cabinets before going to get mugs of coffee for them, and a few of the cookies that were open on the counter. The girls needed a treat he guessed. He brought them back and went back to work sorting out things into the right categories. He was down to the filing cabinets now. "Xander, I need someone to go to the office place and get stuff," he called. Xander leaned in. Tony made a list. "Please?"
"Sure." He went to do that. That was a calm store and the list wasn't that long. It was clearly marked so he knew where he needed to go. Plus he could eat lunch out since the girls were hoovering theirs. He brought it back, handing over the receipt.
"Thank you. Think they can put those teams on with Webb? He's State Department."
Xander shrugged. "Ask John. He asked them."
"Cool. Thanks." He grinned. "Nearly done." Xander squealed, hugging him before going out to run crossbow lessons, again. Tony smirked at his little brother's back. "So happy."
"With that old system I'm not surprised," Fornell said dryly. Tony finished filing things and made index cards for the filing cabinets. "You might want to put in a list of what goes in each folder," he suggested when he saw him working on the tax receipts cabinet. Tony nodded, doing that as well. Things got filed again and Tony let out a sigh of pleasure. "Done?"
"Very done and I even found the checkbook under the desk." Willow walked past. "Willow." She backtracked. "You know where all the Council's accounts are?"
"Yeah, I do. I've been talking to the lawyer in England about that. He has gotten a judge to order them handed over to handle the business expenses. He's taking the probates next month as well. The only problem is that the guy was supposed to meet with Giles today and Giles never showed up. He's not at the phone Dean gave him either."
"Don't know. I'm going to do a scrying on him. Are we set up?"
"The system's fixed, now someone has to follow it and teach someone how to use Quicken."
"I can do that," she promised with a grin. "Any other big purchases?"
"Xander and Dawn did groceries."
"I hid from that carrying," she said dryly, going to get her own lunch then heading up to her rooms to do the scrying spell.
"She seems to have some sense," Webb joked. He waved one report. "They should pass these on. This has information on a warlord working out of one area."
"Giles was a research watcher, Webb. He read it over, then filed it. He wasn't sure why John and Xander suggested they do it."
Webb looked at him. "Wonderful."
"He wants John to take over as head of the council too," Dawn said, walking in with the coffee pot. "Refills, Uncle Tony?"
"Sure, Dawn." He let her refill his and their cups. "Willow thinks Giles might be in an odd place."
"Yeah, I'd say so since she just complained about Ethan Rayne." She gave him a look. "She yelled out the window to have a meeting in a few minutes. You included." She walked off again.
"Niece?" Fornell asked.
"Xander's daughter." He grinned. "She's a good girl, going to follow me into a normal life but a different career." That got a nod from them. "You guys do that; I'll be back." He walked off with his coffee, going to see what happened. He was the last one there.
Willow quit pacing to look at them. "I replayed what happened last night to Giles while trying to find him. He went to see Ethan and they both disappeared in a flash of bad looking light." Xander groaned. "I can't find either one on this plane."
"Rescue mission?" Xander asked.
She shrugged. "I don't know how, Xander."
"You and Buffy?" he suggested.
She grimaced. "I've talked to the witches I work with over there. They're investigating. They might be able to undo whatever Ethan did."
"Why do we think Giles went to see him?" John asked. Everyone stared at him. "That's what she said."
"He did. He showed up on Ethan's doorstep," Willow agreed. "He didn't look pissed or anything. I don't know. Maybe he needed to have a drink with an enemy or something." She shrugged. "It didn't come with sound."
"By body language, was either one threatening?" Dean asked. "Or were either of them upset? Hands waving, anything like that?"
"No, Giles looked... Well he looked sad but he had been at his home, which the Bringers got. So maybe that's what it was. Paying him a visit to relive some of the good days?" she suggested. "It could've been accidental magic."
Buffy snorted. "From Ethan Rayne? Who hates Giles?"
"Who used to be Giles' best friend," Xander added patiently. "Who used to know Giles well enough that they could sleepwalk into each other's head. If it was done on purpose it probably wasn't meant to hurt him. If they meant to hurt each other, Ethan would've turned him into a demon again or Giles would've punched him again. Beyond that, they probably had to deal with the Initiative mess where you guys handed him over to them." John and Tony both gave him odd looks. "He had been plaguing them."
"We heard he got free after a few days," Buffy defended.
Xander gave her a look. "Knowing what you now know about their methods..."
She turned green, that's all they needed to see.
"So maybe Giles went to apologize for that," Willow agreed. "I have no idea about the magic. The witches will call when they know what happened. It should be by tomorrow and hopefully they can unravel it at the same time."
Xander nodded. "Good to know." He looked at Dawn. "Looks like we're possibly pushing back our trip," he said quietly.
"If we have to, we have to," she agreed. "There's still the picnic in Miami."
"Do you have a bathing suit?" Tony teased.
She beamed. "Hell yes. I look fantastic in it."
Buffy leaned around Sam to look at her. "You are *not* wearing that yellow bikini around people, Dawn Summers."
"Only Dad can say that," she quipped with a huge grin.
"I'd have to see you in it," Xander told her.
"It's smaller than mine," Faith smirked.
Xander looked at her. "Since when you do you tan in a bathing suit, Faith?" She blushed. "Yeah, caught you really well and if I was like Spike I would've taken pictures." He looked at her. "I'll be seeing it later, young lady. You may have outgrown it," he said at her pout.
"Fine." She looked at Buffy. "I need to find some cool shorts too. I did outgrow all of mine and Miami's a city of pretty people."
"We can replace things the girls outgrow," Xander agreed.
"That's for slayers," Faith said.
Xander stared at her. "She's still helping. If you had a daughter, I'd let yo do that too."
"No, if I had a daughter, I wouldn't let you guys pay for clothes. Food you can't separate out, but clothes are different."
Xander considered it. "I do have some. I can give her an allowance. That is a good point." Dawn nodded. "Until you sign on."
"I can agree to that. I should go to you for allowance anyway."
"Are we not worried Giles is missing?" Willow demanded. "Ethan could be killing him!"
"If we have to wait on their report, do you want us to pace and make ourselves sick?" Sam asked. "There's things that still have to be handled while we worry with the back of our heads."
She huffed. "Fine. Whatever."
"Willow, if you can do the teleporty thing, why don't yo go help them?" Dawn suggested. Willow beamed and looked around before concentrating and sending herself there. She looked at her sister. "You don't seem too worried."
"From what she said, it wasn't anything bad. I don't like Ethan and I don't trust Ethan, but Giles can kick his butt if he needs to. I'm more worried that Giles went to him to have Ethan do something to him on purpose."
"He wouldn't do that," Buffy said firmly.
"Okay," Dawn said, dropping it. Buffy got a relieved look and they went back to what they had been doing.
Tony stopped her, giving her a look. "Why?"
"Because he's feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and needy," she said very quietly.
"Ever think about going into psychology? Hunters need a shrink too after the bad hunts," John said as he walked past her.
She smiled. "I'll consider it." She looked at Tony again. "Need more help?"
"Maybe later. They're still going over those scouting reports."
"I guess that makes sense. Who knows where they get their information otherwise. Probably someone who sits in a cushy office all day." She walked off, going back to practice.
"Only sometimes," Tony admitted, going back to the office. "We finding anything interesting?"
"A lot of very interesting things and some disturbing trends for people in your little brother's job," Fornell said, handing over his copy of the notes. "Including a mass move to migrate for some reason."
Tony paged Xander, getting him leaning in a minute later. "Would the demons in Peru massing together to move be a bad thing?"
"Yeah, usually means there's either a strong leader who's pushing out all but his own kind or there's rumors of a higher one coming down to take over that area so they think they'll be killed for being a weaker species."
Tony let him have it. Xander grimaced. "Can anyone handle that?"
"I don't know, I'll ask John." He went to ask him, waving the note a bit to get his attention. "Mass migration out of Peru?"
"Interesting." He took it to look over. "That sounds like it could be a bad thing."
"You can send some of the girls down to deal with it," Buffy pointed out.
Xander looked at her. "All the demons in an area of Peru are massing and moving."
She shuddered. "A higher warlord?"
"No clue," Xander admitted. Fornell came out with another report. He took it to look over. "Yup, another warlord to wipe the nasty humans off the world. They have at least sixteen bigger demons in his troop and the slayer called down there only got four of them out of the way." He handed it to John, who read it then handed it on to Buffy. "Fornell, is there anything later?"
"They reported leaving the country in a hurry three days later. That girl was injured and flown to the major city. She'll be heading up when she gets out. They left her a plane ticket."
Xander nodded. "Okay." He looked at Buffy. Who nodded she'd go. "You sure?"
"Why not. It sounds like pretty country."
"You're in mountain jungles, Buffy. Not a park," John said. "It's deadly terrain if you're not used to it."
She looked at him. "Can you teach me how to deal with it?"
He nodded. "I can."
"Then a few of us need those lessons before he gets too big and they end up killing a lot of people."
"All right. We'll sit down and make plans tonight while I go over survival training with you girls for the next week. Then you can go." They nodded, Buffy going to pick her team. "Any other bad problem areas?" he asked the agent.
"Two but they look like they got handled. Are you guys paying the hunters getting the girls?"
"We gave them a flat fee and a corporate card," Xander told him. "The card is for extra expenses. The money is for their fees. Two are nearly done thankfully. It's hugely expensive."
"How are they using a corporate card in the middle of nowhere?" Fornell asked.
"Most of the time they get a cash advance of the local currency before leaving the town. The ones in Africa are using it to have supplies shipped in while they work with the current girl and her village."
