Horatio walked into the research center three days later, clearing his throat to get Sam's attention. "I wanted to know if you could find out what he was supposedly trying to do magically."
"I need to know how they were killed, about when in case it corresponds to a certain calendar, and if anything specific was done, like marking, oiling, that stuff."
"I have that," he said, handing it over. He sat down across from him. "I'm very worried that we'll find more spots."
Sam looked at the graphic pictures of what they had, getting up to get a few books to compare it to. He found what he wanted, going over the ritual. "Not quite it. It deviates." He went looking online for it. That had it. He pushed his laptop over so he could see it.
Horatio read over the reason behind the rite, then looked at him. "Can he do that?"
"Probably not since it didn't fully work. I have no idea why he was doing blood magic for protection rites. It's an odd way of going about it and clearly not that reasonable in this case."
"Anyone who can kill over fifty people isn't usually reasonable, Sam."
"Good point." He smiled some. "I can look and see if there's any lingering things going on. Make sure there's no spirits. Dawn's going to look over the houses this weekend to make sure we can move in next week. If I find that there's any hint of something else going on beyond this, I will let you know, Lieutenant."
"Thank you, Sam." He stood up, taking the folder back. "By the way, tell Xander that the ones in New York did become a problem but Stella found it and dealt with it in usual NYPD fashion. They're not pleased but in custody."
"I can do that." Horatio nodded, slipping into his sunglasses again before leaving the building. He emailed that up to Xander since he was at his desk. Then he got back to researching that rite. Something had seemed screwy about it. Black, blood magic didn't usually lead to protections.
Xander walked up to where Horatio was working, coughing and holding out something. "His contact list," he said at the stare he got. "All his buddies that he had on his email address book and his physical one he tried to hide. I figure since one's the dealer you guys busted last night...."
Horatio took it with a smirk, looking it over. "We really should find where he's hiding the rest of his weapons. Three of these are weapons dealers."
Xander looked, then pointed. "That one would've gotten him the archaic weapons. That's who the Council buys the multi-tension, multi-shot crossbows from. This one's into heavier weapons the last I heard and this one's the guy my contact in LA gave me." He stepped back. "He does gun and only guns. Rifles, shotguns, handguns."
"That's very interesting. Are you turning them over?"
"I can't help it if you're going to bust them on something you already have. I'm not asking for special privileges. If I need to buy for *our* armory, I go back to LA."
"That's good to know. I haven't seen yours yet."
"Nor will you be. If I die, Dean handles it, Lieutenant." That got a single nod. "Otherwise, half of those are girls. Since Beth told me he was getting monthly 'scrips for Viagra that he got delivered to the office, maybe strippers, maybe pros. Not real sure. If any are pretty, let me know?" He grinned. "The girls are still trying to set me up with Dean."
Horatio smothered a smile. "Your girls are very stubborn."
"Yes they are but you haven't seen Dean's daughter. She's worse." Horatio did laugh at that. "Seriously. Though, mine are smart enough to back up their trouble with facts. Called the Namibian embassy to get facts on how to get us married by tribal customs."
"Your oldest is nearly eight, right?" Horatio asked. Xander smirked and nodded. "You've made them very smart."
"Thank you but I think they went past smart all the way to smart ass." Horatio nodded he was probably right. He grinned back. "Anyway, the last sheet is his hidden bank account information and the information on what he stole from us. Since we could account for that much in the first vault..... Maybe that hidden vault out by his working area in the Everglades has something that he was dealing."
"I'll definitely look into it. Thank you, Xander." He looked around then at him. "The markings on this one?"
Xander looked then at him. "Wanna-be black mage. Andrew's brother tried it a few times but if you've got power to back up the magic summoning he was doing you'd have been picking up demon dog refuse with parts instead of a whole body."
"So they're delusional and think they can use this body as a sacrifice to call something?" Horatio guessed.
"And they were probably alive when he did it," Xander agreed. "If I had to guess, the person got frustrated and killed them for being unworthy since nothing happened. I'd say seriously delusional. Unfortunately I don't know all of your occult bookstores to find out where they got it from. Sam would know which online sites they might've hit. Though... I'm going to say a teenage guy did it."
"Why would you say that?" Horatio asked.
"First, she's not too heavy for a lighter guy to do it, but she's clearly fashionable by her clothes. She's got larger breasts, which guys would drool over. She clearly didn't put on that outfit herself since the pushup bra is put on wrong. Living surrounded by girls means I know this stuff. She reminds me of my ex, Cordelia. She was the head cheerleader and all that. Kinda shallow when she wanted to be." Horatio nodded. "Most college aged guys and lesbians wouldn't go for her. Someone who'd use her like a sugar daddy would wouldn't be involved in failed black magic. By that age they know whether or not they have any gifts in that area. They're more secure and would've killed her in a less messy way since it looks like multiple stab wounds, which would lead me back to anger at her being unworthy. I'd also say teenage guy because even the slutty girls don't wear shoes like that," he said with a point. "Those are stripper shoes. Ones that don't fit her so he probably bought them for her. Maybe the whole outfit since it's tacky and slutty."
"They are," Horatio said, looking at her from that point of view.
"Plus it's usually teens that play around with magic to see if they have any skills. Usually they're looking for something to get them the girl that they want, attention, or something like that. Those who're seriously interested start with regular Wicca or Druid studies and then move on. Those who know that they have power and families run that way would've wiped her memory and let her loose somehow. Maybe to embarrass her, maybe not."
"We have seen one girl that claimed she didn't know how she got into the outfit we found her in, that she didn't own it and hadn't been anywhere near that neighborhood. We were thinking she was drugged but it was too late to tell the most common sources."
"It could've been but the traces would be long gone by then. Unless it happened again or he put in the equivalent of a post-hypnotic suggestion that she go out like that now and then."
"No, not that she's said. It was only last week."
Xander smirked. "Who did she turn down to go to the prom?" Horatio gave him an odd look. "It's time for girls to be asked. Some girls are brutal when they turn you down. If she's in that age range, I'm betting she disappointed the guy. Or some girl thought she stole hers."
"I'll definitely inquire along those lines." He looked at the body. "You may be right. Would they need anything specific for that ritual?"
"Red crayon sorta thing to draw on her with. Could've used a lip pencil. Could've used a nail polish pen. From here I can't see how precise their drawing was but that could've been a factor if he did have power but botched it." Horatio shuddered. "Be thankful you're not cleaning up the aftermath of the meal, Lieutenant. It sucks worse." He looked at the body. "Thinking about it, check her school. Someone there will definitely know who's been showing an interest in magic." He looked at him again. "Schools are great gossip factories."
"I'll do that later on. Thank you for your help and this new information."
"Welcome. The destruction crew we hired will be doing the house next week. We'll call if we find more bodies he hid."
"Wonderful." Xander grinned then left him alone to work. He walked over, putting the information in his inner jacket pocket. "Mr. Harris was dropping off some information on the former head person's contacts." Eric grimaced. He didn't really like Xander all that much. "He pointed out that the probable doer in this case is probably a teenage male and probably someone she turned down or who wanted her but knew he couldn't have her."
"So he resorted to wanna-be black magic and stabbing?"
"He identified some of the marks. They would've gotten her eaten if they had worked, Eric. He said the stabbing was probably in frustration for it not working."
"Of course it didn't work. Magic's not real," he pointed out.
Horatio looked at him. "You'd have to take that up with him. Not me, Eric."
"Whatever." He went back to gathering information from around the body. Someone was sick and needed to be put down. That was his opinion and he was sticking to it.
Xander looked at the hummer that was pulling into the grounds, waving at it. Then he looked at the house. Dawn was concentrating. "I don't want you to wear yourself out."
"Then let me suck at your energy, Xander." He shrugged, letting her have his hand. He waved Eric back. "Make sure the kids are out of the way." Dean and Sam both nodded that they had the kids corralled inside a building. She let out a deep breath and muttered something, raising a hand. The former main building fell in as the walls collapsed. She looked out. "Not bad."
"Very. Feel less stressed?" he teased.
"Much." She gave him a hug then looked at Eric. "Problems the Council can help you guys with?"
"Explosives?" he guessed. He hadn't heard any explosions but you never knew with some plastique.
"No, magic." She smiled. "I just learned that spell last week. It saves a lot on the destruction crew's costs." She bounced off to play with the kids.
Xander grinned. "The crew that'll be cleaning it up will be starting Monday. They know to call you guys if they find hints of more bodies or parts."
"Thanks. Did he have any files that might've led to some ID's?"
Xander shook his head. "I looked over all the stuff he hid in our file archive. Nothing like a victim list. That contact list I gave Horatio was as close as we found." He held his head as a vision started.
"Xander?" Dean asked. He knew that sudden headache look. "Sammy, help me sit him down."
"Guys, it's cool. He has them," Dawn told him. "He doesn't let anyone fuss." They sat him down anyway. She handed down her bottle of water when he came back. "Good, bad? Apocalypse?"
"Bad." He blinked up at Eric, wiping the tears off. "He has three more spots. The files you want are in his hidden play area. We got told about his minor working areas, not his major one. Find me a map and mark their spots on it." Eric nodded, going to do that. He looked at Sam, smiling some. "Pentacle. Not protection for anyone but him. Spilling blood to raise him to the level of power so he could fight the First if she showed up."
"How many more bodies?" Dean asked.
"There's at least seventy more I think. Most in his major working area. He was a meticulous note keeper it seemed." He took the map with the new pen marks. Sam handed him a pencil and a piece of paper to make straight lines with. Xander traced it out with the three known points. Then he drew the circle around it. "That was the radius of the power. It tied him to here but he thought it'd give him enough power in case he had to take out the reason that sank all his buddies in England." He handed it back. "Each of those points has another one. His major working area is here," he said with a point. "He chose to come south because he identified with the ideals of the south used in magical working." He stood up with a groan. "There's at least seventy more bodies. I'm sorry."
"How do you know this?"
Xander shrugged. "Ever since the insane preacher popped my eye, I've gotten visions." Eric gave him a disbelieving look. "It's real. It's saved more than one life, including theirs." He pointed at the kids trying to get past Dawn. "I'm fine, girls. Just a minor thing."
"Bullsnot," Paka said, knocking Dawn down so she could run out and hug him. "Visions hurt, Daddy. We know that." She gave his waist a squeeze. "Are you okay? Do you need to lay down? I know they can give you a headache."
"I'm good, sweetheart. Thank you." He grinned and she beamed back. "Now go apologize to Dawn for knocking her down."
"Yes, Daddy." She ran back to hug her auntie. "Sorry. I was worried. I shouldn't have knocked you down."
"It's all right. I did it a few times when he started to have them." She gave her a hug. "Go back inside where it's safe. Help Missy and Bobby decorate their rooms so their dads know what to buy them." They ran back upstairs to play and talk about that. She dusted herself off. "We did a good job turning your girls into girly girls," she said with a grin for her buddy and big brother.
"You did. That's why you get to take them *all* shopping." He smirked at her groan. "No shopping aunties down here except you."
"Yay. We'll go shopping the next time I have a weekend off."
"We have to pick up uniforms later."
"Oooh. But I guess I can help with that." She looked at Eric. He was still looking unhappy. "We're the Watchers Council, what did you expect other than strange crap?"
He sighed, going to tell that to Horatio. They'd have to check it, just in case he was right but he didn't want to believe in that stuff.
Xander looked up at the window, waving Everett down. He needed a hug by the look on his face. "We confused him with the vision and the magic."
"I guess it happens." He looked up at him. "Do they know?"
"Dean, Sam, and Dawn do," he said. "No one else."
"You're welcome." He gave him a squeeze. "Go play for now." He nodded, heading up there. "So," he said, looking at the guys. "Furniture so we don't have to move out of the emergency apartments, uniforms, food. Am I forgetting anything on our task list today?"
"Moving in," Dean said. "That shouldn't take us too long as long as we can get furniture today."
"We should, it's before noon," Dawn said. "So let's go there first since the kids won't start school for another week." They nodded. "By the way, I can hear the word purple being argued over up there."
Dean moaned. "My poor daughter is being warped."
"Bri was the one complaining about the purple," she told him. "Missy's clearly doing the warping this time, Dean." She smiled at Sam. "Want them to pick out furniture and us pick out sheets, towels, that stuff?"
"We can do it all at the same place," he told her. "That way we only have to make one trip."
"Good point. Xander?"
He looked at her. "I heard."
"Keys. You're fuzzy headed after visions." He sighed, handing them over. "Thank you. Shopping!" she bellowed. The kids ran out, running for their respective booster seats. She made sure all theirs were buckled up then slid in to drive while Xander got into the passenger's seat. "The list goes furniture so we have something to sleep on, food, coming back here to put things up, then uniforms if they're open. If not we'll go later this week." The kids all nodded. "You guys can argue over cute things while we do furniture." She backed the van out of the driveway to the turn-around, heading off to downtown Miami. Surely there was a decent, lower priced furniture store somewhere around here.
Bri ran for the pet store when they got out to get groceries. "Daddy!" she squealed, bouncing up and down.
"No," he called. "If you want to eat this week, get back here."
"They have puppies!" she told him. "Cute puppies!"
He looked at her. "No. Come on." She pouted. He stared. She trudged over. "We'll talk about a pet later on. Not when we've just moved in." He got the kids arranged how he wanted them. "Fruits, veggies, meats, milk, cheese, bread, eggs, frozen stuff." They all nodded that they'd remember it for him. He walked them inside, taking them that way. They kept him out of the twinkie and chip aisle and he kept them out of the ice cream. It worked well that way.
"Chicken wings!" Everett called with a point. "All natural, free range ones, Daddy."
Xander patted him on the head. "Expensive."
"You're not usually like Uncle Dean," he said with a scowl. "It's better for you. They said so."
Xander sighed, looking at them. "There's only sixteen in the package, Everett. You can eat that many by yourself. It makes more sense to buy the big bag."
"But you don't know what the chickens had. They could have that coughing, flu thingy they talk about on tv." A nearby mother laughed so he scowled. "They could!"
Xander looked at him. "How about this. There's some local chicken that's sold here. It's halfway in-between McDonald's chicken and the expensive yuppie food. Would that work?" They all cheered at that so he got some of those in wings. It was slightly more expensive but if he didn't, Everett and therefore Bri wouldn't eat. She'd stick up for his food boycott again. "Yogurt?"
"Not on the list," Bri said. "We don't like it, Daddy."
"It goes in that sauce you like on goat," he said patiently. She sighed. He got some and some goat. They had that there. Long live yuppie food marts! They finished up, getting a smile from the cashier. "Yes, all mine."
"Their mother taking the day off?"
"No, we want him to marry Uncle Dean," Amanda said.
"Am," Xander complained. The cashier just laughed, smiling and patting her on the head. "Thanks." He handed over his coupons and didn't quite wince at the total. His kids were expensive pets to keep sometimes. He took the groceries out to the van, letting the kids get themselves in. "Bri, I see you sneaking off. Grounded and in the corner for an hour tonight, young lady. That's dangerous. Get your butt back in the van." She slunk back, making him stare at the pouting slayer. "No, Halla. In the van. Grounded too." She stomped that way, pouting the whole time. "You know better than to walk off. Tough." He made sure they were all buckled in then locked them in so he could load the groceries into the back. He put the cart back and got in to drive, looking at them. "Do it again, watch me spank. You don't know what could happen." They all nodded. "We've had the talk about strangers and bad people, guys." He backed out, heading back to the house. He handed both of those to Dawn. "An hour in the corner. They tried to wander off at the store."
"Guys, that's dangerous," she complained, taking them up to sit them in the corner. She came back down. "Beds are here but not the second load."
"It happens." He handed the kids the lighter stuff to carry for him, letting him and Dawn get the rest. Same came bouncing up a few minutes later. "Hey."
"Hey." He looked at what they were unpacking. "Goat?"
Xander nodded. "I make an excellent goat dish." He smiled. "The kids all love it and so did Dean when I made it last week." Sam beamed at that. "He thought it was lamb." He put that into the freezer. "I'll do that next weekend since it has to marinade." He put the chicken wings into the fridge. "Everett begged." Dawn smiled. "Okay, did I forget anything?"
"Nope," she assured him. Someone knocked. Caleb went running. "If it's the furniture guys, let them in. No one else but family."
"It's the furniture guys," he called a minute later. "I asked first." He came running back to them to get a hug. "I asked and asked for ID."
"Good boy," Xander praised, getting a grin and him running off to find his toys. "Did we get the apartment cleared up?"
"Not yet, I've been waiting on furniture for you."
"Let me do that while you arrange this?"
She snorted. "Packing takes me less time than it does you, Xander. Even the books." She waved at the furniture guys. "Hey, guys."
"We have stuff for the other family out here, and a second truck waiting for your stuff," he told her.
"I'm here for that," Sam told him, taking him over there. He had to frown at a few things. Somehow Missy had snuck in a furry lamp? And Bobby had snuck in two beanbag chairs? Interesting choices their kids made. Dean got back with their stuff and groceries, taking the time to shrug at his daughter's room. If she wanted a purple fuzzy lamp and it was on sale, so be it. This time. "Bri and Halla are in corners."
"What did they do?"
"Didn't hear that part. Probably went to look at something." That got a nod. "Dawn said she'd pack their stuff."
"That packing spell is really handy," Dean agreed. "Any other good news?"
"So he can sit and read in them. Or so he said."
"Ah." Sam nodded. "He's using logic at least."
"He was," Dean agreed. "Any other surprises?"
"Did anything in Xander's background say that he had visions?"
"Something or someone called him The One Who Sees."
"So we weren't sure?"
"Nope. Apparently his are less intense than some of mine were. I'd still be on the ground with the migraine."
"True." He gave his brother a pat on the arm. "I got beers for later."
"That'll work." They went to put up their kids' clothes. He could hear Missy being fussy with how things were hung up but that was her being a girl Sam guessed. Bobby wasn't that picky as long as they weren't too smelly and dirty. Sometimes Sam didn't understand girls at all.
Xander tapped before walking in. "It's me," he called. He came up the stairs, handing over keys and a folded note. "We're changing the gate lock in a minute and the code. That's the new ones." That got a grin from Dean. Missy was still huffing. "Nap time?"
"Possibly. Your head okay?"
"Fine. I had to learn to do without anything to help ease it. Tylenol sure doesn't work on them." He grinned. "Missy, why are you fussing?"
"They're not in color wheel order," she called. "Can Bri help?"
"Bri's grounded for the rest of the day because she tried to sneak off." Dean winced. "A pet store had puppies."
"I've spanked for wandering off in the past," he admitted. "Right into the road to pet a stray dog."
"Oh, yeah, been there," Xander agreed, nodding some. "Adanne is the worst about it usually." He looked around. "Color wheel is rainbow order, Dean. It'll make her quit fussing."
"I told her to arrange things to her heart's content since I wasn't doing it right. Is she the bad influence on Bri or is Bri the bad influence?"
"I think it's the shopping aunties' fault." Dean burst out laughing. "Clearly it had to be. They're the ones who taught my girls about nail polish, the Gap, Victoria's Secret. Which made for an interesting conversation with a three-year-old who wanted a push up bra. They spread it to your girl because Bri's going to make a cult of fashion some year soon." He walked off while Dean cackled. It was good to spread cheer.
Dean walked into his daughter's room, finding her on a chair rearranging the top of her closet. He put her back onto the floor. "It's fine."
"It's fine." He stared her down. "We aren't leaving for a while. At least until the end of the school year. Calm down." She nodded, going to lay on her bed. He gave her a hug. "I remember how hard traveling and hunting was on us when we were your age, Missy. So calm down and talk to me about this stuff instead of breaking out in fussing. Or if you want to have a good cry, go to your Uncle. He's used to emo stuff."
She gave him a better hug. "We can stay for a long time?"
"I'm not sure how long but so far it seems okay." She nodded, smiling at him. "Now, take a nap. You've worn yourself out fussing."
"Have too. Take a nap or lay there and read for a bit." She sighed but nodded, getting her littler books that she could read on her own. Dean walked out, going to find Sam. "Bobby fussing things into place?"
"Yup, but we had a talk about this being for a long time and he calmed down."
"That was why she was fussing too." They each got a beer and went to straighten out their own stuff. They didn't care if it was messy or not but the Missy would try to rearrange things on them if it was too messy.
The kids' new kindergarten teacher smiled as Xander came in, shocked that he was white. "Mr. Harris?" He nodded, shaking her hand. "Your girls had an interesting first day so I thought we should talk."
"Big problems or little ones?"
"Well, one bigger one but a few questions were asked by other parents because they don't want to seem rude and ask the children themselves yet they don't want to embarrass anyone either. Were the older three girls you have from a different relationship than your twins?"
Xander smiled. "No. I was traveling around Africa for nine months and helped their villages out with some attacks. Their mothers gave me custody so I could protect the girls."
"Oh, I see. Peace Corps?"
"No, I was there technically on work matters but I was also there working out some grief issues. I had just lost my last fiancée before that trip."
"I'm sorry. Um, so they're not mixed racially? Some parents are very sensitive and worried that they'd upset the children's parentage by guessing."
"Well Halla's mom was a Peace Corps member that fell in love and stayed over there with her new spouse. We have no idea where the white hair comes from since her mom's a brunette. The other two girls, as far as I know, have black fathers as well as mothers."
"That's wonderful. I can let that be known. Are any...sensitive about those things? I know adoption cases can sometimes be very sensitive about their real families."
"I've had those three since they were all very young. I got Halla at a later age than the other two. You haven't had fun until you've tried to potty train a child in the middle of a desert."
She gave a delicate shudder. "My own was bad enough here where I could bribe him."
"Adanne and Paka like to bite when they're frustrated. They spent a lot of time biting me in those days for fun and a reward." He grinned. "They're a bit strange now and then but all kids are strange at that age."
"Their villages participated in some form of cannibalism?"
"No, they thought blood tasted good. Adanne's village does usually eat its meat fire-baked to rare instead of stewed or anything. Personally I think she taught Paka to bite. Paka was barely weaned when I was given her by her mom."
"Interesting." She made another note. "I'm sure you know we have parent days when parents come in to tell the students about things in their lives. Would you come in to tell the children about some of your travels? They'd probably find it fascinating and we could use it to talk a bit about other cultures and Africa."
He winced. "I'm not sure what I'd be able to tame down to tell them about. I was traveling around looking over students for the group I work with. I helped their villages when they were attacked. Usually by some sort of civil or clan issue that was going to spread into a war. It was a lot of thin rations, dirty days of walking in the dust, and getting to know the girls. I did spend some time in a few villages so I could probably tell them about the daily life stuff but I'm not sure I can tame down some things like hunting down your own food. If parents are sensitive enough to be worried about insulting my girls because they're African, telling them about hunting down gazelles for dinner might send them into a stroke."
"True. We'll see if we can work out something, like about village life?" He nodded at that. "Do you have any pictures?"
"I have a lot of pictures. I'll have to weed out a few where I had obvious injuries but I do have some. We kinda had to hunt a tiger that kept attacking Paka's village."
"Ow. Badly injured? I noticed your eye patch but I wasn't going to ask."
"That happened before I left for Africa, but no. I had a lot of very deep cuts. The thing made it into the hut we were in that night." She gave him a horrified look. "I had a hunting knife on me and I'm actually a fairly decent hunter. Not like goes for deer or gators because I only hunt for food, but I can when necessary."
"That's interesting. There is a group of parents who do hunt."
"I only hunt for food if I go. I'd probably say something to insult those who go for heads on the wall. I learned to respect the lands and what they hold."
"We had noticed the girls seem to be moderately pagan in religious things. Briony muttered 'Goddess protect my eyes from the paisley' at one teacher's outfit before lunch."
"I technically am. Their favorite aunt is too. We don't actually teach them but them calling out to the Goddess for patience and things comes from watching us do it." She smiled and nodded. He grinned back. "If any parents get huffy, you can tell them I adopted African children before it became popular if you want. I'll try to keep my girls from snarking back at them in Swahili. Because they can and will if someone starts to annoy them."
She nodded. "One child got it today when they picked on Briony. You taught the others?"
"Of course. Latin, Ancient Greek, Swahili, English, and I was learning some Russian in Cleveland due to some new research materials we were working with."
"What do you do anyway?"
"I work with a multi-national, research-oriented council. I'm the regional head in case something new comes up in a dig or something."
"Will you be going on any?"
"Not usually though all my girls do know how to camp. I made sure of it in case it became necessary. They're spoiled but not that spoiled."
"I noticed Briony was very fashionably turned out today."
"She was warped by all the shopping aunties up in Cleveland."
"She was well read too."
He smiled. "Thank you. I was running a bookstore when I wasn't teaching self defense and helping up in the Cleveland branch. My kids all know how to read, even the youngest three."
"You have three more?" she asked. He had eight? She could barely handle one.
He nodded. "Their mother died in a car crash and left me her triplets. I was her ex. My only boys and another girl." He pulled out a picture to show her.
"They're adorable." She handed it back. "Did Briony pick out clothes for everyone?"
"She fussed for hours," he admitted dryly. "She's got imperfect hair fussing too."
"She took down her ponytail earlier after lunch to brush it out again. She fussed until all the little strands were back in it. Amanda and Missy rolled their eyes at her fussing."
"Bri's warping Missy into a girly girl too. Her and Bobby's dads work with me. We live on the old head's estate right now in different houses."
"I had heard that." She handed over a letter. "Is Mr. Winchester available? I know I called for him as well about the bigger problem."
"He'll be back after he takes my horde home." He texted him, getting an ETA back. "He said it'll be about five more minutes."
"That's fine. Really, the bigger problems weren't that bad. They were trying to be good and it got a bit frustrating earlier for another child."
"How would it get frustrating for another child?" Dean and Missy walked in. "Made good time."
"Sped up the last few blocks." He sat down with her in his lap. "So, what happened today that we get called in a parent-teacher conference already?"
"As I was telling Mr. Harris, it's not really a *problem* but it is in a few ways. You see, they won't say another child's name."
"Daddy said it's a bad thing to say that word," Missy said firmly. "I'm not going to be grounded for saying that word, Mrs. Perkins."
Dean gave her a look then the teacher. "Someone named their kid a swear word?"
"She claims it's French. She named him Azholee, as she pronounced it."
Xander shook his head. "So she named her kid asshole?" he guessed.
"Yeah, Bri knows she'd get grounded and without cartoons for saying that word."
Dean barely kept from laughing. "I thought parents doing that was an urban legend. Like parents naming their kids after what they were craving during their pregnancy."
"No, she's the second we've had."
"Yuppie scum with delusions of being cool?" Dean guessed. The teacher tried not to laugh. Xander nodded though. He looked at Missy. "You're right, I don't want you saying that word. We'll figure something out so you don't have to." He looked at the teacher. "Any nicknames by chance?"
"No and the mother's highly against them."
"What she doesn't know will save her kid from being picked on later by bullies," Xander said dryly.
"We thought so too but she is quite huffy."
"If you want, you can tell her I gave my kid permission to call her kid Big A or something instead so they don't get in trouble for swearing and then refer her to me so I can bust her bubble about the world caring," Dean offered. He looked at his daughter. "Would that work for you kids? Calling that one Big A or some other name you guys work out with him?"
She nodded. "We talked to him at lunch. He knows that not everyone likes his name. He didn't know why until Bri told him it was a swear word and not French but then he understood. He said he pouted at his mom in the past for it."
"He can change it when he's older," Xander assured her. "Did you guys work that out between yourselves?"
"No. We told him why we wouldn't say his name and he understood after we told him why. Amanda even hugged him. Adanne told a bully to leave him alone on the playground too, Uncle Xander."
"That's very cool of her. Did she get into a fight?"
"No, she glared until he walked off laughing. Then she swore at him in Swahili until he looked very confused. She walked off looking smug after she called him elephant turds." She beamed. "One of the teachers was laughing her butt off about that."
"We do have one teacher that does speak Swahili. She adopted a child from upper Africa a few years back and had to learn to communicate with him," the teacher agreed. "Is that what she called him?"
"Among other things," Missy said dryly. "Paka translated for Bobby and I because they haven't taught us that many words yet."
"I'll talk with her later," Xander told her. He patted her on the head. "Report bullies. The school has a no tolerance policy on bullying."
"Yes, Uncle Xander." She smiled at the teacher then at her father. "Daddy, why don't we drive cars like some of the other kids?"
"Because the Impala's been in the family since my dad got her. She's special and a classic. Some of the modern cars are expensive pieces of trash that aren't fit for recycling. None of them will last as long or as good as she has."
"Okay, I'll tell that to someone who asked earlier." She snuggled in. "She really didn't like the van but Adanne told her 'how else do you carry eight kids' so she shut up."
Miss Perkins nodded. "That was the earlier recess's topic of contention."
"My girls will firmly stick up for themselves and I have taught the girls how to defend themselves in case someone comes up to them," Xander told her. "They know they're not to fight but if someone attacks them physically they know how to get away and go for help."
Dean nodded. "Missy and Bobby do too. We spent their early years doing a lot of traveling."
Missy nodded. "A lot of traveling around the US."
The teacher smiled. "That's good for you though. It means you learn more about people and places. It'll help you in geography classes."
"Most of the time we didn't know where we were," she admitted. "We were too little and not driving."
Mrs. Perkins nodded. "That's fine, Missy." She smiled at the parents. "As long as they don't call him that in front of his mother it should be fine. We did talk to the mother about her child's name being uncomfortable for some other students at the start of the year so she knows some will have a problem. I think that's the most workable solution we've come to yet."
"Sometimes common sense is better than higher sense," Xander said dryly. "We saw one parent this morning who had no sense."
"Yes, we know her. She has three children by her current trophy husband."
Xander shook his head. "Thankfully I don't date women like her."
"Uncle Xander, we still want you to marry Daddy. Even if we like B'letta, she agreed that you should marry Daddy so there's no inter-racial problems some year soon."
He gave her a dirty look. "If your daddy was a girl I might hit on him. Until then, it's probably not going to happen so you guys need to move to another track in your minds."
"Whatever but we're still cheering for it."
Dean poked her. "You have manners."
"Sorry, Daddy." She smiled and snuggled into his chest. "We love you and we think it'd make you happier too." She smiled at the teacher. "Were we good today?"
"You were very good today, Missy. Thank you for that."
"You're welcome. We only turn into hellish children when we're cranky." The teacher laughed. "We can but we apologize later."
"Yes they do," Xander said dryly. "From their corners usually." Missy just grinned sweetly at him. Dean poked her again. "Does the horde have homework tonight?"
"I think the two older girls do. I know the ones in my class don't. They're ahead of where we are at the moment."
"We had them doing workbooks while we moved," Dean told her.
"They're doing very good academically. They're all looking to be very smart children. A bit strong willed but that's normal in some children."
"Our children make water buffalo look easy some days," Xander agreed dryly. "They can out-stubborn many people."
"Especially when we're fighting over the last popsicle," Missy agreed. "I won," she said happily.
"I'll pick up more on the way home," Xander said dryly. The teacher laughed. "Any other concerns?"
"No, they were very good today beyond that one small problem and those questions the other parents and teachers had. We do have a weekly reading program that some parents come in on. Would you like to come to that?"
"I don't read that well out loud," Xander told her. She nodded, looking like she understood. "I'll gladly let them bring in books for it. Dean?"
"I can do that. Sammy would probably love to. He's a big book nerd too."
"Sammy?" she asked.
"My brother. Bobby's dad."
"Oh, him. That would be wonderful." She dug out a calendar. "This is the schedule we have set up for it. We do ask that you bring something that's about their age range."
"I'm reading Pony Club books," Missy told her.
"Those are a bit above the age range of the average child here."
"We have some longer, simpler books. I brought down a good portion of the stock from the old store," Xander assured her, getting a smile back. "We'll have the kids help him pick out something to bring. Like I said, I'd love to help with that but I really do read sucky out loud."
"It happens to the best of us, Mr. Harris." She smiled and shook their hands. "Thank you for giving us such wonderful students to nurture. I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun with them."
"You're welcome," Missy said happily. She slid to the floor and pushed her skirt down. "You have a good afternoon too, Mrs. Perkins."
"Thank you, Missy." She smiled as the little girl walked her uncle and father out. "She's very polite when she wants to be." She went to tell that one teacher about how the children had learned Swahili. It could only help her own son. He didn't like to read yet.
Dean looked at Xander once they were in the Impala. "Yuppie scum," he said dryly.
"Very but yuppie scum schools get them a better chance of doing something beyond hunting if they want to. Plus it can help them with the research stuff later if they do decide to hunt. It'll also teach them how to deal with higher class people and work their way around them without arousing any suspicion." They shared a look. "Plus it's a really good school. I'd hate for my girls to be stupid and me be a grandfather too soon."
"Me too." He started the car, heading back toward the houses. "Popsicle shopping?"
"Apparently we need to." Dean snorted, shaking his head but giving him a fond look. He looked back. "Were you guys good today?"
"Mostly. The one bully who tried us is really dumb. He barely speaks his own language. Much less any other one. He's big and dumb. He'll play football probably." Xander nodded at that. "The other kids were nice enough. A few were kinda snotty but we ignored them back. One was bouncy and hyper so we talked with him and let him play with us. Even after the teacher gave him something that made him sleepy. We read to the other kids when she asked us to read out loud to show how good we did. She didn't like Amanda's pronunciation of some words but otherwise it went okay. Amanda told her it was how she had learned to say it in Cleveland from the stuffy, British guy who ran the Council."
"It probably was. I had to work on her spelling Brit too for a while." He looked at Dean. "Giles was a bad influence. He had the girls calling fries chips and things. He's the reason Amanda can read Latin."
"Yeah, all the girls now can. Ancient Greek too thanks to him and Dawn." Dean shook his head. "Missy, have the kids been teaching you Swahili and other languages?"
"Yup, sure have," she said happily. She said something in Swahili.
Dean glanced back. "That had better not have been swearing, young lady." He turned a corner.
"It was asking for cold, sweet things," Xander told him. "They don't have a native word for popsicle."
Dean snorted. "My girls are learning a lot from yours. Including bad fingernail polish rules."
"Sorry. I didn't do any last night. Dawn did when she got home."
"She helped us do a lot of stuff last night," Missy said happily. "Including how to lotion our feet. She said she saw someone who had a really bad foot infection yesterday. They were dia...diabetic?" Xander nodded. "And they had bad infections."
"That can happen but it's not something you need to worry about happening," Xander told her. "Mine either." She smiled at that. "You can tell them that." She nodded. Dean pulled into the store so he ran in to get them both some popsicles for the kids. They deserved a treat. He came out and they went home. "We're back," Xander called as he walked into his house.
Sam looked over from reading to the kids. "Were they that bad on their first day?"
"Some yuppie bastard parent named their kid asshole. Our kids were firm in not saying it since they knew better," Dean told him. Sam smiled at his son for that. "Adanne did good running off a bully on the schoolyard by swearing at him in Swahili."
"Some of the parents were worried that we'd be insulted because they thought the older three were biracial," Xander added. "We got invited to read to the class. Nothing as high as the girls are reading after hours but around their age sort of books."
"I'd gladly do that," Sam agreed with a smile. "Anything else good?"
"I was invited to talk about our travels in Africa but I told her I wasn't sure I could tame them down any. Parents who would freak out at talking to kids of another race because they didn't want to insult them accidentally did not want their kids to hear about hunting for food or civil wars. I did tell her if we could find some stories that were tame enough I'd gladly tell them about it. I offered you all the books you wanted for the reading program, Sam."
"That's cool." He went back to reading to the kids out of the bigger kid book. "Did we get more popsicles?"
"They're getting cold now," Xander told him. "Missy told us she had won the stubborn contest to get the last one."
"She's got her daddy's pigheadedness," Sam agreed dryly, patting her on the head. "Amanda, what did the bully want?"
"To pick on us for being littler. Pity."
Xander looked at her. "Really?"
"Well..... Kinda?" she guessed.
Adanne nodded. "He wanted to pick on Bri for being pretty and cute today. So I told him what I thought of his ugly, expensive clothes and watch that he couldn't tell the time on anyway, and his manners. He ran off after me telling him what I thought of him, Daddy."
"I'm glad you didn't get into a fight. One of the teachers there does speak Swahili. She adopted overseas too." They nodded at that. "She was the one giggling at what you called him." He stared his daughter down. "They have a no bullying rule, girls, and boys. Tell the teachers instead of getting into a fight. That way we don't have to pay hospital bills." They all sighed but nodded. "Unless you have to protect yourself from an actual attack snark back like Aunt Buffy taught you."
"Yes, Uncle Xander."
"Good. Who has homework?"
"Me," Adanne said, grimacing. "It's easy stuff. I did it during lunch."
"Let me check it over before dinner." She nodded, snuggling back into Bri's side for their story. Sam and Dean crashed, letting Sam finish the story. "Say thank you," Xander ordered.
"Thank you, Uncle Sam," the girls said, piling on to hug him.
"You're welcome." They smiled and ran to do other things.
"Thanks, Sam," Xander said.
"Not a problem. I like reading to the kids." He heaved himself onto the couch. "Amanda asked about foot infections so I told them it was very rare and not a problem they had to worry about."
"Dawn had a diabetic with foot problems yesterday," Dean told him.
"That makes more sense. Someone actually named their kids asshole?"
"She claims it's French," Dean said grimly. "The kids refused to say it so they wouldn't get in trouble. We told Missy to call him Big A or something."
"That'll be better," Sam agreed. "Plus a nickname to help later students too."
"We were warned his mom won't like it but yay," Xander added. He yawned. "Am I making everyone dinner tonight?"
"If you want," Dean agreed. "Keeps us from doing it."
"Cool." He went to see what they wanted, deciding and starting on it.
"Daddy, can we have that stuff you told us was stuff we thought we wouldn't eat? We still like it anyway," Adanne called.
"I'll make it tomorrow night, Adanne. It takes all day to marinate."
"Okay." She went back to her shared room.
Xander shook his head but it was fine. Eight kids. He was insane. Dean gave him a smirk. "She was amazed that I could potty train in the desert."
"Maybe she should've let her kid bite her like you did the girls."
"Maybe," Xander agreed. "Seemed to work for them." He put stuff in the oven then came out to sit down. "Anything good happen in the research center?"
"Beth said we couldn't pack up all the books in the center to bring back," Sam told him.
"If we had the money to rebuild the main building, I'd move the headquarters out here. It'd be nice to be able to train them outside." Dean nodded at that. "But Beth would probably hate it. It'd make her commute longer." He shifted, getting comfortable. He yawned a bit. "It's been a long day. They had to get up at five so Bri could fuss over her clothes. Her alarm woke me."
"I'll wake you up in about twenty if you want," Dean offered. Xander yawned, putting his feet up so he wouldn't have to move.
Paka sauntered out, looking at her father with an evil grin. "No," Sam ordered. "You guys woke him up really early this morning." She sat down between them, giving them happy looks. "You look like you're about to get into trouble. Why?" Sam asked patiently.
"I'm being good."
"Who isn't?" Dean asked.
"The kitty in the tree. Missy spotted it."
Dean groaned, going to talk his daughter out of wanting a pet. They'd be back on the road some day. They couldn't leave a pet behind because their kids would wail in misery if they tried to. There were no cats allowed in the Impala. Besides, Winchesters weren't really cat people. Fortunately he found that Bri had adopted it and had talked it in out of the tree outside her shared room. Dean went back to the couch, letting himself feel comfortable again too. It had been a long day.
Sam gave both napping guys a smile, getting up to check on dinner when he started to smell it. It looked done so he took it out quietly and got the kids cleaned up so he could warm up some vegetables for them. They were kids, they needed vegetables.
Dean came down the next morning, finding a smugly napping cat on his hood. He picked it up by the back of the neck, carrying it to Xander's house. He held it up when Xander opened the door with a confused look. "I think this pussy's yours?" he asked dryly, handing it over.
"Where was it?"
"The hood of my car."
"Any scratches I'll have to help you fix?"
"Not that I saw. Thankfully. Or I'd have made Missy mittens." He walked off. The kids had to go to school.
Xander looked at the cat. "Don't mess with his car, cat. He's overprotective of it." He petted it, letting Bri have it since she was finished with breakfast and ready to go. "Ten minutes," he announced.
"Daddy, I just started to eat," Paka complained.
He shrugged. "You can finish in that time."
"I have to finish getting ready!" she complained, shoveling food in her mouth.
"Then next time, get up on time, Paka."
"I had to shower."
"Take one at night." He sighed, sitting down to wait on the kids. They could leave a few minutes later. He looked at the boys. "When it's your turn to do the mad dash to school in the morning I'm sure you'll be getting organizing help from the older girls. By then they'll hopefully have it down."
"Organizing?" Amanda asked, looking confused. "What can be organized for school, Daddy? We weren't before."
"You can shower the night before. You can make sure all your books are where you need them, you can pick out your clothes. That'd leave getting up and eating, then actually getting dressed as the only things that had to be done."
Bri grimaced. "I sweat all night, Daddy. I need my morning baths."
"Then you can do that but all of you taking them at the same time is insane. Today, decide who gets the night showers and who gets the morning showers. Baths are for days off and weekends." They nodded at that wisdom. Even Bri could do her hair in the shower on weekdays so they wouldn't take so long. "We'll decide where books go once you've done your homework so it's all waiting on you. Then I'll start to make lunches the night before too." He got up to do that, realizing they had no sandwich stuff. He sighed and pulled out a twenty, handing it to Adanne. "For you and your sisters for lunch." She beamed. "Eat healthy like I would want." She nodded. "Good girl." He sat down again. "I'll grocery shop for lunch stuff tonight." They all nodded and finished up, those that still needed it going to get dressed and find their things. Xander got them to school, barely. He waved at the monitoring teacher. "Morning insanity."
"With that many, I'm sure it is," she agreed. She followed the last few kids into the school, closing the doors behind her.
Xander drove to the Council, heading up to his office. Sam and Dean were already there. "I need to pick up lunch stuff for the girls." He flopped down. "We've got to get organized."
"Sammy did that already for us," Dean admitted. "He even nags like a mother."
Sam stuck his tongue out. "At least Missy's getting some softer influences. Or else she'd be a biker chick already, Dean."
"Not my baby girl."
"She does like motorcycles," Xander reminded him. "What's up today?"
"The girl in Orlando's having issues," Beth said as she walked in. "Mostly spoiled girl issues. The one in Texas is bored out of her skull and wants to trade out. She said it's not 'sneaking across the border' season so she doesn't have anything to do right now."
"What's up with Orlando?" Xander asked. "Spoiled how?"
Beth gave him a dirty look. "Boyfriend broke up with her, she got reprimanded on the job for pouting, hunting's getting annoying but she was taking out her frustration on the vamps. If she had vacation time I'd suggest the girls switch."
"The one in Texas lives at home," Xander admitted. "Where is she working now? I thought she worked at Universal Studios in a restaurant."
Xander rolled his eyes. "Couldn't she find a better job?"
He sighed. "I'll call and talk to her."
"Thank you. I wanted to spank her."
"I might do that too," Xander admitted dryly. "I need time to go grocery shopping before picking up the kids at their after school thing. The boys are in the library."
"I saw." She put down the daily memo flood. "From: Japan, England, Rome, Egypt, and Thailand."
Xander found that one first, smiling at it. "Carma's doing good. She said she got three slavers last week."
"Mr. Giles wasn't sure why she was bothering until she had the witch they work with send the corpse of one of the demons to him. Then he said it was all right," Beth said dryly. "Told her to be careful of the human ones."
"I'm sure she'll do what she can to put them out of business too," he said dryly. "That's why she went to Thailand. She'd be able to handle the puss sucking assholes of the universe." She nodded she understood that. He looked over the others. Egypt's watcher in charge wanted him back. He smiled at that. He went through the others. "So, Japan's about situation normal. England and Rome too. Egypt has some whiny people who don't understand but the government people do. Thailand's doing good at her appointed task. Any bad news today?"
"Only that. Egypt did send a supplemental report." She handed it over. "I didn't know you had dealt with some tomb living demons."
Xander nodded. "I ran into a few of those in some native shrines." He frowned as he read it over. "That doesn't look good and those aren't easy. Who's over there?"
"I don't know," she admitted. "Mr. Giles told him to let him know how it went. He had heard those demons weren't particularly easy to kill."
Xander looked at her. "One of them is the reason I know Jon out of Morocco. I needed artillery."
"You're not a slayer," she pointed out gently.
"Plain old guns didn't work," he said blandly. She shuddered. "I'll call. Tell him about the one I did, see if this one's as big and nasty. Any other bad news?" She shook her head. He looked at Sam. "Any upcoming things you've seen?"
"The major prophecy books are saying India's going to have one soon, I sent that to the Japanese office so they could look it over. Is Thailand closer?"
"Yes, but she's just handling that area since it's so overcrowded with demons. Including some that do beneficial things around shrines." He picked up the phone, calling Egypt first. "Upton, my man." He listened to him complain about some of the locals. "We know. That's why I decided to put your building there. The locals do know. They've had two slayers come from that particular city. Since they know they're worried you'll bring something. I ignored them. You can do the same or have a talk with the head matron to look over your girls." He smiled, leaning back. "That's why I'm calling. Want my contact in Morocco?" He listened.
"Guns didn't work against it, Upton. I did try that. Um, no. I worked with the cultural ministry since they caught me trying to deal with it the first time. They're the ones who put me in touch with the guy. Yes, him." He nodded that the guy had complained about this new one and the damage the last one had caused. "Okay, so what's your plan? They have impervious-to-sharp-pointy-thing skin, Upton. It takes a lot of pressure to pierce them. I'm thinking short range, but high yield. No, guns didn't work. I tried. You know I had real weapons with me by then. Exactly. No, not a single one went through anywhere but the toe and it nearly got me pounded into a wall. That doesn't have enough force.
"Think of it like needing the same force to push an elephant through a Nile reed, Upton. If fifty caliber rounds didn't work, crossbows certainly won't. Yes I did." He rubbed his head. "I filed mine with Faith. She was the one who called to check on me. You might talk with Cera since she was Faith's second but she's probably been up all night since it's vamp party time in England with schools restarting. That's where she is, yes. Until then, maybe a trap? I'm not sure if poisons work on it or not. You might be able to trap it but it's pretty strong so you'd have to use metal cages. No idea. Ask the ministry guy, Upton. He'd be able to get you access when you needed it with where they like to nest. You might also ask your witch if they're susceptible or easily knocked out that way. Also if there's any magical artifacts.
"If I remember right the one I dealt with liked to rest on them." He knew the guy was rolling his eyes. "It let him find a whole new cache of artifacts, Upton. Seriously. Half of which Giles had to ask someone from Devon to clean." He smirked at the boys. "Good. Let me know, get my report from Cera if you think it'll help. I tried a few things. Easier days, my man." He hung up. "We might need a new girl soon," he muttered, calling Giles. "It's Xander. Upton's problem demon isn't going to be easy to kill, Giles. I had to go to that guy in Morocco to get something because even fifty caliber shells didn't dent it other than on the foot. Exactly. I filed it with Faith and I told him that.
"Yeah, I called and told him why we had put the building there. Namely two girls had come from the city, they all knew and were slightly worried but they'd deal with it. I did suggest a witch and some trapping. Maybe a poisoning, I'm not sure if it'd work or not on those. So be ready to get him some backup. Please?" He hung up, rubbing his forehead again. "That's going to be fun. Not."
"Any other problem areas?" Dean asked.
"I've been looking over the local ghost and problem populations," Sam said. "We do have a small demon community in town."
"As long as they're peaceful we're fine with it," Xander assured him. They both nodded. "I do know that the small place in the keys is like a ritual dying place recently. I don't know why. I know that a few of the higher demons have been in town over the last few years. One was trying to get Carma from me. He had an officer possessed. We know that there's some ghosts. I don't know how many beyond the ones Beth gave you guys."
"We're looking into those," Dean promised. "Any new deaths that might've caused problems, Sammy?"
"One and I'm not sure it won't be returning to get vengeance."
"Can we handle it without a slayer?" Xander asked.
"We usually do," Dean said with a smirk. "Not that hard."
"Good." He handed over something. "The station has a spirit hanging around that's not dangerous or damaging, but he's scared a few perps. They want him to move on without causing a problem."
"Peaceful but annoying?" Dean asked. Xander nodded. "Any idea who?"
"A former officer out of patrol. He's been helping but it's creeping out some of the guys. They wanted to know if we could talk to the ghost, see if it'd be less obvious. They don't care if it stays, but they want him to be less creepy."
"I'll see if we can do that tonight," Sam offered. "Can you babysit?"
"Of course. Like I have so much to do outside of getting them ready for the next day of school."
"When are the three mini-terrors to chocolate going to start training again?" Dean asked.
Xander shrugged. "Probably this weekend."
"I'll help if we're local." That got a nod. "So we've got a few to research, Sammy's got his weekly check of the major and minor prophecy books. Cleveland?"
"Starting to stand again. They've found a new building to renovate."
"Decent," Dean said, standing up. "Have fun talking the girl in Orlando out of her sulk."
"Oh, she's going to be spanked," Xander said dryly. "She let three very harmful demons go the other night by the reports I got from their PD." He held them up. Dean groaned, shaking his head. "So there might be spanking." He grinned. They left him alone to call Carma in Thailand to check on her then Orlando. That one did need her head pulled out of her ass. If he couldn't do it, he'd suggest Cera take a vacation to Disney, mostly to watch her freak out at the happy patrol but she'd come straighten the girl out.
Dean walked the cat over the next morning too. "Back on the hood. I had it inside the garage with all the doors and windows closed."
"Cats are mystical that way," he said, glaring at the cat. It only gave him a smug look. "No being on his car, kitty cat. Or you're going to the pound." He put it down. "I'll try to keep it inside tonight, Dean. The girls are amazed that cats will sit on your lap and let you spoil them."
Dean snorted, walking off shaking his head. "Winchesters don't do fuzzy kitties, Xander."
"Want Bri?" he called after him.
"No thanks. She'll give Missy more fashion advice." He went to put warding symbols around the garage and building. That way the cat couldn't get in. Then he added a nice salt ring around the garage to keep other spirits out. Hopefully that would help. Maybe? He didn't want his paint job scratched.
Sam came out to look, adding a few more symbols. Dean gave him an odd look. "To Bast," he explained. "She was over cats." He walked back inside.
Dean sighed, looking up. "Why do I have a nerd for a brother?" he muttered.
"I don't want a haircut!" Bobby yelled.
Dean walked into their house, staring at his nephew. "It's not too long but if it gets much longer you'll look like one of those guys on the cover of girl books."
"They seem to be liked," he pouted.
"Son," Sam said patiently. "I'm not going to shave you or anything. I'm going to trim around your ears and tidy up the back a little bit."
"No!" He ran off, going to hide in his closet.
"Your girlfriend will like it," Missy called after him.
"She's not my girlfriend! Girls are all evil and icky, like you!" he shouted back, then slammed his door.
"Thank you," she called after him. "Because boys are gross and need to be kept like kitty cats."
"Girlfriend?" Dean asked dryly.
"Paka likes him," she said with a grin. "But she's denying it."
"Uh-huh. That's usual kid stuff," Dean assured her.
"Remember, daddies are boys," Sam said patiently.
She shrugged. "Then maybe having kids means that you got enough kitty cat training." She walked off before her dad could swat her.
Dean and Sam shared a look. Dean took the scissors to Bobby's room. Sam went to correct his niece about boys again. He walked in and opened the closet door, finding the boy hiding inside a bunched up blanket. "Good hiding job, Bobby." The boy moaned. He pulled him out. "Everyone needs a trim. I'll do it so Sammy won't make you too bald."
"Can't we go see a barber?" he begged. "You guys make it uneven and the other kids will laugh. They think we're poor and charity cases, Uncle Dean."
"They're wrong. Ignore them."
"But it's a lot of the kids."
"Ignore them anyway," Dean told him. "You have friends, it shouldn't matter what the other kids think."
"Fine, but they don't want to talk to us anymore. I hate school." He pouted, crossing his arms over his chest.
Dean stared at him. "We can switch you two out of there to somewhere less preppie."
"If you do we won't see the girls as much. Then we won't have any friends," he said, giving him a pitiful look.
"So choose. The school with the snobs who think shopping is a gift from God, even if you know better, or somewhere with less of them."
Sam walked in. "Miami's full of people like that, Dean. Even Beth was wearing designer clothes." He sat down in front of his son. "We can go to the barber shop if you want."
"You too? You need a trim too, Dad."
"We three guys can go. Missy doesn't need more than new hair things."
"Please? And maybe some new t-shirts that aren't too big?"
"That we'll see about," Dean ordered. Bobby nodded at that. "We get paid this weekend. We'll go Saturday?" His nephew gave him a hug. "You can talk to us about this stuff."
"Missy's liked because she's fashionable. Bri too. The other girls basically sneer back at the snobs."
"Does Xander know that his kids are having problems?"
"Don't know," Bobby admitted quietly.
"I'll let him know so he can talk to them about it." Bobby nodded, giving him another hug. "We'll get a copy of the dress code for the school tomorrow. For now, ignore the snobs. They're stupid, shallow, and won't do anything important with their lives unless their daddies buy them a real job," Dean told him. "Okay?" He nodded. "Good. Now, homework?"
"Good." He patted him on the head, handing Sam the scissors. "Let me tell Xander." He walked out, heading over there. He stopped the cat trying to sneak in to visit his daughter on the way. Some holy water from the kitchen helped with that. It ran off again. He nodded Xander outside when he answered the door. "The snobs are starting on the kids about their clothes."
"When the teacher and I had a talk, I made sure she knew I wasn't going to hang with the snobs who hunt for trophies, but I could hunt. That I did have money but my girls also knew how to camp, and that all my kids are tougher than average. They have to be. Now, there's a way to help them if you'll agree. Did you know the school had a self-defense club?"
"Which does take kids in kindergarten. It teaches three different forms of martial arts. I'm thinking of letting the girls go in and show their asses and have the instructor help train them."
"That's not a bad idea. Bobby would like that. Missy might."
"And it would make sure the other kids knew that picking on ours was a bad idea. The teacher knows I'm a practical person, not an idealist and not a snob with money. I have money and my kids are practical people."
"Bobby said some got onto him about big clothes since he's growing."
Xander nodded. "There's always someone like Cordelia in each school. This time they're all in fourth grade. Adanne ran into one. She asked her why she wasn't wearing a grass skirt. Adanne calmly told her that her native people wore much prettier clothes that were better in the heat, had prettier colors, and were more comfortable than anything the girl thought was fashionable. Because fashion only got you dumbed down so you couldn't read."
"So they'll be seen as geeks?"
"Probably. Geeks have more room in the clothing sneering rules but it happens."
"True. All schools have kids like that. One got onto Missy at the old one."
"Yup, and Paka. Who nearly sneered herself into suspension. Especially since she pointed out she was smarter and read better than the other girl, who was two years older than she was. I agreed when the principal told me but reminded her not to pick on kids over a weakness like a learning disability." He smirked. "Her mother hit the roof. Claimed her daughter was just as smart. So Paka kindly told her what she had read the night before, which the mother spluttered about because it was something she couldn't read. The principal reminded the mother that they were there for knowledge, not fashion, and her daughter's attitude had become atrocious recently. Paka got detention."
"Is there anywhere they're not?"
"Some hippie schools. There's a few good ones spread around here and there."
"No thanks. I don't want Missy to embrace free love techniques until she's married."
"Me either." He smirked. "It'll happen. We'll handle it as it does. Let's start with showing that our girls do have sense, practical and otherwise, and that those other girls are useless wastes of trophy sperm."
"Sure, we'll talk with the self-defense guy tomorrow?"
"Sure." They went to talk to their own kids. Xander looked at the slayers. "We're going to cause some preemptive gossip stopping." They all stared at him. "Tomorrow, we are enrolling all of you in the self-defense club." The older girls smirked. "No going full out, slayer mode on the other kids," he warned.
"Yes, Daddy," Halla said quietly. "Why?"
"The same sort of snobs that worry about you girls not being dumb future trophy wives."
"They're stupid," Paka agreed. "I haven't had any problems yet."
"I have," Halla admitted. "One remarked on my hair. I told her it was because of a lion attack."
Xander smirked. "You had white hair when you came out according to your mom." He ruffled it. "It could use styled some."
"I know I need a trim."
"We'll go this weekend. It's payday." They smirked and nodded. "Good. Homework?" They went back to it. He settled in to help the younger three learn to read better. They would be just as smart as his older ones.
Xander nodded at the defense instructor. "My girls have had some training from me. Mine's from combat. The oldest three know to pull their punches," he warned.
"That's reasonable. I heard you've been in some dangerous places over the years, Mr. Harris. Also that you were making sure your girls could handle anything that came after you or them."
"They are." He waved them forward. "These are Bobby and Missy Winchester. Their fathers work with me. They're cousins." He nodded at that. "Missy and Bobby have some beginning, get away from the bad guy, training."
"Reasonable at their ages. How far up do you intend them to go?"
"All the way that they want. The older three need the training more in case they join my business. The others have that choice, they'll probably be there."
"I can handle that." He led them out to the mat to test them. "I want you older girls to show me how you'd get away from someone trying to grab you." He waved one of the oldest kids out. "The older three have had some training. The younger are more avoidance." He nodded, moving to attack Adanne. She ducked the grab and spun, kicking his leg to make him move back. He groaned and reached for her again. This time she got him down and stood in a 'ready' stance. "Hold." Adanne stepped back. He smiled. "Okay, I want you three oldest ones to attack me as a group. Like I'm a bad guy who broke in."
Adanne lead, Halla and Paka right behind her. Adanne tackled, which he tried to avoid but it still tangled his feet. The other two made sure he went down and sat on him. He smiled. "Good job," Xander called. "Spar with each other for a few, girls. Bri, Amanda." They nodded and the teacher got up, attacking him in what they knew.
The teacher stopped Amanda. "You're over extending. That means you fall over." He showed her how to do it, getting a grin. Missy attacked next and it was good. Straight out street brawling but decent for her age. Bobby was backing her up by blocking him from moving away. Paka *accidentally* ran into him so he tripped again. That gave Missy the chance to stand on him. "We can work on those skills," he told her.
She smirked. "That's fine. Will we need special clothes? That way Daddy can buy us some when he takes us shopping this weekend."
"Maybe something to work out in. I don't demand formal gi's. Can you get off me?" She hopped off him. He watched the other three. They were seriously trying to hurt each other. He looked at Xander, who waved it off. "Fighting over lack of chores?"
"Who gets the first shower once we get home," Xander admitted. "We need another two bathrooms but I don't want to put up with renovations at the moment." That got a nod. "Good, girls. Hold." They backed off. "Who won?"
"I scored on Halla the most," Paka said proudly. "But Adanne knocked us both down."
"Then we'll work on Halla's blocking abilities and you two can wrestle later for the first shower," Xander told them. They smirked and nodded. He looked at the teacher. "If I'm called back to active field duty for the people I work for, I need them able to protect themselves. Things like to come for the older three."
"Agreed. How are they on survival skills? We have a hunting team in case you didn't know."
"They can all camp. I got the younger three while I was on duty in Africa. I trekked across the continent with all three of them." That got a nod and a smile. "The others can camp. Missy and Bobby too."
"Good. We can work on their skills. They're sweet seeming girls."
"They're evil," Xander assured him with a smirk. "Missy and Bri especially." He walked off. "I'll be back in an hour. Let me grocery shop, girls." They all waved and got back to it. Dean and Sam were watching.