"Oh." He nodded, going back to his looking. "They're on an expense account."
Webb looked at him. "That's not that impractical. Did he pay for the strip club too?" Tony moaned. "Demonic."
"Of course it was," he said dryly. "Why go to a normal one?" He grimaced but shook his head. "Was the slayer there?"
"Working. The only human." He put it aside. Tony shook his head quickly. "She'll be coming over in two weeks."
"Most of them are timed to come in that day," Tony agreed. "We'll be like the UN and need translators."
Fornell snickered. "I'm not sure anyone could do that even there, DiNozzo."
Tony looked at him. "You know, they're hiring. They could always offer you a job."
"Bite your tongue," he growled.
"We could steal his secretary," Xander said as he walked past the door. "The hunters taught the girls the basics in English and how to get hold of us. Need anything? I'm heading for a soda since I didn't get myself any."
"Go for it," Tony said. "Call Gibbs."
"Sure." He grabbed his phone on the way out the door. He could call him on the way to the pharmacy. He had a headache anyway. He dialed his other father's desk phone, getting a younger, female voice. "Is Jethro there please? Xander." He listened to her say something to another female voice. That one sneered something. "Lady, I'm his son. Don't make me come to DC to beat an ass. Put me on with Abby, Ducky, or McGee. Well, obviously he doesn't trust you with personal information since you didn't know about me." She hung up so he called McGee's cellphone. "Who were the two bitches at Dad's desk answering his phone?" He laughed.
"Yeah, younger, one crankier. I called the desk phone, McGee. No, it sounded like they were in his shit and the crankier one was deeply offended that she didn't know I existed. I told the younger one that's because he didn't trust her with personal information." He grinned. "Hey, Dad. Tylenol and soda run. My head aches." He stopped to listen to him. "I called your desk. Well, next time tell the cranky bitch not to sneer at me, Dad. Like I give a damn and if I was there in person I'd have hurt them after the last week of being in charge. By the way, it looks like Giles may have disappeared." He hung up and got his tylenol and soda, plus a box of sleeping pills. He'd clearly need them sometime soon. He went back to the school, giving the girl waiting to pounce him an odd look. "What?"
"I'm growing," she said happily.
He looked at her current outfit. "Prove it since that's still too loose and doesn't look like it's changed sizes?" She gaped. He stared back. "Buffy's the one that likes to shop, Diedre. I can't stand shopping. Unless you're really outgrowing things, no." She stomped off pouting. "When you do, we'll go again." He went back to the office to go over the system Tony had devised. "The younger bitch and the smartass bitch didn't know about me and were deeply offended Jethro was hiding me," he said dryly. "I told them it was a good thing I wasn't in their face. Dad's on a case. McGee's sounding scared of his temper so I don't know what's going on."
"Shit," Tony said, calling down there. "Hey, boss, need me to consult from Cleveland? No I will not smack your son for bitching the director out."
"I'm pretty sure they were in his desk," Xander said. "The younger one answered it before it got through a full ring." He swallowed his tylenol with another sip. Webb looked at him. "What?"
"One was probably his director, kid."
"She can blow me. High class bitch isn't any better than low class bitch. A bitch is still a bitch while she's barking." They gaped. He stared back. "I do deal with bitches all the time," he said dryly, pointing outside. "I'm also blunt about it. I'm going to spike the nation's water supply with midol some year soon to spare everyone else pain and misery." He took another drink.
Tony listened then looked at his brother. "Gibbs said if you got plans to do that, let him know so they can close that security hole." Xander pointed at the cabinet he was sitting in front of. "You already made one?"
"Do you know how many demons and vamps use the sewer systems, Tony? Not only do I have one already made up, I can do it. We've had to go on patrol down there a few times. Faith doesn't like it when I go with her, but yay."
Tony said that to Gibbs, who growled. He winced. "He said to let Fornell have it, Xander. Maybe they can stop the demons too."
"There's ones that eat electricity, brother dear. They'll have them take out any security system and the people eating ones take out any guards." He shifted to get into the filing cabinet, pulling out his plans. "Cleveland's, DC's, Miami's, New York's, and Las Vegas's. Which is the hardest of the three." He tossed them onto the desk as he named them. He got up and went to watch training with his soda.
"No fair," Buffy complained.
"I needed it to take the tylenol."
She pouted. "Can I have a sip?" He took a big gulp then handed it to her. "Thanks, Xander."
"Welcome. The FBI is going to try to close off some of the demon highway running under us."
"Yay them. It's pretty futile but if they want to, go for it. Less work for us," Buffy said dryly. "Hand them your plans?"
"Xander, why do you have plans for a weapons storage facility?" Tony called from the doorway.
Xander looked back at him. "Apocalypse vault in case we need it. Why?"
"Tough shit. You'd rather I had to buy that day and possibly miss with malfunctioning things?"
Tony grimaced. "No," he admitted, going back to call him back. "He makes a valid point. They might need some to save us all some day. If he has to buy right beforehand, he might get something unworking or make it worse."
"No," Fornell said clearly. "No weapons storage."
Sam leaned in with a grin. "Up to what class? Because we use shotguns, regular guns, axes, machetes, and some fire implements."
Fornell moaned, giving him a horrified look. "Guns?"
"Yeah, dude. Rock salt and blessed silver," he said dryly. "Xander's not the only hunter who's ever needed artillery. He just got his in an interesting way." He grinned. "At least you know if we have it, some terrorist won't."
"They can steal it from you," Webb said calmly.
Sam snickered. "Yeah, and get past the slayers?" That got a grudging grunt of truth hitting. "Anyway, not like Xander would tell you where it was or anyone really. He'd just appear with something one day."
Xander put his chin on Sam's shoulder. "That's what I used to do. That and presents. Gotta love presents. Speaking of, I really should go back to Sunnydale and check things out. I'm not so sure the underground lairs were collapsed and it might mean things that could open it underground there." Sam turned his head partially so Xander nuzzled his cheek. "You can come if you want."
"I'd have to stoop over all day at my height."
Xander kissed him on the cheek. "If you want." He walked off.
Sam shook his head. "Have fun with that."
"I will. Probably after the picnic."
"Sure, hopefully Giles is back by then," Sam agreed. He looked at Tony. "Will it run itself for a few weeks?"
"As long as someone's overseeing and doing the filing."
"So an assistant?"
"Could do it for that long, maybe. As long as there's not an emergency."
"Cool." He grinned. "Know any we can poach?"
"I'll ask around DC." Sam beamed and walked off, going back to the library. Tony waited until he was gone to look at his fellow government workers. "The hunting does it to them."
"Combat's done it to many people," Webb said dryly, giving him a look. "That's just worse, nightly, more deadly combat." He got back to work. "Found the current dirtbag my boss is worried about." He gathered those to look through, faxing back the reports to his own desk. He came back to find anything else he might need. A new report came off the fax machine. They gathered it and it went to both sets of bosses then they filed it away. It was more human problems than demon problems. "The last girl in Africa is settled in and trained as much as they could. Her village's elder is watching over her." Tony nodded, making a note of that. "There's a group of problems near there but they've got the village mobile in case it comes closer." He went back to what he was doing. This was very helpful to them. They'd have to switch some tactics to get some native information instead.
Tony texted that to Xander, who sent back a happy face. His family was insane. Really, truly insane. He was so glad he had a normal life. He would never be able to pick up women if he went as crazy as his family. Though they wore it well and picked up women somehow. Just not women like he liked. He'd die without having women.
"Quit thinking about girls," Fornell growled.
Tony grinned. "But why? They're nice."
Fornell snorted. "Jethro said you were a horndog with no attention span."
Tony just cackled because he knew his boss liked him even with that glaring lack of humor his boss had shown.
Xander looked at Buffy and the new assistant, both of whom were looking at the folders in the stand on his desk. "Any questions about where things go?"
"Buy me?" Buffy asked as she read the folders labels. "Pay me." She gave him an odd look. "Is that official speak?"
"It's simple enough one of the younger girls can handle it if we're all injured," he said dryly.
"Oh, okay. I guess that's good. What do I do after I pay or buy?" He pointed at a folder that said 'to be filed'. "I don't have to file?"
"No. That system's a bit more difficult based on what area it is for tax time. She can file."
Buffy beamed at the center's secretary. "That's so cool."
"It is," she agreed dryly, looking at her boss. "How long are you going to be gone for?"
"Month. Two weeks in Miami, then back to Sunnydale to check on the old tunnels. Buffy's just back from Peru. She and Faith are co-in-charge while I'm gone with the whole Winchester clan." She nodded. "Any other questions?"
"Do we call if there's a problem?" Buffy asked.
"Unless it's something that I need to hear, you can handle it. Keep to patrol stuff. Faith worked really hard on the new schedule because she got whining about dates."
Buffy nodded once. "I did that so I can understand that I guess. Where is Faith?"
"Recovering after the whining. She's in her tub."
"Oh." She nodded and they broke apart. "Call and give us happy news from Miami."
"Sure, Buff." He looked at the assistant once Buffy was gone. "I know," he said quietly. "Got it?" She nodded. "You sure?"
"I have your new cell number?" she nearly whispered. He smirked and nodded. "Then I'm good. Have fun at the reunion."
"Oh, I plan on it," he said with a wicked grin. "There's a list if you get lost in the files for the receipts."
"It's pretty self explanatory," she promised.
"That's what Tony was going for." He grinned as he left the office. "Dawn, grab my shit," he called as he headed up the stairs. She came out of the suite, tossing him his bag. "Thanks, sprout. Everyone else?"