The teacher got the rest of the students out there to work with them in their groups. The oldest three got put into the top group so they could move onto new skills and work on older ones. The others got put into the mid group. They had most of the first group's skills already. Plus most of the snobs in the first group would be more likely to rely on pepper spray than not. These kids needed to be able to defend themselves if necessary. It was a good first practice and the girls all minded him very well. They were polite. They were using hand signals like most siblings did. Missy and Bobby knew most of the other girls' signals. They knew most of the cousins' signals. It was going to be fun to teach them.
Dean smirked at a parent coming over to him the next morning. "Morning." He looked Missy over, helping her with her hair. Her hairband had snapped in the car when she had played with it. "Her hair came down."
"That happens to little girls now and then," she agreed with a smile. "What grade are yours in?"
"Kindergarten. Her and her cousin Bobby. My brother's son." He smiled at the boy waiting impatiently. "You can go play." He ran inside. He finished brushing it. "No other bands?"
"You can have it down today. Try not to play with it too much." He put it into a loose braid when she pouted. "See if Bri has a spare one." She ran inside. He grinned at the parent again. "Minor traumas but at her age they're all important."
"We noticed that your children aren't like most of the others that go here."
"No, mine have common sense. Many of them don't."
She snickered. "Some don't," she agreed. "What do you and your brother do? I notice you didn't go for a flashy car like most of the other parents."
Dean stroked his hood. "She's been in the family since my dad got her as a teenager. She's served the family well and she's a member of it. I'd never get rid of her."
"She's beautifully maintained," she assured him. "I've heard you work with that one with all the children?"
"Sammy and I both work with Harris at the Watchers Council." She went pale. He smirked. "He's the regional head," he said quietly.
"Oh, I see. Like Preston was before?"
"Only with less death since the guy killed a bunch of people."
"Oh, dear. I hadn't heard that." Dean nodded. "So he's taken over from England? He didn't seem British."
"He's from California. One of the ones in the field out there."
"Interesting. I know you're all very young."
"Yes, but we've got field experience."
"That's reasonable." She moved closer. "Preston said something about a house in the Grove that was a problem. Have you taken a look at it yet?"
"Not yet. No one's told us anything about it. If they do we'll gladly look to see what sort of problem is it," he assured her. She smiled and nodded, writing down an address. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Your daughter is adorably fashionable."
"I'd rather she have sense. Fashion makes her look less realistic. I couldn't stand having Barbie as a daughter."
She giggled. "Some are but not here. Those sort have special schools they recruit from. Only a few of ours were eligible but their parents wanted them to actually learn something. I'll tell a few of the other parents who knew Preston that Mr. Harris took over for him. His girls seem sweet."
"They are until they start making evil plans with mine," he admitted dryly. "Let us know if there's more problems we should hear about as well."
"I shall." She shook his hand and walked off to gossip with those who should hear. She had more tact so they had sent her. "That is one of the people who works with the same group Preston used to. Harris, the one with all the children, took over his spot. That one and his little brother also work there." They gave him appreciative looks. That did explain why their children were practical instead of finding a niche quickly. "I gave him the address of Adalaide's old house. In case they wanted to look it over." They smiled at that tidbit.
Dean strolled into the Watcher library. "House with something going on." He handed over the address. "Beth was right. They sent an emissary to question me. She knew Preston, the old head."
"I told her we did the same thing but with less death." He smirked. "She said the kids were good."
"Good. Hopefully some of them stop their kids."
"Some of them belong at the rich snob school of future rich skanky hos she said. Their parents wanted them to learn something."
Sam looked at him. "Not all heiresses are like that. We had a few decent ones at Stanford, Dean. They actually studied and wanted to do things with their lives."
"Most of these only want to get laid and party, Sammy."
"Good point. Miami does have the same people that LA and New York does."
"Which is another good reason the girls aren't going to New York," Xander said as he walked past the doorway. "Small glitch with one of your ghosts, guys. It's drug dealers."
"We'll look into that," Sam called after him. He and Dean shared a look before he gave Dean what he already had on the local problem areas. That way they could start handling issues. They saw a youngish looking girl go running past the doorway crying. "Slayer?"
"Probably," Dean agreed. He went to check. Xander was giving her a hug. "Problems?"
"It happens to all girls sometimes," he pointed out. "Which ghost is drug dealers?"
"The one by the civic center."
"I'll look into that one first then so we can turn it in." He closed the door, running into Beth on his way back to the library. "Sobbing slayer of misery."
She sighed. "That girl needs to straighten out," she muttered.
"Maybe she's got a reason this time," he offered.
"Excuse me, you're what?" Xander shouted.
"That's probably a good reason to cry," Dean decided, going to hide from the emo slayer. He didn't want to know what she was, because he might start to think about his daughter coming home with similar news some year.
Xander came back to the office, flopping down between the brothers at the table. "Why do I have to fly coach?" he mimicked. "Faith wouldn't have to."
"Spoiled or is she pregnant?" Dean asked, going back to his reading.
"Her boyfriend dumped her, she came up positive for an STD but isn't sure who she got it from, oh, and she's complaining that we don't pay her rent for her. I reminded her there was a housing allowance. She hadn't filed for it because she was supposed to live with her mother. Apparently her mother had a boyfriend."
"Had?" Sam asked, giving him a look.
"Step-daddy-wannabe decided he liked them young and redhead while drunk. She moved out to a place she shared with two other girls and had a decent job. Unfortunately she was saying the normal things were hard to deal with. That she was always too tired to patrol. She works telemarketing. Yeah, it's soul sucking. Been there for a few weeks at one point in time. I still managed to patrol and I had Anya then. So she's going to get the shit smacked out of her by Cera for a few weeks. The girl in Texas will be in to cover for her. I put her and Chris' mom on together so they could make some plans. The moms decided to talk a bit too. Talia is not a happy camper at what her sister slayer pulled. She's vowed to call her roommates too to make sure her stuff doesn't disappear to more than a storage area. So we'll see."
"How much does the council pay for housing allotments?" Dean asked. "Enough to get one on her own?"
"Probably not somewhere as expensive as Miami or Orlando are but somewhere not in a slum. Somewhere with probably one roommate, who might be another slayer or the watcher for the area. That'd be up to them to find. We give them a food allowance too so they don't have to get full time jobs. Quite a few of the girls do have less than demanding real jobs. All but a few of the spoiled ones. Chris, Maize, and Mary Elizabeth."
"Maize?" Dean snorted.
"Her mom's very hippie. I gathered her for training. Her mother was trying to get her to see how the non-violent approach would work for slaying. She was complaining so I took her and her mom on a light patrol. Even her mom staked the vampire then sighed and said a prayer over their ashes. She looked at her daughter and told her she'd do what she had to but she was not allowed to live the life of total violence. Defense is one thing, fun is another. Her daughter nodded and promptly had to get some birth control issues straightened out once she got to Cleveland after she miscarried." Sam shuddered. "So she's a bit spoiled. She's with Buffy in Rome. Her mother wants her to picket the church now and then on some rights they think are wrong."
"Interesting," Sam decided.
"Her mom's really nice. She sends her daughter extra cookies for the girls in the house, she sends a lot of pictures and things from home. The girls love her mom but they could do without Maize now and then. Buffy threatened to put her in a convent where they had a vow of silence if she didn't quit being such a slut."
Dean snickered. "Dad thought about that with us once."
"You," Sam corrected. "I'm more discriminating, Dean."
Xander grinned. "I like how you two handle things when I get upset." He stood up, heading back up to his office. "Hey, Beth. She's on her way to Cera. Talia's coming from Texas. Any new news?"
"Not yet." She looked at him. "Xander, you are aware that Miami is a very...fashionable and slightly uptight city?" she asked finally.
He stared at her. "Why would it matter?"
"Your kids aren't really going to fit in all that well down here. Practical is very... Midwestern, not Miami. Hardly any of us do practical things."
"I've seen that. That's why there's such a high drug rate," he said dryly. "We could've went to Houston." She gave him a horrified look. "Exactly. That's why I'm here. Houston's absolutely boring. Beyond that, I do have two very fashion conscious girls. They even pick out my clothes for me."
"Yes but you're not really up to Miami standards," she said, looking over his current loose t-shirt and jeans. "Preston was in higher society." Xander shuddered. "A lot of the old Council was."
"I figured as much since Giles had an estate with horses to ride around on. Still not my thing. None of the current ones are."
"It does make us beneficial contacts. That way they donate things to us instead of making us ask them for their possessed and magical items."
"It'll be fine, Beth. No one's said anything beyond sniping at the kids for being younger and having brains. Miami may be the east coast society ho city but not everyone is that way. That's about two percent of the population. We can ignore each other."
"Yes, but the job does bring some attention now and then."
He shook his head. "Not unless there's an invasion."
"Preston told many people what we do."
"That was his screw up," he said firmly. "Not mine. My kids are in a socially acceptable school so they learn things like how to get around the rich folks if they have to hunt near them. Everyone there knows that we're practical people because we do things like read."
"It's not really a Miami standard trait either," she agreed. "I'm more worried that the kids will get picked on and so will you when you go out."
"Why would I go out? I'm not going to society events, Beth. I refuse and not even Giles can make me."
She gave him a horrified look. "But you have to."
"No, I don't. If Preston did, that was his problem. Not mine. I don't do social sniping and snubbing. I could care less about high society things unless something comes for them. Dean, Sam, and I are all agreed we're not society sorts. We're hunters."
"There are hunters in society."
"Who do it for the trophies. If I'm hunting animals, I do it for food. The same as my older girls know how to skin and clean food." She shuddered. "No one's said anything except for a few snobby kids at the school and we've handled that. Relax, Beth. I'm not the social butterfly he was." He went to his office, sending Giles' secretary an email so she could pass that information on. In case it became a problem that Preston had been hob-knobbing with the elite. He went back to his paperwork. It was a never-ending task to go over some issues it seemed like.
"Travers would've wanted all his upper people to be well-educated and socially capable," she said, following him into the office a minute later with some coffee.
"Good thing he died, huh?" he asked blandly, looking up at her. He got back a reply and smiled, showing it to her. "I told Giles that Preston had been in society. He's appalled. The Council is supposed to be working in the shadows. I don't think those two go together too well."
"It's beneficial and the way Miami operates. Not everywhere operates like Sunnydale, Xander."
Xander shrugged. "We had our share of snobs. Cordelia's family comes to mind." She snorted. "Bottom line, Beth. No society events for me, Dean, or Sam. Or the kids. No galas, no premieres, no events. We're not here to play nice. We're here to stop problems and make sure the girls in our region are handling their duties all right plus make things easier on them. If we go to the museum, it'll be with the kids. Probably as school trip chaperones. We're not going to dress up unless it's absolutely necessary to save everyone in the city. Possibly the whole world. I'm not the girls. I don't shop for a hobby."
"If you don't then you won't really fit into Miami."
"Miami's fitting just fine so far," he assured her. "Without the social obligations. So if anyone asks you, tell them I don't do society events somehow. You can be as polite as you want. I tend to be blunt."
"You'll never find them a good stepmother that way."
"We had a good stepmother candidate but the girls ran her off." He stared her down. "Nor do I want some society trained woman to be my children's stepmother, Beth. That sort would drive me nuts. Then I'd repay it by taking her camping and things."
"There are people who hunt."
"They'd be horrified that vampires used to be people," he said bluntly. "They hunt for heads on the wall. Not for defense, not for food, and not for any good reason that I could support. I also wouldn't put up with brainless bimbos near my girls. They might teach them bad habits." He stared up at her. "Really. We're doing fine. Thank you for the concern."
"Travers' rules...." she started firmly.
"Travers died in the explosion, Beth."
"You can't be sure of that!" she said.
"I can be. You can ask Giles. He had to identify people after the explosion." She went pale. "We don't go on Travers' rules because Travers was a dick. He tried to have me killed for helping the slayers. He tried to have the slayers killed and treated as disposable weapons. They're not. Travers was a power-hungry dick who did things the wrong way. Giles is now in charge. Not only does he have sense, he has the ability to look at the slayers as individual and necessary. We don't go by Travers' rules because he screwed what the Council was so it was his personal playground and path to power.
"The Council is supposed to be shadowy and dealing with things that people don't want to acknowledge. We can't do that while we're at a party. So please, if any invites come in, you can be as polite as you want when you turn them down. Giles doesn't go into society and he's the head of the Council. I sure as hell don't. Even if I was trained to do that, I'd end up sniping at some of the shallow people whose only worries are how much plastic surgery they're going to need to look less than thirty next year. I may have money but I don't feel the need to join society because of that fact. Am I clear?" She stomped off. He sighed, leaning back and taking some tylenol. He saw someone come off the elevator and waved his kids his way. "Have a good nap?"
"Yup," Everett said happily. "Are you okay? You look upset."
"Yeah, just had to bust some fantasy bubbles." He gave them all hugs. "What did we plan to do this afternoon?"
"Reading," Caleb said.
"Good. I like that answer." He gave them all kisses on the head. "I have lunch somewhere around here."
"Uncle Sam fed us since you were at the airport," Sauda said, climbing into his lap. "Where are they now?"
"The research center. You can't go bother them for more than a break, guys. Okay?" They nodded, trooping that way.
"Xander, should I cancel your personalized stationary order?" Beth called.
"Why would I need any?"
"For personal letters."
"That's why you sign your name, Beth."
"That's not acceptable down here. You have to learn to get along in Miami, Xander, not Cleveland and not Africa." He stared until she looked away. "It's necessary for every executive."
Xander asked Giles that question, getting back a shrug. He asked the secretary up there about Beth's former job details. What he got back was amusing. "Giles said it's fine if it comes but I don't expect to need too much of it so don't order too much," he called. He got up to chase down the kids so Sam and Dean could get back to work. He found Sam reading to them in Latin. "You've got better pronunciation than I do," he told him, sitting down and pulling Everett into his lap.
The boy smiled at him. "No more paperwork?"
"Nope. A bit of stress but no more paperwork for a while." He gave him a squeeze. The boys both clapped and Sauda cheered when Sam finished his story in Latin. "That sounds better in Latin," Xander told him.
"It does. Less dumb too," Dean said. He looked at the kids. "Now what?"
"Now, we go back to the office while Daddy gets over the shudders from the idea of him in polite society Beth had," Xander said quietly. Dean and Sam both shuddered. "How I feel too, guys." He got up. "C'mon, grab three books each." They did that and followed him up to the office.
"When will you be finding them a daycare or nanny?" Beth asked when they walked in front of her desk.
"We're not. Maybe a daycare for some longer hunts but Dawn'll watch them for me on her off hours." He looked at her. "I had them with me at the store too, Beth. I don't need some surrogate Xander to take care of my kids. The Winchesters and I share babysitting duties when necessary."
She grimaced. "It can't be good for them."
"It's very good for them. That's why they'll test out of kindergarten and right into first grade," Xander said proudly. He closed his office door, sitting down with the kids to read to them for the next few hours. Then it'd be mid-afternoon nap time.
Beth grimaced at the door, sending her superiors a message. This couldn't be good for the Council. Her superiors said he was right so she complained.
Xander came to the door a few minutes later. "If you're that unhappy that I'm not a society sort, you can transfer up to New York or one of the other regional offices, Beth," he said quietly. She glared at him. He stared back. "We're hunters, not socialites. I can't hunt demons while being gooed over by some brainless bimbo with fake breasts and teeth. That's not the man I am even if I could pull it off. I can't, I won't, and the offer stands to get you to Rome if you want. Buffy could use someone who does paperwork."
"You're ruining the Council!" she said hotly, standing up.
"No I'm not. This is the Council's job, Beth. Not to be in society. Travers was an attention whore. The rest of us do the real work of the Council. If you don't like that, I'm sorry. I don't care, but I'm sorry. The Council is here to support the slayers and help them when they hunt. That's all our job is. To research, help hunt, and to keep it out of the regular person's view. Prestons broke those rules and so did Travers. That's one reason why it was so easy to take down the Council when the First came." She stomped off. "If you want the Rome job, let me know by four," he called after her. He walked down to security, seeing the unhappy looks. "Be damned if I'm going to be told I have to change who I am to fit into some shallow mold that's not something we're supposed to be doing anyway," he told them.
"Was she fired?" the head of security asked.
"That's up to her. I offered her a spot in Rome's region. If she wants it she has to let me know by four. If not, she stomped off so she quit." They nodded, moving to take her ID out of the recognition system. He went back upstairs. "Guys, Beth quit."
"We heard," Sam admitted, smiling at him. "Good luck finding another one."
"Giles has three that say they're bored." He smirked, going to call him back. "Cynthia, Xander. Beth just huffed off because I won't go into society and I told her that's one of the reasons that was warping the Council before. No, I need one but I need one who can handle hunting duties and that my younger kids do hit the office with me on paperwork days. Thank you. That would be fine. I told her to let me know by four if she wanted to go help Buffy in Rome. You did? That's cool. No, I kinda doubt it. She kinda liked Travers ideals about everyone being in society. Said we were the reason the Council was going to hell. That's what I thought," he said at her smart remark. He smiled at the curious looking kids. "Thanks, Cynthia. Tell Giles Talia is coming from Texas to cover Orlando for a few days while Chris is getting straightened out by Cera. Yeah, complained totally. Thank you." He hung up and went to look over Beth's desk. He groaned, finding a few invitations on her desk. "Crap, she was going to accept some of those," he muttered.
Dean came out to look over his arm. "Party invitations?" Xander grimaced but nodded. "We can turn them down politely. Sammy knew some heirs at Stanford and got manners classes I'd assume. Lawyers need them."
"Maybe." He sat down to go over his scheduling book. "Shit, she had me scheduled for one last night. Nice of her to let me know." He found that one's invitation filed and sent her a very nice letter explaining why he hadn't been there, including that his assistant had agreed he'd go without checking with him first. He did politely tell her that he wasn't the 'society sort' and that he doubted he'd be able to go to any events as it could bother his current job. Dean nodded that it sounded good when he let him see it. They looked up as someone stomped in. "Prentis."
"Harris?" he demanded. Xander grinned and nodded. "Where's Preston?"
"Did you not hear about the First?" he asked patiently.
"Well, yes, but Preston said that he had protections."
"He was trying really hard by killing about seventy people to drain them for the spell," Xander told him. The other watcher shuddered. "We spent my first few weeks as regional head here cleaning up his mess. Did you know he was in society?"
"I'd assume so. Travers did like it that way."
"Travers was an attention whore and it's hard to hunt when you have attention put on you."
"None of the regional heads would've hunted, Harris," he said dryly.
"The Council had more people then," Dean pointed out. "Now you don't."
"Are you a Watcher?" Prentis asked.
"Dean Winchester, this is Prentis Hall. He's the guy who's handling the regional problems in England for Cera. Prentis, this is Dean. He and his brother are both hunters who signed on. They have kids in my twins' year at school. He's my hunter on staff and Sam's my head of research locally."
"That's beneficial I suppose. I heard from Beth. I was coming down to check on the problems in Orlando."
"I sent Chris to Cera to get her straightened out." He grimaced. "She's been dumped, was complaining that she had to work to pay her rent, got an STD, all that great stuff."
Prentis grimaced. "Yes, Cera would smack her around greatly," he decided.
Xander grinned and nodded. "You'll find most of us go on the practical principle anymore, Prentis. What else is up? I don't see it mentioned that you were coming this way."
"I thought I'd pop in on Preston for lunch. I didn't schedule with Beth. Her day off?"
"She stomped off in a snit," Dean told him. "We're not society hos."
"Oh, dear. Yes, she was going in his place I'd assume." Xander shrugged. "Good point. Any good news?"
"Talia, from Texas, is coming to cover Orlando. Chris complained that her telephone job was making her too tired to hunt. Talia said it's her off season."
"So you're the regional head?" he made sure. Xander nodded. "That is very interesting. Do the others know?"
"I called Egypt about their current issue. Thailand knows because I was handling that."
"You do realize he's Giles' second-in-command too?" Dean asked.
Prentis gave him a horrified look. "You are?" he demanded. Xander nodded. "We never heard that!"
Xander dialed Giles' cellphone, a present from Buffy. "Giles, it's Xander. Prentis is here to go over some problems he's heard about."
"Rupert, good to hear from you again," Prentis said.
"Prentis Hall, I haven't heard from you in ages. How is England doing?"
"Quite good but some demons had given Cera some news about the regional office down here that were disturbing her. I thought I'd take a break to snoop and check in with Preston."
"Unfortunately he didn't last much beyond the building blowing in England," Giles admitted. "Caused quite a mess as well from what I understand."
"Xander told me that."
"Xander, are you still there?" he asked.
"I am. Who's Cynthia sending me?"
"Cynthia, who are you sending to Xander for support staff?" She said something that wasn't really audible. "Xander, what was her problem with you being the head?"
"I'm not in society, she wanted things the way they were under Travers, and I'll be damned if I'm going to hang out with rich people who have no sense. She wanted me to change into a mindless mimbo who shops for pleasure."
"Ah. That's reasonable. We do have a young, bouncy woman up here in training if you'd like to finish it."
"I do bring the kids to the office, Giles."
"I'm aware of that. I'll make sure before I let Cynthia send Etta."
"That's fine. Anything coming our way?"
"Not at the moment. Prentis, are we having other problems that you've heard?"
"Only the problem in Egypt."
"I told him to get my report from Cera where I took one out," Xander said.
"She got that request and looked it up for him. He was apparently not impressed. Then again, you're not one of the girls, Harris."
"I know that. Even if I was, it's still got nearly unbreakable skin. That's why I had to use artillery."
"Bullets?" Dean asked.
"Didn't pierce anything. I used fifty caliber rounds and it didn't pierce anything but a toe."
"I do loathe those demons," Giles agreed. "Xander, does your researcher have anything more on the opening attempt coming up?" Dean texted that to his brother.
Sam came out with a book, copying and faxing the pages to him. "I sent it via fax, Mr. Giles."
"Thank you, Samuel. You're better than half of my own staff. They looked at it and were confused."
"Sammy's a great researcher," Dean told him.
"He was on-the-fly translating a kiddy book to latin for the littler trio," Xander said with a grin for Sam.
"That's impressive. Those children of yours are quite particular about their books."
"It was fun," Sam told him. "The kids asked." He leaned on the desk. "That's all I've found down here."
"We may have more references in the back corridors," Prentis offered. "Which opening attempt?" Sam showed him the book, letting him read it over. "We heard about this one but we thought it happened last century. Back in Harris' time in high school helping Buffy."
Xander looked then shook his head. "Nope. That wasn't us. That's the Cleveland hellmouth." He pointed. "That's the word they use for Cleveland in most prophecies I've seen. Sunnydale is the Dark One in anything by that seer."
"I forgot that only some knew that there were multiple ones," he admitted, handing the book back. "So everything's handled locally?"
"You did get the news that Willow's finding spell didn't look at women of all ages?" Xander asked. Prentis shuddered. "We've found a few that got missed by it originally. I'm trying really hard not to nag the one in the local police department. She's good with a lot of things already. She's from New Orleans."
"Then she's got some idea probably," Prentis agreed. "I still thought he would've lived with what he said he had."
"He was also embezzling funds," Dean told him. The other watcher glared at him.
"Truth. We found his emergency bunker with the money he was paying people who didn't exist, some dead bodies, and some drugs." Prentis gaped in horror. "Then we had to destroy the main house here to find all the bodies he hid. Plus his other working areas. The local crime lab was not amused at all the bodies he had done."
"Oh, Dear Lord," Prentis muttered. "Yes, I suppose that's bad. Did we get the money back?"
"We took what was in the vault," Xander assured him. "That covered it. Then I gave them his hidden accounts so they could trace back some of his supply chain. They'd like Miami without drug dealers some year."
"I think we all would," Prentis agreed. "London could do with a few less as well." He shifted. "Rupert, did you have anything coming our way?"
"Not at the moment," Rupert said. "There's been no prophecies or anything. Though, Xander, we did find one that dealt with the small start of a hellmouth you have down in your areas."
"It's on a privately owned Key," Xander told him. "We know where it is though."
"Any idea if we can buy it?" Prentis suggested.
"I doubt the convent overtop of it would like that," Dean told him. "They have a retreat there."
Prentis sighed, shaking his head. "That's probably a good thing at least. The white light energy might help keep it shut."
"Not that others won't try to open it anyway," Rupert told him. "We seem to have someone trying, Xander. It looks like it's in about three weeks."
"I'll look into it. Send me the notes, G-man."
"Xander," he said, sounding exasperated. "What have I told you about using that horrid nickname?"
Xander grinned at the phone. "You needed the blood pressure relief anyway, Giles." He hung up, looking at him. "If you want we can have dinner. I don't discriminate against other watchers."
"No, that's all right. I'm sure your children will want you to have someone cook for them."
"He does," Dean told him. "He's a pretty good parent to all eight of them."
"Eight?" he asked, looking alarmed.
"Three very young slayers, my twins, and the three youngest," Xander agreed. He pulled out a picture to show him. "I adopted all that aren't biologically mine."
Prentis stared for a moment. "I would have run from that many children," he said honestly. "I can barely stand my two some days."
"Dawn lives with us," he said with a manic grin. "She's doing internship hours right now for medical school."
Dean nodded. "She teaches them all sorts of bad things about being a girl like makeup and fashionable clothes."
"Your daughter still wanted a touring bike the other day," Xander pointed out.
"Not a roadster?" Sam asked with a grin. "I've seen her pet one in the past."
"Nope. She said a touring bike had storage so she could have weapons. Just like you guys' trunk."
"At least she's being logical," Dean decided. "She still can't ride a hog." He looked at the stunned Watcher. "Sammy and I both have a baby in kindergarten this year. They're in his daughter Bri's class."
"That's wonderful. That way the children can have friends who know about the life so they don't have to gloss over stories." He checked the clock. "Not home yet?"
"Martial arts club today," Xander said with a grin.
"Wonderful. I'm sure they'll make splendid watchers some year."
"If they want," Xander agreed. "I won't make them pick a career until they're old enough."
"I know you Americans are like that," he agreed. "Well, if there's nothing going on, then I'll partake of some of your city's highlights and then go back to watching Cera try to be as tough as Faith was."
"Cera is as tough as Faith was," Xander assured him. "They got along so well because they had similar pasts and they thought a lot alike. Faith saw her as a little sister."
"We do miss her," Prentis said with a sad smile. "We know she died saving Cera from the demon who was on a drug-induced rampage but it was a shame."
"I'm sure the Powers have a special job they'll be sending her back for," Xander said, staring him down.
"You've had a vision of this?" he asked calmly.
"Not fully but I've got news that she's earned a better job this time."
Prentis smiled. "That's good. She did deserve it. No matter how often we fought because she was less uptight than everyone else. Not to mention her funny slang issues." He left, going out to find a hooker in a decent club for the night.
Dean looked in the office then at him. "He's not asleep."
"Caleb?" He peeked around the door. "We good?"
"Yeah, we're good," he said with a grin. He went back to his coloring. It was good that his last life was still missed. It meant he had been liked.
Xander looked at the boys. "Sam...."
"Getting onto that hellmouth issue," he agreed, going to look it up.
Xander looked at Dean. "That drug dealer thing?"
"Called Eric Delko earlier about it after cruising by there. There is a ghost, he's been preying on the dealers. They're going to clean out the dealers and we'll get the ghost later on. Personally I don't care if he does smack drug dealers into walls. Saves me from having to kick their asses." He walked off to check on the kids.
Xander went back over all the stuff Beth had been hiding from him. He hoped Etta was a nice young woman. It would be nice if they could get along, plus if she liked the kids. He checked the time and got his keys, heading out to pick up all the little heathen future hunters. It was his turn.
Xander looked over as Dean walked the cat into the house once again and handed him to Bri this time. "How did she get past the wards?" he asked with a grin.
"No damn clue," Dean admitted. "I even put up cameras. She suddenly climbed up onto the hood without seeming to be there before."
Xander looked at the cat then at Dawn, who had her nose in a book. "Dawnster," he started.
"I already checked, she's not magical," she said, turning a page. "She's sneaky. Like you getting chocolate, Xander." She looked up at him with a grin. "I remember you doing pretty good with that task."
"Now and then," he agreed, staring at the cat his daughter was cooing at. "Is she pregnant?"
Dean shrugged. "How would I know?"
"Bri, is she pregnant?"
Caleb looked over then shrugged. "No. She's getting chubby off the squirrels. She'll be going into heat soon."
"How do you know this?" Dawn asked.
"She told me." He smirked at her. "She's a familiar."
"Huh," Xander said, looking at the cat. "Familiar for who?" The cat stared at him. "One of the Winchesters? If not, stay off the car. Dean will shoot you with rock salt. He says it hurts like hell, cat." She licked her paw and cleaned her ears. "Good, you did hear." He smirked. "Stay off the cars. Find somewhere else to piss them off." He looked at Dean. "Familiars are generally smart enough to listen. Sometimes."
"When they want to?" Dean joked.
"Yup." He grinned back. "Cynthia said that Etta's very bouncy and young. A bit green. Has some skill gaps we can fix."
"Like typing or like Latin?"
"No clue but she'll be here tomorrow."
"I'll warn Sam. Are we bringing the tots in?"
"We probably should since I still don't like that preschool."
"It's good for them to socialize," Dawn reminded him patiently.
Everett snorted. "They're stupid."
"No name calling," Dean ordered.
Sauda shrugged. "They don't like books and say we're stupid for liking books."
"Shouldn't they be teaching you guys stuff?" Dawn asked.
"Yeah," Xander said dryly. "So I think we're going to be talking to the preschool people tomorrow." She smirked at him. "What? I'll be fine without backup."
"I'll start looking for a better one." She got up to start that search, making Dean snicker. She grinned back at him. "I've seen Xander rip into someone until they were ready to kill themselves. I'm sure they'll be sorry."
"Quite probably," Dean agreed. "I'd do the same thing." He patted Xander on the shoulder. "Thanks for sending dinner."