"Headed last night. That's why Faith's in the tub. I think she finally managed to pounce Sam since he slept without nightmares." They walked down together. "We're going!" she shouted. "Don't destroy the city without us!" Xander cackled but they headed to the car. They'd be flying down. She could learn to like flying. It was much easier on her. It was a drive to the airport but that happened to everyone. She settled in to read her fashion mags. She was not going to look tragic when she started school again. She refused to be as tragic as Buffy was now and then.
Ryan Wolfe met the last planeload of people, staring at them. "Why is it the others drove and you two flew?" he asked when they finally came out of the restricted section.
"Because they have stuff in their cars that they might need," Xander said with a smirk. Dawn gave him a hug. He shook his hand. "How's the weather?"
"Hot and humid. Greg's complaining about his hair." He grinned, letting them get their bags and head out with him. "Horatio said I could borrow the hummer since my personal car only seats two."
"That's cool. We can ride in the environment destroying car now and then since we try to recycle," Dawn quipped.
Ryan laughed. "Everyone else got in earlier."
"We had to wait on Buffy to get back to take things over," Xander told him. Ryan shuddered. He had talked to Buffy one night trying to get Xander. "She's just back from taking out something huge in Peru so she's tired. Faith nearly batted the minis for whining about patrol. It's all good because now there's an assistant who can handle *everything*."
Ryan snickered. "That's even better."
"And she's one of the few that has my new cellphone number," Xander said happily.
"That's so the whiny ones can't call to whine their way into more punishment for skipping patrol," Dawn said.
Ryan nodded. "You guys live an insane life."
"Well, yeah," he admitted but he was grinning. "Oh well. Someone's got to since Giles and his special friend Ethan fled the plane."
Ryan shot him a concerned look. "He did?"
"He went to see Ethan and there was a magical flash that took them," Dawn said. "They used to be friends then Giles backed out of the black magic biz so they're enemies. The last time they saw each other, Giles handed him to the Initiative. Then Giles goes to see him and they disappear together. Willow can't even find them. I'm going to give it a try sometime soon, once I learn how to harness my powers."
Xander nodded. "Please do. For all I care some days, Ethan can come help Giles run things." She snickered. "He'd soak up plenty of chaos from the girls."
"Yup," she agreed. She leaned forward to rest against the back of the front seats. "Is the hotel nice?"
"Very nice. It's on the beach. Dean's been out staring at bikinis all day. They must've driven all night."
"Probably. Less traffic on the interstate," Xander agreed. He glanced back at her. "Thou shalt not what?"
"Go out looking like a ho, hit on the Latin honeys who might want to break my underage butt in, or try women?" she guessed.
"Or any other man," she sighed. He grinned. "Yes, dad."
"Thanks, dear." He looked at Ryan again. "There is a decent teen club?"
"There's a few. One that's mixed but lets in underage kids as long as they have a chaperone."
"I can do that. Xander needs laid," Dawn said. Ryan spluttered. "If you crash us, they'll be really mad and make you do even more paperwork."
"They will," he moaned, shaking his head. "Don't say that around my friends, Dawn? Please? They're kind of uptight."
"Fine, I won't blow their minds open."
"Unless it attacks and her Tuesday problem hasn't happened in almost a year."
"Even better." He took an exit off the highway, going down to the hotel by the beach. He pulled in and parked, letting them head inside to check in and drop things. Dawn changed, coming down in a skimpier top and shorts, plus cool sandals. Ryan gave her a look. "It's family, Dawn."
"I'm not hitting on them. You're all tragically old but I refuse to look frumpy in front of the hotty guys my age." Ryan smiled, leading them to where the others were on the beach. "Hello, my people."
John looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "When did you outgrow that top?"
"Stop it, Grandpa. It's perfectly decent."
"It shows your bellybutton."
"It's supposed to." She settled on the foot of his lounger. "You need more sunblock." She looked at Gibbs, who was staring. "I'm old enough to date, Grandpa Jethro."
"No you're not."
"Dad said sixteen. I am over sixteen."
"No you're not," he repeated.
"I said she could hit a teen club with whoever would go with her," Xander said as he flopped down next to Jethro. "So, how's your bitches?"
Gibbs smacked him on the head. "They're not mine, son."
Xander grinned. "What did they find in your desk?"
"Not what they were looking for with as bad of a mood as they were in that day." He looked at him. "How's your insanity?"
"We have a secretary now."
"Even better," he agreed dryly.
"Thank you, Tony."
"Welcome," he said with a grin. "She good?"
"She's working wonderfully. Buffy got back last night from Peru. She and Faith are co-in- charge. Only the secretary has my new number. She told Buffy she'd handle the filing for her. That made her a happier slayer."
"Still no word on Giles," John said grimly.
"Xander and I agree, he went to ask Ethan for a favor," Dawn told him.
"Could be," he agreed. He reached up to brush her hair back. "You're too young to date."
She sighed, looking up then at him. "In my next year's class is a girl who's had three kids. She's a year younger than I am."
"You do that and I'm sewing you shut," Dean vowed.
Dawn stuck her tongue out at him. "Yes, Uncle Dean." She got up. "I'm going to scope hotties. You guys behave and do grumpy older guy things." She strolled off.
Xander shook his head. "Two more years and she's in college. Within a semester she'll have a live-in boyfriend."
"Not in the dorms," Sam said. "They do not like you to have visitors. Or at least in the dorm I lived in."
"I sneaked one in now and then," Tony said happily.
"At the frat house?" Gibbs said dryly.
"There I sneaked in more than a few." The other guys laughed. "It's because I'm so charming. It's the same thing skill that lets Dean pick up the sleazy women; only I have taste and sanity to draw the better ones."
Dean looked at him. "Mine are more fun."
"Yours are more likely to stab you," he countered.
"You've had two stalk you," Gibbs reminded.
"Dean had one of those in eighth grade," John sighed, shaking his head. "The girl would not leave him alone."
Sam cackled. "I remember her!" Dean glared at him. "Didn't she send you a pornographic letter about how she wanted to be stranded on a desert island with you, then she'd have babies so you could be nourished by nursing from her?"
"Yup, her," John agreed. "Thankfully her mother freaked out when I handed her that letter and got her daughter help." He sipped his beer. Dean groaned, covering his face with his hands.
Xander grinned. "It could be worse, Dean."
Dean looked at him. "Yeah, I could've dated an Incan Mummy who came back to life," Dean shot back.
"She liked me enough to not kill *me*."
Sam gaped at him. "Xander! That's so bad!"
"Yes I am," he quipped. Two girls walking up the beach came strolling over. "Ladies," he said, nodding politely. He looked at Dean. "Coming to look at my big brother since he's a large piece in the meat market scene?"
One giggled. "We can to see why so many handsome men were gathered together," the other said.
"Clan reunion," Tony said with a grin.
"Awww. That's so cool." They settled in to flirt with Xander. Who soaked it up. He even walked off with them but a few minutes later he came back.
Gibbs gave him an odd look. "You abandoned them?"
"Only when they pulled a gun on the transit cop trying to ticket their car. Proved they were my type." They all moaned at that. He grinned sweetly. "Dawn's off hitting on a football player." Dean got up and went to find Dawn for her own safety. "Who is very gay. She's talking Dean up actually," he said once he was gone. John and Sam both laughed. He grinned. "What?" he asked with a good boy grin.
"So bad," Sam wheezed.
"Well, yeah. So, Dad, going back to Sunnydale to check out the tunnels with me?"
"We're going to check on that thing in the Dakotas, see Bobby," John told him.
"Sure. We'll call if we need help."
That got a nod. "Be safe."
"Of course," he said dryly. "When am I not safe?" Dean stomped back blushing. "Aww, did he hit on you, Dean?"
Dawn strolled up after her uncle. "Pulled him into his lap for an epic lip lock and snuggle. Patted him down and vowed to get some of him before he left the reunion. Then he went to shower off the sand so he'd be more perfect for his wooing campaign." She settled at the foot of Sam's lounger, watching him cackle in glee. "See, Dean, some good stress relief and he thought you were hot."
"Dawn," he moaned, looking pained.
"Shh, it's all right. I'm told it's fun," Xander told him.
"Who told you that?" Dawn snickered.
"John when he suggested I should be gay."
Gibbs looked at John. "Given up on the hope of other grandchildren from him?" he asked dryly.
John nodded. "With his luck they'll be slayers with his mind."
"Hey!" Xander complained. "Sammy said I'm not dumb."
"No, but you do have a unique way of thinking about things, son."
"That means she'd make a great slayer."
"Uh-huh," Gibbs said. "Go gay, son." Xander stuck his tongue out.
"Anya tried to make him promise to go gay if she died," Dawn told him.
"I never said I would. Otherwise I'd get an oath breaking demon down to punish me." Xander leaned back, soaking up the warmth. "Much nicer than Cleveland right now." Dawn nodded, snuggling in next to Sam. He smiled, letting her cuddle. Xander smirked at Sam but went back to enjoying the pretty day. He hardly made it outside at the moment. This was nice to be in the sun.
Gibbs looked over at the firs quiet snore. "We'll wake them after a good nap." The others agreed, soaking up the sun until Gibbs' phone rang. "What?" he demanded shortly. He listened. "No, I can't. Because I'm at a family reunion and nowhere near the city, Director." He hung up. His phone rang again. "I'm going to let him have you eaten," he muttered before answering it. "What?" He listened to her complain. "I did file for leave time. DiNozzo and I both did, Director. It was clearly stated I was going to be out of contact and out of the region on it. No, I'm in Miami and I'll be back in a week." He listened to her huff. "There's six other teams on the floor, Director. Ask one of them to take the case. It can only help them get better. Because I'm not cutting back my time with my children for a case. I have better priorities than that." He hung up again and turned his phone off.
Tony's phone rang but he saw the number. "It's Ziva." He answered it. "Better be good, Officer David." He listened to her. "No, that's not a good thing. Then again, Gibbs and I are at a family reunion. I'm not related to him. You know what, ask Ducky. Anything else? Miami. Cuddling my niece at the moment," he lied. He gave his phone a disgusted look then snorted. "No way in hell, Ziva." He hung up and looked over. "They wanted us to take on guarding duty for a special regional ruler who was coming in."
"The same drug lord who's starting a civil war?" Gibbs asked.
"Yup." He looked at Sam. "I can cuddle. I'm not getting much play. You should get more than me at your age, Sam."
"I'm not ready for play," he said with a small smile. "Besides, she's asleep." Tony nodded at that. Sam shifted some to get comfortable. Dawn shifted to cuddle better onto his chest. He grinned at her, shaking his head.
John looked at him. "Do we need to have that talk again?" he asked sarcastically.
Sam looked back at him. "No. You only had to have it last time because Dean was being touchy-feely over an injury. It wasn't on my side." He went back to watching the ocean while the other boys laughed.
Horatio, Ryan's boss, showed up a bit later, walking down to face them. "Jethro Gibbs."
"Horatio Caine," he shot back with a smirk. "Problem?"
"Your director called my boss to call me to find you."
"Can I have her eaten yet?" Xander mumbled.
"Ask me later this week," Gibbs told him. He kept staring at Horatio. "You're supposed to do what?"
"Take you into custody so you can be picked up by your own people for a special mission."
"Uh-huh," Tony said. He called the local office. "Hey, it's DiNozzo and Gibbs. We are in Miami. We're at a family reunion. We're not cutting our family reunion short. You can tell the director to look up file SDYCA10022471999 if she wants to know what's going to happen to us from a slightly insane little brother of mine if she keeps being pushy." He grinned at the gasp that file got. "If she needs things, there's six other teams on our floor that seem to do a lot less work than we do. For that matter, we have a Mossad agent on our team who could do the same job. Make her do it." He smirked. "Good! Go ahead and email that to her secretary for us please. We're being happy on the beach but we'll be going to dinner later on and maybe a club, that might be tomorrow night. No, no worries. One of the family is a local CSI. Thanks, Herpava." He hung up.
"Herpava? The girl of Indian descent that dyes her hair blonde?" Gibbs asked.
"Yeah, she's in the local office now, Boss. I had her send the incident file for the graduation battle to the director. Sorry if she's scared of you, Xander."
Xander looked over at him. "Don't tempt me. There's demons in DC. They like the politicians." He grinned sweetly.
Horatio coughed. "I'm hoping we won't have an incident like the last reunion?"
"Sure, Dean won't hit on any harpies," Xander said dryly. "Beyond that," he said with a point. "It's only dangerous to ships. It eats metal." Horatio looked and went paler. "It's pretty harmless and comes up a few times a year, usually at night. It must be hungry or bored." Horatio walked off calling someone in the Coast Guard, who apparently had a clue because the beach was declared closed and they had to leave.
Dawn looked out there. "Fucking demon," she muttered, grumpy from being woken up. The demon's head exploded. "Um.. Granddad?" They both stared at her. "I think I need control work." She pointed. "Oops?"
Xander looked then at her. "No one's got a tail. It's better than Willow's usual slip. Go to the room and meditate, Dawn." She hurried off to do that. "Sorry."
"It happens," John said dryly. "I had no idea how to kill it." Another head came up out of the water. "It has two heads?"
"I think it's got one on the tail," Xander admitted. "No full clue though. I only ran across an anecdotal mention when I looked up any problems in Miami. Sam?"
"It does have two heads, one on each end. It won't die from one exploding." They headed back inside the hotel, going up to shower off the sweat and sand, then change for dinner and clubbing. "Don't worry, Dawn, it had two heads."
He smiled, going to change into hipper clothes. Dawn and the girls had attacked their wardrobes. Even Dad had jeans that fit and shirts that weren't baggy or flannel. It was amazing.
Faith looked up from the boring crap Xander had said had to get done sometime when Buffy walked in with Willow. "What's up? Big nasty?" she asked hopefully.
"Wondering why I didn't get put in charge," Willow said with a pout.
"Because you're never here?" Faith suggested. "Or maybe because this isn't your thing either? Xander made the system Giles-proof so yeah, you'd probably complicate it a lot."
She pouted. "I wouldn't. I can handle invoices." Faith handed over the one she was trying to interpret. She looked at it, frowning. "What is this for?"
Buffy looked over. "The tickets to Peru. That's the corporate card." She pointed. "That's the last team in Africa. They're free in another two weeks when the last girl you found gives birth."
"Oh." She frowned at it, handing it back. "So we have to pay it off? I can do that."
Faith pointed at the computer. "All I have to do is input the date, the amount, and that stuff. It'll send it automatically." Willow slumped. "Beyond that, aren't you in charge of the library?"
"Then why worry about this shit?"
"Because I don't feel like I'm doing anything."
Buffy shrugged. "We train a lot but we don't do that much either. This is how Xander feels useful I guess. Not like he can be in a fight with that eye."
Faith gave her an odd look. "And the fact that two of the slayers owe him their lives from the battle with the First?" she countered. Buffy groaned. "Or that Xander still goes on patrol with me all the time?" Buffy stared. She nodded. "Yeah. Not like I can take the whiny ones into the sewers with me, B." Buffy slumped and groaned this time. "X is just as good as he was before. It makes him pay more attention and we know to cover that weak side in a fight. Though I know he knows why Giles walked off. This is driving him insane too."
"He did not!" Buffy said, standing up.
"You can't tell me those two aren't powerful enough to get out of wherever, B. It's been months. Tweedy's own journal said that Ethan dreamwalked into his head a few months before he turned him into a demon. Not to mention the fact that Ethan is the top chaos person on this planet. Janus has got to be in touch with him. He's not going to lose that sort of power."
Buffy slid back into her seat. "You think he abandoned us?"
"I think he more walked off because he felt he couldn't help you guys," Willow said. "He could've thought he'd only screw it up more. Which he wasn't."
"Only the old filing system," Faith said. "Tony got that fixed." She looked at Buffy. "Can you find any other explanation?" She shook her head, looking miserable. "He was trying to get John and Xander both to take control from him before then. It looks like he left it in good hands. Even if the Winchesters are going to be off hunting for a while."
"They're not coming back from the reunion?" Willow asked.
"Someone had a vision of the next apocalypse being in the Dakotas but not being our sort," Faith said. She'd leave out who because it would only freak Willow out or upset her again. "Something to do with the demon who got John's wife and Sammy's girl."
She slumped, nodding a bit at that. "Do they need me or the slayers?"
"Not that they've said but they said they'd call," Buffy told her. "Xander's going to hit Sunnydale to make sure nothing's in the old tunnels because he doesn't think they collapsed when the town fell in. That's why Faith and I are in charge for a month."
"Who's going to watch Dawn?" Willow said.
"Xander. That's her dad," Faith pointed out. "Not like it'll be dangerous and if it is, she'll go shack up with Fred for the night or something."
"We can do it. Buffy should spend more time with Dawn."
"Honestly, it's good not to have to worry about her and everything else," Buffy said. "It's nice when someone's there to give *good* orders when needed." She grimaced. "I guess that would've been Giles job originally but he never really gave me clear cut orders beyond 'bad demon'."
Faith nodded. "Neither of the ones we saw in Sunnydale gave orders, B. My original one gave me some now and then about training more often. How to patrol, how to be careful on patrol. She set some pretty firm boundaries too. Which is what John did that the girls press back against."
"No, I agree. Those rules make sense," Buffy said. "It's sad but all the foreign born slayers don't have a problem with them. Only the native ones."
"They say american teens are spoiled," Faith said dryly.
"Clearly." She stood up. "Patrol tonight?"
Faith looked at the schedule. "Whiny brats minus the one in bed with the foot thing."
Buffy nodded, going to get them off for their patrol. Someone had to keep some order with all the watchers gone. And there was a horrible thought - Xander as a watcher. She shook her head as she walked into the common room. "Kennedy, your team has patrol tonight," she called over the current argument. They didn't listen. "Stop it!" she yelled. Willow created a cold rain storm as she came up behind her on the stairs. "Thanks, Wills."
"Not a problem. I can see why the skanky vamp me liked whips." She stared at the girls. "Kennedy, your team's night for patrol." She sipped her tea, looking at the other ones. "Don't make me call John. Dean's probably got Dawn in a teen club teaching her how to play pool. Again probably."
Buffy nodded. "They already taught her how to hustle pool. Apparently it's a necessary Winchester trait. Even Tony had to learn." She looked at the same girl. "Well?"
"Tell her slayers don't stalk boys!" she complained. "Especially mine!"
"No, that's trashy and we're not trashy, ladies. Though, aren't you gay?" she asked Kennedy. "I thought you were." She huffed off. "Okay then." She looked at the other girl. "Is he nice?"
She grinned. "He's very sweet. He's taking me to the movies next weekend."
"So, he's good to you on dates?" Buffy asked. The girl looked clueless. "How long have you two been seeing each other?"
"Two months, since we started to talk."