"Not a problem." He grinned. "I made too much."
"It was good." He walked off, heading back to the house. Sammy should hear about the preschool problem so they could both laugh tomorrow when someone called to complain about Xander's mouth.
Dean wandered into the kitchen to start breakfast the next morning, finding the little beast on top of the coffee maker. "If I have to clean cat fur out of there, you're being shaved," he warned. The cat stretched but didn't move. Dean picked her up and dropped her onto the floor. "Go wake up the kids and Sammy." She stared up at him. "You're not my cat. I'm not feeding you." He blew out the coffee pot to make sure there weren't any stray cat hairs then started his morning coffee. "Sammy!" he bellowed.
Sam stumbled into the kitchen in his boxers and t-shirt, his hair sticking up in all directions as he stared at the cat. "What are you doing in here?"
"She was on top of the coffee maker."
Sam grunted, picking it up to look at. "Go home," he snarled. "Bobby isn't allowed to be a witch." The cat gave him a silent meow. "I don't care if any of my gifts did pass on, the kids can't do magic. Go bother Amanda since she can." He put her down with a pat on the head. "Don't bother us before coffee. We tend to be grumpy and mean." She strolled off, going to check on the kids for them. Sam picked her up and dropped her outside the door. "I told you no." He slammed the door and went back to his get morning coffee.
"Nightmares?" Dean asked dryly.
"Few. My son dating a girl who acts like you." He walked off sipping his coffee. "It's going to be a long day, I'd get up now," he called into the kids' rooms.
"I'm up, Uncle Sam," Missy called. "I'm picking out my clothes."
Sam looked in at his son, the lump of blanket monster. "Bobby." He took another sip, leaning on the door frame. "Bobby!" he called louder. His son grunted. "Robert James Winchester!" he bellowed. His son jumped and looked around. He took another sip. "It's six-thirty. Time to bathe, eat, get ready for school, all that stuff."
He glared at his father. "Dad, you're mean. Have more coffee." He put the cover back over his head. "I took a bath last night."
"You can still get up and eat," Dean called as he walked behind Sam.
"I'm tired! I had nightmares all night!"
Dean backtracked to look at the lump under the blankets. "Nightmares for what reason?" he asked patiently. Bobby snored at him. He rolled his eyes, going in to uncover him and wake him up again. "Nightmares?" he asked. "About what?"
"Evil shits who do bad things to kids."
"Shit, he did inherit my visions," Sam muttered. He finished his coffee, going to call Xander. "We're keeping Bobby out of school today. We think he's having visions. Won't wake up fully either. Thanks. Sure, you can take Missy for us." He hung up. "Missy, you're riding in with the others."
"Yes, Uncle Sam." She went to the kitchen to put some microwave bacon into the microwave and make herself a bowl of cereal. She looked up as her father came in, staring at her breakfast. "Is he getting the creepy mind powers Uncle Sammy has?" she asked, taking a bite of her cereal. The microwave beeped so she got out her bacon, blowing on it before eating.
"It looks like he's got visions. You haven't had any, right?"
She shook her head. "No, Daddy. If I did, I might have to beat someone up. I don't want to be creepy that way. Evil but not creepy." He gave her a hug and a smile, going back to helping her cousin. So she got the door when it was knocked on. "Hi, Paka. Bobby's still in bed."
"He's still not my boyfriend." She jogged up the stairs, nudging Sam so he'd look down. She handed him an envelope. "Daddy said that helped Aunt Cordy when she was alive. He also said that there's different types of visions and seers. He's not sure if he's got the same sort you do or if it was gifted like hers. He said if it was gifted he had a present for the Powers as he walked off muttering about his artillery babies." She grinned. Then she bounced off again.
Sam looked in the envelope. "I think this is for a tea." He went to make some, following half-dose directions on the front. He brought in a mug. "It smells foul but your uncle says it works on other seers."
"Eww. Sugar?" he begged.
"We don't know if it'll hurt it," he said. "Sorry. We'll ask later." Bobby gulped it, making a disgusted face. But the tension lines around his forehead eased. "No more headache?"
"Less of one. Now I feel like I have a cold." He handed back the mug, covering his head again. "Do I have to go to school?" he whined.
"No," Sam said. "You can write out what you saw though." He smirked. "Then you can babysit the younger kids for a few hours." Bobby sighed but nodded, getting up to go eat. He looked at Dean. "I needed that stuff."
"We need the recipe," Dean agreed. Missy heard the honk and looked. "They're early."
Paka ran into the house, grabbing Missy and her backpack. "Daddy's too tired to cook. We're having pancakes." Bobby turned green, running to get sick. "We'll get her to class on time." She dragged her buddy off to the van. "C'mon, Daddy found IHOP."
"Cool! It's unlimited pancakes."
"Exactly," Xander agreed dryly. He made sure she was hitched in then headed off with the kids to eat. It was expensive but necessary. He really didn't feel like cooking today.
Dawn looked Bobby over then came out to talk with the worried Winchesters. "He's not having real visions. He's more far-viewing than anything." Sam gave her a confused look. "Visions predict the future. Far-viewing tells you what's going on now." He slumped, shaking his head. "It's not a problem and I went over the mental shielding lessons with him. I'm guessing that his sudden onset is because the hellmouth is being a butt at the moment. It looks like the shielding exercises are working. The headache tea is for once a day. It's pretty common herbs. He shouldn't need it again but he does need help going through the exercises." She looked at Dean. "By the way you look, did you get some too?"
"I had a strange dream about nuns."
She smirked. "There's a convent retreat on top of the hellmouth down here, Dean." He groaned. She strolled off to report to Xander. "Far-viewing."
"Excellent. Much nicer than visions. It can be blocked out," Xander said. He looked up. "Etta's going to be here after lunch."
"I heard. The kids are planning on greeting her with a plea for cookies." She smirked. "They're being butts today. Again."
"They're kids. We all were, Dawn."
"All but me."
"Well, I'm sure you would have if you had been alive," he said dryly.
"True." She bounced off again. "Going to be a nerd."
"Go for it." He went back to the paperwork of the day. He hated paperwork. Dean strolled in. "He napping?"
"Watching cartoons with the younger set." He took Xander's pen, making him look at him. "Far-viewing?"
"It's like seeing it happen somewhere else. It can be blocked off. I don't know if it can be trained. You'd need to ask someone like Wes, who knows demons who have that gift."
"Could it have been gifted?"
"Dean, why would the demon choose Sam?" he asked.
"Because he had the ability to have the gifts but it was latent," he said. "I already figured that part out."
"And you're pretty perceptive. You said your dad was too." Dean shook his head slowly. Xander nodded. "Like higher magic gifts, they tend to run in families. Wesley, out in LA, has studied more of that than we have. I doubt a demon got him. You guys are hyper vigilant about that stuff. Be thankful it's not visions. This can be blocked out and maybe trained to be used on cue. Visions killed Cordelia."
Dean nodded once. "So, not a bad thing as creepy powers go."
"As Dawn was told, the more normal you see your powers as, the easier you get control of them. The more you think it's freaky, the harder it is because you fight against being labeled a freak."
"I know but if we don't make them seem a bit odd, they'll let them out in public more often. We don't want the kids to talk about it. Beyond that, it is kinda creepy."
Xander nodded. "It can be. Be damned if I wanted visions."
Dean stared at him oddly. "The one who did that is dead, right?"
"He won't tell anyone, Dean. Make him see it's the way he was born. Like being born a brunette."
"I'll try but things like that do tend to creep most hunters out."
Xander shrugged. "He could be a full blown witch. Then what would you do?"
"Sammy would probably cry," he admitted. "Then find him a very good white magic teacher."
Xander pointed at the ocean. "Devon, England. They got Willow straightened out."
Dean nodded once at that information. "We heard she had issues once."
"Magic addiction and then grief," Xander said, looking at him. That just got another nod. "She's better now."
"Good. We like that answer. Anything else we need to talk about with his funky abilities?"
"Call Wes out in LA, see if he can get you some tips for training it if it can be trained. He works with some seers and others out there."
"I can do that. Do we think it could be trained?"
Xander shrugged. "I have no idea, Dean. That's not something I've ever really looked into. When I started having visions I knew I couldn't block them out, make them stop, or do anything to help them hurt less. No need to research anything beyond swearing at the Powers."
"That's reasonable." He went to look up Wesley's number in the internal phone book, finding it easily enough. He called. "Is Wesley there please? Xander told me to call him for some information he might have. Dean Winchester. We signed on to help Xander in Miami." The phone was handed over after a few quiet words on their end. "Wesley?" He smiled at that information. "That's fine, miss. It seems my nephew has broken out in something Dawn Summers and Xander called far-viewing?" She repeated that and read what he was apparently writing. "That's why he wanted me to call you. To see if it could be trained and if so, did you know how to do that." He took notes on what he was given.
"Do you think the same thing could help seers if their visions weren't gifted to them by a higher power? We have a family friend who has visions thanks to a demon tainting them in the past. No, they were a child. Long story but the demon's dead and the visions remain, along with a few other creepy mind powers." He winced at that information. "Basically, yeah. I take it you heard about Azazel and all that shit? One of them." He made a new note under a line he drew. "That's good to know. So those exercises will help and we can work on both of them?" He nodded. "Thank you for that help. Miami. Xander's the regional head."
He heard the squeaky sounding laughter and smiled. "He's not doing too bad so far. No, I met him because our kids are in the same class as his twins." He nodded at her babbling about the girls. "They're presently being warped, yeah. Thank you. Let us know if you hear anything going on down here please. My brother's head researcher of this branch at the moment. Thanks, dude." He hung up and went to tell Sammy. "Both of yours can be trained. That's the book on how the taint works and what you can do to train it to react normally so you don't step over the line. That's the stuff on how to train Bobby. Wesley had to write it down since his throat was cut late last year."
Sam looked it over. "We have two of those books but not the one on the taint that I've seen." He looked it up. "Bobby doesn't have it listed in his collection either." He bit his lip, doing an online search for it. "Hmm. Looks like there's a few copies out of England."
"Hey, Xander?" Dean called. "What happens if we need a book to help Bobby and Sammy?"
Xander strolled in. "You call the head researcher up in Cleveland and see if we have a copy she can send down." He smiled. "If she doesn't, she'll call the secondary guy in England and have him find one in all the former watchers' libraries." He looked at the list. "I've seen it around Cleveland. Willow was looking at it to see if the information had anything on how hellmouths can taint powers." He looked at Sam. "Need her address?"
"She sent it to me." He grinned. "Thanks."
"You can't be any stranger than the lounge singing demon seer that Angel works with, Sam."
"There is one?" Dean asked, looking confused.
"An Anagogic demon I think they said. He sees your future when you sing for him. He runs a karaoke bar. A demon one with non-violence charms, but yeah, a demonic karaoke bar."
Dean shook his head quickly. "You're right, he's not any stranger than that."
"Thank you, God," Sam added.
Xander grinned. "Lorne's a nice guy. Dresses a bit louder than I do, but a nice guy."
"We need to go over the classification manuals," Dean decided, looking at Sam, who nodded quickly. Xander got down the first few and handed them over. "All of them?"
"The beginning set. The girls already know those and are working on the individual classes." He pointed at that shelf. "That's individual cases, clans, and other problem things that people have done in-depth studies on." He walked off after finding his own book. "Etta's here in an hour."
"Sure," Dean agreed, waving limply after him. He sat down to go over those books. There were whole types of demons they hadn't heard of. Sam sent that message to Willow, nearly getting brained by a book. Not the right book so he sent why he needed that one. She said to keep that one, it was frustrating her anyway, and sent the one they needed. It was something for him to go over. He didn't want his son to be cursed like he was. Dean looked over in the middle of reading. "There's a flesh eating species that's considered on the side of good. They only eat bad guys."
"Interesting but gross," Sam decided. He took the books, switching off with Dean. "Definitely gross."
Dean nodded, going over how to train people with various sight gifts.
Xander looked at his new secretary. "Etta, welcome to Miami."
"Thank you, Mr. Harris."
"Xander then." She smiled, bouncing until she realized it then she stopped herself. "I heard you had a problem with your last secretary?"
"She decided the last guy being in society was a role model I should follow. I disagreed. I'm a practical sort not a fanciful, society sort. Our hunters on staff are as well. So are our kids."
"I got told you had children. I'm not any good with them but I'll try not to scare them."
Xander nodded. "That'll work. They might try to con you into baking for them. If so, tell them no."
"I can't cook so I'll make sure they realize that." She smiled. "Were there other conflicts or just that one?"
"She thought Travers was the be all and end all of the universe. I knew what an asshat he was."
"My mother used to be his personal assistant so I heard."
"Good. Your desk is out there. The two tall guys are our staff hunter and head researcher for the local office. Dean's the hunter and shorter one. They have two of their own, Missy and Bobby."
"I can remember that."
Xander smiled. "We're looking for anything else the last guy, Preston, hid among our files. He killed a good number of people and we might need to hand over that information to the crime lab."
"Sam tries to live in the library. Dean and the kids try to make him take breaks now and then. Half the time my kids are upstairs in one of the emergency apartments watching cartoons or playing if they're not in here with me. The rest are in school."
"Should I go pick them up?"
"They won't let you. The school is picky about that." She nodded at that. "Some day I might add you to that list but I'll wait to see if we click first."
"That's only reasonable, Xander."
"Good. Otherwise, you do secretarial things for us. Make sure I see incoming information. Make sure anything going on with the girls is taken down. We have four girls in our region, one who's very much above the usual age. She hasn't come in to get tested or training but I know she is. She admitted one came looking for her when she was ten." Etta nodded at that. "It's not a hard job. I'm not mean unless the kids kept me up all night or someone does something totally stupid."
"Comfy. Reasonable if outsiders come in. The basic 'don't look like a ho' command. I'm not Giles. If you wanna wear heels, that's your thing, not mine."
"Understood." She smiled and relaxed some. "Coffee and those things?"
"Miami's incredibly hot," he reminded her. "We tend to drink a lot of soda." She nodded at that. "Beyond that, I can run out and get my own. I don't need a slave, Etta, just a helper."
"I'll do what I can. I hope I live up to expectations."
"I hope you don't try to ambush me like she did. She actually signed me up for a social event then didn't tell me."
"You sound a lot like Giles when you say that," he teased with a smile.
"I should. I'm distantly related to him." She walked out to check her desk over. "There's no pens."
"I don't mind computers, but there's a storage area behind you."
She went to get herself some. Then sat down to restraighten the desk out for her use. Someone was messy. She found all the day's paperwork waiting in the fax machine, bringing it to him, making him groan. "Paperwork makes every company and business go 'round," she said cheerfully.
"Doesn't mean I can't hate it," he shot back with a weak smile. "I hate being Giles' second some days." She gave him an awed look. "I'm the same Xander, yeah." She nodded, going back there. That apparently explained enough to her that she could do her job well enough. Xander got back to the dreaded paperwork that Giles had foisted off on him yet again. Some day soon he'd have to retire and make Giles do his own paperwork.
Missy cornered Bri on the playground to hiss in her ear. "We need to help Auntie Dawn and Uncle Sam."
Bri looked at her. "They'll be even more mad than our dads were."
"Not that sort of help, Bri. We need to put our girl powers to one of them so they notice the others."
"I don't think Auntie Dawn needs that help. She's very shopping and fashionable when she's not so tired from work."
"But Uncle Sam isn't."
"True. Your uncle can wear the same sort of ugly shirts my dad can." The teacher looked over. "We're plotting how to get our families joined so the pack's the strongest it can be," she offered with a grin.
The teacher stared for a moment. "Do your parents realize you're plotting?"
"Daddy's ignoring the fact that it is so a marriage when you lock him in a room with someone else," Missy told her.
"How about we talk to your parents for you?"
"That probably won't help," Bri told her, looking totally serious. "They're being stubborn and even more girlish than we are." The teacher snickered at that, walking off shaking her head to warn those poor parents. She looked at her best friend and grinned. "How should we start with Uncle Sam?"
"His hair or his clothes? I don't think nail polish will help him very much. Maybe some lipstick though. The tv said that lipstick makes people want to kiss you. All the girls who wear it get kissed. Daddy said that's why I can't even wear lip gloss."
Bri considered it then smiled. "We'll need some help since we're locked out of the armory."
"B'letta might help," Bobby suggested. They stared at him. "I'd like to see Dad happy and Auntie Dawn seems nice. Not like your dad's usual girlfriends, Missy."
"True. She's not a skanky ho." She looked at her partner in mischief. "Think she might?"
"I think she might if we ask really nicely. But we'll have to be away from the daddies to ask. They'll hear otherwise."
"We can do that." Missy smirked evilly. "Am, me, and Bobby all have to go shoe shopping later with Auntie Dawn."
"That may work," Bri agreed, looking around for her twin. She waved her over, making her trudge over. "We've got to work on Uncle Sam and Auntie Dawn."
Amanda looked at her. "I don't want spanked."
"All you have to do is ask B'letta to help us," Missy told her. "That way we get what we need to help them. I'd like to see them happy."
"So would I but Auntie Dawn will spank."
"Not if we make it subtle," Bri told her.
Amanda sighed. "I'll see if she'll come down to talk to us later when we're shoe shopping." She went to make her own plans so she could avoid being spanked this time. Daddy had gotten really mad the last time. Auntie Dawn would be worse since she was sleepy and grumpy recently.
Dawn looked at Sam as he wandered into the kitchen. "What are you doing over here, Sam?"
Sam blinked. "This isn't home."
"No, it's not," she said dryly. She stared at his face, then his hair, and then his nails. "Damn they're good. They got the good points of subtle makeup to highlight down very well from me."
Sam gave her a confused look. "Huh?"
Xander came out, giving Sam's back a funny look. "Why are you here.... Sam, have you looked in a mirror?" he asked when the other guy turned to look at him. He walked Sam to the bathroom and shut the door. "Tell Dean he's here?"
"Sure." She called over there. "Dean, Sam's here. The girls struck." She hung up. Dean walked in a few minutes later. She pointed at the bathroom. "He's been in there for ten minutes. They did really good highlighting his bone structure and his eyes."
Dean gave her a confused look, heading for the bathroom. "Sam?" he called. The door opened and he looked at his brother. His hair had been cut so it was short, spiky, and messy. Clearly they had tried really hard to make it cute. His eyes were lined with green eyeliner. His cheekbones had a hint of blush to highlight the structure of the bones. His lips had a nice red tinge to them. He looked at his nails, Missy's recent speciality. They were clear polished and cleaned up. "I'll go find Missy while Dawn finds Bri."
Sam looked at him. "Can you....."
"Yeah, I'll beat her so you don't beat her to death, Sammy." He walked off shaking his head. The cat got shoved off the car's roof as he walked past it. "Not on the car, cat. If you scratch it I'm using your tail to buff out the problems." He walked into the house. "Melissa Mary Winchester, I'd fucking hide," he shouted. He heard a male squeak, going to look at his nephew. "Did you have something to do with your father's new look?"
"Daddy needed a haircut?" he guessed.
Dean nodded. "Let's get you two breakfast out and a quick run to school so I don't have to see Sammy commit infanticide."
"What's that?" Bobby asked.
"That's where your dad is going to kill you. Maybe by the time the school day's done, he'll be calm enough to beat you without killing you both."
"It's club day, Uncle Dean."
"That might save you for a few more hours. I don't suggest you try to get away though. Get dressed, hit the car. Melissa, hit the car. Before your uncle finds you." She ran for the car in her pajamas. Dean got her the clothes she had laid out, handing them over. "Change quickly. Your aunt said you guys did a nice job on the makeup though."
"I did the nails," she said proudly.
"Don't worry, Bri's hiding too." She changed and got into the back. Bobby came out with their backpacks and climbed into the back too. Dean took them both to school via IHOP. It was safer to be away from Sammy right now. They met Xander's kids there too so he knew it was bad. Sammy would normally let Xander beat his own kids. "Sammy screaming?"
"No, he's very calm."
"That's a bad sign," Bobby agreed. "How did his hair turn out?"
"It looked really good," Adanne told him. "Spiky and cute."
"Thank you," he said, grinning at her.
"It won't save you from your dad killing you," Dean assured him. "Or Bri or Missy."
Xander looked at his daughter. "Nice makeup job on Sam's face, dear."
"Thank you. Auntie's magazines were very helpful."
"Maybe she should be grounded from anything but Shakespeare?" Dean suggested.
"If she could read it, I'd make her read all the old English authors that used to put us to sleep in school." He ate a bite then checked his watch. "Twenty minutes." They went back to eating. He looked at Dean. "Found Dawn's camera phone. They took multiple pictures."
"Think I can get one for later taunting?" he asked hopefully. Xander handed over her phone. "Won't she miss it?"
"She's off today and they know to call the house when she's off."
Dean looked at the pictures. Sam really did look good in the makeup. "Did you guys shave him too? I don't see any stubble."
"I used Auntie Dawn's electric razor," Missy said proudly.
"How did you keep him asleep?" Xander asked. "I know you guys didn't get into the sleeping gas again." A nearby table gave him a horrified look with their gasp. "Security system in case of intruders." He looked at them again. "Well?"
"B'letta helped," Bri said. "She thinks they'd be cute together too."
"She didn't seem evil when we met her," Dean quipped.
"I'll let Dawn talk to her," Xander said dryly. "Hurry up." They inhaled the rest of breakfast and headed for the school. He saw the concerned looking teacher. Missy and Bri didn't have their hair done and they were sloppily dressed. "We had to evacuate. They gave Bobby's dad a makeover while he slept."
"That bad?" she asked with a small smile. He showed her the picture, making her gape. "Oh, dear."
"Oh, yeah. We had breakfast out so he could scrub." He waved at the kids. "Be safe until Uncle Sam gets you guys." They all hurried inside. He couldn't get to them at school. "I know they have martial arts club today. I'll see them then."
"Of course, Mr. Harris. Oh, thank you for those books."
"Not a problem. My kids have outgrown them. Even the younger three." He smiled and walked off, heading to the office. He walked past his secretary's desk. "Etta, Sam's going to be late. If you need him badly, call him at home."
"I can do that." She made that note, getting back to the paperwork that had come from all over the globe. When Sam came in she smiled. "I didn't know you were getting a haircut. It looks nice, Sam."
"I'll remember not to cut my son's fingers off for doing it while I slept. Xander in?"
"Yes he is." She smiled once he was gone. His son had good ideas. The shorter hair looked nice on him.
Xander looked up. "Missed some of the lipstick."
"It won't come off." He leaned down. "Did you beat them yet?"
"No. We're letting you beat them after martial arts today."
"They used Dawn's phone. Dean has one, I have one. I haven't sent it on but I did tell Buffy to yell at her minion for the makeover idea. Bri did do a very good job on your makeup."
"She did. Bobby did my hair?" Xander grinned but nodded. "Think it'd be okay if we did a seance upstairs?"
"Sure, go ahead," he said with a grin. "I'm sure your mom would love to yell at him."
"No, this requires lack of tact. Dad can yell at them. Thanks." He went up to set things up. When it was time, he went to pick the kids up too. They tried to run back inside. "I will kill you all even if you didn't help them. Into the van." They fled for the van. The three who were in trouble got into the very last seat. They thought it'd save them but they were wrong. He walked them all up to their former apartment, setting off the summoning circle. His father slowly faded in, looking confused. "Dad, these are your grandchildren," he said, pushing them forward. "And their best friend." He pushed her forward to. "The rest of you scram if you didn't help." They fled. They knew Sam would kill them. Sam showed him the picture he had taken earlier. "While I was sleeping to set me up with Briony's aunt."
"I was going to tell you I liked the new haircut. A bit fussy but cute," John said, looking at the guilty looking children. "Whose bright idea was this?" Missy slowly raised her hand. He looked at the picture then at his granddaughter. "Didn't your father have you baptized?" She nodded. "Are you possessed?"
He smirked. "Being cute won't help you any. Dean tried that too. It usually meant he got spanked for longer." She shrank back. "That won't save you either, Melissa."
"You've been watching over us, Grandfather?" Bobby asked.
He nodded. "I've seen you both grow into good children. Even when Melissa is a bit evil." He looked at Bri. "I've seen you recently. Usually you're not that mean."
"The pack needs to be stronger," Missy told him, looking totally convinced. "We married Daddy and Uncle Xander together by locking them in a room. They're ignoring it but we did."
"They even slept together because we used sleeping gas," Bri added.
John looked at Sam. "You tried, son."
"If you can't straighten them out, I'm going to wear their asses out worse than you did when you caught me and my friends using paintballs on your truck."
"Trying to kill your children isn't really permitted unless you're switching sides, son," John told him.
"I don't care right now. We've tried everything else. You're the last resort before I beat the living shit out of them."
"Why do I suddenly feel like the good cop?" John asked.
Sam just smirked. "Dean and Xander evacuated them so I'd have time to calm down."
Dean came off the elevator, nodding at his father. "Missy, homework?"
"It won't matter," Sam told him with an evil grin. "She won't be alive for class tomorrow anyway if Dad can't stop them."
"Sam, I don't want to have to knock up some beach ho to get a new daughter. I doubt she could be nearly as evil as this one is."
"Hey!" Missy complained, stomping a foot.
Bri looked at him. "You're married to my daddy. If you do that, that's cheating and wrong," she told him, looking totally serious.
"I'm starting to see the problem," John said. "They're more stubborn than you both were combined."
"Think they'll give them to Mom?" Sam asked him.
John nodded. "Possibly." He sighed. "Boys, let me talk to them?" They went to sit on the couch. He had managed to out-stubborn and straighten out his boys. He could hopefully do it to his grandchildren. Before some demon thought they were related and tried to claim them. He carefully countered each argument the kids made. He had learned to reason with Sammy's stubborn nature. But when it got to the point of mule-headedness he looked at his sons. "Sammy, you're wearing a belt, right?"
"I won't stop, Dad. That's why you're here."
"I'm sure you will," John complained.
Sam shook his head. "No I won't. I won't have my son going that evil. Or my niece. Xander's going to beat his own for me later."
"Now I see why you called Dad," Dean said.
"He should have called your mother. She might be able to get through to the girls. It seems that your son was only helping them, Sammy. Plus the haircut does look nice."
"Doesn't mean he should talk to a demon to get help knocking me out so he could do it."
"No, that part he does deserve punishment for. Even if she's a nice demon." He glared at Bobby, who shrugged and pointed at Missy. "You two are nearly as much trouble as your fathers."
"My daddy's perfect," Bobby complained. "If he's not it's because you weren't good to him."
"Hey!" Dean shouted.
"I can see that infamous Winchester stubbornness got passed on undiluted," John said dryly. "No, Bobby, I didn't screw up. All humans are imperfect. Not that you should have to realize that about your father already but he's human so therefore he has failings. One of his was his mule-headedness." Bobby glared at him. "I definitely need Mary for this talk." He was having the same urge to beat the kids his son was. "She spanked your daddies first. She should get the first real beating of the grandchildren."
"She did?" Sam asked.
"You tried to eat an ant trap, son. It was only a swat." He looked at his grandchildren again. He could definitely see why his son had called him back to talk to them.
Xander came off the elevator, tossing a picture into the same summoning circle, bringing back two females. "Ladies, your daughter and friend has warped these kids. First my daughter and then she warped these two other children," he told the older woman and young adult. "It's gotten down to the point of beating them senseless and I don't want to turn into my family."
Joyce Summers looked at the kids then at him. "It looks like they're just as stubborn as you are, Xander." She smiled.
"Apparently they're worse."
Tara nodded. "We've seen. We were giggling over the marriage thing."
Xander smirked. "Now they're working on Dawn and this one's daddy," he said, pointing at Bobby's head. "By giving him a very good makeover. I need experienced parent advice. Before I start wailing on their asses."
Joyce smiled then nodded. "We can talk to them, Xander. First these three then the others of yours." She beamed at the little girl. "I'm Buffy's mother, dear."
"Auntie Buffy taught me many important girl things you taught her," Bri said happily.
"I noticed that. You dress like her." She floated closer, pulling the children over to talk to them. Clearly the grandfather wasn't getting it done well enough. Tara helped by backing her up. Bobby sighed at the girl discussion but Joyce drew him back in and helped him see that they were making the adults more stubborn so it'd never happen. Then they went over the concept of subtlety.
John looked at his boys. "She's good."
"Her daughter's the senior slayer that was a shopping auntie for my girls," Xander said smugly. "She's the good parental role model I had."
"So they should meet anyway so the future in-laws can meet," Missy said happily.
John burst out laughing. "Melissa, you're very stubborn. Even more so than your father at your age."
She beamed. "Thank you."
"You're also grounded. No tv, no playing."
"So? I can read. Uncle Xander showed us what fun books are."
"And no fun books either. Only homework, young lady." She huffed.
"Oh, don't worry, some of mine will have that same restriction," Xander promised. "Or maybe I'll let them work their way through lesser classical literature."
"Your children already read a lot," Joyce told him. "You did good with them, Xander." He beamed. "This.... this is clearly worse than my girls were." She looked at Bri. "Dear, even if they did sleep next to each other, it's not the same as sleeping together. That's an adult activity that takes longer than a few minutes."
"Not on the soaps Adanne and Buffy watch," Bri pouted.
"Clearly she taught you some bad girl habits too," Tara quipped. "Soaps aren't real, Briony."
She sighed. "Still, it doesn't take that long."
"It does when you're married and like it," Joyce said dryly. "If they were really married then they'd be in the same house as well."
The girls both pouted. "Marriage is too important to rush," Tara chided. "It should be built on love, not on the pack. The pack can expand and still keep you two and your parents. Xander needs more pack members."
"But if they're married then we won't have to leave them and we'll always be pack even if the daddies do take us hunting again," Missy told him.
"Dear, you'll be part of the pack even then," Xander assured her. "Even if your dads totally piss me off, you'll still be pack members."
Missy looked at him. "Promise?"