Buffy sat down, pulling the younger girls over to talk with them about boyfriends and how to tell when you had one for real. Willow settled in to give helpful hints and tips on how to attract someone. She had done it once. She could do it again. The other girls came over to help. Faith finally came up to flop down. She listened then moaned, switching it to the sex talk the girls clearly needed. Before they ended up with baby slayers running around the house tripping them during practice. Buffy and Willow both went red at her blunt speech but oh well. Willow even accidentally chimed in with an 'I remember liking that' but she ran off to her room she was so red in the face. That's when Faith realized she was surrounded by virgins, prudes, and people who loved fluffy things and cats. Maybe she could go overseas to one of the danger spots soon? Or maybe she'd take a walk on the wilder side of Cleveland tonight to get back to people she was used to. Work hard, play hard was her motto. She'd have to drill that into the younger girls before they got uptight like Buffy was.
Xander got out of the car and stared at the sink hole, quietly staring at it for a few minutes. Dawn slid out to cuddle up to his side, giving him a hug. "Anya would want her going out to be memorable I guess," he said quietly.
"Think she's with my cellphone in hell?"
"Could be. Probably trying to find that video with the porn if she is." Xander grinned at her. "What if they did collapse, Xander?"
He pointed. "That's an newly dug hole, Dawn. Something's down there."
"The mayor's stash was confiscated by the town's elders a few years back," a deeper male voice said.
Xander glanced back. "I knew that. I saw it the night they were smuggling it to the jail." He looked back at the ground again. "I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about the demons who're going to snuggle up to the buried power source, or that they could be using the tunnels to dig things out again without us knowing. How's LA, Wes?"
"Not bad." He moved closer. "They're at peace."
Xander nodded. "Anya's probably screaming in pleasure somewhere, having fun." That got a squeeze from Dawn. "Anyway, can we do the mapping spell, Dawnie?" She nodded, getting out the prepared paper they had bought in LA. He glanced at Wes. "Who told you guys?"
"The people you bought the paper from got worried when they heard her say you were coming back here."
"It figures. Want to have Dawnie cuddles while I explore?"
"I can do that. Fred and Gunn are back at the rooming house a few miles back." Dawn chanted the small spell and it took form on the paper. "Splendidly done, Dawn."
She smiled. "Earth magic gives me hives."
"As it did me when I tried it." He tossed her a book. "That should help. It's much more natural than what the others do. It's based on balance, natural balance, and calls to all the forces not just that one." She beamed. He looked at the map, frowning. "I know we have an enclave of underdwellers near this spot." He pulled out pictures and put them on the hood. "These four are always harmless. This last one is usually harmless but if they're feeding their offspring something tainted it can cause problems next century." Xander nodded. "That's a metal eater."
"Okay." He looked at the map. "Can you go deeper, Dawn? I know there's more than one level." He tapped a spot. "This is one I'm worried about. That's the storage area below Willie's and he had gotten some weapons and things."
Wesley gave him an odd look. "You can't be serious."
"I can be serious," he said, looking at him. "Deadly serious if they fall into the wrong hands. Some of the demon traders we had were into the heavier weapons. I pulled away two from the local base and handed them back the same year the Initiative got there."
"Oh dear lord," he muttered.
"Exactly. Anything else I can scavenge is fine but I need to make sure they're not down there waiting on some lucky bastard who falls into a hole."
"That is important." Dawn dug the map deeper, showing a lot of tunnels, caves, and holes. "Where does this lead?" he asked, tapping a spot where it faded off.
"The hellmouth ate the spell there," she said. "It's still leaking some from the seal, even though it's shut."
"It should probably always leak some," Xander agreed. "The same as this dirt is clearly infected with it since it's glowing blue in the sunset." They looked. It was pretty. Xander went back to looking at the map. "Okay, starting tomorrow, I'm going down the hole we have by the college," he decided. "Those are probably more stable and there's places up there we have to look at."
"Why?" Wesley asked.
"Because the college had a major mojo library," Xander said, smirking at him. "Which Willow discovered one night with Tara. She's the one who reminded me because she was sitting in a rocking chair talking about finding it and the picnic they had in there. It was the mayor's working library." Wesley moaned. "Which'll be moved to Cleveland."
"Of course. Better there than here. Will you need more help than someone to watch Dawn?"
"Probably not. Maybe some muscles but I might be able to pay off a demon or two for the smaller stuff. Or call Willow. She'll move it for us." That got a nod. "I'm hoping it won't take more than a week. Dad and them are handling something."
"Your...your father?" he squeaked. "I thought he died."
"He did. He's one of the spirits Willow called back during the last battle."
"Oh, I say. I wasn't there for the aftermath so I didn't see him."
Xander nodded. "Yeah, he's back and looking at this huge devil's gate that the demon who killed his wife wants to open."
"It never ends," he moaned.
Xander grinned. "Nope, but it's not a slayer duty this time."
"Well thank god for that," he said dryly. "How is their training going?"
"I can see why Giles walked away," he said, giving him a look. "There's been many days I wanted to do that. Think I can go deal weapons instead?"
"No. It would be a bad thing."
"Quite, you'd probably give your brothers better deals." He patted him on the back. "Where is Rupert?"
"No clue. Ethan and he blipped out together," Dawn said.
Wesley moaned. "Was there a fight?"
"No. Willow scried. I scried with her," Dawn said. "He went to see Ethan looking a bit upset or depressed. Ethan sneered until Giles said something. They were standing there looking at each other and then there was a magical flash that took them off the plane. She can't find them."
"Oh, dear god," he muttered, shaking his head. "Who's in charge?" Xander wiggled his fingers. Dawn pointed at Xander. He gave the boy an odd look. "You?"
He nodded with a slight smirk, bending back over the map. "Yup. Dad's been doing training stuff with Dean and Sam. Tony came up to unkink the paperwork system Giles started to build. As long as we keep the devil's gate from opening, we can survive until tax time and through the probates of the old council's stuff."
Wesley shuddered. "I'm sorry, Xander."
Xander grinned at him. "I have an assistant now. I can do more than paperwork and grocery shopping."
Wesley smiled. "It's good it's not getting to your soul, only your mind." He went back over the map. "Are you sure about starting out there?"
"It'll be the heaviest to move if the books are intact. Plus there's a smaller chance of any weapons out there being unstable." Wesley hummed and pointed at a section that was cut off. "If I have to, I'll dig." Wesley nodded. He rolled up the map, looking at Dawn. "Let's hit the rooming house?"
"I already checked us in by phone. Told her we'd be there in about an hour." Xander nodded at that. She looked at Wesley. "Are you coming too?"
"I am. That way we can help Xander. Fred, Gunn, and myself will be there with you."
"That works. No one can say he left me alone all day." Xander grinned at that. "What're we doing when we get to the Dakotas?"
"We'll pop in, see if they need any help. If so, you can stay in the car."
"Fine." She got in and they headed back together to the rooming house. It was a nice enough place. Very quaint and had a lot of lace and frills. It made Gunn and Xander have mental fits over the perfume wafting around the house, but they could put up with it for a week.
Xander just hoped he was wrong about the contents of the tunnels. Sunnydale's demons had been very paranoid and liked to stockpile in case the end of the world came sometime soon.
The last morning there, Xander pulled up and parked near the hellmouth. He got out and stretched, then got his gear from the trunk. Light sticks, map, tape for his hands, rope in case he needed it. Always empty bag he got from Willow last night because she was tired of moving stuff for him. Food and water. Check. He closed the car up and turned on the alarm then turned to look at his target of the day.
Something came flying out of the ground. The center of the pucker didn't shift or anything but a small, black object came flying out. He frowned until it rang with the theme from Casper the Friendly Ghost. "Anya," he sighed, walking over to pick up his cellphone. He slung off the slime and opened the leather case, taking out the phone. It had a few dots of slime, a slightly melted spot along one edge, but it looked fine. He turned it off and put it into his pocket, looking at the new thing that was wiggling his way out of the puckered, undisturbed ground. "What're you?" he demanded.
"I am the Archangel Dorian. I am here to herald the gateway opening and the worlds spilling out."
Xander yawned, shaking his head. "We stopped that," he said bluntly. "A few times."
The angel unfurled his black wings. "Really?" He looked. "Well, it does look like someone did something here."
"Yeah, when we went in to battle the First Evil. Closing this one for good meant that it sucked in the town."
The supposed angel scowled at him. "When did this happen?"
"Um, few months back, early spring. Why? Which time were you heralding? I mean, there was two when I was in high school, it could have opened it during the ascension at graduation, three others since then, and Glorificus tried really hard too. So which one were you heralding? Or did you mean the devil's gate my father's dealing with?"
The supposed angel slumped. "I've been busy heralding other things. Important births and the like. They told me to come here to herald the worlds merging."
"That must've been Glory's stuff. She was trying to pull her world onto ours. Bit different than sucking the world into the hell dimensions." The angel scowled at the pucker again. "But hey, since you're here, got any idea about watching this hellmouth, the devil's gate in South Dakota, or the one in Cleveland since it's the current active one? I need to know if we need weapons in South Dakota."
The angel considered it. "I suppose it's not against the rules. People often reach for weapons when I appear," he decided, wrapping his wings around him to test the air. "Hmm. Cleveland's young but people are trying to get it to open wider again. The girls there... Why are there so many slayers?"
"A witch had to activate more to seal in the First Evil."
"Oh. Yes, I heard that took seven of them."
"Now there's closer to a hundred," he admitted.
"And I'm kinda responsible for their upkeep and training."
"Are you rich, son?"
Xander grinned. "No but I'm hoping some day some unkind vengeance demon gifts me with a few mil to get me out of hunting."
The angel smirked. "It probably won't work that way."
"Hell. Not like I didn't help one get her powers back when we accidentally turned her human."
He frowned. "Who are you?" he asked quietly, staring. There was no way this mortal was normal. He wasn't scared or in awe of him. He talked of the world ending being stopped. He talked about redeeming a vengeance demon like he had personally done it. Was he one of the higher minions maybe?
He grinned. "Xander Harris, formerly of Sunnydale, where we are. I help the slayer Buffy. Helped Kendra a few times, helped Faith. Help all the new ones because they need it."
The angel pulled out a book and looked him up, then stared at him. "Bloody hell, man. What are you doing here?"
"Checking the tunnels. You'd be surprised how many vamps and weapons we found. I don't want to have to come back here to stop them from doing something nuclear. Which is on it's way to my other father."
"Why aren't you a Marine? You were scheduled to be."
"They shut down the program after I was born." It figured the Powers had something to do with the program that had made him.
"Oh. You didn't join later?" Xander lifted the eyepatch, making him shudder. "No, I can see that would keep you out of it." He switched from the 'fated' section to the 'reality' section to read up on this new human. It was one of the longest entries he'd seen. He finally looked at him. "Well, that does explain a lot." He put the book back in his pocket. "How many bullets does the colt have left?"
"The colt is the key but not the only weapon that can kill demons." He opened his jacket and pulled out a sword, tossing it over. "That may be more handy since there's hundreds massing."
"That's cool." He smiled, sticking it into the car then turning to look at him again. "Thank you, Angel Dorian."
The angel smiled. "It's not a problem, lad. Many of us don't want the final battle right now anyway. Be rather messy on the wings." He fluffed his out. "Since I don't have to herald an apocalypse, I get the day off."
"Cool," Xander said with a grin. "I've got to go down to finish cleaning out the tunnels." The demon pretending to be an angel waved a hand and put things into his car. "Wow. Way more powerful than Willow." He walked closer. "Have a good day off and watch out for the Power's Champion in LA. He's a bit grumpy this week."
"I can do that. Thank you, lad." He patted him on the head. "May the dark hide your sins from everyone but you. You'll come to our side some year."
"Dad would be really pissed but he did make that demonic deal to save Dean," he said thoughtfully. "Then again, we pulled him out of hell when Willow called the former hunters to help us...." He considered it. "Well, if I do, I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun." The demon smirked and disappeared back into the ground. "Have a good trip." He waved, then walked back to the car so he could go back to the rooming house and pick up Dawn. That and a quick stop with a contact on their way to Nevada and it was all good for the week. Dawn kept looking at the sword then at him. "An archangel demon here to herald the gateway opening for Glory. He was a bit behind the times but very nice when I pointed out his error. He told me someone wants me to turn sides, that someone wants to open Cleveland's hole a bit wider, and the colt isn't the only key to the lock but it's also a key element."
"Cool," she decided. "Can we get a candy bar on the way to South Dakota?"
"Sure," he decided happily, turning on the radio. "We have to get gas soon anyway." She beamed and she turned up a song she liked, singing along while they traveled. He decided they were like Sam and Dean, the happy edition with the modern car that had air conditioning. John would be so proud of them for mimicking the family's way.
Xander pulled up to the cemetery where his family was, looking at Dawn. "Stay."
"If you need magic, I'm coming in."
"That's fine. If we need magic, come in." He got out, getting something from the trunk and the sword. Then he walked over to where the others were fighting with the demon. He saw the colt in the lock and winced, turning it to close the opening gate. Dawn came jogging. "We don't need it yet!"
"Yes you do! It's unstable." She concentrated, going over the spell Wesley had gotten for her. She spat it, raising her hands over her head. The light formed, it hit the gate, the gate shimmied. Souls screamed, making John grab his ears and scream back. "Other way, Xander." He shifted it and she shook so he finished closing it. Then he took the colt. He shot the demon with it. Dawn concentrated, closing it for good. She panted, looking at Xander. "I don't like magic that much."
"I can understand that." He tossed her the gun then his gun. She nodded she'd guard it. He walked over to help John up. "You wouldn't believe what I found in town."
John gave him an odd look, looking back at Dawn. "Shouldn't you be somewhere safe?"
"Probably. It went unstable and was going to open anyway."
"Okay." He nodded. "That's a useful skill."
"Wes got me the spell."
"Oh." He looked at his sons, smiling because Xander was helping them up. "You boys okay?"
"We're good," Sam said, rubbing his shoulder.
"No we're not," Dawn said. "There's hundreds of demons around the barrier."
Dean looked then groaned. "It's a mile wide, Dawn."
Xander coughed, pulling up the case he had brought out. He opened it and looked at it. Then he tossed Sam the sword. "I know you said you took a sword form of martial arts at Stanford. That's specially blessed to kill demons preying on people." Sam smirked. Xander tossed Dean something, making Dawn gasp. "Buffy said that's a loaner when I asked her for it last night." Dean waved the scythe. "That's *the* scythe, Dean."
He looked at it then at Xander. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Go for it." They broke up and Xander looked at John, tossing him something. "Present from Sunnydale, Dad. Melt the sucker so it can't open again."
John looked at the acid shot shell, loading it into his rifle. Dawn moved. He fired at the stone holding the gateway, watching as it dissolved. That broke the physical gate's steadiness, closing it for good. "Thanks, son. That's a handy bit of timing."
Xander looked at him. "Figures it jumped. I'm just kinda happy it's not in me." He grinned. Then he pulled something out and threw it on John while John tried to fire the shotgun at him.
"Hey!" Dawn shouted, freezing John. "Not nice, Grandpa. Even if you are possessed. Dumbass medium skills, knew that came from that side too," she muttered. Xander came over to do the exorcism chant they kept doing to him. John fought against the demon. Dawn leant her skills. After all, that was magic and she was more skilled than Xander. "Don't let it jump into you."
"I'm not, miss paranoid." He splashed him again, running out of holy water. "It never takes this much for me."
"John's more stubborn," a male voice said.
"Hi, Bobby. We killed it, kinda, and it jumped into Grandpa."
Bobby snorted, coming over to do the exorcism ritual. "Mediums should not do it, boy. They end up getting possessed."
"What else did I have to do this week?" he asked dryly. He looked at Dawn, who nodded. He grabbed a small bag and went to help the guys. They were probably overwhelmed.
"He's a hell of a son, John Winchester. But you're still a stubborn bastard."
Dawn leaned down next to his ear. "Get out of my grandfather or you can't try for Xander's kids," she whispered. "Wouldn't a hellmouth bred baby having one be better than even Uncle Sammy is? Xander was born, bred, and grew up there. He's got his own skills and visions, plus some screwed up magic. Plus a taste for bad and evil girls so you might manage to get him where you can't even tempt Uncle Sammy. And hey, some weird scientist wanted to combine my powers with his." The demon shuddered and John grunted. "Get out of there before I have to get mean. I'll miss Grandpa but I can bring him back since the First Evil is chained up thanks to my sister Buffy." The demon turned to look at her. "Hi. Get out of my grandfather." Part of it flew out with the magic she put behind the command. Bobby went back to the exorcism. She did the capturing spell, putting it into her water bottle. They could deal with it later. Bobby gave her an odd look. "What? It seals."
Bobby grunted in displeasure but got back to work. The last of the demon floated out of John's mouth. "You better?"
"The demon's scared of that child."
"I'm scared of your granddaughter," he said dryly, helping him sit up. "Dawn, can I have that?"
She looked at it then at him. "Nope. Not until the boys get back here." He glared. John glared. She glared back, tapping a foot. "We don't want any accidents, boys. Really." She heard a yell of pain. "DO NOT MAKE ME CHANNEL MY SISTER AND COME OUT THERE!" she bellowed. "I WILL DESTROY THIS GODDESS FUCKED PLANE OF EXISTENCE IF YOU MAKE ME AND I'LL CACKLE THE WHOLE DAMN TIME; EVEN WORSE THAN ROSENBURG DID!" Suddenly it got quieter. She sighed in pleasure. "Better," she said happily.
"Don't make me shoot you, Dawn."
She beamed at him. "It's too much sugar."
She heard an explosion and demons screaming. Then more screaming and running noises. She handed John the bottle and pounced one, knocking it into a headstone. "Mom didn't want me to hunt. Why are you making me disappoint my mother?" She stood up, dusting herself off. "Eww, you got me all nasty." She kicked it in the head, knocking it out. "Stupid." She took the bottle back and tightened the cap again. "Just in case," she said sweetly. Dean came jogging over to kill that demon. "We good?"
"Nearly," he said. Sam came from his quadrant. Xander let off another explosion then came strolling back smoking around the arms and chest. "What did you do, dude?"
"Blessed dry ice and liquid nitrogen grenades," he said with a bright, happy grin. "Since hell's so hot, they can have some cooling off. Maybe it'll make it snow."
Dawn cackled. "That's so mean, Xander."
"Well, yeah," he said with a sheepish grin. "Came to me after the fifth Milky Way."
"No more chocolate, son," John ordered. Bobby helped him up. "Dawn captured it."
Dean looked at the scythe then at the bottle. "Huh." Dawn held the bottle up for him. He sliced into it, making the demon scream. Sam sliced the pieces of clouds that came out. Xander tossed up another of the cold grenades. It went off with a muted flash and louder explosion. The demon shrieked in misery and a small pair of ice skates fell to the ground. Dean looked at them then at his little brother. Sam did the same. "Way too much chocolate, Xander."