"Yup." He gave her a hug. "It doesn't mean I don't want to beat you but now and then I want to beat my own kids for doing stupid things too."
She beamed at her grandfather. "See, he's good."
"Uh-huh. Your daddy should still spank some of the evilness out of you, Melissa."
She pouted. "I'm not that bad."
"Even the most evil of Winchesters never plotted to get his relatives married off," Dean told her.
"I tried to set Dad up once but you caught me and stopped me," Sam reminded him. "She was a nice librarian."
"They're more sneaky than you two were," John told him. "They have backup."
Xander smirked. "My girls are very sneaky and have learned my planning skills."
Bri nodded. "Someone has to make plans around the house so the kids don't overrun daddy. That's one reason why we need a step-parent. Even though B'letta's nice some day she'll have to pick her people over her family so we don't want that. It would hurt daddy if he had to kill her. We love her as an auntie anyway. That's why Uncle Dean would make the perfect stepmommy. They like the same things. They both hunt bad things. They like guns."
"Plus then I'd have a non-skanky ho stepmommy," Missy added. "Because one would teach me how to be one too. I don't think I can roller skate."
"You can roller blade already," Xander reminded her.
"Yes but Bri's kept me from the booty shorts so I can't turn into a girl that daddy would like," she said firmly. "She's saved me from a lifetime of booty shorts and tight shirts."
Dean groaned, covering his face with his hands. "Missy," he whined. Sam patted him on the back with a smirk. "She learned that from you, Sammy. Quit smirking," he said without having to look.
"I'd offer you Dawn but she's not that much into roller skates," Joyce joked.
"No, she fits very well with Uncle Sam," Bri told her. "They're both very smart and do researchy stuff plus they like to work on computers and those things. They fit very well. That's why we gave Uncle Sam the makeover. So Auntie Dawn would notice him more."
"She does notice him. Sam doesn't realize when she's flirting," Xander told her. "She needs to be less subtle on her days off." He looked at her. "She's doing very good but they work hellish hours."
"I know." She looked at Bri. "They're not a bad match. It's still wrong to force them together, dear. They'll get together if they're meant to be together."
"Parents always need help. The movies Auntie Dawn watched with us had kids who helped their parents get together."
"You won't be seeing tv for nearly a year so don't worry about it," Xander said dryly.
Joyce laughed. "That's mean, Xander."
He shrugged. "I can't figure out anything short of beating them, Joyce."
"I know, dear." She looked at John, who was shooting amused looks at his boys. "They do have good taste."
"If my boys want to settle down with hunters, that's up to them."
"You do realize that the old Council died and the new Council is much nicer?" Xander said dryly. John glared at him. "We are. And more practical. Most of us were actually in the field." He smirked. "We're mostly the remains of the Sunnydale crew."
"You're a watcher?"
"I'm second in command," he said dryly. "And I used to back up the slayers in Sunnydale."
"At least you hunted," he said dryly. "You don't dismiss other hunters, right?"
"Nope. If they want to take some of the burden more power to them. If they need help learning stuff or researching stuff I'm all for it."
"We signed on while we're in Miami, Dad. That way they pay tuition for a good school," Sam told them. "Plus a paycheck and free housing."
"That'll be handy when you go back on the road," he said dryly.
Bobby glared. "No more traveling for a while. We need friends to grow up good people instead of bastards."
"Language," Sam snapped.
Bobby looked at him. "I could've said miserable, friendless, homicidal bastards."
"And that added another two weeks to whatever grounding you have, son."
John looked at Sam. "He's like your clone."
Sam grimaced. "Often."
"Xander even turned the kids into book nerds," Dean agreed. "My daughter read a book instead of watching tv with me last night, Dad."
He looked at her. "Good. That'll make you smarter when it's your turn."
She grimaced. "Hunting means slime and other gross stuff, Granddaddy. Eww."
Xander snorted. "It can, yeah," he agreed at Joyce's dirty look.
"More often than not," she agreed dryly. "You would not believe some of the stuff I managed to get out of my daughter's laundry."
"We had more blood than slime," John told her.
"Buffy always seemed to have slime from slaying."
Xander nodded. "Thankfully you left notes for Dawn so we could teach the mini slayers."
Joyce smiled. "You've done a good job, Xander." He smiled. "But I'm about to suggest spanking too."
Xander nodded. "Which is what I've been trying to avoid. Is it just being in Miami? I know a good portion of the city can be shallow now and then. Is it some sort of localized radiation?"
"No. It's all the expectations of being pretty all the time," Tara told him.
Xander sighed. "Maybe I should've taken over Houston then."
"You'd die in that heat," Joyce told him. "Plus I don't think you want the girls to have a truck with a gun rack eventually?"
Xander shrugged. "If they have to."
John huffed. "Not everyone from Texas has a pickup truck," he said dryly. "Dallas is the most hip city in the south."
"It's the New York of the South with Atlanta," Dean agreed.
Joyce smiled. "Xander likes country music. The girls would have a pickup with a gun rack. So would he."
"You can't fit eight kids in one," Xander said dryly.
"Eight?" Joyce demanded.
"You guys didn't see the youngest three either?" he asked with a grin.
She sighed. "Good point. I'm sorry they're driving you insane, Xander."
Tara giggled. "They're good kids most of the time."
Xander nodded. "Thankfully."
Joyce sighed. "I'd give you a hug but I can't. You might suck me in too," she teased.
He smirked. "Buffy would be very pissed at me if you possessed me, Joyce."
"Dawn might tear you apart trying to get her out," Dean countered.
"Possibly," Joyce agreed, looking at the two little girls again. Clearly the Winchesters had no idea what to do about willful girls. Xander was used to spoiled girls, and had prevented his from being spoiled, but they were so warped from it. She sighed and moved closer to look at both girls, drawing them off to the side to talk to just them while John got Bobby. Though Tara scowled at one thing and took over for him. Clearly the boy needed a maternal influence. Her daughter would do good at that.
Dawn came off the elevator, staring at her for a moment. "Did they lock Xander and Dean in a room again?"
"They're keeping me from beating the kids over their plan to hitch us together the same way," Sam said with a grin. "That's my dad."
"That's my mom." She looked at Xander. "Why call Mom back?"
"Because two of them are spoiled girls? She's kinda used to girls."
"Yeah, if she could pull Buffy's head out of her ass, she could probably handle Missy and Bri." Xander just grinned. "Anyway," she decided. "Etta's worried that we're doing black magic up here. Let me reassure her and let Adanne know." She went to do that before her mother got mushy and the girls talked her into their insane plans too. Not that she didn't like Sam.... She walked off the elevator. "They did a summoning circle to get some more experienced parents to talk to the kids, Etta."
"Sam and Dean's father, my mother, and Tara."
Etta whimpered. "So magic?"
"Just a seance. Mom's trying to convince the girls I can do my own wooing." She looked up. "I'm perfectly capable of tying him down if I want to, Mom," she called. "Remind them of that. All strong women can. I was trying for subtle." She looked at Adanne. "My mom and Tara are talking to them." The other girls squealed and headed up there. "Caleb, Everett, so's Sam and Dean's daddy." They went up to talk to them too. It was pretty cool to talk to the ghosts. She looked at Etta. "Thanks."
"Welcome. They're sweet little future research giants." Dawn smirked at that. "I've never seen a child that went for a book that fast. Outside of Wesley but he wanted to play outside at that age."
"Xander owned a bookstore in Cleveland. They spent a lot of time there with him."
"Ah. No wonder."
"He makes them watch cartoons with him too."
She smiled. "Hoping they'll be nerds like him?"
"Probably, yeah." She went back to the elevator. "Let me go talk my mom out of Bri's latest evil genius plan. Let us know if you need help."
"I can do that. Tell Xander to call Talia in Orlando?"
"I can do that. Major bigs or just minor ones?"
"She needed some support for a hunt tonight."
"I can do that." She went back up there. "Xander, call Talia. She needs backup."
"I can go," Dean told her. "Sammy, can you babysit and not beat them all to death?"
"If not, I can. I'm off tonight," she assured him, taking her phone back from Xander's pocket. She showed her mom and Tara a picture. They both giggled and smiled at Sam. "Remember, girls. All strong women can hunt down their own man and trap him like the wild animal she wants him to be. While I like Sam, he's been ignoring any flirting of mine so that's all on him. Clearly not macho enough for me."
Missy poked him. "If Uncle Xander wasn't married to Daddy I'd let you tame Daddy so he didn't need a skanky ho."
Dawn smiled. "They're not married and I doubt Dean wants me, Missy. Or he would've made himself clear about that already."
"You're cute and all but your brain scares me," Dean said with a smirk.
"Thanks, really." She pouted. "I'm not that smart. Not like I'm in the top ten in medical schools. I'm like thousands of others every year that get to this point."
"Shut up, Dawn. You are so smart," Xander told her. "Before I have to spank you."
She stuck her tongue out. "Try it, Xander."
He grabbed her and swatted her, making the kids 'oooh' and wince. "You were saying?" he asked, staring her down.
"Mean shit. I should give you food poisoning so I have a case I can study." She got free of him, going to sit between the two hunters. "Save me?" she asked, batting her eyes at them.
"Sure," Dean agreed.
John shook his head. "You're going insane, boys."
"You know, the monks could've made me one of yours instead," Dawn quipped with a smile.
Joyce looked at her. "They wouldn't have been able to stop her either."
"They were always traveling. She wouldn't have found me."
"That is a good point," Xander admitted.
"Huh?" John asked.
"Monks made her to house an artifact that a hell goddess wanted," he told him. "They gave her to us to protect."
John just nodded. "She'd have been Sammy's first child then. Because only he gets into those sort of things."
Joyce pinched him. "They made her be my first daughter's sister because she's a slayer. Xander was our trouble magnet and she didn't get given to him."
"So, see, could've had a sudden teenage daughter," Dawn quipped with a grin.
"You would've driven us nuts beating all your boys up," Dean told her, looking serious. "You'd still be a virgin and you'd be a shotgun toting woman who probably wanted to steal my car too."
John shuddered suddenly. "Don't tempt the Powers, Dean." He looked at the grandchildren again. They were watching him. "What?"
"Tell us about hunting something?" Paka asked. "We need to hear more stories so we know how to hunt things when we're bigger slayers and it's our turn."
John blinked. "You're a slayer?" Xander nodded, pointing at his three. "Why are there so many active?"
"The First Evil," Xander said dryly. "Willow had to."
John blinked then looked at his boys. "We weren't anywhere near that," Sam told him. "That was Sunnydale, Dad. That's why everyone else is in Cleveland."
He shook his head quickly but told them a tamer story about hunting down a werewolf that was eating cows. Xander butted in to talk about sedating them if they usually locked themselves up, but that was a difference of opinion. He didn't know any that locked themselves up. The kids cheered at the end and begged for another one. Tara told them one about hunting something that had gone on up at the college. Joyce shared stories about her daughter's hunts that she had been told. It was good for the kids to hear from them. Grandparents helped when you had really bright, slightly evil children to raise.
Xander looked at Dean when he came back around midnight. "Go okay?"
"Lots and lots of zombies," he said, flopping down. Xander grimaced. "But she handled it well."
"Thank you. I helped train her since she hadn't been found before. She had almost no hand-to-hand when she got activated."
"Welcome." He looked around. "Sleepovers are allowed when they're grounded?"
"Dawn got called in for a major car accident that got all the other interns summoned. Sam's knocked out." Dean quirked up an eyebrow. "Slight vision about a demon going around to attack cemeteries. Easily taken care of."
"Good to know. When do you want to get it?"
"Tomorrow night good? I can handle it but that'll mean someone will have to watch my holy terrors since she's on."
"I can do that," Dean promised. "Any luck breaking up the unholy alliance?"
"Nope," Xander said dryly. "Unfortunately." He shifted, putting his feet up. "Bobby's in bed with Caleb and Sauda. She climbed in earlier to protect him."
"Bobby or Caleb?"
"Caleb." Xander gave him an odd look. "How did we talk to your dad earlier when she's in bed?"
"I was wondering that. I'm thinking there was some time blinking since he looked really old and he wasn't when he died."
"Ah." He nodded. "Good to know." He shifted again. "Missy's in Bri's closet on her sleeping bag. She said she was grounded and sleeping next to her best friend wasn't going to be allowed so she was going to be good so you wouldn't have to spank her. A direct quote."
Dean grinned. "I love my little hellion." He stood up. "Let me gather them." Xander nodded, going to help him. He grabbed Missy gently and carried her off while Xander got Bobby. They were put back into bed by Dean, who tucked them in. Then Xander went home so he could sleep. Dean hit his own bed. It was a school day tomorrow so they had to get up early.
Sam opened his door the next morning and nearly tripped over the cat who was staring at him. "What?" he asked, still a bit cranky. "Did they do it again?" He went to check. No makeup this morning. That was nice. He picked up the cat to stare at her. "We're not witches, cat. Be a familiar for someone else." He put her back outside and went to start breakfast. "Food!" he called ten minutes later. The rest of the family got up and trudged in to eat with him. "The hunt?" Sam asked Dean once he had some coffee.
"Demon in the cemetery?"
"Easy. Killed by fire."
Dean nodded. "Cool, we'll get it later. Xander said he didn't need backup."
Sam snorted. "He's not Superman. No matter how often he tries to prove it." He took another drink of his coffee. "How did we see Dad? I didn't even think about that before I started the summoning."
"No clue. He asked the same thing," Dean admitted. He noticed Bobby staring. "Later discussion, kiddo. Eat. School in a few." Bobby inhaled his breakfast and went to get dressed. Missy finished and went to do the same with the usual morning fight with her hair. She finally gave up and presented her father with her brush and two matching ponytail holders. He fixed it for her, making her a happier girl again. Then they all piled into the Impala to go to school. The daddies came home to get another hour of sleep before work. It had been a long night for them.
Xander looked up at the kids trooping in. "We're got good news. Adanne is now out of a booster seat. So more room back there."
"That's no fair," Paka pouted, arms crossed over her chest. "Why doesn't she have to sit in one?"
"The state says she's big enough to not need it," he said with a grin.
"When will we be big enough?" Amanda asked. "I feel like a baby in a car seat."
"You have to be over so many pounds or of a certain height." He stood Adanne against the wall, marking it. "When you're that tall, you guys can get out of your booster seats."
They all tried themselves against the mark but had to pout. "We need a growth spurt soon," Amanda told him.
"They'll come. They always do." She sighed but went to do her homework. Xander grinned at Adanne. "What do we want for dinner?"
"I don't care. As long as it's not beans. It's all good, Daddy." She gave him a hug and went to get her homework from Paka. They were in the same class. "Did anything happen today?"
"Not really. The teacher was amused that you had a doctor's appointment." She shrugged and handed over the assignment sheet. "That's due Friday. The other stuff is due on their days." They got to work on their homework. Second grade was hard!
Dean strolled in. "Are we marking their heights now?" he asked, seeing the dark mark on the wall.
"That's the height they have to be to get out of their booster seats. Adanne made it today."
"Missy and Bobby have a few more growth spurts before then. Unfortunately. The Impala looks strange with baby seats in the back."
Xander grinned. "It can, yeah." He got back to work on dinner. It finally went into the oven and he went to change clothes. "Guys, I've got to hunt tonight. Dean's feeding you guys."
"I can go," Dean offered. "Let Sammy feed 'em."
"That would give the kids time together to plot more things."
Dean smirked. "They can do that at school. They did last time."
"Good point." He shrugged. "If you really want to, you can. As long as Sam agrees."
Dean called over there. "Let us feed the horde then go do that demon. Can you evil thing sit?" He smirked. "Thanks, Sammy." He hung up. "He said that's fine. He was nuking frozen stuff for ours."
Xander smirked, pulling the food out to start plating it up. "Eat or starve," he called. His kids ran out to dig in. When they were done he looked them over. "We've got to get a demon. You guys are being babysat by Sam. Behave tonight or else." They all sighed but nodded. "If we're good, I'll let you guys earn back enough time to go to the Namibian heritage thing this weekend." They cheered, going to get their homework so they could troop that way. Sam liked helping them with homework.
Paka stopped next to Xander to hug him. "Be safe. You're not a slayer." She gave Dean the same hug and advice. "Do you think Sam can help us with a paper on our family's histories?"
Xander shrugged. "Probably but you know as much as I do, Paka."
"The teacher said that's not good enough."
"Your teacher and I can talk tomorrow." She nodded, smiling before skipping off to get Sam's help. He looked at Dean. "You sure you want to help?"
"Better safe than a trip to the ER, dude." Xander nodded, following him out to the Impala. The cat got to be tossed off her again and they left. "Damn cat," Dean muttered as he backed into the driveway. Xander just laughed. The Winchester vs. Cat battles were cute to watch.
Xander tapped on the teacher's door the next morning. "Do you have a few?"
"Of course. Which student is yours, sir?"
"Adanne and Paka." The teacher looked shocked. "Yes, I adopted them," he said dryly.
"Oh, I see. I know that's fashionable."
"I adopted them as infants, long before it was fashionable, lady. That's not why I adopted those three little holy terrors." He walked in and looked at her. "You're upsetting my girls by not accepting that they know about their native heritage but not their actual families. Mostly because their families were dead when I adopted them as infants." She gave him a horrified look. "Halla's the only one of those three that have a living parent and her native tribal enclave is having a bit of a civil war problem going on around them."
"I didn't know that."
"Yet, Paka said she told you," he said dryly.
She cleared her throat. "They don't know their natural parents?"
"The other two's mothers died. One died after I got to their village to help them. The other right before I got there to help. Which is why their people had me adopt the girls."
"They had....why would they have you adopt them?"
"Because their shaman saw something special in them and knew I could give them a good life, with survival training, so they could do impressive things with their futures." He smirked. "I was over there for work reasons. I got caught up in the fights around their villages and a few others too."
"I see." She looked at him. "It's most unusual."
"You can't tell me half of the kids in your class know more than their grandparents exist, lady. The sort of kids you have in here don't go beyond 'mommy's shallow and grandma doesn't like it' most of the time. My girls are real informative when asked. All kids are." He smirked a bit. "They're natural parrots."
She cleared her throat again. "I can see letting them talk more about their natural village. It was meant as an exercise to let them do a class presentation on a subject that they knew fairly well so they wouldn't be as nervous. They need to learn how to give oral reports."
"My girls can already do oral book reports."
"I've noticed your girls seem to be voracious readers."
"I used to own a bookstore. Some of those went to the kindergarten class with the younger set."
"You have more than the two?"
"Yeah, I have eight." She whimpered. "They're good kids. We handle it. Some mornings it's a madhouse but most of the time it's all right. But I won't have you dissing my girls for being adopted. I'm sure they're not the only ones."
"I can let them do it on their adopted family if they want."
Xander shrugged. "Take that up with them. Paka was worried that she couldn't do this assignment last night."
"I can talk to both girls later about that. I know another girl is adopted as well, Mr. Harris." He nodded at that. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Have you realized that Paka tends to .... get a bit dirty?"
"Actually, Adanne is our gardener. Paka's been helping Missy and Bri recently with their evil plans to set me up with someone."
"She's come in a bit dirty."
Xander stared at her. "She takes a bath every morning."
"Biracial," Xander told her. "That's probably her natural color with a tan. She tends toward lion colored skin when she tans."
"Ah, that may be it," she said, letting him dodge that one. "Should I be delicate about any other issues? Like them being on scholarship?"
"Really? How do you afford the tuition with eight children?"
Xander smirked. "I work for a living, the same as you do. Only I work in a higher paid job than most teachers do. I work for a research council."
"Oh, I see."
"I'm the second-in-command."
"That explains a lot about your girls. Are you sure you want to keep them in that martial arts club?"
"Yes. I want my girls able to protect themselves if something should try to grab them. It has happened in the past and I did teach my girls some before they went there. He's more used to teaching younger students than I was. I'm used to working on self-defense with teenagers. Them and my coworkers' children are doing quite well in there."
"I suppose that's a good idea but Miami's a fairly safe city."
"It's still a city that has over a hundred pedophiles registered and my girls would be a target if they try to go after the people I work for. We're the only office with children. That's why I want my kids to be protected. Even if there wasn't a work-related danger, rarely, I'd want them able to protect themselves and others from those shitheads who like to hurt little kids."
"I can definitely see that point," she decided. "Thank you for not being confrontational."
"I won't be unless you are."
She nodded. "Are the girls going to the embassy event this weekend?"
"They're presently grounded for being brats but if they're good they can all go. I might even help cook."
She nodded. "That's very interesting."
"The things you learn when you're in Africa for nearly a year," he said dryly. "Thank you. The girls are out there playing right now." He walked off, finding the principal yelling at Halla. "What did you do?" he asked dryly.
"Nothing," she said with a pout.
He looked at the principal. "What happened?"
"A young boy picked on her so she shoved him."
"He had a knife!"
"He doesn't have one on him," she said impatiently.
Xander looked at the little boy. "Where is it?" The boy glared. He stared back, staring him down until he burst out crying and pulled it out of his sock to toss at his feet. The kid's mother gave him a horrified look. He looked at her. "I have eight. Two of them are boys."
"Now and then my girls like to make evil plans." He grinned at his daughter. "What did I tell you about bullies?"
"Turn them in," she said with a pout. "They didn't believe me, Daddy."
He patted her on the head, looking at the principal, who was staring at the boy. "Is she in trouble for shoving him? I know it breaks the no-violence rules."
"No," the mother said. "My son is in trouble however. How did you get your father's knife?" she asked her son.
"She's bad and wrong!" he shouted, pointing at the girl. "She's a freak."
Xander cleared his throat. "Technically, all humans are freaks because none of us are the same. If we were, things would be very boring, wouldn't it?"
"My daddy said people like her should be put down before they muddy things."
The principal held up a hand. "That is enough. I will not allow racial bias in this school." She looked at Xander. "You know that."
"I've ran into it before," he promised with a small smile. "It happens. There's unopened minds everywhere. Fortunately in the minority." She smiled. "Is Halla in trouble?"
"No. Halla, please go to your classroom. We'll talk later."
Xander looked at her. "You okay? Shaky or anything?"
"No, Daddy. I only shoved him because there were a few other kids with me. I didn't want him to hurt them. So I put him down like the martial arts teacher said."
He nodded. "Next time, scream for a teacher," he said firmly. "Let her take the weapon. I do not want you or the others hurt. They pay teachers to handle this stuff."
"Yes, Daddy." He gave her a hug. "I'm okay."
"You'd better be. We'll talk after school?" She smiled and ran off for her classroom. "Let me know if we need to have another parent-teacher conference?"
"Did you?" the principal asked, looking tired.
"Family project and the oldest three are adopted."
"Ah, that one. I can see the problem."
Xander nodded. "We worked it out. Let me know if we need more help. Or if the Winchesters do. I'm going to work if she has problems."
"That's fine. I'll call Beth."
"New secretary, Etta. Beth tried to sabotage the office a little bit."
"That's good to know," she said. He grinned and walked off.
"It's nice he wasn't pushy. I would've been screaming at the other parent," the mother admitted.
"He's very calm. All his children are very well behaved, well read, and mannered. We adore the children he has." She walked them to the office, picking up the knife on the way. They apparently had things to talk about.
Xander looked out when his secretary hit the button for him on the phone. "I'm right here, Etta. I'm ignoring the reports in favor of reading to the youngest three." The woman out there huffed in. "Social worker, huh? Let me guess, the second grade teacher at my children's school turned me in for facing her down about not liking that my oldest three are adopted?"
"She thought it was odd a single man has eight children."
Xander pulled out the file he had on the children. "This is their formal adoption papers, the papers leaving me the youngest three from one of my ex's when she died, and the birth certificate of my other two."
She looked it over. "You keep this here?"
"I keep a copy here, one at home, and one in the car in case something happens. I know very well some people are idiots who don't believe white boys like me can have kids who're black."
Sauda tugged on her wrist. "Can he read to us while you do that? He's halfway through the story."
"He can," she agreed.
"Thank you." She smiled at her father. "More Latin bunny rabbits?"
"Sure," he promised, going back to reading to them in Latin. They were quickly learning it and it made them giggle when he made hopping motions with his hands to illustrate.
The social worker stared at him. "You're reading to them in Latin?"
"Yes. My oldest ones can speak and mostly read Latin, Swahili, and English. I know a few others and they'll learn them as they get older." He smiled. "We're a research council. We have a lot of books in Latin around here." He went back to the story, making the boys grin again. He finished and they clapped. "Now, you three pick a book to work on so we can work on your reading." They ran to do that. He looked at her. "Library's up the hall and my two coworkers are in there right now."
"They don't mind them bursting in there?"
"Their own children do the same when they want new reading materials." He saw the book they were bringing back. "That's above your reading level, kids."
"Uncle Sam said to hand you this so you could read the bookmarked page," Sauda said with a smile. They ran back to get a new book.
Xander opened it to read the section he had marked with a post-it. Then he grimaced. That didn't look good. He typed out an email to Giles' secretary. It looked like someone was going to try to take out Buffy. Then he closed the book again. "Sorry, slight info leak that got noted." He leaned on the book. "What else did you need to see?"
"You have them listed as triplets but their birth dates vary some."
"I have no idea. She said they were her triplets. Her lawyer said they were her triplets when he signed over custody after her death. I've been treating them like triplets since that's how they were raised. I don't know. I don't really care. I know she didn't steal them or anything."
"It's highly unusual."
Xander shrugged. "We're the Watchers Council. We're used to unusual."
She froze, staring at him. "You're like Prestons?"
"Without killing people, yes. He killed a lot of people as we found out."
She swallowed. "I met him socially over one of the local girls once."
"Carma's in Thailand with her mentor. I'm the one who got her away from her mother and her mother's gang friends."
"That was nice work."
"Are these your *children*?"
"Yes. All of them. The new council doesn't do things like the old one. They were assholes. We're not."
"That's good to know. How is your housing done?"
"We've taken over the old head's property. The main house had to be destroyed because it had walls with body parts. My coworkers took one building, I took the larger one. The kids share rooms but it's generally well set up for them to play and live in. It's big enough for us and my adopted little sister. She's a medical school student doing internship rotations."
"If she can't, we three adults who work here take turns. As you can see, the youngest three usually come to work with me. We have two safe apartments upstairs for them to play and nap in. I saw them get on the elevator so they headed up to one of them, probably to watch cartoons. We stayed there until we found out the housing was good."
"That's reasonable I suppose." She looked at the youngest three's papers again then at him. "Cleveland?"
"That's where we were until something attacked. Then I moved them to a safer location and took over this office since it was empty and we needed someone here."
"Again, reasonable," she decided.
"I'm a highly overprotective parent. That's why all my kids know how to defend themselves. The ones in school are going to the school's martial arts club. The younger ones will be taught the same way. Also gun safety, sword safety, crossbow safety, all that stuff."
"That's probably reasonable with your job."
Xander nodded. "Sometimes," he agreed dryly, smiling some. "I try very hard to keep them out of it."
"A good idea. It was reported your daughter is a bit dirty some mornings?"
"I don't think it's dirt. I think the teacher's not really used to biracial children who tan. Halla, the younger of the oldest three, turns about lion colored. Paka, the one she was complaining about earlier, is too fashionable to ever be that dirty. Adanne likes to garden so she might be now and then since the school has flowerbeds she can help weed before classes. Beyond that, Paka does tan sometimes. You're more than welcome to talk to the girls at the school. I'll send one of my coworkers with you so they can't feel threatened. The main office worked very closely with the social workers in Cleveland when new girls came in that needed help."
"It's good you don't get too huffy."
He smiled. "I know you're doing your job. I have no problem with those doing their jobs. The ones who hunt out things because they're vindictive and want to ruin lives, I've got a real problem with."
"I'm not like that. I have too much work as is."
"Most of you do," he agreed with a small smile. "I can ask Sam to go with you if you'd like to talk to the girls or they're coming here after school if you'd prefer. Either is fine with me. I know Halla's had a bad day since another kid threatened her earlier. She shoved him because he had a knife."
"Oh, dear. It was handled?"
"As far as I know. The principal handled it."
"Good." She smiled. "I don't think I should need to. Can I check on that one?"
"Of course. Want Sam to go with you?"
He called the library. "The social worker got told that some of the girls were dirty by their teacher. Paka actually, Sam. Can you take her to the school and sit with the kids?" He smiled. "Thank you. I saw them hit the elevator and I know it's time for Smurfs. Thanks." He hung up. "That's fine. He can pick up the others at the same time." Sam walked in so he dug out his van's keys. "Here you go. Thanks, Sam."
"Not a problem. Our dad got called on a few times for being a single father too." He smiled at the social worker, turning on the Winchester charm. "All of the girls or specific girls?"
"Can I talk to all of them?"
"If you need to," Xander assured her. "Do watch out, the ones in kindergarten are plotting evilly to get me together with Sam's brother. They've finally been convinced locking us in a room together isn't marrying us."
She laughed. "That's cute."
"Not to us," Xander said dryly but he was smiling some. "But they reasoned it out very well. I was impressed with that part."
"The kids like making evil plots and some of the girls like doing makeovers," Sam told her. "Shall we? School's nearly out for the day."
"We can do that." She shook Xander's hand. "Thank you for not making this a stand-off."
"If I thought you were a problem, I would have but you're clearly not one of those sort." She nodded, leaving him with Sam for a moment. "Just watch," he said quietly. "She doesn't seem like the digging for revenge sort." Sam nodded, following her down to the van. Xander sent another email to Giles in case they needed to apply political pressure. He hated it when adults got pissed because he had adopted.
Sam walked into the room with the girls. The principal had them gathered for them. He looked at his niece, who looked immaculate. He looked at Bri, who looked immaculate but had a black eye. He saw Amanda had a similar problem with a split lip added and was a bit messed up as well. The others were looking calm and collected. "The principal said there was a problem, ladies?"
Bri nodded. "The one with the knife's brother tried to jump Halla earlier, Uncle Sam. Pity."