"They need ice skates for when it freezes. Faith insists it will each time I go on patrol with her."
"Son, you're a bit strange. Don't make me knock you out," John said.
"Fine," he muttered, looking down.
Willow appeared. "I felt major magic, Dawn. What did you do?"
"I closed the devil's gate before it finished opening because even having the key in the lock made it unstable and then I let them melt it with an acid round. Then Dean, Sam, and Xander went to take on the waiting and watching demons who wanted it to open." She grinned. "And I made them quit being so noisy by threatening to turn into you."
Willow glared. "Not cute."
"So? It worked."
Willow huffed. "You shouldn't be here."
"No but we felt the stupid gateway opening on the way past," she said dryly. Willow groaned, heading off again. She waved at the empty spot. "We'll be home in three days!" she called. "We're using the corporate card for rooms since we just saved the world!" She put her arm through Bobby's. "Did you ever find a puppy?"
"Not yet," he admitted, walking her off, looking back at the overprotective Winchesters. "You know she'll be safe."
"Uh-huh," Xander said. "Who's that, Dad?"
"Bobby Singer. A very old hunter and a good friend of the family, Xander."
"Oh, okay. Nearest hotel is where? I deserve a pool," he said at Dean's amused look.
"We usually stay at lesser places," Sam told him.
Xander leaned closer. "I have the corporate card. I deserve a pool tonight."
"You'll need it to wear out the rest of the sugar," John said. "What else did you bring?"
"The stuff I didn't move to the new vault," he said with a beaming, happy grin. "Don't worry about it, dad." He headed off to the car. "Am I giving anyone a ride?"
"Coming," Dean said, shaking his head as he followed. "Sammy, if you're riding with me, c'mon! I need a beer and hopefully the place has a bar I can pick up chicks in."
John watched his sons go, shaking his head. His line had been so promising. Why were his sons so insane? His granddaughter had gotten it so it had to be genetic. His grandfather had been sane, his father had been sane, John was sane, so where was it coming from?
The Winchester part of the clan walked into the school in time to hear screaming and running. Xander sighed, shaking his head. He stopped one of the girls, handing her the scythe. "That goes to Buffy or Faith immediately. Buffy if she's here." She ran off. He went to the office, nodding at his assistant. "It fall in?"
"Not yet. Nearly so." She let him see what she had done. "All that's left are invoice paying and this week's necessary shopping trip."
"On it," John sighed. "Anything to get away from the screaming."
Dean walked up there. "SHUT UP!" he bellowed. They stopped. He stared at the older girls. "Ladies, headache inducing is putting it mildly. We thought there was an attack."
"There was but it's dead and we're complaining about the goo," Buffy said with a grin, bouncing over to hug him. "Are you back? Is Xander back?"
"Xander's paying bills to avoid the shopping. Dad's going shopping." The girls went to beg him for some new clothes. "Get the scythe?" She held it up with a grin. "Thanks. Came in handy."
"Three hundred fucking demons waiting to open that devil's gate and the one who wanted Sammy. Dawn sealed it shut for us, thankfully. We killed ours. Xander, Sammy, and I killed a lot more of the ones who weren't smart enough to run." She grinned. "He had some sort of freezing bomb that he let off. Came complete with tiny ice skates."
She groaned. "That's an Andrew toy." She went to yell at Xander for playing with those. "Xander!"
He looked up. "Hey. The hellmouth spit out my old cellphone. Apparently they didn't like Anya's choice for ringtone." It went off on its own.
John looked back. "Is that the theme to that Casper cartoon?"
Xander nodded. "Anya was fiddling with it the night before and downloaded that one. I guess the Turok Han and the First Evil didn't like Casper the Friendly Ghost's theme." He looked at it then answered it. "Yeah?" He listened, making a note. "Sure thing, Ethan." He made another note. "I'll get Willow on that. You guys coming back? Because I'm going to beat Giles' ass for leaving me in charge, Ethan. Keep it up and I'm going to turn all the girls into arms dealers." He hung up and held up the note. "The cellphone can pick up interdimensional calls now."
"That's freaky," Buffy said, taking the note. "Willow, Ethan needs a few things to end their vacation." She snatched the note, glaring at Dawn. Buffy shrugged at her back. Then she looked at her sister. "Don't even joke about becoming Willow during her bad girl phase."
"They were annoying!" she complained.
"They were," John agreed. "A lot of screaming."
"They were dying, they're allowed to scream," Buffy assured him. She grinned. "Can I add a me too to getting new shirts?"
"Can't you wash them?"
"Demon goo never comes out unless Mom did it," she said with a pout.
"C'mon, I'll teach you that secret, girls." He walked them off, showing them how to do laundry. The girls were pitiful on real world skills.
Xander looked up. "Buffy, we found Andrew. He's coming to help!" he yelled, then slammed his office door and locked it. He got back to paying bills and clearing his desk. He, Dean, and John had plans tonight for some gun petting and cooing over the stuff he had found in Sunnydale. Since no one else wanted it and Willow only wanted that magic library... it was all his. He let out an evil cackle of pleasure.
"I heard that, mister. No more candy bars!" Willow yelled from the other side of his door.
"Andrew's coming tonight." She stomped off again and he cackled more quietly. He finished up and went to find his gun vault. He loved the new babies.
Dean and John found him there later. They moaned at what was spread out before the boy sleeping on top of a heavy artillery case. "I needed to pet this after that fight instead of the easy chick at the bar," Dean said in awe. His father swatted him on general principles for that. "Hey!"
"Shut up, Dean." They walked over to look at what Xander had saved. Some had some slime damage but most were in pristine condition. They found a door and went through it, blinking at what they saw. "Hey, Xander?" he called, waking his son up. "Can we take some of this?"
Xander came in and looked then shrugged. "Why not. I didn't think I rescued that." He took a few of his own. They took some too. They bucket-lined another hundred gold bars before that door was slammed shut, forcing Dean out of it. "Huh. That's cool. As long as it stays." Dawn came bouncing in and did a freezing spell on the bars with a beaming, happy smile. "Why so happy?"
"Because I'm getting a new pair of shoes. Buffy said so."
"Giles is. He's back."
"Yay. Still no money for shoes." She pouted. "We'll see." They went upstairs and the first thing he did was hit Giles in the mouth, knocking him down. "I said I didn't want to be in charge."
Giles gave him a pathetic look. "It was an accident."
"Willow scried," he said quietly, staring at him.
"It was not meant to last that long. Simply a night."
"Uh-huh. The filing system now works, you have an assistant who can do most of the work, and hey, it's all good around here as soon as the probates are done next month. Then the girls can have new shoes," he said more loudly. They cheered. He looked at Giles. "Any other questions?"
"You fixed my system?"
"No. I scrapped your system and let Tony build a new one that works." He hauled him up and to the desk, handcuffing him to it. "Pay me, buy me, research or other issues. Feed the last few scouting reports to the number taped to the fax. The program to pay people works like a checkbook and does it automatically. The shopping card is in the top drawer for groceries and other necessary things. Andrew's showing up tonight to cook since I found him under Sunnydale. We stopped the issue in South Dakota. I got my original cellphone back from hell. Buffy has the scythe, and I'm going to go back to weapon petting time. Need briefed about anything else?"
"How are the girls?"
"Waiting on Buffy and Willow to hit you next since I have sense and didn't let them run wild." He opened the door and walked out. "He's ready for you, Buffy. I showed him where things were." They went back down to the armory and he went back to petting his new babies. And the gold of course. Gold needed love too. Dean and Sam were both petting it. "I think leprechauns used to live here."
"That's why I froze the gold. If it's here at sunrise it's staying," Dawn said. That got a nod and a grin from the guys. "This means we can host the next clan reunion."
"They want to be kept out of demon hunting," John reminded her.
"So maybe we'll go to some tropical place and spa?" she suggested with a grin.
John smirked back. "Spoiled kitten," he teased.
"Well, yeah." She froze a wiggling piece of gold and the door reopened, showing a small woman standing there. "What? You opened it into the new Council armory, woman. This is all Xander's stuff. He only shares with his family and sometimes with the girls."
The Leprechaun pouted. "We need that back."
"You guys shit it out like bees do honey," Xander countered, staring at her.
"Do we know ye, lad?"
"Xander Harris, White Knight of Sunnydale," he said with a grin, extending a hand. "These are my babies and my family."
She gave him an uneasy look. "Ye'll be bad for us."
"I'm only bad to the harmful demons," he assured her.
"Uh-huh. We could be mean and threaten to call someone about all this stuff. We have descendants in various governments."
"Go right ahead," Xander agreed. "They know about slayers now." She moaned. "Besides, having it makes me happy. Means I don't have to buy any when there's a new apocalypse."
The leprechaun sighed. "Ye sure ye won't hand it back? We'll have to be mean."
Xander tossed something at her, making her shriek. "Try it and I get to be mean back, lady. You guys opened the door into my play area. Be glad you have any left." Dawn floated out a few more and froze them too, earning a pout. "Thanks, Dawnie."
"So I can go ivy league and keep some of my college fund for a car?"
"Ye'll not be married?" she said, looking horrified.
"In this day and age, women don't need to get married. I can have kids without a father, or even having a man in the same room thanks to science. Technically I can do it by magic too." She beamed. "Even without it, I can support myself once I'm of age and graduated my schooling, ma'am. Women today are a lot more liberated and able to handle our own affairs."
"Pity. We'll have to be mean." Dawn lit up a magic ball on her hand, making her shriek. "Unholiness!" she shouted, pointing at it for her friends when they came running.