Sam scowled. "Why did we not turn him in?"
"We did shout but he took a swing so we had to defend ourselves," Adanne said quietly. The social worker came in. "We're very sorry but there was a problem earlier."
"I heard from the principal, girls. She said you did what you could to hold him off." She saw the bruises. "Are you all right? Need ice packs?"
"Daddy will fuss us to death," Amanda assured her with a smile. "He caught me by accident trying to get Bri and Missy. Uncle Sam, Bobby was with the nurse for the bloody nose that wouldn't stop."
"I saw him already. Gave him a hug. He's still there waiting on us since he's a bit dizzy. We'll be heading home as soon as we're done here. Can you guys talk to the social worker?"
Paka looked at her. "Why did our teacher turn us in? We were defending ourselves."
"It wasn't about that," Sam told her.
"It was reported that your father may not be able to handle all of you."
Adanne snorted. "He handled us three just fine on a trek across Africa for work reasons. Including potty training us."
"Manners," Sam reminded her gently.
"Sorry. Daddy would be mad if I was less than mannerly, ma'am."
She smiled. "That's all right. Honesty is more important to me than manners, young lady. You're which one?"
"Adanne. I'm the oldest. That's Halla, Paka, Briony, Amanda, and Missy is Uncle Sam's niece. His son is in the nurse's office for his bloody nose."
"I heard. That's fine." She pulled a chair over, looking over Paka. "It was thought that you've come in a bit messy some mornings."
She snorted, shaking her head, her lips pursed together. "I had someone confuse being dark-skinned as being dirty in the past. They were idiots, to be less than polite about it. The same as the racist little brat that tried Halla earlier was."
"He doesn't know any better," Halla said. "He said his daddy taught him that. His mommy hadn't corrected it yet. I'm sure she's working on that today while yelling at his daddy about being dumb."
"Hopefully she's spanking him for bringing a knife to school and threatening a younger student," Sam told her.
"Well, that too, but the social worker who worked with the girls in Cleveland didn't want to hear about those things, Uncle Sam."
"There's a reason for that but I do believe that bringing a weapon to school should require punishment from the parents as well as the school," the social worker told her. "Did you often talk to them?"
"No but Daddy sometimes had to go rescue some of the girls from where they were so they talked now and then about the new girls," Adanne told her. "Daddy ran a bookstore up there when he wasn't working with the other girls so she came there a lot to check on them and us. She wasn't sure we wouldn't run into problems in the school system since we're multi-lingual." She looked at Sam. "Is that the word?"
"It is," he assured her with a smile. "Very good usage, Adanne."
"I heard your father reading to the youngest three in Latin earlier." They all grinned at that and nodded. "He did that for you as well?" They all nodded, including Missy. She had gotten a few of them. "Do you read any other languages?"
"We all speak Swahili. Most kids don't so if we need to communicate without the other kids knowing, we use it," Bri told her, looking serious. "Sometimes we want to talk about things that don't concern them."
"Kids can be like the gossipy church ladies that came in to get romance novels from the old store," Amanda agreed.
"They can," the social worker agreed. "What was the last book you read, Amanda?"
"Ummm..." She got into her backpack to look at it, holding it up with a smile. "I'm halfway through. It's about horses."
She took it to look through. "This should be something Adanne and Paka would be pushing themselves to read. I'm impressed." She handed it back with a smile.
"Daddy made us book nerds," Bri told her. "The shopping aunties up there made sure we were fashionable ones though."
"You do look very cute." Bri smiled.
"She does a good makeup job too," Sam said dryly, giving her a look. Bri just smirked at him.
"It got Auntie Dawn to flirt better with you," Amanda assured him. "Which was the point, Uncle Sam."
He rolled his eyes. "Their latest evil plan."
"Their father said they do that now and then. Most girls their age are plotting to get a new pet."
"There's a stray cat on the grounds that they've adopted," Sam told her. "They don't need another pet."
Missy nodded. "It likes to lay on Daddy's car and he hates that. The car's an heir.. .what's that word, Uncle Sam?"
"Heirloom. It means it was passed down through the family," he said.
"That word," she said with a smile. "And sometimes she likes to sneak in to check up on us. Or lay on the coffee maker to make my daddy growl before he's had coffee."
Sam nodded. "Me too."
"They're kind of grumpy then," Amanda assured her with a small smile. "But they're nice once they've had coffee."
"Many adults are that way," the social worker agreed, looking at Sam. "May I?"
"As long as you don't ask leading questions or something like that. Let me go get Bobby. Do we need to get anything?"
"Can we have popsicles on the way home?" Bri asked, wiggling some. "We defeated the bully, we deserve a treat."
"I'll see if Xander will run out to pick some up so we can have them in the office." He went to get his son, standing outside to listen to her.
"Girls, do any of you feel threatened by him?" she asked.
"He's calmed down very nicely since we gave him the makeover," Bri assured her. "He was a bit mad then but he loves us. Even if I do think he should use the eyeliner more often. It made his eyes look very big. Just like auntie's magazine said it would."
"Why did you read something like that?"
"Dawn was helping me rearrange my closets and had been reading it. We took a break so she could answer a call from another student." She shrugged. "I was kind of grounded so I couldn't read one of my fun books. That's not really one so it was a slippery way around the rules."
"You read a lot?"
"Daddy made us book nerds," Paka said dryly. "He wanted us to be smarter than he was at our age. It's mean when he grounds us away from our books."
"Do you girls watch tv now and then?"
"Daddy watches cartoons with us so he can point out the cool super heros and the lame ones," Adanne said with a smile. "We don't want to miss Super Friends."
The social worker smiled slightly at that. "That's the only one you watch? Nothing after dinner?"
Bri grimaced. "It's all nasty trash that has things we don't need to learn about yet. Daddy even made the older girls quit watching soaps with Auntie Buffy. He said it was giving us bad ideas."
"I can agree with that."
"But most of the nighttime stuff is a lot like that so we don't need to see that either."
"What about the show with the nanny?" she asked.
"Why would we need to see families that couldn't handle their kids?" Bri asked, looking confused. "We're not like that. Even if we get into trouble, we're not that bad."
"We do get time outs," Paka told her. "Daddy likes us in time outs. We get bored really fast in them too so we don't do it again."
"Do you watch the news?"
"We read the papers for that," Amanda said like it should be obvious. "The local newslady is a bimbo like Uncle Dean would like. Big breasts that she shows off all too often in tight shirts that are unbuttoned way too low. We won't ever be girls like her."
"That's right, we won't be skanky hos like Daddy likes," Missy agreed with a smile. "I'll be a good girl like Auntie Dawn."
"Where did you learn that phrase?"
"Uncle Sam used it about one of the waitresses Daddy hit on when I was three. Daddy likes girls like that with big butts and sometimes roller skates. That's why we want him to have Uncle Xander." The other girls scowled at her. "What? Maybe she can help. It would look good if he was married, right?" she asked her. "The Law and Order we snuck last night when we got up in the middle of the night said so."
"There's some who would appreciate him being in a good relationship," she told them. "But that should be his choice."
"Of course it should be," Missy said with a smile and a hand pat. "Now, do we have any other concerns?"
"No, not really. Adanne, you garden?"
She smiled and nodded. "I'm going to start working on some of the plants around the house later this week. It needs help. No one took care of the poor things but the swamp creatures."
"That's probably a good hobby for a young girl."
Adanne smiled. "That too."
"Do any of you feel like you're not like normal children?"
"Well, yes, but we're not stupid," Bri told her. "We like to read. Daddy taught us that. We don't like to do stupid things like some of them do. One of the girls in my class was helping her mommy pick out her next stepfather. That's just dumb. Some of them are more concerned about their nails than their grades. That's really dumb. I bet their parents don't give them bribes for good grades like ours does."
"What do you get?"
"Candy bars, small things like a trip to a play place restaurant. If we bring home all A's, daddy gets us a small gift thingy to a toy store or a mall so we can get something we want," Halla told her. "Last time I got a new dress because I thought it was pretty. The teacher liked it too."
"I think that's a good bribe and it teaches you children responsible shopping at the same time." She was impressed with how Mr. Harris was pushing education on his children. "Do you think that you don't play as much as the other kids?"
Bri shrugged. "Who wants to get dirty? It'll mess up my clothes and nails."
"Besides, we play whenever we want to. Daddy doesn't *make* us read except for homework and right before bed," Amanda told her. "We could watch more tv but it's junky stuff. We like to read."
Missy nodded. "I didn't read as much as they did before we started to live with them. Bobby and I read a lot more now. Daddy said he was impressed how good I was getting."
"I'm proud that you're such a good reader as well," she told her. "Some people would worry that you choose to read instead of play outside."
"We play whenever we want to play," Bri assured her. "We have the whole estate to run around on. Daddy lets us play whenever we want as long as our homework's done." She shrugged. "It's boring doing the same thing all the time."
"Do you have bicycles?"
"We had one," Bri admitted. "But it got bent in the move. We haven't talked to Daddy about getting a new one yet."
Missy smiled. "We can do that if you think it'd be good."
"I'm a bit concerned that you're all so...mature, children. That you're not getting enough time being children."
All the girls snorted. "We know we're kids," Bri assured her dryly. "Just because we read a lot doesn't mean we're not kids. We play, talk with the other kids, all that stuff. We just like reading more than the stupid things."
"Do you go over on sleepovers?"
Bri gave her a horrified look. "Invade someone else's house? No! Are you insane? What parent would do that to their babies? The kids would tell their parents everything and then the parents would probably fight about small stuff that wasn't really important."
"Like no ice cream," Halla agreed. "Besides, a lot of the kids here aren't really... nice. They don't like us because we're practical instead of being brats. We have manners that we use. We have brains that we use. A lot of the kids are more concerned about how they look instead of what they're learning."
"Plus they didn't like our clothes," Missy added. "I'm growing right now so things have to be looser. They didn't like that and tried to pick on me. So I ignored them like Daddy said because they're crap heads."
"Your daddy will complain that you swore," Paka told her.
"Daddy called them shallow little parent ghosts," she countered with a scowl. "A lot of the parents don't like daddy since he drives the van, but how else is he supposed to get all of us somewhere?"
"Do you feel comfortable in this school?"
"We mostly like the teachers even if we don't like some of the other kids. There's kids like that at all schools though. We had some in Cleveland too," Paka said then shrugged. "One picked on me for being African and not wearing African clothes up there. Unfortunately she had a learning problem since she couldn't read very well and neither could her mother."
"Daddy wants us to do important things and that takes good teachers," Bri said in a huff. "Even if the other kids can be mean, there's kids like that everywhere and we can ignore their bad minds. They'll be the sort to do little things like work at Burger King when people like us and Auntie Dawn are too tired from real work and drive thru."
Sam walked in, looking at her. "Working at Burger King is still work and important in many ways, girls. Otherwise you'd have to cook all the time."
"I know but it's not the same as working in a bank. Or even what she or Auntie Dawn does. That's important and it helps people. They make nasty hamburgers to feed people who're too tired to cook. It's not the same."
"We'll go over that idea some other time," Sam told her. "You're right, it's not the same, but in some ways it still helps people. Or else we would've starved when we were younger." The social worker looked at him. "Our dad didn't always cook that great." He looked at the son in his arms resting against his shoulder. "Are we done? I should get them home to get them ice packs."
"Are we in trouble?" Bri asked the social worker.
"No, dear. You're not in trouble." She stood up. "Feel better soon, children." They nodded, following Sam out to the van. She waited until they were closed in. "Do they get play time?"
"They choose to read instead of going out to play. We made them go out last night when it was pretty and cooler. They brought out books. Xander really has turned even mine and my brother's kids into book nerds. I wasn't this bad and I read hundreds of books a year at their age. They seem to enjoy it though." He shrugged. "They can play if they want to. We never stop them unless they're tearing up the living room by fighting."
"They have outdoor toys?"
"The girls have hula hoops and jump ropes. They have balls to kick and throw around. Xander put up a horseshoe set for them. They went back to reading after a few rounds." He shrugged. "They like to read. I don't consider that a bad thing."
"What about playing with other children?"
He stared for a moment. "Have you noticed that some of the kids locally are rather shallow?"
She sighed but nodded. "I have."
"Our kids aren't. They may be fashionable. They may do girly things with their nails, but they don't put up with kids who don't think. They play at recess but none of the other kids have invited them over or been invited over from what I heard. If the kids wanted to invite a friend over, all they'd have to do is ask. They don't. I think that's mostly because they find a lot of the local kids to be a bit... I don't want to say dumber but they think books are evil. The girls in kindergarten are reading above their age level. When I came in to read to the class I had to explain the kiddy book I was reading and it was on their level. It was meant for five and six-year-olds. The kids acted like they had no idea what story time was for. I think if they could find other kids like them, and I'm sure they will as they grow up, they'll want to have them over more often. Because let's face it, the first day of school Xander had to come in to answer some questions so people wouldn't feel they offended the older girls by asking if they were African."
"That can happen sometimes. Is that why they're going here?"
"They're obviously bright. Schools like this would give them a better shot of not being bored in class. I'd hate to see what sort of evil plans they'd come up with if they were bored in public school. Plus we'd end up being grandparents way too soon."
"True." She smiled. "I'm not finding a fault, but I would wish that they showed more child-like impulses."
"We suggest but they're stubborn."
"Bikes to ride around on?"
"The kids haven't asked for one. We would if they'd ask. I offered Bobby a skateboard and he told me he wasn't that sort of boy." He shrugged, looking clueless. "If they don't want it, I can't force them to use one."
"Good point. I see nothing wrong, just that they're a bit mature for their age."
"Then again, Xander did get the three oldest during his trek across Africa. They've seen hardship and war. The kids have things that they take for granted but they know it's better here than there and I'm sure they've told the younger ones stories about their home villages."
"Probably. That could explain that." She smiled. "Tell him it's fine and I'll make a report that they're darling, smart children who could use some more socialization but they're not finding other children to their liking at the moment." She walked off, getting in her car to go back to the office to make that report.
Sam got in to drive, heading for the houses. He called Xander's cell. "It's me. Did you know they got into a fight at recess?" He grimaced. "They're good. They're a bit too smart for their ages. She was worried that they didn't like to play outdoors and things. I told her they made that decision and never told us they wanted things like bikes. Yeah, she said it's fine. We're heading home for ice packs and things. They want popsicles. Thanks, man." He hung up. "He'll get some on the way home." They cheered and he drove a bit faster. Those black eyes really did need ice packs and Bobby clearly needed to lay down again since he was resting against a window because he was still dizzy.
Xander hung up. "Etta, heading home right now," he called, gathering things. "C'mon, kids. Dean!" He came out of his office. "Sam said the kids got into a fight at recess. He mentioned ice packs and that they want popsicle comfort."
"C'mon," he agreed. "Booster seat for the third kid?"
Xander grimaced but grabbed the spare he had in the closet. "Always be prepared," he said dryly. "It's Adanne's old one." They got the kids and headed down to the Impala. Dean got that seat in. Xander got the other two buckled in while Dean handled Sauda. Then they went home with a stop for some sugary goodness for their heathens. They walked in and found Sam had them in the living room with ice packs. Xander moaned. "Girls."
"Faster healing, Daddy," Halla said with a smile. "Bobby had a really bad nose bleed."
"He's still dizzy," Sam told Dean.
"That's fine. Let me check." He came over to check his nephew over. "Did you swallow a lot?" Bobby nodded. "It's all right, sport. It's not broken, just a bit swollen and sore. Lay there all you want." He checked the others. Black eyes, split lip, the slayers had faster healing so theirs were already gone. He looked at Missy. "You weren't involved?"
"I was in the potty. The dumb one's big brother jumped them."
"I'm so going to kick his parent's ass," Xander said.
"The principal said they're not in trouble. They did yell for help and tried to hold him off until the teacher could grab him," Sam told him. "They had other kids near them but she said only ours got damaged." Xander moaned, settling in to hug his girls. "But they're not in trouble since they did call for help."
Xander nodded. "Good. Are the brats expelled?"
"Yes. Both of them and their sister is bordering on crying she said. She said the girl apologized to them later on." Missy nodded that she had. "She was panicking about it, Xander."
"Thankfully it seems like her mother taught her good sense." He hugged his girls tighter.
"Daddy, I'd like to breathe," Bri complained. "And eat a popsicle?"
Dean got them each one with a grin. "Way to milk it, Bri."
She smiled. "I deserve it. He nearly landed in my lap and ruined my skirt. Then Bobby's nose sprung a leak and it was nasty, Uncle Dean."
"The kid flailed and got Bobby with a foot as he ran over," Adanne told Sam. "The social worker was very polite, Daddy. She wanted us to play with the other kids more but we told her how dumb some of them could be now and then."
"She was worried they were a bit mature for their ages," Sam told him. He heard a car and looked out. "That's a crime lab hummer." He went down to open the door. "About the fight at school?"
"No. Getting a final look through the files he left," Eric said as he slid out of the hummer and closed the door. "Etta said to ask Xander where he put them."
"They're in the secondary filing cabinet at work. Anything we found we boxed up separately."
"Thank you. Fight at school?"
"Little racist bastard started it off this morning by picking on Halla. Then his brother jumped the others at recess for getting his brother in trouble."
Eric grimaced. "Some kids have bad parents."
Sam nodded. "It's fine now. Need us to come back?"
"I can do it tomorrow if you'll be in."
"Probably. Xander might have a few of the older girls home for their black eyes."
"A lot of parents would," he agreed.
"If so, one of us will be in. Sammy has some research he needs to get done. I've got to track down something too so we'll probably be in the library."
"That's fine. I'll pop around in the morning when I've got a few free minutes to grab his files." He looked up then at him. "They didn't probate his will and give this to whoever?"
"The Council owns it. He sponged money off the old Council to buy it." He shrugged. "That makes it the same as the office so we can live here."
"I guess that makes sense. Thank you for your help."
"Things like what he did suck," Dean said plainly. Bobby came out to hug him. "What's up? Still feel nasty?"
"I think one of my adult teeth is loose. Daddy wanted you to make sure."
Dean squatted down to look in his mouth. "Which one?" He wiggled it a bit. "Don't do that or it'll fall out. If you eat soft stuff and leave it alone it'll quit wiggling." Bobby nodded, giving him a hug before Dean stood up and the boy went back inside. "It's something to worry about," he said at the smile the other man was giving him.
"It's a good dad thing to do." He grinned. "I'll see one of you tomorrow morning." He got back into the hummer and drove off.
Dean went back inside. "He'll show up tomorrow for the rest of those files, Xander."
"That's fine. I can work from home tomorrow." Sam's phone beeped. "Missed a call?"
"No, that's a new email beep," Dean told him.
Sam opened that program, getting into what he needed. "Giles wants pictures in case it becomes necessary for something legal to happen."
"We can do that," Dean promised, going to get their camera to take those pictures.
Xander walked in the day after next, looking at the woman waiting for him. "More problems?" he asked the social worker.
"The one your group worked with in Cleveland is presently in a hospital?"
He shrugged. "I've been down here since before our new building got blown up by the last major problem. If so, I'll send her a card. I liked working with her when we needed to." He opened the office door, finding someone going through his desk. "Etta, any idea who this person is?"
"He's a watcher from Germany, Xander. He needs someone's files."
He looked back at her. "We don't keep them in my desk, Etta. Excuse me for a moment," he said, giving the social worker a nudge so he could close them in the office. "What do you want and why are you in my desk?"
"I need the local slayers' files. Who're you?"
"Xander. Head of the Miami branch and Giles' second." He crossed his arms over his chest. "We don't have any full slayers here in Miami. We have some that are too young and one that's not trained but is over the calling age. What did you need them for?"
"Because we need them. Who're you to interrupt?" he demanded.
"Maybe you didn't hear my introduction. I'm second-in-command, you little bitch. Now, get out of my desk."
"You can't stop them from their callings!" he said firmly, advancing on him. He sneered when Xander shifted. So Xander kindly slapped his smile off his face and made the man howl in pain a moment later.
"They're too young to be on field duty," he said, staring down at him. "That's why we made the mandatory age law. Because we have so many right now. We don't need little kids in the field." Someone knocked. "Not now," he snarled. "Give me a few to correct this one's assumptions." He looked down again. "I sincerely doubt you need a seven-year-old slayer's files for any good reason." He kicked him in the chest, making him wheeze. "If you've got a statement to give, I'd do so now."
"You can't keep them from the field."
"I'm not, I'm training them so they can go when it's their time and last for a really long time. Like Buffy has. Anything else?"
"The Powers said there's too many," he said after the next kick. "They have to go into the field. It's natural selection."
He opened the door. "Dean, good. Go get the girls, put them in protective custody. Etta, get Horatio or Eric, someone who knows us, down here to arrest this ass for trying to sacrifice the younger slayers."
She was dialing. "Mr. Giles might not like that, Xander."
"I'll tell him myself so they can bail them out and give them a proper tribunal. Dean, please?" He nodded, heading to do that. He looked down at the man, a cold look that had sent a few vampires running in the past. "No one touches my kids. Even when they're in the field they'll have backup from me and their siblings."
"The Powers won't be let it happen!" he shouted. "It's not allowed!"
"The last time I knew you weren't a Power," Xander said dryly. "Until you are, shut the fuck up until you're in jail. Then you can wail and plead and beg all about your precious theory."
"They ordered through the seers."
"Really? Because I am a seer. I have another one here on staff. Neither of us got it. Plus I might get a head's up since I used to date Cordelia Chase. She's their present messenger. You'd think they'd tell her to announce it, huh?"
Cordelia faded in checking her nails. "Wasn't us. They want your girls to be strong for the next wave of major issues, Xander." She looked at him, seeing the sneer. "Hi, Messenger for the Powers That Be." He went pale, trying to move. Xander kicked him again then stood on his sore ribs. "Thank you. Saves my shoes. Can't really shop for new ones on this side you know." She moved closer. "Now then, you and the other six watchers wanted to do what with the sacrifices of innocent, young slayer blood?"
"We will win," he sneered.
"Etta, please set out an alert to all watchers, this one has six friends who want to sacrifice underage slayers." She nodded, sending that out immediately. He looked down. "I hope they have fun with you in prison for wanting to kill children."
"Sir, Giles said not to have him arrested."
"It's that or he sits in a closet," Xander said dryly. "I think he'd hate that more." He summoned his phone over, making Cordelia smirk. "Of course I learned since Willow's shit on the cliff awakened it. I don't want to follow her example. Thankfully this is all I can do." He called up there. "Giles, me. There's him and six others. Yes, I'm having him arrested until you can stop the others and get a tribunal together. That way he can't alert them. No, I walked in and found him going through my desk."
"He was here when I got here, Xander," Etta told him. "He said he needed the local slayers' files and asked me if I knew where they were. I said no, I hadn't been here that long. I didn't think he'd go through your desk."
"Chill, Etta. I know you're not one of them. The kids like you too much. Adanne would've sensed you were evil and kicked your butt by now if you were." He looked down. "I am. They can keep him from talking to his cohorts too." He smirked evilly. "He admitted to six when Cordelia said so. Thank you." He hung up. "Giles sends his love, Cordy."
She smirked. "You're a flaming asshole today, Xander."
"Someone threatened my kids. There's no way in hell they're going to get away with that."
"I'll warn Dawn."
"I already called her," Sam called. He and Dean walked in with all the kids. "The principal said this is highly unusual but I told her about the death threat to the three oldest girls. She'll send their homework wherever we need them." He looked down then at his friend. "Good job not killing him yet," he offered with a grin.
Xander smirked. "Torture is so much more fun and I learned a lot from the women I used to date. Even that one," he said with a point at Cordy.
"I did teach you how to snark better," she admitted dryly. She looked down. "Oh, do try," she offered.
Xander looked at him. "Want to go to jail missing body parts? I can do that." He summoned a sword over. The man whimpered, trying to move again. "I'll be damned if you come near my kids to sacrifice them. Kids, library. Keep one of the adults with you. This one wants to spill slayer blood."
Paka looked at him then at her father. "He doesn't look like a demon or he's that stupid." The guy reached for her. She kicked him in the face, breaking his nose. "Don't touch. Skeezy guys who touch kids deserve what they get before they're arrested and Auntie Dawn's books that we're not supposed to read said that they get it when they're in jail too."
He looked at her. "No more reading Dawn's smut, Paka. Any of you. No soaps, no smut, nothing that Dawn would get adult joy from. You know better. Grounded."
"We're already grounded."
"Then have Sam go find you a book in the classical literature section."
"That's mean," Sam complained. "They're dry and boring."
"Good!" Paka pouted but Sam went to do that for her. He looked down with an evil smirk. "At least she didn't bite you. She did me all the time after I first adopted her."
"Some girls like the taste of blood," Cordy agreed. "They'll make wonderful goth slayers, Xander." She smirked at the guy on the floor. Then at the elevator. "Lieutenant."
"You would be?"
"Cordelia Chase, Messenger for the Powers."
He nodded at that. "The problem we're having is related?"
"He claimed the bosses sent him to sacrifice young slayers. They didn't."
"I see." He looked down at the moaning man. "May we have him, Xander?"
Xander kicked him hard on the side, making him scream in pain. "Sure. There's six others doing the same thing according to Cordy." He looked at him. "I've got three of the youngest slayers here with me," he said quietly. "The others are in Barcelona and England."
"I got hold of Cera," Etta told him. "Not her watcher or the regional head. She said she'd protect them, Xander. Barcelona didn't respond."
"Call Philippe directly." She nodded, doing that. "I know he's not involved. He's a seer too." He let the nice officers take the guy. "Found him going through my desk to find out which kids are the slayers. If he couldn't read well enough, he probably would've sacrificed them all."
"You got them from demons," the watcher sneered.
Xander stared at him. "No, my ex made a wish before she died. Left it with her boss. He let it happen because he thought it'd give me hell for annoying him when I was dating Anyanka." The man struggled. "Let me hit you again," he offered. The officers walked him off, still struggling. He looked at Cordelia. "Do I need a bigger car?"
"Not until you're a grandfather." She smirked then faded out. "Have fun with that, Xander."
"If I have to hunt down each one, so be it," he called after her. He looked at Horatio. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Just the girls are in danger?"
"No clue. Probably."
"I'll make sure he's incommunicado then." He nodded at the social worker. "Problems?"
"There's some inconsistencies in the paperwork from Cleveland on his three youngest."
Xander looked up. "D'Hoffryn?" His second-in-command appeared. "D'Hoffryn's right hand, this is a social worker here about my youngest three your boss gave me."
He smirked and took her with him to see the boss.
Xander looked at Horatio. "She'll be fine." He looked at Etta. "Who else didn't answer?"
"Egypt but they're on a hunt today. Something about creatures in a tomb."
"I saw one of those. I needed artillery and I told him that. Anyone else?" She shook her head. "Anyone respond in a manner that made you worry?"
"Carma's there with Carolyn. She'll kick his ass if he tries her." She nodded at that. "I trained Carma. She'll kick his ass." He looked at Horatio. "Thank you."
"It's not a problem, Mr. Harris. Those other files?" He led him to the closet, letting him take the boxes. "Thank you."
"Welcome. People like them and Prestons deserve their spot under the jail being tortured by the other inmates. Feel free to tell them that he wanted to sacrifice kids."
"It usually gets found out even if we don't say it." He walked off with the stack of boxes. Eric took them from his hummer back at the office. "That one man is still in booking?"
"Frank was talking to him about what he wanted in case Calleigh's in danger." He looked at him. "Do we think she is?"
"I think if he could, Mr. Harris will protect her like his girls. She might fuss, but oh well." He walked inside, finding her watching. "Did he try for you as well?"
"No. Not yet. He knows there is one but not who."
"If so, you can help Mr. Harris guard his children, Calleigh. That way he's got official backup and nothing can come for you that you can't handle. We'd be backing you both up." He walked off, leaving her to glare at the man through the glass. Someone really needed to handle some of the former Council. The social worker appeared in the lab while they were going over the files. "Are you all right?"
"Quite, thank you, Lieutenant. That...being was very nice when he explained why Mr. Harris has children." She blinked a few times. "He was very proper as well. Offered me tea and cookies." She walked off to go back to her office. She had to cab there, but that was fine. Her car was safely in the watchers' parking garage.
Xander looked at the girls after talking with Dean and Sam to calm himself down. "Girls, family meeting." They moved closer, staring at him. "Some of the old line watchers want to hurt the three slayers. We're not sure what reason they're using. I want all of you to be alert when we're not at home and not here in the office. Got it?" They all nodded. "Good." He smiled. "It should be stopped very shortly. Giles is working on it with Cera and a few others. Whatever their puny minded reason, they won't be continuing. So just be careful without being too paranoid."
Paka raised a hand. "What about the Winchesters?"
"They should be fine. Though I'm not sure if they can tell you girls from the others in the family. Dean and Sam are already working on safety measures." They all nodded at that. "So be extra careful. Like you would if we're at the mall." They all smiled. "Thank you. Go back to homework for now. We'll figure the rest out in a few hours."
"Lunch?" Halla asked. "I'm getting hungry, Daddy."
"I'll have someone pick up something." He smiled, giving her a hug. "It'll be all right." He went back to the office. "Dean, can you do lunch?"
"Yup, was figuring I'd do that anyway. Fast food or grocery store?"
"I hate to say it, but I'm too paranoid about them," he admitted. Dean nodded, heading for the grocery store. Xander looked at Etta. He wrote down a number. "Have one of them come talk to me sometime before tonight." She nodded, making that call. She gave him a horrified look when she found out what she was talking to. "It's safer." He went back to his office. The guy had been going through the wrong files. They'd figure it out soon and stomp them. Or else Xander would let Buffy come down to babysit while he went hunting with Cera and Carma. Then there wouldn't be any more problem watchers.
Xander walked outside after dinner that night, dish towel over his shoulder. "Heard you but I had to get the roasting pan to soak. We had lamb." He looked at him. "You know who I am?"