Dawn put out the light. "I'm just a simple witch." She batted her eyes at them. "I'll be nice if you do." They groaned and tried to take back the gold but it wasn't going to move. They huffed off and the door disappeared again. Dean had taped the doorknob so it'd be back later.
"Xander, your other father's on the phone," Buffy called, tossing down his cellphone.
"Thanks." He put it against his ear. "Hi, Dad." He listened to him complain. "You let Fornell bug the office?" He laughed. "Well, if he thinks I'm evil that's all right. No, I'm working on the slayer weapons, Dad. Swords, crossbows, that sort of thing." He picked up something to pet. "I deserve some weapon petting time, Dad. Don't worry, even if they do try to raid, they won't find the basement. It's hidden." He laughed. "Magically, Dad. So, how's Tony? We heard he got grazed."
"Do not get my son killed," John said next to the phone. He switched weapons with his son. Dean was petting a gold bar and a weapon. Sam was petting a gold bar. That was fine. Sammy was the strange one in the family who didn't like weapons. He listened to Xander and Jethro joust verbally then his son hung up. "He'll be here when?"
"The FBI will be here later but it's still hidden." They heard the Feds come in an hour later but they couldn't find them and no one seemed to be able to find the basement door, even Buffy who had used it before. They left and Xander smiled, switching weapons to pet something else. "This is only the small part I'm willing to let the girls borrow. The rest is at home." They stared at him. "Like I'm going to keep living here? They'll pounce me and redo my wardrobe like they did to you guys." He beamed. "I have a very nice little place set up for myself thanks to my own insurance and my parents' insurance." He got back to his cleaning and petting. Buffy finally came down. "The last lurking one leave?"
"They did. How did you do that?"
"I asked Willow. It's too important to risk." He grinned. "Did they want to pet or confiscate?"
"Look for now, confiscate anything too big. Giles had me tell them about the Judge and they're all very sorry. They said we can keep some as long as the vault is better than this is. Why do we have gold?" Dean pointed at the visible doorknob. She went to look and moaned in pleasure. "Is that to a Swiss bank? They say they have piles like that." She spotted a leprechaun. "Giles said you weren't real."
"How would he be knowing?" she demanded, sounding grumpy.
"He's a watcher."
"Humph." She turned her back. "Be gone with ye. Ye've already bothered us enough tonight."
"I'm sorry they bothered you. Sometimes men are just... men." The little woman nodded. "I can smack 'em around if you want."
Xander looked at her. "I'm using it to buy a place off campus. That way the girls get to leave me alone."
Buffy pouted. "You're moving off campus?"
"Yeah. To a nice, small house that reminded Dawn of home."
"Oh. Is our insurance money going toward it?"
"That's fine I guess but when would I get Dawnie time?"
"Anytime you wanted since I'm still going to be here all the time and Xander's still doing most of the admin stuff that'll drive Giles nuts," she said, giving her sister a look. She looked at the leprechaun. "They could be worse. They're all demon hunters. We just took out a lot of higher ones trying to open a devil's gate."
The woman took a book out of her pocket. "What's his name?"
Xander smirked. "The supposed angel Dorian who came out of the hellmouth pucker had one of those. Xander Harris, Sunnydale. Look in the second section, he did."
She flipped back there then gaped. She glared at him. "Ye'll go dark?"
"Over his dead body," John and Sam both said.
Dean looked over. "We'll beat his ass if he tries."
"Why isn't he a Marine?"
"They shut down the program," Dawn said. "Dorian?"
"The one I got the sword from. He came out of the pucker to tell us the hellmouth was going to open. It's his job to announce that."
"You said he came to announce Glory."
"He was way behind then," Buffy said. She looked at her. "He won't go evil. I'll sic all the slayers on him."
The woman looked at her. "That's mean, lass."
She grinned. "No chocolate today."
"Hmm. Ye should fix that. Who owns our building?"
"The Watchers Council."
She shuddered. "Better a mortal than those who suck sores for the puss," she said, cracking Xander and Dawn up, nodding a bit. "Fine, we won't fight ye as long as that one doesn't go dark."
Xander pulled out a bootknife and slit his thumb. "I, Xander Harris, will not go to the dark side unless it is the only way to save the universe and all the slayers." The cut flashed then sealed.
"Good enough if ye's that stupid," she said, closing the door. It bounced open. "What did ye do?" Dean reached over to remove the tape. She snorted in disgust and closed it again.
Xander reached over to remove the doorknob and put it into his pocket then went back to his petting. "Tell Tony I said hi when he gets here, Buffy."
"Sure, Xander. Are you sharing?" Xander tossed her a bar. She squealed all the way to the office. That would provide slayer shopping trips for months.
Xander looked at them. "Want to move to my house?" They all nodded. He looked at Dawn. "Go hit the switches Willow put in for fast packing." She let out a small squeal as she went to do that. Them, all the gold, the guns, and all their stuff disappeared from the Council's headquarters and reappeared in Xander's new place. It was a modestly sized place. Not too huge. Had some lawn. The weapons relocated to the under-basement storage area. The Winchesters followed. Dawn went to hide the gold in Xander's room. Then she put up all their clothes and things. They had their own rooms, well Sam and Dean had to share since they seemed to like it so much but they wouldn't mind. John got a cab back to the school to get their cars with Sam. Dean trusted him with the Impala since he was too busy petting weapons again.
When Giles finally got free of the handcuffs thanks to Faith he stomped off to find the boy, finding the basement empty. Completely clean. It even looked swept. He examined where Buffy said there had been a room of gold, going to debrief her about that. It was a most unusual thing and the realtor hadn't mentioned that. That should've been with the full disclosure that told them there had been two suicides in the old building. He'd find Xander again later to make sure the boy did most of the paperwork he had set up. Really, that clan was most unkind to his nerves. The rest of them as well since Jethro and Tony barged in later on. "They've left," he complained.
"They're probably at the house Xander bought up the street," Tony said. Giles relaxed with a smile. "Unless they're in Kansas. We'll be back later. Does the system work for you, Giles?"
"I'm not sure if I understand it or not yet."
Faith leaned down over the stairwell railing. "That's why there's an assistant, Tweedy. Like during the last reunion when B and I ran it." He gave her a horrified look. "If I can, you can."
"Exactly, which was what Xander wanted," Tony agreed. Faith smirked at him. "Go to bed. Where's Xander?"
"Mini munchkin witch was wandering around patting packing mojo symbols."
"They're at home," Jethro said. They stomped off to go invade over there. Dawn let them in. "Where is it?"
"Did you come to pet the other grandchildren or the leprechaun gold?" she asked.
He looked at her. "The weapons, Dawn."
"The other grandchildren. Xander said if you wanted more, pray for a miracle to any being you chose." She led them to the door to the armory. It was sealed and had a good passcode that needed to be pushed in. On the third try she sighed and pounded on the door. "Guys, it's Grandpa Jethro." John opened the door. "See, the other grandchildren."
"He'd better pray to some dark god if he wants more," Xander quipped. "And not Willow either or I'll end up pregnant instead."
"We'd put you out of our misery, dude," Dean assured him. He sounded like he was high from his position on top of a stack of artillery boxes. "Hey, Gibbs, Tony."
"Dean. Is the gun oil getting to your head?" Tony joked.
"No. Firepower. Damn, dude, this is good. Better'n pot."
"Get off the artillery," Gibbs ordered. He glared at his son. "You can't keep this on US soil. They'll decide you're a threat and arrest you or flag you worse."
"Technically, once you stepped into the basement you're not on US soil. Only the family and slayers can find it. I had Willow do the same spell she did on the other one." Gibbs gaped. He grinned back. "Beyond that, I found them. Not like I bought them. I'd never buy something this expensive. The house was bad enough."
Gibbs swatted him on the head, going to move them and check the artillery against the PDA in Tony's pocket. Anything stolen was going no matter what. The rest, he'd have to ask. Because he knew what came out of the hellmouth now and he didn't want to take it on. Better someone trained than the girls too. They were a bit flaky and squealy for his tastes. Well, and dangerous in Faith's case.
Mac stomped down the stairs. "I had an FBI agent call me to tell me that the clan was hoarding weapons?" he demanded.
"I went to clean out the tunnels in Sunnydale," Xander said with a grin. He held up something. "Pet the grandchild?"
Gibbs looked at him. "Keep it up and I'm asking Rosenburg to help you get knocked up, Xander. Hormones would be better than this."
Xander pouted. "You just want a grandson."
"No, we can wait," John assured him. "These are things the demons were hoarding in Sunnydale, Mac. The boys have been petting it."
"The gold?" Mac asked.
Xander pulled out the doorknob and stuck it in the air, then opened it to show him. "Theirs. As long as it stays until the morning, it's ours."
Mac moaned. "Why do you draw me into this stuff, Xander?"
"Because we love the family," Xander said with a grin. "I'm sure the Marines would've wanted us to share." All three marine fathers glared at him so he grinned back. "Some things at least. Teamwork and all that. Hoo-yah!"
Dean cackled. "You're so bad, Xander. Now I see why the bad things thought you might turn evil."
"I'd spank first," all three fathers said together. They groaned and got back to work sorting out the stuff that Xander wasn't going to be allowed to keep. Once they were gone, Xander broke into the secondary access hatch for him and Dean to go play with more stuff he was hiding. Tony had seen the plans so he joined them and confiscated more stuff for the fathers. Oldest sons had to do those sort of things now and then. Even if Dean did pout about him being mean.
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