The demon nodded. "We do. We find it highly amusing you were sent to this office."
"I had this or Houston as a choice."
"That makes more sense." He looked around then at him. "The other two hunters?"
"Dean and Sam. They work with me."
"Ah." He nodded at that. "What problem is this important?"
"Some watchers had the bright idea to come after my children to sacrifice the slayers."
"So you're warning us you'll be destroying Miami if they come back?"
"If they come back, the police can clean up the next one. The lab's got very strong stomachs. They cleaned up what Prestons did." He smirked. "If I have to, as an emergency evacuation plan, I'm sending them down to Gregori with Dean and Sam if possible. I'll show Sam and Dean where the bar is. Please give them passage and help them out of the city?"
"We can do that," he agreed. "That's not a big favor."
Xander smiled. "Thank you. I hope the local community will stay peaceful?"
"We tend to take care of our own. Worry more about the commune that's on a hidden Key down toward the hellmouth."
"We heard." He smirked. "They're under watch too."
"Let me know if we can help. Dean and Sam are hunters, and so am I."
"Agreed. The girls are very cute."
"They try really hard," he agreed. "But now and then they turn a bit evil too." The demon walked off laughing. Xander turned and found Dean and Sam behind him. "One of the local demons who's big in the community."
"Gregori?" Sam asked.
"Owner of a demon bar. He's a vamp that was in Sunnydale. I played kitten poker with him a few times." He grinned. "He won't hurt the kids. He sent a nice card when he found out I had spawned, as he put it. He'll let you break your path and then escape from there."
"That could be helpful," Dean agreed. "Will we have problems with that commune he mentioned?"
"If so, we're hunters," he said bluntly. "We shouldn't but they're awfully near the hellmouth so I don't doubt we'll have a few here and there. Usually Miami's handles itself. Or we would've heard about it a long time ago."
Dean nodded. "Makes sense. That's why you picked Miami, wasn't it?"
"That and Houston's nearly dead. I'd be bored within days with nothing to do." He smirked, walking around them. "There's some leftovers if you guys want it. I made lamb."
"No thanks. Missy wanted something she could identify as a cow," Dean said dryly.
Sam smirked at him. "She's getting your smart mouth, Dean."
"Well, yeah, but she's my little clone."
"Wouldn't that mean you started out female?" Sam teased.
"Shut up, Sammy." They walked back to the house. The kids were arguing over a book. Dean turned on the tv to something mentally warping, then stuck them both in front of it, taking the book from them. "Watch tv. It's bad for you."
"Daddy, this is like a soap," Missy called a few minutes later. "People are kissing and it's gross!"
Sam changed the channel to a Law and Order spin-off on the upper cable channels. "There, watch police drama." He sat down to watch with them. He agreed, their kids were strange since they spent so much time reading these days. Even he had watched more tv than these two. Dean came out to look, then smirked at him. "It was that or MTV."
"Then she might want to dress like a rap video ho."
"Winchesters never had round butts that way," Sam shot back with a smirk. "She'd never make it as a rap video girl, Dean. They all need booty."
"Like skanky hos?" Bobby asked him.
"Yup, a lot like that," Dean agreed, walking into the kitchen shaking his head.
"We still consider you and Uncle Xander together even if you're not married," Missy called after him. "That way I don't have to turn into a skanky ho like the girls you date, Daddy. They'd be bad role models."
Sam burst out cackling at that. "They would," he agreed dryly.
Dean glared from the kitchen. "Shut up, Missy."
"Yes, Daddy. Will you teach me to roller skate?"
"Hell no." He went back to the dishes. It had to be the reading that had warped their kids. They'd have to warp Xander's back to make them more normal too.
Sam flipped to MTV. Clearly they were on the same wavelength. "Ooh, do you think I'll have big titties like her, Uncle Sam?"
Sam looked then shook his head. "Probably not since hers are fake, Missy. I don't think real people come that big."
"Do I have to date a girl that could squeeze me to death with her breasts, Daddy?" Bobby asked.
Sam looked at him. "Just date someone nice, Bobby. Ignore what they look like in favor of their personality and little quirks. That's how I got Jess." His son hugged him and went back to watching the video girls dance.
Missy tipped her head to the side. "Huh, not all skanky hos have roller skates after all. That one's got a skateboard."
Dean came out to look then at her. "She's only acting like it so she gets paid."
"Does that mean she's a hooker like the one in Omaha that you told me to quit asking questions to because I thought she was cold?"
"More like an actress than that," Sam told her.
"Oh. Am I going to be built like that? If so, I've got to start thinking about what sort of shirts will look better than hers does on her."
"They're fake too," Sam assured her. "When you're sixteen we can talk about this again." She sighed but nodded, going back to watching the videos. The next one didn't have sleazy girls so Dean went back to doing dishes. He'd have to make sure Bri taught Missy what good shirts looked like when they were older. That's when he realized he was planning on his kid and niece knowing Xander's kids for decades. He looked in the kitchen, catching Dean's eye. "Bri and she will have to talk about how not to look trashy when they're older."
"Mom wasn't built like that," Dean told him with a small grin. He caught the inference. He finished up and came out to change it to MTV Classic. That had better music and less rap music.
Bobby leaned against his arm. "Can we read to the nice music, Uncle Dean?"
"Less reading, more mind rotting tonight," Sam told him with a grin. "That way we don't have to worry about you turning into a librarian."
"There's been ghosts in libraries so we could be hunting librarians," Missy offered with a bright, happy grin. "The other hunters could come to us for information and everything, Uncle Sam. I like that idea." She gave his leg a hug and went back to humming along with the song.
Bobby grinned. "I can see that."
Dean looked at Sam. "Bikes?"
"We can buy bikes, yeah," he decided. "Tonight?"
"Wal-Mart's open," he decided, getting up. "C'mon, guys." They groaned but followed along. Two very nice bikes, and a snuck in book by Bobby, and they were back at the house. Dean found the book and looked at his nephew. "Did we shoplift?" he asked with a grin.
"We don't have that one?" he offered sheepishly. "You didn't want to buy more books tonight."
Dean patted him on the head. "You can only shoplift important things when you're hunting, Bobby. Not everyday things. Besides, that's what libraries are for."
"You won't let us go. You said we might fill the trunk with books," Missy reminded him. She was helping Sam put together her bike. Hers was purple. Bobby's was black. She was going to steal his sometime soon because she looked better in black and he looked good enough in purple. "Why is his built that way instead of like mine?" she asked him.
"Because boys get that crossbar higher to hurt us when we fall off," Dean quipped. Bobby whimpered. "You'll do fine, nephew."
"Can I have her bike?"
"Ride yours first then you can switch off," Dean said patiently. He got Bobby's bike done first and helped him on it, adjusting the seat height. Then he walked him around. "I taught you how to ride with training wheels, now you have good balance so you don't need 'em anymore."
Bobby wobbled some but he got the hang of it pretty quickly. He grinned at his dad.
Missy watched him. Her bike was ready and she got on, letting her daddy adjust her seat height. She was riding faster than her cousin. The daddies went to get them a drink and they changed off. It made more sense that a girl's bike had the higher crossbar since boys had things that hurt when you banged into them down there. They were drifting around the driveway easily by the time the daddies came back out.
Dean looked then looked at Sam. "My girl's so butch sometimes," he joked.
"Clearly. Think we should get her camo clothes?" he teased back.
"She might like that as long as it's fashionable looking." He walked over to give them water, then watched them ride for a bit longer. Somehow Bobby's stolen book ended up with him and he was reading while he rode. Dean poked Sam, pointing with a smirk. "Son of Nerd there, Sammy. Genes do tell apparently."
Sam went to get the book from his son. "Ride, don't ride and read, son. You can't do both at the same time. You'll fall." He gave him a hug then let him go back to riding around. He saw the cat come trotting over and stop to stare at the kids. "Watch your tail, cat." He sat down, handing Dean the book.
The cat meowed at Bobby, chasing after him. The boy smiled and sped up some. So did the cat. Then she leapt, making it onto his back. "Ow!" he yelped. "Claws!"
Sam came over to untangle the cat, glaring at her. "Don't hurt the kids. You'll become a pair of slippers." He put it on Xander's doorstep then walked back shaking his head. Dean had checked Bobby's back and he was back to chasing after his cousin. Who had somehow stolen the book from her father and was trying to read and ride at the same time. Sam pointed with a smirk.
Dean looked and groaned. "Ride, don't read and ride, daughter. You'll fall."
"That's what Uncle Sam said but I'm doing okay so far!" she called back. She did fall a few minutes later when she hit a small hole in the ground but she didn't cry and whine like most kids. Even if her daddy was there nearly instantly with the first aid kit to take care of her. Bobby stole the book but Sam took it back. They rode around until dark then went inside to clean up for school tomorrow. Bobby managed to steal the book so she went to curl up next to him and read it with him. He never minded when she did that.
Sam came in an hour later, finding both kids asleep with that stupid book on his son's chest. He went to get the family camera, coming in to take a picture.
Dean followed, sighing as he snuck in to get the book and his daughter. She swatted at him and Bobby nearly punched him but he still took Missy back to her own bed and the book got hidden in the freezer. The kids couldn't see into it yet. Sam and Dean shared a look. They clearly had to warp Xander's kids away from books sometime soon before their kids learned more nerdly habits from the group up the road.
Xander walked into the office the next morning, finding Cera sitting on the front of his desk. "Didn't like my chair?"
"I was hoping it wasn't where you were boinking Etta," she said dryly.
"She's not that sort of secretary, Cera." Etta was choking at her desk. "See?"
"Pity. You could use a good girl, Xander."
"The girls have decided they want me with Dean."
She quirked an eyebrow up. "I heard." She slid off the front of the desk. "Sixteen assholes later there's only two that we can't find of the original six. Others decided they were right and joined in."
Xander grimaced. "Where are the two?"
"Here." He stared at her. "I sent Gerald to watch over the girls with whoever you have with them. Etta called someone already to warn them."
"We have a former potential who aged out."
"Interesting." She slugged him on the arm. "C'mon, I need backup. You do pretty good at that and can keep up with a slayer. Unlike most guys. I *seriously* need a new guy, Xander."
"You live near a college, go find one," he told her. "Have Chris pick you out one."
"I tried. She's a slutty little bitch. I sent her to Buffy to straighten out. Buffy sent me back a swearing email for giving her another shallow little brat." Xander smirked. "How's Orlando doing with Talia?"
"Good. She's doing fine up there." He grabbed what he needed and followed her out. "Etta, hunting down the last of the bastards who want to hurt the kids. Tell Dean there's two locally. Gerald should be finding them soon. If not, I'll beat his ass for being so clueless."
"I can do that," she agreed happily. She called Dean's cellphone to pass on that message and canceled Xander's morning appointment with the cute detective. She would like to stare at him but it wasn't fair to make him wait around on Xander and Cera while they were hunting. It could take days.
Xander walked into the underground bar, going up to the bartender. He put down the two pictures Cera had of the stupid people. "Are they in here?"
"Who're you?" he asked.
"Watchers Council. They're some of ours and terminally stupid because they're going after my kids."
"Oh." He backed off. "They were about an hour ago, sir."
He smiled. "I'm Xander. I'm the new regional head. I'm from Sunnydale and a weapons and gear person. I'm only mean when you make me be." The bartender relaxed at that. "Where did they go?"
"Philip's Pub, down by the waterfront but it's a classy place." He looked him over. "You might not be able to get in."
Xander smiled. "The credentials work there too." He picked up the pictures. "Thank you. Let me know if you guys have problems. I'm in the office every day." That got a nod and he left. Cera quit checking her forehead zit in the visor mirror when he got in. "They went to a higher class pub."
"Miami has pubs?"
"Apparently one by the waterfront." He drove them that way. The map machine in the car was a godsend in this case. They found it and he got out, buttoning his over-shirt back up. The door guard gave him a horrified look so he pulled out his official ID, holding it up. Then the two pictures. "Ours, being bad. Need spanked. I can do it out here if you'll drag them out."
The bouncer took the pictures to look at. "One's inside. I haven't seen the other. Wait here." He went in to get the idiot. They had seen the former head a few times before he went psycho. He walked him and the man with him outside. "Them, sir?"
"Well, one of them. You are?" he asked the other.
"The regional head, boy. You?"
Xander smirked. "The actual regional head. Second under Rupert Giles." The man blanched. "Cera, handcuff him. We'll sort him out later on." He smacked the other one into a building, knocking him out. "Good." They went into the trunk and he drove off. He knew the bouncer was probably warning some others. That was fine. It'd mean the idiot couldn't hide as easily. He pulled up in front of the lab's station, getting out and smiling at the officers. "Is Lieutenant Caine here or CSI Duquesne?"
"Both are, sir. Why?"
"Can you please tell them we found two more of the idiots who're trying to sacrifice my children. One's still in town but we'll be getting him soon."
"Sure. Are they properly secured?" he asked.
"They can't get weapons in the trunk." The officer just nodded and made that call for him. Two more officers came out. Then Horatio came strolling out. "Want two more?"
"Please. Were you just by the waterfront at a pub?"
"Yes they were. The other one I'll find after a drive-thru burger with Cera. Cera, this is Lieutenant Caine. He's the head of the felony crime lab. I handed over Preston's idiocy to him when we found the first body."
"Hi," she said with a smile and a wave. "The second one was with him and tried to say he had Xander's job. We have no idea who he is."
"That's fine. Better to be safe than have to kill him when he comes after the girls." Xander popped the trunk for him, letting the officers get the two green looking people out. "I think you have an exhaust leak, Xander."
"Possibly but it's her rental, Horatio. I'll tell the rental desk that."
"That would be reasonable."
"I'll tie the next one on the roof." He smiled and closed the trunk, walking around to get in. "You'll see us soon." He got in and drove them off. "He's actually very nice and calm when things happen. He had a scene with a wannabe black magic person and didn't even flinch."
"That's very cool of him. We need more cops that don't flinch where I am. Some of them see me getting milk at the corner store and nearly have a panic attack. It's like I can't do normal things."
"Want to switch out?"
"Nope. I like my quiet corner of the UK. It's peaceful and there's lots of fields to goof off in if I ever find a new boyfriend."
"Okay. If you want to switch, let us know."
"I can do that." They drove to another section where he might be headed.
Xander paused in front of some guys on the street corner, getting out to lean on the hood. He held up a picture when one looked over. "Idiot trying to kill my daughters. Have you guys seen him down here buying from anyone?"
"Who're you?" one asked. "A cop?"
"A watcher. I'm the holder of the apocalypse vault from LA."
The guys stared and one made a call, looking at him. "Name?"
"Alexander Lavelle Harris."
The guy repeated that then hung up. "He checks clean, guys." He came over to look at it. "He was with the boys up the road. Wanted a gun with tranq darts for some reason."
Xander smirked. "I have three girls he decided he wants to kill."
"Someone will need to use the dart on him to save him," Xander assured him. "Is he still there?"
"Nope. Been about an hour. I have no idea where he's going. You need stuff?"
"I might someday soon but right now we've got leftovers from there and Cleveland. If something that huge hits Miami, I'll donate and then come to refill." The guy smirked at him. "Honestly. Thank you." He handed over a fifty and got back into the car. He drove them off. "Tranq rifle."
She considered it. "The house?"
"You can't get a shot off at the house from the road and Dawn put up anti violence wards around the land." He considered it then headed for the school. He called the principal on the way. "It's Harris. One of the people after my girls was said to have bought a tranq rifle. I have no idea. I know you have guards, can you have them do a quick check?" He smiled and nodded. "That'd be fine, thank you. Heading your way actually." He hung up and considered it then called Horatio. "He has a tranq rifle. I'm heading for the kids' school. I don't know if he'd go there or how he'd know it was their school. The guy getting into my desk wouldn't have found it in that drawer. Please." He hung up and went back to tapping the steering wheel with the music.
"Xander, nervous habits are annoying," Cera complained a few minutes later.
"Sorry. I'm thinking."
"I know. Still annoying. You hum off key and are tapping off rhythm."
He shot her a grin. "Sorry. I'm but a humble, imperfect man according to Buffy and Willow."
"Willow needs screwed worse than I do, Xander. It'd make her calm down the magic stuff again." He groaned, shaking his head quickly. "Not that horrible but probably bad. Buffy had to yell and send her back to Devon. She stopped in on the way there."
"Hopefully this time she won't try to end the world." He had a thought and found his phone to call the office. "Etta, call the school board, see which public school my girls would've went to please?" She put him on hold while she did that. "Thank you," he said when she reported back. "That's where?" He nodded, driving that way. "We're in the car. I've got one and the guy who was pretending to be me. We know this one has a tranq rifle. Be careful and alert the guards." He hung up, heading that way.
None of the old line would expect his kids to be anywhere but public schools. They all knew he didn't have money. He drove around it, looking for the most likely spot. "Etta said he's partially trained. Failed military." He found a good spot and went to check it but something was drawing him off. The playground. He went to find the spot there, finding him. "Ha, got you," he hissed in his ear, making him flinch. Xander slugged him, getting in two good ones before the guy managed to avoid and get out of his way. Xander hit him again and knocked him back down.
Cera grabbed the gun to make it safe, then tossed it back into a bush. She saw a security guard and a cop heading their way. "This one was trying to kill the boss's daughters. I tossed his gun in the bushes, Officer." She turned when someone screamed. The guy was locked by Xander's block. Xander had just broken his arm too it looked like. "Oh, let me play," she demanded. "Piss drinking moron!" She kicked him in the back, knocking him down to sob and hold his broken arm. "Asshat."
Xander looked at her then at him. "I don't even think a condom comes close to what he is, Cera."
"Huh?" she asked.
"Asshats. Condoms used during gay sex? Like we used to call them Jimmy Hats for het sex?"
She shook her head. "Now I know why Buffy's so damn warped, Xander." She kicked him in the hip when he tried to move, hearing a crunch. "Thankfully I wore the chunky boots today. Faith would be proud."
"Yes, he...she would," he agreed.
She looked at him. "Really?" she asked dryly. He gave her a smug look. "Damn. Which one?"
"Caleb. He has very few memories."
"That's still cool." She looked at the officer, who was watching them. "Which cop was that we dropped the others off with?" she asked Xander. "Cane?"
"Lieutenant Caine, with the crime lab. He and a bunch of his buddies are trying to take three of my girls as a blood sacrifice. Why he came here, since my kids don't, I'm not real sure."
"No one would put up with your children unless they had to by law," the man on the ground sneered.
"That's why they're reading at a fourth grade level in kindergarten?" The man moaned, shaking his head. "Or the fact that a few of them have skipped now and then?" He leaned down. "Just because I'm a bit dyslexic doesn't mean they are." He kicked him again, making him scream in pain.
"Help me," he told the officer. "He attacked me."
Xander looked at him. "Call Lieutenant Caine please?"
"Definitely, sir. That way he can straighten all this out and do the paperwork."
Xander smiled. "He's a foreign national anyway. They'll deport his stupid ass."
"I'm sure they'll have fun." He made that call through dispatch, getting an answer back to go with the beaten person, he was not the victim, and to take the gun as well. He did that, heading with him to the ER, where the nice Lieutenant would meet him to sort this out for him.
Cera looked at Xander. "I deserve a treat."
"Do all girls see me and see that I give out treats?" he asked her. "My girls beg for popsicles all the time. Anya always wanted one. Now you too?"
"You're too tough for me, Xander. Is that tall one free?"
"The girls want him with Dawn but if you want to try your hand, check with her."
"Cool. I might."
"He's got a son and a brother with a daughter."
"I saw and thought about creamy filling," she admitted, nodding at the guard. "We would've been more subtle but he had it pointed at the playground, dude."
"That's fine. Thank you, Miss. Sir." Xander nodded, walking her off. He went to calm down and make a report to his bosses and the principal. They weren't going to be happy but thankfully it was averted. They'd have to put up cameras out there now.
Xander looked up as the nice lieutenant walked into his office. "Did they get deported?"
"They did. Mr. Giles called to swear about them as well. So we kindly sent them to his former office in England so he could deal with them." Xander smiled at that, nodding some. "You could have let us help, Xander. It would have been easier and better."
Xander leaned back. "Lieutenant, I'm realistic. You have over a hundred guys to catch every month. My daughters are more important to me than they would be to you or your team. Just because you have other cases you have to handle. Beyond that, I could ask gang kids if they had sold him anything and hit the underground bars that your people couldn't. As well as being the most overprotective parent on the face of the earth about my children. If I was having that much trouble, I would have called. I'll be honest and tell you
I will call if I run into that sort of problem. That's also why I handed them over so I wouldn't kill them. I know myself too well."
"The ones you sent to the ER were quite injured."
"I kept my temper in check that much, Lieutenant. Otherwise you'd be cleaning up tiny parts."
"I can understand that urge."
"Yes, but most of us who have that urge don't have the training I have to make it so."
"True. Which is why we worried."
Xander shrugged. "Hunting them isn't any harder than hunting vampires who want to kill and play with us. I admit I did lose my temper, but this time it was more personal to me than trying to attack me."
"I understand." He smiled slightly, taking off his sunglasses. "Next time, call us first to warn us, then go hunting?"
"If I hear of another one, I'll try."
"Thank you." He smirked. "Those files were very helpful. Did you know he owned the property you're living on?"
"Only if he paid back the money he stole from the Council to buy it." He found that entry and handed it over. "He bought it with Council money, even if he put it into his name. That makes it ours I believe. Some lawyer might not agree but he didn't have anyone to protest it. I've already filed to have it seized along with his off-shore accounts. Our lawyer knows we're living in the remaining buildings."
"Good to know. May I?" Xander nodded. "Anything else coming up?"
"Not that we're aware of. The hellmouth in the Keys is doing all right at the moment. It's nowhere near starting to open. The demon commune down by it is acting all right at the moment. No overt problems that I've heard of. The girls working locally are doing fine most of the time. Dean had to help in Orlando once. They've got information coming in on a hunt upstate as well. So I'll be hellion sitting that day." Horatio smirked and nodded at that. "They are. Evil little hellions most of the time."
"Most children are," he assured him dryly. "Thank you for not killing them."
"I do try not to. Now, if they had my daughter bleeding already? All bets are off."
"Good to know." He walked off with that new information. Xander was definitely an overprotective parent for a good reason.
Xander sent an email to the Council's lawyer about the crime lab having all that information on Prestons. Then he got back to his paperwork. He hated paperwork. The break had been a nice one. If the paperwork had been like it was last Friday, he would've swooned at the nice lieutenant's feet with a cry of 'my hero'.
Missy pouted at Bri, her usual evil helper. "Daddy said if we did any more plotting this year he'd ground me and send me to school far away with mean women who hated men."
"Daddy threatened us with mean nuns," Bri admitted, grimacing as she sat next to her friend. "We need to be more sneaky. Your daddy even got onto us about reading all the time."
"Us too. He had us watch MTV one night so we could see all the skanky hos on the videos." She shrugged. "I asked to make Uncle Sammy blush, but he only said they're fake. I won't have to look like that. Daddy did say I couldn't have roller skates afterwards."
"Your dad and uncle are much cooler than ours," she complained. "Daddy growled at us last night."
"Yes." She pouted at her sister, getting an eye roll. "She didn't have any." She looked at her partner in mischief. "How are we going to make them see that we have to stay together?"
"I don't know. They're still saying being locked in there isn't the same thing." They considered it. "Handcuffs?"
"Daddy can pick locks," Bri told her.
"Uncle Sam can too." They went back to considering it. "Oooh! The stuff Etta got delivered the other day?" She bounced some, beaming at Bri. "She said they would be like rings."
"Maybe," she said. "I don't know what they do. I don't want to hurt them. I really don't want Daddy to be hurt."
"It was in English. We can read what was written on the package."
Bri gave her an evil smirk. "If that doesn't work, maybe we'll talk to the big guy who delivered the triplets?"
"Ooooh. Daddy would be *so* pissed if we talked to someone like him." She glanced around. No one was paying attention to them. "Isn't he a demon?" she asked more quietly.
"Yeah but he's not really bad. Daddy said we can't yell at him." She considered it. "Maybe we can ask him if those won't work?"
"Daddy would beat me."
"Fine. I'll ask." She beamed. "We'll see what happens. I'll make sure it won't hurt them." The bell rang and they went back inside from recess, heading to their desks. The teacher was very nice to them and they'd get to read some today since there was playtime.
Bri walked into Caleb's room. "I need help."
"Is Daddy going to be mad at us?" he asked, starting to frown.
"No. He'll be happier." She smiled. "C'mon, it won't hurt and Daddy won't yell. We're going to talk to the one who gave you to us."
"He only comes when Daddy calls."
Bri smiled. "We can call him if we work together. He likes you."
Caleb pouted. "I don't want grounded too. Or even spanked because Daddy might if we try that. You know how he can be when we talk to demons."
"I know but he won't mind this time. I promise." Caleb gave him a dirty look. "If he does, I'll cover for you. That way you don't get grounded away from the books."
Caleb grinned, nodding. "Okay. Where are we doing it?"
"Out back. C'mon." Caleb got off his bed and went out with her.
"Could've sworn it was bedtime," Xander said from his spot doing dishes.
"It's pretty and still light, Daddy. I'm going to teach him how to ride Missy's bike." She led him outside. That was a good excuse. She nodded at Missy to distract her father and uncle while she took Caleb and Adanne out back with her. "Here, send up a quiet yell for him, Caleb."
"D'Hoffryn?" he called quietly. "Bri needs to talk to you." He heard someone walking their way so he stopped. That wasn't a demon. It was a people. He pointed for Bri's benefit.
Adanne moved to protect them, knocking the person out as soon as they came out of the trees. "Uncle Dean!" she yelled. "Intruders!"
He came jogging back. "What are you guys doing back here?"
"Looking for frogs," Bri told him. "Caleb was reading a book and I thought I heard one. That way he could look at a real one."
"Fine," he muttered, looking the guy over. "I don't know him."
"I knocked him out," Adanne said proudly.
"Good job, Adanne." He hauled him up with a grunt, hauling him off. "Come out front, guys."
"Let me find the froggy first," Caleb complained. "That way I can have a pet too." Dean just shook his head. He looked around then up. "Mr. D'Hoffryn?" he called quietly. Another demon showed up. "You're not a Mr. D'Hoffryn."
"No, but I'm one of his people. What's up, kids?"
"I wanted his help to help Daddy," Bri said with a smile.
"Why would he help your father?" she asked, looking confused.
"Our daddy's Xander and it would keep us safer," Adanne said with a smile. "You're over which one?"
"Children hurt by adults." She stared at them. "Speaking of, you guys should probably head around front where there's more people."
"We just got one," Caleb complained.
"There's hardly ever just one, kids. Shoo. I'll tell the boss to see if he wants to be asked." They ran off. She shook her head, going to find her boss. "Two girls and a boy, who was marked by you, were just calling for you. The middle girl wanted you to help her daddy Xander?"
He groaned, shaking his head. "Harris," he told her. "Some of his spawn."
"Ah. That makes more sense then." She nodded. "They had someone try to grab them so I answered when they called for you. I said I'd tell you."
"I'll check on them tonight. Thank you."
"Welcome." She went back to work.
He watched over the children. The other one sneaking around the grounds was attacked by a lesser demon that was living in a tree, bringing everyone running when he started to scream because his leg was being eaten after being ripped off. Sam got the kids inside to call 911 while they tied his leg shut from the bleeding. That was nice. It was nicer that Xander only sneered that he deserved it for being near their kids. He looked a bit stressed. D'Hoffryn waited until everyone was in bed, then appeared in the girls' room, poking the one who had called. "Adanne, you needed something?"
"Bri did," she hissed. "To help Daddy."
He nodded, going to wake her up. Adanne followed, being a good, overprotective big sister. She had learned well from her father. He woke her up. "Briony, you needed something important?" She held up the letter she had written out so their father didn't wake up. He read it over then smirked. "He will yell."
"They need to realize it so the pack stays strong," she told him quietly.
"I made sure he won't wake up, children." He sat on the foot of her bed. "He will be quite upset."
"We already consider them married so we'd have to ruin whoever they went out with. That would be really mean, right?"
"Yes it would."
"And Daddy says she's enjoying being evil," Adanne added quietly. "Because she and Missy Winchester have been making plots."
"Some day you two will make a wonderful set of hunters, girls." He looked over the request. It was easily doable. He had an idea to make it easier though. "Is this the only time you want to use them?"
"No, Uncle Sam and Auntie Dawn need help too," Bri assured him. "We tried a makeover but he realized it before coffee and Auntie Dawn only flirted more."
He smirked at her little evil genius plans. "I'll see what I can do. Either of those will know if I come near them."
"Which is why we want to put something like cuffs on them," Bri told him. "They won't wake up if we sneak in to cuddle. Just grunt and cuddle back."
He nodded. "Good point." He smiled, patting her on the head. "Some day you may become one of mine, Briony. You have a very good planning mind." He stood up. "I'll see what I can do." He disappeared.
Bri smiled at Adanne. "Thank you."
"Welcome." She went back to her own bed and snuggled back into the warm spot. Maybe this time Daddy would just accept it instead of fighting about it. He needed to accept it.
Dean woke up and looked around. He was in his room but something was wrong. "Sammy?" he called, sitting up. No answer. He checked around again. Nothing was obviously out of place. He checked himself over. That's when he noticed he had a bit of bling that he hadn't been wearing before. Underneath his warding bracelets was a simple looking, flat, thin silver bangle that wasn't too loose, just loose enough to be able to move around his wrist. He touched it. It felt normal to him. "Where did you come from, the jewelry fairy?" he muttered. He grabbed his sweatpants to put on over his boxer-briefs and walked out, going to wake his brother up. Sammy had one on his wrist too. "Huh." He gave him a shake, getting a murderous look. He held up his brother's wrist with the hand that had his bangle on it.
Sam glared at it. "I don't own anything like that."
"Me either," Dean said, shifting his.
Sam grimaced. "That's not good."
"Probably not. I felt something off."
"Let me see if Dawn's wards went off." He got up with a groan, grabbing his robe. Dawn's car was outside so he called her phone, getting one grumpy witch. "Dean and I both woke up with .... bracelets, yeah. Why?" he asked when she started to mutter about wearing one. "Can you check the wards and them, Dawn? I know you have to work today." He smirked at his brother. "Thank you. We'll be here after we take the kids to school." He hung up. "She's wearing one too. Hers has blue stones."
"Ours are plain," Dean said, looking his over. "No clasp, no inscription, no runes, nothing. Just plain silver."
Sam checked his then shrugged. "I don't know yet. Let her see if she can find out anything." They heard a yell from a male voice. "Xander's not happy this morning."
Dawn came jogging in, taking Sam's wrist to look at. "Fuck, he was right. It is demonic," she muttered. She looked up at him. "Did you make a wish?"
"No," he said carefully, staring down at her. "Why would I have?"
"It's wish magic. Like Anya was. That's how Xander recognized it." She looked at Dean's then sighed. "Thank god, yours isn't set for me." She let his wrist go. "Let's get the kids to school. Then we can figure this stuff out. I'll call off today." She muttered as she walked back to their house, staring at the kids who looked really tired for some reason. "Did anyone have any nightmares last night?" she asked.
Xander lifted his head from his cereal, looking at his evil genius in training. "Bri," he said dryly.
"What?" she asked, giving him an attempt at an innocent look.
"You lie like crap, girl," Dawn told her. "Who did it?"
"We asked Uncle D'Hoffryn his advice on how to make you less stubborn," Adanne said quietly.
"Since when is D'Hoffryn an uncle?" Xander asked.
"Since he gave us siblings to play with." She stuffed her mouth.
Dawn stared at them. "I was doing just fine on my own, ladies."
Amanda snorted. She usually stayed out of the way of this argument but she had to stick up for her twin. "If you were, you wouldn't have spent your night off with us." She stuffed her mouth too.
Bri nodded, swallowing between bites. "You'd be giggly with Uncle Sam." She stuffed her mouth again.
Xander looked at Dawn, who was looking like she was going to beat them to death. Dean walked in and started to grab backpacks. "Thank you."
"We'll beat them later. Once we know what they did this time."
"They asked Uncle D'Hoffryn's advice on how to make us quit fighting their wishes," Dawn said dryly.
Dean looked at the girls. "Was my daughter involved in this?"
Bri shook her head. "No."
"Who talked to D'Hoffryn?" Xander asked. Adanne and Bri raised her hand. He looked at Dean. "Can you make sure they have a safe day at school while I vent and scream at the office?"
"Sure, we can do that then beat them later. It's the weekend tomorrow, the others won't see them limping." He got the kids down to the van, taking them to school.
Xander looked at Dawn. "How are these usually set?" he asked calmly.
"No clue yet. Let me look some stuff up." She went to grab her laptop, eating some leftover toast on the way.
Dean handed the girls to the principal. "Their evil plans got too evil last night. Keep them safe today please."
"Are they in trouble?"
Dean smirked. "A lot. They were talking to people they shouldn't have and other neat things."
"Oh, yeah. So we're going to be using the school day to calm ourselves."
"They can have some detention tonight. That'll give you an extra half an hour."
"That might save them," he admitted. "No playing this morning," he told Adanne since she was headed for the playground. "Go inside, sit at your desks, and be good children today for a change." They ran for the door. He looked at the principal. "One of us will pick them up later. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Mr. Winchester." She waited until he had gone to go talk to the girls. "What did you do that upset him that badly?"
"We made sure that the family pack is very strong and that he'd quit fighting with us about marrying Uncle Xander," Missy said with a happy smile. "That way I don't have to make any girl he looks at insane to drive her off of my daddy's lap."
Bri nodded. "That way our daddy gives us a good stepmommy," she agreed. "We like Uncle Dean that way. Plus Uncle Sam and Auntie Dawn. So we made sure of it."
The principal looked at the children. "Usually you're all such nice, well behaved children." She went to call Xander's cellphone. "I've given them detention so you have an extra half an hour. They told me that. Are you all right?" He growled something. "I understand. Of course they won't have recess or library time today, Mr. Harris. I know how much the children like to read. No, if they come in limping on Monday I won't call anyone. I hope you can straighten them out. They're usually such nice children." She hung up and made a note to those teachers so they wouldn't let those brats outside or to the library. Really, some children were just spoiled. Clearly her other students had been having a bad effect on those ones since they usually acted so much better.
Xander came off the elevator and the wards lit up around him. "I know," he called. He turned them off. They came back. He turned them off again. They came back. Dawn came off the elevator and shut them off when he started to growl. "Thank you," he said.
"It's annoying," she assured him. They walked past a horrified looking Etta. "The kids talked to D'Hoffryn last night and did something about their plans to marry us off. That's all the wards caught. I'm heading for the library. Please call Willow and wake her up? I know she's in England." She headed that way.
Xander went into his office to send an email to Cera and Buffy. One of them could easily beat his daughters into better behavior. Because he might not stop if he started wailing on them.
Etta leaned in a moment later. "Xander, do you need anything?"
"Check the spell closet for Dawn. She's got to figure out what our new fashion accessory is," he said, holding up his wrist.
"That's a bonding bracelet." His head lifted slowly. "Um, they've been used in the past to bond demon clans together to form a larger one if I remember my demonic history correctly." He continued to stare. "I'll tell her that," she said, fleeing from him. She had heard he had a temper. Clearly it was high today. "They're bonding bracelets. Look at the clan reformation of 1886, Miss Summers."
"Thank you." She found that book and went to the section the index said covered it. She leaned back to read, going over the dry account of how two warring clans joined into one larger one. She looked at the bracelet then at the office. "He won't like being the wife," she muttered, going back to her reading. "D'Hoffryn should probably run," she decided when she finished. She got up, taking the book to the office. Dean and Sam were in there. "Etta told me."
He read over the section, looking at his. Then at her bracelet. "Uh-huh." He went back to reading. "Anything else on them?"
"I've only started to look. That's the info Etta gave me."
The brothers nodded, Sam getting up to help her while Xander got the book to look over. Xander looked at his wrist. "I don't think I want to be a wife," he told Dean. Who snorted but looked slightly happier at that weak joke. "We'll have to see how it plays out and if we can get the things off." His phone rang. "Harris," he answered. "Hi, Giles." He leaned back, waving Dean to stay. "Yes, there was a slight magical problem last night. Adanne and Bri decided to talk to D'Hoffryn. They wanted help with their plans to get me and Dean Winchester married. Plus Dawn and his brother Sam hitched too. We woke up this morning in what appears to be bonding bracelets. No, mine has pretty stones. Both Winchesters are plain silver. Do we know anything about them? Dawn called off to help Sam research."
He listened then made a note on something. "Saw that mention already. Etta told us." He made another note. "I'll pass that one. Any clues, Giles?" He grimaced. "Think our redheaded temper tantrum could?" He shuddered. "No, leave her there then. We'll figure it out. Thank you for the intel. No, we're fine. The kids are at school so we don't kill them but we're fine." He smirked. "Exactly. Thank you, Giles." He hung up. "Sam, Dawn?" Sam walked back in. He held up his notes. "From Giles, other mentions he's heard of with these very nice artifacts that can't be removed without using powers stronger than the demon who placed them."
"Willow's where?" he asked.
"Devon. She nearly snapped and went back to being scary, veiny Willow again when she got gaybashed visiting Buffy."
"So she's probably out?"
"She's back to working on her control of her magic addiction."
"Wonderful," he muttered, walking off to look those up. Dawn knew where they were so he got one, she got the other, and they sat down to plot how to beat their kids without getting CPS called on them.
Xander was walking the kids into the office when Willow and Buffy appeared. "Come to beat my heathens?" he asked Buffy.
"Maybe. Giles said you're probably panicking a lot. Why?" He held up his wrist. "Shiny and subtle. Not your usual taste."
"D'Hoffryn put them on us after the girls talked to him."
Buffy looked at them. "Slayers aren't allowed to be evil. That makes them a rogue slayer and therefore bad."
"It makes Daddy happier," Missy told her.
Dean looked out of the office at her. "Not really. I do like girls, Melissa."
"Girls don't understand you, Daddy. That's why you got for the cheap looking hos with big titties and booty shorts."
Dean groaned, going back to the couch in there with his headache. Willow walked in to look at his wrist. "I tried to remove it earlier. I got a sudden splitting migraine from the flash of Xander's thoughts."
She grimaced. "That's not a good sign." She tested it magically, then went to check on Dawn and Sam. "At least this one likes to research," she said in greeting.
"They picked the better hunter for Xander and the researcher for me," Dawn said, looking up at her. "They both have kids too."
"I remember. Hi, Sam." She tested his bracelet and then hers. "Let me do something." She found the magical clasp on Dawn's and she nearly shrieked in agony when she tried to open it. "Nope, non-removable."
"Don't kill my sister," Buffy yelled. "I'd hate to make you give birth to her the next time, Willow."
"I wasn't, Buffy. Chill." She went over it again. "There's a few subtle runes on the other side." She ran her finger around the underside. "I can't tell what they are by feel."
"I don't think I can regenerate a hand if you cut it off," Dawn said dryly.
"It'd probably plant itself on the stump if I tried," Willow said, backing off. She fed Dawn some healing energy then looked at Sam. "I don't think they can be removed. As for the magic, it's not tainting you any that I can find."
Dean strolled in. "No taint?"
"Not that I can tell from Dawn or Xander. I know them better so I'd feel new taint. We might have to ask D'Hoffryn to take them off." A letter floated down addressed to her. She opened it and read, then went pale. "If we remove them you'll spend a week in hellish pain from being inside your chosen mate's mind then die from it," she said, handing it to Dawn. "It's a permanent link. Even past death." She looked at Dean. "Treat my Xander-shaped friend well or I'm going to beat you to death with a shovel then use it to split your body parts up for easier burial. Got it, mister?"
"Sure, but I don't like boys. That's going to be a problem."
"Not really. It says the bracelets were built to overcome those problems by teaching you how to do it and fixing anything that might restrict the getting together," Dawn said, handing it to him. "It does note that it won't work past birth control however. So we're safe there if we slip." She looked at Sam. "It also says it's charmed to encourage more physical bonding, at which time the bond will grow closer until a natural mate's telepathy is formed slowly enough that it won't kill us."
"Won't happen unless we both want it to," Sam said quietly. He took the letter from Dean. "Xander?" he called.
"Minute." He came in a minute later. "I had to put two of them into uncomfortable positions in corners so they can't move." He took the note to read, then sighed, looking at Dean. "I tried gay sex. I didn't really like it that much."
"The letter says it'll help with that," Dawn told him. She went back to her research. Just because D'Hoffryn was very powerful didn't mean he knew everything. There might be a way to open it without dying. Sam did the same.
Willow looked at Xander. "Want me to talk to them?"
"Joyce tried with Tara and the boys' dad. Apparently it didn't work real well."
She grimaced. "Joyce could make Buffy see sense and calm Dawn down when she was bouncing. She couldn't get through to yours?" He shook his head. "Do we want to send them to school for a bit? Cera has some excellent ones near her." Xander growled, making her back away. "Not to threaten, Xander, but to keep them out of trouble." The growls got deeper so she fled for her life.
Dean patted Xander on the back. "Calm down. She won't hurt the kids. We'll hurt the kids but she won't." Xander sank into a chair, holding his head. He heard the elevator ding and looked out there. "Lieutenant, bad timing."
"Is there an emergency?"
"The girls went to a higher demon to have them magically married," Buffy said, smiling at him. "Hi, Buffy Summers, senior slayer."
"Pleasure to meet you, Miss Summers. I'm Lieutenant Caine, with the crime lab." Xander leaned back to look out the door. "There you are. The lawyers and judge wanted to talk to you."
"We've been trying to get unmarried today," he said dryly. "What happened now?"
"The judge doesn't think that the Council can seize assets to cover what he embezzled."
"Yes it can," Sam told him. "Any first year law student could argue that one."
"Then perhaps the judge is a problem," Buffy asked.
"Could be," Dean agreed.
Xander sighed. "I hate being in a command position." He called him from his cellphone. "It's Xander. I heard from the Lieutenant. No, I've been dealing with the problem the kids caused. D'Hoffryn actually." He looked up. "If he's a demon, let me know." A new letter floated down. "Hey, a banishing charm for a judge that's a demonic scarab beetle." The lawyer shuddered, he could hear him. "So, anyway, yes we can seize it." He smirked. "Really? Then we can surely protest and file an appeal since that's the law, Timothy." He hung up and sighed, calling someone else. "It's Xander. I'm calling in that poker favor. The Council needs a good lawyer to handle a demonic judge in Miami over the last regional head's issues. Thank you. We're here." He hung up and called the lawyer back. "You're getting help," he said then hung up. He leaned back to rub his eyes. "This is a cluster fuck in the making."
A demon appeared. "For a fee I can fix it for you," he offered with a giant smile.
Dean pulled out a gun and shot him. "No thanks. Don't like deals like that, dude." He put his gun back and went back to helping them research.
Xander looked at the dead demon then at Dean. Buffy said it though. "Xander would've done something like that. Good job sucking his mind into yours, Dean." She fled when Dean glared at her.
Horatio looked then at the boys. "That was probably not a good thing to do, boys."
"It's a demon," Xander pointed out. "He brought it on himself by coming to try to make a deal right now." He looked at him. "He deserved it."
"Fine. I'll make sure no officers come near the house anytime soon."
Xander smirked. "Let them try. We do have protections." He went back to helping research. Dawn got up to protect the house. Horatio left and an hour later a pissed off looking man came off the elevator. Xander nudged Dean, turning to look at him. "Even judges have to follow written law, Your Honor." He went back to reading.
"You're a blight," he sneered. "Not even a proper watcher."
Xander stood up to look at him. "No, you're right. I'm the power behind the old slayer line," he said smoothly, smirking evilly at him. "Born and bred Sunnydale baby and, yes, a hunter too." The judge backed up, looking horrified. "As for the law, it's very clear. If you try to ruin it, I'll let my girls be evil on you instead of on us. After all, they need a new target now since mine won't want more siblings." He moved closer, making the other man back off. "As for the lawyer, we'll see what's going to happen to him since we're not sure he was working in our interests." The judge started to splutter. "Now, I do know what you are and how to send you back," he snarled. "This is starting to border on threatening my children." The judge fled. Xander went back to the research table then looked at them. "I'm going to head home. I think I need to summon something." He grabbed a book and walked off looking very smug.
"I've seen that same look on Bri's face," Dean quipped.
"Yup, that's where they got it from," Dawn agreed, smirking at him. "Xander's been too tired to be evil for a while. The kids really do tire him out." She went back to researching. At least until Etta ran in and babbled, turning on the small tv they had in the corner. They all watched the demons fleeing downtown Miami. "Hmm. Xander's not happy."
Etta stared at her in horror. "He did that?"
"The judge tried to bend the law to get us evicted from the property."
"Oh, dear. Mr. Giles....."
Dawn gave her a look. "Giles is going to rant, rave, clean his glasses a few times, have a scotch neat, and then say they deserved it for going near him and the kids." She went back to reading. "He was impressed that Xander hadn't destroyed the last ones in Cleveland." She turned a page. "But go ahead and tell him." She floated the phone over when it rang. "Watchers Council, library." She listened. "Yup, that's him, Willow. Because the judge tried to screw up too. Sure, you do that." She hung up. "She's going to take whatever funky spell it is that makes Xander have chaos around him off soon."
Sam and Dean watched as the judge came running at him with a sword and suddenly changed into a walking bug with a sword. Xander defeated his weak skills with his own blade and moved to handle the next one. "Did he cause that or is he just taking advantage of it to wear out his temper?" Dean asked finally.
Dawn looked. "The demons heard that rumors about the Council having problems. They tried to overtake the city. Xander's just doing what a Xander does. Hey, Buffy? Xander's off beating the snot out of a lot of demons."
She came in to look and sighed. "Xander!" she complained. She headed out. Outside a cop car came screeching up. "Take me to him. That's my job, not his."
"Who're you?" the officer demanded. "We were told to come get Mr. Harris!"
"He's already there. I'm a slayer, take me to him!" She got in and he sped off. Cleveland and Rome's officers were so much nicer, but less cute than this one. It proved to her that handsome guys were asses. She got out once they got to the area of the problem, walking over to pick up a demon and shake him. "Don't make me break a nail."
"It's Summers!" he shouted. The others started to flee.
Xander pulled something out and fired it at the escaping ones. The net caught a lot of them. "Try it again," he snarled, staring at one whimpering at his feet. The judge. "If you do, I can remember Sunnydale fondly. I haven't seen an apocalypse in over a year." The judge whined and tried to move but two of his six legs were broken.
Buffy put down the one she was holding, walking over to look him over. "Injured?" He shook his head. "Good." She smacked him on the head. "Stupid! You're not a slayer!"
"Shut up, Buffy." He looked around. "Anyone else wanna piss me off?" he yelled. "I can get other slayers here. Cera needs a vacation. She'd like the time in a bikini." The rest limped off to hide and eat the more wounded. He looked down at the judge, smirking some. "Welcome to my Miami. Have a pleasant stay and quit causing trouble or see me again, next time with my baby."
"The girls are too young to fight," Buffy pointed out.
"My battle axe," he said, glaring at her.
"Oh, that one. Can you maybe calm down? You have SlayerMS."
"It's been a long day," he told her.
"Clearly. Maybe you should try gay sex again? It might make you calmer. It does me when I find a nice guy."
He sneered. "Not with what you date."
"Pot. Kettle," she retorted.
"Children," an officer shouted.
"Fuck off," Xander told him. "I backed her up for years and had to watch her date dangerous assholes." He looked at her. "How's your newest one?"
"They just arrested him for killing and eating three people." She shrugged. "Yours?"
"He's probably researching."
"He was when I left. How's B'letta?"
"Helped the kids plan Sam's makeover."
"At least she wasn't evil, even if she was an assassin." They walked off together. "Cleaning crew?"
Xander turned and looked back at the area. Then at the officer. "I can have someone do a flame spell if you want. That way there's no clean up."
"No thanks. We have an incinerator that should do, Mr. Harris."
Xander nodded. "Call for the next one and I'll come kick butt again." He walked off, hiking back to the building. Buffy kept up with him. "What am I going to do about this?" he complained. "I don't want a husband. This thing marks me as the wife. That's why they got the simple one and I got the decorated one."
She shrugged. "Can you do anything but accept it?"
"Dawn said it'd draw you together."
"He's straight. I doubt that'll help him any."
"The letter said it'd compensate and help with that problem."
Xander grimaced. "I'd rather have it because he wanted me, not the bracelet making him."
"Good point. I know that's important to you. What is that one's thing about skanky hos?"
"Her daddy tends to date them. Her uncle told her to call them that."
"Oh," she said, nodding some. "Makes sense then. You're definitely not one of those."
"No but I don't have the equipment he'd like anyway."
"Maybe it'll be like a friendship marriage, Xander. That could be good for both of you; more backup when the girls start to plot next time."
"They can't have siblings so it won't be that bad."
"True. Maybe they'll try to fix their teachers up."
"The kindergarten teacher laughed about them plotting to hitch me and Dean."
"See, no more laughy teacher," she said, making him snort but look happier. She looked behind them. A cop car was following really slowly. "I think they're worried, Xander."
Xander turned and waved. "Heading back to the office, guys. Shoo, go back to saving the rest of Miami." He took a shortcut down an alley, letting her walk with him. "I don't know what to do about this yet."
"You'll figure it out, Xander. You know you will. You always do. No matter what sort of evil thing you date."
"Dean's not evil. He's a hunter."
"Demons would consider him evil. Willow pointed out that evil was relative to where you were standing and looking. Unless it was universal evil like a hell goddess or a Nazi."
"I guess that's a good point," he admitted. He glanced back, one officer was still following them. Buffy took his arm to make him keep walking instead of turning around to talk to him. "I'm not used to departments that don't ignore things."
"Me either. Rome tends to complain a lot and want priests to come make sure I'm right now and then." She shrugged. "They're strange that way."
"Makes me long for Sunnydale again," he sighed.
"Some days, yeah. It was a lot easier to run across than either of our cities are. Plus no one cared if the demons ate the statues in Sunnydale. They freak out in Rome." He nodded at that. "What're we going to do about the evil, plotting ones?"
"I tried, they tried, your mom and their dad tried. I'm out of options outside of spanking the hell out of them."
"I think all kids have a little bit of hell in them, Xander. I did. I heard you did." He nodded, grinning some. "Maybe their evil plans are done with now that they've got what they wanted."
"Maybe," he decided. He waved back at the officer. "We're right there, dude. Go relax."
"Sir, we need to make sure nothing else ends up needing to be cleaned up," he said firmly.
Xander smiled. "No, I'm not going to use the sword on the kids who hatched evil plots and talked to demons to get their way. Spanking possibly. Well, probably, but not the sword."
"If you say so. We still need to make sure, sir."
Xander sighed. "If you must. Having a nice walk?"
"It's very pleasant not to have to run after people, yes, sir."
Xander smiled. "I like you. You should patrol around the demon areas more often since you have sense."
"I'd hate that. So would my family when it drove me insane."
"I hunted the bad things like that for years," he told him. "Insane is a matter of opinion."
"I'm Southern Baptist, sir. It'd be fairly quick. My preacher is going to have a long talk with me tonight about this before I go home."
"Religion makes a lot of people feel better," Buffy told him with a small smile. "I'm Rome's slayer and the senior one. I've seen lots of priests looking for why things happen." He just nodded at that. He escorted them to the door, watched them get on the elevator, then called that in and phoned his minister next. They came off the elevator, finding both Winchesters waiting on them. "All cleaned up."
Dean stared at her. "That was bad."
"No, that was a pretty minor push for more power and area," Xander told him. "Like gangs fighting."
"No, Lieutenant Caine said that was bad," Sam told him with a long look over them both. "Injuries?"
"Few scratches, nothing major," Buffy told him. "We're old pros at this, guys. We had nightly hunting in Sunnydale." She walked him into the library, finding the nice lieutenant in there waiting on them. "Hi. Cera said she had met you. Buffy Summers."
He shook her hand. Maybe she had short term memory issues and forgot their earlier meeting? Possibly from too many head injuries or hair dye too often? "Lieutenant Caine, Miss Summers. Mr. Harris, I thought you were supposed to warn us."
"If I had any warning I would have. I was stomping off in a snit when they started and I moved in to handle it, Horatio. Sorry."
"I suppose that does happen. Not that often?"
"No, not that often," he assured with a smile. "They thought the rest of the Council was being tanked by demons so they decided to make their move for more room to grow and host their families. Basically like a gang wanting more area."
Horatio nodded. "I can understand that urge. Is it possible for the ones who ...made their move to leave Miami?"
"Most of them are injured and a lot of the ones in the area would eat them for being so weak and bringing attention," Buffy told him. "Therefore no more problems and less slime on our clothes when we have to go hunting."
He nodded once at that. "I can see that happening. Thank you for handling it. Xander, call your lawyer?"
"I did earlier and got him some help since the judge wasn't human and trying to be pushy about the laws bending too. So was our lawyer."
"Interesting. Did I see him there?"
"Yeah, the red one that attacked me was him. Pity but his choice, not mine. I only defended when he attacked me."
"Good to know." He slipped back into his sunglasses. "I have had a talk with the children about how evil thoughts and plans often landed you in our holding cells. They may be suitably scared straight but we do offer tours."
"I'll tell their principal so she can arrange it. We've already had one racist set of boys who attacked them. Thank you."
"Not a problem. This time." He shook their hands and left.
Buffy waited until he was in the elevator to whistle. "I need more guys like that in Rome. A bit dangerous, a bit forceful. Kinda hotty but not too cute so they're not assholes. Might understand the calling because he's got a similar job only with humans." She sat down, fanning her face. "I needed those happy dreams tonight."
"If we don't need them, there's an apartment set upstairs," Sam offered dryly.
She smirked. "After I threaten you properly to treat my little sister nicely."
"I'd never mistreat anyone who was mine, Buffy. I'd beat the hell out of anyone who tried to hurt her, but never her. I only hurt the bad things that're hurting others."
"Good," she said with a smile, standing up. "Because you don't want to know what an enraged slayer can do to a human body. All the extra strength and speed would do really nasty things that I'd hate too clean out of my clothes." She walked past him.
"I don't get threatened?" Dean asked dryly.
"Nope. Because if you hurt Xander, it won't be me that'll do it to you. It'll be Willow turning you into something she can play with magically for a good, long time." She smirked back at him. "We'd have to give you a merciful death eventually so she'd quit playing with you." She got onto the elevator and headed up to the apartments. They were pretty nice. The beds were even comfy. Better than the one above the office in Rome.
Xander looked at them. "She might sic Willow on both of you. I'll try to stop her though. We know this isn't your idea or your thing, especially not you, Dean. We'll be buddies who happen to have odd looking jewelry that's permanently stuck on us. Which will suck for flying." He looked at Dawn, who was asleep behind her book. "Long night again?" he asked as he carefully took the book. Sam came over to help her to the couch in the corner. She swatted but let him guide her stumbling body that way. Xander looked at Dean. "If you want permission to find some busty, young, cute thing, let me know. I'm not mean, Dean."
"I'll keep that in mind but I don't cheat."
"This isn't your idea. It's not like I'd expect a commitment thanks to this being done to us. I'm realistic that way." He stood up. "Let's notate the move making thing and then get back to our research." He walked into his office, waving at Etta. "We're all good. Buffy's upstairs taking a nap."
"I saw her. I started the regional notes." She handed them over with a smile. "You looked very nice with the sword, Xander."
"Thank you," he said with a smile. "Had to teach myself." He looked it over, adding a few more lines than handing it back. "To Giles. Any word from Egypt?"
"Not yet. They missed their weekly check in."
"I'll call a contact out that way then," he decided. "The kids still sulking in the office?"
"Good." He went in to grab his phonebook, walking out while searching for the number. He took Etta's phone to call there. "Pierre, Xander Harris." He listened to him babble at him. "Did they win or should we send more help? I warned him he'd need artillery. I did when I had to handle one." Dean gave him an odd look from the doorway. "Former watcher over Paris." He went back to listening. "That's fine. Tell her I need a sit rep and I'll get her a new watcher within hours if Giles doesn't. Can you sub?" He smiled. "Thanks, man. Tell her to call once she's awake. I've got Buffy here but her crew is probably closest if she needs more help or a vacation. Thank you, Pierre." He hung up. "Her watcher died, she's exhausted and beaten up. She's got a broken wrist but it'll heal pretty well he said," he noted as he dialed the main office. "Giles, me. Egypt was fixed by the slayer, barely. Her watcher ended up beaten to death and she barely beat it too. Pierre is waiting on someone to sub in. I've got Buffy here but if she needs a sub, get her one of Buffy's crew?" He smiled. "It's going fine right now. No, that one's solved. Etta's faxing it now." She turned to do that. "There you go. Let me know who you're sending, Giles." He hung up and looked at them. "Dawn told him?" he asked his secretary.
"I told him we were having problems. Others may have told him as well. I thought he should be aware that we're having some issues down here that aren't exactly the norm for the council's people."
Xander smirked. "It's a Sunnydale thing but we're all trouble magnets in our own way. Buffy's got a celebration curse that brings demons. I find trouble everywhere. Dawn too. Willow can be her own trouble sometimes." He stood up. "Thank you." He went back to the library. "Okay. Any hope?"
Dean shook his head. "Not so far. What did Giles say about this stuff?"
"He said he remembered you being very nice and upstanding. So if I went with the girls' plan then he'd gladly accept you as an in-law into our strange family. If not, he hopes that we can at least remain friends since I need more male influences and help down here."
"Do you really think he'd cheat?" Sam asked.
"I'm realistic, Sam. I'm not built like the skanky ho patrol his daughter seems to think he likes. I'm pretty sure Dean's never tried gay sex. Even with the bracelets helping, I doubt it's his thing and I'd hate it to happen because some piece of enchanted metal decides it should. If it happens, it does. If he wants to start a real relationship with me, then I'm not going to do more than enjoy it while it lasts. I know I drive people nuts." Sam sighed but nodded at that. "So yeah, I'm seeing problems with even a start being made. If he wants and it's not because of the magic, then I'm not going to do more than be a spoiling boyfriend sort. That's the guy I am. But I want it to be real, not because of the magic."
"I can understand that," Dean assured him. "That's about how I feel too, Xander."
"So you'll figure out if that's what you want and then we'll talk," Xander told him. Sam scowled. "I'm more used to my bad girls making the first move, Sam. I'd have no idea how to do that. Anya didn't teach me that. Only how to spoil."
"I've had a few longer girlfriends but nothing like a real relationship. We'll figure it out together, Xander." Xander smiled and nodded. "Then we'll let Sammy hide when Dawn hits PMS and tries to get her own way again."
"Those days, I have a Milky Way in my desk for her," he said dryly. "It helps keep me unscratched and her unmagiced." They stared at him. "Hormones and magic, bad combination. That's why teenage witches have so many problems."
"Good to know," Dean decided, looking at his little brother. "I'll help you hide."
Xander smirked. "Now all we have to do is talk to the new judge." He called the lawyer. "Set up a meeting with the new judge? Because the old one attacked me during that incident. Exactly. Thank you." He hung up. "His helper is there. He'll help him fix this so it's not a problem."
The Winchesters smirked. Sometimes Xander turned into a bigger bastard than their father. But in a cute way. They could definitely see hanging with this family for a good, long time. In fact, Dawn was mumbling Sam's name in her sleep so it was all good. Even if Dean did have to figure out gay sex and Xander. Right after they figured out how to straighten out their evil little spawns and dealt with D'Hoffryn.
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